- Large Ham: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne had to be a ham, but he does it as Batman as well.) and Heath Ledger's Joker.
- The Chechen too. My dogs! Are! Hungry!
- Harvey Dent definitely has his moments.
(Harvey is privately interrogating Thomas Schiff by threatening to shoot him if he doesn't talk)
Thomas Schiff: You wouldn't.
Harvey:(suddenly yells in his face) I WOULDN'T!!
(Batman has just confessed that he's turning himself in so that no one else will be killed by the Joker to flush him out)
Harvey: You can't. You can't give in. YOU CAN'T GIVE IN!!
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Chechen is done in by the very guy he had hired earlier in the film.
- Laughably Evil: Again, the Joker.
- Let Me Get This Straight: "You think that your client, one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the world, is secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands. And your plan is to blackmail this person? Good luck."
- Let Me Tell You a Story: Bruce Wayne is trying to figure out The Joker's motivations. Alfred tells him this story:
Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who had traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing the stones away.
Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?
Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
- Licensed Pinball Table: Released by Stern Pinball in 2008; click here for details.
- Lost In A Crowd: The Joker pulls this off twice.
- To escape the opening bank robbery, the Joker simply slips his school bus into a pre-arranged opening in a long line of identical school buses driving past on the Van Buren Street side of the bank as the police are arriving.
- The Joker and his men escaping after the assassination attempt on the mayor at Commissioner Loeb's funeral procession: they are posing as the honor guard members and all of the police officers in dress blues are standing motionless as the "honor guard" does the 21 gun salute, until the third volley, when the Joker and his men aim their rifles at the mayor. Gordon tackles the mayor to the ground just as the Joker fires his rifle. This causes all of the pedestrians and the officers to break formation and scatter everywhere. In the chaos, the Joker and his guys melt into the crowd, and all of them get away except for Thomas Schiff, who gets spotted and is shot in the leg.
- Love Cannot Overcome: Rachel doesn't want the problems of being Bruce's love interest until he's done being Batman.
- Love Makes You Evil: Sort of... Harvey Dent losing his girlfriend is the key ingredient in driving him to madness.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: "Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the little... emotions."
- Ludicrous Gibs:
- Suggested by the Joker about a kidnapped Harvey Dent.
Gordon: Where is he?
Joker: What's the time?
Gordon: What difference does that make?
Joker: Well depending on the time, he may be in one spot or several.
- Madden Into Misanthropy: The Joker pulls an extreme version of this on Harvey Dent.
- Meaningful Background Event: Two-Face's arm, can be seen grabbing Maroni's lackey as Maroni gets in the car, before the reveal.
- Metallicar Syndrome: Mentioned when Bruce needs to go rescue someone in daylight, and Alfred asks if he'll be taking the Batpod.
Bruce: In the middle of the day, Alfred? Not very subtle.
- Mind Rape: Of all the Joker's acts of callous villainy and casual disregard for human dignity, none is worse than his turning of Harvey Dent into a vengeful monster by warping his mind during his vulnerable time of grief over Rachel's death.
- In general, this seems to be a favorite of the Joker, who delights in pressing peoples' berserk buttons until he gets underneath their skins. Case in point: the scene where he intentionally makes light of Stephen's dead friends. Therefore, knowing the Joker will enjoy a beating, Stephens prepares to make sure he himself enjoys it even more. Cut to Murphy hearing a commotion and finding the Joker holding Stephens at knifepoint.
- Misplaced Retribution: Harvey doesn't just give his 50-50 execution judgement to everyone involved in destroying his life, He goes after Gordon, and plans to kill Gordon's son to show the cop how it feels to lose the thing you love most.
- The Mob Boss Is Scarier: People definitely see the Joker as being scarier than Batman, and Maroni spells out how no one is going to cross the Joker because they're too afraid of what cruel method he could devise to kill them (and he's personally afraid of a reprisal against the Falcone family should he cross the Joker), whereas all Batman can do is beat them up a bit.
- The Mole: Ramirez is working for the mob because her mother is in the hospital and the medical bills were too high.
- Wuertz, on the other hand, was just in it for the money.
- Moment of Silence: Two.
- After the bombs go off and the Joker escapes at the end of the second act.
- When Harvey finds his coin and figures out what happened.
- Money to Burn: After taking half of mob's savings as payment for his services, Joker stacks all of it up, puts Lau on top, and then lights the whole thing on fire.
Joker: See, I'm a guy of simple tastes: I enjoy dynamite, and gunpowder... and gasoline! And you know the thing that they have in common? They're cheap!
- Monster Clown: Joker, obviously.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: Lau, the Chinese banker for the mob.
- Multi-Take Cut: Downplayed in the hospital explosion. As shown here, Nolan filmed the explosion from several angles, but decided to put only two in the finished movie.
- Multiple-Choice Past: In a nod to the comics like Trope Namer The Killing Joke, Joker gives multiple conflicting tragic back stories about how he came to be.
