Ranking Robins: Celebrating 75 years of the Boy and Girl Wonder

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Dec 19, 2015, 6:52 PM EST (Updated)

Sure, Batman is great, but a world without the Dynamic Duo is unimaginable. Without Robin, Batman never seems quite complete. It’s been 75 years since Robin was first introduced to comic-book audiences in 1940 and, ever since, the character has become the epitome of the ideal sidekick.

Robin was added to Batman to give younger readers a character to relate to. While the original Robin stayed young for quite some time, eventually the people who became Robin were allowed to grow, take on new roles and pass on the title to the next worthy individual. Over the years, this has included a number of boys and girls in the DC Universe that have appeared in comic books, TV shows and movies. Robin has even inspired a movement beyond being the name of just one hero in the new comic-book series We Are Robin.

With all this history and the many incarnations we’ve seen of Robin over the years, it’s not easy to rank every one that has existed in the DC Universe. For this anniversary, though, I thought I’d try ranking Robins that have particularly stood out through the decades. Here’s my list of the top 14 Robins!

14. The Dark Knight Rises


The final installment of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy ended with the reveal of his version of Robin. In the final minutes of the film viewers discover that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character John Blake’s legal name is actually Robin. He quits his job with the police, picks up a bag left to him by Bruce Wayne and discovers the Batcave. We never see the character get in a costume, though with no job and making such a discovery it’s not hard to imagine what probably comes next, whether it’s becoming Robin, the new Batman or a different hero. The character is clearly some callback to the Dark Knight’s well-known partner. It’s a unique idea for the character that we may not see fully realized in regard to a caped hero, but it earns a spot on this list nonetheless!


13. Batman Forever and Batman & Robin


Fans were able to see Dick Grayson as Robin in full costume and taking on villains in these two films from the 1990s. Unfortunately, the character, played by actor Chris O’Donnell, was introduced as the movies were given a new director and took a notably worse new direction from the previous two films. This older version of the character could be quite annoying. Though he has a few redeeming moments, they’re mostly lost within the cheesiness of the movies.


12. Teen Titans


The original Teen Titans cartoon took a more serious approach than its successor. It is never clearly stated who is Robin here, though there are a couple of hints that it is Dick Grayson. Who Robin is doesn’t really matter, however, because by keeping Robin in his hero identity the whole time, it offers an interesting look at the character. Viewers get to see Robin lead the team against a number of threats, work to make a difference on his own without Batman and deal with the relationships between the young members of the team.


11. Teen Titans Go!


The familiar characters from Teen Titans reappear in this more light-hearted cartoon with a brand-new look. It focuses on the extreme of the characters to be funny, which gives us a rather unique take on Robin as the leader. Again viewers are never told exactly which character is behind the Robin mask (though it’s most likely not Jason Todd, since his ashes make an appearance in an episode), but it again doesn’t really matter. The show may not be serious, not contain much character development and be geared toward a younger audience, but this Robin gets extra points from his previous version, because it’s not too often that Robin gets to just be funny in the gritty DC Universe, and it’s nice for a change. Even a couple of the other Robins on this list join him in an episode, as seen in the clip above!


10. DC Comics’ Stephanie Brown


Stephanie Brown is a fan favorite character that, unfortunately, DC Comics hasn’t spent nearly enough time on. She began as the hero Spoiler, who set out to stop her father, the villain Cluemaster. While she would spend some time as Batgirl later on, she first briefly donned the Robin suit and became Batman’s Girl Wonder. It would have been great to see her spend more time as Robin and be given a chance to grow as she brought a different personality to the sidekick role. However, Batman takes away that chance when he decides she’s unfit to be Robin and, after this, she is rather quickly killed off. Later, DC would bring her character back, but she would not return as Robin.


9. DC Comics’ Jason Todd


Dick Grayson’s decades-long run as Robin would be a hard act to follow for anyone, and so it’s understandable that Jason Todd’s run as Robin was a rocky one. At first the character introduced in the '80s as Grayson’s replacement was too much like the former Robin and then his character was drastically changed, which didn’t help much with how he was received by fans. In the end like Stephanie Brown, Jason Todd would be killed off. The choice though was made through a vote by fans. Eventually he would also return to the DC Universe but not reclaim his role as the Boy Wonder.


