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Dysfunction Junction / Webcomics

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  • Ennui GO!: When you see a group of friends that include a hedonistic, drug-addled billionaire with a Dark and Troubled Past (Izzy), a personal assistant who's really into bondage (Renee), a fearsome, buff, borderline superhuman businesswoman who speaks in the third person (Darcy), an almost legally insane Conspiracy Theorist (Len), an andrenaline junkie who looks like he belongs in a Shonen manga/anime (Hashim), an astrophysicist with rage issues (and a huge schlong) (Noah) and an actual clown (Sarah), then you know they are definitely this trope. Really, you could count on one hand the only members of this group who are somewhat stable (Tanya) and even they have some odd quirk to them, like being a narcoleptic for instance (Hiro).
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Everyone whose families are mentioned gets this. Roy's father is a Jerkass who dumped the responsibility for a Blood Oath on his son when he got bored with trying to fulfill it, Elan has a vicious Evil Twin brother who actively tries to ruin Elan's life at every turn, Haley came from a family and city of criminals, her mother died when she was young, and her father is in prison; Hinjo's uncle was a Chessmaster faking senility in order to control everyone, Hinjo included, and he ended up being killed by a fellow Axe-Crazy Knight Templar Paladin.
    • And while Vaarsuvius had a normal family at the start, they shot it to hell by getting Drunk on the Dark Side, resulting in getting served with divorce papers. And that's just the beginning... They made a deal with a devil, demon and daemon to gain enough power to defeat the dragon that was about to torture their family, and planning to kill them and steal their souls. That must have left an emotional mark on all involved.
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    • With the start of Blood Runs in the Family, we find that Elan's mom makes as many needlessly convoluted plans as Nale (although without the evilness), Elan's dad is an Faux Affably Evil Magnificent Bastard (yes, really) who has been the Man Behind the Man to a series of Evil Overlord wannabes for at least a decade or so, and already considers himself to have won by getting a decade of luxury, and Haley's dad is locked up in the Bloodstone Correctional Facility, the Empire of Blood's gladiatorial arena, and is also shown to be a needlessly obstinate yet honorable anarchist revolutionary.
    • And as previously alluded to above, the Order of the Stick themselves all have noteworthy mental issues of one shade or another.
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  • Vexxarr's crew consists of a Master Computer who, by way of entertainment, regularly plots his demise or makes him think the ship is doomed, a sarcastic robot very similar to the computer, a Wide-Eyed Idealist composed of nothing but eyestalks, and a prey species terminally afraid of being eaten despite the fact that it is Nigh-Invulnerable. And Vexxarr himself, a lazy Knight in Sour Armor for whom seething rage and frustration is the default.
  • Summarized by the character Branwen, in this strip of Something*Positive, as "Traumatic childhoods are the in thing these days. All the cool kids are doing it."
    • Milholland's love of this trope (both using and subverting it) shines through even clearer in the B-Side Comics series Super Stupor, despite (or perhaps because of) it being mostly unrelated vignettes of several loosely connected characters.
  • In Wigu, Paisley Tinkle's tragic teenage trauma is not that her mother's a mildly selfish alcoholic, nor that her dad's constantly shirtless and is constantly trying to avoid or rebel against something he doesn't understand (when not doing his job as a porn music creator), but that she doesn't get to live in a family ruined by divorce.
  • All five Agents of the Realm seem to have their own problems. Norah is introverted and can't make friends, Adele has some troubles at home, Paige is pathologically obsessed with getting good grades, Jordan is overly trusting and Kendall is described as an Extreme Doormat.
  • The Light Warriors in 8-Bit Theater: the astoundingly stupid sword-obsessed Fighter, the Ax-Crazy Stupid Evil Black Mage (that, just to start, sacrificed orphans to get his most powerful spell; The spell was just a bonus), the overly greedy and manipulative Thief (who is also a fugitive prince), the Munchkin with some traumas (that are actually hallucinations caused by another character) that make him cross-dress a lot Red Mage... Not only are they insane, but they also spend most of their time arguing with each other (sometimes going into physical aggression or stabbing). And they are supposed to save the world.
    Black Mage: This is why the dysfunctional hero trend needs to get over itself.
  • The main group of characters in The Noordegraaf Files could count.
