Batman is known as one of the earliest DC superheroes ever created, first appearing in Detective Comics #27 in 1939. One would think that the guy is invincible, with over 80 years of action behind him, but he is only human with the resources that allow superhero work. And he is far from invincible.
Batman died numerous times over the years. However, as it usually is in comics, true superheroes never remain underground for long. Batman’s rogue gallery is awesome, and it’s no wonder some of the beasts he went against got him.
Without further ado, here’s a list of all the characters who killed Batman and all the times Bruce Wayne had died in the comics, in chronological order.
Suicide, Batman Vol. 1 #233
Believe it or not, there’s a silly storyline from 1971 called The Death-Cheaters of Gotham City, where Bruce Wayne literally killed himself to join – an exclusive social club. David Vern Reed and Jim Mooney collaborated on several Batman storylines, but this has got to be the goofiest one ever.
So, The Death-Cheaters of Gotham City is an exclusive club that only allows new members to join if they have died and come back to life. Of course, the snob within Bruce Wayne can’t allow not to be invited into any king of a club, so he deliberately ingests poison that stops his heart and kills him for several minutes before he’s brought back to life.
Welcome to the club, Bruce! Apparently, letting Wayne into the club proved to be a great idea for the members, as another guy who they didn’t accept and allow into the club started attacking all of the club members, so Bruce Wayne used his fighting skills to put him back into his place.
A Window, The Brave And The Bold #115
I kid you not – this actually happened in 1974’s The Brave and the Bold #115. Bruce Wayne tries passing through a window frame, not knowing that it was electrocuted under insanely high voltage. It leaves him brain-dead right on the spot until the Atom, Ray Palmer, finds his body and takes it back to his lab.
Once there, the Atom shrinks and enters Bruce Wayne’s head and starts controlling his body like a little alien pilot. However, the piloting results in Bruce’s brain waking up, and he eventually takes over control of his body once again.
It was an incredibly weird storyline written by Bob Haney and illustrated by Jim Aparo. Interestingly, it was not the weirdest one we’ve seen from the Caped Crusader’s adventures. It was hilarious, though – a guy that fights Superman, and wins, gets taken down by a window – you got to love the creativity there!
Joker, Batman Vol. 1 #291-294
The first real Batman death story ever came all the way back in 1977, during Batman Vol. 1 #291-294. The story was written by David Vern Reed, while John Calnan did the artwork. It was an epic storyline about Batman, who was suddenly found dead. As word of mouth spreads through Gotham City, the villains start taking credit for the kill.
Poison Ivy, Scarecrow, Two-Face, the Riddler, the Joker, and others, end up in a mock trial with Ra’s al Ghul as the judge, where the villains don’t argue who didn’t, but who DID kill Batman. Throughout four issues, they all reveal their stories and “evidence” they were indeed the ones to finish the bat.
In the end, the Joker is proven to be the real culprit, as he provides photo evidence of the kill. The guy spilled acid on Batman’s face and then took photos – which was ultimately his undoing. All of a sudden, Two-Face reveals his true identity as Bruce Wayne himself, who catches the Joker and returns him to Arkham Asylum.
As it turns out, the Joker killed a book clerk who loved dressing up as Batman. The acid prevented the Joker from identifying the body, allowing Bruce Wayne to pull off the masquerade and find the real culprit behind the murder without ever having to move a muscle.
Bill Jensen, Adventure Comics #462
Adventure Comics #462 in 1979 started a storyline called Death of Batman. Obviously, Batman didn’t live long to follow the tale further. The issue was written by Paul Levitz and penciled by Joe Staton.
Bruce Wayne is enjoying his peaceful, quiet retirement. However, after Bill Jensen takes down the Justice Society of America, he starts calling Batman out, requesting the Caped Crusader to confront him.
Of course, Batman does, but it obviously doesn’t go well for him. In a confrontation with Jensen, who has magic powers, both characters are depleted and tired. In battle, Batman’s face gets revealed after the mask tears apart.
It sends Billy Jensen into a fit of rage lets out a big burst of magical force that kills both him and Batman on the spot. The energy of such a force literally tore Batman’s body apart. I remember genuinely thinking that it’s done – Batman is officially gone.
Of course, I was wrong, as the following storyline was the Crisis on Infinite Earths, designed to right all the wrongs DC had done with their main continuity, including deaths. As it turned out, the Batman that died wasn’t even the main-continuity Bruce Wayne, but rather the guy from Earth 2.
