Woobie Species

The Woobie is an individual who suffers. This trope is The Woobie on a wider scale, applying to an entire group. In particular, woobieness happens to be a trait of an entire species (alien or otherwise) or fantastic race.

The reasons for this can vary. Maybe they are endangered. Maybe they are misunderstood or discriminated against. Maybe they're enslaved or made into hapless mooks, especially if they're made sympathetic. Whatever the reason, the audience and/or characters in-universe feel sorry for them.


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    Anime And Manga 
  • Most half-human and half-demon hybrids in Inuyasha count for this considering that both humans and demons refuse to accept them most of the time.
  • The Diclonii from Elfen Lied. Bonus points for the bulk of them going down the Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds road.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica have the Witches, former Puella Magi that have gone past the Despair Event Horizon and became monsters. After this is revealed killing them becomes less about saving people and more about performing a Mercy Kill.
  • The title creatures in Sekirei, a race of battle aliens forced to participate in a game where There Can Be Only One. This involves seeking out their One True Love and then fighting to the death against the rest of their kind with the knowledge only one will be allowed to stay with their Ashikabi. Out of the 108, the vast majority are Monster Munch or Red Shirts with absolutely no hope of winning against their more powerful elders, the Single Numbers. This leads many pairs to attempt to flee the capital, only to be hunted down and slaughtered by the Discipline Squad.
  • The cursed children from Black Bullet, young girls born with the Gastrea virus in their blood, the same virus that turn people into Eldritch Abominations. How society treats the cursed children is sickeningly in Jim Crow law levels (from public flogging and lynching to forced segregation and even Police Brutality). And because the cursed children are born with said virus, they'll eventually turn into Eldritch Abominations anyways in a much slower rate. It gets worse for them when the government plans to strip them away from their citizenship and plan a genocide against them.
  • The Diclonii in Elfen Lied are treated as less than animals, tortured and experimented on and slaughtered without hesitation or mercy. Ostensibly this terrible treatment is because Diclonii will eventually wipe out humanity, but it's clear that this is simply a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy caused by humans' own bastardry.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Beastmen, despite being the mooks of the first half's Big Bad. They're an artificial species created by Lordgenome for the sole purpose of serving him and killing humans on the surface, incapable of reproducing without cloning, and because they lack spiral power they Can't Catch Up to humans who've unlocked it, swiftly slaughtered and left irrelevant.


    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Mirrors In Shadows portrays changelings as this. They are every bit as intelligent as ponies but operate on Blue and Orange Morality, and drive themselves to enforce a Hive Mind mentality (going so far as to not name themselves) to cope with how they constantly need to imitate ponies just to feed. Since they feed on love via Vampiric Draining, a pony will die if they stay too long meaning if they ever actually find a pony they love, they have no choice but to abandon them.

    Films — Animated 
  • Titan A.E. has humans themselves, because Earth was destroyed by the Drej, making humans galactic drifters.
  • Mice in An American Tail, where they are made to represent oppressed minorities and are subjugated by cats.
  • How to Train Your Dragon has the dragons themselves, when it's revealed they're enslaved by the Red Death, forced to wage war against Vikings to get her food (resulting in thousands of deaths) and get hardly anything to survive on themselves. No wonder Hiccup was so drawn to them.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Na'vi from Avatar exist to make us feel sorry for the plight of indigenous peoples.
  • The alien "prawns" from District 9 are another racism-related example combined with What Measure Is a Non-Cute?.
  • The Thermians from Galaxy Quest. They all seem relatively peaceful and innocent, but they're also under attack by another alien species intent on wiping them out. On top of that, they have no concept of fiction, meaning that they end up mistaking a Star Trek-esque show from Earth as the real deal and model their entire society after it before finally recruiting the cast of the show to try and save them from the aforementioned genocidal aliens (and they take it pretty hard when they find out none of it was actually real).

