Blinded as a child by an overturned truck hauling toxic waste, young Matt Murdock soon discovered that, while he could no longer see, his other senses were enhanced to superhuman levels.
Trained by the mysterious Stick, Matt sought revenge on the men that killed his father, before taking up the mantle of Daredevil, defending his home turf of Hell’s Kitchen from criminals and ninjas, as well as supervillains and monsters.
As a continuous member of Marvel’s roster since his debut in the 1960s, Daredevil hit the wider mainstream with the infamous Ben Affleck movie in 2003, and more recently – and more popularly – Charlie Cox’s turn on the Netflix series, where Daredevil will be seen as a part of The Defenders later this week.
Famous for his Catholic guilt and his staunch refusal to kill his enemies – not to mention his ability to steal from Spider-Man’s rogues gallery – Daredevil has remained one of the most popular comic book characters for years, with several stints by Frank Miller that have gone down in history as some of the best written books of all time.
Miller’s also the one who made Daredevil one of the more brooding and conflicted superheroes, for reasons that are about to become clear...
Here are the 16 Worst Things Daredevil Has Ever Done.
The Purple Children – the Purple Man’s offspring from all his mind-controlled rape victims – are a relatively recent addition to the Daredevil canon, but are easily some of the creepiest characters in Marvel history.
Brought together by Zebediah Killgrave because he was sick of telling people how to act and wanted children immune to his powers that would love him unconditionally, the kids immediately order Purple Man to walk in front of a train. Then they decide to go on a tear around San Francisco, causing no end of problems for Daredevil, as he tries to get a fresh start in a new city.
Eventually, the Purple Man – not dead after all – rounds up his children and exacts his revenge. Before all is completely lost, Daredevil comes to the rescue, stopping Killgrave and separating the kids, neutralizing their powers.
Before they split up for good, though, DD gets the Purple Children to use their powers to create a psychic blind spot around him, making it impossible for anyone to realize his secret identity unless he tells them directly.
Having ended up in Hell, Daredevil returns topside worse for wear, gets into a fight with Captain America, and then loses his memory completely. Bullseye encounters DD on a rooftop shortly afterward, where he discovers that Matt Murdock now thinks he’s Jack Murdock, Matt’s dad. Sensing an opportunity for mayhem, Bullseye politely asks Matt/Jack for the costume he’s still wearing, he easily obliges, and, bam, Bullseye’s now Daredevil.
Trying to discredit the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, Bullseye starts robbing banks and generally acting like a tool. Only he ends up tossing the stolen money at random people, becoming a modern day Robin Hood, thereby making Daredevil even more popular than ever. Kingpin calls him an idiot, so Bullseye doubles down on the evil-doing, raping a woman and beating up all kinds of people, including a judge.
Always a few cards short of a full deck, Bullseye starts to forget who he really is, at which point a memory-restored Daredevil puts on Bullseye’s costume, goads him into a fight, and then starts messing with his mind just for kicks, before pulling a Bugs Bunny and tossing the villain off a roof (and not for the last time).
“Battling Jack” Murdock was a washed-up boxer turned mob heavy, collecting on debts in order to provide for his son. Eventually, Jack ends up back in the ring, only, unbeknownst to him, the mob is fixing all his fights. Soon enough, it’s his turn to take a dive.
Not wanting to disappoint Matt, who’s sitting in the audience that night, Jack refuses to throw the fight and gets murdered for it hours later. If Matt hadn’t been there that night, his dad might still be alive.
But, OK, maybe that wasn’t strictly Daredevil’s fault. But you know what he definitely did? Hunt down and brutally attack his dad’s murderers, killing two people along the way.
After beating the crap out of two goons, Matt chases the head criminal, the Fixer, into a subway. The mere sight of a feral Matt Murdock causes the guy to have a heart attack and die, right there. Matt does not call an ambulance.
Continuing his rampage, Matt accidentally shoves a hooker out a window and kills her, scarring him and stopping his vengeance spree cold. She’s later revealed to have survived and become the villain Typhoid Mary, but, still, not exactly a win.
