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Broken Angel

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How do you put divinity back together?

"Falling from heaven is not as painful as surviving the impact."

Many fantasy creatures are fantastic. Whether a sphinx, dragon, or steam powered robot beetle; whether practically human, incomprehensible or pure evil, these creatures can elicit a sense of wonder and terror in any observer.

Now imagine someone took a sledgehammer to that marvel and left it bleeding and broken on the floor.

That is the Broken Angel, a fantastic creature that has been stripped of their fantastic. This can take many forms: the eponymous angel with hurt wings, broken horned unicorns, newly mortal elves (or any other immortal being), magicless wizards, robots whose body is centimeters from going offline, etc. When played for drama, this is usually used to evoke deep sadness. This is a unique, beautiful creature that has been cruelly torn asunder. Not even killed, but left alive to suffer being flawed after having been perfect or at least "the way I was meant to be." As you can imagine, a lot of Fallen Heroes have this as a backstory.

When one is killed you can expect the killers (even if they're heroes) to lament destroying something that is one of a kind. If it was the Last of His Kind, this serves a double whammy by signaling the End of an Age: there will be no more like it, ever. If a villain is the one doing the killing or crippling, they haven't just Kicked The Unicorn, they broke off the horn and stabbed it to death with it. May make its home in a Fantastic Nature Reserve.

On the positive side, they may be able to heal naturally, get repaired, seek redemption or Find the Cure!. However the story presents a way to make the "fantastic" be restorable, finding the cure will be a quest in and of itself. If the Broken Angel is found by a Good Samaritan, they'll get some help to this end by being hidden and nursed back to health. Of course, there will be danger from those who did the breaking coming, or from locals with Torches and Pitchforks out to finish the job.

On the other hand, this can be used as a Karmic Transformation (more like "Karmic Crippling" in a few instances) to punish rebellious members of this species. Whether for good or bad behavior depends. If it was due to evil, you can expect these Fallen Angels to wear their broken wings with defiant Pride. Even more rarely, rather than grieve over the loss after being Brought Down to Normal or De Powered this way, they might like the change.

Contrast Freakiness Shame. No real overlap with One-Winged Angel, unless the being still has enough juice to enter a Super Mode which prominently features their one good wing. Not to be confused with but similar to Broken Bird. See also Unicorns Are Sacred.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Organization in Claymore is revealed to have two captured dragon people in their basement, which they all but harvest. The sight of these undoubtedly majestic beings who look like some streamlined science-fiction monsters being chained, hooked up to tubes with half their bodies missing, is certainly a textbook example, especially considering how they're being kept just barely alive so that their flesh remains fresh for the various uses they have for it... Fortunately, Miria grants them a Mercy Kill.
  • Durarara!! has Celty, a dullahan who's lost her disembodied head (along with all the memories in it) some twenty years ago and still feels incomplete without it.
  • While the renegade Shadow Angel Apollonius in Genesis of Aquarion is generally portrayed with his wings spread, one flashback to twelve thousand years ago had him rip his own wings off while escaping from crucifixion to protect Celiane, the love of his life.
  • Heart Catch Pretty Cure applies the trope to a more recent sort of fantasy being with Yuri, a former Magical Girl Warrior.
  • Interspecies Reviewers has Crim, an angel that got his halo broken due to odd circumstances, which not only prevents him from using any angelic powers but also has resulted in him being stuck in the mortal plane. He's hoping to eventually get it fixed and return to Heaven, but as the story goes on he grows worried that it will never heal and he'll be stuck in the mortal realm for the rest of his life, even if he's found it's not as bad as he initially thought it would be (for one thing, normally angels with intact halos are incorporeal and invisible, practically incapable of interacting with the world, and several of Crim's contemporaries are actually jealous of his newly-gained ability to eat food and -- in particular -- have sex as a charter member of the titular brothel-crawlers).
  • There is a broken angel housed in the NERV basement in Neon Genesis Evangelion, it's the one nailed to a cross. Also, the part-Angel Rei might possibly count... metaphorically speaking. For that matter, so could Kaworu and all the EVAs depending on which interpretation you take. So does the literal "broken Angel" from the second Rebuild of Evangelion movie which was captured and experimented with until its bones were stripped bare of flesh.
  • Hayao Miyazaki made a music video set to On Your Mark about two police officers who find a winged girl held (and mistreated) by a cult; and then mistreated by the government scientists.
  • From the fourth arc of Umineko: When They Cry on, a huge theme of the series is whether or not the magic that Beatrice weaves is truly bad or not. Serving to personify this conflict is Beatrice herself, having been turned into an Empty Shell by Battler, who grieves over her until deciding to resurrect her.

