Follow TV Tropes


Death Is Cheap / Comic Books

Go To

Comic books: The foremost purveyor of Death Is Cheap in media.

When it comes to mainstream comics, nobody believes in death anymore. Marvel and DC spend most of their time assuring us over and over that the characters they killed off are dead FOR REALLY REAL THIS TIME, YOU GUYS! No one ever believes them. For example, no matter how many times the Marvel editors stated outright that Captain America wouldn't be coming back, most fans were just making wagers on how long it would take. Turns out it's about a year. As the old saying goes, "Nobody stays dead except Bucky, Uncle Ben, and Jason Todd." Of course, since that saying was coined, all three characters found themselves resurrected (though for Uncle Ben it wasn't permanent). In fact, It's arguable that Bucky and Todd have since become even more well-known and prominent than they ever were pre-death. Uncle Ben is joined by fellow comic-book luminaries Thomas and Martha Wayne (unless you count Flashpoint). It seems that Death by Origin Story is the last plank that comics writers - at least, where the Big Two are concerned - will even remotely respect anymore. Though it's important to mention that other comic companies tend to use this trope far less when compared to the big two.

The following have their own pages:

     Other Publishers 
  • Defied by 2000 AD: One of the issues the staff had with contemporary comics was the prevalence of this trope, and they set out as a ground rule that resurrection does not happen, unless it is a key component of the character (a vampiric character, for example, would be an exception, as would a character with regenerative immortality as part of their power set). While this rule hasn't remained completely inviolate over 35 years of publishing, for the most part it has been followed, and several beloved characters have ended up permanently and irrevocably dead.
  • The old Image comic Bloodstrike was about a very iron age series about a government sponsored team of psychopathic heroes whose corpses could be brought back to life by some kind of Applied Phlebotinum. Naturally, this was an excuse to turn the comic's Bloodier and Gorier quotient up to eleven, as the characters got to die in obscenely violent ways again and again and again.
  • In The Boys, the stuff that gives people super powers can even resurrect them from the dead... but not in a good way.
  • Subverted in ElfQuest. When One-Eye is killed, Leetah manages to revive him, more or less. When his lifemate learns that his breathing, living body is just an empty shell, she has it put in wrapstuff for magical suspended animation and swears to protect it until his soul (which is hanging around) returns to it. Eventually she comes to terms with the fact that he does not want to come back, frees the body, and lets it die.
  • In Invincible the appropriately named Immortal always comes back after dying. Aside from that, though dead = DEAD. The only other characters to come back had some obvious way for readers to see that they might not have actually kicked the bucket.
  • Though it doesn't display it as much as Marvel or DC, Les Légendaires makes a heavy use of this trope as well: the titular protagonists got all killed at least twice each ones of them, but they always are resurrected at the end of the arc, whether it's through an Eldritch Abomination's doing, Time Reset, reincarnation... in a surprising subversion of the trope, however, the Legendaries' Arch-Enemy Darkhell was actually Killed Off for Real.
  • Love and Capes lampshades the frequency of the trope in comics; when a member of the book's superteam is killed, there's a procedure for inspecting that body to make sure it's really that person and they're really entirely dead. In this case, the character really is dead—though even then, the other characters allow for the possibility that he might come back in some unforeseen way.
  • Notably averted in Paperinik New Adventures, in the case of droids: if a droid has taken too much damage, their personality can never be recovered. It is possible to build another droid with the same appearance and base personality, but it's negatively portrayed, since you'd be treating an irreplaceable person as if they were an easily replaceable object.
  • In Pocket God, the pygmies can resurrect from any death thanks to the powers of their Gem of Life. Unfortunately for them, they die often.
  • Star Wars: Dark Empire: It turns out Boba Fett survived being devoured by the Sarlacc, and Palpatine survived his death from Return of the Jedi, transferring his consciousness to a clone.
  • Too Much Coffee Man: Lampshaded in the origin of Too Much Coffee Man. A person undergoes an overly elaborate origin story, and appears to die. The narrator informs us No One Could Survive That!. And he was correct.
  • Happens every now and then in The Transformers (Marvel). Optimus Prime himself manages to die three times in the original run. And that's not counting all the near-misses, fake-outs, faked deaths and nasty injuries everyone else gets. Heck, at one point several characters get disassembled right down to their component parts, but a few hours of repair later, and they're completely fine. Of course, given that this was one of the early Transformers mediums some of the rules of their 'biology' hadn't been made up yet, so bringing a dead Transformer back usually just required getting the necessary parts.
  • Interesting exception in comic aimed for children: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures from Archie had several characters killed during its run. When the Mighty Mutanimals were killed off prior to a certain major story arc, they stayed dead. Not even their notable popularity among readers would bring them back. The scene of them in Hell was fortunately just an illusion conjured up by a villain. The same applied to all dead characters. (Hitler's brain was surprisingly resilient, though.)
  • Vampirella: Dynamite stopped to bother with counting or explanations. She's a vampiress, you can expect that she comes back, right?