- "You've become what you've always fought against, and I will stop you."
- ―Batman to Ra's al Ghul at Wonder Tower[src]
The Head of the Demon and Leader of The League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul aspired to wipe the entire world clean of crime and pollution by eradicating most of the population. Possessing amazing stamina, martial art skills, and genius level intellect, Ra's formed a massive, secret society throughout the world, which was funded by his many business empires. Fueled by the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit, a fountain of youth that was capable of healing any ailment and even brought others back to life, Ra's spent centuries in pursuit of his goals, and eventually met his most worthy adversary, Batman.
Throughout their battles, Ra's believed the Dark Knight to be the perfect candidate for his right-hand man and, eventually, his successor. Batman refused time and time again, and resulted in Ra's forming brutal operations that threatened the existence of Gotham City and the world itself. After he implemented numerous pawns and pieces in place during a massive conspiracy known as Arkham City through a partnership with Professor Hugo Strange, Ra's' plans of eradicating all that he saw as undesirable to society seemed to finally come to fruition once and for all.
Those plans ended in failure, however, thanks to the continued intervention of Batman, resulting in Arkham City's shutdown, the contamination and destruction of Ra's primary Lazarus Pit, and the deaths of The Joker, Strange, Clayface, Ra's, and even his daughter, Talia. With a massive power-vacuum left in place, the League fell into complete chaos as its forces segmented into fractions, and fought for complete control over the organization. With loyalists dedicated to Ra's goals, who attempted to resurrect him once more, and the rebels, who sought to prevent his return and reform the League, the secret Shadow War that occurred between the fractions claimed countless assassin lives and threatened to tear Gotham to pieces on Halloween Night nine months later.
Lazarus and Wonder City
Late in the 19th Century, Ra's al Ghul, an ancient warlord whose named meant 'Head of the Demon', appeared within Gotham City, a crime-ridden location even back then, with plans to purge all of the criminals. Creating a residence that held various chambers to conduct his plans, Ra's eventually stumbled upon something much more intriguing; Solomon Grundy, formally known as Cyrus Gold, who was murdered and dumped in Slaughter Swamp near the outskirts of the city. It appeared that the beast was created as a product of the strange chemicals that were in the swamp and the storm that raged the very same night that Cyrus was murdered.
Ra's had Grundy captured, who was cruelly held on display in a circus performance to showcase his ability to cheat death, and was taken to his private medical chamber where he ruthlessly experimented on the monster to understand how he came back to life. After he located the chemicals that had revived Grundy, Ra's discovered that the substance had amazing properties and was capable of rejuvenating a person even in death. Ra's realized that this substance was similar to others that he had found throughout the world, which enabled him to live for centuries. However, all other sources of that incredible substance dried up after a relatively short amount of use and were not nearly as pure nor abundant as the source found in Gotham City, which had the potential to be everlasting if it was properly maintained.
It seemed that the electricity from the lightning from the storm that night had amplified the chemicals and allowed Grundy to absorb its abilities, and Ra's named that substance Lazarus. After he realized that the sources within Gotham were the last, true pockets of immortality left in the entire world, and was capable of even bringing others back from the dead, Ra's acquired massive amounts of the substance and created an elaborate mechanism that allowed the chemical to grow in abundance in a secret chamber that he constructed in the city, and it eventually became known as the Lazarus Pit.
Ra's had plans to use it to not only keep himself alive for years but to also use it as free, renewable energy for the people of Gotham. However, Ra's feared that he would fall victim to the same fate as Grundy if precautions were not taken. As result, Ra's began to ruthlessly torture and electrify Grundy while he exposed him to Lazarus every time that he was killed to revive him. After he studied the results every time that Grundy was revived, Ra's altered the nature of Lazarus to suit his needs and eventually made the substance pure; all that was needed was enough exposure to electricity to make the pit a fountain of youth.
