Harley Quinn, Through The Years



“Love makes us do crazy things. And for the bubbly and psychotic Harley Quinn, that includes dressing in costume, becoming a super-villain, carrying gag-themed weaponry, and murdering countless civilians—all just to put a smile on her Puddin’s face.”


Harley Quinn has become a fixture in pop culture over the course of the last year because of her starring in the Suicide Squad movie. She quickly blew up and her popularity reached new heights it had never seen before. (She had a large fan base before the movie.) Even though many have just heard of her for the first time, Harley Quinn has been with us since the 90’s. Ever since then, she has undergone multiple changes in costume, personality, and partnerships.

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Batman: The Animated Series (Animated Television Series) (1992) 

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Harley Quinn was first introduced in the highly acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series in 1992 in the episode “Joker’s Favor,” voiced by Arleen Sorkin. She was originally supposed to be just a “walk-on” role but, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, her creator’s, decided to keep her on the show as the Joker’s female sidekick.

According to the show, Harley Quinn was the Joker’s psychiatrist, but she fell in love with him and broke him out of the asylum where they held sessions. Her name was Harleen Quinzel, but upon assuming her new identity as the Joker’s girlfriend, she gave herself a new name. (A play on the word Harlequin)

Joker and Harley

Here, Harley is very bubbly and psychotic. She is very smart, witty, and clever. Her main weapons of choice are either, her infamous cork gun Image result for harley quinn batman animated series or her giant mallet. Harley’s career as the Joker’s sidekick consisted mostly of her being where he could not. He used her less recognizable face to get into places he could not so he wouldn’t get arrested, and she was also usually a sort of field leader to Joker’s henchmen when Joker himself decided to sit out on whatever they were doing. She was trusted with the intimate details of most of his plans, and as stated earlier, was also often betrayed by Joker when he needed a scapegoat.

“Ever since the beginning of her relationship with the Joker, Harley has played a very submissive role. She has often been used and abused by the Joker to the point where her life has been threatened on several occasions. Yet she remains faithful to her man and stands by him when things go wrong. Quinn’s relationship with the Joker is one of the most complex and twisted love affairs in comics. As with all people, Joker is abusive and manipulative towards Harley, but just as often there’s evidence of camaraderie, playfulness, and affection towards her. She’s the only person who’s managed to become intimate on such a long term basis with the Joker and, while he generally accepts their relationship, we even see the Joker’s occasional moments of confusion and discomfort which results in attempts to kill her.” But no matter how much pain he causes her, she always comes back to him, even when she leaves she always gets back with him.

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On one occasion, in an attempt to be with the Joker forever, Harley captured Batman. (Something the Joker has never been able to do.) She used one of the Joker’s old plans to tie him up and suspend him over piranhas. Upon hearing of this, the Joker became infuriated with Harley, revealing that he wants to be the one to kill Batman. Out of frustration, he shoves her out of a window.

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This version is the classic, original, and definitive version of Harley Quinn. It is her most popular origin story and it is a fan-favorite. 

Harley Quinn (Comic Book Series) (2000-2004) [Spoilers]

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Back in 2000, Harley got her own solo comic series. It follows Harley on her journey to become more independent and self-sufficient. This is important in her timeline because we get to see how smart and competent she could be. We also see Harley out-smart the Joker on countless occasions.

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Gotham City Sirens (Comic Book Series) (2009-2011) [Spoilers]

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Gotham City Sirens is a comic-book series featuring Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Catwoman all living together. The three girls live together and all go on adventures. This one of the two most infamous team affiliations of Harley Quinn.

This version follows the Batman: Animated Series story lines and picks up with Harley and her best friend Poison Ivy moving in with Catwoman. Harley is still the same as she was in the animated series except here, she is more independent. She still relies on her friends a lot but for the first time, we get to see Harley make some of her own decisions.


Ivy and Catwoman try to constantly remind Harley about how evil and abusive the Joker is and the try to keep her from going back to him. In the climax of the story, however, she eventually goes back him. 


Harley devised a whole plan to kill the Joker for everything he put her through and executed it all by herself with the knowledge from her past stints at the asylum. 


