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.
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.
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. See also Cosmic Plaything (destiny has fun messing with them), Butt-Monkey (the butt of everyone's jokes), or The Chew Toy (someone whose constant pain is intended to amuse). 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):
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 undergoing a HeelFace Turn and becoming 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. He's among the 20% that did not.
- Tsunade from Naruto. Her luck is so bad that, she's get 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.
- 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". The All There in the Manual additional material twists the knife further, stating that he was born on Friday the 13th, 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.
- 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.
- Momiji from Binbougami ga!, 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.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, 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.
- 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.
- Snake from the Australian newspaper comic Snake Tales.
- 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.
- The Beagle Boys have the aptly named 1313.
- Joe Btfsplk from Li'l Abner. Among other things, typically had a little thunderstorm right over his head.
- 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 have enviously noted, a love-life entirely filled with gorgeous women.
- Detective Soap from The Punisher. By the end, he gets desperate enough to attempt suicide by Frank.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In "Embers", 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.
- In Not Your Saint George, Jaune 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 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 dont think so. Are you okay?
Izuku: Im absolutely wonderful. Its 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?
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 Im literally breaking into the nations most famous museum to steal to steal a pair of scales? Arent you curious? I sure as hell am.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- An 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 belong 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...
- 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.
- 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.
- Michael from the Knight and Rogue Series. Just about anything than can go wrong for him will.
- 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.
- 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.
- Bossuet/Lesgle from Les Misérables.
- Raymond Jardine from Gordon Korman's A Semester in the Life of a Garbage Bag.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- In Hee Haw the quote above was used in a skit which started out with a 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.
- Then they go on to tell a sad story in poetic meter matching the song.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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 protagonist of the song "Born Under a Bad Sign" of course.
Born under a bad signI been down since I begin to crawlIf it wasn't for bad luck,I wouldn't have no luck at all.
- Charlie Brown in Peanuts is an intersection of this and The Determinator.
- Brutis 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.
- Champions — Any character with 3 dice of Unluck.
- 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 short-lived Marvel Role-Playing 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.
- Pete Riske aka Setback of Sentinels of the Multiverse, at least, at first. The original story in the fake comics this card game is based on had him as this but it was later retconned as his Psycho Ex-Girlfriend cursing him but messing up.
- Harold, a recurring character in the Fallout series, 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!
- Knoll from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones 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/Harold 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 some very nice out of it. Then there is his son who ends up being the polar opposite with no negatives.
- 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 rolled 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.
- 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.
- Captain Boochbeard from Pirate101 has Rincewind type luck. His plans are always thwarted but he always survives to try again.
- The Hero of Dragon Quest V, who suffers Trauma Conga Line throughout the game, is notable for having the worst Luck stat.
- Kanbe Kuroda from Sengoku Basara is The Chew Toy par excellence. Not that he lets it stop him.
- Actually, games in general commonly cast The Hero 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.
- In the 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.
- 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.).
- In The Elder Scrolls 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.
- 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 cheat his luck with a double-headed coin, the first one is eaten by a crow. The second is eaten by a hawk. The third one explodes. Somehow.
- Sonja in Advance Wars 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.
- 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.
- In the Tokimeki Memorial series, Kyoko Izumi from Pocket and Miyuki Kotobuki from 2 (the latter even having as a Catch-Phrase: "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.
- Nagito Komaeda from Super Danganronpa 2 is a partial subversion in that his luck manifests as two extremes: bad luck followed by good luck. 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 was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia and lymphoma, but also won a lottery that would determine him a spot in Hope's Peak Academy. And finally, the events of Super Danganronpa 2 occurred.
- Makoto Naegi, the protagonist of Danganronpa, has the title of "Ultimate Lucky (Unlucky?) Student". His own brand of luck manifestes as bad luck that somehow allows him to escape worse things. For example: he gets the only bedroom with a faulty bathroom door that has a tendency to jam itself (although it's implied that Monokuma designed it that way on purpose purely so he could call Makoto unlucky for it), which turns out to be the pieces of evidence that proves his innocence in the first murder.
- 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!
- Grisaia no Kajitsu: 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.
- 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" his his head instead. Rick does not deny or question this.
- Madness In A Box has Spanky The Bad Luck Bunny.
- 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.
- The title character of Matchu.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- On 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.
- 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.
- "Who gets stuck with all the bad luck? No one, but Donald Duck!" Also probably the biggest example of The Chew Toy.
- 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. 3 seconds later the emaciated spirit returns Donald and flees from their dimension.
- Ed, Edd n Eddy:
Jimmy: Of all the rotten luck!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- South Park:
- Squidward 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.
- This is the whole point of the Bad Luck Brian meme.
- 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 Napoleon 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.