1992’s Batman: The Animated Series is one of the most influential pieces of comic book media to ever exist. Its dark tone set a new mood for young Batman fans, its epic stories have influenced the comics, and its characters have become iconic. A few of these characters are completely original creations that were made just for the show. The most famous of these characters is, of course, Harley Quinn.
First appearing in the episode Joker’s Favor, Harley was only meant to be one of Joker’s goons. Her popularity grew as she appeared in more and more episodes. Characterized by her colorful outfit, thick Brooklyn accent, and sense of humor, fans fell in love with Harleen.
10 I’m not even a natural blonde.
In the episode Harlequinade, Joker has stolen an atomic bomb, and Batman and Robin desperately team up with Harley Quinn to track him down. After being attack by hyenas and the mob, Harley finally figures out that Joker most likely kidnapped Mayor Hill.
The trio arrives at Hill’s mansion to see Joker standing over a tied up Mayor Hill. Satisfied with her deductive skills, Harley exclaims “Ha! And here you thought I was just another bubble-headed blonde bimbo. Well joke’s on you, I’m not even a real blonde.” This is an interesting quote, as we have never seen Harley’s hair in a different shade.
9 Say hello to your new and improved Harley Quinn
Mad Love may be one of the most important episodes of Batman: TAS. It depicts the first time Harleen Quinzel meets the Joker. As a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Harleen is assigned to psychoanalyze The Joker. The Clown Prince of Crime tells her lies about how his father beat him and implies that Batman is just like him.
Falling for his manipulation, Harleen breaks into a costume store and steals a harlequin outfit. Using an assortment of gag-based weapons, Harleen sneaks into Arkham and breaks The Joker out of his cell. As the smoke clears, she approaches him and says “Knock, Knock Puddin’. Say hello to your new and improved Harley Quinn!”
8 That’s right pigs, and here’s the paddle.
In the episode Harley and Ivy, Joker has kicked Harley out of their hideout, so she decides to go off on her own. Quinn breaks into the Gotham Museum of Natural history to steal the Harlequin Diamond. It’s here that she runs into Poison Ivy. The two team up and go on a crime spree together.
After escaping a police chase, the villainesses are approached by three young men in a car. The men begin to cat-call them. Ivy informs them that that’s not a nice way to get a lady’s attention. One of the hecklers says “What are you gonna do, spank us?” to which Harley replies “That’s right pigs, and here’s the paddle!” Quinn whips out a bazooka and aims it at the adjacent car. The men jump out of the vehicle, narrowly missing the explosion.
7 Don’t you want to rev up your Harley?
In the episode Mad Love, Joker is hard at work drawing up a new plan to trap Batman. As he is writing, Harley approaches, wearing a revealing nightgown. Joker refuses to acknowledge her. She walks closer and climbs onto his desk. Joker only responds “Go away.” Not giving up, Quinn says “Oh c’mon Puddin’. Don’t you wanna rev up your Harley?” and imitates riding a motorcycle.
The joke absolutely went over the heads of many young viewers at the time. Batman: The Animated Series is full of references to mature content that would normally have no place in a children’s show.
6 At what point did my life go Looney Tunes?
After Harley’s failed attempts to seduce “Mista J.” she continues to flirt with him. After one comment too many, Joker kicks Quinn out of the hideout face first. After skidding along the ground, Harley gets up and says “Face it Harl, that stinks. You’re a certified nutso wanted in twelve states and hopelessly in love with a psychopathic clown. At what point did my life go Looney Tunes?”
In a rare moment of lucidity, Harley reflects on her life (and recognizes that the Joker is abusive) and wonders how she got here. She is infatuated with a criminal who has given her nothing in return, except for a ruined life. Sadly, even after this realization, she still feels like she needs to earn his respect.
5 I’m having a bad day!
After Harley was given a clean bill of health at Arkham Asylum, she was allowed to leave the facility and live her life in Gotham. After a misunderstanding about buying a dress, Harley quickly snapped and reverted to her supervillain persona. This lead to an insane chase involving the police, the mob, the military, and Batman.
After Batman corners Harley on a rooftop, she exasperatedly yells “I’m having a bad day! I’m sick of people trying to shoot me, run me over, or blow me up! All I wanted was a new dress and I actually paid for it!”
4 Nice guys like you shouldn’t have bad days.
In the aftermath of Harley’s Holiday, Batman returns Harley Quinn to Arkham Asylum. Defeated, Quinn asks Batman why he was so dedicated to saving her all day when she has given him nothing but trouble. Batman responds “Once, I had a bad day too.” He then hands her the dress she bought earlier. Harley says “Nice guys like you shouldn’t have bad days.” before kissing him.
This scene is so important as it shows that it is possible for Harleen to one day recover from her psychosis. She may not have been ready that day, but she is still capable of rational thought.
3 You’re wrong! My Puddin’ does love me!
In an attempt to impress The Joker, Harley Quinn captured Batman on her own. Batman begins to mock Harley and tells her that Joker doesn’t love anyone except himself. Batman informs her of the multiple stories he has used to manipulate other social workers and psychologists at the Asylum. Just as Harley is about to realize that she is being used, she stands her ground and yells “You’re wrong! My Puddin’ does love me! He does! You’re the problem! And now you’re gonna die and make everything right!”
This quote illustrates how strong of a hold Joker has over Harley. Even when she is presented with evidence of Joker’s apathy, she refuses to believe that they are anything other than soulmates.
2 My fault. I didn’t get the joke.
After Harley calls Joker to inform him of Batman’s capture, he angrily storms into the room and berates her for co-opting his plan. Harley tries to explain herself but this only enrages Joker more. He yells “You always take shots from folks that just don’t get the Joke.” Joker shoves her out a window and she plummets into the ally. Laying on the ground, she mumbles “My fault. I didn’t get the joke.”
Even after Joker slaps her in the face, slews a barrage of verbal abuse at her, and nearly kills her, Harley still holds onto the belief that he really does love her.
1 Never again. No more obsession. No more craziness. No more Joker.
After the events in Mad Love, Harley is taken to Arkham in a full-body cast and a wheelchair. As she is wheeled into her cell, she thinks to herself “Never again. No more obsession. No more craziness. No more Joker. I finally see that slime for what he is. A murderous manipulative, irredeemable-” She looks at her nightstand and sees a flower with a tag that says “Fell better soon – J” Harley finishes her thought with one word “angel.”
Throughout this entire episode, Harley comes so close to seeing the Joker for who he truly is. Unfortunately, she keeps returning to her delusions. Luckily for the audience, they finally get to see Harley’s life without Joker in her new animated series.
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