The Bat-Family (Batgirl | Batwoman | Jason Todd | Robin) | Extended Bat-Family & Other Supporting Cast (Azrael | Huntress)
Bane | Catwoman (Selina Kyle) | Clayface | Harley Quinn (Harleen Quinzel) | The Joker | Lady Shiva | League of Assassins (Ra's Al Ghul | Talia Al Ghul) | The Penguin | Poison Ivy | The Riddler | The Scarecrow | Two Face | A-H | J-R | S-Z
Batgirl (2000) | Batman and the Outsiders | Dark Nights: Metal (The Batman Who Laughs) | I Am Batman | Nightwing (Dick Grayson) | Red Hood and the Outlaws | Robin (1993) (Tim Drake) | Robin (2021) (Damian Wayne)
Alter ego: Harleen Quinzel
First appearance: Batman: The Animated Series - "Joker's Favor" (September 11, 1992)
Which genius decided to let a fresh-out-of-college intern be The Joker's therapist, we'll never know (it's heavily implied that no one actually wants to work at Arkham), but Harley Quinn was the result. As Joker's doctor, Dr. Harleen Quinzel tried — like so many others before her — to restore the psychotic killer to sanity. She not only failed, but fell in love with him. The countless Freudian Excuse stories that Joker fed her were likely a part of it, since Harley has proclaimed that ever since she laid eyes on the clown, it was love at first sight.
Though it was Batman: The Animated Series that introduced her (originally as just the Joker's henchgirl), Harley became popular enough to be included in the comics as well, and it was a comic (later adapted into a TV episode) that first told her origin. Perhaps even crazier than the Joker himself, you can count on Harley to be right alongside her "puddin'", mindlessly loyal to him, but cleverly lethal.
Not even Harley can stand the Joker's endless tirades of abuse and madcap lifestyle, however, and when she's in her downtime, she often finds consolation in Poison Ivy, whom she has a deep friendship with.
Has had four solo series, the tropes for which can be found here.
Thanks to the character's popularity, she has appeared in various adaptations. In addition to Batman: The Animated Series, she has also been featured in The Batman, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and was the Big Bad of the short-lived Birds of Prey (2002). She was also one of the main characters in the Batman: Assault on Arkham film. She's a major character in the Batman: Arkham Series, and is playable in Batman: Arkham Knight. She appears in the DC Extended Universe films Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey and The Suicide Squadnote , played by Australian actress Margot Robbie, and she's set to appear in the sequel to 2019's Joker, Joker: Folie à Deux, played by no less than Lady Gaga. She's also one of the students in DC Super Hero Girls; in that continuity, she's undergone Adaptational Heroism and is portrayed as a lovably mischievous prankster. Perhaps the ultimate example of her breakout success, she's the star of her very own animated series on DC Universe. Stjepan Šejić created a well-regarded "character study" for her as fanart, highlighting parts of her origin story. He insisted they would never lead to anything more - until they did, with his 3 to 6 volume origin story Harleen published under DC's Black Label starting in 2019.
Not to be confused with the Agatha Christie character.
Visit her self-demonstrating page here.
Harley Quinn has appeared in:
Film - Live-Action
- LEGO Batman
- DC Universe Online
- Batman: Arkham Series
- Injustice: Gods Among Us
- Multi Versus
- Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League
- DC Animated Universe
- The Batman
- Batman: The Brave and the Bold
- Teen Titans Go!
- Justice League Action
- Harley Quinn
- The LEGO Batman Movie
- DC Super Hero Girls
- Justice League: Gods and Monsters "Twisted" short
Harley Quinn provides examples of:
- Abhorrent Admirer: To Batwoman when the two work together during the "Verdict" arc of Harley's fourth solo series. Harley is utterly smitten with Batwoman, and while Batwoman never outright shuts Harley down about it, she's clearly not interested in anything beyond their work. Given Harley's past and that she was still acting annoying in the present, it's a fair call.
- Abnormal Ammo: Those oversized "popguns" she carries can fire anything.
- Adaptation Dye-Job:
- She mentioned in Batman: The Animated Series that she's not a real blonde. DC consistently depicts her as a natural blonde in comics.
- She sported dyed white hair in Batman: The Brave and the Bold.
- She has black hair in Arkham City: Harley Quinn's Revenge and Injustice: Gods Among Us.
- It's changed again in Suicide Squad (2016)... sort of. She's still blonde—but like in Batman: Arkham City the tips of her pigtails are dyed, though the black was replaced with blue.
