Harley Quinn, as she appears in the DC Animated Universe.
Harley Quinn first appeared in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor", 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 operaDays of Our Lives, appeared in a dream sequence on 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.
The 1994graphic novelMad 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 Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzell, M.D. as an Arkham Asylumpsychiatrist who falls for the Joker and becomes his accomplice and on-off sidekick. The story received wide praise and won the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Single Issue Comic of the Year. The New Batman Adventures series adapted Mad Love as the episode of the same name in 1999, making it the second "animated style" comic book adapted for the series. (The other was Holiday Knights.)
She becomes fascinated with the Joker while interning at Arkham, and volunteers to analyze him. She falls hopelessly in love nearly instantly with the Joker during their sessions, 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 Harleen insane, leading her to quit her psychiatrist job and don a jester costume to become Harley Quinn, the Joker's sidekick. She later becomes fast friends with Poison Ivy, who injects her with an antitoxin which gives her super-human strength, agility, and immunity to toxins.
She appeared in World's Finest: The Batman/Superman Movie as a rival and foil for Lex Luthor's assistant Mercy Graves; each takes an immediate dislike for the other, at one point fighting brutally with each other as Lex Luthor and the Joker have a business meeting. In the film's climax, Harley tied Graves as a human shield to a combat robot set to confront Superman and Batman, but Graves is rescued by the two heroes without suffering any harm (other than the damage Harley had inflicted on her beforehand).
The animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker takes place in the future, long after the events in Batman: The Animated Series. It includes a flashback scene with Harley falling down a deep pit during a battle with Batgirl. At the end of the movie, a pair of twin girls who model themselves on the Joker are released on bail to their grandmother, who angrily berates them—to which they answer: "Oh, shut up, Nana Harley!"
Comic book publication history
The character proved so popular that she was eventually added to the Batman comic book canon. She first appeared in Batman #570, "The Code" as part of the "No Man's Land" story, although she had already appeared in the ElseworldsBatman: Thrillkiller and Batman: Thrillkiller '62 in 1997. The comic book version of Quinn, like the comic book version of the Joker, is more dangerously violent and less humorously quirky than the animated series version. Despite her noticeably more violent demeanor, Harley does show mercy and compassion from time to time; she notably stops Poison Ivy from killing Batman, instead convincing her to leave the hero hanging bound and gagged from a large statue. Batman is later untied by Batgirl.
Quinn's DC Universe comic book origin, revealed in Batman: Harley Quinn (October 1999), is largely an adaptation of her animated origin from the Mad Love graphic novel.
A Harley Quinnongoing series was published monthly by DC Comics for 38 issues from 2001 to 2003. Creators who contributed to the title included Karl Kesel, Terry Dodson, A.J. Lieberman, and Mike Huddleston. The series dealt with her going solo, eventually starting a gang and then fleeing Gotham for the city of Metropolis with her friend Poison Ivy. Quinn dies, only to be resurrected and return to Gotham. The series ends with Harley turning herself in to Arkham Asylum, having finally understood that she needs help. We also learn in issue #8 of the comic that Harley had a relationship in college with fellow psychiatry major Guy Kopski whose suicide started her obsession with the Joker. Harley later appears in the Jeph Loeb series Hush. She is next seen in a Villains UnitedInfinite Crisis special, where she is one of the many villains who escape from Arkham (although she is knocked unconscious the moment she escapes).
Harley next appeared in Batman #663, in which she helps the Joker with a plan to kill all his former henchmen, unaware that the "punch line" to the scheme is her own death. Upon realizing this, she shoots him in the shoulder.
Harley resurfaces in Detective Comics #831, written by Paul Dini. Harley has spent the last year applying for parole, only to see her request systematically rejected by Bruce Wayne, the layman member of Arkham's medical commission. She is kidnapped by Peyton Riley, the new female Ventriloquist, who offers her a job; Harley turns the job down out of respect for the memory of Arnold Wesker, the original Ventriloquist, who attempted to cheer her up during her first week in Arkham while the Joker was still on the loose. She then helps Batman and Commissioner Gordon foil the impostor's plans. Although Riley escapes, Bruce Wayne is impressed with Harley's effort at redemption, and agrees with granting her parole.
