If there's one thing you could say about a comic book character, it's that they are hard to kill. Some superheroes and villains are just way too popular/powerful to ever fully take out of circulation, which is why killing them off is rarely done... well, permanently at least. Consider the time they whacked Superman. That didn't last very long and there's a reason for it. But what about those characters who technically can't be killed?
There are some characters who simply cannot die. Whether they are non-corporeal, abstract creatures/concepts or just gods; there doesn't seem to be a way to put them down. After some serious in-house arguments, we have come up with the following 15 villains who cannot die.
Kang began his life in the 31st century as an incredibly intelligent, but bullied teenager who was a distant descendant of Reed Richards. Using his brilliant mind, he restored a time machine and began his life as a time-traveler who used his knowledge of history and advanced technology to dominate as various personas. He ruled in Egypt as Rama-Tut and battled a young En Saba Nur before eventually escaping to the time-stream where his personalities began to split. One such personality became the Scarlet Centurion who ruled Earth in an alternate 20th century. He came into conflict most often with the Fantastic Four and the Avengers, both of whom he despised.
Kang started out as a mortal man, but through his adventures in time and space, he has shown an ability to age at a slower rate, which doesn't make him immortal but does lead to the aspect of his powers that make him a candidate for this list. Kang has the ability to transfer his consciousness to another body. This makes him functionally immortal since the destruction of his body doesn't result in his actual death. This, coupled with his existence in multiple realities and at theoretically infinite points in the Marvel timestream, makes him pretty much unkillable.
14 MARVEL COSMIC ZOMBIES
"Marvel Zombies" #1 - 5, written by Robert Kirkman and penciled by Sean Philips, was a fun alternative to Marvel's usual characters when it hit the newsstands in 2006. Marvel indulged our love of zombies alongside our love for every character in the Marvel Universe and it was very successful. So, why put zombies on this list if they're dead? Since they are technically "undead," they still get a mention, but we aren't even talking about the zombies in general; this entry is all about the Cosmic Zombies...
When Galactus finds Earth inhabited by the undead in "Marvel Zombies" #5, he thinks it an easy target and prepared to consume the planet. The zombies aren't having any of that, but they don't just attack him, they eat him! There was no need for an Ultimate Nullifier when eating the mighty Galactus became an option. Consuming him gave the zombies the Power Cosmic on the scale of Galactus himself and they went on to essentially do what Galactus did: eat all life in the universe in only five years. Being undead and having the powers of Galactus to boot makes for an entity that cannot be killed in any way we could imagine.
If you read our list of heroes who can't be killed, you probably know where we are going with the mention of Despotellis. During the "Sinestro Corps Wars" storyline in the Green Lantern crossover event that kicked off in 2007, a whole mess of Yellow Rings and Lanterns made their way to enemies of the Green Lantern Corps, and Despotellis was one of them. He first appeared in "Green Lantern" #18, written by Geoff Johns and penciled by Ivan Reis, where he was introduced as a synthetic, sentient virus. Within one day, he broke containment and killed the entire planet's population.
The reason Despotellis can't be killed has everything to do with what he is. As a virus, he defies all standard definitions of life and is instead a creature on the outside of life. Though he is sentient and capable of great evil, viruses simply aren't living beings and therefore, cannot be killed. When he was defeated by Leezle Pon, the GLC's own Smallpox virus with a power ring, he was imprisoned on OA and hasn't been heard from since. It's likely Despotellis will remain a villain of the DC Universe for all time.
12 VANDAL SAVAGE
When it comes to evil bastards who can't be killed, Savage definitely makes the cut. Savage got his start way back during the Neolithic age as the leader of a tribe of Cro-Magnons called the Blood Tribe. When he encountered a meteorite and bathed in its radiation, he was forever changed to a genius-level intellect and an immortal... you know, that old chestnut. Unfortunately for the human race, he didn't spend the next 40,000+ years passing sage-like advice; instead, he embraced evil and went on to counsel the likes of Adolph Hitler and Joseph Stalin -- he even spent some time killing prostitutes in London as Jack the Ripper. So, yeah. Not a nice guy.
Though Savage has been "killed" in several story-lines, he never actually dies. He has wasted away to nothing as his immortality takes its toll but still manages to survive by consuming the DNA from a member of his bloodline, which is extensive. As long as he is able to continue this practice, there simply isn't a way to finally kill him and he will go on terrorizing the DC Universe until at least the 853rd century, but that may never come to pass.
Ranx is another member of the Sinestro Corps we can point to as being unkillable, even though it was ultimately destroyed in the battle to save Mogo during the war... or was he? Ranx defies the standard definition of life because it is a sentient city as old as time. It held a deep resentment for the Green Lantern Corps and was prophesied to take part in the Corps' destruction. During the battle between the Sinestro Corps and the Green Lanterns, Ranx was seemingly destroyed by Sodam Yat in "Green Lantern Corps" #16, written by Dave Gibbons and penciled by Angel Unzueta.