- While averted in the series proper, in the original, unaired pilot of Birds of Prey (2002), she has black hair.
- Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Depending on the target audience, almost every version of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy are best friends or life partners, with Harley being basically the only human Ivy has positive emotions towards.
- Adaptational Backstory Change: Harley's Start of Darkness in the comics was her meeting The Joker when she was a psychiatrist/psychologist at Arkham Asylum. Harley in DC Superhero Girls is too young to be a psychiatrist (under most circumstances) and was bullied by the Joker when she was younger. Her backstory has only briefly been mentioned. Harley had wanted to be a superhero since she was little, so she probably worked hard to get into the Superhero School given that she's a Badass Normal with no powers. Harley is a through-and-through hero unlike her villainous (occasionally Anti-Hero) comic book version.
- Adaptational Early Appearance: Batman: The Killing Joke, an animated film adaptation of The Killing Joke, features a cameo by Harley Quinn among the images of the Joker shown on the Batcomputer. This is in spite of the fact that the source material predated Harley's work of origin, Batman: The Animated Series, by four years and that Harley Quinn wasn't integrated into the comics continuity until 1999.
- Adaptational Intelligence: In the original Mad Love comic, written by her creator's Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and set in the DCAU, it's implied that Harley had slept her way through college to earn her psychology degree, otherwise she'd fail. When she jumped into the mainstream comics she became legitimately intelligent, though still ditzy enough that it takes other characters by surprise. Most later adaptations follow suit.
- Adaptational Jerkass: In The Batman, Harley was already stuck-up and had a few screws loose, even before meeting the Joker, and the Joker doesn't need to do much to push her over the edge. She also is shown poisoning squirrels, something most Harleys wouldn't do.
- Adaptational Late Appearance: Harley was introduced in an early episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "Joker's Favor", but also wasn't introduced until season 4 of The Batman.
- Adaptational Nationality: In DC Comics Bombshells, Harley is British.
- Adaptational Skimpiness: Harley has been hit with this a lot in The New '10s. It started with Batman: Arkham Asylum having her in a skimpy "sexy nurse" outfit as a call back to her previous career and to fit the setting, only to evolve from there. In the comics specifically in the New 52, Harley goes from a conservative jester suit to wearing a corset that barely holds her breasts and bares midriff, some hotpants, and stockings with combat boots. Her solo series sees her wearing some more conservative outfits, but they'll usually be showing off her legs, midriff, cleavage, or some combination of the three. See the film section below for Suicide Squad and the video game section for the Arkham games. The in-universe reason for this outfit change is that Harley is no longer attached to the Joker and she's trying to assert herself as an individual by ditching the matching jester outfit. Justified with her DC Comics Bombshells look since the whole work's style is inspired by 1940s pin-up art. She only wears a Bomber jacket, some shorts, combat boots, and a bra that matches her color scheme.
- Adaptational Ugliness: Justice League: Gods and Monsters did this to Harley, who is usually a very beautiful in the DC Universe, but in the short "Twisted", she has a very deranged appearance and looks Gonkish with weird body proportions. Ironically, this version of her wears a very Stripperiffic costume even more than normal, but the effect is more disturbing than titillating.
- Adaptational Villainy: Harley's malevolence in comparison to the Joker is usually pretty low-key, but she takes it up a notch or three in some continuities.
- In the Arkham video game series, Harley is a lot more murderous, though that's partially because the Joker ends up dying due to his Titan exposure. It gets to the point that she just wants to kill everyone in the city out of sheer spite.
- In the elseworld depicted in the animated film Justice League: Gods and Monsters, Harley is a full-fledged psychopathic Serial Killer who keeps fridges full of mangled human body parts, makes "toys" out of mangled corpses, and even has a makeshift "family" made of people she's murdered, crudely preserved and stapled their faces into perpetual smiles — including a little brother. Worse, unlike the mainstream Harley, she seems to have no connection to her world's version of the Joker (assuming he exists); she's just a murdering maniac. She's so creepy, it actually comes as a relief when this world's version of Batman, a scientifically created vampire, murders her for a meal at the end of her episode "Twisted".
- Her Establishing Character Moment in the New 52 is blowing up a bunch of children with knock-off GameBoys she rigged into bombs. Definitely a step up from trying to feed Batman to piranhas in makeup.
- She also gets this treatment in the Lighter and Softer DC Super Hero Girls (2019). In the show, she is a Loony Fan of The Joker who became a villain on her own instead of being manipulated by The Joker.
- Affably Evil: Harley is insane, no doubt about it, but she's also one of the more social members of Batman's Rogue Gallery, having genuine friendships with several of the other rogues.
- Allegorical Character: She serves as one to toxic relationships.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys: Justified. Despite her sympathetic portrayal, she's very far from being innocent and virtuous herself.
- Alternate Company Equivalent: She started out as a villain but eventually evolved into a relatively brutal Anti-Hero with a comical streak and wears red and black. She also became a Breakout Character for DC and receives a lot of Wolverine Publicity to the point of appearing in multiple comics and locations that you might not think would revolve around her, whether it's in the Justice League, Themiscyra, Apokolips, or more. Additionally, Her stories generally feature more comedy, sexual content, and Bloodier and Gorier material compared to other heroes. Harley may not have a Healing Factor but by this point, she could be considered the female DC equivalent to Deadpool, despite Deadpool being based off of Deathstroke, especially now that she essentially fills the same environmental niche to DC that Deadpool does to Marvel in being a comical Anti-Hero who wears red and black and can sometimes turn the entire DC universe into her stomping grounds with her own unique brand of violence and Black Comedy.
- Anti-Hero: She fluctuates between a good-hearted villain and devious but heroic very rapidly. With the New 52 she became a full Anti-Hero in her solo series; she doesn't try to cause trouble, it just happens, and she enforces justice in her own way, like freeing a neglected dog and punishing the owner, and rescuing an old woman who was robbed and giving her some money despite her own day going wrong in every way possible.
- Artifact Title: Her villain name. It's supposed to be a play on words of her real name which is based on the harlequin jester character. But after the New 52, she no longer wears her jester outfit.
- Ascended Extra: Originally designed so Joker could have a female henchman. Her design proved popular enough with the fans that eventually she made more appearances and more of her personality was fleshed out (she was more of a Deadpan Snarker in the early days chiding at one point to the Joker "You're sick, you know that, boss?") and got bigger roles till a back story was eventually made for her.
- Ascended Fangirl: In the New 52, she's a big Wonder Woman fan, and is overjoyed whenever she gets the chance to team up with her.
- Ax-Crazy: Not as concentrated on single, gruesome killings as her puddin', but much more enthusiastic towards large-scale property damage.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: One of her origin stories has her going for a job at Arkham Asylum because she doesn't feel challenged enough with regular therapy sessions. She got the job... and then met The Joker.
- Berserk Button: As of the New 52 she is the Joker's Ex-Girlfriend. Bringing him up at all is a good way to set her off.
- Beware the Nice Ones: She is, by far, the nicest, sweetest member of Batman's rogues gallery. However, do not think her lovelorn origin and bubbly demeanor mean she isn't a homicidal psychopath.
- Big Bad: She's the main villain in the live-action TV series, Birds of Prey (2002). This version of Harley is much more cunning and intelligent, rather than bubbly and childish like in the comics.
- Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Blonde to Ivy's Redhead and Catwoman's Brunette in some cases.
- Blue-and-Orange Morality: A downplayed example in the New 52. While most of the things she considers immoral aren't that weird, her reactions are often so violent and over the top, it's hard not to find them a bit disturbing. Case in point, in the first issue she sees a guy neglecting his puppy and gets upset enough to take the puppy under her wing and drag the guy behind her motorcycle till she eventually crashes (due to the cops chasing her) and he dies.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Depending on how her Broken Ace and Sextra Credit tropes are interpreted, she may be this as well.
- Breakout Villain: As a Canon Immigrant, she proceeded to become one of the main characters (if not the main character) of several comic series, such as the Harley & Ivy mini-series, her own ongoing, and Gotham City Sirens. She became the main villain in the Birds Of Prey TV adaptation even though she's not prominent in the original comic, and got major roles in the Batman: Arkham Series. She also became a member of the Suicide Squad and got a second ongoing which became DC's highest-selling title with a female lead!
- Broken Ace: In her most recent interpretations, she was so gifted both physically and mentally (and extraordinarily attractive) that she labored under immense pressure to be perfect. She jumped so eagerly into her role as the Joker's dumb blonde sidekick because it freed her from people's expectations. If she's a dumb, clumsy blonde, or the Joker's mentally broken victim, no one expects anything out of her.
- Brooklyn Rage: She has a very nasal New York accent and it is later revealed that she is from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Her New 52 and Rebirth solo series are both explicitly set in Brooklyn.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Naturally. While the writers flip flop on whether she skirted her way through school or not, every once in a while she does show she's still a pretty skilled psychoanalyst despite the crazy.
- Catchphrase: Inter-media examples, in that these often show up in most mediums that she appears in.(as an introduction): "Call me Harley! Everyone does."(because expected of her): "Puddin'."
- Canon Immigrant: Her first appearance was in Batman: The Animated Series, and she proved so popular that she was eventually canonized into the comics proper.
- Cheap Costume: Her pre-Flashpoint outfit was an off-the-rack jester costume she stole from a costume shop, while her New 52 costume consists of items she pilfered from various women around Gotham.
- Closest Thing We Got: At one point in Suicide Squad, after Flag is lost in the Phantom Zone Waller appoints Harley as the leader of the Squad as the only one reasonably reliable in such a role, compared to the more blatantly psychotic Killer Croc or the more mercenary Deadshot.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Even when she does get declared sane, she's still weird.
- Composite Character: Harley's motif is primarily based on the Arlequin, being an acrobatic and over-the-top trickster, but her one-sided and unrequited relationship with the Joker has semblance to other character from Commedia dell'Arte, the Pierrot.
- Crazy in the Head, Crazy in the Bed: Harley is often sexualized due to her being a Sexy Jester with Ax-Crazy / Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, and is often show to be a wild and enthusiastic lover. She may annoy some of her lovers and partners with her antics, but they never complain about how passionate and crazy hot she is.
- Critical Psychoanalysis Failure: Granted, Joker does this a lot, but none of his other doctors wound up in love with him. She once wrote up a report on the Joker claiming that he was perfectly sane, but simply faking it to avoid the death penalty, and because he was enjoying his own maniacal behavior. This arguably subverts this trope, since Depending on the Writer this is exactly what The Joker is doing, meaning she is the first one to crack him (she probably thinks this makes him a genius).
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite her ditzy personality, Harley is a competent fighter and is unstable enough to be unpredictable. She's even gotten the drop on Batman once or twice. From time to time, the comics will remind the reader that Harley is trained in the art of getting into people's heads and will use this to her advantage.
- Cute and Psycho: Cute as a button and more than willing to murder.
- Cute, but Cacophonic: When voiced by Arleen Sorkin her voice definitely has a Fran Drescher quality to it. The BTAS origins episode shows that she's capable of speaking in a more normal voice and only switched to the "Harley Screech" after donning the costume.
- Dark Action Girl: She is a very spectacular gymnast. Her skills rival those of Catwoman and Nightwing.
- Dark Mistress: Harley is in an abusive relationship with the Joker. It's a connection she can never quite shake off even when Poison Ivy shows her she can be a supervillain without him, and Batman shows her she doesn't have to be a supervillain at all. In fact, it seems that every time Harley isn't Joker's Dark Mistress, she's Ivy's. In the DC Animated Universe it's only after Joker dies that she's finally able to get out of it.
- Decomposite Character: Harley was subjected to this in Batman: White Knight. Harleen Quinzel was Harley Quinn I, who walked very close to her pre-New 52 incarnation, and was the legitimate but misguided clinical psychologist who fell in love with this continuity's Joker (who himself is closer to his 60's incarnation than the murderous version of the past few decades), but his insanity eventually drove her away. Harley Quinn II was eventually recruited by Joker, and she's basically the New 52 Harley, insanity, fanservicey outfit, and unhealthy relationship with the Joker and all. It's eventually shown that she was a bank teller named Marian Drews, who one day decided to slit her wrists at work when the monotony became too much. The Joker robbed her bank that day, and he actually saved her life and nursed her back to health. When Joker went sane and turned into Jack Napier, Jack tried to make amends and propose to Harley Quinn II, who rejected him and demanded he go back to his old persona; Harley Quinn I immediately stepped in and took Jack and the ring.
- Depending on the Writer:
- Is Harley a psychologist or a psychiatrist? In Batman: The Animated Series she was a psychologist; however, the comics have zigzagged between the two. It's possible the writers don't recognize they're two very different careers and mix them up (the latter adds an Improbable Age layer, given psychiatry requires the 5+ years graduating med school and Harley always looks as if she's in her mid-20s).
- It's almost always agreed upon that Harley is smarter than she lets on but just how much and how sensible she is can vary greatly from story to story. She can be a Dumb Blonde, a Genius Ditz, in reality, her entire personality can be a facade that she changes depending on the situation, or she could be anything in-between. Similarly, is she clinically insane or does she understand her actions?
- The details of her life before meeting the Joker - what her family's like, how she got through college, whether she was already psychologically broken, etc.
