Barbara Gordon was the daughter of Gotham City Police Commissioner, James Gordon. She took on the mantle of Batgirl, Batman's partner and protegé for many years. Later in life, Barbara followed in her father's footsteps by becoming the Commissioner of the Gotham Police Department herself.
Barbara lived in a private townhouse near Gotham's trendy Park Ridge. In her daily life, she was a student at Gotham State University.
When the renegade artificial intelligence H.A.R.D.A.C. attempted to replace the most influential members of Gotham (including her father, Hamilton Hill, and Harvey Bullock), Barbara was one of the few who initially felt something was wrong. Knowing that the robot wasn't her father, she activated the Bat-signal and called in Batman. When Batman arrived and she shared her suspicions with him, an incredibly strong robot Bullock showed up and attacked Batman. With the help of Barbara, Batman decapitated it with a shuriken.
Later, Bruce went to the Gotham Club to meet up with Mayor Hill who told him he'd be part of "a very exclusive club". There Bruce finds several elite members of Gotham, all of whom have glowing red eyes. Randa arrived with a taser but Bruce wasn't ready to give up and escaped his captors. The robots give chase and he dashes into an elevator where he changes into Batman. Four of the robots, however, manage to break into the elevator, only to find that Batman isn't inside and is cutting the cable. Unable to stop him in time, the robots fall and are destroyed.
Having deduced where her father should be, Barbara gathered some equipment and went to Cybertron (ignoring Batman's orders) and actually managed to sneak into the lab, but was captured by Rossum and Randa, who assured her that she'd be joining her father. Outside, Batman arrived and snuck into the lab. After everyone was freed, Gordon groaned that he was getting too old for this sort of thing while Barbara claimed she enjoyed herself.
Barbara took after her father, James Gordon. Like him, Barbara was a skilled crime fighter dedicated to wiping out Gotham City's lawbreakers; but not necessarily as a police officer. When Commissioner Gordon was framed by the notorious villain Two-Face, Barbara donned a Bat-costume in an attempt to get him released from jail. Robin ripped the cowl from the back when he tried to stop her from running away from him. Whether they liked it or not, Batman and Robin soon realized that they have a new redheaded ally in the form of Batgirl. She gave subtle hints towards her identity at the time, but they would fail to reach the ears of the two.
Barbara was not as active as Dick and Bruce were as Robin and Batman. Despite this, she experienced her first run in with Catwoman. The two briefly fought but Catwoman claimed she was innocent and proved that the crime isn't her style. In spite of this, Catwoman refused to go with Batgirl to the police. Batgirl insisted and a fight was about to ensue before Robin arrived causing Catwoman to flee. Robin and Batgirl gave chase, but Catwoman managed to escape. Batgirl then explained that Catwoman was innocent and scolded Robin for rushing in. Robin angrily left telling Batgirl to stay out of the way. The next day, Barbara found a message for "The Winged Mouse" and learned of where Catwoman will be later that night. Batgirl arrived at the Bayshore pier and found Catwoman waiting for her. Catwoman offered a truce and proposed a partnership. Batgirl agreed on the condition that Catwoman gives herself up if she's lying. Batgirl and Catwoman went to the Stacked Deck to find information.
They interrogated "the chemist" to find out who melted the padlock into the university but he ran before revealing where it was made. A fight ensued in the bar forcing the two to flee. They stole a motorcycle and were chased by the police. The duo managed to escape and judged by the Chemist's reaction Catwoman deduced who was behind the Jade Cat robbery. Catwoman took Batgirl to Roland Daggett's laboratory, the same one used to make the Renuyu cream that turned Matt Hagen into Clayface and the virus that infected Isis. Looking around they found the cat but it was a trap. Dagget and his goons captured Catwoman and Batgirl and took them to vats of hot chemicals. Daggett explained that he stole the cat because it was what Catwoman would have stolen and he needed the money to start over as he was left broke after his last encounter with Batman. Daggett continued by saying he'd have Batgirl and Catwoman shot and then thrown into the acid vats to destroy the evidence. Fortunately, Robin arrived and dealt with the thugs before they could execute Daggett's plan. The trio beat Daggett's thugs and Catwoman went after Daggett.
