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Angst Coma
"Dryden explained that Van had gone into something called an "angst coma," which is what happens when the brain shuts down as it rapidly approached the Sasuke Limit."

Sometimes called Post Traumatic Catatonia, this refers to a situation in which a character enters a comatose or catatonic state that is either directly caused by his personal problems, or cured by dealing with his personal problems, or both. Often, the cure comes when the character confronts his demons in a hallucinatory Vision Quest, sometimes accompanied by one or more friends or loved ones who take a Journey to the Center of the Mind. For some reason, this condition is often associated with / exacerbated by Giant Mecha.

A subtrope of the more general Heroic BSOD, this refers specifically to a comatose state to the exclusion of other forms of mental breakdown. A milder form is Deep Sleep.

Compare Vision Quest and Journey to the Center of the Mind, which don't have to include the coma part or necessarily any angst. May overlap with Convenient Coma, which serves the plot rather than the character. When done poorly see: Wangst.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan, Annie remembers her promise to her father to come home safely, then purposely enters a coma by encasing herself in impenetrable crystal when she's about to be captured so she can't be interrogated.
  • Zetsuen no Tempest: Yoshino tells Hakaze that when he heard his girlfirend Aika died over the phone, he went into shock.
  • In Vision of Escaflowne, Van goes into an Angst Coma after going berserk and killing a number of minor villains. Hitomi enters his mind to try to bring him out of it, but it is ultimately Merle's heartfelt pleas that do the job.
  • The Big O: In the first episode of the second season, the main character goes introspectively catatonic as he struggles to figure out just who — and what — he is.
  • In Elfen Lied, Kouta, the male lead, suffers amnesia and spends an entire year in a coma after watching his little sister Kanae and his father get slaughtered right in front of him by Lucy.
  • In the manga Chrono Crusade, after the carnival battle in volume 5, Chrono forces himself into a Convenient Coma to keep from hurting Rosette. It takes her going into his mind and digging around in his memories before he's prepared to continue on his quest.
  • In Gundam SEED, after the return to Earth, Kira Yamato goes into a coma (more like a nap though) partly from the stress of re-entry, and partly because he failed to prevent the destruction of a shuttle full of refugees.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni. Satoko enters one after seeing her entire village massacred by a gas leak which she escaped by falling into a river. The aforementioned was inspired at least in part by the ending of Tatarigoroshi-hen (that was cut in the anime), where it's Keiichi who does this in a similar situation. It's also inspired in part by a scene from the PS2-only Taraimawashi-hen, where Mion enters this after having been rescued from events largely comparable to Watanagashi-hen/Meakashi-hen.
  • CLAMP uses this trope more than once:
    • Kamui in X1999 ends up in one after his former best friend Fuuma violently assaults him and kills Kotori right in front of him. It takes Subaru going on a Journey to the Center of the Mind to get him out of it.
    • Subaru has experience in this, as in Tokyo Babylon he pulled his childhood friend Midori from the one she fell in after being brutally raped. And he fell into one almost at the end of the manga, after Seishirou revealed that he was the Sakurazukamori: he went catatonic until his twin sister Hokuto pulled a Thanatos Gambit and perished at the hands of Seishirou. And in the X TV series Subaru again has one of these few after he kills Seishirou, but with a pus from Hokuto's soul he recovers right before the end.
