open/close all folders
- Empowered's titular character. After the events in volume one alone, most people would have given up on superheroing for good. Emp's six volumes in and counting. Pain, humiliation, mortal terror, repeated failure, and the constant verbal abuse of her teammates do not stop her. It's either noble dedication or the worst case of Chronic Hero Syndrome ever. She could walk away at any time. No one would blame her. She doesn't. She never will. She's the poster girl for this trope, and anyone who says otherwise hasn't read the comic.
- Spider-Man takes more crap, deals with more tragedy, blames himself for his shortcomings, and gets less credit than almost any other A-list superhero, all while constantly taking immense beatings by going up against threats way beyond his power level, but he never lets it break his spirit.
- And then there's Flash "Agent Venom" Thompson. Who's been through an abusive childhood, his legs getting blown off in war, Demonic Possession, a messy breakup, and a constant fight for control against the Venom Symbiote, yet still fights without complaining because that's what Spider-Man would do.
- Colossus from the X-Men is a very literal example. He's seen his brother "die", come back after many years, and exile himself from this realm. He's seen his sister die from the Legacy virus. He then sacrificed his own life to find a cure for said virus. An alien resurrected and imprisoned him, tortured him for two years, and shortly after he was freed, his girlfriend disappeared in space. She came back recently... only to discover that she was trapped in her intangible form, and unable to interact with the rest of the world, including Colossus. And he's still one of the noblest of the X-Men. Later, Colossus's sister also came back. She may or may not be a soulless abomination. Regardless, she acts more emotionless and detached than before, and endangered the entire world for her own vendetta. Colossus still stands by her. Much later, he took the mantle of the Juggernaut, which makes him even more mentally unstable.
- Mother of Champions from The DCU's Great Ten. Essentially being prostituted by her country to strange men so that her special gift can be exploited is bad enough, but the children that result from these unions have a lifespan of roughly one week. She had never given birth before she had her first 25 boys, and eight days later they were all dead. The fact that she remains the picture of motherly dignity and poise is a testament to her emotional strength. The "strange men" part is occasionally changed; she's slept with most of the male members of her team, though her heart belongs to Socialist Red Guardsman alone.
- Wolverine has over a century of bad memories starting with his father's murder, and after House of M he remembers all of them. His present and — judging by the various bad futures so prevalent in X-Men — his future aren't exactly a romp in the daisies either. He copes with all of this by being an active member of several superteams, fixing past mistakes, sleeping with every hooker in Bangkok, and playing pool.
- His clone/daughter, Laura Kinney AKA X-23, as well. Bred and raised to be an assassin-for-hire under incredibly abusive and brutal conditions, (she was exposed to lethal doses of radiation at age seven to forcibly activate her Healing Factor, and having her claws surgically removed to be coated in adamantium in the most painful process possible) forced to kill her mother through her conditioning to enter an Unstoppable Rage when exposed to a trigger scent, giving up the only family she's ever known to protect them from her abusive handler—who periodically catches up to her just to make her life a living hell—all the while struggling to control her berserker rage and come to terms with all the death on her hands. She doesn't even have the benefit of Logan's swiss cheese memory to ease the trauma, and remembers all of it. Laura wants to be normal, but she will keep fighting because, as she once told Daken, she's fighting for something bigger than herself.
- Batman is the definition of the Iron Woobie. His parents were cruelly gunned down by a mugger when he was eight years old, and that's just the beginning. He's had one of his allies crippled by the Joker, then lost his adopted son to the very same man in the course of a year. To make matters even worse he had his spine broken once and then had aforementioned adopted son return to life, now permanently blaming him for his first death. Yet despite this he has NEVER broken his moral code and has never used a gun. (However, he made a "once-in-a-lifetime exception" in Final Crisis when he shot Darkseid with a bullet made of Radion (the kryptonite equivalent of the New Gods and ironically, the same one Darkseid used to kill Orion). He did this to poison him and give time for Superman to finish the job. By that point though, everything was going to hell as Darkseid was wrecking the ''Multiverse'' so things have gotten ''that'' bad. His refusal to break it, even in the face of the Joker (who Batman would like to kill but won't), is the reason he remains a highly prominent A-List superhero and the world's best detective.
