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Characters / Batman: The Joker
aka: The Joker

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The Joker

Species: Human

First appearance: Batman #1 (April 25th, 1940)
"Kid, I'm the Joker, I don't just randomly kill people. I kill people when it's funny."note 

"A lion doesn't pass judgement on a gazelle. Cancer doesn't pass judgement on a brain. I've been saying this all along. Evil doesn't exist. There are only actions. We got to the same place—the top of the food chain—just on different paths. Mine was more fun."
Joker, Batman/The Shadow, Part Three

The Joker is a comic book supervillain owned by DC Comics, who primarily appears as a member of Batman's Rogues Gallery. Often recognized as Batman's Arch-Enemy, he is a dangerous madman who dresses like a clown and commits violent crimes. His crimes require no motivation other than his sadistic desire to show people the meaninglessness of life through pain and death, and the narcissism to see the world remade in his own image.

The Joker first appeared in Batman #1 (25 April, 1940). He was created by Bob Kane, Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson. Credit for the Joker's creation is disputed; Kane and Robinson claimed responsibility for the Joker's design, but acknowledged Finger's writing contribution. Comics scholars lean to Robinson and Finger as Joker's true creators owing to Kane's well documented history of swiping and hiring ghost-artists for his work. Originally he was to die at the end of his second appearance, but the comic's editor wouldn't allow it feeling it was a waste of a perfectly good villain. In his early days he was portrayed as a cunning criminal with a constant grin and an occasional sadistic streak, became a goofy prankster in the The Silver Age of Comic Books, and then in The '70s evolved into the terrifying mixture of whimsy and malice that he's best known as today.

The most famous origin stories for the Joker are The Man Behind the Red Hood by Bill Finger and The Killing Joke by Alan Moore. In the former, the Joker was an infamous thief known as "the Red Hood" who, while robbing a chemical plant, jumped into a vat of chemicals to escape Batman—giving him white skin, green hair, and a permanent smile. The origin put forth in The Killing Joke is fairly similar, with the main change being that the Joker was actually a harmless failed comedian that was blackmailed into donning the Red Hood and committing the robbery. The accident at the chemical plant happened the same day as his pregnant wife died, and the trauma of this "one bad day" drove the Joker completely mad.

Despite the popularity of these origins, DC's official stance is that no version of the Joker's origin is true. The Joker is the Trope Namer for Multiple-Choice Past, after all, and he's openly and brazenly lied about his origins to others many times. All that is definitively agreed upon by most writers and fans is that, in some way, Batman played a prominent role in the Joker's creation. But as far as most are concerned, he doesn't need an origin beyond that, because the dynamic he has with Batman speaks for itself — the two of them are perfect Foils. Batman is a stern and serious vigilante crimefighter, while the Joker is a zany and manic killer clown. ​Batman represents order and the Joker represents chaos. Batman is an Anti-Nihilist and the Joker is a Straw Nihilist. Batman is motivated by grief and love over the murder of his parents, the Joker loves no one but himself. The Wayne family has an ancestry deeply tied into Gotham's history going back centuries, but the Joker has no past whatsoever, he simply is.

While the Joker enjoys spreading death and chaos wherever he can, he has a particular interest in tormenting Batman. The Joker is widely considered Batman's Arch-Enemy, and virtually every major Batman adaptation depicts him as one of the Dark Knight's most persistent and dangerous foes. The exact reason for his obsession with Batman varies Depending on the Writer: as revenge for the chemical plant accident, for philosophical and moral reasons to prove a point, because the Joker considers Batman his perfect Straight Man to play off of, because the Joker is infatuated with him and wants his attention, or just because he gets more joy from troubling Batman than he does others. Some of his most heinous crimes against Batman and those close to him include the murder of Jason Todd (the second Robin and Batman's ward), the murder of Jim Gordon's wife Sarah Essen, and the paralysis of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. His obsession with Batman is so deep and profound that he doesn't care who Batman really is and makes no attempt to find out. For him, it's all about Batman.

The Joker has no true superpowers, save for an acquired immunity to poisons due to the chemical accident and prolonged exposure to the chemicals he works with for his plans. He may also have a unique mental condition that causes him to invent a new personality for himself every so often, making him even more unpredictable. His true powers lie in his cunning and intelligence. The Joker is a Manipulative Bastard able to trick his enemies into playing right into his hands, and he can pull off impressive long-term schemes that may fool even Batman. He's a brilliant chemist and prominently uses poison and chemical agents in his schemes, and has lesser skill with technology in general, able to build complex contraptions and death traps. Like Batman, the Joker keeps his personal arsenal "on-brand" — exploding cigars that can level buildings, squirting flowers that shoot acid, razor-sharp throwing cards, a "Bang!" Flag Gun that fires the flag as a projectile, and a joy buzzer that delivers a deadly electrical shock. His most well-known weapon is his customized Joker Venom, which kills its victims and leaves the corpse with a wide smile like the Joker's.note 

Despite his lack of powers, the Joker is one of the most dangerous and feared villains in the DC universe, because he is just so depraved, insane, and chaotic, that he is capable of things even other supervillains wouldn't do. The Joker's unpredictable nature means most other supervillains refuse to work with him because they feel they can't trust him and he'll betray them or pursue his own agenda, and inevitably he proves them right. The flip side to that is if a group of supervillains don't include him in their scheme, he's liable to get himself involved and interfere with it out of spite, especially if the plan involves Gotham or Batman. While the Joker has joined groups like the Injustice Gang and Injustice League, it never lasts, either the Joker turns on them or they turn on him when they tire of his antics. Batman: The Animated Series introduced Harley Quinn, the Joker's former psychiatrist who fell in love with him and is now his on-and-off sidekick and girlfriend. Because of her blind devotion and love for him, Quinn is about the one long-term relationship Joker can sustain because she sticks by him in spite of how horribly he treats her. This has loosened in later years as she realizes the Joker is a domestic abuser who doesn't return her affections, but to what extent she abandons him and if Joker is able to sway her back to him varies Depending on the Writer.

For all of this, the Joker is one of the most iconic villains in fiction, comparable to the likes of Darth Vader and Iago, and many other villains take cues from him. He is widely considered one of the greatest villains in comics and is without question the most famous and prolific, appearing in virtually every piece of Batman media and most DC Comics general media, not to mention a wide assortment of merchandise. Through it all the Joker's popularity has never waned and he continues to be reimaged by writers over and over across pop culture media.

Read this page in the Joker's own voice here.

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The Joker in media:

    Solo Books 
The Joker has been the subject of several self-titled solo books:

    Multiple Media Incarnations 
The Joker has served as Batman's classical adversary not just in the comics, but also in multiple media incarnations:


Voice Acting:

Tropes applying to the Joker:

