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Dark And Troubled Past / Video Games

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  • In The King of Fighters series, one or two fighters crop up with these kinds of pasts, but extra points go to Rock Howard, who has this through virtually no fault of his own. He's the son of the notoriously death-retardant Geese Howard, who barely took any interest in the boy's well being. Rock was rendered an orphan by one of Geese's nemeses, Terry Bogart (who tried to keep him from falling to his death, only for Geese to yank his hand out of Terry's grip and Go Out with a Smile as he fell), who took it upon himself to raise and train Rock himself...possibly out of penance. Rock is surprisingly well-adjusted, but it constantly at war with himself internally, given he has "evil blood".
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  • In Shadowverse, Erika served as an assassin for her kingdom in the past. She feels guilt over the atrocities she committed then, and serves the Princess in an attempt to atone.
  • In Silent Hill, a dark and troubled past guarantees you a season ticket to the titular town.
  • The Final Fantasy series loves this trope. Seriously, we could be here all day.
  • The Tales Series should probably get its own folder. The heroes, villains, supporting cast and even random NPCs in pretty much any installment can be counted on to have serious issues. Even better, their pasts are usually plot-relevant, and since the franchise loves plots full of Wham Episodes, most characters' pasts are also spoilertastic.
  • Playing a BioWare (or Obsidian) game? Yeah. This trope will apply to your party.
    • Knights of the Old Republic. Carth Onasi? Nice Guy, but has a truckload of paranoia issues. Not surprising when you find out that his Evil Mentor decided to defect to the Sith, and laid waste to Carth's homeworld. Carth was widowed in the attack, and he finds out later that while his son survived, the Sith are training him in the ways of the Force. Bastila? Well, it's a mild case, but the Jedi policy of child conscription and forcing them to cut all ties with their family and loved ones isn't pleasant. Mission may not consider her past all that troubled, but she is a teenager pretty much living on the streets of a Wretched Hive. Zaalbar? Exiled from his homeworld for flying into a rage and attacking his brother. Said brother was colluding with slavers to sell his fellow Wookiees into slavery. In his anger, Zaalbar broke the taboo about not using claws in a fight, which makes you less than an animal in Wookiee society. Juhani? Oh, where to begin? Her people were subject to genocide by the Mandalorians. Her parents fled, but ended up on a Wretched Hive that hated "aliens" and openly discriminated against them. Her father became a drug addict and died in a Bar Brawl. Her mother starved to death because she was trying to feed her cub at the expense of herself, but was in debt to a loan shark, meaning Juhani was Made a Slave to pay it off. The Jedi freed her from slavery, and Juhani latched onto their Code and ideals hard. She dedicated herself to training and the Jedi way...until her master decides a good idea of a final test is to goad her into rage and trick the poor girl into thinking she killed her own master! Canderous and HK-47 certainly have dark and troubled pasts, but they're actually proud of the carnage trail they've left. And then, there's what The Reveal has to say about your Player Character.
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    • The second game (by Obsidian) gets an even nastier bunch of people. Kreia? Well, she's been a Jedi Master and a Sith Lord. She was probably The Man Behind the Man for Revan. As much as she protests that she's neutral, it's obvious she hasn't given up the "Sith" part, aside from trying to setter it more towards Manipulative Bastard than Stupid Evil. You don't get much more dark and troubled than Atton Rand, either. Former Republic deserter, Jedi hunter, Sith torturer, Sith deserter, turned to smuggling, and was likely the guy trying to sell your Player Character to the Exchange. Visas is of a rare species who can see through the Force, and Darth Nihilus ate her homeworld and all life on it, sparing only her. She became his "apprentice," but in practice is more his slave and punching bag. Handmaiden is the shunned, Heroic Bastard daughter of a Echani general and a Jedi. Because her daddy cheated on his wife to produce her, her sisters treat her with contempt at best. Disciple? Well, under that naive persona, he's actually a spy for the Republic, enlisting in the Republic Navy because the Jedi shrugged and threw him away after the Mandalorian Wars didn't leave enough Jedi to train apprentices. Bao-Dur? Whew. Massive PTSD issues from creating and using the Mass Shadow Generator at Malachor. He literally threw a switch and killed thousands of ally and enemy alike. Hanharr? Well, we're dealing with Wookiees and slavery, but Hanharr was insane to begin with and slaughtered his whole village to keep them out of slaver hands. Mira? Well, her family was killed by Mandalorians, and the Mandos took her as a slave. She doesn't speak of her captors with too much rancor as they taught her how to fight and handle explosives (in Expanded Universe material, it explains that Mandalorians tend to "adopt" children of fallen foes that have potential to join their ranks). And your Player Character? Well, s/he left the Order to fight the Mandalorians, was the teacher that abandoned Disciple, fought in two of the nastiest battles in the War, ordered the use of the Mass Shadow Generator that made Bao-Dur's issues, was the only one of Revan's followers to walk away and try to go back to the Order, only to get slapped in the face and a sentence of Exile, left with absolutely nothing to show for all the sacrifice.
