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Despair Event Horizon
"It wasn't just the baby that died that day; something inside Sick Boy was lost and never returned."
Renton, Trainspotting

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.

Coming near 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.

IMPORTANT: This is about a character losing all hope, not merely getting depressed, upset, or bored.

Examples

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     Anime & Manga 
  • Blood+: Saya hits it when Diva rapes and kills Riku, developing a more bitter personality and an I Work Alone mentality; several characters in-universe remark that she's lost hope.
  • D.Gray-Man´s Lenalee is pushed into it when Allen is wounded to about as close to death as you can get (hole in his heart, amputated left arm/innocence, Heroic BSOD from not being able to save Suman and various other injuries), she only gets to see the effects through Timcanpy and then isn't even allowed to see the presumed corpse. She understandably nearly becomes a vegetable for a while.
    • Allen himself crosses the horizon after these events, and he is told that he will never be able to be an Exorcist again. However, it turns out that wasn't true- Bak just wanted to make sure that Allen was determined enough to go through the dangerous process of regaining his Innocence.
  • Mazinger Z: The Hero Kouji almost, almost crossed it during the Mazinger-Z vs Great General of Darkness movie. After several Mykene Warrior Monsters have easily destroyed four major cities (Paris, London, New York and Moscow) they strike Tokyo. He launches Mazinger-Z to fight them... and he barely walks out of it alive. The Warrior Monsters easily rip his mecha apart and turn Tokyo into burning ruins as he is unable make anything to stop them. Back in the Home Base, he learns MORE Warrior Monsters have visited while he was away. His Home Base is in ruins, Love Interest Sayaka and victriolic best friend Boss' Humongous Mechas have been destroyed, and worst of all, his little brother Shirou got hurt cause a collapsing ceiling and is in coma. Later, Kouji was sitting on -the remains of- his room, and he cried as he said he knew he could not win and he was going to die in the next battle; poor Sayaka, who was eavesdropping, also cried as hearing him.
    • It was way, WAY worse in one of the first chapters of Shin Mazinger Zero, where he did fully cross it. Straight after seeing his grandfather murdering his father and murdering Sayaka after raping her, and losing one of his arms he was thrust in Mazinger-Z and his body absorbed by the machine. Turned into a raging The Berserker, he began fighting Mechanical Beasts in spite of he not even knew what they were or whence they came, and his negative emotions -pain, rage, despair, sadness, loneliness- fed Mazinger-Z until its sleeping consciousness woke up, transformed into an Eldritch Abomination by poor Kouji's despair, and it burnt the world to ashes.
  • Shinji crosses this line in Neon Genesis Evangelion when he is forced to kill Kaworu, although that 'isn't actually his lowest point. That comes after he masturbates at the comatose Asuka's bedside, at which point he realizes that he has truly hit rock bottom.
    • By midway through End of Evangelion, nothing is left but a shrieking mess.
    • Asuka is declining steadily throughout the series, specially after being on the receiving end of Mind Rape, but she gets better.
    • Ritsuko also hit this after realizing that she'll never be loved by Gendou (like her mom before her) and destroying the Rei clones.
    • For Shinji's Rebuild incarnation, it's either finding out that he never saved Rei (...which also shattered his feeble attempts to cope with having inadvertedly annihilated the biosphere) or Kaworu's death yet again, which, this time, was a direct result of Shinji making a poor decision in a desperate situation and rendered completely senseless by Shinji's mere presence inside EVA 13. After that, he just curls into a ball and waits for death, not even reacting to Asuka kicking him right afterwards. And yes, this is the very next thing that happens to him.
  • Griffith of Berserk, broken in body and mind after a year's worth of torture, loses all hope of becoming captain of the Band of the Hawks again when it's discovered that he will never recover from his injuries. Then, just after he resigns himself to living a peaceful life with Casca, he discovers that she's moved on and is now in a relationship with Guts. Griffith loses it completely. This drives him to activate his Crimson Behelit, summon the Godhand, and cross the Moral Event Horizon.
    • Hitting one's emotional nadir this way is all but a requirement for mortal bearers of Behelits in general. It ensures that one is in the proper frame of mind to accept the offer of the Godhand to make the Sacrifice (and thus cross the bearer's personal Moral Event Horizon) to become a demon. And provided the Behelit comes into contact with blood, a member of the Godhand can also use it to manifest in the physical world, such as when Slan manifests in front of Guts using a pile of troll intestines.
    • Guts comes perhaps the closest that any mortal can get to the Despair Event Horizon at the end of the Eclipse, what with losing everyone in the Band of the Hawk except Casca to the demons unleashed by Griffith's acceptance of the call to Sacrifice, and then being horribly mind raped by being Forced to Watch as Casca, the only woman he's ever loved, is raped to insanity by Griffith, who has been reborn as the fifth member of the Godhand, after a furious but utterly doomed bid to save her that cost him a hand and an eye. The only thing that keeps Guts going in the face of such despair is an undying hatred for the one responsible for it all and a desire for revenge that all but consumes him for two years and nearly destroys the man that he used to be.
  • This happens a lot in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, to a number of different characters. In fact, it's the reason for most of the murderous rampages on the show, if not all.
  • Judai of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX crossed this at the end of Season 3, and Season 4 saw the former Idiot Hero "jaded" into a stoic Ineffectual Loner.
    • Ryo hits it hard in Season 2 after his loss to Edo, demotion to the minor leagues, and loss of his sponsor. This leads directly to his Freak Out and Face-Heel Turn, resulting in Hell Kaiser.
  • It happens to Yuma in Yu Gi Oh Zexal during his duel with III, but is subverted due to the fact that III uses a curse to steal Yuma's self-confidence, literally. Yuma is able to recover after his father appears to him in a vision, reminding him how he got the self-confidence to begin with.
  • Ga-Rei Zero- shows Yomi descending into one of these, finally crossing it when she believes Kagura, the one dearest to her and the last person to believe in her, has abandoned her. Leads to a Tear Jerker moment as all she can do is type out "I'm sorry Kagura" before accepting the Banestone/Sesshouseki in her despair.
  • Sayonara, Zetsubou-Sensei's Nozomu Itoshiki lives four leagues on the far side of the horizon. Constantly. Played for laughs.
  • Digimon Tamers: Jeri goes over this after her partner Leomon is killed and eaten right in front of her. Her despair was so much that the D-Reaper decided it liked the taste of her sorrow and possessed her so it could continue driving her over this by emotionally and mentally torturing her. It succeeds so well that she tries to commit suicide to escape.
  • "The Record Of A Fallen Vampire" - Strauss crossed this when Stella was murdered. Then he goes on to redefine the meaning of "no hope" as he has make himself the target of hatred and is forced to fight Stella and his daughter's effective reincarnation, the Black Swan, over and over again, without being allowed to die because if he dies then the Dhampirs and the humans will probably destroy each other, and if that doesn't happen, the Dhampirs will lose their hope of being able to turn into humans.
  • The plot of Elfen Lied is set off by Lucy crossing the line when she finds out that the cousin Kouta is going to a festival with instead of her is a girl. Not a good reason, but at that point she snaps and starts killing on purpose.
    • This is actually the conclusion of a 8 to 10 years old process that began when her father abandoned her as a baby in the forest due to her cat ear-shaped horns. She was found and sent to an Orphanage of Fear, where she spent day and night tormented non stop by the other children and emotionally neglected by the staff of the facility, again, due to her horns. Then, when she finally thinks she made a friend, said friend proceeds to betray the girl's trust by telling the bullies of a puppy she was caring for; after which the bullies proceed to beat the poor thing to death right in front of her. This was the breaking point for Lucy, who snapped, awakening her vectors in the process, and slaughtered everyone in the room. Then she met Kouta, and the whole cousin issue was interpreted by the girl as another callous betrayal, driving her to a psychotically murderous rage that would become her standard mood from then on.
    • After all that she tries one last time to place hope in humanity with a friendship before her eventual capture. She lets herself get captured to try to spare her only friend only to find out that it was all for nothing as she dies from her wounds. If she didn't cross the line before it was at this point where she crosses it.
  • In Ranma ½, Ryoga has developed a ki attack that grows more powerful as he gets more depressed. In a battle where he's using this technique to solidly pound Ranma into the ground, Akane tries to cut through Ryouga's depression with a cheerful "Don't be sad! I really like you, Ryoga!... You're such a great friend!" Since Ryoga is desperately in love with her and is horrified that she only considers him a friend, this unwittingly pushes him over the Despair Event Horizon and makes his attacks even stronger.
  • In Monster, Johan Liebert, the title character, gains power over people by pushing them over this line, putting them completely under his control.
  • Paranoia Agent: This is the entire point of the series. Li'l Slugger comes to those who have reached this point.
  • Edward and Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist crossed this after their attempt to resurrect their mother went horribly wrong, traumatizing them both. It was only through the intervention of Roy Mustang, who told the boys that getting back their bodies was possible with the privileges of state alchemists, that they regained their will to live. Everyone else who has tried to bring those they love back from the dead with alchemy has reached this point.
    • Gluttony after Lust dies.
  • Suzaku Kururugi in Code Geass crosses this twice. First, when his girlfriend Euphemia died in the worst way possible. Later, when he nukes Tokyo under the influence of Geass. For all his loathing of the wrong means, he realizes that it's impossible for him to live according to his ideals.
  • Darcia from Wolf's Rain hits this he discovers that his lover Harmona, who has been on life support for two centuries while he was out attempting to find a cure, has been murdered while he was away from home. (And just before he could bring Cheza to help Harmona). Although we don't see the full effect of it until later, this transforms Darcia into a Nietzsche Wannabe, the Evil Counterpart, and the Big Bad.
  • In Black Butler, Ciel eventually reached this point after he was captured following his parent's murders.
    • In the anime, Jim Macken crossed it after not only he loses his brother Luke and his whole hometown, but is made into a Sex Slave by Lord Trancy. In his despair he summons Claude Faustus, kills his "owner" and renames himself Alois Trancy.
  • In the Negima! (first) anime, Negi himself crosses the horizon after Asuna's death on her 14th birthday, when the Deal with the Devil she made as a kid takes effect. He splinters so badly that watching it almost becomes the DEH for a few of his students.
    • In the manga, Negi's mother Arika found herself on the edge of it when she was about to be executed under false charges of murder and treason, as well for taking the blame for Asuna's Anti-Magic powers going haywire and plummeting a Floating Continent to the ground.
  • Sasame reaches this point in Prétear when he realizes that no matter how much he tries to reason with Takako, she can't come back from the dark side. So he joins her instead. It doesn't help that she nearly killed him during a battle.
    • Himeno's stepsister Mawata also reached the point after the face heel turned Sasame rejected her feelings in front of her family, which tops on her loneliness and hidden emotional turmoil coming from her father's death. After that, she fell into such a despair that Takako easily turned Mawata into the Barrier Maiden for the Fenrir tree, and Himeno had to work VERY hard to bring her back.
  • Sheryl Formossa crosses this horizon in Ideon, after the deaths of her sister Lin and her boyfriend Gije.
  • This happens to Lord Genome from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in his backstory, when he realizes the truth of the Spiral Nemesis.
    • One could say that the Despair Event Horizon is the fighting style of the Anti-Spiral. His goal in battle is to eliminate the opponent's Spiral Power, which is defined as (among other things) fighting spirit and the will to live. As such, he intentionally fights just beyond his opponent's ability, and repeatedly gives them Hope Spots, only to cruelly crush their hopes at the last second, with the goal of crushing their will to fight altogether.
  • Flit Asuno from Gundam Age wants to finish the fight against the UE so he could return to the Minsry Colony to live a peaceful life with Yurin L'Ciel. And then Desil forces her to fight for his side and brutally kills her near Ambat, and Flit loses it completely. This drives him to become a savior not for mankind, but for the corrupt Earth Federal Forces.
    • Kio finds out about life in Vagan in Episode 37. In Vagan, crossing the DEH is not an event in one's life, it's the nature of one's life. A space colony without any natural life, those living in Vagan have to get by on the scarcity of resources and money, all the while being always on the lookout for thieves. Because of the rampant poverty, most are unable to get their hands on medicine for the disease caused by Mars Rays, but even if they could it would only be a temporary measure. The disease can hit anyone from any social class and age from the impoverished such as Lu to the ruling class such as Lord Ezelcant. Conditions are so dehumanizing and hopeless, these citizens tend to lose their sense of human emotions, because loving unreservedly will only bring more pain when those people are likely to die of disease and/or poverty. Is it any wonder why so many Vagans resent the Earth Federation?
  • Saint Hakushin from InuYasha was driven towards the DEH as he was waiting for his death. He volunteered to be buried alive so he would become a living Buddha and help his people, but as he waited to die he realized that he really didn't want to die, and horrifyingly despaired. Naraku used this to recruit him as his Barrier Warrior.
  • Tsubaki Kasugano aka the 6th in Mirai Nikki crosses this in her backstory, after she loses the Tragic Keepsake that kept her somewhat sane after being used as a Sex Slave by a Religion of Evil. By the time we meet her, she's a full-blown Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • Yomi from Ga-Rei Zero-. Yomi's adoptive father his killed by her Seishouseki-mind-controlled adoptive cousin, the cousin takes what was supposed to be her place as the family head and her inheritance, then lures her to a fight. When the cousin admits killing Yomi's father, she goes berserk and kills her. Then Mitogawa attacks Yomi, rendering her quadriplegic and mute, and she is accused of murdering her cousin. Her fiancee Noriyuki is too busy trying to prove her innocence to visit her in the hospital, his father breaks off their Perfectly Arranged Marriage because of her physical condition, and her best friend Kagura abandons her after she admits to killing her cousin. Then Mitogawa gives her the same Seishouseki, which heals her but its mind-control powers provide the extra push to send her Jumping Off the Slippery Slope and killing her former friends. Her Despair Event Horizon is such a Tearjerker that even after crossing the Moral Event Horizon she is still a sympathetic Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • In Spice and Wolf Horo crosses this line early in season 2, after learning that her hometown is likely gone, and has been for centuries. Cue breakdown.
  • In Spiral, Kanone Hilbert crosses this upon realizing that the Blade Children can never be saved. His reaction is trying to kill as many of them as he can - including all of his friends ( and half-siblings) and himself. After he is stopped, he doesn't cross back to the other side of the line: in the anime, he just leaves the country, still sulking; in the manga, the way he finally finds to "save" himself is to have a meaningful death, which will give hope to the other Bla Chil and Ayumu.
  • Souji Mikage from Revolutionary Girl Utena uses tactics that arguably predate those of Celestial Being, approaching young people who are in their lowest with promise of a chance to change their worlds and end what's making them suffer by defeating Utena. Specially obvious in the cases of people like Wakaba, Keiko Sonoda, or Mitsuru Tsuwabuki; in fact, he rejected Tatsuya the Onion Prince because he wasn't despairing enough. Mikage himself also went past the DEH in his backstory, and is pushed even further in the last episode of the Black Rose arc.
    • Prince Dios and his younger sister also crossed this in their backstories, which is what shaped them into Akio Ohtori the Magnificent Bastard and Anthy Himemiya the Rose Bride.
  • Shaman King: Once upon a time, there was a German boy named Faust (who was a descendant ofthat Faust, by the way). He had a Victorious Childhood Friend named Elisa, a sweet and cute Ill Girl. Faust became a doctor and worked hard to develop a cure; after many years of research, he finally created the perfect medicine for her, and when she recovered they got Happily Married... and then she was shot to death by a thug. The despaired Faust began researching about necromancy to find a way to properly revive Eliza, but only managed to become a Shaman and have her as his spirit partner. Needless to say, things went bad...and specially for Faust's rivals.
  • Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha
    • Fate Testarossa had a rather nasty case of this upon learning that she was a clone, with all the memories of the original, and her mother hated her guts. Being cast aside, told she was never really loved, that her life was a lie, that she was truly despised, and told never to show her face again by the, admittedly abusive, mother she was completely devoted to will do that to you. Thanks to Arf's and Nanoha's companionship and combat therapy, respectively, she eventually snapped out of it in order to help and have one last word with her mother. Still counts, though.
    • Yagami Hayate in A's, when she was transported to the hopital roof to see Zafira and Vita beaten and subdued, and Signum and Shamal already gone. Then she see's what looks like her two new freinds erase the first two knights and taunted about it. All after being told that she would most certainly die in a short while due to the incurable condition of her body. The people doing all this were purposely trying to set this off, in complete Break the Cutie fashion.
  • In Hunter × Hunter 305, Gon loses himself in rage and despair after being told that Kite has been Killed Off for Real and can't be revived. When he realizes that the person who strung him along with the promise of a resurrection lied to him, he decides to sacrifice his future potential to give himself enough power in the present to crush his enemy. This is especially of note, because up until this point He had always been a typical happy-go-lucky kid.
    Gon: This is it. I don't care if it's over. So I'll use everything. I'll kill you!
  • Jyu Oh Sei brings us Third/Heiser, who, after learning that Earth, which he had dreamed of visiting for his entire life, was destroyed. He collapses in despair, spends a good few minutes staring blankly at nothing, and eventually shoots himself in the head. Admittedly, his suicide was more to save Thor than a result of his Despair Event Horizon, but it still counts.
  • Bleach:
    • Subverted when Yumichika Ayasegawa and Charlotte Cuulhorne fight. Cuulhorne's final technique takes the form of a single white rose inside a pitch-black rosebush, the idea being that someone who revels in being the most beautiful person in a crowd will be terrified of dying alone, unnoticed and unmissed. It fails because it allows Yumichika to reveal what he's really capable of when no-one is watching.
    • Nnoitra Jiruga hit this at some point in the past and just kept on going. He's convinced that all of the Hollows are damned and that they might as well act like it. "None of us is finding redemption, Nel."
    • Kaname Tousen's backstory reveals his Face-Heel Turn was motivated by this trope. The best friend he was in love with died at the hands of her own abusive husband, who wasn't punished and Tousen took up her sword in the name of justice. For him, "justice" was twisted into "revenge", not just against the man who killed her, but against the whole of Soul Society for being the kind of place where killers like that aren't punished.
    • Ulquiorra's backstory in UNMASKED reveals that he hit this long ago when his clan tried to kill him for being different to them. Once he escaped, he found himself in Hueco Mundo, which was just as bad as his birthplace. Isolated and unable to hear, speak, smell, feel or even eat, he crossed the despair event horizon and made nihilism his personal philosophy.
    • Jackie Tristan is all but stated to have crossed the DEH in her backstory. She crossed it in the moment when she found her family slaughtered and she took her brother's lifeless body in her arms. She's the only Fullbringer who was telling the truth about hating her power, and this is the reason why.
    • The final arc all but confirms Ryuuken Ishida's hatred of Quincies is because he's a Stepford Snarker who crossed into this trope years ago. Twenty years ago, Ryuuken's ability to protect the future of the quincies is destroyed. His Grey Rain Of Depression culminates in an Heroic BSOD that only just escapes this trope thanks to a You Are Not Alone speech by his future wife, Katagiri. A few years later, Katagiri suffers a Cruel and Unusual Death and, with the Quincy responsible still at large, Ryuuken's been an example of this trope ever since.
    • The backstory of Maki Ichinose, who had a Face-Heel Turn out of despair when his beloved Captain was killed by Kenpachi in his Klingon Promotion stage.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica is about young girls that approach this as they become Magical Girls, fight Witches and see how their lives are torn as a consequence, thus being very likely to become Witches themselves. The most straight up example is Sayaka Miki, who as of episode 8 crossed this due to her romantic woes, her ideals conflicting with reality, and the side-effects of Witch fighting, and becomes a witch.
    • Another good example is Mami Tomoe in the third timeline. Learning the Awful Truth did not mix up well with her issues on loneliness and abandonment and, after seeing Sayaka turn into a witch and having to be killed by the group, she freaked out majorly: she then killed Kyouko by destroying her Soul Gem and was about to do the same to Homura (And presumably to Madoka, before eventually killing herself), so Madoka had to mercy kill her and put her out of her misery - almost crossing it herself in the process, but she manages to come back. And then she dies.
    • Kyoko's Jerkassery in her first few episodes is revealed in episode 7 to be a case of despair event horizon crossed. The Pater Familicide she alone survived pushed her over in nothing flat... or did it? All hope she had before that incident gets promptly restored after Kyubey lets slip the Awful Truth, thus inverting Mami's situation in the third timeline on its head.
    • Homura approaches this during her fight with Walpurgis Night, realizing she's about to lose again and has to wrestle with the choice of rewinding time again, and risk corrupting Madoka's future more, or give in. Her Soul Gem starts becoming increasingly corrupted during this time.
    • The only main character who never reaches this point is Madoka, which is probably why she was able to undo the Event Horizon crossings of every other magical girl in existence without becoming a universe-obliterating witch. Even Sayaka recovers, although she dies at around the same point in the new universe from using up her magic, rather than becoming a witch.
  • The Madoka sort-of Alternate Universe Puella Magi Oriko Magica plays this straight and subverts it:
  • Animal X: Yuuji crosses the Despair Event Horizon when he finds out what happened to his first child: she was subjected to vivisection, died, and then her remains were kept on ice in a research facility. After that, Yuuji is quietly broken and makes remarks that show that he's reached a point where he doesn't much care if he lives or dies.
  • Yoji Kudou of Weiß Kreuz starts sliding towards the despair event horizon in the "Dramatic Precious" Drama CDs, and finally crosses it during Gluhen when the toll of being a Chivalrous Pervert whose job involves being a Honey Trap, romancing women for information and then more often than not either being unable to save their lives or being forced to kill them himself, finally becomes too much. At the end of the series he's come down with a case of Easy Amnesia that completely wipes out all his memories of who he is and what he's done, and he's generally considered better off left that way. That is how broken he was..
  • Jose in Gunslinger Girl crosses it when he loses an eye in a botched attempt to kill the terrorist who killed Enrica, and cyborg girl Henrietta is reset to factory settings, destroying her personality so she'll never be able to take Enrica's place. By the nuclear power plant strike, Jose was so far beyond the Despair Event Horizon that after getting fragged, he has Henrietta finish the job and, as she does so, shoots her in the eye, killing her.
  • Most of the main plot of Trigun that made it into the anime (the manga had all this backstory stuff and Knives going One-Winged Angel and staying that way for over a year while he slowly killed off the human race) was a Break the Cutie-slash-Break the Stoic plot aimed at pushing Vash over this, probably in hopes of inducing Face-Heel Turn, but possibly just to punish him for being a disloyal brother. It works insofar as he is pushed past his (admittedly impressive) limits on a couple of occasions, which variously result in a two year retirement and brief catatonia.
    • Meanwhile, the greatest one in a series full of them is when Vash and Knives were one year old, and found out about Tesla. Two boys—physiologically around eight—read the documentation and looked at the corpse, and then shut themselves up in the lab where it had happened and didn't move for over a week. Rem didn't manage to break in to save them until after they'd passed out half-dead from thirst.
      • And then, Vash tried to kill himself with a fruit knife at the first opportunity, and laughed somewhere between hysteria and mania upon thinking he'd accidentally killed Rem when she interfered. Knives, on the other hand, pretended to have Easy Amnesia and then proceeded to methodically enact a plan to Kill All Humans. The kicker is that Knives was always the nicer, more trusting one, before.
    • Legato Bluesummers appears to have spent enough of his childhood in this that when he started developing his mind-control powers he prioritized 'killing everybody connected to my life' over getting away, and was consequently in the process of being raped to death when Knives happened to come along and slice up the building and...save the day. And not kill Legato, and ask him his name. Nicest thing that ever happened to the kid.
    • Several of the Gung Ho Guns have this in their backstories. One in the manga notably is in this omnicide gig because he was a deformed beggar in July when Vash inadvertently blew it up, and the one good thing in his life (a lovely waitress who was kind to him) was killed, and his whole life since has been Training from Hell to get revenge on Vash.
    • Since the point of Trigun is a Broken Bird Wide-Eyed Idealist Actual Pacifist Gunslinger confronting a Crapsack World full of murder, this trope is bread and butter to Yasuhiro Nightow.
  • In chapter 115 of Medaka Box, Zenkichi collapses on his hands and knees in despair after he realizes he isn't special to Medaka anymore. Chapter 116 reveals that Ajimu masterminded this Despair Event Horizon to make Zenkichi receptive to joining her Flask Plan as its first test subject.
  • The Idolmaster - Chihaya got very close to crossing the line during her Heroic BSOD.
  • In Chobits, We see that Freya has crossed the horizon when she begins to physically malfunction from the incredible emotional strain of being in (and being unable to tell anyone about) an unrequited love situation. In the anime, we are even shown the exact moment this happens. Depending on whether one is reading the manga or watching the anime, she is either Driven to Suicide or dies from despair, respectively.
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, Princess Emeraude plowed through this when her beloved Zagato was killed by the Knights, believing him to be the Big Bad. She already was unstable after having to send her brother Ferio away after giving him Laser-Guided Amnesia, then keeping her love for Zagato bottled up, seeing that since she couldn't devote herself 100% to Cephiro, her Pillar work wasn't effective as it should be, and being kidnapped by a desperate Zagato who doesn't want the Knights to release her from Pillar-dom through death... and once Zagato kicked it in battle, the poor broken person reacted by unleashing her powers on the Knights and trying to kill them, calling them out on his death. The girls have to give her an I Cannot Self-Terminate, and the Downer Ending of the first season kicks in.
  • In SHUFFLE! Kaede lost the will to live following her mother's death but Rin managed to snap her out of it... by making her believe he was the reason she died. She snapped out of it, but her attitude is now towards taking out all of her hatred out on him. She then suffers another one when she remembers it was because of her that her mother came home earlier and took the flight, now blaming herself for both of her mother's death and all the pain she caused Rin.
  • In One Piece, Luffy came dangerously close to crossing it after Ace's death. Fortunately, Jinbe managed to snap him out of it.
    • Several characters were actually very close to this, as well. Nami, Robin, Zoro, Hancock, etc.
  • Kiritsugu Emiya from Fate/Zero suffered from this in his backstory. Similar to Archer, he was driven to despair by his ideals because he kept getting betrayed by them.
  • Konami's death utterly breaks Mai in Popotan. Subverted in that she does get slightly better, but only after essentially changing her outlook on her life and lowering her expectations.
  • Naruto
    • Sasuke Uchiha lives off this trope. First, his brother Itachi kills their clan, making him the Last of His Kind. On that same night, said brother proceeds to Mind Rape Sasuke so that he has to watch Itachi kill their parents over and over again. This turns him into a revenge obsessed Jerk Ass before he was even a teenager. After a while, he makes genuine progress in getting better, Itachi comes back, completely kicks Sasuke's ass while barely trying (okay, likely not trying at all), then proceeds to mind rape him again. This makes him abandon his village to go train under Orochimaru, who had, rather recently, attacked the village and killed its leader. After 3 years of training, he finally fights Itachi again, and after Itachi dies from sickness, right in front of Sasuke, Tobi arrives. He reveals to Sasuke that Itachi had actually killed their clan because said clan was planning a coup, which would've led to a civil war and likely a world war, but since Itachi couldn't bring himself to kill his little brother, so he became a Stealth Mentor in the hopes that Sasuke would kill him, which would avenge their clan and make Sasuke a hero to the village. Sasuke reacts... poorly to this. Suffice to say he turns into a lunatic. It's even worse for him when The Second Hokage reveals that all Uchiha have a higher capacity for emotion, so this entire ordeal is even more painful for him.
    • Naruto nearly crossed it when it seemed Hinata was killed by Pein, right before his very eyes. Luckily, his dad brought him back.
    • Nagato himself crossed it when Yahiko killed himself in order to save Konan. This can be considered the moment when Pein was born.
    • Obito Uchiha crossed it when his team-mate Rin was killed. Unlike Naruto, however, he didn't come back, and took it out on the whole world.
    • Madara crossed it (by his own admission) when he found out the Awful Truth about the history of the ninja world and came to realize how hopeless the idea of achieving true peace really was. He subsequently comes up with an Assimilation Plot as he feels that it's the only hope for humanity.]]
  • In Haibane Renmei, this is arguably what allows Rakka and Reki to no longer be bound by sin.
  • In Life Is Money, this is used as a weapon because any character whose anxiety gets high enough dies.
  • At the climax of the sixth volume in High School D×D, Issei crossed it when he thought Asia was gone for good when she disappears from the group just after rescuing her from becoming a nuke that would kill all the devils in the Underworld. He then transforms into a monstrous form called Juggernaut Drive that gives him immense power at the cost of his lifespan. Fortunately, he snaps out of it.
  • Smile Pretty Cure! actually invokes this trope. Big Bad Pierrot is able to get ahold of the storybook telling of the team's history and splotches down some of his Bad End Ink on some of the unwritten pages, plunging the girls into despair. Candy's able to snap them out of it, though.
  • Haruka suffered a lot in Kotoura-san's Downer Beginning, but it was stray cat incident (when a lonely Haruka desperately latches onto a stray cat she finds in a park, caring for it because she can't hear its thoughts and believes it is her only friend, only for it to be taken to a shelter - effectively a death sentence in Japan - by an insensitive old woman) that made her to decide she is indeed a monster (as people already said about her) that would bring doom to every living being that she cares about. From that point on she became a complete Broken Bird and wore a Jerkass Façade so that nobody would care her and vice versa, until Manabe broke her shell.
  • Happens to Kirito in Sword Art Online after Asuna dies in his arms for taking a fatal strike from Akihiko that was meant for him.
  • Fai in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle seems to have made it his hobby to find new DEH's and falling off them. Most notably in Celes when Ashura drives an icicle through Kurogane's chest and he finally snaps and tries to kill both himself and Ashura in one fell blow. Thankfully, Kurogane gets better.
  • In Hell Girl, most people who call upon Ai to send their tormentors to Hell have crossed this, most often at the moment they decide to pull the red string.
  • In Murasakiiro No Qualia, Hatou comes dangerously close to this after Yukari's death, escaping it by hanging to the Hope Spot she found in the form of Alice.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun has two of them:
    • First off, Saten has one as she finds out the side effect of using Level Upper: falling into a coma that no one has come out of.
    • Second is Mikoto's, which is much, much deeper. She's trying to stop the Level 6 Shift experiments, and after pushing herself to her limits and still failing, she comes to the conclusion that the only way to stop the experiments is her suicide.
  • In Attack on Titan, Mikasa suffers one when she thinks Eren died. Reiner appears to have gone over it after revealing his true identity. He clings to the idea of completing his mission in order to function but is resigned to dying as a mass murderer.

