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Born Unlucky

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Aunt Wu: Your future is full of struggle and anguish. Most of it self-inflicted.
Sokka: But you didn't even read my palms or anything...
Aunt Wu: I don't need to. It's written all over your face.

Some people have all the lucklucky they aren't this guy.

When you're Born Unlucky, it's like the world is out to get you. You, personally. Lucky pennies crumble in your hands; rabbits' feet run away in terror. Black cats won't cross your path, and mirrors shatter preemptively when you walk into the room. When you walk outside, it starts raining; when you walk inside, your house collapses. The only time you attract good luck is as a set up for even worse luck: You find a winning lottery ticket, but the wind picks up and blows it out of your hands... and into your rival's. You are really unlucky— so mind-bogglingly unlucky it defies all chance. However, you will never die before your time — because the universe would like to torture you some more.

Look for terms like "cursed" or "born under a bad sign", although they aren't required— just so long as we know Lady Luck (or Fate, or the world, or God) doesn't like them very much. At all.

There may be significant overlap with Cosmic Plaything, Butt-Monkey, and The Chew Toy, but the key about being Born Unlucky is that it really IS "luck" that is bringing them down. A Butt Monkey can be a Butt Monkey because other characters tease him, but someone suffering this trope is always tormented by plum bad luck. Also, this can be Played for Drama. In games, being Born Unlucky may be represented by a Luck Manipulation Mechanic in which players are forced to roll dice multiple times, and must accept the lowest result.

In games, The Hero can also be cast as this to extend game length. That guy you traveled halfway across the world to get the MacGuffin from? He's dead. But you can make it yourself using his notes! Which are spread across the enemy's base. But once you collect them, you're all set! To travel back across the world to gather material to build it. But they're all in one small area! Which is swarming with even more bad guys.

Some folks who are Born Unlucky may also be The Jinx. The difference between these two is who the bad luck affects— someone who's Born Unlucky will slip on a banana peel, but a Jinx will cause everyone else in the room to slip on banana peels. Heaven help the former if he ever meets the latter. (Or, well, no— it probably won't.)

Contrast Born Lucky and Unluckily Lucky. Compare The Klutz, The Jinx. Will likely climax in a Broken Win/Loss Streak for the hero. See also Cosmic Plaything (destiny has fun messing with them), Butt-Monkey (the butt of everyone's jokes), The Chew Toy (someone whose constant pain is intended to amuse), or the Weirdness Magnet (when weird things always seem to happen to someone in particular). If the bad luck is meant to be funny, it's because of Comedic Sociopathy.

Examples (if possible, elaborate on how their bad luck works):

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Keiichi Morisoto from Ah! My Goddess, literally born under the Star of Misfortune. His luck is so bad that even having a goddess move in just alters the scale at which it hits him. (Example: he makes a wish that said goddess stay with him for good, but he lives in a men-only dorm... so he gets thrown out.)
  • Asebi Inoue from Ben-To, who apparently is always sick, is constantly falling from high places and it tends to affect everyone around her. She gets the Nom de Guerre Reaper despite the fact that she never participates in any of the battles.
  • Berserk: Guts was born from the corpse of a woman hanged from a tree. Since that moment, life has been anything but kind to him. Thankfully, he has the strength and raw determination to keep going anyway.
  • By the Grace of the Gods: Ryouma in his Earth life, pre-reincarnation. In the books, it's mentioned that his colleagues had a in-house Running Gag about it - to the point where they semi-seriously wondered if he'd been cursed. Among other things, Tabachi (the co-worker who was the closest thing he had to a friend) was warned "Don't ever get on a plane with Takebayashi!". On a good day, the plane would be cancelled or delayed; on a bad? Ryouma was on five planes in two years that needed to make emergency landings!
  • Touma from A Certain Magical Index is a character with a supernatural ability to negate all other magical or psychic power or influence (i.e. Anti-Magic). It's speculated that this is also the reason that he's cursed with bad luck — this being a magical universe, it also cancels out his "good fate". He encounters more trouble than the other protagonists combined and is the Unwitting Pawn to too many people to count.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge from Code Geass. Not only is his life laden with misfortune, but chances are, even when something goes right, there's a dark lining.
  • Miranda from D.Gray-Man, who was known in her hometown for this.
  • In Endride, Eljuia gets called the "unluckiest guy you'll ever meet," although in-universe there is some glass half full debate as to whether he isn't really Born Lucky considering that despite his danger magnetism, nothing's yet killed him.
  • Momiji from Good Luck Girl!, by virtue of being the literal goddess of misfortune. She's learned to take it in stride. Unfortunately for her, she is forced to keep an eye on Ichigo, the luckiest person on Earth, so lucky in fact that she threatens to upend reality's karmic structure.
  • Hayate of Hayate the Combat Butler, he was given his name to be able to escape debt collectors. Since he's the male lead in a harem manga though, it's mostly averted, and he just thinks it applies.
    • It's still played straight on occasion however. Just often enough to remind us it's there.
    • This is much more significant in the original manga however; aside from having the misfortune of being born to his parents, he also had to work from the age of eight to support said deadbeat parents. He also has the borderline-curse of losing any money given to him (losing it to circumstance or spending it on others out of kindness) such that his friends call him the God of Poverty. Most of the plots in the manga can basically be summed up as "Hayate is sent out on a simple errand. Hilarity Ensues as the universe hates him."
    • In a specific example of just how unlucky he is: Wataru and Saki wager Wataru's living arrangements against Wataru's mother. Realizing they cannot beat her in a game of skill, Wataru and Saki settle for Roulette, and Wataru calls Hayate and asks him what color he would bet everything in a game of Roulette on, then tells Saki to bet on the other color. Saki wins.
  • Jewelpet Happiness: Chiari has chronic bad luck, so she's used to falling in a few pits and tripping on random objects several times a day. She even has an app that tells her the level of luck she can expect for the day; when it tells her she'll have good luck, it just means she'll fall in less pits than usual. She's very optimistic nonetheless.
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Oingo is a flawless shapeshifter and a man of many talents (necessary to convincingly impersonate people). Unfortunately for him, any time he's assigned to assassinate someone he's constantly put into situations in which his shapeshifting won't help, such as being forced to swallow lit cigarettes, attempting to poison someone's drink and finding out it's an unopened can of cola, or the act that ultimately convinces him to retire from assassination: encountering his own concealed bomb and accidentally setting it off.
  • Kumagawa of Medaka Box. His bad luck is so strong that he can rely on it to, for example, always give him the worst possible hand in a card game. Of course, when you can rely on something you can plan around it... As the series puts it, he's a man who has always lost at everything, which makes him stronger than anyone.
    • More than that, he's basically capable of impressive plans and slick fights... he just can't, technically, win. This usually results in things turning out for the best by and large, but whatever specific goal he had in mind being just beyond his reach.
    • After Kumagawa undergoes a Heel–Face Turn and becomes friends with the heroes, there comes a time when Medaka has to do something that could very well result in her death. When they say their goodbyes, Kumagawa bets that she'll be back in time for graduation. After being missing and presumed dead for months, Medaka returns in the middle of Kumagawa's speech at graduation, which makes him burst into tears and sob "Finally, I won...".
  • My Hero Academia has another literal example in Izuku "Deku" Midoriya. Humans in this setting have an estimated 80% chance to be born with a Quirk (and note that this is averaged across the entire populace, with younger generations being more likely than older generations to have a Quirk). He's among the 20% that did not.
  • Tsunade from Naruto. Her luck is so bad that she's got the nickname "The Legendary Sucker" for never being able to win at gambling. When she does win, something worse usually happens to balance it out.
  • Ryouga Hibiki of Ranma ½ seems to be the universe's chew toy. There's a reason his strongest attack is an Angst Nuke.
  • In Rebuild World, Alpha tells Akira that he spent all the luck in his lifetime by meeting her. His troubled past as a slum orphan and track record of running into dangerous situations on routine assignments seem to corroborate this. Even when he specifically chooses missions and roles designed to run into the fewest and least dangerous enemies, he still manages to get hordes of monsters on his tail. He then becomes fixated on "earning [his] luck back" by performing good deeds while earning money after Sara and Elena save him and inadvertently give him a guilty conscience. This is the result of two specific factors. The first factor is that due to a byproduct of him being a Differently Powered Individual known as an Old World Connector, he unconsciously sends his emotions into other people telepathically, which inevitably results in him being taken advantage of in an environment as harsh as the slums. The second factor is that being one attracts monsters to him like a beacon.
  • Izumi from Shikimori's Not Just a Cutie. Not a chapter goes by without some sort of minor misfortune befalling himnote . Luckily, his girlfriend Shikimori is always there to help him out.
  • Takeo Inou of Takeo-chan Bukkairoku has to wear safety gear just walking to and from school just to protect herself from the increasingly improbable mishaps that can happen to and around her. The first chapter has the real estate agency setting up her dorm putting her in a house populated by youkai. Said house has a very pleasant garden that, if one takes a very precise route, can also be a path to the underworld. Upon being informed that Takeo went missing while in the garden, the youkai all realize this is almost certainly what happened to her and set off on a rescue mission.
  • Seina Yamada from Tenchi Muyo! GXP, who has luck so bad it is more or less successfully weaponized. Largely because his luck is so bad that it spreads to those around him.
  • Urusei Yatsura: The lot of poor Ataru Moroboshi is to deal with all of the crazy (but fortunately attractive) aliens of the galaxy, but that's what you'd expect from someone whose name means "hit by a falling star". He takes this trope to very literal extremes; in the very first chapter, and its Animated Adaptations, it's stated that he was born on Friday the 13th of April, in the middle of an earthquake, on Butsumetsu (the day Buddha died), considered the unluckiest day in the Japanese calendar.
  • Himawari from ×××HOLiC, whose bad luck crosses over into The Jinx and Doom Magnet.
  • Zombie Land Saga: When Sakura finally regains her memories, she recalls a lifetime of hopes and hard work being thwarted by misfortune. Unfortunately, the accident that caused her to regain her mortal memories caused her to forget the friendships and successes she had as a zombie. This leaves her spending most of the last two episodes of the season convinced she's nothing but a burden and a failure who'll just drag her band-mates down.

