I have no doubt that I am not the first person to ask this question and will by far not be the last, but who has played the best Joker throughout all the various mediums the Clown Prince of Crime has been portrayed?
One could make a case for many of them and obviously personal choice is the ultimate deciding factor.
I am a die hard Marvel fan, but just because I don't read any DC titles regularly, doesn't mean that I don't have a great deal of respect for many of the DC characters. By far, Batman is one of the best characters in all of comicdom and in my opinion, a lot of that has to do with the quality of his rogue's gallery. And when you think Batman, how can you not almost automatically think of the Joker?
While showing up in countless animated series, video games, and movies I think we can all agree that four people really have been stand outs as the Joker. All have their good points, while some have their drawbacks as well.
Cesar Romero- While obviously not the most deranged Joker out there (besides not shaving his mustache making it visible under his make-up), Romero brought a certain fun to the campy 1960's Batman TV show. Being the anti-Batman in a way, Romero's over-the-top cackling added a certain charm to a campy, but loveable TV classic.
Jack Nicholson- Nicholson, a fantastic actor, brought the true essence of the Joker's deranged mind to the screen in Tim Burton's 1989 film "Batman". Combining the ruthless mob-boss, psychopathic killer, and deadly humor, this Joker set the bar high for future actors. Besides also being the thug that killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, this Joker brought us the often quoted line "Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?"
Mark Hamill- Luke Skywalker took on the voice of the Clown Prince during the 1990's beginning in the amazingly done "Batman: The Animated Series". While not able to fully explore the depths of the Joker's twisted psyche, Hamill was able to still bring forth an amazing blend of crazed madman and calculating mastermind. No wonder he continued voicing the character in many more animated DC shows.
Heath Ledger- The Academy Award winning performance by the late Ledger is considered by many to be the best portray of the Joker ever. Ledger by far was able to capture the twisted anarchist that the Joker is even without the over the top use of gimicky "toys". He was able to bring his own brand of chaos to Gotham City that truly tested the Dark Knight to his limits. The only unfortunate thing about Ledger's Joker is that we will never again be able to enjoy it.
So, while I know that many others have played the Joker and played him well (I personally enjoyed Jeff Bennett on "Batman: The Brave and the Bold"), these four actors to me are some of the best. Depending on my mood, I could easily pick either Mark Hamill or Heath Ledger as my favorite (or occasionally Nicholson, but probably not Romero). I only hope that we continue to see actors, writers, and directors who pay the proper respect to one of the greatest villains of all time!