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    • Neverwinter Nights: By the time you meet Aribeth in Neverwinter Nights Hordes of the Underdark, she has a very troubled past (including being executed for something that wasn't technically her fault). The character you play in that one technically doesn't know about it, even though you almost certainly played the first campaign beforehand. Casavir in the sequel has a stormy history with Neverwinter.
    • The module creating community has brought up several examples as well. Anera in the Shadowlords arc took a lot of crap from her family (the celestial side) for being too mortal, and eventually entered into a relationship with a necromancer. It did not end well. Alex in The Bastard of Kosigan series has a very troubled one, dealing with the complications involved with being in love with the severely disfavored bastard, and her abortive relationship with Vlad. Pia in A Dance with Rogues has many regrets about her time as one of Vico's playthings.
    • Every recruitable NPC in Dragon Age: Origins. In the order you usually meet them, they are: a royal bastard left at the local church to become a mage-hunting Knight Templar; mother is a legendary witch that intends to steal her body some time in the future; used to be an assassin-bard whose favoured method was the Honey Trap; killed all the inhabitants of a farmhouse after experiencing a big cultural no-no; turned into a golem some time ago and lost memories due to a very extensive And I Must Scream experience; old lady who's really dead but kept alive by an inhabiting spirit; another assassin whose past may suck just as bad, if not worse, than the first one's; drunk whose wife left him to become a monster. Even the dog has a troubled past; the dog's original master ended up dying, and it reached you only by managing to escape the mass slaughter at Ostagar. Sometimes, you think your party should form a Country & Western band.
      • Dog's troubled past is averted if you play as the Human Noble, as s/he is Dog's original owner and survived. The Human Noble is also one of the only two possible player characters without a significantly dark and troubled past as well. The events of their origin story are horrible, to be sure (their family is betrayed and massacred by their closest friend), but it's indicated that the character's life up until that point has been largely peaceful and content.
    • Considering the entire story takes place in the past, let's add Dragon Age II companions to the list: a healer who's possessed by a demon due to his own anger; an ex-slave who's hunted by his previous master; an Elven mage whose own clan views her as a walking liability; a prince whose family was murdered; and the story teller who witnesses it all. All of this is not including the main character, Hawke, who witnesses their siblings and mother die, and is forced into war. The only one without a troubled past is Isabela, who seems to make light of even the worst situations.
      • Actually, Isabela was sold into marriage at an implied young age by her mother for a few silvers and a goat. Then Zevran was hired to kill him, and she inherited his ship and decided to become a pirate. Her stories about her past are the most fragmented of the party, and generally consists of noodle incidents. Also, that relic she's looking for? She stole it from the Qunari. This actually comes back to bite the party in a serious way in Act 2.
    • Varric, the aforementioned storyteller and resident Meta Guy, lampshades this in a conversation with Blackwall in Dragon Age: Inquisition, actually namechecking this trope: "Surely you have a dark and troubled past." He guesses someone he couldn't save, "bad judgment leading to too many deaths - I have a couple of people like that in my past," or betrayal. Blackwall denies all of these.
