List of Dead Comic Book Characters

Below is a partial list of fictional characters who have died in American comic books, specifically in the superhero genre, and, so far, have not returned.

Characters frequently die in comic books, but are also frequently resurrected. A death that is reversed is called a comic book death. Writer Peter David splits the blame for this phenomenon among creators, publishers and fans. Creators and publishers kill characters to increase drama and sales and to meet the demands of readers who call for evil or unpopular characters be killed. However, if a popular character is killed, fans often ask for his or her resurrection and publishers find such returns can lead to more boosts in sales. Another reason creators resurrect characters is that they want to use them in new storylines. This cycle creates a vicious circle: after witnessing several improbable returns, fans begin to doubt that any characters are permanently dead, and death begins to lose its dramatic impact.

Although many dead comic book characters are resurrected, some are not. Usually, characters associated with a major character's origin story (e.g. Spider-Man's Uncle Ben or Batman's mother and father), or those whose deaths significantly alter the development of a major character (e.g. Gwen Stacy or Karen Page), remain dead. Additionally, although many stories continue to be written about them, certain period characters are typically regarded as deceased (at least from natural causes if nothing else) for purposes of contemporary status, even if their final fates are not depicted in a story (e.g. Rawhide Kid and other characters active in the 19th century Wild West). Sometimes a character remains dead simply because a successor has assumed an updated version of his or her costumed identity, making a return by the first generation character absurd (e.g. Baron Zemo or Foolkiller). Some deceased characters have fallen out of relevance to modern audiences, which effectively prohibits their return (e.g. certain characters from the Golden and Silver Age of Comic Books. Characters who no longer fit current standards of political correctness also often fall into this category. ). Death is also a convienent method of closure for characters who can no longer be used due to licensing restrictions, copyright, or other issues of ownership. Lastly, from time to time, superheroes or other comics characters, judged by their creators to have served their dramatic purposes, remain dead because their stories are considered over.

As there are no "rules" to fiction, all characters carry the possibility of being resurrected at any time. The following list of characters are present exceptions to the standard conventions of comic book deaths. Currently, they remain deceased.

The latter part of this article also includes characters who were once "dead" and then returned. While persons listed may or may not have actually died in their respective comic books, they were presented by the storytellers as deceased for a period long enough for the reversal to be meaningful (usually not within the same story arc). For example, Green Goblin supposedly "died" in July 1973 and was revealed to have never perished in December 1996. Thus, although continuity states he was never dead, for 23 years in real time, Norman Osborn had been deceased. By contrast, many comic book stories involve cliffhangers in which a character appears dead for a short time but is revealed to be alive or resurrected without enough time for the death to be meaningful. An example would be Batwoman, who died in Batman & Robin #8 (2010) but was revived only one issue later.

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