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"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
"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."
— Alfred Pennyworth
The Dark Knight (2008) serves as the second entry in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Saga.A year after the events of Batman Begins, Batman (Christian Bale), Lieutenant James Gordon (Gary Oldman), and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) have achieved real success in taking down Gotham's organized crime by hitting the mob where it hurts: their money. The city's mob leaders become so afraid of Batman and what he represents that when a scarred psychopath in clown makeup shows up and offers to kill Batman, they hire him. But once he's backed by the mob, The Joker decides that simply killing Batman won't satisfy him. He aims to destroy Gotham City from the inside out, and part of his "plan" involves attempts to corrupt the city's two heroes (Batman and Harvey Dent) by making their lives hell until they snap...The Dark Knight received a overwhelmingly positive critical reception as a serious drama (unique for a comic book movie) thanks in large part to the tour de force performances of its cast (including the late Heath Ledger's acclaimed performance as The Joker). The film holds the record for the fourth-highest-grossing film of all time in the United States (behind The Avengers, Titanic, and Avatar) and the twelfth-highest worldwide. It also became the first comic book film to win an acting Academy Award when Heath Ledger posthumously won Best Supporting Actor.The title of this film — The Dark Knight — marks the first time a Batman film has not featured the character's name in the title.Followed by the third and final part in the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
The Dark Knight contains examples of the following tropes:
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A - K
The Ace: Harvey Dent. At first.RiffTrax said it best after he punches a witness who tried shooting him, unloads the gun, states the model and manufacturer before placing the weapon in front of the man who wanted him dead, essentially tells him to try harder next time by buying American guns, and then says he's not finished with the witness:
"All right, five-minute 'Tell Dent how awesome he is' recess."
Adult Fear: The Joker and Two-Face were frightening enough on their own, but the part that was also creepy was the fact that, even after faking his own death, Commissioner Gordon still can't protect his own children—and Mrs. Gordon's response to the ploy!.
The novel clears up a few details about the movie, such as making it possible to understand Dent's Knight Templar tendencies. Bruce is skeptical that Dent could have a skeleton-free closet, and decides to do some digging. What he finds is that Dent's father was a police officer who abused his mother, and whenever the police were called, they'd look the other way. Eventually, Dent's father killed his mother while he was away at school. This explains Harvey's initial distrust with Gordon at the beginning due to Gordon having dirty cops in his special unit (like Wuertz and Ramirez, to be specific). Bruce eventually realizes he's been digging so hard because he's jealous. Etc.
All There in the Script: The identities of the Joker's clowns in the bank heist, whose names you would only know through the script or through watching the scene with subtitles. The robbers are:
Dopey: Alarm man (one of the two robbers who enters by rappeling on a cable from a vacant office across the street). Is shot in the back by Happy with a suppressed pistol.
Happy: The guy who shoots Dopey, then runs downstairs and drills into the vault. As soon as the vault door unlocks, he is shot by Grumpy.
Grumpy: The driver of the stationwagon, entering through the lobby with Chuckles and Bozo. He is shot in the shoulder by the bank manager (as Bozo tricks the manager into using his last shotgun pellet). When Happy remarks that he was told to take out the alarm guy, Grumpy remarks that he was told something similar and shoots Happy. He then loads their satchels with money, and Bozo helps him place them by the door. When they're done, Grumpy draws his pistol and aims it at Bozo, believing that the Joker has Bozo to kill him after they load the cash, unaware that Bozo is the Joker. The Joker shrugs and says that actually, he kills the bus driver. Grumpy is confused, until seconds later, when a school bus bursts through the doors and runs over him.
Chuckles: He is the guy riding shotgun with Grumpy when they pick up the Joker (as Bozo) on the street corner. When they enter, he announces their arrival by firing a submachine gun into the ceiling, then overpowers a guard. He is killed when the bank manager shoots him in the back with a sawed-off shotgun.
The Joker (posing as Bozo): Handling crowd control, the Joker sticks primed grenades into the hostages' hands so they will be focused on holding on for dear life (which is the reason why none of them even scream despite the bank manager firing a shotgun at the Joker and Grumpy as he chases them down the lobby, or the bus bursting in through the doors). He wounds the bank manager after tricking him into using his last round using an automatic Glock 18 pistol modified to use extended stick magazines. After the school bus arrives, the Joker shoots and kills the driver, and finishes loading the money. As he is about to drive away, the bank manager asks him what he believes in. The Joker momentarily doubles back over to the manager, sticks a gas grenade in his mouth, and unmasks himself to reveal his clown makeup, before driving off.
Aluminum Christmas Trees: You'd be forgiven for assuming that Skyhook, which Batman uses in Hong Kong a) was never invented for the CIA to get their agents out of tight spots and b) wouldn't work if it was. In fact, it was and it did.
American Accents: Possibly because the movie was filmed in Chicago, Heath Ledger gave The Joker a nasal Chicago accent. Many of the Gotham police officers also sound like Chicagoans. Ron Dean, who plays Wuertz, is notable in that he got typecast as a Chicago Police Department officer in the 1980s and 1990s (such as Above the Law and The Fugitive).
