The Joker isn’t funny. He’s a sadist down to his very core. Yet somehow, his anarchic antics have become a fixture of the comics world. If you think about it, it’s almost incredible that someone so fantastically cruel could have earned such a legendary reputation and loyal fanbase. If he existed in any other comics universe, Marvel or otherwise, it’s unlikely he’d have grown into the massive cultural icon that he is today.
There’s only one reason he exists: Batman. The two are inseparable in nearly every way. Over the years, however, the Joker has always set the pace with their relationship. He is the perpetrator that allows Batman to be the savior. As such, the Dark Knight has routinely become the Joker’s victim in a number of maniacal ways. Though the Joker has punished countless characters, his actions against “Batsy” are the worst of all.
Here are The 15 Most WTF Things The Joker Did To Batman:
15. When He Had Zombie Clowns Drag Him to Hell
The madness of the Clown Prince of Crime reached new heights in Jeph Loeb’s Emperor Joker. However deranged the scheming freak may be, all of his crimes and misdemeanors pale in comparison to the time he stole 99% of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s powers and laid waste to the known world. Though he literally ate the entire country of China (after which he regretted not shouting, “Peking, DUCK!!”), repeatedly killed Lex Luthor, and turned Harley Quinn into a constellation, none of those atrocities can match his vile treatment of the Dark Knight.
As you might expect, the Joker focused his nearly illimitable powers on beating Batman to a pulp, killing him, then reviving him for another round of “fun.” Given his decades-long love/hate relationship with Batman, it’s not shocking that he would want to kill and resurrect him ad nauseum. It’s the creativity with which he kills the Dark Knight that’s truly disturbing. In one such instance, he employs a gang of Bozo-looking zombie clowns to hunt him down and drag him to his grave while shouting, “Batmaaaan! Batmaaan!” As terrifying as this may be, it looks positively pleasant compared to Batman’s other deaths in Emperor Joker (more on that later).
14. When He Made Him Watch Tim Drake’s Torture
“Our Family Memories.” In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, this is the title of the film reel in which a helpless Tim Drake is strapped to an operating table and tortured by the Joker. Yes, the green-haired freak recorded the persecution of Robin with a black and white Bolex camera. So ruthless were his methods that Tim Drake had his identity bifurcated, leaving Robin behind for a schizophrenic and pint-sized version of the Joker himself. Though the torture broke his spirit, it also drove Tim Drake to divulge Batman’s most valued secrets.
Always the consummate entertainer, the Joker hides out in a distant room as he plays the “Our Family Memories” video for his longtime arch nemesis. Batman is then forced to witness the destruction of Tim Drake without any way to intervene. Only when the Joker laughs at the scene does Batman find a way to attack. Though he beats the clown senseless, the Joker retaliates by slashing Batman’s stomach and stabbing him in the knee. While lying wounded on the ground, the Junior Jr. Tim Drake walks into frame like a laughing marionette. The Joker gives the boy a gun, and though he aims it at the Batman, he ultimately shoots and kills the clown.
13. When He Pretended to Skin the Bat-Family
Prepare yourself for one of the grisliest scenes in Batman comics history. In the finale of “Death of the Family,” the Joker has sat the Dark Knight’s closest allies around a dinner table in the Batcave. It’s the Last Supper from hell. Their heads are shrouded in hoods and their bodies are doused in gasoline. At the head of the table sits Batman, who is bound to a medieval-looking chair.
Enter Alfred, who the Joker has kidnapped and turned into a make-up caked zombie. With Batman looking on in horror, the wise old butler removes the hoods of the Bat Family, only to reveal that they all appear to have had their faces removed. Indeed, bloody bandages are wrapped around them and allow room only for their eyes to see. Down on the table, the platters of food are revealed to have the visages of Batgirl, Nightwing, and others, their faces severed to serve the main course of the Joker’s twisted dinner.
