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Villain Overview

All these years I put my trust in the system, my trust in the law. Held myself back from doing what I really wanted to do. And then I saw the truth, it's not just you that's guilty, this whole city is guilty. (Symon: S-stop! You're a police officer, for God's sake! You have to follow the law!) I don't have to do anything. I am the law! I am judge! Jury! And Executioner!
~ Barnes while killing Maxwell Symon.

Nathaniel Barnes, or the "Executioner", is a major character in the TV series Gotham. He appears as a major character in Season 2, a major protagonist-turned-antagonist in Season 3 and a mentioned antagonist in Season 4.

In the second season, he is a major character and replaces Sarah Essen as the Gotham City Police Department's commanding officer after she was killed by Maniax leader Jerome Valeska. In Season 3, Nathaniel becomes infected with the blood of Alice Tetch which causes him to become insane and release his inner hatred on criminals of Gotham. Upon realizing how good it felt to punish criminals he decided to become a serial killer to rid Gotham of its evil.

He was portrayed by Michael Chiklis, who also portrayed Vic Mackey in The Shield and Dell Toledo in American Horror Story: Freak Show.


Early life

Before Barnes becomes Captain of the GCPD, he was originally part of the marines. During a mission in the desert, Barnes and his colleagues captured three insurgents when caught in a sandstorm. Without visibility they were involved in a shootout, simultaneously, one of their prisoners, a child with his hands tied, tried to escape. Barnes immediately jumped on him, putting his gun in his mouth and shot without thinking. For years he was tormented by the memory until it made peace with him and he came to accept that it was just a man who acted unpredictably to the situation.

After hearing of Sarah Essen's unfortunate demise, Nathaniel took the stand to become the new commanding officer. Barnes' first order of business was to fire every cop with known corrupted histories. Barnes took a liking to Detective Jim Gordon's moral compass and recruited him to be part of a Strike force team, with police officers who've just graduated from the academy since they're minds haven't been corrupted by Gotham's corruption.

Conflict with Gordon

While both Barnes and Gordon had similar views in making Gotham safe again, Gordon's methods were questionable in Barnes' opinion. Barnes believed that criminals should be properly put away by the book, but Gordon believed that one could bend the law as criminals have now manipulated the system to their advantage and were legally untouchable. Barnes and Gordon's father-son relationship was greatly compromised when trying to stop Mayor Theo Galavan. Jim realized how corrupt Galavan was after Oswald Cobblepot tried to kill him for killing his mother. Barnes admitted that although Galavan was guilty, it would be impossible to prove it as they had no solid leads.

The GCPD finally covered a solid lead when they found the previous mayor, Aubrey James who claims that Galavan had kidnapped him to take his spot as mayor. Unfortunately, upon Galavan's prosecution, Aubrey recanted his statement and claimed it was Cobblepot that kidnapped him and told him to blame it on Galavan. Upon hearing Galavan's release, Gordon became infuriated and yelled that he would get the former, casing two police officers to escort Gordon out of the courtroom. When the two cops are found dead and Jim is nowhere to be found, Barnes places a wanted list out on Gordon. Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox arrive to the GCPD to report that Bruce Wane is missing and Galavan is the obvious person to kidnap him as he wants Wayne Enterprises. Despite knowing that Galavan is dirty he refuses to try to prosecute him again without solid proof as they were unsuccessful the first time they tried to put Galavan away. Fox returns to the GCPD to tell Barnes that Gordon is at Galavan's residence. Upon finding a handcuffed Galavan with Gordon holding his Gun to Galavan's head, Barnes and officer Vargas step into the room and tell Gordon to put his gun down. As Jim lowers his gun, Cobblepot and his associates step into the room and knock both Vargas and Barnes out. Hours later, Galavan is found dead and Barnes is now left unclear about whether or not the person he treated like a son has killed a person in cold blood.

