Zipping through the sky fighting crime alongside Batman may look fun, but everyone who has put on the Robin costume has a large number of horror stories they could share. Over the years, all of the Robins have taken a serious physical beating and have had their fair share of emotional and mental damage. Whether they are in or out of their costumes, the Robins have been forced to endure some seriously traumatic things over the course of the character’s history.
All of the Robins may be trained in how to fight and solve crime, but that doesn’t mean they are nearly as prepared as Batman himself to confront the bleak nature of Gotham City. Whether they are fighting some of Gotham’s most dastardly villains or just spending time with the Teen Titans, the Robins constantly have to be on alert and worry about life-ending threats coming their way. Robin may suit back up everyday and keep pounding the pavement to defend Gotham, but that doesn’t mean the work doesn’t have a long lasting impact on his mental state. At the end of the day, Gotham City needs the dynamic duo, so Robin always returns to service. Come check out the 15 most traumatizing things to happen to Robins!
15. TAKEN BY THE JOKER
Scott Snyder knows how to write the Joker, and his “Death of the Family” storyline puts the Clown Prince of Crime’s twisted behavior on full display. In his own way, Joker loves Batman, and he believes that through stripping away the things that make him weak, namely his family, Joker can make Batman a better hero.
To make this sick vision a reality, Joker specifically targets each member and takes them down one-by-one. After defeating them, Joker traps and forces them to sit at a dinner table in the Batcave. Not only are they all gagged and bound, but he also doused every member of the Bat-family with gasoline and threatens that he will ignite the whole cave if any of them try to escape. On top of that, he has a brainwashed Alfred serving them all dinners that look like their faces peeled and put on a plate.
14. FIRED BY BATMAN
As a child, it was easier for Dick Grayson to commit his time to defending Gotham City as Robin. As he grew and started committing his time to multiple things like serving on the Teen Titans, going to college or having relationships, Batman grew jealous and angry over his partner’s behavior.
In Nightwing: Year One, Chuck Dixon reexamined this period in Dick’s life. Batman makes it clear to his partner that he expects total devotion and he considers Robin a lieutenant in the Caped Crusader’s war on crime. As far as Batman is concerned, Dick is slipping, and the only way to move forward is to fire him and work alone. While it takes Dick Grayson a while to land on his feet, he ultimately receives a pep-talk from Superman and creates the Nightwing persona to continue serving as a force for good.
13. THE BOSS TOOK HIS GIRL
Due to the success of the Batman Beyond TV show, numerous comic book series sprouted up that served as a continuation on that story. The original series chose to not include Dick Grayson, and many fans of the series were left wondering why until the Batman Beyond 2.0 comic came out in 2014.
In the comic series, Dick visits the cave and has a discussion with Terry McGinnis, the new Batman. He warns him to be careful around Bruce and not trust him too much. Dick tells him that Bruce had an affair with Barbara Gordon, Dick’s old and current girlfriend, while Dick was out of town. Even worse than that, Bruce impregnated Barbara and didn’t seem to care in the slightest bit. Obviously, this drove a wedge between the former dynamic duo that was never fully healed.
12. ENDED BY HIS OWN REPLACEMENT
While the fatal blow was dealt on accident, that doesn’t make the killing of Dick Grayson at the hands of Damian Wayne any less tragic. Part of the Injustice universe, Damian fell in-line with Superman’s fascist regime while Dick stuck on Batman’s side in the superhero fueled war. During a prison riot at Arkham Asylum, the two heroes start arguing and Nightwing tries to tell Robin that he is on the wrong side.
Frustrated and tired of being spoken down to, Damian throws a staff at Dick that ends up hitting him in the head and sending him down to the floor. Upon impact, Dick hits a rock and ends up breaking his neck. As if killing your old friend isn’t bad enough, Batman disowned Damian after the act and said he considered Dick to be his true son.