Then again, the same thing happened to Mogo, and he's alive and well. Sentient places just have a tendency to come back, especially Ranx, which can increase and decrease its scope, and will probably resurface in the future. Ranx has found a place on this list in the same manner as Despotellis; though the city Ranx was sentient, it was never truly alive and could; therefore, not be killed, at least in the traditional sense. We know it's a technicality, but if you can describe a way to kill an actual city (and not just the people in it), please do so in the comments.
10 CYBORG SUPERMAN
In the Pre-New 52 universe, Hank Henshaw didn't start out as a Superman-clone/cyborg of pure evil; he was a regular guy who was desperate to save his wife after a freak accident mutated them and their friends on a return trip from space. Eventually, Henshaw's body died from radiation sickness, but his mind was somehow turned into pure energy and inhabited the machinery he was working on before his death. He was then able to create a robotic body for his consciousness and attempted to meet with his wife, but ended up traumatizing her instead. Distraught, Henshaw found Superman's birthing matrix and reformed his body using the Man of Steel's DNA, thus taking on the extraordinary powers of a Kryptonian.
Because Henshaw has become a being of energy, he can never be killed or destroyed. This hearkens back to something we all learned in school: energy can neither be created or destroyed. As such, Henshaw can move his mind through space and time without ever being granted the sweet release of death... but he can inhabit a really cool Cyborg Superman body and kick some serious butt!
Akhenaten was a Pharaoh of Egypt who was taken by an alien craft into space for thousands of years. When he returned, his power levels were so off-the-chart, they were akin to Thanos wielding the Infinity Gauntlet times about a million. That's a technical measurement by the way. Originally, he was given power by the Celestial Order to help recruit others into the group, but instead went on a rampage, intent on killing all of the gods and heroes of Earth. Once empowered by the Celestial Order, there was no way to stop him and he was definitively unkillable.
The only way he was able to be stopped was for Thanos to travel back in time and prevent the Celestial Order from ever bestowing power on Akhenaten in the first place. Without the power he was given, he grew old and died, but would have completely destroyed everything in the Marvel Universe had he been left to receive his powers. If that happened, Marvel wouldn't have anything left to publish so it's no wonder this was a short reign. Before you blow up the comments, remember that we are talking about the empowered Akhenaten and not what he ultimately became.
Trigon is a demon born of pure evil -- literally. His father, if you could call it that, was the cast-off evil energy of an entire race of people that transited space until it coalesced into a single, physical being... which then impregnated a woman in another universe. After the usual nine months, Trigon was born and he didn't play nicely with the other kids. He became a galactic conqueror and took over his entire dimension -- basically all of reality. In order to explore alternate dimensions, he needed to sire offspring and began to do so, but all were killed in infancy when their demonic nature was uncovered.
Determined to succeed, he eventually sired an Earth daughter named Raven, who would go on to join the Teen Titans. Though Trigon never succeeds in destroying everything, everywhere as is his nature, there is no way to finally stop him. He attempted to merge his universe with our own but ultimately failed to do so. Even if his body is somehow destroyed, he will come back having the ability to regenerate his form even if there is nothing left. There is no way to kill him. DC sure does like going for the overpowered types.
Abraxas is the antithesis of the cosmic entity Eternity whose only reason for existing is to destroy all of the multiverse. He is directly tied to the purpose of Galactus, whose consumption of life kept Abraxas in check for Eons. When Galactus is killed in "Galactus: The Devourer," written by Louise Jones Simonson and penciled by John Buscema, Abraxas is released and begins his path of ultimate destruction. Abraxas' powers are limitless and, being a cosmic being, his existence is tied to... well existence. He cannot be killed in any way, given that he is interwoven into the fabric of reality itself.
It was this fact that ultimately helped to stop Abraxas from destroying everything. Remember the Ultimate Nullifier from "Fantastic Four" #48 - 50 as being the only thing that could threaten Galactus from destroying the Earth? Well, it turns out that the same weapon is needed to stop Abraxas, as the only way to do so is to completely destroy reality and reform it. Reed Richards succeeds in doing this, stopping Abraxas by undoing his existence in the new reality.
Eclipso is far from a typical villain in the DC Universe. He was originally the embodiment of the Wrath of God who, while acting as the Spirit of Vengeance (prior to Spectre who replaced him), caused the Great Flood. You know, from the Book of Genesis? He wouldn't be on this list if he remained one of the good guys and he certainly didn't. He turned against God's will and was cast out of Heaven and into a black diamond called the Heart of Darkness. For some reason, instead of just locking him in the diamond and being done with it, contact with the stone while experiencing great anger allows Eclipso to possess the victim's body and essentially be allowed to terrorize the universe.