Joker: You wanna know how I got these scars?
- My Card: The Joker. Naturally, it's a joker playing card.
- Mythology Gag: The Joker wearing a nurse costume is most likely a nod to a scrapped idea from Arkham Asylum A Serious Houseon Serious Earth, where the Joker was originally going to be dressed like Madonna. The only reason it wasn't used was because a cross-dressing villain was consideredtoo silly.
- Near Villain Victory: The only thing that keeps The Joker from winning is Batman's decision to take the heat for the murders Harvey, safeguarding Harvey's image and the stability of Gotham with it.
- Never Be a Hero: Lampshaded with the Batman copycats.
Copycat: What gives you the right? What's the difference between you and me?
Batman: I'm not wearing hockey pads.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Pre-release material presented the Bat-Pod as one of Batman's newly developed toys. It's actually the Tumbler's emergency ejection system.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Two-Face, with his talk of random chance being the only true morality in the world. The Joker would be a Nietzsche Wannabe, except that wouldn't nearly begin to encompass his craziness.
Joker: I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger.
- No Communities Were Harmed: If it weren't for all the Gotham City stuff, you'd think the movie took place in Chicago.
- Not His Sled: Though Harvey "Two-Face" Dent does get his iconic facial scars, he never joins Batman's Rogues Gallery. Instead, he has a brief stint as a Vigilante Man (only coming into conflict with Batman when he tries to kill Commissioner Gordon's family) and dies just one day after the incident that caused those scars, leaving the vast majority of Gotham's people unaware that he ever went insane. His vigilantism is still ruthless enough for him to qualify as a villain, particularly as he goes after the family of the only truly honest cop in Gotham.
- Not Worth Killing: Eventually, the Joker starts thinking this about Batman. Batman himself sees all criminals as this, considering that he has one rule to live by, but he especially believes this about the Joker, who is hellbent on causing him to break that one rule.
- The civilian ferry's designated detonator man eventually decides against killing the prisoners after apparently realizing that it wasn't worth it.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The last fight between Joker and Batman, with Joker using dogs, construction equipment and crowbars to beat the Dark Knight into the ground.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: The Joker. Though aware of his crimes, at first Batman and the authorities just see him as "one man", and focus on bringing down the mob. The mobsters, for their part, regard him as "a nobody" as well...
- N-Word Privileges: The Joker can call himself and Batman "freaks", but if anybody else tries it...
- Oh, Crap: One example is when Gordon gets to Loeb's office having learned about the Joker's death threat on him:
Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb: Gordon, you're unlikely to discover this for yourself, so take my word. The police commissioner gets a lot of threats. I found the appropriate response to these situations a long time ago. [sets down a glass of Clyburn whiskey, and drinks]
[cutaway briefly to Surrillo and to Harvey Dent talking with Rachel]
Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb: You get to explain to my wife why I'm late for dinner, tonight.
Lt. James Gordon: Sir, the Joker card had traces of your DNA on it. [Stephens comes in with a piece of paper in his hand]
Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb: How'd they get my DNA?
Lt. James Gordon: [looking at the file Stephens has given him] Someone with access to your house or office must have lifted a tissue or a... glass, or [notices Loeb drinking] Wait, WAIT!
[Loeb collapses, poisoned with acid. His glass starts smoking]
Lt. James Gordon: GET A MEDIC!
- Ominous Walk: Subverted when The Joker starts one of these after Batman loses at chicken, then starts to jauntily skip after a few seconds.
- Omnicidal Maniac: The Joker.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Joker, if "nickname" is a good word for it.
- Orbital Shot:
- The shots involving the Joker and Rachel's confrontation at Harvey Dent's fundraiser keep rotating around the two to add to the scene's tension.
The Joker: Oh, you look nervous. Is it the scars? Want to know how I got them?
- Another version - a single continuous orbital shot is used when Gordon and Harvey are arguing on the rooftop after a leak in the department allowed the mob to get their money transferred out ahead of time
- The Paragon: Harvey Dent. This makes him the target of everybody.
- The Pen Is Mightier: This exchange when the Joker crashes the mob meeting:
Gambol: Give me one reason why I shouldn't have my boy here pull your head off.
The Joker: How about a magic trick?
[sticks a pencil into the table, point-first]
The Joker: I'm gonna make this pencil disappear.
[A crony stands up and runs over to the Joker, who then slams the man's head down on the pencil, forcing it into his eye socket. The man then falls dead] The Joker:
TADA! It's.... ah, it's gone
..... Oh, and by the way, the suit
? It wasn't cheap. [sits down]
You oughta know, you bought it!
- Pet the Dog: Chechen pets his dogs, early in the movie, while calling them his "little princes." This makes it all the more disturbing when, later in the movie, Joker decides to have the Chechen cut up and fed to those dogs, for calling him a freak.
- Phony Newscast: There are newscasts during the film reporting on the Joker and the Batman; in the DVD extras you're treated to 4 fake in-depth newscasts about Gotham.
- Pineapple Surprise: The Joker threatens to pull the pins on a jacket of grenades to escape the mobsters meeting with Lau.
- Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: The Joker and Harvey Dent. Though where the Joker got his is anyone's guess...
- Poisonous Captive: The Joker continues to play mind games with the police while in a cell.
- Plot Immunity: Jim Gordon and his fake death scheme.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Harvey Dent's fall from grace.
- Poser Hating: Batman does not find imitation flattering. Especially if the imitators dressing like him are using lethal force.
- The Power of Legacy: At the end of the film, after Harvey Dent's death, Batman tells Gordon to tell the police force that it was Batman, not Harvey, who was responsible for Harvey's murders, so that Harvey does not lose his white knight reputation.
- Pragmatic Villainy: At the beginning of the film, the Chechen is upset with Dr. Crane for supplying him with fear toxin as a street drug (which has horrific, non-pleasurable effects) because his business needs repeat customers.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: During the fundraising party for Harvey Dent:
- Precision F-Strike:
- In the opening, if you listen carefully, you can hear Grumpy say "what the fuck?" when Bozo tricks the manager into using his last shotgun round on Grumpy's left shoulder. Grumpy then complains, "Where did you learn to count?!"
- The Joker questioning why the mob bosses fear getting caught since Batman's arrival: "What happened, your balls drop off?"
- It's not a terribly obvious one, but after Batman fails to hit him with the Batpod, the Joker mouths the f-word. Blink and you'll miss it.
- Later in the same scene, Gordon says "we got you, you son of a bitch" when he (temporarily) captures the Joker.
- Pre-emptive Declaration:
Joker: No no no, I kill the bus driver.
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Two-Face has one when he kills Maroni's driver and at the very least causes further injury to Maroni, who had already been reduced to walking on a cane following a Bat Interrogation.
Two-Face: You're a lucky man. flips his coin a second time But he's not.
Two-Face: [buckles seat belt] Your driver.
- Product Placement: A lot. One notable case is Bruce Wayne's driving a Lamborghini Murcielago. Also a Bilingual Bonus Stealth Pun: murciélago is Spanish for bat.
- Psycho for Hire: The Joker, with the emphasis on "psycho", since he doesn't really stay in the employ of the mob for long. He's definitely in it for the psycho part, though.
Joker: If you're good at something, never do it for free.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Just as an accountant was about to give in to one of Joker's earlier threats (reveal the identity of Batman or people die) he goes on TV to announce that he changed his mind, that he decides that a world without Batman would be too boring, and that if said accountant was not killed in less than an hour, that he would blow up a hospital.
- Psycho Strings: On the soundtrack the Joker's theme is made mostly of these. It's the sound that's produced from razor blades on string instruments.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Why. So. Serious?"
- From the same speech: "Not. One. Bit."
- "LOOK! AT! ME!"
- Put the "Laughter" in "Slaughter": In the car chase, the Joker takes a semi truck with the words "LAUGHTER IS THE BEST MEDICINE" and spraypaints a red S in front of "Laughter".
- Rank Up: Jim Gordon is promoted to Commissioner in the movie.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: It is possible that the ending of TDK was setting up Joker to return in the Rises (he doesn't die, he says they'll be doing this forever, etc)... but then Heath Ledger died. Anyways, the Joker did not appear and was not even mentioned in The Dark Knight Rises, and a lot of people suspect the lack of the Joker in that movie was not part of the original plan (the Joker was mentioned in passing, though, in the novelization).
- Reckless Gun Usage: The Joker ignores all basic gun-handling rules, but being that he is the Joker, he probably doesn't care at all if he accidentally shoots someone. Or himself, for that matter. He'd probably think it was hilarious. For example, in the car chase, when he's climbing out of his semi truck after he gets flipped over, he stumbles and the Smith & Wesson M76 submachine gun he's carrying accidentally goes off, spraying bullets in a random direction.
- Harvey Dent is flipping a two-headed coin so he won't purposely shoot someone he was interrogating, but he was still pressing a loaded gun to that man's head. But, again, this is Harvey Two-Face we're talking about.
- Redemption Equals Death: Even Maroni has had enough of all this and gives the cops the Joker's location. Two-Face finds him soon afterwards.
- Retired Badass: Alfred apparently did some military spec-ops work some time before being Bruce's butler, providing him with anecdotal experience concerning the Joker's MO. The story also goes to hint at a rather dark side to the generally pleasant and amiable sophisticate:
- Right Behind Me: "Don't tell me it's Wayne. The guy's a complete f--"
- Right-Hand Attack Dog: The Chechen owns a pack of them. After The Joker apparently feeds The Chechen to his own dogs, he adopts the pooches and uses them against Batman in the final showdown.
