The Joker has been a Batman villain since almost the very beginning. With over 80 years of stories, the death of the Clown Prince of Crime and the consequences that follow have become a recurring theme.

With Batman Day upon us, it’s time to look back and reflect on the various trials and tribulations not just of Batman but of his various rogues gallery members. There is, obviously, no Batman rogue more notable than The Joker.

Article continues after ad

The Joker makes his debut in 1940’s Batman #1, but he was far from the consistent rival to Batman he has become. There were years between appearances, and it was only through comic pros who saw the potential.

Over the years, one recurring thread has been the potential of what would happen if the Joker died. Perhaps it’s telling that there’s not a single story where Joker’s death brings about an era of peace, but more often than not, these stories end with Joker finding a way to cheat death.

Article continues after ad

From neck snaps to stabbing to vampires, here is every time The Joker has died and come back to life.

DC ComicsJoker puts himself in the electric chair so he can’t be charged with later crimes.

Joker’s history of death begins with his second appearance in Detective Comics #39, wherein Joker accidentally stabs himself. However, Batman’s editor felt the character had potential and asked them to add a few extra panels indicating Joker had survived.

It wasn’t long after that Joker had his first “real” death in Detective Comics #64. Joker surrenders for his crimes and is executed by the electric chair – something he seems more inconvenienced by than anything.

Article continues after ad

It turns out he has thugs in the wings, waiting to revive him with a special mystery formula. Joker immediately picks up his crime spree again. The logic? He believes he can’t be tried again for crimes he was already punished for.

DC ComicsJoker betrayed Ra’s and Talia al Ghul and was shot for his trouble.

Legends of the Dark Knight was a masterful anthology series in which rotating creative teams would tell Batman stories on the fringe of continuity. The book definitely mattered, but it was more concerned with telling an impactful tale than anything.

Article continues after ad

The Demon Laughs sees Ra’s al Ghul and Talia break The Joker out of Arkham, as Ra’s views the Clown Prince of Crime as the perfect wild card for his world destruction plot. When Joker turns on Ra’s, though, Talia rewards him with a chest full of bullets.

Batman arrives and has no choice but to save Joker by dipping him in the Lazarus Pit. Joker is revived and, curiously, seems to be sane and remorseful for his crimes. He helps Batman find Ra’s but, tragically, reverts to his unstable self by the story’s end.

Article continues after ad

DC ComicsBelieving he had killed Robin, Nightwing beats Joker to death.

A prison doctor wants to inspire The Joker to change his ways, so he fakes lab reports and CAT scans. He convinces Joker that he has a malignant brain tumor and months, at most, to live. Joker responds the only way he knows how: a Crisis-level murder spree, led by Joker Venom poisoned versions of Batman’s worst villains.

Last Laugh was a huge event, but it pushed Batman’s protege, Nightwing, to the edge. While attempting to find Robin, they discover what they believe are his remains and Killer Croc. Furious, Nightwing lays into Joker, punching him until he’s dead.

Article continues after ad

Fortunately, Robin’s fine. Batman arrives just in time to revive Joker with CPR, but Nightwing is left irrevocably affected by the incident, blaming himself for the near murder.

DC ComicsJoker takes advantage of Red Hood and Batman’s fight to try and kill everyone.

When Jason Todd returned from the dead as the Red Hood in Under the Hood, he had a huge question for Batman: why was Joker still alive?

In All They Do Is Watch Us Kill, he finally gets a chance to enact his revenge. He captures Joker and tells Batman he’ll have to kill him or Joker.

Article continues after ad

Batman doesn’t play, though, embedding a Batarang in Jason’s neck. Joker blows the building up in the confusion, which would normally have been it. However, the story occurred just as time was being rewritten during Infinite Crisis, and everyone survived thanks to the resulting multiversal shift.

DC ComicsBatman and Joker die fighting each other in a collapsing cave.

Endgame was presented as the ultimate, final fight between Batman and Joker. After Joker returns fully healed from all his past injuries, he poisons Gotham with a new strain of his Joker Toxin.

Article continues after ad

Batman eventually learns that Joker has discovered a substance called Dionesium, which allows him to regenerate. Batman is able to use it to cure Gotham, but in a final fight with the Joker, both are trapped in a collapsing cave underneath Gotham.

