DC expanded much further than comics; in most cases, those adaptations were quite successful. However, one media really propelled DC’s characters was animation, both TV series and movies. DC Animated Universe and other variations of it are one of the best qualities of current DC adaptations, and one of them is an animated TV series called ‘Young Justice.’ Despite being inspired by ‘Young Justice’ comics by Peter David, Todd Dezago, and Tonn Nauck’s comic book, the show set up the original storyline with young superheroes, one of which was notable Nightwing. His fate in the TV series was shocking since he died, and we will explain what really happened in the animated show.
Nightwing died in season 4, episode 25 of the ‘Young Justice’ TV series after he was killed by Lor-Zod, the son of Kryptonians trapped in the Phantom Zone, who wanted to conquer the galaxy. After Nightwing emerged from the boom tube and blew up the pods of Lor’s parents in Fortress of Solitude, enraged Lor threw Dick into pair of statues of Jor-El and Lara-El, murdering him on the spot. Lor then proceeded to listen for Nightwing’s heartbeat, which stopped shortly after the attack.
The ‘Young Justice’ TV series was hailed as a really good animated project that mostly depicted the stories and its characters really well, but this particular death shocked DC fans. Why was Nightwing’s death shocking? We will explain further in the article.
What happened in Young Justice before Nightwing’s death?
Before we indulge in the details of how Nightwing died in the show, let’s remind ourselves about the storyline and motivations behind Dick’s murderer and the story arc of season four.
As we already mentioned, the TV show follows young superheroes and sidekicks, most notably Nightwing, Kid Flash, Aqualad, Superboy, Artemis, and Miss Martian, who are part of the unnamed superhero group. Of course, this team of young superheroes is closely connected to an adult team called Justice League, who call up their young colleagues to help them against big threats.
What really separates this show from the rest of the DC Animated Universe is its setting or, better yet, the universe. TV show ‘Young Justice’ adopted the original storyline, setting the universe on Earth-16. In this particular universe, heroes and villains are fairly new aspects, and foes work together to establish a grand conspiracy against the superheroes.
The villains are mostly known as the Light and use their resources to take over the Earth. The first season of the show establishes the young sidekicks of Batman, Superman, Aquaman, and Green Arrow, who are on the brink of having much bigger roles as superheroes, but a new threat is upon them – the villainous group called the Light that includes Ra’s al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Queen Bee, Ocean Master, Brain, Vandal Savage and more.
This leads to Justice League using their young sidekicks in another way – they will act as the secret superhero group that will help Justice League conduct secret missions. This is how Young Justice is formed.
The season ends with the epic revelation, while the second season continues five years later. Dick Grayson isn’t Robin anymore but Nightwing, who still leads the Young Justice. The consequences of the first season lead Young Justice to become desperate in the second when various aliens start arriving on Earth.
The third season follows the team two years after the second season, where we see the continuation of the Team dealing with the alien race Reach and new members of the Light. However, the fourth and final season of the show is where everything gets even more serious.
The fourth season sees multiple superheroes dealing with various enemies like the League of Shadows, the new Lord of Chaos, the crisis on Apokalips, and Kryptonian criminals released by General Zod from the Phantom Zone.
The latter crisis leads Nightwing to deal With Kryptonians from the future escaping the eternal prison, trying to conquer a galaxy and save their own people on Krypton.
There is also a whole arc of presumably dead Superboy being alive and imprisoned in another dimension and driving the main plots of each character forward. However, one particular plot ends in a tragic death, which is quite sad – Nightwing dies. How? Let’s find out.
How Nightwing died in Young Justice?
Season four sees each major character dealing with their own villain and threat to the Earth. Zatanna, Beast Boy and Miss Martian, Tigress, and others must overcome their insecurities and doubts to defeat their enemies.
Nightwing deals with Kryptonian criminals who were trapped in the Phantom Zone and released by General Zod. Besides the criminal Kryptonians, their son from the 31st century, Lor-Zod, tries to help his parents and kill everyone in his way. This “grudge” stems exactly from the future, especially towards the Legion of Superheroes, who put the criminals in the Phantom Zone while their son Lor tries to free them.
Knowing he cannot do anything in his timeline, Lor travels in the past to kill Superboy, who inspired the Legion’s creation, and ultimately to prevent the formation of a famous superhero group from the future.
After sabotaging and seemingly killing Superboy, Lor manages to find his parents in the Phantom Zone and free them. After proving he is their son, citing the House of Zod’s secret maxim, Lor takes his parents to the Fortress of Solitude and urges them to enter special solar pods to regain strength from the yellow sun.
Nightwing interrupts the “family reunion” and proceeds to destroy the pods, which enrages Lor-Zod, and throws the former Boy Wonder across the room into ice sculptures of Jor-El and Lara-El. Nightwing’s head is slashed open, and Lor listens as Dick Grayson’s heartbeat stops.
These kinds of deaths aren’t a novelty for Nightwing, who already died with a head injury in the ‘Injustice: Gods Among Us’ storyline, where Damian Wayne accidentally killed him.
Nevertheless, Nightwing was confirmed dead in the ‘Young Justice’ show, and it was shocking for the fans. This isn’t strange for the series, which already killed Kid Flash before, but still, Dick’s death struck hard, and frankly, it didn’t have any major impact in the show’s context.
Not like the likes of Flash had during Crisis on Infinite Earths, and that is the biggest issue of Nightwing’s death in ‘Young Justice’ TV show. The show’s last episode occurred when Kon-El fought against Lor-Zod and ultimately won, saving the whole universe, but Nightwing’s death is still quite strange in the memories of its biggest fans.
What are your thoughts on this animated series, death? Let us know in the comments below.