First, there's Miles Edgeworth who thought he killed his father when he was nine and has had nightmares about it every single night for 15 years. The incident also caused a paralyzing and debilitatingfear of earthquakes. At best, his phobia paralyzes him as he curls into a small ball shaking on the floor. There are times that he has even passed out. His phobia is so severe that even airplane turbulence can trigger it. He will likely have this phobia for the rest of his life. Then there's Detective Gumshoe, a lovable kind-hearted character who is constantly getting his salary cut and often whipped by Franziska for simple mistakes, some of which are not even his fault. There's also Maya Fey, who was accused of murder twice, once for the death of her own sister, and she was almost killed by her own aunt for her position as heir to the head of her family's clan and the only family she has left is her young cousin, who is herself a bit of a woobie as well. Not to forget Adrian Andrews, Ron DeLite, Vera Misham, and still others.
Players may feel particularly sorry for Adrian Andrews because they had to personally pin the crime on her to prolong a trial, and later make a Sadistic Choice between her life or Maya's. Nice work to make the player feel like becoming The Atoner. That's not all though. Not only is she completely innocent, but she tried to kill herself because of her co dependency, and begs you for help throughout the trial unlike most guilty parties (because she's not guilty at all). Her co dependency is the real issue here, her pillar of strength killed herself and she lost the will to live. Thankfully when you meet her again, she's a lot calmer, though still no less clumsy and Adorkable.
Franziska, who - it is implied - has become this sealed-off whip-wielding Ice Queen due entirely to her father and his (likely rather soul-killing, given his personality) demand for perfection, as well as some kind of complex re:Edgeworth and a fear that she'll never be as worthy in her father's eyes as her adopted brother. There's a reason why fics dealing with her tend to play on this angle.
Will Powers, a lovable, gentle children's entertainer who just happens to have a very intimidating look about him and has to wear a mask in all of his roles because of it. Framed for murder of a guy who had intended to frame him for a different murder. The circumstances of said murder cause the show he stars in to be cancelled. He's also apparently out of a job after the second show he stars in finishes.
Mimi Miney in case 2-2. The poor girl is overworked and stressed out to the point where she has a nervous breakdown and accidentally kills 14 people by giving them the wrong medication. As if this easily life-ruining event wasn't bad enough, two weeks afterwards she gets into a horrible car crash, killing her younger sister Ini and getting her face burnt beyond recognition. She takes advantage of it by having her face reconstructed as Ini's to make everyone else think it was Mimi who perished in the crash, allowing her to escape her miserable life once and for all. Except even that doesn't last, because not even a year later her old boss comes knocking to our good friend Maya Fey to have her channel the believed-to-be-deceased Mimi so that said boss can prove once and for all that the aforementioned mass manslaughter wasn't his fault, forcing Mimi to kill him to avoid it getting out that she's not actually dead whilst also unwittingly becoming a pawn in one of the series's resident villains' far more sinister plot.Trauma Conga Line doesn't even begin to describe it. It helps that her boss was an Asshole Victim.
Acro in the much-hated Case 2-3: a former acrobat and Friend to All Living Things orphaned at a young age and adopted by the circus owner, now confined to a wheelchair and unable to leave his room by himself after a stupid prank by the girl his brother was in love went wrong, leaving him crippled and his brother in a permanent coma, and the girl blissfully unaware that she could possibly have done anything wrong. And to make things worse, when he tried to get revenge on her for effectively killing his brother, he accidentally murdered his beloved adoptive father instead.
Max Galactica from the same case. Yes, I know he's extremely arrogant, but that's only skin deep. In reality, all he wants is for his fellow performers to shoot for the stars. Acro, despite framing him, describes him as having a diamond shining in his soul. With that said, Acro is the only one besides Regina who has anything nice to say about him throughout the case. Everyone else hates him, and thinks he did it. Even Acro tries to frame him. Early on in the case, it's revealed he lived on a poor farm and joined the circus to pay off his Dad's farm debt. His real name? Billy Bob Johns. Let's just say Maya is very shocked by this. If you can see past the facade of arrogance, he's actually a very sympathetic character.
