Comicbook / Robin

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Robins-comics2_2571.jpg
The whole flock.note 

The Boy Wonder. The Heart of the Bat Family. One half of The Dynamic Duo. THE Kid Sidekick.

Robin is a DC Comics character created as Batman's sidekick in 1940 and best known as the Trope Maker and Trope Codifier of the Kid Sidekick archetype. There have been many, many different Robins throughout the character's publication, but most of them have common elements. With only a few exceptions, they are usually orphaned teenage males with some sort of acrobatic or martial arts prowess and wear a brightly-colored costume (typically red, green and yellow).

Robin was originally conceived as a vehicle to draw younger readersand it worked, doubling Batman's sales figures from his first appearance onward. Afterward, Robin became a staple of the Batman franchise's humor, as well as being a Foil against his mentor and providing the Dark Knight a character to whom he could exposit his many heroic feats. Unfortunately, this also had the side-effect of making Robin into a Distressed Dude who barely contained a tenth of the skills or competence of his partner.

As time went along, the implications regarding a rich adult who lived alone with a traumatized teenage orphan boy (Alfred would not become part of the Batman home until sometime later) garnered negative media attention. Comic books were blamed for everything from juvenile delinquency to homosexuality to communism, and the "indecent" relationship between Batman and Robin is often cited as one of the major reasons for the creation of The Comics Code that spelled the end of The Interregnum and the dawn of The Silver Age of Comic Books. Robin's reputation as a character suffered its greatest blow in this period, and the repercussions are still felt to this day (such as in parodies like the Ambiguously Gay Duo). Outside of comics, new media involving the two has tended to split them apart. Batman has remained consistently popular and has been subject to many darker reimaginings, but Robin has found more success away from his/her mentor's shadow.

Despite their usual role as a supporting character, the Robins are well-known for several events which helped modern comics to their current form—all of which will be noted below, in the description of the Robin they pertain to. It's also notable that the individual Robins often become popular in their own right. All five Robin characters are currently in print, with two headlining their own books, two co-starring alongside other sidekicks, and the newly-reintroduced Stephanie Brown making the rounds of guest appearances. All are featured in the weekly series Batman and Robin Eternal, although Stephanie has never been Robin in this version of events.

Compare and contrast Bucky Barnes, Marvel's take on the classic Kid Sidekick later updated for modern readers.

    open/close all folders 

     #1) Dick Grayson 

#1)Dick Grayson

The most famous Robin is the original, Dick Grayson, who held the identity from 1940 to 1984. Grayson, however, gave up the name to forge a new career as the hero Nightwing. Since then, the mantle has been passed several times, although other media usually use Dick Grayson in the role.

Dick Grayson had his own solo feature in Star-Spangled Comics from 1947 to 1952, and an additional feature (billed as "Robin, the Teen Wonder" throughout most of the 1970s, usually as a backup in Batman or Detective Comics. The latter stories typically featured Grayson as a college student at Hudson University. He has also been a staple member of the Teen Titans since the group's inception in 1965, typically acting as team leader and The Smart Guy. It was in this series that the character really grew into his own, especially when the book was retooled as The New Teen Titans with the inclusion of four new teen heroes who were not conceived as sidekicks to adult heroes (although Beast Boy was a Transplant from another series). It was in the pages of The New Teen Titans that Nightwing was originally born.

It's worth noting that Dick Grayson was Robin from 1940 to 1983— 43 years, by far the longest tenure. Jason was Robin from 1983 to 1988 (5 years, with a reboot in the middle), Tim from 1989 to 2009 (20 years), Stephanie for one story arc, and Damian from 2009 to 2013 and from 2015 onwards (five years). The Golden Age Robin of Earth-2, who stuck to that identity long after he passed into adulthood and middle age, died alongside his partner the Huntress at the end of the Crisis On Infinite Earths.

More information can be found on the Nightwing page.

