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Villain Overview
I'm the answer to your life's questions! Without me, you're just a joke... without a punch line.
~ Jeremiah Valeska breaks down in front of Bruce Wayne shortly before falling into a vat of acidic chemicals.
We’re bound together he and I, it's the one this I knew for certain... the one one thing I knew was true.
~ Jeremiah Valeska.

Jeremiah Valeska, also known as Xander Wilde and "The Joker" in some promotional media, is one of the main villains of the TV series Gotham, acting as the one of the five main antagonists of the fourth season (alongside Ra's al Ghul, Jerome Valeska, Oswald Cobblepot, and Sofia Falcone) and one of the three main antagonists of the fifth and final season (alongside Nyssa al Ghul and The Penguin), serving as the main antagonist of the finale. He is Jerome Valeska's twin brother.

He was portrayed by Cameron Monaghan, who also portrayed Jerome Valeska in the show.

Biography

Origins

Jeremiah and Jerome were identical twins, and one day, their mother sent him away, knowing that Jerome will be evil. Jeremiah becomes a highly skilled engineer during life, and he has a proxy working for him. He also changes his identity to Xander Wilde.

Birth of the Madman

Escaping Jerome Valeska

Jeremiah later sends his proxy Ecco to capture Jerome so he can be held inside a cage. Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock ask him to hand Jerome to the GCPD, but Jeremiah refuses since he would escape and come back. Jerome, however, has the proxy hypnotized and sends her to kill Jim Gordon and Harvey and to bring Jeremiah to him. Jeremiah is taken to his brother, who confronts him with Jervis Tetch and Jonathan Crane, and tells him that he will turn insane and then die. Jim Gordon, however, starts shooting Jerome, thus chasing him away, and saving Jeremiah. Jerome still promises to come after him and get revenge before fleeing.

Insanity Unleashed

Jerome later kidnaps Jeremiah and tries again to convince him that he is mad, claiming that it's in their blood. He gives Jeremiah a knife and dares Jeremiah to kill him. Jeremiah tries to do so, but is kicked on the head by Jerome, who then tries to kill him.

Later, Jerome dies, and Jeremiah thanks Bruce Wayne, Jim and Harvey for helping him save the city. He gets a gift from The Wayne Enterprises, which actually contains one of Jerome's traps. The trap sprays laughing gas on Jeremiah, who has his apparent hidden insanity and psychopathic tendencies unleashed by Jerome. As Jeremiah's skin becomes white and his lips become red, Jerome via audio recording tells his brother to continue his legacy and go have some "fun".

Jeremiah sends Ecco to Jerome's grave, where his brother's followers were mourning his death. Ecco plays them a fake message from Jerome, telling them to dig up his body and throw a wake at the GCPD. Jeremiah later reveals to Bruce that he was building a new generator, able to control all of Gotham's sources of electricity. Arkham gave him Jerome's diary, he reads every one of his plans to cause mayhem in Gotham. He also revealed Bruce that Jerome had used the laughing gas on him, and that he now sees Jerome everywhere. Bruce offers to take Jeremiah to the graveyard, to show him that Jerome is dead.

Meanwhile, a video message is sent to the GCPD, supposedly featuring Jerome announcing his plans for his wake. The cult members storm the precinct, but the police soon take back control. Gordon travels to Jeremiah's bunker where he finds another recording, and is held at gunpoint by Ecco.

Bruce and Jeremiah arrive at the graveyard, only to find Jerome's grave dug up. Jeremiah flees, screaming that Jerome is still alive. He then questions Bruce's loyalty to him as a true friend. He then takes Bruce as a hostage, claiming to think that Bruce is actually Jerome himself. He starts fighting Bruce in the cemetery.

Gordon manages to subdue Ecco and watches the end of the video. Jerome peels off his makeup, revealing himself to be Jeremiah in disguise. He explains that the generator is also a bomb and it begins to glow red. Gordon narrowly escapes.

After a rough battle between Bruce and Jeremiah, the followers arrive, and Jeremiah reveals to Bruce his true intentions; destroying Gotham in a way that opposes Jerome and is even more insane. Jeremiah reveals that he had just been wearing a mask while his white face was actually his true face, as his skin was very pale (like Jerome). He revealed that he pretended to be "sane" just so he could gain Bruce's trust. At that moment, the bunker blows up, and Jeremiah claims that he just killed Jim Gordon. He then sarcastically called Bruce "his very best friend", and ordered the followers to dump him into the grave. He and Ecco then entered Wayne Enterprises and stole a package of generators.

