Batman's war against crime started as a solo adventure, but it wasn't long before he realized he couldn't do it alone. Luckily, there were plenty of people in and outside of Gotham City who were willing to join his crusade and purge the world of the darkest criminals. Taking a pledge to fight for justice, many of these people were trained by Batman or some outside source to know how to fight the worst of the worst. They learned impressive techniques while still being guided by the Caped Crusader. Many times, their training leads to them becoming superheroes of their own who will return to Gotham and help when needed.
However, there are a lot of sidekicks to roam the buildings of Gotham at night, and it begs the question: who is the best of them all? With some discussion, examination of many comics, and consultation of fans, we've put together our definitive list for where we would place the other members of the Bat-Family. We are including non-canonical members as well, for the purposes of being all-inclusive. Where does your favorite Gotham superhero place on this list? Keep reading to see 15 of Batman's sidekicks ranked from lowest to highest.
15 CARRIE KELLEY
Understand that by taking the number 15 spot, that doesn't mean that we think Carrie Kelley is a bad character. On the contrary, there are many sidekicks who didn't make this list, and the fact that Carrie is here means that she gained our attention.
Carrie Kelley was the Robin in The Dark Knight Returns. She had no relation to Bruce or Batman, but when crime started exploding in Gotham again, she took matters into her own hands. She got her own Robin suit and patrolled the streets. Eventually, she was found by the Caped Crusader and brought into the Batcave where she would become his new sidekick. Coupled with a green visor and unique hairstyle, Carrie Kelley has a look all her own.
14 DUKE THOMAS
Lark (or the Signal) is the youngest character on this list. Originally introduced in 2013, he was a young man by the name of Duke Thomas, who joined the "We Are Robin" movement. Having some experience in the field, he was later chosen to become the next ward for the Dark Knight in the new Rebirth storyline.
Not wanting to just be a regular Robin, Duke was given a yellow suit that has a distinct look all its own. Due to him being so new, we don't know a lot about his character, which is why he's not very high on this list, but his determination and initiative made him a worthy contender. More will be revealed about him when Batman & The Signal debuts this fall.
13 JEAN-PAUL VALLEY
When people take religion too far, we end up with characters like Azrael. A man brainwashed by the Order of St. Dumas to be a ruthless assassin, Azrael eventually showed up on the doorstep of Gotham City. It's there that he initially contended with Batman, until he proved to be a clever detective and excellent fighter. The Dark Knight kept an eye on him.
Later, when Batman was incapacitated in "Knightfall", it was Azrael who was chosen to take up the mantle of the Caped Crusader temporarily. He was a much more unhinged take on the hero, though, as he wasn't afraid to kill. Later on, the power went to his head and Batman had to forcibly remove him from the position. He would be higher on this list if he didn't end up going insane.
12 DAVID ZAVIMBE
After the threats of the world became larger, Bruce Wayne knew that he couldn't handle it all and created the organization known as Batman Incorporated. It's there that many vigilantes were brought in to the Bat-Family around the world to essentially be everywhere at once, protecting the world from any threats. Among them was the man known as David Zavimbe.
Showing a prowess to combat, Batman brought him into Batman Incorporated as Batwing. Primarily operating in Africa, Batwing had numerous adventures where he would deal with terrorists in Congo or ancient villains threatening the country. However, Zavimbe's career wouldn't last, and he would pass on the mantle to Lucas Fox, the son of Lucius Fox.
11 STEPHANIE BROWN
If there were ever a more resilient person than Stephanie Brown, we'd like to meet them. Being the daughter of the Cluemaster, Stephanie always had a connection to crime in Gotham City. Disappointed in her father's actions, she one day decided to take up the name of the Spoiler and work to bring him to justice. Along the way, she encountered Tim Drake, who was Robin at the time.
Her connection to Tim Drake grew, and she began a relationship with the ward as well as a mentorship with the Dark Knight. However, in Batman #633, she got caught in a brutal gang fight and seemingly died in the field. It was later revealed that she was alive, and she became the Spoiler again, but also took Cassandra Cain's place as the new Batgirl.
10 ACE THE BAT-HOUND
The Bat-Family seems to know no bounds, as even a dog was able to join their ranks. Ace the Bat-Hound was the name given to several dogs owned by Bruce Wayne, but they're all equally important. While most of them existed to keep Bruce company at the Batcave, one of them would actually go out on missions with him to help solve clues and move forward in cases, but he disappeared during "No Man's Land".
Other Bat-Hounds would appear in the Bat-Family, the most recent one being a dog that Bruce got for Damian. Naming the dog Titus, this one seems to be a much more present version of the character and will likely stay for a long time. Ace helps to make the Bat-Family feel real as well as provide some of the classic campiness from the '60s.
9 KATE KANE
Everyone has to make do with the hand that life deals them, and Kate Kane wasn't given a very good one. Her parents were higher-ups in the military and this led to her family being captured by a terrorist. After her sister and mother were killed, Kate was never the same. She went to the military to try and impress her father, but was dishonorably discharged due to her sexual orientation.
After this, she didn't have much motivation in life until she was saved by Batman in Detective Comics #859. She chose to be a vigilante and trained around the world for two full years just to make it happen. She would operate on her own as Batwoman, but eventually gained the attention of Batman and was made an official member of the Bat-Family.