Franklin Percy "Foggy" Nelson is Matt Murdock's best friend and, more often than not, his law partner. Debuting in Daredevil #1 in 1964 and currently being played by Elden Henson in the Netflix MCU, Foggy has been a steady and reliable presence in Matt’s life for decades.
Which is precisely why people keep trying to kill him to get to Daredevil – occasionally successfully.
Shortly after Kingpin reveals Daredevil’s identity to the world, Matt Murdock ends up in jail. Foggy goes to visit him, only to be ambushed by several inmates and stabbed to death. Psych-- Foggy didn’t actually die, he just got perforated and put into Witness Protection.
Almost too similarly, after Daredevil’s identity was revealed a second time, Matt and Foggy fake his death, again, to keep him safe from all of Daredevil’s enemies. This apparently includes Leapfrog, who kidnaps Foggy, then gets grabbed by Daredevil, then reveals that his mech-suit is a bomb. Foggy blows himself up and saves the day, dying a hero, assuming “dying” means not dying and disappearing with the help of Ant-Man.
And, of course, that’s not even counting the times Foggy was singled out by Elektra and Bullseye and Vulture...
A fun-loving socialite and the daughter of wealthy industrialist Maxwell Glenn, Heather Glenn became romantically involved with Matt Murdock, with the two even engaged at one point.
Unfortunately for everyone, though, Heather’s dad was up to some shady stuff – courtesy of the Purple Man – and, despite Daredevil’s best efforts, could not be exonerated. Unable to face the shame of going to jail, Maxwell killed himself. Heather, unaware of Killgrave’s influence, blamed Daredevil.
Imagine her surprise when she discovered who was underneath that mask.
Somehow the two managed to talk things out, though the relationship was never the same. Heather became an alcoholic – even dumping Daredevil for Tony Stark at one point – while Matt was sick of cleaning up after her. Instead of finding her help, though, he just kind of ignored her.
One night, after Heather calls him, Matt arrives at her apartment and finds her passed out. She wakes up, then starts immediately starts drinking again, confessing that she’s lonely and desperate and just wants to talk to Matt. So, obviously, Daredevil bounces to go fight crime.
Foggy later finds her body hanging from the ceiling fan the next morning.
Daredevil’s made more than a few questionable decisions regarding his costume, but the most egregious of them all had to be his pointy shoulder pad ensemble from the ‘90s.
Debuting in Daredevil #321 in 1993, the costume-- the first change in DD’s signature red tights since issue #7-- was immediately met with criticism and scorn by fans.
Despite only lasting about twenty issues, and despite an armored suit actually making sense for the perpetually bleeding Matt Murdock, the costume has gone down in history as one of the worst costume changes ever made. It is even up there with Superman’s ill-conceived lightning outfit. Even artists who liked the look admitted it was impossible to draw without looking ridiculous.
The costume was so bad, in fact, that the most current Daredevil run actually made fun of it, during a Purple Man-induced meeting of the Daredevils in Daredevil #19, with the original yellow-and-black DD tackling the ‘90s version as soon as he says the word “extreme.” Good call, dude.
We’ve previously mentioned that a lot of the older Marvel movies were hot garbage, and 1989’s made-for-television The Trial of the Incredible Hulk was no exception. This, unfortunately, was also Daredevil’s live-action debut.
Made seven years after The Incredible Hulk series wrapped, the film was the second of three TV movies that tried to reinvigorate the franchise, each one doing worse than the one before. Trial finds Banner on the run once again, accidentally Hulking out to stop a crime, and then being mistakenly arrested for said crime.
Blind lawyer Matt Murdock takes up his defense, the two learn each other’s secrets, before going off to fight Kingpin (John Rhys-Davies) and his goons. The titular “trial” only occurs in one of Banner’s dreams.
The hope had been that Daredevil would be able to spin-off into his own show, but that, obviously, did not happen. The film is notable for a few things, however.
For one, Trial introduced Daredevil’s all black get-up to the world, four years before Frank Miller’s The Man Without Fear. Secondly, this was the first time Stan Lee cameoed in a Marvel movie, a practice that will, presumably, continue until the heat-death of the universe.
