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Characters / Marvel Comics: Norman Osborn
aka: Green Goblin

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Green Goblin I / Iron Patriot I / Goblin King I / Red Goblin / Gold Goblin

Alter Ego: Norman Virgil Osborn

First Appearance: The Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July, 1964)

"But you, Parker... How does it feel to once again, let a friend down? You seem to have quite a history of failing your friends and loved ones. Dear, sweet Gwendolyn, your deceased girlfriend who died so young. Your beloved aunt May, who asked for so little of you and received exactly that until she was taken from you. My son, Harry. You claimed to be his friend, his confidant, and when he needed you most, you failed him as you do everyone else who gets close to you."
Peter Parker: Spider-Man #95

The Arch-Enemy of Spider-Man, though between 2004-2015, he became more active in the Marvel Universe as a whole before returning to Spider-Man titles again from Superior Spider Man onwards. He became increasingly prominent in Civil War (2006), an importance which led to his biggest role to date: the Big Bad of the Marvel Crisis Crossover event Dark Reign.

The Green Goblin first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 #14 (July, 1964), created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. The face of Norman Osborn first appeared in cameos in issues #23, and #25-26 (April, 1965, and June-July, 1965). The previously unnamed character received his name in issue #37 (June, 1966). In issue #40 (September, 1966), Norman and the Goblin were revealed to be the same person, concluding a mystery storylinenote . The Green Goblin and Norman Osborn are unusual characters in that they have two different eras. The classical era which lasted until Issue #122 (published in 1973), and the modern era which dates from the period at the end of The Clone Saga (1996) to the present day. Norman Osborn and the Green Goblin appeared in a few memorable storylines in the first era and the number of storylines he has appeared in the second era are far more numerous and extensive than the first one, a testament to his lasting popularity.

In the classical era, Norman Virgil Osborn was born to a respected and rich family of Osborns. His father Amberson was abusive, corrupt, and an incompetent businessman. Over time, Norman became just like him and worse, but in his early years Norman worked to regain the family's power and money, vowing never to become the failure his father was. He married, but a year after his son Harry was born his wife Emily died, leaving Norman a widower and single father. He started neglecting his son in favor of his main goal: getting more power and money. Eventually he gained control of Oscorp Industries by framing his business partner Mendel Stromm. In Stromm's papers were notes on a serum he had discovered, which Norman tried to replicate for his own use. He failed. (Ironically, not entirely of his own fault, but Harry, angry that his father was neglecting him, switched some chemicals before the experiment... Or maybe he didn't?). The formula altered Norman's body. He became a super human: stronger, faster, more intelligent. Yet the serum also turned Osborn, who had never been entirely stable, into a total psychopath. Norman took on a double life: by day, a respected businessman; by night, a grotesque super-villain mastermind. In his new persona as The Green Goblin, Osborn terrorized New York City with a bat-shaped jet glider, pumpkin bombs, razor bats, and insane laughter, thwarted from taking over the New York underworld only by repeated interference from Spider-Man. Soon, Osborn's interest in becoming the crime-lord of New York diminished; he had become obsessed with Spider-Man and his desire to get revenge upon him. Green Goblin was the first villain to discover Spidey's secret identity, knowledge he used to attack and capture Peter, but it ended in defeat for Norman, who subsequently lost his memories of being the Green Goblin. After some time he remembered everything and returned to battle Spider-Man, only to be defeated and lose his memories once again. Yet their last clash was marked by tragedy, for it took place in Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 (June-July, 1973), an event which changed comic books history forever. At the end of that story, the Green Goblin was killed by his own glider which Spider-Man dodged at the last moment. Norman Osborn was dead, and he remained dead in comics history for more than 20 years real-time.

His evil legacy lived on with several goblin-themed villains, including his own son Harry. At the conclusion of The Clone Saga, Norman was shown to be alive, having been orchestrating events from somewhere in Europe, and that it was he who had been behind the Clone Saga. It turned out that the Goblin Serum gave him a Healing Factor and that after being impaled by the glider, Norman woke up at the morgue and he quickly replaced his body with that of a vagrant he murdered and skedaddled to Europe, before returning at the conclusion of the Clone Saga. After that, Norman returned to his campaign of tormenting Peter Parker, through legal and illegal acts, until he was finally caught in The Pulse for the first time in his 40 year Publication History (the longest for any Marvel villain to evade in-page and on-panel justice). He was released by Iron Man to help him in the Civil War. This proved to be a mistake. Where Lee-Romita showed that there was once some good in Norman, the new era showed Norman to be a malingering, gaslighting, scheming mastermind, obsessed with power and hampered only by a self-destructive streak. After One More Day, Norman even loses knowledge of Peter Parker's identity albeit he retains his hatred for Spider-Man and cottons on very quickly whenever a new Spider-Man takes over from the old. After his day in the spotlight as the Top Cop of Marvel Universe, Norman Osborn was put into prison yet again, only to break out mere months later to unite the Goblin Cult, HYDRA, A.I.M, Hand and HAMMER into his own new organization. He revived the Dark Avengers and defeated not one but two teams of Avengers (directly with the Avengers; indirectly with the New Avengers) before his pride cost him everything yet again. As hype for the Dark Reign, Marvel hired an actual psychologist who analyzed old Stormin' Norman and found out just how twisted he is. Suffice it to say, it's A LOT.

Following his defeat, Osborn escapes from the hospital and resumes the identity of the Green Goblin, vowing to defeat the new Spider-Man. To this end he dubs himself the "Goblin King" and takes over New York's criminal underworld, enlisting the help of Menace, Monster (Carlie Cooper after being splashed with the Gobin Formula), and Hobgoblin VII (renamed the Goblin Knight). Ultimately defeated by the good old Spider-Man, he still manages to escape. However, his escape wasn't clean as he had lost his powers thanks to a special nanotech vaccine created by the Superior Spider-Man. His search to restore his powers ultimately lead him to the Carnage symbiote, where Norman easily got the symbiote to realize the joy of slowly murdering people and convinced it to join with him. Its first order of business was purging the vaccine from his being, with Norman plotting to fuse the symbiote with the Goblin Formula. He ultimately did so, and became the Red Goblin - launching a new campaign to torment Peter in Go Down Swinging, at the end of which Spider-Man managed to destroy the Carnage symbiote and induced severe mental backlash that scrambled Goblin's mind — now believing himself to be Cletus Kasady, and Spidey to be Norman. Acknowledging that the Red Goblin's reign of terror is over, Spider-Man had simply left the now brain-dead Norman Osborn to his own leisure... this of course didn't last given that he later joined the Power Elite. Eventually in Absolute Carnage, the still lobotomized Norman was recruited by a resurrected Cletus Kasady in his crusade to awaken the evil symbiote God of Darkness Knull, granting Norman a copy of the Carnage symbiote to carry out his goals. Suffering defeat again, it would be revealed in Ruins of Ravencroft that Norman somehow returned to his original persona. Later, Gabriel and Sarah Stacy, clones who believed themselves to be the children of Norman and Gwen, took up the identity of Kindred thanks to Mephisto in order to attack Norman and Spider-Man. They would temporarily resurrect the original Sin-Eater, granting him supernatural powers to take away one's sins. One of those people was Osborn himself, who suddenly was filled with grief and regret over his actions as the Goblin. However, when the Sin-Eater took his own life, Osborn never regained his sins as other villains had; instead the Beyond Corporation was able to take claim to it. The Stacy Twins' plan ultimately lead to the death of Harry Osborn, who was revealed to have been a clone of the real Harry who had still died but his soul trapped in Hell until Spider-Man and Doctor Strange overcame Mephisto.

In a mysterious turn of events, Peter, despite his complete misgivings towards Norman, soon found himself having him aid him, designing a brand new Spider-Costume based around Goblin Tech while, behind the scenes, Norman was making a new costume for himself. Not only would he take in Peter to work in Oscorp, but he was also do the same with Mary Jane, who was mysteriously on the outs with Peter, and accepted Kamala Khan as an intern. During the events of Dark Web, Osborn would don his new costume, being dubbed the Gold Goblin, to aid in the defense of New York against the invasion of Limbo by Madelyne Pryor and Ben Reilly

Osborn has two identities, which diverged into two distinct personalities as a result of Osborn coming up short in the storyline Gathering of Five. Though this is Depending on the Writer. In general, Norman is the crazy mass murderer Green Goblin. The other is Norman Osborn, the Corrupt Corporate Executive and sociopathic chess master. Sometimes these personalities merge together and cooperate, but other times they fight, and other times, they are one and the same.

His comics appearances are mainly in the pages of Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker Spider-Man, Civil War, Dark Reign, New Avengers, and others. He starred in his own miniseries, Osborn: Evil Incarcerated, showing his time in jail after Dark Reign. Norman Osborn has appeared in other media, including the Spider-Man Trilogy (played by Willem Dafoe, who reprises the role in Spider-Man: No Way Home) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (played by Chris Cooper), Spider-Man: The Animated Series, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel's Spider-Man. He was also a playable character in Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2 and a boss in Marvel: Avengers Alliance and Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3: The Black Order. He's also a supporting character in Spider-Man (Insomniac). When stage musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark played in New York he was played by Patrick Page.