You might think that destroying the diamond would either release Eclipso or even destroy him entirely, but that's not the case. The diamond has been split into 1,000 pieces and even liquefied, but no matter its form, it will still allow Eclipso to take control of a person who makes contact with it while angry. Eclipso is a divine entity and as his recent throwdown in "Justice League vs. Suicide Squad" showed, there is no way to end his or the diamond's existence in any way.
Within the Marvel Universe, Mephisto is, for all intents and purposes, the Devil. He is a demonic Hell-Lord who rules over his own Hell-like dimension and enjoys stealing people's souls by tricking them. So, basically, yeah... he's the Devil. While Mephisto is within his dimension, which he calls Hell, he is immortal and impossible to destroy. It is only when he ventures into other realms that he can be defeated, but doing so simply returns him to his own dimension. He has been a major player in the Marvel Universe since his creation in "The Silver Surfer" #3, written by Stan Lee and penciled by John Buscema. He was directly responsible for the creation of Ghost Rider, who has been a mainstay in Marvel Comics since the 1970s.
He even erased the history of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage via a deal made in the "One Fine Day" storyline, which served to return Spider-Man's identity back to anonymity while simultaneously saving Aunt May's life. His machinations upon the lives of Marvel's heroes and villains continues to serve as a plot device and, given that he is literally the lord of Hell, he probably isn't going anywhere anytime soon.
The Beyonder first came to the attention of the heroes and villains of the Marvel Universe when he zapped them from Earth and transported them without warning to Battleworld in "Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars" #1, written by Jim Shooter and penciled by Mike Zeck. While not technically a malevolent being, Beyonder sought to better understand humanity, so he captured the most powerful representatives of the species and made them fight to the death. Of course, nobody took this well and some shenanigans later, everyone was returned to Earth. In this regard, we can call Beyonder a villain and plop him down on this list even if his intent was not evil -- to him, we are a barely noticeable curiosity.
Beyonder is unfathomably powerful. He is not from our multiverse, but discovered it when the Molecule Man gained his powers. He was destroyed by Molecule Man in "Secret Wars II" #9, written by Jim Shooter and penciled by Al Milgrom, but was merely returned to his own dimension in the form of a Big Bang, much like what is speculated to have happened to those of his race in 2015's "Secret Wars" event by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic.
3 THE PHOENIX FORCE
Like the Beyonder, the Phoenix Force is not a villain, though it has been used malevolently in the past. As a cosmic entity representing all life in the omniverse, the Phoenix Force will exist as long as there is, was, or will be life. If Phoenix Force were to be destroyed, all life would follow, as well as the ability for life to have begun in the first place. You know what that gets you, right? An unkillable entity.
One of the Phoenix's favorite pastimes is to inhabit the body of Jean Grey. This always causes problems with the X-Men but none so much as during the "Dark Phoenix Saga." It was at this time the entity was a villain and using Jean's incredible psychic power, which it amplified to god-like levels. So empowered (and enraged) she destroyed an entire solar system and attacked her fellow X-Men. Jean ended up committing suicide to stop her newly powerful self. This went down in "X-Men" #137, written by Chris Claremont and penciled by John Byrne. When the Phoenix regained its memories of the evil it had done, it brought Jean back to life to atone, because you just can't keep a good Marvel Girl down.
Dormammu is somewhat like a few others on this list in that he is the ruler of his own dimension. Dormammu rules the Dark Dimension and spends his time taking over other realities as he finds them. This has brought him into conflict with the current Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange and if you saw the recent film, you know how powerful Dormammu is. While he is not technically a demon, he has been portrayed as a demonic allegory in several stories over the years and even attempted to take control of Hell at one point in "Hellcat" #1 - 3, written by Steve Englehart and penciled by Norm Breyfogle.
Of course, he wouldn't be on this list if he could slip on a banana peel and break his neck. He is essentially immortal and capable of wielding godly power over magic, the dead, souls and pretty much anything else you can think of. When he is in our reality, he can be thwarted and returned to his own, but within the Dark Dimension, he reigns supreme and cannot be killed.
Nekron takes the top slot on this list because of all the evil bastards we have written about so far, he is truly the worst. Within the DC Universe, Nekron is the embodiment of death and darkness. He can kill or reanimate the dead at will and recently did so in the crossover event "Blackest Night," when he created the Black Lantern Corps, throwing the entire DC Universe into chaos and disarray. He derives his power from the souls who pass through his realm, which borders Hell, Purgatory and Limbo. This essentially means that he gets more powerful as more people die.
Nekron's only goal is to gain passage to the mortal universe and restore order by eliminating the emotional spectrum... oh, and all life. In contrast to the multitude of Lantern Corps that sprung up in the crossover, Nekron represents the antithesis to the White Light Entity, which is what created all of existence in the first place. As its opposite, the two cannot coexist and Nekron's plans are ultimately thwarted. He is returned to his death dimension, where he maintains supremacy; still, being a manifestation of death itself, Nekron cannot be killed in or outside his home dimension.
Have we forgotten any unkillable villains? Let us know in the comments!