- In the New 52 she is a fun Anti-Hero in her solo series while totally Ax-Crazy in Suicide Squad.
- Depraved Bisexual: Subverted. While she is both depraved and bisexual, neither trait really has anything to do with the other; she was the more sympathetic, caring person in her one-sided tryst with the Joker (by default), and her relationship with Ivy, even in its rocky moments, is depicted as much healthier and more mutually affectionate than her old one.
- Determined Defeatist: When she's presented a hero, Harley drops a lot of her Heroic Comedic Sociopath schtick and reveals a deeper self-loathing over the things she did as a minion of The Joker, turning her into a Byronic Hero. She's intelligent, athletic, and conventionally attractive. But she's also extremely psychologically warped and damaged by her past relationships. She knows that she can never make up for the atrocities she helped him commit or all of the lives she helped destroy, but tries regardless because it's the only way she can live with herself. This vulnerability is what allows people, even someone like Batman, to take pity on her, and make her a tentative unofficial member of the extended Bat-Family.
- The Dog Bites Back: When working with the Joker, she takes a lot of abuse. But there's only so much she'll take before she turns on him and hits back hard.
- Domestic Abuse: Perhaps the poster child for this trope in the Superhero universe. If you were going to give the Joker a girlfriend, it really couldn't go any other way. Exactly how abusive Joker is to her depends on the incarnation, but it remains a fact that Joker is not at all healthy for Harley to be around.
- Domino Mask: She wears one as part of her classic outfit. She also wears a hat and full face paint, which gives the impression of a full mask. However this might have something to do with her costume being based on that of Harlequin, a stock character of the Italian Commedia dell'arte. However, once she loses the harlequin theme in the New 52, the mask is replaced with streaked eye makeup.
- The Dragon: For the Joker.
- Drop the Hammer: Mallets have been identified as her weapons, though the Joker does use them on occasion as well.
- Dumbass Has a Point: When visiting Black Canary in hospital after she's given birth, one of the gifts she brings is a muzzle. Canary is mildly exasperated by the gift until this exchange:BC: Why would he need a muzzle?
Harley: Please. I can't tell you how useful muzzles were when I first got my hyenas.
BC: He's a baby. Not a pack hunter.
Harley: Yeah. But babies scream. And when you scream, crazy, deafening, smashy power comes out. If he gets that power early...
BC: ...Give me the muzzle.
- Dumb Blonde: She's really psychopathic, but still a ditzy, kinda sweet girl. Though this personality can be either genuine, Obfuscating Stupidity, or both, depending on the writer. Paul Dini, her creator, arguably saw her as this, but later writers have upped her intelligence and capability, particularly after leaving the Joker behind.Harley: Hah! And here you thought I was just another bubble-headed, blonde bimbo! Well, the joke's on you; I'm not even a real blonde!note
- Empowered Badass Normal: Although this is rarely brought up, in the main DC continuity Harley is mildly superhuman, with enhanced strength, healing, and an immunity to most poisons, because of being dosed with a herbal Super Serum by Poison Ivy in her first appearance. She was already skilled enough in gymnastics that she was considered Olympics material.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- She has a soft spot for animals and does NOT take kindly to people who abuse them. In one story, she and Ivy also rescued a young girl who was being chased by a sexual predator. Harley may be a homicidal supervillain, but even she thinks child abusers are the scum of the Earth. She also refused to keep fighting Black Canary when she worked out Canary was pregnant. In the New 52 Harley still loves animals to the point of saving a whole bunch from being killed with the help of Ivy.
- She didn't like the new female Ventriloquist Peyton Riley, especially when she trash-talked her predecessor Arnold Wesker, since Wesker was kind to her when she first became an inmate at Arkham. She went so far as to tip the Gotham police off when Riley recruited her for one of her crimes (Riley had kidnapped her from Arkham at the time, and Harley was legitimately trying to go straight).
- In Batman: White Knight, Harley Quinn I left Joker (himself closer to the Batman (1966) incarnation) when she suspected him of murdering Jason Todd, and only takes him back when he starts taking medication that successfully treats his condition (it's also revealed Jason Todd faked his death to get away from Batman, and framed Joker).
- Everyone Is Christian at Christmas: Harley doesn't let any non-practicing Judaism get in the way of being one of the biggest Christmas lovers in the DC Universe. Paul Dini himself elaborated in Gotham City Sirens that her family on her dad Nick's side is Catholic, and many of the few fond childhood memories she has are of celebrating with her family.
