main index




Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
YMMV: The Dark Knight
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The ending gets a lot of this from fans. Batman kills Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the act of saving Gordon's son after going to great lengths to not kill the Joker just to prove the Joker couldn't corrupt him etc., which on the surface makes him look a tad hypocritical, especially considering he left Ra's Al Guhl to die at the end of Batman Begins. Anyway, the great debate pivots on whether or not Batman went in expecting and intending to kill the crazed Dent if necessary or if he simply meant to overpower Dent and lost control in the scuffle, thus making Dent's death an accident.
    • Did Joker really not have a plan or was he lying to enhance his mystique?
  • Ass Pull: Joker's escape via bus is strange. Not only he's visibly came out from a wall using a big school bus not so far from the crime scene, but there are also people that can see the whole scene, including another bus driver not too far behind him. Yeah, you see that shit everyday.
  • Award Snub: A superhero movie was always going to have difficulty cracking into the Oscars, but this was made worse by the fact that most of the nominated Best Picture movies (including the eventual winner) didn't receive nearly the amount of critical or public acclaim as The Dark Knight did, and yet The Dark Knight wasn't even nominated for Best Picture. It's said that the resulting outcry is at least partly responsible for the Academy deciding to nominate ten movies for Best Picture in 2010 instead of the traditional five.
    • On that note, while Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as the Joker and earned his Best Supporting Actor award, it's hard to deny that Aaron Eckhart had a heartwrenching performance as Harvey Dent....
  • Complete Monster: The Joker is introduced by killing each of his goons and an innocent bus driver after a bank robbery. The Joker proceeds to exploit the Mob’s desire to be rid of Batman, casually murdering henchmen, politicians and police to force Batman to unmask himself. He also makes the accountant attempting to unmask Batman a target; ties a crime boss to a pile of money which he then burns; kills a gangster by making a pencil disappear...eraser-end first; blows up a hospital; attempts a Prisoner’s Dilemma Scenario to get a boatload of civilians and prisoners to blow each other up; and, primarily by manipulating a Sadistic Choice leading to Rachel Dawes's death,and then by mind raping an injured Harvey Dent in the hospital, is the driving force behind his transformation into Two-Face. The Joker's goal is really to show that anyone and everyone can and will become a Complete Monster if pushed far enough (or even if just given the chance). He's proven wrong. Even so, he doesn't care; no Villainous BSOD, just an annoyed shrug and an attempt to blow the two boats sky high with his own detonator. All the while, the Joker states how he’s just out to give Gotham a “better class of criminal”. Alfred put it best when he said "Some men just want to watch the world burn."
  • Crazy Awesome: Again, the Joker.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Joker spends the whole movie dancing back and forth across this line while laughing maniacally, amused by the fact you think there's a line in the first place.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Joker, largely due to Ledger's rendition of him.
  • Ear Worm: The Joker's theme.
  • Ending Fatigue: At a little over two and a half hours, The Dark Knight wears some viewers out in the final third. This is partly due to the Harvey Dent/Two-Face subplot being wrapped up after the defeat of the Joker, the Big Bad, in a sequence that is dialogue-driven as opposed to the action in the Joker's.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The black guy on the ferry. He's an unnamed character that is on the screen for less than 1/20 of the movie, yet his scene is one of the most remembered ones. It doesn't hurt that the character is played by Tommy Lister.
    • A rare example that doesn't actually involve a character, but a quote! Probably the single most quoted line from the movie "Why, so, serious?", is considered by many people to be the Joker's catchphrase in the film. In actuality, the line is only used in one scene, as part of one of the Joker's (admittedly terrifying) "backstory"/threat monologues. Granted, this was a very memorable scene. And the marketing of the movie widely revolved around "Why so serious?"
  • Even Better Sequel: Batman Begins is widely seen as a great reboot to the Batman film franchise. But the quality of The Dark Knight, with its writing, and Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance as The Joker means The Dark Knight is widely seen as superior, and it also ended up being one of the highest-grossing films of all time.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • The film ends with Alfred, Bruce, and Gordon all concluding that sometimes a symbol matters more than the man behind the symbol, even if you have to take ethically troublesome steps to protect its power.