  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks are the misunderstood variety... for the most part. They are basically blind, sapient slugs who only take hosts to compensate for their biology. Only those in power and those seeking power can be said to be really evil, as most of them are either swept up in the propaganda or afraid to challenge superiors.
    • The Taxxons suffer from Horror Hunger so overwhelming that any wounded will be quickly devoured by their brethren, and if they go too long without food they will eat themselves. Eventually the entire species Mode Locks themselves in morph just to escape it.
    • The Hork-Bajir were peaceful, none-too-bright herbivores until the Yeerks wanted them as shock troops. Many were abducted and turned into hosts, and the remainder were wiped out in an attempt to deprive the Yeerks of hosts (which failed, as the Yeerks already had enough for a viable breeding population).
    • Gedds seem to be inferior to many species in just about every way. And because they're the basic Yeerk host, almost none of them are free.
  • The House elves in Harry Potter have a physiological compunction to serve and be ordered around by other species. There is a big element of Happiness in Slavery, but it's clear that most House elves outside of Hogwarts are viciously abused and mistreated.
  • David Brin's Uplift saga has humans themselves. Most aliens despise or hate them as an upstart rogue species that never had a proper upbringing, but even in-universe a few view them as The Woobie.
  • In A. E. van Vogt's Slan, the titular species, hated and hunted by ordinary humanity, bore a striking resemblance to the smart kids who get picked on at school, the primary demographic of most science fiction of the time.
  • Discworld:
    • Of all the intelligent humanoids on the Disc, Fantastic Racism may hit the goblins the hardest - they face poverty and social marginalization wherever they live, and in many areas aren't legally considered people and can be murdered and enslaved with impunity.
    • Orcs are considerably less pathetic than the goblins, but it's not as if they wanted to be bio-engineered cannon fodder in someone else's war. The only named orc character is a woobie in his own right.
  • The Nephilim of the Hush, Hush series. Their entire purpose is to be tracked down by fallen angels and be Mind Raped into spending the rest of their lives in the service of said fallen angels. Said service consists of the fallen angels possessing their bodies for two weeks out of every year, and using them for physical sensations that are usually sex. While the Nephilim are still conscious in their possessed bodies. Also, Word of God states that Nephilim become immortal and frozen at the age they are when they are forced into the service of fallen angels, so they get to look forward to an eternity of this treatment.
  • The Acharis in The Neverending Story, hideous worm-like creatures who hate themselves for being so ugly and who spend their lives crying as a result.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The obscure species known as the Evocii, the original inhabitants of the planet that would come to be known as Nal Hutta. The Hutts conquered them, stripped them of their rights, and polluted their planet so badly most of them become horribly deformed, and what's more unlike a lot of oppressed species such as the Chevs and the Nikto, they don't even get a happy ending under the New Republic, as it's implied that the Yuuzhan Vong killed them all during their conquest of Nal Hutta.
    • No matter the time period, Wookiees are almost always being enslaved en masse or killed to the point of extinction. Even during times of relative safety the wider galaxy still views them as primitives or musclebound thugs.
  • Mistborn:
    • The kandra, once you get past the squickiness of how their powers work note . Victims of extreme Fantastic Racism from humans who fear and/or are squicked by their abilities, the only way they survive is by creating a Contract that allows individual kandra to rent themselves out as servants to powerful humans, who often abuse them horribly (since, as the kandra Ten Soon notes, you can beat a kandra to death at night and still have them ready to serve you next morning, so long as you give them new bones). Oh, and their ancestors were human, and the process used to transform them leaves them open to mind control by an insane, nihilistic god.
    • The koloss are a Jerkass Woobie species. Created by the Lord Ruler to act as shock troops, koloss are humans who have been transformed into enormous, mentally-stunted berserkers. Only able to experience two emotions, apathetic and enraged, they vaguely remember that they were once human and still should be, but no longer know exactly what that was like. Like their "cousins" the kandra, they are also open to being controlled by the same dark god.
  • The Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were this once upon a time. This tribe of unusually Little People comes from Loompaland, a Death World where they were constantly at the mercy of carnivorous beasts. They found some protection from them by building a Tree Top Town to live in, but they still faced a lack of palatable food for themselves — they subsisted primarily on mashed green caterpillars — and more than anything else they craved cacao beans, which were virtually nonexistent. When chocolatier Willy Wonka came along and offered them the chance to live in his chocolate factory and enjoy all the cacao beans they wanted in exchange for serving as his new workforce, they didn't hesitate to take him up on the offer!

