Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

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The object of love is to serve, not to win.
Woodrow Wilson
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Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a Batman comic book miniseries written and drawn by Frank Miller and published by DC Comics from February to June 1986. It reintroduced Batman to the general public as the psychologically dark character of his original 1930s conception and helped to usher in an era of "grim and gritty" superheroes from the mid-1980s to mid-1990s.


  • This would be a good death... But not good enough.
  • The time has come. You know it in your soul, for I am your soul... You cannot escape me. You are puny, you are small, you are nothing--a hollow shell, a rusty trap that cannot hold me. Smoldering, I burn you — burning you, I flare, hot and bright and fierce and beautiful. You cannot stop me, not with wine or vows or the weight of age — you cannot stop me, but still you try. Still you run. You try to drown me out... But your voice is weak.
  • This should be agony. I should be a mass of aching muscle — broken, spent, unable to move. And, were I an older man, I surely would... But I'm a man of 30 — of 20 again. The rain on my chest is a baptism. I'm born again.
  • Welcome to Hell.
  • There are seven working defenses from this position. Three of them disarm with minimal contact. Three of them kill. The other-- [KRAKK] --hurts.
  • A fine death. But there are thousands to think of... And Harvey... I have to know.
  • I see a reflection, Harvey. A reflection.
  • It was tough work, carrying 220 pounds of sociopath to the top of Gotham Towers — the highest spot in the city. The scream alone is worth it.
  • [Fighting the Mutant Leader] You don't get it, boy. This isn't a mudhole... It's an operating table. And I'm the surgeon.
  • Something tells me to stop with the leg. I don't listen to it.
  • I'll count the dead, one by one. I'll add them to the list, Joker. The list of all the people I've murdered by letting you live.
  • Fighting cops. It's been a while.
  • No, Joker. You're playing the wrong game. The old game. Tonight you're taking no hostages. Tonight I'm taking no prisoners.
  • Lucky old man.
  • The Dump. It's a breeding ground for rodents. Some rodents fly.
  • We could have changed the world. Now... look at us... I've become a political liability and you... You're a joke.
  • I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.
  • This will be a good life. Good enough.


  • Bruce, you idiot. You'll ruin everything. For all of us.
  • The rest of us learned to cope. The rest of us recoginzed the danger--of the endless envy of those not blessed. Diana went back to her people. Hal went to the stars. And I have walked the razor's edge for so long... But you, Bruce--you, with your wild obsession.
  • They'll kill us if they can, Bruce. Every year they grow smaller. Every year they hate us more. We must not remind them that giants walk the earth.
  • Twenty million die by fire if I am weak.
  • Bruce, this is idiotic. You're just meat and bone--like all the rest.

The Joker

  • Batman. Darling.
  • Should sleep. Should be fresh tomorrow. Tomorrow I go free.
  • They could put me in a helicopter and fly me up into the air and line up the bodies head to toe on the ground in delightful geometric patterns like an endless June Taylor dancers routine — And it would never be enough.
  • No, I don't keep count. But you do. And I love you for it.
  • Paralysis, really. Doesn't matter: they'll burn you for this. And they'll never know... that you just didn't have the guts. See you in hell.


  • Commissioner Gordon: I think of Sarah. The rest is easy.


Mutant Leader: You got any kids, officer?
Officer: Shut up.
Mutant Leader: Just asking, officer. I love kids.

Batman: Boosters. Boosters. What...
Robin: Peel.

Kid: Batman! He's getting away--get up. You got to kick his--
Batman: Watch... Watch your languange, son.

Batman: You sold us out, Clark. You gave them the power that should have been ours. Just like your parents taught you. My parents taught me a different lesson... lying on this street... shaking in deep shock... dying for no reason at all. They showed me that the world only makes sense when you force it to.
Superman: Bruce, I just broke three of your ribs.

Alfred: ...I shall come right out with it. Have you forgotten what happened to Jason?
Batman: I will never forget Jason. He was a good soldier. He honored me. But the war goes on.