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The Most Terrible Things Nightwing Has Ever Done

Batman takes all the credit for being the dark and gritty crusader, but that doesn't mean he's the only member of the bat family with a checkered past. While Dick Grayson began his crime-fighting career as the first Robin, many fans know the character from his time as Nightwing. Set to be the star of the upcoming "Gotham Knights" video game, Nightwing will fight alongside the rest of the Bat-family to uncover the secrets of the mysterious Court of Owls. He will be playable, alongside Batgirl, Tim Drake's Robin, and Jason Todd as Red Hood.

While he may be cocky and reckless, Dick Grayson is often an indisputable hero of the family. Second only to Batman in terms of leadership, Nightwing is someone many of the heroes of Gotham look up to. Still, in his years of crime fighting across different mediums and timelines, Nightwing has made a handful of regrettable mistakes. Ripped straight from the darkest moments in DC comics, these are the most terrible things Nightwing has ever done.

Nightwing Kills the Joker

One of the darkest moments in Nightwing's comics history has to be when the Joker finally breaks him in 2001's "Joker: Last Laugh #6," by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon. In this six issue run, the Joker has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and pulls off one grandiose final scheme before he kicks the bucket. In the final issue, Robin (Tim Drake) is believed to have been killed by the Joker. After losing another Robin the Joker's games Dick decided it was time to take justice into his own hands.

In an attempt to end the Joker's destruction once and for all, Dick snaps and finds the clown prince at the Gotham Cathedral. The two spar, but Nightwing's rage and strength allow him to beat the villain to death without realizing it. After the Joker flatlines, Nightwing is struck with the horrible realization that Tim is still alive and in front of him and that he has committed a cold-blooded murder.

Batman arrives in time to resuscitate the Joker (a questionable move honestly), but this doesn't quite clear Dick's guilty conscience. It was a breaking point for a character that normally keeps his emotions in check.

Dick Knocks Bruce down in Nightwing #30

Beating up Batman might be one of the worst things Nightwing ever did, but it's also one of the coolest. And to be fair to Bruce, it's not like he couldn't take it. In the "New 52 Nightwing #30," Bruce and Dick's verbal conflict comes to blows, leading to a panel where Nightwing strikes Batman so hard that he knocks his mentor down. This moment in the final issue of the run represents Nightwing growing up, even if fans don't like the version of him they got.

This issue takes place after the New 52's large 2014 crossover event, Forever Evil. This is a story that leaves the family broken and at each other's throats. When Bruce and Nightwing spar, Dick lets his rage out, and before delivering a blow that knocks Bruce to the ground, he says "I'm not your boy." It's an important, empowering line for Dick that a lot of fans (via Reddit) felt was out of character. Many commenters felt the overall arc of the Batman and Nightwing relationship in the New 52 would be more suited to Jason Todd.

Dick Grayson becomes the Joker in The Dark Knight Strikes Again

"The Dark Knight Returns," Frank Miller's gritty 1980s reimaging of the Batman universe, is one of the most influential and widely read comics in the detective's 80-year history. Its vision of Gotham's future is still singular, but it has gone on to serve as an influence for most modern dark takes on the superhero, from "The Animated Series" to "The Dark Knight" and more (via Vox). Its 2001-2002 sequel run of comics, "The Dark Knight Strikes Again" is less well known to mainstream Batman fans, but was also penned by Miller.

In "TDKSA" Batman and Carrie Kelley, now called Catgirl, return to battle against the police state dictatorship Lex Luthor now runs. In the third and final issue of this arc, Batman encounters a decrepit shadow of the man who used to be Dick Grayson. Miller's version of Nightwing has been turned into a creature that looks and moves like the Joker, albeit wearing a Robin costume. The story turns a beloved character into a shape-shifting monster. Bruce has to rely on dropping him into a crevice full of lava in order to finally get rid of the beast that Nightwing turned into.

Nightwing kills Batman in Titans

"Titans" is one of the more interesting takes on Nightwing and other characters in the Batman universe currently out there. Originally launched on DC's short-lived streaming service, and eventually subsumed into HBO Max where the third and most recent season lives, "Titans" is a mature take on the "Teen Titans" comics. Starring Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, the HBO show predictably features Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy, but it is full of surprises too.