    • Just about every single major character in Mass Effect has some sort of tragic backstory. Even Commander Shepard can be customized to have one — the Colonist background involves everyone in Shepard's home colony being massacred or taken by slavers, while the Earthborn background gives him or her a criminal history, and the Sole Survivor psychological profile involves Shepard losing everyone in his or her unit to a thresher maw attack.
    • By Mass Effect 2, the only characters who don't have such a background are Ashley and (maybe) Jacob.
  • Kla in Warbears is implied to have one.
  • Ayane of Dead or Alive fame is a Child by Rape between the Mugen Tenshin matriarch and the outlaw ninja Raidou (the Mugen Tenshin patriarch's brother). Because she was considered a cursed child, she was shunned by everyone in the clan, except for Kasumi and Hayate, who later turn out to be her half-sibling. This upbringing has shaped her into a cold, ruthless assassin with a burning hatred for her older sister Kasumi.
  • Jennifer from Rule of Rose. There's a reason why the narrator never fails to refer to her as the "poor, unlucky girl".
  • Many of the characters in the Metal Gear series have them. Raiden, The Boss (kind of), Psycho Mantis, and Fortune (spoofed by Hiimdaisy above), to name a few. In fact, it's easier to mention the ones who didn't have it: Mei Ling, and.... Okay, maybe just Mei Ling.
  • The Heavy from Team Fortress 2 subverts this to hell and back.
    Director: Your father was a counter-revolutionary. When he was killed, you, your mother, and your sisters were transported to a North Siberian gulag. Paint me the picture.
    Heavy: No. This is my gun. I like to shoot this gun. Is all you need to know.
    Director: Your family only lived in that gulag for three months. In December 1941 it burned to the ground. All of the prisoners had escaped. All of the guards had been killed. Tortured to death.
    Heavy: I. Like. To shoot. This gun. Is all you need to know.
    • Later played straight in the comic A Cold Day In Hell, when some of the other mercs visit Heavy's home. It turns out that the events The Director described actually happened, but Heavy's Big Brother Instinct caused him not to want to discuss his family with a total stranger.
  • Devlin McCormack in The Orion Conspiracy definitely has this. Let us see. He fought as a soldier in the Corporation War, which apparently left him with issues. He admits that he was not a good father to his son, Danny, and that he, in fact, drove him away. Interestingly enough, Danny's death and the investigation of it is what drives Devlin for a portion of the game. Also, the local Jerkass claims that Devlin drove his wife to suicide, which would indicate that Devlin may not have been a good husband. Of course, it is hard to say that really is the case, or if there is more to that story than that.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog: Shadow the Hedgehog probably has the darkest past of all the Sonic characters. He was created as the Ultimate Lifeform in an attempt to cure a terminally ill twelve-year-old girl, had his home ambushed and said ill child die in front of him from a gunshot wound, was thrown into stasis and had his memories tampered by his creator to turn him into a ruthless killing machine. And all it took to turn his character around was a Rousing Speech by a different twelve year old girl, a Heroic Sacrifice which resulted in him getting amnesia, spending not one, not two, but three games trying to remember things properly again, and the near planetary takeover of an alien race to snap him out of his amnesia for good and to put his past behind him. Yikes.
  • Fallout 4: very few of your companions' past are exactly rosy, but Cait's life has been a living hell from the word "Go". She was raised by Abusive Parents before being sold off to slavers at the age of eighteen, enduring horrors under her owners for five years until she managed to scrounge up the money to buy her freedom, after which she got her revenge and murdered her parents. Her memories of her twenty-three years of abuse and torture drives her to drink and abuse Psycho to help her forget, as well as fighting in raider-infested arenas, in the hopes that if she isn't killed in combat, the drugs would do it for her.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's has this for the Suck E. Cheese's you work at, revealed both through voice-mails from the phone guy and newspaper clippings visible through the security cameras. A serial murderer had put on a Freddy Fazbear costume and lured children into the back of the establishment. He was eventually brought to justice, but the children were never found. Soon, patrons started to complain about the animatronics smelling foul and appearing to leak blood and mucus around the eyes and mouth. This, combined with the "Bite of '87" where a kid lost his frontal lobe, has caused the establishment to fall on hard times financially, forcing it to close down at year's end. To make matters worse, it's hinted in the third game that the murderer actually didn't get brought to justice, forcing the ghosts of the crying children to take matters into their own hands.
