Gotham might be finished, but fans can relive their favorite episodes from the Batman prequel series on streaming sites like Netflix. The series spent five seasons building Gotham residents into supervillains and teenager Bruce Wayne into a hero. With 100 episodes, a handful of the hours stand above the rest.
Through the Internet Movie Database, fans and critics alike can rate movies and television series on a star scale. One star is the worst, while ten stars is the best. The top 10 episodes of Gotham all rank at nine stars or above.
10 All Happy Families Are Alike S1E22 (9.0)
For much of this episode, Bruce Wayne’s journey to Batman is placed on the back burner. Instead, the focus is squarely on Gotham’s gang war.
The Maroni and Falcone crime families are tearing the city apart, and it’s all Jim Gordon can do to keep up. In a satisfying twist, it turns out Oswald starts the gang war. He sets the crime families against one another so he can rise in the underworld in a power vacuum. Of course, this episode also sees Barbara Kean’s character take a dramatic turn. She’s no longer the lonely woman playing house, but a criminal who lashes out. Her turn leads to one of the most fascinating character arcs for the series.
9 Rise Of The Villains: Knock, Knock S2E02 (9.0)
With the second season, Gotham began subtitling its episodes to connect them in a common theme. Quite a few of the top ten episodes come from season two’s arcs.
In this particular episode, several escaped Arkham inmates try to drive the city mad. Chief among them is Jerome Velaska, who would become the series proto-Joker. The bigger story would be just why these villains were put into action by Theo and Tabitha Galavan, but for the episode, it was enough for fans to see a fresh way to get under Jim Gordon’s skin. It wasn’t organized crime, but people on their way to becoming comic book supervillains.
8 Penguin’s Umbrella S1E07 (9.1)
“Penguin’s Umbrella” is a huge episode for the first season. It’s the first time the audience sees how diabolical Oswald Cobblepot can become.
When he returns to Gotham after Jim was supposed to kill him, he upends everything around him. Not only is Falcone seemingly furious with Jim, but Fish Mooney becomes afraid of what Penguin might know. There is a clever twist in the end. Oswald knew he could persuade Jim to let him live, so he made a deal with Falcone before Jim was assigned to kill him. He reveals himself as a snitch for Falcone in his bid to scheme his way to the top.
7 Rise Of The Villains: The Last Laugh S2E03 (9.1)
It wouldn’t be a big episode of Gotham without a hostage situation, right? In this episode, Jerome and Barbara team up to hold some of Gotham’s richest hostage at a charity gala.
While Jerome and Barbara rile the crowd, Theo Galavan gets to pretend to be a hero, saving the day by stabbing Jerome. The audience was shocked to see the proto-Joker meet his end. That wasn’t the end of Jerome’s legacy, but the audience wouldn’t know that yet. Erin Richards got to do some of her best work as Barbara in the hour, breathing new life into the character as an unhinged villain.
6 Rise Of The Villains: Worse Than A Crime S2E11 (9.1)
With this episode, the “Rise of the Villains” arc came to an end. The entire episode revolved around stopping Theo Galavan from sacrificing Bruce Wayne, bringing a lot of unlikely allies together. As Alfred, Lucius, Gordon, and Selina team up with Nygma and Penguin to defeat Galavan and save Bruce, it’s very much a prelude of what’s to come in the final season of the show.
Silver St. Cloud, a character a lot of fans didn’t appreciate, redeemed herself with this episode as she confesses to Bruce everything she did. She even has a change of heart, not wanting to sacrifice him for her family’s gains. It’s a nice end for the character since she’s never seen again. Their conversation also has an affect on Bruce, making him realize how he feels about Selina, a relationship that plays a large role in the rest of the series.
5 Wrath Of The Villains: Into The Woods S2E17 (9.1)
The final episode from season two to make the top ten, this episode has a lot of separate pieces. Jim, Bruce, Oswald, and Barbara all have separate storylines going on that gradually weave together.
While Barbara attends therapy sessions in Arkham, Oswald begins to see the truth about his father’s new family, breaking through his conditioning to get revenge. Jim also discovers Nygma framed him for murder. With all of those separate stories going on, the best might be Bruce spending some quality time with Selina. He decides he wants to get to know the real Gotham, so she teaches him what it’s like to live on the street.
4 Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul S3E22 (9.1)
The only episode from the “Heroes Rise” arc to make the list, “Heavydirtysoul” is Gotham’s answer to a zombie outbreak. A deadly virus makes Gotham citizens violent, exposing their baser instincts, while the heroes of the story try to find a way to cure it.
It features a lot of turning points for the characters. After contracting the virus, Lee decides to leave Gotham, knowing Jim will always choose to try to save the city first. Barbara and Tabitha come to blows over a betrayal. Barbara kills Butch, while Tabitha (seemingly) kills Barbara as well. Penguin teams up with Ivy and Mr. Freeze to trap Nygma as an icy statue. Selina and Bruce wind up on the rocks as Selina joins up with Tabitha and Bruce begins his work as a vigilante.
The episode was a major stepping stone for all of the characters on the way to their comic book identities.
3 A Dark Knight: One Bad Day S4E21 (9.1)
Inspired by the infamous “The Killing Joke” comic, this episode sees Jeremiah Velaska target Bruce Wayne instead of the Joker targeting Jim Gordon. The idea is that “all it takes is one bad day to drive the sanest man to lunacy.”
Throughout the episode, Bruce’s limits are tested, not by physical altercations, but by emotional blows. The people closest to him wind up in serious danger. Jeremiah uses Alfred as bait to lure Bruce to him. Bruce ends up hallucinating through the use of the Scarecrow’s fear gas. Though Selina and Alfred rescue Bruce, the former ends up shot by Jeremiah at the close of the episode. The hour tests Bruce’s resolve to make the city a better place all while Gordon and Bullock have to stop Jeremiah’s string of bombs.
2 Mad City: The Gentle Art Of Making Enemies S3E14 (9.2)
Jerome got a second chance at life in season three, and he used it, once again, to target Bruce Wayne. This episode was a formative one for the young hero.
Though other subplots involving Gordon and the Court of Owls, as well as Ed and Oswald’s friendship take place, the story with lasting implications is Bruce’s. Bruce is held captive by Jerome. Though he witnesses the way Jerome treats his followers, he opts for justice rather than vengeance. Given the chance to kill Jerome, Bruce instead makes sure Jerome is arrested, vowing never to take a life.
1 A Dark Knight: No Man’s Land S4E22 (9.3)
The season four finale reigns as the best rated episode of Gotham. The entire season that it set up didn’t even make the list!
In the episode, Selina was out of commission thanks to damage to her spinal cord caused by Jeremiah’s gunshot. Bruce made Alfred promise to keep her safe while he helped Jim Gordon protect the people of the city. Several villains unite to help Bruce take on Ra’s al Ghul. As Jeremiah’s bombs went off around the city, Gotham was completely cut off from the outside world, ushering in a world where different villains claimed territories of the city, and the good guys just tried to keep their heads above water.