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Characters / Batman: Ra's al Ghul

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    Ra's Al Ghul

"A criminal mastermind more dangerous than The Joker and Lex Luthor put together."

Probably the biggest threat to the world in Batman's Rogues Gallery, Ra's al Ghul (Arabic for "The Demon's Head", and pronounced "Raysh Al-Ghool" or "Rahz Al-Ghool" depending on the adaptation) is a centuries-old man who leads an enormous international terrorist organization known as DEMON (as well as the League of Assassins). Unlike most of the other Bat-rogues, he is actually quite cultured and polite, if ruthless, and genuinely believes his goals to be noble. Of course, since his goal is to "purify" the world by killing off ninety percent of its population, Batman disagrees.

With the assistance of the mysterious Lazaurus Pits, Ra's has achieved limited immortality, as they rejuvenate him every time he takes a dip. Such a practice has allowed him to live centuries, if not millennia, and he's taken advantage of such a long lifespan to master swordsmanship, war strategies, various fighting styles, and many other skills.
Ra's Al-Ghul first appeared in 1971 to provide a new type of villain, and Worthy Opponent, for the Dark Knight. Though created at the dawn of The '70s, he is more accurately a product of The '60s, and was influenced by the popularity of James Bond. Ra's is an archetypical Bond Villain, but slightly tweaked to fit in well with Batman and the greater DC Universe.
After being created in the 70s revival period, Ra's took much of the 1980s "off", rarely appearing as a Batman antagonist, before being revived in a big way for the 1990s. He's one of the few top-tier modern Batman villains who was created after the sixties show aired, and as such didn't have a counterpart there.
As stated, Ra's is second only to The Joker in Batman's Rogues Gallery, and may better fit the mold of an Evil Counterpart than the clown does. Like Batman, Ra's has wealth, skills, charisma, intelligence, and cutting-edge-technology, but unlike Batman, he also has the League of Assassins, an entire shadow organization at his beck and call which follows him like a devoted cult. Ra's' ultimate goal is to stop the slow death of the planet Earth... by wiping out most of humanity. In its place, he plans to build a new society which will be overall superior.
Ra's is nearly immortal—he is literally Really 700 Years Old. His life is extended by repeated usage of the Lazarus Pit, a mystical spring which can retard the aging process, heal virtually any wound, and even bring back the dead (though this does have the ide effect of temporarily driving the subject insane). However, repeated use of the Pit has made him addicted, and he has grown more and more reliant upon it as his time grows short. Which brings us to our next point...
The next thing Ra's is most famous for is his beautiful daughter, Talia al Ghul. After Catwoman, Talia is Bruce's second great love. And like Catwoman, being on opposite sides keeps them apart. Talia is often conflicted by her loyalty to her father and her love for Batman. She will often pick one over the other, only to change her mind again later.
Ra's whole-heartedly approves of the relationship between Batman and Talia, but only insofar as it will produce him an heir should Batman himself comply. He finally got his wish when Batman and Talia had a one-night-stand (or she raped him, Depending on the Writer) and she gave birth to Damian Wayne. However, Damian later defected and Talia had him cloned. Then the clone later kills Damian, who later gets better. In other realities, Bruce and Talia's son is Ibn al Xu'ffasch, and he does take over for Ra's; in a mild twist, Ibn is a benevolent leader.
Ra's and Batman have a mutual respect for one another, and Ra's has even helped Batman at times as a show of good faith. However, he will just as easily disavow their "friendship" and declare that he and Batman are fully enemies (this has happened at least a billion times), and he's not above using brutal, efficient, and downright inhumane tactics to defeat his nemesis.
Ra's has come to blows with both Batman and the rest of the Justice League of America many times, one time unleashing a genetically engineered virus on Gotham, and on another occasion, taking down most of the JLA with Batman's contingency files. He himself, however, was killed by one of his daughters, also a user of the Lazarus Pits, who was furious at him for leaving her to die at a Nazi Concentration Camp. Though he eventually returned to life, Batman was able to imprison him in Arkham Asylum under the guise of an inmate named Terry Gene Kase, and assigns him "medication" that keeps him highly sedated.
And if that weren't enough to make him awesome, Ra's is one of the few Batman villains that is fully aware of Batman's Secret Identity, even knowing the location of the Batcave.

Ra's Al-Ghul has appeared in:

    Significant Comic Books 


DC Rebirth


    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrow: Ra's al Ghul is referenced as early as the first season by former League member Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman), with Sara Lance/The Canary as one of his agents in Season 2. He appears in person in the third season, played by Matt Nable. It's revealed Ra's is a Legacy Character, with individuals taking the name having their life extended by the Lazarus Pits. At the end of the third season, Malcolm Merlyn ends up taking the title of Ra's al Ghul.
  • Gotham: Ra's al Ghul appears in the second half of the third season, played by Alexander Siddig.

    Video Games 
  • Batman: Arkham City: Ra's al Ghul appears played by Dee Bradley Baker. Ra's turns out to be the Man Behind the Man regarding the events of the game. He is still referenced either in story dialogue or easter eggs in the other Arkham Series games.
  • Batman: Dark Tomorrow: Though most of the game is set in Gotham and Arkham Asylum, after defeating the Joker, it isrevealed that R's is the mastermind behind the game's events, and Batman must go into the Himalayas to stop him from using a satellite to wipe out Gotham.