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Norman Osborn provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Played with. After his sanity was restored, he vowed to attack Spider-Man and his allies in a way they'd never see coming, but was invited to the Kingpin's end of the world party... which was crashed by the Punisher. After the world was restored, Osborn was shown with a Bandaged Face, selling Goblin gear as an Arms Dealer.
  • Abusive Dad:
    • He had one, however he did managed to pass a couple life lessons to Norman, which caused Norman to have mixed feelings for him to this day.
    • The fifth Green Goblin was an Artificial Human created by Norman and Doctor Angst. While the entity saw Norman as its father, Norman merely regarded it as a servant and Scapegoat.
    • While Sarah Stacy mentioned that Norman never treated her or her brother Gabriel with any undue harshness and was always personable whenever he visited them, he still raised them to believe that Spider-Man was their real father and that he was responsible for Gwen's death and that it was up to them to avenge her by killing Peter.
    • During a period in which Flash Thompson had hit rock bottom, he latched onto Norman (who he was so desperate to believe in that he deluded himself into thinking that he was just "a misunderstood guy") as a Parental Substitute after Osborn decided to subtly screw with Spider-Man a bit by hiring Flash to be one of his PAs. Of course, this ended about as well you'd expect, with Norman eventually Force Feeding his "boy" whiskey before putting him behind the wheel of truck set on a collision course with Midtown High.
  • Achilles' Heel: His insanity and tendency to completely undo everything that he's achieved with one psychosis-fueled whim are defining character traits. He's a fiendishly effective schemer who can and does manage to devise and effect grand yet successful plans in the midst of lucid intervals, but without fail, he will always give in to the call of the Green Goblin eventually and lay waste to all of his latest plan's achievements with some ridiculous batshit crazy act of caprice that leaves everyone wondering just how he ever thought it was an even remotely wise course of action.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Whether it's a world peacekeeping force, a multi-billion dollar company, a New York penitentiary, or a motley group of Boxed Crook supervillain conscripts, Norman will find a way to hype the importance of whatever he's in charge of well beyond its actual level before crashing it into the dirt.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: In the adaptations outside the comics, they often try to downplay the strangeness of his original cornrows for more down to earth looks. He can either look like a respected gentleman like Willem Dafoe and Chris Cooper portrayed him as in the live action movies or resemble a more sharp businessman like in adaptations like Ultimate Spider-Man (2012).
  • Adaptational Heroism: Taken to the fullest in Ultimate Spider-Man (2012), where he does a Heel–Face Turn and turns into the heroic Iron Patriot in the last seasons of the show, determined above all to protect his son and leave the Goblin past behind.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Not a full on case, but in some adaptations like the 90s cartoon and the Raimi movies, the Osborn part of his personality is a more sympathetic character and his callous side in fact a Jekyll & Hyde alter ego formed by the Green Goblin that takes over. The truest adaptation of both Osborn and Goblin i.e. "a bad man made worse" is in The Spectacular Spider-Man.
    • Spider-Man (PS4) also gives Osborn this treatment, in that he truly loves his son and that nearly every bad thing he ends up causing is the result of a reckless accident that was meant to create a cure for his condition as opposed to Osborn being corrupt and ruthless. He's also not the Green Goblin... Yet.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: The scene in "Sins Rising" where Norman is cornered and about to have his soul cleansed by the Sin-Eater is a showcase of someone begging while trying desperately not to sound like they are begging; Norman (correctly) claims that the Sin-Eater is being used by Kindred, offers to help him fight Kindred and cleanse the world of sin because their goals align, declares that he is severely mentally ill and in need of psychiatric help, asserts that the worst thing that the Sin-Eater could do to him is leave him alone to continue being tormented by his inner darkness, etc. before finally relenting, albeit while making it seem like it is on his own terms by claiming that it does not matter if the Sin-Eater purifies him because he no longer "needs" the Green Goblin.
  • Alliterative Name: Not his name, but his alias "Green Goblin".
  • Alternate Company Equivalent:
    • Osborn's time as Director of HAMMER has often been compared to Lex Luthor's term as President of the United States over at DC. Luthor's time in the JLA during the New 52 has only made the comparisons stronger.
    • He's also one for Joker, complete with Mad Bomber, Evil Laugh shtick, his green and purple ensemble, his insanely sadistic sense of humor, and likewise his personal obsessive fixation on the hero which he cements by personally harming his loved ones. He's also Spider-Man's Foil and match in many ways. Co-creator Steve Ditko apprenticed under Jerry Robinson, the artist who designed The Joker's look and worked with Bill Finger on his early stories, so the Goblin was probably inspired by and a homage to the Clown Prince of Crime.
    • One of his weapons, razor bats, are metal, bat-shaped throwing weapons that hybridize boomerangs and shuriken. They're batarangs in all but name.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The reason he became what he became. Or as Peter Parker puts it in his thought bubbles Amazing Spider-Man #40 (often paraphrased accurately as "bad man turned worse"):
    Peter Parker: [thinks] He was just a greedy, ruthless businessman before his accident... But the chemical changed him... for the worse! Now what do I do? How do you reason with a madman?!!
  • Anti-Hero Substitute: As Iron Patriot in Dark Reign, he attempted to be this to both Iron Man and Captain America.
  • Arch-Enemy:
    • The Green Goblin has become Spidey's greatest enemy thanks to the other two becoming anti-heroes. Ironically, starting in The Noughties, writers started to pull back on him in the Spider-titles. Osborn went on to star in Thunderbolts and Dark Reign, effectively taking long breaks from Spider-Man's corner of the universe.
    • In Superior Spider-Man he came roaring back as Spider-Man's nemesis. He slowly but surely built a criminal empire under Otto's nose and then used it to to demolish everything Otto had created in the time he was Spider-Man. He would have actually taken out Peter's loved ones as well, if not for MJ.
    • To put it in full detail, the Green Goblin was the first villain to discover Spider-Man's identity, killed his girlfriend, killed his clone brother, crippled Flash Thompson... Long list goes on. Norman caused the most cruel and personal harm to Peter for a long time made him The #1 Arch-Enemy for Spidey. It is only in recent years that writers have allowed Dock Ock to catch up to him with some nasty schemes of his own.
    • Likewise, of all of Spider-Man's enemies, Osborn is the only one who matches the web-head's distinct sense of humor, albeit the Goblin's is far more sadistic and nasty, and he is also physically the only one whose agility and strength matches Spider-Man and in the way Osborn fails to properly manage his personal life and his super-villain identity, he is in many ways a dark mirror for Peter himself.
    • During Dark Reign, Norman also becomes one for Iron Man since, as the former “top cop” of the Marvel Universe, Norman can weaponize Stark’s unpopularity at the time to justify whatever HAMMER is doing while co-opting confiscated Starktech for himself. Conversely, Tony’s sabotage of the Superhero Registry on his way out (and thus depriving Norman of the hero identities he can exploit) earned Tony his wrath and the two engage in an epic cat and mouse game across the world that leaves Norman discredited in the eyes of the world and Tony essentially brain dead.
      Norman: Do you know what I've always hated about you, Stark? It's not that you were the smartest guy in the room. It was that you liked it so damn much. So what do you have to say for yourself now, smart guy?
      Iron Man: I win.
  • Armor Is Useless: Norman is occasionally depicted as wearing chainmail under his purple tunic or layering the green parts of his costume with scales... not that it really provides much protection against a person who literally hits like a truck. Besides, his skin is practically bulletproof on it's own.
  • Arms Dealer: Norman is back in All New, All Different as a behind-the-scenes arms dealer, marketing Goblin gear.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Apparently he was a big fan of comic books as a child.
  • Atrocious Alias: Not the sanest or most sensible of men to begin with, at the start of his criminal career, Norman seriously considered calling himself "Mister Coffee" instead of going by the Green Goblin alias.
  • The Atoner: As of 2023 and Dark Web, his sins haven been expunged and Norman's focus is on atoning for his past.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The star on his Iron Patriot armor isn't just for show as it's capable of firing star-shaped unibeams. Spreading the lens over a much wider area in a more complex shape than the circles and triangles Tony usually uses with his Iron Man suits makes the apparatus more fragile and prone to heat build-up over its external ports. Subsequent Iron Patriot armors worn by other people past Jim Rhodes' first suit tend to forego this luxury and settle on just painting a star symbol around a conventional, compact, and reliable chest reactor design.
  • Ax-Crazy: Only when he's the Goblin. He's far more lucid out of costume, but still evil.
  • Backstab Backfire: After he killed Gwen Stacy, Spidey tracked him down and beat him nearly to death. Spidey was so angry that he wanted to kill Norman, but at the last minute stopped himself. Osborn was still able to remotely control his Goblin Glider, positioned it behind Spider-Man, and hit the gas, hoping to impale him. Spidey dodged the glider and it hit Osborn instead, killing him. At least, that's how the story originally went.
  • Badass Boast:
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: Whenever he's not rocking a green bodysuit and purple tunic.
  • Badass Normal: He's become this after having the Goblin serum purged from his system.
  • Bad Boss: To the Thunderbolts and the Dark Avengers. Oscorp employees, too. During "The Final Chapter" arc, he uses several employees as unknowing test subjects for his DNA weapon. The first Pulse storyline also demonstrated his habit of murdering his employees to satisfy his urges. And while he chastasized the Carnage symbiote for attacking a pair of henchmen who had served him loyally and well, he quickly got over it and used it as an opportunity to entice the symbiote into partnering with him by promising to teach it how to kill and terrorize people in new and horrific ways.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Norman's desire to regain his madness eventually drives him to merge with the Carnage Symbiote, but he quickly discovers that he cannot control it.
