- This page is about the original comic book character. For other versions of the character, see The Joker (Disambiguation). For the 2019 film, see Joker (film).
- "All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day."
The Joker is a supervillain and the archenemy of Batman. He was first introduced in Batman #1 (Spring 1940) and has remained consistently popular. The Joker is a master criminal with a clown-like appearance, and is considered one of the most infamous criminals within Gotham City. Initially portrayed as a violent sociopath who murders people for his own amusement, the Joker later in the 1940s began to be written as a goofy trickster-thief. That characterization continued through the late-1950s and 1960s before the character became again depicted as a vicious, calculating, psychopathic killer. The Joker has been responsible for numerous tragedies in Batman's life, including the paralysis of Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle), and the murders of Jason Todd (the second Robin) and Jim Gordon's second wife Sarah Essen.
He was also ranked eighth on the Greatest Comic Book Character of All Time list, which was released by Empire (notably being the highest ranked villain character on the list), as well as being the fifth Greatest Comic Book Character Ever in Wizard Magazine's 200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of all Time list, once again being the highest ranked villain on the list. Wizard Magazine listed him the #1 villain of all time in 2006.
Interpretations of the Joker's appearance in other media include Cesar Romero's in the live-action Batman television series, Jack Nicholson's in the Tim Burton Batman film, and Mark Hamill's in Batman: The Animated Series, other DC Animated Universe shows and the Rocksteady Arkham games. As played by Nicholson, The Joker ranks #45 in the American Film Institute's list of the top 50 film villains of all time. In the 2008 film The Dark Knight the role was played by Heath Ledger, who won a posthumous Oscar for his performance. Cameron Monaghan played variations on the character in the television series Gotham, while Joaquin Phoenix played the role in the 2019 film Joker, which focuses on giving the character an origin story.
Originally conceived as an evil "court-jester" type, the character was initially rejected by studio writer Bill Finger as being "too clownish," but he later relayed the idea to Bob Kane. Kane, who started out as a gag artist, loved the concept and encouraged its production. Finger found a photograph of actor Conrad Veidt wearing make-up for the silent film The Man Who Laughs, and it was from this photograph that the Joker was modeled. This influence was referenced in the graphic novel Batman: The Man Who Laughs, a retelling of the first Joker story from 1940.
In his initial dozen or so appearances, starting with Batman #1 (1940), the Joker was a straightforward spree killer/mass murderer, with a bizarre appearance modeled after the symbol of the Joker known from playing cards. It is of note that in his second appearance he was actually slated to be killed off, with the final page detailing the villain accidentally stabbing himself, lying dead as Batman and Robin run off into the night. DC editor Whitney Ellsworth thought the Joker was too good a character to kill off, suggesting that he be spared. A hastily drawn panel, calculated to imply that the Joker was still alive, was subsequently added to the comic.
For the next several appearances, the Joker often escaped capture but suffered an apparent death (falling off a cliff, being caught in a burning building, etc.), from which his body was not recovered. In these first dozen adventures, the Joker killed close to three dozen people, impressive for a villain who didn't use giant robots, mutant monsters, or space lasers, as was the status quo between 1940 until around 1942. Ironically, the turning point came in "Joker Walks the Last Mile" (Detective Comics #64), when the Joker was actually executed in the electric chair only to be chemically revived by henchmen.
While the Joker was back, he was decidedly less deadly than previous engagements. At this point, the editors decided that only one-shot villains should commit murder, so as to not make Batman look impotent in his inability to punish such recurring foes as the Joker or the Penguin. As the Batman comics softened their tone, the Joker shifted towards a harmless, cackling nuisance. He quickly became the most popular villain and was used frequently during the Golden Age of Comic Books. The use of the character lessened somewhat by the late 1950s, and disappeared almost entirely when Julius Schwartz took over editorship of the Batman comics in 1964.
In 1973, the character was revived and profoundly revised in the Batman comic stories by Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams. Beginning in Batman #251, with the story "The Joker's Five Way Revenge", the Joker becomes a homicidal maniac who casually murders people on a whim, while enjoying battles of wits with Batman. This take on the character has taken prominence since. Steve Englehart, in his short but well-received run on the book, added elements deepening the severity of the Joker's insanity.
Joker even had his own nine-issue series from 1975 to 1976 in which he faces off against a variety of foes, both superheroes and supervillains. This was a major change as he was now the protagonist and in every issue, he was always apprehended and never killed anyone, due to writers telling series creator Dennis O'Neil to make these changes. However, the development of the Joker as a sociopath continued with the issues "A Death in the Family" (in which readers voted for the character to kill off Jason Todd) and The Killing Joke in 1988, redefining the character for DC's Modern Age after the company wide reboot following Crisis on Infinite Earths.
A major addition to the character was the introduction of the character Harley Quinn. Originally introduced in Batman: The Animated Series, Quinn is a clinical psychiatrist who falls hopelessly in love with the Joker in Arkham Asylum after he relays his tale of having an abusive father and a runaway mother, and now serves as his loyal, if daffy, sidekick, costumed in a skintight harlequin suit. Their relationship often resembles that of an abusive domestic relationship, with the Joker insulting, hurting, or even attempting to kill Quinn, who remains undaunted in her devotion. She was popular enough to be integrated into the comics in 1999 and a modified version of the character (less goofy, but still criminally insane and utterly committed to the Joker) was also featured on the short-lived live-action TV series Birds of Prey.
OriginThough many have been related, a definitive history of the Joker has never been established in the comics, and his true name has never been confirmed. Nobody knows who he truly is.
Detective Comics #168 (February 1951) revealed that he had been a criminal known as the Red Hood. In the story, the Red Hood was robbing the Monarch Playing Card factory and encountered Batman for the first time. He tried to escape from the Dark Knight by fleeing to the Ace Chemical Plant where he fell into a vat of chemicals. He survived but the chemicals had radically changed his body resulting in chalk-white skin, emerald green hair, and a bizarre ruby-red grin.
The most widely cited back-story can be seen in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke. It depicts him as originally being an engineer at a chemical plant who quit his job to pursue his dream of being a stand-up comedian, only to fail miserably. Desperate to support his pregnant wife, Jeannie, the man agrees to help two criminals break into the plant where he was formerly employed. In this version of the story, the Red Hood persona is given to the inside man of every job (thus it is never the same man twice); this makes the inside man appear to be the leader, allowing the two ring-leaders to escape. During the planning, police contact him and inform him that his wife and unborn child have died in a household accident.
Stricken with grief, he attempts to back out of the plan, but the criminals strong-arm him into keeping his promise. As soon as they enter the plant, however, they are immediately caught by security and a fatal shoot-out ensues, in which the two criminals are killed. As he tries to escape, he is confronted by Batman, who is investigating the disturbance. Terrified, the engineer leaps over a rail and plummets into a vat of chemicals. When he surfaces in the nearby reservoir, he removes the hood and sees his reflection: bleached chalk-white skin, ruby-red lips, and emerald green hair. These events, coupled with his other misfortunes that day, drive the engineer through the massive personality shift that results in the birth of the Joker.
The story "Push-back" (Batman: Gotham Knights # 50-55), supports part of this version of the Joker's origin story. In it, a witness (who coincidentally turns out to be Edward Nygma, a.k.a. The Riddler) recounts that the Joker's wife was kidnapped and murdered by the criminals in order to force the engineer into performing the crime. In this version, the Joker was called Jack.
The second arc of Batman Confidential (#7-12) re-imagines the Joker as a gifted criminal and abandons the Red Hood identity, also called Jack, who is nearly suicidal due to boredom with his "job". He talks to a waitress, Harleen Quinzel, who convinces him to find something to live for. Jack becomes obsessed with Batman after he breaks up one of his jobs, leading Jack to attract Batman's attention at a ball. Jack injures Lorna Shore (whom Bruce Wayne is dating), leading Batman to disfigure his face with a Batarang. Jack escapes and Batman gives Jack's information to mobsters, who torture Jack in a chemical plant. Jack kills several of his assailants after escaping, but falls into an empty vat as wild gunfire punctures the chemical tanks above him, and the resultant flood of antidepressant chemicals alters his appearance to that of a clown, completing his transformation into the Joker.
