- "I am tired of sitting at the kids' table. If I'm right, we can have way more than vengeance. We can have it all. We don't need to go to war. All we need to do is start one."
- —Barbara Kean to Tabitha and Butch when realizing Oswald was in love with Ed.[src]
Barbara Kean is a former art gallery owner in Gotham City's Art District and Jim Gordon's ex-fiancée. Barbara is also a former Arkham Asylum inmate and a former Maniax member. She was a crime boss running The Sirens nightclub with her partner Tabitha Galavan until she was defeated and killed by the latter. League of Shadows leader, Ra's al Ghul, used the waters of the Lazarus Pit to revive her.
Growing up Barbara had a strained relationship with her parents, causing them to be estranged more or less. At an unknown point in her life she entered a romantic relationship with Renee Montoya, though it ended after a year. Several years later Barbara later got into a relationship with Jim Gordon while he was in Gotham's Police Academy. Eventually they fell in love and he proposed to her and became his fiancée.
Jim Gordon's fiancée
Renee Montoya payed her a visit and attempted to convince Barbara that Jim was morally corrupt and murdered an had innocent man, Mario Pepper and killed a gangster named Oswald Cobblepot for mobster, Carmine Falcone.
Barbara is told about the child snatching case and admits his frustration that he can't go to the press. Barbara grabs the phone and anonymously phones the newspaper. When Montoya entered her home with the keys that Barbara had given her some time before while they were still together, Barbara came out of the shower with a marijuana cigarette and confronted Montoya. Barbara took the keys back from Montoya and told her that Montoya was just trying to lie to her so Barbara she would leave Gordon and return to her, but the two kissed briefly before Montoya left.
Barbara is introduced to Oswald Cobblepot under the alias of "Peter Humboldt" before he is walked out to the street by Jim. Later at her penthouse, Barbara asks Jim who was Oswald Cobblepot.
Barbara ended up confessing that she and Renee had previously been in a relationship that only lasted a year.
Barbara confronts Montoya and offered to tell her anything that she might find out in exchange for her leaving Jim alone. However, Montoya refuses because she already had a witness and a warrant for her Gordon.
After Oswald Cobblepot is discovered to be alive, Barbara was held captive at the hands of Butch Gilzean. Butch begins harassing her and reveals that Jim did not kill Cobblepot as he was told. Gordon returns home and ends quickly defeats both Gilzean and his associate. Fearing for Barbara's life, Gordon takes her to the bus station where he asks her to leave for a few days until he solved the situation. Finally, she reluctantly listens to him. She later returns to beg for Jim's life to Falcone, and he has Victor Zsasz watch her. Zsasz later brings her out to Gordon, and she apologizes to Jim.
Barbara, who totally consumed by her fear of Zsasz, got Jim's spare gun after drinking several glasses of wine. He then tried to calm her down, lying to her and telling her there were no monsters. Barbara later called Jim and he told her he had to call her back as he was in the middle of something. She later leaves when she realized that she couldn't bear the burden of which Jim had to carry.
Barbara was shown to have regretted leaving Gordon as Renee tries to convince her to let her talk to Gordon. Renee then decides to leave Barbara since they used to do drugs when they were together years before and she was afraid to make that mistake again. When Barbara later calls up Gordon's penthouse, Ivy Pepper answers the phone and states that she is a friend of Gordon. Mistakenly assuming that Gordon has another woman in his life now, Barbara tells her to "Go to Hell."
Barbara, disappointed after having lost Jim, redirected her attention to Selina attempting to advise her on how to use her beauty as a weapon against men. Selina expresses little interest in this.
Kidnapped by The Ogre
Barbara then becomes involved with a man who is in fact, The Ogre. He is about to kill her, but he then realizes that she is the one for him.
After going to "The Wayne Charity Ball" together, The Ogre kidnaps, brainwashes and makes Barbara choose her parents for him to murder. When Jim and Harvey Bullock show up, The Ogre presses a knife to Barbara's throat. Jim shoots The Ogre, whose knife slides across Barbara's throat, cutting her. Leslie patches Barbara up and she thanks Jim for rescuing her.
While chatting with Leslie, Barbara keeps asking her how her relationship with Jim was going, then she starts talking about her parents in a negative light. To Leslie's horror, she reveals that she was the one who killed them.
