"It wasn't just the baby that died that day; something inside Sick Boy was lost and never returned."
The line that, once crossed, destroys any last remaining sense of hope. It could be for a cause, a person, a situation, or simple survival. A character has given up on it, and there is no going back (barring some miracle, which isn't that unlikely in fiction). It can lead soldiers to despair — or even suicide
, if they don't simply lose the will to live
. It can turn an Ideal Hero
into an Anti-Hero
or an outright villain
, or even, in some cases, vice versa.
It is a vital element of Tragedy
this line is quite common in fiction; frequently, at the end of the second act
or the 45 minute mark of a drama or the first hour of a film, the protagonist comes dangerously close to the edge
before a Rousing Speech
or Deus ex Machina
or the like comes along. It makes for a Downer Ending
if the protagonist does fall over the edge. Frequently, this is when the What You Are in the Dark
test hits him. Alternatively, many stories have a hero "Fighting the Good Fight" and meeting someone who'd been at it longer and lost all hope
This is often a goal of some wars. You break the enemy's morale, and you can achieve victory even without military success.
Related to Heroic BSOD
and Heroic Safe Mode
, except the hero usually comes back from those. A Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
is often a character who crossed this line long ago. It can result in the character entering an Angst Coma
, being Dumb Struck
, suffering Death by Despair
, or becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
(and subsequently crossing the Moral Event Horizon
or Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
). Often a result of We Used to Be Friends
. This is often the final stage of the Break the Cutie
process. In a video game, often happens during a Bleak Level
, and it may be relevant if the game has a Morale Mechanic
May be preceded with a Hope Spot
, just to really twist the knife. And a Downer Ending
might follow in really dark stories.
Often a factor in Pater Familicide
Compare Safety In Indifference
, Hope Is Scary
(a character is afraid to cross the event horizon back again), Hope Crusher
(someone who delights seeing characters crossing this horizon).
Contrast Heroic Spirit
This is about a character losing all hope, not merely getting depressed, upset, or bored.