- Jessica Jones from Alias (no relation to the Jennifer Garner series.) She lost her parents in the accident that gave her superpowers, and her initial career as a superheroine ended with her being kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery by the Purple Man. And the worst part was, even though she had friends in the superhero community at the time, it was months before any of them even noticed that she was missing.
- Ninjette, who describes herself as a professional drinker/ninja, is haunted by her father's alcoholism, an abusive past, and her clan's plan to use her as breeding stock
- Sistah Spooky, who sold her soul for her looks, but hasn't worked out any of her issues with beautiful blonde girls. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Oh, and Mindf**k';...Between the telepathy she can't turn off, her horrible break-up with Sistah Spooky, and being forced to gouge out her eyes and cut out her tongue by her older brother, it's no wonder she can get a bit cynical. The only reason she seems well adjusted, aside from self-imposed regular isolation? She's forcibly re-edited her own psyche to suppress certain...problematic impulses in order to be as unlike her older brother as possible. That's right, she's so broken she brainwashed herself into faking un-breaking.
- Katchoo from Strangers in Paradise is outwardly tough but a frightened little girl inside, probably because of her terrible childhood and all the years she spent running from her Mafia Princess ex-girlfriend. She's very dependent on Francine and David (and later Casey), but can be very abusive of them as well, and she tends to hit the bottle after every serious fight with them.
- Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl, after her spinal injury at the hands of the Joker. Complete with hypercompetence, mentoring of other heroes (though Huntress and Black Canary were really Broken Birds themselves, rather than cheery optimists), the requisite explosive teary breakdown early in her story when her partner learns a bit about her horrible past, and a slow evolution into a happier, less bitter, and more open person culminating in undergoing a procedure to regain the use of her legs and subsequently becoming an active crime-fighter again.
- In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Barbara's parents were murdered when she was a child. After being adopted by the Waynes she began preparing and became Batgirl.Batgirl: And Kara? ... You'll survive this. He just knocked you off your cloud, that's all.
- Expect a second boilerplate Broken-Bird-evolves storyline, with the third Batgirl -Stephanie Brown- in the 'cheerful mentee' role, over the course of the new volume of that series.
- Huntress: Helena Bertinelli is basically Bruce Wayne as Mafia Princess, except her entire family was murdered by a rival mob, and as a crimefighter, she has absolutely no qualms with killing.
- In any universe and timeline, Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El has endured tragedy: She always loses her parents -usually twice-, her home is destroyed -at least thrice-, she's used and manipulated... and she always tries to overcome her pain, make herself stronger and become a real hero.
- In the Red Daughter of Krypton arc, an enemy notes this:Worldkiller-1: Look at you! The universe tried its best to destroy you and it only made you stronger.
- Superman: Brainiac: Kara's cousin and Lois talk about her, pointint out that Kara is only fifteen and she has already lived through genocide and her familys loss.Clark: She spends all of her time in that cape. She's missing out on so much... because I think she's afraid to lose it again.
Lois: Kara's been through a lot of trauma.
Clark: I only want her to be happy.
- Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Kara is taken from her home, has to go to a school full of jerks, gets sad, depressed, upset... but she never lets anything gets her down. Mr. Mxyzptlk isn't happy about it.Mr. Mxyzptlk: See, in the end, you were just too sweet, just too optimistic and happy. I take you from home, I give you a best friend and make her hate. Nope. No matter what I put you through, you always looked on the bright side. Bah!
- Mera pre-Flashpoint suffers the death of her son Aquababy progressively leading to a falling out between her and Aquaman, the destruction of Atlantis followed by the death of Arthur, eventually leading to her being too despondent to pick up the pieces and holding vigil at Arthur's old home. And that's when Blackest Night happens, when the reanimated corpses of Arthur along with the rest of the deceased Aquafamily attack her and Aqualad/Tempest, killing the latter. She holds it together for as long as she can, keeping her emotions in check in order to evade detection from Black Lanterns. That is, until a beatdown by a Black Lantern Ring controlled Wonder Woman triggers her rage, which gets her chosen as a Red Lantern, triggering an uncontrollable fury. When Wonder Woman confronts her again, this time as a Star Sapphire, and uses her Lasso of Truth on her, she realizes how empty and full of regret and self-loathing her ally is over her failure to be there for Arthur and all the lies and things left unsaidnote . Mera, while a bit closer to sanity, has one last heartbreaking moment when Black Lantern Aquaman shows up again, this time tempting her to join him with the now undead Aquababy. She angrily retorts "I never wanted children." before blasting them both with red plasma. Thankfully, she does get better after Arthur revives via the White Lantern Ring, as does their relationship with Brightest Day.
- Superman story arc The Third Kryptonian tells the story of Karsta Wor-Ul, who ran away from her home and spent centuries being hunted all across the galaxy, losing her husband and all of her friends in the process.
- Spider-Woman/Jessica Drew. On top of her already broken and screwed up past, she gets caught by the Skrull and impersonated, and when she's rescued, almost everyone hates her, which makes her grow even more cynical than she was in the past.
