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Know that I have been alive more years than you can imagine, that I have seen and done things that would shake the core of everything you believe. That I'm thought to be a demon, a saint, a ghost...
~ Ra's al Ghul revealing himself to Bruce Wayne.
Then allow me to tell you what will happen if you don't kill me. I will disappear and let you live your life. You will follow the path of light. Grow into a fine man. Become a husband. A father. There may be a day when you forget I ever existed. But then I will return. And I will kill everyone you love. Just as you watched your parents die, just as you watched me slice your friend's throat, I will slaughter your wife and children before your very eyes, and there will be nothing you can do about it.
~ Ra's al Ghul threatening Bruce Wayne.
The choice is now yours... stay Bruce Wayne, or accept your destiny. Become Gotham's Dark Knight.
~ Ra's al Ghul's last words to Bruce Wayne before his second and final death.

Ra's al Ghul is the overarching antagonist of the TV series Gotham.

He appears as one of the two unseen overarching antagonists (alongside Hugo Strange) of Season 1, the unseen overarching antagonist of Season 2, the overarching antagonist of Season 3, one of the three main antagonists (alongside Sofia Falcone and Jerome Valeska) of Season 4 and one of the two posthumous overarching antagonists (alongside Jerome Valeska) of Season 5.

He is the founder and leader of the League of Shadows who initially intended on destroying Gotham City, purging it of its entire criminal element and grooming Bruce Wayne into his heir. After meeting Bruce, he then intended on shaping Bruce Wayne into a "dark knight" that could protect the city even after his death. He is also the father of Nyssa al Ghul and the one who orchestrated most of the events of the entire series..

He was portrayed by Alexander Siddig, who also played Rao Vantika in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.


League of Shadows

At some point 2,000 years ago, Ra's was a foot soldier in an army of an Asian leader. During a battle, Ra's was killed and his body left among the hundreds of other corpses on the battlefield, but the corpse was recovered by an old man who resurrected him in the Lazarus Pit. Ra's was horrified and shocked once he learned what had happened but the man claimed that the water has given Ra's a destiny. The man explained that it is now Ra's destiny to find his heir - as the man had found his - in order to be free. With this advise, the man also handed Ra's an ancient dagger.

Ra's has lived beyond the life span of any mortal human, as he is able to be resurrected by the mysterious Lazarus Pit. Whilst being bathed in the Lazarus Pit he had a vision of Bruce Wayne, his heir.

Although he is not seen in person for most of the time, his influence can be felt all over the third season. Ra's is the master of the Sensei and thus responsible for the actions of the Court of Owls. Using the Court as pawns, Ra's has prepared Gotham for destruction. Having manufactured a weapon from the toxic blood of Alice Tetch, Ra's has tasked his disciples at the Court with deploying the bomb into the heart of Gotham City so that its inhabitants will be affected by the virus. The people of Gotham will be driven mad by the virus and rip themselves and the city apart.

In addition to the manufacturing of the weapon, the Sensi is also indoctrinating a young Bruce Wayne. He seems to be of the opinion that Bruce will emerge from the chaos in Gotham as a dark hero. Bruce is successfully brainwashed and is loyal to the Sensei. After the Court has served its purpose, the Sensei kills the members of the Court and detonates the Tetch virus bomb. Although the bomb is successfully activated, fulfilling Ra's' plans, the Sensei is killed. While he lies dying, the Sensei tells Bruce to head to the Yuyan Building and seek out the Demon's head in order to fulfill his destiny.

Revealing Himself to Bruce Wayne

This man is your past, Bruce. Now embrace your future! Kill him... Join me... Fulfill your destiny!
~ Ra's urges Bruce to kill Alfred.

During the chaos wrought in Gotham due to the virus, Bruce decides to listen to the Sensei's dying words and heads to the Yuyan building. He opens a mysterious door and arrives in an underground temple. Unbeknownst to him, he is followed by Alfred.

