As much as we love certain comic book characters as couples, sometimes they are just destined to fail. Whether their personalities clash, space and time separate them for eternity, or they are just plain toxic for one another, doomed lovers exist across the realms of Marvel, DC, Image Comics and beyond. No fandom is immune from love that is destined to fail, no matter how big, how perfect or even how popular that love may seem.
Comic writers are tasked with the arduous job of creating realistic stories readers can connect with, but sometimes they take sadistic pleasure in killing their darlings and crushing our souls in the process. From mortals who lose their hearts to gods to superheroes and villains attempting to make it work in between fighting and executing crime, examples of trainwreck relationships are not difficult to find. Here are the 18 Most Doomed Comic Book Love Stories.
18. Thor And Jane Foster
Who doesn’t love the Viking God of Thunder paired with the sharp doctor Jane Foster? They are even cute on camera when played by Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. Alas, as an Asgardian might say, the pair was simply not meant to be. While plenty of couples cite parental interference as a reason why they call it quits, Thor’s daddy issues really did a number on his relationship with Jane. Not only did Odin revoke Jane’s godlike power and immortality when she showed fear, but he also made sure that she forgot her time in Asgard and Thor himself. He also pushed Thor back towards his old flame, Sif.
To this day Odin hates Jane, even though he isn’t aware that she is the new Mighty Thor, the face behind the mask displayed on all of the wanted posters around Asgard. Should Jane survive being Thor (and her cancer), it would be even more difficult for her and Thor to pick up where they left off now.
17. Dick Grayson And Starfire
As many jokes as there are about Batman’s spandex-sporting sidekick, one might think that Robin could be a bit luckier in love. Sadly, Dick Grayson has had several bombed relationships that were doomed from the start. Although many fans rooted for him to stick with Starfire, the green-eyed princess from the planet Tamaran, the writers gave the two too many issues to make it work. Not only was Grayson confused about his feelings for Raven in The New Teen Titans, but Starfire pretty much encouraged him to have an open relationship with her due to her own alien customs. After a failed wedding and Dick himself admitting that he was not in love with her, they called it quits.
Bonus doomed relationship: when Grayson hooked up with Helena Wayne, AKA Huntress, in the alternate reality known as Earth-Two, fans could only cringe at the doomed partnership. Although they were not related, Grayson and Wayne were practically raised as siblings, making their coupledom weird at the very least.
16. Lucifer And Mazikeen
Spoiler alert: When you hook up with Satan, it’s bound to be a temporary thing. The guy’s got a short attention span what with his immortality and fleeting interests. In DC’s Sandman and Lucifer comics, the daughter of Lilith, Mazikeen, met Lucifer when she was just a child, making it creepy that they hooked up once she was grown. The fact that he had a brief relationship with her mother makes it even weirder. And as fierce and dedicated to him as Mazikeen proved to be, the Lilim left the devil when he refused to restore her perfect face back to its half-skull form (how dare he) following a confrontation. Although issues sometimes drive them apart, it’s obvious that if Lucifer cares for anyone, it’s Mazikeen.
Even if you’re his constant companion and loyal servant, the devil is going to leave you eventually. But hey, in the case of Lucifer and Mazikeen, at least he transferred his power and title to her before he left the universe at the end of the Lucifer series, telling her that it was their marriage.
15. Betty Ross And The Hulk
Jokes about the Incredible Hulk wandering the earth, doomed to be lonely forever may spawn from an actual incident in the comic Hulk: The End, where the Hulk did face such a fate. The sad reality is that he is tragically fated to remain alone forever even without the threat of nukes. He is just too “HULK SMASH” for a lasting relationship.
His instability was never clearer than in the Marvel Cinematic Universe film The Incredible Hulk, when Betty Ross attempted to rekindle their intimate relationship. Worried that he’d Hulk out on her, Bruce Banner broke off their encounter after his pulse raced and threatened to send him raging off into the wild green yonder.
Despite being Banner’s longest-running lover, Ross just isn’t monster enough to handle his transformations. Fans of the comic know that even during the couple’s wedding ceremony, which occurred after Banner had learned to control his powers, some nefarious meddling from one of the Hulk’s worst enemies resulted in yet another breakup as he lost control.
