Did Batman Kill The Joker at the End of ‘The Killing Joke’?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated February 16th, 2014 at 9:24 am,

The Killing Joke Did Batman Kill The Joker at the End of The Killing Joke?

For Batman fans, The Killing Joke needs no introduction; more than twenty years after being published, Alan Moore’s graphic novel remains one of the all-time iconic clashes between The Joker and the Dark Knight, and perhaps the definitive tale of the Clown Prince of Crime’s tragic origin. With the oft-mimicked but unmatched style found in Moore’s intricate dialogue and Brian Bolland’s vibrant artwork, as well as the story’s in-depth exploration of the divisions that separate the arch-nemeses from one another, it’s easy to see why The Killing Joke maintains a high level esteem even today. In fact, the story has influenced the Batman vs. Joker stories in both Tim Burton’s Batman and Chris Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

But what if readers have been misinterpreting its conclusion since 1988? What if The Killing Joke‘s climactic panels depict Bruce Wayne reaching out and taking the life of his oldest foe, rather than a shared moment of madness between both men? Could Moore’s one-shot comic really be the final Joker yarn, the one where he succeeds in breaking Batman and pushes the world’s greatest detective so far over the edge that he breaks his most sacred rule?

According to comic book writer and author of numerous Batman titles, Grant Morrison, that’s exactly what happens at the end of The Killing Joke. In a recent interview with Kevin Smith about his new Wonder Woman project, Morrison spoke about Moore’s work and offered his own take on what happens as Batman and The Joker laugh maniacally together in the rain, suggesting that the former actually murders the latter. Here are Morrison’s words from the ‘Fatman on Batman’ podcast:

That’s why it’s called ‘The Killing Joke.’ The Joker tells the ‘Killing Joke’ at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops and the light goes out, ’cause that was the last chance at crossing that bridge. And Alan Moore wrote the ultimate Batman/Joker story — he finished it.

An interesting theory, though hardly new: as noted by Bleeding Cool, Bolland himself referenced the idea of Batman killing The Joker – which has been discussed among fans since its release – in his afterword for the recolored edition of The Killing Joke in 2008. Five years hence, Morrison reintroducing this particular analysis hardly feels unique, but following the discussion with Smith, his words have sparked debate about those nine closing frames across the Internet that Bolland’s simply did not. So that leads to the big question: Is Morrison right?

Take a look at The Killing Joke‘s final page below:

killing joke ending 570x891 Did Batman Kill The Joker at the End of The Killing Joke?

It’s difficult to look at that polyptych keeping Morrison’s words in mind without seeing exactly what he’s talking about. In panel five, Batman reaches his arm out toward The Joker before the laughter cuts two panels later and the headlights shut off; the pictures almost speak for themselves. In the aftermath of what The Joker has put Batman – not to mention Jim and Barbara Gordon – through over the course of the narrative, one may wonder how The Killing Joke could end any other way. How can Batman possibly justify doing things “by the book,” as Gordon implores him to, this time? 

On the other hand, the art alone appears to debunk that reading just based on where Batman places his hand, which comes to rest on The Joker’s shoulder rather than wrap around his throat as Morrison states. Moreover, the script doesn’t indicate anything as far as Batman strangling The Joker goes. (Though in fairness, there’s a lot that can happen off the page between writer and artist.)

Check out the script page below (courtesy of The Adventures of Mr. Phil):


The Killing Joke Script Page 280x170 Did Batman Kill The Joker at the End of The Killing Joke?

And perhaps the light going out in the final panel really symbolizes how the boundaries that distinguish Batman from The Joker have disappeared, providing further illustration to The Joker’s belief that they’re two sides of the same coin.

Some have pointed out that the best evidence against Morrison’s point is Barbara Gordon. During The Killing Joke‘s events, The Joker shoots her through the spine, paralyzing her below the waist – and setting the foundation for her transformation into the Oracle. The fact that the Oracle repeatedly shows up in subsequent Batman features and that The Joker continues to be a thorn in Batman’s side solidifies The Killing Joke‘s events as canon. Then again, Alan Moore himself has indicated that he never intended for the book to be in continuity – that was DC’s idea.

