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"It's the freakin' Bat!"

Batman: Arkham is a Video Game series based, of course, on the Batman superhero franchise.

Each game revolves around the inmates of the infamous Arkham Asylum, the mental institution that holds (or fails to hold) all of Batman's insane foes. Asylum has The Joker seizing control of Arkham Island and freeing all the other inmates, including the Bat-rogues. City takes place a year later, with Batman caught up in a plan to imprison Arkham's inmates in a walled-off area of Gotham City that includes pivotal locations in Batman's history, including Crime Alley and Ace Chemicals. Origins is a prequel detailing how Batman first met several of his enemies, including Joker, Bane, Deadshot, and The Riddler. Knight is the supposed finale of the series, in which Batman battles Scarecrow and an alliance of villains as they attempt to burn Gotham City to the ground.


The main games are third-person Action-Adventure with a Wide-Open Sandbox component, with a heavy emphasis on movement, combat against multiple foes simultaneously, and stealth-based type of gameplay. Batman has the ability to glide and use his Grappling-Hook Pistol to scale up and down most buildings and structures. Batman also has "detective mode", a special vision that highlights objects and people of interest. Direct combat uses a "freeflow combat system" based around three main actions: Attack, Stun, and Counter, which allows Batman to take on multiple foes at the same time with ease, dancing between his enemies with powerful punches and kicks.

The simplicity of control added considerably to the popularity of the game, along with well-timed animations, and the gameplay style has now been incorporated into many other games, most notably Shadow of Mordor, Sleeping Dogs, and Metal Gear Solid V. Gadgets like Batarangs and the Batclaw are also incorporated. A stealth based "Predator mode" meanwhile revolves around performing takedowns on enemies using gadgets and the surrounding environment. A levelling system also allows you to enhance to Batman's various abilities over time, with points based highly on combos.


Rocksteady's games are filled with appreciation for the Batman franchise in all its forms, remaining loyal to the comics, yet incorporating elements from the Nolanverse, the Burtonverse, Batman: The Animated Series, and the DCAU in general. Asylum and City were written by acclaimed DCAU writer Paul Dini. Kevin Conroy reprises his role as Batman and Mark Hamill reprises his as The Joker.note 



  • Batman: Arkham Asylum: The Road to Arkham - A 2009 comic book prequel to the first game.
  • Batman: Arkham City - An 2011 interquel comic bridging the gap between Asylum and City.
  • Batman: Arkham Unhinged - A comic book miniseries following various villains before and during Arkham City, including Hugo Strange, TYGER security, and various Arkham inmates.
  • Batman: Arkham City: Lockdown - iOS and Android fighting game by NetherRealm Studios which pits Batman against numerous enemies, including Slade "Deathstroke" Wilson, in one-on-one battles.
  • Batman: Arkham City: End Game - six-issue digital comic set directly after the ending of City.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins - iOS/Android game, again by Netherrealm studios, with similar gameplay to Lockdown.
  • Batman: Arkham Origins - A prequel comic set before the events of the main game.
  • Batman: Assault on Arkham - DC Universe Animated Original Movies film set in the Arkham universe.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight - 2015 interquel comic bridging the gap between City and Knight.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight: Genesis - Another 2015 comic centering on the Arkham Knight himself.
  • Batman: Arkham Knight - 2015 novelization by comic writer Marv Wolfman.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight: The Riddler's Gambit - Prequel Novel by Alex Irvine focusing on the Riddler.
  • Batman Arkham Underworld - Clash of Clans clone based on the series, released alongside Arkham Knight.

Additionally, elements of the series have appeared in other series by WB Games. Notably, Arkham City-inspired skins for Batman, Joker, Catwoman, and Harley Quinnnote  appear in Netherrealm Studios' Injustice: Gods Among Us, and the Arkham Knight Batmobile makes a (sadly non-drivable) appearance in LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham.

Tropes in this series

  • Aborted Arc: Quite a few.
    • Finishing the Spirit of Arkham sidequest in Asylum reveals that Warden Sharp is the reincarnation of Amadeus Arkham. However, an Arkham Story in City reveals that he was just hypnotized by Dr. Strange with the help of the Mad Hatter. This was furthered in Knight, where Strange had Sharp commit suicide.
    • The Stinger for Asylum had either Bane, Scarecrow, or Killer Croc reaching for a canister of the TITAN formula, hinting that they were going to do something with it. However, in City, only Bane ever actually does anything with the TITAN formula.
    • In City, you can find a positive pregnancy test somewhere in the Steel Mill, hinting that Harley Quinn was pregnant. However, going to that same room in Harley Quinn's Revenge shows a pile of negative pregnancy tests and a box with the disclaimer that it could give false positives.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Truly one of the greatest incarnations of the Dark Knight and his rogues ever. It's actually a potluck of the best aspects of practically all his previous media incarnations: the grittiness of the Christopher Nolan movies, the gothic architecture and film noir-ish mood of the Tim Burton films, the canon of the comics, the voices and writing talent of the animated series... It's difficult to imagine an incarnation of the Dark Knight that could so easily please all of Batman's fans from any medium.
    • Batman is primarily based on his comic version, but he has the voice of the animated version and his suit actually looks like body armor with a glider cape. His Arkham Origins design is armor with hard plates along the lines of his The Dark Knight costume and in Knight, he's modeled on Ben Affleck and wears metal armor akin to his Injustice incarnation.