Superman, The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller has penned some of the best DC comics stories ever, especially Batman. His 1986 storyline, The Dark Knight Returns, is no different. It was an epic saga that is still remembered as one of the best Batman storylines ever.
In this world, there are no superheroes. Everybody retired after long careers, and no new superheroes emerged. Meanwhile, Superman continued to work as a US government secret agent. As crime grows in Gotham City, now that nobody’s there to regulate it, Batman comes out of retirement to restore some order in the city.
That puts him on a collision course with Clark Kent, so the Dark Knight pulls out an awesome, armored version of his suit – similar to the one we see Ben Affleck wearing in the Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice film.
Before they even fought, a nuclear explosion almost killed both of them, so they met in a weakened state. Again, just like in the movie, Batman uses Kryptonite to weaken and then beat up Superman badly. The tides turn, however, and with no Kryptonite to help him keep Kal-El weak, Bruce suffers such a nasty beating that he dies right there.
Well, as it turns out, he didn’t actually die but rather faked his own death to survive the battle. In the last pages of The Dark Knight Returns, we see an old Wayne training an entire army of Robins.
Dracula, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain
Technically, it wasn’t Dracula that killed Batman in this storyline from 1992. Instead, Bruce sacrificed himself for the greater good – it was the only way to defeat Dracula. The sad, dark, horror-esque storyline was created by Doug Moench, Kelley Jones, Les Dorscheid, and Malcolm Jones III.
The infamous vampire proves to be too big of a bite to chew on. However, before their ultimate encounter, Batman is given vampiric powers by a woman named Tanya. However, he transformed slowly. When he battled Dracula, Bruce was far enough into the transformation to refuse Dracula’s influence and commands, but not far enough to lose his sense of self.
Eventually, Bruce realizes that the only way Dracula is losing is if Batman sacrifices himself and dies with him. After he did that, though, it wasn’t over for Batman. He became a member of the undead, with some seriously unnerving artwork following the story. If you ever get the chance to read this one, take it because it’s an epic horror Batman storyline you’ll certainly enjoy.
Elmo Galvan, Detective Comics Vol. 1 #644
It seems that Batman ought to think better of insulating his suit from electricity. The guy can fistfight Superman, eat bullets for breakfast, walk through fire and ice – but if you use electricity, he’s as good as gone, even if you’re an electrocuted window frame.
In Detective Comics Vol. 1 #644, a storyline called Electric City, Part One: Wired is written in 1992 by Chick Dixon. In this first part, Batman faces off against Elmo Galvan, who created a high-voltage device to fight the Caped Crusader. Well, the attack stops Bruce’s heart and kills him, which sends Robin into despair.
He tracks down Galvan and forces him to do everything in his power to bring Bruce Wayne back with electroshocks. Galvan reluctantly accepts but ultimately saves Batman’s life after almost taking it away.
Ra’s al Ghul, Batman: Birth Of A Demon
Birth of a Demon collection was re-released in 2020; however, the storyline by Dennis O’Neill and Norm Breyfogle was initially released in early 1993. The story is as sinister as it sounds, with Bruce Wayne’s mentor-turned-nemesis, Ra’s al Ghul, at the forehead of the entire thing.
Batman tracks down Ra’s al Ghul while learning about Talia, al Ghul’s daughter. The two sworn enemies engage in an epic battle, where Batman would’ve had the upper hand. Unfortunately, “would’ve” isn’t enough in the real world.
Ra’s poisoned Batman before they even fought, which gave him a big advantage, allowing al Ghul to stab Bruce in the chest with a shovel, after which they both fell into the Lazarus Pit – an area that returns the dead and restores their body completely.
Joker, Batman: Going Sane
The Going Sane storyline spanned over four issues in 1994, in Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #65-68. It was, by far, the weirdest Batman storyline I’ve ever read, although the writing by J.M. DeMatteis, Daren White, and Eddie Campbell was perfect.
Also, Joe Staton, Steve Mitchell, and Bart Sears did an outstanding job with the artwork, giving it something completely different. However, the story was weird because, well, the Joker was no longer insane. Actually, he was going sane, as the name of the storyline suggests.
After he managed to kill Batman, Joker’s whole life purpose shifted. That shift, as it seems, snapped him out of insanity, and the guy actually starts acting rationally. The story arc actually revolves around the time after Batman’s death, which came after a huge explosion created by his arch-nemesis.
Joker’s life turns around, and he tries to create a quiet life for himself. However, his life, and sanity, take a dramatic turn for the worse after Joker realizes Batman might not be dead at all.
