One of the most enduring qualities about Batman is his inability to kill his enemies. Never once did Batman kill in the Christopher Nolan films and very rarely has it occurred within comic book cannon for Batman in the almost 100 year history of the character. But according to iconic comic book writer Grant Morrison, who penned the classic graphic novel The Killing Joke along side legend Alan Moore, Batman broke his rule to take care of his greatest foe — The Joker.
Appearing on director Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast, Morrison explains that writer Alan Moore secretly killed The Joker back in 1988. Morrison expressed surprise over the fact that in the 30 years since it was first published, no one caught on to plot twist as it’s in the very title of the graphic novel.
“That’s what I love about [the book],” Morrison told Smith on his podcast “No one’s noticed — however much, 30 years on, almost — Batman kills the Joker. That’s why it’s called The Killing Joke. The Joker tells the ‘Killing Joke’ at the end, Batman reaches out and breaks his neck, and that’s why the laughter stops and the light goes out, ’cause that was the last chance at crossing that bridge. And Alan Moore wrote the ultimate Batman/Joker story. He finished it … but he did it in such a way that it’s ambiguous, so people will never have to be sure, which means it doesn’t have to be the last Batman/Joker story. It’s brilliant!”
Of course, comic book characters have been killed off in the past and Moore’s The Killing Joke falls into the category of a one-shot graphic novel. But The Killing Joke is one of the most popular origin stories out there as it treads water no one but Moore has tread — the backstory of how The Joker became The Joker. Tim Burton showed the creation of The Joke in his 1989 film Batman but Burton admits that it was largely lifted from The Killing Joke.
The ending to The Killing Joke has been analyzed and broken down for years but Morrison’s insight could help end some arguments. But Morrison’s admission that Batman killed the Joker is still being rejected by some fans and proof that the debate isn’t going anywhere can be seen in a post done at ComicBook.com in which the “official” manuscript to the graphic novel is revealed, suggesting that Batman didn’t kill The Joker.