At the end of the show's first season, in the finale entitled "Dick Grayson," we get to see Nightwing do the most terrible thing he's ever been depicted doing. The episode takes place years in the future as Batman begins going on a murderous rampage, killing all the villains in Arkham. The episode culminates with Nightwing raiding Wayne Manor, blowing it up, and killing Bruce himself (YouTube) by stepping on his neck. It is a brutal and hard-to-watch depiction of Dick murdering his mentor for revenge. Thankfully it turns out he didn't actually kill Batman and the events of the episode were a fantasy created by Trigon (Seamus Dever).

Manipulating Barbara before inviting her to his wedding

Put the murders and uneccesary roughness towards friends behind us, because this is without a doubt the worst thing Dick Grayson ever did. At very least, it was the one that exposed him as a womanizer and straight up jerk. Nightwing's relationship to Barbara Gordon/Batgirl has been rocky and complicated over the years, but in 2007's "Annual #2," Dick really lived up to his name.

In 2005's "Infinite Crisis" storyline, Dick and Barbara rushed into an engagement. But following the events of that story, the two realize they aren't right for each other and Dick eventually goes back to be with his Teen Titans romantic interest Starfire. In "Annual #2," Dick is engaged to Kory (Starfire), but has a one-night stand with Barbara anyway.

The cheating is already bad, but to make things worse, Grayson decides the morning after is the best time to reveal the good news to Babs. Still in bed, he gives her a letter announcing his engagement and inviting her to his wedding. Understandably, Barbara doesn't take it well and kicks him right out the door.

A brief fling with Catwoman

When it comes to his love life, Dick Grayson hasn't always had the best instincts as is evidenced by the previous scandal. However, one of the most unprofessional moves Dick ever made in his personal life was sleeping with Catwoman. In 2001's "Nightwing #52" by Chuck Dixon, it is Nightwing who we see playing with fire in a flirtation with Selena Kyle. 

In this arc (via CBR) we see Catwoman move to Bludhaven, the city where Nightwing operates from in some of the comics (and perhaps the next "Batman" movie). The two meet and eventually start working together as partners in crime. As they get closer, Selina seduces Dick and the two eventually kiss. Selina tells him not to tell Bruce, which makes Dick realize he is being used to make the Batman jealous. 

This isn't the only time we see Dick working very closely with Catwoman. While the romance is played down, the two team up to spite Batman in the "Animated Series" episode "You Scratch My Back."

Nightwing's Bloody New 52 debut

In the early 2010s, DC made one of the biggest revamps in the history of the storied comics company. In 2011, DC launched a massive universe-spanning reboot of their superheroes and villains that included 52 ongoing narratives. This was called the New 52. In September 2011, new comics series began starring all of DC's biggest characters and team-ups across over 50 comics runs. This included a gritty reboot of Nightwing, its first issue "Welcome to Gotham," giving a bloody new impression of the man who once called himself Boy Wonder.

When we are first introduced to the new Dick Grayson/Nightwing, the panel shows him fighting a thug. As the fight continues, Nightwing continues to mercilessly beat the helpless goon. After he takes the guy down, Nightwing stands above his blood-soaked prey. The large blood spot on the thug's chest resembles the red on the hero's own costume. The echo of the character's symbol ushers in a darker era for Dick Grayson.

Leaving Gotham to become an alcoholic taxi driver named Ric Grayson

Ok, so this one isn't entirely Dick's fault but it did lead him to make a bunch of terrible decisions. Terrible for both himself and his friends, but also for the readers who had to suffer through the Ric Grayson arc (via Fortress of Solitude). The maligned arc began in the 2018 issue of Batman #55 where Dick Grayson was shot in the head and, as a result of the subsequent surgery, lost his memories. For some reason, he reinvented himself as Ric Grayson (Ric not Rick), moved to Blüdhaven, and decided to become a taxi driver. 

The new Grayson had a series of strange and unlikeable character traits. For one, he was afraid of heights, an obvious foil to his origin story as a trapeze artist. He was also a lot grittier and more hardboiled than the Nightwing fans were used to. Ric Grayson was an alcoholic and a gambling addict and yet still found it in himself to take on crime fighting as his #1 hobby. Old habits die hard as it turns out. Thankfully, DC eventually decided it was time for the Bat-family to bring Dick back to his senses.