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.
10. Carol Bermingham
When you’re a superhero, pleas for help can come even from the unlikeliest of sources. For Nightwing, the surprise came when Two-Face asked him to protect his former lover, Carol Bermingham.
A respectable district attorney with a price on her head, Dick Grayson couldn’t refuse the job, despite his violent history with Harvey Dent. The former Robin did his best to track down Bermingham’s would-be assassins and even went so far as to fight them even after being shot with bullets laced with Scarecrow’s fear toxin.
Almost pushed over the edge by the hallucinations, Dick eventually manages to fight them off only to discover that the man that is after Carol is none other Two-Face himself. Dent kills his former lover right in front of a weakened Nightwing, who then spends many nights obsessively tracking down his enemy.
Dick may not end up as scarred by his failure like some of the other superheroes on this list, but his relentless drive to pursue the killer proves just how much he feels responsible for the people he protects.