In General

  • Abusive Parents: One common tactic for the Joker to garner sympathy is claiming he was ill-treated by his parents. Given his propensity to spew out contradictory backstories, nobody knows if they're true.
    • In one issue of New 52, he claims to have been driven insane by an abusive grandmother, who also bleached his skin to its present pallor.
      • In the same continuity, he is one to a baby gorilla he adopts, trains up as a gun-wielding henchman, and ultimately gets killed off for laughs.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity: In many continuities, he's immune to his trademark Joker Venom/Smilex. In a crossover comic with Captain America, he also proves to be immune to Red Skull's "Dust of Death", as their trademark poisons are too similar to each other.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: The Elseworld Batman/Lobo establishes that he and Batman are twin brothers and that he went down the path of crime because Joe Chill kidnapped him the night their parents were killed.
  • Advance Notice Crime: In his very first appearance in the first dedicated Batman comic, the Joker announces live on public radio his intent to kill Henry Claridge and steal his diamond. He even gives an exact time for when he does this.
  • Allegorical Character: Joker represents Chaos while Batman represents Order.
  • Ambiguous Start of Darkness: Related to his Multiple-Choice Past, the only thing consistent is that he was a low-level crook who got dunked in acid before becoming who he is today.
  • Ambiguously Bi: We know he's been in a relationship with Harley Quinn so his attraction to women is a given. But in Batman: Cacophany, after Joker's busted out of prison by Onomatopoeia, he mistakenly thought the Hero Killer had a clown fetish after Onomatopeia offered him a lot of money and mentioned that the Mad Hatter tried to get him to perform homosexual acts with him in prison for years, indicating that he wasn't really interested in men. On the other hand, Joker partially stripped down for Onomatopoeia without hesitation and even looked disappointed after the killer disappeared on him, making it hard to get a feel for whether Joker really is interested in being with another man, isn't really into men but will do it for the amount of money Onomatopoeia is offering him, or is only fine with Onomatopoeia being his partner since he mentioned he didn't want Mad Hatter finding out about this.
  • Ambiguously Human: It's been implied that the Joker may not be entirely human. He has untraceable DNA and seemingly no past, has survived things that would kill a normal human (Infamously, the detonation of a bomb) and may actually be an unkillable Humanoid Abomination.
  • Appropriated Appellation: In Batman: The Man Who Laughs, it's established that the name "The Joker" was given to him by the media, and he liked it so much that he decided to call himself that.
  • Arch-Enemy: A classic example to the Batman, and not just in the comics - they are pretty much the iconic gold standard when it comes to this trope. In several instances, Batman deconstructs and dismisses the Foe Romance Subtext, claiming that the clown is nothing but an unhinged psychopath.
  • Attention Whore: A big part of his motivation in various continuities. He even admits as such at one point, while denying he's not behind one particular crime. The clown also hates being told that his jokes are boring.
    Joker: Do you really think I would stir up so much trouble and not make sure you knew it was me?
  • Ax-Crazy: One of his main characteristics is his willingness to go psycho on anyone, including his own henchmen.
  • Bad Boss: Willing to casually kill his own henchmen for any reason, be it part of a plan, for amusement, or simply on a whim. Just to demonstrate how much disregard he has for his henchmen, a reoccurring motivation for offing his own lackeys is failing to laugh at one of his jokes. Or laughing too late. Or laughing for too long. Or laughing at the wrong joke. He's... unpredictable.
  • Bad People Abuse Animals: Defied by The Joker in at least one story (Emperor Joker). Evil Jimmy Olson kills Superman, who has been turned into a dog, by crushing him underneath a fire hydrant. The Joker is simply annoyed, because he doesn't know how to make something as pointless as beating a dumb animal funny. Jimmy Olson is then beaten to death by two giant robots who appear out of nowhere.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: He sometimes believes his Multiple-Choice Past, Depending on the Writer of course. One issue of the Robin had the Joker actually in tears as he told the psychiatrist of his abusive childhood, only for the psychiatrist to coldly point out that it's the seventh story he's told now.
  • Berserk Button: A consistent one across various incarnations is that he absolutely hates being laughed at or made the butt of a joke and those who do so tend to regret doing so very quickly.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's usually written off as a joke, but this Monster Clown is far more unpredictable than what others think, having upstaged the likes of Mongul and Brainiac in terms of villainy. He also takes being snubbed from joining any Legion of Doom personally, and if he does join, the other villains usually shun him. Joker also loves to hear himself laugh, but gets enraged if he is the butt of someone else's jokes.
  • Black Comedy: This is one of Joker’s specialties. To normal people, killing would be a terrible thing, but to Joker, it’s hilarious, especially if he does it in a way that amuses him.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Depending on the Writer, he's somewhere between this and a Straw Nihilist; while he may seem to be a Stupid Evil Axe-Crazy lunatic who only wants to spread mindless chaos, he is actually an intuitive and complex planner, and can wait patiently for months or years for his one of his schemes to pay off. Said plans usually involve making some grand statement about Humans Are Bastards or that life is meaningless, and generally wanting To Create a Playground for Evil, with a deep, obsessive fixation on fighting Batman. Many psychologists have tried to analyze Joker, both in fiction and Real Life, but none have succeeded in figuring out what exactly is wrong with him. In the end, the one consistent thing we can say about The Joker is that what he does makes sense to him and only him, and he isn't interested in explaining the joke.
  • Body Horror: The acid bath bleached his skin white and his hair green and forced his mouth into a perpetual and utterly unnatural grin.
  • Big Bad: If there is anyone causing trouble for the Bat-Family chances are it is usually Joker most of the time.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: In a "Detective Comics" story written by Paul Dini, the Joker (while impersonating a stage magician he had previously murdered) shot Zatanna in the throat so she couldn't recite a spell to save herself, then locked her in a tank of water while strapping Batman in an electric chair. He didn't shoot her in the head because he wanted Batman to watch helplessly as she died. This didn't go so well because first, he's BATMAN! and second, Zatanna was able to write a healing incantation on the lid of the tank using her own blood, which made the spell even more powerful.
  • Boring Insult: While the Joker has used it a few times on others, he mostly does it to hear the sound of his own voice as the people he usually slings this insult at don't really care whether or not they're boring. On the other hand, he gets really furious when others intentionally use it against him. For a comedian, the only thing worse than silent glares is The Heckler.
  • Break the Comedian: A sure way to determined if things have gotten real, even for the Joker, is if he isn't laughing or joking. A famous example involved the Joker being frightened during the events of Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, when he was horrified by Arcane's actions.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Most of Batman's rogues gallery have understandable motivations for turning to crime. The Joker is a sick individual who is often evil for its own sake, though he also wants to prove that anyone can snap and become as depraved as he is if pushed too far. His deepest desire is to see Batman succumb to the temptation to kill.
  • Clear My Name: The Brave and the Bold has him framed for several murders and he must use Batman's help.
  • Clownification: Often times his origin story is an involuntary baptism in bleach. His Joker Venom is used to forcefully do this to someone while they die.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While his fighting prowess varies from remarkably proficient to extremely weak Depending on the Writer, the Joker is a consistently dirty fighter, striking enemies when and where they are most vulnerable. Besides his myriad of gag gadgets, he often carries concealed weapons, gases and acids on his person, and won't hesitate to brandish a wrench or smash a chair over your head in a pinch. He is usually adept with knives and unlike Batman, rarely has any reservations about firearms. He has no qualms kicking an opponent when they're down, and will employ deception, feigning surrender or defeat to let Batman lower his guard.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
  • Confusion Fu: This is often his last line of defense when Batman corners him, especially in the animated television shows. Effectiveness varies. He once got the better of Cassandra Cain, a master martial artist who can analyze her opponent's body language to predict their moves because his body language was confusing nonsense.
  • Consummate Liar: Joker is a phenomenal actor, acting almost genuinely emotional every single time he weaves a new origin story for himself.
  • Cop Killer: Sometimes police officers are among the Joker's victims:
  • Crazy in the Head, Crazy in the Bed: A few women actually became attracted to him because of how his utter insanity and impredicability charmed and fascinated them, most notably Harley Quinn and Punchline. According to Harley, he could be could the passionate lover when he wanted to.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Most stories posit he was chased by Batman through a factory with No OSHA Compliance, which caused him to be exposed to acid, discoloring his skin and hair and driving him insane when he sees his reflection. Often he claims Batman is responsible for turning him into The Joker. What his origin story is remains a mystery.
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: In voiced roles, he usually has a high-pitched voice to contrast Batman's low voice.
  • Crossover Villain-in-Chief: In DC's Crisis Crossover events that involve a lot of villains, like Salvation Run and Forever Evil (2013), The Joker usually fills this role along with Lex Luthor.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Insanity aside, sometimes the Joker's plans and methods are so out there they just seem stupid. Despite appearances, he's usually very cunning, and always very dangerous. In fact, part and parcel of what makes the Joker's plans devastating is that he knows how to hide the punchline for lack of a better word. The plans are so innocuous, so disheveled and so utterly random that they usually have no sane MO, which makes it hard to see the bigger picture of the plan unless Batman pieces it together quickly.
  • Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Happens frequently, though this may be an indication of the competence of the staff at Arkham. One such time was with Dr. Harleen Quinzel, who bought his story hook, line and sinker and declared him sane, then broke him out of Arkham and started dating him (of course, her exact analysis was that he was utilizing Obfuscating Insanity and it's implied that she was actually right, so perhaps she was the only good doctor at Arkham after all...)
  • Cut Short: His solo 1970s series had an initially unpublished tenth issue that ended on a cliffhanger involving him seemingly killing the Justice League and plotting to get even with his father. This was obviously left unresolved due to the comic long being cancelled and the issue in question not being printed until decades after it was originally intended to be published.

