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Gwendolyne "Gwen" Stacy

First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #31 (December 1965)

Gwen Stacy is a fictional Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. She is best known as one of Spider-Man's most prominent love interests, second only to Mary Jane Watson. First appearing in 1965 in Amazing Spider-Man #31, Gwen was introduced as one of Peter Parker's new college classmates along with Harry Osborn. A love square soon developed between the three of them and MJ, but over time, Peter and Harry exclusively dated Gwen and MJ respectively, which segues into the first of two things that Gwen is most famous for.

In Amazing Spider-Man #121, Gwen, who didn't know her boyfriend was Spider-Man, was kidnapped by his nemesis Green Goblin and taken to the Brooklyn Bridge. Spider-Man came to rescue her, and in the ensuing conflict Green Goblin knocked an unconscious Gwen off the bridge. Spidey desperately tried to snag her with his webs, and caught her before she hit the water... only for the whiplash to snap her spine, killing Gwen and leading to one of the most infamous panels in comic book history.

To this day, The Night Gwen Stacy Died remains one of the most shocking stories in all of comics, especially considering that at the time it was published (1973), the idea of permanently killing off a love interest was unheard of. Gwen's death shook the entire industry to its core, marking the definitive end to the innocence of The Silver Age of Comic Books and paving the way for darker, more experimental material.

It's worth noting that, astonishingly, Gwen has actually managed to remain dead since 1973, an astounding feat for a major comic book character. That's not to say she hasn't been around in any capacity. Just a few years after she died, a clone of Gwen, created by the Jackal (Gwen's Stalker with a Test Tube) and lacking any memory her death, appeared to shake things up. The clone was sent packing pretty quick, but this marked the first of several Gwen-clones to be created for lack of a true resurrection. The most notable of these was the one appearing in Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy, which features a corporation headed by the Jackal that had figured out how to "resurrect" people by creating clones of them with all of their memories up to their deaths. Peter Parker was forced to confront a version of Gwen who remembered dying and also now knew he was Spider-Man. Neither of them got much time to angst, though, since the Gwen-clone and multiple others ended up dying at the end of the storyline.

Elsewhere, Gwen has popped up alive in multiple alternate universes, including the second thing she's most famous for: Spider-Gwen. First appearing in Edge of Spider-Verse #2, this character hails from Earth-65, and is a version of Gwen Stacy who was bitten by the radioactive spider instead of Peter Parker, her best friend who she later inadvertently causes the death of. The character gained instant popularity, spawning several ongoing series and becoming an instant mainstay in Spider-Man media outside the comics, making her television debut a mere two years after her creation, and her feature film debut just two years after that. The character would even start regularly fighting crime in Earth-616 (the main Marvel Universe), firmly establishing herself alongside Peter Parker and Miles Morales as the trifecta of Spider-Heroes.

In 2020, a five-issue miniseries called Gwen Stacy, starring the self-titled lady, began publication, showing Gwen's life before she met Peter Parker. However since the second issue nothing more has been released.

Gwen Stacy has appeared in the following works:

Notable Comic Book Appearances (Earth-616 Continuity)

In Alternate Universes

Notable Media Appearances

Gwen Stacy provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • '70s Hair: Long straight locks with a fringe (which has become her iconic look).
  • Adaptational Late Appearance: She was famously Spider-Man's Love Interest before Mary Jane Watson. In the Spider-Man Trilogy, Gwen (and her father) wasn't introduced until the third film, well into Peter and MJ's relationship.
  • Adaptation Personality Change: Inevitable given that her original character and personality constantly shifted, radically across issues. But none of her more recent adaptations, whether in Ultimate Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man Series, Spider-Gwen, has anything really in common with the character in the original stories.
  • Affectionate Nickname: During their relationship and when she was alive, Peter and her friends called her Gwendy. After her death, it's always Gwen.
  • Alliance of Alternates: Spider-Gwen: Gwenverse teams Spider-Gwen up with different versions of Gwen Stacy, such as a Gwen wearing a suit of mechanical armor, a Gwen with the Super Solider Serum, a Gwen with an enchanted uru-hammer, etc. Essentially, it's the Marvel Universe... AS GWEN STACY!
  • Alpha Bitch: Gwen Stacy is rather magnificent during ''The Amazing Spider-Man (Lee & Ditko), as the Regina George of ESU. Liz Allan was this during Peter's high school period, but she mellows out as she develops a crush on Pete.
  • Alternate Company Equivalent: To Lana Lang from Superman. They were both the main hero's First Love and had a Betty and Veronica dynamic with another, more famous love interest (Mary Jane, Lois Lane) that the hero did end up with. The major difference, of course, is that Peter's romance with Gwen ended when she died, while Clark simply drifted apart from Lana.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Even before Spider-Gwen, this was in play, as evidenced by the Age of Apocalypse version (where she's Thor's bodyguard) and Ultimate Gwen (who for a time was fused with Carnage). Likewise, Emma Stone's version of the character was considered the best parts of the highly divisive The Amazing Spider-Man Series.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Was Gwen already dead when the Goblin threw her off the bridge, or just unconscious? And even if she was alive when he threw her, was it "the shock of the fall" that killed her, or the whiplash from Spider-Man's webline catching her? Though the writers originally stated it to be the latter, there's contextual evidence pointing to both, and Marvel has gone back-and-forth on the matter since the story's release.
  • Always Someone Better: MJ still saw her as this, even after she died. As she remarks to Peter during their marriage, in The Spectacular Spider-Man Annual 8:
    MJ: When Gwen was alive, I knew I never had a chance with you. After all, she was smart, educated, a lady — And what was I? A cheap date. Emphasis on cheap.
    Peter: Don't say that, MJ.
    MJ: If Gwen Stacy was a beauty queen, then I was a pin-up girl.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gwen and Mary Jane simultaneously play this straight and invert it. On the one hand, Gwen was always sweet and down-to-earth whereas MJ was exciting and charismatic. On the other hand, Gwen came from a wealthy upbringing in contrast to MJ who grew up in a poor family, was Peter's literal Girl Next Door, and was preferred by his Aunt May.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: She was the blonde Cto Betty Brant's brunette and Mary Jane Watson's redhead.
  • Chastity Couple: During the time she and Peter were together they never had sex.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting: Gwen Stacy's original appearance on Steve Ditko's page was based on Veronica Lake. After her character evolution, later writers modeled her design on blonde actresses in Alfred Hitchcock films especially Kim Novak in Vertigo (who as Madeleine wears a similar beige coat akin to what she wore in her final comic).
  • Composite Character:
    • She has a habit of having parts of her characterization (namely being somewhat serious and melancholy at least near the end when she was crying all the time) given to Mary Jane. Hilariously, this began in 1970, during the third season of Spider-Man (1967) where MJ is made Captain George Stacy's niece. The joke is that this cartoon was released when she was still alive in the comics, proving that MJ has been upstaging and usurping Gwen from the start.
    • Of course, turnaround is fair play. Her most famous appearances, The Spectacular Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man Series, have her characters based on Mary Jane (Ultimate MJ in the case of Spectacular). Emma Stone's character in the Marc Webb films, as a warm, funny confidant and partner for Peter who knows his double life and accepts both is entirely MJ and completely the opposite to Gwen in the original (who reacted with horror and shock at the idea of Peter being Spider-Man).
  • Daddy's Girl: She's beloved to her police chief father George Stacy, whom she similarly adores.
  • Damsel in Distress: In the early days, she would serve this role. Then it was notoriously subverted in the 1973 The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) story The Night Gwen Stacy Died, in which archvillain the Green Goblin kidnaps her, Spidey goes to rescue her... and she dies, turning Gwen Stacy into the Gwen Stacy.
  • Dead Alternate Counterpart: Versions of Gwen from Alternate Universes have appeared years after her death, most notably the Ultimate Spider-Man series and the eponymous Spider-Gwen.
  • A Deadly Affair: She had an affair with Norman Osborn, Peter's worst nemesis. She regretted it, gave birth to twins, and planned on raising the twins with Peter. It was this that caused the Green Goblin to snap and kill her.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: She was initially cold towards Peter. Gradually, however, a romance develops because Gwen, a science major, seems to appreciate Peter's intellectual personality. Their relationship begins almost immediately after Peter stops going out with Mary Jane, whom he starts seeing as shallow and self-absorbed.
