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Heroic BSOD / Literature

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Proving that all you need for a Heroic BSoD is paper, ink and whole lot of trauma.

  • Alex Rider: In Scorpia Rising. After Jack is killed, Alex loses his cool for the first time in the whole series, screaming and crying over the death of the only person in his life who was always there for him. He then, seemingly, gives up, becoming quiet and unresponsive, even when Gunter reveals Scorpia's plan to him. But this turns out to be nothing but a ruse to catch Gunter off guard; he later kills the man and rushes off to save the world once again. However, he has noticeably less dialogue than usual for the rest of the book, and has clearly been deeply traumatised by the experience, leading him to murder one of his enemies in cold blood for the first and only time in the series. Even after he saves the day he is still badly affected, with the narration saying that for the next few days he says very little and shows little interest in food.
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  • In Allegiant, after Tobias finds out that Tris is dead, all he can do is stand still and say nothing.
  • Animorphs:
    • Jake has one that lasts a whole year in the final book, as a result of the final battle, in which he ordered his cousin to kill his brother - which she did at the cost of her own life, gaining nothing - and gave the order to massacre seventeen thousand defenseless Yeerks. To his credit, though, he waited until after the battle was over to have his breakdown.
    • Tobias has a couple. The first is really early on, right after he's first trapped in morph. He lets the hawk part of his mind take control and stays away from everyone for a few days before finally snapping out of it. Much later, he has one after Rachel's death, flying away with her ashes into the woods and staying away from everyone for a while.
  • Annals of the Western Shore
    • Gifts: Both Orrec and his father shut down after the death of Melle, Orrec's mother. Orrec calls it the "year of darkness."
    • Powers: The only reason Gav doesn't throw himself in the river after the funeral of his sister Sallo is because he was too numb to think. It only occurs to him later when he realizes that he probably wasn't pursued because everyone in Arcamand would assume he did.
  • In the third Anne of Green Gables book Anne is told that Gilbert (formerly Unlucky, soon to be Victorious Childhood Friend) is dying. She's just returned from a trip visiting friends elsewhere, so she knew nothing of it. Her family wanted to break it to her easily, but a child just let it slip out. Cue a total segfault in Anne's mind. She speechlessly has to go up to her room to spend the night reevaluating everything she thought she knew about love.
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  • In Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony, Artemis suffers a very, very brief one of these when Holly is killed. To all appearences, he's completely unmoved, continuing to concentrate on the bomb, ignoring everything else as the same guy who killed Holly goes on to quickly murder everyone but Artemis; however, it's all he can do to keep his concentration, which turns out to be what saves them all. Just before Artemis gets killed himself, he looses a single shot from Holly's Neutrino in a seemingly random direction. Turns out that Artemis had the Timey-Wimey Ball all figured out, and the shot got pulled back in time to just the right second to stop Holly and everyone else from being killed in the first place.
    Artemis: You didn't kill my friends. That never happened.
  • Nicholas Fox, Lilian Bunting's nephew, flees the meeting near the end of Aunt Dimity: Detective and stands in a downpour without a coat. Lori cannot rouse him from his catatonia, but does manage to get him inside the vicarage and wrapped in a blanket before a fire. At length, he explains to Lori that he couldn't stand the villagers' callous attitudes toward Prunella Hooper's death from an accidental blow to the head. He worked as an undercover cop and saw his partner brutally beaten to death several months previously.
  • The protagonist of Beachwalker goes into one of these after her beloved patient dies. She does not get better.
  • David Eddings' The Belgariad and The Malloreon:
    • Both Garion and Ce'Nedra have BSODs: Garion's comes after he burns Asharak to death outside the Forest of the Dryads and is relatively minor as BSODs go. Ce'Nedra has at least one brief one in the Belgariad when she realizes the fate in store for the soldiers she has recruited as the Rivan Queen; it could be argued that she spends virtually the whole Mallorean in one, with brief remissions. And then there was Garion's reaction in the Malloreon to the birth of his son. His entire brain shut down. Of course, Garion's brain isn't the most powerful organ in his body. This leads to quite a funny moment:
      Garion: Bed....Baby....Wood..Fire, Ce'Nedra needs big
      Polgara: Oh dear, it's going to be one of those.
    • The two companion books that serve as autobiographies of Belgarath and Polgara have an intersting case - after the destruction of Vo Wacune, Belgarath thinks Polgara has gone into this, but when you reach that point from Polgara's point of view it turns out she was faking it to get him to leave her alone while she orchestrated her revenge on the armies that destroyed it.
    • Polgara has a more serious BSOD when her sister dies. Belgarath snaps her out of it by giving her lots of orders to keep her mind occupied... and then promptly goes off somewhere private to have one for himself.
    • Silk gets one after visiting his mother. It Makes Sense in Context. He deals with it by drinking copiously, and is more or less back to normal (if cripplingly hungover) the next day.
    • The mother of all BSODs in the series is Belgarath's own, after his wife dies in childbirth and he spends months chained to his own bed. The other Disciples are forced to keep watch over him constantly, preventing him from suicide by Sorcery.
  • In Below this happens early on to Brenish. He planned to get a real job in the city over the winter to save up to marry Cirawyn. Unfortunately his One Last Job as a highwayman goes incredibly wrong, and he falls apart when he realizes his last chance is blown. He doesn't snap back until he's forced to bluff to his boss about the fake treasure map he has, because lying is his element.
    • And later this happens to Cirawyn upon figuring out the map is a fake—well after the quest is underway.
  • Examples in The Bible:
    • David has an epic and heartbreaking one when he learns about the deaths of King Saul and his son Jonathan, David's best friend. It included David giving himself Clothing Damage, throwing ashes upon himself and screaming out loud that he had loved both of them greatly and never wanted such things to happen.