    • Foremost there's Violet, who was abandoned by her mother, kidnapped, mutilated, and left to die. She was luckily saved - but the ordeal broke her, turning her into a spiteful Broken Bird with a tendency to fly into a murderous rage. The only person that she loves (including herself) is her boyfriend, Octavian - but even that relationship is royally screwed up, as he is her Living Emotional Crutch and she's slightly Yandere for him.
    • There's also Katrina, who has a Dark and Troubled Past to rival Violet's - but she's not saying a thing about it, out of fear her friends will leave her because of whatever she has done. She also is slightly obsessed with finding someone to be with - but her secrecy drives most of her potential Lovers away.
    • There are a few lesser cases, consisting of:
      • A young Magical Girl with serious self - worth issues and a bad case of survivor's remorse after her parent's murder
      • A quiet Gentle Giant who feels he has to protect everyone around him, and problems with confronting the fact he's gay
      • A small, flirtatious Nature Spirit who feels she is unloveable due to her being nonhuman and tries to seduce people to compensate for the pain
      • A Blue - Haired boy with the mind of a mad scientist and gross overconfidence
      • and the Hero, Theo, who is a fantasy nerd and who has always dreamed of living in a fantasy wonderland - except the world is less of a fairy tale and more of a horror movie, making him naive, unprepared, and MUCH too trusting.
      • Pretty much everybody in the comic is screwed up in some way. Let's leave it at that.
  • Girl Genius: The main character was an orphan with a plot trinket, but her foster parents were very loving and functional. Even Gil Wulfenbach and his father have started getting Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other moments. (Uh, not in that way, obviously. Ew.) But the Sturmvoraus family... hoo boy. The father (who often said that if Providence hands you a powerless scapegoat, it is a sin not to use him) did dangerous Mad Science experiments on the daughter. Even if they'd been successful she'd have been possessed by the Big Bad her father was apparently in love with; since the experiment was a failure, she died horribly. Her brother built a robotic Replacement Goldfish and didn't tell anyone she wasn't really the original transferred into the clank body- not even the Goldfish herself. Then the Goldfish killed "their" father, plotted with the brother to take over the world, or at least part of it... and then he became the Bastard Understudy and shut her down to give her body to the Big Bad after all. Lovely people.
    • And as if that weren't enough, there may have been genetic engineering involved in the current generation, if Zola's "Let's just say they made sure there was a proper heir." conversation with Gil is to be taken at face value. Jesus, this family.
    • It's enough to make you wonder if Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer) with his plan to kill all of the sparks actually might be the only sane person on the cast.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!! Welcome to college, Dave, neurotic loser with a crush on the girl you knew in high school that led you to witness her parents' murders! Meet your wacky new roommates:
    • Mike, spoiled-rotten Manipulative Bastard with an insanely overprotective mother who disciplines him and his siblings with a torture chamber and is getting engaged to a Bond villain.
    • Roger, zany Cloudcuckoolander who really just wants to hold on to a vestige of sanity with the knowledge that he's barely keeping himself from turning half-coyote as part of the family curse that caused his mother to go feral when he was a child.
    • Margaret, that cute girl from high school, who has a heart of gold despite her absurdly large gun collection and comically violent personality due to her parents being murdered in front of her with a bomb she only escaped to scare you away, and recurring nightmares of her post-apocalyptic role as bearer of the Antichrist.
    • Marsha, the hottest girl in your year, even if she can be adorably obsessive about certain things, like her cooking or her high school boyfriends, all of whom she's violently assaulted.
    • April, Only Sane Man, despite the fact that she has an imaginary friend and she's trying to leave her life in the circus behind, especially since she's a few letters away from a clown....
    • And that's the start of freshman year. It gets a lot worse.
  • In Questionable Content, among the major female characters, Faye has intimacy issues stemming from a childhood trauma (not the one you're thinking of), Hannalore has severe OCD, Dora has massive trust issues that torpedoed her relationship with Marten and Marigold is a borderline hikikomori with no self-esteem. Raven and Penelope have yet to reveal any major neuroses. It's lampshaded in this guest comic by John Campbell.