Gotham Bombings

While confronting Bullock near GCPD, Jeremiah announces he has bombs hidden around Gotham City and states if Bullock were to do any harm to Jeremiah, the explosives will trigger. Jeremiah gives Bullock six hours to evacuate the city and destroys the Gotham Clock Tower to show he is telling the truth. Later, when Bruce met with Bullock, Jeremiah calls him and tells him to address Alfred, who Jeremiah had kidnapped, and warns Bruce not to tell the police as Jeremiah knows where Bruce is.

As Jeremiah enters his safehouse, he finds The Penguin, Barbara Kean, Tabitha Galavan, and Butch Gilzean waiting for him with Jongleur as a hostage. They demand an additional hour to evacuate the city and $50 million. Jeremiah calls the mayor, but overhears Oswald's plans to simply kill him and turn Jongleur over to the police, resulting him in pulling out a bazooka and killing Jongleur. Jeremiah then tells them he has changed his mind and will detonate the bombs once he is a safe distance away. Jeremiah orders them to be killed and escapes. Later when he's in another bunker, Jeremiah prepares to detonate the bombs, but then he finds out that Gordon is still alive, much to his anger and frustration. Jeremiah triggers the explosives but fails, as Bullock had disabled them in time.

The followers get angry at Jeremiah and he ultimately decides to seal them inside a chamber and set them on fire. Later, Jeremiah plans to start over when he is met by Ra's al Ghul, who explains that his destroying Gotham is not about Gotham, but about Bruce. Later, when Bruce and Selina are talking, Jeremiah unexpectedly shows up and shoots Selina in the stomach. Alfred comes in and takes down Jeremiah with Bruce comforting Selina.

No Man's Land

After being beaten to a pulp by Alfred, Jeremiah is turned over to the GCPD. He is locked up but claims that he has other bombs around the city and will only reveal them if given permission to talk to Bruce Wayne. After several failed attempts by James Gordon to get him to reveal the location of the bombs by brute force, the military steps in and hands over Bruce Wayne to Jeremiah.

Bruce and Jeremiah chat about the bombs to which Jeremiah declines to reveal their information. He also taunts Bruce about his actions against Selina. During their talk, Jeremiah also reveals that he has a partner helping him carry out his evil deeds. Bruce eventually realizes it is Ra's Al Ghul but by then it is too late. The lights flicker on and off and within an instant, Jeremiah and Bruce Wayne are nowhere to be found.

Later that day, Jeremiah, Bruce, and Ra's stand inside of a massive skyscraper overlooking Gotham. Ra's and Jeremiah explain their plan to destroy Gotham in hopes of creating a darker version of Bruce. Jeremiah specifically explains that he is aroused by the idea of mentoring Bruce's inner rage like an older brother.

However, their talk is interrupted when a massive fire fight between all the main players in Gotham breaks out. Jeremiah is also wounded in this battle but survives. The end result involves the demise of Ra's Al Ghul and the victory of Barbara Kean. However, Jeremiah's final bombs do blow up and Gotham is cut off of all means in and out of the city thus creating a no man's land. Jeremiah grins and chuckles at his work before fleeing into the dark unknown corners of the city.

The Church of Jeremiah Valeska

The Church of Jeremiah Valeska

Jeremiah remains hidden in the Grandin District while Ecco is sent out to gather followers including the newly established Church of Jeremiah. He is disappointed by the low number Ecco brings him, though she states that quality is better than quality and most do not survive the Russian Roulette initiation. He pulls her close to examine the scar from her self inflicted gun shot wound that changed her personality, praises her for setting a high standard for loyalty, and pulls her into a dance as she tells him about Bruce and Selina looking for him. Ecco leaves with the recruits, Selina gets her mask and robe, and uses it to stab Jeremiah nine times.

Jeremiah survives the stabbing and is stitched up. He lays resting while Ecco takes over his digging operation. Ecco wakes him up when they reach their destination which looks to be Wayne Manor. He enters Wayne Manor and asks his doctor if he has good news, who takes bandages off of two people who were given plastic surgery to look like Bruce Wayne's parents. Jeremiah chuckles at the result, claiming he loves family reunions and smiles wickedly.

Jeremiah later takes Alfred by surprise and kidnaps him as part of his plan. He has Jervis Tetch hypnotize Alfred, and he and Ecco make a Zorro styled movie where she helps him kill various people and then they are dumped in the Narrows. A few days later, Bruce arrives at the mansion where Jeremiah re-enacts the night Bruce’s parents were murdered. He forces Bruce to leave the manor by setting bombs that destroy it.

