Because of his chronic and deeply seated insanity, there is no definitive story of how the man who would become the Joker came to be. There are, however, a few prevailing versions of what could be his origin story.
The most well-known of these is about a chemist with a pregnant wife, down on his luck and trying to make money as a stand-up comedian after being laid off from his job at the chemical company. Not able to make ends meet, he is recruited by a group of career criminals to assist in a heist at his former chemical plant using the traded off guise of the Red Hood. Right before the job was to be carried out, the man learns that his wife and unborn child were killed in a fire at their apartment. Feeling hopeless, the man agrees to the job and breaks into the chemical plant with the criminals as the Red Hood. Coming under fire, both of the criminals are killed by gunfire from police officers, leaving the man in the Hood alone.
It's then that Gotham's recently-established nocturnal avenger, the vigilante known only as the Batman, descends upon him on one of the chemical plant's catwalks. Cowering from him, the man loses his footing and falls into a large vat of chemicals before Batman can save him. Washing ashore, the man feels burning in his face and eyes. Discarding the hood, the man looks at his reflection in a puddle of rain and sees his skin bleached white, his hair turned emerald green, and his mouth unnaturally stretched into a rictus grin. The man begins crying, then giggling, and suddenly bursts into laughter, driven irredeemably insane by one bad day and a horrible disfigurement. From then on, the Joker's brilliantly sadistic and reprehensible actions would plague Gotham City at-large for years to come, with his murderous, unpredictable formability causing him to become Batman's chief adversary in the vigilante's war on crime.
Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe
The Joker first appears in Gotham City, ambushing Batman by throwing an exploding clown doll on the hood of the Batmobile. Batman easily survives the explosive, frustrating the Joker, who decides to fight Batman himself. He is easily defeated and quickly surrenders, getting cuffed by Batman.
However, when Liu Kang mysteriously appears, the Joker escapes as Batman investigates. Sometime later, the Clown Prince of Crime encounters Scorpion, who is searching for Kitana. When Scorpion walks away after becoming annoyed by the Joker's antics, the Joker strikes him with an extending boxing glove, prompting a fight with the enraged spectre. Scorpion easily defeats the Joker in combat but spares his life out of disgust.
Moments after his defeat, Lex Luthor appears and recruits the Joker onto his team of villains alongside Catwoman and Deathstroke. The Joker is present with them when they go to Metropolis and meet up with Captain Marvel and learn of Dark Kahn and his connection to Apokolips. Luthor dispatches the Joker and Deathstroke together to find the portal in the Mortal Kombat universe that would allow them to go to Apokolips.
During their mission, the Joker and Deathstroke encounter Sonya Blade and Kano in the Graveyard in the Mortal Kombat Universe, and Joker damages Sonya Blade's communicator with a spray of acid from a fake flower, the damage done to the device teleporting all of them to Oa. While Deathstroke battles Kano, the terrified Joker faces Sonya. Much to his own surprise as well as Deathstroke's, the Joker defeats Sonya, and becomes fueled by the Kombat Rage infecting their worlds.
Arrogant over his victory, the Joker shoves Deathstroke aside and challenges Kano himself, defeating him. Deathstroke is able to return himself and the Joker to the graveyard, but quickly realizes something is wrong with the Joker. The Joker then declares his intentions to allow the universes to be destroyed and his ultimate goal of killing Batman. Joker betrays Deathstroke and battles him, defeating him too. Believing himself unstoppable, he decides to finally confront Batman.
He lures his old arch-enemy into a trap by calling him out to Gotham and confronts him in the streets, defeating him as well. As he is celebrating, he is tasered by the Dark Knight and is easily dispatched. The Joker is next seen among the gathered heroes and villains at the Special Forces base as they prepare to take on Dark Kahn.
In the final battle between the DC universe heroes and the Mortal Kombat Kombatants, the Joker fights against Kano but is ultimately knocked out. Joker later witnesses the DC Universe's restoration.
Moves and Abilities
Although the Joker is a human with no particular enhancements, natural or otherwise, his lack of sanity and rationality have often been a fatal weapon for his victims: he is unencumbered by rational thought and is therefore extraordinarily creative, vindictive and sadistic. This has translated into his many schemes over the years, as well as in his hand-to-hand combat style. Although the Joker prefers to have henchmen do the "dirty work" for him, having a resourceful nemesis like Batman has forced him to be able to fight hand-to-hand in situations that force him to. Sometimes using weapons that play off his clownish appearance, he also makes use of stabbing weapons and firearms, and always attempts to use his methods of killing in ways that he finds ironic and humorous.
As a result of Dark Kahn's Rage, the Joker has become both stronger and faster than he would normally be otherwise, allowing him to hold his own against and defeat skilled fighters, such as Sonya Blade, Kano, Deathstroke, and Batman.
- Joker's Wild: The Joker throws a playing card lined with steel at the opponent.
- Sinister Heels: The Joker grabs the opponent and kicks them repeatedly with the back of his foot.
- Put It There Pal!: The Joker counters an opponent's attack by grabbing their hand and shocking them with his electric joy buzzer. He then laughs giddily and dances in a circle.
- Bombs Away: The Joker throws a bomb with a smiley face on it that bounces up and down before exploding. He can throw the bomb at close and long-range.
- Magic Trick: The Joker is enveloped in a cloud of green smoke. Any button which is pressed in this brief state will produce a different attack.
- Surprise Stomp: The Joker does a flying jump kick.
- Surprise Slide: The Joker does a sliding kick across the ground.
- Surprise Bomb: The Joker appears from the mist with a bomb in his hand.
- Surprise Pistol Whip: The Joker smacks the opponent with a pistol.
- The Funnyman: The Joker laughs as he dances in a circle, causing his rage meter to fill.
- Punching Bag: The Joker pulls out an extend-o boxing glove and fires it, stretching over half the field. It is possible to strike the opponent twice with this technique, as pulling out the glove will cause damage to the opponent if they are close enough before the Joker extends the glove for the actual strike.
- Free-fall Super Move: The Joker pulls out his extend-o boxing glove and fires it, punching his opponent.
Mortal Kombat 11
- Batsy-Poo: The Joker takes out a Batman doll and fires a shot from its mouth. The attack can be delayed, as the Joker holds a conversation with the doll. Amplifying the move makes the doll fire a bottle rocket that moves in a sine pattern, and makes the opponent fly up into the air.
- Batsy-Poo Cancel: The Joker gains the ability to cancel the move and toss the doll away. (Equip Ability)
- Birdboy Beatdown: The Joker charges forward and smashes the opponent on the head with his cane, bringing them down to their knees. After that he swings the cane horizontally and knocks them away. Amplifying the move has the Joker beat the opponent on the head three times and knock them down to the ground.
- If the Joker connects three amplified Birdboy Beatdowns during the match, the attack turns into a Krushing Blow, with the Joker smashing the opponent in the temple with the cane, dealing over double the original damage.
- C C D D E G E C: The Joker struts towards the opponent while winding up a jack-in-the-box. As he finishes, the toy pops out and starts bouncing towards the opponent. Amplifying the move makes the toy bounce across the whole stage and explode upon contact, sending the opponent into the air.
- Batsy Pew Pew: The Joker sets the Batman doll on the ground and makes it fire a shot at the opponent's feet. Amplifying the move has the doll fire four times.
- Puppet Parry: The Joker pulls out the Batman doll while mocking the opponent in Batman's voice. If he is hit with a High or Mid attack, he smacks the opponent twice in the head with the doll and knocks them away with a gunshot. This ability conflicts with Getting Lit when equipped, disabling the option to select Getting Lit. Amplifying the move has the Joker pop the opponent up for a juggle.
