There's getting back-stabbed, and then...
"The rule for finding plots of character-centered novels... is to ask, 'What's the worst thing that can possibly happen to
this guy?' And then do it."
You have reached a writer's block. You've created a hero so righteous, noble, good and pure that traumatizing them just once is not convincing enough to break them. Yet you want the intended audience to still feel like they want to reach into your work and hug the character
Hence the name of this trope. You sit in front of your typewriter (for all us oldies who can remember what a typewriter is
) or your laptop computer (for all you young-uns) and put on a hat with the name "Murphy"
written on it, and think to yourself:
"If traumatizing a hero once can earn the audience's sympathy, then what better way to earn your audience's love
for the character than to lay trauma after trauma
on them like a falling row of dominoes?"
Having donned the hat of "Murphy"
, you, the creator of this fictitious universe, are entitled, nay, obligated to make sure that whatever can go wrong for your hero will
go wrong. The effect is akin to the Chinese proverb of water continuously dripping on a rock: one drop won't even dent it, but a million will crack a boulder. In other words, having your hero lose everyone they love and/or have every dream unfulfilled and broken is the most realistic way to turn a God Amongst Men into a pathetic crying wreck.
The usual results of a Trauma Conga Line
is as follows:
Result A) The hero perseveres over the trials of life, rises above it and becomes a better person for it all
. Defining term: Iron Woobie
Result B) The protagonist throws off his hero mantle
, tramples it, and in a cold rush of unrelenting cynicism becomes a villain just as bad, if not worse, than the antagonist
. Defining term: Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
Result C) The hero curls into a figurative or literal catatonic ball
in a cold dark corner
, then proceeds to give up on life and the world
Result D) Goes out in a blaze of bloodthirsty rage realizing that the best way out is by taking it out on everyone
. Defining term: Roaring Rampage of Revenge
Result E) The protagonist loses their sense of idealism
, but not their morality
. Most Anti Heroes
who started out as an Ideal Hero
are Type E. Defining term: Knight in Sour Armor
Result F) Rarest one: the protagonist just shrugs their shoulders at the Deus Angst Machina
. No lessons are learned nor does the character behave differently. All that's changed is that the Bunny-Ears Lawyer
now sleeps in a cardboard box and eats out of dumpsters.
This trope is a particularly vicious example of Break the Cutie
, and is a gamble on the part of you, the writer.
Handled correctly, it will create the ultimate Iron Woobie
so endearing that the audience will cry and cheer with him/her to the bitter or uplifting end.
On the other hand, one melodramatic violin-music-laced scene too many, and you'll have the Narm
of the century.
See also Humiliation Conga
, where this happens to a villain who deserves what's coming to him. Deus Angst Machina
is similar and there is quite a bit of overlap, but with the Trauma Conga Line
more of it happens on-screen than in the backstory.
Here Be Spoilers, Ladies and Gentlemen
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- Somewhat spoofed in the parody commercials for Rhubarb Pie on A Prairie Home Companion. They always feature some random, unfortunate fellow who happens to get caught in a series of increasingly bad situations, going from, say, locking yourself out of the car to being arrested for high treason. Good thing "nothing takes the taste of shame and humiliation out of your mouth like rhubarb pie!"
Anime and Manga
- Ian from Not Simple. Everything, everywhere, goes wrong. And then he dies.
- Berserk does this mercilessly with its three main characters:
- Guts' childhood was singularly horrific. As a kid, he endured Training from Hell from a father figure who hated him due to blaming him for the death of his lover, enough to have him sold as a Sex Slave to one of his soldiers for one night, and who ultimately got drunk and tried to murder him, forcing the poor kid to kill him. Things went pretty good for him when he joined up with the Band of the Hawk, and even found a first love in Casca. Then the Eclipse went down, resulting in his best friend going bad in an unforgivable fashion, Guts losing everyone else except Casca to things out of pure nightmare, and losing an eye and being Forced To Watch as Casca is raped to insanity by Griffith himself in his new demonic form of Femto after having to chisel off his own left arm to try to save her. He is in hardcore vengeance mode following this, resulting in Guts becoming a bit of an asshole until some much-needed refocusing and reconnection with Casca and gaining a new set of True Companions sets him on the road to something resembling his original personality.
- Casca was sold to a noble who wanted her for a Sex Slave. She was rescued by Griffith and became one of his best warriors, and life is good for her, and she eventually finds love in Guts. Then the Eclipse went down, resulting in Griffith going bad as mentioned above, Casca losing everyone under her command (particularly Pippin and Judeau, who sacrificed themselves to make sure she would live), getting captured and stripped naked by demons and ultimately being raped by Griffith himself in his new form of Femto, with Guts trying everything in his power but still failing to save her. The trauma of her experience drives her insane, and we can only speculate on what will result from her being brought out of it when Guts and crew reach Elfheim.
- And then there's Griffith. His childhood was no walk in the park, but he lived quite happily until he discovered a kid who died in his service, whom he had come to befriend personally. Overwhelmed by guilt (not that he would ever admit this), he pimped himself out to a pederast lord for the money to fund his mercenary band, leaving him with serious emotional scars that he similarly hid from others. Then he meets, defeats, and befriends Guts, and life goes good for him up until Guts decides to leave him, and defeats him with one stroke, which brings him to the realization that he has forgotten his true ambitions and reason for living (due to the obsession that he had developed for him). Griffith's life falls apart after that when he's captured by the King's men after having sex with the Princess, resulting in him getting put to the torture for a year. By the time Guts and the rest of the Hawks rescue him, he's in a very bad way both physically and mentally, and has come to hate everything and everyone (except for Guts and Casca). This lasts up until Griffith finds out that Guts and Casca are in a relationship with each other and are discussing leaving him behind, at which point he loses it completely. And unfortunately for the two and the rest of the Hawks, his Crimson Behelit returns to him shortly afterward, and he activates it at the first opportunity, triggering the events of the Eclipse and his decision to take back his dream by sacrificing everyone in his command to the God Hand, including Guts and Casca, to become their fifth member, the monstrous Femto. Griffith crosses the Moral Event Horizon by the time this is through, and is now the Big Bad of the series. Bad things happen to the rest of the cast too, but they die pretty quickly as a result.
- Fruits Basket is full of this.
- Hellsing. Seras Victoria had her police unit dispatched to a hamlet which happened to have been infested with vampires, all of whom were killed, including herself, then sired as a vampire herself. It all goes downhill from there. She wobbles between Type C and D until at long last, karma leaves her alone enough for her to develop into what seems to be a Type A thirty years after Millennium's attack.
- Lelouch, the Anti-Hero of Code Geass, gets a mixture of type B and D. However, streaks of result A are shown at the end as his last act is to make himself the enemy of the world so the world becomes peaceful by his death.
- There are a few other Code Geass characters that would fall under this, too, though less obviously due to not being the main character. Shirley and Suzaku stick out the most, but there are probably more this being Code Geass.
- Lelouch actually has a lot more in common with Type E, largely because he still has a firm grasp of his own sense of right and wrong, as well as wanting to see his ultimately noble goals come to fruition, even if he comes across as quite dark. It's hard to be a Type B when your enemy is a racist Empire that has one leader willing to destroy individuality due to his own crappy childhood, and a Prime Minister who's willing to nuke the whole world from orbit to enforce peace. Shirley almost becomes type C, before Mao makes her go into Type D, then she almost lapses into type C again before some Laser-Guided Amnesia allows her to shift into type A. Suzaku aims quite valiantly for type A, but with everything that happens, he shifts into either B or D (depending on your perspective) at the end of episode 19 of R2, before joining Lelouch in type A.
- Albert Morcef from Gankutsuou. Albert first gets betrayed by the Count and Peppo, who he thought could be trusted, when Haydee exposes Albert's father as a criminal who gained nobility and power through non legal means. Then, his best friend Franz gets killed when Franz decides to go to the duel with the Count (the duel which the Count goaded Albert into making so the Count can get an excuse to kill Albert) instead of Albert. However, instead of breaking down, Albert ends up taking the route A and becomes a better person who not only saves the Count's soul from Gankutsuou but also fixes his father's wrongs by becoming an envoy of peace.
- Don't forget that Albert's father also tries to stage a coup detat after he's exposed, even going so far as to try to kill his own wife and son when they get in the way.
- Completely averted by Neon Genesis Evangelion. Yeah... right!
- Shinji Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion is the most well known Result C. He was a lonely, crippingly introverted kid to begin with, thanks to seeing his mother die at a tender age and being subsequently abandoned by his father. Then, he gets all but shanghaied into piloting a mecha that's actually a lovecraftiaan monstrosity, which exposes his already fragile mind to more than most adults can take. He gets beaten up at school for his efforts and his first proper battle experience all but ruins him, as in, he shut himself in his room for weeks, ran away, and contemplated jumping off a cliff. In spite of all this, Shinji manages to find himself some friends and a sort of replacement family and even bond with the cute girls surrounding him, pulling through all the challenges that life threw at him... until all of his archievements were ripped away from him in the cruelest possible fashion. First he put on a mental trial by the first Angel with psychic abilities, leading him to question and doubting himself, after which a critical mutual failure to understand each other leads to his relationship with a love interest souring, then, he has to watch his best friend get maimed at his own father's hands, all but destroying their relationship that was finally showing subtle signs of improvement, next, his mentor/father figure is assassinated and his mother figure falls into deep depression as a result, one of his love interests gets subjected to brutal mind rape and the other dies to save his life, just to be replaced by a clone who barely reacts to him, after which he's treated to watching several of these clones dissolving into bloods and gore, the revelation that his dead mother's soul is in his mecha all of which while he couldn't do a thing about her... and then, just when he's at the lowest of the low, some White-Haired Pretty Boy turns up and wants to be his friend... except he turns out to be an enemy whom Shinji has to kill... and ends up sacrificing himself for Shinji's sake. Guilt-ridden, the poor boy tries drowning himself, but can't bring himself to go through with it, after which he just curls up and waits for someone to shoot him. Cue End of Evangelion.
- In Rebuild of Evangelion, he's a strange variation of a Result D. He, not Unit 01, goes berserk at the end of 2.0 to save Rei, but doesn't give a damn if he kills everything else in the process. It's even displayed earlier in the movie, when he tries to destroy NERV and off Gendo with his EVA for using the dummy system on Unit 03 while Asuka was inside it.
- Then he goes through a particularly nasty one in Rebuild 3.0. that sends him straight into Result C. Pray that the last movie doesn't finish like End.
- It is implied that his father is a type B or a type E
- Then again, it's harder to name the characters who don't get put through the meatgrinder as the series progressed. Asuka's story, in particular, is that of a naive young girl shattering on the hard rocks of reality.
- On the other hand, Ayasaki Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler is a most admirable example of Result A. You would think that being raised by two pathologically-unemployed con-artists of parents as a cash-cow only to be abandoned to some very nice people to pay off debt money with your organs would turn the boy Joker-Crazy. Wouldn't you know it, he is still a kindhearted fella who would give his life for a total stranger.
- If you think about it, Hayate is kinda Joker-crazy. His childhood was crap, his parents were evil, and the universe occasionally punts him around like an old football ("Watch out for this paint that will permanently stain a cashmere coat!" and "We will attack you with swords that cut cashmere really well!" come to mind). And yet...he keeps smiling.
