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Western Animation / Harley Quinn (2019)

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"I love my logo."

Ivy: Uh, I think they're gonna hate it, Harls. They hate everything.
Harley: No way! It's got comedy, action, incredibly gratuitous violence, and unlike that Deadpool cartoon, it's actually coming out!

Harley Quinn is an adult-oriented animated series set for the DC Universe in 2019 that stars Harley Quinn. The story loosely adapts the early '00s comic run where Harley Quinn has split off from The Joker for good and set out to become the queenpin of Gotham. Joining her are an ensemble cast that includes her best friend, Poison Ivy, as well as many others. Kaley Cuoco, of The Big Bang Theory fame, voices Quinn.

It was one of the first series to be announced for DC's streaming service DC Universe, besides Young Justice season 3 (subtitled Outsiders), Titans, and Swamp Thing. Also, it's being headed by Justin Halpern, Patrick Schumacker and Dean Lorey, the creative minds behind the short-lived Powerless. Its first season premiered on November 29, 2019 and ended on February 21, 2020. Season 2 premiered on April 3, 2020 and ended on June 26, 2020.


Also has a Recap page.

Tropes shown in this work:

  • Acronym Confusion: When Ivy makes a crack about "L.O.D." standing for "Legion of Dildos" to Lex Luthor, he says that it's the name of a sex shop down the street that the Legion of Doom is in a legal battle with.
  • Adaptational Modesty: Very weirdly so for this series (where Harley's butt gets exposed, and mosaic censoring is used to cover Maxie Zeus' genitals), Zatanna's cameo appearance still doesn't have her in the fishnets like the comics.
  • Adaptational Wimp:
    • Clayface is one of the more dangerous members of Batman's rogue gallery and very difficult to stop. In the show he's manhandled by Maxie Zeus, a normal human, even though his clay body should make such attacks quite pointless. But averted in "Lover's Quarrel" when he becomes a rampaging giant, to the point that Harley lampshades how often that ability would have been useful
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    • Compared to Son of Batman, Robin (Damian Wayne) is treated as a braggart and brat who is never a serious threat to Harley and her crew. The main conflict of the episode is that Harley does not want to be associated with a hero she sees as beneath her standing.
  • Affably Evil: Pretty much everyone not named The Joker, but especially King Shark and Clayface, are shockingly friendly and polite despite being murderous super-villains.
  • All Animals Are Dogs: The hyenas Bud and Lou once again, given their love of dog treats and showing affection to Harley by licking her.
  • All Adult Animation Is South Park: At its core, the series is essentially a comic-book-themed take on this trope— crude, raunchy, violent, and completely shameless about all of it.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: This is what Harley and her friends are compared to the more "professional" supervillains in the Legion of Doom. They have just a few more moral scruples than their fellow villains, making them easier to root for.
  • Anarchy Is Chaos: As of season 2, Gotham being destroyed by the earthquake and declared an exclusion zone with no-one in charge causes the entire city to devolve into dog-eat-dog chaos overnight. Harley thinks that's awesome, and subsequently makes things worse by refusing to let anyone impose any kind of order on the city.
  • Anti-Villain: While not as sympathetic as normal, Harley still counts. There's even a rather sweet moment in "The Line" where Ivy tells Harley she may be a bad guy, but she's a good person (i.e she's a supervillain, but isn't really evil).
  • Anything but That!: Just before Joker reveals what he intends to do to Harley in the final episode of the first season. He would drop her into a vat of acid that would make her "normal" again. Harley is so terrified at the idea of being normal again that she offers to go back to working for Joker if he doesn't go through with it.
  • Anyone Can Die: Several prominent characters bite the dust, including important figures from the comics like The Penguin and Mr. Freeze and main characters like Sy Borgman.
  • Apologetic Attacker: When Ivy has to fight off a group of mutated trees, she says "sorry!" before finishing each one of them off.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Harley is more upset that Mr. Freeze put his wife’s small business out of business than his numerous crimes and the fact that he kidnapped the crew.
    • Also, this:
    Harley: So, how have you been?
    Joker: Oh, you know, same old, same old. Murdering, hijacking WMDs, arson. Ooh, I've been rewatching a lot of Scrubs.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Not getting into how Ivy's plant powers can spur such rapid growth, the vines she uses to break out of Arkham could not have come from an orange seed.note 
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The rich white men in the series opening, who celebrate their massive pile of money that was built on "fucking the poor", are all murdered and mangled by Joker and Harley.
    • Most of the main characters count. They're A Lighter Shade of Black compared to a lot of the other supervillains, but they're still supervillains. So they tend to end up on the wrong end of a beatdown or humiliating loss a few times, such as when Harley gets the crap kicked out of her by Batman.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Poison Ivy grows into a Giant Woman after drinking the same formula that made a group of trees mutate to about the same size. That makes her a big target for a harpoon through the heart from The Joker, where Ivy seemingly dies.
  • Anyone Can Die: The series shows what happens when a villain who doesn't have a code against killing is the main character instead of Batman. Hardly anybody is dispatched without being murdered in the worst way possible, and other villains find out the hard way that the only reason they lasted so long was because their greatest enemy kept sending them to a revolving door asylum instead of the morgue. Just ask Scarecrow or Penguin.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Batman, Wonder Woman, and Superman get hit with Poison Ivy's love pheromones (which could also turn them into trees) in "Lovers' Quarrel" as a setup for hilarity, along with the situation of how to give those three the antidote. But by the next episode, "The Runaway Bridesmaid", it went nowhere and seemed swept aside without payoff or mention.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Harley's outfit has a short tank top that does this. After Ivy suffers some Clothing Damage due to turning into a Giant Woman, her clothes start doing this too.
  • Batter Up!: Harley's giant mallet gets destroyed in the fight with the Joker's gang, so she trades it out for a baseball bat she steals from one of the mooks. Later on, she gets another bat with her playing card motif painted over it.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: The gang get through the front gate of Scarecrow's base by driving in a "Pretzel-wrapped-Hotdog" truck, fooling the guards into thinking it is a gift from the boss. The fact that they brought the actual food fools the guards into thinking its legit.