- KAPOW: The Joker pulls out two extend-o boxing gloves and hits the opponent four times, knocking them away. This ability requires two ability slots and replaces Birdboy Beatdown when equipped. The amplified version is called BAM POW ZAP and replaces the final punch with a double axe handle strike with the gloves, bouncing the opponent off the ground for a juggle. (Equip Ability)
- If the Joker connects the attack as a Kounter or a Punish from the maximum distance, the attack turns into a Krushing Blow, with the brass knuckles on the glove crushing the front part of the opponent's skull inwards, dealing over double the original damage.
- Getting Lit: The Joker pulls out a canister of gasoline and starts walking backwards while spilling it on the ground up to the full-screen distance. After that he throws a lit match at the puddle and sets it on fire, dealing damage over time to the opponent standing in the flames. This ability conflicts with Puppet Parry when equipped, disabling the option to select Puppet Parry. Amplifying the move has the Joker throw the canister into the flames to create a fiery explosion that pops the opponent up for a juggle. (Equip Ability)
- Jumping Jester: The Joker sets a jack-in-the-box on the ground, and the toy pops out on it, hitting the opponent on the way up. The attack can be used at three different ranges, normal, close or far range, called Close Jumping Jester and Far Jumping Jester, respectively. Amplifying the move has the toy hit the opponent on the way down. (MK11 - Equip Ability)
- Jack In The Box: The Joker sets a jack-in-the-box on the ground and kicks it towards the opponent, then the toy pops out and hits them. The attack can be used at three different ranges, normal, close or far range, called Close Jack In The Box and Far Jack In The Box, respectively. This ability requires two ability slots and conflicts with Hostage Hop when equipped, disabling the option to select Hostage Hop. Amplifying the move has the toy explode mid-air, extending the opponent's air time for an easier juggle. (Equip Ability)
- Hostage Hop: The Joker pulls out a detonator, and a tied-up person wearing a paper bag on the head and a Joker suit starts hopping towards the opponent while the Joker attempts to press the button. Once he detonates them, first the hostage's head explodes, and then the rest of their body, knocking the opponent upwards. This ability requires two ability slots and conflicts with Jack In The Box when equipped, disabling the option to select Jack In The Box. Amplifying the move has the hostage's entire body explode instantly, popping the opponent up for a juggle. (Equip Ability)
- Corpse Trot: A dead body wearing a paper bag on the head and a Joker suit appears behind the Joker in a wheelchair, and he grabs the corpse and swings it at the opponent twice before tossing it away and letting it explode. This ability requires two ability slots and replaces C C D D E G E C when equipped. Amplifying the move has the Joker slide the corpse between his legs to trip the opponent up before exploding. (Equip Ability)
- SMILE: The Joker will start winding up a jack-in-the-box. If the opponent gets caught, he brings out his knife and stabs the opponent's back repeatedly. He then brings out another knife and uses both to slash both the opponent's cheeks. He then hits his opponent from behind repeatedly with his cane, as blood splatters all over the screen.
- Throw (Forward): The Joker grabs his opponent and equips his extend-o boxing gloves and punches the opponent with one of them to knock them down, then delivers two blows to the groin with the other one and punches them in the groin with both gloves, pushing them away. If Joker does not connect with his Fatal Blow and the throw connects during the cooldown period, the attack turns into a Krushing Blow, where the boxing gloves crush the opponent's groin, dealing over double the original damage.
- Throw (Backwards): The Joker hooks the opponent with his cane, switches sides with them and pulls out a Batman puppet with a gun barrel protruding out of its mouth, then shoots them several times.
- Show's Over: The Joker pokes forward with his cane, follows up with an overhead smash and finishes with an uppercutting swing. If this combo is performed on the opponent as a Kounter or Punish, the combo turns into a Krushing Blow, where the Joker's cane crushes the front part of the opponent's skull inwards, dealing increased damage and sending the opponent in the air for a juggle.
