"It wasn't just the baby that died that day; something inside Sick Boy was lost and never returned."
The line that, once crossed, destroys any last remaining sense of hope. It could be for a cause, a person, a situation, or simple survival. A character has given up on it, and there is no going back. It can lead soldiers to despair — or even suicide
, if they don't simply lose the will to live
. It can turn an Ideal Hero
into an Anti-Hero
or an outright villain
, or even, in some cases, vice versa.
It is a vital element of Tragedy
this line is quite common in fiction; frequently, at the end of the second act
or the 45 minute mark of a drama or the first hour of a film, the protagonist comes dangerously close to the edge
before a Rousing Speech
or Deus ex Machina
or the like comes along. It makes for a Downer Ending
if the protagonist does fall over the edge. Frequently, this is when the What You Are in the Dark
test hits him. Alternatively, many stories have a hero "Fighting the Good Fight" and meeting someone who'd been at it longer and lost all hope
This is often a goal of some wars. You break the enemy's morale, and you can achieve victory even without military success.
Related to Heroic BSOD
and Heroic Safe Mode
, except the hero usually comes back from those. A Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
is often a character who crossed this line long ago. It can result in the character entering an Angst Coma
, being Dumb Struck
, suffering Death by Despair
, or becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
(and subsequently crossing the Moral Event Horizon
or Jumping Off the Slippery Slope
). Often a result of We Used to Be Friends
. This is often the final stage of the Break the Cutie
process. In a video game, often happens during a Bleak Level
, and it may be relevant if the game has a Morale Mechanic
May be preceded with a Hope Spot
, just to really twist the knife. And a Downer Ending
might follow in really dark stories.
Often a factor in Pater Familicide
Compare Safety In Indifference
, Hope Is Scary
(the reason nobody ever crosses the horizon back again), Hope Crusher
(someone who delights seeing characters crossing this horizon, or even worse, pushing other people to cross the horizon).
Contrast Heroic Spirit
This is about a character losing all hope, not merely getting depressed, upset, or bored.