    • David has another after his rebellious son Absalom is killed.
    • It can be said that the whole "prayer at Gethsemane" scene is about Jesus having an Heroic BSoD as he realizes that he's just hours away from dying and only then fully acknowledging what that means for him.
    • Jesus has another one after John the Baptist is killed.
  • In The Book of the Dun Cow, Chauntecleer falls into one after being reminded by Wyrm that he achieved very little by killing Cockatrice. While in it, he accuses his Number Two, his Love Interest, and an angel sent by God of betraying him. He does recover, although not until after the final battle.
  • Ivan Karamazov's Freak Out! near the end of The Brothers Karamazov is brought on by this, which takes the form of a conversation with a Manipulative Bastard.
  • In Tom Kratman's Caliphate, Hamilton suffers through this when his girlfriend and fellow officer Laurie was killed in a battle in the Philippines.
  • At the end of Carnifex, Carrera collapses and slips into one of these both from the fatigue built up over the course of a long and hard campaign and the fact that he nuked a city.
  • Chronicles of Magic The main character, Benjamin, suffers from one of these a couple of times but always manages to recover pretty quickly. His friend Halfrida, on the other hand, seems to be living in this state.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's The Cloak Society novel Fall of Heroes, Alex is in shock after he accidentally causes Phantom's death, and Lone Star is not very coherent after his plan fails and reveals thereby how much the citizens of Sterling City support the imposters.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "A Witch Shall Be Born", the thought of turning against his queen, even though she suddenly turned into The Caligula, drives Valerius into Brain Fever. Especially when he is called a traitor.
    Despair and bewilderment shook his voice. The girl murmured pityingly, not understanding it all, but aching in sympathy with her lover's suffering.
  • In Donald Kingsbury's Courtship Rite, Oelita experiences an extended version when, on top of discovering conclusive proof that her whole belief system is a lie, she finds that the two people she's just fallen in love with are married to the man who has been trying to kill her. She flees to the wilderness to live as a hermit, until the maran-Kaiel decide that surviving this shock counts as the last test of the Death Rite, and decide to bring her back to marry her, since they've learned to love her too.
  • In Chapter 24 of The Day of the Locust, protagonist Tod Hackett visits the house of his friend Homer Simpson and finds him staring off into the far distance. After some prodding, Homer tells Tod a disjointed account of how his life in Los Angeles has just collapsed around his ears: he had been allowing aspiring actress Faye Greener (on whom he and Tod both have crushes), her boyfriend Earle Shoop, and his friend Miguel to live in his house and garage, but the previous night, Faye slept with Miguel to make Earle jealous, leading the two men to fight and all three to move out of his house. Homer remains near catatonic until the novel's finale.
  • In the unbelievably bitter and unexpected ending to Judith Merril's 1953 story "Dead Center", Ruth is described as having a "tired and unholy calm" expression.
  • In the Cal Leandros book Deathwish, Niko has one of these when he is tricked into seeing the false image of a dead Cal lying in a huge pool of blood, and goes into a fugue state/rampage, in which he is later told that he'd single-handedly killed an entire zoo-full of dangerous supernaturally-enhanced animals with nothing but his katana.
  • The Dark Tower: Roland in Wizard and Glass goes into a catatonic state for weeks, after witnessing Susan burned to death.
  • In Robin Jarvis' Deptford Mice trilogy, Piccadilly has two of these, both in the same book (The Final Reckoning). The first time is when he discovers that everyone in his home, Holeborn, has been savagely slaughtered by Morgan's rat army, and the second is later when he sees that his friend Marty did not survive the attack after all, and his skin is being used as the rats' flag.
  • Discworld:
    • In the novel Men at Arms this is Detritus's reaction to Cuddy's death, eventually snapping out of it into a Unstoppable Rage. Well, unstoppable by anyone but Carrot, but he's Carrot.
    • Vimes at the end of Thud!. THAT! IS! NOT! MY! COW!
    • Rincewind in Sourcery. Finally returning to the Library after Coin orders it burned. What follows is almost tragic, as Rincewind frantically searches through the ashes for anything familiar, sobbing.
    • Dangerous Beans has one in The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, after learning the book that inspired him to dream of a world where rats and humans live in harmony, Mr. Bunsy Has an Adventure, is merely a children's storybook by the Discworld equivalent of Beatrix Potter.
    • Ginger has one of these in Moving Pictures after seeing the creature from the Dungeon Dimensions fall off the Tower of Art. Justified, as the giant shapechanger had taken Ginger's own form (among others) as it plummeted to its death.
    • Subverted in The Last Hero: When Leonard of Quirm is tasked by the gods to paint the entire cosmos on the ceiling of the Temple of Small Gods, as punishment for building the Kite, Rincewind and Carrot think his silent, inward looking reaction is one of these. Actually, he's just visualising how awesome it's going to look once he's finished.
  • Arlene in Doom suffers from this twice:
    • She falls apart for a bit after having to kill her reworked lover Dodd. She had asked Fly to do it for her if she couldn't but realized that she'd hate him if he did and chose her living friend over her dead lover.
    • The second time Arlene breaks down is worse. Dodd was a lover but she otherwise didn't understand her feelings for him. She truly loved Albert and married him. Completing the mission meant returning to Albert forty-years after she left him due to Averting Faster-Than-Light Travel. Fly's berserk rampage on the Fred ship completely robs her of returning to her husband as centuries will pass before they can return to Earth. She wanders the Fred ship in a daze, her only communication with Fly is mourning Albert, she tortures the dead Freds by using them as target practice, and fires into the bulkheads without caring about a ricochet killing her. The only way Fly can snap her out of it is to walk into her line of fire.
