Heroic BSOD / Comic Books

Heroic B.S.O.D. - If this is your superpower, you're in trouble.

  • In Animal Man, Buddy Baker has a BSOD lasting at least several days when an assassin murders his wife and children. This subverts temporarily the normal tendency of Dark Age superheroes to immediately go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The storyline was a subversion of the Dark Age itself, and the constant string of murder and humiliation its heroes were forced by their writers to endure.
  • Batman:
    • Has one of these in the Elseworlds series The Nail (set in a world where Superman was not raised by the Kents) when he kills the Joker after being forced to witness the Joker's extremely sadistic double murder of Robin and Batgirl. He makes it back to the Batcave but is catatonic until Catwoman (who did a Heel–Face Turn to help him against the Joker) puts on the Robin costume and shocks him out of it.
    • Prior to Knightfall, Batman was heading down this path in something of a superhero midlife crisis: he failed to capture the Black Mask, he was butting heads with Commissioner Gordon's wife, he'd been beaten by a few one-shot villains he usually wouldn't and Superman had just recently died in battle. He'd hit it full time with Bane breaking everyone out of Arkham Asylum with the hero staggering out and screaming to the heavens in anguish.
    • His son Bruce Wayne Jr. has one in Superman & Batman: Generations when he sees his wife Kara Kent (Supergirl) with her heart torn out of her chest.
    • He has a much more grievous one in Infinite Crisis as the Society assaults every hero worldwide, and realizes that to make it worse, his rogue creation Brother Eye has dispatched an army to annihilate the Amazons, starting with Wonder Woman.
  • Deadpool In the Secret Empire tie-ins, Deadpool started working for Hydra Steve Rogers, not knowing he was bad. He killed S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Phil Coulson on Cap's orders, who could have prevented the Hydra takeover. When one of Wade's closest friends -agent Emily Preston finds out, she beats Wade mercilessly and reveals she's thought up a way to kill him over the years because he's too easily manipulated, given his weak mind. As Wade lies bleeding on the ground, he concludes he made a mistake trying to be good because people only want him for Dirty Business, foreshadowing his upcoming Face–Heel Turn. After he founds out Cap is the bad guy, he does what he can to hinder Hydra, including not turning in the big heroes of the resistance, whose hideout he found. Word of God says Deadpool will pull strings and fix some things, but still get 100% blame for his mistakes and no credit for the good he did. This will prompt Wade to give up trying to be a hero because his effort has only gotten him "tears."
  • Black Adam had one of these upon discovering the death of Isis, his wife at the time. This lead to the Roaring Rampage of Revenge that is known as World War III.
  • Catwoman has a rather bad one after her sister is forced to watch her husband tortured into insanity by the Black Mask. Holly has a similar one at the same time after killing Selina's friend.
  • Meriem experiences one in Cavewoman: Primal when she believes Bruce is dead. She charges into the jungle in a dinosaur-slaying frenzy, seemingly trying to get herself killed.
  • The title character has one of these in Cerebus the Aardvark after witnessing what he believed to be the death of his love interest: Jaka. He spends several issues hanging out in a dinner/inn while in a near-catatonic state until somebody pushes his Berserk Button.
  • After a brush with death in Clean Room, one of the generals of the Mueller organization goes into solitary retreat in a mountain cabin. She's far enough gone that she attempts a Secret Test for the loyalty of the aide sent to find her, betting her own life.
  • In Conan the Barbarian #197, Red Sonja had one following her defeat by the warlord Bakht. Despite the ambush tactics and magical aid Bakht received during the battle, Sonja was so severely injured that she became convinced that she had lost her divine gift for combat. She was back to her old-self by the end of Conan #200, after a confrontation which forced her to fight back or die proved that she still had her skills.
  • The eponymous character of The Desert Peach (Erwin Rommel's brother) suffers one (complete with "Attempting reboot" comment) after some men in his army unit give him some compelling evidence about the implementation of Adolf Hitler's Final Solution.