- Kate Kane started out similar to Batman: she, along with her mother and twin sister, were kidnapped, and she was left the only survivor of the operation sent to rescue them. Years later, she finds out her twin is not only alive, but has returned as a psychopathic cult leader. Her sister eventually jumps from a plane before her eyes. After this Kate gets mind-raped by a supernatural being and almost drowns, her cousin is almost killed while out crimefighting, she's blackmailed into working for a shady government organization in order to protect her father, she finds out her sister is still alive, she gets dosed with a hallucinogen and beaten up by a relatively sub-par villain, she breaks up with her girlfriend as a way to get her girlfriend's ex-husband to drop his custody battle for their daughter, and gets hypnotized by a vampire and becomes her sex slave. While she has a naturally stoic personality, she does exhibit anger and sadness from all this. However, even at her lowest point she never considers abandoning her role as a vigilante, and actually makes some progress through her issues after seeing a psychiatrist, becoming stronger for it.
- Martian Manhunter has one of, if not the most tragic backstory of the heroes of the DCU, and that's saying a lot. J'onn watched his entire species (including his wife and daughter) die a fiery death at the hands of his brother, only survived by cutting himself off from his species, wandered alone over the barren world of Mars for an untold amount of years and was abruptly transported to an alien world. Despite all this, J'onn retained his sanity and remains a noble, wise hero.
- Bruce Banner. Abused as a child, turned into a green monster, endured the death of three wives, chased around the world by the Army, shot into space, enslaved by an alien empire, loses the empire once he conquers it, has his Roaring Rampage of Revenge crushed by a Heel Realization, and fails to save one of his troubled sons. Man it SUCKS to be a big green badass.
- And, oddly enough, the Hulk himself, as depicted in "The End".Hulk: For years... forever... Hulk has listened to Banner, and Banner's friends, talking about how Hulk ruined Banner's life! Hulk made Banner's life! Banner was nothing before Hulk... nothing!...Hulk doesn't want friends, because friends will hurt him. Everyone hurts him. Everyone hurts Hulk.
- And, oddly enough, the Hulk himself, as depicted in "The End".
- Some incarnations of Tony Stark qualify especially if he's being The Determinator and disregards his health.
- Daredevil. Where to begin? His mother leaves when he is a baby, his father constantly pushes him to succeed so he can have a better life, he is blinded by chemicals and his father is murdered by the mob. Oh and the super senses? Matt can't turn them off and They make life nearly unbearable. In Born Again, his ex-girlfriend sells his identity to the mob, he loses his legal license, he has all his money taken away and is reduced to living on the streets. Then in Shadowland, he is demonically possessed and forced to do horrible things. Lets just say life sucks for Matt Murdock. And yet he never gives up and becomes a stronger person for it.
- Paperinik New Adventures: when the alien Evronians invaded Xadhoom's planet, she lost her boyfriend, and entire race. she resolved to exterminate them for it. The real kicker? She accidentally caused that invasion.
- Johnny Alpha of Strontium Dog: Born mutated, to a father running for high public office on an anti-mutant platform. Abused constantly throughout his childhood. Ran away and became a child soldier at age 12. General Armz second-in-command at 17. Watched the deaths of hundreds of his comrades-in-arms in the assault on Westminster. Lived the rest of his life as a bounty hunter. Estranged from his sister, who considered Johnny a threat to her family (not without reason). Watched several friends die. Killed his father and brother. Was cheated out of countless bounties. Faced constant anti-mutant discrimination. And soldiered on. If you don't want to buy the man a beer and give him a hug, you have no heart.
- Mockingbird, AKA Bobbi Morse. In chronological order, she's been framed, shot, caught in an explosion, beaten, raped, killed said rapist, saw her marriage break down, was abducted by aliens and forced to fight for survival, killed a Skrull that took the form of the man she loved, eventually returned but was then haunted by the ghost of her rapist, had her relationship with Hawkeye break down once more, her mother was shot and her brother disowned her, got shot again and turned into an immortal super soldier, then got left behind enemy lines with no memory, had serious Mind Rape that revealed she had a second personality, left with broken memories and shot at, then finally killed the man responsible for the mind rape before being lost, now missing with no one knowing where she is. All that, you'd think she'd give up, right? Well, she doesn't. She just faces down the problem with a smirk and a sarcastic one-liner.
- Superman himself. He lost his homeworld, in all continuities, one or both of the Kents die, and he has to live with the knowledge that he is different from the humans he protects and will never truly belong. His New 52 adaptation is even a Hero with Bad Publicity at the start of his career. And yet he never stops being an Ideal Hero. Upbringing Makes the Hero indeed.