Leslie recognizes that Barbara has become unstable and tries to flee, but Barbara chases her with a knife, and the two women get into a fight. Leslie manages to knock Barbara out.
Abduction From Arkham
Barbara was taken to Arkham Asylum, which was mostly populated with men. Jerome Valeska advises her to make a friend, so Barbara seduced Aaron Helzinger, and asked him to protect her. She later approached Richard Sionis and asked for a phone. Sionis says he helps his friend if they help him. Barbara got access to a phone and called Jim. She attempted to convince him that Leslie was the one, who attacked her, but Jim hung up. Barbara and the other inmates were sprung by Theo Galavan and offered the chance to become a group that would terrorize Gotham.
Barbara had a relationship with Tabitha Galavan and they whipped Mayor Aubrey James together. Barbara said she was bored and wanted to know when her time was coming. Theo said soon and asked her to tell him about Jim. Barbara lured Jim away while The Maniax attacked the GCPD. Jim cornered her in an alley and told her she was sick and needed help. Helzinger attacked Jim, and beat him up, into Barbara ordered him to stop. Barbara told Jim she wasn't sick; she was free. She teasingly told him she should get back to work, and implied something happened while he was absent.
Barbara Kean later accompanied Jerome Valeska into holding the people at the fundraiser at the Gotham Children's Hospital hostage. Upon Leslie Thompkins getting caught by one of the hired help, Barbara had her placed onto a spinning wheel. After Theo Galavan had killed Jerome during his fight with Gordon and Alfred, Barbara used the magic box to escape.
Barbara comes into Theo's office and admits that she and Penguin had met before. She then gives Cobblepot her drink.When Butch Gilzean comes before Theo Galavan looking for a job, Barbara mentioned that he had held her hostage previously. Though she and Tabitha excitedly suggested things to put on his stump. Tabitha Galavan later assisted Barbara Kean in a plan that resulted in the abduction of Jim Gordon where he was brought to a nearby church.
She even assembled some hostages and a priest while sporting a wedding dress. After Tabitha arrived with a captive Leslie, she planned to marry Gordon in front of Leslie. When the police raided the church, Tabitha escaped while Gordon followed Barbara up to the top of the church. When Barbara started to fall out the window, Gordon grabbed her. Before ending up hospitalized upon letting go and falling into the bushes below, Barbara told Gordon where Aubrey James was.
In a coma
As a result from the fall, Barbara was placed in an induced coma and transferred to the medical wing at Arkham Asylum.
Awakening from her coma
News of Jim Gordon being found guilty for the murder of Carl Pinkney were heard on the radio at Arkham Asylum's medical wing. This caused Barbara to awake from her coma as a nearby nurse discovers this and arranges for Hugo Strange to be informed.
Barbara was part of a group therapy that was overseen by Hugo Strange and Ethel Peabody. She expressed remorse for her actions stating that she was manipulated by the voices in her head and that her coma got her rested from them. Hugo Strange then releases Barbara from Arkham as he tells Ethel that he plans to study her. Barbara later found Gordon at his current place of residence.
Barbara told Jim she was all better now, but Jim still didn't trust her. Barbara wanted to help Jim with his investigation of the Wayne murders, but he threw her out of his apartment. Barbara later shows up at the women's club when Jim attempted to interrogate "The Lady", who ran an assassination business. Barbara earned her trust and helped her capture Jim. She talked "The Lady" into revealing what Jim wanted to know about the Wayne murders by acting like she wanted to kill him and use this last piece of information to taunt him, and then helped free him. Jim asked why Barbara wanted to help him, and Barbara said he was the first thing she thought of when she awoke from her coma. She thought if she helped him, he would look at her the way he used to. Jim says this changed nothing, and leaves Barbara heartbroken. Barbara later shows up on Butch Gilzean's and Tabitha's doorstep, and Tabitha takes her in.
After being creeped out by her strange behavior, Butch kicked her out of his mansion. Barbara was invited back to the mansion when Oswald Cobblepot returned to Gotham. Oswald wanted her help in figuring out where to position a lamp, made from the decomposing head of Grace Van Dahl. She later went to the GCPD to find out from Jim where Hugo Strange was hiding. She quickly realized that it wasn't Jim when he made inappropriate comments to her, and she slapped him, revealing him as an imposter to the GCPD. Barbara phoned Oswald from the GCPD to tell him what she found out.