- Robbing The Mob Bank: The opening bank robbery. Unlike other movies exhibiting this trope, the Joker averts it by being knowingly aware that he's stealing mob money. On the other hand, the clowns he hires, then tricks into shooting each other during the job, play the trope straight.
- Rousseau Was Right: Batman's belief and part of how he eventually triumphs over the Joker in the finale: neither of the boats in Joker's "social experiment" are willing to blow the other one up, buying Batman the time he needed to neutralize the Joker's own detonators.
- Rule of Cool/Rule of Scary: Despite having half of his face burned off, Harvey Dent doesn't seem to have much trouble speaking, and his facial motions are apparently unaffected.
- Rule of Three: The Joker's third "scar story" is subverted by Batman.
- Running Gag Stumbles: See Rule of Three.
- Sadistic Choice: The Joker's M.O. So much so that Roger Ebert interpreted this concept as one of the Joker's main themes.
Ebert: The Joker is more than a villain. He’s a Mephistopheles whose actions are fiendishly designed to pose moral dilemmas for his enemies.
- Saved for the Sequel: Surprisingly averted with Two-Face. He's Killed Off for Real less than half an hour after he gets his iconic scars. However, Harvey Dent's representation as a symbol of true justice is destroyed by Bane in the next movie.
- Scare Chord: The Joker's leitmotif, a strident violin piece that feels and sounds almost like the droning of an insect swarm.
- Scary Black Man: Gambol.
- Subverted with Ginty, the hulking black prisoner on the ferry who acts like he'll blow up the other boat for the guards, only to throw the detonator out the window once they give it to him.
- Scenery Porn: They seem to show off a lot of downtown Chicago scenery in the car chase
- Scheherezade Gambit: Variant when The Joker is captured by the police. Using only his words, he manipulates a police officer into attacking him, then takes the officer hostage.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Salvatore Maroni as he's dropped from the second floor by Batman.
- Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Inverted; the Joker has no rules.
- Secret Identity: Deconstructed; Batman cannot keep his secret from everyone, which leads to problems. In addition to the ones who found out in Batman Begins, accountant Coleman Reese discovers Where He Gets All Those Wonderful Toys and intends to Blackmail Bruce Wayne, but is dissuaded by the Genre Savvy Omnidisciplinary Scientist Lucius Fox. When he tries to sell Batman's Secret Identity, he discovers that The Joker is not happy with the secret being made public. He is saved by Batman and might be ashamed enough to become a Secret Keeper.
- Secret Identity Apathy: The Joker starts out demanding Batman remove his mask, but eventually decides that would be boring, and puts a hit out on a man who threatens to reveal Bruce's identity.
The Joker: I had a vision, of a world without Batman. The mob ground out a little profit and the police tried to shut them down, one block at a time. And it was so...boring. I've had a change of heart. I don't want Mr.Reese spoiling everything, but why should I have all the fun? Let's give someone else a chance. If Coleman Reese isn't dead in sixty minutes then I blow up a hospital.
- Should Have Thought of That Before X:
Maroni: This madness... it's just too much.
Gordon: You should have thought of that before you let that clown out of the box.
- Shout-Out: "Will the real Batman please stand up?"
- Possibly also a reference to that musical they never made.
- William Fichtner as the banker with the shotgun in the opening heist was an intentional Casting Gag by Nolan, who built the sequence as an homage to Heat.
- The Joker's goons don clown masks during the opening scene as a reference to Stanley Kubrick's heist film The Killing.
- Joker's mask is also the same as the one the character uses in The Joker's Wild, his very first appearance◊ in the 60's series.
- It and the other somber clown masks, all worn by the Joker's thugs with otherwise normal street clothes, invoke the image his henchman from the Animated Series episode The Last Laugh.
- The Shawshank Redemption: The detonator found on the prisoners' ship is concealed in a box resembling a book
- Naturally, since Nolan is a card-carrying Bond fan, the blade at the tip of the Joker's shoe is From Russia with Love.
- Kind of a weird one, but the Bat-Cycle emerges from the Batmobile.... "Batmobile lost a wheel". And then after that, "Joker got away."
- Sheep in Sheep's Clothing: Harvey Dent is first presented as a awesome and incorruptible crusader for justice, and is a romantic rival to Bruce Wayne. Especially since everyone knows he becomes Two Face, the obviously... well, obvious assumption would be that he's hiding a dark, corrupt side to his character. Turns out... he isn't. He really was the great guy he seemed to be (at least until he was Driven to Villainy). In the novelization, Bruce/Batman is shown investigating Dent, believing him to be too good to be true, and all he finds is that Dent hides the fact that he had an unhappy childhood with a cruelly abusive father.
- Shipping Torpedo: Bruce Wayne, towards Harvey and Rachel, since this essentially relegates him to Unlucky Childhood Friend status with respect to the woman he's loved for years.