  • Depending on the Writer: Most obvious than other characters since she never really had a set personality to start with:
    • Her characterization in the original The Amazing Spider-Man years was as a Liz Allan Expy for Peter now that he came to college, repeating the same beats such as outwardly participating with Harry and Flash in hazing and bullying Peter in college but inwardly finding him mysterious and sexy, mostly because Peter's the first guy who doesn't give her the time of his day. She was also a beauty queen Uptown Girl type and implied to have been a serial dater.
    • In the Lee-Romita years, they softened her considerably (just like they also softened up Harry and Flash to make Peter's social circle feel less hostile). They also kept changing Gwen's appearance and character over their run, making her a more elegant and nice ideal girl, implying that she is also Peter's fellow science student and shares an interest (though never to genius levels as later writers attempt it). Her appearance also changed, most notably later issues had Lee and Romita copying Mary Jane's hair style for her albeit with a blonde palette to make her as popular as her rival. Likewise, Gwen as Peter's First Love loved him but hated Spider-Man, blaming him for her father's death which they saw as giving her a tragic arc that mirrored Peter's loss of Uncle Ben.
    • Gerry Conway (the first writer to take over from Lee) simply decided to drop her off a bridge and made her into a Posthumous Character who characters periodically remember in an ideal light until JMS came up with Sins Past which can be understood as an over-correction of the recent tendency. Her most recent Alternate Universe renditions (Spider-Gwen and Ultimate Gwen) are more or less In Name Only original creations. Conway, on seeing Emma Stone's performance in The Amazing Spider-Man Series, noted that it was a Composite Character with Gwen's name and background but with comics!MJ's personality (in that she's warm, light-hearted, and snarks back to Peter and is okay with both Peter and Spider-Man).
    • At various times, Gwen was a popular Alpha Bitch, an academic popular girl, a Teen Genius who knows more about science than Peter, a Goth, or an elegant young woman who despite being popular is secretly a wallflower and is drawn to Peter over Harry Osborn and Flash Thompson.
    • The major one is her exact cause of death. In the original comic, Green Goblin explicitly said that she died because he dropped her and that a fall from that height would have killed anyone. However, Romita and Conway, as a way to create ambiguity and also to make it convincing and realistic, added the famous sound effect of a snap when Peter webbed her body to stop her descent suddenly. In both cases, the intent was to provide realism into a superhero encounter to really sell her Character Death as a real one.
  • Desecrating the Dead: Her corpse was one of the many exhumed by Kindred to psychologically torture Peter.
  • invokedDie for Our Ship: A rare non-fan example. Gerry Conway, who wrote "The Night Gwen Stacy Died", was very vocal that he thought the character was annoying and uninteresting compared to Mary Jane. John Romita Sr. suggested killing off a long-term supporting character (he pitched Aunt May first), but Conway chose Gwen as it would allow him to move things along to get Peter with the girl he wanted him to be with all along while in his view, allowing Gwen a role and status that made her into an all-time famous comics icon while satisfying Gwen-Peter shippers to regard Mary Jane as simply Peter's rebound girl and runner-up when in Conway's view, Gwen was Peter's False Soulmate.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: In the classic The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Gwen was tossed off a bridge by Norman Osborn and Peter botched his attempt to save her, snapping her neck. However...
    • Ultimate Spider-Man had Gwen meet her end by Carnage draining her to a husk — but there, she ultimately came Back from the Dead, unlike her Earth-616 and Amazing selves. Speaking of the latter...
    • The Amazing Spider-Man 2 mostly had Gwen die the same way, but the location was changed to a clocktower and her killer was Harry instead of Norman.
  • Dude Magnet: When she was alive, she had dated many boys in high school and beat them all with a stick, and in college has Harry Osborn and Flash Thompson wrapped around her finger. The reason why she eyed Peter was because he was the first one who simply didn't fall over her like everyone else. Posthumously, Gwen was revealed to have attracted the eyes of her pervert teacher Prof. Miles Warren.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Gwen Stacy starts out as a cold Alpha Bitch. She also lacks her signature Alice band, which didn't debut until issue #42.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Blonde, beautiful, and is desired by many men (seriously, see Dude Magnet above).
  • False Soulmate: Gwen Stacy was Peter's first real relationship, the first girl he fell in love with, and both Lee and Romita Sr. thought initially that she and Peter would be the Official Couple. But readers never liked the relationship since they her as a bland character and didn't care for the fact that she liked Peter but hated Spider-Man, wrongfully blaming him for her father's death. Even Stan Lee admitted that he saw Gwen as uninteresting. The writer Gerry Conway saw Gwen as a false soulmate but felt it would be interesting to add drama for her to die in a famous storyline that in his view allowed him to satisfy both groups. Gwen fans could see her as Peter's The while those who didn't care for her could happily start rooting for Peter to get with his real soulmate, Mary Jane Watson.
  • Fan Disservice: The love scene flashback between her and Norman Osborn. Especially when he morphs into the Green Goblin right in the middle of the act.
  • First Love: Depending on the Writer. Peter dated Betty before her, but Gwen is his first serious relationship and many often see her as the girl Peter might have given up Spider-Man for and settle down for good, though none of that was hinted in the pages itselfnote .
  • Girl Next Door: Played with. As portrayed in the comics, Gwen came from an upper-class background, her first boyfriend, Harry, was the son of a millionaire and in her first appearance she was introduced as a high-school beauty queen. However, as she became the Betty to Mary Jane's Veronica, she moved into this category and many fans remember her with this status after her death, even if MJ was the literal girl next door handpicked by Aunt May as the right girl for her Peter, although after Peter and Gwen started dating, she supported them too.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Her hair's always been a shade of blonde (from platinum to bright yellow), and while she was initially portrayed as a haughty ice queen, she's ultimately remembered and beloved for her sweetness and loving heart.
  • Happily Adopted: Averted. She was hoping to raise her twins with Peter, knowing that he'll be a good adoptive father to them and better than Norman. This motivation gets her killed by Norman Osborn.
  • Hates My Secret Identity: She likes Peter Parker but hates Spider-Man.
  • Hero of Another Story: Giant-Size Gwen Stacy looks at an adventure Gwen had before she even met Peter concerning the circumstances of George Stacy's forced retirement from the police, which includes her dealing with a criminal conspiracy involving the Crime-Master, the Kingpin and the Green Goblin, as well as having a brief encounter with the X-Men (Marvel Girl, Beast and Iceman, to be specific).
  • Hysterical Woman: Peter openly calls her this in narration during Amazing Spider-Man #87 where he blurts out he's Spider-Man, which some of his friends see as being evidence of him being crazy (which Peter later runs with) but Gwen actually believes it and her reaction is so over-the-top that Peter swears off telling her his secret ever again. Mary Jane also trolls her for her over-the-top reaction, which becomes even more hilarious if you factor in the Parallel Lives retcon that she knew Peter was always Spider-Man and that she's rubbing it in to her rival about how she can't deal with their mutual crush's double life):
    MJ: Wow Gwendy, you sure can pick 'em. He's either a masked menace or a psycho case, take your pick!
    Gwen: [tears in her eyes] Shut Up! No matter what he is — what he's done — don't you dare talk about him like that!
    MJ: Okay, Tigress! He's all yours!
  • Iconic Outfit: Her dying outfit (green overcoat, black shirt, purple skirt, black headband) remains her most easily recognizable outfit.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Due to being referenced often in flashbacks and Adaptation Displacement, it may come as a shock to some fans to find out that she was Spidey's third love interest (behind Liz Allan and Betty Brant). Likewise, Peter's best friend and eventual enemy Harry Osborn made his debut in the same issue Gwen did, The Amazing Spider-Man #31.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: She's the Trope Namer for a reason, having died infamously on Spider-Man's watch, something continues to haunt him and their surviving friends.
  • In Name Only: While her personality was admittedly always inconsistent, none of the adaptions have ever come to close to being accurate. The original Gwen was an example of a Hysterical Woman who started out unlikeable before warming up to Peter, while later proving to be a Politically Incorrect Hero by supporting a corrupt authoritarian DA candidate just because she hates Spider-Man. All adaptions of the character remove these elements, often making her a Composite Character with Mary Jane to not only make her more likeable, but to make her the sort of character Peter would more believably fall in love with. Spider-Gwen in particular is the exact opposite of the original Gwen, being based more on how adaptions portrayed her such as the version from The Amazing Spider-Man.
  • Killed Off for Real: She remains one of the few significant comic book characters who died and stayed dead (unless you count the clone with her memories from Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy). This is likely because the story of her death is so iconic.
  • Lady in Red: Famously wears a revealing red bikini in the Savage Land saga. In the entirety of the story.
  • Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: Despite initially liking Spider-Man, she soon came to hate him after her father died saving a child from falling rubble during one of Spidey's fights with Doc Ock.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Potential Spouse in this case (and actual one in AU versions). But she had a close relationship with her father George Stacy, a principled responsible man who wants to stop crime and risks his life in service while her boyfriend has similar qualities (and unknown to her is also a crime fighter who risks his life to fight crime). Captain George Stacy for his part always approved of Peter and in his deathbed admitted that he knew he was Spider-Man and told him he had no problems with him dating his daughter.
  • Little Black Dress: She once wore a skimpy black dress in the hopes of getting Peter to be her Valentine. She succeeds.
  • Lost in Imitation: Her iconic death scene via falling off a bridge from The Night Gwen Stacy Died gets adapted a lot — Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), the first live-action movie — and they always replace Gwen with Mary Jane and let her live. The child-friendly cartoon series actually came the closest to adapting the tragedy by having Mary Jane fall into a dimensional time and space rift (alive but in an And I Must Scream state of floating through a no-man's-land outside reality and definitely believed dead by Peter, with an arc about grieving her loss). When the The Amazing Spider-Man 2 FINALLY gets the right girl, and kills her off for real, they have to replace the iconic setting with a clock tower because people have already seen the familiar set up with Mary Jane too many times. They also replace Norman with Harry.
  • The Lost Lenore: Some writers like to use her this way for Spider-Man, even though he actually got over her death fairly soon in the 1970s.
    • Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue is perhaps the most blatant example.
    • Inverted in Spider-Gwen where it's Peter Parker who becomes Gwen's Lost Lenore.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: In the original Steve Ditko era, she was basically the Regina George of ESU.note 
  • Love Father, Love Son: She used to date Harry Osborn. Then, she had an affair with his father Norman Osborn, with whom she secretly had a pair of twins.
  • Love Triangle: She was apart of one with Peter and Mary Jane, as Peter had some feelings (mostly shallow ones) for Mary Jane. She seemed to have won, though her death sadly came soon after.
  • Loving a Shadow: In Tom Beland's one-shot "Web of Romance", Peter actually reflects this about his feelings for Gwen and how it compares to his relationship with Mary Jane (who's always been insecure about being a replacement for Gwen). Peter notes that with Gwen he was always tense, nervous, because of how emotional she was, was never entirely relaxed, and that he was never able to be honest and open with her in the way he is with Mary Jane, and that his feelings for his wife are greater than it was for Gwen. The Spider-Man: Sinister Six Trilogy features Peter musing at one point that his relationship with Gwen couldn't have worked out because she wanted peace and he acknowledges that he seeks crusades, even if he still regrets her death.

  • Meet the In-Laws: Gwen had a very frosty relationship with Aunt May (unlike Mary Jane who saw her as a Parental Substitute and always remained close and in-touch with her). Most notably, when Peter had a disappearance and May was worried about where she was, Gwen lashed out at her with a speech calling her out for being a smothering mother that so badly affected May that she actually spent weeks away from Peter without talking to her and was considered to have "disappeared". Gwen did feel guilty about doing this, and May and Peter accommodated her, but things were never warm between them.
  • Misfit Lab Rat: Back in the 60s she was originally written as a Defrosting Ice Queen Academic Alpha Bitch, but some modern takes (like Ultimate Spider-Man and Spider-Gwen) make her more of a punk outcast. That said, her skills at science tend to vary Depending on the Writer.
  • More Popular Replacement: Spider-Gwen to the original Gwen Stacy. While most people accept that the original was a very important character due to her death, many don't like her inconsistent characterization over the years from a high maintenance woman to a pure ingénue. In contrast, many enjoy this version of Gwen for having more of a consistent characterization as an excitable tomboy drummer who is still shaken over her greatest failure, on top of being a Spider-person herself. As a result of this, most current adaptations featuring Gwen Stacy tend to lean towards the personality of this version of the character as opposed to her original incarnation.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Gwen is a very beautiful blonde-haired woman who wears outfits (particularly skirts with thigh-high socks and boots as well as dresses) that highlight her very voluptuous body, buxom breasts, hourglass figure, and long, toned legs. The trilogy in The Savage Land has her wearing a red bikini for the entirety of three issues, showing far more skin than even Mary Jane did until her marriage to Peter and the era of her being a cheesecake.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: She was retconned into having had one of these courtesy of Norman Osborn — the man who later killed her — during the Sins Past storyline. When Gwen learned she was pregnant, she decided to raise the children with Peter, so Norman killed her and raised them himself. This was eventually retconned in The Amazing Spider-Man (2018), 15 years after that story was first published, when it was revealed that both of Gwen and Norman's kids were imperfect clones, and Mary Jane was hypnotized to believe that Gwen told her about her affair with Norman, which never actually occurred as part of the larger Arc Welding narrative going on.