    Asian Animation 
  • Fruity Robo: If his status as the Butt-Monkey isn’t enough, Orangey is the only one in the Fruity Agents who is truly poor, useless and powerless despite his dream to become the number one swordsman, and he has to die almost every season.


    Comic Books 
  • Calamity James from The Beano has this as his gimmick. It's sufficiently bad to sabotage any attempt to make his luck better.
  • Donald Duck in the Disney Ducks Comic Universe. Several stories revolve around his practically supernatural levels of misfortune. He's often contrasted with his Born Lucky cousin, Gladstone Gander.
    • The perfect example would be Donald picking a three-leaf clover... in Gladstone's 100% shamrock garden.
    • This is made reference to (in hilarious Lampshade Hanging fashion, no less) when Magica DeSpell curses Scrooge McDuck with 'the Mother of all Hexes'. Scrooge at one point laments that his mystically-enforced casualties wouldn't even happened to Donald (and that's really saying something!).
    • Donald is so unlucky that he cannot even capitalize on it (winning the "Unluckiest Man in the World"-contest, working as a Butt-Monkey for hire). In both cases his luck completely turned around and he was exceedingly lucky—at least until his grumpy customers/spectators were out of eyesight. He had better success in another comic where he gave rich people expensive guided tours of his daily life, showing off how consistently unlucky he is to them to make them feel better about themselves.
    • Lampshaded in the early Barks' comics, where Donald was constantly surrounded by the number thirteen (in his licence plate, his home address, etc. etc.). Of course, he might be bringing it on himself, as he sometimes claims that "13" is his lucky number and so surrounds himself with it on purpose.
    • Similarly, the Beagle Boys have the aptly named 1313.
  • Calamity King from Legion of Super-Heroes has terrible luck as his superpower. Literally nothing goes right for him and he's a constant danger to himself as a result. Needless to say, the Legion steadfastly refuses to let him join the team. Worse, his power is heavily implied to be contagious; Star Boy had extended contact with him and ended up getting expelled from the team, while the Legion's dissolution during the Five Year Gap was preceded by them accepting Calamity King during a period of extreme desperation.
  • Joe Btfsplk from Li'l Abner. Among other things, typically had a little thunderstorm right over his head.
  • The Punisher: Detective Soap. By the end, he gets desperate enough to attempt suicide by Frank.
  • Snake from the Australian newspaper comic Snake Tales.
  • Spider-Man: Poor Peter Parker, he tends to see himself as being very unlucky, so much so that he would complain that it's taken this long for him to be mentioned. He's even mumbled the page quote more than a few times. It should be noted his poor luck has been both played for laughs and done seriously. A good deal of the ol' Parker luck is self-inflicted due to his secret identity as Spider-Man, whose duties often interfere with his civilian life, and despite his bad luck he has a loving family, a circle of friends, and as a few supervillains and the Human Torch have enviously noted, a love-life entirely filled with gorgeous women.
  • The title character of Squee has this going on. He's also six.
    Squee: Hello, dog! You're a real cute little guy, aren't you? Yesss you are!
    Dog: Woof!
    Squee: I'd like to take you home, but that's probably not a good idea. See, things seem to go really bad around me, and I'd hate to see something like that happen to you. You'd probably explode or something...
    Dog: Woooof.
    Squee: I'm sorry, boy, but it's true! Everything seems like one big, stupid, mean, bitter cartoonist's joke!! And I don't think he even knows how to draw a dog. I mean, look at you! You look like some sort of weird lamb-baby-dog thing. Like he messed up and was too lazy to start over. No, you don't want to live in my world. Run... while you still can.
    [Dog gets run over by a truck]
  • Sonya Rosencrantz from Tank Vixens. Her designation is "Unit Jinx" and her function is to deflect bad luck from the rest of the unit by attracting it to herself.

    Comic Strips 
  • Brutus Thornapple aka The Born Loser. His family crest is a straitjacket, a tax form, a broken eyeglass, and a Poker hand of four spades and a heart.
  • Jon from Garfield is notable in that he may have topped Charlie Brown in sheer rotten luck.
  • Charlie Brown in Peanuts is an intersection of this and Determinator.

    Fan Works 
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Mittens has her share of bad luck in these stories and lampshades this in "The Mall" upon hearing the Cream cover of "Born Under a Bad Sign" by Albert King. Not surprising given that she is a black tuxedo cat.
  • In brilliant lights will cease to burn, Izuku wonders what he did wrong in his past life to be dragged all over the city as the Cardcaptor and be forced to compromise his morals on multiple occasions, including breaking into Japan's largest museum to seal Libra.
    Izuku: [right before breaking into a museum to seal Libra] Kero, have I done something horribly wrong? Am I the reincarnation of a serial killer?
    Kero: You – uh, no, I don’t think so. Are you okay?
    Izuku: I’m absolutely wonderful. It’s just – after a certain period of time, you have to ask yourself, what am I doing with my life? Was I born under an unlucky star? Have I wronged the gods?
    Kero: Izuku –
    Izuku: What sort of events lead up to pulling off a heist in the biggest museum in Japan, Kero? What sort of life am I living if I’m literally breaking into the nation’s most famous museum to steal – to steal a pair of scales? Aren’t you curious? I sure as hell am.
  • Jinx's bad luck powers are explored in Changing Luck. She can't even use computers much because they end up getting viruses.
  • Marinette suffers from this in the Dread String of Fate AU, mostly because fate itself has decided it doesn't care for her. Not in the same way it does Adrien. As Luka gains the ability to see the machinations of fate, it initially manifests as teal-colored wisps that crowd around her and cause her to trip, seemingly over nothing at all. And then he realizes that the Red String of Fate tying her to Adrien is quite literally wrapped around her neck...
  • In Embers (Vathara), Zuko is the embodiment of this. Actually a lot of a characters run into this problem in this story simply because of how the world is set up.
  • Whenever someone does something nice for Hiccup in Lost Boy, there are at least ten other people who would go out of their way to put him down verbally and physically.
  • In Not Your Saint George, Jaune Arc thinks he's this, with his spells always going haywire, bad things tending to happen to him and those around him, with one of the few good things being that none of it has managed to kill him...yet. He's actually half-right. Basically, he's been trying to cast magic like a normal magic user, when he's actually a bard, and as such needs a connection to the Well of Souls. The universe has basically been punishing him for (unknowingly) trying to create this connection by brute force every time he casts magic. His bad luck goes away after he bonds with Pyrrha, who, as a dragon, is born with a connection to the Well.
  • In Risk It All, Ren has always had poor luck. Between growing up in Gotham, getting shot by Black Mask, his repeated humiliating bouts of Not What It Looks Like tarnishing his reputation, it's hard to argue with him. But at the same time, he's thankful for having "all the luck in the world" for surviving two gunshot wounds to the head.
    Ren: I always had rotten luck. If anything could go wrong around me, then it would. That was just a fact of life — water was wet, fire was hot, and I had shit luck.
  • Starlight Over Detrot: The Scholar tells the story of Charlie Foxtrot, a pony so unlucky that "[his] name became synonymous for things going catastrophically wrong". He was the guard on-duty at the weather factory that Rainbow Dash wrecked in "Tanks for the Memories", and he was one of the guards present when the Smooze crashed the Grand Galloping Gala. During the Crusades, he helped the war effort by letting himself get captured by the dragons, so his misfortune would affect them. It worked.
  • In Ultimate Spider-Woman, Mary Jane Watson really gets burned by this trope. Growing up in a broken home, having her grades end up in the toilet from being a Triple Shifter, getting in trouble with her boss at the coffee shop and eventually getting fired for constantly showing up late, being sexually harassed by the fashion designer who hired her as a model, losing acting roles she's dreamed of all her life, attracting a psychotic Stalker with a Crush who became a supervillain just to attract her notice, suffering from Perpetual Poverty because of her having to juggle her acting and modelling careers with her school studies and her fighting crime as Spider-Woman, being subjected to a public hate campaign by a relative of one of the victims of one of her supervillain enemies, driving herself crazy with guilt over not being able to keep everything going, being disliked or outright hated by her boyfriend's parents, and eventually nearly suffering a nervous breakdown when everything finally comes crashing down at once.
    • The worst example of how utterly bad Mary Jane's luck can get is the fact that, by pure coincidence, she ended up being the superheroine who Jack O' Lantern fixated on as his Arch-Enemy.
  • Vow of Nudity: Spectra from the Curse of Nudity series has cosmically bad luck that affects almost every facet of her life. First she's born in jail on the day her (changeling) parents are executed for a failed bank robbery that left two guards dead, then the magistrate forces her to wear a cursed necklace that causes any other clothing to burst into flames so that she can't hide her changeling powers and succumb to a similar life of crime. Since her forced nudity makes it impossible to get a regular job, she winds up as a circus performer and a prostitute. She repeatedly tries to turn her luck around after a mysterious one-night stand attaches a crystal to her necklace that grants her spellcasting abilities, but her attempts to learn magic largely seem to blow up in her face and serve only to drop her into dangerous and humiliating situations over and over.
  • Courier Six from the "Fallout: New Vegas" and "RWBY" crossover "Dust In The Wind". It'd be easier to list the times his luck holds out than doesn't.