    Western Animation 


Tropes which describe Ra's Al-Ghul and his associates:

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    A to M 

  • Adaptation Name Change: The League of Assassins is sometimes renamed in non-comic works. Batman: The Animated Series called it the Society of Shadows, and the Dark Knight Trilogy called it the League of Shadows, as does Young Justice.
  • Affably Evil: Genuinely courteous to his antagonists, especially Batman.
  • Affectionate Nickname:
    • Refers to both Bruce and Tim as "Detective" as a sign of respect. He also never uses the title "Batman", since he views Bats as Bruce with a mask on.
    • Likewise, he refers to Superman as "Icon".
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • Is considered DC's answer to The Mandarin from the Iron Man comics, despite Ra's being Arab and the Mandarin being Chinese. This is due to both characters being the foreign archnemeses of American superheroes, their comparable intellects, resourcefulness and fighting prowess. However, this was not DC's original intent for Ra's, as they based him more on James Bond villains. Nowadays, it's rather that the Mandarin's current characterization in the comics has been off of Ra's, not the other way around. Considering how Iron Man himself has been considered Marvel's answer to Batman, this all makes sense.
    • More directly, he was created as Batman's equivalent of Ernst Stavro Blofeld of the James Bond film series.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Ra's is Arabian, though possibly with some mixed Chinese ancestry. Depending on the Artist Ra's and Talia are subject to looking anything from East European to Arabic to Asian. Notably in Batman Begins, Japanese actor Ken Watanabe as Ra's al Ghul was a decoy for the reveal that Henri Ducard, played by Irish actor Liam Neeson, is Ra's al Ghul at the end (it's left ambiguous if Watanabe's Ra's was the actual Ra's or was a pure decoy on the part of Ducard). In any case, both actors were a decent match for the character.
  • Anti-Villain: He has good motives, is highly respectful to heroes, and has strong ties of loyalty. On the other hand, he's a Social Darwinist, and considers anyone who doesn't agree with him to be an enemy.
  • Arch-Enemy:
  • Arch Nemesis Dad:
  • Assassin: Leads a league of them. He is also trained in various forms of assassination and stealth himself, although his advanced age make it impractical to use them when he has thousands of minions more suited for the task.
  • Back from the Dead: To the point that he's become a Plot Device for resurrecting other characters in the Bat-family.
  • Badass Beard: LOOK at it. One of his more consisted design choices, along with the Horned Hairdo and Skunk Stripes, is the "Fu Manchu"-style beard he sports.
  • Badass Cape: As if the trope pic couldn't tell you that his heavy green cape edged in elaborated gold embroidery doesn't create an imposing figure.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Being a Man of Wealth and Taste, he prefers to dress immaculately. Especially when meeting with other villains, such as in the Secret Society.
  • Badass Normal: Lazarus Pit aside, he's completely human.
  • Battle Butler: A big manservant named Ubu. It's sometimes implied Ubu is a title and thus a Collective Identity or a Legacy Character.
  • Beard of Evil: His beard's design has consistently invoked a very "Fu Manchu"-esque appearance, especially in works which leaned more heavily into his roots as a Yellow Peril antagonist.
  • Big Bad: For lots of storyarcs involving Batman and his related characters, and sometimes even the Justice League. The most notable one is Justice League of America: Tower of Babel. In fact Ra's is commonly seen as the top gun of Batman's rogues gallery in terms of threat level and ambitions; even the Joker, while insanely dangerous on his own, serves more as a personal threat toward the Dark Knight.
  • Body Backup Drive: Has a lot of "spare bodies" (read: his own children) ready for use.
  • Body Surf: Has done this on occasion while "dead". It usually never sticks, however, as he will often find his way back into his old body (or, sometimes, a cloned one greatly resembling the original).
  • Born in the Wrong Century: In the time era where he came from, Ra's Al-Ghul was a kindhearted physician who had a mindset that was progressive and charitable to all men, even evil men like the prince who lusted after his wife. Unfortunately, his era was also a time of brutality, conquest, palace intrigue, and the strong taking what they wanted from the weak. Sadly for Ra's, he was on the wrong end of his time era's ugliness which destroys his idealism and kickstarts his Start of Darkness.
  • Breakout Villain: Debuting decades after Batman's creation, Ra's is a relatively newer addition to his rogues gallery, but still considered one of the best and most memorable. Even in continuities or stories that have nothing to do with Batman whatsoever, Ra's will often appear as a major threat, Big Bad or Arc Villain, demonstrating his massive appeal.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Did this to his own father, who was revealed to be "The Sensei", his second-in-command.
    • Many of his children have done this. In particular, Talia has shown extreme displeasure whenever he uses her feelings for Batman to lure her beloved into a trap.
  • Came Back Wrong: Sometimes Depending on the Writer, but using the Lazarus Pit makes R'as a little less sane every time he uses it, which is why he tries not to. Future stories have the Pit having diminishing returns using after a thousand years.
  • Canon Immigrant: Ibn al Xu'ffasch first appeared in the Elseworlds story Kingdom Come. Bruce suspects he's his son, but it isn't confirmed til near the end.
  • Characterization Marches On: For the longest time, he was known as an environmentally sensitive villain who believed nature should be treated with respect. However, by the time of "The Hunt for Robin" storyline, Ra's al-Ghul seemingly has no problem using whales as incubation factories for his new Damien clones, causing them great pain and death in the process. And considering whales are considered a very vulnerable species in general, Ra's, at this point, doesn't appear to be as environmentally sensitive as he used to be.
  • The Chessmaster: Better at it than any other Bat-villain. Even The Joker.
    • Ironically, the Joker is one of the few characters to actually beat him in literal chess (the others include Batman and Bane).
    • Many of his plans involve using Batman's own gambits against him.
  • Chosen Conception Partner:
    • Talia has chosen Batman as her ideal breeding partner and mate.
    • Nyssa, Talia's sister, once chose Tim Drake, but failed. This was arranged by and eagerly watched Ra's himself as part of his ongoing very uncomfortable interactions with Tim that started around the time Damian first came to Gotham.
    • Ra's himself has done this with more women than you can count.
  • Combat Pragmatist: While he'll often fight Batman in a one-on-one duel as a show of respect, he'll start fighting dirty when it looks like he's actually gonna lose.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Talia's anguish stems from her desire to please her father and live happily with her beloved Batman.
