Joker (ジョーカー, Joker) is the codename used by the protagonist of Persona 5. Although Joker's civilian name is given by the player in Persona 5 itself, in the anime adaptation, most future medias such as spin-off Persona 5: Dancing in Starlight, promotional material for Persona 5 Royal and Persona 5 Strikers' respective Western releases, and his amiibo description, he received the default name Ren Amamiya (雨宮 蓮, Amamiya Ren); the original manga adaptation also gives him the one-off name Akira Kurusu (来栖 暁, Kurusu Akira).
Ren Amamiya is the leader of the vigilante group known as the Phantom Thieves. After being falsely accused of assault, he was labeled a delinquent and moved to Tokyo, Japan to attend Shujin Academy as part of his probation while under the care of café owner Sojiro Sakura. While there, he discovers a strange application on his smartphone but brushes it off for the time being. After a chance encounter with fellow outsider Ryuji Sakamoto over their lecherous gym coach Suguru Kamoshida, they discover that the app is actually a conduit to a parallel reality called the Metaverse. This “cognition” is the manifestation of an individual’s twisted desires into a dream-like fantasy. In this case, Kamoshida sees himself as the king of the academy and treats the rest of the students and faculty like slaves. Wanting no part in this reality, Ren rebels against the oppression of King Kamoshida and awakens his Persona, donning the mask and cloak of "Joker".
Joker is a user of a rare Persona ability known as the Wild Card, which allows him to hold multiple Personas at once. The Metaverse Navigator app and other aid in managing Joker's Personas is provided by Igor, the proprietor of the Velvet Room (a recurring feature of the Persona series). Igor warns Joker that ruin is imminent and that his "rehabilitation," facilitated by himself and the twin wardens Caroline and Justine, is the only way to avoid this ruination.
Joker's initial Persona is Arsène, based on the literary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. Joker awakens Arsène in order to save Ryuji in Kamoshida's palace. While attempting to escape, the pair meet a catlike creature named Morgana, who also possesses a Persona, Zorro, and mentors Joker in the use of Personas. Upon return trips to the palace, Ryuji awakens his own Persona, Captain Kidd, and the group is inadvertently joined by another of Kamoshida's victims named Ann Takamaki and her Persona, Carmen. Under guidance from Morgana, the group sends Kamoshida a calling card, announcing themselves as the Phantom Thieves of Hearts, causing a treasure to manifest in the palace. The successful defeat of Kamoshida's Shadow, and theft of the treasure, results in a change of heart in the real Kamoshida.
Following this success, the Phantom Thieves pursue other targets, typically corrupt adults who victimize the young, gaining a large following and reputation. Over the course of their exploits, the group grows to include artist Yusuke Kitagawa (whose Persona is Goemon), student council president Makoto Niijima (whose Persona is Johanna), reclusive hacker Futaba Sakura (whose Persona is Necronomicon), heiress Haru Okumura (whose Persona is Milady), and briefly the detective Goro Akechi (whose Personas are Robin Hood and Loki), who tries to stop the group in an attempt to arrest them. Ultimately, they end up exposing and ending a conspiracy to elect the corrupt politician Masayoshi Shido to the position of Prime Minister of Japan, who, through sheer coincidence, was the very same person who falsely accused the protagonist initially. Soon afterward, they discover that the conspiracy was masterminded by the god-like being Yaldabaoth, who sought to merge the Palaces and the real world so it might seize control of both of them. After a long and desperate struggle, they banish the false god and free humanity from its control.
In the Royal edition, the Phantom Thieves’ battle is not yet over, as they are trapped by Shujin doctor Takuto Maruki, who uses his two Personas (primarily Adam Kadmon, and secondarily Azathoth) to warp reality in order to fulfill everyone's peaceful desires and create a world that sacrifices strife and progress for empty happiness. Joined by Akechi, who is now exclusively using Loki instead of Robin Hood, and gymnast Sumire Yoshizawa (whose Persona is Cendrillon), the Phantom Thieves return to the Metaverse to steal Maruki's heart. After a one-on-one fist fight between Joker and Maruki, the Thieves manage to save and redeem Maruki, who starts over as a taxi driver and helps Joker and Morgana return home safely while evading government surveillance.
In the game Persona 5 Strikers, a new Metaverse threat arises during the thieves’ summer vacation, in the form of a new app called EMMA developed by Madicce (and secretly backed by the last Conspiracy loyalist, Jun Owada). The Phantom Thieves are joined by a sentient female A.I. named Sophia (whose Persona is Pandora, but is initially in a pre-Persona-state known as Pithos) and a family man fair cop, Zenkichi Hasegawa (whose Persona is Valjean), before their time is at its limit due to being suspects in this new crisis. The Phantom Thieves soon discovered that Kuon Ichinose had been manipulating the events and made her realize that she was unknowingly serving the Demiurge (a true form a sentient EMMA) into stealing humanity's desires. With the Demiurge destroyed, a reformed Ichinose departs with her "daughter" Sophia, the death of Zenkichi's wife has been avenged thanks to a testimony by former Madicce CEO Akira Konoe, ensuring Owada's arrest, and the Phantom Thieves disband once again.
As a playable character
Main article: Joker (SSBU)
Joker was confirmed to appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as a playable character on December 6th, 2018 during The Game Awards 2018. He is the first DLC fighter to be part of Fighters Pass Vol. 1. He was released on April 17th, 2019 along with Mementos, its 11 music tracks, and several Persona series Spirits as part of Challenger Pack 1.
Masahiro Sakurai, in a video interview at Atlus, revealed that he had been a longtime fan of the Persona series ever since Revelations: Persona was first released on the original PlayStation. He played Persona 5 in his spare time and was continuously impressed by the stylish user interface. It was this initially strong impression that inspired him to try to capture the sense of style in Joker's moveset and the mechanics of Mementos.
Names in other languages