Throughout their time as a publisher, DC Comics has brought audiences some of the best romances. With the likes of Lois and Clark, Barry and Iris and recently Bruce and Selina, the complicated nature of romantic relationships with superheroes has captivated audiences for years. However, there have definitely been some darker and weaker relationships between characters.
While it definitely makes for some interesting drama, it can also lead to a few missteps in character, or even some darker turns. Likewise, for every character in a positive, stable relationship, it seems there are five more in bad, awkward, or even downright toxic relationships. To look back at some of DC’s failed romances, here is our list of the 10 most toxic relationships in DC History.
10 Wally West and Donna Troy
After returning from the dead as part of the DC Rebirth storyline, Wally West, the original Kid flash, found himself without his wife and family. Thanks to the changes Dr. Manhattan had made to DC continuity, Wally's entire family and history had been erased. Furthermore, Donna Troy, the original Wonder Girl, was under a lot of duress following an identity crisis of her own.
Due to their situations, the two found comfort in each other for a very brief time. However, it definitely put a strain on their relationship as teammates and interfered with the progress the two could get done. Roy Harper, also having a crush on Donna, let his emotions effect his thoughts and actions in battle. Though they were short lived, a lot of negative came out of Wally and Donna's relationship, making for one of the weaker romances DC has put out.
9 Swamp Thing and Abby Arcane
The relationship between Dr. Alec Holland and Abigail Arcane is generally looked at in a positive way. However, considering some of the gritty details, it is easy to see how they are one of the more toxic relationships in DC Comics, and not just due to Alec’s abilities as Swamp Thing. Firstly, Swamp Thing barely resembles a man. While it is touching that he was still able to find love, it definitely puts a strain on the relationship between the two.
Secondly, due to Alec’s abilities, he is constantly abandoning Abby for whatever situation requires his attention. For a time, Alec was even gone for most of his child’s life. Because of this Tefe, his daughter, was easily manipulated into going against her father in battle. While Alec and Abby’s relationship is typically able to triumph over every turmoil, it has certainly had its downswings thanks to Alec’s incredible power.
8 Victor and Nora Fries
Victor and Nora Fries have a very touching and admirable devotion to each other. After meeting in college, the young, geeky Victor finally found someone as intelligent as she was beautiful. However, in Victor’s case, his love and devotion may have been too strong. When Nora was diagnosed with a disease without a cure, Victor froze her against her will, vowing to devote all of his time into creating the cure himself.
This very devotion led to the accident that created Mr. Freeze and put Victor under similar conditions as his wife. His actions, while done in pursuit of a cure for Nora, were also criminal, landing him in and out of arkham Asylum on occasion. Though it may have started off great, the relationship between Victor and Nora is so toxic that there’s really only one person involved.
7 Robin and Wonder Girl
During Geoff John’s run on Teen Titans, Tim Drake was Robin and Cassie Sandsmark was Wonder Girl. At the start of the run, Cassie actually had a great relationship with Superboy, who was also Tim’s best friend. Therefore, things got incredibly awkward when Tim and Cassie began developing feelings for each other.
Even though Superboy was presumed dead thanks to the events of Infinite Crisis, things were still incredibly awkward for Tim and Cassie, especially at first. Despite their feelings for one another, neither wanted to pursue them due to their relationship to Superboy. Furthermore, once Superboy made a return, things were once again shaken up for the two. Considering how tense their relationship was from the beginning, it is easy to see how strained the couple would be, despite their mutual attraction.
6 Batman and Talia al Ghul
Even though Batman has had some pretty rough relationships over the years, none are as toxic as his relationship with Talia al Ghul. For starters, Talia is the daughter of criminal mastermind, Ra's al Ghul, who is also one of Batman’s deadliest adversaries. As a result, Talia is always bouncing back and forth between her love for Batman and her devotion to her father.
If that wasn’t complicated enough, Talia would later steal Batman’s DNA and have a son with him. Talia would then raise the child for ten years before finally telling Batman about him. From there, the child (Damian Wayne) would be locked in a constant back and forth between his mother and father in terms of both custody and ideology. For all the things to happen in Batman’s life, his relationship with Talia is one of the more troublesome and longest challenges he has had to overcome.
5 John Constantine and Zatanna Zatara
While love may feel like magic for some, those who are magically gifted seem to have a different approach. John Constantine and Zatanna Zatara have been on and off lovers since they were teenagers. John’s natural charm and silver tongue make him almost irresistible to anyone. Likewise, Zatanna’s incredible looks and magical talents would catch the eye of just about any potential suitor. While it’s no surprise that the two initially got together in the first place, it is surprising that they keep getting together.
Constantine has shown on several occasions just how ruthless and heartless he can be when the need arises, something Zatanna has always struggled with as a lighter character. Furthermore, Constantine has shown non hesitation to sacrifice others in order to save his own skin. While he’s never betrayed Zatanna to that degree before, he has done things at her expense on several occasions and has a dark side that is too much for her, and just about anyone else, to handle.
4 Nightwing and Tarantula
In one of the darker chapters of Nightwing’s life, he began a brief romance with Tarantula. For those unfamiliar, Tarantula is a supervillain who, for a short while, tried to become a hero under the guidance of Nightwing. Her methods were always far more brutal and her behavior was very erratic. Due to this, her relationship with Nightwing was always under constant strain, though they never really got too serious.
However, their relationship took a strange and highly controversial turn after she murdered an adversary that the two were facing. Because of this, Nightwing was essentially left paralyzed by a panic attack. From there, Tarantula raped him, leading to one of the darkest moments in Nightwing history as well as one of the most controversial moments in DC history.
3 Starfire and Arsenal
During the New 52, Roy Harper and Koriand’r became a couple thanks to their time with Red Hood as Outlaws. Unfortunately, Roy’s addictive personality and Kori’s ignorance to things on Earth did put a heavy strain on their relationship. Though the two always sought the best for one another, they definitely felt like an odd pairing. Furthermore, Roy’s time as an addict didn’t exactly help his relationship.
Once Starfire left the team, Arsenal and Red Hood would remain teammates and go on their own separate adventures. While Arsenal and Starfire were certainly a nice thought, the two of them together was basically guaranteed to fail from the start.
2 Green Lantern and Star Sapphire
Hal Jordan has certainly gotten a lot of experience with the ladies over the years. However, no one has held the Emerald Knight’s heart the same way that Carol Ferris has. Despite the attraction the two have shared over the years though, Their relationship has definitely been pushed to its limits. Once Carol started becoming possessed by the alien entity that turned her into Star Sapphire, she became one of Green Lantern’s deadliest adversaries.
While it wasn’t Carol herself committing all of these horrendous acts, Hal still had to go against her on numerous occasions. The constant danger that Carol is in between her relationship with Hal as well as the alien targeting her makes any sort of romance between them incredibly difficult. Though the two are definitely right for each other, their complex history and involvement in the universe makes it all the more difficult to have a romantic relationship.
1 Joker and Harley Quinn
Of course, the most toxic relationship in all of DC Comics is going to be between the Joker and Harley Quinn. The two were basically doomed from the start as they literally met in Arkham Asylum. Furthermore, being the girlfriend of the Joker, one of Batman’s deadliest and most vile villains, is not going to be an easy feat.
Over the years, Harley suffered immense physical and mental trauma at the hands of her beloved “Mr. J.” Joker would also abandon Harley whenever he saw fit and rarely ever noticed if she were gone. However, it is eventually revealed that the Joker truly does care for Harley to some degree, despite his twisted way of showing it. Thankfully though, harley has grown into a very compelling character of her own, even without the influence of the Joker.