The main character of Elfen Lied, Lucy, started out as this, and was tormented from a young age by the other children for being different. Unfortunately, those differences extended far beyond anyone's expectations of her, and when she finally snapped after the other kids murder her puppy in front of her, she started killing people efficiently and indiscriminately, with the ultimate goal of human extinction.
There's a fair few characters in Elfen Lied that are this "fair few" meaning every single protagonist, without exception. Nana gets a special mention.
Nana is an extremely clever inversion. It's explicitly stated that her "Cutie" persona is a psychological defense mechanism that she developed as a result of the universe's constant attempts to break her. Without that, she would be every bit the killing machine that Lucy and Mariko are.
So the "cute and harmless" personality thing is evidently the default fallback persona for Dicloni'?
Or Mayu, who ran away from home because her stepfather was molesting her and her mother blamed her for it and was repeatedly exposed to scenes of carnage and horror and her dog being taken away. Though, in a fashion that's something of a theme of the story, he comes back
And Kurumi, despite her Love Martyr tendencies, finds herself pretty broken. A good example would be her huge Heroic BSOD after Reilan's Thanatos Gambit. The fact that immediately afterward Hakuron raped her repeatedly in an effort to stop her from leaving him didn't help.
Amelia, princess of Seyruun, reaches this trope several times, but she manages to snap back without breaking. It's kind of strange, granted that her mother was killed by an assassin when she was young, and her older sister left her because of it. The closest that she was to it was in NEXT, when she thought her father was dead too, and she collapsed in tears over that.
Arguably, Naga was broken in the past. After all she IS Amelia's older sister Gracia, and the circumstances in which she left Seyroon were simply horrible. She walked on her mom's assassination, killed the culprit in a really gory fashion, and then she set off home.
Chise from Saikano. She asks for death before the series is even half over. But she's not that lucky.
Dawn/Hikari from Pokémon fits this to a T. She was bubbly and cheery in the beginning, then when she failed at one too many Pokémon Contests, not even getting past the Appeals stage in her last, she was absolutely crushed. And proceeded to fake being cheery and bubbly, crying when nobody's around, and experiencing a LOT of self-doubt until the Wallace Cup.
Not too long after Dawn got broken, the group learned Maylene was in a similar situation — Paul had recently kicked her ass and called her a weakling after getting his badge. The girls end up in a Pokémon battle to get each other back in fighting spirit.
Ash, while not a "cutie" per se, went through this after being beaten in a Curb-Stomp Battle against Paul, where he got beaten 6-2. He spent an episode moping until he finally pulled himself together, but though his attitude improved, his battle skills have suffered tremendously, in the form of him not winning a single non-gym battle for quite a while.
Ash was broken way back in The Indigo League. In the Indigo League Championships, the day of his match with Ritchie, he was kidnapped by Team Rocket. After spending the entire episode using all of his Pokemon to escape (almost missing the match, and only not missing it because Ritchie kept stalling for time), he finally makes it back. Most of his Pokemon are too exhausted to battle by this point, meaning that he's handicapped. On top of that, he lost solely because Charizard refused to listen to him, thinking Ritchie's Pikachu was too weak to battle. Ash, feeling that his dreams were now over, was understandably depressed the next day, only everyone treated him like he had no right to mope. He bounces back, but after all he went through (not just losing the match for arguably unfair reasons, but also Team Rocket's harassment), a little depression was understandable.
After having to develop her training abilities from scratch, pulverizing a Drilbur in lieu of a Pokemon battle so it can serve as her starter, and wiping 99 trainers in a row, Iris had every right to brag. Then Drayden came along and stomped her so hard she lost her composure and Excadrill stopped obeying her out of despair. It takes losing to Langley for Iris to begin rediscovering herself and helping Excadrill out of his funk. It seems to have paid off, as the rematch ended in a draw between Excadrill and Beartic. We'll see how long that lasts.
In Pokémon Diamond and Pearl Adventure! this happened retroactively to Koya and his Growlithe. After battling a trainer that was way above their level, Growlithe was so traumatized that it didn't even want to be touched by its trainer. Koya became more aggressive and serious.
Riza Hawkeye is a retroactive example. She used to be a cute and meek girl before her parents died (and it's strongly implied her dad was rather unbalanced, which is confirmed later), leaving her an orphan, and she trusted Roy with the secret to Fire Alchemy, inadvertently creating a Person of Mass Destruction. She then joined the army and went through Ishval, forcing her to toughen up the hard way, but without tossing all of her feelings away. How she got that secret: by having it forcibly tattooed on her back. And Roy later had to add more scars by burning said back so no one would be able to discover it.
The identity of the Rockbells' killer differs between the 2003 anime version and the manga/Brotherhood anime. A young and traumatized Roy in the first series, Scar in the manga/Brotherhood. But it's played amazingly both times.
Ed and Al, in all continuities. They started out with a happy family, but then Daddy left for very good reasons, Mommy died, they attempted to bring back Mommy only to fail and mutilate themselves in the process. And THAT'S all before the story even begins!
In the 2003 anime version, Rose, who just wanted to help people, felt the full swing of the show's gradual slide away from the idealistic end of the scale when she was protecting some children during an invasion of her home town. She was gangraped by soldiers and left pregnant and mute (due to trauma), and ended up so empty that she was used as a figurehead of a religious movement, and then just as an empty shell for the Big Bad to possess.
There's poor Sayu Yagami, Light's sweet, adorable little sister in: During the second arc she gets kidnapped by Mello and ends up so traumatized that she goes catatonic and her mother has to use a wheelchair to move her around(!) She appears in a brief scene later in the manga. Word Of God says she hasn't fully recovered, but she's improving. Thank the Gods.
...and maybe since now Soichiro is not there anymore to stop his advances, and after his experience with "real life" (read below), Matsuda finally gets to end up with Sayu ("I will take care of her because I love her")...and if he is now a little more realistic and a little sadistic like most of the other characters in the crazed universe of Death Note, he´s taking advantage of this (AKA rape the poor indefense catatonic girl).
There's also poor Touta Matsuda, who is a genuinely good (if a little dumb) person who hero-worships Soichiro, L, and Light and always gives his all to the investigation, even if he ends up hindering it more than helping it. Everyone makes it very clear that they don't think Matsuda is very important to the investigation despite that he's as committed as everyone else, and he ends up developing a pretty big inferiority complex. Then two of his heroes (Soichiro and L) die, and in the Yellow Box Warehouse he finds out that Light was responsible for both deaths and that he is the killer that they've been hunting this entire time. When Matsuda tries to take him down before he can kill Near, Light starts screaming that he's an idiot.. The poor guy has his idealism, mentors, and self-esteem slowly demolished throughout the series... No wonder he completely snaps and almost kills Light in the spot, screaming his head off and with Berserker Tears running down his face. He's back to normal in the epilogue of the manga, but a little bit less trusting.
In Silent Möbius, not long after Katsumi's Face-Heel Turn, Yuki Saikou starts seeing disturbing visions of the future. Needless to say, she doesn't take this well at all. And we're not counting Yuki's own past as well...
Shirley Fennette was convinced by Mao to try to shoot Lelouch, as he knew exactly what to say due to his mind-reading powers. Lelouch tried to fix everything by giving her amnesia, but she still wound up really insecure and timid. In the second season, Gottwald accidentally brings her memories back while testing out his Geass Canceler, which leads to her eventual death at Rolo's hands.
Nunnally maintains a happy smile and only wants to be with her brother, despite being blind and crippled as a result of her mother being murdered in front of her. Although many things happen over the course of the show to separate them, she never lets them get her down. And by the second season she comes into her own, as Viceroy of Area 11. However, at the end of the show, her brother uses his Geass to force her to give him the key to a WMD, chains her up as a prisoner in a parade, then winds up dead (by his own orders) in an effort to unite the world in hating him. All this gets to her and she wails over his dead body.
Mao, the orphan whom C.C. gave Geass to, went through this as well. He Used to Be a Sweet Kid but his mind-reading powers drove him completely insane, rendering him the most irreparably broken character in the entire series, who had to be mercy killed by C.C.. He's even famous for it.
Suzaku starts off at the beginning of the series as a chivalrous and gentle person before the series starts getting darker. As it runs its course, he suffers a Heroic BSOD when it's revealed that he killed his father, and then later he's given a "Live" Geass order from Lelouch which means that he has to stay alive at all costs, after which his girlfriend gets killed off in a very ugly fashion and then later he ends up deploying nuclear weapons while under the effect of his Geass, and ultimately gets pushed across the Despair Event Horizon. And then finally he's left to a potential Fate Worse than Death by killing Lelouch as Zero as soon as he manages to hook back up with him, and has to spend the rest of his life as Zero all Lonely at the Top.
Mai Tokiha from Mai-HiME was a loving sister that worked hard for her sickly brother's sake and an all-around nice girl, willing to sacrifice herself for others. However, the combined weight of having to try to prevent her friends from killing each other, watching Shiho order Yuuichi to kiss her to deliberately make Mai jealous, and then watching her brother Takumi die in her arms (apparently the hands of her best friend Mikoto, but it later turns out that Shiho killed Akira's child out of jealousy) finally pushed her over the edge. She calmed down a bit when Mikoto temporarily came out of her Brainwashed and Crazy state and tried to apologize, but was unable to call off Kagutsuchi's attack in time and watched as it seemingly burned Mikoto to ashes. With her brother who she built an identity around working to provide for dead, her love interest stolen by his childhood friend, her best friend having just died by her own hands, and with other HiMEs after her own life... Well, she breaks.
Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Judai Yuuki's experiences in Season 3, including being pursued by a supernatural Stalker with a Crush, seeing his best friends die one by one, and hitting the Moral Event Horizon with his 'being evil in order to fight evil',have slowly and painfully turned him from the happy-go-lucky Ace into a depressed shell that makes Shinji Ikari look downright chipper. The dub, meanwhile, seemed on track to ignore all of that but didn't, for once. He gets better. A lot better, ending the series by going out into the world to help other people with his powers instead of just selfishly pursuing his own desires.
In the Yu-Gi-Oh! anime, Mai Valentine experienced this between the end of Battle City and the Doma arc.
Seto Kaiba was subjected to years of abuse by his adoptive father. It worked: he was successfully broken and remade into said adoptive father's image. Who could do that to such a cute little child genius??
Also from 5D's: Dark Magical Girl Aki Izayoi. We're first introduced to her as the Emotionless Girl and a closet sadist, as well as someone who refuses to think for herself and is a generally unsympathetic character, to both the audience and the world. Come Episode 40, where Aki is comatose after dueling Evil Counterpart Misty (who breaks her brain by telling Aki that she killed her brother, and, indirectly, Misty herself) and witnessing the only person she really cares about fall to his death (or so they think!), and we meet her father. Who reveals that, aside from having serious abandonment issues because she adored him and he was never home, she suffered serious mental abuse and a bit of physical abuse when she was a child, because he couldn't come to terms with the fact that she had powers. When she grows up, she's ostracized by nearly every single person she meets for the same reason, and she can't get rid of it without turning into what is implied to be an even bigger social pariah in the Yu-Gi-Oh! universe, since everyone you meet plays cards. And I mean everyone. Yuusei forgives her for being a little psychopathic.
Subaru Sumeragi in CLAMP's Tokyo Babylon and X1999 was very carefully broken, and then some more, by his love interest Seishirou.
Rena and Satoko from Higurashi no Naku Koro ni both qualify, though Rena tends to snap, while Satoko breaks. Rika also tends to get it pretty hard. In fact, it's hard to argue that any of the cuties of Hinamizawa aren't broken at some point.
Seems to be the entire point of Bokurano, featuring a large cast of cuties all broken, tortured, and killed one by one.
Or any story Mohiro Kitoh writes, really. Just look at Hiroko, Akira, Norio, and everyone in the side of good from Narutaru.