It’s worth noting that Morrison fully acknowledges the ambiguous nature of The Killing Joke‘s outcome, which he believes to be part of the book’s brilliance. On this, he’s 100% correct, and now we put it to you, Screen Ranters: what do you think happens at the end of The Killing Joke? Does Batman stick to his code? Or does he finally snap and end The Joker’s madness once and for all? Share your thoughts in the comments section!


Source: SModcast, Bleeding Cool & Comic Book Resources

Follow Andy Crump on Twitter @agracru
TAGS: Batman
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  1. Awesome comic, love reading it from time to time, I love that dark knight took some notes from this.

  2. Its a good argument. Its not like Batmans above killing villians, so I can see how someone could read it that way.

    • The in-continuity Batman is very much against killing villains. That’s why this is coming as such a shock to fans.

      • This was not suppose to be in continuity when Moore wrote it he was told that it wasn’t until after the book got published. Then DC made it cannon.

        • Yes, I’m well aware.

      • Actually, for several years Bat-Man killed people on a routine basis. At one point he even carried a gun.

        • The current idea of batman doesn’t.
          -the point

          • The old idea of Batman did. Your point?

            • His point is that that’s not in continuity, as was my point, and it hasn’t been in continuity since the 1940s.

          • The “current” idea of Batman changes with every single writer.

            Alan Moore never intended this story to be canon. As a writer, he has readily shown that he likes to write on the darker side of his characters’ complexities. Regularly stepping over the ‘moral’ line, as well as his propensity for deconstructing the psychosis behind “heroes”. As a writer he has shown himself as one who likes to push the envelope. He killed him.

            • Ridiculous. You have to go out of your way with creative interpretation to suggest that the Joker dies in those panels.

              • So your big counter-argument is to say mine is ridiculous. Way to prove me wrong.

                It is art. Its whole purpose is to be creatively interpreted. That is why it was left ambiguous. There is nothing out of the way in any of my reasons for thinking the way I do. Moore is known, quite justifiably, for his character’s choosing the darker path. Not just Batman either. Watchmen, Swamp Thing, From Hell,LXG, morally gray is his pallete of choice. Instead of coming up with a valid response you just say I am ridiculous, thus confirming your inability to think of a coherent rebuttal.

              • I expected better from a doctor. *tsk tsk*

                • Given your definition of art, I’m allowed to say “ridiculous” and then drop the mic.

                  Just sayin.

                  • Where did he describe art? Or are you saying comics aren’t art?

                  • I would think comics match everyone’s definition of art.

                    • As would I.

                    • My point was:

                      Believe it or not, what we are doing right now… is an art form.

                      It may sound silly but it’s true:

                      Posting/blogging is an art.

  3. I just recently listen to that smodcast with Kevin Smith, and I immediatley searched for my original copy of ” The Killing Joke.”. We can think of this story as a Else-World story, like in this idea the Batman crosses the line and breaks his own code. Then again, Batman could have just hauled off the Joker, hence the rain just flying and no dirt or headlights in the last panel. Either way this story is important to the Batman universe, the Joker is shown to finally go to far to hurt Babrara Gordon (Batgirl) but brought forth a more powerful Allie called Orcale. Morrison has a theory, and it’s fun but I’m still sticking with Joker not being killed. Great story nonetheless!

  4. This is how The Dark Knight should have ended, with Heath Ledgers death there never will be a conclusion.

  5. Only now they think about it? Why? I always thought it was clear for the same reasons stated by Morrison, its not rocket science.

  6. I’ve not read this comic but it seems obvious to me just from the panels above and what this guy is saying. The fact Batman laughs like the joker shows temporarily that he is insane, capable of being a murderer, joker has pushed him over the limit and bats has snapped – BAM, dead joker.

  7. Until Alan Moore weighs in on this….


  8. The lights are out because Batman has put Joker in batmobile and driven off.

    • This!

    • That’s not the Batmobile’s headlights; it’s a cop car. Hence the “weeeeeee.” It really does seem like Batman snaps and kills him. As a huge Batman fan it’s sad to see him snap and lose control but this story is unique. I love this story because it’s one of the few comics that shows just how brutal the Joker can be but the fact that it shows his life before becoming the Joker kinda takes a bit of the villain away for me. The monster is always scariest when you can’t see it. To shed light on why the bad guy is the bad guy and allow some sympathy for him makes him not quite the same monster. It’s like when you realize Darth Vader is just that poor kid whose mom was killed and just couldn’t handle it. You feel bad for him and he’s no longer quite as menacing. I do love this story though. I own the hardcover :)

      • Also, if you look at panel 7 when the lights go out there is a line on the ground between where Joker and Batman are standing (you can see the tip of their boots). When all goes silent, the line also goes away suggesting that perhaps that line finally got crossed.