  • Best Friend: Harley has this in Poison Ivy. Harley even calls Ivy her "bestie" more than once, which Ivy reciprocates. When Harley has nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to, Ivy's there for Harley. Which is why it breaks Harley's heart when she goes into Ivy's mind to fight off Scarecrow's fear toxin, and finds that Harley herself is Ivy's greatest fear. Specifically, the fear that Harley will turn her back on Ivy.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The show's version of Bane is quite affable and tries his best to be funny and friendly. Despite this, he is much stronger than his comicbook counterpart, overpowering Batman's Power Armor and breaking his legs.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Dr Psycho calling Wonder Woman the c-word on national TV is so shocking it causes the Earth to briefly stop rotating.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Considering that technically, The Bad Guy Wins. Harley and her crew defeat the Joker with the help of a Not Quite Dead Poison Ivy, with some extra benefits being that Batman is nowhere to be found, the Justice League are apparently still trapped Queen of Fables' book, and the Joker's last act was to blow up Gotham, so they can all enjoy seeing the wreckage together. While the Joker obviously survives, he still fell into his own vat of chemicals that was meant for Harley, causing him to turn into a normal person.
  • Black Comedy: Boatloads of it.
    • The Establishing Series Moment is a bunch of Corrupt Corporate Executives talking about getting their money by "fucking the poor," after which Harley kneecaps one with a graphic spurt of blood and broken bone, coupled with a lot of gratuitous cursing.
    • The Penguin's nephew Joshua has a bat mitzvah, but Harley ruins the party by killing all the guards at a fake heist. And it turns out the guards were an improv troupe, so nobody cares that they're dead. Later at the same party, Harley tells Joshua that he can't be a man because he's never finger-blasted a girl.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Frank the plant claims that the neighbor kid Ivy hired to keep her plants watered quit after a week, barfing up the kid's corpse a second afterwards.
    • Immediately after Harley breaks up with Joker, Joker claims that he wanted her to do exactly that, to "keep [her] safe".
    • At the Legion of Doom's lair, Joker says that he dumped Harley, and that he wishes her well. He says this while his hands are trembling with barely-concealed rage.
    • The Joker insists that he is turning 25 on his birthday. In response to Scarecrow congratulating him on how much he's accomplished in just 38 years.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: As a cartoon aimed towards older audiences, the SDCC 2019 trailer already provides a couple of examples demonstrating the show's violence, such as Joker getting roughed up from Harley batting him in the face, Joker killing one of his mooks with a gun, a Harley-looking doll getting decapitated by a closing elevator door, and so on.
  • Bloody Hilarious: Despite its Bloodier and Gorier nature, a lot of scenes are played for laughs, most poignantly when Bane got impatient and detonated a bomb King Shark was carrying, catching him in the blast and breaking his fin off. A fin which got a Japanese chef interested to purchase for a large amount of money.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Harley extorted the city to rename a freeway into the "Harley Quinn Parkway". It gets renovated and vastly expanded into "Harley Quinn Highway" with... custom specifications.
      • A sign on the Highway reads "Tax dollars well spent - Literally no one" and later in the same episode, Dr. Psycho gets a rocket launcher from a supply drop hovering above a pit that has to be jumped over by a car and comments, "Tax dollars paid for this?!"
    • In Season 2, Commissioner Gordon in his crazed state demanded a codpiece that fires missiles. Bruce's reply was that it doesn't exist. Later on, when Batman fought Bane, his armored batsuit actually had a codpiece that fires missiles.
    • In Episode 4 of the first season, Harley and crew hear for the first time about an obscure hero named Tommy Tomorrow. In Episode 13 of Season 2, the guy actually appears and gets a Key to the City along with the Justice League.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Harley's good enough to be in the Legion but it's members keep shitting on her. This puts her at odds with them when she would have otherwise been a resourceful ally.
    • Everyone gives Bane nothing but grief and treats him like a joke. Despite him being more than capable of tearing most of his fellow supervillians to pieces.
    • Invoked by Quinn. Harley's crew warned her that messing with Lois Lane would bring Superman's wrath after them. But that's exactly what Harley wanted, to pick a fight and have Supes as her nemesis and increase her villain rep. Unfortunately for her, Supes sicced Robin at her, seeing her as beneath him to deal with personally.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: After killing the Joker's goons and wrecking his lair, a triumphant Harley grins over the chaos while a wall falls at her, a hole in the wall leaving her unharmed as it crashes.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Ivy and Harley have a conversation about how Harley can do better while Harley is curb-stomping a group of Arkham Guards ganging up on her to give her her shot.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The first several episodes are light, comedic, and mostly standalone; there is an ongoing story, but mostly the show is Monster of the Week-type fun antics as Harley builds her crew and makes plans. Once she joins the Legion of Doom, the show becomes far more serialized and much darker, and previously established plot points and characters return and convene to demonstrate a larger narrative they were building towards.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The nuclear bomb that Joker steals in "So You Need a Crew?" is likely what Joker detonated that unleashed the earthquake that devastated Gotham in "The Final Joke". In the same "Need a Crew" episode, Harley mentions purchasing a nuclear device and using it for her highway-renaming extortion, but that Gun hasn't come up again since... yet.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: This show is notable for being the very first DC cartoon that uses the F-word, and they take advantage of it. The Establishing Series Moment drops an F-bomb in the first few seconds, along with a couple more F-bombs dropped throughout the rest of the scene.
  • Composite Character: The show's version of Batgirl takes elements from all three women who've held the title. Her name, appearance, and background come from Barbara Gordon, her personality is similar to Stephanie Brown's, and her debuting during the No Man's Land equivalent is from Cassandra Cain.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The giant glider that Kite-Man uses is pretty cool and gives you a nice view, but when it comes to long distance travel, cars are still a much faster way of getting around.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In the first season finale, the Joker tortured Dr. Psycho by forcing him to... watch scenes of feminist rallies.
  • Country Matters: Dr. Psycho calls Wonder Woman the C-word during a fight (notably, it's the only obscenity in the show to be censored) and Poison Ivy remarks that Dr. Psycho has just made himself a pariah among the villain community. It's so bad that even the Earth briefly stops spinning.