- Following the reboot, Solstice in Teen Titans is this. Despite seemingly taking her shift in appearance (she now looks like she's made of charcoal and has deep black smoke for hair) graciously then most would, Kiran has stated that she was forced to do horrible things in order to survive after N.O.W.H.E.R.E. kidnapped her. She also broke down and started crying when she realized Red Robin already knew well beforehand about what the organization was doing to teen metahumans but waited to make a move because he needed more tangible evidence.
- It gets even worse from there. We learn the catalyst for Kiran's new form involved being set up as bait by another N.O.W.H.E.R.E. prisoner whom she had come to care for, and then later on when the team is sent into the future, she refuses to depart from Kid Flash's side. So she ends up condemning herself in the prison Kid Flash is being sent to by killing someone.
- How many readers of Red Hood and the Outlaws see Starfire. It's not certain at this point if this was Lobdell's intention. She gets really snippy and hostile whenever anyone tries to talk to her about her past, and we eventually find out that her most precious memory is killing the only Citadel member who showed her sympathy in all her time as a slave. It's even lampshaded how screwed up the team must be.
- All of the kids in Marvel Comics' Runaways but special mention goes to Karolina, Nico and Chase who deal with issues of identity, love and the loss of it.
- X-23's life is loaded with things that any one of which would make her a broken bird, including horrific medical experimentation, a stint as a child assassin, and a stint as a teenaged prostitute. And after finally making her way to the Xavier School, which should have been a safe haven, she was quickly pushed into the black ops division.
- Hazmat of Avengers Academy lost everything because of her powers. Mettle, similarly, lost almost all tactile sensation and is now unable to do what he loves: surf. They find some solace in each other.
- The cast of Avengers Arena is filled with these, including X-23, Hazmat, Mettle, and Nico, as well as space-farer Cammi. Cammi lives in the shadow of Drax the Destroyer and desperately does not want to be "normal" again. The series then proceeds to put them through hell.
- Sharon Ventura, the second Ms. Marvel, had a miserable childhood, then got gang-raped early into her superhero career, and then, just when she was starting to get over that and develop a healthy relationship with Ben Grimm, she was mutated into a horrible rock-monster form. And then, just as she was finally getting over that, Grimm dumped her. And then Doctor Doom mutated her into an even more horrible form. She eventually had her form stabilized, but it required her to make deals with the Wizard, which cost her many of her friendships in the superhero community.
- Sally Sonic of the Bulleeteer's miniseries from Seven Soldiers is gradually revealed to be this. Sally was blessed with super strength and eternal youth, but this turned out to be Blessed With Suck when the people she loved kept dying. Sally was put into a cruel orphanage because no one believed she was in her 20s, and when she escaped she fell into the clutches of Vitaman. Sally didn't remember him, but he'd been one of the crooks Sally and her judge father put in jail, and he wanted revenge because his brother, who was in jail as well, died before he got out. So Vitaman sleeps with Sally, takes lurid photos of her, tries selling her to England's criminal underworld, and exposes her to Psycho Serum. The end result? A bitter, ruthless seductress trapped in a teenage body, working for the erotic organization called Eternal Superteens, and manipulating married men into leaving their wives and following their self-destructive power fantasies.
- The Bulleteer, Alix Harrower, herself is one. Alix did little to support her husband's fantasies about becoming superheroes, especially since he was treating Alix, who at the time was 27, as if she was already an old woman. Because of his stupidity (and Sally Sonic), he gets killed and Alix becomes permanently bonded with metal skin. Alix loses her job, discovers her husband was cheating on her, and tried to kill herself. After finally meeting Sally, Alix is naturally enraged but tries to talk Sally down when she realizes the girl is clearly insane. The Seven Soldiers series ends with Alix questioning whether she can even call her life her own, as she ends up accidentally killing the Big Bad of the series... just as destiny said she would.
- Mélisande from Mélusine. She's the cousin of the titular character and is the shame of the family for choosing to be a fairy while everyone else is a witch. Despite her usual joyful demeanor, Mélisande one day breaks down crying because she has no friends, no boyfriend, her power to conjure pastries is pathetic and Santa Claus never visits her.
- White Tiger: Implied. Soledad Ayala intended to file for divorce immediately after her husband White Tiger (Hector Ayala) was wrongfully arrested for murder, because Hector had promised her he'd give up being a superhero. Matt Murdock convinces her to hold off divorcing him until after the trial because if she divorces him right now that would just send the message that he's guilty. She agrees to hold off the divorce, admitting both that she knows he's not guilty and that she still loves Hector. But during the trial, when the prosecuter questions their marriage, she can't stand the pressure and leaves the courthouse. Soon after, Hector is convicted despite the efforts of his lawyer, Murdock. Hector is shot dead trying to escape, shortly before evidence emerges that belatedly proves his innocence. In Soledad's last appearance in White Tiger #6, according to Hector's sister Awilda, Ayala hasn't been right in the head ever since Hector's death, implying that the death and the guilt she has for leaving the trial has destroyed her. She takes the appearance of someone as a new White Tiger as a sign from God that Hector forgives her.
- Wonder Woman (1987): Poor "Julia" of Daxam was enslaved, tortured, had her eyes ripped out, and put in a Tailor-Made Prison that displays her to the rest of the slaves on Hope's End as a warning against trying to revolt. After Wonder Woman frees her she's mostly mute outside screaming, with dangerous bursts of violence and she doesn't speak for months.
Broken Bird / Comic Books