Which Batman Character Should Kill The Joker? Who Gets the Right to Pull the Trigger? | Fanboys Anonymous
When it comes to comics and the superhero genre, death is referred to as a "revolving door" where no one really stays dead.

Naturally, there are exceptions. For the most part, Uncle Ben is never brought back, nor are Thomas and Martha Wayne. At least, not in a real way. It's always a dream, some other dimension, an Elseworlds story or something along those lines.

That goes for most other big changes to characters. It's rare to have Dick Grayson transition from Robin to Nightwing, Bucky to come back to life as Winter Soldier and so on, and people actually accept it. More often than not, if you try to replace Peter Parker with Ben Reilly, it just doesn't work, which is why no one ever thought Doctor Octopus was stuck in Peter's body forever.

In regards to The Joker—one of the most maniacal, horrific characters in all of fiction, let alone narrowing it down to just DC—people always ask "Why doesn't someone just kill him?"

Of course why not? The guy murders TONS of people every time he does anything. But DC will never kill him off, nor would he ever say dead for good. Every time he seems to have met his end, it's always some ruse where they never find his body and he's escaped so he can pull more hijinks down the line.

But what if DC decided to have a definitive end to Joker by actually cutting the cord? Whether it actually stuck forever or was just as temporary as Jean Grey's or Superman's death, or even the longer ones, it's interesting to think about. That's why people gravitate to stories like Injustice with Superman killing Joker for having manipulated him into killing Lois Lane and their child.

So let's dive into this thought experiment. Theoretically, if Joker were to be put down for good, who should do it? Which character has the right to be the one to do the deed? Who gets the honor and bears the burden of killing Joker once and for all?

What if Joker died? Who should pull the trigger?

Batman = No

We have to start examining things with Batman, naturally. He's the main character, after all, who has the deepest ties to Joker.

Their rivalry is epic. It's not just some decades-long multimedia war, but something that is complex. Some people interpret their battles as two diametrically opposed polar opposites. They're two sides of the same coin where one is crazy and bright and cheerful and evil, while the other is also crazy, but dark, brooding and heroic.

Some people interpret their story as struggling lovers. Others consider it an ethics discussion. It's all over the place, but there are usually common themes.

Joker is obsessed with Batman. It might not be as reciprocated, but Bruce definitely has a certain respect and fear for Joker above all other villains. Even Bane doesn't elicit the same response, and he's done some awful things to the family.

But it's Joker who pushes Batman to break his no-killing rule and nearly succeeds on a regular basis. So is that how this ends? Does Bruce finally snap, kill Joker and be done with it?

I think the only way you justify that is if you want your story to be a tragedy in a "no turning back from this, ever" type of scenario. Once Batman kills someone, that's it. He can no longer not be a killer. Joker would be the one to be the most justified in murdering (outside of someone like Darkseid, but aliens don't really count based on parademons and such). If you want the story of Bruce Wayne to end with his incorruptible moral compass being corrupted to prove that no one is immune to the horrors of the world, then pull an Alan Moore and tell us why you think there's no hope for humankind and be all depressed.

I'm not that type. I hate people in a lot of ways and I think there are some absolutely disgusting, atrocious humans on this planet that shouldn't be here, but I don't think every story needs to be doom and gloom.

I prefer my Batman to be the type of person who gets up whenever he's knocked down. Give me the "No matter what, I'm still not going to let you win" type of Batman. He should figure out another way to beat Joker and stop him from hurting anyone else other than to just become a killer like the other criminals.

Jason Todd = Maybe...but No

It's hard to find an argument for why Jason Todd shouldn't be the one to kill Joker. After all, Joker killed him, so fair's fair, right? Joker beat him with a crowbar and blew him up, which scarred him forever. Even after being resurrected, Jason's adopted the Red Hood moniker as a twisted bit of devotion toward this, which shows he isn't moving past it.

Recently, in the story of the three Jokers, Jason got a measure of revenge by killing one of them, hoping it was the one who killed him. After all these years, he deserved to do that, and I'm glad they had him pull the trigger, even if I'm 100% convinced there aren't actually three Jokers and whatnot, so it won't be a true act of vengeance.

But here's where I argue Jason shouldn't be the one to officially kill the real Joker. What does that accomplish? He kills the guy who killed him. Okay. He doesn't actually get to go back in time and stop all that from happening. Those scars are still there. Jason's already crossed the line of being a murderer, so it's not likely he can be redeemed in a way where he's totally pure or anything, but there comes a time where all that killing doesn't amount to anything on its own. Hell, he can continue to kill other crooks even after Joker's death and it doesn't mean anything for his own journey, positive or negative.

