The behavior of retaining wall during an earthquake is a topic of major concern nowadays due to its grave consequences. IS 1893 adopts the force-based pseudo-static method for the design of retaining walls under seismic condition, which incorporates the additional seismic force into the static Coulomb’s theory. The lateral earth pressures derived from the M–O method are only true in its range of assumptions. In this paper, a numerical study based on the displacement-based approach is conducted for analyzing the seismic response of gravity retaining wall using the finite difference software FLAC-2D. A nonlinear time-history analysis of gravity retaining wall is conducted with actual earthquake data including the recent earthquakes in India. The validation of the numerical model is done by comparing the results with the already published literature. The results are presented in graphs and can be adopted for further studies. © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2021.