This was written half way through season 3.
Note: this was originally posted over on my creators.co profile but considering it’s closing at some point I’m moving a lot of my old article here.
Over the course of its 2 and a half seasons Gotham has had some pretty interesting, badass, and down right weird villains, so let’s narrow it down to the top 5. This list has been decided based on how compelling the characters are, and how much of an impact they’ve had within the show and on audiences.
Only characters whose story lines are finished or have had significant break periods have been considered, so characters like Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin) and Edward Nygma (the Riddler) will not be on this list due to the fact that they’ve been consistently in the show since they were introduced. Now, on with the list.
5. Carmine Falcone
Starting at the bottom is Carmine Falcone (also known as Don Falcone), one of the two major mob bosses introduced on Gotham. Early on in the show gangsters and the mob were a big focus, and it seems to be slowly coming back, so it was only fair that they be represented on this list.
The reason why Falcone was chosen is mostly down to the fact that you never quite know where you stand with him. There are moments where you see some vulnerability or goodness, like when he helps Jim to escape from Blackgate and offers him a place to hideout in season 2 episode 16 or when he came to care about Liza, but those moments never seem to last and/or they never make him seem any less of a threatening character overall.
Those traits make it easier for the audience to connect with him and care about what happens, which makes his return in season 3 a lot better, because fans are going to remember him and actually be interested in the fact he’s back. Falcone being so subtle and visibly calm majority of the time is part of what makes him such a great villain. Although he is physically threatening (I mean, that Liza story line ended with him strangling her), quite often all he has to do is speak, and it’s not just what he says but the way he says it.
4. Hugo Strange
On a more personal level Hugo Strange isn’t a favourite of mine, but it’s hard to deny that the things he’s done are various shades of messed up and some of the characters/story lines we got were down to him. I mean, without him characters like Fish Mooney and Jerome Valeska wouldn’t have been able to come back from the dead, and we also wouldn’t have the likes of Mr Freeze or Firely.
He’s made it onto this list because playing with life the way he did is some pretty serious business, and although it ultimately led to his capture, his arrogance towards his skills did make him pretty powerful for a long time, ensuring that characters like Ethel Peabody stayed on his side and others like Jim Gordon (for half a second) seemed to think twice about crossing him.
Despite not having Indian Hill and losing a lot of his power, a man with the kind of knowledge he has is still threatening. The lack of empathy for the things he’s done and caused makes him one of the darker villains. He’s almost always looking out for number one and some of what he did was simply just for fun.
3. Jerome Valeska
The midway point of this list goes to Jerome. From what we’ve seen of him he’s far too interesting to be any lower on the list, however, he’s not been in the show enough to be any higher. Jerome has had a lot of potential since he first appeared, and depending on what we see from him in the future, he could deserve to be higher, possibly even first place on a list like this.
He has probably one of the most fascinating reveals as a villain. When we first meet him we feel sorry for him, he’s just lost his mother, but low and behold he’s not so much the innocent and upset boy we expect. The scene in season 1 episode 16 where he goes from crying to manic laughter during the interrogation is one of the most iconic in the show’s history. His death, in season 2, is equally matched. It was pretty brutal and he died with a smile on his face that was just as creepy and unsettling as that laughter that revealed him as a villain.
It didn’t seem to be the writers’ intentions at first, but we can now all pretty much agree that Jerome is the Joker, which in a way adds a lot of pressure, like with all the other iconic Batman characters, to get it right. However, it’s undeniable that he is the Joker, because Cameron Monaghan is just so unbelievably good and anyone else would have fallen flat in comparison to even the small glimpses we got in season 1 and 2.
Jerome is oddly charismatic and it’s no surprise that he was able to make himself the leader of the Maniax and gain a cult following. Despite this he’s till very much a loose canon, but this unpredictability is part of the reason why he’s made it onto the this top 5.
2. Jervis Tetch
Just missing out on top place is Jervis Tetch who is one of the most recent villains to be introduced. He’s one of these characters that you can’t stop watching and you just want to see more of.
The main focus of his story line is incredibly consistent, that focus being his sister, Alice. He comes to Gotham for her, he spends time tracking her down, he decides to get revenge on Jim Gordon (and Gotham) for taking her away from him, he becomes interested in Nathaniel Barnes because he’s infected with her blood, etc, etc. Practically everything he does traces back to Alice in some way, shape, or form. All of this adds to how determined he can be, he’s basically like a dog with a bone.
