The Dark Knight (film)

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    Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men...just want to watch the world burn.

    Alfred Pennyworth

    The Dark Knight is a 2008 superhero film directed, produced, and co-written by Christopher Nolan, a direct sequel of Batman Begins. Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman reprise their roles from the previous film, with Maggie Gyllenhaal replacing Katie Holmes as Rachel, and incorporating Heath Ledger as The Joker ( and Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent. It is the second film in The Dark Knight Saga.

    A year after the events of Batman Begins, Batman and his allies -- Police Lieutenant James Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent -- achieve real success in taking down Gotham's organized crime when they start hitting them where it hurts: their money. The various mob leaders become so afraid of Batman that when a scarred psychopath in clown makeup shows up and offers to make their problems go away by killing Batman, they hire him... but once backed by the mob, he decides that rubbing out Batman isn't good enough. The Joker aims to destroy Gotham City from the inside out, and part of his "plan" involves attempts to corrupt the city's heroes -- Batman and Harvey Dent -- by making their lives hell until they snap...

    The Dark Knight received a overwhelmingly positive critical reception as a serious drama (unique for a comic book movie), thanks in large part to the tour de force performances of the cast (including the late Heath Ledger's well-regarded performance as The Joker).

    The title of this film -- The Dark Knight -- marks the first time a Batman film has not featured the character's name in the title.

    The Dark Knight was named to the National Film Registry in 2020.

    The Dark Knight has the distinct honor of being the first comic book film to win an acting Academy Award, as the late Heath Ledger won the Best Supporting Actor award for his performance as The Joker.

    Tropes used in The Dark Knight (film) include:
    • The Ace: Harvey Dent. At first. Rifftrax said it best after he punches a witness who pulls a gun on him, unloads the gun, states the model and manufacturer before placing the weapon in front of the man who wanted him dead, essentially tells him to try harder next time, and then says he's not finished with the witness:

    "All right, five-minute 'Tell Dent how awesome he is' recess."

    • Adopt the Dog: And train them to behave in ways that'll likely eventually force them to be put down.
    • All There in the Manual: The novel clears up a few details about Dark Knight, such as Dent's Knight Templar tendencies. Bruce doesn't believe Dent could have a skeleton-free closet, and investigates. Turns out his dad was a cop who abused his mother, and whenever the police were called, they'd look the other way. Eventually, Dad killed Mom while Harvey was away at school. This gave Harvey an understandable dislike of dirty cops. Bruce eventually realizes he's been digging so hard because he's jealous, etc.
    • Aluminum Christmas Trees: You'd be forgiven for assuming that the Skyhook device Batman uses in Hong Kong a) was never made and b) wouldn't work if it was. In fact, it was and it did.
      • Additionally, Two-Face not having any problems with his now-lidless eye. But then take a look at Chase No-Face, a cat who lost his nose and eyelids in a car accident, and lives a normal life still while needing only a dash of eyedrops twice a day and a dark room to sleep in.
    • Always Save the Girl: Inverted hard. The Joker gave Batman a Sadistic Choice where he only had time to save Rachel or Harvey. Batman thought he was saving the girl. The Joker switched the addresses.
      • Played straight when Batman dove out a window of a fifty story building to save Rachel once.
    • American Accents: The Joker has a Chicago accent, as do several of the GCPD, especially Wuertz. The pub scenes practically oozes Chicago, as opposed to the New York feel that one got in Begins.
    • Analogy Backfire: When talking about Batman's necessity:

    Harvey: When the Republic was threatened, the Romans appointed one man to protect them until the danger had passed. It wasn't considered an honor, it was considered a public service.
    Rachel: Harvey, the last man they did that with was called Caesar, and he never gave up his power.

    • Angry Guard Dog: Given Batman is attacked by an angry pack twice, and both times he has some difficulty fending them off, it might be his weakness.
    • Anti-Villain: Two-Face is a Type III.
    • Anyone Can Die: The Dark Knight plays this for all it's worth with the death of Rachel.
    • Appropriated Appellation: Two-Face.
    • Arc Words: A lot of people think that Harvey Dent's "The dawn is coming" bit is going to this for The Dark Knight Rises.
    • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: A very brief, wordless example. When Gordon observes of the Joker that there was "nothing in his pockets but knives and lint", we see someone laying out an improbable number of knives on a table. The last is a potato peeler, which the handler briefly double-takes at.
    • Artistic License History: When Harvey comments about how the ancient Romans would appoint a dictator in times of crisis, Rachel claims that Caesar never gave up the title. This is not accurate, as Julius Caesar was given the title of "Dictator for Life" by the Senate after he had more or less conquered Rome in a civil war. Despite his assassination, Julius never had to "give up" his position. Also, depending on who you ask, Rome's transformation into an Empire may have been the best thing for it at the time.
    • Art Shift: Of a sort. Christopher Nolan stated in an interview that as opposed to the gritty grimy look of Batman Begins, The Dark Knight would be slightly... cleaner, so to speak.
      • The Dark Knight was largely missing Batman Begins classic Gotham deco-influenced skyscrapers. It's also a lot less crowded and a bit brighter in The Dark Knight. Nolan also got rid of the Batcave, presumably for the same reasons.
    • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: All of the Asian characters in Hong Kong speak flawless Chinese... in the wrong dialect. The standard dialect used in Hong Kong is Cantonese, whereas the characters all speak Mandarin. However, it's possible that they were simply from Mainland China, wherein the dominant language is Mandarin.
    • Ax Crazy: The Joker is the living embodiment of this trope.
    • Badass: Aside from the obvious, special mention goes to Harvey Dent, pre-Two Face. A witness pulls a gun on him from the witness stand, and without missing a beat, Dent disarms him, decks him and recommends he buy his weapons American next time he wants to assassinate the DA.
    • Badass Bystander: The Bank manager in the opening gives us the page image. Despite being a Mob banker there are many people who enjoy his reactions far too much.
    • Bad Boss: C'mon, now. It's the Joker.
    • Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: Discussed. Even with Jim Gordon in charge, the Major Crimes Unit (in a nice Shout-Out to Gotham Central) is still made up of mostly corrupt cops. But when Harvey Dent calls the lieutenant on this, Gordon points out that if he refused to work with such cops, he'd be working alone. This eventually comes back to haunt both of them, as Wuertz and Ramirez turn out to both be on Maroni's payroll and eventually kidnap Harvey and Rachel.
    • Bad Guys Play Pool: One of Gotham's major gangsters is seen playing pool before Joker comes in and murders him.
    • Bald of Awesome: Ginty, the Good Prisoner in the ferry boat scene.
    • Ballroom Blitz: The Joker breaks into Bruce's cocktail party.
    • Bank Robbery: Opens with one.
    • Batman Gambit: Pulled off more frequently and effectively by The Joker than Batman himself.
      • Harvey Dent as well.
    • Beauty to Beast: Harvey Dent.
    • Berserk Button: Joker always gets a lot more serious when someone calls him a "freak" or "crazy." This is somewhat ironic given the character's usual sentiment in other media.

    Joker: Tell your men they work for me now.
    Chechen: Dey won't work for a fuh-reak.
    Joker: "Fuh-reek?" Why don't we cut you up into little pieces and feed you to your pooches? And then we'll see how loyal a hungry dog really is.

      • A less trivial example is that of mentioning Batman's relationship with Rachel. Joker saying "does Harvey know about you and his little bunny?" happens to be the straw that broke the camel's back and is immediately followed by Batman smacking Joker's head against a glass window, then repeatedly punching Joker and yelling "WHERE ARE THEY?"
    • Bilingual Bonus: Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murcielago... Murcielago being spanish for "Bat".
    • Blackmail: Subverted when an accountant stumbles onto Bruce's secret:

    Reese: I want... ten million dollars a year, for the rest of my life.
    Lucius Fox: Let me get this straight. You think that your client - one of the wealthiest, most influential men in the world - is secretly a vigilante, who spends his nights beating criminals to a pulp with his bare hands... and your plan is to blackmail this person? [smiles] Good luck.
    Reese: [clears throat] ... keep that....