A month later, appears to give his testimony to led by Harvey Dent and Captain Barnes to clarify his actions on the night Galavan was killed. Gordon claims that he wasn't involved in Galavan's killing and Cobblepot probably murdered him stating that after he knocked Barnes out he took Galavan and outran Gordon. Although doubtful of Gordon's testimony, Barnes decides to go against his better judgement and chooses to believe that Gordon is innocent. Barnes becomes more suspicious of Jim when an eyewitness steps forward claiming that he saw Gordon kill Galavan. After receiving a message from Officer Pinkney that Gordon may be a threat, he enters Pinkney's apartment with the first thing he sees is Pinkney's corpse being stood over by Gordon. Barnes finds a form revealing that Pinkney was the eyewitness and Jim killed the former to stay out of jail and sends him to Blackgate Penitentiary. Gordon is later found innocent when it was proven that Pinkney's murder was a set up by Edward Nygma. Although free, Jim decides not to return to the GCPD just yet and slowly turns into more of a disappointment in Barnes eyes.

Birth of the Executioner

Gordon brings in Alice Tetch, a woman whose blood will corrupt the mental stability of a human being to the GCPD. She is the sister of an unstable hypnotist known as Jervis Tetch who wanted his hands on Alice. In Barnes' office Barnes shows genuine concern for Gordon who appears not to be in the right place and asks him to open up. Gordon admits that Tetch put him under a hypnotic spell during a confrontation, and that he has been feeling suicidal tenancies. Barnes decides to allow Gordon to speak with Alice and get information on her brother. But during this Tetch launches an assault on the precinct with the help of luchador wrestlers, The terrible Tweeds in a bid to abduct her. This ends up being successful as Tetch escapes with two of the Tweeds and his sister. Gordon attempts to stop them, but Tetch uses the hypnotic spell to force Gordon to place a gun to his head, which forces Barnes to knock him unconscious with his cane. Barnes has Gordon placed on suicide watch and gets him transferred to another facility, but Bullock helps him escape by bribing the driver so they can go after Tetch and rescue Alice. Despite Gordon managing to break the spell during their confrontation with Tetch at an abandoned amusement park, Alice ends up dead during a struggle with her brother after being impaled on a spike. When Barnes investigates the crime scene, a drop of Alice's blood drips and falls into his eye, infecting him.

After realizing that he's been infected with the Tetch virus, Barnes becomes increasingly worried about what will happen to him and gathers more information on what happens the virus' victims, but keeps his own infection a secret from everyone. Barnes goes to Lee Thompkins for more information on Alice's blood. Lee tells Barnes that during an experiment with three rats, tests resulted in the rats have increased strength and stamina, but the study ended after one of the rats went mentally insane and chewed his way out of his own cage and killed the other two rats. Barnes questioned why one of the rats became corrupted when the others didn't and Lee explains that either the rats didn't have a chance to show symptoms or they were immune to the virus' effects since it's common for a person to live with a disease without any adverse effect. Later that day, Barnes exhibits enhanced strength and healing when he no longer needs his cane to walk anymore. As the virus inside grows, Barnes becomes more infuriated with the criminal scum of Gotham and comes to the point where he almost beats them to death while in interrogation. When Jervis Tetch holds everyone at the Founder's Dinner and attempts to make them drink Alice's tainted blood, the GCPD quickly come to the rescue. Barnes tackles Jervis to the ground and furtherly beats him. Upon seeing Barnes veins reshape, Jervis realizes that he is being affected by Tetch's blood and laughs on how fun it will be when Barnes turns. Jim arrives to the GCPD and meets Barnes. Jim tells Barnes that he now wants to return to his job as a detective in order to keep a previous promise made. Barnes accepts Jim's choice, saying that both he and the GCPD need Jim to be b their side.