    Comics 
  • Willow in Season 9 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, after the magic is gone. Faith after her dad shows up and she does something she regrets, which causes her to go see "Mother Superior" in Daddy Issues.
  • Darkseid lives to bring everyone in the universe to this point. His goal is to discover the Anti-Life Equation, a mathematical formula that "proves" to whomever reads or hears it that life is utterly pointless and without meaning and destroys all traces of happiness and hope, though in Final Crisis when he actually found it he altered it so that there was one single meaning to existence- namely, to obey and worship Darkseid for all eternity.
    • Darkseid suffered his own Despair Event Horizon- he was in love with a scientist named Suli (the mother of his son Kalibak), but his Evil Matriarch mother Heggra saw that Suli was making Darkseid a nicer person and had her murdered for it. Suli tried to make Darkseid a more constructive Evil Overlord by pushing him towards building a more ordered and lawful universe, but when she died he lost all hope that he would ever be more than the monster his mother made him- so, instead, he had his mother murdered and resolved to be an even bigger bastard than Heggra ever intended him to be. Darkseid was a horrible villain before he met Suli, but her death is what made him such a miserable one and is probably the main reason he seeks the Anti-Life Equation in the first place- if he can't be happy, then no-one will be.
  • A Villain Protagonist equivalent (though more an Anti-Hero by this point) with Jackie Estacado of The Darkness, he can handle the mob life, the killing and the people trying to kill him but after he realises what a scumbag Uncle Frankie is and offers to testify against him Uncle Frankie responds by killing Jenny, the Character Development between the two at this point takes hold and the only 'rational' way for Jackie to get revenge is by blowing himself, Frankie and Frankie's mob straight to hell in a flaming Inferno.
  • A curious Anti-Hero version occurs in Kingdom Come; throughout the story, Superman is wary of encountering Magog, the Nineties Anti-Hero who in many ways replaced him in the public's regard, until he and the rest of the Justice League encounter him in the ruins of Kansas... only to discover a broken man torn apart by guilt and anguish over his actions and the disastrous consequences they resulted in.
    Proud? Proud?! Proud of being the Man of Tomorrow?!?
  • Walter Kovacs in Watchmen starts out a rather messed up, right-wing, but functional man, with a fairly normal life outside being a masked vigilante. Then he investigates the kidnapping of a little girl, and ends up finding her dismembered and mostly-eaten corpse, suffering a complete psychotic break and burning her killer alive. From that point on, he's insane, murderous and barely capable of (or interested in) taking care of himself, having completely abandoned all identity outside of Rorschach.
    • The Comedian is a straighter example: When he discovers that reality is actually much worse than his dark parody of it, he breaks into Moloch's apartment to tell him about it, but the Comedian's already so far beyond the point of no return that he only manages to confess to his sins before he realizes how ridiculous it is that his nemesis is the closest thing to a friend that he has.
  • In the "Emerald Twilight" tie-in to The Death of Superman storyline, the destruction of Coast City by Mongul serves as the DEH for then-Green-Lantern Hal Jordan. He then goes on to cross the Moral Event Horizon pretty quickly. Even after the city is eventually rebuilt, it's more or less a Ghost City as nobody wants to move there because of what happened.
    • Then in Sinestro Corps War, Sinestro declares his intention to invoke this in Earth's population by razing Coast City again. But this time it's defied, as those who did live there, when warned of the coming danger, refused to evacuate and instead shined green lights out their windows in support of the Green Lanterns. This show of courage ended up having the exact opposite effect from what Sinestro wanted.
    • In "The Secret of the Indigo Tribe", Hal meets Natromo, one of the creators of the eponymous Indigo Tribe. Natromo explains how he and Abin Sur created the tribe both in preparation for the Blackest Night and as a test run for the Indigo Rings, which were planned to be used against the Guardians of the Universe when they come to destroy the tribe. When Hal informs Natromo that Abin Sur is dead, Natromo declares that there's no chance in defeating the Guardians, and destroys the tribe's Central Power Battery, not only deactivating the Indigo Rings, but also releasing the tribe from their influence. In other words, he undid the entire tribe's Heel-Face Brainwashing.
  • Happens to Nuke in the Squadron Supreme limited series.
  • Tony Stark after Steve Rogers is killed at the end of Civil War. He suffers a Heroic BSOD over Steve's death, and it also makes him even more reckless with his life than he's been in almost his entire history.
  • In Secret Warriors #24, badass super-agent Nick Fury finally breaks after he has let two teams of young agents die on his watch. Even worse, the second team was led by his own son Mikel Fury. While standing at the graves of the second team, the agents of the Russian spy organization Leviathan come for him. He doesn't even try to resist.
  • Spider-Man: Curt Connors was dragged kicking and screaming over the edge when his Lizard persona ate his son, Billy Connors. Curt's reaction went way beyond Heroic BSOD - effectively he's dead, his personality shredded entirely leaving the Lizard in charge all the time. And the Lizard itself is still plagued with guilt over its actions. Curt's personality was restored, but he's still stuck in his Heroic BSOD. He pretends he's still the Lizard because he believes he deserves to be locked up like an animal for the rest of his life.
  • The Blue Lanterns are empowered by hope. This doesn't mean they are immune to despair. And the moment they give in to despair, the blue power rings abandon them to seek out more worthy wielders. This was especially bad for one rookie Blue Lantern who despaired when the Blue Lanterns' world was invaded since he was in mid-air when his ring left him.
  • This is Doctor Strange foe D'Spayre's mode of attack — flooding his victims with a sense of hopelessness in an attempt to make them take their own lives.
  • X-23 hits one at the end of Target: X. After all the torture and dehumanization the Facility put her through, being forced to kill her mother by the Trigger Scent just as they were about to escape, having to give up all that remained of her family and the normal life she was starting to build to protect them when her Axe Crazy former handler came looking for her, and possibly spending an unspecified time on the streets as a prostitute under a sadistic and abusive pimp (it's unclear where exactly this series falls in her history), Laura finally reaches her breaking point, and seeks out Wolverine believing that all she has left is to kill him and herself. Logan manages to talk her down, but it's implied she has an ongoing battle with severe, if not suicidal, depression, and much of her character arc focuses on putting the pieces back together after all that was done to her.
  • After being savagely beaten to death by The Joker, Jason Todd is resurrected, only to find that not only did Batman not avenge him by killing The Joker, he has also been replaced by Tim Drake as Robin. At this point he completely snaps, and becomes the Anti-Villain Red Hood.
    • This is Victor Zsasz's backstory - after his parents died and he lost the family fortune, he was about to commit suicide only to be interrupted by a homeless man trying to mug him.

