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YMMV / The Dark Knight

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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Lampshaded by the Joker when he tells Harvey that society is conditioned to feel less shock over the deaths of criminals and soldiers than they are over politicians or random people.
    • Lampshaded again in regards to the prisoners on the ferry. Several innocent people point out that since they chose to commit crimes their lives are inherently worth less than the lives of law-abiding citizens. The point that some of them may have been framed or committed crimes undeserving of death is never raised, just that at least one of them is repentant enough to do the noble thing.
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  • Accidental Aesop: As noted under What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?, the climax of the film can be read as a big analogy towards the Patriot Act, which this movie unintentionally justifies - without the massive sonar device Batman creates towards the end of the film, Batman wouldn't have been able to figure out the Joker's location, final plan, or his Disguised Hostage Gambit fast enough to prevent any deaths.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • The ending gets a lot of this from fans. Batman kills Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the act of saving Gordon's son after going to great lengths to not kill the Joker just to prove the Joker couldn't corrupt him etc., which on the surface makes him look a tad hypocritical, especially considering he left Ra's Al Ghul to die at the end of Batman Begins. Anyway, the great debate pivots on whether or not Batman went in expecting and intending to kill the crazed Dent if necessary or if he simply meant to overpower Dent and lost control in the scuffle, thus making Dent's death an accident.
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    • The Joker:
      • Did Joker really not have a plan or was he lying to enhance his mystique? Depends on whether or not you consider a prank to be a plan.
      • One fan theory about the Joker's origin is that he is a Shell-Shocked Veteran from one of the United States' conflicts in the Middle East. Being an ex-soldier would explain his familiarity with guns and explosives, including more military grade weapons like the RPG he uses during the truck chase scene. Despite his claims that he isn't a "guy with a plan", there's no denying the Joker executes his operations with extreme efficiency and tactical ability, like his elaborate and borderline-perfect bank heist or his escape from jail. He also demonstrated knowledge of honor guard ceremonies during the attack on Commissioner Loeb's funeral. Finally, his strong belief in anarchy and chaos, and hatred of authority and "schemers", is further evidence that he suffered a Heroic BSoD at some point in the past over being a soldier in a geopolitical squabble. This possible origin also fits in nicely with the movie's post-9/11 world view, which interpreted the Joker as more of a terrorist than a criminal or mobster, and featured electronic surveillance and panic over the Joker's actions as key plot points. Full article here.
      • It's surprisingly easy to interpret the Joker as a Vigilante Man who hates criminals just as much as Batman, but doesn't have any qualms about murdering them. A pretty large chunk of his actions end up directly or indirectly aiding Batman in his crusade against crime: he pulls off daring robberies against Mob-controlled banks, he swindles the Mob out of millions of dollars, he assassinates the Gotham Police Department's corrupt and incompetent Commissioner (allowing the idealistic and ruthlessly efficient Jim Gordon to take the job), and he personally murders Lau, Gambol and the Chechen—three of the city’s most powerful gangsters. Even his most heinous act—turning Harvey Dent into the villainous Two-Face—just results in Dent going on a murderous rampage against corrupt police officers. For all his evil actions, he does far more damage to Gotham's criminal underworld than Batman ever did.
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    • The Burmese bandit in Alfred's story. The clear interpretation that we're supposed to walk away with is that he, like the Joker, commits crime for sport, because he throws the jewels he stole away. However, another possible interpretation is that he was opposed to the Burmese government uniting the local tribes, or even the British government's intervention aiding them in the matter—the jewels were meant to function as a bribe for the tribal leaders. As such, he would have no actual interest in the gems themselves, but would be stealing them for political motivations.
    • Two-Face contemplates turning his gun on himself before making an attempt on Gordon's son, but feels no joy when the coin toss favours his life. In all likelihood he may have been hoping that suicide would keep him from murdering an innocent child.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: Idolatrizing figures is a mistake. People need to take responsibility as a community and as a society to improve their lifes. Not to depend of the actions of certain individuals. Even if good, individuals are people, with their defects and their flaws. There are no perfect figures, and their images won't stay perfect. A society can't depend of the image of an individual to keep it's hope for a better future.
    • Contrasting Batman and Dent. Batman in a way upholds his flaws (he is a vigilante), and knows he isn't perfect. He is the one who remains true to his ideals. Dent is seen as perfect by everyone, and he is s good person...but he has flaws. Sadly, they explode in the worst possible way.