  • Neck Snap: There is a text that reads "Snap" when Spider-Man catches Gwen as she falls, which is revealed to be Gwen's neck breaking due to the whiplash of Spider-Man catching her. This was later confirmed by Word of God.
    Roy Thomas: It saddens us to have to say that the Whiplash effect she underwent when Spidey's webbing stopped her so suddenly was, in fact, what killed her. In short, it was impossible for Peter to save her. He couldn't have swung down in time; the action he did take resulted in her death; if he had done nothing, she still would certainly have perished. There was no way out.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: She died before Peter could tell her that he's Spider-Man and sharing more of his life with her.
  • Never Speak Ill of the Dead: One way to really piss Peter off is to besmirch her name. Sins Past by JMS was a story that intended to correct her posthumous adulation by painting Gwen as someone who cheated on Peter with an older man, and Peter's reaction on learning of this was one of rage and disbelief though he ultimately did get over it, especially since MJ, Gwen's close friend who never once brought this up even if it was to her advantage, still loved and missed Gwen. Of course in other stories, such as "Web of Romance", Peter is okay being critical of Gwen such as her dependency and the stress she put him during their relationship.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: She was a science geek (Depending on the Writer) while still looking like an absolute bombshell (Depending on the Artist).
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: One reason why her death was so poignant for Peter was that she died before knowing he was Spider-Man, before knowing the true cause of her father's death. Peter also admits to MJ in Sins Past that he and Gwen never had sex during their relationship together and of course if Peter had plans to propose to her, he never told her either.
  • Nice Girl: Despite an initial haughty characterization and later variations, she's ultimately remembered as a sweet girl. This has more or less become her default characterization in most adaptations.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Not only among fans and writers, but many characters In-Universe latch on to Gwen's memory as a representative of a more innocent time.
    • Spider-Man: Blue is entirely about Peter recording his memories about how the college days with Gwen was a innocent happy era. Harry Osborn in "Best of Enemies" also voices regret about Gwen's death and his father killing her, noting how he feels that their entire generation (himself, Peter, MJ, Flash) all lost something with her.
    • Mary Jane herself punctures holes with this nostalgia at one point pointing out that none of them were actually innocent or that those years were so golden. Peter was Spider-Man and was tearing himself up lying to everyone about his double life, Harry was a drug addict son of a barely-repressed supervillain, MJ was a product of a broken home and runaway trying desperately to hide her real self from her people, Flash fought in Vietnam and came back a veteran (sliding time scale later moved this back and forth), and even Gwen's final years were marked with the death of her father, and her grief over being orphaned.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Subverted - Gwen either died of the whiplash or from shock. The Green Goblin states that a fall from that height would have killed anyone.
  • The One That Got Away: On account of her death, many fans and later writers grew up thinking of her as this. Some AU versions often show her and Peter as living the dream life, though others such as House of M hint at a very troubled relationship (with an implication that a married Peter was cheating on her with MJ).
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Peter is (in)famously seen cradling her lifeless body in the climactic scene of The Night Gwen Stacy Died.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Believe it or not, Gwen once threw her support behind Sam Bullitt, a man running for DA — who also had a history of supporting white supremacy, just simply because he was against Spidey. This was in addition to the fact that her father, the reason she supported him (she blamed Spidey for George's death), was against the man.
  • Pretty Spry for a Dead Guy: It's teased that she's actually alive a couple of times, only for it to be revealed it's a clone or something each time. Interestingly, the First Clone Saga was suggested by Stan Lee (after the fan reaction and backlash over Gwen's death) as a possible backdoor to bring her back just in case Conway's plan to have Peter move on with Mary Jane didn't take with readers. Once it became clear it did, he made the revived Gwen into a clone.