  • Being Evil Sucks: For all Osborn's power and his victories, it's repeatedly shown that his mental instability and inability to accept that Peter Parker simply won't be crushed have ruined his life. At least one story ends with Spider-Man pointing out how awful it must be just to have to be Norman Osborn, and the ending seems to show Osborn contemplating suicide.
  • Being Good Sucks: The Amazing Spider-Man (2022) showcases his struggles after his "sins" have been purged from him. Now with a regular mind, he is constantly haunted by the vivid memories of his various crimes and victims, and while he doesn't want to be a villain again, he's horrified to discover that committing violence still not only comes naturally to him but provides him with straightforward enjoyment as well.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Attempted to invoke this with Peter. Nearly succeeded. Added a lot of points to Peter's woobie factor.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: During Dark Reign, Norman at times seems genuinely convinced that all the horrible things he's doing really will make the world a safer place....somehow.
    Norman: Every time I've killed, I was either temporarily and certifiably insane, or serving my country. It's got to be rough to find out the person you hate the most in the world is actually the best protection the world has.
  • Berserk Button: Spider-Man is one. Another is his insulting his son Harry, although he's guilty of that all the time.
  • Big Bad: The Spider-Man big bad. Although he has competition from Venom (pre-Lethal Protector), Doc Ock, and occasionally the Kingpin, Norman Osborn is usually depicted as the baddest of the bunch, and the one who inflicts the deepest scars against Peter. While the main villain of many storylines, his most notable outings were The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Superior Spider Man, and Dark Reign.
  • Blue Blood: Comes from old robber baron money. His father squandered the family fortune and Norman built it back up.
  • Board to Death: He often did this in his adventures as the Green Goblin. Often telling people his plan in a dramatic fashion, before killing them to keep his plan contained.
  • Bond Creature: A Vision Quest that Norman goes on in ASM Vol. 4, #32 ("Personal Demon") implies that his spirit animal is actually the tiger, not the goblin. In the end, though, Norman rejects its mask in favor of a goblin one during the final test that he undergoes at the Temple with No Name.
    Monk: In this sacred place, you will bond with your totem. And together, as one, you shall confront your personal demon... all that is holding you back from your true potential. Reach out. Accept your destiny.
    Norman: No. I accept nothing. I am Norman Osborn—and I choose my destiny!
  • Breaking Lecture:
    • The speech in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #95 is all about taunting Peter on his failings as a boyfriend, friend and surrogate son in an attempt to break his will.
    • Norman is on the receiving end of one in Peter Parker: Spider-Man v.2 #47, where Peter points out how empty Norman's life really is, which actually leaves Norman suicidal for a time. The "manic" side of his bipolar disorder eventually pushed him back into action as the Goblin again, however.
  • Breakout Villain: Along with Dr. Octopus and Venom (he gets better), the Green Goblin became Spider-Man's most popular enemy, though to an even greater extent than the other two. Even in the early Ditko stories, the Green Goblin's combination of wacky personality, manipulative planning, amazing acrobatics (the only early Spider-Man villain with reflexes as fast as Spider-Man) gave him a sense of cool and menace that other villains didn't have and this was one reason why his Secret Identity took so long to be revealed since the artist and writer wanted to build a sense of mystery and drama around him.
  • Broken Ace: He's just as strong as Spider-Man and even smarter, but he is - or was, until Peter cured him - completely insane. Despite his business successes and the fact that he spent years getting away with literal murder, he's also fully aware that he's destroyed any chance of having a family and that his mental instability is the main factor in the failure of his various schemes.
    • Even after being cured, Norman ends up disfiguring himself via botched plastic surgery in an effort to try to restore his "true" face and eventually chooses to reject enlightenment and embrace the Goblin identity again - with all the madness that entails - in the belief that this will allow him to finally defeat Spider-Man. In short, he's smart enough to know that being crazy will doom his plans in the long term, but still unable to give up on the Goblin identity despite the madness it brings with it.
  • Brought Down to Normal: At the end of the Goblin Nation arc, Peter injects him with a cure for the Goblin formula, removing his powers. Osborn simply sneers that he's more dangerous than ever.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Like all supervillains, he has his moments:
    • Trying to intefere in Thor's fight with Bor as Iron Patriot, Thor oneshots him by grabbing his arm and then tossing him across the city.
    • Trying to hurt Jessica Jones resulted in her husband, the Nigh-Invulnerable Luke Cage coming after him, crushing his car, no-selling his bombs before punching him out.
    • During his Iron Patriot days in Dark X-Men, he also picked a fight with Nate Grey, despite knowing that Nate could comfortably "go one on one with the Sentry" and Dark Beast, who of all his minions knew Nate best, was prepared to run screaming. While he came out on top in that one due to Plot Armour (he wasn't scheduled to go down until Siege), Nate smashing down the walls between Osborn and the Green Goblin ultimately succeeded in making Osborn publicly snap and reveal who he was under the polished facade.
  • The Cameo: Not Norman himself, but on the cover of Osborn #2 he's seen sharing a cell block with a certain Stringy-Haired Ghost Girl with a film fetish.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Goblin persona is, in all versions, proudly and unrepentantly evil. Even outside the suit, Osborn is sometimes this.
  • Cerebus Retcon: Norman based the Green Goblin on an imaginary boogeyman figure that haunted him throughout his childhood, especially whenever his abusive father would lock him in the abandoned Osborn estate.
    Norman: When the lightning struck, the house would become brightly illuminated. In the echoes of the rumbling thunder, I fancied I could hear the unearthly chittering of a green, goblin-like creature. Perhaps it was the blood rushing in my ears, but I became convinced I could hear the dreadful thing cackling, waiting for its chance to feast on my bones. Every time the lightning struck, I expected the goblin would be standing there over me, ready to pounce. I began to pray for the darkness to last just a little longer each time... and I began to hate the light.
  • Character Development: Went from a Corrupt Corporate Executive trying to make a name for himself in the criminal underworld by killing Spider-Man to an obsessed, murderous maniac to a manipulative master manipulator.
  • The Chessmaster:
    • Holy cow, if he didn't deserve it before, he does for his actions in Superior Spider-Man. After coming back, instead of taking the fight to Otto, he waits and slowly builds power. Knowing that Otto created Spider bots to monitor the city, he hacked one of them and uploaded a program that ensures if someone has a Goblin appearance, either by wearing a mask or having a Goblin tattoo, the bot does not register that person, ensuring Otto stays out of Norman's hair. For everything Otto does, Norman somehow benefits. When Otto outed Phil Urich as the Hobgoblin, Norman took the chance to have Urich join his group. When Otto took down the Kingpin, Norman seized power making him the new Kingpin. Norman kidnapped Carly and found out that Otto killed Peter Parker, he simply adjusted his plans to torture Otto as well as Peter's loved ones. When he finally decides to step in the limelight, he has enough forces to keep even the Avengers busy trying to stop his forces or save everyone. Allowing him to focus on Otto, he simply destroys everything Otto has made. He destroyed Spider Island, stripping Otto of back up; destroyed everything that was ever related to Otto, laughing all the way; hacked into Otto's tentacles, nearly killing him; hacked into JJJ's Spider Slayers; kidnapped Otto's girlfriend and finally attempts a hit on everyone close to Peter. The only reason the murder of Peter's loved ones failed was because he underestimated MJ.
    • And then there's the fact that Roderick Kingsley tried to establish himself as a crime lord and broker by giving criminals the powers and costumes of various C-list supervillains in exchange for a cut of their profits. Not only does Norman outmaneuver Roderick and prevent him from getting a foothold, he also recruits all of the C-list supervillains to serve as his minions.
    • That may not even be the half of it. The Goblin formula was a major contributor to Osborn's madness. Now that it's purged from his system, he has a lot more control of his faculties. He Lampshades the fact that his insanity made him do over-the-top and blatantly obvious things as the Goblin King, but now that's he largely sane again he likely has access to his full, unfettered Chessmaster potential. He proves it by operating in the shadows as an arms dealer.
  • Chronic Villainy: Norman's abusive upbringing and lust for power mean that he can never really abandon the Goblin identity because of the sense of power it gives him, even though the mental instability that comes with it invariably leads to a Villainous Breakdown in the long run.
  • Comic-Book Fantasy Casting:
    • Norman Osborn's face and his distinctive corn-row curled hairstyle, in the Ditko and Romita era, was modeled on Joseph Cotten, a character actor who appeared in many supporting roles and played the villain in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (a popular film in the youth of both Lee and Ditko, and also about a businessman having a double life as a psychopathic murderer). Norman's father is Amberson Osborn a reference to Cotten's film with Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersonsnote .
    • His appearances in Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers as drawn by Mike Deodato invariably resemble a slightly younger Tommy Lee Jones.
    • His appearance in Spider-Man (PS4) is an amalgam of his two live-action actors — Chris Cooper for his more weathered features, and Willem Dafoe for his slightly big eyes.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: During Dark Reign, whenever Norman put on the Goblin's mask and costume he started relapsing into the Goblin persona and would break out in fits of maniacal laughter.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: A fan of this, as Peter Parker, Nate Grey and others have found out.