  • Jonathan Harker, from Dracula, suffers one after his imprisonment in the villain's castle and no wonder. His physical health breaks down right along with the mental, and he doesn't even know if everything he saw was real or in his head until Van Helsing confirms it.
  • Dragons/The Last Dragon Chronicles: Lucy was abducted by an evil witch and lived on mushrooms in the Arctic for a few months. When she was eleven. What's one to expect?
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Harry Dresden has one at the end of Grave Peril after his girlfriend is partially turned into a Red Court vampire. He basically becomes a shut in, ignoring all of his friends while trying to find a solution to the spoiler problem above.
    • He has a minor one in Fool Moon as well, when he basically shuts down for a little while due to being completely worn out and despairing because Murphy no longer trusts him and has arrested him for withholding information in a murder investigation, when he had just begun to regain her trust after losing it in Storm Front.
    • In Turn Coat, Harry suffers a pretty horrific BSOD. He uses his wizard's Sight, which allows him to see the true nature of anything he looks at (and remember what he sees perfectly forever), to see a Skinwalker, basically a native American fallen angel/Eldritch Abomination who has a supernatural ability to know how to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. He isn't just shocked — he blacks out, comes to slowly, realizing he is shaking and crying uncontrollably. He fades in and out of consciousness a few more times, does a fair amount of screaming, and manages to stagger to a nearby friend's house while counting prime numbers to keep himself sane. He spends an hour in a dark room recovering enough to function, but even days later he's still shaken by the memory, largely because he always will remember it perfectly each time because of how the Sight works. The fact that he didn't Go Mad from the Revelation is amazing to say the least, and he takes the incident as a lessen to be far more carful with using his sight in the future.
    • Harry's mind shuts down for a large chunk of time after a massive spell goes off in Changes. The same spell causes nightmares and mental trauma in anyone even slightly magical on the entire planet.
  • Sinuhe from The Egyptian has several, usually triggered by the death of a loved one or the revelation of a secret.
  • Ender's Game:
    • Ender's reaction to finding out the "wargames" had all been real at the end is somewhere between this and Angst Coma.
    • Or his response after the fight with Bonzo. He held it together long enough to organise his army into formation, but then it's shown in Ender's Shadow that he has himself frozen and hands the whole army over to Bean. His attitude, or lack thereof, in his room after the battle might not be a BSOD on some characters, but for never-give-up Ender it's pretty serious.
    • Don't forget about the description of his trial for killing Stilson as well as Bonzo.
  • Hana and Kip's backstories in The English Patient, when their father and mentor, respectively, are killed. Kip gets one at the climax of the book, when he learns about the bombing of Hiroshima.
  • Older Than Dirt: In The Epic of Gilgamesh, Enkidu's death knocks Gilgamesh flat. He has to watch him die over the course of twelve days, is utterly shellshocked when it happens, and by his own account refused to start the funeral rites until Enkidu's corpse was visibly rotting, because Gilgamesh has really hoped the violence of his grief could bring his friend back. He could have gone back for more of the Flower of Youth, but turns out having everyone say something is impossible and reckless, going out and doing it, then having it snatched away at the last second can change your outlook on things a bit.
  • After Mason's death in Frostbite, Rose becomes a bit unhinged for a while.
  • In Frostflower and Thorn Frostflower understandably becomes almost catatonic after being captured, raped, tortured, publicly humiliated, and hung up for execution before her daring rescue by Thorn and Spendwell. Oh, and her son was taken away from her. And her dog.
  • Dave Duncan's protagonist in The Gilded Chain has one because of a death he causes. He goes close to catatonic, and is passively suicidal.
  • Sam and Lana from the Gone series, at the end of Lies.
    • Dekka, after Penny's visions made her think she had the bugs in her again.
    • Dekka again after Brianna dies.
    • Edilio too after he thinks Roger dies.
  • Phaethon, hero of John C. Wright's The Golden Age, has two: a mild one when he finds his wife has committed suicide by checking herself into a Lotus-Eater Machine; and a much worse one after he is exiled and loses his Power Armor. Fortunately for him, his wife made a backup copy of herself...
  • Will from The Goodness Gene slips into this when he discovers that he's a clone of Hitler.
  • Good Behaviour: Aroon goes through one when she finds out about Richard's engagement to another woman
    Aroon: I could accept nothing. I was on the floor bowing my head, rocking myself against acceptance; I was a rooted thing, torn about in a volume of storm.
  • Good Omens: Crowley has a fairly epic one when he rushes into a burning bookstore to save Aziraphale, only to find that he's not there.
    "His shades flew to a far corner of the room, and became a puddle of burning plastic. Yellow eyes with slitted vertical pupils were revealed. Wet and steaming, face ash-blackened, as far from cool as it was possible for him to be, on all fours in the blazing bookshop, Crowley cursed Aziraphale, and the ineffable plan, and Above, and Below."
  • Greystone Valley begins in the midst of the protagonist's BSOD thanks to the death of her father.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix:
      • Harry locks himself in his room and refuses to talk to anyone after hearing that he is being possessed by the Big Bad. However, he is promptly told by another main character that he is being silly and nothing of the sort is happening, and everybody was jumping to conclusions anyway.
      • After witnessing his father and godfather bullying Snape via a Pensieve memory, Harry's horrified at what he saw and empathizes with Snape. His idealized view of his father has been shaken, but he later accepts that his father matured to become a brave and compassionate guy.
    • After Dumbledore dies and Snape escapes in Half-Blood Prince, Harry has a BSOD. Justified, considering what that means not only to him but for the future of the wizarding world.
