The Joker Tattoo Has Many Meanings, but Here's Why A lot of People Get It


Dec. 13 2023, Updated 4:11 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • The Joker tattoo you see all over TikTok doesn't just mean one thing.
  • To some, the Joker tattoo represents a lack of love, abandonment, or even a lack of self love.
  • Others might get a Joker tattoo as a tribute to the character or to demonstrate their level of fandom.
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As one of the most popular superhero villains in pop culture, it's easy to see the Joker everywhere you look. Two different very serious actors have won Oscars for playing the role, and the character has become an omnipresent cultural figure.

Even with that omnipresence, though, there are some people who are surprised and confused by a trend on TikTok which involves people showing off getting tattoos of the Joker themselves. So, does the ink carry a significant meaning or are people just getting Joker tattoos because they're fond of the wide-smiled villain? We're breaking down the trend for you below.

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Jared Leto as the Joker covering his mouth with a tattooed hand.
Source: Warner Bros.

What does the Joker tattoo mean on TikTok?

The Joker tattoo has received a lot of interest on TikTok, where it's been searched for several million times. In early September 2022, TikTok user @short_mort posted a brief video in which he explained what the Joker tattoo means to him. That video has been viewed almost half a million times, and has received tens of thousands of likes.

In the video, he explains that "the joker tattoo means a lack of love, an abandonment/neglect withdrawn into oneself."

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Based on the comments under that video, though, it's clear that the Joker tattoo doesn't just mean one thing. Instead, it means something different to every person who gets it, although some people get it for similar reasons having something to do with acknowledging the darker side of life.

"Can I still get it if I just like the Joker?" one person asked in the comments, to which short_mort replied, "of course."

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The Joker is a foundational character in modern pop culture.

Thanks in part to his presence on screen, the Joker has become almost as iconic as Batman, the hero that he is most often battling against. Although Jack Nicholson's performance in the role in the 1989 film Batman is wonderful, the Joker's modern icon status really began when Heath Ledger took over the role in 2008. From there, the Joker became one of the most important characters in the flourishing world of comic book movies.

Since he was introduced, we've had versions of him pop up in Suicide Squad and again in Joker, which Joaquin Phoenix won an Oscar for. It's clear, then, that this is the kind of character that plenty of people might want tattooed on their bodies, even if their reasons for getting the tattoo vary pretty widely. Even if people share a tattoo, it seems that tattoos remain a pretty individualized and personal thing.

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Tattoos have become increasingly popular on TikTok.

Tattoos have gained significant popularity on TikTok, largely due to the numerous users showcasing their impressive ink on the platform. Videos featuring the #tattoo have received billions of views on the platform, so it's clear that, as is the case with many things on TikTok, there's a certain segment of people that are very interested in ink.

TikTok can be great for finding inspirations for your own tattoos, or for just admiring what other people have done. At its best, it allows people to celebrate one another without judgment. Whether you like someone's ink or not, TikTok is a place for everyone to share theirs.

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