At the beginning of the third season, Barbara and Tabitha Galavan remain in a romantic relationship and run "The Sirens," their own high-end nightclub. The two are defiant of Penguin and his criminal organization, but remain untouched because of the history that they share and because of the small usefulness they provide him. Penguin allows them to continue to operate unperturbed, although he seems to consider them a thorn in his side.
While searching for an abducted Tabitha, Barbara discovers Penguin's feelings for Edward Nygma and his role in the death of Isabella. She reveals this to Nygma, turning him against his former friend. When Nygma comes to "The Sirens" seeking Penguin's destruction, she announces that she has concocted a plan to depose Penguin and take over Gotham's underworld herself. She is able to convince Nygma, Butch Gilzean and Tabitha to help her carry out her plan.
Queen of Gotham
Once her plan has succeeded, she takes her place as the underworld's new queen, with Tabitha at her side. She rules from her nightclub and is just as ruthless and demanding as her predecessor.
As a favor for Jim, she interrogates a dockworker for information about the weapon that the Court of Owls is having brought in. She discovers that the package has already arrived, but her interrogation is cut short by the arrival of a new Talon.
In order to maintain control, Barbara comes up with a plan to kidnap Jervis Tetch, who is needed to make a cure for the Tetch Virus that has engulfed Gotham. Unfortunately for Barbara, Nygma double crosses her and takes Jervis to make an exchange for Oswald with Jim. Barbara, Tabitha, and Butch show up, and a gun fight breaks out. Nygma flees, and Barbara tells Tabitha and Butch to let Nygma go, and focus on getting Jervis back. Jim, Harvey, and Jervis eventually flee to an abandoned werehouse, being chased by Barbara and her gang the whole time. As they look for Jim, Barbara tells Jim she knows he and Lee have the virus, and that Lee wants to "take her head off". "Is it weird that kind of makes me like her?" Barbara quips. Suddenly, Barbara hears a scream, and finds Jervis with a large cut in his throat.
Barbara and her gang pack up to head to their safe house, knowing that all of Gotham will be after them. Barbara confronts Butch, and says she knows they were planning to kill her. Butch says that if it wasn't for Tabitha, she would have been dead a long time ago. Barbara asks if he is saying Tabitha wasn't involved, and Butch says she wasn't. He was going to kill her and then play dumb when they reached the safehouse. Barbara sneered that he would playing to be his strength. Butch said she was always making fun of him because of all her tough talk, she missed Tabitha, who made her a better person, and Barbara gave that all up, so she could play queen for a day.
Butch tells Barbara she's pathetic, and pulls out a switch blade, saying Barbara never deserved Tabitha. Barbara shoots Butch through the head and says "we'll see".
Later, Tabitha walks into the old, wooden safe-house calling Butch and Barbara's name, with no reply. She sees a small metal box on the table, she opens it to find Butch's metal hand inside. Before she can react to the sight of Butch's hand, Barbara walks up behind her, pointing a gun at her, and asking if killing Nygma was really that important to her. Tabitha ignores the question and asks if Barbara killed Butch. Barbara avoids the question saying Butch told her Tabitha had nothing to do with trying to kill her and whether that was true, to which Tabitha replies that it doesn't matter.
When Barbara requests for the pair of them to forget this ever happened and go back to being partners Tabitha again asks if she killed Butch as she needs to know if they can move forward. Barbara hesitantly replies that she did kill him but she wasn't given a choice. Tabitha almost breaks down in tears before exclaiming that there is always a choice before throwing the metal hand at Barbara.
Barbara drops to the ground as the hand shatters the wooden wall behind her. Tabitha grabs her whip and restrains Barbara's hand, causing her to drop her gun and then pulls Barbara towards her. She stops Barbara from falling to the ground, and then immediately throws her into one of the walls which she falls through before being picked back up and slammed against another wall where the pair briefly share a passionate kiss before Barbara headbutts Tabitha away. Barbara tackles her into another wall, but Tabitha quickly throws her off. Barbara tries to climb away on her hands and knees, but Tabitha grabs her head and slams her into another wall, choking her for a few seconds before Barbara removes one of her own earrings and slashes it across Tabitha's face, forcing her to retreat momentarily.
