Is This the Best Joker Death?

Did a kids’ show really have the best ending to one of the greatest villains of all time? Maybe Batman Beyond really was beyond.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.


  1. Hmmm…you’ve given me a lot to think about.

  2. Yeah this section of BB: ROTJ is the most talked about when it comes to the movie. It is a rather glossed over part of the Batman history. It’s crazy to think about.

  3. thatgirlinthewheelchair

    My favorite is still Joker’s death in Arkham City (although I loved when they brought him back as Bruce’s subconscious, especially since I completely predicted it). But what makes Arkham Joker’s death so great is that it’s an homage to this exact scene. In Batman Beyond, the hero has to decide if he’s going to be merciful or be a murderer. He chooses ‘murderer’ and of course, the victim is The Joker. To which Joker says, “That’s not funny.” In Arkham City, the hero again has to choose whether he’s going to be merciful or be a murderer. The genius is that the hero eventually chooses to be merciful but Joker dies anyway. Which is when Mark Hamill essentially breaks the fourth wall, acknowledging every bit of irony and beautiful writing that’s led up to this moment, saying, “That actually IS pretty funny.” Pure brilliance.

  4. I’ve been binge watching superhero movies this month. Have you been doing that too? Well, everything is related to superheroes nowadays. I was thinking the same thing. This scene is awesome. It’s why this movie can be considered great.

  5. The Mysterious M

    I’ve seen both versions of the BB:ROTJ death– the censored/televised version (where he’s electrocuted off screen), and the on screen/ uncensored death (where he’s shot by Tim and proclaims, “that’s not funny”). I have to say, the uncensored death works so much better because it gives the Joker what he’s always wanted; a punchline.

  6. I actually hadn’t seen the censored version before.

    Here’s something to ponder: Did the Joker realise his plan might backfire? He had a contingency plan allowing him to live through Tim Drake in the future, so did he know he might die at his hands? That would be the ultimate joke: It wasn’t Batman who killed him, it was himself!

    • I think he might have been prepared for batman killing him after seeing what joker did to his son. So the plan was to have Batman die at the hands of his son but also had another one that was pushing Batman hard enough to break his only rule & die getting that kind of victory

      • I have thought about that, and I think one of Joker’s goals from the beginning was to live on in Tim Drake. Regardless of whether or not Joker died there or not, Joker’s consciousness was eventually going to assert itself inside Tim and take over. It took nearly 50 years for Joker to become dominant over Tim’s psyche and make the “changes come at will”. If he had destroyed Tim’s mind, he probably could have taken over much sooner. In much the same way that Amanda Waller and to a point, Bruce, felt that the world needed a Batman, I’m sure Joker believed that the world needed him to give it a punchline.

        The Joker Junior idea was probably more of a way to push Batman’s buttons, and get Harley Quinn to cooperate. We’ve seen that Harley has her breaking point, and that away from the Joker, she is actually capable of living a normal life, maintaining healthy relationships and has a caring, nurturing side.

        The Joker, on the other hand, cares only about himself. He frequently abuses Harley, to the point of life-threatening injury, and loses his patience in mere seconds when Tim hesitates with the gun. Joker would be absolutely incapable of caring for a child.

        The way I look at it, the Joker’s intended punchline was that Batman would die at hands of his own family, who would some day become the reincarnation of his arch-enemy.

  7. Yes. It was the best Joker death. Because it was the second best Batman animated movie.

  8. That thumbnail…

  9. Devil's Advocate

    and it’s also fitting to have these scene resemble Death in the family because this version of Robin is actually a mix of both Tim Drake and Jason Todd.

  10. I love this scene from Return of the Joker. It has so much suspense and dark imagery.

    It doesn’t surprise me that Joker would make a big deal about Batman being Bruce Wayne. Frankly, Joker wouldn’t care at all, as he wants Batman to finally snap and kill him, breaking his cardinal rule.

  11. I like the idea Paul Dini shows in his Vertigo autobiography (yeah) “Dark Night – A true Batman Story”, ilustrated by the brilliant Eduardo Risso (from 100 Bullets).
    It was released last year and it is really good (i truly recommend it for everyone, specially who loves the animated show for all the backstage stories), and in it Dini displays one of his ideas on how he thinks Batman would kill the Joker: In a bizarre Schrödinger’s Cat way – Batman would imprison the Joker inside of the Batcave in a way he would never be able to see him, nor allow the Joker to leave – only hear the constant laughter – thus never being truly sure if he is either death or alive.

  12. I love the movie “Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.” I was 14 when this movie was first released, which was the time I started to watch some R-rated movies like the Terminator and RoboCop films, and this movie blew my freakin’ mind. I could feel my heart racing through this flashback sequence, with Tim Drake being turned into a Joker Junior, the chase through the ruins of Arkham Asylum, the film reel, and the eventual death of the Joker. And don’t even get me started on the shocking twist ending.