    • Blatant Lies: Joker is fond of these, from lying about the locations of his victims, to fake origin stories, his Weapon of Choice... Fridge Logic dictates that even his spiel about not making plans can't be true.
    • Blond Guys Are Evil: Subverted with Harvey Dent. Then double subverted.
    • Bloodless Carnage: Despite the brutality, there is very little blood. This may have been one of the factors that led to such a dark movie being rated PG-13.
    • Blunt Yes: When The Joker is confronted by mobsters on his past theft from them.

    Gambol: You think you can steal from us and just walk away?
    Joker: Yeah.

    • Bomb Throwing Anarchist: Well, Rocket Propelled Grenades, actually.
    • Broken Pedestal: When Harvey Dent imprisons 549 criminals at once in a RICO case, the mayor warns him that he has to be very careful not to slip up, or everything will be undone. The Joker spends the rest of the movie trying to bring this about, while Batman tries to stop it. Eventually the pedestal is broken when Harvey loses Rachel, half his face, and eventually his mind. He goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in which he kills five people, two of them cops. At the end, Batman decides to take the blame for Harvey's crimes, so that his prosecution can be upheld. We have to wait for the next film to see if this works.
    • Bus Full of Innocents
    • The Cameo: US Senator Patrick Leahy shows up (the avowed lifelong fan's third such appearance to date) and says to the Joker "we're not intimidated by thugs." Now that is a campaign platform.
    • Canon Immigrant: The Batbunker. Introduced here as the replacement for the Batcave, it's a big white military-style installation built under a Wayne skyscraper. It eventually made its way to the comics when Bruce Wayne was temporarily killed off and replaced by Dick Grayson: Dick decided he wanted his HQ to be in the heart of the city instead of a mansion on a hill, so he moves into a bunker inspired by the film. He keeps using this base even after Bruce returns.
      • This is especially appropriate since the original Batcave is also a canon immigrant. It was introduced in the black and white Batman serials of the 1930's (mostly as a way to save money by re-using an already available cave set the studio had sitting around).
    • Card-Carrying Villain: Played with. Although The Joker never call himself "evil" or "a villain", he styles himself an "agent of chaos", describes his past and future heinous acts with a grin & smile, and intentionally positions himself as the Foil to the heroic Batman and Dent. Also, he carries joker cards and uses them as his "signature!" And unlike most examples of the trope, it is dead serious.
    • Cassandra Truth: Early in the movie, Jim Gordon's assessment of how much of a threat the Joker is seems better than that of almost any other character. When the Joker makes a threat against Commissioner Loeb's life, Gordon seals off city hall, orders a search of the building, and informs Loeb of this. Loeb does not take this threat very seriously, saying "the police commissioner hears a lot of threats" before sitting back and having a drink. The drink was laced with acid. Even the protagonist underestimates the Joker's threat early on in comparison to Gordon.

    Gordon: What about this Joker guy?
    Batman: One man or the entire mob? He can wait.


    Gordon: Clothing is custom, no labels....


    Joker: Oh, and by the way, the suit, it wasn't cheap. You oughta know, you bought it.

      • Played straight with the amateur Batman at the start of the film.

    Copycat: What gives you the right? What's the difference between you and me?
    Batman: I'm not wearing hockey pads.

    • Chekhov's Gun: The spikes fitted on his gauntlets.
    • Chekhov's Gunman: Wuertz and Ramirez.
    • Chewing the Scenery: The Chechen. MY DOGS! ARE! HONG-RAY!
    • Choke Holds: Bruce Wayne does this to Harvey Dent.
    • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: When Lau, the accountant who tried to hide millions of dollars in mob money, was captured by the police, he gave them the names of all his mob clients as a means of softening his own punishment. Later in the movie, Lau was freed from his jail cell by the Joker... only to probably wish he hadn't been.
      • It bears mention that Lau is extremely clear that he'll give up the criminals. Not the location of all that money he's safeguarding for them. His plan is clearly to run home with the combined wealth of SEVERAL mob bosses.
      • There's also how quickly and shamelessly Joker murders his own henchmen, but he's probably not as likely to suffer consequences for doing so. It also should be noted that the Bank manager, who himself is implied to be a member of the mafia, disapproved of and lamented the course its taken.
    • Combat Sadomasochist: The Joker loves to inflict pain and suffering, but also seems to like being at the receiving end, particularly in the scene where he is beaten up by Batman and in the (in)famous "come on, hit me" episode.
    • Comic Book Adaptation: Averted, but then again, Brian Azzarello's graphic novel Joker does look a little like Heath Ledger...
    • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: The name "Two-Face" is only uttered once, when Harvey remembers that cops used to call him "Harvey Two-Face" when he worked for internal affairs.
    • Comically Missing the Point: Done intentionally by Lucius Fox.
    • Cool Bike: The Batpod. Apparently the center part where the rider sits is gyro-stabilized, as it's always upright. Batman catches up with the Joker by taking some major shortcuts in the chase sequence, and re-emerges into Joker's view by tumbling out of an alley... while still staying upright. Batman can even drive it up a wall, flip over backwards, and it'll spin around and keep Bats' ears pointing upward.
    • The Corrupter: The Joker, of course. He drives Harvey Dent insane just by giving him an obviously false monologue about how he's an "Agent of Chaos" with no plans whatsoever.
      • Among other things.
    • Crazy Enough to Work: Bet you never thought cell phones could be used to pull off such awesomeness, did you? Granted, they can't with current technology, but the movie implies that Bruce has been distributing modified cell phones or at the very least forcing firmware upgrades so that he can use them as mini-sonars.
    • Crazy Prepared: The Joker actually gives Batman a run for his money. Certainly in the "crazy" part. All while solemnly stating that he "doesn't have a plan" and makes it up as he goes along.
    • Damsel in Distress: Rachel.
    • Dangerously Genre Savvy: The Joker. He suspected that Batman would try to rescue Dent and Rachel at the same time by using his alliance with Gordon, so he switched the addresses. Batman ends up saving Dent instead. A simpler explanation is that it was his crazy way of taking the Sadistic Choice up another order of magnitude - no matter Batman's decision, failure was the only option.
      • Joker knew that he'd go to save Rachel, and that's why he switched the addresses. It's obvious, really; he's already jumped out a window to save her once. Joker's also counting on Batman being the only one fast enough to save either of them.
    • Dead Line News: Mike Engel and his crew tempt fate by going to Gotham General Hospital to cover the evacuations. They wind up hostages of the Joker. They all get rescued unharmed at the end but they still become the story they were reporting on.
    • Deadpan Snarker: Alfred Pennyworth dials up the snarkiness in comparison to the first film ("you've gone from not-sleeping in a mansion to not-sleeping in a penthouse!") but Lucius Fox is still the most obvious example.

    Lucius: I must say, compared to your usual requests, jumping out of an airplane is pretty straightforward.
    Bruce: What about getting back in the plane?
    Lucius: ... I'd recommend a good travel agent.
    Bruce: Without it landing.
    Lucius: ... now that's more like it, Mr. Wayne!

      • Also, Joker kind of fills in for Crane in the role of villainous snarker.

    Joker: (After Batman has slammed his head into a table) Never start with the head, the victim gets all fuzzy. He can't feel the next blow if... (Batman smashes his hand. Joker gives no reaction, showing that he couldn't feel the pain.) See?

      • Bruce Wayne himself.

    Alfred: I suppose they'll haul me away too, as your accomplice.
    Bruce: Accomplice? I'm going to tell them the whole thing was your idea.

