"Old Wounds" is the eighteenth episode of The New Batman Adventures. Originally airing on October 3, 1998. It reveals the story of how and why Dick Grayson left the role of Robin after the end of Batman: The Animated Series and how Barbara discovered their secret identities and became part of the team.
As Robin fights against pick-pockets and thieves, one gains the upper hand and traps him in an overturned garbage bin. When the goon runs into the street a shadowy figure flies off a building and tackles him. Around the corner where Robin is extracting himself from the garbage bin, Nightwing emerges with the man who tried to run, with Robin remarking that he could have gotten him. As Nightwing shrugs off this proclamation and walks away, Robin remarks that he is just like Batman. Stunned, Nightwing stops and remarks that he's nothing of the sort. Robin points out the similarities between Batman and Nightwing to which the young adult irritably told him to "drop it". Robin then asks him why he left the role of Robin and Nightwing merely responds that "things change" and he should ask Batman. Robin tells him that he did and Batman just said the same thing. Nightwing then takes Robin to a dock and recounts his last days as Robin, just after he finished college at Gotham State University.
Bruce Wayne misses Dick Grayson's graduation because he is working in his capacity as Batman and when Dick is celebrating his graduation with Barbara Gordon, he is paged by Batman who wants him to meet him at a specified location from a tip he has received. As Dick returns to dance with Barbara, he relays some worthless excuse why he must leave. Batman is watching a warehouse and Robin arrives. They prepare to investigate and foil the latest scheme by the Joker. When the Joker easily makes his escape from the Dynamic Duo, Batman, trapped, orders Robin to go after them. Following a henchman named Connor who is left behind, Robin encounters the man returning home to his family. Connor does not want anything to go down in front of his family, but before Robin can act, Batman crashes through a side window and pins Connor against a wall. While Batman mercilessly interrogates Connor, Robin pleads with him not to make a scene in front of Connor's family. When Batman does not respond kindly, Robin takes off and later shows up at Barbara's apartment (as Dick Grayson) complaining about the situation and unsure how to proceed. Eventually, he leaves as abruptly as he arrived with little explanation.
Some time later, Barbara is asking Bruce what has come between him and Dick. Understanding how she cares a great deal for him, he asks her to follow him, opening the secret clock entrance to the Batcave. As she descends the staircase behind him, bats flutter from below and she realizes what Bruce is showing her about Dick and himself. Bruce also informs her of his knowledge about her secret as Batgirl. Alfred emerges from behind a corner and even tries to say that he is Batman. Bruce tells him that it's alright and Alfred tells him that there is something on the news channel that he might want to watch. Turning the volume up, the Joker is delivering a ransom note for his latest scheme, involving a radar jamming device. Bruce asks Alfred to contact Dick, but Alfred tells him that he has been trying and cannot reach him. Bruce says that he will need back-up and Barbara tells him that he already has it. After Batman and Batgirl leave to take on the Joker, Dick comes down to the Batcave asking where Barbara is after seeing her car in the drive. Alfred tells him that she and Bruce have run an errand. Dick asks what kind of errand as he notices that the Batmobile is not parked in the cave.
When Robin arrives at the scene of the Joker's plan, Batgirl is thrown off a tower. Robin rescues her and the two fly to another building top. Telling her that they need to talk, she interrupts him because there is work to do. As Batman fights against the Joker and his henchmen, Batgirl re-emerges with Robin and tackles the Joker. He then begins to fire upon the three, and Batgirl directs his attention toward the radar jamming device which is destroyed by the Joker's gunfire.
Batman then grabs Batgirl and the two hang from the building edge as the machine explodes and knocks everyone in close proximity to the ground, including the Joker. After the police arrive and the scene is being picked apart, Robin is furious at Batgirl for not telling him her secret. She responds that he wasn't honest either and that Batman already knew her secret. Redirecting his anger at Batman for putting Batgirl in danger, Robin asks why he did not tell him that Barbara was Batgirl. When Batman tells him that it was not his place to tell Robin, Robin says that they have grown apart and quits. When Batman tries to stop Robin from leaving, Robin turns around and punches Batman in the face. Stripping his mask and cape off, he leaves Batman and Batgirl and never was Robin again.
As Nightwing finishes the story, he and Robin return to the scene of the earlier fight and find a wallet that had been stolen by the goons. After opening the wallet to see who it belongs to, Nightwing is shocked to learn that it's Connor, who now works as a night watchman at Wayne Enterprises. Returning the wallet, Connor relates the earlier encounter with Batman and how it changed his life. Bruce Wayne had given him a job and regularly checks on him, often inquiring about the well-being of his family. Nightwing responds that Bruce Wayne is a good man and he and Robin leave. The Bat-signal comes on in the night sky and Robin says that duty calls, and asks if Nightwing will join him. As Robin prepares to fly off, Nightwing remarks that it is about time and flies off with him to join Batman.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Four (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Best of Batman (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Batman vs. Robin (Blu-ray only)
- Batman: The Killing Joke (Blu-ray only)
- This episode's flashback was later adapted into the limited series The Batman Adventures: The Lost Years. Written by series writer Hilary J. Bader, with artwork by Bo Hampton, Terry Beatty, Lee Loughridge, and Rick Taylor, it bridged the gap between Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures, explaining how Batman discovered Batgirl's identity, Dick's journey around the world, and Tim's life prior to becoming Robin (including his witnessing the final fight between Batman and company against the Joker.) Contrary to popular belief, the Lost Years series was based on the script for "Old Wounds", rather than the other way around.
- Although Dick never says it out loud, clearly the climax of this episode implies that Dick has forgiven Batman.
- This version appears to be a more Pre-Crisis version of Dick retiring from Robin on his own accord rather than the post-Crisis version having him fired by Batman.
- Alfred telling Barbara that he is Batman is echoed on the Static Shock episode "Hard as Nails" where he tells Static the same thing and replies to Static's disbelief "Just once, I'd like someone to believe that".
- This is the only The New Batman Adventures episode that features Dick in his Robin outfit and is only one of two episodes to feature the entire team (Batman, Batgirl, Robin, and Nightwing) in their current costumes, though Batman and Batgirl are only seen in the flashback. The other episode to show all four heroes in costume is "Over the Edge". However, neither episode shows all four together in costume at the same time.
- Joker makes a reference to the 1995 film Apollo 13 when he says, "Houston, we have a problem."
Robin: You sound just like Batman.
Dick: (being summoned as Robin) This isn't a good time.
Batman: You're late.
Joker: Nice entrance. Either you've never heard of a door or you just like pulling glass out of your shorts.
Joker: If you stick your nose in, it might get cut off.
Barbara: He was so upset he couldn't even talk about it. It wasn't the first time I've seen him like that. What is it between you two? What's going on?
Alfred: Master Bruce, I... (sees Barbara in Batcave). Ms. Gordon, I, uh, see you've discovered our little secret. Yes, I admit it, I am Batman.
Bruce: Alfred, contact Robin.
Dick: Alfred, I saw Barbara's car parked out front. Where is she?
Joker: (Seeing Batgirl) Something new has been added: a big improvement over the Boy Blunder.
Joker: What!? You should be sidewalk stroganoff!
Batman: I thought we had the same goals.
Joker: (dazed) Houston, we have a problem. (falls unconscious backwards)
Robin: I guess Batman had a change of heart. Who'd have thought he had one?