Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska

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Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska
Gotham characters
Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska.jpg
Brothers Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska
First appearance"The Blind Fortune Teller" (Jerome)
"Mandatory Brunch Meeting" (Jeremiah)
Last appearance"That Old Corpse' (Jerome)
"The Beginning..." (Jeremiah)
Created byBruno Heller
Portrayed byCameron Monaghan
GenderMale (both)
FamilyLila Valeska (mother)†
Paul Cicero (father)†
Zachary Trumble (uncle)†
Significant otherEcco (Jeremiah)†

Jerome and Jeremiah Valeska are fictional characters appearing in the FOX television series Gotham, developed by Bruno Heller and based upon the Batman mythos originating from comic books published by DC Comics. Unable to utilize Batman's nemesis the Joker directly, the series uses precursors, or Proto-Jokers (played by Cameron Monaghan), to create a cultural lineage for the supervillain. Each adapt different characteristics of the Joker, which are intended to lead to the character's origin story later in the show's universe.

Jerome acts as a nihilistic cult leader, spreading anarchy in Gotham City until his eventual death, while Jeremiah is depicted as a more obsessive and calculating mastermind. The two characters have spawned a myriad of fanatic followers in the series, who continue their ideology. An evolved version of Jeremiah, briefly referred to as "J", appeared in the series finale set ten years later, serving as a more horrific amalgamation of both Valeska twins. The showrunners have since remained vague as to whether Jeremiah becomes the Joker later on or inspires a separate character entirely.

Early conception[edit]

In its earliest stages, Gotham was intended to stray from the superhero roots of the Batman comic books, instead opting to be a more grounded crime drama focusing on James Gordon and the origins of Gotham City's inhabitants before the emergence of costumed personas. As such, executive producer Bruno Heller didn't want to approach the backstory of Batman's nemesis the Joker until further into the series (at a point when they were more sure of themselves).[1] Believing that the Joker should not precede Batman himself, one of the earlier ideas was to implant minor characters throughout the first season who could go on to become the supervillain.[2] The first occurrence of this was the cameo of a comedian in the pilot episode.[3][4] Later into the season, Heller changed his mind and decided to more directly approach the character because he thought that American audiences would not want to wait.[5]


"The Joker didn't think of his shtick all by himself. There must have been someone before who The Joker saw and thought, 'Oh, that's a good shtick. I could work with that and make it better.'"

—Showrunner Bruno Heller[1]

With potential copyright restrictions in mind, the showrunners figured that there may have been characters that existed before the Joker that would have informed his eventual identity. Heller explained that, through the series' run, "people will see how a kind of cultural mien is created... There's a tradition in forebears and ancestors of those characters that went into creating them." He felt that the Joker would not be someone who invented himself out of nothing, and that his origin should be more interesting than an ordinary man falling into a vat of chemicals (a recurring explanation in the comics). Instead, they decided on unraveling a secret history and philosophical ancestry, which Heller likens to Jesus Christ and Elvis Presley.[6][7] The precursors to the character would become known as "Proto-Jokers".[7][8][9]

The first Proto-Joker, a character named Jerome Valeska, made his debut in the Season 1 episode "The Blind Fortune Teller" played by Cameron Monaghan. He is portrayed as the psychopathic, anarchist son of a circus performer, who murders her out of spite. He initially attempts to cover his tracks, but eventually breaks down in laughter and admits his actions to the Gotham City Police Department. He is consequently sent to Arkham Asylum.[10] The character returned for a three-episode arc at the beginning of Season 2, which had him leading a team of Arkham escapees under the guidance of the corrupt politician Theo Galavan, who wants to spread fear in his plan to become mayor. During his reign of terror, Jerome murders GCPD captain Sarah Essen and his own father. He is killed off by Galavan in the third episode, during which various characters observe his actions and begin following in his footsteps.[11] They did not wait for a finale to kill Jerome because Heller thought that audiences would respond negatively if they spent the entire season believing he was the Joker.[6] Following Jerome's death, the showrunners revealed that they were considering a female precursor to the Joker for Season 2.[12] Such a character named Jeri (played by Lori Petty) made an appearance in the episode "This Ball of Mud and Meanness",[13] running a nightclub catering to Jerome's sympathizers. This served as her sole appearance in the series.