Harvey: When the Republic was threatened, the Romans appointed one man to protect them until the danger had passed. It wasn't considered an honor, it was considered a public service. Rachel: Harvey, the last man they did that with was called Caesar, and he never gave up his power.
Anarchy Is Chaos: The Joker clearly links chaos and anarchy together in his speech to Harvey Dent/Two-Face when he tells him, "Introduce a little anarchy, you upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos."
Angry Guard Dog: Batman is attacked by the Chechen's dogs twice, and both times has difficulty fending them off.
Anyone Can Die: The Dark Knight plays this for all it's worth with the deaths of Rachel and Harvey Dent, AKA Two-Face.
Arc Words: Joker keeps asking "Do you wanna know how I got these scars?". But by the end, Batman doesn't care about his Freudian Excuse.
Armor-Piercing Question: When Joker's big plan fails at the end Batman taunts him by asking "What were you trying to prove? That deep down everyone's as ugly as you?"
Artistic License – History: When Harvey comments about how the ancient Romans would appoint a dictator (Dent avoids using the term) in times of crisis, Rachel claims that Caesar never gave up the title. This is not accurate, as Julius Caesar was "given" the title of "Dictator for Life" by the Senate after he had more or less conquered Rome in a civil war. Despite his assassination, Julius never had to "give up" his position.
For one thing: the fire completely burns and chars all of the skin on the left side of his face. His left eyelid is completely burned away as well as most of his cheek, exposing his jaw muscles and the inside of his mouth, and also leaving that eyeball very vulnerable. For injuries that deep, you would need more prolonged exposure to heat than what would be provided by a thin layer of accelerant on the skin, especially given the fact that Batman was present to pat out the flames.
While a person could reasonably survive the burning, you could not possibly have that much muscle and your left eyeball exposed without the tissue becoming highly infected and necrotic, then die off. You would basically need immediate surgery and skin transplants. Additionally, after the burn scene, Harvey makes facial expressions one should not be able to speak as coherently as he does, since his muscles are so badly damaged.
It's also not possible for him to speak as clearly as he does, since half his normal lips and cheek are missing.
Moreover, people with third degree burns or worse (and Dent appears to have at minimum fifth degree burns) are also highly susceptible to infection. Therefore, they are kept in hospital burn units, where the air they're surrounded with can be temperature regulated.
Artistic License – Physics: The truck flipping scene is truly an awesome visual effect, but it's actually impossible. Assuming Batman does exactly what we see regarding the cable, the truck would have just torn the cable out of the asphalt along with the lampposts, and barely been slowed. And if the cable's anchor held firm, the cable would more likely break. Failing that, the truck would simply, abruptly stop. In no case is it capable of generating the force required to make the trailer rise up and turn with the entire rig over its own front end. Further, the rig itself and the trailer are not a single, rigid piece as shown. The two pieces would form a "V" while doing the flip, due to the trailer lagging behind the tractor as it rotates over. Once bent beyond breaking point, the hitch would fail and the trailer would drop back on its wheels.
Batman being strong enough to bend a rifle barrel? A bit reaching, but hey; he's Batman. The poor dope holding the gun somehow being strong enough to keep a grip on it while Batman bends the barrel? That's a lot harder to excuse.
Actually, Batman was using some sort of hydraulic device in his gauntlet to bend the gun barrel, not just muscle. If you watch the scene again, you can actually hear the hydraulics. Of course, that just makes it all the more unlikely that the guy could still hold onto the gun...
Art Shift: Of a sort. Christopher Nolan stated in an interview that as opposed to the gritty grimy look of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight would be slightly... cleaner, so to speak. Namely, they clean their images up nicely by blowing lots of stuff up.
The Dark Knight was largely missing Batman Begins' classic Gotham deco-influenced skyscrapers. It's also a lot less crowded and a bit brighter in The Dark Knight.
Batman Begins had a city block built inside of an aircraft hanger to represent the slums, including the destructive monorail sequence. The Dark Knight was entirely filmed within downtown Chicago and the surrounding suburbs of the city. The Dark Knight Rises uses Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and New York City, hence the different aesthetics.
Also, the Narrows are said to have been destroyed in the previous film, so they do not appear at all. Although Arkham Asylum is mentioned.
Ask a Stupid Question...: The question that the SWAT officer riding shotgun in the armored truck carrying Harvey Dent says when the Joker aims a rocket launcher at them. "What is that - a bazooka?!"
As Long as It Sounds Foreign: All of the Asian characters in Hong Kong speak flawless Chinese... in the wrong dialect. The standard dialect used in Hong Kong is Cantonese, whereas the characters all speak Mandarin.
As You Know: Rachel and Harvey discussing what a RICO case is and explaining it to Lieutenant Gordon, mostly for the benefit of the audience.
Ax-Crazy: The Joker is the living embodiment of this trope.
Badass: The film presents a Batman at the height of his power, being able to extract a criminal entrenched inside a skyskraper from halfway across the globe, and a Joker who is very good with weapons and able to at least match Batman with some very crazy stunts.
Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: Discussed. Even with the legitimate Gordon in charge, the Major Crimes Unit is still made up of mostly corrupt cops - like Wuertz and Ramirez - and there are only maybe a few clean cops - such as Stephens and Murphy. But when Harvey Dent calls the lieutenant on this, Gordon points out that if he refused to work with such cops, he'd be working alone. This eventually comes back to haunt both of them, as Wuertz and Ramirez turn out to both be on Maroni's payroll and eventually kidnap respectively Harvey and Rachel.
The Bad Guy Wins: Even after all that Batman and Commissioner Gordon did to stop the Joker's mayhem, The Joker proves that even the most noble of men (namely Harvey) can be twisted and their moral code turned to evil.
Badass Bystander: In one of the bank robbery's best gags, the mob bank manager sitting in the background is startled when the Joker, Grumpy and Chuckles come in and Chuckles shoots the ceiling. After Chuckles pistol-whips a guard and starts waving his gun menacingly, the bank manager slowly takes off his glasses, picks up a Sawed-Off Shotgun, and fires a single round through the glass window, hitting Chuckles in the back. He pumps the weapon and goes after the Joker and Grumpy. The Joker (as Bozo) tricks the manager into using his last shell to hit Grumpy in the shoulder before taking him out. As an extra bonus, after unmasking himself, the Joker sticks a gas grenade in the manager's mouth, and also steals his Remington shotgun (which is the shotgun he uses to crash Bruce's fundraiser for Harvey Dent; and he also uses it in the car chase, first to shoot an officer manning one of the police roadblocks, and then to fire on the armored car).
Bad Boss: The Joker will make you kill your friends with a broken pool cue as an "initiation", stick a cell-phone triggered bomb in your stomach, or just burn you alive on a giant pile of money if he thinks it'll be fun.
Ballroom Blitz: The Joker and his men crash Bruce's fundraiser for Harvey Dent.
Bang Bang BANG: The Joker uses a Glock 18 machine pistol in many of the scenes where he does shoot someone. It's well, except for the fact that the sound effect is actually that of a minigun. However, what is averted is that you do hear the natural clinking noise of shell casings hitting the ground.
Bank Robbery: The Joker and some of his clowns rip off a mob bank of $68 million to start the movie
Batman Gambit: Pulled off more frequently and effectively by The Joker than Batman himself.
For Bruce, it's any indication Rachel is in danger. When Joker reveals he has not only Harvey hostage, but Rachel too, Batman completely snaps. Bruce proceeds to smash the clown's head straight into a glass window, and then keeps punching him in the face while screaming "WHERE ARE THEY?"
The same goes for Harvey, who kidnaps one of the fake guards from Commissioner Loeb's funeral and scares him into telling the very little he knows about the Joker by using his two-headed coin as a subversion of the Gambler's Fallacy.
Dent: Heads, you get to keep your head. Tails, not so lucky.
Gambol loses his cool when Joker mentions about his grandma.
Beware the Quiet Ones: Bozo is curiously mute for the length of the bank robbery. Then, once he kills the bus driver, he reveals himself to be the Joker.
Blackmail: Subverted when an accountant stumbles onto Bruce's secret:
Reese: I want... ten million dollars a year, for the rest of my life.
Lucius Fox: Let me get this straight. You think that your client - one of the wealthiest, most influential 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? [Beat] Good luck.
Reese: [clears throat]... keep that....
Black Comedy: Pretty much everything the Joker does means you could treat the movie as something like this. He's that good at it.
Bomb Throwing Anarchist: One of the Joker's prefered methods of destruction, blowing up city officials, police cars and hospitals.
Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: A very brief, wordless example. When Gordon observes of the Joker that there was "nothing in his pockets but knives and lint", we see someone laying out an improbable number of knives on a table, including some items that could easily be repurposed as knives, such as the potato peeler that the handler briefly double-takes at.
Broken Base: In-universe, Gotham's public opinion of Batman is heavily divided (at least until the ending where he accepts the blame for Harvey's crimes).
Broken Pedestal: When Harvey Dent imprisons 549 criminals at once in a RICO case, the mayor warns him that he has to be very careful not to slip up, or everything will be undone. The Joker spends the rest of the movie trying to bring this about, while Batman tries to stop it. Eventually the pedestal is broken when Harvey loses Rachel, half his face, and eventually his mind. He goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in which he kills five people, two of them cops. At the end, Batman decides to take the blame for Harvey's crimes, so that his prosecution and image can be upheld. It does so until the next movie, when Bane exposes the truth.
Bullying a Dragon: Coleman Reese figures out Batman's identity and decides to try and blackmail him, until Fox points out to him that trying to blackmail one of the world's wealthiest and most powerful men about the fact that he's secretly a vigilante who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands has multiple flaws.
Chicago Doubling: Chicago not only plays Gotham, it even plays Hong Kong. When Fox and Lau are conversing on the terraced roof of Lau's Hong Kong office, you can clearly see McCormick Place in the background.
The "Gotham" license plates seen on cars throughout the movie look like Illinois plates, for the specific purpose of making it harder to notice when actual Illinois plates slip in the background.
