The Joker is considered one of the most evil and heinous villains, not just in the DC Universe but in all of comic books. He has done plenty to hurt others that deserve death, and given Batman plenty of reason to end it. From movies, comics and video games, the Joker has always found a way to take the lives of the innocent or inflict intensive pain to those who even look in his direction. While we understand the reason behind Batman’s choice to not kill the Joker, as he states in Batman: Under the Red Hood “If I allow myself to go down into that place, I’ll never come back” meaning if Batman makes the choice to kill the Joker, he would be no different than him. So let’s take a look at some of the reasons the Dark Knight had to break his one rule and end the Clown Prince of Crime.
Transforming Tim Drake
Featured in the animated film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, in a flashback scene taking place during The New Batman Adventures. The Joker and Harley Quinn kidnap Tim Drake, who took the place of Dick Grayson after he left to become Nightwing. Rather than just killing him, the duo subject him to torture and brainwash. Transforming Drake into a junior version of the Joker, and giving Harley the child she wanted with Joker. When Batman discovers them hiding at Arkham Asylum, he ferociously chases the Joker. When he captures him, he threatens to break him in two but Jokers response is “if you had the guts for that kind of fun, you would have done it years ago”. However, in the animated series the Joker had done some pretty horrific things, but nothing as evil and diabolical as this. Giving back every right in this case to follow through with his threat and break the Joker in two. One of the darkest and most emotional moments to come out of the DC Animated Universe, let alone a animated children’s program.
Murdering Gordon’s Wife
During the large event titled No Man’s Land, the heroes of Gotham yet again face another loss due to the Joker. In 2000’s Detective Comics #741, the Joker announces his next evil scheme involving kidnaped infants. Commissioner Gordon’s wife Sarah is the first to arrive on the scene, there she discovers the Joker with all of the missing babies. Joker threatens to shoot one of the babies but holding a gun to its head (already a reason to kill Joker), at the same time Sarah has Joker at gunpoint. Joker makes his move by tossing one of the babies at Sarah and leaving her vulnerable, allowing the Joker to take his shot. He shoots her and leaves her body in the room for the babies to crawl all over. When Joker walks out, he is greeted by Batman and the GCPD, Montoya and Bullock rush inside the building. When they come out, they tell Gordon the horrific news. Gordon beats the Joker and threatens to kill him, Batman doesn’t stop Gordon but recommends to not stoop as low as the villain. Although Gordon makes the decision to not kill him, either Gordon or Batman had every right to murder the Clown. However in this case, rather than someone else being the voice of reason for Batman, he does it for another who needs it.
Creating Red Hood
Where to we begin with this one? After the storyline A Death in the Family, that shows the death of Jason Todd by the hands of the Joker. Years later, the story picks up again with Batman: Under the Hood in 2005 that took place between #635-#641 and #645-#650. When a mysterious new vigilante shows up in Gotham and starts to muscle in with the mob, Batman makes it his mission to uncover the identity of the Red Hood. It is revealed that the Red Hood is Jason, returned from the dead. A confrontation between the two takes place where Bruce tries to reason with Jason, but Jason is already too far down the path of no return. In the animated film, Jason holds a gun to Jokers head and threatens to kill the clown. Although Batman explains to Jason why he never made the choice to end the Joker, we are still a bit on the fence with Batman’s decision. Since Jason was the second Robin after Dick Grayson, he became like a son to Bruce. Joker murdered Bruce’s son, giving him enough justification to kill him or at least let Jason do it.
Shooting Barbra Gordon
From the acclaimed graphic novel by Alan Moore titled The Killing Joke. The Joker has a plan to show up at Commissioner Gordon’s house and inflict enough torture on him to make him go insane, to give him his one bad day. When he shows up, Barbra answers the door and Joker shoots Barbra. Joker’s men capture Gordon while he undresses Barbra, he proceeds to pictures of Barbra to use as psychological torture for James. Joker then continues his path of destruction by forcing Gordon through a tunnel of love ride featuring pictures of his dying daughter. Despite all of the mental torture Joker inflicts on Gordon, he remains unsuccessful in his plan to turn Gordon insane with his one bad day. Batman shows up and manages to save Gordon and set out on a pursuit of the Joker. While the ending remains ambiguous to this day, some of us still like to think that Batman finally broke his rule of killing the Joker.
Torturing the BatFamily
The story with multiple tie-ins, taking place between Scott Snyder’s Batman run during the New 52. Issues #13-#17 told the story Death of the Family, a riff from the infamous A Death in the Family. This time, the Joker returns with a even more terrifying appearance and horrific plot to mentally destroy the BatFamily. After cutting and peeling his face off to prove to Batman he can remove his mask just as easy as Batman can, Joker kidnaps the BatFamily in an attempt to prove another point to the Dark Knight. When Batman suddenly wakes up in a cave surrounded by his family. He finds Robin, Batgirl, Red Hood and Nightwing all tied to chairs around a table covered in bandages. Joker tries to make the point to Batman that he doesn’t need these allies, he needs Joker and all his other rouges. Explaining that they are the reason Batman is the epic hero he is, not with the other heroes he fights with but because of the challenges they create to push him. However, when Batman manages to escapes Joker’s clutches, it is revealed that the bandages were nothing more than just a prank caused by Joker to psychologically hurt the heroes.
