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A girl who dreamed of being a hero, and was forced to face the realities of being one.
A girl who was born into everything but found she had nothing.
A girl who fought for freedom and is now tormented by her past.
And a girl who fights through life, trying to find her place in the world.

RWBY: Scars (also known as RWBY: Scars AU on Archive of Our Own) is a retelling of the series RWBY. The story takes the base version of the cartoon and revamps it into a much darker story. RWBY: Scars began in 2016 so it adds in elements from later volumes into its chapters.

Team RWBY is a team of teenage Hunters-in-training who wish to try and better the harsh world they live in. However, they all have their troubled pasts and prejudices that they must deal with along the way.


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This fic provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents:
    • Weiss' father is physically and emotionally abusive, while her mother is a neglectful Alcoholic Parent.
    • Pyrrha has a Sports Mom who forces her to exceed athletically because she's trying to live through Pyrrha. Pyrrha became a huntress to avoid her mother.
    • Mercury's father was a physically abusive alcoholic. During a fight, Mercury killed him.
    • Miltia mentions to Yang that she and her sister Melanie had a physically abusive father. One day they ran away from home and that's how they met Junior. Their mother isn't much better, but she's more-so emotionally neglectful.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In the second chapter, Yang accidentally refers to Jaune as "John". Ruby makes the same mistake as well.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade:
    • Weiss has a breakdown in the fourth chapter after realizing how close she was to being eaten alive by a Beowolf. This contrasts with the much more lighthearted portrayal in the episode. In general, Weiss is a lot more troubled than in canon due to her Dark and Troubled Past and poor mental health.
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    • Ren is traumatized by his past. He suffers from nightmares and starts hyperventilating the first time he sees a student mawled by a Grimm. Nora poking him in the nose is a comfort tactic, rather than Nora just being annoyingly playful.
    • Thought she doesn't reflect on it much, Pyrrha is given a troubled childhood due to her mother's emotional abuse. In canon, there's nothing to imply she has a bad home life. Pyrrha later gets much more angsty after June's death.
    • Neo and her father Roman both have Dark And Troubled Pasts which still trouble them.
  • Adaptational Diversity: RWBY Scars features more queer and disabled characters than in canon. The titular team alone has been changed: Ruby is a female-attracted asexual trans girl (as opposed to a presumably cisgender Celibate Hero), Weiss is lesbian and mentally ill (instead of male-attracted and not mentally ill), Blake is noted as bisexual early on, and Yang is explicitly bisexual from the start. The characters are also given slightly clearer defined ethnicites than in the Mukokuseki show due to more emphasis on Fantasy Counterpart Culture, so three out of four members of RWBY are at minimum half-Asian coded.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy:
    • Whitley is more kind and sympathetic towards Weiss than he is in canon.
    • Winter is noticeably less strict with Weiss than her canon counterpart.
  • Adaptational Jerkass:
    • Adam's depicted as abusive and cruel from the start. He lacks the initial calmness of his canonical counterpart.
    • Blake starts off as a much darker character with a vivid hatred of Weiss. She's also much meaner, which includes moments such as punching, and threatening Yang in the initiation due to not wanting to be her partner.
    • Weiss' racism towards Faunus is ramped up. She was taught by her father that they were beneath humans. She also vented out much of her anger on Faunus instead of directing them at her parents.
  • Adaptational Job Change: Keeping with Sun being introduced as a stowaway in Volume 1, Sun and Neptune are travelers rather than students at Haven.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • Blake's name is "Hozuki Blake". "Belladonna" is made-up (or, more specifically, it comes from her alias as "The Belladonna"). This was changed in order to fix the Fridge Logic in how no one knows who Blake's parents are, despite their importance.
    • Downplayed with Yang. Her name is written last name first instead of Western style, making her "Xiao Long Yang" instead of "Yang Xiao Long".
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul: Weiss and Whitley have been turned into twins.
  • Adaptation Species Change:
    • Fox is changed from a human to a fox Faunus who also just happens to be named "Fox".
    • Neo isn't a human with an illusionist semblance, but a chameleon Faunus with an illusionist semblance (her Faunus trait is actually a forked tongue).
