10 DC Comics Villains That Died Sooner Than Fans Expected


The HBO Max animated series Harley Quinn spares no one, including iconic villains like The Penguin. Harley killed him in season one and that shocking trend stems from DC Comics. Fans of animation and movies based on the comics may be surprised at how quickly some major villains died, including major ones in the DCEU.

Villains typically die at the end of superhero movies, allowing new ones to emerge in sequels. That rarely happens in comics, which generate much more content and rely much more on popular characters. Fans never expected some villains’ deaths in DC Comics, but their demise provides a potential blueprint for their fates in the movies and other media.


10/10 General Zod

General Zod first appeared in Adventure Comics #283 back in 1961 and survived throughout the Silver Age. After Crisis On Infinite Earths, a monumental DC Comics crossover event in the 1980s, Zod was rebooted along with the rest of Superman’s mythology. He died relatively soon after his new debut and in a shocking fashion.

Superman discovered Zod and his cohorts Quex-Ul and Zaora in a pocket universe. These variants threatened to escape into the new singular DC Universe, forcing Superman to kill them in what remains a surprising action from the Man of Steel.

9/10 Killer Frost

Killer Frost ranks among the most powerful Arrowverse villains, but fans from the TV shows would be surprised at her comic book history. The villain debuted in Firestorm #3 in 1978. Despite serving as the inverse of Firestorm, she died quickly after, in issue #21, after she used her cold-based powers to drain energy from Firestar.

Another woman, Louise Lincoln, quickly took up the mantle. She continued for some time until Caitlin Snow assumed the role in 2011 during The New 52 era. The Arrowverse adapted this version for live-action.

8/10 Cyborg Superman

One difference between Batman and Superman’s respective success in other media may lie in their villains. Batman’s villains rarely die in the comics while Superman’s often do. Another prime example includes Cyborg Superman, who premiered in The Adventures of Superman #500 during The Reign of Supermen storyline. He died in Superman #82 just a few months later.

Cyborg Superman provided a powerful antithesis to Superman and a potential villain that combined strength and intelligence like Doctor Doom. Though he’s returned many times since, Cyborg Superman died much sooner than expected.

7/10 Reverse-Flash

Reverse-Flash ranks among the most powerful Flash villains in DC Comics, but he died relatively quickly. He also serves as a dark inversion of The Flash, a villain most comic books strive for, but The Flash killed Eobard Thawne in Flash #324 in the early 1980s, ending a run that began in the Silver Age with issue #139.

The character returned in the revised continuity established after Crisis On Infinite Earths, and different iterations continue to play a significant role in modern storylines, including Flashpoint.

6/10 Imperiex

Imperiex provided Superman with a powerful cosmic villain when he debuted in Superman #153 in 2000. A being of pure cosmic energy, he could create universes with a punch. Despite his power and potential, he died unexpectedly soon thereafter in Our Worlds At War, a major Superman comic book story arc.

Superman kills Imperiex in Action Comics #782 in 2001 by flying into the sun and gaining more power than ever before. Different Imperiex variants later appeared in alternate universe comic storylines, like Injustice.

5/10 Maxwell Lord

Maxwell Lord came to prominence for most casual fans in Wonder Woman 1984 and Pedro Pascal’s performance left some fans wanting more. They’d be surprised to learn that this villain, a key staple in Suicide Squad and Justice League comic lore, died not long after his debut.

Lord made his debut in Justice League #1 in 1987 following Crisis On Infinite Earths. His manipulative ways and clandestine efforts suggested a promising future for the villain, but he died following a cancer diagnosis in the 1990s. This death got retconned with other DC continuity in Infinite Crisis, an early 2000s crossover event.

4/10 Evil Hal Jordan

Hal Jordan numbered among the best DC Comics superheroes until tragedy transformed him in the 1990s. Green Lantern transformed into Parallax, killing the entire Green Lantern Corps and threatening reality. Though Jordan’s fall shocked readers, his quick death did also, seemingly dying forever not long after his turn.

This provided the reboot DC sought for Green Lantern but also robbed Kyle Rayner of a potentially great villain. Perhaps DC recognized this by bringing Parallax back in short order for Zero Hour and ultimately redeeming the character.

3/10 Crime Syndicate Of America

With the multiverse likely playing a big part in the DCEU’s future, the Crime Syndicate Of America likely appears in some form. Their comic book history may inform their screen future. This evil version of the Justice League first appeared in Justice League of America #29 from 1964. Though they lasted into the 1980s, they died unexpectedly.

The entire Crime Syndicate Of America died in Crisis On Infinite Earths #1 in 1985, wiped out by the Anti-Monitor’s destructive wave. This set the stakes for the rest of the multiverse in a major way.

2/10 Doomsday

DC Comics introduced Doomsday in 1993 as the ultimate Superman villain. The unstoppable and seemingly all-powerful villain killed the Man of Steel in Superman #75, but died in the process. His quick death once again closed the door on a potential legacy villain for Superman’s rogues’ gallery.

Doomsday later returned, even more powerful, but his greatest moment came in his first storyline, one that became emblematic of the early 1990s comic book speculator boom.

1/10 Terra

Terra debuted in New Teen Titans #26 in 1982, joining the team and becoming a beloved member in short order. By 1984, she betrayed the team and died. Her shocking betrayal, spying on the Titans for Deathstroke the Terminator, led to an even more shocking death when she caused an earthquake that buried her.

Terra arguably offered an opportunity for an ongoing villain for the team, something that is reflected in her recurring appearances in other media, especially the various Titans animated series.

NEXT: 10 Best Antiheroes In DC Comics


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