Whether you love it or loathe it, if you’re a Batman fan, chances are you watch Gotham. Of course you do! Maybe it wasn’t what you were expecting from a Batman spin-off, and perhaps it’s been a bumpy ride along the way, but it still boasts some of your favorite characters from your favorite comic book franchise.
When we say ‘Batman fan’, we’re not talking about the cinema audiences who have seen the Nolan films and kind of like the guy who may or may not have a mustache in Justice League. We mean the hard-core followers. The ones who have never missed a Dark Knight Easter egg, no matter how obscure and those who remember the time Batman and Wolverine merged to become Logan Wayne, aka Dark Claw.
If you’re among this elite group, then we bet you know your stuff when it comes to Gotham too. For those in the dark, Gotham is the brainchild of Bruno Heller and tells the story of Batman’s home city before Bruce Wayne first adorned his iconic cape to become the crusader we know and love. A younger Wayne does feature in the series - played by David Mazouz - but it’s Ben McKenzie’s James Gordon, in his early days at the G.C.P.D., around whom the show has slowly evolved. With the final ever season of Gotham currently airing on Fox, we’ve rounded up a list that true Batman fans will love.
Here are 25 Things Only True Batman Fans Know About Gotham.
25 It’s not actually about Batman
The easiest way to sort the Jack Napiers from the jokers is to test them on this. Only a true fan would know that Gotham isn’t actually about the Dark Knight at all. While many expect the final season of Gotham to close on a shot of Bruce in cape, up to now the show’s costumes have leaned towards more realist tones.
There’s a very good reason for this too. When he was first offered the chance to bring Gotham to television, series producer Bruno Heller was reluctant to tackle superheroes, whom he considered the boring alter egos of interesting characters. And so, in the words of The Incredibles’ Edna Mole, no capes!
24 Wayne Manor is filmed in the same building as Batman Forever
Dating back to the forties, Batman has inspired no fewer than fifteen films, eleven TV shows, and a musical – not to mention forays into radio and gaming. It’s not surprising, then, that such a vast legacy has frequently overlapped. Gotham is no different in that respect.
Probably the most striking evidence of inter-franchise borrowing would be the show’s use of the Webb Institute’s Stevenson Taylor Hall as one of Gotham’s leading locations. Yes, taking inspiration from Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever, and its follow-up Batman & Robin, the Hall here stands in for Wayne Manor. This time, however, filming takes place inside and out. As all true Batman fans know, the Schumacher films employed it for exterior shots only.
23 James Gordon was missing one key character detail in the first four seasons
While the color might have altered from adaptation to adaptation, Jim Gordon has (almost) always had a mustache. It’s an iconic facial feature for the GCPD’s finest officer and it takes a brave production to shave it off. But that’s exactly what Gotham did when they hired Ben McKenzie for the part and told him to remain clean shaven on the upper lip.
As it transpires, McKenzie had been all up for growing a chevron on getting the job but it was Heller himself who opted to ditch it. With Gotham serving as a prequel to the Batman stories fans are more familiar, the theory here is that a mustache-free Gordon has still much to learn.
22 The show wasn’t allowed to use a popular character
Is Jerome the Joker? Or is it Jeremiah? Come on Gotham, why so seriously confusing? From the moment the show was commissioned, Batman fans have been clamoring to know whether the Joker would appear. It makes sense, given the character’s popularity over the years, but was never going to happen. The fact is, Gotham was never actually allowed to include the Joker at all.
Behind the scenes, a desire to keep the Joker a DCEU-only property has kept him out of the show. Fair enough. And yet, as Batman fans well know, that’s hardly stopped the producers involving characters a lot like him. Netflix subtitles even jumped the gun and identified Jerome as the Joker.
21 The show doesn’t have a specific time period
If the costumes hybridize the fifties, the ambiance channels the seventies, and the technology resembles a mash-up of anything from the eighties onward, when is Gotham actually set? Outsiders may be left baffled but Batman fans know that this isn’t slack continuity but an intentional timelessness for the sake of just looking cool.
