10 Best Marvel Comics That Don’t Have A Happy Ending

People love a happy ending in their fiction. Movies, TV shows, books, and comics are all known for tying everything up in a tidy bow, with the protagonists succeeding in whatever they set out to do. However, that doesn’t mean that every ending has to be happy. In fact, sometimes the best ending for a story is one that is the opposite of happy.

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Superhero narratives touch on real life and real life’s endings are often quite sad; not every story needs a happy ending. Marvel has deployed unhappy endings effectively many times in the past, adding nuance and setting things up for the future.

10 The Amazing Spider-Man #400 Killed Off Aunt May


Marvel’s mania for not killing Aunt May, in the comics at least, is well known, but they have pulled that trigger before. The Amazing Spider-Man #400, by writer JM DeMatteis and artist Mark Bagley, centered around Aunt May having a stroke, seemingly getting better, and then dying at the end of the issue.

It was all very well done and at the time, and it seemed like Marvel was going to keep Aunt May dead. The story would eventually be retconned, but it’s still one of the best Aunt May-centric Spider-Man stories of all time and a tear-jerker for fans.

9 Punisher: The End Has A Shocking Ending


Punisher The End

In the early 2000s, Marvel was all about putting out the end stories, comics that told the last story of their greatest characters. Most of the stories had rather melancholy endings at best, but none of them can match Punisher: The End, by writer Garth Ennis and artist Richard Corben. In this story, Frank Castle travels to a radiation blasted post-apocalyptic landscape for one last mission of punishment.

The story ends with him finding a bunker full of the people who caused the cataclysmic nuclear war. They have all the tools to reignite the human race underground and invite Frank to join them. But he’s the Punisher. He kills the last hope for humanity, takes off his radiation suit, and walks out of the bunker, dooming humanity. It’s an amazing Punisher story, encapsulating everything he is, with killer art by Corben.


8 Hulk: The End Grants Bruce Banner’s Greatest Wish


Hulk: The End

hulk the end, by writer Peter David and artist Dale Keown, kicked off the end books with a bang. The book followed the Hulk on Earth long after humanity had died. Banner had been trying to kill himself for years but the Hulk never let him and they’re the last thing left. Banner is followed by an alien Recorder robot chronicling the life of the last human.

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The story ends with the Hulk and Banner both finally dying, a bittersweet ending to the life of the compound entity. It’s also the best ending for a Hulk comic, as his story of him has always been a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions.


7 2004’s Secret War Heralded A New Age For SHIELD


2004’s secretwar, by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Gabrielle Dell’Otto, is one of Marvel’s best event books. The story centered on a secret war against Latveria that Nick Fury had recruited some of the heroes into, what happened in the country, and what the repercussions were for the present. It ended with Fury driven into hiding and SHIELD being taken over by Maria Hill.

The ending saw a beloved member of the Marvel Universe pay for his sins and began Hill’s crackdown on the heroes. It set into multiple motion plots that would spell trouble for the heroes in the future and changed the power dynamics for years to come.


6 The Bendis/Maleev Daredevil Run Ended With The Titular Hero In Jail


Daredevil IN Handcuffs Cropped

Daredevil’s history is full of amazing stories and a particularly fruitful era for the character’s title was writer Brian Micheal Bendis and artist Alex Maleev’s run. It touched on many facets of the character, but the main throughline was Matt Murdock being revealed as Daredevil and how he, his friends, and enemies dealt with it.

The final story of their run, “The Murdock Papers,” saw the Kingpin return and offer his files on Murdock up to Ben Urich and the FBI. The story ended with Murdock in prison, separated from his wife from him. The ending to their iconic run worked perfectly and it remains a gold standard for Daredevil.


5 The Amazing Spider-Man: The War At Home’s Ending Would Lead To A Story That Changed Spider-Man Forever


Amazing-Spider-Man-Aunt-May-Shot

Civil War was full of ups and downs, with some great tie-in comics. The Amazing Spider-Man: The War At Home, by writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Ron Garney, illustrated Spider-Man’s journey through the conflict, from his heady beginnings on Iron Man’s side to his identity reveal to his defection and what it cost him.

The last issue of the story ended with Aunt May shot by the Kingpin’s men. Straczynski and Garney did an excellent job throughout the story with the events of Civil War and the ending was a massive shock, leading into “Back In Black,” where Spider-Man set out for revenge, and, most infamously, One More Day.


4 The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122 Saw The Death Of Gwen Stacy And Its Aftermath


Gwen Stacy Spider-Man

Spider-Man just can’t catch a break when it comes to unhappy endings, and one of his unhappiest endings came in The Amazing Spider-Man #121-122, by writer Gerry Conway and artist Gil Kane. This seminal Spider-Man story featured Gwen Stacy’s death of her, caused by Spider-Man’s attempt to save her after Green Goblin threw her off the GW Bridge.

The Wall-Crawler went after him and he died, impaled on his Goblin glider after Spider-Man dodged it. Gwen Stacy’s death is a watershed moment in the history of Spider-Man and Marvel, a story that is beloved by fans to this day.




3 Wolverine (Vol. 1) #10 Showed The Sadism Of Sabretooth


A page from Wolverine #10

Wolverine (Vol.1) #10, by writer Chris Claremont and artist John Buscema, is one of the best Wolverine stories of all time. The story shifts between past and present, linked by the fact it’s Wolverine’s birthday and Sabretooth is out to make it a terrible day. The flashback features Wolverine and Sabretooth’s first fight in the past after the villain sexually assaulted and murdered Wolverine’s lover Silver Fox.

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In the present, Wolverine spends his day waiting for the shoe to drop with Sabretooth’s latest attack. It’s a tense, heart-rending affair, one that doesn’t end with a big fight but the surety that Sabretooth will be back next year.


two X Deaths Of Wolverine Sees An X-Men Ally Become Their Newest Foe


X Deaths Of Wolverine, by writer Benjamin Percy and artist Federico Vicentini, dealt with the aftermath of Moira MacTaggert’s depowering, ending the many lives of Moira X and setting her on a new course. The story revolved around a future Wolverine, ravaged by Phalanx virus, coming back in time to stop her. He eventually succumbed to the virus and it took the entire Wolverine family to take him down.

While the Wolverines were successful and all seemed well on Krakoa, a robotic hand pierces through the dirt of Moira’s grave, revealing a new Moira MacTaggert. Now devoted to Krakoa’s destruction, this ending threw the entire series into the darkness.


1 Inferno Ended With Moira Losing Her Powers And Xavier And Magneto Paying For Their Hubris


Inferno Professor X Magneto

Hell, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artists Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli, and RB Silva, kicked off with a bang. Wrapping up multiple plot lines that Hickman had set up in his time with the X-Men, the story saw Mystique resurrect her wife Destiny, learn that Moira MacTaggert was alive from Emma Frost, who was told by Xavier, Magneto, and Moira, and the reason Destiny took so long to get resurrected, with the two setting out for revenge.

Mystique and Destiny depowered Moira and Xavier and Magneto, tracking Moira to an Orchis facility before she was moved by the wives, died in battle against Nimrod and Omega Sentinel trying to save her. Their resurrection saw Emma reveal she told the Quiet Council about their secrets and how the Council lost some trust in them. Krakoa survived, but the seeds were laid for future calamity in this brilliant story.

NEXT: 10 Ways Marvel Actively Hurts The X-Men

Marvel comics you don't want your parents to find


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