Is The Joker Gay, Bisexual, or Straight? What Is DC Canon?

Is The Joker Gay, Bisexual, Or Straight?

The Joker is one of the most iconic villains of all time, not just for Batman or DC, but for comics in general. The twisted Clown Prince of Crime has done horrifying things, but he always had a kind of flare and flamboyancy to him. Due to some of his gestures and comics history, some readers are inclined to suggest that the Joker is, in fact, a homosexual.

That especially goes for the early days of the character in the comics, but much less after Harley Quinn was introduced in Batman: The Animated Series in the 90s. So, was the Joker actually straight the whole time? Was he bisexual? Or does he even have a sexual orientation? Let’s dig deep into the DC Comics canon to find out – or at least try.

What Is The Joker’s Sexuality In DC Canon?

The Joker’s sexuality in DC Comics canon was never explicitly stated. That’s probably because he is such a bizarre, complex character whose mind works at a totally different wavelength than a normal human being’s mind. So, to use the cliche phrase, it’s hard to put a label on it.

Still, there are some clues that could point in one direction or another. For instance, the Joker expresses his love for Batman numerous times. He also confessed to having a genuine obsession with Batman, saying multiple times throughout the comics that he doesn’t know who he’d be without the Bat.

Heck, in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns run, the guy even died next to Batman, calling him “darling” in the Tunnel of Love. And Batman isn’t the only man the Joker flirted with. He did so with a guard in Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth. 

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But then again, we’ve seen him flirt with tons of women in the comics, too. Most notably, of course, with Harley Quinn. As violent and demented as their relationship was, the Joker seemed to have ‘some’ feelings for Harley, whatever those feelings may be. 

I mean, they kidnapped Tim Drake in The Animated Series to hurt Batman and then started raising him as their son. Boy, was it a harrowing family? But still, one can interpret that as the Joker being straight.

The fact is – there’s no definitive, canonical answer about the sexuality of the Clown Prince of Crime. There are tons of clues for every theory, so let’s dive into each one to get to the bottom of the burning question.

Is The Joker Gay?

There are countless readers and fans out there who firmly believe that the Joker has been gay ever since his very beginnings in the comics. So much so that there’s a petition started by Elena Shestakova on Change.org, urging DC to “Make The Joker Gay Again.” 

It indicated that the Joker’s sexuality was changed in the comics after the introduction of Harley Quinn to make the Joker straight and hence, more “acceptable.” However, Shestakova does point out many flaws to that notion and gives numerous examples of clues and situations where the Joker was clearly indicated to be gay.

Even Neal Adams, one of the Joker writers, claimed that the Joker was, and always had been, homosexual. He wrote that in the Batman Files book, and he wasn’t the only one thinking that.

The first clue pointed out is how flamboyant and quirky the Joker is. He loves painting his nails, having makeup, and always carrying his lipstick – not just for his mask, but simply because he loves it. Now, this is a bit of a stereotypical take and doesn’t necessarily mean the Joker is gay, but it does lay a foundation for other clues given about his sexuality.

Is The Joker Gay, Bisexual, or Straight? What Is DC Canon?

In The Killing Joke, the Clown Prince of Crime makes some very “affectionate” gestures toward Batman and openly expresses his obsessions with Bats. He does the same countless times, saying to Batman that he ‘completes him,’ calling him ‘sweetie’ or ‘darling.’

Now, one could argue that his obsession is nothing more than a maniacal, sociopathic fixation and not really love, but there were other men the Joker expressed feelings towards. For instance, in Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan’s Devil’s Advocate, the Joker mentions an ex-boyfriend who “broke his heart.” 

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That was probably the clearest clue to the Joker being gay, but not the only one. Still, the notion of his explicit homosexuality comes with some contradictions.

Is The Joker Straight?

Is The Joker Gay, Bisexual, or Straight? What Is DC Canon?

The clearest indication that the Joker is straight is the relationship with Harley Quinn. Sure, she wasn’t introduced until the 1990s, and it’s debatable how much ‘in love’ the Joker was with Harley, but still, they were a thing. They even “adopted” a kid for a while.

That being said, the relationship was often one-sided, meaning Harley showed affection to the Joker while he showed only manipulation. There were other women in his life, though. For instance, he had a wife in The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Biran Bollands, although there were tons of mixed signals with Bats.

When you consider everything we’ve seen from the Clown Prince of Charm, I believe he’s neither explicitly straight nor explicitly gay.

Is The Joker Bisexual?

So, in the earlier days of the Joker in the comics, he was flamboyant, loved to wear makeup (especially lipstick), painted his nails, wore high heels, mentioned ex-boyfriends, and had an unhealthy obsession with Batman that borderlines a psychotic love-hate relationship.

Is The Joker Gay, Bisexual, or Straight? What Is DC Canon?

On the other hand, he’s had a wife in The Killing Joke and was in a long-term relationship with Harley Quinn, as twisted as it was. What that tells us is that the Joker is actually – bisexual.

The Joker’s only true love is chaos – everything else is either pleasure or obsession for him. So, it’s hard to imagine the Joker limiting his preferences based solely on gender. He’d indulge in a relationship, or intercourse, with anyone he’d enjoy spending time with, be it a man or a woman. The Joker is bisexual, at least, if not pansexual.

That being said, every relationship we see him in is nothing short of ludicrous. He had a weird, twisted obsession and fixation on Batman – one might call it love, but it certainly wasn’t that. Then he had an abusive, manipulative relationship with Harley Quinn – one might call it live, but it certainly wasn’t that. So, is the Joker bisexual – or not sexual at all?

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Does The Joker Even Have Sexual Orientation?

Finally, it all boils down to this – and I firmly believe this to be the right answer: the Joker doesn’t have a sexual orientation. His mind is so twisted, devious, and shattered that the Clown Prince of Crime is borderline inhuman. He doesn’t understand real human emotions such as love or affection.

He’s a psychopath and a sociopath, and all he understands is manipulation, coercion, and self-interest. The Joker never explicitly states his sexuality. Instead, he does what he wants for pleasure or simply to fuel his sick obsession with Batman.

He didn’t like Harley, nor does he love Batman. He sees them as tools to have fun and fulfill his only true desire – to destroy, manipulate, break, and cause complete, utter chaos.

  • Luka loves psychological thrillers, horrors, and mysteries. However, high fantasy and fiction are his primary interest, especially Tolkien's Middle-earth universe, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, and Marvel universe. Amateur filmmaker, screenwriter, cinematography, and trivia enthusiast.