The page for the comic series spotlighting everyone's favorite Canon Immigrant
and Perky Female Minion
, Dr. Harleen Quinzel, also known as Harley Quinn!
The first series lasted for 38 issues, from December 2000 to January 2004, plus a special tying in with the Our Worlds At War
event, with the complete run collected in graphic novels. Initially it was written by Karl Kesel, with A. J. Lieberman taking over for the last year or so.
The series begins when, after a failed scheme, The Joker
gets so pissed at Harley that he kicks her out of his gang - the rest of the series deals with Harley trying to make it on her own. Initially she tries freelance henching, but that doesn't exactly work out, so she starts her own gang instead. With... mixed results.
A running theme in the first part is Harley's childlike inability to take responsibility for her own actions, or even acknowledge/realize any consequences besides her having fun, which reaches Tear Jerker
levels at times, though the comic itself is more than a little madcap. Also heavily involved is Harley's love of Love
, and her being willing to do pretty much anything in the name of it.
The last set of storylines, following the change in writers, happen after a time skip and feature a noticeable Genre Shift
to a more noirish style, downplaying Harley's cheery quirks and madcap adventures and instead playing her more like a jaded expy of Catwoman
. This did not last.
In true tradition of the Batman side-comics, the Caped Crusader himself does not appear very often, nor, interestingly enough, does the Joker beyond the first issue or so.
Note that the title character predates this series. She had debuted in Batman: The Animated Series
during 1992. Her first comic book appearance was in The Batman Adventures
#12 (September, 1993). Her introduction to the mainstream DC universe took place in the one-shot Batman: Harley Quinn
Harley got a second series in the New 52
, which debuted in November 2013, and has had a number of specials. It's written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner of Power Girl
fame, and follows Harley and her antics on Coney Island after she inherits an apartment complex there. As of this writing, it is DC's highest-selling comic book with a female lead.Note: This isn't a character page.
This page is about Harley's solo series and the character/plot tropes therein. For character tropes that appear in the DCU as a whole (and/or appearing elsewhere, but not
these series), see her character page here.
These Series Contain Examples Of:
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Pre-New 52 series
- Aesop Amnesia: A major lesson Harley learns in the series is that she doesn't need the Joker in her life. Unfortunately, at some point between the end of the series and her next appearance in the comics, Joker must have gotten to her again, which is sadly very in character.
- Alleged Lookalikes: In-Universe. The third issue has a man who says he can never hold down a job because he looks just like...The Joker (Harley had guessed Al Gore with a bad haircut). He doesn't and is clearly delusional, eventually leading to his own death out of sheer idiocy.
- Anti-Villain / Anti-Hero: Harley, who fluctuates between a good-hearted villain and devious but heroic very rapidly. Sometimes in the same issue.
- Art Shift: Several times in the first part of the series the art shifts to a sort of "Harleyvision," which shows the world how she sees it: rendered in more cartoony version of the DCAU style, where nobody dies and everything plays out like a Looney Tunes cartoon. This becomes harrowing at times, such as when Harley blows up a traitorous minion and we see, in Harleyvision, a Looney Tunes-esque scene where the woman's face is covered in soot, her hair is frizzy, and her eyes are swirled like a stunned cartoon character after an explosion... and then later someone runs through the same hallway and we instead see the truth: the minion's mangled corpse.
- Bad Boss: Harley runs into this twice - with Joker and Two-Face. She herself kills several of her minions, but only after they betray her, with one notable exception.
- Bi the Way: True to form, this series has a long stretch of time with Harley and Ivy being very... close roommates, this time in Metropolis. Amusingly, at the same time Harley - in disguise as a mild mannered reporter - has a semi-fictitious relationship with Jimmy Olsen.
- Blondes Are Evil: Though not naturally.
- Bound and Gagged: Happens several times to Thorn after she is defeated by Harley and Ivy. Also happens to Sasha Bordeaux, Agent Chispazo, and a number of other characters.
- Bunny Ears Psychologist - Harley, in spades. She barely ever acts like anything but an unrestrained loon, but occasionally she makes it known that she's still a university-educated psychologist. Later in the series, after she mostly loses the "bunny ears," she gets a day job in the field and takes a few patients (one or two of which want to kill her).
- Canon Immigrant: Harley, from Batman: The Animated Series: while she appeared in the comics before this, this was where she came into her own and got a lot of character establishment.