  • Crazy-Prepared: The sheer number of methods this guy can use to bring himself Back from the Dead is staggering. But we wouldn't know about them if he weren't forced to use them.
  • Daddy's Girl: Talia is certainly this. She is torn by her loyalty to her father and her love for Batman.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Talia has done some really, really, abhorrent things to please her father.
  • Dark Messiah: This is how his followers, including his loyal children, see him. Ra's is often regarded as a prophet (or sometimes, even a god that will lead humanity into a new age. By, of course, killing off billions of the ones currently alive and remaking a new society in his image.
  • Darwinist Desire: Ra's desires a biologically optimal mate for his daughter. He dismissed Azrael as a possibility when his biology showed some traces of other animals (specifically, a gorilla was used as a surrogate mother to carry him to term).
  • Death Is Cheap: To the point that his Lazarus Pit has become the go-to Plot Device for resurrecting other characters (such as Lady Shiva, Jason Todd, Batwoman, and others).
  • Depending on the Artist: The trope picture shows gives him a lighter complexion than usual.
  • Depending on the Writer: In some continuities, Ra's Al-Ghul's centuries of fighting abilities are too much for Batman in a fight and Batman isn't able to do much more than foil his plans. In other incarnations, however, Batman is quite capable of defeating him in combat (albeit with some effort) and Ra's usually ends up getting humbled in some way at the hands of the Dark Knight.
    • His villainous plots and the motives behind them can vary depending on the continuity. Originally he was a fanatical eco-terrorist who wants to purge the world of most of humanity. Later writers note  present him as being a Well-Intentioned Extremist who desires to combat crime and civilizational decadence through extremely brutal methods that Batman has a hard time getting behind. And of course, there are also some writers who don't even bother giving him more sympathetic motives and just present him as a murderous global terrorist who does what he does For the Evulz or to just personally spite Batman.
    • Does he truly respect Batman or is he being Faux Affably Evil? Writers approach him different ways:
      • Some writers treat Ra's as someone who truly wishes Batman no harm, but sees him as someone who unfortunately must go For the Greater Good.
      • Others portray Ra's as an ultimately selfish bastard who only "respects" Batman as far as it furthers his goals, and who will mercilessly destroy Batman's life in extremely petty ways for daring to refuse his offer.
    • Some portray Ra's as someone who is willing to die for what he believes in, whereas his life is secondary to the Utopia he envisions. Others make him a megalomaniac who just wants make his own personal paradise, with people who further his schemes, and more women whom he can impregnate and discard at leisure.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: His backstory in Birth of the Demon reveals that was on the receiving end of some serious injustice from his hometown (namely, his wife got killed by a spoiled prince, and then the king convicted him for it). Once he's escaped, he leads a band of marauding nomads to slaughter the entire city. This is somewhat deconstructed, though, as he acknowledges that the experience doesn't really make him feel any better.
  • Eco-Terrorist: Ra's is dismayed at the human population boom and the way nature has suffered as a result. He plans to kill off most of humanity to forcibly restore the balance between humanity and the world.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: The League of Assassins employs people of every nationality and ethnicity.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: He generally opposes measures such as nuclear weapons that do more harm that good to the World's environment and he is often shocked by the savage, sadistic nature of villains such as The Joker. Ra's may not have a problem spilling blood but he won't do it unless he feels he must. In Death and the Maidens, he indirectly acknowledges that he takes no pleasure in the deaths he has caused in the name of his crusade, viewing those deaths as "necessary" while making it clear he doesn't want to face them again.
  • Evil Counterpart: Designed to be this for Batman.
  • Evil Is One Big, Happy Family: Subverted quite often. In particular, Ra's is typically disgusted by maniacs such as the Joker, who would have no place in the greater world he dreams of building (although he often does respect the Joker's "purity". He has also shown disdain for opportunitic moguls like Lex Luthor, who epitomizes the greedy, capitalistic society that Ra's wants to tear down, although he respects Lex as an intellectual equal. And Ra's also butts heads with Vandal Savage, which usually reveals a lot about both men, as their ultimate goals tend to overlap, but neither would accept the other ruling at the top of the "new world" they wish to build.
  • Evil Old Folks: Emphasis on old. A long lived terrorist and mass murderer who abuses his own daughters and grandson and has predatory grooming interactions with Tim Drake starting when Tim was in high school and culminating in Ra's very eagerly arranging for Tim to be raped and murdered when Tim was 18. Tim and Cass weren't putting up with that though.
  • Exit Villain Stage Left: Unlike most of Batman's rogues, Ra's tends to escape capture rather than repeatedly break out.
  • Expy: A little Ernst Blofeld and a lot of Fu Manchu. And the bit about wanting the hero to marry his young daughter is Marc-Ange Draco.
  • Flash Forward: He once fought (or will have fought) the Legion of Super-Heroes, a thousand years from now. However, it turns out that this Ra's is just a clone of the original, who was presumably long dead. The clone did not know this, and takes the discovery very badly.
  • Fountain of Youth: The Lazarus Pit, which has prolonged his life at the cost of degrading his mental faculties.
  • Freudian Excuse: He had his wife murdered before his very eyes by the spoiled prince he had just saved. He was then wrongfully accused of murdering his own wife. Then he was left in a cage in the desert to rot before finally being saved. The kind of tragedy Ra's went through would screw just about anybody up. All it took was one bad day to turn him into the would-be world conqueror that he is now.
  • Friendly Enemy: He can be very amiable to Batman when he wants to be.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: His prime motivation is to destroy humanity for the harm it does to Mother Nature.
  • Grand Theft Me: One of the ways he prolongs his life. It's left ambiguous how many times (if at all) he's ever done this, as most of his children are blood related, implying that he's only used the one body over the various centuries. Other works have stated that he's attempted this, but the transfer failed for one reason or another. It's also one of the main areas of research for the League of Shadows, as the number of available Lazarus Pits he has begin to dry up or become less potent.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: A number of villains are, or used to be, minions of his.
    • David Cain is an instructor for the League of Shadows.