Gohan in Dragon Ball Z. He starts out as something of a nerdy crybaby, but then he's kidnapped (twice in the same day!), abandoned in the wilderness, watches his father get beaten and killed, watches his kidnapper-turned-father-figure get beaten and killed, watches a bunch of his father's friends get beaten and killed, and watches his father's best friend get beaten and almost killed, all in the first story arc! This is repeated in the following story arc, with the deaths of Krillin and Dende, and more beatings for Goku and Piccolo. It finally culminates in the Cell arc, when Cell deliberately goes out of his way to piss Gohan off and he dutifully shows us why we should Beware the Nice Ones by reaching the first level beyond Super Saiyan, by shifting from All-Loving Hero Jr. into a brutal, sadistic, homicidal maniac that would make Frieza proud. Then his father dies. Post-Time Skip, aside from the Super Hero gig, Gohan's retired from fighting in order to attend high school and take a shot at just being a normal kid, but once he re-takes a level in badass and finds out the Big Bad murdered everyone, including his Love Interest and mother? DBZ is nothing if not repetitive! The Future Badass version, who suffered the permanent loss of everyone he knew at a young age, does not even approach this level of power or heartbreak.
Gohan actually got an episode seemingly centered around this. Early on, Gohan had apparently been watching too many Disney movies, as he's constantly trying to make friends with butterflies and squirrels, asking them their names, etc. Then an early Z episode shatters any illusions he may have had about nature being cuddly and cute. He meets a wounded dinosaur and attempts to nurse it back to health, applying a poultice to its injuries and gathering food for it. There's a short scene where he imagines how cool it will be to keep it for a pet and have adventures with it, illustrated in a cute super-deformed style. Then a short while later, another dinosaur attacks it, and Gohan fails in fighting it off and gets knocked senseless, awakening to find his new friend's bones scattered on the ground. The lesson: stop baby-talking at nature, little five-year-old, it doesn't like you.
He spends the latter half of his training eating that other dinosaur's tail, bit by bit, for breakfast. Payback is not only a bitch, but apparently delicious.
Much more mild, and much, much shorter versions of this trope were applied to Gohan's younger brother Goten, who watched the Big Bad murder his mother in cold blood after his father returned to the Afterlife and he was lead to believe that Gohan himself was dead, and daughter Pan, who was nearly killed by various Brainwashed and Crazy family members, including Gohan himself. Surprisingly unlike the others she didn't go super saiyan or have a nervous breakdown by the end of that story arc.
Vegeta is implied to have suffered similar things throughout his childhood: According to his death speech, he was kidnapped by Frieza, and then ordered to do whatever Frieza demanded if he wants to see his father live. Unfortunately for him, Frieza isn't one who keeps his word, as his dad ended up murdered by him, as well as virtually all of his race.
Broly, since his birth, had to endure several life-threatening situations. For one thing, King Vegeta attempted to have Broly executed just because he felt he would have been a threat to the royal family due to his power level of 10,000. Shortly after that, as well as being tossed into a dump along with his father (who was also nearly executed because he attempted to stop Vegeta from executing his son), he also narrowly escaped with his dad from Planet Vegeta's destruction by Frieza, and was also implied to have spent most of his childhood constantly in hiding and also in constant pain and fear, and eventually started developing Ax-Crazy tendencies. Later, his dad also forced him to wear a Hypno Trinket / Power Limiter due to fearing his power, and was later used to destroy the South Galaxy as part of a revenge scheme against Vegeta.
Kotonoha Katsura from School Days seems to "snap" particularly hard. Then again, she was most likely unstable from the beginning... Why, actually? She first was bullied by Otome and her friends for at least several months just for being rich and pretty, the bullying got much worse after she went out to Makoto. Then Makoto started to act like a Jerk Ass, she was raped by her boyfriend's best friend, and Setsuna treated her like shit so Makoto hooks up with Sekai. And people in Real Life have reacted worse for much lighter stuff.
Last Exile: The character Dio. His sister Delphine kidnaps him while his friendLuciola stands by and does nothing (although, to be fair, they were outnumbered by Delphine's elite guards). Then, while he screams for Luciola to save him, he is brutally Mind Raped on his sister's orders. Pre-Mind Rape, Dio was a cheerful, if odd and extremely hyper, young man with a great fondness for glomping people and flying vanships. Post Mind Rape, he is a mentally unhinged killer with a tendency to stare off into space giggling and engage in Brother-Sister Incest with the one who made him that way. The birthday party scene made this even worse. Though he got better.
How exactly did he get better? He snaps out of his Mind Rape in a vanship, alone, just after having hallucinated being in a race and telling Luciora (who was already dead at that point) to jump out to reduce weight. Hard to imagine anything more heart-breaking.
Despite his age, Vash from Trigun has a childlike view of humanity and breaks every time he sees anyone, innocent or not, killed by another person. He truly does break when he's forced to shoot Legato in the head to save Meryl and Millie, at least for a little while.
His past was like this, too. He is a Broken Hero, after all.
Knives had this happen to him too (moreso in the manga). In fact, when they were young, Knives had been more sensitive than Vash. Which also explains why he took the discovery of the experiments on other plants so much worse than Vash.
Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha is an inversion of this trope. When she is introduced, she is a cutie broken by severe emotional and physical abuse perpetrated by her deranged Mad Scientist of a mother, Precia. Through The Power of Friendship, a nice adoptive family and an interesting job, she ends up unbroken... But not before getting further broken shortly after being "befriended" when she found out that she was merely a clone of Precia's real daughter, Alicia.
Even more, in the movie continuity... Precia was the broken cutie. And it wasn't pretty, either.
In the second season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, after Hayate was given a surprise party by Suzuka, Alisa, Nanoha, and Fate, two mages disguised as the main leads brought Hayate to the roof of the hospital and told her that her disease was incurable and fatal. Then they showed her the remains of Signum and Shamal, two of the knights she had adopted as her family. Then they executed Vita, the knight she was closest to, right in front of her eyes. Oh, and all of this was done during Christmas Eve.Snap.
One could argue that this trope was both played straight and inverted when it comes to Hayate. She does get better, most of her loved ones are saved eventually and she ultimately grows into a successful levelheaded woman.
Hayate is a pretty poor example. Despite going through that wringer, her "breakdown" consisted of screaming for a moment and then having her body involuntarily taken. She wakes up in something like an hour and tells her body-hijacking servant that the whole "kill the world" thing it thought she wanted was a load of grade-A bullcrap, and helps the heroines take down the berserk system.
The titular heroines of Gunslinger Girl get broken from the inside by their own cybernetic implants and by the brutal mental conditioning they receive to function as cold-blooded assassins. And that's not even mentioning the singularly horrible things that happened to them in order to necessitate them becoming cyborgs to survive.
The Berserk storyline specializes in taking sympathetic characters and putting them through horrible shit.
When we first meet Casca, she's an intelligent and capable Action Girl who at one point leads the Band of the Hawks to rescue Griffith from his horrific year-long torture ordered by the King for having sex with his daughter. But when Griffith later does his infamous Face-Heel Turn, she loses everyone in the Hawks to a whole mess of demons summoned by the evil Godhand, and then gets stripped naked by demons who have naughty tentacles in mind for her before being raped by the newly-transformed Griffith, who has joined the Godhand as their fifth member Femto, right in front of Guts, the man she loves, who is forced to watch. The horror of the experience completely shatters poor Casca's mind and leaves her unable to speak. Gutsismad at Griffith both for this and the betrayal that led up to it.
The universe hasn't been kind to Guts either. A poor innocent baby who is rescued from under the tree where his mother was hanged while she was pregnant, Guts is a pretty nice kid early on his life. He willingly serves the mercenary group that raises him, and gives all of the money he earns to his surrogate father, Gambino, and devotes his life to trying to please him. After Gambino sells him to a mercenary named Donovan for three silver coins, who proceeds to rape him despite Guts's best efforts to fight him off, he starts to lose his innocence (as if living day to day by killing people wasn't enough of a stressor), this loss of innocence finally solidifies when Gambino, having lost his leg in battle and no longer able to fight or lead his men on the battlefield, gets massively drunk and attempts to murder him because he believes that Guts is cursed and blames him for the death of his lover Shisu, Guts's surrogate mother, from the plague, and Guts is forced to kill him out of self-defense. Guts still has nightmares about the experiences as an adult, even before the Eclipse goes down.
Many Apostles have had their lives go completely to shit as part of the process of causality leading them to their Despair Event Horizon, their sacrifice and their transformation, but none more tragically than Rosine. An imaginative and clever little girl from an abusive household, strongly hinted to have been a Child by Rape (her mom was raped during the war and her dad abuses both mom and kid due to this), all she wanted was to find the elves that she always believed in and get away from her horrible home situation. When she runs off looking for the elves, she doesn't find them, but her parents find her. Her mom is just glad that she's okay and alive, but her abusive father is furious, and starts viciously beating on her. The blood from the beating and her despair activates the Behelit, which leads to the poor frightened little girl who just wanted elves to be real finding out that she could have been one herself and not just some filthy cruel human, and proceeds to sacrifice both her parents in order to become what she thinks is an elf.
Theresia, a twelve-year-old girl and the daughter of The Count, one of the early Apostles that Guts kills in the series, is a classic case of an innocent daughter sheltered from the world and wanting more than anything to be free of her "cage," as she explains to Puck, who the Count has captured and brought to her as a "pet." She tells Puck that her mother was killed by pagans, and her father became different ever since, almost like he wasn't even human anymore. When Guts's battle with the Count makes a wreck of the castle, the door to Theresia's room becomes undone, and Theresia can finally escape. But when she arrives at her father's chamber, she is horrified upon seeing the monstrous Apostle form of her father, is taken hostage by Guts in a What the Hell, Hero? moment, and then is forced to watch as Guts puts him through the same torture that he puts other Apostles through. And then the Count's Behelit activates and the Godhand arrive. After a brief battle with Guts, Femto, the newest member of the Godhand, demands that Theresia be sacrificed so that the Count can continue to live. And then, as Theresia watches in terror and horror, the other Godhands reveal to her the truth about her mother's fate — that she had joined the pagans and was conducting an orgy in the Count's own castle when he arrived, that he found himself unable to kill her despite her utter betrayal, which drove him over the Despair Event Horizon and allowed the Godhand to show up, and that the Count himself sacrificed her in order to become a demon. This ordeal, along with having to watch her father get Dragged Off to Hell after refusing to sacrifice her, is enough to drive Theresia to attempt suicide, but she finds the will to live again when the ground below her gives way and she grabs Guts's outstretched Dragon Slayer. Poor little Theresia is left with an utter hatred for Guts, manifested in one of the scariest Death Glares ever as she vows to kill him one day.
Louise Halevy from Mobile Suit Gundam 00 falls into this trope after Nena Trinity obliterates her family at a wedding, leaving the girl without her left hand and completely distraught. Starting with the second season, she joins the A-Laws, the secret police of the Federation, as she tries to get revenge on Celestial Being for the murders of her family. She finally finds the said murderer and gets her revenge, but it only serves to BREAK her further. She didn't find any satisfaction, she didn't find any praises from her dead parents from avenging them, and she has become a murderer, just like the murdered. She got better, eventually.
The other Gundam pilots also get quite broken. Examples?
Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Quatre. Although, his is an odd example, since it's the system he was hooked into to that psychically broke him. And then he bounced back.
Before piloting Wing Zero, Quatre was already distraught over his colony's betrayal, his father's death and one of his sisters being critically injured during the attack. The manga says she died, but in the anime she just vanishes - and later, the light novel says she lived on.. The system was merely a catalyst: he would've have been broken anyway without the Zero system, which sped up the breaking process.
Setsuna F. Seiei murders his family as part of a requirement to fight for God. Too bad the person who told him to do it really wasn't a messenger from God, and just got his kicks from killing people, something Setsuna finds out quite crappily when he finds this same person serving as a commander in an unrelated PMC.
Lockon Stratos (The first one) starts out as a cute kid who's life is torn apart when his family is killed in a terrorist attackperpetrated by someone who turns out to be one of one of Setsuna's True Companions. And then he dies, left as a wreck of a man who gave hope and help to others, but was himself consumed by his desire for revenge, and he actively refused to meet the only relative he had left: his twin younger brother.
