Trauma Conga Line

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
There's getting back-stabbed, and then...

"The rule for finding plots of character-centered novels... is to ask, 'What's the worst thing that can possibly happen to this guy?' And then do it."

You have reached a writer's block. You've created a hero so righteous, noble, good and pure that traumatizing them just once is not convincing enough to break them. Yet you want the intended audience to still feel like they want to reach into your work and hug the character in question.

Hence the name of this trope. You sit in front of your typewriter (for all us oldies who can remember what a typewriter is) or your laptop computer (for all you young-uns) and put on a hat with the name "Murphy" written on it, and think to yourself:

"If traumatizing a hero once can earn the audience's sympathy, then what better way to earn your audience's love for the character than to lay trauma after trauma on them like a falling row of dominoes?"

Having donned the hat of "Murphy", you, the creator of this fictitious universe, are entitled, nay, obligated to make sure that whatever can go wrong for your hero will go wrong. The effect is akin to the Chinese proverb of water continuously dripping on a rock: one drop won't even dent it, but a million will crack a boulder. In other words, having your hero lose everyone they love and/or have every dream unfulfilled and broken is the most realistic way to turn a God Amongst Men into a pathetic crying wreck.

The usual results of a Trauma Conga Line is as follows:

Result A) The hero perseveres over the trials of life, rises above it and becomes a better person for it all.

Result B) The protagonist throws off his hero mantle, tramples it, and in a cold rush of unrelenting cynicism becomes a villain just as bad, if not worse, than the antagonist.

Result C) The hero curls into a figurative or literal catatonic ball in a cold dark corner, then proceeds to give up on life and the world.

Result D) Goes out in a blaze of bloodthirsty rage realizing that the best way out is by taking it out on everyone.

Result E) The protagonist loses their sense of idealism, but not their morality. Most Anti Heroes who started out as an Ideal Hero are Type E.

Result F) Rarest one: the protagonist just shrugs their shoulders at the Deus Angst Machina. No lessons are learned nor does the character behave differently. All that's changed is that the Bunny Ears Lawyer now sleeps in a cardboard box and eats out of dumpsters.

This trope is a particularly vicious example of Break the Cutie, and is a gamble on the part of you, the writer.

Handled correctly, it will create the ultimate Iron Woobie so endearing that the audience will cry and cheer with him/her to the bitter or uplifting end.

On the other hand, one melodramatic violin-music-laced scene too many, and you'll have the Narm of the century.

See also Humiliation Conga, where this happens to a villain who deserves what's coming to him. Deus Angst Machina is similar and there is quite a bit of overlap, but with the Trauma Conga Line more of it happens on-screen than in the backstory.

WARNING! There are unmarked Spoilers ahead. Beware.

Examples of Trauma Conga Line include:


  • Somewhat spoofed in the parody commercials for Rhubarb Pie on A Prairie Home Companion. They always feature some random, unfortunate fellow who happens to get caught in a series of increasingly bad situations, going from, say, locking yourself out of the car to being arrested for high treason. Good thing "nothing takes the taste of shame and humiliation out of your mouth like rhubarb pie!"

