Batman doesn’t kill. At least, not anymore. It’s a defining aspect of the character, and classic stories such as Year Two and Knightfall have addressed the idea. Batman’s principles define him as a character, and this closely-held belief system has informed the majority of his superhero career. Even when it seemed to be the most reasonable option, Batman holds true to his belief that killing would just feed the cycle of violence that keeps Gotham City spinning.
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Such belief is, naturally, passed on to his sidekicks. A number of characters have been Robin over the years. As the sidekick and protege to Batman, he insists they also follow his one rule: no killing. But not every Robin has followed this rule, and there’s a little blood on most of their hands. Be it as Robin or under a later guise, the majority of the Robins are directly responsible for the taking of at least one life, and it’s how they cope with this that highlights not only their own developing moral code but their relationship to Batman in light of it. The idea of a Robin that murders people may sound shocking, but we’ve put together 15 times Robin has killed.
15. TIM DRAKE “KILLS” JOHNNY WARLOCK
Tim Drake was a hell of a Robin. Unlike Dick and Jason, he became Robin because he wanted to be. He wasn’t orphaned, still living with his father Jack. He wasn’t a fighter, but he was a detective with skills that impressed even Batman. But like the other Robins, he was emotional.
Enter Johnny Warren, a mob enforcer. Powered by a magical totem, he became Johnny Warlock. Robin dealt with him briefly off and on, but one encounter took a turn for the worse. Injuring Tim’s on-again/off-again girlfriend Spoiler, a furious Tim lashed out and beat Johnny to the point of death. It was something that rocked Tim to the core and even worried Bruce, but it was short lived. Warlock didn’t really die, but the totem he bonded with put his body in a near-death state so it could heal him.
14. DICK GRAYSON KILLED…BARBARA GORDON!?
Elseworlds was such a cool imprint. A staple of DC’s mid to late 90’s publication, the Elseworlds imprint was home to such classic tales as Kingdom Come and Superman: Speeding Bullets, stories that put existing characters in situations that could not or should not have happened. One in particular, Red Rain, saw Batman converted to a vampire, and was revisited again in Countdown Presents The Search for Ray Palmer.
Designated Earth-43, the book opens with Dick Grayson killing Barbara Gordon! But on this Earth, Barbara is a vampire, and Dick became a vampire hunter who has no qualms about killing vampires! Jason Todd, who is searching for Ray Palmer, pleads with Dick not to lose himself hunting monsters, but the vampiric Batman attacks and a helpless Jason cannot intervene. The book ends on a somber note, as Dick himself is turned and a vampiric Batman and Robin patrol Gotham’s streets.
13. TIM DRAKE KILLS THE JOKER
Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker is an animated film so good, it gives Mask of the Phantasm a run for its money. Released during Batman Beyond’s third season, the film brought The Joker to the neo-gothic future to face off with Terry McGinnis, and also finally told fans what happened to Batman Beyond’s Tim Drake.
A kidnapped and brainwashed Tim is shown as responsible for the death of The Joker, but how it happens depends on which version you watch. The original release was a heavily edited, PG-13 cut in which Tim shoves Joker into a room with a vat of water and two electrical cables, resulting in Joker electrocuting himself. Two years later, the uncut version released with the original death scene intact, wherein Tim shoots Joker with a BANG! gun spear, piercing his heart.
12. DAMIAN WAYNE KILLS NOBODY
While training to become Batman, Bruce studied under Henri Ducard and his son, Morgan. Disowned by his father after being beaten by Bruce, Morgan showed up as the mysterious Nobody in the first arc of The New 52’s Batman and Robin, attempting to sway Damian to his side, preying on tensions between Bruce and Damian.
Damian pretended to side with Nobody so that he and Bruce could deal with him. Aboard a sinking ship, a beaten Ducard taunted Damian, playing off the rage and fear he felt. Damian struck with a nerve blow he’d learned from Ducard and killed the man. It’s not clear whether or not this was intentional; the move was intended to incapacitate, but Damian knew it could kill if he missed. Regardless, Bruce and Damian both learned from the experience and gained a deeper understanding of each other.
11. JASON TODD KILLS LIGHTNING BUG (AND MORE!)
Batman RIP and Battle for the Cowl put Jason Todd in a weird place. Though he had an obliquely violent sensibility and was by this point very willing to kill, he was still undeniably one of Bruce’s sons. But after Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne claimed the roles of Batman and Robin, Jason sank back into his guise of The Red Hood and became a murderous anti-hero.