    • Joker — again, primarily based on his comic version, but he has Heath Ledger's suit, a face that looks a lot like Jack Nicholson (and his face and hair getting a younger look in Origins), he transforms into a muscle-bound hulk similar to Kevin Michael Richardson's Joker, they used Mark Hamill's voice and we can count Hamill's voice as a Caesar Romero reference. There's a lot of similarity there, especially in the laugh, thus completing the full spectrum of Batman Jokers. In Origins, he dresses similarly to his The Dark Knight and Joker incarnation.
    • The Clayface in this game bears Basil Karlo's name (blink-and-you-miss-it when Bats takes Harley's "party list") and now-in-continuity powers: otherwise he's an amalgamated Batman: The Animated Series Clayface (Matt Hagen) and Preston Payne. This is canon. Karlo acquired the powers of Hagen and Payne in the early 90s. What's new, however, is his desire to impersonate people. In the comics, Karlo turned to crime out of egomania. The acting ability was a trait of Hagen's in the animated series.
    • Two-Face's unscarred side is modelled on Tommy Lee Jones, and he speaks in plural here as there, yet his suit is half-black and half-white like his Batman: The Animated Series version, his scars and suit resemble Aaron Eckhart's and his Two-Face voice sounds like Richard Moll.
    • Bane uses Venom as in the comics, but in Origins, his outfit (barring the mask) is similar to Tom Hardy's.
    • While Penguin's not disfigured (or at least in the same way) as he was in Batman Returns, his clothes are similar to those worn by the Penguin there and looks a bit like Danny DeVito, albeit how the actor normally looks. He has a similar backstory of his family having a grudge against the Waynes ala The Batman. As with both, he's also savage and animalistic, but trying to pass off as refined personality instead of the actual refined personality of the comics version.
  • Adaptational Badass:
    • Arguably Batman himself! Arkham Batman is arguably the strongest Batman incarnation of all time. In the first game, Batman: Arkham Asylum, he was injected with Scarecrow's toxin multiple times and fought through it with no rest or antidote. In the second game, Batman: Arkham City, his survival of the events is all that is needed to be mentioned. He fights off essentially all of his most famous foes in a single night, most of which were taken down WHILE HE WAS AT THE BRINK OF DEATH. The only time the comics Batman has even done anything close to this was in Knightfall, and even then, he only had a fraction of the hinderances the Arkham Batman had, and only took down a fraction of the criminals Arkham Batman took down in one night, and need I remind you, comics Batman lost while Arkham Batman won. In the prequel, Batman: Arkham Origins, he defeated Lady Shiva twice, once when he was still in training; defeated Deathstroke without problems in his 2nd year; beat up Killer Croc; and Bane did the backbreaker on him....and COULDN'T break his back, unlike in the comics and Nolanverse. Really nothing more to be said.
    • In comics and most adaptations, Hugo Strange is a criminal mastermind or conman whereas in Arkham City he is a Manipulative Bastard who gets the top on all of Batman's rogues except Joker. Likewise in the comics, Hugo Strange was the first villain to learn of Batman's identity but in the original story, Strange Apparitions, it came about because he trapped Batman and unmasked him and in Prey he managed to trick Batman into revealing it, whereas here he's competent enough as a shrink to create an accurate psychological profile of Batman from a distance.
    • Calendar Man goes from a Harmless gimmick villain to being a vicious serial killer who is genuinely menacing, The Riddler's Super OCD leads him to build many a Death Trap, serving as a Wild Card who creates a network of informants in different factions and as an unofficial Knowledge Broker for Gotham's underworld. Mr. Freeze and Clayface likewise have a larger profile in these games, with Mr. Freeze providing Batman the most intricate Boss Fight of the entire series and Clayface being the Final Boss of Arkham City, providing the largest character model as well as being one of the few villains Batman uses lethal force against.
    • The Scarecrow, a minor villain in most comic events and in Batman Begins, gets a scarier costume, serves as a Level in Boss Clothing in Asylum before becoming the Big Bad of Arkham Knight where he unleashes a level of destruction that exceeds Hugo Strange and Joker and finally outs Batman's Secret Identity before the world, which no villain in any adaptation has ever done.
    • While most incarnations of Jason Todd are badasses in their own right, none of them are at the level of Arkham Knight's incarnation, who (as the titular Arkham Knight) leads an army of professional killers whom he's specifically trained to kill Batman, and manages to take over Gotham in mere hours.
    • Whilst Tim Drake in the comics is by no means un-badass, his Batman: Arkham City appearance definitely seems to be aiming for a grittier approach to the character, with a far more chiseled and muscled appearance, a buzz cut, and the idea that he takes part in cage-fighting in his spare time.
  • Adapted Out: Despite featuring Arkham Asylum, Blackgate Penitentiary, and Iron Heights Penitentiary, none of the canonical guys in charge (Jeremiah Arkham, Victor Zehrhard, and Gregory Wolfe) appear, instead replaced respectively by Quincy Sharp, Joseph Martin, and Ranken respectively.
