In the DC Universe, killing is inevitable. Usually, the bloodshed is done by the hands of a villain, such as Ra’s al Ghul or Anti-Monitor, but sometimes, whether we like it or not, a superhero is the one who takes actions into his or her own hands.
Unfortunately, in those moments when a superhero resorts to violent acts, fans tend to personally feel the weight of their decisions. Why? Well, when we think of superheroes, we think of saviors. These saviors aren’t supposed to be like the Joker, who murders and tortures his victims and enemies in cold blood.
Saviors are supposed to defend the weak and make us feel safe. They’re supposed to seek all things good and strong morals against killing. Sadly, moral compasses don't always point the right way.
With that said, the amount or approximation of body counts that some of our beloved DC heroes have accumulated may surprise you. Whether these kills were for justice or not, blood has been shed and, although comic voodoo can bring characters back to life, it’s hard to erase the damage that's been done.
Because we can never forget, here are the of 15 DC Superheroes With The Highest Body Counts.
15 The Flash
If you’ve been keeping up with the third season of The Flash then you’ll know that Barry Allen has been fighting with some inner demons. To kill or not to kill Savitar? To strip the good from one’s self or to embrace the dark path of murder? The Flash may have avoided falling into that temptation on screen but he couldn’t help it in the comic book series.
In The Flash vol. 1, The Flash killed Professor Zoom to protect his then-fiancée, Beverly Lewis, aka Fiona Webb. This happened after Zoom murdered the love of his life, Iris West-Allen.
Although The Flash's body count is at one, for a superhero who is known for choosing to be good time and time again, this death proves that even the best of heart, have to make tough decisions.
It’s easy to assume that the former sidekick of the Green Arrow would struggle with lethal force in the same way as his mentor, and in some ways, he does.
Roy Harper was kicked down in his series Justice League: Rise of Arsenal. In issue #3, Arsenal beats a group of guys half to death to protect the corpse of a cat he believes to be his dead daughter Lian.
As the story continues, he goes on to brutally butcher Lester Buchinsky, the Electrocutioner. Of course, he had his reasons. The Electrocutioner had worked with Prometheus, another villain, to kill Lian, Arsenal's daughter.
This pushed Arsenal over the edge. Even the Green Arrow couldn’t stop him from walking down the path of dark vigilante justice.
The identity of Batgirl has been portrayed by many characters, but the one with the highest body count is Cassandra Cain. At an early age, her father David Cain trained her to become one of the world’s deadliest assassins.
When she was eight years old, she was ordered to assassinate a businessman for her training. Although she didn’t understand the concept of murder, she felt the weight of her actions and ran away from her father’s plans.
However, running didn’t stop her killer instincts. After all the good she did working for the Oracle and Batman, in Robin #150, Cassandra not only joined the League of Assassins, but also led them.
During this time, she claimed that she killed Nyssa al Ghul by car-bomb, murdered her father’s former students, and shot her father after urging Tim Drake to do so. While most fans have moved past this moment in her life, it’s hard to shake the thought that Cassandra Cain has this much blood on her hands.
It’s difficult to think of the Man of Steel as a killer, especially because he presents himself as a morally and virtuously sound guy-- he is our farm boy from Smallville, after all. Sadly, we have to accept the fact that the most popular superhero in the DC Universe isn’t perfect and, like with all superheroes, there are times when he'll have to make tough decisions.
Throughout both the comic and cinematic universe, Superman has taken quite a few lives. From defeating General Zod in the Man of Steel to carrying out the execution of three Kryptonian prisoners with the use of green Kryptonite, Superman has exceeded a high body count.
Let’s just hope, for the sake of his good heart and the sake of his son, the writers of the Rebirth series stick to his moral claims and continue to write him as the anti-killing, justice-for-them-all, stand up guy, we all know him to be.
Both the Jack Knight Starman and Mikaal Tomas Starman have had their run-ins with killing. Unlike Tomas, however, Knight took the lives that he did to protect himself.