Jerome's laugh was briefly inserted into the Season 2 finale, as a means to keep the threat of the Joker present and to tease the third season. According to executive producer Ken Woodruff, Season 3 was meant to not only further elaborate on the character's mythology, but also "characters that may or may not be the Joker" that may be "an amalgamation of what we'll come to know as the Joker." In another three-episode arc, the season details how Jerome's growing band of sympathizers had culminated into a cult bent on resurrecting him (which they accomplish), setting the stage for Season 4.[14] Jerome played a much larger role in the fourth season, described as the main antagonist of the second half by executive producer Bryan Wynbrandt.[15] Monaghan had pitched a storyline at the start of the season, which the showrunners declined but took ideas from.[16] As the arc unfolded, Jerome once again escapes incarceration and gathers a team of supervillains to spread chaos in Gotham City. Jerome is killed a second time, shortly after a second Proto-Joker debuts – his identical twin brother Jeremiah Valeska. He was introduced as a civil engineer who assists Gordon in stopping his brother. However, he becomes a villainous presence after being sprayed with chemicals developed by Jerome, causing him to undergo a Joker-like transformation.[17]

"I feel like Cameron's character, in all the iterations of the characters that he played Jerome, Jeremiah, and the new character that he plays, if he's not The Joker, then he's someone who does provide the origin story for the person who you're going to see later on."

—Showrunner John Stephens

As with Jerome, Jeremiah was not meant to be the Joker himself. Showrunner John Stephens explained that they felt that they had taken Jerome's character as far as he could go, and they wanted to develop another who would embody a different aspect of Batman's arch-foe. In contrast to his anarchistic brother, Jeremiah was a much quieter version of a lunatic that Stephens compared to Hannibal Lecter.[18] The showrunners took various characteristics of the Joker, and parsed them out, with each individual precursor representing a different element of the Joker.[7] Wynbrandt added that "Joker's so iconic that it feels like we don't want to get to [him] ever", and because Monaghan personified Jerome in a certain way, "what makes him so exciting is that he's not the Joker. He is Jerome."[19] The series was subsequently cancelled, being renewed only for a shortened final season. Jeremiah returned as a recurring character, serving as an adversary to Bruce Wayne. In a confrontation with Wayne, he is knocked into a vat of chemicals, causing him to undergo another substantial transformation that alters his psyche into becoming what Monaghan describes as a "third character".[20][21] However, although Jeremiah evolves, he does not become the Joker. Stephens explained that he becomes "amalgam of Jeremiah and Jerome that I think audiences are gonna look at and say, 'If it's not the Joker then it's definitely an antecedent that lives there.'"[22] Although he was conceived to eventually inspire a separate character into becoming the Joker,[18] the showrunners kept the series finale intentionally ambiguous as to whether he becomes the Joker later on or serves as yet another predecessor.[23]


"It's not about a man. It's about the ideology of a man and what that represents and how it affects other people."

—Cameron Monaghan, October 2015[24]


Jerome is a nihilistic anarchist,[25] sharing many similarities with the Joker. When Monaghan was cast as Jerome in "The Blind Fortune Teller", he avoided drawing from the actors who had played the Joker throughout the various Batman films. However, he did take inspiration from Mark Hamill's voice performance, in addition to reading as many comics featuring the character as he could to prepare for the role. After breaking him out of Arkham, Theo Galavan served as a mentor and father figure to Jerome, shaping his viewpoint of the world as a performance stage for evil. This stopped Jerome from limiting himself to smaller-scale acts of crime.[26] A recurring theme on the show is how the Joker's ideology acts like a virus that can be spread through multiple characters, which executive producer Danny Cannon describes as "the opposite of Bruce Wayne, somebody who just wants to destroy... that could be anyone." Before leaping to his death in the Season 4 episode "That's Entertainment", Jerome warns Jim Gordon that others would follow in his footsteps.[27][26]


