It has been many, many years since the last time that a superhero has died where the world honestly reacted with shock. This is because superhero death has become so common that it has practically become a joke within the comics themselves, with one X-character once noting that "Mutant Heaven must have a revolving door."
RELATED: 15 Times Spider-Man Died
Some characters, though, take this to the extreme. In this list, we'll look at the superheroes who have died the most times, though we're not counting Nick Fury as a superhero or heroes whose power is dying, like Resurrection Man and Mister Immortal. We're also not counting "What If...?" stories, or alternate futures (like "Days of Future Past"), but will count altered realities (like "House of M") and mass deaths like in "Infinity Gauntlet" (just not generic "The Earth is destroyed and everyone died but now it's back to the way it was before everyone died!" mass deaths). We know that there are a lot of cases that are open to interpretation, so we look forward to your thoughts in the comments section!
15 PROFESSOR X (4 TIMES)
There have been a few other characters with at least four deaths, but we only have room for 15 superheroes, so the two heroes with four deaths that made the list both have arguments to be made that they should be counted as having five deaths, giving them the edge over the other heroes (like Kyle Rayner, who just missed the list). Professor X had one of the more famous deaths of the Silver Age when he was killed in "X-Men" #42 in an attempt to move the X-Men beyond their time as just students. We then learned that he had faked his death.
Professor X was then taken over by a Brood Queen. His body died, but luckily Shi'ar technology cloned him a new body. Later, during the crossover "Legion Quest," Xavier's son, Legion, went back in time to kill Magneto, but the young Xavier sacrificed himself to save his friend, which caused Age of Apocalypse. Bishop later went back in time and fixed it. Oddly enough, it would be Bishop who later "almost" killed Professor X by accidentally shooting him in the head in an attempt to capture baby Hope. That was the iffy death for the list. The fourth and (so far) final death happened in "Avengers vs. X-Men" with a Phoenix-possessed Cyclops killed his mentor.
14 WONDER WOMAN (4 TIMES)
Wonder Woman had a tricky "death" in "Crisis on Infinite Earths" when she was turned back into clay. It's debatable whether that actually counts as part of Wonder Woman's continuity, though, so we didn't count it. Feel free to give her five if you'd like to count it, though. During "War of the Gods," though, Circe definitely did turn Wonder Woman into clay. Luckily, she was later revived.
Neron killed Wonder Woman during John Byrne's run on "Wonder Woman," but she was later reborn as the Goddess of Truth. During the "Justice League" one-shot, "League of One," Wonder Woman's death was prophecized and she does end up dying in the comic, but only briefly, and then Superman brought her back to life. Wonder Woman died alongside the rest of the then-current Justice League during the storyline "The Obsidian Age," but luckily it was due to magic, so she and her teammates were all brought back to life.
13 WALLY WEST (5 TIMES)
When it comes to Wally West, you almost have to deliver his mail to the Speed Force, since he spent so much time there. There was a period there in the 1990s when it seemed like every other storyline involved Wally seemingly sacrificing himself to the Speed Force. The first one happened during "Zero Hour," which did lead to the awesome "Flash" #0 (which suggested that Wally caused the lightning that gave himself his powers). In "Terminal Velocity," Wally ended up pushing himself too far in order to save the life of his girlfriend, Linda Park, and he entered the Speed Force. Luckily, her love brought him back.
In "Chain Lightning," Wally once again saved the day by seemingly merging with the Speed Force. That also seemed to be the case in "Infinite Crisis," where Wally, along with Linda (now his wife) and their two children, entered the Force to temporarily defeat Superboy Prime. They were brought back during the "Lightning Saga" crossover of the Justice League, Justice Society and Legion of Super-Heroes. Plus, Wally died in the aforementioned "Obsidian Age" storyline.
12 ROGUE (5 TIMES)
Rogue had only been a member of the X-Men for a very short time when she was brought to Battleworld with the rest of the X-Men for the crossover event, "Secret Wars." Rogue almost died twice in that event, but luckily Wasp took it easy on the X-Men (seriously, Wasp knocks the entire team out and lets them know that she could have killed them all if she felt like it, but instead just used half-powered stings). She died in "Secret Wars" #11 along with the rest of the heroes, but came back in the final issue.
