Failure Is the Only Option/Comic Books

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Examples of Failure Is the Only Option in Comic Books include:

  • The entire DC & Marvel superhero universe is built around this. The popular villains; The Joker, Magneto, Lex Luthor, etc. have too much of the appeal of the comics to ever be dispatched for good. Decades of excuses as to why they can always come back have have ultimately formed the basis of what these worlds are. Heroes have codes against killing, even though this invariably results in an endless series of deaths of innocents when the villains strike again. This makes such codes look foolish and hypocritical. When villains are arrested, they either escape prison with ease, or are released by a corrupt and foolish justice system -- making the hero's commitment to law and justice look equally foolish. (And blame laid on "weak liberals" for what is really marketing controlling the world.) The result: While good wins at the end of most comics, the good seem to suffer far more and accomplish little in the greater scheme of things.
  • Groo the Wanderer - Goal: Stop wandering. Since Groo causes chaos everywhere he goes, this will never happen.
  • The original premise of Swamp Thing was that Alex Holland had been changed into a swamp monster in a freak accident, and was trying to find a cure. The original series, once the book's original creative team left and were replaced, DID end with Swamp Thing cured but the condition was quickly overturned in haphazard fashion during a guest-spot Challengers of the Unknown. His series was relaunched in 1980 and the focus once again became on Swamp Thing wanting to become human, which writer Alan Moore (who took over the book with #20) felt had to go and go for good since it left the series stuck in an endless loop of failure. He promptly spent his second issue of his legendary run on the series revealing that Swamp Thing was a plant elemental creature with Alex Holland's personality/memories and sealed the deal by producing the remains of Holland, having Swamp Thing meet Alex in heaven and having Swamp Thing pretty much not care about his life being a lie after a brief Heroic BSOD.
This is ironic, given that in spite of the popularity of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing and his retcon, DC pretty much refuses to market Moore's version of the character in other media. Pretty much every Swamp Thing show, movie, cartoon uses the original "man to monster" origin for Swamp Thing and the Failure is the Only Option trope to drive the plot.
  • Sleepwalker - This 1990s Marvel Comics series had the title alien hero trying to find a way to return to his home dimension. Several opportunities come up throughout the series, but Sleepwalker is forced to repeatedly give up his chance at returning home for reasons ranging from the need to protect civilians in danger, to defeat a group of supervillains, to retrieving Spider-Man from another alien dimension.
  • Jimmy Five - Originally Cebolinha. Brazilian comic Monica's Gang. Goal: take over the street and/or a plush bunny from Monica. And it brings another example of this trope, by his best friend, the Genre Savvy Cascão/Smudge - Goal: not joining the beatings after the plans fail. But Smudgy spoils Jimmy's plans almost every single time! It's almost like he wants to be beaten!
For Cascão, there's also the goal of getting him to take a bath.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog - Invoked from the villain's side. Mammoth Mogul can't defeat Sonic the Hedgehog? Fine. He'll just quit trying--he's immortal, after all, so he's easily going to outlast that annoying blue blur. And in the meantime he'll amuse himself making life difficult for Sonic in any way available short of outright attack.
  • The Hulk - Bruce Banner will never get rid of The Hulk. Heck, one time Bruce lost the ability to turn into the Hulk, he was Genre Savvy enough to observe he would be back. Sure enough.
    • One story has Doc Samson and the army capture Bruce and place him in a chamber filled with NOX. General Ross (IIRC) says that they will lobotomize Banner to stop Hulk and Samson is shocked. Bruce says that he accepts this, since his only wish is to die. Samson says that it's both the wish of him and the Hulk and shuts off the oxygen valve, making Banner breathe pure nitrogen. The last screens of the comic show Banners heart beat slowing down, until he dies. The last panel shows one, big, green, powerful heartbeat.
  • Any hero or villain whose motivation is I Just Want to Be Normal, including The Thing, The Scorpion, and the aforementioned Hulk and Swamp Thing. In Marvel 1602, Reed Richards actually tells Thing that the universe will never let him become human again for very long because that would make his story less interesting.
  • Mr. Freeze will never be reunited with his wife. Depending on the continuity, either her health will never recover to the point where he can thaw her out, or Batman and the police will keep foiling his attempts to help her, or she won't love him anymore because he's a supervillain, or she won't love him anymore because she herself has become a more villainous villain than he is. Any option is possible except the one Mr. Freeze wants, because then he has no motivation anymore.