[[quoteright:350:[[ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Builds_Character2_3273.png]]]]

->''"Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope."''
-->-- '''The Apostle Paul in Romans 5:3-4 of Literature/TheBible, New International Version'''

Misery Builds Character is a StockAesop and StockPhrase that unpleasant, distasteful activities and events are ''good'', because the suffering that the subject goes through [[CharacterDevelopment will help his personal and spiritual development in some vague, unspecified manner]]. Sometimes quoted as "A little suffering is good for the soul," or as FriedrichNietzsche puts it, "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger". When done right, the trope can show that someone can grow and mature once they had their share of humble pie or have suffered enough to build themselves up and get past their suffering. If done wrong, the trope can imply that you can only become a better person by suffering rather than building character on good deeds.

This message is often delivered by a parent (or ParentalSubstitute) to a BrattyHalfPint as part of a set of instructions or admonitions. If the addressee is a MouthyKid or LittleMissSnarker, a sarcastic rejoiner is all but inevitable.

Of course, this trope is not ''limited'' to children, and the phrase can be used between adults as well.

A form of NecessaryFail. Also see IfItTastesBadItMustBeGoodForYou, TeachHimAnger, and WhenIWasYourAge. Please, do not mistake for Creator/StephenKing's [[{{Misery}} book]], that...goes a little too far from this. Related to TrainingFromHell, TheSpartanWay, BecauseYouCanCope and HadToBeSharp. Invoked by DrillSergeantNasty. See also EnemiesEqualsGreatness if having enemies or detractors makes a character strong.

----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''{{Berserk}}'':
** Though it isn't explicitly stated, a large portion of the backstory goes into showing why Guts is such a hardened (and therefore exceptional) warrior. Most of his life has been misery heaped on tragedy, forging him into an inhumanly durable person.
** On the other hand [[spoiler:Casca most definitely did [[BreakTheCutie NOT]] become stronger from her misery.]] After all, this trope only works when applied moderately, not in [[TraumaCongaLine excessive doses.]] It says a lot about the [[DarkFantasy series]] and the [[CrapsackWorld setting]] that Guts' misery can be considered 'moderate'.
* DarkMagicalGirl Fate Testarossa became the kindest and easily the [[TheCape most heroic]] character of ''LyricalNanoha'' series because she was abused and abandoned as a child, resolving to let no more children share her fate on her watch. On the other hand, in the Battle of Aces, Arf suggests that Fate could have gone down a darker path like her EvilCounterpart Material L did if not for meeting Nanoha and the others.
* Kujira Kurokami from ''MedakaBox'' based her life on the saying, "Something amazing can only be made after seeing hell," believing that any happiness would keep her from creating her best work. Thus, she forced this trope on herself, even going so far as to run away from her well-off family, change her name, hide her face, and erase her memory.
* Monkey D. Garp in ''OnePiece'' seems to subscribe to this theory, as he subjected Luffy as a child to many horrible trials, such as being tied to balloons and let fly away, or being left in the jungle at night with all the animals. It did seem to succeed in helping forge Luffy as something more than normal...
* ''Manga/YuGiOh'': Gozaburo Kaiba, adoptive parent to Seto, was abusive to him on a daily basis in order to prepare him to be ruthless in the business world. Needless to say, [[GoneHorriblyRight he succeeded]].
* Played straight ''and'' [[{{SubvertedTrope}} subverted]] in ''{{Naruto}}''. Several people, the main character included, ''are'' better people specificially because they can empathize with the pain others are feeling. However, the main character makes it very clear that endless suffering is like drowning, and you can only last so long without someone pulling you up for air. [[spoiler: The jinchuuriki who have someone supporting them turn out well, like Bee and Naruto, but the ones like Gaara who have nobody....don't turn out well.]] And there are cases like Haku and several members of the Sound, who suffered so much that a single act of kindness or even ''neutrality'' made them devote themselves to people ''just to feel needed,'' even when they knew they were just being used as tools.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* Cited by [[GuardiansOfTheGalaxy Star-Lord]].
