Batman and the Boy Wonder, Robin, are one of the greatest partnerships in comic book history. Bruce Wayne's decision to take on a sidekick helped the Caped Crusader deal with the trauma of his parents' deaths, bringing out the character's own fatherly instincts and tempering his more dangerous tendencies as a lone vigilante. As for Robin, being mentored by Bruce provided security, and a place to go when the world seemed to fall apart.
However, a number of different characters have taken on the Robin persona in the Batman comics over the decades, each with their own very different personalities and approaches to fighting crime. There have also been a number of alternate versions of Robin and some of these incarnations have overlapped at times, leading to multiple Robins prowling Gotham City simultaneously.
With the release of Titans on the DC Universe streaming service, a live-action Robin is once again in the public eye following the debacle of 1997's Batman & Robin movie. Like the comics, Titans also delves into the ever-changing nature of Batman's sidekick and touches upon the dynamic between those vying for Bruce's approval. Exploring the Batman comics, here is every version and spinoff of the Robin character. Humans only though; sorry Jarro.
The original and undoubtedly most famous version of Robin to grace page or screen. As a young boy, Dick Grayson and his family worked as circus performers under the name The Flying Graysons, but his loved ones are killed in a tragic Trapeze fall. In attendance on this fateful night is Bruce Wayne, who offers to take the orphaned boy as his ward, empathizing with Dick's sudden loss. Still reeling from the circus incident, Dick vows to get revenge on those responsible for his parents' deaths and, revealing himself as Batman, Bruce promises to show Dick the right path forward.
Bruce teaches his new sidekick all of the tricks, from detective and scientific skills to hand-to-hand combat techniques. Dick's natural ability as a trapeze artist gives him a more gymnastic quality, which he exploits in his new career as a superhero. After many happy years beating up superheroes together, Dick begins to outgrow his role as Batman's sidekick and decides to operate alone, first continuing as Robin, but eventually taking on a new persona, Nightwing. In adulthood, Dick and Bruce's relationship improves and when the Dark Knight seemingly dies, Dick Grayson becomes Batman for a brief period.
This version of Robin is the one more casual fans are familiar with, played on screen by Burt Ward, Chris O'Donnell and Brenton Thwaites.
Introduced in the 1980s, Jason Todd was originally given a backstory near-identical to that of Dick Grayson, but this was soon retconned in favor of a more unique origin story. Visiting the site of his parents' murders, Batman finds Jason Todd attempting to steal the tires from the Batmobile. Giving the kid, whose parents were a drug addict and a criminal, the benefit of the doubt, Batman has Todd enrolled in a school, hoping to halt his fledgling career as a street thief. Unbeknownst to Batman, the school is actually a front for Ma Gunn's gang, and by helping Batman take the group down, Jason Todd earns Bruce's trust enough to be offered the mantle of Robin.
The relationship between Dick Grayson and Jason Todd was generally very good, with the latter idolizing the original Robin, and Grayson offering his advice and guidance as Nightwing. However, Todd and Grayson had very little in common, with the new Robin proving himself to be rash, unpredictable and not as naturally gifted as his predecessor. Todd's inner rage often bubbled over and crossed the fine moral line Batman was already walking.
Eventually, fan opinion towards Todd soured, and DC Comics decided to hold a phone poll (it was the 80s!) to decide the character's fate. The readers voted for Todd to be killed off by the Joker and in A Death In The Family, Todd was betrayed by his biological mother, beaten half to death with a crowbar and then finished off by a bomb. However, the second Robin would reemerge years later in Hush, after Superboy altered the fabric of reality. Since then, Jason Todd has taken on several personas, but is most widely known as the Red Hood, a violent anti-hero who implements harsher methods than Batman would allow.
For a long time after Jason's death, Bruce Wayne refused to take on another partner, believing himself at fault for the tragedy. Alfred, however, recognized that Batman needed to be accompanied by a Robin and this led to the eventual recruitment of Tim Drake. Essentially a Batman and Robin fanboy, Drake had grown up in awe of the Dynamic Duo's partnership, following Dick Grayson's evolution into Nightwing and mourning the death of Jason Todd. Tim was also present in the audience the day Dick's parents were killed during their circus act.
Although Drake wasn't necessarily a natural fighter like the previous two Robins, he did possess a keen intellect, and figured out the secret identities of Batman, Nightwing and both Robins, keeping his discovery a secret out of respect and admiration. After Todd's death, Drake noticed Batman's gradual decline and, like Alfred, resolved to reunite Batman and Robin, hoping Dick Grayson would once again take up the role. When Dick declined, Drake decided to offer his own services, and proved himself by helping Batman take down Two-Face. Once again, Dick Grayson encouraged and mentored the new Robin.
Tim Drake continued to loyally serve alongside Batman, upholding his moral teachings and training hard to make up for his initial lack of physical prowess. He even sees off a potential usurper in Damian Wayne, Bruce's biological son who sees himself as the natural choice to become Robin and is quite happy to bump off Drake to make that happen. When Bruce Wayne is presumed dead, however, Dick Grayson once again takes over the Batman mantle and his first order of business is to replace Drake with Damian Wayne, reasoning that he had little to teach the former, whereas Damian needed close guidance. Tim Drake doesn't take this development well.
The name Stephanie Brown is far more readily associated with Batgirl, but the character did briefly appear as Robin in the Batman comics. Originally operating as Spoiler, Stephanie Brown was an amateur hero who developed a romantic relationship with Tim Drake's Robin. Eventually, Bruce Wayne offered to train Brown as part of the Bat Family, but after a brief period of tutelage, Batman decided his new student was not cut out to be a superhero.
When Tim Drake's wealthy father first discovered his son's crime-fighting ways, Tim was forced to give up the Robin name for a short time, and Stephanie offered her services in replacement, asking Batman for another chance to prove herself. The Caped Crusader accepted, gifting Stephanie her own Robin costume and taking her out onto the streets.
However, Stephanie went against Batman's orders on several occasions and was dismissed as his sidekick. Desperate to prove her worth, Stephanie embarked on a mission alone but her misguided efforts resulted in capture by Black Mask, who appeared to have killed the female Robin. Fortunately, Stephanie survived the ordeal and would go on to become Batgirl - a role she took to far more naturally.
The son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul following a hazy one-night tryst, Damian Wayne's existence is hidden during his early years, as he secretly trains alongside the League of Assassins. Talia eventually introduces Bruce and Damian, hoping Batman will provide their son with a better life. Having been trained and raised in the al Ghul way, however, Damian is a brutally violent and often unreliable sidekick, believing himself to be superior to his colleagues. Deep down, Damian possesses a genuine desire to be loved and respected by his father and a (reluctant) willingness to adapt his methods.
After first working alongside Dick Grayson's Batman, Damian is retained as Robin when his father returns from the dead and although Bruce sometimes struggles to balance his duties as a mentor and a father, he and Damian forge an effective partnership. In the Batman Incorporated series, Damian is killed by The Heretic, and a desperate Bruce goes to great efforts to bring his son back to life. Trained from a very young age, Damian Wayne is the arguably the most physically capable iteration of Robin since Dick Grayson and remains the holder of the title to this day.
Carrie Kelley is an incarnation of Robin on Earth-31, where Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns takes place. In this continuity, Bruce Wayne retires as Batman following the death of Jason Todd, eventually returning to the Gotham City streets as an older man. During his first night back in the game, Batman saves a young teenage girl, later revealed to be Carrie Kelley, from some muggers. Inspired by the incident, the Carrie sets out to become the returning Batman's sidekick, since her own parents were largely absent in her upbringing.
Batman had reservations about taking on a new partner, but accepted Kelley after she helped him out of some tight spots. Kelley had a natural aptitude for crime-fighting and showed exceptional promise, eventually going on to become Catgirl and Batwoman.
Red Robin is an alternate persona used by several different characters in separate continuities, usually at a time when the proper Robin mantle is unavailable. Red Robin debuts when Jason Todd meets Batman on Earth-51, where the Caped Crusader had gone off the rails since the death of his world's Jason Todd. Despite being from different worlds, Batman-51 and Jason Todd join forces, and Bruce gives his new partner something intended for his own Todd - a new costume and title, Red Robin.
However, the Red Robin code name is more often associated with Tim Drake, who takes on the persona after Dick Grayson replaces him with Damian Wayne as the actual Robin. In this new guise, Tim Drake continues to operate as a vigilante, either alone or with other members of the Batman Family, but while maintaining a connection to his much-loved Robin mantle.