The second Lockon (and said twin brother) didn't have it much better. He tried to get over his own revenge desire, but had to deal with his teammates distrusting him at first and comparing him to the first one for a while. And then his girlfriend turned out to be a Manchurian Agent, and when he was THIS close to subvert her brainwashing... she got brainwashed AGAIN, and Setsuna has to Shoot the Dog. He almost breaks.
As long as we're talking Gundam pilots, most of the non-Char non-Bright cast in Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam. Four comes prebroken, but Rosamia, who seems like a Cloudcuckoolander (if perhaps mildly mentally challenged) completely breaks during the series. Kamille himself in the finale. What can you expect from a series with a mobile suit named the Psyco Gundam?
While not the main Gundam pilot, After War Gundam X has a picture of a young, happy Jamil Neate prior to his stint as the GX's original pilot. Fifteen years later, he is much more subdued, has a huge scar across his face, (the girl who's with him in the picture has been turned into a Girl in a Box and disappeared), he is put into extreme pain when he uses his Newtype powers, and has a major "cockpit phobia" that prevents him from operating a mobile suit. (Not that any of these factors make him less of a total badass.) Plus the whole blaming himself for the apocalypse thing.
And while not shown openly, his adoptive daughter and fellow Newtype Tiffa Addil is strongly implied to have been treated as a little more than a lab rat for most of her 15 years of life, which left her with a strong phobia of people aside of Jamil and the Freeden crew. A good part of her Character Development consists on this particular broken cutie managing to put her own pieces together and remaining quiet, yet not as fearful as she used to be.
As of the third generation, his grandson Kio Asuno is getting quite broken as well. In episode 32, i.e., the death of his Cool Big Sis figure Shanaluahurt. And it gets worse when he finds himself empathizing with a dying colony and falling for the Ill Girl Lua...
In Deadman Wonderland, main character Ganta is imprisoned in a maximum security prison/theme park after emerging from a Heroic BSOD after his entire class gets slaughtered by a mysterious "Red Man" right before a field trip to said prison/theme park. In short order he's sentenced to death, befriended by Ax-Crazy Shiro, discovers that a piece of candy he lost was actually antidote for the poison that's being constantly injected into his body, that he actually does have the power that killed his classmates, courtesy of a red diamond implanted into his body by the Red Man, and discovers other "Deadmen" and is forced to learn how to use his power to fight them in a tournament. And that's not even half of this manga's current chapters.
This also happens to Nagi after Genkaku reminds him that he has no hope of seeing his child by escaping out of Deadman Wonderland. He later kills himself and attempts to take Genkaku with him (the monk ends up in a coma). And then there's Genkaku himself, who was shown in the past to have been a timid, cute monk that got repeatedly beaten and raped by bullies, with the elder monk in charge being unsympathetic and uncaring, and seeing the little wounded kitten he was taking care of die - all of this causing him to go insane.
In Monster, Johan is especially prone to doing this to his victims, even simply to screw with them. For example, in volume 12, sending an abandoned small boy to look for his mother, telling him that if he sees her, and she sees him, if she truly loves him and wants him she'll take him back (naturally, Johan is crossdressing as the much more wholesome Anna at the time, making it that much creepier). He sends him to look for his mother in the red light district of Prague — where the boy witnesses rape, depravity, a drug addicted prostitute dying from withdrawal begging him for money and the prostitutes themselves taunting him. Tenma and Grimmer have to talk him out of jumping off a bridge after this. This still doesn't quite break the cutie. But it comes damn close. This boy is perhaps 7 or 8. This is one of Johan's most despicable acts of the series, and considering that he commits quite a few of them throughout, that's saying something.
And Anna! Poor, poor Anna... Johan crushes her so many times in so many ways that she comes this close to suicide.
Momo Hinamori was manipulated for decades by someone she dearly loved, who knew all of her strengths and weaknesses and played them frighteningly well to get his plans done. Aizen point-blank states that he groomed her to not be able to survive without him. He almost kills her before leaving her deeply traumatized and brokenhearted. Then, just as she's on the road to recovery, he manipulates her and her childhood friend again, resulting in Hitsugaya stabbing her almost to death. Word Of God states Shinji's been a hugely positive influence on her since the story's time skip.
Hitsugaya has had it hard as well, even if not in her level. As a child, people used to fear him because of his powers, with Hinamori and his grandma as the only ones who didn't run from him. Later he decides to become a shinigami to protect Hinamori, but couldn't save her from herself and Aizen, getting to witness Hinamori's breaking and then being stabbed to near death for confronting Aizen about it. Cue Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
Rangiku Matsumoto, a Hard-Drinking Party Girl and Cool Big Sis to Hinamori, Orihime and even her own captain. Gin Ichimaru saved her from starving to death when they were children and she became his Morality Pet. Turns out she was beaten up by Aizen's thugs in an attack that was related to Aizen's Hougyoku experiments. Gin rescued her, and spent the next hundred years getting close enough to Aizen to take his revenge. He failed and Rangiku was reduced to a sobbing wreck as he died.
Rukia Kuchiki seems to have stretched her breaking out over several decades, after her childhood as a Street Urchin and having to kill her Big Brother Mentor and first love. She largely managed to hold herself together, right up until the aforementioned Gin managed to shatter her composure prior to her execution with just a few words, leaving her a screaming wreck.
Orihime came from a home so abusive that her older brother kidnapped her and ran away from home when she was three because it was the only way to save her life. She was bullied in school for her odd coloured hair and her brother then died just after her first and only fight with him, eventually hollowfying and trying to kill her for not pining over him forever. Then the Arrancar Arc turns into one long quest to break her into itty bitty pieces, ranging from kidnapping her, psychological torture, implied rape threats, physical abuse and being forced to watch her main captor rip a hole through Ichigo's chest and cut Uryuu to pieces just for trying to rescue her. Unsurprisingly, she breaks in a big way, but eventually recovers.
Ichigo becomes the broken cutie when everyone else gets completely brainwashed by Arc Villain Tsukishima. When he's deprived of all his family and friends, his very last friend in the world is revealed to be the real Arc Villain and promptly steals the power Ichigo's worked so hard to regain. Ichigo is quite literally left on his knees, a sword sticking through his chest, sobbing helplessly.
The Meet Cute flashback story of how Isshin and Masaki first met turns out to be a much darker story than fans expected. Despite everything that happens, Masaki is not the cutie that gets broken. Ryuuken is. The arc turns out to be one long giant Heroic BSOD for him. He only gains a measure of hope at the very end of the arc when he realises his despair is breaking another cutie - his Ninja Maid and future wife, Katagiri. That turns out to be a Hope Spot as Katagiri is eventually murdered, which breaks Ryuuken for good.
Everything that happens to Princess Oboro in Basilisk. Her fiancé is the leader of an enemy faction despite both being really in love, the peace treaty that would allow them to marry was messily broken behind her back, her lieutenant steals the command from her and attempts to rape her twice in the course of the story, very powerful people meddle in the clans' feud to make it worse, and all of her servants/warriors/friends/enemies die, all of them VERY messily. No wonder she ultimately decides to kill herself and die with honor rather than fighting her injured, blinded, almost dead True Love in the end. Who, having become broken as well, promptly commits suicide as well.]]
Juri Katou of Digimon Tamers started out as a Genki Girl with a hand puppet to emphasize her childlike nature. She is the penultimate innocent of the cast, as well as the shy, sweet girl that main character Takato has a crush on. Then, once on the adventure, after a promising start as a potentially excellent Tamer, she loses her Digimon partner and gets kidnapped and possessed by the Big Bad. The Big Bad then proceeds to conjure up monsters based on her worst memories (revealing in the process that she was a Stepford Smiler all along, completely broken after her beloved mother dies of illness and her father tries to raise her alone but can't do a lot for her) in order to feed on her sadness. This is one instance of Mind Rape that would give even NGE a run for its money...
It's not quite the same as Jeri,but Keenan in Digimon Savers fits the bill. As a baby he falls into a gate to the Digiworld crying helplessly for hours. So he gets adopted by a Frigimon,that gets killed right in front of him via Kurata and he's only 5. So he comes to think Humans Are the Real Monsters already. But even his own compatriots don't trust him and turn on him at proper excuse. Finally his father figure Merukimon also gets killed in front of him.
Speaking of the original series, Tailmon/Gatomon may be a Bad Ass, but that's partly because she went through this a long time ago. She was accidentally dropped in the forest as an egg when the Chosen Digimon were being transported to where they'd meet their partners, hatched and spent her entire early childhood isolated and lonely but still with a desire to be with her partner that she couldn't place, when she reached her Child/Rookie stage set off looking for her only to be captured by Vamdemon/Myotismon as a recruit for his army. She resisted for a while and ended up regularly beaten for it to the point that she gave in just to stay alive and eventually forgot the whole thing and got to be noted as one of his more valuable servants. When she does finally find Hikari and remember her past, nothing gets easier, seeing as she gets kidnapped and used to lure out her own partner and Wizarmon, her only real friend during her time under Vamdemon's service, is killed right in front of her(twice), and after Vamdemon seems to be defeated, her experiences don't entirely leave her.
Blood+ manages to break the same cutie twice courtesy of Easy Amnesia: Saya Otonashi starts out as a carefree young girl until her twin sister Diva, who Saya had set loose, murders Saya's foster father Joel and everyone else who was attending his birthday party, turning Saya's entire life into a mission to hunt Diva and her Chevaliers down and kill them. Then, after the Red Shield's disastrous meddling in Vietnam causes Saya to awaken in the present with no memories, Saya is once more a normal, cute Ordinary High-School Student... who is forced to fight Chiropterans, manipulated by her enemies, and has to deal with realizing that she's not human. When Diva rapes and murders Saya's adopted little brother Riku, Saya has a full-blown Heroic BSOD.
Aside from this, averted with Lulu, who sees all of the other Schiff die off in ones and twos, and faces her own premature death from the Thorn. Despite this, she remains happy and chipper, and eventually they find her a cure.
Pulled yet again in regards to Haji. Through a flashback, it is shown that the reason he went from being somewhat stoic to made of stone was because his blood turned his One True Love and reason for living into a murdering psychopath who forgot who he was and cut his arm off during her rampage.
Fushigi Yuugi revolves around this trope. Yui is raped within 5 minutes of her second trip there, and becomes a vengeful, hateful villainess, primarily because of her bishonen bodyguard Nakago, who warped her mind to the point where she blames her best friend Miaka for the rape, since she wasn't there to help her. Eventually, it turns out that Yui was never actually raped, but the entire thing was a ridiculously complicated plan by Nakago to pit them against each other as a part of a larger plan to stage a coup in Genbu. Later he tries to rape Miaka as well but fails, though he does get her to believe that it happened until someone else explains the mess.
Also, that whole arc where Yui drugs Tamahome to make him betray Miaka, who was temporarily broken until she breaks the spell with The Power of Love. Then, Miaka's own mistakes make everything worse for her, Tamahome, and their friends
Chiriko, Chiriko, Chiriko. This is a ten-year-old boy who initially Refused The Call when he realized he was a designated Suzaku warrior, because he was terrified of going to war (like any normal child would be). His final fate, in which HE STABS HIMSELF IN THE CHEST as a Taking You with Me attack on an enemy warrior, is so heartbreaking that even his adult comrades Tasuki and Mitsukake are brought to tears by witnessing it.
Misuzu from AIR arguably qualifies, since a lot of time and effort is put into presenting her as a sweet, lovable, although somewhat peculiar girl — only to have her suffer enormous pain in the last few episodes and die in the arms of her adoptive mother, her aunt Haruko. Her final moments are still gruesomely beautiful, though.
Neon Genesis Evangelion's plot tortures its already troubled protagonist Shinji to the point of snapping into a psychological breakdown for two whole episodes and/ordestroying humanity. Plus doing something similar to almost every single other character. Face it, at some point the writers sat down and said 'okay, we need to break every single character by the end of this series. Any ideas?' It's particularly heartbreaking when we're shown a flashback of a toddler Shinji right before witnessing the death of his mother: a young child who's smiling and constantly laughing, without a hint of bitterness and actually seeming outgoing. His 'break the cutie' process started at 4 years old and just kept going downhill.