Gotham’s a broken society and it seems the fractures spread wide. In the words of Heller himself: “If today Batman exists, then this world is the past. But it’s everybody’s past, an 18-year-old’s past and a 54-year-old’s past. So, in your memory, the past is all mashed up together. So, in this Gotham, it’s a kind of timeless world.’ Pretty smart, no?
20 jada Pinkett Smith auditioned in the craziest way
When an actor really wants to succeed in an audition, they’ll do anything to get it. When the part up for grabs, Jada Pinkett Smith didn’t hold back in proving that she was made for the role back in 2014. Be warned, her method was pretty messed up…
Dressed in a long gown and wearing a wig, not unlike the hairstyle her character has rocked in the show since the pilot, the star finished off her audition look by pulling along with her a topless man on a leash. Were that not enough, on the man’s forehead she had written the word “Liar” in lipstick. Six years later, it’s safe to say she nailed it.
19 The show launched a real website for Gotham news
Keen to get viewers hooked from the off, Fox launched a new website to help promote Gotham prior even to the show’s debut. "The Gotham Chronicle" ran alongside the first two seasons of the show, publishing accompanying news stories online right up until the arrest of Dr. Strange. Though the stories were pretty brief, true Batman fans probably had it as their home page.
After two years in operation, the website ceased to run. No further stories were published and followers were shifted to the show’s Facebook page. While it remains unclear where the people of Gotham City get their news from now, the old site can still be explored via Tumblr.
18 The ringtone on Edward Nygma’s smartphone is from the 1960s series
Aside from the twist that riffs Edward Nygma’s name on the word enigma, there’s a neat little Easter egg for Batman fans in his characterization too. Better known by his pseudonym The Riddler, Nygma is the piano-playing cop turned criminal with a penchant for speaking in riddles. He’s had his ups and insane downs across the years, done a stint in Arkham Asylum and spent time as a block of ice.
Before all that, however, viewers were treated to a snippet of Nygma’s phone ringtone and couldn’t help but notice its similarity to a very familiar tune. Yes, the Riddler’s ringtone is none other than the original transition music from Adam West’s 1960s Batman series.
17 Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin mirrored their relationship by marrying in real life
Whereas in the comic books, Jim Gordon and Barbara Kean are the couple du jour, Gotham saw their relationship deteriorate, with Jim soon turning to Lee Thompkins. In a weird turn of fate, the actors who play Jim and Lee, Ben McKenzie and Morena Baccarin, echoed this plot twist by hooking up in real life. Talk about method acting.
Reality and fiction continued to overlap as Baccarin became pregnant on the show and to McKenzie respectively. Thankfully, though, that’s where the similarities end. In the show, Jim was sent to jail, framed for taking out Carl Pinkney, and Lee miscarried but McKenzie and Baccarin remain happily married and with a healthy baby girl to boot.
16 The auditions were top secret
Jada Pinkett Smith might have thrown her all into auditioning for the part of Fish Mooney but not everybody had the luxury of knowing what show they were actually auditioning for. In vying for the part of Oswald Cobblepot, Robin Lord Taylor only discovered that he was up for a part in Gotham the night before he went in.
With producers keen to make sure prospective Penguins didn’t just replicate the performances of those who had taken the part before - Danny DeVito, perhaps most ironically – the actors were given a blind script, written specifically for the audition. It paid off, of course, giving us an Oswald Cobblepot like the franchise had never seen before.
15 David Mazouz has the same birthday as batman
All true Batman fans know their favorite hero's birthday. Whilst DC celebrate Batman Day on July 23, a Detective Comics column from 1980 revealed that Bruce Wayne’s Birthday is officially February 19. Taking this as definitive, it was fate that led David Mazouz to the part in Gotham, with the young actor sharing that day as his own date of birth.
Of course, as facts go, this one’s been questioned. Batman was first introduced to popular culture on March 30, 1939, whilst the earliest known reference to the character’s birth date was April 7. By contrast, Mazouz’s birthday remains unquestioned…for now.
14 Robin Lord Taylor has a painful trick to get into character
Even before he became a supervillain, Oswald Cobblepot was widely known by the nickname Penguin – rarely with affection – thanks to the unfortunate limp that turned his walk into a waddle. To get into character, Lord Taylor conceived a drastic technique to make his take on the limp seem more legitimate and less put on. When he limps, Lord Taylor isn’t faking.