Batman refuses help from his allies, dying next to Joker in the cave collapse. Both are ultimately saved from their fate by the Dionesium, though both are stricken with amnesia and out of action for some time.

Article continues after ad

DC ComicsFatally wounded, a dying Batman allows Joker to fall to his death.

A sequel to the seminal graphic novel Joker, Batman: Damned faces Batman with the ultimate mystery. The Joker dies after a fight with Batman, but Batman can’t remember what happened – so who killed Joker?

With the help of John Constantine, Batman delves into the supernatural underground of the DC Universe. Ultimately, he’s confronted by Spectre and realizes that he’s in his own Sixth Sense-like hell.

Fatally stabbed by Joker, Batman knowingly threw Joker to his death, fearful for a Gotham with a Joker but no Batman. Batman accepts his fate and the Spectre’s judgment. Just as he disappears, The Joker, implied to have either survived or been reborn, emerges from the river.

Article continues after ad

Warner BrosWhether Batman meant to let Joker die by falling from a Clock Tower has been up for debate.

The versions of Batman and Joker featured in Tim Burton’s 1989 film are responsible for the modern interpretation of the characters, for better or worse. The dark, gritty, violent take on the Dark Knight and the Clown Prince has long been the standard for fans.

The film reworked the origin of the two characters, making them more intertwined than ever. Here, a young Joker is the killer of Batman’s parents. Most shocking for fans, though, was the decision to have Batman kill Joker in the film’s finale.

Article continues after ad

Batman is somewhat absolved in that it’s framed as potentially an accident when a rope around Joker’s leg calls him to fall from a clock tower. The image of Joker, implanted in the ground, stone dead as a laughing toy goes off from his pocket, is seared in the memories of fans.

DC ComicsKnowing Batman would be blamed, Joker snaps his own neck to frame the Dark Knight.

Before Batman ’89, Frank Miller was redefining Batman in The Dark Knight Returns. After years of Batman being relatively camp, thanks to the success of Batman ’66, The Dark Knight Returns brought a gritty, violent tone back to the comics.

Article continues after ad

Throughout the first two issues, readers see the current state of Joker. He’s playing possum in Arkham but snaps back to life once he sees Batman has returned. He pretends to be reformed enough to be released, then goes on a killing spree.

Batman chases down Joker and the two fight. Joker gets the last laugh, though. After seriously wounding Batman, Joker snaps his own neck, framing Batman for his death.

DC ComicsSnapping Joker’s neck released a deadly toxin that turned Batman into a sadistic murderer.

On Earth-22, The Joker learns that Batman and Bruce Wayne are the same. He kills all of Batman’s rogues and Commissioner Gordon. Then, he begins torturing the citizens of Gotham City, including making Batman watch him kill parents in front of their children.

Article continues after ad

It’s enough to make Batman snap, and he resolves to kill The Joker. Batman snaps Joker’s neck, but Joker’s body releases a concentrated version of his Joker Toxin on his death, infecting Batman.

Batman is taken over by the toxin and kills most of his allies. He becomes The Batman Who Laughs, a twisted version of Batman who quickly becomes a multiversal threat, all because he made the mistake of killing The Joker.

Article continues after ad

DC ComicsBatman kills Joker in revenge for Batgirl and Robin’s deaths.

In JLA: The Nail, the Justice League doesn’t have a Superman. Jon and Martha Kent never find him as a baby because they run over a nail, forcing them to stop and deal with a flat tire.

The new continuity is bleak. During one adventure, The Joker forces Batman to watch as he rips apart Robin and Batgirl. Catwoman saves Batman, but the Dark Knight is too far gone. He snaps Joker’s neck on live TV.

Article continues after ad

Joker’s death does take a toll on Batman. He’s able to bounce back thanks to the love of Catwoman (who becomes a new Batwoman) and a new, hopeful future when the League finds a grown Kal-El, who had instead been discovered by Amish farmers.

DC ComicsBatman and Joker’s moment of laughter in Killing Joke leads many to speculate it’s Batman killing his enemy.

The Killing Joke ends on an interesting note, and a lot of how its ending is received is up to the reader. The book already has a tenuous place in continuity, only becoming in-universe sometime after its publication and only sparingly referenced by other comic runs.