      • Even though he's only in the film for a few minutes, Crane gets in a few good ones too:

    Scarecrow: I said my compound would take you places. I never said they'd be places you wanted to go.

    • Deal with the Devil: Harvey Dent accuses Gordon of this for not getting rid of all the possibly corrupt officers in the Gotham Police Department.
    • Delayed Explosion: When The Joker attempts to demolish Gotham General Hospital.
      • The rumor is that Ledger didn't know that there would be a delay in the explosions. So, never breaking character, he pulls a Crowning Moment of Funny by smacking the remote and flicking the detonator about half a dozen times. And rushes away when the explosions resume.
    • Diabolus Ex Nihilo: The Joker comes out of nowhere; he tells stories about his past, but they're unreliable.
    • Disguised Hostage Gambit: The Joker pulls this near the end with the people he kidnapped from the hospital, dressing them up as his henchmen while the real henchmen disguise themselves as doctors. This forces Batman to stop the SWAT team from making a fatal mistake.
    • Disney Villain Death: The Joker almost suffers this, but is saved by Batman. Bonus points for adding maniacal laughter to the fall. Done a few minutes later to Harvey Dent, but there are some who believe he survived the fall. Despite Word of God saying he's dead.
    • Doesn't Like Guns: Batman never uses guns as guns against people. However, on at least one occasion he has grabbed the gun of an enemy and used it as a blunt instrument and his bat mobile seems to have guns which he has used against a building. Also, while the Joker certainly isn't averse to using guns, he prefers knives because he thinks guns are too quick, and he would much prefer to savour all the little emotions.
    • Dragon-in-Chief: The Joker offers to work as The Dragon for the mob to take out Batman, but he really wants to use their money to bring chaos to the streets and become Batman's archenemy. He doesn't think highly of the mob and believes the city deserves a better class of criminal... so he takes over. In a decidedly hostile way.
    • Dramatic Irony: Dent believes that the police and Batman decided to save him instead of Rachel, when in reality, the Joker set it up such that they'd be saving the person they hadn't intended to save. Also counts because you already know what's bound to happen to Harvey: When Bruce talks about him at the fundraiser, he says, "Look at that face. That's the face of Gotham's future."
    • The Dreaded: The Joker is feared by EVERYONE.
    • Drinking on Duty: This is how Commissioner Loeb dies, via his alcohol being spiked with poison.
    • Empty Promise: Harvey Dent makes one to Rachel.
    • Eucatastrophe: The only thing that kept The Joker from winning is that Batman makes the decision to take the heat for the murders Harvey committed thus preserving his image (and Gotham's stability).
    • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Or grandmamas, in Gambol's case.
    • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Dent threatens to kill Maroni's wife as revenge.
    • Even Evil Has Standards: Maroni tells Gordon where to find the Joker because he feels killing Rachel was "too much".
      • A careful look at Maroni's behavior suggests he never really approved of the Joker or his methods. He seems surprised and slightly alarmed to hear his associates hired the clown because "we haff to fix reel problem- Bat-muhn". Maroni wants to turn things back to the way they were before, the mob had all the power and authority. He has no interest in the Joker's blatant anarchy, which explains why he turns on the Joker as soon as they retrieve the money (ironically, Maroni does exactly what The Joker predicts will happen to Batman: "They need you right now... but when they don't? They'll cast you out. Like a leper.").
      • When the Joker and his mooks rob a bank, the banker (who has been watching the gang of robbers shooting each other so they'd keep more of the money for themselves) points out the apparent decline in the standards local evil holds itself to.

    Banker: Criminals in this town used to believe in things; honour, respect. Look at you, what do you believe in?

      • The Joker mockingly uses this on Batman, about how he let him kill people. "Even for a guy like me, that's cold."
    • Every Scar Has a Story: The Joker takes this quite literally, as he tells multiple differing accounts about how he got his.
    • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: And that is why the Joker's "social experiment" fails.
      • Evil cannot even understand lesser evil, apparently.
    • Eviler Than Thou: The Joker constantly berates small-time crooks and mobsters for being petty and shallow enough to care only about profit while ignoring loftier ideals of Evil:

    You and your kind, all you care about is money. This city deserves a better class of criminal. And I'm gonna give it to them!

    • Evil Is Not a Toy: The mob was content with using the Joker to advance their own interest. That is until he decides he doesn't want to work with them anymore and starts doing worse to them than Batman ever did.
    • Evil Is Stylish: The Joker loves elaborate sadistic choices, playing cards (both as his business card and signature at some of his killings), and dropping clues about his next targets. After he fails to kill Harvey Dent, he puts nametags on two men he killed reading "Harvey" and "Dent" the next night to taunt him. He's also immediately impressed by Harvey's very villainous Heads-or-Tails gimmick.
    • Evil Laugh: The Joker both plays this straight and deliberately mocks it. Which is why he's the Joker. He even gets someone to read one off cue cards in the Dead Line News scene.
    • Exactly What I Aimed At: "He missed!" No. No he did not.
    • Exact Words: A peril both of working with and of confronting the Joker.
      • And a real world example with Christopher Nolan's statement that Harvey didn't survive the fall. Many fans take this as an implication that the good man Harvey Dent died, leaving only the evil Two Face.
    • Excuse Me, Coming Through: People run to get out of Batman's way when he drives the Batcycle through a mall.
    • Expy: Detective Wuertz was originally going to be Detective Harvey Bullock, a long-time member of the Batman supporting cast from the comics, and Detective Ramirez was going to be Detective Renee Montoya, who was created for Batman: The Animated Series and was then introduced into the comics. The producers decided to recreate them as original characters because of what happens in the third act, which did not match the character of the characters as previously established. This is clearest in Batman: Gotham Knight, an animated anthology film that bridged Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, which introduced Ramirez and featured her partnered with Montoya's comic-book partner Crispus Allen.
    • Eye Scream: "How about a magic trick? I'm going to make this pencil disappear."
    • Face Heel Turn: Harvey Dent --> Two-Face.
    • Faking the Dead:
      • Gordon's apparent demise.
      • Then at the end, Batman pulls this when Dent shoots him. He waits until Gordon's son is about to get shot, and then tackles him.
    • Fallen Hero: Harvey Dent.
    • False Reassurance: Two-Face confronts someone who wronged him looking for information. When asked whether providing that information will save him, Two-Face says it couldn't hurt his chances. This suggests a more merciful outcome, until it turns out his survival is based on a coin toss. Combined with Exact Words, Two-Face says it couldn't hurt HIS chances, not the driver's.
    • False Roulette: Harvey Dent interrogates one of the Joker's henchmen this way. The revolver is fully loaded, but he's using a two-headed coin, so there's no risk. Not that the henchman or Batman know this. When Batman arrives on the scene, he's quick to call What the Hell, Hero?

    Batman: You'd leave a man's life to chance?
    Harvey: Not exactly.

