The Most Terrible Things The Joker Has Ever Done

The Joker is Batman’s greatest villain and
one of the best bad guys in comic book history. He’s willing to anything, no matter how psychotic,
to convince Batman that morality and order are just a fantasy. Here are the most terrible things he’s done
to make that point. Of all the atrocities he’s ever committed,
the Joker is probably best known for paralyzing Barbara Gordon. The grisly act occurs in Alan Moore and Brian
Bolland’s infamous graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke. In an effort to prove that everyone is only
one bad day away from being just like him, the Joker does his best and worst to drive
the Dark Knight’s most trusted ally, Commissioner Jim Gordon, to becoming a blubbering heap
of his former self. So how does he plan on destroying Batman’s
best friend? He simply knocks on Barbara Gordon’s door,
and when the commissioner’s daughter says hello, the Joker shoots her. The bullet shatters her spine, leaving her
paralyzed from the waist down, and, while the Joker didn’t know it at the time, putting
an end to her crime-fighting career as Batgirl. Then, adding insult to injury, the Joker takes
photos of his truly horrific violation, projecting them onto screens and forcing the Commissioner
to look at them while he puts him through a carnival funhouse that’s been twisted into
a psychological torture chamber. The story is both hugely controversial and
genuinely disturbing, and is still considered to be the worst thing he’s ever done over
30 years after it was first published. In the aftermath of The Killing Joke, it’s
easy to think that the Gordon family had suffered enough. In December of 1999, however, the Joker decided
to take another brutal shot at his least-favorite law enforcing family. This time, the target was Sarah Essen-Gordon,
who went from being Jim Gordon’s partner on the police force to the commissioner’s second
wife. Despite Gordon’s dedication to keeping the
peace in America’s most crime-ridden city, he and Sarah are happy together even through
the worst of times… until the Clown Prince of Crime shows up. “…Wait’ll they get a load of me.” In the finale of the epic, year-long Batman
storyline No Man’s Land, in which Gotham City was devastated by an earthquake and left to
fend for itself with no support from outside, the Joker enacted one of his most terrifying
plans. He kidnapped every baby that had been born
in Gotham during the year that the city was isolated off the grid, holding them captive
in the basement of the Gotham Police Department. Sarah was the first to arrive on the scene,
but she stumbled straight into the madman’s trap. The Joker tosses a baby at Sarah, and as she
tries to catch the child, he shoots her in the head. With his work done, the Joker dropped his
weapon, walked outside and immediately surrendered to the police, defying Jim Gordon to ditch
his “by the book” moral code and shoot him and even Batman told Gordon that he wouldn’t
stop him if he wanted to take the shot. Instead, the Commissioner settled for unloading
his handgun into the Joker’s kneecap instead, prompting the villain to break out into laughter
at the fact that he might never walk again… just like Barbara. Once Dick Grayson grew up and graduated from
the role of Robin into being a hero on his own as Nightwing, the job of Batman’s sidekick
was taken over by Jason Todd. Unlike Grayson, however, Jason was portrayed
as an edgier character than his predecessor, whose rough upbringing in an orphanage had
left him prone to crossing lines that Batman never would. That came to a head in A Death in the Family,
a storyline where Jason ditched the Dark Knight and went looking for his long-lost mother. Unfortunately for Jason, he found the Joker,
who delighted in beating the Boy Wonder’s head in with a crowbar and then blowing up
the body for good measure. It was the most brutal thing he’d ever done
in comics up to that point, and the loss of Robin haunted Batman for years to come. You can’t blame this one entirely on the Joker,
though. Death in the Family had a gimmick, allowing
fans to call in and vote on whether Jason would live or die. When the votes were tallied, it came out to
5,271 voting for Robin to live… and 5,343 calling for his death. With a margin of just 72 votes, Jason was
toast, and the Joker racked up his most famous kill. Everyone remembers A Death in the Family for
the scene when the Joker beats Robin to death with a crowbar, and for good reason. Still, it’s kind of weird that nobody really
talks about how the first part of that story is all about the Clown Prince of Crime selling
nuclear weapons to terrorists because his previous heists hadn’t gone according to plan. “Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” Obviously, this had less of an impact on the
comics as the whole “killing Batman’s sidekick” thing, but come on, We all have to agree that
arms deals with terrorists are pretty bad in general, right? Even stranger, it only happened because he
was in desperate need of cash. Since he had a spare cruise missile complete
with a nuclear warhead laying around, he decided to use it for a quick buck. Fortunately, the terrorists never got to nuke
Tel Aviv as planned, although Batman didn’t stop them. It turns out that the Joker isn’t that great
at nuclear engineering, and after taking the missile apart to smuggle it into the Middle
East, he didn’t put it back together correctly. It ended up exploding in the truck when they
tried to launch it, without detonating the nuclear warhead. While it doesn’t get the press of some other
well-known Joker stories, “Soft Targets” is one of the absolute best, and features a truly
sinister plot. It originally ran in 2003 in the pages of
Gotham Central, a book that focused on the Gotham City Police Department and the way
ordinary people tried to deal with being cops in a city dominated by superheroes and villains. It showed a grittier side of Gotham without
sacrificing the idea of a world full of super-powers, and became a fan favorite thanks to its relatable
characters and their very realistic reactions. As you might expect, when the Joker showed
up, those reactions basically amounted to sheer terror. It started off with a literal bang. A sniper took out Gotham City’s mayor with
a headshot, sparking a series of apparently random killings that terrorized the city in
the weeks before Christmas, even live-streaming a countdown of his potential targets. Eventually, the police discovered it was the
Batman’s arch-nemesis pulling the trigger, but things took a strange turn — even by
Gotham City standards — when the Joker walked up to the police station three days before
Christmas and allowed himself to be arrested. Then came the twist. It turned out that the whole thing — the
assassination of the mayor, the random killings, the live-streamed sniper attacks — was just
the setup for an even deadlier punchline. With the Joker in custody, the people who
had been scared off the streets by the sniper attacks scrambled to get their holiday shopping
done, which is exactly what the Joker wanted. He’d set bombs in the stockroom of the city’s
biggest toy store with plans of explosively ruining Christmas for Gotham’s kids. Fortunately, the GCPD evacuated the civilians,
but when the Joker broke free of the interrogation room, he managed to rack up a few more gleeful
kills before he was stopped. The animated series Batman Beyond was set
decades in the future, after Bruce Wayne retired and eventually handed the Batman identity
down to cool young future teen Terry McGinnis. With a few exceptions, Terry’s adventures
avoided using established Batman villains, instead giving him his own roster of foes
that seemed inspired by Spider-Man’s classic rogues gallery. That makes sense, though, since Terry himself
felt like the answer to the question “what if Peter Parker became Batman instead?” When the Joker came back, though, he came
back hard, and brought two incredibly disturbing reveals with him. The first was that before dying, the Joker
had implanted his own consciousness into the second Robin, Tim Drake, so that he could
take over his body and re-emerge years later to continue terrorizing Gotham after death. The other, more disturbing, reveal was how
he pulled it off. Thirty-five years earlier, he and Harley Quinn
had kidnapped Tim, holding him for weeks before Batman tracked them down. The Joker and Harley spent that time torturing
Robin, breaking him mentally and transforming him physically into “Joker Junior,” complete
with the chalk-white skin and permanently fixed grin. “You’ve lost Batman. Robin is mine. The last sound you hear will be our laughter.” When the Joker showed off his handiwork to
Batman and tried to force his new “son” to kill the hero, Tim managed to break free just
long enough to shoot the Joker instead, killing him. The image of Tim’s maniacal laughter turning
to sobs, with tears streaming down his disfigured face, is probably the most disturbing thing
to ever hit DC’s animated properties. So much so, in fact, that the scene was heavily
edited for its original release, giving the Joker a very different death scene and eliminating
the more explicit references to torture. The uncut version has been available since