    Comic Books 
  • Black Bolt in Earth X has a bit of a costume makeover which gives him huge wings made of silver blades. When he goes up against the planet eating Celestials and loses he's left in his broken armor and exposed face on the moon. Luckily, his Distress Call was answered by Galactus.
  • The Filth gives us Secret Original, a Golden Age superhero who came into reality, and now is a wheelchair-bound cripple.
  • Hellboy is recognizable for having two neatly sawed off horn stumps on his forehead. Though in a subversion of this trope, he cut them off himself for (at first) the practical reason of helping him fit in with humans. And later on when he learned his longstanding fate as an Apocalypse Maiden and The Antichrist, he now cuts them off as a sign of rejecting said fate. Fate being persistent though, they tend to grow back if he ever gets exposed to infernal energy or starts to doubt or become convinced of ending the world.
    • The movies have at least a few scenes where he sands off the ends, as though it were shaving.
  • This was done to Dawnstar during the Darker and Edgier Giffen run of the Legion of Super-Heroes. She seemed to be getting over it, until the entire universe was rebooted in Zero Hour.
  • The Mexican graphic novel Operación Bolivar by Edgar Clemens, stars a man who, being born with the ability to see and touch angels, works as an angel hunter, since their body parts are good for a very wide array of uses (the meat is medicinal, the eyes can be used in robotics, the feathers make you an amazing writer, the bones are powdered into an incredibly potent drug, etc). The story deals with a Government Conspiracy to turn the angel-hunting business into mass production in an attempt to overcome the Asian intrusion on the same market with dragon body parts. In the story's introduction he narrates how terrible killing such majestic creatures is:
    "Killing angels may seem like a repulsive business. And it is. To kill them you need cold blood. Many can't stand it and go mad or kill themselves. But an angel hunter was born for this business. We are marked beings. We can't escape fate."
  • A possible origin for The Phantom Stranger is that he was an angel who refused to take sides in the War in Heaven and after the war was barred from entering Heaven. He attempted to find refuge in Hell, only for the demons there to angrily rip his wings off and condemn him to Walk the Earth.
  • The Sandman (1989):
    • Lucifer asks Dream to cut off his wings for him since this is the last thing that needs to be done before Lucifer can quit being the ruler of Hell. He was also Broken already. Probably as a side effect of either rebelling or living in Hell his beautiful white feathered wings had become blackened bat wings.
    • In spin-off series Lucifer, we discover that the Archangel Michael has been imprisoned for millennia by Sandalphon and had his body cut open repeatedly. The human who sees him in this state narrates how the chains were "obscene" and the brutality even more sickening than it would otherwise be because the victim of it was so magnificent and beautiful, and that the sight of such beauty and ugliness together hurt his eyes.
  • X-Men:
    • Angel has had this happen to him various times in various continuities. In the original comics, he has his wings cut off by a villain, leading to a period of depression. Apocalypse convinces him to do a Face–Heel Turn by promising to "give them back"... by upgrading him into the angel of death with metal wings. And eventually he manages to heal and regrow his wings naturally.
    • In the more traditional terms of this trope, we have the Acanti, a race of Space Whales that have been enslaved by the Brood for generations. At least one arc of Uncanny X-Men in the '80s revolves around saving them.

    Fan Works 
  • There are a lot of Good Omens fanfics in which Hell/Heaven catch up with Crowley/Aziraphale and tick them off for the whole averting-the-Apocalypse debacle. In most cases, it's fairly brutal. It often seems to involve their wings, in a hideously painful way.
    • For some reason, this trope is common in Fanfiction of Works that include angels/angel-like characters, or wingfic.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In Ask Not the Sparrow, The Reveal is that the reason why Rainbow Dash doesn't fly very often is because she broke her wings as a filly, and it took years of physiotherapy for her to be able to fly again.
    • At least one of the Revised Endings to the infamous Cupcakes (Sergeant Sprinkles) has this happen to Rainbow Dash. She's saved, but her wings are not.
    • SWAG.MOV ends the same way: Rainbow Dash ends up destroying Discord, at the expense of her wings.
    • How I Lost My Mother starts the story with this As Celestia uses the Elements of Harmony on her only daughter to destroy her horn and shrink her wings to transform Cozy into a Pegasus.
    • The Triptych Continuum iterations of Moon and Sun are unimaginably advanced, apparently sapient fabrials created (presumably) by an unknown pre-Discordant civilization to provide light and heat to the world of Menajeria. They are also suffering from what amounts to severe brain damage as a result of Discord's abuse, and are incapable of safely controlling their own orbits without Celestia and/or Princess Luna to provide them with access to an undamaged mind.
  • The Legend of Spyro: A New Dawn ends with Cyros, a dragon who was one of the main antagonists and the first to make a Heel–Face Turn, has her wings horrifically mangled taking an attack meant for Spyro and Cynder. The next chapter reveals they couldn't be saved and have to be cut off. The Spin-Off story detailing her recovery is titled "Broken Wings".
  • One of the main characters in Ponies After People, Moira, is a unicorn with a broken horn.
  • The Ah! My Goddess fic Ah! Archfall! is basically focused on this, when a less than perfect human ends up as the Master of an Archangel (following the assassination of her Mistress) whilst trying to maintain a relationship with the Valkyrie Lind, who has been banished for failing to recover said angel.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Disney Fairies: Secret of the Wings, Tinker Bell has her wings damaged to the point of being unable to fly when crossing over into the country/season of Winter (since her wings can't hold up in cold weather). It's supposed to be impossible to cure, but her twin ends up being a work-around to that. There's a story told earlier in the film about a Winter fairy that had his wings damaged while courting a Spring fairy. When the Winter fairy telling Periwinkle the story turns away from her at the end, we see that he's been telling his own story; his wings are missing.
  • In Ghost in the Shell (1995), Motoko takes on an enemy one number too big for her and ends up ruining her mechanical body by overexerting herself, leaving her limbs shattered. Helpless, half-naked and unable to move, she makes for quite a sad sight.
  • Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon suffers permanent damage to his tail that hinders his flight capability early in the movie. Hiccup builds a tail attachment to help Toothless fly again, but the dragon still needs a rider to help him fly at his best.
    • It should be noted that in the short animation Gift of the Night Fury that continues on from the film, Hiccup builds an automatic tail attachment, allowing Toothless to fly on his own once more. Near the end of the film, Toothless smashes the attachment, showing he prefers having Hiccup as a rider to flying on his own. However, by How to Train Your Dragon 2, Hiccup has apparently modified the fin to allow him to lock it in position so Toothless can continue flying on his own while Hiccup jumps from his back to try out his new wingsuit. In How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World He builds another automatic tail attachment for Toothless when it becomes clear that he is yearning to fly off on his own after meeting a female Lightfury.
  • The Last Unicorn:
    • The titular unicorn becomes this after she in transformed into the human woman, Amalthea, after bumbling amateur magician Schmindreck uses Wild Magic in a desperate attempt to rescue her from the Red Bull (the villain's Pet Monstrosity that hunts and captures unicorns. Although saved from the fate of the rest of the unicorns and still extremely graceful and beautiful for a human, the transformation into any mortal being, let alone a human, is extremely horrific and traumatizing for her, especially at first, and presented as something that has trapped a being of an ethereal nature in the form of a decaying and ill-suited mortal body, with various psychological and spiritual consequences. When she eventually is turned back, she remains a more figurative example; Unicorns are stated to be pure, immortal beings and, by their very nature, untouched by emotions like regret, longing, or grief. But her experience as a human being (who fell in love) has left Amalthea capable of these feelings. And now she will have to feel them forever.
    • Inverted with Mommy Fortuna's menagerie of "mystical beings", which are actually mostly fakes, being pitiful animals that she casts glamours on, so that they appear as legendary beasts to those who want to see as much. The only real fantastic creatures in the caravan are the unicorn and the Harpy, who has mommy Fortuna's number.
  • Tempest Shadow from My Little Pony: The Movie (2017) is a unicorn with a broken horn that leaves her unable to control her magic. She serves the evil Storm King because he promised to restore it in exchange for her service.
  • The Forest God from Princess Mononoke appears as spritely and otherworldy stag with a vaguely anthropomorphic face that spreads life and fertility in its wake, basically a combination of a unicorn-like creature, a youkai and a primordial god. That is, until some fool cuts off its head, that is, at which point the body becomes a Eldritch Abomination, mindlessly showering decay and destruction on epic scale until it is reunited with its head.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The felling of the Home Tree in Avatar has a dreadful sense of finality in it and prompts several characters who were hedging their bets to complete their Heel Face Turns.
  • In Barbarella, the angel Pygar is blind.
  • Near the end of Constantine (2005) the angelic halfbreed Gabriel has his wings blasted off by God. However, since he was The Man Behind the Man, he really had it coming.
    • The Hellblazer comic that inspired this event took this even further: after falling from grace and losing most of his wings, Gabriel ends up having the tattered remains chainsawed off by Constantine. And then he's left to make the most of his newfound mortality as a homeless man.
  • The angel in Date with an Angel gets winged in a collision with a communications satellite.
  • The Angels in Dogma have to lose their wings in order to become mortal.
  • The de-horned unicorn in Legend (1985) is central to the plot.
  • The titular character of Maleficent after her wings are cut off while she's sleeping. The act is wholly responsible for her Start of Darkness.
  • Mermaid Down is about a mermaid whose tail is cut off by fishermen, causing her to grow legs that look like a human's. She is placed in a mental facility with other patients who think she's an insane, catatonic human. Later she tells them through a sign language interpreter that sailors used to take mermaids for their wives by cutting their tails off, and that there are people alive today who are descended from merfolk and don't know it. When the mermaid gets to be in non-chlorinated water, her tail grows back.
  • In the film Noah, the titular character is helped by the Watchers, fallen angels who have been encased in stone for disobeying god by aiding humans, who later betrayed them. They understandably distrust humans.
  • Lucifer, the Trope Codifier. As he said in The Prophecy (1995): "I was the first angel, loved once above all others... (sings) But like all true love... one day it withered on the vine..."
  • Skellig is implied to be an angel exiled to earth, hopeless and miserable but unable to die. In the beginning he lives in an abandoned shed, covered in filth and in such bad shape that he can't fly or even walk, with nothing but insects to eat. Perhaps a subversion in that his condition (and personality) elicit revulsion rather than sadness and sympathy.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men: The Last Stand: A young Warren Worthington III tried to cut his wings off to avoid being rejected by his father.
    • X-Men: Apocalypse: Angel's wing is seriously crippled after his fight with Nightcrawler, hampering his ability to fly.

  • And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid: The Waverley twins turn out to be sirens who cut their wings off so they can pass for ordinary mermaids.
  • The fourth Avalon: Web of Magic book is about healing a unicorn who had her horn sliced off. The Mentor says that it's not just the unicorn's body that was wounded, but her self-perception — however beautiful and inspiring she looks to the protagonists, she cannot get better because she is still stuck psychologically in that moment.
  • Self-inflicted in Dorothy Must Die, where some of the winged monkeys decide to cut their wings off rather than be enslaved and forced to pull Dorothy's royal chariot.
  • Fablehaven has Raxtus the dragon, who is small and feeble due to being raised by fairies.
  • Hurog: In Dragon Bones, the protagonists notice that a dragon-shaped rock has gone missing. They speculate that maybe someone has revived a dragon that was imprisoned in stone. It turns out that it's actually a basilisk, which is about as intelligent as a dog, while dragons are human-level sentient. Then, in the real twist of the story, Oreg comes back after Ward killed him — it turns out that the body that was killed was not his real one, and he's half dragon, but couldn't shift into that form while he was enslaved and bound to castle Hurog.
  • Brom, the aged Dragon Rider from the Inheritance Cycle, lost nearly all of his power when his dragon Saphira was killed. Oromis, Brom's fellow Rider, lost nearly all of his physical and magical prowess due to an unknown injury and is nicknamed "The Cripple Who is Whole".
  • Island of the Aunts has the titular aunts care for all sorts of magical creatures that are incapacitated. Their patients include some mermaids, who got into an oil spill, and lost their mermaid-typical beauty as a result.
  • The Last Unicorn:
    • The eponymous unicorn being turned into a human girl to save her life. Shmendrick the magician is very happy he managed to do this because his magic worked and he saved her life. Molly, who knows more about unicorns, is horrified:
      "What have you done? What have you done?! You've trapped her in a human body! She'll go mad!"
    • And from the Unicorn herself after she wakes up,
      "What have you done to me? I'm a unicorn... I'm a unicorn!"
      "But I'm afraid of this human body. More than I was of the red bull...
    • The entire rest of the story could be seen as a rather complex analysis of this trope. The unicorn-turned-human eventually comes to believe that being a human is more like being Cursed with Awesome after falling in love with someone — something that unicorns can't experience. Unfortunately, she still has a quest to finish and abandoning it to live as a human isn't really an option.
    • In the animated version, at least, the ending implies she will remain a broken angel even returned to her Unicorn form. Having known love, she has to live out the rest of her immortal life capable of feeling regret (Unicorns being too pure to feel such a human emotion normally).
  • Lost Voices: If a mermaid's tail is out of the water for more than a few seconds, it will start to transform into a pair of legs. The process is so horrifically painful that most beached mermaids die of shock. In The Twice Lost, Catarina is one of twenty mermaids captured in a net and dragged out of the water. All die except Catarina, who hated humans more than almost any of the others, and is horrified to awaken in a hospital bed and find herself trapped in a human body.
  • In the Magic: The Gathering novels, the angels of Ravnica are the highest authority in the Boros Legion (the law enforcement guild). Then there's the angel Feather, who committed some unspecified crime and got demoted to wojek (essentially, street cop). Notably, she didn't actually have her wings broken off, just bound by enchanted shackles.
  • Un Senor muy viejo con unas alas enormes (A very very old man with enormous wings) by Gabriel García Márquez is about a strange, injured "angel" who is nursed back to health (kind of, it's a strange short story) and exploited as a freak show by a small town. He has bug infested wings, sounds senile, and is generally decrepit. However, there's no indication that he used to be beautiful. It's just the contrast between what he is and what an angel should be that's sad.
  • In Perdido Street Station, a crippled member of the Winged Humanoid race of garuda comes to New Crobuzon in hopes of regaining the power of flight, before being grounded drives him wholly to despair. Subverted in that, unlike more Woobie-ish examples of this trope, it turns out that his wings were amputated as a just punishment for rape under the laws of his people.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter trilogy, the Fair Folk have scars on their back where their wings were amputated after they were shut out of Heaven as fallen angels.
  • Light novel Re:Zero has Ram, an oni who was once so physically and magically adept as to have been called "the second coming of the oni god". She lost most of her power when her horn was cut off during an attack on her village - she can still fight and use magic to a decent extent, but requires frequent mana transfusions, and pushing herself damages her body so badly she vomits blood.
  • Lampshaded in the Shadowrun novel Lone Wolf, when the protagonist spots a wretched homeless elf dozing in an alley, and wonders what it is about elves that makes such a scene feel far more tragic than seeing a human in similar squalid conditions.
  • In Skellig, the eponymous character is a weak, arthritic Winged Humanoid found in the back of the protagonist's garage and is heavily implied to be a real angel.
  • The Stormlight Archive:
    • Words of Radiance:
      • When Sylphrena's bond with Kaladin is disrupted, we see her descend into senility and madness bit by bit.
      • In the same book, the Shardblades that people have been using for centuries are spren, intelligent beings who voluntarily transformed into weapons to arm their human partners against the Enemy, only for those partners to betray them and rip out the sprens' mind, leaving them trapped in mindless agony in their weapon forms forever. And if a Surgebinder touches one of the dead Shards, he can hear the spren screaming, as can anyone else holding the Blade.
    • Oathbringer expands on this with the Deadeyes, the manifestation of the dead spren in Shadesmar. They look mostly like normal spren but have their eyes scratched out, do not interact with others, and will mindlessly wander to the area roughly corresponding with the location of the person the Shardblade is bonded to in the physical realm if left to their own devices. Or if the person in question is themself in Shadesmar, the spren will just follow them around.
  • Ray Cummings' Tama Of The Light Country (written in 1930) is about a young Mercutian woman leading a revolt against a hideous law laid down by the wingless males who run the government. Women on Mercury are born with wings — but when they marry, the wings have to come off. As in hacked off without anesthesia. There are several moving descriptions of the victims.
  • "The Tower of the Elephant" has such a creature, who is also an Eldritch Abomination — but one who is basically good and has been cruelly mistreated and exploited.
  • The fourth book of The Trials of Apollo sees Commodus and Caligula ride into Camp Jupiter on a chariot pulled by two horses. Apollo then realizes with horror and fury that they're not horses, they're pegasi who had their wings cut off.
  • Uncle Einar Has Big Green Wings by Ray Bradbury is a similar story. Einar Elliott normally flies at night so he won't attract attention, but after running into electrical wires, his night vision/radar is damaged, perhaps permanently. His kids come up with an ingenious solution.
  • The Wheel of Time brings us Stilling/Gentling, (both also known as Severing,) a way to permanently cut a Channeler off from magic. Nynaeve figures out how to cure it, something that was never known even before the last apocalypse.
  • When The Angels Left The Old Country: After Uriel starts carrying the rebbe's ghost, it loses some of its angelic powers. It gets them back once the dybbuk is gone.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Angel, Illyria finds that her time has passed and her armies are dead. She comments bitterly that in her new body she'd be seen as nothing but food to the rest of her kind.
    • The Ethros demon from first season also ends up as this — having corrupted and consumed human souls for millennia, it begs for death after trying to possess a child who turned out to be Eviler than Thou.
  • Doctor Who:
    • Many episodes of the new series show the Doctor as a broken veteran of the Time War, and the last of his race. In the "The Girl in the Fireplace", Reinette calls him her Lonely Angel.
    • "The Beast Below": The Star Whale, which has been captured and tortured in order to serve as Starship UK's engines.
  • Lucifer (2016):
    • The titular character has his wings cut off and sports rather nasty scars on his back. He ends up growing them back as the series progresses.
    • In the beginning of the final season we see that a similar fate has befell Michael, Lucifer's twin brother. After being the Big Bad of the previous season, constantly backstabbing and even killing some of his own siblings in order to become the new God, he is now scrubbing hell's floors while sporting the wounds of having his wings cut off. Not that he didn't deserve it.
  • In the Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns", the main character encounters a pale, gaunt, vaguely male figure with healed stumps at its shoulder blades kept by a deranged art collector. It is strongly implied that this was the angel that was mutilated in La fin absolue du monde, the short film that the protagonist seeks. As revealed by the Snuff Film director Dalibor, the sheer sacrilege of this act was the key to the late Bakovic's success and turned his film into a madness-inducing Artifact of Death.
  • Supernatural: In a future timeline, the angel Castiel has lost his angelic powers and operates drugged 24/7 as a cheesy sex guru. He also slowly breaks in the main timeline over Season 5, slowly losing his "angel mojo" to the point where he can't heal people and time travel leaves him seriously ill. He also later reveals that he cannot return to Heaven. He does still have his wings, though, and his ability to fly/teleport. At least until the last couple episodes of the season, at which point he can't fly, can't heal himself, and even needs to sleep.
    • Even though he's been losing his powers, Castiel still held faith in his Father until late in Season 5 when Joshua, the one angel who still talks to God, reveals that God doesn't care about the Apocalypse and has no intentions of stopping it or helping anyone, at which point Cas snaps completely. However, at the end of "Swan Song", Cas's angel mojo is restored, with bonuses, when he is resurrected by God.
    • Castiel still can't catch a break after all of this. In Season 6, he becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist, loses the trust of his friends and eventually abandons his morals and declares himself the new God. And in Season 7, he goes on a power trip, briefly tries to atone only to get killed from the inside, then returns to life sans memories, regains his memories only to perform a Heroic Sacrifice that results in him going completely insane, and finally gets zapped to Purgatory, where he spends the better part of a year fending off Leviathans. He eventually escapes, sanity and old outfit into the bargain. Now the only problem is Heaven's new management using him as an unwitting spy.
    • Gabriel also has some aspects of this, namely how jaded he is, and how sick of his family fighting he is. He ran away, only to end up tangled up in the mess all over again, partially thanks to the Winchesters. Being killed by Lucifer probably didn't help.
    • As of the Season 8 finale, every angel in the Supernatural universe has been cast from Heaven, apart from the vengeful one who caused it.
    • Flat-out name-dropped at one point, specifically referencing Cas at the time:
      "What are you going to do with a broken angel? Don't be stupid."
  • Torchwood has a hurt, formless creature in the episode "Meat".
  • A sci-fi version features in Star Trek: Voyager; Seven of Nine feels like this after being separated from the Borg, lamenting being reduced to a mere individual human. Since the Borg seek perfection, she struggles to accept that she'll never attain it in her new form.

