It’s not a great thing to be Batman’s protege. You get shot at, blown up, killed, and — like Menudo, the Boy Scouts, or the Disney Channel — you get kicked out once you get too old. Robin is little more than a brightly colored sprite for criminals to shoot at instead of Batman, much like how a magician would use a sexy assistant to distract the audience. Except this sexy assistant is (usually) a nubile young boy, and stands a much better chance of actually getting sawed in half.

Robin has been part of the Batman mythos for 70 years. Even in real time, that means Batman must have gone through a slew of supple young teens by now. But in comic time? Hoo boy.

So just how many goddamn Robins are there anyway? (And why isn’t Batman clever enough to think of another alias for his underage sidekicks?)

Dick Grayson
First Appearance: Detective Comics #38

Richard Grayson was the third wheel in his parents’ Flying Graysons circus act. That is, until Boss Zucko sabotaged the Graysons’ trapeze in an attempt to extort protection money from the circus owner. Dick’s parents plummeted to their deaths right in front of the poor kid’s eyes. Batman stopped the grief-stricken moppet from getting himself killed, using his desire for revenge to train Dick as his first crime-fighting protege.

In some stories, Dick’s origin as a Flying Grayson served as an excuse for his super-gaudy, super-FABoulous outfit as Robin. Sometimes Batman recruited him right away, sometimes Dick stumbled onto the Batcave and demanded to train by Bruce’s side. Either way, writers got sick of him (and constant innuendo that he and Bruce were super-duper-gay) after 30 years; Dick was sentoff to college, and to the back pages of Detective Comics, in 1969.

In 1984, Dick hung up his elf boots for more muted colors (and actual leg coverings!), taking up the new identity of Nightwing. Why Nightwing? Well, it depends on which side of the Crisis on Infinite Earths you’re on. The short answer was that it was an homage to Superman; Nightwing is one half of the Nightwing/Flamebird duo who are a Batman and Robin analogue in Superman stories that have cropped up over the last few decades. Whatever lifts your luggage, kid.

This redundancy has not gone unnoticed. Dan Didio has revealed that Dick was originally on the chopping block during Infinite Crisis, since — he joked — Dick has aged so much by now that he’s even older than Bruce Wayne. What, 100+ issues of his own Nightwing book wasn’t enough to cement his place in comic book history, Dan?

Where is he now?

For now, Dick is keeping Batman’s tights warm for him as the current Dark Knight. He’s even taken on his own Robin to complete the Dynamic Duo. (More on that later, clearly.) Despite that he (and DC editorial) said he’d never become Batman, it seems like things changed when Bruce was fried by Darkseid’s Omega Sanction. Now that it’s clear Bruce is alive somewhere, somewhen, Dick considers the gig as having an end date. Why not have a little fun in the mean time?

It’s not as if he’s fooling anyone anyway. Friends and foes alike noticed almost immediately that there was something different about this Batman — which just goes to prove that Dick really is older than Bruce by now, since age or build alone wasn’t enough to tip them off. Mr. Grayson is easily the most enjoyable non-Bruce Batman since (er, “before?”) Terry McGuinness, a sentiment shared by many of the characters around him. Not the Joker, though; he wants “his” Batman back.

The Nightwing identity has since reverted to the Nightwing and Flamebird duo and the realm of Superman stories. The current Nightwing is (wait for it) the son of Zod AKA “Christopher Kent”, who grew up super-fast due to his unnatural birth in the Phantom Zone. Before that, the team temporarily consisted of Kara Zor-El and Power Girl, who assumed those names while in the then-Bottled City of Kandor. (In addition to being Batman and Robin analogs, Supergirl and Power Girl are incidentally both different versions of Supergirl. Don’t ask.)

One might think that would be the merciful end of the Robin legacy, but we’re just getting warmed up!

Jason Todd
First Appearance: Batman #357? Detective Comics #524? WHICH IS IT??

Somehow, just like Dick, Jason was originally the orphan of a family of acrobats, but completely unlike Dick he had red hair. In for a penny, in for a pound, Batman made him dye his hair black. That’s just creepy, bro. (I thought this was a contrivance for later Red Hood stories, but no, it’s actually true!)

Or, wait. Maybe he was some smarmy orphan street rat who tried to boost the Batmobile’s wheels. I forget which. Don’t worry, this won’t be the last time that changes in “reality” will make Jason Todd totally lame!

Either way, Jason Todd is the Robin everyone hated.

He was hated so much, DC Comics actually gave their readers the opportunity to vote for his death. The readers complied, and Jason Todd was killed by the Joker in the “Death in a Family” story released in 1988.

For decades afterward, Jason Todd’s memory turned into “that thing you don’t talk about” — his tattered uniform a constant reminder to Bruce of his abject failure. Those reminders would literally drive him crazy at times. Even in death, Jason haunts us all. Forever.

It should have stayed there, but DC can never leave bad enough alone.

