Movies & TV Shows

Everyone Who Has Killed Batman’s Parents (& Why They Did It)

The driving force behind Bruce Wayne’s crusade as Batman was the tragic murder of his parents, Thomas and Martha. Bruce had to watch his parents die in front of him as the shooter ran free, but who exactly was the killer?

While the name Joe Chill is more often than not assigned, there have been different shooters over the years. While some were nameless and had no motivation worth mentioning, others were key players in what Bruce would later become. Whether future foes or guns for hire, the history of the Wayne murders is just as interesting as Batman himself.

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Updated on August 17th, 2022 by Kevin Pantoja: With the recent news of a sequel coming to 2019’s Joker, fans everywhere are watching the Oscar-winning film once more in preparation. That includes being reminded of answers to questions like “who killed Thomas Wayne?” which played a major part in the climax of the story. Even if you don’t know much about the DC Comics character, the story of who killed Batman’s parents is known the world over. So many different characters have done the horrific deed throughout the history of the many movies and TV shows surrounding Batman.

Joe Chill (General Canon)

The most common name attached to the Wayne murders is Joe Chill. Joe Chill is usually depicted as a common criminal down on his luck. He sees the Wayne family leaving a theatre and decides to strike. Sometimes Chill knows exactly who they are, while other times it is nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The random nature of the crime found in the general canon was enough to drive Bruce Wayne to later don the cape and cowl, as that fateful night showed him how ruthless the city is. Joe Chill and his murder of the Waynes is one of the most brutal moments in the Batman comics, and also one of the most iconic.

Joe Chill (Batman: The Telltale Series)

In the video game Batman: The Telltale Series, it is slowly revealed that the Wayne murders weren’t as random as Bruce was led to believe and that Thomas hid a disturbing secret from Gotham and his son. His entire life, Bruce Wayne thought that Joe Chill killed his parents in a random act of violence.

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After investigating his father when he hears rumors of his criminal past, Bruce finds out Joe didn’t act alone. This version of Joe Chill was in fact a hitman, paid to kill the Waynes. Thomas Wayne wasn’t the White Knight Bruce had thought he was, as he discovers he had ties to the mob and was responsible for disturbing experiments in Arkham Asylum.

Dastardly Criminal (Batman ’66)

The 1960s Batman series leaned more into a campier tone. Because of this, the stakes were low and lives were rarely in danger. However Batman can’t exist without his parents dying, and this series is no exception. The Wayne’s aren’t shown in a flashback which is a staple in most other forms of Batman media, and the killer isn’t even properly identified.

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When discussing his past, Bruce simply states that his parents were taken out by a “dastardly criminal” and leaves it at that. While a motive was never given, it can be assumed the Wayne’s were victims of a random mugging. The series had many good episodes and some bad, and this speech in the first episode is one of the few instances of dark subject matter.

Jack Napier (Batman 1989)

Tim Burton’s first Batman film released in 1989 contained the shocking revelation that a young Jack Napier killed the Waynes. Fans of the film know that Jack Napier would later become The Joker, adding a whole new layer to the infamous Batman/Joker rivalry.

Napier was a deadly criminal who would even kill a police officer in front of Commissioner Gordon for wronging him, so the random killing of members of Gotham’s high society was child’s play to him. This version of the killing is also responsible for a hidden detail, which the Burton-Schumacher films are full of. When Batman faces the Joker in the climax of the film, it is a personal battle for the Caped Crusader, adding a rare time when Bruce faces his parents’ killer in live-action.

Robin (Teen Titans Go! To The Movies)

While not the one to pull the trigger, Teen Titans Go! To The Movies shows that the Boy Wonder is directly responsible for the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The plot of the film revolves around the Titans traveling through time to stop the creation of the world’s best superheroes.

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When they realize they have to reverse this decision, they end up on Crime Alley. Robin takes it upon himself to push the Waynes into the alley, where they are instantly killed off-screen while Bruce watches in horror. This is one of the only times the family’s death was played for laughs, yet it is somewhat of a dark scene for a kid’s film.


Matches Malone (Gotham)

When Batman fans hear Matches Malone, they think of a deceased mobster who Bruce Wayne uses as an alias to get information from Gotham’s underworld. In the prequel series Gotham however, he played a much more serious role. As the show progresses, it is revealed that Matches Malone is actually the man who killed Thomas and Martha Wayne. The show treats Matches less as a mobster and more as a gun for hire as it is revealed the Wayne murders were simply a job to him.

Malone was hired by The Lady acting under the instructions of Hugo Strange to do the deed and even pleaded with Bruce to kill him when he faced him. Bruce backs down, showing the seeds of the no-kill rule he would later adopt as Batman. As much of an impact as he had on Bruce, Matches doesn’t compare to the other major villains featured on Gotham

Clown Rioter (Joker)

Burton’s Batman wasn’t the last time filmmakers attempted to tie The Joker with Batman’s dark night. In 2019’s Joker, the titular Clown Prince of Crime kills a respected Gotham citizen on live television, sparking a series of riots across the city. One rioter happens to see the Wayne family sneak down an alley to escape the chaos. Inspired by Arthur Fleck’s act of violence, the man shoots the elder Waynes in front of their young son. He didn’t rob them, or even give any demands. He simply quoted Joker and killed them where they stood.

This is debatably the most tragic version of the killings, as they are shown on screen in full, and they were killed just because the man wanted to make a statement. This was as random of a killing as it gets, and one can be sure this version of Bruce will grow into a brutal Dark Knight because of it.

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