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Comic Book / Gotham Central

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L-R - Lt. Ron Probson, Captain Maggie Sawyer, Detectives Crispus Allen, Marcus Driver & Renee Montoya

"This isn't Metropolis, Captain, and not just because our guy works at night. This isn't the city of tomorrow, it's not San Francisco, it's not New York City."
Renee Montoya

Homicide: Life on the Street meets Batman. This was a comic book series which lasted for 40 issues (February, 2003-April, 2006). It was written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka (both collaborating and each alone), and illustrated by a variety of artists, such as Michael Lark, Brian Hurtt, Stefano Gaudiano, Greg Scott, Jason Alexander, Jose Lopez and Steve Lieber.

The officers of the Gotham City Police Department have to deal with all sorts of threats, from accidentally stumbling across Mr. Freeze while looking for a missing girl to finding out why Firebug killed someone. There are normal cases, too, kidnappings and murders, but they are interspersed with the flotsam and jetsam created by Batman and his rogues gallery. The series is a Spiritual Successor of sorts to Batman: Gordon of Gotham, which also features Gotham cops working cases without Batman.

This comic is divided into the day and night shifts of the Major Crimes Unit, the department of the GCPD tasked with dealing with "freaks" (supervillains) and the more important mundane crimes. Regular characters included Marcus Driver, Romy Chandler, Renee Montoya, Crispus Allen, Maggie Sawyer, and Josephine "Josie Mac" MacDonald.

The series was first collected into five trade paperback volumes which collected almost (but not all) issues. Some volumes also contain stories not published within Gotham Central, but from other DCU series that feature common characters:

  • Vol. 1: In the Line of Duty
  • Vol. 2: Half a Life
  • Vol. 3: Unresolved Targets
  • Vol. 4: The Quick and the Dead
  • Vol. 5: Dead Robin

Four hardcover collections have also been published. These editions collect all published issues of Gotham Central, including the issues absent from the trade volumes, but lack the connected stories from independent comics. The series was then republished in glossy-paper trade format, in a form identical to the hardcover.

  • Book 1: In the Line of Duty
  • Book 2: Jokers and Madmen
  • Book 3: On the Freak Beat
  • Book 4: Corrigan

Gotham Central provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: For most of the "Half a Life" arc, Crispus Allen calls Josie Mac "Mackenzie" instead of "MacDonald".
  • Action Girl: A general requirement for female cops in Gotham.
    • Romy Chandler helps take down Firebug in the second arc.
    • It's Captain Maggie Sawyer who finally stops the Joker's rampage through the MCU squadroom.
    • Renee Montoya resolves one arc by engaging in a bare-knuckle boxing match in a bar back alley.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: In the final issue, Corrigan cries and pleads for his life when Renee comes to kill him.
  • All Men Are Perverts: It was minor, and primarily humorous, but when Starfire arrived in GCPD headquarters there is a Beat Panel composed of all the men (All of them), staring at her with jaws agape. Detective Romy Chandler notices this and responds simply with a disgusted "Men". The potential Double Standard is punctured, however, when Detective Joely Bartlett points out to Chandler in amusement that Montoya and Captain Sawyer — the two gay women on the unit — are gazing at Starfire with the exact same facial expressions.
  • Aroused by Their Voice: Oficer Tim Munroe describes Poison Ivy's voice as being like honey, and his narration trails off when he starts to imagine what she might look like.
  • Ascended Meme: The Joker leaves a recording playing the Batman version of Jingle Bells when he causes trouble near Christmas.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Deconstructed with the death of Lieutenant Ron Probson. He was an asshole whom nobody liked, and there are hints that his personality conflicts came from latent homophobia, but his death still causes grief and anger amongst his co-workers because while he might have been disliked, he was also a good cop.
    • Officers Munroe and Decarlo, two very corrupt beat cops who murdered a teenage girl, are killed by the girl's caretaker, Poison Ivy. The rest of the series never indicates that they were particularly mourned, or even missed.
  • Ass Kicking Pose: When Firebug attempts to burn his way out of an interrogation room, Romy Chandler was waiting for the attempt and douses him with a fire extinguisher. The next panel is her standing there, extinguisher in hand, ready.
  • Badass Normal: Deconstructed. The members of the MCU are skilled, well-trained and armed, but real-world police tactics are little good against the superscience employed by many of Batman's enemies. The GCPD can often succeed in their investigations when pressed, but they suffer significant casualties in the process.
  • Bad Cop/Incompetent Cop: While the members of the MCU are honest and skilled, the Gotham City Police Department as a whole is listed by the FBI as the second most corrupt police force in the country (following only Hub City, home of The Question). The personnel of the Major Crimes Unit are personally selected from the force at large by the Commissioner of Police in order to ensure a modicum of integrity and talent. This leads to frequent clashes between main characters in the MCU and guest figures from other departments, who disagree (sometimes violently) over what constitutes "proper" police work.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Finnigan's. It is a cop bar, but since the police in question are the Gotham City Police Department this is where people go to arrange drug deals, tamper with evidence and cover up crimes (up to and including murder).
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Two-Face is arrested after framing Renee for murder, but she cannot be un-outed, her parents have disowned her and several of her co-workers now have more ammunition to use against the honest Hispanic woman making trouble for their corrupt white male club. It might have ended badly for him, but Two-Face made her life hell exactly as he intended.
  • Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: While Lieutenant Cornwell isn't a very warm guy, and got the job due to connections even though Sarge Davies was in line for it, he actually is surprisingly accommodating to his detectives, and avoids any major Jerkass moments.
  • Bat Family Crossover: During the "War Games" crossover, Gotham City is engulfed in a large-scale Mob War inadvertently started by Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl). The crime affects the various different series set in Gotham City, including Gotham Central, and the detectives are drawn into the conflicts between armed factions. With long lasting affects, Crispus Allen is forced to kill the masked assassin Black Spider when he and Renee Montoya are caught in a shootout between Black Spider and Burnley Town Massive, and Batman's actions in his own series result in the GCPD dismantling the Bat Signal in this one.
  • Bat Signal: Deconstructednote . The series delves into the legality and operation of the signal, and what it implies for the relationship between Batman and the police. Legally, no employee of City Hall or the police can operate the signal, since that would qualify as an official endorsement of Batman and make the city government responsible for whatever actions Batman takes. As such, only Stacy, the secretary of the MCU who is technically a temp and not a city employee at all, is allowed to turn on the signalnote . The signal itself is eventually dismantled following the events of the "War Games" crossover (see Bat Family Crossover above) when the GCPD feels that Batman has broken the bonds of good faith between them.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: A reporter named Jack Dunning explains that he got into the MCU by walking through the door like he knew what he was doing and the desk sergeant on duty did not say anything.
  • Beat Panel: Beat panels are frequently included to break up a scene as the detectives make a connection or realize the situation.
  • Berserk Button: When Two-Face notices one of his men looking at Renee Montoya, he begins to viciously beat the man and takes out his gun to kill him, only to abruptly stop and go back to explaining to Renee how he has prepared her steak.
  • The Big Board: The MCU has a whiteboard which lists detectives and the cases they are assigned to (currently open cases written in red, closed cases written in black). Charlie Fields, an MCU detective, once proposed putting Batman up on the board and assigning him all the cases that had gone cold or been abandoned by their officers. However, Charlie did not mean for this to be a compliment or show of faith to Batman, but as a mark of shame for the MCU by highlighting that they needed an outsider to do their jobs for them.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The killers from Dead Robin and On the Freak Beat. It's briefly speculated that murder victim Bonnie Lewis may have been this, given he nosiness, and looking for dirt on the families she babysat for, but from what the comic shows us, it was just a hobby and she never actually blackmailed anyone.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Catwoman says that she is helping Josie Mac solve a murder, but Josie bluntly insists that Catwoman is blackmailing her, how does that qualify as 'help'?
  • Black Market: Crime scene technician Jim Corrigan steals evidence and sells it to collectors, who have a brisk trade related to Gotham crime memorabilia.
  • Bondage Is Bad: Despite the detectives' shocked reaction, the comic does not portray Reverend Buford Pressman's bondage hobby as bad per se, but rather as an indication of his hypocrisy given his beliefs and actions.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: in Soft Targets, when Probson is racing to the roof to light the Bat Signal, he's right that there's no time to waste in alerting Batman that the killer is The Joker. But, as Davies points out, going onto the exposed roof when there's a sniper lurking out there is a bad idea, especially given that they haven't received authorization to light the Bat Signal yet. In the end, Davies was probably right, as the Joker was waiting for someone to light the Bat Signal and would have killed Stacy and Probson when they did if Batman hadn't been nearby, looking for Joker, whose involvement he was already aware of, anyway.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Both instances of somebody being shot while wearing a bulletproof vest are accurate depictions of modern day armor.
