Dick Grayson (also known as Nightwing) is different from his mentor, Batman, in many ways. Dick is a good deal more lighthearted and is a whole lot friendlier. Dick’s superhero name, Nightwing, was chosen because it had been used before by Superman, and Dick did not want to get completely tied down to the Bat-Universe (from when he was Robin, the Boy Wonder). This is because Dick is tied to the larger superhero scene in a way Batman never will, because Batman always keeps people at an arm’s length.
However, in some notable ways, Nightwing is very much like Batman. They are both dedicated, stubborn and occasionally obsessive people. As a result, there are times when Dick gets too stuck in his ways and lashes out at his friends and acts like a real jerk. Here are the 15 biggest jerk moves by one of comics’ most beloved and indeed loveable characters, Dick Grayson.
15. CONFIDENCE OR COCKINESS
One of the interesting things that makes the Justice League stand out in the world of superheroes is that, unlike most superhero teams, there is no clear leader on the team. They all seem to take turns being the leader. With the Teen Titans, however, it was always clear that Robin was the guy in charge (even when it was a different Robin later on, as Tim Drake became the third Robin and the second one to lead the Titans).
However, you would like him to at least pretend that he was taking his teammates’ ideas into consideration when he made the unilateral decision to have the Teen Titans join the Peace Corps (as part of the initial launch of the Teen Titans ongoing series by Bob Haney and Nick Cardy in 1966). He just sort of jumped right in there, huh?
14. TRUST NO ONE
In the history of the Titans, few long-running story arcs were quite as bizarre as the one involving the Titans taking in a group of runaways from an orphanage for super-powered children that the Department of Extranormal Operations operated. It was not the idea of the writer on the series at the time, Jay Faerber, but was forced on him by editorial, and it did not work very well at all. A book about the Titans should be about the Titans, not a bunch of super-powered kids being babysat by the Titans.
In Titans #38, we learn the truth of the newest member of the Titans, Episilon, but Nightwing reveals that he had been secretly investigating his new teammates for weeks without telling anyone about it. Dick is obsessed with being in control.
13. BLACK AND WHITE MORALITY
One of the biggest fights between Dick Grayson and his longtime girlfriend, Starfire, was Dick’s inability to understand Koriand’r’s background as a warrior. She was raised being willing to kill and that naturally caused some friction between her and Dick, who followed a code of non-killing due to his training with Batman. Despite having such diametrically opposed views on killing, the two slowly moved from being teammates on the Teen Titans to becoming romantically involved.
We don’t begrudge Nightwing his position, but he was repeatedly a jerk to Starfire about her beliefs, constantly talking down to her about morality and then not being willing to look beyond his own beliefs to try to give Starfire the understanding that she needed. His inflexibility was shocking at times.
12. BLACK AND BLUE MENTALITY
At the time of the New 52, Dick Grayson had actually graduated into becoming the new Batman, a role he had taken over when Bruce Wayne was seemingly killed during Final Crisis, but a role that Dick had maintained even after Bruce returned from the dead. They split up duties with Bruce running the international Batman group, Batman Incorporated while Dick watched out for Gotham City and also represented the Bat-family in the Justice League.
Then the DC Universe rebooted and Dick was back to being Nightwing, only with a red costume instead of a blue one. Plus, he had a bit of a new attitude, shown by him beating a criminal up and then using his blood to draw his Nightwing logo, to advertise his return to his roots.
11. EVERYONE HATES DANNY CHASE, BUT STILL…
On the TV series, The Brady Bunch, the final season of the show saw the family add in an obnoxious glasses-wearing young cousin named Oliver, who caused a whole new dynamic on the show. Audiences hated him and he was quickly written off, but “Cousin Oliver” remained as a term people used for when long-running series add new young people to the series to liven series up. It was a term that especially matched Danny Chase in the New Titans, as Chase even looked like Cousin Oliver!
The obnoxious young telekinetic was hated by many, and that even included Dick Grayson in New Titans #55 when Danny casually reveals that Jason Todd died and that it wasn’t a big deal since Jason knew the risks. Dick went off on Danny, despite Danny just being a kid.
10. BOY CHAUVINIST
In the landmark 100th issue of Brave and the Bold, Bob Haney and Jim Aparo opened the issue with Batman getting shot. His wound prevented him from investigating a major influx of drugs into the country, so he enlisted the help of three of his Justice League teammates — Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Black Canary. Meanwhile, Robin came home to Wayne Mansion when he heard that Batman had been shot.
When it comes time for Black Canary to play her part in the endeavor (she is to investigate a feminist book presentation), Robin is oddly dismissive to the older hero, confident that he could do anything Batman needed to do for him (this is before he knew that Canary’s assignment was to blend into a crowd of women).
9. NOT TAKING THIS PARTICULARLY SERIOUSLY
When the Team Titans came to the present day (their past) it was to murder Donna Troy to prevent her son from being born, as they know her son grows up to become their arch-rival, Lord Chaos (who divvied up the world of 2001 with the evil former superhero, Monarch). One of the Team Titans, Mirage, had a relationship with Nightwing back home in their time, so she was very interested in meeting the Nightwing of the past. She used her shapeshifting abilities to sleep with Nightwing as Starfire.
When her ruse was uncovered, Nightwing was oddly dismissive about A.) how angry Starfire was at it, and B.) how egregious Mirage’s violation had been. It was sort of an “Oh, you can’t get too mad at something like this” reaction by Nightwing that was somewhat disrespectful to Starfire’s feelings. He kept treating her like a child.