You’re never far away from remembering quite how creepy and unsettling he really is. Of course there’s his backstory which heavily implies that he was both sexually and mentally abusive towards Alice, but his villainous presence doesn’t rely solely on that. He’s killed people and played some pretty awful games in the mean time, like in season 3 episodes 6. Those games are always worked out to the letter, even beyond what we see, and it just goes to show that yes, he might be a bit crazy, but he’s also incredibly smart.
There’s definitely this air of danger around Jervis that whenever you see him you just know something is going to go wrong and something horrible is going to happen. He uses his hypnosis and has some mind control powers, but even without those he’s still very much one of the best villains the show has had.
And also those rhymes, please, let’s just appreciate the rhyming for a quick second.
1. Fish Mooney
Taking the top spot is Fish Mooney, one of Gotham’s longest running villains. The thing that puts her at number 1 is the fact that no matter how much you take from her, she always manages to climb back on top. To this day every time someone underestimates Fish it seems to come back and bite them. Remember that time she shot Sal Maroni?
One of Fish’s best traits is the way she cares about the little guy, but never let’s it make her vulnerable. For example she’s shown kindness and admiration towards Oswald Cobblepot (most recently the “you’re mine” speech in season 3 episode 2) but we’ve all seen some of the things she’s done to him in the past (like beating him up and giving him his limp) to show her power and the fact that she’s not to be messed with.
This trait always seems to be Fish’s best asset. Sure she can physically assert her power, but in that moment with Oswald showing that she cares saved her life. It was also a big step in her getting off of Dollmaker’s island. Whether you believe that she really cares or not is up to you, but even when Fish is looking out for number one and uses people to help her regain power, she never seems to shy away from praising and showing affection towards the people who help her, especially if they’ve earned it. She forgives Butch Gilzean for shooting her in season 1 episode 22 because he’d done a lot for her, was fairly loyal, and she knows he couldn’t help it. She mostly turns on people who betray her or stand in her way.
None of this makes her any less of a villain. She is probably the most badass character on Gotham (I mean, the woman literally dug out her own eye with a spoon and stomped on it). The confidence she has is through the roof and the way she holds herself just demands respect, and it’s no surprise that Fish always seems to find people who are willing to follow her, and most of the time she doesn’t even have to force them to do it. (I’d follow her if she asked me to.) For that reason, it’s impossible not to put her in the number one spot on this list.
This list goes to the next 5 who only just missed out. Each of these are exceptional villains, but for one reason or another were missing something that stopped them from climbing any higher.
- Victor Zsasz
It seems to be that every time Zsasz comes on screen everyone from the cast and crew to the fans celebrates. Everyone loves him and rightly so, the more content we get of him, the happier we are. Gotham could never go wrong with more Victor Zsasz.
- Salvatore “Sal” Maroni
There was a debate on whether to put Maroni in the top 5 instead of Falcone, mostly because Maroni is more obviously a villain. You never forget it, because everything he does or says reminds you. There’s never a moment where you’re pulled into this false sense of security where you think maybe he’ll do the right thing. However, Falcone’s ability to create that false security one him a place in the top 5.
- Victor Fries (Mr Freeze)
Out of all the people to be brought back to life at Indian Hills, Victor Fries is one of the most tragic. We get to meet him before he becomes Mr Freeze and all he’s trying to do is save his wife’s life. It’s not hard to feel sorry for him, but the thing that puts him in this section as opposed to someone like Bridget Pike (Firefly), who is arguably equally as tragic, is the fact that Victor was doing more villainous things before he became Mr Freeze despite his good intentions. He could have very easily been (and in some ways was) a great villain without becoming Mr Freeze.
- The Lady
Despite only appearing in 2 episodes The Lady is one of the most memorable villains that Gotham has had. She was coldblooded, calculated, and had a lot of presence. It really seems like Gotham missed a trick with her. She was already pretty well established for 2 episodes, and could have easily been developed over more. There’s always a chance she’ll come back, but let’s not hold our breaths.
- Theo Galavan
Possibly one of the most irritating villains to be introduced to Gotham. You spend so much time wishing he would just die, and when he does, he comes right on back like the cockroach he is, but he was a pretty successful villain. He did come dangerously close to getting away with everything he did, and if he didn’t come to Gotham we never would have met Tabitha or had The Maniax (at least not as early as we did). Another plus is that we got Azrael which is possibly one of the most silly, yet entertaining story lines to feature on Gotham.
Overall, Gotham has a lot of fantastic villains and it does seem like they’re going to slow down any time soon.
The gifs in this article can also be found here.