- "When I took back the Demon's Head, I saw a vision of a cataclysmic event soon to befall this city. [...] A cleansing fire that will destroy, purify, create - create you, Bruce. Because I will use it as a mighty forge, molding you into a Dark Knight of Gotham! If it doesn't kill you, that is."
- —Ra's al Ghul to Bruce Wayne[src]
Ra's al Ghul (Arabic: رأس الغول Raʾs al-Ġūl; Demon's Head) was a mysterious individual, the supreme leader of the assassin organization League of Shadows and the father of Nyssa al Ghul. Being alive for thousands of years, he has gained eternal life through usage of restorative Lazarus Pits. He also foresaw Bruce Wayne's destiny to be the protector of the new Gotham City and turning him into his heir. He initially tried to turn Barbara Kean into his successor as the Demon's Head, but eventually took that power back from her when he deemed her "unworthy" for not following the League's traditional goals.
Ra's was able to finally make his vision of Gotham's destruction come true when he allied with Jeremiah Valeska. Together, they killed Gotham's mayor and destroyed bridges leading out of the evacuated city, turning it into a lawless no-man's land. However, he was then killed by Barbara Kean and Bruce. As he died, he encouraged Bruce to embrace his role as the city's new "Dark Knight".
In Arabia, 125 A.D. Ra's was an ancient Kurdish Saracen warrior who was killed in battle. Upon being discovered by a mysterious stranger, the stranger brought Ra's to his lair and resurrected him via the Lazarus Pit. He gave Ra's the life purpose to find his true heir before handing him a Kurdish Dagger. For 2000 years, Ra's was given time to build his secret global organization, he founded a mysterious order of trained warriors and assassins known as the League of Shadows. Throughout human history, the League has been responsible for forming and shaping the very foundations of modern day beliefs. In his centuries of life, Ra’s fathered at least one child, a daughter named Nyssa al Ghul.
At an unknown point, Ra's learned of a prophecy which stated a young man would rise to become the protector and dark hero of Gotham city who was destined to become his true heir. Ra's is also the Sensei's master and thus responsible for the actions of the Court of Owls. Using the Court as pawns, Ra's has prepared Gotham for its destruction. Having manufactured a weapon from the toxic blood of Alice Tetch, Ra's has tasked his disciples at the Court with deploying the bomb into the heart of Gotham City so that its inhabitants will be affected by the virus. The people of Gotham will be driven mad by the virus and rip themselves and the city apart.
In addition to the manufacturing of the weapon, Sensei is also indoctrinating a young Bruce Wayne. He seems to believe of the opinion that Bruce will emerge from the chaos in Gotham as the dark hero mentioned in the prophecy. Bruce is successfully brainwashed and is loyal to the Sensei. After the Court has served its purpose, Sensei kills the members of the Court ruling council and detonates the Tetch virus bomb. Although the bomb is successfully activated, fulfilling Ra's' plans, Sensei is killed. While he lies dying, he tells Bruce to head to the Yuyan Building and seek out the "Demon's head" in order to fulfill his destiny.
Revealing himself to Bruce
- "I have seen and done things that would shake the very core of what you believe. I am thought to be a demon. A saint. A ghost. But for all my years, all my travels, there is one thing that I have never found: a true heir."
- —Ra's al Ghul
During the chaos wrought in Gotham due to the virus, Bruce decides to listen to Sensei's dying words and heads to the Yuyan building. He opens a mysterious door and arrives in an underground temple. Unbeknownst to him, he is followed by Alfred Pennyworth. In the building, Bruce is confronted by a group of Ra's' hooded followers who direct him to a room at the end of the corridor. Inside this room, Bruce finds a basin with a shining, green liquid. As he moves to touch it, a voice from the shadows advises him not to touch it. Bruce is surprised that the voice knows his name but Ra's reveals that he was the one who told the Sensei to send Bruce to him. Bruce reveals that Sensei is dead but Ra's replies that he died after fulfilling his mission - the Court of Owls is destroyed, Gotham burns and Bruce has come. Bruce states that the Sensei told him to find the Demon's head. Ra's replies that he is the Demon's head, introducing himself as Ra's al Ghul.'