  • Progressively Prettier: In her early appearances, as drawn by Steve Ditko, she had highly, angular eyebrows, pinned-up hair, a constant haughty expression, and fairly modest clothing; her features were sharp and angular and although she could occasionally pull off a nice pout, the fact that lots of characters called her pretty was the only hint to the fact that she actually was so. But when John Romita Sr. took over the drawing, Gwen was softened, her features became more angelic, she let her hair down, gaining her iconic bangs and headband, and she dressed in much sexier clothes.
  • Proud Beauty: Gwen actually started out this way, as she got angry at Peter Parker for daring not to be attracted to her, and reflected that "I've never met a boy like him! He didn't even give me a glance!" Fortunately, she got better. Mary Jane Watson and Black Cat play this role more straight due to the former being a Fanservice Model and the latter being a Sexy Cat Person/Classy Cat-Burglar with a form-fitting Spy Catsuit.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: In Amazing Spider-Man #91-92, after her father's death, Gwen, in grief and anger, serves as a volunteer to Sam Bullitt, an authoritarian candidate for the position of DA who wants a "law and order" campaign, solely so he would go after Spider-Man. This despite him having, as Robbie Robertson points out, a past history of being supported by hate groups. Despite the fact that George Stacy detested Bullitt, Gwen works for Sam and willingly supports and gets behind his "law and order" campaign.
  • Posthumous Character: Since her death happened in Amazing Spider-Man #122 of a long comics series and is one of the most constantly revisited and alluded to moments in the comics, a good number of later readers encounter her as a posthumous character. Jeph Loeb's Spider-Man: Blue is quite common, even if it has little to do with her original characterization.
  • Retcon:
    • The infamous Sins Past story establishes that Norman Osborn and Gwen Stacy had a son and daughter, Gabriel Stacy and Sarah Stacy. The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) undoes this by revealing that the "kids" are clones and Osborn never had the affair, while Mary Jane was hypnotized to believe in it as part of her therapy sessions with a disguised Mysterio.
    • A minor one that changes a character's entire motivations in Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy. The Night Gwen Stacy Died is changed to reveal that, before the Goblin knocked her over, Gwen had woken up and heard the supervillain call Spider-Man "Peter". She automatically hates both because of what happened to her father. In Clone Conspiracy #4, however, when Peter finally confronts Gwen (or rather, another clone with her last memories), she does say that she forgives him and, in a tie-in, admits that she's still in love with Peter, but feels betrayed by him being Spider-Man, though she understands why he does what he does.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: The rich to MJ's poor. She's the only girl Peter has dated to come from a higher social class than him, his previous love interests Betty and Liz were from the same background with Betty choosing to work rather than go to school, while Mary Jane was also from Queens like Peter and was ambitious about moving up.
  • Sex for Solace: When she had her one-night stand with Norman, her father had recently died, her boyfriend Peter had become distant, and her friend Harry had overdosed on LSD. The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) retconned this by revealing that the affair never actually happened and ended up being an elaborate hoax designed to mess with Peter's head.
  • Sliding Scale of Beauty: Level III(World-Class).
  • Spared by the Adaptation: For someone who's best known for being one of the first love interests killed in super-hero history, Gwen always seems to survive outside of the comics (as seen in the Spider-Man Trilogy, Spider-Man: The Animated Series or The Spectacular Spider-Man). The one exception was The Amazing Spider-Man Series and it was considered highly unpopular in that film. This is probably because the nature of superhero film trilogies which generally don't allow for Comic-Book Time removes much of the original reason and context for her fridging.
  • Spoiled Sweet: She comes from a wealthy upbringing in contrast to Peter's status as a Working-Class Hero. Despite this, she is portrayed as a good-hearted individual and is fondly remembered by her friends long after her death.
  • Stacy's Mom: For a time in The Amazing Spider-Man (J. Michael Straczynski), where the Sins Past storyline was taken as a legitimate event in Spider-Man's history, Norman Osborn was this for her. Fits with Love Father, Love Son, as she also dated Harry Osborn for a time. Sins Past was ultimately revealed to be an elaborate ruse by a Harry Osborn A.I. in The Amazing Spider-Man (2018), using hocus pocus from Mysterio and clones to deceive Spider-Man into thinking Norman and Gwen had a relationship.
