Series: Gotham

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. note 

"There is a war coming. A terrible war. There will be chaos. Rivers of blood in the street. I know it! I can see it coming!"
Oswald Cobblepot; narration used in the opening credits

A series that started in 2014 on FOX, chronicling the story of a younger James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), an idealistic rookie detective for the Gotham City Police Department, before the Batman and his colorful Rogues Gallery rise to fruition. In fact, his first case is investigating the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne, the future Batman's parents.

Gordon's partner is the slovenly, semi-corrupt Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), while the rest of the cast is rounded out by a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), still reeling from the death of his parents; his butler and guardian Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee), trying to be a father to him; Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), right hand man to mob boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith); and Gordon's fiance, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards).

One of three live-action DC Comics shows to premiere in 2014, along with The CW's The Flash and NBC's Constantine, though being on different networks makes crossovers unlikely.

The first trailer can be viewed here.

This series provides examples of:

  • 10-Minute Retirement: In "What the Little Bird Told Him" Carmine Falcone briefly contemplates giving into Fish Mooney's demand that he relinquish control of the Mob and leave Gotham, in return for Lisa being returned to him safely. He changes his mind after Cobblepot tells him that Liza is a mole for Fish.
  • Abusive Parents: The Pepper household is not a happy home. Ivy's plant obsession appears to be fueled by a need for escapism. Her mother looks like she has recently been punched hard in the eye. Not to mention Ivy's whispered description of her father: "He's mean!"
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Cobblepot has little resemblance to his short Fat Bastard self in the comics (except for a beaky nose). Justified in that he's still quite young at this point, and therefore has plenty of time to grow bald and gain some weight over time.
  • Adaptation Distillation/Pragmatic Adaptation: Borrows elements from various aspects and interpretations of the Batman mythos to create a new unique universe.
    • A lot of elements have been borrowed from Batman: Year One, such as Carmine Falcone's rule over Gotham and Jim Gordon being a new GCPD officer discovering the nexus between the corrupt department and the Mob.
    • The idea of a war between the Falcone and Maroni families, and the instability in Gotham leading to the emergence of 'freaks' might have been taken from The Long Halloween.
    • The possibility of the Wayne murders being an assassination disguised as a mugging-gone-wrong dates back to a story from the 1950's titled "The First Batman".
    • Alfred's portrayal is heavily influenced by his depiction in Batman: Earth One.
    • Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen's partnership is borrowed from Gotham Central.
    • Edward Nygma working for the GCPD is borrowed from what Batman: Arkham Origins revealed about his Arkham Series counterpart prior to becoming the Riddler.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Edward Nygma (The Riddler) works as a police forensic scientist who likes to speak in riddles. However, given that this is Gotham, there is a good chance he could be corrupt or have a psychological breakdown.
    • This version of Bullock has more in common with his Post-Crisis incarnation in the comics, being loyal to Gordon above all and a Knight in Sour Armor, whereas Pre-Crisis he was a corrupt Fat Bastard.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne has always been the key element in Batman’s Origin Story, but on this show it also directly impacts the lives of many of Batman’s future allies and enemies:
    • Catwoman witnessed it.
    • Commissioner Gordon and the Riddler investigated it.
    • Poison Ivy’s father was framed for it and she herself ended up living in the streets as a result.
    • The Penguin’s interference in said frame-up set in motion his rise in the Gotham criminal underworld.
    • The murder cleared the path for the development of Venom, the substance that created Bane.
  • Adaptation Expansion:
    • The show has added new characters, changed some of the existing characters in the Batman mythos, and is mixing/matching various elements from the 75-year-long history of the comic book into this version. The show is relying on Batman: Year One and The Long Halloween for the show's foundation.
    • A notable change is having Selina Kyle at the scene and become the sole witness (other than Bruce) to the Waynes murder thus changing up the dynamic between her and Bruce.
    • The starting point of the conception of this series was the question - "What if Jim Gordon was the detective who investigated the Wayne murders?"
  • Adaptation Name Change: Poison Ivy's real name has been changed from "Pamela Isley" to "Ivy Pepper." The Dollmaker's real name is now Francis Dulmacher, rather than Anton Schott or Barton Mathis.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Most previous adaptations of Alfred Pennyworth depict him as being almost always proper and polite when dealing with others and acting as a Servile Snarker in order to be a counterpoint to Batman's intensity and focus. In this series, Alfred is a much coarser character, speaking flippantly to Gordon and even angrily berating Bruce for disobeying him and putting himself in danger (while still calling the boy "Master"). While atypical, this gruffer portrayal is akin to the depictions of Alfred in Batman: Earth One and Beware the Batman, and is a stressed-out, grieving Alfred dealing with raising a traumatized orphan, rather than the kindly, wise butler he is in adaptations where Bruce is already a grown man.
  • Adaptational Sexuality: Barbara Kean is bisexual, having dated Renee Montoya in the past and having an affair with her in the present.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • In the comics, Sarah Essen was a clean cop, but here, she's a reluctant Dirty Cop.
    • Penguin is more willing to commit bloodshed than other incarnations.
  • Adorkable: Edward Nigma displays this trait, especially during his romantic plot thread.
  • Adult Fear: In "LoveCraft", Bruce is on the run with Selina from assassins and Alfred and Jim are barely able to contain their frantic worry that they'll be killed and they don't know where Bruce and Selina have gone.
    • At the self-help group meeting, Crane gets choked up when he speaks of seeing signs that his son may suffer the same crippling fear as himself. While he's actually there to kidnap a new victim rather than be helped, his confession of fear for his son may not be an act.
  • Affably Evil: Carmine Falcone and Butch Gilzean are both terribly friendly, mild-mannered gangsters. The child-stealing villains of "Selina Kyle" take the cake, though - they talk and act like schoolteachers or children's show hosts from the 1950s. The woman even says "Oh gosh, the cops" when there are no children around to hear them, so it seems genuine.
  • Age Lift: Edward Nygma, Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen and Harvey Dent are all apparently around Gordon's age. In a strictly faithful adaptation they would be Bruce's age or younger. Oswald Cobblepot and Harvey Bullock remain older than Bruce, but they're now closer to Gordon's age.
  • The Alcoholic: After spending a night drinking, Bullock jokes to Gordon that it would take him a couple more drinks for him to sober up.
  • Alliterative Name: In "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon", Fish Mooney's full name is revealed to be Maria Mercedes Mooney.
  • Alone with the Psycho: Harvey walks into this in "Spirit of the Goat". He knows that the person he's talking to is the killer, but doesn't realise the way in which they're going to attack him.
  • Already Met Everyone: While they won't be active as villains (with a few exceptions like Oswald Cobblepot who's already active in the mob), The Bat's most iconic rogues will be seen in the show. In some cases, the show makes them implied Legacy Characters by using their identities for other people; for instance "Black Mask" shows up, but it's not the same character but a relative, and his modus operandi is different.
  • Ambiguous Time Period: Deliberately invoked by the show's production team to give the show a timeless feel. Much like Batman: The Animated Series, Gotham is a mashup of different time periods.
    • The cars date from the 1970s, characters wield modern firearms while carrying old flip phones note . Plus cops and prison guards wear old-fashioned uniformsnote 
    • Televisions are old CRT models, the dominant portable music medium is cassette tape, and an old fashioned glass aspirin bottle without a childproof top is seen in the pilot. Meanwhile, photographers carry the latest DSLRs, and advanced ATMs stand alongside public phones.
    • While Gordon is stated to be a war hero, no information about the war he fought in has been given.
    • A radio quiz states that there are 118 known elements - this was only true in Real Life as of 2010.
    • Homosexuality is tolerated if not accepted. In the comics, Montoya's homosexuality actually led to her being kicked off the force and pushed her into vigilantism.
    • Selina is seen eating Fruit Brute cereal - A cereal only available in the late 70s / early 80s ... and in 2013 / 14.
    • Gordon and Bullock are seen using microfiche to look up old newspaper articles in the episode "Scarecrow".
    • The Grayson/Lloyd feud is said to have started before WWI note , but only 3 generations are mentioned in allusion to it.
  • And Starring: Jada Pinkett Smith.
  • Animal Metaphor: The show plays with metaphors referencing Oswald Cobblepot's nickname, "Penguin", by having Oswald betray a "Fish" Mooney, and by killing a poor fisherman over a sandwich.
  • Appropriated Appellation: While Oswald doesn't like the name "Penguin," Maroni encourages him to embrace it.
  • Artifact of Doom: That red hood has an effect on people who wear it...
