Superheroes may have started in comic books, but it’s on the big and silver screen that they reach the biggest audience today. Thanks to film, television series and video games, superheroes are more popular than ever and even obscure characters like The Atom and Elektra are known and loved by the general audience.
While superhero TV series may date back to the 1940s with certain black-and-white serials, there’s never been a time quite like the present in terms of how much superhero content is readily available for fans to consume.
Thanks to networks like the CW and streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu, audiences can watch a different superhero TV show each night of the week and still have more content left over. Sometimes, certain shows start strong or weak and slowly change as the stories progress and different characters come into their own. More often than not, the end of certain key or supporting characters ruins a show’s potential and takes away from what made the series special. Luckily, there are also a few tragic ends that made certain superhero shows better!
Turn off the TV and come read about 9 Character Demises That Hurt Superhero Shows (And 6 That Saved Them)!
15. Ruined: Claire Bennet – Heroes Reborn
There are a lot of things that went wrong with the original Heroes series. A promising look at a world full of unique people with abilities and mysterious figures who hunt them down, the series ultimately fell apart after the first season due to poor storylines as a result of the writer’s strike in 2007-2008.
In 2015, the series returned for a 13 episode limited series that would serve as a reintroduction to the world. New characters were mixed with old favorites, and the Bennet family were at the center of things once again.
In the original series, Clare Bennet played a central role and the tagline “Save the cheerleader, save the world,” defined the show until its end. Unfortunately, Heroes Reborn follows her adopted father on a hunt to discover how Clare perished and the answer is so stupid it ruins the entire series.
14. Saved: Vandal Savage – Legends of Tomorrow
Out of all the current DC television shows, Legends of Tomorrow can get away with telling the craziest stories. An ensemble story that deals with time travel and intergalactic threats, the series follows a rag-tag group of the Arrowverse’s finest heroes and villains who are assembled by Rip Hunter to help him save the universe.
One of the foes the team needed to take down was Vandal Savage. The villain is an ancient Egyptian priest named Hath-Set who fiends for power and has no problem tricking people around him.
While the character has an interesting backstory, Casper Crump’s performance and the clunky writing around the ageless character were a drag on the series.
After the central team turned the character mortal and took him out at three moments in history simultaneously, Vandal Savage’s boring time on the series finally came to an end and the team was able to get onto more interesting storylines.
13. Ruined: Cottonmouth – Luke Cage
One of the biggest things Luke Cage had going for it going in was the supporting cast. Maherasha Ali, who ended up winning a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role in Moonlight the same year, plays the charming, corrupt businessman Cornell Stokes.
Also known as Cottonmouth, Stokes is the owner of New York nightclub and uses it to run a criminal empire. As a kid he grew up wanting to be a pianist, but he ended up taking after the mob boss aunt who raised him and set his sights on controlling Harlem.
A smooth, sophisticated character who had great potential for some long-time storylines, Cottonmouth was taken out halfway through the first season. Without him, the show dipped further into schlocky territory and lost a lot of the wit and charm that made the first half of the season so entertaining.
12. Saved: Tommy Merlyn – Arrow
The show may have a few soap opera qualities, but Arrow’s early seasons are some of the best recent superhero television. After Oliver Queen returns from his shipwrecked period on the island, he tries his best to embrace the old life that he lived. Part of that meant rekindling his relationship with his life-long best friend Tommy Merlyn.
Unbeknownst to Oliver, Tommy has actually begun dating Ollie’s ex-girlfriend, Laurel Lance. Even though they all claim to be fine with the arrangement, it’s clear Tommy slowly grows more uncomfortable as the three of them become close again. To make him even more annoying, he’s a spoiled brat who only learns responsibility after being cut off by his father.
Tommy perishing during the Everglades Earthquake not only motivated Oliver to be a better hero but it forced his father to become a bigger part in his daughter’s life, making for some interesting stories in future episodes.
