Batman / Batman Joker

Does Batman Kill the Joker in the Dark Knight Returns?

The Dark Knight Returns, written by Frank Miller, is undoubtedly one of the most iconic and controversial Batman comics of all time. This four-issue limited series not only changed the way people viewed Batman but also tackled several important issues such as politics, media, and violence. However, one of the most debated topics among fans is whether Batman kills the Joker in this comic.

The Controversial Ending

The climax of The Dark Knight Returns sees Batman and the Joker locked in a brutal fight to the death. As they battle it out in a tunnel of love, which is ironically decorated with images of happiness and love, Batman finally gains the upper hand. The Joker then tries to provoke him further by telling him that they are both alike and that he needs him to justify his existence.

However, Batman responds by telling him that he’s wrong and breaks his neck with a decisive snap. In this moment, it seems apparent that Batman has finally crossed his own moral code and killed his arch-nemesis.


This ending has been subject to numerous interpretations over the years. Some fans argue that this was a necessary act for Batman to put an end to the Joker’s madness once and for all. They believe that by killing him, Batman would be saving countless innocent lives from future harm.

On the other hand, others argue that this goes against everything that Batman stands for as a symbol of justice and morality. They see this as an act of vengeance rather than justice and feel that it undermines everything he has fought for throughout his career as a crime-fighter.

The Author’s Intentions

Frank Miller has provided some insight into his intentions behind this ending. In an interview with Playboy magazine in 2012, he said:

“I chose to have Batman kill The Joker because I wanted to create an ending where nobody would know who won.”

Miller’s intention was not to show that Batman had given up on his moral code, but rather to leave the readers with an ambiguous ending. He wanted to create an ending that would spark debates and discussions among fans for years to come.


In conclusion, whether Batman killed the Joker in The Dark Knight Returns is still a matter of debate among fans. It’s clear that this ending was intended to be ambiguous and thought-provoking. However, it’s also important to remember that this was just one interpretation of Batman’s character and not necessarily the definitive one.

Regardless of whether you agree with this ending or not, there’s no denying that The Dark Knight Returns is a groundbreaking comic that pushed the boundaries of what a superhero story could be.