Number 1: The Joker – DC Comics, Batman (created by Jerry Robinson, Bill Finger, and Bob Kane)

If anyone could top the evil of Pennywise, it’s the Clown Prince of Crime. No one is safe from this smiling madman. He is one of the oldest popular villains around and is immediately recognized around the globe.

image courtesy of DC comivs

He is society’s cancer, the black rot in the soul of Gotham, and he is the ultimate answer to the Batman’s heroic crusade. He reveals the worst side of all of us as he marches along in his one-man parade of chaos and death in order to prove the pointlessness of all life.

Although The Joker does not star in what we would consider horror comics, his origins have very deep roots in horror history. He was heavily inspired by the nightmarish performance of Conrad Veidt in the chilling silent film – The Man Who Laughs (1928). The movie was very influential in the look for The Joker, as was the Joker playing card, which – let’s face it – is pretty unnerving anyway.

image courtesy of DC comics

Even though The Joker is mostly identified with comic books rather than horror, there is absolutely no other comic book figure (good or evil) who has a more violent past or blood-stained legacy. There are some truly hideous things The Joker has done in DC that not even Chucky or Leatherface can brag about.

The Joker has skinned a man alive in the graphic novel The Joker (Brian Azzarello), and once knocked on Commissioner Gordon’s front door only to shoot his daughter (Barbara Gordon, aka Batgirl) point blank and crippling her – to only then force James Gordon to look at pictures of his naked and crippled child lying helplessly in her own blood. This isn’t even the tip of the iceberg of the mayhem The Joker is capable of, my friends.

image courtesy DC comics, ‘Death of the Family’

More recently in DC’s dark history The Joker had his face cut off – willingly! He then returned to Gotham one year later and wore his old pealed-off face like a disgusting Halloween mask as he released a brave new onslaught of insanity upon the entire Bat family in one of my absolute favorite comic stories, Death of the Family.

Honestly there could be a whole other list dedicated primarily to the insidious crimes committed by The Joker. Yes, his evil is worthy of a place on our esteemed horror site, and sounds like a possible future endeavor. So stay tuned, dear readers.

So there you have it, friends. My personal favorite scary or evil clowns. Which ones are yours? Please let us know in the comments below!

So the show’s over. The curtain closes. And as you walk away from this insidious spectacle be sure to keep an eye on the shadows around you. You never know what’s smiling out in the dark.