- Children Are Innocent: With Harley as a (wo)manchild rather than a regular one. She is, however, widely regarded by others as being extremely innocent, of the "not aware of doing evil" variety, just, in her mind, having fun - this does, however, involve a laundry list of psychologically stunted systems of denial. She sees the world like a game of make-believe, and is oblivious to the fact that she is hurting people and doesn't truly acknowledge the danger of what she does or other people's danger to her - though she in more lucid moments claims this is less innocence and more a rejecting of the world in favor of her own reality.
- Innocence Lost: A major plot point in the second half, involving Harley herself, who realizes what kind of person she truly is and fully, if sadly, embraces it, and a girl she kidnapped, who loses her sight thanks to Harley's greed. Inverted with the girl in question, who regains a bit of her innocence after being free of everyone pursuing her (now that she doesn't have what they want anymore) to the point that she pities people like Harley.
- Clark Kenting: Harley parodies (and lampshades) this trope while in Metropolis, disguising herself as a mild-mannered, if kooky love columnist for the Daily Planet - without ever realizing one of her coworkers is Superman.
- Crapsack World: Gotham, as par for the course.
- Evil vs. Evil: And a lot of it.
- Faux Action Girl: Gritty vigilante Thorn tries is easily defeated and tied up by Harley and Ivy in each of her appearances, barring the first.
- For Science!: At one point Harley and Ivy capture a meddling Thorn in Metropolis, and while having her at their mercy discover her split civilian "Rose" personality. Harley is intrigued and gets the idea to put her through even more emotional trauma to see how many times they can get her personality to split. Ivy plays along, but she on the other hand just wants to torture her for the hell of it.
- Freudian Excuse / Start of Darkness: One story gives us a flashback to before Harley met the Joker, where a psychological experiment gone terribly wrong with her old fiancÚ, resulting in his suicide, drives her to a philosophy of meaninglessness and emotional fragility long before she ever sets foot in Arkham, and it's this, if anything, that starts her on her road to villainy, with the Joker just guiding her to her destination.
- Friend or Idol Decision: Harley kidnaps a girl whose eyes are needed for some sort of convoluted and very lucrative underhanded venture - but while she is protecting her from others who want the money (and don't care whether the girl lives), the two sort of bond. So then, it comes down to Harley whether to give up the girl and make a mint or save her. Long story short, the girl ends up blind and Harley ends up richer, completely depressed and unable to look at herself in the mirror.
- Genius Ditz: The series itself goes back and forth as to whether Harley truly is a brilliant psychologist or whether she cheated her way through school and was not fit to do it in the first place - though it eventually settles on the former.
- Genre Shift
- Girlish Pigtails: When out of costume, she usually styles her hair like this.
- Girls' Night Out Episode: Several times in the beginning of the series, where a female villain eventually teams up with other female villains and they fight female heroes, particularly the "sleepover" episode.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Often. Her shoulder devil alternately appears as either the Joker or herself in costume, while her shoulder angel is consistently Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Fairly often, however, they shift roles from "good/evil" to "reason/insanity" or "common sense/impulsiveness."
- Happy Harlequin Hat: Goes with the costume.
- Ignored Enamored Underling: To the Joker, of course. The series as a whole is one long attempt by her to get over this, especially the first half, with varied success.
- Jet Pack: Harley steals one at some point. She runs into trouble when it explodes.
- Toasted Buns: Harley references this while jetpacking away from Superman - which makes sense, as the jetpack in question is small enough to fit in her lower back and at one point is directly facing into her behind.
- Killed Off for Real: Harley, at one point, gets caught up in a massive explosion. The next few issues take place in Hell. She gets better. Also, Lewis, though Harley never registers that she killed him.
- Lampshade Hanging: Harley mentions in issue 13 how it's always night time in Gotham City.
- Like a Badass out of Hell: Third type. She's thrown out because she keeps spreading her positive attitude, not something that they like in a place where you're supposed to "Abandon All Hope".
- Love Makes You Crazy: Harley, natch.
- Love Redeems: Of a sort. Harley, being a lover of love, decides to help it grow wherever she can - being in love is the easiest way to get her to spare you. Early on she fights Two-Face to save a hostage he was taking as his own because she felt the story was romantic, and later on she plays matchmaker to a pair of bounty hunters trying to bring her in.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: Happens twice - to Lewis in the beginning, who was trying to guide the driftingly insane Harley to something better than the world he was stuck in. Harley herself killed him, shooting him through the chest to stop him from killing hostages, though she does not acknowledge that she had fatally injured him. Later happens to the old ex-con Harley befriends, who was implied to have done a lot to help her into the relative sanity she had by the end of the series.
