It’s been rumored since the show began that audiences might one day witness the arrival of the crown prince of crime and his harlequin. Well, we’ve gotten a Jerome, who seems to be the closest thing Gotham is willing to present as Joker, but what about Harley Quinn?
While admitting they have plans to use the character, the show’s creators have been coy, hinting, suggesting, saying she might already be on the show -- in a different guise. But finally, the secret is out. David Mazouz, Bruce Wayne’s actor, has let slip that Harley Quinn -- the actual Harley Quinn -- will be in the finale. Yes, this season's finale -- the one that arrives in just a few days.
But here’s the thing… Is Harley "coming," to Gotham, or is she already here? There are a few choices for us to look at -- and yes, obviously, one of them is Barbara Kean, but she’s actually not our main choice.
Before we go further, a small caveat. Gotham loves to mess with the established Batman canon so, of course, we have to accept that no matter what Harley Quinn we get, she’s probably not going to be the Harley Quinn we’re used to. For Gotham to add Harley Quinn to its cast, its version is going to be different, perhaps vastly so, from those we’ve gotten in the past. This is Gotham, after all, so she could turn out to be a literal five-headed dragon for all we know.
That said, let’s look at what we do know, starting with what the producers have said. It’s a whole lot of nothing but it basically boils down to: she’s coming, and she’s likely connected to the Joker cult. Also, she might have already shown up.
Admittedly, that's not that much to go on, but assuming they haven’t "lied," we can break things down from here. Who is connected to the Joker cult? Well... no one? No one that we know by name, of course. We’ve seen the Joker cult a couple times, so there’s a chance that one of those randos we’ve seen in the background will end up being Harley Quinn. Or, there’s a chance it could be someone whose connections to the Joker Cult haven't yet been revealed.
Then there's the producers said that she’s already on the show? Well, sort of.
Here’s the thing. The Gotham producers are, how to put this... lying liars who lie. They’ve said a bunch of different things throughout the years that don’t necessarily end up being "true" in the most obvious fashion, so this, the idea that Harley is already on the show, might actually be a lie. Or, more accurately, a misdirect. Could Harley Quinn be someone new to the series? There’s always a chance, but honestly, with all the build up the show has been doing, it makes more sense for it to be someone we know -- and possibly even love.
With that in mind, let’s look at one of the less obvious choices: Selina Kyle. It’s Gotham, after all, so you can’t ignore any options.
Now, there’s a chance you might be saying, “Harley Quinn can’t be Selina Kyle! Sure, Leslie Thompkins is evil, Batman might be Owlman, and Jim Gordon’s a murderer, but Harley can’t be Selina!” Oh, yeah, I’ll see that and raise you this: IvyXHarley.
That’s right, Harley and Ivy, the two closest “friends” in the comic universe. In some versions, the two are girlfriends, and in others they’re also girlfriends, but in a different way. While Gotham has deviated heavily from traditional DC canon, it seems like a bad idea to not have Harley connected to Ivy when the show has already focused on developing Ivy so much already.
However, every single other option for Harley would be, well, squicky to say the least. Heck, even if the show went with the more accepted “friends” relationship between Harley and Ivy, it would still be a bit weird for Barbara to be besties with someone who is literally an overgrown child. But Selina? Selina, who has been her best friend forever? Selina, who could possibly date her? Selina and Ivy already are a great pair -- giving Selina a mask and a cooler identity would just be the best.
Of course, this idea is a bit off kilter, even for Gotham, and it's been obvious from the first episode that Selina Kyle is being set up as Catwoman, so unless they’re going to pull a sharp left turn, despite Kyle being an awesome choice, she most likely won’t be Harley Quinn.
So that leaves us with just Barbara Keane, right? Well, let’s take a look at her before moving on to our actual number one suspect.
We have to all face the fact that the least surprising answer might actually be the one that’s correct. For instance, we were all right when it turned out The Flash's Savitar was actually Future Barry Allen (granted, we might’ve been off on one or two of the details). So there’s a chance that the character that we all assume is Harley might, well, actually be Harley. She’s evil. She’s crazy. She has power. She’s blonde. We all really want to see Erin Richards play Harley, it’s true, but it might be more interesting if she keeps playing her own, unique character. That way she can keep changing and growing. Plus, if she becomes Harley Quinn, we'll know that the love between her and Jim Gordon will be truly lost forever... unless he becomes Joker?
Basically, what we’re getting at is, while Barbara being Harley would be awesome, it’s also what’s expected and, honestly, wouldn’t shake the show up that much.
We think it’s going to be something bigger, better -- and something a lot fewer people expect. We’ve talked about Barbara, we’ve looked at Selina, we’ve even posed the question that there’s even an outside character coming in. But that still ignores one last suspect -- Doctor Leslie Thompkins.
Right off the bat, she’s a doctor, like Harley, and her nickname is Lee, as in "rhymes with Harley." Plus, she recently decided to head down into the darkness, infecting herself with the Alice Tetch virus. Could the virus be could be the Gotham version of being dropped in acid? What if, instead of her start of darkness coming from hurled into the vat by the Joker, it’s her poisoning herself in order to take out Jim? She does seem a bit mad, already, after all.
While Barbara Keane seems ready made to become Harley Quinn, it would be a bit of a shame to throw her into an established role, weakening her character, in essence, by throwing the weight of years' worth of expectations and established stories onto her shoulders. Leslie is a much cleaner, more fun choice. Plus, Gotham does love turning its heroes into monsters. By transforming Leslie Thompkins into Harley, it would match the Harley origin of a good doctor turned monstrous by her job.
So while Leslie may seem on the surface to be one of the more out-there choices to take on the iconic character's mantle, we're willing to bet that when the finale is all said and done, she’s the one who we’ll be seeing as the Harlequin of Crime.