  • Award Snub: This film appeared on more critics' top ten lists than any other film of 2008 except WALL•E, and more critics named it "best film of 2008" than anything else released that year. None of this was enough to overwhelm the Comic Book Movie ghetto; it was not nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Neither was WALL•E, as it happens. But it's believed that the resulting outcry over those two snubs is at least partly responsible for the Academy deciding to nominate ten movies for Best Picture in 2010 instead of the traditional five. On that note, while Heath Ledger did a fantastic job as the Joker and very much deserved his Best Supporting Actor award, it's hard to deny Aaron Eckhart had a heart-wrenching performance as Harvey Dent.
  • Awesome Music: The Joker's theme. Made even more impressive in that it consists of merely *two notes* used in many different ways.
  • Complete Monster: The Joker is a self-described "agent of chaos" out to give Gotham a "better class of criminal". Introduced by killing each of his goons after a bank robbery, the Joker proceeds to exploit the mob's desire to be rid of Batman, casually murdering henchmen, politicians and police to force Batman to unmask himself. He also makes the lawyer attempting to unmask Batman a target; ties a crime boss to a pile of money which he then burns; kills a gangster by making a pencil disappear...eraser-end first; blows up a hospital; leads police into a trap where they will shoot innocent civilians before getting killed by his men; attempts a Prisoner's Dilemma scenario to get a boatload of civilians and prisoners to blow each other up; and, primarily by manipulating a Sadistic Choice leading to Rachel Dawes's death, and then by mind raping an injured Harvey Dent in the hospital, is the driving force behind his transformation into Two-Face. The Joker's main motivation is fun, but he also wants to show that anyone and everyone can and will become a monster if pushed far enough, or even if just given the chance. He's proven wrong, but doesn't care, just giving an annoyed shrug and attempting to blow the two boats sky high with his own detonator.
  • Creepy Awesome: The Joker, especially when he's telling people how he got his scars while holding them at knifepoint. There's also the video where he kidnaps a Batman impersonator, proving that he's not some run-of-the-mill criminal that any random vigilante can stop.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Joker spends the whole movie dancing back and forth across this line while laughing maniacally, amused by the fact you think there's a line in the first place.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The Joker, largely due to Ledger's rendition of him as an anti-authoritarian anarchist who wants to watch the world burn, and the fact that some of his speeches taken out of context (especially his speech to Harvey Dent in the hospital) actually makes sense in terms of its argument and rhetoric. Unlike the other versions of Joker (Jack Nicholson, Jared Leto, and Mark Hamill), he doesn't have the tendency of romantic fixation and Domestic Abuse of women and children that always kept fans from entirely rooting for Joker.
  • Ending Fatigue: At a little over two and a half hours, The Dark Knight out wears some viewers in the final third. This is partly due to the Harvey Dent/Two-Face subplot being wrapped up after the defeat of the Joker in a sequence that is dialogue-driven as opposed to the action in the Joker's.
    • On first viewing, it’s easy for someone to assume that the movie is winding down once the Joker is caught after the climatic convoy attack only to realize there’s still an hour of movie left and we’ve only gotten started.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The black guy on the ferry. He's an unnamed character that is on the screen for less than 1/20 of the movie, yet his scene is one of the most remembered ones. It doesn't hurt that the character is played by Tommy Lister.
    • Brian Douglas, the gun wielding Heroic Wannabe whose part of a Batman inspired Vigilante Militia. In his two scenes he manages to both get some fairly impressive moments and convey how unprepared the average person is to try and act like Batman.
  • Epileptic Trees: The film's refusal to give Joker a definite origin has not stopped people to speculate. One theory that has become popular is the notion that Heath Ledger's Joker is in fact a Shell-Shocked Veteran from the Iraq War. This theory was openly floated in the Dark Knight manual while still maintaining Multiple-Choice Past. Other fan sites have also discussed this theory.
