'Thugs' is a general term that refer to men under the employ of one of Gotham's many criminal masterminds. Other terms are henchmen, minions, goons, pawns or just men.
Although villains like Carmine Falcone, Sal Maroni, Gambol, the Chechen, Lau, the Scarecrow and the Joker are fully capable of a variety of destruction and corruption, there is often a heavy workload that necessitates the need for able bodied henchmen. Some serve fairly directly as hitmen, dealers, thieves or simply goons. Other serve in a more subtle fashion, offering the benefits of their education and/or position to the needs of Gotham City's crime lords.
Some are so capable that they advance through the criminal hierarchy, becoming bosses themselves. An opportunity for advancement came for Sal Maroni after Carmine's incarceration in Arkham Asylum. Others, such as the Scarecrow, seized the vacuum in Gotham's drug market after Batman firmly decimated much of the competition.
Although their numbers make these men fairly disposable to their leaders, few criminal masterminds ever achieve a position of power without capable minions.
Money remains a (if not the most) powerful driving force behind criminal behavior in Gotham City, but is its own form of loyalty. The Scarecrow's Thugs during the fight with Batman at Arkham Asylum saw themselves more as asylum guards than as minions to the Scarecrow, believing themselves useful for inserting shipments of narcotics into the city's water supply for the League of Shadows. The Joker's Thugs during the bank heist saw themselves more as equal partners then as minions to the Joker, believing themselves entitled to an equal share of the loot from the robbery. In this, they unquestionably killed each other, consolidating the shares into one lump sum which was eventually carted away by the Joker himself.
Others in the employ of Gotham's mafia include corrupt cops such as Detectives Arnold Flass, Michael Wuertz and Anna Ramirez, as well as corrupt officials such as Judge Faden and Dr. Jonathan Crane. Many of these turncoats were more interested in other favors that the mafia could do. A scene involving Faden suggested that connections to Falcone brought him the sexual interest of women. Jonathan Crane, who would later become the Scarecrow, worked a deal with Falcone to save his henchmen jail time in exchange for assisting with shipments of narcotics. Anna Ramirez however, was motivated to save her mother who was facing financial pressure from her medical condition.There are also men who work for the mafia simply out of sadistic glee. Men such as Victor Zsaz, a murderer formerly in the services of Carmine Falcone, whose brutal crimes were a basis for Jonathan Crane having the man moved to the psychiatric ward in Arkham Asylum.
Still, there were other reasons why criminals would turn to the employ of men like the Joker. Thomas Schiff was a paranoid schizophrenic who, for whatever reason, seemed more attracted to the destructive impulse that the Joker presented. Another one of the Joker's assistants, Kilson, was promised to have the "voices go away and replaced with bright lights, like Christmas." This seemingly absurd promise was fulfilled, however darkly, when the Joker planted a phone-activated bomb within his abdomen and detonated it to escape the MCU precinct with mafia accountant Lau in tow.
And not every thug is technically human. The Chechen made use of Rottweilers, their low profiles, keen senses and vicious nature surprising even Batman in the middle of combat, a fact that the Joker would note and later exploit as well.
A final factor in what may motivate a criminal to work for his boss is in the manner he was treated overall. The Joker was well known for blatantly using up his thugs, relying on Gotham's mentally impaired for fresh goons, or impressment of the existing mafia goons into his service. Carmine Falcone however, was reasonably interested in the preservation of his men. Falcone went so far as to pressure Dr. Crane into moving them into Arkham Asylum when they were sentenced, and even attempting to remove a threat to this system in the way assistant DA Rachel Dawes.
Groups and Individuals
- The Scarecrow's Thugs
- Carmine Falcone's Thugs
- The Joker's Thugs
- Sal Maroni's Thugs
- Gambol's Thugs
- The Chechen's Thugs
- Lau's Thugs
- Arnold Flass
- Michael Wuertz
- Anna Ramirez