    Female character: Hey guys, which female character am I? Am I the one with the crippling psychological problems
    Caption: That's all of them do you get it
  • Avalon starts off as a bit of a nonsensical slice-of-life story following normal teenagers with normal problems. As the series went on, their issues became even deeper. Much, much deeper.
  • In El Goonish Shive the most obvious example, by far, is Grace, who had an arc devoted to her warped past and the trauma it caused her. Then there's also Tedd, who has Mommy Issues from his mother abandoning him and for a long time unrecognized gender-fluidity Justin and Nanase have Gayngst, Ellen has to deal with Cloning Blues from her status as an Opposite-Sex Clone of Elliot, who himself has to deal with his new magic requiring him to become a girl for part of the day, Susan's trauma from seeing her father with an undressed woman who was NOT her mother at a young age, and even Sarah, by far the most normal of the group, is resentful of her lack of magic compared to her friends.
  • Las Lindas is arguably an example. Mora is a selfish, ungrateful, and oftentimes bratty Jerkass who had everything in her life given to her and tends to not appreciate what she has until she fears she'll lose it, though recent arcs have shown her trying to tone this down. Miles is a shallow, unrepentant lech who recently played Taffy's emotions like a fiddle and cruelly dumped her for a trivial reason and shows no signs of improvement even after being called out by one of his old friends. Idward is so hopelessly obsessed with Mora that he borders on Stalker with a Crush, though he's at least begun to get over it. Racheal lives in constant fear of losing Sarah or something otherwise happening to her and despises Mora for how she never had to work for her good life whereas she, by contrast, struggled her entire life just to get by. Taffy is still dealing with the emotional trauma of the aforementioned dumping and had a highly abusive mother. Sarah is so childishly innocent and naive that she often doesn't realize the consequences of her actions until it's too late. Minos is currently struggling to balance his feelings for Mora and Racheal without hurting either one's feelings and is heavily implied to have once served the Emperor. And finally, it's heavily implied Alej's one-sided rivalry with Mora is in part due to a case of self-doubt. The only characters who seem to have little to no problems are Randall and Digit, and evidence has begun to crop up that Randall may in fact be a Stepford Smiler. One of the main themes of Las Lindas is Character Development, so take that as you will.
  • Shortpacked! thinks that Ultimate Marvel's ending ought to begin with Iron Man inventing a device that can measure the crapsackiness waves of the universe and noticing that the readings don't stop increasing. Eventually, if they don't stop it, everyone will be retconned into having a tragic past. Who pulled *that* Drama Tag?
  • Homestuck's Hivebent arc is composed of twelve trolls from another universe, all of which are very screwed up, even by their own culture's standards. Going down the list:
  • Several of the characters in Schlock Mercenary are either borderline psychopathic (Schlock springs to mind, and Elf generally isn't too far behind) or Paranoiac (Lieutenant Pi).
  • When Electric Wonderland begins, Trawn seems selfish and single-minded in her desire to resurrect a dead form of media, and restore edge to a news climate oversaturated with corporate sponsors. NJ doesn't seem to share her passion for journalism and only takes the job out of desperation to find work. Shroomy has an inferiority complex which she masks through her naivete. Aerynn's seemingly endless knowledge of magic made it hard for years for her to connect with others. Torro hasn't matured at all since his college years. Among later additions, Natasha grew up unable to overcome the shadow of her father, developer of the most widely-used brand of antivirus software. Lululu is an impoverished brat who also can't walk because she impulsively selected a mermaid's body for her avatar. At least some of these characters overcome their flaws before long, though.
  • Superego's characters all tend to be somewhat unusual, from boastful Rick to not-quite-there Juliet. They even each have a specific personality disorder theme.
  • The four titular 'good guys' of Roommates are certainly . . . interesting.
    • Jareth: Has a family that makes the Summers' look normal, a childhood crush on a girl who wasn't even born that time (and is extremely confused by his current advances), by definition an alien nature and a Superpowered Evil Side. He is very much a Sad Clown and Jerkass Woobie too.
    • Erik: Misanthropic, workaholic, can't talk to women, with erratic sleeping patterns, no family, and a history of violent behavior.
    • James: "Well Done, Son!" Guy, with a drinking problem and blessed with the knowledge of Being Good Sucks (died in heroic sacrifice... twice. But got no respect or even a thank you for it. He still has Chronic Hero Syndrome). Also possible candidate to become a part of Jareth's extended family. Resident Woobie.
