'Harley Quinn': From 'Mad Love' to 'Suicide Squad', here are 7 interesting versions of Harley's relationship with the Joker

'Harley Quinn': From 'Mad Love' to 'Suicide Squad', here are 7 interesting versions of Harley's relationship with the Joker

The Joker and Harley Quinn, while currently broken up across various media — including the upcoming 'Harley Quinn' show — are nonetheless one of DC's most iconic couples.

Not every story is the same, however, and it's worth taking a look at the most interesting versions of their relationship over the years.

1. Mad Love

'Mad Love' by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (DC Comics)

This is, essentially, the one that started it all. By the creators of Harley Quinn, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, the graphic novel detailed the madcap origins of Harley Quinn and how she fell for the Joker.

A psychologist who fell in love with her compellingly insane patient enough to don a costume and join a life of crime, the story highlights the Joker-Harley relationship as one where the Joker treats Harley like an oft-annoying underling.


While Harley would occasionally show her defiant streak in 'Batman: The Animated Series', she ultimately would continue to be a sidekick to the Joker's nefarious schemes.

2. Main Comics Continuity

Harley Quinn and the Joker. Art by Jimmy Palmiotti. (DC Comics)

When Harley Quinn was introduced to the main comics universe, her origin was left largely unchanged. Inspired heavily by 'Mad Love', Harley’s origin as a psychologist and her subsequent change for the Joker’s approval remains the same.

However, over the years, as Harley's popularity and her status as an anti-hero grew, the demand for a more empowered take on the character grew as well. DC listened, and current comics Harley has broken up with the Joker, calling out years of abusive treatment, while pursuing a romantic relationship with Poison Ivy. 


3. White Knight

Harley Quinn and Harley Quinn, 'Batman: White Knight' by Sean Murphy (DC Comics)

The relationship between the Joker and Harley Quinn is deconstructed in a rather original manner. In the alternate universe 'White Knight' comic, written and drawn by Sean Murphy, the Joker is cured of his madness, allowing his original persona of Jack Napier to surface.

He goes home to find that in his madness, he missed that there were two Harleys — the original, who left the Joker years ago, and Marian Drews, a bank teller who grew obsessed with the Joker and took her place.

There'd a Harley for both versions of the Joker's persona. Marian Drews misses the Joker, while Jack Napier and Harley Quinn develop a relationship of true equals, as they work together to make Gotham a better place, and is the most hopeful take on their relationship thus far.


4. The Batman

Harley Quinn and the Joker in 'The Batman' (WB)

WB's 'The Batman', which debuted in 2004, featured a whole new take on Batman and his entire rogues' gallery, with art styles redesigning characters with highly exaggerated features.

The Harley Quinn and Joker of this world are on more of an equal footing, partners-in-crime as opposed to a villain and his mistreated sidekick. They were a dangerous force together, and served as a great example of how to bring the best out of the Joker-Harley dynamic.

5. Suicide Squad: Jared Leto and Margot Robbie

The Joker (Jared Leto) and Harley Quinn (Margo Robbie) in 'Suicide Squad' (WB)

There are many faults with Jared Leto's performance, the Harley-Joker relationship as portrayed in the movie and, honestly, the movie as a whole, but one thing that can be said is that the Joker does seem to genuinely care about Harley Quinn.

He does not let her jump alone, and the movie ends with him breaking into Arkham Asylum to rescue her. Apparently, though, this is not enough as the upcoming 'Birds of Prey' movie sees Harley post-breakup with the Joker.

6. Arkham Games

The Joker (voiced by Mark Hamill) in 'Batman: Arkham Asylum' (Rocksteady)

'Batman: Arkham Asylum' and its sequels, put a darker twist on Batman and his villains, and Gotham’s most notorious criminal clown couple was no exception.

The classic dynamic and origin took up a more violent twist, with the Joker being crueler to Harley than ever. Sharper eyed gamers could uncover a darker story, as clues that you can discover within the game imply that Harley Quinn was pregnant with the Joker's child until one of the Joker's beatings caused her to lose the baby. 


7. Telltale Games

Joker (Anthony Ingruber) and Harley Quinn (Laura Post) explore a new dynamic in 'Batman: The Enemy Within' (TellTale Games)

The TellTale choice-and-consequence game, 'Batman: The Enemy Within' features a completely flipped Harley/Joker relationship. While Harley was originally a psychologist, she became a criminal for her own reasons.

This version sees the Joker as the henchman, a patient who formed a crush on her, instead of the other way around. Harley's story within the game changes depending on the player's choices, but she retains a commanding, confident temperament throughout.

'Harley Quinn' will arrive on the DC Universe streaming service on Friday, November 29.


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