Jeremiah plays his Zorro film for Bruce at the theater and plans to shoot the fake parents in the ally. However, he gets word from Ecco about James Gordon and Leslie Thompkins, so he kills the lookalikes and replaces them with James and Lee, so he can kill someone close to Bruce and be bonded by hatred forever. He also plans to unleash toxic chemicals into the sky to prevent the reunification of Gotham from the mainland.

As Jeremiah is about to shoot Jim and Lee, Selina uses her whip to knock the gun from Jeremiah’s hand, and Bruce tackles him. Jeremiah gets away and yells at Ecco to activate the chemicals as they both flee. Selina and Bruce chase after them, and Jeremiah lures Bruce to Ace Chemicals where they have a brief skirmish on the walkway above a vat of chemicals. Jeremiah gets increasingly more desperate and pushes Bruce against an unstable railing, ranting about how Bruce needs him. Bruce slips away and the railing breaks, causing Jeremiah to fall into a vat of acidic chemicals, which severely disfigures him. He survives, but is reported to have no brain activity when hospitalized; and therefore, no longer a threat.

10 years later

At some point, Jeremiah does awaken from his catatonic state, but chooses to remain in Arkham and fake being catatonic since Bruce has left Gotham. Ecco infiltrates Arkham was a nurse, and takes care of Jeremiah. Ten years later, Bruce is set to return to Gotham, Jeremiah arranges for the newly built Wayne Enterprises to be destroyed by having bombs planted all over inside. As a corrupt orderly is negotiating payment for assaulting Jeremiah. Ecco enters and kills them, telling Jeremiah that their cover is blown. Jeremiah laughs and grabs Ecco’s face.

Jeremiah and Ecco show up at the Sirens club where they attack Barbara together. Jeremiah pushes Barbara into Ecco, who holds a knife to his throat. As Jeremiah monologues to Barbara about who she used to be and who he used to be. Barabra Lee Gordon throws a glass at Ecco’s head, and starts beating on Jeremiah. Jeremiah casually shoots Barbara in the leg, and picks up Barbara Lee. He turns towards Ecco and sees her bleeding profusely after being stabbed by Barbara. Jeremiah stares in shock, before saying goodbye to Ecco in his own twisted way, claiming there will never be one like her. He then shoots her dead and adds that he supposes that their are other fish in the sea. He tells Barbara to give Jim a message before knocking her out with his gun and taking Barbara Lee.

Jeremiah takes Barbara Lee to Ace Chemicals where he holds her on a rope above a vat of acid. Jim approaches him and asks Jeremiah what he wants. Jeremiah refuses to be acknowledged by that name, and Jim asks what he should call him. Jeremiah says that he doesn’t know, but feels something different. Jim asks how long he has been pretending, and why he is now making his move. Jeremiah says he was waiting for Bruce to come home, and asks if Jim knows what it is like to lose the only thing you love before dropping Barabra Lee into the chemicals. Jim catches the rope and Jeremiah stabs him in the side. Suddenly, the knife is knocked out of his hand, and Jeremiah pulls out a gun demanding the attacked show himself. He sees the intruder dressed like a bat, and recognizes him as Bruce, laughing maniacally while shooting at him. Another bat shaped boomerang impales Jeremiah’s hand and he laughs ecstatically before being struck in the head with another bat shaped boomerang and falling to the floor unconscious.

Personality

You're more sick than your brother!
~ Harvey Bullock to Jeremiah Valeska.

Even before becoming J, Jeremiah was quite the suspicious individual. Aside from being the brother of one of Gotham's most notorious criminals, even in his younger days he had a unique interest in designing plans for mazes and traps, and even Jerome claims that Jeremiah is actually crazy like himself, just too afraid to let it show. It is shown that Jeremiah had been dishonest about his brother's attempts to murder him, although he claimed that everyone knew Jerome certainly wanted to do it. He also displays a disturbingly calm manner when held at gunpoint by Gordon and lies about his past with his brother as well as keeps him contained without caring about the GCPD's consent. 