- Shown Their Work:
- The SWAT team's tactics when entering the building the Joker's minions have occupied are in fact, the actual procedures a real SWAT team would carry out under the same situation: the officers approach the suspects with weapons drawn and at the ready and identify themselves, demanding that the suspects surrender and put their weapons down. Until the suspects present a threat to either the officers or innocents, they have to hold fire. More than one reviewer questioned why SWAT wasn't opening fire, not realizing that this was how they really operate.
- Commissioner Loeb's funeral procession is very realistic, thanks to the fact that the police officers you see are actual off-duty Chicago Police Department officers. Additionally, the CPD supplied the bagpipe marching band.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Batman to the Joker.
Batman: What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? You're alone!
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Harvey to Rachel, as he's about to be loaded into the armored car.
- Smash The Symbol In the montage showing the consequences of Batman taking the blame for Harvey Dent's murders, Gordon is shown smashing the bat-signal he put together at the end of Begins. Subverted, in that Gordon doesn't hate Batman at all, but is just in on the cover-up to protect Harvey's legacy.
- Smug Snake: Salvatore Maroni.
- Spanner in the Works: The Joker is a self-proclaimed "Agent of Chaos" - he really doesn't plan, he just sizes up his enemies' plans and attacks the weak point that causes the most chaos.
: I just did what I do best — I took your little plan, and I turned it on itself
- The Spook: Both Batman and The Joker.
- Spin the Bottle: At least one possibility about the "try-outs" scene after the Joker kills Gambol, when he breaks a pool cue and lays part of it on the floor in front of Gambol's three associates, is that "try-outs" are a macabre version of "spin the bottle", in that the guy the pool cue lands on is the one who does not get a bullet between the eyes and gets to work for the Joker.
- Stalker with a Crush: Again, Batman/Bruce Wayne of all people is this towards Rachel.
- Stealing from the Till: A sympathetic example. Lucius and Bruce are technically embezzling assets from Wayne Enterprises, a public company with shareholders, and they are discovered and blackmailed by an auditor ([technically again).
- Stealth Pun: The Joker blocks a stretch of road with a fire truck. That is on a fire. A fire truck, get it? Just another way the Joker Crosses the Line Twice.
- By the end of the second act, the Batmobile had lost a wheel (the Batpod), and the Joker got away.
- During the trip to China:
: It emits a high-frequency pulse for mapping an environment and records a response time. Bruce Wayne
: Sonar. Just like a... Lucius Fox
: Like a submarine, Mr. Wayne. Like a submarine
- The final dilemma the Joker presents is similar to the Prisoner's Dilemma. One of the parties in the dilemma is a ferry full of convicts.
- Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murcielago... Murcielago is Spanish for "Bat".
- Steel Eardrums:
- I sure hope that the first driver of the semi truck has them when the Joker shoots the cop at the roadblock, who is standing by the driver's door, from the passenger's seat, with the bank manager's shotgun, firing no more than a few feet from that driver's ear.
- When Harvey Dent is approaching the ambulance Thomas Schiff is in after the shooting at Loeb's eulogy, there is a gunshot from somewhere. You notice that Dent flinches, while all of the officers scatter and immediately grab their weapons, but curiously, the paramedic tending to Schiff's leg doesn't so much as flinch, like he can't hear a shot.
- Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: Gordon plays this straight when he lets Batman interrogate the Joker.
- Storming the Castle: The assault on Pruitt Building, Joker's hideout. An epic Mêlée à Trois between Batman, the SWAT and Joker's goons where Batman's non-lethal policy is truly tested.
- Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: A major theme of the Joker's actions in this movie.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The Joker really likes explosions:
Joker: See, I'm a man of simple tastes. I like dynamite... and gunpowder... and gasoline! Do you know what all of these things have in common? They're cheap!
- Stuffed into the Fridge: One of the main criticisms of the film, besides Batman's voice, is Rachel's unceremonious death at the end of the second act.
- Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Rachel, though not until the end of Act 2.
- Commissioner Loeb suffers this as well.
- Super Cell Reception:
- Sonar emitting phones.
- Not to mention one whose reception doesn't falter inside a man's stomach.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: The Bat-Cell-Phone-Sonar machine.
- Sympathy for the Hero: First, The Joker admits that Batman is better than the mob bosses he used to rip off. Then, as he's saved from falling to his death, the villain praises how his nemesis is incorruptible as "you won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness".
- Take a Third Option: Subverted with Rachel and Harvey. Played straight during the Prisoner's Dilemma in the film's climax.
- Taking the Bullet: First, Gordon does this by tackling the mayor to the ground just as the Joker is about to shoot him. Later it's combined with Car Fu when the Batmobile intercepts a rocket grenade that was intended for the armored prison transport carrying Harvey Dent.
- Technical Pacifist: Batman won't outright kill anyone, but he has no qualms dropping Maroni from a fire escape because he probably won't die from the fall.
