What makes the Joker such an undeniable antagonist is the simple fact that he is, as he puts it so delicately, an "agent of chaos." He revels in causing havoc just to cause havoc. He has no real purpose behind that goal other than to wreck other people, physically or mentally. Whereas most villains often reveal a sort of moral compass of their own, as skewed as it may be, the Joker has never demonstrated that (outside of recent White Knight storyline).
The reality is, he has no clear origin and no single means behind his actions. It is like Batman almost gave birth to him. It's as if one of them simply cannot exist without the other. And where villains like Thanos make their intent clear and are often conflicted by that themselves, the Joker specifically takes joy in never revealing motives, as he rarely has them.
The Joker is that one tornado that ripped through the county without warning at 3am ruining lives by the dozen without so much as an afterthought. He is a malformed fetus and a Dear John letter. He is the embodiment of everything we fear as people, especially in modern life. With the new Joker movie about to drop in 2019, we thought it might be a good time to catch up on some of the clown prince's most dastardly deeds (from both comics and film).
10. Paralyzed Barbara Gordon
Everyone who knows anything about the Joker knows about this singular moment, which is why it begins our list.
In the famous "Killing Joke" storyline, the Joker shows up at Barb's in some vacation gear and commences to shoot her in the spine, paralyzing her. He then strips her down and takes some really screwed up pictures that he later uses to attempt to drive Jim Gordon crazy.
9. Killed Two Old People Because He Could
Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo decided they wanted to do something very unique after seeing what Heath Ledger brought to the Dark Knight movie. They decided to write a story featuring that exact Joker (right down to looking like Heath Ledger), but they took a misstep. In the Dark Knight movie, the Joker truly enjoyed his reign of madness, but there was a reason behind it: he wanted to show Gotham Batman and reveal who he was. He believed Batman was just as crazy as any of the criminals he busted. However, in this book, he is purely a sick man for no discernible reason. It's hard to find the charisma you found in the film portrayal.
That said, Mr. J does a LOT of really sick stuff in this book, including flaying a man's skin off and making him dance skinless at a strip club for harassing Harley (who is, um, a stripper in this book). But all of that is candy when compared to the fact that he breaks in an old couple's home and brutally kills them for NO REASON.
8. Unintentionally Killed Himself
Can we talk about how the Arkham games were one of the best versions of the Joker ever realized? But in doing so, we also need to address the fact that comic Joker wouldn't have gone out like this. This being injecting himself and Batman with a fatal toxin, and then acting like a man-child and mistakenly knocking the cure out of Batman's hand, sealing his own fate.
While it wasn't the Joker's most shining moment, it was very interesting to see Batman face the death of his arch nemesis and seeing the effect that had on his psyche in the next game was a great payoff.
7. Intentionally Killed Himself
Now, in The Dark Knight Returns comic by Frank Miller, we all know Joker pulls the ultimate 'screw you' to Batman by snapping his own neck (as if that is possible), so that when Batman emerges from the cave they were in, authorities will think Batman killed the Joker and Batman will finally be taken down.
Though some dislike Miller's take on that universe for how utterly nihilist it was, it is also some Batman fans favorite interpretation of the character. It was an undeniable force in the influence it had on Nolan's masterpiece.
6. Cutting Off His Own Face (And Wearing It)
Man, when Snyder and Capullo get their hands on Batman, the end results are always metal (get it?). And there is no Joker moment in recent memory that blew tender young minds quite like the storyline, "Death of the Family," where the Joker literally cut off his own face and then went on to reattach it.
Though we had always seen the Joker as unpredictable and scary, this iteration was horror movie, nightmare fuel. In a later scene in that exact story, the Joker ties up all the members of the Bat family and has their faces covered in bloody bandages just as Batman comes to the dinner table. This lead him to believe the Joker had done the same to ALL of their faces. He hadn't, but it is still one of the freakiest Joker moments of all time.
5. Hurting Children
Though you will see with entry number one on this list that Mr. J. has no issues with threatening the lives of children, it isn't something he follows through with often. It is usually more of a gamble for him. He uses his threats towards children to goad responses from Batman and Gotham's other hero squad.
But in one very specific case, the dude literally blew up a school full of kids. That is one of those things where you do tend to look at the man differently afterward. It seems even the mafia have a "no women or children" rule, but rules of any sort are just not the Joker's thing.
4. Destroying China For The Sake Of A Bad Pun
Hey, remember that time The Joker destroyed all of China just so he could make a bad, racist joke about being hungry again 15 minutes later? Yeah, that was pretty messed up, but also, is pretty much all we need to say about that.
3. Made Superman Kill Lois Lane (and Then HIM)
How pleasant of a surprise were the two Injustice games? Featuring some stunning graphics and a massive roster of DC superheroes to battle as, it was every DC fan's dream game.
But what a lot of people who wrote it off as a "fighting" game with no story don't know is the story is actually the cruelest version of the Joker ever (no, really). He essentially convinces Batman that Lois Lane is him, and Batman friggin' kills Lois Lane. In learning the truth, Superman snaps and becomes all-evil and hell-bent, kicking off the events in the games.
2. Killing Jason Todd (Kind of...)
While we could talk about how the Joker didn't kill Jason Todd, and really only drove him to become the Red Hood (um, and the Arkham Knight? Nope. We don't address that). But really, the thing a great deal of younger comic fans don't know is, us '80s kids are the ones who really killed Jason Todd. Yes, the Joker may have beaten him severely with a crowbar and then blew him up, but the kicker is that was because there was a dial-in contest for the fans to pick whether Jason Todd lives or died. Jason dying won by, I kid you not, like, 20 votes.
So, in essence, the single cruelest thing some say the Joker has ever done was actually done by us! He may have followed through, but we are the people who called in the hit, literally.
WE ARE THE JOKER, PEOPLE!
1. Killing Jim Gordon's Lady Love
When the Joker does things to Batman, it gets fans angry, but it makes sense. After all, Batman and the Joker are madly in love. Ur, I mean ARE arch nemesis'. We all know Batman kind of signed up for this willingly. But when the Joker does something to Jim Gordon or his family, it is extra upsetting because Jim is a good man who is caught in a battle between two weirdos. He's often used as leverage for that exact fact (like a kid stuck between divorcing parents who use said child like a bartering chip). And when Joker paralyzed Barbara, it made a LOT of people suddenly take him far more seriously.
But to throw a baby up in the air knowing Jim Gordon's wife was too good at heart to let the kid fall, just so you could shoot her when she catches it was sick on some deep level. To cripple a man's child and kill his soulmate, that is depraved on a level that is hard to fathom.