In Birds of Prey #105, Harley Quinn is revealed as the sixth member of the Secret Six. In issue #108, upon hearing that Oracle has sent the Russian authorities footage of teammate Deadshot murdering the Six's employer as payback for double-crossing them, Harley asks, "Is it a bad time to say 'I quit'?", thus leaving the team.
In Countdown #43, Harley appears to have reformed and is shown to be residing in an Amazon-run women's shelter. Having abandoned her jester costume and clown make-up, she now only wears an Amazonian stola or chiton. She befriends the former Catwoman replacement Holly Robinson, and then succeeds in persuading her to join her at the shelter, where she is working as an assistant. They are both brought to Themiscyra by "Athena" (really Granny Goodness) and begin Amazon training. Holly and Harley then meet the real Athena, and encounter Mary Marvel. The group reveal Granny's deception, and Holly, Harley, and Mary follow her as she retreats to Apokolips. Mary finds the Olympian gods, whom Granny had been holding prisoner, and the group frees them. Harley is granted powers by Thalia as a reward. Upon returning to Earth, the powers vanish, and Harley and Holly return to Gotham City.
Harley Quinn joins forces with Poison Ivy and Catwoman in the series Gotham City Sirens. Having moved in with Pamela Isley at the Riddler's apartment, she meets up with Catwoman, who offers for the three of them to live and work together. A new villain who tried to take down Selina Kyle named Boneblaster breaks into the apartment, and the three of them have to move after they defeat him. Later, after a chance encounter with Hush, the Joker attempts to kill her, apparently out of jealousy. Quinn is rescued by Ivy and Catwoman, and it is later revealed that her attacker wasn't the real Joker, but one of his old henchmen impersonating him.
Gotham City Sirens #7 establishes that she was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, into a Jewish-Catholic family. Her father is a con artist who is still in jail. Her brother, Barry, is a slob with dreams of rock stardom, and her mother, Sharon, wants her to stop the "villain and hero stuff". It is stated that the reason why Harley chose to become a psychologist in the first place was to try and understand her own broken family.
On a certain instance Harley attempted to steal from Two-Face and the Riddler, but was caught and they were not happy. Later, Poison Ivy discovers Harley bound and gagged in a closet, and Ivy removes the gag and unties her.
Following a number of adventures with Catwoman and Ivy, Harley betrays them and breaks into Arkham with the goal of killing the Joker for abusing her as often as he did. However, Harley ultimately chooses to instead release Joker from his cell, and together the two orchestrate a violent takeover of the facility that results in most of the guards and staff members either being killed or taken hostage by the inmates. Harley and the Joker are eventually defeated by Batman and Catwoman, and Harley is last seen being wheeled away while bound in a straitjacket and muzzle. Shortly after this, Poison Ivy breaks into Harley's cell and attempts to kill her for her betrayal, but instead offers to free her if she helps kill Catwoman, who had left both of her fellow Sirens behind in Arkham. Harley agrees, and the two set out to trap Catwoman. During the ensuing fight, Catwoman says that she saw good in them and only wanted to help. Just as Batman is about to arrest them, Catwoman helps the two of them escape.
