Top 10 Darkest Joker Moments

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Top 10 Darkest Joker Moments

VOICE OVER: Callum Janes WRITTEN BY: Cassondra Feltus
The Joker is responsible for some of the darkest moments in comics history. For this list, we'll be looking at the Clown Prince of Crime's most shocking and twisted storylines. Our countdown includes paralyzing Barbara Gordon, cutting his own face off, severely mistreating Harley Quinn, and more!
Transcript
The Joker is responsible for some of the darkest moments in comics history. For this list, we’ll be looking at the Clown Prince of Crime’s most shocking and twisted storylines. Our countdown includes paralyzing Barbara Gordon, cutting his own face off, severely mistreating Harley Quinn, and more! What Joker moment makes your skin crawl? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Severely Mistreating Harley Quinn

Various

Harley Quinn left behind her days as a psychiatrist after she fell in love with the Joker, joining him in a life of crime. But the love was always one-sided. Joker regularly took advantage of her utter devotion, using her as bait, or a distraction, in his elaborate schemes and violently discarding her when he doesn’t want (or need) her around. Sadly, Harley always finds herself coming back to the psychotic clown. Joker has a way of cracking open someone’s mind and remaking them in his insane image, like when he kidnapped and tortured Tim Drake until he lost all sanity and became Joker Junior. And while his lovestruck sidekick is usually by his side during these evil deeds, she’s also one of his victims.

#9: Poisoning All of Gotham’s Cosmetic Products

“Batman” (1989)

Terrorizing Gotham City is one of Joker’s favorite pastimes. In Tim Burton’s “Batman,” Joker poisons the city’s beauty supplies with a chemical he calls “Smylex.” Those who use the products laugh hysterically until they die. And their corpses are left with a Joker-like rictus smile on their face. During a news broadcast, the “homicidal artist” takes over the airwaves with a creepy commercial, announcing to Gothamites that using cosmetics will likely kill them. Though its effects aren’t always deadly, the Joker’s laughing gas/toxin (sometimes called “Joker Venom”) is one the clown’s signature weapons dating back to his first appearance in “Batman” #1. But it’s seeing people laugh themselves to death on screen that is truly terrifying and painful to watch.

#8: Kidnapping a Batman Impersonator

“The Dark Knight” (2008)

Heath Ledger is widely regarded as the best Joker, but more importantly, he’s the scariest. The villain has a knack for interrupting news broadcasts. But in “The Dark Knight,” his hostage footage of a Batman impersonator is significantly more terrifying than the character’s other gonzo “submissions.” The shakiness of the camera is fittingly chaotic for the clown (credit to Ledger who shot the scenes himself). It’s unsettling enough that Joker pets his captive, but when he yells at him, it comes out like a deep, demonic growl. He closes out the video with casual homicidal threats and his trademark maniacal laughter. With the constant change in voice, and completely unpredictable actions, Joker shows Gotham City just how psychotic he can really be.

#7: Killing His Mother

“Joker” (2019)

All his life, Arthur believed that Penny Fleck was his mother. And when he finds a letter from her to Thomas Wayne, she confesses that he is the father. After a confrontation with Thomas, Arthur steals his mother’s file from Arkham, where she was kept for a period of time. He learns that he was adopted by Penny, a delusional narcissist who stood by while he was severely mistreated by a violent boyfriend. Feeling betrayed by the one person he thought loved him, Arthur reaches his breaking point. At the hospital, he suffocates her with a pillow as she struggles. It’s a chilling moment that marks his descent into madness.

#6: Making Batman Lose Control

“Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2” (2013)

Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” finds an older Batman and the Joker in a final battle at an amusement park. Joker carelessly shoots his way through the Tunnel of Love, ruthlessly killing couples in boats. His glee while taking lives is disturbing, and naturally, the Joker finds it all hilarious. After decades of mayhem and countless deaths at the clown’s hands, Batman goes farther with the Joker than he ever has, twisting his neck. Joker relishes that he won, finally making Batman almost break his most important rule. And though he’s paralyzed, Joker isn’t satisfied with that ending. So, he snaps his own neck, and goes out laughing.

#5: Cutting His Face Off

“Detective Comics Vol 2” #1 (2011)

Joker has inflicted plenty of pain onto others, but this time, he’s on the receiving end (though he seemed to enjoy it). He purposely gets himself thrown into Arkham Asylum where he willingly has his face removed by Dollmaker. And in true Joker fashion, he makes sure to draw the most attention by nailing his face to the wall for everyone, especially Batman, to find. This turns out to be part of his sadistic plan to get rid of the Bat-family. He just wants Batsy all to himself again, like the good old days, you know? He kidnaps the whole family, including Alfred. When Batman finds them, their faces are bloodied and wrapped in bandages. But this turns out to be another sick joke.

#4: Live With Murray Franklin

“Joker” (2019)

As an aspiring comedian, Arthur Fleck wanted nothing more than to be on the Murray Franklin show. But when it finally happened, the circumstances weren’t ideal. Murray showed the audience a video of Arthur bombing on stage at a comedy club. The host proceeded to make fun of him, calling him “a joker” and getting the audience to laugh along. By the time Arthur is invited onto the show, he’s already transformed into the Joker. After an interview gone wrong, he shoots Murray point blank on live TV. This isn’t the first time Joker’s shocked live audiences with his deadly punchlines. Maybe stop letting the Joker onto live talk shows?

#3: Breaking the Man of Steel

“Injustice: Gods Among Us” #4 (2013)

In this tie-in to the popular game “Injustice: Gods Among Us”, Joker uses a fear toxin-kryptonite combo to trick Superman into thinking Lois Lane is Doomsday. Once in space, he’s able to see that he’s actually been fighting Lois and ultimately killing his pregnant lover. But that’s not all! Joker attached a nuclear device to detonate once Lois’ heart stopped, completely destroying Metropolis. With his family and city gone, Superman snaps, killing Joker via a punch right through his chest. Superman’s pure rage leads him to enslave the entire world under his tyrannical rule. The Joker may be dead in this alternate world, but his maniacal deeds leave a lasting impression.

#2: Paralyzing Barbara Gordon

“Batman: The Killing Joke” (2016)

Alan Moore’s “The Killing Joke” is one the darkest Joker stories ever told. He reaches a level of depravity that’s shocking even for a homicidal maniac. When Joker shows up to Barbara Gordon’s (aka Batgirl’s) home, he shoots her before she can even react, effectively paralyzing her from the waist down. But the twisted clown continues his assault by taking photos of a wounded Barbara lying on the floor. He later tortures Commissioner Jim Gordon with the horrifying images of his daughter, attempting to drive him insane. The Joker does all of this to prove that “just one bad day” can change someone forever.

#1: Killing Jason Todd

"Batman: A Death in the Family" (1988)

The Joker has built much of his villainous career off of Batman’s suffering, particularly by going after his adolescent sidekicks. In one of Batman’s darkest storylines, “A Death in the Family,” Joker viciously beats the second Robin (aka Jason Todd) with a crowbar within an inch of his life and leaves his unconscious body on the ground. But not before setting a bomb and blowing up the place. Batman arrives too late to save his ward and blames himself for Jason’s tragic death. Joker yet again proves that his evil knows no bounds. And it’s among the villain’s most brutal moments in history.
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