    • Lady Shiva was intended to be one of his finest warriors, but she prefers being on her own.
    • His daughter Nyssa has troubled the Bat-family at times.
  • Heir Club for Men: He has lots of daughters, but considers none of them adequate to the job of being his heir. So he tends to throw them at men to produce better candidates. Downplayed in more modern works, where he has male heirs as well and is equally dismissive of them.
  • Hypocrite: Depending on the Writer, but many depictions of him focusing on his villainous nature tend to highlight how, under his grand goals and lofty plans, Ra's is really no better than the petty, shallow and selfish "common masses" he rails against.
  • I Want Grandkids: Well, he has them, but not enough for an heir.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Despite his importance, and that of various relatives, to the Batman franchise, he wasn't introduced until 1971 in real-world time.
  • Immortality
    • Resurrective Immortality: The Lazarus Pit can bring him back, if he needs it. But, it is less and less effective as he naturally ages.
    • In several adaptations, he branches out to the serial body-stealing form of immortality as well.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: On several occasions, R'as had the opportunity to kill Batman and his allies after foiling his plans, but instead congratulated them and let them go. Highlighted in a Batman/Daredevil crossover, when Bats quietly tells DD and the Kingpin to just leave and not try to get some karmic revenge on him.
  • Immortality Promiscuity: Ra's has had many lovers and many children across the centuries, though rarely considers them worthy of being heirs.
  • Immortality Seeker: One of his defining traits, and often used to push his more hypocritical depictions; Ra's is absolutely terrified of dying and will do whatever he can think of in order to preserve his own existence. Although he has the Lazarus Pits as a matter of course, he knows they're not 100% reliable — they can be exhausted, tainted or destroyed, and are either very hard or even outright impossible to replace — and so he's always looking for alternatives, either metaphorical (having worthy heirs) or literal.
  • Immortals Fear Death: Technically. He hates the idea of dying without his vision coming to fruition, and will do whatever it takes to prolong his life. If he had a worthy heir, he might be able to rest more comfortably—but even then, he'd probably stick around just in case, probably by taking the heir's body for himself. Even after his pits are destroyed, he still plans on using cloning to keep going.
  • Insistent Terminology: Ra's always calls Bruce "Detective", almost never "Batman", if ever.
  • It's All About Me: The degree can vary depending on the writer, but the only thing Ra's consistently cares about is Ra's himself. It's all about his plan to create a utopia, his plan to take on Batman as his heir, and his desire to live for as long as he possibly can, no matter the mental or moral cost.
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": The first part of his name has been pronounced at various times as "Roz," "Raz," or "Raysh," but never by its Real Life Arabic pronunciation "Ross."
  • Knight of Cerebus: Stories about Batman are not normally light hearted or comedic, but Ra's al Ghul's first appearance "The Demon's Quest" in the 1970s is an early example of Batman becoming darker. Coming just a scant few years after the campy TV series, following a legacy of over three decades of gimmicky, costumed villains, Ra's was simply a very wealthy and very warped (albeit semi-immortal) man who, for reasons that made perfect sense to him but no one else, wanted to wipe out 90 percent of the human race. This was also the point in history at which Batman himself began to change, returning from the Dudley Do-Right archetype he'd cultivated during the 1950s and '60s to the stern, brooding, and slightly unhinged "dark" vigilante he was always meant to be. It's notable that the "Demon's Quest" storyline had the same effect two decades later when it was incorporated into the animated series, and then again a decade after that with Batman Begins, which was quite the palate-cleanser after Batman & Robin. Even the grisliest Joker stories are guaranteed to have a few laughs; Ra's al-Ghul stories are invariably about genocide, which is almost never funny, especially when the character is no-nonsense.
  • Legacy Character: A couple of adaptations, The Dark Knight Trilogy and Arrowverse, have taken to using this as an alternate to his Lazarus Pit immortality. Batman Begins has the characters talk of his immortality and The Reveal in the climax has the Henri Ducard Ra's al Ghul whimsically talk of how myths and legends have mundane explanations. Arrow has Ra's explain that even with the Lazarus Pit he is only 150 years old (normally Ra's is upwards of 600 years old), but that he had succeeded the Ra's al Ghul before him.
  • Longevity Treatment: He needs more and more frequent trips to the Lazarus Pit remain young.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter:
    • Talia to Batman, but rare for the trope, Ra's approves. But only because Talia might be able to seduce Bruce into becoming his successor, or at least produce a grandchild that will.
    • Her sister tries this with Tim Drake as well. Although in her case, she doesn't actually "love" Tim.
  • Man of Wealth and Taste: He expresses a fondness for the finer things, particularly truly exceptional works of human triumph.
  • Master Swordsman: He's boasted of having fenced in the courts of King Louis XII through XVI, and surviving Cossack dueling circles - right before kicking Bane's ass in a sword fight.
  • Middle Eastern Terrorists: Hardly a conventional example; he doesn't appear to even be religious, let alone a fundamentalist Muslim. But he is Arabic- specifically, descended from a nomadic Central Asian tribe that settled in the Arabian peninsula (possibly something like the Uyghurs).
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Doesn't care about killing millions or even billions of people, but is distressed when Joker kills Jason Todd in Batman: Under the Red Hood. Bats calls him out on this, and this is Ra's explanation.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Has nothing but contempt for humankind, aside from his "chosen" people.
  • Motive Decay: Frequently and often, versions of Ra's al Ghul are introduced as a genocidal Well-Intentioned Extremist who wishes to turn the Earth into a paradise, but later on be pre-occupied with ever more selfish and heinous methods of just cheating death. Its implied that Batman, however, views him as a selfish bastard through and through, who hides behind eloquent philosophical excuses to dress up what is nothing more than egotism and megalomania.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Some depictions imply that this is the reason he will never find a "worthy" heir. Ra's has lots of children, but none of them (especially the women) ever met his standards. He thus charges his daughters with siring a worthy grandson, but even when they do, he will typically invoke some Secret Test of Character with rules only he can understand, which the heir-to-be usually fails. He'll then send his daughters after more men to sire more "heirs", and the cycle repeats.

    N to Z 
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Ra's al Ghul means "the Head of the Demon".
  • Noble Demon: Pun inside, he has a code of honor which he adheres by.
  • No Brows: In the original design, creators Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams specified that Ra's has no eyebrows; to give him a subtly exotic appearance. Many later artists have missed this detail, and draw him with eyebrows.
  • No Shirt, Long Jacket: Ra's really likes to loom about around Tim with no shirt under his long cape, starting with their meeting during The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul.
  • Old Master: Emphasis on old. Ra's is over seven hundred years old, and has spent most of that time mastering various forms of combat — particularly, hand-to-hand. He is capable of giving Batman a run for his money.
  • Ominous Opera Cape: Many of his outfits have him adorn a high-collar cape, giving him the appearance of a very classical villain. Fitting, considering that he is very old and old-fashioned.
  • The Paranoiac: Ra's al Ghul has all the hallmarks of a paranoiac Narcissist cult leader. Most notably, he is a Control Freak whose League of Assassins has a policy of punishing failure with death, something that rarely seems to produce results but would serve the purpose of making the worlds deadliest assassins more eager to succeed than turn against him. In addition, he never once accepts responsibility for messing up his family nor any blame for any of the murders and atrocities he has committed over the centuries, or plans to commit in future. He is also prone to Revenge on everyone who isn't Batman, whom he admires and perhaps secretly envies, although his gigantic ego is rebuffed by the Detectives refusal to marry his daughter and become his heir. He is utterly cynical about the rest of humanity and is a firm believer in Might Makes Right and Violence Is the Only Option, punishing any follower- or Dark Knight- who disagrees with him with object lessons. Essentially, he comes across as a man who secretly fears that he isn't as special as he always thought he was, and falls back on increasingly violent and extreme methods to both prove that wrong and stop anyone from questioning his superior image.
  • Prefers Proper Names: Ra's uses proper names for those on whom he has not bestowed a title like "detective", for instance he calls Tim "Timothy", Cass "Cassandra" and Dick "Richard".
  • Really Gets Around: Has lots of kids, from a lot of mothers around the world, but none that are apparently worthy to be his heir.
  • Restart the World: Ra's' basic modus operandi. His ultimate plan is to destroy modern civilization (as he considers it terminally corrupt and unsalvagable) and then create a new, "better" world run by people he considers wiser and more worthy. Some depictions make this a sincere goal on his part, with Ra's willing to leave things to a capable and worthy heir. Other depictions treat this as sheer megalomaniacal fantasy on his part, whereas he only wants a "better" world if he is the one to rule it, and any "heir" would only be himself in a new body or form.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Ra's has a particular affinity for green, be it formal wear, robes, or whatever.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: He knows Bats is Bruce Wayne, but considers it irrelevant, and revealing his identity would be counterproductive towards his goals. Now that Damian’s around, it wouldn’t be hard to connect the dots back to him should his identity become public knowledge. Pre-Flashpoint, it was common knowledge that Talia Head (former CEO of LexCorp) was Damian’s mom but it’s unclear if they knew she was Ra’s daughter.
  • Sinister Scimitar: He's commonly depicted wielding one of these, cementing his "evil ancient Arabian" origin.
  • Sketchy Successor: What his father views him as.
  • Skunk Stripe: As pictured, he tends to sport these to demonstrate that he's old, but not quite washed up. However, when his Lazarus rejuvenation begins to wear off, his hair rapidly turns white.
  • Sleight of Tongue: At the conclusion of "The Saga of Ra's al Ghul", Batman is stung by a scorpion while fighting a duel against Ra's. Talia lingers by the dying Batman, saying she wishes to give him one last kiss. However, she uses the kiss to give him an antidote to the scorpion venom, allowing him to recover hours later.
  • Smart People Play Chess: Interestingly, Bane beat Ra's at actual chess without having ever played the game before and the Joker also beat Ra's at a game as well by constantly switching strategies during the game.
  • Social Darwinist: His entire philosophy is a combination of this and eco-terrorism; Earth's population has grown too large, and the vast majority of those souls are unworthy to live, especially as they defile the precious ecosystems of fragile Mother Earth. Consequently, he wants to cut out the "dead wood" of humanity and leave only the worthy to rebuild and repopulate. Fittingly, at least one comic claims he actively worked with the Nazis as part of his goals to exterminate as many people as possible.
  • Sparing the Aces: One of the reasons he's so determined to lure the Bat-family to his side.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: He has targeted Batman and his "sons" to produce a "worthy heir". He encourages his daughters (and his sister) to accomplish this by any means necessary. While Talia herself would rather do this the old-fashioned way, both she and Ra's sister have stooped to rape to accomplish it. Allegedly.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Talia is incredibly beautiful and stands 5'8"
  • Straw Misogynist: Depending on the Writer, some versions of Ra's Al Ghul range from being skeptical of women's competence and capabilities, to downright despising the entire gender and seeing them only as servants and breeding stock. This is most often exemplified in his insistence that his daughters "sire" a worthy heir for him, while very rarely entrusting any of them with the role.
  • The Syndicate: Leads a vast criminal organization called "the Demon", (hence "the Demon's head") of which the League of Assassins is just the tiny part that reports directly to him.
  • Tragic Villain: His own wife was murdered and he was framed for it, which helped to kickstart his misanthropy. Over the many centuries of his life, he's made attempts to befriend individual people and has even attempted to see the good in mankind, only to be inevitably disappointed and have his disdain for humankind reinforced all over again.
  • Tautological Templar: Fully believes that Humans Are Morons and wants to wipe out ninety-percent of the global population to create a utopia. And he decides who lives in that utopia.
  • Übermensch: He believes he lives up to this ideal and, as such, he's justified in his goals to take over the world.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Ra's often lends assistance to Batman when he sees need to, but it isn't always the kind of help he wants.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means; Willing to kill billions of people in order to save the Earth from collapse.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Ra's encourages to the point that you almost believe he wishes he was Talia. In Batman Beyond, he was Talia thanks to a Grand Theft Me. He later tried to pull another one on a rejuvenated Bruce and pass as son of Bruce and Talia so he could merge his empire with Wayne Enterprises.
  • Villain Respect:
    • The villain that most respects Batman, to the point that he always refers to him as "Detective".
    • He later begins calling Tim the same thing.
  • Visionary Villain: The top one in Batman's Rogues Gallery, if not the entire DC Universe.
  • We Can Rule Together: To anyone whom he believes is a worthy heir.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: His son, Dusan, couldn't rest after death until he got Ra's approval, which Ra's finally grants him.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Will go to any length to do what he believes is the right thing.
  • Wicked Cultured: He's certainly lived long enough to become adept in many different philosophies, cultures, languages, and customs.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Every time he uses the Lazarus Pit, he loses some sanity - and he knows this.
  • With Us or Against Us: Will show no mercy to anyone who opposes his ideals.
  • Worthy Opponent: Considers Batman one.
  • Yellow Peril: Well, he's actually Arabian, but he's modeled after these kinds of characters.


