Follow TV Tropes


Comic Book / Betty Ross

Go To

"Dad told me to forget Bruce Banner! But I could as soon forget my heart... or my soul!"
Betty Ross

Elizabeth "Betty" Ross is a Marvel Comics character, who originally appeared as a major supporting character in Incredible Hulk comics. She later became Brainwashed and Crazy supervillainess "Harpy", and then into an anti-heroine as "Red She-Hulk". She was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, her Harpy persona was created by Steve Englehart and Herb Trimpe, and her Red She-Hulk persona was created by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness. She was introduced into the Marvel Universe in The Incredible Hulk #1 (1962) as Betty Ross, The Incredible Hulk #168 (1973) as Harpy, Hulk vol. 2 #15 (2009) as Red She-Hulk, and Immortal Hulk #16 (2019) as Red Harpy.

Betty is Bruce Banner's first and most enduring Love Interest, and daughter of General Thunderbolt Ross, one of the Hulk's longtime foes. She's since been through almost as much trauma as Banner himself: she's married, and then divorced Glenn Talbot; been estranged from her father; been turned into the supervillainess Harpy by M.O.D.O.K.; nearly died of cancer given to her by the Abomination; and finally been turned into the Red She-Hulk by The Leader, who then forced her to fight against most of the heroes of Earth. Back in control of herself (but still empowered), Betty struggled to establish a new sense of self. She briefly had her own 10-issue series as Red She-Hulk that ran from December 2012 to September 2013.


Unfortunately, Doc Green (Hulk's new persona that's both super smart and strong) came to the conclusion that the world was in danger from Gamma Mutates, who thus needed to be depowered. After Doc Green depowered A-Bomb (Rick Jones) and Skaar, he also depowered Betty and she lost her power as Red She-Hulk.

Except this didn't stick. During the Immortal Hulk storyline, she was shot in the head by Bushwacker. She subsequently self-revived in a new Gamma Mutate form; a crimson-skinned and more-monstrous looking version of her ancient Harpy persona, nicknamed "Red Harpy" by the fans.


Betty Ross appears in:

Notable Comic Book appearances

Animated Series appearances

Live-Action Film appearances

Video Game appearances

Betty Ross provides examples of:

