Although the shocking passing of Heath Ledger dramatically altered how Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy would go on to end, many a person has still taken to adding their ten cents into theories regarding where it was the Clown Prince of Crime was holed up during the time Bane was liberating Gotham City.
Like, what if he didn't turn up because he simply escaped and got the hell out of Gotham, as theorized by our very own Mr. Simpson-Browne:
It's entirely possible that the Joker wasn't actually in Gotham at all - but had escaped custody, and made his way to...literally anywhere else in the world you can think of.
Which is a totally viable option in my honest opinion.
But, on my daily travels around the web, I came across a new theory dreamed up by Redditor Batfan54 that isn't just good, it's pretty legit and isn't too dissimilar to the actions of the Joker in the infamous Bat-arc The Dark Knight Returns:
What if the Joker didn't return in The Dark Knight Rises because there wasn't a Batman to play with?
Ying & Yang
Here's what Batfan54 had to say on the idea:
Besides the obvious death of Heath Ledger (RIP), The Joker never returns or is even mentioned in TDKR. This is sort of bizarre, since he set the stage for pretty much everything in TDKR (not intentionally, but still).
We don't see The Joker, we don't hear a mention of him, hell, nobody even goes over what he did to Gotham!
I think this is all because The Joker has been quiet for the 8 years between TDK and TDKR, and for one reason; Batman retired.
Batfan54 then goes on to discuss the strange camaraderie between the two costumed oddballs:
If you recall at the end of TDK, Joker mentions that Batman and himself will be opposing each other forever, the unstoppable force and the immovable object. He clearly see their "relationship" as a sort of bond, a yin-yang type deal.
This is a classic theme with Batman and The Joker if you read the comic books, the idea that The Joker needs Batman and in some sick way The Joker suggests Batman needs him.
But! Bruce retired. For the 8 years between TDK and TDKR, there was no Batman. Since there's no Batman to mess with, The Joker just lies low and doesn't cause trouble - mostly because the fun isn't there without his yang.
No Smoke Without Fire
Here's the pivotal scene from The Dark Knight to refresh your memory:
The idea of Joker wasting away as the last inmate of Arkham Asylum, as Bruce Wayne wastes away in the solitude of Wayne Manor is quite poetic, don't you think?
But while this does stand as an interesting theory, there are a couple of misty points in here that I'd like to clear up. The first being the fact that the Joker won at the end of The Dark Knight.
The Joker's objective was to get Bats to break his one rule, or at least make it look as if he did. So with the maddening and subsequent death of Harvey Dent, and Bats having to take the blame for Joker's and Dent's actions, maybe he didn't return because he was victorious, therefore finding the Bat a boring plaything.
And secondly, Bane was cleansing Gotham of its decadent filth for, what were at first, noble reasons. If Joker was involved in the incident where Blackgate was liberated, with Bane being a man of such high moral standing there would be no chance he would have a creep like the Joker anywhere near his plans.
That's just what I think, but the question remains...
What do you think?