When the sorcerer Kulan Gath transformed New York City into barbarian times through magic, Rogue was one of the heroes who died in battle. Luckily, Doctor Strange reversed everything in the end. Along with her teammates, Rogue sacrificed herself to defeat the Adversary in "The Fall of the Mutants." Roma brought them all back to life afterwards. In "Uncanny X-Men" #247, Rogue sacrificed herself to stop the Master Mold Sentinel, but it turned out that she survived and went through the Siege Perilous, splitting off the Carol Danvers side of her personality. Finally, Rogue and Scarlet Witch killed each other during an "Uncanny Avengers" storyline, but time travel brought them both back to life.
11 IRON MAN (5 TIMES)
Iron Man died in three of the major events that you are going to see a few times on this list. In the finale of the "Korvac Saga," the Avengers tried to take out the cosmically powered Michael Korvac. Many of the Avengers (and the visiting Guardians of the Galaxy) died in the battle. Iron Man was one of the few heroes who survived, only to die against Korvac's cosmic-powered girlfriend, Carina. As Korvac died, though, he brought everyone back. In "West Coast Avengers Annual" #2, the West Coast Avengers (including Iron Man) had to sacrifice themselves to save their East Coast teammates in the world of Death. Iron Man was one of the heroes who died in an attack on Thanos in "Infinity Gauntlet" #4.
More specific to Iron Man is the time that Tony Stark faked his death for a few months while James Rhodes took over as Iron Man. When Tony revealed that he was actually alive, Rhodes got pissed off and became War Machine. During "The Crossing," Tony Stark turned out to have been controlled by Kang for years. Tony ended up sacrificing himself in the end to save his friends. He was then replaced by a younger teen version of himself, who also died during "Onslaught," but we won't count that as a sixth death (you can, if you'd like, though).
10 SUPERMAN (5 TIMES)
Superman famously died in an imaginary story in the early 1960s, but we're only counting "in continuity" tales. One of them occurred when Superman ran afoul of the "Murder Man," an alien by the name of Zunial. He killed Superman with a Kryptonite Ray. Luckily, an android gave up its "life" to bring Superman back to life. A few years later, Doctor Light hypnotized Clark Kent into murdering Superman (not knowing that Clark was Superman) and Clark found a magic wand that he used to kill himself. Batman quickly used the wand to revive Superman.
In a "Justice League of America" story a few years after that, Superman was killed by Count Crystal, and the League had to go into a world of dead souls (led by Phantom Stranger) to bring Superman back. Obviously, in 1992, the famous "Death of Superman" event took place. Once Superman came back from his death at the hands of Doomsday, he also died in the aforementioned "Obsidian Age" story. The "New 52" version of Superman died recently, but it's unclear if that counts as the same character, so we'll temporarily leave it off.
9 BATMAN (6 TIMES)
Batman's story begins with the classic tale where Batman became a member of the "Death Cheaters" by having his heart stopped and then had Robin revive him after he was declared legally dead. A similar thing happened years later when Batman's heart was stopped by the Electrocutioner. Robin revived him then, as well. In a bizarre "Brave and the Bold" storyline, Batman was declared brain dead, but then the Atom shrunk down and manipulated Batman's neurons until he woke up.
In the excellent graphic novel "Birth of the Demon," Batman and Ra's Al Ghul both died, but they were both revived courtesy of the Lazarus Pit. In the "Emperor Joker" storyline, where the Joker gained the powers of Mister Mxyzptlk (home of one of the Joker's most twisted murders ever), the Joker would torture Batman to death every day and then revive him the next day (Superman had to take on Batman's memories as the experience just broke Batman). Batman, like his Justice League teammates, died and was revived in the Obsidian Age storyline. Most recently, Batman seemingly died at the eyes of Darkseid in "Final Crisis," but Darkseid actually just zapped him back in time.
8 WONDER MAN (6 TIMES)
Wonder Man is the only character on this list who died in his very first appearance! When Wonder Man debuted in "Avengers" #9, he was secretly a villain working for the Masters of Evil because they were the only things keeping him alive. He ended up turning on the Masters in the end, sacrificing himself to save his new friends. He was revived a decade later. He now had a severe fear of death, but that did not stop him from attacking Korvac in the "Korvac Saga," which ended with him dying alongside his teammates. Wonder Man's fear of death was an issue again when he begrudgingly agreed to kill himself along with his teammates to save their fellow Avengers from Death in "West Coast Avengers Annual" #2.
