"Joker's Favor" is the seventh episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on September 11, 1992. When an ordinary man inadvertently crosses paths with the Joker, he is plunged into a nightmare. This episode marks the first appearance of Harley Quinn in any medium.
Charlie Collins, an unremarkable Gotham citizen, inadvertently curses out the Joker when the latter's getaway car cuts him off on the highway after a particularly bad day. The Joker runs him off the road and corners him. Desperate to save his life, Charlie mentions he has a wife and son and promises to do anything the Joker asks of him. The Joker accepts and takes Charlie's license; to Charlie's surprise, Joker says he has no idea what the favor will be, and leaves with a promise to keep in touch.
Two years later, the Joker learns that Commissioner Gordon is to be given an award, and decides to call in the favor. To Charlie's horror, the Joker has effortlessly kept tabs on him, even though Charlie has changed his name and moved to a different city. When the maniacal clown calls him and drops a thinly-veiled threat to his family. Charlie finds he has no choice but to travel to Gotham.
Upon arriving, a bemused Charlie learns he is to hold a door open for the Joker's right-hand woman Harley Quinn while she wheels a cake into Gordon's testimonial dinner at the elite Peregrinators Club. Regardless, the Joker promises to send Charlie home immediately after.
Not knowing the Joker's aim, but desperate to avoid it, Charlie fashions a crude Bat-signal, which is seen by dinner attendee (and early absentee) Bruce Wayne. Just then, Charlie is called to perform his favor. Charlie dutifully opens the door for Harley, only to find his hand glued to the handle. Harley slips Charlie a gas mask and dons one herself before gimmicked candelabras in the room spray a gas that paralyzes everybody else. As the guests watch, immobile and helpless, the Joker enters in grand fashion and "congratulates" Gordon by pinning a bomb to his lapel. The Joker and Harley then leave, explaining to a horrified Charlie that they never promised to send him home alive.
Seconds before the bomb goes off, Batman arrives on the scene. Acting on Charlie's warning, Batman grabs the bomb and launches it outside with his grapple gun. Hearing an explosion from outside rather than inside, the Joker realizes something is amiss; moments later, he sees the bomb has blown up their getaway van.
Inside the Peregrinators Club, Batman frees Charlie from the glue, while Charlie explains that the Joker called Charlie his "hobby", keeping watch on him for years and threatening his family.
Batman pursues the Joker through the club, dealing in turn with Harley and two thugs. The Joker himself manages to escape the club, only to find Charlie waiting for him in an alley. The Joker laughs this off, but is surprised when Charlie punches him into some garbage. In a rage, the Joker repeats his threat on Charlie's family. But, driven to mad desperation, Charlie holds up another one of the Joker's bombs, vowing to protect his family with a murder-suicide that will rob Joker of the only dream he has—defeating Batman in a huge spectacle or dying in the effort—and ensure he'll only be remembered as the victim of "a miserable little nobody". Panicking, the Joker tries to talk Charlie down while simultaneously screaming for Batman's help. Batman arrives and tries to reason with Charlie, but Charlie insists only his way can keep his family safe. Finally breaking, the Joker surrenders all the information he has gathered on the Collins family, only for Charlie to toss the bomb at him anyway. The Joker screams and hides behind Batman, but the bomb is revealed to be a harmless confetti firework.
As an amused Batman takes a disgruntled Joker into custody, Charlie heads for home, freed at last and looking forward to his "ordinary" life more than he ever has before.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- DC Comics Super-Villains: The Joker's Last Laugh (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- When Joker reads Charlie Collins' driver's license, he includes the middle name Michael; however, the name on the license is simply "Charles Collins".
- Springdale, Ohio is an actual city (though it does not have a Marigold Lane), but the area code is 513, not 614 as listed on Joker's note.
- This episode marks the first appearances of The Joker (airdate-wise) and Harley Quinn.
- The first-produced episode featuring the Joker was "Christmas With the Joker", but this was the first aired.
- Harley's line about beauty school may suggest that her origins as a psychiatrist may not have been cemented at the time.
- When the Joker orders Rocco and Henshaw to applaud him for his decision to honor Commissioner Gordon, Henshaw is shown to be reading a magazine featuring the title card and the characters of Buster and Babs Bunny from fellow Warner Bros. production Tiny Toon Adventures. Many Batman: The Animated Series crew members, including Bruce Timm, Paul Dini, Tom Ruegger and Andrea Romano, had previously worked on that series.
- This episode is one of the few instances in the entire DCAU when Batman laughs, and the only time he laughs from genuine amusement. Batman later laughs sarcastically in The New Batman Adventures episode "Mad Love" in order to provoke Harley Quinn. Then in a scene from Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Terry McGinnis storms the Batcave to find a nearly-dead Bruce Wayne laughing after he had been attacked by the Joker and dosed with Joker venom.
- The Peregrinators Club re-appears in the episode "Harley and Ivy".
- Charlie's drivers license (before leaving Gotham) includes one of several references in Batman related media to Gotham City (or in this case its suburbs) being located in the state of New York, possibly near New York City or a replacement section thereof.
- While cheering for the Joker at the testimonial dinner, Harley mimics the trademark "woof-woof-woof" hand gesture of talk show host Arsenio Hall. Ironically, one of the Jokerz that help the Joker in the movie Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker is called Woof.
- Harley's chauffeur disguise would later be used for Mercy Graves's design. Harley eventually used Mercy's chauffeur suit in the Superman: The Animated Series episode "World's Finest, Part I"
- During the pan of Springdale, Ohio, background characters include Sherman Grant and Roberta from "I've Got Batman in My Basement".
- According to his driver's license, Charles Michael Collins was born on March 17, 1946. His license was issued on September 25, 1991 and expired on March 17, 1995.
|Kevin Conroy||Batman/Bruce Wayne|
|Bob Hastings||Commissioner Gordon|
|Robert Costanzo||Harvey Bullock|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Mark Hamill||The Joker|
|Arleen Sorkin||Harley Quinn|
|Ed Begley, Jr.||Charlie Collins|
Joker: Now, look, my rude friend, we can't have people cursing at each on the freeway. It's simply not polite! (jumps and grabs Charlie) I'm just going to have to teach you some manners.
Joker: Jumping Jiminy Christmas! Charlie Collins. It's been forever. How are you man? You look great! Lost a little weight. Lost a little hair, too.
Bruce Wayne: Congratulations, Jim. I'm sorry I'm unable to stay for dinner.
Harley: Here's to Gotham's Commissioner G., you lock up the weirdos, the crooks, and the geeks. You're a hero to all the boys in blue, but this time, baby, the joke's on you.
Charlie: Wait! You promised to send me home!
Joker: Guess I'll have to find a new hobby now that old Charlie Collins is... Pfft!
Joker: You miserable little nobody! If I get caught, your wife and son are history!
Joker: Stop! You're crazy!
Batman: Put it down, Charlie.
Batman: Go home, Mr. Collins.