-->''"You live a life like mine, you end up with a pocketful of regrets. A good regret gives a man character, if you ask me. I didn't get to be this handsome and laconic through clean living."''
* ''The Intimates'':
** Punchy stops Dead Kid Fred from committing suicide. Later, it's revealed that he wished he hadn't gotten to him in time, because having a death on his conscience like that would've made people take him more seriously as a hero - would have made him a ''better'' hero. This may have something to do with the fact that the murder of his sister sparked his career as a superhero to begin with.
** Duke more or less exhibits the trend, as well, being probably the nicest of the main characters while having probably the worst home life.
* This was the rationale of TheFlash villain Zoom, who attempted to murder Wally West's wife, believing that West needed to suffer personal tragedy in order to become a better hero.
* Over the course of Creator/ArtSpiegelman's ''ComicBook/{{Maus}}'', Spiegelman's father Vladek states several times that, although his time in the concentration camps was horrific beyond measure, he learned several skills that would serve him well later in his life.
** The book subjects this trope to severe {{Deconstruction}} in that surviving severe oppression does not necessarily make a person better or worse and Vladek after the war becomes a thrift, miserly parent to his young son who he can't relate to in the end. He's also unable to shake the prejudices even being something of a racist himself to African-Americans, and overall his experience has made him a super paranoid hypochondriac miser who's very needy and passive agressive. Likewise, his wife couldn't get over it herself and several years after the war, she committed suicide.
* {{Invoked|Trope}} by the often WrongGenreSavvy Cockroach in ''ComicBook/CerebusTheAardvark'':
-->'''Roach''': And we ''ALL'' know the ''only'' way to create ''character''... ''don't'' we?\\
'''Fleagle''': Conflict?\\
'''Roach''': Bingo. (punches him)
* ''Comicbook/{{Daredevil}}'': In a crossover with ThePunisher, Matt ends up on a team with Frank's new sidekick, Rachel, who comes from a similar history of loss. Bonding over how they've lost loved ones, Rachel says that no one else knows such drive without tragedy. Daredevil... [[http://scans-daily.dreamwidth.org/3742685.html#cutid1 let's just say he roundly rejects that line of thinking.]]
* Used ''very'' darkly in ''ComicBook/VforVendetta'', in which one of V's biggest WhatTheHellHero moments comes from his ColdBloodedTorture of his protege Evey so that she can undergo the same spiritual transformation he did. It works, but not before she nearly loses her mind.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Fic]]
* Taken UpToEleven with Calvin's father in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'': He thinks that ''hanging on a cliff on the edge of the Grand Canyon'' builds character.
* In the Anime/GirlsUndPanzer fanfic, [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/9117847/6/Off-The-Path Off The Path]], Shiho discusses this trope in her POV chapter, titled "Sacrifice", defending her approach to teaching tankery and raising Miho.
-->''It may be overly simplistic to say something like "misery builds character," but the decisions most necessary for success- in goals you choose yourself, as well as those chosen for you- are seldom the easiest or the most pleasant. It often takes an adult to realize this, and the related idea that there are things greater than your own desires and feelings, when a child cannot.''
* Played with in ''FanFic/TheBoyWhoDiedALot'', Snape's constant misery in having to prevent Harry's death and later heartbreak slowly has him develop of a sense of empathy and sympathy for others. Subverted with Harry, as the TraumaCongaLine in Cedric's death, his alienation and Umbridge's torture drive him to successfully commit suicide.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film]]
* Invoked by Penny's mom in ''{{Hairspray}}'':
-->'''Penny''': Without that show I have nothing!\\
'''Prudy''': Having nothing builds character!
* ''Motorama'': A boy with an injured eye will lose his sight if it isn't operated on.
-->'''Darrell''': I guess he'll have to lose his sight. [snip] You see, loss builds character.
* ''Sylvia'':
-->'''Professor Thomas''': The government cut the electricity.\\
'''Sylvia''': Why?\\
'''Professor Thomas''': To build national character!
