A controversial political figure due to his use of an urban myth to aid in policing his city, Gordon's devotion to justice and his strict moral code has made him one of Batman's most trusted partners in fighting crime. However, he has made it clear on numerous occasions that should Batman ever cross the line from erstwhile hero to vagrant vigilante, Gordon would not hesitate to bring him down.
Born in Chicago, James Gordon grew up with his brother Roger Gordon. Entering law enforcement in Gotham City after serving in the military Special Forces, Gordon was later transferred from Gotham City back to Chicago by Captain Gillian Loeb after Gordon shot a dirty cop and his wife. Gordon complied when Loeb threatened to kill the couple's surviving son.
During his tenure in Chicago, Gordon struggled with his wife, Barbara Eileen Gordon, over conceiving a child and took university night classes in criminology to become a detective. After uncovering corruption within the force, he faced brutality amongst the other officers and uncovered evidence of rigging in the mayoral election; bringing down two more of his fellow officers in the process. Eventually, his commissioner recommended a speedy transfer back to Gotham City, both for Gordon's safety and for theirs.
Now a lieutenant, Gordon's marriage with Barbara became progressively strained despite her newly obtained pregnancy. In the GCPD, Gordon was now partnered with Detective Arnold Flass who, under Commissioner Gillian Loeb, operated various corrupt dealings and attempted to bring Gordon into the fold; casting various "punishments" upon Gordon when the lieutenant refused.
When fellow Chicago cop Sergeant Sarah Essen transferred to Gotham City, she and Gordon embarked on an affair, however, as Gordon was married with a son on the way, she soon brought the relationship to a close and transferred to work in New York City. Flass and Loeb attempted to use the affair to blackmail Gordon but he admitted his adultery to his wife, further damaging the relationship but negating Loeb and Flass' attempts of blackmail. After Barbara and Gordon's son, James Jr. Gordon, was born, the couple attempted marriage counseling but the pair soon agreed that divorce was their best option.
While the pair filed for divorce, Gordon's brother and sister-in-law died in a car crash, leaving their daughter, Barbara Gordon, alive. Adopting his niece to live with him in Gotham, Gordon's ex-wife and son moved back to Chicago as a vigilante referred to as "The Batman" began appearing in Gotham.
While initially considering him to be just another of Gotham's problems, Gordon soon recognized that the Batman could help him weed out the corruption in the city. Together, meeting in clandestine and sharing information, the pair began cleaning the corrupt from the police force and Loeb was replaced as Commissioner; Gordon himself promoted to Captain, before the new replacement was also found to be corrupt and Gordon was promoted as head of the GCPD police force.
Furthering their plans, Gordon forged an alliance with Batman and the city's District Attorney, Harvey Dent, in a joint offensive to take down the city's primary source of criminal influence; the Gotham City Organized Crime Family. While effective, the alliance dissolved after Dent was scarred during a court hearing against Sal Maroni and became the villain Two-Face.
As commissioner, Gordon frequently faced threats from Gotham's criminals and the criminally insane that rampaged the city, during one tenor the Joker, in an effort to break Gordon psychologically, kidnapped the commissioner and turned his adopted-niece into a paraplegic.
When Sarah Essen returned to Gotham, the pair reignited their relationship and eventually married, the two enjoying a some years together before Essen was shot and killed by the Joker nearing the end of Gotham's No Man's Land debacle. These events, combined with a near fatal shooting from an ex-corrupt cop that Gordon had arrested during his younger years, saw Gordon retire the role of Commissioner for a time until after the Infinite Crisis when his replacement, Michael Akins, was found to have allowed corruption back into the police force.
- In the future of Future Batman and Future Lex Luthor, the Joker wears Gordon's bullet-riddled vest and Police badge during the Battle of Metropolis as he assails other heroes (which is a clear sign that the Joker or someone else killed him).
- Commissioner Gordon instructs the player on the scene of Joker and Harley Quinn's reign in Amusement Mile.
- Commissioner Gordon is later assisted by the player and Batman when the Joker takes the Police Masquerade Ball captive in the East End Regal Hotel.
- After the New Heroes subdue Poison Ivy, Mister Freeze and Scarecrow, Commissioner Gordon arrives with the GCPD to secure Arkham Asylum.
- James Gordon first appeared in Detective Comics #27. (May 1939).
- James Gordon is voiced by Ken Webster.
- Although he never admits it outright, numerous instances imply that Gordon knows Batman's identity but refrains from pursuing any action due to how much the city needs the vigilante.
- Gordon also knows that his step-daughter, Barbara Gordon, was the first Batgirl, however, it is unknown whether he knows she is now the superhero networker; Oracle, though it is assumed that he does. He often compares his daughter's time as Batgirl with the current actions of the Huntress.
- During his retirement from the force, Gordon taught criminology at Gotham University.
- James Gordon has a heart condition, which he contracted after a lifetime of cigarette smoking. He has since quit but occasionally relapses in times of stress or as an excuse to go to the top of the GCPD building.
- 5:00 every morning, James Gordon takes a walk through Gotham. Gordon also took up practicing Tai Chi before the walk following his near-fatal shooting.
- James Gordon DC Database