14. Yorick And 355
He is everyone’s favorite last man on earth. She is the stoic heroine sworn to protect him. What could go wrong? Well, Brian K. Vaughan is involved, for starters. Vaughan, like any good writer, is known for killing his darlings and in this case, it’s Agent 355. There are hints about her feelings for Yorick throughout the entire Y: The Last Man series, but between her brief affair with Dr. Allison Mann, Yorick’s child-producing fling, and his search for his long-lost love, Beth, the two never seemed to be able to make it click until the end of the series… when Vaughan decided to have her shot and killed after their first kiss.
It was the shot heard around the world for fans of the series. After waiting so long to see them click, it was the biggest disappointment fans could anticipate, especially after both of them had cheated death so many times already. Yorick was never the same afterward, possibly going mad even as he helped save the human race. Vaughan gave us a possible reprieve showing Yorick either remaining with 355 in the afterlife or simply enjoying his memories with the Culper Ring agent in the end.
13. Superman And Wonder Woman
On the surface, they’d be the perfect power couple–even if the Lois and Clark fans sob over the entire idea. But Superman and Wonder Woman are an ill-fated couple for several reasons. While critics rated the Superman/Wonder Woman series itself favorably, fans themselves often found the story uninteresting, maintaining that it was one-noted between such similar supers. Not to mention the fact that Wonder Woman was a solo star who was suddenly a romantic, supporting character for Superman!
Supes dropped the bomb, “I don’t know if I love you anymore,” on Diana after two years of dating, and while Wonder Woman fans may have seethed over anyone daring to say that to their goddess (How could anyone not love Wonder Woman?), most fans were pretty relieved. The two only managed to hook up in the first place, it seemed, because they had similar powers and worked together– a cliche of interoffice relationships to the extreme.
12. Black Canary And Green Arrow
When it comes to Black Canary and Green Arrow, Batman may approve, but many other people don’t. Besides, who takes advice from an emotionally unavailable playboy who can’t hold his own relationship down (see #10)? When it comes to this pairing, comic readers just want to call Black Canary up and tell her, “Honey, he is just bad for you. Leave his Robin Hood-wannabe butt.”
Why is Oliver so bad for her? Well, he attempted to murder her on their honeymoon and forced her to kill him, for starters. Okay, so that was an impostor Ollie, but what about when he went rogue, became a cold-blooded killer and left Dinah behind?
Even their first kiss was non-consensual (often an issue in comic books), and Dinah’s not without fault, either. The first time Oliver saved her life, she beat him up a bit for his male chauvinism. Even if they’re doomed to fail, DC has made it clear over the years that their failures will be a repetitive part of their universe as the couple call it quits, reunite, and break up over and over again.
11. Cyclops And Jean Grey
Cyclops and Jean Grey are the ultimate power couple, lasting through generations of X-Men fans. Like Frost wrote, “Nothing gold can stay,” and that goes for the golden couple of Marvel, too. Some people love to hate them together (even more love to hate Grey alone), and the number of times their relationship has failed only adds fuel to the fire.
First of all, they’re not great at being faithful to one another. They may be Xavier’s resident Girl and Boy Scouts, but between Jean’s dalliances with Wolverine (and, more recently, toying with Beast) and Scott’s infidelities with Emma Frost and Psylocke, they don’t seem to really prioritize each other.
They’ve both gone rogue and needed each other to step in before one of them annihilated everyone, and they’ve both lived through each other dying, but neither handled it very well. Jean turned to Logan for comfort when Cyclops returned to her, and Scott had a child with Madelyne Pryor (AKA Goblin Queen) only to drop them both to reunite with Jean once she came back from the dead.
10. Batman And Everyone
Batman’s new LEGO movie is centered around him adding people to his lonely life, and as entertaining as that’s sure to be, the fact remains that Bruce Wayne is one of the loneliest men in comics. He’s emotionally closed-off, stoic and unresponsive, making him the kind of guy women will either give up on or attempt to save until it drives them batty. It’s true: several love interests, from Talia al Ghul to Kathy Kane to the cyborg-turned Sasha Bordeaux, went nuts after having Bruce for a boyfriend. Women get murdered just for being in his life, too (fans still lament the loss of Silver St. Cloud).