In the early 2000s, Matt Murdock was involved with Milla Donovan, a blind woman he rescued, romanced, and then married in secret. Daredevil had also declared himself “the New Kingpin,” after the old one was blinded and sent to prison. Oh, and everyone knew that Daredevil and Matt Murdock were the same person.
With all this hanging over his head, it’s not surprising that, despite his best efforts, Daredevil couldn’t keep the criminal underground under control. In short order, he (and Milla) were attacked by the Yakuza, then Typhoid Mary, and then Bullseye – who was going for the trifecta in killing Matt’s significant others. An increasingly paranoid Milla, worried that Matt was not really in love with her, annulled the marriage.
After a couple more assassination attempts and a brief stint in prison, Matt and a slowly unraveling Milla got back together, only for Milla to push an innocent civilian in front of a train, the end result of Mister Fear slowly breaking her mind – something he did specifically to mess with Daredevil.
Milla ended up committed and Matt Murdock, determined to be the root of all of her problems, was denied visitation rights.
Look, a lot of superheroes have ended up in some free giveaway comic, espousing the dangers of land mines or drunk driving or whatever. Daredevil is no exception.
So what awful malady of society did he get to advise against? Handguns? Heroin? Improper toxic waste disposal? Nope. Daredevil was here to talk to the youth about gasoline fumes.
Specifically, Daredevil’s Very Special Issue laid out in gory and disturbing detail the hazards of cleaning with gasoline. You see, using gasoline to clean floors could result in gasoline vapors filling the building, which, in turn, could lead to a gas vapor witch named Vapora chanting things like “dieDIEpainPAINdieDIEpainPAIN” before burning down the building and sending little girls to the hospital.
Keeping folks from accidentally suffocating or exploding is always a noble goal, but this comic came out in 1993 and cleaning with gasoline hasn’t been an actual issue since the 1940s.
John Romita Jr. and Frank Miller’s Daredevil: The Man Without Fear miniseries in 1993 was an instant classic, cementing Matt Murdock’s backstory as one of tragedy and unending pain. For many people, this version of Daredevil’s origin is the one and only, despite any retcons saying otherwise.
Netflix’s Daredevil took more than a few pages from Man Without Fear, often literally, with some shots mirroring the comic exactly. One thing they didn’t copy, though, was the time Matt Murdock tortured a classmate for bullying Foggy Nelson.
You see, some d-bag named Brad was riding Foggy pretty hard for being overweight, so, one night, Matt Murdock drags the kid from his dorm to teach him a lesson. All that the reader was shown was Brad naked, tied up, and face-first in the snow, but the narrator filled in the rest: someone dangled him off a rooftop by his ankle, before leaving him out in the Boston winter all night.
Whether intentionally or not, this was kind of the thesis statement for Miller’s Daredevil: He’s a great friend, but, man, you do not want to cross him.
Hoping to turn the Hand into a force for justice, Daredevil takes over and builds Shadowland, a temple/prison in the heart of Hell’s Kitchen. Daredevil’s first act as head of the Hand? To brutally kill Bullseye, stabbing him through the chest with a sai, the same way he’d killed Elektra years earlier.
New York’s other heroes get wind of this and realize something’s wrong with their buddy – except for White Tiger, that is, who thinks DD’s onto something with this whole “murder your enemies” thing.
Daredevil starts sending out factions of the Hand to kill biker gangs and mafiosos, almost killing Ben Urich along the way, before just outright putting a hit on Moon Knight.
With Kingpin and Elektra now on their side, the rest of the heroes – including Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Spider-Man – finally realize that Daredevil’s been possessed by the Beast of the Hand and decide to put a stop to things once and for all.
They all get their butts whooped, but, eventually, just before DD’s able to kill Foggy, Iron Fist is able to punch the demon out of Daredevil. For good measure, Matt kills himself before the Beast can return. Obviously, he got better.
One of Daredevil’s defining traits is that he doesn’t kill people. There are, however, several exceptions to that rule.
In Daredevil: The Man Without Fear Matt Murdock left a trail of dead bodies behind him. In addition to accidentally manslaughtering Typhoid Mary and sending the Fixer into cardiac arrest, he straight-up murdered three people: He drowned and exploded two goons in the river, then deflected one of Larks’ bullets right back through his head.
