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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!
~ Jerome sending a message to Gotham after orchestrating an attack on GCPD Police Headquarters.
I'm more than a man. I'm an idea - a philosophy, and I will live on in the shadows within Gotham's discontent..
~ Jerome's last words.
We all could go insane with just one bad day!
~ Jerome to his twin brother Jeremiah.
Jerome Valeska is a major antagonist in the TV series Gotham. He serves as a minor antagonist in the first season, a major antagonist in the second season, and one of the main antagonists of the third season (specifically, in the final episodes of the Mad City arc). He later becomes one of the two secondary antagonists of the fourth season (alongside Sofia Falcone), as well as the founder and leader of The Legion of Horribles. Furthermore, Jeremiah's transformation makes him one of the posthumous antagonists of season five.
He is the twin brother of Jeremiah Valeska, who is seemingly the Batman supervillain Joker, sharing similarities, appearance, and behavior to the character.
Jerome is an utterly remorseless, unpredictable, ruthless, manipulative and psychopathic boy with a deep enjoyment of wanton and needless acts of violence and chaos, committed by him and the Maniax or just in general. Unlike anything that Gotham had ever seen before, Jerome is an abnormal criminal in regards that he cares nothing about organized crime or profiteering but how he only relishes in the mindless agony of everything around him. Penguin even states how he went against how usual criminals behaved due to his chaotic, rampageous, and unreasonable methods; single-handedly, Jerome introduced the city, and perhaps even the world, an altogether different class of criminal, one that personified complete sadism, madness, and pure, unadorned evil with no distinguishable objective or reasoning, beyond simply that he could or he enjoyed doing so. His presence (even after death) tipped the scales of the kind of maniac Gotham could produce. It is heavily implied that his schizophrenic views and his vile and iniquitous behavior, even by Gotham's standards, was the result of both his horrible childhood of being abused by his mother as well as Cicero, far from comforting Jerome on his ninth birthday, telling him that no one's going to care about him. However, he did state that he killed his mother for simply nagging him.
A persuasive showman, Jerome had a theatricality to his insanity that Galavan described as being "boyishly charming". He enjoyed his time in the spotlight to the point where the rest of Gotham's criminals would operate within the shadows, he would televise his crimes for everyone to see. Whatever atrocities he would commit, one would always guarantee that there would be cameras nearby and he would do such act with a smile on his face. Cruel yet charismatic, Jerome desired to create a name for himself and a legacy that would never be forgotten, he brandished a smile when Paul Cicero claimed he would become a "curse upon Gotham". His plans were usually intricate and needlessly complex, sometimes finding the challenge of them becoming a fruition or a failure entertaining nonetheless if they succeeded or otherwise and usually showcased his cunning and ingenuity in his designs. In the mind of Jerome, sanity was only a prison that prevented everyone from seeing what they were: pointless cogs within a monogamous machine stuck between a never-ending loop. Jerome and the Maniax believed that they were free from this prison due to their different ways of thinking and acting in comparison to everyone else and encouraged others to behave like they did, although they only thought this way because they were all mentally troubled, psychotic and borderline insane.
One of his most noticeable traits was his disturbed sense of humor which was accompanied with a never-ending, manic giggling and outright laughter towards everything which fit right within Jerome's own beliefs on what was funny. He was sadistic, merciless and destructive, so he found immense joy in the idea of pain and death towards others, he smiled broadly when Richard Sionis was strangled to death and shot an injured police officer who interrupted his broadcast from the GCPD, claiming he had "no manners". Jerome demonstrated a fondness for sarcasm, using it in a sick sense such as telling his father, who was blind "long time, no see" after breaking into his house. He enjoyed his own pain as well, making him suicidal as demonstrated while playing Russian Roulette, shot himself three times in a calm manner and how he found Commissioner Essen spitting at him and headbutting him as "strangely pleasant" and laughing crazily, respectively. Even while being stabbed and killed he died with a bloody smile on his face.