  • Even Better Sequel: Batman Begins is widely seen as a great reboot to the Batman film franchise. But the quality of The Dark Knight, with its writing and Heath Ledger's Oscar-winning performance as The Joker means The Dark Knight is widely seen as superior, and it also ended up being one of the highest-grossing films of all time as well as one of the most critically acclaimed superhero movies of all time.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Joker and Two-Face, but especially the Joker.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • Due to the insane popularity of Heath Ledger's Joker, die-hard fans of Mark Hamill's Joker from the DC Animated Universe aren't as kind on Ledger. The same can be said for die-hard fans of Jack Nicholson's take on the Joker which still remains popular in the hearts of many old school fans and aren't kind to the rabid fans of Ledger.
    • With fans of The Godfather after The Dark Knight knocked it off the top of the IMDB top 250. Both fanbases went to the other films pages and 1-starred it either to keep the other from regaining the top spot or to regain it, and also attacking the films on their message boards. Ironically, the 1-starring war between Batman and Godfather fanboys allowed The Shawshank Redemption to sneak into the top spot, where it has remained to date.
  • Foe Yay:
    • The Joker perversely stalking Rachel is somewhat of this, and creepy.
    • Not to mention Batman and Joker, though a little less than usual. "You...complete me."
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • While Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is still legendary in its own right, some have pointed out that it inspired a slew of subpar villains in later superhero movies. The off-kilter mannerism and ambiguous motivations in Ledger's Joker worked because the is meant to be a force-of-nature villain who represents the violent, chaotic impulses of humanity. Conversely, several villains in Marvel and DC movies only copied the odd mannerisms and aimless motivations even though these traits don't work at all for these characters. Most notably, Jesse Eisenberg's performance as Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was critically-panned as a shallow attempt at recreating Heath Ledger's Joker, which didn't work for a character who is supposed to be a brilliant and cunning Corrupt Corporate Executive.
    • The runaway success of TDK was in large part due to its grittiness and lack of camp, and that sort of tone is very well-suited to a character like Batman. Unfortunately, for several years Warner Bros. only learned the first half of that lesson, and many of their later films would be much less well-received by critics and general audiences due to being Darker and Edgier in the hopes of copying this movie's formula, without regard to whether that approach actually worked for the characters in question or not. Once again, Superman is considered to have suffered from this the worst by a fair margin, with the harshest criticisms of the films of the DC Extended Universe being that Supes is barely recognizable as the character, as the films attempt to ape the tone of this one.
    • Relatedly, while the film was a huge success in part due to its tone compared to previous superhero films (and especially older Batman films), it also worked largely because it was an intensely focused character study with a lot to say about the two men in the center. The DCEU films are often criticized for aping the film's "tone", but without the intense character focus to help throw the tone into relief and make it clear why these men are the way they are, Batman can just come across as a crazy rich man and the films lack any kind of message or thoughtfulness.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Hong Kong actor Edison Chen, the man you can hear asking Lucius to hand over his mobile phone in the beginning of the Hong Kong scenes. Chen had just been involved in a Real Life scandal, where the people repairing his laptop went the extra mile to upload his Porn Stash to the internet - including nude photos of several of his Production Posse. The ending of The Dark Knight involves a city-wide breach of privacy...
    • Also, Alfred's early throwaway line to Harvey Dent takes on a much different meaning after Rachel's death. "You've known her her whole life, haven't you?" "Not yet." Ouch.
    • Joker's "I think you and I are destined to do this forever..." after Batman beats him.
    • One of Alfred's famous lines (mentioned in the Hilarious in Hindsight trope) later became a metaphor to Zack Snyder somehow ruining DC's reputation in the film industry due to his direction in two of his movies.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • The conversation between Harvey and Rachel in the fancy restaurant takes on a completely different meaning if you know your Roman history. Though no one in the scene says this outright, the figure in the Roman government that Harvey was referring to was known as a "dictator" (he was saying, in essence, "Maybe Gotham needs a dictator").
    • Also a bit of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment, if you remember what happened to Caesar after he assumed dictatorial powers. Caesar went above the law and was killed, and Dent ...
    • The scene with the two boats being forced to decide to destroy each other is an example of the Prisoner's Dilemma. One of the boats is filled with actual prisoners (prison inmates, that is), which becomes a dilemma because the terrified citizens immediately assume that the prisoners—being violent criminals—will kill them if they don't kill them first.
    • The Lamborghini Bruce Wayne drives is a Murciélago, which means Bat. So even when he's not in the suit, Wayne is still driving a Bat-mobile.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The posters featuring The Joker with "Why so serious?" written in blood became extremely eerie after Heath Ledger's sudden death.