    I highly recommend anyone to not only watch the Batman Beyond TV series, but also the uncut version of this film.

  13. Even I admit, that scene alone got me off guard. And it really is the ultimate punchline for a great clown to go off on.

  14. The Uncut Version did.

  15. It’s weird seeing you talk about comics the week Linkara’s reviewing an old cartoon.

  16. Blaze The Movie Fan

    Great video, man.

  17. The scene where Terry laughed at the Joker was also pretty goood

  18. I didn’t know that the Joker had DIE died more than once. O.O If I ever have a lull in TV shows, I really need to catch up.

  19. Wait, how old was Jason Todd when he died?

  20. i prefer the dark knight returns’s joker death.

  21. I still consider BB: ROTJ to be my favorite animated Batman movie and one of my favorite animated movies period. From the death of the Joker to bringing back Tim drake, to having Terry defeat the Clown Prince of Crime by becoming his OWN batman! I just love this movie and, to me, the whole movie is as great as the Joker’s death scene.

    • Under the Red Hood is my close second, followed very closely by Mask of the Phantasm. (All three of these films have a lot of striking parallels, if you think about it).

  22. GreenGoblinsOckVenom86

    This was my favorite part of The Return of the Joker. Honestly as far as I’m concerned the 90s Batman cartoon will never be topped. I refuse to watch any Batman cartoon but that one and the appearances in Superman TAS and Justice League. The New Adventures of Batman and Robin is okay but not as good imo.

  23. SF Debris said something that makes this scene even better, he said that with this act the Joker turned all of Batman’s allies against him, he ruined his legacy before Terry came along and gave it back to him. Meanwhile there are entire gangs still around keeping the Joker name alive killing in his name. If Terry didn’t save his legacy Batman would’ve just become a myth and the Joker would always be remembered

  24. You forgot a detail that is also amazing. Paul Dini has said in an interview on the knife when joker stabbed bruce in the leg. he said he wanted to give more of a reason of why batman is on a cane and that pain not only mentally remember that moment of the joker but also physically remember him as well when he feels pain in that leg.

  25. Eh, I’m still gonna stick with Joker being, for lack of a better term, excorcised in Arkham Knight as better. It’s the pure terror of a world where Joker wins,that slow descent through his nightmares as you can hear his voice breaking as his confidence cracks, and that last screaming plead. And of course, Conroy delivering the perfect line to put him away forever.

  26. It is the perfect death, and the “present” story of RotJ also kills the resurrected Joker the best. Pity that the new comic continuity retconned it into non-existent and had the Joker apparently die in a generic truck crash (and then have multiple fakeouts of him not really being dead before revealing the truth in a cheap invocation of Death in the Family).

  27. nope, sorry the death in this movie is really Iconic to me but I still think the one in arkham city is actually better for me at least, no only it was shocking the dialogue shared in 2 minutes when batman is unsure to give the joker the cure for his illness perfectly sums up their destructive relationship and personalites:
    J: I killed your girlfriend, poison the city and hell is not even breakfast, but so what? we all know you’ll save me
    B: every decision you’ve ever made ends with death and missery, people die, I stop you and you just break out and do it again
    J: hahaha, think of it as a running gag *stabs him in the shoulder making bats drop the vial and shattering it* NOOOOOOO!!!! are you happy now?
    B: you wanna hear something funny? even after all you’ve done I would’ve saved you
    J: hahahahahahaha that actually is *cough* pretty funny hahaha
    in to minutes, joker’s psychotic nature, batman’s strong sense of justice, the consequences of their relationship, all of it perfectly summarized, add that to the fact that joker’s death was his own fault and that batman would be willing to save him literally minutes after he just murdered his love interest just makes this scene all the more powerful, ‘sides arkham paid homage to the most sacred of joker’s rules involving bats, he didn’t want to know his secret identity because it’ll spoil the fun.

  28. It was “Kill the Cook” originally.

  29. Gonna have to go with Dark Knight Returns. The 1986 comic (Which was not mentioned here DOUG!!!) Mainly because he got the last laugh on Batman and knew he was going to screw him in the end by killing himself

  30. I liked the entire movie. Not only the death scene but Terry fighting the joker mentally was brilliant and just watching the Joker break down just like he did to Bruce. That was good use of poetic justice.
    Also the mind thing was related to Cadmus. From what I remember hearing the same DNA manipulation technology stolen and used by the Joker was how Amanda Waller created Terry (as noted in Epilogue). The revived Joker and Terry were practically damned to fight each other.

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