If Jeremiah was psychopathic before being exposed to toxin, he did everything he could to hide it in comparison to his brother, who felt as though his revenge on Jeremiah should be to forcefully expose his psychosis by means of laughing gas. Jeremiah would later state that while the gas caused some cosmetic changes, it had not changed his mentality, meaning that Jerome was telling the truth and he is as insane as his brother, though he continues to deny that he is insane, stating he is completing Jerome's plans in a more 'sane' manner. Jeremiah claimed that he was “at war” with his true self, implying that he didn't want to be like Jerome and tried to resist his temptations.

After Jeremiah causes the events of no man's land, he becomes more unhinged, which according to Cameron Monaghan, is due to a newfound ego from the success of his previous plan. Unlike his personality in season 4, where he never laughs, he is seen laughing to himself whilst overseeing his digging operation, and chuckling when seeing the result of Bruce Wayne's false parents.

At first Jeremiah seemed to care about Ecco as he refused to leave her behind and showed relief when he realized she was safe. Even though she had been hypnotized by Jervis Tetch, he still tried to get through to her to the point where she almost brought him straight to Jerome. After Jeremiah was driven insane and developed his obsession with Bruce; their relationship got more complicated. While he seemed to have taken a romantic interest in Ecco and trusted her to carry out his plans, he also was slightly abusive towards her, grabbing her by the throat and face roughly on two separate occasions. After she shot herself in the head to prove her loyalty to him, Jeremiah would have her manipulate the bullet inside her head of get rid of any feelings or sentimentality towards him.

When Ecco was stabbed by Barbara Kean, Jeremiah did slightly react and appear to be affected by it as he just stared at her for a few seconds with wide eyes and his mouth slightly open. He called her his dear sweet Ecco and said there will never be one like her, but it is unknown if he really meant what he said to her because after he killed her, he then said he supposes there are other fish in the sea. It is equally possible that due to how insane and evil he has become, he could easily just detach his emotions from Ecco after killing her, though he did immediately smack Barabra across the face of with a look of malice on his face, almost as if he was mad at her for stabbing Ecco, which then made him feel like he had to kill her in his twisted mind.

Quotes

Jerome wanted to turn Gotham into a madhouse. But to truly build something, you must first tear down what is already there.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne and the Cult of Jerome.
Don't compare me to that short-sighted psychopath. He just wanted to destroy things. Me... I'm a builder. I'm gonna create a new Gotham in my image, but every artist needs a blank canvas... so all of this has to go.
~ Jeremiah to Harvey Bullock.
Six hours, Detective. The clock is ticking!
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Harvey Bullock.
That is a self-perpetuating generator. It can store a phenomenal amount of energy. I would hate to be within a mile of it if it were to overload.
~ Jeremiah, reflecting on the destructive capabilities of his generators.
You're right, you know; I did fail. I didn't yet understand the vision I was servicing, but... I do now. My eyes are open, as will yours be. When you've realized I'm not bluffing, bring me Bruce Wayne.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Jim Gordon.
My brother once said all it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. Jerome gave me what I thought was the worst day of my life. But only by losing everything was I able to face what was inside me. And I believe I've seen something very special - inside of you as well. But, to free it, you'll have to lose everything and everyone you hold dear.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
Let's reach inside and dig a little deeper, shall we? Because that's the only way you're all making it out of this hole.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to his cult.
If I can't have you as a brother bonded by love, then we'll just have to be bonded by hatred.
~ Jeremiah Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
Bruce: Jeremiah! This ends, tonight!
Jeremiah: No... no, Bruce. Now it begins!
~ Jeremiah and Bruce before their final showdown at Ace Chemicals.
Oh, dear me. My sweet Ecco. No longer my echo. There will never be one like you... But, I suppose there are other fish in the sea
~ Jeremiah says to a dying Ecco before finishing her off, and then implying he’ll eventually replace her.

Killed Victims

Kill count: 25+

  • Unnamed Jerome Follower - Shot
  • Multiple Unnamed Gotham Citizens - Blown up
  • Jongleur - Blown up with Bazooka
  • At least fifteen followers - Incinerated
  • Mayor of Gotham - Blown up
  • Assassin Member - Shot
  • Two Unnamed Politicians - Blown Up
  • Sykes - Throat Slashed
  • Thomas and Martha Wayne Imposters - Shot
  • Ecco - Shot

Appearances

Season 4

  • A Dark Knight: Mandatory Brunch Meeting
  • A Dark Knight: That's Entertainment
  • A Dark Knight: That Old Corpse
  • A Dark Knight: One Bad Day
  • A Dark Knight: No Man's Land

Season 5

  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Ruin
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Pena Dura
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: 13 Stitches
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: Ace Chemicals
  • Legend of the Dark Knight: The Beginning...

