Robin is arguably the most iconic sidekick in comic book history -- it helps that his mentor is Batman, a pop culture legend. In every medium, Batman and Robin have experienced countless classic adventures together. Given the Boy Wonder’s fame, many fans wonder who the best Robin is, but this question is practically impossible to answer. Most fans will have a definitive favorite, which is why the question is fairly controversial. Each (main) Robin has been a successful sidekick; they all bring a unique flavor to the role (yes, even Jason Todd). It’s hard to accurately evaluate each and every Robin as some of them didn’t hold the role for very long and others are still relatively new to it.
As a result, when we decided to make a case for the best Boy Wonder, we limited to the three most famous iterations: Dick Grayson, Jason Todd and Tim Drake (sorry Damian). Each one left a permanent mark on Batman’s life, and each Robin left an impression on the readers. Grayson is revered by most comic book fans, while most readers hated Todd’s version of the Boy Wonder (they went so far as to vote for his demise), and Drake is also a beloved character. No matter how you feel about these heroes, it’s fair to say that each of them was a worthwhile Robin. With this list, we hope to convince you of each character’s merit. No matter what, this question will remain a hot topic but, without further ado, we’ve listed five reasons each that Grayson, Todd and Drake is the best Boy Wonder.
15 DICK GRAYSON: THE ORIGINAL
As Robin, Dick Grayson has one thing that his successors can’t match, let alone surpass: history. Grayson was the first Boy Wonder and he debuted way back in in 1940 in Detective Comics #38. For casual and hardcore fans alike, Grayson is synonymous with Batman’s sidekick.
This long history has given Grayson a lot of experience. Technically, he’s the longest tenured Robin -- he served until 1969, which marked a nearly 30-year run at Batman’s side. Then, Grayson, who began to grow up, left for college. After a decade of sporadic appearances as Robin, Grayson became Nightwing and the rest is history.
14 JASON TODD: BRASH & BOLD
Todd’s brash, bold personality is polarizing. Many fans didn’t like the character’s (excessively) rebellious nature but, at the least, it was a change of pace from Grayson’s dynamic with the Caped Crusader. For the most part, Grayson was an obedient sidekick. Todd, on the other hand, challenged Batman at every turn. The defiant adolescent smoked and cursed and he directly disobeyed Batman’s orders on a number of occasions.
Todd’s rebellious nature created a fresh wrinkle in the dynamic between Batman and his sidekick. For this reason alone, Todd deserves some credit. The world may never know how this version of the Dynamic Duo would have played out over the long haul but we can appreciate the little evidence that we do have.
13 TIM DRAKE: TECHNOLOGICAL GENIUS
It’s fair to say that Tim Drake is the smartest Robin. Specifically, Drake has a brilliant mind for technology, so he excels with computers and science. Recently, in DC Rebirth, Drake has repeatedly used his master of technology to help Batman’s team in Detective Comics. Drake hacked into the Colony’s database and discovered their plans, which allowed his team to get a leg up on the enemy.
Then, Drake single handedly saved the day when he reprogrammed the Colony’s drones to target him instead of his teammates. Time and again, Drake has proven that his technological genius is valuable in the field.
12 DICK GRAYSON: CIRCUS BACKGROUND
Each Robin brings something unique to the table, and Grayson’s background as a circus acrobat has always proven useful in his career as a crimefighter. Even before his training with Batman, Grayson was an above-average athlete. His agility and skills as an aerialist are renowned throughout the DCU.
Other Robins have tried to emulate Grayson’s abilities but, again, it’s practically impossible to top the original. Grayson was arguably easier to train because he had a firm baseline of physical skills before he met Batman. Grayson’s acrobatics make him a natural Robin -- he gracefully flies through the Gotham night, as if he’s a bird.
11 JASON TODD: PASSION FOR THE ROLE
One of Todd’s biggest strengths was also his biggest weakness -- his tendency to rush into battle. Todd so badly wanted to be the hero that he always stormed right into danger. Time and again, he’d butt heads with Batman, who wanted his protege to take a more patient approach.
Though Todd’s impatience cost him several times, it also helped the young hero save the day on a number of occasions. By himself, he brought in the Scarecrow and saved the Caped Crusader from an ambush in Batman #425. We must also note that Todd’s habit of rushing into danger was directly responsible for the events in “A Death in the Family.”
10 TIM DRAKE: QUICK LEARNER
Drake’s genius makes him a teachable sidekick. As a quick learner, Drake was easy to train, which is something that Todd can’t say about his time as Robin. Drake, before he met Batman, had trained himself in various forms of martial arts, which made the Dark Knight’s job easier. Plus, Drake’s genius allowed him to easily grasp the various sciences Batman employs in his war on crime, such as forensics and engineering.
Every Robin goes through Batman’s extensive training program but Drake proved that he didn’t need as much “helicopter mentoring” as the others. All in all, Drake is a self-sufficient student, which sets him apart from other Robins.
9 DICK GRAYSON: HUMOROUS FOIL TO BATMAN
For many fans, Batman is known for his dark, gritty and brooding personality. Especially before Wayne met Grayson, the former was fueled by his pain. Even with Grayson at his side, Wayne still (initially) clashed with the bright and bubbly Boy Wonder. This contrast is one of the most compelling aspects of this iconic relationship, and one aspect of it is particularly intriguing: Grayson’s sense of humor.