Call Back: Bruce's slide down the glass to save Rachel almost exactly re-creates his slide down the mountain to save Henri Ducard in Begins.
US Senator Patrick Leahy shows up (the avowed lifelong fan's thirdsuchappearance to date) and defiantly says to the Joker, "we're not intimidated by thugs!" Now that is a campaign platform. He is also in The Dark Knight Rises where his cameo establishes him to be a Wayne Enterprises board member.
Canon Immigrant: The Batbunker. Introduced here as the replacement for the Batcave, it's a big white military-style installation built under a Wayne skyscraper. It eventually made its way to the comics when Bruce Wayne was temporarily killed off and replaced by Dick Grayson: Dick decided he wanted his HQ to be in the heart of the city instead of a mansion on a hill, so he moves into a bunker inspired by the film. He keeps using this base even after Bruce returns.
This is especially appropriate since the original Batcave is also a canon immigrant. It was introduced in the black and white Batman serials of the 1930's (mostly as a way to save money by re-using an already available cave set the studio had sitting around.)
Captain Obvious: The cop in the passenger seat of the paddy wagon has this role. Obviously justified, since the audience would have noticed if Gordon started talking.
Card-Carrying Villain: Played with. Although The Joker never calls himself "evil" or "a villain", he styles himself an "Agent of Chaos", describes all his heinous acts with a grin & smile, and intentionally positions himself as a foil to the heroic Batman and Dent. Also, he actually has a card.
Cartesian Karma: In the end of the film, this is played intentionally by the Joker in order to manipulate Dent and get him to commit enough crimes that he 'falls', and has all the blame shifted towards him, thus destroying the cities hope in their law enforcement. The bat is able to avert this only by taking on the blame himself for Two Face's murders.
When Lau is captured by the police, he gives them the names of all his mob clients as a means of avoiding his own incarceration and stealing all the criminals money for himself. Later in the movie, when Lau is freed from his jail cell by the Joker, he quickly gives up the location of the money to avoid being killed... only for the Joker to burn him alive anyway.
There's also how Joker constantly and shamelessly murders his own allies, though it's hardly surprising given his mission statement. For example, in the bank robbery, he tricks his five clowns into shooting each other for a larger cut, and only has to kill one himself - the bus driver.
Close on Title: In continuation of a Nolan tradition used in the other two movies
Combat Sadomasochist: The Joker loves to inflict pain and suffering, but also seems to like being at the receiving end, particularly in the scene where he is beaten up by Batman.
Complexity Addiction: The Joker loves elaborate sadistic choices, playing cards (both as his business card and signature at some of his killings), and dropping clues about his next targets. After his attempt on Harvey Dent at the fundraiser is aborted, he puts nametags on two men he killed reading "Patrick Harvey" and "Richard Dent" the next night to taunt him. He's also immediately impressed by Harvey's very villainous Heads-or-Tails gimmick.
Continuity Snarl: According to documents in the RICO case Harvey Dent pursues against 549 mobsters, the case was prosecuted on July 25, 2008. It's also mentioned in the movie that Rachel was planning to take Harvey to see a ballet the week after the dinner with one of the ballerinas. However, the novelization also mentions that the dinner took place on a Monday night and then that Bruce tried to get information about Harvey from an associate named Al Grooms the Saturday after, and then the Friday after that, he found Harvey and Rachel making out outside of her apartment. July 25, 2008, is also a Friday. However, this is probably excusable considering the possibility that the writer, Dennis O'Neill, simply got his dates all scrambled. A more glaring continuity error, though, comes after The Joker showed up at the mob meeting uninvited. Specifically, it's the scene where Sal Maroni hires a private eye to find out more about the Joker. Three weeks later, the private eye is dead, having been poisoned. That would've extended the ballet's delay significantly before taking Bruce's unexpected love boat into account.
Cool Bike: The Batpod. Apparently the center part where the rider sits is gyro-stabilized, as it's always upright. Batman catches up with the Joker by taking some major shortcuts during the Wacker Drive car chase (at one point rocketing through Randolph Street Station, racing down the Pedway,), and re-emerges into Joker's view by tumbling out of an alley onto LaSalle Street... while still staying upright. Batman can even drive it up a wall, flip over backwards, and it'll spin around and keep his ears pointing upward.
The Corrupter: The Joker spends most of the film trying to get both Batman and Harvey Dent to give into their base desires and murder everyone in their way. Dent eventually gives in.
Counting Bullets: In the bank robbery, the Joker tricks the bank manager into spending the last pellet in his shotgun on Grumpy's shoulder by pretending to have been counting the bullets. Grumpy then exclaims, "Where did you learn to count?!"
Crazy-Prepared: The Joker actually gives Batman a run for his money, at least when it comes to the "crazy" part: He has pockets full of knives, grenades attached to strings lining his coat, and detonators to strategically placed giant bombs all over town.
The Joker knew that he'd go to save Rachel, and that's why he switched the addresses. It's obvious, really; he's already jumped out a window to save her once. The Joker's also counting on Batman being the only one fast enough to save either of them.