    • Also in the X TV series Kotori herself suffered one shortly before dying, as a consequence of Tokiko's death which triggered her memories of her mother's very similar death. She spends the rest of her screen time with her body in a coma and her subconscious hanging out in Kakyou's dream space thanks to her Dream Weaver powers, until Fuuma kills her. You could say that she had one in the old movie as well, when her Dream Weaver ability kicks in after Kanoe gets a hold of her, and she spends a good part of the movie in a Troubled Fetal Position while getting glimpses of her status as a Person of Holding... until Fuuma also kills her here.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Asuka suffers her infamous Mind Rape by the fifteenth Angel (not to mention that her life was already going down the drain before that). That puts her in an increasingly severe State of Heroic BSOD for the reminder of the Series. She ends up catatonic by episode 24. She gets better. For about five minutes.
  • Fate Testarossa from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha faints when her mother makes it clear beyond any terms that she rejects her and tells her that she's a clone. Fate herself comes back when she realizes she is not alone.
  • In Please Teacher!, it was revealed that the reason for Kei's "standstill" coma was him witnessing his sister's suicide. Not only does this psychically inhibit his aging (although he is legally 18 after a 3 year coma), modern science in his universe has catalogued and recognized it.
  • Aki Izayoi from Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds suffers from this after watching Divine falling to his (supposed) death.
  • Luffy from One Piece suffers from this after his attempted rescue of his beloved older brother, Ace, ends with Ace sacrificing himself to save Luffy from Akainu and dying in Luffy's arms.
  • Keiko from YuYu Hakusho suffered a brief but very through one while watching Yusuke being beaten up to almos death by Younger Toguro.
  • Fumika of Shigofumi, after shooting her father.
  • Ken Ichijouji from Digimon Adventure 02 slept for several days when he returned home after his defeat in the Digital World, his realisation that the Digital World is real and the death of his partner. In this sleep, he recalled memories of his deceased brother and resolved his feelings of abandonment and neglect.
  • Clair Leonelli in Heat Guy J goes into one after he is deposed from his position as Mafia leader and loses his home and two Mooks/friends all in one day, in addition to his extant Daddy Issues.
  • In Pokémon Special, Blue falls into one when she sees her long-lost parents vanish right before her eyes. Considering her rather crappy circumstances and everything she put into getting over it, it's understandable. Props to her for managing to get back on her feet to keep fighting and save them.
  • Played for Laughs in Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu. After Tessa's very overt advances become too much for him (after her XO and father-figure informs Sousuke that if anything "happens between them" he'll fire Sousuke out a torpedo tube), Sousuke faints from the stress. Well, that and the exhaustion of going four days straight without sleep.
  • Howls Moving Castle. I SEE NO POINT IN LIVING IF I CAN'T BE BEAUTIFUL.
  • Rurouni Kenshin has Kenshin go into one when Kaoru gets killed by Enishi. Or so he's led to believe.
  • Margery Daw from Shakugan no Shana goes into this after discovering that the demon she was chasing for all her life was in fact a piece of herself.
  • Naruto goes into an Angst Coma when he can't come to terms with how hopeless Sasuke's situation is, though "coma" is something of an overstatement as it only lasted a couple hours and ended without any mental journey. It might be considered more of an Angst Nap.
  • In Aim for the Ace! Hiromi goes into one after Coach Munakata dies. Made worse because Munakata died when she was in the USA, some of her friends knew but kept her Lockedout Of The Loop so she wouldn't mentally splinter and lose her matches (like it happened to one of them when he found out), and she only learned about it when she came back home.

    Comics 
  • Transformers: Last Stand of the Wreckers introduced "zero point," a rare affliction that occurs when a Cybertronian's spark energy is unable to fully travel the course of the robot's body due to microscopic gaps caused by severe injury. The patient goes into a coma-like state of living death until their body fails and shuts down completely. Autobot psychiatrist Rung has theorized that talking to patients can trigger an emotional response that encourages the brain to force the spark to travel over the gap and revive the afflicted. This treatment has succeeded at least twice so far.

    Film 

    Literature 
  • Ender enters one for a few days near the end of Enders Game when he discovers that he unwittingly committed mass genocide against the buggers while believing he was only undergoing training for it. Possibly justified in that he was physically and mentally exhausted at the time: the angst was just what pushed him over the edge.
    • Not to mention that he was psychically/spiritually/emotionally connected to the Bugger Queens at the moment he killed them all. They had been trying to reach out to the mind of their enemy in order to understand him and try to communicate in some way.
  • In Wicked, Elphaba goes into one of these for a year when Fiyero dies. Because of this, she is unsure whether or not Liir is her son, as she may have given birth and been unaware of it.
  • Talia of the Arrows trilogy lapses into a self-induced coma after being tortured nearly to death. Naturally, The Power of Love brings her back.
    • The coma was more due to an overdose of smuggled-in poison. Not that the torture didn't help, it meant that none of the Healers could convince her she wasn't being revived for another session or 15 with Ancar.
  • Honor Harrington in Field of Dishonor upon learning of the death of Paul Tankersley.
  • Happened to Myn Donos in the X-Wing Series. He'd led a squadron of X-Wings into a trap. He, and his astromech, were the only survivors; after that he was emotionally dead but functional. Until his astromech was destroyed - the last Talon. His failure became complete. There's mention that his squadmates tried to talk to him, but he wouldn't respond.
    "Myn just lies there, staring off into nowhere. He'll eat if you put food in his hand, drink if you put the cup to his lips. But he's gone somewhere."
    • His squadmates eventually pull him out of it by putting him through a simulation of that same trap. He's understandably quite pissed, but this hair-of-the-dog technique forces him to deal with his emotions - after he gets through the anger, he can feel other things again. Not that he's fully healed, or anything; the trauma comes back to bite him later in the series.
  • In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger got up to a lot of anti-church antics as a kid. After an angel appeared to chastise him for this behavior, Alma fell into a deep sleep that lasted two days and during which he faced his sins and was forgiven.
  • Happens to Martini in The Alien Series a lot, as whenever his empathetic abilities overload, his body shuts down in self-defense.
  • About a billion times in Frankenstein. Any time something bad happens, Victor seems to keel over into a months-long coma/sleep. And since it's Frankenstein, bad things happen a LOT.
  • Seen in French Sci-Fi novel Malevil. The cast barely survives World War III inside a castle cellar. The next day everyone mopes around in a silent daze. When one staggers to his feet to leave, convinced his wife is waiting for him, Emmanuel is angry that he has to leave his comfortable Angst Coma to stop his friend from killing himself.
  • Subverted in the Dragonlance novel, Dragons of Spring Dawning. The captive Golden General, Laurana seems to go catatonic after hearing that she is going to be tortured to death and have her soul given to a death knight and seeing her Love Interest Tanis Half-Elven serving her Arch-Enemy, the Dragon Highlord Kitiara. In fact Laurana is just luring her enemies into a false sense of security and, as soon as Kitiara has completely disregarded her as a threat, she breaks free, curbstomps Kitiara, and makes her escape.
  • Túrin has one in The Children of Húrin, after he finds out the princess he promised to protect is dead. He collapses on her grave and takes several days to be nursed back to health.
  • Rebecca Morgan in Catherine Anderson's Cherish goes into one that nearly kills her after the outlaws who slaughtered her entire family return to finish her off.
  • Played for Laughs in Dinoverse. Candayce is so deeply dismayed at turning into a dinosaur and being stuck in the past with people she doesn't like that she briefly shuts down and has to be carried around, glassy-eyed and drooling. She comes out of it on her own after getting something to eat, but the dismay stays.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Gibbs from NCIS plunges into one of them after his wife and daughter are killed. He actually does this twice—because of an explosion/head wound/flashback . . . thingy. Well, it made sense in context. Sort of.
  • In Carnivŕle, Apollonia is in a vegetative state through which she can only communicate telepathically after giving birth to Sofie who was conceived via rape at the hands of Justin Crowe, thus bequeathing Sofie an avataric nature, which means her birth is traumatic to her mother, as per the show's mythology. Whew!.
  • In a Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, Counselor Troi enlists the aid of a powerful alien telepath to enter the mind of her comatose mother and help her deal with her first daughter's death.
  • Buffy spends most of the episode "The Weight of the World" in one of these after Glory kidnaps Dawn.
  • Arrested Development has a comedic example: The stress of having to testify at his father's trial causes him to enter "a light to no coma", or in layman's terms "a heavy nap".
  • Warehouse 13: Artie after his Enemy Within kills Leena.
  • Supernatural: This happens to Sam after the "wall" in his mind is broken, which causes all of his memories of being tortured by Michael and Lucifer back, after having regained his Damaged Soul.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a game mechanic in Exalted. Solar Exalts with high Compassion can take Heart of Tears as their virtue flaw, leaving them totally unable to do anything but weep (and flee from combat if attacked) for several days, once they've seen enough innocents suffer.
    • Actually, it only lasts one day, or one scene in combat.
  • Several games with a Sanity Meter or a fear system can cause this to happen. Ravenloft, Dark Heresy, and Call of Cthulhu can each have this occur in different ways. Likewise, some of the most extreme possible results from a failed "Fright Check" in GURPS can put the character into a coma.
  • In Eclipse Phase a really bad Stress roll can put a character in a permanent one, and it's harder to fix than mere death. On the other hand the "Downtime" psi-sleight allows a character to willingly enter a catatonic state and regain sanity at an accelerated rate, of course you need to start out with at least one psychiatric disorder to have psi in the first place.

    Videogames 

    Visual Novels 
  • A milder version happens to Hanako from Katawa Shoujo, after hearing that her would-be boyfriend Hisao and her best friend Lilly are planning a birthday party for her, not knowing that birthdays are a trigger for her. This happens in the middle of class, so the teacher has to stop the lesson and have her taken to the infirmary by Shizune. When we see her again, Hanako is in bed and a little bit more coherent, but extremely shaken
    • In the unreleased beta, Shizune would've fallen into this if the player-as-Hisao took the Sex for Solace option with Misha, since it would've been followed by Misha being Driven to Suicide in front of Shizune herself. The trauma would've driven her to catatonia, and optionally to a Death by Despair

    Webcomics 
  • In Goblins, Fumbles has fallen into one of these after his torture by GoblinSlayer. Big Ears stated that his mind is broken beyond his ability to restore.
    • Hundreds of comics later, Vorpal Kickassio returns in Chief's moment of need. It doesn't help.

    Web Originals 
  • Vision of Escaflowne Abridged is the trope namer (see The Vision of Escaflowne example above). The characters have a technical discussion of the precise number of megashinjis (the series' standard base unit for measuring angst) Van must have accumulated in order to enter his Angst Coma.
  • The Nostalgia Chick succumbs to a 'bad movie coma' in her review of Armageddon (part 2?), which is this in all but name.
  • In My Jungle Book Your Year Ribonista goes into one of these after Cones leaves.

    Western Animation 
  • In Avatar The Last Airbender "The Earth King", Zuko undergoes a severe fever and enters a coma in which he has vivid dreams in which his uncle and sister appear as dragons and argue over his life choices and another in which he seems to awaken only to look in the mirror and see himself as the Avatar (Zukotar?). Iroh says that this is "not a natural illness" and the whole thing is apparently caused solely by Zuko self-conflict.
  • Peter is in one of these when Venom is trying to bond with him in The Spectacular Spider Man.
  • Darkwing Duck: When she runs into the resurrected Taurus Bulba, Gosalyn goes catatonic for a minute, forcing Honker to take control of the vehicle they're both in. Considering what he did to her grandfather, it's perfectly understandable.
  • Toki, from Metalocalypse, enters this whenever his parents are around, due to his Hilariously Abusive Childhood.

    Real Life 
  • Word on the street in Egypt these days is that the reason that former President Hosni Mubarak fell ill and became incredibly reclusive shortly after his resignation was shock from the realization that the country was nothing like the way he pictured it.
  • There's a story about Stalin going into a brief state of Angst Coma when he learned about the German invasion. It's unclear whether this was because he thought Hitler just wouldn't dare, or because he felt personally betrayed by him, or that he was despairing over how unprepared the USSR was for a war with Germany. The guy was very unstable to begin with, so it could've been any or all of those, if the story is true at all.


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