Harley Quinn’s 10 Most Heroic Acts in DC Comics

HBO Max animated series Harley Quinn finished its third season with Harley joining the Bat Family. Her evolution from villain to anti-hero to now bona fide hero took many twists and turns, and the path wasn’t always clear. But several moments in DC Comics over the years hinted at Harley becoming the hero she is today.


Harley has participated in many heroic acts in the comics dating back decades to when she was ostensibly a villain. Her actions always spoke louder than words, and her kindness to both humans and animals shone through the dark veneer she adopted as the Joker’s sidekick and sometimes paramour.

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10/10 Save the hyenas

Harley loves her pet hyenas Bud and Lou, and they represent her earliest acts of heroism in DC Comics. IN Harley Quinn #4 from 2001, not long after she formally became part of mainstream DC continuity, Harley put together a gang to free the hyenas from the Gotham City Zoo. This surprised the gang and the reader, as it initially appeared that she might free the Joker from Arkham Asylum.

But this action showed early on that Harley was no simple villain. She never was. Harley Quinn is among the few comic book characters created outside of the medium. Her appearance and personality carried over to the comics from Batman: The Animated Series but her good nature was already evident there.

9/10 Liberation of the Joker

Joker reigns supreme among the greatest Batman villains as well as Harley’s greatest enemy. His actions towards her led to her arguably justified attempt to kill him Gotham City Sirens from the early 2000s. She breaks into Arkham Asylum to kill him, but she realizes that she is no different than him and lets him go.

This mercy, while debatable given the subject matter, proved Harley’s humanity and heroism at a pivotal moment for the character. This particular moment recurs in later comics and other media, a strong indication of her true character.

8/10 She saves Robin from Poison Ivy

Harley and Poison Ivy make for a powerful duo in most media these days, but that wasn’t always the case. However, Harley’s heroism emerged from the beginning, as it did in Batman and Robin Adventures #8. This tie-in comic from 1996 sees her rescue Robin from Ivy, who has taken control of him with her unique pheromones.

Harley’s frustration that Ivy is using Robin to give her foot massages can now be read as jealousy, but it’s an act of heroism nonetheless. She gave Robin the antidote to Ivy’s poison and freed him. Harley’s intervention in Ivy’s criminal actions provides the strongest review for her heroism, as she strives to help Ivy overcome her worst self in the same way Harley is trying to.

7/10 Fighting the Unsanity Collective

Harley joins the Bat Family in its animated series, completing a fascinating arc that began thirty years ago in B: TAS. But she joined the group in the comics last year, if of her own volition. She helped the Bat Family, including the new character Ghost Maker, fight and defeat the Unsanity Collective in 2021’s Batman #111.

Harley’s journey proves to be unique in many ways, but she is not alone. Many DC Comics supervillains went on to become anti-heroes or outright heroes, including Catwoman, also a Bat-family member.

6/10 Ingestion of Lex Luthor’s blood

Harley’s exploits generally remain low stakes in Gotham, but in the DC vs. Vampires, the whole world hangs in the balance. This alternate reality tale shows Harley at her most heroic. She consumes a vial of Lex Luthor’s blood to protect it from the vampires who threaten the world and give humanity a chance to survive.

Although Lex Luthor is among the top Superman villains in DC Comics, his blood proves deadly to vampires in this universe. By consuming it, Harley makes herself a poisoned pill for the vampires who would kill her.

5/10 Emulating Wonder Woman

Harley’s heroism sometimes requires an explanation. She once gassed Wonder Woman and stole her armor and weapons, but it was all for a good cause. This happened in Harley’s Little Black Book #1 when Harley took advantage of her huge Wonder Woman fandom to use her guns to take down a criminal gang.

Although the methods proved flawed, Harley’s heroism and instincts in this hilarious adventure proved her growing inclination to do good instead of just working for herself or others.

4/10 She stopped Poison Ivy

Comic book readers likely found Harley and Ivy’s confrontation in the animated series’ third season familiar. A similar scenario unfolded in Batman #43 where Ivy tried to destroy the whole world. Harley talked her out of it, reaching beyond Ivy’s hurt and anger to reach the vulnerable person inside. In doing so, she averted a disaster.

Comic book fans know that Poison Ivy started out as a fairly standard villain in the 1960s, but thanks to her relationship with Harley, she’s also evolved and become much more complex.

3/10 She saved Poison Ivy

Ivy went through many ups and downs in recent DC Comics, including being split into two different beings. Her Queen Ivy form, among the most powerful Ivy variants in the comics, once again threatened the world. But Harley saved Ivy’s life by convincing Queen Ivy to reintegrate with the commoner, who possessed the character’s humanity.

This saves both Ivy and the world and brilliantly shows how Harley sees the humanity in others. Her perception, while flawed with the Joker, benefits others and none more than Ivy.

2/10 She forgave Wally West

Harley’s empathy knows no bounds. That includes forgiving Wally West for many unthinkable actions, including killing Poison Ivy. He also accused Harley of the murder of others. Her forgiveness benefited Wally in many ways, including helping him recover from his guilt and trauma.

Her ability to forgive him for such cruelty speaks volumes for her mercy and charity, even as she leaves him with a parting kick reminding him that she forgives but does not forget.

1/10 She stopped being the Joker’s punching bag

Harley’s most heroic act in DC Comics involved not saving the world, but herself. The dynamics for her eventual development existed from almost the beginning and became apparent in Sour love, the 1994 comic strip by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm detailing her origins. In this story, she learns to stop being The Joker’s punching bag, even if it costs a lot.

Harley enjoys the love and support of characters like Poison Ivy and sometimes even Batman, but for years she struggled to break free from the Joker. Still, her early efforts proved heroic, even if they did not always succeed.

NEXT: 10 Best Anti-Heroes in DC Comics

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