    • "Madness, as you know, is like gravity; all it takes is a little push" became this several years later when it really did happen to someone in a different continuity (though courtesy of a different villain).
    • The Joker's loftier or more abstract threats ("If I say that one ole little mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!" "When the chips are down, these 'civilized' people? They'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster, I'm just ahead of the curve.") all basically come to pass in The Dark Knight Rises. For that matter, Bane's ultimatum regarding the nuclear detonator is, essentially, a scaled up version of the boat scene (and, like with the boat scene, control ultimately lays with him).
    • A meta one: remember Joker's rant about how nobody cares about anything when things are going according to plan, but when someone shakes that up people lose their minds? A stuntman - Conway Wickliffe - died while filming the movie. Heath Ledger (the Joker himself) died some time after. Conway's death is a footnote, as people seem to "accept" that sometimes stuntmen will die when a movie's being filmed. Ledger's death is widely remembered, discussed, and sometimes mis-attributed to the movie. He had wrapped and was filming something else by the time he died. But a lead actor with a lot of buzz isn't "supposed" to die. The disparity makes this an unsettling case of Life Imitates Art.
    • The double-date between Bruce, a Russian ballerina, Harvey and Rachel leads to talk of authoritarianism being a sensible choice when things get out of hand. In The Dark Knight Rises we find out that a Gotham without Batman immediately turned to authoritarian measures to keep the crime rate down.
    • The line "You either die a hero, or lived to see yourself become the villain": The latter became the fate for Batman's Earth-99 counterpart.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Alfred tells Bruce "Some men just want to watch the world burn.". The very next day audiences got to see Fire Lord Ozai trying to burn the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground. It was like they knew the movie would be premiering on the same weekend! It gets better! Fire Lord Ozai is voiced by Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series.
    • Among those suspected to be the Batman is Abraham Lincoln. Guess which one of Lincoln's relatives once wore the cowl?
    • Stephens being taunted into attacking the Joker. Considering the person playing him would later voice The Joker was able to outsmart Harbinger long before Shepard did and the cop even refers to hurting someone how ironic is that looking back at the Dark Knight now.
    • We now have Batman: Arkham Origins, released five years after the film came out, and the game's plots become strikingly similar to the plots of the film.
      • The setpiece of Batman having to rescue hostages by steathily taking out both heavily-armed SWAT and Joker goons on various floors of a building, while using sonar tech to establish enemies and hostages through walls, is virtually a beat-for-beat sequence of a typical Batman: Arkham Series mission, the first of which releasing the following year.
    • Way back in Two-Face's first appearance in the comics, it's briefly mentioned that there was a particular surgeon who could've fixed Harvey's face, but he was put in a concentration camp during World War II. The name of this doctor? Dr. Ekhart, one letter removed from the name of the actor who plays Harvey.
    • The Joker kills the Chechen by having him fed to his own dogs, claiming that a dog is not loyal to anyone when it's hungry. This is exactly how Ramsay Bolton dies in Game of Thrones, specifically because he starved his dogs.
    • The line "you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain" is also this now that Michael Keaton, who played the Caped Crusader in the Tim Burton films, plays the Marvel villain The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Even earlier than that, in 2011, Val Kilmer, Keaton's immediate successor in Batman Forever, voiced Walker Sloan in Spider-Man: Edge of Time. Christian Bale is even now set to play the Big Bad of Thor: Love and Thunder.
    • Stephens is an expy of Harvey Bullock. Come the second season of Batman: The Telltale Series, his actor, Keith Szarabajka actually voices Bullock.
    • Every time the Major Crimes Unit is brought up, given that the film was released at the last time ever that a movie, especially from DC Comics, could use that acronym without being awkward.
  • Ho Yay: Those three punks who helped the Joker sneak in to Gambol's HQ, the young African American one in particular, seemed a little too fond and admiring of the Joker.
  • Hype Backlash: There are videos scattered on Youtube about why Dark Knight sucks. Even some people in forums who had no bad feeling about the movie at all felt that the hype is too high and people praising it simply because it's "Batman" and gritty.
  • It Was His Sled: Harvey Dent becomes Two-Face. Seriously people, Dent has existed in various forms since 1942. There's a statute of limitations on this sort of thing. There was the question of whether he'd do it in this film or it would be saved for a future installment.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Anna Ramirez. Yes, she's a Dirty Cop, but she was just trying to help her mother, and she felt much guilt from her actions.