In flashbacks to Batman: Streets of Gotham, there was a boy known as Sonny who had gone over to Martha Kane's clinic at a foster home, who treated him kindly, and then ended up witnessing a horrific crime by some mobsters and got his jaw broken and infected with a laughing virus, with Kane's clinic saving him again. However, the mobsters proceed to firebomb her clinic and abduct Sonny as he was attempting to save Kane, and was repeatedly abused by the mobsters to such an extent that his already broken jaw was incorrectly aligned, with the mobster in question taunting him to "keep smiling" and stop frowning. It is heavily implied that "Sonny" would grow up to become the Joker.
No recounting of the Joker's origin has been definitive, however, as he has been portrayed as lying so often about his former life that he himself is confused as to what actually happened. As he says in The Killing Joke: "Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!"
From the Joker's first appearance in Batman #1, he has been willing (and eager) to wreak as much havoc as possible upon innocent people in order to claim the mantle of Gotham City's greatest criminal mastermind. Throughout his decades-long war with Batman, he has committed crimes both whimsical and inhumanly brutal, all with a logic and reasoning that, in Batman's words, "make sense to him alone."
In The Killing Joke, the Joker shoots Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl), paralyzing her below the waist. He kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and taunts him with photographs of what he has done to Barbara, in an attempt to prove that any man can have "one bad day" and become just like him, but fails to drive Gordon insane, despite giving him some serious trauma. Batman rescues Gordon and tries one final time to reach the Joker, offering to rehabilitate him. After a few moments of consideration, the Joker refuses, stating that it is "too late for that", but shows his appreciation by sharing a joke with Batman (which, surprisingly, receives an uncharacteristic laugh from the vigilante) and allowing himself to be taken back to Arkham.
The Joker also murdered Jason Todd, the second Robin, in the story "A Death in the Family." Jason Todd discovers that a woman who may be his birth mother is being blackmailed by the Joker. She betrays her son to keep from having her medical supply thefts exposed, leading to Jason's brutal beating by the Joker with a crowbar. The Joker locks Jason and his mother in the warehouse where the assault took place and blows it up just as Batman arrives. Readers could vote on whether they wanted Jason Todd to survive the blast. They voted for him to die, hence that Batman finds Jason's lifeless body. Jason's death has haunted him since and has intensified his obsession with his archenemy.
Psychiatrist Harleen Quinzel eventually ponders whether the Joker may in fact be faking insanity so as to avoid the death penalty. As she tries to treat the Joker, he recounts a tale of an absent father and runaway mother to gain her sympathy. Falling in love, she allows him to escape Arkham several times before she is eventually exposed. Driven over the edge with obsession, she becomes the criminal Harley Quinn and the Joker's closest sidekick.
In a company-wide crossover, "The Last Laugh," the Joker believes himself to be dying and plans one last historic crime spree, infecting the inmates of 'The Slab,' a prison for super criminals, with Joker venom to escape. With plans to infect the entire world, he sets the super-powered inmates loose to cause mass chaos in their "Jokerized" forms. Meanwhile, he tries to ensure his "legacy" by defacing statues in his image. The entire United States declares war on the Joker under the orders of President Lex Luthor; in response, Joker sends his minions to kill the President.
The heroes of the world try to fight off the rampaging villains, while Black Canary discovers that Joker's doctor modified his CAT scan to make it appear that he had a fatal tumor in an attempt to subdue him with the threat of death. Harley Quinn, angry at the Joker's attempt to get her pregnant without marrying her (to continue his legacy, through artificial insemination), helps the heroes create an antidote to the Joker poison and return the super villains to their normal state. Believing Robin (then Tim Drake) had been eaten by Killer Croc in the ensuing madness, Nightwing eventually catches up with the Joker and beats him to death (heart stopped). To keep Nightwing from having blood on his hands, Batman resuscitates the Joker with CPR.
During the events of the No Man's Land storyline, the Joker murders Sarah Essen Gordon, Commissioner Gordon's second wife, by shooting her in the head as she tries to protect the infants that he had kidnapped. He did not, however, take any pleasure in the act, shown frowning afterward rather than with his trademark grin. He surrenders to Batman, but continues to taunt James Gordon, provoking the commissioner to shoot him in the kneecap. After lamenting the fact he may never walk again, the Joker suddenly begins laughing manically as Gordon just avenged the fate of Barbara.
In "Emperor Joker", a multi-part story throughout the Superman titles, the Joker steals Mister Mxyzptlk's reality altering power, becoming a nigh-omnipotent being, and remaking the entire world into a twisted caricature, with everyone in it stuck in a loop, repeating the same patterns over and over. The conflict focuses on the fate of Batman in this world, with the Joker torturing and killing his adversary every day, only to bring him back to life and do it over and over again. Superman's powerful will allows him to fight off the Joker's influence enough to make contact with the weakened Mxyzptlk, who along with a less-powerful Spectre, encourages Superman to work out the Joker's weakness before reality is destroyed by the Joker's misuse of Mxyzptlk's power. As time runs out, Superman realizes that the Joker still is unwilling to erase Batman from existence, as the Joker totally defines himself by his opposition to the Dark Knight; if the Joker can't even willingly erase one man, how can he destroy the universe? The Joker's control shattered, Mxyzptlk and the Spectre manage to reconstruct reality from the moment the Joker disrupted everything, but Batman is left broken from experiencing multiple deaths. Superman has to steal Batman's memories so that he can go on, apparently transferring them to the Joker.
During the return of new villain Hush to Gotham City, The Riddler hires the Joker to save him, offering the Joker the name of the crooked cop who killed his wife all those years ago. However, the Joker's attempted revenge is cut short when Hush attacks with Prometheus, forcing the Joker to retreat. After Jason Todd returns to life and takes over his killer's old Red Hood identity during the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, Jason asserts that the Joker was not quite as crazy as he leads people to believe. Jason attempts to force Batman to shoot the Joker, angered at Batman's refusal to kill the Joker despite what he'd done. Batman refuses, however, driving Jason away with a well-aimed batarang instead. At the conclusion of Infinite Crisis the Joker kills Alexander Luthor, hero of the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and villain of Infinite Crisis.
In Batman #655, a captive shoots the Joker in the face. The Joker returns in Batman #663 after having undergone extensive facial surgery that has left him with a permanent smile and unable to speak coherently. While in intensive care at Arkham, he sends Harley Quinn to kill his former henchmen, having her use a more lethal version of Joker venom, in order to signal his "rebirth". The Joker has by now developed an immunity to this venom.
In Countdown #50, Jimmy Olsen interviews an incarcerated Joker about the murder of Duela Dent, who had called herself the Joker's Daughter. The Joker states that he never had any daughter, and expresses awareness of the Multiverse's existence and of shifts in reality. The Joker appears as he did before Batman #655.
The Joker is among the many villains transported to a remote jungle imprisonment planet where Psimon is elected as their leader. Joker gives up hope, thinking that he could never surpass Psimon in power, and sinks into a depression. Kid Karnival snaps him out of it and tells him about how he admires the Joker and how he wouldn't let anyone stand in his way, giving the Joker his confidence back to fight. When Psimon gives his speech, the Joker chucks a stone at the back of his head, stunning him. He then picks up a larger rock and pins Psimon to the ground, giving him a speech on his views on survival and beats him to death with the rock, destroying his brain in the process, proceeding to take command as chief. Lex Luthor questions his leadership and sends Iron Cross after the Joker with the intent of killing him. Iron Cross is killed by the Joker, upon which Splitshot attempts to kill him to avenge Iron Cross, but is eventually killed as well, being strangled by his own bow.
Following this, Lex Luthor takes half of the villains and leaves to form his own tribe. Later, Gorilla Grodd takes over the Joker's tribe and is told by Monsieur Mallah to ditch the humans and form a society together, which results in Gorilla Grodd killing Mallah by smashing the brain case over his head after being insulted. Grodd, heavily wounded, asks the Joker to help him, being kicked off a cliff and being put into a coma in response.
Later on, the Joker's camp invades Luthor's camp, resulting in an all-out brawl. It is then decided that the Joker and Lex Luthor should fight to the death. Luthor, despite having the upper hand for the first half of the fight, is beaten by the Joker. Nearing the end of their fight, the Parademons invade the planet. They decide to work together against the Parademons, managing to defeat the first wave, after which Gorilla Grodd recovers from his injuries, making an attempt at tearing the Joker's arm off in revenge. Another wave of Parademons invades, interrupting their fight. The Joker helps fight off the invasion, eventually running out of ammunition. He manages to trade guns with a gullible Parademon which he kills a moment later, taking its extra ammo and weapons, getting back in the fight to kill the rest of them. Eventually, after Lex Luthor uses elemental villains to power his teleportation machine, the Joker is able to escape from the planet, and the remaining Parademons are wiped out when Luthor rigs the machine to explode.