While Barnes tries the best of his ability to conquer the urges driven by Alice's blood, he is driven to his boiling point when he sees a bloodied man driving away in his van. Barnes follows the man to an abandoned building and plans to arrest him until he sees the man pouring acid on a severed corpse. The man explains that he wasn't the killer and that his only job was to dispose of the bodies and tells him that his boss, Toad was the one who tasked him with disposing the body. Although Barnes would normally arrest him and let the law take it's course whether or not it would eat away at him, he refuses to let the man go scot free. As the man cries for Barnes to simply arrest him like a usual cop would, these pleas go unanswered as Barnes uses his enhanced strength to rip the man's head off. The next day Jim and Bullock find the corpse of Paulie Pennies, the same man that Barnes had killed. At Arkham, Barnes visits Tetch. Barnes wants to know how to get rid of the virus inside him but Tetch asks something in return. Tetch offers to reveal everything he knows about the virus but before, Barnes has to tell him which aspect of Barnes was affected by Alice's blood. Barnes tells Tetch that Alice's blood has brought out his pure rage for guilty criminals. In return, Barnes is told by Tetch that there is no cure for it and joking says, "You give in and let my sister win". Barnes is unpleased by Tetch's answer and grabs him by the throat. Tetch informs Barnes that as the virus progresses, Barnes will begin to hear "voices" whispering in his head. Tetch tells Barnes that eventually the voices will show him what the world really is and that every aspect of "Captain Barnes" will be wiped out to make room for Alice. Barnes refuses to believe this and swears that he will make things right.

In a report it says that the John Doe Pennies was trying to get rid of had his face cut off before the acid, Barnes decides to investigate in the John Doe's killing, starting with the lead on Toad in order to redeem himself for killing Pennies. Barnes find Toad in a local bar and begins to interrogate him. When Toad becomes hostile, Barnes easily beats down Toad's henchman, he pushes Toad down on a pool table, threatening him with a broken beer bottle. Toad tells Barnes that his gang were only responsible for getting rid of the bodies and that the one doing the killing was plastic surgeon, Dr. Symon who cut people's faces off to give criminals a new identity. As Alice's blood thickens, Barnes tells Toad that he is guilty, but snaps back to sense when he remembers that he's trying to settle things the right way. Toad gives Barnes the location where Symon kills people and manages to save a woman from being cut by Symon. Before Barnes arrests Symon, he sees a severed face in Symon's lab. Barnes demands to know how many Symon has killed, but the doctor invokes his right to an attorney. Just as Tetch described, Barnes begins to hear voices screaming "guilty" in his head and knocks Symon to the ground with his gunpoint at the doctor's head. Barnes manages to fight his inner demons and takes him to a GCPD cell presumably the face snatching spree.

Now bringing justice to Symon's previous victims, he decides to bring justice for Paulie Pennies and plans to turn himself in. Before revealing himself as the killer, Barnes decides to go to Lee's engagement party, but upon celebrating, he finds Symon who managed to pay off the victim to stay quiet and is now a free man causing the voices to return. Barnes who is now sick of people like Symon using their connections to escape the legal system and follows the doctor to the bathroom. When Symon jokingly gives Barnes his plastic surgeon card, Barnes begins to ferociously beat him. Barnes now tells Symon that both he and the entire city was guilty of crime and decides to pass judgement on this guilt. Symon tries to snap Barnes out of it, saying that as a police officer he has to follow the law, only for Barnes to tell Symon that he now sees himself as not only the law, but it's judge, jury, and executioner before slamming Symon through a brick wall causing him to fall and hit a car, causing Barnes to say "sentence served". Instead of turning himself in like he had originally wanted to, Barnes instead believes that more criminals had to face the judgement and begins his new life as the Executioner.

Court of Owls

After having been incarcerated at Arkham for quite some time, Barnes is about to be transferred. While two orderlies deliver him to a van, Barnes suddenly breaks the chains holding him and attacks the orderlies, snapping the neck of one. However, when he is about to flee he is suddenly attacked by a masked assailant. Although Barnes attempts to fight back, he eventually succumbs to the tranquilizer dart the attacker used. When he regains consciousness, he is chained up again but not at Arkham; he has been delivered to the headquarter of the Court of Owls. Their apparent leader, Kathryn, welcomes Barnes and remarks that the two of them finally have the opportunity to meet each other. Barnes asks Kathryn what she wants from him and she claims that both of them share the same goal, cleansing Gotham. Barnes tells her that in that case, she could release him and Barnes would do so. However, Kathryn replies that her plan for cleansing Gotham is on a far greater scale and that in order for the plan to work, they need the virus inside of him. She tells that her scientist has been instructed not to drain Barnes completely and to Barnes' horror, the scientist is revealed to be Professor Strange.