Ra's asks Bruce why he has come and Bruce states that the Sensei told him that Ra's would complete his training. Ra's asks whether he also told Bruce who Ra's is and what his intentions are and Bruce admits that he didn't. Bruce states that he is ready and Ra's questions it as Bruce was not the one to press the trigger to unleash the virus onto the city. Bruce claims that he would have pressed the trigger, but that Alfred distracted him. Ra's feigns understanding and claims that Bruce will have another chance to prove himself. At that moment, two of his followers drag a captured Alfred into the room. When Alfred insults him, Ra's strikes him across the face. He then orders his followers to leave the room. He draws a sword and hands it to Bruce. Claiming that Alfred is his past and urging him to embrace his future, Ra's tells Bruce to kill Alfred. Bruce takes the sword from Ra's but Alfred appeals to Bruce's memories and the love he received from Alfred and his parents. Despite Alfred's best efforts, Bruce runs him through with the sword.
However, Bruce immediately realizes what he has done; Alfred's attempts managed to help him break his conditioning. Realizing this, Ra's laughs and states it is impressive that Bruce managed to break the conditioning. Bruce furiously screams that Ra's does not control him anymore and that he will never be his heir. Ra's states that on the contrary, Bruce has proven that he is strong enough to become Ra's heir, as the prophecy has foretold and that Bruce would serve as his "knight in the darkness". He advises Bruce to "use the waters" and then leaves without a trace. By using the waters of the Lazarus Pit, Bruce manages to revive Alfred.
Ra’s recovered the dead Barbara Kean's body and resurrected her using the Lazarus Pit. The newly resurrected Barbara was trained by Ra’s and became his Ally, she was sent back to Gotham to retrieve the Kurdish dagger.
Three Months Later
Three months later, Ra's observed Bruce after he had successfully taken down a group of muggers attempting to rob a couple.
Ra’s later visits Barbara and tests her training before asking her if she was successful in retrieving the dagger for him. Barbara surprises Ra’s when she informs him that Bruce Wayne bought the blade at auction and they start kissing. It was also revealed that Ra's had chosen Barbara to be his successor.
Hunting Alex Winthrop
Ra's al Ghul later confronts Niles Winthrop over the embalming knife information and later kills him. In order to find Alex Winthrop, Ra's al Ghul introduces Barbara Kean to Anubis and The Hunter who will track Alex down. During Jim Gordon's search for information on Ra's al Ghul, he and Detective Harper are approached by Ra's al Ghul who introduced himself as the Minister of Nanda Parbat. They make use of the captain's office while Harvey Bullock is away as Ra's al Ghul states that the embalming knife is Nanda Parbat's property. Alfred Pennyworth arrives looking for Bruce where he punches Ra's al Ghul causing Gordon to restrain him. When Harper states that an alarm went off at the museum, Gordon finds that Ra's al Ghul left under their noses. Upon Gordon and Bruce defeating Anubis and The Hunter, Ra's al Ghul had come up from behind Alex as he demands that they hand over the embalming knife. Bruce hesitates causing Ra's al Ghul to kill Alex and demands that Gordon arrests him. As Ra's al Ghul is being escorted into Blackgate Penitentiary, he has a strange look on his face.
Stay at Blackgate
Gordon is told by Harper that Judge Bam Bam's clerk called stating that Ra's al Ghul's trial has been delayed while Bullock mentions that the Nanda Parbat embassy wants Ra's al Ghul extradited. Barbara Kean later visited Ra's al Ghul in Blackgate Penitentiary's maximum security prison where she tells him of a plan to break him out. Ra's al Ghul tells her that it won't be necessary. He then transfers some energy to her which she is to use at a later date. Bruce Wayne infiltrates Blackgate Penitentiary to confront Ra's al Ghul only to be subdued by his men who had replaced some of the prison guards. In Blackgate's sub-basement, Ra's al Ghul plans to have Bruce Wayne use the embalming knife on him in order to end his curse. Meanwhile, James Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth enter Blackgate Penitentiary where they fight the imposter prison guards.
- "Then allow me to tell you what will happen if you don't kill me. I will disappear and let you live your life. You will follow the path of light. Grow into a fine man. Become a husband. A father. There may be a day when you forget I ever existed. But then I will return. And I will kill everyone you love. Just as you watched your parents die, just as you watched me slice your friend's throat, I will slaughter your wife and children before your very eyes, and there will be nothing you can do about it."
- —Ra's al Ghul threatening Bruce Wayne[src]
Ra’s reveals to Bruce that he is destined to be his heir as he saw Bruce in a vision he had when he was first resurrected in the Lazarus Pit 2000 years ago by his predecessor. Furthermore, Since Bruce is his heir he is the only one who can kill him. When Ra's al Ghul makes a threat to target his future family, Bruce Wayne uses the embalming knife on Ra's al Ghul as he turns into a skeleton by the time Jim Gordon and Alfred Pennyworth arrive. As Blackgate Penitentiary goes under lockdown, Alfred talks to the police while Jim Gordon tells Bruce that they are covering up what happened by stating that Ra's al Ghul's men infiltrated Blackgate Penitentiary and made off with him.