    • Family-Unfriendly Death: Specifically, the brutal subversion of the Final Speech. The Dark Knight is rated PG-13, probably because Nolan puts the killing blows off-screen. There's also surprisingly little blood in the film. Nevertheless, the amount of sheer menace the movie manages to wring out of its rating makes it arguably more terrifying than many R-rated Gorn-fests.
    • Fast Roping: The Gotham SWAT team employs this trope to raid the Joker's HQ. Batman comes by later and when he realizes that the hostages and captors have switched clothes, he uses the same rappel lines they used to to tie them up and knock them out.
    • Faux Affably Evil: The Joker has long thrived on being this, but the fact that he is still funny despite the sheer number of vile acts he commits here may set a new standard for the trope.
    • Fiction 500: Bruce Wayne (or his father) would definitely be somewhere near the top.
    • Final Speech: Brutally subverted with Rachel, who is Killed Mid-Sentence.
    • Fingerprinting Air: Batman pulls a fingerprint from a computer reconstruction of a bullet that had been shot into a wall. Also an example of Artistic License Physics, as there's no way a fingerprint could have gotten where it was on the bullet in the first place, and even if there was, it would have been destroyed from the heat of the explosion from being fired and the rifling inside the barrel, but even if it wasn't, it would have been scratched off after entering the wall, but even if it wasn't, the bullet wouldn't have fragmented in to a dozen pieces, it would have warped and pancaked, distorting the print beyond usability.
      • And it could have been a lot easier to pick up spent bullet cases.
    • Foil: In this version, Two-Face is envisioned as one for Batman. Since he's killed off before he can become a fixture in Batman's Rogues Gallery, his main role is that of an embittered man who abandons a position of wealth and power to become a vigilante after he's traumatized by the murder of a loved one. But unlike Batman, he has no qualms about killing, he openly believes in vengeance, and he has none of Batman's self-discipline or sense of responsibility (which is why he uses a coin toss to avoid having to make hard decisions).
    • Foreshadowing: Detective Ramirez admits early in the film that her mother is checking into the hospital.
      • Harvey mentions early in the movie that "Either you die as a hero or live to see yourself become a villain. He becomes a villain because he survived the bomb, and Batman literally sees himself become a villain because he needed to save Harvey's reputation.
    • For the Evulz: The Joker's motive. A rare straight example that works.
      • Possibly the Scarecrow, who deals intentionally-poisoned drugs.
    • Freudian Excuse: Mocked by the Joker, who gives differing accounts of how he got his scars depending on who he's talking to. In the end, the Joker has no reason for what he does, he simply is.
      • Ramirez was apparently forced to kidnap Rachel Dawes due to her needing funding for her mother's hospital bills.
    • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Joker. See Not So Harmless below.
    • Gambit Roulette: The entirety of Joker's plan. He even lampshades this, saying that he has no plan and that he's just doing things to see what happens.

    "You know what I am? I'm a dog chasing cars. I wouldn't know what to do with one if I caught it!"

      • Might be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
        • He's clearly aware of what individuals will do in his little Sadistic Choice scenarios, and cleverly makes this predictable response the wrong answer. So he sets up a situation, predicts what will happen, and plans out a way to punish the test-taker.
    • Gatling Good: Bruce Wayne conducts a ballistics test using Gatling guns. Since they only fire a single round at a time there is absolutely no reason to have them other than Rule of Cool and Screw the Rules, I Have Money -- which entirely fit his persona.
    • Generic Ethnic Crime Gang: Besides The Mafia, Gotham has a black mafia (led by Gambol) and a Chechen mafiya (led by, well, The Chechen). They seem to have reconciled their differences in order to stop Batman from ruining their business.
      • At the very least, Maroni and the Chechen seem to be friends regardless of the situation. They shake hands at the gang meeting, and later they're shown having lunch together.
    • Genre Savvy: Detective Stephens, the cop in charge of watching the Joker. He refuses to play along with the Joker's Hannibal Lecture, telling him: "I know the difference between punks who need to be taught a little lesson in manners, and the freaks like you who would just enjoy it." When he ends up falling for it anyway (because the Joker's just that good) and is held hostage at knifepoint, he says to the other officers: "It's my own damn fault, just shoot!" For the Joker himself, see Dangerously Genre Savvy.
    • Genre Shift: The Dark Knight has much more in common with crime dramas and thrillers than with straight-up superhero films, and it abandons the elements of adventure and mysticism that Batman Begins used heavily.
    • Get Into Jail Free: The Joker does this in order to kidnap Lau to make him reveal where the mobsters' money is.
    • Give the Villain a Hero's Funeral: The Dark Knight ends with this: after Joker corrupts Harvey Dent into killing five people and nearly murders Gordon's young child, Batman and Commissioner Gordon discuss that if word gets out about the truth, all the work that Harvey did will be for nothing because the criminals in jail will get released on mistrial. Batman looks at Dent's body, and turns it over to hide the Two-Face. He convinces Gordon to frame Batman for the murders instead. The movie ends with Harvey receiving a full civil servant funeral.
    • Glasgow Grin: The Joker.
    • Godzilla Threshold: this is essentially what The Joker is for this version of Gotham's criminal underworld, unfortunately for everyone involved, no one was quite prepared it. Alfred summarily lampshades:

    Bruce: I knew the mob wouldn't go down without a fight, but this is different. They crossed the line.
    Alfred: You crossed the line first, sir. You squeezed them, you hammered them to the point of desperation. And in their desperation they turned to a man they didn't fully understand.

    • Good Cop, Bad Cop: The Joker accurately predicts that Gordon intends to use a form of this interrogation technique. However, he's caught off guard by discovering that the bad cop is Batman ...even though he still doesn't talk until he wants to.
    • Good Is Boring: Subverted, in that the one who thinks so and stands up for the opposite is the Joker.
    • Good Is Not Dumb: Batman is portrayed as such; most of the plot revolves around the Joker trying to get Batman to break his moral code and prove that, deep down, everybody is just like him and that Batman's idealism is misplaced.
    • Goomba Stomp: In this case, Batman does it to a van.
    • Gory Discretion Shot:
      • A tweaked example: "Wanna see a magic trick? I'm gonna make this pencil disappear!" We see how it's done, but to keep the PG-13 rating, the horrible turnout is done without the horrific bloodsplatter such a "trick" would warrant in actuality.
      • A more traditional example occurs when the Joker kills Gambol. From a shot of the the Joker holding a knife in Gambol's cheek, we get a split-second cut to a henchman's horrified expression, then a shot from the other side of the room as the Joker drops Gambol.
        • Arguably the discretions are worse than being outright shown, allowing the audience to fill in the blanks themselves.
    • Groin Attack: How Rachel avoids having a smile put on her face by the Joker. Disturbingly, the Joker smiles in response. He's pretty obviously a major masochist. His response to pain is nothing like normal.
    • Guile Hero: Harvey Dent because of his political status and indirect, mostly non-violent means which, before his transformation into Harvey Two-Face, made him more effective than even Batman in his role to clean up Gotham City from the mob.
    • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Between the Joker and Batman throughout the entire movie. The Joker even lampshades this in the final scene between the two of them:

    Joker: This is what happens when an unstoppable force... meets an immovable object. (sighs) You... truly are... incorruptible, aren't you?


    Joker: (after Rachel kicks him) A little fight in you. I like that.
    Batman: (just off-screen) Then you're gonna love me. *PUNCH*

    • Hero Insurance: Batman doesn't have it, but Gordon does: The chase sequence results in a very high bodycount among the police escorts (see Hellish Copter for instance), but they do arrest the Joker at the end of it, so Gordon gets promoted to commisioner. And he isn't even demoted back once it turns out the Joker planned to get arrested and breaks out.
    • Hero with Bad Publicity: Batman himself at the end of the movie.
    • High Altitude Interrogation: Subverted and Lampshaded in The Dark Knight. Batman wasn't threatening to kill Maroni to get his information but looking to use the situation in a novel way that would actually make this Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
    • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Joker feeds the Chechen gangster to his own dogs. Fortunately, this happens offscreen.
    • Hollywood Law: Local district attorneys cannot charge RICO offenses. Not even the local US Attorneys can, it has to come directly from the Department of Justice. Dent's mass-trial would also count, but the movie points out that he doesn't expect it to succeed and it's only proceeding because of his local stature.
    • Hope Spot: An In-Universe one for Harvey; he's lying in a hospital bed recovering from a bomb blast, convinced that Rachel is dead. Then he finds the lucky coin he gave her the last time he saw her alive, left by the side of his bed. He turns it over... the other side's been charred by an explosion.
    • Hot Chick in a Badass Suit: Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal) while interrogating a guy. Looks like she should be carrying a rapier.
    • The Hyena: The Joker, of course.
    • I Am Spartacus: When the Joker threatens to keep killing people until Batman unmasks and turns himself in, Harvey Dent makes a public confession that he is Batman and surrenders to the police.
    • I'm Not A Hero. I'm whatever Gotham needs me to be.
    • Indy Ploy: The Joker claims to be doing this, but it's really, really unlikely most of the time, considering the fact that he knew exactly how everyone in the city would react right up until the grand finale, with Batman himself being the only wild card, and a minor one at that. Considering how well everything worked out, it's more likely he's falling back on the character's long standing similarity to Batman, doing what he can to plan ahead and making up what he can't.

    Joker: Do I really look like a guy with a plan?

        • YES.
    • Ironic Echo: Not as frequent as it was in Batman Begins, but there are some considerably impactful ones here.
      • "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
      • "I am sure a businessman of your stature would understand." Repeated within the same scene.
      • "I make my own luck" is echoed with "you make your own luck."
      • Harvey's fundraiser is absolutely loaded with them, subtle though they may seem. Both Bruce and the Joker enter the party announcing that they're only just in time; both immediately ask "Where is Harvey Dent?" upon arriving; both spill champagne out of a glass, and so on and so forth.
    • Irony: Commissioner Loeb telling Lieutenant Gordon "You're unlikely to discover this for yourself" about what being a police commissioner is like. Even people who didn't know Gordon would be Commissioner after Loeb's death were reasonably assured he would eventually follow a similar career path to the comics.
    • It Got Worse: It starts with the DA and his assistant/fiancee kidnapped and strapped to time bombs and just goes downhill from there.
    • I Will Show You X: During an argument between a witness on the stand and Harvey Dent:

    Dent: I have a sworn statement from you that [points to Maroni] this man is the head of the Falcone crime family.
    Witness: Maroni? He's a fall guy. I'm the brains of the organization!
    Dent (to judge): Your honour, permission to treat the witness as hostile?
    Judge: Permission granted.
    Witness: Hostile? I'll show you hostile!
    Witness pulls out a gun and tries to fire it. The gun jams.

    • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Used three times. Interestingly, it's never really effective.
      • When Batman beats up the Joker. Even discussed, as the Joker criticizes Batman's technique while Batman is beating him. This case comes with a surprise. The Joker had always been planning to give up accurate locations...he just lied about who was where to screw with Batman's head. Of course, considering how he took a long time to divulge the locations, it probably wouldn't have mattered if he did tell the truth about who was where.
      • Batman also throws a man off a roof, breaking both his legs, in order to get information (although it doesn't work because the man in question pointed out that the fall wouldn't kill him, which Batman implies is exactly the reason why he chose that height). It still doesn't work, as the man doesn't really know anything about The Joker anyway; and even if he did he is far more scared of The Joker than Batman.

    Batman: He must have friends!
    Salvatore Maroni: [incredulous] Friends? Have you *met* this guy? ... No one's gonna tell you nothin'. They're wise to your act. You got rules. The Joker, he's got no rules. No one's gonna cross him to you.

      • Dent ain't so bad at this himself. He uses his flip-a-coin Russian roulette technique several times to get some answers. Although, because he uses a 2 sided coin, he doesn't exactly leave a man's life to chance. Not for the first half of the film, anyway.
    • Joker Immunity: Played straight here, despite being Darker and Edgier than the previous film series, which killed him off.
    • Kansas City Shuffle: Or perhaps we should say Gotham City Shuffle? When The Joker threatened to kill the mayor, both Batman and the police assumed that the Joker or whoever he hired would be shooting from a window; the police set up a few officers to watch the windows, while Batman had a brick with a hole in it from a previous Joker murder analyzed to determine the "fingerprints" of the culprit, then went to the home address of said culprit when the mayor and parade were near it. It turned out that the Joker was disguised as a police officer, and while the police were watching the windows and Batman was in the apartment of the "culprit," Joker took his gun and fired at the mayor. Somewhat subverted in that Gordon took a bullet for the mayor. Somewhat double-subverted in that Joker was quite content to kill Gordon instead.
      • It wasn't just the Joker. If you watch closely, it's the ENTIRE honor guard. Doing the three-volley salute.
    • Kick the Dog: Joker gets Dent's face burned and his girlfriend killed. He then shows up to Dent's hospital bed to basically says, "Hey, it's your own damn fault for having plans in the first place." He's LITERALLY adding insult to injury.
    • Killed Mid-Sentence: Rachel Dawes.
      • "Harvey. Harvey, listen to me. It's going to be okay. Listen. Some -" BOOM
      • Bus driver?! What bus dri SMASH.
    • Knife Nut: Joker. He even explains why. Though he isn't entirely averse to using guns.
    • Large Ham: Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne had to be a ham, but he does it as Batman as well. That voice must require some pastilles) and Heath Ledger's Joker.
    • Laughably Evil: Again, the Joker.
    • Let Me Tell You a Story: Bruce Wayne is trying to figure out The Joker's motivations. Alfred tells him this:

    Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.
    Bruce: Then why steal them?
    Alfred: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.


    "Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too quick. You can't savor all the little... emotions."

    • Madden Into Misanthropy: The Joker pulls an extreme version of this on Harvey Dent.
    • Manipulative Bastard: Salvatore Maroni, a.k.a. the only person to profit from The Joker's presence...until he forgets to put on his seatbelt. The Joker too, especially in the way he manipulates Harvey Dent.
    • Mind Rape: Of all the Joker's acts of callous villainy and casual disregard for human dignity, none is worse than his turning of Harvey Dent into a vengeful monster by warping his mind during his vulnerable time of grief over Rachel's death.
    • Misplaced Retribution: Rather than going after the Joker who actually orchestrated his tragedy, Two-Face goes after everyone who was involved in the events, no matter how weakly or by how many degrees of separation, even to the point of threatening Gordon's son.
      • But he did, he gave the Joker a coin toss just like everyone else.
    • Money to Burn: "I'm a man of simple tastes... dynamite... gunpowder... and gasoline. Do you know what all of these things have in common? They're cheap!" And what does he do with said items? (among other things) Why, what the trope says, of course...literally.
    • Monster Clown: Joker, obviously.
    • Morally-Bankrupt Banker: The mob banker in the second film.
    • Multiple Choice Past: In a nod to the comics (especially The Killing Joke), the Joker gives several tragic backstories about himself. "Wanna know how I got these scars?"
    • My Card: The Joker (it's... a joker card).
    • Mythology Gag: Joker's method of driving Two-Face to madness was very similar to a storyarc in Gotham Knights where Two-Face was getting close to being rehabilitated, but then Joker drives him insane again by implying that Bruce Wayne and Grace Lamont were having an affair.
      • Batman facing the Joker at the very top of a high building has a noticable similarlity to the final showdown in the 1989 Tim Burton movie. Joker actually falling to his Disney Villain Death probably would have sealed the deal.
      • In the first courtroom scene, one of Maroni's goons pulls a gun on Harvey while he's on the stand, but Harvey nonchalantly punches the goon out before he can pull the trigger. This is a nod to Two-Face's origin in the comics, where his facial scars were the result of a mob flunky trying to kill him in the middle of a trial.
      • In one scene, a teenage criminal laughs at his friend for being too afraid of Batman to go out at night, skeptically asking "What are you, superstitious?" This is, a nod to Batman's famous declaration that "Criminals are a superstitious, cowardly lot..."
    • N-Word Privileges: The Joker can call himself and Batman "freaks," but if anybody else tries it...
    • Never Be a Hero: Subverted. The "Batman dopplegangers" were fighting with the intent to kill, so Batman had every reason to be upset. Also, they lacked the training and equipment that Batman had, meaning it was only a matter of time before they got killed. Which one of them did.
    • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailer and pre-release material present the Bat-Pod as if it's just Batman's new toy. The truth is, however, more sobering. It's the Batmobile's ejection system, and the only reason Batman is using it is because the Batmobile was destroyed.
    • Nietzsche Wannabe: Two-Face, with his talk of Chance being the only moral law in the world. The Joker would be a Nietzsche Wannabe, except that wouldn't nearly begin to encompass his craziness. At the beginning of the film, he paraphrases a quote from Nietzsche: "I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you... stranger."
    • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The last fight between Joker and Batman is a borderline example of this. Sure, Batman puts up a BIT of a fight, but that doesn't stop Joker from sending attack dogs after him, beating him with a crowbar while the dogs are on him, knocking him into a net after he escapes the dogs, repeatedly kicking him while he's caught in the net, and knocking him throw a window when he's escaped from said net. Not that the Joker should've been expected to show any restraint in the first place...
      • This is because, of course, the Joker's combat flailing would be no match for a trained fighter whose outfit is made of super-advanced body armor. Among all of this, though, is that the sonar headset Batman is wearing happens to be malfunctioning in part from the blow to the head Joker opens with. Toe to toe, in a fair fight, the Joker is OBVIOUSLY outclassed. That's why he never fights fair.

    Joker: "You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for Gotham's a fistfight with you?"

        • This is almost highlighted given its comparison to the showdown in the 1989 Batman movie, where, atop an equally high building, Batman gives the less well armed Joker a damn sound beating, before the latter almost throws him to his death. Adding to that Batman turning down the same opportunity used to finish him off in the original film, the whole final showdown almost seems like a Mythology Gag.
    • Noodle Incident: A minor one at the state funeral for the commisioner.

    Mayor: "When I first took this job, I asked him if he wanted to stay on as commissioner. He said..."
    Cuts to Bruce for a few minutes.
    Mayor: "Clearly, he was not a man who minced words. Nor should he have been. A number of policies that he enacted as commissioner were unpopular."
    (Probably foreshadowing, given how rapidly Batman's popularity declines after the funeral...)

      • If you watch the movie with the subtitles on, you can see that he said, "as long as you keep your politics out of my office".
    • Not So Harmless: The Joker. Though aware of his crimes, at first Batman and the authorities just see him as "one man," and focus on bringing down the mobsters. The mobsters, for their part, regard him as a "nobody" as well...
    • Ominous Walk: Subverted: The Joker starts one of these after Batman loses at chicken, then starts to jauntily skip after a few seconds.
    • Omnicidal Maniac: The Joker.
    • One-Scene Wonder: The Scary Black Man (Tommy Lister) on the convicts' barge, who "does what the guards shoulda done ten minutes ago": He throws the detonator out the window.
      • Jonathan Crane early in the film too, though he was a much more significant character in Begins.
      • The Bank Manager (William Fichtner) who very calmly reacts to robbers in his bank... by whipping out a shotgun.
    • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Joker, if "nickname" is a good word for it.
      • The CIA agent in the intro of The Dark Knight Rises introduces himself as "I'm CIA". Averted in the novel version where he's given the codename "Bill Wilson"
    • Orbital Shot: The Joker and Rachel. "Is it the scars? Want to know how I got them?"
    • Overshadowed by Awesome: In The Dark Knight, The Joker overshadows Batman. In the first movie Batman was given central focus, and the villains did not eclipse him. The sequel is more of a "Joker movie" than a "Batman movie", with Heath Ledger getting all the best lines and outperforming Bale in every scene. Overall the movie suceeds, since The Villain Makes the Plot.
    • Palantir Ploy: The Bat-Cell-Phone-Sonar machine.
    • The Paragon: Harvey Dent. This makes him the target of just about everybody.
    • The Pen Is Mightier: "How about a magic trick?"
    • Pet the Dog: Chechen LITERALLY pets his dogs, early in the movie, while calling them his "little princes".This makes it all the more disturbing when, later in the movie, Joker threatens to cut Chechen up, and feed him to those dogs, for calling him a freak.
    • Phony Newscast: There are newscasts during the film reporting on the Joker and the Batman; in the DVD extras you're treated to 4 fake in-depth newscasts about Gotham.
    • Physical Scars, Psychological Scars: The Joker subverts this since his different stories about how he got his physical "scars" (which are apparently supposed to be a metaphor for his mental scars) contradict each other, implying in turn that he's probably not being truthful about his mental scars either. Harvey Dent, however, plays it straight because his face was burned in the same incident that killed his girlfriend, Rachel Dawes.
    • Pineapple Surprise: What The Joker threatens to do to escape a room full of mobsters.
    • Plot Immunity: Jim Gordon and his fake death scheme.
    • Poser Hating: Batman does not find imitation flattering. Especially if his imitators are dressing like him but ready to use lethal force.
    • The Power of Legacy: At the end of the film, after Harvey Dent's death, Batman tells Gordon to tell the police force that it was Batman, not Harvey, who was responsible for Harvey's murders, so that Harvey does not lose his white knight reputation. The Joker must not win.
    • Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: During the fundraising party for Harvey Dent:
    • Precision F-Strike:
      • In the opening, if you listen carefully, you can hear Grumpy say "what the fuck?" after he is shot in the shoulder.
      • It's not a terribly obvious one, but after Batman fails to hit him with the Batpod, the Joker mouths the f-word. Blink and you'll miss it.
      • Later in the same scene, Gordon says "we got you, you son of a bitch" when he (temporarily) captures the Joker.
    • Preemptive Declaration:

    Joker: No no no, I kill the bus driver.


    Joker: You know how I got these scars?
    Batman: No, but I know how you got these! (launches his spring loaded scallops at Joker's face)


    Joker: If you're good at something, never do it for free.

    • Psychopathic Manchild: Just as an accountant was about to give in to one of Joker's earlier threats (reveal the identity of Batman or people die) he goes on TV to announce that he changed his mind, that he decides that a world without Batman would be too boring, and that if said accountant was not killed in less than an hour, that he would blow up a hospital.
    • Psycho Strings: On the soundtrack the Joker's one-note theme is made mostly of these. (One note? You have to listen to it to understand.)
      • The theme's feel could be compared to a swarm of wasps from hell trapped inside your brain and buzzing around for an exit. Or the screeching drone of an oncoming train. It still wouldn't do it justice.
      • Hint: Listen to it with headphones or surround-sound.
    • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Why. so. serious?"
      • From the same speech: "Not. One. Bit."
      • "LOOK! AT! ME!"
    • Put the Laughter In Slaughter: Trope Namer.
    • Rank Up: Jim Gordon is promoted to Commissioner in the movie.
    • Real Life Writes the Plot: It is possible that the ending of TDK was setting up Joker to return in the Rises (he doesn't die, he says they'll be doing this forever, etc)... but then Heath Ledger died. It's since been confirmed Joker won't be in Rises, and a lot of people suspect the lack of Joker in Rises was not part of the original plan.
    • Reckless Gun Usage: The Joker ignores all gun-handling rules, but being the Joker, he probably doesn't care at all if he accidentally shoots someone. Or himself, for that matter. Hell, he'd probably think it was hilarious. In fact, there is a scene where he stumbles and accidentally sprays a burst of S&W M76 fire in a random direction.
      • Harvey Dent is flipping a two-headed coin so he won't purposely shoot someone he was interrogating, but he was still pressing a loaded gun to that man's head. But, again, this is Harvey Two-Face we're talking about.
    • Redemption Equals Death: Even Maroni has had enough of all this and gives the cops the Joker's location. Two-Face finds him soon afterwards.
    • Retired Badass: Alfred apparently did some military spec-ops work some time before being Bruce's butler, providing him with anecdotal experience concerning the Joker's MO.
      • The story also goes to hint at a rather dark side to the generally pleasant and amiable sophisticate:

    Bruce: Alfred, the bandit, did you ever catch him?
    Alfred: Oh, yes.
    Bruce: How?
    Alfred: We burned the forest down.