    • Javert: Former Teen Rebel with a family he would rather forget (a criminal for father and a mentally unstable mother who is also related to Jareth), a story that was hellbent on deconstructing everything he ever believed in. This left him extremely cynical. Resident Stoic Woobie.
  • In Stand Still, Stay Silent, Mission Control intentionally hired Bunny-Ears Lawyer types for the expedition due to being low on funds to pay them. That resulted in getting a Book Dumb Blood Knight as a captain, a medic who enjoys trolling people, a scout with an Ambiguous Disorder, and a Demolitions Expert with bad Open Mouth, Insert Foot tendencies.
  • Spacetrawler starts off with Nogg, Krep, and Gurf, all of whom have their own issues, from staggering incompetence to utter stupidity - and then they bring on Earthlings without any consent or consideration. Emily was raised by coyotes, somehow; Pierrot is a weak pacifist except where animal rights are concerned; the less said about Dustin, the better. The second book has even more dysfunction thus far, especially in regards to Bikkie, the murderous Blood Knight kangaroo.
    • The third book, so far, has a cast comprised of members who are a little more grounded. There's Emily, who finally accepts that she really needs a good dose of Character Development; Aitana, who's pretty much The Ingenue (and if you've been paying attention, that's probably not a good thing); Chiphu, the Snark Knight whose medical issues are the main reason he comes along; and Tesfay, who seems to be The Everyman. Oh, and Ruddock, because every team needs a talking coyote.
  • The main team in The Last Days of FOXHOUND. The eponymous team consists of a blood-drinking shapeshifter who's lost most of his self-image (Decoy Octopus), an amnesiac idiot (Liquid Snake), an insomniac sniper with some weird personal issues (Sniper Wolf), a misanthropic mass-murdering psychic with deep-seated gynophobia (Psycho Mantis), and the Trope Namer for Chronic Backstabbing Disorder (Revolver Ocelot). Vulcan Raven, an enormous, perpetually shirtless Inuit shaman who guns people down for calling him an "Eskimo", is the voice of reason.
    Big Boss: Same megalomaniacal tendencies as everyone in special ops.
    Vulcan Raven: I haven't got any megalomaniacal tendencies.
    Big Boss: Is that a fact.
    Vulcan Raven: Well, not compared to Mantis or Ocelot.
    Big Boss: Yeah, and compared to a yeti I haven't got much hair.
    • The depressing bit is that the "Dead Cell" unit somehow manages to be worse, consisting as it does of a Mad Bomber, a Depraved Bisexual with a vampire fixation, a hundred-and-six-year-old ex-Nazi, and a Vietnamese scuba diver and special effects expert who for some godforsaken reason picked "The Chinaman" as his codename. Say what you will about FOXHOUND, at least they can generally walk in straight lines without hurting themselves.
  • Lackadaisy: It turns out that bootlegging is not a job for people who are benevolent and stable, and anyone who meets that description is generally going to get worse. Lackadaisy itself is run by the founder's ruthless, manipulative widow, who may well have murdered him, yet nearly maims a man to protect a pearl necklace he gave her. Of her crew, Rocky is an overly energetic, logorrheic Pyromaniac with the forward planning skills of a kamikaze lemming and a convoluted knot of loneliness and desperation bubbling within, his cousin Freckle is a Shrinking Violet who can flip to an Ax-Crazy Gun Nut in seconds, Viktor is so protective of Ivy that he keeps putting her boyfriends in wheelchairs, and Zib may be the Only Sane Man but he's also severely alcoholic. Asa Sweet's gang at the Marigold is somehow even worse, with two homicidal cultists practicing a twisted form of vodoun, and ex-Lackadaisy turncoat Mordecai, who combines Super OCD, No Social Skills, Lack of Empathy, Literal-Minded and a faintly disturbing number of murders into one immaculately dressed figure.
  • Romantically Apocalyptic's main cast consists of megalomaniacal Cloudcuckoolander Zee Captain, the broken Iron Woobie Mr. Snippy, amnesiac and brain damaged Manchild Pilot, and former Mad Scientist Engineer.


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