  • Artistic License – Biology: While the adrenal cortex does make cortisol in response to long-term stress and worry, it's epinephrine and norepinephrine (aka "adrenaline") from the adrenal medulla which are secreted due to immediate fear, and that would have caused Gerald Crane's pupils to dilate when injected with adrenal extract.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • A major problem Gordon has with his investigations is that many of the victims are lowlifes that that could have pissed off any number of dangerous people and the public does not care if the crimes are ever solved. Bullock tends to refer to these crimes as a "social service" and feels that the victims had it coming and the world is a better place without them.
    • Inverted with the Waynes' murders. The Waynes were beloved and the police must find a culprit quickly or heads will roll. This being Gotham, the police brass take the easy way out and collude with the mob to frame Marlo Pepper for the crime. Pepper is an Asshole Victim himself as he is just the type of lowlife that he would have been more than capable of committing the crime and outside his family and Gordon no one cares that he might be innocent.
    • The Balloon Man sees himself as a Well-Intentioned Extremist, targeting the operator of a Ponzi scheme, a Dirty Cop, and a Pedophile Priest. Hundreds of people wanted them dead and the other cops only start taking the crimes seriously when a cop is killed.
    • When a drug dealer is killed, Gordon is the only one who takes the case seriously and even he is not exactly heartbroken over the guy being dead. Then an honest citizen (the polar opposite of an Asshole Victim) steps forward as a witness but is killed to silence him. The other cops still do not care but Gordon pulls out all the stops to take down the killer.
  • Awesome but Impractical: The weather balloons used by the Balloonman require him to get very close to handcuff his targets to them, he needs a very heavy cart to transport the balloons or else they'll fly away, and can be easily fended off by an aware target.
    • Similarly, the knife-tube used by Gladwell. Lampshaded by him immediately going for a more practical gun once Gordon loses his.
    • Not to mention the Electrocutioner's machines, which are capable of knocking out the entire GCPD, but, since they were built on the go and with spare parts, they could be taken out with a cup of water.
  • Back-Alley Doctor
    • After getting shot, Gordon is taken to a medical student. She treats him in the middle a dissection lab, surrounded by lab rats. He can't go to the hospital because he is on the run from the mob. The trope is downplayed, there is no indication that the care is substandard.
    • Played straight in the next episode. Bullock seeks information from an unlicensed doctor. The police have an agreement not to arrest him as long as he provides information to the police. Of course St. Jim decides to not honor the agreement and arrests him, pissing off the other police officers.
  • Badass: James Gordon might be a rookie detective, but he's a former soldier and a very good hand-to-hand combatant, effortlessly disarming and taking down a large heavily-armed man and then later delivering a beatdown to two mob enforcers until attacked from behind by Mooney.
  • Batman Gambit: Ironically, considering the Trope Namer, Cobblepot manages to pull one off in the pilot episode (which we find out via flashback in Penguin's Umbrella). Oswald asks that Falcone have Gordon kill him, knowing that Gordon's conscience won't allow him to actually kill him. This allows Cobblepot to come back under an assumed name and become a snitch for Falcone inside Maroni's organization. Falcone gets in on the action in cooperation with Cobblepot when the two of them arrange to kill off Falcone's disloyal Russian lieutenant, which also undercuts Mooney's support, and Maroni's lieutenant who is clever enough to see that Cobblepot is manipulating his boss, which simultaneously ends the conflict, sets Cobblepot up as a trusted Maroni ally, and sticks it to Fish without anyone else being the wiser.
  • Battle Butler: Alfred Pennyworth, of course. He demonstrates some off-screen skills in "Penguin's Umbrella" where he is able to get the jump on Allen, an experienced cop; in "Lovecraft", he really shows what he's capable of when hired assassins come after Selina at Wayne Manor.
  • Beautiful Dreamer: In "Spirit of the Goat", Selina sneaks into the Wayne Manor and watches a sleeping Bruce with a small smile on her face.
  • Berserk Button: Don't insult Thomas or Martha Wayne within hearing distance of Bruce Wayne, as Thomas Elliot found out the hard way. Likewise, Alfred actively encouraged Bruce to beat the crap out of Tommy.
    • Don't tell Cobblepot how much he walks like a penguin.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Barbara wanted to be more involved in Gordon's work despite Gordon doing what he could to keep her out. After the events of "Penguin's Umbrella", she learned why.
    • Gordon is desperate to bring down an "untouchable" Dirty Cop so he asks Cobblepot for helping getting the evidence he needs. Cobblepot is happy to help and Gordon is able to arrest the cop and actually have the charges stick. Gordon is then horrified that Cobblepot obtained the evidence by having one of his men torture the wife of another dirty cop and threaten to murder the man's children.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Montoya and Allen roar in to rescue Gordon from Zsasz and his two henchwomen in "Penguin's Umbrella".
  • Bigger Bad: Whoever ordered the hit on the Waynes. Lovecraft proves it wasn't a random mugging.
    • The Dollmaker is this for the episode "Selina Kyle" — he's the one organizing the kidnapping of the street children, but not only does he never show up, it's never explained why he's doing this.
    • WellZyn - and by extension, Wayne Enterprise was this in "Viper".
  • Bittersweet Ending: To really show how corrupt Gotham really is, most of the episodes end like this. No matter what Gordon does, he just can't make a difference that lasts. That of course sets the stage for Batman to begin his war and help Gordon, so matter how high the criminals may set themselves up and feel invincible, they will all be terrorized by the Dark Knight.
    • In "Pilot", Thomas and Martha Wayne's murderer is still out there, Gordon is forced into the program, Bullock is revealed to be corrupt. The only thing that keeps this from becoming a Downer Ending is the promise Gordon made to Bruce at the end.
    • "Selina Kyle" ends with the child snatcher caught but all the kids except Selina still "sent to prison without a trial".
    • "The Balloonman" is captured, but he himself is just a victim of Gotham's corruption. The episode ends with Gordon in doubt that he can ever free the city of its corruption.
    • "Arkham" ends with Gordon preventing the murder of the mayor and thus stopping a bloody Mob War that would have killed hundreds. However, the resulting compromise means that the ambitious plan of making a rebuilt Arkham into the nucleus of a revitalized Gotham, has been suborned as yet another money-making scheme for the mob and no real change will happen. Young Bruce can only watch as his parents' dream is destroyed on live TV.
    • "Viper", the man responsible for said drug kills himself. But "Viper" is only the prototype of a much more dangerous pharmaceutical weapon "Venom" developed by the Wayne Enterprise. When Gordon arrives at a warehouse (presumably where the drug was stored), the place is cleaned out. By a Wayne employee said to be close to Thomas Wayne himself. However, Bruce has a good formative experience as a detective with his first field interview and now knows Alfred supports his crusade.
    • "Spirit of the Goat", Cobblepot openly reveals he's alive, which gets Gordon out of potential legal trouble for killing him. However, it puts Gordon and probably Bullock in trouble with Falcone and Mooney for not killing him.
    • "Penguin's Umbrella" ends with Gordon, Bullock and Barbara alive and no longer hunted by Falcone's men. However, Falcone wins once again and it is made abundantly clear that the heroes are all alone when it comes to fighting corruption in Gotham. The other cops (with the exception of Montoya and Allen) are so scared of Falcone that they will not hesitate to hand over one of their own to be killed if it averts Falcone's wrath.
    • "Lovecraft", the fall finale, ends with Bruce and Selina both safe (relatively speaking) and even striking up some kind of relationship.. However, things don't end nearly so well for Gordon who is transferred by the corrupt mayor to Arkham Asylym, for his continued defiant investigation of the Wayne murders.
    • "What the Little Bird Told Him" is an aversion so rare that it's worth mentioning. Jim Gordon almost single-handedly brings down Jack Gruber (aka the Electrocutioner), as a result of which he is reinstated as a Detective in the Homicide Unit, and is now ready to pursue his campaign against the corrupt system with renewed vigor. Not to mention, he ends up getting a new love interest in Dr. Leslie Thompkins. Played somewhat straight when you consider the brutal murder of Lisa (a relative innocent) at Falcone's hands.
  • Bi the Way: Barbara Kean, who evidently dated Rene Montoya in the past.
    • At the end of "Harvey Dent", we find Barbara back with Montoya, though Gordon doesn't know this yet.
  • Black Comedy: In the pilot, Fish hires a comedian who seems to specialize in it. She finds it hilarious.
    • The show itself seems to run on this, with at least one bizarre scene or death per episode.
  • Black Boss Lady
  • Bloodless Carnage: Averted. Most primetime shows will only use small squibs to show a character has been shot, sometimes not even that. This show uses bigger squibs and also includes spectacularly exploding blood packs. Very averted in episode 2, where Selina claws out a man's eyes.
    • In "Penquin's Umbrella", Gordon was shot and he left behind a trail of blood.