    Talia Al Ghul 

Leviathan (Talia Al Ghul)

Talia Al Ghul (Arabic: Vanguard of the Demon) was created by writer Dennis O'Neil and artist Bob Brown and Dick Giordano. She made her debut in Detective Comics #411 released on May 1971.

Talia is the daughter of Ra's and was raised from birth to be part of his criminal empire, in both administration and combat. She grew up to be a shrewd leader and excelled in managing his criminal and legitimate operations and became his most skilled, loyal and trusted advisor which led to her being appointed as his primary heir, although her status as a woman still made her an unsuitable heir in his eyes and his ultimate goal for her is to find a suitable mate to give him true male-born heir, with the most famous candidate being Batman. While Batman is uninterested in Ra's plans, he has often demonstrated actual romantic feelings for Talia.
Talia is known for being one of Catwoman's primary competitors for Batman's Love Interest and oft-regarded as his second great love. And like Catwoman, being on opposite sides keeps them apart. Talia is often conflicted by her loyalty to her father and her love for Batman. She will often pick one over the other, only to change her mind again later. Ra's whole-heartedly approves of the relationship between Batman and Talia, but only insofar as it will produce him an heir should Batman himself comply. He finally got his wish when Batman and Talia had a one-night-stand (or she raped him, Depending on the Writer) and she gave birth to Damian Wayne. However, Damian later defected and Talia had him cloned. Then the clone later kills Damian, who later gets better. In other realities, Bruce and Talia's son is Ibn al Xu'ffasch, and he does take over for Ra's; in a mild twist, Ibn is a benevolent leader.
Talia is most commonly depicted in an Anti-Villain light or as an A Lighter Shade of Grey to her father, but Depending on the Writer she has also been depicted as a cruel and ruthless villain with little redeeming qualities. She's normally not above co-operating with Batman or other heroes if it would serve her own ends, and has firmer ties to the rest of The DCU villain community than her father, such as taking over for Lex Luthor as CEO of LexCorp upon his election as president or being one of the core members of the Secret Society of Super Villains.

