I know what you're thinking. Don't worry, your questions will be answered.
From the moment of its inception, Gotham was a widely misunderstood show. For some strange reason, a lot of people expected and wanted the same routine Batman story we've been getting for decades. The concept of the series started out as a story focusing on the Gotham City Police Department and the rise of Jim Gordon to Commissioner status in the years before Bruce Wayne became Batman. That eventually grew to include other stories like the dynamics of the organized crime families as well as the origins of several other villainous and anti-hero characters from the expansive Batman mythos.
Bringing a fresh new take on this mythology was a great move. Did we really need to see ANOTHER live-action Batman story play out the exact same way all the others have in the past? No. Not in the slightest. We have plenty of those. We're getting yet another film version next year in [Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice](tag:711870). This is why all of the complaints about them introducing villains "too soon" never made sense to me. This show is and always was supposed to be a quirky and intriguing alternate take on these beloved characters, throwing a few new faces into the mix for good measure. Gotham is not a story about Batman's teenage years. It's a story about Jim Gordon, Gotham City itself and ALL of the characters that inhabit it.
[Warning: SPOILERS for Gotham Seasons 1 and 2 lie ahead. You've been warned.]
If you can accept these things, the show instantly becomes a lot of fun. By not sticking to the traditional Batman narrative, they can take the characters and world into fresh and interesting directions. They've done this especially well with the Penguin, Oswald Cobblepot, having him rise through the ranks of the mob. They gave us the story of Edward Nygma as he succumbs to his murderous, riddle-spewing personality that was hidden under the surface all along. Barbara Kean's psychotic turn made her character much more interesting than in the majority of the first season and makes her a far cry from her comic counterpart.
So, considering all the creative freedoms they have with this continuity, why not shake things up even more while they're at it? How could they do this, you may ask? Well, by having Bruce Wayne unexpectedly die, of course.
Who says that there has to be a Batman in this version of Gotham? Now, some people may think this is crazy, but it's actually not entirely insane if you dig into it. A lot of the moments throughout the series where Bruce is in danger don't really have as much emotional weight as they could, because we all know he's going to be fine and eventually become Gotham's savior. But what if he didn't turn out fine? What if he ended up seriously injured, paralyzed, or killed? Obviously it shouldn't happen when he's still so young, as that would be a bit too dark, but a little while down the line, this would be something to see.
It would certainly be a twist that absolutely nobody would see coming, and would be one of the riskiest moves the show could ever possibly make. Killing off Jerome so early was similarly risky, but this would be on an entirely different level. This is not to say that nobody would step up to become the hero of Gotham City by the end of the show. Perhaps Selina Kyle's Catwoman would eventually go on a more righteous path to fill the gap that the absence of Batman would leave? Maybe some organization like the Court of Owls will actually succeed in eliminating Bruce Wayne, leading to someone else having to put on a costume to save the deteriorating city.
Undeniably this would lead to at least some fanboy cynicism online, but what doesn't these days? If done correctly, the show could really use the death of Bruce Wayne as a stepping stone to a much more unpredictable show where anything can happen. Some aspects of the show are unpredictable already, but there's much more potential. To do this, they would have to keep things interesting with all of the other arcs and characters, or it would all fall apart.
You're going to need to spin an even more interesting web of stories to keep viewers interested with Bruce Wayne gone. You have to convince the audience that Gotham has its very own story to tell even without the forthcoming presence of Batman. The show has already laid a great groundwork for this with all of its intertwining villain characters, but to make it work without everyone's favorite bat, you need to go further with it and keep the narrative rich.
Jim Gordon is the main character of the show, but Bruce Wayne is one of the "anchors" that drives parts of the stories forward. You need to bring in characters to fill this type of role, otherwise the show will have a missing link. As cool as the villains are, we would still probably need some kind of characters to root for. But morally ambiguous characterizations could work as well. Speaking of which, Jim's arc seems to be leading towards a darker side after killing Galavan in the Fall Finale. How this will play out in the rest of the season is yet to be seen.
There are many other characters from countless Batman stories that can be adapted and twisted and mixed around within Gotham. You can really spin some interesting new stories around more new and exciting characters, while keeping a lot of our old favorites around as well. Imagine the fallout of Bruce's death after a Season Finale. There are so many narrative possibilities if they were to take this darker and riskier turn. I think this is just the kind of controversial boost this show really needs to catch more people's interest. Or, it could turn a lot of people off of the show. It would be a huge bet, for sure. But I believe this is a great opportunity we may never get again, and it should be taken full advantage of.
Does this make sense to you? What do you think? Would something like this rejuvenate the show down the line, or would it fall flat? Sound off in the comments.