- Tokiha Mai of Mai-Hime was a kind and emotionally strong girl who looked after her constantly ill little brother with a weak heart by giving up her own childhood to work for his medical bills after losing both her parents. Having both that little brother and the boy she came to love die in rapid succession, as well as seeing that the one to blame is, supposedly, her best friend and sworn sister, can even break a saint like her into a nihilistic Result C.
- Zero's past was really horrible.
- Shiina Tamai from Narutaru is a brave, kind-hearted, upbeat Action Girl... who, as per the Deconstructionist nature of the series, is put through a lot of crap. Between watching friends and loved ones die, and seeing that humans are a truly terrible lot, there's only so much trauma she can take before she turns into an example of Result C. The anime version doesn't get anywhere near that far, mind you.
- Most of the kids connected to the Dragon Children. If they don’t have issues they will quickly get them. Akira is sexually abused by her father, forcibly dragged into a conflict with teenage psychos, mind-rapped at least twice to make her join, locked away for almost a year for killing said father and confronted with dozens of violent deaths. There is also Hirako, who has no-one beside Shiina, is heavily bullied in school and her demanding parents don’t give a damn as long as she has good grades. When her father tries to cut her ties with Shiina she slips.
- Vash the Stampede from Trigun. As we learn more and more about him two important facts come to mind. 1. He is the unluckiest person who's ever lived. 2. There is someone out there directly responsible for that and he's far from finished. However, Vash takes the route A because he is just that badass.
- Nana from Nana's Everyday Life.
- To a lesser extent in Elfen Lied too. Several times she thinks she's finally put her old hellish life behind. Not so. Until the very end of the manga... maybe.
- Kagura from Ga-Rei -Zero-. She kills a teacher from her school who was possessed by a demon, gets disowned by her friends, watches as people around her get massacred, sees her best friend and surrogate sister Yomi get turned evil, watches Yomi kill her father, then finally kills Yomi with a knife to the chest, at which point Yomi tells her she loves her.
- Amazingly, the result is eventually type A, even though it's obvious that nothing can fill that spot for Yomi in Kagura's heart (the current arc of the manga is dealing with this, as someone who looks exactly like Yomi appears.).
- Mind you, in the arc before the current one Kagura had even worse things happening to her. The turn of events destroyed what little resolve she still possess in order to live, and thus her spiritual beast went absolutely out of control. Life is a lot unfair for Kagura.
- Forget Kagura, Yomi had it even worse. 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 quadraplegic 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 becoming a Type B she is still sympathetic.
- Almost every major character in Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle. One good example is Fai, who has a backstory so mindbendingly dramatic it's verging on ridiculous, and during the course of the story manages to be used by the BigBad, be killed (in a virtual world, but still), have an eye gouged out and eaten by his surrogate son, after which he tries to let himself die but is forced to become a vampire by his partner, a curse obliges him to stab his surrogate daughter, his father figure tries to make him kill him right after he finds out the magical creature he made in semblance of his mother has been erased from existence, and then gives up his remaining magic power to get a prosthetic arm for his partner, who had to rip it off to save him once again. And this all happens in around 100 chapters. And that's not even mentioning how his backstory contains horrible abuse, separation from his twin, bearing witness to the genocide of the people of Valeria, his uncle stabbing himself through the head in front of him, the death of his twin in front of his eyes, and then ANOTHER genocide when Ashura goes batsy.
- Houjou Satoko, of Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, is pretty much the ultimate Woobie. Not only did she lose both of her parents by accidentally pushing them off a cliff in a fit of Hinamizawa Syndrome-induced madness, have her brother Satoshi vanish without warning, and become hated by almost the entire town for supposedly being "cursed," but depending on the scenario, also goes through several other traumatic events:
- In Watanagashi-hen and Meakashi-hen, she is tortured to death by Sonozaki Shion, who is now under the Hate Plague effects as well, after finding out that Shion has also killed both leaders of the village, Satoko's best friend Rika, and is going to torture Satoko's other friends to death (including Shion's twin sister Mion).
- In Tatarigoroshi-hen, she is brutally abused by her uncle Teppei, and is too scared of the very-real threat of him killing her to call child services. She also sees her best friend Rika's bloody, mutilated corpse being eaten by crows and finally cracks, pushing Keiichi off a bridge.
- In Minagoroshi-hen, she is again abused by her uncle, but is also shot in the face by the Big Bad after nearly overcoming all the hardships in her life. The same Big Bad makes sure she watches the murder all her friends in quick succession, with the knowledge that Rika will be tortured to death afterwards.
- In Yoigoshi-hen, the Alternate Universe plotline, she is killed along with the rest of her classmates when Rena goes insane and blows up the school.
- In Yakusamashi-hen and Tsumihoroboshi-hen, she is killed along with the rest of the town when the Big Bad sets off the gas and murders the entire village.
- Actually, in Yakusamashi-hen, Satoko suspects for the whole arc that there is something wrong with Rika, and eventually she sees her being taken away and sees her gutted corpse again. Then she is chased away, and eventually falls from the same bridge she pushed Keiichi from, ending up catatonic. Then she is assassinated in hospital before Ooishi can help her. Oh, and the reason why she was catatonic? She saw all of her friends' corpses (except Rena's) after the gas killed them all.
- It is revealed in Satoko's backstory that she was also beaten an inch from death by Shion disguised as Mion, with Rena, Rika and Satoshi barely managing to save her. Since this happened before the main plot and thus Shion was having a NOT Hate Plague induced Yandere fit, it means this applies to every arc. In Saikoroshi-hen, another Alternate Universe, the one who beats her is Rika, who as mentioned above is her best friend in the normal universe.
- It is no surprise that most of the Tear Jerker moments in the series come from Satoko.
- In the sequel, Battler gets all of the garbage that both the real world and the meta-world can possibly heap on him. From the real world, we have entire family murdered (with his father and stepmom, depending on the arc, having faces torn off, or intestines stuffed with candy), watching younger cousin turn from a cute little girl into a Cute and Psycho Creepy Child overnight, shot by his own aunt in one arc, figuring out that three people banished under suspicion of being the murderer were sent to their own deaths by having THEIR faces torn off, and that's just the beginning. The meta-world does everything to him from melting his cousins into unrecognizable piles of flesh to feeding him alive to goat-headed butlers.
- And then he finds out his late mother wasn't his real mom, putting him in such a bad Heroic BSOD that his brain shuts down and he physically vanishes for awhile. Only to be brought back by his sister! Yay! ...Who he finds out is his sister only as the universe is turning her into a delicious hamburger. Then EP6 he is one of the first six victims of the FIRST TWILIGHT. Sure he survived but how LONG was he STUCK in that room is horrifying. And the crazy part about it? HE PLANNED IT!
- And then when get a whole line for Beatrice/Shannon/Kanon/Yasu whose trauma conga line is the whole reason for the events on Rokkenjima.
- Bleach: Ichigo knows his need to protect can be exploited by the enemy and by the Lost Agent Arc was so Genre Savvy about this that he was starting to find it annoying. That's when it's revealed that the Arc Villain's plan took this ennui into account. The villain built up trust with Ichigo while tearing down his friends in secret, leaving Ichigo feeling isolated and alone in a world gone mad, unable to do anything other than fight for the strength to save his friends and family. Once he obtained that strength, the villain stepped forward and promptly stole them. In an instance, Ichigo was bereft of his friends, his family and his power and, quite literally, left with nothing but the clothes on his back, a sword through his chest, and tears pouring down his face at how completely he had failed. Before this arc, it would never have been believable to see Ichigo, a stalwart shounen hero, on his knees crying. This arc made it happen.
- This happens to Mai Kujaku/Valentine. She was Mind Raped during the Battle City Finals and her subsequent inadvertent Face Heel Turn that gets her in arguably even worse danger during the Doma saga in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
- This happens on much a higher, much more heartbreaking scale to Judai Yuki in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, and could very well pass as the best example of this trope next to Naruto down below in Shonen anime history.
- And it gets worse in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. At the beginning of the series, all the major and quite a number of minor characters are in a bad place. The major characters in Satellite are orphans and live on whatever they can salvage while pursued by Security and discriminated against by the people of Neo-Domino. But on the other side, things aren't much better. Aki Izayoi was struggling with her father's inability to balance work and home life, leading to the awakening of her Psychic Powers, that ruined her relationship with her parents, who saw her as a monster. She was sent to Duel Academy and came back to find her parents doing well without her, misreading the scene as their feeling glad to be rid of her and ran into the arms of a secret society housing scorned Psychics. Yusei, like Judai, has one heck of a battering - his parents were killed in Zero Reverse; the result of a project his father had been in charge of, who sacrificed himself to ensure the year-old Yusei could survive. He bares the mask of The Stoic, but has a fantastic breakdown in his match with Rudger - at the very site where the latter was responsible for his parents' (and thousands of others) deaths. There, Yusei reveals that he's been shouldering the guilt of his father and can't even understand why his friends can stand him, as the son of the man whose project took away their parents' lives.
- The present of 5D's isn't even the worst of it. There's the Bad Future to deal with. A global version of Zero Reverse takes place as Synchro Monsters overlord the momentum system and as a result, the Machine Emperors are unleashed. What happens is the eradication of almost all human life on the planet. Of the four humans that are shown among those remaining, Aporia loses his parents as a child, his lover as an adult and finds no further sign of life by the time he's an elderly man, pushing him far over the Despair Event Horizon. Antinomy is so grief-stricken by what's happened that he's prepared to die when a Machine Emperor is about to fire on him, only to be saved by Zone and breaks down. Zone himself could be the worst. Unable to see his world crumble, he researched Yusei, who is effectively the embodiment of hope and works tirelessly to literally become him, even including headgear that holds Yusei's personality, just to become a symbol of hope and spur mankind into fighting back. His efforts fail horribly when the situation eventually worsens and he's unable to save anyone, almost killed himself. By then, he, too, is pushed harshly over the Despair Event Horizon, and, as a result, is so damaged, that his plan to save the future becomes a journey back 200 years to take out the Synchro Monsters that caused the destruction of his world - even if it means taking out Yusei and himself.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has Negi. Lets see, he's never known his parents, saw his entire hometown get destroyed at about age 6 or so, gets attacked by a vampire with a grudge against his father, inadvertently causes several of his students to get sold into slavery in the Magic World, gets framed for a terrorist attack (along with his other students), starts to lose control of his Black Magic, and when he finally discovered who his mother is, it turns out that most of the Magic World hates her because they think she's a genocidal maniac. And yet, he still manages to hold a positive outlook on life, making him a case of type A.
- He does occasionally show a few Type D traits. He's been shown to have some really severe hatred for those who destroyed his hometown, and it is suggested that, unconsciously, his real reason for learning how to fight so well was to exact revenge on those responsible. The fact that he specifically learned a spell designed to outright kill demons is telling...
- Almost everyone in Monster, but Nina should get a special mention.
- Naruto and Sasuke definitely qualify. The former was a life long outcast who never knew his parents at the beginning, before being told exactly why in a very brutal manner. All his peers treat him like trash, and he has to fight for every bit of respect he can. Not too much later, the closest thing to a grandfather and only family member he has dies, swiftly followed by his best friend's betrayal and attempt to kill him. He then spends 3 years away from his friends for the sole purpose of bringing back said best friend, and when he gets back, one of them dies for a little while. Thankfully, he got better. Then he once again meets traitorous friend, and he once again attempts to kill him. Some time later, a third retrieval fails. Now then, here's where it really starts. In rapid succession, his teacher and father(?) figure dies, his village is destroyed and he watches someone declare their love for him and then immediately get stabbed. Then he his hopes of bringing his best friend back are shattered by revelation after revelation.