In the beginning of the Batman R.I.P. arc Batman visits the Joker in Arkham for information on the group known as the Black Glove. In response, the Joker nonchalantly deals him a "dead man's hand". During routine therapy, Joker is met by a spy for the Club of Villains who offers him a chance to join them in their crusade against Batman. He participates in their action, considering it a farce all along (knowing Batman will survive their attempts, which he spitefully reveals to them just when they think their plan has come to fruition). He tells them that he has spent many years trying to kill Batman and that it would only be a matter of time before he'd come back. Later Batman infiltrates the headquarters, and the Joker flees, casually murdering some Black Glove members before escaping in an ambulance. Joker drives through the Gotham bridge, plowing through police cars. The Joker then encounters Alfred Pennyworth and Damian Wayne in the Batmobile. Damian rams the Joker's ambulance with the Batmobile and sends him careening off the bridge (unaware that it is the Joker).
Gotham City Sirens and BeyondThe Joker soon returns as a member of Libra's Secret Society of Super Villains during Final Crisis. Meanwhile, his place in Gotham City was taken by his old henchman, Gaggy, during Gotham City Sirens.
During the events of the "Batman: Last Rites" story arc, the Joker is mentioned and shown several times in Batman's past experiences as his history is explored. He is also shown entering the funeral service for Batman in Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader? story.
When the real Joker returned to Gotham City, he began to pose as a British journalist/detective Oberon Sexton, a famous author of a book called "Masks of Evil". At the same time however, he operated as the mysterious Domino Killer, killing members of the Black Glove one by one. The Joker then became the target of a blackmail scheme from an organization called "El Penitente". Using a "secret" (probably knowledge of his true identity) as leverage, they tried to force him to murder Batman. The Joker (as Sexton) met Dick Grayson, the current Batman, later to discuss his alleged serial killer, believing that the killer was targeting members of the Black Glove and that Bruce Wayne would be next on the killer's list. Despite his blackmailer's demands, Joker watched Batman leave. For his failure to kill Batman "El Penitente" sent four assassins after him, but the villain escaped his pursuers by a rope out of the window.
He escaped to Wayne Manor, where he aided Damian Wayne against several assassins. Damian revealed that he knew Sexton was not really English, but was faking his accent. He asked Sexton if he was really Bruce Wayne. The Joker denied this, saying he was worried that Wayne was the target of a serial killer. However, he went on to hint to Damian that he was not really who he seems. Eventually, Dick Grayson figures it all out and confronts Oberon about all the domino killings really being a set routine of jokes. Oberon takes off his mask to reveal the Joker, grinning at his old foe.
After the Joker is arrested once more, he underestimates the current Robin (Damian Wayne), by trying to win the Boy Wonder's pity before the Clown Prince of Crime begins his attempts on killing the young hero. Instead, he receives a beating with a crowbar (mirroring Jason Todd's murder) from Robin, whom he realizes is a son of his old foe after noting the resemblance between the child and the original Batman. The officers at GCPD ignore the Clown Prince's pleas for help, as they think Robin can handle the villain easily, and seem to take pleasure in the Joker's suffering.
The Joker seems to attempt to retreat from Robin in fear, apparently completely under the Boy Wonder's mercy. The Joker then wrapped his handcuffs around Damien's neck, scratching Robin's cheek with the metal. Joker then smeared his own blood on Damien's face causing him to fall under the effects of the Joker Venom in Joker's blood. Damien collapse to the ground with a smile on his face while Joker snatches away the crowbar he had been victim to.
Going on to reveal that he has once again manipulated events toward his own ends and mocking Robin for going so far as to provide his own crowbar (another reference to the murder of Jason Todd). Appropriating Robin's utility belt, the Joker escapes to execute his attack on the Black Glove, unleashing his signature venom on an audience gathered under Professor Pyg (via tainted popcorn) and guiding Batman and his allies to a climactic confrontation. The Joker is seen in an undisclosed location, with Robin bound and gagged, and possessing what appears to be a nuclear weapon. Help arrives in the form of the original Batman (who just returned after the events of Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne), who aids his successor and his son in their battle against the Black Glove and the Clown Prince of Crime in Wayne Manor and the Batcave. The second Batman pursues and captures the Joker, while the original Dark Knight, Robin, and Alfred Pennyworth disarm the Clown Prince of Crime's weapon and defeat the remaining Black Glove members.
Joker is later re-incarcerated in Arkham Asylum, where he is bound by a straitjacket and a muzzle. He eventually sees his opportunity to escape when some correctional officers died due to becoming infected with Joker Venom by inadvertently touching his skin while escorting him to a psychologist. He is eventually pursued by Batman after Barbara-Kean Gordon was apparently attacked by the Joker and poisoned with Joker Venom. However, upon fighting and being defeated by the Dark Knight, Joker reveals that he had absolutely nothing to do with her predicament when warned to stay away from the Gordons, and reveals that it was actually James Gordon's son, James Gordon Jr., who did the deed.
The New 52
In "The New 52," the Joker is reintroduced as a homicidal killer being hunted by Gotham's police force in Detective Comics. His appearance in the relaunched DC universe has changed relatively little. After a skirmish with Batman, the Joker is caught and taken to Arkham Asylum. Dollmaker, a new villain, visits Joker. The two speak for a short time about their arranged meeting before the Dollmaker cuts the Joker's face off. (Detective Comics #1)
Afterwards, the Joker is assumed dead by virtually everyone except Batman, and hundreds of mourners have surrounded the GCPD building in a mock vigil, calling for the Joker's face and Batman's head. Soon afterwards Harley Quinn learns of her puddins 'death' and literally betrays the Suicide Squad, orchestrates a massive prison break in Belle Reve Penitentiary, deactivates her nanite bomb, and kidnaps two guards before hijacking a car and driving off to Gotham City to retrieve the Joker's face and avenge his death.
He later returns, having stuck his face back on with a belt as well as several staples, and proceeded to relive some of his crimes. This included trying to kidnap the mayor for a ransom similar to his first appearance, although this time he kills the mayor's staff instead. He then arranges a meeting for Batman at the chemical plant, where he states his motives: He's going to kill both his own allies and Batman's allies so they can only focus on each other and be the best villain and hero, respectively, they can be. He then abducts Alfred after apparently killing him with a hammer.
The Joker then confronted Harley Quinn and locked her in a dungeon full of skeletons with Harley Quinn outfits that resemble other incarnations of the character. It is unknown whether the Joker is lying to emotionally abuse Harley, or has in fact had many female accomplices before the current Harley.
The Joker goes on to confront other members of the Bat family individually, such as staging a wedding with Batgirl and capturing Robin, as well as the other members, presenting each with a silver tray with unknown contents, and flaunting a small book he has written that contains the secrets of the Bat family.
Later on, the Joker lures Batman to Arkham Asylum, in which Batman is invited to claim his "throne" which in reality is an electric chair. Joker has assembled a Royal Court consisting of The Penguin, the Riddler, Two-Face, and Arkham patients dressed in Superman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman outfits. The Joker himself takes the role of court jester. Batman is sent to sleep and awakens at a dinner table in a cave, with the other members of the Bat family bound and hooded around the table. The Joker presents the "meal", taking the bags off the heads of each of the Bat family, revealing them wrapped in bloody bandages. He has a Jokerized Alfred "serve" the family and reveal the contents under the silver platters; the face of every member. The Joker reveals the reason he removed his own face, which was to prove a point: no matter how deep you go, behind the Joker's face is more Joker, and he says the same for Batman, that behind his mask, he is the same person underneath. The Joker says no matter how deep you go with the other members of the family, you'll only find weaker people, nothing like the face they put on to the public. The Joker ends up having the entire room set on fire, however Batman releases the pipes above to douse the fire. The Joker, seeing his plan failing, flees, and Batman chases after him. The two-headed lion cub explodes whilst Batman is away, releasing Joker toxin and driving the members of the Bat family to fight amongst each other in madness.
The Joker attempts to attack Batman with an axe, Batman counters and the two begin to fight. The Joker almost falls off a waterfall, however Batman stops him, claiming that he wants to be responsible for whatever happens to the Joker. The two continue to fight, the Joker preparing to use a crowbar against Batman (a nod to how he killed Jason Todd), but is pinned to a wall. The Joker uses his acid flower to blind Batman temporarily, but Batman catches the Joker again. Batman starts to intimidate the Joker by saying how in the year the Joker was absent, Batman deduced who he was. The Joker becomes afraid, and uses his joy buzzer to electrocute Batman, and then dives off the waterfall, his face becoming detached and flying off as the Joker plummets to his apparent demise. Batman finds the small book the Joker was always bragging about, and checks its pages, only to find they are all blank.