  • Color Animal Codename: A more mythical flavor of 'animal': the goblin.
  • Confusion Fu: Not to the extent of, say, Deadpool or Slapstick, but you can never really tell how straightforward a menace Osborn will be until he lets you know. One moment, he's out of costume and without his gear, and seemingly at your mercy. And the next, he's shoving a fistful of explosive flash drives into your mouth.
  • Control Freak: When he assembled the Sinister Twelve to go after Spider-Man, he objected to Mac Gargan becoming the new Venom just because he hadn't planned for it, despite Venom being a more dangerous adversary than the Scorpion.
  • Cool Plane: His Goblin Glider, which has had numerous iterations and is constantly being improved upon.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Despite a common belief, he predates Lex Luthor in this department. (That is, Luthor is an older character, but wasn't portrayed in a corporate position until the 1980's.) He is probably the king of this trope.
  • The Corrupter:
    • He has tried and failed to act as this to Peter, who refuses to become anything like Norman.
    • Osborn used his own past as the Green Goblin to manipulate the emotionally unstable Sentry into denying the existence of the Void, his evil side. After the Sentry drinks more of the serum that gave him his powers, the Void takes complete control of their shared body, becoming Osborn's "secret weapon."
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mac Gargan once described one of Norman's hideouts as a "cornucopia of plans and counter-plans."
  • Creepy High-Pitched Voice: Depending on the actor, he usually has a high-pitched voice in his persona as the Green Goblin, although some versions give him a deeper voice instead.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Frequently Lampshaded, though also inverted. The Hobgoblin only turned to crime because he wasn't as smart as Norman, and thought Osborn had to be insane to use his amazing tech in the same way when he could easily make a fortune out of it. That said, Osborn is already a successful corporate millionaire and his superbrain has only made him more money and power (ironically enough, he ended up buying out the Hobgoblin's own company when the latter tried to blackmail him). Nonetheless, he is still too messed up to use his mind to its fullest potential.
  • Deadpan Snarker: In the comics and most versions, he is usually able to verbally hold his own with Spider-Man during their battles.
  • Deal with the Devil: In The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) #72/LGY #873, it is revealed that Mephisto made a deal with Norman to help him obtain power and money, thus destroying Mendal Stromm's reputation and leading to the creation of the Green Goblin.
  • Death Seeker: In one storyline (in which he Mind Rapes Spider-Man in an attempt to get Spidey to kill him). The ploy fails, and the story concludes with a despondent Norman sitting alone in his office, contemplating a gun.
  • Depending on the Writer: Mark Millar's version of the character is noticeably smarter — bordering on Omnidisciplinary Scientist — compared to most other takes on the character. In some versions, notably the film and animated series, he is almost more of a Jekyll & Hyde figure, the Norman side being a well-meaning but stressed businessman who is taken over or led by the Goblin persona. In other stories Norman is worse than his Goblin persona and an outright Hate Sink all on his own.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Zig-Zagged, as you can argue that both won and both lost. In Dark X-Men, Norman went 12 rounds of psychic combat with Nate Grey at the height of his powers and won. Admittedly, this was only because Nate was possessing him, had deal with Norman Fighting from the Inside, the Dark X-Men hunting him down with Norman's mind and the Green Goblin persona. Then it turned out that this was actually part of Nate's plan. In fact, he nearly won - he'd played Norman like a violin, the Dark X-Men and Avengers too, right up until the point where the Goblin didn't cause chaos as expected and take over Norman, thereby revealing Norman's true self to the world and discrediting him. Instead, the Goblin turned the tables on Nate by using the energy absorption powers of Omega and Mimic to drain him of his power and render him vulnerable, before retreating back into Norman's subconscious. After that, he used Nate, one of the most powerful non-cosmic beings in the Marvel Universe, as a living battery. Though, considering the way Norman's sanity dramatically degenerated from there, culminating in his talking to his mask (which allowed Loki to manipulate him by pretending to be the Goblin's voice), and succumbing to frothing insanity on live television at the conclusion of Siege, it seems that Nate had the last laugh on that one.
  • Dirty Old Man: A particularly dark version, Norman is nothing if not a misogynistic predator for young women despite being old enough to have a fully adult son. One of his various infamous conquests was his son's wife/his own daughter-in-law, which even fellow villains found skeevy. In Sins Past, Gwen Stacy was also revealed to be on this list, but it was eventually revealed in Sinister War that it was all part of the Harry Osborn AI's demonic mindgames and the Stacy twins were genetically engineered.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Probably two thirds of his plots are convoluted and incredibly nasty revenge schemes, usually involving a lot of Revenge by Proxy ever since he knocked Gwen Stacy off that bridge. But the real qualifier is his beef with Spider-Man in the first place- he originally wanted to kill him to get street cred in the criminal underworld; after two or three failed attempts at that, he then wanted to kill Spider-Man for foiling his previous attempts at killing Spider-Man.
    • In Superior Spider-Man, he more or less tortures Otto for killing Peter Parker, as he finds it unfair that the real Spider-Man's second greatest enemy end his life instead of his greatest. Superior Spider-Man Team-Up reveals he infected the only woman Otto ever loved with AIDS solely because Otto made the mistake of saying his goal in life wasn't the total destruction of Spider-Man.
  • The Don: Norman's original motivation was to become this, although he was quickly sidetracked by his obsession with Spider-Man. Following his return as the Green Goblin during Superior Spider Man, he renames himself the Goblin King and establishes himself as the leader of a Goblin formula-augmented criminal syndicate.
  • Don't Tell Mama: He initially tries to keep his identity secret from his son.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: He impersonates the Hobgoblin with ridiculous ease.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Before The Reveal, a man sporting the Osborn hairstyle can be seen in the background among a club of businessmen that has J. Jonah Jameson as a member. Steve Ditko, in an attempt to quell the debate about the Green Goblin's identity being a factor in his departure from the book, confirmed that this man was Norman.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The Green Goblin during the Lee-Ditko era had the goal of taking over the criminal underworld and was about as well motivated as a gimmicky 60s Batman villain, but his distinct persona and menace, his ability to match Spider-Man in both combat and wits and his competitive personality made him a real mystery. Then after The Reveal of him as Norman Osborn and the resulting Easy Amnesia, he appeared in very few stories until Gwen Stacy's death, when he was temporarily Put on a Bus, and when he returned he had an entirely different personality and set of motivations.
    • Additionally, Ditko's Norman isn't an Evil Genius, but rather a corrupt businessman and would-be ganglord with a few specific, well-defined recurring weapons. Even these are strongly implied to be the inventions of his former partner, Mendel Stromm. The first post-Ditko story introduces the idea that Norman has some form of enhanced intelligence and shows that he can create advanced devices and customized chemical formulae on his own.
    • A fairly short lived example but in his first appearance he used a rocket powered Flying Broomstick rather than his traditional Goblin Glider which he used from his second appearance onward.
  • Easy Amnesia: Formerly, he couldn't remember his misdeeds as the Green Goblin. Now fully averted, since he remembers everything he's done and doesn't regret it. It seems to have come back in a way with the end of Go Down Swinging as an interrupted rebonding with the Carnage symbiote and feeling its agony as it's burnt to death scrambled Osborn's brains, making him think he's Cletus Kasady.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Was originally a Badass Normal, but later retconned into having Super-Strength and a healing factor capable of resurrecting him.
  • Enemies Equals Greatness: His letter to Peter in Marvel Knights Spider-Man #12 has him noting that without Spider-Man he would just be another boring businessman with a mid-life crisis. And he thanks him for giving him something else to become.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Has one when a kidnapped JJJ chastises him for never defeating Spidey even after throwing his girl off a bridge. Jonah's use of the word "his" causes Norman to remember Spidey's secret identity for the first time since One More Day. Norman is ecstatic to have finally recovered his true greatest weapon in his crusade against Spider-Man.
  • Evil All Along: During his bouts with amnesia he was depicted as being a hard-edged but not especially malicious businessman and father, which was presumably his "real" pre-Goblin Serum personality and demeanor. But then flashbacks and prequels and the like made it clear that he was always a bit of a tool, mistreating his son, funding supervillains, stabbing his business partner in the back, using an Oscorp employee as a guinea pig for his experiments, etc.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • One of the biggest gripes Norman has against Peter is his inability to understand how he can continue to fight for good, avoid caving into evil, and move on from tragedy no matter how much pain Norman brings to his life. Peter's optimism and determination to do good drives Norman crazy with rage and fuels his desire to futilely try and break him.
    • During Dark Reign and its aftermath, it was also shown that Osborn fails to properly understand heroes as a whole, thinking that the Avengers are just like him and only want to "protect" people for the sake of the power and authority this grants them, rather than acknowledge that they just want to help others.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Zigzagged depending on his sanity. He's done everything from attempt to get Spider-Man to kill him out of guilt for what he's done to try and arrange Harry's death in a gambit to increase his popularity.