- Sasuke isn't exactly happy either. First his family is killed, and he is forced to watch it over and over again. All of this at the hands of his beloved brother. Just as he was beginning to open up more, he is humiliated time and again by the supposed dead last as he beats enemies even he couldn't. Then, he finally meets his brother again, where he gets beaten and Mind Raped again. This drives him into a Face Heel Turn that Word Of God says was quite painful for him, but that doesn't count. All is good for a time, until he achieves his goal. He is then told about how that was all a lie, his recently dead brother really was a good guy who loved him, and how his idolised family were actually traitors. He then suffers a series of defeats, one after another as he tries to get his revenge. Though once again, the most recent doesn't count due to working for the Big Bad.
- Naruto is lucky to be as well adjusted as he is, and Sasuke... well it doesn't excuse his actions, but it does make it easier to see why he is doing what he is.
- Don't even get me started on Kakashi: first his mother dies before she's thirty, then Kakashi witnesses his father's disgrace and subsequent suicide, then Obito 'dies'and Kakashi is for some reason forced to kill Rin, and finally he loses Minato, who may well have been a Parental Substitute. Also, 72 hours of Tsukuyomi and losing all of his students to other teachers, and finally finding out just who Tobi really is.... Trauma Conga Line? You betcha!
- Don't forget some of the other characters. Gaara, Kimimaro and Pain are stand outs. Notably a lot of them end up going the antagonist route (until Naruto shows them the error of their ways).
- FYI, that makes Naruto a type A, Sasuke a mixture of B and D, Gaara a B -> A and Pain a type B.
- Rock Lee was treated this way in part one, with two parts inferiority complex/jealousy and two parts career-ending injury. Depending on how you look at it, he's either a type A or a type F; On the one hand, his injuries are healed and he ends up fighting alongside the guy who ruined his life. On the other hand, as a result of falling out of focus post-time skip, he stopped getting character development but no longer seems to be miserable.
- In One Piece, Luffy finally had a Heroic BSOD after a Conga Line that started way back in Sabaody and was compounded by events that only succeeded in twisting in the knife.
- Himura Kenshin from Rurouni Kenshin is a mix between a Type A and a Type E.
- Considering that Kenji basically becomes an orphan and most of his childhood consists of waiting for his redemption-obsessed father and watching his mother slowly dying from the grief and a skin illness she caught from said father, his life doesn't look much better.
- Simon from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has basically everyone close to him die, and no matter how much Screw Destiny is the theme of the series there seems to be nothing he can do to prevent it. In the end, he abandons Spiral Power entirely, because he knows first hand how destructive it is.
- Elfen Lied. The anime traumatizes the characters enough already, and let's just not get into the manga...
- Allen Walker, from D. Gray-Man. Even before the series starts, he's abandoned by his parents at birth because of his apparently deformed arm. As a very young child he works at a circus where he's beaten by the clowns. He's finally adopted by Mana at the age of seven, only to lose him three years later. The Millennium Earl promptly manipulates a griefstricken Allen into making a contract to bring his foster father back, only to have Mana come back horribly wrong and curse him. Allen is forced by his own anti-Akuma weapon arm to kill his now-Akuma father and the trauma turns his hair white. Allen then goes through Training from Hell with his Jerkass mentor General Cross for four years, which leads to him becoming an exorcist and the start of the series.
- After the series starts, the hits keep coming, including having his Innocence seemingly destroyed and getting a hole torn out of his heart thanks to Tyki; having his friends disappear one by one as the Ark disintegrates around him; and having the only place that he could ever call home, the Order, almost be destroyed by a Level Four Akuma attack. Think he deserves a break? Not a chance. After nearly killing himself to fight off the Level 4 Akuma, he is told that he is the host of the mysterious Fourteenth Noah who's going to take over his body, and in the process of doing so, will destroy Allen's personality and force him to kill someone who he loves dearly. His mentor General Cross suddenly disappears under highly suspicious circumstances. Now Allen's being treated by almost everyone in the Order as a potential threat that needs to be ruthlessly eliminated at the smallest sign of stepping out of line. And in the most recent chapters, the Fourteenth is not only awakening inside Allen, but is capable of taking control of Allen's body without any warning in his quest to become the next Millennium Earl. Iron Woobie, indeed.
- Fullmetal Alchemist- Another one that most would answer with "Everyone", however this is especially true for Roy, Riza, and everyone who had to live through both Ishval and the Promised Day storylines.
- In Umineko No Naku Koro Ni, Natsuhi seems to have a day from hell in the 5th game.
- Alice from Nemurihime. In the space of eight chapters she has lost her father, was stricken with a disease that will kill her in a year, was frozen for fifty years, learned that her doctor was in love with her but married another woman to have a family. His wife became so desparate for his affection that she figured they could only be Together in Death, which caused the doctor's son to hate Alice so much he unfroze her just to torture her for the rest of her life — which will be one year because there's still no cure for her disease. According to those who read the whole thing it gets worse. Poor Alice.
- CLANNAD: Tomoya Okazaki. Oooohhhhhh, boy...
- In Pokémon Special, White goes through one over the span of what couldn't have been more than an hour, and to make things worse all this happens immediately after the highest moment of her life. Though it takes a little while, she resolves to become a Type A.
- The title character of InuYasha has so much of this it's ridiculous.
- Rintaro Okabe from Steins Gate had to go through seeing his childhood friend die repeatedly no matter what he does, and when he finally manages to save her, it's at the cost of sacrificing the love of his life for it.
- After a childhood full of emotional and (implied) physical abuse at the hands of his mother and, as an adolescent, more abuse (and an attempt on his life) at the hands of his half-brother, Kazutaka Muraki, the main villain of Yami No Matsuei, becomes a very creepy Result B.
- Several examples from Puella Magi Madoka Magica:
- Madoka goes through this largely by watching people she cares about either die or turn into a witch, with her being unable to anything about it, largely due to Homura who keeps getting in her way towards becoming a magical girl (because magical girls are doomed to become witches). When she finally does accept Kyubey's contract, she ultimately sacrifices herself by using her wish to ensure that no magical girl will become a witch, instead visiting them at the moment their Soul Gems would blacken completely and giving them a merciful end.
- Sayaka first ends up fighting against Kyoko, who berates her using her wish for someone else rather than herself, then finding out what happened to her body/soul when she became a magical girl. Then her friend Hitomi mentions that she's interested in Kyosuke as well, and will ask him out after giving Sayaka one day to confess her feelings, which Sayaka doesn't do because of her body/soul situation. Finally, she hears of two guys who are making fun of a woman one is dating, and thinking she's a moron for devoting herself to him, which Sayaka doesn't enjoy hearing, and finally just gives up all hope and turns into a witch.
- Kyoko first witnesses as her father starts to preach crazy things, which causes people to stop attending their church, and then their family starts to suffer lots of hardships, including starvation. When she makes her wish to have people attend the church, at first it seems good, until her father finds out what she did, and he kills himself and the family as a result. She finally sacrifices herself to stop Sayaka who just recently turned into a witch.
- Homura is forced to watch Madoka constantly die, or turn into a witch, and almost every time she tries to warn them of something bad happening if they become a magical girl, they either ignore her warnings, or take it a with a grain of salt. Most of the time the main characters view her in a very negative light, and it isn't until episode 10 that we see why Homura acts the way she does, due to her inability to change the fate of people around her, including the person she cares about the most, Madoka herself.
- A Cruel God Reigns : Jeremy. This poor kid gets everything from abuse, rape, being forced to live with his rapist, countless piles of guilt, drug addiction, prostitution, some pretty hefty Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and having to live as a murderer, the poor guy has to deal with it all. Also an example of Break the Cutie. At the beginning of the story, Jeremy is pretty much sweetest, most innocent teenagers to walk the Earth, but that changes in one of the first few chapters. At different points of the story, Jeremy is Type A, Type C, and Type E.
- Oz Vessalius from Pandora Hearts has played the part of a Cheerful Child Stepford Smiler since he was young, but, despite being incredibly broken, he has been able to find some happiness in the present. That is, until he's betrayed by Jack, his trusted mentor figure, after which his world comes down around him. Along with the trauma he experienced at the hands of his cold and dismissive father, he then learns that his father's hatred of him may be justified, as it is revealed that he is not the person he thought he was but rather an existence dangerous to nearly everybody around him. Consequently, he experiences an identity crisis and goes into a Heroic BSOD after being shot by his best friend. Just as he's getting better after a reconciliation with said best friend, and even better after pulling off a Shut Up, Hannibal! at Jack and calling back Alice to the world, his own beloved uncle gets stabbed by one of his friends, who turns out to be taken over by her Split Personality, who is also one of the crazier Baskervilles they know, and said uncle pulls a You Shall Not Pass on the pursuing Baskervilles and lets Oz and co. go without him. It remains to be seen how he'll come out of it all in the end.
- Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest: Let's see. Aoshika Akiko's trauma conga line began when she was in middle school, where she was sexual assaulted by some older male students. Victim blaming soon ensued, so she and her family had to move away. Soon after getting her teaching license at a young age, Aoshika quickly gets married at her father's insistence, saying that no man would want her. Her marriage did not go well and she divorced. She managed to live a quiet and simple life as a dedicated but under appreciated middle school teacher for awhile... until the New Transfer Student, Akira Inugami, entered her home room and her life. From there, she went through another sexual assault but it was averted, almost got eaten by an escaped lion, and survived not one, but TWO school shootings. Oh, and Inugami is a werewolf. That stuff was pretty minute to say the VERY least, as everything got, really, really bad when Inugami's archnemesis Haguro finds out that the student and teacher are attracted to each other. Wanting to draw Inugami out, he proceeds to kidnapping Aoshika, having her molested by his Yakuza mooks, raping her, then having his goons gang rape her for several hours, drugging her for half of the duration so then she would enjoy being raped, and he does this all in front of Inugami via video - which he proceeds to release on the internet to ensure that her life would be ruined.
- The start of the first episode of Kotoura-san has one for the local telepath Haruka: her classmates ostracize her at school because she's different; her parents' unstable marriage is scuttled by her absentee, philandering father and lonely, desperate mother; her mother eventually abandons her, saying Haruka should never have been born to her face; a stray cat she was caring for - her last remaining friend - was taken to the pound by a cranky old woman (effectively a death sentence in Japan); and a broken, cynical Haruka ends up living alone, convinced it's better than being around other people. Her resolution was a bit different from what was described in the lead, though: she met Yoshihisa Manabe, a boy whose only worry about being with a telepath was to rein in his dirty thought. Right, her is clearly happier with the first friend (and not long after, lover) that she made.
- Both Sorata and Nanami of Sakurasou No Pet Na Kanojo suffer through this in episode 21. While they had some other outstanding issues, it finally reached a boiling point for both of them after all the bad things that kept happening to them, such as their failures to achieve something in the goals they were reaching for.
