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|“||There's nothing more contagious than laughter!||„|
|~ Jerome Valeska's most famous catchphrase.|
|“||You're all prisoners. What you call sanity, it's just a prison in your minds that stops you from seeing that you're just tiny little cogs, in a giant absurd machine. Wake up! Why be a cog? Be free, like us. Just remember, smile. Oh! Time to go, but don't worry, we'll be back very soon. Hang onto your hats, boys, cause' you ain't seen nothing yet!||„|
|~ Jerome sending a message to Gotham after orchestrating an attack on GCPD Police Headquarters.|
Jerome Valeska is a recurring antagonist in the Batman based TV show Gotham, first appearing in the 16th episode of Season 1, "The Blind Fortune Teller", acting as a candidate to the origin of the Batman supervillain Joker. Jerome worked at the carnival with the Flying Graysons before having revealed to have committed matricide due to his mother being a "nagging drunken whore".
After having been busted out of Arkham Asylum, Jerome was offered the chance to wreak havoc in Gotham in the Season 2 opening story arc "Rise of the Villains". As the leader of the Maniax, Jerome now terrorizes whole Gotham. Although he was betrayed and killed by his boss Theo Galavan (who wanted to be seen as a hero to the city), Jerome left a legacy leading to some citizens to follow his example and lead to the possible future creation of the Joker. He ultimately ended up revived by Hugo Strange, and was among the freaks who escaped the hijacked bus.
Murdering his Mother
|“|| Why did you kill your mother Jerome?|
"Oh, you know how mothers are. She just kept pushing. And I'm like, fine mom, be a whore, be a drunken whore even, but don't be a NAGGING DRUNKEN WHORE...you know? And don't yell at me to do the dishes when you've been banging a clown in the next room! You know?
|~ Jerome Valeska ,exposes his insanity and psychotic profile.|
|“||My mother was a cold-hearted whore who never loved anyone, and she'd never touch a pathetic old creep like you!||„|
|~ Jerome to his father Cicero.|
Jerome Valeska's mother was the snake dancer at the carnival, she was known for having sex with any male that worked at the carnival and she was also a hateful and mean woman to everyone around her (although the only proof of this came from Jerome himself, so may not be true). Due to her life style and the way she treated him by always giving him orders, Jerome hated her and wanted to see her suffer. Jerome finally snapped and hacked her to death with a hatchet. He later faked lack of knowledge of what happened to his mother and faked sadness for her death, although he was eventually caught by James Gordon, also revealing that his birth father was Cicero the blind fortune teller. When Jerome was questioned by James Gordon on why he killed her, Jerome began to laugh as if it were all a big joke and told him she was a "nagging whore" that needed to die. He was later incarcerated at Arkham Asylum.
Escape at Arkham AsylumJerome, takes a quick interest in Barbara Kean, who was previously brainwashed to kill her parents by the now deceased Ogre. He attempts to befriend her, but is almost immediately shot down. When newcomer inmate Zaardon dramatically introduces himself to the prisoners, he chokes up knockout gas and inmates Jerome, Barbara, Richard Sionis, Robert Greenwood, Aaron Helzinger & Arnold Dobkins. are broken out of Arkham orchestrated by Tabitha Galavan. The bunch are tied up and meet Theo Galavan, who inspires them to be part of a team of elite criminals. Sionis refuses and is killed by Tabitha, much to Jerome's joy.
Leading the Maniax
The Maniax make their presence known by breaking into a shipyard and stealing a fully loaded refueling truck. They bring the seven hostages on the roof of the Gotham Gazette, write letters on each and throw them off the roof so that the corpses on the ground spell "MANIAX". When Dobkins asks what they do with the spare hostage, Jerome paints an exclamation mark on the man's chest and tells Helzinger to throw him down too.
While in their new headquarter Jerome finds a sword which Greenwood immeadiately takes from him. When Jerome asks him nicely to give it back, Greenwood tells Jerome to "make him", calling him a little brat. Jerome takes a chainsaw and the two of them prepare to fight but are disturbed by Theo Galavan who orders them to stop immediately. When Dobkins chides them because they are a team, Greenwood proclaims himself the team captain but Jerome immediately denies that, planning to become the leader himself. Sensing the tension between the two, Galavan states that this problem must be resolved immediately. He draws his gun and removes all but one bullet, asking them if they know this game. Greenwood takes the gun, aims at his head and shoots but nothing happens. When Jerome does this not once but three times Jerome is made the leader of their organization by Galavan's permission.
As the next part of their plan, the Maniax hold a cheerleader school bus hostage (apparently the decision was between it and a senior citizen bingo party, with the cheerleader school bus ultimately being decided) and plan to set it on fire with the fuel from the refueling truck they stole earlier. After spilling the fuel in the bus, Jerome realises that his lighter isn't working and, embarassed, asks the cheerleaders if any of them has fire. He is provided with a lighter by Dobkins, however the incident cost them enough time for the police to arrive. Jerome tells his Maniax to stand their ground because the policemen cannot risk to shoot at the bus. He tells Helzinger and Greenwood to get the truck and, after running out of ammunition for his revolver while firing at Gordon, orders Dobkins to light the bus up. The Maniax leave with Jerome continuing spilling fuel from the hose while they drive off but Dobkins is left behind. Their plan was ultimately foiled due to the quick thinking of Gordon after he accidentally set the fuel alight.When they find out that the police is searching for them, the Maniax (minus Helzinger and Barbara) enter the GCPD precinct disguised as policemen. Jerome tells an officer that he needs to speak with Commissioner Essen immediately and enters her bureau. When she recognized him he draws his gun to keep her quiet while his colleagues start shooting up the precinct. With Greenwood filming them, Jerome has a discussion with Essen after the massacre. Essen tells him that he will soon be dead and that the world will go on without him, but he replies that he and his Maniax will leave a mark on the city. When Greenwood interferes, saying something Jerome was about to say, Jerome shoots the cannibal for stealing his line.
When Gordon returns to the precinct, he finds most of his colleagues dead. Searching for his boss he finds Essen dying, having been mortally wounded by Jerome. While cleaning up the precinct, Gordon is told to look at the news. When he looks at the TV he sees a video message from Jerome, in which he reveals himself as the leader of the Maniax. He tells the viewers that he will be back soon and that they have seen nothing yet.
Murdering his Father
When Jim Gordon and the reinstated Harvey Bullock get a lead on Paul Cicero, who bailed on Jerome during their first interogation, Jerome and Tabitha confront him and stab him in the eye before escaping after Jim Gordon was knocking on the old man's door, although not before learning from Cicero that Jerome will ultimately spawn Gotham's worst curse. Before Jerome escaped, he hid knockout gas in Cicero's jacket, knocking Bullock unconscious. Jim attempted to fight Jerome, but was knocked out by Tabitha.
|“||By the way, nobody here is getting out alive.||„|
|~ Jerome, disguised as the Great Rodolfo, just prior to murdering Deputy Mayor Kane.|
That following night at the Gotham Children's Hospital Gala, Jerome and Barbara disguise themselves as the annual Magicians. Jerome, whilst ominously telling the audience (still disguised as a magician) that no one was getting out alive, reveals himself mid-way through the act by throwing a knife at Deputy Mayor Kane and his men attack the audience, quickly convoluting into a hostage situation. He then proceeded to subdue Leslie Thompkins and string her up to a wheel, as well as confiscate her cellphone to contact Jim Gordon for a ransom, as well as hijacking the news cameras to give his demands: Either he get $47 million in ransom money, a getaway helicopter, his dry cleaning (while sarcastically warning Gordon that the man in charge of the dry cleaners, Mr. Chang, was a crook) as well as a pony, and that he expects him to get all these items in 10 minutes, or else he'll start killing the hostages, which he made clear will be demonstrated on live TV on every house across Gotham. There, Jerome goes terrorizing the attendees until their boss, Theo Galavan acts like he is the hero and stands up to the two until Barbara knocks him out with a hammer.
|“|| "I'm so sorry Jerome. You have real talent but now, you see: The plot thickens - enter the hero!"|
"You said I was gonna be..."
|~ Theo & a dying Jerome.|
Jerome calls out for Bruce Wayne and holds his butler Alfred Pennyworth as the next victim until Bruce stands up to Jerome. He puts a knife on Bruce's throat and slowly starts to slit it until the GCPD arrive. Theo, having regained consciousness, stabs Jerome in the neck to better his appearance as a hero. While Jerome falls to the floor, Theo apologizes to him and acknowledges his talent, but reveals that he only used Jerome to boost his popularity. With his last words, Jerome tries to answer but dies with a blood-crafted smile on his face before he can finish his sentence.
