Gotham was a very interesting show when it originally aired. First seeming like a bland Batman prequel that focused on Commissioner Gordon, the show came into its own with its chaotic action, bizarre storytelling and outstanding character development. With it being over a year since Gotham ended its fifth season, it felt appropriate to rank the show’s five seasons following its cancellation and ending.
5. Season 1 (2014-2015): It is unfortunate that Gotham stumbled right out of the gate, but it is not hard to see why the first season of the show didn’t work. The first season of Gotham suffers from two major problems that drag the season down as a result. The first main problem is that the show is unbelievably boring during its first season. We follow a young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) as he is introduced to the corrupt nature of the Gotham City Police Department and meets his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). While the two actors have remarkable chemistry, they struggle to make the ongoing storyline of them trying to take down the crime boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) interesting. The other major problem that surrounds the first season of Gotham is that the show didn’t know what it wanted to be. The first season is basically Law & Order with DC characters, and while Law & Order is a great show, it really doesn’t mix with the Batman mythos. The main highlight of this season is Robin Lord Taylor as a young Oswald Cobblepot, whose journey into the iconic super villain Penguin is a joy to watch and elevates this otherwise underwhelming first season. Rating: 5/10
4. Season 3 (2016-2017): After the second season, Gotham was able to continue making the quality of the show good by introducing more comic book elements to the show like the Mad Hatter (Benedict Samuel) and the Court of Owls. We follow teenaged Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) as he and his loyal butler Alfred (Sean Pertwee) investigate the Court of Owls and try to take them down. Unbeknownst to Bruce, he is being manipulated for a greater purpose by Ra’s al Ghul (Alexander Siddig), the true main villain of the show and Batman’s second greatest enemy after The Joker. Meanwhile, Gordon contends with the Mad Hatter, who weaponizes a dangerous blood called “The Tetch Virus” that can bring the city into shambles. On top of that, Gordon must deal with his internal feelings as he is now at odds with the love of his life Lee Thompkins (Morena Baccarin). The season has a great anarchic tone that never bores the audience, and spices things up by bringing in the Mad Hatter and Ra’s al Ghul. In addition to that, Alexander Siddig as Ra’s al Ghul is quite possibly one of the most accurate casting choices ever made in a comic book show. However, the season still suffers from a number of problems, particularly when it comes to introducing new plot points then never resolving them like the introduction of Bruce Wayne’s clone and Gordon’s superior Captain Barnes (Michael Chiklis) becoming a murderous supervillain called The Executioner. The season is good, but also a mess. The plot line with Penguin running for mayor in order to “Make Gotham Safe Again” is also one of the most on the nose things ever put in a comic book show. Rating: 7/10
3. Season 2 (2015-2016): A big improvement over the season that came before it, Gotham’s second season steps things up by throwing the grounded nature of the show out the window and playing into its strengths by focusing on the villains just as much as the heroes. In the first half, we once again follow Jim Gordon as he goes up against a ruthless socialite named Theo Galavan (James Frain), who manipulates the entire city to his benefit and tries to murder Bruce Wayne to get revenge on his family for a series of events that happened many years ago. Meanwhile, we see other villains come into the forefront, particularly Jim’s unstable ex-fiancé Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), a prototype version of The Joker named Jerome Valeska (Cameron Monaghan) and the highly intelligent forensics scientist Ed Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) who makes his transformation into the Riddler during this season as well as future installments. The second half of the season focuses on Bruce trying to find the true killer of his parents while Gordon tries to take down the corrupt head of Arkham Asylum Hugo Strange (BD Wong) from reviving the dead and creating monsters. The main problem with this season is that it feels like two completely different stories. The first half and second half do not relate to each other that much. You could make the second half of season 2 the third season and it would make no difference to the season’s story. Despite that, Gotham really managed to make a stand with this second season. Rating: 7.5/10.
2. Season 4 (2017-2018): This is where Gotham didn’t just manage to become a good comic book show, but a great one. We follow Gordon and Bruce as they try to once again save Gotham from the criminals that try to take it over. However, both Jim and Bruce go down dark paths during the season. Jim is angered that Penguin has nearly taken control of the entire city and now has the GCPD under his thumb. Believing that he can stop Penguin by bringing in bigger rival, Jim meets Sofia Falcone (Crystal Reed), who seemingly agrees to his request of taking down Penguin’s empire. However, Jim soon finds that Sofia is even worse and has his friendship with Bullock ruined through his poorly thought out plan. On the other side of the story, Bruce goes up against Ra’s al Ghul, and just when it seems that he finally achieves vengeance for his parents, he becomes an angry and stubborn teenager who lashes out at Alfred and copes by partying and getting drunk. The season is a good character study for Bruce and Gordon, who both grow from this experience. Several highlights of this season include the introduction of the bigger action scenes, the return of fan favorite villain Jerome Valeska, the character development of Bruce and Jim and the introduction of iconic villains like Poison Ivy (Peyton List), Professor Pyg (Michael Cerveris), and the Scarecrow (David W. Thompson). However there are questionable moments, particularly the use of Jerome Valeska, who is revealed to be a red herring for the future Joker, with it instead being his identical twin brother Jeremiah Valeska. Even though it is a way for the writers to work around their dilemma of not being able to actually use The Joker, it is still a head scratching moment. Rating: 8/10.
1. Season 5 (2019): Gotham’s final season is truly its best one. The series shortened its episode length from twenty-two to twelve and it works out rather well. In this final season, Gotham follows the iconic comic book storyline No Man’s Land by having the city cut off from the rest of the world thanks to the manipulation of Ra’s al Ghul and Jeremiah Valeska during last season’s finale. Gordon is struggling to protect the citizens that were left behind during the evacuation and must now fend off against a rogue faction of the military intent on destroying the city, led by Ra’s al Ghul’s daughter Nyssa (Jaime Murray) and Gordon’s former army buddy Eduardo Dorrance (Shane West) who later becomes the iconic villain Bane. Meanwhile, Bruce tries to track down and arrest Jeremiah Valeska, who escaped when the city fell last season and has sinister plans for Bruce, whom he has developed an obsession with. The series ends with a phenomenal epilogue that jumps ten years ahead and brings all the characters where they should be, especially Bruce who becomes the iconic superhero Batman and makes his presence known to Gordon by defeating Jeremiah Valeska (who is clearly The Joker at this point even though it is not mentioned) during his latest scheme. Gotham’s final season is an epic and satisfying conclusion to the show and very much ended things on a high note. However, if the season did have one problem, it would be that the eighth and ninth episodes are clearly filler and do not really move the story forward, which is especially obvious since they were added after the crew found out that they would be getting twelve episodes instead of ten. Rating: 9.5/10