  • The video for "Charlotte" by Kittie prominently features a fallen angel, and that doesn't seem to be enough for a pack of girls that proceed to chase him through the countryside.
  • Possibly the angel in the video of "Losing My Religion".
  • The Wounded, Blind Angel in Nightwish's "Amaranth", based off a Finnish painting called "The Wounded Angel".
  • Emilie Autumn's album Enchant is the story of a fairie who had her wings pulled off.
  • Deathstars' "Termination Bliss" is a somewhat gruesome example.
    "Here she comes down, as her wings get nailed to the ground, a Polaroid of shame/ The last angel's pathetic fame..."
  • Hanson has a song with the title "Broken Angel", which is on their album Underneath.
  • Silentium's "My Broken Angel" from their album Amortean.
  • Ambellina from the Coheed and Cambria storyline. Her wings are burned off and she's sent to guide Claudio.
    "I will call you out from shelter; burn your wings, you'll know no better."
  • One of Grimes' personas in her "Flesh Without Blood/Life in the Vivid Dream" video.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Burning Empires, Psychologists have their talents destroyed when a Vaylen infests their brain, though that's arguably the least of their worries...
  • Demon: The Fallen claims that the entire freaking Creation has gotten this treatment from God during the War of Wrath. The modern World of Darkness has very little to do with the wonders of the young Creation before the Fall, because in His fury at the rebellious angels, God smashed the world they created under His supervision and its current state is a long-term result of the damage sustained back then. (The game also offers a counter-perspective, that he was acting to save the world at the Fall — but even so, the damage had been done.)
  • Dungeons & Dragons:
    • Radiant idols, introduced in the Eberron setting, are Fallen Angels who were exiled to the mortal world for desiring to be worshiped. As part of their punishment, their wings were torn off or bound in unbreakable restraints, something they usually hide with illusions. Beyond this, radiant idols are under an effect that ensures they will never fly again, to the extent that magic like fly and feather fall don't function around them, and even if polymorphed into a form that can fly, a radiant idol can only walk or crawl.
    • While earlier editions depicted them as a race of fiends on their own, 5th edition retconned the Nightmare to be pegasi that have had their wings ripped off in a vile ritual.
  • Exalted has the Demon Realm of Malfeas. Its creation is what happens when you do this to a couple dozen world making titans, turn them inside out, and stuff them inside of one another in a recursive nightmare. Each defeated Primordial was ritually mutilated by having a component soul destroyed. Many demons (who are their remaining component souls) also have a distinct impression of this trope.
  • This image from the Magic: The Gathering card Cruel Ultimatum.
    • Funny thing, though, is it's a demon, rather than anything divine, as is standard for this trope.
    • Interestingly, though there are quite a few black angels in Magic which flavor wise are all Fallen Angels, they all have fully functional wings. Only the eponymous Fallen Angel is depicted with broken or amputated wings depending on the artwork.
    • Then there are the Phyrexian angels, the results of surgically ripping Mirran angels apart and putting them back together with Phyrexian oil. They are still powerful and dangerous, but not what they used to be.
    • In Shadows Over Innistrad, the angels succumb to madness and become slayers of mankind instead of their protectors. Come Eldritch Moon, not only are their minds broken, they get physical deformation, culminating in horrific after-shape.
  • In Shadowrun, adding cybernetics or modified organs to your body reduces your "Essence" by an amount based on how invasive or alien the part is, and losing essence also causes characters with Magical abilities to decrease their Magic by the same amount (or more, if they only lose part of a point). A magician whose Magic drops to zero due to this becomes "burnt out" — they no longer have access to magical abilities, any magic skills they have become strictly academic knowledge, and they can never regain them aside from extremely rare plot devices or getting a bug spirit shoved into their body (which is at least as bad as it sounds and might well destroy them utterly). The same happens to Technomancers whose Resonance drops to zero.
  • In Warhammer 40,000's backstory, the Primarchs were practically demigods, the Emperor of Mankind's clone-sons and exemplars of humanity. Each became great leaders of men before taking their place at the head of the Astartes legions during the Great Crusade... with the exception of Angron of the World Eaters, a former gladiator who had been irreparably damaged by the Butcher's Nails, cybernetic implants that mutilated his brain and enhanced his aggression. Even before he fell to Chaos, Angron was known as the Broken One, a drooling, deranged berserker barely cogent outside of battle, and the subject of scorn even by his own legion.
  • Werewolf: The Forsaken has a functional equivalent. Spirits known as Lunes are the servitors of Luna, patron goddess of the Forsaken, and provide them with aid and renown. The Bale Hounds, however, have access to arts that allow them to bind a Lune after flaying most of its Corpus away, gaining power from the broken but still "living" wreckage left behind.