Asuka Langlay Sohryu is a Jerk AssTsundere. Then we learn, in episode 22, that a full-blown Break the Cutie process made her the bitch we know: her mother Kyouko went crazy after having half her soul sucked in by the EVA 02, completely ignored Asuka and started seeing a Creepy Doll as a replacement for her (and may have tried to strangle little Asuka at least once), then hanged herself in her room with said doll in the same day Asuka was chosen as the EVA 02 pilot. And the poor little girl was the one who found the body. And how do we find that out? When she's under a horrendous Mind Rape that forces her to relive those memories. OUCH!
At least we get the hints that Shinji and Asuka (and most EVA characters) are messed up right away. But poor Maya Ibuki is probably the only character that manages to remain cheerful and well adjusted throughout the series. Which all falls apart in End of Evangelion when all their hard work was seemingly for naught and the JSDF (their supposed allies and fellow humans) start breaking into their base and slaughtering people. Upon being given a gun and told to fight off fellow humans Maya proceeds to hide under her desk and hug her stuffed rabbit pillow for dear life while everyone else fights. She later graduates from this to completely snapping and turning into a bubbering shrieking mess as she watches Asuka get torn apart, and Lillith Rei appears moving right through her, and she watches her fellow staff melt into orange liquid all around her. She finally only clams down when Ritsuko appears, except it's just Lillith Rei messing with her head, who promptly melts her as well.
Both Rue and Fakir have this as part of their backstories in Princess Tutu. In a flashback, we see Fakir as a cheerful, imaginative child — in stark contrast to his Ineffectual Loner personality in the main part of the story. It's revealed that a mixture of his parent's deaths because of his powers and stress over feeling responsible for Mytho's safety slowly wore on him until he became the Jerk Ass we see at the beginning of the story. Rue, herself, is shown as being sweet and caring as a child, but snobby and harsh when she's older (to the point where she insists on being called Rue-sama/Lady Rue). Her personality change is revealed to be the result of constant emotional abuse from her father, the Raven. It only gets worse in the second season, when Mytho begins to physically abuse her and manipulate her.
Mytho himself! He was first just an adorable Cloud Cuckoolander, later after having a piece of his heart soaked in raven's blood he becomes quite... well, bat shit insane. Not so cute anymore. It takes Rue's Heroic Sacrifice to fix him.
Chiko from The Daughter of Twenty Faces has a rare double Break the Cutie. In the two-part Wham Episode early on, Chiko makes friends with a local girl whose dad is head of security at the local museum. The girl has a major crush on Chiko's disguise as a member of a circus, and invites her over, allowing Chiko to discover many weaknesses in the security. And turns them over to her thief comrades, who steal the major artifact from the museum... breaking the girl in the process. In part 2, the girl falls in line with some thieves gunning for Chiko's comrades, and the resulting carnage and death of the girl fighting Chiko breaks her as well.
Cream gets one of these in Sonic X after the robot Emerl whom she rescued and made friends with goes crazy under the power of green rocks, tries to attack her mother and then beats up Sonic, who got in the way while Cream was trying to reason with him and he went for her instead. A distraught Cream then has to destroy Emerl herself. Being who she is, however, she gets over it, to an extent.
Cosmo can be considered this as well, except that she was damn well broken to begin with, what with having her entire home and family destroyed right in front of her, crash landing on another planet being used as an unwitting spy by the enemy she was trying to fight against and ending up stuck in a situation which meant she either lost her sight and hearing or the bad guys kept watching... The bad guys turned out to actually be her species with their leader quite possibly being her father, and having the worst case of survivor's guilt ever encountered in a series aimed at an under-teen demographic. And has to force her boyfriend to kill her, which counts as a doubleBreak the Cutie between them.
Every likable character from Now and Then, Here and There — but especially Sara, who, after being mistaken for Lala Ru, gets abducted, beaten, and repeatedly raped, eventually committing murder in order to escape into the desert with no supplies, where she ends up buried in a sandstorm. She survives that only to later learn one of the rapes got her pregnant. She eventually chose to keep the child..
When we first meet Bitter Virgin's sixteen-year-old Hinako Aikawa, she had already endured serious sexual abuse from her stepfather. Abuse which her mother refused to acknowledge was happening until it got Hinako pregnant for the second time. Readers saw these events transpire in a flashback that occurred while Hinako was in the process of being raped again by a random molester. Fortunately, that time she was rescued, and the series as a whole focuses on Hinako's recovery from these traumas.
In Vampire Princess Miyu, not only Miyu is an already broken cutie who had her powers awaken when someone came to kill her and she had to bite him to survive, then saw her parents be captured and put in suspended animation when her mom tried to Screw Destiny and not have Miyu become the Shinma Guardian, but she actively seeks out pretty people who have been through extreme suffering and pain in their pasts, so she can offer them a blood contract: they give her their blood, she eases their pain through placing them in a dream-like trance. Unless they still have things to do and people are suffering because of them, like the third OAV shows.
Ken Hidaka from Weiss Kreuz. He starts out as a cheerful, optimistic, naive boy-next-door who, when he's not killing people, spends his spare time teaching small children how to play soccer. Then he kills his best friend, who was screwing him over and had tried to kill him twice, the first time by trying to have Ken burned alive; leaves his first girlfriend Yuriko to keep her safe; sees another childhood friend manipulated to suicide by a woman he saw as a surrogate mother, who he goes on to kill; watches a woman get stabbed protecting him and then bleed to death in his arms; discovers another friend he tries to protect shot to death so, after faking the murders of two of his teammates, shotguns the man who ordered it and enjoys it; then has to kill his second girlfriend when she turns out to be one of his targets as well. And those are just the events that effect him personally. It's also revealed along the way that his mother died when he was five then his father abandoned him, that he spent a period of time homeless, and he contemplated becoming a contract killer simply so he had an excuse to kill people. Unsurprisingly, by Weiss Kreuz Gluhen it's become obvious that Ken hasn't so much been broken as he's violently snapped. Cue the shot from the OVA where he's smiling psychotically as blood spray peppers his face.
Despite this, he gets better; breaking ties with Kritiker and using Omi's connections to have himself voluntarily incarcerated for a while restores him to something like his old self in time to follow Aya west and join Kryptonbrand in Side B.
Gluhen claims another one in short order. Sena Izumi, the idealistic, hotheaded, optimistic addition to Weiss is revealed to have found his sister's dead body, heard the gunshot that killed his father, and then while cowering in a closet had the gun turned on him by their murderer—his mother, who then goes missing. During the Koua mission, he proceeds to get broken even more by losing Nozomi, a friend he'd sworn to protect, to brainwashing-induced suicide—right in front of him, even; Kyou, another member of Weiss whom he had begun to think of as an older brother; be manipulated into killing his uncle; finally find his mother...and then is promptly shot in the chest by her. He dies in Aya's arms after apologizing for being unable to kill her first.
Barefoot Gen seems to be leading towards this for Gen and all of his family, given that they're a family of war protestors in World War II era Japan... specifically, Hiroshima. They're mocked for being traitors, refused food, Gen's father is arrested and beaten, have their field of wheat which is the only hope they had of not starving destroyed, Gen's sister is accused of stealing money and stripped naked, the sweet potatoes they get from some friends in the countryside are taken away when a policeman accuses them of buying them on the black market, and plenty of other constant insults by their neighbors and times when they almost starve to death. Then the atomic bomb goes off. This finally breaks Gen's mother, who has to watch her husband, son, and daughter burn to death in the remains of her house. She does get better, though.
Yukiteru from Mirai Nikki had this happen to him. Originally a more naive pacifist who just wants to get along and save anyone he can, he eventually breaks after his father is revealed to have only come back so he could destroy Yukiteru's Diary to clear his 3 million yen debt (although he doesn't seem to know that doing so will kill Yuki), kills Yukiteru's beloved mother in a moment of extreme stress and desperation, then buys a telescope and tries to "start over" with Yukiteru only to end up getting stabbed to death by men working with the Eleventh. It probably didn't help that Yukiteru had a psycho Stalker with a Crush after him that probably whittled away at his sanity.
Yuno herself qualifies. When we see Yuno in the past, she seems to have been a sweet, optimistic girl, who still believed the best of her parents ("Mama's just sick...") despite their horrific abuse towards her. But sadly the abuse kept going on for the Yuno of the 1st world until she became twisted and locked her own parents in a cage, just to get away from it all for a minute and so they could know what they were putting her through. Unfortunately, they starved and she went completely over the deep-end. When the 3rd world changes and Yuno's parents stop abusing her, she seems to have grown up to be a perfectly normal, nice girl.
Sailor Moon also tends to do this, sometimes slow, other times taking place in one episode, other times being a full-blown Mind Rape. In episodes 45 and 46 of season 1, the inner scouts die, leaving Usagi without her friends before confronting Queen Beryl. Then she is forced to fight her love interest who's been possessed by Metalia's energy, who then dies protecting her so she can fight the Big Bad. Although she wins the last fight and dies, the experience makes her wish things back to the way they were before she was awakened as Sailor Moon. It didn't last.
Chibiusa in the Black Moon arc, or Hotaru, since she was born. No wonder these two are BFFs.
An even stronger Usagi example is during the third season. It's Usagi's birthday, but her boyfriend doesn't remember, so she slaps him and spends a few hours feeling extremely guilty, then realizes she never told him her birthday in the first place. He makes up for it by buying her the glass shoes she wanted... which turn out to be possessed by a Daimohn after her Pure Heart. Worse, judging by the sheer shininess of her Pure Heart, which is pretty damn bright, she might just be the possessor of a talisman. Tuxedo Mask comes to her rescue, but her broach is stolen by Kaolinite so she can't transform, and it's only a matter of time before the Daimon tracks her down. Usagi, Tuxedo Mask, Kaolinite, and the Daimon end up facing off in an under ground parking garage, where Tuxedo Mask is turned into a glass sculpture and Kaolinite gets away with him and her broach. Kaolinite uses the two of them for ransom, and Usagi ends up going to Tokyo Tower and offering her Pure Heart up. It turns out it isn't a talisman and everything's okay in the end - Uranus and Neptune even killed off Kaolinite - but it was sure a hellish day for Usagi. Oh, and to top it off, the glass shoes Mamoru bought her broke.
It gets worse in the manga version of Sailor Moon Sailor Stars. First, Mamoru is killed off by Galaxia in front of Usagi, and Usagi blocks the incident out of her memory. Then the Inner Senshi are murdered in front of her, and the Starlights trigger her memories of Mamoru's death, sending her into a near breakdown. Next, the outer scouts are killed one by one after they return to their bases, Usagi again loses her memory, and the cats and the Starlights are killed. She nearly gets burned to death by one of Galaxia's minions and is forced to watch Princess Kakyuu get impaled by another minion. If poor Usagi hasn't had enough to deal with, it gets even worse when she turns up at Galaxia's base and is forced to fight the reanimated sailor scouts and Mamoru. After having the crap beaten out of her, she manages to get her strength back and kill the evil scouts, only for Galaxia to toss Mamoru off a cliff, which in turn kills Chibiusa as she can't exist if Mamoru is dead. It's a wonder Usagi isn't driven completely insane. Luckily, everyone gets better.
The anime may remove one or two things, but it's still not easy to deal with. First, Galaxia releases Nehelenia, who then sets up a whole world takeover that has her transforming people into empty shells, which includes Mamoru too. Then the scouts are captured one by one and sealed away in mirrors, while Usagi sets out to release Mamoru and face Nehelenia despite having lost a good part of her powers. She then almost is mindwiped, and how she gets released? By seeing Jupiter's rose earring fall to the ground after Jupiter is tortured to near death by Nehelenia and then is captured. When Usagi gets better, she reaches Nehelenia's lair...and since Mamoru is brainwashed and has forgotten abut her and Chibiusa, poor Chibiusa is killed/written out of existence in Usagi's arms. It takes Usagi all of her willpower and then redeeming Nehelenia (another broken cutie in this particular continuity) to fix all of this shit. And then the incident that kills Mamoru happens, but Usagi wasn't there to witness it, thus the poor kid believes that Mamoru is way too busy to contact her in the States. She lives her life as much as she can, hiding her bad feelings as she fights alongside her Seishi and the Starlights, but the truth starts to surface slowly. And soon afterwards, Princess Kakyuu reappears only to die protecting Usagi and the Starlights, then Galaxia invades and kills the Inner Seishi in front of Usagi and the Starlights...only to drop a huge bomb by showing Usagi Mamoru's starseed, the proof that she killed him. And then comes Haruka and Michiru's Fake Defector act where they kill Hotaru and Setsuna in front of Usagi again, then die as they fail to bring down Galaxia. Again, it's a wonder that Usagi isn't driven insane, and that she manages to ultimately get better.