Article continues after ad

The book follows Joker trying to prove to Batman that anyone can become him after “just one bad day.” He shoots and molests Barbara Gordon, kidnaps Commissioner Gordon and tries to break him with that knowledge.

Joker, of course, fails in breaking Gordon, and Batman saves the day. The book ends with Batman and Joker having a laugh, which abruptly ends. Many have interpreted that as Batman strangling Joker. Writer Alan Moore has stated that was never his intention, but it has become a popular interpretation of one of the most controversial and important Batman stories ever.

Article continues after ad

DC ComicsAfter Joker tricked Superman into killing his wife, Superman kills Joker.

In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the Joker comes up with the perfect plan to get Superman. He attaches a bomb to Lois Lane’s heart, then poisons Superman so he believes he’s fighting Doomsday.

Superman kills Lois, as well as their unborn child. It’s enough to finally shatter Superman, who kills Joker, driving his arm through the Clown Prince’s chest.

The event kicks off a chain of events that includes Superman leading a fascist regime while Batman fights back with a shadowy resistance. This world has remained one of DC’s most popular alternate Earths, recently appearing in Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent.

Article continues after ad

RocksteadyJoker’s use of Titan poisoned him, eventually leading to his death.

At the end of Batman: Arkham Asylum, fans were disappointed to discover the finale was a fight against a massive, mutated Joker. He had dosed himself with Titan, a compound combining Bane’s Venom with toxins harvested from Poison Ivy’s plants.

Joker uses the Titan in a last-ditch effort to beat Batman, but the repercussions are long-lasting. Combined with Joker’s unique blood, Titan is creating a fatal reaction. Joker is dying.

Poisoned by Joker, Batman tries to find a cure for them both but, ultimately, cannot save Joker. Joker dies, something which Batman takes a heavy emotional toll on Batman.

Article continues after ad

Kingdom ComeThe public was surprisingly in favor of Magog’s execution of Joker.

Kingdom Come is easily one of DC’s most important stories, a harrowing tale of the old guard and the new heroes clashing. Much like Injustice, the inciting incident is the Joker’s death.

Joker comes calling to Metropolis, killing everyone at the Daily Planet. Superman chases down Joker, but before he can catch him, Joker is killed by Magog, a new superhero who isn’t afraid to take a life.

The public execution of Joker turns the public eye, as more violent anti-heroes like Magog become idolized. Shocked by the change in views, Superman retires, refusing to agree with the new methods of the next generation of heroes.

Article continues after ad

Warner BrosAfter Joker turns Tim Drake into a twisted “son,” he kills Joker in revenge.

Shockingly, the most violent Joker death occurs in one of the more family-friendly Batman jaunts. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker reveals that Joker died years earlier, killed by Robin.

Joker kidnaps Robin and turns him into a twisted version of himself, aiming to make a perfect son for him and Harley Quinn. The fate of Robin is genuinely a horrifying moment and something that breaks Robin mentally.

How Joker dies depends on which version you saw. The PG-13 cut of the film has Joker slip and fall, electrocuting himself. In the much grimmer R-rated cut, though, Robin shoots Joker with his own pop gun, killing Joker in retaliation for the weeks of emotional and physical torture.

Article continues after ad

DC ComicsA vampire-afflicted Batman drank Joker’s blood, then staked Joker before he could turn.

The chilling sequel to the iconic Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Batman: Bloodstorm, sees a vampiric Batman patrolling Gotham City. With Dracula dead, the scores of vampires he controlled fall under a new leader: the Joker.

By this point, Batman is beginning to lose what little of his humanity remains. He shrugs off everything Joker throws at him and drinks Joker’s blood before driving a stake through his heart, knowing how dangerous a vampire Joker would be.

Article continues after ad

Bloodstorm presents itself as a finale, as Batman acknowledges he’s gone too far, pleading with Alfred and Gordon to kill him before he becomes worse than Dracula. The death would be undone with Batman: Crimson Mist, the final installment in what has come to be known as the Batman Vampire Trilogy.

 The death of the Joker and the consequences that follow have become a recurring theme in Batman books over the decades.  Read More