11. Ruined: Lionel Luthor – Smallville
Before Arrow launched the new wave of superhero shows, Smallville blazed a storm for live-action adaptions of comic book characters. Blessed with one of the biggest budgets of a TV show at the time, the series followed a young Clark Kent as he grew up in Smallville and learned the lessons necessary to one day become Superman.
One of the most interesting aspects of the show was Clark’s relationship with the Luthor family. Not only was Lex Luthor involved, but his father Lionel was also a key character in the show.
Played by John Glover, Lionel transforms throughout the course of the series from an evil man who desperately tries to uncover the secrets of the blur to someone who would do anything to protect Clark’s secret from his own son. While the writing around the character dipped in later years, losing Lionel in the seventh season was a huge blow to the series.
10. Ruined: Fish Mooney- Gotham
Gotham, a quasi-Batman origin story that stars Jim Gordon and a pint-sized, crime-solving Bruce Wayne, has a lot of weird qualities. Dripping in soap-opera plot points and cheesy characters, the show has a unique charm that has allowed the ongoing show to survive for four seasons.
One of the series’ strongest assets was original character Fish Mooney, played by Jada Pinkett Smith.
Fish is a crime boss who is associated with the Falcone family but has her sights set on dominating the city herself. The only thing in her way is the pesky newcomer Oswald Cobbelpot and the Gotham City Police department, but Fish remains cool and collected even against difficult odds.
9. Saved: Henry Allen – The Flash
It seems like being a superhero means losing your father. When Barry Allen was a young child, his mother was viciously and mysteriously murdered in-front of him, and since no one gives another explanation his father Henry is blamed.
Locked up in a penitentiary, Henry kept a relationship with his son over the years and Barry continues to fight for his release.
After a freak accident, Barry develops the ability to run at the speed of light. As his powers develop, he realizes he can travel through time and considers visiting the night of his mother’s demise. Afraid of the consequences, Barry puts off the decision and only changes his mind after his father is killed.
Having his father stripped away from him finally gives Barry the motivation to alter the past, a decision that pushes the show into adapting the alternate timeline story Flashpoint that served as an interesting, temporary reboot of the whole Arrowverse.
8. Ruined: Professor Stein – Legends of Tomorrow
One half of the superhero Firestorm, Professor Martin Stein s a physicist for S.T.A.R. Labs. On the night of the particle accelerator explosion that gave Barry Allen his powers in The Flash, he and Ronnie Raymond fused together and became the nuclear powered superhero. Ultimately, he and Ronnie are able to separate, but Stein continues to serve as Firestorm alongside Jefferson Jackson moving forward.
When Rip Hunter approaches them to join his team of time-traveling heroes, they both jump at the opportunity and join the squad. The scientist was a bit too happy to play around with time, but ultimately he was an interesting, serious addition to a fun-filled, schlocky show.
7. Ruined: Curtis – Misfits
Misfits is a British series that starts off by following five young criminals who all develop abilities after a freak electrical storm hits their town.
Curtis Donovan, a former athlete with dreams of going to the Olympics gets sentenced to community service after being caught with illegal substance, a decision that he severely regrets. His unique ability ends up being that he can rewind time and alter things, but only when he feels extreme regret.
When the show finally eliminates Curtis in the fourth series, he became the last original cast member to leave the show.
6. Saved: Jonathan Kent – Smallville
Similar to how Lex Luthor’s father is key part of Smallville, Clark’s Pa himself plays an instrumental role. A hard-working, loving individual, Jonathan Kent will do anything for his wife and son. His positive values and disciplined work ethic inspire Clark to become a force for good.
The death of Pa Kent is a key part of the Superman mythos that further isolates Clark from the rest of the world. His father was one of the only people who truly loved him, and now he has to manage without him.
In the fifth season of the series, Jonathan wins a senatorial election and then immediately has a heart attack during an altercation with Lionel. While he appears as a spirit at various moments throughout the rest of the series, his death pushes Clark forward in the second half of the series as he makes his heroism more publicly known.