  • Absolute Cleavage: When she still had her Red She-Hulk power, Betty wore a black leather suit that exposes her cleavage.
  • Action Girl / Dark Action Girl: As Harpy and Red She-Hulk. In her normal form, Betty is moderately skilled in the use of small firearms.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: She's blonde in the 1996 animated series. This was a carryover from an actual dye job in the comics in the early 1990s.
  • Amazonian Beauty: As Red She-Hulk, and she also has a habit of getting her clothes torn.
  • Anti-Hero: As Red She-Hulk, after she's freed from The Leader's control.
  • Badass Family: Her lover is Hulk, her father is Red Hulk, and her paternal great-aunt is a Golden Age superheroine Golden Girl (Betsy Ross). There are also cousin-by-marriage She-Hulk, and step-children Skaar and Lyra. Betty also has a daughter, the benevolent mystical entity Daydream, due to being raped by Nightmare, but although the demon keeps up his creepy "children fathered through rape" tendency with Trauma and Dreamqueen, nobody has had an interest in reintroducing her yet.
  • Battle Couple: With Hulk as Red She-Hulk, sometimes.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The Leader had to do this to her in order to make her into a willing servant as Red She-Hulk.
  • BFS: As Red She-Hulk, she has a great sword named Savage Sword of She-Hulk, created by Iron Man and blessed by Odin.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: By MODOK when she was Harpy and The Leader early in her time as Red She-Hulk.
  • Break the Cutie: Several decades of being around Bruce and the Hulk, and therefore being a target for all the insanity therein, have done a severe number on Betty.
  • Brought Down to Normal: She has been depowered by Doc Green (Hulk) in Hulk vol.3 #8 after he decided Gamma-powered mutates are threats to the world. It didn't take. At least, not in the way he expected.
  • Catchphrase: As Red Harpy, she tends to say "this is me".
  • Comic Book Death: Actually died of cancer in the late 90s (Peter David had just come through a bad divorce). She stayed dead until 2009, when Jeph Loeb brought her back for Fall of the Hulks.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: Nightmare killed her and Bruce's unborn baby.
  • Cooldown Hug: Betty Ross can do this when the Hulk is especially irate.
  • Cruel to Be Kind: In her first outing as Red Harpy, she rips out a blinded Hulk's heart, having worked out this would kick-start his healing factor, which had been momentarily disabled. However, Devil Hulk makes it clear he doesn't forgive or forget.
  • Daddy's Girl: At first, but Ross eventually managed to shatter that bond.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: The biggest case in the whole Marvel universe. General Ross didn't think much of Bruce before the Hulk, and it's still not that clear which one he hates more.
  • Death Faked for You: Her father faked her death and put her on ice until somebody found a cure for her condition.
  • Distaff Counterpart: As Red She-Hulk, starts off as one to Red Hulk, right down to the Clueless Mystery over her identity.
  • The Dragon: As Harpy to MODOK and as Red She-Hulk to Leader.
  • Dying as Yourself: Just barely averted. When Skaar stabs Red She-Hulk Betty reverts to herself in time to die... only to be saved by Doc Samson.
  • Discard and Draw: Betty initially started out as a normal human love interest. Then she was mutated by MODOK into a Harpy-like gamma mutant who could fly and fire energy blasts. She was eventually cured. After being poisoned by the Abomination, Betty is revived by the Leader and MODOK as the Red She-Hulk and she is granted the same abilities as Hulk and She-Hulk as well as the ability to absorb energy like the Red Hulk. Bruce's "Doc Green" persona depowered her. As of Immortal Hulk, Betty now has a gamma form resembling the Harpy form but now red.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Being the Hulk's wife and the daughter of General Ross, this is a given.
  • Energy Absorption: As Red She-Hulk, she is able to absorb energy, such as radiation and power cosmic, to increase her power level, and can discharge energy by touch.
  • Evil Counterpart: Red She-Hulk was initially this to She-Hulk until Red She-Hulk is freed from the Leader's control.
  • Fanservice Pack: When she became Red She-Hulk, Betty became much more sexualized often suffering Clothing Damage and at one point having sex with the Hulk while a guy with a giant eye ball for a head watched.
  • Femme Fatalons: As Harpy, she had razor sharp talons which cut and tear through materials such as rock and metal, as well as carrying heavy objects.
  • First Girl Wins: She was Bruce's first canonical love interest, and the one that the writers will always come back to.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: As Red She-Hulk, her eye colour becomes glowing yellow. The same as Red Harpy.
  • Hand Blast: As Harpy, she could fire powerful concussion blasts from her hands; which were so powerful that she hurt and knocked-out the Hulk when they fought.
  • Harping on About Harpies: M.O.D.O.K. turned her into a Gamma-powered harpy once. After being shot in the head, she then resurrected as a crimson-skinned version of her original harpy person, thus combining her two Gamma Mutate identities into one.
  • Healing Factor: As Red She-Hulk, she is capable of rapidly regenerating injuries such as the severe injury after being impaled by Skaar's massive sword.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: As Red She-Hulk, she has pulled one of those in Incredible Hulk sagas "Super Spy Banner" and "Heart of the Monster". She's a Face for good in the end of "Heart of the Monster". And then she seemingly resumes Heel status after becoming Red Harpy.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: When she still had the Red She-Hulk power, Betty wore a black leather suit.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Actually fell for Glenn Talbot, a Jerkass at best, and a sociopathic Smug Snake at his worst.
  • Hot Scientist: In Ultimate Marvel, Hulk (2003), Marvel Cinematic Universe, and some other adaptations.
  • Ill Girl: When she got cancer after being poisoned by the Abomination.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: By Skaar. She got better (see Dying as Yourself above).
  • Lightning Bruiser: As a Gamma Mutate, she is both superhumanly strong and fast.
  • Love Cannot Overcome: Being in love with the emotionally withdrawn Bruce Banner is tough enough already, and she was often driven away by his Hulk alter ego.