- Supergirl. Compared to Kara, Kal's woobieness is miniscule. He may have lost his planet, but was a baby when it happened and was raised by the loving Kents, while Kara (especially in New Earth) remembers her planet pre-destruction and her parents being vaporized and planet being destroyed were the last thing she saw before the suspended animation of her ship kicked in. She has to deal with having the memory of what she's truly lost - family and friends alike, and has survivor's guilt because of it, but still tries to live up to the responsibilities of the S. Batman has told her that, unlike Clark, Kara knows what it's like to be like him because she knew what it was like to see your parents die in front of your eyes and be helpless to stop it.
- Charlie Brown from Peanuts stopped being too bothered by things that don't turn out well for him as he's come to expect it. It doesn't stop him from continuing to run his baseball team or participating in competitions of all sorts, however, in hopes that he will one day get his big break.
- Takato Matsuki from the Tamers Forever Series could be the poster boy for this trope, the amount of physical and mental torment he suffers through over the course of the series must be seen to be believed, but he take it all on with a smile on his face.
- Akiko Yamaguchi/Star Reverie from Magical Girl Mega Crossover the Battle Fantasia Project. The Call came to her at eight years old against The Church of The Eclipse for about a year, then for the next two there was the Carnival of Blood, an evil carnival made of warped versions of the usual fare that warps people into the horrors the longer they stay there, assuming they don't get killed, who killed her Familiar part-way through that little adventure, and now for the past four years she's been fighting the Nightmare Factory, which spawns Monsters Of The Week that are both spawned from and create nightmares, as well as play with Akiko's mind, and they may or may not be grooming the girl into something else. By the time we meet her, she's been disowned by her parents due to her maintaining The Masquerade, she's on her own, and has had seven years of rapidly escalating psychological torment heaped on her. So it's no surprise that we first meet her right as she's attempting suicide on live national Japanese news, calling for someone to save her for a change. However, in doing so she reveals the existence of Magical Girls, and starts off the series of events that leads to the formation of the Magical Girl Alliance, and she still wants to be a Magical Girl after she's recovered, been depowered, and the Big Bad of the First Arc has been defeated. And from the consensus on the thread, she gains a new powerset, and becomes a Bad Ass Teacher.
- From the war-torn future of Warhammer 40,000 comes an Ogryn named Gav from the fanfic The Ballad of Gav and Bob. Ogryn are a naturally loyal race of huge, violent manchildren fanatically devoted to the Emperor, and Gav is no different. He remains steadfastly loyal even after losing his Commissar and his best Ogryn friend Bob; seeing his new best friend Tarla gored by the tail of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh and losing his left arm to said Daemon; living to see Tarla turned into a mind-wiped servitor because of her repeated exposure to Chaos. Gav is so loyal that he ends up on the retinue of a Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor, Traela.
- Shinji Ikari in The Second Try invoked it willingly. After 3rd Impact and losing his (and Asuka's) child because they traveled back time to do the whole damn story again, he keeps on keeping on so he can prevent 3rd Impact and create a better future. Since Asuka is slowly giving into depression (and Character Development during 3rd Impact) he is the only thing keeping them both on track.
- Elissa, in the Dragon Age: Origins story Shadow And Rose, is very much this. Her entire family is murdered, then she's one of only two Grey Wardens to survive a massacre of a battle. She and her fellow Warden are then blamed for all the deaths in that battle and hunted relentlessly while they try to rally forces to help them save the country. All the while, she picks up new friends who each have their own personal demons that she must help them overcome. She can't give up or her country is doomed, so all she can do is continue to fight - and occasionally find a reason to smile.
- Harry Potter is generally a pervert and smartass with no respect for authority in I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. But from time to time, something causes his facade to slip for a moment and reveal how soul-crushingly lonely he is, being completely alone in the universe. Not only is he in another galaxy far, far away, but back on Earth, everyone he knew has been dead for centuries. At the start of the story, the only people he could claim as friends are Dobby, his droid he modeled after Minerva McGonagall, and a bartender he flirts with but doesn't even know the name of.