  • Deadly Prank: He generally considers murdering someone for a joke to be morally no different than putting a whoopie cushion on their chair.
  • Depending on the Artist: His depiction varies a lot between eras and between different artists in the same period. Major differences are whether he can form facial expressions other than a grin, and whether he is average-sized or freakishly tall and thin.
    • His grin varies a lot between incarnations. In more out-there stories, his grin is usually fixed, or at least unrealistically huge when he does smile. In grittier, more realistic versions, the grin is either simply painted on, or an actual Glasgow Grin, giving him a more gruesome, unnerving look.
  • Depending on the Writer: To the point where it has arguably become part of his character. There are many huge variations, the most common and glaring being:
    • Whether he was driven insane or was already insane and became completely bonkers.
    • Where he is on the spectrum between "wacky prankster" and "utterly depraved and sadistic sociopath and murderer".
    • Whether he is a senseless, performative terrorist wreaking havoc for kicks or a deceptively cunning and competent criminal mastermind. Or both. Usually both.
    • His relationship with Batman changes a lot. Sometimes, it's a fairly standard hero/arch-nemesis fare, sometimes they're mutually obsessed with each other, and in some versions, their relationship is somewhat sexually charged, particularly from Joker's end. In The Dark Knight Returns and ''A Serious House on Serious Earth', Joker's quite explicitly sexually interested in Batman, to the point of actually groping him in the latter.
    • Just where Joker draws the line of what he considers acceptable behavior, if he does at all, varies wildly. Some versions have henchmen with Swastikas on their chests, some are confirmed rapists, while most mainstream incarnations have him be either uninterested in, or outright disgusted by things such as Nazism or rape.
    • He's no Batman, but sometimes he is a proficient hand-to-hand combatant, Psycho Knife Nut or marksman, and other times a flimsy wimp who goes down in one punch. In some of the grittier settings, his raw strength, numbness to pain and viciousness are enough to level the playing field with Batman.
    • Whether he actually loves Harley Quinn varies. In the animated series, (where Harley first appeared) the writers have outright said he's a sociopath incapable of loving anyone, and just sees her as a useful mook. Some other works imply he really does love her on some level (although he's usually still an abusive asshole.)
    • He can either be Faux Affably Evil, Laughably Evil, just a Monster Clown, or some combination of the three.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The Joker is completely and utterly insane and sadistic. The Killing Joke showed the not-yet Joker's pregnant wife saying that he was "good in the sack." There's also the few and far-between Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments he has with Harley. Plus all that Foe Romance Subtext he has toward Batman. Harley and Ivy both think that the Joker only has eyes for Batman. Joker has often professed affection toward Batman (complete with moments of desperate attention-needing) and in "Cacophony" Joker explicitly states that he wants Batman sexually. Although, being the Joker, he wants him sexually only after he's dead.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Not above invoking this deliberately to get under Batman's skin. Whether he means all his flirting and feel-copping varies slightly Depending on the Writer and heavily depending on one's own interpretation.
    • At least one such incident implied he would be interested in Batman... but only after he was dead. Again this may only have been a tactic to get under Batman's skin or truthful admission. The readers will never know for certain.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: In Batman: A Death in the Family, Ayatollah Khomeini appoints him the UN ambassador to Iran, giving him diplomatic immunity. This was later retconned to the fictional Syraq due to reasons of taste.
  • Dirty Coward: Zigzagged. How brave, how coward, and how much or how little he gives a fuck about his life varies depending of the version, the issue/chapter/episode, and sometimes, even the scene. Some versions have him genuinely not caring if he dies and even actively hoping Batman will kill him to make him break his code while others will beg Batman for mercy or to save him when he believes he's in actual danger.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Has been known to try to kill people for minor slights, such as welshing on a bet on a sporting event for trivial stakes.
  • Domestic Abuse: This characterizes his relationship with his "henchwench" Harley Quinn to a T. Joker frequently yells at her, puts her down, humiliates her, and exposes her to all manner of violence ranging from "merely" slapping or punching her to outright trying to murder her. Such is her Mad Love that she ignored his abuse for most of her existence in comic history, with the two only separating in the late 2010s.
  • The Dreaded: Easily one of the most feared villains in the entire DC universe. Other villains are afraid of him - it's been said that when criminals want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.
  • Driven to Madness: Doing this to others (especially Batman) is part of his MO. What drove him to insanity remains unknown.
    • His plot in The Killing Joke is to put Jim Gordon through the wringer hard in the hopes of driving him mad. He'll also try to drive Batman over the edge (particularly, drive him to break his "no killing" rule), sometimes by cutting off all of Batsy's human connections.
    • Ironically, a 1952 story has the Joker get himself falsely committed to an insane asylum, to question a patient who knew the location of a cache of money. The end of the story has him Laughing Mad due to a prank Batman used to disguise his identity.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Just take a gander at his earliest appearances:
    • He didn't have his signature laugh. This seems to have been a way to "goofy up" the character to make him less terrifying in the days of the Comics Code Authority. Later on, he'd learn to giggle while remaining terrifying.
    • He actually committed crimes for moneynote , and wasn't really interested in causing chaos or terror for a joke's sake.
    • Building off of that, his plans weren't really "insane" until the Silver Age (at which point it's not even fair to say this was exclusive to him), nor was there any question of the character's mental stability.
    • His obsession with Batman wasn't there, much less the idea that he would pass up chances to kill the Bat or learn his identity. This aspect was probably introduced to explain the Bond Villain Stupidity he (and every Batman villain) had become infamous for in the Silver Age.
    • His clown-like complexion was actually makeup in his early appearances. He even removed his makeup to disguise himself as a cop, which was referenced in The Dark Knight. It's later revealed that the look is permanent after falling in a vat of chemicals.
    • The idea that Joker is the yin to Batman's yang, his perfect Manichaean foil, did not begin to emerge until the late 1980s at the earliest. The 1989 film popularized the idea moreso than the comics.
  • Edible Bludgeon: Once tried to beat a man to death with a bunch of bananas. Upon finding that bananas don't really make a very effective truncheon, the next time he attempts this, he used plantains instead.
  • Electric Joybuzzer: One of his signature weapons, a lethal variation. He ended up Hoist by His Own Petard when trying to use it on Static.
    Static: That was fun. Let me try! (BZZZZT!)
    (Batman approves.)
  • Enemy Mine:
    • The Brave and the Bold #111 and #191 have him team up with Batman to clear his name after being framed for several murders. The first instance turned out to simply be a framing the guilty party occasion but the second instance was actually genuine on Joker's part (except the person Joker seemingly murdered turned out to be faking their death).
    • He also does this with Batman whenever The Batman Who Laughs is involved (specifically in the Dark Knights: Metal series).
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He's usually on the receiving end of this. Most other supervillains are wary of him and try to avoid working with him or becoming his enemy: variably because he's even worse than them, for pragmatism because they don't trust him, out of fear he'll betray and kill them, etc. That said, there are also some lines even the Joker himself won't cross:
    • He's often depicted as hating Nazis and possibly other groups with similar philosophies; either because the Joker doesn't find anything funny in being a bigot, sees them as not upending the social order like he wants instead simply replacing it with their own version, or because of his pride as an American citizen. During a crossover between Batman and Captain America, he angrily calls off an alliance with Red Skull when he learns he's a Nazi (the Joker previously thought he was just dressing as a Nazi and approved of it as a joke). As the Joker puts it "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I'm an American criminal lunatic!"
    • Will not harm dumb animals and doesn't condone it. There's no humor to be had in that. Higher primates apparently do not qualify but a lot more effort went into that one. Case in point: Emperor Joker sees the Joker disgusted with a corrupted Jimmy Olsen tormenting the Superfamily and Batman when they're turned into animals.
    • While in Arkham with villain Warren White, AKA the Great White Shark, Joker calls him the worst person he ever met. He states that while he may kill people, even he doesn't steal their kids' college funds.
    • A girl named Janey Bennett, whose class was studying criminal behavior, became pen pals with the Joker while he was in Arkham. When Janey revealed that her father, the mayor of Motor City, was abusing her (exactly how isn't specified, though it was implied to have been really bad) the Joker broke out and, convinced that the authorities would be of no help, tried to force the mayor into admitting to his crimes and giving him Janey (so that he could find a better home for her) by threatening to contaminate the city's blood supply, going through with it (because the ends justify the means) when the mayor refused to give in to his demands. He originally intended to give her to Batman as well so he could protect her but at the end decided to give her to her mom.
      Joker: I mean, stealing a city blind is something I can admire... but being mean to one's own daughter... that just makes my blood boil.
    • The Joker absolutely loathes The Batman Who Laughs, to the point where he drops his usual joking demeanor and is deathly serious whenever directly referring to him, even willing to work together with Batman to face him when it comes down to it. To Joker, the Batman Who Laughs is the worst possible result of his rivalry with Batman and an insult towards both of their personal philosophies and legacies — a bad joke that should never have existed in the first place. When he learns that Lex Luthor and the Legion of Doom have been keeping the Batman Who Laughs prisoner in the Fortress of Doom and release him in exchange for information, not only is the Joker furious and Rage Quits the Legion, but he leaves them alive and warns them that while he was going to betray and kill them all eventually anyway, whatever the Batman Who Laughs will do to them when he betrays them will be even worse.
      Joker: If you want me, there's one dark path you're not going to turn down. There's no joke here. I think you'll find I'm deadly serious on the topic. The Batman from the other world. The Batman Who Laughs. He's a wrong thing, Lex. He's going to ruin the whole game, and I won't stand for it.
    • In the penultimate issue of Batman: No Man's Land when he killed Sarah Essen, the Joker himself wasn't amused by it, and was scowling afterwards. He left behind the babies had he planned to murder without harming them, and walked outside to surrender to the police. That said, he still grinned to Gordon about it after and found it hilarious when Gordon shot him in the kneecap, thinking he did it to purposefully echo how the Joker shot Barbara.
    • One of the earliest examples of this can be seen in Alan Moore's Swamp Thing run, when Anton Arcane and his fellow escapees from Hell ascended, the Joker stopped laughing.
    • Illegally parking in handicap spaces is also something that the Joker doesn't tolerate. There's nothing remotely funny about it.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: There’s a comic storyline when Hush informed that a dirty cop Office Halmet killed his wife Jeannie. The Joker wanted nothing more than to kill said cop in revenge. Then there’s Batman: Three Jokers where, despite it being being heavily implied he was abusive, the “Comedian” Joker is seen setting up fake tea parties with dolls, clearly trying to substitute them for his wife and child showing that he does miss them and desire to be a family with them.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Joker is Nihilism Incarnate: he believes that life is pointless and insane, and the only thing anyone can do is give into the madness. Life is a joke, and once he got the joke he never stopped laughing at it. One of the reasons he's obsessed with Batman is because Batman is The Anti-Nihilist: Batman also thinks, to some degree at least, that life is meaningless. But rather than embrace the madness, Batman fights against it, trying to bring order to chaos through his heroic actions. So Batman got the joke too, but he's not laughing, and the Joker doesn't understand why.
  • Eviler than Thou: While he has been on the receiving end before in many adaptations and universes, especially when written by Scott Snyder, Joker will upstage his fellow Bat-Rogues in terms of villainy.
    • In Joker's Last Laugh, he goes to the next level by hatching a scheme in which he Jokerizes every supervillain on the planet.
    • Then in Emperor Joker, he went even further and out-villained DARKSEID.
  • Evil Genius: Though rarely the focus of his character, Joker is usually an extremely gifted chemist, engineer and inventor, constantly creating new and better versions of his signature laughing gas as well as adept in other fields such as computer engineering and is able to easily understand and adjust the inventions of heroes and other villains like Lex Luthor with no issue. He's also (unsurprisingly) a skilled planner on par with Batman himself, in addition to being extremely charismatic and manipulative when he wants to be.
  • Evil Laugh: Basically his frickin' trademark. Every incarnation has one they indulge in as they spread madness, suffering and ruin, and every one of them is legendary in its own right.
  • Evil Mentor: The Joker has corrupted many other people into becoming villains themselves, with Harley Quinn just being the most famous example.
  • Evil Is Petty: Joker truly sees no difference between throwing cream pies, robbing a museum, and wanton mass-murder. To him, it's all just part of the joke.
  • Evil Versus Evil: In addition to his battles against Batman, Joker has also feuded with and fought against his fellow Arkham rogues, including Scarecrow, Two-Face, Riddler, and more.
  • Facial Horror:
    • His iconic "perma-clown" appearance (the green hair, chalk-white skin, and most of the time, red lips) is the result of being submerged in a tank of chemicals. However, there was times this has gotten worse.
    • While Joker still has the permanent clown look, it's combined with the Glasgow Grin.
    • While Batman: Endgame would see the skin of his face restored with a chemical called Dionesiumnote , at the start of The New 52, the Joker had the Dollmaker skin his face and then, after he recovered it, spent Death of the Family wearing it like a Leatherface-esque mask. And even in Endgame, his restored face ends up badly burned as the result of the finale battle between him and Batman, though it still ends up restored again.
  • Fame Through Infamy: He's practically built a career on crimes designed more to spread his infamy than anything else. Perhaps his true illness is that he is an Attention Whore through and through...
  • Faux Affably Evil: Often addresses others in a polite and friendly way before he unleashes merry hell on them.
  • Flanderization: Over the years, his actions have become almost exclusively focused on causing as much carnage and chaos as possible or harassing Batman and his allies rather than performing any non-lethal mischief or practical crime.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Sometimes will mess with Batman's mind by calling him by pet names or using innuendo. Or outright groping him. According to later writers, Joker regards their hero/villain dynamic as a very special relationship, and resents anyone or thing that gets in the way of it (like all those family members Bruce enjoys hanging out with), which is disturbingly like a jealous lover.
  • Foil: To Batman in several ways. If the origin offered in Killing Joke is to be believed, both Batman and Joker had one bad day that put them on very different paths.
    • While Batman refuses to kill anyone, Joker revels in death.
    • Joker's gadgets tend to be rather goofier but much more lethal, such as the Joker Venom that leave a rictus grin on his victims.
    • While Batman gets along well with his allies, sidekicks Robin and Batgirl, his mentor Alfred and Love Interest Catwoman, Joker frequently abuses his sidekick Harley and has tried to kill her before, not to mention all the times he has been a Bad Boss by killing his henchmen for any reason you can think of, sometimes for no reason at all.
    • While Batman's backstory is well known to the citizens of Gotham who know of the tragedy of the rich Waynes' in Crime Alley including in real life, Joker's backstory is a mystery, but most versions he tells are consistent in two things: he was a nobody and possibly born poor.
    • Batman wears dark clothing that mostly consists of black and grey, but Joker wears bright clothing that mostly consists of green and purple.
    • In most adaptations, his voice is high-pitched in contrast to Batman's low voice.
    • Representing order, Batman upholds justice and the rule of law (the spirit if not always the letter); the Dark Knight is The Anti-Nihilist who also believes life is meaningless but decided to create his own purpose. A fervent nihilist who believes anyone can have a "bad day" as he sums it up, Joker is strongly anti-authoritarian and anti-society, indiscriminately destructive, and downright insane.
  • For the Evulz: His usual MO. Many of his crimes always involve sowing chaos and the schadenfreude of other people's misery.
    Alfred: Some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Often plays this role among villain team-ups. It's implied that the only reason the other DC villains ever invite him to things is because they're terrified of what he'll do to them if he's not. Lex Luthor Jr.'s death at the end of Infinite Crisis is brought about because, as Lex Luthor puts it:
    Luthor: You made one big mistake. You didn't let the Joker play.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: While most of Batman's rogues gallery have a Freudian Excuse, the key thing about Joker's Multiple-Choice Past is that nobody really knows who he was before he put on the Red Hood and fell into a vat of acid. As such, he was literally a nobody... who turned into the DC Universe's scariest villain and who at times has upstaged even Brainiac or Darkseid. In "Underworld Unleashed," Trickster even states that whenever the Clown Prince of Crime joins a league of villains, the other baddies tend to keep him at an arm's length. Even stories and portrayals which do give him some kind of backstory tend to show him as just being a regular guy before becoming a villain.
  • Frozen Face: Most depictions have his face as such, with his massive rictus grin being something he can't really stop doing.

