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Who is the leader of Titans?

The Titans are a fictional superhero team appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. The group consists of various superpowered individuals who join forces to fight evil. Like any team, the Titans have had various leaders over the years who have guided and directed the group. Determining exactly who the definitive leader of the Titans is can be difficult, as leadership has changed hands multiple times throughout the team’s history. However, by examining key eras and lineups of the Titans, we can get a good sense of who the central, longest-standing leaders of the team have been.

Original Teen Titans

The original Teen Titans team was formed by Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl and Speedy. This early incarnation of the Titans first appeared in The Brave and the Bold #54 in July 1964. Robin, the famous sidekick of Batman, was the clear leader of this original team. As the only member with prior experience fighting alongside an adult hero, Robin was the mature veteran who organized the team and tended to take charge during missions. While Kid Flash, Aqualad and the others offered input, Robin was the directive force who gave the final orders in battle.

So during the early days of the Teen Titans, back when the team was still composed of teenage sidekicks, Robin was the definitive leader. As the team continued to grow and evolve over the years, however, leadership would gradually shift away from Robin and onto other prominent members.

Transition to Nightwing

A major shift in Titans history came in the 1980s when the character of Robin transitioned into a new identity: Nightwing. After serving as Batman’s sidekick Robin for many years, Dick Grayson decided to step outside of Batman’s shadow and assert his independence. In 1984, he retired his Robin identity and became Nightwing in Tales of the Teen Titans #39.

This transition from Robin to Nightwing was a seminal moment in Titans history. The Titans were no longer led by Batman’s junior partner – they were now led by a hero who had stepped out on his own and proven himself as an independent leader. Nightwing took over as the primary leader and field commander of the Titans during this era. The torch had been passed from Robin to Nightwing.

The New Teen Titans

In the early 1980s, the Teen Titans underwent a major revamp with Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s run on The New Teen Titans. This version of the Titans featured brand new members like Starfire, Cyborg, and Raven. Nightwing remained as the leader for this new generation of Titans. He was now an adult hero in his own right, and his maturity and experience allowed him to guide this next crop of young heroes.

Under Nightwing’s leadership, the New Teen Titans lineup became hugely popular and critically acclaimed. Nightwing was an effective, intelligent leader who commanded respect from his teammates. He led many classic missions during this era, including facing threats like Deathstroke, Brother Blood, and Trigon. Nightwing’s central role continued to reinforce his status as the Titans’ primary leader during the New Teen Titans era.

Arsenal’s Brief Leadership

For a brief period in the early 1990s, leadership of the Titans was held by Arsenal (the former Speedy) when Nightwing was not active with the team. Arsenal took over as leader in New Titans #71 in 1991. Arsenal remained the Titans leader until Nightwing returned in New Titans #93 and reasserted control over the team.

While capable in his own right, Arsenal’s relatively short tenure as leader confirms that the Titans still saw Nightwing as their true leader during this era. Nightwing was still considered the heart of the team, which is why leadership flowed back to him upon his return.

The Atom (Ray Palmer)

In 1996, DC rebooted the Titans franchise with Titans Vol. 2 by writer Devin Grayson. The lineup for this new team consisted of established veterans like Nightwing, Troia, Flash, and Arsenal. Completing the roster was renowned scientist Ray Palmer, aka The Atom.

Upon the formation of this new team, The Atom was selected to serve as the Titans’ new leader. His intelligence and rational judgment were ideal qualities the team sought in a central leader and director. Palmer led the Titans for several missions as they battled threats like Haze and the nation of Zandia.

However, much like Arsenal’s tenure, The Atom’s time as leader proved temporary. Once again, the mantle of leadership would end up back in the hands of Nightwing before long.

Return to Nightwing

Following the events of Graduation Day, a 2003 crossover event, the Titans franchise was once again rebooted with the mini-series Teen Titans/Outsiders: The Insiders. This brought together teen heroes like Superboy, Wonder Girl, and Impulse under the guidance of former Titans Cyborg, Starfire and Beast Boy. Nightwing was recruited to lead this new squad of Titans once again.

Nightwing accepted the role of leading and training this next generation of Titans. While hesitant at first, he grew into the role of mentor and commanded the team on dangerous missions against the likes of Brother Blood and Deathstroke. During this era the Teen Titans, under Nightwing’s leadership and training, reclaimed their former glory.

For a brief time, leadership was later passed to Cyborg. But overall, the 2000s returned the Teen Titans leadership position back into the trusted hands of Nightwing.