Teaming with Scarlet, a mutilated victim of Professor Pyg, Red Hood not only executed criminals such as Lightning Bug and a slew of mobsters, he publicizes the murders in the media, advocating for a permanent solution to Gotham’s crime problem. The two sway public opinion in their favor, and actually manage to best Dick and Damian, but run afoul of a mob assassin, The Flamingo. Jason was ultimately imprisoned in Arkham for a time, though he was eventually broken out.
10. JASON TODD KILLS (A VERSION OF) THE JOKER
Jason Todd had a long road to redemption and found himself on both sides of the coins on multiple occasions. Aligned with heroes at the time of Countdown (renamed later in it’s run to Countdown to Final Crisis), Jason traveled the multiverse with Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy on a quest to find Ray Palmer, who had been missing since Identity Crisis.
On one such world, Jason found something he’d always sought: belonging. The Batman of this Earth had resorted to lethal force and killed The Joker after the death of Earth-51’s Jason Todd. Bruce offers Jason the Red Robin uniform he had made, and the two form a bond. But in the ensuing skirmish to escape the dying world, Bruce was murdered. While mourning, an alternate Joker mocks the broken Jason, who crushes his skull with a rock before coldly leaving Earth-51 forever.
9. JASON TODD KILLS HIS MENTORS
With DC’s infamous line-wide reboot The New 52, Jason Todd had his resurrection story tweaked and modified ever so slightly. Jason, revived mysteriously by the time stream and placed in the Lazarus Pit by Talia al Ghul, was now entrusted to the mysterious All-Caste, a mysterious group of warriors who trained him how to fight before he became The Red Hood.
With The New 52’s launch of Red Hood & The Outlaws, Jason learned from Essence that The All-Caste were dead, having been attacked by a mysterious entity known as The Untitled. However, upon his arrival at their temple, their reanimated bodies attacked Jason and his companions, Roy Harper and Starfire. The trio fought off and killed the All-Caste for a second death, though Jason did so begrudgingly. Later in the story, Jason would kill again, killing one of the Untitled he believed responsible for the massacre.
8. JASON TODD KILLS ANOTHER MENTOR
In the original story, Jason’s return from the death and restoration in the Lazarus Pit were just the beginning. Jason was furious that The Joker was not only alive but that Batman had chosen not to kill him in revenge. Determined to get retribution, Jason begins training with some of the most vicious, vile, shady people alive.
Murderers, assassins, killers, chemists, Jason learns from all of them. But one in particular, Egon, meets a particularly grisly fate. While under his tutelage, Jason learns Egon is running a child sex ring, finding 42 children handcuffed in a shack. Knowing he couldn’t beat him hand to hand, Jason instead poisons Egon’s drink and fights him until he dies, an act he would later coldly refer to as putting down a reptile.
7. FINE… JASON TODD MURDERED A BUNCH OF PEOPLE
Yeah, okay, Jason Todd is on this list a lot, and he’s the most murderous Robin we could find (though Damian is giving him a run for his money). Jason’s existence in the gray area that Batman and his other sidekicks stay out of means he’s crossed the line more often than they have, but he does appear to show genuine remorse about it.
We do get a first-hand glimpse of this in the first Red Hood & The Outlaws annual. Having had his memory wiped to erase The Joker’s false memories from Death of the Family, an amnesiac Jason looks up his career as Red Hood using the computer on Starfire’s ship. There’s no specifics given, but a mortified Jason learns that he’s responsible for at least 83 kills, and those are just the confirmed ones. Robins have definitely killed before, but none quite on par with Jason Todd.
6. TIMOTHY DRAKE KILLS BATMAN’S GREATEST VILLAINS
Tim Drake swore up and down that he was Robin, and he’d never become Batman. So naturally, Tim encountered a future version of himself who had become Batman in the modern classic Teen Titans storyline Titans Tomorrow. He wasn’t exactly like Batman though, having become a cold blooded murderer over the years as he and the rest of the Titans stopped tolerating the actions of criminals.
In this timeline, a Crisis-level event had claimed the life of Bruce Wayne. Tim grew distant and cold, eventually adopting the Batman identity. Two years later, Duela Dent murdered Cassandra Cain, Bette Kane, and Alfred Pennyworth. Tim adopted a violent mentality and set out murdering all of Batman’s rogues. Using the gun that had killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, Tim soon killed every villain he could find and turned Arkham Asylum into a cemetery.
