Based on the popular Batman franchise, Gotham aims to be a prequel to the story of how Bruce becomes the Caped Crusader. Along with telling young Wayne’s story, the show also introduces the backstories of other iconic characters, such as Jim Gordon, who is determined to bring justice to the crime-ridden city and many of Batman’s notable villains. Gotham is currently on its fourth season, the previous season ending with a glimpse of Bruce donning a makeshift suit and cowl. Promising to deliver even more surprises and bad-guys for the young hero to face, this new season is already drawing attention with the introduction of the mysterious Ra’s Al Ghul and creepy Professor Pyg.
As the seasons have progressed, so have the various storylines and characters. The villains have undergone drastic changes in their pursuit to become the baddest in Gotham, and the heroes have often encountered situations that questioned their morals. That journey hasn’t always been pleasant and viewers have witnessed some questionable and even disturbing moments in the show’s history. Even the mild-mannered young Bruce Wayne has threatened to go off the edge long before becoming the Batman. Below are some examples of times when the show took things beyond the PG-13 rating.
20. SELINA KYLE KILLS REGGIE
Never corner a cat or else you’ll get pushed out a window. This lesson Reggie Payne learned too late. In Season 1, while on the hunt for his parents’ killer, Bruce encounters a former friend of Alfred Pennyworth. Little does he know that Payne’s been hired by Wayne Enterprises to spy on him, learning what secrets he’s discovered.
After stabbing Alfred and leaving him for dead, Bruce pursues Payne and, aided by Selina Kyle, attempts to interrogate him. Bruce threatens to throw Payne’s “medicine” out a window if he doesn’t cooperate. After revealing that he was employed by Wayne Enterprises, specifically the Director of Physical Operations, Bruce allows Payne to go free, taunting him while doing so. Angered, Payne threatens Bruce. While attempting to retrieve his “medicine” by leaning out the window, Selina does the one thing Bruce can’t bring himself to do and pushes Payne, watching his fatal fall.
19. NYGMA’S PERSONALITY DISORDER
Season 1 of Gotham introduced many iconic villains who were barely beginning to embrace their darkness. Edward Nygma was presented as a socially awkward forensic scientist with a fondness for riddles. His nerdiness charmed fans, delighted by his quirky antics and sympathizing with his need for recognition from his peers at the GCPD. But there were hints that Nygma was repressing something.
It became clear Nygma was hiding a personality constantly threatening to make its presence known. This entity was defiant, much more confident and ruthless than innocent Nygma. The two were always in conflict about how Nygma should lead his life. After failing to earn his crush’s affections the conventional way, Nygma stalks her abusive boyfriend and in a heated confrontation, repeatedly stabs him. This gradual descent into madness allows his other personality to take over until Nygma finally embraces his role as The Riddler.
18. THE NYGMOBBLEPOT FEUD
Traditional Batman fans were angered when an unexpected alteration was made to their accepted canon. As the seasons progressed, Oswald Cobblepot expressed his queerness, his respect for Edward Nygma turning into romantic feelings. Supporters of the dubbed “Nygmobblepot” romance applauded the show for introducing LGBT characters.
Starting out as partners in crime, aiding each other’s pursuit toward making a name for themselves, Season 3 deepened their partnership with Cobblepot elected mayor and Nygma as his Chief of Staff. Tired of his feelings being “one-sided,” Oswald expressed his affections but was thwarted by a romantic rival and Nygma’s uncertainty of his own feelings. This led to a dramatic feud between the two ending with the pair almost killing each other within the span of two seasons. Season 4 further emphasizes their conflict with Oswald struggling to regain his title as King of Gotham and Nygma trying to rediscover his Riddler persona.
17. PENGUIN KILLS ISABELLA
Finally gaining the courage to express his feelings for Nygma, Oswald is soon confronted with a heart-wrenching discovery. Nygma has met someone and fallen desperately in love with her. Coincidentally, this new lover bears an uncanny resemblance to his last girlfriend who he accidentally murdered.
Fueled by jealousy, Oswald attempts to interfere with the relationship, trying to convince Isabella that Nygma’s troubled past will come back to haunt them. Not being one to scare easy, Isabella pays no attention to Oswald’s threat. Fearing her stubbornness will ruin his chances of being with Edward, Oswald has Isabella’s break wires cut and she is tragically killed by a speeding train. In his devastation, Nygma is left with no one but Oswald as a shoulder to cry on.