  • Crapsack World:
    • While Gotham has always been portrayed as your standard Rotten Apple, here it acknowledges how much of a crime-ridden hellhole it is and is Played for Laughs in as black of humor as possible. While many of the villains present in the series are portrayed as normal people talking about relationships and acting as though they work an office job, people on the "right" side of the law are constantly on edge, years on the force leaving Jim Gordon a barely coherent mess and the guards at Arkham reacting to the slightest security risk with extreme prejudice.
    • There is a stigma on female supervillains in this show, according to Poison Ivy and the Queen of Fables, though they could be exaggerating since they're borderline sociopaths. However, an undeniable fact is that the Legion of Doom has only one female member (Cheetah) whom they don't care enough to even remember her name and are a bunch of misogynistic and manipulative males.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • Harley leaves Joker alive when the clown prince was trapped underneath the ruins of his hideout, because she wants to rub it in Joker’s face when she takes over Gotham.
    • Joker's ultimate punishment for Harley is to make her normal again and not actually harm her at all. She considers this such a horrifying idea that she immediately offers to wholeheartedly work for him again and begs him not to go through with it.
    • When Harley kidnaps Lois Lane, Superman shows up, but refuses to fight her, because he knows that Harley wants the cred that would come from having Superman as a nemesis. Instead, he brings Robin (Damian Wayne) over to fight her because he knows she's offended and embarrassed by the idea that a child could be her nemesis.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • While Batman is portrayed as The Comically Serious in this show, he's still The Dreaded among Gotham's supervillains for a reason; anytime Batman fights in this show, it's a one-sided beatdown in his favor. Harley gets trounced by Batman on live television, and Ivy is only able to briefly even the odds.
    • Also King Shark versus the police in episode six. He gets crushed, arrested, and imprisoned so fast the rest of the team can only stare in awe.
    • Aquaman manhandles the Legion of Doom on their own turf before Harley bursts open their aquarium and forces him to choose between the brawl and saving the sea life.
  • Deadpan Snarker: A lot of people, but primarily Ivy. You can count the number of lines Ivy has that don't fall straight into this on one hand.
  • Deconstructive Parody: Being a Supervillain isn't just about villainy, it's about building a brand! And unless you go solo, you'll need a crew, for which you'll have to contact the local bad guy agency or go to the Bad-Guy Bar. And your lair reflects your vibe, so make sure they match. Having a nemesis can help promote your brand, but having a bad or lopsided one would hurt it instead. And if you're female, there's also the glass ceiling to consider.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Having a nemesis is both a metaphor for romantic relationships and sex.
  • Domestic Abuse: The Joker and Harley have always had this relationship before, but the plot really explores it. The show goes into detail about just how hard it is for Harley to dump the Joker, even when she knows how horrible he treats her and that he never loved her. While some of this is played for Black Comedy, most of it drives the central narrative. Even months after the break-up, Ivy can tell that Harley still acts in a way that shows she cares about what Joker thinks. And Joker forces Harley back into her old get-up when she tries to get her crew back from him, which she clearly hates doing.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: Averted. Joker refuses to kill Harley in the season 1 finally for fear that it could have an emotional effect on him. So he plans to throw her into a chemical vat and turn her back into her old self instead. Something she fears a lot more than dying.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Bane yells at Joshua for putting a hit out on Harley and using a credit card for the down payment, insisting he pay in cash next time.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?:
    • It's a running theme of the series that Harley and her crew want to be taken seriously by the rest of the supervillain community (specifically the Legion of Doom), but nobody respects them. They gradually start to work their way up there after performing legitimately impressive feats that catch the Legion's attention.
    • The stigma against female supervillains also gets brought up quite a bit, with Harley having to work twice as hard to get half as much respect. When Harley asks a bunch of thugs at a bar to join her crew, they all make lame excuses as to why they can't, with one mook even jumping into a Hell dimension rather than join Harley. But the moment Kite Man shows up, everyone leaves to join his crew.
  • Easily Forgiven: It's fairly frequent to see villains that were once friends try to kill one another and then go back to being friends - such as being invited to a wedding, as was Bane's case. It may be because the villains sorta expect this backstabbing behavior and dish out as much as they take it, so they don't really take it too personally.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The first scene has a yacht of white billionaires toasting all the money they made "fucking the poor" before Harley drops in and declares it belongs to her now. The others laugh at her since she's just the Joker's girlfriend, and in response Harley whacks the nearest guy in the leg with her mallet, and he collapses screaming in pain. And then a few moments later, the Joker reveals he had infiltrated the party and hijacks the attack to Harley's frustration. In its first two minutes, the show sets up its tone, style of humor, and central conflict — Harley is trying to establish her own profile as a supervillain but gets no respect and has to break away from Joker to make it herself, and we can expect to see a lot of hilarious and gratuitous violence and cursing, as well as on-the-nose jabs at topical subject matter.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Harley and her coterie of supervillains really do care about each other (with Harley and Ivy having an on and off relationship) , which goes a long way towards making them more likable despite being villains, as most of their enemies are just one dimensional bad guys with no humanizing traits.
    • Joker with Beth.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Ivy expresses annoyance with Frank the plant for devouring the neighbor kid she hired to water her other plants, if for no other reason than prompting his parents to look for him. Frank ate them, too.
    • Harley Quinn tells the tavern that as her henchmen, she won't ever (knowingly) send them to their deaths, then sees a wicked sorcerer (Felix Faust) actually sending his own people directly to their deaths; seeing that, her tone changes for, "...I promise you it'll be better than that."
    • The Legion of Doom expels Dr. Psycho for his blatant misogyny; not that the rest of them are necessarily better, they just don't advertise it.
    • When Harley wants to kill Robin so that people won't keeping believing he's her nemesis, the rest of her crew are averse to killing children.
    • The Queen of Fables not having these standards puts her at odds with Harley's crew.
