Harley Quinn has made the big time. The Joker’s one-time girlfriend has emerged as a leading Batman villain in her own right, stepping out of Mr. J’s shadow to headline her own comics and movies. From mastering academics to gymnastics and the world of crime, the jaunty-cap jester has proven to be more than a pretty, pasty clown face. Hold onto your sledgehammers and brace yourself for 44 devilishly fun facts about Harley Quinn.
44. No Inspiration
Bruce Timm, one of Harley Quinn’s co-creators, drew inspiration for Harley and the Joker’s fling from an old female friend’s “stormy but nonviolent relationship.” It’s not wonder, then, that The Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship is so odd.
In 2011, DC relaunched many of its titles, which meant Harley got a new (and more revealing) outfit that lasted until about 2016: thigh-high books, a corset, and short-shorts. It’s this outfit that’s more reflected in Margot Robbie’s Suicide Squad ensemble, with its booty shorts and tight “Daddy’s Little Monster” t-shirt.
42. Mad Awards
Harley’s comics origin story, “Mad Love,” won an Eisner Award for Best Single Issue in 1994. (Just to give the uninitiated a sense of what that means, the Eisner Award is basically the Oscar for comic books.)
41. It’s Doctor Quinn to You!
Harley Quinn holds a PhD in Psychiatry from Gotham City University.
40. A Meteoric Rise
As a testament to her instant appeal, Quinn made her comic book debut in The Batman Adventures #12 in September 1993, just a year after her television appearance in the episode “Joker’s Favor” on September 11, 1992.
39. A Flame for the Batman
A 2015 Valentine’s Day special suggests that she eventually developed a softer spot for Bruce Wayne.
38. Beauty, Brains & Brawn
Explaining her acrobatic skills, Harley Quinn attended Gotham City University on a gymnastics scholarship.
37. Call Me by Your Clown Name
Her birthname name is Harleen Frances Quinzel, and her evil epithet is clearly a play on the word “harlequin.”
36. She Wears Her Heritage on Her (Black and Red) Sleeves
Harley is Jewish, and has frequent exclamations of Yiddish phrases such as “plotz.”
35. That Time of the Month
Due to Harely’s continued success as a bestselling property, DC Entertainment declared February 2015 to be “Harley Quinn Month.”
34. Companions and Co-Creators
Paul Dini, another one of Harley’s co-creators, has been friends with Harley Quinn’s voice actress, Arleen Sorkin, since the two were in college.
33. A Page of Her Own
In 2001, Harley finally got her own monthly comic book series, Harley Quinn. However, sales fell by the mid-2000s, and DC closed the curtains on the series in 2003.
32. Another Gal Dragged Down by a Guy
Regarding the initial failure of Harley Quinn’s solo series, Batman historian Chris Sims blamed it on the relocation of Harley into the comics’ continuity and away from the TV plots. To Sims, it was easier to stomach Harley’s devotion to the Joker in the Batman television show (with his cartoonish supervillainy) than the more unadulterated Joker of the mainstream comics (with his X-rated, face-slashing supervillainy). At the same time, it was difficult to totally divorce her from this driving relationship.
31. Video Game Reprisal
Arleen Sorkin returned to voice Harley Quinn in the 2009 video game Batman: Arkham Asylum.
30. Ditching the Cap & Embracing the ‘Do
You might note something missing in Harley’s later appearances: her signature jester cap. In the most recent interpretations of the Gotham City siren, creators have opted to replace her bell cap with big, blonde pigtails, such as in the game Batman: Arkham Asylum and the Suicide Squad film.
29. A New Voice
Although Arleen Sorkin voiced Harley Quinn for Batman: The Animated Series, and for the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum, she did not return for the video game sequel, Arkham City. Instead, veteran voice actress Tara Strong took over the jaunty cap in 2011 for the game’s second installment.
28. Show Off
To embody Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie did almost all of her own stunts, including the scene where Robbie/Quinn has to run up an elevator wall and come down the other side to put a soldier in a choke hold. And she did all that without a harness.
27. Lego My Harley
Saturday Night Live and Bob’s Burgers alumna Jenny Slate voiced Harley Quinn in The Lego Batman Movie.
26. Move Over, Batman v. Superman
In 2018, audiences got the crossover that everyone was asking for in the direct-to-video movie Scooby-Doo! & Batman: The Brave and the Bold. Of course, Harley was there, this time voiced by Tara Strong (who also played Poison Ivy in the flick).
25. Missed Encounters
Harley Quinn was supposed to have a cameo on Season 2 of Arrow. They even filmed it! She was meant to show up as an occupant of the A.R.G.U.S. holding cells, and there were even plans to include her in later episodes. However, her subsequent inclusion in Suicide Squad meant they had to leave the bell cap on the cutting room floor.
24. Amazonian Side Gigs
In Issue #43 of Countdown, Harley ends up in an Amazonian women’s shelter and tries her hand at being one of their warriors. However, the lifestyle proves incompatible with Harley’s true nature, and she ditches the gig to go back to loving The Joker.
23. Sharing the Love
Harley has also dated both Deadshot and Poison Ivy, which shows there’s love after life with The Joker.
22. Played by a Material Girl?
In the late 90s, Joel Schumacher had plans to direct a third Batman movie. Harley Quinn would have played a huge part in his magnum opus. Of course, in this version, Quinn would have been the vengeful daughter of The Joker (not his lover), with Madonna or Courtney Love lined up to play the jaunty jester. Look, I’m not saying it sounds good, I’m just saying I’d definitely watch it.