In the building, Bruce is confronted by a group of Ra's' hooded followers who direct him to a room at the end of the corridor. Inside this room, Bruce finds a basin with a shining, green liquid. As he moves to touch it, a voice from the shadows advises him not to touch it. Bruce is surprised that the voice knows his name but Ra's reveals that he was the one who told the Sensei to send Bruce to him. Bruce reveals that the Sensei is dead but Ra's replies that the Sensei died after fulfilling his mission - the Court is destroyed, Gotham burns and Bruce has come. Bruce states that the Sensei told him to find the Demon's head. Ra's replies that he is the Demon's head, introducing himself as Ra's al Ghul.

Ra's reveals himself to Bruce.

Ra's asks Bruce why he has come and Bruce states that the Sensei told him that Ra's would complete his training. Ra's asks whether the Sensei also told Bruce who Ra's is and what his intentions are and Bruce admits that he didn't. Bruce states that he is ready and Ra's questions it as Bruce was not the one to press the trigger to unleash the virus onto the city. Bruce claims that he would have pressed the trigger but that Alfred distracted him. Ra's feigns understanding and claims that Bruce will have another chance to prove himself. At that moment, two of his followers drag a captured Alfred into the room. When Alfred insults him, Ra's strikes him across the face. He then orders his followers to leave the room. He draws a sword and hands it to Bruce. Claiming that Alfred is his past and urging him to embrace his future, Ra's tells Bruce to kill Alfred. Bruce takes the sword from Ra's but Alfred appeals to Bruce's memories and the love he received from Alfred and his parents. Despite Alfred's best efforts, Bruce runs him through with the sword.

However, Bruce immediately realizes what he has done; Alfred's attempts managed to help him break his conditioning. Realizing this, Ra's laughs and states it is impressive that Bruce managed to break the conditioning. Bruce furiously screams that Ra's does not control him anymore and that he will never be his heir. Ra's states that on the contrary, Bruce has proven that he is strong enough to become Ra's heir, as the prophecy has foretold. He advises Bruce to "use the waters" and then leaves without a trace. By using the waters of the Lazarus Pit, Bruce manages to revive Alfred.

Watching Over Bruce

At some point in the span of the next five months, Ra's resurrects the dead Barbara Kean by means of the Lazarus Pit. He continues to work with Barbara as her secret benefactor, setting her up with an arms deal operation in Gotham. While Ra's also becomes Barbara's lover, it is not yet revealed whether he truly loves her or merely uses her - the latter being more likely. Ra's also orders Barbara to obtain the dagger able to kill him, which is being sold in an auction by Oswald Cobblepot.

When Bruce starts fighting criminals in Gotham as a vigilante at night, Ra's secretly follows him and watches his progress.

Obtaining the Dagger

Well done, Bruce! You're finally beginning to see things clearly. The question is, are you strong enough?
~ Ra's kills Alex Winthrop.

After the auction in which Barbara was supposed to obtain the dagger, Ra's visits her at her store. When Barbara realizes that someone is behind her, she attacks and defeats him briefly before he frees himself and defeats Barbara. He asks whether she has the knife and Barbara admits that she hasn't; it is in possession of Bruce Wayne. Ra's is surprised and reveals that when he bathed her in the Lazarus Pit, he did it knowing that she would become a competent ally. He claims that thus far, she has done a great job. Barbara claims that he shouldn't worry about the knife as it didn't seem that special to her. Ra's replies that she couldn't be more wrong, as the knife is the key to everything. The two then kiss.

Ra's kills Niles Winthrop.

In order to find out why Ra's is after the knife, Bruce gives it to historian Niles Winthrop for testing. Winthrop asks that Bruce leaves the knife with him overnight and Bruce reluctantly agrees. While Niles learns that the knife is the only thing that can kill Ra's al Ghul and tells his grandson Alex, a knock on the door. Niles sends Alex into his office with the knife. Niles then opens the door and stands in front of Ra's al Ghul himself. Ra's wants to know where the knife is but Niles does not tell him anything. An alarm bell then rings and before escaping, Ra's snaps Winthrop's neck. Ra's then returns to Barbara who informs him that his "guests" have arrived. The guests are revealed to be a duo of monstrous killers. After Niles has been found dead and Alex has gone missing, Bruce Wayne reveals to Jim Gordon that he believes Ra's al Ghul to be behind all of the chaos. He also reveals that Ra's was the real leader of the Court of Owls.