  • Body Horror: People who take Viper have the calcium drained from their bones, eventually causing them to break down in a bloody mess.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Oswald Cobblepot would love to be a tough guy like his associates, but he just doesn't seem to have much to work with for most of the first episode. Even when Fish Mooney pushes his Berserk Button by calling him "Penguin", the result is not an Unstoppable Rage but Cobblepot getting his ass handed to him once again.
  • Break the Haughty: Fish believes she could usurp Carmine Falcone and that he is "old and soft". Falcone pays a visit to her club and proves how wrong she is... by beating up a barman she cares about. She is forced to watch tearfully and is visibly shaken by the ordeal. Possibly she was faking the "tearfully" part however, as she quite calmly orders her second-in-command to get rid of the barman in question in the next episode, not having any use for a banged-up employee or boytoy.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Probably one of the biggest problems there is in Gotham. Despite all the crime and corruption that go on in the city virtually nobody cares.
  • Call Forward: Understandably, given this is a prequel series.
    • In the pilot, Bruce tells Gordon that he's glad that his parent's killer is still out there because "[he] wants to see him again". In several interpretations of the Batman mythos, Bruce at some point DOES see his parent's killer again.
    • Bruce's assertion that the 'Balloonman', while he hunted criminals, was as much a criminal because he killed; foreshadows the no-killing rule he will rigidly adhere to when he becomes a vigilante himself.
    • In "Viper", the titular drug is revealed towards the end of the episode to be a pre-cursor to Venom.
    • The fact that Bruce can perform a Stealth Hi/Bye even at this age.
    • After the titular vigilante "Balloonman" was arrested, a reporter asks who would protect Gotham now while the camera focuses on Bruce.
    • The Balloonman himself tells Gordon that there will be other vigilantes who will follow his lead.
    • In "Spirit of the Goat", Barbara tells James she is 'negotiating terms'...an interesting choice of words considering that in the comics she ends up divorcing him.
    • Edward Nygma happens to carry a mug with a question mark on it. He also has a tie printed with them.
    • Harvey Dent is often shown with one side of his face in shadow, and is already deciding others' fate with a rigged coin-toss.
    • In Lovecraft, Bruce tells Selina that she's a 'good person', but not 'nice'. His words are, in a sense, reflective of how in most interpretations Batman traditionally has considered Catwoman to be a criminal, albeit one who's heart is in the right place.
    • In "Welcome Back, Jim Gordon", Cobblepot briefly takes over Fish Mooney's nightclub and claims it as his own. In the comics, he does indeed run his own club, the Iceberg Lounge. Eventually, he legitimately gets the entire club to himself, renaming it "Oswald's" and replacing the fish neon sign with that of an umbrella.
  • Camp: Though the series uses many grim noirish trappings, it goes much farther than the Dark Knight Saga with including comic book elements, such as the Balloonman's charmingly silly murder method. This almost unique styling has been affectionately called Grim Camp or Goth Ham.
  • Canon Foreigner: Fish Mooney is a crime boss and nightclub owner created for the show, who has ambitions to take Falcone's spot as the top crime boss in Gotham. Since Falcone is still in power and Fish is never mentioned by the time Batman arrives, it's a good guess that her plans don't succeed.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Bruce awakens from a nightmare like this in the fourth episode.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Selina teaches a crying kid being sent "upstate" with her to always "go for the eyes" if he needs to defend himself. Quite cute at the time, except she wasn't kidding...
  • Civvie Spandex: Selina Kyle doesn't wear a costume yet, but does sport a black jacket and a pair of goggles.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Would be justified, given that this is a prequel series, but there are surprisingly a significant number of aversions.
    • Oswald Cobblepot is frequently called 'Penguin' as a taunt, and embraces the name once he starts working for Sal Maroni.
    • Selina Kyle is known on the streets almost exclusively as 'the Cat', which is very close to her comic-book codename 'Catwoman' (and in fact was her original moniker in her first few Golden Age appearances).
    • 'Balloon Man' and 'the Electrocutioner' are dubbed as such by the media.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: In "Penguin's Umbrella", when Bullock pulls a gun on Gordon in the locker room for not killing Oswald Cobblepot, two police officers arrives to see what's going on. While Bullock is telling the officers to go away, Gordon uses this opportunity to disarm him.
  • The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: a witness to a murder is brought back to the GCPD station to give a statement, then stabbed in the back twice with an icepick. It's ruled a suicide, until Gordon pursues it and finds the murderer.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: In "Viper", it's revealed that Wayne Enterprises was involved with human experimentation on the drug Viper, or what will be known as Venom, to create super soldiers. One member who was supposedly a close friend with Thomas Wayne helped to clean up any evidence that might trace back to them and watched Gordon and Bullock from afar.
  • Crapsack World: Being a pre-Batman Gotham City, it should come as no surprise that the city is a Wretched Hive Of Scum And Villainy.
  • Create Your Own Villain: WellZyn , subsidiary of Wayne Enterprises is responsible for the creation of Venom, the drug that gives Bane his strength.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: In "Masks" we have three office personnel vs Gordon who is Ex-Military. Guess who wins.
  • Cut the Juice: How Gordon defeats the Electrocutioner. He just tosses a cup of water onto his electronics, shorting them out.
  • Cycle of Revenge:
    • Falcone had Fish watch as her "boytoy" was beaten to a pulp due to her earlier insubordination and attempts to betray him. She retaliates by ordering a hit on his mistress.
    • What the war between Falcone and Maroni is becoming. Maroni's restaurant was attacked and robbed by Falcone's men actually orchestrated by Cobblepot to make it look like Falcone was involved so Maroni wants to rob one of Falcone's casinos. In the whole tug of war to gain land on Arkham Asylum, both mob factions hired hitmen to take out the councilmen who supported the other mob to lean the vote towards their favor.
  • The Cynic: Harvey Bullock has been on the police force a long time, and knows what Gotham is like, leading him to adopt a Cowboy Cop approach to his police work, much to Gordon's initial chagrin.
  • Darker and Edgier: Definitely so, when compared to the previous Fox-produced Batman TV show with Adam West. On the other hand, it appears to be shaping up to be a tad Lighter and Softer than the Nolan films, at least in the sense that some of the dark humor of the Burton films (and the 1990s Batman comics that took their cues from those films) is sprinkled throughout. Also like the Burton films, Gotham has a more old-fashioned, stylized, "Hollywood" look to it than the This Is Reality aesthetic of the Nolan films, so it appears that at least some of the "cartoony" elements of the comics and the previous movies will be making a comeback here.
  • Death by Looking Up: Happens in "The Balloonman" when Lieutenant Cranston's body plummets back to earth. A woman out walking her dog looks up just in time to be squashed by Cranston's corpse.
  • Death Faked for You: At the end of the pilot, when Falcone orders Gordon to get with the program by killing the treacherous Cobblepot, Gordon instead only pretends to shoot him and tosses him in the river, with instructions to never come back to Gotham.
  • Dirty Cop: A number of people on the force are corrupt, as per usual in pre-/early-Batman stories. It's so bad at this point the cops themselves don't seem to have a problem admitting it in public.
  • The Don: Falcone is the lord of Gotham's underworld and has been for at least fifteen yearsnote .
  • Do Not Go Gentle: In "Penquin's Umbrella", both Gordon and Bullock knew they were wanted men by Falcone and it was only a matter of time before they would be killed so they decided to sneak into Falcone's mansion to arrest the mayor and Falcone for framing Mario Pepper.
  • Doomed by Canon: No matter what Gordon does throughout the series, what victories he has in his bid to clean up Gotham, eventually things have to still be bad (or get worse) enough for Gotham to need Batman. However, his own career will go from a cop alone and loathed in a corrupt force to become its Commissioner who commands the loyalty of most of the cops below him.
    • Likewise, no matter what, Ivy Pepper, Selina Kyle, and Edward Nygma (among others) are destined to become criminals. And Bruce Wayne, of course, is destined to become Batman.
    • Possibly averted with Fish Mooney and any other original characters that may be created for the show. The writers have considerably more leeway when it comes to their fates, without running the risk of violating Status Quo Is God.
  • Downer Ending: Red Hood ends on a rather depressing note. Alfred is stabbed by his old friend Reggie and sent to the hospital in critical condition (much to Bruce's distress). Reggie is eventually revealed to be a spy for the corrupt Wayne Enterprises board, sent in to find out how much vital information Bruce had discovered about the company (to make matters worse, they intended for him to attack Alfred as well). Meanwhile, a young boy discovers the Red Hood's mask, puts it on, and pretends to shoot the cops. This implies that the Red Hood Gang's legacy had influenced the citizens of Gotham to become vigilant, and that new members of the gang would eventually spread in the future.
  • The Dragon: Cobblepot wishes he was this to Fish. In reality, her number two is Butch Gilzean.