In contrast to his violent and assertive brother, Jeremiah is depicted as a more methodical and calculating criminal mastermind. Monaghan described Jerome as the "chain saw" and Jeremiah as the "scalpel".[16] Jeremiah is just as insane as his brother, but channels it in a calm and quieter manner. He is obsessed with Bruce Wayne, the future Batman, whom he sees as his surrogate brother after rejecting Jerome.[18] The fifth and final season sees Jeremiah growing more unhinged after his plan to transform Gotham into an isolated ruin succeeds in Season 4. He is viewed by the characters within Gotham City as a boogeyman figure and he revels in the infamy, but is discontent with his failed attempts to bond with Bruce.[28] In the episode "Ace Chemicals", he comes to the conclusion that Bruce is defined by the trauma of his parents death, and so he creates duplicates of them to force him to relive his trauma so that they can be bonded as enemies. This plan ultimately fails.[21] Jeremiah has rejected the notion that he is insane, believing himself to be vastly more ordered and intelligent than his brother. Because he does not see himself as bad or evil, Monaghan opined that he is irredeemable.[29][20] He is more flamboyant in Season 5, with the actor taking inspiration from David Bowie and Tim Curry in his performance.[20]

Another feature of the Joker character displayed in the Jeremiah character was that of a clown-like female accomplice akin to - but not the same as - the Batman character Harley Quinn.[30] Ecco is Jeremiah's psychotic, utterly devoted henchwoman and the leader of the cult that worships him in the aftermath of Gotham becoming isolated from the rest of the world. Jeremiah kills Ecco once she has outlived her usefulness, which some critics speculated would pave the way for Quinn in the series' continuity.[31]