16. BIRTH OF THE SCARECROW
Another traumatizing villain introduction was Jonathan Crane. After suffering a tragic childhood, he grew up reluctantly helping his father kill people using their worst fears. His father Gerald is convinced a serum he’s created will put an end to fear. After using the serum on himself to overcome his guilt over his wife’s death, Gerald tries convincing Jonathan the serum will cure him of his fear, too.
Terrified, Jonathan runs into an open field but is cornered by his father. Gerald injects his son with a large dosage of the serum, leaving a paralyzed Jonathan to stare upward at a scarecrow. The image burns itself into his mind as a constant reminder of his trauma. When he’s transported to the hospital, it’s revealed Jonathan’s stuck in a perpetual state of terror. The episode ends with a scarecrow-like figure clawing its way toward the terrified Jonathan.
15. FISH MOONEY’S FIGHT CLUB
Portrayed by a fierce Jada Pinkett Smith, Fish Mooney is a nightclub owner working to de-throne Falcone as king of the criminal empire. Mooney demands respect, dealing with those who don’t show it in the harshest of ways. After a failed attack, Mooney punishes Oswald by beating him with a chair, breaking his ankle. But her cruelty doesn’t stop there.
Fish auditions two young girls vying to be the headlining songstress at her club. Though the first looks promising, she fails the second part of her audition, which involves seducing Mooney herself. The second girl, Liza, appears to edge the other girl out by kissing Mooney, but the calculating crime lady isn’t convinced quite yet. Torn over her decision, she makes the artists fight to the death to earn the position. After briefly hesitating, Liza viciously attacks the other girl, clawing her face and smashing her head against the pavement.
14. MOONEY SCOOPS OUT HER EYE
In one of the most “OMG” moments on the show, Mooney evades being attacked by scooping out her eye with a spoon and crushing it with her foot. The scene, available to watch on Youtube, barely lasts a few minutes but leaves quite an impression on viewers.
Imprisoned on Dulmacher’s island, Mooney assumes control over fellow inmates by promising better living conditions and an escape plan. She learns their captors are using them for body parts and abnormal experiments. She attempts to converse with the island’s manager, hoping to reach a compromise. Though it appears he’s willing to hear her out, he quickly turns on her. He orders his men to restrain her, threatening to take her eyes and send her back to the prison to be killed by the other inmates. In a dramatic display of her determination to survive, Mooney shows she won’t be taken down so easily.
13. GORDON AND PENGUIN KILL GALAVAN
Gotham is known for its intense action and often graphic violence. But even the most unaffected audiences had trouble stomaching the brutal killing of Theo Galavan at the end of Season 2. The corrupt mayor, hellbent on reclaiming Gotham, deceived many and suffered greatly for doing so.
After kidnapping Oswald’s mother, Galvan forced Penguin to kill rivals that threatened his candidacy and plot a fake assinatination attempt, forcing witnesses to vote for him out of compassion. When Galavan’s sister kills his mother right in front of him, Oswald is enraged and vows revenge. After almost killing Bruce Wayne, Gordon arrested Galavan but is persuaded by Cobblepot that there is only one way to end the madness. He allows Cobblepot to vent his rage by savagely beating Galavan with a bat before shooting him at point-blank range and dumping the body in the river.
12. AZRAEL’S DEATH BY BAZOOKA
It’s well known in Gotham that no one ever truly stays dead. After his death, Theo Galavan is brought back to life by Hugo Strange, believing he is the resurrection of the ancient warrior Azrael. Strange uses this to his advantage, sending Azrael to kill Jim Gordon.
Thoroughly convinced he is the immortal savior of Gotham, Galavan as Azrael dons makeshift battle armor and a fake sword and runs around the city believing he is on a quest to rid it from evil. His attempt at being a menacing figure pursuing justice is downright hysterical and his plans are foiled at every turn. First his “ancient weapon” is easily broken by Captain Barnes, then he is run over by Bruce and repeatedly shot by Gordon. Finally, in jaw-droppingly epic fashion, Azrael is blown away by Oswald’s henchman with a bazooka.
11. MAD LOVE
Season 3 introduced Jervis Tetch as the Mad Hatter who was deeply devoted to his sister Alice. It is suggested that in his obsession, Jervis was both mentally and sexually abusive toward Alice, whose infected blood has the ability to amplify people’s rage. In order to protect her, Jervis has her sent to Indian Hill.
