Jason Todd, The Best Batman Sidekick

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Jason Todd in Titans

Jason Todd is usually considered the worst Batman sidekick, and there is more evidence for this than the court of public opinion: after all, in the infamous Batman comic Death in the Family, fans were given the choice to call one phone number if they wanted him to live and another if they wanted him to die. By a narrow margin, the fans ordered Todd to die, though, in the fine DC Comics tradition, he later came back to life as an edgy new antihero. That resurrection hasn’t kept fans from hating him, but here’s a take hotter than Harley Quinn: Jason Todd was the best Batman sidekick ever written.

Jason Todd, the second Robin, is Batman’s best sidekick, even if he was the shortest-lived.

Before you throw a Batarang at the screen, let’s get right to it: how could we ever declare that Jason Todd is the best Batman sidekick? For one thing, most of his qualities that fans hate (that he’s an angry loner with trust issues, for example) are actually logical side effects of his background and upbringing. Abandoned by his biological mother, raised by a criminal father, and then later raised by a rich American psycho who beats up the mentally ill while wearing black leather…how else were fans expecting Jason Todd to turn out, especially when Batman made him a child soldier in his neverending war on crime?

Additionally, it’s worth noting that while Jason Todd’s unchecked anger is often cited as a weakness by fans who like more cheerful sidekicks such as Dick Grayson, that simmering anger helped Todd channel Batman more than any other sidekick. Emotionally speaking, Jason Todd is a chip off the Batman block, and he could be as brilliant as he was brooding. For example, Todd’s Robin once managed to outwit and defeat Mongul (in Action Comics Annual #11) during a fight where the intergalactic warlord had easily dispatched Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman…that’s one hell of a feat for a sidekick many Batman fans often dismiss.

Jason Todd as Robin

Now, we need to address the elephant in the room: according to some fans, Jason Todd may have been a decent sidekick for Batman, but his later actions as the vigilante Red Hood retroactively negate his earlier triumphs. In short, Jason Todd eventually rechristens himself as a hero who wages his own battle against evil, but with a twist that Batman (and most Batman fans) hate. Specifically, he uses guns and other lethal weapons to permanently end the threat these criminals pose to Gotham.

Jason Todd was gruesomely killed off by the Joker in DC Comics after fans voted for it.

When you grow up rooting for Batman and his code preventing murder, it’s easy to see Jason Todd’s decision to kill criminals as a monstrous one. However, as many fans have joked about over the years, Batman either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about the classic trolley problem: by refusing to kill one criminal like the Joker, for example, Batman effectively enables the murder of countless other victims at the Joker’s hands. 

Jason Todd’s Red Hood, meanwhile, is considered the bad guy simply because he has a tendency to kill the killers, and considering how often Batman’s rogue’s gallery of villains breaks out of Arkham and murders people, we’re starting to think that Jason Todd had the right idea. And considering how many fans enjoy Zack Snyder’s murderous Batman, it seems hypocritical for some of those same fans to criticize Todd for his own zero-tolerance policy on crime.

Jason Todd as Red Hood

We get that on a creative level, Batman’s various writers and artists don’t want to get rid of any of these iconic villains, which is why everyone always manages to return from the dead. But if we actually lived in Gotham City, it would be difficult to read headlines about the Joker’s umpteenth Arkham escape and subsequent murder spree before we started blaming Batman for not just putting a bullet in him. 

When you grow up rooting for Batman and his code preventing murder, it’s easy to see Jason Todd’s decision to kill criminals as a monstrous one.

Ultimately, with more charming and amiable sidekicks like Dick Grayson and Tim Grayson to choose from, Jason Todd is unlikely to win in any fan polls…hell, left to their own devices, many Batman fans would send this character to the grave all over again. But we see Todd as someone coming from a broken background and managing to do a lot of good despite being raised by Batman’s creepy ass. He’s done amazing things before and will do so again, and if the worst thing about him is that he (gasp!) actually kills the killers, we think that’s a small price to pay for victory in his war on crime.