    • The presence of Victor Zsasz (and Killer Croc) in Bane's prison would indicate that serial killers (and cannibals) aren't tolerated by the Injustice League.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Seemingly at first during Season 1, the way they all get along and cooperate together, first at Arkham Asylum and then at the bad-guys bar and in the Legion of Doom. That all ends into the season's end, and in Season 2 it's all dog-eat-dog between villans.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Season 2's main conflict is that the remaining villains took over Gotham after Joker's defeat.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The protagonists are ruthless murderers who want to get high in the supervillain league by causing chaos and mayhem. The antagonists are also supervillains, but unlike the heroes, they have lower standards about killing innocents and backstabbing their allies. The superheroes oppose both, and effectively form a third side, but the two sides of the supervillain conflict aren't willing to team up against them.
  • Fate Worse than Death: In the first season finale, the Joker plans to drop Harley Quinn into a chemical bath that will erase her memories and identity, also reverting her back to a normal average person. Harley Quinn was horrified and preferred death instead. It would seem that the Joker agrees with Harley on this too, given that he too pleaded for mercy when he became the one dangling over the chemical bath instead.
  • Flowery Elizabethan English: Aquaman loves this trope, but drops it when his fish friends are in danger.
  • Foe Romance Subtext:
    • In the first episode, Riddler gives Joker a Sadistic Choice between Batman and Harley, to save one and let the other drop into a vat of acid. Joker chooses Batman, and as Harley drops, she remembers the Joker proposing to her on a rooftop; only he wasn't holding a wedding ring, it was a grenade, and he said "til death do us part" over Harley's shoulder, to Batman. She realizes in that moment that the Joker loves Batman, not her.
    • Having an Arch-Enemy is treated identically to a romantic relationship. There are websites that match heroes and villains based on their powers and how often they'd like to fight, talk shows treat a villain "stealing" a hero from another villain like celebrity couple gossip, and Bruce's discussion with Damian about the importance of finding the right nemesis is framed as The Talk.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In episode 9 of season 1, Lex Luthor turned down the Joker's request for funds to build a tower in his own image, telling the Joker to "bake the cake" first. The Joker darkly promised to do so, and made good on his promise to do so in the penultimate episode of season 1.
    • Doctor Psycho originally joined Harley's crew for pragmatic reasons, after he was excommunicated from the Legion of Doom. In the latter half of Season 2, he quits the team when Harley's interests no longer align with his own.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • Tawney's screen crawls provide hilarious commentary on events. For instance, when Dr Psycho shouts the C Word on live TV for the second time, the crawl reads: "Man says terrible thing again! Will probably get a third chance." When Harley and Ivy find themselves in an awkward, romantically suggestive pose, the crawl reads "Kiss ya? Ive Harley even known ya!"
    • In "Inner (Para) Demons," the US president reads Harley's file; her file number is 09111992. September 11, 1992 is the air date of the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor," Harley Quinn's first appearance.
  • Funny Background Event: The scene in the Arkham Asylum mess hall when Harley, after months of waiting, still insists that the Joker will come to break her out:
    The Riddler: [Nadia Comenici] broke a record. Which is what you sound like: A broken record! He's. Not. Coming!
    Harley: That is just one person's opinion.
    Every villain and guard in the background: "HE'S! NOT! COMING!"
  • Giant Woman:
    • Giganta, who is Dr. Psycho's ex. They even have a kid together. When Ivy asks how that works sexually, Dr. Psycho just says "not great."
    • In the penultimate episode of Season 1, Poison Ivy grows to giant size after drinking the same formula that made a group of trees mutate. That makes her a big target for a harpoon through the heart from The Joker, which seemingly kills her. She gets better. Dr. Psycho offers Ivy thirty bucks to put him in her pocket; as everyone stares at him, he simply says, "What? I have a type!"
  • Heal It with Fire: Harley tries to cauterize a gunshot wound using a hot tea kettle
  • Heel Realization: Seeing Mr. Freeze’s selfless love for his wife that culminates in him giving his life to cure her makes Harley realize that she’d been letting her own toxic relationship with Joker skew her perception of love.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In the first season finale, the Joker planned to subject Harley to a chemical bath that would revert her back to normal. A revived Poison Ivy rescued Harley at the last moment and the Joker was thrown into the bath instead.
  • Hollywood Acid: The first episode has Riddler suspend Batman and Harley over requisite vats of bubbling green acid. Harley even asks if it's the kind of acid that gives people superpowers. It is not. Except this ends up subverted; it was all a ruse, and the "acid" was just 150 gallons of margarita mix.
    • The acid Joker squirts out of his trademark corsage completely melts through his target's head in seconds, not even leaving a skull behind.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action: Dr. Psycho had a child with Giganta, you do the math.
    Ivy: Quick side bar. How did this work...sexually?
    Dr. Psycho: Not great!
  • Hypocrite: While the Legion expels Dr. Psycho from the group for his blatant sexism, this doesn't stop them from continuing their own sexist practices, with no female members of the group shown before Harley is brought in... just so Joker can emotionally manipulate her again; the lot of them leaving the Queen of Fables to rot in a tax book for years; Lex Luthor gaslighting Ivy at the Joker's behest; Scarecrow kidnapping her, drugging her, and stealing her blood; and other terrible behavior.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In “Bensonhurst”, Bane tells Joshua Cobblepot that he needs to learn to be less impulsive. He also tells him not to worry too much about it because he’s just a kid and wisdom will come with age. As soon as Bane turns away, he trips over the office chair. He gets so mad that he freaks out like a child and throws it through the window and into the lake.
  • I Have No Son!: When Harley's parents sell her out for the second time, they drop the act and tell her how they really feel. Revealing that they've always disliked the choices she made and are both disappointed and furious with her. Harley, utterly shocked and outraged by their betrayal, treats them likewise and does not even bother killing them.
  • Insistent Terminology: That's Dr. Psycho, thank you very much!
  • Joker Immunity: The Joker himself may have this, by the skin of his teeth, but no such assurances are made to other characters in the DC canon, as Scarecrow finds out after getting his face melted off and his head exploded.
  • Lame Pun Reaction:
    • Harley and Robin both groan when Superman tells Lois they’re still on for a sushi date because that’s “how he rolls”.
    • Clayface's notable enjoyment of one in episode seven is remarked upon by Dr. Psycho.
    • Poison Ivy's reaction to Condiment King's Hurricane of Puns taunting his nemesis, Kite Man:
    Poison Ivy: "I think he's my nemesis now, too."
  • Latex Perfection: Gruesomely exaggerated: the Joker at the beginning wears an actual face, and yet it still looks perfectly real.
  • Lol 69: Kite Man’s apartment number is “66” but he turned the second one upside down so it’d be “69”. When Ivy comes by, she fixes it and when it gets knocked back down when the door shuts, he says , “Nice!” After they have a fight at dinner, Ivy brings a “9” with her when she comes to apologize so he can have a proper number.
  • Magic Skirt: In the episode where Poison Ivy has been taken prisoner to extract her pheromones and turn it into a lethal city-killing poison, she is seen strapped to an operating table in a modesty-preserving but very short hospital gown. When Harley and the crew turn up to rescue her, that hospital gown has to do a lot of work to keep her covered as she performs acrobatic kicks and does a lot of leaping between vehicles on the insanely multi-level Harley Quinn Highway - this includes a prolonged fall from a very great height.
  • Mundane Utility: Unintentionally, an amnesiac and normal Joker reads the magical storybook with the Justice League trapped inside to his new girlfriend's children, thinking it was just a normal book that was buried with him.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In the promo trailer with Harley and Ivy talking to the viewers, blink and you'll miss it but the magazine that Ivy's reading is actually The Batman Adventures: Mad Love comic, opened to the page with the "HAARLEEY!!" panel.
    • Harley wears her classic jester costume from Batman: The Animated Series, but switches out to a new look combining her New 52 outfit with her hairstyle from the Suicide Squad film in the first episode after deciding to dump the Joker for good. She ends up wearing her classic look again in the finale, and she hates it.
      • Harley believed she was forcibly thrown into acid/chemicals by the Joker like her New 52 incarnation; in fact, she dove in willingly, like her Suicide Squad incarnation.
    • The Joker and Harley Quinn's assault on the rich pieces of shit leads to a huge pile of money getting torched, which the Joker doesn't seem to care about. Probably because this attack was about sending a message.
    • Bane's voice is an impression of the one Tom Hardy gave him in The Dark Knight Rises.
    • Riddler's "ultimate riddle" in the pilot is revealed to actually be a cruel either/or decision meant for Joker — his nemesis and his girlfriend, both suspended mid-air in glass chambers, where only one can be saved and the other will fall to their death. After cackling at the whole situation for a bit, Joker immediately and predictably decides on Batman, ending his relationship with Harley for good. He then sends a "Jokergram" to Ivy's apartment to apologize — in other words, a henchman with a cell phone bomb in his stomach.
    • Kite Man's Catchphrase ('"hell yeah'") is from Tom King's Batman run.
    • Queen of Fables' ridiculous fate of being cursed by Zatanna to live out the rest of her life as a copy of US Tax Code is taken straight from JLA #47. In the comics, she was trapped in that book (instead of the storybook she was originally trapped in) because her power is drawn from imagination, and there is nothing imaginative about a book of tax codes.
    • During the Queen of Fables flashback, Batman is seen pulling a Batbreaker on Pinocchio.
    • Batman subdues King Shark with the "Shark Repellent" spray from the Adam West show.
    • In the comics Sy Borgman is a resident in a nursing home where "Dr Quinzel" works. Here he owns the apartment building where she lives instead.
    • A "Suicide Squad" is mentioned to exist in this universe and is completely seperate from the Squad (and Harley) of the other DC animation continuity, just like there is Harley in both her own solo comic and the Suicide Squad comic running at the same time but occupying completely separate continuities.
    • One of the prisoners from episode six’s inmate number is “011285” which is the date of the giant squid attack from Watchmen.
    • Once again, Scarecrow is the one to unmask Batman, just like in Batman: Arkham Knight.
    • Season 1 ends with a massive earthquake leveling most of Gotham, in a reference to Batman: No Man's Land, the story arc in which Harley debuted in the mainstream comics canon, after previously remaining limited to Animated Series related continuity.
    • Penguin gets his nose bitten off by Harley in Season 2. In a different Batman-related series, an enemy of the title character got his nose cut off.
      • The Penguin himself also violently bit someone on the nose in Batman Returns.
    • Mr. Freeze's intro in "Thawing Hearts" - entering from the shadows as his glasses turn on - is a visual nod to his typical entrances in Batman the Animated Series: best seen several times in "Heart of Ice," and the title card of "Deep Freeze."
    • Harley’s incorrect assumption that Mr. Freeze is some sort of creepy stalker who doesn’t really love his wife Nora is probably a reference to the unpopular re-tool of their relationship in the 2011 Batman series.
    • The report about Harley that the President looks at in "Inner (Para) Demons" is entirely references to her Batman:TAS appearances.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: This is the impetus of the show, and a major point in Harley's Character Development. Her desire to be her own person and not just the Joker's sidekick girlfriend are major reasons for her dumping him, and it takes time for her to emerge from his shadow and establish her own profile as a villain. In "Being Harley Quinn", a major epiphany for her is that she thought the Joker pushed her into the vat of chemicals that turned Harleen Quinzel into Harley Quinn, but a repressed memory reveals she jumped. This serves as an empowering moment for Harley as she had blamed the Joker for what she'd become but now realizes she's always been in control of her own choices, and she triumphantly declares to the Joker in her memory that her real origin story was when she left him and became her own person, not when she jumped into the vat.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The trailers have a habit of adding bleeps over dialog even when the speaker isn't actually swearing.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: It's often come up elsewhere that contact with salt is painful and debilitating to Poison Ivy. Here she has no problem swimming in the sea, likely so long as sea plants and animals already live and thrive thereabouts.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Robin’s big eyes and Shonen Hair are much more Animesque than the rest of the characters’ designs. Likely a nod to his Teen Titans incarnation.
  • Noodle Incident: Joker apparently "paralyzed" Commissioner Gordon's "partner" sometime before the show, which is why the commissioner has lost it.
  • Not Quite Dead: Ivy takes a harpoon through the heart courtesy of Joker, at which point Harley and her crew bury her body on the spot that she died. Or at least, supposedly died. Ivy comes in to save Harley before she hits the vat of acid that would have turned her normal, then dunks the Joker into it.
  • Not So Above It All: Batman initially appears to be the only hero not affected by the show's portrayal of super villains as pop culture, but even he reminisces fondly over having found his first nemesis.
  • Not Worth Killing: Harley tells her parents this after they sell her out to the mob's hit men and try to kill her to collect the bounty on her head.
  • Oh, Crap!: The expressions on Harley and Ivy's face after they kiss shows that they fully understand the gravity of what's happened.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Joker’s “proposal” to Harley. Harley believed it to be a romantic scene of her dancing with Joker until Joker takes out a ring and says “till death do us part”. Harley is then forced by the mental image of her past self to confront the reality of what happened. They were actually on the roof of a building, the violinists were actually Joker’s henchmen, Harley wasn’t dancing with Joker but actually holding a grenade, and Joker wasn’t saying “till death do us part” to Harley, he was saying it to Batman just before ditching Harley as an explosive distraction.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending: In the Season One finale, Harley defeats Joker with the help of her crew and Ivy is resurrected. The Justice League is also presumably still stuck in the Queen of Fables' book, Batman has disappeared and Gotham has been blown up by the Joker, presumably killing countless civilians. Since the main characters are Villain Protagonists, they consider it a happy ending.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: King Sharks calls Mr. Freeze, “ the most woke ice themed villain in New New Gotham”.
  • Politically Correct Villain: Mr. Freeze tells Harley that he stopped the Legion of Doom from killing her because he knew heterosexual, cisgendered, white men love nothing more than to make a mockery out of a womannote .
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Dr. Psycho calls Wonder Woman the c-word. Additionally, in the first episode, Joker declares to his henchman Stan that "women aren't funny".
  • Pragmatic Villainy: When Harley says she's going to kill Damian Wayne, the rest of her crew talks her out of it. Not necessarily because they're opposed to killing kids, but because it would make Harley an instant pariah in the supervillain community.
  • Precision F-Strike: Albeit bleeped, in the trailer, Harley says that if no one enjoys her show, she will "bash their f***ing heads in!" There are two unbleeped s-bombs in the SDCC trailer. Cue the actual series premiere and f-bombs dropping in the very first minute.
  • Properly Paranoid: Arkham has a rule of no plants within 50 yards of Poison Ivy... but the inmates are able to get around this by using a seed from an orange.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The show appears to take place in a universe in which being a supervillain is a job like any other, and supervillainy is a major contributor to the economy. Supervillain lairs have realtors, and henchmen can be hired from temp agencies, and earn points on "Goon Review".
  • Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Frequently averted, especially with Poison Ivy. Characters often stumble, stammer and interrupt themselves.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • When a rich jerk insults Harley, she bashes his leg with her hammer, causing a severe compound fracture that kills him after he goes into shock from massive blood loss.
    • Dr. Psycho calls Wonder Woman a terrible obscenity on national TV, destroying his reputation, ruining his career and making him a pariah in the super villain community.
    • Superman gets a piece of rock in his mouth when he flies through a wall, mentioning that he should have kept it closed.
    • When King Shark smells Robin's blood and goes into a feeding frenzy, the Boy Wonder panics and screams for his father. Damian may be a trained assassin, but he is still a child.
    • While both Harley and Ivy are skilled and lethal fighters against any mook, they're both out of their league in a straight-out fight against Batman.
    • The Queen of Fable’s punishment of being turned into a tax book is ruled as cruel and unusual, causing the court to order her release. She is still a dangerous villain who tried to destroy the city and as such is immediately sent to serve a more conventional sentence in Arkham.
    • Queen of Fables is this to the Harley Quinn crew; unlike the crew, Fables is a true villain and not a thug with a code of honor. When a stranger witnesses the crew almost break into a building, Fables tells Harley to move forward with the plan as she distracts them. Harley Quinn assumes Fables will just talk things out with the family or threaten them into keeping silent. However, Fables is eventually revealed to have butchered everyone by summoning The Big Bad Wolf; stating that threatening them wouldn't have worked and she had to kill all the witnesses after they saw her kill a family member to prevent a bloodline revenge plot from a surviving member. When asked if she could see any survivors; Harley lies by saying Fables killed everyone. The surviving family member, Jason Praxis, does in fact return for revenge and nearly kills Fables and the crew after Fables tried betraying Harley for the weather machine. Not learning the lesson, Harley tries tricking Jason into believing he got his revenge by killing The Queen of Fables, but Fables returns and kills Jason in front of a horrified Harley Quinn. Fables then says that Harley shouldn't let her walk away after angering her, suggesting that she will return one day in the future.
    • Harley might not have a problem with people knowing her real identity, but her parents have had to put up with years of hatred and ridicule because of it. It's one of the reasons they betray her.
    • While Kite-Man enjoyed flying Poison Ivy back to her place on his glider, he later admits that it would've been faster for Ivy to call a cab.
    • Commissioner Gordon isn't the usual enduring, hardboiled detective as usually depicted in the comics and adaptations; this version of Commissioner Gordon is an emotional trainwreck of a man. He's stressed 24/7, constantly on edge, and is desperate to prove himself to his only friend Batman. He's doing a thankless job and frankly nobody really respects him for it.
    • When Dr. Psycho gets to be part of the legion again, Harley explicitly tells him he's banned from missions where they are likely to encounter female villains. After publicly calling a heroine the c-word, the Legion won't let him near one again. Psycho himself shrugs it off as fair.
    • Riddler easily sees through Ivy and Harley's college student disguises. They are obviously not students and both their Paper-Thin Disguise are so bad that anybody who knows what they look like will be able to tell who they are.
