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Harley Quinn is the alter ego of Harleen Frances Quinzel, a former psychiatrist and criminal. Beginning her career as a doctor in Arkham Asylum, she changed and became Joker's girlfriend and henchwoman. She loves the Joker despite being abused by him and will do anything for his approval. Harley is also a good friend of Poison Ivy.



Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a former psychiatrist whose life took a fundamental turn when she chose to intern at Arkham Asylum. Initially drawn to the "charm" of the patients, she was surprisingly interested by the Joker. During her sessions with Joker, he behaved as a misunderstood person who just wanted affection. This changed Quinzel's way of thinking and The Joker was able to manipulate it using his charismatic and flamboyant behavior. She broke The Joker out and became his criminal sidekick.

Criminal Career[]

Harley's first deed was to help the Joker in an attempt on James Gordon's life, by planting a bomb at his testimonial banquet. Her part of the plan was to deliver a massive cake to the ceremony dressed as a police officer. Batman defeated her after a short-lived bout.[1] After that, she became an accessory in practically all of the Joker's felonious schemes.

TLF 45 - Harley gets Bullock

Harley captures Bullock

These included the plan to copyright the "Joker Fish" and the subsequent murder attempts of a couple of Gotham public officials. She was responsible for dosing G. Carl Francis with a binary chemical that would kill him when exposed to the second part of the chemical. She would later capture Harvey Bullock when the detective found Joker's hideout. Harley and the rest of Joker's gang were stopped by Batman and subsequently arrested by the Police, but Joker was presumed dead, which made Harley mourn for her lost love.[2]

The Joker eventually returned and Harley resumed her role as his sidekick. On their next caper, they managed to capture Batman and placed him on a deadly trap. Catwoman appeared in time to save Batman, but she ended up captured by the Joker. The Clown of Crime instructed Harley to eliminate Catwoman the next night inside a cat food factory. Harley bound and gagged a furious Catwoman, lying her down on a conveyor belt of a cat food processing assembly line. Harley gleefully taunted her captive, who bucked desperately against her bonds, indignantly cussing into her gag. When Batman showed up, Harley tried to escape by turning on the conveyer belt and bolting, hoping to force Batman to choose between apprehending her or saving the bound and gagged Catwoman. Her plan, however, backfired when Batman simultaneously captures her and locates the the power switch to the machine.[3] Later, Harley played a vital part on Joker's plan to get revenge against Sidney Debris, as he had supposedly killed Batman. Sidney was arrested and Harley posed as his lawyer, taking him out of prison, but into the grasp of the Joker.[4]

After a failed robbery, Joker blamed Harley for the event and she was kicked out of the gang. In order to prove herself, Harley went as a solo act, but she met Poison Ivy, with whom she started a strong alliance and a successful crime spree. Their success drew the attention of both Batman and The Joker, who sought them in order to stop their crimes for their own personal reasons. However, neither of them could stop them and instead, they were captured by Officer Renée Montoya.[5] Afterwards, Harley was part of the mock trial that she and other inmates organized to eliminate Batman in Arkham, but she was defeated along with the rest of the criminals.

H&I 3

The Queens of Crime

While locked in Arkham, Harley was offered a pardon if she assisted Batman in capturing the Joker and stopping his plans of using a nuclear weapon. Harley agreed and although she indeed helped Batman, her methods caused Batman and Robin many troubles and she even tried to betray them in the end, by siding with the Joker. After learning that Joker's plan didn't include her, Harley helped Batman capture the Joker and even tried to eliminate him for the years of mistreatment, but in the end, they made up.[6]

Harley's Holiday 03 - Harley kisses Batman

Harley kisses a "nice guy"

After being pronounced as sane and rehabilitated by the doctors at Arkham, (and after saying hi to Scarecrow on the way out) Harley was paroled, but her overactive temperament and inexperience with the "real" world led to a load of misfortune that led to her inadvertently kidnapping Veronica Vreeland and being simultaneously followed by Batman, Gotham gangsters, and the U.S. Army. She was returned to Arkham yet again, though Batman was more compassionate to her this time, realizing how bad a day gone wrong could be.[7]

After Harley was returned to Arkham for violating her parole she served as a witness at a hearing for Lyle Bolton. She, Scarecrow, and Ventriloquist testify against Bolton and he is fired. [8]

In the New Batman Adventure series "Joker's Millions" Joker inherits a fortune from a rival gangster but when it's revealed that most of the money is fake, and that the Joker has already spent those few thousand who are real; Joker is in a no win no win dilemma: If he admits to being fooled he'll be the laughing stock of the underworld; if he doesn't get any ready cash soon he'll arrested for tax evasion. Joker goes on a crime spree and is arrested; the biggest suprize is in the end in a police van where he meets his partner Harley Quinn disguised as a policewoman who had just escaped from Arkham Asylum; Quinn is very angry with Joker who tried a substitute "Harley Quinn" in his crime spree and offscreen she is heard beating Joker up! {Feb 21, 1998]



Harley's relationship with Joker was perhaps one of the strangest in the series. At numerous times, she explained her feelings for him as sympathy for his abusive childhood, tender feelings based on their therapy sessions, or simply that he made her life fun, after a stressful career as a psychiatrist. Her devotion was inexplicable because Joker seemed to return her feelings not at all, and regularly insulted and abused her. Occasionally she would break away from him, but these moments of clarity never persisted very long, and but a moment's kindness from Joker was enough to bring her back. Yet at the same time, Joker found her a useful accomplice at times, and was often surprised by the depth of her devotion.

