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Comic Book / Oracle

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Oracle keeping an eye on the Birds.


Barbara Gordon, famous as Batgirl and Oracle, is the daughter of Commissioner James Gordon of Gotham and was introduced in Detective Comics #359 (1967). She was created by William Dozier for the Batman (1966) series in the 1960s before being introduced in the comics by Julius Schwartz, Gardner Fox and Carmine Infantino.

Unlike Batwoman and Bat-Girl (characters introduced during the Silver Age), who were merely female counterparts to the Dynamic Duo, Barbara was completely independent of male superheroes, being a representation of the feminist movements of the 1960s.

Anyone who pays sufficient attention to the comics, however, knows that she has passed on the mantle of Batgirl and taken up the motif of the computer expert Oracle. Post-Crisis she had already retired from costumed heroics before being shot by the Joker in her home in The Killing Joke, paralyzing her from the waist down. Alan Moore intended for it to be a non-canon one-shot, but the story proved to be so influential that DC decided to adapt it into the mainstream continuity. John Ostrander's lauded Suicide Squad series then set her up with the Oracle role, with Ostrander's wife Kim Yale being instrumental in her progression. Babs later founded and lead the Birds of Prey and joined the JLA.


Incidentally, Barbara's identity as Oracle makes her far more influential and important in the DC universe than her role as Batgirl ever did. Of course, despite being primarily the brains of the Bat-family, she could still fight off anyone who's not a world-class martial arts expert, thanks to tutelage under Richard Dragon.

Barbara has returned to her role as Batgirl in the New 52, having regained the use of her legs due to physical therapy during the three years since the events of The Killing Joke, removing most of her time and accomplishments as Oracle in the previous continuity from canon.

From 1989 to 2011 Oracle was one of the most visible disabled heroes in comics, and the most visible one not to have a superpower or superpowered cybornetic implants that compensated for their disability. As she was widely considered a positive representation her relaunch as fully cured of her spinal injuries post-Flashpoint received a lot of backlash from fans. In the long term putting the Batgirl most known to the general population back in the uniform seems to be working out for DC, and has resulted in a fun upbeat book much like the Batgirl that was cancelled and removed from continuity for the reboot. However, the events of The Joker War sees Barbara step down as "Batgirl" and take up the "Oracle" identity again.


For her Post Flashpoint solo series see Batgirl (2011), for her DC Rebirth title see Batgirl (Rebirth).

Barbara Gordon/Oracle/Batgirl appears in:

    open/close all folders 

    Notable Comic Books 
  • Batman Vol 1 (1967 - 1983) as Batgirl intermittent appearances
  • Batman Family Vol 1 (1975 - 1978) as Batgirl
Crisis on Infinite Earths Vol 1 (1985)—
  • The Killing Joke (1988) Barbara Gordon is paralyzed
  • Suicide Squad Vol 1 (1987 - 1992) as Oracle first appearance of the Oracle persona
  • Batman Vol 1 (1988 - 2011) as Oracle
  • Detective Comics Vol 1 (1989 - 2011), (2018) as Oracle
  • Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Vol 1 (1989 - 2007) as Oracle
  • Hawk and Dove Vol 3 (1989 - 1991) as Oracle
  • Batman: Shadow of the Bat Vol 1 (1992 - 2000) as Oracle
  • Robin Vol 4 (1993 - 2009) as Oracle
  • Catwoman Vol 2 (1993 - 2001) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Nightwing Vol 2 (1996 - 2009) as Oracle
  • JLA Vol 1 (1997 - 2006) as Oracle
  • Batman and Wildcat Vol 1 (1997 -1997) as Oracle
  • Azrael Vol 1 (1995 - 1998) as Oracle
  • DCU Holiday Bash Vol 1 (1997 - 1999) as Oracle
  • Azrael: Agent of the Bat Vol 1 (1998 - 2003) as Oracle
  • Birds of Prey Vol 1 (1999 - 2009) as Oracle
  • Wonder Woman Vol 2 (1999 - 2001) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Batgirl Vol 1 (2000 - 2005) as Oracle
  • Harley Quinn Vol 1 (2000 - 2004) as Oracle
  • Batman: Gotham Knights Vol 1 (2000 - 2006) as Oracle
  • Batman: Orpheus Rising Vol 1 (2001 - 2002) as Oracle
  • Green Arrow Vol 1 (2001 - 2007) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Catwoman Vol 3 (2002 - 2008) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Batman: Family Vol 1 (2002 - 2003) as Oracle
  • Batgirl Year One Vol 1 (2003 - 2003) as Batgirl
  • Blue Beetle Vol 7 (2006 - 2011) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Rush City Vol 1 (2006 - 2007) as Oracle
  • Huntress: Year One Vol 1 (2008 - 2008) as Batgirl
  • Booster Gold Vol 2 (2007 - 2011) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Green Arrow and Black Canary Vol 1 (2007 - 2010) as Oracle intermittent appearances
  • Batgirl Vol 2 (2008 - 2009) as Oracle
  • Trinity Vol 1 (2008 - 2009) as Oracle
  • Oracle: The Cure Vol 1 (2009 - 2009) as Oracle
  • The Web Vol 1 (2009 - 2010) as Oracle
  • Batgirl Vol 3 (2009 - 2011) as Oracle
  • Birds of Prey Vol 2 (2010 - 2011) as Oracle
  • Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Oracle (2010) as Oracle
  • Batman Incorporated Vol 1 (2011 - 2011) as Oracle
Flashpoint Vol 2 (2011)—
Elseworlds and Alternate Earths:

    Film - Animated 

    Film - Live-Action 

    Live-Action Television 

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 

Oracle (Barbara Gordon) provides examples of:

for tropes relating to her Post-Flashpoint iterations see Characters.Batgirl.
  • Action Girl: Even in a wheelchair, she can still kick ass.
  • Age Lift: Her Post-Flashpoint iteration is younger than she'd ever been before, even at her very first introduction she was older.
  • Alliterative Name: Her early equivalent to Robin's "Boy Wonder" was "Dominoed Dare-Doll" (despite the fact that she obviously did not wear a domino mask).
  • Amicable Exes: When she and Dick are exes they tend to still be friends and get along which is good since they often end up working together.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Her previous identity as Batgirl, she's outgrown it as the powerful information broker Oracle. The Post-Flashpoint continuity ages her way down, and puts her back in the suit while erasing her legacy of mentoring younger animal themed heroes in Gotham.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Originally, her Batgirl costume was home-made, and was apparently made out of sheer admiration for the Dynamic Duo.
    • Batgirl: Year One: Originally she made the costume to piss her dad off at a policeman's costume party and ended up saving the day. In this version, she's a fangirl of Black Canary, instead of Batman and Robin.
  • Badass Boast: "You've escaped, and you think the world is a huge place, and you can hide anywhere, right? I'm here to tell you... That world? I own it. Your world is getting smaller by the second, and you can't hide anywhere from me."
  • Badass Bookworm: Even as Batgirl, she is a bookworm, physically unimposing and underestimated. As Oracle, she's in a wheelchair and still capable of kicking the ass of various muggers, five Men In Black and the elite secret agent Spysmasher on different occasions, in addition to being a master strategist with a photographic memory, unmatched computer skills and genius-level intellect.
  • Beta Couple: With Nightwing.
  • Big Sister Mentor: To both Cassandra and Stephanie, and to a lesser extent Tim, who she teaches new tech and computer things to and who gets along with her really well, sometimes even presented as an extension of Dick being Tim's Big Brother Mentor.
  • Bound and Gagged: Her Alternate Self, from an AU version of the Killing Joke where she was the one kidnapped with James Gordon Sr. being killed.
  • Cain and Abel: The Abel to James Gordon Jr.'s Cain.
  • The Chessmaster: She is able to manipulate and order around villains and heroes alike with a goal in mind which she very rarely fails to achieve.
  • Combat Stilettos: She wore them on her first mission in Batgirl: Year One, but she switched to flats after the heel broke.
  • The Cowl: Barbara was inspired by Batman and takes after him: she wears dark clothes and a cowl, she has no powers, and she patrols Gotham at the night, hunting criminals. In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Barbara serves as The Cowl to Supergirl's The Cape: she is rude, cynical and bossy; but she wants to protect and help people. Lex Luthor even accuses her from "[skulking] around in the dark alleys and back rooms".
  • Daddy's Girl: Is extremely close with her father.
  • Defective Detective: Jason Bard, Barbara's Love Interest in her Detective Comics days, was a private eye and Vietnam vet with a trick knee that often took him out of the action when Batgirl appeared. For more on Jason see his entry here.
  • Disabled Love Interest: To Richard "Dick" Grayson aka Nightwing post The Killing Joke.
  • Distaff Counterpart: Designed as one to Batman, and arguably worked even more effectively as one as Oracle than she did as Batgirl.
  • Dual Wielding: Like Nightwing, she likes to use Escrima Sticks while fighting as Oracle.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: In Convergence she finally marries Dick.
  • Everything Is Online: She takes advantage of this to fight crime and run superhero organizations from her clocktower.
  • Fangirl: How she started her crime-fighting career: she went dressed in a Batman outfit to a costume party. She's pretty much an ascended cosplayer. Compared to her predecessor Bette, though, Barbara has always been portrayed as open-eyed and level-headed about it, avoiding the Stalker with a Crush vibe that made Bette less popular.
  • Fiery Redhead: She's a very fierce and passionate redhead.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Her origins invoke this trope, as Barbara Gordon created the Batgirl costume for a Halloween party, and didn't tell anyone about it, so that when she went to the party no one knew it was her, however when a group of criminals crash the party she defeats them as Batgirl and has used the costume since.
  • Fountain of Expies:
    • Oracle was such an impactful character for DC that, since Barbara Gordon is tied in with the Batman license and thus she can't be used in most adapted works, they've pretty much resorted to putting in stand-ins for her in near-almost every DC work that's came out since. Steel and Smallville created Canon Foreigner original characters Susan "Sparky" Sparks and Chloe "Watchtower" Sullivan, while the Arrowverse largely resorted to heavily re-imagining existing characters, primarily Arrow using Firestorm's stepmother Felicity Smoak, who even spent a few episodes wheelchair bound and 'healed' via a cybernetic chip lifted directly from Barbara Gordon's New 52 story, and maintained Oracle's role as the universal go-to hacker. The Flash (2014) also had Cisco Ramon/Vibe and Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost alongside original character Harrison Wells, who collectively acted as a mix between Oracle, and Wally West Flash-era supporting characters Pied Piper and the McGees, while Supergirl (2015) used Winslow 'Winn' Schott Jr, son of the Toyman and Black Lightning had Gambi. Similarly, the DC Extended Universe gave this role to Alfred.