Jason was brought back to life in the worst way possible anyone possibly could be, not just for him, but for poor Judd Winick — who was forced to write that schlock. If you don’t know, it involves a version of Superboy angrily “punching the walls of reality”, inadvertently altering it so that Jason finally woke up in his own grave. Still in a quasi-dead state, he finds his way to Ra’s al Ghul and a Lazarus pit. Which made him crazy.

We didn’t know this all right away, though. It was a slow build over many years, the explanation for which was only revealed as the mother of all retcons during Infinite Crisis. First, he started driving Bruce Wayne nuts during Jeph Loeb’s Hush storyline (or it was Clayface… or WAS it???), and later returned as the new man behind a new Red Hood… not that it’s clear any more if there was ever an “old” Red Hood.

Leaving behind that identity, Jason tried aping Dick-as-Nightwing for a while, and when he got bored of that he started surfing around the new multiverse in Final Crisis as the Kingdom Come-esque Red Robin.

Where is he now?

Who cares?

Ugh, alright. Judd Winnick released a limited “Under the Red Hood” series explaining the missing time between the events at the end of Infinite Crisis and Jason’s appearance as the new Red Hood. He “tried out” for the part of Batman, losing out to Dick. He also briefly made a return in Dick Grayson’s Batman and Robin book, only to get his whiney butt kicked yet again.

As for NOW now? I’d hope he’s dead in a ditch somewhere, but I bet he’d just find a way to come back from that too.

Tim Drake
1989-2004, 2004-2009 (I’ll explain later)
First Appearance: Batman #436

Tim didn’t have quite the same tragic backstory as the previous Robins. Though his mother was dead, he still had his father, still went to school, and did homework (grudgingly) like any other kid. But unlike other kids, he moonlighted as a costumed vigilante. Rather than sneak out of the house for some underage shenanigans, Tim hung out with an older gentleman who made him beat up other older gentlemen. He was also an excellent detective, coming into the Batman family by figuring out Batman and Robin’s true identities. Rather than out them, Tim requested to train with Bruce following the death of Jason Todd.

The result is a long-lasting effect on the Robin legacy, second only to Dick Grayson’s tenture. If you’ve picked up a comic with any sort of “Robin” in it for the last 20 years, chances are it was Tim under the mask. He headlined his own 183-issue Robin title, joined Young Justice, and ultimately the Teen Titans just like his predcessor did (the cool one, not the lame, undead one). For an entire generation of comic book readers, Tim became even more analogous with Robin than Wally West did as the Flash. His much more sensible (but still slightly garish) outfit was the inspiration for Dick Grayson’s Robin in Batman: The Animated Series. His later, more bird-accurate color scheme was used for the Teen Titans Cartoon Network series, although it’s somewhat ambiguous if this Robin was Dick Grayson or Tim Drake. (Given the roster, it was more likely Dick, but who cares!)

Then editorial fiat quashed common sense. If “Bruce Wayne is the Batman, and he fights the Joker” is the reason Dick’s tenure as Batman can only ever be temporary, then a similar mindset must be why everything interesting and unique about Tim was suddenly chucked out the window. Perhaps that should be amended: “Bruce Wayne is the Batman, and he fights the Joker with Robin, who became an orphan when his parents were tragically murdered right in front of him.”

Bye-bye, poppa Drake. During Identity Crisis, Tim’s dad was killed by an increasingly-irrelevant (and grossly overweight) Captain Boomerang for no reason that you’ll like. Bruce officially adopted Tim, and — at least for a while — he continued to be Robin. Maybe it was all out of deference to Tim’s long years in service of DC’s sales, but I still have yet to find “Tim Wayne” convincing as a character.

Where is he now?

Tim has had it much worse off than those who previously wore the Robin mantle. He’s not Batman — although he did get a glimpse of what that might be like in an alternate future (i.e. “huge jerk with guns”) where all of the first-tier superheroes died during the events of Infinite Crisis. He wasn’t able to forge his own unique identity, unlike Dick “I’ll never be Batman!” Grayson. Like Jason Todd, he’s not dead, but — also like Jason Todd — he might as well be.

In the aftermath of Bruce’s apparent death and Dick’s ascension to Batman, Tim is now Red Robin: a sad sack of a boy-man who no one takes seriously. He found the Red Robin costume in the trash, where it was left after a brief sojurn by Jason Todd, who got it from an alternate universe’s Dick Grayson. It’s bad enough he can’t be his own superhero, but the costume itself is a literal hand-me-down by all the Robins who came before him. Red Robin should have stayed where he belonged: in Kingdom Come on an alternate, mid-forties Dick Grayson.

Speaking aging superheroes, Tim is now suddenly older, and seems practically Dick’s age. He has his own title again, but since it’s as Red Robin I’m not holding my breath as to its longevity compared to “Robin”.

Stephanie Brown
2004 (barely worth mentioning)
First Appearance: Detective Comics #647

Steph started life in the DCU as the daughter of third-rate Batman villain The Cluemaster. Though her father spent years trying to reform, he eventually returned to a life of completely ineffective crime. Ensuring his failures, Stephanie adopted the identity of “The Spoiler”, as in “literally spoils her dad’s half-baked plans”.