After his solo series ended, which suggested that Wonder Man actually couldn't die, he showed up in "Force Works" #1 where he promptly, well, died. Scarlet Witch brought him back in the Kurt Busiek/George Perez relaunch of the "Avengers," but he seemingly died again at the end of that story. However, Scarlet Witch then brought him back permanently a few issues later. Sadly, he was then killed again in the pages of "Uncanny Avengers," when Rogue fully absorbed him entirely. She later let go of his "soul," while keeping his powers. Still, it's hard to keep a guy made out of energy down for good.
7 THOR (6 TIMES)
Thor is a bit of an odd duck, since his very history involves the concept of him dying and coming back to life as part of Ragnarok. That was something that he was shocked to discover in "Thor" #293: that he had died already before being revived for his current lifetime. That led to a story where Thor died alongside Brunnhilde and was revived by the Odinforce. As one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Universe, Thor was actually one of the few Avengers to survive the "Korvac Saga." However, he did die in both "Secret Wars" and the "West Coast Avengers Annual" storylines.
A version of Thor died in battle against Thanos in "Infinity Gauntlet," but that wasn't the real Thor, so we won't count it. The real Thor, though, died in battle against Onslaught (before Franklin Richards brought all of the heroes back to life). Thor also died again in another Ragnarok around the time of "Avengers: Disassembled." He was gone for a few years even! His next death was much more brief, though, as he fell against the Serpent in "Fear Itself," only to be brought back a few months later.
6 WASP (7 TIMES)
The Wasp was one of the Avengers who fell in battle against Korvac during the "Korvac Saga." "Secret Wars" was particularly rough on the Wasp, as she was killed by a laser blast and then later by Doctor Doom (she was brought back both times). Wasp was among the Avengers who died in "West Coast Avengers Annual" #2.
During "Infinity Gauntlet," Wasp was one of the heroes who died right away when Thanos killed half of the universe. She is shown on the list of dead heroes. During "Onslaught," Wasp sacrificed herself alongside her teammates. She got her own death in "Secret Invasion" #8, when the Skrull version of Hank Pym revealed that he had turned Wasp into, in effect, a giant bomb. Thor used his hammer to send Wasp into outer space before she exploded. As it turned out, though, she was instead just blasted into the Microverse, where her teammates saved her a few years later.
5 HAWKEYE (7 TIMES)
Hawkeye was one of the heroes who fell in battle against Michael Korvac in the "Korvac Saga." He later died alongside his friends in "Secret Wars" and then was one of the ones who pushed the hardest for the West Coast Avengers to all kill themselves to rescue their East Coast counterparts, who had been trapped in the realm of Death in "West Coast Avengers Annual" #2. Captain America had to watch Hawkeye die in front of his eyes in "Infinity Gauntlet "#1, as Hawkeye was one of the people who died when Thanos killed half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. Hawkeye was one of the heroes who sacrificed themselves during "Onslaught."
Hawkeye's most notable death occurred in "Avengers Disassembled," when his teammate (and friend) Scarlet Witch snapped and sent a whole pile of enemies against the Avengers, including an invasion of the Skrull and Kree armies. Hawkeye's arrow pack caught on fire and Hawkeye, knowing he was going to die in any moment, decided to sacrifice himself to blow up the Kree ship. When Scarlet Witch altered the world in "House of M," she brought Hawkeye back to life. He tried to kill her and she once again killed him, but as the story ended, she brought him back to life once more.
4 WOLVERINE (7 TIMES)
Wolverine died along with his fellow X-Men during "Secret Wars," when Doctor Doom wiped out all of the superheroes (they got better). In a classic "X-Men Annual" #11, Wolverine and the X-Men were forced to capture a powerful crystal. One by one, the X-Men fell, until it was just Wolverine left. The villain who forced them to steal the crystal then tore Wolverine's heart out, but a drop of Wolverine's blood hit the crystal, thereby "winning" the crystal for Wolverine and he was given control of the universe temporarily. Wolverine later sacrificed himself along with his teammates to stop the Adversary in "The Fall of the Mutants," but Roma brought them all back to life.