  • Gadgeteer Genius: While he seems to be a chemist first and foremost, the Joker has no trouble coming up with a range of tools and weapons of his own design and is easily as smart as Batman in this area. Other stories show that he has a solid enough understanding of such varied fields as engineering, computers and even robotics that he can at least hijack the sophisticated inventions of others and use them for his own ends with no difficulty whatsoever, and he is generally implied (though rarely outright stated) to have had a scientific background prior to becoming the Clown Prince of Crime.
  • Glasgow Grin: Sometimes, Depending on the Artist, the Joker has one in the comics, usually in out-of-continuity stories.
  • Glorious Death: His greatest ambition in most if not all of his incarnations (as well as one of the reasons his sheer determination always allows him to survive the most unthinkable situations) is that he wants to die at the hands of Batman so that he can let him Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and leave a lasting legacy even from three feet under.
  • Gonk: Depending on the Artist, he varies from "disfigured, but still fairly handsome" to "barely passes for human", the latter cases usually feature him with a really long and narrow nose and a huge, exaggerated mouth with a permanent Slasher Smile.
  • Good Counterpart: He has one on Earth 3, the Jokester who is the enemy of Owlman, and in Batman the Brave and the Bold, a heroic version of him is the Red Hood, who has his backstory but as a vigilante and didn't break from his chemical bath.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: While he often hides it under his jovial persona, Joker is easily set off by any slight, real or perceived, and the object of his rage will always receive some sort of violent retribution.
  • Hammy Villain, Serious Hero: He is the hammy villain to Batman's serious hero. Batman is famous for being a dark, stoic, no-nonsense, justice-driven vigilante, while the Joker is a manic, deranged Monster Clown. Perhaps the Joker's greatest goal is to drive Batman insane and make the Dark Knight just like him.
  • Handshake of Doom: Often kills unsuspecting victims by offering a handshake. When the other person grabs his hand, their palm is pricked by a device that resembles a joy buzzer, which injects deadly venom into their blood stream.
  • Hated by All: Apart from Harley (and even then, only when their on-off relationship is "on"), Gaggy and Punchline, no one likes or supports the Joker. In any way, whatsoever. Damn near every other member of Batman's Rogues Gallery hates his guts, mostly because not only is he completely sociopathic and unpredictable, but also they are all scared shitless by him. The only reason why he's even allowed in teams such as the Legion of Doom is because of that fear: if they exclude him from the lineup, then chances are that dead bodies will be lining the streets in their name. Trickster spells it out in "Underworld Unleashed."
    Trickster: Great going, Neron, bring in the one guy no one wants to be in the same room with. When super-villains want to scare each other, they tell Joker stories.
    • About the only person who can tolerate him for long is Lex Luthor, only because they both have the same level of hatred for their respective enemies. Even then, Luthor prefers to keep his distance from the Joker, if only because a bored Joker screws with everything For the Evulz.
  • The Heavy: Usually giving Batman some trouble in a most series.
  • Hero Killer: Famously murders Jason Todd extremely brutally in Batman: A Death in the Family, causing a shift in Batman's story and even affecting the tone of the greater DCU.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: As he's Batman's Arch-Enemy, he has a habit of pulling this on his fellow Bat-Rogues in the comics.
  • Hope Crusher: His life's goal is to either kill Batman or corrupt him by getting him to break his no-kill rule. Most of the time, he doesn't intend to stop at Batman either — he's a nihilistic Misanthrope Supreme. His murderous behaviour — as well as his suicidal recklessness — are violent acts of protest and despair at the world, not purely For the Evulz and his battle with Batman being an ideological one over who is correct. What he really wants is to give all mankind one bad day.
  • Horrifying the Horror: Been on both the giving end and receiving end.
    • According to the Trickster in Underworld Unleashed, villains will try to scare each other by telling stories about him.
    • On the receiving side: the Creeper, the Batman Who Laughs, Rag Doll's daughter Junior, Anton Arcane's antics, Terry McGinnis, and learning his own name scare the hell out of him.
  • Horror Host: Though the stories had more to do with crime than horror, the Joker's Asylum one-shots consisted of the Joker narrating stories about himself and the other members of Batman's rogues gallery, making puns and quips about the events and the characters involved all the while.
  • Humanoid Abomination: In some stories, like Darkseid War or Batman/Endgame it's hinted that the Joker could be Really 700 Years Old and some sort of unrivaled force of chaos and death.
  • Human Head on the Wall: There's a rather famous piece of comic book artwork drawn by Brian Bolland featuring The Joker lounging in a chair in front of a trophy wall mounted with the decapitated heads of various DC heroes and villains, all of them painted white and their faces distorted into a smile like the Joker himself. It's even been parodied a bunch of times with other comic supervillains sitting in Joker's place.
  • Hypocrite:
    • He absolutely despises The Batman Who Laughs, even though he's no different and depending on who's writing him, he could be worse.
    • He loves to mock other people's misery For the Evulz, but when they laugh at him, he flips out. For all his bravado and snark, he really hates being the punchline.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • The purple suit and matching pants with either an orange and/or green shirt with a bowtie or tie, remains the definitive Joker look one that many artists and costume designers have given spin on. He is sometimes known for wearing a cool hat but other times goes hatless.
    • The original Red Hood outfit which is a black suit, white shirt, bowtie with an opera cap and a bizarre red dome is also quite famous.
    • The Hawaiian tourist outfit he wore in the notorious scene in The Killing Joke.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: There have been a few times when the Joker engaged in cannibalism, such as an issue of JLA (1997) after Day Of Judgment, where upon the reveal that the Martian Manhunter took the League and the now Hal Jordan hosted-Spectre into the Joker's head, the Joker lamented eating a man's tongue raw. Additionally, an infamous bit in Emperor Joker has the Joker eat all of China while he had Mr. Mxyzptlk's powers.
  • Insane No More: Is cured by Batman forcing unknown pills down his throat in the non-canon Batman: White Knight, causing him go back to his real name, Jack Napier, make a Heel–Face Turn and accuse Batman of being part of the problem (he's also considerably better than the usual Joker, being closer to the earlier trickster personality).
  • Insult Backfire: He once responded to Robin telling him he was out of his mind by saying "Gloriously so. Isn't it wonderful?"
  • I've Come Too Far: At the end of The Killing Joke, Batman tries to reason with the Joker, insisting that they've got to stop before one of them kills the other and offering to help rehabilitate him. Joker briefly considers the offer before solemnly turning it down.
    Joker: No. I'm sorry, but... no. It's too late for that. Far too late.
  • It Amused Me: His raison d'etre. Why kill people in horrific ways, ruin their lives, and generally make the entire universe a worse place than he left it? Because it's funny.
  • Jekyll & Hyde:
  • Jerkass: Though that is a total understatement, Joker still more or less counts as one. When he isn't killing or torturing people for his own amusement, he's taunting them and trying get under other people's skin.
  • Joe Sent Me: The Joker will announce himself this way even when it isn't called for, hoping that they'll then ask "Joe who?" so he can answer "Joe Kerr!" Most guards do this out of fear, because he will murder them if they don't.
    • In the Azzarello Bermejo Joker graphic novel, he goes through the regular routine, but when the guard asks "Joe who?" he just puts his mouth up near the eye slot so they can see his distinctive smile.
  • Joker Immunity: invoked The Trope Namer. He was originally conceived as a one-off villain but proved too interesting a character to be killed off so quickly, and a last-minute edit had him survive instead. He's so famous for this that most works that kill him off, the audience doesn't buy it, and it serves as an effective twist the rare times when he is Killed Off for Real. But even those rare occasions may continue to feature him in flashbacks or hallucinations as a Posthumous Character.
  • Lack of Empathy: Joker is completely incapable of empathy and sees everyone else on the planet besides Bruce as existing solely for his amusement, treating their gruesome deaths as a joke or an accomplishment for him.
  • Large Ham: Holy shit, yes. He has an enormous sense of showmanship and is seen cracking Black Comedy jokes every minute, and it's a nigh-guarantee that whoever is portraying him will be munching the scenery to the very structure. Most especially the case if it happens to be Mark Hamill.
  • Laser-Guided Broadcast: In comic books as well in most of the media, when The Joker takes the control of TV and makes one of his menaces to threat and/or destroy Gotham City, good part of his message goes directly to Batman by tempting him to stop his plans, where usually destroy the city is just a secondary plan, getting/trapping/killing Batman as his real main plan.
  • Laughably Evil: Depending on the Writer, the Joker can be quite humorous in spite of being a murderous psychopath, especially in more lighthearted stories where he's more of a kooky prankster whose misdeeds tend to be more of a bizarre nuisance than a serious threat. Of course, when he is a serious threat, expect murderous pitch-black humor to ensue.
  • Laughing Mad: A recurring aspect of his origin story (especially in works released after and inspired by The Killing Joke) is that the moment he first sees his altered appearance from falling into a vat of chemicals (or whatever did it to him in that adaptation), he starts laughing maniacally from the physical and psychological pain.
  • Lethal Joke Character: In-Universe. Those unfamiliar with him tend to write Joker off as just some fool dressed as a clown, only to realize very quickly that he's anything but. He is one of the most dangerous villains in the DC Universe despite existing in a world filled with metas and gods. He's even upstaged Lex Luthor, Ra's Al Ghul, Brainiac and Darkseid in terms of villainy.
  • Locked into Strangeness: He has neon green hair caused by the chemicals he fell into.