When Gordon returns to the GCPD to start the search for Ra's al Ghul, he is suddenly approached by none other than Ra's al Ghul himself. Ra's introduces himself to the stunned Gordon and claims to be the Minister of Antiquities for the consulate of Nanda Parbat. Gordon welcomes him and asks him whether he is correct in believing that Nanda Parbat is located in the Himalayas. Ra's confirms this and claims that few in the United States have even heard of his country. Gordon invites Ra's into the captain's office and plans to trick Ra's into believing that Alex Winthrop no longer has the knife.

Jim joins Ra's in the office and Ra's reveals that he hired Barbara Kean to obtain a certain item that is cultural patrimony of the people of Nanda Parbat. Gordon asks why Ra's then didn't bid on the knife himself and Ra's claims that there are several competing claims which could have been alarmed had Nanda Parbat given a bid officially. Ra's claims that he has come to press his claim in behalf of his government and asks Gordon to return the knife to him. Gordon wants to know how exactly the knife is important to Nanda Parbat and Ra's reveals that there is an ancient story in his country about a man who could not die, a man who raised a powerful kingdom and then left without a trace, claiming that he would someday return. According to the legend, the knife is required for said return but Ra's tells Gordon that it is only a story - a story which is important to the people of Nanda Parbat nonetheless. After having heard the story, Gordon replies that his main concern is Alex Winthrop, grandson of the curator. Ra's replies that the boy should be safe if he didn't see anything. Ra's then asks whether Gordon would show him the knife but before Gordon can react, Alfred Pennyworth enters the room.

Ra's kills Alex Winthrop.

Having come to find out where Bruce - whom Gordon left with Alex Winthrop to get the knife - is, Alfred immediately attacks Ra's once he recognizes him. Jim shoves Alfred out of the room and tells him to calm down. When the men turn, they find that in this split second, Ra's has searched the room for the knife and then left without a trace. As Ra's now knows that the GCPD doesn't have the knife, Alex and Bruce are in grave danger.

Meanwhile, Bruce and Alex have returned to the museum where Alex hands Bruce the knife back. While they are there, Ra's guests attack once more. Eventually, Jim Gordon arrives there as well and together, he and Bruce manage to kill both attackers. However, when the two turn around they find that Ra's is inside the museum and is holding a knife to Alex' throat. Ra's demands the knife and promises to let Alex go in return. Gordon is ready to accept this demand but Bruce refuses, claiming that Ra's cannot have the knife, even if he kills Alex. Ra's compliments Bruce on this decision and claims that Bruce is finally making the right decisions. Ra's then slits Alex' throat and claims that the question is whether Bruce is strong enough to live with the consequences. After murdering Alex, Ra's surrenders to Gordon and is arrested and sent to Blackgate Prison.

Stay at Blackgate and Death

Gordon is told by Harper that Judge Bam Bam's clerk called stating that Ra's al Ghul's trial has been delayed while Bullock mentions that the Nanda Parbat embassy wants Ra's al Ghul extradited, which is likely to happen within the week. Meanwhile, Bruce deduces from Winthrop's findings that Ra's wants to obtain the knife in order to destroy it - as it is the only thing that can kill him. Feeling guilt for abandoning Alex to Ra's al Ghul, Bruce eventually decides that he will use the knife in order to kill Ra's.

Ra's leaves his cell.