No matter who Batman shacks up with, it never lasts. Even Catwoman, whom many fans believe to be his match, was not meant to be. He’s rejected her, stood her up, and inspired her to leave him and Gotham itself behind. Sure, they may sleep together now and then (and even have a kid together in alternative universes, like Earth-Two), but they may never truly get a happily ever after, as was implied in The Dark Knight Rises.
9. The Atom And Jean Loring
Oftentimes a relationship looks perfect on the outside, only for writers to slowly reveal just how messed up it really is behind closed doors. The Atom appeared to be content with his wife, Jean Loring, but marital strife came between the two of them in the banal yet too-familiar way it does with many couples: The Atom was simply away too often for Jean and she got lonely. She went all Superhero Bored Housewife and had an affair, creating a huge rift between the two of them.
To make matters worse, Jean attempted to reconcile with Ray Palmer in a terrible way– by murdering the family members of two other superheroes. Their doomed relationship ended on a note as final as you get in comics where people regularly return from the dead: Jean’s death, which was at the hands of the Atom himself. To be fair, it was after she had attempted to murder him first after being possessed during her stint at Arkham Asylum. Ah, those two crazy kids!
8. Jessica Jones And Ant Man
Jessica Jones and Ant Man weren’t well-suited from the get-go, and most fans are pretty happy about that since it freed her up to marry Luke Cage and have a baby with him. It was Luke’s baby, in fact, that ultimately broke Jessica and Scott Lang up. Scott only had to know that her baby wasn’t his to say, “See ya!” without even offering to try to make it work, which only pointed to the fact that he wasn’t in love with her. Before that, however, there were plenty of signs that they couple just wouldn’t make it, from their first date fiasco to their lack of chemistry.
Jones wasn’t really up to a relationship just yet anyway, as audiences have witnessed in her Marvel/Netflix series. She still had a lot of Purple Man baggage to wade through. A baby makes you grow up fast, however, and between her connection with Cage and Cage’s thrilled reaction to becoming a father, it was clear that Lang had never been the right choice for Jones.
7. Black Panther And Storm
They were the ultimate Marvel couple, but circumstances kept driving them apart until their relationship simply could not work. Like many of these doomed pairs, Storm and Black Panther are not one of the “worst” comic book couples ever written. On the contrary, they are often cited as a fan favorite.
Like many comic characters, Ororo Munroe and T’Challa have a couple of different origin stories, and even if their marriage itself was political, Marvel readers enjoyed the story of their young teen love where T’Challa asked her about her eyes softening when she looked at him and she admitted he could steal her heart. Unlike many couples, they actually celebrated a beautiful wedding, but their marriage only lasted a little over six years. When the Avengers combat the X-Men and Namor destorys Wakanda, T’Challa coldly annuls their marriage without warning, saying that Storm can stay with the X-Men for all he cares. Of course, later he tells her that she will always be his queen and she’d better not start seeing Wolverine again. A little late for you to have a say in that, T’Challa!
6. Daredevil And Karen Page (And Elektra)
Oh, Daredevil. You’re one tough cookie and Charlie Cox has given you so much more nuance on Netflix, but you’re a. Terrible. Boyfriend.
Daredevil is a jerk when it comes to girlfriend Elektra, distracting her to the point of getting her knifed in a fight, but he’s even worse when it comes to poor Karen Page. He constantly breaks promises to keep her safe, which could be chalked up to his mistakes, but he also pretty much disowned her.
Sure, sKaren left him first when she discovered his secret identity, opting for a film career that turned dark as she entered the world of prostitution and heroine addiction. But when she returned to inform him that she had AIDS, he judged her harshly and pushed her away hard.
When he finally forgave her, it was too late. Bullseye had already murdered her as she attempted to help Matt Murdock dispatch the villain. Murdock’s misogynistic ‘tude follows him around throughout his series but it was the way he treated the love of his life that really doomed the pair.
5. Quicksilver And Scarlet Witch
Most of these ill-fated relationships end due to general incompatibility, whether that is due to conflicts, family issues, politics, or other unfortunate events over which heroes often have very little control. Some of them, however, should never have even come to fruition in the first place, which is particularly true in the case of the twincest between Scarlet Witch and her twin, Quicksilver.