|“||You will be a curse upon Gotham. Children will wake from sleep screaming at the thought of you. Your legacy will be death and madness.||„|
|~ Paul Cicero's foreshadowing quote, predicting Jerome's effect upon Gotham City|
As foretold before, Jerome's contributions to The Maniax caused a disfigurement on Gotham, intriguing other citizens, young and old to undergo his personality and wreak havoc on Gotham. People like Oswald Cobblepot considered him tedious because his motivation was chaos for the sake of chaos.
A band devoted to the Maniax was created by a woman named Jeri and her nightclub included images and news footage of Jerome and his gang, as well as their mugshots. Some of the attendees to the band are also seen wearing similar straight-jackets the Maniax themselves wore during their attempt to set fire to the school bus. Peri herself also wore clown like makeup.
As for Jerome himself, he was seen as the spiritual "Clown Prince of Crime" dying with a blood-sculpted smile on his face as his body was left to be examined in the GCPD Forensics Room. His body later came under possession by Hugo Strange at the Indian Hill facility.
Revival and Escape
After his demise Jerome was transported to the research facility Indian Hill, where he was stored into a glass tube along with other deceased people including Theo himself.
Jerome later became one of many test subjects to be revived from the dead by Professor Hugo Strange. Along with the other revived "monsters" Jerome was put on a bus to be delivered to another facility upstate, but another revived inmate Fish Mooney hijacked the bus and crashed it in Gotham City. Jerome along with the other monsters were released with the help of an unsuspecting elderly homeless woman, and left the area in bound for the city.
Jerome was a remorseless, unpredictable and utterly psychopathic boy with a deep enjoyment of wanton and needless acts of violence and chaos, committed by him and the Maniax or just in general. Unlike anything Gotham had ever seen before, Jerome was not an ordinary criminal in regards that he cared nothing about organised crime or profiteering but how he only relished in the mindless agony of everything around him. Penguin even states how he went against how usual criminals behaved due to his chaotic and unreasonable methods; singlehandedly, Jerome introduced the city, and perhaps even the world, an altogether different class of criminal, one that personified complete sadism, madness and pure, unadorned evil with no distinguishable objective or reasoning, beyond simply that he could or he enjoyed doing so. His presence, even after death, tipped the scales of the kind of maniac Gotham could produce. It is heavily implied that his psychopathic views and his vile behavior, even by Gotham's standards, was the result of both his horrible childhood of being abused by his mother as well as Cicero, far from comforting Jerome on his ninth birthday, telling him that no one's going to care about him. However he did state that he killed his mother for simply nagging him.
A showman, Jerome had a theatricality to his insanity that Galavan described as being "boyishly charming". He enjoyed his time in the spotlight to the point where the rest of Gothan's criminals would operate within the shadows, he would televise his crimes for everyone to see. Whatever atrocities he would commit, one would always guarantee that there would be cameras nearby and he would do such act with a smile on his face. Cruel yet charismatic, Jerome desired to create a name for himself and a legacy that would never be forgotten, he brandished a smile when Paul Cicero claimed he would become a "curse upon Gotham". His plans were usually intricate and needlessly complex, sometimes finding the challenge of them becoming a fruition or a failure entertaining nonetheless if they succeeded or otherwise and usually showcased his cunning and ingenuity in his designs. In the mind of Jerome, sanity was only a prison that prevented everyone from seeing what they were: pointless cogs within a monogamous machine stuck between a never-ending loop. Jerome and the Maniax believed that they were free from this prison due to their different ways of thinking and acting in comparison to everyone else and encouraged others to behave like they did, although they only thought this way because they were all mentally troubled, delusional and borderline insane.
One of his most noticeable traits was his disturbed sense of humour which was accompanied with a never-ending, manic giggling and outright laughter towards everything which fit right within Jerome's own beliefs on what was funny. He was sadistic and found immense joy in the idea of pain and death towards others, he smiled broadly when Richard Sionis was strangled to death and shot an injured police officer whom interrupted his broadcast from the GCPD, claiming he had "no manners". Jerome demonstrated a fondness for sarcasm, using it in a sick sense such as telling his father, who was blind "long time, no see" after breaking into his house. He enjoyed his own pain as well, making him suicidal as demonstrated while playing Russian Roulette, shot himself three times in a calm manner and how he found Commissioner Essen spitting at him and head butting him as "strangely pleasant" and laughing crazily, respectively. Even while being killed, he found enough humour within the situation to smile.
