Eagle-eared theatergoers may have noticed one thing about The Dark Knight Rises, aside from how horrible it apparently was: The complete absence of any references to the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger. It was intentional: As Christopher Nolan put it, he wanted to honor Ledger’s memory by leaving his last role untouched, rather than turning it into another plot point to be fussed about. But a novelization of the movie may have revealed the Joker’s fate, for those fans who can’t seem to let it go. Below, the revealing excerpt:
Now that the Dent Act had made it all but impossible for the city’s criminals to cop an insanity plea, it (Blackgate Prison) had replaced Arkham Asylum as a preferred location for imprisoning both convicted and suspected felons. The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumor had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate. Or perhaps he had escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina.
Novelizations are just that, and rarely indicative of a film’s canon. It’s certainly a plausible explanation, and a nice little note to answer that nagging question. If you click through, you can even look at an amusing fan-created storyboard that imagines how Joker might’ve made a cameo in the movie—and that’s definitely plausible, because even Bane would know better than to let him loose on a lawless city.