James Gordon (Gotham)

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James Gordon
Gotham character
JG Gotham.jpg
Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, in television series Gotham.
First appearance"Pilot"
Last appearance"The Beginning..."
Created by
Based onJames Gordon
Adapted byBruno Heller
Portrayed byBen McKenzie
Full nameJames Gordon
FamilyPeter Gordon (father) †
Frank Gordon (uncle) †
SpouseLeslie Thompkins (m.2019)
ChildrenBarbara Lee Gordon (daughter)
Police career
DepartmentGotham City Police Department
Years of service2014–present

James W. Gordon is a fictional character and the main character of the Warner Bros. Television/DC Comics TV Series Gotham. He is portrayed by Ben McKenzie. He is based on the character of the same name created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, that debuted in the first panel of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939).

Fictional character biography[edit]

Season 1[edit]

Gordon is introduced as a homicide detective and Iraq War veteran who has recently been transferred to Gotham City, where he lives with his fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). As his first case, Gordon and his partner, Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) are assigned to investigate Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder. After arriving at the crime scene, he comforts the Waynes' son, Bruce (David Mazouz), who witnessed his parents' murder, promising him that he would do everything in his power to find the murderer and bring him to justice.

During his investigation, Gordon runs afoul of gangster Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), who takes him hostage. Bullock later goes searching for him, and is captured alongside him. The two are freed by Gotham's most powerful mob boss, Carmine Falcone (John Doman), who was an old friend of Gordon's deceased father. In return, Falcone asks Gordon to kill Oswald "Penguin" Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), Mooney's underling who had informed on her to the GCPD. Gordon fakes Cobbelpot's death and orders him never to come back to Gotham.[1]

After Gordon's gun is used to kill Dick Lovecraft (Al Sapienza), a corrupt billionaire, Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind) reassigns him to Arkham Asylum as a guard.[2] He is later reinstated as a homicide detective by Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb (Peter Scolari) after he captures a serial killer who had escaped from Arkham during a prison riot.[3] Gordon then blackmails Loeb into naming him the President of the Gotham City Police Union.[4] At the end of the season, he discovers that Barbara is in fact a murderer, and begins a relationship with Arkham physician Leslie "Lee" Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). He is also present during a gang war between Mooney and mob boss Sal Maroni (David Zayas), during which Mooney and Maroni are killed, Falcone retires, and Cobblepot takes control of Gotham's criminal underworld.[5]

Season 2[edit]

After the events of the first season, Gordon is demoted to patrol officer by a vengeful Loeb. He is later reinstated as a Detective after Cobblepot blackmails Loeb into retiring and appointing Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara) to replace him as Commissioner.[6]

In "Rise of the Villains: Worse Than a Crime", Gordon, upon realizing that there is a strong possibility that corrupt billionaire Theo Galavan (James Frain) will escape justice after terrorizing the city, takes him to an isolated place outside Gotham, where Cobblepot beats him mercilessly until Gordon stops him and shoots Galavan dead. In the same episode, he learns that Lee is pregnant with his child.[7] He is later framed for the murder of corrupt cop Carl Pinkley by GCPD forensics technician Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith), and he breaks his engagement to Lee, who subsequently miscarries their child. He is later broken out by Falcone, and he chooses to stay at Gotham. He exposes Nygma for the murder of both Pinkney and forensics scientist Kristin Kringle, sending him to Arkham. Gordon eventually helps defend Gotham from the monsters that Hugo Strange (B.D. Wong) has unleashed.

Season 3[edit]

After apprehending Strange, Gordon leaves Bullock in charge of the GCPD and goes off to find Lee, only to discover she has moved on to a new lover, Mario Calvi (James Carpinello), the son of Carmine Falcone. He ends up becoming a bounty hunter after he declined his reinstatement as a detective. Gordon works to hunt down a resurrected Fish Mooney in order to collect Cobblepot's bounty, although this act puts others lives at risk. After Mooney leaves Gotham, Gordon finds himself in a conflict with a crazed hypnotist named Jervis Tetch (Benedict Samuel), who blames him for the death of his sister Alice (Naian Gonzalez Norvind). This breaks up his relationship with reporter Valerie Vale (Jamie Chung) and puts him into more conflict with Lee. Tetch creates a virus that turns its victims into crazed killers and infects Calvi with it; when Calvi tries to kill Lee on their wedding day, Gordon is forced to kill him.

