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Harley Quinn Animated Series - What We Know So Far

Since she first debuted on Batman: The Animated Series in 1992, Harley Quinn has carved out a substantial fanbase in the crowded Batman rogues' gallery. After Margot Robbie wonderfully portrayed the character in the otherwise troubled Suicide Squad film, DC decided to swing for the fences with Harley Quinn. Multiple projects are in the works surrounding Harley, and one we're very excited about is the upcoming animated series for the DC Universe streaming service.

Harley's show is no children's cartoon — it features off-the-wall humor, plenty of bloody violence, and enough F-bombs to make a sailor blush. It also features a pretty impressive who's who of acting talent voicing its eclectic cast of characters.

DC has been fairly tight-lipped about Harley Quinn, but we have learned quite a bit about the show as we move towards its premiere. Here's everything we know about Harley Quinn so far.

What's the release date for Harley Quinn's premiere on DC Universe?

We know that Harley Quinn is headed to the DC Universe streaming network, but when can we actually sit down and watch it? For months, we had endless speculation about a release date, but we never got any concrete answers. That finally changed at New York Comic Con in October. We now know that Harley Quinn will have a premiere date of November 29, 2019, available on the DC Universe streaming network alongside several other original and classic DC series and movies.

Originally, Harley Quinn was set to debut after Stargirl, another comic adaptation headed to DC Universe. Now, ScreenRant reports that Stargirl has been pushed back to a 2020 debut. It seems that DC is trying to strike while the iron is hot and capitalize on Harley's popularity — in February of 2020, not long after Harley Quinn debuts, Birds of Prey will hit theaters.

Original predictions had been eyeing October 2019 as a release for Harley Quinn, so they weren't too far off. We may not have a Harley Halloween, but at least we can ring in a Harley holiday season.

Who's playing Harley Quinn?

Harley Quinn has appeared in many different movies and television shows, and she has been played by a few different actresses. However, two are easily the most recognizable: Arleen Sorkin, who voiced Harley in Batman: The Animated Series, and Margot Robbie, who played the character in Suicide Squad and will probably play the character on the big screen for the foreseeable future. Another actress is stepping up to swing the mallet on the Harley Quinn animated series: Kaley Cuoco, most recognizable as Penny from The Big Bang Theory.

Cuoco is excited to explore the character and have some fun with her. She told Deadline that a big part of Harley Quinn will be the character's search for an identity beyond being "the Joker's girlfriend," saying, "She's learning what real friendships are. These friends are more of her family than her real family which we find out later in the series."

Judging from what we've heard so far, Cuoco is having an absolute blast as the character.

Who's playing Harley Quinn's Batman?

When most people think of an animated Batman vocal performance, they immediately jump to Kevin Conroy. However, the voice of the Caped Crusader in Harley Quinn is no stranger to the role: Batman is voiced by Diedrich Bader, who also played Batman for three seasons on Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

The Brave and the Bold was a show aimed at kids, however, so Bader's take on Batman had to be tweaked a bit for the madcap, R-rated shenanigans underfoot in Harley Quinn. Bader has a lot to say about his role in the show, with his character acting as a sort of grounding force for Harley as all sorts of bizarre things go on around them.

Bader is also very willing to get into the process that went into crafting the characters and situations in Harley Quinn. The showrunners let him improv lots of dialogue with other actors, including Alan Tudyk (who plays both Joker and Clayface) and Christopher Meloni (Jim Gordon). It will be interesting to see Bader play a slightly altered version of a character that he had already done such stellar work with in a very different series.

Who else is in the cast of Harley Quinn?

Harley Quinn has an incredibly impressive array of talent voicing its characters. Kaley Cuoco seems to be having the time of her life in the lead role, and a huge assortment of famous DC characters are along for the ride, heroes and villains alike.

Diedrich Bader is returning to the role of Batman after playing the character on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and exploring the relationships between those two characters and the Joker is a big part of the show. Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Star Wars: Rogue One) is voicing the Clown Prince of Crime in this go-'round; he's also voicing Clayface.

Speaking of exploring relationships, the show will also explore the relationship between Harley and Pamela Isley, also known as Poison Ivy. Lake Bell (Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, BoJack Horseman) is voicing Ivy. A brief shot in the show's trailer of the pair falling into each other's arms suggests that it won't shy away from their romantic history.

Other talent appearing in Harley Quinn includes Jason Alexander, Giancarlo Esposito, Ron Funches, Tony Hale, Natalie Morales, J.B. Smoove, and Wanda Sykes. In short, there's bound to be plenty of "I know that voice!" moments on Harley Quinn.

The official Harley Quinn trailer

We've gotten a few different looks at the animation and style of Harley Quinn, but the trailer that was released at San Diego Comic Con is really the best look at the tone, humor, and look of the show. Set to Joan Jett's impossibly catchy cover of the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, it's immediately obvious what you can expect from Harley Quinn.

Harley calls someone a "d**khead." She smashes Maxie Zeus in the head with a baseball bat and blood goes flying. She cracks Joker between the legs. Best of all, she punches Aquaman (who looks an awful lot like a blonde Nathan Explosion) right in the throat.

