"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 recurring villain in the television series Gotham. Jerome has a twin bother named Jeremiah, who went on to become a greater threat after being driven mad by Jerome.

He makes his debut in the 16th episode of season 1 "The Blind Fortune Teller".


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.

After he had been blamed by Sofia Falcone for the murder of her father Carmine, Oswald Cobblepot was incarcerated at Arkham Asylum. While heavily ranting about Sofia, Jim Gordon and Victor Zsasz who betrayed him and caused his imprisonment, a voice from the adjacent cell greeted Penguin with the words "Hey, buddy". Even though Cobblepot ordered the other man not to talk to him, the fellow inmate moved on by explaining that this place is full of lunatics and he just thought they could help each other out. Realizing the voice came from the other side of a small grating near the ground, Cobblepot kneeled down to watch through the barred window that connected the two cells. After ironically asking the other prisoner how he could help him, the inmate claimed to be very resourceful before laughing amused afterwards. However, Penguin was immediately shocked since he recognized that insane laugh. Thereupon, the other inmate finally revealed himself through the grating and turned out to be Jerome Valeska himself whose face had been sewed back on properly. After offering Oswald to become his best friend, Jerome moreover asked Oswald to give him a smile before bursting out into maniacal laughter.

During a stormy night, thunder rumbled in Gotham City while Oswald was locked up inside his prison cell and wrote a letter to Edward Nygma. In front of his cell door, Jerome told an Arkham guard how he once strangled someone, whereon the door was unlocked and Penguin jumped up from his chair in horror. Valeska said "Relax, buddy." and entered the room before adding "You gave me what I needed. The laugh of the century". Jerome then clicked his tongue before plumping himself down in Oswald's bed and closing his eyes. Cobblepot said "Tell me something. You appear to have everyone here under your thumb. The guards, the inmates". Jerome whispered "What can I say? I'm a charismatic guy". Annoyed, Penguin asked him why he chooses to stay in Arkham when he could just escape anytime. When Jerome responded "Why indeed?", Oswald laughed and said "You're planning something". Valeska answered "Righty-o, old boy." and revealed that he is planning something spectacular. He added "See, I'm in this funny farm 'cause I need to find the crème de la crazy." before he sat up in the bed and said "Which is why I need you".

Thereon, both villains bursted out into insane laughter and Jerome said "Ah, you get it. But when we're done, the world out there that'll be the asylum. What do you say?". Oswald smiled at Valeska and thanked him for the kind offer, but then sat down in front of his desk to continue penning his letter to Ed and told Jerome that he does not expect to be here very long. Behind Cobblepot, Jerome got up and sneaked up on him. Valeska softly grabbed Oswald's shoulders and spoke right into Penguin's ear. He said "You'll come around. They always do." before letting go of Oswald's shoulders. Jerome picked up some dirt from Cobblepot's prison uniform and dropped it on the floor, then turned around and started whistling while leaving the prison cell. Oswald watched as Jerome walked down the corridor and then said "Nope" when Valeska was far enough away so he couldn't hear it. Right then, an inmate collecting letters from all the prisoners came to the cell, whereon Penguin got up from his chair, sealed his letter and added it to the pile of other letters already collected.

Jerome later collaborated with Jonathan Crane and Jervis Tetchwhere they escaped from Arkham Asylum and released the other inmates as a diversion. While Jervis Tetch kept the police busy, Jerome went to confront his uncle Zachary Trumble where he needed some information out of him. Zachary prepared three soups where one will be for Jerome, one will be for Zachary, and the other one turned out to be for Lunkhead who showed up to help Zachary after he spilled some soup on Jerome. When Bruce showed up, Lunkhead attacked Bruce while Jerome started to use bleach to force-feed into Zachary. Zachary got out of it by writing down the address that he was looking for. Jerome thanked his uncle and killed him. Just then, Selina Kyle showed up wanting to do away with Jerome only for her to be thwarted by Bruce. Jerome then escapes while Bruce finds the written address to St. Ignatius which he calls Gordon about.

Later that night, Jerome got a new suit and met with Scarecrow who brew his fear toxin whilst Mad Hatter kept the police distracted by hypnotizing various citizens of Gotham. Tetch was eventually captured by the GCPD and his mouth covered with a mask that prevented him from putting others under his spell. At night, a prison van was meant to transport Jervis, the driver equipped with ear defenders. However, Scarecrow and Jerome attacked the prison transporter to the delight of Jervis. When the driver left the van, Crane sprayed him with the fear toxin, causing the man to scream and run away. Jerome and Jonathan then opened the doors, Valeska asking Jervis how he likes the new threads, whereon Hatter began to nod strongly. While Scarecrow showed Jervis a new coat and top hat he got for him, Valeska said "Oh, speechless, I know" before removing the mask that covered Mad Hatter's mouth.

