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Top 10 Most WTF Joker Stories of All Time

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
The Clown Prince of Crime certainly likes to keep his audience on their toes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most WTF Joker Stories of All Time. For this list, we’ll be looking at the most out there, unconventional, original, bizarre and twisted stories to ever feature the Joker. Please note that while some of these may be dark, dark isn’t a prerequisite. We’re really looking at stories that make you ask the question: who came up with this stuff?
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The Clown Prince of Crime certainly likes to keep his audience on their toes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most WTF Joker Stories of All Time.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the most out there, unconventional, original, bizarre and twisted stories to ever feature the Joker. Please note that while some of these may be dark, dark isn’t a prerequisite. We’re really looking at stories that make you ask the question: who came up with this stuff?

#10: “The Laughing Fish!” (1978)


It seems like a plot from the 1960s Batman series, but this storyline actually played out in the pages of Detective Comics in the 1970s. While on patrol, Batman discovers that a bunch of freshly caught fish have Joker-like faces. It’s an absurd start, but the plot only gets weirder from there. Obviously, the fish are tainted with Joker Venom, meaning that any person or animal who consumes them will be affected. But the real kicker is that Joker is obsessed with having them copyrighted, and when he’s refused, he begins a murderous campaign to get what he wants. It’s an odd tale, but one that would go on to be adapted in “Batman: The Animated Series.”

#9: “The Demon Laughs” (2001)


Call us crazy, but we think that seeing a sane version of the Joker is downright nuts. Joker gets himself gunned down by Ra’s Al Ghul after betraying the Demon’s Head. Huzzah! The Joker is going to die and Batman never had to cross a line. Unfortunately, the Joker is the only one who can tell Batman Ra’s plan, and so the Dark Knight actually saves his nemesis using the Lazarus Pit. Here’s the curveball. While most people suffer temporary insanity after a dip in the pit, Joker came out temporarily sane. Seeing this maniacal villain soberly expressing remorse for his crimes? Now that’s something we never could have imagined.

#8: “The Joker: Devil’s Advocate” (1996)


In this 1996 one-shot by Chuck Dixon and artist Graham Dixon, the Joker showed us that though he may seem like an agent of chaos, he’s not without an ego. When a set of commemorative stamps depicting famous comedians is released, he takes his omission as a personal affront. This is already a pretty ludicrous premise. Things get stranger, however, when people start dropping dead after licking the stamps. What’s strange about that you ask? Well, despite Joker being accused and sentenced to death for the crime, Batman is convinced of the villain's innocence and sets about the odd task of proving it. It ain’t easy being a hero... or the Prince of Crime.

#7: “Batman: Europa” (2016)


Batman is first and foremost interested in justice, so as much as it might pain him to do it, proving the Joker’s innocence fits with his moral rulebook. Traveling around Europe with the villain, however? That’s a serious trip - literally and figuratively. The long-delayed four-issue miniseries, which finally saw the light of day in 2016, opens dramatically on Joker and Batman lying wounded side-by-side. Flashing backward, we learn that the two were drawn together and forced to join forces in a hunt for answers regarding a virus which both of them have been infected with. You heard that right… this is literally a Batman & Joker team-up story. It’s wild.

#6: “Batman: White Knight” (2017-18)


In this 8 issue limited series by writer and artist Sean Murphy, we’re introduced to an alternative version of Gotham City, in which the role of the Joker and Batman have effectively been switched. In this strange reality, The Joker has been cured of his insanity and is now an upstanding citizen named Jack Napier who seemingly has Gotham’ best interests at heart. Still… his dark history follows him. Batman, by contrast, has been driven mad in his war on crime, and his methods are seen as cruel and unproductive. He’s also obsessed with seeing Napier behind bars. It’s a truly unique Joker story and one that takes the ongoing investigation of the Joker-Batman relationship into new territory.

#5: “Endgame, Part Three: ...Sleep In Heavenly Peace…” (2000)


Not interested in seeing the Joker’s good side, or watching him make strange forays into sanity? Fear not… the Joker’s darkest WTF stories lie ahead, beginning with this one. Sarah Essen, one of the GCPD’s finest, was happily married to Jim Gordon until the Joker got involved. During the events No Man’s Land crossover, which saw Gotham become a lawless wasteland, he kidnapped the city’s babies and threatened to kill them all. Essen was the first to find them, only to be met with an impossible choice that cost her her life. It’s a sick moment, one made only more disturbing when Joker turns himself in to gloat to the recently widowed Gordon.

#4: “Slayride” (2007)


Oh, and did we mention that Joker killed Sarah Essen on Christmas? He’s clearly got a thing for ruining the jolly holiday. In this 2007 comic, a stranger in a car comes to Robin’s rescue in a time of need. Unfortunately for Tim Drake, it’s the Joker. The Clown Prince knocks him out and then binds him up in Christmas lights, taking him on a twisted holiday joy ride. He talks about bonding with the helpless boy wonder while hitting pedestrians and calling in his own hit and runs. They even go to a drive-thru, where he shoots the fast food manager. Robin actually has to resort to making Joker laugh to save lives. Happy holidays indeed.

#3: “Superman: Emperor Joker” (2000)


What’s worse than the Joker? A version of Joker with the interdimensional, reality-bending powers of Mr. Mxyzptlk. The Clown Prince of Crime quickly becomes the Clown Emperor of Genocide, reshaping earth as he sees fit, and delighting in countless acts of murder. The various horrific pleasures he partakes in include his daily ritual of torturing and killing Batman, repeatedly murdering Lex Luthor and eating the entire population of China - adding racist insult to injury by doing it with chopsticks and a stereotypical Chinese food takeout box. Suffice it to say, this story is all kinds of crazy.

#2: “Death of the Family” (2012)


A riff on the ‘80s story, A Death in the Family, Death of the Family sees Joker’s cruel obsession with Batman reach staggering new heights. Insistent that Batman is at his best when he’s operating solo - which means Joker can also have Bats all to himself - the Clown Prince of Crime concocts an elaborate scheme to cleanse Batman of his extended family. Of course, with the Joker, no problem can be solved with a few well-placed bullets. He instead walks around wearing his recently removed face as a mask and pretends to similarly remove the faces of Batman’s various allies too. Blood flies and bodies pile up - all out of love for Batman.

#1: “Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth” (1989)


The Joker has taken us on many a wild ride over the years. But for a story this crazy… this utterly bizarre and twisted, he needed the help of the least conventional writer in mainstream comics, Grant Morrison. In this 1989 graphic novel, Morrison takes Batman and the readers on a dark, surreal odyssey that sees the Caped Crusader venture into Arkham Asylum, which has been taken over by Joker and the inmates. The terrifying art style earns the story maximum WTF points right out of the starting gate. But it’s the way in which Morrison uses the Joker as the voice of insane reason that really makes this such an enduring deranged tale.
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