    • Ever since New 52, this has began to happen in the comics, with various other characters having to be created as an Oracle stand-in because of Executive Meddling forcing Barbara back into the role of Batgirl and actively forbidding writers from having her use her computer skills. Green Arrow introduced a new character Henry Fyff and later tried to canonise the aforementioned Felicity Smoak, while Teen Titans had Tim Drake having assumed a similar role up until recently in-universe, and Alfred took over this role within the Bat Family. After Barbara's history as Oracle was restored to some extent, she herself began to meet characters who were Oracle stand-ins, including a Legacy Character in Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, and with the restriction of having Babs at a computer lifted, it became common for her to guest star in comics about her friends where conveniently she recently suffered a leg injury and so could "only" help via Mission Control, ostensibly because the writer just wanted to use Oracle.
  • Genius Cripple: Babs was the poster girl for the positive heroic non-superpowered variation of this trope, as most who fit it are evil. The New 52 removal of her disability caused a lot of conversation about representation, and what a great and rare representation she had been due to this.
  • Grappling-Hook Pistol: Standard Bat-family equipment.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Sometimes written this way, given Nightwing's tendency to attract women, even unintentionally. She is more often written as understanding that other women coming on to Dick does not mean Dick is interested in them.
  • Hackette: Some superheroes did not know Oracle was really Barbara Gordon, and most supervillains (assuming they even knew about Oracle) did not know Oracle was woman. Some even speculated that Oracle was really an A.I.
  • Handicapped Badass: She's kept her upper-body muscles from atrophying in case she has to fight, and she even says that excluding her legs she's probably in the best shape of her life. Those who try to pick fights with the Commissioner's poor paraplegic daughter quickly regret it as she has trained extensively in how to fight with her handicap under the best martial arts teacher in the DCU, Richard Dragon.
  • Happily Adopted: Post-Crisis-but-Pre-Flashpoint, she was the niece of Jim Gordon who was adopted after her parents died in a car accident. The New 52 has taken this out of her history, as she is now Jim's biological daughter with his first wife as she was often considered to be Pre-Crisis though her mother's name, which had consistently been Thelma since the her introduction, has now been changed to Barbara.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
  • Hollywood Hacking: She's so good at it, she allows many to mistake her for a super advanced AI of some kind, which helps protect her identity.
  • Hot Librarian: Even as the wheelchair-bound computer hacker Oracle, she's drawn as hot with glasses, simply proving that Nerds Are Sexy. Bonus points for being an actual librarian back when she was Batgirl.
  • Hyper-Awareness: She is highly smart and has eidetic memory. She cannot miss out any details and she always remembers everything (including stuff she would rather forget).
  • Inspirationally Disadvantaged: Thankfully one of the less heavy-handed versions.
  • Knowledge Broker: Especially in her debut in the Suicide Squad books, when her identity had still not been decided.
  • The Leader: Of the Birds of Prey.
  • Like Brother and Sister: In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Barbara and Bruce Wayne have this kind of relationship. The Wayne family took her in after she was orphaned, and although she changes clothes around Bruce, there doesn't seem to be sexual tension between them.
  • Lovely Angels: Pre-Crisis, she and Supergirl were a very effective crime-fighting team.
  • May–December Romance: Depending on the Author:
    • In the 60s, she was at least seven years older than Dick Grayson. However, it wasn't until the 90s (after Batman: The Animated Series) when DC Comics began to seriously push the Grayson-Gordon relationship, where her age is implied to be much closer to that of Dick's, due to them being Childhood Friends. In Batgirl: Year One, she seems to be 2-3 years older, at most.
    • She has now been retconned to the same age as him thanks to Flashpoint. They were already about the same age in earlier works such as Batman: TAS.
  • Mission Control: Plays this role for Batman, Nightwing, Batgirl, and the Birds of Prey.
  • Most Common Super Power: As Oracle, her busty figure goes along with her Hot Librarian status.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: At the height of her career as Oracle, Barbara is a phone call away from basically anyone in the superhero community (and some more contacts besides.) In an issue of Justice League, she reflects that she has more brainpower at her disposal than the President of the United States. She just as quickly decides she's not going to dwell on that.
