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Quote1 Don't listen to him Harley--You're not helpless! The truth is he's scared of you! That's why he always kept you at a distance, because you saw the things he was most ashamed of--His humanity and his compassion. And that's how you beat him, by turning it against him! You surpassed everything the Joker ever did--He sat by helplessly while you overturned Gotham and Batman in ways he never could. He's humiliated! His greatest enemy isn't me and it isn't Batman--It's you! Quote2
Jack Napier src

Harley Quinn was Jack Napier's girlfriend and, later, estranged wife.

Becoming Harley Quinn

Harleen Quinzel first met Jack Napier when she was working as a go-go dancer to pay for medical school; this would also be the day she met the Batman. Batman warned her that Napier is a criminal, but she had already begun falling for his humor and kindness.[2] The two began dating and things went well; she jokingly nicknamed him "Puddin'" after a date to an amusement park, and he gave her two hyena pups as graduation gifts. Jack occasionally had strange and violent fits of laughter, but these were manageable.

In order to better manage Jack's health, Harleen began analyzing him in a report she later published in a medical journal, which Batman noted as impressively insightful. However, Jack was convinced that she only moved in with him to monitor him as a subject, and disappeared in fury. After some time, Batman confronted her and insisted that she approach him as a patient rather than a boyfriend in order to help him properly.[3] Heeding his advice, Harleen withheld her connection to Jack and earned a place on the Arkham staff where she excelled, earning a promotion in mere months. Batman praised her work and insisted that she was better off without Napier, although she continued to wait for him to be checked into Arkham because she believed that he was not better off without her.[4]

Sometime later, Harleen finally caught a lead about Jack while monitoring police scanners, suited up in a red-and-black disguise, and found him laughing and beating a man nearly to death while doing his work. Batman arrived to apprehend him and in the ensuing fight, Jack accidentally fell into a vat of chemicals down below, causing strange changes within him. After Batman rescued him, Jack yelled for Harleen to stay away to protect herself and her future. Harleen would come to believe that Batman never knew she was there that night, but he always had; he never turned her in because he trusted her to do what was best.[5]

Batman Curse of the White Knight Variant E

A new identity.

When Jack was admitted to the hospital, Harleen pretended to be his psychiatrist in order to gain access, where he stated that his name is not Jack, but "Joker". He spoke of Jack as if he were another person -- and unlike Jack, "Joker" saw the potential of having Harleen around. He played a card trick for her, and she later found that he had written on the card "Don't give up on me." On her way home, she saw a harlequin costume in a Halloween shop and became resolute.[6] She would become the Joker's partner and was eventually dubbed Harley Quinn.

For years, she and the Joker would commit crimes around Gotham and she would embrace her wild side, although Batman noticed that she covertly reigned in the Joker's behavior.[7] Things eventually began to deteriorate as the Joker developed an obsession with Batman and became more violent against the citizens of Gotham -- and Harley herself. He manipulated her into staying by pretending that she had a chance to save Jack, but things came to a head after the Joker kidnapped and tortured Jason Todd, the young sidekick of Batman going by "Robin". Disgusted and finally convinced that there was no saving Jack, Harley broke up with him and alerted Batman to their location; however, Jason was nowhere to be found by the time he arrived, having used the opportunity to run away for good. After this incident, Batman stopped speaking to Harley.[8]

White Knight

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Harley and her impersonator.

After Harley left, another girl snuck her way into the Joker's life by pretending to be her, imitating the Harley Quinn persona; the Joker didn't even notice the difference. Years later, after Jack Napier's curing of his insanity (using medications the real Harley had secretly created[9]), he returned to the fake Harley and proposed to her, leaving her bemused. The real Harley returned, ousted the fake, and explained her reasons for leaving to a guilt-ridden Napier, before joining him in his crusade: to become a hero of "the 99%" and to destroy Batman by vilifying him in the public eye.[8]

Through a campaign of exposing Batman's devastating effect on small communities, they earned the support of Gotham community hero Duke Thomas; after their successes, Harley and Jack spent a romantic evening together and became engaged.[10] Harley was later visited by Batman for the first time since Jason's disappearance, believing that Napier's plan was a Joker façade and imploring her to stop him as she once had. Although Harley never hated Batman and believed him to be truly good, she also believed that he doesn't always know what's best for Gotham and chose to stand by Jack's mission, causing him to leave in anger.

When her impersonator, now going by "Neo Joker", staged a dangerous plot to freeze Gotham in order to coax the Joker back out of Jack, Harley agreed that they do need Batman's help; Jack's medicine began to fail and he concurred. Batman, Harley, Jack, and Gotham's new Gotham Terrorist Operation (GTO) group led an assault against Neo Joker and the mind-controlled supervillains she had amassed. As Jack slowly lost control of himself, Harley shared a final tender moment with him as he thanked her for believing in his ability to do something good and important. After the team's success, Jack surrendered himself back to Arkham. He and Harley were wed in a short ceremony witnessed by Batman and Commissioner Gordon and as soon as the vows finished, Joker finally took over Jack, seemingly for good.