On that note, how about Diego Armando/Godot? Yes, yes, I know he's a real jerk to Phoenix and his plan of dealing with Morgan Fey's plan to kill Maya was stupid and self-centered and he personally killed Misty. But come on! He gets poisoned by a murderous bitch, the woman he loves is murdered while he's in a six-year coma, and he has to constantly go through agonizing medical treatments just to stay alive! Deep down, he's hiding so much despair, guilt, and self-loathing that it's amazing he can even show up to court. Maybe he's a better example of Jerk Ass Woobie, but if his story doesn't make your heart wrench...
The entire Fey clan is a big ball of misery and suffering. EspeciallyMaya and Pearl.
And Betrayal, don't forget Betrayal.
And no list would be complete without mentioning Maggey Byrde. As she states in each appearance, she's been experiencing a string of bad luck since she was six months old, when she fell off the balcony of her ninth-story apartment. In-series, she's been (wrongfully) accused of (at least) three murders, been on trial for said murders twice (three times if you count one retrial), and even convicted of one (though that one eventually was overturned). In addition, she's lost her job three times, each time as a direct or indirect result of a murder accusation. And that's just part of the bad luck we get to see for ourselves.
Phoenix Wright himself counts. Everyone, literally EVERYONE, takes advantage of him at the end of each game by making him pay for expensive meals, cameras, and the like, which is even brought up again in Dual Destinies. Not to mention he loses his job in Apollo Justice and mentions that Trucy is his "light". Someone give this man a hug.
That's not even half of it. First, Phoenix believed for many years that he fell madly in love with a manipulative bitch and serial killer who, after tricking him into helping her escape being convicted for killing the boyfriend of his beloved mentor and the woman who saved his life, tried to kill him and ended up killing someone else trying to warn him about her. Then, shortly after he becomes a lawyer, his friend and mentor is murdered, and the actual murderer tries to frame HIM for it. Then comes a series of trials where he is continually bullied and disrespected by EVERYONE, and not to mention put in severe danger and huge dilemmas numerous times, because he is pretty much the only one who can help his clients. He constantly puts his career, reputation, and sometimes his own life on the line for the sake of those who have nobody on their side, and doesn't get shit in return. His second-to-last trial reveals that the girl he fell in love with was the twin sister, yet completely different person, of the aforementioned monster. Though he still clearly cares for her, it seems he can't be with her, at least partially because she is put in jail for being an after-the-fact accomplice to murder. THEN, after after winning that case and surpassing his mentor (and thus her spirit leaving him), he loses his job, reputation, and (maybe) friends because he fell into a trap set by another monster who decided to destroy his life just because the client hired Phoenix over the asshole, and because said client was also a jackass who wouldn't give Phoenix the damn evidence that would have cleared him immediately. Phoenix spends the next seven years as a hobo, playing poker and caring for the abandoned daughter of that jackass client, before he FINALLY makes everything right. How he is still able to be a good, determined, and unbreakable man, let alone SANE, after all this crap is nothing short of a MIRACLE! He needs A LOT of hugging!
It gets better! He was in a mock class trial as a child for stealing Edgeworth's lunch money which even the TEACHER thought he did it. When he thought everyone had abandoned him, Edgeworth uttered his classic line and defended him with Larry helping out. Larry, however, was the real culprit and didn't pay Edgeworth back until about 10 years later. Good going, Larry. In Apollo Justice, he's also injured several times because he hasn't already been a Butt Monkey enough, has he?
