The Man of Steel has triumphed time and time again over universe-threatening foes, so to some, the idea of him being able to die seems absurd. Despite this, Superman has managed to convince people that he's reached his impending doom on many occasions, each time with seemingly different motives.
It might be absurd for Superman to ever actually have to resort to deceiving people, but trust me, you'd probably have done the same thing in his shoes once you've seen this list. Even veteran DC Comics fans will be shocked, so let's begin.
10 Superman Became A Ghost
Well, sorta. In Action Comics #595, Silver Banshee, as some fans may know, has the ability to instantly kill with her voice. She used this ability on Superman, and he fell to the ground. He stopped his heartbeat so that people would think that he was dead, and then a funeral was held for him.
Superman then seemed to have risen from his coffin as a vengeful spirit, seeking to defeat Banshee again. After he prevailed, it was revealed that the ghost was actually Martian Manhunter shape-shifting into Superman and pretending to be him. Superman realized that Banshee's ability doesn't work on someone who she thinks is dead, and Superman narrowly survived it the first time. Add "deception" to the list of skills in Superman's arsenal.
9 Superman Taught Feelings To A Robot
This one happened during the Silver Age, so it's a bit convoluted. In Action Comics #502, a race of advanced aliens called Dyrlians sent a synthetic child with enhanced development to Earth so that Superman and his cousin Kara could quickly raise him to become the savior of his homeworld.
The Galactic Golem ended up attacking Superman's Fortress of Solitude, seemingly killing him, and then Parasite showed up and absorbed the Galactic Golem from existence. Kara came to the conclusion that Superman's essence was absorbed by Parasite and began to cry. Superman showed up shortly after to reveal that the whole thing was an illusion. This made the young boy angry for making Kara cry, and Superman announced that making him mad was his goal because he was trying to teach the boy emotions.
8 Superman Cheated Time Itself
Action Comics #387 is one of those comics during the early Silver Age where Superman has to travel through time for a mission, but this one has a twist. The people of Earth were conducting an experiment that would be ruined if Superman flew through the time barrier, so he instead had to use a Time Bubble owned by the Legion of Super-Heroes.
Superman accidentally faked his death by being sent thousands of centuries into the future until he aged a million years. Everyone believed that Superman had died, and Superman couldn't go back because the Time Trapper made a wall between Superman and the past. While he was there, Lex Luthor still existed as a robot, and he tried assassinating Superman. Superman was barely saved by a robot, and then he tried killing himself by flying into a comet, but it instead sent him to the end of time. He lived his life again from the beginning, and then eventually made it back to the point where he entered the Time Bubble. Funny how he actually didn't trick Lex Luthor.
7 Superman Tricked Lex Luthor A Different Time
Superman actually faked his death the first time he faced the Galactic Golem in Superman #248. Lex Luthor created the Galactic Golem out of primal matter near the center of the galaxy, and because he gains his power from all celestial bodies in the cosmos instead of just Earth's Sun, Lex Luthor felt that he'd be more than a match for Superman.
The Galactic Golem approached Superman while he was playing golf and started attacking him. The battle quickly escalated in intensity, and Superman seemingly attacked the Galactic Golem in the forehead, causing an explosion. When the blast cleared, Lex Luthor saw that not only had Superman been pulverized, but also everyone on Earth! With everyone else gone, the Galactic Golem came for Lex Luthor. As he was nearing his end, Superman showed up to save him, explaining to him that everyone on Earth (including Superman) was actually sent to another dimensional plane by Superman's vibrations.
6 Superman Became Multiple Ghosts
Yes, multiple this time. In Superman #186, Superman was visited by a gang member who told Superman that a medium had conjured the ghost of Captain Kidd and wanted Superman to retrieve his fortune. Superman found the gold, donated it to charity, and gave the man a percentage of the treasure. Superman eavesdropped the next time the medium conjured a ghost and couldn't find out how he was doing it. He tested him by asking to speak to his father, Jor-El, who told Superman that if he went on to do his nuclear experiment, the Fortress of Solitude would turn into Kryptonite and explode, killing him.
Days later, Lana Lang and Lois Lane went to the medium to ask to see Clark Kent, and a ghost of him and Superman both were conjured, revealing to them all that the two were one and the same and that Supergirl was also killed by the blast. The news got out fast that Superman was dead, and many gang members that were in cahoots with the medium began a crime spree. Superman then showed up to stop all of them, in the flesh, revealing to everyone his master plan. He figured out that the medium was using satellites to project images of ghosts and getting other people to speak through audio projectors for voices. Superman then faked his own death using projections to make the gang members go through with their planned crimes so that Superman could arrest them all. Preparation at it's finest.
5 The Assassination of Soviet Superman
To give a little background information on this one, the Elseworlds Red Son: Superman line of comics showcased a Superman that was rocketed to Soviet Russia during the Cold War instead of Kansas. There, he had joined the Soviet Union, basically carried the entire army on his shoulders, and led the human race by himself with no regard for human potential.
In this universe, Lex Luthor was revered as a great man and great scientist, being a good friend to Jimmy Olsen (who was a CIA member in this universe) and a husband to Lois Lane. He and Jimmy viewed Superman as being the biggest hindrance to human advancements, so he sent him away on a rocket after Brainiac weakened him with Kryptonite, the rocket eventually detonating. Lex Luthor went on to live for several more millennia, creating the perfect global economy and solving virtually all problems in the world. Superman was shown later to be appreciative of what Luthor did for the world, even making an appearance at his funeral.
4 The Power of Grayskull VS The Man of Tomorrow
The Prince of Eternia is another hero who's been around for a long time, basically being the Superman of Eternia, his homeworld. In DC Universe vs. The Masters of the Universe #2, Superman faced off against He-Man after being possessed by the Eternian menace, Skeletor.
As the battle ran its course, the Man of Steel seemed powerless before He-Man, the Eternian prince gaining such an edge that he seemingly killed him with a stab of his Sword of Power. It's revealed a bit later in the comic that the Superman defeated by He-Man was actually just a magical clone made by Skeletor.
3 Superman Broke His Code of Honor
Batman is known well to have a code of honor to never kill anyone, no matter what, and while it's not a quality that's usually attributed to Superman, he held strongly to it in Action Comics #583. Superheroes and supervillains from the 30th Century came to tell Superman that he was predestined to fall to his greatest foe. After the deaths of many allies and villains, either trying to kill or protect Superman, none were left besides Lois Lane, Superman, and Mister Mxyzpltk.
He told Superman that being mischievous was becoming boring, so he took on his true form and tried to kill Superman. In a last-ditch effort, the Man of Steel retrieved a Phantom Zone Projector and banished Mxy to the Phantom Zone. As Mxy was being sent there, he said his name backward to send himself to his homeworld of Zrrrf in the Fifth Dimension, which ended up tearing Mxy in two, killing him. Superman felt bad after killing Mxy, being a strong believer that no one has the right to end the life of another. Superman entered a room in the Fortress of Solitude made of Gold Kryptonite, permanently losing his powers. For decades, the people of the world believed Superman died in the Arctic cold, but he actually lived his days out married to Lois Lane as a mortal man named Jonathan Elliot.
2 The Rebirth of Superman
In 2011, DC Comics decided again to reboot everything and start fresh with a new line of comics after the Flashpoint featured in their New 52 series. At the end of their 2011 Superman line, the new Superman had sacrificed himself to save the world by absorbing all the Kryptonite radiation from the explosion of Denny Swan, a man who thought he was the real Superman.
The reason this was rated so dramatically was because it wasn't until Action Comics #976 that they revealed that this Superman had only become energy until he merged with the Superman that replaced him from the Bronze Age. It thus actually tricked comic fans for many months.
1 The Death of Everything...
Where Is Thy Sting is a one-issue story written by the legendary comic writer J. M. DeMatteis, and, better than any story does, it really reminds us that Superman can never really die.
The antagonist of this story was none other than the embodiment of Superman's own death, and it was adamantly trying to kill him. It tried aging Superman and pushing him into the future repeatedly. Then it eventually killed all things in creation, and all hope and memory were burned away in his effort to fell the Man of Steel. Its last resort was to create a black hole that crushed the universe, but Superman prevailed, pushing through the barriers of space and time. Why is this considered a fake death of Superman? Because the very concept of Superman dying was fake in this comic. That, and Superman had convinced himself several times in the comic that he was dead, effectively tricking himself.