While Ra's is being kept at Blackgate Penitentiary's maximum security wing, he is visited by Barbara. She offers to break him out the very moment but to her surprise, Ra's declines her offers. Ra's reveals that he called her to Blackgate to say goodbye. He reminds her that he revived her to be his eyes and ears in Gotham and that she has done a remarkable job. Barbara is outraged and realizes that she will now never get what Ra's promised her - a gift beyond her imagining. However, Ra's then puts his hand onto the glass window of his cell and when Barbara presses her hand onto the glass plate as well, Ra's transfers some energy into her. In awe, Barbara asks what Ra's did and Ra's reveals that she will eventually find out. When Barbara leaves, Ra's smiles menacingly.

Bruce successfully manages to scale the walls of Blackgate and infiltrate the compound. He finds the location of Ra's cell and heads there. He opens the cell of the sleeping Ra's and draws the knife, only to be attacked immediately when he decides not to kill him after all. As Bruce turns to leave, Ra's suddenly speaks and calls Bruce a weak, foolish boy. Bruce turns around to find Ra's standing behind him fully awake. Ra's beats up Bruce and throws him out of the cell, claiming that Bruce is still not ready. Suddenly, several prison guards arrive and Bruce wants them to arrest Ra's. However, the men are revealed to be Ra's disciples who replaced some of the guards. As they grab Bruce and knock him out, Ra's tells them to bring the young Wayne "below". When Alfred Pennyworth and James Gordon arrive at Blackgate in search of Bruce, one of the guards informs Ra's.

Bruce kills Ra's al Ghul.

Bruce awakes in the prison's sub-basement where Ra's reveals to them that Gordon and Alfred are upstairs in the company of his men. Bruce realizes that Ra's had planned all of this all along and had also applied for diplomatic immunity knowing that Bruce would hear about it and take action. Ra's doesn't deny it and reveals that he wanted the knife but not for the reasons Bruce believes. He reveals that during his first bath in the Lazarus Pit, Ra's saw a hallucination of Bruce as his heir. Although Bruce believes him to be insane, Ra's claims that Bruce can be the only one to end Ra's life and begs him to do exactly that.

Ra's' age catches up with him.

He reveals that he has walked this earth for centuries waiting for Bruce, for only Bruce can kill him and only the knife can do the trick. Bruce doesn't believe Ra's and believes this to be a trick, but Ra's shows him his own reflection in a puddle of water, showing an ancient, mummified being. Ra's claims that every moment of his life is agony and begs Bruce to end his suffering. However, Bruce spitefully claims that whatever Ra's curse is, he deserves it for what he did. He refuses to kill Ra's but Ra's then explains what will happen if Bruce won't kill him. Ra's threatens that he will simply disappear long enough to allow Bruce to start a new life, forget about Ra's and start a family, only to return and kill all of that and take away every happy memory Bruce has. Suddenly, Bruce turns around and stabs Ra's in the chest multiple times. In pain and surprise, Ra's stumbles backwards and opens his shirt, which reveals that he is decomposing from within, starting from the stab wounds. As Ra's sinks to the ground while his age takes up with him, he rejoices the thought of finally dying.

When Alfred and Jim arrive at the basement, having battled Ra's henchmen in the prison, they find Bruce near the mummified, skeletal remains of Ra's al Ghul. As Blackgate Penitentiary goes under lockdown, Alfred talks to the police while Jim Gordon tells Bruce that they are covering up what happened by stating that Ra's al Ghul's men infiltrated Blackgate Penitentiary and escaped with him, so Bruce will not be charged with murder. Despite this, Bruce is traumatized for having broken his vow of never killing and feels like he betrayed the memory of his parents. Believing that he is not the hero Gotham needs, Bruce refuses to be a vigilante any longer, although Alfred encourages him to try to make the journey back into the light.

After being betrayed and thrown out onto the street by Barbara, Tabitha Galavan was approached by remaining male members of the league who called Barbara "The Imposter" and used Tabitha to kidnap Bruce Wayne in order to resurrect Ra's. However, without the Demon's Head, he came back in a zombie-like state and was requested by Tabitha to take the Demon's Head from Barbara. He then went to visit her at one of his lairs, she turned around, shocked that he was alive. He asked what she had done with his gift, the Demon's Head, he was disappointed to learn that she was planning on taking over Gotham so that she would be treated like a queen. He then asked her to quickly give him back the Demon's Head but she quickly declines and the two begin to fight.