- Television Geography: The bank robbery falls into this when you go by the actual filming location (the old post office at Van Buren Street and Canal Street on the west side of the Chicago River). When the Joker, Grumpy and Chuckles are getting out of the car, they're on the north side of the building. They enter through a north-facing door, but they make a right turn and face west as they run into the lobby and begin shooting into the air. This means that when the school bus bursts through the other doors, it comes in from the west side, meaning it comes in from a north-south street. However, in the exterior shot of the Joker merging with the line of passing school buses, if you look at the buildings in the background or notice the drawbridge gates in the distance, the bus is clearly facing north and turning east and onto the east-west street the stationwagon was parked on. For the record, the east-west street is Van Buren Street.
- Tempting Fate: During the Lower Wacker Drive section of the car chase, the Joker rakes the armored transport with a machine pistol and a shotgun. Harvey Dent asks the SWAT officer riding in back with him if the vehicle is bulletproof against such hits. The officer replies, "He's going to need something a lot bigger to get through this!" Cue the Joker's henchmen handing their boss a rocket launcher.
Shotgun SWAT: Wha...! What is that, a bazooka?!
[The Joker fires, hitting the back of the police car in front of the armored car. The cruiser limps along, the officer struggling to control his car. The henchman driving the garbage truck rams the armored car from behind]
Shotgun SWAT: I didn't sign up for this! [The Joker fires another rocket, taking out the police car in front for good]
- Terrorist Without A Cause: The Joker is about as pure of an example as you can find. Other than to inflict chaos.
- The Coats Are Off: Stephens casts off his sports jacket before giving the Joker a beating.
- Think Nothing of It: After Batman saves Gordon's son
Gordon: Thank you.
Batman: You don't have to thank me.
Gordon: Yes, I do.
- Throat Light: That cell phone the Joker planted in an inmate provides one.
- Title Drop: The final words spoken are the movie's title, at the end of Commissioner Gordon's monologue.
- Too Kinky to Torture: The Joker. Detective Stephens, who's in charge of watching him, even lampshades it when he says, "I'm a twenty year man. And I know the difference between punks who need to be taught a little lesson in manners, and the freaks like you who would just enjoy it."
- Torture Is Ineffective: Batman pummels the Joker in the police interrogation room, but the Joker laughs it off because torture would never make him talk. He only tells Batman what Batman wants to hear because it amuses him to.
- Tragedy: Harvey Dent's fall into the Despair Event Horizon, an ending that almost borders on being a downer, heroes performing actions that are questionable - Knight certainly shows traits of this genre, thought its a more hopeful example than most of its ilk.
- Trailers Always Spoil: Many people knew Gordon wasn't Killed Off for Real because of the Joker's trailer line of "Good eeeevening, Commissioner." Gordon hadn't yet been made commissioner at the time of his supposed 'death'.
- Traitor Shot: A subtle version, but Ramirez doesn't look as happy as you'd think she'd be watching a victorious Harvey Dent get into a car driven by her (equally compromised) colleague after the Joker has been captured by a Not Quite Dead Gordon.
- Trauma Conga Line: Harvey Dent loses the love of his life and half of his face in one day. It doesn't take much for The Joker to push him over the edge after that.
- Treachery Cover Up: Batman decides to take the blame for Harvey Dent's crimes at the end of the film, so that Harvey can remain an inspiration to Gotham.
- Trespassing to Talk: The Joker manages to sneak into a heavily guarded meeting of mob bosses, and makes an offer to kill Batman for them.
- Troll: What The Joker will resort to when his target has no other obvious flaw he can utilize to get inside their heads.
- Twenty One Gun Salute: There is an honor guard of seven officers who fire their rifles three times each at the funeral of Commissioner Loeb. Except, just before they fire the third volley, they suddenly turn their rifles on the mayor and Gordon suddenly notices that the closest one is the Joker sans-makeup, and he immediately tackles the mayor to the ground just as the Joker pulls the trigger. The Joker and his men then flee into the crowd, with all but Thomas Schiff successfully escaping in the chaos.
- Twisted Echo Cut: Rachel tells Harvey her answer to his marriage proposal is "Yes." Batman then kicks down the door...to where Harvey is imprisoned, causing him to shout, "NO! NO! NO!" because he knows Rachel is going to die.
- Two-Headed Coin: Played straight by Harvey; subverted when he becomes Two-Face and the coin gets marked on one side.
- Underestimating Badassery:
- Batman underestimates the Joker throughout most of the film, right from the start when he blithely dismisses him with "One man or the entire mob? He can wait." Naturally, this comes back to bite him in the ass.
- Joker underestimates the resolve of the people of Gotham at the end, and he's not happy about it.
- Under the Truck: Not a chase scene, since the Joker is coming at Batman head on in a truck, while Batman races towards him on the Batpod in the Loop. However Batman fires two towing cables that hit the truck and then proceeds to weave in and out between the wheels of the trailer to tie it up. Because the Batpod is built low to the ground and the truck is quite high off the ground, he doesn't need to slide, just drive normally.