* ''A Gentle Art'':
-->'''Lance''': Pain, they say, builds character... and you, my dear, are about to have more character than you know what to do with.
* MajorPayne did this deliberately to mold his students into a cohesive unit. The Guidance Councilor thinks this was an incredibly cynical plan. But by God, it ''worked!'' This became less "making them suffer to be better," which he himself went through, but "making them suffer together equally, and have a shared target of ire," a very common tactic among Drill Instructors, Sports coaches, etc. And yes, it is damned effective if done right.
* ''Film/TheMatrix'': Agent Smith believes this to be humanity's [[PlanetOfHats hat]], citing humanity's refusal to accept the first utopic Matrix as real:
-->"Some believed that we lacked the programming language to design your 'perfect world,' but I believe that human beings as a species define their existence through ''misery and suffering.''"
* Invoked by Evilene in ''TheWiz'':
-->''"Suffering is food for the soul. NOW SUFFER!"''
* Part of V's reasoning in ''Film/VForVendetta'' behind [[spoiler:[[WhatTheHellHero kidnapping Evie, locking her in a fake government prison, and torturing her in the ways he was subjected to]] - he was grooming her to take over for him after he was gone.]]
* A central theme throughout ''Film/TheDarkKnightSaga'' is Bruce overcoming increasing adversity and hardship to become stronger. Interestingly it also shows a darker side to this trope in that many of the ''villains'' he faces have also been forged by past tragedy and suffering.
* ''Film/BatmanBegins'' has Bruce endure the TrainingFromHell in order to become Batman. All fueled by the death of his parents and personal vengeance denied to him. His mentor Ducard was similarly motivated by the loss of the woman he loved [[spoiler:though he chose a more [[WellIntentionedExtremist extreme path]]]].
* In ''Film/TheDarkKnightRises'', [[spoiler:Bruce becomes stronger from being forced to watch Gotham as descends into anarchy, while he's trapped in a Moroccan prison half a world away, unable to do anything about it.]] [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] when Miranda Tate says this, nearly verbatim, to Bruce Wayne. [[spoiler:Despite the baddies' familiarity with this trope, Bane in particular is utterly shocked when Wayne crawls out of the hole, and manages to destroy them both. It's also - possibly - why Wayne has recovered enough from his childhood trauma to finally quit angsting and enjoy life in the end.]]
* In the movie version of Literature/{{Holes}}, the staff at Camp Green Lake claim the juvenile delinquents are forced to dig holes because it builds character. The real reason is [[spoiler:there's a fortune buried somewhere in the dried up lake bed and camp was created to try to find it.]]
* A couple of deleted scenes in ''BruceAlmighty'' ended up expanding on the consequences of Bruce granting the wishes of every person who prays to him, with God showing Bruce a couple of the people who's prayers he answered and how, though he's made them happy now, they'll actually be worse off in the long run.
-->'''God''': Triumph is born out of struggle, faith is the alchemist. If you want pictures like these, you'll need to use some dark colors.
* A deleted scene in ''Film/RockyBalboa'' has Rocky talking about how as a kid he would stare into streetlights without blinking and squeeze a ball in his hand until it was unbearably painful. He did this to make himself used to being uncomfortable and tolerate pain better. It paid off ''big time''.
* Frank in ''Film/LittleMissSunshine'' tries to teach this to Dwayne, relating the story of Marcel Proust's coming of age and realizing that his difficult and painful teenage years "were the best years of his life, because they made him who he was."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/TheBible'': The Apostle Paul discusses this in [[Literature/BookOfRomans Romans]] [[http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%205:3-5&version=ESV5: 3-5]], where he notes that suffering builds endurance, endurance builds character, and character builds hope. Considering the time period, he and many of the other Christians that were physically tortured and martyred for their faith knew what they were talking about from many experiences they could count by the lashes on their backs.
* Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series:
** White Tower initiates suffer this trope. They must do all their chores by hand, without using their mystical powers, and are given extra chores that could be more efficiently done by the Tower's many paid servants, because menial labor is misery that builds character.