Crane then began unlocking the handcuffs whilst saying "You look a fright, Mr. Tetch", whereon Jervis responded "Somewhat lame, my dear Mr. Crane. But I do confess pure joy in besting Jimmy boy with our ploy.". While Tetch began to laugh, Jerome told him that he did a great job keeping Gordon occupied, meanwhile, Crane got his fear gas and Jerome got his information, so everything is going according to his plan. Valeska then said "But, no time to palaver, gentlemen. We have fish to fry. And by fish, I mean faces, or feet. Ah, something fun to fry.". While Jervis took a look at his new top hat and put it on, Jerome jumped out of the van and said "buckle up" before closing the doors in front of Crane and Tetch. Valeska then bounced around the transporter, yelling "All aboard!" while knocking on the van. Jerome then put himself behind the wheel and said "Oh, I'm coming.", before he began to laugh madly, whereon the stolen prison van vanished into the night.

hortly after, Jerome tracked down more of Gotham City's most dangerous villains in order to recruit them for his terrorist organization, assembling Victor Fries and Bridgit Pike as well as fellow escaped Arkham inmates Jervis Tetch, Scarecrow and Oswald Cobblepot in one great Legion of Horribles. Jerome then took the whole Legion to the Falcone Mansion, much to Penguin's dislike. Valeska had his followers from the asylum serve food and drinks to the guests, as he himself officially welcomed all of them to their first ever mandatory brunch meeting. He then gave an answer to the question everyone waited for, the reason for the gathering of this Legion of Horribles, as he calls the group. Noticing that this name has a nice ring to it, he orders one of his servants to write it down. Jerome begins explaining that he came up with a plan to turn the city into a madhouse back when he was in Arkham and that he is now at the cusp of making that happen, however he still needs help from all of them.

Thereupon, Mr. Freeze raised his arm, but Valeska commanded him to put all questions on ice until the end, before Jerome turned to Oswald, thanking him for doing his part in hosting them today. Cobblepot then responded that he would do anything for an old friend in a sarcastic tone, leading to Jerome asking Crane for the progress concerning Scarecrow's secret work. Next, Valeska calls Freeze an "ice man" and gives him the task of finding a big laboratory, since Victor is a man of science. He now turned back to the whole group and explained that all they need is Tetch to return with some very important information, but then started shouting at Carl, one of the servants from Arkham, ordering him to use the tongs to lay down the food. However, Firefly next accused him of still being silent about how he plans to take over the underworld, but Jerome stated that this is not his goal, instead he sees himself as an artist who just wants to paint the town crazy. Once that happens he could care less how the other members of the Legion of Horribles rip the city apart. Even though Bridgit seemed very euphoric for this proposal, Valeska explained that it is too early and nothing can happen until they have their one last essential ingredient, the one thing that will tie it all together. Right then, Jervis Tetch entered the Falcone Mansion and came into the dining room, leading to Jerome asking Jervis to sit down and join their conversation by pointing at the empty chair next to him.  

After forming the Legion of Horribles, Jerome finally tracked down his brother Jeremiah Valeska. After  

being placed in a labyrinth by Jeremiah and Ecco, Jerome finds his way towards the exit and thus his brother. Jeremiah asks Jerome how did he find his way through the maze to which Jerome tells him that even though they don't look the same, they think the same and that Jeremiah drew mazes all the time when he was a kid. Jerome then accuses Jeremiah of fabricating everything Jeremiah accused Jerome of doing to him when they were kids. Jerome finally tells Jeremiah that he is gonna kill him however he will first drive Jeremiah insane. Tetch and Crane soon come running with Gordon and Bullock behind them. Jerome soon escapes as well. Back at their hideout, Jerome kills a man and Crane and Tetch bring a business man as a test subject for Jerome's plan. Penguin has also brought [Grundy|Solomon Grundy] who he states will make a great edition to the team. Jerome then has Crane spray a gas at the business man. The coughing from the man soon turns into manic laughter and Jerome exclaims they're gonna need a lot more the gas while the man's mouth begins to expand and blood begins coming from his eyes as his laughter turns into a final scream. Jerome Valeska's next plan was to abduct Interim Mayor Holden Pritchard, Commissioner Reynolds, Archbishop McGregor, Gertrude Haverstock, and Gloria Bainbridge. At night, the Legion of Horribles went to the Gotham City Hall where Mr. Freeze and Mad Hatter captured the mayor and the other members of Gotham's high society present. They took them to a van standing outside on the street, in which the other villains were waiting. Pritchard was still trying to convince Victor and Tetch to let them go, promising that he will double whatever they expect as ransom. Right then, the mayor saw Jerome Valeska standing in the van, who was scratched his nose unimpressed by these events and then smiled at the horrified mayor while Jervis handcuffed Holden to a metal rod. Upon noticing Valeska, Pritchard revealed that he has access to the police pension fund. Seemingly pensive, Jerome turned around and said "Wow, that could be a lot of money. Tempting, but, uh no, thanks.". Thereon, the mayor turned to Firefly who was standing next to Penguin a few steps away from Valeska. Pritchard said "Bridgit, isn't it? I can get you safe passage from the city, money, a new home...", but Firefly smiled and responded that it was people like him that locked her up in Indian Hill, and thanks to that, there is no Bridgit anymore. Pritchard immediately turned to Tetch and called him "son", promising that he can get him a pardon and that all will be forgiven, he just needs to stop this "lunatic". However, Hatter said that "lunatic" is a little harsh, he prefers "visionary". The mayor then turned to Penguin, who was standing in the corner obviously not very happy about Jerome's plan. Pritchard asked Oswald if he can't do something, but Cobblepot put on a forced smile and said "Afraid not. I am with Mr. Valeska 100%.". As none of the villains were open for negotiations, Pritchard yelled that every cop in Gotham City will be looking for them, and when they find them, they should expect no mercy, just a hail of bullets. Jerome then started adjusting the mayor's tie and said "So serious. That's why your approval ratings are so low. Hey, tell you what. Try threatening me again, but this time, try it with a smile." When the mayor didn't start smiling, Valeska hugged Oswald with one arm and said "Aw, see, this is what's wrong. Nobody knows how to have fun anymore, right?", whereon Cobblepot nodded in agreement. However, Jerome then pointed at Scarecrow and said "But see our friend down there? Bag head? He's figured out a way to solve that.". Thereon, Crane came close to Gloria Bainbridge and used his laughing gas dispenser to spray the woman with the insanity toxin. While the gas showed his hideous effects by turning Bainbridge into a madly laughing clown, Jerome talked to the horrified members of Gotham's high society, telling them that it's time to give this city the boost it needs, time to stop taking ourselves so seriously. He then asked what Gotham has to lose, before looking at Gloria who was still laughing from the horrible gas, whereon he added "except your sanity". While Jerome bursted out into maniacal laughter to the delight of the other villains, Penguin seemed to be the only one who was disgusted by Jerome and his plan. Having Crane, Tetch, and Penguin steal a blimp and hypotize the pilot, Jerome and Bridgit Pike take over a concert and bring out the hostages. Gordon, Bullock, Lucius Fox, Bruce, and Jeremiah arrive, having been tipped off by Penguin and Bruce and Jeremiah go towards the stage.