- The Unfettered: The Joker.
- Unflinching Walk: Lucius Fox.
- Played for laughs with the Joker when he blows up the Gotham General Hospital. He starts walking away without looking back, only to notice the explosions have stopped. Joker turns around and starts fiddling with the detanator, but nothing happens. He fiddles with the detonator some more, until he's startled by a huge explosion. Joker then resumes walking away without looking back... only now he's walking much faster than before.
- Unhand Them, Villain!: The Joker does this to Rachel when Batman tells him to let her go. She happens to be hanging halfway out a window.
Joker: Very poor choice of words!
- Unreliable Narrator: The Joker, naturally.
- Unwanted Rescue: Harvey. "NO! NOT ME! WHY ARE YOU COMING FOR ME?!" Doubly so, as Batman also wanted to save Rachel over Harvey. The Joker's just a bitch like that..
- Viewers Are Morons/Viewers Are Goldfish:
- One would assume that a room full of cops and lawyers knows what RICO is.
- When two corpses are discovered whose last names are Harvey and Dent, respectively, Ramirez has to remind us that one characters' name is Harvey Dent and that the dead guys' names are supposed to allude to him.
- Villain Opening Scene: The movie begins with the Joker and his goons robbing a mob bank. And the Joker ripping off all of his clown accomplices by tricking them into shooting each other.
- Villainous Breakdown: The Joker has a downplayed one at the end of The Dark Knight, in contrast to his usual over-the-top theatrics: when the people of Gotham refuse to play his game and reveal themselves to have a core of decency, and it looks like his ultra-nihilistic view of the world might be wrong after all, he goes very, very still...
- Villain Team-Up: The Joker and Two-Face... ssssssssorta. Harvey hates Joker with a passion, but the Joker is the one who pushes Dent into villainy, and the Joker uses Two-Face to sow extra chaos and divert the Gotham PD's attention long enough to set up his next major "social experiment".
- Virtue Is Weakness: Once the mob bosses settled down a truce, they've discussed how Batman doesn't kill the criminals he captures and sees that as a reason not to fear him at all. Batman proves them how wrong they are, by showing how non-lethal but painful a fall can be.
- Wham Episode: The end of the second act, which starts with Harvey and Rachel getting kidnapped and ends with Rachel's death. None of the protagonists emerge unscathed.
- Wham Line: When Batman is interrogating Joker about Harvey Dent's kidnapping in the MCU lockup and Joker suddenly reveals he's had his men kidnap Rachel as well.
Joker: Well, there's only minutes remaining, so you'll have to play my game if you want to save one of them.
Batman: ... Them?
Joker: You know...for awhile there, I thought you really were Dent. The way you threw yourself after after her!
- What the Hell, Hero?: Batman makes no secret to Harvey Dent that threatening to shoot Thomas Schiff using a revolver on the basis of a coin-toss is wrong.
Batman: You'd leave a man's life to chance?!
- A little hypocritical, considering, unlike Batman's interrogation of Maroni, the man Dent was interrogating was in absolutely no physical danger.
- Dent's reaction to Batman bursting in to rescue him could be considered this, since he wanted Rachel and not himself to be saved.
Dent: NO! NO! NOT ME! WHY ARE YOU COMING FOR ME?!
- Also pulled by the Joker, of all people.
Joker: I wanted to see what you'd do, and you didn't disappoint–you let five people die. Then, you let Dent take your place. Even to a guy like me, that's cold.
- The 'hero' part might be debatable, but Harvey does this to Detective Ramirez, when he confronts her for delivering Rachel to the Joker.
Ramirez: I didn't know what they were...
Dent: You didn't know what they were gonna do? You're the second cop to say that to me. What, exactly, did you think they were going to do?
- Also a inverted version is pulled by the Scary Black Man on the ferry during the finale, when he asks the Warden for the detenator to the other boat.
Ginty: Give it to me, and I'll do what you should've did ten minutes ago.
(takes the detonator and chucks it out the window.)
- Gordon's wife's reaction to his faking his death. He offers up a small excuse about how it was for her protection, but she still smacks him.
- Lucius makes it clear that he is not happy with Batman's plan to use sonarised mobile phones to eavesdrop on the entire city and track down the Joker.
- Where's The Rest Of The Kaboom?: When the Joker attempts to blow up the hospital and it only partly detonates. There was reportedly a delay in the explosives, and the Joker was supposed to be already on his bus when the hospital fell completely, but Ledger was unaware of this. So not once breaking character, Ledger mashes down on the detonator until demolition resumes.
- Who Will Bell the Cat?: The Gothamites on one of the two barges packed with explosives finally agree that the other barge full of criminals should be sacrificed instead of them. Except that nobody seems to want to pull the trigger on the detonator...
