Gotham is an American crime drama television series developed by Bruno Heller, based on characters published by DC Comics and appearing in the Batmanfranchise, primarily those of James Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Heller and Danny Cannon, who directed the pilot, are executive producers. The series stars Ben McKenzie as the young Gordon, and premiered on Fox on September 22, 2014. In May 2018, Fox renewed the series for a fifth and final season of 12 episodes, which premiered on January 3, 2019.
In the second season, Gordon deals with a series of events that are being orchestrated by Theo Galavan and his sister Tabitha as part of a plan to take over Gotham as the new Mayor of Gotham City and exacting revenge against the Wayne Family. After Galavan is murdered in his run for mayor, the Gotham City Police Department deals with the actions of Victor Fries in his attempts to preserve his love Nora Fries until he can find a cure for her illness. The enigmatic Hugo Strange and his assistant Ethel Peabody conduct a series of bizarre experiments underneath Arkham Asylum in the underground Indian Hill facility that is secretly owned by Wayne Enterprises and overseen by the Court of Owls. One of his experiments has him briefly reviving Theo Galavan as Azrael, made Victor Fries' special suit to enable him to survive in temperatures above -50 degrees, was even revealed to have healed Selena's thought-dead friend Bridgit Pike who becomes Firefly, and successfully revived Fish Mooney. With help from Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, and Lucius Fox, Gordon was able to shut down the Indian Hill facility while it's experiments escape into Gotham City.
In the third season taking place six months later, Gordon has become a bounty hunter as he works to track down Indian Hill experiments that escaped as well as a revived Fish Mooney. The mission ends with most of the experiments either being dead or detained while Fish Mooney escapes with Hugo Strange. While planning to get Leslie Thompkins back, he also encounters Carmine Falcone's son Mario Calvi as well as hypnotist Jervis Tetch who arrives to look for his sister Alice where she possesses poisonous blood that drives many crazy in various ways. Meanwhile, Ivy is aged up to an adult woman following an encounter with one of Fish Mooney's Indian Hill followers and Jerome Valeska is revived to resume his previous vendetta against the city. Gordon has to deal with the Court of Owls working on behalf of Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows, Penguin and Ivy teaming up to form an army, and Edward Nygma embraces his new identity as "The Riddler".
In the fourth season, Bruce Wayne is a masked vigilante, patrolling Gotham's streets at night. Cobblepot begins a campaign to dominate the city's underworld by profiting off licensed crime, Nygma finds his mental faculties diminished as a side-effect of having been flash-frozen, Jonathan Crane is seen embracing his role as the Scarecrow, the League of Shadows begin their next plot involving an ancient embalming knife, Ivy Pepper taking drugs from an apothecary which transform her again, and Butch Gilzean becomes Solomon Grundy after his comatose body was dumped into Slaughter Swamp. A new criminal known as Professor Pyg shows up putting Gotham into chaos until it is revealed he has been working with Falcone's daughter Sofia to take down Penguin which she succeeds in doing while having Penguin sent to Arkham where he meets Jerome Valeska. Eventually after Sofia is taken down by Gordon, Jerome Valeska, Jervis Tetch, and Jonathan Crane escape from Arkham along with others and team up with Victor Fries, Bridget Pike, Penguin, and Solomon Grundy to create a supervillain team known as the Legion of Horribles to bring madness and destruction to Gotham which leads to Jerome's brother Jeremiah Valeska undergoing a chemical transformation. In addition, the energies that Ra's al Ghul placed in Barbara Kean called the rest of the League of Shadows to her as the female members pledge their loyalty to her. Eventually, Jeremiah Valeska and Ra's al Ghul's plans plunge Gotham City into a no man's land causing it to be evacuated while the different villains start claiming their territory in Gotham City.
In the final season, James Gordon, the GCPD, and Bruce Wayne work to restore order in Gotham City in light of it being declared no man's land while Penguin, Bridgit Pike, Victor Fries, Scarecrow, and Barbara Kean claim their territory in Gotham City.
Ben McKenzie as James Gordon – In September 2013, it was reported that Fox was developing a TV series centred on James Gordon's early days as a police detective and the origin stories of various Batman villains. In February 2014, McKenzie was cast as the lead character. When describing his character in an interview, McKenzie stated that Gordon "is a truly honest man. The last honest man in a city full of crooked people. He's not an anti-hero, he's a true hero – but he will have to compromise."
Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock – In early 2014, it was announced that Logue was cast as Harvey Bullock, a character who serves as James Gordon's ethically conflicted and compromised partner in the GCPD.
David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne – In March 2014, Mazouz was cast as Bruce Wayne. When discussing his character, Mazouz stated that "you never got to explore what Bruce Wayne was going through or his grieving process or what his anger makes him do. At this point in his life, he's angry, he's scared, he's compulsive, and he's lonely. He's looking for any meaning to his parents' death. You'll see the things that he'll do to himself and to other people while he's grieving, and you'll see how he becomes a regular kid again."
Erin Richards as Barbara Kean – In February 2014, Richards was confirmed to have been cast in the show. Richards portrays James Gordon's fiancée, Barbara Kean, though their relationship deteriorates over the course of the season. She renews a past romantic relationship with Renee Montoya.
Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle – In March 2014, Bicondova was confirmed to have joined the show's cast. According to Bicondova, "The main word that I can think of to characterize Selina is that she's just surviving. She's very mischievous and very challenging to play at times, because she feels emotions but she hides them. I realized that she isn't just a street thief and a survivor; she's actually a normal girl."
Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma / The Riddler – Smith joined the cast in April 2014. In May 2014, Smith was promoted to a series regular. "What I love about the character's history is how diverse it is", says Smith. "When I was auditioning for Gotham, I got a handful of comics from different decades, so I had a perspective—it's been around for 75 years, which is a long time. I wanted to see an evolution of the comics—and of the character. Going from this quite innocent, well-intentioned, joyful person to starting to find this other part of him that he didn't know he had. He's a person who's constantly abused, and it's out of anger and exhaustion, and then realizing that when you start taking control of situations like that, you can gain power that way—it'll be something that he can start to enjoy."
John Doman as Carmine Falcone – Doman first appeared in the series pilot as Carmine Falcone, a mob boss with ties to James Gordon's father. Doman continued to appear throughout the season.
Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney – Smith was cast as Fish Mooney in February 2014. She appeared throughout the season until her character was seemingly killed in the show's season 1 finale after being dropped off the side of a tall building by Penguin. When asked if her character will return in future seasons, Smith replied, "If she survives the fall. I signed for a year. I don't think any of us really thought that Fish would have the life that she's had or be one of the favorite characters on the show. She was there to service a purpose, as far as helping to tell Penguin's story. I'm a smart girl. I understood I was there to service Penguin. If she survives, I would definitely be willing to do whatever was necessary to continue servicing the story of Gotham." In January 2016 it was announced that Smith would be reprising the role for the second half of season 2.
Nicholas D'Agosto as Harvey Dent – In July 2014, it was announced that Harvey Dent would appear in the show. D'Agosto was revealed to portray Harvey Dent in October 2014, and was promoted to a series regular for the second season.
Michael Chiklis as Nathaniel Barnes / The Executioner – In July 2015, Chiklis was announced as a series regular for season two as Captain Nathaniel Barnes.
Maggie Geha as Ivy "Pamela" Pepper – A young woman and old friend of Selina's who develops pheromone-based powers after consuming a mysterious elixir. The character was portrayed by Clare Foley as a recurring character in the first and second seasons. Starting with the second episode of season 3, she was promoted to series regular with the role recast with Geha. Peyton List takes over the role in the fourth season, as a recurring character.
Benedict Samuel as Jervis Tetch / Mad Hatter – In August 2016, Samuel was announced as a series regular for season 3. He is described as a psychotic hypnotist with a steadfast desire to find his missing sister Alice.
Crystal Reed as Sofia Falcone – The daughter of Carmine Falcone who is returning to Gotham to help Gordon take down the Penguin. Reed was announced to portray Sofia Falcone and upgraded to a series regular for season 4.
Alexander Siddig as Ra's al Ghul – The powerful head of the League of Assassins with a keen eye on Bruce Wayne. In March 2017, Siddig was announced to portray Ra's in the season 3 finale before being upgraded to a series regular for season 4.
Initially, Heller said he was hesitant about doing a series about superheroes, telling website Digital Spy that "I don't really know how to write about people with super powers". Further elaborating to Entertainment Weekly that "I don't think Batman works very well on TV", adding that "Frankly, all those superhero stories I've seen, I always love them until they get into the costume", noting that at that point "they've stopped becoming humans." It was Heller's son who suggested that the focus of the series be Commissioner Gordon from which Heller then further developed into the idea of Gordon being the investigator who investigated Bruce Wayne's parents' murder an idea he says that "gave us a starting point and allowed us to tell the saga from a much earlier point than before".
On September 24, 2013, Fox announced that it had bypassed the traditional pilot phase and placed a straight-to-series order for Gotham, to be written and executive produced by Heller.Gotham received a series order from Fox on May 5, 2014, with the first season reported to consist of 16 episodes, rather than the standard 13 or 22. Fox's Chairman of Entertainment Kevin Reilly stated, "We were only contractually obligated to order 13, and we ordered 16, because we think that's the way that show, at least in its first iteration, will be very strong to arc to. Could we do more next season? We certainly could, but that’s where we're starting with that one. That show is going to have a very strong, serialized element." On October 13, Fox ordered an additional six episodes for the show, bringing the first season order to a full 22 episodes. In February 2014, it was reported that production would begin in New York City in March. Filming for the first season finished on March 24, 2015.
Speaking of the project at the 2014 winter TCA press tour, Reilly described the series as "this operatic soap that has a slightly larger-than-life quality. This is not some adjunct companion series. This is the Batman franchise, just backing it up [in chronology]." He later added that the series is separate from any DC film universe. As part of a settlement with his heirs, Gotham and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were the first productions by DC that credited Bill Finger as co-creator of Batman.