21. Forgotten Beginnings
Sure, Suicide Squad was the first live-action film appearance of Harley Quinn, but it was by no means her live-action debut. Remember the WB’s Birds of Prey? No? We can’t blame you; the show was cancelled after just 13 episodes. However, the short-lived series did feature Mia Sara (aka Sloane from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Quinn in a series arc, where the mild-mannered psychiatrist Dr. Quinzel was unveiled as the true mastermind behind our heroes’ troubles!
20. Can’t Touch This
Thanks to Poison Ivy’s treatment, Harley Quinn is immune to most types of toxins, including Ivy’s own touch (which is handy since they used to date).
19. Alternate Pairings (That We Hope There’s No Fanfic About)
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, there’s an Earth-Two version of The Joker and Harley, but they’re not dating. Thank goodness: In that reality, The Joker is “The Jester” and “Harley” is the name of his pet monkey.
18. Wretched Roomies
At one point in the Gotham City Sirens comics, Harley shared a townhouse with Poison Ivy and The Riddler, because rent doesn’t come cheap for anyone in Gotham City. Why don’t you get on that, Batman?
17. It’s Like Family Matters, but With a Rap Sheet
Quinn is from Brooklyn, and she still has family back in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. In Gotham City Sirens, it’s revealed she has one (very lazy) brother, a mother (who disapproves of her life of crime), and a father (who is in prison himself).
16. In the Ringer
Batman: White Knight follows The Joker’s attempts to reform himself as “Jack Napier.” This stab at redemption featured Jack/The Joker apologizing to Quinn for his treatment of her, getting down on one knee, and proposing. For his efforts, Harley promptly laughed and kicked him in the gut.
15. Once Upon a Soap Dream
Before voicing Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, Arleen Sorkin starred in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. In one episode of Lives, Sorkin appeared as a jester in a dream sequence, which actually became the basis for Harley Quinn.
14. Green Day
At one point, Harley got her gloved hands on Hal Jordan’s ring and used to it become an iteration of The Green Lantern herself.
13. Rocket Love
At one point, The Joker developed “real” and “mushy” feelings for Quinn. Unable to cope with the least bit of vulnerability, he tricked his partner in love and crime into a rocket and launched her into space. (Obviously, she survived).
12. A Dastardly Dissertation
Before she ventured into super-villainy, Harley was a graduate student. Her proposed doctoral thesis was about how people only violate societal rules for crime or for love. We’re not sure about her methodology, but Harley’s research sure did foreshadow her post-doctoral career with The Joker.
11. The Motley Crew
Harley Quinn has her own set of henchmen called “The Quinntets.” In one story arc, she temporarily dies and goes to Hell, where she meets up with her crew, who have landed there too.
10. Forget Filial Duty
In Gotham City Sirens, Quinn tells her imprisoned con-artist father that she studied psychiatry to understand why he would put the family through so much.
9. Grandma Harley
In one alternate story arc, Harley has twin granddaughters named Delia and Deidre Dennis, who go under the joint alias of “Dee Dee.” Despite Quinn’s efforts, they too started a life of clown crime.
8. BF Troubles: The Prequel
As a psychiatry undergrad, Harley Quinn (then Harleen Quinzel) dated a boy in her program named Guy Kopski. In a convoluted plot that begins with a botched senior thesis but ends in blackmail and murder (as many senior dissertations do), Quinzel accidentally shoots her department chair, and Kopski finishes off (who he thought was) the man to protect his girlfriend. Kopski then kills himself, and it’s later revealed that his irrational behavior was a result of him drinking diluted Joker venom.
7. Ready, Set, Skate
In addition to gymnastics, psychiatry, and supervillany, Quinn is also accomplished in the art of roller derby skating. The comic version of Harley once needed a job, so naturally she applied her affinity for contact violence to a side-career in the roller derby track.
6. More Than a One-Episode Stand
We’ve learned that Harley Quinn made her debut on Batman: The Animated Series, but amazingly she was only meant to be a cameo. The creators simply needed a female henchman to jump out of a cake for one gag in one episode. However, fans took to this femme version of the Joker, the creators gave audiences what they wanted, and jester-suited star was born.
5. The Pallid Princess
Contrary to the DC New 52 reboot, Harley Quinn’s skin was not always bone-white by default. In her original run in Batman: The Animated Series, as well as her early comic appearances, Quinn had a normal skin tone, over which she applied heavy make-up. Now it’s generally accepted that The Joker pushed her into acid, bleaching her skin (and her sanity).
4. Bad Timing
In 2013, DC Comics held an ill-conceived sweepstakes, which invited amateur artists to show their stuff…by drawing Harley Quinn in naked in a bathtub with appliances dangling just above the water, ready to commit suicide. Did I mention this contest was announced close to National Suicide Prevention Week? Of course, DC Comics issued a formal apology, and Harley’s reputation emerged unscathed.
3. Maybe Baby
The Batman: Arkham City video game drops a rather depressing Easter Egg, which alludes to Harley being pregnant with the Joker’s child. In the Steel Mill, you’ll find a crib set-up with a painting of Joker as Scarface. You’ll also find a positive pregnancy test nearby. With no baby every to be found, none of this is a good sign.
2. All in the “Family”
One of the most twisted versions of Harley Quinn appeared in the animated miniseries Justice League: Gods and Monsters. This version was simply called Harlequin, and was a demented serial killer who liked to keep the body parts of her victims in a warehouse, calling them her “family.”
1. Mass Murder
Though people often see Harley Quinn as a psychotic, but generally silly and playful villain, she has done some truly dark and disturbing things in the comics. Once, she handed out bombs disguised as video games to children all across Gotham. For the entire comic the reader is left hoping that she’ll do the right thing, but in the end Quinn detonates the bombs, killing hundreds of children across the city.