And it doesn't stop there either. In Dual Destinies things seemed to be looking up. He got his badge back courtesy of Edgeworth, he has a new protege in Athena Cykes alongside Apollo Justice and they were going on as well as they could. Then Apollo's best friend gets murdered and Athena's inadvertent connection to the case plus his Perceive ability makes him take a leave of absence due to being unable to fully trust her (and he already had some unresolved issues with Phoenix still lingering from AA 4). On top of that, after turning a case around ATHENA gets fingered as the culprit instead which sends her off to prison. And then , Trucy went off to keep an eye on Apollo and would eventually get taken hostage by a STAGED ROBOT REBELLION! Oh, and the favor that he was supposed to do for Edgeworth was in danger of failing as he was supposed to absolve Blackquill for his crime 7 years ago and he was due for Execution TOMORROW! In the middle of this Nick had walked back to the Agency a sorrowful and beaten man. The only thing that saved him was the fact that he and Maya Fey have grown so close that she was able to feel his sorrow all the way from Kurain Village and sent Pearl and a letter to him to immediately pick his spirits back up. If not for her, Phoenix would've lost everything all over again in the span of one day.
Ace Attorney Investigations Arc:
Lauren Paups, desperately in love with a rich boy who didn't care about her at all and tried to not only pin her father's murder on her, but to actually make her believe herself to be the killer. And speaking of her father, she had no idea who he was before he was already dead.
Said father actually changed his kid's grades so he could give his child the illusion he was a genius, while withholding the truth from him. Then he proceeds to berate him in court later. Sure, Yumihiko snaps out of it thanks to Edgeworth, but you feel a serious satisfaction knowing Bansai won't be bullying his son again.
Also, at one point in the final case, Bansai actually leaves the witness stand and suggests "going home" with his son to "play". At those words, Yumihiko starts trembling.
Sota Sarushiro had a terrible father too. In fact, that's probably why he did what he did. He just couldn't stand up to his father's expectations. Speaking of Sota let's talk about him. Basically he's an orphan who was abused by his biological father, who made him taste sweets because he lost his sense of taste. When this became too much for the kid, he ran away and was adopted by an Orphanage of Fear. He was tied up by one of the kids be befriended, Manosuke Naito, who's father also happened to be a Jerk Ass. Naito and Sota were abandoned by the orphanage owner in the middle of nowhere but saved by the assassin Ryoken, who he looked up to as a father figure. Since then, Sota had dedicated his entire life to ruining the lives of Ryoken's enemies and manages to get all of them convicted, including Naito who betrayed him. So to summarize, he had basically no real childhood friends which made him something of a misanthrope, and wanted to pay back the only man who treated him with kindness. Sure he did use unethical methods such as kidnapping a 13 year old boy with the intention of framing him for murder, and framing the innocent Kay Faraday for another murder in order to get Bansai Ichiyanagi convicted making him something of a He Who Fights Monsters but his childhood was practically nonexistent. To pay him back for what he did, the assassin Ryoken saved Sota after De Killer turned on him and tried to kill him. It helps that Sota is regarded as one of the series best villains.
Apollo Justice and Dual Destinies Arc:
ApolloJustice counts just as much as his mentor by taking Butt Monkey to a somewhat unfunny extreme, especially during Dual Destinies. First off, he's an orphan that was presumably adopted by Kristoph Gavin. In addition, in Apollo Justice, everyone mocks him for his loud voice including his own biological mother. (To be fair, she didn't even know she had children. And Klavier, Trucy and Phoenix were more friendly teasing.) Unlike Phoenix, he's also treated like a high schooler when he's 23 years old and barely gets any respect from the police officers. And it only gets worse in Dual Destinies when it turns out his best childhood friend was killed and the suspect is his longtime idol. During the trial for his idol, a bomb goes off and Apollo heroically protects Juniper Woods from the rubble sustaining serious injuries. Finally, he's struck on the head by the bomb operator suspect and ends up in a hospital. At last, it becomes too much for poor Apollo and he takes a leave of absence. Ouch...
Vera Misham seems to be the biggest Woobie of all of them. A life indoors, completely cut-off from society, unknowingly forged paintings, nearly killed from one of her habits, extremely shy, etc.