    • Salem's backstory is different. She isn't a former human. She's now the sole member of a long forgotten and extinct species of humanoids called "Grimm"/"Trucii".
  • Adapted Out: Subverted. Scarlet and Sage don't appear early on because Sun and Neptune are just a traveling couple, not Hunters-in-training. Scarlet and Sage aren't adapted out as they appear several dozen chapters in as Raven's peers.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the cartoon, it's implied that Ruby was a toddler at oldest when Summer died. Scars ups her to seven. Likewise, Yang has been aged up a few years in the flashbacks.
    • Winter is changed from being in her early 20s to her late 20s.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Junior is turned into a reoccuring character who Yang visits when she needs help.
    • Neo is a bit character in the first several volumes, but she's given more screen-time in Scars.
    • CVFY (especally Coco and Velvet) are given more characterization than in canon.
    • Militia and Melanie are very minor in canon but are given more screen-time in Scars.
    • Glynda is given a larger role than in canon, appearing frequently in Yang's story in Volume 4.
    • Weiss' mother, Willow, has not appeared in canon but is an important character in Weiss' story in Volume 4.
    • Neptune has a larger role than in canon, joining Blake and Sun in Menagerie during Volume 4.
    • Winter is given a larger role; staying at Beacon for the entirety of Volume 3, and participating in the Fall of Beacon. She is added into Ozpin's inner circle, and is a candidate for the Fall Maiden's power. Her time in Mistral after the Fall is also shown.
  • Asexuality: Ruby is casually mentioned as being asexual in a throwaway line by Yang.
  • Big Brother Instinct:
    • The first thing Yang does upon landing in the forest is look for Ruby. She wants to make sure Ruby doesn't die before even properly starting at Beacon.
    • Yang goes berserk trying to find Ruby after she falls down a hole and is nearly killed by a Grimm during a mission.
    • Winter displays some of this towards Weiss when she mentions that she'll kill Blake if Blake ever thinks about hurting her.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: In sharp contrast with the Bloodless Carnage of the original, there's a lot of bloodshed and death from the very first chapter.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Narrowly avoided. Pyrrha knocks on Weiss' dorm door during a private moment, but Weiss had locked her door beforehand. It's a bit embarrassing for Weiss but Pyrrha didn't notice anything amiss.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: Summer's Semblance invokes this. It causes a row of petals to appear, leading to people who need critical assistance.
  • Closet Key: Prior to falling for Weiss, Blake's only relationship had been with Adam.
  • Dark Fic: Scars is a darker, bloodier retelling of RWBY that covers much darker themes than the original.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • Cardin, Fox, Coco, Oobleck, Port, and Jaune killed at the end of Volume 3.
    • Jacques and Scarlet get killed in Volume 5.
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • The arc where Cardin bullies Jaune is removed, leaving Cardin a more minor character.
    • Klein has a much smaller role in Weiss' story in Volume 4, his role being replaced by Whitley, and Weiss' mother, Willow.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation:
    • Weiss' scarred eye gives her some minor vision problems. She's also much more mentally traumatized by her Big, Screwed-Up Family than in canon. In the past she had disorderly eating habits and harmed herself and she currently deals with hallucinations. Word of God is that she suffers from schizoaffective disorder.
    • Qrow's alcoholism stems from trying to self-medicate his trauma and depression.
    • Ren displays symptoms of PTSD from the attack on his hometown.
    • Penny's teammate Ciel is on the autism spectrum, something not noted in canon.
    • Coco is diagnosed with PTSD partway through the fic. She also deals with leg pains from a Grimm attacking her on a mission.
  • Domestic Abuse:
    • Blake mentions that Adam started out a good boyfriend but over time he became angrier and more demanding. After he put his hands on her, Blake ran away.
    • Jacques' and Willow's relationship isn't given much note, but Jacques seems emotionally abusive and is at minimum neglectful. The two want nothing to do with one another.
    • Summer's aunt Ivory had an abusive boyfriend.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: CFVY appears in the fourth chapter, teaching the freshmans how to use their parachutes as they launch into the forest.
  • Expy: Ivory's partially inspired by Satou's aunt in Happy Sugar Life, though she's less villainous.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Weiss had one happen to her prior to the story, hence why she has a scar over one eye. It's mentioned that she stabbed herself.