If you weren't paying attention and just saw some images of Harley Quinn, you might assume it's aimed at children, but it wouldn't take too long to figure out that they are absolutely not the target audience. We're hoping it doesn't rely too much on the "Whoa, Harley's swearing again!" crutch, but we'll have to wait and see.

How many episodes of Harley Quinn are on the way?

There might be more R-rated animated Gotham adventures on the way than you might think — Harley Quinn is already set to produce 26 half-hour episodes. Judging by the way DC Universe has released their past shows, it seems likely that new episodes will release once or twice a week for several months.

That means you probably won't sit down and binge watch hours of Harley Quinn in a row (unless you wait until they've all released first), and instead will think more about the stories and character arcs as the season progresses.

Batman himself, Diedrich Bader, has said that the show traces some interesting relationship arcs throughout the first season. We can expect to see Harley trying to break free from the Joker and become her own person, all while Batman looks on, believing she has a shot at redemption. It will be interesting to see how much the show leans into the overarching story and how often it goes for more "bottle" episodes or monster-of-the-week type scenarios.

Who are some of these bizarre characters?

Harley Quinn's world isn't just populated by the A-List of Batman characters. It seems like the show has dug fairly deep for some of its cast, with some of them even possibly playing large roles throughout the course of the season.

Sure, we see Joker, Batman, Poison Ivy, etc. But how about Maxie Zeus? He's a crime boss who literally thinks he is the son of the thunder god. Or what about Kite Man? This classic, bizarre comic book villain is showing up in Harley's eclectic cast, probably to be the butt of several jokes.

King Shark is here. Calendar Man shows up in a quick shot. KGBeast bumps fists with Lex Luthor. Hell, even the Queen of Fables is there to flip double birds.

Like many shows set in the Batman universe, it seems likely that Harley Quinn will mainly focus on more well-known characters and feature the oddball character now and again. Who knows — maybe Kite Man will be a breakout hit on the show and get his own movie in the next few years! (Narrator voice: He won't.)

Who's behind Harley Quinn?

Harley Quinn lists three people as its creators: Justin Halpern, Dean Lorey, and Patrick Schumacker. Interestingly, this is not the trio's first foray into an eclectic, comics-based show. In fact, it's not even their first foray into a DC property.

The team previously produced the show Powerless, which starred Vanessa Hudgens and ran on NBC for one season in 2017. It was a comedy that focused on a company that made products for people who were likely to be caught in the crossfire between superheroes and their enemies. Alan Tudyk (who voices Joker and Clayface in Harley Quinn) and Ron Funches (who voices King Shark) were both featured actors in Powerless.

They have also worked in a variety of roles on different shows, including Arrested Development, Surviving Jack, and iZombie. It seems like they have big ideas in mind for Harley Quinn — hopefully DC gives the show some room to breathe and doesn't go all Swamp Thing on it if it fails to find an immediate audience.

Where did Harley Quinn come from?

Most of the major players in the Batman mythos first debuted many, many years ago. Joker, Penguin, Riddler, Alfred, Robin — they all appeared in Batman comics before 1950! Compared to some of these old-timers, Harley Quinn is a right spring chicken: she made her first ever appearance in 1992. Her debut is also unique in that it wasn't in the comics — she first showed up on Batman: The Animated Series before transitioning to the greater Batman canon.

The story goes that Paul Dini, a writer for the show, was home sick with the TV on in the background. Days of Our Lives was on, and actress Arleen Sorkin was dressed as a jester in a dream sequence. Dini based the original concept of Harley Quinn on that image, with Sorkin even coming on board to voice Harley — a role she would continue to perform over the course of 20 years.

Harley was initially intended to appear in just one episode as a minor Joker minion, but she struck a chord with fans. It wasn't long before Harley was brought into Batman's comic universe as well. Now, having made the leap to live-action with Margot Robbie's portrayal of the character in Suicide Squad and the upcoming Birds of Prey, Quinn's mainstream attention is at an all-time high. Getting her own animated series is just another way for the character to continue coming into her own.

Harley Quinn's series premiere debuts at New York Comic Con

At 2019's New York Comic Con, fans were treated to the pilot episode of Harley Quinn. Reaction was pretty positive overall — not that the Harley superfans in the grip of convention fever were necessarily an impartial audience. Regardless, Digital Spy rounded up a generous sampling of early social media reactions. Phrases thrown around include "fresh," "screaming with laughter," and "definitely not for kids," along with a healthy dose of fire emojis. 

During the NYCC Harley Quinn panel, the show's creators dropped some interesting tidbits about the series. They mentioned that the Gotham City in Harley Quinn is unlike any Gotham we've ever seen because we're seeing it through Harley's eyes. If you know anything about the character, you may recall that she could be a bit of an unreliable narrator.

They also mentioned that, while the show is very adult, it dials back some of the gore and language as the first season goes on after initially throwing the audience into the deep end. Essentially, the idea is to turn off potential viewers who would find the show unpleasant right away, rather than sneaking in surprise shocks. We'll see if those early positive reactions speak for everyone when Harley Quinn debuts in late November.