  • After-Combat Recovery: Achieved in a somewhat roundabout way. Gaining experience points restores your health, and beating people up gives you XP. Ergo, damage taken in combat may be healed from the XP you got from fighting. Depending on how much damage you took and how much XP you got, you may or may not be restored to full health. Bosses reliably give you enough XP to heal fully, however. The reason this works for this trope is that the XP doesn't tally (and thereby the healing doesn't begin) until you finish the entire encounter, whether it's a gang of ten mooks trying to beat you down or a room full of gun-toting mooks you have to stealth-kill.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us:
    • Arkham City has a pair of Downloadable Content challenge maps that are Augmented Reality simulations of theoretical attacks on the Batcave and Wayne Manor by TYGER soldiers. Supplemental materials reveal that this exact scenario occurs during protocol 10, but Nightwing and Alfred are able to hold off the guards until the GCPD arrive.
    • In Arkham Origins, the Batcave is attacked by Bane after he deduces that Bruce Wayne is Batman, while Wayne Manor is attacked during the Action Prologue of the Cold, Cold Heart DLC.
    • In Arkham Knight, Scarecrow's forces attack Batman's clock tower and kidnap Barbara Gordon off-screen. The trope is downplayed in a later sequence where the Arkham Knight's drones attack Wayne Tower; as the Arkham Knight is Jason Todd, he knows full well that Bruce Wayne is Batman, but neither Batman nor the player are aware of this at this point in the story, and it's easy to assume that the Arkham Knight is just trying to seize control of one of the tallest buildings in Gotham City.
  • Alternate Continuity: The first game was designed to be consistent to the history presented in the comics. The second game, as well as the third prequel game, establishes several key differences. Namely that Arkham City is Batman's first encounter with Hugo Strange and Knight confirms that the three main games on the whole cover the final three years of his crime-fighting career ending with the Götterdämmerung of most of Batman's Rogues Gallery, Arkham Asylum and Batman himself.
  • Alternate History: Beginning with City, the series provides several hints that the advanced progression of technology in this version of the DC Universe has radically sped up cultural development, partially explaining why Art Deco cities and zeppelin travel lines exist alongside cellphones and unmanned attack drones — a strategically crumbled commemorative engraving on the balcony above the gates of Arkham City reveals the facility was opened at some point in the 1990's. Likewise, Modern Gotham was built on Wonder City, a Ra's Al Ghul sponsored Steampunk township filled with automatons and Lazarus-powered "green" energy. The Cyrus Pinkney side quest in Origins reveals that Gotham had functional automobiles in 1855 (possibly due to Lazarus Technology), and Deathstroke, 55 at the time of Knight, reveals that, like his comic counterpart, he fought in the Vietnam War.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Every game features DLC playable characters. Notably, each one features a different villain as one of the playable characters.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: The game grants the player some mercies that help leave informants the last man standing in a fight. Takedown attacks will not target them unless they are the only target available. Informants are also not keen on picking up weapons or shields to fight with.
  • Artifact Title: The series is referred to as "Arkham" despite leaving the asylum completely after the first game at least until the climax of Arkham Knight. Each successive title has made justifications for the title; City was based around the idea of creating a small city (an isolated part of Gotham) to serve as a wing of the Asylum, Origins makes sense as the origin story of some of the inhabitants of the Asylum (and indirectly, but significantly, the Asylum itself), and Knight has a self-titled antagonist whose back-story includes the Asylum heavily and, per Sefton Hill, is a Double Meaning title that refers to Batman himself who is progressively going insane as a result of Scarecrow gas and Joker toxin and returns to the Asylum at the finale, where his identity is exposed and his career is finished.
  • Artistic License – Biology: The idea that being rendered unconscious would consistently lower the average person's heart rate to around 30 bpm is pure fantasy. In fact, that would likely be a dangerous drop in heart activity.
  • Bedlam House: Arkham naturally.
    • From Asylum: The marketing (as evidenced in the tie-in Arkham Care website and some of the in-game PA announcements) desperately tries to make it seem like a pleasant, modern psychiatric institution. To utterly hilarious degrees; it's really something to stand in a dank, creepy and falling-apart Arkham corridor listening to a pleasant voice on a commercial witter on about how Arkham is 'the state's premier psychiatric therapeutic facility', how the famous supervillains who get locked up there 'are only half the story' and other such nonsense.
    • City: Proudly features an even worse solution: Arkham City, a walled-off slum section of Gotham where former Arkham patients and Blackgate convicts alike are thrown in and left to their own devices. Then hired mercs kill everyone in the place. How therapeutic.
  • Blocking Stops All Damage: At least the first three games use this.
  • Big Bad: The Joker is the Big Bad for the series overall but every game other than Arkham Asylum has at least one more.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's Batman's story. Do you expect anything else?
    • Arkham Origins: Batman has defeated Black Mask and his assassins, ingratiated himself with the police, and managed to make Gotham less of a hellhole, but Black Mask's fall leads to a power vacuum in Gotham's underworld that a certain clown steps in to fill, and we all know how that goes.
    • Arkham Asylum: Batman stops Joker and prevents Gotham from destruction by TITAN. But Arkham Asylum is heavily damaged, almost everybody of its staff is dead. And there's Quincy Sharp's plans about Arkham City...
    • Arkham City: Batman saves the day. Unfortunately, Talia is dead (at least for now), Catwoman's apartment got bombed by Two-Face, it's left unclear whether any of the people Joker poisoned can be savednote , and Batman actually intended to save the Joker, despite the latter's evil nature, and failed. It is also mentioned that close to a quarter of the Arkham City population were killed in the Protocol 10 attack. Some of these casualties were likely innocent political prisoners.