    • Whitley gets slashed across the face with his own knife when he tries to blame his father's murder on Maximus.
  • Fantastic Racism: The tension between humans and Faunus is much more front-and-center than in canon. Weiss and Blake initially get along even worse than they do in RWBY because Weiss is disgusted by Faunus and doesn't even view them as people.
  • Fantasy Pantheon:
    • Humans have the Brothers Church and the Followers of Dust. Followers of Dust believe in reincarnation.
    • The traditional Faunus religion is named Ishvara. Most of the gods are animals. Mother Devi, the creator goddess, is the most humanoid god but even she has a cat head. Faunus believe in reincarnation and the traditional burial involves cremation. Humans are known to slander Faunus by claiming their gods are actually Grimm.
    • The Branwen clan believes a bird with six wings called the Feathered One. They practice Sky Burials.
    • Salem has her own cult. They dub her "the Mother" and practice Human Sacrifice.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • The book that Blake is reading upon meeting Ruby is The Strange Case of Professor Hyena and Hyde (The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde). Ruby mentions that she's fond of the Garry Potter (Harry Potter) series.
    • Weiss is fond of Sundoe (Starbucks) coffee.
    • A conservative news network called "Jackal News" (Fox News) exists.
    • Pyrrha, Jaune, Nora, and Ren go in a double date at Benny's (Denny's).
  • Fix Fic: Scars is a dark Fix Fic that rehauls the story, streamlining most of the narrative. It also fixes elements that stand out as odd (such as explaining Ruby in the Yellow trailer as Yang taking her to the club with her). Downplayed in that the writer likes RWBY as is and is just changing it up in an Alternate Universe Fic
  • Hates Being Touched: Downplayed. Weiss doesn't outright dislike physical affection, but she's not used to it.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs: At one point a "box of Mistralian food " is noted.
  • I Have No Son!: Inverted. Yang disowns her deadbeat biological mother Raven after reuniting with her for the first time since she was a baby. When Raven mocks Yang's friends and misgenders her half-sister Ruby, Yang threatens Raven with Matricide if she ever comes near her loved ones again.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Taiyang was only ever interested in mundane normality: becoming a Hunter then settling down with a wife and kids.
  • Incompatible Orientation:
    • Summer declined Raven's love confession because she was straight.
    • Implied with Raven and Taiyang. Raven was in love with Summer but it was unrequited. She had sex with Taiyang once and ended up pregnant with Yang. The two tried to be together but Raven only tolerated Tai. For his part, Taiyang never seemed to notice that Raven didn't love him.
    • Jaune and Cardin both have crushes on Weiss, but Weiss is gay. Jaune quickly moves on but Cardin won't take "no" for an answer, even after Weiss tells him she's lesbian.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Weiss attempts suicide after her father forces her to go back home. She's saved when her mother finds her.
  • Introverted Cat Person: Summer's aunt Ivory is a lonely person whose only friend, besides Summer, is her cat.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Glynda considers Penny an "abomination" and refers to her as "it".
  • Named by the Adaptation:
    • Middle names are given to certain characters. For example, Pyrrha's full name is "Pyrrha Diana Nikos".
    • Raven and Qrow's mother is named "Ebony".
  • Nephewism: Summer was raised by her maternal aunt Ivory after her mother, Desert, was killed.
  • Not His Sled:
    • Penny's death occurs in the same moment but is depicted completely differently. Pyrrha's reaction is also more intense.
    • Yang never confronts Adam during Volume 3. She instead loses her arm to an Ursa.
    • Roman is not eaten by a Grimm. Likewise, Neo doesn't get whisked away by the wind during that scene. The two end up just leaving together.
    • Jaune is the one who is killed by Cinder, not Pyrrha.
    • In Volume 4, it's revealed that Yang is in love with Weiss, not Blake. In fact, Yang is spiteful towards Blake for having Weiss to herself and suspects Blake of being a inside agent for the White Fang who betrayed Beacon.
    • Yang is given a prosthetic arm, only to quickly lose it in a fight. Instead, she learns how to use her aura to create an arm.
    • Jacques is killed before RWBY reunites.