    Fanfiction 
  • Occurs a few times in The Lion King Adventures:
    • Simba loses all hope after the death of his parents and the destruction of the Pride Lands in Series Four. He gets over it, though.
      • Similarly, he loses hope again in The End when the Writer kills all of his friends, including the love of his life, Nala.
    • Haiba for a brief while after he murders Tama.
  • In Fallout: Equestria The Massacre at Littlehorn, which involved the slaughter of an entire school of foals, signaled the end of any peaceful solutions to the Great War and sent Celestia over the DEH, stepping down as ruler and letting Luna take over
    • And after the war, Raiders are ponies who have been driven over the DEH by the blasted, inhospitable Wastes, losing all hope in everything and simply becoming agents of the brutality of the Wastelands, killing, torturing, raping, any pony they get their hooves on.
  • In Aeon Natum Engel many people cross the horizon when the Migou sends their ACTUAL Warships (those Swarm ships that is nearly equal to standard NEG Ship? A mere gunboat by Migou Standards), and then the Migou themselves cross this line when Moloch shows up.
  • In The Death Of Princess Luna, Princess Celestia and Luna suffer this; the former suffering this having seen Luna's fake body in the Everfree Forest, and Luna thinking that nopony would save her from her captors planning to execute her. This is all averted when Twilight Sparkle and her friends find and rescue Luna and present her to Celestia, creating a heartwarming and tearful reunion.
  • In the Oneiroi Series, Redcloak rockets past it when his insane daughter rapes and kills him.
  • In the pro wrestling story, A Ring Of Their Own, this is the reason given for Molly Holly's retirement from WWE in 2005 (the story takes place in the kayfabe world) after getting her head shaved at WrestleMania 20 plus the losing streak and humiliation conga she went through afterwards. Only after a substantial amount of arm-twisting from her best friend, Ivory, does she agree to come out of retirement and join the new all-women wrestling company, the FWF.
  • In the Galaxy Rangers fanfic Chrysalis, the Queen of the Crowns shoves Zach over the line. He is Forced to Watch as she tortures his team in front of him and faking an execution of Niko while he is kept in a well-appointed prison. He attempts suicide. She forces her medical staff to keep him alive, explicitly stating that he's not going to do anything unless she wishes it. The final blow is a Battle in the Center of the Mind where she brutally overpowers him by pointing out his failure to save his wife, the League, or his Rangers. To save what little is left of his sanity, he goes into an Angst Coma.
  • In The Second Try, Shinji and Asuka are forced to this line a second time; the latter when going against Arael again, the former when he thinks Asuka is dead. Thankfully, this gets averted both times.
  • Vampire mate bonds and werewolf imprinting are said to be strong enough to cause this in Luminosity. The actual trope is commonly avoided, as the vampire either commits suicide offscreen or becomes The Unfettered, but when Edward thinks that he's lost Bella, all he does is ask to die.
  • The Villain Protagonist of the Mass Effect fanfic The Council Era endured this when he witnessed his wife's death on a news network. As part of his grief, he destroyed his entire clutch, except one, who soon after hatched. When the same soldiers who killed his wife, and were searching for him (he'd gone AWOL) surrounded his home, Tyrin threatened to kill his one hatched child and then himself. There's also a potential Alternate Character Interpretation that his criminal actions in the story are because he's caught in a state of perpetual despair following his wife's death, and is taking it out on the world.
  • In Revenge Road, Hikaru returns to Japan for an audition as a last effort to get Kyosuke to notice her, and then seemingly meets Kyosuke, who appears to have grown distant from Madoka, there. She fails the audition and learns that the Kyosuke she was with was a fake, then snaps and kills Kyosuke and Madoka.
  • Finally crossed by Mao in Code Geass Mao Of The Deliverance after a Trauma Conga Line that would have made anyone else give up a long, long time ago, and which he rides all the way through The Last Dance.
  • In Touhou Tonari this is what happens to Yuyuko when she realises that her power has grown so powerful that it may kill Yukari and it eventually lead to her suicide.
  • The plot of Decks Fall Everyone Dies takes place after the worst possible thing that could happen to the Yu-Gi-Oh! world: the fall of Card Games.
  • In Stars Above, Kagami's going over this line will cause The End of the World as We Know It. In an Alternate Universe, it's already happened.
  • Rainbow Dash comes dangerously close to crossing it in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War, but luckily, Medley manages to snap her out of her Heroic BSOD.
  • Inner Demons: Pinkie Pie and Fluttershy both shoot past it after Queen!Twilight Sparkle cements her Face-Heel Turn by using them in a Sadistic Choice against Rainbow Dash. In Fluttershy's case, it's so bad that she actually attempts to kill herself.
  • Too many to count in The Unity Saga. In fact, the Empire systematically imposes these on a number of Starfleet officers and others.
  • So many characters in Bleach fic Winter War have either crossed the line or are dangerously close, it's almost impossible to keep track. Far too understandable, given the Trauma Conga Line that is their world.
  • Par for the course in A History Of Magic, considering it's a Puella Magi Madoka Magica fanfic, and if all the examples were listed we'd be here all day, so let's look at the one unique one that happened in the post-Madoka world. Homura kills Mitsuko in cold blood after she murdered Madoka's younger brother. Homura could not forgive herself for killing a fellow Magi, and believed herself beyond redemption. Had this been a pre-Madoka world, Homura would have become a witch. For most magi in the post-Madoka world, they'd just disappear. Homura becomes an Angel, a witch who retains her memories of her past life.
  • In another PMMM fic, To the Stars, in the Post-Madoka future during the Battle of Epsilon Eridani the magical girls and the normal human soldiers defending the colony world were brutally savaged by the aliens, and were about to cross the DEH, but avoided doing so when Homura Akemi, ironically, crossed her own: As her Soul Gem was practically pure-black from magic exhaustion, she pretty much resigned herself to die, something she was actually looking to since it means reuniting with Madoka. Except Madoka didn't want Homura to die, and so the latter was denied her wish, which pushed her over the edge, turned her normally angelic wings into dark-twisted wings as seen at the end of PMMM, and practically wins the battle by herself, and goes into self-exile afterwards.
  • In A Growing Affection, Minato's death pushes Gouki from avoiding the ninja world and helping the civilians who live nearby, to deciding to take over the world and enslave all ninjas to his will, so he can force them to put the rest of the world first.
  • A Future of Friendship, A History of Hate: In Episode 5, Scootaloo ends up in a Heroic BSOD after her wish ends up blowing up in her face, at which point said BSOD releases the woebeghoul from the Tear of Covet, and allows it to consume her to power itself on her sorrow while it destroys Ponyville. When she realizes it's all her fault, she crosses the horizon, giving up and even saying it would be better if she was never born. It takes a Big Damn Heroes moment and Rousing Speech from Rainbow Dash to bring her back to normal and together they destroy the woebeghoul.
  • In Chapter 8of Gensokyo 20XX, Yukari's reached this when her search for Ran, Chen, and Flandre left her empty handed, leaving her heartbroken and so upset with herself that not only did she feel she was unable to return to Reimu (to whom she had left behind to make sure she won't be captured) her frozen tears enclosed her in a cocoon of ice and she remained in that state for a couple of chapters, stating she was entombed in her cocoon of ice for a long time.
    • Be noted in said chapter, she also figured Reimu probably died during the time she was searching for Ran, Chen, and Flandre, meaning she felt she had nothing to go back to.
  • Aang and Co. seem to be nearing this after Zuko and Azula attack the Western Air Temple in TheMasksWeWear.
  • L is implied to have crossed this in Story Of The Century by the end: he gets what he set after in the beginning--to solve the case and to have Kira executed--but he loses Watari, as well as the Worthy Opponent he had and the friend he could have had in Light, Misa's friendship, the task force's trust and respect, and of course his own life. A girl he liked leaves him hating his guts so much that her last words to him are a long and vicious "The Reason You Suck" Speech in which she all but outright states that she hates him, and he spends the rest of his days cooped up in HQ all alone. His unusually graceful response to her speech is heart-wrenching, even to her; more so when it's implied that he was already aware of how badly he'd screwed up before she lashed out at him...
    • What makes his reply even sadder is that it sounds like a callback to his declaration when he meets the task force earlier on in canon that Justice Will Prevail and that he would "win the war" in spite of being childish and a sore loser. But this time, he's essentially admitting that the opposite happened BECAUSE he was being childish, just around the time the task force take Erin home and leave him for good.
  • In the Left 4 Dead 2 fanfic "Blind Mans Bluff", Nick very, very nearly crosses this when he believes that Ellis was tortured to death by Jerry. He's in such deep grief over that that he has a brief shutdown.
  • Chapter 14 of Pokeumans largely concerns Brandon crossing this after the death of a very close friend and then slowly coming back over it.
  • In Mega Man Defender Of The Human Race, ProtoMan crosses this post episode 10 due to torture, becoming a shell of his old self.
    • Mega Man crosses it in episode 11, chapter 8, shattered over the trauma he's suffered.
  • In the Slender Man fic By the Fire's Light Jared Holloway despairs of every being free of the Slender Man and ends up taking his life.
  • In the MLP fanfic What Have You Done. Twilight does this after her friends abandon her at the Canterlot Wedding rehearsal but Chrysalis unlike in canon, just leaves Twilight instead of sending her to the caves, seeing as how Twilight was already in the depths of despair. Twilight leaves the wedding dejected frees Discord, and the Mane 6 and Twilight's mother find her Element of Magic pitch black.