- Nietzsche Wannabe: Gotham breeds this - in this series there's Joker, Lewis (to an extent: this is one of the reasons why he did not feel sad about finally being killed), and Harley to an extent.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: For a time, Jimmy Olsen of all people dates Harley without realizing who she is. This does not end well for Jimmy when it doesn't work out.
- Psycho for Hire: Several, including a traitorous henchman Harley for some reason continues to hire.
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Harley herself, who acts and thinks like a child at play; this is particularly noticeable with the addition of the aforementioned Harleyvision - the world as she sees it where, again, nobody dies and everything is like a game or cartoon. Harley herself does not register the true consequences of her actions, and doesn't even realize she's been killing people until she meets with up her victims in Hell (long story), and even then it takes her a while to realize they're dead - she thinks she's still alive because she doesn't register having killed anyone.
- Sexy Jester: Naturally. She even tries to keep the theme in her own gang for a while.
- Shipper on Deck: During the first run, Harley notices the Unresolved Sexual Tension between two detectives and decides to encourage them to get together. She ends up killing Lewis, the most developed and sympathetic of her henchmen, to keep him from being a Moment Killer — although she thinks it's just a flesh wound thanks to Harleyvision.
- Slumber Party: Harley held a supervillainess sleepover in one issue.
- Split Personality: Two-Face appears at one point, so that's a given. However, the storyline where he appears also involves a businessman allegedly having an affair with a woman who turns out to be his wife's split personality. Also, Rose and Thorn appear when Harley goes to Metropolis.
- The Starscream: When Harley starts her own gang she gets several, including a remnant of one of Joker's gangs who is disappointed she isn't more violently destructive.
- Start of Darkness: It's Harley's comic, so of course we'll see it. But the kicker is that it's not how you might remember it.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: Her constant, unyielding focus on love and joy caused her to get banished from hell.
- The Unreveal: Weaponized in fact. Harley's Start of Darkness involved her professor's experiment killing her boyfriend, but it's never shown whether Harley shot him in assisted suicide or he just shot himself. Harley finds out that professor has been after the answer for all these years and refuses to tell him.
- Villainous Harlequin
- Villain Protagonist: Of course.
- Widget Series: It's hilariously goofy. Let's leave it at that.
New 52 series
- All Just a Dream: Most of issue 0 takes place in a dream Harley is having after wishing for her own comic. It's a very crazy dream where she talks with the comic's writers and holds auditions for artists to draw her comic.
- Alter Kocker: Sy Borgman is an old man who speaks Yiddish almost every time he opens his mouth.
- Art Shift: In issue 0, Harley realizes that she needs an artist to draw her comic. The writers give her seventeen to choose from. Artists include Amanda Conner, Jim Lee, Bruce Timm, and Art Baltazar. In the end, she settles on Chad Hardin as her artist.
Harley: Seventeen artists to tell me how good I look? Eat your heart out, Pud'n!
- Author Avatar: In issue 0, the comic's writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, appear to Harley as disembodied voices. Jimmy's speech balloon is blue and Amanda's is green.
- Bait and Switch: Issue 2 opens up with Harley back together with the Joker, but it turns out that it was just a wax statue of him.
- Big Damn Heroes: Big Tony shoots a hitwoman that was sneaking up on Harley while she was relaxing.
- Biker Babe: Harley rides around in a Harley Davidson and tends to wear a red and black biker jacket.
- Blue and Orange Morality: Harley has a twisted sense of right and wrong. When she sees a dog getting neglected by his owner, she frees the dog and drags the owner by her motorcycle.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Issue 0 has Harley and the writers breaking the fourth wall so much, it'll give Deadpool a run for his money. The end of the issue has them swear they'll stop breaking the fourth wall by issue 1.
- Carnival of Killers: The $2 million bounty placed on Harley's head brings a veritable army of hired killers out the woodwork looking to claim it.
- The Casanova: Big Tony claims to have a lot of devotees.
- Cliffhanger: Subverted in issue 4. Harley and Sy get caught in an explosion. The ending narration starts off with the typical "Will they survive?" thing before admitting that of course they'll live.
- Companion Cube: Harley's stuffed beaver, who she also imagines speaking. He's pretty snarky.
- Daydream Surprise: In #14, Harley's been having a really crappy day, but things are finally starting to look up for her... then she gets a nasty Joker-flavored surprise and wakes up.
- Depending on the Artist: While she's drawn by several artists in issue 0, the colors of her clothes and hair alternate between "red and black" or "red and blue". Her permanent artist goes for the red and black colors.
- Different World, Different Comics: Averted in issue #0. The comics Harley is reading are all from DC Comics' New 52. Near the end, she picks up a comic, not realizing that it's her own. If you look closely, you can see that it foreshadows how issue #0 will end.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Harley tends to go overboard when it comes to people she thinks are bad.
- Drop the Hammer: Harley's Weapon of Choice is a huge mallet.
- Episode 0: The Beginning: The series starts off on issue #0 with Harley choosing which artist to draw her comic. It also has her getting some property in Coney Island where the series will take place.
- Even Evil Has Standards: In the first issue, Harley drags a man behind her motorcycle after she catches him hurting a dog.
- In issue #4, Harley kidnaps a family that she believes is neglecting their grandmother. Just as she's about to drown the Bound and Gagged hostages, she learns that the whole thing was a huge misunderstanding, and releases them.
- Even the Girls Want Her: After watching Harley (non-fatally) mow down a group of rival derby girls with her car, one of her teammates remarks "Wow. That was kinda hot."
- Evil Albino: Harley has bleached white skin from taking a dip in the same chemicals that gave the Joker his appearance. When going to a job interview for a therapist, she uses makeup and a wig to give herself the skin color and blond hair she had back when she was Harleen.
- Flash Forward: The Futures End tie-in, as part of the theme for the New 52 comics that month, flashes five years ahead to feature Harley meeting up with the Joker on a desert island (and dropping hints as to what's about to happen in the present day).
- Follow the Leader: The parallels to Deadpool haven't gone unnoticed in fandom.
- Hired Guns: A common nuisance for Harley, since she has a bounty on her head worth over $2 million.
- Imagine the Audience Naked: In #0, Harley finds herself dreaming that she is performing in front of an audience of comic book fans. She forgets her lines and tries to remember this piece of advice, but gets confused as to whether she is supposed to imagine the audience naked or herself naked. Ultimately she imagines herself naked and starts belting out her lines, only the dream changes so she is now in church.
- Improvised Weapon: In issue 3, to stop the love-crazy convicts that are after her, Harley breaks into a tool store to gear up. Her arsenal includes a weed whacker, an axe, a nail gun, and a propane tank.
- Ironic Nickname: One of Harley's tenants is a short guy named Big Tony.
- Landlady: Harley becomes one when she inherits an apartment complex on Coney Island full of circus freaks. They're nice people, but their rents alone won't pay the bills, so Harley has to get a few extra jobs to compensate.
- Lighter and Softer: Than most of the other books in the New 52, which tend to be very serious.
- Limited Wardrobe: Averted, as she's shown to have different outfits, most of them in red and black. She wonders how Superman can wear the same thing all the time.
- Loony Fan/Stalker with a Crush: Harley discovers she has one in issue 9. She sympathises, thanks to her own obsessive issues... and manages to persuade him to get some therapy.
- Meaningful Name: Sy Borgman, also known as Syborg, got cybernetic limbs at some point in his life.
- Multicolored Hair: The left side of Harley's hair is black and the right side of her hair is red, matching her clothes.
- Mythology Gag:
- Issue 0 has a few.
- Harley notices that Jim Lee's page is a remake of a scene from Batman: Hush, except that this time, she beats Batman.
- Bruce Timm's page not only has Harley in her Batman: The Animated Series costume, but she also does a theater version of her "Rev up your Harley" scene where she forgets her lines.
- Harley's original costume also appears in a portrait of her in Art Balthazar's page.
- When Amanda Conner appears in person, she's wearing a Cleavage Window dress in reference to her previous comic, Power Girl. She can also kick butt like Power Girl, as she demonstrates on Harley.
- Issue 1 has Harley's pre-New 52 headwear sitting on top of her luggage.
- Her Loony Fan's collection in issue 9 features a number of pictures of Harley in her original costume.
- Parking Payback: In Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1, Harley is looking for a car to steal and decides to steal the one that is taking up two parking spaces because it is taking two parking spaces.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Harley's not shy about killing those who try to kill her. In issue #2, a hitman tries to run her over. She ties him up and later throws him to her hungry new pets to save her stuffed beaver. The next morning, there's nothing but his bones left.