- Grand Entrance: The Joker hops forward with his leg outstretched and brings the cane down on the opponent's head. If only the last hit of the combo connects, the attack is turned into a Krushing Blow, where the Joker's cane crushes the top of the opponent's skull, dealing increased damage. The Joker is offered a moment of a special attack if this is successful.
- BOING: The Joker uses his boxing gloves to propel himself into the air. This move has three versions that determine the distance of the jump. (Equip Ability)
- The Killing Joke: The Joker takes out a gun and shoots it, but instead of a bullet, some confetti and a flag with the word "Bang" on it pop out of the barrel. He drops it and starts to laugh, before pulling out a real gun and shooting the opponent in the head, killing them. (MKvsDCU)
- Card Trick: The Joker takes out four cards and throws three at the opponent's body. Then he throws the last one to the opponent's head, which knocks them to the floor, dead. (MKvsDCU)
- Party Pooper: The Joker pulls out a cake and hands it to his opponent. A sign with the word “FRIENDSHIP” in balloon letters and confetti appears out of nowhere and the opponent looks at the cake, revealing a fuse instead of a candle. The cake explodes and blows off their forearms while launching them into the air, causing the Joker to pull out a brightly colored Tommy gun and shoots at the opponent, knocking off the lower half of their leg in the process while the balloons are popped (revealing the words “FATALITY” in red paint) and a string is cut in the process. When they land, the last string rips and the sign is dropped onto the opponent’s body, cleaving them in half. (MK11)
- Pop Goes The Mortal: The Joker, whilst singing one of two songs to the tune of "Pop Goes The Weasel", takes out his extending boxing glove and punches a hole through his opponent's torso. He then saunters over holding a jack-in-the-box, places it in the open wound and turns the crank. After a short pause, the jack-in-the-box activates, tearing the opponent's head away from their body. (MK11)
- The Klassic: Joker performs an uppercut, decapitating the opponent with a rising swing of his cane with their spine still attached. This Brutality is shared with every character. (MK11)
- Must not block an attack for the entirety of the final round.
- A button must be held.
- Will not trigger on Krushing Blow, if it has not been activated during the match.
- Playful Puppet: Joker performs a Puppet Parry and starts to continuously beat the opponent's head with a puppet until their head explodes. (MK11)
- A button must be held.
- Batter Up: Joker performs an amplified Birdboy Beatdown, only this time, he spits on his hands and readies himself for a final swing, before saying "Smile!" as the opponent says one final word or phrase, and the Joker knocks their head off towards the screen with a homerun swing. (MK11)
- A button must be pressed repeatedly.
- Shang Tsung, Nightwolf and The Terminator are the only three characters that don't speak during this Brutality.
- Together Forever: Joker performs a Getting Lit, leaving the opponent on fire while he "pours" confetti on himself from the same canister. When only a charred body remains of the opponent, Joker runs up and hugs the corpse. (MK11)
- A button must be held.
- Magic Bullet: Joker performs a Batsy-Poo, shooting a hole in the opponent's head. (MK11)
- Must not be close to the opponent.
- A button must be held.
- Send in The Clowns: Joker performs a Hostage Hop, as he triggers a button, the opponent is blown to bits along with the hostage. (MK11)
- A button must be held.
- Blam Blam Blam Blam: Joker performs his Throw (Backwards), continuously shooting at the opponent's face with his Batman Plushie until it's completely destroyed. (MK11)
- Certain buttons must be pressed repeatedly.
- Head Case: Joker performs an amplified C C D D E G E C, replacing the opponent's head with the Jack-in-the-Box's head. If Joker performs his Brutality Victory Pose winding up his Jack-in-the-Box after that, then the opponent's head will pop out from it. (MK11)
- A number of C C D D E G E C must be performed.
- Rocket Power: Joker performs an amplified Batsy-Poo and fires a bottle rocket at the opponent's mouth, causing their head to explode. (MK11)
- Must not be close to the opponent.
- A button must be held.