When Batman attempts to break free from his constraints, the Joker lights a match and sets the Bat Family ablaze. Knowing the Batcave like the back of his hand, the Dark Knight manages to flood the area and extinguish the flames. As his sidekicks’ bandages fall off, Batman breathes a sigh of relief when he finds that their faces are still intact.
12. When He Snapped His Own Neck To Frame Batman
The Joker is perversity personified. His disturbing obsession with Batman is entirely self-serving, unless he is presented with an opportunity to kill him in grand fashion. In Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Part 2, that moment finally comes. In a one-on-one duel with the Dark Knight, the Joker pulls out all the stops in an attempt to make Batman break his one rule. Though he’s already severely injured (yep, that’s a Batarang in his eye), the Joker gets a second wind and stabs Batman repeatedly in the gut. Enraged, Batman forgets his values and charges at the Joker, throwing haymakers that could break a rock. With witnesses on the scene, Batman loses control and breaks the Joker’s neck.
For a moment, both Batman and the Joker are speechless. Then, the laughter starts, and the Joker taunts the Caped Crusader to finish the job. Batman refuses. Paralyzed from the head down, the Joker realizes his opponent won’t offer the coup de grace, so he lets out another epic laugh and claims victory over the Dark Knight: “I win. I made you lose!” At peace with his life, the Joker then twists his own neck and kills himself in an instant, hoping his body will be incontrovertible evidence of Batman’s murder.
11. When He Paralyzed Batgirl
Whether you read it in the comics, watch it in the animated movie, or play it in Batman: Arkham Knight, the shooting of Barbara Gordon is deeply upsetting. Even Alan Moore has expressed a hint of regret at the callousness in The Killing Joke, which he has since described as “too nasty…too violent.” Though each version of the senseless shooting is shocking, its depiction in the source material is arguably the most twisted.
While enjoying a night at home with her father, Jim Gordon, the doorbell rings. Without hesitating, Barbara answers the door only to find the Joker in the entryway. Dressed in vacation garb and a safari hat, the Joker holds her at gunpoint for a single panel before blasting her in the stomach. The bullet shatters her spine and leaves her helpless on the ground. Though her father bears the brunt of this loss the most, Batman suffers immensely as well. Barbara is his protégé (and lover, in certain continuities), so when the Joker attacks her, he takes a swipe directly at the Dark Knight.
10. When He Blew Up Rachel Dawes
Though comics readers have long understood the depth of the Joker’s madness, The Dark Knight publicized his lunacy on the public stage. Christopher Nolan’s world-class thriller didn’t shy away from the Joker’s moral bankruptcy, empowering him with the tactics and tools needed to bring Gotham to its knees. To say he succeeded would be an understatement.
In addition to torturing innocent civilians, staging assassination attempts, and killing cops, the Joker attacked Bruce Wayne in the most vulnerable of places. The murder of Rachel Dawes didn’t just snuff out Batman’s source of hope in the world, it took away his childhood friend and romantic flame. To punctuate Batman’s loss, the Joker did more than let Rachel idly die. No, he sent the Caped Crusader on a wild goose chase to try and save her. When he inevitably failed and ended up rescuing a kidnapped Harvey Dent instead, Batman was then saddled with the responsibility of failing to protect his oldest friend. The fallout is devastating, and leads him to ask Alfred, “Did I bring this on her? I was meant to inspire good, not madness, not death.” With the death of Rachel, the Joker rattled Batman to his very core.
9. When He Made Batman Relive The Deaths of His Parents
The Joker knows exactly what will trigger the Batman. He understands that the deaths of his parents shaped his identity, a tragic event that has since become his reason for living. Though 2 + 2 = whatever the Joker wants, he’s sane enough to know that making Batman relive the deaths of his parents will likely break his spirit.