    Live Action TV 
  • The Newcomers from Alien Nation basically exist to teach us An Aesop about racism.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Ood were enslaved, exploited, and had their natural telepathic field dampened, for 200 years. Fortunately the Doctor arrived to help, and they made strides to repair their culture and civilisation.
    • The planet of the Tivolians is the most conquered in the galaxy. However, after one of them sacrifices an innocent person in attempt to save themself, the Doctor notes that they're also one of the oldest races in the galaxy. "Your cowardice isn't quaint, it's sly."
    • Cybermen are people jammed into metal life support suits, stripped of all emotion (supposedly) and sensation, with no goal other than converting more people to Cybermen. The original Cybermen from Mondas were ordinary people who went the Transhuman route to try and save their species from the degrading conditions on their world, but because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul they no longer recall why they did this to themselves and now seek only to survive and propagate their "species".
    • The reboot series frequently attempts to portray the Daleks as a Jerkass Woobie species, deliberately designed to feel nothing but hate for all other life and having no purpose other than extermination.
    The Doctor: Sealed inside your casing. Not feeling anything, ever, from birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage. Completely alone. That explains your voice. No wonder you scream.

    Tabletop Games 

    Video Games 
  • The Demi-humans in Chrono Cross are discriminated against and exploited by humans.
  • Star Control:
    • The Spathi are pantophobics and are born in such numbers that they receive no attention from their parents. They had a chance to have a protective bubble put around their planet, but due to a mix-up, they are now Reluctant Warriors for an alien dictatorship.
    • The Utwig are horribly depressed because they accidentally broke their Ultron, which is the most important MacGuffin in the history of their society. Although, there is a quest where you can fix it.
    • The entire Ur-Quan civilization was enslaved by tyrannical Hypnotoads and reclaimed their freedom only after a lengthy campaign of mind control-disrupting self-torture. Small wonder half of them became control freaks and the other half became Omnicidal Maniacs.
    • The Androsynth, although they are not, strictly speaking, a separate species: they are humans, just like the Earthlings. First, they get enslaved by the rest of humanity. Then, after they finally escape and settle a planet of their own, they get enslaved again, this time by the Ur-Quan Kzer-Za. Then, when they start doing research into inter-dimensional fatigue (looking for a way to escape slavery again? Remember, they escaped from slavery the first time by discovering hyperspace, the first humans to do so), the Ariloulaleelay, who had worked so hard to protect humanity from the Orz, do nothing to warn them of the dangers. Sure enough, they break the dimensional barrier and unleash the Orz, who proceed to wipe them out in some mysterious manner. The games hardly acknowledge how tragic and unfair their fate was. In the second game, Earth seems perfectly happy to welcome the Orz to the New Alliance, never mind that the Orz had already wiped out half the human race.
  • Dragon Age's elves have not had it easy, that's for sure. Their original homeland was invaded by the Tevinter Imperium, and they were enslaved. They were freed after they helped Andraste overthrow the Imperium and established a new homeland. This was invaded by the Chantry (which was founded by Andraste's followers) because they didn't help stop the blight that was going on at that point, and are now either second class citizens living in walled off alienages in the cities, or in the forests, where they try to reclaim their heritage, and even then are often seen as troublemakers. It gets worse in Dragon Age: Inquisition with The Reveal that everything they knew about their homeland was wrong. The Elven Empire was just as bad, if not worse than Tevinter and Orlais, with an immortal nobility that enslaved lower class elves. The blood-writing the Dalish put on their faces to honor their gods? Those were originally slave brands nobles put on their slaves to honor the gods. The final nail in the coffin is an Ancient Elf admitting that the Elven Empire destroyed itself in a civil war. Tevinter simply scavenged the remains.
  • Mass Effect:
    • The Protheans got wiped out in a galactic genocide over the course of centuries, the only survivors a few scientists who sacrificed themselves so they could Fling a Light into the Future. Then it's revealed that some of them are still around, mind-controlled and warped into Bee People. However, statements made by Javik show them to be also a Jerkass Woobie species.
    • Despite being the main enemy species in the first game, the geth. In the infancy of their sapience, the quarians attempted to destroy them all simply for having become self-aware. Despite the situation, they remained almost depressingly cooperative and friendly to the quarians before the war over Rannoch broke out. Even afterwards, they are still more than willing to make peace, but are forced into siding with the Reapers in self-defense because the quarians are trying to exterminate them again.
    • Speaking of the quarians, whether you see them as committing unjustifiable genocide on the geth, or simply trying to stop them before they could turn against their masters in a spat of Wrong Genre Savvy, it's hard to deny that their current lives aren't easy. They live on a giant fleet, that has limited resources, and could be crippled by destroying the few liveships they get all their food from, are probably the biggest victims of Fantastic Racism in the series, seen as outcasts and troublemakers by the rest of the galaxy, are blamed for creating the geth (even though every single person actually involved in those events has been dead for centuries), are frequently enslaved, and must spend all their time in their environmental suits or become very sick and possibly die.
    • The drell. Even more of an endangered species than the quarians and would have gone extinct altogether if the hanar hadn't come to their aid. Unfortunately the environment of the hanar homeworld isn't compatible with drell biology, the high humidity causing an incurable, progressive and ultimately fatal condition called Kepral's Syndrome which is the leading cause of death among drell.