5. DAMIAN WAYNE KILLS VICTOR ZSASZ
The Damian Wayne of Injustice had it pretty rough. Though Bruce tried to win him back and eventually forgave him, the initial rage and disdain over the accidental death of Dick Grayson created a rift that the two could never come back from. Damian grew into his own fighting alongside the Regime, eventually taking over the Nightwing identity, donning his own version of the costume that was handed down from Dick.
Damian still had a bond, though, with Alfred Pennyworth, and Superman saw it as a threat. So, he let loose Victor Zsasz in the Batcave to kill Alfred. The Regime eventually captured Zsasz, but Damian never puts together that it was Superman who hired Zsasz. Blinded by anger, Damian disabled the safeguards on Zsasz’s cell and murdered him.
4. DAMIAN WAYNE KILLS VICTOR ZSASZ, AGAIN
Of course, the writers of Injustice 2 must not have been reading the comic tie-in, because the game has Damian kill Victor Zsasz in a completely different fashion. Set in a flashback during the story mode’s early settings, Batman and Robin head to Arkham Asylum to stop Superman from killing all of Arkham’s inmates. However, Damian clearly supports Superman’s more violent ideology.
Once in Arkham, as Batman and Superman fight, Damian grabs the incarcerated Zsasz and presents him to the two. Damian argues that letting Zsasz live is worse than locking him up and slits Zsasz’s throat with a Batarang with in front of the two as a show of support for Superman. A shocked Batman can’t even put up a fight as Superman and Damian leave the Asylum together.
3. JASON TODD (PROBABLY) KILLED A RAPIST
Felipe Garzonas was a real monster, busted by Batman and Robin after he rapes Gloria Stanson. But as he’s the son of a diplomat, they’re forced to let him go. Realizing he’s a cocaine addict, The Dynamic Duo stalk Felipe, intending to catch him carrying, forcing him to be deported. They succeed but before he leaves Gotham, Felipe reaches out to Gloria, and the final act of aggression drives her to suicide.
A furious Jason Todd pursues Felipe to his house, where he finds the man toasting his farewell to Gotham. Batman arrives just in time to find Felipe falling off the balcony to his death, with Jason claiming Felipe spooked and must have slipped, but as Jason was having problems with anger management, Batman doubts this. Did Jason push him off? It’s never been conclusively revealed, and it’s left up to the readers to decide, but it’s incredibly likely.
2. DAMIAN WAYNE KILLS NIGHTWING
Fans playing Netherrealm Studio’s 2013 fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us were shocked to see Nightwing siding with Superman’s totalitarian faction, The Regime. They were even more surprised within story mode to learn this Nightwing was actually Damian Wayne, and he’d taken on the mantle of Dick Grayson after he killed him!
The twist was revealed in the tie-in comic Injustice: Gods Among Us Year One #16. During a skirmish in Arkham Asylum, Dick is trying to reign in the temper of an out of control Damian. Damian hurls his baton at Dick, a move which he has been blocking throughout previous issues, but this time catches him unaware. Stunned, Dick falls and lands on a rock, breaking his neck. The death was shocking in that it was completely accidental, but it still created a rift that pushed Damian to the Regime.
1. DICK GRAYSON ALLOWS THE MURDER OF BLOCKBUSTER
The first Nightwing ongoing series is an absolute classic and one that any fan of the character should absolutely read. Seeing the city just as bad as, if not worse than, Gotham City, Dick relocated to Blüdhaven and found himself at odds with a slew of terrifying baddies, such as the delusional Nite-Wing and the crooked cop Dudley Soames, aka Torque. But chief among these was crime lord Blockbuster.
A brutish hulk, Blockbuster ran many of Blüdhaven’s seedier operations, and Nightwing was the only one opposing him. But things took a turn for the worse when Nightwing’s actions inadvertently led to the death of Blockbuster’s mother. Blockbuster dismantled Dick’s life, taking him to his breaking point. Unable to best Blockbuster, a crestfallen Dick stepped aside and allowed the vigilante Tarantula to kill the crime lord, an action which haunted Dick for the next several years.
Got a favorite example of a Robin murdering that we missed? Let us know in the comments!