    • He truly loved his wife Emily and was heartbroken when she died, sadly declaring, "And with her went my one and Only Friend, didn't it, Gobby?" A flashback showed him grieving almost hysterically at her resting place, and he once fell in love with a nurse who resembled her. On the other hand, "Go Down Swinging" implied a case of Self-Serving Memory, as it's revealed that Emily was for some reason so desperate to get away from her husband that she resorted to faking her death and abandoning Harry to do it.
    • Spider-Man himself has expressed the belief (including to Norman's face) that Norman, for all his bluster, would never do anything to directly harm his grandsons Normie and Stanley. While this assertion has so far proven true, it probably has less to do with familial attachment and more to do with the fact that Norman barely cares about the boys unless he needs to use them as pawns or is going through one of his "I need an heir!" phases. He finally crossed the line in "Go Down Swinging" when he tried to ax Normie for defying him.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In a cross between this and Pragmatic Villainy, Norman, who just wants power and control, assumed that Hera was completely psychotic when she confided in him that she was an Omnicidal Maniac who planned on wiping out the entire universe just so that she could rebuild it In Her Own Image.
    • While bonded with the Carnage symbiote, Norman, never really one for utterly wanton and senseless hands-on slaughter, expressed surprising unease over the symbiote's bloodlust, something which the creature mocked him over, sarcastically asking when the Green Goblin grew a conscious. Norman called the symbiote out on murdering a pair of henchmen who had been nothing but faithful and reliable to him, and was sickened when the symbiote, who he had agreed to let murder someone who no one would miss to make it stop annoying him, went out of control and massacred an entire building full of people. He came to grin and bear it by the events of "Go Down Swinging" proper, though, at one point butchering a ton scientists, which shocked Spider-Man, as, previously, Norman, despite all of his faults, was not quite the type to do something like literally paint the walls with bystanders' blood and body parts For the Evulz.
    • Indicated some mild disdain toward Dark Beast for experimenting on children (not that it stopped from recuiting him for his Dark X-men but that's another story).
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • To Peter. Both have similar base sets of Super-Strength, Super-Toughness, enhanced agility and reflexes, and a Healing Factor. Additionally, they rely on gadgets on top of that, Spidey having his webshooters and other web-tools, and Goblin having his pumpkin bombs and glider. Both make quips during combat and are prone to Trash Talk, but Goblin obviously has a much more sadistic sense of humor compared to Spidey's wisecracks. They diverge heavily from there. Not only is Osborn older and wealthy compared to Peter being younger and working-class, but Osborn could be considered as bad as Peter is good.
    • While it wasn't initially highlighted, and the similarities were coincidental, he became this to Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Being a wealthy industrialist like the former that's enhanced by a serum like the latter. The Iron Patriot identity evokes him being a Shadow Archetype of the two.
  • Evil Genius: Osborn is one of the smarter people in the Marvel Universe.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Osborn is a Type 2 at times as the Green Goblin, cracking sadistic jokes at the expense of his victims. He can rival the Joker in this trope. On the other hand, like the Joker, he can be genuinely funny sometimes as well.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Norman laments the Goblin's panache for the theatrical - such as setting up a medieval-themed criminal empire - as excessively flamboyant and woefully inefficient.
  • Evil Is Petty:
    • In his first appearance, he tried to kill Spidey in order to get respect in the New York underworld which he planned to take over. In his second appearance, he simply wanted to kill Spidey to get even, resulting in a 40 plus year rivalry where all of his plans revolved around messing with Peter Parker in some fashion. He really didn't do much villainy outside of that. If he put as much effort in taking over the world as he did in The Clone Saga, he would've been a Doctor Doom-level threat. Averted during Dark Reign in which he (kinda) moved on from simple "I wanna screw with Peter Parker" plans and joined the big leagues. He also got up to a bucketload of evil stuff outside messing with Peter; most of it just happened to be Offstage Villainy. In-between his Killed Off for Real and Not Quite Dead phases (and for a time after that), he spent time in Europe taking over the Scrier organization and becoming a major crime lord, so he was involved in a lot of illegal and no doubt murderous activities (though admittedly he still used these resources to screw with Spidey). Shortly after A Death in the Family (when Peter says he's tired of their games) he was finally arrested- the reason being he'd switched to getting his jollies by murdering his employees and nosy journalists For the Evulz. And in Marvel Knights there is the infamous story he tells of the prison guard who came to him for medical advice about his sick wife... Her agonizing death was For the Evulz as well.
    • He once teamed-up with Doctor Octopus, but became annoyed when Otto mentioned that defeating Spider-Man was secondary to his goal of becoming the world's greatest scientist. So, Norman, like any rational person, proceeded to track Otto's ex-fiance down, run her off the road, and arrange for her to be given AIDs. Later in life, he tried to destroy everything that Otto cared about or had worked for due to being upset that Ock was the one who had finally bested Parker by becoming the Superior Spider Man.
  • Evil Laugh: As the Green Goblin, he was fond of maniacal cackles. To Norman's dismay in Gold Goblin, he's discovered that doing this for so long has caused him to forget how to laugh normally.
  • Evil Makes You Monstrous: After being depowered he uses Magic Plastic Surgery to impersonate people and traverse the globe incognito, but his over-reliance on it ends up horribly mangling his face, leaving him as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside (not that he cares). A few iterations of the character also forego wearing a costume in favor of Hulking Out.
  • Evil Mentor: Once tried to be this to Peter. Nearly succeeded. He later became one to Phil Ulrich.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Not so much scare as annoy. While he'll still wear the costume, Norman has little time or patience for the Green Goblin's theatrics and views his Split Personality as a hindrance.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Having been one of Spider-Man's most popular villains and also the one with the most dangerous and personal threat (being the only person to know Peter's secret), and then killing Gwen Stacy, made him Spider-Man's Arch-Enemy and his death filled a void in Spider-Man's Rogues Gallery since none of his other villains were seen to match the same kind of personal threat and danger. So writers came up with other Goblins, Harry, Bart Hamilton as Green Goblin pretenders. Hobgoblin as a spinoff who was the most successful and popular of his imitators. Then Venom and Carnage arrived as the next-level villain threats, before Goblin returned and quickly established himself at the top of the heap.
  • Evil Redhead: Norman's got reddish-brown hair and he is a very evil super villain.
  • Evil Sorcerer: He was obsessed with acquiring magical artifacts in the 1960s animated series, and there was the whole Gathering of Five thing during the 1990s, which went awry when Mattie Franklin got the "Gift of Power" that Norman coveted. His need to restore his powers and the Green Goblin persona during Marvel Legacy also leads him to begin studying magic.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: In several iterations Norman has a deep voice both as himself and as the Green Goblin. Oddly inverted in his pre-Ultimate cartoon appearances, where the Goblin had a high, screeching voice and laugh. (In fact, a later Goblin, Phil Urich, weaponized the laugh.)
  • Evil Versus Evil: He and Roderick Kingsley hate each other almost as much as they hate Spider-Man. Which is saying something.
  • Eviler than Thou: He had this attitude towards Roderick Kingsley (the original Hobgoblin), and proved it. Big time. He also had this with Doctor Octopus in Superior Spider-man and managed to show Otto why he was Spider-Man's #1 enemy.
  • Expressive Mask: The Green Goblin's freaky mask may as well be his face given how expressive it is.
  • Expy: The Green Goblin persona has drawn a number of similarities to The Joker, with several characters in the Marvel Universe even confusing his Goblin-themed persona with being clown-based. Ironically, the Goblin also shares with the Joker's famous arch-rival the fact that his motif was born out of something he feared. Post-resurrection, the Norman Osborn persona became one for Lex Luthor, playing up the Corrupt Corporate Executive traits that were originally barely there in his original stories.
  • A Family Affair: Had a thing with Lily Hollister, his own son's fiancee.
  • Family Business: He treats the mantle of the Green Goblin as this, which is why he was upset when the Hobgoblin and Menace stole his thunder. According to Norman, he planned to murder Kingsley the minute he heard of that, but restrained himself to avoid blowing his cover.
  • invokedFashion-Victim Villain: His costume is a frequent subject of mockery for both heroes and fellow villains, but Norman's effective enough of a scoundrel to get away with dressing as he does.
  • Fatal Flaw: Norman's (lack of) sanity. What keeps him from being among the top tier villains of the Marvel Universe is his insanity. This gets lampshaded to hell and back during Dark Reign.
  • Faux Affably Evil: In the early days, and in some versions, he veers closer to Affably Evil , but has since become a completely crazed nutjob as the writers decided Norman was not such a nice guy after all.
  • Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence: Spider-Man and Peter Parker bother him greatly by for his continuous presence and existence.
  • Flanderization: Before The Night Gwen Stacy Died, Norman was a corrupt businessman who, while a bad father, still loved his son enough to suffer panic attacks when Harry was mentioned within Goblin's earshot. After being brought back from the dead, he became an Ax-Crazy Card-Carrying Villain who actively tries to kill Harry.
  • Florence Nightingale Effect: The Revenge of the Green Goblin miniseries had Norman fall in love with his nurse, Kolina Frederickson, who reminded him of his late wife.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: He founded Alchemax with Liz Allen as an accomplice and proxy, in order to provide a legacy for his grandson to rule over.
  • For the Evulz: Green Goblin's motivation in all situations; and Norman Osborn's motivation in many.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: The abuse he suffered at the hands of his father was traumatic, but it also doesn’t excuse him becoming equal to if-not worse father to Harry. That’s not getting into a greedy, power hungry monster he is now.

