What is the third origin story about The Joker’s scars in The Dark Knight?

This week in my Character Development Keys class, yet another stellar session, our study script is The Dark Knight. In one of the many forum discussions, we were analyzing the story’s Nemesis figure: The Joker. The subject came up about the two stories Joker tells about his scars.

The first version he recounts to Gambol, the crime boss:

Wanna know how I got these scars? My father was a drinker and a fiend. And one night he goes off crazier than usual. Mommy gets the kitchen knife to defend herself. He doesn’t like that. Not. One. Bit. So — me watching — he takes the knife to her, laughing while he does it! Turns to me, and he says, “Why so serious, son?” Comes at me with the knife… “Why so serious?” He sticks the blade in my mouth… “Let’s put a smile on that face!” And… why so serious?

The second version he tells to Rachel:

Oh, you look nervous. Is it the scars? Wanna know how I got ‘em? C’mere, look at me. So, I had a wife, who was beautiful…like you, who tells me I worry too much, who tells me I oughta smile more, who gambles and gets in deep with the sharks… Hey. One day they carve her face. And we got no money for surgeries. She can’t take it. I just want to see her smile again. Hmm? I just wanted to let her know that I don’t care about the scars. So, I stick a razor in my mouth and do this… to myself. And you know what? She can’t stand the sight of me! She leaves! Now I see the funny side. Now, I’m always smiling!

There’s an obvious discussion to be had about these two. Obviously they both can’t be true, so which one is it? Or more likely, neither is. But then I got to thinking about the final struggle between Batman and Joker. And just before Joker is going to detonate the bombs on the ships, he says this:

Joker: Speaking of which, you know how I got these scars?

To which Batman replies:

Batman: No, but I know how you got these.

Then proceeds to assault Joker and send him tumbling ass over teacups off the skyscraper only to save the Bad Guy’s life. You can see the specific interchange at the 01:30 mark of this clip:

My question is this: What was Joker’s third story? What would he have told Batman had he had the chance? It might be fun for folks to take a whack at Joker’s third — unspoken — story.

To spice up things, how about a prize? I’ll do a 30 minute teleconference with the writer of the winning entry. If you have a story idea — logline or short treatment (no more than 2 pages) — we can discuss that. Or if you just want to talk about writing, we can do that, too.

For inspiration, you might start off with this interesting analysis on Reddit about the first two stories.

But what is that mysterious third story Joker started to tell? Put your creativity to work and concoct a story Joker might tell.

Let’s put a deadline on this: You have through midnight Pacific Daylight Time this Friday.

Speaking of which, you know how I got these scars…

There’s your prompt. Finish Joker’s third story.

Go!

UPDATE: I will announce the winners — yes, there are more than one! — tomorrow (Tuesday) right here on the blog.

Comment Archive

Written by

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store