The Atlanteans, JLA #74
This one was odd, to say the least, but just as heartwrenching as any other Batman death on this list. JLA #74 is an issue that premiered in 1996, written by Joe Kelly, and primarily penciled by Doug Mahnke.
The entire Justice League of America is up against ancient Atlanteans, and things don’t go well right from the start. First, the JLA finds the Flash incarcerated and his legs torn off his body. In an attempt to rescue Barry, they walk right into a trap, and each member of the Justice League gets slaughtered throughout the issue, one by one.
Superman slams into an Atlantean plaza at full flying speed, while Green Lantern gets his heart pulled out of his chest while still beating. I don’t know what’s worse – having such a brutal, graphic death or dying anti-climactically, as Batman did along with the rest of the Justice League.
In JLA #75, they are all back as the undead but manage to return to life – and full fighting capacity – after some magic, time travel, and a few minor plot holes. You didn’t hear that from me, though.
Joker, Emperor Joker
We all know that Joker is Batman’s arch-nemesis. We also know that he’s a psychopathic lunatic that stops at nothing just to get a kick. However, what he did to Bruce Wayne in the 2000’s Emperor Joker storyline is more brutal and vile than anything we’ve seen from the Clown Prince of Crime.
Joe Kelly and Jeph Loeb put their signature on the writing, while Ed McGuinnes and Doug Mahnke brilliantly delivered on the artwork.
The storyline follows an empowered Joker who got spectacular superpowers from Mister Mxyzptlk. Joker remakes the entire world to fit his image, where he’s the omega, and Batman is almost like his toy.
The Joker kills Bruce Wayne and then uses his newfound superpowers to bring him back to life, only to brutally murder him again, and again, and again. Although it was absolutely horrifying, the Joker learned an important thing about himself – without Bruce Wayne, he doesn’t know who he is.
That’s why Joker can never end Batman once and for all. He keeps bringing Bruce back because the “relationship2 they have is just too important for the madman. Superman realized that, and in the end, it’s all he needs to have the edge over the Joker, ultimately leading to Kal-El ending the Clown Prince of Crime’s undoings.
Bruce Wayne died many times throughout the years, but this repeated torture and murder has to be one of the worst fates Batman had ever endured.
Batman, Superman: Red Son
Believe it or not, Batman killed himself more than once in his comics history, and this particular storyline was one of the strangest and most brutal of all. Superman: Red Son was published in 2003 as an Elseworlds title – something like DC’s version of Marvel’s What If? Red Son was written by Mark Millar, and Dave Johnson took the artwork credits.
The premise of the series is – what would happen if Kal-El didn’t land in Kansas to live with the loving, kind Kents, but rather somewhere in Soviet Russia? Would his good nature turn him into a hero nevertheless, or would the rough influences around him make Supes a villain? Would Superman still be Superman if he grew up in a different environment?
The answer is – yes, he would be different, as this version of Superman is used as a Russian propaganda machine. Batman, who’s also Russian in this story, tries to stop the Red Son with the help of Wonder Woman, but when his mission goes awry, Batman decides to use a kamikaze bomb and blow himself up to pieces instead of surrendering and getting captured.
I know it was just an Elseworld scenario where Batman wasn’t even Bruce Wayne, but still, it was a hard read, especially in today’s climate with all the horrible stuff happening in the world related to the Russians. I might just revisit the short three-issue storyline again.
Wonder Woman, Superman/Batman Vol. 1 #15
Superman/Batman Vol. 1 #15 was a brutal storyline in 2005 written by Jeph Loeb and penciled by Carlos Pacheco. It featured an alternate timeline outside of the main continuum, where not all the heroes were still heroes.
Batman and Superman are dictators who took over the world with the help of Lightning Lord and Saturn Queen. Somebody has to stand up to their tyranny, and you know who’s always there to do the right thing. Wonder Woman forms a group of fighters who attack Liberty Island, where the dictator headquarters are. Diana’s group is no Justice League, but they have to do the job.
Subsequently, Batman and Superman arrive at the scene to fight Wonder Woman and her team. The two dictators fight the Legion of Super Heroes and start dwindling their numbers. The Ray is among the first to go, getting a bullet to the temple.
Seeing that they can’t beat Batman and Superman as a duo, Uncle Sam creates a colossal eagle with Green Lantern’s Ring to keep Superman away, while Princess Diana takes it upon herself to destroy the Bat.
As great of a fighter as he is and as much technology, he has, Wonder Woman proves to simply be superior in every way, from fighting skills to powers. She ends up stabbing Batman through the heart, and he drops dead moments after.