- Used for a few chapters in the The Princess and the Frog fanfiction A Son for a King. Charlotte's banker husband demands sex from Tiana in exchange for giving her a loan and for not asking for the money back, and when she refuses, he tells Charlotte that Tiana tried to bribe him with sex so as not to have to pay back the loan. Charlotte then goes to Tiana's house and yells at her, and breaks off their friendship. Tiana's mother then persuades her to go on a date with a man she has no attraction to, and on the date, he is stabbed by racists and has to be taken to the hospital by Tiana where it turns out he has lied about his name, as well as the fact that he is married to a woman who then arrives at the hospital and chases Tiana around the hospital room, calling her a tramp and screaming at her for sleeping with her husband (which she didn't do). Once she gets back to her mother's house, it's revealed that her house and restaurant have been set on fire by the Ku Klux Klan. She then collapses on the floor, yelling, "I've been a good person my entire life. I followed all the rules. Why do these things keep happening to me?" It's all quite hilarious.
- The Firefly fanfic Forward does this to most of the crew, especially for River. Aside from being kidnapped and tortured by Niska, she's also undergone multiple mental breakdowns due to her insanity, she's been nearly eaten by Reavers, and has been repeatedly Mind Raped by another psychic escapee from the Academy. Not a single "episode" in the story passes without River being repeatedly punched in the gut.
- The Death Note postseries fanfic arc Redeemer by CocoaCoveredGods lays this on Light like woah. Being stripped of his identity as Kira was only the beginning- so far, he's been killed multiple times, buried alive, tortured, raped (again, multiple times), suffered two mental breakdowns and been attacked by an axe-wielding psychopath in a scene that even L found difficult to look at the aftermath of. And some of this at the hands of people he loves. It's no wonder he's a gibbering wreck by the start of the fourth fic.
- So does ''True Elision'' by Ezan, another post-series fanfic. Having been given a second chance to have a proper afterlife and avoid being transformed in a Shinigami, Light is forced to face a Trial from hell and battle his worst nightmares (which include being torn apart by the thousands of people he directly killed with their bare hands while being unable to move and having a handful of hair forcefully shoved down his throat. Multiple times. And that's just the first level...).
- This is Deadlock's intention in The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn. She intends to inflict one on Spyro and Cynder because she suffered one that she blames them for. Her own included having her mate and unborn children killed in front of her and apparently having her adult children killed by Dark Cynder.
- The Team Fortress 2 Zombie Apocalypse fanfiction Respawn Of The Dead tortures just about every member of the team, but a special mention has to be given to The Medic. Over the course of the fic, he gets the crap beaten out of him by The Soldier, has to leave The Heavy behind to be devoured by zombies, and after recovering from the Heroic BSOD caused by that, he has to Mercy Kill his Morality Pet, the Pyro. Yeah.
- Fallout: Equestria is no picnic for its protagonist Littlepip - continually shot at (she isn't nicknamed Bulletsponge for nothing), had friends die on her, the works. But its side fics Fallout Equestria: Project Horizons and Heroes extend the Line even further.
- Ace Combat The Equestrian War has Firefly, who had a pretty rough childhood... to say the least.
- Imperfect Metamorphosis has Rin Satsuki, whose backstory starts with being kidnapped as a child by slavers and only gets worse from there. Over the course of the story itself she is attacked, brutalised, betrayed, at one point her mind is literally shattered, and nearly everyone in Gensoukyou wants her dead. It is no mystery whatsoever that she becomes a Death Seeker.
- Mortality (and its series as a whole) is one long trauma conga line for Sherlock Holmes. Right from the prologue, we know that he's in major trouble, then we go back in time a month or so to find out how he gets to this point. Starts out by getting infected with a mutation of a deadly Asian disease, which is only cured just in time (though not before putting him through a stomach-churning conversation with a Serial Killer and getting himself in trouble with his best friend). Less than a week later, he's kidnapped (quite brutally) and Locked In The Dungeon, therefore being subjected to all manner of Cold-Blooded Torture. He almost hits the Despair Event Horizon but wills himself away from it. Even after being rescued (while half-dead), Holmes deals with fever, frailty, Flashback Nightmares, and Survivor Guilt. He ends up with a Result A, although his actions in the sequel do beg the question of just how well he learned his lessons.
- Another Sherlockian example is A Study In Regret. First, Holmes watches as Moran shoots Watson; next, he's Locked In The Dungeon and subjected to Cold-Blooded Torture for well over a month and does hit the Despair Event Horizon. (If any of this sounds familiar, it's because the fic was inspired by Mortality.) Even after being rescued, his physical and spiritual recovery is long and painful, and it's seriously one Tear Jerker scene after another (Survivor Guilt and Flashback Nightmare included). It gets worse when Holmes realizes that Moran intends to kill Mary and her baby in order to achieve the ultimate revenge on Sherlock Holmes. Eventually, Holmes tries to commit suicide to spare Mary and the baby, and Inspector Lestrade stops him. The woobieness, however, continues. If left to himself, Holmes would go for Result C, while his adoptive family are constantly pushing for Result A — and it's slowly but surely working.
- The Bleach fic Uninvited Guests is built out of this trope, but it’s played for comedy.
- Children of Time has Sherlock Holmes and Beth Lestrade. Holmes is first possessed by a sentient sun, a vicious Break the Cutie experience, and he develops towards Result E. Eventually, he "loses" his best friend to marriage once again, having already been forced to observe from the past Watson falling in love and being unable to do anything about it. Major rift occurs between the two. Holmes finds himself unable to solve a case that has to be solved, and is subsequently kidnapped by none other than his Back from the Dead Arch-Enemy, Professor Moriarty. Moriarty offers Holmes a Sadistic Choice: surrender his soul to him or watch Watson be broken piece by piece. Holmes quickly descends into Result B and has become very thoroughly The Sociopath by the time Beth attempts to rescue him. Moriarty decides to break the apathetic detective until he does have a heart again, and then break that heart into tiny little bits. His most effective weapon is Holmes's apathy to Beth's murder as he tortures him. This does lead to a Heel Realization and Result A for Holmes, as well as a Bittersweet Ending.
- As for Beth... Having been handcuffed, insulted, and threatened with physical harm by her hero, she still comes back to rescue him, only to find that he's done a Face Heel Turn. Shocked and desperate, she commits a Heroic Sacrifice in a last-ditch effort to save him and wake him up, then dies realizing that he doesn't care. This makes her a Broken Bird once she's resurrected and the memories set in, and it takes quite a bit of effort on Holmes's part to pull her out of Result C. All that effort seems to go right back down the drain, however, when she's kidnapped by Moriarty and sells herself to him in return for the safety of Holmes, Watson, and the Doctor. Like Holmes, her journey towards Result A is slow and difficult, and matters are hardly helped by the fact that she has to return to her own timeline, despite her and Holmes's love for each other.
- In the Lost Girl Mad World, Lauren's entire time with the Fae has been this largely as a result of her being a Cosmic Plaything. Trick uses his powers to write that the Garuda will be defeated by a champion (who turns out to be Bo). The Garuda is aware of this, and knows that Lauren will be involved. So it and Thane utterly destroy her life trying to prevent it. Thane murders 19 of her colleagues/friends, murders her, she is then brought back by the Fae, forced into slavery to them, and then Thane returns and subjects her to Mind Rape and horrific torture. She spends most of her time as a Type A (said torture briefly sends her into full on Type C). In the sequel however, she is beginning to be a Type E both because she is sick of her life being a Trauma Conga Line, and because it's heavily implied she's now possessed by the Garuda.
- Notably, in the sequel she calls Trick and The Ash out for their roles in it. Trick for setting events in motion without considering the consequences, and the Ash who despite claiming to view Lauren as friend, is still using her as pawn. The fact that neither one of them seems to understand that the Fae destroying her life is pissing her off, just makes her even angrier.
Lauren: Why do you care?
Trick: Of course I care. I care about you Lauren. Like family.
Lauren: Family? Family? I am a slave. Let's not fool ourselves into thinking that I am other than that. What right did you have to play God?
I am so...sick of explanations of the greater good. I get it from the Ash, from the Morrigan, from you. Everything that happened is for the greater good. I am tired of my life being nothing more than a trivial after thought to you people. I had a life, a good life before it was taken from me. I died and was resurrected because that would help the Fae. I have lived the last five years at the mercy of the Light Fae while most of them treat animals better than they treat me.
So, to answer your question Trick, I'm not alright. I haven't been alright for five years and now I'm just sick of putting up with it.
Trick: Lauren, I'm sorry.
Keep your apologies. If you want to help me, you'll write a new Fae future that I'm not a part of.
Lauren: When you decide my fate let me know.
The Ash: Lauren wait. (Lauren stops and turns around) You're angry with me.
Lauren: Angry at being used like a pawn. What would give you that idea?
The Ash: You are not a pawn.
Lauren: So you keep saying. And yet here you are debating when and how I am to go and serve the Morrigan.
The Ash: For peace…
Lauren: I HAVE DONE ENOUGH FOR PEACE! (quieter) I have done enough for peace.
The Ash: I know you have.
Lauren: Do you?
- Lost Boys, its sequel Broken Heroes, and (expectedly, as it's still being written) its second sequel Shattered Saviors gives each character a run for their money, but mostly the worst stuff happens to Sora, Aqua, and Ventus. Sora keeps getting hurt mentally and physically. One breaking event after the other. He loses his home at the age of four thanks to Venitas, grows up on the streets of Traverse Town with Riku, has several moments where he either becomes engulfed in rage or loses himself to despair, has Ventus die just after he finally thinks of forgiving him for destroying his home, and gives himself up to Xemnas to keep Kairi and the rest of his friends safe. Aqua comes back from the Realm of Darkness only to have Ventus die, then die AGAIN shortly after she revives him. When she finds Xemnas, she clings to a hope that he's still Terra, only to find out that answer is no. She gets completely broken by the fact that, despite her efforts, Terra and Ven are pretty much long gone. And then Ventus. He spends his time feeling EXTREMELY guilty of destroying Sora and Riku's home, and being flat out abused by an extremely wrathful Sora. Then he dies. Horribly, brutally, and flat out MURDERED by Saïx, who gives zero fucks over killing an old friend of his. That is without going into every little detail, because, in short, someone gets hurt at least once a chapter.
- In the My Little Pony / Bioshock fanfic Vision, Siren's stay in the city has been this. Which is understandable, given that the plot circles around taking a somewhat petty and pampered artist and putting her in Rapture.
- Just about everything that happens to the old miner in The Blessed Disaster. Dead parents, dead brother, awful job. Then the Pale Girl shows up... and dies. You do not Earn Your Happy Ending more than this guy did.
- This trope sums up the core of the Total Drama story, Courtney And The Violin Of Despair, as befits the Revenge Fic setup. Courtney continues to behave normally for the most part, but she begins to lose her love of music. She just as gradually begins to rediscover it after she is freed of the curse.
- The Dark Knight: Poor Harvey Dent, the White Knight of Gotham, was a prime candidate for vicious brainwashing by The Joker after losing Rachel, the love of his life, and half his face in a gas explosion. His transformation into the cynical monster Two-Face only took the slightest of nudge on the evil bastard's part.
- This trope drives much of the events in the Coen brothers' 2009 film A Serious Man; it's played for dark comedy.
- The film version of 1408 is essentially the story of one man getting repeatedly kicked in the balls, by an "evil, fucking room."
- Precious, anyone?
- Serenity sees fit to kick Mal in the balls over and over again. Also, the only reason it doesn't kick River in the balls is because she's already been hammered plenty of times prior to the movie, and, well, she doesn't even have a set to be kicked in anyway.
- The Human Centipede is an unusually literal use of the trope. Do I really need to spell it out?