It’s one of those story lines that makes everyone’s jaws drop– particularly MCU fans who start reading Marvel comics. Super siblings as a couple? Marvel did run the plot line, however, and in The Ultimates 1, 2 and 3 it was confirmed by multiple characters (and a love scene told in shadowed silhouettes), that they shared a love more intimate than most brothers and sisters. It’s not the worst thing that either of them has ever done (we’re looking at you killing a bunch of your fellow mutants, Wanda!), but it ain’t exactly pretty among the pages, either.
4. Ant Man And Wasp
Domestic violence is a serious issue, even if it’s between fictional characters. In fact, portraying toxic relationships in art helps us identify, relate, and ultimately learn about the issue and how it impacts our own lives. In proving that even superheroes can have abusive relationships, writers further humanize them by demonstrating that their ethics and moral values are just as fallible as people without superhuman abilities. Case in point: Hank Pym and Janet Van Dyne.
Ant Man and the Wasp sound like a couple made in heaven, but in reality Hank resorted to abusing his wife, actually hitting her in the pages of a comic book. It wasn’t the first or last time that a man would hit a woman in a comic, but it wasn’t during a battle, either.
It was a complete domestic dispute during which Hank lost his temper with Janet, and it wasn’t the first time he exhibited a violent outburst. In fact, the pair married following Hanks’ mental breakdown, which was not a good idea. After the incident, they divorced.
3. Deadpool And Vanessa (And Everyone)
Deadpool often runs on pure id, which explains, at least in part, why his relationships often end in disaster. Take the whole Wade-and-Vanessa so many fans love to cite as the perfect relationship. There are even memes about it that are used to debunk the whole Joker-and-Harley-Quinn dynamic as a relationship goal (more about that later).
The problem is that fans of the MCU Deadpool don’t know that Vanessa, also known as Copycat, is a shape-shifting jerk of epic proportions. She not only seduces Pool in the guise of another woman he’s in love with (Marvel’s Siryn, who also breaks his heart) and poses as Domino to seduce Cable (for a loooong time), but that she also attempts to kill him multiple times.
To be fair, Wade has also attempted to kill Copycat, but the point is that it’s kind of hard for anyone to maintain a relationship with a mutant who literally looks (and smells) like death, let alone one who attracts murderous mates.
2. Silk Spectre And The Comedian
Talk about toxic. The next two couples don’t even warrant joking around because they are just that messed up. In Watchmen, Sally Jupiter, AKA the original Silk Spectre, is insecure to her core. That is the only explanation readers have for her going back to The Comedian after he rapes her.
Knowing how Eddie brutally attacked Sally in the comic (and yes, it was shown in a panel), fans who read the comic cheered for his death on screen in the 2009 film adaptation. Had it been the attack alone, a “relationship” would not even exist to be mentioned here. But after the rape, Sally consented to sleep with The Comedian on her own, resulting in the conception of her daughter. The entire assault was heinous enough, but just watching Sally’s subsequent decline made it even more painful. She never really gets over the experience, and once her daughter discovers the truth of her parentage, she, too, has trouble sleeping at night.
1. Harley Quinn And The Joker
Where to begin with the most dysfunctional couple in all comics? Fans of the Suicide Squad film who cheer for these two and say that they are “relationship goals” make fans of the comics (and the animated series) cringe. Let’s settle this once and for all: the Joker and Harley Quinn are not an ideal couple. They are the opposite of the ideal couple. They make the couples in Twilight look like healthy, perfect couples.
Dumping her in chemicals, torturing her, murdering her several times… take your pick of the foulest, most evil things a person can do to someone and the Joker’s done most of them to his main squeeze, Harley Quinn. If you think shoving your girlfriend out a window, torturing her to drive her insane or hanging her from chains and choking her (we’re not talking auto-erotic asphyxiation here, either, folks) just to prove that she’s loyal to you are healthy relationship goals, you’ve got much bigger problems than hoping that you and your bae turn out to be like the Joker and Harley Quinn.
Which comic book relationships are the antithesis of #relationshipgoals to you? Let us know in the comments.