10 Things You Didn't Know About The Joker & Harley Quinn's Relationship One of the most dysfunctional but also most popular couples in comics history, Joker & Harley”s relationship has more to it than people realize.
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The Joker and Harley Quinn”s relationship is pretty infamous and controversial. Joker has been abusive and a terrible boyfriend to Harley. She has been violent back, but it”s not the same thing, considering that he started the abuse and repeatedly committed it, leading to her repressed emotions about him and what he did to her came back to the surface and causing her to justifiably retaliate.
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She deserved better, and Joker didn”t deserve her at all. However, she did open a new dimension for him (including him coming as close as he”s ever gotten to actually caring about another person), as well as her getting her own lessons out of that relationship. The pair made for one of the most dysfunctional, popular, fascinating, and controversial couples in comics history, and there is so much involved in their relationship that it”s hard to know all there is to know about it.
In multiple comics, such as “Batman: Harley Quinn (1999),” Joker hints at confused old memories. In “The Killing Joke,” an explanatory backstory about it is offered with his ex-wife before he became the Joker that resurfaces when Harley”s around.
Jeannie”s (presumably Joker”s/Jack”s first ex-wife) backstory isn”t widely used or confirmed in current or old canon stories, though The Killing Joke and Joker”s excursus about remembering how it feels like to be part of a couple again suggest that.
As fans can read in the introduction part of “Mad Love,” co-creators Paul Dini and Bruce Timm seemed to have a very specific inspiration and even reason for Harley”s character and story.
It”s in fact specified that two of them are a cautionary tale, a “what not to do” in real life, which was also inspired by the moving happenings of a friend of theirs. Of course, these are fictional characters, so they still enjoyed writing them as a couple; however, they meant to transmit something bigger through them.
In one of Batman: TAS“s best episodes and Harley”s earliest appearances, the Joker had managed to escape from Arkham Asylum while his most loyal sidekick remained locked up instead.
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Thus Joker hires a fake Harley to replace the old one, someone who perhaps won”t “bother” him as much. To his own surprise, however, this henchman wore off of him soon, as he sighed and complained about how he missed the old one that was actually better. Because of it, Harley beat him up in a police van as soon as Joker and his henchman failed to carry out their plan and got caught by Batman.
In the third issue of “Batman: Adventures,” the Joker comes back from the psychiatric facility of Arkham Asylum completely cure. He”s suddenly sane and unproblematic, willing to express affection and feelings like a normal person. However, Harley”s reaction is somewhat surprising: She almost kills him trying to get him to go insane again.
That might have been because of her internal issues, of course, and the fact that it would”ve disrupted their whole dynamicity: Harley being Joker”s psychiatrist. Harley”s need to “get the joke” and “make him laugh,” and the attractiveness she felt to his darkness, seemed to be the main reasons that she stayed since she refused to date a version of the man that was healed from these complexes. Their whole dynamic was about trying to solve his issues in order to get his attention, so what was even her role if someone else already cured him?
Many people want to reduce Joker to a unidimensional character, made just of a layer of hate and incapability to feel, instead of a complex person with multiple sides. That would be very belittling to his character, considering that if his psychology wasn”t more complex than that, he wouldn”t be so obsessed with Batman (and completely codependent on him).
Multiple times in multiples interviews, Paul Dini (Harley”s co-creator alongside Bruce Timm) stated how Joker sort of felt some affection for her, but that wouldn”t mean he was ever going to be a decent boyfriend. They remain an example of what not to do in a relationship. It”s understandable why they wanted to experiment with dynamicity and feelings within their relationship. It should help and be meant to make the characters more fascinating and unusual, and it also made Joker more open to relationships.
There is a misconception that Harleen Quinzel had always been an innocent angel with no real interest in criminality until Joker came in to play with her while she was the psychiatrist for Arkham Asylum. However, that”s a common mistake. In fact, as soon as she walked in and talked to Dr. Leland, she hinted at how fascinated she was by those criminals and how glamorous she found them, consequently moving her gaze on Joker as Leland told her to not even think about writing a tell-all book about him to make some money because she couldn”t handle it.
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Her initial, darker characteristics don”t make her deserving of what he did to her; this is just the context in which their meeting happened, which implied that she wasn”t weak or naïve but was instead coming from a messed up and unhealthy (mental and physical) place as well, making her a perfect target for a manipulator. That said, it doesn”t make her any less of a victim of the Joker”s mistreatment.
Who is the Joker more jealous of: His faithful sidekick, or the actual Batman? Sadly again, it seemed like the latter is the most correct answer. While they were dating, one of the most frustrating things for Harley was Joker”s obsession with Batman and his lifelong goal of playing and eventually killing him.
Thus, back in the original, classic stories that they have together, Joker abused her the most when he didn”t want Batman touched. Meanwhile, Harley would try to get his attention and attempt to kill Batman out of desperation, wanting to eliminate all that competition for Joker”s affection. This is a pretty unhealthy and common dynamic of theirs.
In the “Batman: Harley Quinn (1999)” Volume, Joker deliberately admits how Harley had managed to make feelings and long-lost emotions resurface, stating it as his motive as he captures and encloses her in a missile and plans to send her off to space to never see her again.
Perhaps because he thought she would”ve died with his plan, he confessed how she reminded him what it was like to be a couple and to care for someone, and that their times together were distracting him from taking over Gotham now that it was No Man”s Land. Thus, the only way he could repair the conflict created by his feelings for Harley was by killing her.
In B:TAS, once that Harley actually left the Joker and didn”t go back, as usual, she started seeing Poison Ivy and committing crimes with her as the new Queens Of Crime (one of the best parts of this animated series). Everyone knows Joker”s full of negative and toxic feelings and prospects, however, wouldn”t the Clown Prince Of Crime at least be confident of his own title?
Seems like not, as he freaked out as soon as he read the newspapers talking about Harley and talked down her “success.” This explains why Harley cared so much about going solo and occasionally trying to impress him despite having broken up, like in her recent animated series when she does all she can to affirm her criminal career and get into the Legion Of Doom mostly just to rub it in his face.
What are the main factors that made Harley stay? That she felt compassion for the Joker. Despite all the bad things he had done, she had to adopt her point of view considering that she was his psychiatrist. But Joker”s point of view is typically dark, at times even consisting of blatant lies, and overall just confusing.
However, she never doubted that he was a person like everyone else, and as soon as he gave her attention, that”s where her own personal issues (especially with her father) came in, playing a role and making her bond with someone she”d have to chase forever. She was used to a dysfunctional relationship and putting herself second to fix someone else. So she maintained her twisted “therapist” role in deciphering him, sacrificing herself to fix him, and trying to understand him.