After Harvey Dent's face got burned and his fiancée was killed in The Dark Knight, the Joker goes to the hospital and gives Harvey Dent a gun to give Dent an opportunity to kill the Joker. Why was The Joker so sure that Harvey would not pull the trigger? Is there a chance that gun was indeed empty?

The Joker seems to be a lunatic; however, as far as the plan goes, he seems to be one step ahead of others (irrespective of saying that he is not a man having a plan). In the above scenario, if Harvey pulls the trigger, not only does the Joker die, all his other plans would have failed.

7 Answers 7


The Joker really didn't care about death at any point even if Harvey pulled that trigger then. The biggest example for that is during the scene when he falls of the building during the fight with Batman even when he is falling, he laughs hysterically before Batman catches him with grapple gun.

Harvey Dent was Joker's biggest ace. When he gave him the gun he took the gamble, had Harvey blown Joker's brain then the Joker wouldn't have cared about his death but he surely would've had the last laugh because he took the symbol (white knight) of the city and drove him to insanity and made him a killer. The Joker's primary ambition was to make Batman do that but Batman was completely incorruptible so he resorted to the next best person in Gotham city which happened to be Harvey Dent.

Even Joker openly admits that in the above mentioned scene to batman.

Batman: This city just showed you that it's full of people ready to believe in good.

Joker: Until their spirit breaks completely. Until they get a good look at the real Harvey Dent, huh? And all the heroic things he's done. You didn't think I'd risk losing the battle for Gotham's soul in a fist-fight with you? No, you need an ace in the hole; mine's Harvey.

Batman: What did you do?

Joker: I took Gotham's White Knight and brought him down to our level. It wasn't hard. See, madness, as you know, is like gravity: all it takes is a little push. (Laughter)


I have been thinking about this question furthermore. I believe the only reason Joker walked out of the room alive in the hospital scene with Harvey Dent was because the coin toss favored him. As we learn later in further scenes Harvey only shot the people whom the coin toss didn't favor which included Batman as well.

  • he "laughs hysterically" because he thought he won. if batman kills the joker, the joker wins (making batman break his "one rule"). (also why he's annoyed when batman saves him.) but there is no victory if Harvey kills him, though you could say that in the same way that the Joker has his messed up life and death "game" of making batman break his rule, maybe he equally appreciates Two-Face's "game" of leaving life or death up to a coin flip. Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 3:48

Little known piece of trivia:

When Harvey holds the Joker at gunpoint in the hospital scene, you can see that the Joker is actually holding the revolver’s hammer with his finger, thus preventing the shot in case Harvey's coin lands on “bad” side.

The Joker was never in any danger at all. Here’s a picture from the scene:

Joker keeping the gun's hammer down and holding Harvey's thumb

  • 30
    Hot damn I never noticed that.
    – MattD
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 16:50
  • 13
    IMDB currently cites the placement of the hand on the hammer as a continuity goof: it's on the hammer in some shots and not in others. I wonder if both camera angles were shot both ways with the intention of seeing how the scene "worked" each way, but the editor either failed to recognize that intention or decided deliberately to make things ambiguous?
    – supercat
    Commented Apr 22, 2015 at 15:32
  • 12
    @pt18cher Wrong - for most of the scene, he is NOT holding the hammer. And when the Joker leaves the room, Harvey still has the gun, so he could have killed him at any time. flic.kr/p/rYR1fL
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 1:26
  • 10
    @pt18cher - What you see as holding the hammer back, I see as cocking the gun.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Apr 23, 2015 at 1:27
  • 10
    @WadCheber Oh, you're not alone anyway. That's really the single most overrated answer here ever, I guess, especially compared to the other answers that actually get to the core of the question. I'm not sure putting the finger there at the hammer would even stop the gun from firing at all. But well, "Hot Network Question", alas.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Apr 25, 2015 at 12:44

The Joker is insane - that is his defining characteristic. Remember when Batman knocked him off the building? As he plummeted to his presumable death, he was laughing hysterically. He was genuinely bummed out when Batman caught him with his grappling gun and saved him. He was also clearly enjoying the beating Batman gave him in the interrogation room.

The thing that made Ledger's performance so great was that he perfectly captured the depths of the Joker's insanity, better than anyone before him ever had. The Joker just wants to create havoc and carnage, and whether the carnage involves his own death is irrelevant to him.

"Some men just want to watch the world burn".

He may have been relatively confident that Harvey wouldn't shoot him, but we have no way of knowing for sure. Personally, having grown up reading Batman comics and knowing the Joker pretty well, I believe he just didn't care whether Harvey shot him.

Watch the video - when the Joker thinks he is about to die, he thinks it is hilarious; when he realizes he isn't going to die, he is annoyed to say the least.

  • I don't think this particular Joker (TDK) is insane, he's just a 100% pure anarchist. He really doesn't care about the things most of us do that give us our sense of security.
    – user27684
    Commented Nov 24, 2015 at 8:18
  • 6
    @user27684 You've just described an insane person.
    – DCShannon
    Commented Feb 4, 2016 at 22:30

I'll take it a step further. I think on some level he had a death wish. Or at least was willing to die to corrupt others. How else would you explain this? From the Screenplay:

The Joker walks towards the Bat-pod, which SPEEDS towards him. He is FIRING his gun RANDOMLY at the oncoming traffic.

THE JOKER: "Hit me. Come on. Hit me."

Batman watches as the Joker holds out his arms. Waiting for impact. There is no room to go around him.


The Joker watches as Batman DUMPS the bike, rather than Smashing into him. Batman SLAMS into the wall.


Because he's the Joker and he's a bit of a whackjob?

Seriously though - he was giving Harvey the opportunity to kill him while simultaneously manipulating him and twisting his anger to turn it onto Batman and Gotham city. By giving him the gun, he was giving Harvey the power to kill him as it was then his choice not to pull the trigger.


Well, the way I see it is that the Joker twisted with Harvey's mind and corrupted him. I believe he didn't necessarily have a death wish, but he wanted to show to the people of Gotham that there are no good guys by any means necessary. He turned Harvey into, more or less, a monster with some mind tricks and putting the blame of Rachel's death on Batman and Gotham, which made Harvey hate them. The Joker also knew the only way to knock the image of Batman off the pedestal of good was to make him break his one rule of not killing, which in the end of The Dark Knight finally happened when he killed Harvey.


All this goes much farther. Joker never ever have any regard for his own life, and that is what makes him the Joker.

His plan will be complete when he becomes able to corrupt the Batman making him kill him, because then, he would be just like him. Its the eternal Batman X Joker relationship.

Joker's only goal is to prove that what differentiates him from everyone else is a single bad day, which he says that it is what made Bruce Wayne into Batman. He does not care if he lives or he dies, because in his vision, if he gets a symbol of Gotham (Harvey Dent or Batman) to kill him, he wins.

enter image description here

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .