Fridge / Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker

Fridge Horror
  • Tim Drake was the Joker in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. The Joker killed hundreds with that death laser. Tim Drake killed hundreds.
    • The director commentary confirms that everyone jumped out of the way really fast, all the buildings were abandoned, and all the cars were being driven by robots.
    • Joker said he had been dormant in Tim's mind for years. It's possible that his career path of engineering may have been a subconscious push by the Joker to develop skills that would elevate his return beyond simple street crime.
    • Joker is able to cheat death by implanting his personality on a microchip on Tim's neck. At first it seems like this was his back-up plan, just in case something went wrong. It's a lot more horrifying when you realize that he intended to kill Batman and live, and that he was planning to body-jack Tim from the beginning, and essentially grant himself a second life.
    • The New Joker in his introduction scene kills Bonk with a BANG! flag gun. Tim Drake uses that same gun to kill the old Joker. Sort of solves the mystery right there.
    • Fridge Horror is hard to avoid in the DCAU - they had to follow the rules for kids TV, meaning no killing. This often led to Fates Worse Than Death that the real impact of would not be felt by those watching until they grow up.
    • Speaking of Batman Beyond, in the JLU BB finale, Amanda Waller picked the exact same kind of parents of Bruce's for Terry's. In the pilot, Terry's parents were divorced. Does that mean that, if Bruce's parents weren't killed, Thomas and Martha Wayne were going to split up?
      • One fan theory of why they were divorced was that both sons looked nothing like the father.
      • According to Bruce Timm, Epilogue's revelation was partly motivated by the staff realizing Terry and Matt's black hair is genetically improbable given Mary is a redhead and Warren's hair is light brown - in turn opening the possibility that Warren had suspected infidelity.
    • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker shows that Batman is so completely dedicated to his mission, the rest of the Batfamily members and potential lovers (Selina, Diana, Zatanna, Lois, etc.) had no other choice to abandon him. They want to grow up, have families, much more of life that playing an infinite Cycle of Revenge that implies being the The Cowl, leaving him Lonely at the Top. The disturbing conclusion is that the only relationship that ever worked for Batman was the Foe Romance Subtext The Joker had with him. He was the only one capable of accepting Batman as the Determinator, and that thought is the reason Batman never speaks of him.
    Terry McGinnis: It's funny, I know about all your other major enemies but you never mentioned him. He was the biggest, wasn't he?
    Bruce Wayne: It wasn't a popularity contest. He was a psychopath, a monster.
  • Considering Robin's Undying Loyalty to Batman, one can only imagine how bad the torture must have been to make him crack and give away Batman's true identity.
  • Woof the Hyena Joker. It seems the splicing reduced him to a feral, cackling beast incapable of speech. We're never told whether this process was voluntary or not, and even so, what kind of person would want to do this to himself?
    • He might have come from the other direction—a hyena that was spliced toward being humanoid. (This was established as a possibility in a late episode.)
    • Which is still pretty darn ugly, when you think about it. Presumably Woof the hyena, as an ordinary animal, would've been innocent of evil, however distasteful lone hyenas' habits might seem to humans. Had he been Uplifted by people with better motives, he could easily have been taught to be a good, if exotic and mute, individual. But he was granted semi-human qualities by a bunch of teenage psychopaths...
  • Bruce Wayne falls victim to Joker's toxin at one point in the film. Given his advanced age, there's no telling how much the excessive laughter has shortened his lifespan (though he's still alive at the end of "Epilogue" thanks - most likely - to having the best futuristic medical care).

Fridge Brilliance
  • The brilliance comes when tying in another Paul Dini work: Mad Love. Mad Love's key factor is playing on the irony that Harley succeeds at everything the Joker fails to achieve. In the climax of the movie, Terry mocks Joker by saying that his fixation to Batman was because he never could get him to laugh. In Mad Love, Harley gets him to laugh completely unintentionally and effortlessly.
    • Another detail that ties in - at the end of the movie, it's revealed that after the Joker was killed, Harley moved on and started a family, apparently abandoning her life of crime and being angry at the thought of her granddaughters becoming criminals. In Mad Love, we see that much like real life abusive couples, Harley is continuously lured back to crime and the Joker by his little Pet the Dog moments towards her, which keep her rationalizing everything else he does to keep from realizing what a horrible person he is (at the end of the adapted episode, for example, she's mentally calling him out for all of his worst traits before seeing he sent her a flower and a get-well-soon card). It's likely that with the Joker dead, there was nothing to interrupt Harley's doubts about him the next time they arose, leading to her rejecting his memory and ideals.
    • Another reason why she was the best? She got Joker Immunity. He didn't.
    • There's a problem with the whole Harley besting the Joker in Mad Love interpretation, though: she only succeeded because she followed one of the Joker's plans, something she admitted. The Joker had previously rejected it for not being funny, which he considers a requirement for a successful plan: just defeating Batman isn't enough, he must be funny while doing it. Even after the plan succeeded in catching Batman, it still wasn't funny, so the Joker still thought of it as a failure. The Joker had no reason to consider Harley to have succeeded.
      • Plus, when he arrived she had to explain the plan and why it was a joke to him.
        Joker "If you have to explain a joke, there is no joke!"
      • Joker didn't know how to make the fish smile. Harley succeeds in making them appear to be smiling. Joker has never caught Batman in a death trap that he couldn't escape on his own. Harley did that on her first solo try. Harley is able to devise a plan all on her own that is far more effective at killing Batman than anything the Joker has ever done. Joker would never consider Harley to have succeeded, but the readers (and probably even Batman) definitely would.
  • I've been watching some of the original Batman The Animated Series episodes (working my way through the entire series). You know what? Joker isn't funny. He makes terrible puns and stupid (and destructive) pranks, but the only thing he ever got a chuckle was when he was singing the Batman Jingle Bells song or saying jokes in a different persona... and neither of those were made by him (at least, in a meta sense). Aside from that, he's only unintentionally funny. -Peteman
    • This is especially notable when one considers Terry's snide comment about how the Joker might get a laugh if he dropped his pants or something of the sort. In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Make 'Em Laugh", he gets the biggest and only laugh out of Gotham as the Joker when he unintentionally drops his pants after Batman beats him again.
      • Yet it was also shown in "Make 'Em Laugh" that the Joker is funny, at least to the citizens of Gotham, and the thing that keeps people from laughing at his jokes is that he's recognized as one of the most dangerous criminals in the entire city. When he was disguised, he had the entire room in stitches. It was only when they realized he was the Joker that they didn't laugh; although for his second act, he revealed himself immediately, so that may not be the best gauge of his comedic talent.
      • Yet even then, that falls under the above list of "jokes made outside of his persona." For all we know, the Joker stole those lines from a basic comedian list; which again underscores the point that the Joker himself is a good super-villain... but an absolutely terrible comedian.
    • The movie could be seen as a deconstruction of the character as a clown at all. As much as The Joker bills himself as the Clown Prince of Crime, he's not really a clown beyond his superficial gimmicks as see in the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Be a Clown" where he impersonates a party clown: he can do some impressive "magic" tricks and sleight of hand, but he never actually makes anyone laugh or find anything funny (beyond one clown-obsessed boy who is really more awed than anything). The clown thing is more a convenient gimmick than anything else, since despite not being funny the Joker is a competent showman in regards to getting and keeping attention and so would choose a theme to let him do that on some level.
      • The classic clown tricks he uses as weapons, like the joy buzzer, flower, and so on, are only funny as clown tricks when acted properly, something the Joker doesn't do (he loves drama and terror too much to manage to get laughs), or with a partner who reacts, which the Joker does not have in his chosen partner of Batman; thus showing how the Joker failed even to comprehend how the items he was using were supposed to be thought of as funny in the first place.
      • Also, as Terry notes during his heckling, the original Batman really didn't have a sense of humor, so he had no reason to call out the Joker's tricks as not being funny since he didn't find anything funny. Terry meanwhile has a reference point and so can definitively call the Joker out as not being funny.
      • Furthermore, Terry not only has a sense of humor, he doesn't have the same sense of storied "tradition" that the Joker holds towards the famed Batman-Joker rivalry: it's not that Terry doesn't understand the "rules" (ie. no fighting dirty, no attempting to bring the Joker in instead of letting him run off to plot the next stupidly complicated Evil Plan, etc.) that Joker thinks exist, it's that he doesn't give a shit. So he has no scruples about insulting his enemy, because he isn't really his enemy. He's Bruce Wayne's.
  • Unlike many of his other incarnations, "Joker Beyond" doesn't get very distinctive last words — he goes from sneering, "I can't hear you!" to "GAAAAAH!" But in between? Batman gives him a "Ha... ha." Batman got the last laugh.
  • Joker's meltdown in response to Terry's insults becomes even more brilliant when you remember that no comedian can stand a heckler.
    • Check that: no comedian can stand a heckler, but the good ones are capable of not letting them get to them. As has been mentioned above, the Joker is actually at his core a terrible comedian. Naturally, a good heckler (re: Terry) would have oodles of material to throw at him.
  • During Joker's fight with Bruce, he misdirected Batman with his right hand while flicking the knife into his left. It's a very basic magic trick, and probably would never have worked if Batman wasn't so upset. It also symbolizes how what he did appeared to be just brainwashing Tim, but he was actually making a backup of himself as well.
    • If you listen closely, he even makes a joke about it. "I/eye on the other hand..."
  • For all the hellish torments Joker brought to every life he touched, this movie amounts to a long-term Humiliation Conga for him: everybody ultimately defeated, upstaged, or otherwise achieved some form of retribution on him, good and bad alike:
    • Bruce Wayne successfully kept both versions of the Joker from divulging his secret about being Batman to anyone else, and is still living at a ripe old age with his biological son there to take up his legacy by the time "Epilogue" rolls around.
    • Tim Drake killed the Joker the first time and managed to shake off his brainwashing both times.
    • Barbara Gordon finally broke up Harley Quinn's abusive relationship with the Joker for good and succeeded at making a career of fighting crime and helped Terry overcome the Joker long after Bruce made her hang up her Batgirl costume.
    • Ace (the dog) helped Terry against the Joker at a crucial moment, thereby avenging his injuries.
    • Terry McGinness heckled the Joker into one final humiliating defeat, got the very last laugh on him, and killed him off for good with his own joy buzzer.
    • Harley Quinn got over her abusive relationship with the Joker, married somebody else, settled down, and now has granddaughters; and she's even won them back from him and got them under her disciplinary care again by the end. On a meta-level, she also stole his Joker Immunity away from him as she's still alive at the end and he isn't.
    • His Jokerz are out from under his thumb, and probably reconsidering their career choices at the end, while his very final death avenges Bonk's untimely demise.
    • Amanda Waller succeeded in her plan to engineer a biological son for Batman to carry on his legacy, and thereby indirectly avenged the telepathic girl Ace for the way Joker manipulated her by having someone there to put a stop to his second incarnation.
    • As noted in parts above, nobody ever voluntarily laughed at his jokes, only at him; to the Joker, that was the very worst kind of humiliation he could possibly suffer, even worse than defeat and death. In the final analysis, he's an abject failure at everything.
  • During the climax, Joker's henchman Chucko falls a great distance when the Batmobile crashes into the smokestack he was climbing down from. Maybe that's why he was a cyborg when he showed up again in Justice League Unlimited?