GCPD snipers attempt to take out Jerome however Jerome's henchmen take them out. Tying up Bruce and Jeremiah, Jerome attempts to show the crowd that Jeremiah is just as crazy as Jerome. Jerome frees Jeremiah and gives him a knife and tells him to give "his best shot". Jeremiah attempts to stab Jerome however Jerome knocks him down with a single punch. Gordon has the area evacuated and he shoots Jerome in the shoulder. Bruce frees himself and knocks out Pike while Gordon goes after Jerome onto a rooftop. Jerome attempts to tell the pilot he's in position however Gordon shoots him twice and Jerome falls off the building. Dangling by his fingertips from a flagpole, Jerome stretches out a hand and dares Gordon to prove himself the good guy and save him. After a brief hesitation, Gordon reaches out his own hand to help. Jerome quickly pulls his hand back and congratulates Gordon on staying to his values and playing by the rules, but points out that because of this his legacy will outlive Gordon, because he does not play by the rules. He grants Gordon one final mocking goodbye before letting go and falling to his death, laughing to the bitter end.

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 completetly insane as Jerome's voice speaks to him in a recording coming out of the gift box, encouraging Jeremiah to be Jerome's sucessor and his ultimate revenge. Even though Jeremiah tried to fight the venom, it ultimately changed his appearance, giving his face white skin and red lips.[23] The psychological effects to his psyche were more unknown as Jeremiah would later claim that the gas had no effect on him, and that the very fact that it had been used was enough to provoke Jeremiah into showing everyone his true plans. The veracity of this claim however, was unknown, as it was in Jeremiah's interests to deny his brother as much credit as possible.

Despite Jeremiah's claims that the gas had no affect on him, Jeremiah's girlfriend Ecco appeared to think otherwise, seeing what Jerome did to Jeremiah as a gift. 

In the aftermath of Jerome's death, the Cult of Jerome was fooled into conducting a set of actions which they believed were part of Jerome's Last Will and Testament. Indeed, even the GCPD was fooled into believing Jerome was behind the whole mess as they soon came into conflict with the Cult and its machinations once more. However, it soon became clear that something else was afoot, or rather, someone. 

Jeremiah Valeska soon revealed himself as the mastermind, currying the favor of the Cult of Jerome while spitting on the memory of his brother. He revealed his plans to blow up a good part of Gotham using his modified reactors, which had now been turned into deadly bombs. His plan however ulitmately failed, and he saw it wise to kill all the members of his brother's cult who had been following him and were now in the process of criticizing his failure. 


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"
  • "That Old Corpse" (corpse)

Season 5

  • "Penguin, Our Hero" (mentioned)
  • "Ace Chemicals" (indirectly mentioned)

Behind the Scenes

This was the original character to build on the mythology of the Batman supervillain Joker. WB will not 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 a related note, Jerome when confronting Gordon at the then-recently-deceased Cicero's apartment ends up pinned to the wall by the latter while saying "I feel... anger", with the pose between the two resembling the climactic conclusion of Batman and Joker's duel 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.


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