The New 52
Following DC's 2011 relaunch of all its titles, Harley Quinn's costume and appearance is fully revamped, with a more revealing costume, bleached skin and altered hair color (half-red and half-black, like the jester cap of her previous incarnation, rather than fully blonde), consistent with her new origin. After a falling out with the Joker, she goes into a murderous frenzy, directed towards people responsible for the Joker's imprisonment. Captured by Black Canary, she is forcibly inducted into the Suicide Squad by Amanda Waller. However, when she discovers that the Joker is rumored to be dead, it takes a further toll in her already addled mind, and betraying the Suicide Squad, she puts their safety and secrecy at risk by turning herself into the Gotham Police Department in a plot to gain access to the skinned face of the Joker. Her plan apparently pays off, and she manages to recover the face, though in a further psychotic episode, Harley captures and ties up Deadshot and places the skinned face of the Joker over Deadshot's face, so that she can carry on a "conversation" with her dead lover. Deadshot lures Harley in close, shooting and severely injuring her during the conversation. After the Joker returns to Gotham, he forces her to disguise herself in his old Red Hood costume and trick Batman into coming to the chemical plant where they first met. Batman then falls into a tank and demands Harley to tell him where Joker is. But she only replies, in tears, that he's not "her Joker" anymore.
On July 16, 2013, DC announced that a rebooted Harley Quinn comic book series would begin publication in November 2013.
On September 5, 2013, DC Comics announced a contest for fans and artists, "Break into comics with Harley Quinn!" Specifically, DC asked contestants to draw Harley in four different suicide scenarios. This contest drew controversy not only because it was announced close to National Suicide Prevention Week, but because some artists did not like the sexualized portrayal of Harley in the fourth scenario, in which Harley attempts suicide while naked in her bath tub (despite there being no visible nudity allowed or a request for intentional sexualization by DC).
Harley Quinn's first major appearance outside the Batman animated world was in the Elseworlds miniseries Thrillkiller. This version of Harley is a schoolgirl named Hayley Fitzpatrick who dresses up in order to help a female version of the Joker called Bianca Steeplechase. The relationship between this lesbian or bisexual Joker and Harley Quinn is short-lived but noticeably more egalitarian than its heterosexual counterpart in mainstream DC continuity. After Batgirl kills Bianca, Harley is shown killing her own family, intent on revenge in the final frames of the story.
In Batman '66, a version of Harley Quinn appears as Dr. Quinn, a psychiatric specialist at Arkham Asylum here called Arkham Institute for the Criminally Insane. She convinces Joker to cooperate with Batman and Robin in exchange for approving his comedy night proposal.
In 2002, a live-action television series called Birds of Prey, loosely based on the comic of the same name, included Harley Quinn as a psychotic psychiatrist and main villain. The character was portrayed by actress Mia Sara (replacing Sherilyn Fenn from an unaired pilot episode). The show aired only 13 episodes. In this show, she is portrayed as an older, far more calculating and sinister character than her bubbly comic and cartoon personas. Picking up where the Joker had left off, Harleen Quinzel used her day job as a therapist to achieve her savage purpose - to take control of the city of New Gotham. She also does not wear a costume, although she does wear an outfit that is reminiscent of her cartoon costume in the series finale "Devil's Eyes". In that episode, she used experimental technology to transfer metahumanmind control powers to herself. It is unknown about this version's relationship with the Joker, although she does make reference to him as "Mr. J." on a few occasions, laments his loss as Gotham's crime boss and hints at a past relationship reminiscent to that of the animated series. A criminal known as the Crawler addresses her as "the Joker's girlfriend" in the seventh episode "Split".
