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"You're all prisoners. What you call sanity, it's just a prison in your minds that stops you from seeing that you're just tiny little cogs in a giant absurd machine. Wake up! Why be a cog? Be free like us."
―Jerome Valeska's speech to GCPD after its massacre

Jerome Valeska is a major antagonist in the television series Gotham. Jerome has a twin brother named Jeremiah. In their own way, each were the show's equivalent to The Joker at different points in time.


Jerome is a psychopathic young man, who worked at Haly's Circus which came to Gotham City. He murders his mother, with his motive that she was a "nagging drunken whore" and a blind fortune teller named Paul Cicero helps Jerome with disposing of the hatchet he used to kill her. Detective James Gordon investigates the case, and with help with Cicero who puts his knowledge down to spiritual contact, helps the police find the weapon. Gordon comes to the conclusion Jerome is the killer and brings him in for questioning. Jerome shows his true colours by dropping his caring, grieving son act and breaks down into maniacal laughter. Jerome is then sent to Arkham Asylum.

A few months later Jerome is kidnapped from Arkham along with several inmates (including Gordon's ex-fiancee Barbara Kean) and are given the opportunity to work for billionaire industrialist Theo Galavan to spread fear across Gotham. Jerome then heads a group of the inmates in a gang named the Maniax to spread fear and chaos. He eventually became the leader and spokesperson for the Maniax when he "won" a game of Russian roulette by clicking three times and getting nothing. One of his first crimes was having several abducted people thrown off a building into the pavement, with each one having a letter that spelled out "Maniax!" He eventually hijacked a gas truck and proceeded to ambush a school bus containing cheerleaders for Gotham City High School, dousing the cheerleaders with gasoline with the intention of torching them. However, he was forced to delay setting them on fire due to his lighter being temperamental, which gave enough time for the GCPD to arrive. However, he then told his allies to stand their ground, knowing full well the GCPD cannot risk shooting at them and endangering the hostage cheerleaders. He then tried to fire at James Gordon when he tried to get to the Bus, but after running out of ammo, ordered for them to light the bus up in flames, making a getaway by spraying the hose and boarding the truck while laughing hysterically. As plan B, he and his group then proceeded to infiltrate the GCPD with fake police uniforms and then proceeded to massacre the entire area, including Sarah Essen. He ultimately left, although not before leaving a video message to Gotham telling them to be "free like [the Maniax]" instead of being cogs in a machine, and vowing ominously that Gotham "ain't seen nothing yet."

During a children's gala Jerome intervenes and kills the deputy mayor. He then contacts Gordon and demands as ransom for the hostages $47 million, a helicopter, his dry cleaning, and a pony, also making sure to make the demand via video camera. He then plots to kill Bruce Wayne and holds him at knife point. However Theo betrays Jerome and stabs him in the throat. Jerome bleeds to death and dies, but no before forming a smile on his face.

Despite his death, Jerome leaves a legacy of fear and chaos in Gotham City, and several people are shown to imitate his maniacal laughter. He was later experimented on by Hugo Strange, although his corpse was stolen by Dwight Pollard for his own personal goal of reviving him, being sympathetic to his cause of mindless anarchy. When the revival had a delayed effect, Dwight carved his face off, although this came back to haunt him when Jerome proceeded to abduct him and staple his face back on. Jerome, due to the near-death experience, then realized death was boring and intended to awaken everyone's inner demons, doing so by broadcasting a message to destroy a power plant to have everyone be "reborn." He then attempted his earlier mission to kill Bruce Wayne in front of an audience at a twisted carnival of his making, although Bruce and Gordon ultimately subdued him, with Jerome being taken off to Arkham Asylum to get surgery to put his face back on and to be imprisoned.

More to be added.


Season 1

  • "The Blind Fortune Teller"

Season 2

  • "Damned If You Do"
  • "Knock, Knock"
  • "The Last Laugh"
  • "Strike Force" (referenced)
  • "Scarification" (mentioned)
  • "Tonight’s the Night" (photograph)
  • "Worse Than A Crime" (corpse)
  • "A Dead Man Feels No Cold" (corpse)
  • "This Ball of Mud and Meanness" (photograph)
  • "Transference" (look-alike/possibly clone)

Season 3

  • "Ghosts" (corpse)
  • "Smile Like You Mean It"
  • "The Gentle Art of Making Enemies"
  • "How the Riddler Got His Name" (mentioned)
  • "All Will Be Judged" (mentioned)

Season 4

  • "Things That Go Boom" (mentioned)
  • "Queen Takes Knight"
  • "A Beautiful Darkness"
  • "One of My Three Soups"
  • "Mandatory Brunch Meeting"
  • "That's Entertainment"

Behind the Scenes

This was the original character to build on the mythology of the Batman supervillain Joker. WB will not allow the show to use the name Joker for fear of diluting the brand.[1] The show's real Joker was eventually introduced in season 4 with the debut of Jerome's twin brother Jeremiah Valeska, who fulfilled his brother's legacy following Jerome's second death. Whereas Jerome is depicted as an anarchist and mentally unstable cult leader, Jeremiah is depicted as more calm and calculating, although he does slowly lose his mind over the course of his arc.


  • While he acts as a precursor to the Joker, there are many homages made to the character with Jerome throughout his run in the series.
    • When Cicero made it very clear that Jerome being his son was the only reason he bothered to hide the evidence towards his matricide, Jerome says "My father" in a very similar manner to the beginning of the first of the infamous "scar stories" told by Heath Ledger's take on Joker from The Dark Knight.
    • Jerome spraying a bus full of cheerleaders with ship fuel and attempting to light the bus and its occupants on fire (and failing due to a temperamental lighter) was reminiscent of Joker's actions towards the drug dealers and Black Mask in Batman: Under the Red Hood.
      • The same episode had Jerome leaving behind a video message shortly after his massacring the GCPD, which referenced both Joker's video tape showcasing his torture of Brian Douglas in The Dark Knight, and to a lesser extent Joker's speech to Gordon in Batman: The Killing Joke just before attempting to drive the latter mad.
    • Jerome's brief partnership with Barbara Kean when taking the charity gala hostage appears to be an allusion to Joker's partnership with Harley Quinn. The producers had intended at one point to develop Barbara into the show's version of Harley Quinn, but ultimately scrapped the idea.
    • His appearance in the third season (with his cut off face reattached) is a nod to the Joker's New 52 appearance.
    • His appearance in season 4 following his surgically reattached face and new haircut resembled his appearance in Batman: Endgame.
    • His standoff with Bruce Wayne at the hall of mirrors is a reenactment of a similar scene from The Dark Knight Returns.
      • On that note, Gordon's confrontation with Jerome shortly after the latter's patricide has Gordon pinning Jerome to the wall in a similar manner to Batman pinning the Joker to the wall of a tunnel of love ride in The Dark Knight Returns Part 2.
    • Jerome falling to his death and his body being discovered with a smile spread across his scene is a homage to the fate of Jack Nicholson's Joker from the 1989 film Batman.