Every Harley Quinn actress, ranked worst to best

Harley Quinn in Batman the Animated Series
Image via Warner Bros.

Lady Gaga has been confirmed as the leading lady in the upcoming Joker sequel, Joker: Folie à Deux (literally ”Madness for Two”), and though her role hasn’t officially been named, DC fans are pretty convinced that the Artpop singer will be playing the Joker’s longtime henchwoman and paramour, Harley Quinn aka Dr. Harleen Quinzel.

Harley’s come a long way since she first debuted as a helpmate for The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series (1992) episode “Joker’s Favor.” In the thirty years since then, the character has gone on to become part of the official comic book canon of DC, has left her old boss Mister J to become an antihero in her own right, had multiple solo comic book titles, helmed her own major motion picture (more or less), and now stars in her own animated title, which is now entering its third season.

Over the last three decades, Harley has been portrayed by many actors in either live-action or animated versions. Let’s rank them worst to best.

8. Mia Sara (Birds of Prey TV series 2002)

Sara is a perfectly good actor and she may well have even been a great Harley Quinn were it not for the clunky writing and plot of this first attempt at a live-action Birds of Prey series. The original sources for the characters seemed to be held in contempt and Sara’s Harley ended up with little of her madcap flair and was instead portrayed as a calculating Lex Luthor-Esque super-genius with some serious psychological know-how. Definitely not one of the better versions of the character.

7. Francesca Root-Dodson (Ecco in Gotham)

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, odds are: it’s a duck. In Fox’s ostensible Gotham city origin series, Francesca Root-Dodson’s character “Ecco” wasn’t officially named Harley, but she wore a black and red outfit, with smeared clown makeup, referred to other characters as “Puddin”, and was obsessed with the Joker, so… what does that tell us? Root-Dodson had a good moment or so on the series but points off for the show not fully committing to the character. Forget it, Jake, It’s Gotham.

6. Melissa Rauch (Batman and Harley Quinn)

After playing the squeaky-voiced, but occasionally terrifying, Bernadette on The Big Bang Theory, Rauch seemed like a pretty good fit for the role of Harley. The Bronze actor had to do some heavy lifting on her part, as she played alongside original Batman: The Animated Series actors and fan-favorites, Kevin Conroy and Loren Lester, as Batman and Nightwing, respectively. While Rauch finds more than a few moments to shine, she’s held back by a so-so script. It would be interesting to see what she could do with better material.

5. Hynden Walch (Batman: Assault on Arkham / Batman: Hush and more)

Walch is an absolute legend in the voice acting field, having voiced Starfire in Teen Titans Go, Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time, and Yutaka Kobayakawa in Lucky Star, to name only a few of her many roles. She is also the current voice of Disney’s version of Alice (of Wonderland fame). Walch had the unenviable task of being the second actor to ever voice the character and took some unnecessary flak from fans because of it. Nevertheless, she’s gone on to voice the character several times in direct-to-video and video game projects.

4. Kaley Cuoco (Harley Quinn)

When it was first announced that Cuoco would be voicing Harley Quinn, there was a bit of backlash from The Big Bang Theory haters out there, but you won’t hear many naysayers nowadays. Cuoco has put her stamp on the character, like few others, and is arguably playing one of the most fully-realized Harleys with the ability to play in the adults-only sandbox of the newest Harley Quinn animated series — where she can curse, kiss whomever she wants, and even straight-up murder people. In three seasons, Cuoco has definitely become one of the most iconic Harleys.

3. Arleen Sorkin (Batman: The Animated Series)

Respect must be paid to the O.G. Harley. Sorkin not only originated the character’s voice in Batman: The Animated Series, she inspired the character as a longtime friend of B:TAS writer, Paul Dini. Just about every major signifier of the role, the voice, the manic energy, the goofball vibe, can be traced back to Sorkin. She is absolutely the DNA of Harley.

2. Margot Robbie

Like a few of the entries on our list, Robbie could have been held back by a poor script. But while the first Suicide Squad movie was something of a dud and even drew criticisms for Harley’s over-sexualized, booty-short-wearing appearance in the film, Robbie managed to make a workable purse out of a pig’s ear and became one of the stand out performances. She’s since gone on to appear as the character in 2020’s Birds of Prey and Suicide Squad‘s sequel The Suicide Squad (2021). Despite a rough start, she’s become a definite favorite in the DCEU fandom — to the extent that many are grumbling that she wasn’t cast in Joker: Folie à Deux.

1. Tara Strong

Although Strong wasn’t the first or second to voice Harley, she’s definitely gone on to conceive the post-Sorkin era gold standard and is generally the go-to choice for any animated project or video game featuring the character. While the prolific Strong is known to animation fans as the voice behind characters in RugratsThe Powerpuff Girls, and My Little Pony, her portrayal of Quinn in the Arkham video game series, and a myriad of other animated projects have made the character one of her most iconic roles.