I was watching the ending of Return of the Joker where Terry fights the Joker one-on-one. Towards the end of the fight Terry says something that caught my attention:

So you fell in a tank of acid, got your skin bleached, then decided to become a super villain. What, you couldn't get work as a rodeo clown?

For reference:

at 2:43

Which is odd. I'm not familiar with Batman: The Animated Series ever dedicating itself to one specific Joker origin, let alone The Killing Joke. In fact it runs kind of counter-intuitive to the peek at the Joker's origin from Mask of the Phantasm where

The Joker was an ex-mobster working with Sal Valestra.

Did The Animated Series ever confirm that Joker became a villain after falling in a vat of acid?

  • Bear in mind that the Joker is an unreliable narrator, "...if I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice!" - The Joker, The Killing Joke. Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 12:53
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    How are these at odds? Combined, this matches up fairly well with the Burton Batman. He was a mid-level gangster who is out on a job, and falls into a vat of chemicals, leaving him deformed.
    – phantom42
    Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 13:23
  • @DavidThomas that's the point, though. This is Terry talking, not Joker. And Terry is a more reliable narrator that even Bruce in many respects. Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 16:04
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    That's true, but from whom did he discover the Joker's origin? If it was the Joker (even if related via a third party) then my point stands. As the Joker's pre-Joker character is often anonymous I'm not sure that there are any facts available save for those originating from the Joker himself. Commented Jun 19, 2016 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


In the "The New Batman Adventures" episode "Beware the Creeper," news reporter Jack Ryder does a story on the Joker at the Ace Chemicals factory, where we see a recreation (with actors) of Batman punching Joker into the acid vat. It's unclear whether this is a dramatization (it seems out of character for the DCAU Batman to purposely knock someone into a potentially-deadly tank of chemicals), aka maybe the Joker fell instead of being punched, but regardless, this is the closest we get to an answer. This is, of course, post-involvement with the Valestra gang.


When pre-joker or also known as the Red Hood fell into the chemicals and the Ace Chemicals plant the chemicals bleached his skin white, made his hair green, and made his lips bright red(al though in some litterations the bright red lips is just lipstick). The day he fell in there chemicals vat was also the day he lost his wife and unborn child to the mafia. The disfigurement from the accident drove him mad, in a way he sort of hates himself or hated himself because of the disfigurement.

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    Hi, welcome to the site. You could improve this answer by naming the episode/s where this information was revealed, and posting a link to any relevant articles on said episode/s. You might also want to take the tour, to learn more about the site in general. Commented Jul 14, 2021 at 4:32

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