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The best incarnations of Robin, Batman's greatest sidekick

Best Robins
(Image credit: DC Comics)

Though Robin has been a part of Batman's history since almost his earliest adventures, most folks only realize he's had a couple sidekicks using the name - Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, you know the usual suspects.

But across different versions of the DC Universe, and even different realities, there have been numerous incarnations of the Boy Wonder (many of whom aren't actually 'boys' at all) - including the latest, Robin King, a Dark Multiverse version of Bruce Wayne who uses the identity himself.

With all that in mind, we're narrowing down the ten greatest Robins in DC history - some of whom might surprise you.

Make sure you check out everything we know about the upcoming The Batman film in 2021 while you're at it.

10. Jason Todd

Best Robins: Jason Todd

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Controversial, perhaps, but let's be honest: Jason was never a particularly good Robin, was he? 

In his pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths incarnation, he was essentially an over-eager, nervous clone of Dick Grayson, and in his post-Crisis incarnations, he was just a jerk with a temper.

We're not saying that the Joker was justified in what he did, but at the same time, if there was ever a Robin who didn't seem to be worthy of the name, it was young Mr. Todd.

9. Robin, the Toy Wonder

Best Robins: Robin, the Toy Wonder

(Image credit: DC Comics)

What's that, you say? You don't remember the cybernetic sidekick of the 853rd century from DC One Million?

Shame on you - not only does the character have a great pun for a name, but he's also had a pretty great origin story, being a robot programmed with the personality of the 853rd century Batman as a 10-year-old boy. 

If it wasn't for the fact that he only made a handful of appearances, this Robin would be far higher up this list.

8. Bruce Wayne, Jr.

Best Robins: Bruce Wayne Jr

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Decades before Damian Wayne was a glint in his mother's test tube, Batman's son was fighting crime as Robin in a series of "imaginary stories" set in the future starting in Batman #131, back in 1960, where, yes, he teamed up with a Batman who was actually Dick Grayson, taking over for his own mentor.

After four years, the character disappeared only to reappear in 1997's JLA #9, resurrected by none other than Damian Wayne co-creator Grant Morrison, in a dream sequence. Damian's secret origin revealed!

7. Helena Wayne

Best Robins: Helena Wayne

(Image credit: DC Comics)

And speaking of Dark Knight offspring, in the 'New 52' universe, the Huntress started her career as the Robin of Earth-2. 

This was revealed in the early issues of both James Robinson and Nicola Scott's series of the same name as well as Paul Levitz, Kevin Maguire, and George Perez's Worlds' Finest, even though we didn't really get to see her in action as the Girl Wonder of an alternate world for too long before Darkseid's invasion brought her to our world. 

Still, we can always hope for more flashbacks - if that version of the DC Universe gets a revisit someday.

6. Stephanie Brown

Best Robins: Stephanie Brown

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Yes, we know that Stephanie has a massive following online that, in large part, stems from her short tenure as Robin, but, really...? She made a much better Batgirl than she ever managed as a Robin.

The fault here was less the character than the creators, as Stephanie was pretty much given the role with the intent of setting up her eventual (and ultimately undone) death, necessitating that she was less than capable. 

Thankfully, the character was redeemed for a short while in Bryan Q. Miller's fondly remembered Batgirl series - an identity she'll resume alongside her Batgirl predecessor Cassandra Cain in an upcoming DC title.

5. The Pre-Crisis Earth-2 Robin

Best Robins: Pre-Crisis Earth-2

(Image credit: DC Comics)

Although, yes, the Pre-Crisis Earth-2 Robin is essentially Dick Grayson and therefore the same character as the 'regular' Dick Grayson, the strange and wonderful late career of the character merits his own entry in this particular top 10.

After all, while all other Robins have either given up their life or the identity as some point, Earth-2 Grayson kept being Robin well into adulthood, maintaining the identity even after the death of Batman himself, despite also becoming an international ambassador for the United States in his secret identity. 

Because, really, what else says political envoy if not former sidekick who can't quite say goodbye to the past'?

4. Carrie Kelley

Best Robins: Carrie Kelley

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The only reason that Carrie isn't higher in this list is that she abandoned the Robin identity pretty quickly in the grand scheme of things, having already ditched it in favor of becoming "Catgirl" in DK2.

Otherwise, Carrie is downright awesome, from her snarky can-do attitude down to the ridiculous goggles she wore when taking on the identity. Carrie made Robin her own in a way that few others have managed. Jason Todd, you should've taken some pointers.

She was seemingly primed to be used more with an appearance in the early days of the 'New 52,' but we've since learned those plans were aborted - but were the catalyst - for her return as part of Dark Knight III: The Master Race.

3. Tim Drake

Best Robins: Tim Drake

(Image credit: DC Comics)

What was that we were just saying about can-do attitudes? Tim Drake was a pretty great Robin, maybe a little too great, when you think about it.

While there's no denying the appeal of a Robin that is more than a little nerdy and socially inept, preferring to play Boy Detective instead of be a regular teenager not to mention the fact that his Batman fanboyishness was the thing that led him to assume the role in the first place – later evolution of the character into being almost as good a detective, athlete and superhero as Batman himself seemed just a little too much, somehow.

In the 'New 52,' Tim's natural detective abilities were seemingly transferred onto Dick Grayson's revised origin, and despite some conflicting mentions in early issues, Tim is now officially said to have always called himself Red Robin, with the modifier, out of respect for his direct predecessor's (albeit temporary) death.

Tim was believed dead for a time himself before escaping the clutches of the villainous Mr. Oz - and he's now finally back to using the Robin moniker after a stint as 'Red Robin' and then simply 'Drake.'

2. Damian Wayne

Best Robins: Damian Wayne

(Image credit: DC Comics)

In many ways, the ultimate distillation of all previous Robins – the snark of Carrie Kelley, the bad attitude of Jason Todd, the smarts of Tim Drake, the actually-being-the-son-of-Batman of Bruce Wayne Jr., and the natural athleticism of Dick Grayson – Damian is a remarkably, unexpectedly fun Robin, with a lot of the comedy coming from his inability to (and disinterest in) conform with social norms.

In other words, he is a Robin who really acts like a little kid at times, as annoying and hilarious as that could be. 

Plus, by rejecting his mother's plans and choosing to become a superhero, Damian proved that, deep down, he was a good kid. That is what we want from our Robins, surely?

1. Dick Grayson

Best Robins: Dick Grayson

(Image credit: DC Comics)

The original, and still the best. Dick set the template for what it means to be Robin, thanks in large part to the fact that he assumed the role for so long.

We've seen Dick-as-Robin in so many different ways: excited and eager, surly and sullen, and almost everywhere in between. But Dick also knew when enough was enough, and didn't want to grow up to become Batman (ironically, considering his future), which allowed him to outgrow the identity in a way that none others have properly managed.

For setting the pace, and for knowing when to leave, Dick Grayson is the best Robin we've seen so far – and, just to be particularly controversial, I'd argue that he's the best Batman we've had to date, as well.

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