  • Gadgeteer Genius: He developed a trove of Halloween-themed weapons and equipment, and was constantly improving on them even after supposedly giving up the Goblin identity.
  • Gaslighting: One of his specialties:
    • The Clone Saga was Retconned into an elaborate baroque version of this, with Norman after faking his death, elaborately trying to mess Peter's personal and superhero life with a series of clones, including one who nearly convinced Peter that the former was the clone. He later continues in Revenge of the Green Goblin where he tries to make Peter his heir by putting Goblin serum in his toothpaste and then kidnapping him and having him put on a Goblin suit at night to terrorize Manhattan to finally become his son.
    • His dynamic with Harry Osborn in modern adaptations (especially Ultimate Spider-Man, The Spectacular Spider-Man, and Marvel's Spider-Man) involves coercing and undermining his son's sense of self so as to more properly mould him into an image. These versions of Norman don't see Harry as anything other than an extension of himself.
  • Genius Bruiser: Arguably subverted. He's incredibly intelligent, he's super strong, but he often can't do both at the same time because of his mental instability.
  • Good Parents: In Spider-Man: The Animated Series, Norman is a well-meaning case of When You Coming Home, Dad? who has an unfortunate knack for really bad decisions. He's still consumed by the Goblin persona.
    • After being cleansed of his sins, Norman makes an active attempt to be a better grandfather for Normie.
  • Hand Blast: His seldom-used finger lasers, called "Sparkle Blasts".
  • Hated by All: Norman specifically and not the Green Goblin, is such an asshole and abusive sociopath that no one really likes him. The people who work for him usually betray him when working for him has become an inconvenience. The members of his Cabal during Dark Reign all betrayed him at different points. His surviving family have all learned to hate him. At this point, if there is someone allied with him, you can expect them to vehemently change their minds within that storyline.
  • Hate Sink: Not originally, but later after his resurrection in the 90’s for sure! Before his first death Norman wasn’t great but he was still a suffering Jekyll to the Psychotic wild dog Goblin’s Hyde and the killing of Gwen Stacy was a Moral Event Horizon of the Goblin persona and not Osborn. After his resurrection however, writers made his sadism, corrupt businessman tendencies, and his abuse of his son more pronounced as he became more of a Big Bad towards the all heroes on Earth and not just an Archenemy of Spider-man. He shows no remorse for his actions whatsoever and at this point may be worse than his Goblin persona.
  • Healing Factor: How he came Back from the Dead (or rather how he was Not Quite Dead). Though no-one seems to remember it and a lot of the time it's implied he can be killed in the normal way, he frequently claims to be immortal because of it.
  • Hearing Voices: During the Dark Reign Norman was usually in control, but the Gobin's persona often manifested as a voice mocking his attempts to keep it suppressed.
  • The Heavy: Following his revival in the 90's Norman has played this role many times especially in Dark Reign.
  • Heel–Face Brainwashing: The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) had the Sin-Eater remove Norman's sins and evil at the behest of the Kindred, turning Norman into a normal and repentant man, one who even mourns Harry's death at the hands of the Kindred. While Norman has become a better person, it was not really of his own volition, and the only reason why the Kindred did this to Norman was as a form of torture, as they wanted him to suffer emotionally, which would be largely impossible if Norman was still The Sociopath. This is why they made it so that Norman would be the only one of the Sin-Eater's victims to remain changed and good after the Sin-Eater's defeat; all of the other villains went back to normal after their sins returned to them after briefly possessing and corrupting a bunch of Spider-Man's allies.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Gwen Stacy, Songbird, Mary Jane, Black Widow and other women are treated in a sexist way by Norman. Misogyny is one of his central traits, and it's really driven home in Spider-Man #75, where one of the first things that the Green Goblin does upon announcing his return is smack Liz Allan upside the head while calling her a "cow" who never did anything but hold his son back from becoming a real man.
  • Hero Killer: He's murdered quite a few heroes. Of note are Ben Reilly (Scarlet Spider) and Flash Thompson (Agent Anti-Venom).
  • Hero with an F in Good: Even after the Sin Eater cleanses him of his sins and ingrained villainous impulses, Osborn spends much of The Amazing Spider-Man (2022) barely nicer than his pre-Green Goblin days, acting as a demanding boss to Peter and Kamala Khan, and raising Normie like he did Harry albeit with labored if earnest patience. The Gold Goblin mini-series even suggests that his attempts at being a superhero are just a way to vent out his frustrations at attempted reform through vigilante violence.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Both in-universe and on an almost meta-scale. For as many monsters, aliens, and interdimensional cosmic beings Peter fights, his greatest foe always winds up being the deranged mad scientist cum business executive in the chainmail Halloween costume.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • This is how he was killed the first time: in trying to skewer Spider-Man on his Goblin Glider he impaled himself.
    • When he took part in the mystical Gathering of Five, Osborn was convinced he would receive the gift of Power from the ritual, but instead received the "gift" of Madness, becoming trapped in an elaborate hallucination where he killed Spider-Man. He was so far gone after this experience that he had to be rescued by the Brotherhood of Scrier and receive an elaborate cocktail of drug treatments to restore himself to some semblance of "sanity" (in the sense that he was once again aware of his surroundings instead of lying on a bed ranting about how he'd already killed Spider-Man).
  • Hope Crusher: Post-Resurrection Norman fixates on this as his goal on his archnemesis. The fact that Spider-Man is a determinator who bounced back from all of life's hardships offends and insults him on general principle. In Revenge of the Green Goblin, when Mary Jane, Peter's wife dies, Norman attacks him at a depressed and low point in a hope to break his spirit and drive him insane. He tortures, gaslights, drugs Peter for days but even after that Spider-Man still doesn't break.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: All of the time with Harry.
    • Whenever it looks like he and Norman are having a moment, Norman will always say or do something to ruin it, sometimes even obliviously - when he got a young Harry's new bicycle back from the bullies who had taken it, he proceeded to smash it in front of the boy to show him "what happens to your nice things when you don't take care of them." Harry was slightly traumatized, but Norman failed to notice, convinced that he and his son had just bonded over Norman teaching him a valuable life lesson.
    • Also the reason why he dislikes Mary Jane. In his view, MJ was responsible for Harry's drug addiction, and she broke his son's heart and rejected him for Peter, which in his, insane, mind is unforgivable, since after all Peter is poor and Harry is a Osborn, and the idea that a girl like MJ might love someone for stuff other than money doesn't compute.
  • Idiosyncrazy: The Goblin suit is patterned after Halloween fright masks, his first flying device was a witch's broom before he switched to a bat-shaped glider, his arsenal is mostly jack-o'lanterns, ghosts, and more bats... Osborn must really like Halloween.
  • Ignored Epiphany: In his vision of training at the Temple with no Name, Osborn is guided towards embracing his totemic spirit guide (the tiger) and defeating his inner demon (the Green Goblin). Instead, Osborn deliberately rejects the totemic tiger mask and takes a green oni mask, then summons and defeats Spider-Man in a Curb-Stomp Battle. The monks try to persuade him to let go of his hate, but Osborn kills Spider-Man and transforms into a monster.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: In Gold Goblin #5 both he and Spider-Man team-up to defeat Queen Goblin. As a last ditch effort Queen Goblin decides to transfer Norman's sins into Spider-Man, Norman accidentally kills her with her own weapon to save Spidey. Norman is left crying and telling both Spider-Man and himself that he had no other choice.
  • I Have No Son!: Pretty much disowned Harry after failing to kill him during "Dark Reign". As far as Harry is concerned, that was probably the nicest thing Norman has ever done for him. He even tried to impregnate other women including Harry's wife to serve as a replacement for Harry because he saw him as a critical disappoint, while boasting that Harry's wife was vigorously willing for the act. For the record, as of the post-Secret Wars (2015) time-skip, Harry legally changed his last name to Lyman, taking his mother's maiden name and cutting all ties to Norman.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: Norman is the Trope Maker, being the one who killed Gwen Stacy to make Spider-Man suffer. Peter blamed himself for her death, which was caused by the whiplash of his webline breaking her fall — and neck.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: By his own glider after he killed Gwen Stacy. It didn't kill him, but he was thought to be dead until he came back, and he still has the scar from it.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapons: The razor bats and the pumpkin bombs, especially in Raimi's movie.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Norman's father lost his family's fortune. Norman made it back by shady, illegal, and criminal means.
  • Insane Troll Logic: His grudge against Spider-Man started largely because Spider-Man wouldn't let Norman kill him, and is later exacerbated because Peter won't surrender to him and become his chosen heir after Norman has spent years trying to kill Peter and all his loved ones.
  • Insistent Terminology: When Mr. Hyde sneers that without his "clown costume" Norman isn't even worth contempt, Osborn force-feeds him explosive USB's with the following response:
    Norman Osborn: Not... clown. Goblin. Goblin. GOBLIN! HAHAHAHAHAAA!
  • Insufferable Genius: To near-Doctor Octopus levels. Norman is incredibly intelligent and cunning, and his brilliance is one of the reasons why he's such an unbearable Jerkass.
  • It's All About Me: He really doesn't care about anyone else and thinks they should just be glad to be in his presence. As explained in Dark X-Men #4:
    Norman Osborn: My father used to say to me, "it's not all about you." I told him I was working on it.
    • When taking part in the Gathering of Five, which would bestow Power, Immortality, Knowledge, Madness and Death at random to the five participants, Osborn appeared convinced that he would be the one to receive the gift of Power for no reason beyond his own belief in himself. He instead received the "gift" of Madness.
  • It's Personal: His conflict with Spider-Man.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Subverted. Norman is (relatively) sane and the Goblin is crazy, but they're both evil. Played straight in some incarnations, though, especially in the animated series and movies.
    • Depending on the Writer: Which persona is worse in the comics. A lot of modern issues have Norman as the worse one.
  • The Jekyll Is a Jerk: While Norman Osborn was originally portrayed as a somewhat-caring father prior to his "death", after his comeback in the late 1990s he was portrayed as being just as despicable as his Ax-Crazy Green Goblin persona — being a Corrupt Corporate Executive who puts profits over people every time, even going so far as trying to murder his own son. During his time as the leader of the Thunderbolts he admitted to admiring Adolf Hitler; and during the Dark Reign event he became director of SHIELD, renaming it to HAMMER and creating his own Dark Avengers, all while blaming Tony Stark for the Skrull invasion. Even when he was cured of the Goblin Serum following Superior Spider-Man he claimed he was more dangerous than ever, becoming an international arms-dealer before bonding to the Carnage symbiote to become the Red Goblin in Go Down Swinging. Even after his sins were cleansed during The Amazing Spider-Man (2018) and he genuinely makes an effort to atone, he still teamed up with Wilson Fisk AKA The Kingpin in an effort to try and take down one of Spidey's rogues, and has to remind himself not to be a snobbish jerk.
  • Jerk With A Heart Of Jerk: As if 90% of the tropes aren’t enough to tell you. Norman is selfish, greedy, callous, and incredibly conceited. Sins Rising also suggests that Norman has some degree of respect for Peter, saving him from a wall pinning him to the ground and thinking of it as repaying a debt for Peter saving Norman after giving him amnesia the first time. However, he dashes all assumptions of respect for his arch-nemesis almost immediately, attempting to drown Peter, reminding him of his affair with Gwen, and threatening to kill Ghost-Spider to piss him off.
  • Joker Immunity: After being dead for around 20 years, Norman was resurrected. He later got pardoned and was promoted to being head of the national security agency H.A.M.M.E.R and the Avengers during Dark Reign. After being arrested again for launching war against Asgard, Norman then got pardoned again and led his new band of Avengers. It only ended when he overreached by trying to become a new Super-Adaptoid and was left in a coma when his new powers catastrophically malfunctioned. After his return to relative sanity following Absolute Carnage, he passes his villainy off as being controlled by the Carnage symbiote, joining Ravencroft's faculty at the behest of Wilson Fisk.
  • Just a Kid: His reaction on seeing Peter unmasked in ASM #39:
    Green Goblin (thought bubbles): It's Incredible! He's just a kid — can't be more than nineteen or twenty! I'd never have guessed!
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: Of Spider-Man's foes, he went for the longest time without a criminal record despite the horrible crimes he commits. After exposing each other's identities and Norman undergoing Easy Amnesia, Peter couldn't expose Norman's identity without outing himself, and after befriending Harry, feels conflicted about it on a personal level. Gwen Stacy's death led to Norman's "death" and exile in Europe where he committed more crimes and masterminded the Clone Saga, making him responsible also for the kidnapping and "miscarriage" of Peter and MJ's child. It's not until the miniseries "The Pulse" where Spider-Man, Ben Urich, Luke Cage and Jessica Jones expose him for his crimes that Osborn and Goblin are finally revealed as one and the same, leading to his imprisonment for the first time in comics' history. During Dark Reign after Civil War, Norman however gets promoted as "head of everything" despite his large criminal record, giving him warranty again.
    • Nick Spencer's run of Spider-Man stresses that while none of the extended Spider-Man family would outright try to take him down with premeditated murder, they wouldn't lose sleep leaving Norman to die. Save for Peter himself.
  • Kick the Dog: This is what Osborn lives for.
  • Knight Templar Parent: What ultimately drove Norman out of retirement was the death of Harry Osborn, which (of course) he blamed on Spider-Man.
  • Large Ham: At least in Raimi's movies (it's easy to see the fun Willem Dafoe is having), I'm a Marvel... And I'm a DC (where the Goblin even idolizes Dafoooeee) and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (widely considered the most entertaining part of the show).
  • Laughing Mad: As the Green Goblin, Norman was fond of maniacal laughter. Even when on medication during Thunderbolts and Dark Reign, he'd lapse into his Goblin persona (due to one of his subordinates replacing his meds with a placebo) and have outbursts.
  • Laughably Evil: As the Green Goblin who, just like the Joker, can make someone laugh one moment, and horrified the next.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: In the battle where Norman first revealed himself as the Goblin, he and Peter caused an electrical explosion and fire that knocked Norman senseless. Peter used the opportunity to destroy the Goblin's equipment, dress Norman in his street clothes and hand him over to the police and paramedics, claiming that Norman had helped him defeat the Goblin. When Norman woke up in the hospital, he had forgotten all about being the Goblin.
  • Legacy Character: He was the first Green Goblin but his son and a few other people took up the mantle over the years. On top of that, the hidious Hobgoblins (another legacy character), the Demo-Goblin, the many Jack O' Lanterns (also legacy character in their own rights), and other Spider-Man villains have taken their cues from Osborn as well.
  • Living with the Villain: He's Peter's best friend's father, after all.
  • Luxury Prison Suite: At some point, he secretly converted the Ravencroft jail cell he kept getting put in into an emergency headquarters complete with an armory.