    Film 
  • Quoted above: In Trainspotting, Sick Boy, while morally ambiguous, still has his good points. That changes when Baby Dawn, now revealed to be his daughter, dies.
  • In Braveheart, this trope hits William Wallace after he finds out Robert the Bruce has betrayed him. His anger immediately turns into distress and he seems to simply give up, which also later causes Robert to suffer from My God, What Have I Done?.
  • In Return of the Jedi, the Emperor tries his best to push young Skywalker over this, so he will turn to the dark side, by showing the Death Star is still shielded, his friends are going to die, and the Rebels are losing the battle.
  • Perhaps the most heartwrenching example of this trope is the focus of It's a Wonderful Life, in which Jimmy Stewart's entire life is a spiral of quiet desperation which is slowly winding him up...until he finally SNAPS. And it is terrifying.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker gets Harvey Dent to cross this, but doesn't succeed in getting the rest of Gotham City to follow, thanks to Batman winning the escalation war with Joker.
  • The soldiers in 28 Days Later, had apparently crashed over this line before the events of the movie had even taken place.
  • In Lawrence of Arabia, the turning point of the movie is the capture, torture (and implied rape) of the protagonist by the Turks. The cocky, bemused Warrior Poet who believed to be invincible turns into a bitter, grim Anti-Hero after that.
  • In the Monty Python film Now for Something Completely Different: Parodied in the "Marriage Guidance Counsellor" sketch. At the end Mr Peuty, in despair because his wife is making out with the counselor, walks out of the office, whereupon a 16-ton weight drops on him and the caption reads "So much for pathos."
  • Red Dawn (1984). Things are going well for the American guerrillas until several of their group get killed trying to get a downed pilot across the front lines (the pilot also dies). Then one of their group turns out to be a traitor and has to be executed by his friends. A change in Soviet tactics leads to more of them getting killed in an ambush, so they're down to only four people. The leaders of the group, the Eckert brothers, decide to head into their Soviet-occupied hometown and go out in a Bolivian Army Ending, drawing troops into the town so the last remaining two can escape to the US lines.
  • In "Chronicle", Andrew is slowly slipping throughout the film. However, it's not until his mother dies that he truly flies off the handle.
  • Downfall:
  • Penn & Teller Get Killed. The ending. Played straight then Played for Laughs when a prank turns fatal, setting off a string of never ending suicides.
  • In Cloverfield, right after the main character's brother dies on the bridge, you can see the exact moment that his mind breaks and self preservation stops mattering.
  • Gettysburg showed General George Pickett cross this after the failure of his charge.
  • Oh Dae-su of Oldboy crossed his DEH after learning that his lover was actually his long lost daughter, and his mortal enemy had the means to reveal the truth to her with a simple phone call.
    • His reaction to his DEH is hard to watch.
  • The President of the United States in Mars Attacks! has apparently crossed this line by the time he finally gives in to his General's request to fight back against the Martians using nuclear weapons.
  • In Full Metal Jacket, Private Gomer Pyle is driven into a psychotic breakdown both by the original Drill Sergeant Nasty, Gunnery Sergeant Hartman, and by the rest of his platoon, which ultimately leads to Hartman's murder and his own suicide. The moment when Pyle hit the Despair Event Horizon was probably when Hartman found a jelly doughnut in his foot locker just when things were starting to go well for him and proceeded to punish the entire platoon for it, which was then followed by the platoon taking it out on Pyle in the harrowing "blanket party" scene.
  • In the spirit of one upmanship and outdoing the rest of this list, A Serbian Film has Milos have one after learning that he was drugged and made to rape and kill people, including his own son, he was raped himself, and all of it was filmed for a snuff director's entertainment after which we get a Shower of Angst shot with him in the fetal position in the shower. Eventually this leads to him killing himself.
  • In 1408 Mike Enslin's child daughter is brought back to life just to die in his arms and THEN THE BODY CRUMBLES INTO ASH! You can tell he is losing it as he tries to put Katy's "pieces" back together then his face afterwards is just a total emptiness inside, and the room keeps going.
  • The flashback scene in TRON: Legacy. Clu takes over, the Sea of Simulation is poisoned so no more life can come from it, Tron is thought dead, but it's much worse, the Iso Cities are destroyed, and the portal back to the human world flickers out. The brash and cheerful protagonist for the first film clearly died at that point, leaving behind a hollowed-out Zen Survivor.
  • In Black Death, Osmund certainly suffers one of these as a result of his journey.
  • In Thor, this moment occurs for Loki when Odin tells him that he's actually the son of Laufey. This seems to push Loki over the edge, resulting in his bad behavior throughout the rest of the movie and in the subsequent The Avengers.
  • In Burn After Reading, Harry invokes this. Upon Harry entering the house of retired spy Osbourne Cox (as he is having an affair with Cox's wife), he panics and kills another intruder, Chad, who he believes is a spy. Cue Harry developing a Hair-Trigger Temper and distant, obsessive behavior due to paranoia and what he did.
  • Bride of Frankenstein: "She hates me! Like others..."
  • When Atreyu finds the Rock Biter in The Neverending Story , he finds that the Rock Biter's friends have been destroyed by the Nothing, despite the Rock Biter's best efforts. Now he can just sit and reflect how useless all his strength was and wait for The Nothing to overtake him.
    Rock Biter: They look like such big, strong hands, don't they?
  • In The Bay, Officer Jimson experiences this after performing mercy kills on a house full of people infected by isopods, then becoming infected himself.
  • It's not over! Everybody betrayed me! I'm fed up with this world!"
  • Tony Montana crosses it in Scarface (1983) when he realizes that his impulsive protectiveness of his sister Gina caused him to kill his best friend. When Sosa's men kill Gina at the end, he proceeds to go into an Anti-Heroic RROD that (at least in this film) ends in his death.
  • In Speed, Jack almost crosses it when Harry dies in the raid at Payne's house.
  • Averted by Zod and Co. at the destruction of Krypton in Man of Steel. They're obviously crushed by its loss, but expected it and are still functioning. Zod succumbs to the trope at the destruction of Kal's ship, and becomes a Death Seeker immediately.
  • Lord of War: Pay attention to Valentine's face when Yuri makes his final speech. He gets closer and closer to this over the course of the speech and finally crosses when the door knocks.
  • Happens to Zordon of all people in Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers: The Movie, after Ivan Ooze destroys the Command Center and the source of the Rangers' power. Though Alpha-5 gets the Rangers started on the hunt for a new power to fill the void, Zordon never really recovers, plainly stating that Ivan Ooze had won, and dies without ever finding out if the Rangers were successful or not. He is understandably very surprised when the Rangers manage to resurrect him at the end of the film.
  • The main character in Signs gives up his belief in God entirely after his wife is killed in a car accident. He gets it back when the "nonsense" she was saying as she was dying turned out to be important clues.
  • In Cube 2: Hypercube, Sasha, aka Alex Trusk, eventually gives up hope that she can escape the hypercube and completely resigns herself to her impending death. This doesn't stop Simon from murdering her in cold blood anyway.

    Literature 
  • Jake from Animorphs falls into despair when his parents are infested. And then it gets even worse when Rachel and Tom die.
  • High Lord Kevin falls into despair in the Back Story of the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant and renders most of the continent unlivable for centuries with the Ritual of Desecration. Think of it as the fantasy equivalent of a huge nuclear bomb. This solved the problem of the Dark Lord that was winning the war but at the cost of everything Kevin was supposed to preserve. And the Dark Lord turned out to be only temporarily inconvenienced, being immortal and all...
    • Later on the Giants of Seareach meekly let themselves be murdered out of horror over what had happened to some of them.
    • Still later Trell despairs also and commits his own Desecration luckily on a much smaller scale than the original, so the damage is limited. His sanity doesn't survive it.
    • This is a central theme in the Chronicles; it's the chief weapon of the villain, Lord Foul, whose whole objective seems to be pushing every single person in the world over their personal Despair Event Horizon. Indeed, every inhabitant of the Land swears an Oath of Peace which amounts to saying, "No matter what, I will not cross the Despair Event Horizon."
    • Covenant himself comes very close to the Despair Event Horizon at the end of The Illearth War, when High Lord Elena, his daughter, dies in the struggle with High Lord Kevin's specter under Melenkurion Skyweir. Fortunately, Foamfollower is there to pull him back from the edge.
  • In The Great Gatsby, George Wilson goes over this line after Myrtle dies.
  • Denethor in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Return of the King has been sinking into despair for a long time, and finally snaps when Faramir is critically injured during the Siege of Gondor. In his madness, he proceeds to try to immolate both himself and his son on a funeral pyre, but Gandalf and Pippin stop him before he can put Faramir to the torch and Denethor is subsequently burned alive. The book is more explicit than the movie in mentioning one important factor in Denethor's despair: he had long used his own Palantír (seeing-stone) for gathering information, but the Palantír also provided a direct channel for Sauron to break Denethor's originally-formidable determination by showing him the military power of Mordor and (something that's rarely noted) making Denethor believe that Sauron had obtained the Ring.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Fulgrim, Fulgrim's is when, having murdered Ferrus Manus, his sword lets him realize what he has done. His despair is so great that his sword persuades him that suicide is too noble for him — and tricks him into accepting possession.
  • In Warhammer 40,000 Daemon World by Ben Counter when the daemon prince who he thought was Deus ex Machina betrays him and kills his entire army.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: In A Storm of Swords, Catelyn Stark goes into the Red Wedding, having lost her husband, one daughter hostage, the other missing and suspected to be dead and believing two of her three sons are dead. So, when eldest son Robb is cut down before her, she completely fucking loses it, clawing at her face and laughing hysterically even as her treacherous bannermen round on her. When she's later brought Back from the Dead, well... she hates. Constantly.
    • 'Catelyn Stark' did not come back from the dead. Catelyn Stark is dead. All that's left is Lady Stoneheart, and all Stoneheart is is raw, neverending, neverceasing HATE.
  • 1984 is a world that has fallen below the horizon, even if the protagonist doesn't realize it until he is pushed over his own personal rat-related line.
    • Room 101 in general is designed to make someone cross the Despair Event Horizon, by using whatever the person fears most to make them betray whatever is most important to them after first wearing them down with a long period of torture.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander, the obviously suffering Fugis confesses to having lost faith at the death of their captain.
  • The ghosts of all his murder victims attempt to do this to Shakespeare's Richard III before the Battle of Bosworth, conveniently Lampshading it with the phrase "Despair and die." It doesn't really work because Richard is such a Magnificent Bastard as to be beyond all shame.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 Grey Knights novel Hammer of Daemons has an Imperial Guardsman say that many of his comrades "finally lost the will when they" saw Alaric fighting as if a Chaos warrior.
  • For the surviving Hogwarts defenders near the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the Despair Event Horizon is seeing Hagrid carrying Harry's "dead" body.
  • The titular hero in Devdas loses all hope after Childhood Sweetheart Paro marries someone else. Made worse by the fact that it wouldn't have happened if he'd been able to stand up to his father. And it gets worse.
  • Most of the 12th Book of The Wheel of Time is about Rand Al'Thor reaching this point. When he does reach it, he comes within seconds of just wiping out all existence (or as much of it as he can manage, which is a lot as he was enhancing his power at the time) as it is all pointless, in a lovely Nietzsche Wannabe rant. He gets better, and the wise, calm and near saintly Rand that emerges at last seems like The Chosen One to hope for, rather than the only option.
    • It's implied that Rand's Evil Counterpart Moridin crossed this long ago; faced with the idea of Eternal Recurrance, he decided that destroying the world was a kinder fate. Pretty much confirmed in the last book, which shows that Moridin is a full-on Death Seeker who can't bear the though of existing any longer as someone as horrible as himself, and he intends to drag the world down with him. He gets what he sought, but the world is spared.
  • From Oleg Divov's Night Watcher, with a strong helping of Tear Jerker: Igor Dolinsky's lover was turned into a vampire. He didn't know it, and so, vampirism being a STD, he became a vampire himself. This led to a series of strange uncontrollable outbursts on his part, during one of which he raped his wife and tried to start a chainsaw massacre in the town (he was stopped in the nick of time). Realizing that something strange had happened to him, he resolved to combat it by tying himself up in the basement during full moons - and his amazingly dedicated wife helped, causing him to appreciate her more than ever. Only, as his condition got worse, he became alternatingly lethargic or dangerous - and thus tied up - for months at a time, and so wasn't there for her when his wife inevitably became a vampire from the rape too. Eventually, he successfully overcame his vampirism, only to discover that his wife had irrevocably embraced the vampire lifestyle and the only way to save her was to make her a Master, which meant that they would never see each other again, not that she could bring herself to care about him in her present state anyway. "Luckily", he had just enough connections to pull it off, but at that moment he hit the Despair Event Horizon hard and spent days contemplating suicide methods before coming to the horrible realization that he is simply too sane to kill himself, which made things even worse. So in the end he dedicated himself to saving his town from the vampires.
  • In Memory Sorrow And Thorn, this is embodied in the character of Cadrach, who is introduced as a Dirty Coward and thief, but later turns out to have played a critical role in delivering the Tome of Eldritch Lore to the Evil Sorcerer who kicked off the entire "summon the evil Storm King back into the world" plot. He knows this, knows he did the whole thing out of cowardice, and admits that he'd do it again, thanks to his will having been broken by the knowledge contained in that evil book.
  • In Otherland, the suffering endured by the Other, the quasi-AI operating system of the titular network, comes to a peak after Psycho for Hire Dread takes over the system, torturing it to the point where it gives up all hope of preserving itself or its secret, and instead hatches a plot to destroy itself along with all of its tormentors.
  • In Use of Weapons, happens in a rather nasty way to the original Cheradenine in one of the flashback chapters when he discovers what Elethiomel did to his sister, complete with Title Drop for emphasis. It's strongly hinted that the same happened to Elethiomel as well which led to him becoming The Atoner and thus the events of the rest of the book.
  • Before the events of the novel, Ista has already been driven over the DEH by an Accidental Murder, the death of her husband the king, and the weight of the family curse. In Paladin of Souls, We are catching her on the way back, as her madness was miraculously cured at the end of the previous book.
  • Darkness Visible has two notable examples. Most importantly, this is the reason why the leader of the Dark Tide is trying to end the world. He crossed the event horizon when his wife died. Badly. Lewis crosses his own despair event horizon in Hyde Park, when he realises that he will never survive the mental strain of closing all the rogue Thresholds. Being British, he gets on with it regardless, but quite without hope for his own survival. It is only thanks to Marsh getting him to a doctor immediately after his collapse that he lives.
    "The disordered ranks of dark portals went on and on before me, stretching into the grey distance like an unending army. I kept my eyes on the sky, and knew with a crushing certainty that I faced my own destruction."
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Marvin is in Mode Lock for this, and it's Played for Laughs.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero Regained, Miranda is convinced that Astreus, having lost hope, will now fall prey to Hell.
  • At the end of the New Jedi Order, the death of Supreme Overlord Shimrra sends the Yuuzhan Vong species (and particularly the warrior caste) over the Despair Event Horizon en masse, with thousands of warriors committing ritual suicide or kamikaze attacks and the others surrendering to the Galactic Alliance. Oddly enough, this is a positive example of the trope, since it convinced the otherwise-implacable Vong that the war was not worth continuing.
  • Mme. Raquin in Thérèse Raquin experiences this when not only does she know that her niece/daughter-in-law killed her son, but she loses her one and only chance to expose Thérèse's crime.
  • In the second Apprentice Adept trilogy, Fleta reaches this point after being told by everyone she knows that there's no way she'd be allowed to be with her love, Mach.note  Not willing to settle for being Mach's kept woman, she decides suicide is the only answer, going so far as to demand a talisman from Adept Red that would keep her from reflexively changing shape and saving herself. It takes a super-powered Anguished Declaration of Love from Mach to overcome the talisman and save her.
  • Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) ends up fighting a witch who weaponizes this—simply meeting the boy's eyes leaves a priest writhing and screaming. Cain himself ends up fighting to stay sane from an onset of Religious Horror until Jurgen's aura gets in range.
  • In All Quiet on the Western Front Paul crosses it near the end, after he lost all of his friends were in the war. He describes his feelings like this: "Let the months and years come, they can take nothing from me, they can take nothing more. I am so alone, and so without hope that I can confront them without fear." When he's killed not much later, his facial expression is described as "calm, as though almost glad the end had come."
  • Kalthused suffers a preliminary one in Within Ruin, Ankaa's death driving him to abandon his morals and instead orchestrate the death of millions. It gets even worse when Almi and Merill die during Virgil's rescue attempt he fully loses his marbles, embraces dark magic and goes on a murdering rampage.
  • Lennie the sharecropper in Kneel to the Rising Sun by Erskine Caldwell led a miserable existence even before the climax of the story. His family was starving, the brutal landlord had tortured his dog, and his father was eaten alive by swine. However, he well and truly crosses the Despair Event Horizon when the sadistic landlord forces him to betray the only man who had ever really befriended him, and he watches helplessly as the local farmers hunt him down and eventually lynch him. By the end he is reduced to little more than a hopeless shell of a man, sinking powerlessly to his knees as the sun rises before him.
  • The hapless Captain Bebo in Galaxy of Fear: Eaten Alive. Losing some of his crew in a ship crash, others vanishing one by one until only one remains in the single safe place on D'vouran, he tries to warn off visitors to the world but is too grief-stricken and gaslit by the natives for them to think he's anything but mad. Still, he keeps trying - and that last crewmember dying breaks him. It's actually this despair that gets one visitor to take him seriously and hear him out, but when he's done, rather than go with her he gives her the trinket that has kept him safe, and is killed shortly thereafter.
  • During the climax of the Griffin's Daughter trilogy, elf noble Sadaiyo discovers his brother, Ashinji had survived Sadaiyo's beytral (setting him up to be captured by humans who would kill him on the spot or drag him off to be interrogated, then killed). Sadaiyo snaps and tries to kill him then and there, heeless of the fact that A) everyone would know he did it and B) they were in the middle of a battle with the humans.
  • In Jack London's novel Martin Eden, the title character stops seeking fame and fortune as a struggling writer when he sees how the public treats the publication of a suicide friend's poem (the poem is a humongous success btw). His despair is such that he doesn't care when his career finally picks up steam, so he decides to retire early and commit suicide as well.
  • In John Milton's Paradise Lost, none of the devils propose admitting they are in the wrong; one ventures to raise the possibility, only to dismiss it as horrible.
  • In Vikram Seth's novel An Equal Music, Michael spends a long time teetering on the edge of this after Julia tells him to stop bothering her.
  • In John C. Wright's Count to the Eschaton, Ctesibius does not even need guards; he will not attempt to escape. He has despaired since the day his order attempted to take over the world with Golden Goo and failed.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantès is imprisoned in solitary confinement for years, on unclear charges, first hoping that the mistake will be quickly cleared up, then appealing in vain to the authorities, then raging, then praying to an unlistening God... after four years he realizes that he'll never be released. Crossing the event horizon (the author uses another metaphor: thoughts of suicide are like a blue inviting lake which, when you step into it, turns out to be quicksand), he decides to starve himself to death. He carries out this intention until he's lying on his bed weak and nearly dead... when he hears a scratching noise, which turns out to be a fellow prisoner digging a tunnel. This neighbor pulls him back over the event horizon, and turns his thoughts in a new direction: escape and revenge.
    • Several others experience despair horizons of their own during the story: Dantès saves at least two of them at the last minute, but experiences a new despair when his vengeance results in the death of his enemy's innocent child. (He gets better.)
  • More Than This:
    • He went though a lot, but what finally drove Seth over the edge was finding out Gudmund was sleeping with Monica and was never exclusively "his".
    • Seth's mother couldn't get over Owen's death, choosing a simulated reality over accepting it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The Christmas That Almost Wasn't, after the Big Bad Prune buys Prim's Department Store and basically steals the money Santa earned to pay for toys he damaged, deliberately screwing Santa over from paying the rent he owes to Prune, Santa and Whipple stroll listlessly down the street, hoping desperately for a miracle...
  • Firefly:
    • Malcolm Reynolds lost all idealism, along with any faith in God, at the battle of Serenity Valley which meant that the Independent Planets will be unified with and ruled over by the morally ambiguous if not downright evil Alliance.
    • River Tam's dialogue indicates that she has no hope of ever being "normal" again. At one point, she even rails against the drugs Simon is giving her, saying that she hates being able to think clearly because she knows she'll just slip back into madness sooner or later. You can actually see the very moment River breaks in the R. Tam Sessions, in the third video where the "counselor" tells River that her brother "is very busy". She stops, silently nods, then whispers "Yes...." and starts crying. (crack)
  • Halfway through season four of Battlestar Galactica, the fleet discovers that Earth has been destroyed, causing borderline cases of this for many characters, and a full-blown case for both Dualla and Number Three.
  • Series 3 of Torchwood has multiple Despair Event Horizons - as you would expect from a plot that involves the governments of the world caving into an alien race's demands for 10% of the Earth's children. Obstructive Bureaucrat Anti-Villain Frobisher is told by the Prime Minister that, for PR purposes, his daughters will be among the 10% given to the aliens - so Frobisher takes a gun home and kills his wife and children, before turning it on himself. Then Jack, who has just had to watch his boyfriend die pointlessly, realises that there's a way to defeat the aliens after all... but it will mean killing a child. And the only child close to hand is his own grandson, who he is forced to murder in front of his screaming daughter. Safe to say, Jack doesn't hang around on Earth for very long after that.
  • Dead Set. Space agrees to unlock the Diary Room so Kelly can make a futile attempt to fight her way out only after seeing a zombie Pippa (his former girlfriend) hammering on the glass outside.
  • In Spooks,note  Lucas North shuts down when Harry tells him that "Albany", the biological weapon blueprint he betrayed all his friends over, getting his New Old Flame killed in the crossfire as he did so...is a fake. The "express elevator down" option off the top of the building they're on soon follows.
    Harry: Who are you Lucas? Who are you?
    Lucas: ...I'm nothing.
  • Joseph Bede crosses it in the final episode of The Shadow Line. His wife, whose Alzheimer's treatment he intends to pay for with the proceeds from his drug deal, tries to kill herself and is hospitalised. This prompts him to leave his gun behind when meeting Jay, who he already know intends to betray him, which leads to his death.
  • Shiro Kanzaki from Kamen Rider Ryuki goes through this everytime his sister, Yui dies.
  • The DEH rests at the core of Kamen Rider Wizard. Individuals called Gates possess an inner demon called a Phantom, which is held in check by their will to live; crossing the Horizon allows the Phantom to break free into the real world, killing their host in the process. Thus the Phantoms that already manifested try to expand their numbers by forcing Gates past the Horizon while Wizard fights them off and tries to be the last hope for their victims. However, if a Gate comes close to the Horizon but regains their hope through Heroic Willpower, they gain the ability to tap into their Phantom's magical powers and can (with training) become magic-users like Wizard; this happens to three individuals over the course of the series, all of whom become Kamen Rider Mage.
  • Warehouse 13. Quite a few plots are centered around crossing the line, most notably in Reset, where H.G. Wells turns on the agents to put the world into a new ice age, effectively resetting human life. She is stopped at the last second by Myka Bering.
  • Dean Winchester crosses the line in the season 2 finale of Supernatural, after his brother Sam dies in his arms. He ends up selling his soul to bring him back, and after a year is sent to hell. This leads to him crossing the line again; after 30 years of torture he breaks and takes up on Alistair's offer to torture other souls. Ironically, in the Season 5 finale, Dean is the only one of the main characters not to lose hope after Lucifer possesses Sam. Dean still had enough faith in his brother to wade into an apocalyptic showdown and try to get through to Sam. Although to be fair, he made it clear that he had absolutely nothing to lose at that point.
  • A Serial Killer uses this as part of his MO in the Cold Case episode "The Road". A Serial Killer known as John Smith would capture women, seal them in a room in the middle of nowhere, and subject them to Mind Rape. Once they lost the will to live, which he would prove by standing aside and giving them the option of walking out, he would seal them in completely and let them starve. He comments that once someone gives up hope, dying is just a formality. The fact that his last victim didn't cross the Despair Event Horizon really rattles him.
  • JAG: In "King of the Fleas", Roscoe Martin tells the story how had as a POW during The Vietnam War been tricked into revealing the names of the pilot inmates at the POW Camp, and was then forced to watch as the Vietcong executed the rest of them, which had plagued him ever since. Subverted in that after he had killed the camp commander in the present-day (1997-98), he regained hope again, as evidently seen in "The Martin Baker Fan Club".
  • Horatio Hornblower: Young midshipman Archie Kennedy loses his will to live in "The Duchess and the Devil", the third episode of the miniseries. He was horribly tormented and abused by a sadistic bully of a midshipman. He got lost at sea during a stealth raid (his tormentor tried to murder him), and he ended up in Spanish jail. His escape attempts earned him Cold-Blooded Torture in a Punishment Box. When, by some incredible chance, his friend and fellow middie Horatio appears in the very same cell, it brings back memories of his tormentor and he also feels that his life is one big screw-up, compared to the heroic and successful Horatio. When Hornblower insists that they will all try to escape together once he gets better, he doesn't want to. He decides to starve himself to death so that Horatio and his men needn't deal with him. When Horatio realizes what's happening at the last moment, Archie refuses his help. Horatio convinces him that he needs him. He eventually gets better, but it was hard and painful process.
  • House of Cards: Congressman Peter Russo, who's running for Governor of Pennsylvania, has this after the drunken radio interview he gave after Underwood set him up to fall off the wagon with an ex-call girl who owed him favors. He hid from the press and disappeared for a few days, leaving his campaign in limbo, before being found by Underwood who plied him with more liquor and murdered him, making it look like a suicide.