    • The Krogan are a complicated case. They are all infected with a Sterility Plague that has driven them roughly over the Despair Event Horizon as a species, and most of them have given up on fighting honorably and have become bounty hunters and Death Seekers. However, the Sterility Plague was released after the Krogan started a galactic war in attempts to conquer the galaxy. So, in a way, they are responsible for the situation they are in. Also, the Genophage is designed so that the Krogan can overcome it and survive should they learn to stop fighting. However, this trope becomes more straight when it is revealed through talking with Mordin that they were able to wreak the havoc they did only because the Salarians "uplifted" them by giving them space-faring technology that they weren't ready to have to help fight a war for them. The main reason they were trying to conquer so much was not just out of power-thirst, but because they'd made their homeworld nigh-uninhabitable. And in Mass Effect 3 it's revealed that they were on the brink of cultural renaissance before the Rachni Wars.
    • The Batarians were only shown as slavers, mercs and terrorists in the first two games. But in Mass Effect 3 the Reapers steamrolled through their home systems, turning their entire civilisation into refugees; batarians encountered in this game are a lot more pathetic and pitiful.
  • The Mudokons in the Oddworld saga. The utter woobieness of the main character as he tries, in his hapless way, to free his fellow woobies from a lifetime of slavery is the main appeal of these games.
  • Gorons and Zoras from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Ganondorf starves the Gorons when their leader refuses to hand over the Goron's ruby, and later tries to feed them all to a dragon in the fire temple as a warning to those who would defy Ganondorf's rule. Also, the Zoras are frozen under ice after Ganondorf takes over; they get better, but in real life this is the kind of thing that would kill you.
  • Half-elves in Tales of Symphonia, who are the outcasts of society, rejected by both humans and elves. The fact that the evil organization that's rounding up humans into concentration camps is made up entirely of half-elves certainly doesn't help the race's image, either. It gets to the point that the two half-elves in your party have to pretend to be pure-blooded elves just to have a decent life, and the Big Bad is a half-elf trying to bring about an Assimilation Plot to end racism by making everyone the same race of lifeless beings.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • The Dunmer have a long series of hardships throughout their history, but the absolute worst comes by the time of Skyrim, where their homeland is buried by an erupting volcano and invaded, forcing them to disperse into other lands as refugees... only to be discriminated against and looked down upon by the natives there.
    • The Orcs are an Iron Woobie Species. They were turned the way they were by their patron god being devoured, they've faced oppression and racism from just about every other race - particularly the Bretons and Redguards, their immediate neighbors - and every time they manage to carve some land for themselves and found a nation of their own, it doesn't last. But they take this all in a stride, and have become all the stronger because of it.
    • Argonians have a long history of being enslaved and marginalized by the other races, especially the Dunmer. As of Skyrim, they've become a little less deserving of sympathy when they invade the Dunmers' homeland of Vvardenfall, though it's arguably payback for what the Dunmer did to them.
  • Halo:
    • Engineers, initially True Neutral pacifist critters who just like fixing technology, late in the war many of them end up defecting to the UNSC because of how the Covenant has been mistreating them, such as having bombs strapped to them.
    • Grunts are just Slave Mooks that mostly have no real qualm with humanity. Usually they're too tiny and weak to be a threat. Usually. Plus, they can be really funny to listen to, like here.
  • The enslaved whales in the Dolphins' Nightmare section of Ecco The Dolphin: Defender of the Future. The two Ecco meets are being used to power the Hanging Waters. In the same reality, the Outcast dolphins come across as a species of Jerkass Woobies - they're jerks to the other marine life as much as all dolphins are in that reality (since their ancestors had Compassion stolen from them) but are constantly abused by the Clan dolphins.
  • Touhou:
    • Fairies are far at the bottom of the social and power hierarchies of Gensokyo, treated as laughingstocks and disposable Mooks to blast through on the way to the real objective, and because of The Fog of Ages they're perpetually children no matter how old they get. That same childishness means they never dwell on their lot in life, but it's not pleasant being a fairy most of the time.
    • The Underground is a Fantastic Ghetto where all the youkai who are despised by other youkai are sent. Most of them don't want anything to do with the surface dwellers and much prefer the new arrangement... except for the satori, who are shunned even by their fellow exiles and hated and feared by all. One of them, Koishi, essentially lobotomized herself because it was so bad.
  • Pokémon:
    • Each Yamask apparently Was Once a Man. That mask they carry around? It was their face when they were human. They cry when they look at it.
    • Absols can sense when natural disasters are about to occur and try to warn people about it, but the fact that they can't vocalize mean that they were mistaken as the source of said disaster, and often get abused and chased out of the area they're living in as a result. X and Y's pokedex entry uses the past tense regarding that rumor though, so maybe the myth has died off.
    • Cubone is the original Pokémon Woobie, and appears to have been designed to harp on this trope as hard as possible. Cubones are orphans, having been separated from their mother at a young age (and, in a just-a-bit-creepy development, wear said mother's skull as a helmet). They avoid interacting with others and at night, they can be seen staring at the moon and crying, since it reminds them of their mother. Their species name is "Lonely Pokémon."
  • Shades from Nier were infected with White Chlorination Syndrome, watched their world get destroyed, gave up their human bodies. Some of them went insane, forced into cryogenic sleep, and then treated as monsters by their clones and slaughtered.