After the inmates escape from Indian Hill, Tetch employs Gordon to help find his missing sister. Once reunited with his sibling, Tetch makes her dress up as the Lewis Carroll character and begins to harvest her blood to use as a weapon against Gotham. As the GCPD attempts to apprehend him, Jervis tries to escape with his sister, admitting his love for her. Frantically trying to escape her brother’s embrace, Alice accidentally slips and falls off the balcony and onto a pike, instantly killing her. Devastated by the traumatic loss, Jervis vows revenge.
10. GORDON KILLS LEE’S HUSBAND
After parting ways with Gordon, Leslie Thompkins moves to Atlanta and falls in love with Mario Calvi, son of Carmine Falcone. The two move back to Gotham, celebrating their engagement, much to Gordon’s dismay. The two frequently butt heads, engaging in fist fights over who loves Leslie more.
As payment for the loss of his sister, Mad Hatter begins introducing the Tetch Virus upon Gotham and Mario becomes infected. His anger is fueled by his jealous suspicions that his beloved still has feelings for Gordon. Despite his warnings, Leslie ignores Jim and goes through with her marriage to Mario and the two escape to a private lakeside house. Gordon manages to follow them, interrupting Mario’s attempt to kill Leslie after learning she still cares for Jim, and shoots Mario in the chest. Angered by what she perceives as betrayal, Leslie’s hatred for Jim begins to grow.
9. EVIL LEE
Convinced Gordon is nothing more than a murderer, Leslie’s vengeance takes a drastic turn when she injects herself with the Tetch Virus. She instead blames herself for Mario’s death, convinced she’s still madly in love with Gordon. Desperate to be with him again, she begins to orchestrate a series of events to bring them together.
She kidnaps Jim, burying him underground, leaving him with the choice of dying or taking the virus and being with her forever. Leslie’s transformation from a kind-hearted individual to an egotistical femme fatale is embarrassing to watch. Her new look is a cliched stereotype of the classic “bad girl,” consisting of skin-tight, revealing outfits and heavy dark makeup. When reunited with an infected Jim, the two appear as knock-off versions of Neo and Trinity from The Matrix, him wearing a black suit and tie, and her in a trench coat, complete with dark shades.
8. ALFRED’S RESURRECTION
Fans of Batman sympathize with Alfred Pennyworth having to deal with Bruce’s wild shenanigans. As the young Wayne’s caretaker, Alfred has to be the one to prevent his Master from getting into trouble. Rarely is he successful in that endeavor.
Season 3 jumpstarted Bruce’s path toward becoming the Dark Knight. At the end of the two-part season finale, Bruce appears to be veering from his destined path and toward a much darker one. He becomes more enraged, fully determined to bring swift punishment to the evil that lurks in Gotham. Alfred, realizing Bruce has been brainwashed, tries to reason with him but to no avail. Bruce follows Ra’s Al Ghul’s orders and stabs Alfred only to realize his fatal mistake too late. But when all hopes seems lost, he remembers the Lazarus Pit’s healing powers and conveniently brings Alfred back from the brink of death.
7. OSWALD FEEDS HIS STEPMOTHER HER OWN CHILDREN
One of the most disturbing acts of Season 2 is Oswald’s revenge for his father’s murder. Seemingly “cured” of his madness, Oswald visits his mother’s grave where he encounters Elijah Van Dahl who makes the realization that he’s Oswald’s father. The character is played by Paul Reubens, reprising the role he played in the Tim Burton film.
After reuniting, Elijah welcomes Oswald to his home where he meets his step-family. It’s clear his stepmother Grace and step-siblings aren’t welcoming, fearing their plans to inherit the dying man’s fortune will be thwarted by Oswald. Grace’s attempt to poison Oswald is prevented by Elijah inadvertently drinking the tainted wine and dying in his son’s arms. Discovering his step-mother’s indiscretion, Oswald cooks a surprise meal for her. Horrified by the sudden realization she has eaten her children, Grace tries to escape but is brutally stabbed by Oswald who’s reverted back to his violent ways.
6. JEROME’S ATTEMPTED BUS FIRE
A proto-Joker was introduced in Season 1 in the form of Jerome Valeska. The deeply deranged character killed his mother, maniacally laughing during his interrogation and was sent to Arkham Asylum. In Season 2, he leads a breakout group called “The MANIAX!” and begins a terrorizing reign over Gotham.
In his brilliant insanity, Jerome and his fellow escapees steal a fuel tanker, and spying a bus full of cheerleaders, decides to have a little fun. After handcuffing all of the passengers, he sprays them will gasoline intent on setting them ablaze. Thankfully, his lighter fails to work and before he can try again, he flees from the GCPD’s attempt at apprehending him. Had he been successful, the scene would have been the most violent and controversial act the show has ever attempted. But Jerome’s savagery doesn’t end there.
5. JEROME KILLS COMMISSIONER ESSEN
Jerome’s reign of chaos runs wild when he infiltrates the GCPD, orchestrating a brutal massacre of the entire police force. During the bloody rampage, he takes Commissioner Sarah Essen hostage, tying her to a chair and threatening her. Unfazed by his childish attempts at attention, Essen calls Jerome “crazy”, saying no one will remember him after this.
Jerome, offended by this, says his influence “will spread across [the city] like a virus.” Angered by his taunts, Essen headbutts Jerome who only reacts with insane laughter. He then fatally shoots her and later broadcasts the murder spree on live television, calling for people to “wake up” and realize how compliant they’ve become in their monotonous lives. He ends the broadcast by saying “you ain’t seen nothing yet” and laughing.
4. BRUCE ALMOST KILLS JEROME
Every Batman fans knows two things: Joker is his greatest enemy and he has an unbreakable “no kill” rule. Every adaptation features an epic showdown between the caped crusader and the clown prince of crime. As Heath’s Ledger’s version said, “I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”
In a heart-pounding Season 3, Bruce comes too close to breaking his rule. Drawing inspiration from The Killing Joke and Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Bruce plays a cat and mouse game with Jerome at an amusement park. The two square off in a room full of mirrors, goading each other on before Bruce tackles Jerome from behind. After exchanging blows, Bruce gets the upper hand, savagely beating Jerome into submission. In the heat of the moment, Bruce grabs a shard intending to stab Jerome but stops himself, realizing he isn’t meant to be a killer.
3. BARBARA KEAN BECOMES STABBY BABS
One of the most disturbing character transformations is that of socialite Barbara Kean becoming a sadistic killer. Once the former fiancee of Jim Gordon, Barbara was timid and often emotionally conflicted. After being left by Jim for another woman, she becomes a victim of “the Ogre.”
As “the Ogre,” Jason Skolimiski preys on young attractive women, forcing them into a romantic relationship with him. When his “true love” eventually displeases him, he tortures and kills her, beginning his pursuit again. He crosses paths with a vulnerable Barbara and soon realizes she’s not like the rest of his victims. Brainwashed into falling for him, she kills her parents to prove her devotion. Long after his death, the trauma she suffered leaves a lasting impression drastically altering her personality. Nicknamed by fans as “Stabby Babs,” Barbara reinvents herself as a murderous siren intent on becoming a criminal leader of Gotham.
2. GROWN UP IVY
Fans were confused by the announcement that little sprout Ivy Pepper would be replaced by an older actress. Played by Clare Foley (14), the role was given to 28 year old Maggie Geha in 2016. The switch was due to writers being uncomfortable with sexualizing a young girl. To speed up the pubescent transition, they introduced a storyline involving Ivy rapidly aging into an adult, forcing Geha to portray a 19 year old woman with the mentality of a preteen.
Uncomfortable audiences watched Ivy struggle with her newfound sensuality, her immaturity and ignorance getting her into trouble. It’s been announced the role will be recast again with Peyton List taking over. According to some sources, Peyton’s Ivy bears a resemblance to Uma Thurman’s version in more ways than just appearance, as she wants to bring about a global plant-based revolution. Season 3 ended with Ivy drinking a vial of mysterious liquid, triggering a strange reaction.
1. GORDON CAN’T KEEP IT IN HIS PANTS
Who knew Jim Gordon was such a ladies-man before Gotham? Played by Ben McKenzie, young Gordon is first introduced as a homicide detective dedicated to cleaning up the streets of Gotham. His first case is the Wayne murder, putting him directly in Bruce’s path. While he works with the best of intentions, Gordon isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if necessary, leading him to make deals with some very troublesome people.
Throughout the seasons, Gordon has had a number of love interests. The first two were Barbara Kean and Leslie Thompkins. Both suffered traumatic events that drastically altered their personalities. Barbara became a calculating killer, while Thompkins recovered and went on to marry another man. In Season 3, Gordon has a minor fling with spunky journalist Valerie Vale, who ends up getting shot. In the new season, he finds himself falling for Sophia Falcone, daughter of mob boss Carmine Falcone.
Can you think of any other instances when Gotham went way too far? Let us know in the comments!
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