How can this be so? Well, the actor keeps a bottle cap in his shoe to remind him that every step his character takes causes him pain. Just uncomfortable enough to give Lord Taylor cause to limp, the method is committed without being too debilitating or causing permanent harm – thank goodness.
13 Oswald Cobblepot has the best tailor
Sticking with Cobblepot, the bottle top in his boot is only one element of Robin Lord Taylor’s remarkable costume. Whilst most of Gotham’s clothing is designed by costume designer Lisa Padovani, Lord Taylor has been dressed like the star he is by none other than Martin Greenfield. Now that’s pedigree.
Greenfield is the Brooklyn-based master tailor behind the suits worn by celebrities, politicians and six former U.S. Presidents. Slimy, devious and an outright villain that he might be, there’s no questioning that Oswald Cobblepot is Gotham’s best-dressed felon. It’s a far cry from the dusty numbers worn by DeVito’s iteration.
12 This major character isn’t in the comics
While Gotham has made it its mission to showcase some of DC’s lesser-known Batman comic characters throughout its run – Victor Zsasz really deserves to be much more mainstream – one of the series’ major characters was created exclusively for television audiences. Hard that it may be to believe, Fish Mooney never appeared in the comics.
On and off for three seasons, Pinkett Smith’s metahuman mobster was a show highlight. Designed, from the scriptwriters’ perspective, to facilitate and road bump the rise of Oswald Cobblepot’s Penguin, the character’s success was such that even passing away couldn’t stop her. Until it did, of course, at the end of season three. Never rule out a surprise return in Gotham.
11 The colors worn by the characters are Easter eggs too
Costumes are never incidental in Gotham and you should always watch out for the colors characters wear from episode to episode. Contrary to what you might expect, so-called ‘evil characters’ are often dressed in light colors, with ‘goodies’ in dark. As costume designers for the show have revealed, this is an intentional move to show just how messed up morality is in the city.
Colors are also often used as sly nods to the comic book illustrations too, with characters often wearing colors related to their original style. Whilst Oswald is often caught with a dash of purple in his suit, Bruce regularly wears black and Edward is frequently in some shade of green.
10 Gotham is meant to be set in New Jersey
According to the 1992 book “Atlas of the DC Universe”, Gotham City is meant to exist in the state of New Jersey. The show’s architecture certainly seems right – particularly when compared to Christopher Nolan’s Chicago-set trilogy – and the comics have always been associated with New York, with 1977’s “Amazing World of DC Comics” seining publisher Mark Gruenwald actively confirm the fact.
When it comes to the TV show itself, Gotham is actually filmed on the darkest streets of New York and so directly subscribes to the popular theory – as did David Ayer’s 2016 Suicide Squad, in which the location was stated as fact. That said, the tourist attractions aren’t just as appealing in Gotham City.
9 It wasn’t the first time Paul Reubens played this character
Paul Reubens may be best known for bringing the character Pee-Wee Herman to life for television shows and a handful of feature films but to true Batman fans, he will always be the biological father of Oswald Cobblepot.
As Elijah Van Dahl, Reubens appeared three times across the second and third seasons of Gotham but this wasn’t the first time he had played Oswald’s father. In Batman Returns, Reubens played a wholly different iteration of the character and was known as Tucker Cobblepot. Neither could be called a positive parental influence but at least they weren’t as irritating as Reubens’ other brush with the franchise, when he provided the voice of Bat-Mite in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
8 Ben McKenzie has played Batman before
Reubens isn’t the only actor in Gotham to have previous when it comes to Batman adaptations. Ben McKenzie is also no stranger to the caped crusader, having voiced Bruce Wayne himself in 2011 animation Batman: Year One. Well-received by critics, that film saw Bryan Cranston voice James Gordon, having previously featured in an episode of DC’s 1991 show: The Flash.
Strangely enough, McKenzie isn’t even the first actor to start out playing Batman and then move on to Jim. Bruce Thomas played Batman first in six live-action OnStar television commercials that ran between 2000 and 2002, before voicing Jim Gordon in the 2014 DC animation Son of Batman.