Anime and Manga

  • Ian from Not Simple. Everything, everywhere, goes wrong. And then he dies.
  • Berserk does this mercilessly with its three main characters, Guts, Casca and Griffith.
  • Fruits Basket is full of this.
  • Hellsing. Seras Victoria had her police unit dispatched to a hamlet which happened to have been infested with vampires, all of whom were killed, including herself, then sired as a vampire herself. It all goes downhill from there. She wobbles between Type C and D until at long last, karma leaves her alone enough for her to develop into what seems to be a Type A thirty years after Millennium's attack.
  • Lelouch, the Anti-Hero of Code Geass, gets a mixture of type B and D. However, streaks of result A are shown at the end as his last act is to make himself the enemy of the world so the world becomes peaceful by his death.
    • There are a few other Code Geass characters that would fall under this, too, though less obviously due to not being the main character. Shirley and Suzaku stick out the most, but there are probably more this being Code Geass.
    • Lelouch actually has a lot more in common with Type E, largely because he still has a firm grasp of his own sense of right and wrong, as well as wanting to see his ultimately noble goals come to fruition, even if he comes across as quite dark. It's hard to be a Type B when your enemy is a racist Empire that has one leader willing to destroy individuality due to his own crappy childhood, and a Prime Minister who's willing to nuke the whole world from orbit to enforce peace. Shirley almost becomes type C, before Mao makes her go into Type D, then she almost lapses into type C again before some Laser-Guided Amnesia allows her to shift into type A. Suzaku aims quite valiantly for type A, but with everything that happens, he shifts into either B or D (depending on your perspective) at the end of episode 19 of R2, before joining Lelouch in type A.
  • Albert Morcef from Gankutsuou. Albert first gets betrayed by the Count and Peppo, who he thought could be trusted, when Haydee exposes Albert's father as a criminal who gained nobility and power through non legal means. Then, his best friend Franz gets killed when Franz decides to go to the duel with the Count (the duel which the Count goaded Albert into making so the Count can get an excuse to kill Albert) instead of Albert. However, instead of breaking down, Albert ends up taking the route A and becomes a better person who not only saves the Count's soul from Gankutsuou but also fixes his father's wrongs by becoming an envoy of peace.
    • Don't forget that Albert's father also tries to stage a coup detat after he's exposed, even going so far as to try to kill his own wife and son when they get in the way.
  • Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion is the most well known Result C. Being forced to kill your best friends twice in a row after being an abandoned child who is walked all over by every woman in your life can sure make you useless when the world needs you to save it from an apocalypse.
    • In Rebuild of Evangelion, he's a strange variation of a Result D. He, not Unit 01, goes berserk at the end of 2.0 to save Rei, but doesn't give a damn if he kills everything else in the process. It's even displayed earlier in the movie, when he tries to destroy NERV and off Gendo with his EVA for using the dummy system on Unit 03 while Asuka was inside it.
    • It is implied that his father is a type B or a type E
  • On the other hand, Ayasaki Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler is a most admirable example of Result A. You would think that being raised by two pathologically-unemployed con-artists of parents as a cash-cow only to be abandoned to some very nice people to pay off debt money with your organs would turn the boy Joker-Crazy. Wouldn't you know it, he is still a kindhearted fella who would give his life for a total stranger.
    • If you think about it, Hayate is kinda Joker-crazy. His childhood was crap, his parents were complete monsters, and the entire universe occasionally punts him around like an old football ("Watch out for this paint that will permanently stain a cashmere coat!" and "We will attack you with swords that cut cashmere really well!" come to mind). And yet...he keeps smiling.
  • Tokiha Mai of My-HiME was a kind and emotionally strong girl who looked after her constantly ill little brother with a weak heart by giving up her own childhood to work for his medical bills after losing both her parents. Having both that little brother and the boy she came to love die in rapid succession, as well as seeing that the one to blame is, supposedly, her best friend and sworn sister, can even break a saint like her into a nihilistic Result C.
  • Zero's past was really horrible.
  • Shiina Tamai from Narutaru is a brave, kind-hearted, upbeat Action Girl... who, as per the Deconstructionist nature of the series, is put through a lot of crap. Between watching friends and loved ones die, and seeing that humans are a truly terrible lot, there's only so much trauma she can take before she turns into an example of Result C. The anime version doesn't get anywhere near that far, mind you.
    • Most of the kids connected to the Dragon Children. If they don’t have issues they will quickly get them. Akira is sexually abused by her father, forcibly dragged into a conflict with teenage psychos, mind-rapped at least twice to make her join, locked away for almost a year for killing said father and confronted with dozens of violent deaths. There is also Hirako, who has no-one beside Shiina, is heavily bullied in school and her demanding parents don’t give a damn as long as she has good grades. When her father tries to cut her ties with Shiina she slips.
  • Vash the Stampede from Trigun. As we learn more and more about him two important facts come to mind. 1. He is the unluckiest person who's ever lived. 2. There is someone out there directly responsible for that and he's far from finished. However, Vash takes the route A because he is just that badass.
  • Nana from Nana's Everyday Life.
    • To a lesser extent in Elfen Lied too. Several times she thinks she's finally put her old hellish life behind. Not so. Until the very end of the manga... maybe.
  • Kagura from Ga-Rei Zero. She kills a teacher from her school who was possessed by a demon, gets disowned by her friends, watches as people around her get massacred, sees her best friend and surrogate sister Yomi get turned evil, watches Yomi kill her father, then finally kills Yomi with a knife to the chest, at which point Yomi tells her she loves her.
    • Amazingly, the result is eventually type A, even though it's obvious that nothing can fill that spot for Yomi in Kagura's heart (the current arc of the manga is dealing with this, as someone who looks exactly like Yomi appears.).
    • Mind you, in the arc before the current one Kagura had even worse things happening to her. The turn of events destroyed what little resolve she still possess in order to live, and thus her spiritual beast went absolutely out of control. Life is a lot unfair for Kagura.
    • Forget Kagura, Yomi had it even worse. Yomi's adoptive father his killed by her Seishouseki-mind-controlled adoptive cousin, the cousin takes what was supposed to be her place as the family head and her inheritance, then lures her to a fight. When the cousin admits killing Yomi's father, she goes berserk and kills her. Then Mitogawa attacks Yomi, rendering her quadraplegic and mute, and she is accused of murdering her cousin. Her fiancee Noriyuki is too busy trying to prove her innocence to visit her in the hospital, his father breaks off their Perfectly Arranged Marriage because of her physical condition, and her best friend Kagura abandons her after she admits to killing her cousin. Then Mitogawa gives her the same Seishouseki, which heals her but its mind-control powers provide the extra push to send her Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and killing her former friends. Her Despair Event Horizon is such a Tear Jerker that even after becoming a Type B she is still sympathetic.
  • Almost every major character in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. One good example is Fay, who has a backstory so mindbendingly dramatic it's verging on ridiculous, and during the course of the story manages to be used by the BigBad, be killed (in a virtual world, but still), have an eye gouged out and eaten by his surrogate son, after which he tries to let himself die but is forced to become a vampire by his partner, a curse obliges him to stab his surrogate daughter, his father figure tries to make him kill him right after he finds out the magical creature he made in semblance of his mother has been erased from existence, and then gives up his remaining magic power to get a prosthetic arm for his partner, who had to rip it off to save him once again. And this all happens in around 100 chapters.
  • Houjou Satoko, of Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, is pretty much the ultimate Woobie. Not only did she lose both of her parents by accidentally pushing them off a cliff in a fit of Hinamizawa Syndrome-induced madness, have her brother vanish without warning, and become hated by almost the entire town for supposedly being "cursed," but depending on the scenario, also goes through several other traumatic events:
    • In Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen, she is tortured to death by Sonozaki Shion, after finding out that Shion has also killed both leaders of the village, Satoko's best friend, and is going to torture Satoko's other friends to death (including Shion's twin sister).
    • In Tatarigoroshi-hen, she is brutally abused by her uncle, and is too scared of the very-real threat of him killing her to call child services. She also sees her best friend's bloody, mutilated corpse being eaten by crows and finally cracks, pushing Keiichi off a bridge.
    • In Minagoroshi-hen, she is again abused by her uncle, but is also shot in the face by the Big Bad after nearly overcoming all the hardships in her life. The same Big Bad makes sure she watches the murder all her friends in quick succession, with the knowledge that Rika will be tortured to death afterwards.
    • In Yoigoshi-hen, the Alternate Universe plotline, she is killed along with the rest of her classmates when Rena goes insane and blows up the school.
    • In Yakusamashi-hen and Tsumihoroboshi-hen, she is killed along with the rest of the town when the Big Bad sets off the gas and murders the entire village.
    • It is revealed in her backstory that she was also beaten an inch from death by Shion disguised as Mion. Since this happened before the main plot, it means this applies to every arc. In Saikoroshi-hen, another Alternate Universe, the one who beats her is Rika, her best friend in the normal universe.
      • It is no surprise that most of the Tear Jerker moments in the series come from Satoko.
    • In the sequel, Battler gets all of the garbage that both the real world and the meta-world can possibly heap on him. From the real world, we have entire family murdered (with his father and stepmom, depending on the arc, having faces torn off, or intestines stuffed with candy), watching younger cousin turn from a cute little girl into a Cute and Psycho Creepy Child overnight, shot by his own aunt in one arc, figuring out that three people banished under suspicion of being the murderer were sent to their own deaths by having THEIR faces torn off, and that's just the beginning. The meta-world does everything to him from melting his cousins into unrecognizable piles of flesh to feeding him alive to goat-headed butlers.
      • And then he finds out his late mother wasn't his real mom, putting him in such a bad Heroic BSOD that his brain shuts down and he physically vanishes for awhile. Only to be brought back by his sister! Yay! ...Who he finds out is his sister only as the universe is turning her into a delicious hamburger. Then EP6 he is one of the first six victims of the FIRST TWILIGHT. Sure he survived but how LONG was he STUCK in that room is horrifying. And the crazy part about it? HE PLANNED IT!
  • In Bleach, there are quite a few characters who fall victim to this. Kuchiki Rukia, Hinamori Momo, and Inoue Orihime are the worst off.
    • Later, Ichigo himself got the worst conga yet, by a long shot.
  • This happens to Mai Kujaku/Valentine. She was Mind Raped during the Battle City Finals and her subsequent inadvertent Face Heel Turn that gets her in arguably even worse danger during the Doma saga in Yu-Gi-Oh!!.
    • This happens on much a higher, much more heartbreaking scale to Judai Yuki in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, and could very well pass as the best example of this trope next to Naruto down below in Shonen anime history.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has Negi. Lets see, he's never known his parents, saw his entire hometown get destroyed at about age 6 or so, gets attacked by a vampire with a grudge against his father, inadvertently causes several of his students to get sold into slavery in the Magic World, gets framed for a terrorist attack (along with his other students), starts to lose control of his Black Magic, and when he finally discovered who his mother is, it turns out that most of the Magic World hates her because they think she's a genocidal maniac. And yet, he still manages to hold a positive outlook on life, making him a case of type A.
    • He does occasionally show a few Type D traits. He's been shown to have some really severe hatred for those who destroyed his hometown, and it is suggested that, unconsciously, his real reason for learning how to fight so well was to exact revenge on those responsible. The fact that he specifically learned a spell designed to outright kill demons is telling...
  • Almost everyone in Monster, but Nina should get a special mention.
  • Naruto and Sasuke definitely qualify. The former was a life long outcast who never knew his parents at the beginning, before being told exactly why in a very brutal manner. All his peers treat him like trash, and he has to fight for every bit of respect he can. Not too much later, the closest thing to a grandfather and only family member he has dies, swiftly followed by his best friend's betrayal and attempt to kill him. He then spends 3 years away from his friends for the sole purpose of bringing back said best friend, and when he gets back, one of them dies for a little while. Thankfully, he got better. Then he once again meets traitorous friend, and he once again attempts to kill him. Some time later, a third retrieval fails. Now then, here's where it really starts. In rapid succession, his teacher and father(?) figure dies, his village is destroyed and he watches someone declare their love for him and then immediately get stabbed. Then he his hopes of bringing his best friend back are shattered by revelation after revelation.
    • Sasuke isn't exactly happy either. First his family is killed, and he is forced to watch it over and over again. All of this at the hands of his beloved brother. Just as he was beginning to open up more, he is humiliated time and again by the supposed dead last as he beats enemies even he couldn't. Then, he finally meets his brother again, where he gets beaten and Mind Raped again. This drives him into a Face Heel Turn that Word of God says was quite painful for him, but that doesn't count. All is good for a time, until he achieves his goal. He is then told about how that was all a lie, his recently dead brother really was a good guy who loved him, and how his idolised family were actually traitors. He then suffers a series of defeats, one after another as he tries to get his revenge. Though once again, the most recent doesn't count due to working for the Big Bad.
    • Naruto is lucky to be as well adjusted as he is, and Sasuke... well it doesn't excuse his actions, but it does make it easier to see why he is doing what he is.
    • Don't forget some of the other characters. Gaara, Kimimaro and Pain are stand outs. Notably a lot of them end up going the antagonist route (until Naruto shows them the error of their ways).
      • FYI, that makes Naruto a type a, Sasuke a mixture of B and D, Gaara a B -> A and Pain a type B.
  • In One Piece, Luffy finally had a Heroic BSOD after a Conga Line that started way back in Shabondy and was compounded by events that only succeeded in twisting in the knife.
  • Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin is a mix between a Type A and a Type E.
    • Considering that Kenji basically becomes an orphan and most of his childhood consists of waiting for his redemption-obsessed father and watching his mother slowly dying from the grief and a skin illness she caught from said father, his life doesn't look much better.
  • Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has basically everyone close to him die, and no matter how much Screw Destiny is the theme of the series there seems to be nothing he can do to prevent it. In the end, he abandons Spiral Power entirely, because he knows first hand how destructive it is.
  • Elfen Lied. The anime traumatizes the characters enough already, and let's just not get into the manga...
  • Allen Walker, from D.Gray-man. Even before the series starts, he's abandoned by his parents at birth because of his apparently deformed arm. As a very young child he works at a circus where he's beaten by the clowns. He's finally adopted by Mana at the age of seven, only to lose him three years later. The Millennium Earl promptly manipulates a griefstricken Allen into making a contract to bring his foster father back, only to have Mana come back horribly wrong and curse him. Allen is forced by his own anti-Akuma weapon arm to kill his now-Akuma father and the trauma turns his hair white. Allen then goes through Training from Hell with his Jerkass mentor General Cross for four years, which leads to him becoming an exorcist and the start of the series.
    • After the series starts, the hits keep coming, including having his Innocence seemingly destroyed and getting a hole torn out of his heart thanks to Tyki; having his friends disappear one by one as the Ark disintegrates around him; and having the only place that he could ever call home, the Order, almost be destroyed by a Level Four Akuma attack. Think he deserves a break? Not a chance. After nearly killing himself to fight off the Level 4 Akuma, he is told that he is the host of the mysterious Fourteenth Noah who's going to take over his body, and in the process of doing so, will destroy Allen's personality and force him to kill someone who he loves dearly. His mentor General Cross suddenly disappears under highly suspicious circumstances. Now Allen's being treated by almost everyone in the Order as a potential threat that needs to be ruthlessly eliminated at the smallest sign of stepping out of line. And in the most recent chapters, the Fourteenth is not only awakening inside Allen, but is capable of taking control of Allen's body without any warning in his quest to become the next Millennium Earl. Iron Woobie, indeed.
  • Madoka Magica more or less is this trope. Much of the plot is about Sayaka going nuts because of everything that happens to her, which further traumatizes Madoka. Homura's past is one long string of things going horribly wrong no matter how hard she tries to prevent it.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist- Another one that most would answer with "Everyone", however this is especially true for Roy, Riza, and everyone who had to live through both Ishval and the Promised Day storylines.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Natsuhi seems to have a day from hell in the 5th game.
  • Alice from Nemurihime. In the space of eight chapters she has lost her father, was stricken with a disease that will kill her in a year, was frozen for fifty years, learned that her doctor was in love with her but married another woman to have a family. His wife became so desparate for his affection that she figured they could only be Together in Death, which caused the doctor's son to hate Alice so much he unfroze her just to torture her for the rest of her life -- which will be one year because there's still no cure for her disease. According to those who read the whole thing it gets worse. Poor Alice.
  • Clannad: Tomoya Okazaki. [[This Is Gonna Suck Oooohhhhhh, boy...
  • In Pokémon Special, White goes through one over the span of what couldn't have been more than an hour, and to make things worse all this happens immediately after the highest moment of her life. Though it takes a little while, she resolves to become a Type A.
  • The title character of Inuyasha has so much of this it's ridiculous.
  • Rintaro Okabe from Steins;Gate had to go through seeing his childhood friend die repeatedly no matter what he does, and when he finally manages to save her, it's at the cost of sacrificing the love of his life for it.
  • After a childhood full of emotional and (implied) physical abuse at the hands of his mother and, as an adolescent, more abuse (and an attempt on his life) at the hands of his half-brother, Kazutaka Muraki, the main villain of Yami no Matsuei, becomes a very creepy Result B.

Comic Books

  • Quite surprisingly, even The Joker himself may not have started out as a bad person. Alan Moore's The Killing Joke shows how losing your pregnant wife and getting disfigured on the same damned day can turn even a decent human being into a mass-murdering maniac. Bear in mind, however, that this story was the trope namer for Multiple Choice Past, as the Joker later admits he remembers his "bad day" differently from day to day.

"All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That's how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day. You had a bad day once. Am I right? I know I am. I can tell. You had a bad day and everything changed."

    • But contrary to this, Gordon fails to break under the Joker's torments. Batman tells the Joker: "Gordon's fine. Maybe it was just you all along."
  • If the Joker thought he'd had one bad day, he should've seen what happened to Zomax, the villain of a 1941 Jungle Comics story by the notoriously grim cult-favourite cartoonist Fletcher Hanks. It begins when Zomax goes hunting in the jungle and is jumped and mutilated by a lion he'd mortally wounded and was about to finish off when his gun jammed. Then a "man-hating" elephant tosses him into a pond where he's stung by poisonous gnats, causing his face to swell. Upon crawling out of the water, he encounters a boa constrictor that crushes several of his bones. Next, an ape takes him to its lair, where for several months it beats him like a drum with bones. Small wonder that Zomax, after escaping the jungle and emerging from the hospital severely crippled, vows to exact revenge on all jungle animals by causing a massive tidal wave.
  • Tim Drake, the current—er, former Robin, is going through a rather rough time, with the predictable result that Tim's mental state and judgement are starting to slip. Several innocent bystanders have already been accidentally killed due to his negligence, and he's cut himself off from any healthy emotional support to instead seek an alliance with mass murdering vigilante Jason Todd. After Jason pulled his sudden yet inevitable betrayal and, after murdering a couple dozen people, stabbed Tim through the chest with a batarang when Tim attempted to register his objections, Tim, now as Red Robin, left Gotham City in search of Bruce Wayne and reached Jason levels of brutality. For some good news, at the end of his first (real-time) year as Red Robin, Tim actually makes it to type A.
  • Weirdly enough, Tim Drake's mentor, the goddamned Batman himself is a type F. He's lost sidekicks, allies both superpowered and non-, and has had multiple efforts to try to make something out of his life crushed. But he's still pretty much the same person he was at the beginning of his Darker and Edgier remake as he is now.
    • His transition from young Bruce Wayne to Batman is type E though. But when he is Batman, he stay at type F.
  • Spider-Man is also a Type F. Repeatedly loses loved ones? Check. Hated by the city he's sworn to protect? Check. Makes no progress whatsoever in his life? Check. Has Spider-Man really changed for the better or worse, though? Not really.
    • Blame Executive Meddling for that. Spider-Man has progressed in his life - he was happily married, and he may be a Hero with Bad Publicity but other heroes know perfectly well how amazingly good he is, both as a person and at what he does. And he even made some improvements here and there on the publicity. But then One More Day came and reset most of the above.
      • Before that, Spidey had a Type A origin, and has lost, in no particular order, his robo-parents, his actress-aunt, his first true love, his marriage (talking about the brief separation that ended through the Straczinsky run), his best friend Harry, some love interests and pals (we still miss you, Captain De Wolff), has suffered by every one of them, and then he grew a few more. In fact, before One More Day, this trope could have been called "The Parker".
  • Daredevil on the other hand is a Type E, especially after Kingpin put him through the wringer in his excellent Born Again series.
  • Robert Kirkman's Astonishing Wolf-Man. Hoo boy, it's impressive how crappy the title character's life got so quickly. So he was a wealthy CEO shredded by a werewolf, became one himself, lost his multi-million dollar company, got an oh-so-brief respite of awesome when he got some control over his wolf form and became a superhero, found out he still became a murderous beast during a full moon by killing a well-known superhero, became estranged from his wife and daughter, found out that his vampiric mentor killed his wife, got framed for said murder (including, worst of all, in the eyes of his daughter), became a fugitive, got another minor respite when he became friends with a prominent superhero, reluctantly got a minor alliance with someone he already knew was hugely bad news, was thrown into prison, and was stabbed in the chest by his own daughter, who'd turned to the previously mentioned vampiric mentor to avenge her mother's death (and let him drink some blood from her), not knowing she was training with the real killer! Whew! It was only in issue 17 that his life took any appreciable change for the better.
  • Madelyne Pryor is a full-on Type D. After her husband abandons her and her infant son for reasons unexplained, she tries to get on with her life. Then she's ambushed by a squad of superpowered assassins out to kill her and steal her baby. They only succeed in the latter. Then she goes on the run with the one's idea of a relaxing vacation at the best of times...and starts falling in love with her brother-in-law. After finding some semblance of equilibrium with the team, she starts working as their tech support, and just happens to find her disappeared husband on a news broadcast...standing alongside a woman who looks just like her. Cue BSOD, and Deal with the Devil. Finally to top everything off, she meets a man who claims to be responsible for cloning her from the same woman her husband ditched her for! The resulting Roaring Rampage of Revenge comes as a surprise to no one.
  • Roy Harper, the former sidekick of Green Arrow, has had it pretty rough recently. In Cry for Justice he got his arm chopped off by Prometheus. Then Prometheus and his accomplice the Electrocutioner unleashed a Kill Sat on Star City, killing thousands including Roy's daughter Lian. This drove him back to drug abuse, which just made things worse. To add insult to injury, when he and Cheshire got involved, he couldn't perform, so to speak. He became a Type E Jerkass, railing against his former friends and teammates, going so far as to blame Mia for Lian's death and calling Donna a whore when she tried to sympathize with him. Later he became a full-on Type B when he agreed to join Deathstroke's Titans (a team of assassins for hire) though it's heavily implied that this was an act he and Cheshire cooked up together in a bid to kill Deathstroke.
  • X-Men‍'‍s Rahne Sinclair/Wolfsbane. To say she's had it rough is putting it lightly.
  • Ultimate Reed Richards, as of the end of Ultimatum, cementing himself as a hybrid between Types B & F.
  • Tony Stark's entire life consists of one traumatic event after another, mixed with a morass of personal issues covering everything from alcohol to troubled romantic relationships, an angst-and-tragedy-ridden personal and professional life that include, but is not limited to, traitorous/murderous friends and business partners who have tried to destroy him and his friends multiple times, all combined with a ridiculous amount of overwork [1] that is directly responsible for most of the aforementioned trauma, to the point where he has had to basically completely rebuild his life from the ground up on several different occasions.

Fan Works

  • Used for a few chapters in the The Princess and the Frog fanfiction A Son for a King. Charlotte's banker husband demands sex from Tiana in exchange for giving her a loan and for not asking for the money back, and when she refuses, he tells Charlotte that Tiana tried to bribe him with sex so as not to have to pay back the loan. Charlotte then goes to Tiana's house and yells at her, and breaks off their friendship. Tiana's mother then persuades her to go on a date with a man she has no attraction to, and on the date, he is stabbed by racists and has to be taken to the hospital by Tiana where it turns out he has lied about his name, as well as the fact that he is married to a woman who then arrives at the hospital and chases Tiana around the hospital room, calling her a tramp and screaming at her for sleeping with her husband (which she didn't do). Once she gets back to her mother's house, it's revealed that her house and restaurant have been set on fire by the Ku Klux Klan. She then collapses on the floor, yelling, "I've been a good person my entire life. I followed all the rules. Why do these things keep happening to me?" It's all quite hilarious.
  • The Firefly fanfic Forward does this to most of the crew, especially for River. Aside from being kidnapped and tortured by Niska, she's also undergone multiple mental breakdowns due to her insanity, she's been nearly eaten by Reavers, and has been repeatedly Mind Raped by another psychic escapee from the Academy. Not a single "episode" in the story passes without River being repeatedly punched in the gut.
  • The Death Note postseries fanfic arc Redeemer by CocoaCoveredGods lays this on Light like woah. Being stripped of his identity as Kira was only the beginning- so far, he's been killed multiple times, buried alive, tortured, raped (again, multiple times), suffered two mental breakdowns and been attacked by an axe-wielding psychopath in a scene that even L found difficult to look at the aftermath of. And some of this at the hands of people he loves. It's no wonder he's a gibbering wreck by the start of the fourth fic.
    • So does True Elision by Ezan, another post-series fanfic. Having been given a second chance to have a proper afterlife and avoid being transformed in a Shinigami, Light is forced to face a Trial from hell and battle his worst nightmares (which include being torn apart by the thousands of people he directly killed with their bare hands while being unable to move and having a handful of hair forcefully shoved down his throat. Multiple times. And that's just the first level...).
  • This is Deadlock's intention in The Legend Of Spyro: A New Dawn. She intends to inflict one on Spyro and Cynder because she suffered one that she blaims them for. Her own included having her mate and unborn children killed in front of her and apparently having her adult children killed by Dark Cynder.
  • The Team Fortress 2 Zombie Apocalypse fanfiction Respawn of the Dead tortures just about every member of the team, but a special mention has to be given to The Medic. Over the course of the fic, he gets the crap beaten out of him by The Soldier, has to leave The Heavy behind to be devoured by zombies, and after recovering from the Heroic BSOD caused by that, he has to Mercy Kill his Morality Pet, the Pyro. Yeah.
  • Fallout Equestria is no picnic for its protagonist Littlepip - continually shot at (she isn't nicknamed Bulletsponge for nothing), had friends die on her, the works. But its side fics Fallout Equestria Project Horizons and Heroes extend the Line even further.
  • Ace Combat: The Equestrian War has Firefly, who had a pretty rough childhood... to say the least.
  • Imperfect Metamorphosis has Rin Satsuki, whose backstory starts with being kidnapped as a child by slavers and only gets worse from there. Over the course of the story itself she is attacked, brutalised, betrayed, at one point her mind is literally shattered, and nearly everyone in Gensoukyou wants her dead. It is no mystery whatsoever that she becomes a Death Seeker.