8. NEED TO KNOW BASIS
After being severely damaged during the “Titans Hunt” storyline, Cyborg became less and less human. Eventually, he merged with an alien race that was entirely computer-based called the Technis and he took the name Cyberion and left Earth. He eventually returned, only with his personality now so dormant that he didn’t even realize that his Technis abilities were leading him to kidnapping his friends and putting them into virtual reality worlds.
When they were freed, the Titans clashed with the Justice League over whether they could save Cyborg. The Titans won and Cyborg returned to a more-humanoid form for the first time in years. He joined a newly reformed Titans team, but Nightwing didn’t tell him (or anyone else) that part of the reason he formed the Titans is because he agreed to monitor Cyborg to make sure he didn’t turn evil. Stop hiding secrets from your friends, Dick!
7. A LITTLE MORE UNDERSTANDING
As noted earlier, Dick Grayson’s stubbornness was a real problem in his relationship with Starfire, especially when Dick would take a black and white position on something and refuse to allow for any other viewpoints on the topic. Dick, Starfire and Jericho visited Starfire’s home planet where they learned that, in order to maintain a tenuous peace on the planet, Starfire would haver to enter into a ceremonial marriage with a noble from another tribe.
She tells Dick that it would just be ceremonial and that they could then return to Earth and everythign would go back to normal. Dick, though, could not get past her marrying someone else. He refused to be with her any more if she was married to anyone else and they broek up.
6. YOU’LL LOSE THAT FINGER
During Forever Evil, the Crime Syndicate made a statement upon arriving on Earth by capturing Nightwing and unmasking him in front of the world and then seemingly murdering him. As it turned out, Dick survived their murder attempt, but his career was Nightwing was ruined. So instead he went to work as a spy for the spy organization known as Spyral.
In Batgirl #45, he abruptly dropped by to see his old girlfriend, Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon, while she was getting ready for the wedding of her best friend. It should have been a happy reunion, only he was oddly condescending to her considering that she thought he was dead! He kept trying to shush her to make her give him a chance to explain. Who puts their fingers on someone else’s lip like that?!
5. NOT ALFRED!
In New Teen Titans #18, Dick Grayson returned to Earth after his disastrous visit to Starfire’s home planet, where she was set to get married to another member of the planet’s nobility. He was a jerk to her about her responsibilities and then became totally unhinged when he came back to Earth and realized that there was no clear way to make him feel better about this, so he instead became a bit of a hermit.
He also snapped at other people, including even Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne’s trusted butler who had been like a father (grandfather?) to Dick since he was a little boy, but Dick was so caught up in his own business that he couldn’t keep from being rude to someone whose only “crime” was caring about Dick’s well being.
4. LAST LAUGH AFTERMATH
In The Last Laugh, the Joker discovered that he was dying of a fatal brain tumor. Since he was about to die, he decided to have one “last laugh” and came up with a way to dose nearly all of the world’s supervillains with a gas that would turn all of the villains into versions of the Joker. If he was going to die, he was going to take the world down with him!
During the fight to bring the Joker down, Robin (Tim Drake) was seemingly killed. When Nightwing heard the news, he flipped out and literally beat the Joker to death. He was luckily revived. Nightwing was distraught at what he did, though. When his girlfriend, Oracle, tried to comfort him in Birds of Prey #37, he instead was a total jerk to her, including telling her he might regret having an elevator in his home. Daaaaaaaaang.
3. TALK ABOUT BAD TIMING
In Nightwing Annual #2, we got to see the relationship between Dick and Barbara throughout the years, from their time as Robin and Batgirl through their present day time as a couple (the issue ends with Dick proposing to Barbara and her accepting — the story went nowhere after that).
However, the Annual also revealed one of Dick’s jerkiest moments that we never knew about, which is that when Dick found out about Barbara getting shot by the Joker, he went to visit her and the two spent the night together. Then, the next morning, he gives her an invitation to his wedding to Starfire! How insane is that? Who does that? “Last night was great. Oh, yeah, by the way, do you want to come to my wedding?”
2. TOO FAR
One of Dick’s closest friends in the world is Donna Troy. They have one of the great platonic friendships in the DC Universe. They make a point to always be honest with each other, but in New Teen Titans #19, honesty was not only not the best policy, it was downright cruel. Dick, as we saw before, was still moping from the events on Starfire’s home planet when Donna came to get Dick to talk to her.
He refused, but she forced him to talk. He then proceeded to tear Donna down, mocking her stint as the leader of the Titans in his absence and just saying all the cruelest things he can say to her, just to try to make her feel as miserable as was feeling at the moment. It was one of his darkest moments.
1. FURTHER THAN TOO FAR
An even darker moment, though, happened when Donna died in the Titans/Young Justice crossover, Graduation Day. Dick disbanded the Titans in the wake of Donna’s death, but his old friend, Roy Harper, convinced him to form a new team where it would purely professional and he wouldn’t get close to the members of the team so Dick would never have to feel the pain he felt when Donna died. Dick agreed and led the Outsiders, but it soon became clear that he was treating his teammates like they were cannon fodder.
Roy confronted Dick about it, admitting that he presumed that Dick would eventually get over his moping, but he was wrong. He then played the “you’re like your mentor” game (a low blow) but then Dick went way, way lower, knocking Roy for how he was like Green Arrow’s worst traits and a junkie. Total dick move.
Who do you think is a bigger jerk — Nightwing or Superman? Let us know your answer in the comments section!