Joker: Why Arthur Fleck Doesn’t Kill Sophie


Joker left many questions, among those whether Arthur killed Sophie or not. Now that it’s confirmed that he didn’t, here’s why he let her live.

One of the biggest questions Todd Phillips’ Joker leaves viewers with is whether or not Arthur killed his neighbor, Sophie — and if not, why didn’t he? As superheroes continue to dominate the film industry, anti-heroes and villain-centered movies have also been taking over — though none as successful as 2019’s Joker. The DC origin story offers a freshly crafted version of the Batman series’ most infamous villain.

Joker introduces Joaquin Phoenix’s Arthur Fleck, a stand-up comedian who turns to a life of crime in Gotham City after being constantly rejected by society. It also addresses themes like mental health, gun control, class disparity, abuse, and the media’s influence on society. Of course, this also means that the piece has a much darker tone than many other comic book character-based films. Joker was surrounded by controversy, even before its release. Theaters all over took special measures to ensure everyone’s safety, though all the buzz only ended up contributing to the movie’s box office success. Joker was very well-received by its audiences and has been a big topic of discussion since it hit the big screen, mostly due to all of the ambiguous and unresolved elements in it.

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Among those is the fate of Sophie (Zazie Beetz), Arthur’s neighbor who’s believed (by both his character and viewers) to be in a relationship with him for a good chunk of the film. One of the biggest twists in the story is the reveal of some parts of Arthur’s life being all in his head, including his romance with her. The two do interact in the elevator early on, but everything after that is part of Arthur’s imagination within Joker; it never really happens. This is revealed when he enters Sophie’s apartment unannounced. Her reaction is one of fear, and she approaches him with caution. Arthur then leaves, and Sophie doesn’t appear again. For a while, fans were buzzing as to whether or not the anti-hero kills his sweet-seeming neighbor or not.


A Joker Deleted Scene Reveals Arthur Fleck Didn’t Kill Sophie


Joker Arthur and Sophie walking down the street

After Todd Phillips spoke out on the matter himself and the film’s official script was released online in 2019, it was eventually confirmed that Arthur didn’t kill Sophie in Joker. Luckily, her character was initially supposed to show up again in a deleted scene where she’d watch Arthur’s murderous appearance on Live With Murray Franklin. She and her daughter were written to react to the episode’s events and their aftermath with horror as they watch them unfold on TV.

Why Arthur Fleck Doesn’t Kill Sophie In Joker


Joker Sophie Dumond smiling

Though he and his behavior are severely disturbed throughout Joker, Arthur Fleck’s many killings aren’t as random as they might seem. In the violence he wields (though it is in no way justifiable), there are a beaten-down man’s attempts to give up on a conventional life within society and even the score in a sick sort of way. To this point, his first three victims are the drunken Wayne Enterprises businessmen who harassed and beat the protagonist on the subway. Later, after learning the truth about his mother and their horrifying past together, he kills her at the hospital. And while preparing for Murray’s show, he kills his former co-worker, Randall. While Arthur spares his other former colleague, Gary (who’s with Randall when he’s murdered), the latter character is presumably killed for his part in getting Arthur fired. Though heinous, these examples do make “logical” sense from the perspective of Joker’s unwell main character.


Additionally, the way Arthur spares Gary (even verbally acknowledging that he’s doing so because the man always treated him well), is the other half of the equation for why he lets Sophie live. She was nice to him in the elevator, and she even treats him with respect and offers to help him when he scarily shows up in her apartment. Unlike many other people in his life, Sophie’s behavior toward Arthur is never mean or wrong. For this simple reason, just like Gary, Arthur lets his neighbor live.

Related: Only One Batman Villain Deserves The “Joker” Treatment

Why Todd Phillips Cut Sophie’s Scene In Joker


It’s an interesting creative choice to omit the Joker movie scene that confirms Sophie’s survival after her illusion-shattering interaction with Arthur in her living room. According to a 2019 article from IGN, “Phillips noted that he cut Sophie’s reaction moment specifically because it broke with the film’s motif of always keeping things from Arthur’s perspective. This would have been a moment away from Arthur and away from people he was directly dealing with.”


This is very true: Joker’s story is that of Arthur Fleck and his own subjective experiences, no matter how unreliable and/or dreamed-up they may be. In fact, since its release, there’s been a fair amount of debate about what did actually happen in the film. After all, if Arthur’s entire relationship with Sophie is a fantasy, how much of Joker can be seen as objectively real or true? Of course, the pursuit of that answer is not the point of the piece — which is why it makes sense that Todd Phillipps ultimately decided to cut the scene that proves Arthur didn’t kill Sophie. It’s a better choice to keep the former character as the focal point; proving his neighbor’s well-being when she isn’t relevant to his story anymore would muddy that up a bit.


Next: Joker Theory: Arthur Never Left Arkham Asylum (The Movie Is His Fantasy)

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