        This is one those “you’ll never really know” moments, and if Moore is smart he’ll leave it that way and let people decide for themselves like they have always done.

        • If you read the script posted in this very article, you’d know the line symbolizes the two sides of the same (albeit occupying varrying degrees of insanity) coin, which Batman and the Joker are, thus causing them to forever be connected.

      • @Oneiros

        But as Joker himself says in The Killing Joke, “when it comes to having a past, I prefer multiple choice”.

        Meaning that the origin story within the pages isn’t necessarily what actually happened and he could be lying or making it up for whatever reasons.

        • Sorry, got so wrapped up in the point I was making I forgot all about the whole “A” and “b” framework I had began with lmao

  9. This is silly. Using these rules, you can “imply” anything off panel if you wanted to:

    As the headlights approach, instead of killing the Joker Batman plays Journey on his BatBelt Karaoke machine and the two join in a duet. That’s what happens “off panel.”

    • lol

    • Good one. :-D

    • This is Grant Morrison talking here, not any silly fanboy, Morrison almost replaced Moore on writing The Thing, they are the best comicbook writers in the world. i think that they can understand each other in some way. I like that ending though

      • And both have a history of “creative reinvention”. The Killing Joke is now far enough in the past that it’s possible to riff on it in a similar way.

  10. If true…

    I must say that while it goes against thousands of times Batman has let The Joker live, this was the one chance to fix everything.

    Batman lets his enemies live so that they can change for the good of Gotham and their lives one day. The Joker is never going to change. So Batman has no choice but to kill him.

    • I think your understanding of the “no-kill” rule is a little fuzzy. Batman doesn’t kill for personal reasons. His parents being one. Another reason is to prove to Gotham that he isn’t a vigilante and that while he’s a maverick he isn’t above the law and is just as accountable as anyone else even with the cowl. I don’t think it has anything to do with the villains themselves or their rehabilitation, though there are exceptions (Harvey Dent, Victor Fries).

      • If you read further, I explain something entirely different. This is just me looking at Grant’s POV, and I didn’t say I agreed with it.

  11. I believe that the fact that the police sirens discontinue proves Batman didn’t kill the Joker, otherwise they’d be still be blaring big time.

  12. That’s all very interesting, but I don’t quite see the relevance to any movie or TV show. This isn’t Comicrant, right? ;)

    • well the relationship between The Killing Joke and The Dark Knight movie is pretty apparent. The Joker’s main point, that he sees the world for the mad irrational ball of chaos that it really is and everyone else clings pointlessly to order and stability, was taken directly from this comic. His multiple origin stories as the Joker says, “If I’m going to have an origin story I prefer it be multiple choice,” was also an idea taken from this comic as this is the only one that actually gives back story into before the night of the chemical accident. So, there’s your “screen” to go with the “rant.”

      • Thank you, makes sense.

    • They probably realized this site is full of diehard comic fans, and after this article, I did Google a PDF of the comic. And The Killing Joke was used as the basis for Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film and TDK, as well as my favorite video games Arkham Asylum and Arkham City. I enjoyed reading the comic and it has a longstanding impact on Batman media. That is why it’s relevant to Screenrant.

    • We’ve written about comic books a number of times before.

  13. I always thought Batman killed the Joker at the end, back when I read this over a decade ago, so this is no surprise to me.

  14. Alan Moore’s scripts have always been notorious for the sheer length of their panel descriptions and directions to the artist. It’s more to completely set the scene and provide whoever’s tasked with translating his words into visuals the maximum amount of information possible, rather than being dictatorial. He gives artists plenty of leeway, but leaves absolutely no detail uncovered or unmentioned from his point of view. If he’d intended for Batman to kill the Joker, even off-panel and unseen, you can guarantee he’d at least have mentioned it to Bolland. That it’s possible to read that into the finished product is great; looking at the script excerpt above, it’s just not there.