2003, however, just in case you want to see how dark those cartoons can get. When DC relaunched their line in 2011 as the
“New 52,” the first thing the Joker did was arrange to have his own face cut off by a
villain called the Dollmaker so that he could leave it hanging in his cell at Arkham when
he escaped. That might be the single weirdest thing he’s
ever done, but it wasn’t the worst. When he returned a few years later to cut
everyone else’s face off, though, that definitely made the list. At the climax of the Death Of the Family story
arc not to be confused with Death In the Family Batman was put through a gauntlet of villains
as he made his way through Arkham. In the end, he was overwhelmed and captured,
waking up at a long dinner table to find the Joker waiting for him. Of course, the Dark Knight isn’t the only
guest at this particular party. The Joker had also “invited” Batgirl, along
with the current and former Robins, tied up with their faces heavily bandaged. In front of each victim, there’s a serving
platter covered with a sterling silver dome. Then, in a ghoulish twist, out comes Alfred
with a grin stretched from ear to ear, no doubt caused by the Joker’s infamous toxin. When Alfred then lifts the domes from each
plate, the Batman Family members finally see the evening’s gruesome meal: their own faces,
looking back at them. Thankfully, after Batman escapes his confinement,
he unwraps the bandages from his family and realizes it’s all been one sick joke. Everyone’s faces are fine. The Joker just wanted to have a little sadistic
fun. It does leave us with the question, though:
if those weren’t the Batman Family’s faces, whose were they? While he’s usually found in and around Gotham
City, the Joker occasionally shows up in some pretty unexpected places. The nine-part Emperor Joker storyline, for
example, happened in the Superman comics, and involved one of the most terrifying premises
any comic book reader could imagine. In that story, Superman’s old foe Mister Mxyzptlk,
the magical, fifth-dimensional imp who uses his reality warping powers to mess with Superman
every few months, decides to see what would happen if he handed off those powers to another
trickster. To find out, he gives the Joker just one percent
of his magic. That would be bad enough, but the Joker manages
to trick Mxyzptlk into giving him the other 99% to go along with it. With these incredible powers, he entertains
himself by remaking the world in his own twisted image. As you might expect, he spends a lot of time
on Batman, torturing the Dark Knight to death every night and then resurrecting him every
morning to do it again, which traumatizes Batman to the point where Superman erases
his memories to keep him sane His most disturbing act, though? Eating the entire population of China. Yes, really. He eats every single person in China, and
in true Joker style, he uses a pair of chopsticks. There’s a sick sense of humor, and then there’s
absolute depravity. If you ever want to see the Joker at his scariest,
do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of The Batman Adventures #3 from 1992, because
there’s a sequence in that issue that’s still terrifying all these years later. As he so frequently does, the Joker takes
over Gotham City’s airwaves with his own broadcast. His guest is Jim Gordon, kidnapped and tied
up in front of the cameras while the Joker offers up a monologue that a full 16 years
before The Dark Knight is devoted to the idea that law and order are false ideas, and that
the only thing that truly exists is “random destructive chaos.” “Upset the established order and everything
becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos.” To illustrate his point, he punctuates his
speech by picking up a baseball bat and breaking Gordon’s arms while the horrified citizens
of Gotham, and Batman, watch. It’s pretty grim stuff, but here’s the best
and worst part: The Batman Adventures was the tie-in book set in the universe of Batman:
The Animated Series, and as mature and forward-thinking as that show was, it was still a cartoon for
children. This was a comic aimed at younger readers
that featured the Joker announcing that in a world that was just, he wouldn’t be able
to just pick up a bat and start beating on a beloved heroic police commissioner, and
then proved himself correct by doing just that. That’s a weird thing to learn when you’re
still trying to get a handle on subtraction. Since being introduced on Batman: The Animated
Series, Harley Quinn has made the leap to comics, movies, and more to become one of
