- I think it's clear from what's happened over the past few days that the world needs the Doom Patrol... needs us more than ever. Don't you see? There are areas in which only we are qualified to operate. When the rational world breaks down, we can cope... because we've been there, in ourselves. We have known madness... and delirium... and we are no longer afraid. The world has turned its back on us, but it's time to stop being victims, time to show them we're more than just freaks or cripples. Believe me, they need us. And we need each other. Don't let the Doom Patrol die again.
- — The Chief src
Caulder growing up had developed an interest in creating better life, based on the concept of the story Frankenstein (in which a fanatical scientist demonstrates a similar idea through the being he creates), as well as The Singing Ringing Tree (in which "well-to-do" people, who were transformed into beasts, have to prove their worth to the world by becoming selfless). Proving at a young age to be both a brilliant inventor and engineer, Caulder received funding from a mysterious benefactor. Thanks to the funding, Caulder succeeded in creating a chemical capable of prolonging life. Ultimately, it was revealed that the benefactor was a man called General Immortus, who hired Caulder to create a chemical to replace the one that had been prolonging his life for centuries, but was now failing. When the young scientist discovered the truth about his employer, he refused to continue the work. Immortus responded by implanting an explosive device in Caulder's upper torso, which he could set off remotely, and any attempt to remove it while Niles lived would also detonate it. Caulder's solution was to provoke Immortus into firing a bullet into Caulder's chest. This allowed a robot of Caulder's invention to remove the device while his heart was stopped, but the operation took longer than anticipated and cost him his ability to walk. The incident inspired and reminded Caulder that a better life may come from surviving a tragic event, such as his own. This led to Caulder engineering the "accidents" that cause the original Doom Patrol members to gain their powers, since his personal philosophy is that true greatness comes through overcoming tragic events.
In the early years of the Patrol, Caulder kept his true identity and appearance secret from the public, and even to his team he was only known as the Chief. In their third battle against General Immortus, Immortus forced him to tell the rest of the Patrol his back-story and real name.
In recent years it has been revealed that Caulder had also experimented on other individuals in the world who would both benefit and destroy humanity. The most noted are a bitter group called the Brotherhood of Evil, a group of people who also live like freaks, led by the Brain. The Brotherhood exists as an elitist paramilitary organization involved in terrorist acts around the world such as the destruction of the American city Blüdhaven, occasionally attempting global control of humanity, and which has plans for the death and destruction of Niles Caulder for causing their tragic transformations.
Later Caulder is discovered working on a nanotechnology bomb that will destroy half the world and replace it with humans transformed into freaks of nature, his theory being that from the destruction would rise a better human race. He murders the original Tempest, Joshua Clay, to protect his secret, but the Doom Patrol succeed in stopping his plans.
During these events, he is decapitated by a creation of Dorothy Spinner's known as The Candlemaker. Doctor Will Magnus of the Metal Men builds a new body for the Chief, telling him that he should try helping the Patrol to make up for what he did. Becoming suicidal with guilt, the Chief states that he can never do enough to make up for his actions, and uses his new body to rip off his head. Magnus is able to save the Chief by getting the head to a cryogenic chamber, but after this the Chief exists solely as a severed head in a bucket of ice, subsisting on milkshakes. He expresses remorse at his actions and rebuilds the Doom Patrol to continue their efforts in the war against weird crime.
Finally the Chief had combined himself with Alice Wired-for-Sound, one of the SRS (Sexually Remaindered Spirits), who powered the Doom Patrol Teleporter, as a means for more mobility. The Chief died entering the Tree of Life, the Sephiroth.
Post Infinite Crisis
After Superboy-Prime's pounding on the barriers to reality, Niles gained his body back and still acted as the team leader. It was then revealed that he was apparently still responsible for the creation of the original members of the Patrol, though they claim to have forgiven him.
Caulder now seems to be intent on expanding the Doom Patrol's ranks; he has already convinced Beast Boy to return to the team and formally join it for the first time, and gotten Bumblebee and Vox to join. However, Robin doubts the Chief's motives, and after seeing him appear to manipulate Elasti-Girl, Robin accuses him of brainwashing the Doom Patrol by keeping them dependent on him. For his part, Caulder maintains that by joining the Doom Patrol, team members "won't have to be freaks anymore." Later, when Caulder is overheard telling Kid Devil that his teammates do not like him and he should join the Doom Patrol, the others finally see that he is controlling them with fear and self-loathing. While Caulder tells them that they need him, Mento finally takes off his helmet, allowing him to think clearly. Mento then informs the Chief that he is no longer their leader and if he speaks to Elasti-Girl or Beast Boy like that ever again, he will destroy Caulder's intellect. Shocked by this, the Chief rushes off to his lab.
It is also revealed that Caulder brutally murdered the scientist who would become "The Brain" because they were both working on General Immortus' potion and Caulder was jealous of the Brain's genius and tried to blow up the other scientist's lab in order to force him to become Robotman. Brain also reveals that he and the Doom Patrol are not the only innocent humans whose bodies are mutilated against their will by Caulder to create his own personal super-hero team. Two, who were never before mentioned, (Electric Blu and the Human Cannon) and a Negative Girl are said to be out there somewhere, having rejected Caulder for the damage he inflicted upon them.
Recently, Caulder designed a new training room for the Justice League. He also appears to be back in charge of the Doom Patrol.
- Genius Level Intellect: A polymath, gifted in surgery, biochemistry, robotics, and engineering.
- Robotic Engineering: Caulder created RA-2, a robot surgical assistant, and Rog, a robot to be used in Moon exploration, as well as building Robotman's body.
- Electrical Engineering
- Caulder transplanted Cliff Steele's living brain into his new Robotman body.
- Caulder once pre-programmed a robot to surgically remove a bomb from within Caulder's own chest.
- Resurrection: Caulder devised a ray that could bring a recently-dead person back to life.
- Wheelchair: Having suffered a crippling injury at the hands of General Immortus, Niles Caulder uses a wheelchair for mobility.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- For a period of time, Niles Caulder existed as nothing more than a disembodied head.
- Doom Patrol Recommended Reading
- "The Incredible Origin of the Chief"
- 216 Appearances of Niles Caulder (New Earth)
- 28 Images featuring Niles Caulder (New Earth)
- 13 Quotations by or about Niles Caulder (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Niles Caulder (New Earth)
Doom Patrol member