    As an aside, I never particularly cared for The Killing Joke. Although I’m a big fan of Moore and Brian Bolland, I found both writing and art overworked and overwrought. Moore’s Clayface story in the 1987 Batman Annual was superior to this, and Bolland’s precision linework has always been better suited to static single images than full-length narratives; it’s telling that he’s stuck to covers ever since.

    • I never killed a buzz in my life. Not willingly, anyway. Just asking a question in fear that we might see celebrity fashion trends next, because there would be a loose connection to movies as well. I don’t like my favourite movie site getting watered down by going off on tangents. ;)

      • In a way, this site is already unofficially “comicrant” based on the number of replies these pages get vs. everything else.

        • I think it’s more geek site t than anything. Regardless this site had the focus on everything I consume media wise which is why we all come back. That and the professional manner in which the articles are presented.

  15. I dunno. It does kinda seem that way but batman spends like 12 frames explaining that it doesn’t have to be that way. I think Batman laughing does show that he realizes he’s just as messed it, albeit in a different way, as the Joker but I think he’s leaning on his shoulder laughing with him and then he puts him in the cop car and he’s taken away. It does seem like he kills him and it’s sad to see him snap for a bit but I don’t think he actually does.

  16. Jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon to garner more attention. Thats about it.

    Hey lets all laugh at this stupid joke with the guy who just tortured my friend James Gordon, paralyzed & ravaged his daughter while videotaping & murdered countless others ! Great joke !

    The jokes really on the audience for thinking that crap is good. Thats the killing joke.

    Joker kills 50 people… Batman “The joker must goto Arkham Asylum & face justice !”

    Wait a sec… didn’t he just escape there & murder 50 people ? You put him in a few months ago from the last 40 he killed right ? Justice ? lol… k.

    • You don’t get it do you? The laughing was to signify that Batman went crazy and killed the Joker after the terrible day he had.

      • Batman doesn’t kill joker though. It definitely looks like that when you only read the last 5 panels but if you read the entire book you see that Batman is actually laughing at the entire situation. He realizes that he will always and forever be in this endless cycle with joker. Joker killing people and Batman locking him back up because he will never kill anyone.

        • ^^This.

          In regards to “the killing Joke,” Batman’ own words:

          “I’ve already heard that joke, and it wasn’t funny the first time.”

        • Seriously what? The start of the story -> Batman comes to Joker to resolve all this situation then everything is pointing him to do the right thing and not vengence. Throughout the whole story there are signs and words from different people that he must do the right thing and catch the Joker to prove a point that Joker is not above the law and won’t make anyone as sick as he is.
          Then Joker tells his joke. The joke is about him and the Batman. It can be interpret both ways. And Batman realizes that no matter what he will do Joker won’t follow the light.
          Batman is killing him, the laughter shuts off, and the light from the car shuts off and thus indicating it erased the border between the two.

          • I always viewed it as a way to point out Batman’s insanity, which is why they have a laugh over it. It is insane that after all of that, Batman still won’t kill…

            The joke is, to Batman- ” I guess I’m just as crazy as you”

            That’s always been my interpretation at least, and until Alan Moore says otherwise I’m sticking to it.

            • Batmans sense of justice is borderline simpleton. It reminds me of Dr. Evil explaining to his son what he plans to do with Austin Powers.

              Scott Evil – Dad I have a gun I’ll kill him, done.

              Dr. Evil – No son you just don’t get it. I’m going to put him into an easily escapable prison & leave hoping everything goes the way it should.

              I’ve said before on this forum and others Batman is indirectly responsible for the murder of hundreds of people. Its no different from the penal system letting out a known criminal who reoffends and kills someone. What does everyone say ? Why was he let out ?

              Oh its Batmans sense of justice… Oh ok. That explains everything. <<<< sarcasm.

              • But Batman’s sense of justice is the same that a lot of the world has.

                Why kill a criminal for murdering and hurting people when you can make them suffer in a prison cell for the rest of their lives, forced to live through the guilt of what they’ve done rather than ending it quickly for them and the families of those affected by the criminal never having any justice?

                That’s why the death penalty is a load of BS (and also a reason Judge Dredd featured police officers who could deal out executions on the spot for minor crimes to show how ridiculous the death penalty is) and why Batman’s enforcement of the “no killing” rule is why he’s such a cool hero.

