YMMV: The Night Gwen Stacy Died

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Not so much the characters as the writers. Gerry Conway has been credited by many as killing her off because he preferred Mary Jane, but the official story is that they wanted a shocking death, and Gwen was the only one who would be shocking enough. So, its down to two interpretations: A case of Die for Our Ship, or a case of Stuffed In The Fridge. Gerry Conway himself is unambiguous
    "The amazing thing was that he[Stan Lee] created a character like Mary Jane Watson, who was probably the most interesting female character in comics, and he never used her to the extent that he could have. Instead of Peter Parkerís girlfriend, he made her Peter Parkerís best friendís girlfriend. Which is so wrong, and so stupid, and such a waste. So killing Gwen was a totally logical if not inevitable choice."
  • Complete Monster: The Green Goblin established himself as a completely monstrous individual with this story. As if killing poor Gwen wasn't enough, the Goblin completely mocks the value of her life. The point is driven home when the Goblin gets completely pissed after Spidey (supposedly) destroys his glider, and starts to cry even harder for revenge. Spidey calls him out for acting in such an entitled way when he just killed his girlfriend. The Goblin then says the little chestnut of calling Gwen "a simpering, pointless girl who never did more than occupy space". Cue Spider-Man beating the crap out of him.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome:
    • Despite being pretty sick Spider-Man puts all his strength into one punch and knocks the Goblin away just in time to save Gwen. Except this isn't a regular Spidey story...
    • Spidey's No-Holds-Barred Beatdown of the Green Goblin after Gwen dies. Keep in mind, Spidey is sick during this fight (only a cold, but still), and yet he manages to wipe the floor with the Goblin. He was that pissed!
    • On a meta level, the fact that the writers managed to permanently kill a major character convincingly. Though as pointed out by Gerry Conway, the decision to kill Gwen was not especially controversial by the editorial staff.
    • Not to mention, Mary Jane's Character Development shows brilliantly when Peter, in his despair, lashes out at her and tells her to leave him alone. She refuses.
  • Franchise Original Sin: In retrospect this story, while a classic and Wham Episode anticipated many problems that plagued Spiderman in later issues, and didn't exactly provide an ideal solution.
    • The original impetus for the story was a way for writer Gerry Conway to resolve the Gwen Stacy romance since she had become too close to Peter and realistically, as an Official Couple, they would eventually marry and settle down which aged up the character considerably. Conway also saw Gwen as uninteresting compared to Mary-Jane and he stated later that the only reason people remember Gwen was because of her death. Conway was a decent writer and the storyline worked out pretty well, becoming a stunning Wham Episode that changed the course of the series. However, by replacing Gwen with Mary Jane, the same problem of Peter being part of an Official Couple resurfaced only now the excuse of the Love Interest being boring couldn't fly, since Mary Jane had Popularity Power, so eventually Peter did get married after all, a decision which Conway said was a mistake.
    • Writers also couldn't kill off any more of Peter's girlfriends because it would make Peter too much of a Failure Hero. Conway's idea of killing Gwen was merely a one-time solution to the problem of whether or not Peter should age. So later writers tried to find another way to get out of this problem, leading to universally reviled storylines and retcons like The Clone Saga and One More Day, both being extreme ideas to keep Spiderman from aging and freeing him from being part of an Official Couple. In many ways, the seeds of Spiderman's Dork Age problems were planted in this issue.
  • It Was His Sled: This trope is clearly Up to Eleven considering the spoiler is in the title itself. However, the title itself isn't shown until the end of the issue in which she dies.
  • Like You Would Really Do It: Averted - the writers made it absolutely clear that Gwen Stacy was dead for good. The same applied to Norman Osborn until he was resurrected over twenty years later.
  • Love It or Hate It: The story's reception in its own time. The fans flooded Marvel with letters, some praising the creators for taking such a bold move, others calling them murderers. Nowadays, it's highly regarded.
    • Some critics however feel that the story as a comic book isn't especially interesting and that aside from the shock event of Spiderman losing a loved one, there's not a lot to the story and as such they feel it's aesthetically inferior to Steve Ditko's Spider-Man stories, especially "If this be my destiny", or even "Kraven's Last Hunt".
  • Moral Event Horizon: The Goblin's murder of Gwen is perhaps the best known example for a Moral Event Horizon in the history of comic books. Not only because of the act itself, but because of his utter dismissal and even contempt for the value of Gwen's life.
  • Never Live It Down: Some fans define the character of Norman Osborn by the crime he committed in this story, and less-informed fans define Gwen Stacy by this moment/her characterization during this moment. She's almost always remembered as the Girl Next Door, Purity Sue type characterization that she had at the time, and remembered as the 'one who died'.
  • Purity Sue: Gwen Stacy's posthumous characterization is a result of this story. Few remember her early characterization in Steve Ditko's run, where she was more harsh and cold, very much an Uptown Girl who found Peter attractive (with him oblivious to it) because he wasn't drooling after her like the other boys. In the Romita stories, she was characterized into a more demure, kinder "ideal woman" with all her interesting elements taken out. Gerry Conway said that he largely wrote her death because he saw no potential for the character:
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: This is the one comic that started the entire Woman In Refrigerators trend, predating the Trope Namer by a good two decades. Although most people agree that it's not an actual proto-example of it, since Gwen's death have deep, meaningful consequences to Spider-Man's character and mythos, even to this day. Conway didn't use the death only for shock value, but used it as the foundation of his entire run, exploring the effects this death has on Peter and his inner circle. The infamous trope is not named "Dropped From A Bridge" for a reason. Still, the "death of a significant other" has been done so many times in superhero stories since it first came out that it doesn't have nearly the same impact on modern readers.
  • Tear Jerker: Gwen's death and everyone's reaction to it.
    Spider-Man: "I saved you, honey... don't you see? *quietly* I saved you..."