Amid the recent turmoil at HBO Max, especially among DC Universe projects, many, including Harley Quinn executive producers Justin Halpern and Patrick Schumacker, were nervous that the hit adult animated series would be the next to get canceled. Instead, ahead of its season 3 finale, the series was renewed with Sarah Peters elevated to executive producer and will serve as showrunner for season 4.
“We were in the middle of production,” Schumacker tells ET, revealing the new episodes had already been written when they formally got the news about moving forward. “But what was a little touch and go was, you know, with things changing over at Warner Bros. Discovery. It did feel a little bit unclear what was gonna happen.”
“And when we got a call of reassurance not that long ago, we didn’t know the nature of the call initially, just that it was urgent. And I was like, ‘Oh, no. They’re gonna maybe just scrap it.’ But fortunately it was the opposite,” he continues. “The call we got was all positive vibes and all of that. But we were nervous.”
Despite the good news, “I’m still nervous. I still feel like it could go away at any second,” Peters admits, while Halpern quips, “That’s how I live my life.”
That said, all three feel confident about what they were able to create and produce this season with Harley Quinn (Kaley Cuoco) and Poison Ivy (Lake Bell) becoming Gotham’s new power couple while their team of misfit villains -- King Shark (Ron Funches), Clayface (Alan Tudyk), Frank the Plant (JB Smoove) -- worked toward Ivy’s desire of transforming the city into an Eden-like paradise. [Warning: Spoilers for the Harley Quinn season 3 finale.]
But this was no straightforward season as the new episodes revealed that Bruce Wayne (Diedrich Bader) was, in fact, the main antagonist, responsible for kidnapping Frank and creating a plant-based zombie apocalypse all so he could resurrect his long-dead parents. And in the end, it was Harley who saved the city from destruction, even if it meant disrupting Ivy’s flora-centric future, while the Joker (Alan Tudyk) hauled Batman off to jail.
“I was really sort of happy there wasn’t a ton of backlash about making Batman the antagonist this season,” Halpern says, admitting he “was a little worried about that.”
As he teased to ET at the beginning of the season, they “wanted to delve into all of the psyche behind someone who does what he does, right? And then also have that inform Harley and how she’s feeling about being a villain or a hero and where she kind of sits on that fence.”
As a result, season 3 was really about flipping the tropes of what it means to be heroes and villains, especially in a place like Gotham, with Harley herself becoming something of a hero, agreeing to join forces with Batgirl (Briana Cuoco), Robin (Jacob Tremblay) and Nightwing (Harvey Guillén). And moving forward, “at least starting out in season 4,” Schumacker says that “she aspires to be a hero” but the conflict is “whether or not she can make good on that remains to be seen,” especially as it conflicts with where Ivy is now, finally mastering her own villainy.
Despite now being on opposite ends of the superhero spectrum, Schumacker made good on his promise “that Harley and Ivy will maintain or will remain in a committed relationship.” Of course, that leaves a big challenge for the new showrunner moving forward. “Basically, we wanted to end season 3 and give Sarah the hardest possible task ever of just having a couple in a very intimate relationship and yet, their vocations are diametrically opposed,” he says.
For Peters, that means giving Harlivy “more to play off of than each other and see what the next phase of their relationship looks like,” she says, explaining that while “they do love each other so much and they wanna be together… [but] they are on different teams at the end here. And how is that going to affect their relationship, which is a priority [for the show].”
But that’s not the only cliffhanger of season 3, with Bane (James Adomian) still seeking vengeance for his unreturned gift, an expensive pasta-maker, that was given to Ivy and Kite Man (Matt Oberg) for their now-canceled wedding. The villain went through all the emotions during a Sex and the City-themed subplot that ran throughout the episodes. And as for what happens with that, Peters teases, “You’ll be happy.”
Following the tradition of character-centric episodes, first focused on Batman and then on Joker, Bane will be the focus of one in season 4. “Just speaking to the Bane thing, Sarah cooked up a really unique episode,” Schumacker says, revealing that “it’s kind of a romantic genre thing… I think you’re gonna be real happy with that one.”
“One of the reasons we think Sarah’s great and was our choice to run the show is because I feel like she hits that balance of taking big swings but within the context of the world. And I think that’s a really tricky thing for somebody to do and she does it so well,” Halpern says. “And so, it was one of those things where I knew her coming into season 4 was what I wanted. I wanted somebody to come in who was gonna take big swings, but also within the tone of the show, and she does that so beautifully.”
Not only that, but Halpern says that Peters is bringing a “freshness” and “new energy” to the series that’s needed to keep moving it forward, while Schumacker teases “that the scope is really ambitious this season as well.”
Not only that, there will be “way more tampon jokes,” Peters quips.