Peter, his girlfriend Gwen Stacy, and acquaintance Mary Jane Watson visit Harry, who is in a sorry state. His father Norman is livid about Harry's condition, blames Peter, Gwen, and Mary Jane for Harry's drug abuse, and throws them out. When Norman hears that he is facing financial ruin, he suffers a breakdown, and suddenly remembers everything. Norman again becomes the Green Goblin and makes it his goal to kill Peter/Spider-Man for all the misery he imagines Spider-Man has caused him and his family.
The Green Goblin abducts Gwen and lures Spider-Man to the George Washington Bridge. He gloats at Peter, holding an unconscious Gwen. The two fight, and just when Spider-Man seems to get hold of Gwen, Norman hurls her off the bridge. Spider-Man shoots a web strand at her legs, and catches her. As he pulls her up, he thinks he has saved her. However, he soon realizes she is already dead. Peter is unsure whether the whiplash from her sudden stop broke her neck or if Osborn had broken it previously, but he blames himself for her death regardless. The Green Goblin escapes, and Peter cries over Gwen's corpse and swears deadly revenge.
Spider-Man tracks Green Goblin down to a warehouse where an apoplectic Peter beats Norman to a pulp. But he cannot bring himself to kill him and freezes. Norman uses the opportunity to send his glider to impale Spider-Man from behind. Warned by his spider-sense, Peter jumps away just in time, and the glider instead impales the Green Goblin and seemingly kills him.
Peter goes home, feeling washed-out, hurt, and deeply empty. When he meets Mary Jane, her sympathy is lost on him. He only sees MJ as a carefree party girl; unable to feel his pain. But then, Mary Jane also cries, and for the first time, the two characters relate.
- This story arc was the marker of the end of the Silver Age of the Comic Book industry, and the beginning of the Bronze-Age, since up until then it was unthinkable to kill the heroes love interest, leaving people in shock.
- At first it was planned for Aunt May to die, but it was changed, since if Aunt May would have died it would make Spider-Man feel free and grown up. It was then discussed to kill either Mary Jane or Gwen, and it was decided that Gwen would die, since Mary Jane was more of a comical character, and Gwen and Peter were a perfect couple, but taking the relationship to the next level would "betray everything Spider-Man was about", the personal tragedy and anguish of the character to which Conway thought were the root of Spider-Man, in his opinion.
- This story arc served as the basis for the film The Amazing Spider-Man 2.
- The idea of killing Peter's love interest was derived from Terry and Pirates series where the main character's love interest also died.
- When the love interests of superheroes died, it was often referred as the "Gwen Stacy Syndrome".