Poison Ivy[]

Harley & Ivy

Harley & Ivy

Harley had a constant on-again, off-again friendship with Poison Ivy, whom she operated well with. Poison Ivy has constantly had a soft spot for Harley, often declaring that Quinn has no need for the Joker. However, Harley never appeared to agree that Ivy was right, and would often fixate over him. This, along with her flaky character, would often cause Ivy great bother, but never to the point that she would separate from Harley.


Harley's emotional state to Batman were similarly conflicted. Most of the time, he was her enemy, which was natural given that he was Joker's enemy. Sometimes, she even blamed Batman for Joker's abusiveness toward her, feeling that Batman's interference was what kept them from living a "normal" life. Yet on one occasion, she recognized that Batman was one of the few people who didn't think she was hopelessly insane, and who had done his best to help her. Ironically, Harley was able to do the one thing Joker never could: Make Batman laugh.

Bud and Lou[]

Harley was the primary caretaker for Bud and Lou, the pair of hyenas the Joker owned, whom she affectionately referred to as her "babies".

Abilities and equipment[]

Harley Quinn possessed above-average agility and fighting skills. She was an Olympic-level gymnast and acrobat. Harley also carried a variety of clown-themed tools, though they seldom proved effective. One of her signature weapons is an oversized wooden mallet which she swings around with surprising skill despite its unwieldy appearance. Another weapon in her arsenal is an oversized revolver with a cork in the barrel. The cork usually contains ropes to tie people up or knockout gas.

Due to Harley's charisma and psychiatric training, she is also adept at psychologically manipulating others. Early in their partnership, Poison Ivy injected Harley with a toxin antidote, which rendered her immune to certain chemicals and diseases, and had the side effect of enhancing her strength and stamina, allowing her to survive normally lethal mishaps.


Harley Quinn Design

Video Games[]

Behind the Scenes[]

  • Harley Quinn was created for the episode "Joker's Favor" by writer Paul Dini and artist Bruce Timm. In that episode, she was essentially just a henchman to exposit his plan to, serving as a walk-on role to never be seen again past that episode. However, her look and upbeat personality proved so popular that she came back in future Joker episodes (and one focused on her specifically) before being transferred into the main comics canon.
    • The actual reason that Harley was created at all is also especially bizarre. The plot of "Joker's Favor" was to have several police officers 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 it anyway. Thus, they created a female sidekick for the Joker.
  • Arleen Sorkin was a friend of Paul Dini since college and was asked to do Harley's voice. She accepted because she thought that it would be fun since, back then, Harley was supposed to be a filler character just there for the sake of moving the plot along.
  • Harley's voice was inspired by actress, Judy Holliday.
    • Ironically, her first appearance doesn't exactly reflect this since, in "Joker's Favor", which her voice is much lower pitched and lacks the heavy "New York Cab Driver" accent. It actually more closely resembles Arleen Sorkin's real voice (presumably because the character was pretty meaningless as first conceived) but would later change into the higher pitched and more upbeat tone that she is known for.
  • Harley's look was inspired by both a traditional harlequin (which are usually clad in black and red) and Arleen Sorkin herself. In addition to both Sorkin and Harley being blondes, Sorkin (as her character Calliope Jones) appeared in the show Days of our Lives in the episode as a clown in a dream sequence which vaguely resembles Harley. Arleen showed a VHS tape of the episode to Dini and Timm and they went from there.


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  • Mark Hamill (who voiced the Joker) has noted that Arleen Sorkin gave her a lot of her personality and character. In the script written by Dini, she was pretty much a blank slate with no real personality (much like the usual interchangeable goons the villains of the show used). It was Sorkin that gave her the somewhat detached and upbeat but clingy personality which she is known for.
  • Harley claims that she is not a real blonde.[9] However, this could've been a joke or reference said in her typical manner.
  • During the episode The Man Who Killed Batman, Sorkin actually performed Harley's "Amazing Grace" on a kazoo herself. The producers gave her a kazoo and asked her to give it a try while recording the episode. They later said it was lucky they'd managed to do it in one take, because they were all helpless with laughter as soon as she'd finished.
  • Bud and Lou, her pet hyenas, first appeared in "The Man who Killed Batman." Their names are probably reference to American comedy duo Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.
  • Harley and Ivy and Harley's Holiday were Arleen's favorite episodes.