      • The Harley Quinn's Revenge DLC ends with Harley's plan a resounding failure, but Bruce is still even more emotionally closed-off than usual. Not even the brief prospect of losing Tim gets him to open up - he just grapples away, leaving a very concerned Gordon in his wake.
    • Arkham Knight: The Big Bad Ensemble is thwarted and the GCPD takes Gotham back, but Scarecrow has successfully made Batman suffer, and unmasked him in front of Gotham and the world. In order to keep everyone else safe, Bruce and Alfred blow up Wayne Manor with themselves inside, and possibly die. Gotham is watched over by a new Batman.
  • Bookends: Arkham City, which sees the end of the Batman/Joker feud ends with the Joker singing about him and Batman over part of the end credits. Similarly, Arkham Origins, which sees the start of the feud, ends the same way.
    • For the whole franchise in general, the finale of Arkham Knight takes place in the same location the series started: in Arkham Asylum.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • Several times in City and Knight, you're seemingly given a choice which actually has only one "correct" option, with the other leading to a Non Standard Game Over. Knight plays with this a bit in one of this choices, where it actually forces you to take the "wrong" option once before giving you the choice again, revealing the former to be a Daydream Surprise.
    • Averted in one of Knight's sidequests, which instead uses a Last-Second Ending Choice which determines Azrael's fate.
    • Also used in Origins during Anarky's side quest. He tells Batman that he has a choice: let Anarky's bombs stationed around Gotham detonate or defuse them and Bats' decision will determine what Anarky does with him. Naturally, you being Batman, you are forced to defuse the bombs to progress the quest. Letting them detonate will always lead to a Game Over.
  • Call-Forward: Joker's hair was darkened a bit in Return To Arkham remaster, so it matches the color in Knight. (Which got darker to match with Origins)
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • The female version of Copperhead made her debut as part of DC Rebirth, though there's been plans for her to debut as part of the New 52 era.
    • Detective Comics #1000 saw the Arkham Knight as a costumed identity appear, but this turned out to be a fusion of Decomposite Character and Samus Is a Girl as the comics Knight turned out to be Astrid Arkham, the daughter of Jeremiah Arkham.
  • Cardboard Prison:
    • Origins: It begins and ends with a riot at Blackgate Penitentiary. In Origins Blackgate Batman enters the prison to quell another riot.
    • Asylum: A fire at Blackgate has resulted in much of the Joker's gang being moved to the asylum. Joker stages another riot once he's brought back
    • City: The prison was made because of the damage done to the existing prisons in the last game. Black Mask managed to escape briefly; Strange added turrets to the walls in response, Strange tried to fake a breakout to justify Protocol 10, and Catwoman has the option to escape during her story arc. Doing so results in a Non Standard Game Over where Joker's gang breaks out and lays siege to Gotham.
    • Knight: Not in the main plot, but the DLC and an Easter Egg. Said Easter Egg? Setting the clock to 10/31/2015 sees Kirk Langstrom transform back into Man-Bat and escape from the GCPD. Whereas the Season of Infamy DLC's Kiler Croc mission has a brief one at Iron Heights Penitentiary, and two of the Arkham Episodes have Penguin and Riddler making failed attempts, and a third one sees Two-Face having a successful, albeit brief, one.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: The game is quite well regarded for its unique character models and NPCs several of these models as well as variations can be seen in a separate page on the game's menu. The increase in character models from Arkham Asylum to City and from there to Knight is fairly astounding to observe in terms of Sequel Escalation.
  • Crapsack World: A decent argument could be made that the games are actually darker than the main verse, and possibly even the darkest Batman adaptations ever made. To recap...
    • In Asylum; At least half of the asylum's staff is murdered by the Joker's gang, and Joker intends to do the same to the rest of Gotham. Across the game, Batman at best saves the lives of some 20-odd Arkham personnel and salvages a worse disaster had Joker's Titan plan succeeded, but in the end, Joker killed 100 people in a single night, and every body you come across only increases the sense that Batman fails more often than he succeededs.
    • In City: 121 people die during Protocol 10. Gotham apparently has a population in the millions, and given the huge crime rate and how many people Strange and Sharp were apparently throwing in, it's likely that Arkham had a population that's nearly a thousand, and when Strange states that at least 22 percent of the inmates were killed, it's clear that hundreds were murdered, with 121 being one number cited by a TYGER command, including many who likely did nothing to deserve it, and this isn't counting the political prisoners and doctors killed by the Joker, or that Batman ultimately fails to save Talia, the love of his life in the Arkhamverse, from Joker. In the end, the Joker does die, but there's no sense of triumph or catharsis.
    • In Origins: Gordon is the only honest cop we see; beyond him, the police are all thugs with uniforms who hurt people for no reason beyond wanting to amuse themselves. And this is all before the assassins showed up along with the Joker, who apparently killed most of the staff at the Gotham Royal Hotel, at least 1/4 of Black Mask's men, and likely a great deal of the staff at Blackgate when he broke out and started the riot.