- Present in a good number of Don Bluth films. Fievel just never gets a break in An American Tail; in The Land Before Time Littlefoot sees his mother die, his herd separated, and his home destroyed, with only his few friends as support. Good thing Don Bluth believes in happy endings; too bad you have to earn the hell out of them.
- In the Thor film, Loki goes through one heck of a trauma roller coaster as his Start of Darkness.
- In It's a Wonderful Life George Bailey survives getting trapped in his hometown,robbed, his company's near bankruptcy (multiple times), intense disillusionment, and almost getting erased out of existence to become one of cinema's most heroic Iron Woobies.
Live Action TV
- Eastenders. Ronnie Mitchell. Her time on the show is best described currently as God taking one giant crap on her life. All she wants is a child but if she has one, it ends up dead...and then there is the fact she was raped as a child, her husband shot in the head (although he survived albeit crippled a while), family dysfunction that the former Matriach wants her to look after, and she was recently seen banging on the door of her mother's flat screaming "Mummy!" like a scared child after her latest baby died in cot death.
- The title character in "Monk" has been a textbook example of Type C for years by the time the show begins, having dealt with phobias and OCD his whole life and finally breaking down and leaving the police force to lock himself in his house after the murder of his beloved wife. He does slowly recover throughout the series, however.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Writing everything that happened to Buffy over the series would result in Walls of Text, but the major ones: Briefly dying and resulting PTSD, Angel turning evil and killing Jenny, having to kill Angel, Angel leaving, her mother's death, her sister's the key, she dies and is dragged out of heaven, and the attempted rape.
- Tara was brainwashed by her sexist family into believing she's a demon, had her mother die at age 17, had her mind messed with by Glory, memory wiped by Willow (twice), and just as she reconciled with Willow, she was accidentally killed when a bullet that Warren meant for Buffy hit her instead.
- Throughout Stargate SG-1, the eponymous team are on the receiving end of a seemingly endless series of pain and suffering and defeat, and it's fortunate There Are No Therapists, because if they were real people someone would be making a fortune off of their PTSD. And Daniel Jackson manages to not only suffer more than the other three members combined, but each instance is even more devastating. After all, all of them have had love interests die, but Daniel is the only one who had them shot to death in front of him.
- Stargate Atlantis, while you're at it. Lots of people, but Ronon Dex especially.
- Supernatural. You would not want to be a Winchester. Or an angel on their side. Or their love interest.
- Dean just keeps getting hit by more and more tragedies and still has to stumble to get up and go on. Let's recap shall we? First off, his mother dies when he's a kid, leaving him to be dragged across the country in pursuit of Revenge, then his father goes missing, so he has to team-up with his estranged brother to find him; next his father dies exchanging his soul for Dean's leaving him with horrific Survivor Guilt; his brother dies, leaving Dean to make another Deal with the Devil and 1 year to live (being constantly tormented by his upcoming damnation); next he is ripped to shreds by hell-hounds and spends 40 years equivalent in Hell.
Then he is resurrected by angels to serve their purpose, constantly being haunted by the memories of his soul-destroying torture with more guilt pertaining to the fact that he broke the first seal for the Apocalypse; next he tries to handle his brother becoming a junkie addicted to demon blood; and finally he fails to stop his brother setting off the apocalypse, resulting in him spending the 5th season hunting down the four horsemen of the apocalypse and trying to put Lucifer back in his cage, so far losing hope that he agrees to let Michael possess him to defeat Lucifer even though that will raze the world. His brother's faith makes him take it back, but then Dean loses his brother again. Also, his childhood was filled with neglect and emotional abuse. Natch. It's no wonder Famine told him that he was dead and empty inside.
- Sam went through life fearing he was some kind of freak, and then it turned out he really was. His fiance-girlfriend dies at the very beginning of the series; every other woman he has ever gotten close to has died a horrible death or betrayed him, leading him to be emotionally scarred and introverted; he never lived up to the expectations of his family; was constantly denied the chance to live a normal life because of demons; was forced into hunting and the family lifestyle; his dad disowned him for going to college; his father told his brother to kill him; he's apparently an abomination of God because his mother made a deal to sell him to a demon when he was born; he never got to know said mother as she died when he was a baby because of him.
When Sam's murdered, Dean sells his soul to bring him back (and spends 40 years in hell because of it, while Sam spends that 4-month period suicidal and becomes addicted to demon blood); he accidentally starts the apocalypse trying to stop it, and then in season five finds out he's the vessel for Lucifer and that he was destined to be the Anti Christ; at the end of season five, he sacrificed himself to lock Lucifer away, knowing he'd be tortured by Archangels Lucifer and Michael for averting the Apocalypse; and as of season seven had some version of schizophrenia/mental illness due to nearly two centuries of torture in which his soul was effectively flayed and then pushed back into him after centuries of mutilation done to it. Conclusion: It's not fun to be a Winchester.
- Captain Jack Harkness from Torchwood. Between "Exit Wounds" and Children of Earth, it's no wonder he gave up and left to travel in space.
- Angel: Pretty much Connor's entire life up till Season 4 was one long Trauma Conga Line. (Not that his life was great after that; there was a brief pause, but only so we could see the damage.) In fact, things get even worse in season 4. The pleasant part of his life before a total memory wipe was the time period between seasons 3 and 4, which lasted about 3 months.
- Happens twice in Scrubs, first to Elliot and then later to J.D. During Elliot's crap, she doesn't try to get help from others and closes herself off. Most of the series has her personally dealing with her issues with some venting from time to time. JD, on the other hand, had become far too dependent on his friends and his constant self-pity had been going on for seven years by that point. It's when he saw just how annoying he could be by watching others does he start to really deal with his problems on his own instead of relying on others. It's easier to help someone when they're trying to help themselves then someone who constantly annoys you instead of dealing with their own life themselves.
- More than once, JD has wryly noted that sometimes the hospital doesn't space out tragedies and disasters so that the doctors have time to pull themselves together after each one — sometimes it just piles the suckitude on until you can't take it any more (for example, "My Lunch").
- Happens to Tommy in Rescue Me nearly every episode, although some are worse than others. He's a Type F, and remains a lying, scheming, womanizing, short-tempered, alcoholic, self-centered asshole for five seasons.
- While not technically the hero, Dollhouse's Topher seems to be the definition of this trope. Nothing seems to go well for the poor bloke.
- In M*A*S*H*, this happens to every main character at least once. Hawkeye and Margaret, in particular, get it the most, partly because they've been there the longest.
- The Doctor of Doctor Who is a prime candidate for having the worst life ever. Before the series even begins he's on the run from his own people, who never regard him as anything more than a madman and a renegade (and that's before he becomes the Last of His Kind). Every single person he loves or is close to in any way dies or leaves, though not before being inflicted with the horrors of the universe thanks to their association with him, and he always ends up alone. No matter where he goes he frequently lands in the middle of wars and invasions and general misery, enduring every pain and torture imaginable, including dying again and again in horrible ways, and witnessing the deaths of uncountable people. And no matter how much good he does or how many people he saves, his worst enemies always survive and half the universe either hates him or fears him. It's nothing short of a miracle he hasn't just given up.
- The Tenth Doctor attracted both extensive praise and criticism for suffering everything that could possibly go wrong at every possible opportunity. By "The End of Time", everyone close to him had moved on, voluntarily or otherwise, the closest thing he had to a friend was one old man who still believed in him (who he dies to save), and his almost maniacal desire to Screw Destiny and avoid his "song" ending was less about self-preservation and more desperately trying to keep hold of the last thing that hadn't been taken from him.
- Amy Pond is the trope's poster girl for the series, going through severe emotional trauma every two episodes on average. Every possible kind of hardship seems to find its way into her life, and her husband Rory is forced to live with every bit of it as well. The Doctor eventually realises this, dropping her and her husband Rory off home before he gets them killed, but they're confirmed as returning in the following season and Amy's having severe My God, What Have I Done? feelings over killing Madam Kovarian.
- River Song has been through her share of this. Or will be. Or both.
- The Wire has Randy Wagstaff in Season 4 who is only 13 to 14 years old. He confesses to knowing about a murder to his school principal to avoid getting in trouble and the drug kingpin in the streets, Marlo Stanfield, finds out about it and decides to ruin his life and puts out the word that he's a snitch. Everyone avoids Randy or beats him. Then in the Wham Episode, his house is firebombed, his foster mother brutally burned, and despite all the help of a police sergeant, he is sent to a foster home where other kids, knowing he's a snitch, beat him daily.
- Bubbles, a heroin addict and a Type I Anti-Hero, is homeless, unwelcome in his family, often gets beaten up, repeatedly fails in attempts to go clean, suffers the deaths of his two best friends (one of which he indirectly causes), and tries to commit suicide due to intense feelings of guilt. In the end, his fate is Type A, in a rare The Wire example of Earn Your Happy Ending.
- The impulsive and idiotic Ziggy Sobotka suffers blow after blow to his self-esteem - he's routinely beaten up, his precious car is stolen and torched, his pet duck dies, and finally he's cheated out of $18,000. This finally makes him snap.
- The backstory of Veronica Mars. A few months before the show started, Veronica's boyfriend broke up with her for no reason. Then her best friend was brutally murdered. Then her dad got fired from his job as sheriff, and the related events made her a social pariah in school. Then her mom abandoned her without warning. Then she was drugged and raped at a party, and the new sheriff refused to even investigate. The end result is a Type E, turning her from a popular, fun-loving high schooler to a jaded misanthrope Kid Detective with no respect for authority.
- Tara from True Blood. She starts out as the rational, fiesty, voice of reason but complications involving her alcoholic mother, the love of her life murdered, and being kidnapped by a psychopathic vampire reduces her to a sobbing wreck. She spends almost every episode crying or contemplating suicide.
- John Crichton of Farscape. To list all the things the writers put him through would take waaay too long, but the highlights include brutal torture both physical and mental, being controlled by a neural clone and forced to kill the love of his life, being cloned only to have his resurrected lover fall in love with the OTHER John and take off with her, having the other John die and Aeryn (said lover) abandon him, having her come back with his worst enemy, the man responsible for the torture and the neural clone, and being raped. And that's not even touching on all the things he's been forced to do in order to survive all of the above. Really, this trope could be NAMED for John Crichton.
- ER's Mark Green. Actually happens to many of the characters, but he really stands out.
- Jack Bauer is a Type E. While he put up with a lot of crap in the first season (including the kidnapping of his wife and daughter, the police chasing him, duplicitous co-workers and obstructive bureaucrats), he arguably triumphed...until the final minutes of the season finale, when he finds his (pregnant, unbeknownst to him) wife tied up and gutshot in the CTU server room. From that point on, 24 becomes "The Tragedy of Jack Bauer" - over the course of the series, most of his friends have died (Season 5 could unofficially be called "Let's Kill Jack Bauer's Support Network"), he's been tortured multiple times, gets little respect from government agencies because he's perceived as a loose cannon and generally has to go on the run at the end of most seasons because of the circumstances leveled on him. At the end of the series, he's almost executed and forced to flee the country, beaten and battered, with his new love interest dead.
