Most villains who take on an alias do so to hide their real names or to show they have become the villain or whatnot.

What about the Joker? I know he has a real name because he wasn't always the Joker, but is it ever revealed in any comics?

  • 18
    Actually, I DO know the answer, but if I told you he'd kill me.
    – Jeff
    Commented Oct 14, 2011 at 20:13
  • @Jeff Don't worry, it'd be kept secret...
    – user931
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 9:37
  • 8
    Joseph "Joe" Kerr.
    – Oldcat
    Commented Jul 2, 2014 at 20:54
  • 1
    His real name is Riddler - it's a joke he has with the Riddler, whose real name is Joker ;) Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 4:36
  • 2
    Knowing DC naming conventions it's something like Merry McLaughlin.
    – Zikato
    Commented Aug 12, 2015 at 6:03

6 Answers 6


The Joker has had more backstories than most people have had t-shirts.

He has a multiple-choice past. (TV Tropes link. You are warned.)

The Joker holding three playing cards marked with a J. One of the cards shows a man in a purple suit standing at a microphone. The second shows a man in a black suit holding a gun. The third shows a man with his face covered by a red hood. The Joker says "Pick a card. Any card." Speech boxes then say "Okay, so, there's this comic who can't make an audience laugh... I think that's how this one goes, I forget sometimes..." "Oh, you've heard that one? All right." "Ah, I can't keep them all straight. How about the one where a mob killer named Napier comes to Gotham and..." "No, wait, you're too young for that one." "I know. This one always works. So a small-time yutz in a red hood walks into a factory, right?" "He's there to steal the payroll." A background of three playing cards marked with a K. One shows Batman standing above as someone falls into a vat of green liquid. One shows the Joker holding his hair while waist-deep in liquid. One shows the Joker shooting a gun at Batman that says "Bang! You're dead" as Batman falls. Speech boxes say "But then this giant flying rodent knocks him into a vat of chemical waste... (or maybe he just fell)..." "...anyway, either way, he really, really wishes he remembered how to swim." "Next thing he knows, he's been spit out into the reservoir, where... get this..." "Those nasty, nasty chemicals have turned his face white and his hair green!" "On the plus side, however, he's been given a lo-o-ovely smile!" "It's also created in him a deep, deep disdain for urban bats, so he murders the biggest one in all of Gotham." "Or maybe he hasn't yet. I'm not sure." Then is a picture of the Joker shuffling a bunch of cards and saying "It always depends on how you shuffle deck." "What, not laughing yet? Just wait 'til I get to the punch line. It'll kill you. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA"

The above pictures show 3 of the histories the character has had, and they aren't even the tip of the iceberg.

He certainly had a real name, but he's so far gone that I doubt he remembers it himself. Most tragically, in one issue of Justice League, the Martian Manhunter takes Batman's psyche to the one place that no one will ever think to look for him (they're being hunted by someone) - the deepest, darkest place in Joker's mind. In it is just one man, who is terrified and alone, not sure where he is or who he is. It's implied this is all that remains of Joker's sanity.

  • If I remember that particular comic, then these three are not mutually exclusive pasts he is showing us. In which case he has more of a "Mix-and-Match" past.
    – SteveED
    Commented Feb 27, 2012 at 22:53
  • 43
    stack exchange needs one of those landing pages for tvtropes link. "You are now leaving stack exchange and entering tvtropes. click [OK] to forfeit the remainder of your afternoon."
    – KutuluMike
    Commented Jul 23, 2012 at 14:52
  • 3
    Must not click on the link, must not click on the link, must not click on the link, must not click on the link...
    – user8719
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    @mh01: What's the matter....chicken?
    – Jeff
    Commented Apr 19, 2013 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Chronicle: TVTropes is a time-sucker for 99% of people. Once you enter, you lose hours.
    – Jeff
    Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 12:55

As mentioned in the above answers, there's not a definitive answer. In the "A Death in the Family" storyline, there's a point where Batman scares The Joker into running by implying that he knows The Joker's real name, which he'll reveal, breaking the mystery.

At the end of that storyline, it's revealed that Batman was bluffing and he still has no idea.

The closest we've come to a canonical answer is in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight issue #50 where a man, Melvin Reipan, is introduced as an idiot savant who actually invents Joker Venom. He addresses The Joker as "Cousin Ja—" before being cut off. Note that "Reipan" is "Napier" backwards and the form of address suggests that The Joker might have a first name of Jack.

But, of course, Melvin dies partway through the issue, so the truth of the matter will likely never be known.

DC claimed that The Joker's real identity will be revealed in issue #50 of DC's Justice League comic on May 25, leading from the revelation in issue #42 where Batman sat on the Mobius Chair where Batman himself learned the identity, but did not reveal it.

Batman on the Mobius Chair

The answer there was... not actually a direct answer. Instead, it told him that there were three Jokers, but did not give him names.

3 Jokers3 Jokers


We don't know, and neither does Batman. The name plate on the Joker's cell in Arkham Asylum, in the graphic novel The Killing Joke reads "Name Unknown":

enter image description here

(Note that Two-Face's cell reads "Dent H.", highlighting the fact that the Joker's name is a mystery)


In the 1989 Batman Film, The Joker's real name is shown to be Jack Napier. We know this because if you watch the first Batman movie, Batman has a file on Jack Napier because he sees the Joker on his way to where his parents died and recognises his face from when he accidentally let go of Joker in the chemical factory.

The original screenplay explicitly refers to him by this name;

JACK NAPIER : Decent people shouldn't live here. They'd be happier someplace else.

JACK NAPIER is right-hand man and chief enforcer to BOSS CARL GRISSOM.

As well as showing us a copy of his pre-Joker "mug shot"; Hand holding posters that say "WANTED: Jack Napier"

  • 11
    This answer only applies to the 1989 Batman film, the question asks about the Joker's identity in the comics
    – Monty129
    Commented Dec 31, 2013 at 21:59
  • 1
    It's worth noting that the movie also has Napier killing the Waynes. In the comics it's a man named Joe Chill who did the deed.
    – Machavity
    Commented Mar 30, 2016 at 2:18

The Joker's name has been officially* confirmed as "Jack Oswald White" in the comic Flashpoint Beyond #5

enter image description here

* Note that future comics will almost certainly retcon, ignore or outright contradict this factoid.


I read a lot of information, a lot of ideas but.. maybe the answer is there, in front of us.

What do we know so far? The Joker was a man who was forced to be the red hood to make a crime, there is information that he maybe was a criminal in the past. "There were three", well, what if the joker in the beginning was a criminal, running from his past, then he decided to change his life getting married and having a normal life, but everything went wrong and after the accident he became the Joker.

Their identities? Jack Napier (the criminal), Melvin Repian (the comedian), Red Hood (the man who lost everything).

It's just a theory but it make sense.

  • 1
    This does not answer the question.
    – Blackwood
    Commented Jun 19, 2017 at 2:51

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