I am not asking "why doesn't Batman kill?", he has his own moral code that he abides by to avoid becoming a villain himself. However, Gotham City should have no such qualms. It would most likely be extremely popular with the general public, and America still practices execution.

Are you telling me that after however many trials, arrests, and breakouts, they still put Joker in the asylum? Obviously, out of universe, Batman's "rogues gallery" is important to the story; but what about in-universe explanations?

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    Related: scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/37084/… Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 18:07
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    According to Wikipedia, there have been no executions in New Jersey since 1963, so I guess that could provide an explanation for a fairly large proportion of Batman stories? Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 18:10
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    I'd rather know why Gotham's villains don't execute Batman immediately, rather than working though some convoluted scheme from which you know Batman will escape in the end.
    – Peter M
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:41
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    @PeterM because villains and mad scientists are notoriously bad managers.
    – brichins
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 21:45
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    The title of the question is flawed. Gotham can't execute criminals because Gotham is a city in the USA. The federal and the state governments have the authority to decree the death penalty for crimes, but counties and municipalities don't. The 14th amendment to the US constitution forbids states from taking life, liberty or property without due process - if counties or cities could execute people for local crimes the 14th amendment would have mentioned them. Gotham city may be in New York or New Jersey which abolished the death penalty in 2004 and 2007 - last execution in 1963 in both. Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 22:44

3 Answers 3


It is quite probable that Gotham is located in a state that doesn't have the death penalty.

Then there is the small matter that most states that do have such a penalty are loathe to execute the mentally ill, which covers a large chunk of Batman's rogues gallery. Some wouldn't be candidates due to the nature of their crimes, others could very successfully use a defense of mental defect.

In at least one story, The Joker: Devil's Advocate, the Joker is sentenced to death, so it partly depends on the story and the writer.

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    Just to note it, I think that the insanity defense typically isn't so broad as "insane people can get away with anything"; I doubt that many of Batman's foes would be able to make a qualifying defense.
    – Nat
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 1:47
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    Makes no sense. Joker's crimes could probably be elevated to a federal level. His crimes are so egregious that some mayors and legislators would probably run on executing him somehow, even if it involved reintroducing the death penalty to the city. This speculation is nowhere near solid enough to hold up to scrutiny.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 3:29
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    @jpmc26 In any real-life scenario, a villain like the Joker would be hunted down by a combined military/intelligence-service effort and then killed at the first opportunity without any pretense of trial, likely backed by an executive order from the President and the general public's overwhelming approval (much like the terrorists after 9/11). I suspect that this question is unanswerable without significant suspension of disbelief, so I guess that leaves responders to come up with the response that requires the least suspension of disbelief? SE.SciFi questions can lead to some weird dilemmas.
    – Nat
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 5:05
  • @Nat If the logic is not straightforward or compelling, then it's best left to official explanation. The canon explanation might be unsatisfying, but it at least has the virtue of being explicitly intended.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 5:11
  • So no rogue villians that kills other villians or no rouge vigilantes whi has no problem in killing resides gotham at all?
    – Vishwa
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 13:22

Many of the villains in Adam West Batman are simply crooks who have some sort of theme.

If the Joker's actions consist mostly of things like smuggling a metal coil into prison to "spring" himself from prison, stealing from a museum, and impersonating the lead actor in an opera, does he really deserve to die?

The Penguin is basically a small time mob boss. The same is true of the Riddler. I wouldn't expect either to be up for the death penalty.

Mr. Freeze is one of the more violent villains. His use of an incredibly dangerous weapon (his freeze ray) to shatter someone as part of a robbery would probably count as second (and maybe even first) degree murder and his indiscriminate use of it would probably add some counts of attempted murder. Even that's not really capital punishment level, though it comes close in some jurisdictions.

However, I am not a lawyer so I could be mistaken.

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    Just FYI (since I had to serve on a real jury once) if someone dies in the commission of another crime it's often called felony murder. Not the same thing as capitol murder (where you willfully caused said death), but still a pretty serious crime.
    – Machavity
    Commented Jan 25, 2018 at 20:46
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    Originally the Joker was a serial-killer/terrorist; has that changed?
    – Nat
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 1:34
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    @Nat, looks to me like Forrest Venable is only familiar with the later, heavily sanitized version of the Joker.
    – Wildcard
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 1:41
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    The problem is that in most continuities, the Joker is a serial killer who has filled graveyards.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 3:39
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    That he acts differently in other continuities does not change his behavior in the continuity I was referring to. Commented Jan 26, 2018 at 7:04

I believe it has to do with the laws that are on the books over there in Gotham. See here: https://watercoolersports.com/2018/01/26/junior-helps-the-internet-gotham-death-penalty/


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