    • When Renee is shot by the Black Spider, her vest is not penetrated because the Spider is using machine pistols with standard pistol ammunition, and her ribs are still cracked from the impact regardless. The number of shots stopped by the vest, however, is beyond what a real vest can handle.
    • In the final arc Crispus Allen is killed through his vest because Corrigan used a pistol modified to fire a rifle round. Police-issue bulletproof vests are not designed to stop rounds above pistols without the addition of impact plates or other modifications.
  • Bully Hunter: When the Gotham High bombing case is re-opened, the detectives look at a couple of wealthy software tycoons who were simple nerds in high school and actually cheered at the memorial service for the victims of the bombing. One of the theories of the case was that, as frequently-bullied nerds, they had bombed the baseball team in order to get vengeance on the popular jocks. They were not responsible, although they did know the people who were.
  • The Bus Came Back: Harvey Bullock had been forced to retire from the Gotham City Police Department before the start of the series, and was absent from the early issues despite frequent mentions from his old friends and partners. When the Gotham High School bombing case is re-opened, which Bullock had focused on before his forced retirement, he guest-stars in several issues as the current cast picks up the investigation.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Surprisingly, most of the characters, at least in the beginning. As the sole honest department in the GCPD, the MCU takes its responsibilities seriously and works to get actual convictions, not just rough up suspects because they do not like them. This leads to a lot of friction with other departments, and even within their own ranks when some characters begin to move away from being "good police."
  • The Cameo:
    • Huntress appears in a single issue (plus the closing page of the previous issue) to discuss Sergeant Vincent Del Arrazio's family connection to The Mafia.
    • Slam Bradley, a classic Private Detective who premiered in Detective Comics #1, appears in an issue to give Josie Mac select information related to Catwoman.
    • The Teen Titans appear in an issue to convince the MCU that the dead boy in the Robin costume they have found was not the real Robin.
    • Chyre and Morillo escort Montoya and Allen around Central City. They also briefly namedrop Barry Allen and Wally West.
    • Batman himself is much more of a side character, usually appearing as a shadow on the edge of a panel.
  • Canon Immigrant: Renee Montoya, one of the lead characters, was originally created for Batman: The Animated Series and was adopted into the comics themselves.
  • Car Cushion: Captain Marvel completely wrecks the squad car that Montoya and Allen had borrowed.
  • Cardboard Prison: There are no successful prison escapes within the series itself, but the detectives have had to deal with many breakouts in the past and even say that Arkham Asylum has a "revolving door."
  • Catchphrase: Good cops die, villains live, and there is nothing anybody can do about it because everybody knows "it's Gotham." Doubles as a Shout-Out to a very similar movie.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Jim Corrigan is introduced very early in the series, recurring as a background character and crime scene technician for several years before he becomes integral to the plot of Montoya and Allen's stories.
  • Classy Catburglar: Catwoman guest-stars in an arc, and does not like that her name is being sullied as a murderer in addition to a thief.
  • Clear My Name: Renee Montoya in the "Half a Life" arc.
  • C-List Fodder:
    • Crispus Allen shot and killed the Black Spider when he and Renee Montoya were caught in the crossfire between him and Burnley Town Massive.
    • The Fisherman, an Aquaman villain who appeared in the Infinite Crisis crossover issue, is killed by the GCPD.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Captain Maggie Sawyer is generally a cool person in authority, but she lets loose the biggest when she finally lets go.
    Captain Maggie Sawyer: Mother#%$&! Mother#%$&! Mother#%$&! Mother#%$&!... No *%$ing comment!
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Corrigan is dirty, everyone knows it. But when he finds out one of his partners was talking to Allen, he ruthlessly and quite calmly does this.
  • Collector of the Strange: There is apparently a brisk black market trade of Gotham crime memorabilia. Two kids talk about how much one of Batman's batarangs could be sold for on-line, and the original Firebug sold his suit and explained that the fact that he once fought Batman in the armor made it worth a fortune. One nice old lady has a large and varied collection of minutia, and plays a critical role in one arc when she comes into possession of crucial evidence.
  • Coming-Out Story: Renee Montoya is outed to her friends and family against her will by Two-Face, who hopes to demolish her life and force her to fall into his arms. Renee's journey is particularly harsh because, in addition to the challenges facing any emerging homosexual, her workplace culture and her parents' background make acceptance even harder. Captain Sawyer, herself a lesbian, attempts to guide her through it, but Renee makes it clear that their situations are drastically different.
  • The Commissioner Gordon:
    • James Gordon himself has retired from the GCPD before the start of the series and appears only in flashbacks and a few scattered cameos in the present-day. His replacement, Commissioner Akins, does not have the personal bond with Batman that Gordon did and there is extensive friction between the two of them. After the "War Games" event (See Bat Family Crossover above) Akins officially terminates the cooperation between Batman and the GCPD.
    • Maggie Sawyer retains her connections to Superman from when she was his primary contact in the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit. When she needs to contact members of the superhero community outside of Gotham she contacts Lois Lane and asks for a favor.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Though Gotham City itself seems to have recovered, there are frequent references made by characters to a recent earthquake and "No Man's Land." These both refer to a long-running arc in various Bat-Family titles during the late 1990's where Gotham City was destroyed by a large earthquake, with the entire city subsequently abandoned and declared off-limits by the United States government. This sequence of events, also titled No Man's Land, featured many of the characters starring in Gotham Central and introduced numerous relationships and plots that run throughout this series.
    • When Nora Fields is shot by the Joker, after her husband had been killed by Mr. Freeze at the start of the series, Nate Patton makes a tasteless joke about setting her up with James Gordon since they would have so much in common. Gordon's daughter, Barbara Gordon, had been shot and paralyzed by the Joker in The Killing Joke, and his wife, Sarah Gordon-Essen, had been shot and killed by the Joker in Batman: No Man's Land.
    • Many references are made to the Bat Family Crossover War Games, of which Gotham Central played a part. After the event, many cops discuss the current strained relationship between the GCPD and Batman, as well as the impact it had on the activities of local costumed heroes.
    • When the Teen Titans guest-star in an issue to convince the MCU that Robin is alive and well, they mention that there have recently been some changes in his home life. When they are pressed for details, Cyborg explained that he had a lot to deal with in the past year.
    • While talking to Crispus Allen in her introductory arc, Josie Mac made a single-sentence reference to having once encountered Two-Face. This happened in her Detective Comics back-up strip in 2001.
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Like in real life, simply "knowing" somebody is guilty means absolutely nothing without evidence, and some of the biggest frustrations (and despairs) of the series come when characters know somebody is guilty, but they cannot do anything about it because there is nothing to support their theory.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Josie Mac has a superhuman ability that allows her to "hear" inanimate objects, but she fears how she will be treated if the truth comes out. As such, she frequently needs to come up with explanations for "hunches" and her "gut." In the "Corrigan" arc which closes out the series, she knows for a fact that the gun she found is the murder weapon, and begins to argue the point when the ballistics check comes back negative. However, when Captain Sawyer asks her how she knows for sure that the gun is the right gun, Josie looks away and drops the argument.
  • Cowboy Cop: None of the characters, at least in the beginning. As the sole honest department in the GCPD, the MCU takes its responsibilities seriously and works to get actual convictions, not just rough up suspects because they do not like them. Explicit reference is made to the fact that at least one previous member of the MCU, Harvey Bullock, is no longer on the force because of how he worked around the rules when they did not work for him.
    • Nate Patton and Renee Montoya are kind of quick to use their fists on occasion.
  • Crime Time Soap: Has shades of this, but Downplayed.
  • Crisis Crossover: One memorable issue takes place during Infinite Crisis and has Montoya and Allen seeing the effects of what is happening.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: When characters first begin to accuse Jim Corrigan of being a dirty cop, Josie Mac insists that she knows him and he is honest. Several characters suspect that she is sexually involved with him, which she flatly denies. Eventually she accepts that Corrigan is dirty, and stops objecting to the MCU's dislike of him. However, it is never revealed what her history with him is, nor why she was so convinced that he was an honest cop.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Corrigan, during his fistfight with Renee, staggers her with a backhand and shoves her into a dumpster. They're the only blows he lands and he gets his ass kicked soon after.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: or rather, it killed Bonnie Lewis. who found an aspiring super villains costume while poking around his closet, and also trigged a silent alarm that let him know that she knew.
  • Da Chief: Captain Maggie Sawyer, transferred officer from the Metropolis Police Force and commander of the Major Crime Unit of the Gotham City Police Department.
  • Darker and Edgier: This series is predominantly darker and grittier than most comics in the DCU at large, featuring subdued and muted colors in addition to its dark storylines. Maggie Sawyer, Da Chief and Reasonable Authority Figure, is a transferred officer from the Metropolis Police Department and is often directly confronted with the contrast between the two cities. The darker themes won significant critical acclaim and Eisner, Harvey, and Gaylactic Spectrum awards.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Stacy, the MCU's receptionist, narrates an issue which focuses on her life and role in the department.
