Bruce Wayne, the billionaire philanthropist who leads Wayne Enterprises by day and fights crime as Batman by night, does not actually have any biological children in most continuities. However, he has taken on several young wards over the years who he has cared for as if they were his own. Determining Bruce’s “favorite child” is therefore a complex question that requires looking at his relationships with each of his various proteges in depth.
Dick Grayson (Robin/Nightwing)
Dick Grayson was Bruce’s first ward, taken in after his parents were murdered during their acrobatic circus act. Bruce saw himself in young Dick and trained him to become Robin, Batman’s trusty sidekick. Though their relationship was sometimes turbulent, Dick represented Bruce’s first chance at having a family again after his own parents died. They formed a close father-son bond during Dick’s teenage years fighting crime together as Batman and Robin.
Even after Dick grew up and became Nightwing, he and Bruce maintained a strong relationship. Dick knows Bruce’s secret identity and operations better than anyone outside the Bat-family. Bruce likely has a soft spot in his heart for Dick given their long history together. However, as an independent adult hero now, Dick may not still be considered one of Bruce’s “children.”
Jason Todd (Robin)
Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson gave up the mantle. He came from a troubled background, having grown up impoverished with absent parents involved in shady criminal dealings. Bruce tried to put Jason on the right path by making him Robin, but Jason’s anger issues and rebellious nature made him a problematic protege.
Their strained relationship came to a tragic end when Jason was killed by the Joker. Though devastated by guilt, Bruce kept Jason’s uniform on display in the Batcave as a memorial. When Jason was mysteriously resurrected years later, he harbored resentment towards Bruce for not avenging his death. Their rocky history makes it unlikely that Bruce would consider the reckless Jason Todd a favorite child.
Tim Drake (Robin)
Unlike Dick and Jason who were orphaned, Tim Drake grew up in a stable home with his parents. He discovered Batman and Robin’s secret identities on his own as a boy. When Batman became violent and unstable after Jason’s death, Tim knew he needed a Robin. The intelligent and eager-to-please Tim convinced a reluctant Bruce to train him as the new Boy Wonder.
Though their relationship lacked the personal connection Bruce had with Dick, Tim proved himself a capable and loyal Robin time and again. Bruce came to depend on Tim’s technological expertise and detective skills. As the Robin who voluntarily filled the void left by Jason, Tim demonstrated a dedication that likely puts him high in Bruce’s esteem.
Cassandra Cain (Batgirl)
The daughter of assassins David Cain and Lady Shiva, Cassandra Cain was deprived of speech and human contact during her harsh childhood training. After escaping her father, she was taken in by Bruce and became the new Batgirl under his and Oracle’s tutelage. Though quiet and socially awkward, Cassandra’s superior fighting skills and determination to do good made her an excellent protege for Batman.
Bruce sympathized with Cassandra’s difficult upbringing and wanted to provide her with the loving home she lacked. In turn, Cassandra’s loyalty and eagerness to please Bruce specifically makes her relationship with him quite special. Bruce likely sees much of himself in Cassandra and takes pride in nurturing the once-friendless girl into a confident hero.
Stephanie Brown (Spoiler/Robin/Batgirl)
The daughter of the criminal Cluemaster, Stephanie Brown became the vigilante Spoiler to spoil her father’s plans. Despite lacking extensive training, her courage and persistence led her to regularly aid the Bat-family. Bruce was initially reluctant to officially take Stephanie under his wing given her reckless bravado. But after she proved herself as both Robin and Batgirl for brief stints, Bruce came to appreciate her dedication to the cause.
Stephanie shares warm, playful interactions with Bruce that provide levity to his normally brooding demeanor. And her cheerful can-do attitude in the face of adversity exemplifies the resilience Bruce hopes to instill in all his proteges. Though not always the most polished fighter, Stephanie’s spunk makes her one of the most personable Robins for Bruce.
Damian Wayne (Robin)
As Bruce’s biological son with Talia al Ghul, Damian Wayne spent his early childhood being trained by the League of Assassins. After leaving his mother to meet the father he never knew, the feisty and fiercely independent Damian became Robin despite his young age. Though his arrogance, violence, and disobedience frequently tested Bruce’s patience, he recognized Damian’s need for proper guidance to control his raw potential.
Bruce feels tremendous responsibility to provide Damian the loving parental relationship he never had growing up. And he sees the chance to mold his own son into a noble hero and future heir to the Batman mantle. Though he does not always get along with Damian, Bruce’s blood connection and duty as a father likely makes Damian his most favored ward on a personal level.
Duke Thomas (Lark/Robin)
Duke Thomas is an orphan who Bruce Wayne began sponsoring after Duke’s parents died in crime alley. While living with the Waynes, Duke discovered the Batcave and began training under Batman, Robin, and Batgirl. Duke initially operated as the spy Lark before officially joining the family as Robin after Damian’s death.
As a financially supported ward living under Bruce’s own roof, Duke got to experience what being Bruce Wayne’s adoptive son would be like. Duke thus formed a familial bond with Bruce beyond just being another vigilante protege. Given Bruce’s investment in caring for Duke as more than just Batman with Robin, Duke could be considered one of Bruce’s favored children.
Terry McGinnis (Batman Beyond)
In an alternate future, teenager Terry McGinnis became the new Batman under the mentorship of an elderly Bruce Wayne. Terry’s father was murdered, prompting Bruce to step in as his guardian. He then provided Terry with training and an advanced Batsuit to carry on Batman’s legacy against new foes.
Though from another timeline, Terry filled a similar role to Bruce’s other wards as someone to pass the Batman mantle onto. Bruce became a father figure to Terry and guided him into honoring the Batman name even in his old age. Their intergenerational partnership makes Terry stand out as one of Bruce’s most impactful “sons.”
Batwoman (Kate Kane)
Though not strictly one of Bruce’s wards, Kate Kane has a special working relationship with Batman as his occasional ally Batwoman. Kate has impressive crimefighting and military experience independent of Bruce’s guidance. But as his cousin, Kate has a familial bond with Bruce that shapes their dynamic as Gotham’s two Bat-vigilantes.
Bruce undoubtedly feels pride in seeing Kate capably carry on the Bat-family legacy with her own crimefighting career. He also knows he can count on her as family in times of crisis. Though more of an equal than a ward, Kate is arguably like a favored niece or daughter to Bruce.
Who Is The Favorite?
Based on these relationships, Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne seem to stand out as potential favorites for different reasons. Dick represents Bruce’s first son, while Damian is his only biological child. Both have been Robin and established strong personal connections with Bruce.
But ultimately, Bruce does not play favorites with his wards. All have earned his trust and respect through their work as his partners. As the pinnacle of justice, Batman recognizes he cannot be biased and must treat all the children he has taken responsibility for equally. Like any good father, he avoids favoritism and cares for each of the Bat-family members unconditionally in his own way.
Though Batman has mentored many proteges, determining his single favorite is impossible. Every child Bruce Wayne has guardianship over holds a special place in his heart crucial to the Bat-family dynamic. His love transcends simple favoritism. Like any good parent, Bruce accepts each of his wards for their strengths and flaws while guiding them towards heroic ideals. He therefore considers all equally as his children in the mission to uphold justice in Gotham and beyond.