11. FORCED TO EAT RATS
Batman may seem like a nice guy, but he’s actually kind of a jerk. His tough attitude is dialed up to 11 in Frank Miller and Jim Lee’s All-Star Batman and Robin, a reimagining of Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson’s early days fighting crime together. In this universe, Batman isn’t a respected member of the superhero community, instead he’s perceived as a lunatic who’s just as twisted as the villains he hunts down.
Upon first bringing Dick home, Bruce gives the kid a choice. He can be trained to fight and avenge his parent’s deaths, but if he wants to do that he will have to live under Bruce’s harsh restrictions. After accepting, Bruce locks Dick in the Batcave and forces him to dine on rats to survive. Alfred ends up sneaking Dick a few meals, but Bruce is adamant about the harsh environment he believes Dick must endure.
10. LOST HIS FATHER
As if serving as Robin isn’t difficult enough, Tim Drake had to deal with his father constantly worrying about him. While he was able to keep his outings a secret from his father, Jack Drake eventually discovers the truth and tries his best to keep his son safe. Worried about the things he does every night, Jack prefers when Tim stays in and watches a movie with his old man, but Tim constantly explains that he has a responsibility to help keep the city safe.
One night in particular, during the emotionally-charged Identity Crisis series, Jack Drake is the target of a hitman and he calls his son to warn him of the events. Batman and Robin race back to Tim’s home to try and stop the killer, but they reach the scene too late and discover the body of both Jack and the killer, the original Captain Boomerang.
9. TRIGGERS A GANG WAR
Stephanie Brown has one of the shortest stints as Robin, but she is also one of the most complex characters to don the mantle. Stephanie is no stranger to vigilantism thanks to her long career as Spoiler. Over the years, she develops a relationship with Tim Drake, and when he temporarily retires from the role due to his father’s anger, Stephanie decides that she is the best person to fill the role.
After months of training, Batman believes Stephanie can’t fight alongside him. To prove her worth, Stephanie steals one of his plans and accidentally sets off a gang war between Gotham’s criminals. Since she didn’t fully understand Batman’s plot, namely the fact that it all relied on his fake persona Matches Malone, things spiral out of control. As a result of this, Stephanie gets kidnapped and is tortured by Black Mask as he tries to ascend the power ladder.
8. LOSING HIS BFF SUPERBOY
Fighting villains on the weekend and going to high school during the week is a tough grind, and not many people understand it. The relationships young superheroes make during their stints with the Teen Titans serve as great outlets for these young adults as they transition through life. Tim Drake and Conner Kent, a clone of Superman and Lex Luthor, develop an extremely close relationship due to their time serving on both the Titans and Young Justice together. The boys confide in and support each other no matter the odds.
During Infinite Crisis, Superboy makes the ultimate sacrifice to destroy Alexander Luthor’s tower and temporarily stop Superboy Prime. Losing his best friend pushes Tim over the edge and he spends years trying to put his life back together and even makes numerous attempts at developing his own cloned versions of his old friend.
7. DETONATED BY BATMAN
Serving alongside Batman is obviously going to be an intense situation and a small amount of emotional or mental abuse should be expected. Unfortunately, in Batman: Odyssey the character finally snaps and sends his abuse levels skyrocketing. In the Neal Adams penned and illustrated story, Batman ends up going on a rampage and killing numerous people to achieve his mission.
At one point, the villain Sensei interrupts Batman while he is fighting another criminal to tell him that he has kidnapped Robin. Instead of figuring out how he can save his sidekick, Batman immediately pulls out a detonator and sets off a series of explosives that were secretly secured to Robin. That’s right, on his mission to wipe crime out of Gotham, Batman blew up one of his oldest friends without a second thought and kept focusing on the fight in front of him.
6. CHRISTMAS WITH THE JOKER
While there have been numerous Christmas themed Batman stories featuring the Joker, Detective Comics #826 is a single issue that follows what happens when the Joker kidnaps Tim Drake on Christmas Eve. The story starts with a mysterious figure saving Tim Drake from being gunned down, and when Robin approaches the car to thank his savior he realizes it’s actually the Clown Prince of Crime ready to set one of his own plots in motion.