    • In Deathly Hallows:
      • Ron shuts down for several minutes when Hermione is tortured.
      • "The Forest Again." Harry's in total shock, which is understandable considering that it turns out Snape was a hero, and Harry had to die at Voldemort's mercy in order to defeat him.
  • Heralds of Valdemar:
    • Talia suffers two, one relatively minor one when she is forced to confront the fact that she has absolutely no control over her empathic powers, and a later, much more serious one when she lapses into an Angst Coma after being tortured nearly to death. Naturally, The Power of Love brings her back.
    • Vanyel from the Last Herald-Mage has Heroic BSODs all over the place. The first is in his Super Hero Origin, where the death of his lover and a massive infusion of magical power sends him into near-catatonia, and the last comes after being tortured and using his magical powers to slaughter an entire camp of bandits in the culmination of a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
    • For that matter, Tarma and Kethry do this in their backstories, both of which involve rape. Mercedes Lackey employs this trope rather liberally.
  • In H.I.V.E. Series: Escape Velocity, when Overlord reveals that all of Otto's unnatural abilities exist because he is a super-clone created for the sole purpose of being taken over by Overlord and used to destroy the world Otto stares at Overlord in horror for a few seconds before Overlord tries to take him over but is stopped by HIVEmind.
  • Honor Harrington spends a good chunk of Field of Dishonor in one after Paul Tankersley's death. She's just recovered from it in Flag in Exile when the an industrial accident which killed several schoolchildren, for which she is blamed sends her right into another one. And that doesn't even count all the BSODs that occur during and immediately after the battles in that series.
  • In The Host Wanderer has one when she discovers the doc is attempting to remove souls out of the humans. She hides herself away for two days and doesn't talk to anyone.
  • In The Hunger Games series, multiple characters hit the BSOD of PTSD. Katniss wanders out of coherence several times, most notably after watching Prim die in a ball of fire. She also has a brief but vividly described one in the first book, right after Prim's name is drawn at the reaping.

    She has a pretty big one at the end of "Catching Fire" as well. In her narration she says she loses the will to live after President Snow captures Peeta and she realizes she'll probably never see him again.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones, Ward doesn't talk for several days after killing Oreg. As he mentions that is what others have told him, he seems to have been mostly unconscious during the time as well. The healers think it's because of the loss of blood during a previous fight, and exhaustion as he had to do a lot of running, but he knows better.
  • Achilles falls into one twice in The Iliad, first after Agememnon steals Briseis, and then again (and more legitimately) after his friend Patroclos dies in Achilles' place.
  • The Idiot has this at the very end. Prince Myshkin's fiancee Nastasya abandons him on the day of her wedding, and instead elopes with Rogozhin (who, for all his flaws, Myshkin still considers his friend and spiritual brother). The next day, Myshkin goes to see them, and discovers that Rogozhin has killed Nastasya. When the police arrive on the scene, Myshkin and Rogozhin are keeping vigil over her body, and Myshkin is now mute and mad. The novel closes with him committed to a sanatorium. In other words a typical Russian ending. There's a reason they invented Vodka.
  • In Death: Eve has experienced this a few times, like in Conspiracy In Death. Roarke definitely had one in Portrait In Death.
  • Inheritance Cycle: Eragon has one of these after he finds out the identity of his father (both times). He gets better incredibly fast, and doesn't really struggle with the information in the long term, although fairly justified the second time as it was arguably good news, he just needed a little time to process it.
  • Inkdeath: Author Fenoglio spends almost the entire book being depressed and cynical because he no longer controls what happens in the world he created, and it's going to the H-word.
  • In the James Bond novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Bond's new bride is shot to death within an hour of their wedding by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Bond does not take it well, and spends the first chapter or two of the next novel, You Only Live Twice in a drunken stupor, slagging off on work and generally acting an uncharacteristic disgrace. It gets so bad that M revokes his 00 number and finally, as one last attempt to shake him out of it, assigns Bond a suicide mission on behalf of their allies the Japanese, a mission that if Bond succeeds will convince the Japanese Secret Service to part with juicy information the British need. It works, especially when Bond finds out the big bad he is going after is none other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld, precipitating a berserk Roaring Rampage of Revenge that leaves Blofeld dead and Bond's mind shattered...
  • In the Jeeves and Wooster story "The Aunt and the Sluggard", the aftermath of the latest Zany Scheme forces Bertie to stay in a hotel without Jeeves for an indefinite period. Bertie crashes almost instantly, losing interest in normal activities and even going through a period resembling mourning. He pulls himself together, vaguely, after a few days of this:
    The frightful loss of Jeeves made any thought of pleasure more or less a mockery, but at least I found that I was able to have a dash at enjoying life again. What I mean is, I braced up to the extent of going round the cabarets once more, so as to try to forget, if only for the moment.
  • John Carter of Mars experiences a massive one at the end of The Gods of Mars, when he witnesses his wife Dejah Thoris being locked up inside a inescapable dungeon, possibly to starve to death if not murdered by a love rival that was imprisoned with her. After spending a decade away from her and the entire book trying to reunite with his beloved, he nearly loses the will to live and would have crossed the next level had he not recovered.
    "Go," I urged them. "Let me die here beside my Princess—there is no hope or happiness elsewhere for me. When they carry her dear body from that terrible place a year hence let them find the body of her lord awaiting her."
  • In web phenom-turned book/film John Dies at the End, Protagonist Dave and best friend John find themselves in a confrontation with some Otherworld enemies. Dave is behind one of the mask-wearing alternate universe villains and during a struggle, John pulls off the villain's mask. Dave literally describes John's reaction as this trope 'like a computer crashing' or words to that effect. John just goes blank, no screaming, just blank. He recovers in time to join Dave in escaping and the incident is, to date, never referenced again and what John saw is never, ever raised.
  • Kill Time or Die Trying:
    • James has one when someone suggests that he isn't more successful than Dylan.
    • Dylan himself has one when WARP is evicted from its club-room
    • Melvyn has these, out of sheer surprise, whenever he says something intelligent. It's suggested that it's deliberate: he knows the next thing he says will be dumb, so he doesn't want to spoil the moment.
  • The Legend of Drizzt: Drizzt, in some of R.A. Salvatore's later books (specifically The Hunter's Blades Trilogy), especially The Lone Drow, where he flips back and forth between this, murderous rage, and pure Wangst for most of the book.
  • In Little Women, the March ladies have more than one of these.
    • Beth in the backstory, when her Shrinking Violet tendences went to the extreme and she couldn't withstand going to school anymore, thus her parents chose to homeschool her.
    • Marmee, when she gets a letter telling her that Reverend March is on the brink of death in the war front
    • Meg, as she overhears the Gossipy Hens talking about her and Laurie,
    • Jo, upon Beth's death.
  • Rowan Mayfair has gone into one of these at the beginning of Taltos, (the third book of the Lives of the Mayfair Witches trilogy) after killing and burying Emaleth, her daughter by Lasher.
  • Happens briefly to Éomer in The Lord of the Rings during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, when he learns that his sister Éowyn, who should have been safely home in Rohan, has died (or so he believes) in the battle. Followed by Unstoppable Rage.
    "Then suddenly he beheld his sister Éowyn as she lay, and he knew her. He stood a moment as a man who is pierced in the midst of a cry by an arrow through the heart; and then his face went deathly white, and a cold fury rose in him, so that all speech failed him for a while."
  • A common theme the novels of H. P. Lovecraft is for the main character to witness something so horrifying that they pass out or go insane.
  • Lymond has these throughout Dorothy Dunnett's Lymond Chronicles. The most blatant is when he freezes after the chess game in "Pawn in Frankincense" when he is forced to sacrifice someone he cares for and has to be led back to his room, where he promptly faints. He subsequently experiences blinding migraines whenever he is reminded of that trauma or when he feels that the life of someone he cares about is at risk because of him.
  • Karn the Silver Golem had a BSOD during a scene in Magic the Gathering: Rath and Storm. When he goes to kill the murderous traitor Vuel (Volrath before he was Volrath), he smashes a cart of food in a fit of rage to show his power to Vuel's men. However, the cart toppled over onto an innocent boy and crushed him, prompting Karn's BSOD and invoking a vow of pacifism from him.
  • Two different characters each suffer one for almost the entirety of the second book of The Mark of the Lion trilogy: After her husband dies, Phoebe is completely paralyzed and unable to communicate save by way of a code she worked out with her servant. Then Marcus, thinking Hadassah has been killed by lions, spends months so emotionally and spiritually devastated that he is unable to run the family estate and business like he's supposed to.
  • This happens twice to Zack State in The Mental State. The first time is when he is forced to watch as street thugs rape the woman he loves. This gets worse when he lacerates them in revenge and then realises that his actions have traumatised her even more. The second time happens at the end of the book, in which he is forced to confront the woman after he is released from prison. This time, he breaks down in tears.
  • In Alexander Yang's Midnight World series Aeneas' BSOD after his wife's death lasted for several months. By his own account, it was something like "walking lethargy".
  • Les Misérables has quite a few... ok, better pick those rare characters who don't get at least one. Valjean has this at least 3-4 times. Then he gets better and saves the day.
  • In Les Mondes d'Ewilan, after escaping the government facility that captured her, Ewilan spent several weeks in an almost catatonic state, completely emotioneless, her stare empty, barely doing anything besides sleeping, and not even talking anymore. And to make it even creepier, we never find out exactly what happened.
  • In Nation by Terry Pratchett the main character Mau goes into this while disposing of the bodies of his tribe in the sea. While his body drags the bodies out and ritually prepares them, his mind goes somewhere else, refusing to let the faces of the dead register in his mind. His BSOD is so intense that he doesn't even notice the other main character, Daphne, even when she stands right in front of him. He only snaps out of it in time to keep from drowning himself. Longterm effects of his BSOD turn him into a sort of Flat Earth Agnostic: he's unsure whether or not the gods exist, but he refuses to worship them if they do because they either sent or didn't stop the apocalyptic tidal wave that starts the story off and decimated Mau's people.
  • One Rose Trilogy: Kallista Varyl in The Eternal Rose has one when the first godmarked, Stone, dies. Since she can literally feel him get poisoned, starts healing him, then his head gets chopped off... she needs some time.
  • The Parasol Protectorate: Alexia goes into shutdown mode in Timeless after she watches her temporarily-mortal husband fall to his apparent death. She snaps out of it when he does a Big Damn Heroes at the climax of the book.
  • The Expanded Babylon 5 Universe trilogy of novels, The Passing of the Techno-Mages, has Galen spending a lot of time in this state—frustratingly so, for the reader—when the Technomages exile themselves to sit out the Shadow War. He pretty much cuts himself off from everyone around him, refuses to talk through his issues even with those closest to him, and stoically keeps his anger just below a boil while it eats away at him. Much of this is due to his discovery that Technomage "tech" was created and supplied by the Shadows, a truth that was kept from him even by his close mentor and father-figure, Elric. He finally snaps out of it when he makes his own trip to Z'ha'dum.
  • Perfect Dark: Joanna Dark gets several ones after the deaths of her father and of Benjamin Able, especially since she blames herself for both.
  • In Stephen King's Pet Sematary, after killing his son, who Came Back Wrong, Louis Creed crouches down in a corner, and sucks on his thumb for two hours. And he doesn't get better; he's really just insane now.
  • In President's Vampire, Cade mentions that he went through one after World War Two, when what he saw made him question whether the world is actually worth saving. He got out of this when he accidentally stumbled upon Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and realized that his Horror Hunger is similar to what they're going through.
  • In March Upcountry, Prince Roger etc. MacClintock discovers a) that his father is a traitor, b) that everybody else already knew this, c) that everyone assumed he knew this already, d) that everyone thinks this is the reason he's such a jerk, and e) his mother sent him away because she distrusted him (for reasons a, c and d). This is why he's stuck on a Death World, and this is also why several hundred people have gotten killed trying to protect him. Understandably, he gets angry, swears at his guards, and trashes his room, causing everyone else to doubt his sanity.
    "I heard he called the Empress a bitch!"
    "No, he called his mother a bitch."
    "What's the difference?"
    "One is treason, and the other is just being really, really pissed at your mother."
  • In The Quorum, Neil Martin suddenly acquires what seems to be an unshakeable run of bad luck that continues for years. If he gets a job, he winds up getting fired; if he finds romance, it ends in acrimonious break-up; any time things seem to be looking up, it's only the lead-up to an awful let-down. After trying various ways of coping — including, at one point, hiring a gang of thugs to beat him up in the hope that if he gets in first misfortune will leave him alone for a bit — he eventually just sits down in the middle of the road and announces to the world in general that he gives up and doesn't care what happens any more. Unknown to him, his bad luck has been engineered so that his suffering can be used to power a dark magical working. When he bluescreens, he stops suffering, and the working rebounds on those who had been benefiting from it.
  • One of the young protagonists in Lois Duncan's Ransom goes into one of these after failing to Save the Villain, imagining that he can still see the villain's screaming face. (An unusual reaction for a thriller hero, perhaps, but after all, this is just a high school kid who's never even seen someone die before.)
  • This happens to Ronan in the last book of The Raven Cycle after his mother dies. This is made even worse by the fact that Ronan is usually the most emotionally volatile of the group.
  • Derek suffers once of these in The Reckoning after he breaks Liam's neck, killing him. The fact that Liam was trying to kill both Derek and Chloe doesn't make him feel much better about it. Directly after it happens, Chloe gets through to him by pointing out that even if Derek didn't mean to kill, Liam did. It's not enough to alleviate the guilt, but it's more than enough for Derek to get up and deal with it.
  • The first Red Dwarf novel, Infinity Welcomes Careful Drivers, takes a very different approach to the trope-naming moment when Holly explains that Everybody's Dead, Dave. Lister's reaction is a week-long Freak Out! and a drinking binge that's less "Drowning My Sorrows" and more attempted suicide by alcohol.
  • In Redwall, Matthias undergoes a short Heroic BSOD when he learns that Methuselah was killed while he was in the loft.
  • Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space's Captain John Brannigan suffers a Heroic BSOD after he discovers what he has become by the end of the book. A 4 km long starship. He tries to cut himself in half with a Deathray in Redemption Ark.
  • A major character in Patricia McKillip's The Riddle Master Trilogy has one that spans the course of a book, via a personality change.
  • Draffut has one at the end of Sightblinder's Story when he realizes that he has accidentally caused the death of a human being. Since his entire existence had been dedicated to the service, protection, and healing of mankind, this kind of makes him lose his mind.
  • The Silmarillion :
    • Túrin from this and The Children of Húrin undergoes several of these, after he accidentally kills his best friend Beleg, after he finds the grave of the princess who he swore to protect and finally when he finds out that his wife is actually his sister. He kills himself after the last one.
    • Also, Sauron seems to be deliberately invoking this on Finrod Felagund during their song duel, by singing of Kinslaying at Alqualondë.
  • At the end of the third Sir Apropos of Nothing novel, the eponymous (anti)hero gets an (anti)Heroic BSoD when he learns that Verah Wang Ho, the leader of an Asian-like crime syndicate and his temporary lover, is the Emperor' The BSOD consists of Apropos saying "I don't care" over and over, which just happens to be the trigger word of his Infinity +1 Sword, and the repeated triggering of the sheathed sword eventually causes a Hiroshima-like explosion (which is lampshaded in the last chapter, when he gives the sword to a fat man and his little boy).
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Oh, boy! Nikki Quinn suffered this in the book The Jury. Maggie Spritzer suffered this in the book Hokus Pokus. Harry Wong suffered this in the book Vanishing Act. Jack Emery helped them out of this in all three instances.
  • The Sister Verse and the Talons of Ruin has Kal, who upon finding out that his daughter has been captured, marches straight to Octavia and soul drains every guard that stands in his way.
  • Song at Dawn: After her traumatic first time Estela's love ballads fall flat because she's disillusioned. Dragonetz 'reboots' her, so to speak, after having sex with her himself.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sansa Stark spends the Red Wedding in this state. She also has another when she starts menstruating, both because it means Joffrey will try to rape her to produce an heir, and because her cramps were VERY painful.
  • In Space Marine Battles, the Fall of Damnos elicits this from a few characters.
    • Colonel Sonne is completely broken and past his Despair Event Horizon before the Ultramarines even show up and spends the entire novel convinced that Necrons will murder them all.
    • After Damnos falls, Sicarius undergoes an extended version, blaming himself for everything that happened (he commanded the Ultramarine forces), although hiding it behind gruff and Death Seeker persona.
  • In The Stand, Stu recalls the description of tharn, realizes he's close to a similar mental state himself, and that he has to keep himself out of that state to have a chance at escaping from the Plague Center.
  • Bruenor is in this state for much of Starless Night after the loss of his adopted son, Wulfgar.
  • Captain Picard suffered something like this in Star Trek: Destiny when he came to the conclusion that the Federation could not win the war against the Borg.
  • The Star Trek: Voyager novel Mosaic details when Captain Janeway goes through one of these. Considering that Kathryn lost her father and her fiancee on the same day, she's entitled.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • In Shadows of the Empire, Dash Rendar was supposed to fend off a missile attack from the Suprosa (the ship carrying the plans for the second Death Star), but failed to shoot the missile down, leading to the destruction of the Alliance's Bothan ships. Dash doesn't take kindly to the aftermath and continuously blames himself at the end of the battle. Towards the end of the novel, the Rebels inform Luke that the Suprosa had been using diamond-boron missiles that are immune to laser fire, so Dash couldn't have shot them down anyway. Luke learns this only after Dash was lost in an asteroid field and presumed dead.
    • In the book Wraith Squadron, by Aaron Allston, Myn Donos's Talon Squadron is destroyed around him in an ambush. He escapes, but becomes emotionally numb. Later, his astromech—whom he refers to later as "the last Talon"—is destroyed when his X-wing is hit in combat, and he shuts down completely for a while, feeling that he has now completely failed his squadron.
    • It happens again in Solo Command. This time, it's accidentally revealed that the one responsible for destroying Talon Squadron is currently a member of the Wraiths. After this revelation, Donos suddenly goes berserk, and attempts to shoot down his squadmate (who had executed a Heel–Face Turn in the previous book), nearly killing another squadmate in the process. He snaps out of it quickly, but this event reveals lingering issues that he still has to deal with.
    • Han goes through a pretty major one following Chewbacca's death in the New Jedi Order novel Vector Prime.
    • In the novelization of Revenge of the Sith:
      • During the meeting with the Senators against Palpatine's increasing power grab, Padmé asks if she could discuss the matter with a Jedi she trusts. She meant to be referring to Anakin, but to her surprise instead finds she's thinking of Obi-Wan. The realization that she doesn't trust her own husband with this confidential matter fills her with guilt.
      • Anakin has one that's much more intense than it is in the film, when he reports to Mace Windu that Palpatine is actually Sidious. In the film, he's clearly upset and agitated, but still functioning mostly as normal; in the book, however, he's on the verge of a total breakdown.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • The Way of Kings: After Jasnah learns that Shallan stole her Soulcaster, Shallan sits in a hospital bed for days, staring at nothing and crying occasionally. She manages to snap out of it when she starts drawing again, and discovers a secret regarding what Jasnah is researching. She even confronts Jasnah and manages to get herself involved in the research.
    • Words of Radiance: Flashbacks to Shallan's childhood show that she was like this for months after her mother died. She was completely mute, and did little more than sit and stare. She only spoke when her eldest brother tried to kill their father for killing their mother. Over time, she recovered more, and even managed to become The Heart of her family. Everyone thinks that the BSOD was because she watched her father kill her mother, but the truth is that Shallan's mother tried to kill her—and Shallan killed her first.
    • Kaladin also suffers this a couple of times. In in The Way of Kingsit happens after being made into a bridge man, basically a slave job that is also a death sentence. Syl is finally able to pull him out of it by giving him some poisonous leaves. Later in Oathbringer he suffers two more, or arguably a single extended one. When two different groups he has befriended start killing each other during storming the place in Kholinar ge shuts down as the slaughter happens around him and has to be dragged away. He only marginally recovers during the several day trip through Shadesmar. When the group is trying to get back to the physical realm at the Oath Gate, Syl is encourages him to say the next Oath, but he shuts down again, unable to find the Words. He recovers quickly, however, when Dalinar is able to provide a way back for them.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • Richard suffers this in Stone of Tears, after finding out Darken Rahl was his real father.
    • Kahlan has her BSOD moment in the same book when she realizes that Richard will be trapped in the Palace of the Prophets for centuries and she will never see him again. Fortunately, he escapes and reunites with her hours later.
    • In the fourth book, Temple of the Winds, Richard has to enter the eponimous temple to stop a plague that is ravaging the world. Doing so, however, requires a betrayal on Kahlan's behalf, and Richard arrives at his destination fully convinced that he has no reason to live since his true love has forsaken him.
    • The fifth book, Soul of the Fire, ends with people of Anderith rejecting Richard's call to join him in the war against the Imperial Order. This is a turning point for his character and for the series, because it helps Richard realize what it is he really fights for, and changes the tone of the following books correspondingly.
    • Chainfire. Richard is falsely led to believe that Kahlan existed only in his mind, and this extinguishes his will to live until he is reasoned with and convinced not to give up and fight for his values and beliefs.
    • And at last, in Confessor, after Richard finds a contradiction that he can't explain.
  • Temeraire contains a few examples, but perhaps the most dramatic is what happened to Admiral Lenton in Empire of Ivory. Laurence comes back to England after a year away, with no word or sign of British dragons on their approach, and finds Admiral Lenton distracted, forgetful, and looking like he's aged ten years. It turns out a kind of tuberculosis is killing the dragons of England, with no known cure, and Obversaria, Lenton's dragon of 40 years, was among the first to die. Jane Roland later tells Laurence that Lenton held up for a good three weeks before having a stroke.
  • In Thieves Like Us, Con has one when the bad guys force her to ride in the backseat of the car they're abducting her and Motti in. If that sounds rather silly, keep in mind that when she last rode in the backseat, she was a child and had to see her parents die horrifically in a car wreck (and watch their mangled corpses hang there until she could be pulled out by the paramedics.
