- "Without me you're just a joke.. without a punchline"
- ―Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne
Jeremiah Valeska is a tritagonist turned main antagonist in the television series, Gotham. He is the twin brother of the terrorist cult leader, Jerome Valeska, as well as being the arch-nemesis of Bruce Wayne.
Jeremiah is the show's equivalent to The Joker, taking over from Jerome, although both of them never took on the Joker alias.
Jeremiah was born to Lila Valeska and Paul Cicero and is the twin brother of Jerome Valeska.
According to Jeremiah, Jerome would abuse and scare Jeremiah when he was a child. Jeremiah would later recount that he realized Jerome was dangerous and knew he needed to get away from him so he sneaked away one night from Haley's Circus and had his uncle Zachary place him at St. Ignatius. Shortly afterwards, Jeremiah took on the alias of "Xander Wilde." He himself would later explain that he did this since he wanted to make it more difficult for Jerome to track him down, but Jerome, on the other hand, stated that he got adopted by rich people, therefore explaining his changed name.
He would then study at school and become an engineer. Four years after graduating, he started construction on his hideout, an underground maze bunker in a forest on the outskirts of Gotham City. The building took 6 years to complete.
At an unknown point in time, he met a woman named Ecco and hired her as his proxy and assistant.
Reunited With Jerome
Ten years after Jeremiah's graduation, Jerome breaks out of Arkham Asylum and kills their uncle, Zachary at the diner he owns for the location of his brother.
Jeremiah is then confronted by the stunned Captain Jim Gordon and Detective Harvey Bullock. They ask Jeremiah about him and Jerome, he tells them that once Jerome tried to kill him, so he ran away and changed his name to Xander Wilde. They then find out that he‘s holding Jerome captive, so they immediately order Jeremiah to let him go but he refuses to do so. After finding out that the Legion of Horribles is inside the building, and that they hypnotized Ecco, Jeremiah takes Jim and Harvey into the halls of his house, which were built like a maze that he’s the only one he can get out of. The three find Ecco there but, since she was hypnotized by Tetch, she gets into a fight with them, Ecco easily wins and takes Jeremiah to Jerome, but she’s eventually knocked out by Jim. Jeremiah then tries to escape but Jerome finds him. They have a verbal fight, in which Jerome tells he’s disappointed by what Jeremiah told about him, since, in his point of view, all of the things he said were lies. Jeremiah did agree that certain things that he told were in fact exaggerations of the truth. Jerome also tells Jeremiah that he’s going to drive him crazy and then kill him. Jim and Harvey eventually get to them, so Jerome runs away leaving Jeremiah behind. Jeremiah is later taken to the GCPD so that he can be put into protective custody.
Jerome took the Mayor, his wife, and a police officer hostage. He demanded that Jim bring him, Jeremiah and Bruce Wayne. Jeremiah is hesitant to go at first but later agrees. Jerome straps Jeremiah and Bruce into a chair. Jerome tells the crowd the story of him and Jeremiah and then cuts Jeremiah free. Determined to prove Jeremiah is just like him, Jerome hands Jeremiah the knife and tells him to take his best shot. Jeremiah tries to stab Jerome, who knocks him out with a single punch. Later, Jeremiah approaches Jerome’s body after he fell to his death. As Jeremiah walks away, Bruce asks him to let Wayne Enterprises fund his work. Jeremiah thanks Bruce and shakes his hand.
After Jerome's death, Jeremiah discovered a gift in his secret office and opened it. The gift is revealed to be a jack in the box in the form of a disfigured clown head that sprays Jeremiah with a special mixture of the laughing venom created by Jerome. The gas then eventually drives Jeremiah completely insane as Jerome's voice speaks to him in a recording coming out of the gift box, encouraging Jeremiah to be Jerome's successor and his ultimate revenge. Even though Jeremiah tried to fight the venom, it ultimately turned him into a complete maniac with pale skin and red lips.
Jeremiah, still considering Bruce as his friend despite being driven insane, tries to make Bruce his ally. However, the latter consistently ignores him, which results to Bruce's "one bad day" with Jeremiah torturing Alfred and shooting Selina.
Later on, Jeremiah successfully bombs down the bridges to turn Gotham into an island. It is revealed that the generators that Bruce funded are better as explosive devices, and that Jeremiah's real plan is to turn Gotham into a maze by "starting from blank".
No Man's Land
After Jeremiah successfully cuts off Gotham to the mainland by bombing the bridges down, he leads a cult of followers together with Ecco, now dressed up in a harlequin outfit. Jeremiah's followers are then tasked to dig a tunnel under a river which leads to the mainland, specifically, Wayne Manor. Selina Kyle then searches for Jeremiah and after finding him, she stabs him several times as a revenge for shooting her.