  • Used as metaphor in The Glass Menagerie, with Laura's unicorn figure falling and breaking off its horn.
    I'll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less — freakish! Now he will feel more at home with the other horses, the ones that don't have horns.

    Video Games 
  • Aerie in Baldur's Gate II, a rare winged elf whose wings were hacked off and burned.
    • The Big Bad Jon Irenicus and his sister Bodhi were elves that were stripped of their immortality and exiled. Unfortunately for everyone else Irenicus still retained his considerable magical powers.
  • Baldur's Gate III has the Nightsong, Dame Aylin, the Semi-Divine deva daughter of the God of the Moon Selune. For a century she was tortured and imprisoned by her Evil Aunt the God of Darkness Shar, while simultaneously having her powers leeched from her by the God of the Dead Myrkul's Chosen, Ketheric Thorm. The decades of torture left her with skin resembling cracked marble. Token Evil Teammate Shadowheart's questline has her decide whether to have a Heel–Face Turn and free her, or cross the Moral Event Horizon and put her down for good.
  • The Binding of Isaac: In the Repentance expansion, one of the new characters, Tainted Azazel is a broken demon. His horns are broken and his wings are ripped, making him unable to fly, in exchange he gets a new attack called Hemoptysis, which allows him to release a short-ranged blood sneeze that pushes his enemies back if he releases his main attack before fully charged.
  • In the prologue of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2, Dracula starts out as an invincible Physical God of Evil who wipes out an army of half a million men all by himself. After spending centuries in a deep sleep deprived of blood brought on by being impaled with a sword forged with a fragment of the one weapon that can kill him, Dracula awakens a withered broken thing with barely any power at all. Restoring his full powers is a major part of the game.
  • After A Taste of Power in the prologue, the Horseman of War in Darksiders is stripped of nearly all of his powers by his superiors after being accused of prematurely triggering the Apocalypse. The rest of the game is spent finding out who is really responsible while rebuilding War's power (and then some since he gets new weapons too). War never regains the ability to maintain Chaos Form indefinitely, though.
  • In Diablo III, Tyrael is a self-inflicted case. He tore off his own wings to become a mortal when he could no longer tolerate his fellow angels' refusal to protect Sanctuary from the demons.
  • The elves in the Dragon Age universe were once immortal beings of great magical power, before the humans showed up, caused them to lose their immortality, and demolished their civilization, at least according to Dalish legend. The elves ran off and made a new home for themselves, and the humans came and destroyed that one too. Today the elves are either enslaved or forced to remain on the run, their civilization regressed to its most primitive, gradually losing their magic, and have lost all knowledge of their history and language. Dragon Age: Inquisition sheds some more light on the situation. Turns out only the elven nobility had immortality and powerful magic. The lower caste elves were slaves who had no immortality and no more magical potential than other mortals. Modern day elves may actually be descendants of those slaves, meaning they aren't broken at all. All things considered, their situation has arguably improved.
  • Dragon Quest IX's Prologue ends with your hero becoming a Broken Angel, stranded in the mortal realm without their wings and halo and only retaining some of their Celestrial powers. This pales in comparison with some of the other broken angels you meet later.
    • The hero becomes even more broken near the end of the game when they have to use a Fygg to become a mortal in order to defeat the Big Bad. Fortunately, the post-game gives the hero a chance to regain some of their abilities (i.e. being able to see Stella and Sterling again) using another Fygg.
  • In Drakengard 2, the once mighty red Dragon Angelus from Drakengard is trapped in unbearable agony after Verdelet made her seal even more powerful.
  • In Drakengard 3, Michael is the strongest Dragon. He is slain in the prologue by the Demon Dragon Gabriel who is also arguably an example since it is the dragon Gabriella who sacrificed her own mind and even her gender to become a demonic abomination that could take on Michael. Michael's reincarnation Mikhael is a tremendous disappointment to Zero since he lacks Michael's maturity and power. It takes the rest of the game for Mikhael to regain the power he once possessed as Michael and in the end he is left emotionally broken instead as he is forced to kill his mother figure Zero.
  • This is ultimately why Mr. Eaten is the way he is in Fallen London. Once known as Mr. Candles, he was subjected to a rather horrible Rasputinian Death, leaving only a concept behind — a concept of hunger.
  • Almost literal in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. The Heron Rafiel was rendered permanently unable to fly due to trauma and exhaustion. He at least fared better than most of his people, who fell victim to genocide.
  • In God of War: Ascension, the Hecatonchires is a once mighty precursor to the Olympians who betrayed his blood oath to Zeus and suffered greatly for it. The Furies sealed him in stone, hollowed him out to make a dungeon, and allow Megaera's pet insects to slowly devour him from the inside. He's still alive too.
  • The Final Boss of Hollow Knight, the titular character, is in such a state when you confront them, having been badly ravaged by the Infection after being made a vessel for the Infection and being unable to contain it properly. Their weapon is cracked (as is their mask), they're missing an arm, and the infection at times spews out of them and puppeteers their body. That they're still a dangerous challenge is more a testament to how powerful they were before. You can fight them in their prime (in the dreamworld) in the Godmaster DLC as the Pure Vessel, and it's a much tougher challenge as the boss has more hit points, a few new tricks, and their attacks do double damage as in the main fight.
  • Ico's horns breaking at the end of ICO probably falls under this, though it's open to interpretation.
  • In the ending of Kid Icarus: Of Myths and Monsters, Pit's wings fall/rip off in front of a overly happy looking sun, presumably leaving Pit to plummet to his death. No wonder it's called Kid Icarus.
    • In Kid Icarus: Uprising, Pit's wings get burned up when he insists on flying past the five-minute time limit to save Dark Pit's life. Next episode is all about Dark Pit finding the cure that will restore his wings.
