Since Dick Grayson was first introduced in 1940's Detective Comics #38, the idea that Bruce Wayne has a ward and sidekick has become one of the key tenets of Batman lore. But as is the way with superheroes, the idea of Robin has gone through some dark and surprising changes over the years. We’ve come a long way from the Golden Age, and our Boy Wonder has grown up—figuratively and literally. The mantle has been passed on and then passed on again, and not everyone who’s had a stint behind the domino mask has handled it the same way. Some Robins have been downright anti-heroic. From resurrected sidekicks to undead children all the way through to some EXTREEEEME ’90s reimaginings, let's get hardcore with our six edgiest Robins!
Note: I'll be ranking their edginess using a very scientific 10 out 10 of skulls rating system.
5) Red X
First Appearance: Teen Titans (TV series) S1 E9 "Masks" (2003)
Introduced By: Thomas Pugsley and Greg Klein
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀
Seeing as this badass iteration of Robin was introduced in the beloved Teen Titans animated series as a way for Robin to infiltrate a villainous plan, he ends up at the least edgy end of our ranking. But this reimagining was an interesting one that saw Red X first appear as a potential ally to Slade Wilson and antagonist for the Teen Titans before it was revealed that it was actually Robin in a super cool disguise. The impact of Red X would go on, though, as a new version of the character would later show up in the series.
Later still, Tim Sheridan, Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona and Alejandro Sánchez would bring Red X to the world of DC’s comics in Future State: Teen Titans #1. So yes, Robin's dark alter-ego still packs a punch.
4) Carrie Kelley
First Appearance: The Dark Knight Returns #1 (1986)
Introduced By: Frank Miller, Lynn Varley and Klaus Janson
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
While Carrie Kelley herself isn't particularly edgy and is actually a pretty pure sidekick, I couldn't not mention her seeing as she was introduced in one of the edgiest comics of all time and is my personal favorite Robin.
Carrie Kelley marks the first time that a girl took on the mantle of Batman's sidekick and did it with aplomb, basically pestering Batman until he let her tag along. Fighting against the mutant gangs and more, Carrie stands as one of the coolest Robins ever and arguably the one who saw the most death up close thanks to the brutality of The Dark Knight Returns. In later books, she would take on the even edgier and more questionable mantle of Catgirl and would even pose as Batman. But for a legion of ’80s fans, she'll always be Robin.
First Appearance: New Titans Annual #7 (1993)
Introduced By: Marv Wolfman, Tom Grindberg, Tom Grummett and Al Vey
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
The ’90s is remembered as the extreme era of comics thanks to the trend of violent, outrageous and often incredibly muscular heroes that filled comics stands everywhere. When Wolfman and Grindberg brought Deathwing to life, they were leaning into the style of the time as the giant-collared hunk with his bare chest and domino mask swung his way into Gotham claiming to be Dick Grayson. Of course, he was actually a poor brainwashed youth who was secretly implanted with the memories of the hero. Though he was briefly a part of the Team Titans, he was a true villain who would go on to brutally sexually assault Mirage. That's the curse of ’90s comics: great character designs, less than desirable treatment of women!
2) Jason Todd (DRAW)
First Appearance: Batman #357 (1983)
Introduced By: Gerry Conway and Don Newton
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
By and large, if we are just talking about the classic "Robins" and not any mantles they take on afterwards, Jason Todd is the edgiest by a long way. Compared to the stoic charm of Dick, the passion of Tim Drake and the sassiness of Damian, the post-Crisis iteration of Todd is extremely of its time.
The child of an addict and a henchman, Todd is a street kid who lives in Crime Alley and is taken in by Batman after he helps the hero defeat a gang of criminals. As any Jason Todd fan knows, he's no clean-cut kid! Crime, smoking, drinking, swearing—you name it, Jason does it. But the edgiest thing about him is his murder—which was brought about by fans who voted to kill him rather than save him—that saw him bludgeoned to death by the Joker. Or at least that's what fans thought until sixteen years later.
2) Red Hood (DRAW)
First Appearance: Batman #635 (2004)
Introduced By: Judd Winick, Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
Though it's been almost two decades since he first debuted, the Jason Todd iteration of the Red Hood has never been more popular. He's the thinking kid's favorite Robin and it's not just ’cos he has two big guns, though that is certainly a part of his appeal.
After his horrific death during the infamous "A Death in the Family" arc, Jason was resurrected as the villain known as the Red Hood. Taking on the mantle which was a key part of the Joker's origin was a sign of Jason Todd's trauma and twisted mind, as he reclaimed his identity after the brutal attack that left readers and superheroes thinking he was dead for over a decade and a half. This is one of the defining resurrections in comics and the bad boy of the Bat-Family is still as impactful as ever.
1) The Robins of Earth -22
First Appearance: Dark Nights: Metal #1 (2017)
Introduced By: Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo
Edginess Rating: 💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀💀
The winners of our so edgy it might cut you ranking come from the decidedly bleak and gritty “Dark Nights” crossover event that saw the DC Universe go METAL!!!
In case you're not up to date on the Robins of Earth -22, they are children who were tortured by the Joker in order to drive Batman mad. The Clown Prince of Crime did this by killing their parents in front of Bruce Wayne, making him relive his greatest trauma again and again and again. As if that wasn't bad enough, they would end up as the Batman Who Laughs' pets once he was infected by the Joker Venom. So yes, the jokerized, psychologically-scarred children that the Batman Who Laughs keeps on a chain are definitely the edgiest of all the Robins...at least for now!
Rosie Knight is an award-winning journalist and author who loves Swamp Thing, the DC Cosmic and writing the monthly gossip column here at DC.com. You can also listen to her waxing lyrical about comics, movies and more each week as she co-hosts Crooked Media's pop-culture podcast, X-Ray Vision.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Rosie Knight and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros., nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.