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Hello fellow Tropers who are reading this:

My Life Through Tropes:

What I wish I could be:

What I Wish I could have:

Creator of the following pages:

DR (DT), Leviathans, Ogdru Jahad, Father (FMA), DG (GG), Angels (NGE), Shub-Niggurath + Nyarlathotep, MIB, DM (Jak & Daxter), Aku, Ungoliant (LOTR), Rake, Slenderman (13)

ÀÇÎÑÜĐÉŠØ- Uchūbitostan

  • Sc H A P
  • Darth Wiki/ Yes These Tropes Deserve To Die
  • Progressive Fallacy
  • Arthur Godfrey Effect
  • Bring on the Hate

    Comic Books 
DC: Image:
  • And don’t get us started on the bulk of the “New 52” relaunch, which seemed to largely consist of the ailing DC realizing that “comics sold well during the nineties, eh? Eh?” and so flooding the market with questionable anatomy and grimdark storytelling. There have also been some comparisons of with the early days of Image Comics — which may be something to be expected when you've got Image co-founders Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld working for you.
    • In particular, Superman is far more angsty and brooding than he was in the old continuity, and most of the superheroes seem to be far more violent as well.
    • During Grant Morrison's run on Action Comics, in one alternate universe Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen created a device that would allow the user to create a super powered Tulpa. They wanted to create The Cape, however the executives thought this trope would have more wide-market appeal, and deliberately attempted to invoke it. It didn't go quite right though.
      • Except this is exactly what the executive who stole the idea from them wanted, to create a ridiculously over-the-top parody of Superman to kill him with, being as he was a demon from the 5th Dimension with a major grudge against the Man of Steel.
  • Superman and Batman got Anti-Hero Substitutes. For Superman, it was the Eradicator, one of the four replacement Supermen who appeared after he died. For Batman, it was Jean-Paul Valley, the man formerly (at the time), known as Azrael, who replaced him after Bane broke his back. Nightwing chewed Bruce out over it and Bruce himself admits it was one of his worse mistakes.
    • Interestingly, both the Eradicator and Azrael are portrayed as being examples of this trope being bad. The Eradicator found himself being lauded by Guy Gardner, which made him question things, and chewed out by Lois Lane and Steel for using the S-Shield and causing death and destruction in its name. Azrael, especially his time as Batman, was made as a Take That! towards those who wanted Batman to act more like The Punisher. They got it and when he took his first life, everyone agreed that Bruce is the better Batman and Azrael needed to go.
    • In Jean-Paul Valley's case, it should be pointed out that while he was an unfavorable deconstruction, but he was also written as a sympathetic deconstruction in that he is shown to suffer from mental illness from his brutal upbringing by the Order of St. Dumas' Program rather than being a Tautological Templar Jerkass like many other examples of this archetype were. From the moment after he meets and befriends psychiatrist Brian Bryan, Valley becomes more of reconstruction of the trope.
  • Superman himself became this in the Else World story Superman: At Earth's End.
  • Likewise, another Batman-related character in The DCU, Jason Todd (Batman's second Robin) has been a Nineties Anti Hero type ever since he came Back from the Dead. Amusingly, he was absent for the entire decade.
  • Aquaman became a version of this in The '90s and lasting until Infinite Crisis. He grew his beard out to adopt a Father Neptune look, and lost one of his hands and had it replaced first by a hook and then by a form-changing magical water-hand. He also adopted a more aggressive attitude on behalf of Atlantis. These changes were actually very well-received by much of the DCU's fanbase, and is considered an implementation of this trope that actually worked, as the goal of Peter David's revamp was to essentially rescue Aquaman from the scrappy heap that Superfriends had left him in. Unfortunately, years later much of the general public is still unaware of the revamp, and still picture poor Arthur as he was in Superfriends. (One thing that saved Aquaman from the negative qualities of the 90s anti-hero is that the book was often funny and while he might have had more of an edge, he didn't take himself too seriously either. Because, you know, Peter David.)