    • It's shown throughout season 2 that spending several years in an abusive relationship with the Joker has made Harley cynical towards the concept of romantic relationships, and can't look at other couples without trying to sniff for ulterior motives. And instead of trying to deliver An Aesop to Harley about The Power of Love, most of her friends can plainly see why she's developed that attitude, and are sympathetic towards her.
    • Barbara Gordon might have gotten the training from her dad in how to handle and shoot a pistol. but she hasn't yet developed the aiming skill to hit a small target from a distance.
    • Batman’s months-long coma leads to his muscles becoming extremely atrophied to the point he can barely do a thing without Alfred’s help. Alfred knew that if Bruce fought in his condition, all he’d accomplish was giving Gotham false hope and injure himself further to the point his recovery would take far longer. Which is what happened when he tried to fight Bane in a power suit and ended up shattering his legs.
    • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family? Nope. About the only things some villains have in common are their enemies, but many of them have different goals and ambitions that won't always align with each other. Also, because they're, well, evil, many of them won't hesitate to turn on each other if they get in each other's way. As Harley discovers, not even her own crew, who previously seemed to be built up as a pack of True Companions, is above this, as Doctor Psycho betrays them when Harley doesn't want to be as evil as him.
    • Even though Harley is her best friend and has mutual romantic feelings for her, Ivy chooses to marry Kite-Man overstaying by her side. Harley has betrayed Ivy's trust and help numerous times, and her unstable personality constantly means there's no guarantee she won't hurt Ivy again. Ivy can just barely consider Harley her friend, much less a potential romantic partner.
    • Due to her poor social skills, Ivy is actually quite insecure about her love life and isn't sure if she's dating Kite Man for the right reasons. She knows he's loving and supportive but she can't help but feel that she's only dating him because he was the best option so far and is afraid to take the next step with him. She does choose him over Harley because he was seen as the healthiest, most secure relationship.
    • When Harley's mind-controlled crew fights the Justice League, they're able to put up a decent fight against the heroes at first but they are soundly defeated because they are a bunch of fairly minor villains going up against The Justice League.
    • Even though Kiteman has forgiven Ivy for having an affair with Harley, he coldly dumps her after Gordon ruins the wedding. Kiteman has kept track of their relationship and realised that Ivy was never going to be on the same level as him in the relationship. Her facial expression and Gordon's plan only reminded him that he and Ivy have dominating flaws in their relationship. For those reasons, he tells Ivy that he deserves better than her because he realised that he was just wasting his time with Ivy, as he was just dragging her around at this point. She clearly didn't want to be with him but was too afraid to say it.
  • Recurring Extra: Cheryl, a Gotham cop who later switches over to Bane's side and then back again; voiced by Poison Ivy's Lake Bell with a Southern accent, a Creator In-Joke to Ivy originally having a Southern accent in the comics.
  • Reused Character Design: The woman anchor of the Gotham News Network (GNN) — which later temporarily became the Joker News Network (JNN) — closely resembles Kathy Duquesne.
  • Right Behind Me: Immediately after declaring "women aren't funny", Joker is told that Harley is standing right behind him. He doesn't seem to care.
  • R-Rated Opening: The opening scene of the first episode showcases the Joker and Harley graphically and bloodily beating and murdering a boat full of wealthy people, dropping plenty of swears every few seconds.
  • Ruder and Cruder: This series uses a lot more profanity, violence, and mature themes than any other DC Animated Universe series or film. While most of the profanity is bleeped on television airings, some of the harsher swears are just barely censored.
  • Running Gag:
    • There are several throwaway lines in the first two episodes about Harley's grand plan of blackmailing the city into naming a highway after her. At the end of the third one, which is all about Harley getting a crew, a Coincidental Broadcast comes up about a high-speed chase on the "abruptly renamed Harley Quinn Parkway". Then in the eleventh episode, Harley's gang, Ivy and Scarecrow's gang wind up being in their own high speed chase on the insanely redesigned Harley Quinn Highway, with Harley remarking she regrets some of her design choices.
    • Gordon frequently peppers what he says with mentions or descriptions of internal organs — often his own, to gross effect.
    • Harley constantly claims Batman fucks bats.
    • Like a broken record, Batman keeps saying, "You're going to Arkham," to Harley.
    • Harley has a tendency to destroy Ivy's furniture and appliances whenever she gets angry, which occurs about Once an Episode.
    • Any time Kite Man unveils his kite, it always knocks someone over.
    • Kite Man drops a "Hell yeah!" a few times.
      • Later subverted with Ivy's inner mind version of Kite Man being completely incinerated by Ivy's worst fear while instead saying "Hell... Nah..."
      • And later, he breaks up from Ivy by telling her, "Hell... No," when she asks to continue their interrupted wedding.
    • Clayface repeatedly reminds everyone that he's (in his mind) a professional actor, imagines elaborate backstories to go with all his disguises, but his acting always stinks.
  • Screen Tap:
    • The trailer begins with Harley tapping on the screen, complete with the traditional "glass" sound effect.
    • Spoofed in episode 1 when Ivy sprays Harley out cold during the Arkham breakout, showing Harley fall face down as if pressed onto a glass floor.
    • Repeated in another episode when Harley fights Batman on live-TV and gets face-slammed into the camera lens, looking and sounding as if pressed against the TV screen.
  • Secret Identity Apathy: Averted. There's an unmasking of Batman, but Joker finds it anti-climactic that Batman is Bruce Wayne. And Scarecrow only unmasked Batman to try and be more like Harley. The Joker takes this so badly that he melts Scarecrow's face with acid.
  • Shock and Awe: Jason Praxis gained the power to control electricity after he was shocked by the fences outside S.T.A.R. Labs.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ivy has a maneating, talking plant for a roommate named Frank.
    • Harley angrily does the Floss in season 1 episode 2.
    • While inside Harley's head, the photo of her family resembles the Bundys.
    • Kite Man (real name Charles Brown) falls for a redhead.
    • Lex Luthor's 'cultural attache' is named Esteban.note 
    • Clayface in general provides many of these due to his passion for acting, even mentioning where he references from. Special mention goes to Poison Ivy's funeral, before she eventually comes back to life, Clayface directly quotes Star Trek II The Wrath Of Khan in saying Poison Ivy was "the most human" person he met.