Jerome had a definable relationship with most members of the Maniax. He seemed to respect Galavan for believing in him and promising to make him a star, he also nicknamed him "Sensei" but was very shocked when the latter stabbed him in the neck. He was extremely sociable, gregarious, and communicative towards Richard Sionis and Barbara Kean within Arkham Asylum, as he appeared to be friends with him and speaking for him when trying to ask Barbara for a date, although he found him being brutally murdered funny enough to grin at. He and Barbara worked together at Gotham Charity Ball and he was the one who granted her a phone call to threaten her ex-boyfriend. The most frictional relationship would be with Robert Greenwood who mocked him for his young age and prepared to fight him to lead the Maniax. Though they worked together to kill the officers with GCPD and were a part of the same team, Jerome shot him dead for stealing his line and mocked his corpse later on.
Regarding his parentage, Jerome absolutely hated his mother and father. Though he finally discovered that Paul Cicero was his birth father, Jerome initially seemed to have a low opinion of him, claiming he was "pathetic" and a "creep". Even after learning that Cicero was his birth father, Jerome merely stated "I'll be damned" in an easygoing and nonchalant manner, only shortly afterwards realizing the humor in the revelation. Cicero was also somewhat unsympathetic and insensitive towards his son and admits he was a bad father but loved him nevertheless and constantly gave him shelter and a home, even helping Jerome cover up his matricide for that reason alone. Whilst meeting with him after breaking into his house, Jerome mockingly called him "pops", "daddy", and "dad" all before killing him. His mother was his first ever victim. She was stated to be cold, abusive, defamatory, and vituperative to her son, and highly promiscuous and alcoholic, but Jerome claims that the only reason he killed her was because she asked him to do the dishes while having sex with a clown, which pushed him over the edge once too far.
Jerome is a pure psychopath, exhibiting all classic traits: a complete lack of emotion, remorse, and fear. He has no empathy for his victims and is easily angered, for example, shooting Greenwood just for stealing his line. He also has a very dark and sadistic sense of humor. Post-revival, he has proven himself to be an even more certifiable and overall darker character who wants to see himself on a much larger stage and bring out the insanity he knows so well that exists in his fellow Gotham citizens.
He is also all too delighted to forge alliances to his benefit, especially if he is able to manipulate those joining him, as he appears to do with Oswald Cobblepot after he is landed in prison.
Powers and Abilities
Explosives knowledge: Jerome managed to create a bomb powerful enough to destroy the Gotham power plant.
High pain tolerance/Masochistic Love: Having been abused as a child, Jerome has learned to withstand physical pain. Even when he staples his face back and Bruce kept punching him in his face, he smiled and stayed conscious.
Leadership: Jerome was able to lead hundreds of Gotham citizens into causing havoc and chaos in the city.
Master of Deception: Prior to revealing to true nature, he was able to trick others into thinking he was innocent of his mother's murder.
Skilled knife-thrower: Jerome is skilled at throwing knives, such as when he threw a knife into the Deputy Mayor's chest.
Skilled marksman: Jerome is skilled at using firearms.
Ruthless Cunning: Jerome shows no mercy from his victims, such as killing his own parents.
Unnamed Men - 2 run over, 1 dropped into a piranha tank
Dwight Pollard - Blown up
Unnamed Makeup Artist - Stabbed
Unnamed Follower - Shot in the back
Zach Trumble - Shot
Unnamed Board Members - 2 eviscerated with a shotgun
Carl - Shot
Unnamed Singer - Head bashed in with microphone stand
Commissioner Reynolds - Head blown off
Archbishop McGregor - Head blown off
Unnamed Yellen Shipyard Employees - 7 thrown off a roof by Maniax
Unnamed Cops - 5 shot by Maniax
Gordon: GCPD, may we speak with Lila?