During a battle in the air above Opal City, Knight reluctantly entered the fight and defeated his archenemy's son, Kyle. Fifty-seven issues later, Knight was once again thrown into a sticky situation and was forced to end Medphyll after his fall from the Green Lantern Corps.
While the original Starman has two kills to his name, Tomas has much more. We don’t have an exact number, but from his back story in Justice League of America #57, we can assume that Tomas took many lives on Talok III.
In his monologue, he confesses, “although I don’t want to admit it, I felt the thrill that comes with blood on my hands and I realize that I… That Mikaal Tomas, the last survivor of Talok III, is no better than any of his fallen people.”
10 Green Lantern Corps
The first Lantern on the list is Guy Gardner. Although he’s the type who avoids taking lives, in Green Lantern Corps vol. 2 #26, he shoots Sinestro Corps member Duel Eknham through the head.
So far, that’s one kill by a Green Lantern. However, another member, Hannu, has also killed a Sinestro Corps villain. Relying on his own strength, rather than the power of his ring, he punched and defeated Yellow powered Horku.
The Green Lantern who takes the largest body count is none other than Hal Jordan. In Green Lantern vol. 3, after being driven into madness, Hal Jordan goes on a rampage, entering the Central Power Battery and absorbing the green energy, annihilating his fellow Green Lanterns and the Guardians.
Of course, he redeemed himself later on, but can we really forget the fact that he was able to take down the entire Green Lantern Corps by himself?
9 Red Torpedo
The Red Torpedo made his appearance in Crack Comics when an intelligent engineer serving the U.S. Navy, James Lockhart, invented a one-man, high-speed, deep-diving submarine that he named the Red Torpedo. When the US military rejected to fund his creation, he and his fiancée privately built the super submarine their selves.
As the Red Torpedo, James Lockhart donned a red mask, took to his deep-diving creation and decimated two submarine crews and almost destroyed the whole crew of a battleship. He also demolished a third submarine crew in Crack Comics vol. 1 #3, yet another submarine crew, and even punched a man off a cliff.
If anything, James Lockhart took fighting for his country seriously, and he didn't have a no-kill policy stopping him from defeating the enemy. It’s a little frightening how much power this man was able to wield, but, in this universe, it was either defeat the Nazis or let them win.
8 Wonder Woman
The fierce Amazonian warrior princess may be an ambassador of peace with a kind heart and strong sense of candor, but, unlike her fellow Trinity members Superman and Batman, Wonder Woman doesn't have a no-kill policy.
Although she uses killing as a last resort, the option is never really off the table for her. Why? Well, if justice needs to be served, Wonder Woman serves it. She is not afraid to do what she thinks is best. Because of this, her body count is in the double digits.
From her latest appearance in the Wonder Woman movie to her comic book series, she has defeated super-powered Nazis, sliced Medusa’s head off, and even swung a sword through Batman’s chest in Superman/Batman #15.
Killing seems to be something that scars most superheroes, but Wonder Woman’s strong sense of self is probably what helps her shoulder the weight of it all.
Hawkman has done quite a bit of damage on his own. While his body count might not be nearly as high as the Green Arrow or Damian Wayne, he has slain all but one of the first dozen supervillains he has fought. These include Anton Hastor and Alexander the Great, along with a whole undersea civilization in the Flash Comics vol. 1 #9, and a handful of cronies and accomplices.
We wouldn’t call him a stone-cold killer, but, due to his reincarnation cycle, Hawkman does struggle with controlling his barbaric tendencies.
The winged hero, tragically fated to die, seems to be thrust into the kill-or-be-killed narrative, but, at the end of the day, it is his choice whether or not to walk with his violent side.
6 Doctor Fate
Doctor Fate, formerly known as Kent Nelson, is a powerful sorcerer. His mystic powers were granted by an ancient immortal, Nabu, from the planet Cilia. He was recruited by Nabu to serve the Lords of Order and aid in the battle against the Lords of Chaos.