- Arguably Izzie Stevens in Grey's Anatomy, who can fall into categories A, C and E at times. She started off being sexually harassed at work by her peers for being beautiful and minor hazing stuff from other doctors including a rather cruel learning experiment from a doctor she looked up to by giving her a patient she knew was going to die and making her responsible for seeing the patient through the night. Later on in the season Izzie lost the love of her life a heart patient at the hospital. She quit her job and became catatonic for days. She also went through a very realistic process of grief. A few seasons later they gave her cancer, killed off her best friend, fired her from her job, dissolved her marriage and then put her on a bus to never been seen again.
- Kurt Hummel from Glee comes to mind, even though a few of the things that happen to him is due to his own mistakes.
- Dr. Jack "Boomer" Morrison in St. Elsewhere. Let's see. His wife dies, his son gets kidnapped (though later returned), he gets raped while volunteering in a prison infirmary, the rapist breaks out of prison and comes after him, his girlfriend aborts his baby over his objections... when does anything go right for Boomer?
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "One of Those Days" describes, y'know, one of those days; where everything that can possibly go wrong does, from getting to work late and getting yelled at by the boss, to getting chased by Russian spies, having a 747 crash through the den window, running out of Cheetos, and finally having the whole world explode for no reason.
- The Police have two songs about this: "On Any Other Day" is Played for Laughs, and "Synchronicity II" is Played for Drama.
- Synchronicity II is definitely Played for Laughs. If it was a serious song, there wouldn't be reference to the Loch Ness Monster and Rice Krispies, of all things.
- The Half Man Half Biscuit song "National Shite Day" may be the apotheosis of this trope. The first line is "Pulling the ice axe from my leg, I staggered on," indicating that before the story has even properly begun, the narrator has managed to get a mountaineering tool lodged in his leg. It gets worse...
- Happens to 2D in Gorillaz. Ran over by Murdoc, causing his eyeball to fracture and him to become comatose. He's then put in the care of Murdoc, who crashes the car again and fractures 2D's other eyeball as well as waking him up. Since then he's been constantly verbally and physically abused by Murdoc (including brutal beatings and chloroforming, both of which have also been seen during during an iTunes interview), who also had an affair with 2D's girlfriend at the time, and he's gotten addicted to painkillers because of it. Then after the band splits up he's kidnapped by, guess who, Murdoc, who then stops him leaving the island they're on by having a whale guard his room, knowing that 2D is deathly scared of them. Oh, and his his real name is "Stu-Pot". During most of the latest Plastic Beach arc he's ended up as a Type C, curled up in a fetal position in his room and freaking out about the whale just outside.
- Warhammer 40000 has The God-Emperor of Mankind. Even disregarding the Horus Heresy, in which he got to see his children slaughter each other and come close to undoing everything that he'd ever accomplished, for the past ten thousand years the guy has been stuck on life support watching the universe go further to hell, helpless to do anything but act as a glorified psychic lighthouse against the darkness threatening to extinguish humanity forever.
- Magnus the Red didn't exactly have it easy either, and was not only essentially forced to participate in aforementioned Heresy because of it, but the very reason he did so - to save his Legion - was make utterly pointless soon afterwards. All Just as Planned for Tzeentch.
- This is Warhammer 40,000. EVERYONE is on a Trauma Conga Line. And it never ends.
- Crowning glory has to be the survivors of the First War of Armageddon (though someone should have thought about the implications of naming a planet after an 'end of days war' ahead of time). After the typical untold generations of Imperial bureaucratic corruption and negligence, an immense uprising occurs thanks to the worshipers of the Chaos god Khorne being supercharged by a passing Warp Storm. Then in comes a space hulk, carrying Angron, fallen Primarch and Daemon Prince of the god of blood and carnage. But there was good news! The Space Wolf chapter arrives, along with a gigantic force of Imperial Guardsmen, and the near-legendary Grey Knights, who are in total able to stop the invasions. Unfortunately, where go the Grey Knights, so goes the Inquisition... And since most in the Imperium don't know that most of the fallen Primarchs are still alive and well as Daemon Princes, not to mention knowing much about overall Chaos nastiness, the entire world is quarantined and every civilian and soldier that wasn't a Space Marine was rounded up, sterilized, and put into internment camps while the world was quietly resettled by people who were told only that there was a war and there had been no survivors.
- Miss Saigon: Parents killed in a military attack. Forced to work as a prostitute in order to support herself (this is how she loses her virginity). There's a brief Hope Spot when she meets a nice soldier who falls in love with her and plans to take her back to America with him—only for them to be separated during the Fall of Saigon. She then has to endure pregnancy and childbirth on her own and in hiding from those who might imprison or even kill her for consorting with the enemy. When her cousin finds her and tries to kill her son, she is forced to shoot him to protect the boy and flee to another country to avoid punishment, where she resumes work as a bar girl. Throughout all this, she hopes and prays and believes that her lover will return for her. But when he does, he's married to another woman and doesn't want to take the boy back to America. So she kills herself to force him to do exactly that.
- Setsuko Ohara of Super Robot Wars Z is constantly subjected to this. Amongst things that befell on her includes: Seeing her chief get killed, separated with her only teammate, only for him to come back and shortly after get killed, and then shortly after she herself gets physically and psychologically abused while screaming for help and nobody could save her (implied to be raped), then she sees someone impersonating her dead friend just to spite on her, then the Alternate Universe version of her dead friend and chief were manipulated that she was behind all the mess she and the world having... All done by a single person called Asakim Dowen. Depending on the player's choice, she may raise into the type A, or dwindle into type C where she ends up losing her sense of taste and slowly dying.
- Solid Snake of the Metal Gear series. Ohhh god. A few of the more memorable events that happen to him — getting PTSD from the get-go; having to bloodily murder his best friend, twice; having to murder Big Boss, his father figure and commanding officer, twice; finding out that Big Boss was his father; having the worst family in the history of ever; and then the ever-increasing spiral of horrible that starts with him suddenly being a sickly old man and gets progressively worse. And that's skimping out all the layers of detail which really add colour to the events of his life. It's dreadful enough that he goes through Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D, depending on how optimistic Kojima was feeling about life at the time (First C, then B, then A, then an attempted D, and then, finally, A again).
- And Big Boss before him. Betrayed by his mentor; captured and loses an eye during a torture session; forced to kill his not-really-rogue mentor for political reasons; betrayed by his lover EVA; betrayed by the CIA. Forms a powerful conspiracy to ensure this will never happen again, but its members begin to fight among themselves. Leaves the conspiracy in disgust, fully commits to option B and takes up arms against the United States and its true masters: The Patriots that he helped found.
- Don't forget Raiden, previously the laughing stock of the series. Man his life sucks. He was raised by the man who killed his parents; was a child soldier in a civil war; found out he was manipulated to go on a mission that was just a giant experiment; his girlfriend was to spy on him but then fell in love with him, she then became his fiance, before leaving him for another man; believed his child was miscarried, only to find out it was a cover up. Then he becomes a cyborg against his own, twice. Save for the upper part of his face and spine, his entire body is mechanical.
- There's Otacon as well. Aside from unwittingly designing a nuclear weapon, he ended being seduced by his stepmother and when his father found out, he committed suicide by drowning- nearly taking his step-sister as well. That resulted in a falling out between the two, and when he meets her again, she's dying from blood loss. Aside from that, the only person he really trusts, Solid Snake, is aging rapidly and doesn't much time with him.
- Final Fantasy VII: Before the game even starts, Cloud Strife has already: (1) endured a lonely, alienated childhood; (2) been wrongfully held responsible for putting his childhood crush, the mayor's daughter in a coma by the mayor and everyone in the town (3) been told he's not good enough to become a SOLDIER and gets stuck as a humble grunt trooper; (4) watched his hero Sephiroth destroy his hometown, kill his mother and nearly murder both his childhood crush Tifa and his good friend Zack; (5) suffered over four years of sadistic experimentation from a Mad Scientist which reduces him to a catatonic vegetable; and finally (6) helplessly watched Zack die in a gutwrenching heroic last stand to protect him. All this results in Cloud suffering his first Heroic BSOD, a very understandable case of Trauma Induced Amnesia, and identity confusion.
- THEN, during the game itself, Cloud ends up being mind raped by the Big Bad Sephiroth into: (1) nearly killing his teammate Aerith not just once, but twice; (2) handing over the Artifact of Doom to Sephiroth (again, twice); and (3) questioning Tomato in the Mirror not only his memories but his very identity as a real person. He's also forced to stand by and watch Sephiroth murder Aeris while being unable to do anything about it. Cue a second massive Heroic BSOD that requires a Journey to the Center of the Mind to fix.
- Advent Children throws him back into massive depression and despair by making him and the orphan he's adopted suffer the painful and deadly disease Geostimga. The disease also allows Sephiroth to constantly Troll Cloud's subconscious, thereby making Cloud obsess about the promises he'd failed to keep and the lives he failed to save.
- Fortunately, Cloud manages to avoid further major physical or emotional trauma in the sequel Dirge of Cerberus. Vincent, however, is not so lucky.
- All that said, Sephiroth himself suffers from this. At the start of Crisis Core, one of his best friends, Genesis, deserts Shinra. After failing to bring him back, Sephiroth's other best friend, Angeal, also deserts. He is tasked by Shinra to hunt them down and kill them, if necessary. During this, Genesis keeps trolling Sephiroth. Eventually, he learns that he is the result of a science experiment. Afterwards, he plans to leave Shinra because, well... it's Shinra, but before he can, on his last mission, he finds out that he is part Ancient. The Ancients died in a catastrophic event while the humans survived by hiding. And so begins his life of evil... hard to blame him, really.
- The tie-in-comic Back Story of Darion Mograine, from World of Warcraft. His brother murders his father, his father gets converted into a Death Knight, Darion tries to save him without knowing what's happened and is too locked up in horror and disbelief to fight effectively while everyone that came with him is killed by the Four Horsemen. After a moment of Type C, the spirit of his father guides him out of there... to the other son, for revenge, but not before the brother tries to beat Darion to death. Eventually, Darion manages to do A, B, and D all at the same time. Those who paid attention to his dialogue in the Death Knight starting chain know what I mean...
- Kingdom Hearts:
- Xion in Kingdom Hearts 358 Days Over 2. Apparently a Mary-Sue type character, it turns out Xion is an artificial clone of Sora made to eventually kill Roxas and absorb his power, and if she's not up to the task then the Organization plans for Roxas to kill and absorb her instead. Furthermore, because she's a clone constructed out of stray fragments of Sora's memory, her existence is even more tenuous than that of a normal Nobody. As a result, when she dies everyone she ever knew forgets she ever existed. There's also the problem you go into the game knowing she's Doomed by Canon. Certainly the pinnacle of this comes at the end of the game where she battles Roxas, the guy she's heavily implied to be in love with by this point, and dies in his arms while he's struggling to remember her name, his memories of her fading already.
- Roxas too, for a lot of the same reasons as above actually, and more. The poor guy has no memories, all he knows is that he can use a Keyblade and it's important he kill Heartless. When he asks questions of his allies to try and figure out the things he ought to know but doesn't, they treat him like an idiot for that reason. At least Xion eventually figured out that the Organization was using both of them, Roxas doesn't clue in until practically the end of the game and thus spends most of his single year of life working for people who exploit his abilities and plan to kill him once they're done with him. The only really happy time in his life is the last week, when he's implanted with fake memories and is imprisoned in a virtual reality simulation - and once that week is up, he merges back with Sora.
- But first the poor kid had to find out it was all a big lie in the worst way possible. I say again, poor kid.
