Total Nerd

The Darkest Stories in Comics 

Ranker Comics
Updated May 27, 2020 29.3k votes 4.9k voters 1M views 27 items

List Rules Vote up the best dark story storylines in comic books.

Out of all the comic book films that have been released in the last ten years, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight series is arguably the darkest. But when you compare those films to the stories that they’re based on, they barely scratch the surface of the darkness beneath. And outside of the comic book world of Batman, there’s an entire history of writers pushing boundaries and inspiring their peers to completely break the rules. The stories on this list are some of the darkest tales that ever graced the pages of a comic book - some of which resulted from shifting trends, others from publishing gimmicks - and we doubt you’ll ever see them on the big screen.

A lot of the stories detailed within this list are NSFW and may be triggering, so if you’re worried about seeing, or reading about something graphic you may want to read one of our lists about fluffiest kittens. The stories on this list come from mainstream and indie comic imprints, but honestly, some of the most shocking story lines come from the majors.

On the lineup, we have shocking character deaths, sexual assaults committed by heroes and villains alike, and at least one account of a character cutting themselves out of another character’s stomach; if any of that piques your fancy then we want to hear from you. After you pour over this list of comic book stories that are too dark to film, we want to know which story you think is the darkest. If there’s a story we missed, leave us a comment and fill us in on the action.

Batman: the Killing Joke
Batman: the Killing Joke... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Darkest Stories in Comics
Photo: flickr/CC0
Originally, The Killing Joke was meant to be an Elseworlds version of the Batman tale, but for some reason DC decided to make Alan Moore's SUPER GRAPHIC story of the Joker paralyzing and physically abusing Barbara Gordon in front of her father canon. 
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Wolverine: Old Man Logan
Wolverine: Old Man Logan... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Darkest Stories in Comics
Photo: Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY

The entire "Old Man Logan" storyline is a killer comic that will probably be adapted some day, but the revelation that Wolverine slaughtered his friends and family in the X-Mansion under the hypnotic spell of Mysterio is probably too horrendous to commit to celluloid.

There's also the tidbit about Wolverine carving his way out of the Hulk, that might be a bit too much for some viewers to stomach.

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Sue Dibny is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Darkest Stories in Comics
Photo: Patrick Peccatte/Flickr

Not only is this storyline super dark, but it's also one of the most unnecessary stories in comic book history. The story opens with Sue being murdered, and the Justice League going on an adventure to find the murderer. It's revealed that Dr. Light teleported to the JL Watchtower, where he found Dibny alone where he attacked and raped her.

Not content with simply sending him to jail, the League and Zatanna neuter his mind as punishment for his actions.

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Jason Todd is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Darkest Stories in Comics
Photo: Metaweb/CC-BY

This storyline is just grim. In 1988, DC gave fans the choice of whether or not they would like to kill Jason Todd (the most recent incarnation of Robin). Proving that people have always been awful, readers voted en masse for Todd's death.

Jason is killed when he jumps onto a bomb to save his mother, although that sounds sweet, it's kind of a boring way to go. 

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