What Really Prevented Arthur Fleck from Killing Sophie in Joker

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.

A split image of Sophie and Arthur Fleck from Joker (2019)

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, 2019’s Joker offers a freshly crafted version of DC’s most famous Batman villain. Given the subject matter, it’s no surprise that the movie has a much darker tone than many other comic book character-based films. Part of the movie’s intrigue is in how it leaves some answers up to the imagination.

Among Joker‘s unanswered questions 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 that some of what’s been on screen is onlyin Arthur’s head, including his romance with Sophie. When the illusion is broken, Sophie’s reaction is one of fear. Arthur then leaves, and Sophie doesn’t appear again. It’s unclear as to whether or not the anti-hero kills his sweet-seeming neighbor.

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

A close-up of Zazie Beetz as Sophie Dumond smiling in Joker

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.

While there’s no way for audiences to know she survived just by watching the movie, all will be made clear soon. Beetz is set to reprise her role as Sophie in the cast of Joker: Folie à Deux. It’s possible that she’ll only appear in flashbacks, keeping her fate unofficial, but it seems much more likely that she’ll be in the movie in present-day and clarify her survival in the previous film.

Why Arthur Fleck Doesn’t Kill Sophie In Joker

Joaquin Phoenix's Joker on TV in 2019's Joker.

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.

Why Todd Phillips Cut Sophie’s Scene In Joker

Arthur Fleck in Joker makeup looking at himself in a mirror

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. Since its release, there’s been 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.

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