Harley Quinn makes an appearance on the Kids' WB series The Batman, voiced by Hynden Walch. In the episode "Two of a Kind" (written by her co-creator Paul Dini), this version of the character is at first the host of pop psychology television show "Heart To Heart With Harley". Harleen Quinzel claims to have obtained a degree in psychology from an online educational institution, and she gives off-the-cuff advice to her callers that usually hurts more than it helps, resulting in a lot of controversy in the media (which the Joker finds amusing as he admits to being a fan of her show). Her boss Jimmy Herbert becomes fed up with her irresponsible behavior and cancels the show on the air after she stages an ambush of Bruce Wayne by getting him on her show under a false promise to help him promote a charity-drive for crime victims. The Joker, seeing the episode and learning that it has led to Harley having an emotional breakdown, proceeds to take advantage of the situation by making her his partner. Harley rationalizes joining the Joker by telling herself that she will be able to get a tell-all from him that will restore her career, but then she ends up rampaging across Gotham city as the Joker's partner-in-crime. Eventually, Harley learns that the network is planning to share with the police a psychological profile of her by TV psychologist Dr. Elliot Blaine, so she plans to destroy the network as revenge for her firing, something which the Joker finds amusing, so he tags along with her. However, she is foiled by Batman, Robin, and Batgirl, and she is arrested after the Joker deserts her. She seemingly regrets taking up with him. However, once she has been taken into a police car, she sees that the Joker has left her an affectionate message, and instantly falls in love with him again. This incarnation wears a slightly different costume than the one she wears in Batman: The Animated Series as in this depiction, the black parts of the original are dark red, the headdress is larger than the original, the inverted diamond pattern on the shoulders and thighs is absent, her gloves are fingerless, and her mask conceals her eyes. She has a few short appearances in the episode "Rumor" and a slightly larger appearance in "The Metal Face of Comedy".
Harley Quinn appeared in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, voiced by Meghan Strange. This version is a henchwoman of Joker modeled after a 1920's flapper woman (shown in black-and-white) and does not sport her traditional costume. In the episode "Legends of the Dark Mite!" while Bat-Mite is giving a speech at the Comic-Con, there is a brief cameo of Paul Dini (Harley Quinn's creator ) dressed up as her. Harley Quinn appears alongside the Joker in "Emperor Joker!". Though she has a mutual crush on Bat-Mite, she ultimately proves to love the Joker more. Alongside virtually every other character that appeared during the show's three season run, Harley makes a cameo appearance in the series finale "Mitefall!". She is shown with the Joker at the show's wrap party and kicks Gagsworthy when he tries to approach the Joker.
Quinn makes a cameo appearance in the Arrow season two episode "Suicide Squad". Tara Strong reprises her voice role while Quinn is physically portrayed by Cassidy Alexa; credited as "Deranged Squad Female". The series star Stephen Amell revealed in an interview that she was originally set to appear in the season two finale episode "Unthinkable", but was cut due to time. The show's producer Andrew Kreisberg revealed that there are plans for Quinn's appearance in Film or TV.
In the pilot episode of Gotham, Fish Mooney has of group of female dancers at her nightclub wearing red and black outfits on stage called The Harlequin Dancers which may be a hint of Harley Quinn.
Prior to the release of Batman & Robin, Mark Protosevich was commissioned by Warner Bros. to write a script for a fifth Batman film titled Batman Triumphant to be directed by Joel Schumacher, with Harley Quinn and Scarecrow as the film's villains. Rumors spread that Harley was to be portrayed by Madonna. Protosevich wrote Harley as the Joker's daughter seeking revenge, not his lover and henchgirl. This change was made in order to keep some on-screen continuity with the 1989 film in which the Joker was killed by Batman, and rumors also circulated that Jack Nicholson might reprise his role in a nightmare sequence caused by the Scarecrow's fear toxin. Due to Batman & Robin's poor box office run, bad Internet buzz, and several negative reviews from critics, Triumphant was never made, and the film franchise went on hiatus for eight years until Batman Begins in 2005.
Harley Quinn appears in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, again voiced by Arleen Sorkin. During a flashback, the Joker kidnapped Robin for an experiment to convert the Boy Wonder into a surrogate son because Harley did not want to take any chances with pregnancy's common risks. She acts as the mother in Joker's family in a cruel parody of motherhood, affectionately referring to Robin as "Sweetie" during her appearance. She fights Batgirl while Batman chases the Joker and sends Robin to bring Harley her bazooka. As she is about to drop a rock on Batgirl she sees Robin waiting with the bazooka and catches it before Batgirl can intercept it. After firing off a few shots, Batgirl knocks the bazooka out of Harley's hand, causing it to fire at the pair when it hits the ground. The two fall off a cliff but Batgirl manages to grab a ledge and Harley, trying to save Quinn from falling. Unfortunately, Harley's sleeve rips and sends her plummeting down into the cliff, afterwards her body is never found and she is presumed dead. Despite having been apparently killed in the flashback sequence, she makes a cameo appearance as "Nana Harley" at the very end of the movie when she bails her two granddaughters Dee Dee out of jail 35 years later. Now elderly, she is apparently reformed and disappointed of her granddaughters' attempt of following her footsteps as criminals.