    • In Knight, Scarecrow extorts the city into evacuating the city population, but it's definitely likely that several remained behind in the city since the evacuation took place in 24 hours. Furthermore, Scarecrow successfully unleashes a chemical weapon on a city population, and while that was countered by Poison Ivy's World-Healing Wave, it's likely that it would have aftereffects for years. Furthermore, Batman ends up having his identity exposed by Scarecrow, a defeat much worse than anything he has experienced in any other comic, animated, and film adaptation. The ending leaves it ambiguous if Bruce survives, but his classic career as Batman is finished, and while most of his villains seem incapacitated at the end of the campaign, others like Two-Face and Black Mask continue to torment Gotham afterwards, as evidenced by the DLC episodes. That's not even getting into the implication that Lazarus Pit chemicals leaking into the city water system for years is the actual reason Gotham has such a high rate of mental illness and crime (and this includes Batman).
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
  • Deconstruction: Due to being a kind of amalgamation of a lot of different Batman universes, the Arkham franchise really takes a look at some of the problems of the Batman mythos. The series takes a good look at a lot of the Batman's mental problems (trust issues, guilt over his parents, unwillingness to work together with others unless it's mandatory, pride and arrogance, and obsession with crimefighting), series tropes like Joker Immunity, ideas like the relationship between Batman and his rogues gallery and, in the end, if all this destruction and suffering really is doing any good for Gotham.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation:
    • While his eyesight was fine prior to Knight and VR, in those two games, Alfred takes after Michael Gough and Alan Napier's incarnations in needing to wear glasses.
    • While fine during Origins and Blackgate, the Penguin during the events of City, Knight, and VR features a vent in his neck from smoking and a beer bottle jammed into his left eye in place of his traditional monocle. Assault on Arkham, an interquel film, shows that the beer bottle happened at some point before Asylum, though the lack of the vents suggested that happened between Assault and City.
    • The Calendar Man is an Evil Cripple, his right leg being shorter than his left and wearing a brace and elevated shoe to compensate.
    • Harley Quinn's DLC episode in Knight shows her hearing voices in her head.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Many villains fit this trope.
    • In "City": The Joker's boss fight happens just before Batman must take on the Big Bad—Hugo Strange. But after Batman defeats Strange, it's quickly revealed he was the puppet of Ra's Al Ghul, who then commits suicide minutes later. Batman then has to save Talia from The Joker, who appears to be the game's real Big Bad. But after rescuing Talia, who kills The Joker, the true final boss is revealed in a major plot twist: Clayface was employed by The Joker to impersonate him at various points in the game, and the Joker Talia stabbed was merely a decoy Joker, who transforms back into Clayface.
    • In "Origins": Black Mask is advertised and set up as the Big Bad, only for a plot twist about a quarter way through the game to reveal that The Joker is the true villain, having kidnapped Black Mask days earlier and taken over his operation.
    • Subverted somewhat in Knight. Despite being billed as the main villain, Batman tracks down and attacks Scarecrow first, attempting to get rid of him as the most dangerous threat. This backfires, and after being exposed to fear gas, Hallucination!Joker plagues Batman for the rest of the game as an Enemy Within. Arkham Knight also appears to be a villain, possibly in a Big Bad Duumvirate with Scarecrow. While the Knight does have significant plot presence, Scarecrow and Hallucination!Joker fill in the roles as Big Bad, with the Knight filling in a sort of Dragon-in-Chief role.
  • Easter Egg: The Arkham games are famous for their incredibly subtle and clever Easter Eggs; some of them are incorporated into Riddler trophies, others simply visual details there for the fans to pick up, but its most famous ones are those that nobody noticed until the developers revealed it. In Arkham Asylum, there was a secret room announcing the Arkham City plan that nobody found until it was outed a year later by the developers; in Arkham City, two years after the game's release, it was revealed (in a video some suspected was also released by the developers, on a YouTube channel with a cryptic pseudonym) that there was a secret conversation with Calendar Man referencing Rocksteady and Arkham Knight.
  • End of an Age: Each Batman game (except of course Origins) marks the passing of a certain iconic feature of the Batman mythos:
    • Batman: Arkham Asylum deals with the end of the Asylum which nearly gets totally destroyed in the course of the game's events. Likewise Blackgate Penitentiary was burned down before the game began. This destruction leads to a huge problem for the city on containing the criminal threat calling for a radical solution that was already in the works in the secret room of Quincy sharp.
    • Batman: Arkham City ends with the death of the Joker, bringing his deadly rivalry with Batman to a close, finally doing away with his Joker Immunity. Likewise Arkham City, which was formerly the dilapidated area of Old Gotham — Monarch Theatre, Crime Alley, Harvey Dent's old office, Penguin's ancestral museum — gets converted into a prison and becomes a ghost town by the end of the game.
    • Batman: Arkham Knight ends with Batman unmasked before the world by Scarecrow. While the Golden Ending leaves it ambiguous if Batman died or not, his classic career as a superhero is finished. His allies move on and Gordon becomes the New Mayor.
  • Enemy Chatter: All games feature extensive dialogue between the many evil henchmen (and other characters); ranging from various cocky taunts and threats directed at Batman during combat and stealth segments, discussions about other characters (especially Batman and his Rogues Gallery), commentary about various plot events happening throughout the game, funny anecdotes about their personal lives, creepy anecdotes about horrific crimes they've committed or witnessed, and other subjects.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: Each game takes place over the course of a single night. This isn't too bad if you just play through the main plot, but it starts getting ridiculous as you tackle the sidequests and try to find all the collectibles (which will all take far more than just one night's worth of real-world time to complete).