Every single point in her plan went just as expected, except for one. She came to the very end of her plan. All she had left to do was kill the Joker and she realized as soon as she saw him, he was her trump card. She described each phase of the plan as everyone’s weak spot or trump card.



Batman: Arkham (Video Game Franchise) (2009-2016) [Spoilers]


This version of Harley Quinn is based in a video game franchise, a highly acclaimed video game franchise I might add. Here, we see Harley’s first major costume change in the game Batman: Arkham Asylum. She ditches her classic red and black skin-tight jumpsuit for a short and bloodied nurse’s outfit with a corset. She trades her signature jester hat for blond pigtails but retains her white clown makeup look. She wears thigh high boots with fishnet stockings. In this game, she is voiced by her original voice actress Arleen Sorkin.

Many noted the drastic change of clothing in Harley. She was literally always covered from head to toe, except when she took off her costume. It was somewhat of a welcome change. Harley still retained her same values and quirks and all that had changed was her appearance and it wasn’t an awful one.

The game’s story was written by Paul Dini, one of Harley’s creators. Harley is still with  the Joker and together, they take over the asylum. Harley carries out tasks throughout the asylum that the Joker cannot get to. (As said above) When she fails at killing Batman, the Joker isolates her from him and she goes to attack Batman. Batman locks her in a cell and she exclaims that Joker will save her.


Harley’s appearance once again changed in the next Batman: Arkham game. Here, we are first introduced to her now infamous dip dye hair colors. Yes, colors with an S. This is where the 2016 live-action film Suicide Squad Harley Quinn got her hair from. She keeps her corset, thigh high boots, and pigtails from Asylum. She still keeps her original color scheme of black and red from the animated series. She also got a new voice actress, Tara Strong. 

In this game, the Joker is suffering from an illness and is dying. “Harley is much more in control in this game, as Joker’s illness prevents him from being the powerful gang leader that he was before. She is much more temperamental and vicious, as shown with her new edgy biker-themed outfit.” When the Joker ultimately dies from his illness, a heartbroken Quinn crumbles as Batman carries her lover’s corpse out of Arkham City.


In an expansion pack, which takes place after the Joker’s death, Harley dyes her hair black and wears a veil in morning attempts to kill Batman with some of the Joker’s henchman.


“In the sequel to Arkham City (with Tara Strong once again reprising her role) Harley has now become a competent gang leader following the Joker’s death. She allies herself with the Scarecrow as part of the villain’s plot to kill Batman once and for all but breaks away from the plan to save three people infected with the Joker’s blood (as she believes they could become new Jokers). The infected victims are killed, leaving Harley to mourn their loss as she is arrested by Robin.”

New 52 Suicide Squad (Comic Book Series) (2011)

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In 2009, Harley Quinn joined the Gotham City Sirens, and people loved it. Later, in 2011, Harley Quinn joined the Suicide Squad, and people did not love it.

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This was a very different change of pace for Harley. She got a new outfit, personality, color scheme, origin, relationship, Harley Quinn was totally revamped. Needless to say, this new change shocked many fans. They felt that Harley had sacrificed her “quirky clown” persona for sex appeal. She ditched the original black and red color scheme and now dons red and blue, possibly patriotic, she showed quite a bit amount of skin (not accurately represented in this picture), she became noticeably darker, not showing any remorse for killing and being gleeful at the site of it, and had a minor, random, and some could same unnecessary “fling” with fellow Squad member Deadshot. Up until now, Harley had never been romantic with anyone but the Joker.

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Her origin story was altered also. Not too, too much but, again, a noticeable amount. She still was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum and freed the Joker but in order to make her more like himself, the Joker threw her into the same vat of chemicals that bleached his skin, permanently dyed his hair, and warped his mind. Harley always used professional paint to paint her face white like the Joker but now, her entire body was bleached to an “unnatural” white. Her hair was also dyed half blue, half red, and her mind was warped as well.