  • The Authority represent an entire Justice League of Nineties Anti-Heroes. They are, however, unusually idealistic for their kind, as part of their remit is to "make the world a better place". Their methods, however, seem to involve copious amounts of ultra-graphic violence (no Thou Shalt Not Kill for them), ruthless cynicism towards their enemies, and disdain for opposing points of view — they once overthrew the government of the United States.
  • Black Adam: He was never this in the original Fawcett owned Captain Marvel comics, but under DC's revival has sometimes portrayed as this archetype, being someone who has joined and fought alongside the Justice League as many times as joining battles against the league, depending on whether which side benefits his own goal to regain the power of Shazam from Billy Batson to enact justice as he sees fit.
  • During the early '90s, Bloodlines, one of the most loathed Crisis Crossover to hit The DCU, produced a glut of Nineties Anti Heroes, few of whom lasted more than a couple years, including Gunfire, Mongrel, Razorsharp, Edge, Shadowstryke, etc., etc. Probably the only one to be remembered fondly is Hitman, a, well, super-powered hitman, who alternated between being a paragon of the trope and a clever send-up.
    • Hitman also blatantly parodies this trope when Tommy encounters Nightfist, a Batman ripoff who takes out drug dealers with a pair of giant metal fists (which he wears over his normal fists) and then steals their drugs.
    • Ironically, the Bloodline character now most remembered as a Nineties Anti Hero, Gunfire, was actually a subversion. He had the name, the appearance (tacky armor, green goggles, and a ponytail mullet), and the powers (the ridiculous ability to turn any object into a gun), the actual character turned out to be an old-school Reluctant Hero who rescues bystanders and fanboys over the Justice League. Naturally enough, Hitman still parodied him with a future version who accidentally shoots himself with a med pack and then turns his own ass into a hand grenade.
  • In 1994, DC turned Doctor Fate into an Anti-Hero named Fate who was a grave robber and had melted Dr. Fate's helmet into a knife.
  • Around 1994, Guy Gardner, a roughnecked, "macho" member of the Green Lantern Corps, was reinvented as "Warrior," with ridiculously huge muscles, tattoos all over his body, and the ability to form his arms into any kind of weapon he could think of, mainly gargantuan guns. Rumor has it that the reinvention was the result of writer Beau Smith writing the pitch as a joke and accidentally having it approved. He eventually reverted to his old (but still roughnecked) Green Lantern persona after the fad played itself out.
  • Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, was in part a savage denouncement of Nineties Anti Heroes, and was one of the things that caused the changeover from the Dark Age to the Modern Age. One of the themes of the comic was the classic generation of superheroes fighting the violent "modern" heroes. Of course, the "classic" heroes shared some of the blame as well; many became just-as-violent Knight Templars attempting to deal with it. The "face" of the anti-heroes, Magog, is practically every Dark Age stereotype rolled into one cybernetic, sacrilegious package (though Waid and Ross admitted a certain fondness for him due to how over-the-top he was). In a brilliant twist of idealism, Magog realizes how screwed up he is, turns himself in, renounces violence, and is one of the people left alive at the end; in the prose novelization of the story, he becomes the Dean of Students at Paradise Island!
    • Magog himself was able to pull a Canon Immigrant, and was introduced in the Main DCU in a JSA storyline. In 2009 he got his own solo series, which is something of an Affectionate Parody of the old school Nineties Anti-Hero. His Rogues Gallery includes an insane homeless man with mind control powers and a silver haired woman who talks like a 1980s valley girl.
  • Lobo was created to parody this sort of character, even though he came out of the early 80s. Later played straight at times after he got a lot of Misaimed Fandom popularity.
  • The late eighties and early nineties had the Teen Titans sister team, the "Team Titans," who were this to the point that one of them took to calling himself Deathwing.
    • Though that probably doesn't count since adopting the Deathwing identity marked the character's descent into villainy.


