10 Times Gotham Has Strayed From Canon

Barring a comeback in a few years, the current season of Gotham will be its last. Now in its fifth season, this fan-favorite show has been making waves from the start because it has taken creative liberty with Bruce Wayne and his eventual friends and foes.

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Fans wanting an original product tend to love Gotham but those who desire a faithful portrayal of Batman and the titular city may not like some of the choices the show makes. As the show nears its end, CBR has decided to take a look at some of the most significant ways it has strayed from the canon established by decades of Batman comics.


In the comics, Leslie Thompkins, like Jim Gordon, is usually depicted as a good person who’s trying to assist Gotham’s less fortunate. The comparison doesn’t end there; as with Jim, Gotham corrupts Leslie. In her case, the show transforms her into a villain when she’s infected by Alice Tetch’s blood.

Later, Leslie rises to power in the Narrows and teams up with the Riddler (before they double-cross each other.) Clearly, she’s still a good person at heart; she went to the Narrows so she could help people. Still, working with the Riddler isn’t a good look for someone who tends to align herself with the Bat-Family.


jim gordon on gotham

Jim Gordon isn’t a white knight in the comics, nor is he a perfect cop. But, in Gotham, he’s practically a villain sometimes. The show depicts Gordon as someone who, after some hesitation, will do what it takes to help Gotham.

Jim’s goal is usually to protect the city but he does some questionable things to do so. He’s taken people out and worked with the worst criminals. He was responsible for Professor Pyg’s reign of terror and he brought Sofia Falcone to the city. In the comics, Jim has made a lot of mistakes but he hasn’t done half as many objectionable things.


Gotham Solomon Grundy

Everybody knows how a certain nursery rhyme relates to one of Batman’s most monstrous villains. On Gotham, though, Solomon Grundy’s origin story didn’t stay true to the comics. For the first three seasons, Butch Gilzean is an enforcer for Gotham’s crime bosses, including Barbara Kean.

When Barbara seemingly ends Butch’s life, it’s revealed that Butch’s real name is Cyrus Gold. From there, Cyrus becomes Solomon Grundy. But, in the comics, the character’s backstory isn’t nearly as rich; he’s simply a murder victim who came back to life. In this case, the show definitely improved on the canonical version of the character


As with Solomon Grundy, it’s fair to argue that Gotham’s portrayal of the Penguin is an upgrade over the source material. In the comics, Oswald Cobblepot isn’t typically a sympathetic character; he’s quite unlikable. Plus, his physical appearance makes it easy to see why he’s called the Penguin.

However, in the show, Oswald looks like a fairly average person. Until he gets his famous limp, he doesn’t have the mannerisms of his comics counterpart. Plus, on an emotional level, he’s a more dynamic character. (In the comics, Oswald tends to be consistently cold and calculating.) Gotham makes Oswald an occasional anti-hero, which makes him easy to like (sometimes.


Given the premise of the show (an exploration of how Gotham functioned before Batman,) perhaps it was inevitable that the Caped Crusader would show up eventually. If Gotham had been limited to two seasons, it may have been easier to avoid Batman’s shadow. That being said, the show still made it clear that Bruce was always progressing towards his inevitable career as a crimefighter.

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By the end of season three, Bruce finally took his first plunge into his role as Gotham’s protector. In the comics, though, it took many years for Bruce to actually begin this journey. He didn’t truly begin training until he was an adult.


On one hand, the actual identity of the Waynes’ assassin isn’t inherently important. Bruce Wayne didn’t learn who it was until 1948 (or roughly nine years after Batman’s debut.) But, of course, this tragedy created the Dark Knight so the man who held that gun is naturally famous.

In the canon, Joe Chill was revealed as the culprit in Batman Vol. 1 #47. Through the years, Joe has been a recurring villain and his story has been rewritten several times. Gotham technically changed this history; it established that Matches Malone was the man responsible. However, the show recreated parts of the eventual conflict between Matches and Bruce.


As the fifth and final season rolls along, one of Batman’s most notable villains is missing. The fans still haven’t met Two-Face. Sure, the show introduced Harvey Dent (played by Nicholas D'Agosto,) who has appeared in six episodes. But, whereas other characters have completed their transformations into their villainous selves, Harvey remains the fairly virtuous lawyer he used to be.

He hasn’t experienced the attack that irrevocably changed his life. While there’s still time to change him into Two-Face, at this point, that seems unlikely. As a result, Gotham might leave out one of the most famous members of the Dark Knight’s rogues’ gallery.



One of the most significant differences between Gotham and the comics is the relationship between between Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle. In the show, they become friends in their preteen years and their connection takes some twists and turns before budding into a reluctant romance.

In the comics, the characters who would become Batman and Catwoman didn’t know each other canonically until Bruce returned to Gotham in Batman: Year One. Even then, they weren’t friends right away. They still developed a legendary relationship but it took a different path, to say the least. (Both versions of the romance have frustrated fans in similar ways, though.)


Several important Gotham characters don’t actually exist in the comics and Fish Mooney is arguably the clearest example of this pattern. Fish was one of Carmine Falcone’s top lieutenants but she staged a coup to gain power for herself. Throughout the series, Fish wages war with Oswald Cobblepot and she turns him into the Penguin.

Shortly thereafter, she essentially becomes a metahuman and briefly teams with Oswald, her former rival. Fish consistently held an important role on the show and she shaped Oswald into who he is today. Yet, she has never appeared in the comics so she’s a stark diversion from the canon.


Gotham Barbara Kean

Like Fish Mooney, Barbara Kean has become an essential part of the show despite her lack of an important presence in the canon. Barbara, unlike Fish, exists in the comics. She first appeared in Batman: Year One, where she was James Gordon’s first wife and the show stayed true to this fact. From there, Gotham made Barbara its own character.

She and Fish have a lot in common; they’ve been crime bosses, nightclub owners and both have experienced resurrection. (Also, they’re both bitter enemies of the Penguin.) The show has also teased that Barbara is Harley Quinn but those hints probably won’t pay off.

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