  • Dead Partner: Driver's best friend and partner, Charlie Fields, is killed by Mr. Freeze in the first issue. Several arcs later in the series, Nate Patton (who is less fleshed out than his partner, tritagonist Romy Chandler) is mortally wounded by the Joker.
  • The Dead Have Names:
    • When Officers Munroe and Defalco kill a young runaway who saw them extorting money from a drug dealer, neither is too concerned about it. Not only do they believe they will get away with the crime itself, but they figure that she was unimportant enough that nobody would care anyway. They are wrong.
      Poison Ivy: Just a street slit, is that what you called her? Some runaway girl, and who would possibly miss her? I would. Her name was Dee Dee, officers...
    • Detective Nate Patton was killed during the Joker's Christmas rampage, which some members of the MCU blame directly on Batman. Months later, when Stacy is speaking to Robin about it, she is surprised that Robin not only remembered the event, but knew his name.
  • Death Glare: When Romy Chandler shot Batman, he broke her nose and stole her gun, after which her partner drew his own gun. Batman stood perfectly still, just staring at him, until he lowered the weapon.
  • Despair Event Horizon: In the final arc of the series, when Crispus Allen is murdered and his killer walks on the crime, Renee Montoya quits the force, descends into alcoholism and drives her girlfriend away. She had, until the events of 52, lost all faith in herself, the police force and society at large.
  • Detective Drama: Though supervillains are a recurring element, the main storylines revolve around the mundane affair of normal human detectives investigating crime.
  • Deus ex Machina: At the end of the "Dead Robin" story arc they need to use the Bat Signal to contact Batman, but the signal had been physically dismantled during the earlier crossover with War Games. It turns out that the GCPD has a portable, easily set-up Bat Signal that was given to them by Ted Kord years ago. This is lampshaded when Josie Mac mentions how convenient it is.
  • Differently Powered Individual: All costumed and super-powered criminals are termed "freaks," and this label is occasionally applied to non-villainous people with powers. Only a few well-known heroes are excepted from the label.
  • Dirty Cop:
    • Officers Munroe and Decarlo, who kill a young runaway after she sees them extorting money from a corner drug dealer.
    • Jim Corrigan, GCPD crime scene investigator.
  • The Dog Bites Back: "Nature" opens with Officers Munroe and Decarlo beating up Trigger, a corner drug dealer, when he is late with their regular cut. At the end of the issue, Trigger confirms who they are to Poison Ivy before she kills them.
  • Double Standard: Josie Mac is incensed at the way Sarge Davies pulls strings to get Harvey Bullock out of trouble, including sweeping some rather serious criminal charges under the rug, while he simultaneously insinuates that Jim Corrigan is dirty because of a few rumors. The "old boy network loyalty" makes her sick.
  • Downer Ending: Crispus Allen gets shot and killed by Corrigan. Corrigan walks, however, when the evidence is tampered with by other corrupt members of the forensics department. Montoya goes to kill him, but can not go through with it. Disgusted with herself and what she is becoming, she turns in her badge and gun on Maggie Sawyer's desk and quits.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Two-Face discovers Renee's lesbianism and uses it to make her vulnerable so he can potentially woo her to him. When she explains that the very meaning of being a lesbian is that she is not attracted to men, and asks if he even looked at the photos before sending them out, Two-Face innocently replies, "Yeah, I know all that. I don't see what that has to do with us."
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Kenny Booker killed himself after he had taken a building hostage to get the attention of Marcus Driver. He had been a survivor of the Gotham High School Hawks bombing years before, and was traumatized by the incident and suffering from survivor's guilt. Driver's investigation reveals that Kenny had actually been the one to physically carry out the bombing, as he was mind-controlled by the Mad Hatter. The memories and guilt of the event were what had driven him crazy in the intervening years, and finally to suicide.
    • After the Gotham High School Hawks bombing case was re-opened following the suicide of Kenny Booker, Marcus Driver sought out Harvey Bullock, who had been the lead detective on the case years before. The trauma of the bombing itself, combined with his inability to ever solve the case, had haunted Bullock ever since. When Bullock tries to kill himself, Josie Mac is able to distract him and Marcus Driver manages to disarm him and keep him from following through.
      Josie Mac: Jesus, Bullock, you're thinkin' like a skell. You can't be that far gone. You were a cop for twenty years. You've gotta be better than this.
      Harvey Bullock: See, what you don't know, Josie... what you don't know about me... I'm not better.
    • As the series progresses, Renee Montoya descends into alcoholism and depression due to the various traumas she suffers, including being outed, being disowned, and the extra-legal means she was forced to in order to help her partner defeat false accusations. Her actions eventually lead to violent tendencies and, ultimately, cradling her own gun. Crispus Allen recognized the signs and warned her to get help, and she pleaded with her girlfriend Daria to help her deal with her problems.
  • Drowning My Sorrows:
    • Harvey Bullock has been forced to retire from the MCU, and when somebody needs to consult with him he can generally always be found in some rundown bar. When he reappears to help investigate the Gotham High Hawks bombing case he is recruited from a barstool, and goes on several drunken rampages later in the arc.
    • Renee Montoya, Bullock's former partners, descends into alcoholism as the series progresses.
  • End of an Age: Members of the Major Crimes Unit are personally selected by the Commissioner of Police to insure that they are properly honest and dedicated. Marcus Driver was the final detective selected for the squad by James Gordon before his retirement, and Josie Mac is the first detective added to the MCU under the new Commissioner Akins. Several characters point to this as the end of an era for the department.
  • Ensemble Cast: Eight detectives in a shift, two shifts with their own shift commander, the commissioner, the secretary, crime scene technicians, medical examiners and various friends and loved ones means that the cast never gets stuck or bogged down on just one person.
  • Environmental Symbolism: In Gotham weather has three forms: Rain, snow and "You know, there aren't actually any clouds in the sky, but this place is still @#$%ing dark and wet and depressing."
  • Euphemism Buster: Catwoman says that she is helping Josie Mac solve a murder, but Josie bluntly states that Catwoman is blackmailing her, how does this qualify as 'help'?
  • "Eureka!" Moment:
    • In the Half a Life arc, Renee Montoya has been expertly framed for murder and is being interrogated by Internal Affairs. The various panels during the interrogation show her in various poses of exasperation (head in her hands, scowling expression, etc.) except for one panel, where her hands drop from her face and her eyes widen in the obvious understanding of something. The dialogue in the previous panel actually hints at the culprit ("Temporary insanity plea... double life... threat to someone you love...") and this is when she put the pieces together, though she does not explain it to anybody until much later.
    • In the "Dead Robin" arc, Captain Sawyer and reporter Simon Lippman are having a lot of friction over the use of crime scene photos in Lippman's articles, since she assumes he bought them off somebody in the department. However, when Crispus Allen is making phone calls later, he notices that the photos in the paper, though almost identical to the police crime scene photos, lack tags and tape that the police use to identify evidence. They were taken before the police arrived.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Sergeant Jackson "Sarge" Davies. It has gotten to the point that, when Sarge was upset that he was passed over for promotion to Lieutenant, his partner tried to console him with the fact that his name would not have fit anymore.
    Detective Crowe: Look on the bright side. If they'd promoted you, what would people call you? I mean, you're Sarge.
    Sarge: They coulda called me Lieutenant Sarge...
  • Exposed to the Elements: When Huntress has a cameo, she is drawn in her midriff-baring outfit, despite the scene taking place in the dead of winter. Lampshaded immediately after her appearance, as Sergeant Del Arazzio comments that she must be freezing in that outfit and she says that he has no idea.
  • Expy:
    • Dr. Alchemy for Hannibal Lecter.
    • Simon Lippman is not too dissimilar to Greg Rucka.
  • Extreme Mle Revenge: Renee Montoya beats up Dr. Alchemy when he tries to escape. The other officers think he deserved it, but Renee is afraid that she has gone too far. She worries that she was just looking for any excuse at all to hurt him.
  • Fantastic Racism: Except for a few celebrated heroes, the people of Gotham do not take a very positive view of "freaks," and Josie Mac hides her nature for fear of how she will be treated.
  • First Partner Wins: Inverted. Detective Nate Patton is romantically interested in his partner Romy Chandler, but even after it's hinted to her, she doesn't see it and eventually gets together with Marcus Driver.
  • First-Name Basis: Lieutenant Ron Probson was never on good terms with Captain Sawyer. He might have been resentful because she got the promotion he wanted, or he might have been a homophobe who never quite said it out loud for fear of a lawsuit, but either way he certainly earned his nickname of "The Probe." However, when the Joker was terrorizing the city and Captain Sawyer had decided to step over a line to do what needs to be done, he stepped forward to take the fall instead, allowing her to "stay clean." For the first time, he calls her "Maggie" and she calls him "Ron".
