Gotham was always supposed to focus on the city and its inhabitants. Producer John Stephens reveals Batman wasn't really the focal point of the show, which is why the series finale didn't show a whole lot of him, even though the series had been seemingly building to fully unveil him for the past five years. Whatever the case may be, the series finale took viewers ten years into the future to show where all of the characters ended up, which is a pretty bold maneuver by the producers of the show.
The Gotham series finale really only showed Batman in the shadows, much like a movie featuring the Caped Crusader. The iconic character was finally really hinted at the end of the episode as Commissioner Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, and Harvey Bullock are standing next to what is set to become the Bat Signal. They look up to see Batman and Bullock asks who it is, while Gordon reveals he is a "friend." It's really the perfect ending for a series, which was never really about Batman to begin with.
The end of Gotham had been set for a while, according to producer John Stephens. However, the idea to go ten years into the future was more of a recent addition. Stephens says the idea of it taking place sometime in the future was always the plan, but specifically going as far as ten years was a newer risk they decided to take, mainly because they had to show where the massive cast is. As for not showing much of Batman, Stephens had this to say.
"From very early going we knew that the series would end with Gordon looking up and seeing Batman above him. We were telling the story about the city that created Batman, and we were telling it primarily through the eyes of Jim Gordon, the man who was there at the beginning, and without whom, in our eyes, Batman would not have existed. So it felt narratively right that the series would end with Jim looking up and seeing Batman."
The series finale of Gotham ended up feeling like a Batman movie, which was a huge challenge to bring to life without having a giant budget to do so. But, they pulled it off anyway and fans are sure to appreciate how it all ended, even if it wasn't what they initially had in mind. Trying to tell a cohesive story over five seasons is not easy and ending it is even harder. John Stephens explains.
"Jumping 10 years into the future we had to look at every single character (and we have a lot of them) and say, okay, what's happened to them over the past 10 years, where have they been, how has it affected them, and then develop and design new looks for them which our hair and make-up and wardrobe team did exceptionally well, but it was a lot of work. Then we had to decide and design what Gotham looked like 10 years on. And then, and this may indeed have been the biggest practical challenge, we had to sell Batman. And the bar for that is extremely high. Audiences are used to the 100 million dollar big screen version of Batman, what he looks like, what he can do. So we had that in mind as the world we were trying to live inside."
John Stephens is proud of what they were able to achieve while working on Gotham. When asked if there was one main inspiration behind the series, Stephen says, "(Frank) Miller's Batman: Year One, which is some pretty iconic source material. When all is said and done, Stephens hopes DC fans will look back on the show as being an official part of canon. You can read the rest of the interview with John Stephens over at The Hollywood Reporter.