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 the underworld, this jaunty-cap jester has proven to be more than a pretty, pasty clown face. Hold onto your sledgehammers and brace yourself for these devilishly fun facts about Harley Quinn.
Harley Quinn Facts
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 boots, 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.
2. Art Imitates Life
The Joker and Harley Quinn’s relationship is so disturbing, it almost seems too gruesome to be true—but it actually has roots in reality. Bruce Timm, one of Harley Quinn’s co-creators, admitted he drew inspiration for Harley and the Joker’s fling from an old female friend’s “stormy but nonviolent relationship.”
3. Rated R for Rebel
Hot off the success of her run as Harley Quinn, Margot Robbie was actually the one who got Harley’s upcoming Birds of Prey film off the ground. Robbie pitched it to DC and Warner Bros. as a female-led action film—but more than that, she also demanded that they make it as R-rated as possible so it couldn’t be dismissed as simply a “chick flick.”
4. It’s Doctor Quinn to You!
Even though she tends to play up her bimbo, unhinged persona, Harley Quinn holds a PhD in Psychiatry from Gotham City University.
5. Rocket Love
During one comic arc, the Joker developed “real” and “mushy” feelings for Quinn. Well then, happily ever after, right? Wrong. Unable to cope with the least bit of vulnerability or love, the Joker responded by tricking his partner into a rocket and launching her into space. Obviously, Harley survived, but she was traumatized for life.
6. A Meteoric Rise
There’s something about Harley Quinn that’s different from most other DC characters. She didn’t make her appearance in the comics. Instead, she debuted on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992. As a testament to her instant appeal, Quinn made her comic book entrance in The Batman Adventures #12 just a year later.
7. Lego My Harley
Saturday Night Live and Bob’s Burgers alumna Jenny Slate voiced Harley Quinn in The Lego Batman Movie.
8. No Laughing Matter
In the upcoming Birds of Prey film, word is that Harley ends up adopting a pet hyena, which is a natural choice since hyenas are known for their laugh-like sounds. This is also true to Harley’s character in the comic books: In the comics, the Joker—and by extension Harley—owns two hyenas named Bud and Lou, after the classic comedians Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
9. Room to Breathe
Margot Robbie broke out as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, but the actress wasn’t always happy with her part. According to Robbie, her costume was deeply uncomfortable—so uncomfortable that when she started making Birds of Prey, she demanded that they remake the costume to be a little roomier and easier to walk around in.
10. Call Me by Your Clown Name
Her birth name name is Harleen Frances Quinzel, and her evil epithet is clearly a play on the word “harlequin.”
11. She Wears Her Heritage on Her (Black and Red) Sleeves
Harley is Jewish, and has frequent exclamations of Yiddish phrases such as “plotz.”
12. 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 our jester-suited star was born.
Harley Quinn is always struggling with two sides of her personality: The maniacal, Joker-loving side, and her softer, better side. Throughout the Batman series, Harley has switched from bad to good and back again more times than we can count. In one of her “good girl” phases, she even teams up with fellow anti-heroine Catwoman to keep bad guys off the streets of Gotham.
14. Ditching the Cap and 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. Frankly, we don’t mind the change at all!
15. Bad Timing
In 2013, DC Comics held an ill-conceived sweepstakes, which invited amateur artists to show their stuff…by drawing Harley Quinn 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.
16. I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends
After playing her in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie absolutely refused to play Harley Quinn in a standalone movie. It might seem like a bizarre choice, but her reasoning is actually ingenious. “Harley needs friends,” she told the studio. “Harley loves interacting with people, so don’t ever make her do a standalone film.”
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 lifestyle, and a father who is in prison himself.
To fully embody Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie did almost all of her own stunts, including the scene where Robbie/Harley 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 even a harness. Now that’s what I call impressive.
19. 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. For a little bit, it’s a match made in Gotham heaven, but it doesn’t last long. Eventually, the lifestyle proves incompatible with Harley’s true mischievous nature, and she ditches the gig to go back to loving the Joker.
20. Sharing the Love
Harley has also dated both Deadshot and Poison Ivy, which shows there’s love after life with the Joker.
21. Material Girl
In the late 90s, Joel Schumacher had plans to direct a third Batman movie, and Harley Quinn would have played a huge part in his magnum opus. 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.
22. 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. There was just one problem. Her subsequent inclusion in Suicide Squad meant they had to leave the bell cap on the cutting room floor.
23. 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 canceled after just 13 episodes. However, the short-lived series did feature Mia Sara as Quinn in a series arc, playing the mild-mannered psychiatrist Dr. Quinzel.
24. Alternate Pairings
In Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, there’s an Earth-Two version of the Joker and Harley, but they’re not dating or romantically involved in this alternate universe. Thank goodness for that: In that reality, the Joker is called “The Jester” while “Harley” is the name of….drumroll please….his pet monkey. Um, what?
25. Winning Over Wayne
Even Batman himself has a soft spot for Harley. In once storyline, Harley is close to getting parole and breaking free of Arkham Asylum. While Bruce Wayne at first blocks her from becoming a free woman, Quinn later helps Batman out of a bind, which spurs on a change of heart, and Wayne grants her the parole after all.
26. Can’t Touch This
Harley Quinn’s destructive mallet may have become an icon of her villainy, but Harley’s not just a smash-and-grab girl. Few people realize she actually has superpowers. Thanks to a friendly treatment from Poison Ivy, Quinn is immune to most types of toxins, including Ivy’s own touch. She also has super-human strength and agility.
27. Once Upon a Soap Dream
Before voicing Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, actress Arleen Sorkin starred in the soap opera Days of Our Lives. Although this seems like a random fact, it’s extremely significant. In one episode of Lives, Sorkin appeared as a jester in a dream sequence, which actually became the basis for Harley Quinn.
28. Green Day
“In brightest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight.” It’s the oath of Green Lantern, and it’s pretty much the polar opposite of Harley’s personality. Which made it super awkward when Harley once got her little gloved hands on Hal Jordan’s ring and used it to become an iteration of The Green Lantern herself. Spoiler: She didn’t keep the gig.
29. A Dastardly Dissertation
As we noted above, Harley was working on her PhD before she ventured into super-villainy,. Her proposed doctoral thesis was about how people only violate societal rules for evil-doing or for love. We’re not sure about her methodology, but Harley’s research sure did foreshadow her post-doctoral career with the Joker.
30. The Motley Crew
Devoted followers aren’t exclusive to the Joker. In fact, Harley Quinn has her own set of henchmen called “The Quinntets,” who dress up in clown suits just like their fearless female leader. In one story arc, Quinn temporarily dies and goes to a fiery afterlife, where she meets up with her crew, who have landed there too.
31. One Smart Cookie
Harley Quinn is actually very intelligent, and one DC character even called her a “genius.” I mean, what do you expect? The girl has a PhD.
32. In the Ringer
Batman: White Knight follows the Joker’s attempts to reform himself as “Jack Napier.” Incredibly, this try at redemption featured Jack/the Joker apologizing to Quinn for his treatment of her, getting down on one knee, and proposing. Harley’s response is unforgettable. For his efforts, Harley promptly laughed and kicked him in the gut.
33. BF Troubles: The Prequel
Turns out that Harley has a thing for unhinged bad boys. As a psychiatry undergrad, she dated a boy in her program named Guy Kopski. In a convoluted plot that begins with a botched senior thesis but ends in blackmail, Quinzel accidentally shoots her department chair, and Kopski finishes off the man to protect his girlfriend.
Kopski then ends his own life, and it’s later revealed that his irrational behavior was a result of him drinking diluted Joker venom.
34. Ready, Set, Skate
In addition to gymnastics, psychiatry, and supervillany (of course), 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 fighting to a side-career in the roller derby track. Though she uses the skill mostly for evil, we can’t say it doesn’t suit her.
35. That Time of the Month
Due to Harley’s continued success as a bestselling property, DC Entertainment declared February 2015 to be “Harley Quinn Month.”
36. 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.
37. Changing Her Tune
In one of the stranger re-imaginings of the character, Harley Quinn is a member of a popular folk music duo alongside Poison Ivy. Hold on to your hats, though: It gets even stranger. Harley and Ivy’s manager is none other than Batman super-villain Lex Luthor, who typically wants to reap in the profits of their fame and fortune.
38. 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.
39. 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.
40. Beauty, Brains & Brawn
Explaining her acrobatic skills, Harley Quinn attended Gotham City University on a gymnastics scholarship.
41. A Flame for the Batman
A 2015 Valentine’s Day special suggests that Harley eventually developed a softer spot for Bruce Wayne.
42. Companions and Co-Creators
Paul Dini, another one of Harley’s co-creators, has been friends with Harley Quinn’s Batman: The Animated Series voice actress, Arleen Sorkin, since the two were in college. Obviously, from her soap opera experiences even down to her first name, Arleen has been a big influence on “Harleen Quinzel” AKA Harley Quinn.
43. 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?
44. 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 parts of her victims in a warehouse, calling them her “family.” Ok, backing away slowly from this one…
45. Don’t Mess With Her
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 explosives 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 really does detonate the mechanisms.
46. 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. Eventually, though, creators gave Quinn a gruesome origin story that changed everything…
47. Acid Reign
Today, we know that Harley’s natural pale white skin comes from a horrifically disturbing act. At the very beginning of their relationship, the Joker cruelly persuaded Harley to jump into a vat of acid. Though she somehow survived, the ordeal bleached her skin as well as her sanity. After this trauma, Harley was never really the same again.
48. 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 in Gotham’s dark underbelly.
49. Maybe Baby
The beloved Batman: Arkham City video game drops a very disturbing Easter Egg that 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 anywhere to be found, none of this is a good sign.
50. A Better Life
Lots of people forget about this, but one comic storyline reveals that the Joker and Harley Quinn actually did end up having a child together, a daughter named Lucy Quinzel. Unsurprisingly, the couple are bad at parenting. When Harley finds out she’s pregnant, she leaves the Joker for a year and has Lucy in secret, knowing that Joker would never want a child. Once Lucy is born, Harley gives her up for adoption—and goes right back to her beau.