  • Mad Eye: In the Goblin Nation arc, he was drawn with one iris and pupil significantly larger than the other.
  • Mad Scientist: He created a cure for cancer for the sole purpose of weaponizing it for use against Deadpool.
  • Magic Enhancement:
    • Norman participated in a ritual called the Gathering of Five hoping to be bestowed with the gift of Power, which went to Mattie Franklin. Instead, Norman received the curse of Madness, which kicked his Goblin Formula-induced insanity up a notch.
    • After losing badly to Spider-Man as a Badass Normal, Norman became obsessed with regaining his powers and reawakening the Green Goblin. Travelling to the Temple with no Name, Osborn learns he had the potential to rival Doctor Strange and Doctor Doom in the magic department, and spends months training under a trio of monks in order to awaken his totemic spirit (the tiger) and defeat his inner demon (the Green Goblin). Osborn has an Ignored Epiphany, dons a mystical oni mask to reawaken the Green Goblin, and uses his magic to summon and kill Spider-Man before turning on his mentors. This is all revealed to be a vision-based Secret Test of Character on the part of the monks, who unceremoniously boot him from the temple and spread the word to bar him from learning magic at all.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Zig-zagged, as initially Norman uses this successfully to adopt a new identity as part of Os Corp and later Alchemax, but later his efforts to restore his original face with additional surgery leaves him disfigured.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Has taken several levels in this since his resurrection.
  • Manly Tears: In Gold Goblin #3 he sheds some when Normie asked why did he hurt Harry so bad.
  • Mask of Sanity: While the Goblin-formula obviously drove him crazy and he lives out his insanity when in his Goblin-persona, most of the time he pretends to be the same serious businessman when in his civilian identity as Norman Osborn. It's best shown in the Dark Reign-storyline where he often struggles to hide his insanity from the public let alone his followers while acting as head of H.A.M.M.E.R. and the Avengers.
  • The Mentally Disturbed:
    • Has been consistently depicted with a range of mental illnesses. He is bipolar, schizophrenic, prone to violent mood swings, has untreated paranoia, hallucinations, and dissociative identity disorder. This is in addition to his textbook sadism, egomania and antisocial personality disorder, and they all tend to make each other worse. It's very common for these to bite him in the ass particularly since he denies or covers up the fact that he has such "weaknesses". It especially threatens his attempts to be a Villain with Good Publicity, usually because he finds himself unable to control his homicidal urges.
    • Ironically enough, he's worse when he's relatively sane than when the Goblin is in control. When the Goblin is in control he is The Unfettered, so he doesn't really have to worry about all those mental issues as he no longer gives a damn. It's not really that he's worse as Osborn; it's just that, as Osborn, he swings between struggling with his problems and being in total denial about them, so they are less predictable and expected. As the Goblin, it's his bouts of mental health that are unusual.
    • When Green Goblin is in control, he is much more dangerous physically because his endurance, crazy factor and his strength are at maximum. The weakness of Green Goblin is his inability to think clearly and focus. Osborn is physically weaker but much more dangerous because he can control his sadism directly: he can be cruel in cunning and efficient ways. For Spider-Man, the Green Goblin is more dangerous; for Peter Parker it is Norman Osborn.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Even during the Dark Reign, Norman had been preparing to make a comeback as the Green Goblin with upgraded gear such as a flaming sword and wings... which were stolen by Phil Ulrich to become the seventh Hobgoblin, leaving Norman with only his classic glider and bombs when he finally reclaimed the purple hat and tunic.
  • Mind Rape: One type of pumpkin bomb he subjected Spider-Man to spewed out a hallucinogenic gas that made Spider-Man experience all his worst fears. After Spider-Man overcame the "psychedelic pumpkin", he then used it on Norman to suppress his Goblin personality and memories.
  • Mirror Character: The speech in Raimi's movie. Occasionally in the comics. He really does have a lot in common with Peter.
  • Monster Fangirl: Coat of Arms from Young Avengers. Along with creating fan art of Norman's murder of Gwen Stacy, she also has dreams about dancing with him to George Michael's "Shoot the Dog."
  • Moral Myopia: He runs on this; if it happens to him it's unforgivable, but if he does it to someone else, it's business as usual. Best shown in The Night Gwen Stacy Died; Norman laughs off killing Gwen Stacy and openly mocks her death to Spider-Man's face, but when Spidey damages his Goblin Glider, he flies into an Unstoppable Rage, throws a hissy fit, and swears to make Spidey pay for doing so. Spider-Man rightfully calls him out on it:
    Spider-Man: Mister, are we living in the same universe? You killed my woman, Goblin, and you're raging about a blasted bargain-basement toy?!
  • Morality Pet:
    • Harry; once in the 1970s Peter defeated the Goblin by showing him his overdosed son, causing the Goblin to actually cry and snap back to Norman's side. This event was retconned. After the retcon, the trope has been subverted to hell and back, as Norman has tried to murder his own son. For ratings. That said, he was outraged when the Hobgoblin insulted Harry.
    • Played straight with the Ultimate version, who asked to be killed after seeing that he killed Harry, the Hobgoblin.
  • Motive Decay: Norman went from wanting to take over New York's criminal underworld to being obsessed with either killing or corrupting Spider-Man. He did become head of SHIELD during the Dark Reign, and after breaking free from prison he returned to his original goal.
  • Never My Fault: Apparently being a billionaire and genius makes you immune to responsibility or blame. It's really driven home at the end of Dark Reign, where he rants that only he was willing to protect people from rogue superhumans...right after he'd assembled and led a team of "Avengers" that included insane serial killers, sociopaths, and cannibalistic monsters; pushed the Sentry back into his Omnicidal Maniac Void personality; picked a war with the gods of Asgard without Presidential approval; and spent months giving a free pass to and taking advice from the likes of Doctor Doom and Loki.
    • On a lesser note, when he and Spider-Man first learnt each other's secret identities, Osborn's immediate response was to claim that he had never lost to Spider-Man so far, even though Peter pointed out that Osborn never conclusively defeated him either; either Spider-Man defeated the Goblin's current allies but couldn't catch the Goblin before he escaped, or some other party got involved in the fight and the Goblin decided to leave.
  • No-Respect Guy: Among his fellow villains, he's considered a loony, self-defeating wildcard with a ludicrous gimmick. This leads to many of them underestimating Norman, which is something no one should ever do.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Not that he was ever "harmless", but since he usually has trouble beating Spider-Man alone, he wouldn't seem like a threat to the Marvel Universe at large. But, as Dark Reign proved, it's because he focused so much of his efforts on destroying Spider-Man that he's usually not on the same level as guys like Doctor Doom and Magneto.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Does a lot of things for the “greater good” during Dark Reign, but he was still the same sadistic, sociopathic and power hungry bastard we all know and hate.
  • Offing the Offspring: Has attempted it on Harry during Dark Reign, in the name of public ratings.
  • Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: Norman has dozens of hideouts scattered across New York, which are frequently raided by the various Hobgoblins and Jack O'Lanterns.
  • Old Money: Well, until his father squandered the family fortune. But he managed to build it back up himself.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Cult of Scryer he took over in Europe.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Towards Peter. So much that when he finds that Otto killed Peter, he is greatly annoyed that Peter fell to his second greatest foe, although Norman asks if Otto would be willing to work for him, so in effect he has won over Peter. Norman actually stated that because he didn't get to kill Spider-Man it actually hurt him.
    • For that matter, he's got a case of this with his son, Harry. Norman repeatedly abuses him emotionally, tries at one point to kill him to gain public sympathy, and seduces his fiancée. Whenever anyone else threatens, hurts, or insults Harry, however Norman tends to enter Papa Wolf mode rather quickly.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: At first his son Harry, until "One More Day" happened. A totally reformed Norman Osborn loses all his children (Harry, Gabriel, AND Sarah) by the end of "Sinister War"
  • Parental Neglect: A far better provider to Harry than his own father ever was to him, but led being physically and emotionally distant, depraving Harry from he really wanted which was Norman's attention. Things take a turn for the worse after Norman becomes the Green Goblin.
  • Perverted Sniffing: How he realizes Ghost Spider is an incarnation of Gwen Stacy, and he wastes no time sledgehammering Spider-Man's trauma button by hitting on her in the sleaziest way possible and threatening to do to her what he did to the Earth-616 Gwen. This is what prompts Peter — who had been trying to save Norman from the resurrected Sin-Eater and his horde of zealous murder-happy followers — to personally throw Norman to the wolves.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: He's prone to misogynist statements, hates aliens and mutants, is an implied racist and has disparagingly referred to Anna Maria Marconi as "the midget." He also thinks that the Red Skull and Hitler ("People just did as he told them. Must've been nice") were pretty cool guys.
  • Power Born of Madness: An Invoked Trope after Norman decides that being cured of the Goblin Serum's insanity-inducing effects means that he's lost his "edge" against Spider-Man.
  • Powered Armor: Norman constructs the Iron Patriot armor based on Tony Stark's Iron Man suits, but wasn't able to replicate Repulsor technology, rendering his suit inferior to Tony's original versions, save the time when he fights Stark when the latter only has the Mark 0 armor.
  • Practically Joker: While his civilian identity is more akin to Lex Luthor (especially post-Crisis Luthor), the Green Goblin definitely takes some cues from The Joker, being an Ax-Crazy, wisecracking Mad Bomber with a green and purple color scheme.
  • Predecessor Villain: He was this to the other Goblins.
  • Professor Guinea Pig: How he ended up becoming the Green Goblin in the first place, as he tested the Goblin Serum on himself. Naturally, it all went down hill from there.
  • Privileged Rival: Of the Arch-Enemy variety; while Peter is a Working-Class Hero who constantly struggles to make ends meet, Norman is the head of a multibillion dollar company.
  • Putting on the Reich: During the Dark Reign storyline Norman becomes increasingly fascist. Gets Lampshaded in the Dark X-Men series, in a moment of dark comedy, where Nate Grey is telling the Dark X-Men how he could have made their futures better. Norman's response? "Tomorrow belongs to me."
  • Reminiscing About Your Victims: He kept one of his old costumes in storage and never washed it because the smell reminded him of "death, blondes, and victory." Harry at one point also mentions that Norman was very meticulous in making sure that his office in the Palisades branch of Oscorp have the best possible view of the George Washington Bridge.
  • Resurrective Immortality: Norman claims he and Harry have this due to him being impaled on his Glider and having nothing more than a scar now, and his son dying of a drug overdose but currently walking and talking.
  • Retcon: In the 1960's and 1970's he was portrayed as being a decent guy before becoming the Goblin, however since his return it's been established that even before he became the Goblin he was quite the bastard.
  • The Rival: He and Roderick Kingsley have a bone to pick over who the best Goblin is.
  • Rogues' Gallery Transplant: For a very long time, Osborn didn't venture outside the Spider-Man titles and strictly antagonized Peter Parker. The fact that he was dead for twenty years, making him something of a Greater-Scope Villain with a legacy that cast a shadow over the Spidey mythos, until it was retconned that he survived, ensured that he wouldn't be menacing anyone else during this time. This changed in the '00s, where he was upgraded into being a general Marvel Universe Big Bad who was treated as the Evil Counterpart to both Iron Man and Captain America, with his Iron Patriot armor reflecting both of them, and menacing just about every single hero from the Avengers, to the Fantastic Four, to the X-Men, and everyone in-between, both directly and indirectly, while being a lot less important to Spidey's corner in the meantime. He would eventually go back to being a Spider-Man villain come the mid-'10s.

