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Batman is the symbol that Gotham needs, a shadow that brings justice and fear to criminals. You don't want to be a criminal in Gotham, because Batman is somewhere around and could catch you at any time. This is very well represented in Nolan's trilogy, for example.

Also (in most versions of Batman), as a symbol of justice, Batman is bound by the rule of not killing his enemies. Rather, he tries to arrest them, so that they can go to jail or Arkham Asylum.

Are criminals, and more generally normal folks in Gotham, aware of Batman's "no killing" rule? Some high-profile criminals accidentally died when fighting the Dark Knight, and their deaths were reported on by the news media, so from a layman's perspective, it could be unclear if Batman meant for them to be killed or not.

I am asking for answers from any media or continuity where the "no killing" rule is thoroughly applied.

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    Are you asking specifically about Nolan's trilogy? Batman not always had 'No Killing' rule in comics or Burton's Movies
    – HBhatia
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 7:34
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    I am asking for answers from any media or continuity where the "no killing" rule is thoroughly applied. The mention of Nolan's trilogy was just an example of how people in Gotham are generally perceiving Batman.
    – Taladris
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 7:40
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    Going by the last sentence, I'd say yes - the scope of the question is limited to works in which Batman has a rule about not killing, otherwise the question is moot. (EDIT: ninja'd by author)
    – Wolfie Inu
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 7:40
  • I dont think he ever made a public announcement in any continuity. So as your question states itself, nromal folks will always be in doubt.
    – HBhatia
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 9:15
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    There is a lot of myth surrounding batman, the criminals probably can't tell which is true and which is not. Many don't even believe he is human. Some think he is some kind of demon. Commented May 25, 2018 at 15:13

2 Answers 2

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It's more or less the premise of the movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993).

A new masked vigilante is taking out the mob boss one by one and only the victim saw it wasn't Batman. As a consequence, those who are still alive are scared, because they believe Batman finally went nuts and started killing instead of arresting people.

There's a scene where one of them is asking for help because he's too old to fight against a Batman on rampage. Later on, when he speaks with the Joker, and the following conversation happens:

Salvatore: It's Batman. He's gone nuts! First, he whacks Chuckie Sol, then Buzz, and now he's after me!
Joker: You know, I've been reading lately how old guano man is wound tight enough to snap. Wouldn't it be great if I'd finally driven him off the deep end?!

It's highly implied during the movie that people thought Batman became crazy enough to start killing, which means they know he doesn't kill.

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I doubt that normal folks in Gotham are aware of his rule as he never made a public announcement. Even if they heard of it from someone, there are so many incidents where Batman killed someone accidentally that they will always be in doubt.

While Batman stopped killing ever since the 1943 due to becoming a kid friendly character, despite the fact that he got his moral code he resumed occasional killing starting with the late 1960's in Brave and The Bold # 83 in which he destroys a German plane using a hand grenade and uses dynamite to blow up a convoy of German soldiers as they are crossing a bridge. As Batman said while breaking his rule in Batman #420 (1988): Sometimes you have to ignore the rules. I'm not in this business to protect the rules, I serve justice. Since there's also too many instances showing Batman occasionally killing since the late 60's, here are just a few more examples:

Detective Comics #29 enter image description here

Detective Comics #33. He throws a vial of sleeping gas at the pilot who crashes into a river

enter image description here

There are a lot more examples like that in comics.

In Nolan's trilogy itself total deaths caused by Batman is approximately 10:

In Batman Begins, the explosive chain reaction that Bruce started caused many deaths (8 onscreen) but they most likely weren't intended. Bruce wanted to have a distraction to escape and weaken the League of Shadow ninjas, but the fire caused more than he counted on.

enter image description here

By the end of the movie Batman lets Ra's Al Ghul die by leaving him in a racing train whose controls has been disabled

In The Dark Knight Batman saves Joker from certain death but soon after kills Two-Face by throwing him and himself off the edge.

enter image description here

This is apparently an unplanned kill as well. Two-Face was standing close to the edge and Batman jumped at him trying to stop him from killing Gordon's son. He only had one hand to hold on and one to grab the boy.

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  • He's not called the Dark Knight for nothing! Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 12:01
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    I like the Detective Comics #33 one. The guy’s dead and Bruce Wayne is just puffing away on his pipe. Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 12:17
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    Yeah that one is interesting, like a cold blooded killer of Burton's Movies.
    – HBhatia
    Commented Dec 8, 2015 at 17:23
  • "In Batman Begins, the explosive chain reaction that Bruce started caused many deaths" One could argue that he wasn't Batman at that point. Commented Apr 27 at 4:30

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