Robin gets a lot of flak from fans who believe he ruins Batman’s loner image, is completely unrealistic, serves no purpose, or any of those other shortcuts folks take to dismiss the Boy Wonder. Robin is what keeps the Dark Knight from, well, getting too dark. Not only does his young sidekick keep Batman (relatively) sane, Robin’s existence creates the idea of legacy; that the mission to serve and protect Gotham will never end. As we’ve seen with Dick Grayson and in stories taking place in the future with Damian Wayne, the story of Batman and Robin isn’t catching lightning in a bottle, it’s a generational story of family, sacrifice, and renewal.
The Robins are essentially child soldiers, trained to be the best by the best there ever was. Their bright colors made them bigger targets—they had to earn the darkness—and needed to learn to read people differently. It was trial by fire for each Robin; their training began earlier and in more dangerous situations. Each one has the potential to be better than Batman in that way...if they can stay alive.
But the fact is, no training can prepare you like the real thing, and there’s no planning for every situation. The no-kill policy sometimes gets jettisoned, and if you want to look at high body counts, forget the Punisher—the Boy Wonder’s got him beat. Here are 15 Times Robin Killed People.
When you’ve made a career out of killing Robins, eventually one’s going to get wise to you, right? The Joker may not be the biggest fan of irony, as he was killed by a Boy Wonder—Tim Drake, specifically—in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Joker and Harley kidnapped Tim and tortured him over the course of weeks, using advanced technology stolen from Amanda Waller and Cadmus to brainwash the preteen and cause him significant physical pain.
Robin was turned into Joker, Jr. and set loose on Batman. However, when called upon, Tim couldn’t pull the trigger on Bruce. Clearly having a complete mental breakdown, the kid began laughing and crying, probably because he was forced to wear a suit with short pants and had an Eddie Munster haircut (Joker really is cruel). Before succumbing entirely to psychosis, Tim shot the Clown Prince of Crime with one of his own gag-guns, killing him. Joker lamented how unfunny the whole thing was in his dying breaths, because irony is hysterical until it happens to you.
This is probably the most humiliating death on the list. One of the main themes of the Injustice comic book series was to apparently make everyone as morally bankrupt or stupid as possible. Battle lines were being drawn between superhero factions: pro-fascism, led by Superman, and anti-fascism, led by Batman. Here, Damian Wayne was stripped of any kind of character depth and reverted to his homicidal ways, and was confronted by Nightwing, who is probably easier to talk to than Batman, anyway. The only problem was that Nightwing forgot that when you tell a kid not to do something, they’re going to want to do it more.
Dick and Damian fought to the death, which really sounds cool. Except for the fact that it was an accident. And not a cool one. Robin struck an unsuspecting Grayson with a kai stick, and in his fall, the latter landed on a jagged rock that broke his neck, killing him. The whole thing managed to make everyone involved look awful for many different reasons.
Then, just for the lulz, Damian took up the mantle as Nightwing.
In comics, the future is always a dystopia where the heroes who survived are either psychologically broken or have turned evil. In Titans Tomorrow, we get both! At some point in the near future, the Teen Titans stop horsing around and take over the entire western United States. All the legacy characters took up their mentors’ roles—Conner Kent became Superman, Tim Drake became Batman, Cassie Sandsmark became Wonder Woman, and Red Devil continued to be irrelevant—and enforced their own laws with violent consequences.
Compared to his mentor, Tim took a more Punisher-like tactic to fighting crime. He threw bullets and bombs at it. Here, the Bat-Family’s dead, and Tim wiped out the entirety of Batman’s rogue’s gallery using the gun that killed Bruce Wayne’s parents (Tim being a tad unstable is the crux of what we’re getting at).
While a full body count is not provided, with the information that we’re given, it’s likely that either personally or by proxy, this future version of Tim Drake is responsible for thousands of deaths.
Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Strikes Again has a massive body count, and it's pretty unique in that it kills Dick Grayson twice; first via character assassination—depicting him as a disfigured, cowardly psychopath—and second by throwing him into a fire.
In response to Batman firing him decades before, Dick Grayson went through with radical gene therapies that gave him superpowers to get revenge on his former mentor. Dressing as the Joker, Dick killed the Creeper (good), the Guardian (meh), and Martian Manhunter (oh no). Why he went through all of this when he could’ve just gone to the Batcave to confront Bruce—which he did at the end anyway—is anyone’s guess; probably because he’s crazy or something. Look, this is latter days Frank Miller. Accept it and move on.
Given that Martian Manhunter’s powers are on the same level of Superman’s, Grayson killing him is impressive, and potentially could have made this new version of the Joker a much bigger threat. It’s a shame it takes place over a few panels and was treated like an afterthought.
When you start a new job, you really want to hit the ground running. It's a golden opportunity to show your excitement, energy, and passion. Maybe you’ll also want to try a new way of doing things, some dynamic thinking. In Damian’s defense, that’s what he was trying to do. He had just met Bruce Wayne, and the kid wanted his old man’s respect and attention. Crimefighting gets in the way, so the helpful boy decided to cut out the middleman.