An alliance with Jeremiah and Second Death

After regaining the Demons Head from Barbra, Ra's explains he was wrong and he can't die yet. He then disappears and returns to Wayne Manor later that night and explains to Bruce that when he got the Demons Head back he saw a vision of Gotham in flames. The next day, while Jeremiah Valeska is talking to himself in his safe house, he tells Valeska that he's tenacious. The latter pulls a gun out and asks who's there. Ra's responds telling Valeska about his vision of Gotham in flames. He says that together they can make that happen. Valeska thanks him for the offer but tells him he's better off working alone and tries to shoot him, but Ra's disappears before he can. Valeska then realizes that Ra's is right behind him, with the latter saying that they both are doing this for Bruce Wayne. Valeska finally agrees to work with him, Ra's then tells Valeska to shoot Selina Kyle.

Ra’s then watched as one of Jeremiah’s bombs detonated, destroying a bit of the city. Ra’s freed Jeremiah from captivity at the GCPD, and kidnapped Bruce. Ra’s had Bruce brought to a building where they could watch the destruction as Ra’s and Jeremiah explained that the detonation Of the bombs would help Bruce fulfill his destiny. Alfred, Barbara, and Tabitha all arrived to fight Ra’s, Jeremiah, and the League. Barbara fought Ra’s in hand to hand combat. During turn fight, she got Bruce to grab the Kurdish dagger and together they drove it through Ra’s body, who complemented her on her quick thinking. Just then the bombs detonated, destroying the bridges that connected Gotham. As Bruce watched by the destruction, Ra’s grabbed Bruce shoulders and told him to fulfill his destiny and become Gotham’s Dark Knight before he crumbled into dust.

Episode appearances

Season 3

  • "Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine" (referenced)
  • "Heroes Rise: Destiny Calling"
  • "Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul"

Season 4

  • "A Dark Knight: Pax Penguina"
  • "A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks"
  • "A Dark Knight: The Demon's Head"
  • "A Dark Knight: The Blade's Path"
  • "A Dark Knight: A Beautiful Darkness" (hallucination)
  • "A Dark Knight: The Sinking Ship, The Grand Applause" (hallucination)
  • "A Dark Knight: One Of My Three Soups" (in flashback)
  • "A Dark Knight: To Our Deaths and Beyond"
  • "A Dark Knight: One Bad Day"
  • "A Dark Knight: No Man's Land"

Season 5

  • "Legend of the Dark Knight: I Am Bane" (flashback)
  • "Legend of the Dark Knight: They Did What?" (archive footage)


  • This is the third live-action version of the DC supervillain Ra's al Ghul. The first one appeared in the 2005 movie Batman Begins and the second one as the main antagonist in the third season of Arrow.
  • His plan to destroy Gotham City with a weaponized gas is similar to the plan of Ra's al Ghul from Batman Begins and Arrow. However, the Gotham version of Ra's uses a virus that gives the people inhuman strength and turns them into furious beasts while the Nolanverse Ra's used Scarecrow's fear gas in order to sow chaos in the city and the Arrowverse Ra's used a virus that instantly killed anyone who was affected by it. Curiously, Ra's predecessor as main antagonist of Arrow, Slade Wilson, also spread a drug that turned people into furious beasts with inhuman strength throughout the city.
  • Alexander Siddig was first Middle Eastern actor to play Ra's al Ghul, a Middle Eastern character.
  • This version of Ra's al Ghul was killed which makes him one of the few Batman characters to be killed off in the show before Bruce becomes the Dark Knight and it is very unlikely that he will ever come back since his second death, as he crumbled to dust and faded away for good.
    • However, as the mainstream comic books hint that Ra's al Ghul is a title rather than the name of the League of Assassins' leader, it's possible that another member of the League has taken the Ra's al Ghul title from this individual and he will be the Ra's al Ghul who will face Bruce when he becomes Batman.


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