Deadline News: Mike Engel and his crew tempt fate by going to Gotham General Hospital to cover the evacuations. They wind up hostages of the Joker. They all get rescued unharmed at the end but they still become the story they were reporting on.
Deadpan Snarker: Alfred Pennyworth dials up the snarkiness in comparison to the first film.
Alfred Pennyworth:[arriving at the interim Batcave while Bruce Wayne is stitching up a dog bite wound] It'll be nice when Wayne Manor is rebuilt. You can swap not sleeping in a penthouse for not sleeping in a mansion.
but Lucius Fox is still the most obvious example.
Lucius Fox: I must say, compared to your usual requests, jumping out of an airplane is pretty straightforward. Bruce Wayne: And what about getting back in the plane? Lucius Fox: I'd recommend a good travel agent. Bruce Wayne: Without it landing. [beat] Lucius Fox: Now that's more like it, Mr. Wayne.
The Joker meanwhile fills in for Crane as the main villainous snarker:
(After Batman has slammed Joker's head into a table) The Joker: Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy. He can't feel the next blow if... (Batman smashes his hand, and Joker doesn't react) The Joker: See?
Bruce Wayne himself also qualifies.
Alfred: I suppose they'll haul me away too, as your accomplice.
Bruce: Accomplice? I'm going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.
And though he's only in the film for a few minutes, Crane gets in a few good ones too:
Scarecrow: I said my compound would take you places. I never said they'd be places you wanted to go.
A few minutes later:
Copycat: We were just trying to help...
Batman: I don't need any help!
Crane: Not my diagnosis.
Deal with the Devil: Harvey Dent accuses Gordon of this for not getting rid of all the possibly corrupt officers Dent looked into, like Wuertz and Ramirez.
Death by Secret Identity: Subverted. Coleman Reese learns Bruce's identity, but doesn't end up dead despite the Joker's best efforts. Reese does however decide to keep his mouth shut for good after Bruce saves his life. Maybe he did take Fox's advice to forget about blackmailing Bruce.
Also subverted with Rachel, since knowing Bruce's identity has little to nothing to do with the circumstances of her demise.
Death Seeker: Two Face. You think I want to escape? There is no escape from this.
Defiant to the End: In the opening scene bank manager wounded by Bozo/The Joker keeps defying him and asking what does he believe in, rather than playing dead to save his life.
Averted with one of the fake Batmen, who is captured by The Joker. He says that the real Batman is "a symbol that we don't have to be afraid of scum like you", but in fact, on tape, he is pretty afraid.
Delayed Explosion: When the Joker is leaving the hospital as it blows up, but there is a pause he clearly was not expecting, forcing him to mash the detonator button until the blasting resumes.
The 'behind the scenes' extras reveal the delayed blast was a technical difficulty, and the Joker's reaction was completely ad-libbed by Ledger, who never broke character.
Description Cut: After the funeral scene, the police are trying to talk to Batman, but he won't appear.
Stephens: He won't talk to us. God help whoever he does wanna talk to...
Disguised Hostage Gambit: The Joker pulls this in the finale with the people he kidnapped from the hospital, dressing them up as his henchmen while the real henchmen disguise themselves as doctors. This forces Batman to stop the SWAT team from making a fatal mistake.
Disney Villain Death: The Joker almost suffers this, but is saved by Batman. Bonus points for adding maniacal laughter to the fall. Done a few minutes later to Harvey Dent.
Dragon-in-Chief: The Joker offers to work as The Dragon for the mob to take out Batman, but he really wants to use their resources to bring chaos to the streets and become Batman's archenemy. In fact, he believes Gotham deserves a far better class of criminal than the mob... which is why later on he violently takes over.
Dramatic Irony: Dent believes that the police and Batman decided to save him instead of Rachel, when in reality, the Joker set it up such that they'd be saving the person they hadn't intended to save.
Bruce's comments at the fundraiser also count for those familiar with Two-Face from the comics.
Rachel: It's okay, Harvey. It's all right. Listen... some- (BOOM)
Establishing Character Moment: The heist at the beginning sets the stage for how the Joker works. We see just how well the Joker can "play Mousetrap," (especially the entire use of the school bus), his sadistic sense of humor, and the fact he will not only will dispose of henchmen, he'll plan on doing so and not even think twice about it.
Banker: Criminals in this town used to believe in things: honour, respect. Look at you. What do you believe in, huh? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IN!?
The Joker: (removes his mask) I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger.
The Joker mockingly uses this on Batman, after Batman uses Harvey as bait in his place.
The Joker: Even for a guy like me, that's cold.
The big prisoner on the ferry tells the warden that he knows the warden is scared of taking a life, and says if the warden gives him the detonator, he'll "Do what you should'a did ten minutes ago". He then throws the detonator out the window. To make it even better? The rest of the prisoners approved.
The Joker: All you care about is money. This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I'm gonna give it to them.
Evil Is Not a Toy: The mob was content with using the Joker to advance their own interest. That is until he decides he doesn't want to work with them anymore and starts doing worse to them than Batman ever did.
Evil Laugh: The Joker both plays this straight and deliberately mocks it. Which is why he's the Joker. He even gets Mike Engel to read one off cue cards in the Deadline News scene.