With his dastardly plan already devised, the Joker first sets about capturing the man responsible for killing Thomas and Martha Wayne in the first place: Joe Chill. While poisoning the rest of Gotham, the clown freak infects Chill with his toxic gas and makes him do his bidding. When Batman arrives on the scene, he finds Joe Chill holding an innocent family at gunpoint, the sight of which makes him go pale as he thinks, “Not again. Not again.” The PTSD is overwhelming, and Batman has visible flashbacks to the night his parents got gunned down. Before the murderer is able to repeat his sins, Chill is apprehended by Batman who saves the young boy, Duke, from certain doom.
8. When He Killed Jason Todd
Though he holds himself accountable for the loss of his parents, Bruce Wayne ultimately bore no responsibility in their deaths. He was only a child who should consider himself lucky to have been spared by Joe Chill’s bullets. In A Death in the Family, however, Batman most certainly has blood on his hands. When the Joker tortures the second Robin, Jason Todd, he does so in a distinctly medieval fashion. Armed with nothing but a crowbar, the Joker pummels him repeatedly and takes him to the brink of death. Through all of this abuse, Batman is nowhere to be found.
More disturbed by the “messy” nature of his beatdown, the Joker absconds from the warehouse in which he has left Robin, leaving only a timebomb in his wake. Though Batman attempted to save his sidekick, the blast claimed Jason Todd’s life and left his mentor in ruins. After the death of his former partner, Batman hung Robin’s costume in the Batcave as a reminder of his shortcomings.
7. When He Threw a Playing Card in Batman’s Eye
After the deranged dinner-table proceedings in Death of the Family, the eerie and faceless Joker abandons his playful attitude and sets his sights on straight up killing the Dark Knight. Deep in the underground recesses of Gotham, Batman and the Joker battle it out like gladiators in the coliseum. With acid burns scarring their faces, the two duke it out with fists, knives and yes, even weaponized playing cards.
The Joker uses his eponymous trump card as throwing stars, hurling them at Batman and lodging them into his chest, arms and eye socket. Though Batman is blinded in his left eye, he continues to fight as if he has 20/20 vision. They lay into each other with every ounce of their beings until they finally declare a truce. Having bled one another like pigs, they lay motionless at the bottom of the cave, waiting for the ceiling to collapse and end their bitter rivalry.
6. When He Seduced Vampire Batman To Bite Him
In Batman: Bloodstorm, the Dark Knight is a full-blown vampire. Though his duties to protect Gotham have hardly changed, he now suffers from an increased bloodlust and desire to feed on the ruddy nectar of his victims. To prevent this cannibalistic craving, however, Batman uses a blood substitute that keeps him relatively calm. In this alternate universe, Batman’s main sidekick is Selina Kyle, who becomes a werecat in the storyline and helps the Dark Knight keep his impulses under control.
Unfortunately, the Joker unleashes a crossbow bolt at Batman that accidentally clips Catwoman and kills her in an instant. Now without his ally and his source of calm, Batman’s thirst for blood clouds his better judgment, and he jumps on the Joker like a bat out of hell. Digging his teeth into the flesh of the Joker’s neck, Batman sucks every ounce of blood from the Clown Prince of Crime, then rams a stake through his heart to keep him from returning as a vampire. Through all of this, the Joker went out with roaring laughter and a beaming smile, knowing he had broken the Batman in newfound ways.
5. When He Used a Laugh-Powered Electric Chair
Is there anything worse than a fake laugh? The Joker definitely thinks so. In Batman: The Animated Series, he subjects the Dark Knight to his latest invention: the laugh-powered electric chair. Like Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, the Joker hijacks a late-night talk show and holds his audience at gunpoint. Instead of ordering them not to move, the Joker forces the guests to laugh at the sight of Batman. The louder they grow, the higher the voltage of the electric chair and the faster Batman will get executed on national TV.
Remember, this is Batman: The Animated Series, a show created largely for children. The Joker quickly found himself unsatisfied with the quality of the audience’s laughter, so he upped the ante and released laughing gas into the studio. Before the Dark Knight could be burnt to a crisp, however, Catwoman saved the day and bought Batman time so he could escape from the megawatt chair. Hilarious, right?
