Top 10 Times Superman Was Forced to Take a Life

Credits: Adrian Sousa Justin Giglio
Written by Craig Butler He has pledged to never take a life…but has he kept his word? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Moments Where Superman Kills. For this list, we’re looking at moments throughout Superman’s comic books history in which he, intentionally or not, killed another living being. We are including Elseworlds stories, alternate world stories, etc. Have an idea you want to see made into a WatchMojo video? Check out our suggest page at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest and submit your idea.
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He has pledged to never take a life…but has he kept his word? Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down the Top 10 Moments Where Superman Kills.

For this list, we’re looking at moments throughout Superman’s comic books history in which he, intentionally or not, killed another living being. We are including Elseworlds stories, alternate world stories, etc.

#10: The Early Days


Superman’s code of ethics prevents him from killing another person – but that code wasn’t always in place. Indeed, when Superman first came along, he had a much more casual regard for human life. He thought nothing of tossing a man miles away, who likely died when he landed... or letting the pilot of a plane he smashed fall to his doom. Similarly, he would destroy a dirigible or a munitions plant without bothering to rescue any pilots or workers. And if you planned to use deadly gas on innocent victims, well, woe to you, buddy. Lots of fans prefer to forget about these early stories – and it’s easy to see why.

#9: The Sun-Eater


Sun-Eaters are living weapons created by a race known as the Controllers. They do exactly what their name suggests: they devour stars, thereby killing entire galaxies. They have been featured in a few stories down through the years, almost always with them meeting their death. But in at least one story, from 2007, it is Superman who does the killing, after a ship sent to destroy the beast fails. We can’t say we fault the big guy for doing this – after all, if he didn’t, entire worlds would perish. We’re just sayin’ it does violate his oath against taking a life.

#8: Joe Chill


This is taken from an Elseworlds story, but it posits a situation when a young Superman could very easily have been provoked to kill. The premise of this tale is that baby Kal-El was found and raised, not by the Kents, but by Thomas and Martha Wayne. With no other children in this world, he was given the name Bruce Wayne – and he was present on that fateful night when Joe Chill gunned his parents down. When that fateful moment arrived, his anger caused him to lose control of his powers and to murder the gunman.

#7: Dr. Light


This New 52 story shocked quite a few people. Superman was having a tense confrontation the new superhero Dr. Light, who had not yet mastered his powers. Since Superman is essentially a huge battery powered by yellow sunlight, Dr. Light found himself unwillingly absorbing the Man of Steel’s power. This resulted in an overload explosion which hurt the nearby Wonder Woman. In a rage, Superman used his heat vision to incinerate Dr. Light – an act which was greeted with outrage by many readers. The very next issue revealed Superman wasn’t responsible. While Superman and Light were arguing, the Atom secretly slipped a sliver of kryptonite into Superman’s eye, which triggered the fatal optic blast.

#6: Mr. Mxyzptlk


A mischievous imp from the fifth dimension, the magical Mr. Mxyzptlk was a thorn in Superman’s side, but he was usually played for laughs. But in the final Superman story arc, before John Byrne rebooted him, Alan Moore created an imaginary story in which various villains from Superman’s past attack, killing Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Pete Ross, Krypto, and others. Superman eventually realizes it’s all the work, of Mr. Mxyzptlk, who then reveals himself in his true, frightening form. Using the Phantom Zone projector, Superman succeeds in killing the monster. Having broken his oath, Superman then uses gold kryptonite to permanently take away all of his own powers.

#5: Shazam


Based on the popular video game, the “Injustice: Gods Among Us” comic series is set in an alternate universe in which Superman is basically a dictator. In this world, you oppose Superman at your own risk, as Green Arrow, the Martian Manhunter, and many others found out. But the death of Shazam, who is one of the few heroes who could give Superman a run for the money in terms of strength, is especially disturbing. The magical hero raises an objection to destroying both Metropolis and Gotham, and Superman responds by using his heat vision to burn holes right through his skull. Brutal.

#4: Zod & His Gang


There’s no question that General Zod was a bad dude. Back on Krypton, he tried to take over the planet using a bunch of robot duplicates of himself. And on Earth, he has superpowers just like Superman, making him hard to beat. In one story, Superman traveled to an Earth in a “pocket universe,” where that version of Zod and his gang had destroyed just about everyone. After defeating Zod and his colleagues, Superman exposes them all to a fatal dose of green kryptonite and watches them die. Why wasn’t Superman affected by the kryptonite? Because it very conveniently only worked on Kryptonians from this pocket universe.

#3: Wonder Woman


In an alternate timeline tale, the Legion of Super-Villains go back in time and raise Superman and Batman as their own children – evil, villainous children, obviously. This changes the whole world, of course, and not for the better. Fortunately, there are still some heroes left who work to correct what has happened. At one point, Wonder Woman is fighting the duo and tries to appeal to their former good natures. Unsuccessful, she kills Batman – whereupon Superman makes mincemeat of her, pretty literally. He even goes so far as to strangle her with her own lasso. Just goes to show, don’t come between any bromance involving a Kryptonian.

#2: Doomsday


This is one that just about everyone has heard of. It was the climax of the landmark “Death of Superman” storyline and it’s canon – not an imaginary story or alternate timeline. A powerful alien being arrives on Earth with one mission – to destroy any and everything it came in contact with. Superman went head to head with it in an epic battle, but not even Superman could find a way to defeat it without killing it. Realizing he had no choice if he was to save Earth, Superman managed to kill Doomsday – but at the cost of his own life. (Don’t worry – he got better. For that matter, so did Doomsday, eventually.)

#1: The Joker


As mentioned, the death toll in the Injustice series is considerable. It starts when the Joker tricks Superman into accidentally killing his beloved Lois Lane – and devastating Metropolis. Well, you know that can’t end well. It’s this event that sends Superman over the edge, as he gets his revenge on Joker – and how! His grief and despair overwhelming him, Superman finds Joker and kills him by driving his hand right through his heart. It’s a powerful, disturbing moment. Readers empathize with Superman, but the moment also sets him on a path that leads to him becoming an evil overlord.
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