    • It didn't work out quite as well as they hoped...
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Due to the insane popularity of Heath Ledger's Joker, die-hard fans of Mark Hamill's Joker from the DCAU aren't as kind on Ledger. The same can be said for die-hard fans of Jack Nicholson's take on the Joker which still remains popular in the hearts of many old school fans and aren't kind to the rabid fans of Ledger (who in turn are the cause of an extreme case of Fan Dumb).
    • With fans of the Godfather after The Dark Knight knocked it off the top of the IMDB top 250. Both fanbases went to the other films pages and 1-starred it either to keep the other from regaining the top spot or to regain it. Also attacking the films on their message board. Ironically, the 1-starring war between Batman and Godfather fanboys allowed The Shawshank Redemption to sneak into the top spot, where it has remained to date.
  • Faux Symbolism:
    • There seems to be a subtle theme about dogs in The Dark Knight. Seriously. Go back and watch it again, looking out for references to, and appearances by, dogs. The meaning behind them is debatable, but it can't be coincidence.
    • Dogs are a symbol for the Joker. He's the "dog chasing cars" and the ultimate cynicnote . At first, the Chechen mobster has dogs on a leash — to deal with Batman — but by the end the dogs are turned against their former master in the same way the Joker overthrew the mobsters' control. Also, there's probably some Cerberus thing you could take from the three dogs.
    • Look at the Joker leaning his head out of the police car's window after his escape. You've probably seen a dog stick its head out a rolled down car window in the exact same manner numerous times on the road.
    • The Joker is symbolic in another way: he's almost more an anarchic, chaotic force of destruction than a man, and exemplifies the theme of corruption. You see it throughout the movie, how he seeps like a poison into every corrupt and dark underside of Gotham, undermining order, twisting Harvey Dent's righteous anger into something evil, and undermining Batman's confidence in what he's doing.
    • Go to the next step: The Joker's very identity is symbolic. In a game of cards, the Joker is often a wild card: it becomes precisely what you need it to be to further your agenda, but of itself, it has no face value or significance; it just upsets the other players' agendas by coming seemingly out of nowhere. Thus... the Joker's multiple-choice history and his lack of real identity.
      • Though, The movie hardly invented that theme about the character.
    • For a more straightforward example, when Rachel and Harvey are kidnapped the lights in the warehouse where Harvey is held are on, whereas Rachel's are switched off. Could also qualify as Foreshadowing, but only by a few seconds.
  • Foe Yay: The Joker perversely stalking Rachel is somewhat of this, and creepy.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Hong Kong actor Edison Chen, the man you can hear asking Lucius to hand over his mobile phone in the beginning of the Hong Kong scenes. Chen had just been involved in a Real Life scandal, where the people repairing his laptop went the extra mile to upload his Porn Stash to the internet - including nude photos of several of his Production Posse. The ending of The Dark Knight involves a city-wide breach of privacy...
    • Also, Alfred's early throwaway line to Harvey Dent takes on a much different meaning after Rachel's death. "You've known her her whole life, haven't you?" "Not yet." Ouch.
    • Joker's "I think you and I are destined to do this forever..." after Batman beats him.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The conversation between Harvey and Rachel in the fancy restaurant takes on a completely different meaning if you know your Roman history. Though no one in the scene says this outright, the figure in the Roman government that Harvey was referring to was known as a "dictator" (he was saying, in essence, "Maybe Gotham needs a dictator").
    • Also a bit of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, if you remember what happened to Caesar after he assumed dictatorial powers. Caesar went above the law and was killed, and Dent ...
    • There is also the fact that you can spot that Rachel is actually wrong. The Romans never appointed Caesar dictator, he appointed himself dictator, and backed it up very convincingly with the Army of Gaul.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The actions The Joker took during this movie become a lot darker after the events of the Aurora Colorado theater shooting during the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, where the shooter in question made it clear that he based his actions on The Joker, even rigging several buildings with boobytraps just as Joker was implied to have done in the movie.