                He doesn’t stoop to the levels of the criminals he captures.

                • As if someone like the Joker feels the least bit of guilt for the blood on his hands. Besides if the court would have killed the Joker the 1st or 2nd time a lot less people would have died.

                  That’s why the death penalty is so effective it’s a crime deterrent–not a punishment.

                  • Yeah, crime sure doesn’t happen when people get killed for it, thats for sure…

              • Batman is as responsible for what the joker does, as a cop who arrests a serial offender who then escapes and comits his crimes again. Yeah, he coulda killed him and stopped further crime, but thats not his call to make.

            • Moore will never say, he just makes hints. So obviously you can think what you want. But there are more hints in the comic and outside that support the idea of Batman killing him. I named some(not all, i don’t remember everything, i am prety sure there where even some background word tips etc) in comic reasons. And there’re some outside of comic knowledge ->
              - story was meant to be stanalone
              - standalone story that must be special and usually different from upstream
              - the title of the story desccribes the last scene otherwise there would be no meaning
              - its Alan Moore we’re talking about, everything has a meaning.

              • Again, I think the idea is that the Batman and the Joker are locked in a never-ending cycle.

                I hate to use a movie as a reference but Nolan presented that idea as well in TDK.

                Joker-”This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object…
                …I think you and I are destined to do this forever.”

                Just like in life, order and chaos are always locked in a never-ending cycle. They need each other in order to exist. Without order, you can’t define chaos… and vis versa.

                • They run in circles in upstream. This is non canon oneshot. There would be no point to make the same story. And Batman himself wanted to end it. And then the whole story was with him witnessing crap Joker did to people that are closer to him than the ones he previously killed. But everything is against his killing intent, everything else in the story including Gordan and himself tells not to kill. Why is there so huge emphasis on such things with everything i said earlier just to prolong the Batman-Joker cycle?

              • That’s not true, the comics title is a play on words giving the allusion, at face value, to what you’re saying, but think about it-that doesn’t even make sense grammatically. A killing joke is one that kills, as in does a great job as a joke, it kills by making everyone in the audience laugh. This phrase is utilized when describing stand up comedian’s works quite commonly. Thus, it’s the killing joke, because for once the joker, who’s normally the picture of extreme delusional insanity, is making a cogent and poignant analysis of both batman and his own plight; which causes them to forever and inextricably be intertwined and at odds. It’s so perfect an analysis, and so unexpected (which is all comedy is, the unexpected transpiring) considering the source of the “joke” that Batman just can’t control himself, he just has to either laugh or cry: the only response a person can give when realizing that they’re completely (and excuse the pun, it’s definitely intended) Batsh*t crazy.

      • I don’t think you got anything I said. You seem to believe whatever you’re told.

    • @ Gre

      Well, despite your cynicism, you’re right on with the point these stories often try to make or rather, the question they try to ask, which is “what is justice?” Especially with Batman as the quintessential anti-hero, the line between justice and vigilantism is quite blurred. When it comes to mass murdering psychopaths like Joker, is one man justified to kill him for crimes he clearly and proudly committed, or are we supposed to stay on the other side of that line and put people in jail or in the loony bin? These stories point out the unanswered questions and scenarios for which we don’t have contingency plans and explores the decision to kill or let live on a very personal level. I wouldn’t get so bent out of shape about fiction if I were you though. It’s just a story.

  17. Here’s another thing: “which has been discussed among fans since its release” – this is literally the first time I’m hearing this theory. 25 years back I don’t recall ANYONE interpreting that ending as Batman killing the Joker.

    • Perhaps WB asked Morrison to say such things as a way to help establish or validate a certain story point in the upcoming Superman/Batman movie?

      • Now that’s interesting, what with Superman having killed Zod, and WB being in something of a predicament about where to take the Batman character after TDKR.

    • Yeah didn’t you know he can kill him while holding his shoulder and laughing ! ? Its a secret batman martial art skill that didn’t exist in the 1980s when it came out.