Looking for revenge over the virus incident Catwoman prepared to drop Daggett into the acid but Batgirl caught the chain and saved him. However, Catwoman made a break for it and Batgirl was not strong enough to pull Daggett up. Robin arrived and took over for Batgirl allowing her to go after Catwoman. Using a bola she managed to catch Catwoman who confessed she always intended to steal the Jade Cat. Catwoman then offered to team up but Batgirl refused. The police arrived and took Catwoman into custody who claimed Batgirl is innocent. Unfortunately, Catwoman escaped the police and took their car. Dick wanted to go after Catwoman but Batgirl assured him there would be another time. Batman and Robin learned to trust and rely on Batgirl's contribution to eradicating Gotham's criminal element.
Early on, Batman deduced the masked redhead who fought so hard to clear Commissioner Gordon could only be Gordon's daughter, Barbara. Barbara was also found to be the only organ donor (either living or dead) to Nora Fries, Mr. Freeze's wife, and she was kidnapped. However, Dick was present during the kidnapping, and though he failed to save Barbara, he was aware of Freeze's plot. Batman and Robin managed to interrupt the operation before it took place, and the battle that ensued caused Freeze's lair to explode. Batman, Robin, and Barbara were able to evacuate Nora and Koonak in time, but Freeze had fallen into the fiery blast and was assumed dead. In actuality, he and his polar bears survived. Nora was subsequently cured in Gotham.
Barbara's double life as Batgirl sometimes put Barbara at an emotional crossroads. As the daughter of the Police Commissioner, she was raised with respect for law and order, but her actions as Batgirl technically label her a vigilante. If Batgirl were ever caught and unmasked, the scandal would certainly destroy Commissioner Gordon's career. Still, Gotham is a city that breeds an extreme kind of criminal and extreme crime fighters are needed to handle situations that overwhelm regular police. Barbara and Dick Grayson later dated, though they were unaware of each other's costumed identity at the time.
Eventually, Batman told Batgirl the secret of his dual identity and granted her free access to the Batcave and all its technology. When her then-boyfriend, Dick Grayson, learned of her identity as Batgirl, he helped Batman and Batgirl fight the Joker and then got into an argument with Batman over bringing her into the team and putting her in danger. She cited that she chose to become Batgirl, only for Dick to tell her that Batman likes to pull strings and manipulate people, Batman thought that they all wanted the same thing, but, Dick told him times change and people change, including himself, Batman tried to stop him from leaving, before Dick turned around and punched him in the face, Barbara looked on in shock, Dick took off his mask and cape, threw them at Batman and left Gotham to become Nightwing.
After he temporary left Gotham, Batman found himself calling on Batgirl to work with him on special cases. He trained her in combat and escape skills in the Batcave. The Batcomputer quickly became Batgirl's domain, surpasses Batman, Robin and Nightwing in cyber-expertise. After graduating, Barbara herself became a systems and data analyst at the police headquarters, which gave her access to all their activity.
In Mayfields Department Store, Barbara was just purchasing a new tie for her father when all of a sudden an ear-piercing wail cut through the air. The shop attendant commented on how they've been crying all day, at which point we see why: Harvey Bullock is playing Santa. With his partner, Montoya, he was on a stakeout. Bullock, showing rare sensitivity, comforts a young girl who's father he put in prison, and winds up giving her cash to soothe her Christmastime woes. Clayface got a shocking surprise. Barbara, walking through the store, happens to spot a child shoplifting, but when she tries to apprehend him, his clothes and hand seem to dissolve into nothing. Then, Montoya gets a call through her earpiece that detectives are in pursuit of four child bandits in the store. Just when the children seem to be trapped, they meld! Moments later the truth is revealed: Clayface! He begins tearing up the place and no one can stop him, that is, until Barbara gets changed into her Batgirl outfit and delivers a blow to the head the sends him crashing out the window and into the skating rink below. Montoya and Bullock arrive on the scene and with a little guidance from Barbara, succeed in halting the giant shapeshifter by way of electrocution.