Talia Al Ghul has appeared in other works:



Video Games

Tropes which describe Talia Al-Ghul:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • She was trained from birth to be a skilled assassin and leader by her father, so yeah. She also implies that he was distant.
    • Depending on the Writer she herself can be one to Damian, sometimes depicting her training of him as the same Training from Hell she suffered under Ra, or having her see Damian as just a weapon she happened to gave birth to. Not to mention the time she went completely crazy and had him murdered (but he got better).
  • Action Mom: Giving birth to Damian has not made her any less of a badass.
  • Adaptational Consent: Exactly how willing Bruce was during the encounter that produced Damian has flip-flopped between writers, with it originally being shown as her drugging and raping him, but after the New 52 relaunch it was retconned into a consensual relationship — albeit with Bruce being immediately creeped out about a child being the specific goal after he's told — which now seems to be the official version.
  • Affectionate Nickname: She calls Bruce Wayne "Beloved".
  • Amicable Exes: Seems to have become one with Bruce in Batman (Rebirth). After Catwoman beats her in a sword fight, a wounded Talia al Ghul crawls up to Batman and they act rather friendly with each other despite her attempting to kill him earlier that day. She also approves of Selina being Bruce's fiancée.
  • Anti-Villain: At her best, she's usually this, being more pragmatic and A Lighter Shade of Grey than her cruel father and assisting Batman on occasion if their goals align.
  • Asian Babymama: She's an exotic "oriental" woman (usually a vague mixture of Arab and Chinese, sometimes with some Eastern European ancestry thrown in) who ultimately bears The Hero's lovechild. However, Talia is given a lot more characterization than most examples of this trope.
  • Badass Normal: She's a deadly assassin that does not have any supernatural abilities, save for access to Lazarus Pits.
  • Betty and Veronica: The (relative) Veronica to Catwoman's (relative) Betty for Batman's Archie. Gotham City Sirens states that they are the only two women that hold a place in Batman's heart, although Unreliable Narrator is likely present, as he's shown feelings for other women, such as Zatanna and Silver Saint Cloud.
  • Big Bad: Revealed to be this for the Batman Incorporated stage of Grant Morrison's Batman epic in Leviathan Strikes.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Getting killed and resurrected countless times will do that to anyone.
  • Cain and Abel: Talia and her sister, Nyssa Raatko have had many problems; including Nyssa killing and reviving Talia numerous times with a Lazarus Pit. Nyssa also once killed Ra's (even though for Ra's, Death Is Cheap, due to the Lazarus Pits). Nyssa Raatko is later killed by the League of Shadows with a car bomb.
  • Chosen Conception Partner:
    • Talia has chosen Batman as her ideal breeding partner and mate.
    • Nyssa, Talia's sister, once chose Tim Drake, but failed.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Talia's anguish stems from her desire to please her father and live happily with her beloved Batman.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: In the graphic novel Son of the Demon. Said novel's canon level has ping-ponged back and forth. Ultimately averted with Damian though.
  • Daddy's Girl: Talia is extremely loyal to her father and has dedicated most of her life in service to him. Although over time, she finds his ruthless and genocidal plans to be too much and has sided against him on several issues.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: She often flip-flops between loyalty to her father and to her "beloved". She foils his 'destroy the written word' scheme, a lackey shoots her in the leg and the lackey is fed to lions.
  • Dark Action Girl: Talia is an athlete at the peak of physical conditioning and has been trained in many forms of martial arts since birth. She is also quite proficient with most hand weapons and is an excellent hand-to-hand fighter.
  • Dark Chick: For being her daddy's right hand, and her romantic tension with The Hero.
  • Dating Catwoman: Arguably the most famous example to Batman after the Trope Namer herself. It's been said that the only woman Batman has ever truly loved besides the aforementioned Catwoman is Talia.
  • Depending on the Artist: Due to her Mixed Ancestry of Arabic and Chinese descent Talia' has been depicted with a variety of different skin tones and facial features. Sometimes she's caucasian with no traces of her Mixed Ancestry, sometimes Ambiguously Brown with Arabic features and others with eastern Asian features. Her eye color is prone to change too. Her long, slick brown hair being her most consistent feature.
  • Depending on the Writer: Her characterization pingpongs around from writer to writer. At her best, she’s an Anti-Villain who genuinely loves Bruce and Damian but has a hard time playing by their rules. At her worst, she’s an irredeemable monster who’s worse than her dad.
  • Dissonant Serenity: No matter how upset, enraged, or surprised she gets, she almost always looks completely calm and seductive. Even when her son is critically injured after an explosion at sea, her orders for help are as calm as though she were ordering lunch at a restaurant.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: In some continuities, Damian is the product of Talia drugging Batman and having her way with him. Batman himself never calls it a sexual assault, but he is clearly not happy with her. This was originally a retcon of a story in which Damian's conception was consensual.
  • The Dragon:
    • She's frequently Ra's Number Two in his criminal empire, although sometimes other villains in the league outrank her.
    • She also was this for Nyssa during the brief time she became the new Demon's Head.
  • Dragon Ascendant: After Ra's death in "Death and the Maidens" and Nyssa's death in "One Year Later" she became the sole heir to the Al Ghul criminal empire... until Ra came Back from the Dead.
  • Femme Fatale: Beautiful? Check. Seductive? Check. Deadly? Double-check.
  • Glass Cannon: Much like Harley and Ivy, she isn't very resilient when it comes to physical fights and relies on her Amazon Brigade to protect herself. But she can definitely dish out a lot more than she can take.
  • Go-to Alias: On the occasions she represents herself as a legitimate businesswoman, she uses the name Talia Head.
  • Graceful Loser: In Batman (Rebirth), Talia doesn't seem that bothered by being beaten by Catwoman, implying the whole conflict between them was a Secret Test of Character to see if Selina was worthy of being his bride and she even ends up giving them her blessing.
  • Hypocrite: She hates Ra's for trying to control her destiny, apparently not realizing she does the exact same thing to Damian.
  • It's All About Me: The centre of Talia's world is someday ruling the earthly paradise Ra's promises with her destined partner and their son at her sides. That she wants to achieve this through absolutely no compromises on her part does not endear her to neither Batman nor Damian.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In "Hush", she was perfectly content to let Batman have his romance with Catwoman. Though that was mostly because she was not threatened, as she considers it simply a matter of fact that Batman is destined to marry her someday.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Much like her father, too much time in the Lazarus Pit eventually takes its toll on her mental state and moral fiber.
  • Loving a Shadow:
    • The more villainous and unhinged incarnations of Talia portray her affections directed solely at "the Bat," Bruce as a pillar of righteousness among ordinary men, rather than "the Man," Bruce's goodhearted yet imperfect humanity hidden under his mask.
    • In a platonic way, with Damian; She loves him, but that falls short compared to her love for who she wants her son to be.
  • Mama Bear: Mess with her son and you won't live long enough to regret it. Eventually subverted in Batman Incorporated v2 when she becomes an outright Abusive Parent Evil Matriarch.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Talia to Batman, but rare for the trope, Ra's approves. But only because Talia might be able to seduce Bruce into becoming his successor, or at least produce a grandchild that will.
  • Mind Rape: At the hands of her own half-sister, no less.
  • Misanthrope Supreme: Played With. While perhaps not to the extent of her father, she notably never objects to his plans to kill the majority of the world population. Often, she outright agrees that it has to be done.
  • Missing Mom: Talia's mother, Melisande, is dead by the present (just how she died has varied).
  • Mixed Ancestry: Talia's of Arabic and Chinese descent.
  • Most Common Super Power: Shown to have quite a buxom bust.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Talia is a Head-Turning Beauty and a frequent source of fanservice. Her outfits usually range from Form Fitting Spy Catsuits to exotic Stripperiffic outfits that expose her navel, legs and cleavage.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: In the video games and the animated series, her "accent" is anything but Persian.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Her iconic hairstyle has her eyes frequently disappear behind her bangs, which helps reinforce her "shady" nature.
  • Really Gets Around: Though she's never had strong romantic feelings for anyone other than Bruce, she has had many other lovers, including named character such as Bane, Azrael, Deathstroke and Jason Todd.
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: When she finally dons a super-villain costume, it's a plain, all-red jumpsuit with a black Dr. Hurt-esque mask.
  • Sex Goddess: She's a seductress and is sometimes portrayed as a very satisfying lover. At one point in Batman (Rebirth), she is shown leaving her own personal harem orgy consisting of both men and women who are all passed out in a haze behind her in bed while Talia herself still looks no worse for the wear, likely due to her enhanced stamina.
  • Sleight of Tongue: At the conclusion of "The Saga of Ra's al Ghul", Batman is stung by a scorpion while fighting a duel against Ra's. Talia lingers by the dying Batman, saying she wishes to give him one last kiss. However, she uses the kiss to give him an antidote to the scorpion venom, allowing him to recover hours later.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: Grant Morrison's Batman made Talia much more concerned with the idea of having Bruce's child and retconned the consensual encounter between them that conceived a child into Talia drugging and raping Bruce in order to produce an heir in Damian which was then changed back to consensual sex in the New 52.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Talia is a Head-Turning Beauty and stands 5'8".
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: She is the Girly Girl to both her sister Nyssa and Catwoman's Tomboy.
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Talia Al Ghul takes the cake, on one instance trying to utterly destroy Batman, kill his "family" and ruin everything he'd ever worked for... because he wasn't paying attention to her.
  • Woman Scorned: Her entire Leviathan scheme's motivation was "Batman rejected me". After she gives him an ultimatum about finally joining her and Damian to rule the world and he refuses, she says she'll destroy his world. She follows through.
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman: Talia has been described as a woman of near matchless beauty and Neal Adams once referred to her as the most beautiful woman in the world.