    Music 
  • The Wall by Pink Floyd is just one colossal DEH; the entire album is about a rock star who is constantly hurt within his life, and the mental "Wall" he builds between himself and society. Summed up in the aptly titled 'Goodbye Cruel World', as Pink is having a mental breakdown and going catatonic:
    Goodbye cruel world,
    I'm leaving you today.
    Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.
    Goodbye, all you people,
    There's nothing you can say
    To make me change my mind.
    Goodbye.
  • Rammstein's song "Wo Bist Du" has the narrator crossing the Despair Event Horizon after the death of loved one.
  • Jethro Tull's song "Locomotive Breath" is about a man who has just crossed the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Supertramp enjoys these. Lord, is it mine?, Rudy (arguably), and If everyone was listening are about someone who's on the edge of that horizon, and in danger of going over.
  • Many country and western song, especially Johnny Cash songs Folsom Prison Blues, which is about a man sentenced to life imprisonment and 25 Minutes to Go, of a man who is about to be hanged.
  • "Scarsick" by Pain of Salvation follows a man who grows increasingly frustrated by the various facets of modern society shown to him through television. Eventually, he decides he's had enough and jumps off the roof of a building in an attempt to shock the people around him back to their senses... whether or not this works is left up to the listener.
    • Also, in the same vein, the extra track off "Entropia," Never Learn to Fly, a song where one of the characters decides that dreaming and striving for anything great will only lead to unbearable pain... at least Plains of Dawn had a hopeful point, however brief.
  • Roger Miller's "One Dying And A Burying": One man contemplates suicide to forget the pain of lost love.
  • "21 Guns" by Green Day.
  • The entire premise of Depressive Suicidal Black Metal.
  • "Exitus" by E Nomine.
  • Many of David Gray's songs are either written from the other side of the horizon or are about trying to keep from crossing it, in particular "Holding On".
  • The title track from Black Sabbath's Paranoid.
  • "Dance with the Devil", by Immortal Technique. The protagonist rape a random woman in a dark street to be deemed "worthy" to integrate a gang, then is asked to shoot her as witness. It's his own mother... And they suddenly recognize each other.
  • Van Der Graaf Generator's "A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers" seems to be the self-narration of a man who cross the horizon, and then commits suicide.
    • The non-album single "W", where a man dies of extreme loneliness.
  • Radiohead seem to have built their whole career on this.
  • The Protomen: both Protoman and Dr Light cross this when the Robot Masters drag Proto Man down. Mega Man crosses it when he kills Protoman and discovers how pathetic and self-serving the people he was trying to save were. As a general rule, anyone heroic will either die or cross this particular threshold, maybe both.
  • The song portion of King Crimson's "Starless".
  • "Waffle House" by David Wilcox portrays the titular Real Life restaurant as a haven designed to help its employees cope with whatever depressing event they're dealing with (be it heartbreak, or highway, or some altered state) and stop them from crossing the DEH.
    When it's time that we slow up
    We wrap both our hands around our cup
    And stay until the feeling goes
    As long as there's broken hearts and dreams
    And all of this highway in between
    The Waffle House will never close
  • The entire genres of Funeral Doom and Depressive Black Metal revolve around this trope.
  • A few Iron Maiden tracks. Specially "For the Greater Good of God".
    • Their song "Hallowed Be Thy Name" is their most notorious example, telling the story of a prisoner in death row who is just hours away from his execution; he is at first calm and rationalizing about the upcoming ordeal, but as the song progresses he starts to slowly fall apart until he breaks and starts crying, realizing that he is afraid to die after all.
    Tears fall but why am I crying?
    After all I'm not afraid of dying.
    Don't I believe that there never is an end?
  • The singer's character in Project Pitchfork's "Lament" has apparently crossed this line after being jilted (or his love interest dying, depending on how it is interpreted), and is preparing to off himself. "I lay down here, forever to sleep".
  • The Lost Christmas Eve by Trans-Siberian Orchestra tells the story of a kind, happy man who has pretty much the perfect life. When his wife goes into childbirth on Christmas she dies due to complications, and he also learns that his newborn son suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen and will probably never learn to walk or talk. This causes the man to go through a major despair event horizon. After raging against the heavens he gives his son over to the care of a state-run hospital, and spends the next forty years as a bitter, broken man who hates Christmas.
  • "Cemetery Gates" by Pantera is told from the perspective of a man who is going through a despair event horizon following the death of the woman he loved. For most of the song he is lamenting his loss, and in the final verse he is actually contemplating suicide so he can join her in the afterlife.
  • "Fade to Black" by Metallica is about a man who has lost the will to live. At the end of the song, he commits suicide.

     New Media 
  • Played for Laughs in the RiffTrax of Twilight. Two girls are having a discussion in the high school's cafeteria, when one mentions, "We're talking Olympic sized." Mike Nelson is right on top of it, chiming in, "High school girls discussing wang sizes. We have officially hit rock bottom, gentlemen."
    • And in the 'Trax for The Star Wars Holiday Special, while watching Harvey Korman debase himself in a miserably unfunny sketch, Mike sighs and says, "Well, Nietzsche was right; dead as a doornail."

     Professional Wrestling 
  • Bret Hart's heel turn and reformation of the Hart Foundation was largely based on his growing disapproval of America's failing family values in the wake of Steve Austin's new wave of popularity. It got worse when Shawn Michaels and HHH formed D-Generation X.
  • Austin Aries and Jimmy Jacobs took each other down all because of Lacey. Aries persuaded Lacey to leave her boyfriend and the Age of the Fall, only to have Jacobs lose even more of his mind and take Lacey out of ROH for good.
    • The real damage to Aries was done after he won the feud with Jimmy Jacobs and moved on to Age of the Fall Lieutenant Tyler Black. The fans began to get behind Black after a series of matches against Nigel McGuinness and Bryan Danielson to the point where some of them began to boo A-Double.

     Religion 
  • In Christianity, Despair is one of the original Seven Deadly Sins, being later replaced by the sin of Sloth. In Eastern Orthodox denominations, it is counted as the 8th Deadly Sin, but it is still present in Roman Catholic theology and others, simply considered to fall under the category of Sloth (or simply as a lesser sin). Despair is defined as the loss of faith or hope (ie. in goodness, in God etc.), and thus is more about giving into nihilism or cynicism (esp. as an excuse to stop being good or to ignore evil) rather than simply feeling sad or depressed about anything in particular; it is counted as Sloth because it is considered to be the sin of "giving up", and its corresponding virtue is (respectively) Hope or Diligence.

     Roleplay 
  • In Realms of Hyrule, this was crossed by almost everyone in Hyrule when Kakariko was revived and Prince Regent Logain was killed trying to defend it.

     Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • This is the Chaos God Nurgle's modus operandi: prey upon those who have succumbed to despair and cynicism, especially if this anguish comes from a hideously-disfiguring disease. His victims wallow in self-pity until they fully embrace decay and entropy, find themselves perversely enjoying the experience, and begin worshiping him. In other words, through Father Nurgle you can fall past the Despair Event Horizon and end up Affably Evil.
    • For another Warhammer 40,000 example, this is a significant chunk of the Soul Drinkers' fighting style - you break the enemy's will to fight, and then you can just kill them with ease.
    • The whole idea of Night Lords, whose Primarch coined the space marine battlecry "I fear no evil, for I am fear incarnate" - They are a legion of The Dreaded and just their arrival to a planet is usually enough to cause mass suicides. Then they use orbital bombardment to cover the atmosphere with ash, blocking out the sunlight, jam communication with broadcasts of tortured civilians screaming and go on their hunt.
  • Call of Cthulhu: Investigators (a.k.a. the PCs) wage a never ending war against the Elder Gods, slowly learning more and more of the Mythos. At one point or another, they get a view of what they're fighting, a clear unobstructed view. Those who don't Go Mad from the Revelation typically lose all motivation to fight out of finally understanding how small they really are in this fight.
  • It's implied in some articles about the Dirigible Engine Daystar in Exalted that the Unconquered Sun has crossed it at some point after his Chosen crossed the Moral Event Horizon and the whole world went to the dogs. This is a sign of how bad things have gotten in Creation; the cosmic embodiment of virtue is caught in a spiral of despair and denial.
  • Being that they're both settings about personal horror, crossing the horizon is horribly frequent in The World of Darkness games — so much that many have mechanics for it.
    • Mages use their beliefs and sheer willpower to shape the reality around them. Pushing them over the edge and sending them into utter despair, naturally, has some terrible consequences... If luckynote , their mind (and magic) breaks and the mage becomes a Marauder, who enforces their shattered vision of reality upon the world by existing. If unlucky, they might decide that it is better for reality not to exist at all and join the Nephandi. This process involves ripping their soul inside out.
    • Werewolves have a word for this: Harano. It's the breaking of spirit that comes from the realization that the Wyrm has already won, and anything they would do would be utterly pointless. Werewolves who succumb to Harano lose their connection to Gaia, and worse, their connection to what makes them a werewolf, rendering them a normal human from then on. A few rare lucky souls manage to reconnect with their werewolf side, usually just in time to make a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • In a world full of unwilling monsters, Prometheans probably have it the worst. The universe does not want them to exist. The very earth rejects them and the people are supernaturally urged to hate them. Learning to become human is a very difficult and bitter task, but many see it as a worthy goal to fight for... But many still fall to despair and pursue a very different goal: to become monsters. A Centimanus revels in their inhuman nature and uses their alchemical powers to dissolve and disintegrate.
    • In Changeling: The Lost, crossing the despair event horizon is the reproductive cycle of the True Fae.

     Video Games 
  • Oersted in Live A Live. After being tricked, he finds that everyone has now abandoned him and considers him a demon, his only remaining ally is dragged away to be tortured, and is blamed for the death of said ally who expends the last of his power to set Oersted free. Oh, then he finds out that his best friend betrayed him to this fate because he was jealous. Oh, and the 'Aesop' which has been so far in the game? "Don't lose hope as long as somebody believes in you". That went well. The last person who he hoped believed in him, the princess? After Oersted duels his traitorous friend and kills him, she asks why he didn't come to rescue her (ouch. He did. Straybow only got there first by faking his death and ruining Oersted's life), declares that she loves said traitor, and kills herself. That was the absolute last straw, the severing of his last tenuous tie to sanity. The result? Demon King Odio is (re)born and is bent on destroying humanity.
  • After spending a year in coma and seeing the destruction of the world firsthand, Cid's death in Final Fantasy VI proves to be Celes' final straw, driving her to toss herself off a cliff. She survives by a miracle, and seeing Locke's bandanna tied around a pigeon's wing gives her a new reason to live. This event can be prevented by successfully playing a minigame, but the path of failure is much better writtennote .
    • Several other characters get dangerously close as well. Strago, believing Relm is dead, allows himself to be brainwashed by the Cult of Kefka, although he snaps out of it once he sees that Relm is alive. Setzer, after losing his beloved airship, is found drinking at the bar in Kohlingen, and it takes a Rousing Speech from Celes to bring him around.
  • This is Seymour's motive in Final Fantasy X. After a fairly crappy childhood he hits when his mother (the only person who ever loved him) sacrifices her own life to give him the power to defeat Sin. His despair drives him to plot the destruction of all life in Spira because he sees it as the only way to bring an end to all suffering.
    • It also turns out to be the motive for why Yu Yevon originally created Sin a thousand years ago. Seeing that his beloved city of Zanarkand would be destroyed, he killed every living being in it and used their souls to create an eternal Dream Zanarkand, as well as an all-powerful destructive force (Sin) to provide the power needed to keep Dream Zanarkand alive.
    • And in the sequel Final Fantasy X-2, a Despair Event Horizon is the main motive for its Big Bad, Shuyin, who wants to destroy the world which let him and his beloved die a thousand years ago. To put it in perspective, Shuyin's concentrated despair festered in a hole for a millenia after his death until it reached a point where the only way he could think to end his pain would be to end the world itself.
      • Oh and the whole being forced to watch his beloved die on repeat for a thousand years might have also had something to do with it.
  • It isn't clearly shown onscreen, but the backstory of Tales of Symphonia makes it apparent that Mithos, Kratos and Yuan all suffered this upon the death of Martel, Mithos' sister and Yuan's fiancee, leading the heroes of the ancient world to become villains instead.
    • Kratos arguably claws his way back out of the Despair Event Horizon when he becomes disillusioned and meets his lover, Lloyd's mother, falls back in when he thinks they're both dead, and then claws back out again when he encounters Lloyd later.
    • Zelos spends much of the game near this line, despite hiding it, as his terrible childhood and lonely life gave him little self worth and no friends. Lloyd's friendship and trust helps him recover...until Flanoir where Lloyd either confirms his trust or questions it. The latter sends Zelos over the Despair Event Horizon, and he later commits suicide by cop.
    • The sequel has Alice fall into this when Decus is killed protecting her.
  • Final Fantasy XIII has each of the main characters going over the DEH. Some are more destructive than others.
    • Lightning, in frustration with PSICOM's persistence in hunting down the L'Cie and Hope's ineptitude finally goes over the edge. After what could be considered a "The Reason You Suck" Speech, she inadvertently summon's her Eidolon, Odin, who wastes absolutely no time in attacking Hope. What gives this example a more literal sense is noting that as long as Hope has health remaining, Odin will always target him first in battle.
    • Hope has a number of these. The first starts as a mere lack of will to live. Nothing too major. Then, he gets pushed into a state of Tranquil Fury against Snow after the man saves him, believing he didn't save his mother, marking Snow as irresponsible. Needless to say, Hope and Lightning begin to bond due to their mutual dislike of the man, with the latter unintentionally giving Hope the will to create a premeditated murder plan. Just to add to the blunder, she also give him a Survival Knife. This marks the longest in-game grudge, spanning for at least four chapters. Eventually, he comes to a Rage Breaking Point after fighting a boss, which causes him to explode with anger, blasting Snow off of a roof, leaving him hanging over the edge while Hope attempts to kill him with the same knife given to him. However, this alerts the PSICOM forces looking for them, blast Hope from the roof. This, however, is passed once the man saves his life. His final, albeit short, one is experienced on the surface of Gran Pulse; where Hope finds that the powerful forces of Pulse are too much for him. He goes on a Heroic Self-Deprecation rant, which unlocks his Eidolon, revealing the truth that Eidolons come when you are on your last legs to display your inner strength to you.
    • Sazh spends a good bit of his time with Vanille over the deep end. However, he has one of the more memorable ones in the game. After travelling with the girl, soon becoming rather attached to her; Sazh is confronted by Commander Jihl Nabaat, the woman who was to watch over his Cocoon l'Cie-branded son. The woman then reveals that Vanille was the reason Dajh was branded in the first place, and thus the reason he ended up as a crystal, which causes the girl to run in sadness of the revelation. And Sazh to go after her in a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Soon, he succumbs to the sadness of his son's fate, opting to let his then summoned Eidolon, Brynhildr, kill him. After her defeat, he decides to attempt to commit suicide by pointing his own gun to his temple.
    • Snow has a large one after the first battle with the penultimate boss, who revealed to the group that Serah's Focus was to destroy Cocoon, instead of saving it. Snow becomes nearly catatonic, with both Vanille and Lightning having to help him out of his rut and restore his faith in Serah. Afterwards, Snow's brand was the farthest along to turning him into a Cie'th; as emotional distress increases the speed of the process. Both of these are lampshaded by Fang.
    • Vanille suffers a few of them. A famous one is her breakdown once Fang "remembered" everything, exposing Vanille's lies and her Eidolon. This is pushed to a climax after the battle, where Fang motions to knock Vanille a new one... only to stop and hug her, allowing the girl to cry into her shoulder.
    • Fang suffers two of these in-game. The first is shown when she summons her Eidolon, Bahamut, accidentally after her tirade against the Fantastic Racism Coccon is capable of. Opting to "blast Cocoon out of the sky", she very briefly turns on the group; even drawing her weapon out at them. She suffers a much more emotional, but brief, one after her friends are turned into Cie'th by Orphan's illusion.
  • In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Snow and Noel have both passed the DEH�Snow from the death of Serah, and Noel from both Serah's death and his role in Etro's death.
  • In Fallout, it is possible to send the Master over the Despair Event Horizon by convincing him that his plan to conquer humanity with his Super Mutants is doomed to failure.
    "But it cannot be! This would mean that all my work has been for nothing! Everything that I've tried to...a failure! It can't be! Be! Be! Be...I...don't think that I can continue. Continue? To have done the things I have done...in the name of progress and healing...It was madness. I can see it now, madness. Madness? There is no hope. Leave now. Leave...while you still have hope..."
  • Tales of the World: Radiant Mythology has Kanonno, after her home world, Pasca, was consumed by war and mana abuse despite her efforts as its Descender. She even committed genocide, which led to Pasca's rapid decline.
  • Devil Survivor's Yasuyuki Honda crosses this in the Escape ending. He spends the whole week trying to escape the lockdown so he can see his hospitalized son, only to discover he's too late, and because they broke through the blockade, the whole world's gone to hell. This sends him completely over the edge, and he calls out the 'heroes' responsible in a nightmarishly backwards way, complete with Slasher Smile.
    • Earlier on, Keisuke, already destabilized by a whole childhood of witnessing and suffering bullying, finally snaps when he sees Midori being nearly lynched to death to the people she was trying to save. He spends the following days going Knight Templar and killing anyone that commits any kind of injustice.
  • Kratos from God of War, when Athena tells him that though they implied they would do so, they never actually said they'd let him forget killing his family. They only promised to forgive him.
  • This is the entire premise behind Knights of the Old Republic II, as Revan is revealed to have deliberately subjected his Jedi Knights to brutal, dehumanizing battles until their spirit breaks and they turn to the dark side. Your character is the only person who managed to undergo this treatment and not succumb (you can still be as light or dark as you wish).
  • Before Digital Devil Saga starts, Angel crossed this when her boyfriend died in her arms from injuries sustained in a terrorist attack on his hospital, all due to fear of the new, possibly not even infectious disease she'd been working on finding a cure for.
  • Breath of Fire IV has this in spades.
  • Kane and Lynch revels in this.
  • Hunter, in Darkness, an interactive fiction, plays this one and plays it hard. An early segment has you crawling, cut and bleeding, through a tight space with hundreds of feet of rock above and miles and miles of rock below. The game assures you repeatedly, even as you struggle ever closer to freedom, that this is it—your final resting place. This is where you die. Your light has flickered out and the invisible narrator insists that you will never leave this place, until finally you tear yourself away from the stone gullet and stumble blindly to freedom.
  • Wild ARMs 2: A certain Eldritch Abomination was sealed away "beyond the Event Horizon" in the backstory, and happens to be the source of the protagonist's Super Mode. Said protagonist is pushed to the edge of the Despair Event Horizon midway through, and teeters there for the entire game. After defeating the supposed final boss which involved his Magnificent Bastard commander sacrificing himself to give an Eldritch Location a physical body to kill, he suffers a Heroic BSOD that almost releases the demon. In other words, his despair formed a bridge across the Event Horizon.
  • Dwarf Fortress has this as a fundamental aspect of managing your dwarves. They can become unhappy through a variety of reasons from simply not having any alcohol to drink through to the deaths of close friends or family. Getting a dwarf depressed enough will push them over the edge and cause them to lose their sanity. Depending on several factors this can be anything from a minor nuisance to extremely dangerous. If you're lucky, events can contrive to make this game-ending depending on your fortress design and how close other dwarves are to being over the edge themselves. Indeed, events can (or more usually, do) spiral out of control until your entire fortress is over the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Hiroki in Canvas 2 in regards to painting. Many of the routes actually deal more with helping him get over his problems than helping the heroine.
  • In Dragon Age II, the player can push Fenris over the Despair Event Horizon by agreeing to give him back to the blood mage who had previously enslaved him. He's so gutted by the betrayal that he doesn't even get angry, just bows his head and leaves with the slaver without a fight.
    • Implied with Orsino at the end of the game. Seeing his fellow mages cut down one by one with no hope of surrender, he finally gives in and uses blood magic in a 'taking you with me' type deal. If you're *on* the side massacring the mages, he's downright Laughing Mad as he gives in. If you're helping the mages, the casualties are still too much for him. "Why don't they just drown us as infants? Why wait?"
  • Happens many, MANY times in the Fire Emblem franchise:
    • Seisen no Keifu: Lord Sigurd can hold himself up as well as possible when his wife Diadora is kidnapped, his father Byron is falsely accused of threason and dies, he himself is accused of treason, and bth his sister Ethlin and her husband/Sigurd's Lancer Cuan are murdered. However, the moment he sees that his kidnapped wife was actually mindwiped into marrying Alvis, who once was his sort-of ally, he can only scream in utter horror and betrayal right before Alvis himself burns him to death, and Sigurd's army is decimated shortly afterwards.
      • Sigurd's old friend and companion Tiltyu doesn't fare much better. In the second part of the game we learn that she crossed the DEH after not only being separated of her son Arthur as she and her daughter Teeny are kidnapped back into Freege, but also after being subjected to endless abuse from her sister-in-law Hilda, which finally drove her to sickness and death.
    • Thracia 776: Evayle once was close to this horizon. So much that whatever happened to her ( the Basttle of Barhera), robbed her not only of her husband and children, but of her memories of having ever been Bridget, the lost princess of Jungby and a member of Sigurd's troops. Much to our relief, at the end of the game we learn that some years after the second war of Grandbell, she recovered her memories and reunited with Patty and Faval.
      • Olwen and Misha also were pretty close to it, once they learned about the horrifying child hunts conducted by the Grandbellian empire. They both pulled through it via Heel Face Turns.
    • Fuuin no Tsurugi: The biggest example is King Mordred of Etruria, who completely lost the will to reign and left the government to his advisors (many of them treacherous) after his son and heir, Prince Mildain, died in an accident. And then this is subverted in the end: Mildain actually reappears, having survived the ambush that almost killed him, and is reunited with his father, so we know that Mordred ultimately got better.
    • Rekka no Ken: Eliwood and Nils were both pretty close to cross this, once Eliwood was tricked by Nergal into killing Nils's beloved sister Ninian with Durandal when she was forced into her Dragon form by Nergal himself.
      • Renault did cross it several years ago, when his partner and best friend was killed in battle. He was so utterly shattered that he threw himself into battle blindly (and killed Lucius's dad in the process) and collaborated with Nergal in hopes to have his friend revived, among other things. He recovered a part of his sanity, however, and became The Atoner in the end.
      • And then we have Harken, an Ace who was throughly broken after being the Sole Survivor of Lord Elbert's decimated crew. We meet him as a powerful enemy whom the Pherae charas must recruit as soon as possible lest he fights them to death, and his supports reveal how the horrors he witnessed and the helplessness he felt drove him into becoming an Empty Shell of the man he once was. For worse, some other supports (pecifically, with Marcus) heavily imply that he had severe self-esteem and abuse/abandonment issues before the whole Break the Cutie deal.
      • When we meet Lord Hausen, the old man has crossed the DEH since he has learned that his long-lost daughter (Lyn's mother) is dead, his health is failing more and more (and he's being poisoned), and his brother Lundgren is taunting him endlessly about all of it. He's going to succumb to Death by Despair by that point. But when Lyn reaches for him, he manages to come back.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones: Prince Lyon never was the most self-assured person, despite his Badass Bookworm status and being the Imperial Prince of Grado. (His weak health didn't help either.) But then his beloved father and idol Emperor Vigarde died of illness, so the poor guy's mental health took a BIG nosedive.
    • Then Lyon's advisor, Knoll actually managed to return from the DEH, having witnessed Lyon's fall into despair and then having been slated for execution. Ephraim and Duessel reach for him in the nick of time, and Knoll decides to join them and do what he can to help save Grado.
    • In the Archanean Saga, Prince Hardin of Aurelis, now Emperor Hardin crossed the horizon when he learned that while Princess Nyna cared for him, she didn't romantically love him and only accepted to marry him for the sake of Archanea, This led him to locking himself in his personal room alone drowning his sorrows on drinks, until Gharnef disguised as a merchant offered him the Darksphere, and turns him into a megalomaniacal tyrant, setting off the events in Book 2 with Hardin himself as the Big Bad. His Famous Last Words are pretty much a Final Speech in which he begs Marth for forgiveness and begs him to apologize to Nyna in his stead for having been weak enough to give into the corruption of the Dragonsphere.
      • By the end of the saga, Nyna herself has crossed it too. Not just because she has lost both Camus and Hardin and was this close to be a Human Sacrifice (alongside Maria, Lena and Elice), but because, well, her life has been made of suck because of her position as the Princess of Archanea. It's next to no wonder that she pretty much disappears and leaves Archanea to Marth after all is said and done.
  • Persona 2's Nyarlathotep actively tries to force everyone in the game who raises a hand against him over the edge. Eldritch Abomination + A Form To Actively Horrify You + Hannibal Lecture + "The Reason You Suck" Speech = this trope. The heroes' actions might make all his effort worthless...
  • In Dante's Inferno, Dante's will is steadily broken as he goes deeper in Hell and he is forced to face the many sins he committed in life. When a corrupted Beatrice calls him out on his misdeeds and betrayal of her trust, he falls to his knees and gives up on trying to redeem himself, deciding that he deserves to be trapped in Hell.
  • In Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Gabriel crosses it right after a moment of utter triumph when he kicks Satan's ass when he sees that Marie is about to leave for the afterlife forever and that he cannot go with her. Realizing that the hope he believed in was hollow, Gabriel collapses and cries silently. Even centuries later, he has not recovered. As the immortal Dracula, all he does is hide in shadows while longing for a death that may never come.
  • Shadow the Hedgehog can fall into this during certain endings of his titular videogame (i.e. discovering he is an android, believing he is an experiment gone wrong). However, other endings he'll completely avert it. Ironically, no matter what happens, he will always end the story by saying "This is who I am."
    • Besides the Last Story, which he says "Goodbye, Shadow the Hedgehog."
  • King's Quest III explains that King Graham passed this when Rosella (his remaining child) was picked for the annual Human Sacrifice to the dragon plaguing Daventry. This is why it falls to "Gwydion" (aka the lost Prince Alexander) to rescue her and the kingdom.
  • BlazBlue: Continuum Shift Extend: During Makoto's bad ending, Relius Clover's prolonged and precision-guided Mind Rape slams Makoto Nanaya across the despair event horizon at terminal velocity - the earliest symptoms of this are her lack of will to move or even speak, and she eventually fades into oblivion as he begins to rewrite her soul for his own use.
    (I... need to save... Tsubaki... but... I feel like I... like I don't... have... anything...)
    • Terumi feeds on others' despair to survive. He happens to be very good at causing this to extraordinary levels in almost everyone, and does exactly that, even if it's just for his own amusement. Every single ending, except his own, ultimately is a Heads I Win, Tails You Lose situation for the character. He uses his abilities to turn Noel, the girl who is loyal to him and falsely believes him to be a force of good, into a sobbing wreck of self-loathing and hatred.
    • His Motive Rant, which is delivered after said Heads I Win, Tails You Lose situation sums up that he thinks everyone who have crossed the Despair Event Horizon are the only honest people, everything else are lies, those who believe them are liars and he's willing to make his own brand of truth of "Everyone, cross the Despair Event Horizon" to become the accepted truth in the world.
  • Gerald Robotnik crosses this hard in the Last Story of Sonic Adventure 2 when he finds out about Maria's death.
  • At the beginning of Act IV in Diablo III, everyone in Bastion's Keep who isn't dead following Leah's death and Diablo's resurrection as the Prime Evil at the end of Act III comes damned close to crossing this. Haedrig, the blacksmith who's followed you faithfully throughout the game, comes probably the closest to it:
    Haedrig: I thought I could make my wife's death mean something. It doesn't matter now, does it?
    Player: It does matter. You are here now, and we might still turn the tide of this battle.
    Haedrig: Right. I'm sure that's a comfort for Leah now that she's gone too. I've been a fool. You don't get to make things right. This world isn't made for redemption.
    • In addition, the angels of the High Heavens have also fallen to despair as a result of Rakanoth capturing Auriel, the Archangel of Hope. Only by killing Rakanoth and freeing her do you restore hope to both the angels and everyone else.
    • New material for the Diablo franchise reveals that Prince Aidan aka The Warrior from the first game went over this when he discovered that in killing Diablo, he killed his baby brother Albrecht, and saving Albrecht had been his driving goal. This may have driven him to jam Diablo's Soulstone into his forehead, an action that he probably would not have done otherwise!
  • Spec Ops: The Line - Walker goes through one at the end of the game when he realizes that he was hallucinating the villain, John Konrad, he slaughtered a U.S. Army regiment, and that he has doomed the entire city of Dubai to die slowly of dehydration. The rest of the squad goes through one much earlier after they unknowingly use white phosphorus on a refugee camp.
  • In I Miss the Sunrise, a lacertian man named Chac seems to have passed this; he was the lone survivor of a ship that was wrecked by the Shine, and is wracked with survivor guilt. In addition, he lost both his wife and his legs. Turns out he hasn't quite passed the brink; though it takes a Herculean effort, his sidequest involves bringing him back from the event horizon.
  • In Odin Sphere, when Oswald learns that Gwendolyn handed over the ring Titrel, which he'd given to her as a wedding gift, over to her father Odin, he takes it to mean that she does not love him and is trapped in their marriage. Given that Oswald had latched onto the possibility that Gwendolyn might love him as his last hope in the world, the thought that she has no feelings for him drives him so far into despair that he lays down his sword and lets the Halja drag him off to the Netherworld. Fortunately for Oswald, he's mistaken about Gwendolyn's feelings, and she promptly dons her battle tutu and storms the Netherworld to get him back.
  • This is what motivates Wolf to become a robber in PAYDAY: The Heist. According to his backstory, Wolf lost his job when the economic slump hit, his last client refused to pay him for his work, and he and his family became homeless. It was enough to send Wolf over the edge to the point where he suffered a mental breakdown and started to act out based on famous heist movies.
  • In the fourth expansion of World of Warcraft, Garrosh Hellscream nuking Theramore, counts as a Despair Event Horizon for Jaina Proudmoore, and altough Kalecgos saved her from becoming a Woobie Destroyer of Worlds, it was nonetheless the beginning of a chain of events which led her to become a Fallen Hero.
    • According to his own words, Archduke Benedictus fell across the line during Deathwing's attack on Stormwind.
    • The Sha of Despair is the Elemental Embodiment of this trope. Anyone who is affected by it loses all hope to live. The effects are shown in the Temple of the Red Crane and Zhu's Watch.
  • Happens to just about everybody - except you - in the Demon Path of Soul Nomad. But not before they go insane and/or die horribly.
  • Perfectio of Super Robot Wars Destiny and consequently Second Super Robot Wars Original Generation has a wave that will cause anyone who gets hit with it cross the horizon, due to his sheer power, malevolence and the fact that he's just plain impossible to kill off permanently. It does help that he himself is an Eldritch Abomination by nature. And usually when these people were despairing, he would feed on those emotions and make himself even more powerful.
  • In Suikoden V, the Prince will hit this at the end of the game if you recruit less than 60 Stars of Destiny; He wanders off into the frozen mountains, utterly broken by his experiences.
  • In Mass Effect 3, Tali suffers one if you allow the geth to wipe out the quarians. She throws herself off a cliff, and there is absolutely no way to stop her.
    • Conversely, Legion suffers this if you choose to save the quarians at the expense of the geth, in fact, Legion decides to try and kill Shepard out of hopeless spite, but Tali shoves a knife in his back and saves Shepard while Legion dies.
    • As implied by the dreams, Shepard seems to be running out of hope of ever defeating the Reapers. Played straight in the Extended Cut, Shepard can choose to not use any of the Catalyst's options. That choice concludes with everyone in Shepard's Cycle being killed or harvested by the Reapers.
    • Likewise, choosing to sabotage the genophage cure will cause Wrex to withdraw all krogan support from the fight against the Reapers and confront Shepard, which ends about as well as can be expected.
    • The krogan species as a whole is suffering from this - since their culture has a heavy focus on the idea that Might Makes Right, their defeat in the Krogan Rebellions due to the genophage has led them to view themselves as not even worthy of survival, and as a result they've degenerated into internecine warfare and mercenary work and don't put all that much effort into trying to cure the species-wide stillbirth plague.
    • Your clone, when Brooks abandons them in the Citadel DLC. If you take the Paragon option and try to save them, they flatly refuse to take your hand and simply...let go of the Normandy's ramp. Hundreds of feet above the Citadel streets.
    • Gavin Archer, if you took the Paragon choice at the end of the Overlord DLC and then fail to save Grissom Academy.
    God be with you, Commander Shepard. He was never with me. [gunshot]
  • In the prequel comic to Injustice: Gods Among Us, Superman's Moral Event Horizon was caused by this when he accidentally murders Lois Lane and his unborn child thanks to some Kryptonite-laced Fear Gas. Oh, and Lois was hooked to a detonator to a nuclear bomb that went off when her heart stopped beating... taking out Metropolis. The ones who did this? The Joker and Harley Quinn.
  • In The King of Fighters, Leona Heidern has spent years in the border of this after she killed her parents and townspeople under Goenitz's More than Mind Control, with only a big dose of Trauma-Induced Amnesia and her life as a soldier holding the rests sanity. When she actually recovers her memories of this, she's almost fully crosses the line and then becomes Orochi Leona. Fortunately, her True Companions Ralf and Clark are there for her, so they manage to bring her back.
  • In Ib, Ib herself suffers this in two of the endings. If you do extremely poorly and then fail the Doll Room event, you get the "Welcome to the World of Guertena" or "A Painting's Demise" endings, in which Garry has been driven insane and Ib, though she tries, is unable to do anything about it. This leads to her collapsing in despair and never getting back up again, despite Mary's attempts to get her to wake up.
  • Dwayne crosses it in Grand Theft Auto IV if you decide to kill him in the mission "The Holland Play". It has been established that Niko is the only person he can rely on, and the closest thing he has to a friend. Realizing that Niko has decided to kill him pushes him past the event horizon. While most of the characters that you execute in the course of the game have to be chased down and cornered, Dwayne just turns his back and waits for Niko to end him. Thankfully, there is a much better alternative.
  • Elizabeth crosses it in Bioshock Infinite in the Bad Future that results from her being recaptured by Songbird. In Comstock's attempts to get her to take up his mantle, she is tortured both physically and mentally, but holds on to hope that Booker will rescue her. However, he doesn't, and Elizabeth is convinced that he abandoned her; in reality he was stopped and probably killed by Songbird. With nothing left to hope for, she goes full on Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds and accepts the role of Comstock's successor, sending Columbia into war-preparations and subjecting any dissenters to a Mind Rape that transforms them into easily-manipulated lunatics. And when she realizes why Booker didn't save her, all her attempts to try and stop the monsters she's created fail. It's only through the intervention of the Luteces that can she find the will to prevent this future from ever occuring with the help of another version of Booker, and even when this plan comes to fruition, Elizabeth still can't see any hope for herself.)
  • If Ethan Mars of Heavy Rain fails to save his son Shaun at the end of the game, he will fall into this, ultimately leading to suicide. It doesn't help things that his other son, Jason, was killed near the beginning of the game.
  • In Skies of Arcadia this ends up happening to Ramirez after his mentor figure Galacian is killed. This leads him to bring down the Rains of Destruction and destroy the whole planet instead of conquering it, reasoning that Galacian was the only one who could save the world.
    • As a bonus Galacian is killed because one of his subordinates, Belliza, crosses her own DEH after realizing that he will always be a power-hungry tyrant and never reciprocate her feelings towards him.
  • In NieR: Replicant the eponymous protagonist gets hit with this HARD in the end of the first half of the game when he completely fails to save his sister from the Shadowlord and is forced to sacrifice one of the only true friends he's ever had for a hollow victory against a Shade. This destroys the bubble of hopes and dreams he was trying to create for him and sister and turns him into an embittered and murderous Blood Knight who revels in killing Shades as an outlet for his anger and despair while trying to get his sister back.
  • Sonic hits this in Sonic Lost World. Despite continuing on, he's incredibly affected as everyone seemingly drops like flies thanks to his bull-headed stunt that lead to the Deadly Six breaking free: his world has been sucked dry, Amy and Knuckles been hit with it, Tails captured by the villains and, for extra measure, he's forced to watch Eggman, Orbot and Cubot plunge into lava. He almost seems resigned when he sees Tails turned into a cyborg of sorts until he reveals he's still in control and not a robot. Eggman even returns, ready to reclaim his victory and, at the end, everyone's revived. For such a bright and colorful game, it's probably also one of the darkest.
  • Cody Travers from Final Fight and later the Street Fighter series. While it is not actually seen in the games, multiple games tell the story of his downfall, which occur after the ending of the original Final Fight. Cody and his friends go out to save his girlfriend from the Big Bad in Final Fight. On the way, he beats up a corrupt cop named Edi, who later arrests the hero for assault in battery. Next, his girlfriend dumps him, and leaves the country to study abroad. Afterwards, he is let out of jail and tries to get revenge by fighting criminals outside. He gets arrested again, and becomes addicted to fighting within prison. He then eventually breaks out, and joins the Street Fighting cast in their tournament(s). After all these events, he usually claims that he will never be the hero again, and often states that all he has left is fighting (which he often exclaims is pointless).
  • Schala Zeal of Chrono Trigger is left so broken in sadness and despair she willingly resigns to her fate of being trapped in the Dream Devourer. Not even her brother's will to save her lifts her spirits, infact his lust for power to that end only makes it worse.