Hynden Walch reprised her role as Harley Quinn in Batman: Assault on Arkham. Harley Quinn is somehow kidnapped and forced to join The Suicide Squad, and must venture to Arkham Asylum on a mission to retrieve the Riddler for Amanda Waller. She has a one-night stand with Deadshot before helping The Joker escape and rejoining him, thus abandoning The Suicide Squad.
Harley Quinn appears in several video games based upon the animated series.
Harley Quinn played a major role in the game's storyline in Batman Vengeance, voiced by Arleen Sorkin. She first appears posing as "Mary Flynn" in a trap for Batman set by the Joker; she later does the Joker's dirty work after he fakes his death.
She appears in Lego Batman: The Videogame with her sound effects provided by Grey DeLisle. She appears as an enemy of Batman and a 1st deputy of the Joker. Harley Quinn in Lego Batman is a playable character and can be unlocked through the villain levels, and carries a pistol and her giant mallet. She can perform high jumps like most women in the game.
Arleen Sorkin reprises her role of Harley Quinn in Batman: Arkham Asylum, as the secondary antagonist of the game, here with a new costume based on a nurse uniform. She takes control of Arkham, allowing Joker to escape, releases Poison Ivy from her cell, and kidnaps Warden Quincy Sharp. After Batman rescues Sharp, he confronts her and locks her in a cell. She returns in the Scarecrow's final nightmare where she plays the new warden escorting Batman away. This has been to the date the last time Arleen Sorkin had voiced her iconic character.
Harley Quinn appears in the DC Universe Online video game, with Arleen Sorkin returning as her voice. Harley appears in the Joker´s Funhouse, where she will be seen being arrested by Robin if the player uses a villain character, or holding Robin hostage if the character is a hero, in which case the player will have to defeat her. She plays a minor role in T.O.Morrow´s hideout, as she has gone there with the Joker to pursue Morrow. Harley is the basic Legends PVP character, granted to Villains without having to spend Marks of Legend. If a player using Harley defeats an enemy player using Joker, the player will get a feat called Mad Love.
Harley Quinn appears in Batman: Arkham City, voiced by Tara Strong. She is shown wearing a biker-girl themed costume in this game, using a low-key version of her usual makeup, with heavy eyeshadow in lieu of her domino mask. This costume featured knee high wedge boots and a corset like top. She wears her hair in two pigtails on both sides of her head, which she has dip dyed red and black. She now has tattoos of the Joker on her upper right arm and on the left side of her waist. She is characterized as being dangerously unstable and incompetent; at one point early in the game, she may be overheard having a conversation that inadvertently reveals key details of the Joker's plans. She is alternately loathed and lusted after by the Joker's gang, who she treats as a group of dim-witted thugs. Harley had captured some doctors and police officers as hostages when Batman finds her in the clock tower. Harley manages to get away while the Joker's henchmen fight Batman who ends up defeating them and saving the hostages (only for them to be later captured by the Riddler). Batman later encounters Harley in the Sionis Steel Mill where she was with the Joker. She later steals the cure for the Joker's illness while Batman was fighting Mr. Freeze for it, but is gagged up by Talia al Ghul. When the Joker dies from his illness following Batman's fight with Clayface (who was masquerading as a healthier Joker), Quinn was with the Joker's henchmen when Batman brought his dead body out of the theater. After completing the game, the player can enter the Joker's office, where several negative pregnancy tests and a positive test can be found, hinting she may be pregnant with the Joker's child. In the ending credits of the new game plus mode, Harley is heard singing a version of the lullaby "Hush, Little Baby," promising that "Mama's gonna kill for you the whole damn world." Harley appears in "Harley Quinn's Revenge" expansion as the main antagonist, seeking revenge on Batman for the death of the Joker; her doctor noted Harley was "losing it big time" because the Joker was the only thing keeping Harley relatively sane. By this time, Harley has dyed her hair completely black and wears almost all black, with a "J" necklace and mourning veil. After escaping from a temporary holding area following the destruction of Arkham City, Harley transforms the Steel Mill (the Joker's former base of operations) into a gigantic memorial of him. She is later beaten by the duo of Batman and Robin and taken into custody by the GCPD. Included as an easter egg in the manager's office of the Steel Mill, there is a crib with Scarface painted as the Joker inside, surrounded by dozens of negative pregnancy tests accompanied by a single positive pregnancy test, which indicates that she had a miscarriage or after several failed attempts she finally got pregnant just before the Joker died.