    • The posters featuring The Joker with "Why so serious?" written in blood became extremely eerie after Heath Ledger's sudden death.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The Joker's leitmotif, an incredibly creepy rising whine of Psycho Strings.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Among those suspected to be the Batman is Abraham Lincoln. Guess which one of Lincoln's relatives once wore the cowl?
    • Stephens being taunted into attacking the Joker. Considering the person playing him would later voice The Joker was able to outsmart Harbinger long before Shepard did and the cop even refers to hurting someone how ironic is that looking back at the Dark Knight now.
    • We now have Batman: Arkham Origins, released five years after the film came out, and the game's plots become strikingly similar to the plots of the film.
  • Ho Yay: Those three punks who helped the Joker sneak in to Gambol's HQ, the young African American one in particular, seemed a little too fond and admiring of the Joker.
  • Hype Backlash: There are videos scattered on Youtube about why Dark Knight sucks. Even some people in forums who had no bad feeling about the movie at all felt that the hype is too high and people praising it simply because it's "Batman" and gritty.
  • It Was His Sled: Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face. Seriously people, Dent's existed in various forms since 1942. There's a statute of limitations on this sort of thing. There was the question of whether he'd do it in this film or it would be saved for a future installment. And, in a subversion, the real twist comes when he's unexpectedly killed off about half an hour after getting his burns.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Jim Gordon's "death", especially considering we all know him as "Commissioner Gordon" and he hadn't actually become the commissioner yet.
    • And subverted with Rachel's death.
    • With Harvey Dent's death, after he's only been Two-Face for about half an hour. What, you thought he was going to live to be the villain in the sequel? Guess again.
  • Love to Hate: The Joker and Two-Face, but especially the Joker.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Joker. Hoo boy, the Joker.
  • Magnum Opus: The Dark Knight is easily considered the best Batman film ever made. It is also tied with Spider-Man 2 as the most critically acclaimed superhero film of all time.
  • Marty Stu: Subverted in the person of Harvey Dent, a handsome, lantern-jawed, blue-eyed, blond-haired manly man's man who waltzes into the movie to steal both Bruce Wayne's girlfriend and Batman's crime-fighting thunder. He's quick-witted, fearless, and willing to continue examining a witness who's just tried to kill him in open court. The subversion kicks in when Dent incurs a traumatic loss similar to the one that created Batman. Unlike Bruce, he doesn't react in the most constructive fashion, and loses his Marty Stu polish accordingly.
  • Memetic Badass: The Bank Manager, strangely enough.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Misaimed Marketing: While not as bad as the Batman Returns fiasco, it's still jarring to see toys for kids being sold as tie-ins for The Dark Knight, a movie whose PG-13 rating is extremely lenient.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The Joker's always been a psychopath, but he definitely crossed it when he killed Rachel Dawes, which then led Harvey Dent to insanity.
    • The organized crime community as a whole arguably crossed this by hiring the Joker in the first place (and the Chechen crosses it by making the decision to hire him), as was implied by one of Bruce Wayne's lines following the deaths of Loeb and Surrillo, a line used in one of the earlier trailers...
    Bruce Wayne: Targeting me won't get them their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They've crossed a line.
    • In fact, the only mobsters who don't cross the MEH are Sal Maroni, who only let the Chechen hire the Joker because of Lau's capture and only refuses to rat the Joker out to Batman because he's truly scared of the Joker ("Have you met this guy?"); Gambol, who knew from the start that the Joker was bad news not just for Gotham but for its organized crime community as well and actually stood up to the freak; and the Gotham National Bank manager, who bravely stands up to the Joker during the bank robbery and ices Chuckles (and tags Grumpy in the shoulder), to say nothing of what he thinks about the endless backstabbing he witnesses throughout.
    • Harvey Dent threatening to kill Gordon's family in front of him at the end of the film.