Bruce is later seen caring for Alfred in Wayne Manor, whilst trying to arrange a meeting with the Bat family. However, none of them wish to turn up, showing the Joker's plan had worked, as now there was an awkwardness amongst the members. Bruce reveals to Alfred that he once visited the Joker in Arkham, as Bruce Wayne, and showed the Joker a joker card that had been mysteriously left in the Batcave. The Joker looked at Bruce, and at the card, and clearly identifies the situation, but shows no reaction, choosing to ignore it entirely. It is from this Bruce deduces that the Joker does not care who Batman is; he only cares for Batman, and that to acknowledge Batman's true identity would spoil the Joker's "fun". Bruce is later seen in the Batcave, with the Joker's profile on-screen, with "Identity Unknown" displayed, meaning Batman did not know who the Joker was. The computer reveals a new element in the Joker toxin, "hahnium" (Ha). "Ha" is displayed on the computer screen as Bruce sits in the darkness alone, and a fly (alluding to the Joker who had a fly infestation due to his rotting face) lands on the screen.
Following an attack by Scarecrow, Batman recovers in his new base of operations; a safehouse seized from the Court of Owls. Suddenly, Batman is attacked by Wonder Woman, who is determined to kill him. Batman instructs Alfred to enact plan "Fenrir", a powerful, robotic-armor designed by Batman to do battle with the entire Justice League, flanked by a gas attack that evacuates Gotham City's citizens from the area. He manages to subdue Wonder Woman, the Flash, and Aquaman, but he is then attacked by Superman and thrown into the Gotham Royal Theater. When Batman asks who has manipulated the League into killing Batman, Superman's mouth stretches into a wide-grin as he and the subdued league members begin to laugh.
Batman battles the merciless Superman, finally subduing him with Kryptonite-laced gum. The League is revealed to be infected with a more powerful strain of Joker toxin, customized to each individual. Batman visits the Joker's former cell at the abandoned Arkham Asylum, where he meets with Eric Border, an orderly at the new Arkham Manor. Border states that he has only tried to help the city and Batman since arriving there, but he sees now that Batman cannot be helped. Batman is locked in Joker's cell, while Border removes his makeup to reveal himself as The Joker, having been using muscle relaxants and drugs to mask his appearance while revealing the name "Eric Border" is a word play for "Eternal Jester" The Joker confesses he now finds Batman boring following their final encounter, and now intends to bring their relationship to a permanent end. Batman is incapacitated by a paralytic gas, as the Joker announces that he will be left helpless as his plan truly begins.
Batman eventually recovers from his paralysis to find that the Joker has released an incurable airborne pathogen throughout Gotham, transmitted by laughter, that makes the victim look like the Joker, and turns feelings of love into violent hatred, triggering mass chaos. Batman travels to Gotham Presbyterian hospital to research the first recorded infection, but finds an infected Joe Chill, and a recreation of the night Batman's parents died, revealing the Joker knows his identity. Meanwhile, James Gordon researches the hospital and finds images appearing to be the Joker, taken decades before the Joker's first encounter with Batman. The Joker attacks Gordon, who responds by shooting the Joker dead. While Gordon phones Batman to relay the news, the Joker rises up and incapacitates Gordon. As Batman screams for Gordon, the Joker picks up the phone and responds "Hello, Bruce".
Batman finds Gordon dying, with an axe lodged in his chest. Gordon is revealed to be infected, and he suddenly attacks Batman, but is subdued by Alfred's daughter, Julia. With Nightwing's aid, Batman deduces that the Joker is using a serum capable of healing him from fatal damage, and that the virus contains the serum's complete inverse. They also discover that Paul Dekker, a crazed genius in regenerative technologies, was released into Border's custody a year earlier. Batman confronts Dekker, who reveals that he was only able to develop the healing serum and virus using a rare, natural component found in the Joker's spine; Dekker believes the Joker is immortal. He injects himself with a serum given to him by the Joker, believing it will make him immortal, but it kills him. Julia informs Batman that a search has revealed images of the Joker tracing back through centuries of Gotham's history, and that if a cure to the virus is not found, the infected will die within 24 hours. Desperate, Batman turns to the Court of Owls for aid.
The Court refuses to aid Batman, but he confronts their Talon assassin Uriah Boone, who has survived since the beginning of Gotham, about the Joker's supposed immortality. Meanwhile, the Joker uses his regenerative abilities to survive the long swim into the Batcave and its defenses. Alfred attempts to subdue the villain, but the Joker chops off his hand before absconding with Batman's crime-fighting trophies. Joker then leads a parade through the city, leading floats bearing the trophies through the infected citizens. Batman rallies his family and several of his greatest foes to band together against the Joker to save the city they all share. Seeing their combined efforts, the Joker prepares for his "best trick of all".
Batman battles the Joker, but he and his allies are subdued by Joker's lethal gas. The Joker removes Batman's mask, revealing that Nightwing was pretending to be Batman as a distraction, while the real Batman searched the cave system beneath Gotham that the Joker would have traveled after falling off the cliff during the end of "Death of the Family". Batman finds a cave rigged with Joker's explosives and housing a pool of Dionesum, the healing fluid that grants Joker his regenerative abilities. The Joker confronts Batman and detonates the explosives. As the cave begins to collapse, he & Batman battle, gravely wounding each other. When the Joker attempts to stab a subdued Batman, he is pushed into the path of a falling stalactite which breaks his back. As he desperately tries to crawl to the Dioneusum to heal, he is restrained by Batman until the cave roof falls into the pool, destroying it. Resigned to their fate, Batman reveals that the Joker has failed, as Batman gave his allies small doses of Dionesum, to protect them from Joker's poison, while he has recovered a larger amount of the Dionesum to Julia to cure the citywide plague. The Joker & Batman lie on the floor as the cave collapses upon them. In the aftermath, Alfred refuses to have his hand reattached, asserting that he no longer has someone to tend to, while Dionesum recovered by Batman and given to Julia, allows the city to be cured of Joker's plague. Discussing Batman's final letter, Alfred asserts that the story of Batman would always end in tragedy, and that while Batman had the resources to be immortal and escape death as the Joker offered, he was determined to only live in the time he had. The note is shown, bearing only the word "Ha".
It is revealed that Bruce Wayne had been exposed to the Dionesium pool being restored to life with no memory of his previous life. While sitting on a park bench (with everything but being the Batman revealed to him by Alfred Pennyworth) he meets a stranger who smiles a lot (It is heavily implied that this is the Joker who has no real memory of who either of them was). While this is all going on Gotham in under siege by an onslaught created by a criminal known as Mister Bloom who Batman had faced before. Thanks to his is talk with the smiling stranger Bruce Wayne realizes he is Batman and forces Alfred Pennyworth to restore to use a machine Batman designed to turn a clone of him into the next Batman.
During the Darkseid War the restored Batman acquires the Mobius Chair and asks "What's the Joker's real name?" and the response causes him to say "No that is not possible." He later tells Hal that the chair told him there were three Jokers. During DC Universe - Rebirth #1 it is confirmed that there are at least two Jokers: one killing people in Civic City while the other was in transit between Baltimore and Arkham Asylum. "From the looks of the artwork, it appears that the three Jokers include the original Jerry Robinson Joker; the Brian Bolland Killing Joke Joker; and the Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo "New 52"
During the build-up to Dark Nights Metal, the Snyder/Capullo Joker was captured by Batman and imprisoned within the Batcave. During an investigation into Batman's activities, Hal Jordan and Duke Thomas discovered and accidently released him, leading to a brief fight between the trio. Joker revealed that Batman was investigating metals, specifically Dionesium and Nth Metal, and he needed to be stopped before it was too late. He escaped shortlay before Batman could arrive. During the final battle with the Dark Knights, Joker appeared to help Batman fight The Batman Who Laughs.
Powers and Abilities
The Joker commits crimes with countless "comedic" weapons (such as razor-sharp playing cards, acid flowers, cyanide pies and lethal electric joy buzzers) and Joker Venom, also called "Happy Gas" by the Joker, a deadly poison that infects his victims with a ghoulish rictus grin as they die while laughing uncontrollably. This venom comes in many forms, from gas to darts to liquid poison, and has been his primary calling card from his first appearance till the present; he is immune to it. He even created his own utility belt to contain all his weapons.