Exactly What I Aimed At: The Joker thinks Batman missed during the standoff between the Batpod and the Joker's semi-truck on LaSalle Street when Batman drives away. Then the tow cable Batman attached to the front of the truck flips the whole thing 180 degrees stright up and over.
Exact Words: A peril both of working with and of confronting the Joker.
Batman: Let her go!
Joker: Very poor choice of words.
Scarecrow does this as well: He only told the Chechen that the drug he sells (strongly implied to be the Fear toxin from the previous film) takes people places. He never said whether these places were places that the user actually wanted to go to. The Chechen was evidentially not amused by this statement.
Ginty, on the prisoner ferry boat is a One-Scene Wonder because of this. He tells the warden that he knows the warden doesn't have the guts to blow up the other boat in order to save his own life, even though he doesn't want to die. Then he tells the warden that if he gives him the remote he'll "do what you should have done ten minutes ago". The warden caves in and hands the prisoner the remote- and he throws it out the window into the water.
Excuse Me Coming Through: People run to get out of Batman's way when he drives the Batpod through Randolph Street Station.
Expy: The two corrupt detectives in Gordon's unit - Mike Wuertz and Anna Ramirez - both exhibit this trope.
To elaborate, Wuertz was originally going to be Harvey Bullock, a long-time member of the Batman supporting cast from the comics, and Ramirez was going to be Renee Montoya, who was created for Batman: The Animated Series and was then introduced into the comics. The producers decided to recreate them as original characters because of what happens in the third act, which did not match the character of the characters as previously established. This is clearest in Batman: Gotham Knight, an animated anthology film that bridged the time period between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which introduced Ramirez and featured her partnered with Montoya's comic-book partner Crispus Allen.
Eye Scream: The Joker crashes the mobsters' meeting.
The Joker: How about a magic trick? [slams a pencil into the table, point first] I'm gonna make this pencil disappear...
[Gambol's crony stands up and goes to attack him. In one swift motion the Joker then slams the man's head onto the pencil, forcing the entire pencil through his eye socket; the crony collapses to the floor, dead, taking the pencil with him.]
The Joker's clowns during the bank robbery (Grumpy, Chuckles, Happy, Dopey, and the bus driver) are never seen on-camera without their clown masks on
It's revealed that Gordon faked his death to protect himself from the Joker. He's also disguised as the SWAT officer who drives the armored truck transporting Harvey Dent. Notice that for the duration of the chase, he has his balaclava raised and his goggles lowered to hide his identity.
Family-Unfriendly Death: Specifically, the subversion of the Final Speech. The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, probably because Nolan puts the killing blows off-screen. There's also surprisingly little blood in the film. Nevertheless, the amount of sheer menace the movie manages to wring out of its rating makes it arguably more terrifying than many R-rated Gorn-fests.
False Reassurance: When Maroni tries to barter the identity of the other Mole in Gordon's unit for his life, Two-Face says it couldn't hurt Maroni's chances. This suggests Dent might actually show some mercy, until it turns out the mobster's survival is based on a 50-50 coin toss.
False Roulette: Harvey Dent interrogates one of the Joker's henchmen this way. The revolver is fully loaded, but he's using a two-headed coin, so there's no risk. Not that the henchman or Batman know this, causing Batman to call a What the Hell, Hero? when he arrives.
Batman: You'd leave a man's life to chance?
Harvey: Not exactly.
Fast Roping: The Gotham SWAT team employs this trope to raid the Joker's HQ. Batman comes by later and when he realizes that the hostages and captors have switched clothes, he uses the same rappel lines they used to to tie them up and knock them out.
Fiction 500: Bruce not only uses his massive wealth to fund all his activities as Batman, but he's wealthy enough to own the company that maintains the city's cell towers. He can push out an automatic software update for all cell phones in the city; one that just happens to turn them into surveillance devices.
Fingerprinting Air: Batman pulls a fingerprint from a computer reconstruction of a bullet that had been shot into a wall. Also an example of Artistic License – Physics, as there's no way a fingerprint can survive the explosive heat of the bullet being fired, being run against the rifling of the gun barrel, or the scratches from entering a brick wall. Further, a real bullet wouldn't have fragmented, but pancaked, distorting any pattern beyond usability.
Flaming Emblem: Used heavily in promotional material as evident by the page image.
Harvey Dent: Rachel talks about you all the time. You've known her, her whole life?
Alfred: Well, not yet, sir.
To what will happen in The Dark Knight Rises: The Joker's announcement tells people "that the bridge and tunnel crowd are sure in for a surprise." When Bane takes over Gotham in the third movie, he does it by destroying all of the bridges and imploding all of the tunnels leading onto or off the island.
For the Evulz: The Joker's motive, in a rare believable straight example.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you're wondering how Two-Face gets into Maroni's car, pay close attention to the bodyguard who is on the very left side of the screen. Watching the scene frame-by-frame, while none of the other characters present are watching, you'll see a hand suddenly grab him from behind and drag him off-camera in a split second.