- Aesir: Cross Wars: Leon Hardrada/Azrael. All at the ripe old age of 14, Leon gets beaten up and robbed by his friends, whom he trusted. He is heavily implied to be an orphan. Later on that day, his brother got murdered. The next day, he received an invitation to go to the City of Light, only for the event to get hijacked by resident God of Evil Loki. He locks him in Helheim with 10 other children, but half of them die right in front of him. In particular, Aria Lockhart,a girl he had a crush on, had one of the most brutal deaths in the story (Impaled on spears multiple times, then has her soul ripped out of her body.). When the survivors escaped, Leon goes home, only to find his parents have been slaughtered by Loki. After he meets up with the other 5 survivors, they are being confronted by Loki, who wants to sacrifice one of them, and then Leon volunteers to die to keep the others alive. If not for the other gods taking action by reincarnating him as the Angel Azrael, he'd be too dead to make this trope. Despite all this, he is a Nice Guy who always gives second chances, and strongly believes Rousseau Was Right.. In fact, now that he can fight, he never kills if it can be avoided. He is a happy, kind boy who was even willing to forgive and reform Loki's fanatical priests and followers.
- Sweetie Belle from the Recursive Fanfiction The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments; the fic starts with her mentor Twilight Sparkle getting crystallized and blown up in a magic accident, with Sweetie stuck hopping across The Multiverse trying to put her back together. From there she's been attacked by werewolves, Fallout ghouls, psychopaths, and other monsters, killed several times by an insane shard of Twilight, watched an alternate universe Rarity cut down one of her best friends in cold blood, been physically and psychologically tortured by The Fair Folk until she became a living statue, got roped into a war between ponies and Changelings despite her calls for peace, and she gets the occasional vision of how her absence has emotionally destroyed her universe's Rarity. Yet she keeps moving on, in the hope that her journey will end and she and Twilight can go home.
Films — Animation
- Po in the Kung Fu Panda series. In the first film, Po has to get over both the taunts of his teammates and his own crippling self-esteem issues in order to become the Dragon Warrior. In the second, he learns about how his people were massacred by Lord Shen, including his mother. However, to Shen's astonishment, Po manages to come to terms with his past to achieve an inner peace that enables him to defeat a warfleet armed with cannons by himself.
- Coco takes this trope beyond eleven. We have Héctor, the estranged music man who went on a music tour and was never heard from by his family again, who was murdered by his best friend for wanting to return home and spent 96 years trying to see his daughter Coco before he was completely forgotten. Not only did his family refuse to remember him, when his wife Imelda died, she refused to listen to his desperate attempts at apologizing, and it was only through Miguel mistakenly believing his best friend to be his great-great-grandfather that he learned the truth of how he died, got his chance to reunite with his family, and finally see Coco without being forgotten.
Films — Live-Action
- Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies bears traces of this. In The Terminator, she loses her roommate and best friend, her mother and the love of her life. By Terminator 2: Judgment Day, she has been committed to an asylum, and has not seen her son in years. Despite all this, she never loses sight of her responsibilities, and remains determined to mold John into the leader humanity needs him to be.
- Lawrence Talbot, Universal Studios' The Wolf Man (1941), is depicted as this in his later appearances, once he resigns himself to never finding a cure and starts making the best of it by becoming The Atoner, siccing his monstrous side on other monsters. Given that he can't ever keep himself dead when he attempts suicide, becoming an Iron Woobie is really his only alternative.
- Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Though an Action Girl in both the comic book and the film, the film incarnation truly makes the transition to Iron Woobie and is a deciding factor in Scott's final victory against the Big Bad. In the comics, Knives instead sheds much of her woobie status by realizing that Scott is something of a Jerkass where relationships are concerned, and actively decides to move on for her own good.
- Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. In the first film, she's the sole survivor against a creature which killed her shipmates. In the second film, she gets demoted for destroying her ship in her attempt to destroy the creature, and in the extended cut, we learn her daughter grew up and died during her overextended time in cryo-sleep. When's she's called back by her company to investigate the colony on the planet from the first film, she finds another Iron Woobie in Rebecca "Newt" Jorden, the sole child survivor of the colony's infestation.
- Star Wars:
- Obi-Wan Kenobi. His master gets killed before his eyes while he is powerless to prevent it, he becomes a master long before he is ready, he winds up fighting in a war that goes against all he believes in, his Heterosexual Life-Partner turns to the Dark Side and massacres the only family Obi-Wan has, he's forced to fight said former friend to the death, he lives in exile for nineteen years and then is killed by the same old friend he couldn't bring himself to kill years before. And that's not even mentioning the Expanded Universe. But he'll never compromise his principles, retaining his status as The Paragon through all the hardship. At the most, he'll snark about things, and it takes a heck of a lot to get him to show any negative emotion.