Faking his death, Jeremiah once again meets Bruce Wayne. Plotting a scheme to recreate the night of the Wayne murder, Jeremiah asks Jervis Tetch to hypnotize James Gordon and Leslie Thompkins as the replacement for Thomas and Martha Wayne, as he tries to kill them and drive Bruce mad again. However, he once again fails as he falls into a vat of chemicals in Ace Chemicals after a face off with Bruce. He is later revealed to be comatose.
10 Years Later
Ten years after Bruce Wayne's departure from Gotham and the city's reunification with the mainland, Jeremiah is seen to be deformed as a result of his fall into the chemicals. He stayed in Arkham Asylum for a decade, known by his fellow inmates to still be under a coma. However, after the news of Bruce's return to Gotham, Jeremiah is broken out of Arkham by Ecco. It is revealed that Jeremiah was only pretending to be comatose.
Jeremiah plots an explosion in the new Wayne Tower during its opening, although it fails and James Gordon discovers that Jeremiah is the one behind it. Jeremiah then decides to kidnap Gordon and Barbara Kean's daughter, Barbara Lee. At the same time, Jeremiah shoots Ecco in the chest after the latter gets stabbed by Barbara Kean, with Jeremiah stating that "there are other fish in the sea." At Ace Chemicals, Jeremiah ties Barbara Lee above the vat of chemicals as Gordon follows them. When Gordon asks him why he is doing this, and mentioning his name "Jeremiah", Jeremiah only asks, "is there a Jeremiah here?" before stating several names starting with J. This explains that Jeremiah has completely lost his grip on sanity, and he has forgotten who he was. Before Jeremiah gets to kill both Barbara Lee and Gordon, he is suddenly hit with a batarang, knocking the knife out of his hand, before he asks whoever is there to reveal themselves. After Jeremiah takes a pause and recognizes Bruce Wayne as the Batman. Overjoyed that Bruce had finally arrived, Jeremiah simply laughs maniacally, but is knocked over by another batarang.
Behind the Scenes
WB will not allow the show to use the name Joker for fear of diluting the brand. The visual representation of the source material is also extremely limited. Purple hair was considered at one point, before settling on dark, vaguely green hair.
- Jeremiah lists off several names beginning with "J" when being asked about his new identity, hinting that he will later take on the Joker alias in the show's continuity. The names listed are also aliases the Joker has operated under in other Batman media (John Doe, Jack Napier/Jack White, and Joseph Kerr).
- Upon murdering his assistant, Ecco, Jeremiah declares that "there are other fish in the sea" (foreshadowing Harley Quinn).
- Jeremiah Valeska is the third incarnation of Joker to have a fully established identity. For many years it was only known that he operated as a caped supervillain called Red Hood that fell into acid during an encounter with Batman and was permanently disfigured.
- Jeremiah's transformation and breaking into laughter is similar to the Joker's breakdown in The Killing Joke following his transformation. He also clutches his head in a very similar way to the iconic Brian Bolland panel.
- Jeremiah's motive to drive Bruce Wayne insane, and his method of doing so, is similar to how Joker tried to drive Commissioner Gordon insane after crippling his daughter.
- Additionally, he shoots Selina Kyle in a similar manner to how the Joker shot Barbara Gordon.
- Jeremiah is similar to Tim Drake from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, who was tortured and brainwashed by the Joker as a boy. Secretly, the young Robin had the original Joker's consciousness implanted via microchip at the base of the neck, which could take over and possess him, physically transforming him like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
- This version of Joker is the second live-action version to appear on a television series in a recurring role: the first was in William Dozier's campy 1960's television series.
- This was the youngest version of the Joker to date, being around 21-22 years old at the time of his transformation. Also, this version comes before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. Due to rights issues down to Warner Brothers wanting to reserve Joker for their major DC film projects, limitations were set on the character of Jeremiah, such as him not being able to use the name "Joker" or even have pure green hair, which was started by actor Cameron Monaghan. To date, only Jared Leto and Cesar Romero have had bright green shades of hair. Instead, Jeremiah has very dark, only vaguely green hair and powdered pale skin.
- Similar to how Joker's standard voice actor Mark Hamill was also well-known as the actor for Luke Skywalker from the Star Wars franchise, Cameron Monaghan, who portrayed Jeremiah as well as his brother Jerome, would later portray the character Cal Ketsis from Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.