Jerome had a definable relationship with most members of the Maniax. He seemed to respect Galavan for believing in him and promising to make him a star, he also nicknamed him "Sensei" but was very shocked when the latter stabbed him in the neck. He was sociable towards Richard Sionis and Barbara Kean within Arkham Asylum, as he appeared to be friends with him and speaking for him when trying to ask Barbara for a date, although he found him being brutally murdered funny enough to grin at. He and Barbara worked together at Gotham Charity Ball and he was the one who granted her a phone call to threaten her ex-boyfriend. The most frictional relationship would be with Robert Greenwood whom mocked him for his young age and prepared to fight him to lead the Maniax. Though they worked together to kill the officers with GCPD and were a part of the same team, Jerome shot him dead for stealing his line and mocked his corpse later on.
Regarding his parentage, Jerome absolutely hated his mother and father. Though he finally discovered that Paul Cicero was his birth father, Jerome initially seemed to have a low opinion of him, claiming he was "pathetic" and a "creep". Even after learning that Cicero was his birth father, Jerome merely stated "I'll be damned" in a non-chalant manner, only shortly afterwards realizing the humor in the revelation. Cicero was somewhat unsympathetic towards his son and admits he was a bad father but loved him nevertheless and constantly gave him shelter and a home, even helping Jerome cover up his matricide for that reason alone. Whilst meeting with him after breaking into his house, Jerome mockingly called him "pops", "daddy" and "dad" all before killing him. His mother was his first ever victim. She was stated to be cold and abusive to her son, and highly promiscuous and alcohol but Jerome claims that the only reason he killed her was because she asked him to do the dishes while having sex with a clown, which pushed him over the edge once too far.
Kill count: 20
- Lila Valeska - Bludgeoned with a hatchet
- Six unnamed people - Pushed from the roof of a building
- Several unnamed cheerleaders - Attempted to incinerate (Survived)
- Nine unnamed police officers - Shot
- Robert Greenwood - Shot
- Sarah Essen - Killed by unknown method
- Paul Cicero - Stabbed in the eye
- Deputy Mayor Kane - Stabbed in the chest
- Bruce Wayne - Attempted to cut his throat (Survived)
- 1.16: The Blind Fortune Teller
- 2.01: Damned If You Do
- 2.02: Knock, Knock
- 2.03: The Last Laugh
- 2.11: "Worse Than A Crime" (corpse)
- 2.13: A Dead Man Feels No Cold (corpse)
- 2.22: Transference
- Jerome Valeska is a nod towards the Batman supervillain Joker and acted as one of several candidates as a possible origin to the character.
- His implied future as the Joker was also advertised in promotional materials for his debut episode. For example, the trailer mentioned that the next villain in Gotham "is no joke" before cutting to Jerome Valeska cackling, and a Twitter post for viral marketing has a looped GIF of Jerome's laughter from the trailer with the tagline "Gotham's next villain is no laughing matter."
- However when discussing season 2, show creator Bruno Heller described the Joker as being an ideology and not a man, so it is unclear if Jerome is the genuine Joker or somebody undertaking the identity.
- The name Jerome probably comes from Jerry Robinson, co-creator of the Joker.
- The character pays homage to previous Joker incarnations.
- He also dresses up as a policeman similar to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight and sends a similar video tape making threats to Gotham City.
- His message to Gotham City about how they are all "prisoners" due to their sanity also mirrors a soliloquy made by the Joker about how insanity is the "emergency exit" in Batman: The Killing Joke.
- Inspiration appears to be taken from Mark Hamill's Joker from the Batman: Animated Series, especially when broadcasting a live show which was seen in "Christmas with the Joker".
- Ironically, the episode where Jerome was killed had the same name as an episode from Batman: The Animated Series that also featured the Joker.
- Jerome's surname, Valeska, sounds similar to "Valestra", the crime family that Joker originally worked for as a hitman before his fated encounter with Batman and transformation into the Clown Prince of Crime in The Animated Series, and more specifically the movie Mask of the Phantasm.