  • Like You Would Really Do It:
    • Jim Gordon's "death", especially considering we all know him as "Commissioner Gordon" and he hadn't actually become the commissioner yet.
    • With Harvey Dent's death, after he's only been Two-Face for about half an hour. What, you thought he was going to live to be the villain in the sequel? Guess again.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Novelization, by Dennis O'Neil: The Joker is a brilliant, nihilistic madman who seeks to give Gotham a "better class of criminal". The Joker showcases his audacity and intelligence at the start of the story by staging the robbery of a mob bank, tricking all of his hired thugs into killing each other, then keeping the cash for himself while using a stolen school bus to cover his escape. After convincing local crime bosses to hire him to murder Batman, the Joker stages assassinations of public figures and the kidnapping of Batman's Love Interest all in attempts to force Batman to unmask himself, and the Joker later allows himself to be captured by police just so he can stage an escape and kill a mob witness. Eventually deciding that his "game" with Batman is too fun to end, the Joker overthrows his ostensible bosses and continues to terrorize Gotham until his defeat at Batman's hands, which Joker accepts with laughing glee before revealing that his backup plan of corrupting Harvey Dent into villainy has nonetheless ensured victory for the clown. With a genuine belief in his chaotic code that his film counterpart lacked, which is best illustrated when he gives an elderly woman a hundred bucks on a whim, the novel's take on the Joker manages to be an even more complex, intriguing villain than he is in the film.
  • Memetic Badass: The Bank Manager, strangely enough.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Misaimed Marketing: While not as bad as the Batman Returns fiasco, it's still jarring to see toys for kids being sold as tie-ins for The Dark Knight, a movie whose PG-13 rating is extremely lenient.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • The Joker's always been a psychopath, but he definitely crossed it when he killed Rachel Dawes, which then led Harvey Dent to insanity.
    • The organized crime community as a whole crossed this by hiring the Joker in the first place (and the Chechen crosses it by making the decision to hire him), as was implied by one of Bruce Wayne's lines following the deaths of Loeb and Surrillo, a line used in one of the earlier trailers...
      Bruce Wayne: Targeting me won't get them their money back. I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They've crossed a line.
    • In fact, the only mobsters who don't cross the Horizon are Sal Maroni, who only lets the Chechen hire the Joker because of Lau's capture and only refuses to rat the Joker out to Batman because he's truly scared of the Joker ("Have you met this guy?"); Gambol, who knew from the start that the Joker was bad news not just for Gotham but for its organized crime community as well and actually stood up to the freak; and the Gotham National Bank manager, who bravely stands up to the Joker during the bank robbery and ices Chuckles (and tags Grumpy in the shoulder), to say nothing of what he thinks about the endless backstabbing he witnesses throughout.
    • Harvey Dent crossed it when he moved from killing Dirty Cops and mobsters to targeting Gordon's family, and sadistically threatened them one-by-one to figure out "which one Gordon loves the most" so he kill that one while Gordon watches, just so he will know the same pain Dent feels.
  • Narm:
    • Commissioner Gordon verges on this toward the finale with the Joker, wailing "I HAVE TO SAVE DENT!!", which is just a little bit too OTT. There are also some examples of the extras clearly not being in the same league as Bale, Ledger, Oldman and the assorted cast, which doesn't help when the Joker's final plot has scenes dealing heavily with them.
    • "Things are worse than ever!"
    • When Dent screams the word "FAIR!" towards the end of the film, the CGI on his mouth opens a bit too wide.
    • "No more dead cops!"
    • "You brought this craziness on us!" Extra silly when the camera pans up to show Batman perched above her doorstep, listening in.
    • Speaking of Mrs. Gordon, her inarticulate, heart-wrenching cry when Harvey puts a gun to her child's head is pretty effective. Her making the exact same noise again only a minute or so later... isn't.
    • The cop riding shotgun with the disguised Gordon only speaks in clichés and Captain Obvious statements.
    "Lower fifth? We'll be like turkeys on Thanksgiving down there?"
    "That's what I'm talking about!"
    "You can't stop here, we're like sitting ducks!"
