Everyone who grew up watching the Batman animated series was among the first to meet the woman later known as Harley Quinn. She started in the TV show first, as just a female henchwoman. Only to later become a constant accomplice. Her relationship with ‘Mr. J’ and her own backstory continuing to expand.
There are many different versions and not all of them have her as a permanent accessory to the Joker. Most of the time people look at her and think she is brainless. Also described as insane and just a henchwoman. That is a very shallow approach to her, and she is much more.
Let’s start with the obvious part first, she is Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel. She has a doctorate in psychology and was chosen to work with the Clown Prince of Crime when they were trying to treat him. Believed to be a good enough psychiatrist that they called her into work on one of the most famous and dangerous beacons of insanity. Her airheaded act we see in most interpretations is just that, an act.
Like her mentor, she has the ability to slip in and out of Arkham. People joke about how lax security must be that Joker and everyone else seems to come and go the way they do. It is, however, one of the two most secure places in Gotham, and one of the top ten in the world of DC. The ease of escape by people who play mind games with Batman should be understandable. Harley is one of those who can do it, without any outside help.
Also, it needs to be put aside, that she is not always violent or even a villain. She has teamed up with Poison Ivy and Catwoman as criminals. What people are not always aware of, they also have a history of teaming up to deal with men who are domestic abusers and even on occasion rapists. Their treatment of those people would not meet Batman’s morality standards, but they are doing it for entirely selfish reasons.
Another story has Harley fighting Black Canary. A female superhero with a sonic scream and usually married/dating Green Arrow. During one of their fights, Black Canary started throwing up and the mad Harlequin picked up that she was pregnant. Not only stopping the fight but sharing some personal secrets about her own kid (Joker was suggested to be the father). Later even breaking out of Arkham to give a baby shower for the superhero.
There is a mountain of evidence that people gloss over about her. In the fictional world, she does that to her advantage. Making her seem less dangerous than she really is. In the real world, you are missing out on one of the most interesting females in comics. A woman who was driven to the brink and still fights to sometimes do what is right.
Of course, not all writers portray her that way. They instead chose to show her as some psycho in make up, instead of a smart woman. Next time you watch a movie or show with her in it, take a second to think about what she is able to do, and what she has done to become one of the most dangerous women in Gotham.