Earlier, the ballet Harvey and Rachel were planning to go see is shown to be Giselle.
At the very least, Maroni and the Chechen seem to be friends regardless of the situation. They shake hands at the gang meeting, and later they're shown having lunch together when Gordon and some cops enter to round them up.
Genre Savvy: Detective Stephens, the cop in charge of watching the Joker. He refuses to play along with the Joker's Hannibal Lecture, telling him: "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." When he ends up falling for it anyway (because the Joker's just that good) and is held hostage at knifepoint, he says to the other officers: "It's my own damn fault, just shoot!"
One of the masked robbers at the beginning who had been ordered to murder one of his partners by the Joker. Once he learned THAT partner had also been given a similar order by the Joker, he realizes that the Joker would most likely have ordered the only other surviving member of their group to murder him and held him at gunpoint before he could do so. He was right. Too bad the Joker had a plan for that
Genre Shift: The Dark Knight has much more in common with crime dramas and thrillers than with straight-up superhero films, and it abandons the elements of adventure and mysticism that Batman Begins used heavily.
Get Into Jail Free: The Joker does this in order to kidnap Lau and make him reveal the location of the mobs' money.
[Cuts to Rachel and Dent arriving at the opera only to find the box office shuttered; stuck to the ticket window is a newspaper article that is headlined "LOVE BOAT: BILLIONAIRE ABSCONDS WITH ENTIRE RUSSIAN BALLET"]
And Alfred only wants to know what the Russian is for "Apply your own bloody suntan lotion."
Glasgow Grin: The Joker. He also inflicts this on the fake Batman he tortures and kills and on Patrick Harvey and Richard Dent.
Bruce: I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.
Alfred: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.
Maroni only allowed the Chechen to hire the Joker because Lau had been captured. In fact, Maroni hates the Joker as much as the good guys, but he's too scared of a reprisal against the Falcone family to rat out the clown until the DA is missing half his face and the assistant DA is dead.
Good Cop/Bad Cop: The Joker accurately predicts that Gordon intends to use a form of this interrogation technique. However, he's caught off guard by discovering that the bad cop is Batman... even though he still doesn't talk until he wants to, because that's how the Joker works.
Gory Discretion Shot: When the Joker kills Gambol. From a shot of the the Joker holding a knife in Gambol's cheek, we get a split-second cut to a henchman's horrified expression, then a shot from the other side of the room as the Joker drops Gambol.
Guile Hero: Harvey Dent because of his political status and indirect, mostly non-violent means. Continues even after he goes on a killing spree, as he consistently manages to use misdirection and quick thinking to get to his targets.
Hellish Copter: During the car chase, two of the Joker's clowns crash a police helicopter by launching grappling cables from opposite sides of LaSalle Street, which the chopper's rotors get ensnared in.
Hero Insurance: Batman doesn't have it, but Gordon does: The car chase results in a very high bodycount among the police escorts (see Hellish Copter for instance), but they do arrest the Joker at the end of it, so Gordon gets promoted to commisioner. And he isn't even demoted back once it turns out the Joker planned to get arrested and breaks out.
Hollywood Law: Local district attorneys cannot charge RICO offenses. Not even the local US Attorneys can, it has to come directly from the Department of Justice. Dent's mass-trial would also count, but the movie points out that he doesn't expect it to succeed and it's only proceeding because of his local stature.
Honor Before Reason: As usual, Batman is unwilling to kill the Joker despite the fact that he's a horrible psychopathic monster who hurts and kills people for fun, albeit in an effort to prove that the system works and that not everyone is as terrible as Joker makes them out to be.
Hopeless Suitor: Batman/Bruce Wayne himself, of all people, is actually this as he spends the whole film pining after Rachel Dawes despite the fact that she's clearly moved on with Harvey Dent.
Hope Spot: An In-Universe one for Harvey; he's lying in a hospital bed recovering from a bomb blast, convinced that Rachel is dead. Then he finds the lucky coin he gave her the last time he saw her alive, left by the side of his bed. He turns it over... the other side's been charred by his own explosion.
Humans Are Bastards: The Joker believes that, deep down, everyone is just as horrible and ugly as he is, and that if they're pushed far enough, anyone will become a murdering psychopath. He's just one of the few smart and brave enough not to hide it.
The Joker: See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.
Hypocrite: The Joker is offended when people call him a "freak", but has no problem calling other people, including himself, "freaks".
I Am Spartacus: When the Joker threatens to keep killing people until Batman unmasks and turns himself in, Harvey Dent makes a public confession that he is Batman and surrenders to the police. However, it turns out to be a sting to get the Joker to come out of hiding, which leads to the car chase.
If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten: After the Joker kills Gambol and takes conrol of his organisation, he makes Gambol's cronies duel each other to the death to see who'll be allowed to join his own gang of thugs, after breaking a pool cue.