    • Right-Hand Attack Dog: The Chechen owns a pack of them. After The Joker apparently feeds The Chechen to his own dogs, he adopts the pooches and uses them against Batman in the final showdown.
    • Right Behind Me: "Don't tell me it's Wayne. The guy's a complete f--"
    • Rousseau Was Right: See The movie's a little too complicated to be summed as "People are really nice," but generally speaking, yep, you heard me right. Not all people are bastards. In a Darker and Edgier Batman movie.
    • Rule of Three: The Joker's third "scar story" is subverted by Batman.
      • Subverted... by Batman. Played straight... by the movie itself. And double subverted... due to both. We never hear Joker's third story but Batman giving him scars makes the movie itself a third story. As a result somehow manages to fit all three.

    Joker: You know how I got these scars?
    Batman: No, but I know how you got these.
    (Batman launches his gauntlet spikes point-blank into Joker's face)

    • The Sadistic Choice: Joker has several in The Dark Knight. So much so that Roger Ebert interprets this concept as one of Joker's main themes.

    Ebert: The Joker is more than a villain. He’s a Mephistopheles whose actions are fiendishly designed to pose moral dilemmas for his enemies.

      • It seems notable that the messenger of chaos is the one with the most elaborate 'plans'.
    • Scare Chord: The Joker's leitmotif.
    • Scary Black Man: Gambol.
      • Even scarier is the prisoner on the ferry, who offers to blow up the other boat, only to throw the detonator out the window.
        • Helps that the actor has basically made a career of playing the scary black man. Or, at the very least, the scary black comic relief.
    • Scheherazade Gambit: Variant when The Joker is captured by the police. Using only his words, he manipulates a police officer into attacking him, then takes the officer hostage.
    • Screams Like a Little Girl: Salvatore Maroni as he's dropped from the second floor by Batman.
    • Screw the Pain Medication: Gordon mentions in the hospital that Harvey Dent refuses to take any pain medication, despite having half his face burned off. He isn't willing to get a skin graft, either.
    • Should Have Thought of That Before X:

    Maroni: This madness... it's just too much.
    Gordon: You should have thought of that before you let that clown out of the box.


    Batman: What were you trying to prove? That deep down, everyone's as ugly as you? You're alone!

    • "Shut Up" Kiss: Harvey to Rachael, after his press conference.
    • Smash the Symbol This moment is after Batman said he would take the blame for Harvey Dent's murders; it's implied that people are smashing the bat-signal to symbolize their increasing disapproval of Batman. This is a somewhat unconventional approach to this trope, seeing as how rather than portraying it as destroying the symbol of a villain, it is instead destroying the symbol of a hero who is (willingly) being mistaken for a villain.
    • Smug Snake: Maroni. Just look at that smile.
    • Spanner in the Works: The Joker is a self-proclaimed " Agent of Chaos" - he really doesn't plan, he just sizes up his enemies' plans and attacks the weak point that causes the most chaos.

    The Joker: I just did what I do best — I took your little plan, and I turned it on itself.

    • The Spook: Both Batman and The Joker.
    • Stealth Pun: The Joker blocks a stretch of road with a vehicle on fire. It's a fire truck. Just another way the Joker Crosses the Line Twice.
      • By the end of the second act, the Batmobile had lost a wheel (the Batpod), and the Joker got away.
      • During the trip to China:

    Lucius Fox: It emits a high-frequency pulse for mapping an environment and records a response time.
    Bruce Wayne: Sonar. Just like a...
    Lucius Fox: Like a submarine, Mr. Wayne. Like a submarine.

      • The final dilemma Joker presents is similar to the Prisoner's Dilemma. One of the parties in the dilemma is a ferry full of convicts.
      • Bruce Wayne drives a Lamborghini Murcielago... Murcielago is Spanish for "Bat".
    • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: A major theme of the Joker's actions in this movie.
    • Stuffed Into the Fridge: One of the main criticisms of the film, besides Batman's voice, is Rachel's unceremonious death at the end of the second act.
    • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Rachel, though not in the first few minutes.
    • Take a Third Option: Sadistically subverted with Rachel and Harvey. Played straight during the Prisoner's Dilemma in the film's climax.
    • Taking the Bullet: Jim Gordon does this for the mayor. Later it's combined with Car Fu when the Batmobile takes a rocket propelled grenade for Harvey Dent's paddy wagon.
      • And when Bruce Wayne uses the Lamborghini to block a pickup truck from smashing the police SUV.
    • Technical Pacifist: Batman won't outright kill anyone, but he has no qualms dropping a man from a fire escape because he probably won't die from the fall.
    • Tempting Fate: "He's going to need something a lot bigger than that to get through this truck!" Cue the freaking rocket launcher.

    Policeman: "Wha...! Is that a bazooka??"


    Gordon: Thank you.
    Batman: You don't have to thank me.
    Gordon: Yes, I do.


    Stephens: I'm a twenty year man. And I know the difference between punks who need to be taught a little lesson in manners, and the freaks like you who would just enjoy it.

    • Torture Always Works: Subverted hard by the Joker during Batman's interrogation: "You have nothing! Nothing to threaten me with! Nothing to do with all your strength!"
    • Trailers Always Spoil: Many people knew Gordon wasn't Killed Off for Real because of the Joker's trailer line of "Good eeeevening, Commissioner." Gordon hadn't yet been made commissioner at the time of his supposed 'death'.
      • To be fair you never see him actually saying it to Gordon but still.
        • You do. Right when Gordon enters the interrogation room after the Joker's been captured.
      • Also, we see Gordon smash the Bat-Signal in the final trailer, something that hadn't happened at that time in the film.
      • Although it wasn't exactly guaranteed, it was pretty doubtful that Gordon was going to die before he became Commisioner.
    • Trauma Conga Line: Harvey Dent loses the love of his life and half of his face in one day. It doesn't take much for The Joker to push him over the edge after that.
    • Troll: What The Joker will resort to when his target has no other obvious flaw he can utilize to get inside their heads.
    • Two-Headed Coin: Played straight by Harvey; brutally Subverted when he becomes Two-Face and the coin gets marked on one side.
    • Under the Truck: Not a chase scene, since the Joker is coming at Batman head on in a truck, while Batman races towards him on the Batpod. However Batman fires two tow cables that hit the truck and then proceeds to weave in and out between the wheels of the trailer to tie it up. Because the Batpod is built low to the ground and the truck is quite high off the ground, he doesn't need to slide, just drive normally.
    • The Unfettered: The Joker.
    • Unflinching Walk: Lucius Fox.
      • Played for laughs with the Joker when he blows up the Gotham General Hospital. He starts walking away without looking back, only to notice the explosions have stopped. Joker turns around and starts fiddling with the detonator, but nothing happens. He fiddles with the detonator some more, until he's startled by a huge explosion. Joker then resumes walking away without looking back...only now he's walking much faster than before.
    • Unhand Them, Villain!: The Joker does this to Rachel when Batman tells him to let her go. She happens to be hanging halfway out a window.

    Joker: Very poor choice of words!