Ra's next approached Gotham City Hall and negotiated with them to obtain the deed for the city itself. While the council members found Ra's negotiations amusing and ridiculous in nature, they soon took him seriously when he showed them more gold than had ever seen in their lives from his old country. He was soon awarded the deed, immediately set to work, and commissioned a new project to eradicate crime in Gotham, that was known as Wonder City.
Ra's imported slaves from his country, and had them build that new city, brick by brick, while he developed robots from amazing technology that was way ahead of its time; they were known as the Wonder City Mechanical Guardians. With the city completed, Ra's powered the foundations with the Lazarus chemical and made it a seemingly safe and renewable source of energy.
However, while the residents of Wonder City celebrated Ra's like a genius and a hero, Wonder City was actually a front to cover a violent and sinister conspiracy that was served Ra's megalomaniac desires. Behind the scenes, hundreds of criminals and even potentially innocent individuals were captured and violently murdered by the Wonder City Mechanical Guardians.
In the meantime, Ra's perfected the crown jewel of his city; Wonder Tower which rose over the entire city as a monument of prosperity but was actually part of Ra's experiment to test the Lazarus Pit. Wonder Tower was actually a mechanism that was connected to the Lazarus Pit through a complex network of pipes and attracted electricity during lightning storms, which amplified the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit and allowed Ra's to recover from any physical injury. Ra's also set up additional pits and chambers throughout the city to use as fail-safe supplies, though those pits were much smaller and not nearly as pure as the chemicals that were derived from the Wonder Tower source.
As Ra's continued to perfect that process, he failed to realize that long-term exposure to the pit leads to destabilizing side effects; it drove the citizens of Wonder City insane. Violence, crime, and riots erupted onto the streets in a maddened fashion the likes of which Gotham had never seen before. Ra's refused to admit that his actions had caused the biggest crime wave in Gotham's history and did little to nothing to save his own city, and was completely blinded by his obsession with the Lazarus Pit. When he failed to act, the newly instituted City Hall did and ordered for the police to shut down the city, take all of the residents to Arkham Asylum to be treated, and arrest Ra's.
As the troops went throughout the city, arresting all residents, Ra's vanished and abandoned his once prime utopia. Wonder City was almost completely destroyed from the raid and was shut down, with the new Gotham City constructed over it as the years went on. Grundy in the meantime was left broken physically, emotionally, and mentally from his continuous torture and hundreds of deaths at the hands of Ra's. When troops discovered the beast in Ra's medical chamber, he viciously murdered them all and waited in the chamber for Ra's to return to murder him again. Wonder City went on to become part of Gotham's sewer system while the Cyrus Pinkney National History Museum and the Monarch Theatre were built over the medical chamber that contained Grundy and the Lazarus Pit, respectively.
Over a century later, Ra's still used the Lazarus Pit beneath Gotham to cheat death and remained intent on controlling Gotham and purging its population, though this time, through political means. Having built up a massive army of skilled ninjas, known as The League of Assassins, and massive business empires, mostly under the supervision of his daughter, Talia, to fund its criminal and terrorist operations, Ra's was a true force to be reckoned with. However, the appearance of the vigilante known as Batman in Gotham intrigued the ancient warlord as his apparent and immense skills in stealth and combat made him a prime candidate for his organization, perhaps even his right-hand man and eventual successor, if he could be turned to their side. As the hero was already well versed within Gotham and its criminal underworld, Batman would be ideally placed to carry out the warlord's brutal methods of cleansing Gotham and, eventually, the world.
Ra's ultimate opportunity to test Batman and implement his plans to eliminate most of the population in Gotham presented itself when the biggest crime lord of the city, Black Mask, actually The Joker, a new criminal mastermind and mass murdering psychopath, in disguise, put a $50 million hit on the Dark Knight's head and hired eight of the world's most deadly assassins to kill him on Christmas Eve. One of the assassins would be none other than Shiva, an immensely skilled operative under the command of Ra's, who was given orders by her master to accept the proposition in order to put Batman through a series of tests and implement operations that would be instrumental in his plans years later for the city.
These plans involved Shiva contacting political activist, Quincy Sharp, who was observed by the League of Assassins as being ideal for a pawn due to his power hungry and political ambitions of becoming Mayor, and convinced him to open up Arkham Asylum, previously shut down after numerous cases of illegal activities and experimentation came light, with many being committed by Amadeus Arkham himself. Shiva assured Sharp that by reopening that institution, he could use it as a prison to contain the more dangerous criminals and gain massive public support to nominate him and eventually elect him as Mayor, though she reminded him that it would still take some time to accomplish all of this and that patience was required as a result. In reality, Ra's and Shiva planned for the opening of the asylum to eventually start a chain reaction of events that would culminate in the opening of an even more brutal prison that would pave the wave for the destruction of the city and its population.
To further their designs, Ra's gave Shiva control over a squadron of his trained soldiers and ordered her to use them to murder corrupt officers and criminals in order to draw Batman out in the open and into a series of tests to see just what the hero was capable of. In the end, Batman proved to be just as Ra's had hoped; skilled, honorable, and persistent. While Batman refused to take a life, no matter how corrupt, Shiva gave him a reprieve and hoped that one day he would learn that Gotham could not be saved, only torn down and rebuilt from the ashes.
By the end of the night, the Joker's destructive plans led to the brutal deaths of nearly a thousand people and the destruction of many of the city's structures. This allowed Sharp to use the chaos as an incentive to start a campaign to reopen Arkham Asylum, a goal that was eventually solidified not too long afterward as more 'super-villains' appeared in Gotham and continuous riots and breakouts at Blackgate Prison, the previously sole prison for all Gotham criminals.
With the foundations of Ra's plans in effect, the warlord was ready to start the next phase of his operations when he was told a particularly useful piece of information by Shiva; she had fought Batman before. Shiva recognized the vigilante's fighting style as perfectly identical to that of a man known as Bruce Wayne while he trained abroad, when they both trained under Master Kirigi in North Korea, accurately deducing the hero's identity. Armed with this knowledge, Ra's was prepared not to ruin Bruce Wayne's life nor reveal his identity but sought use it to form a more personable relationship with the hero and persuade him to accept his ideologies of cleansing the world through the eradication of most of its population.
Battles with Batman and Death
The League of Assassins eventually attacked Wayne Enterprises around the world in order to draw Batman out. Eventually, Ra's and Batman crossed paths face to face when Batman saved Ra's' daughter, Talia, from an attack by ninja assassins, but was stabbed in the process with a poison dagger. Ra's let Talia nurse him back to health and Bruce, upon recovery, learned that they both knew his identity.
Ra's introduced himself to Bruce proposed that they form an alliance, and explained his goal of creating a better world. As he formed a romantic relationship with Talia, Batman later discovered that Ra's had staged the attack on his daughter in order to capture the hero and persuade him to join their ranks. Worse, the Dark Knight learned of Ra's status as a warlord over an organization of assassins, the very same who attacked Talia, as well as his connection to past conspiracies, including the 'Wonder City' Project in Gotham, and that his ultimate plans to achieve a better world involved mass murder and domination.
Bruce refused Ra's viewpoints and fought his way back to Gotham, but continued to have multiple battles with the warlord over the years, and Ra's believed that Batman could serve as a worthy successor to his organization and help him eradicate crime by destroying most of the population. Batman saw Ra's as nothing more than another madman and ruined his plans and operations at every corner, but no matter how much damage Ra's sustained during his battles, he always returned later in prime condition.
This led Batman to believe that Ra's was actually supernatural as even the warlord claimed to be over 600 years old. In truth, Ra's returned to his old Lazarus Chamber in Wonder City, now part of the sewer network beneath Gotham, converted it into his base of operations again and used the pit to recover from his injuries. Over the years, Ra's used his knowledge of Batman's true identity to sympathize with him and leverage his tragic origin as persuasion to help him eradicate crime, the same aspect of society that took both of Bruce's parents. No matter how tempted he may have been to help Ra's, Batman never let his moral code down and continued to refuse Ra's, even if that meant he could never be with his beautiful daughter, Talia, with whom he fell in love with.
After he put multiple operations and contingency plans in order, Ra's was eventually visited by a peculiar professor named Hugo Strange who had located him with a proposition of his own. Strange told Ra's that he had the tools and abilities to destroy crime in Gotham and proved his intellect to the warlord by revealing that he had accurately deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne. Ra's was highly impressed by Strange's deduction and decided to give him the chance to prove his worth as a potential successor for his army and empire.
Strange gladly agreed and collaborated with Ra's plans to construct a new prison compound known as Arkham City, an anarchic war zone where every criminal in Gotham would be thrown in for eventual extermination through a military operation known as Protocol 10. Ra's was further impressed with Strange's additional ideas and projects and agreed to fund his operations and provide him with unlimited resources to see his plan through the end. If Strange would succeed and kill Batman, then Ra's would make Strange his successor, though he doubted that Strange would succeed and saw him as little more than a pawn to eliminate crime in Gotham.
Eventually, however, Ra's and Batman engaged in a fight so brutal that it cost Ra's his life; most likely as a result from his own operations that spiraled out of control. Batman took Ra's corpse to Arkham Asylum to ensure that he would remain dead and secured by the authorities at the mental institution.
Rā's al Ghūl's name was written on a toe tag of a corpse in Arkham Asylum and played on the fact that he was immortal. The body lay in a vault at the Arkham Mansion, where it mysteriously vanished towards the end of the game. The name-tag of the dead body was seen on the floor near the open morgue door and hinted that Ra's body was retrieved by one of his followers during the confusion of the Arkham Asylum Riot.
After they retrieved Ra's body, the warlord's followers took it to Wonder City and used the Lazarus Pit to bring him back to life, though he was still severely bruised and barely clinging to life. After he was exposed to the Titan Disease that slowly killed the Joker, Batman was shown an enzyme strand by Mr. Freeze that was needed for the cure to become functional.
Batman quickly realized that this enzyme could be found in Ra's blood and, via a tracking chip that he placed on a member of the League of Assassins, set out to find him. Batman's search led him to the remains of Wonder City beneath Gotham where he was reunited with Talia. Near death and knowing that he must see Ra's, Batman agreed to undergo The Trials of the Demon and spoke to Ra's first in the spirit realm.
After he emerged from his trial, Batman proceeded to the final test where he must kill Ra's himself and assume leadership over the League of Assassins. Ra's was overjoyed to see that Batman would finally take his place as leader of the League; nonetheless, Batman revealed that he had double-crossed Ra's and that he would not kill him. Batman and Ra's fought one another until Talia intervened, and Ra's quickly threatened the life of his own daughter. Angry at both, Talia stormed off, Batman got his blood sample from Ra's and quickly delivering it to Freeze for analysis.
Ra's, while initially fearful of continued use of the Lazarus Pit returned once Protocol 10 was implemented in Arkham City and joined Batman and Strange at Wonder Tower. There, it was revealed that Ra's was behind Arkham City all along and had provided League resources to its development so that crime could be eradicated in Gotham.
Strange outlived his usefulness, and Ra's stabbed him in the back with his sword and looked out on Gotham as it burned. Strange was not dead and engaged Protocol 11, which Ra's was unaware of. Wonder Tower exploded via a self-destruct protocol, but not before Batman threw Ra's and himself through the tower's window and began to plummet down to the ruined city hundreds of feet below.
Ra's and the Dark Knight continued to struggle with one another as they fell from the destroyed Wonder Tower with Batman attempting to save the warlord's life from the deadly drop. Ra's, defeated, saw his only avenue to win was to plunge his sword through his own chest and into Batman. Nonetheless, Batman had anticipated that attack and was able to push away in time, and resulted in Ra's kill only himself. Batman glided to safety while Ra's violently landed on the logo of Arkham City and was impaled in the stomach. Ra's body later disappeared after the battle with one of his assassin's swords that was struck into the ground underneath the main gate.
After Arkham City
It was later revealed within a "Gotham Story" in Arkham Knight, that Ra's body was indeed retrieved by his remaining followers, though without the Lazarus Pit, they were unable to revive him or Talia for the time being, which left the League without any leadership initially and a power-vacuum in place.
However, some followers believed that their master could never die for good, and had prepared a way to revive Ra's once again to resume the League's plans to purge most of the population throughout Gotham and the world itself. Those followers left messages throughout alleys within Gotham City and warned the state that the Head of the Demon would eventually return.
However, many members of the organization did not agree with the operation for their own personal desires for the League and hid away Ra's body to prevent him from returning. That ultimately led to a secret war between the League's members, which segmented them into fractions for control over the organization's power-vacuum that was left in the wake of Ra's death, and was not too dissimilar to the situation that arose within Gotham's criminal underworld after the Joker's death.
That confirmed that at least one fraction within the remains of the secret organization actively sought to revive their master once again.
By the time that Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight launched their plans over Gotham City, the entire League was in chaos as Ra's loyal followers successfully retrieved his body from the rebel faction that sought to prevent his resurrection and was prepared to revive the ancient warlord once again on the same night. To that end, they continued their secret war, which was eventually exposed to Batman after the Dark Knight discovered two ninjas that belonged to each faction, internally named loyalists and rebels, dead and investigated the event. To that end, Batman once again came into conflict with the remains of the League of Assassins, their current leader unknown, as they reappeared within Gotham City and continued their secret war among their internal fractions.
Batman was able to ultimately follow a blood trail from an injured assassin and discovered that the remnants of the League who were loyal to Ra's had assumed complete control of Elliot Memorial Hospital, murdered the remaining medical staff, and converted it into their base of operations. After they trained new recruits from Gotham and set up a makeshift shrine to Ra's within an old Lazarus Chamber that was underneath the hospital after they successfully retrieved his body from the rebel forces, the loyalists previously discovered that the hospital was built over a Lazarus source and had been pumping the chemical into Ra's through a feed tube device. However, the chemicals were revealed to be heavily polluted and Ra's was barely brought back to life and was unable to survive without a constant supply.
As Batman navigated through a sea of mutilated corpses of both loyalists and rebels within the hospital, the remnants of bloody battles between the fractions, the hero eventually confronted Ra's and his forces. The loyalists revealed that the rebels had discovered a much purer Lazarus Pit within Gotham and guarded it against their forces. Ra's cruelly used the memory of Talia, to convince Batman to help him, the hero eventually located the second pit and confronted the Rebel forces, who were also comprised of new recruits from Gotham's streets.
Batman ultimately defeated them, recovered a small sample of the Lazarus chemical, and discovered that their leader was Nyssa Raatko, Ra's other daughter, who sought to end Ra's life and assume control of the League to reform them, leave Gotham, and pursue more noble interests. Nyssa revealed that Ra's had grown more wicked and deranged with each bath that he had taken within the Lazarus Pit and that he must be put out of his misery to end further years of unnecessary bloodshed and destruction. While Batman and Nyssa destroyed that second and last pit, Batman was ultimately forced to choose between saving Ra's with the sample that he took or finally end his reign of terror. While travelling back to Ra's' base, Batman also briefly spoke with Alfred, who observed that Ra's had lived so long by this point (coupled with the fact that he was currently on life support and had basically already died before now) that killing him wouldn't actually be 'murder' so much as preventing an unnatural resurrection, even as Alfred acknowledged that he didn't know which option he would pick in Batman's position and would stand by his master whatever Batman chose to do.
If Batman chooses to save Ra's, he injects him with the Lazazus and battles Nyssa's forces. After recovering, Ra's murders Nyssa and escapes Batman, by stealing and using one of the latter's smoke pellets. Ra's then leaves to regain control of the League and purge it of the insurgents. Though Batman knows he hasn't broken his code, he understands that Ra's will return and Gotham may never be safe with him still outside of police custody.
If Batman destroyed both the cure and Ra's Lazarus device, the loyalists were defeated, Nyssa assumed control of the League, left Gotham, and assured Batman that she would keep her promise and reform the organization. Ra's was then locked up at the GCPD Lockup to live out his final moments, and was too weak to attempt any form of escape, while his remaining followers were either disbanded or killed by the rebel forces of Nyssa. On his deathbed, Ra's informs the Dark Knight that he was proud of him, seemingly for finally doing what was necessary to end the war and their personal battle.
Regardless of which outcome was chosen, the Shadow War within Gotham was put to an end with one fraction's victory and the League's departure from Gotham City.
A man of vast resources, intellect, and skills, Ra's al Ghul utilized all of those to his agenda and to further his goals. To his followers, the League of Assassins, Ra's was wise, enigmatic, and calculating and thrust his charisma and cause toward his forces, all of whom were fanatically loyal to him. Though Ra's had somewhat noble objections, he viewed the world in a cancerous state because of cancer; the criminal element and the only solution to save the world was to destroy that element, no matter what the sacrifice.
To achieve that, Ra's adapted the League to fit the new world and used more modern weapons, including politics. Ra's was a puppet-master of the highest order, the most grand of his manipulations and conspiracies were Arkham City in which he instilled numerous pawns, including Hugo Strange and Quincy Sharp for the sole purpose of eradicating the entire population of criminals. To achieve his goals, Ra's was stubborn, uncompromising and willing to sacrifice anything, including his own daughter. Ra's had a deep authority complex and self-righteousness that allowed him to believe he did what was right for the world.
Ra's had a very twisted sense of honor and little morality, which extended to his own followers as he killed Strange atop Wonder Tower, from behind for simply proving that Batman was his superior. Ra's deemed Batman a fool for his desire to make the world a better place yet his refusal to kill criminals. Ra's was equally determined in making Batman his successor, no matter how many times that he blatantly refused, Ra's still persisted in forcing Batman to take his place until he showed a willingness to take a life, even if that was his own and was willing to utilize, Talia as a means of persuasion and later a bargaining chip.
Each time that Ra's exited the Lazarus Pit, a mythical rejuvenating agent that could revive an individual from death, it warped his mind and pushed him to absolute extremism and insanity. The effects reached its tole during the Shadow War: Ra's became an almost zombie-like state of mind, and his appearance resembled that of a corpse and became considerably less lucid. Though the League constantly brought him back to life, Ra's had little fear of death as he constantly encouraged Batman to permanently kill him, and even told the Dark Knight that he was proud of him for destroying his Lazarus machine on his deathbed.
Despite his zealotry and ruthlessness, Ra's was a caring father to Talia as he trained her in the martial arts and spoiled her, which caused her arrogance and overconfidence in her adult years. The Lazarus Pit affected Ra's mind, though and turned him cold, cruel, and abusive towards Talia to the point of holding her at knife-point in order to force Batman to become his heir. Ra's showed a willingness to kill his own daughter if they opposed him in any way as he neglected Nysaa for her entire life and killed her in cold-blood for leading a loyalist faction against him if the player chose to save him.
Game Over Lines
- "And the hunt for my successor goes on."
- "It appears I chose unwisely, Detective."
- "You disappoint me, Detective."
- Ra's' army mining throughout Wonder City after their return was the cause of the seismic activity that caused part of Arkham City to be submerged in water.
- In both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Ra's corpse vanished from its location through initially unknown circumstances, until it was confirmed much later in the series that his followers had retrieved his body each time that he died to undergo attempted revival techniques.