Comic Book: Two-Face

I am a lawyer. Yes. We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice. Insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure of the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. God bless America.

I am a liar. No. We the acid scarred bitches of history of evil and hypocrisy exalt criminals to office. Vietnam, El Salvador, Chile with lovely missiles, roaring bombs of the rich and the white and the pious and burn children and torture women. Forever and ever, amen. God bless America.

Two-Face is a fictional character, a comic book supervillain who appears in comic books published by DC Comics, and is another member of Batman's Rogues Gallery. Two-Face was originally Harvey Dent, Gotham City's district attorney and an ally of Batman. However, Sal Maroni threw acid at him during a trial, hideously scarring the left side of his face and scarred him mentally as well. Dent went on to adopt the "Two-Face" persona and became a criminal, choosing to bring about good or evil based upon the outcome of a coin flip. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #66 (August 1942), and was created by Bob Kane.

Alongside the Joker and Ra's al-Ghul, Two-Face is one of Batman's greatest enemies, but not because of the threat he poses to the rest of the world. Instead, he reminds Batman of how far the greatest can fall, and how he cannot save all of his allies - Batman's feelings of guilt that he failed to save his old friends and constant attempts to 'redeem' Dent remain one of the biggest themes of the character.

The character has appeared in multiple Batman media forms, including video games, animation, and the Batman film series. Billy Dee Williams portrayed Harvey Dent in Batman, Tommy Lee Jones portrayed Two-Face in Batman Forever, Richard Moll voiced the character in Batman: The Animated Series, and Aaron Eckhart played both the district attorney and his villainous alter ego in The Dark Knight.


Character Provides Examples Of:

  • Abusive Parents: The most common depiction of his father. Eye of the Beholder adds the wrinkle that not only did he hit Harvey, but always gave him the illusion of a 50-50 chance with the infamous coin. Half of Harvey knew the game was rigged, while the other half wanted to believe his dad.
  • Adaptational Villainy: The Beware the Batman version of Harvey is a hater of Batman, and isn't above hiring Deathstroke of all people to take him out.
  • Amoral Attorney: Averted; he was an incredibly honest and hardworking D.A. before he had the little run in with the acid.
    • Played straighter in the New 52, where Harvey was a defense attorney who specialized in getting Gotham's criminals off on technicalities. He reformed after becoming DA, however.
  • Anti-Villain: Sometimes. He used to be a good guy and his origin story is kind of tragic; but he still is a mentally unstable crime boss at the end of the day.
  • Arch-Enemy: While he's the (unknowingly) Big Bad Friend to Batman, Dick Grayson views him as this.
  • Ax-Crazy: In terms of being completely unpredictable; he can switch from a vicious but well-meaning antihero to a sadistic psychopath at any given moment. All it takes is one coin flip.
  • Badass Normal: Despite being one of Batman's most prominent villains, Two-Face doesn't actually have any special powers.
  • Batter Up: In what is arguably his most famous achievement, he violently beat Dick Grayson (still Robin at the time) with a baseball bat.
  • Beauty to Beast: As one side of his face shows, he was handsome before the acid incident.
  • Beneath the Mask: He was a successful and handsome district attorney before becoming Two-Face but he had some serous mental problems lurking underneath his charming, successful exterior. The acid incident caused them to boil over.
  • Black and White Insanity: Two-Face is sometimes portrayed as having this as the root of his multiple personality disorder.
  • Breakout Villain: In what was intended to be the last Two-Face story, Gilda jumped in front of Harvey's gun as he tried to kill Batman, and he went into a Villainous BSOD, swearing to stop his criminal ways if that was what it took to see his wife again. Although it wasn't that straightforward, by the end of the story he had sworn off crime and even gotten plastic surgery to erase his scars forever. Even when fans loved his character and wanted to see him back, the writers simply used impostors posing as Two-Face, until the very beginning of the Silver Age, where he interferes in a burglarly and gets dynamited to the face, and falls straight back into his coin-flipping ways.
  • Chronic Villainy: No matter how many times they repair his face, Two-Face always eventually comes back. On at least one occasion, the damage was self-inflicted, using a scalpel and concentrated nitric acid.
  • Companion Cube: If you are The Fatalist and you renounce your own free will by your habit of flipping a coin to decide what you do, the illogical extreme is to believe that the coin is this trope and you are taking its advice.
    • Once Batman found a devastated Harvey desperately flipping a coin, despairing that the coin seemed to land exclusively on the good side, asking an Armor-Piercing Question.
      Two Face: Fifty times in a row! What are the odds?
    • An issue of The Batman Adventures showed Two Face escaping Arkham without his coin, replacing it with any other coin, scarring a side and using it. He manages to save his fiancée Grace from a murder attempt and even the Batman himself by doing a Diving Save that left Two Face seriously wounded. It was not Two Face wanting to save Batman, it was the coin.
      Two Face: I need my older coin. This one is a pain!
    • Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth deconstructs this trope: Harvey's therapy is to replace his coin (two choices) for a dice (six choices). He then is given a tarot card (52 choices). Harvey cannot even decide to go to the bathroom on time. The last scene shows Two Face with his coin again talking to the tarot cards, like they are alive.
  • Crusading Lawyer: Back when he was Gotham City's District Attorney.
  • Cynicism Catalyst: He had plenty of problems beforehand (Depending on the Writer at least) but it was getting half his face scorched off that plunged him into nihilistic despair and the belief that only random luck governed the universe, rather than the noble and upstanding believer in the rule-of-law he had been beforehand.
  • Depending on the Artist: Readers will be lucky if the colors of his suit and scarred side wind up staying consistent through a storyarc. Sometimes he has hair on the scarred side (either bleached white or turned an odd color like green or purple by the chemicals), sometimes it's completely burnt off. Sometimes he doesn't have an eyelid or lips on the scarred side, or they're simply shriveled.
  • Depending on the Writer: Was Harvey Dent one of Bruce Wayne's best friends or did he consider Bruce to be a useless fop? Did Harvey consider Batman to be a great ally in the war against crime, or merely a slightly more benign symptom of what was wrong with Gotham? Is Batman tortured by feelings of guilt because he couldn't save Harvey? Is Two-Face a straight criminal, or a ruthless vigilante who only associates with criminals so he can disperse his twisted brand of 'justice'? The answers to these questions depends on if you read The Long Halloween, saw Batman The Animated Series or The Dark Knight. The main consensus in the main comics seems to be that yes, he and Bruce were good friends, and yes, Dent grudingly considered Batman an useful ally. The nature of his psychosis and morality changes so much it's ridiculous. The statement in Arkham Asylum about Joker's changing personality would likely better describe Dent.
    • Is Two-Face an alternate persona or isn't it? The latter was more of the case up until Crisis on Infinite Earths. His revised origin Eye of the Beholder depicts Two-Face as the manifestation of his outrage at the unfairness of the world, Crime and Punishment makes it the guilt and self-loathing born from his father's beatings, assuming he'd done something to deserve it, and Jekyll and Hyde made Two-Face a representation of Harvey's twin brother Murray (which other writers were quick to ignore).
    • Does the coin flip thus represent making a decision between morally right and wrong options, or choosing between which persona gets to make decisions, or can Two-Face cheat and re-flip it whenever he wants to?
    • Do Two-Face's two sides represent good and evil or reason and rage?
  • Doomed by Canon: Any appearance by Harvey Dent in a Batman adaptation (except the 1989 Batman, as that would be a build-up for Two-Face in a later sequel... which did occur, but with a different actor).
