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Why We Love Harley Quinn

Updated on May 3, 2017

Who doesn’t know Harley Quinn? Thanks to the rage among the Suicide Squad Movie, we all know the famous Joker’s sidekick, Harley Quinn. The question is, why Harley? She hasn’t been around long enough unlike the others. She is even known among non-DC fans. What is it about her that makes her so popular?

First of all, Harley Quinn’s a villain. Usually, we’d end up hating the villain but not her. In fact, we adore her! Some people even thought of her as a role model. She is also crazy so why is she loved? Is it her looks? Her attitude? What is it?

Also, spoiler alert, you’ve been warned.

Suicide Squad Trailer

Harley Quinn Background

Character’s background says a lot about the character so let’s start with it.

She was known as Harleen Quinzel before adapting the “Harley Quinn” persona. Her mother, while forgiving, is harsh. As for her father, Nick Quinzel, is a criminal con-man who tricks women to get money. It’s safe to say that her childhood isn’t exactly happy.

Her father is the reason why Harley Quinn decided to take psychology major and become a psychiatrist. Another example of how much your parents influence you. In the end, she finds psychology to be boring and slept her way through good grades.

Her other significant relationship was with Guy Kopski, her ex-boyfriend. During her relationship, she speculated that being in love is like being a criminal. Why? Because you'd do anything for the one you love. She decided to test her theory by pretending that she’d shot her teacher. Guy who didn’t even doubt her story went off to kill her teacher. Harley tried to stop him but it was too late. Guy has murdered a homeless man, thinking that the man was her teacher. Guy felt guilty yet he can’t bring himself to kill himself so he asked Harley to do it instead. Harley tried to talk him out of it but Guy was persistent. He told her that he’d feel guilty for the rest of his life. So, he died though the cause is unclear.

These devastating events led her to sympathize with the most dangerous villain of Gotham City, Joker. Harley eventually falls .in love with him with a little twist – their romance is anything but healthy.

Joker and Harley Quinn Abusive Relationship

We’ve seen it a lot on social media after the release of Suicide Squad. A picture of Joker and Harley Quinn, being so drunk in love. The caption says, “Relationship goals.” It’s sad because their relationship is not ‘goals’ as some people tend to believe. In fact, their relationship is similar to abusive relationship with the victim always ending up running back to her/his abuser, no matter how badly the victim is treated.

As we all can see, Harley Quinn is genuinely in love with Joker and cares a lot about him. She will do anything to make Joker happy, risking everything in her life to be with him. Even when Joker treats her badly, she still believes that Joker loves her.

But can we say the same about Joker?

I doubt Joker has the ability to love someone. He’s a controlling, psychotic villain with no ability to love and if he does love someone, it wouldn’t be Harley Quinn. It would be Batman. Harley Quinn is just someone to use. Joker knows Harley Quinn wouldn’t leave him and will always love him no matter what. He manipulated her in such a way that she wouldn’t be able to leave. After all, he is a brilliant criminal so he would be able to figure it out that much.

In abusive relationship, there’s a pattern with two periods – the sweet times and the bad times. During these sweet times, the abuser is kind and loving while the bad times are, you know it. Sometimes the victim doesn’t want to leave because the good times are too good. As for the bad times, the victims would reason that the perpetrator is going through a difficult time or has a bad past.

Contrary to Harley’s love or even, obsession, Joker often pushes her away and humiliate her. In the Suicide Squad movie, Joker describes her in a purely sexual way such as “the itch in my crotch”. In the comic, he often abuses her. Once, Joker even launches her into a rocket because he can’t handle his feelings for her. Is that love? I don’t think so.


Joker Abuses Harley

What do you think of their relationship?

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The Complexity of Harley Quinn

So, the question is, why does Harley Quinn let herself be treated that way? You might wonder why. Only dumb people do that – well, if you think that way, then you’re wrong. Harley Quinn is not dumb. There are times when she comes up with a better plan than Joker to kill Batman and there’s this one time she’s almost successful. She is also good at playing pretend and being an actress is not as easy as you think. Some says she is playing dumb, acting all ditzy so people wouldn’t take her seriously. So then, if she’s so smart, why does she let herself be trampled all over by Joker?

