Arleen Sorkin dressed up as a clown on Days of Our Lives.

Answer: Days of Our Lives

Introduced in September of 1992 via the Batman: The Animated Series cartoon, Harley Quinn—the Joker’s accomplice, girlfriend, and thoroughly quirky sidekick—is now a staple of the Batman franchise and a fan favorite.

While it might be easy to assume that the inspiration for the character was simply that the Joker, a sort of madcap characterization of a clown in his own right, should have a jester-like sidekick, after all, the inspiration for Quinn’s particular character is a bit more focused (and strange). Let’s stroll through the history of the character and how the woman who inspired Harley Quinn ultimately ended up voicing her character.

The Harley Quinn character was created by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm. Paul Dini was inspired by a surreal scene from an old Days of Our Lives episode wherein actress Arleen Sorkin appeared in a dream sequence dressed in a jester outfit. Dini drew on that scene to create Quinn’s costume and on Sorkin’s performance and personality to shape the character.

Further, Dini and Sorkin were old college friends, so when it came time to give Quinn a voice, Dini was able to call on Sorkin and enlist her help in bringing Harley Quinn to life with her signature highly animated and childlike speech.

She went on to voice Quinn as a core recurring character in Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures, and Gotham Girls, as well as appearing in Static Shock and Justice League. She also, naturally, voiced the character in multiple video game adaptations over the next twenty-plus years.

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