Gentleman Ghost is a DC Comics character and supervillain. His real name is James "Jim" Craddock. He grew up 1800's England, his family was poor, and he turned to robbery to support himself. He became an immigrant to the USA, got falsely accused of a violent crime there, and was killed by a masked cowboy named Nighthawk. He became a ghost and discovered that he could only move on when his murderer moved on to the next plane of existence. Unfortunately for him, it turns out that Nighthawk is one of many incarnations of ancient Egyptian royalty, meaning that both their souls have no chance of moving on. When Nighthawk was reincarnated into Hawkman, Craddock tried to kill him without success. In response, Craddock took on the name of "Gentleman Ghost" and took to antagonizing other superheroes as a way to pass the time.
He was able to successfully cross over the barrier into the medium of television, where he has appeared as a villain in Superfriends, Justice League, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, The LEGO Batman Movie, and Teen Titans Go! vs. Teen Titans.
This comic book character provides examples of:
- Anti-Villain: He tends to help out the heroes occasionally.
- Affably Evil: He is very polite towards his allies, and his enemies too if he isn't fighting them at that moment. He is so sociable that was even invited to Captain Cold's amnesty party despite not being a Flash rogue.
- Arch-Enemy: To Hawkman, for grievances going back to the 1800s.
- Breakout Villain: As can be seen in the list of his media appearances above, the Gentleman Ghost has come a long way from his original role in the 1940s and 1960s as a recurring Hawkman villain, growing into a popular villain for multiple adaptations...even those that don't include Hawkman or Hawkwoman. Within the comics, in the 2000s and 2010s, he eclipsed Hakwman's other arch-enemy, the Shadow-Thief, who has become a comparatively minor recurring henchman.
- Deal with the Devil: In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, this is how Craddock became Gentleman Ghost. In the episode "Trials of the Demon!", which is set in Victorian London, he made a deal with the demon Astaroth to ensure that "his soul would never pass from Earth". Unfortunately, while Craddock thought this meant Immortality, he discovered, much to his chagrin, that he was forced to remain on Earth as a ghost indefinitely after being hanged for his crimes.
- Depending on the Writer: Perhaps befitting one of the archfoes of walking Continuity Snarl like Hawkman, the Gentleman Ghost's origin and the limits of his powers change frequently. Is he cursed to haunt the Hawks because a past incarnation of Hawkman killed him in a case of Not What It Looks Like, as in he Geoff Johns version? Is he an English thief killed by Redcoats but resurrected thanks to a prophecy, as in the Infinite Crisis tie-in issues of Comicbook/JSA? Does he have relatively minor powers of intangibility and teleportation that he bolsters with modern technology, or does he have extensive supernatural abilities including armies of other ghosts and powers to influence the weak-willed? It all depends on the story, the writer, and the day of the week.
- Gentleman Thief: Subverted Trope. The Gentleman Ghost may put on airs at times, but he's The Highwayman through and through.
- Gonk: What he really looks like when he's not using Invisibility.
- The Gunslinger: Sometimes he's shown using ghostly flintlock pistols.
- High-Class Glass: He is completely invisible aside from his monocle, sparkling white attire and top hat.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In his first appearances, it was ambiguous whether or not if he's actually a ghost.
- Nice Hat: A classy top hat to help point out where his head's supposed to be.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: He's the lingering spirit of a man who was wrongfully executed in the 1800s and came back as a ghost resembling a set of high-class clothing with nobody wearing it. He can only move on when his killer's soul also passes from the mortal plane but, as he was killed by an incarnation of an immortal avenger eternally bound to the physical world, he can never move on, and consequently took to simply antagonizing superheroes to have something to occupy his eternal unlife.
- Put on a Bus: Pre-Hawkworld, he was finally be able to rest in peace along with a restless spirit of a woman. This was rendered out-of-continuity.
- Reimagining the Artifact: Briefly attempted in the 1990s, where a new version was introduced as a human Gentleman Thief. This updated version didn't last very long, and the classic version soon started showing up again as though he'd been there all along.
- Rogues Gallery Transplant: He briefly became a Batman foe during the late 1970s and in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. There's also an odd one-off The Flash story in the Post Crisis era that treats him as if he were a longstanding member of Flash's Rogues Gallery, but that has since become Canon Discontinuity.
- Vengeful Ghost: Despite his name, the Gentleman Ghost is a supervillain that lived in 1800s England as a thief and later entered the U.S. illegally and was killed by Nighthawk, one of the incarnations of Hawkman. Revived as a ghost, he became not just the Arch-Enemy of Hawkman, but also a supervillain to stand against every superhero out there.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Hawkman's Nth Metal can negate the Gentleman Ghost's intangibility.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?: Part of his grief is that he can't pass on to the afterlife.