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Harley Quinn's Most Underrated Moments

Since her creation many years ago with "Batman: The Animated Series," Harley Quinn has become as popular in the eyes of fandom as her psychopathic ex, the Clown Prince of Crime. Few could have predicted how well-known the character would become, especially since her identity used to be tied to the Joker. Paul Dini created her as a one-off Joker sidekick, but she proved to be longer-lasting than he initially thought. In the modern age, she's managed to define herself far beyond her association with Batman's famous foe. In most current iterations of Harley's narrative, she has even abandoned the Joker, resenting the madman for his inability to reciprocate the feelings she once had for him.

Complete with her own series on HBO Max and starring roles in DCEU films, Harley Quinn has arguably surpassed her former beau in many capacities. Most comic book fans now associate her with Poison Ivy, having blossomed an intimate relationship with the vindictive, greenery-obsessive vixen in both the inked pages of her comic books and in the "Harley Quinn Animated Series." The ball-busting, eccentric psychiatrist-turned-criminal manages to straddle the line of villainy and heroism. Make no mistake, she's extremely violent and has no qualms getting her hands dirty. In more prominent versions of her character, she demonstrates compassion for the purely innocent, especially children and animals. Deep beneath that pale skin is a real, beating heart — something we can't really say about the Joker. Let's take a look at some of Harley's most underappreciated moments in her lengthy career in Gotham City.

Harley convinces Power Girl she's Harley's sidekick

Hot off the heels of their New 52 "Harley Quinn" series, Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Justin Grey crafted a new limited series featuring Harley and Power Girl in a dynamic superhero duo. Wondering why Power Girl, the Earth-2 version of Supergirl, would ever team up with the likes of a villain with a rap sheet as long as Harley's? That's sort of the point, with the contrast between them forming the humorous foundation of this adventure. Harley found the Kryptonian hero in a crater with apparent amnesia. Quick to take advantage of a hero who has no idea who she is, Harley explains to Power Girl that they are a superhero team and that Power Girl is her sidekick.

From there, they begin a crusade across space, fighting tyrants like Manos, a comically cheap Thanos knock-off. After realizing Harley stole his Infinity rings collection (complete with a toe ring), he commands his minions to kill Harley and Power Girl so he can return to his cosmic cubicle. Those are the sort of shenanigans you are in for with the Harley and Power Girl storyline. Harley "accidentally" uses the Infinity rings and barbecues Manos. Despite having lost her memory, Power Girl hasn't lost her conscience and scolds Harley for killing. Like a child, Harley claims it was a complete accident. Sure it was, Harley.

Harley pushes Joker into a vat of acid...twice

In the "Harley Quinn" animated series, Joker shows his disdain for Harley on countless occasions. In keeping with his psychopathic behavior from past iterations, he's a user who simply takes advantage of Harley when it suits him. When she gets in his way or cramps his style, he tosses her to the side. Toward the end of the first season, Joker plans to push her in the vat of acid that sent the criminal duo off the deep end to begin with, only this time, a second dip in the pool will allegedly erase the effects of her bleached skin and her memories as Harley Quinn.

Harley gets the better of the Joker and winds up casting him into the vat instead. This turns Joker back to "normal," sending him on an amusing multi-episode arc as a civilian bartender with a girlfriend who has children. Despite living a normal life, every so often he can be seen showing remnants of the Joker in his character. Several episodes later, Harley, in a twist of fate, must rescue the Justice League from a story book. In order to do so, she needs Joker's memories of the book. Since Joker is now a normie, he has lost most memories of his criminal past. To retrieve those memories, Harley realizes she must bring Joker back and begrudgingly pushes him into the vat once again.

Harley persuades Batgirl to save Poison Ivy from assassination

In the Bruce Timm universe of the classic "Batman: The Animated Series," Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl) landed her own series of comics, "The Batgirl Adventures." Right off the, erm, bat, Batgirl finds Harley roaming the city and stops her, sensing a sinister plot is afoot. Immediately, Harley explains that she was actually looking for Batman or a hero who can help. She claims that Poison Ivy is being held against her will. 

Obviously suspicious of the Joker acolyte, Batgirl treads carefully while investigating Harley's claims. Much to her surprise, Poison Ivy is actually being held by the Japanese assassin Kitsune; Harley was telling the truth. The assassin is attempting to pressure Poison Ivy into joining forces, though Ivy refuses. Because of her refusal, the assassin intends to kill Poison Ivy. Harley pleads with Batgirl to save Poison Ivy and even commits to surrendering to the police if Batgirl follows through. Batgirl begrudgingly agrees and Harley even assists her in the fight with Kitsune's baddies. Harley also honored her word, allowing Batgirl to take her into the GCPD following the event. Much to Batgirl's surprise, however, Harley was already paroled days prior. With no other outstanding warrants, she's able to go free.

Harley invites herself to a Bar Mitzvah

The wounds of a dashed romance are fresh in Harley's mind after her breakup with the Clown Prince of Crime. Like any healthy relationship built on murder and mayhem, the obvious course of action is to attempt to one-up the ex-lover — show them what they're missing, and do everything you can to not look desperate or less-than. That's Harley's play when she finds out the Joker is going to an event at the Gotham Mint. She asks Poison Ivy to come. The two quickly find out that the event is a Bar Mitzvah for the Penguin's snot-nosed nephew, Joshua.

The moment allows for countless laughs at Harley's expense (as well as at Kite Man's attempt to peacock in front of Poison Ivy to gain her attention). Ultimately, the Joker laughs at the mix-up and claims Harley to be nothing without him. As he attempts to kill Harley, Poison Ivy forcefully shows him that he is sorely mistaken. He takes that as his cue to depart the festivities.

Harley bites the ear off a nurse who takes away her cartoons

Harley, like her fellow and former Arkham inmates, isn't exactly a class act. She's erratic and prone to bursts of violence and psychotic episodes. Much of Harley's personality is rooted in humor that is, for lack of a better word, child-like. She tends to only see in shades of black and white and can react much like an angry child lashing out in a tantrum if she doesn't like what she is hearing. Being on the receiving end of that tantrum typically means you're about to be physically maimed or killed.

In the world of the "Arkham" video games, WB released an animated feature film entitled "Batman: Assault on Arkham." The film spotlights the exploits of the Suicide Squad. During Harley's intro, she is seen in a halfway home for women watching "Bugs Bunny" on her smartphone. A supervising nurse disapprovingly confiscates her phone. The nurse is then seen fleeing the room holding her face as the camera once again shows Harley enjoying her cartoons with a bloody ear hanging from her mouth. Eat your heart out, Mike Tyson.

Harley unleashes the phantom zone on Gotham

Brick by brick, Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment construct a dynamite, heartfelt Batman tale with Legos. While the Dark Knight isn't any stranger to the land of Lego, this was the first time he received a theatrical big-budget treatment in that arena. The film is chock-full of DC characters, lore, and Easter eggs, but at the center of it is Batman's unwillingness to open himself up to the world. The Joker spearheads this problem by pressuring the Caped Crusader to admit that the two actually enjoy one of the greatest hero-and-villain relationships in history.

In order to do this, Joker concocts a plan to remove crime-fighting from Batman's life by having all of Gotham's villains incarcerated. Harley Quinn, voiced by Jenny Slate, supports her partner in crime's vision. In a harrowing event, she demonstrates her drive and capacity for villainy when she frees her puddin' from the captivity of the phantom zone while simultaneously releasing several other villains from various Warner Bro. properties, like Lord Voldemort and the Gremlins. That single event wreaked havoc on the public and threatened the end for all in Lego Gotham City.

Harley tries to be normal after being released from Arkham

In the TV series of her origin, Harley finds herself living out a sentence in Arkham Asylum during one fateful episode, "Harley's Holiday." She is approached by the asylum doctor, who informs her that he is now comfortable declaring her sane and is allowing her to head back out into the civilized world. On her way out of the Asylum, she spots Batman and Robin taking in the Scarecrow after a recent criminal caper. She shakes hands with the Dark Knight as he congratulates her on her rehabilitation, but he glares at her long enough for her to get the not-so-subtle message to stay out of trouble.

Harley's attempts to live a normal life aren't exactly normal. While casually walking her pet hyenas, Harley still manages to turn the heads of civilians in fear. Go figure. Eventually, she runs into Bruce Wayne and a woman by the name of Veronica Vreeland. Veronica had previously been assaulted by Harley and is anxious. Harley tries to quell any fears by proudly showing everyone her "sanity" certificate, like a young child who just completed an art project. Later, while shopping, she buys a dress, but the alarms ring out because no one removed the security tag. Harley panics and attacks the security guard. One thing leads to another, and she winds up going full Harley by kidnapping Veronica. Ultimately, her fears about returning to Arkham prove to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, and she lands back in Arkham. The life of a normie is simply too boring.

Harley rescues herself

James Gunn's "The Suicide Squad" aimed to semi-reboot the DCEU's version of the doomed team of villainous operatives. While the narrative didn't fully reset the events of David Ayer's "Suicide Squad," it attempted to rebrand the characters with a stylish, comedic film that earned a hard "R" rating, and rightfully so. The film contains graphic violence, nudity, and language that the narrative exploits to full effect. We are talking about a team of misfit criminals after all.  

In the first two acts of the film, Harley goes from the lone survivor of her team (with the exception of Rick Flagg, who was captured by rebels) to the potential First Lady of Corto Maltese when the dictator Silvio Luna proposes to her. However, Harley soon shoots her would-be better half for his willingness to kill families, children included, in order to secure power. After the assassination, Harley is jailed and tortured. 

Meanwhile, Rick Flagg leads the team in Operation Free Harley. He underestimated her willpower, however. Harley waits for the opportune moment to strike with her unchained legs before murdering everyone in her path on her way out of the building. As Rick Flagg and his team attempt to sneak into the building, Harley spots them and explains that she just casually escaped. Ever polite, she offers to go back in to allow the team to rescue her if it pleases them.  

Harley falls in love with an egg sandwich

Following her first outing with the Suicide Squad, Harley strikes it out on her own, having freshly broken up with the Joker. Her recent break-up quickly becomes talk of the criminal underworld, presenting her with several problems, the most notable of which is Black Mask's desire to kill her. Despite Harley's world crumbling around her, she maintains her typical perky, no-holds-barred attitude while feasting on her favorite meal: egg sandwiches. Made by her favorite cook, Sal, at a local eatery, these breakfast delights are the highlight of Harley's day.

The film comically presents her fascination with egg sandwiches as a forbidden love affair. After announcing to the world that she broke up with Mr. J by blowing up Ace Chemicals, Harley celebrates with her favorite sandwich. The police and criminals she has wronged give chase before she can even take her first bite. After feeling like she's shaken loose her hostile pursuers, she tries to take another bite, only to find another vindictive thug ready to pounce. She frantically whispers to the sandwich, "We're gonna get through this, okay?" before she gets tackled. The snack sails through the air and hits the ground in slow motion as Harley crumbles over its demise. 

Harley renames Green Arrow's lair

In 2013, Netherrealm studios developed the fighting video game "Injustice: Gods Among Us" in the same vein as Mortal Kombat, minus the buckets of blood and gore. In the game, heroes are pitted against Superman, who has ruled the world with a totalitarian iron fist since the Joker tricked him into murdering Lois. Superman also brutally murders the Joker. In the comic book adaptation, Harley, being the Joker's accomplice, goes into hiding in fear of meeting the same grisly fate.

Oliver Queen apprehends Harley and brings her to his "Arrow Cave." She expresses how dull and pointless that name is for a hidden lair. She explains that the bat cave makes sense given that bats actually live in caves. She then gives Ollie, perhaps, the best name he could possibly assume for his secret lair: the Quiver. At first irritated with Harley, Ollie quickly realizes that it's actually a great idea. The Green Arrow implements the name when referencing his lair later in the story.

Harley captures Batman

Batman launched an unforgettable career in the video game medium with Rocksteady's first title featuring the superhero in 2009, "Batman: Arkham Asylum." The game and its successors proved that licensed properties can make great video games when developed with care and passion for the subject matter. In the sequel, "Batman: Arkham City," Joker meets his demise thanks to the instability of the Titan formula. Harley Quinn, of course, believes Batman robbed her of her puddin'. While the hero would never kill, she illogically puts the blame squarely on the Dark Knight's shoulders.

In an expansion to the primary game, "Harley Quinn's Revenge," players assume the role of Robin, who is searching for Batman after he went missing while hunting down Harley Quinn. After finding her new hideout, Robin learns that Harley has, in fact, captured the Dark Knight. Humorously, however, she's taken the route of her late boyfriend: Instead of killing Batman outright, she toys with him for her own sadistic pleasure. His prison is running out of oxygen and it's up to Robin to obtain the key from Harley and her goons and free Batman from an untimely demise. Despite the story ending on a positive note for the heroes, Harley's ability to actually get the better of Batman goes unnoticed and underappreciated in the pantheon of DC fandom.

Harley blows up Ace Chemicals

It's well-known in DC fandom circles that Harley Quinn is just as volatile as her insane boyfriend, the Joker. With that volatility comes explosive expressions of love, hatred, or simple vindication. In "Birds of Prey," the Joker has taken the backseat to the narrative as the majority of the film centers around Harley Quinn. In fact, it's all in the awkward, wordy full film title: "Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)." The Joker and Harley have called it quits. And let's be honest, Joker likely wasn't the best psychotic boyfriend that even an equally insane girl could ask for.

So, Harley does what she does best: seal the break-up with a bang the entire city of Gotham can hear. She does so by driving (and ditching) a fuel truck as it careens into Ace Chemicals, the symbolic beginning of the Joker's and Harley's insane relationship. This is where the vats of the chemical concoction are located that bleached the couple's skin and turned them into unhinged amoral (or semi-amoral, in Harley's case) criminals. A thorough baptism in the stuff caused the couple to be reborn as criminal royalty in the seedy underbelly of Gotham City. Blowing the place sky-high was the only way Harley felt like she could enjoy closure from the messy split. And boy, did it cause a lot of trouble.

Harley beats Joker's Daughter and kicks her into oncoming traffic

After Harley Quinn joined the Suicide Squad at the onset of the New 52 DC comics line-up relaunch, other members of the ragtag crew would come and go at Amanda Waller's discretion. One such individual was known by the alias of "Joker's Daughter." Her real name was Duela Dent. Yes, that means biologically she is, in fact, Harvey Dent's (Two-Face) daughter. She is delusional and mentally unstable. In the past, she claimed to be the daughter of many of Gotham's different villains. Joker was simply another drop in the bucket. After obtaining the Joker's severed face in the sewers of Gotham, she began to wear the face and claimed to be his daughter.

Eventually, she finds herself among the Suicide Squad thanks to Amanda Waller. For obvious reasons, Harley does not care for her and vehemently opposes her addition to the team. Eventually, Duela taunts Harley, claiming to be a more perfect acolyte of the Joker. Bitterly, Harley fights Duela, which ends in the "Joker's daughter" being savagely beaten and then kicked out into oncoming traffic. Of course, this is a comic book, so she survives...barely. But once again, Harley demonstrated her volatility and susceptibility to over-the-top reactions.