It was an odd storyline, watching Batman and Superman play the villain roles, but anything is possible in alternative timelines.
Ultraman, Countdown To Final Crisis #13
Now, as we approached the Final Crisis event, where Darkseid obliterated half of the Earth’s mightiest heroes, there was a continuing series called Countdown To Final Crisis in 2008, written by Paul Dini, Keith Giffen, and Tony Bedard. At the same time, Tom Derenick, Wayne Faucher, and Pete Pantazis did the artwork.
The issue we’re talking about here was called “Abandon All Hope” for a reason. It’s revolved about events on an alternate Earth, precisely Earth-51, where this universe’s Batman notices an iteration of the Joker and attacks him.
However, this universe’s Superman, called Ultraman, won’t allow for the Clown to be harmed, so he swooshes down behind Batman’s back and punches a fist-sized hole right through his skull and brain, turning it into soup. Batman’s lifeless body falls to the ground before you even have a chance to blink and say, “WHAAT THE F-!”
Darkseid, Final Crisis
We’ve seen Darkseid appear in Zack Snyder’s Justice League movie just a couple of years ago. However, Darkseid from the comics was much more menacing. In fact, in the Final Crisis storyline from 2008, the mighty supervillain managed to end many superheroes from Earth – until he met with Bruce Wayne face-to-face.
Ironically, one of the only superheroes that are really only human ends the cosmic supervillain. The story was written by Grant Morrison, and the artwork was done by Marco Rudy and J. G. Jones. All of Earth’s superheroes had to come together, but Darkseid was still too powerful.
However, Bruce Wayne gets a special bullet that has properties powerful enough to kill Darkseid. The bullet hits the mark but doesn’t kill the supervillain, who, in return, kills Batman in a brutal fashion. Luckily enough, the bullet wounded him so badly that he was momentarily stopped in his rampage.
After Bruce Wayne’s death, we see Superman carrying his lifeless, dismantled corpse. Dick Grayson takes over the Batman mantle, while Bruce’s son, Damian, becomes Robin.
The Enchantress, Flashpoint
It’s clearly not safe to be Batman for anybody, but this comic book was just plain darkness right from the start. Flashpoint was a crossover story arc featuring the Flash and the entire Wayne family. Only, in this 2011 story, Thomas and Martha Wayne don’t die – it’s Bruce who ends up getting killed. No, not by the Enchantress.
You see after Bruce passed away, Thomas Wayne was inspired to become the superhero/vigilante, as he became the infamous Batman. However, losing parents and losing a child is both very hard, but the latter takes one to a much darker place, as one could see from Thomas Wayne’s Flashpoint Batman, who didn’t hesitate to kill as Bruce did.
Thomas does horrible things, including stabbing Flash through the back. Eventually, Batman gets into a fight with the Enchantress near the end of the story arc and gets killed.
Steppenwolf, Earth 2 Vol. 1 #1
Earth 2 was a run created by James Robinson and Nicola Scott that lasted from 2012 to 2015. And, right off the bat, the story takes a horrifying turn. Parademons start invading the Earth, with the notorious Steppenwolf as their army commander.
The Justice League heroes try to fight the army, but the attack is too big. Superman and Wonder Woman are the first to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Still, it isn’t enough, as Steppenwolf’s Parademons army just keeps coming.
So, Bruce Wayne has to figure out a way to stop him and his army before Earth is completely destroyed. Of course, it’s Bruce Wayne, so he figures it out, but the only way Steppenwolf could be defeated is if Batman sacrificed his life, too.
After the death of the three mightiest heroes on Earth, a new, younger team needs to keep protecting the planet in their name. That’s the whole premise of Earth 2, and the shocking first issue was just the beginning of an awesome three-year run, if you ask me.
Joker, Damian: Son Of Batman
Imagine a storyline where Batman dies – twice! Well, it had already happened in the Damian: Son of Batman storyline. Well, Batman didn’t die two times, but two different Batmen – Dick Grayson and Bruce Wayne – both died during the arc.
The 2013’s comic, created by Grant Morrison and Andy Kubert, features a young teenager Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne’s son. Batman and Robin investigate a crime, but once they are there, a huge explosion kills Batman, with Damian – the Robin – escaping alive.
Ultimately, we find out that the Batman behind the mask who was killed was actually Dick Grayson, the so-called dark version of Batman. Bruce Wayne was still alive, but not for long, as it doesn’t take much for the Joker to appear and kill Bruce Wayne off.