  • Mad Artist: The Joker is a performer who commits his crimes as much for the theatrics as any sadism or profit. He once referred to Batman as the Straight Man in their act. He even tried making a Snuff Film titled "The Death Of Batman", acting like a Prima Donna Director in the process.
  • Master of Disguise: A talent he possesses even in his earliest stories. Joker is an expert with make-up, costumes and impersonations and has posed as everything from police officers to doctors to even Batman himself. He can go to extremely elaborate lengths to pull off his deceptions too, fabricating entire backstories and staying in-character for months at a time to see his plans through.
  • Mirthless Laughter: The Joker's constantly laughing, either at the pain and misery of others, the pain and misery he inflicts on others, or even his own pain. However, as described by many and offered by the reader based on his scenes and what he does, there is NEVER any joy in his laughter. Never any real happiness. Just cruelty and mockery of pain and sorrow. If he does indeed have a tragic backstory that caused his madness, then this makes sense as he has chosen to laugh instead of cry. His statement about how the universe should end "so there won't be anymore people like me" during the Emperor Joker storyline lends weight to him being a Sad Clown.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: While it's not evident given Joker's Laughing Mad demeanor and his penchant for macabre jokes usually at the life and limb expense of someone else, Joker is actually absolutely full of hatred and spite towards basically everyone and the entire world. Several stories have gone into this and it's implied that the Joker finds it so easy to kill everyone around him, not because he feels nothing for them, but in fact because he loathes everyone aside from his twisted relationship with Batman.
    • The first issue of Batman with Joker's debut has him described as having "burning, hate-filled eyes" and the moniker, "the Harlequin of Hate".
    • The Man Who Laughs had Bruce dosed with a light version of the Joker Venom and he felt his perspective shift into a paranoid vengeance were he felt everyone deserved to be punished for his parent's death just for existing.
    • Death of the Family had Batman describe how Joker's irises are always narrow when looking at anyone but Batman and that it is usually an indication of negative feelings toward something with Bruce mentioning that his eye are the eyes of someone who hates everything he sees.
  • Moment of Lucidity: There've been a few times when outside forces have sent him into a fit of temporary sanity over the years.
    • In the JLA (1997) storyline "Rock of Ages", Martian Manhunter has to put in incredible effort to reorganize Joker's mind long enough for him to give up the cataclysmic Philosopher's Stone. The briefly sane Joker immediately says My God, What Have I Done? verbatim as he hands it back, before quickly losing his mind and going back to the laughing madman.
    • The famous example from the end of The Killing Joke, where Batman tries to convince him to allow Batman to rehabilitate him before their vendetta kills them. Joker considers it for a long, somber moment before quietly reflecting that they're both too far gone.
    • Batman: Cacophony ends with Joker being pumped full of an inhuman amount of antipsychotic drugs to keep him under control while in recovery from a near-fatal stabbing. Batman takes the opportunity to have a relatively-sane conversation with him, though it's somewhat subverted by Joker still being a homicidal sociopath even while heavily sedated.
  • Monster Clown: One of the classic examples.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Practically the trope codifier and namer. Even he isn't sure of his own history. The most accepted version introduced in Detective Comic #168 (1951) has him as a thug named the Red Hood who jumps into a vat of chemicals to escape Batman, disfiguring him and inspiring him to adopt the name Joker.
    • Why he went by the name the Red Hood has changed over the years: The Killing Joke claims he was a failed comedian pressured into becoming a criminal to support his pregnant wife. The trauma of his disfigurement from jumping in the acid and his wife's earlier accidental death drove him insane. However, even this backstory is questionable, as the Joker himself calls it "multiple choice".
    • One common tradition is for him to tell multiple, often contradictory backstories within the same story, which will sometimes even be called out as fake. In The Dark Knight, he tells two different versions of "how I got these scars." In Batman: The Animated Series, he tells Harley he was abused as a child, but Batman lists several other "classics" Joker had spun over the years. In Harley Quinn (2019), Harley lists off tragic details of his childhood, only for Poison Ivy to point out that was her childhood and Joker copied it. One issue of Robin has his psychiatrist state his latest story was the seventh one he's told.
    • Although Joker's Injustice version was canonically killed by Superman and briefly appears as a Smilex-induced hallucination to Harley in Injustice 2, he will spit out contradictory reasons for his Back from the Dead status in non-canon fights and will go along with whatever his opponent thinks is true. The clown also sounded genuinely perked up when Atrocitus mentioned something happened that drove the clown to nihilism.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Whenever he is made temporarily sane, most notably by a Lazarus pit after Ra's Al Ghul killed him after a Villain Team-Up and in JLA (1997) #15 during the Rock of Ages storyline, Joker usually expresses deep remorse for his crimes. Unfortunately it never lasts.
  • Mysterious Past: He's given vague and contradictory info about his backstory.note  Because of this, some writers depict him as a literal and/or figurative avatar of madness and chaos. What is generally accepted is that Batman had a hand in Joker's creation and that the clown was a low-level thug who got dunked in acid before becoming who he is today.
  • Narcissist: Joker has a giant ego, thinking he's the smartest and greatest comedian, criminal, and person in the world who loves to hear himself laugh even if others don't care. The minute someone calls his jokes lame, openly mocks him, or makes him the butt of their prank, he becomes an Ax-Crazy maniac. This flaw has been used against him many times.
  • The Nicknamer: He's prone to giving nicknames to allies and enemies alike. Sometimes affectionate, sometimes snarky, but always undesired. Calling Batman "Batsy" or "Bats" and Robin "boy blunder" are probably his most iconic.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Some of the Joker's victims fall into this. Case in point: During Knightfall, once he realizes that Azrael isn't Batman, his plan's gone to hell, and one too many criticisms from stand-ins who are clearly supposed to be Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert, he kills the stand-ins.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: He wants to win a proper triumph over Batman by successfully carrying out a scheme to frustrate, defeat, and ultimately destroy him, and has been known to pass up easy opportunities to kill his foe precisely because they were too easy to be satisfying.
  • No Love for the Wicked:
    • He is shown to be more interested in his schemes and mayhem rather than sex. Indeed, usually the closest thing he shows to romantic interest in someone is his Foe Romance Subtext with Batman.
    • He has had sex with Harley, but it is implied that it's more for her rather than his own enjoyment. He has actively ignored her when he simply wants to work on his schemes, even when she's in the translucent red night dress.
  • No Name Given: The Joker is the only Batman villain who doesn't have an official real identity. While he still has no official name to this day, it's general fan consensus that it's either Jack Napier or just Jack.
  • No Sense of Humor: Surprisingly enough, the original version of the Joker was this. In his first appearance, he was a permanently smiling psychotic gangster with no sense of humor whatsoever. In his first fight with Batman, Bats is actually the one making puns, while Joker is screaming "I am going to kill you!"
  • Not a Mask: Sometimes he pretends to wear makeup, but it ain't makeup. Jack Nicholson's version wore flesh-tone makeup over his pale skin several times after his transformation. It's unclear if this is the case for Caesar Romero's depiction, as Romero's mustache is visible at times (he refused to shave for the part).
  • Nothing Is Scarier: What makes Joker so scary is the lack of a consistent backstory. After all, he codifies the Multiple-Choice Past trope. As such, he went From Nobody to Nightmare by virtue of becoming the scariest villain in DC Comics, who haven't taken a stance on this.
  • Not Me This Time: Though he certainly wouldn't mind committing them, he's been framed for murders he didn't commit several times, such as by James Gordon Jr.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: He is not the buffoon even the other villains think he is by outstripping them just to prove how evil he is.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Zig-Zagged Trope/Depending on the Writer. Some stories claim that the Joker is actually sane but pretends to be otherwise to avoid the death penalty. Others say he is genuinely crazy. It must be noted that Joker, like other Batman villains, was only identified as insane from the 70s onwards by various writers.note 