  • Mistaken for Betrayal: Without telling her team, Blake runs away after the White Fang attack Beacon without telling her team. She was running from her abusive ex-boyfriend Adam and didn't want her loved ones to get hurt, but everyone (but the optimistic Ruby) initially thought she had died. Velvet brings Yang back Blake's sword because they can't get in touch with her family. Already in a bad headspace and jealous of Blake because she's dating Weiss, Yang begins to think that Blake was an inside agent for the White Fang the entire time.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The White Fang use a password featuring lyrics "From Shadows".
    • When yelling at Mirror, Weiss recites lyrics from "Mirror Mirror" and "Path to Isolation".
    • Part of Yang's monologue when in Ruby's room is inspired by "Red Like Roses Part II".
    • Some of Weiss' lines when telling Blake about her life in chapter 35 are based on "Mirror Mirror Part II".
  • Obligatory Swearing: There's little swearing in RWBY. One of the most noticeable changes is the amount of profanity in Scars.
  • Oh My Gods!: "Dust" and "Brothers" gets used this way depending on what pantheon the person worships. The characters also say "Gods" instead of "God".
  • Prelude to Suicide: Weiss spends several weeks more-or-less isolated in her room, rarely getting dressed and barely even eating. Right before her suicide attempt she decides to talk to her loved ones. This unusual behavior actually saves her life. Her normally distant mother Willow decides to check up on her and finds her bleeding out on her bedroom floor. Willow's quick thinking leads to an Interrupted Suicide, which eventually leads into a Happily Failed Suicide.
  • Promotion To Love Interest:
    • Sun and Neptune are boyfriends travelling together, rather than best friends on the same team.
    • Jaune's crush on Weiss is discarded. Instead, he has a crush on Pyrrha.
    • Penny asks Ruby to the dance and the two begin dating.
    • Scars pairs up Weiss and Blake. It's a slowburn relationship spanning several volumes.
    • Ren being Oblivious to Love is skipped. Ren and Nora are dating already at the start of the story.
    • Coco and Velvet are girlfriends. In canon, they're just friends.
    • Yang has unrequited feelings for Weiss.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Despite saving a store from robbers, Ruby still gets arrested in the second chapter. Her charges? Assault with a deadly weapon, attempted murder, and destruction of property. After all, carrying around a scythe and attacking people with it isn't legal.
    • The initiation test to get into Beacon is extremely dangerous. It weeds out most of the new students. Sending newbies into a forest full of Grimm leads in many dead students
    • After beginning therapy for her schizophrenia, Willow is told that she'll likely never be "cured" of it. The goal is to make peace with the voices and help them become less apparent, but they probably won't ever disappear completely.
  • Related in the Adaptation:
    • In RWBY canon, Roman and Neo are close comrades who are described as being Like Brother and Sister. In Scars, Neo is Roman's daughter.
    • Blake is depicted as Sienna Khan's maternal niece. Kali is Sienna's sister.
    • Penny's soul comes from Ironwood's Ill Girl daughter.
    • Ruby is Summer and Qrow's, not Summer and Taiyang's.
  • Romantic Asexual: Yang casually note that Ruby is asexual in a discussion. Ruby also has a girlfriend, Penny. For that matter, Penny is a robot (albeit with a human soul) and it's never made clear before she dies whether she experiences sexual attraction either.
  • R-Rated Opening: Like she did in the Red trailer, Ruby starts off the story fighting a pack of Beowolf Grimm. Unlike in the official series, Grimm can bleed and they have internal organs. The carnage makes Ruby so disgusted that she vomits afterwards. This sets the Darker and Edgier tone of Scars.
  • Second Love:
    • Taiyang had been in love with Raven since Beacon and she eventually did begin dating him, but she ran off one day and never came back. Tai then fell for his old teammate Summer, but she died on a mission.
    • Summer's feelings are more vague but it's implied this occured. She was High-School Sweethearts with Qrow but he pushed her away later on. Summer then began staying with Taiyang, but it's never clarified if she loved him or not.
  • Self-Harm: Weiss' arms are covered in scars from past self-injury. She's since stopped cutting, but she always wears long sleeves to cover up her scars. She relapses after being brought back home at the end of Volume 3.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Many hunters are this way due to Grimm hunting being an inherently violent and bloody job. Beacon's initiation test itself usually involves seeing half of the students being eaten and mawled by Grimm (sometimes before their parachute even lands).
  • Shout-Out:
    • Weiss makes a Harry Potter reference where she quotes Hermione's "Before either of you come up with another clever idea to get us killed or, worse, expelled" line.
    • There's a Batman reference when Weiss befriends a bat Faunus named "Bruce".
  • Sibling Triangle: When they began STRQ, Summer had a crush on Qrow, but Qrow's sister Raven liked Summer herself. Unfortunately for Raven, Summer is straight.
  • Son of a Whore: Summer was raised by her aunt Ivory. Ivory slept around and prostituted as a way to help deal with traumatic memories.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Roman and Pyrrha both survive Volume 3.
  • Species Surname: There's a purple-haired dog Faunus named "Violet Akita".
  • Sports Dad: Pyrrha's mother Thetis is a "sports mom". Pyrrha went to Beacon, instead of the closer Haven, to get away from her mother. Pyrrha's mother had wanted to be the Mistral Regional Tournament Champion but couldn't, so she pushed Pyrrha to achieve her dream for her. But, no matter how well she did, Pyrrha was never good enough for her mother. Even after holding the title for several years, her mother still wasn't happy. Pyrrha decided to get away from her mother and put her fighting skills to practical use by helping others as a Huntress, so she enrolled in Beacon Academy.
  • Street Smart: Yang is a street-savvy person who knows her way decently around the criminal underbelly. This comes from street-fighting in order to bring in money for her family.
  • Suicide Watch: After Blake yells at Weiss while out on a date, Weiss comes back to the dorm upset and questioning whether everyone would be better off if she was dead or not. Yang and Ruby hug her and try to calm her down. They decide to keep a careful eye on her for the next few days.
  • Survivor's Guilt:
    • Coco holds some survivor's guilt over her would-be teammate's death during initiation. Her parachute became stuck in a tree and her teammate was mawled by Beowolves.
    • After Jaune's Heroic Sacrifice, Pyrrha feels this way. She wonders why he died and not her.
  • Sweet Tooth: Ruby has one. Her first meal at Beacon consists of nothing but cookies, strawberries with cream, and cake.
  • Take That!: There's one against Fox News. "Jackal News" is a news agency known for bigoted anti-faunus leanings.
  • That Man Is Dead: When a fan notices her, Pyrrha states that he's mistaken and Pyrrha Nikos died during the Fall of Beacon. Pyrrha tries to pass the comment as just trying to avoid fans, but it's clear she meant it this way.
  • Transgender:
    • Ruby is a trans girl. This is first hinted at in chapter 2 when a police officer misgenders her. Later on, she comes out to her girlfriend and teammates.
    • Jaune is a trans boy. His family didn't learn this until they saw him compete on television. He ran off to Beacon without telling anyone back home. His family takes him coming out well. Jaune mentions wanting to come out to his girlfriend and teammate, but it's unknown if he ever did prior to his death.
    • During the time Weiss was at Beacon, her twin Whitley came out and began transitioning. Whitley decided not to change his name because he felt it fits him.
  • Trans Relationship Troubles: Subverted. Jaune worries that his girlfriend Pyrrha won't like him after he comes out as a trans boy. He presumably came out off-screen and she didn't care.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: 15-year old Ruby didn't know that she is Yang's half-sister until Yang accidentally lets her biological mother Raven's name slip out. Ruby had always thought she and Yang were full sisters. Neither sister also know that they're really step-sisters and biologically cousins, not half-sisters, because Qrow is Ruby's biological father. Yang is told this later by Raven, but Qrow lies and tells her not to believe his liar of a sister.
  • Turn to Religion: Weiss becomes more devout in her religious beliefs after Beacon falls and her depression worsens. For several weeks, she only exits her room to go to temple.
  • Unintentional Final Message: For her girlfriend's 16th birthday, Penny made Ruby a video message, in case she was forced to move back home. She was killed before her girlfriend's birthday.
  • You're Not My Father: Yang disowns her deadbeat biological mother Raven after reuniting with her for the first time since she was a baby. When Raven mocks Yang's friends and misgenders her half-sister Ruby, Yang threatens Raven with matricide if she ever comes near her loved ones again.

Alternative Title(s): RWBY Scars AU

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