    • Falcone admits to Maroni he'd rather like to have Penguin as his close adviser, because Cobblepot is clever enough to be useful, but also (or so Falcone assumes) realistic enough to know that The Dragon is the highest position a little weirdo like him could get away with aspiring to.
  • Driving Question: Who killed the Waynes, and why?
  • Eat the Rich: Since the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne, several people have begun to attack the upper class and authority figures of Gotham for being corrupt.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Cobblepot is already called "Penguin" and he absolutely hates it. He then gets a limp that causes him to walk like one...
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The mobsters and crime lords have a variety of henchmen and henchwomen of different backgrounds such as European and Asian backgrounds. Maroni's gang may be less open-minded, as he's very pleased that Penguin claims his Italian father's heritage. (At least, Penguin says this to Maroni upon meeting him under an Italian false name.)
  • Establishing Character Moment: In the opening scene of the Pilot, a criminal has a cop hostage demanding pills. Jim distracts him with a bottle of aspirin, takes the perp down with the cop being no worse for wear, and is criticized for not shooting him. Meanwhile, Bullock just lackadaisically reads his newspaper.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Falcone's claim as to why Mario Pepper was framed is that it would prevent panic from breaking out because citizens lost faith in the system, and that he genuinely loves Gotham and doesn't want to see it go to hell.
      Falcone: You can't have organized crime without law and order.
    • Mayor James may be corrupt, but he'll go to any lengths—even NDAA 2012-style juvenile detention—to keep the city's children safe, even if he doesn't care about them enough to bother looking for actual homes for many of them, and when the Dollmaker's minions hijack a bus heading upstate he's genuinely upset; he just made a public proclamation that the kids of Gotham would be safe from the Dollmaker's minions and those same minions kidnapped an entire bus out from under his nose.
    • Whoever killed the Waynes must've realized he was pointing his gun at a child, because he hesitated before slowly lowering the gun and fleeing.
    • In "Rogue's Gallery", Maroni punishes Oswald by making him spend a day in jail, for going behind his back and trying to extort more money from fishermen, who, in his own words "go out into the ocean and risk their lives for you and me".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Fish Mooney saw her lover's concerns for her as a sign he was becoming weak and had one of her henchmen dispose of him.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Fish Mooney has at least one ridiculous scene per episode, although it's unknown whether she is really this hammy or if it's a show for her subordinates/customers.
  • Evil Laugh: Jerome (who is hinted to possibly become the Joker) has a disturbing, maniacal one in "The Blind Fortune Teller".
  • Evil Versus Evil: Don Falcone vs. Crime Boss Maroni. Guess which one is the greater of two evils in charge of the Gotham underworld?
  • Exact Words: Gordon tells Essen he didn't leak news of the child kidnapping ring to the press. He didn't; he told Barbara, and she told the press.
  • Eye Scream: Selina Kyle tells another child that if he gets into a fight, he should scratch out the other guys' eyes. Later we see the result of her fight with one of the kidnappers, and it turns out she was being more literal than you'd expect.
    • This was how the hitman in "Arkham" killed two of his victims by using a telescope device with a blade.
    • The Dollmaker harvests the eyes from one of his captives, and throws her back in the prison without so much as a bandage.
  • The Faceless: The masked man who killed the Waynes, to the point of Nothing Is Scarier / The Ghost. As Bullock pointed out, it was just one of ten thousand street muggings that happened to go bad and the odds are extremely low that they will ever find him again due to not having any repeat muggings and his face is never seen. Which made him more of a concept for Bruce.
  • Fake Defector: Almost all Cobblepot's actions after he was caught snitching to Crispus and Montoya was to enable ingratiating himself to Maroni, not to get vengeance on Mooney and Falcone for ordering his death, but to act as a spy for Falcone while allowing Falcone to eliminate disloyalty in his own organization without anyone else being the wiser.
  • The Fall Guy: Mario Pepper is framed for the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents since the case is too high profile to remain unsolved for too long. With Pepper taking the fall, the cops are made to look like heroes, the mayor is seen as having a handle on the rising crime in Gotham and the mob does not have to deal with the extra police attention. It helps that Pepper was a violent criminal that no one, perhaps not even his family, will miss.
  • False Flag Operation: In "Arkham", a bunch of thugs rob a restaurant owned by Maroni, killing the manager in the process. Obviously, this is a move by Falcone, right? Wrong. It was actually Cobblepot who engineered everything, in order to get closer to Maroni, and heat up tensions between the mob bosses for his own ends.
  • False Reassurance - Maroni tells Penguin that there is nothing wrong with being a bit nervous. Then he tell him that if the robbery that he helped plan goes south he'll kill the Penguin.
  • Fantastic Drug: Viper, in the episode of the same name, gives its users super strength and a god complex, but at the cost of draining calcium from their bones at a rapid pace, eventually killing them. It also turns out to be a precursor to Venom, Bane's drug of choice.
    • Gerald Crane's experimental fear serum also.
  • Fatal Flaw: Cobblepot weaponizes this in "Penguin's Umbrella" when he uses Frankie's greed for money to turn his own henchmen against him since he would hoard money for himseld and give little to others.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The various mob members; special mention goes to Cobblepot and Mooney. On the flipside, however, a couple of mob figures are quite friendly, such as Butch Gilzean and Don Falcone, at least to Jim Gordon.
  • Feuding Families: The Graysons and the Lloyds have been since before World War I… over a stolen horse.
    Bullock: "Must have been one hell of a horse"
  • Film Noir: As appropriate for Batman, the series borrows heavily from the ethos of Film Noir: the city is drowning in corruption. Dutch angles. No one gets what they want and everyone gets what's coming to them. Black and Gray Morality. Bittersweet Endings are the norm.
  • A Fistful Of Rehashes: One of the several plots of the series involves Cobblepot using the conflict between Don Falcone and Crime Boss Maroni to his own ends. To those that knew him after his faked death, he was a stranger, at least until he revealed himself first to Crime Boss Maroni and then to the whole GCPD.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Given that this is an origin to the Batman mythos, it's pretty obvious what will happen to certain characters.
    • The cops will lose their war for Gotham, allowing Batman to step in.
    • Gordon's fight against mob influence over the GCPD will lead to him becoming Commissioner and Batman's staunchest ally. Whether or not Montoya, Allen and Bullock remain part of his reformed police force remain in question.
    • Averted with Fish Mooney, an original character who was presumably included specifically to give the show a villain it could kill off if desired.
    • The plot of "Arkham" revolves around competing development plans for the Arkham district; however, we know that no matter what happens Arkham Asylum won't be torn down and will survive well into Bruce's adulthood and career as Batman.
    • No matter how strong of an ally Edward Nygma may be in the struggle to take down Gotham's criminals, something will eventually cause him to snap, sparking his descent into crime and madness and transforming him into the Riddler.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: Half-way through the first season, there are distinct and mostly-separate plotlines following 1. Gordon, 2. Penguin, 3. Bruce, and 4. Fish Mooney. This tends to result in each storyline taking baby-steps in a given episode, or simplified story-lines — Gordon and Bullock's crime investigations tend to be mostly over after following up on their first lead, for instance. Earlier in the series, it was closer to Two Lines, No Waiting, as the Fish and Penguin shared a plotline, as did Bruce and Gordon, but they've since each split apart aside from the occasional brief intersection.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: The main players of Gotham - Gordon (Phlegmatic), Falcone (Melancholic), Mooney (Choleric), and Cobblepot (Sanguine).
  • "Friends" Rent Control: Averted. We never actually see Gordon's apartment; that's Barabara's giant gorgeous loft, and he doesn't stay there after she leaves.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Series. As the show essentially focuses on all of Batman's Rogues Gallery before they become his Rogues Gallery.
    • Special mention goes to Oswald Cobblepot who starts out as a petty mook who will later become Gotham's chief crime boss, the Penguin.
    • Another special mention is the Joker. According to the creators themselves, there will be a number of candidates for the title of the Clown Prince of Crime, which makes the implication that any nobody on the street could become the biggest threat to Gotham that much creepier.
    • Young Bruce, although heir to his parents' fortune, hasn't yet achieved much of anything to distinguish himself, but we're seeing the roots of his evolution into criminals' worst nightmare of all.
  • Gambit Pileup: Every major criminal character in Gotham has some plan to come out on top in the Falcone-Maroni war.
  • Go for the Eye: Selina’s go-to maneuver when in a fight; viciously enough to actually claw them all the way out.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Selina Kyle is usually seen with a pair of green goggles on top of her hood, perhaps as a nod to more modern versions of Catwoman who wears goggles as part of her costume.