  • In the Thousand Sons novel Ahriman: Unchanged, Ahriman slips into a depressed, unresponsive funk for weeks after realizing that the second Rubric, a powerful spell that was supposed to return the Rubric Marines to their previously living state, did not work. It isn’t until his fellow Thousand Sons discover that one of the Rubric Marines was restored that Ahriman starts to recover.
  • In Time Scout, Malcolm takes Margo to Brighton during her special trip to Victorian London. Normally, he doesn't take clients to the beach in February, and when they do go to the beach he usually avoids Brighton. That's because he's from Brighton and his younger brother drowned during The Accident, in February. He has a breakdown and Margo has to keep him in one piece.
  • Tortall Universe: Beka Cooper has one in Mastiff when she finds out that the slavers and slaves that the abducted young prince had been hidden among have all been brutally slaughtered and left rotting in a field like garbage, this after dealing with many other horrific deaths and cruelties inflicted by the traitors. She's desperate to find some way to give the poor folk a bit of dignity in death even though they don't have time, and she probably would have broken had not had the Black God suddenly appeared to bury them himself in pity and thanks for all the good service she'd done him.
  • Twilight:
    • Bella spends nearly the entire book of New Moon in this state after Edward breaks up with her. According to Word of God, Edward also spent most of this time curled up in a fetal position hating the world, before his suicide attempt.
    • In the fourth book, Breaking Dawn, Edward freezes up and apparently goes into shock after hearing Bella is pregnant with Edward's baby; something that wasn't thought possible. Edward also knows the myths of things like this, and in the myths, the mother never survives. Vampires in Twilight are normally very in control of themselves (socially; bloodlust is another thing), and Edward's mind basically shuts down. He lets his phone ring for quite a while, and his expression doesn't change at all after hearing about Bella's situation. While this might not sound like much, it basically means that Edward's mind asploded.
  • Both Vincent and Malim, in Unda Vosari, have their fair share of Heroic BSODs during the course of their adventures. Vincent ends up talking to himself using parody voices of other characters, while Malim makes hand puppets out of paper and goes completely nuts.
  • More than once in The Underland Chronicles.
    • Gregor suffers from one in Gregor and the Code of Claw, when the realization that if the prophecy is true he's going to die.
    • Luxa becomes essentially catatonic when her cousin betrays her.
    • Vikus suffers a stroke after his wife dies.
  • Mike Jenkins has one after finding out that the young woman he loved was killed on a mission, in Unto the Breach. Granted, this is with a somewhat flexible definition of "hero", given the victim of the BSOD.
  • In Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, Lestat spends several books in a catatonic state after an encounter with a being he believes to be Satan. It's not so much the encounter but the inability to accept that everything he has done after hearing Memnoch's story is a big Evil Plan and that all he has done is promote the Devil's agenda.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, this happens to Miles Vorkosigan from time to time — a particularly graphic example is in Memory. With all he's been through, it's a wonder he ever comes out of it.
    Ivan: "After about the twenty-fifth time you see this, (a catatonic Miles) you stop getting excited about it. It's just....Something he does."
  • Near the end of H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, while exploring the lifeless ruins of London, and already teetering on the ragged edge of sanity, the narrator comes upon a tripod and a dead Martian inside it. The mixture of exuberance and grief that follows is too much for him to handle, and he only regains his sanity several days later, learning from his caretakers that he was found roaming the streets crying and shouting "last man in the world, hurrah, last man in the world".
  • Warrior Cats:
    • Bluestar suffers a major BSOD after the extent of her trusted deputy Tigerclaw's treachery is laid bare. She is almost completely withdrawn from the world for the next book, leaving new deputyFireheart to pretty much run the Clan in her place, and in the next book, when Tigerclaw (now Tigerstar) takes over ShadowClan, she loses her mind and begins to see her entire Clan as a pack of traitors. Only minutes before her Heroic Sacrifice does she finally regain her full sanity.
    • This seems to have happened to Hollyleaf, just before her "death" scene.
  • In Watership Down, the rabbit language actually has a word, tharn, for this state of mind. Rabbits, being small, flighty animals at the bottom of the food chain, have a lot of opportunities in their lifetimes to bluescreen in the face of hopeless danger. Heartbreakingly, this is Truth in Television, as baby rabbits often suffer heart attacks if sufficiently frightened. Poor things.
  • Rand al'Thor from The Wheel of Time goes through several of these, such as when he hears about the death of Herid Fel in A Crown of Swords. His worst one happens when he tries to murder his own father in a rage and nearly makes himself bring an end to existence itself. He gets better.
  • Thematically in Haruki Murakami's novel The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. Most memorably since the events are described in graphic detail, Lieutenant Mamiya describes himself as living in a functional, permanent Heroic BSoD state after having seen his commanding office flayed to death.
  • In Wonder (2012), August is unintentionally betrayed by his best friend Jack during Halloween, and he assumes this for a while. His sister Via helps him get out of this.
  • Xandri Corelel shuts down from stress and grief near the end of Failure to Communicate. Instead of attending her bodyguard Katya's funeral, she sits in her room and stares at the wall, and can't bring herself to talk or cry even when Christa comes into her room and accuses her of being unfeeling.
  • The eponymous protagonist of the short story "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne suffers a crippling Heroic BSoD after he wakes up in the forest, unsure of whether or not the events of the previous night, an occult ritual involving himself, several of his townsfolk, and his wife Faith, really happened or was All Just a Dream.
  • The last book in the Zodiac Series, Thirteen Rising, gives one to Rho after Nishi is killed, which utterly destroys what's left of her Cancrian heart. It's only thanks to Hysan that she comes back to help save the world.


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