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Harley Quinn (Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel) is a fictional character appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. The character was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, and first appeared in Batman: The Animated Series in September 1992, voiced by actress Arleen Sorkin. She later appeared in DC Comics's Batman comic books, with the character's first comic book appearance in The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993). In her depictions she has been portrayed as a psychologist. In the 2002 television series Birds of Prey, Harley Quinn was played by actress Mia Sara. Harley Quinn made her first feature film live-action appearance in the DCEU live-action 2016 film Suicide Squad, in which she is portrayed by actress Margot Robbie. Robbie will return to play the character in the 2020 film Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn). Quinn is also set to appear in her own upcoming animated series Harley Quinn in November 2019 as part of the DC Universe streaming service, voiced by Kaley Cuoco.
Harley Quinn is a frequent accomplice and lover of the Joker, whom she met while working as an intern psychologist at Gotham City's Arkham Asylum, where the Joker was a patient. Her name is a play on the name "Harlequin", a character which originated in commedia dell'arte. The character has teamed up with fellow villains the Catwoman and Poison Ivy several times, the trio being known as the Gotham City Sirens. Poison Ivy is known to be a close friend and recurring ally of Harley, even being depicted as her girlfriend in recent comics. Since The New 52, she is now depicted as an antihero and has left her past as a supervillain behind. However, she is still depicted as a supervillain in other media. Harley Quinn has also been depicted as a member of the Suicide Squad.
Harley Quinn first appeared in the DC Animated Universe's Batman: The Animated Series episode "Joker's Favor", in what was originally supposed to be the animated equivalent of a walk-on role; a number of police officers were to be taken hostage by someone jumping out of a cake, and it was decided that to have the Joker do so himself would be too bizarre, although he ended up doing it anyway. Thus they created a female sidekick for the Joker; she would become his love interest. Arleen Sorkin, a former star of the soap opera Days of Our Lives, appeared in a dream sequence on that series in which she wore a jester costume; They used this scene as an inspiration for Quinn. Having been friends with Sorkin since college, he incorporated aspects of her personality into the character and even got Sorkin herself to voice the character. Quinn was also inspired by a mutual female friend's "stormy but nonviolent relationship", according to Timm.
The 1994 graphic novel The Batman Adventures: Mad Love recounts the character's origin story. Written and drawn by Dini and Timm, the comic book is told in the style and continuity of Batman: The Animated Series. It describes Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, PhD as an Arkham Asylum psychologist who falls in love with the Joker and becomes his accomplice and on-again, off-again girlfriend. The story received wide praise and won the Eisner and Harvey Awards for Best Single Issue Comic of the Year. The New Batman Adventures series adapted Mad Love as an episode of the same name in 1999. It was the second "animated style" comic book adapted for the series, with the other being "Holiday Knights".
After Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, Harley makes several other animated appearances. She appears as one of the four main female characters of the web cartoon Gotham Girls. She also made guest appearances in other cartoons within the DC animated universe, appearing alongside the Joker in the Justice League episode "Wild Cards" and alongside Poison Ivy in the Static Shock episode "Hard as Nails".
Harley Quinn appears in World's Finest: The Batman/Superman Movie (a compilation movie consisting of three-part Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest") as a rival and foil for Lex Luthor's assistant Mercy Graves; each takes an immediate dislike for the other, at one point fighting brutally with each other as Lex Luthor and the Joker have a business meeting. In the film's climax, Harley ties Graves as a human shield to a combat robot set to confront Superman and Batman, but Graves is rescued by the two heroes without suffering any harm.
The animated movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker takes place in the future, long after the events in Batman: The Animated Series. It includes a flashback scene in which Harley helps the Joker torture Tim Drake until he has become "Joker Jr.", an insane miniature version of the Clown Prince of Crime; she then falls down a deep pit during a battle with Batgirl. At the end of the movie, a pair of twin girls who model themselves on the Joker are released on bail to their grandmother, who angrily berates them — to which they answer: "Oh, shut up, Nana Harley!". Prior to this, her costume made several appearances in episodes in the future Batcave.
In other media
Harley Quinn has been adapted into various other forms of media. The character has appeared in both live-action and animated television series, films and video games. The character was originally voiced by Arleen Sorkin in the DC animated universe. Since then, she has also been voiced by Hynden Walch and Tara Strong in either DC Animated Showcases or in various video games. In the Birds of Prey television series, she was portrayed by actress Mia Sara. In the Fox series Gotham a character known as Ecco, portrayed by Francesca Root-Dodson and bearing all the characteristics of Harley Quinn, was introduced in the fourth season. The character made her live-action feature film debut in the 2016 film Suicide Squad, portrayed by Margot Robbie.
Harley Quinn has been interpreted as having dependent personality disorder, as well as showing typically villainous antisocial behavior. Kate Roddy describes Harley Quinn as an "ambitious career woman who gives up her autonomy to become an abused sidekick" and discusses fan responses to the character.
Chris Sims describes the approach of Batman: The Animated Series as showing "a version of the character who is having adventures right now" and regards that choice as being a key part of Harley Quinn's production. Chris Sims describes her as the Joker's Robin.
Harley Quinn has become one of DC Comics' most popular characters. The 2016 relaunch of her comic shipped more copies than any other DC Rebirth title and was one of the best-selling comics of the year. DC Comics co-publisher Jim Lee refers to Harley Quinn as the fourth pillar in their publishing line, behind Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Harley Quinn currently stars in four separate ongoing series — three eponymous titles and Suicide Squad. Only Batman and Superman have comparable numbers of monthly appearances, making Harley DC Comics' most prominent and profitable female character. Kevin Kiniry, vice-president of DC Collectibles, says Harley Quinn is always a top-seller and that she "can go toe-to-toe with Batman and the Joker as one of the most fan-requested and sought-after characters." In 2016, Harley Quinn's Halloween costume ranked as the most popular costume in both the United States and the United Kingdom and it remains a popular subject for cosplay. To celebrate the character, DC Comics declared the month of February to be Harley Quinn Month and published 22 Harley Quinn variant covers across their line of comic books. IGN's 2009 list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains of All Time ranked Harley Quinn as #45. She was ranked 16th in Comics Buyer's Guide's 2011 "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.
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