    Visual Novels 
  • Fate/stay night has a couple of primary examples:
    • In the backstory, Kirei Kotomine crossed the Despair Event Horizon after the death of his wife Claudia, abandoning his attempt at living a 'good' life and fully embracing the fact that he can only feel happy through hurting others.
    • Archer crossed the Despair Event Horizon after being betrayed by everyone he ever knew and finally, his own ideals. This leads him to try to kill Shirou, his past self and living embodiment of his misguided ideals, at any cost. In the end, he is beaten by Shirou despite being the superior opponent, his acknowledgment that those beliefs were not so mistaken after all.
    • Finally, Shirou goes through this in the Heaven's Feel route. He gives up on his ideals to save Sakura, who happens to be eating people and is about to turn into a world destroying monster. He's not one to sit around, though, so he just takes up another cause with gusto.
      • He permanently crosses the horizon in one bad ending when Rin kills Sakura. He abandoned his dream to protect Sakura and failed to do even that, leaving him with nothing to live for.
    • Sakura also crosses this line somewhere in the final battle against Rin, most likely around the time when she gives Rin her speech about how much her life had sucked. Rin then responds with, essentially, "tough shit", sending her nuts. Depending on the player's choices, she either follows this up by capturing and torturing Rin via making her experience the HELL she went through, or by being saved by her utter despair at (seemingly) killing her sister immediately after Rin finally realised that she couldn't bring herself to kill Sakura after all, and instead hugged her.
  • In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, this is hinted to have occurred to Yasu / Beatrice after realizing that Battler will not come back to the island. S/he instigates the murders that occur on the island and throws away everything for a chance of a miracle and make Battler realize his sin.
  • Kohaku of Tsukihime also crosses the Despair Event Horizon after being raped several times by SHIKI and his father in order to stop their inversion impulses and becomes utterly broken, as revealed in the Far Side routes.
  • Keisuke's death in Togainu no Chi is this for Akira on Shiki's route. Even though he still puts up a bit of a fight against Shiki, it's nowhere near the same defiance he had before. He also doesn't care whether he lives or dies and decides that whatever happens to him is punishment for killing Keisuke.
  • Thee Bad Endings of Katawa Shoujo imply that, if the player takes the wrong choices, the girls might reach this extreme. Some examples are: Rin's bad (where she and Hisao have a terrible fight and she ends up alone in her atelier) and neutral (in which she accepts a scholarship in Tokyo but at the cost of breaking all bonds with Hisao and everyone else) endings, Shizune's bad ending (with Misha reaching it first via asking Hisao to sex her up due to her hidden loneliness, and then Shizune following when she breaks up with Hisao thinking that she is ruining his and Misha's lives — and the last view of her that he has is Shizune sitting all alone in the stairs), and Hanako's bad ending (with her blowing up at Hisao as she realizes that he and Lilly only view her as a child whom they have to protect, thus breaking her already smashed self-estreem and making her splinter)
    • Subverted in Lilly's Good Ending. How so? After failing to catch up with Lilly at the airport due to an inconveniently timed heart attack, Hisao realizes that he has lost Lilly for good and falls into despair. He snaps out of it once he finds the music box he gave her next to his hospital bed, signifying the fact that she never actually left.
    • Aso, if the beta that was leaked a while ago is to be believed, Hanako's Bad Ending would've had her killing herself in front of Hisao (via jumping in the path of a train after their last talk) instead of blowing up at him. And for worse, Shizune's path would've had two possible DEH crossings: Misha throwing herself in front of a car on Shizune's range of view after the Sex for Solace scene... followed by Shizune falling into catatonia, with two possible options for Hisao-as-the-player: helping her regain the will to live, or being unable to stop Shizune's Death by Despair.
  • Junpei goes through this in most of the Bad Endings of 999, but none more so than in the "Submarine Ending," right before he gets killed.
  • Danganronpa's Monokuma/Monobear is all about bringing DESPAIR, and pushes the buttons of his victims in order to try and drive them over this and to murdering one another. (And personally executing them if they do kill and are caught.) He succeeds in the case of Sayaka Maizono, an Idol Singer with hidden insecurities who freaks out massively after she's shown a video where she's told that, if she doesn't "graduate" of Hope's Peak via killing others, she'll be abandoned and forgotten; and is this close to succeed too with Aoi Asahina, a sweet sportswoman whom he manipulates into getting everyone framed for the murder of her best friend Sakura. The other students manage to bring her back.
    • Kiyotaka Ishimaru comes damn close to the DEH after the execution of Mondo Oowada, his best friend. He is murdered shortly afterwards.
    • The Good Ending of the game is all about Naegi picking up his Messianic Archetype ID and actually keeping the remaining students (Asahina, Kirigiri, Togami, Fukawa and Hagakure) from reaching the DEH at the hands of Monobear... or better said, Junko Enoshima, who is the one behind him. He actually screams "YOU MUST NOT LOSE HOPE!" at them while Junko eggs them to cross the DEH. Alternatively, in the Bad Ending, after Kirigiri's execution the five remaining kids (or four, since Fukawa has died) have crossed it but insist they're living happily in the Gilded Cage that Hope's Peak is for them, alone in the world save for themselves and their children...
  • Little Busters: Riki passes this at the end of Rin's route in the timeline where he and she run away together. Rin's been taken away from him forever, passing a Despair Event Horizon herself offscreen, and his best friends and only family - especially Kyousuke, whom he used to look up to more than anyone else - have proven themselves untrustworthy. Thankfully, Kyousuke is able to reset this timeline, though the consequences were so extreme that it has much a much bigger effect on later timelines than any other.
    • Not to mention that the whole plotline happened because Kyousuke was convinced that the bus crash killing him and the others would push Riki and Rin over it, such that he was willing to do anything at all that might make them strong enough to withstand it and not give in to despair.
  • Higurashi no Naku Koro ni: Rena crossed this in her backstory, after her mother revealed she was leaving her father for another man (whose child she was carrying), and after a subsequent (heavily implied) rape attempt by three of her male friends, leading to a berserk rampage. This leads to an attempted suicide.
    • She also appears to cross one in the Atonement Arc, around the time she starts believing her friends - specifically Mion - are working against her. Unfortunately, it serves to fuel her growing madness.
    • Rika and Hanyuu are revealed to have spent the majority of the story this way; after centuries of failure, Rika eventually gave in to her fate of dying in June 1983, and stopped trying to fight it.

