These days, Harley Quinn is one of the most popular and well-recognized characters in all of pop culture. From cosplayers to casual film fans, everyone is championing Harleen – largely due to the huge boom in popularity seen by the character thanks to David Ayer’s Suicide Squad movie.
For Quinn’s origins, we have to go back to late 1992, when she made her first appearance in the mesmerizing Batman: The Animated Series. Created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm for that beloved cartoon series, it didn’t take long before Harley Quinn was then inserted into the comic book world, making her funny book bow in 1993’s The Batman Adventures #12.
Of course, while Harley has so often been used as a comedic figure or simply The Joker’s main squeeze at times over the subsequent decades, she’s also carried out more than her fair share of truly horrific acts. Many of said acts may be laced with a grandiose, twisted humor, but that still doesn’t take away from just how horrendous and extreme some of these acts have been -- so extreme, in fact, that many parents would likely shriek in terror to hear that this is the same character whom their precious children are often dressing up as for Halloween these days.
With all in that in mind then, let’s take a look at 15 times that Harley Quinn has been far, far too extreme for the masses.
15 Having Her Skin Bleached
With the introduction of DC’s New 52, the comic book juggernaut used this as an opportunity to refresh or recalibrate certain facets of particular characters. For Harley Quinn, this meant a tweak to her origin story.
Until then, we’d seen Harleen Quinzel depicted as an Arkham Asylum staff member who became obsessed with The Joker to such an extent that she ended up as his faithful partner in crime. The main difference to the character in The New 52, though, was that The Joker actually kicked Harley into a vat of acid as part of a more twisted origin for her.
From there, much like her beloved Mr. J, Harley found her skin bleached white. And in a case of delusion, she saw The Joker’s horrendous act as merely a sign of true love.
14 Her "Scene"
With the Suicide Squad enjoying a huge popularity boost in recent years, the Task Force X group were brought to animated life in their own movie with Assault on Arkham. As ever with the villainous team, Harley Quinn was front and center amongst the action – and amongst the bedroom action!
Setting her sights on Deadshot, one scene saw Harley strip naked and wait in bed for him after he’d finished grabbing a shower. Explaining how she has a particular itch that Floyd can help her scratch, the duo is soon exploring each other’s naked torsos.
Climaxing with Quinn screaming “Yahtzee!” bizarrely, this is certainly one part of Harley’s history that many casual fans may find awkward to watch.
13 The Joker’s Throat
The old saying when it comes to marriage is ‘until death do us part,' and that was so very nearly the case for The Joker when he and Harley Quinn decided to marry in the world of Injustice: Gods Among Us.
Following the Jester of Genocide and the Maid of Mischief pulling off the masterplan of having Superman destroy Metropolis and kill the pregnant Lois Lane, the devious duo decide to tie the knot. Unfortunately for Mr. J, he made the mistake of smushing Harley’s face into the wedding cake.
Going maybe just a tad over the top and extreme, Quinn responded by slicing The Joker’s throat. While her Puddin’ would survive this scrape, this was one of the rare times when Harleen was finally pushed to her limit.
12 Her Ex-Boyfriend
When many people think of Harley Quinn’s origins, they often think of the charming tale told in Batman: The Animated Series, in which she was an Arkham doctor who became obsessed with – and won over by – The Joker. Fast forward to the 2000s, and we’d hear a lot more eerie details about all of this.
In the Harley Quinn title that ran until 2003, readers saw it explained that it was actually the suicide of her partner Guy Kopski that initially plunged Harleen Quinzel toward a life of madness and extremism. Feeling lost and distraught, somehow, Quinzel channeled this loss in a way that saw her become fascinated with the Jester of Genocide, hence, why when she was working at Arkham, Harleen was so susceptible to Mr. J’s charms.
11 Helping Topple The Man Of Steel
The Injustice: Gods Among Us game and its sequel are huge favorites of many a DC fan, as, too, are the respective prequel comics to each game. In the prequel comic for the first game, we all got to see how The Joker managed to get Superman to completely snap and turn the world completely upside down. Not only was the Clown Prince of Crime involved in this, though, for Harley Quinn, too, had her part to play in this grandest of plans.