  • Odd Friendship: With Lex Luthor. While they've fought, the two work surprisingly well together and tend to display a mutual respect. One of the best examples of this comes from Underworld Unleashed. Recruited as part of a team of five villains to serve to demon Neron, Luthor and Joker immediately conspire with the others to steal Neron's power, only for it to be revealed as a successful scheme to get rid of the other three villains. Luthor and Joker understood each other so well they managed to put this together without even speaking about it. They even high-five afterwards.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Despite the Joker's infamous reputation and violent instability he never has any issues finding new henchmen for his schemes nor does he ever have any issues finding the resources needed to pull off his often-convoluted plans and he's often able to do it all without attracting the attention of Batman or the authorities until he's ready for them.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: He becomes this during Emperor Joker after stealing the powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk. With reality-warping powers under his control, Joker intends to remake and decreate all of existence simply for funsies and because he feels revolved by the universe for having created him.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: In the story "Joker's Millions," Joker decides to retire after inheriting rival mob boss "King" Barlowe's fortune and spends his money freely, only to find out too late that most of it was Counterfeit Cash. Joker is now torn between admitting a dead man conned him and becoming Gotham's Butt-Monkey (which he won't do), getting jailed for tax evasion (which he won't do either), or returning to crime so he can save his reputation from being sullied.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: A general rule of thumb: If the Joker isn't smiling, something very bad is about to happen.
    • If you want to know how truly terrifying The Batman Who Laughs is, look no further than the way Joker acts whenever discussing him. He doesn't laugh, he doesn't smile. He becomes calm and serious and simply tells whomever he's talking to that the TBWL is "a wrong thing that shouldn't exist". Someone HAS to be scary if the very thought of him makes Joker act like a calm rational sane person.
    • He abruptly ends a partnership with Red Skull when the latter is revealed to be a Nazi, angrily proclaiming that he "may be a criminal lunatic, but he's an American criminal lunatic!"
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Pretty much sums up his feelings towards Batman. He often flies into a rage whenever someone else attempts to kill Batman when in his company, and whenever Batman (seemingly) dies he has a tendency to completely snap and turn sane. This actually goes the other direction as well: the Joker feels that Batman is the only one allowed to defeat him, and it's shown he's terrified of someone else doing him in some continuities.
  • Outside-Context Problem: A recurring theme of Joker's "first appearance" stories in various adaptations is that nobody in Gotham is prepared for a guy who's only in it For the Evulz. Also, the Joker himself likes to find these and exploit them.
    • On the rare occasion Joker gets bored and leaves Gotham, expect everyone to think of him as just a silly clown, until the bodies start piling up.
  • Pet the Dog: For as much of a lunatic as he is, he does have some standards:
    • He read stories to Astrid Ingram as she grew up and also helped deliver her.
    • He loathes Nazis. He might be an absolute criminal, but the Nazis are monsters.
    • He isn't amused by someone illegally parking in a handicapped space. There's no comedy in that.
    • He might hate Batman, but he genuinely respects him, his principles, and their status as each others' Arch-Enemy. This comes to a head when it comes to The Batman Who Laughs, who the Joker despises - not only is the Joker not an Omnicidal Maniac, but TBWL is a twisted mockery of all of the principles that Batman holds. The Joker won't abide by TBWL existing because of all of those reasons.
  • Phrase Catcher: Back in his prankster phase during the Silver Age, whenever one of Joker's capers got foiled, someone would inevitably trot out the line "The joke's on you, Joker!" For obvious reasons, his current Monster Clown incarnation doesn't get this nearly as often.
  • Pimp Duds: He sometimes accessorizes his purple suit with a very wide-brimmed hat, which makes the ensemble look like a stereotypical pimp costume.
  • Poison Is Evil: The Joker is famous for his Joker Venom, which not only kills people but leaves them with a ghastly smile. He's also quite fond of Deadly Gas depending on the work.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • Played With, while pragmatic might be too strong of a word, many of Joker's Even Evil Has Standards moments are mostly because he finds a specific crime to be unfunny, rather than having any moral qualms with such an act.
    • Joker's famous hatred of nazis can also be chalked up to this. Being a nihilist who wants to overthrow social order entirely he's at offs with Nazis who want to overthrow the current order only to replace it with their own bigoted version. As an Equal-Opportunity Evil, he wouldn't be one to discriminate and target specific groups. Everyone is fair game to Joker.
  • Pre-Insanity Reveal: Depending on the version, he may have been an ordinary comedian before he went nuts.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Purple is one of Joker's three colors (along with white and green) and he is powerful.
  • Psycho Knife Nut: In many appearances, knives are his weapons, either to disfigure his victims or kill his foes. Often both.
    The Joker: Do you want to know why I use a knife? Guns are too... quick. You can't savor all the little emotions. You see, in their last moments, people show you who you really are.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: While his intellect is far from childlike, Joker's clown-themed gags, his penchant for wanton chaos, and endless laughter like a maniac while maiming others really throw his maturity into question.
    • For starters, when Batman is telling Joker to stay away from the Gordons after he apparently hurt Gordon's wife (it was actually his son, Gordon Jr. who did the deed), Joker commented that he didn't do anything to "the old bitch", and starts commenting to Batman that he misses the old Batman, and commented that he "doesn't want to go to bed yet" and that he "wants to play."
  • Redemption Rejection: In The Killing Joke, Batman defeats the Joker once again and then desperately pleads with him to accept help recovering from his madness before they eventually kill each other. In one of his rare, completely serious moments, the Joker sincerely apologizes and tells Batman that it's far too late for that.
  • Related in the Adaptation: In the Elseworld one-shot Batman/Lobo, it is revealed that he and Batman are twin brothers.
  • The Resenter: Joker has often shown resentment towards people in many ways in different stories. The best example is him being resentful of anyone who garners more attention from Batman than him and anyone he sees as "stealing his act", i.e. being a laughing mad, jokey maniac cramping his style (The Creeper in Batman TAS, Terry McGinnis in Batman Beyond, "King Barlowe", etc.). Regardless, many of his crimes and attitudes often carry an undercurrent of resentment be it towards the Bat-family because he resents sharing Batman with anyone or normal people for living their mundane lives free of care. Given how much spite seems to fuel his rampages, Joker's probably got a mountain of resentment inside of him.
  • Restoration of Sanity: On occasion, Joker's sanity will suddenly return to him, usually in stories where Batman retires or is believed to have died. His reactions tend to vary - sometimes we don't see how he reacts to what he did, but other times he actually shows genuine regret for his actions. Of course, these never tend to stick.
  • The Reveal: When Batman sat in Metron's chair in Darkseid War, one of the questions he asked was who the Joker was and the answer freaked him out and at the end, it's revealed why: there were three Jokers. Granted, even after Batman: Three Jokers saw print, writer Geoff Johns (who also wrote "Darkseid War") pulled a Shrug of God on if the series was canon, he did intend for it to be a Collective Identity — and then Chip Zdarsky's Batman'' run officially said it wasn't canon and walked back the "three Jokers" identity to be a case of Split Personality, not literally three different men.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Being the Trope Namer for Multiple-Choice Past, it's unknown who he was before falling into an acid tank and whether he was nuts even before being dunked. He even believes his origins, Depending on the Writer of course.
    • One issue of the Robin had him talking about having Abusive Parents, only for a psychiatrist to tell him it's the seventh story he's told now.
    • The Killing Joke claims he was a failed comedian driven to crime to support his pregnant wife. The trauma of his disfigurement and his wife's earlier accidental death drove him mad. However, even this could be a lie, as he himself calls it "multiple choice".
    • Shadow of the Bat #38, Tears of a Clown: He celebrates his anniversary of the day he was a still sane, but hapless comedian, and was thrown out of an exclusive Stand-Up Comedy club for an unfunny act the patrons mercilessly heckled. It was the last straw as he agreed to provide to his family by pulling a job for the Red Hood gang. So he kidnaps all the patrons and reenacts his act with control collars that will kill them when they laugh. Oddly enough, the patrons are hardcore Stand-Up Comedy fans, so they can't remember the number of times they've booed someone. However, even this origin story could be a lie.
    Joker: They throw me out, and I had a wife and an unborn child... or it was two cows and a goat? Sometimes it's so confusing...
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: He's primarily Batman's Arch-Enemy and mainly harasses Batman and most members of the Bat-family. But there is the rare occasion when he goes up against other heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, or Green Arrow.
  • Rule of Funny: One of his primary themes (alongside insanity), as explained in Whatever Happened to The Caped Crusader?:
    "Kid. I'm the Joker. I don't just randomly kill people. I kill people when it's funny. What would conceivably be funny about killing you?"