  • Flashed-Badge Hijack: The Infinite Crisis crossover issue opens with Allen and Montoya's unmarked police car breaking down and them waiting for a tow-truck to arrive and bring them back to the squadroom. When the Crisis began to tear the city apart they stopped a regular squad-car that was driving past and kicked out the officers in it, explaining that they would send a car to come pick them up while they responded to the supervillains running wild.
  • For Science!: Dr. Alchemy and his twisted experiments.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Renee Montoya was outed by Two-Face, and it had a catastrophic effect on her professional and personal lives.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Harlan Combs is frequently seen fiddling with his watch in almost all scenes that he appears in. Sometimes he is actively checking the time, while other times he seems to just be obsessively playing with it. When he is exposed as the villain Firebug, it is revealed that his watch is part of his flamethrower apparatus.
    • After her introduction, Josie Mac frequently notices minute details and clues that nobody else recognizes, even stumbling across some information by seemingly random chance. She waves it all off by crediting her "gut" and luck. Later issues reveal that she has a superpower which allows her to "hear" inanimate objects. Of course, readers of the Josie Mac backup strip in Detective Comics a couple of years earlier already knew this.
    • in Unresolved, the two nerds mentioned under Bully Hunter, when interviewed by Marcus and Josie, mention that while some of the victims bullied them, another, Mark Rabin, was friends with them and their friend Connie the daughter of the Mad Hatter's landlady, who was pregnant by Mark, which provided the motive for the murders.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: The issue "Nature" follows two corrupt cops after they kill a young runaway who saw them extorting money from a corner drug dealer. Only two members of the MCU appear, Detectives Allen and Montoya, and the MCU itself is viewed with contempt and hatred.
  • Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Dunning. one of the final killers in the series.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Josie Mac says that she knows Jim Corrigan well enough to know that he is not a Dirty Cop, and there are even rumors that the two of them currently are or once were lovers, but the two of them are never shown interacting officially or socially.
  • Fully Absorbed Finale: Batman: Officer Down was a story before the launch of Gotham Central detailing the attempted murder of James Gordon when he is shot in the back. The culprit is discovered, but cannot be convicted and the comic ends with Harvey Bullock cheerfully telling the shooter that he will "be seeing him." A few days later nobody knows where he is and his apartment is suspiciously empty. However, exactly what happened was never revealed in Officer Down, and Bullock is simply absent in Gotham Central, despite his previous association with the MCU. Then, when an old case of Harvey's is re-opened, the story is told how "Old School" Harvey Bullock managed to get justice for Gordon by giving his shooter's name and address to the mob, who had been looking for him for years, but who he had evaded by living under an assumed name. Afterward, Bullock had been forced to accept early retirement from this last step over the line.
  • The Fundamentalist: Reverend Buford Pressman.
    Josie Mac: Meet the late Reverend Buford Pressman.
    Marcus Driver: Wait, the televangelist guy?
    Josie: Got it in one.
    Marcus: I hate that guy.
  • The Gambling Addict: Detective Tommy Burke. His partner can judge how well he did at poker based on when he arrives in the morning.
    Detective Dagmar Procjnow: When you're late, you lost. When you're early, you won. How much did you lose?
    Detective Tommy Burke: Two thousand three hundred and eleven dollars.
    Dagmar: (Spit Take)
  • Gangbangers: They might tussle with the Joker and Two-Face from time to time, but the MCU also has to deal with the usual punks and riff-raff that all cops have to deal with, including the gun-toting thugs of Burnley Town Massive.
  • Gay Bar Reveal: It is a blink-and-you'll-miss-it Meaningful Background Event on the first page of the Half a Life arc: Before Renee is outed, before there are any significant hints, before we are even aware that it is her that is in this scene, she goes to Maloney's Bar & Girl for the evening.
  • Gayngst: When Renee Montoya is outed by Two-Face she faces discrimination at work and rejection from her family, who disown her when she admits it. Maggie Sawyer, who is openly gay, helps her work through initial problems within the police force, but Renee makes it clear that their situations are drastically different (see the page quote); the differences between Gotham and Metropolis run deeper than just the business hours of their heroes, as do their personal differences. This, along with other factors, leads to eventual alcoholism and long stares at a loaded pistol.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Everybody acknowledges that, when Renee beat up corrupt crime scene tech Jim Corrigan to get crucial evidence to exonerate her partner, it essentially gave Corrigan a free pass on all future crimes since any investigation would be marred by her actions. She considers it a fair trade, but Crispus Allen does not.
  • Glory Hound:
    • Lieutenant Probson resents how Captain Sawyer is the one to speak to the press even though it is his detectives working a case. He accuses her of stealing the publicity, but it is pretty clear it is just because he wants the attention instead.
    • Marcus Driver persuades the new Lieutenant Cornwell to allow him to re-open the Gotham High School Hawks bombing case by explaining that it would be a huge feather in Cornwell's cap to solve a ten year old tragedy like that. Cornwell agrees to let Marcus investigate, but also tells Marcus to never try to manipulate him like that again, as he would have agreed without the hard sell.
  • Godwin's Law: "You know the rule— All debate ends when it gets to Hitler."
  • Gollum Made Me Do It: Two-Face appears as the antagonist in the "Half a Life" arc.
    Harvey Dent: That wasn't me, that was Two-Face!
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: Most of the partners fall into this routine. Interestingly, often enough, Crispus Allen is the good cop and Montoya is the bad one, whereas she played good cop when she was previously paired with Harvey Bullock.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs:
    • After his flamethrower is taken out of the equation with the application of a fire extinguisher, Marcus Driver and Romy Chandler "subdue" Firebug with their bare hands.
    • When Jim Corrigan has sold some crucial crime scene evidence on the black market, Renee Montoya needs to "persuade" him to tell her who he sold it to. They wind up in a barenuckle boxing match in the back alley behind Finnigan's bar.
  • Good Policing, Evil Policing: The series focusses on the Gotham City Police, which tries to enforce law and order in the DC Universe's main example of the term "Wretched Hive" and was dirty in every single level until Batman and The Commissioner Gordon came along (and even then, the series just loves to show why it's still classified by the FBI as the second most corrupt police force in America). The plot is not lacking in examples for both sides of this Trope, with Commissioner Gordon himself and the members of the Major Crimes Unit like Renee Montoya trying to be a By-the-Book Cop and others like Harvey Bullock being a lawful Cowboy Cop, while one of the big examples of crooked cops is Jim Corrigan, who murders Detective Crispus Allen and gets away with it.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: When the detectives are trying to determine if the first body found in the "Dead Robin" arc is really Robin or not, they note that it looks like he was killed by a fall from the top of a building even though he obviously had his "grapple thing" with him.
  • Guns Akimbo: The Black Spider wields two automatic machine pistols that he shoots on fully automatic. His gunfire is wild and uncontrolled, peppering an entire room instead of just the person he is shooting at. He has to pause and take an aimed shot with one gun to make an accurate headshot.
  • Gut Feeling:
    • Josie Mac frequently stumbles across evidence and information as if by blind luck, and oftentimes she credits it to hunches and her gut. She actually has a superpower that allows her to "hear" inanimate objects, but she needs to keep it a secret.
    • Harvey Bullock always believed that the Gotham High School Hawks bombing incident was related to illegal sports betting, and specifically Oswald Cobblepot (The Penguin). He never had any concrete evidence, but he could feel it in his gut, and even with Bullock now retired and drinking heavily Marcus Driver says that the gut instinct of a cop like Bullock is nothing to take lightly. It turns out that there is no gambling connection at all, Bullock was simply paranoid and obsessive to the point of attempted murder. Learning that he had been wrong for all this time then drove him to attempt suicide.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Jim Gordon once told Stacy that most criminals are not actively evil, they just do not consider the full consequences of their actions. However, Jim considers that even more incomprehensible than those who willfully cause harm, as it is just unnecessary destruction and pain.
  • Happily Married: Davies, from what little we see. Charlie and Nora Fields, before his death.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: Exploited by the Black Spider. After Renee survives her initial shooting because she is wearing a Bulletproof Vest, the Spider pauses to take a more accurate shot at her head and tells her she should have worn a helmet.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Marcus, who ends up with Romy.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Lieutenant Ron "The Probe" Probson gets an unusual one; he does not take the bullet, but rather he will take the fall when they need to get some information from the Joker. Maggie Sawyer is willing to do it, but Probson says it is better that she stay "clean," and volunteers to do it himself since he is already planning on transferring.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: The Reverend Buford Pressman was a The Fundamentalist preacher who hosted a cable show decrying a lot of sins, but was secretly a member of the bondage and S&M underground.
  • Hope Spot: In "Keystone Kops", Officer Andy Kelly is being mutated into a monstrous creature by Flash villain Dr. Alchemy. However, even though Dr. Alchemy himself accelerates the transformation, the representative from S.T.A.R. Labs finds a cure that should be able to reverse the process. Unfortunately, Kelly's rampage forces the GCPD to kill him before they can administer the treatment.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Josephine "Josie Mac" MacDonald will spot a dented mailbox from across the street, and hours later in a darkened garage will notice a corresponding dent on a nearby car. When somebody hides her coffee mug she always, always, knows exactly where they put it. Towards the end of the series it's revealed that this is actually a superhuman power that she possesses, but which she hides for fear of how she will be treated.