From the get-go, Grayson approached his job as Robin with a light heart. He has always cracked jokes and delivered delightful puns during fights with criminals. Occasionally, Grayson’s humor makes even Batman smile.
8 JASON TODD: STREET SMARTS
Todd had a remarkably rough upbringing. Not only did he grow up in Gotham, which is a recipe for disaster to begin with., but Todd lived in Crime Alley, the place where Batman was born. Todd also had problematic relationships with his parents, so he was largely on his own. Todd made the most of a difficult background. He learned how to defend himself and survive on the streets.
Grayson’s training came primarily from his time with Batman and Drake taught himself martial arts. But Todd had first-hand knowledge and experience with Gotham’s streets, which proved invaluable during his time as the Boy Wonder.
7 TIM DRAKE: GREAT DETECTIVE
More than anything, Drake is known for his deductive skills. He figured out Batman’s secret identity all by himself -- the identity of the man behind the Caped Crusader is often considered one of the biggest secrets in the DCU (though, for readers, it’s painfully obvious). However, a nine-year-old Drake cracked the case.
He connected dots between Robin and Dick Grayson because, coincidentally, he saw the Boy Wonder perform an acrobatic move from the Flying Graysons’ circus routine. Then, a fairly straightforward line of reasoning led Drake to the identities of Grayson and Wayne. Additionally, Drake has used these deductive skills to learn the identities of Superman, the Flash and other heroes.
6 DICK GRAYSON: UNIQUE BOND WITH BRUCE
Grayson isn’t the only orphan in the long line of Batman sidekicks. However, Dick, as the first one, was able to create a strong, lifelong bond with Bruce Wayne due to their similar experiences with tragedy. Among passionate DC fans, Grayson’s backstory has almost become as iconic as Wayne’s.
Tony Zucco sabotages the Flying Graysons’ circus act and, subsequently, Wayne takes Grayson under his wing. From the start, Wayne and Grayson bonded because they could understand the pain, and anger, the other felt. This empathetic connection has defined the relationship between the two heroes, even as Grayson blossomed on his own and Batman has struggled with his own darkness.
5 JASON TODD: GUTSY FROM THE GET-GO
Say what you will about Todd’s personality as Robin but there’s one thing you can’t take away from him: he’s always had guts. In Todd’s post-Crisis on Infinite Earths origin, he was a kid raised on the streets on Gotham. In his first interaction with the Dark Knight, he to steal the wheels of the Batmobile. Even Batman had to respect the kid’s guts.
The crime is so audacious that even the Caped Crusader laughs when he sees his vandalized car. Stealing the tires was one of the most attention-grabbing debuts in Batman’s history. By doing so, Todd immediately showed that he had spirit.
4 TIM DRAKE: RELATABLE TEENAGER
Drake is the most “normal” of the Robins -- he didn’t tragically lose his parents at a young age, so he had a fairly typical childhood (granted, misfortune eventually struck Drake’s parents). Still, readers have always been able to connect with Drake because, in a lot of ways, he’s one of us. Many of his stories have featured common teenage issues, which made him a hit with fans.
On that note, Drake was such a huge fan of Batman that he trained himself to be worthy of the Caped Crusader’s attention. When the Dark Knight went down a dark path after the loss of Todd, Drake stepped in to save his hero.
3 DICK GRAYSON: MOVED BEYOND ROLE
Each of the three classic Robins (Grayson, Todd and Drake) has tried to shed the label of Batman’s sidekick. Drake isolated himself from the Bat-Family but maintained the association by using the name Red Robin. Todd became Red Hood, a fan-favorite character who’s a stark improvement over his Robin personality. Dick Grayson, however, stands out because Nightwing has become a legitimate hero in his own right.
Through the years, members of the Justice League have recognized Nightwing as one of their own. He’s fought alongside Superman and served as a member of the League itself. We haven’t even mentioned Grayson’s successful tenure as Batman, which speaks for itself.
2 JASON TODD: PERMANENTLY CHANGED BATMAN
Grayson permanently changed Batman’s life. Drake tried to save the Dark Knight from his anger and grief, but Todd has left the strongest mark on the Caped Crusader’s life. Everything, however, changed after the events of "A Lonely Place of Dying.”
More than ever before, Wayne realized the risks and the consequences of his war on crime. Sure, Grayson had been in plenty of dangerous situations, but the Dynamic Duo always found a way out. Not this time. Since this story, Wayne has been racked with guilt that has colored his interactions with every subsequent sidekick. It’s fair to argue that no Robin changed Batman more than Todd.
1 TIM DRAKE: PATIENTLY EARNED ROLE
The legacy and honor that came with the Robin costume meant something to Drake. He valued the role, more than Grayson and Todd when they started, because he was such a passionate admirer of the Dark Knight.
Unlike Todd, Drake didn’t rush the process of claiming the mantle. He knew that being Robin carried a lot of weight with it, so he demonstrated patience throughout the process of gaining the role. It took nearly a year for Drake to fully claim, and earn, the role. Even then, Drake kept training and proved himself worthy of Batman’s trust. In a lot of ways, Drake is the antithesis of Todd, which allowed him to genuinely establish himself in the DCU.