  • Parental Substitute: To Cassandra Cain, who even says that she thinks of her as a mother (just before she goes to fight her biological mother to the death). Barbara is very protective of Cass, and argues with Bruce quite often about how she should be treated. However, Barbara can also get impatient with her, which leads to a falling out between them when she snaps and insults Cass.
  • Photographic Memory: Unfortunate in this case, since she remembers every detail of getting shot by the Joker.
  • Redhead In Green: Babs often wears green in her civilian wear and as Oracle. While she was a librarian she almost exclusively wore green to work.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Invoked and lampshaded, and contentiously justified; at one point in the comics, Barbara admits that as a superhero, she has access to a large array of potential cures for her paralysis; magically fixing herself, cybernetic implants, experimental cellular regeneration serums, untested surgical procedures, even medical exoskeletons. She just refuses to use any of these sources on moral principle, as they aren't commercially available and she feels it's wrong for her to take advantage of her unique connections to fix herself when other people have to live with their paraplegia. Sadly, that argument doesn't hold water when you consider that there are other superheroes who have had their paraplegia fixed by such cures: look at Comic Book/Cyborg! So, with the New 52, Barbara finally got her paralysis cured.
  • Relationship Revolving Door: Her relationship with Dick Grayson. Since the 90s, they've been an Official Couple, have broken up, and then later engaged. Said engagement was retconned when plans to kill off Dick were shelved. Since then, they've been Amicable Exes, up until the New 52, which has them as Childhood Friends with a heavy dose of Will They or Won't They? that occasionally ventures into Belligerent Sexual Tension territory.
  • Retcon / Ret-Canon: Barbara's age. She was originally a college graduate with a Ph.D while Dick Grayson was still in high school (later a Congresswoman while he was in college, meaning she was, at some point, at least 25), but has been gradually de-aged over the years until the post-Flashpoint reboot has them at the same age, and barely out of college. Rumor has it that one of the reasons for the reboot was that word around the office was that Barbara was probably pushing 30 by this point, and that wasn't workable. This arguably began with Batman: The Animated Series, which showed her as roughly the same age as Dick and paired them up romantically.
  • Sensual Spandex: varies on the artist, but particularly noted during the 1970s as the writers aged Barbara into her mid-20s.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: A green eyed redhead who, as Oracle, was one of the most important players in the DCU respected by the JLA, JSA, Teen Titans and every other major hero as well as having ties to and a degree of control over the Suicide Squad and other less heroic groups.
  • The Smart Girl: Oracle is arguably one for the entire DCU, considering how much heroes rely on her information and hacking skills.
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Her injury in The Killing Joke is this, no question. It's been noted that she's not so much a character in that story as she is a plot device to cause Commissioner Gordon and Batman pain. Alan Moore is on the record saying that this was a case where DC probably should have reined him in. In fact, he’s also said that at least one higher-up actually told him to kill her off, but he disagreed.
    • Rectified, however, when John Ostrander and Kim Yale re-established her as the disabled superhero Oracle, which garnered praise for DC in its handling of disabilities, at least until they decided to retcon Oracle (and the events of The Killing Joke) out of existence in the New 52 continuity.
  • Team Mom: Before her leaving Gotham during the 'War Games' arc, she fulfilled this role to the Bat-Family. Which made things slightly odd given that Batman is one of her father figures. And that for a long while she was dating Nightwing.
  • Technopath: Just... read the entry there. You may want to prepare a barf bag, though.
  • They Do: With Nightwing, at least for a time.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Barbara grew to think that she was useless as Batgirl. After the Joker shot her, Barbara refused to let that get her down and rebuilt her life as the master Knowledge Broker/Hacker of The DCU whom many of its most powerful superheroes rely on as a vital ally.
  • Vague Age: Prior to Flashpoint, her age in relation to other characters often fluctuates. See entry under May–December Romance.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: As Oracle Babs acts as such for the Birds of Prey, most of the Bat family when they need her, and other hero teams as needed. Even if they weren't asking for help and she had to hack into their systems to boss them around no one in the hero community is usually foolish enough to not listen.

Oracle: The Cure provides examples of:

The Oracle Code provides examples of:

  • Younger and Hipper: Babs was always a college grad with experience as a senator before becoming Oracle before, here she's much younger.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: