Harvey Dent Two-Face in Gotham Knights

Why The Gotham Knights Show Failed

Cancelled after one season and 13 episodes, Gotham Knights had almost no chance of being a successful show, despite everything the Batman adaptation did right.

Gotham Knights Lacked Studio Support

Gotham Knights faced changes in management after it started production. The series focused on a group of teenagers framed for the murder of Bruce Wayne. They grew into the heroes Gotham City needed, as they tried to clear their names and thwart the machinations of the Court of Owls.

Unfortunately, this concept conflicted with the new direction of The CW, after the network was purchased by Nexstar Media Group in late 2022. The new management drastically reduced the number of scripted dramas and shows based on licensed properties. Instead, the channel will pivot focus to more unscripted content aimed at older audiences. The youth-focused Gotham Knights had no place in this new line-up.

Despite this, Gotham Knights could have found a new home on Max. Unfortunately, new management at DC Studios are trying to unite the studios’ television, film and animation productions into a single shared DCU setting. Simply put? There was no place in their plan for a show where Batman was dead.

Gotham Knights Had No Clear Audience

Another problem Gotham Knights faced was that it was unclear who the show was for, apart from fans of edgy teen dramas like Riverdale. Batman fans had little reason to give the show a chance, especially those eager to see the Dark Knight. Other shows, such as Gotham, Pennyworth and Batwoman, attempted the same thing with mixed results.

Fans of the Arrowverse setting might have given the show a chance if it were connected to shows like The Flash or Stargirl. Unfortunately, it was established early on that the show was not set in the Earth-Prime setting or one of the connected alternate Earths. This left those fans — already disillusioned with The CW — little reason to watch.

Gotham Knights Suffered From Brand Confusion

Another problem was that the show shares its name with a 2022 video game, also set in an alternate Gotham City following the death of Batman. The stories of the game and the show were remarkably similar, with the Court of Owls serving as the chief antagonist of both. This led many to believe the game and the show were directly connected, rather than being independent of the Batman mythology.

Unfortunately, Gotham Knights was pelted with mediocre reviews. The game earned a 67 score on Metacritic, with many critics and players comparing the game unfavorably to the Arkham Trilogy. Chief complaints revolved around repetitious gameplay, subpar graphics, and a nonsensical crafting component. This only poisoned the show’s reputation further.

The idea of young heroes rising up to protect Gotham City in Batman’s absence is not without merit. In fact, it’s played out in multiple comic book storylines. Unfortunately, those readers who tuned into Gotham Knights hoping to see Nightwing or Batgirl were doomed to disappointment. While Gotham Knights did draw upon the comics in establishing its team, it chose some of the more obscure young heroes from the Modern Age, such as Harper Row, her brother Cullen Row, and The Spoiler, Stephanie Brown.

Rather than bring in Dick Grayson or Tim Drake, the Robin of Gotham Knights was a girl named Carrie Kelley. Modeled after the Robin of the classic Frank Miller graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns, the inclusion of Carrie did little to mollify those fans wanting to see Jason Todd or Damian Wayne. In this reality, Bruce Wayne only adopted one son, an original character named Turner Hayes. This only served to drive away those comic fans hoping to see their favorite characters in live action.

Gotham Knights Didn’t Look Like A Superhero Show

Perhaps the biggest problem Gotham Knights faced was that it didn’t look like a superhero show, despite being tightly tied to the mythology of Batman. While centered around a team of teenage vigilantes, none of the young heroes wore a costume or a mask while going out into the field.

According to sources cited by Hollywood Reporter, Gotham Knights was the “least expensive DC series The CW has ever aired.” It certainly looked like it, with most of the teen heroes hiding their identities by donning hoodies.

Why Gotham Knights Deserved Better

The sad irony is that Gotham Knights was better than its low budget and concept suggested. The ensemble played off one another fantastically and brought their characters to perfect life.

It also boasted some sharp writing, which drew off the writing of Scott Snyder and reconciled many conflicting versions of Harvey Dent from the comics. It also presented what is easily the most realistic take on Two-Face ever, with Misha Collins giving a masterful performance as a man battling dissociative identity disorder and losing. Unfortunately, none of this was enough to save Gotham Knights, leaving it to be a one-season wonder — comparable to Constantine and the Birds of Prey show.