- In contrast to the usual examples of this trope, however, eventually someone does decide to "bell the cat", so to speak. One of the civilians finally steps up and asks for the detonator, his rationale being that the criminals have already made their choices and screwed up their lives. But, after some agonizing, he doesn't blow up the criminals after all.
- Why Am I Ticking?: The Joker orchestrates a prison break with a cell-phone bomb, which is sewn inside the body of an inmate very crudely. He did promise the man he'd make the voices go away.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Why doesn't the Joker just shoot Batman? Because he doesn't want to. Batman's just too much fun!
- The Windy City: You could make a drinking game out of trying to identify every Chicago landmark that gets shown.
- Worthy Opponent: Several observing SWAT give Batman an astonished non-verbal compliment when he takes out a full squad, with their own rappel lines, after being designated to be out the game.
- Would Hit a Girl: Two-Face knocks Anna Ramirez into unconsciousness, after his coin spares her life.
- Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: "Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can’t savor all of the little... emotions. You see, in their last moments, people show you who they really are. So in a way, I knew your friends better than you ever did... Would you like to know which of them were cowards?"
- Xanatos Gambit: When the Joker is plunging to his (possible) death, he is completely unafraid: He knows that either Batman catches him so he survives to wreak havoc another day - or he has managed to corrupt the city's last defender. Either way, he wins.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Batman has to play an insane game in the film's final minutes. Disguised Hostage Gambit with multiple SWAT teams bursting in all over the place. Batman has to quickly incapacitate SWAT teams so they don't kill the Hostages-disguised-as-Joker-thugs, and take out the real Joker thugs at the same time. There are also police Snipers targetting the disguised hostages. He ends up having to use his grapple hook in creative ways to knock over hostages to get them out of line of sight while at the same time getting to floors he needs to be on, blow the floor up beneath SWAT teams and thugs with his bomb launcher, and use the SWAT teams' own grapple ropes to tie them together and then suspend them over the side of the building. All this thought up and implemented on the fly within a time span of two minutes.
- X Must Not Win: Where X in this case refers to The Joker. It's such a major driving force for the good guys, especially for Batman, that at the end of the movie, Batman takes the fall for Dent's murders partly out of refusal to give Joker the satisfaction of wrecking Gotham.
- You Did the Right Thing: In the dilemma that two ferries leaving Gotham to avoid the Joker's supposed takeover, one filled with prisoners and the other with innocent civilians, have the detonator to blow up the opposite ferry under a time limit where the penalty of indecision would be them both blowing up; Ginty, the prisoner among many prisoners on the prisoner ferry, after demanding that the detonator to the civilian ferry be handed over to him, instead of detonating it primarily to save his own life, he instead throws it out an open window into the water at the expense that the prisoner ferry could not blow up the civilian ferry, and that it could be blown up instead. This shows that he probably believes the lives of the prisoners, including him, is not worth choosing over the lives of innocent civilians.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Pulled in the bank robbery at the beginning, as the Joker has tricked his clowns into shooting each other one by one due to their greed. In the end, he walks away with the whole haul, without having to share the $68 million with his five henchmen... and only needing to kill the bus driver.
- Dopey is the first one to be offed and is completely unaware, as his is the first task completed.
Dopey: That's funny, it didn't dial out to 911. It was trying to reach a private number.
Happy: Is there a problem?
Dopey: No, I'm done here. [Happy promptly shoots him in the back, then takes Dopey's equipment bag]
- Happy, on the other hand, was not as fortunate:
Happy: They wired this thing up with like, 5,000 volts. What kind of bank does that?
Grumpy: A mob bank. I guess the Joker's as crazy as they say. Where's the alarm guy?
Happy: Boss told me when the guy was done, I should take him out. One less share, huh? [spins the vault lock]
Grumpy: That's funny. He told me something similar!
Happy: What? [turns to see Grumpy pull out a pistol] No-no-NO-[cuts to the Joker walking in the lobby with the sound of a gunshot]
- You're Crazy: "No, I'm not. No, I'm not."
- It could be argued that the Joker spends the whole movie trying to convince himself of this.
- He later does admit that he brought Harvey down to his and Batman's level and that "madness is like gravity, all it takes is a little push!"
- You Remind Me of My Father: "I hated my father!"
- Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: This version of The Joker uses a LOT of these.
Joker (to the organized crime community): Look, I know why you choose to have your little group therapy sessions in broad daylight...
Joker (to the organized crime community): Soon little Gambol here won't be able to get a nickel for his grandma.
Joker (to Batman): You just take off your little mask and show us all who you really are, hmm?
Joker (to Batman): Does Harvey know about you and his little bunny?
Joker (to Harvey Dent): They're schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. (Referring to the police and the organized crime community alike.)
Joker (to Harvey Dent): I just took your little plan and I turned it on itself.
- Your Grandma: "If we don't deal with this now..... soon, (motions to Gambol) little... uh, Gambol here won't be able to get a nickel for his grandma."
- Zero-Approval Gambit: The ending.