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Ranking Every Portrayal Of The Joker, From Worst to First

We rank every actor who's played the Joker.

Last week, we ranked the actors who have played Batman, so it's only natural to turn our attention towards his psychotic clown counterpart. The Joker is one of the most intriguing villains to ever exist, an enigma who stands for anarchy and pure chaos, as much of a mastermind as he is a psychopath. So, like anything good in this world, it needs to get ranked!


So, I know I say this every time, but these are my opinions. Just mine. Not Advocate Channel, or my lovely colleagues, just me. If you have issues with that, my Instagram handle is just my name with no spaces or caps, so DM me there and we can argue about how I don't understand the brilliance of Jared Leto's Joker.

13. Brent Spiner

I don't know what it was, I can't really put my finger on it, but this was bad. The Joker in general has far less duds than say, Batman, but this is really as close as the character gets to a dud. Playing the green-haired clown in Young Justice, Spiner didn't do a bad job, but it just felt off.

When you think of the Joker, you think completely unhinged over everything else. Spiner's take on the Joker was a cold, calculated, serial killer sort of character, whereas the Joker is someone we think of to desire chaos, and enact that chaos. If I wanted serial killers, I'd watch Criminal Minds. But when I want the Joker, I want the Joker.

No hate on the performance, but this interpretation was a little yuck.

12. John DiMaggio

This isn't fair to John DiMaggio. Especially because I love John DiMaggio. He's been Jake the Dog and Bender. That's a lot of clout. But as the Joker, it just wasn't as captivating as this other performances.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this adaptation, except that I feel DiMaggio's voice was too deep and gravelly for the clown, whose greatest intrigue, for me at least, is often an unkempt feminine side that seemed to disappear before our very eyes.

It is a unique take, and a good performance, just not one that resonated with me.

11. Kevin Michael Richardson

Kevin Michael Richardson deserves major props for succeeding Mark Hamill's long standing role as Gotham's favorite clown and holding his own. It's a strange but successful take on the Joker, almost reminiscent of Pennywise the Clown.

Is it good? Yes. Do I like it as much as others? No.

10. Jared Leto

This is risky, I know. But I just absolutely hated it. For someone who devotes themselves to roles and transforms their entire appearance and personality to personify the roles he plays, Leto's Joker just came out so flat. And boring. And meh. Granted, he had about four lines the entirety of Suicide Squad, but there was a reason Joaquin Phoenix was on the screen three years later and not Leto.

This was Heath Ledger's natural successor, too. A brooding, dark, method actor who would give anything for a role. I hope his portrayal in the sequel is better, but for right now, Leto gets the lowest ranking of any live action Joker and a fat thumbs down.

9. Alan Tudyk

Alan Tudyk did an amazing job with this role, but the focus was on Harley rather than him in the HBO series, so I won't over criticize him for lack of character depth. He's there to be a manipulative, misogynist pig, who also happens to be a psychotic killer clown. And he nails it.

Props for fitting the role perfectly and executing it very well, unfair points redacted for not being central enough as the Joker.

8. Zach Galifianakis

Galifianakis played The Joker in a brilliant satirical approach in the Lego Batman Movie.

I think, though, that while Galifianakis played a convincing Joker, and was often the butt of the joke, as he's so good at being, the voice was a little odd. This doesn't sound like a psychotic anarchist bent on domination of an entire city, that sounds more like Steve, your coworker who's too into pilsners.

7. Jeff Bennett

This is one of the more acclaimed Joker voiceovers out there. Bennett delivered a very unique take and voice on the character that completely paid off. He doesn't sound like your run of the mill killer clown, but his take on the voice delivers that same chill down your spine.

Great job. Just not as great as the rest of this list, but great job nonetheless.

6. Michael Emerson

The Dark Knight Returns was great, and Michael Emerson was great. Right on the heels of Heath Ledgers era defining performance, only to be followed by a decade of DC related disappointment, the Joker had to be played the right way. It couldn't be a rip off of Ledger, but it was far too early to completely ignore his performance either. And with no Ledger around to play Joker, Emerson took the reins and killed it.

This Joker is creepy. He's psychotic. He's unhinged, ruthless, everything you could ever want in a Joker. Bravo, sir.

5. Cesar Romero

The original 1966 Batman was iconic as it was ridiculous, and you needed someone good to fill the shoes of the killer clown opposite Adam West.

Enter Cesar Romero, the first on screen adaptation of the Joker who set the standard for the role to be the litmus test for incredible actors it is today. Well, that was more Jack Nicholson, but regardless, Romero delivered a performance no one would forget, and solidified the Joker as Batman's greatest nemesis.

The laugh, the odd mannerisms, the strange lack of sanity, everything was perfect.

4. Mark Hamill

If you're wondering why the voice of the Joker sounded so consistent from 1992-2011, it was because one man was behind it all. And not just any man, it was Luke Skywalker. He is the steadiest, most recognizable interpretation of the Joker out there.

Is it the best? No, but it is great. Does Hamill get acting brownie points for being Luke Skywalker? You bet he does.

3. Jack Nicholson

Jack Nicholson set the standard for which Joaquin Phoenix and Heath Ledger aspired when putting on the clown makeup. He's an incredible actor, obviously. At the time, it wasn't the respected role it is now, so this would be like if you got Sir Anthony Hopkins to play Elmo in a feature film. And yet, Nicholson delivered. And not only did he deliver, he perfected, and made Joker the icon he is today.

2. Joaquin Phoenix

I mean, what can I say? The only reason this wasn't #1 is because of Heath Ledger, and because this was more of a film than a superhero movie.

The mindset, the psychosis, the injustice, the societal commentary is everything Heath Ledger set it up to be a decade prior. Speaking of that,

1. Heath Ledger

Yeah, Heath Ledger is number one. Try and argue with me. I dare you.

This performance was captivating, world bending. It was what gave legitimacy to the superhero genre in our time.

I first saw The Dark Knightwhen I was eight years old, which explains a lot, but the point is, I watched this, and I could tell this was an incredible acting performance. And I was eight. I shouldn't have been able to tell. But that's the point. Everyone could tell. Incredible. Rest in peace to one of the greatest actors to ever live.

For more from Worst to First, click here.

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