After rethinking his life and rejoining the GCPD, Gordon discovers that his late father was a member of the Court of Owls, a secret society that has controlled crime in Gotham for centuries, and he joins it in order to bring it down from the inside. Simultaneously, Gordon is also forced to help find an antidote for Tetch's virus as it infects dozens of people, including himself, Lee, and GCPD Captain Nathaniel Barnes (Michael Chiklis).[8] He and Lee eventually come to terms with each other after the chaos subsides, and reaffirm their love for each other before Lee leaves the city once again.[9]

Season 4[edit]

Months later, Gordon watches with growing frustration as Cobblepot pledges to control the city's crime by issuing "licenses" allowing criminals to break the law as long as they agree to his "standards". The GCPD turns a blind eye, except for Gordon, who pledges to take Cobblepot down. He restores public confidence in the police by saving Bruce from Jonathan Crane (Charlie Tahan) and going after a masked serial killer calling himself Professor Pyg (Michael Cerveris), who is killing corrupt GCPD officers. Gordon's heroics result in his being promoted to Captain of the GCPD, replacing Bullock.

Meanwhile, Don Falcone's daughter Sofia (Crystal Reed) returns to Gotham, and she and Gordon are instantly attracted to each other. However, Gordon eventually learns that Sofia pulled strings to get him promoted so she could have someone loyal to her running the GCPD. When Sofia instigates the murder of her own father, Gordon confronts her, and learns that she hired Professor Pyg to terrorize the city and give Gordon a chance to be a hero. She kills Pyg, and tells Gordon that he can ally with her or lose any chance he has of making Gotham safe. He reluctantly agrees to keep her secrets. Gordon renews his acquaintance with Lee, who is now running the Narrows with Nygma, her new lover. She helps Gordon take Sofia down by shooting her in the head, putting her in a coma. Lee prevents Nygma from killing Gordon, and Gordon tells her he wishes they could be together; Lee replies that it can never be.

Meanwhile, Gordon's old nemesis Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) threatens the entire city with Crane's madness-inducing laughing gas, leading Gordon and Bullock to pursue him into an underground lair, where they meet his twin brother, Jeremiah. Jerome escapes them and prepares to poison the entire city, but Gordon foils his plan with Cobblepot's reluctant assistance. In the ensuing struggle, Jerome falls to his death. However, Jeremiah - after being dosed with Crane's gas and driven insane - soon threatens Gotham City as well, with help from Ra's al-Ghul (Alexander Siddig). The two criminal masterminds destroy the bridges leading out of Gotham City, turning the city into an isolated "No Man's Land". After Gotham is evacuated, Gordon resolves to stay behind, along with Bruce Wayne, to protect the city from the criminals who have taken it over.

Season 5[edit]

Gordon is put in charge of the "Green Zone", the one section of Gotham that isn't controlled by criminals. To that end, he negotiates for better living conditions with government official Theresa Walker (Jaime Murray) - unaware that she is really Ra's al Ghul's daughter Nyssa, orchestrating a plan to destroy the city to avenge her father's death. She sends in Gordon's army buddy Eduardo Dorrance (Shane West), who declares the city in a state of martial law and tries to kill him. Gordon fights and severely injures Dorrance, but Nyssa saves his life and recreates him as the monstrous Bane.

When Nyssa brainwashes Nygma into perpetrating an act of terrorism, Gordon assembles a task force to stop her - which includes Cobblepot and Nygma. Meanwhile, Gordon and Barbara have a tryst that results in her pregnancy; while Gordon wants nothing to do with her, he promises to be there for their child. After he is nearly killed during a cease-fire, he realizes that he truly loves Lee, and he proposes to her. They get married at GCPD headquarters, with Bullock officiating.

When Barbara goes into labor with Gordon's child, Nyssa orders Bane to kill both her and the baby, and also tortures Gordon. He escapes, however, and leads a counter-offensive that ends when he convinces Bane's men to lay down their arms and oversees the arrest of Bane. Barbara then presents him with his newborn daughter, whom they name Barbara Lee. For his heroics, Gordon is promoted to Commissioner of the GCPD.