Jerome: She's not here, why? What's happened? Gordon: Where is she? Jerome: Uhh.. I don't know. She was supposed to be home ages ago. Gordon: You a relative? Jerome: Her son, Jerome. Gordon: Jerome, when did you last see her? Jerome: This morning, she was here when I left for the library. Ringmaster: Relax Jerome, This gentleman is just here because Owen and Alphonse had a disagreement. Your mother's fine, gone on a spree no doubt, you know how she is. Jerome: A spree? Without her hat, and coat, and purse? Look at Shiba, she's distraught, she knows somethings wrong. Gordon: The snake does seem to be agitated.
~ Jerome's first encounter with James Gordon
Gordon: How fast does an animal like that move?
Jerome: A fast walking pace. Gordon: Let her out. Jerome: I'm sorry? Gordon: Let her out.
~ Gordon asks Jerome to let Shiba the Snake out, hoping it will lead to Lila.
Gordon: Tell me about your mother, Jerome.
Jerome: ... She's my mother.. what can I say? I love her. She's perfect, not a very good cook. Except for that. Gordon: Did she have any enemies? Someone with a grudge? Jerome: No... Gordon: Boyfriends? Jerome: No.. Gordon: No? Jerome: She had lovers, they were sex partners, really, not boyfriends. She didn't want the commitment. Gordon: Alphonse Grayson? Jerome: Yes, he was one of them. Gordon: Owen Lloyd? Jerome: Yes. Gordon: Any others? Jerome: Not that I could put a name to.. Gordon: How did you feel? About your mother's love life? Jerome: I feel fine about it. If not for my mother's love life, I wouldn't be here, would I? Sex is a healthy human activity. Gordon: Yes it is... And do you have any other family? Jerome: The circus is my family..
~ Jerome talks about his mother to Jim Gordon.
Gordon: Hi Jerome! Please, take a seat. You know Mr. Cicero from the show?
Jerome: Yes sir. Hello Mr. Cicero. Cicero: Good evening, Jerome. Jim Gordon: Do you know why you're here? Jerome: Did you find out who killed my mother? Gordon: You killed your mother, Jerome. Jerome: [stunned] Me? Gordon: You killed her up on that hill, and Mr. Cicero let you clean up in his trailer. He told you to scratch the Satanist stuff on the hatchet, and throw it off the bridge. Jerome: Sir, that's absurd, and offensive. Gordon: But it's the truth. [looking at Cicero] What I don't know is why this man risked so much to help you. I think he's your father. Jerome: You don't know what you're talking about. My father was a sea captain. Gordon: Am I wrong, Mr. Cicero? Cicero: Yes. Jerome: He was a sea captain. His name was Sven Carlson, and he died at sea. Gordon: What was the name of his ship? Jerome: He worked on a lot of different ships. Gordon: The one he went down in. Jerome: [pause] She never said. Gordon: We can do a blood test to prove I'm right. It takes only half an hour to get a foolproof result. Isn't that right, Dr. Thompkins? Lee: That's right. Gordon: Save yourself a needle. Cicero: I do hate needles. I'm sorry, Jerome. Jerome: What are you talking about? Cicero: He's right. I am your father. Jerome: No you're not! Why would you say that? Cicero: You must have suspected the truth. Jerome: You're not my father. My mother would never have...
Paul Cicero: Your mother was a cruel woman. She was often unkind to me. But she did once love me, in her way. And she loved you very much. That's why she gave you a better father.
[Jerome's sudden crying turns to laughter as he looks at Cicero with a sadistic smile on his face] Jerome: My mother was a coldhearted whore who never loved anyone, and she'd never touch a pathetic old creep like you. Cicero: All these years, do you think I was kind to you because I'm such a good man? If I wasn't your father... would I would have helped you as I have after what you did? Jerome: [pause] My father. Hmmm, I’ll be damned. That’s very funny. [laughs and makes a rimshot noise] Looks like the bitch got me with the zinger in the end. Gordon: Why did you kill your mother, Jerome? Jerome: Oh, you know how mothers are. She just... kept... pushing. And I’m like, "Fine, mom, be a whore. Be a drunken whore, even. But don't be a nagging drunken whore" ...you know? "Don't come yell at me to do the dishes, if you've been banging a clown in the next room! You know? [laughs maniacally]
~ Jerome Valeska being interrogated and revealing his true nature.