    • Then there's the protagonist of Five Nights at Freddy's 4. He has to deal with a brother who constantly antagonizes and bullies him, parents that at best fall under the Parental Neglect trope, and he's constantly dragged to a place full of animatronics that terrify him. Then the nightmares about said animatronics begin. To cap it all off, he's not the Bite of '87 victim but the Bite of '83
    • Five Nights at Freddy's: Sister Location has Eggs Benedict. It turns out he's actually Michael Afton, the son of William Afton/Springtrap (the actual murderer). Likewise, his sister was killed by Baby, and it's heavily implied that he's either The Child from FNAF 4 (who somehow survived) or The Brother.
      • The "Golden Freddy" cutscene takes this even further. Michael have to deal with his father, murderous Animatronics, and being cursed with immortality after barfing out Ennard. To say he's been through a lot would be a huge understatement.
  • Star Control II has this for both the Ur-Quan and the Kohr-Ah The Ur-Quan were originally a single species before one of their explorers found the Dynarri, and after the latter used the former to conquer the Sentient Milieu -the group of alien races in which the Ur-Quan were- the Ur-Quan were splitted in both races by the Dynarri.
  • All of the Warriors of Hope from Absolute Despair Girls have one, sans Monaca
  • Oxenfree has a couple of characters with this backstory:
    • Jonas grew up in a crime-ridden town and he may or may not have been involved in criminal activity himself. His mother also died shortly before the main story and possible dialogue suggests he doesn't have a good educational or pop culture background.
    • Alex watched her brother drown and was helpless to stop it because she didn't know how to swim. Her parents got a divorce because they couldn't handle the grief and it's even said that a lot of the townsfolk hate her and blame her for her brother's death.
  • Most of your party in Persona 5 have some pretty crappy backstories:
    • Ryuji had an abusive father who beats both on him and his mother. Kamoshida also broke his legs, causing his Career-Ending Injury, spreading rumors of his home life that provocated Ryuji into punching him, which in turn ended the Track Team and made the members hating and blaming Ryuji.
    • Ann was bullied and harassed with gossip and rumors due to her heritage and appearance and became the unfortunate Lust Object of one of her own teachers.
    • Futaba witnesses her own mother die in a car accident in front of her eyes.
    • Yusuke was orphaned and abused by his adoptive parent. Worse, his adoptive parent is the reason his mother died.
  • Quite a few of the hunters in Evolve have this.
    • Markov saw the population of his colony killed by corporate mercenaries mere days after they made a discovery that would have ensured their prosperity.
    • Maggie's entire home world was razed and the inhabitants slaughtered by monsters, leaving her trapped on a burned out husk of a world for years before she managed to escape.
    • Abe was a petty thief before stealing a ship and killing an innocent man in cold blood, an act that still haunts him.
    • Torvald lost his ship, his crew, and most of his body when a monster broke free from containment, leaving him a ruined man in a ghost ship floating through space.
    • Slim served in the Third Basilisk Rebellion, which resulted in him being mutated into a human-insect hybrid, the deaths of all his friends, and enough traumatic experiences that he's repressed every memory from before the end of the war, up to and including his own name.
  • As part of its shtick of setting you up with fanservice and then smacking you in the face with drama, Senran Kagura is not afraid to point out that high school students who are training to lead lives of demon-hunting or black-ops wetwork that would probably see them dead by 25 probably don't have the most stable backgrounds. Evil Shinobi schools accept any psychopath off the street, which compounds the problem, but even Good Shinobi (keep in mind these labels are nominal at best) having training practices that preceded junior school. Just the most straightforward Good Shinobi team has:
    • Asuka, who's the most at ease with the life of a Shinobi, but has never known a normal life and has an optimistic streak her foes ruthlessly exploit.