    Webcomics 
  • In Keychain of Creation, an Exalted webcomic, this is canonically how Abyssal Exalted get created, as shown in Renegade Deathknight Secret's backstory flashback. Her entire village is killed by a demonic plague, she's deathly ill, and just as she's given up all hope of living, the Neverborn show up and offers her Exaltation in exchange for servitude.
  • Bittersweet Candy Bowl, Lucy when she thought Mike died and shortly after, when she finally confessed her love for him and he rejected her. The first one came with Dissonant Laughter.
    • Chapter 63 is getting sadder and Lucy looks about at the horizon here. She was okay, then Mike ignored her existence. Now...
  • In Homestuck, Eridan crosses both this and the Moral Event Horizon in the same scene. He gives up any hope of beating Jack and defects to his side, killing off his unrequited love interest AND his species' only hope for revival in the process. This makes his Sgrub title, Prince of Hope, rather prophetic- it was later explained that "Prince" roughly translates to "Destroyer."
  • Trudy crosses this in General Protection Fault after seeing Nick, (whom she had loved) propose to Ki, which Ki accepts. She had been starting to regret her actions, but this pushes her even further, and she attempts suicide in the next arc in which she appears.
  • In Goblin Hollow, this is what happens to Penny's best friend, who sadly, is swallowed by the Horizon.
  • True Believers has Spider-Man lose his wife, his home, and his job at the Daily Bugle all in the first 11 pages. As a result, he asks Dr. Octopus to kill him. Unfortunately for him, Death Is Cheap in the Marvel Universe, so not even murder can end his suffering.
  • In Sinfest,
  • The Order of the Stick has Vaarsuvius crossing the line after realizing the true extent of his/her earlier Moral Event Horizon.
  • In No Rest for the Wicked, Claire's Dark and Troubled Past has brought her to the state that she does not even care that the villagers, looking for The Scapegoat, will Burn the Witch! because they think she killed her children.
  • Very nearly everyone with a speaking part in Gone with the Blastwave, though it doesn't manifest in quite the usual way. Rather than some grand gesture like falling into an Angst Coma or being Driven to Suicidenote , they've all just become desensitized to the constant bloodshed and are operating on some sort of Heroic Safe Mode.
  • Matt from Hodges Pond came pretty close to crossing it in this strip.
  • Anna Enfield's from ''Sire' lead a fairly troubled life which took a sharp turn when the sister that she shared a body with used it to murder their beloved uncle. Having seen herself kill someone she loved and knowing that her Hyde half could not do that unless she desired it, Anna turns a knife on herself and tries to commit suicide.

    Web Original 
  • Surprisingly enough, Ganondorf went over this in There Will Be Brawl upon finding the pure evil that is Ness and Lucas. He questions how heroes can even exist when such evil does.
  • As the end of Pokecapn's legendary Sonic the Hedgehog (2006) Let's Play approaches, the players themselves slowly slip towards and eventually cross the Despair Event Horizon; this is signified by Kung-Fu Jesus chanting song lyrics in monotone.
    • "Because it's Thriller. Thriller night. And no one's gonna save you from..."
  • In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Dr. Horrible crosses the Despair Event Horizon after his death ray backfires in Captain Hammer's hands and the shrapnel kills Penny.
  • Happens a lot in Survival of the Fittest, more often than not later in the game, but given the premise, is it really that surprising?
    • For example, Jacob Charles quickly shoots into this zone after his girlfriend is killed right in front of him, leading to him attempting suicide. Read it here.
  • Happens to cup in Channel 101's "2 girls, 1 cup the show". Unlike most of the cases in this page, the result is hilarious.
  • Oancitizen of Brows Held High is driven to this in his Ken Park review. Genocide ensues.
  • Discussed in Freeman's Mind.
    "But yeah, I was expecting to look down there and see this giant eyeball looking up at me, angry at me because I blew off its eyelashes or something, then the whole building starts shaking and I guess I'd� ball up and cry, because what do you do when something that big wants to kill you?"
  • In Funny Business, Jeannette crossed this trope in a flashback after realizing that she had abused her Reality Warper powers as a toddler, to cause real harm to people and has remained in this state for more than seven years.
  • In Worm, Taylor crosses it after failing to prevent The End of the World as We Know It and witnessing the devastation caused by Scion's rampage, which killed her father. She would have killed herself if not for Tattletale.
    • At the climax of the story, Taylor invokes this against Scion by taking away his hope of reuniting with his counterpart, and he allows himself to be killed.
  • Yahtzee was on the receiving end of this trope during his Spec Ops: The Line review. Unlike most of his foul mouthed, harsh and fast paced reviews, this one was restrained and it gave off the feeling that the game broke him.
    Yahtzee: *weary sigh* Remember when shooters were about killing demons from hell? Those were good days. Perhaps this is an inevitable part of gaming growing up as our childish fantasies are torn from us, and we are forced to confront consequences in an unfair, uncaring and unavoidable world of hatred, misery, and death. *Farting noises.*
  • Atop the Fourth Wall's Jaeris crosses it when he discovers that You Can't Go Home Again. What followed was him Drowning His Sorrows for months on end.
    • This was also parodied when 90s Kid saw a scene of Superboy Prime killing a pregnant Lana Lane in an alternate universe. That seen was so un-radical to him, that he didn't think he could ever be hardcore again after seeing something like that. Fortunately it just takes a comic by Rob Liefeld to get his spirits back up.

     Western Animation 
  • An Alternate Universe in Superman: The Animated Series showed a demoralized Supes enslaving Metropolis alongside Lex Luthor because he couldn't save Lois Lane from a car bomb.
    • Similarly, in Justice League, Flash's execution by President Luthor led to another alternate universe's Justice League becoming the Justice Lords.
  • In Batman Beyond, after getting a second chance at living a normal life, Mr. Freeze is betrayed by Derek Powers when his body begins to deteriorate back to requiring sub zero temperatures. It's around this point that he's crossed the line and eventually chooses to stay behind when the building is collapsing on top of him. His last words in the episode? "Believe me, Batman, you're the only one who cares..."
  • The Beast crossed it years ago when his selfishness caused not only his own curse, but also led to his servants being punished with him. Belle helped him pull himself back across the threshold only to cross it again when he's forced to release her to save her father.
  • Moral Orel. Nature. Clay shoots Orel in the leg and leaves him bleeding in the woods for a day. It's when the show officially shifts from comedy to a massive character study.
  • Danny Phantom saw his friends and family die right in front of his eyes. What comes as a result? A completely psychotic ghost who goes on a literal roaring rampage (not of revenge). He's the only villain on the show to have been seen to commit murder.
  • Hardy Har Har the hyena from Lippy The Lion And Hardy Har Har was born like this.
  • During the Time Skip in Young Justice, Aqualad went through this when Tulla, the girl he loved, died during a mission with the team as Aquagirl and when he discovered Black Manta was his biological father and that Aquaman knew and hid it from him. Feeling betrayed by everyone in his life, he went to the only place he felt he could belong: at his father Black Manta's side. In "Depths", this is revealed to be a cover story for his Fake Defector status.
    • This incident was a big shock for the rest of the team too. Wally Artemis and Garth retired from heroics, causing them to bring in new heroes and change the line up, they brought in Mal to act as a constant mission control, and everyone else became very cautious and serious compared to the first season, their feeling of invincibility seemingly shattered.
  • In Adventure Time, Billy, an aged hero, reaches this after years of fighting evil proved futile, as the bad guys just kept coming back. As a result, he becomes an example of I Will Fight No More Forever, feeling violence didn't help solve any problems.
    • Finn almost crosses this in "Dad's Dungeon," after he's convinced that Joshua, his adoptive father, doesn't love him. He's about to commit suicide by eating a poisoned apple, but Jake saves him at the last minute.
    • Baby-Snaps crosses this in "Princess Cookie," after Princess Bubblegum giggles at his childhood dream of being a princess. He tries to commit suicide.
    • A more humorous example was used in "Crystals Have Power," when Jake makes a vow of non-violence after accidentally hurting Finn and his brother Jermaine, and becomes a complete wuss.
  • In The Legend of Korra, Korra hits this after Amon takes her bending away. However, this actually is what she needed to unlock her spiritual side which connects her with Aang allowing him to restore her bending and unlock the Avatar state.
    • Tarrlok also reaches this point after he has a My God, What Have I Done? moment and realizes that him and his long-lost brother, Amon (born Noatak), have become the same evil monsters that their abusive father wanted them to be.
    • Korra hits the event horizon again in season 2 after her uncle, having been transformed into a twisted version of the Avatar himself, rips the light spirit Raava from Korra's body and actually succeeds in bringing the Avatar cycle to an end. Tenzin manages to drag her back, but it's a narrow thing.
  • In Teen Titans this happens to Terra when she reminds Beast Boy that he said that he'd be her friend no matter and he he responds that she doesn't have any friends. By her next appearance she's given up on good and is committed to killing the Titans and taking over the city for Slade.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, the symbiote attempts to push Peter over the Despair Event Horizon so that he'll let it permanently bond with him, by making him relive how he got his powers and how he caused Uncle Ben's death. Fortunately Uncle Ben himself shows up to snap Pete out of it.
  • Beavis in Beavis and Butt-Head Do America falls into this near the end. After arriving in Washington and not meeting Dallas Grimes (who had promised to have sex with them when the he and Butthead made it to Washington - a lie so she could get the toxin she put into his shorts), he delves into this, crying out that they'd grow old and gray, but they were never going to score. The bus driver makes Beavis Get a Hold of Yourself, Man! by delivering a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown.
  • Ahsoka, of all people, crosses it in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars in the finale of the fifth and final season, after the Jedi Council throw her out and almost convict her of attacking the Jedi Temple when the real culprit was Barriss Offee, who did it to show the Jedi that they've lost their way. Since the Council didn't trust her she can no longer trust herself, so she declines Anakin's offer of rejoining them and leaves to find her own path.

    Real Life 
  • The Imperial Japanese military became increasingly desperate as the Allies began to draw the noose around the Home Islands. They recommended a Last Stand on a national scale, and began training schoolchildren to fight with sticks, but when the Emperor supported the decision to surrender, many military officers chose seppuku as an alternative, inclusive of those officers who tried to stop the Emperor's broadcast and continue fighting without his Majesty's approval only to be arrested.
    • Adolf Hitler also had this, when he realized that the Allies in the West and the Soviets in the East are closing in on him, and there was no chance for him to win. He ordered his forces to fight to the last man, and burn Germany to the ground, to deny the Allies of anything. Fortunately many of his officers choose to ignore this, while some weren't so lucky when they ended fighting the Soviets..
  • The Samson option. There are grave suspicions this would also double as the Moral Event Horizon.
  • Theodore Roosevelt, when his son Quentin died in World War One. His health, held together for most of his life solely by sheer unfettered willpower, began failing almost immediately, and never recovered. His Death by Despair followed less than a year later.
    • He had already come close to this thirty years earlier when his wife and his mother died on the same day: Valentine's Day 1884.
  • Many of "the Projects" in the US from the 1960s fell into this. Now many of the people living in them have no hope of ever improving their lives. The sad part is there are now up to 4 generations who have lived this way.
    • The housing agencies in many cities are demolishing the high-rise projects and replacing them with developments of single-family homes. Whether this will make a difference remains to be seen.
  • Jason Russell dealt with massive amounts of criticism from Ugandans and internet goers of the viral video "Kony 2012" for his organization's handling of finances and purpose of helping Ugandans. Then personal attacks against his Evangelical Christian background came to light and he completely lost it.
  • Chris Hedges, an influential left-wing columnist and former Pulitzer-winning war correspondent, has been accused of using his more recent writings to pull readers into his own Despair Event Horizon, especially with regards to corporate power and environmentalism.
  • This is essentially what depression is (the feeling that there is no hope).
    • Also why many people commit suicide or want to commit suicide.
    • There are also several factors in one's life that can lead to depression, especially if each factor is back to back. For example, someone gets laid off from their job, then they're unable to find a job due to the lousy economy, which is then followed by having items repossessed or even losing the house because they don't have any money to pay the bills, which in turn leads to them being forced to live in a homeless shelter while getting minimal food, which can also lead to the person getting ill and not being able to afford to get treated. All this can cause a person to simply give up on life and stop trying to find a way to better themselves or they may even resort to a life of crime seeing that they have nothing else to lose.
  • Ravens usually mate in monogamous pairs for life. If one of the pair dies, it isn't uncommon for the other member to become despondent, sometimes even to the point of deliberately starving themselves to death. "Quoth the raven, 'nevermore.'"
  • The argument that the "you break the enemy's morale, and you can achieve victory even without military success" manifestation of this trope was successfully invoked by the Entente against Hindenburg, Ludendorff and the German High Command in general at the close of World War One was a major contributor to promoting the "stab in the back" legend and Hitler's subsequent rise to power.
  • Historians speculate that the Battle of Gettysburg was the horizon for the Union in the The American Civil War, though it was ultimately not crossed. They had superior troop strength, economy and manufacturing over the Confederacy, but at that point public opinion was against the war and morale was extremely low. Conversely, the Confederacy had absolute faith in their leadership, as Lee had led them to victory after victory. It is thought that if the Union had lost that battle, it would have been the beginning of the end and the nation would have been forced to sue for peace.
    • Some historians have discussed the prospect of the Emancipation Proclamation being this for the Confederacy. One of the major goals of the Confederate Army was earning recognition and aid from European powers. When the Proclamation emerged, it transformed what had up until then looked like a war of reunification into a crusade to end slavery - which absolutely dashed any hope of Europe backing the Confederacy (any nation that did would be tacitly supporting human bondage). That did severe damage to morale, but it got even worse as the common soldiers realized defending slavery would be worthless to them - slaves cost hundreds of dollars, well beyond the average Southerner's reach (this is where we get the term "A rich man's war, but a poor man's fight"). It's worth noting that desertions skyrocketed after the Emancipation Proclamation.
  • Bill Simmons frequently discusses this regarding sports fans, as he has experience being from Boston (before all four teams became victorious in the 2000s, all had droughts made even more unbearable by disheartening defeats - even the post-Larry Bird Celtics). He wrote the "Levels of Losing" regarding how bad a defeat can be, and also listed "tortured teams" making it clear they have to go past the Despair Event Horizon to qualify:
    You need to be just pessimistic enough to keep your guard up for a sucker punch but just optimistic enough to keep lowering your guard at the worst possible time."
  • The first President of Brazil, Deodoro da Fonseca suffered a biblical one after being impeached (which he took very personally). To give some context, Deodoro was known as a Boisterous Bruiser jokester and Fun Personified to his friends, described as "lion-hearted". But after his impeachment, Deodoro locked himself in his house,spent his days rotting away in a chair, smoking his already damaged lungs away. He forbid anyone in a military uniform to ever enter his house (keeping in mind he used to be a bona-fide, very patriotic war-hero). He died less than six months later.
  • Some people wrongly believe that Friedrich Nietzsche preached this trope as a philosophy, but that's not quite true. A much better "religion of despair" can be found in the writings of his inspiration and predecessor, Arthur Schopenhauer.

Original CharacterFanficRecs/Dragonriders of Pern    
Death Is Such an Odd ThingSadness TropesDespair Speech
Being Good SucksTragedyDisproportionate Retribution
Depth PerplexionJust for PunDeterminator
One-Winged AngelOverdosed TropesRed Oni, Blue Oni
Darker and EdgierHeel Face IndexDirty Cop
Dark ShepherdCynicism TropesDespair Speech
Broken TearsTear JerkerCradle of Loneliness

alternative title(s): Morale Event Horizon; Emotional Nadir
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