    "That's not good!" (In reference to a helicopter crashing into the street right in front of them)
    • And of course, Christian Bale's "Batman voice", which can lead to odd pauses... in the middle... of a sentence, and the occasional inflection of a cartoon pirate. ("Someone KNOWS where 'e izzz!")
    • In general, the fact that the film constantly shows brutal acts of violence but without ever depicting any actual blood, possibly stretching the audience's Willing Suspension of Disbelief a little too far.
    • Harvey Dent telling the guy who tried to shoot him that he should have brought an American gun is worthy of some eyerolls. You half expect him to yell "In America!"
  • No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: Heath Ledger's untimely death certainly didn't hurt the film's performance at the box office. It even got him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Ginty, the Scary Black Man played by Tommy Lister on the convicts' barge who tells the guards to give him the detonator to the civilian barge, saying he'll "do what you should have done ten minutes ago". He immediately throws the detonator out a window.
    • Jonathan Crane early in the film too, despite having been a much more significant character in Begins.
    • The Bank Manager (William Fichtner) who very calmly reacts to robbers in his bank... by whipping out that Sawed-Off Shotgun.
  • Older Than They Think:
    • The Joker makes a pencil "disappear". Sounds awfully familiar...
    • It's even older than the above, it comes from a scene in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth, where the Joker bluffs Batman into entering Arkham by pretending to blind an orderly with a pencil.
    • The Hannibal Lecture the Joker gives to Batman in which he claims that sooner or later, the people he helps will hate him, sounds like the lecture the Green Goblin gives in Spider-Man.
    • Many have pointed out a similarity between Heath Ledger and Brandon Lee's makeup as The Joker and The Crow, respectively.
    • The Joker's Nietzche parody "what does not kill you makes you stranger" was previously used by Trevor Goodchild in the TV version of Æon Flux, although with "us" rather than "you".
  • Ron the Death Eater: Anna Ramirez: People like to say that she should have been killed and view her as a Karma Houdini, never considering (or just not caring) that she was trying to help her mother, did not intend for anyone to get hurt or die, and was left feeling very guilty afterwards. See Unintentionally Unsympathetic below however.
  • Sacred Cow: The Joker. While he's always been one of the most iconic characters in American culture, Heath Ledger's portrayal here set many very hard-to-reach standards for movies to come, as he's widely considered the best Joker (however, Joaquin Phoenix and Mark Hamill are often tied with him or positioned just below him), one of the greatest movie villains, one of the most surprisingly amazing movie performances, and quite possibly one of the best movie performances period. Those who say otherwise regarding both the character and Ledger will more often than not suffer the consequences.
  • Sequel Displacement: The success of this movie has completely overshadowed its predecessor that the whole series has gotten dubbed The Dark Knight Trilogy. Interestingly, though, the next film would take more cues from the first film than this one.
  • Signature Line: Probably the single most quoted line from the movie "Why, so, serious?", is considered by many people to be the Joker's catchphrase in the film. In actuality, the line is only used in one scene, as part of one of the Joker's (admittedly terrifying) "backstory"/threat monologues. Granted, this was a very memorable scene and the line does neatly sum up the Joker's entire character. And the marketing of the movie widely revolved around "Why so serious?"
  • Signature Scene: Everything to do with Joker:
    • The opening bank heist scene is considered among the best not only in superhero films but the genre as a whole, complete with the byzantine nature of betrayals and Joker's final reveal.
    • Joker's pencil trick, his prison escape complete with gloating shaking of his head out the window like a dog, the interrogation scene between him and Batman, Joker at the party, and Joker setting the money on fire.
    • The chase scene between Batman and Joker across the city, with Batman using the Batpod to flip over the giant truck and ending with Joker firing a gun in the middle of the street as he dares Batman to "hit me", with Batman dodging at the last moment.
    • Joker in the nurse outfit at the hospital with Harvey Dent, where he uses Gaslighting to turn his victim and mortal enemy into his accomplice, and then walking out while still in the outfit and blowing up the building.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Never bow down to fear, for bad things happen if done so. Also, people can become moral symbols, but forcing moral change will be faced with resistance.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • When the truck is flipped over during Batman's batpod chase with Joker, gas from the discharge of the launching mechanism can be clearly seen. It is possible that this was intentional (given the comparative ease with which it could have been edited out and the obviousness of the gas fumes) to show the audience that yes, they really did flip an eighteen wheeler.