    Nyssa Raatko 

Nyssa Raatko

Nyssa is the sister of Talia Al Ghul, and one of the daughters of Ra's Al-Ghul. Much older than her half-sister Talia, the hardships she suffered led her to take up arms against her father.

  • Absolute Cleavage: At least one of her costumes has a décolletage that drops way below her navel.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Nyssa has been engaged in a centuries long war with Ra's al Ghul.
  • Cain and Abel: Nyssa has killed her sister Talia Al Ghul many times, after each time Nyssa would resurrect Talia only to kill her again.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Planned to destroy all hope and optimism in the world by assassinating Superman with kryptonite bullets she stole from Batman's Batcave.
  • Long-Lived: Nyssa has an extended lifespan through the use of Lazarus Pits. It is the reason she survived the Holocaust.
  • P.O.W. Camp: During World War II, Ra's had allied himself with the Nazis, and Nyssa and her family were imprisoned in a concentration camp.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Formulated a plan where she would allow The Society to conquer the world and destroy all the heroes: figuring that once the populace had tasted true oppression and seen their heroes killed, all apathy would die and the people would be willing to fight. She would then assassinate key members of The Society and she and Talia would rise up as leaders of the revolution. And, as he puts it:
    A new world will be born, one of peace and equality. Millions of lives will be saved.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Like her father, Nyssa believes she is saving the world. They just have very different ideas of what 'saving the world' means.

Alternative Title(s): Ras Al Ghul, Talia Al Ghul, Batman Talia Al Ghul


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