  • Poor Harvey Dent, the White Knight of Gotham, was a prime candidate for vicious brainwashing by the disgustingly hateful Joker after losing Rachel, the love of his life, and half his face in a gas explosion. His transformation into the cynical monster Two-Face only took a the slightest of nudge on the evil bastard's part.
  • This trope drives much of the events in the Coen brothers' 2009 film A Serious Man; it's played for dark comedy.
  • The film version of 1408 is essentially the story of one man getting repeatedly kicked in the balls, by an "evil, fucking room."
  • Precious, anyone?
  • Serenity sees fit to kick Mal in the balls over and over again. Also, the only reason it doesn't kick River in the balls is because she's already been hammered plenty of times prior to the movie, and, well, she doesn't even have a set to be kicked in anyway.
  • The Human Centipede is an unusually literal use of the trope. Do I really need to spell it out?
  • Present in a good number of Don Bluth films. Fievel just never gets a break in An American Tail; in The Land Before Time Littlefoot sees his mother die, his herd separated, and his home destroyed, with only his few friends as support. Good thing Don Bluth believes in happy endings; too bad you have to earn the hell out of them.
  • In the Thor film, Loki goes through one heck of a trauma roller coaster as his Start of Darkness.


  • This is a most popular plot device for sentimental 19th-century novels such as Dog of Flanders, Uncle Tom's Cabin and A Little Princess, as well as their anime adaptations in the World Masterpiece Theater.
  • Older Than Feudalism: The Book of Job (from The Bible) springs to mind.
    • And it's pretty Narmful when Job's messengers come in one after the other to tell the bad news, and each starts talking before the previous one has finished. You can practically see Job Face Faulting and sporting a big Sweat Drop by the end of it.
    • Robert A. Heinlein wrote a deliberate parody/deconstruction of Job in Job: A Comedy of Justice, in which the protagonist is subjected to a set of mind-twisting disasters and reality twists apparently being engineered by Satan. The twist comes after he's whisked away to Heaven in the Rapture, when it turns out that God was the one behind it all.
  • Candide is the lord and master of this trope. Almost every single character falls victim to this.
  • In Fahrenheit 451, Guy Montag by the end has had his secret work for La Résistance discovered and smashed, his wife killed, his friend and mentor "disappeared", and been forced to burn down his own house, all the while his Magnificent Bastard of an opponent laughs about how they're Not So Different. It's a relief to see Beatty meet his Karmic Death and Montag eventually get at least a Bittersweet Ending; the play makes it a Happy Ending.
    • Except, that Bradbury wrote the story for the text-adventure sequel, and he cheerfully gives Montag and Clarisse a Bolivian Army Ending.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold has explicitly stated that she generates her plots by asking herself what the worst possible thing she can do to the hero is. For example, in her Miles Vorkosigan novel Memory she begins by having interstellar superagent Miles notice he is suffering from seizures from injuries sustained in the last book. Next he makes the bad decision to personally lead a prisoner rescue mission anyway and ends up having a seizure in mid mission. While have the seizure he accidentally saws off the legs of the prisoner he was rescuing with a plasma gun. Then he lies about the seizures on his After Action Report because he is afraid of getting a desk job. This gets him cashiered. And this is just the plot setup in the first few chapters! Miles, fortunately, always manages to achieve Result A.
    • Later on she refined her philosophy to "the worst possible thing that the hero can still learn a useful lesson from." For example, despite the political trouble the circumstances of Tien Vorsoisson's death caused Miles in A Civil Campaign, a far more thorough and protracted torture could have been produced for Miles simply by not killing Tien off in Komarr and letting Miles suffer for years knowing that the woman he loves is married to someone else and thus condemning them both to suffer nobly, unrequited, for years. (That Ekaterin was going to leave Tien anyway cuts no ice—both Miles' and Ekaterin's honor would never have allowed them to remotely act on any mutual attraction so long as her husband was still alive). However, since going this route would have been dramatically pointless, Bujold didn't. So very occasionally, her characters do actually get cut a break.
  • JRR Tolkien specialized in these: the plot of The Silmarillion is basically driven by a series of Heroic BSODs brought on by excessive disaster. Probably the best example is Túrin; others include Fingolfin (result D), Húrin (possibly B, then C), the Sons of Fëanor (all over the spectrum, excluding A) Fëanor himself (D), and Tuor (a rare A).
  • Captain Lawrence in the Temeraire book, Victory Of Eagles. He starts the book off under a death sentence for treason and ends it sailing off in exile to Australia, on the books as a prisoner. In between, he has to put up with half the Aerial Corps despising him as a traitor (the other half thinks he did the right thing), his commanding officer/lover chewing him out for his Lawful Stupidity that gained him traitor tag, the husband of a former love interest he'd treated badly getting killed helping him on a a covert mission, and his personal fortune getting wiped out by a lawsuit. And did we mention Napoleon has invaded England while all this is going on?
  • Harry Potter. Nearly every adult authority figure either despises Harry and tortures him, or is killed protecting him. He also is the witness to several of his friends and loved ones being murdered. If your family was murdered while you were a baby and you bear a scar from that event the rest of your life, and it WASN'T the worst thing to ever happen to you, you have a seriously messed-up life.
  • Vanyel Ashkevron of the Heralds of Valdemar series. He starts out life hated and abused by his father and brothers for the sin of being gay, which they deliberately try to keep him from figuring out. When he finally gets a Love Interest, he's Driven to Suicide. The earthshattering magical powers Vanyel gets as a result only serve to make him the go-to guy for every problem Valdemar has, to the point where he can't take a break for five minutes without the kingdom falling apart. Then, just when he makes up with his family, someone starts picking off his friends one by one. This nearly causes him to break his oath as a Herald as he storms off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, only to walk into a trap in which he's serially raped into a Heroic BSOD. After recovering from that, he's forced to give up his new Love Interest in order to deliver a final Heroic Sacrifice to save the kingdom. To top it all off, the Aesop appears to be Comes Great Responsibility.
    • Mercedes Lackey has a basic formula to give her characters Angst: Drop a mountain on them. Let them recover slightly. Drop another mountain on them. Repeat.
  • The title character of The Dresden Files. His mother died in childbirth, his father died when he was a child, he had to kill his adoptive father when the latter tried to mentally enslave him along with his first girlfriend, he spent the next decade or so living under a "one-strike-you're-out" death penalty by his fellow wizards, his next girlfriend got turned into a half-vampire, terrible things keep happening to his friends, he can barely make rent, and there isn't a single book in which he isn't beaten, shot, burned, knifed, and/or just plain tortured. And then came Changes...

"Typical. Even when you're dead, it doesn't get any easier."