Let the Joker Fall
From Christopher Nolan’s acclaimed film The Dark Knight, the Joker manages to do what he does best and inflict chaos on Gotham and its heroes. During their final confrontation, Joker’s plot to is foiled when Batman successfully rescues the hostages and blocks the signal to the bombs on boats set to blow. Just as Joker asks Batman “Wanna know how I got these scars?”, Batman tosses Joker over the edge and down to the side of a building. However, before Joker hits the pavement, Batman fires his grapple gun to save the clown. While Batman successfully didn’t break his one rule, in this case it not have been such a bad idea. Despite Batman saving innocent Gotham lives, the Joker still managed to win in the end. Killing Rachel Dawes and setting Harvey Dent on the path to become a corrupted figure of society. Joker managed to take the White Knight of Gotham and turn him into an evil and corrupted villain. Proving that everyone has an evil side and can be just as bad as he is. Letting Joker hit the ground, might not have been a bad idea after all.
Ruining Bruce’s Happiness
In the 1992 animated theatrical film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the plot is an origin story about Bruce Wayne’s last chance for happiness before it was taken from him. Before Bruce set out on his journey to become Batman, he met Andrea Beaumont. Falling in love with her, he was able to put his tragic past behind him after asking Andrea to marry him. Andrea says yes but leaves a letter for him the next day saying she has to leave town with her father. It is uncovered that before he became the Joker, he worked for a mob boss. The mob boss muscled in with Andrea’s father and forced them to leave town, causing Andrea to leave Bruce and call off the engagement. Due to Joker’s participation in threatening the Beaumont’s before his life as the Clown Prince of Crime, Andrea had to leave and led to Bruce going down the path to becoming Batman. During their confrontation in the finale, Joker is last seen in the grasp of Andrea before they both disappear. We know this isn’t the last we see of Joker in the DCEU since he is in the rest of Batman The Animated Series, Justice League and Batman Beyond. But its surprising that even after Joker’s return, Batman continued to let him live, we would be more than understanding if he made the choice to end him.
Blew Up a School
In the comic book titled Batman: Cacophony written by Kevin Smith, Joker commits such a heinous act that deserves far more than just death. A story focused on a new villain in Gotham named Onomatopoeia and sets up other villains to face off against Batman. One of them is the Joker, who has been holding a mob bosses child hostage along with the rest of the children in the school. As a power move, Joker ends up blowing up the entire school with the children still inside. Murdering innocent lives just to prove his ruthlessness, turns the Joker from just a villain to evil reincarnated. Luckily, Batman shows up in the next issue and ends up landing a couple blows to the Clown. But we wouldn’t mind seeing Batman give Joker what he deserves by ending things for him. However, what more would you expect from a writer like Kevin Smith to tell such a dark and compelling Batman story that further explores the sheer evil that is The Joker.
During a storyline that unfolded in Superman comics, Joker winds up with the powers of the supernatural being Mr. Mxyptlk. Altering reality and causing Chaos for the Man of Steel rather than The Dark Knight, Superman is also vulnerable to Mxyptlk’s attacks since it is all magic based. With only one option that comes to mind, Superman sets out to find Batman. When he finds him though, he discovers Batman is dead. When suddenly Batman rises from the dead, he explains to Superman the he is consistently being killed and brought back to life just to be killed again. While in some versions of the comic books the Joker seeks out to mentally break Batman, this way he gets to satisfy his needs to break him by consistently torturing him to death over and over again. Once everything is said and done, regardless of this being a Superman story, I think it would be fair if Batman took his chance here to get his revenge on Joker for putting him through extensive murder.
Ruining Superman’s Life
From the video game series Injustice: Gods Among Us, we are met with an alternate reality where Superman rules over the Earth with an iron fist. Along with the rest of the Justice League at his side, they rule through fear and intimidation. What got Superman to this point though is the horror he inflicted on Metropolis. Joker and Harley mange to combine Scarecrow’s fear toxin with kryptonite, making Superman believe he is battling against Doomsday when it is actually his wife Lois Lane who is pregnant with their child. Superman ends up killing Lois and allowing Metropolis to be incinerated, setting him on a path of revenge to end the Jokers life. While Superman ends up taking Jokers life, he asks a valid question which is “Why haven’t you done it sooner” making us wonder the same thing? Why hasn’t Batman killed the Joker sooner? Could it have prevented such a catastrophic event or would have another villain done something similar? Batman had so many opportunities to prevent this kind of attack, instead it ruined Superman’s life.