Why did Gotham recast Poison Ivy twice throughout its five-season run? Gotham started life as a TV series exploring the titular city before the rise of Batman and his rogue's gallery. Gotham's protagonist is James Gordon, possibly the only honest cop left in the entire city, while the show also follows young Bruce Wayne in the aftermath of his parents' death. While the show had its share of dark and violent scenes, it wasn't afraid to get a little campy and goofy either.
While Gotham received something of a mixed reaction from critics and fans, it was still a ratings success and came to an end with its fifth season in 2019. While the writing of the show could somewhat sloppy, it was also praised for the performances of Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot - AKA The Penguin - Sean Pertwee as Alfred, and Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock. Cameron Monaghan also received great reviews for his work as twins Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska, who both have very Joker-like traits, but the show never actually calls them the Joker.
Gotham explored the origins of multiple villains, from The Riddler to the Mad Hatter. The show also marked the live-action return of Poison Ivy, who was one of the main villains of 1997's Batman & Robin. While the movie itself was greeted with a universally negative reaction, Uma Thurman's knowingly over the top performance was much better received. Poison Ivy was reinvented for Gotham, with the character being called Ivy Pepper instead of Pamela Isley. Ivy was also played by three different actresses of the course of the series.
Gotham's first Poison Ivy was played by Clare Foley, who is the young daughter of a thief that was framed for the Wayne murders. After Bullock kills her father in a gunfight, she teams up with a young Selina Kyle - the future Catwoman - and uses plants to create special chemicals. The showrunners later opted to bring Poison Ivy closer to her comic character, so in season 3 Fish Mooney's henchman Marv - who can age people through touch alone - briefly touches Ivy, which ages her about a decade. Poison Ivy V.2 is played by Maggie Geha and while she still has the mind of a teenager, she uses her newfound looks and a pheromone scent to rob Gotham's rich, including Bruce Wayne.
Poison Ivy later teams up with Oswald Cobblepot after she saves his life, but in Gotham season 4 she undergoes yet another radical transformation. She ingests some mythical potions which put her body in a cocoon, and when she reemerges she's played by actress Peyton List (Colony). The showrunners explained the recasting by wanting to move away from the more comedic version played by Maggie Geha into a scarier, more ruthless character. Poison Ivy V.3 is obsessed with making the world a much greener place and can poison people with a scratch.
Gotham's bizarre evolution of Poison Ivy kind of sums up it's strange approach to storytelling. That said, all three of Ivy's performers did their best to bring the character to life, and she had some memorable moments on the show.