The real way to get past it is getting past it. Jason certainly shouldn't forgive Joker by any means, of course. That's not the same as moving on. But he should come to terms with what happened and turn that into more of a positive in some fashion, rather than just getting blunt revenge eye-for-an-eye style.

I'd rather see Jason's conclusion via Joker being that he stops being Red Hood and illustrates that he's more than just "the Robin that was killed by Joker" by becoming his own hero a la Dick Grayson becoming Nightwing. What name should that be? No idea. Jason was Wingman at one point, but I find that name pretty damn lame. But that's a discussion for another article. The point remains that if Jason moves on from calling himself Red Hood to calling himself something more aligned with the rest of the family—even if he's still a killer, which is okay to be the most brutal that does the things Bruce and others refuse to do—that's the real win over Joker, rather than just killing him.

Barbara Gordon = No

Babs is even weaker of an argument, in my mind, than Jason. She comes from a similar background as far as why, but has even less grounds.

Barbara was shot and paralyzed by Joker. That's horrendous. She's overcome it and is back to being Batgirl, but being wheelchair-bound and becoming Oracle is tied to her character forever, to the point that most stories, if they're able to go down that road, does a retelling of Killing Joke.

Naturally, Barbara has every right to kill Joker for that. But I don't think she's the type to get her revenge in that fashion.

I've never interpreted Barbara as having more of a vicious side to her than Jason, do you? And since Jason was actually killed by Joker, instead of just paralyzed, he has more of a willingness to pull the trigger and more of a reason to.

Barbara is harder to corrupt. She shouldn't throw that all away just to kill Joker. That's evidenced by the recent comics, too, with her condemning Jason's actions and considering him a criminal they need to bring in just like everyone else.

Good for you, Babs. Don't go down that road. Her revenge on Joker isn't something I've been able to wrap my mind around. It's not good enough to simply walk again. He'd just scoff at that like "I guess I didn't do a good enough job" and move on with his day. I think she'd have to outsmart him in some fashion that really stings...but that's another story for another article.

Harley Quinn = Yes?

If one woman is getting revenge on Joker, justifiably, it's Harley Quinn. This girl's been put through the ringer and I think it's actually difficult to think of an argument for why she shouldn't be the one to kill him.

Think about it. Even if her life was messed up before she met Joker (which in some tellings, it isn't), he wrapped her around his finger, had her lose her job, lose her sanity, sometimes bleach her skin, turned her into a killer and he's constantly abusive in every way possible.

Joker offers NOTHING good for Harley, but she keeps going back to him. She's a textbook example of so many real life cases, just turned up to 11. It's sad and it's not the type of thing any couple should be like "wow, I wish we were like Joker and Harley". No you don't! Just because you liked Sleepy Hollow and A Nightmare Before Christmas and you vibe more with skeletons at Halloween than snowmen in December doesn't mean you should ever want someone physically, emotionally and mentally abusive in your life like Joker.

This guy is scum. Pure evil. At best, he loves Harley because she cared and he's treating her terribly to where he doesn't deserve her. He may love her because he's turned her into something that fits his mold, instead of loving who she is. But most likely, he doesn't love her at all. Punchline will find that out.

Harley's character has broken off from Joker many times over the years. Sometimes, she goes off with Poison Ivy. Sometimes, she's part of the Suicide Squad. She's never quite heroic, as that would make her lose her edge, and her popularity is intrinsically tied to the idea that she's the spunky, wacky, psycho edgy hot chick that will cut someone who gives her a side eye. She's no Superman and if she were, the girls at Hot Topic wouldn't dig her as much and get tattoos of her and cosplay as the character.

Recently, even more than ever, Harley's also taken on a responsibility of becoming a women's empowerment vessel. She's kind of a "hear me roar" character, lately, taking on the whole support of representing all women who are fighting back from their abusive husbands/boyfriends/etc and kicking ass no matter who they offend (as if that's offensive to stand up for yourself and get out of a bad spot).

Isn't the ultimate win that she'd kill Joker? She's a murderer, so she's not breaking her code and losing anything. This would be the only way she'd never go back to him (even if she might regret it and miss him later, which would be a backtrack for her independence), but she'd at least have made that decision to try to do that knowing she could never go back.

I think there's a very, very strong case that if Joker were to die, Harley has to be the one to do it.