    • And he was right. After all he's gone through in Changes, Ghost Story cranks it up beyond eleven.
  • This is where we get to mention Henry again. He'd be a C. all the way—were it not for the titular character.
  • Murtagh from The Inheritance Cycle. The main article describes his life as a series of people kicking him in the balls. As of the ending of the 2nd book, he's well on his way to becoming Type B.
  • This happens to most of the characters in Sometimes A Great Notion, but the one who gets it worst has to be Hank. He loses his father, who dies of blood loss after losing his arm in a logging accident; he fails to save his cousin Joby from drowning while trapped under a log from the same logging accident; his half-brother Leland tells him he was having an affair with Hank's wife Vivian and then blames him for driving Leland's mother to suicide by having sex with her, even though she was several years older and it would count as statutory rape - and says all this immediately after leaving their father's deathbed; his wife Vivian leaves him; and the whole town gangs up on him for refusing to join their logging strike. All in the same day.
  • What is it with people named some variation of "Henry"? In The Time Traveler's Wife, Henry has no control over what he can and cannot time-travel to. Want proof that someone has it in for him? He time-travelled to his mother's death more times than we can count. And hasn't been able to do a damn thing to stop to.
  • Chinese Cinderella, full stop. The main character is blamed for her mother's Death by Childbirth and mistreated by her birth siblings and Wicked Stepmother. Her father disregards her to the point he can't remember her birthday or name. She adopts a duckling that her family feeds to the guard dog. Her friends at school throw her a surprise party, earning her a vicious beating from her stepmother. She's separated from her beloved aunt and grandpa, then sent to a boarding school in the path of Communist uprisings. After her family moves, she's sent to a different school, but still neglected and then bullied by her peers. She wins a writing contest, but her grandfather dies immediately after. The closest the book comes to a happy ending is that her father notices her grades and sends her to college. And this was all based on the author's real life.
  • Zsadist has this in spades. He was abducted from his family as an infant, sold into slavery, and then the moment he became an adult his mistress began raping him. Often she'd let her other male slaves watch, or even have them join in. He was sometimes kept bound to a pallet on the floor, flat on his back, for days at a time—y'know, so he'd be in the right position when the mood struck her. She'd often neglect to feed him or give him the blood he needed, and liked to beat him when he offered any form of resistance. (His back is a mass of scars because of this.) It took more than a century for his twin to track him down and rescue him, and in the attempt his mistress' enraged husband scarred Z's face with a sword. Oh, and later on his girlfriend is kidnapped and tortured by vampire-slayers.
  • Seyonne in the Rai-Kirah books. He's been a slave for sixteen years by the time we're introduced to him, and is basically just waiting to die. Then things get worse. He spends a good chunk of the second book in hell being arbitrarily tortured, and the third book ends with him stripped of his powers and about half his memory...and those are just a couple of the highlights.
  • Alex Rider's parents are killed when he's an infant, he's raised by his housekeeper as his guardian is either away or training him to be a spy, his uncle dies and he is recruited into taking his place, he witnesses enormous horrors and is scarred for life. And then there's Jack's death, which destroys Alex.
  • The Hunger Games: Peeta Mellark falls in love with Katniss, is thrown into an arena to fight to the death with her, goes back into the arena to fight her to the death again, has a heart attack, gets left behind when Katniss leaves, is tortured to the point of seemingly irreparable insanity, and never stops having insane outbursts. Ouch.
    • Don't forget Katniss. Her father is killed in a mining accident, she goes to The Hunger Games, she is forced to fake love to someone who really loves her during and after the games, she goes back into the games, she accidentally becomes the face of a rebellion, she goes into a battlezone and watches her sister explode. Not to mention her breakdown after she shoots Coin.
      • They both saw a lot of people die.
    • Invoked by Capital for all victorius tributes. As children they are put through Deadly Games, where they are forced to kill, or be killed not only by other tributes but also by most of the things on the arena. These experiences are enough to make most of them Shell Shocked Veterans, but Capital doesn’t leave kids alone and puts them through even more suffering for the rest of their lives, making sure There Are No Therapists to help. They can’t even fight back with lives of their loved ones on line and are Forced to Watch as people they know participate in the same Deadly Games. Taken Up to Eleven when victors are faced with a possibility of coming back on the arena and having to kill people they’ve became friends with. At the end only seven victorious tributes remain (out of 50), because both Capital and rebels target them to make sure they can’t support the opposite side.
  • For someone whose books are geared towards women, Danielle Steel tends to employ this with disturbing frequency. One of her books starts off with the protagonist's mother dying from cancer, then killing her father after years of him sexually abusing her (which her mother has told her that she must submit to, as she can no longer fulfill his sexual needs). Then she's sent to jail for murder, where she's nearly beaten by her fellow inmates. After her release, she starts to rebuild her life—and then she's viciously attacked and beaten on her way home from work and left unable to have children. Then after she's married a wonderful man and built a life with him, revelations about her past come out and nearly destroy her marriage, etc. The only redeeming factor is that ending is always Scenario A.
    • Similarly heroines in Catherine Cookson books are born to suffer, and spend much of the novel(s) having all sorts of angst thrown at them. They don't necessarily get a happy ending either. They very often settle for a life that's not quite as miserable as the one they've gone before. Example: One girl became a mistress to her rapist (and father of her child) when she decided he was actually quite a nice man. He had undergone some character development, but even so...
  • Sidney Sheldon was awfully fond of this trope too. What's worse is that he often likes to cap it off with a Scenario B or C ending.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire is one big conga line for several characters, but the ones inflicted on Arya and Sansa Stark, starting with their father's death, are especially brutal.
    • Not to mention the brutality of pretty much everything that happens to Theon Greyjoy in A Dance With Dragons
      • Heavily implied that Littlefinger, perhaps the closest thing to the Big Bad in this series (besides The Others), went through this when he was younger, leading to Result B with a splattering Result D.
  • Michael get's dragged through one in the first two books of the Knight and Rogue Series, consisting of multiple abductions, use as a test subject, and ostracization. He spends the second book a little broken but manages to come out in almost as good of shape as he was in the beginning, by means lots of distractions and help from Fisk.
  • Stoneheart has Edie, whose backstory is horrifying (especially for a children's book) and whose role in the actual story isn't much better. Because most of it happens in backstory, it's unclear what Eddie would have been like without it, but she seems to become more generally badass as the series goes on, though not without a touch of woobie thrown in. What makes all this even worse is that she's only twelve.

Live Action TV

  • Eastenders. Ronnie Mitchell. Her time on the show is best described currently as God taking one giant crap on her life. All she wants is a child but if she has one, it ends up dead...and then there is the fact she was raped as a child, her husband shot in the head (although he survived albeit crippled a while), family dysfunction that the former Matriach wants her to look after, and she was recently seen banging on the door of her mother's flat screaming "Mummy!" like a scared child after her latest baby died in cot death.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Writing everything that happened to that poor girl over the series would result in Walls of Text, but the major ones: Briefly dying and resulting PTSD, Angel turning evil and killing Jenny, having to kill Angel, Angel leaving, her mother's death, her sister's the key, she dies and is dragged out of heaven, and the attempted rape. And I am not touching the other characters.
    • The two-part episode "Becoming" is another conga line all crammed into a couple of days that include having a fellow slayer killed, her friends attacked (and one almost killed), being blamed for a murder and chased by the police, having her mother throw her out of the house, and being forced to kill Angel moments after he turned good again. It's really no wonder she fled to L.A. after all that.
  • Throughout Stargate SG-1, the eponymous team are on the receiving end of a seemingly endless series of pain and suffering and defeat, and it's fortunate There Are No Therapists, because if they were real people someone would be making a fortune off of their PTSD. And Daniel Jackson manages to not only suffer more than the other three members combined, but each instance is even more devastating. After all, all of them have had love interests die, but Daniel is the only one who had them shot to death in front of him.
  • Stargate Atlantis, while you're at it. Lots of people, but Ronon Dex especially.
  • Supernatural. You would not want to be a Winchester. Or an angel on their side. Or their love interest.
    • Dean just keeps getting hit by more and more tragedies and still has to stumble to get up and go on. Let's recap shall we? First off, his mother dies when he's a kid, leaving him to be dragged across the country in pursuit of Revenge, then his father goes missing, so he has to team-up with his estranged brother to find him; next his father dies exchanging his soul for Dean's leaving him with horrific Survivor Guilt; his brother dies, leaving Dean to make another Deal with the Devil and 1 year to live (being constantly tormented by his upcoming damnation); next he is ripped to shreds by hell-hounds and spends 40 years equivalent in Hell.

Then he is resurrected by angels to serve their purpose, constantly being haunted by the memories of his soul-destroying torture with more guilt pertaining to the fact that he broke the first seal for the Apocalypse; next he tries to handle his brother becoming a junkie addicted to demon blood; and finally he fails to stop his brother setting off the apocalypse, resulting in him spending the 5th season hunting down the four horsemen of the apocalypse and trying to put Lucifer back in his cage, so far losing hope that he agrees to let Michael possess him to defeat Lucifer even though that will raze the world. His brother's faith makes him take it back, but then Dean loses his brother again. Also, his childhood was filled with neglect and emotional abuse. Natch. It's no wonder Famine told him that he was dead and empty inside.

    • Sam went through life fearing he was some kind of freak, and then it turned out he really was. His fiance-girlfriend dies at the very beginning of the series; every other woman he has ever gotten close to has died a horrible death or betrayed him, leading him to be emotionally scarred and introverted; he never lived up to the expectations of his family; was constantly denied the chance to live a normal life because of demons; was forced into hunting and the family lifestyle; his dad disowned him for going to college; his father told his brother to kill him; he's apparently an abomination of God because his mother made a deal to sell him to a demon when he was born; he never got to know said mother as she died when he was a baby because of him.

When Sam's murdered, Dean sells his soul to bring him back (and spends 40 years in hell because of it, while Sam spends that 4-month period suicidal and becomes addicted to demon blood); he accidentally starts the apocalypse trying to stop it, and then in season five finds out he's the vessel for Lucifer and that he was destined to be the Anti Christ; at the end of season five, he sacrificed himself to lock Lucifer away, knowing he'd be tortured by Archangels Lucifer and Michael for averting the Apocalypse; and as of season seven had some version of schizophrenia/mental illness due to nearly two centuries of torture in which his soul was effectively flayed and then pushed back into him after centuries of mutilation done to it. Conclusion: It's not fun to be a Winchester.

  • Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood. Between "Exit Wounds" and Children of Earth, it's no wonder he gave up and left to travel in space.
  • Angel: Pretty much Connor's entire life up till Season 4 was one long Trauma Conga Line. (Not that his life was great after that; there was a brief pause, but only so we could see the damage.) In fact, things get even worse in season 4. The pleasant part of his life before a total memory wipe was the time period between seasons 3 and 4, which lasted about 3 months.
  • Happens twice in Scrubs, first to Elliot and then later to J.D.. The difference is, while the show treats Elliot as a poor, sympathetic victim who everyone (especially J.D.) rallies around and supports, it treats J.D. as an annoying, whiny, emotionally over-needy loser who everyone only tolerates because "he's our friend". Probably because Elliot has girl parts.
    • Actually, during Elliot's crap, she doesn't try to get help from others and closes herself off. Most of the series has her personally dealing with her issues with some venting from time to time. JD, on the other hand, had become far too dependent on his friends and his constant self-pity had been going on for seven years by that point. It's when he saw just how annoying he could be by watching others does he start to really deal with his problems on his own instead of relying on others. It's easier to help someone when they're trying to help themselves then someone who constantly annoys you instead of dealing with their own life themselves.
    • More than once, JD has wryly noted that sometimes the hospital doesn't space out tragedies and disasters so that the doctors have time to pull themselves together after each one—sometimes it just piles the suckitude on until you can't take it any more (for example, "My Lunch").
  • Happens to Tommy in Rescue Me nearly every episode, although some are worse than others. He's a Type F, and remains a lying, scheming, womanizing, short-tempered, alcoholic, self-centered asshole for five seasons.
  • While not technically the hero, Dollhouse's Topher seems to be the definition of this trope. Nothing seems to go well for the poor bloke.
  • In M*A*S*H*, this happens to every main character at least once. Hawkeye and Margaret, in particular, get it the most, partly because they've been there the longest.
  • The Doctor of Doctor Who is a prime candidate for having the worse life ever. Before the series even begins he's on the run from his own people, who never regard him as anything more than a madman and a renegade (and that's before he becomes the Last of His Kind). Every single person he loves or is close to in any way dies or leaves, though not before being inflicted with the horrors of the universe thanks to their association with him, and he always ends up alone. No matter where he goes he frequently lands in the middle of wars and invasions and general misery, enduring every pain and torture imaginable, including dying again and again in horrible ways, and witnessing the deaths of uncountable people. And no matter how much good he does or how many people he saves, his worst enemies always survive and half the universe either hates him or fears him. It's nothing short of a miracle he hasn't just given up.
    • The Tenth Doctor attracted both extensive praise and criticism for suffering everything that could possibly go wrong at every possible opportunity. By "The End of Time", everyone close to him had moved on, voluntarily or otherwise, the closest thing he had to a friend was one old man who still believed in him (who he dies to save), and his almost maniacal desire to Screw Destiny and avoid his "song" ending was less about self-preservation and more desperately trying to keep hold of the last thing that hadn't been taken from him.
    • Amy Pond is the trope's poster girl for the series, going through severe emotional trauma every two episodes on average. Every possible kind of hardship seems to find its way into her life, and her husband Rory is forced to live with every bit of it as well. The Doctor eventually realises this, dropping her and her husband Rory off home before he gets them killed, but they're confirmed as returning in the following season and Amy's having severe My God, What Have I Done? feelings over killing Madam Kovarian.
    • River Song has been through her share of this. Or will be. Or both.
  • The Wire has Randy Wagstaff in Season 4 who is only 13 to 14 years old. He confesses to knowing about a murder to his school principal to avoid getting in trouble and the drug kingpin in the streets, Marlo Stanfield, finds out about it and decides to ruin his life and puts out the word that he's a snitch. Everyone avoids Randy or beats him. Then in the Wham! Episode, his house is firebombed, his foster mother brutally burned, and despite all the help of a police sergeant, he is sent to a foster home where other kids, knowing he's a snitch, beat him daily.
  • The backstory of Veronica Mars. A few months before the show started, Veronica's boyfriend broke up with her for no reason. Then her best friend was brutally murdered. Then her dad got fired from his job as sheriff, and the related events made her a social pariah in school. Then her mom abandoned her without warning. Then she was drugged and raped at a party, and the new sheriff refused to even investigate. The end result is a Type E, turning her from a popular, fun-loving high schooler to a jaded misanthrope Kid Detective with no respect for authority.
  • Tara from True Blood. She starts out as the rational, fiesty, voice of reason but complications involving her alcoholic mother, the love of her life murdered, and being kidnapped by a psychopathic vampire reduces her to a sobbing wreck. She spends almost every episode crying or contemplating suicide.
  • John Crichton of Farscape. To list all the things the writers put him through would take waaay too long, but the highlights include brutal torture both physical and mental, being controlled by a neural clone and forced to kill the love of his life, being cloned only to have his resurrected lover fall in love with the OTHER John and take off with her, having the other John die and Aeryn (said lover) abandon him, having her come back with his worst enemy, the man responsible for the torture and the neural clone, and being raped. And that's not even touching on all the things he's been forced to do in order to survive all of the above. Really, this trope could be NAMED for John Crichton.
  • ER's Mark Green. Actually happens to many of the characters, but he really stands out.
  • Jack Bauer is a Type E. While he put up with a lot of crap in the first season (including the kidnapping of his wife and daughter, the police chasing him, duplicitous co-workers and obstructive bureaucrats), he arguably triumphed...until the final minutes of the season finale, when he finds his (pregnant, unbeknownst to him) wife tied up and gutshot in the CTU server room. From that point on, 24 becomes "The Tragedy of Jack Bauer" - over the course of the series, most of his friends have died (Season 5 could unofficially be called "Let's Kill Jack Bauer's Support Network"), he's been tortured multiple times, gets little respect from government agencies because he's perceived as a loose cannon and generally has to go on the run at the end of most seasons because of the circumstances leveled on him. At the end of the series, he's almost executed and forced to flee the country, beaten and battered, with his new love interest dead.
  • Arguably Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy, who can fall into categories A, C and E at times. She started off being sexually harassed at work by her peers for being beautiful and minor hazing stuff from other doctors including a rather cruel learning experiment from a doctor she looked up to by giving her a patient she knew was going to die and making her responsible for seeing the patient through the night. Later on in the season Izzie lost the love of her life a heart patient at the hospital. She quit her job and became catatonic for days. She also went through a very realistic process of grief. A few seasons later they gave her cancer, killed off her best friend, fired her from her job, dissolved her marriage and then put her on a bus to never been seen again.
  • Kurt Hummel from Glee comes to mind, even though a few of the things that happen to him is due to his own mistakes.
  • Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison in St. Elsewhere. Let's see. His wife dies, his son gets kidnapped (though later returned), he gets raped while volunteering in a prison infirmary, the rapist breaks out of prison and comes after him, his girlfriend aborts his baby over his objections... when does anything go right for Boomer?


  • The Weird Al song "One of Those Days" describes, y'know, one of those days; where everything that can possibly go wrong does, from getting to work late and getting yelled at by the boss, to getting chased by Russian spies, having a 747 crash through the den window, running out of Cheetos, and finally having the whole world explode for no reason.
  • The Police have two songs about this: "On Any Other Day" is Played for Laughs, and "Synchronicity II" is Played for Drama.
    • Synchronicity II is definitely Played for Laughs. If it was a serious song, there wouldn't be reference to the Loch Ness Monster and Rice Krispies, of all things.
  • The Half Man Half Biscuit song "National Shite Day" may be the apotheosis of this trope. The first line is "Pulling the ice axe from my leg, I staggered on," indicating that before the story has even properly begun, the narrator has managed to get a mountaineering tool lodged in his leg. It gets worse...
  • Happens to 2D in Gorillaz. Ran over by Murdoc, causing his eyeball to fracture and him to become comatose. He's then put in the care of Murdoc, who crashes the car again and fractures 2D's other eyeball as well as waking him up. Since then he's been constantly verbally and physically abused by Murdoc (including brutal beatings and chloroforming, both of which have also been seen during during an iTunes interview), who also had an affair with 2D's girlfriend at the time, and he's gotten addicted to painkillers because of it. Then after the band splits up he's kidnapped by, guess who, Murdoc, who then stops him leaving the island they're on by having a whale guard his room, knowing that 2D is deathly scared of them. Oh, and his his real name is "Stu-Pot". During most of the latest Plastic Beach arc he's ended up as a Type C, curled up in a fetal position in his room and freaking out about the whale just outside.


Tabletop Games

  • Warhammer 40,000 has The God-Emperor of Mankind. Even disregarding the Horus Heresy, in which he got to see his children slaughter each other and come close to undoing everything that he'd ever accomplished, for the past ten thousand years the guy has been stuck on life support watching the universe go further to hell, helpless to do anything but act as a glorified psychic lighthouse against the darkness threatening to extinguish humanity forever.
    • Magnus the Red didn't exactly have it easy either, and was not only essentially forced to participate in aforementioned Heresy because of it, but the very reason he did so - to save his Legion - was make utterly pointless soon afterwards. All Just as Planned for Tzeentch.


  • Miss Saigon: Parents killed in a military attack. Forced to work as a prostitute in order to support herself (this is how she loses her virginity). There's a brief Hope Spot when she meets a nice soldier who falls in love with her and plans to take her back to America with him—only for them to be separated during the Fall of Saigon. She then has to endure pregnancy and childbirth on her own and in hiding from those who might imprison or even kill her for consorting with the enemy. When her cousin finds her and tries to kill her son, she is forced to shoot him to protect the boy and flee to another country to avoid punishment, where she resumes work as a bar girl. Throughout all this, she hopes and prays and believes that her lover will return for her. But when he does, he's married to another woman and doesn't want to take the boy back to America. So she kills herself to force him to do exactly that.