- Like Ledger's story he gives a story about possibly being abused in the past, in a similar manner. It is implied however Jerome may actually be telling the truth.
- In addition, shortly after Jerome exposes himself as a psychopath and Cicero makes clear that the only reason he helped Jerome in hiding the evidence to his matricide was because he was his son, Jerome says "My father..." in a similar tone to Heath Ledger's Joker's tone when he was about to say "My father was a drunkard and a fiend" when about to relay the first of his infamous "scar stories."
- Just like Jack Nicholson's Joker Jerome first death has him with a smile on his face. This is also familiar to the Arkham video game series Joker, who before dying in Batman: Arkham City put a smile on his face.
- Before Commissioner Essen dies, she remarks about how everyone will forget about him when he dies and no-one will remember him, this could be a reference to Arkham video game series Joker since he's been forgotten even with all the chaos he's spread across Gotham.
- Jerome's corpse shows with blood around his lips and a grin. Coupled with his paled skin, this gives him an uncanny resemblance to the Joker.
- In addition, in the morgue when it zooms up upon Jerome's face just before it cuts to the closing titles, a distinctly Joker-esque laugh can be heard in the background.
- After Jerome doused a school bus with gasoline to set it on fire, Jerome grabbed onto the side of a tanker truck and joyfully laughed. Heath Ledger's Joker did something similar as joyfully showing his face out of the window of a police vehicle.
- The actions were also similar to when the Joker escaped Batman after robbing the Gotham Merchants Bank in his debut scene in Batman: Arkham Origins.
- Jerome and the Maniax's dousing a vehicle with people inside with gasoline and attempting to torch it before being stopped also mirrored the actions of the Joker from Batman: Under the Red Hood. Ironically, both instances also had them wasting time actually setting the passengers on fire before ultimately being foiled as a result of a temperamental lighter.
- Like Jerome, Joker was responsible for murdering Sarah Essen in the comics (although in the comics she was Jim Gordon's second wife, and was killed after Bruce Wayne became Batman. Also, Jerome is clearly shown to enjoy murdering Sarah Essen, while in the comics, it is heavily implied that even the Joker was disgusted with his killing Sarah Essen.).
- The numerous Jerome Copycats may be a nod towards The Jokerz, a gang in Batman Beyond who imitate the deceased Joker and try to continue his legacy and madness.
- The scene where Jerome is physically accosted by Gordon shortly after the massacre at the GCPD ("I'm sensing... Anger.") had Gordon and Jerome in a very similar pose to the climax of the fight in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns ("Not... quite how I envisioned it, but... we can still end on a high note!"), with Gordon and Jerome in the poses of Batman and Joker, respectively.
- Just before Jerome kills Deputy Mayor Kane via a throwing knife, he tells the audience "No one here is getting out alive", similar to how Joker told his henchmen when they were ambushed at Gotham Merchants Bank by Batman in Arkham Origins, "As your commander in chief, I have these orders for you: No one's getting out alive!"
- He also dresses up as a policeman similar to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight and sends a similar video tape making threats to Gotham City.
- Jerome Valeska worked at the same carnival as Batman's first sidekick Dick Grayson, the first Robin, before he was born.
- During the Comic Con for 2015, Cameron Monaghan gatecrashed it in-character as Jerome making threats towards "Jim Gordon" (Ben McKenzie) asking about his pain tolerance. McKenzie in return got into character as Jim Gordon and told Jerome he will hunt him down.
- Jerome is revealed to be 18-years old.
- If the letters in his first and last name are switched around, Jerome Valeska can spell out Joker.
- Oddly enough, his parents and Jerome himself were all killed by some form of weapon outfitted with a blade.
- Despite the idea of bringing in "Joker" two seasons in was initially scorned, Monaghan's portrayal of Jerome was acclaimed by fans, and many people are hoping that he may return after being killed.
- Jerome also bore a resemblance to the Spiderman villain Carnage's human host Cletus Kasady, who coincidentally also in turn had been based in personality and to some extent physical appearance on the Joker.
- Though not clearly confirmed, Jerome seemingly appears as a statue in the bottom right of Season 2's "Coming Storm" trailer hold a card. If you look in closely, the card he's holding is "The Joker" card. Coincidence?