The Joker is also very skilled in the fields of chemistry, genetics, and nuclear engineering. In a miniseries featuring Tim Drake, the third Robin, he kidnaps a computer genius, admitting that he doesn't know much about computers. In future issues, he is shown as very computer literate, presumably meaning that he researched the subject.
The Joker has moderate skill in hand to hand combat. Over the years it has been shown that although Batman is stronger, the Joker is faster and more agile. The Joker has been known to be able to hold his own in hand-to-hand combat against Batman, however every time he is subdued by Batman, it is through physical force. However, the Joker has proven to be very skilled in the area of martial arts as well, this being proven when beating Batman once in a fight without "cheating". However, this skill in fighting can also be questioned, due to different artists having different interpretations of the Joker. In some cases, he is so weak, that Batman can take him down with a single punch, whilst in other cases, he has proven to be more than a match for the Dark Knight.
The Joker has cheated death numerous times, even in seemingly inescapable and lethal situations. Though he has been seen caught in explosions, been shot repeatedly, dropped from heights, electrocuted, etc., the Joker always manages to return fully alive and unscathed to wreak havoc again.
Basically, the Joker's most powerful weapon is his mind and he is a cunning and manipulative intellect.
Over several decades there have been a variety of depictions and possibilities regarding the Joker's apparent insanity, of which the following are a sampling:
Grant Morrison's graphic novel Arkham Asylum suggests that the Joker's mental state is in fact a previously unprecedented form of "super-sanity," a form of ultra-sensory perception. It also suggests that he has no true personality of his own, that on any given day he can be a harmless clown or a vicious killer, depending on which would benefit him the most (thus explaining the two very different interpretations of the character that have developed over the decades; see below).
Later, during the Knightfall saga, after Scarecrow and the Joker team up and kidnap the mayor of Gotham City, Scarecrow turns on the Joker and uses his fear gas to see what Joker is afraid of. To Scarecrow's surprise, the gas has no effect on Joker, who in turn beats him with a chair.
In Morrison's JLA title, the Martian Manhunter rewires his own brain in order to think like the Joker, and later briefly rewires the Joker's brain to create momentary "sanity". In those few moments, the Joker seems to regret his various murders and wishes to reevaluate his life. He is returned to his usual self soon afterward.
Various DC Comics Who's Who publications state that due to his level of insanity, at times the Joker manifests a degree of superhuman strength. In an alternate depiction of the Joker called Elseworlds: Distant Fires, the Joker is rendered sane by a nuclear war that deprives all super beings of their powers. In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #145, the Joker became sane when Batman put him in one of Ra's al Ghul's Lazarus Pits after being shot, a reversal of the insanity which may come after experiencing such rejuvenation. However, the sanity, like the more commonplace insanity, was only temporary, and soon the Joker was back to his normal self. It is to be noted that during the brief moments of sanity, the Joker expressed regret for all the crimes that he had committed and begged for forgiveness.
The character is sometimes portrayed as having a heightened sense of self-awareness that other characters do not, such as being aware of being in a comic book. This fourth wall awareness also seems to carry over to Batman: The Animated Series. The Joker is the only character to talk directly into the "camera" (such as in Joker's Wild, where he says "Don't try this at home, kids!" before lassoing a passing truck and using it to swing him over the fence of Arkham Asylum), and can be heard whistling his own theme music in the episode adaptation of the comic Mad Love. In the Marvel vs DC crossover, he also demonstrates knowledge of the first Batman/Spider-Man crossover even though that story's events did not occur in the canonical history of either the Marvel or DC universe. The only one who should be aware of such events is Access who fixed these errors in dimensional overlap.
From the media, to the films and his relationship with the Dark Knight, the Joker's personality could be the obvious. The Joker is a homicidal, psychopathic, ruthless, sadistic, maniacal, lunatic, manipulative, intelligent and diabolical master criminal who wants nothing but chaos and anarchy wherever he goes, as well as reveling in the suffering of others. In most speaking roles, the Joker is often given a high-pitched, comical, bouncy, silly, and over-the-top voice that occasionally stoops down to a slight growl, in accordance to his clown-like appearance and maniacal personality, with the only known exceptions being his appearances in Under the Red Hood and the Tim Burton Batman film, both of which give him a comparatively deeper, though still humorous voice. In several sources, Joker's infamous brutality and insane nature was such that the Gotham criminal element feared him far more than even Batman himself, citing that while Batman was merely scary, Joker was downright terrifying and was even willing to inform Batman of his location just to get him off the streets.
His malevolent, sadistic sense of humor and psychopathic tendency of murdering whoever he wants to depicts him as Batman's greatest foe and not even Poison Ivy or even Two-Face could possibly beat the Joker.
The Joker is a genius but uses his intelligence for evil schemes in Gotham. However, he does not have any plan to kill Batman because he is "just so much fun" because he always plays his little "games". The Joker also likes to corrupt his enemies in various media and that is perfectly shown in the Dark Knight movie, when he manipulated Harvey Dent into getting revenge on those who were involved in Rachael's death just so that he can pledge more anarchy.
In the Dark Knight Trilogy and the Batman Arkhamverse, there are two personality sides of the Joker-in the Dark Knight, his diabolically devious side is shown and in the Arkhamverse, his psychopathically ruthless side is shown but in both trilogies, the Joker is sadistic, evil, maniacal, chaotic, ruthless, murderous and rather cunning in his behavior.
He has some on and off alliances and on and off rivalries with Batman's villains, such as Two-Face, Penguin, Catwoman etc.
The Joker has a tendency of cheating death and escaping Arkham Asylum in order to create more chaos.
In the Dark Knight (and possibly for any other portrayal Of the Joker for that matter), Alfred Pennyworth is right about Joker, implying him as "one of the men who want to watch the world burn"
The Joker actually wants to corrupt Batman by causing greater tragedies in his life so that he can get Batman to kill him or make Batman like him. Even though the Dark Knight has shown to be incorruptible and sticks to his moral code of not murdering his enemies and having them receive justice instead, the Joker never gives up because the more tragedies he causes, the more Batman will get angry at the Joker and thus, risk breaking his code.
The Joker has a vicious, sadistic and ruthless mind of physically and mentally torturing his enemies or puppets. The perfect example is none other than Harley Quinn, who has an undying crush on the Crown Prince of Crime as he just uses her for his own diabolical schemes and he always slaps her and belittles her.
The Joker also takes a lot of pride in his crimes, often freely admitting and taking credit for the crimes he commits. In fact, he has done it so many times that usually a surefire sign that the Joker is actually innocent of a crime is when the Clown Prince of Crime actually denies any involvement in it.
In more recent incarnations, presumably due to the popularity of the version played by Heath Ledger from The Dark Knight, the Joker also frequently says "Let's put a smile on that face", or similar phraseology, when about to harm someone physically.
The Joker has been referred to as the Clown Prince of Crime, the Harlequin of Hate, and the Ace of Knaves. Throughout the evolution of the DC universe, interpretations and incarnations of the Joker have taken two forms. The original and currently dominant image is of a sadistic, fiendishly intelligent lunatic with a warped sense of humor, deriving pleasure from inflicting twisted, morbid death and terror upon innocent people. The Joker often expressed this pleasure by breaking out into hysterical laughter. In this interpretation, he is a textbook example of antisocial personality disorder. He also was shown to be extremely nihilistic, claiming that all of life is "one big joke," and that all the things people fight and strive for are all one "monstrous, demented gag," and the only sensible way to live is either to descend into madness or to live without rules, and also believing that "one bad day" is more than enough for anyone to turn out like him, even someone who is a paragon of justice like Batman. In this characterization, he also has little care for his own life and safety, even laughing during instances where his death seemed inevitable, and in some cases has even attempted to goad Batman or another character to kill him (usually with the intent of also ensuring that those he was goading end up corrupted in the process). It is heavily implied, especially in sources like The Killing Joke and to some extent the Arkham series, that his nihilism and psychopathy ultimately stemmed from a bad day. The other interpretation of the character, popular in the late 1940s through 1960s comic books as well as the 1960s television series, is that of an eccentric but harmless prankster and thief. The 1990s cartoon Batman: The Animated Series is notable for blending these two aspects to great acclaim, although most interpretations tend to embrace one characterization or the other. The Joker also tends to boast about any crimes he commits, to such an extent that it ironically only requires his denial of being involved in a crime to prove he truly wasn't involved in that crime. This was especially evident when Joker allegedly shot Thomas Elliot, where he told Batman that he was in fact innocent of that crime, and reminded him that he doesn't take credit for crimes he didn't actually commit.