Hey Greenwood, what's the secret to good comedy? Timing. And what's courage? Grace under pressure. And... who's the boss? I'm the boss.
~ Jerome during Russian Roulette with Greenwood.
(Robert Greenwood: There's nothing more contagious than laughter.) (Jerome shoots Greenwood in the chest.) My line. There's nothing more contagious than laughter. HA! HA! HA!
~ Jerome Valeska
Well,I think it's time for tonight's first official victim, you all know and love, poor rich boy, parents murdered in an alley, and my favorite volunteer. Where is Bruce Wayne?! You know, I'm an orphan, too, Bruce. I killed my parents though! Where are you hiding? Bruce!
~ Jerome Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
Oh, and.... Dwight: Dwight. Yeah. I don't forgive you for stealing my face.
~ Jerome moments before leaving Dwight to die.
Head's still a little fuzzy. You know, I was just reborn. Last year was nothing but darkness... as far as the eye can see.
~ Jerome Valeska
I guess I'm just missing one thing then... where's my face?
~ Jerome Valeska
Buddy, you brought me back from the dead. What's a cut-off face between friends?
~ Jerome to Dwight Pollard.
Some of you may know, I died. Uh-oh. Take it from me, death is... dull. But coming back, that is something! Leave it to death to give you a whole new perspective on life. And I would like to share that with you. Tonight, Gotham, in the darkness, there are no rules. So Gotham, tonight, do what you want. Kill who you want. And when morning comes, you too shall be reborn.
~ Jerome Valeska's speech to Gotham City after being resurrected.
Sorry. The old noodle's still a little al dente post thaw. The reason I'm here is that I'm gonna kill you!
~ Valeska to Bruce Wayne.
(In a poor British Accent) Ah, not you, old chap. The Prince of Gotham deserves a public death. His butler, not so much - kill him.
~ Jerome to Alfred before leaving him to die at the hands of his henchmen.
"I have to tell you, this is way more fun than I was expecting. We make a good team, you and me." "You killed Alfred." "Is that what this is about? Yeesh. Are all rich kids this close with their butlers?" "This is about doing what's right." "You want to be a hero?! Tell you what, buddy. I'll give you a fighting chance. Let's do this mano y mano, my little conquistador. Come on... [...] Ah! What kind of hero tackles someone from behind?"
~ Jerome Valeska and Bruce Wayne, during their fight in the maze of mirrors.
What do you say pal, I'll be your best friend...
~ Jerome Valeska to Oswald Cobblepot.
You always could cook up a storm, Unc. I remember back in the circus, we used to dare each other to sneak into the chuck wagon, steal one of your cookies or two. That reminds me of my favorite meal you ever cooked. You remember that time you caught me trying to snag a snickerdoodle? Oh, that soup you made that day. Mmm, mamma mia! What was the special ingredient again? Ah, right. It was my hand. The one you dipped in a boiling pot of chicken stock! That smell, it was mouthwatering!
~ Jerome referencing his abusive childhood to his uncle Zach.
Selina, huh? Well, isn't that a nice name." "Selina..." "No, no, no, no, no. She's not that kind of girl!" "Wrong answer, freak!" "Uh, that's funny, 'cause--" [Gunshot] "Whoa, that was a close one! Oh, all right. See you crazy kids later. Ciao!"
~ Jerome, Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle's final encounter at Zach's Diner.
Now, I know what you're all thinking. Why have I gathered this legion of Horribles? That has a nice ring to it.
~ Jerome Valeska
You turned everyone I ever loved against me - MY OWN FLESH AND BLOOD!
~ Jerome Valeska to Jeremiah.
I'm more than a man, I'm an idea; a philosophy, and I will live on in the shadows within Gotham's discontent. You'll be seeing me soon. Au revoir!
~ Jerome Valeska to Jim Gordon before he dramatically falls to his second and final death.