    Films — Animation 
  • Luck (2022) has Sam Greenfield. She's had bad luck her entire life, and it's kept her from getting adopted so she aged out of foster care. Her bad luck also causes her to lose things, face constant obstacles, and even makes her clumsy.
  • The Spanish animated film The Missing Lynx has a Born Unlucky lynx named Felix as its main character. He exploits his bad luck at the end when he faces his human antagonist in a room full of traps, by launching himself onto his enemy's body and holding on, so the antagonist gets injured by all the traps instead.
  • In The Ugly Duckling, the main character Augustus feels that he was born unlucky and he blames himself for many of the bad things that happen to him throughout the movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The French movie La Chevre (English title: "Knock on Wood"). A rich businessman's daughter goes missing. Since the girl is known to be extremely accident-prone, one of his advisers comes up with a crazy plan: send a person just as unlucky after her and maybe he'll attract the same trouble and so lead them to her. The characters go through a number of crazy adventures and coincidences that indeed leads them to the girl in the end. (A memorable scene is the businessman testing the hero after they first meet — even in a room full of chairs he will always sit on the chair that is broken.) Remade in 1991 as Pure Luck starring Danny Glover and Martin Short.
  • The main character of the film The Cooler seems to be this way. Simply standing in a casino causes everyone to start losing. It's cured when he gets a girlfriend, though.
  • Detour: If Al Roberts' story is true (and that is not a given), then he must be the unluckiest son-of-a-bitch in the world: having been the only person present at an accidental death that looked like a murder, then blackmailed by the one person who could know he was not the dead man, and finally accidentally causing the death of the blackmailer.
  • The main character of The Double, Simon, is also the film's chew toy in terms of luck. Not only are the majority of characters rude to him for no reason, but even the machines seem to hate him. For example, when the elevator breaks on him for the nth time, he kicks it lightly out of frustration. This immediately sets off an alarm and gets him in a load of trouble. When his double James later does the exact same thing, the elevator starts working.
  • Ugo Fantozzi from the Fantozzi films may be the Trope Codifier in Italy. It's a Black Comedy long-running movie series about a hapless and submissive White Collar Worker whose entire life is a big Humiliation Conga and his bad luck is exaggerated to cartoonish and unbelievable levels. The character is so iconic in Italy that, even in this site, the Italian counterpart of The Chew Toy is called Il Fantozzi.
  • In Harpoon, the aptly-named Jonah has had a lifetime of bad fortune. He saves up a ton of money so his parents can have a trip of a lifetime, only for them to die on the trip, leaving him with little inheritance due to their debts, and since their house is repossessed, he's effectively homeless; Richard then knocks their ashes over. Things don't get much better for him after he gets onto the boat.
  • Just My Luck is about a girl who was Born Lucky but ends up trading luck with a guy who was Born Unlucky after they kiss.
  • Louis from Kangaroo Jack. Even his "lucky" shirt is stolen by a kangaroo. At the end of the movie, the shirt is considered to have actually been lucky for getting them out of trouble, but this is arguable, as it may have been Charlie's presence and actions which ultimately saved all of them.
  • The Hong Kong rom-com My Lucky Star has the protagonist, Kitty Yip, being born with a natural streak of bad luck, with her Establishing Character Moment being waking up late for work, developing allergies with her toothpaste while brushing her teeth, having her toilet's tap clogged in the middle of gargling, falling down a flgiht of stairs upon leaving her apartment and hitting her head on the way down, and getting robbed while taking a cab. She eventually consults a Feng-Shui expert who expertises on "turning the unlucky lucky" (played by Tony Leung Chiu-wai) to help turn her life around, and of course they fall in love - with a bunch of random, wacky hijinks occuring along the way.
    Kitty: [upon realizing she's been robbed] What the hell? This' the seventh time this month!
  • The Spanish thriller Intacto plays with luck-related tropes, and a variation of Born Unlucky sets the plot in motion. The film posits that certain people are Born Lucky. Samuel Berg (Max von Sydow) not only has this gift in spades, but also has the ability to take it away from others who have it. He does this to his employee and protegee Federico, leaving him not unlucky, but no more immune to bad luck than anyone else.
  • Up the Chastity Belt: The marketplace scene features a peddler selling lucky charms who suffers an unending Trauma Conga Line of bad luck that almost cripples him.