  • The second-tier Marvel superheroes Darkhawk and Sleepwalker, both of whom had their heyday in the early 1990s, are arguably subversions of this trope. While they have strange and bizarre appearances, neither one was especially dark in their tone, at least compared to titles like Spawn, or the other characters that exemplify the Nineties Anti Hero. Darkhawk was about a kid who followed in his policeman father's footsteps by fighting crime with the mysterious alien armor he had obtained, while simultaneously keeping his Nuclear Family from falling apart. Sleepwalker was about an alien from another dimension that became trapped in a human's mind and manifested to fight crime while he was asleep, carrying on the similar role he had carried in his home world. There were, both in the letter columns of the old Sleepwalker comics and more recent web postings, positive responses from fans who liked the fact that Sleepwalker wasn't a violent antihero.
    • Darkhawk is actually an interesting case of this, as he at one point finds a journal of his father's, the last entry stopping with him and his partner preparing to go in pursuit of a hit-and-run driver before seeking medical attention for his victim. Chris refers back to this several times to remind himself to take a harder edge, before discovering the journal had a stuck page, in which his father hesitates, calls an ambulance, and makes sure the old woman who was hit survives.

  • A strange example is Deathlok the Demolisher, who was created well over two decades before the heyday of the trope. Each of the various version of Deathlok have very 90's Anti-Hero traits to them: he is always a dead man resurrected as a cyborg (cyborgs being common in 90's comics), and turned into an unliving cybernetic weapon that uses huge guns as it's primary method of offense. Usually however the plot often involves Deathlok's unwillingness to succumb to his programming and kill wantonly, instead struggling to non-lethally dispatch his foes.
  • Ghost Rider: The various holders of the mantle have had varying degrees of this with most having Demonic/Infernal derived powers received via a Deal with the Devil (Actually Mephisto, but you get the point) and leather clad biker outfits, complete with chains and spikes. The most blatantly exaggerated example is Vengeance who can see here.
  • At the end of the "Omega Effect" The Punisher/Daredevil crossover, Daredevil defies and deconstructs this to Frank Castle's partner, Rachel Cole.
    Rachel: You know what gives me strength? My loss. We're alike that way, I imagine. Admit it: nobody who's a stranger to that particular pain could ever be as driven as us.
    Matt: Never... *throws one of his sticks at a wall so hard behind her it plants in it* ... Don't you ever say that to me again. That is a repellent statement. It is a vomitous insult to every cop — every fireman — every soldier alive who steps up to fight for those who can't! I am sorry for your loss! But if you genuinely believe that only the death of a loved one can motivate a human being to take up a cause... then get your pathetic, cynical ass out of my way so I can do my job!
  • Penance in the Marvel Universe, originally the happy-go-lucky character Speedball, is a strange version of this. After believing himself responsible for the death of 612 people in Civil War, he designs a costume in dark colors designed to give himself constant pain with 612 spikes. This was intended seriously, but having happened long after the 1990s, is treated like a parody in most of his appearances outside Thunderbolts.
  • Speaking of The Punisher, he definitely fits this trope when written by certain authors. He's vacillated between a somewhat reasonable vigilante fully willing to abide by other heroes no-killing rules during team-ups, to an frothing lunatic who'll murder jaywalkers (retconned into being due to drugs he was exposed to without his knowledge), to being a serial killer who uses his family's deaths as a justification for the endless war he wages to sate his bloodlust.
  • Spider-Man:
    • Venom. First there was the "black suit" Spider-Man, basically a Nineties Anti-Hero before his time, caused by an alien symbiote bonding to him. He later removes the symbiote, and it bonds to another man, becoming Venom, basically an Evil Spider-Man. That would have all been well and good, except Venom proved to be something of an Ensemble Dark Horse, and entered his peak of popularity during the peak of the Nineties Anti-Hero's popularity, and thus Venom was given his own Comic and re-worked into one. Then they have Venom's Symbiote give birth to a second one, which bonded with a Serial Killer to become Carnage, an evil(er) Venom. This opened the floodgates. Venom's symbiote gave birth to 4 more Symbiotes, but these fused into a single one which bonded with a police officer to become another Nineties Anti-Hero Hybrid, meanwhile Carnage's Symbiote gives birth to yet another symbiote which bonded with another police officer to become yet another Nineties Anti-Hero called Toxin. Since then, however, the original Venom symbiote has exchanged hands a few times and and its current host is a normal Anti-Hero.
