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Why Fish Mooney Was The Show’s Best Character

For everything you could say about FOX Gotham, If there’s one thing that definitely stands out about the series, it’s its propensity to double-cross the madman. The series grew from a poorly conceptualized procedural set in pre-Batman Gotham to a bold Elseworlds take on the Batman mythos. An addition that not only captured everything the series had to offer, but stands as a resolute reminder of what made Gotham the job was Jada Pinkett Smithis Fish Mooney.

It’s no secret that Gotham struggled to find himself earlier in his race. Confused about the tone as well as the influence he should follow (the darkness of Tim Burtonof the series or the realism of The black Knight saga), the freshman race felt muddled, with the approach to Case of the Week bringing the overall story of the season to a close. It didn’t help that so many of the characters who would become showpieces were just beginning their five-season journeys. In the meantime, there was a serious void of an enigmatic screen presence. Enter Fish Mooney.

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Picture via FOX

Created by the series developer Bruno HellerFish Mooney is an original character from the series and is an underling of crime boss Carmine Falcone (John Doman). Pinkett Smith said she was inspired by the real drug lord Griselda Blancoas well as Gloria Swansonit is sunset boulevard character Norma Desmond, and it certainly shows. Fish Mooney is one of the most exciting characters on the show, his business acumen pairs well with his relentless thirst to be the most powerful person in the room. She is something of a dichotomy, being one of the few power players in Gotham at this time while remaining very feminine and even motherly to many of her henchmen, including Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). She also exudes a very calm aura, which makes her sudden strikes all the more deadly.


While Gotham There was no shortage of Rogues from The Caped Crusader’s infamous gallery of villains, with everyone from The Madhatter to the Joker taking a long time to fully develop into the evil masterminds we know. Moreover, a large part of the first Gotham was a part crime, part mob procedural drama, with characters like Sal Maroni and Falcone being the city’s top power brokers. Therefore, a character like Fish Mooney found it necessary to disrupt the status quo from within. Mooney started off as a small fish in Gotham’s biggest male-dominated crime empire, but from day one we were made aware of his greatest career aspirations as well as his influence within the GCPD and the city in general.

His relationships with key characters in Gotham have helped many of them reach their potential. Take Cobblepot, whom she hobbles when he reports her to the police, and later learns from her how to be the big crime boss he becomes. His last words, “Make this city yours or burn it down”, become fuel for him as he becomes a great adversary to Batman. She also teaches Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) how to thrive in a male-dominated city, becoming a mentor figure for a while.



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Picture via FOX

The series struggled in its early days to co-opt a direction to take its stable of popular characters, Fish Mooney however, suffered no such qualms. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that she felt more fully realized than any of the other characters we were introduced to, including Jim Gordon himself (Benjamin McKenzie). Fish made every scene so much more fun because there was no indication of whether she would flip the switch or not. Time and time again, the show has proven herself to be a woman of remarkable toughness (who doesn’t have the scene where she gouges out her eye burned into the brain?) and wit, being almost always the smartest or most capable person in the room. She valued and rewarded loyalty, but could also be incredibly violent towards those who wronged her, and her temper and tendency to punish sometimes came at the expense of a smarter plan and caused her own undoing. Her flaws and skills made her a worthy adversary and a fully realized character, standing in the midst of a pantheon of more recognizable villains.


Not every step that the writers laid out for her was a success. His overpowered storyline wasn’t the best direction for the character. While it made sense for the writers to bring her back after killing her off in Season 1 because the show was sorely lacking in energy in Season 2, empowering her never worked for a character who was already adept at manipulation. Thus, her power to compel others to do her bidding made her return seem short-lived from the moment she appeared on screen. It also undermined her own pre-existing abilities and set her on course for her weakest storyline in the series yet.

It’s a shame that Fish’s character never made it to the comics the way characters like Harley Quinn and X-23 did, who started as anime series creations. Smith’s landscape chewing and ability to be campy in a way reminiscent of Burton’s films made her Gothamis the most dynamic character, and there’s no denying that she could be a great addition to the crime-infested hell that is today’s Gotham City of the comics. Her look is also quite striking, with her short stature, spiky hair, and heterochromatic eyes, and could look quite captivating in the hands of the right artist. Additionally, her affiliation with Gotham’s crime bosses and her role in the cartel would make her the only female head of a criminal organization in Gotham.


In all the madness that unfolded in five seasons of GothamFish Mooney stands out as a great reminder of what the show was able to take from the Batman mythology and create characters that would fit right in with what we know of the city.


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