Blind Fortune Teller
Rise of the Villains: Damned If You Do...
Rise of the Villains: Knock, Knock
Rise of the Villains: The Last Laugh
Mad City: Ghosts (corpse)
Mad City: Smile Like You Mean It
Mad City: The Gentle Art of Making Enemies
A Dark Knight: Queen Takes Knight
A Dark Knight: A Beautiful Darkness
A Dark Knight: One of My Three Soups
A Dark Knight: Mandatory Brunch Meeting
A Dark Knight: That's Entertainment
A Dark Knight: That Old Corpse (corpse)
Before the revelation that Jeremiah Valeska would become the Joker, it was speculated that Jerome Valeska would become the Joker instead, with his role in the series being used to delve into the mythology of the character. As such, there are many references and allusions to many incarnations of the Joker across the wider DC Universe.
His implied future as the Joker was also advertised in promotional materials for his debut episode. For example, the trailer mentioned that the next villain in Gotham "is no joke" before cutting to Jerome Valeska cackling, and a Twitter post for viral marketing has a looped GIF of Jerome's laughter from the trailer with the tagline "Gotham's next villain is no laughing matter."
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
In Season 3, a joker card can be seen when Cult of Jerome tries to get Jerome's corpse.
In Season 4, while in Arkham Asylum, he throws a Joker playing card at Oswald Cobblepot.
He also dresses up as a law enforcement officer similar to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight. Like that incarnation of the Joker, Jerome himself creates torture videos in order to spread his message to the city of Gotham.
His message to Gotham City about how they are all "prisoners" due to their sanity also mirrors a soliloquy made by the Joker about how insanity is the "emergency exit" in Batman: The Killing Joke.
During his return in Season 3, Jerome's disfigured face took influence from the acclaimed comics arc Batman: Death of the Family, in which the Joker returned with his hacked-off face crudely strapped back onto his skull following its removal by the Dollmaker. The main difference is that in that arc, the Joker willingly allowed for Dollmaker to do so and even engineered it, while Jerome Valeska clearly did not want his face removed. His accompanying grin also brings to mind that of Jack Nicholson's Joker from the 1989 "Batman" film.
Inspiration appears to be taken from Mark Hamill's Joker from the Batman: Animated Series, especially when broadcasting a live show which was seen in "Christmas with the Joker". Also his 'last' episode in Season 2 is titled "The Last Laugh", which is named after a Batman: Animated Series episode.
Jerome's surname, Valeska, sounds similar to "Valestra", the crime family that Joker originally worked for as a hitman before his fated encounter with Batman and transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime in The Animated Series, and more specifically the movie Mask of the Phantasm.
Like Ledger's story he gives a story about possibly being abused in the past, in a similar manner. It is implied however Jerome may actually be telling the truth.
In addition, shortly after Jerome exposes himself as a psychopath and Cicero makes clear that the only reason he helped Jerome in hiding the evidence to his matricide was because he was his son, Jerome says "My father..." in a similar tone to Heath Ledger's Joker's tone when he was about to say "My father was a drunkard and a fiend" when about to relay the first of his infamous "scar stories."
Just like Jack Nicholson's Joker Jerome first death has him with a smile on his face. This is also familiar to the Arkham video game series Joker, who before dying in Batman: Arkham City put a smile on his face.
Before Commissioner Essen dies, she remarks about how everyone will forget about him when he dies and no-one will remember him, this could be a reference to Arkham video game series Joker since he's been forgotten even with all the chaos he's spread across Gotham.
Jerome's corpse shows with blood around his lips and a grin. Coupled with his paled skin, this gives him an uncanny resemblance to the Joker.
In addition, in the morgue when it zooms up upon Jerome's face just before it cuts to the closing titles, a distinctly Joker-esque laugh can be heard in the background.
After Jerome doused a school bus with gasoline to set it on fire, Jerome grabbed onto the side of a tanker truck and joyfully laughed. Heath Ledger's Joker did something similar as joyfully showing his face out of the window of a police vehicle.