Trivia

  • Jeremiah's transformation and breaking into laughter is similar to The Joker's breakdown in The Killing Joke following his transformation. He even clutches his head in a very similar way.
  • Jeremiah's motive to drive Bruce Wayne insane, and his method of doing so, is similar to how Joker tried to drive Commissioner Gordon insane after crippling his daughter.
    • Additionally, he shoots Selina Kyle in a similar manner to how the Joker shot Barbara Gordon.
  • Jeremiah is similar to Tim Drake from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, who was transformed into the new Clown Prince of Crime following the original Joker's demise in order to continue his legacy.
  • Jeremiah is the youngest version of "The Joker", being around 21-22 years old at the time of his transformation. Also, this version comes before Bruce Wayne becomes Batman.
  • This version of Joker is the fourth version to appear on television: the first was in the campy 1960s Adam West Batman television series in which he was played by Cesar Romero; the second was in one of the six Batman OnStar commercials which ran from 2000 to 2002, in which he was played by Curtis Armstrong; and the third was a cameo appearance in the 2002-2003 series Birds of Prey, in which he was played physically by Roger Stoneburner and voiced by Mark Hamill.
  • Jeremiah Valeska is the third incarnation of Joker (fourth if you count Jerome who is heavily influenced by the character) to have an established backstory and identity, with the first one being Jack Nicholson's Joker in the 1989 Batman film and the second the Martha Wayne version of the Joker from the 2011 "Flashpoint" crossover story arc, in which she was Joker in an alternative universe where Bruce Wayne was dead (having been killed by the mugger) and Thomas Wayne as Batman.
    • Make-up tests for Jeremiah's appearance in "The Beginning..." strongly resemble the Batman: Endgame and Joker interpretations of the Joker.
  • Jeremiah's Joker outfit shown by the promotional pictures bears a great resemblance to the outfit of Jack Nicholson's Joker from the 1989 Batman film.
  • Due to rights issues down to Warner Brothers wanting to reserve Joker for their major DC film projects, limitations were set on the character of Jeremiah, such as him not being able to use the name "Joker" or even have bright green hair, which was stated by actor Cameron Monaghan. Instead, Jeremiah has very dark green hair, although this makes him similar to the DC Animated Universe Joker who has the same shade of color. This decision was not received well and led to a small campaign called #LetGothamUseJoker.
  • In a post on Cameron Monaghan's Twitter account in which he made reference to the fact anyone in the show could be the Joker (in reply to fans who were not happy that Jeremiah Valeska was possibly not the Joker), he acknowledged the Jerome look-alike from the end of season 2 and referred to him as a "hinted clone" and that he could be destined to become the Joker. https://twitter.com/hc20171998/status/995795872041652225
  • Jeremiah's cold and calculating demeanor makes him similar to the Golden Age Joker and also the version from the Frank Miller comic The Dark Knight Returns, making him a contrast to the more impulsive and visibly insane Jerome.
  • While Jeremiah may have been insane prior to being sprayed by his brother's toxin, he seemed to show no bias toward Bruce Wayne or Gotham City (even though he could've saved the lives of citizens using information from Jerome's diary). This might suggest that the toxin didn't just alter Jeremiah's appearance, but also twisted his morality.
  • It is possible that Jeremiah's stories about Jerome being a psychopath as a child are fictional and purely a ploy to get sympathy from those around him.
    • This could indicate that either both brothers were normal kids and that Jeremiah was extremely paranoid about Jerome's possible future behavior, or that Jeremiah was responsible for torturing Jerome in his youth and committed many of the crimes for which he held Jerome responsible when discussing his childhood to Jim Gordon. If the latter is correct, this would make Jerome more of a sympathetic character.
    • The contradictions in Jeremiah's stories are clearly inspired by the Joker’s, who is known to change his backstory several times, most often to invoke sympathy (case in point when he lied to Harley Quinn about having an abusive childhood).
  • Jeremiah has never officially been confirmed to be the Joker and whether he is or not has been left up to fan interpretation. The writers do drop a couple of Easter eggs in the series finale for him becoming the Joker. After Jeremiah kills Ecco, he remarks that there are other fish in the sea, foreshadowing Harley Quinn. When Jeremiah refuses to be acknowledged by his name, he admits he can’t decide on what to be called. The fact that Jeremiah has to discard his own name foreshadows him possibly taking the name of the Joker.

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