Wolverine fell at the hand of Thanos in "Infinity Gauntlet" #4. Later, Wolverine seemingly died after being killed by Apocalypse's newest horseman, Death. As it turned out, though, the Wolverine who died was a Skrull and Death was actually a brainwashed Wolverine! Towards the end of Grant Morrison's "New X-Men" run, Wolverine and Jean Grey burned to death in the sun, but that just kick-started Jean to become the Phoenix and resurrect them both. In "Age of Ultron," Wolverine went back in time and killed Hank Pym so that Pym could never create Ultron. When that made everything worse, even, Wolverine went back in time again and killed his earlier self. Finally, in the 2014 miniseries "Death of Wolverine," Wolverine died after being encased in adamantium following the loss of his healing powers.
3 SPIDER-MAN (8 TIMES)
Spider-Man was one of the heroes who was killed by Doctor Doom in "Secret Wars." Later, he was killed by Kulan Gath when the sorcerer took over New York City. In "Infinity Gauntlet," Spider-Man was one of the heroes who died fighting Thanos in "Infinity Gauntlet" #4. In a later tie-in to the event, Spider-Man died again, only to be brought back at the end of the story.
Twice during the Clone Saga, Spider-Man "died." First, he was poisoned by the Owl and flat-lined, but Doctor Octopus saved him. Later, at the end of the long Clone Saga, it appeared that Peter was dying from being a "clone" and he flat-lined again, but then was revived and his spider-powers (which had gone away) were returned!
During "The Other," Spider-Man was seemingly killed by Morlun, but instead he went into a cocoon and came back with new powers. That was bizarrely similar to a storyline where the villainous Queen kissed Spider-Man, which caused him to metamorphose into a giant spider and then die, but the giant spider instead turned out to be a cocoon, of sorts, for Spider-Man, who now had new powers (organic webbing). Finally, after Doctor Octopus switched bodies with Spider-Man, Spider-Man appeared to die in Doctor Octopus' body, but later kicked Octopus out and returned as Spider-Man.
2 CAPTAIN AMERICA (11 TIMES)
Captain America is a funny one for this list, since his first death happened in a flashback in his first Silver Age appearance! His return in "Avengers" #4 first established that he had been killed during World War II (but in reality, he had just been stuck in suspended animation). In "Captain America" #111, Cap's death was faked once more, as he wanted to regain his Steve Rogers secret identity (he later faked his death again in a Punisher crossover miniseries).
Captain America was killed in both the "Korvac Saga," "Secret Wars," "West Coast Avengers Annual" #2, "Infinity Gauntlet" and "Onslaught." He also seemingly died when the Super Soldier Serum in his body gave out at the end of Mark Gruenwald's run on "Captain America." However, the Red Skull revived him because he needed Cap's help stopping Hitler (who had taken control of a Cosmic Cube). Cap then seemingly died fighting terrorists at the end of his late 1990s series. He was then famously killed at the end of "Civil War" in "Captain America" #25.
1 JEAN GREY (LOTS)
Jean Grey is funny. She has the reputation of being the character who dies the most, but up until 2004, she had really only died twice - once in the famous "Dark Phoenix Saga," where she sacrificed herself to avoid becoming the evil Dark Phoenix again (this was later revealed to be the Phoenix Force itself, which had taken the place of the real Jean Grey) and then for a brief moment at the start of Jim Lee and Whilce Portacio's Post-Chris Claremont run in "Uncanny X-Men" #281. But starting in 2004, she was killed by Wolverine in the climactic arc of Grant Morrison's "New X-Men," which just kickstarted the Phoenix Force within her, so she brought herself back to life. She was then killed an issue later by Magneto.
This is when things got crazy. She was resurrected by the Phoenix Force in "X-Men: Phoenix - Endsong" after the Sh'iar brought the Phoenix Force back in an attempt to destroy it once and forever. Instead, it defeated them and headed to Earth to rejoin with Jean. Knowing that force was too powerful for her to control, Jean asked Wolverine to kill her, so that when she was revived by the Phoenix Force, it would be weakened (as it took energy to bring her back to life). He then killed her dozens of times, with the Force bringing her back to life each time, until finally the Force was weak enough that Jean was able to take control. In the end, she rejoined the "White Hot Room," where she is destined to remain until returning 150 years from now. Well, we'll see about that, now won't we?
Is there a character that you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments section!