Basil Karlo is one of the many reanimated subjects at Indian Hill. He was given shapeshifting abilities after having his DNA spliced with "octopod DNA".


Early life

Basil Karlo was an actor (although apparently a bad one) who died of unknown means. His body was brought to Indian Hill.

Being ressurected

Basil was awakened by Hugo Strange. When asked who is he is by Strange, Basil is unable to give that information, as he doesn't know who he is, or his name. He starts to pull on his cheeks, which begin to stretch. This pleases Hugo, who tells one of his staff that the octopod DNA has exactly the effect that he was looking for. Hugo tells Basil that he will return to tell him who he is. As Hugo is walking away, Basil can be heard screaming out, asking what has happened to him.

Masquerading as Jim Gordon

Hugo later introduces Basil to Jim Gordon, he tells Gordon that Basil just woke up and that he had forgotten who he was until Hugo reminded him of his great talent, that Basil was a gifted performer, a 'chameleon' of sorts. Hugo asks Gordon if he's interested in seeing Basil's power for himself, to which Gordon tells Hugo that he belongs in his own Asylum. Hugo retorts by telling Gordon that he 'belongs in the past,' that that the world has moved on, and that his 'children,' like Basil, are the future of Gotham and the world. Hugo's staff then places the metal helmet with tubes that Gordon just wore over Basil's head. They then turn on the machine. Some time later the machine is ready for removal. The staff took the helmet off Basil's head, only to reveal that he now has Jim Gordon's face. One of Hugo's nurses brings out a wig for Basil, and Hugo then places it on Basil's head. Basil tries to mimic Gordon's voice, Gordon calls them "A Son of a Bitch," and Basil mimics the phrase before finally getting the voice right."[1]

Basil, as Gordon, confronts the Strike Force and persuades them to take him to the Gotham City Police Station. Basil as Gordon claims to Harvey Bullock that everything turned out clean as Hugo Strange works with well-connected people. When Alfred Pennyworth arrived, he demands to know where Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox are. With help from Barbara Kean, Basil's ruse was exposed; after acting strangely around Alfred and Bullock, suspicions were confirmed when Basil's face stuck in place after being struck by Kean.[2]

Impersonating Elijah Van Dahl

Edward Nygma later met Basil and had him pose as Elijah Van Dahl in order to break Oswald Cobblepot's mind.[3]

No Man's Land

Following the deaths of two former police officers at the hands of Jane Doe, a former Indian Hill patient with similar but more complex shapeshifting powers, Bullock suggested Basil as a potential main suspect, though Gordon dismissed this idea.[4]

Powers and abilities


  • Malleable anatomy: After Basil was mutated with octopod DNA, he is able to use his hands to stretch his face similar to putty and alter it so he can look like anyone he wants to.


  • Voice mimicry: Basil can change his voice to sound like anyone when does his impersonations.
  • Impersonation/acting: Basil has shown to be skilled at deceiving others with his impersonations, despite the fact that Barbara Kean was able to see through his ruse as Jim Gordon.


Season 2

Season 3

Season 5


  • Seeing as Hugo Strange was collecting bodies of people who were criminals in life, it is assumed that Basil had also committed a criminal act before dying and being brought to Indian Hill.
  • It isn't clear if Basil is his real name of a persona given to him by Strange.


  • Basil Karlo, the original Clayface, made his debut in Detective Comics #40 in June 1940 and was created by Bob Kane. The character was introduced as a B-movie actor who donned the identity of Clayface from his film The Terror and began killing the cast of the remake when he learned he wasn't going to be starring in it until he was stopped by Batman and Robin and remanded to Arkham Asylum. During the "Mud Pack" story arc where Basil Karlo works with the other Clayfaces Preston Payne and Sondra Fuller as well as attempting to find a way to revive the Matt Hagen version of Clayface, he later injects himself with a compound made from their DNA, which gives him the ability to shapeshift and declares himself the "Ultimate Clayface."
  • This is the second live-action appearance of Clayface, the first having appeared on the 2002 Series, Birds of Prey.
  • Basil's ability to change his face and mimic other people makes him similar to False Face, who had a live action appearance in the 1966 Adam West TV Show played by Malachi Throne. In the Batman '66 comic book continuation of the series, False Face was identified as Basil Karlo who later became Clayface.


  1. Harper, Jordan (writer) & Bailey, Rob (director) (May 16, 2016). "Wrath of the Villains: A Legion of Horribles". Gotham. Season 2. Episode 21. FOX.
  2. Heller, Bruno (writer) & Egilsson, Eagle (director) (May 23, 2016). "Wrath of the Villains: Transference". Gotham. Season 2. Episode 22. FOX.
  3. Cannon, Danny (writer) & Egilsson, Eagle (director) (January 16, 2017). "Mad City: Ghosts". Gotham. Season 3. Episode 12. FOX.
  4. Boston, Seth (writer) & Fink, Kenneth (director) (February 28, 2019) "Nothing's Shocking" Gotham. Season 5. Episode 8.
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