     #2) Jason Todd 

#2)Jason Todd

After Dick Grayson, a new character named Jason Todd was introduced as a Suspiciously Similar Substitute (right down to origins as an orphaned circus acrobat) until he was Retconned to be a former teen delinquent to distinguish him from Dick Grayson. Todd was unpopular with those who had grown up with Dick Grayson (including his writers— when editorial wanted suggestions for a character that could be killed in an AIDS storyline, Jim Starlin put his name in), so he was Killed Off for Real by The Joker in the infamous A Death in the Family storyline in 1988. This death was significant in a number of ways: first, whether he would live or die was put to a readership vote (via a hotline number: 5,271 votes for him to live, 5,343 votes for him to die). Second, just like The Night Gwen Stacy Died, this was a tragic event which codified The Bronze Age of Comic Books. Third, this would top The Joker's list of most heinous crimes (following the shooting of Batgirl by only a couple of months) and cement his status as one of the most despicable villains in comics' history. (And as a bonus, some people thought his death was... a bit TOO mean.)

For a time, the most famous thing about Jason Todd was that he (like his Captain America counterpart Bucky Barnes), had remained dead. Since then, however, he has come Back from the Dead and has re-adopted several identities which were once used by other characters: the Red Hood (originally used by The Joker), Red Robin and Nightwing (both originally used by Dick Grayson). Since his return, Jason Todd has become even more of an Anti-Hero than ever and is even sometimes cast as a villain for both Batman and Nightwing, standing in opposition to their Thou Shalt Not Kill ideology.

He's gained a new fanbase since his resurrection, both for being the one who will do what Batman won't and for being a general bad boy. Since the 2011 reboot, he's become a lot more stable and while he remains an Anti-Hero, he's slowly becoming less antagonistic towards his father and brothers, with mixed results.

Jason's also notable for his part in what is considered a monumental achievement of DC animation: Batman: Under the Red Hood. Written by Judd Winick, who originally pitched and wrote Jason's resurrection in the comics, he took the movie as an opportunity to revise and vastly improve on the original story, tightening up the plot and, most notably, changing the method of Jason's resurrection from a gimmicky tie-in to an event crossover to the Lazarus Pit, a well-established element of the Batman mythos. Even those who want their hotline money back would rather consider it canon.

     #3) Tim Drake 

#3)Tim Drake

The third Robin was Tim Drake, who broke the mold of the previous two in several ways. One, he was not an orphan (his father was still alive when he took the mantle). Two, he was not as light-hearted or whimsical as either of his predecessors. And three, being Robin was only a part-time thing and he only saw it as a temporary necessity, planning to go back to his normal life after he put in his service. He was also the first Robin to maintain a long-lasting solo series (lasting from 1993 to 2009) and, after Dick Grayson, is the second-most famous person to hold the role. Tim was also a founding member of Young Justice, along with Superboy and Impulse, where he played a similar role that Dick Grayson had played within the Titans.

Tim's status quo was changed forever in 2004, after the death of his father, whereupon Batman adopted Tim as he had done with his predecessors. The tragedy continued with the seeming death of his girlfriend Stephanie Brown (on this very list as Robin IV), the death of his best friends Conner Kent and Bart Allen, the institutionalization (and THEN death) of his stepmother, and ultimately the death of Batman himself. Following this Trauma Conga Line, Tim retired as Robin to become the third Red Robin.

Following the New 52 reboot, Tim still leads the Titans and was still Jason's successor as Batman's ward, but he never actually used the Robin name, having used the Red Robin name for his entire career. On top of that, his parents are still alive and he's no longer actually called "Tim Drake" either, as Batman gave him this name after his parents were placed into Witness Protection following Tim stealing a large sum of money from the Penguin.