One Piece: Almost every time a Straw Hat pirate member has a flashback. The combination of Oda's skill at drawing cute kids and writing cruel back stories is just plain lethal.
While the Straw Hats do tend to have traumatizing backstories, the only ones who have Break The Cutie moments are Nami, Robin, Zoro, Chopper and Franky. Luffy's trauma just makes him more obstinate than he was, Usopp's backstory has a Break the Cutie moment for his best friend/possible love intrest and not for him, Sanji's back story was more encouragement to his dream than trying to break him, and Brook is more of a The Pollyanna than a Cutie.
Nami has the added bonus of being broken by Arlong again when all her effort to buy back her village is destroyed when the Marines confiscate all her collected money. Her obviously forced smile when she tries to tell the Kokoyashi villagers that she can just get more money just makes it all the more heartbreaking, especially so when she breaks down after they've resolved to take down Arlong, no matter what the end result.
And then there's Vivi, whose Broken Cutie status is built up throughout the whole Alabasta arc, and completely explodes during the climax of the civil war.
Second backstory for Luffy, and it fits right in. More like the entirety of the Impel Down and Marineford arcs in addition to the flashback serve as one huge moment of this.
From the (canonical) Monsters story in One Piece Wanted, Flare breaks down when Cyrano, the guy she viewed as her hero for years, was actually the one who destroyed her hometown and killed her father (And everyone else in the village, directly or not). What made it even worse is that Cyrano was laughing about the whole thing. She tried to hold her tears, but eventually broke down and cried. Really hard.
And a full-blown Break the Cutie process is what made Boa Hancock the huge bitch that we meet. More exactly, she and her sisters Sandersonia and Marigold start out as normal little girls in the Kuja Pirates, then are kidnapped by slave drivers and fall in the hands of the World Nobles. They branded them like cattle, force them to eat Devil Fruits for their own amusement, and torture them and many others nonstop 4 years. When the Boa girls manage to escape thanks to a really badass fish man, the damage is already done, and Hancock has specially become a total bitch.
In Chirin No Suzu a lamb named Chirin starts out as cute, friendly, and happy go lucky until his mother is killed by a wolf, so he seeks revenge but realizes that he's too small and weak to do any damage so he convinces the wolf to make Chirin his apprentice and he goes through Training from Hell until he becomes a deformed ruthless killing machine.
In Full Metal Panic!'s backstory between Sōsuke and Kalinin, you can get a taste of young Sōsuke's Break the Cutie (though most of what you see is the huge contrast and aftermath). Especially noticeable from this to this.
Kimihiro Watanuki from xxxHOLiC starts the story as a cheerful guy prone to humorously spazzing out but very well-adjusted for someone whose parents died when he was a little kid and who sees and attracts monsters that try to eat him. This is mostly played for laughs in the beginning, but gets progressively more serious, until the traumatic revelationsstart to pile up and it turns out that he may not even be real. He deals with several near-death experiences, one of them unconsciously self-induced, having an eye eaten by a monster and losing the mobility of one finger, realizing that he doesn't remember most of his childhood and can't recall his parents names, and experiencing flashes of moments where he sees what his friend's lives would be like if he didn't exist. And then when it seems like things are slowly taking a turn for the better, the straw that finally breaks the camel's back is watching his boss and mentor Yuuko, who'd helped him validate his existence, die before his eyes. Next we see him after the fact his personality's done such a 180 that he's hardly recognizable as the boy we first saw him as. CLAMP really does mass-produce woobies.
In Naruto, the death of Jiraiya, near-death of Hinata, destruction of Konoha, and having the truth of the ninja system quite brutally explained to him almost breaks Naruto. However, thanks to a few well-placed flashbacks, Jiraiya's book, and a pep talk from Iruka, Shikamaru and the Fourth Hokage Naruto recovers just in time.
Actually, if you think about everything that has happened in the series, Naruto kinda qualified as a 'break the cutie' from the outset. First, his father sealed a demon inside him as the only way to save their village, his parents are dead, and he grows up ostracised by the entire village. Then, finally, when things start looking up, his best friend decides to turn on him, cue battling with the power inside him for control, his best friend tries to kill his love interest, tries to destroy his village, and everyone is trying to get him to kill said best friend. And his parents gave their lives to save him when he was a baby, and he was made to house the Kyuubi inside of him, the very same Kyuubi that his mother housed for a time, killed his parents, and tried to kill him. Really not fun.
Happened to Sasuke TWICE. Despite how he is now, in flashbacks he was shown to be a cute, naive kid. Until Itachi murdered their family... and then showed it to him... twice. The second time leading to his Face-Heel Turn.
To be more specific, the first mind rape and the actual massacre occur when he's about seven, and the second time, aged twelve-thirteen, had him forced to watch everyone being slaughtered hundreds of times, over and over, leaving him in a coma that only Tsunade is able to bring him out of. No wonder he freaks out, and then he gets worse and worse.
Another possible candidate is Gaara (hear me out). He was initially a kind-hearted child who just wanted some friends. Then he killed the one person he cared for because they were trying to kill him (on Gaara's dad's orders, no less,) due to the beast within him was something the village would rather forget. we've seen how this turns out...
Possible? Gaara was six years old when he realized that no one loved him. His father hated him for his inability to control Shukaku, his uncle hated him because Gaara's mother, his sister, died in childbirth, everyone else hates him because he's a "monster" ... he himself tries to hurt himself (in the flashback, he's trying to stab himself, and is disappointed when it doesn't work; later, he cries after being called a freak). His uncle tries to murder him — on his father's orders, which he actually questioned — and Gaara kills him in self-defense. He is effectively abandoned by everyone who should have cared. And the result? Sociopath at six, after he realigns his life's philosophy to fit with what he's learned; and serial killer by twelve, after he puts that philosophy into effect. No wonder he latched on to the idea of Shukaku as a "Mother" — the demon was the only thing making any effort to protect him (it was only doing so out of self-interest). When you've been starved for love all your life, anything will do. Even after he reforms (which Naruto brings about by giving him a good heart-to-heart talk about caring for others) and builds a family with his brother and sister, he is still haunted by his past — listen to what he says to Lee after saving him from Kimimaro, or what he says to Matsuri in what was one of the few good scenes in that filler arc. Six years of solid hate and horror? I'd call that broken. Made all the more meaningful by him actually getting much better in the current arc. Specially now that he can call out his old man on all the shit he did to him, leading the Kazekage to acknowledge said shit and telling him that Shukaku's sand was sorta directed by his mom's spirit, and that said uncle who attempted to kill him only did it on orders from his father. In reality, Yashamaru never hated Gaara-the guy he actually hated was the Fourth Kazekage himself.
One other example is Nagato/Pain. He was a cute kid that Jiraiya trained and was so cute that he cried when he had to kill someone to save his friend's life. Then we found out about his childhood. He watched his parents get killed because they were trying to protect him from ninjas from Konoha (though it was mainly a case of mistaken identity), bonds with a dog and makes friends. He subsequently loses the dog when an explosive kunai blows it up as collateral damage from Konoha ninjas fighting some guy. Years later he loses his best friend because a Konoha ninja Danzo set him up to die. Not surpisingly, Nagato isn't too fond of Konoha.
Okay, now analyze Nagato, Sasuke and Naruto's situations: All of them had their lives destroyed for/by the Leaf Village one way or the other. So why is Konoha the heroes, since they're TRAINED to Break Cuties!
Because it's Madara's Fault
and The Uchiha wouldn't negotiate
Killing Nagato's parents was an accident, they even apologized too]]
Sasuke's defection, then Naruto failed to bring him back.
Then Naruto went 4 tails against Orochimaru and Kabuto makes her realize it's at least partially because she made him promise to get Sasuke back and he agreed that he would, and he's still trying to do that no matter what
They find Sasuke but he leaves with Orochimaru and Kabuto
Danzou gives permission to have Sasuke whacked
Sai (of all people) get her to realize Naruto's feelings for her, and everything Naruto is going through: the burden of expectations she and the village pile on Naruto, and especially the suffering he's going through because of both her and Sasuke. Then Naruto also calls her out in her "love confession"
And then, she tries to kill Sasuke herself and fails, since she just can't go and kill one of her dearest friends no matter how far gone he is.
And then Sasuke tries to kill her. If the girl doesn't end up as a Broken Bird, it'll be a miracle.
Also Kakashi, who was entered into the world of shinobi at the ripe old age of five and became a chuunin at six. Even with someone like Minato as his teacher, he must have seen some pretty bad stuff. And that was before his father committed suicide in front of him. Jeez, so much for a happy childhood!
Haku watches his Mother get killed by his Father and then kills his Father. Now an orphan he's forced to live on the streets fighting off wild dogs for food. Ends his life as Zabuza's weapon.
Itachi of all people. He witnessed the horrors of war at just four years old, then grew up to dedicate his life to peace. Unfortunately, the Uchihas decided to attempt a coup (for offenses that don't even seem to really exist) and his parents made it clear they saw him as a weapon and not a son by forcing him to spy on the village. He then became a double agent and put his faith in the Third Hokage to solve the issue through negotiations, but due to Danzo's interference and the Uchiha's stubbornness, this fell through. His best friend tried to use mind control to stop the coup, but was overpowered by Danzo and shortly thereafter committed suicide in front of Itachi so he'd be strong enough to stop the coup. Stopping the coup, unfortunately, entailed killing his friends, family, and lover, tormenting his beloved little brother and abandoning the village to lead the life of a wanted, hated fugitive at the age of thirteen. He then spends his time spying on Akatsuki for Konoha while waiting for said beloved brother to kill him and "avenge" the clan. Did I mention that he was battling a terminal illness too? And he still managed to die witha smileon his face.
Black Lagoon is either in love with this trope or owes it money.
Revy is heavily implied to have been broken at some point in her past. Confirmed when we learn that THE breaking event was being tortured and raped by a policeman when she was a Street Urchin.
The entire Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise arc is this for Yukio AND Ginji.
Believe it or not, Balalaika used to be an idealistic little girl whose only goal in life was to regain her family's honor by competing in the Olympics. You had better bet that she got hit hard by this trope in order to make her into whatsheistoday.
Garcia in the El Baile De La Muerte arc. It started the minute he stepped foot in Roanapur and just kept getting worse.
Don't even get started on Hitomi, and for that matter, most of the whole damn cast.
Tomoya Okazaki from CLANNAD becomes The Woobie because of this. I mean, first his wife dies, then his daughter dies, and they were the only reasons he wanted to continue living. Then he dies alongside his own daughter. They all got better.
EVERY NAMED PERSON.
In MPD Psycho, a Serial Killer kidnaps the girlfriend of the lead detective investigating his case, mutilates her, rapes her repeatedly (in that order), then delivers her — limbless but still alive — directly to the detective's office.
Alien Nine takes glee in doing horrible things to the cute girls who make up the cast, from mind rape to complete memory erasure to being eaten alive.
Mikuru Asahina from the Haruhi Suzumiya series can be viewed as a work in progress for this trope. Haruhi has no hesitation in abusing her both consciously (like having another student grope her and photo it for blackmail) and unconsciously (like giving her eyebeam powers which requires Nagato to bite her in order to inject counter-nanobots). Arguably future Asahina seems well adjusted, but since Haruhi can alter the timestream that's not a guarantee. You have to worry for someone when they ask "will you still marry me, if I'm unable to" after a session with Haruhi.
