Born Olmie, Maryland and raised in Montpelier, Vermont, Miller became a professional comic artist and worked for a number of major publishers including Gold Key, DC Comics and Marvel Comics. He gained attention from a two issue story for Marvel's Spectacular Spider-Man. He was soon made the regular penciller on Daredevil and quickly took on the writing chores on the title as well. In collaboration with inker Klaus Janson, Miller attracted a growing number of fans, critical acclaim and the respect of industry peers. During this run on Daredevil, Miller created the female ninja assassin character Elektra, one of the characters with which he is strongly associated. Since then, his take on the character has remained the dominant one extending to the 2003 film adaptation which uses many elements of Miller's stories.
Miller is also known for producing his own idiosyncratic works rather than stories for company-owned characters. Ronin, a science-fiction samurai action story was his first of many collaborations with Lynn Varley. Miller has alternated between handling (and redefining) well-known company icons such as Batman and Daredevil and creating his own works such as Give Me Liberty with Dave Gibbons and Hard Boiled with Geoff Darrow. Sin City is his first completely solo venture, a series of stark black-and-white crime stories published by Dark Horse Comics.
Miller's most well-known work, both inside and outside of the comic book industry, is The Dark Knight Returns, a dark tale of Batman set in the near future. It depicted Batman as a violent, somewhat unhinged vigilante, poles apart from the camp clown of the Sixties TV show. Miller's interperatation of the character remains the dominant one, informing Tim Burton's 1989 film version, and graphic novels such as Alan Moore's The Killing Joke and Grant Morrison's Arkham Asylum.
Miller has also written a number of screenplays, most notably those for Robocop 2 and 3.