    • Some have pointed out that after Harvey's Disney Villain Death, you can briefly see him breathing in the background.
    • When Grumpy is run over by the bus in the bank heist, it's very obvious the stunt actor is several feet away from the bus before being yanked backward. While obviously you don't want anyone getting hit by a bus for real, one would've hoped that they would've found a better camera angle or edit to keep the illusion.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Harvey Dent's mental and physical breakdown into becoming Two-Face, and how he lashes out against Gotham afterwards, would've made an interesting story on its own, but alas...
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In real life, Batman capturing Lao would cause an uproar within the international community, which could have been a chance to put an interesting spin on Batman's status as a "superhero" and see how the rest of the world would react to one man deciding to put his city over the laws of citizens everywhere (keeping in mind this would have been eight years before Captain America: Civil War would go on to do just that). Unfortunately, the movie has too much to handle already and completely glosses over this.
  • True Art Is Angsty: The Dark Knight is easily the darkest film adaptation of Batman made at its release. It's also the most critically-acclaimed.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The citizens of Gotham and Ramirez, the hypocritical cop who had the gall to blame Batman for what was going wrong when she was playing for the bad guys all along and tried to blame it on her mother's hospital bills. Not to mention that she was responsible for the death Rachel and Harvey's descent into madness that eventually led him to become Two-Face. And other than the fact that Harvey pistol whipped her she gets away with it unlike the other cop Harvey ended up killing. With that in mind, it becomes hard to see her as the Jerkass Woobie the movie portrays her as and even harder to believe her guilt.
  • What an Idiot!: After Commissioner Loeb’s death the mayor learns that the Joker is targeting him.
    You’d Expect: The mayor would take such a threat seriously and lay low, perhaps delivering his speech at Loeb's funeral over video if necessary.
    Instead: He attends the parade and gives his speech in the middle of the city.
    You’d then expect: That he’d make sure everyone at the event is identified and accounted for. You know, in case anything goes wrong.
    Instead: He doesn’t check anyone around him, not even the officers doing the three-volley salute.
    The Result: Gordon notices before the Joker makes his move and takes the bullet for the mayor.
    Fortunately: Gordon survives.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: Many have taken Batman's phone-tapping of every Gothamite's mobile phone as a heavy-handed commentary about the Patriot Act, with some even arguing that it unintentionally justifies it. Although the main difference with the real life is that Batman destroys the technology once he catches the Joker. In real life, that type of technology is constantly used and abused by different organizations and individuals.
    • While Batman relied entirely on fear and intimidation to interrogate criminals in the previous movie, Batman outright assaults Maroni and the Joker this time around. It’s not hard to see it as comparative to “enhanced interrogation” tactics. The main difference, though, is that Batman’s violent interrogation methods more or less fail both times. In the first case, because criminals they fear the Joker more than Batman, and in the second, because The Joker does not give a fuck about pain (hell he enjoys it) and actually wants Batman to kill him. A good reflection of the inefficiency of torture in real life in certain people.
  • The Woobie:
    • James Gordon Jr. (James Gordon's son) from The Dark Knight, is not really the Ax-Crazy Serial Killer maniac that we know in the Comic Booksnote . On the contrary, he is one of the biggest Woobies in the film. At his young age, he is living very traumatic events such as the attempted murder of his father, the kidnapping of his family and the attempted murder on his life by Two-Face.
    • Harvey Dent seems to be one, being a victim of so many events and tragic circumstances. However, processing of Two-Face, he becomes a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Also Rachel Dawes, due to her new actress and ultimate fate.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • A lot of people filed off Heath Ledger being assigned to play The Joker as the casting agency drawing a name out of a hat - especially considering that Ledger had recently made himself well-known for playing a gay/bisexual cowboy - with many presuming that Ledger couldn't possibly be intimidating. Then the movie came out, and it turned out that the casting worked a lot better than many of these detractors anticipated.
    • The same goes double for the Mexican Spanish dub, as The Joker was voiced by José Antonio Macías, a voice actor well-known in Mexico and Latin America for being typecasted with voicing comedy roles, like James, Icarus, Double D, etc., and no one thought he could be a good choice on voicing a disturbing psycho like him. And just like Ledger, he did a helluvah good job voicing him.

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


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