Video Games

  • Setsuko Ohara of Super Robot Wars Z is constantly subjected to this. Amongst things that befell on her includes: Seeing her chief get killed, separated with her only teammate, only for him to come back and shortly after get killed, and then shortly after she herself gets physically and psychologically abused while screaming for help and nobody could save her (implied to be raped), then she sees someone impersonating her dead friend just to spite on her, then the Alternate Universe version of her dead friend and chief were manipulated that she was behind all the mess she and the world having... All done by a single person called Asakim Dowen. Depending on the player's choice, she may raise into the type A, or dwindle into type C where she ends up losing her sense of taste and slowly dying.
  • Solid Snake of the Metal Gear series. Ohhh god. A few of the more memorable events that happen to him—getting PTSD from the get-go; having to bloodily murder his best friend, twice; having to murder Big Boss, his father figure and commanding officer, twice; finding out that Big Boss was his father; having the worst family in the history of ever; and then the ever-increasing spiral of horrible that starts with him suddenly being a sickly old man and gets progressively worse. And that's skimping out all the layers of detail which really add colour to the events of his life. It's dreadful enough that he goes through Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D, depending on how optimistic Kojima was feeling about life at the time (First C, then B, then A, then an attempted D, and then, finally, A again).
    • And Big Boss before him. Betrayed by his mentor; captured and loses an eye during a torture session; forced to kill his not-really-rogue mentor for political reasons; betrayed by his lover EVA; betrayed by the CIA. Forms a powerful conspiracy to ensure this will never happen again, but its members begin to fight among themselves. Leaves the conspiracy in disgust, fully commits to option B and takes up arms against the United States and its true masters: The Patriots that he helped found.
  • Final Fantasy VII: Before the game even starts, Cloud Strife has already: (1) endured a lonely, alienated childhood; (2) Being wrongfully held responsible for putting his childhood crush, the major's daughter in a coma by the major and everyone in the town (3) been told he's not good enough to become a SOLDIER; (4) watched his hero Sephiroth destroy his hometown, kill his mother and nearly murder both his childhood crush Tifa and his good friend Zack; (5) suffered over four years of sadistic experimentation from a Mad Scientist which reduces him to a vegetative Type C; and finally (6) helplessly watched Zack die in a gutwrenching heroic last stand to protect him. After all this, Cloud suffers a very understandable case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia, accompanied by some Types B and E behavior. During the game itself, Cloud ends up being mentally manipulated by the Big Bad Sephiroth into: (1) nearly killing his teammate Aerith not just once, but twice; (2) handing over the Artifact of Doom to Sephiroth (again, twice); and (3) questioning not only his memories but his very identity as a real person. He's also forced to watch Sephiroth murder Aeris while being unable to do anything about it. Cue a second bout of Type C Heroic BSOD. However, after a Journey to the Center of the Mind, Cloud finally ends up a Type A.
    • Advent Children throws him back into C (not vegetative this time, but still giving up) by giving him, and the orphans he was taking care of at the time, a deadly disease, time to think about the promises he'd failed to keep and the lives he failed to save and also giving Sephiroth the time to Troll him through the earlier mentioned deadly disease. He seems to have snapped out of it by the time Dirge of Cerberus roles around though.
  • The tie-in-comic Backstory of Darion Mograine, from World of Warcraft. His brother murders his father, his father gets converted into a Death Knight, Darion tries to save him without knowing what's happened and is too locked up in horror and disbelief to fight effectively while everyone that came with him is killed by the Four Horsemen. After a moment of Type C, the spirit of his father guides him out of there... to the other son, for revenge, but not before the brother tries to beat Darion to death. Eventually, Darion manages to do A, B, and D all at the same time. Those who paid attention to his dialogue in the Death Knight starting chain know what I mean...
  • Archer from Fate/stay night. Having once been an idealistic crusader with a credo to save everyone, Archer lost everything in the process of trying to save the people around him, while gaining nothing but scorn from his fellow humans and losing his friends, his lover and everything. In the end, after having sold his existence to Earth for a miracle that would save a few dozen people, he lost his life by being betrayed by someone he saved and ended up a Counter Guardian—one of Earth's "garbagemen", used to ruthlessly exterminate anyone who would threaten the safety of mankind by whatever means possible and no matter the collateral damage. By the time the game rolls around, Archer has become a broken, bitter person, consigned to his fate as one who saves people only at the cost of killing others.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • Xion in Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2. Apparently a Mary-Sue type character, it turns out Xion is an artificial clone of Sora made to eventually kill Roxas and absorb his power, and if she's not up to the task then the Organization plans for Roxas to kill and absorb her instead. Furthermore, because she's a clone constructed out of stray fragments of Sora's memory, her existence is even more tenuous than that of a normal Nobody. As a result, when she dies everyone she ever knew forgets she ever existed. There's also the problem you go into the game knowing she's Doomed by Canon. Certainly the pinnacle of this comes at the end of the game where she battles Roxas, the guy she's heavily implied to be in love with by this point, and dies in his arms while he's struggling to remember her name, his memories of her fading already.
    • Roxas too, for a lot of the same reasons as above actually, and more. The poor guy has no memories, all he knows is that he can use a Keyblade and it's important he kill Heartless. When he asks questions of his allies to try and figure out the things he ought to know but doesn't, they treat him like an idiot for that reason. At least Xion eventually figured out that the Organization was using both of them, Roxas doesn't clue in until practically the end of the game and thus spends most of his single year of life working for people who exploit his abilities and plan to kill him once they're done with him. The only really happy time in his life is the last week, when he's implanted with fake memories and is imprisoned in a virtual reality simulation - and once that week is up, he merges back with Sora.
    • But first the poor kid had to find out it was all a big lie in the worst way possible. I say again, poor kid.
    • The protagonists of Birth By Sleep don't fare much better. Special mention goes to Terra, who is tricked by villains (going so far as being possessed and stealing somebody's heart in his very first world) and the game's big bad at every turn, manipulated into believing his friends have left him, manipulated into letting the darkness in, tricked by the villains some more, has a nice brief stop-off at Destiny Islands with a nice little Heartwarming Moment, then inadvertently causes the death of someone he loves, is smacked around a lot in the first part of the final battle and finally has his body stolen by the big bad at the end of the game, with it being implied he's been fighting for control since the end of Birth by Sleep. Ventus doesn't fare much better, having his Heart ripped in two to create Vanitas before the game even begins and ends the game with his heart being separated from his body after a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the in-story Infinity+1 Sword, and would have died if not for Sora's intervention, his body little more than an empty shell. Aqua fares a bit better than the other two, but is still forced to fight both of her friends when they're possessed by the game's two villains and eventually falls into the Realm of Darkness after sacrificing herself to save Terra. One thing is certain about Kingdom Hearts 3: Sora has a lot of work to do.
    • Add to the two above that Roxas is pretty heavily implied by Word of God to be kind of an incarnation of Ventus and you get the most screwed up existence in the history of existences. Jesus, Nomura, give the poor kid a break!
  • Aribeth gets this thrown at her in Neverwinter Nights and the expansions, leading to a Heel Face Revolving Door and at various points reactions according to Types A, B, and D.
  • A small part of the plot of Xenogears goes something like this: Several hundred years ago a very honorable man is scarred by tragedy and becomes result (B). Another man scarred by the same event becomes result (D). In the present tense the protagonist is secretly some sort of Jungian catatonic ball with two personalities, one of whom tries to live out his life in peace (C) and the other who decides to wreak havoc (D again). However, the protagonist eventually overcomes his split personalities, becoming result (A). Pretty much every hero or villain in this game is a crowning example of this trope.
    • Special mention to Billy Lee Black who, in addition to his already tragic backstory, goes through an unbelievable amount of crap in less than 24 in-game hours as summarized here.
  • Rondo of Swords has a type E in one of the playthroughs. After all Serdic goes through he finally breaks after a Friend Or Idol decision that ends up in favor of the idol. Now while Serdic does lose a lot of his of warmth and idealism, his ethics and morals don't really change. At the end of the game he does rediscover love again and has a peaceful, prosperous reign as king.
  • After half a game of staying cheerful and upbeat desipte the numerous atrocities he witnesses, main character Jude of Wild ARMs 4 gets hit with this HARD. First, a traveller he made friends with turns out to be the strongest member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. Then, almost immediatly after finally finding his captured mother, she dies a horrible death right in front of him. Then Kresnik, a reformed member of the quirky member squad, falls to his death (or does he?). And THEN, he's forced to kill his long lost father after he snaps and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac. Whew...
    • Hell, him becoming a forest ranger in the Epilogue was probably his way of getting away from it all.
  • In Silent Hill, the Trauma Train has pulled out of the station well before any of the player characters got there, so when it steamrolls through everybody it touches (including the bad guys!) gets affected to varying degrees, and how well the protagonists fare from the Conga Line depends on which of the Multiple Endings you get. (Here's a hint: save from the wacky, out of left field joke endings, the best Silent Hill has to offer are Bittersweet Endings.)
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle during Part Two. She finds out, the hard way, that her healing artes causes Entelexia to go insane, then later learns that using her powers could to destroy the world. Then she gets kidnapped by Schwann/Raven and tortured into doing the bidding of Alexei, and sent over the edge by his hand that she begs Yuri to kill her. (Fortunately, he hauls her back). And after all that, She somehow manages to come out Result A! That girl deserves to be a saint!
  • God of War has Kratos. Very much a Type D.
  • Phoenix is a type F in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney. After being tricked into using fake evidence and framed for it, thus losing his badge and his reputation, also getting his disappeared client's little girl dumped in his arms but having no idea how to take care of her and not having a source of income anymore, plus, of course, all the stuff that happened in the previous games, like losing his mentor... he just Took a Level in Badass and became a bit bitter and cynical, but he never seems to have broken down at all.
  • Fou-lu in Breath of Fire IV is marched down a Type B/Type D Trauma Conga Line by the very empire he was the King in the Mountain for; the increasingly extreme efforts The Empire takes in killing what is their literal founding God-Emperor eventually go to the point of the use of a Fantastic Nuke powered by Fou-lu's GIRLFRIEND (said Fantastic Nuke explicitly works on the principle of Love Hurts, the closer the bond, the higher the mega-tonnage), and—when THAT didn't work—having The Emperor run Fou-lu through with a soul-eating sword made from the botched summon of another god (which only resulted in Emperor Soniel literally losing his head). This Trauma Conga Line eventually results in Fou-lu deciding that Humans Are the Real Monsters and the use of Mami as a tactical thermonuclear Country Mouse is arguably the event (in the MIDDLE of the Trauma Conga Line, no less!) that causes him to become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
    • Oh, and the Vestigial Empire that summoned Fou-lu in the first place buggered up the summoning, resulting in the god being split in twain and each half of the Literal Split Personality ending up on opposite sides of the world and temporally displaced 600 years. It's also outright stated that the Fou Empire and its Vestigial Empire predecessor the Muuru Empire still have not managed how to learn to summon a god in one piece and are involuntarily yanking the entities the world knows as "gods" from their own lives. (Yes, Fou-lu's Trauma Conga Line veritably began from the moment of his existence on that world.)
  • Mario Kart Wii adds a lot of fairly powerful powerups to the game. Given the random awarding of items, first place is often one of the most dangerous positions in the game. Especially if several guys behind you get ahold of the global effect items all at once, and proceed to use them. Characters can get shrunk, blinded, then spun in succession, and that's not counting getting shelled in the process.
    • Add the cheating AI into the mix and watch anyone who suffers all the above plus the AI crumble into a Type C.
  • In Mass Effect, depending on how s/he's played Shepard will have gone through this starting years before the games even take place, and that's only the backstory. In-game s/he suffers a continuous Conga Line from all sides, and it's particularly amazing that Shepard getting killed in the second game is not his/her lowest point. Then Mass Effect 3 puts Shepard through the wringer, forced to flee Earth as it gets annihilated by the Reapers, suffers from extreme Survivor Guilt for those who have died in the series thus far aided by nightmares of a little boy s/he failed to save on Earth, and that's the most positive point in the game for him/her.
    • Tali has this happen in full force during her loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. After all that happens, it's a wonder that Tali is even still functioning, much less sane.
  • Faize Sheifa Beleth from Star Ocean: The Last Hope ends up a Type B after the ruthless destruction of his planet and the annihilation of his people (the latter which happens right in front of his eyes) cause him to snap and attempt to destroy the universe so that no one has to feel pain any longer. In his defense, he was being controlled at least somewhat by the Grigori. Though, it's never revealed just how much his actions then stem from it, and he showed plenty of signs of instability beforehand...
  • The Bad Boys Love route of Hatoful Boyfriend is one giant Trauma Conga Line for all characters in general, but its main victim is Ryouta. Ryouta, the sweet and adorable childhood friend of the female protagonist, who finds her severed head in a box, is constantly harrassed by a terrifying scarecrow mecha as he tries to find out who killed her, only to learn that he is the one who unintentionally killed her after being infected with a human-killing virus by the resident evil doctor who plans to use him as a weapon to exterminate the entire human race, all due to a well-intentioned wish that Ryouta made when he was a fledgling that the doctor proceeded to twist and warp beyond recognition. Oh, and that scarecrow mecha that Ryouta managed to kill with a stungun? Its head contained the brain of his supposedly dead childhood friend, which is now effectively damaged beyond medical repair thanks to being fried with Ryouta's stungun. Is it any wonder why he comes this close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon after all of this?


  • Homestuck: Poor, poor Tavros.
    • It seems every almost every update from 1/24/11 onward is dedicated to crushing Karkat.
    • Let's just say everyone who isn't a permanant resident of the dreambubbles, Jack Noir, or LORD ENGLISH is having one really bad day/week/million-billion years.
    • That's not to mention WV. He gets his innocent farm burned down dozens of times, begins a rebellion and watches helplessly as Jack Noir slaughters every single one of his soldiers. Then, after he parts ways with John, Jack blows up a ship he happens to be riding in, sending him to a post-apocalyptic Earth, that's merely a gigantic desolate desert. He's not done yet. As things FINALLY begin to look up for him when he meets the other exiles, he watches at John gets killed in front of his eyes, gets trapped in a capsule, dreams that he's become Noir - his worst nightmare - only to wake up and realize the embodiment is in front of him. Jack then proceeds to rip a chunk of uranium out of his stomach, nearly killing him. It's yet to be seen whether the conga line will continue.
  • Great: "Lousy" doesn't even begin to describe the main character's introduction. It appears that he gets better.
  • Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick since the end of the Azure City arc. First, he/she[2] feels guilty that the battle is lost and the party is split, trying desperately to contact them, failing every time. He is haunted by bad dreams because of his failure to save Azure City. Then he gets his family threatened, which results in a Deal with the Devil, and him going over the top when saving them, casting Familicide on the dragon, which again results in his mate filing a divorce. Type A, so far. But when he sees the result of the Familicide he had cast earlier, it turns into a Type C (spoiler warning!). And let's not forget that as a result of the Deal with the Devil, the fiends will take over his soul for a time.

Web Original

  • Shandala of Broken Saints fame, whose biography reads like something off of the It Got Worse page. Washed ashore on a Fijian island and adopted by the tribe, her childhood was peaceful and idyllic until her adoptive mother was viciously murdered and mutilated by white strangers under the command of (and possibly personally led by) the Big Bad. Then, as an adult, she reluctantly leaves her home and family and all that she loves to find the truth about her biological parents. Then, her adoptive brother Tui is accidentally killed due to an big scary empathic rage thing on her part. Then, she is washed off the ship in a giant storm and found and brought to the lair of the Shadow Men to be tortured and sealed away in the back of a sleazy strip club. Then, after being rescued, she ends up falling back to her Super-Powered Evil Side briefly, deciding to go back home, and ends up confronted by The Dragon, who murders and mutilates her Empathy Pet Bula the same way her adoptive mother was, and then kidnaps her. Then, in the Grand Finale, she is turned into an instrument of mass suffering via her empathic powers by her Big Bad father, only saved by her friends in time for her to commit a Heroic Sacrifice and save the world. And yet throughout it all, she retains her purity of heart.
  • Ayla Goodkind (Phase) of the Whateley Universe. In a massive Break the Haughty event, Phase goes from an incredibly wealthy heir to the biggest fortune on the planet to a despised mutant intersexed freak who is turned over to a Mad Scientist by his own parents and on getting out ends up living in a basement. On going to Whateley Academy he is hated for being from the best-known mutant-hating family around. those don't even touch on highlights like getting trapped in a sewer and attacked by zombies. Or nearly being eaten by an unkillable demon. Or...
  • Part of what makes The Nostalgia Critic so fun to watch is this mixed in with Misery Builds Character. The guy's life is shit, and it's sadistic fun to see how he'll react to the next horrible thing happening to him.

Western Animation

  • Frank Grimes from The Simpsons.
  • Butters Stotch from South Park seems to be perpetually going through one.
  • Robot Chicken: The Worst Halloween
  • Peanuts: Depending on the episode, Charlie-you-poor-sucker-Brown.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko and how! First his mother leaves (to save him no less), then he gets challenged to an Agni Kai by his own father who burns and disowns owns him, then he gets sent on a Snipe Hunt after the Avatar. During said quest how much happens to our poor banished prince? And then when he finally gives up that quest he has to take a lightning bolt in the chest to save one of his friend's life. He lives through it barely.
    • He was even destined to take on all that trauma from birth, being a direct bloodline to both the fire lord who started the war and the Avatar who opposed him. His destiny was basically to take on all the horrible influences from his father and co. and all the positive influences from his uncle and the avatar, and come out of it with the understanding necessary to make the right decisions and have the right credentials to be the fire lord the world needed to rule the fire nation in the wake of the Avatars defeat of Ozai. In a way all this trauma molds him into a much more complex character than the Avatar and allows him to fill a role that the Aang could not, which ends up being almost as important or maybe even as important as Aangs own role in the story.
  • Beast Wars: Poor Waspinator! Almost every episode, he is blown to parts, killed, or badly injured, just to come back the next one.

Real Life

  • The surviving crew of the USS Indanapolis (CA-35). You'd think things would be bad enough, with only 317 of the ship's nearly 1,200 crew surviving getting sunk by a Japanese submarine, then spending four days in shark-infested seas. Things got worse for the survivors when they found out that, at the very least, most of those who made it off the ship alive could've been saved. First, they were sent out of Guam without destroyer escort (which was standard procedure for the area). Then the ship's officers weren't informed that there were Japanese subs in the area (which had already claimed at least one Allied ship). Then when the ship sank, its distress call was dismissed by Allied command as a Japanese trap. Then when the Indianapolis failed to join the rest of the fleet in the Philippines, the ship was marked as "late" instead of "missing", so no search party was sent out. The survivors were found by a scout plane that happened to spot the oil slick from the Indianapolis' wreckage.

And just to polish things off, when people started demanding to know why the ship went missing for so long without being looked for, the Navy made a scapegoat of the ship's C.O., Capt. Charles McVay; court-martialing and convicting him of putting his ship "in harm's way" via his failure to maintain a "zig-zag" sail pattern. They even went so far as to call the Japanese sub commander that sank him as a witness (Who pretty much called the "zig-zag" pattern useless). McVay was the only ship's captain in the U.S. Fleet to lose a ship and be court-martialed for it. (He committed suicide in 1968).

  • Jackson C. Frank's story. A major Tear Jerker indeed.
  • Haiti before and after the earthquake. Major tearjerker for those who don't know this already.
  • Speaking of natural disasters, New Orleans. First the levees break during Hurricane Katrina killing over a thousand people and leaving countless others homeless and suffering from physical and mental ailments, then the government's response is worse than that of the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Haiti earthquake, then speculators use the destruction to get rid of homes and schools for the displaced poor black community, then they win the Super Bowl, and then the BP oil disaster kills 11 people and craters the fishing industry.

Various survivors: We're just a rich Haiti. Who did we kill 300 years ago to deserve this? We sold our souls for the Super Bowl!!

  • One of the survivors of the Deepwater Horizon oil drill disaster made an escape that sounds almost fictional: The initial explosion sent a three-inch thick metal fire door slamming into him, and as soon as he was able to free himself another explosion sent another door straight into him, pinning him to the wall again. By that point he was starting to get angry. After watching all their fire drills go to waste by everyone panicking, he plunged two or three stories into the ocean which allowed him time to think about the fact that he had jumped from a place that wasn't on fire into the ocean, which was. When he got over being stunned by hitting the water, hard, he realized he wasn't dead because he felt a burning sensation all over his body; fortunately he wasn't on fire.
  • Wilmer McLean was the owner of the farm that the Civil War battle know as The First Battle of Bull Run took place on. After the Confederates commandeered his house for a headquarters his kitchen was destroyed by a Union cannon ball. After the battle Wilmer decided to move to protect his family and because the proximity of the Union Army was making business difficult for him. He moved near the Appatomattox court house. Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to union general Ulysses S. Grant in Wilmer's parlor. After the signing of the surrender members of the Army looted all his furniture for souvenirs.
  • On August 6th, 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was staying in Hiroshima for a business trip. The first bomb fell no more than 3 km away from where he stood, but the next day he returned to his home in Nagasaki for medical treatment. According to his account, he was describing the devastation at Hiroshima to a disbelieving doctor...and then the second bomb fell and destroyed Nagasaki. He lived until 2010 at age 93.
  • In 2008, a sixteen-year-old cheerleader from Silsbee High in Texas was sexually assaulted by a football star at the school. While the attacker was initially charged, he admitted to misdemeanor assault and served no jail time, instead ending up with a fine, community service and mandatory anger management classes. Silsbee did not suspend or expel him, even continued to allow him to play on the team, whilst telling the girl that she should keep a low profile and avoid attending school-related social events. After being advised by her counselors not to give up on activities she loved, she continued to cheer. At a game in 2009, she remained silent during his free throw, understandably refusing to gleefully chant "put it in!" at her attacker...which got her kicked off the squad. She and her family sued the school for violating her free speech rights, a case which was denied earlier this year on the grounds of being a frivolous lawsuit. Her family is now being ordered to pay $45,000 in legal fees.
  • You live in San Bernardino during the late '80s. A runaway train crashes into your neighbourhood at 100 mph and ravages every home except yours, killing several people. The rubble is cleaned up and life goes on. Two weeks later you get blown up by a fuel line that was damaged during the cleanup.
  1. (running Stark Industries, churning out new inventions to keep it running, managing the Avengers' legal and financial problems, being constantly on-call to consult other superheroes on technology-related crises, being a founding Avenger and occasionally the group's leader, being a superhero on his own time, and dealing with enemies who want to kill him on both superhero and business fronts)
  2. for convinience, I use 'he' from now on