  • Fingerprinting Air: The Detective Scanner lets Batman pick up on available clues in the environment to solve past crimes and hunt down criminals. While initially somewhat far-fetched (one prompt in Asylum has the player form a trail via detecting traces of alcohol in the air), Origins' refines the process — the cowl's trackers are still extremely sensitive, but the clues themselves are more realistic and believable (like scanning impact points to identify a bullet's trajectory and origin of fire), and the crime scene reconstructions can be interacted with to highlight overlooked objects of interest. Knight takes it one step further by adding a deep tissue scanner, meaning Batman can analyze the skin, muscle and bone layers of corpses for possible abnormalities.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: All four games illustrate this in Joker and Batman's relationship. Starting early in Batman: Arkham Asylum with Joker: "Tell me Bats, what are you really scared of? Failing to save this cesspool of a city? Not finding the Commissioner in time? Me, in a thong?!" and that the premise of the whole night was a party Joker threw for Batman. Then continuing in Batman: Arkham City with the increasing phone calls from Joker to Batman, the final death scene with Batman carrying Joker out in his arms, and Joker's swan song to Batman. Given their beginnings in Batman: Arkham Origins when Joker's obsession with Batman begins, including his Red Hood story and his mention of "meeting someone very special earlier tonight", and another song for Batman during the credits. And finally culminating in Batman: Arkham Knight with Hallucination!Joker mentioning over and over again being inside of Batman, the heavy indicators that Joker's death affected him so much that he could never return to normal (not even Talia's death is mentioned that much), and the serenade number Hallucination!Joker performed with a little help from Johnny Charisma. Catwoman even makes a dig at the relationship in Knight, and how Batman should stop mourning him and "find new maniacs". The whole series can read like an overall story of Batman and Joker's relationship.
  • Game of the Year Edition: The main trilogy of the Arkham series has received a Game of the Year Edition on consoles and PC (Arkham Knight however has some DLC that are only exclusive to the PlayStation 4 version).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: You can do a lot of legitimately un-Batman-like things in this like literally yanking people off rooftops with your grapple. It's almost scary to the levels of Video Game Cruelty Potential that is possible when you get to control the Dark Knight and decide not to abide by his code. But in-canon Batman is the same as he ever is so no one ever died by his hands.
  • Genre-Busting: Has elements of stealth, beat-em-up, RPG, survival horror, and Metroidvania, so it's hard to classify. The third game's multiplayer adds Third-Person Shooter elements; the fourth adds driving and vehicular combat sections.
  • Groin Attack: A common takedown move for Batman involves punching thugs in the pelvic ring. Which ends up looking like this trope.
  • Hate Sink: The Riddler. Unlike most of the villains, who fall under the Love to Hate category to most fans, Riddler is a condescending, conceited Insufferable Genius that makes Sheldon Cooper look modest and both in-universe characters and many fans of the game absolutely despise him.
  • Have a Nice Death: Whenever the player dies, they get a brief scene of the antagonist they were dealing with taunting them.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: In Combat Mode, it is very possible for Batman to take on dozens of heavily armed enemies without using any gadgets. Batarangs included.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: City had shades of this, with Hugo Strange and Ra's al Ghul's plotline being wrapped up in a single cutscene and the Joker having by far the most screentime. Origins is full bore; despite hyping Black Mask up as the Big Bad, it was Joker the entire time. Although, an observant player can notice the various hints dropped from the start of the game that this is the case. In Knight, despite Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight being a Big Bad Duumvirate, Joker once again plays the role of a Greater-Scope Villain, whose death not only instigates the Villain Team-Up but keeps reappearing as a hallucination to Batman.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: Origins takes place between Christmas Eve and Christmas morning; the DLC picks things up a week later on New Year's Eve. Knight takes place on Halloween night with a DLC set on a much earlier Valentine's Day.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: This is present in all of the games to an extent, but is really noticeable in Asylum and City in particular. This is more of a Justified Trope in Origins and Knight, where Batman mostly goes up against cops and the Arkham Knight's militia respectively. Since these enemies are naturally professionally trained with firearms and would be much better shots, you'd expect to have a harder time dodging them. However, armed thugs in the games seem unnaturally accurate with guns. Batman can dive like a maniac, swing from vantage points like a drug-fueled monkey, inch towards the edge of a building so that only his cowl's ears are visible and inmates will nail him with every shot as he moves. It's undoubtably there to encourage players to take out armed opponents with stealth rather than brute force, but it's incredibly difficult to believe how a bunch of two-bit thugs could so easily keep a bead on the Bat with such consistency.
  • Informed Ability: Two sets of people get hit with this in City: the League of Assassins' warriors and Hugo Strange's TYGER guards. Each member of the League is described as being able to go up against 100 men in combat and win. Interacting with the display case in Penguin's lair that has a ninja in it says that she only managed to kill 8 of Penguin's goons before they held her down and beat her unconscious, casting serious doubt on this claim. Even in gameplay, while they are harder to fight than the thugs, they aren't much of a threat to Batman if you're good at countering. As for the TYGER guards, they are specifically noted to have been trained to fight against Batman efficiently. All this amounts to is that their heart rates never go beyond "Nervous" in combat and gameplay-wise, they aren't really any smarter or more dangerous than the rest of the enemies you face.
