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Villain Overview
My love for my Joker was stronger than their madhouse walls.
~ Harley Quinn expressing her love of the Joker.
You think I'm just a doll. A doll that's pink and light. A doll you can arrange any way you like. You're wrong. Very wrong. What you think of me is only a ghost of time. I am dangerous. And I will show you just how dark I can be.
~ Harley Quinn

Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, better known as Harley Quinn is a super villainess from DC Comics. She is the Joker's self-proclaimed girlfriend and henchwoman.

Creation and Origin

Harley Quinn first appeared in Paul Dini's Batman: The Animated Series. To the comic book canon, she was interning at Arkham Asylum as a psychologist when she met the Joker.

She got overly fixated on him and started believing she loved the Joker. From there, her character was included in The New Batman Adventures and into the DC Comics. She does whatever she has to do to achieve the Joker's approval.

She also allies herself frequently with Poison Ivy, who she later became romantically involved with. Depending on the writer and story, Joker either doesn't love her and just manipulates her into doing what he says or he can love her, but is just very vituperative and abusive.

As what was originally supposed to be the animated equivalent of a walk-on role; a number of police officers were to be taken hostage by someone jumping out of a cake, and it was decided that to have the Joker do so himself would be too bizarre (although he ended up doing so anyway).

Dini thus created a female sidekick for the Joker. Arleen Sorkin, a former star of the soap opera Days of our Lives, appeared in a dream sequence in that series in which she wore a jester costume; Dini used this scene as an inspiration for Quinn. Having been friends with Sorkin since college, he incorporated aspects of her personality into the character.

Biography

Mad Love

The 1994 graphic novel Mad Love recounts the character's origin. Told in the style and continuity of Batman: The Animated Series and written and drawn by Dini and Timm, the comic book describes Harley as an Arkham Asylum psychiatrist who falls for the Joker and becomes his accomplice and on-off sidekick/lover.

In High School, her gymnastic skills won her a scholarship to the local university where she studied criminal psychology. Though her grades were poor, she seduced her professor into passing her with top grades. She quickly applied for an internship at Arkham, hoping to write a successful book about her experience and get her own TV show.

At Arkham, she becomes fascinated with the Joker. He flirts with her, even leaving a flower on her desk. Harley volunteers to analyze him. She falls hopelessly in love nearly instantly with the Joker during their sessions when he tells her false stories about a traumatic childhood, and she helps him escape from the asylum more than once.

When the Joker is returned to Arkham after a battle with Batman, the sight of her badly injured patient drives Harley to don the costume and become Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick and on/off girlfriend. She later becomes fast friends with Poison Ivy, who injects her with antitoxins to give her the same immunity to poisons she has (which explains why she is not affected whenever the Joker releases his lethal laughing gas).

The Clown at Midnight

After Joker is shot in the face by a Batman impersonator, he had facial reconstructive surgery which gave him a fixed Glasgow smile. Because of these events, he started to go through a spiritual rebirth and had Harley Quinn murder his past henchmen to symbolize the rejection of his previous life. Harley managed to succeed in her mission despite Batman being hot on her heels and returned to Arkham Asylum where she got a bit intimate with the Joker. However, Joker secretly had a razor with him and planned to slash Harley's throat then bathe in her blood in front of Batman to complete his transformation. Batman soon arrived and made Harley realize Joker's intentions before it was too late, causing her to twist the razor out of her lover's grasp. Heartbroken by his attempt on her life, Harley shot Joker in the shoulder out of revenge and asked if he still loved her before breaking off their relationship.

Harley has since been living with Catwoman and Poison Ivy, claiming she was done with the Joker and continued to join them in their activities. Although despite her claims, Harley occasionally shows strong signs of backsliding.

New 52

Harley Quinn’s origins and history were altered for the New 52. In this continuity, Harley is still a former psychiatrist who had the Joker for a patient, but in she was not fooled by his sympathetic stories, and even caught him bringing a knife to their first session.

After the tenth session, Joker revealed what he had learned about her; that her father was killed by a drunk driver who was never punished for the crime. Joker then showed her the severed fingers of that same driver which he snuck into their interview as a gift for her. The clown claimed he could teach her to have that same strength that he used to punish her father's killer. She fell in love with him right then and there.

One of her colleagues, Dr. Sterano, found out about Harleen's relationship with the Joker, and tried to blackmail her. Enraged, Harleen tried to kill Sterano, but she was stopped by a security guard, whom she killed instead. Harleen then broke Joker out of Arkham and the pair went to the ACE Chemical Plant, where the Joker had his fateful first encounter with Batman. Joker pushed her into a chemical vat, then drained it when she sunk to the bottom. Harleen’s skin had been bleached chalk white while Harleen herself had lost her grip on reality. Joker dubbed her Harley Quinn, and the two embrace.

Other Media

DC Animated Universe

Main article: Harley Quinn (DC Animated Universe)

Batman and Harley Quinn

Batman Harley Quinn header 1050 591 81 s c1

Batman and Harley Quinn.

