The Harley Quinn Series DC Tries To Bury Away

By Sckylar Gibby-Brown | Published

Mia Sara as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey

Long before Margot Robbie absolutely slayed as Harley Quinn in the DCEU, there was another live-action Birds of Prey. The show was created in 2002 and released in the mix of other late 90s/early 2000s female-led fantasy TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed, but it didn’t manage to make the cultural impact that the other two did. Birds of Prey aired on The WB and followed Helena Kyle (Huntress), Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle), and Dinah Redmond, and it’s now available to watch for free on Tubi.

Birds of Prey, streaming for free on Tubi, was the first series to explore Gotham without a Batman.

While superhero content accounts for about half the shows and movies that are released nowadays, DC Comics has never been a stranger to the portrayal of its iconic characters on the big and small screens. One such attempt was Birds of Prey, an American superhero television series that tried to explore a Gotham City abandoned by Batman. Unfortunately, it didn’t do so hot, and DC has been trying to forget this series happened ever since.

Although the show garnered attention with its debut, it fell into obscurity due to a sudden cancellation that was the result of a very sharp audience decline. Unfortunately for studio executives who likely wish this series could be forgotten forever, and fortunately for DC fans who are hungry to grab at any content they can watch (even the bad stuff), the internet has preserved Birds of Prey for anyone to watch, as long as they don’t mind a few ads. 

Birds of Prey is set in New Gotham City, several years after Batman has seemingly left the scene. In his absence, Oracle (Barbara Gordon) and Huntress (Helena Kyle) have taken up the mantle of crime-fighting. Joining them are Dinah Redmond, a telepath with metahuman abilities; Alfred Pennyworth, who serves as Helena’s guardian; and Detective Jesse Reese, a cop thrust into a world of metahuman abilities he can’t explain.

Despite the low budget, or because of it, Birds of Prey developed a cult following, and it was included in the Arrowverse “Crisis on Infinite Earths” cross-over event.

Helena Kyle / Huntress is portrayed by Ashley Scott in Birds of Prey and is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman. She’s a half-metahuman with cat-like abilities inherited from her mother. She possesses enhanced agility, strength, healing, and a sixth sense for danger.

Barbara Gordon / Oracle is played by Dina Meyer in Birds of Prey. She was originally known as Batgirl before an attack by the Joker left her paralyzed. Still anxious to fight crime in any way she can, she reinvents herself as Oracle, a computer-savvy vigilante who relies on Helena for fieldwork.

Batgirl in Birds of Prey

Rachel Skarsten plays Dinah Redmond, a metahuman drawn to New Gotham by visions. In the Birds of Prey series, Dinah becomes an integral member of the three-woman team. She has precognitive dreams and telepathic abilities, and her journey reveals connections to the legendary Black Canary.

Other important characters in the series include Detective Jesse Reese (Shemar Moore), an honest police detective whose investigation into bizarre suicides leads him to the Birds of Prey. Initially disapproving of their vigilante activities, he eventually recognizes their necessity and even forms a romantic bond with Helena. Of course, Alfred Pennyworth (Ian Abercrombie) also makes an appearance as the loyal butler to the Wayne family, now serving Helena and Barbara. 

Birds of Prey debuted with a bang, attracting 7.6 million viewers during its premiere.

While Harley Quinn is not one of the Birds of Prey members, she makes an important appearance in the show. Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Mia Sara) is initially presented as a psychiatrist, with her criminal identity kept secret. As Joker’s lover and partner in crime, Harley Quinn is out for revenge on New Gotham, a plot point that is a significant part of the series arc.

Huntress in Birds of Prey

Birds of Prey debuted with a bang, attracting 7.6 million viewers during its premiere. This made it The WB’s most substantial premiere in the 18–34 demographic at the time. However, the show’s ratings sharply declined in the subsequent weeks, leading to its cancellation after just thirteen episodes.

The series, though relatively short-lived, garnered a dedicated fanbase. Its unique approach to Gotham, complex characters, and the overarching mystery of Dr. Harleen Quinzel’s involvement kept viewers intrigued. Despite its early cancellation, Birds of Prey remains a hidden gem for DC enthusiasts who appreciate its bold and unconventional take on the Batman universe.

Despite its untimely end, Birds of Prey continues to hold a special place in the hearts of fans who appreciate its daring approach. While it may not have achieved the iconic status of some other DC shows, it remains a testament to the creative and unconventional storytelling that comic book adaptations can offer. So, if you haven’t already, consider giving this 13-episode buried treasure a watch and immerse yourself in the mysterious world of Birds of Prey.