** Black Tower trainees invert both the trope and the above example. They ''must'' use their mystic powers for everything, including lighting lamps and cooking dinner-- so when they first start their lessons, they find themselves eating raw food in the dark. This is misery too, but the instructors couldn't care less about "character." They're just motivating the students to practice.
* This is implied in ''Literature/HarryPotter''; growing up with his abusive Aunt and Uncle gave him a lot more humility than his father had at the same age (although his father grew out his JerkJock phase eventually). However, within the books, the reason Harry is a HumbleHero is because the love and sacrifice of his GoodParents never left him, even when he was raised by the Dursleys as Dumbledore repeatedly clarifies. Dumbledore even notes that Harry is exceptional for being so kind and caring despite growing up the way he did.
** In the books, there are several instances where misery does not build character, the young Tom Riddle had a bad childhood, growing up without parents but he didn't become a HeartwarmingOrphan, he came TheSociopath. Severus Snape barely managed to escape this but even then he became a Dark wizard who struck out at the one person who was very nice to him and even after his HeelFaceTurn, remains a difficult, unpleasant, person haunted by his past. The theme of the books is choice and even in exceptionally difficult situations people have to make a choice to determine their character.
* Appears frequently in stories about British childhoods (especially holidays before mass air travel), such as Emma Kennedy's ''The Tent, the Bucket and Me'' about her family's disastrous camping holidays in the '70s.
* A recurring theme in ''Literature/TallTaleAmerica'' is that people can only get to be heroes if they've got plenty of "rock-ribbed harships" to overcome. Heck, PecosBill intentionally makes the cowboy business extraordinarily difficult, just so the cowboys who manage to survive it will be the best there ever was.
* Various StrawmanPolitical characters in ''Literature/AtlasShrugged'' say that suffering is necessary for building character. The WriterOnBoard doesn't think kindly of this notion.
* In the ''Literature/QuantumGravity'' series, devils plant themselves on a victim and whisper these kind of thoughts, keeping the victim in {{Hell}}[[note]]read as "separation from God"[[/note]]. Demons get...touchy if you confuse demons and devils, as demons believe the exact opposite. Have fun at everything you do, be it painting, singing, fighting, killing, decorating, what have you. A demon with a devil on it isn't even considered a demon anymore, it's a[[spoiler:n imp.]]
* In the first of the ''Literature/DoctorWhoNewAdventures'', the Doctor uses this as an excuse for abandoning [[ActionGirl Ace]] in the company of an increasingly [[BoisterousBruiser drunk and horny]] [[Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh Gilgamesh]]. Luckily, Enkidu is present in the role of the OnlySaneMan. In the whole of Mesopotamia.
* Crabbit in the MagicKingdomOfLandover series appears to espouse this view. And judging by Mistaya's Character Development while at Libiris, he may be right.
* Vergere does this to Jacen BIG time in ''Literature/NewJediOrder'''s ''Traitor''. This is a fundamental part of [[ScaryDogmaticAliens Yuuzhan Vong]] philosophy- the Vong believe that anything worth having or any lesson worth learning can ''only'' be purcashed through pain (stemming from their belief that the Creator made the universe by ritually sacrificing his own body). Vergere pciked this up from the Vong, though her definition of "character" turns out to differ rather substantially from theirs.
* In Bryan Miranda's ''Literature/TheJourneyToAtlantis'', all of the main characters jointly survive a shipwreck, only to be stranded on a deserted island and have to survive through various other hardships while on said island, forcing them to adapt and grow.
* In one of the sequels to ''TheHatchet'', Brian clarifies that he did ''not'' beat Nature - Nature beat and kicked the stupid out of him until he learned his place in the forest.
