Rupert Thorne is a crime boss and enemy of Batman in the DC Comics universe. Created by Steve Englehart and Walter Simonson, the character first appeared in Detective Comics #469. Thorne's appearance was based on the likeness of the actor Carroll O'Connor.
He is a recurring antagonist, along with his assistant Candace, in the TV series Batman: The Animated Series, a supporting antagonist in the 2003 movie Batman: Mystery of Batwoman, and a recurring antagonist in the TV series The Batman.
Thorne is introduced as a corrupt politician being blackmailed by Doctor Phosphorus into turning the city against Batman. After Phosphorus is defeated, Thorne persuades his fellow city councilors to declare Batman an outlaw. He attempts to gain complete control of Gotham City by becoming Mayor.
Thorne is one of three criminals who makes a bid at a secret auction for Batman's identity held by Professor Hugo Strange. He captures and tortures Strange to make him divulge it. Strange resists, however, and apparently dies in the process. Even though he has the body disposed of, Thorne is literally haunted by strange visions and sounds of Strange.
After failing in his campaign against Batman and spending some time in hiding, he secretly returns to Gotham. (Detective Comics #507, October 1981) He gets the corrupt Hamilton Hill elected as Mayor, and then has his puppet fire Police Commissioner James Gordon in favor of Peter Pauling, who is on Thorne's payroll. Thorne finally identifies Bruce Wayne as Batman after acquiring photos of him changing costume from reporter Vicki Vale. Thorne then hires Deadshot to kill Wayne. Deadshot is unsuccessful, however. Meanwhile, Thorne is still haunted by the ghost of Hugo Strange, who is revealed to have faked his death and tormented Thorne with experiments designed to simulate ghostly experiences. Thorne becomes convinced that Hill and Pauling are plotting against him and trying to drive him insane. Thorne kills Pauling but is eventually apprehended by Batman.
Thorne makes a return appearance in Detective Comics #825 (cover-dated January 2007, released November 2006). This was his first major comics appearance in decades, and his first appearance in the Post-Crisis DC universe. He is shown incarcerated in Blackgate Penitentiary when Doctor Phosphorus makes an attempt on his life, one that Batman prevents.
In other media
DC Animated Universe
Rupert Thorne appears as a recurring villain in Batman: The Animated Series voiced by the late John Vernon. He appears at several points throughout the series to virtually control Gotham's criminal underworld. Thorne first appears in the two-part episode "Two-Face", in which he was responsible for district attorney Harvey Dent's transformation into the arch-criminal Two-Face (replacing Sal Maroni). Thorne blackmails Dent with his psychological records, threatening to tell the press that the young DA suffers from multiple personality disorder unless he stops prosecuting his henchmen. Enraged, Dent "switches" into his alternate, violent personality and chases Thorne into a nearby chemical processing plant, where an explosion permanently disfigures the left side of Dent's body and leaves his evil personality in permanent control. Dent (now calling himself "Two-Face") later seeks revenge on Thorne. He first attacks fronts for Thorne's criminal activities with his gang, then steals a file with enough information to ruin the crime boss. With the help of a reluctant Batman, Two-Face succeeds in capturing Thorne, although both Thorne and Two-Face are arrested as the former DA is just barely stopped from killing Thorne.
Thorne's next appearance is in the following episode "It's Never Too Late" (which was the first episode featuring Thorne in the series' original broadcast order on Fox Kids) in which he is at war with a rival mob boss Arnold Stromwell (whom he plots to ambush and kill in a bar explosion during a parley). Batman saves Stromwell in time and persuades Stromwell to give up his life of crime and help to bring Thorne down. Thorne corners Stromwell and his estranged brother Michael and almost kills them before being knocked out by Batman and left for the police.
In "Vendetta", Batman suspects Thorne of abducting "Spider" Conway and interrogates him in his greenhouse.