Barbara went with Batman to assist Nightwing in fighting several thugs. Despite Nightwing's protests, Barbara and Bruce decided to help him fight. When Nightwing turned around, a thug tried to hit him in the back of the head. Barbara stopped the thug from hitting Nightwing and was chewed out by him for having his back. While she and Nightwing talked, a thug came at the two. Barbara defeated the second thug as well and further irritated Nightwing. After Catwoman helped Dick in defeating the third thug, Barbara questioned Dick's decision to allow Catwoman to go free. She asked him about it and was told by him that Catwoman had "turned a new leaf". Barbara watched as Nightwing donned his costume and asked him if he needed a partner. After being told no, Barbara watched him leave. She later met up with Batman and Nightwing and decided to find out if Catwoman had really became a hero. She and Batman pretended to be on a cat's trail after Nightwing planted Batman's tracking chip on it in front of Selina. Barbara and Bruce would later met up with Nightwing as Catwoman realized she had been set up. Barbara fought alongside Batman and Nightwing as several more thugs came out. Later, she asked Nightwing if he needed a ride when he was in water with a comatose Catwoman.
Batgirl became great friends with Supergirl, and has teamed up with her in the past, most notably when Livewire escaped and joined forces with Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. Batgirl and Supergirl were not looked upon favorably with the Penguin, who requested Batman and Superman. Batgirl first fought Livewire alone before Supergirl aided her. The two teamed up on her before she escaped. They managed to defeat her, only, for Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn arrived to help her. The three got away due to Supergirl having to save Batgirl from dying in a pay phone that had toxic gas in it. The two went back to Wayne enterprises and planned out how to win. Batgirl and Supergirl fought the three again. Poison Ivy was defeated when fire got on a plant elephant she had made. Batgirl subsequently took out Livewire, whose powers were electricity, on accident when she was pouring water on the elephant. Harley Quinn was the easiest, however, taking herself out when she tried to hit Supergirl in the back of the head. The two finally managed to beat them and the three were sent to jail.
Barbara once was hit with fear toxin by Scarecrow that made her believe that her father was chasing down Batman and Robin, because he believed Batman to be her murderer after seeing her fall from a roof. Batman and Robin were then chased down to the bat cave; the two were almost caught by police, but saved by Alfred Pennyworth, who was arrested. The two got into a submarine and were chased by police officers and several other law enforcements, before being aided by Nightwing in escaping. Nightwing went back to his apartment to get food for them, but, was outnumbered by police officers and arrested. Nightwing and Alfred were put in jail and Tim had an idea on breaking them out, to which, Batman declined. Commissioner Gordon made a deal with Bane to kill Batman. The dream ended when Batman and Commissioner Gordon, who had chosen to confront Batman face-to-face over his daughter's death, fell off of a building because of Bane's double-cross. She woke up screaming and was relieved to see Bruce still alive, hugging him upon this confirmation. Bruce asked her what she had seen and Barbara told him of her dream. This event almost made Barbara tell her father of her secret identity, but he stopped her from doing so.
As her career in Gotham went on, Batgirl had an ongoing rivalry with the villainesses Catwoman, Poison Ivy, and Harley Quinn and had several encounters with them in which she had an essencial part on their defeat, with or without her partners. She went on to play a central role in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of all of the men in Gotham City, an event that briefly brought her into conflict with the Gotham City police force, who had been taken over by a robotic duplicate of her father, and forced her to ally with her enemies. Eventually, she tracked down the true culprit, Dora Smithy, and defeated her in a final struggle at an abandoned ice cream factory, rescuing her father and ending the mayhem.
Batgirl was with Batman when Tim Drake was kidnapped by the Joker and tortured into becoming a "son" of the Clown Prince. While Batman took on the madman, Barbara confronted Harley Quinn. In the fight, they fell off a cliff, and though Batgirl tried to get Harley back to safety, she fell into Arkham Canyon. She later comforted Tim when he cried after all of his torture he had endured and the death of the Joker at his hands.
After the Costume
Barbara was the last of Batman's partners to relinquish their roles. She was also romantically involved with Bruce Wayne for a brief period of time after the Joker had tortured Tim and found out his secret identity. She would eventually become police commissioner as her father had been. Over the years, she lost touch with Bruce.
According to Barbara herself, the fact that Bruce's drive wouldn't allow him to "settle down" from his life of crime-fighting eventually drove a wedge between them, and their intimate relationship was terminated after a time. She eventually went on to marry District Attorney Sam Young; whether or not she told her husband about her time as Batgirl is unknown.