  • In the Bridge in the Menagerie series, this (and regular, voluminous complaints about bad luck) is the defining trait of Karapet, the Free Armenian, whose family was supposedly cursed by a witch centuries ago. His play style is in reaction to this luck — Karapet expects that his suits won't split, that all of his finesses will be offside, and that his opponents will find the perfect lead against him by accident or design. However, his worst luck is arguably the thing he complains least about — his most frequent partner is Too Clever by Half Papa the Greek.
  • Bruce Coville's Book of... Magic: Jana in The Wonderworm feels that she's this way, saying to herself that "You are badluck" whenever anything bad happens around her. Her grandmother thinks otherwise.
  • Turin of The Children of Húrin has been cursed by Morgoth, due to the defiance of his father, to have anything that happens to him inevitably go poorly. That said, this is played with frequently, as while Turin does regularly suffer incredibly unlikely turns of fate, he also tends to create or exacerbate problems due to his temper and pride, as do the others in his family suffering the curse. For instance, being the cause of an Accidental Murder and then having a key exonerating witness not show up until you've already fled the country is unlucky... but Turin was also chasing the guy through the woods with a sword, and he didn't bother to stick around for the trial.
  • Sam Pickles from Tim Winton's Cloudstreet loses most of the fingers on his right hand at the very beginning of the novel. His luck from then on (especially at the races) doesn't ever get much better.
  • In the Discworld Rincewind is a favorite pawn of The Lady, the goddess of luck (though never explicitly named as such). Some people consider him extremely lucky for how many dangerous situations he's survived. He considers himself incredibly unlucky because of how many dangerous situations he's encountered. One of his deepest desires is boredom.
    • It's stated that that's why The Lady likes him so much: Whenever someone realizes they have The Lady's favor, they immediately lose it because it's not fun for her anymore. Rincewind is the luckiest person alive, but since he's lucky in the sense that he's survived through some pretty awful stuff, he assumes he's unlucky because he keeps getting into the situations to begin with. Of course, he gets into the events in the first place because Fate hates him.
  • John Dortmunder, the spectacularly unlucky criminal protagonist of a series of novels by Donald E. Westlake. Dortmunder has an uncanny ability to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by having the most unlikely things go wrong. He actually feels uneasy if everything is going too well on a job.
  • Lytol in the Dragonriders of Pern novels was like this for a while. He was a dragonrider, and his dragon died. He left the Weyr to become a weaver, raised a family, and lost his wife and daughters when Fax took over the Hold. Only after becoming Warder of Ruatha after Fax's death did his life stop being an ongoing disaster.
  • Earth's Children: Poor young Rydag gets some seriously bad luck even before he's born, which is Played for Drama. His biological mother died in childbirth and it's hinted his father may have died before that, he spends most of his life being shunned or mocked and called an abomination for being a Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon hybrid, him being part-Neanderthal means he struggles to communicate verbally and so often gets overlooked and he suffers from a congenital heart condition that eventually kills him. Despite this he was able to find some happiness in his short life and he is loved by his adoptive family, but he serves as a testament to how harsh life can be some people in the Ice Age through no fault of their own. Part of him wished he'd been taken in by a Neanderthal clan rather than a Cro-Magnon tribe, as his life may have been more bearable as he would just be considered sickly by them rather than a freak of nature, and Ayla wonders if he might've been more accepted.
  • Erast Fandorin is Born Lucky, but it has been established that luck alternates every generation in his family: both his father and his son were Born Unlucky (while his grandson Nicholas was extremely lucky again). The unlucky Fandorins, however, don't get mentioned much.
  • The Central Theme of Five Nights at Freddy's: Fazbear Frights #8: Gumdrop Angel. Each character suffers from a string of bad luck, and their frustration over it ultimately leads to their untimely demise.
    • Angel was abandoned by her father at a young age and ignored by her Gold Digger mother all her life. In her late teens, her mom remarries a wealthy but Wicked Stepfather who treats her like something to be discarded. While Angel is never given anything she wants, not even the money to go to the college of her choice, her younger stepsister Ophelia is spoiled rotten, given a lavish birthday party at Freddy’s Pizzeria, plus a horse and a pony along with years of riding lessons. When Angel finds out she’s been denied student loans because of her stepdad’s wealth, and he still refuses to pay for her to go to her dream school, she snaps and steals and eats a special gummy birthday treat given to Ophelia out of revenge. However, the gummy turns her into a candy statue that is devoured by children at another Freddy’s birthday party.
    • Sergio has just gotten a new job at his firm, but it is the work of ten people, and he becomes stressed out and overworked. His neighbors are noisy and pesky and loud. He doesn’t really love his girlfriend as much as he wants, and instead fantasizes on his high school crush. He buys a toy called Lucky Boy that gives him life advice. He spends his lottery winnings on frivolous things, quits his job, and gets a new girlfriend. He ends up broke and alone. He tries to win over his old high school crush at the class reunion, but again takes Lucky Boy’s advice and mutilates his face to the toy’s instructions.
    • Hudson is the worst of them all. His dad was Driven to Suicide when he was a kid, his stepdad physically abused him, he was bullied all through his young life, he flunked out of high school, his goal of joining the Navy fell through when he failed the physical, and people think he is the arsonist who set his house on fire, killing his mom and stepdad. He currently works at Fazebear’s Fright as a security guard. He investigates the animatronics, only to be hunted down by the demonic creatures when they come to life, and ends up cremated alive in the oven.
  • Stanley Yelnats, the main character in Holes, is walking home from school one day (late, because he was fishing his books out of the toilet, courtesy of his bullies), when, as he passes under a freeway overpass, a pair of shoes hits him on the head. But wait — these shoes are just the thing Stanley's father needs for his scientific experiment! Stanley starts running home — but the cops pull up alongside him and ask him to stop. Turns out, those very shoes belong to Stanley's favorite baseball player. They were about to be auctioned off for charity, but they were stolen fifteen minutes ago. Stanley is put on trial for the theft, can't prove that he didn't steal the shoes, and is sent to Camp Green Lake — all for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. His whole family line is cursed, matter of fact, because of his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." We later get that ancestor's side of the story. At the end of the book, he ends up breaking the curse and recovers a fortune his great grandfather had previously lost due to the curse and gets proven innocent of the crime he was accused of, and on the same day the curse was broken, his father finally stumbles onto an invention that makes his family even more money though a lucky accident.
  • Dave Farkus, a petty criminal and general lowlife, from the Joe Pickett series of novels. Farkus has an uncanny ability to end up in the middle dangerous situations, usually through no fault of his own. In Breaking Point, Joe tells Farkus that he is the only man he knows who would almost get killed by a falling deer (It Makes Sense in Context).
  • Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure: No matter how hard Jude strives to achieve things in his life, all his efforts are doomed. His dream is to study and be a scholar, trying to be a family man with his wife, trying to live with the love of his life and children, helping workers' community: none of this works out, even though he's an intelligent and capable man. He must be cursed or something, but his wide-eyed idealism sure does not help. Poor guy.
  • Michael from the Knight and Rogue Series. Just about anything than can go wrong for him will.
  • Bossuet/Lesgle from Les Misérables.
  • In Nevermoor, cursed children are said to bring misfortune and doom to both themselves and everyone around them. The main character Morrigan is no exception, and her first scene has her being forced to write letters of apology to people in her hometown who blame her for things going wrong. She protests and points out that much of what happened was either her neighbors' own faults, or just plain old bad luck that could've happened to anybody. The end of the first book reveals that she's right; the curse is not and was never real. The whole "born unlucky" thing is a load of crap — people just don't want to accept blame for their problems, and the "cursed" children made for convenient scapegoats.
  • Tootles from Peter Pan.
    ...not the least brave but the most unfortunate of all that gallant band. He had been in fewer adventures than any of them, because the big things constantly happened just when he had stepped round the corner; all would be quiet, he would take the opportunity of going off to gather a few sticks for firewood, and then when he returned the others would be sweeping up the blood. This ill-luck had given a gentle melancholy to his countenance, but instead of souring his nature had sweetened it, so that he was quite the humblest of the boys.
  • A European fairy tale told the story of a man whose attempts to become wealthy never worked, while his brother's always did. While traveling, the man found the castle where Destiny himself lived. Destiny explains to the man that he was born on an unlucky day and that will be his luck forever. When the man asked what he could do about it, Destiny told him to tell everyone that all his properties actually belonged to his niece, who was born on a lucky day. It worked- soon he was a prosperous man. But when at one point he couldn't help boasting about his riches, all of them disappeared instantly! (until he retracted and admitted they were his niece's.) Talk about Cosmic Plaything...
  • In Rebuild World, Alpha tells Akira that he spent all the luck in his lifetime by meeting her. His troubled past as a slum orphan and track record of running into dangerous situations on routine assignments seem to corroborate this. Even when he specifically chooses missions and roles designed to run into the fewest and least dangerous enemies, he still manages to get hordes of monsters on his tail. He then becomes fixated on "earning [his] luck back" by performing good deeds while earning money after Sara and Elena save him and inadvertently give him a guilty conscience.
  • Raymond Jardine from Gordon Korman's A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag.
  • The Baudelaire siblings of the aptly named A Series of Unfortunate Events suffer a Trauma Conga Line from the moment they find out their parents have perished in a house fire.
  • A minor character in the Xanth novel Yon Ill Wind lost the Superpower Lottery and ended up with "bad luck" as her magic talent. How unlucky is she? Well, when someone important goes looking for her, an accident causes him to encounter someone else instead. Having missed her chance at Main Character status, as well as the Plot Armor and guaranteed Happy Ending that comes with it, she's never mentioned again.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Community: Pierce, working his way back into sailing class with a rowboat on wheels, is an inspiration to Jeff, despairing over his poor pottery skills, with his life story:
    Pierce: Jeffrey, when I was born, I got my umbilical cord wrapped around my neck, both arms, and one of my ankles. Mom said that there came a point when the doctors stopped delivering me and just started laughing. I mean, if I ever let being bad at something stop me I wouldn't even be here! That thing some men call failure I call living! Breakfast! And I'm not leaving 'till I clean out the buffet. Now — how 'bout a shove?
    Jeff: [pushing Pierce's boat into the road] Good luck, Pierce!
    Pierce: Don't need it — never had it!
  • Poor Josh Nichols of Drake & Josh: He's an eternal Butt-Monkey who bears the brunt of all the trouble and physical pain his brother's Zany Schemes cause them. The one time his luck finally changes is when he "breaks up" with Drake, the good luck hog.
  • In Hee Haw the quote above was used in a skit which started out with a song. Then they go on to tell a sad story in poetic meter matching the song.
    Gloom, despair, and agony on me;
    Deep, dark depression, excessive misery;
    If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all;
    Gloom, despair and agony on me.
  • Kamen Rider Den-O: The protagonist Ryotaro Nogami is described by one of his friends as having Guinness-level bad luck, and it most certainly shows. The very first time we see him, he's on his bicycle and stuck up a tree, because he lost control of his bike and rode up a road sign that conveniently fell down just in time to act as a ramp. That pretty much sets the tone for his character, but this Running Gag gradually goes away as the series progresses. Ryotaro actually uses this in one episode, where he's dealing with a woman who's bitter because her relationship fell apart just short of her wedding. After witnessing his insanely bad luck first-hand (including him nearly getting killed by falling into traffic), she asks how he can possibly put up with it; Ryotaro brushes it off by saying that bad things happen to everyone, but that's no reason to just give up and she shouldn't let her own tragedy lead to her shutting out the world.
  • Married... with Children: The entire Bundy family, but Al gets the worst of it. The Bundy family is under the effect of a British witch's curse, but even breaking the curse doesn't end their bad luck streak. It's just that powerful.
  • The Middle: Sue Heck is so unlucky, she's the most unpopular person in school, she failed her driving test six times, a deer ran into her and broke her leg and overall, the entire world conspires against her. None of this, though deters her sage-like Pollyanna attitude, and she usually gets a good hand out of it all.
  • The Muppets: Given the series' sense of slapstick, every Muppet is bound to be a Cosmic Plaything at some point, but in particular, luck always has it out for Kermit when he attempts to ride a bicycle.
  • The title family in the short lived Dom Com The Pitts were if anything even more unlucky than their Married... with Children counterparts — at least none of the Bundys got mauled by werewolves, kidnapped by their own haunted car or end up with a two foot long pipe lodged in their heads after a boiler explosion.
  • Ned from Pushing Daisies is Blessed with Suck: he can bring the dead back to life with his touch, but at the cost of killing another nearby being, and if he touches the revived person again, they die permanently. Because of this clause, Ned's mother dies permanently, Chuck's father dies, and he can't touch Chuck once they ignite their Childhood Friend Romance after he revives her. Add to this Ned's abandonment issues from his Disappeared Dad and his All of the Other Reindeer experience at boarding school, and it's no wonder that Ned is The Eeyore of the series.
  • In Stargate SG-1, Sergeant Siler is the unluckiest man in Cheyenne Mountain. Something almost always happens to him. He's shot, hit, smacked, runs into things, is hurt by explosions, fried by electricity, gassed, and overheated. Even when he appears in a Stargate Atlantis episode, he's stunned.
  • Appears temporarily in Supernatural after Sam gets (and loses) a rabbit's foot, which grants people incredible luck while they possess it, and eventually terminal bad luck when they inevitably lose it. At one point while sitting doing nothing in a hotel room, the radiator caught fire. He managed to knock himself unconscious putting it out. He also lost his shoe. This is also used in the climax of the episode, when Dean grabs the foot and confronted by the armed Bela (who is also now Born Unlucky thanks to that). However, no matter how she aims, she can't hit Dean who's standing three feet in front of her. However, she can't help but hit Sam.