- Evil Parents Want Good Kids: In the Injustice 2 continuity, Harley has a daughter with the Joker, named Lucy, whom she passed off to her sister so that she could have a normal life.
- Expy: When the character was first conceived for the animated series, Harley seemed to stand-in for Jerry Hall's Dark Mistress character Alicia Hunt from Batman (1989) due to being a lover of the Joker, being blonde and always stand by his side most of the time. Harley's make up even resembles Alicia's when she removes her porcelain mask. In the New 52, Harley getting her skin bleached could likely be a nod to Alicia in the film having acid thrown on her face that disfigures her and requires her to wear a mask. Harley's abuse at the hands of the Joker in general also references how Alicia was treated badly if getting acid thrown on her face before throwing herself out the window is any indication. Speaking of thrown out the window, in the one-shot "Mad Love," Joker pushing Harley out the window from a second story building could likely reference Joker's account of Alicia having thrown herself out the window with possibilities that the Joker may have thrown her out himself if it wasn't suicide.
- Females Are More Innocent: It varies Depending on the Writer, but most of her appearances fall into one of the two main types of this trope; when she's the Joker's henchman, she's his less villainous counterpart turned evil by his influence, while when she's on her own she's an Anti-Hero or marginal villain with her backstory with him as a Freudian Excuse.
- Fluffy Tamer: To everyone else, the Joker's snarling pet hyenas are a menace; to her, they are her "babies."
- Genki Girl: Hyper cheerful all the time.
- Girlish Pigtails: Harley wears her hair in a pair of side pigtails to mirror the shape of her jester hat. This came in full effect after the New 52, where she's done away with the jester cap and uses her hair to replace it.
- Glass Cannon: In all continuities. Even though she definitely can fight, she isn't very resistant and is often easily knocked-out when things get physical.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Her first ongoing series sometimes had her converse with a shoulder angel resembling her original self Dr. Harleen Quinzel and a shoulder devil resembling the Joker.
- Good is Not Nice: She can be on the extreme end of this spectrum as an Anti-Hero. Harley can have a good heart for children and animals. But whether you're a hero or a villain or just someone who's not really good but doesn't necessarily deserve Disproportionate Retribution, Harley will more than happily low blow you or bite your nose off if she feels like it.
- Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: She and the Joker invert this. Joker's usually armed with a gun, and Harley has a mallet.
- Has a Type: Redheaded women. Harley has been a romantic parter to Poison Ivy and has expressed attraction toward Batwoman.
- Heel–Face Revolving Door: If someone asks you if Harley is a hero or a villain, your best answer is "yes". When she's a hero, she's an Anti-Hero, dispensing justice in her own way and being incredibly violent while she does it. When she's a villain, she's a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds because of the crap she's put through by The Joker. She's gone back and forth over the line between hero and villain so many times that it's hard to say whose side she falls on, besides her own.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: When her relationship with Poison Ivy isn't depicted as romantic, it's this. Harley is the one human that Ivy can stand, and a source of support for Harley in her darker moments.
- Iconic Sequel Character: She's one of the best-known Batman-associated characters nowadays, but was only created in the 1990s.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Though she's officially listed as bisexual, it's possible she's this way with Poison Ivy. She has a long list of random men she gets with, but Ivy is the only female she has shown to be sexual with. The New 52 has started to rectify this and in her solos, if she teams up with a female character, like Power Girl or Wonder Woman, expect her to start flirting with them.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Often depicted as such but she still has some bouts of true efficiency and is in fact the villain who got the closest to actually killing Batman. But well, Mad Love you know...
- Informed Judaism: So informed indeed that she never talks about it.
- Insane No More: In "Harley's Holiday" on Batman: The Animated Series, she's declared sane and released from Arkham.
- Insanity Immunity: In Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, she looks into Johnny Sorrow's face, which usually kills anyone who sees it. She's unaffected, describing it as "cute", and subsequently explains to Wonder Woman "Once you've looked into one abyss you've seen 'em all".
- Legacy Character: Only implied so far; Joker hints that he had "other Harleys" before her in "Death of the Family", but that could be his way of psyching her out. The non-canon "Batman: White Knight" takes the idea and runs with it, revealing that the "classic" Harley left after Mr. J got a little too crazy, to be replaced with the ditzier, more hyperactive, more scantily-clad New 52 version.
- Love Makes You Crazy: She fell in love with The Joker. Crazy doesn't even begin to describe it.