  • Driven to Suicide: Apparently in the New 52.
  • Evil Former Friend: Harvey Dent is shown as a close friend of both Batman and Commissioner Gordon before turning into Two-Face.
    • In fact, some iterations of his origin have portrayed the three as a Power Trio.
    • Depending on the Writer: Some continuities show Two Face hating Batman, but considering Bruce Wayne a true friend.
  • Eye Scream: Goes hand in hand with Depending on the Artist. Some artists depict his scarred side without an eyelid, or with an eye that's swollen and red. And a few draw a solid black circle where his left eye should be, implying that his left eye had been completely dissolved.
  • Facial Horror: Currently supplies the page image.
  • Fair Play Villain: Dent's modus operandi. He believes that chance (specifically, a coin toss) is the only fair thing in the world, and will flip a coin to make any major decisions. Of course, how "fair" this is can become skewed, such as flipping a coin to decide whether or not he should honor an agreement when the other party already held up their end of the bargain or doing multiple coin flips for every petty little thing.
    • Zigzagged in Batman Forever where Two Face at Wayne's manor, flips the coin on the same decision until he gets the result he desires, but at the final act agrees to flip the coin to decide Batman's death.
    • Averted at The Dark Knight when the coin dictates that The Don could live, but Harvey then uses is on the driver. They both die.
    • Averted at Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, After Two Face takes a therapy in Arkham that destroyed his personality, Batman asks to be judged by Two Face, he flips his coin, and lets Batman go. At the last scene, we see the scarred coin. Two Face left Batman go. Word of God says that maybe for the last time, Two Face takes his own decision.
  • Fallen Hero: Used to be district attorney and fairly good one too.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Dent generally feeds his obsession by wearing a suit split in two down the middle.
  • The Fatalist: This is Two-Face's philosophy, represented by his habit of flipping a coin to decide what he does. This is in direct opposition to the philosophy he had as Harvey Dent.
  • Flanderization: In his appearance in Joker's short-lived comic in the 70's, his Numerological Motif was played up considerably more than usual. As Joker notes, he couldn't even escape from the clown without throwing a bowl of pears at him.
  • Friendly Enemy: Two-Face waited for Batman to come take him away after committing a murder. Harvey Dent is one of Bruce's close friends, and one of the few relationships where the Bruce-centric version of their relationship seems more important than the Batman-centric version of the relationship to him.
  • Freudian Excuse: Being beaten as a child by his father. In fact, several versions actually state that this is where his coin came from in the first place.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Bruce Wayne has been known for going down to Arkham to play chess with Harvey Dent. An interesting example, as Batman was once friends with Harvey Dent, who is actually insane, unlike most super-criminals in Arkham.
  • Guns Akimbo: Much less than you'd think, but still there occasionally.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: With shades of Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking; Two-Face often tends to explode over damn near anything, even trivial issues.
    • In one issue, he and his gang are playing cards, and the rest of them are terrified that he'll set off when they start beating him, or other small stuff. He doesn't and actually laughs it off, and they let their guard down... then one of them spills some wine by accident, and he shoots the guy dead.
    • For a time, he was infatuated with Detective Renee Montoya, who he met during No Man's Land, and tried to woo her. Then she turns out to be a lesbian, and he goes ballistic and accuses her of "betraying" him.
    • In one comic book adaptation of Batman The Animated Series, Bruce and Gracie - Harvey's ex-fiancee before his accident - visit him in Arkham at a point he seems to be at last on the road to recovery; he himself notes that he's not using the coin as much, and he's genuinely grateful for the visit. Then The Joker suggests that Bruce and Gracie are seeing each other behind his back... and the predictable happens.
  • Heads or Tails: A coin-flip is his villain gimmick.
  • Heads Tails Edge: He constantly gets screwed over by this trope.
    • Sometimes justified: Batman had replaced it with a weighted coin when he wasn't looking.
  • Heel-Face Revolving Door: Gets cured of his mental problems only for his criminal side to eventually resurface and/or physical scars.
  • Hello, Attorney!!: A male example. Dent's incredibly good looks earned him the nickname "Apollo". Didn't last.
  • Hollywood Personality Disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder. Although varying based on the interpretation, he usually has at least five symptoms (personality disassociation, black-and-white splitting, mood swings, alternating between extreme idealization and devaluation, and frequent outbursts of inappropriate anger), which is enough for a diagnosis.
  • Humble Hero: During his tenure as D.A. After the accident, his self-esteem has predictably sunk even lower.
  • Idiosyncrazy: Originally, Two-Face was one of many gimmick-focused comic book villains, plotting crimes based around the number two, such as robbing Gotham Second National Bank at 2:00 on February 2.
  • Insane Equals Violent: He wasn't evil until one side of his face was ruined and (depending on the version) his insanity either began or became much worse
  • Insanity Defense: Being compelled to follow the flip of his coin, he is one of the few Bat Rogues to meet the real life qualifications for it to work.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Batman creator Bob Kane claims to have been inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, specifically the 1931 film version which he saw as a boy. Inside the same body lives a truly heroic guy named Harvey and a truly villianious guy called Two Face.
    • An issue of The Batman Adventures showed Two Face trying to get revenge from his father. One of his henchmen ask him why he doesn't flip the coin. Two Face answer that this is something Harvey and Two Face agree to do.
  • Killed Off for Real: In the New 52, apparently he kills himself.