The actions were also similar to when the Joker escaped Batman after robbing the Gotham Merchants Bank in his debut scene in Batman: Arkham Origins.
Jerome and the Maniax's dousing a vehicle with people inside with gasoline and attempting to torch it before being stopped also mirrored the actions of the Joker from Batman: Under the Red Hood. Ironically, both instances also had them wasting time actually setting the passengers on fire before ultimately being foiled as a result of a temperamental lighter.
Like Jerome, Joker was responsible for murdering Sarah Essen in the comics (although in the comics she was Jim Gordon's second wife, and was killed after Bruce Wayne became Batman. Also, Jerome is clearly shown to enjoy murdering Sarah Essen, while in the comics, it is heavily implied that even the Joker was disgusted with his killing Sarah Essen.).
The Cult of Jerome may be a nod towards The Jokerz, a gang in Batman Beyond who imitate the deceased Joker and try to continue his legacy and madness.
The scene where Jerome is physically accosted by Gordon shortly after the massacre at the GCPD ("I'm sensing... Anger.") had Gordon and Jerome in a very similar pose to the climax of the fight in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns ("Not... quite how I envisioned it, but... we can still end on a high note!"), with Gordon and Jerome in the poses of Batman and Joker, respectively.
In addition, Jerome and Bruce's standoff inside the hall of mirrors attraction mirrored a similar scene in The Dark Knight Returns, where Joker also tried to shoot what seemed to be Batman, only to be shooting at his reflection, and both Bruce and Batman even managed to ambush Jerome and Joker, respectively.
Just before Jerome kills Deputy Mayor Kane via a throwing knife, he tells the audience "No one here is getting out alive", similar to how Joker told his henchmen when they were ambushed at Gotham Merchants Bank by Batman in Arkham Origins, "As your commander in chief, I have these orders for you: No one's getting out alive!"
The writers of Gotham as well as Monaghan and David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne) have stated that Jerome is not the Joker, however at the very least he will have an influence on whoever becomes the future Clown Prince of Crime, even if it may not be himself. This statement should not be taken at face value, however, as the show writers have given previous statements that turn out to be false.
Monaghan also left an intentionally ambiguous Twitter message about his statement: "I will leave you with this: A person can be not something, but also not NOT something." The implication is that nothing is stopping the possibility of Jerome becoming the Clown Prince of Crime in the future if not in the present.
Jerome Valeska worked at the same carnival as Batman's first sidekick Dick Grayson, the first Robin, before he was born.
During the Comic Con for 2015, Cameron Monaghan gatecrashed it in-character as Jerome making threats towards "Jim Gordon" (Ben McKenzie) asking about his pain tolerance. McKenzie in return got into character as Jim Gordon and told Jerome he will hunt him down.
Jerome was to be 18 years old at the time of his arrest in the first season.
If the letters in his first and last name are switched around, Jerome Valeska can spell out Joker.
Oddly enough, his parents and Jerome himself were all killed by some form of weapon outfitted with a blade.
Despite the idea of bringing in "Joker" one season in was initially scorned, Monaghan's portrayal of Jerome was acclaimed by fans, and many people were hoping for his return after being killed, which later proved true. Before it was confirmed that Cameron Monaghan would also be playing Jeremiah Valeska (the true identity of the Joker), fans were also disappointed at the prospect of Cameron Monaghan not playing the character, after producers stated Jerome would not become the Joker.
Mark Hamill himself, who is well known for voice acting the Joker in various media such as the Animated Series and the Arkham games, complimented Monaghan on his performance.
Jerome also bore a resemblance to the Spider-Man villain Carnage's human host Cletus Kasady, who coincidentally also in turn had been based in personality and to some extent physical appearance on the Joker.
Jerome is the only major antagonist from the third season not to use the Tetch virus as part of his schemes.
Jerome's second and final death is a nod to Jack Nicholson's Joker, as they both plummet dramatically to their demise. His corpse is also in the same pose, with a grin on his face.