- Leia, so so much. Biological mother dead in childbirth, and her twin brother taken away for decades. Tortured by her biological father after he'd massacred her ship's crew. Saw her homeworld blown up along with her foster parents by a smirking Imperial. Harried across much of the galaxy, with trusted Rebel allies dying all the while. Watched the guy she's falling for get frozen alive, not knowing if he'll live through it. Captured and dressed up like a sex slave by a revolting slug gangster. Found out her friend is her long-lost brother just in time to watch him go off and potentially get killed. Had to accept that her torturer was her biological dad. Gave birth to a son who turned to the Dark Side, causing her husband and brother to leave in grief and/or shame. Kicked out of politics when her status as Darth Vader's daughter got leaked to the public. Saw the star system where nearly all of her allies lived blown up. Force-felt her son murder her husband. Lost virtually every surviving ally to yet another harrying enemy force, while narrowly escaping dying in the vacuum of space. Finally gave up hope that her son could ever be redeemed. Force-felt a loved one's death again when her long-lost brother expired from exertion. How is this woman even sane?!
- Lorraine McFly, Marty's mother in the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future Part II. She's an alcoholic like in the very first timeline, and has been in an abusive marriage to Biff Tannen after he'd murdered George, staying with him only because he threatens to financially cut off herself and her children if she tries to leave. Thankfully, Marty fixes the timeline so that she doesn't suffer this fate.
- Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Tauriq Jackson has been harassed his whole life- Harold finds him in jail accused of robbery- but has learned a long time ago not to get riled up (and to be happy about his large penis). It pays off when he sues the department and has the racist cops thrown in the can.
- Shot Caller: Jacob sees his entire life destroyed in front of him after he gets sentenced to prison and falls deep into the criminal world to defend himself in the process, but he takes it like a man. Never once does he truly complain as he sacrifices himself for his family.
- Lucretia of The Adventure Zone: Balance definitely qualifies. Lost her home plane to an all consuming Eldritch Abomination, was chased through the multiverse by said abomination for an entire century, had to erase her dear friends' memories in a bid to protect them, treating Barry as an enemy and her captain as her ward, lost the majority of her youth and almost her life in Wonderland, and saw her friends return to danger without their memories of her... all for the Hunger to find them anyways.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- You have Commisar Yarrick, who is a simple old man... that has been involved in the defense of Armageddon from two Ork WAAAGH!s (read: global invasion). He has seen and sent thousands of men to their deaths, and he's been in charge of the war effort for a long time. He gets ambushed by Orks, and yet manages to stay alive and somehow make the Orks, who are all large aliens that live for the thrill of war afraid of him. He does all of this by himself. There is also a short story published by Black Library titled "Survivor" which is connected to his past.
- And then there's Kaldor Draigo. He's hated by a lot of players because of his lore - he's a member of the Grey Knights, who are already badass compared to the other badasses of the 40K universe. They face the greatest horrors of the Warp, fighting daemons and spawns of Chaos, which would normally leave a normal person insane. He gets the even shorter end of the stick - he gets sucked into the Warp itself, and he's mostly trapped in it. He, however, refuses to surrender; even if all the victories he manages to win inside the Warp are fleeting since the daemons just reform elsewhere, he keeps on fighting alone, walking the Warp.
- Adamant caste Alchemical Exalted. Their duty is to keep the Eight Nations safe without the Octet ever finding out they exist. They spend most of their time in the dark, alone except for a tide of horrible monsters. They wait, and they watch, but if they do break protocol and reveal themselves to a small group of mortals or an assembly of Alchemicals, thanks to their anima effect it's likely their contacts will never remember who they are. Yet most of them keep carrying the torch of Autochthon's will into the darkness and use it to burn gremlins for people who will never know what they go through.
- In Rocket Age the Iotes have this as their hat. Bombed back into the stone age in aeons past, the Iotes have degenerated from being beautiful and graceful creatures to hideous and disease ridden. Living on a irradiated rock with limited resources and constant warfare, they have been forced to have an amazing level of emotional resistance and tend to accept even the worst turns of events as a natural part of life.
- Horton the Elephant from Seussical. Everyone he knows thinks he's crazy for taking care of a speck of dust, he's been chased all over the jungle, he's left with Mayzie's egg for months and months and in the process is captured by hunters and sold to a circus, but he never once gives up. Never.
- Viola from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. After escaping from a shipwreck that her twin brother may have perished in, she takes a deep breath in lieu of mourning and dresses as a man to serve as the page of Duke Orsino. She goes on to fall in love with him and suffer in silence as he loudly pines over the woman he wants instead of her.