It was a cool storyline, but if I’m being honest, the whole Damian Wayne deal wasn’t my cup of tea. Give it a shot, though; you might enjoy the style.
Joker (Died Together), Batman: Endgame
Batman: Endgame was a brutal but brilliant storyline that spanned over six issues of Batman Vol. 7 in 2014. It was written by Scott Snyder and inked by Greg Capullo, and it was one of the best storylines in The New 52 era.
The brutality of the storyline is not for the faint-hearted. Before the final battle between the Joker and Batman, the Clown Prince of Crime chopped off Alfred’s hand and then proceeded to brutally torture Jim Gordon.
The Joker usually aims to hurt and tease Batman simply because he has fun doing it. However, in Endgame, he has fallen off the deep end and is finally ready to kill the Bat for good. The fight ends with the Joker brutally beaten up and bloodied, but Batman receives multiple stab wounds all over the body.
Before Bruce is killed, the Joker throws sharpened playing cards into his eyes, blinding him for the moment, after which the two deliver mortal blows to one another. They are both unable to move, and as they lie next to one another, dying, the cave’s roof starts to collapse on them.
As the colossal stalactites fall around them, a dying Batman mutters he’s “just gonna rest here a little while with my friend,” proving that the Joker meant to Batman as much as Batman meant to the Joker.
Thomas Wayne, Convergence Vol. 1 #3
I know what you’re thinking, but no, Thomas Wayne didn’t kill little Bruce in this issue. However, he did end a life, the life of Batman. The cool comic book came out in June 2015 and depicted heroes from Earth 2, where Thomas Wayne was the Batman, not Bruce.
He was usually a much darker version of the Caped Crusader but showed true nobility in this storyline. Jeff King wrote the story, while Stephen Segovia and Jason Paz worked on the art. It was also the closing issue of Thomas Wayne’s story arc as Batman.
A fight brewed, and the evil supervillains grew stronger. They surrounded Thomas, and he knew the end was coming. But, if he’s gone, who’ll keep the people safe? So, in a true, selfless act of sacrifice, Batman lures the group of enemies closer and then detonates a huge explosion, killing him on the spot but taking every single one of the villains with him.
To make matters even more wholesome for Thomas, before his death, he meets his son Bruce from another reality. Although they didn’t share the same life or fate, Thomas lets his soul out and tells this Bruce everything he never had the chance to say to his own Bruce, who died in this Earth 2 reality.
Bruce Wayne, Batman Vol. 3 #45-47
Yes, you read that correctly. Bruce Wayne killed himself in one of the more recent Batman runs. 2018s Batman Vol. 3 #45-47 are actually a three-issue storyline named The Gift. It was written by Tom King, while Tony S. Daniel and Tomeu Morey did the artwork. It was a run that started off so nicely but ended in one of the darkest events in Batman’s history.
So, The Gift begins with Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle just about to marry. As a wedding gift, a time traveler named Booster Gold wants to give Bruce a gift he’ll never forget. So, he travels back in time to the fateful night when Thomas and Martha Wayne were killed. Booster prevents their deaths to allow Bruce to live a life with them instead of on his own.
The gift backfires, though, as Booster’s actions create a whole new universe. In this universe, Bruce kills Dick Grayson, a dark version of Batman, but once again, fate intervenes, and he’s unable to save his parents.
Struck with grief over not being able to save them and the fact that he had to kill pushes this version of Bruce Wayne over the edge, and instead of living a happily-ever-after with Selina Kyle, he commits suicide. Tom King is a really dark dude, man.
Alfred Pennyworth, DCeased
One of the most heartbreaking storylines in Batman’s more recent history came in the DCeased series that started in 2019. Tom Taylor was the writer, while Greg Capullo was the main artist for the story. In DCeased, all DC heroes had to fight an infection turning everyone into the undead.
In Batman’s particular case, his sidekick, Tim Drake, who was Robin at the time, along with Nightwing, got infected, so Batman was forced to fight them both. Alfred is in the middle of everything with Bruce, helping him put his former sidekicks to rest once and for all.
However, during the battle, Batman contracts the deadly infection, too. Before it has taken him over completely, Bruce forms a study about the infection and sends it over to everybody in the Justice League to help them beat it.
He sends a heartbreaking farewell message to Damian, his son, and as the infection starts taking him over and changing him into the creature Tim Drake already became earlier, Alfred knows what needs to be done. Pennyworth ends Bruce Wayne before the infection is complete, which is one of the most heartbreaking sequences I’ve ever read in DC Comics.