The Joker's victims have included men, women, children, and even his own henchmen. A 1996 issue of Hitman stated that the Joker once gassed an entire kindergarten class. In the graphic novel The Joker: Devil's Advocate, the Joker is reported to have killed well over 2,000 people. Despite having murdered enough people to get the death penalty thousands of times over, he is always found not guilty by reason of insanity. In the Batman story line "War Crimes", this continued ruling of insanity is in fact made possible by The Joker's own dream team of lawyers. He is then placed in Arkham Asylum, from which he appears able to escape at will, referring to it as a resting ground between his "performances".
There have been times when Batman has been tempted to put the Joker down once and for all, but has relented at the last minute. After capturing the Joker in one story, he threatens to kill his old foe, but then says, "But that would give you the final victory, making me into a killer like yourself!" Joker seems to acknowledge this fact, casually remarking (after Batman threatened to "break him") that if he "had the guts for 'that kind of fun', you (the Batman) would have done it years ago", once again expressing his disregard for (his own) life through stating that killing him is a kind of fun. Conversely, the Joker has given up many chances to kill Batman. Their mutual obsession is unique compared to other superheroes and villains:
- In "The Clown at Midnight" (featured in Batman #663), the Joker states to Batman, "You can't kill me without becoming like me. I can't kill you without losing the only human being who can keep up with me. Isn't it ironic?!" The Joker says later, "I could never kill you. Where would the act be without my straight man?"
- In "Going Sane" (featured in Legends of the Dark Knight # 65-68), the Joker lures Batman into a trap that he believes kills his arch nemesis. Batman's apparent death snaps the Joker back to sanity and prompts him to undergo plastic surgery in order to look like a normal human being. The Joker attempts to lead a normal, honest life, donning the name Joseph Kerr (a pun on his criminal moniker) and engaging in a small romance with a neighbor. Normality does not last for the Joker, however, as he later discovers Batman to be alive, which drives him to insanity. The Joker then mutilates himself in order to restore his trademark white skin, green hair, and crimson lips, and resumes his quest to destroy Batman.
- In another issue, the Joker threatens to kill crime boss Rupert Thorne if he uncovers Batman's secret identity. Thorne has Hugo Strange discover Batman's identity, but, when Strange refuses to tell him who Batman is, has him killed. The Joker, who is also bidding for Batman's identity alongside The Penguin, tells Thorne he was lucky Strange took whatever secrets he held with him to the grave; he explains that he is destined to defeat Batman in a manner worthy of his criminal reputation, and that no one else has the right.
- In Emperor Joker, although the Joker uses his new god-like powers to torture Batman to death night after night, he still cannot erase his foe from existence. Superman states that this is because the Joker totally defines himself by his opposition to the Dark Knight, and how the Joker lives in Batman's world rather than Batman living in the Joker's.
- In the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry McGinnis, the successor to the mantle of Dark Knight, says to the Joker that the only real reason he keeps coming back is because he never got a laugh out of the original Batman.
- In the film The Dark Knight, after his apparent defeat, the Joker remarks that Batman "won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness, and I won't kill you, because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever."
- In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a catatonic Joker becomes animated only after seeing a police report that Batman has returned to action, setting in motion a final confrontation where the Joker breaks his own neck to frame Batman for murder.
- In "The Laughing Bat" (Featured in "The Batman" season 2 episode 4), Joker remarks that "the batman needs a Joker. Someone who gives him purpose", afterwards referring to Batman as his "old friend".
- In Batman Cacophony Joker (temporarily sane) tells Batman he wants to kill him. He explains that if he kills Batman he will surrender to the police and give up crime. Batman later tells Alfred The clown won't stop until one of us is dead. Joker states to Batman I don't hate you because I'm crazy. I'm crazy because I hate you.
The Joker is renowned as Batman's most unpredictable foe, despite him not having any special powers. While other villains rely on tried-and-true methods to commit crimes (such as Mr. Freeze's freeze gun or Poison Ivy's toxic plants), Joker has a variety of weapons at his disposal. For example, the flower he wears in his lapel sprays (at any given time) acid, poisonous laughing gas, or nothing at all. In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker and much earlier in "Dreadful Birthday, Dear Joker!" (Batman #321), the Joker has a gun which at first shoots a flag saying "BANG!", but then, with another pull of the trigger, the flag fires and kills a henchman (in the censored version of the movie, the gun shot out laughing gas instead of the dart). His most recurring gadget is his high-voltage hand-buzzer where he literally electrocutes his victims with a handshake. Sometimes he commits crimes just for the fun of it, while on other occasions, it is part of a grand scheme; Batman has been noted to say that the Joker's plans make sense to him alone. This capricious nature, coupled with his maniacal blood-lust, makes the Joker the one villain that even the DC Universe's other super-villains fear; in the Villains United and Infinite Crisis mini-series, the members of the villains' Secret Society refuse to induct the Joker for this reason. In the one-shot Underworld Unleashed, the Trickster remarks, "When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories."
The March 2007 issue of Wizard magazine had a two-page article (pgs 42 & 43) in which various comic book writers and artists were asked to give their favorite moments with The Joker. Kurt Busiek (writer of Superman) discussed a couple moments that helped to demonstrate the Joker’s insanity:
Cruel and sadistic as he is, the Joker has a human side. Before his accident, nobody thought he was worth anything special, and all he wanted to do was prove his worth. Now emotionally scarred by life's tragedies, he merely desires to extend his amazing sense of humor to the point where people finally see who he is meant to be — a star. However, with Batman foiling his every comically-ridden crime, he feels he may never get that chance, so he attempts constantly to prove himself to Batman as special, so maybe the Dark Knight will leave him be. This is a false hope, however, as Batman will always be there to rid the city of turmoil, no matter how much pain it causes the Joker.
Also, he even has his own code of ethics and honor, as during the Living Hell arc, he tells Warren White, aka Great White Shark, that he's a bigger monster than he was, admitting that while he is a killer, even he doesn't steal from a child's college funds. He was also sane enough to realize when he actually committed a crime or not, as evidenced by the Joker: Devil's Advocate arc where he was to be placed on death row because several people had died of Joker venom from licking postage stamps, and he explains even after being sentenced to death row that he considered himself innocent of the crime because even he wouldn't stoop down as low and simply as just placing joker venom on stamps for people to die from licking it, and would have operated on a much smarter level given his credentials of a criminal mastermind, something that even Batman agreed with. In addition, upon becoming a nigh-omnipotent being from stealing reality warping powers, Joker also plotted to destroy the universe, besides for his own amusement, because he felt a universe that allowed such a being as himself to exist means the universe is inherently broken, implying that he has a great deal of self-loathing for himself and his actions. A similar hint at this self-loathing nature occurred in the ending for Batman: The Killing Joke: When Batman offered to have him rehabilitated, the Joker, in a noticeably saddened demeanor, refuses and says that it's far too late for redemption.
The Joker's origin is also a focus of much attention. Though many have been related, a definitive history of the Joker has never been established in the comics, and his real identity has never been confirmed. The most widely cited back-story can be seen in Alan Moore's The Killing Joke, but no recounting of the Joker's origin has been definitive, however, as he has been portrayed as often constantly changing several details about his background, either through willful deception or because his sanity was depleted to such an extent that even he doesn't have any firm grasp of the details of how he came to be other than it involving Batman and it being a bad day. According to the Joker himself, the three most common origin stories are that he was failed comedian who could never make an audience laugh, a mob killer named Napier from outside Gotham City, and of course, the Red Hood story recounted in The Killing Joke.
Virtually nothing is known about Joker's past life, including his real name. As such the Joker has used various aliases over the years. These have included variations on his name, such as Joe Kerr and Dr. J Reko, references to his theme, such as Mr. Genesius and the Laughing Man, and a few with no theme behind them, such as Jack Napier and Oberon Sexton. Only in movies and cartoons does Joker have an official real name, the aforementioned Jack Napier. In the 90's cartoon series Jack Napier is also used, but later retconned into being one of his various aliases. While the name "Jack" is repeatedly used as the Joker's first name (such as Jack White from the Batman: Arkham Asylum game), it's never been confirmed as such. In addition Joker has had an equally numerous amount of nicknames over the years, including "The Clown Prince of Crime", "The Ace of Knaves", "The Harlequin of Hate", and Harley Quinn's personal favorite — "Puddin'".