In the episode "The Man who Killed Batman", the titular character Sidney Debris begs Thorne to smuggle him out of Gotham to escape from many people on both sides of the law. Sidney recounts his story which started with his role in Thorne's failed drug racket and ended with a near-fatal encounter with Joker. Thorne refuses to believe that Sidney is a victim of mere circumstance (or that stupid) and believes that he is trying to move his way into his business. Thorne prepares to kill him when Batman (who was alive all along) appears and knocks him out.
The episode "Paging The Crime Doctor" reveals that Rupert Thorne's younger brother Dr. Matthew Thorne who lost his license when he failed to file a police report on a gunshot wound he treated. While reluctantly performing medicine on gangsters without a license as the "Crime Doctor," he surgically removes a benign tumor with the help of his colleague Dr. Leslie Thompkins from Rupert's heart on the promise that his brother would use his connections to reinstate Matthew's medical license. After the surgery however, Matthew turns on Rupert when Thorne's men plot to kill Thompkins, and turns himself in to the police in the aftermath, leaving Thorne's fate in the episode unknown.
In the episode "Bane", Thorne hires Bane to assassinate Batman. Unbeknownst to Thorne, his moll Candice is conspiring with Bane to kill him as well so they can run the city's underworld. After Batman defeats Bane by severing the tubing that pumps the Venom steroids into his body, he sends the hired killer to Thorne beaten and noticeably shrunken complete with an audio recording of his treasonous conversations with Candice.
In "Second Chance," Rupert Thorne is one of the primary suspects for kidnapping Two-Face just before his operation to restore his face. Robin plans to interrogate him when trying to infiltrate his house, but is captured by Thorne's men and brought to the mob boss himself. While Thorne denies any involvement in Two-Face's capture, he sends his men to drop Robin off the bridge (though Robin breaks free and knocks the gangsters into the river).
Rupert Thorne is featured in The Batman voiced by Victor Brandt. He appears in "The Bat in the Belfry" as one of Gotham's most powerful gangsters. Batman foils one of his scams, however, and corners him on a rooftop. Thorne nearly falls to his death off the roof, but Batman saves his life before turning him and his henchmen over to the police. His criminal empire falls apart, leaving a power vacuum that is soon filled by Batman's traditional rogues gallery. He also makes a cameo in the episode "A Matter of Family". In "Rumors", he is shown to be one of the titular character's captives.
In the original script for the 1989 film Batman, written by Tom Mankiewicz, Rupert Thorne hires Joe Chill to murder Bruce Wayne's father Thomas (who is running against Thorne for city council). He was replaced by Carl Grissom.
Rupert Thorne's most major appearance in the DC animated universe continuity outside Batman: The Animated Series is the direct-to-DVD movie, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (based on The New Batman Adventures) with John Vernon reprising his role. He works with Penguin and Carlton Duquesne in an illegal arms deal with the President of Kasnia. The three are also allied with Bane, although there is no mention of Bane's previous allegiance with Thorne in "Bane". Of the three Batwomen, Thorne shares a personal history with Sonia Alcana whose life he ruined when he ordered her parents' shop burned down when she was still a child. Thorne had escaped punishment due to lack of evidence, although everyone knew he was the one behind it. In the end, Thorne is proven guilty for his role in the arms deal and sent to prison, most likely with a life sentence.
Rupert Thorne appears in the video game The Adventures of Batman & Robin (video game) for the Sega CD voiced by John Vernon. Clayface takes on Thorne's shape while the real Thorne is on vacation using the gangster's money to hire other supervillains in a plot to kill Batman.
Rupert Thorne exists in the 'Arkham' universe, as he is referenced in 'Batman: Arkham Origins' (2013). One of Engima's Datapacks is a phone conversation between Anarky and Commissioner Gordon, in which Anarky bemoans the fact that Gotham is owned by people 'like Rubert Thorne'.
Rupert Thorne plays a larger role in The Batman Strikes!, a comic book based in the continuity of the show. In one issue, he works with Bruno Mannheim to create an army of supervillains based on Bane, Man-Bat, and Firefly. Rupert Thorn, Bruno Mannheim, and their creations are defeated by Batman and Superman.