Why was it important to hide the sins of Harvey Dent in the movie, The Dark Knight? I mean what could have possibly happened if they hadn't?

  • It is all about the assumption that if a person has done one bad thing, then that person has done many bad things. So any good a person did in the past is invalidated because of one bad thing a person did that was publicly known. This trope is used frequently in crime and punishment shows.
    – Zoredache
    Nov 22, 2013 at 20:09
  • I might have seen this question here or on scifi but can't find it now.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Nov 26, 2013 at 10:56

1 Answer 1


The people of Gotham City faced a very hard time. The mob was still on its height and was only slowly taken its powers (to a large part by Harvey Dent), there was corruption all over the governmental institutions. While the Batman did his best to fight crime, it was still a very dark situation when a masked vigilante has to do what the police and the government are unable to do. And in contrast to this, Harvey Dent as district attorney was a man who fought this corruption and organized crime from within the system, an unmasked and official crime-fighter. He was the white and shiny knight contrasting the Batman and was a spark of hope at the horizon of Gotham city:

Bruce Wayne: You know that day that you once told me about, when Gotham would no longer need Batman? It's coming.

Rachel Dawes: Bruce. You can't ask me to wait for that.

Bruce Wayne: It's happening now. Harvey is that hero. He locked up half of the city's criminals, and he did it without wearing a mask. Gotham needs a hero with a face.

Now the Joker wanted to show, that not just each and every citizen of Gotham was able to be dragged onto his level and into the chaos, but especially one of the best and shiniest of them all, and with this he succeeded.

Batman: Because you were the best of us. He wanted to prove that even someone as good as you could fall.

Two-Face: And he was right.

Nobody cares if a masked vigilante goes postal and kills people he thinks to be evil, but after this hard time the people of Gotham had to endure, if they would have known that their white knight Harvey Dent was as evil and crazy as everybody else, they would have completely lost their hope in this city and a future where masked individuals are not needed to keep the city from falling apart. Harvey may not have been the hero Gotham deserves, but the one it needs right now.

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    +1 for the answer. Still, I don't understand the hype about all Harvey's persecutions being undone if his crimes are unveiled. It makes no sense to me, since the crimes were done after he got convictions for those criminals and after a great personal tragedy. Is this just a lame technical movie excuse (along with the moral one that you describe) for Batman's sacrifice, or is there something more to it? Nov 23, 2013 at 3:44
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    @VedranŠego No, it is not a technical excuse along with a moral one, but a moral one only. His persecutions would certainly not be undone. It is not so much about the criminals getting free again, that would not happen. It is about the people of Gotham losing their hope in this city. That would be far worse for the soul of Gotham, even if there wouldn't be any "hard" consequences from publishing Harvey's crimes. That's what the whole answer is about in the end.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 23, 2013 at 11:01
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    Yes, I understand your answer. My question is about Jim Gordon's sentence "Harvey's prosecution, everything he fought for... undone". Is this "prosecution [...] undone" not literal (as in "criminals walk free")? Nov 23, 2013 at 11:52
  • @VedranŠego Hmm, don't remember that. Did he say that during the ending dialogue in The Dark Knight? But then again, you never know how stupid bureaucracy is. I could really imagine his persecutions getting doubted once it was revealed how crazy he'd become (now just convince the court in all those revision trials that he wasn't crazy before his accident). But maybe Gordon meant something different. I'd still not dismiss it as a lame technical excuse, given how stupid bureaucracy can be. But I don't know.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Nov 23, 2013 at 12:05
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    Yes, it was during that final dialogue. The same reason was mentioned before, when Harvey was threatening Thomas Schiff (paranoid schizophrenic from Arkham, played by David Dastmalchian), but it made sense then, because Harvey still didn't go through the personal tragedy that drove him mad. Nov 23, 2013 at 12:12

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