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Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in Marvel Comics

Credits: Adrian Sousa Justin Giglio
Written by Thomas O'Connor We’re not crying, we’ve just got something in our eyes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in Marvel Comics. For this tearjerker of a list, we’re looking at the times when characters from Marvel comics met with tragic and unfortunate deaths, and we’re still not over any of them, so it goes without saying, but here’s your spoiler warning. We’re adding a special exception for what we call “Death by Origin Story” - characters like Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben or The Punisher’s family, who were created to die from the start, so we can hardly call their passing “heartbreaking.” We’re also talking specifically about deaths from the comics, so no movie-specific deaths - sorry “Logan” fans. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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We’re not crying, we’ve just got something in our eyes. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Heartbreaking Deaths in Marvel Comics.

For this tearjerker of a list we’re looking at the times when characters from Marvel comics met with tragic and unfortunate deaths, and we’re still not over any of them, so it goes without saying, but here’s your spoiler warning. We’re adding a special exception for what we call “Death by Origin Story” - characters like Spider-Man’s Uncle Ben or The Punisher’s family, who were created to die from the start, so we can hardly call their passing “heartbreaking.” We’re also talking specifically about deaths from the comics, so no movie-specific deaths - sorry “Logan” fans.

#10: Wolverine


Not many comics characters spend as much time dodging the reaper as this one, but in 2014 Logan’s years of shrugging off certain death caught up with him. After a virus originating in the Microverse shut off Logan’s famous healing factor, he spent a short while still on active duty, but without his ability to bounce back from fatal injuries. Naturally, all of his old enemies come out of the woodwork, and a bounty is placed on his head. Logan’s search leads him to Doctor Abraham Cornelius, founder of the Weapon X program, and the battle ends with the previously immortal mutant fatally encased in adamantium, reflecting on the full life he lived.

#9: Betty Ross


It’s become a sadly tired trope that female characters associated with heroes have a tendency to get killed off to generate pathos, and The Hulk’s main squeeze sadly fell victim to this trend - though it doesn’t make this moment any less tragic. In an act of revenge for years of defeats, Hulk’s frequent enemy The Abomination secretly poisoned Betty, making it appear as though her years of association with the Jade Giant had caused her to contract Gamma Radiation poisoning. She eventually succumbed to the poison and perished in her beloved’s arms. When Hulk eventually learned the truth about what happened, the results weren’t particularly pretty. Though, like many comics characters, she later returned to the land of the living.

#8: The Wasp


For years this pint-sized hero was a stalwart member of the Avengers, having even been a founding member of the legendary team. But during the Secret Invasion storyline, her story came to a temporary end. When it was revealed that many Marvel characters, including her ex-husband Ant-Man, were secretly alien imposters, she and every other still-human hero sprang into action to halt the invasion. However, it was revealed during the battle that she had secretly been transformed by the invaders into a living bomb. In the end, it took Thor destroying her with a bolt of lightning to prevent a disaster that would have meant the end of the world.

#7: Captain America


The Marvel Civil War turned friend against friend and hero against hero as the push to register all superhumans with the government split the Marvel Universe in two. When the dust settled, Captain America had surrendered and ordered the anti-registration forces to stand down, fearing the collateral damage the ongoing war might cause. But this noble decision would result in tragedy when the courageous hero was shot down by a brainwashed Sharon Carter in an assassination orchestrated by The Red Skull. The Star-Spangled Avenger’s death sent shockwaves through the Marvel Universe, with friends and enemies alike mourning the passing of a true living legend.

#6: Karen Page


After years as Daredevil’s assistant and later lover, this beloved character fell on hard times, becoming addicted to heroin and selling out her then-ex lover’s identity. She later got back on the straight and narrow and even rekindled her relationship with hornhead. They did, however, break up again, during an intricate plot by Mysterio that involved a messianic baby. Tragedy struck again when she was trying to protect the baby but was killed by a billy club thrown by Bullseye, and died in the arms of her on-again, off-again lover.

#5: Spider-Man


Following the breakout success of the “Spider-Man” and “X-Men” films in the early 2000s, Marvel decided to launch a new line of comics meant to draw in new readers. The Ultimate Universe, or Earth 1710, presented younger, cooler versions of classic characters more in line with their cinematic counterparts. The Ultimate version of Peter Parker returned the character to his roots as a high-school student, and this iteration spent years fighting crime and doing whatever a spider can. But sadly, in his final battle with the Green Goblin, he succumbed to his injuries while protecting Aunt May and perished surrounded by his family and friends. He lived as a hero and died as one too.

#4: Jean Grey


The long-running loop of Jean dying and coming back to life has become a running gag at this point, but we still can’t help but feel all the feels when it comes to Marvel Girl’s selfless sacrifice in “Uncanny X-Men 137.” After Jean came to her senses following her time as the Dark Phoenix and becoming the host to the powerful Phoenix Force, she and the other X-Men were detained by the Shi’Ar, a race of aliens who feared her newfound power would lead to mass death and destruction. Jean ultimately sacrificed herself to prevent the Shi’Ar from destroying the entire solar system, bidding a tearful goodbye to her teammates and longtime romantic partner Cyclops.

#3: Elektra


It might be a good idea if people just stopped dating Daredevil. Another of the Man Without Fear’s lovers to get the ax, this college sweetheart turned deadly assassin always brought trouble when she blew into Matt’s life, and out of it. Her story seemingly came to an end when she was killed by the assassin Bullseye after he sliced her throat with a playing card before stabbing her with her own sai. Despite her injuries, she managed to make her way to Matt’s apartment to die in his arms. She was later resurrected by the hand, but that still doesn’t change the impact or tragedy of her brutal, untimely death.

#2: Captain Marvel (Mar-Vell)


This Kree superhero was one of the Marvel Universe’s best and brightest, a universally liked hero who fought alongside The Avengers and the rest of the Marvel Heroes numerous times. But after years of defending Earth, the cosmic hero died of cancer brought upon by exposure to a nerve gas. Rather than die in a heroic act of self-sacrifice, this beloved hero passed on in a hospital bed surrounded by his allies and enemies. Even his arch-nemesis Thanos showed up to pay respects to his fallen enemy, appearing as a vision to escort his old foe into the hereafter alongside the embodiment of Death herself.

#1: Gwen Stacy


Peter Parker’s life has been fraught with loss and hardship, with his career as Spider-Man beginning in the wake of his beloved Uncle Ben’s death. But if any tragedy is as important as his uncle’s, it’s the death of his longtime love interest. After being kidnapped by Spidey’s arch-foe the Green Goblin, Spidey’s squeeze was thrown from the George Washington bridge. The webhead managed to catch her with a web-line, but the sudden deceleration tragically broke her neck. Much like her father, Captain George Stacy, her relationship with Spider-Man ultimately sealed her fate. It’s one of the darkest chapters in Marvel history, and with good reason.
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