For those not well versed with Injustice, we got to see The Joker fool the Man of Steel into killing the pregnant Lois Lane and destroying Metropolis. Pretty heavy stuff, right?
Harley’s part in this was that she helped insert an implant that would cause a nuclear bomb to go off should Lois’s heart stop. After The Joker and Harleen manage to dupe Supes into thinking that his beloved Lois Lane is Doomsday, the Boy Scout kills Doomsday – which, of course, is really Lois… meaning Superman kills Lois Lane, in turn wiping out Metropolis.
In his rage, Kal-El would kill The Joker before unleashing his wrath on the world.
10 Ending Her Entire Family
While it may technically have taken part during one of DC’s Elseworld stories, Harley Quinn killing her entire family is one of the most twisted and shocking things that the Maid of Mischief has ever done.
This all took place during the Thrillkiller tale in which Harley was actually a schoolgirl known as "Hayley Fitzpatrick." In this alternate realm, The Joker is a female called "Bianca," and young Hayley is obsessed with this supervillain. When her own personal hero is killed at the hands of Batgirl, Hayley decides to deal out some sort of twisted revenge by massacring her own family. In terms of getting revenge on Batgirl, carrying out such a disturbing act didn’t exactly make any sense – but then again, since when did Harley Quinn ever really make any sense, regardless of what world or alternative world she was from?
9 In The Joker’s Crosshairs
One of the biggest issues many often have with how Harley Quinn is portrayed is how she’s so often abused by The Joker – made even worse by how some people actually enjoy seeing Quinn belittled, sexualized or shown as the victim of an abusive relationship. Back in 2007’s Batman #663, though, the penny finally seemed to drop for Harley.
In that issue, readers saw Harleen finally realize the sad truth about how her beloved Puddin’ really viewed her. After helping Mr. J wipe out some of his villainous competitors, the Maid of Mischief realized that the next part of The Joker’s plan was to kill her.
Luckily for Harley Quinn, Batman would arrive to save the day. Even then, though, Harley did her best to convince herself that The Joker really did care about her. Arriving at the tragic realization of the matter, Quinzel eventually shot her other half through his shoulder and left him for the World’s Greatest Detective to deal with.
8 Ends A Bunch Of Kids Via Video Games
After being shunted by both her beloved Joker and then the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn decides that she’s going to put in place one of her most extreme and twisted schemes yet.
To do this, she decides to give out free video games to kids. Nice gesture, right? Well, not quite. The catch? That’d be that each game is actually an explosive set to detonate on Quinn’s orders.
As the tale in Detective Comics #23.2 comes to a head, we see Harley Quinn actually having a change of heart. Thinking that maybe her plan is too extreme, even by her standards, readers are teased that Harleen isn’t going to go through with the scheme as she stands pensively on one of Gotham’s many rooftops. Shocking us all, she then simply gives the okay as we see a whole heap of small explosions dot the Gotham City skyline.
7 Helps Out Terrorists
While this one is indeed an extreme act, it’s hard to fully blame Harley Quinn here.
In Suicide Squad #12, we see the Task Force X lot battling a group of no-good extremists who are essentially a comic-book take on ISIS. As in, yes, that ISIS. This group is headed up by the League of Assassins and sees child soldiers trained up to carry out all kinds of heinous acts in order to take over the Middle East.
After Harley is taken prisoner by this group, she finds herself locked up alongside some kidnapped children who are being groomed to become terrorist soldiers. Even though Quinn makes friends with these troubled youngsters, it’s actually she who ultimately turns them into brutal killers. You see, the Maid of Mischief’s bloody, violent escape is what triggers the completion of these children’s murderous training.
6 Torturing The Boy Wonder
When it comes to extreme, heinous actions, it doesn’t get much more messed up than torturing a young child. And that’s exactly what was seen in the brilliant-yet-disturbing Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker animated movie.
After the Jester of Genocide shockingly reappears in the future-set landscape of the Batman Beyond show, the mystery surrounding his return unravels to see it revealed that Tim Drake – aka the third Robin – killed Mr. J way back when. As this is explained to the audience, we see some flashback scenes where Tim is kidnapped by The Joker and Harley Quinn is then tortured and brainwashed for weeks on end in an attempt to turn him into a mini Joker dubbed "Joker Boy."
Despite Batman and Batgirl eventually rescuing Robin after searching for him for weeks on end, that still doesn’t make it any less disturbing that Harleen helped torture a child.
5 Stealing The Joker’s Face
After an ominous leave of absence while DC’s New 52 was launched, when The Joker finally made his long-awaited return, it was certainly an eerie, sinister one. Why’s that, you ask? Oh, well... how about because he’d actually had his face cut off!
Harley Quinn couldn’t resist the urge to break into the GCPD headquarters and steal the Jester of Genocide’s severed face for herself. But that wasn’t the truly messed-up part, for the Maid of Mischief would then place the face on a tied-up Deadshot before having a crazed conversation with “The Joker” in a move that would have even Gotham’s most twisted villains wincing in disgust.
Sadly for Harleen, the ever-resourceful Deadshot would lure her in close enough that he was able to fire off several bullets to take her down.
4 She’s Just One Of Many Harleys
Despite countless, countless accounts of brutality toward her from The Joker, Harley Quinn is usually laser-focused on her Puddin’ and is prepared to cheerily smile her way through whatever devious acts Mr. J carries out. When the Harlequin of Hate returned to action during The New 52, though, The Joker was absolutely hideous to Harley in a way rarely seen before.
If punching her square in the face upon being reunited with Quinn wasn’t bad enough, poor Harley was then tied up and tortured. But still, that wasn’t the worst part of all of this. No, the worst part was that The Joker had the Maid of Mischief surrounded by skeletons of what he revealed to be the previous Harley Quinns. You guessed it – it turns out that the Jester of Genocide has had previous Harleys at his side before, and Harleen Quinzel will not be the last person to take on the Harley Quinn mantle.
3 Readers Take Things To The Extreme
Comic book fans are often so passionate about their favorite – and least favorite – heroes and villains, and so many jumped at the chance to draw Harley Quinn in a variety of situations as part of DC’s Break into Comics competitions.
To make things extremely messed up from the get-go, the premise of the competition was to draw Harley in four varying suicide scenarios. And starting this competition remarkably close to National Suicide Prevention Week was yet another boneheaded, distasteful decision from DC Comics regarding this whole concept.
The final element of the comp was that entrants had to draw Harley in a bathtub ahead of taking her final moments amongst the living. This whole thing stunk of bad taste, and some of the entry images out there online are absolutely vile -- to such an extent, even several artists drew their own images (as included here) as a direct backlash to this idea.
2 Harley Pulls Inspiration From Leatherface
As part of 2015’s Justice League: Gods and Monsters animated movie, a Gods and Monsters Chronicles web series was released to accompany the film and to showcase alternative takes on several familiar heroes and villains. And yes, one such character to get tweaked was none other than Harley Quinn.
Going by the moniker of Harleyquin, this take on Harleen was all kinds of demented to the point that she actually pulled inspiration and influence from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre’s infamous Leatherface. By that, I mean that Quinn was depicted as kidnapping, mutilating, and killing numerous people before turning them into bona fide dolls to be put on display.
In addition to these twisted antics, Harley was also given a grim, demented new look to add even more to the chilling, eerie factor.
1 Her Joker-Fathered Daughter
Arguably the most heartbreaking moment in the history of Harley Quinn is the shocking reveal that she has a daughter! Not only that, but the four-year-old young girl is the daughter of none other than The Joker.
This was all revealed during Injustice: Gods Among Us – Year 2, which is where we saw Harleen drop the bombshell to Black Canary while the pair were fighting. At realizing that Canary herself was actually pregnant, Quinn immediately stopped the fight before then explaining how she has a daughter of her own. Oh, and another kicker was that the Clown Prince of Crime had been completely kept in the dark about the whole situation.
Yet again, despite the immense personal trauma she’s suffering, Harley Quinn once more puts her Puddin’ before her – even though The Joker didn’t even miss her while she vanished for a year to give birth!
Sources: DC Comics, Warner Brothers, Wikipedia
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