After exposing him to some gas, Joker ties up Robin with some Christmas lights and takes him on a joyride across Gotham City. While he doesn’t physically beat Robin throughout the issue, he psychologically tortures him and forces him to watch as he guns down random people throughout the city. Ultimately, Tim frees himself and sets a trap for Joker that sees him hit by a semi-truck and falling off the Gotham Bridge.
5. FORCED TO WATCH HIS PARENTS
One of the newest Robins on the list, Duke Thomas fell into Batman’s world by accident. He originally met Bruce Wayne during the “Zero Year” event when the young boy was training his mind to combat The Riddler’s city-wide mind games, but their relationship didn’t fully develop until years later. As the Joker returned to terrorize Gotham City during the “Endgame” storyline, he kidnapped Duke and his parents in a sick attempt to recreate Batman’s origin story. While Batman does arrive on the scene in time to save the Thomas family, Duke’s parents are left severely infected by Joker gas.
Duke is forced into the foster care system and hunts down information about his parents on his own. Now, Duke serves alongside Batman as Gotham’s daytime protector, The Signal, and his parents are taken care of by a Wayne sponsored doctor.
4. ENDED BY HIS OWN CLONE
Seems like signing up to be a superhero means accepting the fact you might die while fighting, but Robin’s specifically have bad luck. Damian Wayne is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia al Ghul. While he eventually moves in with his father and becomes Robin, Damian spent the early part of his life being raised by his mother and the League of Assassins to become the ultimate weapon.
Disappointed that Damian chose to become a hero instead of a weapon, his mother and grandfather continually try to create clones of him that they can use to further their own plots. Near the end of an epic storyline, Damian died while fighting the Heretic, an adult clone of Damian. While Damian puts up a good fight for a while, he ends up getting impaled with a sword through the chest and dying almost immediately.
3. TORMENTED BY THE JOKER
Bruce Timm’s animated universe is typically a cheerier place than the DCU, but Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker is a dark exception to that norm. The film looks at what happens after Joker mysteriously returns to Gotham City and both Bruce Wayne and Terry McGinnis aren’t too sure just who he is.
Throughout the film, it’s revealed that Joker previously kidnapped and tortured Tim Drake. Not only did he force him to endure severe physical torture for three weeks, but he also slowly corrupted his mind and molded him into a miniaturized version of the Joker. While Batman thought he completely saved his former sidekick, it turned out the Joker had implanted a microchip with his genes inside Tim that could never be tracked or removed. Tim literally transforms into the Joker in-front of Terry’s eyes and tries his best to wipe the Bat out of Gotham City.
2. LOST BOTH HIS PARENTS
Before Dick Grayson became Robin, he lived a relatively normal life. Living and working with a travelling circus, Dick performed alongside his acrobatic parents as the Flying Graysons. His parents were highly skilled at their jobs and were a constant source of inspiration for Dick, but things all fell apart one dark night at Haley’s Circus.
While Bruce Wayne was in attendance, John and Mary Grayson fell to their deaths during a sky-high performance. Instead of it being a natural accident, the Graysons were killed as a result of meddling by Tony Zucco, a Gotham mobster who was trying to extort money out of the circus. Not only did Dick see his parents die that night, but the life he knew completely disappeared after the incident. This traumatizing act results in Bruce taking Dick in and slowly indoctrinating him into his crime-fighting lifestyle.
1. ENDED BY THE JOKER (AND THE FANS)
Part of being a superhero means taking a few punches, but no one signs up to be brutally beaten with a crowbar. During the Death in the Family series, comic book fans called in and voted for Jason Todd to be killed off. As a result of this, the headstrong sidekick dove into action alone to save his mother from the Joker, but ended up falling into a trap. Without the Caped Crusader there to save him, Robin could do nothing to stop the Joker from beating him viciously all while verbally abusing him.
The character was thought to be dead for years, but his status was ultimately rebooted as a result of Infinite Crisis. Jason Todd eventually returns to Gotham City, ready to enact his revenge on the Joker and hit Gotham City with his own wave of vengeful vigilantism.
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