In the aftermath, Harley released Jack's recorded statement admitting to everything he had done. Batman confronted her alone, having discovered that she had masterminded Jack's recovery and his entire plan. She explained that Batman and the Joker were at a dangerous stalemate; someone needed to break it before it destroyed the city, and it had to be her because she was the only person in the world who truly understood them both. She also wanted to give the world a chance to know Jack, and what he was truly like when his madness was not taking over.[9] Sometime later, she discovered that she was pregnant, though she did not tell Joker.[11]

Azrael's Crusade

As time went by, Joker went back to his schemes while Harley prepared for the birth of her children. When Joker was arrested after exposing Batgirl's identity on live television, Batman approached Harley for help; to her shock, he revealed his identity as Bruce Wayne and implored her to trust him. She accompanied him to question Joker hoping the shock of discovering his fatherhood would coax Jack out, but he simply insulted and threatened her, infuriating Batman; the two instead focused their attentions on Arkham, which Joker claimed contained a "joke" that would change the Wayne family. While they found indecipherable words scrawled in blood on a wall and the corpse of who they believed was a victim of Edmond Wayne, they were unsure of what the "joke" must be. As they mused on it, Harley went into labor early and Batman helped deliver the children, a healthy girl and boy named Jackie and Bryce.[12][1]

When she was back on her feet, Bruce convinced her to try to get through to Jack one last time to discover the connection between Joker and Azrael, a religious militant vigilante. The plan works, and Jack managed to help her uncover both Azrael's location and the "joke" -- the truth that the modern Wayne family since the 1600s are not actually Waynes; they are actually descendants of Bakkar, a rogue religious crusader who had killed Edmond Wayne and stole his identity. Harley withheld this information from Bruce because she knew it would tear him apart.[13][14]

When Azrael freed Joker from prison, Harley was injured in the attack and Joker kidnapped their children. She demanded to go with Batman to confront the Joker, furiously explaining that she never wanted to be involved and only did so to help Batman, who she has come to care for.[13] Outfitted with her old Harley Quinn getup and a GTO bulletproof vest, the duo headed out to rescue the babies, whom they feared Joker is willing to kill in order to make Jack give up on resurfacing. Jack managed to fight it off enough to get the twins safely back into Harley's hands, but Joker escaped and at last told the "joke" to Batman, additionally revealing that Azrael is the real descendant of the original Waynes. Harley managed to fight Azrael off of Bruce and with no other choice, fatally shot Joker. Reverting in his last moments, Jack died holding Harley and Bruce's hands.

Back at the Batcave, Harley told Bruce that if he trusted Gotham, the people would embrace him as they once did for Jack, and promised that she would be there for him. Bruce took her advice and revealed his identity to the world as he implored them to help locate Azrael, to stop him before he floods Gotham to restart it anew as Bakkar did centuries ago. When the mission was completed and Bruce turned himself in to serve prison time for his actions as Batman, Harley tried to hijack the police car and free him, as she didn't want to lose him. Bruce thanked her for saving his soul, and she told him that he had done the same for her; she gave up on the attempt and let him go, as he promised her that if she ever needed anything, she could visit him.

The Golden Age Murders

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Harley with her children.

Over the next two years, Harley settled down to raise Jackie and Bryce with help from Leslie Thompkins, who came to be seen as the children's surrogate grandmother. She frequently spent time with Bruce in prison during his visiting hours, and had her children send him Valentine's Day cards; she initially intended to send him one from herself, but decided to keep it.[2][7]

Harley was approached by Duke, who had joined the GCPD, to assist the GTO with a case on "Starlet", a serial killer targeting elderly Golden Age actors. Despite needing the money, she was initially reluctant to go back to a life surrounded by criminals -- even from the other side of the glass -- due to fear that she would not be strong enough. Spurred on by Bruce's belief in her strength, she accepted and was introduced to Dr. Hector Quimby, an FBI psychiatrist on the case who was fascinated with her and the Joker's cases. She and Dr. Quimby received word that a famous actor managed to escape the serial killer, and it was noted that the bolo knives used in the attempt are similar to the ones used by the Golden Age actress Sofia Valentine, who turned out to be Quimby's estranged mother.

Although initially concerned that Quimby withheld his connection to the case, Harley realized that his situation is not much different from when she lied about knowing Jack so she could help at Arkham. Harley and the GTO visited his childhood home in order to question Sofia and find that he had been obsessed with Harley Quinn since childhood. It later became evident that a new villain dubbed "The Producer" was attempting to create a network of supervillains and heroes like Starlet that he would control like an agent managing actors, with both Harley and Hector on the shortlist.[5] They also discovered that Starlet is Hector's former nanny Ethel, a failed actress who developed obsessive, romantic feelings for him and resented his mother for abusing them both. Starlet tried to goad Hector into killing Harley so that she would be the only woman in his life, but he was mortified by what she had become and rejected her.

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Harley in a stealth suit made by Batman.

Driven by jealousy, Starlet rigged Harley's townhome to explode with her and her family still inside; the twins survived, but one of the hyenas was killed rescuing them.[6] Worried that Harley's desire for revenge would compromise the operation, Commissioner Montoya had Harley benched for Starlet and The Producer's "final act", which was to attack an awards ceremony honoring Sofia; but with the help of Bruce who had snuck out of prison to save her, she managed to sneak in just as Starlet made her move. During the fight with Starlet, Quimby was accidentally struck and killed by one of her bolo knives; Harley avenged him by taking out and arresting the grief-stricken but remorseless Starlet.

Harley was offered a permanent job on the GTO as their criminal profiler but, rocked by two deaths and the loss of her home in one night, was unsure whether to accept. She was also given the keys to live in Bruce's home, where he had left a gift of a hyena pup and a letter stating: "Welcome home. I know Gotham is in good hands. Love, Bats. P.S. Can't wait to see what you name her."[15]


Other Characteristics

  • Even after her return to civilian life, Harleen prefers to go by Harley Quinn rather than her birth name.[2]
  • Harleen considered Bruce Wayne her best friend.[7]
  • Batman once bought Harley a dress after what she calls "Vreeland incident" - a reference to the "Harley's Holiday" episode of Batman: The Animated Series, where Harley has trouble adjusting to civilian life and spirals into actually committing a crime after she incorrectly believes store security is accusing her of stealing a dress. Understanding that she was trying her best, Batman consoles her by buying her the dress, earning a kiss from her.[6]



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