    • Kaine. Seriously, just look at him. (At least he was salvaged in Spider-Girl.) And in the 2012 Scarlet Spider comic series written by Chris Yost, Kaine is now trying to be more of a traditional super-hero and move away from the Nineties Anti-Hero motif altogether.
    • Morbius. Edgy leather gimp suit, magical demonic powers, slaughtering bad guys by the dozen, less moping and more badass-itude and even more exaggerated 90's villains to fight with... Only aversion might be that the 90's comic made him more generic handsome.
    • The entire plot of Superior Spider-Man sees Doc Ock stealing Peter Parker's body and using it to become a darker, more "badass" version of Spidey. He even has a black and red costume that was originally designed by Alex Ross for the first movie (since Movie Superheroes Wear Black). The entire thing is a bit of an Idiot Plot, since it requires all of Spider-Man's friends and teammates somehow not realizing that Peter Parker has been replaced. But like Azrael was to Batman, it ends up being a deconstruction; as Doc Ock slowly loses control over the situation until he's forced to concede that Peter Parker is, in fact, the "superior" hero.
    • Spider-Girl has April Parker, that is simply a jerk version of main protagonist with the powers of Venom. She fits this trope perfectly, right to the point that a woman she once saved from bandits run away, because she is more violent than they. Oh, and she killed Tombstone too.
    • One of Spider-Man's lesser villains, Cardiac, was one of these.
  • The "Winter Soldier" mega-arc by Ed Brubaker in Captain America subverts a lot of these tropes. When Cap's sidekick Comic Book/Bucky|Barnes turned out to be Not Quite Dead after all, he was revived as a brainwashed assassin with a cyborg arm; it could have been really stupid, but it wasn't. Then, when Bucky took over as Captain America, he seemed poised to be a Grim And Gritty alternative to the more traditional model, with much made of him carrying a gun — however, Bucky almost never uses the gun, and in fact tries overcome his past and be a more traditional superhero.
  • The X-Men has featured plenty of these:
    • Cable, of the New Mutants, X-Force, and the X-Men was a major Trope Codifier. Tragic and mysterious past? Check. BFGs coming out the ass? Check. A "Badass" look that used to be reserved for villains? Check. His first appearance was even in 1990. Over time, though, he's been developed into a more heroic/complex character, somewhere between Messianic Archetype and A God Am I.
      • According to the rec.arts.comics.marvel.xbooks FAQ, Rob Liefeld originally designed him as a villain, but later reused the original design when he was asked to create a "New Leader".
      • Cable's leadership was also a catalyst in giving the existing members of the New Mutants a 90's Anti-Hero look, even though many of them did not have the personality traits.
      • Not long after Cable's introduction, Liefeld followed up with Feral and Shatterstar, who were basically 90's Anti-Hero expies of Wolfsbane and Longshot respectively.
    • Cyclops, of the X-Men, had his personality largely unchanged, but despite having been nicknamed "Slim" his whole life suddenly developed a chest that pro wrestlers would find intimidating.
      • His personality has changed later though. During Grant Morrison's New X-Men and especially after he became pretty much Nineties Anti-Hero despite the fact that it started in 2003.
    • Deadpool (created by none other than Liefeld himself) started out as a villain, then moved into Anti-Hero territory, and when a non-Liefield writer got a hold of him became more of an Affectionate Parody.
  • Wolverine went from being a complicated, interesting character in the 80's to "stabby stabby stabby!" in the 90's. It took "Enemy of the State" and "Wolverine: Origin" stories to restore his former glory.
  • There's an obscure X-Men character named "Random", who started out as a recurring character for the second incarnation of X-Factor and can turn his arm into a gun. In Generation Hope #15, Pixie calls him "Johnny '90s". What's generally forgotten in later appearances is that Random is a shapeshifter who was actually a 13-year-old kid when first introduced, and took the form of a muscular giant with gun-arms because it's what he thought a badass was supposed to look like.


  • Image Comics specialized in these for as long as the fad lasted:
    • Spawn, quite possibly the most popular Nineties Anti-Hero. Edgy one-word name, grim-n-gritty backstory (an assassinated mercenary damned to Hell and sent back as a soldier of Satan), killing bad guys who were slightly worse than him, and written and drawn by Todd McFarlane.
      • Spawn is a very interesting example, as a lot of effort is put into humanizing him and he comes off as a far better character than the average Nineties Anti-Hero. But then, being around for a while tends to do that.
      • The first issue of Spawn also had a little parody of the tropes common appearance. Entertainment TV Talking Heads commenting that while the spikes and chains are "totally gauche", trying to bring back capes is a bad idea.
      • The Chase Lawlyer version of Manhunter from DC and Nightwatch from Marvel, both of whom were rather shameless rip-offs of Spawn.
    • The Darkness and Witchblade both exemplified this trope. The former is a former mafia hitman who becomes a living vessel of the world's dark energies, complete with an army of flippant, happy-go-lucky demons who delight in every opportunity to torture someone; the second is a pornolicious detective with powers both lethal and which rip her clothes off whenever she uses them.
      • The former, however, is a Reconstruction of this trope, since he's much more subtle and complex than many other examples.
    • Youngblood, Rob Liefeld's Magnum Opus. What this implies about Liefeld's abilities is for the reader to decide.
  • Shadowhawk was an Image Comics title about a successful, scrupulously honest African-American attorney who refused to fix a case for an organized crime outfit and, in revenge, was kidnapped by them and dumped after being given an injection of the AIDS virus... which prompted him, in a fit of rage and desire to try and make some sense out of the world, to don exoskeletal armor and start brutalizing thugs as a vaguely Batmanish vigilante. The suits got more and more elaborate as the disease took its toll, to help compensate for his weakness, but he ended up dying of the disease anyway. Apparently even series creator Jim Valentino hated the character, and killed him off purely out of spite. Why he even bothered with the whole affair in the first place is anyone's guess. That may be why the second Shadowhawk ended up so... different.
  • Comic Book/Supreme, who eventually moved from a Nineties Anti-Hero ripoff of Superman into an affectionate homage to the Silver Age Superman (largely because Alan Moore took control of the character).