  18. It’s Alan Moore, of course he’d have Bats kill Joker.

  19. I first read this back in 1988, when it was 1st published,
    And, I always thought he had killed the Joker on that last page!!
    Alan Moore has always been one of the finest writers, in any medium, and anyone familiar with his works, such as “Watchmen”, “V For Vendetta, “From Hell”, & “Swamp Thing”, would automatically know this ingenious writer loves to throw in double, and even triple meanings in each and every comic book panel that he writes!!
    I have a feeling, though, that D.C. editors may not have actually caught the homicide, or may have purposefully dismissed it.
    Seeing that the Joker is such a viable, & bankable character to the D.C. Universe!!
    Whatever the true intent of that great Batman comic’s ending was,
    I find it truly fascinating, 25 years later, we, as readers & fans, are still debating this incredible writer, and his talents & stories!!
    This is a true testament to that man’s talents, and what an indelible impression & high watermark of excellence he left us in the 80′s & 90′s,
    That today, in many ways, no other writer has ever managed to reach!!

    • Except Moore didn’t write that at all. The only indication that Batman killed the Joker was the artwork, which Moore wasn’t in control of at all. He was the writer, and it wasn’t written anywhere that Bats kills Joker.

  20. I don’t see why there is even debate.

    This is Alan Moore. Of course the Batman killed the Joker.
    Have none of you read an Alan Moore book?

    • +1

    • Check that script page up above: there’s no indication of a fatal outcome, only that they’re “each holding the other up”, so Batman having his hands on the Joker at all and the latter not doing the same is Bolland’s interpretation, not Moore’s intention.

      • I’m telling you guys…

        …Batman busts out the Journey using his Batbelt Karaoke device…


        • Or reeling around like maniacs, keeping each other vertical to that other karaoke standard, the divorced women’s classic “I Will Survive”…

          • “First I was afraid, I was petrified
            Kept thinking I could never live without you by my side”

  21. Did everyone forget Batman basically did kill The Joker two years before in The Dark Knight Returns? Both are great books, but shouldn’t it be a bigger deal the first time around?

    • He broke his neck, but didn’t kill him. The Joker then twisted his body and died. So no, Batman didn’t kill The Joker in that story either.

    • Joker killed himself in Returns.

      • In case ou guys didn’t notice Deric said “basically” I agree with him, *basically* he did kill joker in Returns.

        • He went out of his way to make sure he lived. How is that basically killing him?

    • The joker killed himself by twisting his own neck. Batman didn’t kill him. Even after he slaughtered an audience of people and everyone at a carnival including kids.

      Absolutely ridiculous.

      • Exactly. Joker was pushing him to the edge closer and closer, he saw Batman getting fed up with everything.

        Once Batman made that final move, it was enough to make Joker convince everyone that he had won. If Batman REALLY wanted to kill Joker, he would have right then and there. But even Batman was watching the witnesses leaving the tunnel, quitely thinking “What have I done?”

      • But he had already twisted Joker’s neck, all Joker had to do was push it a little further. If Batman had twisted his neck Joker wouldn’t have died. As a result of Batman’s actions the Joker died. Henceforth Batman technically killed the Joker. And as for The Killing Joke. I believe he killed Joker there too

        • hadn’t*

    • The problem with that is that he didn’t follow through with it.

      Joker: “I’m really…very disappointed in you, my sweet… The moment was…perfect…and you…didn’t have the nerve… Paralysis…really…just an ounce or two more of pressure…and…”

      “They’ll never know…that you didn’t have the nerve…”

  22. The panel clearly shows Batman grabbing Joker’s shirt, not his neck (his signature pose of grabbing the Joker and taking him to the police). With that panel and the cop car in the back round, I always assumed Joker was just getting arrested again.

    Who knows, it’s a fun argument. But even if his intentions were having Batman kill The Joker, like it or not, Batman definitely did NOT kill The Joker, since they made the story canon. Again, it’s a fun debate at what Moore’s intentions really were with the ending, but now it definitely didn’t happen since the story is canon. And because of the final few panels being so ambiguous, no one can really prove if Batman did in fact kill The Joker. I think it’s a matter of what the reader was visualizing when reading the story for the first time.

  23. Nope. In the script, it says that one of them would die in the future and so Batman laugh.

  24. Lets just put it this way:

    If Batman killed The Joker, it goes against everything the character stands for because he’s better than that.

    Batman’s “one bad day”, and I think many fail to realize even though I consider it completely obvious, is the night Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered. Not the events that occurred in Killing Joke.

    The Joker’s “one bad day” is obviously when he turned to crime, fell into a vat of chemicals, and drove himself completely insane.