5. Ruined: Eric Koenig – Agents of Shield
While Patton Oswalt’s Eric Koenig didn’t appear in too many episodes of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., his presence was an extremely positive one for the show.
A top-level agent with three identical siblings who are also spies, Eric is one of the few people aware that Nick Fury is still alive, Koenig was a dedicated S.H.I.E.L.D. office who tries his best to root out the HYDRA influence. He’s based on a comic book character who was one of Fury’s original Howling Commandos and served as a pilot during WWII.
Unfortunately, Eric was killed by Ward after the audience discovers he is a double agent. While Eric’s death pushes the show forward into a full-blown battle against HYDRA, losing him as a supporting character was a big blow for the series.
4. Saved: Laurel Lance-Arrow
Over the CW series’ six seasons, Arrow has accumulated quite a few clunky characters. The series is a good mix of character drama and superhero action, but sometimes certain characters overstay their welcome.
Laurel Lance is a public servant in Star City who has a complicated relationship with Oliver Queen. Played by Katie Cassidy, Laurel means well and wants to help people, but ultimately feels like a one-dimensional character throughout most of the series.
After the death of her sister, who is actually still alive and saving the universe on Legends of Tomorrow, Laurel took up vigilantism and became the new Black Canary. Since she doesn’t have powers and is only trained in boxing, Laurel was stabbed and killed by Damien Darhk after he escapes from prison. Losing his lifelong friend pushes Oliver into an even darker place as he continues serving Star City as Green Arrow.
3. Ruined: Livewire- Supergirl
Livewire is a well-established Superman villain, but the character’s mythos were changed to become a part of the Supergirl TV show.
As a talk radio host for CatCo Media, everything is going fine for Leslie Willis until she starts using her platform to spew out anti-Supergirl rhetoric. Not only does Metropolis get tired of hearing her opinions, but her boss Cat Grant transfers her to do helicopter reports to stop her from voicing her opinion. After being saved by Supergirl during a freak storm, Leslie is struck by lightning and sent into a coma.
Upon waking up, she discovers that she has powers and decides to enact revenge on her former boss. The character was an interesting foe for Supergirl and makes a deadly team alongside the sonic powered Silver Banshee. Unfortunately, she sacrificed herself to save Supergirl and gave her redemptive arc an early finish.
2. Saved: Alexandra Reid – The Defenders
When Sigourney Weaver was first announced as the villain in the first-ever Marvel, Netflix series The Defenders, fans hit the internet trying to figure out everything they could about Alexandra Reid.
Seemingly centuries old, Alexandra is a leader in the Hand and a shrewd businesswoman in New York City who wants to help further the global organization’s nefarious plans. After finding and resurrecting Elektra, Alexandra turns the ninja warrior into an ultimate weapon that will help her kidnap Iron Fist and utilize his abilities for her plot.
Luckily, Elektra snaps out of Alexandra’s control and takes her out, becoming one of the series’ primary antagonists for the second half of the season. Since Alexandra was just introduced for this show and didn’t have much time to connect with audiences, losing her felt like losing a simple story tool who was only there to bring Elektra back and nothing more.
1. Ruined: Catwoman- Birds of Prey
Lasting only one season back in 2002, Birds of Prey imagines a Gotham City that has been completely abandoned by Batman. In his absence, Oracle, the former Batgirl, and Huntress, Batman’s daughter with Catwoman, do their best to defend the city. Similar to many other superhero TV shows, it features the heroes fighting various metahumans who threaten Gotham citizens every week.
In the first episode of the series, Selina Kyle and her daughter Helena are walking around, and a random man comes up and murders her in cold blood. While the incident serves as a source of inspiration to push Helena on her own vigilante path, it would have been interesting to see Catwoman step up and fill the heroic void herself.
It was revealed later on in the series that the killer was a transfigured Clayface hired by the Joker to take Selina down.
Which superhero TV characters do you think are better off gone? Let us know in the comments.
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