DC’s most popular characters. A big part of that popularity comes down to
the idea that for a villain, she’s always been incredibly sympathetic. She’s a participant in the Joker’s madness
and mayhem, but ultimately, he’s the one pulling the strings, manipulating and abusing her
into going along with it. Considering all that he’s done to her over
the years, it’s easy to argue that their entire relationship be counted as a whole among the
worst things the Joker has ever done, but there’s a singular example in the pages of
Mad Love, the graphic novel that gave us Harley’s origin. When she takes it upon herself to capture
Batman and “improve” one of his discarded deathtrap jokes, the Joker flies into a rage. He backhands her while ranting about how she
doesn’t get the joke, then knocks her through a window to a five-story fall. She survives, of course, but only through
chance, and only to find herself going back to him in the end. The story was adapted for Batman: The Animated
Series in 1999, but it would be another decade before readers would get to see Harley breaking
away from the Joker on the page and the screen. The Joker has been undeniably successful in
the world of thematic villainy, and pretty much anything he’s done for the past couple
decades has been more like gilding an increasingly deadly lily. He’s already Batman’s arch-nemesis, he’s already
the deadliest and most feared criminal in DC’s considerable roster of bad guys, and
if you think of villainy as being like a sport, then there’s really nothing else to do. As a result, you might think that if and when
the Joker finally died, he’d be able to look back on his life, tally up the final body
count, and be satisfied that his work was finally done. You would be wrong. Not only has the Joker managed to ensure that
his reign of terror will continue past his own death, he’s done it in a truly bizarre
way: he booby-trapped his own heart. According to Batman himself, the Joker somehow
laced his cardiovascular system with “a singular super-toxin” that will be released at the
moment of his death, turning whoever finally gives in and kills him his preference, of
course, being Batman into an all-new, all-deadly Joker. He even once shot himself to dose Batman,
but fortunately, the Dark Knight managed to hold off the transformation long enough to
work up a cure. That is some buck wild comic book science
and some pretty advanced biochemistry for a dude whose major interests include purple
suits and mayhem but it’s also a pretty scary tactic. Not only will he be inflicting his own madness
on someone else, but he’ll be ensuring that it continues indefinitely, ruining countless
more lives at the cost of his own. Of course, that only happens if he dies, but
you know things have gotten pretty bad when the Joker staying alive to keep on doing what
he does is actually the best option. The Joker’s most heinous crime might not be
any of the ones that have happened in the comics, or even the movies. Instead, it’s part of the backstory of a video
game. In 2013, the Joker showed up in Injustice:
Gods Among Us, a fighting game created by NetherRealm Studios, the developers of Mortal
Kombat. Perhaps surprisingly, this video game has
a backstory that was compelling enough to be the source material for a comic that ran
for a full five years. To justify the setup of a world where the
superheroes were slugging it out to the death, the game took place in an alternate universe
where the Joker pushed Superman well beyond the breaking point. First, he steals a nuclear submarine, then
he somehow manages to poison the Man of Steel with Scarecrow’s fear toxin. The poison clouds Superman’s mind and makes
him think he’s fighting Doomsday, the unstoppable monster that once nearly killed him. In reality, he was really unleashing his entire
strength on a target that the Joker chose for him instead: Lois Lane. Even worse, she was pregnant with Superman’s
child. As Lois dies, the launch of a nuclear missile
wipes Metropolis off the map, leaving Superman’s entire life devastated. “First Krypton now Metropolis. People you love tend to blow up, don’t they?” As a result, Superman snaps, shoving his fist
through the Joker’s chest. Of all the stories where Superman goes bad,
and there are plenty of them, Injustice goes to the darkest place that the Man of Steel
had ever been. It gave us a world where the Joker won, proving
that anybody, even Superman, is capable of breaking their own rules if pushed far enough. Check out one of our newest videos right here! Plus, even more Looper videos about your favorite
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