  • Good Feels Good: After she steps up to back-up Gordon when he arrests a drug-dealing, witness-murdering detective, Essen admits to Gordon that it did feel good to do the right thing.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Gordon is the only decent cop in the police force and has a soft spot for children, evident by him comforting Bruce after his parents' death. But he is someone you don't want to mess with when angered.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: The reason why Montoya is going behind Gordon's back to tell Barbara he is a dirty cop without any real evidence to back her up. She still has feelings for Barbara and wants to break up Gordon and Barbara.
  • Grievous Bottley Harm: In "Selina Kyle", Cobblepot smashes a beer bottle and stabs the two college kids who give him a lift after they push his Berserk Button by calling him 'a penguin'.
  • Hellhole Prison: The juvenille hall upstate is not a nice place if Selina and Ivy's comments are anything to go by.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In "Penguin's Umbrella", Bullock lampshaded this as he was able to find Gordon in Barbara's apartment because he suspected Gordon would go to someplace the mob thought would be too obvious to throw them off.
  • High Voltage Death: Jack Gruber kills a man, who was answering the door, at an electronics store by running an electric current through the doorknob, and frying him.
  • Honey Pot: Fish trains Liza to be one for Falcone.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Bullock mentions this to the Balloonman while he handcuffs the Vigilante Man to one of his own weather balloons. He even says the name of the trope: "How does it feel to be hoist by your own petard?"
  • Honor Before Reason: Gordon is adamant to resolve the Wayne murders even if the case is officially closed.
  • Hypocrite: Barbara is upset that Gordon isn't entirely truthful about how he knows Cobblepot, when she herself is keeping secrets about her taking drugs.
    • Barbara again, when she calls Gordon's house and a woman replies (actually Ivy after she and Selina broke into Gordon's house to get out of the storm). She angrily hangs up thinking that Gordon is seeing another woman and declares that "I'm done with him". This after she left him a "Dear John" Letter, never stated she was coming back so he didn't know if she would be coming back, and the biggest complaint she made at him for not waiting for her, literally not even hours after she just cheated on Gordon with Renee. At this point one could think that Ivy just did Gordon a favor.
  • I Am Your Father: In "The Blind Fortune Teller", Cicero reveals that he is Jerome's father (he even says these exact words). This only pushes Jerome's sanity even further.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: In "The Balloonman", the GCPD decides that It's Personal when one of their own gets sent to the stratosphere by the eponymous vigilante; however, Gordon and especially Bruce decide the Balloonman already crossed the line earlier by killing criminals in the first place.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Justified with Zsasz and his henchwomen in "Penguin's Umbrella". They weren't trying to kill Gordon, only bring him back alive and specifically aimed for non-lethal areas.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Give the Balloonman points for creativity: the vigilante kills by handcuffing his targets to weather balloons that carry them away, either to die from exposure while aloft or from plummeting down when the balloon ruptures.
  • Improvised Weapon: In "Masks", Alfred gives Thomas Wayne's watch to Bruce, for him to use as an improvised knuckle duster.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Fish figures out Oswald snitched to the cops when she finds out the cops knew she was in possession of Martha Wayne's pearl necklace before framing Mario Pepper with it. She knows Oswald was the only one who saw her with that.
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Alfred refusing to take Bruce to see a psychiatrist, which is poorly used to enable his eventual life as Batman.
    • Barbara latched onto it tightly in "Arkham" by demanding to know about Cobblepot even after she had thrown that possibility out the window in "Selina Kyle"; after she had called about the child snatchers, Gordon now refuses to trust her with any more of his secrets, especially concerning Cobblepot (and rightly so, too).
    • And again in "Penguin's Umbrella" when, after both Renee and Jim urge her to leave town, Jim specifically explaining to her that she's a weapon that can be used against him and putting her on a train out of the state, Barbara returns, without telling either of them and goes to Falcone to plead for Jim's life. This leads to an abduction that she ''still'' hasn't gotten over.
    • And again in "Rogues Gallery" (noticing a pattern here?), where Barbara is unable to distinguish the voice of a 12 year old girl from that of a grown woman in order to add more fuel to the relationship subplot fire.
  • I Have Your Wife: Falcone convinces Gordon to refrain from arresting him because he has taken Barbara captive in "Penguin's Umbrella".
  • I'll Kill You!: Fish gives a good one about Falcone. Not in his presence, of course.
    Fish: I swear, Butch, on my sainted mother’s grave, someday soon I am gonna kill that old man with my bare hands, and my teeth.
  • Innocent Bystander: In "Penquin's Umbrella", a poor cop happened to stumble upon Victor and his henchwomen gunning for the injured Gordon, buying Gordon enough time to escape at the cost of her life.
  • Instant Sedation: In ''The Mask", Gordon is knocked out by an injection to the neck within seconds.
  • Interservice Rivalry: In the Gotham Police, there is one between Homicide Division and the Major Crimes Unit. The Major Crimes Unit want to take over the Waynes' murder case from Harvey and Jim. It gets more intense when Cobblepot tells MCU that Mario Pepper was framed, and they jump to the conclusion that Bullock and Jim were in on it.
  • Internal Reveal: Penguin shows himself to the GCPD in the end of the 6th episode.
  • It's All About Me: Barbara seems to make any problem that is going on and twist it in a way to how it is causing her problems.
  • It Will Never Catch On: When Alfred tells Gordon that Bruce is free to choose his own path, Gordon replies with "Sounds like a recipe for disaster."
  • Jerk Jock: The Lloyds make no secret that this is what they consider the Graysons to be.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Alfred. We know that he cares about Bruce, but he comes off as extremely abrasive, though this appears to be a sort of tough love approach. This is well exhibited at the beginning of "Selina Kyle", where after learning that Bruce has been burning himself to "test his own strength", he responds by first smacking him and calling him a "stupid boy", followed immediately by tightly hugging him and trying to reassure him.
    • Bullock shows some sign beneath his Jerk Ass cynicism that he's sympathetic to Gordon's naivety. There's also the implication, after Da Chief accuses him of ratting out the department to the press again, that he has a bit of a reputation as a whistleblower. In "Spirit of the Goat" it's shown that Bullock used to be a wide-eyed idealist similar to Gordon before the titular case broke him. He's also shown to be paying for his retired, crippled ex-partner's stay in a nursing home. Said partner tells Gordon that Harvey's a "white knight" type.
  • Jurisdiction Friction:
    • Gotham PD has both a Homicide division and a Major Crimes division, both of which are at odds with each other over who gets which murder cases. There's also a lot of hostility due to the accusations of one side being corrupt over the other.
    • Things really come to a head when Montoya and Allen grab Gordon for Cobblepot's murder, with even Captain Essen voicing her displeasure towards them for trying to incapacitate her best men. This time, it takes none other than Cobblepot himself showing up to stop this skirmish. But the real war will soon begin as a result...
  • Just a Kid: Bruce gets angry with Gordon in "Penguin's Umbrella" when Gordon was keeping out full details of his involvement with the mob due to the fact Bruce was a child. All Gordon could say was that it all tied into his resolve to solve the Wayne murder case once and for all.
  • Kitchen Chase: In "Pilot", when Mario Pepper flees from Jim Gordon, the last place he runs through is a commercial kitchen, where he snatches up a knife he later uses to try to kill Jim.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Bullock, according to his ex-partner in "Spirit of the Goat".
  • Lampshade Hanging: In "LoveCraft", when Harvey and Alfred arrive at a fence's place to find Selena and Bruce, and Alfred immediately open fire on the people inside, Harvey loudly asks if he's the only one who waits for backup in this town.
  • Legacy Character: Gotham seems to be using this trope in order to introduce villains who would otherwise not exist in a pre-Batman Gotham.
    • In "The Mask", a version of Black Mask is introduced and identified as Richard Sionis. Presumably, he is related to Roman Sionis, the man who is Black Mask in the comics.
    • The foundations of Scarecrow are established this way. Jonathan Crane's father was researching a "cure for fear", discovering a likely precursor to the Scarecrow's fear-inducing chemical agents along the way.
    • Subverted in The Spirit of the Goat. Jim and Harvey initially believe that the new Goat is someone inspired by the original, who Bullock brought down ten years ago. But it is eventually revealed that both men were Brainwashed by a hypnotist, who used them as part of her quest against the city's rich.
    • The Red Hood becomes one on the same day the identity is created. A criminal brings a red hood to wear to a bank robbery and subsequently attracts a fair bit of public attention. When the criminal is killed, his boss decides to put on the hood and use the notoriety to help in his next heist. More No Honor Among Thieves ensues and the hood is passed on. After the police deal with the bank robbers, we see a bystander pick the hood up and try it on.
  • Lesbian Cop: Montoya, as in the comics.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Not on a physical level, but both Gordon and Montoya's Major Crimes Unit team think the other is corrupt, and they come into jurisdictional conflict because of this in the first episodes.