  • The protagonist of the song "Born Under a Bad Sign" of course.
    Born under a bad sign
    I been down since I begin to crawl
    If it wasn't for bad luck,
    I wouldn't have no luck at all.
  • The protagonist of Kinderen Voor Kinderen song "Onbewoond Eiland" (uninhabited island).

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Abu Dhabi", Martin Crieff demonstrates his luck by winning a coin toss for the first time in years, being allowed to Call Shotgun as a result and being ordered to switch seats with Douglas because Carolyn can't see to drive.

  • Karl Van Buren, a Survival of the Fittest v3 character, seems to have this problem, as he's notorious for having extremely bad luck. Some of the things noted in his backstory include, in no particular order, almost drowning, the plane he was on sucking in two people, an ax falling down and hurting people while he was reading about an ax murder, and a transvestite committing suicide and landing on his car, among other things. He doesn't last very long in-game, having had his neck snapped by Gabriel Theobaldt. He even gets posthumous bad luck, as Victor Kurchatov comes across his corpse and... you don't want to know.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Champions — Any character with 3 dice of Unluck.
  • The entire goblin race in Goblin Quest is inherently unlucky, to the extent of averaging out to a lifespan lasting about a week. The game plays this for slapstick comedy, with simple tasks proving to be potentially fatal for reasons that may or may not be in the goblins' control.
  • GURPS — Any character with the Unluckiness disadvantage.
    • Even worse for people with Cursed: "Any time the GM feels like hosing you, he can, and you have no complaint coming, because you are Cursed." One thread in the SJGames forums reveal that the disadvantage frightened players so much that it was never taken at character creation.
  • One splatbook for Werewolf: The Apocalypse attempted to introduce this with the "Jupiter Descending" flaw — an extra die would be rolled every time, with said die capable of subtracting a success from the roll. The problem is that it was only a one-in-ten chance of taking place, and was worth enough points to become a Minmaxer's Delight.
  • The Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game had the unlucky hindrance. Whenever a card check (in lieu of dice) would be made involving this character, another card would be drawn from the deck and the card that was worse for the unlucky player would be used. Yes, Spider-Man had this hindrance.
  • The Serenity RPG has this as the character trait "Things Don't Go Smooth". As a Minor Complication, once per session the GM can make you re-roll and take the lower of the two rolls. As a Major Complication, the GM can do this twice per session. Worth mentioning: Malcolm Reynolds' character sheet has the Major version.
  • The Green Ronin book Advanced Bestiary has this as a template, called "Fortune-Spurned" (the counterpoint to the Fortune-Blessed). They take small penalties on most rolls, need to roll twice to confirm criticals, and once per day, when they would normally automatically succeed a save, they instead automatically fail. Their only beneficial abilities are that a) their bad luck is literally contagious, meaning people within ten feet of them take similar penalties, and b) they can once-per-encounter trigger a Calamitous Mishap, meaning that something very bad (for instance, being struck by lightning or having the ground give way) happens to a person within five feet of them... and also them.
  • 'Sentinels of the Multiverse: Pete Riske, aka Setback, at least at first. The original story in the fictional comics the card game is based on had him as this, but a later in-universe Retcon established that his Psycho Ex-Girlfriend cursed him with a really weird relationship with luck, not knowing she could do that. As a result, he is dogged by at times slightly absurd misfortune 90% of the time — he has a lengthy career of dismissals from jobs, his superhero career is heavy on falling off things and getting hit by stray attacks, his apartment burned down because of a freak mix-up at a candle factory - but it's offset because whenever things are really bad he gets a sudden spike of really good luck.
  • The Maruk are the unluckiest people in all of Talislanta. Once prosperous, a series of mishaps led them into ruin, and now they mainly survive by selling ogront dung. The rest of the continent considers them cursed.
  • Warhammer: Clan Helhein has had a long streak of disaster and misfortune notable even among the overall decline of the dwarfs. They were originally a prosperous clan in Karaz-a-Karak until their leader got into a feud with the High King that ended in considerable bloodshed and Clan Helhein's exile. They settled in Ekrund next, helping the funding of the hold, and enjoyed wealth and stability until the hold fell to the orcs. The survivors headed to Karak Eight Peaks from there, just in time for the city's disastrous fall to the skaven. The survivors of that became wanderers, eventually making their way to the Mountains of Mourn, and are widely regarded by other Dwarfs as hounded by ill luck.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • the Afriel Strain Guardsmen were an attempt to produce superior fighters using DNA cloned from a number of the Imperium's heroes. Unfortunately, while they are superior fighters, they also seem to suffer from absolutely appalling bad luck; every regiment a member of the Afriel Strain has joined ended up being wiped out not long after.
    • The Twenty-First Founding was an attempt to produce Space Marine Chapters that had their gene-seed modified to fix some of the flaws in the original gene-seed. Unfortunately, while this was successful in some cases, the resulting chapters all seemed to suffer from some other, more significant flaw. In the case of the Lamenters (who used a modified version of the Blood Angels' gene-seed), they suffered from incredibly bad luck. They have been nearly wiped out on multiple occasions, picked the wrong side when a different Chapter led a rebellion, and while conducting a penitent crusade for that, sailed right into the path of a Hive Fleet. On top of that, their original intended modification was to remove Black Rage and Red Thirst, the signature afflictions of the Blood Angels. It turns out it didn't work.