4. When He Challenged Batman to a Surf-Off
In the 1960’s Batman TV series, Cesar Romero’s Joker is a total kook. Though his attempts at dethroning Batman and ruling Gotham never wane, they reach new heights in the episode, “Surf’s Up, Joker’s Under.” Armed with a mysterious brain-swapping machine, the Joker gets reckless in a beach town outside of Gotham. It’s not long before the Dynamic Duo comes to the rescue.
Upon their arrival, Batman and Robin are greeted with poison blowfish spine darts and the Joker’s wacky attempt to turn them into human surfboards. Frustrated by their tenacity, the Joker arranges the duel of the century: a surfing contest against Batman endorsed by the Gotham City Surfing Association itself. Enter the Dark Knight’s glorious yellow bathing suit, which he simply tucks under his over-sized utility belt. While they surf and the Joker taunts his competitor, Robin yells out nonsensical phrases like, “Here comes the wave of the day,” and “Batman’s doing a nose pull-out.” Thanks to the Joker, this is undoubtedly the most awkward setting Batman has ever seen.
3. When He Made Batman Laugh
Batman doesn’t laugh. The Caped Crusader is such an expressionless guy that he makes the Mona Lisa look downright ecstatic. By the time the ending rolled around, however, Alan Moore had already broken every rule with The Killing Joke and decided to end on a high note. After the Joker had paralyzed Barbara and brutalized Jim Gordon, Batman intervened and kept the clown from going any further. Rather than punish the Joker for his crimes against his friends, Batman tells him, “I don’t want to hurt you. I don’t want either of us to end up killing the other.” In one of the strangest turn of events, Batman turns into a quasi-psychiatrist that actually shows the madman pity.
The Joker rejects his efforts, but rather than dwell on the drama, he launches into a joke. The Clown Prince of Crime sells it for all its worth and somehow succeeds in making Batman crack a smile. His smile turns to a chuckle, his chuckle to a laugh, and his laughter into borderline hysterics. The pair share a hearty laugh as Batman puts his hands curiously near the clown’s head. It appears the Joker finally became his own punchline.
2. When He Made Him Fight Damian Wayne
The Joker specializes in setting traps. After kidnapping Alfred Pennyworth in Death of the Family, Damian Wayne (the Robin du jour) goes on a crusade to track down the beloved butler. From Wayne Manor to Gotham Zoo, Damian hunts for Alfred, only to get pursued by ravenous hyenas that incapacitate him with the Joker’s deadly venom.
With Robin physically weakened and mentally unstable, the Joker tells him that his new mission is to fight and kill his father, Batman. Though Damian isn’t quite himself, the clown tells Batman that his dad is also suffering from the Joker’s venom. Before he can process the situation, he orders Batman to attack his son. Unable to do what the Joker asks, Damian backs down from attacking Batman, who stands above him with a sword-sized icicle. Though Damian stares death in the face, he refuses to fight back, so the Joker detonates a failsafe explosive that kills Batman immediately. Though Damian survived the ordeal, he was relieved to find that the man in the cape and cowl wasn’t his dad, but an impostor who owed a debt to the Joker.
1. When He Crucified Him & Fed Him to Vultures
Earlier, we mentioned that the conclusion of Emperor Joker would eclipse everything you know about Batman’s relationship with the Clown Prince of Crime. Though his death by horde of zombie clowns is nothing to scoff at, that’s only part of the picture. Here are the final facts: after the Joker killed Batman a handful of times, he resurrected him for a final act that would outclass all others. Crucifying him next to an upside-down Superman, the omnipotent Joker erases Batman’s ability to speak.
Hanging in this Biblical position, Batman is then subjected to his final torture: death by red-eyed, carnivorous vultures. The buzzards swoop in and peel the flesh from his bones, “each feather stroke against his skin is like sandpaper, each bite crisp thunder, the mouthless scream.” It’s a truly awful way for the Batman to go, but according to the Joker’s glum expression, it’s just another day at the office.
What other atrocities has the Joker committed against Batman? Let us know in the comments!