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12 Comic Book Characters With Tragic Backstories Who We Refuse To Feel Sorry For Them 

Cynthia Griffith
Updated October 13, 2018 8.5k views 12 items

Comic books are brimming with tragic origin stories. Apparently if you didn't have your parents murdered in front of you, you wouldn't fit in at the Avengers 4th of July barbeque. As children, super heroes have endured everything from being orphaned to being tortured to being dyed purple. Yet even in the midst of some of the saddest origin stories, there are still some characters that we simply should not feel sorry for.

All of these are comic book characters with tragic origin stories who, at the end of the day, still don't deserve our sympathy. They're either victims of their own bad choices, or they're irreparably evil. Sometimes, though, they're also just too straight-up stupid to deserve compassion. 

For instance, if you crash your spaceship while wearing a ring that permits you to fly through space under your own power, nobody is going to feel sorry for you. If you try to infringe on somebody else's destiny and accidentally turn yourself into a cheetah, nobody is going to feel sorry for you. And if you're a baby-eating, mind-controlling, Nazi-loving, soul-stealing creeper, then nobody would care if you just vanished from the face of the Earth. Sorry, gang, a sad backstory doesn't make you deserving of our precious sympathy. 

Superman is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 12 Comic Book Characters With Tragic Backstories Who We Refuse To Feel Sorry For Them
Photo: DC Comics

The Tragic Origin:

He was orphaned as an infant when his home planet was destroyed, leaving him lost to wander the Earth searching for answers.

Why We Can’t Feel Sorry For Him:

Superman never, ever learns his lesson.

The Man of Steel should have learned his lesson about keeping the whole kryptonite thing a secret (you know, since people always try to kill him with it). Alas, when Batman and Superman spend one enchanted night flying through the air together, Superman entrusts Batman (you know, the guy who fed his best friend Robin rats in All-Star Batman and Robin just for kicks) with vials of the fatal toxin.

So, when Superman wakes up with a black eye, a splitting headache, and a spandex clad bat hovering over him, we cannot feel sorry for the Man of Steel.

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Green Goblin is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 12 Comic Book Characters With Tragic Backstories Who We Refuse To Feel Sorry For Them
Photo: Marvel Comics

No variation of Norman Osborn deserves a single tear.

The Tragic Origin:

Norman Osborn was relentlessly tormented by his alcoholic dad and a goblin that lives in his brain. Not exactly a stellar childhood, especially when the goblin in Osborn's brain wants to possess his soul.

Why We Can’t Feel Sorry For Him:

Yes, being possessed and tormented by a goblin doesn't help but really no variation of Norman Osborn is a "good" guy. Even before transforming into a supervillain, Osborn was already an abusive husband and father and as a child murdered the family dog. Later, he apparently hooked up with Spider-Man's girlfriend Gwen Stacey and got her pregnant. Then he murdered her. Not cool, Ozzy.

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Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 12 Comic Book Characters With Tragic Backstories Who We Refuse To Feel Sorry For Them
Photo:  hermaeus mora/hermaeus mora hermaeus mora

The Tragic Origin:

Over the years, Lex Luther's origin has been rewritten several times and every version is sad. He's been a pauper, a farmer, a mad scientist, and an abused son. In one distinctly gloomy variation, he murders his parents after suffering years of abuse at their hands and then proceeds to build his empire out of the insurance money. One of the most famous origin stories portrays Superman as the cause of Lex's premature baldness. That's harsh.

Why We Can’t Feel Sorry For Him:

Luther had it way too good to turn out so bad. He has basically been handed the world on a silver platter. He's been poor but not orphaned, abused but not beyond repair. Once he was gifted an entire planet that was named in his honor. In fact, most of the tragedies that have unfolded around him were the result of his own ego.

Get over yourself and wear a hat or something, Lex. You'll be fine.

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Spider-Man is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 12 Comic Book Characters With Tragic Backstories Who We Refuse To Feel Sorry For Them
Photo: Spider-Man: The Complete Clone Saga/Marvel Comics

The Tragic Origin:

Peter Parker is a science nerd who gets orphaned at the tender age of six, bitten by a radioactive spider as a teenager, and consistently conned by friends and enemies alike. He seems very deserving of our sympathy. 

Why We Can’t Feel Sorry For Him:

Peter Parker makes some really, truly awful decisions.

For someone who is supposedly academically gifted, Spidey’s common sense is almost never tingling. To wit: he shows off his powers on national TV, he lets the freakin' devil handle his love life, and he lets the supervillain Nebula gain control of the Infinity Gauntlet. All of these instances start to make you wonder if the whole Clone Saga was really just a metaphor. It would appear that his greatest enemy, unfortunately, is himself.

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