Barbara then grabs a sharp piece of wood from the wall and runs at Tabitha but she ducks and hits Barbara through another unstable wooden wall. Barbara notices her gun just feet away from her, she goes for it while Tabitha retrieves her whip. Tabitha attempts to hit the gun out of Barbara's hand but appears to have "missed". Barbara then laughs and taunts her by saying "How many times have I told you not to bring a whip to a gunfight?!". With the smile still on her face she notices too late that Tabitha's whip is coiled around a large lamp which she pulls down at Barbara's feet, on top of a large puddle of water, causing it to break and electrocutes her to death. Barbara falls to the floor, smoke pouring off of her pale, burnt skin. Tabitha looks at her body with little to no remorse on her face, stating that now they can move forward.
Working with Ra's Al Ghul
For unknown reasons, Barbara was resurrected by Ra's al Ghul through the Lazarus Pit and returned to Gotham in hiding. Using Ra's al Ghul resources, Barbara built a new business dealing in weapons trading as a means to and end of remaking a name in Gotham's criminal underworld under The Penguin's control. She sought out both Tabitha once more and Selina Kyle and offered them an "opportunity" to work alongside her in the weapons business. Barbara clearly having changed somewhat seems calmer than previously which is what stayed Tabitha's hand against her as she refused her offer. Not soon after The Penguin heard the rumors of her survival and plans to open an illegal weapons business, offering her the chance to operate the business so long as she acquires a license under his jurisdiction and pays running fees. Reminding her that he will be keeping a close eye on her to crush any idea of her attempting to usurp or turn against him again. After the convincing of Selina, Tabitha returned to Barbara with an ultimatum as collateral in return for Tabitha and Selina working alongside her as well as proving her loyalty, Tabitha would cut off her hand. Just as Penguin had done to Butch two years prior and just has Nygma had done to her less than a year ago. Barbara is willing if it will prove her loyalty, but as Tabitha brings a butcher's knife down on her wrist she misses purposely stating that she'll start Monday.
Under the orders of Ra's Barbara was instructed to retrieve a special knife from Penguin. Selina Kyle was sent to Penguin's shipping boat but came back empty handed. Barbara stated she was not mad and decided to retrieve the knife herself. She arrived at The Iceberg Lounge and asked Penguin to give her the knife and even
offered to triple the price given at auction, Penguin laughed and refused to give it to her. At the auction Barbara first offered up $100,000 but was quickly beat down by Bruce Wayne who offered up $100,001. It wasn't long before she got extremely irritated at Bruce, even calling him a "spoiled brat", Bruce then offered up $2,000,000 and before Barbara could offer up anymore money Penguin swiftly sold the knife to Bruce, Barbara, annoyed, congratulated Bruce and left the auction. Later, Barbara was visited by Ra's who asked if she had the knife, when she explained Bruce Wayne had it, Ra's told her that it was fine and he wasn't mad, he explains the knife is the key to everything Barbara explains. not everything, and they both kiss.
Ra's shows up at Barbara's lair and apologizes for being late and Barbara complains that his guests, Anubis and The Hunter, don't do much for the vibe of her place. Ra's explains they wouldn't be necessary if Barbara got the knife when she was first asked, she asks why this knife is so important and Ra's explains it was made 10,000 years ago. Barbara just nods along as Ra's give Anubis something to track down the knife. Later, Jim enters Barbara's building and she wants to catch up, but Jim asks if she had anything to do with the murder of Niles Winthrop, who had the knife in his possession when he was murdered. Barbara explains to Jim that she was running her business the night Mr. Winthrop was murdered and she had witnesses. Jim asks who she got the money to open her own business from and she tells him that she got it from a client, Bruce storms in and asks if she got it from Ra's al Ghul. Barbara tells him she doesn't know who or what he's talking about, Jim grabs Bruce and they both leave.