    • Joely Bartlett is a straighter example, solving the case during her Day in the Limelight just by observing the movings of an office for a few minutes and noting that a jar of candy that Procjnow and Burke had mentioned disappeared since their visit.
  • An Ice Person: Mr. Freeze is the first villain of the series.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: When Renee is confronted with how she beat crucial evidence out of Corrupt Cop Jim Corrigan, she explains that even if her actions got Corrigan off from any future allegations at least it kept Crispus Allen on the force. She considers it a pretty good trade.
  • I Have No Son!: Played straight, unfortunately, when Renee Montoya admits to her parents that she is gay. She is told she is going to hell, that she is dead to them and to never come back. Is it any wonder she starts crying once she gets into her car? Her father improves slightly much later on, managing to have a mature conversation with Renee's girlfriend and admitting that he misses her, but the Downer Ending does not allow this to reach the positive conclusion, becoming an Ignored Epiphany. Her brother doesn't help the situation either, as he views Renee's actions as some bout of It's All About Me and thinks she is hurting their parents with her supposed selfishness.
  • I Have Your Wife: Two-Face managed to get an Internal Affairs detective to help frame Renee Montoya by threatening to kill his child. The MCU finds this a very poor excuse, as his ex-wife and child had moved to San Francisco years ago and they know Two-Face never leaves Gotham.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: The "Dead Robin" arc revolved around a reporter who had murdered several teenage males and dumped their bodies in authentic-looking Robin costumes. He demands to be allowed to confess to Batman directly, and reveals that he wanted desperately to be part of that world. Batman grants his request.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: Frequently, as expected in a Batman comic, where the ever-present corruption of the GCPD means that criminals and villains manage to escape justice, and the honest cops are pushed to the brink in an effort to accomplish something, anything, that will end the violence and horror of the city. None ever cross the line in the comic, they either stop themselves or are stopped by others, but when Renee Montoya comes close, so close, to shooting Corrigan, she quits the police force in disgust.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Mr. Montoya seems to be coming to grips with his daughters sexuality, and is actually able to admit that he misses her while having a mature conversation with her girlfriend, but an early issue of follow-up series 52 reveals that he and Renee are still not speaking. It is possible that this is not entirely down to this trope, as it's made clear on several occasions that Renee — understandably resentful of the situation — isn't overly keen to speak to him either.
  • Immigrant Parents: Renee Montoya's parents are immigrants from the Dominican Republic with a heavily Catholic background, two reasons why her sexuality is particularly hard for them to accept and why Renee feels that Maggie Sawyer never went through the same things when she came out.
  • Implausible Deniability: Joseph Rigger claims he sold his Firebug suit as "memorabilia", intended for display purposes only, and he then goes on to talk about how he gave the buyer instructions on how to use the equipment.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Two-Face never does understand that, regardless of what he does to her, Renee is simply not sexually attracted to men. She explains in explicit detail that she is gay, and points out that he is the one who outed her, and his only response is to wonder what that has to do with "us".
  • In-Series Nickname: When he is not around, Lieutenant Ron Probson is dubbed "the Probe" by his subordinates. Lieutenant Cornwell is "Cornhole".
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: Montoya at the end of "Corrigan II."
  • Internal Affairs: Played with. In standard fictional-cop fashion, none of the cast likes Internal Affairs and nobody in Internal Affairs likes the cast, but whenever IA shows up and ruins their lives they have legitimate reasons and evidence for giving everyone headaches. There are even times when they themselves will bend the rules when they see that they are being exploited to hurt "good police." Esperanza even goes along with Montoya beating Corrigan down because he believes he owed her for not looking closer into her case when Two-Face was framing her.
  • Intimidating Revenue Service: Romy Chandler originally planned to be an FBI agent, but switched to the GCPD after she learned just how much paperwork and procedure was involved with being a Fed, since if she wanted to do nothing but reports and memos she would have joined the IRS. When Marcus Driver points out that IRS agents do not carry guns, Romy points out that they do not need to.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Simon Lippman, who covers a lot of the more fantastic Gotham stories and has a (relatively) pleasant working relationship with the MCU. However, he is a reporter to the core and refuses to compromise, including refusing to name any sources or give the police access to his privileged information. Other reporters explain that he is "old school," and this causes some friction between him and Captain Sawyer toward the end of the series.
  • Innocent Bystander Series: Normal guys just trying to do their jobs in a city full of freaks in capes.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Fistfights are unfortunately common, and when all is said and done everybody involved, even the victor, is bruised and bloody, especially on their hands. When Renee Montoya begins to descend into violent, drunken fights in bars and back-alleys, her damaged hands are one of the first signs to her friends and family that something is wrong.
  • It Gets Easier: When a friend of his younger brother commits suicide in front of him, Marcus Driver tells Josie Mac that after seeing so many people he cares about die recently, after it was done it was just another body to him. Josie Mac sadly agrees that she knows what he means.
  • It's Personal: Almost all the cases of the series start off as normal assignments, but they each become personal during the course of the investigation.
    • In the first issue of the series, while searching for a kidnapped child, Marcus Driver and Charlie Fields accidentally stumble onto Mr. Freeze and Charlie is murdered. The child's body is eventually found, but Marcus will not let the issue drop because he owes it to his dead partner.
    • "Half a Life" revolves around a personal vendetta against Renee Montoya as she is sued, blackmailed, framed for murder and personally assaulted.
    • "Unresolved" opens with a friend of Marcus Driver's younger brother committing suicide after taking a building hostage in order to get Marcus' attention.
    • While looking into the murder of two women who work for a pharmaceutical company, Vincent Del Arazzio spends part of the investigation making sure that it isn't personal since he is related to the Mafia family who owns a controlling stake in the company. He checks to make sure that the murders are non-business related so that he can reassure himself that he isn't compromising the investigation.
  • I Was Beaten by a Girl: After Renee Montoya wins her fistfight with Jim Corrigan, she leans down and points out that all his corrupt cop buddies at Finnigan's just saw her hand him his ass.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: The Major Crimes Unit is the "honest" part of the Gotham City Police Department, but there are some times when they need information, and they need it now. Usually comes back to bite them, often quite quickly.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Nate Patton, although it's not especially evident until his final arc. Also Mr. Vice Guy Tommy Burke, who gambles too much, is hinted to be a womanizer, and is one of the only characters to display open homophobia towards Renee, but works hard trying to catch Mr. Freeze and Corrigan. after the murders of Charlie Fields and Crispus Allen. respectively, and spends most of his Day in the Limelight getting his partner to attend her sons first professional violin recital when she was feeling bitter about not being specifically invited by him.
  • Joker Immunity:
    • When the Joker clashes with the MCU he takes at least nine rounds to the chest, but the epilogue shows him recovering in the ICU.
    • The Mad Hatter attempts to escape Arkham Asylum in one issue after having taken control of a guard. In the ensuing gunfight the guard himself is killed, but the Hatter is just injured and in recovery.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The MCU has jurisdiction over cases with supervillains, plus the more high-profile non-costumed crimes. This leads to clashes with other departments in the GCPD because other departments try to lazily dump routine investigations on them by claiming that the case bears the hallmarks of a supervillain.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • He might end up crying and begging on the floor of his kitchen, but apart from the personal shame Corrigan gets off Scot-free from his multiple thefts and murders as a corrupt cop. Of course, once the series is over he does receive his comuppance in a later comic.
    • Downplayed with his accomplice Officer Mulcahey, who at least gets a severe and satisfying beating.
  • Killed Off for Real: Four times. Detective Charlie Fields is killed by Mr. Freeze, Nate Patton is killed in an explosion set up by The Joker, Lt. Probson is personally killed by The Joker, and Allen is killed by Corrigan.
  • Killer Cop: Jim Corrigan.
  • Knight in Sour Armor: All of the MCU. They know Gotham is a Crapsack World. They know it's ridiculous that they've got to work with a costumed vigilante, that good men die, and that villains will continuously get to live. Does this stop them from trying to do the right thing? Hell no.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Sergeant Jackson "Sarge" Davies and Detective Crowe spend an inordinate amount of time debating inane subjects, including whether or not dog saliva is an antiseptic. They also, inevitably, encounter Godwin's Law.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Marcus Driver once related an incidental story about the time a suspect began to flee on foot, even leaping over a fence, to evade the cops. When the other cops ask if Driver managed to catch him, Driver says he did not have to, since the man was hit by a car.