Harley Quinn is the titular deuteragonist of the 2017 DC animated film Batman and Harley Quinn, which takes place in the DCAU. In the film, she is forced to team up with Batman and Nightwing to stop Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man from transforming all of humanity into plants.

The Batman

Harley Quinn (The Batman)

Harley Quinn in The Batman.

Harley Quinn appears in the third and fourth seasons of The Batman, again appearing as Joker's henchwoman. However, here she is reimagined as a television talk show personality that helps people with psychological issues. However, her advice was often flawed and caused more harm than good. After attacking Bruce Wayne based on his multiple romances, her executives finally became fed up with her and cancelled her show. Joker took advantage of the distraught Harley and manipulated her into believing he was the ultimate answer to her questions about psychology and her desire for romance. Harley fell for Joker and soon dawned an old jester costume, taking up the mantle of Harley Quinn.

DC Universe Online

Harley Quinn (DCUO)

Harley Quinn (DC Universe Online)

Harley Quinn makes an appearance as Joker's Hench girl and right-hand, in DC Universe Online.

Alternate Future

In the alternate future, Harley assisted The Joker during the climatic battle between the Justice League and the Society. She was killed after she used her body to shield the Joker from an explosion caused by a combination of Black Adam, The Flash, and Green Lantern's powers. She appears to have killed or assisted in killing Robin sometime prior to this, as she is seen wearing his tattered cape.

Birds of Prey

Main article: Harley Quinn (Birds of Prey)

Justice League: Gods and Monsters

Main article: Harlequin (Gods and Monsters)

Though the character in Justice League: Gods and Monsters is more an adaptation of the obscure Green Lantern villain Harlequin, this version of said character incorporated elements of Harley Quinn into the character and even had her up against that universe's version of Batman.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Harley makes a minor appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold in an alternate costume while the Joker is Emperor Joker. She later would develop a small crush on Bat-Mite before deciding she loved the Joker more. She later appeared in the final episode.

Arkhamverse

Main article: Harley Quinn (Arkhamverse)

Injustice series

In Injustice: Gods Among Us, Harley helps the Joker bomb Metropolis, causing the eventual downfall of Superman. In the alternate universe, she allies herself with Batman to take down Superman's Regime. In Injustice 2, she fully redeems herself into a full-time superhero.

Additionally, the comic series reveals Harley gave birth to the Joker's daughter, but hid her with her sister so the Joker would never find out about her. Harley said that when she returned after two years of making sure her baby was safe, the Joker did not even realize she had left.

DC Extended Universe

Main article: Harley Quinn (DC Extended Universe)

Gotham

Main article: Barbara Kean

While Dr. Harleen Quinzel does not appear in Gotham, the character is merged into Barbara Kean, who takes most of her traits and actions, such as her love for anarchy and violence, as well as being an assistant to the Joker. Like Harley in the comics she eventually forms a group consisting of female supervillains like in the comic series Gotham City Sirens.

Despite initial rumors of Harley Quinn debuting in the show at the end of season 3, producers confirmed there are no plans for the real Harley to be introduced.

The LEGO Batman Movie

Main article: Harley Quinn (The Lego Batman Movie)

Batman: The Telltale Series

Main article: Harley Quinn (Telltale)

Personality

Harley Quinn is eccentric and extravagant, and usually commits crimes with a sadistic glee and hyperactive energy. In most incarnations, she is loyal to the Joker regardless of how cruelly he treats her. Despite being a psychiatrist, Harley is often portrayed as rather dimwitted socially and logically, as she tends to fail to notice obvious problems or overthinks minor issues. Even though she keeps an enthusiastic, crazed demeanor, deep down she is secretly tormented and tragic. Occasionally, she will have enough of the Joker and being evil and will try to fight on the side of good, such as when the world or someone she truly cares about is at stake. Even when she is on the evil side, she does have a sense of honor. For example, in the Injustice comic series, she refuses to fight Black Canary when she finds out she is pregnant. Harley also has her limits, and can be pushed too far, even by the Joker, causing her to leave and eventually team up and form a new romance with Poison Ivy.

Trivia

  • Her actual first appearance in the DC universe was in Batman: The Animated Series in the episode "Joker's Favor".
  • Harley's Olympic-level gymnastic skills have said to rival that of Nightwing and Catwoman.
  • Harley is the third most recurring villain of the DC Animated Universe (behind Joker and Lex Luthor).
  • Harley Quinn was supposed to appear alongside the Scarecrow as one of the main antagonists of Batman Unchained, a planned fifth entry in the live-action Batman film series that ran from 1989 to 1997. Here, she would have been rewritten into the daughter of the Joker from the first film seeking revenge for her father. However, after the universal negative reception to the fourth entry, Batman & Robin, the film was cancelled.
    • In Batman Unchained, Harley would have been portrayed by Madonna.
  • Harley Quinn was supposed to appear as a DLC character in Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, but this was cancelled when the developer, Midway, went bankrupt.
  • Harley will be featured in the upcoming movie called Ready Player One.

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