A rogues gallery (or rogues' gallery) is a police collection of pictures or photographs of criminals and suspects kept for identification purposes. The term is also used figuratively for any group of shady characters or the line-up of "mugshot" photographs that might be displayed in the halls of a dormitory or workplace or on an online mugshot publishing website.
In 1855, Allan Pinkerton founded the Pinkerton National Detective Agency. Pinkerton devised the Rogues’ Gallery  — a compilation of descriptions, methods of operation (modus operandi), hiding places, and names of criminals and their associates.
Inspector Thomas Byrnes of the late-19th-century New York City Police Department popularized the term with his collection of photographs of known criminals, which was used for witness identification. Byrnes published some of these photos with details of the criminals in Professional Criminals of America (1886).
In popular culture
Over time, the term became popularised by comic books and movies, in which it is typically used to denote a set of recurring antagonists who appear throughout a specific series or franchise. Notable examples include the Batman rogues gallery, the Spider-Man rogues gallery, the Superman rogues gallery, and the Flash rogues gallery.
- Solbert, Oscar N.; Beaumont, Newhall; Card, James G., eds. (April 1952). "Rogue's Gallery" (PDF). Image, Journal of Photography of George Eastman House. Rochester, N.Y.: International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House Inc. 1 (7): 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 March 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2014.
- Pinkerton, Allan. Strikers, Communists, Tramps and Detectives (1878) Online at Archive.org
- Byrnes, Thomas. Professional Criminals of America (1886) Online at Archive.org