    • Unreliable Narrator: The Joker, naturally.
    • Unwanted Rescue: Harvey. "NO! NOT ME! WHY ARE YOU COMING FOR ME?!" Doubly so, as Batman also wanted to save Rachel over Harvey. The Joker's just a bitch like that..
    • Viewers are Morons/Viewers Are Goldfish: One would assume that a room full of cops and lawyers knows what RICO is.
      • When two corpses are discovered whose last names are Harvey and Dent, respectively, Ramirez has to remind us that one characters' name is Harvey Dent and that the dead guys' names are supposed to allude to him.
    • Villainous Breakdown: The Joker has an understated version of this at the end of The Dark Knight, in contrast to his usual over-the-top theatrics: when the people of Gotham refuse to play his game and reveal themselves to have a core of decency, and it looks like his ultra-nihilistic view of the world might be wrong after all, he goes very, very still...
      • When a guy named The Joker suddenly becomes very sullen and grumpy...
    • Villain Team-Up: Joker and Two-Face... ssssssssorta. Harvey hates Joker with a passion, but Joker is the one who pushes Two-Face into villainy, and Joker uses Two-Face to sow extra chaos and divert the Gotham PD's attention long enough to set up his next major "social experiment".
    • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Two-Face, and maybe even the Joker. Two-Face has simply given up on the law, while the Joker is trying to wake people up Tyler Durden style.
      • He's not trying to wake them up, he's trying to break them down so they'll be at his level. Tyler thought he was at the top; The Joker knows he's at the bottom, and loves it.
      • The Joker also loves chaos, is definitely Ax Crazy and enjoys ruining lives For the Evulz; he isn't that well intentioned...he seems to want To Create a Playground For Evil and wants to break Gotham's hope; as he says so to Batman at the Prewitt Building. It's why he drove Harvey Dent insane at the hospital. Judging by his speech that broke Harvey Dent; he probably wanted Harvey to believe he's well intentioned, so Two-Face would embrace both chaos and murder (effectively making Harvey a Fallen Hero which if found out]]; would ruin Gotham's hope).
    • Wham! Episode: The end of the second act, which starts with Harvey and Rachel getting kidnapped and ends with Rachel's death. None of the protagonists emerge unscathed.
    • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: There seems to be a subtle theme about dogs in The Dark Knight. Seriously. Go back and watch it again, looking out for references to, and appearances by, dogs. The meaning behind them is debatable, but it can't be coincidence.
      • Dogs are a symbol for the Joker. He's the "dog chasing cars" and the ultimate cynic. At first, the Chechen mobster has dogs on a leash -- to deal with Batman -- but by the end the dogs are turned against their former master in the same way the Joker basically overthrew the mobsters' control. Also, there's probably some Cerberus thing you could take from the three dogs.
      • Look at The Joker leaning his head out of the police car's window after his escape.
      • The Joker is symbolic in another way: he's almost more an anarchic, chaotic force of destruction than a man, and exemplifies the theme of corruption. You see it throughout the movie, how he seeps like a poison into every corrupt and dark underside of Gotham, undermining order, twisting Harvey Dent's righteous anger into something evil, and even undermining Batman's confidence in what he's doing.
      • Go to the next step: The Joker's very identity is symbolic. In a game of cards, the Joker is often a wild card: it becomes precisely what you need it to be to further your agenda, but of itself, it has no face value or significance; it just upsets the other players' agendas by coming seemingly out of nowhere. Thus...the Joker's multiple-choice history and his lack of real identity.
      • "It'll stand up to a cat." If I have to explain this...
      • For a more straightforward example, when Rachel and Harvey are kidnapped the lights in the warehouse where Harvey is held are on, whereas Rachel's are switched off. Could also qualify as Foreshadowing, but only by a few seconds.
    • What the Hell, Hero?: Pulled by the Joker, of all people.

    Joker: I wanted to see what you'd do, and you didn't disappoint. You let five people die. Then, you let Dent take your place. Even to a guy like me, that's cold.

      • Technically, Batman did not plan on the latter part, as Bruce Wayne did indeed intend to turn himself in, but Dent ended up taking his place. Wayne's reaction shows that this was definitely not something that he had anticipated. On that note, Rachel Dawes' reaction to this was also similar to The Joker's.
      • Pulled earlier by Batman when Harvey Dent attempts to interrogate one of the Joker's men using a revolver and his coin.

    Batman: You'd leave a man's life to chance?!

      • The 'hero' part might be debatable, but Harvey does this to Ramirez, when he confronts her for delivering Rachel to the Joker.

    Dent: (after cutting off Ramirez mid-excuse) You didn't know what they were going to do to me. You're the second cop to say that to me. What exactly did you think they were going to do?

      • When the Scary Black Man on the ferry is facing down the Warden, he tells him in blunt terms that "Give it to me, and I'll do what you should have done ten minutes ago." Then he takes the detonator and chucks it out the window, making this a retroactive version of this trope.
      • Gordon's wife's reaction to his faking his death. He offers up a small excuse about how it was for her protection, but she still smacks him.
      • Lucius makes it clear that he is not happy with Batman's plan to use sonarised mobile phones to eavesdrop on the entire city and track down the Joker.
    • What You Are in the Dark: The Joker tries to do this on Batman, Harvey Dent, and a lot of citizens/criminals of Gotham on the boats. Only Harvey falls, while both Batman and the citizens/criminals both decide not to blow each other up. Batman even lampshades this trope by asking the Joker why he was doing this.
    • Where's the Kaboom?: Well, more "Where's the Rest of the Kaboom? ClickclickclickOh Crap".
    • Why Am I Ticking?: Joker orchestrates a prison break with a cell-phone bomb, which is sewn inside the body of one of his mooks.
    • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Why doesn't the Joker just shoot Batman? Because he doesn't want to. Batman's just too much fun!
    • The Windy City: The film was shot on location in Chicago with many of the city's distinctive streets making an appearance.
    • Would Hit a Girl: Two-Face knocked Anna Ramirez into unconsciousness, after his coin spares her life.
    • Xanatos Speed Chess: Batman has to play an insane game in the film's final minutes. Disguised Hostage Gambit with multiple SWAT teams bursting in all over the place. Batman has to quickly incapacitate SWAT teams so they don't kill the Hostages-disguised-as-Joker-thugs, and take out the real Joker thugs at the same time. There are also police Snipers targetting the disguised hostages. He ends up having to use his grapple hook in creative ways to knock over hostages to get them out of line of site while at the same time getting to floors he needs to be on, blow the floor up beneath swat teams and thugs with his bomb launcher, and use the SWAT teams' own grapple ropes to tie them together and then suspend them over the side of the building. All this thought up and implemented on the fly within a time span of two minutes.
    • X Must Not Win: Where X in this case refers to The Joker. It's such a major driving force for the good guys, especially for Batman, that at the end of the movie, Batman takes the fall for Dent's murders partly out of refusal to give Joker the satisfaction of wrecking Gotham.
    • You Did the Right Thing: In the dilemma that two ferries leaving Gotham to avoid the Joker's supposed takeover, one filled with prisoners and the other with innocent civilians, have the detonator to blow up the opposite ferry under a time limit where the penalty of indecision would be them both blowing up; Ginty, the prisoner among many prisoners on the prisoner ferry, after demanding that the detonator to the civilian ferry be handed over to him, instead of detonating it primarily to save his own life, he instead throws it out an open window into the water at the expense that the prisoner ferry could not blow up the civilian ferry, and that it could be blown up instead. This shows that he probably believes the lives of the prisoners, including him, is not worth choosing over the lives of innocent civilians.
    • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Pulled in the opening sequence of Knight, as the Joker manipulates his goons into killing each other one by one due to their greed. In the end, he walks away with the whole haul, without having to share the $68 million with his five henchmen... and only needing to kill one of the five himself.
    • You're Insane!: "No. No, I'm not."
    • Your Little Dismissive Diminutive: This version of The Joker uses a LOT of these.

    Joker (to the organized crime community): Look, I know why you choose to have your little group therapy sessions in broad daylight...
    Joker (to Batman): You just take off your little mask and show us all who you really are, hmm?
    Joker (to Batman): Does Harvey know about you and his little bunny?
    Joker (to Harvey Dent): They're schemers. Schemers trying to control their little worlds. (Referring to the police and the organized crime community alike.)
    Joker (to Harvey Dent): I just took your little plan and I turned it on itself.