At the end of Dark Knight Rises, we see the twist of Bruce/Batman taking the bomb himself across the sea, presumably, to sacrifice himself to keep Gotham safe.

We know this isn't the case for Bruce Wayne is very much alive. Only Batman, is known as dead to the general public. We see at Bruce's supposed funeral, only Gordon, Blake, Fox and Alfred are present.

However, what is the reason the public knows Bruce to be dead, without revealing his identity to those who already know?

It is said on wiki that he is presumed dead by the riots, but that is never stated anywhere implicitly whether in papers of the movie, or by any character, nor is this referenced anywhere.

Is there anything official stating why Gotham thinks Bruce Wayne is dead, without assuming he is Batman?

  • I haven't found anything concrete regarding this, but it is worth noting that Nolan heavily filtered that final shot of Bruce and Selina sitting at the table, as if it could be written off as a 'daydream' on Alfred's part.
    – Nobby
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 18:07
  • Glad I'm not the only one that noticed it.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 18:13
  • 7
    If making the ultimate sacrifice means getting to drink coffee with Anne Hathaway in Italy for the rest of my life, then point me in the direction of the next disaster.
    – Nobby
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 18:17
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    I just meant the choice of lens and post-production color timing et al to make the shot seem more 'dreamy'. 'Heavily filtered' was probably a poor choice of phrase.
    – Nobby
    Commented Nov 24, 2012 at 14:37
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    "If making the ultimate sacrifice means getting to drink coffee with Anne Hathaway in Italy for the rest of my life, then point me in the direction of the next disaster." - It was Batman that made the ultimate sacrifice and not Bruce. By rediscovering his will to live, he realized that the former doesn't need to imply the latter and finally seperated the "symbol" from the "person" again. So the argument that the end is too good for Bruce to be real doesn't really hold for me, given the overall motive and story development of the movie. And it's not Batmanception, anyway.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Commented Jun 18, 2013 at 9:05

3 Answers 3


The answer to why the city thinks Bruce is dead is - the city assumes Bruce Wayne is dead because of the riots. There is no body but one can assume the city thinks it's because of all the chaos. Also Gordon, Alfred, Blake and Fox probably helped in covering his trail by telling everyone they saw Bruce die, maybe even a nice quiet funeral.

Logically, the reasons why Bruce/Batman more or less faked his own death are:

  • Batman took some serious physical damage in his torture by Bane, Batman could be permanently injured that may hurt his ability to deal with criminals in combat and/or transverse the city. Also this presents a weakness for others to exploit.

  • Batman has stated that he is a symbol, not a man. Therefore no matter who wears the mask the symbol is strong as ever.

  • Bruce Wayne, in the Dark Knight, had been talking about the toil on his life that crime fighting was taking. Also it's hard to fight crime and run a multi-million dollar company. He may have wanted to retire but didn't know how or he was waiting for someone worthy of the keys to the Batcave.


The end is not a dream because alfred has no knowledge of Bruce's relationship with Selina Kyle. He saw her once when he asked her to take the food to Bruces' wing of wayne manor. and a second time when Bruce was running her prints there is no reason for alfred to think the two would be together.

  • It is assumed that Bruce is Dead due to the riots. Also remeber most of Gothams Rich had to face Dr. Crane and were forced to walk out on the ice those bodies would never have been found.. THey all faced exile or DEATH "by Exile"
    – Tony F.
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 20:54
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    You might want to simply edit this into your post rather than posting it as a separate answer.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Dec 6, 2012 at 20:57

This is what happened. At the end, Alfred is in Italy right? In the movie, there's a program called the "Clean Slate". This program has the ability to give you a new life, and a new start. Batman (Bruce) used this program. And where does he end up? Italy. Alfred is not dreaming. Batman will no longer be a hero. But, Robin will. Robin will take Batman's spot. They were in contact, clearly. This though, is my theory.

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