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In The Dark Knight (2008), there's a scene where the Joker confronts a gangster named Gambol. It looks like he's just going to slice Gambol's cheek, but then Gambol ends up dead.

What actually happened?


Gambol had put a bounty on the Joker: $500k dead or $1 million alive ("so he can teach him some manners first").

The Joker starts as usual, by telling "the story" of his scars. During the story, the Joker's sticks his knife inside Gambol's mouth, obviously preparing to give him a similar scar.

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Right before the story finishes, the camera angle changes. While looking directly at one of Gambol's henchmen, The Joker delivers his famous line ("Why so serious?") and there's a dramatic sound. It seems to indicate that the Joker followed through with his threat and sliced Gambol's face.

Afterwards, Gambol falls down and seems to be dead. He's not screaming or writhing in pain (like you'd expect from someone with their cheek cut open), but simply crumples to the floor.

What did the Joker do?

Did Gambol pass out from the pain of getting his cheek sliced?

Did the Joker decide to slice his throat instead of his cheek?

Did the Joker slice his cheek so violently that it went into his neck and killed Gambol?

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Gambol was supposed to be used later on, but the plan was changed at a later point. This is supposedly due to an unfortunate tragedy. Michael Jai White, the actor who played Gambol, gives us his own words about the matter (source from The Hollywood Reporter):

Nolan offered White the role of Gambol — the no-nonsense gangster who signed his own death warrant when he tried to tangle with The Joker, brought to life by Ledger in an Oscar-winning performance.

While never a principal role, Gambol was bigger in the script and during production, White says.

"It was the kind of thing where they had deeper intentions for Gambol; it was a character who was written for future use, I think," he says. "There were other plans to do stuff with that character and some things that were cut out. I think it's because of unfortunately losing Heath Ledger."

Calling it a matter of "tying up loose ends," White says he got why Nolan made the choice in postproduction.

"I think that people can tell by the strange cut that I never shot a death scene," White says. "The character wasn't supposed to be gone. That is something that happened in editing later."

He continues, "You don't see mistakes in a movie of that magnitude. When you see something that is somewhat a mistake or is not clarified, there is something behind that."

Fans may have gone back and forth over how Gambol died, but White says he never gave it a second thought. Once the shock of the moment wore off at the premiere, he was over it, the actor tells THR.

"Being that I have been on both sides of the camera, I understood," White says. "I was as surprised as anybody. The next few moments after Gambol hit the ground, I was in a state of confusion, like 'What the hell happened? I guess I am not coming back.' But, I have a producer's and director's mind-set, so I was able to look at it and think, 'I guess they must have wanted to go this way.'"

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