Harley Quinn appears in Batman: Arkham City Lockdown, where she kidnaps a reporter to use as a hostage to free the Joker. After luring Batman into a trap, she tries to execute the bound and gagged reporter, but is stopped by one of Batman's batarangs. She is once again voiced by Tara Strong.
Harley Quinn appears as a playable fighter in Injustice: Gods Among Us voiced again by Tara Strong. In the universe depicted in the game, Quinn broke from Joker after he bombed Metropolis asking "What did I ever see in him?" (the comic tie-ins show that, along with the abuse she suffered, she realized that the Joker paid little attention to her, such as when she had a daughter from him and had to leave him for a year so the baby could have a normal upbringing; when she returned, she was dismayed to realize he did not even notice she was gone) Following this, Harley reformed and realized her "true destiny" of becoming a hero where she establishes the Joker Clan. She is part of Batman's faction of heroes, and reacts very negatively when the "Prime" Joker appears, pointing a loaded gun at him. The Joker still temporarily gains her trust, but she gets over it again once he threatens to kill her when she fails to defeat her Earth's version of Lex Luthor who, unknown to her at the time, is a fellow Insurgent posing as an ally of Superman. In her battle ending, she had gone to marry The Joker, but after he playfully smashed her face into a cake, years of abuse made Harley snap. Using the ceremonial knife she slit The Joker's throat, killing him. It's then stated she permanently became a patient at the Arkham Asylum, still wearing her wedding gown.
Harley Quinn introduced Martin Tremblay, president of Warner Brothers Interactive Entertainment, at the Nintendo Press Conference at E3 2012 where Batman Arkham City: Armored Edition was introduced for the Wii U.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel appears briefly in Batman: Arkham Origins before her transformation into Harley Quinn. She interviews Joker at Blackgate Prison and falls in love with him after he confesses his fascination with someone who he considers special to him (Batman). She is voiced again by Tara Strong.
While Dr. Harleen Quinzel never makes a physical appearance in Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate, she is referred to in the unlockable Detective Case titled "Doctor's Orders." According to the Detective Case, Quinzel's increasing obsession with the Joker is not going unnoticed by her fellow staff, who are beginning to worry that the Joker may be manipulating Quinzel. The Case also states that Quinzel has started referring to the Joker as "Mister J" in her personal journal with hearts drawn around his name, rather than "Patient ARK119805."
^Cowsill, Alan; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "2000s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 297. ISBN978-0-7566-6742-9. "Written by Karl Kesel and drawn by Terry Dodson, the double-sized first issue dealt with Harley's twisted relationship with the Joker."
^Game Informer magazine features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 93.
^Tara Strong (November 14, 2013). Infinite Crisis - Behind the Voice - Tara Strong as Harley Quinn (interwiev). YouTube. Retrieved 2014-03-05. "Why, hellllo Harley! What better way to welcome Harley Quinn to the pantheon of Infinite Crisis champions than by going behind the voice with Tara Strong. Find out what this fabulous, fan-favorite voice actor thinks of returning once again to the character she helped make famous."