  • ElfQuest:
    • Strongbow the elf archer loses his will (and consequently ability) to use his bow after making the traumatic decision to kill an elf who attempted to kill his son (up until that point in 10000 years of elf history, no elf had ever killed another elf, barring numerous threats and a couple of failed attempts). Only after he is able to connect with his victim's spirit and beg its forgiveness does he return to his old self.
    • Clearbrook also suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. after her lifemate One-Eye dies, but forces herself to keep fighting once the next battle starts.
  • In Echo, Ivy Raven had more than a few rough spots throughout the series, but when she woke up and did not remember the story she began to break down.
    Ivy: "I need to know...Julie, I woke up and I couldn't remember..."
    Julie: "Remember what?"
    Ivy: "Anything! I didn't know where I was, how I got here...I've been telling myself these changes to our bodies are just external but, I don't know. What if it's affecting our minds, too?"
  • Two at the end of Vol 5 of Empowered, right after another. Sistah Spooky snaps upon being just a few seconds too late to save Mind????, something her powers warned her about but she didn't recognize the significance of at the time. Immediately afterwards, Emp breaks down as well, explaining to a murderous Sistah Spooky that if she had only been just a little bit more confident, maybe Mind???? would have let her try using her powers to survive re-entry into Earth's atmosphere.
  • In Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance, features each member of the Super Young Team going through one of these at one point or another. Well-Spoken Sonic Lightning Flash has his when the team splits up, walking aimlessly and endlessly through the desert, while Big Atomic Lantern Boy's comes when Shiny Happy Aquazon explicitly turns him down for the first time.
  • The Flash suffers an extended one due to the course of events over the Blitz story arc. A good friend turns nemesis Zoom, hospitalizing Flash's wife and killing his unborn children. The villain's permanently faster than Flash, exhausting the hero just trying to keep up. Three of the Flash family lose their powers trying to help, one permanently. At the end, the Flash stops Zoom, only to fall to his knees in horror at the realization that all he's gained from "saving the day" is a lost friend, weakened allies, and an uncertain future with his wife. Meanwhile, the next villain to come along gets to pick up where Zoom left off.
    • Another famous one was in the "The Return Of Barry Allen" arc. When his own hero seemingly has a BSOD of his own and then apparently commits one huge Face–Heel Turn and leaves him for dead, Wally loses his all his beliefs, throws his costume away, and shuts himself off from the rest of the world. Only the discovery that "Barry" is actually the original Zoom is enough to shake him out of it.
  • Cassie Hack of Hack/Slash went through one (entering what was an Angst Coma to boot) after the Re-Animator crossover, in which her long-lost father dies, and she's forced to kill her mother (... again).
  • In Immortal Iron Fist's Seven Deadly Weapons spin-off mini, Fat Cobra meets with the writer from whom he'd commissioned a biography. Fat Cobra has, through the power of chi, lived a very long time - and through the power of alcohol and concussions, has forgotten much of his life beyond the past decade or so. During their discussion, he learns just how he became the Cobra Warrior of Peng Lai; he slept with many women and had scores of children. Those children grew into adulthood and sought revenge on their deadbeat father. They came for him. He killed them, in so doing growing more powerful than he ever had before, strong enough to finally claim the title of Cobra Warrior. Upon discovering this, he has his biography burned and dismisses his company. He glares at the fireplace in disgust as he sits alone.
  • Billy Batson goes through one in DC Comics' Legends, during the time that he believed that he as Captain Marvel killed Magno-Man. He gets over it when he realizes that it was a hoax.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW):
    Twilight: Maybe I've been wrong this whole time... The magic of friendship can't save everything... It couldn't save Spike.
  • In New X-Men, all of the students have one when a bus full of depowered mutants is blown up right in front of them. Especially evident in Hellion, Elixer and Surge.
  • Nightwing:
    • Dick Grayson has an enormous BSOD after a series of events including an attack on Oracle, who proceeds to dump him; his circus, which was burned down; his apartment building being bombed that culminates in the death of a certain villain, and he plunges further into mind breakage when he's subsequently raped by his particularly disturbed accessory to the death of said villain.
    • He also had a milder one after the Crisis Crossover where he nearly killed the Joker.