Stephanie officially joined the Batman family as Tim Drake’s Catwoman-esque love interest in the ongoing Robin series. When Tim’s (still-living) father finds out that he’s really Robin, he is in SERIOUS BIG TROUBLE. Steph decided to take the opportunity to demand that Bruce train her as Tim’s replacement, becoming the first official female Robin*, and taking over the self-titled book as well. However, despite her intense training, Stephanie (and fans) knew Bruce never accepted her; after disobeying orders twice, she was eventually fired.

*The first female Robin was introduced elsewhere and elsewhen, but we’ll get into that in a bit. This is the one “canonical” female Robin that it seems like DC wants to quickly forget.

Learning nothing from this experience, and in an attempt to regain an approval she never had, Stephanie decided she would clean up crime in Gotham once and for all by implementing one of Batman’s scorched-earth scenarios. She was able to successfully gather all of the crime bosses in Gotham for a meeting, but when head honcho Matches Malone didn’t show, things got violent and ugly very quickly, leading to gang warfare that threatened to consume Gotham. How could she have so badly miscalculated?

Matches Malone is one of Bruce Wayne’s many secret identities he uses to infiltrate the Gotham underworld. And Stephanie hadn’t told Bruce about her plan specifically so she could surprise him and tell her she was such a very good girl.


During the subsequent “War Games” storyline, readers everywhere saw Stephanie brutually tortured at the hands of Black Mask — possibly one of the most interesting new Batman villains in one of the worst Batman stories ever told. Near-lifeless, Stephanie made her way to go-to Bat-bonesaw Leslie Thompkins, who was unable (or unwilling, as she later claimed) to save her from her injuries.

Where is she now?

Still dead.

Or at least she should be.

Bruce never erected a memorial for Stephanie as he had for the arguably less-likable Jason. This sent said fans (especially women) into a fury, renewing perennial accusations of rampant, systematic mysogyny in the Batman books. Dan Didio promised that the reason Stephanie didn’t have a memorial was because she didn’t actually die.


It turned out Leslie faked Stephanie’s death in order to protect her. She chewed out Bruce for how he treated her, and officialy quit as his medical cleanup crew. You go, girl!

Stephanie has since re-emerged as the new Batgirl, under the tutelage of first (unhyphenated) Batgirl Barbara Gordon, and with the blessing of previous-ish Batgirl Cassandra Cain. This should should have been a no-brainer when Steph was first introduced, given her fangirlish bat fetish similar to that of a young Barbara Gordon — except there was already an active Batgirl at the time. (The subject of just how many Batgirls there have been is material for another article entirely.)

Damian Wayne
First Appearance: Batman: Son of the Demon (1987) (baby), Batman #655 (2006) (Damian Wayne)

The test tube baby of Talia al Ghul and Bruce Wayne, and raised by the League of Assassins, Damian has grown into a righteous prick. Since Talia believes the only way to surpass your father is to kill him, Damian’s first meeting with Bruce was not a pleasant one. The fact that Bruce survived earned Damian’s respect, and — rather contrary to his mother’s wishes — an intense desire for Damian to become Batman himself some day.

Upon Bruce’s apparent death, Dick Grayson decided he needed to show the boy some due where no one else (including Batman fans) would. What has ensued has been one of the most fun comics series in years: Batman and Robin.

With Bruce Wayne soon returning to the role of Batman, is this new Dynamic Duo Doomed? Will Bruce toss the kid to the curb?

Where is he now?

Still Robin, for the moment, and it looks like for the forseeable future. Even after Bruce Wayne comes back, Damian and Dick seem as though they will get his sanction to continue as Batman and Robin. At least for the time being.

Although, if Batman #666 is believed, Damian will have his own turn as the Dark Knight somewhere between Dick Grayson and Terry McGuinness.

And Others Too Numerous to Mention

There are others. Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight” introduced redhead Carrie Kelly to the role — who is not only NOT an orphan (the first one, chronologically), but also a GIRL.

Oh yes, and one last one:

Bruce Wayne
First Appearance: The Untold Legend of the Batman (1982, so it doesn’t count!)

Now, this depends on what you consider canon; with so many Crises that DC goes through on an increasingly-frequent basis, it’s hard to tell what’s real and what’s not. In The Untold Legend of the Batman, we learn that Bruce Wayne’s first outing as a vigilante was as the Robin persona under the tutelage of Harvey Harris. He wore the outfit similar to Dick’s Flying Graysons uniform, casting some doubt as to the actual nature of its origin.

But this was only a temporary phase. Once his training was complete, Bruce donned the cowl and never turned back (it’s right on the next page I didn’t scan). But I guess he missed those tights, because the first chance he got he slapped them onto some unsuspecting orphan…

Where is he now?

He’s the goddamned Batman. Death cannot hold him.