- Peking Duck Christmas: In Harley Quinn Holiday Special #1, Harley takes a Mall Santa out for dinner on Christmas Eve to thank him from saving her from a humbug that was stuck in her ear (It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context). The only place that is open is a kosher deli.
- Pet the Dog:
- In issue 1, Harley rescues a neglected dog from his owner and keeps him as her own. The dog is much happier living with her.
- In issue 2, Harley and Poison Ivy break into an animal shelter that euthanizes its unwanted animals and frees them all. They turn Harley's studio into an indoor park and keep them there.
- Rasputinian Death: One of Sy's enemies is an old man in a coma. Sy cuts his life support, but he doesn't die. Sy cuts his breathing tube, but still doesn't die. Then Harley takes a crack at it and blows into the breathing tube, making the man's arteries explode. That finally does it.
- Retired Badass: Issue 4 introduces Sy Borgman, a former government agent of the Sixties who got blown up taking out a Russian terrorist group. His arm, leg and eye were replaced state-of-the-art (for the time, at least) bionics, but in his old age, they're just extra weight.
- Rollerblade Good: In order to pay the bills of her new home, Harley tries out for a roller derby team. She absolutely demolishes her competition and the team leader is proud to have her aboard.
- In issue 0, Harley and Catwoman try to rob a yacht and the book's writers, Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner, try to stop them. Amanda tells Jimmy not to hurt Harley because she's gonna pay their bills. Catwoman then riffs on Jimmy's other comics, All-Star Western and Batwing.
Harley: Is she serious?
Catwoman: You see the numbers on All-Star Western and Batwing? note
Harley: Yeah, let's go easy on him. Maim, not kill.
- In the same issue Harley calls Jimmy "the cowboy guy" because he writes All-Star Western. She also calls Amanda the one who draws the woman with the big...
Amanda Conner: Hey, I'm very talented! I can draw women with different bust sizes.
- Sexy Jester: Harley, of course. Even moreso than the pre-New 52 series because her outfit is more revealing than her original one.
- Shaggy Dog Story: In issue 4, one of Harley's patients is a elderly woman who is sad that her family rarely sees her. Sickened, Harley goes to the family's house, kidnaps them, forgets about them for a while, remembers them, takes them to the pier, and berates them for neglecting their elder. However, the elderly woman's son reveals that they see her all the time; she just has Alzheimer's disease, which makes her forget. Harley then realizes she should've looked at the files first.
- Skinny Dipping: Harley and the roller derby girls go skinny dipping in #10.
- Smarter Than You Look: Harley may be a loony clown girl, but she's actually very smart and used to be a psychiatrist. This is brought up in issue 1, where she interviews for a job as a therapist. She gets the job in issue 2.
- Sugar Apocalypse: Art Balthazar's page in issue 0 has her visiting the Tiny Titans universe. She hates how sugary sweet the setting is and tries to smash the Titans with her mallet. She gets even more mad when she realizes they don't even bleed.
- Take That: Harley dismisses Batman's origin in #9 as ridiculous.
- There Are No Rules: This is Summer's summary of the underground 'Skate Club' in #10:
Summer: Welcome to Skate Club, kiddo. Two go in, one comes out. Weapons at your disposal in the middle. Anything goes.
Harley: An' the rules?
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Amanda Conner when she beats up Harley and Catwoman in #0:
Amanda Conner: I'm Amanda Conner, bitches!
- Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Big Tony is dating Queenie, a fortune teller who towers over the other tenants.
- Valentine's Day Episode: Issue 3 takes place on Valentine's Day and Harley has no Valentine. To cheer herself up, she eats a berry from one of Poison Ivy's plants and goes out for a night in the town. Unfortunately, the berry turns out to be a Love Potion that makes anyone who smells her go crazy for her. And she just happens to pass by a prison bus full of convicts. Bloody hijinks ensue.
- Victoria's Secret Compartment: Harley finds her wanted poster in the shirt of a hitwoman that tried to kill her. Big Tony thought she was searching for something else at first.
- Wake Up Fighting: In Harley Quinn Invades Comic-Con International San Diego, Harley falls asleep beside the hotel pool. When a waiter shakes her awake, she wakes up yelling "Hit! Hit! Hit!" and punches the poor guy.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: With all the Yiddish Sy Borgman says, you won't have to wonder if he's Jewish.