The Joker and Harley Quinn Are Not Relationship Goals

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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Comic Con cosplayers dressed as the Joker and Harley Quinn pose during 2017 New York Comic Con - Day 1 on October 5, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images)

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s October, and you know what that means. Halloween is right around the corner, and with it, come all sorts of crazy costumes! One popular costume concept for couples is the caped crusader’s greatest rival, The Joker and his girlfriend, Harley Quinn. And while there’s nothing wrong with this for Halloween, there’s a troubling misconception about the couple that needs to be silenced.

The Joker and Harley Quinn Are Not Relationship Goals

For many, the Joker and Harley Quinn are a fun couple. They’re comic book Bonnie and Clyde, and a great example of two cuckoo kids that are madly in love. If you google the duo, you’ll find dozens of examples of the criminal clowns cuddling it up. For anyone that has even sniffed a comic book featuring these two, you’ll know this is incredibly false.

Stockholm Syndrome

First and foremost, Harley Quinn doesn’t actually love the Joker. Shocking! I know, but when you consider that Harley is really just a walking, talking poster gal for Stockholm Syndrome, it’s hard to confuse the twisted dependence she has for Mistah Jay with someone as pure as love. Because if you don’t know better, it really is Stockholm Syndrome.

It’s worth remembering that besides being a lunatic, the Joker is absolutely brilliant. Batman is one of the smartest superheroes in all of comics, and Joker has been playing chess with him forever, often remaining a step ahead of the caped crusader. It was with his madness and brilliance that he was able to seduce young Harley while she was studying him at Arkham. Joker didn’t love Harley then, he just needed a way to escape. Joker used Harley to escape from Arkham on more than one occasion, and when she was eventually found out, she joined him.

But he didn’t care about her. He corrupted and manipulated her into thinking she loved him. There’s nothing cute, catchy, or remotely healthy about the dependence she has on him.

The Terrible, Terrible Things

Sure, people can cherry-pick moments where Joker shows his version of affection towards Harley, but there’s a much longer list of terrible, terrible things that he’s done to her. Other than all the times he left her for dead, the hundreds of times he beat her, and dozens of times he tried to kill her, including her very first comic book appearance, the Joker has done plenty of awful things to his sidekick.

The List

Let’s start with the silly stuff, like turning down her romantic and sexual advances. Remember that time she wanted him to “ride his harley” and “taste her pie” and then he shoved her off his desk and threw her to his dogs? What a guy. It’s okay though, because it is implied that the two have sex, but usually it’s unpleasant and completely for Joker’s pleasure.

There was also that time that she got pregnant (See? Implied sex), and scared of what the Joker would do, disappeared. Obviously, the Joker tore Gotham apart looking for the love of his life, right? Wrong! When she finally returned, he acted as if he didn’t even know she was gone, and you know what? He probably didn’t.

After cutting his own face off because, well, he’s like that, Joker thought it would be a decent test of loyalty to see if Harley would let him cut her face off. Harley protested, but her biggest question was whether he would still find her beautiful. Because that was her biggest problem with him cutting her face off. He didn’t, but he did reply with the sickly, “When did I ever say I found you beautiful?”. So recapping really quickly, he wanted to cut her face off, she’s so disturbed that she was more worried he would find her attractive, and then he said he didn’t find her attractive in the first place. Relationship goals?

And who could forget the time he chained her to the wall in a room full of corpses… wearing the Harley Quinn outfit, spouting off the lovely line that she wouldn’t even be the last. So it’s not even like she’s his favorite toy, just his favorite brand. You’re on board now, right? You don’t think these two are goals anymore, yes? Because if so, let me show you a much better abusive relationship.

Joker’s True Love

Despite what any dumpster fire movie starring the front-man of a garbage pop band will tell you (plenty of hot takes there), the Joker doesn’t have a queen. The Joker only knows love for one, and that one is Batman. Yup, the Joker doesn’t love your favorite cosplayer, he loves Batman. Not in a sexual or romantic way, but in a way where in one comic arch, the Joker seemingly kills Batman, and without him to terrorize, he becomes sane. The Joker only exists because the Batman does. He has no room for love or romance, and he certainly shares none with Harley Quinn.

In fact, it could be argued that the biggest reason the Joker keeps Harley around is because Batman has Catwoman. The clown prince needs a romantic interest of his own that he can be emotionally distant with. It’s actually pretty sad that behind all of the abuse and manipulation, Harley could mean little more than Joker trying to make the love of his life jealous.

The Last Word

The Joker and Harley Quinn are not Bonnie and Clyde, they’re Chris Brown and Rihanna. This relationship is a disturbing portrait of abuse and manipulation, and regardless of how badly he’s terrorized Gotham, Harley will always be the Joker’s biggest victim. This kind of behavior is not okay, and certainly isn’t anything you should look for in a potential significant other.

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