  • Like Mother, Like Son: Informing to the police on your enemies to get them out of the way seems to be a proud Kapelput / Cobblepot family tradition.
  • Living in a Furniture Store: Barbara's apartment is very clean and tidy.
  • The Load: Barbara's narrative role has so far been entirely restricted to making life and his job more difficult for Jim, even when the required behavior makes more sense (e.g. demanding to know details of an active police investigation for no reason).
  • Loose Lips: Harvey Dent promises never to reveal that Selina is the witness who saw the Wayne murders and can identify the killer. He keeps the promise but in an attempt to bolster his case he mentions that Gordon is involved. This information gets back to the bad guys and they quickly figure out who Gordon is protecting and that he is hiding her in the Wayne Manor.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: Myriam Loeb, is literally kept in a room in the attic of a farmhouse under the care of a former Arkham nurse and her husband. For her safety and everyone else’s, since she’s crazy and has killed at least one person.
  • Man Hug: Bruce hugs Gordon in "Penquin's Umbrella" when he believed that this might be his last time seeing Gordon. Borderline The Un-Hug as Gordon initially extended his hand for a handshake and was not expecting a hug.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": For very different reasons, every single named character in the final scene of "Spirit of the Goat" looks like they’re about to have a coronary when Oswald Cobblepot walks into the precinct.
  • Meaningful Name: Possibly the case for Fish Mooney. What do penguins prey on?
    • And future meaningful names E. Nygma and Ivy.
  • Mid-Season Twist: "Penguin's Umbrella" reveals in its final moments that Cobblepot has been working for Falcone since the pilot, and everything he's done since has been part of a plan to eliminate Falcone's enemies and disloyal lieutenants.
  • Mob War: Falcone is the chief crime boss in charge of Gotham, but he's getting old and losing his hold on the city, which means rivals and underlings like Mooney want to take his place; Cobblepot is Genre Savvy enough to see the carnage coming, and plans to take advantage of it to further his ambitions accordingly.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Discussed in "Everyone Has a Cobblepot". Bullock reveals that he's one of many cops put under Loeb's control by a crime they had committed earlier in their careers. invoked
  • Moral Myopia: The Gotham police department minus Gordon could care less that a man was murdered by a vigilante in "The Balloonman" due to the man being an Asshole Victim. But when a corrupt cop was murdered the same way, they immediately pulled the entire police force to find the murderer. After Gordon called them out on this, Bullock argued that now it's a matter of job safety.
  • More Deadly Than The Male: Of the couple guarding Myriam Loeb in the farmhouse it is the wife who puts up the bigger fight against Gordon and company. Afterwards, she brutally kills her husband of 20 years without hesitation in order to save her own skin.
  • More Than Mind Control: In "Spirit of the Goat", it was pointed out that the two men hypnotized to commit the murders on some level wanted to kill those people.
  • Mugged for Disguise: The teenager who offers Cobblepot a ride ends up duct-taped in his underwear after Cobblepot steals his clothes.
    • He also does this to a dishwasher at a restaurant with mob ties. We never find out what happened to the dishwasher.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: The opinion of literally every criminal in Gotham. Especially Fish Mooney and Oswald Cobblepot. While it certainly comes off as excessive and pointlessly violent, it tends to work since the GCPD is so corrupt.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the second episode, Falcone mentions how a man about to die is honest, similar to The Joker's explanation for why he uses knives in The Dark Knight.
      • In "Arkham", Fish Mooney has two people fight to the death for a job with her, much like Joker did.
      • The Dollmaker is mentioned in the same episode.
    • Also in "Balloonman", the titular villain is introduced wearing a trench coat and a pig mask, referencing the somewhat obscure villain Professor Pyg.
    • Selina's nickname "Cat" obviously refers to her adult identity, but it also mirrors her earliest appearances in The Golden Age of Comic Books where she was called "The Cat" instead of "Catwoman".
    • Going by the background of scenes set in her apartment, Barbara lives in a clock tower.
    • Bruce listens to death metal in "Selina Kyle", like his LEGO counterpart.
    • A shot of the Gotham skyline in "Selina Kyle" has a building with the Queen Consolidated logo, though this is not a sign of a crossover.
    • It shows in "Arkham" they wish to make an "Arkham City".
    • This is not the first time Nygma has worked for the GCPD.
    • In "Viper", the first person to use the titular drug goes on an A God Am I spiel, causing someone to sarcastically call him "Zeus". This is a reference to Maxie Zeus, a lesser known member of Batman's Rogues Gallery who is defined by his delusion of being the Greek god of the same name.
      • Also, the beginning of "Selina Kyle" has a sign for Trident Shipping, Maxie's company.
    • Judging by the design of the (50s-vintage) license plates, Gotham City, despite shots of undisguised New York, is located in Connecticut, as it was in Young Justice.
    • As of "Harvey Dent", Selina Kyle is living at the Wayne Manor, just like she did in the comics on Earth 2 after she married Bruce Wayne.
    • Alfred corrects Bullock who thought he was a valet.
    Alfred: I'm the butler.
    • In "What the Little Bird Told Him," as Gordon's walking into the GCPD, Essen tells the gathered police that the commissioner is coming.
    • From "Welcome Back Jim Gordon" onward, Penguin owns a night club.
    • In "Scarecrow", Jonathan Crane flees from his father and briefly stands in front of an actual scarecrow, referencing his eventual transformation into the eponymous supervillain.
    • Falcone employs two of the future freaks and profits from that, just how in The Long Halloween he's the only member of the mob willing to work with the 'freaks' and profits from that.
    • In "Red Hood", the Red Hood Gang's bank robberies and their habit of killing each other are reminiscent of the opening scene of The Dark Knight. Considering the comic-book connection between Red Hood and a certain Clown Prince of Crime, the parallel is very appropriate.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In "Selina Kyle", after Barbara learns from Gordon that there are homeless children being kidnapped with the police saying nothing, and with Gordon unable to say anything to the press, she Takes a Third Option and calls them herself. It's the right thing to do, right? Wrong. With the public outcry over defenseless children being kidnapped, the mayor is able to step in and initiate a "tough love" program which consists of rounding them up, putting them on buses, and sending them to a facility upstate, allowing him to get rid of half of the crime in Gotham while keeping the "cute, undamaged" ones around to make him look good. For the children, of course.
    • Then there is Renee Montoya arresting Gordon and Bullock for killing Cobblepot, only for Cobblepot to reveal he is still alive. Because of her actions she just potentially started one of the bloodiest mob wars in Gotham's history.
    • Gordon’s entirely justified rant at the Mayor about the horrible way the city treats criminals with mental health issues results in Arkham Asylum being reopened as a facility to house the criminally insane.
  • No Honor Among Thieves:
    • The old school mobsters in Gotham have to contend with a new breed of criminals, who are less interested in pragmaticism and money, and are more interested in indulging their sadistic tendencies and anarchy.
    • Fish has no loyalty to Falcone, and Cobblepot has no loyalty to loyalty to her.
    • Cobblepot exploits this trope for all it's worth, when Maroni's lieutenant Carbone is about to kill him. Cobblepot then reveals that since he's motivated by greed, he doesn't pay his men much, and that all it took was the offer of a simple pay raise for them to switch their loyalty to Cobblepot. These same men then restrain Carbone, while Cobblepot stabs him to death.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted in "The Balloonman", where Gordon and the killer were lifted up into the air by a weather balloon and came falling down after Bullock shot it. Gordon was bruised and hobbling after landing on top of the truck, while the killer needed to be taken to the hospital.
  • Obviously Evil: The Board of Directors for Wayne Enterprises could not be more obviously corrupt if they were stroking white cats while twirling Snidely K Whiplash mustaches.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: Falcone orders Gordon to execute Cobblepot in order to show that he is "with the program". If Gordon refuses, then Bullock is to do the job and also kill Gordon. If this fails, then Falcone will send hitmen to kill Gordon and any family or friends that Gordon might have confided in. While Gordon manages to Take a Third Option, it puts him and everyone around him in great danger as long as Falcone is in power.
  • Oh, Crap: Gordon has almost talked three guys down from killing him for a job. Until...
    Sionis: Oh and I will throw in a million dollar signing bonus.
    Gordon: (Knows he is screwed now) Oh, Crap.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted with main character Harvey Bullock and recurring character Harvey Dent.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Generally averted. If Gordon was injured during the episode, he maintained that injury throughout the rest of the episode. Such as in "Penguin's Umbrella", he was shot in the abdomen and leg by Zsasz and walked with a slight limp afterwards.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: Invoked by Harvey in the second episode. Gordon—who hates violence—doesn't stop his coworker from beating a guy who's trading children.
  • Open Secret: The corruption in the police force.
  • Papa Wolf: The second Alfred notices poisonous gas entering the room in "Viper", he immediately took off his jacket to cover Bruce's face.
