Richard "Dick" Grayson was the original Robin, the more easy-going sidekick to Batman. In adulthood following a falling-out with his mentor, he struck out on his own as Nightwing.
Dick is a former member of the Flying Graysons acrobatic family in Haley's Circus. He and his parents performed nightly with their death defying high wire acts. When the circus came to Gotham City, the gangster, Tony Zucco tried to extort protection money out of the owner Mr. Haley, but he refused to cooperate. In retaliation, Zucco sabotaged their high-wire trapeze act, staging an "accident" that ended in the death of Dick's parents. Bruce Wayne, who helped to get the circus to town, was in the audience and witnessed these events unfold.
Bruce arranged with Commissioner Gordon of the Police Department to become the young boy's[nb 1] legal guardian. However, in the rather large and empty Wayne Manor, Dick became more and more detached. Alfred Pennyworth brought this to Bruce's attention, who was in his fledgling years as Batman, and had little time to spend with Dick. Eventually, Dick went out on his own and tracked down Zucco but was caught. Batman saved Dick and took him back to the Batcave, where he revealed his secret identity.
After personally training Dick, Bruce allowed him to become his partner, Robin. Dick apparently worked with Batman consistently well into his university years. Thereafter, he became Batman's semi-regular partner continuing to work with him on a limited basis, but also dividing his time between crime-fighting and college.
Nine years after his parent's deaths, Tony Zucco resurfaced in Gotham City, putting Robin to the test. Batman forbade Robin from going after him. He promptly disobeyed and tracked Zucco on his own. He finally found Zucco, but Robin ultimately refused to kill him and turned him over to the authorities. While Dick had thought that Bruce was simply cold hearted; Bruce got surprisingly emotional and he admitted that he didn't want Robin going after Zucco for fear of Robin being hurt or killed as a result.
However, this would not be the last time Batman and Robin disagreed with each other. After graduating Gotham State University with highest honors, Grayson decided it was time for a change. A trust fund set up by the circus would keep him afloat indefinitely. But he began to resent Bruce's growing obsession with his mission, and decreasing concern for Dick's feelings. Bruce failed to attend Dicks' graduation and forced him to cut his celebration short to help him. Witnessing Batman's harsh interrogation of one of the Joker's accomplices, Robin felt he was beginning to cross a line. The last straw was Dick discovering that Batman knew Barbara Gordon, his girlfriend, was Batgirl, and never told him, and accused Bruce of manipulating both him and Barbara into becoming his helpers. When Bruce attempted to reason with him, Dick punched him and walked out, relinquishing the title of Robin forever.
After his falling out with Batman over the tactics he used, Dick left Gotham City and traveled the globe studying from various martial arts and crime fighting techniques. Around this time, he also gained access to a sizable insurance settlement which allowed him to be self-sufficient.
After a few years of world traveling and training, Dick returned to Gotham City. He rejoined Batman's campaign as Nightwing, but his relationships with Batman and Batgirl became somewhat strained. Barbara and Dick no longer shared an intimate relationship as they had in college. However, it is suggested that Barbara still had some feelings for him. In spite of this, Nightwing continued to work semi-regularly with the Bat-Team. He established himself as an equal to Batman.
Nightwing helped them trick Catwoman into revealing the location of a stolen gem. Along with Batman, he planned a clever ruse to make her show her hand. Nightwing let her get close to him so the pair could "team up". He resisted Batman's advice telling him to leave him alone; all in front of Catwoman. Nightwing later helped get to the bottom of the mystery behind the Joker's fortune.
During a patrol with Robin and Batman, Nightwing revisited his circus roots. While doing so, he and Batman discovered that Mad Hatter is controlling the animals in a series of otherwise inexplicable robberies. Nightwing eventually partly reconciled with his former mentor and partner after an experience with the second Robin, with whom he became closer since then and worked on the Bat-Team for a while longer.
However, Dick eventually left Gotham to establish himself in the city of Blüdhaven. He was active into late age protecting his new city, and was still alive when Bruce's successor Terry McGinnis faced the returned Joker.
Raised as a circus acrobat, Dick was capable of incredible feats of agility and gymnastic skills which surpass Batman's. He learned how to walk on a high wire. Even as Robin, he demonstrated that he could at least hold his own with the ninja Kyodai Ken in combat.
Trained under Batman, Dick mastered several martial arts (including fencing, and he has a green belt in an unknown discipline), stealth, and detection that make him almost rival his former mentor, sharing his level-headed and outside-the-box thinking. As Robin, Dick possessed the strength to toss around a grown man like Tony Zucco, and even knock down Batman with a single punch. After receiving further training in his travels around the world following his split from Batman, Dick's fighting skills became more refined and on returing to Gotham and assuming the mantle of Nightwing was much more stronger than he was as Robin.
Dick is highly intelligent, as he quickly solved a variation on the ancient Chinese puzzle box, impressing the Riddler who described him as "fairly clever," and he is knowledgeable in astronomy. As a child, he was able to track down Zucco on his own.
As Robin, Dick possessed various bat-gadgets and had access to almost all of Batman's possessions.
As Nightwing, he possessed similar bat-gadgets and transportations. Most notably, he wore retractable membranes between his arms and waist that allows him to glide.
Dick's relationship with Barbara is slightly 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 close. After Dick found out she was Batgirl, he broke off his relationship with Batman and moved to Blüdhaven to fight crime.
Dick and Barbara began a romantic relationship again when he returned to Gotham, but several times they had to end dating to concentrate on helping Batman. Regardless, the two still had feelings for each other and presumably still talked to each other after Nightwing left Gotham again.
Appearances and references
- Dick's age when he became an orphan was never explicitly mentioned in any episode. His age was revealed in the credits for "Robin's Reckoning", but Part I listed him as age 10 and Part II as age 9.