  • Preacher: the All In The Family Story Arc, where one of the villains comments on the eponymous protagonist's Heroic B.S.O.D., after he saw his lover shot dead right in front of him.
    Boy looks like he took a shit and found his liver in the bowl.
  • The Punisher suffers one of these in a MAX comic after believing that he shot and killed a young girl. He nearly kills himself over it, until discovering that she was already dead and he was set up.
    • Actually the same plotline occurred years earlier in the main series event Countdown, with Bullseye having killed a family of tourists in the same way. Unlike the MAX one which lasted a single issue this BSOD (after a short buildup period where he went on one last rampage) had Frank fall into a complete catatonic state which he was pulled out of by brainwashing in another event called Over the Edge, which sent him on a after Nick Fury. He then fell back into it and plead guilty to the murders, not breaking out until Bullseye revealed the ruse to him on the eve of his execution.
  • Runaways:
    • Victor Mancha, a cyborg, goes into what characters describe as a Blue Screen of Death when he hears three pre-determined questions that conflict with his logic programming and spirituality. Only one has been used (Q: Could God make a sandwich so big, he could not eat it? A: Yes, and then he would finish it anyway.), but Chase mentioned that there are three questions in total. However, each question only works once.
    • The very last issue ends with Nico slipping into a more traditional BSOD, having realized that she has no idea where Chase is and her team might not trust her decisions anymore.
  • Scott Pilgrim gets one at the end of Book 5 and for more than half of Book 6 when Ramona leaves. His friends try various ways to break him out of it, but in the end, he has to confront his desire to forget his mistakes and jerkassedness before he can recover.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • Tails suffer this when he finds out Fiona Fox, his crush, was a traitor and was cheating on Sonic for his negative counterpart Scourge, going to his side for the thrill of being bad, and as if things weren't bad enough for him, she tells him off with a "You can't trust anyone." And she promptly slaps him several feet away, leaving him a confused, crying mess.
    • Sonic himself had one when his girlfriend, Princess Sally, is roboticized, the evil Ixis Naugus becomes king, the Babylon Rogues get away after endangering his city For Science!, Antione makes a Heroic Sacrifice that saves Sonic's life (whom of which he wasn't exactly the nicest person to) and Bunnie runs away from feeling useless due to her recent derobotization. He's gotten better though.
    • Sally suffered one following her watching Sonic pull off a seeming Heroic Sacrifice. It got worse after Sonic came back and he was STILL fighting Eggman. This lead to the infamous slap.

      She suffered another one shortly after the comic's Continuity Reboot. After her memories of the old timeline were restored and she remembered what she did as Mecha Sally, she breaks down into tears and, when the Freedom Fighters have to save Station Square, NICOLE and Cream help shake her out of the funk.
    • NICOLE suffered one after Ixis Naugus exiles her from New Mobotropolis after turning the citizens against her, thanks unwittingly to Mina Mongoose. When Mina arrives to try to talk to her, she's clearly not in that mood.
  • Following the Cosmic Retcon of Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide, Antoine, Bunnie and Sally suffer these after they have the memories of the old Mobius restored. Thankfully, it's brief, but it shakes them up badly, especially Sally, who know remembers her time as Mecha Sally.
  • Spider-Man is a master of this. The death of Gwen Stacy is the best and most famous example. In Clone Saga it happens one time after another and the level of his Wangst is just ridiculously big.
  • Superior Spider-Man is hit with this in issue #29 when the Goblin King makes his move on Spider-Island, leaving him utterly speechless and unable to move his men.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Post-Crisis continuity Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El had one of these after the destruction of New Krypton. Superman hugged her while she cried in space. In the beginning of Bizarrogirl Kara has nightly nightmares, sufffers from horrible Survivor Guilt, and wants to forget about her Kryptonian identity. When Metropolis is attacked she locks herself in her room and tries to convince herself that the Justice League will handle it.
    • In the Red Daughter of Krypton arc she went through one after meeting and beating Lobo, believing everyone wanted to manipulate her and she belonged nowhere. She was so upset and furious that she became a Red Lantern. A while later she was told that she would be a Red Lantern forever because she would die if she took her Power Ring off. She fell to her knees in despair and fury, threw her head back and screamed while incandescent light poured from her eyes.
  • Superman:
    • In Krypton No More, Superman is about to have a breakdown because of him feeling lonely and isolated. And then he is told that his life is a lie, and he just doesn’t know what to do…
    • Superman suffered one early in his Post-Crisis career. After being dragged into another dimension to deal with three alternate universe Kryptonian criminals who had practically wiped all life from Earth, Superman is forced to execute them as there would be no other way to bring them to justice on his world. The decision causes him to have a breakdown and start sleepwalking... well, sleepvigilante as Gangbuster until the Guardian snapped him out of it. Supes was so horrified by what he had done, he exiled himself from the Earth and stayed that way until he could confront his demons.
  • In Superman/Batman: The Search For K, Superman fell to his knees in despair when he and Batman found out that the squad armed to the teeth with kryptonite weapons and out for Supes' blood was created, funded, and sanctioned by the US Government itself. They don't give a crap about Superman's heroism and devotion to protecting the people, and want him dead. Oh, and Lex Luthor had nothing to do with this, either. He bounces back in spectacular asskicking fashion when Batman says that he believes in him.
  • Downplayed with Swamp Thing. He has a brief one in the first arc of Alan Moore's legendary run, after he learns that he isn't Alec Holland turned into a plant, but a plant that absorbed the deceased Alec Holland's memories. His BSOD lasts one issue and ends with him accepting his true nature, so as to ensure that the series didn't bog itself down in the Wangst of Swamp Thing (already a serial moper) moping about because he was a literal monster and never Alec Holland to begin with.
  • Rick from The Walking Dead has too many of these to count, most notably after Lori and Judith die escaping the prison.
  • Wonder Woman (Rebirth): After realizing the Amazons she's talking to, including her mother, are actually fakes, and that she's never actually been back to Themiscarya since she left, Diana freezes up entirely, no longer believing anything is real, not even Steve Trevor. By the end of the issue, she's so badly shaken Steve has to put her in a hospital.
  • Cyclops, in Joss Whedon's Astonishing X-Men run, has a severe one of these when Emma Frost reveals to him that his inability to control his powers is the result of a complex he developed about self-control as teenager, rather than a brain injury resulting from a concussion, as he had previously believed. He spends and issue or two in a completely catatonic state, his powers not functioning. He soon recovers enough to move around and lead the team (perhaps even more effectively than usual, with his self-control issues out of the way) and later surprises everyone by revealing (with a point blank blast in the face of his interrogator) that his powers still work, and that he now has full control over them. At the end of the arc, this control fades as the "clarity" he got from Emma's intervention wears off. See Status Quo is God.
  • X-23 is constantly slipping in and out of these. When first introduced in NYX she's virtually mute, and in her first few panels she seems as if she's barely aware of what's going on around her. Then we learn in Innocence Lost and Target: X just what put her into that state. In fact, in the latter book she's broken so completely she's gone outright Death Seeker, intending to kill Wolverine and herself. She goes into another in the third arc of her solo series when she accidentally attacks Gambit, and spends the rest of the day and well into the night curled up in bed staring at her claws with Gambit sitting vigil over her. By the time she turns up in All-New X-Men she's in yet another one, due to the 1-2 punch of what happened to her on Murderworld and shortly after being captured and tortured by the Purifiers, leaving her wandering the streets of Miami in an amnesiac state.
  • In Zot!, Jenny has a major one after 9-Jack-9 kills the president's daughter, Susan. Zot himself has one as well, but manages to hold it off until after bringing Jenny to Woody's house, telling him to take care of her.
  • Megatron suffers from one in the Season Two finale of The Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye after the Decepticon Justice Division destroys his fusion cannon. This was actually a feint on his part so that he could lure them close and destroy them.
  • In the What If? story "What if the All-New, All-Different X-Men died in their first mission?" (v2 #9), Professor X suffers a massive one when he detects the deaths of both the original and new X-Men teams. Beast tells Moria MacTaggart that, had he not dropped in for an unannounced visit, Xavier would have died.