A Z-list villain called the Spook took Arkham hostage and Damian beheaded him and his gang. Then, like a loyal cat, Robin presented the decapitated villain to his father for praise. It didn’t quite work out that way, but it’s certainly the thought that counts. Batman would try to curb Damian’s murderous tendencies to limited effect. Many of his murders play into this list, dating well before and long after he came under Bruce’s care.
When Jason Todd was resurrected, he wanted to fight crime on his own terms. Namely, by killing bad guys rather than arresting them (and spiting Batman in the process). Admittedly, it is more efficient. While he did kill many, many bad guys, we’ll focus on his coolest kill. As the Red Hood, he tracked down the highest grossing drug dealers in Gotham. He waited until they had one of their summits; nice place, catered. They would do team-building exercises and work on their synergy as evildoers. Once there, the believed-dead former sidekick shot the place up and declared himself their leader. Then he plopped a duffel bag filled with the decapitated heads of all their lieutenants on the table to show he meant business. How cool is that? Gruesome and very sad for their friends and family, but, really, look at that panel! Sick!
So, Jason told them they could keep dealing drugs, so long as they don’t deal to kids and he gets a 40% cut of the earnings. See, he’s a reasonable guy!
If you haven’t noticed already, this article basically comes down to Damian and Jason Todd vying for who has the highest casualty list. Spoiler alert: it’s Damian. Talia, the original tiger mom, wanted Damian to be the best junior dictator ever, so she sent him out on a killing spree quest for an entire year before she would introduce him to his father (still a better mother than Livia Soprano).
The Year of Blood was part of his training. He learned how to kill without conscience, steal priceless and powerful artifacts, undermine rivals, damage cultures, and almost wipe out entire species, all in the name of destiny and his family’s desire for power. In all the evil things he did, Damian would have moments of clarity and mercy that would usually come back to bite him; eventually becoming Robin, he would go on to try and redeem himself and fix his mistakes not only during the Year of Blood, but throughout his ten years of life. It made for a surprisingly long list.
When Damian was killed by the Heretic—his genetically enhanced, rapidly aged clone (oh, comics)—both Bruce and Dick went into a downward spiral. Particularly Bruce because, well, Damian was his son. That’s not the kind of thing someone takes well. After trying his hand at necromancy and failing, Batman had to come to terms with the loss. Just kidding, he doesn’t have a coping mechanism. Instead, he created a VR program that would allow him to replay all the events leading up to Robin’s death so he could figure out a strategy that would work. He played the scenario for seven days straight and never could save the little one.
Batman and Nightwing went into the program together and fight the Heretic to save Damian. Batman tosses Grayson a spear, and the first Boy Wonder impales the Heretic with enough force to not only kill him, but to nail him to the damn wall. The fact that neither make a comment on “killing” him drives home the fact that they would have done so in real life too—forsaking the no-killing policy to save Damian. It’s a heartwarming and chilling scene.
Batman needs a Robin to keep him sane. Unfortunately, when it came to Jason Todd, it was Robin who was the crazy one. In Bruce’s haste to train a new Boy Wonder and offset the sadness he felt in Dick Grayson’s quitting, the Dark Knight ignored how dangerous Jason was. His anger was unchecked and untreated. Batman hoped to channel that into something productive, but it never quite worked out that way. Instead, he just gave Jason a means to use his violence in a more creative way.
Felipe Garzonas was a degenerate who used his diplomatic immunity to get away with rapes and drug trafficking. After repeatedly failing to arrest Garzonas, the Dynamic Duo confronted him again. The criminal fell to his death, and Robin purposely waited until it was too late to save him. When confronted by Batman, Jason merely said he slipped. Batman knew then that Jason wasn’t right for the role as Robin, but Joker took care of the Jason problem shortly thereafter, so let’s just call it even.
Batman fired Stephanie Brown—the first canonical female Robin—because she was too impulsive and reckless. To show Batman she can be relied on, she decided to do something impulsive and reckless. That’ll show him!
Steph activated one of Batman’s scenarios that would see all the major Gotham crime families go to work under a single leader: Matches Malone, who was one of Batman’s alter egos. The only problem was that Stephanie didn’t know they were the same man. When these gang leaders got together, rather than working on their synergy and team-building, they ending up all trying to kill each other. This bled into the streets, with many innocent people getting caught in the middle.
Then Black Mask took control of organized crime in Gotham, destroyed Oracle’s watchtower, revealed to the world that Batman existed, and framed him for several crimes. Then he tortured Stephanie with a power drill.
Steph probably should have talked to Batman before implementing one of his plans. Or maybe Batman needed a better computer password than MYPARENTSAREDEAD39.
In another dystopic future, Dick Grayson was still working for Spyral after Brother Eye gave the world an enema. Anatoli Knyazev, aka KGBeast, took over Russia and hired the spy agency to help keep the peace. To that end, Grayson and Helena Bertinelli had to fight hordes of Parademons. While they were busy, Knyazev sent his troops to slaughter the entire village whose government sent the Parademons after them, killing every man, woman, and child there.