  • The cursed unicorn at the pool in Daventry in King's Quest: Mask of Eternity.
  • Legacy of Kain:
    • Janus Audron, the Last of His Kind Winged Humanoid, who had his heart ripped out by Raziel's past self. Raziel's attempt to revive him is a major plot point. Not that that helped any. Later in the series we see what happens to him after Raziel succeeds in reviving him; he's captured, caged, stuck full of tubes, and drained of blood(as an immortal vampire, this doesn't kill him, only weakens him) to the point where he degenerates into a hideous monstrosity that barely has the strength to stand up.
    • Raziel himself was once the greatest of Kain's lieutenants. When he revealed his new magnificent wings, Kain jealously though in reality his motives were far more complicated had Raziel executed. Raziel was revived by the Elder God, but he was left a mere shadow of his former self. His once beautiful wings were reduced to tatters, and he himself was a hideous soul sucking wraith.
  • NieR has this as one of the major themes, some examples include:
    • The Shades in general, previously humans who have been reduced to their current shadowy forms; most 'relapse,' losing their minds and eventually die.
    • Halua having been turned into a human weapon, and then later her brother Emil.
    • P-33 is a broken death-machine he makes friends with the child Shade Kalil who teaches him to feel and care, until the player kills both of them...
    • Gretel whose armor/body is mangled by the player and whose companion, Hansel, is killed. Also by the player.
  • Trias from Planescape: Torment is an angel whose wings have been reduced to a skeletal husk during his long imprisonment, giving him a somewhat sinister appearance. As it transpired, his wings burned off from his fall. Trias only notes that all the fury of the abyss pales in comparison to the force that did that to him.
  • One Pokémon fits the trope: Necrozma. As shown in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon, it used to be a deity-like Pokémon called the "Blinding One", willingly sharing its light with all of Ultra Space (light which would come to be known as Z-Power and fuel the Z-Moves still used today). Then the ancient humans of Ultra Megalopolis tried to control it, only to end up crippling it and destroying its ability to generate light — including the light that composed most of its body. Whereas the Blinding One was a brilliant armored dragon made of golden light, now Necrozma is just a pitch black prism creature haphazardly made from its original form's armor, left in a constant state of pain and hunger that can never be sated. While Necrozma can temporarily regain its true form with the player's help, it isn't a permanent solution, and Necrozma will be dependent on Nebby and the player to share their light and ease its pain.
  • The Fan Game Pokémon Clover features the Ruined Regi Trio, which are the indestructible legendary Regi Trio in what seems to be a decayed and undead state: Regirock has turned into Regirode, with huge chunks of its body missing and looking mismatched thanks to unsuccessful attempts to rebuild itself with any stones it can find, Regice turned into Regimelt, whose whole head and part of his arms have completely melted away and Registeel turned into Regirust, who is so rusted away that it has lost one arm and two legs and the only arm remaining is barely holding on via a few wires. In adition to their original Rock, Ice and Steel types, they all now recieve a secondary Ghost-type.
  • Ein from Riviera: The Promised Land is a literal example, in that he had to lose his angel wings in order to get his weapon. This might be a subversion, though, in that he honestly doesn't care about the fact that he has no wings.
    • He is rather sensitive about it at the beginning of the game, though, and gets upset when Rose and Marietta point it out.
    • From the same series, we also have Nessiah from the Yggdra Union games. Because worse things were done to him than his wings and power being taken away, and he's made similar sacrifices voluntarily, not much attention is paid to his physical disfigurements in comparison. He does still seem to be self-conscious about it, though.
  • Salt and Sanctuary:
    • The Third Lamb. Once, a majestic hippogryph who soared the skies above the Dome of Light, protecting it from invaders and being the pride and joy of both the congregation and her owner. She had the praise of her master, a pride, and a name. But when the Untouched Inquisitor, in his unrelenting zeal, came to see sin within the Dome and subjected it to several vicious purges, she lost all of these, as they were made sacrifices by the Inquisitor, who made her into his broken thrall. The effects of this will be quite clear once you find her, to the point the quote above about imagining if someone "took a sledgehammer to it" seems rather close to the truth.
    • Exaggerated in the penultimate dungeon, the Crypt of Dead Gods. The Nameless God has been usurping the roles of every deity in history, locking them in the Crypt of Dead Gods and exploiting Gods Need Prayer Badly by intercepting and answering their prayers in their place in order to starve them to death. You cannot find most of them, what with them having decayed to very little, but The Three, those Three that are the newest gods (possibly even your gods), have been killed recently enough that their mindless corpses will assault you in their sorry state. Deities reduced to shambling horrors is a long way to fall, in terms of this trope.
  • A myth in Six Ages describes the betrayal and mutilation of Hippogriff, who never regrew her wings. (It was written after the death of Yelm forced all Riders to leave their Shining City for the alien, dangerous mortal world.) But she did realize that she didn't need wings to be great. She is now known as Gamari, the mother of all horses.
  • Koishi Komeiji from Touhou Chireiden ~ Subterranean Animism is a satori, a mind-reading youkai, that cannot read minds. Not even her own. This is due to her giving herself a Poke in the Third Eye in order to escape the fear and hatred other beings felt for her due to her ability.
  • Both the night elves and blood elves in World of Warcraft have to deal with a great loss. The night elves had to sacrifice their immortality, their isolation and their territory to save the world from demonic invasion. The blood elves lost their allies, their source of magic and much of their homeland to the Scourge and had to turn to corruptive fel magic to sustain themselves. Luckily both races have made headway into fixing things. The night elves joined with the Alliance and become protectors of nature, while the blood elves have found new allies in the Horde and new purpose and magic in the Light.