Haruhi and Yuki gets the treatment too. Let's start with Yuki.
Yuki lives through over 15,000 (15,498 in the novels, 15,513 in the anime) repetitions of the same 2 weeks without aging, remembering everything to do with it. And she can't do a single thing because her job is to observe. By the end of it, Kyon notices that The Stoic, turned Up to Eleven is now openly showing her sadness. No wonder. She lived for nearly 600 years without aging a single bit.
Haruhi is closer to a Broken Bird than a Broken Cutie. She learns, rather painfully, that she isn't all that special, and in her quest to make her life special, goes on the hunt for aliens, time travellers and ESPers after some inspiration from Kyon. This leads to her general sociopathy, and her obsession with cosplaying Mikuru. A good part of the plot is her learning how to be a good person again, as noted by Kyon.
Negi of Mahou Sensei Negima!: his hometown gets destroyed by demons at age four or so, and at age ten he ends not only with the responsibility of protecting his students after they get Trapped in Another World (and sold into slavery, get amnesia, and framed for terrorism), but he discovers that his mother was framed for genocide, and the people who did it are trying to kill him. And then there's the whole "having to prevent the magic world from collapsing" thing... Fortunately, all the crap that happens to him only drives him to become stronger.
Also Ako. She starts as a doormat with major self-esteem issues, then accidentally gets trapped in the magic world, where she gets a disease, forcing her and two of her friends to sell themselves into slavery to pay for the cure. To top it off, she then falls in love with someone who turns out to be Negi's aged up alter ego and thus not even really exists.
And Asuna as well who gets so broken, her memory is blocked so she can have a chance at a normal life.
Then has the block removed later to cause a Heroic BSOD, then after being sealed for 130 years, gets shattered TOTALLY on seeing everyone she knew dead.
D.Gray-Man has a really nasty example of this in a flashback: Kanda's childhood friend Alma Karma. Despite a horrible life as a test subject for the Black Order, Alma was a Cheerful Child and the optimist to Kanda's cynical Jerkass. But after he got fried by the Crow while trying to save Kanda and only lived because he managed to synchronize with Innocence, he decided that the world was such a horrible place that it was doing everyone a favor to kill them. Which he attempted. Enthusiastically. When Kanda finally found him, he was standing in the midst of dozens of corpses, drenched in blood and smiling serenely, with another corpse still impaled on his "razor wing" Innocence. And he'd been trying to kill himself, too; his Healing Factor just kept closing it up.
Which is just the worst example of them. It seems you have to be really fucked up so Innocence accepts you. And if you aren't - you'll be. Examples?
Lenalee Lee. Parents killed by akuma. Abducted from the home she shared with her older brother after she was found out being a innocence host. Tortured, losing mind, possibly even driven to attempted suicide (specuialted by fandom, but still) - and all this before she was 13. She got better after her aforementioned older brother joined the Order itself to live with her. Just to have serious breakdowns whenever one of her True Companions dies (which for her is like her world falling apart). Good for her she's also a Plucky Girl, leading to her being an Action Girl. Then again this habit, altogether with her True Companions thing leads her to be a Stepford Smiler who has to admit how broken she is to become a better person. She still suffers trauma from her early years in the Order.
Miranda Lotto. Especially when she is forced to release the activation of her innocence, knowing that the people she kept alive with this and who protected her will ultimately die.. And her backstory was not nice either, conidering how she was shunned all of her life in her home due to her clumsiness and bad luck, to the point that she took broken dolls and fixed them in an attempt to not feel lonely.
The plot tries to do this on Allen Walker frequently. Up til now it did not succeed completely. He has some serious cracks now but is not completely broken, due to his status as Iron Woobie. (think of it. Parents abandoned him. Lived as an orphan til someone adopted him. That man got killed. Resurrection (triggered by a fat guy with silly top hat) utterly failed. Next person who took care of him... left a trauma that's usually played for laughs but still leaves a bad taste in your mouth if you think of it... He wants to save the souls of people who got tricked by the same fat guy that tricked him. Just to realize that somewhere along the way he probably is going to kill some humans too. No matter how bad they are. And THEN, just to sweeten the pot he learns that he's obsessed with one of those Big Bad guys, that this guy will eventually erase him, that same guy was the brother of his foster father, said one was nuts already when he adopted Allen and probably never loved Allen but his brother (not that it influenced him being a good caretaker, as it seemed... or Allen's love for said foster father. Woobie indeed.) - and just now he's in prison, damocles' sword of execution or some other Fate Worse than Death above his head... and as it seems this is not the end of it. Really now, if things continue this will he'll efinitely fall into the trope.
Hellsing: Seras, who seems a cheerful and upbeat girl for most of the manga, has a rather dark and disturbing backstory, which seems to have happened when she was very young. It consists of her father being murdered by burglars, her mother hiding her in a cupboard to protect her, and her mother's subsequent murder by the same burglars. Seras tries to exact revenge by stabbing one of the guys in the eye with a fork. She gets shot for her trouble and one of the perpetrators proceed to rape her mother's corpse, due to it being "still warm". In full view of Seras who lies on the ground bleeding profusely watching it happen and unable to do anything to stop it.
The seventh OVA is specifically dedicated to having Zorin Blitz do this to Seras as well. She delves deep into Seras' memories, forcing her to relive her painful childhood. While Seras is trapped in the illusion and crying profusely, Zorin hacks off her arm, stabs her through the back, and slices her eyes. Pip and his two remaining squad members arrive and manage to temporarily disable Zorin before she can kill Seras by shooting her multiple times. Pip tries to escape with the badly wounded Seras, but Zorin stabs him through the back. He kisses Seras in his agony, then tells her to bite him before he dies. Tearfully, she does so, healing most of her wounds. Seras then goes into Roaring Rampage of Revenge mode and utterly destroys Zorin's forces and Zorin herself.
Integra didn’t have it easy, either. She used to be a shy girl; then, her father died when she was twelve, leaving her the leader of Hellsing and a member of the Royal Order of Protestant Knights. Almost immediately after his death, her remaining blood relative, Richard, tried to murder her. Escaping through the air vent and fleeing for her life, she stumbled upon Alucard out of pure luck. If Richard hadn't shot her in the shoulder first, Alucard would not have awakened in time to slaughter the two henchmen and block the bullet for Integra. She then shot and killed Richard, effectively losing the last of her family on the same day.
Further attempts of breakdowns consist of the attack to her mansion by the Valentine brothers that forced her to shoot down all her troops that had been turned into ghouls, what happened later on in London (she witnessed how it was destroyed to the ground and was the only real survivor of the attack), the deaths of Penwood and Walter (coupled with his betrayal), and Alucard’s disappearance.
Neither had it as bad as Alucard himself… with his captivity and rape as a child. Quite honestly, he was a goddamn saint for Christendom throughout his entire life and was very repeteadly screwed over. He might have very questionable hobbies, but was very mucha warrior of Christ. And the manga makes his position very, very clear in the scene of his human form's death, with him kneeling to lap at the blood of his homeland. The man, the most devout of the knights of God, stripped of everything that ever meant anything to him and left to see as the enemies of his faith are left to ravage his beloved homeland. And today, readers would bet every single one of you, reading this article, has only known Vlad III of Wallachia as Dracula. A monster.
The entire Texhnolyze anime seems to be designed to do just this to main character Ichise up until he dies in the last episode.
Ashita no Nadja: Colette was very broken at some point. As a rich noblewoman who fell for her piano teacher, they eloped and lived a simple but happy life together in Paris. Then her hubby died in an accident. Then she had to support herself and her baby daughter alone as a seamstress, which was harsh but not unlivable until they both fell very sick. And then she was tricked by the envoys of her rich family into believing that he daughter perished of said illness, thus making her return to her clan. She gets somewhat better, but never forgets her former life.
And later? Said daughter, the main character Nadja, also lives a simple but happy life as an orphan girl and then a dancer. Then finds herself in a love triangle with two very troubled young men who are also twins - one is a cynical but goodhearted Gentleman Thief, the other is a softspoken but very troubled Sheltered Aristocrat. And then she puts pieces of her past together and gets closer to her mother... but then, her former best friend who has snapped on her due to a huge misunderstanding and her Evil Uncle plot against her. And holy shit, Nadja gets more and more broken since then.
In Angel Beats! Yuri had her siblings killed in front of her by robbers when she was a kid. The worst part is that it was Yuri's "fault" that they died because she couldn't find money in the house to give to the robbers. They probably would've killed them all regardless, but that doesn't really help Yuri's feelings of guilt.
Iwasawa had an abusive Dad and generally a broken household. She found her savior in music, but that was taken away from her when her Dad hit her causing her to lose her voice first, then die.
Angel has a lesser example but Her rank as Student Council President was taken away, the teachers and students have lost all respect for her, and her comfort food was taken away from her all because of the SSS's actions. It's also sad when you realize that Angel probably is a human like the rest of SSS and was just trying to fulfill her duties as Student Council President. Her reputation and life in the after world is ruined because she was trying to play by the rules. (And in the end, it turns out that yes, she is.
Otonashi has a bit of one with Angel, or better said Kanade Tachibana, at the near the end of the series, reveals her desire to thank him for the gift of his heart during her life (which was the only thing keeping her there) fulfilled. She manages to say her thanks... and then she disappears in his arms.
Kaze to Ki no Uta: Gilbert (although he was already pretty broken to begin with). Serge too, but to a lesser extent, but Serge tends to be more resilient.
Peacemaker Kurogane: Suzu goes insane after he thinks that Tetsunosuke (his only friend) killed his master Yoshida (whom he admired and was the only person who cared for him). He was taken in by a Depraved Homosexual old man from off the streets when he was alone and starving and subsequently raped.
Black Butler's Ciel Phantomhive is already broken and toughened up by the time we see him. In flashbacks he appears to be a very happy, cheerful, and loving little boy who has a close relationship with his family. Then things go horribly wrong. After his parents, house staff, and dog are killed, his home is set on fire to destroy any evidence and Ciel is kidnapped. Flashbacks show him in a cage with other children his age and cultists around them who apparently used the children kidnapped as sacrifices. Ciel witnessed these sacrifices and when it was his turn he accidentally summoned a demon in his desperation. Three years later he is the successful owner of a toy and confectionaries company, but also very bitter, jaded, and cold.
The anime's second season did something of the sort to Alois Trancy. In episodes 7 and 8, Alois, who before seemed like a complete jackass, is stabbed and ignored by Claude for a bit who's busy practically orgasming over the taste of Ciel's blood. Alois's tearful response "Oh, you look like you've seen a bunch of maggots squirming in a dung pile," to Claude's indifference towards him is heartbreaking; then we learn his backstory, where his little brother died and left him alone and he was made to become a sex slave to a perverted old man, and he later practically confesses his love for Claude, telling him he's the only one he has left in the world, before Claude tenderly holds his face and then crushes his head in.
There's a few other characters too, such as Freckles/Doll from the circus arc.
Elizabeth in chapter 57.
Court Intrigue, a Sailor Moon RPG set in the 30th Century, has a race of aliens called the Argenians who have their planet destroyed. Among the survivors are 8-year-old Mirek and 9-year-old Keiki. The former becomes a mute and latter starts to act out because the events are so upsetting.
Oh yes, did I mention that Neo Queen Serenity, King Endymion, Sailor Venus, Sailor Mars, and Artemis all get killed and they don't get better? You can imagine what this does to (Chibi) Usagi and Diana.
Rozen Maiden: Suigintou in Overature. She starts out a very friendly doll despite the fact that her father abandoned her (incomplete) and she's been crawling through N-Fields to find him. She happens to find Shinku, who takes her in and acts as if she cares. However, once Sugintou is killed the first time by Souseseki, Shinku reveals that Sugintou is not a complete doll, and looks on coldly as Sugintou begs Shinku to save her. Shinku refers to her as junk several times. Sugintou comes back, because Rozen decided to quit being a Jerkass, and tries to grab Shinku's Roza Mystica.
