Woobie Family

Sitting somewhere between individual Woobies and entire Woobie Species is a family or a bloodline that experiences an inordinate and unwarranted amount of suffering, trauma, and personal tragedy in its ranks. Whether it is justified in-story with a Hereditary Curse, or the writers just have it in for them, this family just cannot catch a break.

Compare Badass Family (the two may overlap as a clan of Iron Woobies) and contrast Big, Screwed-Up Family, whose members also tend to suffer a lot, but only a few (if any) receive audience sympathy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rule of thumb: if you're a member of the Yagami family and your name isn't Reinforce Zwei, the Lyrical Nanoha fanbase has probably wanted to give you a hug (they wanted to hug Rein too, but for entirely different reasons). Hayate was a paraplegic orphan suffering from a terminal illness, the Wolkenritter were basically slaves for centuries, Reinforce Eins is a literal Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and the plot of A's is kicked off by fate (not that Fate) threatening to take away the happy life they managed to build together in spite of all of that. This stops applying in later seasons, though not before their joined by Agito, a Living Weapon who was experimented on for an unspecified period of time and found herself unable to properly repay the man who saved her life despite her best efforts.
  • The Souma of Fruits Basket fame take the Hereditary Curse avenue. If you count all of the non-Souma characters who end up marrying into the family, the angst level skyrockets even further. No one had a happy childhood, no one got their happy ending without a pound of flesh.

  • The Silmarillion.
    • The House of Finwë suffers one tragedy after another. It starts when Finwë loses his first wife, and it all goes downhill from there.
      • Fëanor and his sons bring most of their misfortunes upon themselves, but it's still hard not to sympathise with some of them. Celegom, Caranthir and Curufin all die in Doriath; Amrod and Amras die in Sirion (unless you go with the version where Amras is accidentally burnt to death by his own father); Maedhros is the only known Elf to have committed suicide; Maglor is left wandering the shores of Middle-earth in regret; and Curufin's son Celebrimbor makes the spectacularly stupid decision to trust "Annatar" (Sauron in disguise) and ends up impaled on Sauron's banner.
      • Fingolfin dies fighting Morgoth; Fingon dies in the Battle of Unnumbered Tears; Turgon loses his wife Elenwë and dies when his nephew Maeglin betrays his city to Morgoth; Aredhel is forced into marriage note  and murdered by her husband; Argon dies almost as soon as he sets foot on Middle-earth; and Aredhel's son, the aforementioned Maeglin, dies in the destruction of Gondolin (though his actions immediately preceding his death make it hard to have much sympathy for him). Of the lot of them only Turgon's daughter Idril note  survives to return to Valinor.
      • Finarfin doesn't go to Middle-earth, but his children do. Finrod dies fighting werewolves; Angrod and Aegnor die in the Battle of Sudden Flame; Orodreth dies in the Battle of Tumhalad; Galadriel survives to return to Valinor but sees almost her entire immediate family wiped out; Orodreth's daughter Finduilas is killed by orcs; and Galadriel's daughter Celebrían is attacked by orcs and has to go to Valinor or die.
      • And that's not counting all the misery Elrond (Idril's grandson) and his children endure, or what happens to Gil-Galad (who belongs to a branch of the family, but not even Tolkien knew which branch).
    • The humans, not to be outdone, have the Húrin/Huor family.
  • The Starks in A Song of Ice and Fire. Between deaths in childbirth, being betrayed and slaughtered by their "allies" to imprisoned and threatened with rape and torture, Forced to Watch all of the above, going from riches to absolute rags, being forcibly separated and scattered to every corner of the known world and having any attempt to get back to each other pulled out from under them the Starks have seen it all. The fact they were acknowledged as the most honorable noble house in Westeros and were a rare, close-knit family who only wanted to remain at home together rather than getting involved in the fight for the throne makes it even worse.

    Video Games 
  • The Windrunners in the Warcraft/World of Warcraft lore. Parents and brother were killed by the orcs, oldest sister disappeared while exploring a dying world, middle sister was killed and turned undead by the Scourge, grandfather had to fight nephew-turned-undead, and two brothers ended up essentially killing each other.
  • The Witch of Izalith and her children in the Dark Souls series. The Witch herself and two of her daughters turned into an Eldritch Abomination when their attempt to prolong the Age of Fire went bad. One more daughter died, two were turned into Spider People, one eventually went Hollow defending what was left of her mother, and the only brother became a Humanoid Abomination without his sisters' help. The only daughter who escaped relatively unharmed suffers from horrific PTSD even centuries later, when you come along and have no choice but to kill all but one of her surviving family members (you can then kill them both, as well).
  • The Hawkes in Dragon Age: their father spent his life on the run as an apostate mage, his wife was disowned by her noble family for eloping with him, then he died shortly before the Fifth Blight destroyed everything he left to her and their three children. One of said children was then killed by the Darkspawn in front of their mother and siblings, another (potentially) died from the Taint, their mother was turned into a zombie by a deranged mage and had to be put down by her eldest child, and the eldest child became the world's premier Cosmic Plaything, when their attempts to take care of their dysfunctional friends and family brought about several cataclysmic events that shook Thedas to the core.
  • The family of Lucas, Claus, Flint, Hinawa, and Boney from MOTHER 3. By the end of the game, Claus and Hinawa are both dead, Flint is emotionally distant from his son, and Lucas has to go through the pain of losing his brother TWICE.
  • Ptahmose and his children in The Secret World. Three thousand years prior to the events of the story, they overthrew the tyrannical regime of Pharaoh Akehanaten - only for Ptahmose to be forced to take drastic steps to keep the Black Pharaoh from rising again: with no other choice, he sacrificed the lives of all seven of his children and transplanted their souls into the Sentinels - seven giant statues watching over Akhenaten's Black Pyramid, keeping his power suppressed. Immediately afterwards, Ptahmose was Driven to Suicide, binding himself to their side as their caretaker. Three thousand years later, the Sentinels are still there, each of them suffering in their own way - particularly Moutemouia, who was forced to give up her mortal family to become a Sentinel and has latched onto her little brother as a substitute son in a desperate attempt to keep herself sane. But the worst is yet to come: thanks to the activities of the Orochi Group, Akhenaten is breaking out anyway - making Ptahmose's sacrifice completely pointless.

  • Greek Mythology: The Atreides are a family that seems to go out of their way to receive Laser-Guided Karma via murder, cannibalism, betrayal, adultery, incest, and familicide (often combined). It only ends when Orestes (whose only crime was killing his mother in revenge for killing his father, and even then had been ordered to do so by Apollo) after going mad and being pursued by the Furies, is acquitted by the gods.

  • Goria and Jone in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. Goria was an orc chieftain's daughter exiled for bearing a half-human child (Jone, who was also mute from birth). When she turned to the humans for help, she was grudgingly accepted but nearly forced into prostitution by humans. When a blacksmith offered Jone a job, things started looking up... and then Glon led a raid on the town, killing the smith and capturing the two. Here they had a short Hope Spot, with Goria being betrothed to Glon and Jone being trained as a smith. Then Jone's true destiny as the orc god's champion manifested, and she became the Ax-Crazy leader of an Army of Thieves and Whores before finally being killed off. Later, a war broke out between the drow and the orcs, and Goria was murdered, seemingly happy to finally be free, and when the orc god was assimilated by a drow goddess, Jone was resurrected.