Jim Gordon = No

It's funny that Commissioner Gordon is always one to remind Batman not to cross the line by killing anyone, yet he's a cop. Cops do shoot and kill people if need be—sometimes, not even if it's necessary, unfortunately.

I always find it interesting when people have no issue having Gordon shoot some thug in a story, only to then say no one should kill Two-Face or Zsasz or someone. We know it's because they're actual characters, but it just makes no sense.

Logically, Gordon and any other cop should have shot Joker the first time he was doing any of his awful things and that would be the end of it. That's what would happen in real life. Magnify that by an exponential amount when you remember that Joker's paralyzed his daughter and shot/killed Sarah Essen. Any father and husband would be justified in killing Joker for retaliation.

But isn't that blah? The person to kill Joker is Gordon? It just doesn't fit in my mind.

Lock-Up, Azrael, or Another Punisher-Style Vigilante = No

This is quick. Should some random vigilante or person who is more willing to kill in general just take out Joker, like Punisher would?

No. That would be lame. If Azrael was the one to kill Joker, people would feel like it was wasted.

One of His Goons = No

Working for Penguin must be okay. He seems level-headed and you can even get a job as a server for the Iceberg Lounge. Being under the employ of Riddler is probably annoying as he tasks you to set up elaborate traps and continually talks about how he's smarter than you, but I'd imagine you could manage. Ra's al Ghul followers are supremely dedicated to his cause and would gladly give their lives for the league.

If you find yourself working for Joker, though? Forget about it. That guy can decide any random moment to carve your face off just for a laugh. He perpetually kills his allies to prove a point and you can never, ever be safe around him. Even if you stop working for him, he could just kill you because you know too much.

Maybe someone decides that at some moment when Joker has his back turned, they'll just shoot him. That's it. One shot to the head, he's dead, and now they don't have to worry about any of his insanity.

Perhaps this is even a plot to overthrow him and become the next big bad in Gotham. It likely wouldn't work, as Batman has more trouble with Joker than anyone else, so some random dude with a pistol wouldn't be as big of a threat, but that's beside the point.

That's also why I don't think this would be a good story to tell. There's one interesting element to it, which is the parallel that Thomas and Martha were gunned down by "some punk with a gun" and Joker, for all his theatrics, could fall victim to the same thing. But once you establish this new character as an imposing force for being "the one who killed Joker" and he's taken down by Batman, what else does that character have to offer?

A Civilian = Maybe?

Imagine after all the crazy antics and the grandiose displays of murder, the off-the-wall crimes that are so lavish and over-the-top that they require giant responses to them and go down in history as legends, where every single thing is building up to some great crescendo...if Joker just gets killed by some dude.

Not even a criminal. Not a rival psycho. Not a cop. Not Batman. A nobody.

Joker's killed hundreds. He's ruined families. There should be no end to the amount of people who would gleefully attack him if they saw him in public, hoping to murder him and make sure he doesn't do that to anyone else. Some people would be doing that in a joint murder/suicide fashion, while others would consider it a public service.

It would be kind of fitting if Joker's great work of art wasn't finished because "some punk with a gun" got him, similar to how Joe Chill killed Thomas and Martha. I like the idea a lot and the only argument I can think of that goes against it is that you can't track that person anymore, similar to the goon idea. Once they kill Joker and deal with the immediate repercussions of that, their story is done.

Joker Kills Himself = Yes?

In The Dark Knight Returns, Joker meets his end by snapping his own neck. Joker could always die as a result of his own plans backfiring, too. I think it's a strong, strong discussion to have that this could be the way he goes. That way, no one gets their hands dirty, but everyone can say they have their moments where they wish they could have killed Joker, even if they don't know if they would have done it if they did have the opportunity.

In a way, Joker wins and loses in this scenario. He loses his life, naturally, but he wins by not giving anyone the satisfaction. Maybe that's worth a laugh.


It's down to suicide, Harley Quinn, or a random civilian in my mind. I lean more toward the first two. If I had to make a pick based on this discussion, though, I think I'd go Harley Quinn for an active killer of someone else pulling the trigger, but I'd give a slight edge to suicide (planned or not) with Joker being responsible for his own death.

However, I'll tease something that I'll get into somewhere else in the future: the way Joker dies in my version of the story is none of these options. What am I talking about? What Batman story? Here's hoping I get to tell The Batman Blueprint at some point and you'll have to find out more about that some other time.

Who do you think should be the one to put down Joker for good if DC ever killed off the character?
Tell us your ideas in the comments below!


Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.