- Secret Throw (Forward) Brutality: The Joker performs his Throw (Forward), placing the opponent in a wheelchair. After that, the Joker turns the wheelchair around and cuts the opponent's throat with a knife. (MK11 - Secret)
Jack and the Boxes:
- MKvsDCU: "As the worlds separated, the Joker discovered he had retained his new powers. With them he soon controlled all of Gotham, proclaiming himself "Mayor Joker". Under his rule, the city devolved into chaos. He now holds a tournament in which "contestants" are forced to fight to the death for his amusement. The winner will face off against the Joker himself."
- Mortal Kombat 11: "This was my dream vacation. I saw mayhem, mutilation. It was all a gas... for a while. But these nincompoops? They didn't really GET me. Not even that pretty boy, Ninja Mime." [Gunshot] "Good night, sweet prince! I'd 'finished' just about everyone worth finishing in Earthrealm and Outworld. Even lovable old Netherrealm. I was a lonely heart in search of new friends. But as luck would have it, I had just the gizmo to find them. And oh, how the Hourglass spoiled me! Havik and I are going to be bosom buddies. And what's that? My new pal knows an entire realm dedicated to law and order? And he exists only to disrupt it? Well I say, he and I need to get busy! Meet the League of Misunderstood Maniacs! We're giving Orderrealm an enema. And when we're done, who knows where we'll crash next. Maybe we'll come to your house and slip live grenades under your pillow. Maybe we'll gut your favorite pet. Or maybe we'll just... break your TV right now!" [Shoots and breaks the screen as distorted maniacal laughter is heard in the background]"
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
- "No, no, no! You were supposed to DIE when the clown exploded!"
- "Okay okay, I-I give up!"
- "Yeah, that's gonna happen..."
- "Great gag!"
- "Princess? Didn't I kill the last guy who called me that?"
- "He should've know. I'M the only Joker around here!"
- "Oops... Where did that come from?"
- "Can we kill him now?"
- "Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!"
- "Come on! We'll kill things, blow things up! Oh, it'll be fun!"
- "And here, I was so looking forward to murdering someone!"
- "You don't like me much, do you?"
- "Pretty flower for a pretty lady?"
- "Hmm... I was going for the eyes."
- "Thanks for bringing up to your headquarters. We're interested in some technology."
- "What can I say? The ladies dig me."
- "Uh oh, you don't hit like a girl."
- "Can't we talk about this?!"
- "I beat her? I won?! I won! I mean, of course I won."
- "Allow me to discipline him."
- "Step aside, Deathjoke."
- "I hope you put a fight than blonde did..."
- "...because this Joker is wild!"
- "Don't know, don't care."
- "The hell with Baldy!"
- "There's two things he forgot to tell you about me: I don't care what happens to the world."
- "...And I don't play well with others."
- "Some world class assassin you turned out to be."
- "I'm undefeated, unstoppable! I bet I could even beat Batman."
- "Well well... If it ain't Batman."
- "Sorry about before, you know the "running away". That was rude of me. You'll be happy to know I won't be running anymore."
- "Nothing up this sleeve. Let's check the other one. Nope, nothing up my sleeve!"
- "Make the time, Bats."
- "Now you're all mine!"
- "I did it! I beat Batman!"
- "Ouch! Someone, please kill him for me!"
- "Yay, we're all going to hell!"
- "I like it!"
Mortal Kombat 11
- “Bats would say that I’m a bad boy / To kill without a reason / But bodies stacked high never gets old / Blood's always in season!” (During his Pop Goes the Mortal Fatality)
- “The fight is done and now’s the time / To bring it to a crescendo / Crank the knob and what will I get? / Your head as a memento!” (Alternate song)
- The Joker's inclusion as a guest character to feature both one a main roster (Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe) and as a downloadable guest (Mortal Kombat 11), excluding mobile versions.
- With the exception of MKvsDCU, the Joker is the first DC character to appear as a guest character.
