- "A cop meant something back then. Up until the Wayne murders. Here we had two prominent citizens, Gotham's first family in some folks' eyes, gunned down in the street. Their case was never solved. Their blood wouldn't wash off the department. I don't think the boys in blue were ever the same."
- ―Chief O'Hara[src]
Chief Clancy O'Hara is the longtime chief of the Gotham City Police Department (GCPD), one of the few incorruptible. Originally created as a character for the 1960s Batman television series, O'Hara made sporadic appearances in the mainstream DC Universe. He was often frustrated by the colorful and bizarre schemes of Gotham's costumed supervillains, and used a variety of unique colloquialisms.
Clancy O'Hara was first adapted to DC comics, several months after being introduced in the TV series, in World's Finest #159, when he oversaw the GCPD following the disappearance of Commissioner Gordon, who had been exposed to an experimental chemical while touring Superman's Fortress of Solitude with Metropolis newspaper editor Perry White. O'Hara used Gordon's personal hotline to the Batcave to keep Batman and Robin updated on the debut of two new supervillains, actually a brainwashed Gordon and White, then carrying out crimes in Gotham. (World's Finest #159, August 1966)
O'Hara did not resurface again until the Swamp Thing's first encounter with the GCPD, almost seven years later. A patrolman contacted the chief on the radio to report the Swamp Thing vandalizing a storefront; O'Hara later arrived on the scene personally with three squad cars, ordering his men to spread out and stay under cover. Despite several determined efforts the police failed to apprehend the creature; O'Hara reported the incident to Commissioner Gordon, who in turn contacted Batman and informed him of the situation. (Swamp Thing #7, December 1973)
As part of Captain Stingaree's first crime spree, he orchestrated the kidnapping of Bruce Wayne, whom he intended to use as bait to lure in and capture the Dark Knight. Alfred Pennyworth reported the crime to GCPD headquarters, where he was received by Gordon and Chief O'Hara. The trio later found a booby-trapped dummy dressed in Wayne's clothes on the steps to the station, which subsequently exploded; however, it was unclear whether this was a veiled threat by Stingaree or part of an elaborate ruse by Batman, who was then trying to keep his identity secret. (Detective Comics #461, July 1976)
The GCPD chief again assumed responsibility for the department when Gordon was hospitalized after contracting a mysterious plague. Rupert Thorne took the opportunity to pressure O'Hara into severing all official contact with Batman through the city council, pending the Dark Knight's requested appearance before the Gotham Grand Jury. O'Hara secretly defied Thorne's orders to keep Batman updated on a string of killings masterminded by Doctor Phosphorus. It was during this exchange that Batman conceded that he'd considered O'Hara a friend for years. (Detective Comics #470, June 1977)
O'Hara played a somewhat more significant role during the Joker's iconic "Laughing Fish" caper, in which the supervillain demanded exclusive rights to the profits from the city's fisheries after poisoning all the fish with a diluted form of Joker Venom. Much like Gordon, O'Hara voiced his dismay at the Joker's constant escapes from Arkham Asylum and implied he would be happy to see the latter executed for his crimes: "It ain't our fault the death penalty don't apply to crazies!" O'Hara took charge of protecting three municipal bureaucrats marked for assassination by the Joker, who was attempting to retaliate for the city's refusal to accept his ludicrous demands, and personally vetted each policeman assigned to their respective guard details. The Joker managed to infiltrate the police contingent anyway and escape the chief's scrutiny, but was stopped by Batman, who recognized him at once. (Detective Comics #476, April 1978)
A recurring gag in O'Hara's early appearances were his consistently obscured features. For instance, in World's Finest #159 and World's Finest #309 he was represented as a voice on the phone; in Swamp Thing #7 and Detective Comics #471 the angles of each panel were cleverly skewed to only show the character from above or at a great distance. Even his first true appearances in Detective Comics #470 and Detective Comics #476 found O'Hara's face concealed by conveniently placed hand gestures and window panes. He resurfaced in reprints of the abovementioned issues, but was not mentioned again until Batman: Dark Victory.
O'Hara joined James Gordon and the rest of the GCPD in raiding Carmine Falcone's funeral during the events of Batman: Dark Victory. Although his relationship with Batman was somewhat ambiguous following the reshaping of reality during the Crisis on Infinite Earths, and the two no longer seemed to be acquainted, Batman still considered him an integral ally on par with Gordon, describing them both as "good men who try to do their job as well as they can". O'Hara seemed to have changed little personally, still expressing utter disdain for the city's criminals and condemning them as "animals". He also described Falcone's murder as a favor to Gotham. It is disclosed that O'Hara was one of the longest serving officers on the force, having joined the GCPD prior to the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He laments that the Wayne murders proved to be a public relations disaster for the police and resulted in Gotham's people losing their faith in the department. O'Hara planned to restore that faith by taking down the local mob, including all five of the major crime families, but was stymied by the endemic corruption then plaguing the GCPD. However, he gave Gordon a list of "clean" officers he could guarantee weren't on the mob's payroll, with the intent of forming an undercover squad for this purpose. (Batman: Dark Victory #4, March 2000)
On Halloween night, O'Hara was murdered by the Hangman killer while walking his old beat near the Westward Bridge. O'Hara's corpse was subsequently found with a newspaper killing and a note in the form of a hangman puzzle, which read: "none/nine of you are safe". Batman was soon able to deduce that the Hangman killer's victims all had some ties to Harvey Dent's past during his career as district attorney; in O'Hara's case, he and another officer named Stan Merkel had once arrested Mario Falcone, a member of the Falcone crime family prosecuted by Dent. Since this case had contributed significantly to Dent's career, both O'Hara and Merkel were marked for death. The Hangman went on to assassinate a number of other officers who were perceived as having aided his ascension as DA. (Batman: Dark Victory #13, December 2000)
Chief O'Hara has made cameo appearances in Silver Age #1, which was published July 2000, along with the non-canon Solo #7, published December 2005, and the Elseworlds graphic novel Batman: Nine Lives, published April 2002.
In the alternate reality of Earth-Two, in which Bruce Wayne married Catwoman and retired as Batman to become commissioner of the GCPD, O'Hara served as his police chief. (All-Star Comics #67, August 1977) During yet another alternate reality in which Superman was adopted by Thomas and Martha Wayne and married Barbara Gordon, O'Hara was unable to prevent the murder of James Gordon at the hands of Lew Moxon. (Superman #363, September 1981)
O'Hara was prominently featured in the Batman newspaper strip, which ran from 1989 to 1991.
In Other Media
Batman 1960's Tv Series
Chief O'Hara has appeared in the 1968 cartoon the Batman/Superman Hour, in a role similar to the one he plays in the 1960s television series. This version of Clancy O'Hara is based on Stafford Repp's portrayal.
- In the Justice League episode "Legends", a character named Chief O'Shaughnessy is an obvious homage to Chief O'Hara, as they are both cops with thick Irish accents. However, the "Irishness" of his accent disappears after the episode's villain Ray Thompson was defeated.
The Lego Batman Movie
A female version of Chief O'Hara makes an appearance in the film voiced by Lauren White.