    Video Games 
  • Advance Wars: Sonja often gets unlucky and does less damage than she should, as a trade-off for enhanced Fog of War vision. As enhanced vision is only situationally useful, and even then not very, she basically amounts to the worst character in the entire series.
  • Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night: To reference the harsh life Zangetsu has had to live, his luck stat is permanently locked at 1 while playing as him no matter how high you level him up. Not that he needs good luck.
  • Dragon Quest V: The Hero, who suffers Trauma Conga Line throughout the game (to wit: his mother gets kidnapped by the Big Bad shortly after his birth, his father gets burned to ashes, he is made a slave for ten years, his wife gets kidnapped by The Dragon and is turned to stone together him when he is about to rescue her...), is notable for having the worst Luck stat.
  • The Elder Scrolls: In the backstory, one story states that the ancient Falmer (Snow Elves) were visited by Sai, the God of Luck in the Iliac Bay region. He had the ability to bring supernaturally good luck to those around him, but not to himself. However, the Falmer treated him poorly and he refused to ever return to them. They probably could have used the luck, as their once mighty civilization crumbled when they were attacked by the ancient Nords. The survivors fled to their Dwemer cousins, but were enslaved and mutated by the Dwemer into the bestial goblin-like creatures seen in Skyrim.
  • Fallout: Harold, a recurring character, is practically the definition of this trope. He witnessed the world being destroyed by nuclear war when he was only five years old, and was then separated from his parents when he was placed into a vault inhabited exclusively by children. When the vault opened he went west and became a trader, but his caravans kept getting attacked by mutated monsters. To remedy this he traveled to the source of the mutants to put a stop to them, only to then get mutated himself when things went wrong. Harold can tell the player this story in Fallout, where he's found begging for spare change in the slums of the Hub. And that's only his appearance in the first game...
    • One of the more fun traits in Fallout 1 and 2 (and available in New Vegas with the right mods) was "Jinxed", which had the effect of making everyone this. Effectively, every time someone misses, it instead has a 50% chance of being a Critical Failure, meaning that guns jam or explode with every other shot. You can even combine this with having 10 Luck!
    • Then there's Dave in Fallout 2. If you talk to him he'll tell you every unlucky bad thing that's ever happened in his life. It would be tragic but it's also extremely funny.
  • In the Fire Emblem series:
    • Matthis in Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon has 0 base Luck in most of his appearances. His appearances in the story back this up; he's been forcibly conscripted by people trying to kidnap his sister on two separate unrelated occasions.
    • Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones:
      • Knoll is so unlucky that when rescued from the dungeons, he assumes that his execution date was moved up. His Luck Stat is appropriately low... It starts at zero.
      • A Running Gag is that Joshua will always lose any kind of coin toss he attempts. So much that he even loses rigged coin tosses. (To be fair, that one was against L'Arachel.)
    • Arthur from Fire Emblem Fates takes this to an extreme. Gameplay wise, he has the worst maximum Luck penalty and Luck growth out of any character, and his personal skill makes him and any nearby enemies more prone to taking critical hits. His supports mostly focus on all misfortune that befalls him (and those who hang around with him), though he somehow manages to take it all in stride and tries to make himself look heroically when facing off against it. Amusingly, many times when his misfortune affects others, they end up getting something very nice out of it. Then there is his son Percy who ends up being the polar opposite with no negatives.
    • Kaze, also from Fire Emblem Fates, is a downplayed example. In gameplay, his Luck growth of 20% is one of the lowest, tying with Nyx and Fuga, and beating only Reina (10%) and Arthur (5%). He also has a personal Luck modifier of -2, tying with Camilla for the second-lowest and only beating Arthur and a Corrin with Luck as their bane (-3 each). In story, Kaze was unable to prevent Corrin's kidnapping all those years ago, and he can additionally die on Birthright should he not obtain an A-support with Corrin.
    • Lysithea of Fire Emblem: Three Houses has a piddling Luck growth of 15%, which is unsurprising when you consider the harrowing tribulations she's already gone through despite her youth. Her title in the end cards is "Scholar of Misfortune".
  • In Genshin Impact, Bennett is just bad luck personified, from being born on Leap Day, getting frequently blown away by his own Pyro magic, to his own constellation translating into "Wheel of Disaster." His special dish, instead of a unique twist like everyone else's, is just the same food slightly overcooked (though it does still have slightly better effects than the original, somehow).
  • Lazlow of Grand Theft Auto. Lazlow is mainly just a Radio DJ/Show Host of the games, but has this reputation of becoming more and more unlikable with each game. While he thinks himself as a star and funny, life can be quick to assure him that the opposite is true. How he's remained...somewhat successful is never fully explained, but by the time Grand Theft Auto V rolls around, he does suffer a bit of an emotional breakdown on his show which gives us a bit of insight into how his life can be.
    Michelle Minx: I'm speaking for the show, dicktard! Chattersphere, hosted by me, Michelle Minx, with sidekick support work from you, until your contract runs out and you can be let go, Mr. Lazlow I-Don't-Have-A-Surname.
    Lazlow: Every week! You rub my face in it every goddamn week!
    Michelle Minx: Because every week, you act like I'm not here, and it's still one of your countless previous shows that didn't work out, and yet still allow you to fail upwards. Man you must have some amazing pictures of whichever executives you're blackmailing.
  • KanColle: The shipgirls have a Luck Stat dependent on their historical counterparts' careers; and with the large cast, there's a good few whose fortunes are less than ideal.
    • Mutsu is the gold standard for hilariously unlucky vessels. Her historical counterpart was nearly scrapped because of the Washington Naval Treaty, and keeping her (she had been funded partially by public subscription, so scrapping her was political suicide) required the Japanese to agree to let the United States and Britain each get two other warships. She then never saw real combat as she blew up in harbor from either an accident or sabotage from a disgruntled crewman.
    • The Fusous have rather low luck due to the constant string of issues both had and their participation in the Battle of Surigao Strait, where they ran smack in to a force of American battleships on shore bombardment duty and were swiftly seen off.
    • Musashi's luck is poor because despite her extreme size and strength, she was sunk without ever firing at a surface combatant.
    • Taiho is the Mutsu of aircraft carriers, as when she did see combat, she was sunk by a single torpedo. Which, as an armored carrier, she was made to shrug off.
    • For destroyers, there's Sagiri due to being the first Japanese ship sunk by an Allied submarine, Yamakaze and Tamanami due to being sunk with all hands, Makinami due to being crippled by torpedoes and sunk by gunfire, Takanami due to being sunk 3 months after completion, Suzunami for lasting 4 months, Hayanami making it 11 months before being sunk by a torpedo, Teruzuki for lasting 6 months before being sunk by PT boats of all things, Matsu for being sunk in a delaying action when US aircraft caught the convoy she was guarding, and Momo for only sailing for 6 months.
    • The Kriegsmarine destroyers have rather poor luck due to their multiple construction flaws and being sunk as a result of Unfriendly Fire (the Kriegsmarine and Luftwaffe failed to inform each other that they would be conducting operations in that area), but that's nothing compared to Graf Zeppelin, which was so unlucky it was never actually completed.
    • The Italians have Pola, due to how it was sunk in the Battle of Cape Matapan, Roma as the first large ship to be sunk by a guided bomb, and Aquila, another never-completed aircraft carrier.
    • The cruiser Chokai's miserable luck is because during the battle of Leyte Gulf, something caused her to explode and sink. The top theories are Unfriendly Fire or a hit from the escort carrier White Plains, which would make Chokai the only ship to ever be sunk by gunfire from a carrier. She was also one of the largest ships in the war to be lost with all hands, as the ship carrying her survivors was also later sunk, killing the remnants of Chokai's crew.
    • Most of the Mogami class have poor luck, though this isn't so much a reflection on their battle records as their construction; since they were the first light cruisers designed after the Washington Naval Treaty limited cruiser displacement, the designers tried to cram as much goodies as they could into as little displacement as possible, resulting in some severe flaws until the Japanese gave up, corrected the problems, and just started lying about their ships' displacement.
    • The US Navy has the cruiser Helena, though she doesn't have it quite as bad as the above. She was caught in Pearl Harbor and torpedoed by a Japanese aircraft that mistook her for a battleship, and later caused chaos in the Battle of Cape Esperance because her crew weren't familiar with her radar.
    • The Royal Navy has Ark Royal, their one unarmored aircraft carrier, which was sunk due to a cascade of coincidences that compounded on design flaws.
  • A common joke in MechWarrior Living Legends were to call members of the 12th Vegan Rangers some variation of "walking nuke", as they lost a substantial portion of their battles in Tournament Play through sheer poor luck; most commonly by one of their players Going Critical (20% chance upon death) and gibbing their lancemates, Game Breaking Bugs causing players to crash mid-combat, and general screwiness with their equipment (missiles arcing straight into walls, aircraft pilots getting Sudden Pilot Death Syndrome when landing to reload, etc.).
  • Persona
    • Yosuke Hanamura from Persona 4. He has the worse Luck Stat of all the playable characters and won't improve no matter how much he levels up. It shows: even before he's formally introduced, the first thing we see it's him crashing on his bike and getting stuck head first inside a trashcan. Then we find out that he's widely disliked among everyone for reasons beyond his control (he's the son of the manager of Junes, a mega store that drove every other small bussiness in Inaba bankrupt and is blamed for turning the place into a Dying Town). Then we have his possible Love Interest who is not only the first victim but also is revealed to have secretly hated him all along and was being forced to spend time with him at the behest of her family for reasons unknown. Take into account all of this happens within the first hour and things for him only get worse from here on.
    • Persona 5 has the protagonist. It's pretty unlucky to run afoul of a violent sexual predator who turns out to be influential and spiteful enough to get you arrested for assault, get you expelled from your high school, and pretty much ruin your life. It takes a special kind of bad luck to move to Tokyo and, before even a week has passed, run afoul of another violent sexual predator who is influential and spiteful enough to get you expelled again (which would mean a one-way trip to juvenile hall). That's not even getting into the part where you fall into the cognitive world and nearly get killed by the living manifestation of said second predator's dark side.
  • Captain Boochbeard from Pirate101 has Rincewind type luck. His plans are always thwarted but he always survives to try again.
  • Xiao Pai from Rune Factory 4 is a massive klutz who always finds new ways to screw up and land herself in trouble. Downplayed with her mother, Lin Fa, who similarly finds herself in sticky situations, but always manages to come out unscathed from them.
  • Kanbe Kuroda from Sengoku Basara is The Chew Toy par excellence. Not that he lets it stop him.
  • In The Sims 3, due to the Unlucky trait players can create characters that seem to go through life like Wile E. Coyote. Fortunately this at least makes them immune to death of anything other than old age.
  • Ashton from Star Ocean: The Second Story has the lowest base luck stat out of any of the characters and it never increases as a result of leveling up either, making items the only way to raise it. The first thing that happens to him in the story is having a two-headed dragon fuse with him in an aversion of Talking Is a Free Action, thanks to the party distracting him before he could finish it off. The dragons actually turn out to be quite nice (And useful in combat), but he wants to be rid of them regardless, and in line with his bad luck, he still hasn't found a way to non-lethally separate them from his body by the time of the sequel game that occurs a few years later.
  • Tales Series:
    • Early in Tales of Vesperia, Yuri sarcastically declares that he must be cursed after a string of misunderstandings, unwanted trouble, and bad luck. Which turns into a Running Gag and Lampshade Hanging over a common cliche. That said, he does seem to get into various troublesome situations...which, on the other hand, tend to pay off as his life's duty seems to be as a Spanner in the Works for horrible deeds and world destroying threats.
    • Eizen in Tales of Berseria is afflicted with the "Reaper's Curse", inflicting him with supernatural bad luck. His vessel is a coin he often flips, which turns up tails every single time. When Rokurou tries to help him cheat his luck with some Two Headed Coins, the first one is snatched up mid-toss by a crow. The second is eaten mid-toss by a hawk. The third one explodes. Somehow. They wisely give up after that.
  • In Xenoblade Chronicles 2, Zeke seems to have made an enemy of the environment around him, as he frequently suffers falls from cliffsides crumbling under his feet, gets caught in rockslides, and other such unfortunate incidents. Fittingly, his Luck Stat is the lowest of all the party's playable Drivers.
    Dromarch: From the incidents I've witnessed alone, he's already been chased by rolling rocks, fallen off cliffs... He even fell into the Cloud Sea once, as I recall.
    Pandoria: Haha, you ain't seen the half of it. When he's walking in the harbor, he's always getting bitten or smacked round the face by the Titan ships. Oh, this one time, he got caught in a blizzard, took shelter in a cave, and wound up surrounded by 100 Ignas! Ahaha! I could keep going for hours.
    Dromarch: Well, I don't quite know how to react. Frankly, I'm impressed you're both still alive.
    Brighid: Yes, congratulations on surviving. Or should I say, my condolences?