  • Sadistic Choice: A frequent tactic of his, to the point that he is even the Trope Namer.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: When the Goblin formula is purged from his body, so too is the madness that it causes. Norman mocks his over-the-top schemes as the Goblin King, which his madness pushed him to do, and resolves that next time Spider-Man and his allies will never see him coming. It's then subverted when Norman loses to Spider-Man in his next big scheme and decides that he needs to regain the insanity of the Goblin to battle the hero successfully.
  • Sanity Slippage: Norman's hold on sanity during his tenure as the leader of the Thunderbolts and Dark Avengers was tenuous and ultimately futile, and he relapsed into his Goblin persona after breaking out of prison.
    • Even as ordinary Norman Osborn, he still does things like destroy his own face with repeated plastic surgeries and eventually chooses to lose his sanity again just to be competitive with Spider-Man again.
  • Secondary Color Nemesis: Osborn is heavily associated with green and purple.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The Cult of Scryer, the Cabal, Goblin Cult... he's had several over the years.
  • Secret-Keeper: He makes it a point of pride, to never reveal Peter's identity as Spider-Man to anyone. In Goblins at the Gate, when Roderick Kingsley tries to take off an unconscious Spider-Man's mask, Norman stops him and affects Secret Identity Apathy only for Kingsley to realize in shock, that Norman knows who Spider-Man is. Norman's reaction to Spider-Man revealing his identity in Civil War is a grumpy, "He broke the rules", fully aware that the special relationship Goblin had with Spider-Man over other rogues is tarnished if he reveals his identity to everyone.
  • Secret-Identity Identity: Rare villainous example, in that it continues long after the audience and the hero, and eventually the in-universe public, find out about it, meaning he can be examined in a similar way to superheroes who struggle with these issues. Basically there are three Norman Osborns- the first two is the angry, embittered, insecure and crooked businessman from the 1960's; the second is the Ax-Crazy, unfettered, Mad Bomber Green Goblin alter-ego; the third is the smug, confident, monstrous billionaire industrialist and diabolical genius that blends the two personalities after he came Back from the Dead in the 1990's. The division between the three is blurred by Osborn's untreated mental illnesses like his schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and during Dark Reign the third Osborn was in the middle of a Villainous BSoD that seems to be the Goblin re-emerging, though whether the Goblin has Taken A Level In Badass like Norman remains to be seen. Whether or not any or all of these different sides to Norman constitute Split Personality or are just a result of Norman being an extremely unstable Mood-Swinger who suffers from delusions and hallucinations is Depending on the Writer.
  • Self-Made Man: He comes from a rich family, but his father squandered their fortune, forcing Norman to build it back up himself.
  • Serial Killer: He's occasionally written as one, particularly when he lacks other outlets for his sadistic and sociopathic tendencies. The storyline that saw him publicly exposed as the Goblin for the first time has him secretly killing random Os Corp employees because he can't currently figure out how to get at Spider-Man, and he's sometimes been depicted in prison giving Hannibal Lecture speeches and happily tricking someone into causing their wife an agonizing death, quite in line with the serial killer tropes codified by the Hannibal Lecter franchise.
  • Slasher Smile: Wears one of these quite often as the Green Goblin.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Not so much in recent stories but until Gwen Stacy's death and Goblin's belated resurrection, Green Goblin appeared in fewer stories than other prominent Spider-Man villains, yet his major appearances were the most tense and impactful whether becoming the first villain to discover Spider-Man's identity or later killing Gwen Stacy. He appeared in four stories in the early Steve Ditko run, but for the vast majority he suffered Easy Amnesia. Aside from one relapse, the famous issue where Harry Osborn took drugs, the Goblin was dormant till Gwen Stacy's death after which the character was retired for 20 years before returning during The Clone Saga. Osborn's role became even more prominent in the 21st Century, following Willem Dafoe's performance in the successful Spider-Man movie.
  • Smug Snake: Arrogant, misogynistic, and condescending, Norman is a very competent schemer, but is frequently unable to roll with the unexpected and is also frequently sabotaged by his own mental instability and/or pride.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat:
    • Whenever he and Spider-Man throw it down, they trade just as many insults as they do punches.
    • Osborn's duel with the Hobgoblin in Goblin Nation began with him calling the latter a ripoff and them insulting each other over the absurd number of people who've worn their costumes.
  • So Proud of You: When he discovered his Healing Factor, Norman's first instinct was to raid one of his supply caches for his gear so that he could ambush Spider-Man right away, but when he saw that Harry had taken up his old persona to avenge him, he decided to forestall his retribution as he was impressed by what he perceived to be his son's newfound grit.
  • The Social Darwinist: Mostly seen in his Dark Reign and Thunderbolts days.
  • The Sociopath: Both Norman and the Goblin are remorseless murderers willing to kill a teenage girl to mess with their enemy, but Norman is better at hiding it. That's not the least of what he's done, either.
  • Split Personality: As his psychosis progressed he developed two personalities: the pragmatic businessman Norman Osborn and the theatrical maniac Green Goblin. At times the two seem to share control, but they just as often fight over who is in the driver's seat.
  • Split-Personality Takeover:
    • Throughout Thunderbolts and Dark Reign it was not a question of if the Green Goblin persona would take over Osborn, but when - helped along by the fact that his underlings kept sabotaging his anti-psychotic medication. The Goblin persona won out a couple of times, most importantly just before Iron Man KO'd him.
    • In some versions, notably the film and the 90's animated series, Norman is a relatively stable, friendly (if slightly stressed out) figure who is tormented by his alter-ego. In both these cases, the Goblin personality eventually takes over for good.
    • In the original comics written by Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and John Romita, Osborn was depicted as crooked, willing to frame his business partner for theft and have him arrested, but not sadistic and malicious the way he was later Retconned to be. It was only when his suppressed second personality and memory took over that he became the Green Goblin again. The problem for Spider-Man in their battles became how to defeat the Goblin without hurting him too badly or revealing Spidey's secret identity.
  • Status Quo Is God: No matter what Osborn gets himself into, he always comes back as the Green Goblin. Even as the Iron Pariot, it was revealed that he was working on upgraded Goblin Gear such as bat-like wings and a flaming sword - both of which were stolen by Phil Ulrich, who became the Hobgoblin - in anticipation of a comeback.
  • Superpower Meltdown: The messy result of his attempt to become a Super-Adaptoid.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Subverted. Played straight in the early stories when he got amnesia and lost his powers, but now his powers are permanent regardless of who is in control (though the Goblin has not actually been in control since he came back - although it succeeds in re-emerging just before Norman's defeat in Siege). It was in control for his entire run as the Goblin King in Superior Spider-Man, but seems to be gone for the time being with him being given a depower. More recently still, Norman has decided that he wants his Superpowered Evil Side back after all.
  • Super-Intelligence: Downplayed. The Goblin Serum was originally designed to be an intelligence booster. Too bad insanity comes with it.
  • Super-Strength: Thanks to the Goblin Serum. Not quite as high as Spider-Man or Hobgoblin, but still strong enough to go blow-for-blow with either of them.
  • The Symbiote: He steals the Carnage symbiote when it's separated from Cletus Kasady and uses it to become the Red Goblin.
  • Tautological Templar: Is willing to murder his own son for ratings... all for the Greater Good, of course. If he hadn't spent the last 50 odd years being a Mad Bomber and Diabolical Mastermind who shamelessly gloated about his selfish quest for money and power, and had an obsessive and homicidal grudge against a well known superhero that extended to everyone who shook the hero's hand because said hero didn't let Osborn murder him years ago so Osborn could get enough street cred to become the dominant crime lord of New York'd almost be inclined to believe him. During Dark Reign, he does things like turn Bruce Banner back into the Hulk and recruit a crew of dangerous "evil" mutants....because this is what is needed to stay in power so he can keep people safe from the likes of the Hulk and "the mutants."
  • Throw Down the Bomblet: His signature pumpkin bombs are jack o'lantern-themed grenades.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He is several magnitudes more dangerous, calculating and sadistic than he was in his early appearances since he came Back from the Dead. The main reason for this is that though Osborn survived being Hoist by His Own Petard back in the 1970's, The Goblin seems to have been largely suppressed. The result though was that Norman retained his memories as the Goblin for once and evolved into a much more rational psychopath who was able to take advantage of his considerable strength, intelligence and resources, and since he decided that Evil Tastes Good he now frequently Kicks The Dog For the Evulz. While forming the New Dark Avengers, he went to HYDRA to take part in their super-adaptoid program. He then goaded Luke Cage into attacking him, stole his super-strength, and then threw him out to sea.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: During the Lee-Romita era, the Norman part of him while burdened by amnesia and dreams, actually does try to be a decent Dad to Harry and has noble qualities. That part of him died with Gwen Stacy and he's been horrible since then.
  • The Trickster: Another thing he has in common with Spider-Man. Like the Joker, he's a violent version. A False Friend, a malingerer, a gaslighter, and a manipulative mastermind who flouts many social, personal, and political norms. He's also a Master of Disguise, someone who has taken multiple identities many times, and is known for being quite unpredictable.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In Sins Rising, Spider-Man helped save Norman's life from the Sin-Eater, who at the time possessed the power of the Juggernaut. In return, Norman still tries to kill Peter as soon as he sees an opportunity.
  • Villain Ball: He's a brilliant criminal mastermind and scientist who transforms into a cartoonishly homicidal berserker whenever the subject of his arch-nemesis is brought up suddenly or if Peter himself is within murdering distance.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Osborn's veneer of civility can only withstand so much, for so long.
  • Villainous Friendship: A Subverted Trope. During Dark Reign, Norman thinks he can establish these - at least on the level of "professional courtesy" - with the likes of the Loki, Namor, and Doctor Doom, but all of them end up betraying him for their own ends. Played Straight with the Void, of all entities which probably says a lot about Norman. He also gets along well enough with the Red Skull the one time they work together.
  • Villainous Legacy: He had this role for decades after he "died". He had killed Spider-Man's girlfriend and created a supervillain legacy that not only included his own son, but several goblin-based villains that plagued Spidey for years. Of course, since Death Is Cheap, Osborn is back these days.
  • Villainous Lineage: It's strongly implied egomania, violent rages, and a Never My Fault mentality run strongly among Osborn Men. Osborn's own father was an abusive drunk who squandered the family fortune and blamed everyone else for his failures according to Norman. Norman's ancestor and great-grandfather who established the family fortune was a ruthless Robber Baron.
  • Villains Out Shopping: One issue showed him attending the Bar With No Name chatting with some fellow Spider-Man villains about their recent brushes with the wallcrawler., only revealing his true identity when, after being asked how he knows Spider-Man, he cheerfully announces he killed his girlfriend.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Most of the time he presents himself as an ordinary citizen and businessman. Was arrested for crimes as Green Goblin and revealed to be a super-villain. Became popular again in Dark Reign. Even after being exposed for his villainy after the Dark Reign, he still managed to stir up public support with his charisma and publicity skills when he began a smear campaign against the Avengers.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: Ultimate Goblin can revert between human form and a hulking ogre-like monster.
  • We Can Rule Together: To Spidey, mainly in Raimi's movie but briefly in the comics.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: One What If? issue that crossed Dark Reign and Infinity had him conquering the world with the Infinity Gauntlet he rallied the villains into helping him assemble. He then decides to pull his father from the past into a living reenactment of the final battle so he could gloat about his success and earn his father's love for his accomplishments. It fails, his father calls hims a monster, and Osborn shuts him up by forcing him to love him, which turns him into a sycophantic cheerleader. Infinity comes into play when Thanos arrives to advise him that he both can't handle the power of the gauntlet and that deep down he realizes his father's love is insincere since he forced it. After obliterating Thanos, Osborn confronts his father over why he loves him and when he's unsatisfied with the answer, obliterates him from history. What happens next is predictably ironic.
  • Why Are You Not My Son?: He's obsessed with Peter Parker and views him as a more suitable successor and protege than his own son. During his more extreme "I need an heir!" moments, he's tried to ask Peter to become his son even after he finds out Peter is Spider-Man. Peter's response is usually the same.
  • Wolverine Publicity: Osborn getting upgraded from Spider-Man rogue (albeit, not just any rogue, but most hated Arch-Enemy) to general Marvel Universe Big Bad came about partially because of Marvel wanting to capitalize on Willem Dafoe's acclaimed performance in Spider-Man, which in turn brought the character to a whole new level of mainstream recognition than he had before.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In Fantastic Four: Dark Reign #4, Mr. Fantastic and Susan Storm's kids, Franklin and Valeria, try to hold off Osborn from inspecting the FF building and shutting the FF down while the FF are lost in time and space. What does Osborn do? He takes out his gun, and shoots straight at the kids without any hesitation. Thankfully, the whole FF gets back just in time to save their kids, and kick Osborn out.
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: His Goblin mask is usually drawn with yellow sclera, if not solid yellow eyes, emphasizing his maniacal personality. The Raimi movies replaced this with golden yellow lenses which made him look demonic especially in the scene where he attacks Aunt May.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: The version from the Silver Age of Marvel comics from the 1960s and 70s and most animated versions have the tendency to crack sadistic jokes.

Alternative Title(s): Green Goblin, Norman Osborn