  • Surprise Pregnancy: She discovered she's pregnant from her affair with Norman Osborn and gives birth to twins 4 months early.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Gwen was drugged by Osborn and was still unconscious when he dropped her off the bridge. No last words, no deathbed exchanges (unlike the case of her father's death, Captain George Stacy), no Parting-Words Regret or any literary foreshadowing about her death, which is one reason why it was a huge shock to readers.
  • They Killed Kenny: All her clones, created by the Jackal, always end up killed. Even Joyce Delaney (her first clone) who, after many years, started finally a new life... ended up killed by another Gwen's clone, Abby-L, in Spider-Island.
  • Too Good for This Sinful Earth: She is treated this way in retrospect both in the Spider-Man continuity and by the editors. Before her death, her relationship with Peter was a little rocky owing to the latter blaming Spider-Man for her father's death, burdening Peter with guilt and regret. She had actually separated from Peter and gone to London (which revived during the Sins Past story) and she and Peter came off as a non-functional couple. Of course, as a Posthumous Character, she's earned the sarcastic nickname "St. Gwen."
  • Troubled, but Cute: She fell for Norman Osborn and had an affair with him because she felt there was another side to him that was broken and troubled and she felt sorry for him.
  • True Love Is Boring: This is one of the reasons Gwen Stacy was killed. Nobody at Marvel was ready for a married Spider-Man yet, though in the case of Gwen, her being boring was also a reason (since MJ isn't, it's a lot harder to keep her out of Spider-Man's life).
  • Tsundere: Her original characterization flips between being concerned and lovestruck over Peter to hating his guts for a minor transgression like him not responding to Harry Osborn's jokes.
  • Two First Names: Gwen and Stacy are both common given names.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Gwen Stacy to Sam Bullitt. The latter uses her to support his political campaign and venture, even if her father disliked him for his politics.
  • Uptown Girl: What the character actually is. While Peter is a poor kid from Queens trying to help his Aunt May pay the bills and make rent, she's a well-to-do high society girl whose father, a retired NYPD captain, hangs around media tycoon J. Jonah Jameson and industrialist Norman Osborn. All adaptations tend to ignore this aspect of the character, though a few such as The Amazing Spider-Man films acknowledge it in little ways by showing Gwen's family living a very nice and clearly expensive apartment.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: She and MJ gradually transitioned into this once the latter realized that she and Peter were serious. They remained friendly with MJ mock-teasing and flirting as a way to josh Gwen. Sins Past revealed how close their friendship was as does Spider-Man: Blue. Notably, MJ never once gives Peter heat over still mourning his first love even during their marriage, making it clear that she loved and misses Gwen as much as he does.
  • Wet Blanket Wife: As Peter's girlfriend Gwen was this when she was alive. Her relationship with Peter was strained by the fact that she loved Peter but hated Spider-Man. Peter loved her but constantly had to lie to her since the minute he told her the truth he would lose her. Indeed, one attempt to confess his identity to his friends which Peter later passed as a prank confirmed these views since Gwen became hysterical at the idea of Peter as a superhero. The one situation that could have helped them out, namely the fact that her father George Stacy approved of Peter and Spider-Man and was his Secret-Keeper, was lost when George Stacy died in an accident and Gwen blamed Spider-Man for the death of her beloved father, and Peter's guilt felt worse than ever. As such, readers got annoyed by Gwen for her whiny nature, her irrational fear and grief-stricken rage at Spider-Man, and for the fact that whenever Peter contemplated a future he just felt incredibly guilty. Then she died and Peter lost her, felt guilty for one big major failure rather than every day while he was with her, and moved on to his real love interest.
  • Womanliness as Pathos: Gwen Stacy is a constant source of angst and turmoil for Peter, resulting in the circumstances her death being retreaded several times throughout publication, as well as many stories that resulted directly from her death or the events immediately leading up to them. For example, The Clone Saga started when Stalker with a Crush Miles Warren cloned both her and Peter Parker as revenge for Peter letting the object of his affection die. The story Sins Past revealed more details about her past, including that she cheated on him with his archenemy Norman Osborn and bore two children.
  • Woman Scorned: She was initially upset that Peter gave her the cold shoulder upon their first meeting (which he did because he was worried about Aunt May's illness). Furious, she dates both Flash Thompson and Harry Osborn.

Alternative Title(s): Gwen Stacy