When Ra's gets captured and taken to Blackgate Penitentiary Barbara visits him. She asks what the end goal of all of this was but gets no answer, she then proposes that she will break him out and they go back to her lair but Ra's declines the offer. He asks Barbara to put her hand on the glass between them and she does so,as their hands glow with a mysterious light for a second and she pulls away swiftly. Barbara asks what just happened and he explains she will see,as he tells her goodbye and she walks off.
At her lair, Barbara explains to Tabitha and Selina that she is shutting down her weapons business. She tells them that Ra's was bankrolling her but now that he's dead she has no chance of keeping her business alive. Later, while Barbara is giving Tabitha her final pay cheque, Tabitha gets a call from a nervous Selina who tried to steal money from a motorcycle gang. Tabitha hangs up and asks Barbara to come with her to save Selina, Barbara refuses and an annoyed Tabitha quickly leaves to save he friend. While there Tabitha and Selina both get cornered until Barbara walks in, she asks if the thugs ordered Thai food they tell her they didn't and she quickly announces that she doesn't have any and guns them all down. She snatches the money from Selina, takes some and begins to walk off. Selina asks her if this means they're over, Barbara tells them that they're both coming back to "The Nest" and the three walk off.
While in The Iceberg Lounge, Barbara, Tabitha and Selina are confronted by one of the thugs they stole from and he demands that Penguin get rid of them. They argue until Mr Penn walks in and explains to Penguin that Ed is making fun of him in a clown show in The Narrows. In a fit of rage Penguin murders the thug that was arguing with The Sirens and asks them to go to The Narrows and bring Ed to him by nightfall, they agree. While going there Barbara asks Selina what goes on in Cherry's and Selina explains that it's a fight club. Tabitha exclaims that she can't wait to get her hands on Ed and Barbara agrees. Once at cherries the three are shocked at Ed's clown show as it is really not like him to do something so dumb, Tabitha wanders off to find Butch, who now goes by Solomon Grundy, while Barbara goes to talk to Lee. She puts her hands around Lee's eyes telling her to 'guess who' when she turns around with a gun. Lee then hits Barbara across the face with her gun. Barbara asks if she'd like to do it again but she refuses. Barbara then asks what Jim thinks of the new Lee, she simply replies with "Jim who?" Barbara tells her that the conversation was interesting and walks off. While searching for Ed Barbara comes across Selina who has him tied up and is ready to leave, Barbara is surprised that she could do it so fast and they both go to find Tabitha. They find her trying to restore Grundy's memory but he sees that Barbara and Selina have Ed and gets angry. Barbara tells Grundy to back off until Selina proposes that Butch fight Tabitha and the winner can take Ed, everyone agrees.
While Tabitha is getting ready to fight, Barbara suggests she takes a weapon but Tabitha tells them she'll be fine. During the fight Grundy begins to over power Tabitha and knowing that she could die, Barbara tosses a weapon into the ring and Tabitha hits Grundy across the face, she does this a second time which knocks him to the ground. Barbara and Selina jump into the ring and Barbara grabs Ed and holds a gun to him. Firefly charges in and makes everyone back off, Barbara is pleased that Penguin sent backup and smiles at Ed until Firefly tells her that she missed the deadline. Barbara explains that they got Ed and they could just bring him to Penguin right now. Firefly smiles and is about to burn them until Lee shoots her in the back sending her flying into the wall. Lee reveals that Cherry is the one who brought Firefly into her club to get Ed and everyone turns on her. Cherry tells them that The Sirens work for Penguin and that they are the problem, Barbara then shoots her in the head and exclaims they just quit working for Penguin and everyone cheers. The Sirens then quickly escape the club but not before Barbara takes one more look at Lee, who smiles back, Barbara then runs off.
While Sofia Falcone is attempting to use her car to escape Penguin's attempt of killing her, she is grabbed and knocked out by The Sirens with Barbara remarking that "things are finally looking up". They take Sofia back to their lair and explain that they plan to use her to get Penguin to back off, not knowing that Penguin and Sofia were at war. Sofia quickly tells them that she has been using playing him for months, trying to take his empire from him. Barbara and Tabitha don't believe her at first but Selina thinks she could be telling the truth.
