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Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in DC Comics

VO: Adrian Sousa WRITTEN BY: Thomas O'Connor
Written by Thomas O'Connor Even knowing most of ‘em would be back, these deaths still hurt. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in DC Comics. For this list, we’re looking at times our beloved DC comics characters met a messy, untimely or tragic end. We’re discounting what we’ve decided to call “Death by Origin Story”, meaning characters who died as a part of the origin story of well-known heroes. Let’s face it, Thomas and Martha Wayne and Uncle Ben were created just to die, so we can hardly call their deaths “heartbreaking.”
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Even knowing most of ‘em would be back, these deaths still hurt. Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in DC Comics.

For this list, we’re looking at times our beloved DC comics characters met a messy, untimely or tragic end. We’re discounting what we’ve decided to call “Death by Origin Story”, meaning characters who died as a part of the origin story of well-known heroes. Let’s face it, Thomas and Martha Wayne were created just to die, so we can hardly call their deaths “heartbreaking.”

#10: Jonathan Kent


During the Golden and Silver ages of comics, Superman’s father didn’t live to see his adoptive son reach adulthood, but that changed in the 80s, with the Kents alive and well back in Smallville for much of Clarke’s career as Superman. However, in 2008’s “Action Comics” 870, writer Geoff Johns wrote the definitive “Death of Pa Kent” story: Pa manages to save Martha from an incoming missile shot by Brainiac, but this heroic act would be his last, as he suffers a heart attack and dies in the arms of his wife and adopted son. It’s powerful, tragic, and fitting for the man who raised Clark to be a hero.

#9: Stephanie Brown


Being the sidekick to Gotham’s dark protector isn’t exactly a safe gig, and the proof is on this list. Originally appearing as the crimefighter Spoiler, this character briefly became the fourth Robin. But her time as the Girl Wonder was short-lived, as she was captured and killed during a massive gang-war that threatened to envelop Gotham city. Her death never sat right with fans, who felt that her demise was overly cruel and grisly. The fact that Batman’s longtime ally Doctor Leslie Thompkins admitted to letting her die as a way to discourage future teens from taking up the Robin mantle didn’t help much either.

#8: The Question


This trench-coated vigilante spent years uncovering corruption and graft in Hub City, using a special mask to conceal his identity. He may have been the most flashy or glamorous crimefighter, but he fought the good fight for many years before meeting his end. While training his friend and protege Renee Montoya, his previous years as a smoker caught up with him and he developed terminal lung cancer. Despite Renee’s attempts to get him to the mystical city of Nanda Parbat in the hopes of finding a cure, the tireless truth-seeker perished on the snowy mountains, leaving his protege to take up his crusade and mantle.

#7: Sue Dibny


Being the spouse of a superhero isn’t easy, but the Elongated Man’s significant other was one tough cookie, often tagging along on her hubby’s crime-solving escapades to lend a hand. This made her a regular site among Justice League meetings, and she was well-liked by all her husband’s peers. This made it especially tragic when the character befell a gruesome fate at the hands of Jean Loring, the deranged ex-wife of the superhero known as The Atom. Her husband would later follow her into the grave after an encounter with the demon Neron and the wizard Felix Faust. But the two happily reunited in the afterlife as crime-solving ghosts, so it’s not all bad!

#6: Batman


Not even the Caped Crusader can escape the cold clutches of death, but you’ll be glad to know that the hero met his demise in appropriately epic fashion. Following his defeat by the New Gods, the villain Darkseid fell to Earth, causing a tear in space and time with the DC big bad at its center. Of course, this threw the DC Universe into chaos, and the Dark Knight sacrificed everything to save the day. Confronting Darkseid with the handgun previously used to kill the New God Metron, Bats attempted to finish Darkseid once and for all, falling to Darkseid’s Omega Beams in the process. Naturally, he came back because hey, it’s Batman.

#5: Superman


Without a doubt the most infamous superhero death of them all, this now-legendary story made headlines when the Man of Steel fell in battle against the villain Doomsday. When the seemingly unstoppable brute came to Earth and went on a rampage of destruction through Metropolis, virtually every DC hero tried and failed to stop it. Only the Last Son of Krypton could defeat the creature once and for all in an epic battle that cost both hero and villain their lives. Even after his subsequent resurrection, this remains one of the defining moments of the character’s career as a superhero and a pop culture icon.

#4: Supergirl


Nearly a decade before her cousin from Krypton perished, the Girl of Steel met a similar end during the Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline. The story saw the many Earths that made up the DC multiverse violently colliding thanks to the all-powerful villain known as the Anti-Monitor. Naturally, Superman was on-hand to try and put a stop to this. Attempting to save her cousin from the godlike villain, Kara launched herself at the Anti-Monitor and nearly destroyed him, but a last-minute turnaround by the ancient being killed her. Following her death, Kara was basically erased from the DC timeline and remained in superhero limbo for nearly 20 years.

#3: Blue Beetle


He may not have been the smartest or the most physically capable crimefighter in the DCU, but this blue-clad superhero’s friendly demeanor and comedic chops made him a favorite among his teammates and comic book fans. Which made it sting all the more when he was brutally shot in the head by his former associate Maxwell Lord following Lord’s turn to the dark side. When the former Justice League International member discovered Lord’s intentions to murder all of Earth’s superhumans using a network of satellite-controlled robots, the hero intervened. Sadly for all of us, Lord shot and killed his former ally. A truly tragic death for a terrific character.

#2: Jason Todd


The second of the many characters to hold the mantle of Robin, this Gotham-born teenager’s fate was voted on by fans - spoiler alert: they voted in favor of his untimely death! The final vote total was 5,343 to 5,271, narrowly in favor of killing Robin, After being cornered by The Joker in a warehouse, the Boy Wonder received a brutal beating before being blown to smithereens by explosives. In the end, his death became a hugely important moment in the Batman mythos, even if he returned years later.

#1: Barry Allen


The Crisis on Infinite Earths was a landmark storyline that forever changed the face of the DC Universe, folding the many alternate realities into a new universe and setting the status quo for decades to come. It’s a series packed to the brim with epic moments that engraved themselves into the DC mythos, and the death of the Scarlet Speedster is one of them. Racing to stop the Anti-Monitor’s anti-matter cannon from destroying reality as we know it, the founding Justice League member sacrificed himself to save all life in the multiverse in an act of heroic self-sacrifice that put him in the ground for over 20 years.
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