  • Parental Substitute: Alfred to Bruce.
    • Although he's having trouble and has called in Gordon to be The Mentor.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Ordinarily, framing a medical examiner for stealing body parts just to avoid a suspension would be seen as crossing the Moral Event Horizon. But since this is a guy who had just ruled that a witness stabbed himself in the back half a dozen times, the audience can be forgiven for letting it slide. That, or Nygma was just looking for some skeletons in the ME's closet.
  • Pedo Hunt: Invoked by Selina in episode 2 when she blackmails a police officer into fetching Gordon.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Montoya might be unjustifiably antagonistic towards Gordon but she genuinely did care for Barbara and wanted her away from danger.
    • Despite being "part of the program", Essen immediately stood up for Gordon and Bullock when Montoya and Allen attempted to arrest them. And when Zsasz came looking for Gordon, Essen was the only cop in the precinct who stood by Gordon.
    • Crime lord Falcone loved his mother and was greatly touched when he heard her favourite aria.
  • Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: Between Gordon and Bullock in "Penguin's Umbrella". Take a wild guess as to the cause. They make up, however, when Bullock decides that since they're both dead men anyway, he'd rather go out swinging and so help Gordon.
  • Police Are Useless: It's Gotham. If the cops aren't corrupt, then they are fighting each other over petty rivalries.
  • Professional Killer: An independent hitman in episode 4 is hired by separate mob factions to kill councilmen who supported the different mob factions' bid for Arkham Asylum.
  • Promoted to Love Interest: Leslie Thompkins for Jim Gordon, as off "What The Little Bird Told Him".
  • Psycho Serum: The Viper drug in the episode of the same name, which is a pre-cursor to Venom.
  • Quirky Mini Boss Squad: Victor Zsasz and his two punk-inspired female assistants.
  • Race Lift:
    • Sarah Essen, a white woman in the comics, is played by Latina actress Zabryna Guevara.
    • Leslie Thompkins, white in the comics, is played by Brazilian actress Morena Baccarin in "Rogues Gallery".
    • Puerto Rican actor David Zayas plays Salvatore “The Boss” Maroni who is white in the comics.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Bruce wanted to help the homeless children and offered to donate money, but Gordon pointed out that the children needed guardians, not money. He then chooses to give them clothes instead. Next shot are the children wearing new clothes, but still being sent upstate and still looking pretty miserable.
    • The Balloonman's second target is an experienced police officer, as opposed to a middle-aged banker taken mostly by surprise. The Balloonman's attempt to tie the officer to a balloon leads to him getting the crap kicked out of him. If Cranston hadn't gotten distracted by some paperwork the Balloonman was carrying, the Balloonman's killing spree would have ended then and there.
    • Also with Bruce's self-training. He sees it as helping him overcome fear. Jim and Alfred see it as disturbing, and want to refer him to a psychologist.
      • And even with his self-training and intelligence, the show makes it clear that he's got a long way to go before becoming the Dark Knight as he is still a naiive child.
    • People don't just bounce back after a kidnapping. Barbara is traumatized and paranoid after being held captive by Zsasz.
    • Gordon is repeatedly warned that if he goes against the system, he will not last long in the GCPD. Initially he seems protected due to his status as a war hero and his connection (through his father) to the DA office. However, as soon as his enemies find a viable pretext, Gordon is Reassigned to Antarctica and his supposed allies like Harvey Dent abandon him.
    • Turns out, losing your fear isn't actually a good thing. After taking his serum, Gerald Crane makes several reckless decisions. Such as injecting his son with too much serum and engaging in a gun fight with two experienced cops.
  • Red Herring: The people behind the show have stated the Joker is this, as there would be multiple "Who will become The Joker?" throughout season 1 thus trying to pin point who exactly would become the Joker.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: At the end of "Lovecraft", when Gordon makes clear to the mayor he won't give up on the Wayne case, he gets reassigned to guard duty at Arkham.
  • Removing the Rival:
    • Fish Mooney apparently arranges "accidents" to befall attractive women whose boyfriends she wants for herself.
    • Montoya trying to portray Gordon as a Dirty Cop without evidence to Barbara behind his back to get her to break up with him.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: From "Viper":
    Crime Boss Maroni: There you are, you rat, you snitch, you gorgeous turncoat son of a bitch!
  • Saved by Canon: Being a prequel series, we know which characters cannot die.
  • Secret Keeper: Ironically, considering their later relationship, Alfred and Bruce to Gordon, the only people (thus far) who know that he intends on bringing down the corruption in the police and the city and that he's planning on playing along inside the system to do it.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Cobblepot normally wears a rather fancy, old-fashioned three-piece suit.
  • Shout-Out:
    • When Fish Mooney tumbles to the fact that Cobblepot has informed on her, she beats him while shouting "You broke my heart!"
    • In the episode "The Balloonman", the villain's name is Lamont and one of the people he kills is named Cranston. Lamont Cranston. Balloonman even dresses a bit like The Shadow when he takes out Cranston.
    • Not clear if this one is intentional, but the murder device used by Gladwell in "Arkham" is almost exactly the same device known as the "Little Wonder" from the musical Oklahoma!.
    • Also in "Arkham", Cobblepot uses poisoned cannolis as a murder method.
    • In "Lovecraft", Don Falcone personally kills one of his high-ranking lieutenants, while he and all of his other lieutenants are sitting down to a fancy dinner party. Falcone blows his brains out and he falls face first into his soup. Falcone then gives a calm speech to the other lieutenants about how they are all one family/team and one man can't fail the rest. To top it off, he then politely signals for the main course to be served, while the guy's corpse is still there.
    • Dick Lovecraft, named for HP Lovecraft, creator of Arkham, Massachusetts, after which Arkham Asylum is named.
    • Mrs. Kapelput's (Cobblepot's) accent and descriptions of the "old country" are reminiscent of Carol Kane's character Simka Gravas from Taxi.
    • A child trafficker named "The Dollmaker" brings to mind the main antagonist of Alice: Madness Returns.
  • Skewed Priorities: In "Arkham", when the mayor knew he was going to be targeted by a hitman and only Gordon was there to protect him, he wasted valuable time by trying to grab all his money before leaving.
  • Skyward Scream: Bruce lets out a particularly heart-wrenching one after his parents are killed.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Cobblepot tells MCU that Mario Pepper was framed for the Wayne murders. The mob framed him up as a way of bringing peace to the city. Oswald's blabbing gets him kicked out of the mob, and banished from Gotham for his troubles.
    • A parking meter manages to stall Dr. Crane long enough for the GCPD to stop him.
  • Spiritual Successor: to Smallville.
  • Spotting the Thread: It's Bruce's observation that the killer had shiny shoes that causes Gordon to suspect that there was more to the murder than a simple mugging, and then confirm that the supposed killer had been framed.
  • The Starscream:
    • Oswald Cobblepot, a low level thug, has ambitions to take over Gotham's underworld, and the only thing standing in his way is Fish Mooney, who he is willing to backstab at the first opportunity so he can take over her gang. But sadly for him, everyone knows that.
    • Fish Mooney is herself this, working with Nikolai against their boss, Carmine Falcone.
  • Status Quo Is God: Despite repeatedly reinforcing that Gordon's behavior is making him a pariah among the force and will get him in trouble, it has yet to. He got reassigned to Arkham for a bit, but it barely lasted two episodes and he went right back to the GCPD, acting the same as always with no consequences.
  • A Storm Is Coming: Cobblepot, when warning Gordon of the coming Mob War, tells him that "blood will run in the streets".
  • Street Urchin: This version of Selina Kyle is already a roof-hopping Kind Hearted Cat Lover stealing milk for a stray.
  • Suspect Is Hatless: A variant. Bruce gives a very detailed description of his parent's killer, but because the man was almost entirely covered up, all he could describe was the man's clothing.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "Viper", Gordon and Bullock caught on that WellZyn was more involved than they let on because they quickly sent in their lawyers to deal with the police when they heard that their previous employee was the main suspect.
  • There Are No Therapists:
    • Young Bruce just witnessed his parents being murdered in cold blood. He spends his free time hurting himself and drawing horrific images he sees in his nightmares. Alfred can't force Bruce to see a therapist because the conditions of Thomas Wayne's will state that Bruce should be allowed to make his own choices and Alfred sees himself as duty-bound to honor his late employer's wishes.
    • Barbara is traumatized after the ordeal with Falcone and was very paranoid and nervous afterwards, even pointing a gun at Gordon when he came home, believing him to be a mobster to kidnap her again when he didn't turn on the lights.
    • Subverted by "The Spirit of the Goat" episode: there is a therapist but she turns out to be hypnotizing people into becoming serial killers for her Kill The Rich agenda.