- Elphaba from Wicked, the theater version. Not only is she green-skinned and thus shunned, her father has always blamed her (and thus she blames herself) for her mother's death and sister's paraplegia. Then the Wizard, whom she looked up to and was sure would help stop the Animals from being silenced turns out to be the *cause* of it, and he not only disappoints her but calls for her death. Then her sister dies and she cannot even have the only thing that remains of her, Nessa's magical slippers. Finally, just after reconciling with her best friend, she will never see her because she either dies or fakes her death. On the upside, if you assume she lives, she did finally get to be with her lover, Fiyero.
- Poor Simon Blackquill in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Dual Destinies. The series has no end of woobies, but Simon is definitely of the iron variety. He apparently walked in on a very young Athena with her dead mother Metis, covered in blood, and saying she was taking her mom apart to fix her. Harrowing enough, but then Simon confesses to the killing of Athena's mother to protect the poor little girl from having her whole life even more broken, gets sentenced to death, serves 7 years of hard time for it (while Athena is working hard to become a lawyer and save him), and comes within a day of his execution before the entire mess is solved once and for all, thanks to Athena and her friends's efforts. Yet he still seems pretty normal, if a little surly and fond of dark humour...
- Ryuuguu Rena in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni evolves into this in several paths, to the point that in one of them, she laughs and mocks the Big Bad right before being shot to death.
- In Umineko: When They Cry, Battler Ushiromiya endures Trauma Conga Line after Trauma Conga Line. Will it stop him from trying to find the truth? No.
- Makoto Naegi in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The poor kid was literally Born Unlucky. He has the worst day ever before he receives an invitation to attend Hope's Peak Academy, which sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime...only to then be thrust into a killing game with 14 other students. The girl he has a crush on dies after attempting to frame him for murder, the other students almost get him wrongfully executed, and to top it all off, when he and the five survivors finally escape, the outside world is revealed to be a hellhole of despair. Yet in spite of it all, Makoto remains a forgiving Nice Guy, still believes the best in people, and encourages his friends not to lose hope. He's such a believer that Rousseau Was Right that when given the chance to kill the fanatical followers of the person who put him and his friends through hell, he instead decides to give them all a second chance through rehabilitation in the Neo World Program. It's no wonder he earns the title of Ultimate Hope.
- Shall We Date?: NinjaShadow has its Player Character, Saori Shishido. She's a Plucky Girl Action Survivor who not only loses her beloved brother at the start of the game, but must carry on with his mission on top of hiding her true self (and not just because of the Sweet Polly Oliver disguise she has to take on). And yet she's kind to a fault and never gives up on her goals.
- El Goonish Shive: Susan was introduced as warlike Straw Feminist, but turned out mostly harmless, except for those who deserved to taste a Hyperspace Mallet. Then we find out that not only this quirk has a Freudian Excuse, the same compulsive memory warps her whole life and doesn't let her to be happy. And she manages to set aside even this to help a friend. In the school uniforms plotline, She challenges the school administration over the new uniforms, which she finds sexist. The student body, who all HATE the uniforms, hate HER even more because she isn't challenging them enough. "Nothing that makes me happy ever lasts." Eventually, the uniforms are removed not by Susan's constant activism, but complaints from parents about laundry. Later a flashback shows us how, while on a class trip to France, she was attacked by an Aberration, recruited/tricked by Immortals to help Nanase hunt it down and kill it, and ended up killing it herself. Immediately afterward, her expression shifts from happy to jaded, and stays there for years.
- Nodwick has died 538 times, usually because his employers are too lazy to pick up a 10-foot pole. Many of these deaths have been slow and painful. He hardly complains, and when the forces of goodness offer to remove him from all this he turns them down (after seeing what this does to his companions or replacement). He still saves the world every other plotline.
- Punch, AKA Adam, a Frankenstein's Monster from Girl Genius, is stated in the shows about the Heterodyne Boys to be mute, because after all the shit 'n' abuse he goes through, "He's always with the dignity". The real reason is that he's a construct who wasn't well-made though Gilgamesh is shown to have given him the ability to speak after rebuilding him, and his wife, Judy/Lilith, has mismatched eyes for the same reason.
- Mecha Maid aka Marilyn Seong from Spinnerette has this in spades. She has, at most, three years to live thanks to ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease). She can barely speak without technological assistance and is only mobile in a wheelchair or her battlesuit. Yet she gets into the Mecha Maid suit and goes out to punch supervillains anyway. (Admittedly, part of this may be that the armour's systems allow her to actually walk.)
