Batman: The Animated Series introduced Harley Quinn, a character now widely adored, despite initial resistance from DC Comics. Quinn’s debut was controversial as it humanized the Joker, her inclusion changing his chaotic and evil persona. Harley Quinn’s popularity stems from her evolving storyline, transforming from a villain to an anti-hero seeking independence and a fresh identity.

Batman: The Animated Series made Harley Quinn one of the most beloved DC characters despite the fact that she was an original creation for the beloved DC series. Harley Quinn was first introduced as the Joker’s girlfriend and sidekick, but in recent DC media, she has become a more independent character. Harley is incredibly popular, whether it’s the live-action version played by Margot Robbie, the video game version voiced by Tara Strong, or any number of her other interpretations. However, DC wasn’t immediately convinced that her introduction to the canon was a good idea.

Quinn was created by Paul Dinn and Bruce Timm and debuted in the iconic Batman: The Animated Series episode “Joker’s Favor.” Voiced by Arleen Sorkin, Harley was a recurring character in the animated show and soon became so famous that she also crossed over into the comics. She was officially introduced into the comics’ canon in 1999’s Batman: Harley Quinn. Since the series, Harley has starred in several movies, like Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey, video games, and currently has her own animated show on Max. Despite her soaring popularity, DC Comics almost blocked her from entering the comics universe.

The Joker has always been a solo villain since he was first introduced in 1940. However, that all changed with the introduction of Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, which premiered in 1992. While the character is incredibly popular now, her debut was controversial, mainly due to how she changed the Joker. The Joker is a chaotic entity whose primary focus is causing havoc in Gotham and trying to defeat Batman. The addition of a girlfriend and a love life made the Joker seem more human rather than the epitome of chaos and evil that he was.

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In DC Comics writer and editor Denny O’Neil’s Back Issues #99, he explained wanted to keep Quinn out of the comics as it took away from the version of the Joker that he had in his mind. However, he “was not consulted on” her inclusion and “would not have approved” of her being included. He acknowledged that it would have been wrong for him to keep a wildly in-demand character out of the DCU. If O’Neil had blocked her inclusion, then DC and its audience would have missed out on one of Batman’s most marketable and intriguing modern characters.

Harley Quinn’s popularity continues to soar because she has one of the more interesting storylines within the DCU. While she started out as a villain in Batman: The Animated Series, her arc continues to change. There are still stories where she is a dedicated lover and soldier for the Joker, like in the Arkham video games, but many DC projects have transformed her into an anti-hero, struggling to escape the abusive relationship she had with Mr. J. and make a name for herself.

In projects like The Suicide Squad, Birds of Prey, and Max’s Harley Quinn series, she has left her “puddin” and wants to be known as a threatening force disconnected from the Joker. She continues to be a captivating character without being attached to the clown prince of crime. Her next significant appearance will be in Joker: Folie à Deux, and it’ll be exciting to see what Lady Gaga will bring to the character and how she differs from the version introduced in Batman: The Animated Series.

 A popular Batman character was almost blocked.  Read More