  • Legacy Character:
    • The first multi-issue story deals with Firebug, an arsonist thief that has recently become active again after a long absence from Gotham. After several dramatic chases and many arsons they finally manage to arrest Joseph Rigger... and learn that he sold the costume and identity two years ago after he was nearly burned to death. Now they need to find the person he sold it to and they learn that it is Harlan Combs, a minor character who turns out to have committed another crime that was being investigated at the same time.
    • The "Dead Robin" arc revolves around somebody murdering teenage males and dumping their bodies in authentic-looking Robin costumes, with a lot of people wondering if any of them is really Robin. The parents of the first victim go on TV and state that, though they never thought about it before, they now believe that their son really was Robin, or at least a Robin. He is too young to have been the first boy in the costume, but they think he was one of the replacements. However, the detectives quickly uncover evidence to prove that he was never any Robin at all, not to mention pointing out to the parents why it was a dumb idea to comment on the situation at all.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Its connection to The Mafia is never explicitly revealed, but Antony Baretti was coming out of the Downtown Gotham Athletic Club when Sergeant Vincent Del Arrazio approached him looking for information on the Inzerillo crime family.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: Marcus Driver needs to recap the explanation that Joseph Rigger gave him over selling his old Firebug suit, since it is so clearly ridiculous.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: Daydreams and believers focuses on civilian employee Stacy. Nature, and the final arc are darker examples of this, prominently featuring lower-ranking Dirty Cops who respectively kill a girl who witnesses them shaking down a drug dealer, and help Corrigan get away with murder by sabotaging a ballistics test.
  • Mama Bear: Poison Ivy is featured as a caretaker of homeless orphans living in the park.
    "Her name was Dee Dee, officers...."
  • The Mafia: Sergeant Vincent Del Arrazio was born into a very prominent mafia family, and spent time in the FBI combating it not only in America, but also working to break its stranglehold on Sicily. Lots of the MCU suspect this, but he flat-out refuses to talk about it.
    Vincent: Don't *&$# me about, Mister Matheson. I know more about La Famiglia than you can ever imagine.
  • Malicious Misnaming: For most of the "Half a Life" arc, Crispus Allen accidentally calls Josie Mac "Mackenzie" instead of "MacDonald". He continues even afterwards as a form of hazing, and to emphasize that she is is only filling in until his "real" partner is back. Eventually she states that she will no longer respond to "Mackenzie" since she knows that he knows her correct name, and he switches to her real name.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Two-Face, in defiance of his normal double-obsessed theme. He plays the cops, criminals, the friends and families of characters, and the justice system itself all to twist Renee Montoya's life into a hopeless hole.
  • Manly Facial Hair: Sarge has a nice, thick mustache, and is very proud of it and all relevant facial hair.
    Detective Crowe: People don't trust a mustache anymore. It's just a cultural thing. Don't ask me to explain it.
    Sarge Davies: What about Teddy Roosevelt? He had a handlebar mustache.
    Crowe: Different era, Sarge. You telling me you'd vote for some guy with a handlebar mustache in this day and age?
    Sarge: Hell, yes. Anyone puts that kind of attention into a 'stache has just got class. I don't care what year it is.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: When considering that she really needs to find a new boyfriend, Stacy thinks that a friend of hers would recommend a friend with batteries.
  • Meaningful Background Event:
    • In the beginning of the Half a Life arc, almost a full issue before The Reveal, Brian Selker (Private Detective) is following Renee Montoya to a restaurant called "Maloney's". Tthere is not a lot of detail to be made out about the restaurant, and the name almost seems to be drawn as an afterthought: Maloney's Bar & Girl.
    • After Two-Face has Renee broken out of GCPD holding Crispus and Josie Mac arrive on the crime scene. While Crispus argues with the detectives on-site, Josie Mac is shown in panel backgrounds approaching a postal box on the side of the road. Only after Crispus finishes his argument does he notice what Josie is looking at and follow up.
  • Miranda Rights: The rights are read to almost all suspects that are arrested throughout the series. When one perp interrupts the warning and tries to waive his rights, Josie Mac tells him to shut up because she has to say the entire thing. That is the real-life procedure for arrests, even when somebody says they already know the speech.
  • Mob War: It is kicked off in another series, but the "War Games" Bat Family Crossover spills into Gotham Central and has long-lasting effects for the charactes.
  • Monster Clown: The Joker launches a spree just before Christmas one year.
  • More Hero than Thou: Maggie Sawyer is going to get some information from the Joker, but Ron Probson stops her and does it himself so that she can "stay clean."
  • Mundane Utility: Josie Mac has a Psychic Link power with objects that have been misplaced, she uses it most of the time to find her coffee cup. It is also one of the reasons why she's a good detective, misplaced evidence just talks to her.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Being cops, practically all of the cast runs on caffeine. The coffee machine holds a very important position in the MCU's interaction life. Seriously, how hard is it to fill the coffee maker again when you finish the damn coffee?!
  • New Meat: Josephine "Josie Mac" MacDonald, who was added to the cast during the series and was the first detective added to the MCU after the retirement of Commissioner Gordon. That her first appearance is sitting at Renee's desk does not go over well with Allen.
  • Noble Demon: An Internal Affairs inspector who has been called in to investigate Detective Crispus Allen uses his rank to get Daria Hernandez, Renee Montoya's girlfriend, into Renee's hospital room to visit her, since the hospital staff would not let her in, and later helps Renee break the law to get evidence to exonerate Allen. A previous story-arc had the same inspector investigating Renee, doing his best to have her convicted of murder, and he "owes her one."
  • Not His Sled: The original Spectre was a policeman named Jim Corrigan. One of the policemen in Gotham Central is named Jim Corrigan. At the end of the series, one of the policemen in Gotham Central becomes the Spectre... and it is not Corrigan. Corrigan is actually the one who kills that cop, which leads to him becoming the Spectre.
  • Not Me This Time:
    • They never get around to questioning any of the alleged mafiosos, but two murders at a pharmaceutical company were originally thought to be mob-related when it was learned that the Inzerillo family had a controlling stake in the company. They had nothing to do with the crime.
    • In the "Dead Robin" arc the detectives and Batman go through the compete list of usual suspects, but ultimately come to the conclusion that none of the usual Bat-villains had anything to do with it.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: Romy Chandler repeatedly brushes off Stacy, the MCU receptionist, when Stacy was trying to tell her that Robin had returned the gun that Batman took from her. However, unlike most examples of the trope, Stacy manages to make herself known before the lack of information becomes truly damaging.
  • Not Proven: How Corrigan walks away from Allen's murder.
  • Odd Friendship: Various detectives, such as Procjnow and Burke. Also, murder victim Bonnie Lewis and the homeless guy she loaned books to.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • When The Joker comes out of nowhere and walks up to Probson on the precinct steps to ask for directions to a wet-t-shirt contest.
    • An epic one ensues when the killer in "Dead Robin" is finally granted his wish to meet Batman.
    • Officers Munroe and Defalco look both stunned and horrified when they open an evidence bag they are delivering and see that it contains the possessions of the young girl they murdered earlier.
    • Romy Chandler after she lets her hatred of Batman get away from her and shot him under very questionable circumstances, and then again after he has broken her nose and she realizes he has also taken her gun from her.
    • When Renee accidentally lets slip that Batman stole Romy Chandler's gun.
      Sawyer: What was that?
      Renee: Oh, hell.
  • Old Cop, Young Cop: In the story arc, On the Freak Beat patrol cops Peak and Kelly have this dynamic. Kelly is a brave, energetic rookie who was a teenager during Batman: No Man's Land, while Peak is a kindly man with white hair and spectacles. Kelly is horribly mutated by a supervillain, and a heartbroken Peak eventually has to put him down.
  • Orifice Invasion: When Poison Ivy is executing a pair of corrupt police officers, her vines are everywhere.
  • Out of Focus: the first half of the series is a pretty good ensemble piece, with a rotating character focus, but for the rest of the run, it's rare for anyone besides Montoya, Driver, Josie Mac, Crispus or Chandler to play much of a role. Lots of characters get more focus in Corrigan II trying to catch Cripus Allen's killer. with some of them, such as Burke and Procjnow getting more lines in the final two issues than they had in the twenty preceding them. Cohen, Kasinsky, Hartley, and Azedvea fall victim to this the most, as they had some of the least focus from the start, and Hartley just disappears from the series after Soft Targets.
  • Outside/Inside Slur: Dr. Alchemy accuses Crispus Allen of trying to act white in order to survive in the GCPD, and calls him an 'Uncle Tom'.
  • Pet the Dog: Angie Molina, who spent her debut arc as one of the less sympathetic reporters the cast has to deal with, and got rich selling a book about her experiences, breaks down crying after being told that Patton, who was wounded trying to save her life, is being taken off life support.
  • Pistol-Whipping: In the final issue Renee knocks out Officer Mulcahey with her pistol so that she can move on to Corrigan, whom she plans to execute.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted for the most part, as the police that make up the primary cast are not actually useless, they are just not trained or prepared for facing the technology and pathology of "freaks" (The generic term for masked and powered criminals usually referred to in other comics as "supervillains"). When the crimes they are investigating involve "freaks," they either involve the Batman voluntarily once they realize it is out of their depth, or manage to solve the crime themselves (often with unfortunately high bodycounts, usually among the police themselves).
  • Police Brutality: Most of the GCPD sees no problem with giving civilians or criminals a "tune up" if necessary, but as the series progresses even the straight-shooters of the MCU begin to lose control more and more.
  • Police Procedural: One of the few comic-book examples examples of the genre.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Officer Tim Munroe dislikes the Major Crimes Unit on principal because of their lack of "proper" policework, and also because it is "a whole unit of holier-than-thou minorities and homos. Seriously, all the women are lesbians and all the men are affirmative-action hires."
    • Dr. Alchemy, a The Flash villain who appears in one arc, hurls sexist, racist, and homophobic remarks at almost every character he meets. There is even the implication that he does not really believe any of the hateful rhetoric he says, instead saying it all just to mess with people.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: An obscure reference; when Dr. Alchemy refers to Crispus Allen as "Detective Stowe", nobody else present gets the reference. Allen explains that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that Alchemy is calling him an 'Uncle Tom'.
  • Power Creep, Power Seep: The detectives find it extremely difficult to deal with foes of Batman, who are traditionally low on the power scale of the DC Universe. In the crossover with Infinite Crisis, Crispus Allen wonders just what hell kind of chance his family has of surviving if Captain Marvel is scared for his family.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: Detectives Romy Chandler and Marcus Driver once chased a couple of teenage white kids who speak and dress like hip-hoppers. When the kids get caught they profess their innocence and Romy points out that they assaulted an officer, which would mean time in juvie, where "you can see how much real brothers like rich white kids co-opting their culture, 'dog.'"
  • Previously on: Issues of the series began to be printed with Previously On opening pages to summarize the series and arc so far.
  • Private Detective:
    • Brian Selker was a PI hired by Marty Lipari to follow Renee Montoya and gather evidence for Lipari's lawsuit against her.
    • Slam Bradley, a classic comic character who premiered in Detective Comics #1, guest-stars in an issue to give Josie Mac information related to Catwoman.
  • Pyromaniac: Firebug, an arsonist villain, is the first villain to occupy a multi-issue arc, and also connects to another crime being investigated at the same time.
  • The Real Heroes: The series explored the implications of this trope in depth, as we see how frontline police officers deal with the costumed psychopaths that infest the city like a plague, as well as how they view the hero who fights them.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: All the high-ranking officers in the Gotham City Police Department, from Commissioner Akins down to Captain Sawyer and Lieutenant Probson. They might not like whatever it is they have to do, or the people they have to do it with, but they will listen to all the options and make a logical and realistic decision, including giving their officers a little leeway if they need to, but also snapping down hard if it is required.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Lieutenant Ron "The Probe" Probson. It is not much of a redemption, and it was redemption from being a jerk instead of being evil, but when he decides to cross a line so Captain Sawyer won't have to, he calls her by her first name (Maggie) for perhaps the first time ever and lets her "stay clean." Of course, the Joker breaks his spine in the next ten minutes.
  • The Resenter:
    • Lieutenant Ron Probson resented the fact that Captain Maggie Sawyer received the promotion to head of the MCU instad of him, although Maggie wonders if their friction instead springs from his dislike of her sexuality.
    • Sergeant Jackson "Sarge" Davies resents the fact that Lieutenant David Cornwell was brought into the MCU as the new second shift commander, reasoning that he was in line for that position since Bullock left. Not only did Cornwell get the job instead of him, but Cornwell was transferred in from the Organized Crime Bureau, not even already a member of the MCU.
  • Rogues Gallery: Of Batman's traditional Rogue's Gallery, Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, The Joker, the Mad Hatter, the Penguin, and Poison Ivy appear as villains or incidental characters. The "Dead Robin" arc contains the most comprehensive look at the usual Gotham foes, as the detectives travel through Arkham to interview all the inmates as to their involvement in the crime. They also also wind up facing The Flash and Aquaman villains on occasion.
  • Safe, Sane, and Consensual: When detective's Mac and Driver follow a suspect to Cuffs & Claws, a bondage and S&M club, the employees are friendly and casually mention a standard application for membership (they do, however, refuse entry until the police get a warrant).
  • Saying Too Much: As a result of having been working long hours and being generally tired and depressed, Josie Mac and Renee Montoya accidentally let slip to Captain Sawyer that Romy Chandler shot Batman, after which he took her weapon. The second after they say it they realize their error and the implications.
  • Scenery Censor: When Poison Ivy first appears, before she dons her usual flower-dress, her private parts are only covered by the leaves in the air.
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Connections!:
    • A much more mild version than most, but Lieutenant David Cornwell got the position of shift-commander at MCU because of his relationship to the mayor, even though Captain Sawyer and Commissioner Akins both recommended Sarge for the job.
    • Harvey Bullock still has plenty of friends on the force from his long history as a cop, and they try to cover up his frequent indiscretions for old time's sake. However, when he returns to finally deal with the case that he could never solve, not even his old connections can completely cover everything.
  • Secret Identity: When bodies begin showing up in Robin costumes, the detectives are unsure if any of them are the real Robin, particlarly since they do not know who the real Robin is. However, while they are mulling that over, Renee realizes that, if the first body they found is the real Robin, then by finding out his identity they may be able to discover Batman's identity.
  • Secret-Keeper: There is heavy implication that Josie Mac told Marcus Driver the truth about herself, although it is never explicitly confirmed.
    • Montoya's brother is a reluctant one for her lesbianism.
  • Shipper on Deck:
    • Stacy notices that Marcus Driver and Romy Chandler are starting a relationship, and also that Romy's partner Nate Patton has had a thing for her all along.
    • Marcus Driver to Josie Mac and Corrigan, before it's revealed that he's dirty. Josie insists that there was never anything between them, and a relationship never develops.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The Big Board, to Homicide: Life on the Street. They used a whiteboard, with color coded names on the board depending on the status of the case.
    • The Gotham City Police Department is ranked by the FBI as the second most corrupt department in the country, only surpassed by Hub City. Hub City is the home city of The Question.
    • While looking up information on the rifle used in several seemingly random killings throughout Gotham, Montoya suddenly gets access to a mysterious law-enforcement database she can only identify as "Oracle." Oracle is the code name and hacker persona adopted by Barbara Gordon which she uses to lead the Birds of Prey.
    • After suddenly surrendering himself to Lieutenant Probson, the Joker remarks that he "should've taken that left at Albuquerque", a frequent quote of Bugs Bunny.
    • When Montoya and Allen travel to Keystone City to interrogate a suspect for a separate case, the Keystone City police officers who meet them remark that Crispus Allen has a "good name" for a cop in Keystone City, although they do admit that Barry Allen was "as white as Barry Manilow". The arc itself was titled "Keystone Kops".
    • When Montoya and Allen meet Dr. Alchemy, a Mad Scientist with a huge ego, the scene is framed very similarly to Clarice's first meeting with Dr. Lecter in Silence of the Lambs, with the detectives interviewing him from behind a sheet of glass. Dr. Alchemy also uses the phrase "quid pro quo" several times during their conversation, in the same way that Lecter did.
    • Dr. Alchemy refers to Allen as "Detective Stowe". When the other people present do not get the reference, Allen explains that Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that Alchemy is calling him an 'Uncle Tom'.
  • Shown Their Work: The Gotham P.D. has six Glock pistols chambered in .224 Boz (a very rare round that uses a 9mm or 10mm casing necked down to use a .223 rifle projectile that is capable of penetraiting most body armor at close range). The .224 Boz's manufacturer only sells to Military and Law Enforcement and is only used in modified Glock pistols and MP5 submachine guns. When Crispus Allen is murdered, the fact that the suspect somehow fired a .223 round out of a pistol leads the detectives to realize the killer has to be a cop and used one of the GCPD's .224 Boz Glocks.
  • Spit Take: Detective Procjnow cannot believe that Tommy Burke lost over two thousand dollars at poker.
  • Split Personality: Two-Face appears as the antagonist of the "Half a Life" arc, during which he frequently switches between the "Harvey" and "Two-Face" personalities.
    Two-Face: Harvey's not here right now!!!
  • Stalker with a Crush: Two-Face might very well be the poster boy. The plan is to torment and torture Renee Montoya to such an extent that her entire life (literally her entire life) is in shambles. Her family? They hate her. Her friends? They have betrayed her. Her job? Fired. He will leave her with absolutely nothing, leaving her absolutely nowhere to go except to Two-Face. Why do this? Because he loves her, that is why. He also shows remarkable ability at Dramatically Missing the Point. He does much of the above by outing her as homosexual, and then expects her to warm up to him romantically. She even asks if he even took a look at the photos before (or after) he made them public.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Batman, when he needs to make an appearance, surpises everybody from detectives up to Commissioner Akins himself.
  • Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee: With actual coffee. Simon Lippman, a reporter, absolutely refuses to reveal who his sources are for his articles, but Josie Mac nees one bit of critical information to solve the murder case she is working on. So, instead of asking Simon for a name, she asks if his source is either a man or a woman, and tells him to keep typing at his computer if it is a woman, and to refill his coffee if it is a man. Simon thinks it over for a moment, then comments that he actually is low on coffee...
  • Suicide by Cop: When they look up Harvey Bullock to get some old casefiles, Josie Mac points out to Marcus Driver that Bullock is a man who obviously has a bullet in his future. The only question is whether he does it himself or forces somebody else to do it for him.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Emotional turmoil drives characters to despair instead of being shrugged off with a laugh, fistfights end with horribly bruised and bloody knuckles instead of clean hands (it seems minor, but damaging your hands is one of the first occurrences of a fight, especially if you hit somebody in the head, which is almost solid bone and will likely break several of your fingers), and just knowing somebody committed a crime does not mean squat without evidence.
  • Survivor's Guilt:
    • Kenny Booker was one of the two survivor's of the Gotham High School Hawks bombing, and the trauma of the incident drove him insane and to living on the streets in the years that followed. Over time, survivor's guilt caused him to blame himself for the bombing and he committed suicide.
    • After the death of Crispus Allen, his son keeps thinking the same thing over and over, even though he hates himself for it: Why not Renee instead? Renee thinks the same thing.
  • Taking the Heat: Nobody wants to admit it in the by-the-book and honest Major Crimes Unit, but the MCU needs to get some information from the Joker, and Captain Sawyer is willing to go in there and do it herself because it needs to be done. However, Lieutenant Ron "The Probe" Probson, who has never been on good terms with Maggie Sawyer, does the deed instead, since he was planning on transfering out of the department anyway, and this way Maggie gets to "stay clean."
  • Talking to the Dead: Josie Mac speaks to the grave of her father when she begins to worry that she has exposed her secret to Marcus Driver, her partner.
  • That Came Out Wrong:
    Crispus Allen: What's going on between you and Corrigan?
    Renee Montoya: I beg your pardon?
    Crispus: Not like that.
    Renee: Then like what?
  • That One Case: One arc has Harvey Bullock obsess over one of his unsolved cases. He almost commits suicide because of it, and refers to it as the case that he brought home with him.
  • There Are No Therapists: Over the course of the series, Renee Montoya descends into alcoholism and violence after her personal and professional lives are damaged by the actions of Two-Face. Crispus Allen, her partner, is the first to notice how completely her life is spiraling out of control, and demands that she seek help before she sinks too low to be saved. If she does not seek help, she can find herself a new partner, assuming she has not already ruined her career and driven away her girlfriend.
  • Throw-Away Guns: Averted. When Romy Chandler shoots Batman he takes her gun and everybody involved reacts appropriately. When Renee slips up and accidentally mentions it to Captain Sawyer, everybody is prepared for Romy to be suitably disciplined, but thankfully Robin manages to return her weapon, passing along the admonition that Romy should not shoot Batman again.
  • Trauma Conga Line:
    • Nora Fields. Has her husband killed by Mr. Freeze. Then her hand blown off by the Joker.
    • Renee Montoya. Is outed, disowned, framed for murder, falls into alcoholism, loses her partner.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Renee Montoya turns in her own badge. After the death of her partner, the escape of the murderer, and her own descent into violence and alcohol, she has simply had enough. She has nothing left to give and nothing more to hold on to. She is simply done.
  • Twofer Token Minority:
    • Renee Montoya is the child of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, Hispanic, and a lesbian.
    • Captain Maggie Sawyer and Detective Crispus Allen are both "traditional" minorities (Sawyer is gay and Crispus is black), but they are also transferred officers from the Metropolis Police Department, outsiders in the darker world of Gotham City.
  • The Unfair Sex: Detective Joely Bartlett recognizes the Double Standard here. When Romy Chandler notices that all the men are staring at Starfire she rolls her eyes and disgustedly groans "Men." Joely notices her do this and points out that Maggie and Renee, the two gay women in the series, are doing the exact same thing.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Captain Sawyer and Driver have a little bit of this to police beat reporter Simon Lippman, easily losing their temper with him and making unreasonable demands after the help he gave them in Soft Targets.
  • Urban Legend: The series continues the plot point introduced in the 1994 event Zero Hour: Crisis in Time!, which established that Batman had never gone public as a vigilante and was regarded as an urban legend by the populace at large. This influenced how the police department could legally interact with him (see Bat Signal above), as well what happened when his existence was confirmed in the War Games crossover (see Bat Family Crossover above).
  • Villain Episode: Officer Tim Munroe, a corrupt cop, narrates an issue which follows him and his partner after they kill a young runaway that witnessed them extorting money from a corner drug dealer.
  • Voice Changeling: Batman can do a very good impression of Detective Crowe, so good that Crispus Allen did not even realize he was talking to an imposter until he noticed that "Crowe" had gone out the window. The detectives later joke that Batman can probably do a good impersonation of everybody in the unit, including brand-new transfer Josie Mac.
  • Vomiting Cop: Flashbacks to the Gotham High School Hawks bombing, which saw the deaths of ten students, show several of the cops on the scene throwing up.
  • The Watson: Crispus Allen plays the Watson in the early issues, and occasionally later on. As a transferred officer from Metropolis, Allen did not have extensive experience with the "freaks" (supervillains) of Gotham City, so other characters would explain their means and methods to him, simultaneously infoming the audience as well. This particular facet of his character was dropped after a few issues, when he already had his own personal experiences with the rogues of the city, but he would later serve as the Watson on more complex issues when characters needed to highlight personal and societal points about Gotham City itself, such as the reason why Batman is important to Gotham for more than just the crimes he stops.
  • Weird Trade Union: When Allen & Montoya travel to Keystone City and learn that the Flash's villains have formed the Rogues, they are gobsmacked that the supervillains of the city have unionized.
  • We Will Not Use Photoshop in the Future: Inverted. Renee Montoya's parents receive a photo of her kissing another woman, revealing her sexuality, but her brother convinces them that it was faked, probably by a criminal looking to get revenge on Renee.
  • Where Do You Think You Are?: As Renee Montoya explains, Gotham City is not the City of Tomorrow. The department is the second most corrupt police department in the country, racism and sexism are rampant, crime is everywhere (up to and including the Mayor), and it never @#$%ing stops raining or snowing. In this town, things never get better.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Averted by Maloney's Bar and Girl, where Renee was photographed meeting Daria. It appears to just be a normal dining establishment, and its regular appearance helped obscure The Reveal until the end of the issue.
  • White Sheep: Sergeant Vincent Del Arrazio was born to a criminal family, but he does not speak to that part of his family anymore and has worked with the FBI to break the back of the mafia in Gotham and even in Sicily itself.
  • With Friends Like These...: Captain Maggie Sawyer and Lieutenant Ron Probson, heads of the first and second shifts of the MCU (Respectively), never got along, and sometimes their relationship was actively hostile. Probson resented the fact that Sawyer received the promotion to overall head of the MCU instead of him, and there are some implications that he also personally dislikes her because of her sexuality. Throughout the series they each attempt to prevent the other from becoming involved in their cases or taking the credit. They eventually form at least a grudging respect, and Probson decides to perform a morally questionable act so that Maggie will not.
  • Working the Same Case:
    • In the second arc, one detective team is following the supervillain Firebug and another is investigating the murder of a teenage babysitter. It turns out the new Firebug had murdered the girl, who was his son's babysitter and who had found his costume and weapons while snooping through his closet one night.
    • Marcus Driver explains that he was transferred to the MCU after he and Charlie Fields wound up working the same case. Charlie had already been in the MCU and Driver had been assigned to Robbery, and Charlie recommended to Commissioner Gordon that Driver be transferred after they worked together to clear that case.
  • Wretched Hive: Gotham City at its finest.
  • You Are What You Hate: The Reverend Buford Pressman was a fundamentalist preacher who hosted a regular cable show, but was secretly a member of the bondage and S&M underground.
  • You Need to Get Laid: In the issue narrated by Stacy, the MCU receptionist, she regularly slips into sexual fantasies about herself and Batman. Ultimately, even fantasy-Batman tells her that this is not healthy, and she admonishes herself that she needs to find a new boyfriend. She thinks that a friend of hers would suggest a boyfriend with batteries.
  • Your Mom:
    Detective Lowe: You're probably in a hurry to get home to your little lady or whatever you call her, huh? The night time is the right time for love and all that, right?
    Detective Montoya: That's what your mother tells me.
  • You Should Have Died Instead: After the death of Crispus Allen, his son keeps thinking the same thing over and over, even though he hates himself for it: Why not Renee instead? Renee thinks the same thing.