KGBeast then declared Grayson and Bertinelli heroes, and Dick was galled. So, at the award ceremony, Grayson—the original Robin, the sum of all of Bruce Wayne’s teachings—snapped Knyazev’s neck in front of the world. Subtlety is frowned upon in the superhero game.
Killing KGBeast was, strangely, the moral thing to do at that point. Letting him go would not only make them accessories to murder, but also suggest that in this new world, the actions of dictators would go unanswered. Another typical, lighthearted DC Comics adventure.
Otto Netz was an Alzheimer’s-afflicted former espionage agent/scientist and Nazi master criminal who called himself Dr. Word Salad Dr. Dedalus. He also did some bad stuff in the Falklands that was never quite explained. Eventually, he made a fatal mistake: he kidnapped Batman. Well, that wasn’t so fatal. Really, the Dark Knight would give him a life-changing beating, but he wouldn’t kill the cranky old Hitler Youth. Dr. Dedalus’ fatal mistake wasn’t kidnapping Batman, it was letting his son find out.
After going through some insane traps, Batman finally confronts the old man, only to be bested and outsmarted. Then Robin shows up and jams a dagger from the scientist's own cane into his brain. Absolutely remorseless, Damian repeated that he only wanted to save his father. If you were to look up the definition of “good kid,” a picture of Damian Wayne would pop up.
Netz would show up again, years later, having transferred his brain waves into a computer before his death. He captured Dick Grayson so he could transfer his mind into the former Robin’s body (likely because the bald Dr. Dedalus coveted his lucious locks). Dick fought back and used Hypnos to erode Netz’ programming, simultaneously deleting and killing him.
Look, in this case, Ducard had it coming. You know Damian doesn’t like people messing around with his dad—what did you think he was going to do? If you answered something other than "kill you while in a submarine," then you’re reading the wrong series.
Ducard blamed Bruce Wayne for his father’s death. As Nobody, he started killing members of Batman, Incorporated (only ingratiating himself to the audience), and reached out to Damian to turn him against Bruce, wanting to take away Batman’s son the way the Caped Crusader took away his father. Nobody showed Robin that the Dark Knight’s no-kill policy was foolish; that criminals needed to be dealt with directly and finally…and Morgan was still surprised when the boy jammed his fingers into his head and pulled out his brain matter.
The effect this had on the Dynamic Duo's relationship was severe. Bruce was considering dissolving their partnership and promptly benched the boy, feeling that he may be too far gone to save and too dangerous to have out there on the street.
Frank Miller’s alternate reality Dark Knight Returns universe allowed for many different iterations of characters. Prior to Flashpoint, it’s fair to say that Jason Todd’s personality leaned to sociopathy; in Miller’s Last Crusade, it’s turned up to eleven. Over the course of forty pages, we’re given Batman and Robin in many situations, facing various rogues and criminals, and each time, Jason does something a little more unhinged.
Jason shrugged off his mentor chiding him over his apparent sadism and overwhelming violence. Rather than using a Batarang to knock the gun out of a criminal’s hand, he tore up the man’s arm with it. He critically injured several people who were merely brainwashed, and he nearly got Batman killed because beating up the infirm was just too much fun.
Finally, in a confrontation with Joker’s henchmen, Jason went too far. The henchmen’s truck was turned on its side, and Jason landed hard—making sure to close the door on the criminal’s head, crushing it. Batman saw Robin look away, putting a hand over his face. It wasn’t because of the smell or the horror, it was because he was trying to hide a smile.
Mr. J just can’t catch a break this time, can he? In Joker’s Last Laugh, somebody played a trick on the Clown Prince, and made him believe he was dying of a brain tumor. So, like the frat boy in Amsterdam, Joker wanted to go out with a bang. He used his poisons to “Jokerize” Batman’s villains and normal civilians alike, creating a worldwide emergency by having Storm from X-Men an entirely original character alter weather patterns.
With Tim Drake missing, and a Robin costume found shredded, Dick Grayson finally had had enough of Joker’s malarkey. He attacked Joker’s base, singlehandedly beating his goons and the clown himself. Only, he didn’t stop. Believing another Robin to be dead, Nightwing savaged the Joker, before finally killing him, only to learn it was another joke: Tim was alive.
Batman resuscitated Joker—creating even more levels to their already codependent relationship—and kept Nightwing from becoming a (permanent) murderer. However, shortly after, Blockbuster (the villain, not the video store) bombed Dick Grayson’s apartment building, killing most of his friends. Nightwing then watched as Tarantula beat him to death. While Grayson regretted the decision, and Batman was infuriated they both quickly put these events behind them because Infinite Crisis was happening and continuity between books is hard of the strength of their father/son bond.
Who is your favorite Robin? If you were the Boy Wonder, would you fall in line with Batman's no-kill policy? Let us know in the comments!