On January 17, 2015, the series was renewed for a second season. The show was officially renewed by Fox for a 22-episode third season on March 16, 2016. David Madden, Fox's Entertainment President stated, "It takes a very special team to tell the tales of Gotham. For the past two seasons, Bruno, Danny and John have masterfully honored the mythology of Gotham and brought it to life with depth, emotion and memorable high drama." In May 2017, Fox renewed the series for a fourth season, which premiered on September 21, 2017. On May 13, 2018, Fox renewed the series for a fifth and final season originally consisting of 10 episodes then later increased to 12. The season began production in July that year, and premiered on January 3, 2019.
In January 2014, rumors arose that Donal Logue would portray Gordon in the series. Logue denied these rumors via Twitter. Logue was eventually cast as Harvey Bullock. In February 2014, Ben McKenzie was cast as James Gordon. McKenzie had shot a previous pilot with Heller for CBS, which led to Heller writing his characterization of Gordon with McKenzie in mind. Casting Bruce Wayne was challenging in part because, as Heller put it "It's such an important casting and it would've been very dangerous to cast the wrong person" adding that the casting process for Wayne "took a lot of negotiation, a lot of back and forth so that everyone was happy and comfortable." In early March 2014, David Mazouz was cast as Bruce Wayne while Camren Bicondova was cast as Selina Kyle. At the 2014 Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, DC's Jim Cunningham said that Renee Montoya would be a character on the show.
In July 2014, it was announced that Graeme Revell would be the composer for the series.
The pilot was screened at the Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment panel at San Diego Comic-Con International in July 2014. The series premiered on Nine Network in Australia on October 12. In Canada, it is shown in simulcast on CTV and reran on M3. In New Zealand, it premiered on TV2 on September 28. In the United Kingdom, it premiered on Channel 5 on October 13. The channel also screen the second season but after failing to screen the third season it was announced in August 2017 that the season would premiere exclusively on DVD and Blu-ray and be on Netflix from September 1. In Ireland, it premiered on RTÉ2 on January 26, 2015. In March 2018, it was announced that E4 had acquired the rights to air the fourth season on UK television.
In early October 2014, market research firm Survata polled more than 1,400 viewers to determine that Gotham was the major TV premiere, out of 24, that viewers were most interested to watch that year.
In Australia, the first and second episodes received 1.24 million and 896,000 viewers, respectively. The timeshifted broadcasts were watched by 1.43 and 1.03 million, respectively. The Canadian debut got 3.38 million viewers, making it the second most-watched telecast of the night and week. The UK premiere was watched by 3.20 million viewers. The airings on the 1-hour and 24-hour timeshift channels were watched by 597,000 and 142,000 viewers, respectively. In New Zealand, it was the most-watched program on the network, with 278,540 viewers. The time shifted version was watched by 39,580 viewers.
Season 1 of Gotham received generally positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the season a rating of 78% based on 90 reviews, with an average rating of 6.92/10. The site's consensus states, "High production values, a talented cast, and an appealingly stylized approach to the Batman mythos help Gotham overcome its occasionally familiar themes."Metacritic gives the season a score of 71 out of 100, based on 34 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
David Hinckley of New York Daily News praised the first episode for playing "like a 45-minute movie, with stunning visuals that never feel like a shrunken TV version of the Batman films against which it will inevitably be measured" and lauded Logue's Harvey Bullock as a scene-stealer. The San Jose Mercury News' Chuck Barney called the pilot "a fun, dark, moody and well-paced first hour" and McKenzie's James Gordon a commanding lead, while saying Jada Pinkett Smith is "an absolute blast to watch." Matt Brennan of Indiewire said that Gotham was "the perfect antidote to superhero fatigue", praising the "bright, pop-inflected aesthetic, with urban backdrops that appear as though cut out from the panels of a comic book."
Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly criticized the first half of season one along with the mid-season premiere. He found the personalities of the most characters "already nearly fully formed; all they can become is more or less than what they already are." Jensen added that Gordon not being Gotham's redeemer hurt the premise of the show and heavily criticized what he saw as the under-use of Jada Pinkett Smith's character. In the end, he does not see Gotham "as a show for comic book fanboys" but rather as "a post-fanboy, or fanboy-irrelevant." Oliver Sava of The A.V. Club lamented that "there have been dozens of interpretations of Batman and his city in the 75 years since their creation, and Gotham has trouble finding the right balance of influences".
The second season of Gotham received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has a rating of 82% based on 14 reviews, with an average rating of 7.21/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While still tonally uneven in season two, Gotham is back with a renewed focus, moving away from disjointed case-of-the-week plots into a darker, more stable serialized story."Metacritic gives the season a score of 62 out of 100, based on 6 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The third season of Gotham received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 80% based on 7 reviews, with an average rating of 7.29/10. The fourth season of Gotham received generally positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the season has an approval rating of 85% based on 20 reviews, with an average rating of 6.8/10.
On February 1, 2016, Fox began airing episodes of a five-part motion comic titled Gotham Stories, meant to tie into the series' second season. On January 31, 2017, the first Gothamtie-innovel was published by Titan. Dawn of Darkness by Jason Starr is described as an "official prequel" to the TV series, set two months prior to the beginning of the series.