* In ''Literature/{{Pact}}'', Blake Thorburn plays with this trope. While he occasionally cites his DarkAndTroubledPast of time spent on the streets, which he claims have given him keen instincts, he also mentions that he loathes the saying "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." While his instincts may be keener, they're counterbalanced by his severe PTSD, and he himself feels that he's been made weaker, often referring to himself as "not much of a man."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* The series finale of ''Series/MalcolmInTheMiddle'' has Lois sabotage Malcolm's chance at a high paying job because she believes he needs at least a decade more of suffering before he's ready to pursue what (she believes) is his destiny: to become the best President of the United States ever. However, she does have a point under the insanity: Malcolm is a genius and had been accepted to Harvard, where he could learn and excel at anything he set his mind to (which given his IQ and resourcefulness, could be world-changing) if he worked his ass off for it and learned to value hard work and opportunity, rather than waste his potential on working for a pointless corporation that dropped a job in his lap and wanted nothing more from him than what he was capable of in his senior year of high school.
* [[TheAce Ace Rimmer]] from ''Series/RedDwarf'' is this all over. He is different to normal Rimmer because their shared timeline split off when they were children. One of them got [[HeldBackInSchool held back a year in school]], the other didn't. It turns out it's actually Ace that was held back a year, and so he suffered for it (ie by being bullied and suffering the humiliation of it all), and decided to fight back, and continued to fight back ever since, building his character and becoming awesome. Normal Rimmer, on the over hand, was never held back a year, and therefore spent the rest of his life making excuses for himself.
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Seinfeld}}'', Jerry claims that the ability to [[PottyEmergency refrain from urinating]] builds character.
* Subverted in the ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' episode "New Ground," when Worf tells his son Alexander that the rigors of Klingon schools are meant to build character -- but that their staying together will be an even greater challenge.
* A more tragic version in ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'''s "Real Life". The Doctor has created a hologram family to experience a new aspect of humanity. During the course of the episode his daughter suffers a mortal wound in an accident and is dying, so the Doctor suspends the program. Paris points out to him that normal humans don't get to evade the negative aspects of life and persuades the Doctor to see the program to completion and say goodbye to his daughter.
* According to Red on ''That70sShow'', "In order for [my son] to be a responsible adult, he ''has'' to be miserable now!"
* In ''Series/DowntonAbbey'', Cora tries to use this approach to comfort Edith after [[spoiler:she's jilted at the altar by Sir Anthony.]]
* ''Series/DocMartin'': Martin was brought up by emotionally distant and borderline [[AbusiveParents abusive]] parents who resented having a child at all.
--> '''Martin:''' I was locked in the cupboard under the stairs as a child, and it never did me any harm.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Newspaper Comics]]
* As the trope image shows, in ''ComicStrip/CalvinAndHobbes'', Calvin's dad would often invoke this phrase whenever Calvin (or his mom) complained about their current activity. Bill Watterson stated in the tenth-anniversary book that he took this trait directly from his own father.
** The actual TropeNamer phrase came from somewhat of a parody of this - Calvin finds his father's glasses, and uses the phrase in an impression of his father funny enough that his mom was falling out of her chair with laughter.
-->'''Calvin's Dad''': [[ActuallyPrettyFunny OK, the voice was a little funny]], but that's still one darn sarcastic kid we're raising.
* In ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'':
** Charlie Brown declares that he already has enough character, thank you very much.
** In another Lucy assures him, "We ''learn'' from our mistakes," and he bellows plaintively, "THAT MAKES ME THE SMARTEST PERSON IN THE WORLD!"
** At one point, after Snoopy's doghouse burned down rather tragically, Charlie Brown went to Lucy's booth for some counseling on why these tragedies occurred, to which she gave the rather philosophically pat answer that adversity helps prepare us for what lies ahead in life. For what are we being prepared, then? "More adversity. Five cents, please."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Radio]]
* In ''Radio/TheElysiumProject'', Benjamin Cane, GuardianEntity of the protagonist Emma Grayson, more or less uses this as his reasoning for why he [[spoiler:framed her for selling out her friends and getting them all captured by the villains]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''{{Champions}}'' adventure ''Deathstroke''. The title villain group decided to make their agents monitor the base's surveillance cameras instead of letting a computer do it because they felt that the boring duty would "build character".
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theatre]]
* "Money Isn't Everything" from the RodgersAndHammerstein musical ''Allegro'' sarcastically lists the deficiencies of money, concluding that "it cannot build your character or teach you how to starve".
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''VideoGame/TeamFortress2'' - The Soldier believes this, according to one of his voice clips: "Pain is weakness leaving the body!"
* ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'' - Chrom tells Lissa that "hardship builds character" while she's complaining about having to camp out. She angrily replies that she's "built quite enough character for one day".
* ''VideoGame/{{Messiah}}'': In the intro, God tells Bob that the upcoming mission will "help build character". "I've got enough character," Bob protests.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Visual Novels]]
* In ''VisualNovel/SteinsGate'' before starting the True End [[spoiler:to save Kurisu]] Okabe has to suffer through [[spoiler:accidentally killing her ''himself'' once]] because without that failure he would never have the will required to [[spoiler:obsessively devote himself to developing his own time travel to save her out of horrible guilt.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/TheyAreMyNobleMasters'' the colonel tells Ren he needs to be aware that a hard life has made him strong, but Yume's spoiled life has made her weak and that this is going to be a fundamental disconnect between them. Yume is terrible at standing up against any form of adversity with her CoolBigSis servant Natose desperately trying to keep her from ever being hurt.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Webcomics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{MAG ISA}}'' -- This is the whole point of this comic. [[http://mag-isa.thecomicseries.com/comics/pl/119174 Eman]], the main hero goes through a lot of misery that the average person would probably end up just killing himself/herself.
* In [[http://ars.userfriendly.org/cartoons/?id=20020509&mode=classic this]] ''Webcomic/UserFriendly'' strip, Sid claims that obsessive addiction to Nethack is a good thing because it helps build character.
* ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'' has Durkon applying this philosophy:
-->''"...[B]ein' a dwarf is about doin' yer duty, even if it makes ye miserable. ESPECIALLY if it makes ye miserable!"''
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* Website/SFDebris takes major issue with this viewpoint in his review of the ''[[Series/StarTrekVoyager Voyager]]'' episode "Real Life". That episode plays the trope by having a holographic doctor suffer one of the worst real life nightmares and true AdultFear: hopelessly watching his ill child die. Not surprisingly, the issue never resurfaced for the character in question, which is what earned the episode Chuck's ire. It probably didn't help that, as Chuck Sonnenberg relates in the video in question, he had twin sons born prematurely and had to watch them on the knife edge between life and death, struggling to survive. It's a seriously powerful TearJerker when he informs his listeners "Don't tell me it builds fucking character."
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/EdEddNEddy'', after the Eds wrongfully accuse Jonny of being a "serial toucher" and sentence him to rolling down a hill in a giant tire, Eddy justifies it by citing the trope. [[spoiler:And given his rather shocking history of abuse from his brother see in TheMovie, he might just believe it.]]
-->'''Edd:''' Should we feel worried about Jonny's predicament?\\
'''Eddy:''' Nah! You know what they say, a little childhood trauma builds character.
* In ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'', this basically became Zuko's personal life philosophy.
--> '''Zuko''': ''I don't need luck though, I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am.''
** He's just trying to please his MagnificentBastard father, who ''claims'' this is the case, but his philosophy is actually MightMakesRight. His son doesn't agree? Teach him a permanent lesson... On his ''face.''
---> '''Ozai''': ''You will learn respect, and '''suffering''' will be your teacher.''
** It takes Zuko ''three years'' to realize that this trope is ''bullshit'' and [[CallingTheOldManOut Call The Old Man Out]] and tell him to ShutUpHannibal With a WorldOfCardboardSpeech.
---> '''Zuko''': How can you possibly justify a duel with a '''child?'''
---> '''Ozai''': It was to teach you '''respect!'''
---> '''Zuko''': It was '''cruel!''' And it was '''wrong!'''
* Franchise/{{Batman}} is always described as the very essence of this Trope. The loss of his parents made the (probably) most strong-willed person in the DC/DCAU-universe.
* In the ''HouseOfMouse'' episode "Goofy For A Day" Max decides to be a waiter to prove to Goofy that waiting is an easy job. When it proves to be tough for Max, Goofy tells him that "goofing up builds character".
* Miko of ''WesternAnimation/TransformersPrime'' receives a hefty, and long overdue dose of this during "Hurt". Mostly spending the first one and half season acting as a [[TooDumbToLive dipstick]], LeeroyJenkins, who loves getting in the way of missions, "Hurt" brings her down to earth with [[spoiler:killing Hardshell, and realizing her buddy Bulkhead will never fully recover from his injuries.]]
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/AmericanDad'' Stan decided that Steve needed to be bullied for being [[ExtremeDoormat too passive]] and WeakWilled and took up the job himself. In response Steve found the guy who tormented his dad in school on Facebook and paid him to beat Stan up. A few seasons later, it turns out Stan's original lesson was right, and Steve not only gets beaten up by said bully, but also the new bully he had been dealing with.
* In the season 2 episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'': "Dead Putting Society" Bart and Todd Flanders are neck-and-neck at a miniature golf competition and they have this conversation when they're tied at the final hole:
-->'''Bart''': This is pretty tense, isn't it, Todd.
-->'''Todd''': Yeah, my knees are shaking, I got butterflies in my stomach... But I guess this builds character.
-->'''Bart''': Who wants to build character? Let's quit!
-->'''Todd''': Okay.
* On ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyTest'', Johnny's dad explains why he's forcing Johnny to use his old WorldWarII isuue backpack which put Johnny at the bottom of the [[JuniorHigh middle school]] [[PopularityFoodChain food chain]]:
-->'''Johnny's Dad''': Johnny, my father made me use this ugly World War II backpack through middle school. The shame and embarrassment I felt from carrying that bag has followed me for the rest of my life. But it built character.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/SouthPark'' episode "The List", after Kyle becomes depressed because he's voted as the ugliest boy in school, he is visited by the ghost of Abraham Lincoln, who shows him that ugliness can be a [[BlessedWithSuck blessing in disguise]]: Ugly people have nothing handed to them and they must earn what they seek and thus will develop character, while [[BeautyIsBad beautiful people will have no redeeming character]] when their looks begin to fade.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* The principle for Lamarckian evolution: organisms change in accordance to adversities in their life, and pass the strengths to their offspring. Of course, [[ScienceMarchesOn it's long since been discredited in favor of Neo-Darwinian evolution]].
* TruthInTelevision in that there are people who subscribe to the philosophy, but sadly, not the desired effect. Bully apologists, for example, use this as an excuse to sit idly by and allow bullying to continue, believing that the abuse will make the victims stronger. The results: [[http://www.bullycide.org/ not so much.]] While it is true that people have become stronger in the face of adversity, this does not mean adversity always makes someone stronger.
** Even worse are those who ''approve'' of bullying victims killing themselves because [[SocialDarwinist it culls the weak from the population]] or because they disapprove of whatever traits provoked the bullying in the first place. GeorgeTakei has [[http://youtu.be/UACK93xF-FE something to say about that]].
** The key thing is that adversity does build character ''if you do something to overcome it'', many bully apologists forget this fact when the victim is clearly overmatched and/or has no one to recur. Remember, if you are being bullied and it's too much for you, there's no shame in seeking help; and best of all, your actions count towards building character.
* This does seem to be justifiable TruthInTelevision when applied to media creators making their characters miserable. Tortured characters seem to sell very well, as long as it doesn't veer into {{Wangst}} or DeusAngstMachina.
* Plenty of people who've experienced hardship (of any magnitude) value having had the experience because it taught them some sort of useful skill or helped them grow as a person, though they generally agree that they wouldn't want to do it ''again''.
* [[InvertedTrope Inverted]] by prisons. Norway is known for having [[LuxuryPrisonSuite rather nice prisons]] and has a reasonably low recidivism rate. The USA is known for having [[HellholePrison rather horrific prisons]] that [[HadToComeToPrisonToBeACrook make hardened criminals out of most of those who are sent there]]. For what it's worth, ''part'' of the issue is that the ''ways'' in which US prisons are horrific are ''especially'' cruel to those who value compassion, while more brutal behaviours get reinforced. Still though, it goes to show that suffering alone does not build character; or, at the very least, it depends on when you suffer and why.
** "Character" doesn't necessarily imply morality. The prison experience turning someone into a hardass could be this trope GoneHorriblyRight.
* This may be required to function to an extent. However there is a limit (you may get PTSD for example, which is more a breaking of one's character rather then development of it). The flip-side being is that, since everyone's life always has its hardships, there's really no reason to go piling them on simply for extra misery.
* Pretty much a default part of life when living in Russia. Or even [[RussianGuySuffersMost being Russian anywhere else]]. Part of why MotherRussiaMakesYouStrong.
* Part of the reasoning behind many ascetic religious/philosophical disciplines and customs that are practiced by many different belief systems - fasting, vows of poverty/silence/chastity, food restrictions (denying oneself meat, alcohol, fatty, sweet, or other "luxury" foods), etc - willingly giving up various indulgences and accepting physical discomfort (even temporarily) is believed by many faiths to strengthen a person's faith and bring them in touch with their spiritual side. It's just believed that pleasurable things get in the way not that hardship itself is necessary. Though several paths do recognise that pleasurable things actually ''enhance'' spirituality, if apreciated in a proper way. To a more serious extreme, being persecuted and even martyred for your faith is seen as a badge of honor by many religions.
* Part of why countless rites of passages around the world throughout history (especially for guys) involved pain - whether by combat, ritual scarring, piercing, a highly uncomfortable ritual, a dangerous stunt, survival situation, etc - a mere boy cries when he gets hurt, but a real man toughs it out and becomes stronger for it.
* Actress Virginia Hey has not been shy about saying that her time on ''{{Series/Farscape}}'' was incredibly rough on her. Aside from having to shave her head and eyebrows off to play the alien Zhaan, she also had to be slathered in blue body paint that caused her kidney problems during her time on the show (although it should be noted she has no ill will toward the show or its fanbase, and was willing to stay on if they could reach a compromise involving a bald cap and a different makeup, but they couldn't, and she simply couldn't handle the physical toll anymore.) Looking back, she said that she actually enjoyed it for a while, since she felt like, as a former model, she was "paying her dues" and earning her stripes as a full-fledged actor. Other actors (often jokingly, but not always) have similar ideas of having to "pay your dues," involving things like filming scenes in the freezing cold, working with uncomfortable prosthetics, or having to work a long run in theater before truly being able to call yourself an actor.
* Creator/FriedrichNietzsche is famous for saying "That which does not kill us makes us stronger". As the philosophy is antithetical to the concept of Inborn Fitness, his belief in this is often used as evidence that he wasn't a SocialDarwinist like many who associate him with the Nazis attest.
* During most of his public sparring sections heavyweight boxer, MuhammadAli, would intentionally let bigger men, like Larry Holmes, beat him up in the ring without showing any of his offensive skills. This was so he could master taking punishment and have better defensive reflexes. It paid off during his historical victory against "Big" George Foreman in Zaire Africa, when he [[RopeADope laid against the ropes and let Foreman tire himself out by taking punishment]].
* Unhappy with the way his shy, sensitive son Rudolph was turning out, Emperor Franz Joseph I. of Austria deliberately invoked this, assigning a DrillSergeantNasty-type to 'toughen the boy up'. It [[DrivenToSuicide ended up backfiring rather spectacularly.]]
* Studies have shown that willpower can be trained in the same way muscles can. Doing things you don't want to do, even silly ones like brushing your teeth with the "wrong" hand, makes it easier to accomplish other, more important things.
* The actor and musician Creator/HughLaurie was raised presbyterian with the idea that all fun is suspicious. He has stated that he thinks he may be incapable of having fun, and describes his relationship to pleasurable things as such: "I have this thing in my head... if a thing is pleasurable it can't be any good.. I try to flip it the other way and make it not pleasurable to make it good- which is insane, it doesn't make any sort of sense".
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