- The protagonists of Birth by Sleep don't fare much better. Special mention goes to Terra, who is tricked by villains (going so far as being possessed and stealing somebody's heart in his very first world) and the game's big bad at every turn, manipulated into believing his friends have left him, manipulated into letting the darkness in, tricked by the villains some more, has a nice brief stop-off at Destiny Islands with a nice little Heartwarming Moment, then inadvertently causes the death of someone he loves, is smacked around a lot in the first part of the final battle and finally has his body stolen by the big bad at the end of the game, with it being implied he's been fighting for control since the end of Birth by Sleep. Ventus doesn't fare much better, having his Heart ripped in two to create Vanitas before the game even begins and ends the game with his heart being separated from his body after a Heroic Sacrifice to destroy the in-story Infinity+1 Sword, and would have died if not for Sora's intervention, his body little more than an empty shell. Aqua fares a bit better than the other two, but is still forced to fight both of her friends when they're possessed by the game's two villains and eventually falls into the Realm of Darkness after sacrificing herself to save Terra. One thing is certain about Kingdom Hearts 3: Sora has a lot of work to do.
- Add to the two above that Roxas is pretty heavily implied by Word Of God to be kind of an incarnation of Ventus and you get the most screwed up existence in the history of existences. Jesus, Nomura, give the poor kid a break!
- Aribeth gets this thrown at her in Neverwinter Nights and the expansions, leading to a Heel Face Revolving Door and at various points reactions according to Types A, B, and D.
- A small part of the plot of Xenogears goes something like this: Several hundred years ago a very honorable man is scarred by tragedy and becomes result (B). Another man scarred by the same event becomes result (D). In the present tense the protagonist is secretly some sort of Jungian catatonic ball with two personalities, one of whom tries to live out his life in peace (C) and the other who decides to wreak havoc (D again). However, the protagonist eventually overcomes his split personalities, becoming result (A). Pretty much every hero or villain in this game is a crowning example of this trope.
- Special mention to Billy Lee Black who, in addition to his already tragic backstory, goes through an unbelievable amount of crap in less than 24 in-game hours as summarized here.
- Rondo of Swords has a type E in one of the playthroughs. After all Serdic goes through he finally breaks after a Friend Or Idol decision that ends up in favor of the idol. Now while Serdic does lose a lot of his of warmth and idealism, his ethics and morals don't really change. At the end of the game he does rediscover love again and has a peaceful, prosperous reign as king.
- After half a game of staying cheerful and upbeat desipte the numerous atrocities he witnesses, main character Jude of Wild Arms 4 gets hit with this HARD. First, a traveller he made friends with turns out to be the strongest member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad. Then, almost immediatly after finally finding his captured mother, she dies a horrible death right in front of him. Then Kresnik, a reformed member of the quirky member squad, falls to his death (or does he?). And THEN, he's forced to kill his long lost father after he snaps and becomes an Omnicidal Maniac. Whew...
- Hell, him becoming a forest ranger in the Epilogue was probably his way of getting away from it all.
- In Silent Hill, the Trauma Train has pulled out of the station well before any of the player characters got there, so when it steamrolls through everybody it touches (including the bad guys!) gets affected to varying degrees, and how well the protagonists fare from the Conga Line depends on which of the Multiple Endings you get. (Here's a hint: save from the wacky, out of left field joke endings, the best Silent Hill has to offer are Bittersweet Endings.)
- In Tales Of Vesperia, Estelle during Part Two. She finds out, the hard way, that her healing artes causes Entelexia to go insane, then later learns that using her powers could to destroy the world. Then she gets kidnapped by Schwann/Raven and tortured into doing the bidding of Alexei, and sent over the edge by his hand that she begs Yuri to kill her. (Fortunately, he hauls her back). And after all that, She somehow manages to come out Result A! That girl deserves to be a saint!
- Also Leon Magnus from Tales Of Destiny (the remake at least). After a healthy dose of Character Development in part 1, Leon is finally happy and respected...then Part 2 starts and his mother-figure is kidnapped forcing him to destroy his career, help the Big Bad with his plot by the stealing the Eye of Atamoni, and his previous character development is more or less rejected as he reverts back to his childish Ineffectual Loner state and rejects The Power of Friendship to save her alone. Then she attempts suicide hoping to save him, and he loses his will to live until he is told that she is alive (He's not allowed to see her though). But he is still effectively a pawn and now has to fight his friends. The result of all of this is either A or C (or a mix of both) depending on how one views his Heroic Sacrifice.
- The sequel suggests a Result A, but that may be a bit iffy since it is based on the original PS1 game where Leon was a legit Jerkass in a sad situation rather than a Jerkass Woobie whose thoughts and status as The Chew Toy are revealed over the course of the game.
- God Of War has Kratos. Very much a Type D.
- Fou-lu in Breath of Fire IV is marched down a Type B/Type D Trauma Conga Line by the very empire he was the King in the Mountain for; the increasingly extreme efforts The Empire takes in killing what is their literal founding God Emperor eventually go to the point of the use of a Fantastic Nuke powered by Fou-lu's GIRLFRIEND (said Fantastic Nuke explicitly works on the principle of Love Hurts, the closer the bond, the higher the mega-tonnage), and — when THAT didn't work — having The Emperor run Fou-lu through with a soul-eating sword made from the botched summon of another god (which only resulted in Emperor Soniel literally losing his head). This Trauma Conga Line eventually results in Fou-lu deciding that Humans Are Bastards and the use of Mami as a tactical thermonuclear Country Mouse is arguably the event (in the MIDDLE of the Trauma Conga Line, no less!) that causes him to become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
- Oh, and the Vestigial Empire that summoned Fou-lu in the first place buggered up the summoning, resulting in the god being split in twain and each half of the Literal Split Personality ending up on opposite sides of the world and temporally displaced 600 years. It's also outright stated that the Fou Empire and its Vestigial Empire predecessor the Muuru Empire still have not managed how to learn to summon a god in one piece and are involuntarily yanking the entities the world knows as "gods" from their own lives. (Yes, Fou-lu's Trauma Conga Line veritably began from the moment of his existence on that world.)
- In Mass Effect, depending on how s/he's played Shepard will have gone through this starting years before the games even take place, and that's only the backstory. In-game s/he suffers a continuous Conga Line from all sides, and it's particularly amazing that Shepard getting killed in the second game is not his/her lowest point. Then Mass Effect 3 puts Shepard through the wringer, forced to flee Earth as it gets annihilated by the Reapers, suffers from extreme Survivor Guilt for those who have died in the series thus far aided by nightmares of a little boy s/he failed to save on Earth, and that's the most positive point in the game for him/her.
- Tali has this happen in full force during her loyalty mission in Mass Effect 2. After all that happens, it's a wonder that Tali is even still functioning, much less sane.
- Faize Sheifa Beleth from Star Ocean: The Last Hope ends up a Type B after the ruthless destruction of his planet and the annihilation of his people (the latter which happens right in front of his eyes) cause him to snap and attempt to destroy the universe so that no one has to feel pain any longer. In his defense, he was being controlled at least somewhat by the Grigori. Though, it's never revealed just how much his actions then stem from it, and he showed plenty of signs of instability beforehand...
- In Assassin's Creed, everything that happens to Subject Sixteen/Clay Kaczmarek is part of a Trauma Conga Line. Everything. Emotionally abusive father, neglectful mother, captured by an evil corporation, betrayed by his only ally, abandoned by the Assassins, tortured and driven insane, committed suicide, uploaded his brain to help his successor, trapped in the program, mind deleted after performing a Heroic Sacrifice... the poor guy can't catch a break.
- The entirety of Spec Ops The Line is a trauma conga line on the protagonist, Walker, as he's subject to atrocity after atrocity while committing a few of his own. By the end of the game, he is a broken man
- In Skyrim's backstory, Ulfric Stormcloak - Rebel Leader and Big Bad / Big Good of the Civil War questline, depending on which side you pick - endures a pretty vicious conga line. Raised to be a Greybeard, he gave up their pacifist philosophy to join the Imperial army when his conscience refused to let him sit out the Great War with the Aldmeri Dominion. He was subsequently traumatized by the deaths of untold numbers of friends and countrymen, captured by the enemy, tortured until he broke, manipulated into believing that the information he divulged was directly responsible for the fall of the capital city (it wasn't), and then sent home believing that all of it was for nothing after the Empire signed a treaty that capitulated to the Dominon's demands (which included banning his people’s most revered god). A spectacularly ill-thought-out attempt to regain freedom of worship then landed him in prison, and while he was still locked up his father died and he was forced to deliver the eulogy via a letter smuggled out of jail. All of this seems to have happened by the time he was roughly 25. It’s no wonder the man is kind of bitter.
- The Terra route of Rewrite has Kotarou. After joining Guardian, he goes into the battlefield and becomes one of the few surviving members of his group. Later, he tries helping Kagari in saving the world because he is sick of how Guardian works. This forces him to betray and kill his own comrades along with his mentor to protect her. He tries to prevent the ritual in Gaia's headquarters, but people still die in the process. Finally, after all his efforts, he is the one who personally delivers the fatal blow to his love Kagari because it is the only option left. It is no wonder that he mentally breaks down and asks if he is cursed.
- The Bad Boys Love route of Hatoful Boyfriend is one giant Trauma Conga Line for all characters in general, but its main victim is Ryouta. Ryouta, the sweet and adorable childhood friend of the female protagonist, who finds her severed head in a box, is constantly harrassed by a terrifying scarecrow mecha as he tries to find out who killed her, only to learn that he is the one who unintentionally killed her after being infected with a human-killing virus by the resident evil doctor who plans to use him as a weapon to exterminate the entire human race, all due to a well-intentioned wish that Ryouta made when he was a fledgling that the doctor proceeded to twist and warp beyond recognition. Oh, and that scarecrow mecha that Ryouta managed to kill with a stungun? Its head contained the brain of his supposedly dead childhood friend, which is now effectively damaged beyond medical repair thanks to being fried with Ryouta's stungun. Is it any wonder why he comes this close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon after all of this?
- In Muv-Luv Alternative, Takeru is on one for the entire course of the game. But between all the suffering he goes through thanks to the game gleefully deploying Kill 'em All, the most notable part is from the XM3 Trials until he meets the 00-unit.: He loses it fighting BETA thanks to his deaths in his previous loops giving him PTSD, and after getting his ass kicked, his mentor, Marimo gives him a pep-talk, only to have her head CHOMP'd off by a Soldier-class. He promptly loses it even worse, and attempts to rape Meiya. Afterward, he attempts to flee back to his peaceful former world, which he does- he meets Marimo, who's notably Alive, and all of his friends, including Sumika... only for Marimo to die again- by having her head shoved into a meat grinder. But it doesn't stop there. Takeru comes to the realization that HE'S responsible for her dying in his world- as he brought the information for her death with him when he fled. Done? Nope. Next he finds that his friends and loved ones are forgetting him, because their memories are being sucked into the world of Alternative. Realizing he'll have to spend his life alone forever, he attempts suicide by sleeping unprotected in the snow- doesn't work because Sumika warms him up. Resolved that Sumika won't forget him he goes to school for one last day- only for Sumika to have completely forgotten him in the morning. Then she's crushed by a falling basketball hoop, which, once again, is his fault for bringing the information from the world of Alternative. When this occurs, he is seriously Driven to Suicide, only to be stopped by Yuuko, and later returned to the world of Alternative.
