I have seen Harley Quinn and Joker together so many times in Batman: The Animated Series. Now waiting for Suicide Squad. I want to know a bit more about their relationship in the existing TV shows they appear in. Specifically, does the Joker really love Harley or is he just playing games?
Yes. And Yes.
The Joker has been characterized as psychopathic/sociopathic paramour to Harley Quinn in many mediums. Different shows have different takes on the relationship, from actual love to purely psychopathic control. As the Joker is the epitome of an unreliable narrator, nothing he says can be taken at face value. As he says regarding how he became the Joker:
I... I'm not exactly sure what it was. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another... If I'm going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! Ha ha ha!
-The Killing Joke
He could actually love, or feel romantically inclined towards Harley one second, and the next he couldn't give a flying bat about her. Sometimes he actually fears her. In any case, it's always, always domestically abusive, and he starts the relationship by manipulating her in the flashback of The New Batman Adventures adaptation of Mad Love, but earlier episodes have different views. Batman obviously doesn't think Joker can love anyone, and painfully explains many things to Harley. She doesn't believe it (Battered Spouse Syndrome).
But the Joker is also willing to compromise for what she wants, even as going as far as kidnapping Robin to make a "family" as seen in Batman Beyond.
The Suicide Squad animated movie Assault on Arkham has him showing anger that she's found someone new. But it ends up being an less than honest double play.
Newer material puts a very much darker twist on the relationship than the original cartoon. In the comics, they are no longer together. Violently.
That said, there was the time Harley wanted to kill him, almost did if it wasn't for the fake gun, and Joker just turned around and said he loved her instead of hitting her.
It's also done in the comics. One issue of The Batman Adventures Vol. 2 (In continuity with the Bruce Timm Batman cartoons) has Harley inheriting a fortune, so the Joker does a bunch of things so that he can legally marry her and plans on killing her after for the money, but turns out she set the whole thing up so he would do just that, planning on telling him after getting married so he won't kill her any more. It works. He thinks its Romantic. Batman is not amused.
In short, because of the Joker's psychopathic state, we can never know, and it's always up to the writer of the version you are watching. Joker's feelings towards Harley varies from love to "she's entertaining" to "she's useful".
No he doesn't. The sucide squad just glamoured their abusive relationship. Joker doesn't love anyone. He is only obsessed with Batman. The Arkham games touch on this. As well as a Death in the Family comics. Frank Miller and Grant Morrison have also shown how Joker is perverse in a semi-homoerotic fixation with Batman. For those who still doesn't understand Harley/ Joker need to read Mad love. Joker and Harley relationship is only to show how abusive and controlling he is. The animated series is to highlight how a phycopath can get advantage of a girl who blames herself when she doesn't please a man.
The suicide squad and any attempt to make Joker/Harley about "he beats her but deep down he loves her" doesn't understand how deep and rich Harley Quinn character truly is. The movie is a bad representation of Harley and Joker relationship. In her true character form she loves him, and he takes advantage of this to escape justice and use her. Harley Quinn is Paul Dini and Bruce Timm creation, the way they have always written her has never shown Joker truly caring about her at all.
Sorry old post, but I felt I needed to answer you. Whomever read this don't get fooled by the movie. Is already bad enough that young people today think violence is awesome and normal, and now to let them think abusive relationships like Harley and Joker are the new cool fashion just destroys the intent of Harley Quinn's character. This is my personal opinion though, but my answer above about the comics you can search on Google.
Joker can love and I believe he loves Harley. Some guys are very bad at showing emotions but, that doesn't mean they don't love anyone. A lot of people think that since Joker is a psychopath, and anyone who is a psycopath automatically can't love anyone. That is not true. Just because someone is different than how you or me act doesn't mean they can't love. Some people say I am mean that doesn't mean I don't love my boyfriend. Joker does love harley he just doesn't really do emotions. How many times has joker saved Harley? think about it before you assume.
In the movie he makes her fall in a vat of whatever because she kept bothering him about going out. He almost leaves but I'm guessing something in his head tells him to save her. Also the Joker risks his life to save her from being apart of the squad and breaks her out of jail. In a confusing scene the artist Common plays a part, in which Joker gives Harley to Common. And when he refuses saying he doesn't want "beef" and "that's your lady Joker" Joker kills him.