7 Sean Pertwee gave Alfred a brand-new backstory
Son of Doctor Who legend Jon Pertwee. and an actor himself, Sean Pertwee has breathed new life into the character of a younger than we’re used to Alfred Pennyworth. In Gotham, Alfred is a bit of a superhero himself and more than a match for the city’s dastardly villains. He’s even had his fair share of impressive fight scenes.
Though partly inspired by the Alfred of “Batman: Earth One”, Gotham’s take on the character owes much to the invention of Pertwee himself. It was he who gave Alfred his history in Britain’s Secret Air Service and he who helped inspire Heller’s next project, which will go even further back into exploring the character’s younger years.
6 The name came from a phone book
While many fans have visited the Gotham in Nottingham (a town in the UK), that’s not where the comic book city got its name. Gotham was a nickname for New York long before DC borrowed it, dating way back to Medieval England, where it referred to a village of goat herders. New York was given the nickname by nineteenth-century author Washington Irving in an insulting jibe.
But that’s still not where Batman writer Bill Finger got the name Gotham City. As true Batman fans will already know, Finger was instead inspired by a flick through a telephone book. In the book, he chanced upon the number for a shop called Gotham Jewellers and history was born.
5 The Wayne family go way back in the city
Bruce Wayne may live on the outskirts of Gotham City but his wealthy and influential family have a long history there. Indeed, the Waynes were among the city’s five founding families and have held power there for hundreds of years, as the comic books attest. Their business interests in the city are substantial and the family even has a bridge named in their honor.
When it comes to Gotham, then, true Batman fans knew that the passings of Thomas and Martha was a big deal in the city and understand why Bruce continues to fight for the Wayne name. At every stage in the show’s run, Batman fans were able to spot the Wayne influences.
4 Arkham Asylum has a very authentic film set
Way back in the first season of Gotham, Arkham Asylum was introduced as Gotham City’s fifteen-years closed criminal care institution. The Wayne family had been in the process of redeveloping the site, with the intent to replace the crusty old building with a brand-new facility, before their untimely passings ended the project.
But did you know that the building used in the filming of Gotham to represent Arkham Asylum is actually a hospital? That’s right, the exterior shots of Gotham’s institution have, since 2014, been captured outside the Bayley Seton Hospital. It’s every bit as unsettling sight in real life as it is in the show so maybe avoid getting sick around this one.
3 The clouds aren't real
Like the city in which it’s set, Gotham is renowned for its consistently gloomy outlook. This is a world entirely vacant of joy and that includes the weather. In real-world New York, however, where the show is filmed, the sun does come out for the occasional beautiful day.
To get around this metrological problem, the production has had to turn to a technological solution. Namely, those infamous Gotham City clouds are generally added on computers after the filming. And quite right too. Gotham really wouldn’t be Gotham if it looked like The Muppets Take Manhattan. The rain’s fake too. Trust no one when it comes to the television industry.
2 It’s not part of the DCEU
Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has actively embraced its television offerings under one heading, the DC Extended Universe – aka "Worlds of DC" – has been a lot cagier over linking big and small screen entries. It doesn’t make it any clearer that DC appears to have multiple universes on the go, with the Arrowverse existing as a separate entity entirely.
So, where does Gotham fit into all of this? Well, as all true Batman fans will know, Gotham is neither part of the DCEU nor the Arrowverse. Much like fellow DC shows Lucifer and iZombie, Gotham exists in its own world. Which is just as well, considering the last entry on our list…
1 Gotham takes A LOT of liberties with the comics
We think we may know why Gotham’s proved so controversial with Batman fans. For all the nods the show makes to its comic book origins, it’s also taken a fast and loose approach to the characters and stories it’s carried across. Continuity has been altered and backstories transformed.
Among the bigger changes made by the show, Poison Ivy has a new alias in Ivy Pepper – as opposed to the comics’ Pamela Isley – the Batcave has been given a new background and Copperhead is basically recognizable. On top of those shifts, the show even altered the identity of the person who took out Thomas and Martha Wayne’s to make it a conspiracy theory, rather than a random act of cruelty.
Do you have any other fun facts about Gotham? Let us know in the comments!