    • Katsuragi, whose parents have execute-on-sight orders active against them for abandoning a mission. Katsuragi's training to fulfill a bargain and clear their name.
    • Ikaruga, who was adopted from an impoverished family into a noble house. There's no love in this arrangement, purely the family wanting a worth heir to inherit the family sword and name, and her adoptive older brother has not taken this turn of events well.
    • Yagyuu, who lost her sister in a car crash, only to discover Hibari is a dead ringer for the deceased, leaving her with a mess of issues as she tries to spend every waking second with the Replacement Goldfish.
    • Hibari herself, who never wanted to be a Shinobi, but was pressured into it by her family after being the only child to inherit a special ability. Happy to have a scion, they never pressured her when she fell short, leaving her horribly unequipped to deal with the high-stakes lifestyle, completely aware of this fact, and terrified she's going to screw up.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • The green tiger laguz Muarim of the Fire Emblem Tellius subseries was a slave in the beorc (human) nation of Begnion for some time, and had an apparently cruel master. In his supports with fellow laguz Lethe, Muarim recounts that his master would beat him if he did not have the materials with which to clean his master's weapons. It seems to have affected him psychologically, as he tells Lethe that he still has trouble thinking of himself as an equal to beorc, and feels anxious whenever he does not have the materials his master once demanded of him close at hand. He tells Lethe that he cannot imagine what it is like to live with the pride that she feels as a laguz from the race's native Gallia.
    • Niles the archer of Fire Emblem Fates was abandoned by both of his parents at a very young age, and grew up on the harsh and unforgiving streets of Nohr, falling in with a gang of thieves and other seedy types just to stay alive. At one point in his childhood, he had one of his eyes gouged out by another orphan, and when his gang of thieves threw him under the bus to escape when one of their heists went bad, he was close enough to the Despair Event Horizon that he begged his captor Prince Leo of Nohr to kill him and get it over with. He ended up becoming one of Leo's loyal retainers instead. In the present, Niles' sadistic and cruel tendencies are explained by him as a result of jealousy; when he sees someone who "doesn't know what suffering is," he feels the need to mess with them.
    • Jakob, the Avatar Corrin's loyal butler in Fates, was raised by Abusive Parents who cared so little for him that they abandoned him at Nohr's Windmire Castle, where he was taken in as a castle servant, and never looked back. He was mistreated and disliked by the rest of the castle staff, with the exception of young Corrin him or herself, and in the present as a result of it, he's cold, distant and rude to most anyone who isn't the Avatar, while being slavishly loyal and dedicated to the Avatar him or herself. He tells Mozu and Azura in their supports that the Avatar is literally the only person in the castle that treated him kindly.
    • The Hoshidan spearwoman Oboro of Fates witnessed her merchant parents being murdered by a Nohrian assassin when she was young, and only managed to escape the same fate herself by hiding in their cart. She developed a deep hatred for all things and people Nohrian as a result and reacts...rather badly to them, to the point that her in-battle skill makes her deal more damage to Nohrian units.
    • The swordsman Lon'qu of Fire Emblem Awakening grew up in the slums of the Chon'sin, and at one point when Lon'qu was young, his good friend, the little girl Ke'ri, was killed by bandits, with Lon'qu only able to watch helplessly. He developed gynophobia as a result of the incident, believing that any women close to him would meet the same fate.
    • Henry the Dark Mage of Awakening started off with Abusive Parents who ignored him to the point that he spent most of his time wandering the woods outside of his village. When he became close friends with a wolf that lived in the forest, it was killed by villagers when it tried to visit him. His parents then sent him off to a cruel, abusive orphanage (in the Japanese version) or a cold and strict mage school (in the English version) where he was harshly punished and experimented on, and all of it seems to have...broken him mentally. In the present, he seems to be operating on Blue and Orange Morality, is fascinated by Body Horror and zombies, and is at the point that he just doesn't understand human empathy and that threatening to kill and curse people is morally objectionable.
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