Impersonating an Officer: How the Joker and a couple of his men get into the funeral procession for Commissioner Loeb to assassinate Mayor Garcia. They kidnap the seven man honor guard that is supposed to do the 21 round salute, tie them up to a column in an apartment overlooking the procession, then steal their uniforms and weapons, then head down for the procession. When Garcia finishes his eulogy, the fake honor guard starts the 21 round salute. Just after the second volley, in a split second Gordon sees the Joker and his men suddenly spin right and aim their rifles at the mayor. He immediately tackles the mayor to the ground just the Joker fires, the bullet instead hitting Gordon in the chest. The assembled group immediately breaks formation and everyone runs every which way, causing chaos that allows the Joker and all of his men except for Thomas Schiff to escape.
Indy Ploy: The Joker claims to be doing this, no matter how unlikely that may seem.
Joker: Do I really look like a guy with a plan?
Ironic Echo: Not as frequent as it was in Batman Begins, but there are some considerably impactful ones here.
"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
"I am sure a businessman of your stature would understand." Repeated within the same scene.
"I make my own luck", which Harvey says when he's about to try Sal Maroni, is echoed by Rachel saying, "you make your own luck" right before the car chase.
Harvey's fundraiser is absolutely loaded with them, subtle though they may seem. Both Bruce and the Joker enter the party announcing that they're only just in time; both immediately ask "Where is Harvey Dent?" upon arriving; both spill champagne out of a glass, and so on and so forth.
Irony: Commissioner Loeb tells Gordon, "You're unlikely to discover this for yourself" about what being a police commissioner is like. Even people who didn't know Gordon would be Commissioner after Loeb's death were reasonably assured he would eventually follow a similar career path to the comics.
I Will Show You X: During an argument between a witness on the stand and Harvey Dent:
Harvey Dent: I have a sworn statement from you that [points to Maroni] this man is the head of the Falcone crime family.
Rossi: Maroni? He's a fall guy. I'm the brains of the organization!
Harvey Dent (to judge): Your honour, permission to treat the witness as hostile?
Judge Freel: Permission granted.
Rossi: Hostile? I'll show you hostile!
Rossi pulls out a gun and tries to fire it. The gun jams.
Even more, this scene is a nod back to how Two-Face was created in the original comics.
When Batman beats up the Joker. Even discussed, as the Joker criticizes Batman's technique while Batman is beating him.
Batman also throws Maroni off a roof, breaking both his legs, in order to get information. It still doesn't work, as the mob boss doesn't really know anything about The Joker anyway, and if he did, he is far more scared of The Joker than Batman.
Batman: He must have friends!
Salvatore Maroni: [incredulous] Friends? Have you *met* this guy? ... No one's gonna tell you nothin'. They're wise to your act. You got rules. The Joker, he's got no rules. No one's gonna cross him to you.
Dent also makes use of False Roulette to get info out of one of Thomas Schiff. The man cracks quickly, but as it turns out has no information on the Joker's location either.
Jitter Cam: The Joker's home movie of him torturing and killing an imposter Batman in what appears to be a meatpacking plant (based on the presence of animal carcasses in the background).
Jump Scare: This occurs when Harvey Dent and Mayor Garcia are conversing in his office. The mayor slowly walks towards the glass window when suddenly, the Joker-mauled corpse of one of the fake Batmen is flung onto the window right towards his face.
Later, the injured Dent is interrogating Gordon while in the hospital:
Dent: Remember that name you all had for me when I was at Internal Affairs? What was that. Gordon?
Joker: I took Gotham's white knight and I brought him down to our level. It wasn't hard. You see, madness, as you know, is like gravity. All it takes is a little push! [The Joker laughs hysterically as Batman races off and the cops come to take the Joker into custody]
Kansas City Shuffle: When The Joker threatens to kill the mayor, both Batman and the police assume that the only way the Joker could succeed is by using a shooter in the buildings overlooking the funeral; the police set up officers to watch the windows, while Batman takes "fingerprints" off a shattered bullet to track one of the Joker's mooks to his home address near the funeral. It turns out that the Joker and his gang were all disguised as a the ceremonial honor guard giving the 10 gun salute. While the police were watching the windows and Batman was looking through the mook's apartment, Joker was standing with a loaded rifle mere feet from the mayor. Gordon luckily is Genre Savvy enough to jump in front of the mayor with a bullet proof vest on.
Kick the Dog: Joker gets Dent's face burned and his girlfriend killed. He then shows up to Dent's hospital bed to say "Hey, it's your own damn fault for thinking there's such a thing as Order in the first place" to add insult to injury. And yet, it serves to give Harvey a new reason to live.
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."
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?
Alfred Pennyworth: 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
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]
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.
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.
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.
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?"
Joker: You know how I got these scars? Batman: No, but I know how you got these! (launches his spring loaded scallops at Joker's face)
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Subverted... by Batman. Played straight... by the movie itself. And double subverted...due to both. We never hear the Joker's third story but Batman giving him scars makes the movie itself a third story. As a result somehow manages to fit all three.
Joker: You know how I got these scars? Batman: No, but I know how you got these. (Batman launches his gauntlet scallops point-blank into Joker's face)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 SymbolIn 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.
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.
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.
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]
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'.
Also, we see Gordon smash the Bat-Signal in the final trailer, something that hadn't happened at that time in the film.
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.
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.
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.
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, 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.
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]