The final iteration of Jeremiah seen in the series finale was the coalescence of all the Joker traits previously seen in series, with additional characteristics of his own. According to Stephens, "When you look at the Joker and you cleave off certain character traits, some of those character traits we gave to Jerome. Some to Jeremiah. But, there were still some leftover character traits that we said, we haven't used these elements yet. Specifically to me, horror or terror." He is more horrific than Jerome and his former self, with Stephens referring to him as a "nightmare".[23][7] He is also more insane than his predecessors,[32] and struggles to recall which of his memories from before his chemical accident are real. His obsession with Bruce is so embedded that he pretended to be comatose for years, waiting for him to return to Gotham after spending a decade abroad.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Tanswell, Adam (September 22, 2014). "Gotham: Bruno Heller on Batman's origins, the Joker and DC crossovers". Digital Spy. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  2. ^ Radish, Christina (July 22, 2014). "Showrunner Bruno Heller Talks GOTHAM, Avoiding Fantasy, Casting the Series, Teasing Out The Joker in Every Episode, and More". Collider. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  3. ^ Viera, Anthony (July 21, 2014). "'Gotham' Creator Talks Joker & Changing Origin Stories". Screen Rant. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Valnet, Inc. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  4. ^ Burlingame, Russ (July 21, 2014). "Gotham Series Premiere: Easter Eggs and DC Comics References". Comic Book. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  5. ^ Bryant, Adam (February 2, 2015). "Mega Buzz: When Will We Meet The Joker on Gotham?". TV Guide. New York City: NTVB Media. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Patten, Dominic (October 5, 2015). "'Gotham' EP On Tonight's Joker Origin Shocker & Honoring The Batman Legacy". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  7. ^ a b c d Patten, Dominic (April 25, 2019). "'Gotham' EPs On Tonight's "Bittersweet" Series Finale, Potential Of More Batman & Their Pride In The Show". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  8. ^ McMillan, Graeme (October 5, 2015). "'Gotham' Boss: Season 2 to Focus on the Joker". The Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  9. ^ Aguilar, Matthew (September 5, 2017). "Gotham: David Mazouz Calls Jerome 'Proto-Joker'". Hollywood Reporter. Los Angeles, California: Eldridge Industries. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Blind Fortune Teller". Gotham. Season 1. Episode 16. February 16, 2015. FOX.
  11. ^ "The Last Laugh". Gotham. Season 2. Episode 3. October 5, 2015. FOX.
  12. ^ "Gotham's Bruno Heller: "We've Absolutely Considered The Possibility Of A Female Joker"". Comic Book. September 6, 2017. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  13. ^ Buxton, Marc (September 18, 2016). "Gotham Season 2 Episode 14: This Ball of Mud and Meanness". Den of Geek. London, England: Dennis Publishing. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  14. ^ Vick, Megan (August 23, 2016). "Gotham: Yep, That Was Jerome's Laugh in the Season 2 Finale". TV Guide. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  15. ^ Ridgely, Charlie (October 6, 2017). "Exclusive: 'Gotham' EP Reveals Every Villain Appearing in Season 4". Comic Book. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  16. ^ a b Holbrook, Domian (October 6, 2017). "'Gotham' Star Cameron Monaghan on His Character's Endgame in the Season 4 Finale". TV Insider. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  17. ^ Buxton, Marc (April 6, 2018). "Gotham Season 4 Episode 17 Review: Mandatory Brunch Meeting". Den of Geek. London, England: Dennis Publishing. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  18. ^ a b c Fowler, Matt (May 10, 2018). "Gotham Producer Talks Joker Swap, No Man's Land, And Eventually Ending The Show With Batman". IGN. San Francisco, California: j2 Global. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  19. ^ Ridgely, Charlie (October 6, 2017). "Exclusive: 'Gotham' EP Reveals Why Jerome Will Never Be Joker". Comic Book. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  20. ^ a b c Hibberd, James (January 10, 2019). "Gotham star Cameron Monaghan teases wild finale, mysterious third character". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  21. ^ a b "Ace Chemicals". Gotham. Season 5. Episode 7. February 21, 2019. FOX.
  22. ^ Vick, Megan (January 19, 2019). "Jeremiah Will Return and Evolve Again on Gotham". TV Guide. New York City: NTVB Media. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  23. ^ a b Hayner, Chris (March 1, 2019). "Gotham's Next Joker Evolution Is An Actual Nightmare". GameSpot. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  24. ^ "'Gotham' Has the Last Laugh With Joker Mystery (SPOILERS)". Variety. October 5, 2015. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  25. ^ Vick, Megan (February 2, 2017). "Gotham's Cameron Monaghan Isn't Done with Jerome's Story Yet". TV Guide. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  26. ^ a b Mitovich, Matt (October 5, 2015). "Gotham's Cameron Monaghan Talks About Deadly Twist, His Animated Idol, Losing Sleep Over 'Joker' Role". TVLine. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  27. ^ Ridgely, Charlie (April 17, 2017). "'Gotham': Jeremiah Isn't the Joker After All, Here's Why (Exclusive)". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  28. ^ Ridgely, Charlie (October 24, 2018). "'Gotham's Cameron Monaghan Says Jeremiah Is "Unsatisfied" With No Man's Land Outcome". Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  29. ^ "That Old Corpse". Gotham. Season 4. Episode 20. May 3, 2018. FOX.
  30. ^ Venable, Nick (January 18, 2019). "Why Gotham Is Using Ecco As its Harley Quinn". Cinemablend. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  31. ^ Cardona, Ian (April 26, 2019). "Gotham's Final Death Opens the Door For a Major Bat-Villain". Comic Book Resources. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Valnet, Inc. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
  32. ^ Metz, Nina (January 31, 2019). "Cameron Monaghan on the future of his character on 'Gotham' and what we thought was his last scene on 'Shameless'". Chicago Tribune. Chicago, Illinois: Tribune Media Services. Retrieved April 28, 2019.
  33. ^ "The Beginning...". Gotham. Season 5. Episode 12. April 25, 2018. FOX.