- Love Makes You Evil: She was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum until she was assigned to The Joker. Falling in love with him, she broke him out and joined him as his girl sidekick. To what degree the Joker returns her feelings is questionable, ranging from 1% to zero. However, almost all her evil acts are an attempt to secure his affection.
- Love Martyr: Oh, God, Harley Quinn, going back and forth between a girlfriend who treats her like dirt and a boyfriend who frequently tries to kill her. She bounces back and forth between this trope and Mad Love, depending on how sympathetically her romantic woes are treated in the current story.
- Mad Love: The Trope Namer by way of a story arc from the comics that was later adapted into an episode, though the degree that she and Joker actually apply (whether Joker actually cares about Harley in any way) varies Depending on the Writer.
- Master of Disguise: One of her more understated talents, but she's very good with disguises and impersonations. In the animated series, she was able to fool the police by dressing as a lady cop, an attorney, and a security guard in various episodes. In her first solo series, she actually spent a significant period practicing Psychiatry under a fake identity, and has a similar set-up in her New 52 and Rebirth series.
- Meaningful Name: Harley Quinn's name is a pun on Harlequin, to match her jester theme.
- Morality Pet: Oddly, not just for the Joker or Poison Ivy (not that it works for the Joker); almost all the other inmates at Arkham seem to have a bit of a soft spot for Harley. (For example, in the cartoon episode "Harley's Holiday", the Scarecrow pauses mid-villainous rant to greet her warmly.) It's implied that most of them don't look down on the Joker because he kills people, but because they disapprove of his abuse of Harley.
- Ms. Fanservice: She often wears a tight jester suit and switches it out for what can best be described as a bikini designed to resemble her former appearance. In "Mad Love" she wears a see-through red negligee also. And in the New 52 her outfits are more incredibly revealing.
- Mugged for Disguise: She's been known to mug people in order to replace them, such as an opera singer in the Hush storyline, a rock groupie in "Love on the Lam", and an Arkham guard in the Arkham City prequel.
- Naughty Nurse Outfit: In Batman: Arkham Asylum. This costume became iconic more or less instantly. In subsequent appearances across all media, Harley is as likely to show up wearing her Asylum outfit as her original harlequin tights. New designs (like the Suicide Squad cover above) tend to draw from the elements of the Asylum costume (red/blue/purple palette, medical gear, corset) as much as the old one.
- The Nicknamer: She lovingly calls the Joker "Mr. J" and "pud'n". She also refers to Poison Ivy as "Red", Catwoman as "Kitty" or "Whiskas", and (occasionally) Batman as "B-Man".
- Obfuscating Stupidity: it is often implied that she's smarter than she appears and only pretends to be dumb.
- Odd Friendship: Harley is one of the most social members of Batman's Rogues Gallery. She's actually quite fond of the original Ventriloquist, Arnold Wesker, thanks to his trying to cheer her up the first time she was thrown into of Arkham. She also views the Riddler as a friend, and has occasionally helped him in his detective work. In the animated series, she also appears to be on friendly terms with Professor Jonathan "Scarecrow" Crane — he even stops ranting and screaming at the guards just long enough to smile and say hello to her. The Animated Series also implies that she even views Killer Croc as a friend. In volume 5 of her solo title, she also gets on surprisingly well with Solomon Grundy.
- Odd Name, Normal Nickname: Harley Quinn's real name is Harleen Quinzel; "Harleen" is not a real name.
- Of Corsets Sexy: Her first outfit in the New 52 featured a tiny, barely closed corset, and some later variations on her costume include one as well.
- Only Sane Woman: Briefly, in the 2016 Suicide Squad run; the Black Vault energies which are driving everyone else in Belle Reve insane have the opposite effect on her, bringing her rational side to the fore. It lasts until the Vault's properly sealed again.
- Perky Female Minion: She's an unrepentant murderer, but so cheerful and so absolutely devoted to "Mistah J" that one can't help but pity her when he slaps her around and/or threatens to kill her.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Occasionally pops up in the main comics, and practically outlined in her original solo series - which all but established that she's detached from reality and now sees the world like one big cartoon, and that her actions are like a game. As a result she often acts, and sometimes thinks, like a sugar-high kid.
- Punny Name: Her full name sounds like the word "Harlequin", and gets make fun of it when she was young. It soon became her official alias.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Played with. She wears a black and red playing card motif. But despite being a villain sometimes, she isn't as overtly malicious as some other DC supervillains. That being said, even if she does have a softer side compared to someone like Joker, she can still ruin your day and maim you at the drop of a pin if she's feeling impulsive.