    Visual Novels 
  • Maggey Byrde from Ace Attorney has attested on more than one occasion that her life is nothing but disaster. She is accused of murder no less than three times and can't seem to hold down a job; she is called "Goddess of Misfortune" and "Lady Luckless" in-game. She's never even won or tied at a game of Tic-Tac-Toe! But despite this, she's a Determinator who keeps her head up, no matter how many times her circumstances try to beat her down.
  • Soseki Natsume from The Great Ace Attorney truly believes he was born unlucky due to being constantly judged as a shady Japanese man in Great Britain, which only gets worse when he is the defendant of a murder, the fact his lodgings are said to be haunted because someone died in there and became a vengeful spirit out to get others but was caused really from the lodger above him accidentally murdering the previous lodger through blowing excess gas through the stove in an effort to scare them away to search for a hidden treasure, and the fact he is immediately accused of attempted murder literally the next day after he was acquitted from the first murder. Ryunosuke even believes Natsume is truly born unlucky.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Nagito Komaeda from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a partial subversion in that his luck manifests as two extremes: disastrously bad luck for anyone around him followed by overwhelmingly good luck for him. A plane he and his family boarded was hijacked, but a meteor hit the plane, killing the hijacker and his parents. With the death of his parents, Komaeda inherited their fortune. He was kidnapped some time after that incident but saved by the police, and found a winning lottery ticket in the bag he was kept in. Later in his life, he won a lottery that would determine him a spot in Hope's Peak Academy, and eventually, the events of the actual game.
    • Protagonist of the fan-made Danganronpa Re:Birth Ayumu Fujimori has such horrible luck that it can spread to anyone nearby. It's so blatantly apparent, she (actually he) is outright given the title of "Ultimate Unlucky Student". The government even hired the Ultimate Hitman to assassinate him in order to put an end to the destruction his bad luck was causing.
  • Both Lancers in Fate/stay night and Fate/Zero have rank E luck (E being the poorest possible for a Servant to have), and both are extremely unlucky in their respective stories. Cu Chulainn is a Blood Knight saddled with a Dirty Coward of a master who denies him battles and leads him to suffer The Worf Effect, while Diarmud is a Tragic Hero whose Blessed with Suck ends up denying him everything he ever wanted from his participation in the Grail War.
    • As a matter of fact, the base luck stat of a Lancer-class Servant without a Heroic Spirit attached is E-ranked...however, given that pretty much all Servants are Heroic Spirits in the series, the stats are all over the place. Still, the luck stat of many Lancers tends to be E or D...but rarely ever is it over C.
    • Fate/Grand Order would eventually introduce E- luck in the person of Lakshmibai, who suffers from a similar unfortunate life on top of a full-blown divine aura of bad luck caused by Alakshmi the misfortune goddess. Her luck as a result went from bad to reality-warping: things sometimes break or malfunction because of her mere touch, painful incidents are actively drawn to her, and when she tries cooking, salt and sugar outright switch places when out of sight. Ironically, she's not a Lancer, but a Saber, who are usually on the lucky end.
  • The Fruit of Grisaia: Yuuji at least believes Michiru must be cursed or something, and considering how many times she ends up being the butt of jokes the universe seems to agree.
  • In the Tokimeki Memorial series, Kyoko Izumi from Pocket and Miyuki Kotobuki from 2 (the latter even having as a catchphrase: "Tsuitenai no ka na...", "I really have bad luck..."): if anything bad happens, you can be sure it'll happen to them. Of course, this being Tokimeki Memorial, it's always Played for Laughs.

    Web Animation 
  • Sakura Miko of hololive is frequently the victim of bad luck and general misfortune, in videogames, on-stream, and in real life, if her anecdotes are anything to go by. This is made all the more ironic by her love of gambling and the fact that sakura trees are meant to symbolize good luck.
  • Plan 3: The Chinese Food Curse causes those under its effects to have horrendous, potentially fatal bouts of bad luck unless the curse is lifted.
  • RWBY: Qrow mostly focuses on the bad luck his Misfortune Semblance brings to other people, but it affects him, too. When he puts his feet up on a table, it breaks; his presence bursts a trailer's tyre at Brunswick Farms; and when travelling through a Dust mine with Clover, he randomly slips on the ice and almost lands flat on his face (Clover catches him in time thanks to his own Good Luck Semblance).
  • Just about everybody in Happy Tree Friends is a pitiful victim, one way or another. That said, some characters definitely get the short end of the stick more than others. The likes of Splendid, Cro-Marmot, and Flippy rarely die or are ever seriously injured. To a lesser extent, Pop, The Mole, and Lumpy die slightly less often than most other characters. Meanwhile, the likes of Petunia, Sniffles, Lifty, Shifty, and Cub suffer more than their fair share of the series' most cringe-inducing, sadistic deaths.
  • As shown in multiple quotes JaidenAnimations has absolutely horrific luck. She's been accidentally locked out of her house, had an outbreak of hives that sent her to the hospital, got on the wrong train multiple times while vacationing in Japan, had her and her brother's passports expire during a family trip, and let's not even get started on her video game playing whenever luck is involved. From getting the worst possible luck results in randomized nuzlockes to not even being able to win any money in game show video games, it's obvious that luck is not on Jaiden's side!

    Web Comics 
  • Ava of Ava's Demon. At the moment she is born, the demon Wrathia possesses her body and has been bound to her body since then. Because of Wrathia's frustration of being stuck in Ava's body, she frequently controls Ava against her will and gets her in constant trouble. This has ruined any possible friendship for Ava, and her parents are nowhere to be seen.
  • In Basic Instructions, Scott says that Rick's unlucky streak started when the obstetrician's "spank" hit his head instead. Rick does not deny or question this.
  • In The Handbook of Heroes, Thief frequently suffers from bad luck. This is stated to result from her player rolling poorly, and is amplified by proximity to Warrior (who, having been born from a Deck of Many Things, is a creature of chance and chaos).
  • Leaf Nun from Little Nuns is constantly getting into scrapes and mishaps. She's called Leaf Nun because she usually has leaves or branches in her hair, implying she's constantly falling over, and she's rarely ever seen without a bandage on some part of herself. Her luck is so terrible that she's actually banned from so much as entering the kitchen, let alone actually cooking anything.
  • Madness In A Box has Spanky The Bad Luck Bunny.
  • The title character of Matchu.
  • Shine from NEXT!!! Sound of the Future tends to attract misfortune. The first thing that happens in the story is her and all of her equipment being accidently knocked off a bridge into the water below. It turns out that this bad luck has been following her since her creation, as she was "born" with a faulty vocal chip (a near-crippling issue for an android designed primarily to sing and perform) and was effectively barred from her original purpose as a result.
  • "Fine Irish Lass" by The Transformistress is a pin-up and attached story of Connie (formerly Connor) Bradford. As a man, his bad luck started at birth due to wanting to be a girl, and his streak of misfortune includes losing his wallet twelve times, being trapped in an elevator for twelve hours, nearly being crushed by a falling piano, and falling down an uncovered manhole. When a trickster leprechaun pities him and blesses him with some Irish luck that also induces a Gender Bender, it's still not entirely good for Connie, given that it also sticks her with an exaggerated stereotypical Irish accent and a whorish body, though it does start turning around in the end when a boy saves her from getting splashed by a puddle and asks her out on a date.
  • Tally from The Weave has been told by her aunt that, when she was born, there had been no stars at the sky, especially no lucky ones. In her early twenties, Tally has lost her College tuition, can't find a job, and is running out of money. Then she witnesses a murder and meets The Fair Folk.
  • In Yokoka's Quest, Mao is shown to have incredibly low or zero luck on his stats page.
  • Jack from Zoophobia thanks to a Deal with the Devil his mother made to make him immortal. In his first appearance he is killed by a falling spotlight, and his classmates' comments imply it wasn't the first (or presumably the last) time.

    Web Original 
  • 17776 (set in a world where humanity has achieved Complete Immortality, and the game 500 has escalated to a continent-wide search for a massive "football") has Lacrecia Evans, whose poor luck over ten thousand years attracts attention from sports historians and statisticians. If it were pure random chance, Lacrecia should have caught the ball about three hundred times in that time period—but somehow, she hasn't caught it once. And when her losing streak finally ends, the ball ends up destroying a priceless historical artifact.
  • In The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, Henry Burris previously had a brief career as arguably "the worst NFL quarterback ever." He left the NFL to join the Canadian Football League, where he played defense for the Ottawa REDBLACKS. His first season with the REDBLACKS ends with the team getting utterly curbstomped by the Toronto Argonauts' record-breaking offense.
    Burris: I think all this together makes me the losingest football player in the history of the planet Earth.

