Superheroes represent the best humanity has to offer. It’s not their superpowers or colorful tight costumes that actually make them remarkable, but their capacity to do good even in the direst of situations. We love superheroes because they can overcome their flaws and weaknesses so that they can save others.
Considering how tough and cruel reality can sometimes be, a world where good always wins the day and everyone is saved can be a tempting fantasy, one that early superhero comics were quick to explore.
However, as the medium matured and the public’s taste leaned to more realistic themes, even the fictitious world of superheroes has become a much darker place. As powerful, noble and motivated as some of our favorite costumed characters are, they can’t always win the day and in some cases, a single loss can outweigh any victory against the villain.
Some of the superheroes on this list are more prone to tragedy than others, but they all have in common at least one moment in which no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t save someone. Such a glaring failure usually leaves a lasting impression on any hero and while some were changed for the better, others saw their life spiral out of control afterwards.