  • Informed Attribute: In the Arkhamverse, Talia al Ghul is established as Batman's true love. She's the one he's willing to shelve his main quest in Arkham City to save from Joker. He mourns her in a brief moment in Arkham Knight and many characters and Ra Al Ghul himself call her the "love of his life". The problem is the only real interaction the two have on-screen is when Batman is trying to coerce her into taking him to the nearest Lazarus Pit by leading her on to think he'll sign up to be Ra's heir. She's stated to have the same peace-by-mass-murder philosophy as Ra's and more than once, Barbara questions what Bruce sees in her.
  • Intercom Villainy: The villains throughout the series are primarily heard over public intercoms played throughout buildings and neighborhoods they've hijacked. They give their minions advice on how to find Batman, complain about their performances, and threaten them in ways appropriate to their characters. This especially applies to the Riddler, who hacks into Batman's radio channels in every game just to taunt him.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Averted at low fear levels and Inverted at high fear levels. At the beginning of a stealth segment, the guards know that Batman is around somewhere, so they have the presence of mind to check anything out of the ordinary. Once they get panicky enough, they'll start freaking out at the slightest noise in fear that it might be Batman, whether or not it is.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Batman usual MO. Anouncing there will be pain and giving unbearable beatings to lower mooks, until he gets the name of someone else above the chain of command or of a place.
    Batman: You want teeth. I want answers!
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Calendar Man's secret conversation in Arkham City. To access it, you need to set the game's clock to December 13, 2004 (the date of Rocksteady's founding):
    Calendar Man: Do you remember my early work? Flawed, but it showed promise. Just like you. As your skills improved, I perfected mine. Starting with seasons, and moving through the weeks, I became stronger. My work more elaborate. Days were the secret, Batman. And the end of days is coming. I was there at your beginning and I will be there at your end."
    • In an amazing Brick Joke, Calendar Man can be glimpsed in the crowd standing outside Wayne Manor as it blows up in the Golden Ending of Arkham Knight.
  • Killed Off for Real: Hugo Strange, Talia al Ghul, The Joker, Poison Ivy, Killer Moth, Black Mask, Mr Freeze & his wife, Nora, and either Ra's al Ghul, or Nyssa Raatko (depending on what choice you made)
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The first game had relatively few characters involved in the main plot, but had cameos, references and bios of tons of Batman villains. Played completely straight in the sequels, which manage to give actual screen time to a lot these characters, both through the main story and side-quests.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Downplayed. The replayable predator challenges are easily beatable with enough skill, as long as the random guard patterns allow so. The maps usually allow at least one medal to be easily obtainable before the guards are alerted, but once they are, you may end up waiting several minutes to get the other medals.
  • Mook Horror Show: When using stealth ("Predator Mode"), you can not only use gadgets to spook enemies in a variety of ways, but you can use detective mode to see their steadily increasing heartbeat as you pick them off one by one.
  • Mushroom Samba: Once per game, Batman will be drugged somehow and experience surreal and creepy hallucinations.
    • Asylum has the famous Scarecrow sequences.
    • In City, Batman gets poisoned by Joker and suffers a few hallucinations as a result. The same thing happens when Batman drinks some from a Lazarus Pit. Finally, a side quest has the Mad Hatter try to take over Batman's mind, taking him to a bizarre dreamscape.
    • In Origins, Copperhead uses a hallucinatory poison and the Mad Hatter returns for a repeat performance. In addition, we get to see a few scenes from Joker's insane perspective.
    • In Origins: Blackgate, Catwoman temporarily blinds Batman with a flashbang during the final boss battle, resulting in a semi-hallucinogenic sequence where he tries to predict incoming attacks using only sound.
    • Way too many to count in Knight.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Gotham's similarity to New York City has never been more apparent. Let's see: there's Miagani Island (Manhattan; it's even named after the native American tribe that used to live there), Grand Avenue (Times Square), the Lady of Gotham (Statue of Liberty), Amusement Mile (Coney Island)... Gotham North and South seem to be Long Island, but with some bits of Manhattan, like a Bowery and Diamond District).
  • No Flow in CGI: Averted; Batman's cape is very fluid and reacts realistically to his movements and the surrounding environment. In Arkham Asylum, at least, a member of the development team spent an entire year working solely on Batman's cape to get it just right.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Some of the things Batman can do like shooting people in the head with the Batmobile's cannon (which apparently is "non-lethal" but even a rubber bullet traveling at that velocity would probably cave a guy's head in; those are meant to be shot center-mass) or taking a car door and slamming it on a thug's neck after knocking him down don't seem very non-lethal but it's Batman so they're fine.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Arkham games inflict long-term changes and damages in a manner that the comics continuity does not. Joker dies in City and stays dead, as does Hugo Strange, Ra's (he gets better, but for how long, it's up to you) and Talia. Batman gets outed as Bruce Wayne in Arkham Knight and goes underground.
  • Notice This: Only in Detective Mode, though, since it highlights objects of interest.
  • Obligatory Swearing: There's very little blood and no sex in the game. Characters like Killer Croc are characterised as swearing almost habitually.
  • Prison Riot: A Once an Episode occurrence. Every game features a prison on the verge of mass outbreak, with the exception of Origins, where the mass outbreak is actually what kickstarts the plot.
  • Ret-Canon: Bane's appearance in Asylum and City initially inspired his redesign in The New 52, though it's since been revised to add a vest and cargo pants.
  • Retcon: Some of the original info from Asylum character bios has been overwritten later in the series by both WB Montreal and Rocksteady.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: One of the series' selling points is that players get the opportunity to meet and beat up Batman's rogues.
  • Run the Gauntlet: The entire series is a glorious invocation of this trope. Every game has tons of famous villains from Batman's Rouges Gallery, and a big part of the enjoyment of the series is seeing how each one of them is represented. You'll be taking down a bunch of them throughout the game, either relegated to side content or as part of the main plot as Arc Villains. Because the Arkham games are an Ultimate Universe, some of the fun is seeing how elements from The Animated Series, the Tim Burton films, the Christopher Nolan films, and the comics all blend together for each villain.
  • Scenery Porn: Oh yes. City takes it further because, well, it's out in the open city, and Origins as well, being even more of the city (along with some Scenery Gorn in the Firefly sequence). Finally, Knight takes things Up to Eleven as one of the most detailed and beautiful (not to mention somewhat destructible, thanks to the Batmobile) environments on the current generation of consoles.
  • Schizo Tech: CRT televisions, cigarette vending machines, and magnetic audio tape all exist alongside LCD monitors, electronic restraint collars, and advanced broadcast encryption technology. In Origins, there are even advertisements for trans-Atlantic zeppelin flights, while Batman spends most of the game flying around in a supersonic jet.
  • Scoring Points: Each game features challenge maps where you can fight a couple waves of enemy (generally four) and get points based on what your highest combo was and the variety of moves you used. If you get high enough points, you can also earn up to three medals, which you need for 100% completion. Of all the bonuses to your points, the biggest is the Flawless Freeflow bonus, which you get for completing a round in a single combo without taking damage.
  • Serial Escalation: Each game ups both the playable environment and the stakes involved.
    • In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Arkham Island constitutes the playable area and Batman has to both recapture all the escaped inmates and stop the Joker from unleashing an army of TITAN soldiers on the city.
    • In Batman: Arkham City, the walled super-prison of Arkham City makes up the playable area and Batman has to both stop the Joker from poisoning the city with his infected blood and prevent Hugo Strange from enacting Protocol 10.
    • In Batman: Arkham Origins, Old Gotham and a few more bits constitute the playable area, and this time Batman is up against eight of the world's deadliest assassins, as well as hundreds of escaped criminals and mercenaries loose on the streets, all looking to collect the huge bounty on Batman's head and not afraid to kill innocents and destroy property to draw him out.
    • In Batman: Arkham Knight, the three islands of downtown Gotham make up the playable area and Batman is up against the greatest odds yet, with Scarecrow developed a new fear toxin which he plans to disperse over the entire Eastern Seaboard, the Arkham Knight having conquered the city with his huge militia army, and the Joker threatening to take over Batman's mind from beyond the grave.
  • Shows Damage: In you're using the default costume Batman can and will show injuries and battle damage over the course of the games. Likewise in both City and Knight, Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing's default costumes will also show battle damage.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Batman-related parts of the DCAU, especially because its writer wrote for the first two games and several of its voice actors appear in the series, either reprising their roles or taking on new ones.
  • Urban Ruins:
    • Arkham City's titular city is a rotting, sequestered part of Gotham that has been fractured by flooding, earthquakes and bombings from the various gangs imprisoned in the City. The entire place is littered with starving criminals fighting over limited food drops. This is especially prominent after Protocol 10 removes a fifth of the population and sets some of the city's landmarks aflame.
    • Arkham Knight sees the entirety of Gotham City evacuated after a terrorist threat from the Scarecrow, leaving Batman's Rogues Gallery to burn the fire stations, prey on remaining civilians and tear apart Gotham's banks. Not to mention the army of tanks and drones the Arkham Knight sets loose. This is especially prominent after the Scarecrow releases the Cloudburst, blanketing the city streets in Fear gas.
  • Utility Weapon: Most weapons/gadgets have three functions: one in melee combat, one in the stealth sections, and one for exploration (although the utility and stealth functions frequently overlap). The main exception for a long time was the Cryptographic Sequencer — it was mainly used as a "have you beat the goons yet?" gate, though got some use in decoding and pinpointing radio transmissions from City onwards, and received a full secondary function in Knight (hacking or temporarily shutting down enemy devices) for Predator challenges.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Granted, it's criminals that Batman's dealing with, but he can be quite the dirty combatant if he feels like it. He can air-launch The Penguin as Bruce Wayne at the start of City. He can fire endless electrical charges at hapless mooks just for the fun of it (Just don't do this to mooks with guns.) He can do a similar thing with smoke bombs (though this doesn't hurt them; just confuses them. Again, don't do this against mooks with guns unless you're at a safe distance.)
  • Video Game Perversity Potential:
    • The possibility of zooming and observing, from "interesting" angles, female characters such as Harley Quinn and Catwoman.
    • Went Up to Eleven when Knight gave players photo mode, and three playable well-shaped female characters. Default Selina and Harley have cleveage, and alternate outfits are tighter, especially from the back. For whatever reason, even Batgirl's armor tightens up behind her cape.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Batman Arkham, Batman Arkham Series


Batman VS The Arkham Knight

While battling against one another, Batman tries to reason with The Arkham Knight, who also happens to be his former protege, Jason Todd. However, Jason rebukes every statement with mixed shouts of anger, desperation, and sadness. By the end, he mournfully laments about Batman leaving him behind to die, which the latter deeply regrets.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / AnguishedOutburst

Media sources:

Main / AnguishedOutburst