From his battles, Doctor Fate has defeated many magicians under the Lords of Chaos, but he’s taken more than just a few mystical lives. In More Fun Comics vol. 1 #61, Fate found a planet of Globe men who planned on destroying the Earth with their weapons.
Instead of letting them execute their plans, Doctor Fate summoned the powers of Nabu and annihilated the entire planet. Add to that the undersea civilization he destroyed, and you've got a pretty high body count from Doctor Fate.
5 Jason Todd
Everyone in the Bat Family has a bit of an impulsive streak, but Jason Todd takes impulsive and lethal to the next level. After he was brought back to life following his vicious murder by the Joker, Todd decided to be a hero on his own terms and took up killing as a means of justice to spite the Bat Dad.
Todd took on the name Red Hood and infiltrated the highest grossing drug cartels in Gotham City. He brought down many drug dealers, addicts, and criminal gangs.
At one point, he used these criminal gangs to wage a war against the crime lord Black Mask. During this time, Todd’s body count rose past the hundreds. He may not have beaten out Damian’s count, but who’s keeping score?
Katana's samurai sword, Soultaker, traps the souls of those slain by its blade. Those who wield the blade can communicate with those trapped inside.
With that said, Soultaker has aided this master martial artist in many fights. From defeating Takeo in Gotham to assisting in few anti-hero battles with the Suicide Squad, Katana and Soultaker have taken the lives of many, and it makes sense. The sword is great for mystical interrogations. Is it ethical? No, but it gets the job done.
It’s not that Katana, the former Bird of Prey, is unfeeling and murderous. It’s more like she’s analytical and is confident that her kills are used wisely. She knows Soultaker will give her the information she needs, so when she takes a life, she makes sure it’s one that counts.
3 Damian Wayne
Damian was raised by Talia al Ghul and the League of Assassins. Prior to being introduced to his father, Bryce Wayne, Talia sent him off on a quest known as the Year of Blood.
During this Year, Damian stole priceless artifacts, wiped out entire species, and learned how to be an unfeeling murderer. At ten years old, Damian killed hundreds and hundreds of lives and, after his Year of Blood, when he joined forces with the Batman, he killed some more.
Why? Because it was hard to stop cold turkey. He didn't understand the concept of mercy, which his mother never taught him.
Damian’s story is that of redemption. Yes, he has done awful things, but he's definitely making up for them as the new Robin.
If you don’t already know, Batman is pretty firm when it comes to his no-kill policy. When Damian was impaled by Talia al Ghul’s creation, the Heretic, Batman wasn’t the one to take the Heretic’s or Talia’s lives. He just doesn’t kill anymore.
However, prior to that era in the comic series and even now in the cinematic universe, Batman has broken his no-kill rule. From the Detective Comics to the Batman v Superman film, the Dark Knight has shot down and tortured many.
He has punched a man into an acid vat, burned criminals alive, and even shot Darkseid with a Radion Bullet. These are only a few instances, but with the comics and Tim Burton films combined, he’s probably taken hundreds of lives and it’s evident that he carries the weight of those deaths, hence his anti-killing rule.
1 The Green Arrow
The superhero with the most blood on his hands is the Green Arrow. From the comic books to the TV series, vigilante billionaire, Oliver Queen struggles with using lethal force more so than other DC heroes. For the most part, he lives with the choices he makes.
In his first published appearance in Much Fun Comics #73, Green Arrow takes the life of Ezra Samson. From then on, killing becomes a recurring theme in the his narrative. He has his moments of redemption, but writers seem to enjoy making him battle with violence.
In just the first season of Arrow, 135 people were killed. That’s a lot of people. Although the numbers decrease with each season, he still takes many lives, and this seems to be something that other DC heroes are trying to disassociate themselves from.
Can you think of any other DC superheroes with high body counts? Let us know in the comments!