  • The Ferin from Terinu are genetically engineered slaves with built-in dyslexia and incapable of refusing a direct order by their masters.

    Web Original 
  • SCP Foundation has SCP-955 ("Mr. Sillybug"), who just wants to be your friend, but with a face like that and a startle reflex that involves spraying highly corrosive mucus everywhere, that tends to end poorly.

    Western Animation 
  • The title characters of Gargoyles had their species nearly driven to extinction in the first episode, and spend the series fighting against threats of exploitation or death from all sides.

    Real Life 
  • Endangered species, though which species is given the most sympathy varies greatly. If the animal is cute and cuddly, like the Panda, then millions of dollars will be spent to ensure that they breed and are well taken care of, if it isn't, then people might not really care about it that much.
  • Dinosaurs, though they're rarely given credit for it by documentaries, which traditionally portray their extinction as a good thing (Most Writers Are Human after all). Discovery Channel's "The Last Day of the Dinosaurs" plays them up as woobies fairly well, showing what a catastrophic event the asteroid impact was.
  • Sharks. Thanks to a certain movie they have an irreparably horrible reputation, despite killing fewer people than dogs and the vast majority of species are harmless to humans. Around a hundred million sharks are killed every year for no good reason, and most people don't see anything wrong with this. Not helped at all by humans who like talking about how cute and harmless the animals known to tear sharks and other animals apart for fun are (dolphins and orcas).