While suffering from headaches at The Sirens, Barbara started to see a vision of Ra's al Ghul.
The energies that Ra's al Ghul placed in Barbara Kean turned out to be a beacon that called the rest of the League of Shadows to Gotham City. However, seeing that the male members of the League wouldn't accept taking order from a female leader, most of them were killed, leaving Barbara to lead an all female League of Shadows.
After being betrayed and thrown out onto the street by Barbara, Tabitha Galavan was approached by remaining male members of the league who called Barbara "The Imposter" and used Tabitha to kidnap Bruce Wayne in order to resurrect Ra's. However, without the Demon's Head, he came back in a zombie-like state and was requested by Tabitha to take the Demon's Head from Barbara. He then went to visit her at one of his lairs, she turned around, shocked that he was alive. He asked what she had done with his gift, the Demon's Head, he was disappointed to learn that she was planning on taking over Gotham so that she would be treated like a queen. He then asked her to quickly give him back the Demon's Head but she quickly declines and the two begin to fight.
An alliance with Jeremiah and Second Death
After regaining the Demons Head from Barbra, Ra's explains he was wrong and he can't die yet. He then disappears and returns to Wayne Manor later that night and explains to Bruce that when he got the Demons Head back he saw a vision of Gotham in flames. The next day, while Jeremiah Valeska is talking to himself in his safe house, he tells Valeska that he's tenacious. The latter pulls a gun out and asks who's there. Ra's responds telling Valeska about his vision of Gotham in flames. He says that together they can make that happen. Valeska thanks him for the offer but tells him he's better off working alone and tries to shoot him, but Ra's disappears before he can. Valeska then realize's that Ra's is right behind him, with the latter saying that they both are doing this for Bruce Wayne. Valeska finally agrees to work with him, Ra's then tells Valeska to shoot Selina Kyle.
Ra’s then watched as one of Jeremiah’s bombs detonated, destroying a bit of the city. Ra’s freed Jeremiah from captivity at the GCPD, and kidnapped Bruce. Ra’s had Bruce brought to a building where they could watch the destruction as Ra’s and Jeremiah explained that the detonation Of the bombs would help Bruce fulfill his destiny. Alfred, Barbara, and Tabitha all arrived to fight Ra’s, Jeremiah, and the League. Barbara fought Ra’s in hand to hand combat. During turn fight, she got Bruce to grab the Kurdish dagger and together they drove it through Ra’s body, who complemented her on her quick thinking. Just then the bombs detonated, destroying the bridges that connected Gotham. As Bruce watched by the destruction, Ra’s grabbed Bruce shoulders and told him to fulfill his destiny and become Gotham’s Dark Knight before he crumbled into dust.
Months after Gotham became a No Man's Land, his daughter, Nyssa al Ghul would return to Gotham under the guise of Theresa Walker, along with Bane and Delta Force. Their goal is to see that Gotham is destroyed and kill the two who were responsible for Ra's' death, Barbara and Bruce. But Nyssa would eventually fail as Bruce and Barbara survived and Gotham was reunified with the mainland instead of being destroyed.
His prophesy of a cataclysmic event that would mold Bruce Wayne into a dark knight, in order to protect the city from its growing insanity, ultimately came true.
Ra's al Ghul respects people who show strength such as Bruce Wayne for breaking through a mind control technique as well as what he could become in the future.
Ra's al Ghul also has a dry sense of humor shown when Barbara attempted to unsuccessfully kill him with the Kurdish Dagger, he merely said ouch.
Powers and Abilities
- Immortality: Ra's has stated to Bruce Wayne during their conversation at the Yuyan Building that he has been alive for an inhumanly long time and was a member of the Kurdish Saracen Army and thus has been alive since before the year 125 A.D. It is revealed that he cannot be killed, unless his true heir slays him with the Kurdish Dagger. When Bruce Wayne saw his reflection on a puddle of water, he saw his reflection to be that of a walking corpse.
- Enhanced Strength: Ra's has shown superhuman levels of physical strength, being able to toss an adolescent armored Bruce Wayne across a room and easily restrain him. He could snap necks with ease and he even tore out a man’s throat.
- Demon's Head: With the mystical light of the Demon's head, Ra's also had the power to call the League of Shadows to him through a beacon in his hand. The Demon's head can also be used to see into the past and future. He later transferred this power to Barbara Kean before dying, but later took back the power from her after coming back to life.
- Regeneration: After getting the Demon's Head back from Barbara, Ra's regenerated his biological body parts within a few seconds.
- Precognition: After getting the Demon's Head back from Barbara, Ra's had a vision from the future in which all of Gotham was in flames.
- Escape Artist: He was able to quickly escape by blending in the Shadows, making him appear to be invisible, as even Bruce Wayne's heightened senses cannot track him. He was able to dodge Jeremiah's gunfire and disappear in front of him instantaneously. He was able to dodge point blank gunfire.
- Master hand-to-hand combatant/Martial artist: It would appear that Ra's al Ghul is a skilled combatant having fought as part of the Kurdish Saracen Army. He easily killed the Sisters of the League, who are trained in 90 forms of combat. He was able to defeat Barbara, Alfred, and Bruce at the same time swiftly and without much effort. In addition, Selina Kyle did not believe that the combination of her, Tabitha, Barbara, and the Sisters of the League would be enough to defeat Ra's, claiming he had studied kung fu for 2000 years, even accurately believing that Barbara would die at the hands of Ra's if Bruce were to not interrupt their second duel.
- Master Swordsman: Ra’s was a highly skilled swordsman. He was able to slaughter the Sisters of the League and almost killed Lelia. He was able to kill a Sister of the League with a sword throw.
- Master Knife wielder: Ra’s was a very proficient knife wielder. He was able to use the Kurdish dagger against Barbra, but she was able to dodge his attacks due to possessing the Demon's Head.
- Skilled manipulator: Ra's was able to manipulate Bruce into killing him by threatening those closest to him.
- Diplomatic Immunity: Bruce stated that Ra's has diplomatic immunity.
- Lazarus Pits: Ra's al Ghul has access to the Lazarus Pits which can resurrect him and anyone else from the dead with all of their ailments, mutilations and other wounds healed.
- Vast Resources: As a leader of an international secretive organization, he has access to a vast set of resources, finances and manpower global wide.
- Swords: Ra’s has used different swords. He gave a brainwashed Bruce a Chinese straight sword to kill Alfred with. He used a Sabre from his private collection to kill the Sisters of the League with and even threw it at a member, killing her instantly.
- Knife: Ra’s used a knife to kill Alex Winthrop.
- Kurdish Dagger: When he was resurrected via the Lazarus Pit the first time 2000 years ago, his saviour gave him a Kurdish dagger.
- Kurdish Dagger: Ra's can be killed by the dagger only if his "true heir" was the one who wields it. Bruce Wayne proved himself to be Ra's "true heir" when he killed him the first time at Arkham. Barbara Kean arrogantly believed herself to be Ra's heir and hence being able to kill him using the dagger only to be proven wrong during her failed assassination attempt.
- Ra's al Ghul (translated from Arabic as the Head of the Demon) is an enemy of Batman in the comics, who was created by Julius Schwartz, Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams, and made his first appearance in Batman #232 (June 1971). He is the leader of the League of Assassins (also called League of Shadows in specific media appearances) where he is the son of Sensei and the father of Talia al Ghul, Nyssa Raatko, and Dusan al Ghul.
- The second live-action version of Ra's al Ghul to appear on television and the third live-action version overall, with the first being in the 2005 live-action movie Batman Begins played by Liam Neeson and the second being in the series Arrow played by Matt Nable. Interestingly enough, Alexander Siddig is the first time an Arab actor portrays the character.
- Ra's al Ghul is the main catalyst for the events of the whole show since he is the true leader of the Court of Owls who ordered the deaths of Thomas and Martha Wayne (although this didn't come from Ra's), which resulted in Penguin snitching on Fish Mooney. Carmine Falcone then ordered Jim Gordon to kill Penguin, but instead spared him, and Penguin returned to Gotham and eventually became a kingpin, thus setting in motion for the rest of the series' events. Ra's also orchestrated most of the other events, since he funded Hugo Strange's experiments that led to the creation of the Monsters (including Fish Mooney, Azrael, Firefly, Mr. Freeze, 514A, and Jerome Valeska).
- Due to the flashback shown in the episode A Dark Knight: They Who Hide Behind Masks and the frequent mentions of Ra's Al Ghul as being over or around 2000 years old in other episodes, it appears that the timeline of the show would be either set around the late 21st century or the early 22nd century within the show's universe.