  • Large and In Charge: Sort of. He's far from being the tallest Batman villain, but he lacks any real fighting skills or training either. He is still a big, intimidating man, however, and tends to dominate his underlings - and go toe-to-toe with Batman - by relying on size and his highly volatile moral compass.
    • Even the Joker, Ax-Crazy lunatic extraordinaire (and not exactly a small man himself) acknowledges that he has no chance of beating Two-Face in a bare handed fight.
  • Large Ham: Tommy Lee Jones played him this way.
  • Numerological Motif: Guess.
  • One of Us: In-Universe. He once addresses one of his Mook as a "Red Shirt". Said Mook doesn't know what it means:
    Two-Face: You never watched Star Trek?
    Mook: No.
    Two-Face: (shoots the Mook dead) Too stupid to live and be of any use.
  • The Paranoiac: Two-Face, though "officially" diagnosed as having a Split Personality, probably fits this better than anything (at the very least, the "Two-Face" personality is definitely paranoiac). He has Black and White Insanity and a bleak worldview down to a tee, as he literally makes nearly every decision based on a coin flip (and has a Freak Out if he ever loses said coin) because he thinks all laws and rules are based on random chance; he has an explosive temper, and once killed a lackey over spilling a drink; he murdered his mistress because "Harvey Dent is a married man" and later was livid to learn that a female detective he had been stalking was a lesbian and accused her of tricking him. Works such as The Long Halloween suggest that much of this attitude was present even before he became Two-Face, as that story showed a grim and humourless Harvey Dent willing to break the law to defeat the mob, having zero time for human relationships (including his wife) and maybe-or-not being the Serial Killer who was murdering mobsters and served as the Big Bad of the plot. A drunken and abusive father is also a consistent feature of his backstory, as is the implication that Harvey is mistrusting and pitiless as a result.
  • Pungeon Master: Some writers (most infamously, the ones behind Batman Forever) depict him as dishing out two-related puns by the truckful.
  • Race Lift: Sort of. In the Tim Burton films Harvey Dent is played by Billy Dee Williams, but he never gets around to becoming Two-Face. Then in Batman Forever, which may or may not be in the same continuity he's back to being white. The Animated Series depicts as more of a light-skinned black man or perhaps Sicilian.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Typical origin story includes him awakening after the acid incident and him demanding a mirror. When he sees the grotesque scarring of half his face, he screams with horror and anger, and his transformation into the villain Two-Face becomes complete.
    • The original version has him put this off until he's gone full-blown criminal, staring into it and wondering what he's become before remembering he ordered no mirrors to be put up in his headquarters, prompting him to smash it.
  • Reluctant Psycho: Harvey Dent is one of the only inmates in Arkham who is actually trying to rehabilitate himself rather than treating Arkham as a second home. Unfortunately, Two-Face isn't open to rehabilitation since he knows it will kill him. Harvey's efforts always end in failure and tears.
  • Sadistic Choice: Some writers are known for depicting him as a villain who will go out of his way to force others into these - in these cases, the two sides of his coin tend to both represent "evil" options.
  • Secret Secret Keeper: In the New 52, he reveals that he's known that Bruce Wayne is Batman for at least a few years, but has repeatedly convinced himself not to kill him.
  • Shadow Archetype: He mirrors Batman's origin and obsession with double identities.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better: Totes a double-barreled shotgun around occasionally.
  • Snap Back: During the Hush storyline, Harvey got plastic surgery to restore his face and turned good again, and this lasted a few years, until he was suddenly depicted as Two-Face again.
  • Split Personality: Suffers from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and multiple personality disorder.
  • Stalker with a Crush: To Renee Montoya.
  • Sudden Name Change:
    • Harvey Dent's wife is generally known as Gilda, but was renamed "Grace" in a 1989 Secret Origins story and the name carried over to her animated counterpart in Batman: The Animated Series. All later comic appearances switched her name back to Gilda.
    • Harvey himself was originally introduced as "Harvey Kent". They changed his name so there'd be no confusion with that other fellow.
  • Tragic Monster: Played for Drama.
  • Tragic Villain: His fall from grace is the end result of one tragedy that allowed his repressed mental-issues to boil over his mind broke.
  • Talking to Themself: Comes from his mental issues.
  • Thememobile: In campier times, he had one just like most other Bat-villains. Most recently brought up in Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, where it's completely pristine on one side and an utter wreck on the other.
  • Two-Faced: Trope Codifier if not namer.
  • Two-Headed Coin: Harvey Dent uses one of these, but then one side gets scratched up, making it back into a fair coin. Its emotional/symbolic significance to Two-Face makes it a Number One Dime as well. (Originally it was Boss Maroni's "lucky coin", and hence was tied to his origin. In later stories it was the coin his abusive father tossed with the assurance that if it came down tails he wouldn't be beaten. Harvey only learnt it was double-headed shortly before being scarred.)
  • Unscrupulous Hero: Dent does have his heroic moments, but he's still horribly brutal and decides on whether to do the right thing or not from a coin flip just like he does everything else.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Often.
  • Wakeup Call Boss: Served as this during Dick Grayson's tenure as Robin - up until that point, Dick had only faced ordinary criminals, along with a few bush-league supervillains like Killer Moth and the Mad Hatter.
  • Wham Line: In Batman and Robin 28:
    Batman: How could you let yourself fall so far?! Why couldn't you steel yourself—channel the pain—turn it into something good?!
    Two-Face: LIKE YOU DID, BRUCE?!
  • Wrath: Two-Face's scarred side is rage personified, in many depictions.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Pulled this with a Mook who was standing directly between him and someone he wanted to shoot; when he asked him to get out of the way and the mook failed to, he informed him that he couldn't afford to lose any "red shirts". When this flew over the mook's head, Dent informed him that he was far too stupid to be anything but a liability and shot him dead on the spot.