  • Sadist: Torturing, humiliating, and generally making others miserable is his main way of humouring and entertaining himself. His sadism also paves way for why he likes to fashion himself as an exhibitionist; he wants to make a show out of just how much he can brutalize and torment others and tends to make it a special case if it involves Batman. The Joker is so absorbed by his desire to cause harm and suffering for the sake of entertainment that even other sadists are either shocked and/or confused by just how far he's willing to spread his depravity.
  • Satanic Archetype: He can be described as one, given that he comes off as a trickster who loves to sow discord and chaos just For the Evulz. He also dresses in light colors compared to Batman's Dark Is Not Evil vibe. Being a foil to the Dark Knight, his two main goals are to make Batman laugh (i.e. mentally break him) and prove that the world is just as ugly as he is in most of his versions. He also frequently twists his backstory to distort the truth, which is how he was able to manipulate Harley Quinn to become his moll.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Green hair, purple suit and he is Batman's Arch-Enemy.
  • Secret Identity Apathy: In most continuities, he simply doesn't care about Batman's Secret Identity, because his obsession is with Batman himself and not the man behind the mask; and occasionally, because he's of the opinion that Batman is the true face anyway. Sometimes this goes so far as to actively avoiding finding out or being told by someone else, because for some reason knowing Batman's secret identity will somehow "ruin" their dynamic, and the Joker likes things just as they are.
  • Self-Made Orphan: In The Brave and the Bold #31, Atom reads his mind and sees The Joker burning his parents alive after they catch him killing animals.
  • Slasher Smile: He wears one almost by default. Reportedly, it was inspired by this photo of Conrad Veidt in character as Gwynplaine (a man with a disfigured face, causing him to have a perpetual grin) in The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo.
    • It's come to be his primary disfigurement over the original skin bleaching.
  • The Sociopath: A skilled and gleeful manipulator, a vicious butcher who brutally tortures and murders others simply because he thinks it’s funny, extraordinarily impulsive given that he’s prone to turning his murderous urges on his own men on a whim or because one upset him in some way, shape or form, and has not even the vaguest notion of empathy, neither for his men or his victims.
  • Sold His Soul for a Donut: While most of the villains Neron dealt with Underworld Unleashed wanted more power or something else useful (like Dr. Polaris ridding himself of the Neal Emerson personality or Lex Luthor wanting his full health restored) for their souls, the Joker sold his for a box of Cuban cigars.
  • Split Personality: Some stories, including Grant Morrison suggesting it in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth and followed by the text story, "The Clown at Midnight", from their Batman run after tried to explain the various differences in the Joker's behavior over the years as this. Chip Zdarsky's own Batman run officially confirms this in the "Joker: Year One" arc by striking the already-questionably-if-it's-canon Batman: Three Jokers from continuity and instead stating the "three Jokers" revelation from "Darkseid War" was referring to the Joker having three personalities, not literally being three different people.
  • The Spook: Attributing to his Multiple-Choice Past, Joker's origins are an eternal Riddle for the Ages. He'll give contradictory and/or vague statements just to gain sympathy and escape from Arkham. DC Comics refuses to take an official stance on this.
  • Start of Darkness: Detective Comics #168 posits he was a laboratory worker who becomes the Red Hood in order to steal a million dollars from his employers and retire. In The Killing Joke he quits his job to become a comedian, but fails and is coerced by mobsters to commit a robbery, becoming the Red Hood. His disfigurement and (in The Killing Joke) his wife's death earlier in the story destroy what little was left of his sanity and he becomes The Joker. Maybe.
  • Stealing the Handicapped Spot: He doesn't do this. Rather, he hates it when other people do it and finds it hilarious to horrifically cripple them so they can legitimately park in handicapped spots.
  • Straw Nihilist: The poster child for this. He claims that everything in life is just "one big joke," death is the ultimate punchline, and that "a bad day" is more than enough for anyone to turn out like him. This is shown notably in The Killing Joke. In fact, in many stories, it's all but said the only thing that's keeping him alive is his need to kill others and fight Batman–without the epic victory over his diametric foe to cap off his existence, he has nothing else to live for.
    The Joker:"Without Batman... crime has no punchline."
  • Strong as They Need to Be: His fighting skills fluctuate wildly. Sometimes, Joker is an excellent fighter who can actually defeat Batman in a straight-up fight, whereas most writers prefer to present him as so weak that he can be knocked out cold with one punch.
  • Stupid Evil: Depending on the writer, Joker can sometimes be killed off by people he's wronged due to his cruelty and sadism.
  • Theme Serial Killer: Will do this on occasion. One notable incident was in Arkham Asylum: Living Hell, where he decided to kill everyone in Gotham whose name was a palindrome, for no real reason than the fact that he stumbled on a phone book while breaking out of Arkham, and noticed a person with a palindromic name on the open page.
  • To Create a Playground for Evil: His motivation in stories like Emperor Joker.
  • Too Kinky to Torture: The Joker has shown a proclivity for this over the years. At one point, the Joker berated a man who'd captured him for only hitting him in the face. Salvation Run had established the Joker's been in constant pain since he took his fateful dive into the vat of chemicals that altered his appearance and not only had gotten used to it, but grew to enjoy it.
  • Tombstone Teeth: He is often drawn with too many too-long teeth as part of his trademark rictus grin, highlighting his nature as a psychotic and sadistic killer.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Depending on the story, he's usually written off as some clown incapable of harming others. He isn't.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Even he isn't sure of his own history, so anything he claims is suspect at best.
  • Villain Has a Point: Given his devotion to Rule of Funny, he's quite knowledgeable on what makes successful comedy.
  • Villain Song: Alan Moore's "I Go Loony" from The Killing Joke, an in-panel song-and-dance tune that was eventually made into an actual song belted out in Batman: The Killing Joke.
  • Villainous Friendship: No matter how bad things turned out last time, Lex Luthor and Joker will always work together again. Played With, as it isn’t just because of friendship. As Luthor himself notes in the ending of Infinite Crisis, you always "let the Joker play," lest he come after you for revenge later on for leaving him out.
  • Villainous Harlequin: He was this during the Silver Age.
  • Villainous Rescue: In Dark Nights: Metal, The Joker pulls this off by teaming up with Batman to defeat the Batman Who Laughs, Batman knowing that a jokerized Batman would have the upper hand teams up with the Joker. It is so unexpected that the Batman Who Laughs, who is still prepared for anything Batman would conceivably think of, is unable to counter it let alone even consider it a possibility.
  • Villain Protagonist: He was the star of his own nine-issue self-titled series from 1975 to 1976. In order to adhere to the Comics Code Authority, The Bad Guy Wins was never in effect - while he usually managed to get one over on other villains, each issue would end the Joker being apprehended for his crimes.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Simply put, he doesn't give a shit about injuring or killing women because, after all, killing is either a comedy or he just hates everything. For well-known examples, he shot Sarah Essen in the head, paralyzed Barbara Gordon with a shot to her spine, and he's a notorious Domestic Abuser towards Harley on their worst days.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Children are not exempt from who Joker would like to attack or kill as an out for his evil. He battered Jason Todd with a crowbar and tossed a baby, gambling for Sarah Essen to grab and rescue, among other things. Given his insanely long history as a supervillain, Joker has killed a child somewhere down his career.
  • You Monster!: He's subjected to being called this by a number of heroes and villains, all of whom become appalled by just how far Joker is willing to indulge in his depravity and for never considering the collateral damage he causes towards others. Not that Joker cares about it one bit or, hell, wouldn't appreciate the sentiment.