Ten years later, Gordon is contemplating retirement when Cobblepot kidnaps him, wanting revenge; Gordon put him in Blackgate Prison shortly after the reunification of Gotham. Gordon tells Cobblepot that he is being used - by an unseen opponent who later turns out to be Jeremiah - and escapes. Soon afterward, Jeremiah kidnaps Gordon's daughter Barbara and brings her to the Ace Chemical Company, threatening to drop her into the same vat of chemicals that disfigured him. At the last moment, however, an unseen figure saves Barbara and apprehends Jeremiah. That night, the same figure - a vigilante dressed as a person-sized bat who is secretly Bruce - apprehends Cobblepot and Nygma, and appears before Gordon and Bullock after they summon him with a signal. When Bullock asks who this figure is, Gordon smiles, and says, "A friend."


List of assignments[edit]

  • Junior Detective, GCPD Homicide (September 22, 2014 – November 24, 2014)
  • Guard, Arkham Asylum (January 5, 2015 – January 19, 2015)
  • Junior Detective, GCPD Homicide (January 19, 2015 – May 4, 2015)
  • Patrol Officer, Gotham City Police Department (September 21, 2015)
  • Detective, GCPD Homicide (September 21, 2015–Present)
  • President of the Gotham City Police Union (March 2, 2015 – May 4, 2015)
  • Captain, Gotham City Police Department (November 2017–April 18, 2019)
  • Commissioner, Gotham City Police Department (April 18, 2019–present)


  • Detective 1st Grade[1]
  • Officer[10]
  • Detective 1st Grade[3]
  • Officer[6]
  • Detective 1st Grade[6]
  • Captain[11]
  • Commissioner


  • Detective Harvey Bullock, GCPD (September 22, 2014 – May 4, 2015)
  • Officer Franks, GCPD (September 21, 2015)[6]
  • Detective Harvey Bullock, GCPD (September 28, 2015 – March 21, 2016, November 8, 2016 – November 8, 2017, March 22, 2018 – present)


In September 2013, it was reported that Fox was developing a TV series centred on James Gordon's early days as a police detective and the origin stories of various Batman villains.[12] In February 2014, McKenzie was cast as the lead character.[13] When describing his character in an interview, McKenzie stated that Gordon "is a truly honest man. The last honest man in a city full of crooked people. He's not an anti-hero, he’s a true hero – but he will have to compromise."[14]


  1. ^ a b "Pilot". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 1. September 22, 2014. Fox.
  2. ^ "Lovecraft". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 10. November 24, 2014. Fox.
  3. ^ a b "What the Little Bird Told Him". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 12. January 19, 2015. Fox.
  4. ^ "Everyone Has a Cobblepot". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 18. March 2, 2015. Fox.
  5. ^ "All Happy Families Are Alike". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 22. May 4, 2015. Fox.
  6. ^ a b c d "Damned If You Do…". Gotham. Season 2. Episode 1. September 21, 2015. Fox.
  7. ^ "Rise of the Villains: Worse Than a Crime". Gotham. Season 2. Episode 11. November 30, 2015. Fox.
  8. ^ "Heroes Rise: Pretty Hate Machine". Gotham. Season 3. Episode 20. May 29, 2017. Fox.
  9. ^ "Heroes Rise: Heavydirtysoul". Gotham. Season 3. Episode 22. June 5, 2017. Fox.
  10. ^ "A Dark Knight: Stop Hitting Yourself". Gotham. Season 4. Episode 8. November 9, 2017. Fox.
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (September 24, 2013). "Fox Nabs Gotham City Origin Drama About Commissioner Gordon From Bruno Heller & Warner Bros. TV With Series Commitment". Deadline.com. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved September 24, 2013.
  12. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 8, 2014). "Ben McKenzie To Star As James Gordon in Fox's Batman Series 'Gotham'". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  13. ^ Hibberd, James (June 12, 2014). "Ben McKenzie 'Gotham' interview". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved June 12, 2014.