    What happens in this story, IMO, wouldn’t be enough to drive Batman over the edge to kill The Joker. It’s a character who is able to deal with ultimate suffering from within. Killing Joker would not make sense in this story.

    “The Killing Joke” title, to me, stands for Joker’s monologue as he explains his POV to Batman in regards to the world: “It’s all a monstrous, demented gag”. That he thinks there is no point in playing along, “pretending that life makes sense”.

    It’s an insane person trying to understand sanity, and Batman knows that. It’s what every villain sees and it’s what Batman wants to change in their lives. The Joker cannot accept that though.

    I think if Batman could save The Joker, Bruce Wayne could die peacefully knowing he made his parents proud. That he did the impossible by finding the good in pure evil. Until then, Batman must live on.

    • @ACW 007 that straight up blew my mind like a proverbial shotgun. I award you all the internets. 10/10

    • Yeah, exactly.

      The “one bad day” in this story is Jim Gordon’s, otherwise, why would he shoot Barbara then take pictures of her in various states of undress before kidnapping Jim and showing him the pictures if it was meant to be Bruce’s bad day?

      I also have the opinion that the classic joke being retold at the end is meant to represent Joker and Batman (Batman being the one with the torch and Joker the one to refuse to walk across the light to freedom).

  25. I have read “The Killing Joke” for years, since it’s first printing. In my mind, it was Batman and Joker laughing at the irony of it all, how the joke symbolizes their tenuous relationship, how they are tied together in this strange cat and mouse dance, until one of them is dead. And it that one brief moment, Batman can’t help but laugh, affording himself that one luxury he never let’s out.

    One of the best examples of their relationship is the beginning of the great 8 min short called Batman Dead End. That little banter between Batman & the Joker really says it well. when the Joker says; “That’s why you’ll never kill me, Bats, you made me, daddy.”

    Batman may want to kill The Joker over and over, but he knows deep down that it will never happen. If Joker dies, it will because of his own undoing.

  26. Batman starts laughing as a “sign” that he’s finally reached the threshold of his endurance with the Joker. Like that classic/amazing moment in Lethal Weapon when Mel get’s that sardonic gleam in his eye and grabs the guy and says ” Riggs: Do you really wanna jump ?! DO YOU WANNA?!? Alright, then, let’s do it!”

    It’s the same thing.

    Sometimes when you reach a breaking point you don’t scream…you laugh.

    With all the damage and pain and lost life the Joker had caused and was sure to continue in the future…

    If he didn’t kill him, he should have.

    • When I first read this book, it was after it had been brought into cannon and and the Joker had been running around for years. So I assumed it they both had a laugh together, which is why I HATED the book. Now, realizing that it was originally supposed to be out of cannon, not only can I not see the ending any other way than he kills the Joker but it makes the book so much better. I mean, why would you want Batman to share a laugh with this guy after all he’d just done? I don’t understand why so many people are arguing that it is better that Batman not break his “rule” than that he share a laugh with the guy who just shot his friend, paralyzed her, took naked photos of her to show to her dad who is also Batman’s friend.

  27. I asked my wife her thoughts:

    “I don’t know about you, but if Grant Morrison tells me something about Batman I tend to believe him. Plus, Batman doesn’t laugh…this alone should be evidence that s**t is about to get serious.”

    I think she’s just stuck on his accent. LOL

    • Well, Batman has laughed. But it’s more towards absurdity and not an actual joke.

      Like the BTAS/TNBA episode “Mad Love”. Batman laughs at the fact that Harley Quinn believes The Joker will love her forever if she captured Batman and let Joker finish the job. She could’ve killed Batman right then and there, which is what makes Batman laugh.

      As for Killing Joke, it’s dark irony because the joke represents the journey between Batman and The Joker. They aren’t trying to kill each other, they aren’t discussing the truth of the world. For once in their entire lives, Batman was being down to Earth with The Joker and was simply told to his face “It’s far too late for that now”. That is a great moment. Two eternal enemies reasoning with each other and coming to a solid conclusion without someone dying.

  28. While i always wanted him to, Batman will never intentionally kill somebody. While the Joker hurts Batman more and more, Batman will always send him back to lockup, Batman even admits in in Arkham city, i know games are different from comics, but im making that argument.