  • Narm: Commissioner Gordon verges on this toward the finale with the Joker, wailing "I HAVE TO SAVE DENT!!", which is just a little bit too OTT. There are also some examples of the extras clearly not being in the same league as Bale, Ledger, Oldman and the assorted cast, which doesn't help when the Joker's final plot has scenes dealing heavily with them.
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Heath Ledger's untimely death certainly didn't hurt the film's performance at the box office. It even got him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Ginty, the Scary Black Man played by Tommy Lister on the convicts' barge who tells the guards to give him the detonator to the civilian barge, saying he'll "do what you should of done ten minutes ago". He immediately throws the detonator out a window.
    • Jonathan Crane early in the film too, despite having been a much more significant character in Begins.
    • The Bank Manager (William Fichtner) who very calmly reacts to robbers in his bank... by whipping out that Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The Joker makes a pencil "disappear". Sounds awfully familiar...
    • It's even older than the above, it comes from a scene in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, where the Joker bluffs Batman into entering Arkham by pretending to blind an orderly with a pencil.
    • The Hannibal Lecture the Joker gives to Batman in which he claims that sooner or later, the people he helps will hate him, sounds like the lecture the Green Goblin gives in Spider-Man.
    • Many have pointed out a similarity between Heath Ledger and Brandon Lee's makeup as The Joker and The Crow, respectively.
    • The Joker's Nietzche parody "what does not kill you makes you stranger" was previously used by Trevor Goodchild in the TV version of Ćon Flux, although with "us" rather than "you".
  • Sequel Displacement: The success of this movie has completely overshadowed its predecessor that the whole series has gotten dubbed The Dark Knight Saga. Interestingly, though, the next film would take more cues from the first film than this one.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Never bow down to fear, for bad things happen if done so. Also, people can become moral symbols, but forcing moral change will be faced with resistance.
  • Special Effect Failure: When the truck is flipped over during Batman's batpod chase with Joker, gas from the discharge of the launching mechanism can be clearly seen. It is possible that this was intentional (given the comparative ease with which it could have been edited out and the obviousness of the gas fumes) to show the audience that yes, they really did flip an eighteen wheeler.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character / They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Harvey Dent's mental and physical breakdown into becoming Two-Face, and how he lashes out against Gotham afterwards, would've made an interesting story on its own, but alas...
  • True Art Is Angsty:
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The citizens of Gotham and Ramirez, the hypocritical cop who had the gall to blame Batman for what was going wrong when she was playing for the bad guys all along and tried to blame it on her mother's hospital bills.
  • Villain Sue: Arguable, but Joker could cross into this. While he could just be a Magnificent Bastard, at times he just seems to be too lucky in his plans, or they're too well planned out to be believable, especially his escape from the police stationnote , and while his plan to prove Gotham's citizens are no better than their criminals doesn't work, in the end, he still wins, since he since he did manage to corrupt Harvey Dent, and he made Batman break his own rule and made Gordon break his own principles to cover it up. It doesn't mean he's not any less entertaining to watch, nor is this new for his character, but it does weaken the films' plot.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Many have taken Batman's phone-tapping of every Gothamite's mobile phone as a heavy-handed commentary about the Patriot Act, with some even arguing that it unintentionally justifies it.
  • The Woobie:
    • James Gordon Jr. (James Gordon's son) from The Dark Knight, is not really the Ax-Crazy Serial Killer maniac that we know in the Comic Booksnote . On the contrary, he is one of the biggest Woobies in the film. At his young age, he is living very traumatic events such as the attempted murder of his father, the kidnapping of his family and the attempted murder on his life by Two-Face.
    • Harvey Dent seems to be one, being a victim of so many events and tragic circumstances. However, processing of Two-Face, he becomes a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Also Rachel Dawes, due to her new actress and ultimate fate.

How about a magic trick? I'm gonna make these examples disappear...TA-DAAAA!! It-it's...GONE.

TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from
Privacy Policy