- In a technical sense, the Joker is the fourth serial killer to be a playable guest character, after Freddy Krueger, Jason Voorhees and Leatherface.
- Despite this, he is the only one of the four to not come from a horror or slasher film franchise.
- The Joker is the sixth guest character to be alive (as opposed to undead), after Kratos, the Predator, Leatherface, the Alien, and The Terminator.
- Shang Tsung uses an edited and more gruesome version of the Joker's The Killing Joke in the 2011 version of Mortal Kombat. In Mortal Kombat 11, Joker calls him out for "stealing [his] face", a reference to the reuse.
Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe
- The Joker is one of the only two fighters in the MK vs. DC Universe game that laugh when under the influence of rage. The other is Catwoman.
- His Fatality, The Killing Joke, is named after the one-shot comic.
- In NTSC regions, The Joker's first Fatality, The Killing Joke, was mildly censored to keep the Teen rating. However, in PAL regions, the Fatality is shown in full, including the death of his opponent.
- Joker's ending has him turning into the DC Universe's equivalent of Shang Tsung or Shao Kahn.
- In the DC Storyline, The Joker references Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan; after hearing the news of Dark Kahn, he looks up at the sky, and yells "Kahn!", similar to Captain Kirk.
- His ending is a nod to the "Emperor Joker" storyline where he stole Mister Mxyzptlk's power to create the world in his own image. This is referenced during an interactions with Kitana in Mortal Kombat 11.
Mortal Kombat 11
- The Joker's appearance in Mortal Kombat 11 looks strikingly similar to his voice actor, Richard Epcar.
- During Cassie Cage's Social Media Intro, Cassie Cage will receive a text Cassie saying "Why is Raiden so Serious?", which she responds with "Deep down he's (Joker Card Emoji)". This is a reference to both The Dark Knight and that Raiden's voice actor is also Richard Epcar.
- Similarly, one of Joker's opening interaction with Sonya has him ask her "Why so serious, army girl?"
- One of the Joker's intros has him cutting his thumb with his own knife and then drawing a smile on his face with his own blood, a reference to the film Joker. One of Joker's brutalities is named "Send in The Clowns", a reference to the Stephen Sondheim song featured in the film.
- Joker's Fatal Blow and Birdboy Beatdown moves both reference the murder of Jason Todd in Batman: A Death in the Family.
- Joker's special move, C C D D E G E C, is named after the musical notes that are played in the English nursery rhyme, "Pop! Goes the Weasel". The same notes are played during the move and his Pop Goes The Mortal Fatality.
- Joker's KAPOW special move and applified version, BAM POW ZAP, are references to sound effect title cards in the 1960's Batman TV series.
- Despite various references to the character, the Joker never calls Batman by his official name.
- When interacting with Jade, she mentions Joker nuking of Metropolis, a reference to Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- This is possibly referenced again when interacting with Noob Saibot, where the Joker compares his kill count to Bi-Han's.
- When interacting with Sonya, she claims to have had enough of him the first time. This is a reference to when Sonya and Kano fought Joker and Deathstroke in MKvsDCU.
- Joker asks Sonya if she doesn't like losing in graveyards, though, when they actually fought each other, it was after the four of the characters transported to the Oan Senate.
- When interacting with Nightwolf, the Joker mistakes him Manitou Raven, which lead the Joker to believe that he is an "Apache Chief". This is a reference to the character of the same name from the Hanna-Barbera Superfriends series and his later supporting role in the Adult Swim animated series, Harvey Birdman Attorney at Law.
- When interacting with both Jacqui Briggs and Kotal Kahn, the Joker complements them under allusions to two DC characters (Vixen and Aquaman, respectively). This is a reference to their actors, Megalyn Echikunwoke and Pil LaMarr, portraying the characters in other media, including the Injustice video games.
- During opening interactions with Spawn, Joker will be told "Your Angel of Death awaits..." This is a reference to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, where the titular character says the same line to him.