During the “Born Again” storyline, Daredevil shot down a helicopter with a grenade launcher, a fiery explosion that left no survivors.
On the TV side of things, Netflix’s Daredevil set Nobu on fire, fully expecting him to die and not yet aware that the Hand would resurrect him. He also threw a guy off a roof and put him in a coma, something that even actor Charlie Cox says was a lucky break during an attempted homicide.
Speaking of attempted murder, in Punisher #3 Daredevil also tried to shoot the Punisher, fully expecting to kill him in the process-- though that one’s really on Frank Castle.
Karen Page was just your average, bright-eyed girl from Vermont, moving to New York to live up life in the big city... then she met Matt Murdock.
One of the very first things he did was get her father killed. Paxton Page was test-driving a turn as the villain Death’s Head, got into a fight with Daredevil, tried to dump molten cobalt on him, only to relent at the last moment and kill himself instead.
Daredevil decides this is the perfect time to reveal his own secret identity to Karen.
Knowing Matt’s secret pushes Karen over the edge and she flees to California to become an actress in a soap opera, then an actress in a bunch of porn. She also becomes addicted to heroin for good measure.
Later, after dating and leaving Matt several times because he’s no good for her, she finds out that she’s HIV positive, returns to New York to tell Matt, then finds out that the diagnosis was a lie perpetrated by Mysterio because he really wanted to screw with Daredevil’s head.
Then, like, ten minutes later, Bullseye, aiming for DD, throws a billy club through her chest, killing her.
Kevin Smith’s "Guardian Devil" storyline was a tough one for Daredevil. In addition to Karen Page dying and Foggy being framed for murder, DD found himself in a literal crisis of faith, trying to decide whether a newborn baby dumped on his doorstep was a demon or the messiah, and what both of those answers would mean to both him and Catholicism on the whole.
In the end, Matt decides that the baby’s the Antichrist and decides to throw her – and himself – off a roof to save the world. Black Widow rolls up, tells him to stop being stupid, and also that she loves him (they were an item back in the day, even co-headlining his comic at one point), so he kicks her in the face.
After a short fight with Widow face down on the rooftop, Daredevil jumps with the baby, before changing his mind halfway to the pavement.
In the next issue Doctor Strange reveals that DD was actually being poisoned by a cross necklace and therefore not in his right mind, so he gives the baby up for adoption, and, presumably, apologizes for knocking out Black Widow.
In Daredevil #181, the Man Without Fear gets into it with Bullseye, eventually throwing the villain off the roof of a building – because there is nothing Daredevil loves more than throwing a guy off a building.
Anyway, Bullseye ends up a quadriplegic, which should be the end of the story. But, no, Daredevil’s concerned that Bullseye hasn’t suffered enough. Ten issues later, in the Frank Miller penned #191, DD breaks into Bullseye’s hospital room and begins playing Russian roulette with him, simultaneously talking himself through an identity crisis. After pulling the trigger five times, Daredevil points the gun in Bullseye’s face, his monologue talking about how much he wishes he could kill his enemies.
He pulls the trigger.
The gun ends up being unloaded and Daredevil leaves still feeling like a hero, but... wow. Throwing someone off a roof, heck, even killing someone is bad, but torturing a paralyzed man in his hospital bed? That’s messed up.
Daredevil’s killed people and tortured people and ruined his loved one’s lives, generally stretching the definition of the word “hero” until it was almost meaningless. So what’s the worst thing that he’s done?
Have you seen the Elektra movie?
Ben Affleck’s Daredevil wasn’t good by any stretch, but the Director’s Cut has its defenders. The semi-sequel Elektra on the other hand? Man, we’re lucky they still made comic book movies after that. We’re lucky they still made any movies after that.
Elektra is poorly acted, poorly written, poorly filmed, and poorly paced. The product placement is egregious. The martial arts scene are, somehow, worse than the ones in Iron Fist. There’s a scene where Elektra tries to fight a sheet and loses.
Like everything else on this list, Elektra never would have happened if it wasn’t for Daredevil, and he should feel ashamed of himself.
Can you think of any other worst things that Daredevil has done? Let us know in the comments!