Dick Grayson as Batman

In 2009, when Batman was thought dead after Final Crisis, his former sidekick Dick Grayson took over the mantle of Batman. This directly impacted Grayson’s tenure with the Titans, as he could no longer operate as Nightwing due to becoming Batman.

During this period with Grayson as Batman, leadership of the Titans fell to Starfire. She became the head of a new Titans lineup that included Damian Wayne as Robin. Starfire made for a capable leader in Grayson’s absence.

However, once again the Titans leadership eventually found its way back to Dick Grayson after he returned to his Nightwing identity post-Flashpoint. He officially resumed control of the Titans in the Rebirth era starting in 2016.

Tim Drake as Red Robin

Another character who has served prominently as Titans leader is Tim Drake, who has gone by the superhero codenames Robin and Red Robin.

In the aftermath of Graduation Day in 2003, the core Titans disbanded. Without Nightwing or Troia’s leadership, Tim Drake stepped up to assemble a new group of Titans built around younger heroes. This included Superboy, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl, and others.

Tim Drake served capably as the leader of this new Young Justice-inspired version of the Titans for some time. However, much like those who briefly held leadership before him, Tim Drake’s role as leader was not destined to last.

Dick Grayson soon returned to bring many of the original New Teen Titans members back together, reasserting his central role as leader of the Titans franchise. Tim Drake went back to serving as a member of the team, rather than its leader. While strong in his own right, the entirety of Titans history makes it clear that Tim Drake was more of a temporary fill-in leader during Nightwing’s absence.

Teen Titans TV Show

In the early 2000s animated series Teen Titans, Robin is again depicted as the leader of the Titans. He assembles the team and performs the majority of battlefield direction and planning.

This animated version of Robin draws heavily from the originalcomics, with Robin serving as the dynamic, capable leader of the Titans throughout the show’s run. He is regularly the one calling the shots and guiding the team through missions, cementing his role as their leader.

While Cyborg at times acts as secondary field leader, Robin is still written as the primary leader of the Titans in the Teen Titans animated universe. His prominent direction of the team reflects the importance of Robin and Nightwing as leaders of the Titans in the comics.

Teen Titans Go!

In the more comedic animated series Teen Titans Go!, leadership dynamics are portrayed a bit differently. While Robin remains the most motivated and driven member of the Titans, leadership is shown as more equally distributed among the whole team in this show.

Robin still often takes point during missions and oversees training. However, episodes showcase all the Titans participating equally in group decisions. Cyborg in particular acts as a secondary leader at times, giving battlefield orders and directing group activities. Overall, while still demonstrated as an effective leader, Robin’s role is slightly downplayed in Teen Titans Go! in favor of a more collaborative approach.

Titans Live-Action TV Show

The live-action Titans series on the DC Universe streaming service features Dick Grayson as Robin and Nightwing as the leader of the titular team. This portrayal draws directly from the comics, with Grayson forming the team.

Both as Robin in season 1 and Nightwing in season 2, Grayson takes on the role of guiding and directing the Titans’s efforts against threats such as Trigon and Deathstroke. While Starfire and other members are shown contributing ideas, Grayson is the clear team leader calling the shots in the field. His natural leadership abilities are highlighted in this live action adaptation.


When looking at the full publication history and the various adaptations of the Titans across media, certain figures stand out as the most iconic, long-term leaders of the supergroup. While many members have briefly held leadership for limited periods, the leaders with the greatest lasting legacy and tenure are undoubtedly Robin/Nightwing and – to a secondary extent – Cyborg.

Key Titans Leaders:

Leader Primary Era Duration
Robin Original 1960s Teen Titans 1960s
Nightwing New Teen Titans (1980s) 1980s-2000s, 2010s-Present
Cyborg Teen Titans (2000s animated series) 2000s

Robin led the original Teen Titans team during the 1960s. But the iconic leader that defined the Titans for decades was Nightwing, who led the team for the majority of its modern existence, from the New Teen Titans era into present day continuity. Cyborg also had longer tenures as team leader and secondary field commander during the 2000s animated series and at times in the comics.

But overall, when analyzing the full history of the Titans, no hero stands out more as the quintessential leader than Nightwing. He has dominated Titans leadership across decades of continuity. For most Titans lineups and eras, regardless of which members filled out the roster, the constant was Nightwing guiding the team as its central leader and strategist.