Titans: Tim Drake's Robin Story Needs One Big Change

Warning: Contains spoilers for Titans episode 9.

Titans season 3 has introduced Tim Drake and is adapting his comic origin story as Robin, but the show needs to make one big change to that narrative. In the comics, Tim Drake is the third character to take on the role of Robin, after Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and Jason Todd (Curran Walters). The other significant Robin not yet shown or mentioned in Titans is Bruce Wayne’s son, Damian Wayne.

After Titans season 2 established the group in their famous Titans Tower in San Francisco, season 3 has taken the team in a new direction by relocating them to Gotham. Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) stepped away from his role as Batman and left the city under-protected after killing the Joker in retribution for his murder of Jason Todd. The Titans have worked to fill that void, while Scarecrow and the resurrected Jason Todd’s Red Hood have caused chaos throughout the city.

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Titans season 3 has drawn some criticism for relying on key Batman storylines and villains and abandoning its attempt to tell the Titans’ stories. The end of season 3, episode 9, “Souls,” teased a return of Bruce Wayne’s to Gotham that might see him wear the cowl again. This could be setting up another key part of Tim Drake’s (Jay Lycurgo) comics origin story, but one that will need an important alteration to honor the show’s intentions and the narrative it has told so far.

Tim Drake sets himself apart from the previous Robins by being less focused on combat or acrobatic skills and more reliant upon his intelligence. In the comics, Tim Drake was at Haley’s Circus with his parents the night that Dick Grayson’s parents were killed, and he had met Dick before the show. He was able to later identify that Robin was Dick Grayson because he saw footage of Robin executing a quadruple somersault and knew only someone as skilled as the Flying Graysons could pull it off. Tim Drake then sought out Nightwing to convince Dick Grayson to let him help Batman and become the new Robin.

Titans has so far kept surprisingly close to the specifics of this depiction of Tim as a detective. Season 3, episode 8, “Home,” includes mention of his having met Dick at a Flying Grayson’s performance and, while the move that Dick performed has changed, Tim’s method of figuring out Nightwing and Batman’s identities have remained the same. This suggests the show knows what makes the character of Tim Drake stand out as Robin and wants to keep as faithful to the original as possible.

Titans season 3 has had a heavy focus on Batman storylines, with the first episode of the season notably playing out a sped-up version of the famous “Death in the Family” storyline. That story saw the death of Jason Todd at Joker’s hands, and the character didn’t return for several years. In Titans, he is resurrected almost immediately, which has allowed them to draw influence from another storyline that is crucial to Tim Drake’s long-term development.

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In “Battle for the Cowl,” Bruce Wayne is presumed dead, and a power vacuum occurs in Gotham. A new Batman appears who uses a pair of pistols and lethal force and is eventually revealed to be Jason Todd. While Nightwing refuses to take up the Batman mantle, Tim Drake, already acting as Robin, puts on the cowl to show how Batman should act based on his understanding of the figure as a symbol of justice. The Tim and Jason’s versions of Batman fight it out, and Tim is left wounded, thought killed. Titans has alluded to this story heavily by leaning on Tim’s idea of who Batman is for the people of Gotham and then having Dick think that Jason is responsible for shooting Tim and nearly killing him. All of this indicates that they are looking to continue to follow the comics' origins for Tim in the longer term.

The biggest change to Tim Drake’s origin story from the comics to Titans comes in his reason for seeking out being Robin. In the comics, it is driven purely by seeing that Batman is losing his way after Jason’s death as he becomes almost psychotic. He concludes that Batman needs a Robin to help guide him and offers Nightwing his services to help Batman remain the symbol that Gotham needs.

In Titans, Tim is motivated to seek Nightwing out after Tim’s dad is shot due to Red Hood and Scarecrow’s schemes. In the comics, Tim’s father is left in a coma, but not until later in his training. Tim blames the shooting on the fact that Batman is not around to protect Gotham and is simply offering his skills to Nightwing to help the city in general rather than Batman himself. However, with Bruce Wayne’s teased return to Gotham at the end of season 3, episode 9, Tim might be able to work directly with the Dark Knight after all, which is where a major change needs to be made in the story.

In the comics origin of Tim Drake, the character dresses as Robin and saves Dick and Bruce before being fully accepted for training. When he is then trained, it is through the teamwork of Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne, and Dick Grayson together. Alfred’s apparent death in Titans will preclude him from taking part in Tim’s training; however, there is a bigger change that needs to happen.

Related: Titans: How Tim Drake's Robin Can Break Batman's Problematic Cycle

If Bruce Wayne is to return as Batman, he cannot have a hand in the recruitment or training of Tim Drake. A large part of season 3’s criticism of Batman rests on his use of people in the role of Robin, and he is justly called out on this by both Dick and Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch). The show goes as far as to draw analogies between Batman’s need for a Robin and a drug addict looking for a high as he desperately asks Dick to be Robin again. For the show to honor this criticism and not allow Bruce Wayne to return to his previous damaging ways, Tim Drake should be trained solely by Dick Grayson and the Titans with an eye to helping him become a check on Batman rather than simple support.

This will allow Tim Drake to fulfill his character’s comic motivations of wanting Batman to live up to the ideal of the symbol without jeopardizing the reason that Bruce Wayne had to leave in the first place. This will additionally allow the Titans to keep Tim on the team while he is trained for Jay Lycurgo to have an extended run in the show while also letting the show move away from Gotham and having Titans trapped in an endless cycle of Batman storylines and villains. Of course, Bruce Wayne still murdered the Joker in cold blood, and Titans will need to find a way to reckon with that element of the character.

More: Titans Finally Fixes Rachel's Raven Powers In Season 3

Titans releases new episodes Thursdays on HBO Max.

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