8 CASSANDRA CAIN
Just like Robin, the mantle of Batgirl has been passed down to many different people over the years. One of the best ones was Cassandra Cain. This young girl was the daughter of David Cain (the man who trained Batman) and Lady Shiva (a murderous assassin). She was born to create the perfect soldier, and wasn't even raised to speak -- only to fight and kill.
After denying the order of her father, she was eventually brought into the Bat-Family. The Dark Knight gave her all kinds of lessons on keeping her humanity, and she was given her own, sleeker Batgirl costume. While she may not be the highest-ranking Batgirl on this list, she was definitely one of the most capable ones to ever have that moniker.
7 DAMIAN WAYNE
When "Son of the Demon" revealed that Batman had a son with Talia al Ghul, people wondered which way it would go from there. Damian was raised to be the perfect assassin, and by being sent to Gotham, Talia hoped that he would destroy the Dark Knight. However, the opposite happened, and Damian bonded with his father, eventually becoming Robin.
Damian Wayne was a bit of a hot-head, but as a character, had a lot of room to grow. He was very distant, but learned to have friends in Dick Grayson and the Teen Titans. Due to how great of a fighter he is, Damian ended up being the only Robin who was allowed to wear a hood. Did we mention how cool it is to see a young Robin wielding a sword?
6 JIM GORDON
Ever since Bruce Wayne started his war against crime, one cop that's been there since the beginning was Jim Gordon. While this member of the GCPD tried to catch the vigilante at times, he eventually realized that the Dark Knight had good intentions and decided to work with him rather than against him. Read Batman: Year One to see this arc in action.
Crafting the Bat-Signal on top of the Police Station, Jim Gordon often approached Batman when a new case presents itself. However, being the active character he is, often finds himself right in the fray alongside the Caped Crusader. He also managed to be one of the most reasonable cops in Gotham, as most of them are either crooked or are working for their own agendas.
5 JASON TODD
While he was the most hated Robin when first introduced, Jason Todd slowly became one of the best DC characters, moving through numerous arcs in his lifetime. Originally meeting Batman when he tried to steal the tires off the Batmobile, he was brought to the Batcave and trained to be the next young ward. Due to his arrogant nature, many of the comic fans voted to have him killed off.
He was kidnapped by The Joker and you all know the rest. After being resurrected as Red Hood, he was trained around the world (even by people stronger than Ra's al Ghul). Armed with guns, a red mask, and a chip on his shoulder, Red Hood isn't afraid to do what's necessary to get the job done, even if that means working with the other members of the Bat-Family.
4 ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Batman didn't have a father for long, but after being isolated in Wayne Manor for all those years, it was Alfred Pennyworth who raised him. While teaching him the ways of society and basic human decency, Bruce Wayne eventually grew up and didn't Alfred to help him in the same way.
As Batman, Bruce instead consults Alfred as his number two and most important member of the Bat-Family. He ensures that all of the proper equipment is cleaned and that Bruce is patched up each and every night. He also serves as a grandfather figure to all of the Robins who enter in the Batcave. He has helped with many of Batman's cases as well, and in some incarnations, is ex-military, so he can fight too.
3 TIM DRAKE
Tim Drake has a history with the Batman lore. He was there when the Flying Graysons were murdered during their performance. After that day, his life was changed. He noticed Batman and Dick Grayson scouring the rooftops of Gotham and saw Robin's moves. He quickly deduced that it was Dick Grayson as the Boy Wonder.
After trying to get Batman and Dick Grayson to reconcile during their falling out, it was clear that it wasn't going to happen. Because of this, Tim took the mantle of Robin and became vital to the Dark Knight's mission. He was a great fighter, but his best skills were in his detective work. He proved a crucial aspect to solving many crimes and would continue his career later on as Red Robin.
2 BARBARA GORDON
Before all of the complicated villains and antics took over Gotham City, Batman was operating on a small scale. It was at this time that Jim Gordon adopted his niece, Barbara, after her parents were killed. Knowing that her uncle was working with the Dark Knight, Barbara became intent on joining his crusade. She took martial arts classes and honed her skills for many years. Then she crafted her own Batsuit and joined the night as Batgirl.
She was a very early sidekick of Bruce Wayne's, but their time together wouldn't last long. The Joker would end up paralyzing her from the waist down. However, she didn't take this as an opportunity to give up, as she would later become the technical support for Batman, known as Oracle. She remains a vital aspect of the Bat-Family after being retconned back into the suit.
1 DICK GRAYSON
After years of reading Batman stories and seeing his relationships with other heroes, we knew that there was no other pick for the top spot than Dick Grayson. Being the first Robin, this classic sidekick helped out Batman while learning to improve his skills. He did eventually have a fallout with the Dark Knight, but used the opportunity to improve and become a better hero as a result.
Even as Nightwing, Dick still does everything he can to save the world. He has since reconciled with his old mentor and the two work together many times. Dick served as the leader of the Teen Titans and rejoins them whenever they need an extra hand. He himself is a purer version of Batman, acting as the big brother figure to a lot of young superheroes while still maintaining his own spot on the Justice League.
Disagree with our ranking? Sound off in the comments section!