Joker is served in his crimes by various henchmen. The following henchmen listed below have been named:
- Aces - Aces assisted Joker in a college initiation-themed jewelry heist.
- Ajax - He was a part of Joker's crime circus.
- Black Queen - Queenie is a member of Joker's gang when it came to operating a smuggling operation on board a gambling ship.
- Bruiser - Bruiser assisted Joker into stealing people's signatures so that Joker can commit greater crimes.
- Deuces - Deuces assisted Joker in a college initiation-themed jewelry heist.
- Duke Wilson - Duke Wilson was a member of Joker's team of 48 Jokers.
- Harley Quinn - Joker's moll. Before crossing into the comics, she was featured in Batman: The Animated Series.
- Jack of Diamonds - Diamond Jack Duggan is a member of Joker's gang when it came to operating a smuggling operation on board a gambling ship.
- King of Clubs - Clubsy is a member of Joker's gang when it came to operating a smuggling operation on board a gambling ship.
- Kite - Kite assisted Joker into robbing a fortune of jewels.
- Lar, Mo and Cur - 3 goons named after the Three Stooges.
- Lefty - Lefty assisted Joker in a plot to steal the Golden Golf Clubs of the Maharajah of Nimpah.
- Lewis - He assisted Joker in a plot that involved abducting two radium thieves and making Batman gamble for their lives.
- Needles - He worked with Joker and Penguin into committing a crime spree.
- Nitro - Nitro assisted Joker into robbing a fortune of jewels.
- Slapsy - 
- Slim - Slim assisted Joker in a crime spree that involved leaving greeting card clues for Batman.
- Snipes - Snipes assisted Joker in an upside down crime spree.
- Sparky - Sparky assisted Joker into robbing a fortune of jewels.
- Tino - He was a part of Joker's crime circus.
- Mr Hammer - Mr Hammer was a Joker's henchman in the 2009 Batman game, Batman: Arkham City
Appearances in other media
- Main article: The Joker (Dozierverse)
Birds of Prey
Roger Stoneburner made a cameo appearance as the character in an episode of Birds of Prey in which Batgirl is caught in the crossfire between Batman and the Joker. In the series, the Joker not only paralyzes Barbara, but hires a thug (who later turns out to be Clayface) to kill Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman. Joker is said in another episode to be locked up in a prison far from New Gotham, however his old partner Harley Quinn intends to take over the city and avenge him. Mark Hamill, who voiced the Joker in various animated shows throughout the 1990s, provided the Joker's voice in the scene, and he was the only of the two actors to be credited.
OnStar TV commercials
GothamGotham did not have the rights to explicitly use the Joker, however, in the show, there were many people who could potentially become the Joker, before settling on one character.
In the episode "The Blind Fortune Teller", a teenaged man named Jerome Valeska (played by Cameron Monaghan) was a member of Haly's Circus and is orphaned when his mom, the snake charmer, was discovered to be murdered. It is later revealed that Jerome was the murderer (Jerome claims he did it because his mom was a terrible mother, although it is strongly implied that Jerome was psychotic), and his birth father, Cicero the blind fortune teller, had tried to cover up Jerome's role in the murder (although it was strongly implied that Cicero did not approve of Jerome doing so and only went through the effort to cover his role in the murder up because of Jerome's status as his son). Various promotional spots seemed to imply that Jerome might become the Joker when he grows up. He later reappeared as the public leader of the Maniax, a group of sociopathic criminals composed of former inmates of Arkham Asylum that was secretly formed by Theo Galavan in his agenda against Gotham, eventually slaughtering most of the GCPD. However, his reign of terror ended when Galavan, while "playing the hero" stabs him in the neck, although it is heavily implied by Cicero that his actions inspired several people to continue his legacy and one of these new criminals eventually became the Joker. In Season 3 Jerome is reanimated by a cult obsessed with him and goes after Bruce Wayne as he was the last person he was going to kill before dying.
The definitive version of the character in debuted in the fourth season, it is revealed that Jerome has a twin brother named Jeremiah, who was sent away as a child from the circus to protect him from a supposedly violent Jerome. Jerome tracks down Jeremiah, with the plan to drive him insane and make him as mad as he is. After Jerome is killed for a second time, Jeremiah is sprayed with a dose of Jerome's laughing gas, which drives him insane and bleaches his skin white and to continue Jerome's legacy, which Jeremiah ultimately rejects to become his own villain obsessed with driving Bruce Wayne mad as the two were friends prior to Jeremiah succumbing to madness. In season 5 Jeremiah plotted to recreate the death of the Waynes with the help of the Mad Hatter and his Harley Quinn-esque assistant, Ecco, after a showdown with Bruce at the Ace Chemical Processing Plant, he falls into a vat of acid finally potentially becoming the Joker. Several hints that support this are shown in the final episode of the series, even with Jeremiah going as far as to list off potential aliases beginning with "J" and killing off Ecco declaring that there are "other fish in the sea". Despite him being hinted to be the Joker, the character was never explicitly referred to as such due to licensing issues and restrictions from Warner Brothers.
The Adventures of Batman
The Joker appeared as a recurring adversary in the 1969 Filmation series The Adventures of Batman. Two episodes of the 1972 series The New Scooby-Doo Movies featured a meeting with Batman; the Joker was one of the villains, voiced by Larry Storch. (Scooby-Doo Meets Batman)
The Joker was planned to be a main villain and part of the Legion of Doom on Challenge of the SuperFriends, but Filmation already had the rights to the character for The New Adventures of Batman. However he appeared inThe Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians episode, "The Wild Cards" which featured a version of the Royal Flush Gang. The leader of the group, Ace, turned out to be a disguised Joker (voiced by Frank Welker).
Batman: The Animated Series
In the Justice League episode "Injustice for All", the Joker became a member of the Injustice Gang after Copperhead was arrested, much to Luthor's annoyance. Although, he was more of a "senior adviser", seemingly having the most experience being a criminal. Surprisingly, Joker, despite not having any powers, was the last one to be captured by the Justice League during the episode (even managing to deter the Flash with explosives and escape Wonder Woman's Lasso of Truth by tossing an explosive doll at her).
The Joker took a step further than he has before: he recruited a bunch of "mutant"-like teenagers from a government containment center. He took these five teenagers and formed the Royal Flush Gang. Dressed up as playing cards, the Royal Flush Gang did whatever the Joker asked them to do, until things turned for worse and they left.
In Batman Beyond, which is set 40 years in the future of the DC Animated Universe, the Joker has not been seen in several decades. There are now street gangs known as Jokerz, some of whom emulate his appearance and others who simply use some sort of clown motif.
In the episode "Joyride", a skeleton wearing the Joker's suit is seen in a cave where the Jokerz go for initiations.
Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker
The Joker appears in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, both in flashback sequences opposing the original Batman and in the "present" of Batman Beyond.
It is revealed that the Joker eventually recovers, and continues to be a thorn in Batman's side, until one night he kidnaps Tim Drake (the second Robin in the "Animated Series" continuity). Over the course of three weeks, he tortures and alters the boy to become his own twisted "son". Attempting to turn Tim against Batman, The Joker is instead killed by Tim when he tries to have him kill an injured Batman. Batman and Batgirl, in conjunction with Commissioner James Gordon, hide the body beneath Arkham Asylum.
Forty years later, the Joker returns to Gotham. Joker's determination to wreak havoc on the city continues into the time of Batman Beyond, as the clown has apparently returned, alive, unchanged, and in his words, "Ready to give this old town a wedgie again!" it's eventually revealed that this isn't Joker in the flesh but in fact Tim Drake whom was forcefully implanted with a chip containing the Joker's personality and DNA during his brief tenure as the Joker's "son" which slowly began rewriting Tim into a clone of the Joker. Terry McGinnis, the current Batman, eventually defeats the Joker by frying the chip with the Joker's own Joy Buzzer thus returning Tim to normal.
Batman: The Brave and the Bold
The Joker appears in the Young Justice episode "Revelations" voiced by Brent Spiner. He is a member of the Injustice League, and takes part in their plan to hold the world hostage using Poison Ivy's plants by actually manipulating the plants. He is mostly absent from the Injustice League's fight with Young Justice until Ivy's plant creature is destroyed, whereafter he attacks Robin. When the Injustice League is surrounded by the JLA and Young Justice teams, he manipulates the plants into a suicide assault, releasing Joker Venom spores into the air before being knocked out by Batman. The spores are absorbed by Doctor Fate, and no one is actually killed.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)
Batman: The Killing Joke (2016)
Suicide Squad (2016)
The Lego Batman Movie (2017)
The Joker is the primary antagonist of the film voiced by Zach Galifianakis. He attempts to bomb Gotham City to prove that he is Batman's greatest enemy, only to fail when the Dark Knight proclaims that he means nothing to him. Afterwards, Joker leads the group of Batman villains to the Gotham winter gala, and surrenders himself to Barbara Gordon. Joker then anticipates Batman's break-in into Arkham Asylum and the Dark Knight blasts him with the Phantom Zone gun. Harley Quinn then steals the gun and uses it to unleash Joker and several villains outside of the DC Universe onto Gotham City (Voldemort, Wicked Witch, Gremlins, etc.). After Batman is sent to the Phantom Zone by Joker and he tells the robotic warden Phyllis that he will bring back every villain into the Zone before he goes back to Gotham City. He then teams up with Robin, Alfred, Batgirl, and several other Batman villains in order to stop Joker and his new villain army, thus sending them back to the Phantom Zone. Unfortunately, the bomb goes off and Gotham is split apart. Batman then proclaims that Joker is his greatest enemy ever, and the two along with the other Gotham residents link together and put the city back together. Batman then gives Joker and the other Batman villains a headstart before the heroes stop them.
The 2019 film Joker presents the character as Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who lives in poor conditions and whose mental instability causes him to create an alternative personality as the Joker, delving into crime and mayhem.
The Joker appears in the video game Batman: Vengeance. As the main villain of the game, the Joker funds the research of Promethium and sends his bumbling henchmen: Mo, Lar, and Cur, to wreak havoc and cause explosions throughout the city. He nearly succeeds in defeating Batman during a confrontation on a Gotham bridge, but ends up falling to his apparent death. As the Joker's demise is never permanent, however, he is later shown to have survived.
In addition to the above game, the Joker has appeared in most of the Batman video games. He has appeared in the various video game adaptations of the 1989 Batman film. He was the final boss in the Batman: Return of the Joker game and has appeared as a boss character in Batman: Dark Tomorrow, Batman: The Caped Crusader, Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the SNES, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis and the Sega CD and Batman: Chaos in Gotham. In Batman: Vengeance and the Sega CD game Mark Hamill reprises the role of the Joker. The Joker also had a short cameo appearance in the video game Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, based on The New Batman Adventures. At one point of the game, if the Scarecrow is able to gas Batman with fear gas, apparitions of Joker, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Mr. Freeze will appear onscreen as part of the fear gas effects.
LEGO Video Games
Batman: Arkham series
DC Universe OnlineThe role of The Joker is reprised by Mark Hamill in DC Universe Online.
Injustice: Gods Among Us
The Joker appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us. He is voiced by Richard Epcar, who previously voiced him in the Mortal Kombat crossover. In the Regime Universe, the Joker, having grown tired of trying to corrupt Batman, decided instead to corrupt Superman instead. He succeeded after he forced Superman to kill Lois Lane (who was pregnant with his child) as well as go nuclear and destroy over millions of people in Metropolis. After taunting Superman, the Joker ended up meeting his fate when Superman, enraged at the Joker, impaled him with his arm, with the Joker laughing as he successfully corrupted Superman as he dies. The main universe Joker ended up in this realm and causing chaos at various areas. The Prime universe equivalent eventually ended up accidentally transported into the Regime Universe by Batman in an attempt to recruit allies to get the ultimate weapon to stop Superman, due to his being caught in the teleportation array.
If the Joker manages to win against an opponent, he starts dunking gasoline over his KOed opponent, and lighting a match before throwing it at the opponent to set him/her ablaze, also saying "You're fired!" just as he throws the lit match at them.
Batman: The Telltale Series
See: The Joker (Telltale)
Published in 1990, The Further Adventures of The Joker (edited by Martin H. Greenberg) assembled 20 short stories about the Clown Prince of Crime. The content of its material ranged from macabre to campy. All of the stories featured in the book are considered non-canon in relation to mainstream DC Comics continuity.
In the DC Comics/Marvel Comics crossover Batman vs. the Incredible Hulk (DC Special Series #27, 1981), the Joker is recruited to help the Shaper of Worlds who is going mad and will twist all of reality if he isn't healed. Having used the Hulk's gamma energy to calm the Shaper's mind, the Joker winds up with near-cosmic level powers as the Shaper makes the Joker's wishes come true. Despite his new power, the Joker ultimately defeats himself, when twisting reality ever tighter in an effort to defeat Hulk and Batman, he drives himself over the edge, having created too many worlds in too little time.
In Spider-Man/Batman #1 (1995), a surgical procedure that implants a behavior-altering computer chip into the head of serial killer Cletus Kasady (Carnage) is also used on The Joker to turn both men into timid souls. Carnage uses his symbiote to short out his chip, but waits until Joker is nearby to leap into action, so that he can take Joker and short out his chip as well. The two agree to an alliance, which is quickly dissolved when the two disagree on killing methods; Joker favors theatrical methods of murder, while Carnage prefers numbers and immediacy in planning his murder sprees. Joker uses various tricks to escape Carnage and blows up his hideout in an attempt to kill Carnage. This fails, and a corpse wrapped in symbiotic material lures Batman into Carnage's reach. Carnage announces he will kill Batman in front of an audience, until Joker shows up and says that he would rather unleash his viral plague upon Gotham, killing himself in the process if need be, to rob Carnage of the kill. Carnage becomes distracted and Batman knocks him out, while Spider-Man uses a web-line to steal the viral container from Joker, chasing him into an alley and knocking him out cold.
In the DC Comics/Dark Horse Comics crossover Joker-Mask #1-4 (2000), while vandalizing a museum exhibit, the Joker finds and wears The Mask, an item that grants the wearer a wide range of super powers and unleashes their hidden desires. Having no desires or personality traits that are hidden, the Joker essentially is himself but with near invulnerability, super speed, strength and other abilities. Using the Mask, Joker is able to defeat Batman and become unstoppable; the Joker quickly becomes bored with his power, but still refuses to remove the Mask. He takes over the Gotham television waves and broadcasts 24/7 destruction, threatening to destroy the world with bombs planted in every toy store. Becoming bored with this, he commandeers a nuclear bomb to destroy Gotham City. Batman confronts Joker/Mask, and his insistence that the Mask isn't funny forces the Joker to emerge and remove the mask. The Mask had been in control for some time after Joker put it on. This story is considered non-canon.
In the DC Comics/2000AD crossover, Batman/Judge Dredd: Die Laughing #1-2, a dimension jump mishap transports the Joker's disembodied spirit to Mega City One, where he meets Judge Death and the other Dark Judges and joins them as the fifth Dark Judge. While in this form (with his catatonic body back in Gotham), he can possess bodies like the other Dark Judges and his laugh becomes so powerful it causes several skulls to explode. The reign of terror ends when Batman and Dredd arrive to capture the spirits of Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis and force the Joker's spirit to return to Gotham.
LEGO released a line of licensed products based on Batman. The Joker is featured in two sets; one with his purple helicopter from the movie, while Batman pilots his Batwing and the second with a Joker themed ice cream truck, while Batman drives the Tumbler. The Joker's appearance is similar to the standard likeness in the comics.
In 2012 LEGO had a new line of sets and made a new version of the set featuring the Joker's helicopter and the Batwing. Other sets including the Joker are the Dynamic Duo's Funhouse Escape, Arkham Asylum Breakout (which features Joker in an orange jumpsuit) and The Joker Steam Roller (which features a Fedora wearing Joker).
Theme Park Attractions
There are a few theme park attractions themed to the Joker. The Joker's Jinx, a twisting steel roller coaster in Six Flags America, follows the Joker's dominantly purple and green color scheme, and his mad laughter is played during the ride queue.
The current version of the motion simulator ride Batman Adventure - The Ride at Warner Bros. Movie World revolves around the Dark Knight attempting to foil the Joker's plan of spreading his deadly Joker Gas throughout Gotham from an airship.
In Six Flags Great America The Dark Knight coaster (based off the movie) is an indoor ride, where Joker interrupts Harvey Dent's speech and takes control of the T.V.s. You go through a corridor before entering the ride, seeing all cameras hacked by Joker. The ride ends when you are supposedly saved by Batman.