  • The muses from Girl Genius, the delicate creations of the greatest spark of the time. Most of them were destroyed or damaged when sparks tried to reverse engineer them. Known examples are Tinka, studied by Tarvek, and Otilia, found beneath Castle Heterodyne. She manages to cause some trouble in her "broken" state though.
    • Also Castle Heterodyne, an intelligent (and evil, but loyal to the Heterodynes) castle damaged in the Other's attack.
  • The Severed from Inverloch: Elves who have lost their immortality and ability to use magic. It's revealed at the end that the condition is reversible.
  • Farrago in Jack is an angel with only bloody stumps left where her wings used to be when first introduced, courtesy of the previous Lust. She eventually grows them back thanks to Jack though.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: The angel 6 Juggernaut Star takes the form of a flaming spiked skeleton, which is outlandish even by the standards of KSBD angels, which it implies was a form it obtained after it became a Thorn Knight. Its secret true form is revealed to be a gaunt woman with amputated wing stumps. As angels' spiritual bodies shift to match their mindsets, this maiming is as likely to represent a mental trauma as a physical one.
  • In The Order of the Stick, Odin, god of magic and Top God of the Northern Pantheon, is revealed to be suffering from a form of brain damage. In the previous instance of the world, the people of the Northern lands were barbarians who disregarded magic as being for idiots. As gods are shaped by how mortals imagine them, this reduced Odin to a barely lucid Cloudcuckoolander. Now that mortals believe in him again, however, it's thought that he'll recover within a few centuries.

    Web Original 
  • Equestria Chronicles has pegasi with torn wings and unicorns with broken horns... who actually seem not to care too much. They'll express their dislike of the situation, but they won't actually act as if they are doomed.
  • Tan, a character in the RP group Heaven Hell Academy, is a former guardian angel who sacrificed his wings, voice, and eyesight to save the girl he was supposed to be protecting.
  • Neopets has the Grey Faerie, a faerie whose wings have been ruined and has lost her powers. Nothing has been done with her aside from her back story sadly.
    • Though once on their short stories section in their "newspaper", someone wrote a story (maybe it was part of a short series?) that gave her a backstory. Well worth a read if they still do the news paper.
  • One of the more depressing files in the SCP Foundation is of a Pegasus whose wings have been removed and refuses to eat as a result. SCP-1481 starts out funny, being a stoner genie. It quickly becomes sad when he reveals that a previous master wished him to be like this and made it irreversible.
  • The last episode of There Will Be Brawl has Pit having his wings telekinetically ripped off.

    Western Animation 
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic has Rainbow Dash hurt her wings in "Read It And Weep". She goes stir-crazy with boredom due to being grounded and stuck in a hospital ward. She's still better off than her fellow patient who is stuck in a full body cast. Also happened in the Season 2 premiere when Discord took away the wings and horns of the non-Earth Pony Mane Cast members to make his game more "fair". Twilight and Rarity Freak Out.
  • An infamous Robot Chicken sketch features a little girl who chops off a pegasus's wings, imprisons him and whips it into taking the name "Sunnymuffins". The poor pegasus then meets his neighbor...
    Pegasus: Who are you?
    Griffon: Honeyflake, apparently.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Skooled!", Miss Heinous/Meteora breaks off Pony Head's horn to use in her plan to seize the Mewni throne.
  • In one episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, Gogo Dodo asks Buster, Babs, and Plucky to rescue his friends from a Circus of Fear. Said friends include a Dragon, a Pegasus, and a Sphynx. The poor creatures are being magically tortured to perform and there's a risk they will disappear forever if they don't return to Wackyland in time.
  • Played for Laughs in 2 Stupid Dogs. The two unicorns on Noah's Ark get their horns chewed off by the little dog who sees their horns as nothing but tasty bones.
  • In Winx Club the Trix destroy the wings of a fairy to distract Musa from their getaway from Alfea's library; they'd set the library on fire, which forces her to save her friend instead of chasing down the bad guys. This bites them in the ass, as the fairy in question was from Musa's homeworld, and rescuing her let Musa acquire her Enchantix form, which conveniently gives her the power to repair her wings instantly.