- Reformed, but Rejected: A lot of stories were Harley tries to go straight end in disaster simply because no one believes she is genuinely trying to change.
- Ring of Power: During the events of Harley's Little Black Book, she got her hands on a merged red and black lantern ring. She was also drafted into the Sinestro corps for a bit.
- Sex Goddess: She is often portrayed as a enthusiastic and highly satisfying lover due to her wild and unpredictable personality and her flexibility and gymnastic skills.
- Sextra Credit: Some versions of her origin story indicate that she got through college by sexual favors rather than academic performance. The extent to which this is the case depends on the writer, however, and she occasionally shows glimpses of great intellect even in stories involving this.
- Sexy Jester: In her initial costume, while showing minimal skin, too!
- She-Fu: She studied to be a doctor, but can do Olympic-level gymnastics as she went to college on a gymnastics scholarship, and received superhuman abilities from Poison Ivy during the first of their adventures.
- Shrinking Violet: She's usually portrayed as being very shy and reserved before meeting The Joker. Needless to say, that's changed quite a bit.
- Skin-Tone Disguise: As of the New 52 reboot, Harley has bleached white skin thanks to the Joker throwing her in a vat of acid. Issue #4 of her 2014 solo series has her applying makeup on most of her body to look like her old self, a process she finds very tedious, but necessary so she can continue working as a psychiatrist.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: At least one iteration of her origin story shows that the Quinzel family was not kind to Harleen; her siblings whine incessantly, her mother is very demanding of her, her father belittles her quite hard, and none of them care about her future. Part of her motivation to get her college degree and a job was just to get away from them, which would eventually lead her to the Joker...
- The Sociopath: Narrowly averted. While she does have some of the symptoms (need for excitement, poor impulse control), she is capable of showing love and compassion, and sometimes feels remorse after doing something really awful, things true sociopaths don't do.
- Spell My Name with an S: The DVD captions for Mad Love in Volume Four of Batman: The Animated Series spell her real name as "Harlene Quinzelle".
- Stating the Simple Solution: Suggests just shooting Batman to Joker, who proceeds to blow up on her (then later use this idea).
- Steven Ulysses Perhero: C'mon, Harleen Quinzel? Batman: The Animated Series lampshades it by having Joker point it out in the episode showing her origin, and her dryly responding that she's heard it before. This conversation was replicated in Batman: Arkham Asylum in one of her interview tapes.
- Stripperiffic: While she had a traditionally conservative costume where only her face is uncovered, the New 52 makes her outfit incredibly revealing. This is lampshaded by Harley herself, at one point referring to her look as a "stripper clown outfit".
- Undying Loyalty: Zigzagged to all hell. Most times, she is almost always loyal to Mr. J and will go above and beyond to please him. Other times, she sets off on her own when she's fed up with his abusive behavior. How far she leans into either path is Depending on the Writer.
- Unholy Matrimony: She and Mr J. are one textbook example. Averted with Poison Ivy. While both women are far from sane, they tend to bring out the best in each other.
- Villainous Friendship:
- She may find Ivy too serious at times but their friendship is genuine on both sides.
- She developed a liking for Arnold Wesker, the first Ventriloquist, for reaching out to her when she was put in Arkham for the first time. Because of this, she would later scorn the second Ventriloquist for "stealing another crook's gimmick".
- Villainous Harlequin: Her name and costume is based on a Harlequin.
- Wild Card: Whether Harley is an Affably Evil villain who isn't as evil as other DC supervillains or a more Ax-Crazy Anti-Hero with an edge, she's extremely unstable and unpredictable. If you're a villain and there's something about your plans she doesn't like, she may very well just ruin your day for it. And if you're a hero, she's just as liable to sucker punch, stab, or low blow you out of nowhere if she's upset. Even if you're just a security guard trying to do your job of restraining her, you could find yourself on the ground screaming profusely after she's bitten your ear off for it.
- Wolverine Publicity: In the Suicide Squad. Even when she is not the main character in the story, she features as central on the cover.
- Would Hurt a Child: In Detective Comics #23.2, the New 52-Harley massacred hundreds of children by using bombs disguised as handheld gaming consoles. All stories after it came out treat the story apart from the origin (which has also been changed in some ways in Harley's solo book) part as non-canon due to having Harley wildly out of character and having Harley do things that no main incarnation of her would ever do. Harley's crazy but she doesn't kill kids.
- Yandere: It's rare, but even the Joker is scared of her when she goes into this mode. Or turned on. It could go either way.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Every possibility for her to return sane is always shut down.