  • Pretty much everyone in Dark Age arc of Astro City, as one might expect in a deconstruction of The Dark Age of Comic Books. There is also lampshading aplenty. There is a notable subversion in the character of Hellhound who, despite having the demonic background, monstrous appearance, torn leather and chains costume and "edgy" name, is actually a Noble Demon, and a respected ally of the local Captain America and Spider-Man expies.
  • The Doctor Who Magazine comic introduced a full-blown Nineties Anti Hero to the Doctor Who universe in the shape of Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer. He's a "chainsword"-loving professional criminal and multiple murderer who was exiled by a future Earth society to a Dalek-occupied world to kill as many Daleks as possible before his inevitable death (although he turned out to be Badass enough to survive). Of course, he first appeared in 1980 and in some ways was a deconstruction, so could be considered an Unbuilt Trope.
  • Doom has the Doomguy going around and punching and/or shooting things...just because. He's also borderline psychopathic.
  • Holy Terror: As one of the individuals who influenced the Dark Age of Comics, it was the natural evolution of Frank Miller that he would eventually create a Dark Age Anti-Hero of his own in the form of "The Fixer". He is a Blood Knight so psychopathic that even the darkest iterations of Batman (of which he is a Captain Ersatz), including even those by Miller himself, would seem saintly by comparison. This is demonstrated with The Fixer's slaughter of the Al-Qaeda cell in the underground of Empire City with a multitude of guns, ranging from pistols to bazookas, as well as a chemical weapon of some sort (and yes, you read correctly). Granted, while the setting tries to justify his methods in that he is fighting a Terrorist group who is orchestrating an act of war rather than the typical mobsters and other criminals that would be the purview of the Justice system to try and punish,note  but this comic's portrayal of Al-Qaeda, and Islam in general for that matter, is so cartoonishly over the top that it resembles something out of a Chick Tracts, thus ultimately detracting from the serious message that is supposed to be expressed, thus unintentionally reminding audiences why this archetype fell out of favor in the first place and could possibly end Miller's own career.
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac parodied both the male and female versions of this trope in one of its "Meanwhile" stories.
  • Lady Death: She is a Stripperific Dark Action Girl with a BFS who coincidentally first appeared in print in 1991.
  • Marshal Law is an Anti-Hero who specializes in hunting heroes, though as he always says, "I haven't found any yet."
  • Joe Martin did a Deconstructive Parody of this in the one-shot comic book, Boffo in Hell, starring the two main characters from his newspaper comic strip, Mister Boffo (although everyone and everything except these two were drawn in a more-realistic, superhero style); the title was a reference to Spawn. In it, the government suspects that people are mean and violent because of self-esteem issues. As an experiment, they take a bunch of psychotics, give them a bunch of super-powers so that they'll feel "special" and then have them do community service among the public. Needless to say, it doesn't go as they planned. Earl Boffo, the dim-witted title character, winds up gaining super-powers of his own (with a Spawn-like appearance to match) and - completely by accident - manages to subdue and kill the murderous anti-heroes.
  • After Dark Empire revealed that Boba Fett survived falling into the Sarlacc, Fett was given various one-shots and miniseries and basically acted like the Star Wars equivalent of this.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were originally like this: later versions made them more unambiguously heroic and less feral.
  • Valiant Comics had a number of Nineties Anti Heroes.
    • Bloodshot: Mobster Angelo Mortalli was framed by the Carboni crime family, forcing him to become a witness for the state. While under Federal protection, Mortalli was betrayed by his protectors and sold to Hideyoshi Iwatsu to become a test subject for Project Rising Spirit.
    • H.A.R.D. Corps: A group of Vietnam veterans who where revived from comas by a corporation who fits them with brain implants that give them psionic powers, and explodes if they're killed, or caught. One of them dies in every other issue, so they're always being replaced.
  • Warrior Nun Areala: "Shotgun" Mary Delacroix, who was created specifically to complement the protagonist Shannon Masters. Though Delacroix has many elements that other examples of the archetype (as can be read and seen here) such as her disdain for authority (particularly the Catholic Church for its disapproval of homosexuality) and her preference for guns (with blessed bullets) to fight demons and other supernatural threats, she is a Lighter and Softer downplayed example and also a mild subversion in that she is more a Knight In Sour Armor rather than an Unscrupulous Hero In Name Only like others on this list.
  • In the Dark Horse Comics superhero line Comics Greatest World, X filled this role. He was at least willing to give you one warning, a vertical slash across the face. If the X across your face or an image of your face was completed, however, he killed you. No exceptions. He was willing to do whatever it took to cleanse the city of Arcadia of its crime and corruption.
  • The Tick: Big Shot, who also appeared in the animated series, was originally introduced as a one-off character in the comic as someone hanging out at the vigilante table in the superhero club. While other vigilantes had complicated backstories, Big Shot's reasons for being a gun-wielding vigilante? "I just like to kill people."


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