YMMV: Mahabharata

  • Applicability: See Alternative Character Interpretation.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Karna, an Honor Before Reason servant to the wicked Duryodhana, was cursed by his guru Parashurama to have the mantras that he learned fail him. The reason? Karna outed himself as a kshatriya (which even he did not know) while Parashurama was resting on his lap and an insect bit the Karna, drawing blood. Later on, in the Mahabharata, Parashurama comes to Karna in a vision and explains that his death by said curse is fated, and that if Duryodhana wins then evil will fall on the land. This allows Karna to Face Death with Dignity, so it could be a form of Let Them Die Happy.
  • Character Tiers: It's not all that clear, but general trends are set. Pandavas are more heroic than most heroes, but are outmatched by Bhishma. And of course even they cannot hope to be on equal footing with Krishna.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome - too many to list, since even the antagonists have their moments.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The whole thing can be interpreted as ‘dharma is a stupid, erratic concept that will screw you over and favour the evil’.
    • Perhaps more charitably, Krishna's entire message to the Pandavas is to be good, but not Stupid Good.
  • Iron Woobie:
    • Karna. Abandoned by his mother, fights on the wrong side for the most honorable possible reasons and gets screwed out of his life for "lying" about his caste. Shoot the Shaggy Dog is Older Than They Think, though he gets honored AFTER dying.
    • Also, Abhimanyu. A sixteen year old warrior prodigy who dies fighting his father's war, and had to be cornered by several of the greatest Kaurava warriors before kicking the bucket.
    • Ekalavya. Despite being low-caste, trains himself as a warrior to rival Arjun by eavesdropping on Drona's lessons. Then willingly and dutifully obliges when Drona asks him for his thumbs in payment.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Guru Drona asking for tribal boy Ekalavya's thumb as a guru dakshina, so that Ekalavya is no longer the best archer and Arjuna could pass the former. It's hard to sympathize with Drona after that, especially when he refuses to teach lower caste boys like Karna for fear of history repeating itself.
  • The Scrappy - Yuddhistira. Not only does he gamble away his kingdom, his brothers and their common wife, he also gambles AGAIN, loses *a second time* and is exiled for twelve years. Yet, he is called "Dharmaraj" or the upholder of dharma.
  • Tear Jerker - too many to list.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • The Pandava brothers, especially Arjuna. Arjuna as a kid wanted to be the best archer, which his guru Drona promised he would become, and he complained when a tribal boy Ekalavya surpassed him. Not to mention that he mocks Karna, a "charioteer's son," for being of a lower caste. They are shocked when they learn that Karna is their brother after the battle, and Arjuna afterward Took a Level in Kindness, but still!