Another one of Apollo's clients, Wocky Kitaki could qualify as well, but given hispersonality, he's probably more of a Jerkass Woobie. Let's see. He has a bullet almost right next to his heart which both the doctor and nurse covered up. Had he really been the murderer, he'd probably be one of the most justified murderers in the series if he found out about his botched surgery. But he's completely innocent and got framed by his finacee, who didn't marry him for love, rather she married him because she knew he was going to die and she'd have the family fortune all to herself. Despite all this, Wocky still continues to defend Alita, and blames Apollo for getting his finacee convicted even after she spells it out that she never married him for love.
Klavier can also qualify for having prosecuted both his brother and his best friend and bandmate and because of this, having to disband his own band, which he really loved considering how much he gushes about it. You can tell he's putting on a brave face when he's accusing his brother. There's also the implication that he was bullied by his brother shown in the manga and heavily implied in the game. He's pretty much a Stepford Smiler.
Trucy doesn't get off much better, despite being adopted by Phoenix. First, her mother supposedly dies while rehearsing a trick with her dad and her uncle, then a few years later her grandfather dies under mysterious circumstances and the only viable suspects are her dad (who gets arrested for it) and her uncle. She gets roped into helping her dad run away from court when she's eight years old and he doesn't return for her, leaving her with the guy who just got disbarred because her uncle ends up in jail in lieu of her dad. When her dad finally appears again, when she's 15, he goes to see Phoenix and then gets murdered. Phoenix ends up getting arrested for his murder. THEN her panties get stolen. Then next year she gets taken hostage.
Dual Destinies, in addition to Apollo, has quite a few other characters who qualify.
Let's start with Athena. First at the tender age of 11, she witnesses her mother being murdered, and her big brother figure being convicted for her mother. She also has the misfortune of having her best friend accused for murder twice. Athena also didn't have a father to look after her so she lived with her relatives in Europe. Later on, she gets accused of murder again when her prints are found on conclusive evidence of the murder of Apollo's best friend. This poor girl has gone through a Trauma Conga Line and yet still manages to keep smiling.
Though he might not seem like one at first, Prosecutor Simon Blackquill has woobie-ish qualities to him when you think of what he did for Athena. He thought she murdered her mother and pleaded guilty to the murder to protect her. His life was ruined by the events of his mentor's murder. And as you might have guessed, he didn't kill her. The fact that he's willing to be executed for a crime he didn't commit if it means Athena lives is very tragic. His parallels to Godot make him a very sympathetic antagonist, protecting the daughter of his mentor so she could live a happy life. This man deserves a hug.
Juniper Woods is a more obvious example especially after being subjected to constant verbal abuse from Gaspen Payne, who drove the poor girl to tears. She's easily frightened and has fits of coughing as well as an inhaler implying she has asthma. In the third case, she acts all collected but as soon as she starts doubting her two best friends, she breaks down. In the first case, she also nearly got crushed by rubble, but was protected by Apollo, who she owes a debt of gratitude to.
As of the DLC case, the upbeat Sasha Buckler and even the culprit though he didn't kill the victim, Marlon Rimes qualify. To begin, Sasha was presumably an orphan taken in at a young age by Jack Shipley (we never see or hear mention of her family throughout the case), has a heart condition (one that could possible be fatal), and despite all this, is put on trial for the murder of her Benevolent Boss and father figure, Jack Shipley. Rimes lost his girlfriend to an unfortunate accident and isn't very social with people despite his Nice Guy attitude. Wanting to take revenge for his girlfriend's accidental death due to a heart condition, he tried to drain the water from the orca pool and kill Orla, the orca inside the pool. He even feels bad about all of this, and regrets having to testify against Sasha, who looks surprisingly like his girlfriend, making him one of the most sympathetic antagonists since Acro. He's also really good with animals, especially the penguins and generally prefers the company of animals to people. These two had it rough.