- Archer from Fate/stay night. Having once been an idealistic crusader with a credo to save everyone, Archer lost everything in the process of trying to save the people around him, while gaining nothing but scorn from his fellow humans and losing his friends, his lover and everything. In the end, after having sold his existence to Earth for a miracle that would save a few dozen people, he lost his life by being betrayed by someone he saved and ended up a Counter Guardian — one of Earth's "garbagemen", used to ruthlessly exterminate anyone who would threaten the safety of mankind by whatever means possible and no matter the collateral damage. By the time the game rolls around, Archer has become a broken, bitter person, consigned to his fate as one who saves people only at the cost of killing others.
- Basically Sakura Matou has been a broken girl after her father gave her to the Matou family. She has only known cruelty from the Matou's like Shinji raping her or Zouken implanting worms to her body. She resented the Matou's, her father and her sister but still she managed to keep her sanity. That is, until Heaven's Feel when Sakura finally snaps and becomes a Type B as Dark Sakura.
- Phoenix is a type F in Apollo Justice Ace Attorney. After being tricked into using fake evidence and framed for it, thus losing his badge and his reputation, also getting his disappeared client's little girl dumped in his arms but having no idea how to take care of her and not having a source of income anymore, plus, of course, all the stuff that happened in the previous games, like losing his mentor... he just Took a Level in Badass and became a bit bitter and cynical, but he never seems to have broken down at all.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: Nagito Komaeda. And how. While he throws some shade on whether he's making it all up or not, game hints and additional materials indicate he's fully telling the truth about the hellish cycle of bad luck and good luck that's been his life. His family decides to go on vacation, only for the plane to be hijacked. Then a meteor kills the hijackers, saving most of the passengers, but also crushes his parents in front of him, which leaves him alone with a huge inheritance. Then he gets kidnapped by a serial killer, and is found hiding amongst trash... which includes a winning lottery ticket. THEN he's diagnosed with malignant lymphoma and concurrent frontotemporal dementia, just before winning the lottery to be accepted into Hope's Peak Academy, where he becomes a patient of their SHSL Neurologist. And this is all before he ever even crosses paths with Junko Enoshima. Little wonder he's burnt out on life in general and a Stepford Smiler at best.
- In all versions Natsumi's story in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, Natsumi gets dealt a really rough hand. She finds out that her hometown was exterminated in a giant gas disaster, her grandmother starts going crazy and drowning puppies in the bathtub (no, literally), people start suspecting everyone from her hometown is secretly an Ax Crazy murderer (potentially including her if anyone finds out she's from there), her new boyfriend sees some of her grandmother's crazy antics, her grandmother is killed by her mother (who then forces Natsumi to take part and help her hide the remains), and her mother then kills her father and attempts to kill her and Akira. Granted, Natsumi is actually the guilty party for some of the last items on this list. The visual novel, however, evidently decided that she didn't go through enough in the previous manga version and throws in her finding out that all of her classmates are going to one college, but due to her middling grades, she will go to another, as well as her making friends with a fellow Hinamizawan at a retirement center, only for him to go on a murderous rampage throughout the nursing home after the gas disaster. You know, because she just wasn't quite traumatized enough in the previous version.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures : What HASN'T freaking happened to Abel in his life? His best friend from childhood killed herself, he watched several people die in a single day, including an old enemy that he was reconciling with and ended up listening to his dying thoughts, his father turned out to be a succubus who killed his mother's husband years ago and proceeded to terrorize and shame May and kidnap Abel away to SAIA. And that's just part one!
- Homestuck: Poor, poor Tavros.
- It seems every almost every update from 1/24/11 onward is dedicated to crushing Karkat: He's watched his friends get murdered (by each other), his plans fail horrifically, and his romantic inhibitions get crushed.
- Let's just say everyone who isn't a permanant resident of the dreambubbles, Jack Noir, or LORD ENGLISH is having one really bad day/week/million-billion years.
- And now the dreambubble residents have had their day spoilt too, and Jack Noir is currently being chased by a vengeance-fueled postwoman who is really, really pissed off.
- That's not to mention WV. He gets his innocent farm burned down dozens of times, begins a rebellion and watches helplessly as Jack Noir slaughters every single one of his soldiers. Then, after he parts ways with John, Jack blows up a ship he happens to be riding in, sending him to a post-apocalyptic Earth, that's merely a gigantic desolate desert. He's not done yet. As things FINALLY begin to look up for him when he meets the other exiles, he watches at John gets killed in front of his eyes, gets trapped in a capsule, dreams that he's become Noir - his worst nightmare - only to wake up and realize the embodiment is in front of him. Jack then proceeds to rip a chunk of uranium out of his stomach, nearly killing him. It's yet to be seen whether the conga line will continue.
- Great: "Lousy" doesn't even begin to describe the main character's introduction. It appears that he gets better.
- Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick since the end of the Azure City arc. First, he/shenote feels guilty that the battle is lost and the party is split, trying desperately to contact them, failing every time. He is haunted by bad dreams because of his failure to save Azure City. Then he gets his family threatened, which results in a Deal with the Devil, and him going over the top when saving them, casting Familicide on the dragon, which again results in his mate filing a divorce. Type A, so far. But when he sees the result of the Familicide he had cast earlier, it turns into a Type C (spoiler warning!). And let's not forget that as a result of the Deal with the Devil, the fiends will take over his soul for a time.
- Girl Genius: Airman Third Class Axel Higgs, full stop. Higgs is basically Type F:
Dr. Sun: When they found your father
he was severely injured. They set out for the hospital immediately, even though the fight was still raging. They were hit by some kind of cannon. The alarms woke Airman Third Class Axel Higgs. He reported for emergency duty, he found the main cabin in flames—and the crew dead.
Then he saw the monsters. Some kind of biological weapon, I'm betting. Higgs could see that there was no help to be had from the rest of the fleet—
(in flames, through the window) and the monsters were between him and the evacuation gig. Things were actually going fairly well, until he found your father.
While he was dragging him to the gig, he encountered Captain Dupree, who was delirious. She broke his arm. He knocked her out, but broke her jaw in the process. He got them both into the gig and shoved off just as the ship went down. He's not rated as a pilot or navigator, but he set the ship controls toward Mechanicsburg and rigged a crude automatic pilot. He then began to apply first aid to your father—which is when he was again attacked by Captain Dupree.
This time, she broke his leg. But he finally managed to subdue her. He tried to find some way to restrain her, which is when she bit him. That's infected, by the way. She also got in a good, solid kick at the gig's controls. He did his best to fix the damage, and then tried to set his own arm—and apparently, blacked out from the pain. Only to awaken as the gig was crashing into a farmer's pond. He dragged your father and Dupree ashore, where he encountered a nesting goose—which broke his other arm.
The farmhouse was some distance away, but as fortune would have it, there were troops there. They had been hearing strange reports coming from Sturmhalten, so they were already jumpy when they saw Higgs coming. They thought he was a revenant, and shot him in the leg. Afterwards, they were very sorry. They saw to your father and Dupree, called for emergency transport, and gave Higgs some rum. Lots of rum. Before he passed out, he told them everything.
- Shandala of Broken Saints fame, whose biography reads like something off of the From Bad to Worse page. Washed ashore on a Fijian island and adopted by the tribe, her childhood was peaceful and idyllic until her adoptive mother was viciously murdered and mutilated by white strangers under the command of (and possibly personally led by) the Big Bad. Then, as an adult, she reluctantly leaves her home and family and all that she loves to find the truth about her biological parents. Then, her adoptive brother Tui is accidentally killed due to an big scary empathic rage thing on her part. Then, she is washed off the ship in a giant storm and found and brought to the lair of the Shadow Men to be tortured and sealed away in the back of a sleazy strip club. Then, after being rescued, she ends up falling back to her Superpowered Evil Side briefly, deciding to go back home, and ends up confronted by The Dragon, who murders and mutilates her Empathy Pet Bula the same way her adoptive mother was, and then kidnaps her. Then, in the Grand Finale, she is turned into an instrument of mass suffering via her empathic powers by her Big Bad father, only saved by her friends in time for her to commit a Heroic Sacrifice and save the world. And yet throughout it all, she retains her purity of heart.
- Ayla Goodkind (Phase) of the Whateley Universe. In a massive Break the Haughty event, Phase goes from an incredibly wealthy heir to the biggest fortune on the planet to a despised mutant intersexed freak who is turned over to a Mad Scientist by his own parents and on getting out ends up living in a basement. On going to Whateley Academy he is hated for being from the best-known mutant-hating family around. those don't even touch on highlights like getting trapped in a sewer and attacked by zombies. Or nearly being eaten by an unkillable demon. Or...
- Part of what makes The Nostalgia Critic so fun to watch is this mixed in with Misery Builds Character. The guy's life is shit, and it's sadistic fun to see how he'll react to the next horrible thing happening to him.
- Frank Grimes from The Simpsons.
- Butters Stotch from South Park seems to be perpetually going through one.
- Robot Chicken: The Worst Halloween
- Peanuts: Depending on the episode, Charlie-you-poor-sucker-Brown.
- Avatar The Last Airbender: Zuko and how! First, his mother leaves him (to save him no less), then he gets challenged to an Agni Kai as a thirteen-year-old, by his own father who brutally scars and then disowns him, then he gets sent on a Snipe Hunt after the Avatar. During said quest how much happens to our poor banished prince? (Read: Too much to list here.) And then when he finally gives up that quest he has to fight his little sister in the show’s only real deathmatch and take a lightning bolt in the chest to save a friend's life. He lives through it, but barely. The next day he has to start ruling his country, which he is effectively going to have to force through a Heel Face Turn, after they’ve been at war with everyone else for a century.
- He was even destined to take on all that trauma from birth, being a direct descendant of both the Fire Lord who started the war and the Avatar who opposed him. His destiny was basically to take on all the horrible influences from his father and co. and all the positive influences from his uncle and the Avatar, and come out of it with the understanding necessary to make the right decisions and have the right credentials to be the Fire Lord the world needed to rule the Fire Nation in the wake of the Avatar’s defeat of Ozai. In a way all this trauma molds him into a much more complex character than the Avatar and allows him to fill a role that the Aang could not, which ends up being almost as important or maybe even as important as Aang's own role in the story.
- It also makes him the thoroughly-adored Woobie of the series.
- Beast Wars: Poor Waspinator! Almost every episode, he is blown to bits, killed, or badly injured, just to come back the next one.
- Metalocalypse: While pretty much every band member has their share of trauma, special recognition must go to rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth. He spent most of his childhood in Lillehammer being forced into manual labor and punished with physical abuse by his deeply religious father, to the point where Toki goes catatonic upon seeing him. Even within Dethklok he is one of the bigger Butt Monkeys of the band, constantly being the victim of horrible things and being forced into the background by lead guitarist Skwisgaar. Everyone that he loves is cursed to die in a horrible way, including his cancer-stricken father with whom Toki had just reconciled...moments before dropping him down an icy mountain and falling into a frozen river where he drowned before Toki's eyes. And in the fourth season, Toki meets the guitarist he replaced, Magnus Hammersmith, who at first seems intimidating and like he may be planning a scheme. Instead he saves Toki's life from a bully's exploits that nearly killed him, and they end up becoming friends, only for Magnus to reveal himself as a member of the Revengencers and take Toki hostage as part of the group's attack at the end of the season. But not before stabbing him in the stomach. The only consolation at this point is that he's probably not dead.