An officer from Chicago, James Gordon was unaware of the level of corruption in the Gotham City Police Department until he arrived in the city. Finding allies in District Attorney Harvey Dent (who would later become Two-Face) and the masked vigilante Batman he began a crusade to bring real justice to the city, eventually rising to the rank of police commissioner, where he was able to make sure that at least the major crimes unit was free of corruption. On the way he lost his wife and son, who left because of his obsession with the job, but gained an adoptive daughter in his neice Barbara Gordon, who thought he was unaware of her activities as Batgirl and later as information-broker Oracle. In recent years, Gordon married Sarah Essen, an old colleague from his days on the Chicago PD, but lost her to the Joker's bullets during the 'No Man's Land' period which the city suffered through. The Joker had previously crippled his adoptive daughter, but still Gordon was determined to bring him in 'by the book.'
In the last year, James Gordon was shot by one of his own men, who he had arrested many years ago in Chicago. Seriously injured, he made the decision to retire, leaving the department in the hands of Chief Akins, much to he chagrin of his officers and Batman, with whom he now has a close friendship. He left the city for some time, but has returned as a professor of criminology at Gotham's university.