8. DC Comics’ Helena Wayne


On The New 52’s Earth-2, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman is the one who has the Robin mantle. Helena Wayne was her father’s only sidekick before an accident brought her and her friend Supergirl to Prime Earth, where Wayne took on the identity of the Huntress. In her time as Robin in World’s Finest, Wayne’s Robin has the added pressure of having two iconic parents proud of her skills but worried about her safety. Growing up with their training, she skillfully helps them protect Earth-2 from a major threat. She’s not the only Wayne child to become a Robin, of course, and that’s addressed in the comic, but she’s a unique version of the familiar character that would definitely be fun to see more of in the DC Universe.


7. DC Comic’s Tim Drake


After Jason Todd, Tim Drake became the next Robin and unlike his predecessor he was never presented as a Dick Grayson copy. This gave the character much more depth and made him a more fascinating Robin in the comics. He even had more interesting connections to the Bat family, having originally witnessed Grayson’s parents’ death and eventually becoming Bruce Wayne’s adopted son. Drake had a successful run as Robin and even stared in a solo series before moving on from the part.


6. The New Batman Adventures Tim Drake


This version of Tim Drake ranks higher on my list than the comic book iteration mostly because it was my introduction to the character. I first became aware of Drake though The New Batman Adventures and really like how his character was shown in the cartoon. He had a different origin story from the comics, but still presented a noteworthy take on Robin different from what I had seen in the previous animated series. The show not only explored his relationship with Batman, but also with many of the other characters in Gotham.


5. DC Comics’ Damian Wayne


Another Wayne child to become a Robin was Damian. He’s the son of Batman and Talia al Ghul, and due to his time growing up with the League of Assassins, brings a more violent nature to the Boy Wonder. He’s got a rather cocky attitude, which can be annoying at times, but his killer instincts result in an intriguing relationship with Batman. Wayne must face whether or not to give in to the urges he learned growing up versus the no-kill policy and restraint of his father. This Robin would also be killed off at one point, but like other Robins, he would return. The difference is, when he does return, he continues as Batman’s sidekick.


4. Batman: The Animated Series


Just like I was first introduced to Tim Drake through '90s cartoons, my first version of Robin was the Dick Grayson portrayal on Batman: The Animated Series. His origin was similar to the comics, but most of the series follows Robin when he’s older. The character would attend college and date Barbara Gordon while trying to balance his role as Robin. There are a lot of things to to love about this Batman cartoon and its Robin is one of them!


3. Batman '66


Holy '60s TV show! Actor Burt Ward’s Dick Grayson gave us perhaps the most unforgettable Robin ever played on TV. His catchphrase of saying, “ Holy (insert ridiculous thing here)” has become a common part of our pop culture. He fit perfectly into  the ‘60s version of Batman’s world, being the perfect sidekick to actor Adam West’s portrayal of Batman. No matter how annoying and campy this Robin could be, it’s so different from the others and is just so much fun when combined with the rest of the series that I can’t help but give it such a high spot on this list!


2. DC Comics’ Carrie Kelley


Carrie Kelley was the first girl to become Robin. She appeared in Frank Miller’s popular The Dark Knight Returns as the sidekick to the older Batman. Her parents are alive, but they hardly notice what she’s up to, allowing her to help Batman in Gotham. She is a skilled and loyal Robin who also has perhaps the coolest costume, with her unique glasses instead of a mask. She also eventually takes on a new identity and moves on from the Robin title, but she continues to be Batman’s partner.


1. DC Comics’ Dick Grayson


Despite all the Robins that have come after him, the original Robin remains the best. If the original Dick Grayson had not been such a successful and beloved character, all of these other Robins would have never existed. He captured the hearts of readers and showed us that Batman works best with a partner at his side. The father and son-type connection with Batman was also distinctive, since it was the first. It’s a connection that was solidified through Batman helping Grayson get through the tragic loss of his family, a situation with which Bruce Wayne was intimately familiar, and training him to become a helpful hero at the Dark Knight’s side making a difference in Gotham. Eventually, we saw the character begin to grow and watched him evolve as Robin until he moved on and became Nightwing. This transition has also been crucial to the continued success of Robin over the years. It worked having Grayson give up being the Boy Wonder while remaining an important character in the Bat universe. It let others take on the part, showed that they too could move on, and yet Robin could still exist. The original Robin will always be the ultimate portrayal and thus is the highest ranking Robin!

That's our list! Where would you rank the Robins? Let us know in the comments!