October 12, 2023 | Christine Tran

Twisted Facts About Harley Quinn, The Gotham City Siren


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.


1. Make-Over

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. This ensemble, which mirrors Margot Robbie's attire in the Task Force X film, is heavily inclined towards its cheeky shorts and a snug "Daddy's Little Monster" t-shirt.

harley quinn

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".

Screenshot: Harley Quinn and The Joker are hugging - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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".

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing pink shirt and looking at side - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing black jacket and glasses - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Screenshot: The Joker (Jared Leto) with green hair wearing grey shirt - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Harley Quinn FactsFox Kids, Batman: The Animated Series

7. Lego My Harley

Saturday Night Live and Bob’s Burgers alumna Jenny Slate voiced Harley Quinn in The Lego Batman Movie.

Harley Quinn FactsMingle Media TV, CC BY-SA 2.0 , Wikimedia Commons

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is playing with hyena and smiling - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

9. Room to Breathe

Margot Robbie gained prominence for her role as Harley Quinn in the Squad movie, yet she wasn't consistently content with her character portrayal. 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.

Margot Robbie factsGetty Images

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".

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing black jacket and glasses - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

11. She Wears Her Heritage on Her (Black and Red) Sleeves

Harley is Jewish, and has frequent exclamations of Yiddish phrases such as “plotz".

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is reading a book - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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 FactsFox Kids, Batman: The Animated Series

13. Two-Faced

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.

Harley Quinn FactsWarner Bros. Animation, Batman: Hush

14. Ditching the Cap and Embracing the 'Do

You might note something missing in Harley’s later appearances: her signature jester cap. In the latest renditions of the Gotham City siren, the designers chose to swap her bell cap for large, blonde pigtails, evident in the Batman: Arkham Asylum game and the film about the Squad of Supervillains. Frankly, we don't mind the change at all!

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing white jacket,looking at side  - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

15. Bad Timing

In 2013, DC Comics hosted a highly criticized sweepstakes, asking amateur artists to illustrate a scene of Harley Quinn in a bathtub with appliances hang just above the water, implying a potential act of self-harm, all while undressed. Did I mention that the announcement of this contest was made near to the National Week for Prevention of Self-Harm? Of course, DC Comics issued a formal apology, and Harley’s reputation emerged unscathed.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) with pink and blue pigtails is looking at front - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

16. I Get by With a Little Help From My Friends

After playing her in film about the Squad of Supervillains, 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".

Margot Robbie factsGetty Images

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 uncovered that she has one (very lazy) brother, a mother who disapproves of her lifestyle, and a father who is currently serving time behind bars himself.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing red shirt is looking at side - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

18. Show-Off

To fully embody Harley Quinn in film about the Squad of Supervillains, 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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing t-shirt “Daddy’s Little Monster” - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment


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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) yelling behind bars in jail - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

20. Sharing the Love

Harley has also dated both Deadshot and Poison Ivy, which shows there’s love after life with the Joker.

Screenshot: Deadshot (Will Smith) wearing beige jacket is looking at side - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Madonna is looking at side and smiling - 2011David Shankbone, CC BY-SA 3.0 , Wikimedia Commons

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 film about the Squad of Supervillains meant they had to leave the bell cap on the cutting room floor.

Harley Quinn FactsWarner Bros., Arrow

23. Forgotten Beginnings

Sure, the film about the Squad of Supervillains 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.

Screenshot: Mia Sara (Harley Quinn) wearing red sweater - from Birds of Prey (2002/03)Warner Bros. Television, Birds of Prey (2002/03)

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?

Harley Quinn FactsWarner Bros., Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths

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.

The Dark Knight FactsGetty Images

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing red shirt is looking at side - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Harley Quinn FactsShutterstock

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is holding a bat and looking shocked - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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 centered around the idea that people only break societal norms driven by malicious intents or out of love. We’re not sure about her methodology, but Harley's research sure did foreshadow her post-doctoral career with the Joker.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is smiling to Joker - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Harley Quinn FactsFox Kids, Batman: The Animated Series

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is smiling - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing red lipstick and looking at camera - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is crying and looking at camera - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing shirt with her name and helmet - from Birds of Prey (2020)DC Entertainment, Birds of Prey (2020)

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".

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) holding big hammer in her hands - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is yelling and looking at other person with angry face - from The Suicide Squad (2021)Dc Entertainment

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) holding a bat and looing at camera - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) looking surprised - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Harley Quinn FactsGeorg Mir, CC BY-SA 4.0 , Wikimedia Commons


40. Beauty, Brains & Brawn

Explaining her acrobatic skills, Harley Quinn attended Gotham City University on a gymnastics scholarship.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is smiling - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

41. A Flame for the Batman

A 2015 Valentine’s Day special suggests that Harley eventually developed a softer spot for Bruce Wayne.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) with red lipstick - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Harley Quinn Factscarrie-nelson, Shutterstock

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?

Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) wearing red shirt looking down - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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 edition was simply named Harlequin, a disturbed individual with a penchant for collecting her victims' parts in a warehouse, referring to them as her "family". Ok, backing away slowly from this one...

Harley Quinn FactsWarner Bros., Justice League: Gods and Monsters


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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is pointing with finger - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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...

Harley Quinn FactsFox Kids, Batman: The Animated Series

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.Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in tank with acid - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment


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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) in supermarket - from The Suicide Squad (2021)Dc Entertainment

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.

Screenshot: Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie) is looking surprised - from Suicide Squad (2016)DC Entertainment

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.

Margot Robbie factsWikimedia Commons, Eva Rinaldi

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18


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