- O-Chul of The Order of the Stick is an example Made of Iron. Blasted through the air from the losing end of a brutal battle, captured and tortured by Team Evil, given half a chance to escape he takes the opportunity to strike out at Xykon and Redcloak, no matter how many times he's humiliatingly beaten down for the effort. O-Chul maintains his code of honor without complaint, and can even show consideration for others through the worst of his torments. His resilience and compassion throughout his imprisonment may also have laid the groundwork for a HeelFace Turn on the part of Xykon's most powerful minion (which could very well save the world at some crucial point down the line).
- PM was originally just a mail carrier, and was tasked with delivering a package to John. After a whole lot of things go wrong, she winds up appointed queen of the Exiles, only to see all of her friends/subjects murdered when Jack Noir comes out of nowhere, destroying what little they had managed to rebuild. He only didn't kill her because he didn't think she posed a threat. But then she finds the White Queen's Ring that WV had been carrying, and follows Jack to kick his ass as Prospitian Monarch. The look on Jack's face when he realizes how badly he underestimated her is glorious.
- Critical Miss strip "Full Metal Genesis" uses this trope as a Take That! contrast between Alphonse Elric and Shinji Ikari.
- Yuri Hasagashi, aka "Iron Violet The Shy Titan" is a very shy and insecure girl. Abusive Parents has been implied to be the source of this. Despite this past trauma (and other referenced moments of bullying), Yuri is a sweet, caring girl who uses the vast superhuman strength she developed to protect others instead of lashing out with them. It's a wonder how she would have turned out if not for the kindness and care of her loving best friend and caring father figure...
- Bubbles in Questionable Content is an unusually literal example: a retired combat droid, implied to be the only survivor of her human squad, who was censured by the other robots for getting involved in human conflict; an Extreme Doormat to a boss who cheerfully tells her that humans will never accept her; and a shut-in with No Social Skills who avoids being seen by humans. While she's usually quite stoic about it, when she's rattled, it shows.
- Gino Gambino, especially in Gaia Online's earlier storylines. Subjected to malnutrition, immoral experimentation, fatherly disapproval, vampire kidnappings, Easy Amnesia, and yet when his dad's been sniped off the top of a skyscraper, Gino jumps after him, because he cares about him that damn much. Sadly this has faded in some of the more recent storylines, where he's more of a whiny Butt-Monkey.
- Chiaroscuro Themyst from Sinai Muck is a cute mongoose character who got trapped in another world, has to deal with a constant buzzing noise in his head, originally speaks in broken English and gets mistreated because he's often mistaken as a kavi yet he seems to function rather well. He crosses the line from Iron Woobie to pure Woobie in this log though.
- Ruby Rose by the end of RWBY's third volume: thanks to the actions of Cinder Fall, Beacon Academy is destroyed, the headmaster who put her there is MIA, she watched the death of two of her dearest friends - Penny and Pyrrha - and was unable to save them, had her Cool Big Sis Yang mauled and driven into a Heroic BSoD, Blake disappeared for places unknown without saying goodbye or saying why, Weiss was dragged back to Atlas and she's come to find out that she's a special breed of person, one who lives for battle and has special powers. Despite all of this, Ruby ended up picking herself back up and allied with the remains of Team JNPR to find Cinder Fall and pay her back for the harm she caused, her desire to be The Hero never wavering.
- Katy Towell's Childrin R Skary has a few examples, most notably the titular Ida from "Ida's Luck", who is tormented and finally almost killed but who still manages to muster the energy to fend off monsters. The protagonist of "The Mockingbird Song" also fits this trope by the end.
- Camp Camp: David is always beaten up, mauled, insulted, and humiliated by everyone and everything at Camp Campbell. Yet even with all the abuse he takes in life, he always stays positive and cares about making sure everyone at camp at least has fun.
- The titular Samurai Jack went through hell in his quest to return to his native time, and never even achieved his final goal. 50 years later and despite a significant uptick in cynicism and ennui, Jack is still surviving. He almost dies several times and is almost Driven to Suicide, but he keeps going out of sheer stubbornness and finally makes it back to the past to kill Aku once and for all.
- Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy. It is revealed in the movie that he was only pretending to be a jerk as a desperate cry for friendship after years of abuse from his older brother. It is especially hard to stomach considering all the times Eddy is beaten, humiliated and punished throughout the series.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Prince Zuko is one. All his childhood he's been shunned and treated horribly by his own father and his sister for not being a prodigy in firebending. His mother who loves him left one night for mysterious reasons. When Zuko was 13, his father challenged him to a cruel duel because "he shamed his father" by speaking up in a war meeting. When Zuko refused to fight, his father burned his face in public, banished him and sent him to hunt the Avatar who has been gone for a hundred years to regain his honor. Then he lost his men, his small ship, and all his possessions and became a wanted fugitive of the Fire Nation along with his uncle. He experienced hunger and watched his uncle beg for money and finally he was forced to do dishonorable things such as stealing to survive. When he was welcomed back to the Fire Nation he realized he wasn't happy being on the bad side so he betrayed his family, left his girlfriend and sacrificed his status as a prince to help the Avatar. Summed up as this way: "I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."
- Aang also qualifies: he had his entire culture wiped out, slept through a war which has hurt millions which he could have done something about, and has found that of everyone he ever knew and loved, only one boyhood friend and his beloved pet have survived. Despite this, he never breaks.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Asami Sato. It's just sad to watch her. To sum it up, and most of this happens within a few weeks time, her mother was killed by a Firebender when she was six, she discovered her father was an Equalist after spending a whole day defending him, has to turn on her father because she wanted to do the right thing and has to leave the comfortable life she has always known, she finds out that Korra has a crush on her boyfriend and he might reciprocate, she gets arrested because of her father, then has to see her boyfriend go crazy trying to find Korra and neglect her, and when she chooses to confront Mako, since he's horribly Not Good with People he reacts badly and things go worse. And yet she refuses to break for a long time, until The Sting" when Future Industries goes bankrupt after a robbery. She also witnesses the near death of Korra, her close friend, and for three years, was the only one to know how much Korra was suffering while recovering far away from her, since Korra only wrote letters to her. During the final fight with Kuvira, she watches her father perform a Heroic Sacrifice for her. And her company is destroyed in that fight again. And then, she does her best to bring herself back together.
- Korra herself, especially by Book 4. She's been cut off from the avatar cycle, poisoned, nearly paralyzed due to severe injuries (and spends two years in a wheelchair, relearning how to walk), and nearly killed. The very skill she enjoyed using the most, fighting, deteriorated to the point that even after somewhat physically recovering, can't even stop a common thief. But with years spent hard at work recovering (and help from loved ones, previous friends of the last Avatar, and the very person who caused her that trauma), she becomes the incredibly powerful Avatar she used to be, and saves Republic City from Kuvira's Fantastic Nuke by relating to her pain and fear.
- The Huckleberry Hound Show: Huckleberry Hound spends the majority of his appearances playing Extreme Doormat and taking slapstick abuse from the universe around him, however his mellow, easy going nature rarely fades, even when he's indented into a nearby wall.
- Batman himself in Batman: The Brave and the Bold's Lighter and Softer Animated Adaptation of Emperor Joker. He is tackled by The Joker, and it goes From Bad to Worse when Bat-Mite accidentally gives the Joker his powers, turning him into a God-Emperor who uses them to twist the world in his own way. From that time on, the Dark Knight is forced into a Death Montage as he gets killed and then brought back repeatedly, with poor powerless Bat-Mite being Forced to Watch the carnage. It is not until he is revived from the last Death Trap of the electric chair that he uses Reverse Psychology to beg the Joker not to take away his sanity. And through it all, he defends himself and his own mind from the Joker, telling him that they both need each other to survive. The Dark Knight truly needs a hug after all that.
- Castlevania (2017): Alucard, born Adrian Tepes, is Dracula and Lisa's son. In the first episode alone, with everything seemingly going well for his family after a happy childhood, the Church ransacks his mother Lisa's house and condemns her as a "witch" for being a practiced medic. Adrian's mother is burned alive and his father snaps, his one tether to humanity snapped. Adrian pleaded with Dracula but was tossed aside and horribly wounded, forced to go into hiding as his father rose up an army to destroy all humanity. Flash-forward to the present day and Alucard is awakened by Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades. After a battle with Trevor, and eventually, with Dracula's army on the rise, Alucard swears to destroy his own father, remaining stalwart and unflappable through the majority of the second season but with hints of pure misery he holds back like when Sypha talks to him in the Belmont library, described by Sypha as a "cold spot" sucking out all joy in his presence. In the end, Alucard is the one to stop his own father, witnessing Dracula break down before him when their pitched fight takes them into Alucard's own childhood room, using a board from his old bed to stake him before Trevor finishes the job. At the end of it all, Alucard collapses into tears.