Jun's backstory about why he became a hikikomori is also this. Put simply: having a non-masculine hobby (sewing in this case) would make one a social pariah and eventually cause severe self-image issues. He's an unstable mess of self-hatred by the time the dolls came into his life that Nori needs to look after him.
Crona of Soul Eater has his/her past shown when his/her mother Medusa tortured Crona by placing him/her into a dark room and constantly getting beat on by an evil monster living in his/her body. Eventually, Crona went completely insane and began easily killing things, eventually years down the line begins viciously taking out members of the main cast with sadistic ease and violent moves, justifying her/himself with "but she (Medusa) said it was okay". Shortly after being defeated however, Death allows Crona to join the DWMA and Maka becomes his/her best friend. From that point on, Crona becomes more of a woobie and plays for comedic laughs at Crona's immense emo-ness and the fact that he/she's always hiding behind Maka like a frightened 4 year old.
The anime has Crona ending up somewhat less broken by the end, following a confrontation with Medusa. Alas, in the manga it gets worse, with Medusa's Mind Control wiping out all the good Maka and co attempted.
Macross Frontier smacks SherylNome with this one. Hard. Along withBreak the Haughty. She ends up getting most of the example bad things: Her manager/best friend/practical foster mother turns out to be the Big Bad and takes an openly sadistic pleasure in verbally beating Sheryl down and telling her that she is going to die, because Grace infected her with a V-type infection ten years ago in an extremely painful medical procedure that was supposed to help her, which turns out to now be in the very late stages, making it incurably terminal with Sheryl's remaining lifespan measured in weeks. Faced with all this, she is finally confronted with the notion that she may not even be remembered, as her former interstellar stardom is suddenly forgotten in favor of Ranka's, and she roams the streets without disguise completely ignored. And it's raining at the time. She finally breaks down into a sobbing wreck when she finds one of her concert posters discarded on the sidewalk and left in the rain like common trash. When she recovers, she becomes a better person overall.
Mima Kirigoe from Perfect Blue starts off as a typical Idol Singer, with the usual cherry personality and cheesy themes, but in real life she comes across as a genuinely sweet, sympathetic, attractive woman. Then the trouble hits. By the end of the movie she's deranged, a murderer (depending on your interpretation), and suffering from severe identity crisis.
Masomi Kida from Durarara!! goes through hell and back through the third arc of the series. Seemingly happy and go lucky, he was broken before the series started. Let's start that he had uncaring parents (or at least hinted), so he started a gang known as Yellow Scarves because of his insecurities of wanting to be someone in life. Then his life went to hell when he met both his girlfriend Saki Mikajima and the informant Izaya Orihara. While he got to know them both, fights were breaking out more with the rival gang Blue Squares. It got to the point where Masomi needed to ask Izaya for help in order to defeat the rival gang. And then hell strikes and Saki is kidnapped by their leader and have her legs broken. The person that he started to trust ends up not responding to the phone calls and in a panic, Masomi tries to save Saki...only to freeze up. While Saki is saved by Kadota and his gang after they quit Blue Squares, Izaya then accuses Masomi for letting Saki get hurt. He then tells him that he'll have to live with the guilt forever. Cue the series starts and he invites his friend Mikado over to Ikebukuro so he could save him but by the time that his other friend Anri is injured by the Slashers who is hinted to be part of the Dollars, he's forced to rejoin his gang and then is thrown back into the hell by relying on Izaya again and having him reveal that the leader of Dollars is his best friend and then later getting bitchslapped by Anri after he accuses her of "sucking up" to Mikado. What finally sends him over the edge is jerkass Horoda telling him he's out of the group because he was hiding information from them about Dollars and declared that they would kill his best friend. Finally, he tries to kill Horoda to make up for what happened to Saki but almost dies in the process. Luckily, Mikado and Anri appear to save his ass. By the end of the anime series, he seems recovered... but in recent novel chapters, he's going back to hell after finding out that Mikado is going throughthe same thingbut is taking it a different way. This kid needs a hug and therapy.
What no mention of Anri? The fact that she was abused by her own father, and seeing her own mother Sayaka kill him and committing suicide at the same time using Saika, resulting in her without a heart and being Saika's new owner, must've been hard for her. It's hard not to feel sympathy for her.
Mikado as well. He starts off as this adorably idealistic boy, just moved to a new city, all excited about making new friends and watching the growth of his ideal group, the Dollars. But then his best friend leaves, the girl he likes might be a psycho but they don't talk about it, and the Dollars starts filling up with low-level gangsters who just use the name. He's manipulated and used by Izaya and Aoba, to the point that his dark side pops up and he stabs his kouhai with a pen.
However, this might be a subversion as Aoba points out that Mikado had this dark personality from the very beginning and if that's the case, his whole idealistic nature might as well be a facade for hiding the darkness in his heart. Though in a sense, it could potentially be worse: how broken you have to be to do that, huh?
Blue from Pokémon Special just barely averts this, which is a refreshing change, given that she has every right to wangst. Being kidnapped by a frickin' giant flaming bird at the age of five will do things to you. She managed to stay reasonably upbeat as she spent a lot of time carefully planning to take down the Big Bad responsible for all her misery. (Admittedly, there are a few cracks now and then, especially when confronted with the crippling fear of birds that he had instilled in her.) After spending most of her time getting over everything (doing so in almost complete solitude), she finally found her parents and headed off for a joyous reunion... only for them to vanish right before her eyes. Ouch.Angst Coma was immediate, though she did wake up quickly enough to keep fighting.
White gets hit hard as N reveals to her that her star Tepig actress may have never shared her dreams alongside of her. When White tries to jump out of the Ferris Wheel car that she is currently stuck inside, Gigi decides to stay with N. The shock makes her slip out and fall, and she ends up on the ground, barely conscious, with her eyes full of tears.
Black doesn't get it much better, as N proves to Black all of his Pokemon don't want to fight N's team, and know they will lose. N then follows this up by showing Black that Musha only went with Black to eat his dreams, and now that Black's dreams don't appeal to him anymore, Musha bails on him. He hits a Heroic BSOD almost as bad as White's, and apparently a week later, he's still in a funk about it.
The title character from Kimba the White Lion also had it pretty rough. Before he even was born, his father was shot by hunters, while his still pregnant mother was put on a boat to become a zoo animal. After several weeks Kimba was born, a storm was coming right towards the boat, so his mother forced him to leave her behind while she drowns in her cage. Not the smoothest way to start out a series.
Kohaku from Inuyasha. His village was destroyed, he was possessed and forced to attack his companions, wounding his sister Sango almost fatally and murdering his father and friends, and then got killed. He was revived and brainwashed by Naraku (the one responsible of all of the above) to be used against his sister and her new friends and to help in his plots by slaughtering a lot of innocent people. When he finally regained his memories, two of his "protectors" were killed (Kagura and Kikyo), he can't stand being near his sister because of the guilt and he thinks the only way to atone is to die killing Naraku. If that wasn't enough, he was later forced to relive the day he killed his father and friends over and over again for days. He used to be a shy, gentle and happy 11 year-old boy.
Also said older sister Sango. The poor girl is as plucky as she can be after witnessing how poor Kohaku was Brainwashed and Crazy into killing their dad and almost killing her, but seeing Kohaku lose his memories upon all of this shit and not being able to remember her because it'd mean he'd also remember killing their dad and friends... it often ends up breaking her into tears. It's not helped by how her Chivalrous Pervert love interest, Miroku, is getting closer and closer to fall victim to Power Incontinence.
In Ai Yori Aoshi, we're introduced to Kaoru Hanabishi post-breaking. In the period of the first chapters / episodes, he's partly recovered, but distant and lonely. Then Aoi shows up, and the process of reconstruction begins. As for the breaking part, we see through flashbacks that he was subjected to Torture Technician-as-guardian: he lost both his parents, had most of the few keepsakes he had left destroyed, was beaten to the point of horrible scarring by said guardian, and never again saw the cute girl he used to play with. Then he struck out on his own to work as a menial and go to school, in the hopes of making it on his own. Only the efforts of Tina, and later Aoi and the rest of the True Companions, were able to help him be a whole person.
Cutie-breaking is how the Incubators make a living. And the universe's (loooong story). That's why the title character is now the trope image.
In Axis Powers Hetalia. Russia was already under Tatar's rule which, according to Hungary and Lithuania's pity for him, is a bad situation to be in. But Russia's most noticeable Freak Out takes place during the BloodySunday strip. Russia is doing his best to try and make the people in his country happy, but they aren't satisfied. In this particular strip, the people are protesting, and demanding freedom and higher wages. Russia can take no more of the people blaming him for everything, but manages to endure it. However, when the Romanovs are killed, he horribly snaps.
The revolutionary war also counts as one for England. While not so much cute, he seemed genuinely happy with America, and then America left, making it clear that he wanted freedom rather than being with England, and unintentionally broke him in the process. Most fans couldn't help but feel bad for England when he, the Great British Empire who had seen through countless wars and battles before, threw away his gun and started sobbing as America said that he "used to be so big"...
No. 6: Sion in the Correctional facility during episode 10.
Nanako Misonoo from Oniisama e.... Mariko, Rei, and Nanako's classmate Junko, too, although Mariko and Rei were already broken to begin with. And Rei herself is so broken that she commits suicide in the manga. (In the anime she dies too, but it's an accident. One that happens when her life was starting to get better.)
And Claudine (another Ikeda work) features Claudine, who ends up committing suicide, Rosemarie and Maura as well.
The whole world of Mawaru-Penguindrum seems to bend over to break the three Takakura siblings as well as their friend Ringo Oginome. And this is not counting how Yuri and Tabuki were broken in their own pasts.
Practically the whole cast of Fruits Basket. If there's a Cutie, the Cutie either is broken or will be shortly.
Tohru, whose father died when she was 3 and whose mother died when she was 16. Her whole family hates her except for her grandfather.
Kyo, who's rejected by everyone for being the Cat of the Zodiac. And he blames himself for the deaths of his mother and Kyoko Honda.
Yuki, who was psychologically abused by Akito while his family completely ignored his pleas for help.
Momiji, whose mother rejected him for being a member of the Zodiac and now doesn't remember him.
Hatori, who had to erase the memories of the woman he loved and break off all contact with her.
Hanajima, whose sixth sense resulted in her almost killing a boy in sixth grade and hearing everybody's thoughts until well into her teens, when she finally learned to control it.
Kisa, who was bullied so much she stopped speaking.
Isuzu, whose parents pretended to love her and then started abusing her when she found out. And that's not counting what Akito did to her...
Akitoherself, since her mother hated her ever from before she was born for utterly petty reasons, and ever since her kind father died was driven by her mother to hate, abuse, and break everyone in her surroundings.
Get the picture?
Afterschool Charisma is not kind to its main character, Shiro. Not only does he have to deal with the only non-clone in a school of clones, but then he discovers that he might be a clone after all, and then Joan dies despite all of her efforts to Screw Destiny. Hitler doesn't take that last one very well either, especially considering that just beforehand he learns that Rasputin and Einstein made up the whole "Almighty Dolly" thing as an experiment. More troubling, the formerly shy and kind boy is beginning to show signs of becoming like his original.
The entire main cast of Cyborg 009, to one or another degree... those poor souls.
And not only the main cast is broken. Cases in point: Cynthia Finder, Cyborg 0012, Cyborg 0013, Lina and Phil from the Psychic Assassins, and especially the Pu'Awak sisters
Takaya "D-Boy" Aiba from Tekkaman Blade, if you pay an attention to his Flashbacks, you will wonder how much the universe has tortured such a cheerful child into such a Jerk with a Heart of Gold. It's implied that D-Boy is a really Nice Guy before the plot starts, which is to say really surprising(the D stands for DANGEROUS)
Also, his sister Miyuki. So broken that she ends up dead.
And rather surprisingly, some alternate materials show that Shinya Aiba aka Tekkaman Evil was this in the past.
Happens to Youji in Loveless during his confrontation with Seimei (though Natsuo helps him through it), and Soubi almost directy after (though he was pretty broken to begin with). Also Ritsuka, when he realizes quite how far Seimei is from the person he Ritsuka thought he was. Nana has a relatively minor one when she realizes it was the flaws in her security system that let Nisei and Seimei into the academy. Everyone in Loveless was either already broken, gets broken during the series, or will eventually; it is a Crapsack World afterall.
