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Why We Can Thank Days Of Our Lives For The Creation Of Harley Quinn

In the current DC Comics landscape, one of its most popular characters came not from the panels of a comic book but from a children's show. First appearing in "Batman: The Animated Series" in 1992, Harley Quinn has become a tentpole character for the franchise, arguably rivaling the big blue boy scout, Superman himself. As Mashable relays, she is one of the few characters with definite plans to return to the big screen in the sequel to 2019's "Joker," played by Lady Gaga.

Even some of the most dedicated Batman fans forget who truly originated the role of Harley Quinn. When thinking about portrayals of the infamous criminal, many fans will likely first think of Margot Robbie, the widely popular "Wolf of Wall Street" actress who first gave the character life on the big screen in 2016's "Suicide Squad."

Maybe they'll think of voice actor Tara Strong — "Loki's" Miss Minutes has voiced the character numerous times throughout the mid-2000s and 2010s, most notably in the smash hit "Batman: Arkham" video game franchise (including the upcoming "Suicide Squad: Kill The Justice League"). Or perhaps "The Big Bang Theory's" Kaley Cuoco, who is showing a revolutionary side of the character in HBO Max's "Harley Quinn." While they have all left their mark on comics' first lady of crime, none of them can take credit for originating the character — for Harley Quinn, the world owes several debts to this iconic soap opera star.

Who created Harley Quinn?

Understandably, modern comic book movie and TV fans wouldn't usually cross over with those of '80s daytime soap operas, but in this instance, they should. Arleen Sorkin played the role of Calliope Jones Bradford on the long-running drama "Days of Our Lives" starting in 1984. Sorkin also voiced Harley Quinn in the early DC Animated Universe, including "Superman: The Animated Series," "Justice League," "Static Shock," and, of course, her first appearances in "Batman: The Animated Series." She didn't just voice the character, however — she inspired her very creation.

As Sorkin recounts in a 2009 interview with former Batman website Brother-Eye.net, her open communication with the "Days of Our Lives" writers allowed her to occasionally pitch and discuss stories. After seeing the 1987 film "The Princess Bride," she suggested doing a fantasy episode on the show. The writers loved her idea and had her play a jester. Her costume was blue and red, with white and black face paint.

By chance, her close friend and Batman writer Paul Dini saw the episode, which she says inspired him to create the character of Harley Quinn. Dini's first sketch of the character can be seen on Reddit — though it's a far cry from the final product. Sorkin goes on to say that the episode "Harley's Holiday" — in which the character is mistakenly accused of theft — was based on an unused story idea she pitched for her "Days of Our Lives" character. Fans may be unaware that Sorkin recently had a unique cameo in Robbie's "Birds of Prey" film (which can be seen on Twitter), a small acknowledgment of her indelible contribution to the character and the franchise.