    • There are, at least, support groups, as the investigation in "The Fearsome Dr. Crane" leads Bullock to attend one for phobics.
  • Token Good Teammate:
    • Gordon for the entire police force. Montoya and Allen think they're this - but they bend the rules and act snobbish and antagonistic to those around them, especially to Gordon.
    • Thomas and Martha Wayne appear to have been this to Wayne Enterprises, along with their son Bruce and their butler Alfred, as of "Viper". They were the only ones in the company who recognized the titular drug and its sequel, Venom, as bad news.
  • Too Dumb to Live: In easily her crowning moment of idiocy thus far, in "Penguin's Umbrella" Barbara is sent off by Gordon to hide from Falcone's men, but she pretty much turns straight around and heads right back to Gotham and even directly to Falcon's mansion to beg Falcone to spare Jim, obviously resulting in her capture and use as leverage against Gordon. This is after Falcone's men already held her hostage and used her as leverage against Gordon earlier in the episode.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Cobblepot does this to the guy who now has his job when he worked for Fish. Before asking any questions he has his men beat him up.
  • Tragic Monster: The Bomber in "Harvey Dent". He knows he has a problem and needs help with his explosion fetish and until recently was able to control it by only destroying abandon buildings and munition factors in his own way of doing good. However when he learned two janitors were killed he was horrified at himself and turned himself in to the police.
  • The Un-Hug: When Gordon was forcefully transferred to Arkham Asylum in "LoveCraft", Edward Nygma unexpectedly pulled Gordon into a hug, leaving him and Bullock a bit stunned.
  • Unwilling Suspension: How Gordon ends up after telling Fish that he knows Mario Pepper was framed. Upside down. When Bullock tries to negotiate freeing him, they both hang like that and only Falcone's intervention saves them.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: Cobblepot is convinced that something big is about to happen soon and he is the only person that can control it.
  • Verb This!: In "Spirit of the Goat," right after Randall Milkie says that the spirit will always come back, Harvey Bullock says, "Come back from this!" and fires his pistol at him.
  • Villains Out Shopping:
    • Carmine Falcone, vicious crime lord of Gotham, apparently spends his free time feeding pigeons in the park like any other old man. And he also enjoys breeding and raising chickens.
    • Falcone's main rival, Maroni, is seen several times eating in a restaurant he owns.
  • Villainous Rescue:
    • In the pilot, Falcone saves Gordon and Bullock from Fish Mooney's men, with a warning to not overstep her bounds.
    • Cobblepot, of all people. pulls this off in "Spirit of the Goat", showing up at the police station and announcing himself just as Gordon and Bullock are being arrested for his murder.
    • The end of "Penguin's Umbrella" reveals that Gordon, Bullock and Barbara were allowed to live because Cobblepot asked Falcone not to kill them as a favour to him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • As the situation in Gotham gets bleaker and more desperate, a number of individuals step forward and use extreme means to fix things or at least make the public aware of the problems. However, when they start killing people, Gordon has to try and stop them.
    • The killer in "The Balloonman" only targeted people who were corrupt in high positions. But as Gordon (and Bruce) noted, he was killing people which made him just as bad as the people he murdered. He was also responsible for a bystander's death when one of his victims fell on her.
    • In "Viper", the person responsible for the drug was trying to bring public awareness to the actions of WellZyn — and by extension Wayne Enterprises — of using Viper (or Venom) as a pharmaceutical weapon but eventually resorted to drastic measures to do so.
    • In "Spirit of the Goat", hypnotherapist Dr. Marks directs patients to subconsciously murder the firstborns of the rich and powerful of Gotham to scare them straight and keep them from doing awful things as a form of negative reinforcement.
  • Wham Episode: "What The Little Bird Told Him." Cobblepot slips to Maroni about his alliance with Falcone, Falcone finds out about Liza from Cobblepot, and then kills Liza and has Fish taken into custody with his men.
  • Wham Line: In "Viper," Gordon and Bullock are hearing the origins of the drug they've been tracking, Viper. Turns out the first batch of it had unfortunate side-effects. The second, perfected attempt was re-christened "Venom".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • We're never shown what became of the rich brat that Cobblepot kidnapped and tried to ransom.
    • The fate of the girl Liza fought for the job as Fish's Honey Trap. It's unclear if Liza beat her to death or just unconsciousness.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Gordon has one towards Montoya. Who went behind his back to tell his fiance that he was a dirty cop manipulating her, with absolutely no evidence aside from a mob informant (aka Cobblepot) who has every reason to lie so they would take out his boss, which he even admitted. This especially more effective since Montoya has a personal reason to break them up.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Cobblepot's mother. Clearly aiming for some kind of "Old Country" accent, not entirely sure which country that is. Especially silly since they could have gone with Ozzy's canon British accent instead.
  • What You Are in the Dark: We get a few in "Penguin's Umbrella".
    • Essen, who after seeing every other officer leave when Zasaz tells them to leave, stands by Gordon's side. Gordon has to tell her to go so as to not get herself killed.
    • Bullock, who knows because of all of this the Mob is most likely going to kill him, he works with Gordon because he would rather go out in a blaze of glory doing the right thing.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Nygma points this out to one of his co-workers. Finding it both interesting that not only did their family keep their surname Kringle but the fact they also named her Kristen.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Gordon will start as this, before Gotham gets to him...
  • Wild Card: Cobblepot. He insists that he is the only who can stop the war that is about to happen yet does everything he can to escalate it for his own purposes. He also has a twisted devotion to Gordon and helps him out in tough situations such as revealing he wasn't dead to prevent Gordon from being arrested.
  • World of Ham: As could be expected from the city that will one day produce Batman and his colorful Rogues Gallery, to varying degrees all Gothamites have a tendency for being colossal drama queens and will Chew the Scenery at the slightest provocation. This is a city where even holding up a truck involves a dozen nuns chained across the road.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Oswald does try to kill his boss, but Fish turns the tables and cripples him in a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
    • In "The Balloonman", Bullock punches out the suspect's girlfriend once she surrenders.
    • Gordon doesn't have any hesitation shooting at the female accomplices of Zsasz.
    • Alfred punches Copperhead the moment he realized she is an assassin sent to kill Selina and/or Bruce.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: The murderer didn't kill little Bruce. Notable that, in certain versions, the killer was told not to kill Bruce by his employer, so that he would say to the police it was a simple robbery that turned into murder. This version of Bruce seems to have already seen past that.
    • Played with in "LoveCraft" where Copperhead has no problem trying to kill her target Selina but doesn't hurt Bruce since he is not on her hit list.
  • Wretched Hive: This is Gotham City before a certain night-prowling costumed detective and his police commissioner partner would clean it up. Seedy bars and abandoned warehouses clutter the landscape as gangs position themselves for a coming mob war. And we haven't even met a particular psychopath who's dying to put a smile on every victim's face... When Bullock asks the Balloon Man who is last target was going to be, the vigilante's response: Anyone.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Montoya and Allen believe they are the Token Good Teammate of the Police. Despite the fact that they bend the rules and act incredibly snobbish and antagonistic to those around them, especially to Gordon.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Gordon being told to execute Cobblepot turns out to be one from Falcone's perspective. If Gordon goes through with it, a snitch is dead and Gordon's with the program. If Gordon doesn't, Cobblepot sets up as a spy within Maroni's organization.
  • You Don't Look Like You:
    • The Balloon Man in the comics is a pre-crisis enemy of the Metal Men with the abilities of flight, size-changing, and expelling clouds of smoke. He was also a literal living gasbag. This show's Balloonman is a mundane Vigilante Man who murders corrupt authority figures by strapping them to weather balloons.
    • Oswald Cobblepot is much skinnier than his comic counterpart.
    • In the comics, Sarah Essen was a white, blonde detective, 10 years younger than Gordon and subordinate to him, an honest cop whom he eventually marries, and who died at the rank of Lieutenant. On the show, Sarah Essen is a black woman, who is either Gordon's age or older, his superior as the Head of the Homicide Division, is totally okay with her officers routinely beating confessions out of suspects, and has already passed Lieutenant.
    • Harvey Bullock seems to have more in common with Detective Flass than the comic's Bullock, except Flass was more villainous. Lieutenant Cranston, on the other hand...
    • Renee Montoya was a young officer pretty much just out of the Academy when Gordon became Commissioner, at which point Gordon had an almost parental bond with her and watched over her as she rose through the ranks. Here she is the same age as him and deeply distrusts him, almost to the point of being an Expy of Detective Ramirez, except there's absolutely no indication of her being corrupt.
    • Barbara Kean in the show looks a lot more like how Sarah Essen looks in the comics.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In "Arkham", Cobblepot casually kills off the thugs he hired to rob and kill the restaurant manager he worked for so nothing could trace the crime back to them.