     #4) Stephanie Brown 

#4)Stephanie Brown

In 2003, Tim Drake briefly retired as Robin to pursue an ordinary life. His supporting character (and Love Interest) Stephanie Brown was picked by Batman to become the new Robin. Stephanie's tenure as Robin was rife with controversy, including the insinuation that her promotion was a Batman Gambit (by the Trope Namer himself no less) to anger Tim Drake into returning as Robin. Stephanie was fired from the role for a relatively minor mistake (compared to the blunders previous Robins had done) and then unceremoniously killed off in 2004. It was later revealed through Word of God that Stephanie's role as Robin was never meant to be permanent and was only meant to make her death more dramatic and shocking. This has later been cited as a textbook case of Stuffed into the Fridge, especially since after her death, Stephanie was barely mentioned by the other Bat-family characters and she received no monument (as Jason Todd had upon his death). Stephanie was revealed to be in hiding in 2009 and took the role of Batgirl. When the DC universe was relaunched after the Flashpoint storyline in 2011, early reports stated that she would return to the Spoiler identity, but her only appearance so far has been in Batman: Leviathan Strikes, which is explicitly stated to take place in pre-Flashpoint continuity.

Steph is unique among the Robins in several ways, being the one with the shortest term, the only (canonical) female, the only one to begin as a co-star in another book series, the only blonde, and the only Robin to never be adopted into the Wayne family. Following the New 52, Stephanie's status is still unknown, with numerous writers requesting and being denied even mentioning her. Eventually, Scott Snyder was allowed to use her in one of his Batman issues, which served as a preview of his Batman Eternal series, in which Steph plays a key role in the story. The daughter of Cluemaster, she accidentally stumbles in on a supervillain meeting of sorts, led by her father, which leads to him trying to kill her. While she does like to drop the word "spoil" and "spoiler" a lot, she has not yet adopted a costume or codename.

     #5) Damian Wayne 

#5)Damian Wayne

The 1987 story Batman: Son of the Demon concluded with the birth of a boy to Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul (daughter of Batman foe Ra's Al Ghul). The canonicity of the tale was questionable. In 2006, the existence of the son was confirmed. He was named Damian and had grown up to late childhood. Whether he is a result of mutual intercourse, a Child by Rape, or a Designer Baby created from Batman's genes is left ambiguous and many sources outright contradict each other. Damian was raised by his mother in the League Of Assassins, and, according to recent comics, was put through an initiation ritual known as the "Year of Blood" that involved 365 days of desecration, robbery, and slaughter. After Bruce Wayne "died" and Tim Drake permanently retired as Robin in 2009, Dick Grayson and Damian served as the new Batman and Robin respectively. In the new 52, Damian served as Robin beside his father. Damian was killed in early 2013 while doing battle with The Heretic, an accelerated growth clone of himself. However, in due time, Damian was resurrected and returned to his role as Robin (gaining superpowers for a brief time). He briefly appeared in Gotham Academy, going undercover as a student while figuring out the connection between the eponymous academy and Arkham Asylum. He then went off to atone for his past independently in his own series Robin: Son of Batman. It was in this series that the Year of Blood was established as part of his past.

     #6) Duke Thomas 

#6)Duke Thomas

During Scott Snyder's Flashback arc Batman Zero Year, Bruce encountered an intelligent youngster by the name of Duke Thomas. In the present, Duke returned in the Batman: Endgame, and has been announced as the lead of the upcoming We Are Robin series. In DC Rebirth, Batman tells Duke that he has no intention of training Duke to become a Robin, but something new, in an accelerated pace more akin to a partnership.

     Alternate Versions Of Robin 

Carrie Kelley

The Robin that appears in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Technically, the first female Robin, although she is not considered canonical. She later becomes "Catgirl" in The Dark Knight Strikes Again. She is also featured in Ame-Comi Girls as the Robin of that Alternate Universe.

She also exists in the New 52, but not as Robin. However, she did appear at a Halloween party dressed in her Robin outfit.

  • Aborted Arc: She appeared in two issues of Batman and Robin, and one of the following issues according to the trend adopted after Damian's death was originally renamed Batman and Carrie Kelley, but that never materialized. Fan theory at the time was that she was going to be the new canon Robin, but she's not been seen or heard from since.
  • Legacy Character: To both Robin and Catwoman.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's Carrie Kelley, but "Kelly" is ubiquitous among fans.

Robin of Earth-2

The Dick Grayson from the Pre-Crisis Earth-2. Distinguished from the mainstream Dick Grayson in that he never stopped being Robin, even after becoming an adult with his own superhero career.

Helena Wayne

The New 52 Robin of Earth-2, currently operating as the Huntress. The circumstances of her tenure will be expanded on in Worlds Finest.

    Animated Series 
  • Robin (Dick Grayson) first animated apparition is in The Adventures Of Batman and, afterwards, in Superfriends. This version wore the standard Robin costume, much like the film serial versions of the 1940s.
  • In the original Batman: The Animated Series, a college-aged Dick Grayson was Robin, and generally true to his roots. However, when the show was revived and revamped as The New Batman Adventures, they decided to shake up the status quo, graduating Dick to Nightwing and introducing a young Tim Drake as Robin. They skipped Jason Todd due to the character having some baggage that isn't exactly family friendly, but given that Jason Todd had an excellent origin story, the decision was made to combine the two into one. In this universe, Dick Grayson never quite reconciled with Bruce after their initial falling out. They could get along and work together, but were permanently estranged at some point. Meanwhile, Tim Drake had his career as Robin cut short after being brutalized by and accidentally killing The Joker. He grows up into a successful engineer with a wife (who, according to DVD extras, is meant to be an older Stephanie Brown) and kids. Robin not appear in Justice League and Justice League Unlimited due to embargo about Batman TAS supporting cast.
  • Teen Titans. The Robin appearing here is a mix of the first and third Robins. Leader of the Titans team, this is the first version of Robin that act independent from Batman (who is never mentioned in the show with just some hidden reference). It's intentionally left ambiguous which Robin he is as has never been directly referred to by full name. The style of this version's costume is still closely modeled on Tim Drake's first costume; however the colors are those of Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. Most people assume that he's Dick Grayson, since most of the clues point to it—the biggest of which being an Alternate Universe counterpart with the name Nosyarg Kcid (Dick Grayson spelled backwards).
    • Teen Titans Go! has a parody version of the character like the rest of the cast.
  • Robin appear in The Batman, introduced in Season 4. Based on the Dick Grayson version, in this instead of being a teenager to adult, he is 12. He borrows elements from the Tim Drake version, such as costume design and computer aptitude. His origin in "A Matter of Family" follows Grayson's from the comic books with the exception of his being Batman's second sidekick (Batgirl in introduced in Season 3), but his first official sidekick.
  • Young Justice setted on Earth-16. In this universe, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake are all known to be or have been Robin, while Stephanie Brown cameoed in one episode. The show has been praised for returning the relationship between Dick and Batman to its roots— in other words, they get along. Dick becoming Nightwing here is not because he and Bruce can't see eye to eye, but simply because he's grown up. Jason Todd has only been seen in a memorial and named only in promotional materials for the video game, while Tim was a supporting character in season two. Another notable thing the show did was give all three Robins unique costumes easy to tell apart. This is the first TV series to acknowledge the existence of all of the first four Robins.

    Tv Series 
  • Robin (Dick Grayson) is one of main characters of the famous '60s series Batman played by Burt Ward. He is noted for his recurring interjections in the form of "Holy ________, Batman!". The series avoided referencing Robin's origins as Bruce Wayne's fellow "crime orphan", as whose legal guardian the courts appoint Bruce.

    Movies 
  • Robin (Dick Grayson) appear in Joel Schumacher movies Batman Forever and Batman & Robin played by Chris O'Donnell. This version of Robin merged together his younger, more carefree days with his older incarnation (before he became Nightwing). His origin is actually a composite of two comic-book Robins; in the comics, Two-Face killed Jason Todd's parents, and that element (along with Jason's desire for revenge) were imported into Chris O'Donnell's Dick Grayson character.
  • John Blake. Appearing in The Dark Knight Rises, this is the Robin of The Dark Knight Saga though rather than becoming Batman's sidekick he's implied to have become the new Batman after Bruce Wayne's supposed Heroic Sacrifice. In fact, Robin is the character's legal first name.

Tropes associated with Robin in general

  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Although they are not exactly "super".
  • Badass Normal: Like their mentor, none of the Robins have superpowers. Damian is the first to break this mold.
  • Catch Phrase: "Holy (fill in the blank)!" Now used mostly as Self-Deprecation and Mythology Gags.
    • Mostly just Dick's, really. Jason tried it once, and Batman just asked him to never do it again.
  • Continuity Snarl: One of the policies of DC's New 52 timeline is that the timeline goes back no further than five years. However, Batman (and Green Lantern) were so successful at the time of the reboot that DC left its continuity as is - meaning that in the span of five years, Dick Grayson, Jason Todd, and Tim Drake all managed to become Robin and then graduate to their "adult" identities as Nightwing, Red Hood, and Red Robin.
  • Distressed Dude / Badass in Distress: Can't forget your roots now can we?
  • Distressed Damsel: For Stephanie and Carrie.
  • Foil: To Batman, in various ways. Dick's upbeat attitude made him a far more beloved and respected crimefighter than his mentor; Jason was a criminal before becoming Robin, and took the darkest aspects of Batman's goals while ignoring its benevolent spirit; Tim took a more pragmatic and functional approach to crimefighting, detaching it from his personal life instead of Becoming the Mask; Finally, Damian was raised to fight crime ruthlessly and without any tragedy to guide his conscience.
    • The Robins also represent specific aspects of Batman. Dick is the acrobat and leader, Jason is the fighter, Tim is the detective, and Damien is the ninja. Each Robin is also hinted to surpass Batman in the future.
    • With respect to their upbringing, Dick adjusted to life without his parents far better than Bruce; Jason never knew his parents and finding out his mother was alive led to his death; Tim's father was alive when he decided to become Robin; and Damian was raised in privilege like Bruce, but trained to be an assassin and killer.
    • Also of note, Damian was a foil to Dick Grayson's run as Batman, being the serious sidekick to his light-hearted superhero.
    • As of Rebirth, Damien is also the foil to Jon Kent's Superboy. Both are the sons of the two greatest superheroes, but, much like their fathers, are polar opposites. One is a brooding, misanthropic, suspicious pain in the backside with too much training and not enough friends, and the other is a cheerful, optimistic, polite little ray of sunshine still getting used to his powers.
  • Happily Adopted: Dick and Tim, at the very least. Jason is very Tsundereish about it, and Damian is blood-related to Bruce. Stephanie was never adopted.
  • Heroes Fight Barehanded: Notable exceptions include Tim Drake and Dick Grayson, both former Robins who now fight crime as Red Robin and Nightwing respectively. Tim uses a Bo staff and Dick a pair of Escrima sticks, presumably because their focus on agility over strength compared to other barefist DC fighters means the weapons give them the 'kick' they need.
    • Damien also favors katanas, while Duke uses nun-chucks.
  • Kid-Appeal Character: What Robin started as, and continues to be.
  • Kid Hero: One of the earliest superhero examples, although Spider-Man would become the Trope Codifier for comics.
  • Kid Sidekick: The Trope Maker and Trope Codifier.
  • Legacy Character: Taken Up to Eleven in that all of the Robins (save Damian) later graduated into another Legacy Character.
    • Dick Grayson became the second Nightwing,note  and upon Bruce's "death" became the third Batman.note  Dick was also belatedly revealed to not even have been the first Robin, as Bruce Wayne himself assumed the role for a brief time in his own youth.
    • Jason Todd became the Red Hood II,note  Red Robin II,note  and even became Nightwing V for a while.note 
    • Tim Drake eventually became Red Robin III.
    • And Stephanie Brown became Batgirl IV.note 
    • Even Damian Wayne was revealed to have become the sixth Batman in a Bad Future.
    • According to Marv Wolfman, around the time Jason Todd was introduced, one of the Batman writers wanted to de-age Dick Grayson and return him to being Batman's sidekick. As writer on The New Teen Titans, DC's hottest property at the time, Wolfman wielded a lot of power, and, not wanting to have Dick's Character Development undone, suggested that instead, Dick Grayson could move on to a new identity and a new Robin could be introduced as a publicity stunt (since that sort of thing had never really happened before).

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ComicBook/Robin