When Kathryn learns that Gordon has betrayed them, she has Barnes brought before her once more. She claims that the Court has been betrayed by Gordon and that Barnes needs to kill him for them. Barnes agrees. He eventually tracks Jim and Bullock down to a Court warehouse where the two investigate the bomb. After a brief struggle, Barnes knocks out both of them. He takes Gordon with him but leaves the unconscious Bullock alone.

After he has delivered Gordon to Kathryn, Kathryn leaves Gordon at Barnes' mercy. Barnes starts a trial for Jim, naming himself judge, jury and executioner. He eventually comes to the conclusion that Jim is guilty and reveals that his verdict is death by beheading. Before he can bring down his blade, however, Jim states that Barnes' new masters are nothing but murderers. He reveals that they plan to unleash the Tetch virus on Gotham, which will infect both the innocent and the guilty. Barnes claims that the virus is not a weakness and that the strength and clarity coming from it are nothing but a gift. He then prepares to strike down Gordon but Gordon has one last request, he wants to wear his badge in death. Barnes agrees to it and pins the badge on Gordon, however, while he does so Gordon rips out the pin of one of the grenades Barnes has attached to his armor. Although Barnes manages to hurl the grenade away from him in time, the explosion signals the nearby GCPD squad of Jim's presence and they storm into the room. Barnes escapes by jumping out of the window.

Barnes later turns up at the precinct and sets off a gas canister which knocks out the officers. He gets into a fight with Gordon, Bullock and Alfred Pennyworth, who have Kathryn in custody at the department. During the battle Barnes gains the upper hand, but an angry Kathryn orders him to stop his "nonsense" and help her escape. Taking offense, Barnes decapitates Kathryn, which angers Alfred as she was his way of finding out where Bruce Wayne was being kept by the Court of Owls. Barnes fights Gordon, who manages to gain the upper hand by blowing off Barnes' blade wielding hand with a shotgun, and has him brought into custody. However Barnes escapes before he can be locked back up at Arkham, much to the dismay of Gordon and Bullock.

Currently, we do not know what happended to Barnes. Because none of the GCPD mentioned him since his escape, it could be assumed that he is still at large. However, given that there have been no reports about him attaching anyone, he could have been cured or moved to another city to continue his quest.


Kill count: 12

  • Unnamed prisoner - shot
  • Evan Pike - Shot dead by him and Jim Gordon
  • Two hitmen - shot
  • Paulie Pennies - decapitated
  • Maxwell Symon - thrown through wall and from large height
  • Three unnamed criminals - hung
  • Sugar - shot dead
  • Jim Gordon - attacked two times (survived)
  • One Arkham Guard - Neck broken
  • Kathryn Monroe - decapitated


Appearances for Nathaniel Barnes
  • Rise of the Villains: Strike Force
  • Rise of the Villains: Scarification
  • Rise of the Villains: By Fire
  • Rise of the Villains: Mommy's Little Monster
  • Rise of the Villains: Tonight’s the Night
  • Rise of the Villains: A Bitter Pill to Swallow
  • Rise of the Villains: The Son of Gotham
  • Rise of the Villains: Worse Than A Crime
  • Wrath of the Villains: Mr. Freeze
  • Wrath of the Villains: A Dead Man Feels No Cold
  • Wrath of the Villains: Mad Grey Dawn
  • Wrath of the Villains: Into the Woods
  • Wrath of the Villains: Pinewood
  • Wrath of the Villains: Azrael
  • Wrath of the Villains: Unleashed

Season 3

  • Mad City: Better to Reign in Hell...
  • Mad City: Burn the Witch...
  • Mad City: Look Into My Eyes
  • Mad City: New Day Rising
  • Mad City: Anything for You
  • Mad City: Follow the White Rabbit
  • Mad City: Red Queen
  • Mad City: Blood Rush
  • Mad City: The Executioner
  • Mad City: Ghosts
  • Heroes Rise: Light The Wick
  • Heroes Rise: All Will Be Judged