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New 52 New Suicide Squad (Comic Book Series) (2014)

Harley stays on the for the New Suicide Squad and is virtually the same, except she dons a cape now. Joker’s Daughter (a woman who found the Joker’s cut off face in a river and sewed it to her face and injected herself with his blood) has been drafted into the new Suicide Squad, to the dismay of Harley and the two have won’t out the whole time. Here, Harley does not see the Joker romantically at all. In fact, she is repulsed by him. She tries to convince Joker’s Daughter (she is not his daughter) her to not obsess over him. When she refuses, Harley shoves her out a window and throws her in front of a moving car insisting she helping her.

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Injustice (Video Game) (2013) [Spoilers]

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Harley has been featured in numerous video games but, she has not always been the main character or a fighter, here, she is the latter. Harley Quinn is a featured fighter in Injustice. Harley Quinn was considered as a DLC fighter for Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, alongside Mortal Kombat’s Quan Chi, but these plans were discarded following Midway’s bankruptcy.  

The game revolves around two universes or worlds with same characters but alternate. The first world’s Harley is like the original Harley, bubbly and following the Joker. In the alternate universe depicted in the game, Quinn establishes the Joker Clan to honor the Clown Prince after he is murdered by Superman. 

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This game is significant in Harley’s history because, for the first time, she kills the Joker for what he has done. 

New 52 Harley Quinn (Comic Book Series) (2014-2016)

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Harley Quinn got her own solo comic book series again in 2014. She lives in Coney Island where she is a landlord and goes by Harleen Quinzel for her new psychiatrist job at a nursing home and Harley Quinn on a roller Derby team. Her outfits follow the New 52 Suicide Squad comic outfits just less provocative and now she follows her original color scheme of Red and Black with diamonds.

Rebirth Harley Quinn (Comic Book Series) (2016)

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Two days before Suicide Squad was released to theaters, Harley got another comic book series. This Harley continues on the story-line of the New 52 comic series. This Harley’s costume is based on the Suicide Squad film’s outfit. She wears hot pants, dip-dyed hair, and has a tattoo of a diamond on her cheek.

Suicide Squad [Film] (2016)

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This was the movie that really put Harley Quinn on the map. This was the movie that made Harley Quinn the most popular Halloween costume of 2016. This movie was huge, anticipated, and polarizing.

Here, Harley Quinn is portrayed by Australian actress Margot Robbie. Her performance was genuinely praised by many despite the movie receiving negative reviews. Paul Dini, one of Harley’s creators said that Robbie “nailed it.”

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Harley received a new costume for this movie. It was not as controversial as the Suicide Squad comic book outfits however. Harley dons a baseball tee with the words “Daddy’s Little Monster” that is tattered and ripped. The sleeves are red and blue, like the Suicide Squad Harley Quinn color scheme. She sports hot pants that are half blue and half red and a letterman jacket that reads “Property of Joker.” Her hair is put up into a ponytail and is dip dyed pink on one side and red on the other. She has acquired quite a few tattoos also. She has a heart on her right cheek, the word “Rotten” above her right jawline, and much more.

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“She did these herself in prison,” Robbie says about Harley Quinn’s various Joker-themed tattoos in the on-set interview with Yahoo! Movies UK. “They’re stick and poke tattoos, prison-style tattoos, that you do when you don’t have a tattoo gun. She did them herself out of boredom and desperation.” As for the actual design of Harley Quinn’s tattoos, Robbie says, “There’s ‘I Heart Puddin,’ a Joker face, a love heart…that’s obviously reflective of her time in prison.” She also has “Lucky You” inked on her lower abdomen, “Ha Ha Ha” inked on her leg, and a series of red and black diamonds reminiscent of the iconic harlequin costume the character originally wore.” (MARGOT ROBBIE REVEALS ORIGIN OF HARLEY QUINN’S TATTOOS IN ‘SUICIDE SQUAD’)

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In the movie, Harley is very psychotic, bubbly, and oblivious to others around her. (She talks to herself and gets dressed in front of people) She laughs whenever her fellow squad member dies and beats dead corpses for pleasure.

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Work Cited

“Harley Quinn.” DC. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2016.

Vine, @Comic. “Harley Quinn (Character) – Comic Vine.” Comic Vine. N.p., n.d. Web. 04                    Dec. 2016.


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