The Three Jokers

    In General 

    The Criminal 

The Criminal

The Criminal version of the Joker takes on the traits he used during the Joker's Golden Age appearances, where he was a No-Nonsense Nemesis to Batman and had no problems with Why Don't You Just Shoot Him? in response to the Caped Crusader. Of the three, he is the most organized and philosophical, believing that there must be some meaning to the Joker as Batman's archenemy.

  • Character Exaggeration: Golden Age Joker wasn't fully the stoic overboss the Criminal is depicted as. He still had some traits that would be emphasized by later ages into his biggest traits, like a tendency to smile menacingly at people, but seemed to have a grasp on his sanity and was a bit more serious about things before becoming an utter loon who did everything he did for sick laughs in the Silver Age and a violent psychopath who wants the world to burn to further his nihilistic views in the Bronze Age.
  • The Don: Claims to have "ran Gotham" before Batman appeared on the scene.
  • Freudian Trio: The coolheaded, logical superego.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: Is the most sharply dressed and dapper of the three Jokers. His clothing brings to mind classic gangsters of the 30's and 40's, which makes sense considering the era Batman was created in.
  • Mirthless Laughter: The Criminal actually hates laughing since it causes him physical pain. He seems to do it most often when things aren't going his way, like when Jason Todd mocks him or when Batman foils his scheme at the end.
  • Revenge: Comments he makes to Jason imply that this is his motive for warring against Batman, to have his revenge over his fall into toxic waste.
  • The Stoic: Of the three, he laughs the least as he is the most serious and also claims that it hurts when he laughs. This is a reflection of how the Joker was in the beginning where he was surprisingly serious and only tended to smile menacingly at others.

    The Clown 

The Clown

The Clown is the showman of the group and the one responsible for the zany props, elaborate crimes with locales like a giant props factory, and makes sure his crime sprees follow a theme. He is physically modeled after the Silver Age Joker who was more of a harmless prankster, though the Clown is anything but harmless. After all, he is strongly implied to be the same Joker who bludgeoned Jason Todd and killed him in an explosion.

  • Adaptational Badass: He's based on the Silver Age depiction, but the Silver Age had a lot of criteria that made comic book villains considerably less dangerous. Since this is way past the time of those restrictions, he's more than willing to kill. It's even implied he was the Joker that killed Jason Todd.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: He's the Silver Age Joker, and thus he's a Harmless Villain who did not much more than make crude jokes, right? Well we're not in the Silver Age anymore, and he's just as dangerous as the other two Jokers. Ask Jason Todd; it's heavily implied he was his killer.
  • Crowbar Combatant: If the implications are to be believed, then he's definitely the Joker to have made the crowbar a popular Iconic Item for the Joker mythos.
  • Freudian Trio: The balanced ego. That in no way means he's sane.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: It turns out that the Silver Age Joker, a Harmless Villain in his hayday, was possibly the one that killed Jason Todd, making him of all people the catalyst for the Red Hood as we know him.
  • Monster Clown: While all of the Jokers are obviously this, he definitely takes the cake by not only having the title. But the one with the zany, elaborate, comedic and yet deadly schemes.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: The least developed of the Jokers and he is shot in the head by Jason during the first issue.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Comes with the territory, when it''s implied that he's the one that killed Jason Todd.

    The Comedian 

The Comedian/Jack Oswald White

The Comedian is the sadist of the group and the one most bitter and hateful towards everyone and everything. Modeled after the Bronze Age Joker as defined by The Killing Joke, he's the most violent and psychotic, believing only in chaos.

  • Ax-Crazy: Is stated by Batman to be the most sadistic, psychotic and violent of the three.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While it’s implied he may have been abusive to her, Book Two shows he genuinely misses Jeannie and desires to have her and his son back so they can be a family, as shown by his daydreams about them.
  • Freudian Trio: The unhinged Id.
  • Given Name Reveal: Flashpoint Beyond #5 reveals his real name: Jack Oswald White.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: While all three Jokers are this to one degree or another, the Comedian is most petty, spiteful, and immature of the three. He only cares about hurting others and causing harm out of spite. He has no greater goals beyond punishing the world for his own misery and is the meanest out of the Jokers.
  • Villainous Rescue: Shoots dead two Joker goons that were overpowering Barbara in Book Three.

Alternative Title(s): The Joker, Batman Three Jokers