    Web Videos 
  • In one episode of Counter Monkey, Spoony tells about his friend Crazy Mike, who played a dual-wielding warrior, but somehow didn't hit with a single attack for the first two months of a bi-weekly Dungeons & Dragons campaign.
  • Games Done Quick: The Random Number God absolutely hates Keizaron. He's had run after run (admittedly, mostly in the Awful block) go over estimate because the games simply won't cooperate with him; for example, he went over on an Animorphs: Shattered Reality run because he phased through a platform for no discernable reason.
  • ProtonJon is known for his miserably bad luck when Let's Playing or streaming, and he reportedly has even worse luck when it comes to air travel. Though it's hard to top the time he had to replace some recording hardware and bought said replacement from Amazon, only to receive an email some time later saying that the seller had died (at least they refunded his money). This is all in direct contrast to his fellow Runaway Guy Chuggaaconroy, who is known for his staggeringly good luck.

    Western Animation 
  • The Atomic Betty episode, "Hi-Jinxed", features a villain named Jinx who’s suffered from bad luck all his life. Throughout the episode, he constantly suffers misfortune: his pants fall down a couple times, he often trips, he hides from the heroes behind a huge rock only for the rock to immediately get destroyed by a lightning bolt, etc.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Ozai often says that his daughter Azula was Born Lucky, while his son Zuko was lucky to be born. Zuko isn't quite like a lot of these other examples, but he does have a lot of crud to deal with as the series goes on. This winds up being a reconstruction, since the struggles that Zuko has to deal with ever since his exile alongside his determined attitude in life enables him to cope with failure and being away from Ozai's abhorrent influence unlike Azula, who ends up becoming a deconstruction of this trope's opposite.
    • Sokka is a bit of this too. See the quote above (and note how many times he gets sick, rained on, etcetera).
  • Samson of Camp Lazlo counts, being the Butt-Monkey.
    • Him being Born Unlucky is actually explored in an episode Lazlo where Lazlo trades luck with him to cheer him up. Eventually, they go see SMITS (Scout Master In The Sky) when Lazlo wants his luck back while Samson wants to know why he is unlucky. Turns out all Bean Scouts roll a slot machine to select their luck at birth. Samson ending up going overboard on the machine and ending up making it so Lazlo would get Born Lucky. SMITS restores Lazlo's luck and gives Samson gets a second shot at it. He manages to give himself the same level of luck as Lazlo... but of course he tries to go further still and this ends up reducing him back to a Butt-Monkey.
  • Cracked (2016): Nothing ever goes right for Ed, as his terrible luck and neurotic personality lead to tons of misfortune for him. As a result, he always has to protect his eggs from various extremely dangerous predicaments that put him through tons of Amusing Injuries. Thankfully for him, his eggs seem to have the opposite luck and always come out safe.
  • "Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one, but Donald Duck!" Also probably the biggest example of The Chew Toy in the medium.
    • Scrooge manages to weaponize it in an episode of DuckTales (2017). In "The House of the Lucky Gander!", when faced with a luck vampire who's keeping Gladstone Gander hostage, Scrooge tricks it into picking Donald over Gladstone. Everyone is shocked that he'd do that, but three seconds later, the emaciated spirit returns Donald and flees from their dimension.
    • Word of God for that same series states that his twin sister, Della Duck, is also this. As evident by her getting stuck on the moon for a decade, unaware that there was a nearby civilization that had everything she needed to return home. She's able to cope with it much better, though.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • Eddy brings most of his predicaments upon himself, making it his own fault, but there are episodes where he doesn't do anything wrong and still ends up on the receiving end of slapstick, such as "Button Yer Ed".
    • Jimmy, giving the numerous injuries he suffered in an arbitrary manner.
    Jimmy: Of all the rotten luck!
  • Futurama: Philip J. Fry has terrible, awful luck. Unless he happens to be holding his lucky 7-leaf clover, as shown in The Luck of the Fryish. Though his bad luck does normally cause the situation to end positively for him; just the experience was traumatic and needlessly painful.
  • Eugene from Hey Arnold! is the resident jinx of the show, and in almost all of his appearances would get injured or screwed over in some way that was out of his control. Eugene-centric episodes are about Arnold taking pity on Eugene and trying to help him or prove he wasn't a jinx, only for it to horribly backfire. Funnily enough in one episode Eugene proposed the idea that Arnold was the jinx because bad things happened to him when Arnold was around, though other episodes proved that wasn't true. He even once mentioned that he was born on a Friday the 13th
  • The eponymous Jinxy Jenkins from the short cartoon Jinxy Jenkins & Lucky Lou. Misfortune seems to follow him wherever he goes: he steps outside and it immediately starts raining, then stops again as soon as he goes back inside for an umbrella, and then a gust of wind drags him down the street, and so on. His one bit of good luck in the first third or so of the short seems to be literally running into Lucky Lou.
  • Kaeloo:
    • Stumpy the squirrel is faced with this. One time he gets the flu, eats a poisonous mushroom, gives himself a concussion, and breaks his leg... in the span of one single episode.
    • Stumpy's little sister Violasse has luck that is somehow even worse than Stumpy's and constantly places her in danger, to the point where it's her defining character trait in-universe; if not for the Good Luck Charm that she carries around with her, she could have even been killed in some of these instances.
  • The eponymous Milo Murphy of Milo Murphy's Law suffers from a hereditary curse of extreme bad luck, thanks to being a descendant of Edward A. Murphy Jr. (the man for whom Murphy's Law is named). Despite the chaos and misfortune that follows him and those around him, he stays cheerful and is ready for anything.
  • The Mr. Men Show: Mr. Bump and Little Miss Calamity.
  • Bad Luck Schlepprock from the The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show.
  • Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life is often pushed around by others, is disliked by his next-door neighbor for little to no reason, gets bad treatment from his boss, and has two reckless friends who often take advantage of him. Not to mention other unlucky stuff happens to him on a regular basis, such as getting his car impounded and waking up with a bad hair day on the most important day. The only other character in the show with worse luck than Rocko is his neighbor, Mr. Bighead, but unlike Rocko, Mr. Bighead's bad luck is usually more deserving.
  • Misery from Ruby Gloom, whose entire family had the most outrageous bad luck. (In particular for Misery, she attracts lightning bolts. Even indoors.)
  • The Simpsons:
    • Hans Moleman regularly suffers from horrible luck, including life-threatening accidents and humiliation and is often dragged into nonsense situations without a clue why it's happening. For example, he once got his car crashed into the top of a restaurant while he was still in it.
    • Gil Gunderson is a Straw Loser who constantly fails at everything at life and never seems to have a steady income or roof over his head.
    • One-shot character, Frank Grimes is brought into the world as what would happen if someone in the real world met someone like Homer Simpson. Grimes was abandoned as a child, and when recruited for a high-end job, has it replaced by a dog and demoted to a grunt level. He also spent his whole life struggling to even make ends meet even as a child and nothing goes his way, while Homer gets by doing the bare minimum.
  • South Park:
  • Squidward Tentacles from SpongeBob SquarePants, who has the unfortunate luck of living between two idiot neighbors (one of whom works aside him at the Krusty Krab, meaning Squidward can't catch a break from him even at work), having a boss who pays him little to nothing, and of course, being injured and humiliated sporadically, even when he has done nothing to attract karma.
  • Total Drama Presents: The Ridonculous Race gives us the Adversity Twins, Jay and Mickey. Not only are they ridiculously unlucky (and know it), they also have a series of bizarre allergies (particularly Jay) and phobias (particularly Mickey). Nevertheless they try to power through the challenges and are, if nothing else, endlessly supportive of each other.
  • Wile E Coyote And The Roadrunner: Wile E. Coyote is the epitome of the Butt-Monkey Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain in Western animation. No matter how hard he tries to catch that Roadrunner, they all end up backfiring on him, including the devices he builds or orders from ACME. Furthermore, if one of the ACME products work as advertised, the Coyote will bear the brunt. Sometimes, he'll endure a Humiliation Conga of being barbecued from explosions, Squashed Flat, end up on the Railroad Tracks of Doom, or fall into an abyss. One of the laws of the Road Runner cartoons is that "public sympathy must remain with the Coyote." For someone to want to eat a roadrunner is perfectly natural in the order of things, and to top it all off, the Coyote is regularly portrayed as skinny and starving.

  • This is the whole point of the Bad Luck Brian meme.
    Wins tickets for a free cruise - Aboard the Titanic
  • Haru Urara is a Japanese racehorse that became famous for her incredible record... She maintains a record of 113 losses... and and an incredible 0 wins in her career as a racehorse.
  • Historian and author William R. Forstchen states in an essay on the Battle of the Crater (printed in How to Lose a Battle: Foolish Plans and Great Military Blunders edited by Bill Fawcett) that Napoléon Bonaparte always asked the same question when a name was presented for promotion to general: "Is he lucky?" He further asserts that American Civil War General Ambrose Burnside would never have made general under Napoleon.


Video Example(s):


Marinette Dupain-Cheng

Marinette's clumsiness can sometimes reach absurd levels.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / BornUnlucky

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