Barbara came into contact again with Bruce when she found out he had a new partner and got a call from Bruce. She then looked out the window to see the "get acquainted gift" Batman left her: The pieces of Inque, trapped in ice. Initially, Barbara was distrustful of the second Batman, Terry McGinnis; this distrust was exacerbated when Spellbinder used his technology to make her believe that Terry had killed Mad Stan. She also expressed a measure of resentment toward Bruce for not talking Terry out of becoming the latest Batman. At first, she strictly refused Batman's help and warned him to stay out of police matters. She mostly had anger towards him due to her old grudge towards Bruce and his decision to stop her from helping him and to continue doing it at his age. When the assassin Curaré targeted Barbara’s husband Sam, a joint effort from herself and Terry stopped the planned hit.
During this incident, Barbara saved Terry's life by throwing a discarded Batarang at the killer, leaving Terry very impressed that she still "had it". Barbara then welcomed Batman back to fighting crime in her city. Barbara eventually formed a mentoring relationship with Terry, even helping him on occasion, notably when the Joker returned and had attacked Bruce in the cave. As she was the only one who Terry knew was in on Bruce's secret, she was the person Terry contacted after Bruce was hurt in the Batcave and she likely helped him treat Bruce. As Bruce recovered, Barbara briefly took over his role, manning the Batcomputer and providing guidance to Terry in the field.
When Sam made the decision to outlaw splicing, Barbara did her best to get her husband to relax. When Dr. Abel Cuvier sent three thugs to attack Young in their own home, Barbara did her best to defend him. In the ensuing melee, Gordon managed to fight off Tigress, but she was soon captured. Batman eventually arrived to take out the thugs, but it quickly became clear that he was not himself: having been unwillingly spliced himself with vampire bat DNA, Terry's newfound feral side was affecting his mind as well as his body. When Barbara intervened to keep the mutated Batman from killing one of the thugs, he nearly attacked her, before flying away in confusion. She immediately called to warn Bruce, but her warning came too late: Wayne was already under attack by the mutated McGinnis. Fortunately, Bruce had a dart on hand containing an antidote he had just finished that reversed splicing's effects, and with his dog Ace running interference, Terry was returned to normal. After McGinnis successfully defeated Cuvier, Barbara personally encouraged Terry (who had recently avenged his father's death) to give up his life as Batman. However, Terry was undeterred, and answered that the small rewards were sometimes the best. She in turn did not push the issue, showing that she respected his decision.
During the hunt for the Zeta android, the GCPD went to the apartment of Hamilton Hill High School teacher Miss Martel, and found her tied up. Finding evidence that pointed to the school, Barbara confronted Special Agent James Bennet, who explained that the robot was an assassin droid called "Zeta" which had stopped taking their orders. Because Zeta was at the time on an assignment to infiltrate a terrorist group, Bennet's agents assumed it was now taking orders from them, and stated that they must destroy it, whatever the civilian cost. After Bennett left, Batman talked to Barbara, who expressed her contempt for the agents' ruthlessness, and explained that Zeta was most likely still at the high school. Knowing that the shooting would not go unnoticed, Major had his goons pack up his valuables and run. Major was unconcerned that he was leaving without Big Time since he figured Big Time would be easy to find. Major and his gang tried to drive off, but ran into a police barrier. They realized that someone tipped off the police, but Major was sure that it wasn't Big Time. Major and his thugs, determined not to be taken in, started a shoot out and Major tried to escape but Barbara stopped him.
Later, Terry and Barbara went to Charlie's hiding place and found that he was gone.
Batgirl's secret identity
- Main article: List of people who know Batgirl's secret identity
While Batgirl kept her identity a closely guarded secret, there were a number of individuals to whom she had either revealed her identity or who had discovered it. Among the most prominent ones are Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, and Supergirl.
Barbara was a brave woman of sheer determination. Despite her usual reasonable and calm attitude when needed, she could be reckless at times. As Batgirl, however, Barbara at first hid her identity from her father, mainly because she didn't want him to have to worry about her. She used this as the same reason for not originally telling Nightwing, although their relationship ever since has become more complicated. Still, she believed the good she did as Batgirl was worth the potential risk of being discovered.
Barbara had a bit of a caring and selfless side. She was shown to be caring of her father, constantly putting her life on the line to save his, a good example would be before she was even Batgirl when he was replaced by a robot and infiltrated the headquarters of H.A.R.D.A.C. When Batman took in Tim Drake as the new Robin, she once again tried to care for him. She even showed an act of kindness to Harley Quinn, longtime enemy of Batman, when the two were dangling from a cliff and she tried to save her.
When she became commissioner of Gotham, Barbara could be hard and stern. She had a tendency to keep grudges, such as when she kept a decade long grudge against Bruce for how he treated the people he claimed to care about. She seemed to have a hard time accepting new people for what they were, such as Terry when he first became Batman, though her feelings towards him practically all came from the strained relationship she had with his predecessor. Regardless, they would still help each other. However, Barbara could be forgiving, such as when she reunited with Bruce and Tim after the latter's transformation into a resurrected form of the Joker.
During her time as a superheroine, Batgirl had excellent detective skills, often solving difficult cases independently or with little help.
Barbara was incredibly talented in cyber-expertise. She could use a regular or super computer to locate others, search data, and active or desactive weapons. Her talent in this field surpassed even Batman.
Barbara's academic skills were matched only by her gymnastic ability and natural reflexes, which she utilized to her full advantage as Batgirl. She also was proficient in martial arts.
A service lift in Barbara's bedroom closet ran down to the secret basement where she stored her Batgirl crime fighting gear.
Barbara had access to most of Batman's various tools used to fight crime, most notably the Batarangs. She also had an Utility Belt with items and tools stored in it that accommodated her needs.
In addition to costumes and weapons, the basement also served as garage for Batgirl's highly advanced Batcycle, a gift from Batman.
Barbara's relationship with Dick is slightly close and complicated. When the two first met, neither knew of the other's identity. She became Batgirl after she met him and chose not to tell him or anyone else. In their superhero activities, the two were competitive against each other, yet still were friendly. After Dick found out she was Batgirl, he broke off his relationships with Batman and Barbara, and moved to Blüdhaven to fight crime.
Barbara and Dick had romantic had feelings for each other when he returned to Gotham, but their relationship became more tense. Regardless, the two still worked well together in helping Batman and continued their usual banter. They presumably still talked to each other after Nightwing left Gotham again. Many years later, Barbara stated that the feelings they shared (at least for her) was "puppy love".
Many years in the future, Barbara ultimately ended up marrying Sam Young, the District Attorney of Gotham in the 2030s. They had a happy relationship, but it is unknown if she told him about her past as Batgirl.
Despite their age difference and former relationship as student-teacher, Barbara dated Bruce Wayne for some time. After Joker's abduction of Tim Drake, Bruce eventually broke off all ties with his colleagues and Barbara went her own way. However, they still keep in touch and still work together on occasion.
In the comics, Barbara Gordon is one of six women to have held the title of Batgirl. The original Bat-Girl was Bette Kane, the niece of Batwoman, who served as her aunt's "Robin". Later Batgirls are Cassandra Cain, Helena Bertinelli (clandestine, during the No Man's Land arc), Charlotte Gage-Radcliffe (the later Misfit, also clandestinely) and then Stephanie Brown, formerly the Spoiler and Robin IV. In the DCAU, the title is Barbara's alone.
Barbara Gordon was the second Batgirl, the niece/daughter/adopted daughter of Commissioner Gordon, after she was popularized by the 1960s Adam West TV series. She retired from the mantle of Batgirl in the Batgirl Special #1 in 1988. In Batman: The Killing Joke, also released in 1988, the Joker shot her in her spine and left her paraplegic. Barbara operated as Oracle with the Birds of Prey for twenty-one years, until the 2011 reboot established her as Batgirl again with her legs fully restored, with her own comic book series for the first time and taking on a whole new array of villains previously unseen in comics before.
At one point during the later series Justice League Unlimited, an episode featuring Batgirl was discussed. The episode would have featured Barbara being ordered by Batman to stay off a case involving Kirk Langstrom and an army of Man-Bats, in which she had recently gotten herself injured and put in traction. Defying Batman's orders, Barbara would have temporarily assumed an Oracle-like persona and recruited Huntress and Black Canary as her field agents (after finding Nightwing to be unavailable), who then help her to stop Langstrom's Man-Bats. The episode was never produced as the rights to the Batgirl character weren't held over and were being used by the team on The Batman at the time, a show separate from the DC Animated Universe. Green Arrow and The Question were put in the episode's script, both substituting for her.