Stockholm Syndrome

Yup, you might read it a lot, people associating Harley Quinn and Joker’s relationship with Stockholm syndrome.

However, the answer as to why Harley stays in the toxic relationship must be Stockholm syndrome. Stockholm syndrome is a syndrome that causes the victim to sympathize and defend the perpetrator. The event first took place in Stockholm hence the reason why this syndrome is named after the place. A criminal held several people as hostages but the hostages began defending and even protect the criminal. Well, the syndrome doesn’t only apply to hostages but abusive relationship as well. It’s not as dramatic as the abduction situation though. So people tend to underestimate it.

There are several reasons why people stay in an abusive relationship and yes, this can happen to anyone. The thing about Joker is and these apply to other perpetrators as well, he is unstable. At times, he can be sweet. There are the rare times where he shows his weakness and Harley can’t help but rationalize all his bad treatments toward her. Just like that, Harley crumbles and Joker knows it too, know exactly well how to wrap Harley around his finger. She is manipulated by Joker with his charms and constant humiliation into a state where leaving is not a choice. The thing is she doesn’t even realize it.

Harley Quinn is also biased. The events that led her to her own madness played a part of why she is biased. Guy Kopski is similar to Joker in a way. He makes her laugh and he shares a similar view of world with Joker. Later, she found out that her teacher poured some diluted Joker venom into his drink think which caused him to behave irrationally. Consumed by grief, she began to sympathize with Joker. Maybe that’s her way to cope with the death of her ex. Joker and Guy share a similar concept, that world is in a constant state of chaos. So Harley thought that The Joker turned crazy because of some troubled past. She snuck her way into Arkham Asylum and the rest, you know it. An easy victim, I’d say.

Impulse Control Problem

Almost everything Harley does is on a whim without thinking of the consequences. Any normal people, when making a big decision, will think about it first but Harley is far from normal. Like the episode where Harley sets a trap for batman, she doesn’t consider Joker’s feelings and does it out of impulse. Chasing after what you want and making it happen is not a bad thing but one ought to have a sense of responsibility. Still, this quality is one of the reasons why Harley Quinn is charming.

Obsession and Dependence

I’m pretty sure everyone has noticed that Harley’s love for Joker is similar to obsession. In fact, Harley always has someone or objects to cling to or to depend on such as Joker, Poison Ivy, and many others. She has lots of personas, she changes to become what Joker wants. When she meets Power Girl, she transforms into a hero. She relentlessly searches for a sense of identity by being what someone else desires. She constantly needs someone to define who she is. While this personality of Harley Quinn is similar to dependent personality disorder, she’s not pessimistic or self-doubting. However, she changes into what the person she depends on wants so she might have this personality disorder. Other symptoms of dependent personality disorder that are shown in Harley Quinn’s character are going to excessive lengths to obtain acceptance and affection. She jumps from one relationship to the other. There’s a possibility that Harley Quinn has this disorder even though, some other symptoms don’t match.

Does she have dependent personality disorder? What do you think?

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The Conclusion

So many people love Harley Quinn. Even though she has only been around for a short amount of time compared to other DC characters. Why’s that? She’s crazy and a victim of abuse relationship is not someone we look up to! To top it all off, she is a villain who causes chaos alongside the Clown Prince of Crime.

Harley Quinn is relatable to us in some ways. She is mad and admit it, we have a little bit of madness inside us. She doesn’t take any nonsense from the others. A quality we’d like to have. She takes matters into her own hands. She chases what she wants in life, something we aren’t able to do at times. Her character development is also amazing. From being trapped in an abusive relationship to being able to stand up to her abuser. She certainly has a sense of empowerment about her.

She’s brave, passionate, and she’s one of the best characters ever created. Perhaps we all have Stockholm syndrome for adoring Harley Quinn?

Do you like Harley Quinn?

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