Note: This is referring entirely to the animated early 2000s Teen Titans TV series.
The two characters I relate to in this show the most are Starfire and Raven. Starfire is very energetic, passionate and expressive, can be very affectionate, but doesn’t take negativity very well and won’t take anyone’s crap. She has trouble with social cues and interactions but is very loyal to her friends. While I can see myself in her a lot, I’m not quick to label Starfire as autistic or otherwise neurodivergent what with her being an alien (what could be neurodivergent to humans could be totally neurotypical to her people, plus the show plays her as being more of a foreigner rather than someone with a disorder). That said, I relate to Raven because the way I see it, Raven is almost certainly autistic.
For starters, she displays a lot of characteristics common in people with Asperger’s Syndrome (a term that is contested within the autistic community, but known by most people as a specific brand of autism). She loves to read and is very intelligent, she prefers to keep to herself, isn’t very talkative, doesn’t like it when people are too loud or are touching her, is often very blunt and up-front with people, and has a rather monotonous voice and limited facial expressions. There’s also a scene where she says “I’m not creepy, just different”. She can be sarcastic, and while some autistic people (like myself) have trouble with sarcasm, others do not, so there’s that.
But one thing that I think is a heavy indicator of her being autistic is the fact that she NEEDS to meditate and keep her emotions (and possibly her stimming) under control.
In the show, if Raven gets too emotional (especially too angry), she becomes a bit more…demonic.
Contrary to popular belief, autistic people can be VERY emotional and empathetic. In fact, it’s pretty common for autistic people to have meltdowns in very emotional situations. Lots of autistic people (myself included) can be prone to hyperempathy, where the suffering of people we don’t even personally know can get beneath our skin. And this can easily be seen as the case for Raven. For context, Raven is the daughter of an evil demon and is destined to free him from, well, Hell, so whenever she gets too upset or angry she runs the risk of losing to him. So she has to meditate and keep her emotions carefully regulated (and as the episode “Nevermore” shows us, her emotions are VERY powerful). This could also possibly be seen as a way to regulate her stims as well (since stimming can cause autistic people to become ecstatic in addition to relieved), but your mileage may vary there, as she might have other, more subtle ways of stimming as well.
Thankfully in season five she has her father banished for good, and we see her slowly start to let her more empathetic and emotional side shine. Unfortunately, the show ended before we could see her truly access the full range of them or find a new way to stim (to be fair, season five was very focused on a continuing plotline, and she only really had one episode for character development; most of the season was focused on Beast Boy and meeting new Titans). But from what we do see, it’s clear that Raven is moving on from the abuse and limits.
On a side note, a part of me feels like maybe Beast Boy is autistic. Beast Boy is very insecure, latching onto people, and exhibits pretty much every symptom of combined ADHD and autism is a very common comorbidity with it. And Beast Boy always always ALWAYS reaches out to Raven the most. There are times when they have very special bonding moments too. I think it’s possible that they’re on two opposite ends of the autism spectrum and have trouble properly communicating with each other, but when they CAN, it’s a great experience for both of them. I could be biased since I’m a sucker for their relationship, but it’s still nice to think of two neurodivergents bonding in any way.
Raven is one of my favourite characters of all time. To me, she is an example of a neurodivergent-coded character done right, and is truly empowering and relatable. Be sure to check out the show (if you can, pay for it) and see for yourself!