  • A very obscure Batman enemy named The Executioner, real name Willy Hooker, made his first and only appearance in Detective Comics #191, published January 1953. He was a vigilante who murdered wanted criminals in order to collect the reward money, which brought him into conflict with Batman and Robin. It is unclear if the producers of Gotham were inspired by this Executioner, and intended Barnes to be a revamped version of the character.
  • He shares similarities to other vigilantes from the Batman universe and media:
    • Barnes' "Executioner" persona shares similarities to "The Judge" from The New Batman Adventures, who was a third personality of the show's version of Harvey Dent. This includes Barnes hearing "guilty" over and over in his mind, and the end scene with Barnes in his cell and in a straight jacket and repeating guilty is similar to the ending of "The Judge" episode, in which Dent is also seen in a straightjacket repeating the words.
    • Barnes shares a physical resemblance to Quincy Sharp - a character appearing in the popular Batman: Arkham video game series. Both of them also wished to clean up Gotham City and appeared to work on the right side of the law, however soon turned to corruption and madness and began using methods of murder to try and accomplish their goals of "saving" the city.
    • His blade is similar to the signature weapon used by the Phantasm, the titular antagonist of the animated movie Batman: The Mask of the Phantasm. The Phantasm was also a vigilante who slayed criminals in Gotham to bring them to justice, although that characters motives were different from Barnes.
  • He is the third supporting protagonist and "good" character in Gotham to later develop into the antagonist and villain, with the first two being Barbara Kean and Edward Nygma. Coincidentally, they were all affiliated with James Gordon and initially acted as support to him before turning bad (although Barnes did start to have a somewhat frosty relationship with him later on).
  • Barnes is similar to an early Gotham antagonist Davis Lamond, AKA The Balloonman, who appeared back in the third episode of season 1. Both men were law abiding who soon lost all hope and began targeting criminals, mainly those who were repeatedly let off due to the corrupt nature of the law. Both of them also wanted Jim Gordon to join them on their quest to clean up the streets of Gotham, although he refused twice. However unlike David who did it of his own free will and showed no signs of mental illness, Barnes only went down the dark path due to being infected with Alice Tetch's tainted blood which drove him to madness.


           Gotham-5428254c4abd4.png Villains

514A | Barbara Kean | Bridgit Pike | Butch Gilzean | Carmine Falcone | Eduardo Dorrance | Edward Nygma | Fish Mooney | Hugo Strange | Ivy Pepper | Jeremiah Valeska | Jerome Valeska | Jervis Tetch | Jonathan Crane | Kathryn Monroe | Mario Calvi | Nathaniel Barnes | Nyssa al Ghul | Ms. Peabody | Oswald Cobblepot | Leslie Thompkins | Ra's al Ghul | Salvatore Maroni | Sensei | Sofia Falcone | Tabitha Galavan | Theo Galavan | The Ogre | Victor Fries | Victor Zsasz

Aaron Helzinger | Arnold Flass | Arthur Penn | Aubrey James | Basil Karlo | Dollmaker | Dwight Pollard | Ecco | Electrocutioner | Father Creel | Frankie Carbone | Gabe | Gerald Crane | Gillian Loeb | The Lady | Professor Pyg | Richard Sionis | Talon | Jane Cartwright

Eduardo Flamingo | Dorothy Duncan | Aaron Danzig | Dr. Marks | Anubis and the Hunter | Arnold Dobkins | Grace van Dahl | Gus Floyd | Billy Boy | Carlson Grey | Clyde Destro | Davis Lamond | Dick Lovecraft | Headhunter | Larissa Diaz | Magpie | Marv | Mario Pepper | "Matches" Malone | Merton | Mutant Leader | Nancy | Patti and Doug | Reed | Reginald Payne | Richard Gladwell | Ridgeback Monster | Robert Greenwood | Sampson | Sid | Sid Bunderslaw | Stan Potolsky | Sykes | Tom Dougherty | Trope | Tweaker | Tweed-Brothers | Zaardon

Court of Owls | Church of Jeremiah | Cult of Jerome | Falcone Crime Family | Gotham City Police Department | Legion of Horribles | Maniax | Monsters | The Mutants | Order of St. Dumas | Penguins | Red Hood Gang | Wayne Enterprises