Chirin from Chirin No Suzu is a spunky young lamb for the first few minutes of the film. He eventually loses his happy-go-lucky spirit after his mother is killed by a wolf, and goes on a revenge quest.
Episode 9 of Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is this for Eucliwood Hellscythe when her previous zombie servant returns and outright gives her a Breaking Speech about how her powers could potentially put in danger anyone close to her if she loses control of emotions. When she witnesses firsthand what she's capable of, she distances herself from Ayumu and the others in order to protect them from herself.
Ritsu in his backstory is full of this. He was an All-Loving Hero in his high school days but miscommunication with his boyfriend Takano caused him to have a freak out and leave Japan to study aboard. The series introduces him as a jaded individual who does not believe in love. To make matters worse, his self-esteem was hit before transferring to the manga industry when he hears that the people he worked with in the literature industry are jealous of his success and claim that he's only getting the top authors because of connections and not because he worked hard at his job. Combine this with Takano's friend Yokozawa constantly telling him to leave the manga industry and stop playing with Takano's heart, it's no wonder he doesn't break down as much as the other characters would.
When more of his backstory is revealed, this trope really stands out. Ritsu was basically a Love Martyr, and Takano initially only got into a relationship with him in order to hurt him. Then while Ritsu does everything in his power to be a good boyfriend to Takano, out of the blue (to Ritsu at least) Takano gives him a Reason You Suck Speech about how annoying and disgusting he is. Despite this, Ritsu continues to stand by Takano up to their breakup. The fact that Takano comes to love him for real seems lost because of their continued miscommunication.
Chiaki has it worse in the current timeline. He's your typical idiot protagonist that is oblivious to love. However, given his arc is a deconstruction of the love triangle, Chiaki ends up brutally raped by his best friend Hatori who thought Yanase was going to win him over and took action. The worse part unlike most yaoi series, Chiaki is seriously hurt physically, mentally and emotionally screaming the entire time he's raped for Hatori to stop. Naturally, this scene was toned down in the anime with just a kiss but the implications are still there. Alas, Chiaki ends up forgiving Hatori who ends up being a Karma Houdini as a result and Chiaki ends up becoming more of an asshole with each episode as evident with his relationship with Yanase being strained.
Even Yanase goes through this, and it might be more serious than what the series implies. For one thing, he's been in love with Chiaki since middle school. Yanase has then dedicated himself to his friend and constantly turns down jobs that are more worth his skill and better pay because he loves Chiaki too much to leave his side as an editor. He doesn't seem to realize that Hatori beat him to the punch by raping his best friend, but regardless still hates him for being an obstacle, but by trying to be the Nice Guy, he ends up losing Chiaki to him. And it gets worse. When Chiaki and Hatori start dating, his relationship with Chiaki starts getting strained due to the trauma Chiaki faced and Hatori constantly harassing Chiaki to stay away from him. It gets to the point where he ends up directly in the middle of their fight and has his heart strings pulled over and over again. Given that Yanase hates people lying to him, he flips out in episode 15 when he calls Chiaki out on his actions for lying to his best friend about a family issue Chiaki supposedly had on his birthday when in actuality, he went to go see Hatori and apologize for their fight (and Yanase even mentions that Chiaki could have just seen him the next day and apologize) leaving Yanase drunk at a hot spring that he planned for them both. Even when Yanase confesses in the heart of the moment, Chiaki refuses to take his love seriously and by episode 16, Yanase finally breaks down crying when Chiaki punches him and rejects him a third time. And Hatori makes it worse by harassing Yanase on the phone, and then barging into his own house and trying to beat the shit out of him. The episode implies that Yanase had a full blown Heroic BSOD and that after Yanase uses the last of his strength to kick them both out, he breaks down crying. This makes his whole Break the Cutie a huge Tear Jerker and slams Chiaki and Hatori into the scrap heap. The worse part? This is the conclusion of the Domestica pairing in the anime so we don't know what happens to them afterwards.
While being rejected by Chiaki was a definite Break the Cutie moment, Yanase is far from being a Woobie. He was fully aware that Chiaki and Hatori had started dating, but since the two kept it a secret Yanase decided to ignore their relationship and still pursue Chiaki. This fake ignorance allowed him to try and repeatedly sabotage their relationship, including coming on to Chiaki in front of Hatori on the pretext that he was being friendly. Realizing that Chiaki wasn't going to ever love him that way broke Yanase, but the heartache is cheapened somewhat by the way he kept manipulating Chiaki.
Ritsuka Aoyagi from Loveless counts as one of these. First off, he's constantly suffering abuse at the hands of his mentally-ill mother Misaki because of his personality change after he lost all of his memories; because of this, he believes he isn't even the real Ritsuka and lives in fear that someday he'll disappear (he even needs therapy to try and recover his lost memories). Then he discovers the burned up body of his brother, the one who protected him from his mother, in his classroom. He had no friends and didn't really believe in love because of the trauma he experienced. After this, the only people who show him any kind of love are pedos and Yuiko. He's told that his real name is Loveless, which means "one without love". Plus the villains keep showing up trying to capture or kill him, and because he's the Sacrifice while Soubi's the Fighter, Ritsuka has to take all the damage whenever they fight. Plus when Seimei finally comes back. Turn's out that he only faked his death... and he also murdered people, caused so much suffering for his little brother, even going as far as to try and convince Misaki to kill him. And all this is just because he's insecure and wants to "test" Ritsuka's love for him. It's even implied that he sexually abused Ritsuka when they were younger! And through all this, Ritsuka remains a forgiving pacifist who just wants to be loved.
The first part of Tenkuu Senki Shurato seems to be made with the intention of breaking one Shurato Hidaka. Not only his best friend from childhood, Gai, becomes his worst enemy and he's falsely accused of a hideous crime he didn't commit while in a strange land, but he doesn't take the deaths of three Anti Villains ( with the bonus of meeting the older sister of one of said Anti villains and witnessing how the deal breaks her too,) AND the deaths of his allies/friends Saras, Mayuri, and Ryoma in almost immediate sucessionvery well. His Lancer Hyuuga dies too, and his remaining friends Lakshu and Reiga almost kick it as well. (And Lakshu was close to die for him a while before.)And yet he manages to crack a bit, but not fully break.
Similarly, Lakshu. She's a sweet pre-teen girl whose world is literally falling apart, as the goddess she's a priestess of is petrified and her Hachibushu guardians (including the dude she likes and her friends) are pit against each other. She cries more than once, but pulls through.
She gets broken again at the end of episode 10 where the last support she has for her delusions, Yuuta, suddenly turns on her and tries to make her face reality right before they were supposed to perform at the school festival and not even a day after they had confessed to each other.
A Cruel God Reigns: Jeremy. For the entire series. He's just a sweet, loving boy who would do anything to make sure his mother is happy. Unfortunately for him.
Misaki Tokura's perfect memory has one major flaw to it: she can't forget her parents' deaths. She doesn't play Vanguard that much because the cards remind her of them and she quits Team Q4 when she realizes she can't separate her past and the game. Although she does snap out of it before long.
Joe Asakura has this as his past in Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, losing his parents and nearly dying himself at the tender age of eight. Worse still, his parents were Galactor agents looking to defect with Dr. Nambu's help. Being orphaned thanks to Galactor was bad enough, but Joe was not happy to find out his parents were actually involved with them!
Oz from Pandora Hearts could be a fitting role model for this troupe. Despite being very cheerful and carefree, he has a very troubled past and things went wrong in the present. He was abandoned by his own father and called ‘filthy’ when he was trying to get his father’s attention. And then, his father sent him to the Abyss because of the sin of ‘existing’ (In the anime, Oz had a great mental breakdown when he got to know about this).
And then in the Cheshire Dimension arc, he freaked out and almost destroyed the dimension when he saw Alice’s corpse which has been murdered 100 years ago.
And don’t forget the infamous Jack’s Intention arc. First off, he saw himself stabbed his friend. And then Jack revealed to him that he is the one causing the Tragedy of Sabrie. And then he saw his dearest friend (and love interest) killed herself in front of himself in order to protect him. And then he was shot by his other best friend. And when everything seemed to get better, he had to seen his beloved uncle stabbed by the person who tried to comfort him when he was held captive by the Baskervilles. (And then his thought-to-be father killed his uncle, but he hasn’t got to know this…). After all of this, it would be very surprising to see him regain his cheerful personality.
Attack on Titan does this to pretty much anyone that started out idealistic and naive.
This is Mikasa's backstory in a nutshell. She was a sweet, innocent little girl until a gang murdered her parents in front of her and then kidnapped her, with the implications she was going to be sold into sexual slavery. She ended up being forced to murder one of the men, and came to accept that the world was a cruel place where only the strong survive. While already broken, she got an extra dose when Wall Maria fell and her foster mother was eaten by a Titan in front of her.
Connie started out as the Plucky Comic Relief, and managed to handle his first few traumatic ordeals pretty well. But then a mysterious horde of Titans appeared inside Wall Rose, seemingly passing through and destroying his village without actually eating anyone — they've all simply vanished without a trace. The one crippled Titan they discover in the ruins of his house speaks to him, and he realizes that it resembles his mother.....something the others desperately try to keep him from thinking about. And when it finally seems like the crisis is over, his surrogate big brother turns out to be The Mole.
In fact, pretty much anyone who has witnessed a Titan attack tends to have a Thousand-Yard Stare and PTSD flashbacks. The commander at basic training for new soldiers completely ignores any Titan survivors among the recruits when doing his Drill Sergeant Nasty routine: they're already broken, and he knows it. Breaking them further would serve no purpose save pointless cruelty.
In the backstory of Chrono Crusade, Joshua was an imaginative Ill Boy that desperately wanted to be strong so he could overcome his illness. So when Aion offers him the chance to be powerful with the use of a pair of demon horns, he quickly accepts...and almost immediately goes insane because the power of the horns is too much for him to bear. The rest of the series has him acting as both the reason for Chrono and Rosette to fight and a Psychopathic Manchild that proves to be a dangerous opponent.
Misaki in Angelic Layer is a friendly, cute, sometimes shy and sometimes very energetic little girl...who has been repressing feelings of inadequacy and sadness due to her mom being gone for a large portion of her life. Her Break the Cutie moment comes in the Tearjerker filled Episode 25 when she sees her mom is not only the Champion of Angelic Layer, but has had multiple opportunities to see her and never did. She starts question why her mom never saw her and runs away crying because she thinks she was bad and her mother didn't want to see her. She gets better.
Neptune of Hyperdimension Neptunia is a goofy, 4th Wall Breaking, game loving bundle of happiness...who falls into two separate depressions in Episodes 9 and 10. The first is due to Peashy missing and Neptune keeps forcing herself to ignore how bad she feels since the last time they were together they had a big fight and Peashy said she hated Neptune. She gets better thanks to Plutia/Iris Heart...and then she finds out Peashy's been brainwashed and turned into a super powerful CPU, Yellow Heart, at the end of the episode. Then comes the absolutely heartbreaking events in Episode 10 where Neptune had locked herself in her room...only to force herself to face Yellow Heart and do her best to make Peashy remember. She doesn't get better by the end of the episode, which ends with Peashy remembering her just as she's taken back to her home dimension. Leaving Neptune to look over Peashy's drawings and cry.
in Koe no Katachi, Shouko Nishimiya, a Cute Mute deaf girl spent her first year in school being constantly mocked, bullied and harassed, with her every effort to make friends rejected and destroyed without fail. It's so bad, she's not the Cutie broken by it, one of her tormenters is. Ishida Shouya, ends up as the scapegoat for his entire class, taking all the blame for Shouko's torment and spends the next few years suffering treatment almost worse then Shouko at the hands of students and teachers, well also bearing horrible guilt over what he did to Shouko before she left school. He completely shuns his class and foresees nothing but a life of endless suffering ahead for him, which eventually makes him plan to kill himself early in the series.