Barbara knows that Falcones learn to lie before they can read so she doesn't trust Sofia. Barbara plans to still blackmail Penguin into leaving them alone and knows that Penguin will want Sofia whether she's his friend or his enemy and asks to get him on the phone. Penguin gets the phone from Zsasz and Barbara greets him with a friendly hello. He asks what she's doing with Sofia, she explains to him that they thought Sofia was his best friend at the time they kidnapped her. Penguin asks for a price for Sofia and Barbara tells him that she wants to keep her gunshop, not share profits with him and that they work alone from now forward. Penguin agrees and tells her he'll send Zsasz to collect Sofia. The Sirens are suspicious of Penguin as it didn't take him long to agree to their offer and sense that he is plotting against them, Sofia explains that he couldn't wait for Barbara to hang up the phone and that they need to get out of the building. Selina tells Tabitha and Barbara that they should listen as Zsasz is standing outside with a rocket launcher. He shoots the building and it goes up in flames with The Sirens and Sofia just narrowly escaping. Barbara promises to snap Penguins beak in two.
Later, They kidnap Penguin's friend, Martin, and bring him into their car. Barbara thinks he's cute but Tabitha just calls him creepy. They bring him to a secluded location and wait for Penguin to arrive, once he does Barbara watches as Sofia and Penguin throw insults at each other but Sofia ultimately lets Martin go. The Sirens and Sofia think they've won until Penguin blows up the car Martin was in and begins shooting at them, they all duck for cover behind a car. Back at Sofia's mansion, Sofia begins explaining their future plans and how their going to overthrow Penguin, Barbara tells her that she had her shot and missed. The Sirens begin to leave until Sofia tells them that they have nowhere else to go except with her and they stay.
Barbara initially appeared to be a kind, caring, selfless and moral individual. She risked her own life to save Jim, by going to Carmine Falcone and pleading for Jim's life. She has an addictive personality, as she is shown to have been addicted to alcohol and drugs in the past. She ended her relationship with Jim Gordon, because she did not feel that he included her in his life; and he did not provide emotional support for her after she was held captive by Carmine, as well as the fact that she is afraid of being around the dangers that Jim brings as a police detective.
Upon leaving she resumes a relationship with Renee Montoya, who breaks up with her because Barbara had relapsed into abusing drugs. She goes to see Jim at the police precinct but finds him kissing Leslie, and flees.
Unknown to anyone at the time, Barbara is (secretly) mentally unstable.
After she was forced to kill her parents (off-screen) by Jason Skolimski, aka the Ogre, Barbara's unstable nature had awoken. She tells Leslie that she killed her own parents, attacks Leslie and tried to kill her with a knife - presumably because Leslie is now Jim's girlfriend.
Since her psychotic break, Barbara has openly become arrogant, aggressive, violent, immoral, unstable and delusional.
After Barbara comes out of her coma, she apparently has guilt and remorse for her actions, and was apparently horrified at what she had become/done. Although she claimed she was sane after being released from Arkham, she seemed to suffer another psychotic break after Jim rejected her.
Her latest personality is not without affection or care for those close to her, but she is also shown to be cold and conniving. She has little respect for authority of any kind and is prone to a violent and sadistic nature.
- Originally it was stated that Barbara would be an Emergency Room Doctor. However, this appears to have been changed as it was revealed in "Pilot" that instead she is the owner of an art gallery.
- The show's version of Barbara, is the first to be presented as a bisexual character.
- Although Barbara's character is (initially) based on Barbara Gordon, the first wife of Jim Gordon, however, she has many similar attributes to Harley Quinn.
- The character of Barbara Kean was created by Frank Miller and Dave Mazzucchelli and first appeared in Batman #404 (February 1987), the first part of the Batman: Year One story. She is known to be the first wife of James Gordon and mother of his children. The character has been known as Barbara Eileen Gordon & Barbara Kean-Gordon (depending on the writer). An earlier version of the character, who was simply referred to as Barbara Gordon, first appeared in World's Finest #53 (August 1951), created by David Vern Reed, Dick Sprang and Charles Paris.
- Not to be confused with the character of the same name, who is James and Barbara's daughter who becomes Batman's sidekick, Batgirl and later Oracle.
- Barbara's mental instability and her status as a criminal is a nod to her sociopathic son in the DC comics, James Gordon Jr..