    • The Frieses Meet Cute of having met online while Victor was trying to buy her family's mom & pop business is a reference to You've Got Mail. The reference is driven home when Clayface asks if the person Fries met online was Meg Ryan.
    • Pamela Isley's middle name is revealed to be "Gertrude" here,note  the same as Phineas and Ferb's (also a redhead) sister Candace. And just like her, Ivy reacts in embarrassment when it's spoken out loud in front of others.
    • Harley demands, "What's the point of having an elevator that doesn't work?" - an Actor Allusion to Kaley Cuoco's other big role, where there was a famously non-functioning elevator.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The trailer released for SDCC is set to Joan Jett's cover of the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The second trailer features Aretha Franklin's song "Think" from The Blues Brothers soundtrack.
  • Special Guest: Comedian / Game Show Host Howie Mandel and actor Frankie Muniz guest voice as themselves in short appearances in Season 1. George Lopez does this in Season 2.
  • Spiritual Successor: The show has been compared to The Venture Bros., both shows taking a similar approach to portraying the high-octane world of superheroes and supervillains under a casual, Deconstructionist lens full of relationship drama and celebrity culture.
  • STD Immunity: Defied; in season 1 episode 2, Joker claims that Harley has HPV. Bane responds that most sexually active adults have it. In episode 3, Harley informs Maxie Zeus that calling him a "creepy dick" for exposing himself to her wasn't just an insult, but a concern. Note that trained psychiatrists such as Harley do know medicine.
    • This continues in season 2, episode 2, when Harley declares that she and Ivy get HPV vaccinations since they're going to infiltrate a university, and Ivy reminds her that they're both too old for those. As noted previous, Harley would already know that and so was being sarcastic.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Episode 9, when Clayface asks Dr. Psycho what he said to make Black Manta so angry at him, Psycho liltingly replies, "Nothing raaaaaaacist..."
  • Take That!:
    • In the very first teaser, Harley Quinn says that unlike Donald Glover's ill-fated Deadpool cartoon, her show is actually coming out. Deadpool is considered Marvel's equivalent to some of DC's characters, including Harley Quinn if not also Lobo and Deathstroke.
    • In the same teaser, Poison Ivy asks why Harley's show is a comedy when DC's movies are known for being bleak, gritty, and depressing. A visibly nervous Harley responds by saying that while that is an excellent way to make a movie, everyone on her show will have fun.
    • Queen of Fables's brutal telling of Superman with Harley Quinn saying "there is no way Superman did that" can be considered a take that to the Injustice: Gods Among Us where Regime Superman infamously kills Shazam with his heat vision.
    • Sy suggests calling up his old friend Henry Kissinger for pointers when the gang briefly considers becoming war criminals to get into the Legion of Doom.
    • A misogynistic Straw Fan who shows up in the episode Batman's Back, Man is shown wearing a "Release the Snyder Cut" T-Shirt and refuses to watch Harley until he sees the episode doesn’t have her in it. His far more reasonable friend (who goes so far as to ask if the misogynistic nerd actually watched the show before forming an opinion) is wearing a shirt that says "The Last Jedi is non-canon".
    • When the gang goes to Apokolips and Harley is ordered by Darkseid to fight Granny Goodness to death, King Shark says he doesn’t want to kill old people because the American healthcare system already does it.
    • "Inner (Para) Demons" takes several shots at Game of Thrones's much maligned final season.
  • Take That, Us: "Batman’s Back, Man" ends with the two viewers saying the DC Universe distribution model of releasing episodes weekly sucks (In the US, the show premieres on the DC Universe service). This just as the misogynistic nerd was starting to come around to the show.
  • Taking You with Me: In the first season finale, the Joker was thrown into the chemical bath which will erase his memories and revert him back to normal, a fate both him and Harley Quinn deemed to be worse than death. His last act of terror was to blow up his fortress along with Gotham hoping to kill off Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy before he reverts back to normal.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: Word of God had said that this Gotham City is shown through Harley's eyes. In her original incarnation in Batman: The Animated Series, Harley always saw the very dangerous villains of Arkham Asylum as her eccentric friends, while the heroes and the police were humorless killjoys. How untrue that makes this version of Gotham, especially in the scenes where Harley isn't present, is another matter.
  • Too Much Information: Apparently Catwoman likes to overshare about her and Batman's love life. When Harley says she wants a nemesis with "hair on his chest" (talking about Robin), Ivy responds that eliminates Batman because Catwoman told her that he waxes everything.
  • Unreliable Narrator: The show occasionally suggests (and the creators have confirmed) that the events of the show are heavily colored by Harley's interpretation. This even affects Harley herself as she finds that she has altered some of her own memories.
  • Villain Has a Point: Queen of Fables definitely shouldn't have murdered an entire family reunion just to avoid leaving witnesses. But her insistence that any survivors would come back to get revenge is proven right when Jason Praxis shows up to do just that.
  • Villains Out Shopping: A large portion of the show has the villains in utterly inane settings that have nothing to do with super-villainy, like being roommates, talking about their relationships over lunch, having morning coffee together, attending a bar mitzvah, and so on.
  • Villain Protagonist: In spite of the fact that she's A Lighter Shade of Black than the Legion of Doom, Harley is still a career criminal. Her goal is to get into the LOD, she regularly clashes with superheroes, and she gleefully commits horrible acts. The show still paints Harley sympathetically by showing her bonding with her crew (especially Poison Ivy), and showing that there are a couple of lines that she won't cross.
    • By season 2, the crew seems to lean more towards being heroes than villains. Batgirl even points out that even though they claim to be bad guys, they sure seem to end up saving the day a lot.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Harley's pet hyenas typically play some sort of role in every series. But after briefly appearing early in Season 2, they dissappear completely without mention.
  • X Meets Y: The DCU meets The Venture Bros..
  • Yandere: As a child, Harley loved Frankie Muniz so much that she dreamed of kidnapping him, forcing him to marry her, and having his kids.

Alternative Title(s): Harley Quinn Animated Series, Harley Quinn 2018, Harley Quinn


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