    • Resurfaces again when she becomes the Red Harpy. After being killed again and coming back as the more monstrous Red Harpy, her primary thoughts was how she went from loving Bruce to their incredibly toxic relationship with each other. When they finally reunite she cuts out and eats a weakened Hulk's heart, despite Hulk begging for her aid. Only that turns out to be an attempt to help Hulk - tearing his heart out kick-starts his disabled healing factor. But she still makes it clear she's pissed at him. In fact, she later learns to control her transformation, but refuses to appear as anything other than Red Harpy to Bruce. Eventually, Bruce reaches his breaking point and demands she transform back. Betty attacks him for it.
  • Love Interest: Other girls come and go, but Betty is always Bruce's love interest. Even when married to Glenn Talbot, she confessed that she was unable to stop being in love with Bruce.
  • Love Triangle: First with Bruce and Talbot, then with Bruce and disposable love interest Ramon. Throw her and Bruce's alternate personalities into the mix, and things get even more complicated.
  • The Lost Lenore: Becomes one for Bruce until she's Back from the Dead.
  • Military Brat: She was the daughter of General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, and thusly has been immersed in military culture all her life.
  • Most Common Superpower: As Red She-Hulk, unsurprisingly.
  • Muggle: What she started off as, back in the '60s. Obviously, not so much these days.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: As Red She-Hulk her leather suit stretches to fit and regenerates from any Clothing Damage she accrues from battle.
  • Mythology Gag: The fact that she is the Ultimate Marvel version of She-Hulk could be seen as this, since she actually did spend a brief period of time as a gamma-empowered entity called the Harpy, which can basically be described as, well, She-Hulk as a harpy with the ability to fire energy blasts. She's also gone on to become the Red Hulk version of She-Hulk in the mainstream verse as well.
  • Nightmare Face: Red Harpy has a demonic face, glowing eyes, fangs, and an overly long tongue.
  • Odd Friendship: Curiously, while she's on the outs with Bruce, this doesn't apply to Joe Fixit (though this might have something to do with the fact Joe doesn't mind her Red Harpy form, unlike Bruce, who is incapable of handling the sight of it).
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: As Red Harpy, she slaughters a bunch of Fortean's "clean-up" squad sent to kill any witnesses to the new Abomination's rampage.
  • Properly Paranoid: Being around Bruce and her dad for so long means she's got some tricks up her sleeves, in case any of their enemies are watching her. This messes up General Fortean's attempts to spy on her and Bruce reuniting in Immortal Hulk (but also might have played a part in Bushwhacker accidentally shooting her in the head, rather than Bruce).
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Initially. She settles into Red Is Heroic eventually but still remains pretty violent.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: As Red Harpy, her eyes are solid red.
  • Resurrective Immortality: As of Immortal Hulk, turns out so long as the sun's down, she can't die.
  • The Rival: Her relationship with She-Hulk has progressed to this. They also act as Good Cop (Jen) and Bad Cop (Red) over in Incredible Hulks.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Averted. Betty almost killed the Red Hulk, only to realise he was her father and stop in time.
  • Skunk Stripe: Inverted as Red She-Hulk, she has black hair with two stripes of red hair running through it, enhancing her similarity to a demon.
  • Sleeves Are for Wimps: Her costume as Red She-Hulk is sleeveless.
  • Split Personality: The degree to which she retains control over Red She-Hulk varies a lot. Sometimes it's just an angrier Betty, while at others it is an entirely different persona whom she fears losing control over.
    • Red Harpy is vastly more malevolent and vicious than either Betty or Red She-Hulk. As seen when she massacres a bunch of mercenaries simply because she can (though it was in relational , and then rips out and eats the heart of a vulnerable Hulk.
      • Red Harpy appears to bring out the worse of Betty's bottled up emotions. She's aware she could have just disarmed the mercenaries, but killed them anyway because they killed an innocent civilian. While she tracked Bruce her primary thoughts was how toxic their relationship was and how in the end it has turned her into a monster. While her internal monologue has her state "this is me", she also treats Betty as a separate person in a conversation with Devil Hulk.
  • Split-Personality Takeover: A constant risk as Red She-Hulk.
  • Statuesque Stunner: As the seven-foot-tall Red She-Hulk.
  • Super Strength: When transformed into the Harpy. As Red She-Hulk her super strength goes off the charts.
  • Superhero Packing Heat: As Red She-Hulk, she was seen brandishing an automatic weapon.
  • Terse Talker: As Red Harpy, she only ever speaks in short sentences, usually seven words at most.
  • Tragic Monster: As a Gamma Mutate in general.
    • As Harpy: She was transformed against her will by M.O.D.O.K. into a mindless brute that he used as a living weapon.
    • As Red She-Hulk: The same thing happened to her again, only she was smart enough to realize she was being used as a puppet by the Leader.
    • As Red Harpy: She literally was shot in the head and then woke up in this new mutant form, which has a Split Personality that is far more monstrous and consciously evil than either of her previous forms.
  • True Love Is Boring: Bruce and Betty just can't be happy for long. Peter David did a worthy job of averting this for a while, but David eventually had a messy divorce from his wife, and Betty happened to be her favorite character. So... David later regretted his decision. Betty later came Back from the Dead, but she and Bruce are not back together yet.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Beneath her calmer exterior, Betty is nearly as repressed as her husband. When she turns into Red She-Hulk all that rage finally gets an outlet. Even more so as Red Harpy.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Odd case with Jennifer Walters. Betty gets along with Jen just fine. But when Betty turns into Red She-Hulk, they start trading insults back and forth.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: