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Broken Bird

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Should we have wings, there would be no greater tragedy than for them to be clipped.

"Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt, and of course if it ceased to beat I should cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no—sympathy-sentiment—nonsense."

These characters (often female) are coping with a Cynicism Catalyst, a Despair Event Horizon, or a Dark and Troubled Past by becoming as cynical, stoic, and/or badass as possible.

Her deep experience and emotional detachment almost always give the impression of competence, though she doesn't always live up to her own hype. Varying between Cool Big Sis, Emotionless Girl, Little Miss Snarker, and Snark Knight, she marks herself as more experienced and worldly than the other characters, even if the Competence Zone means she herself is barely out of her teens.

In fact, she can sometimes fill a mentor role for less experienced and more idealistic characters, all the while loudly expressing her irritation with said arrangement, so no one gets the impression she's softening up. Sometimes, this is to Jerkass levels; however, she is often a sympathetic Jerk with a Heart of Gold, giving an impression of independent toughness to hide a sincere affection for the other characters.


This character was a hero herself once and failed miserably, or maybe she was abused in some way as a kid; whatever the case, her cynicism undoubtedly stems from some traumatic event in her past that destroyed her faith in just about everything. This revelation is normally accompanied by a Freak Out!, said past often delivered in a bitter diatribe towards someone who proved a bit too stubborn in their desire to know what it was. At this point, tears are guaranteed, probably more of them the less she's expressed emotion in the past. She also has a 65% chance of engaging in serious physical violence against whoever is closest at the time. This is always treated seriously and Broken Birds have a tendency to be both prone to violence and very good at it, therefore, potential Love Interests should always prepare to be at least slightly maimed during these breakdowns.


If she is cured of her emotional torment, expect any of a number of paths. At best, she will continue on as a deeper and less emotionally constipated version of who she was before... but she may also fall prey to Good Is Dumb or mutate into a Satellite Love Interest or Satellite Character. Expect Hope Is Scary on the road to recovery, unless she has an Adrenaline Makeover. Once she recovers, she's quite likely to swear not to become one ever again.

A number of Romance Novels lean on this trope when the love interest of the heroine is an Anti-Hero with a scar from the past for her to heal. Sometimes involves a bit of that one as well. Women want to Heal the Cutie instead of Break the Cutie.

This trope can be summed up as Troubled, but Cute + Dark and Troubled Past.

Popular with Byronic Hero. A subtrope of Troubled, but Cute, which sometimes they start as before becoming broken. Overlaps with Stoic Woobie and Jerkass Woobie. Also see Dark Magical Girl when the Broken Bird happened to be a Magical Girl, Rape as Backstory and Rape as Drama for when the traumatic event involved sexual violence, My Greatest Failure for when the trauma was brought on by a mistake the character made (or thinks she made) and Shellshocked Veteran when her trauma was brought by warfare. Do note that in Real Life, not everyone who experiences trauma (even the same type of trauma) will react or respond in this way; just because they don't act like or come across as this trope doesn't mean they're lying about whatever it was they experienced.

The logical extreme of this becomes an Empty Shell. Compare/contrast Stepford Smiler, Stepford Snarker, and Sour Outside, Sad Inside, for characters trying to hide their Broken Bird state. Contrast Angst? What Angst? and The Pollyanna.

Not to be confused with Broken Bird, a Naruto fanfic of the same name.


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    Fan Works 
  • Firefly in Ace Combat: The Equestrian War. Her parents were brutally killed by a griffin solider and due to a misunderstanding, she believed he was mocking her pain the last time they were face to face. She was so overcome with grief she completely broke down and it takes most of the story to recover.
  • Every. Single. Character after the Fall of Beacon in Ruby and Nora.
  • Raz, in the D. Gray Man fanfic Wanderers in the Dark. She is found by the protagonist, Allen, and is a member of the villains of the manga, a Clan settled in destroying the human race and like them, she has proved herself to be able to be quite dangerous and frightening (if you mess with someone she cares about, anyway)... However, this is a girl who has no memories of her past, has cried upon recalling people she killed (which was, by the way, the first memory she remembered, along with her best friends who are both dead). Against all odds, she decides to stay by Allen's side no matter what, even when the chance to go back home and remember her life is offered to her. The way she is written gives her a hauntingly innocence at times that is just heartbreaking.
    • And what she is the Noah of? Loneliness.
      Raz:''It seems useless, doesn't it? To cry when no one bothers to see your tears... To speak, when no one really cares to listen... It feels useless and senseless... But... I am your friend. So, I'll see your tears. Even if you don't cry them...
  • Advice and Trust: In chapter 1 Shinji and Asuka open up and talk about their pasts (their mothers' demises, their fathers' abandonment, their lack of friends, their feelings of insolation and loneliness, their self-worth and trust issues...) and realize that they were more alike than they thought:
    Asuka: What Sensei?
    Shinji: The one my father abandoned me with after my mother died in an accident with the Eva! Not that you'd understand that,
    Asuka: Me too. [...] My mother... There was an accident with Unit-02... She... died, eventually. My father... didn't mourn very long. [...] So yes, Third Child, I know exactly what that felt like!
    Shinji: Your father abandoned you after your mother was gone,
    Asuka: You have nightmares all the time about it. The memory keeps coming after you when you try to sleep,
    Shinji (nodding): It's hard to sleep. You feel lonely and cold at night, because no one ever held you after that,
    Asuka: You never had many friends before you came here. No on ever wanted to just talk to you for you.
    Shinji: Your father never explained or apologized for why he just left you.
    Asuka: No one even tried to understand your pain. No one cared.
    Shinji: You miss her every day, but don't even have any pictures, barely any memories. No one tells you about her.
    Asuka: And there was never any point in talking about it to anyone, because there was no one in the world who could understand what being an Evangelion Pilot was like,
    Shinji/Asuka (in unison): You're just like me.
  • In Power Girl story A Force of Four, Kara had two options when she landed on Earth and was told her "life" had been a lie and her family -but her cousin- was gone: breaking down or making herself stronger. She chose the latter.
    But she had to be tough. Finding out that so many years of her life were a pre-programmed lie, coming to a strange world, finding only one man of Krypton and then losing him, turning from innocence into grim experience on a planet she never made... she had to be tough, or break.
  • All This Sh*t is Twice as Weird reveals Cassandra to be this, given how many loved ones she has lost and how much testing her faith has endured.
  • The Aladdin fanfic Antiphony portrays recurring villain Mozenrath as one; he used to be a sweet, excitable child who just wanted to help people and had a strong devotion to his god. Fast-forward fourteen years of what was essentially slavery and emotional-psychological torture, and he's become a sarcastic Social Darwinist who scorns any form of faith and seeks power for himself.
  • Bait and Switch (STO): Recurring Orion character Captain Meromi Riyal of the IKS HoSbatlh had her parents murdered by a Syndicate boss and was given as a Sex Slave to a Klingon nobleman. After escaping, she became a gangster and Arms Dealer, but was eventually captured and forced to become an Indentured Slave Mook for the Klingon Defense Force. Her current boss, General Brokosh, freed her after his wife became the head of her house, but by now Meromi is bitter and bloodthirsty and seems to take pleasure only in killing enemies. She's also got a Slasher Smile that sends chills down the spine of Brokosh, a battle-hardened mercenary himself.
  • The Child of Love: Asuka lost her mother when she was four, got ditched by her father, got trained to fight giant monsters despite being just a kid, got pregnant when she was fourteen... and she always tried to overcome her troubles and becoming stronger and more self-reliant.
  • Children of an Elder God: In order to try to get over her mother going crazy and killing herself, and her father abandoning her shortly after, Asuka trained to become the best war mecha pilot ever. Thanks to find a decent mother figure she did not become as hostile to and frightened of other people as her canon self, but she still tried to be self-reliant. Through the war she lost friends, her own humanity and worse, but her reaction to each tragedy was trying becoming more badass and more independent.
  • Beth Lestrade gets this twice in Children of Time:
    • Having to watch the man you love slide down the slippery slope, then running for your life for nine months, then finding out that said love interest has done a Face–Heel Turn, then committing a Heroic Suicide... will do that to you. The timeline in which most of the above happened is retconned into never having happened, but the main players, Beth included, still retain the memories. She later tells Sherlock that she was considering shooting herself.
    • The beginning of the next season seems to imply that Season 2 might ultimately be about her Character Development, just as Season 1 was ultimately about Sherlock's. Initially after Sherlock's rejuvenation, she seems okay, but future episodes prove that she's not to the point where even Professor Moriarty was concerned about her. (She spent a year thinking that her husband was irretrievably dead and became a Death Seeker.)
  • Satsuki's portrayal in The Crimson Garment paints her as one of these. The fic attempts to delve into the adverse affects of childhood sexual abuse through several tweaks in her character. From what we see so far, she despises physical contact and seems to see it as indication of dominance. It's also implied that her desire to control and be stronger than others is to compensate for her insecurities.
  • A Crown of Stars: The preface makes a good work summarizing how badly broken Shinji and Asuka were before the beginning of the story. To make a long story short: Their mothers died and their fathers abandoned them when they four. At the age of fourteen they were forced to fight alien monsters. Their pain, their inability to reach out to each other and the war broke them down, and then they died when the world ended. Shinji gave the humanity the possibility to return and they were reborn... into a wrecked world populated with warlords, bandits and starving masses. They were turned into the tools of bloody dictators for three years, and Asuka was turned into a plaything during that time. They went through another conflict where they got shot and nearly murdered, and at the end they stuck together because they felt that no one else in the world could understand their pain, but they were so soul-weary and broken that Asuka was afraid of loving Shinji and they had no hopes of developing a real relationship.
  • Miko in Dirty Little Secrets is definitely one; she's just good at covering it up. It's a wonder she's not worse then she is; she was born from a long line of prostitutes and raised to join the 'family business', starting when she was 12... and both children she became pregnant with were aborted against her will, with the second incident rendering her barren. To make matters worse, she was happy to get pregnant the first time and spent the time up to the abortion begging to be allowed to keep her baby. Additionally, due to her valuable status, one of her boss' favorite punishments when she acted up was making her watch him beat other less productive girls. And even once she manages to escape into protective custody in the States, she's legitimately terrified that if Jack and Raf's parents found out about her past, they'd forbid the boys from seeing her ever again. Her confused relief when June tells her that she'd never dream of doing that and that she doesn't think any less of Miko is heartbreaking.
  • Doing It Right This Time: Asuka and Rei. Their reaction to a decade of abuse and mental trauma culminating with their deaths is striving to become more badass after being sent back to the past. Shinji also counts, although he is much more messed up in the head than either of the girls.
  • Evangelion 303:
    • Asuka. Prior to the beginning of the story she had been traumatized (it is implied that she tried to commit suicide at one point), and her performance -which her self-image depended hugely on- was slipping due to her past personal issues making her falling apart. She recovered... and then the experimental jet fighter that she was testing crashed, and her best friend died in the accident. She spent several months in a coma, and when she woke up she was a neurotic, short-tempered mess who blamed herself for the failure of the mission and her friend's death and hated herself for being a failure and hurting Shinji due to her out-of-control temper.
    • Rei. She was piloting a war plane and it crashed in the middle of sea. She survived, but she suffered brain damage and she spent several months in a coma. When she woke up, she had become cold and emotionless. She recovered, but she never became her former cheerful self again.
  • Fallout: Equestria - Empty Quiver: Despite being one of the much more optimistic stories set in the FoE universe, it's later learned that Crash Dive's blunt and extremely bitter qualities stem from this. Her first and last mission as a true soldier of the Enclave ended in disaster after her platoon is seemingly wiped out and she is left stranded in the wasteland. A lucky attack by a raider badly damages both wings to the point where they're little more than a charred useless mess, and the constant mental and physical agony drives her into a severe Med-X addiction. Combined with the Enclave's propaganda, this incident causes her to become so paranoid she isolates herself from the wasteland and almost forces her to commit suicide. Even after meeting up with the heroes, she's so overly protective of Night Strike - the only other Pegasus she has seen in decades - that she almost murders another member of the group over some light teasing. To make matters worse, just as Crash Dive starts to genuinely recover from this, Night Strike begins to gradually slide down this slope herself.
  • In Gensokyo 20XX, we have this with Yukari, who is the most noticeable than the others and became bitter towards her experiences during the course of the series.
  • Ghosts of Evangelion: After Third Impact, Asuka struggles to overcome her traumas and become stronger and keeping on living in spite of her daily nightmares, PTDS and getting raped again.
  • A Growing Affection has Hanabi become one after Madara's attempt to Body Surf into her.
  • HERZ: Asuka. Let's see: she lost her mother and got ditched by her father before being four. She was turned into a weapon and a tool and trained hard for ten long years to become the best as a way to validate her existence. When the time came to prove her skill she got overshadowed by a boy that -as far as she knew- was a rookie with no training. She got repeatedly defeated, humiliated and mind-raped by the enemy. She managed rising from her ashes only to be impaled, mutilated and eaten alive. And still she survived even after her heart stopped for a short while, she became a fine soldier and she even delivered a healthy child.
    Asuka leaned into the kiss. She had lost much and suffered terribly, but from the ashes, she had risen anew.
  • Higher Learning: When they got together Shinji learnt that Asuka's aggressive, stubborn and fearless behaviour had its origin in her childhood's tragedies -which mirror his own- and her desire and need to overcome them. When she got a severe breakdown he tried to reassure her by reminding her that she taught him to fight back when you are hurt.
  • From Kill la Kill AU, we have this Ryuuko, who is a bit young for one, however, she seems to have a rather cynical view of the world, especially when it comes to her poor health, having been in and out of the hospital, along with the fact that she was separated from her mother when she was two, meeting her again fairly recently. Apparently, due to the aforementioned poor health, she counts how much time she might have to live, considering death to be a release.
  • In Kitsune no Ken: Fist of the Fox, Tenten is shown to be this. After all, losing both of your parents during a year-long rampage by the Kyuushingai, having no other living relatives to take you in after the fact, bouncing about from place to place without a stable home for a long time following said orphaning, and being driven to learn how to fight just so you can take revenge on the people responsible for said orphaning can't be good for one's psyche.
  • Last Child of Krypton: Asuka devoted herself to train to become the best Humongous Mecha pilot and prepare to fight giant alien invaders to overcome being an orphan kid abandoned by her surviving parent. When the war finally broke out, nothing was going how she thought it should: her enemies beat her, the Commander berated her for anything and an interloper come from nowhere was hogging the credit. However she kept fighting and found a worthier cause to devote herself to.
  • Cinder Fall is given this interpretation in The Makings of Team CRME. She was abused as a child and lost her father because her Evil Matriarch drove him to suicide for money. Her past continues to have an effect on her as she starts assembling Team CRME. She has become a damaged sociopath and an emotionally-stunted Psychopathic Womanchild who thinks that taking her anger out on the world is acceptable. While she isn't an entirely sympathetic example, it is clear that Cinder is deeply broken due to her experiences. Her strangling Melanie Black is because she reminded Cinder of her abusive mother, showing that she hasn't moved on from her past. And her desire to be powerful is due to her resentment of her past.
  • The Kamen Rider/Metroid crossover fic, Metroid: Kamen Rider Generations has a recovering example in Mitsuzane Kureshima. And yes, Micchy has fell into Despair Event Horizon thrice in the TV series. From being an Unwitting Pawn by the likes of Sid, Redyue, and Ryoma Sengoku that he thought he had been manipulating to "killing" Kouta and let Mai die right before his very eyes are the worse for him. Since then, he has a well-hidden self-animosity and guilt over his past actions to the point he becomes more distant, he more often hides it by just making snarky remarks, or by just being normally cheerful and carefree. As the story progresses, he reaches out to Samus; who is in fact a Broken Bird herself, deciding to follow her throughout her journeys and the bounty hunter herself becomes Micchy's Second Love.
  • Mako becomes one in A Minor Miscalculation after Nui kills her brother at the Naturals Election.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion: Genocide:
    • After losing her mother, being abandoned by her father, being treated like crap by NERV, used like cannon fodder against giant monsters, being mind-raped and abandoned... Asuka wakes up after spending several months in a coma and starts to get better.
    "We make our own lives, not the lives others want for us." Stop, a part of Asuka screamed as she spoke. Just stop now. Please stop. "If you depend on others, then you are weak, because you can't live for yourself. It's always what others want and what they impose on you. Even if it's your own mother."
    • Shinji also starts to recover from his past issues after the war.
  • Once More with Feeling:
    • After going through the Angel War and the end of the world, Shinji is trying to grow a spine and be more determined and braver to not let his second chance go to waste.
    • As she is arguing with Asuka about the latter's desire to go to Okinawa, Misato reminds herself Asuka suffered terribly and lost a lot since she was three, but she always tried to become stronger and more determined.
    • After fighting Sandalphon Misato tells Asuka about her childhood, her troubles with her own father and how she tried to overcome it.
  • The One I Love Is: In chapter 6 Asuka shows Shinji she has been very, very badly hurt but she has always tried to overcome it and be a strong-willed, self-reliant girl.
    Asuka: Don't worry Shinji. So far, I've lived on my own, by my own, only for me, only for my own values and my own satisfaction. I don't need you, or anyone else for that matter. I... I don't want to be lonely anymore. If I could... I'd rather be with you then be alone. But it's too late now. And besides... half of your heart is not enough. If I can't have you all to myself, then I'd rather not have you at all...
    Shinji: Asuka...
    Asuka: It's okay. I can manage on my own.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris' conversation/therapy session with Doc Samson reveals just how much psychological trauma she's experienced over her young life. Alex's partner Louise also qualifies. The pair of them use their relationship to help each other heal.
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, we are given O.C. Stand-in Athena who is tricked into killing the only people she considers family, causing her to fly into an Unstoppable Rage whose brutality haunts her. From the same galaxy, a Rich Bitch named Jackie Jakobs is set up quite unsympathetically, but is revealed to have had reasons to act out in the ways she does.
  • Misty in Pokémon Reset Bloodlines becomes very cynical as a result of her terrible childhood. To sum it up: she was her parents' least favorite child, her sisters kicked her out of their house as soon as they could, and on top of that, she's had to deal with anti-bloodliner prejudice. Thankfully, she begins to grow out of it thanks to Ash's positive influence.
  • Quicken:
    • Emma was an average, carefree teenager... then she was assaulted and nearly raped. From that point on, she's determined to survive not matter what and doing whatever it takes because no one else will help her.
    • When she finally meets her best friend, it's implied that Taylor became this as well after losing her mother and Emma in a very short lapse of time. She looks more adult, grimmer and more physically fit.
  • Racer and the Geek features Sunny Breeze, a stallion who knows nothing but war, isolation, violence, and betrayal. He's suitably messed up to match, having problems with both post-traumatic stress disorder and severe alcoholism. Even worse is that, despite his vague age, it's readily apparent that he's so young most ponies see him as a colt. His own inability to see the good in himself is his tragic flaw. It's evident in every chapter, although chapters three and four showcase it best.
  • The pro wrestling story A Ring Of Their Own portrays Molly Holly as one of these, that getting her head shaved at WrestleMania 20 and her subsequent losing streak caused her to lose all confidence in herself and retire from wrestling.
  • Superwomen of Eva 2: Lone Heir of Krypton: During a heart-to-heart talk Asuka tells Shinji she strove to be strong-willed and excel at everything because after her mother went insane and died and her father abandoned her -making her realizing that he never loved her- she thought nobody would care about her unless she was the best.
  • In The Second Try, Asuka's life history is an endless cycle in which she loses something or someone dear to her, and she tries to get over her pain. In "Repeat" she was shattered because her daughter had disappeared, but after a while she managed to recover her fighting spirit.
  • In Supergirl story Survivors, Kara and Kal crash-land on Earth at the same time. Kara is essentially a homeless teen mother whose family regarded her as a means to an end and has been stranded in an alien, unfamiliar country with no money, food or clothes... and it's still better than her barren, sterile home. Even so she refuses to give up, manages to survive and find help and becomes the world's premier hero.
  • Tales of the Undiscovered Swords: This is what Sasanoyuki turns out to be. He reveals in his final kiwame letter that after singlehandedly emerging victorious from his tameshigiri, which essentially proved him an Absurdly Sharp Blade, he came to loathe himself for being such an overly deadly weapon that took countless lives because of said sharpness until he told himself to accept his fate as a sword and repressed his feelings, turning himself into a cold, emotionless killer.
  • Thousand Shinji: When Asuka was four her mother went crazy and hang herself (and her daughter was the one found her corpse). Shortly after her father remarried and virtually abandoned her. In response to it she tried to become stronger, tougher and fully self-reliant. Shinji discusses it at one point:
    "Passing the favour forward? Yeah. I've been helping Rei since I got here, she was far worse than she is now socially, and then you came along. You were the kid, the one in a million, who chose to become strong instead of break in response to such monumental adversity. But I could see it in your eyes, the tone of your voice in sheltered moments that you still carried the wounds, that you were more fragile than you seemed," Shinji explains.
  • The Naruto Continuation Fic White Rain has one in Lucia Van Alstyne. She witnessed her mother's murder as a child, and married into an abusive relationship. The readers can easily tell how broken she is when she regards both Ino's friendship with Sakura and Hinata's genuine love for Naruto with curiosity.
  • Evelyn in the Dragon Age: Inquisition fanfic Walking in Circles has become this trope by the time canon events starts in the story. The trauma she suffered before and during the Circles uprising plus her two years as a Tranquil has made her into a much more cynical and ruthless person to the point that she actually supports Solas' goal. Yet at the same time, she still retains her kind and caring attitude.
  • The Pokémon fic The Final Battle: Ash, due to the deaths of Pikachu and his friends. And, later revealed, Delia, who was kept as a sex slave by Team Rocket.
  • Escape From the Moon: In the sequel The Mare From the Moon, having learned empathy from her time in Equestria, Spliced's breakdown is shown for the first time when she realizes the consequences of what she did with her viral creations, and then again during her trial, getting worse as time passes in chapter 30. Over the years, as she's lost all her friends to age or dimensional barriers, she reaches the point where the emotivers call her emotionally dead - her sorrow has bottomed out and they doubt she can feel any actual emotions anymore. She can still get depressed or seem pleased, but nothing is really there.

    Film — Animated 
  • Red from The Angry Birds Movie (no pun intended). On the outside, he may appear as a Jerkass to those around him, but given he neither knew his parents nor had friends growing up, who can blame him?
  • Mittens from Bolt. Being abandoned by her owners made her snarky and abrasive.
  • Megara from Disney's Hercules. After making a Deal with the Devil and becoming a slave to Hades to save her boyfriend's soul, only to have said boyfriend dump her for another girl, she's more than a little cynical, particularly towards Hercules.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
  • Queen Elsa from Frozen used to be a happy kid, until one night, she hit her little sister in the head with her ice powers. After that incident, she tried to conceal her powers, detaching herself from her sister. She had spent thirteen years of her life in isolation and fear of herself and hurting others. However, after bringing back summer to Arendelle, she displays this trope less (particularly in the short Frozen Fever.)
    • Princess Anna from Frozen also has shades of this due to being secluded away from the world living with a sister who locked her out for 13 years, but she tries to hide it behind a cheerful facade. Unfortunately, she became a full-on Broken Bird when not only her attempts to talk out her sister regarding the Endless Winter ended up getting her struck on her heart and then sicced a giant ice monster by said sister that nearly killed her but when she attempts to get a kiss from her fiancee to thaw a frozen heart, said man never really loved her at all and then leaving her behind to die being frozen solid, causing Anna to break down believing that nobody loved her at all.
  • Agatha "Aggie" Prenderghast from ParaNorman Used to Be a Sweet Kid until she became a angry, bitter and very sad Vengeful Ghost after she was being accused of witchcraft and executed by the townspeople.
  • In Zootopia, Nick Wilde is a Rare Male Example. As a child, he was an idealistic dreamer like Judy until his dreams were broken when he was bullied and muzzled for being a fox by prey animals. This made him cynical and bitter, deciding that he was never going to let anyone see that they got to him and resign himself to being the shifty, untrustworthy fox he's expected to be.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • James Bond: More than one Bond Girl.
    • Countess Tracy Di Vincezo (Diana Rigg) from On Her Majesty's Secret Service. She's barely recovering from a traumatic divorce (and her ex husband's death), drug addiction, and her child's death. And once she and Bond are Happily Married, she's shot to death.
    • Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) from For Your Eyes Only, who joins Bond to avenge her parents' deaths with her trusty crossbow.
    • Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale (2006). Like Tracy, she's the only girl Bond thinks about leaving MI-6 for, but she turns against him by stealing his winnings to pay for her boyfriend's ransom, but dies during the exchange. And what's worse is in Quantum of Solace, we learn that her boyfriend was really an agent with QUANTUM, who staged the kidnapping.
  • Kill Bill:
    • The plot revolves around The Bride on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge to murder the assassins who crashed her wedding, killed her fiance, and ruined her life.
    • When O-Ren was seven, she watched her parents be brutally murdered right before her eyes, leading her to avenge them by hunting down their killer. At age eleven, she found him and stabbed him to death. That act of revenge proved to be a slippery slope, as she grew up having taken professional killing as her career, joining Bill's Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and eventually becoming a feared yakuza leader. Even after all that, she's still shown to be affected by her parents' death, and insulting the Chinese-American heritage she gained from them is a big Berserk Button of hers.
  • Annie Newton in The Invisible. Call her that, and she'll beat the tar out of you. Half the movie is spent learning how she was broken.
  • Battle Royale: Mitsuko Souma, despite being forced into battle royale and not wanting to play the game, takes great pleasure at killing other students in her 9th grade class for her own survival mainly since she feels no sympathy for anyone but herself regarding an incident from her childhood when her mother pimped her out to a pedophile at age 6.
  • The Interview: Sook yin-Park, a North Korean general who turns out to despise Kim Jong-un despite praising him repeatedly up to the point that she has to compliment him through terrible lies. This leads her to turn against her dictator and aid the American protagonists in overthrowing Kim.
  • Suicide Squad: Katana. The death of her husband has driven her mad and she is left with very poor temper.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss Everdeen starts out as one due to her father's death and having to be her family's main source of financial support but after the Games it turns Up to Eleven.
  • Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In Thor, we see that he is actually a relatively nice person deep down, who loves his brother and looks up to him immensely. Sure, he's manipulative most of the time, ruining Thor's coronation just because he thought Thor wasn't ready (he wasn't, but that's not the point), but learning that his whole life and family is a lie, and that he's actually part of a race he's been taught to hate his entire life is still pretty devastating. This is what ultimately makes him snap and go about violently trying to prove his worth in the worst way possible. After this, the downward spiral only continues... although he does seem to get some redemption in Thor: The Dark World and even more so in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War.
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past: Time and events have really taken their toll on the younger Charles Xavier. He lost Raven and Erik, Sean had disappeared several years prior (and is later confirmed dead at the hands of Trask), then most his teachers and students were drafted to the Vietnam War, leaving him alone except for Hank. He's taking a serum designed by McCoy that suppresses his powers and restores the use of his legs just so he can sleep at night without feeling other people's pain.
  • Theodore in Her begins the film isolated and withdrawn. He's a writer who has always been inside his own head, but completely caves in after his wife divorces him.
  • Selena in 28 Days Later has already seen society crumble around her and everyone she knows killed or infected by the time we meet her, and as a result maintains that "staying alive is as good as it gets". She ruthlessly kills her companion Mark when she suspects that he is infected, and assures Jim she would do the same to him "in a heartbeat".
  • Jyn Erso from Rogue One. As a child she watched her mother gunned down by Imperial troops, and her father effectively kidnapped to work on an Imperial weapons project, and the next time she sees him it's only for him to die in her arms after a Rebel air strike. Her guardian turned her into a Child Soldier, and then up and abandoned her, ostensibly for her own protection since his men were beginning to learn who she really was. From then on she was on her own, more or less resorting to petty crime to get by, until she ended up in an Imperial labor camp. All of these experiences leave her beaten down and jaded, to the point where she's stopped caring about anything other than her own survival, and is honestly content to just keep her head down and ignore how bad things are for everyone else under the Empire.
  • Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Despite her naive optimism, being abandoned as a child caused some serious abandonment issues, judging by the look on her face when Finn announces his plan to leave and the flashback it triggers.
    • Addressed more in The Last Jedi, when Kylo Ren deliberately presses this button to try and convince Rey to join him. Rey breaks down crying when he forces her to admit that she's always known deep down that her parents were nobodies who sold her for drinking money. It's implied that she showed so much admiration for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker because she saw them as the father figures she never had (or possibly even believed that one of them could be her real father), making the Broken Pedestal she suffers with Luke even harsher. Throughout the third act, however, Rey begins to come to terms with the fact that she can be the hero the Resistance needs no matter where she came from.
  • Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You was once a happy, relatively popular student at Padua High before her social life was ruined by rich, popular jerk Joey Donner. Ever since, she's been a quintessential Broken Bird and Deadpan Snarker who acts disgusted with the inanity of her high school existence and cynically mocks everyone around her, including teachers, her father, fellow students, and her younger sister, Bianca, whom she particularly scorns for all her grasping attempts at popularity. Kat displays many of the traits of the Broken Bird, including a tendency to punch people and a history of having been a "hero" before she became a pariah. She actually has a streak of Cool Big Sis for her sister, thought, despite constantly reminding Bianca of how annoyed she is.
  • Myra in Waterloo Bridge ran away from her Abusive Parents to live in London as a chorus-girl. Unfortunate circumstances come along, so she becomes a prostitute to get by. Not only is she hurt and lonely, she feels ashamed and cheap when confronted with the chance for happiness with Roy.

  • "Broken Wings" by Mister Mister seems to be about a girl like this, appropriately enough.
  • Take all of the mixtapes and albums of Lupe Fiasco and listen to them in order. If you notice the gradual change into darker, cynical and politically charged lyrics and stories, then congratulations, you've seen what a combination of social issues, executive meddling, and personal loss can do a person.
  • The Tori Amos song "Me and a Gun" from Little Earthquakes. The fact she throws some really bitter snark into it just makes it more so.
  • More than one Ayumi Hamasaki song has shades of this, made even worse by the poppy, energetic tune.
  • The Lady Gaga album "The Fame Monster" definitely qualifies, particularly tracks like "Monster" (in which the narrator becomes as bad as her "monster"-boyfriend) and "Speechless" ("I'll never talk again [...] I'll never love again"). Plus Gaga's more overt use of her more gothic stylings.
  • Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It", which is practically the Broken Bird anthem. Not far from this is Tina Turner herself, who left a violently abusive marriage with Ike Turner in 1978.
    What's love got to do, got to do with it?
    What's love, but a second-hand emotion?
    What's love got to do, got to do with it?
    Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?
  • Evanescence lyrics are made of this trope. A particularly good example is the (very infamous) "My Immortal", from the perspective of a person who once had a broken bird lover and has become a boken bird themselves after losing them:
    These wounds won't seem to heal, this pain is just too real.
    There's just too much that time cannot erase...
    When you cried I wiped away all of your tears
    When you screamed I'd fight away all of your fears
    And I held your hand through all of these years
    But you still have all of me...
  • Pain of Salvation's albums "The Perfect Element I" and "Remedy Lane" both feature broken birds, the former a male and female and the latter just male. TPE even has the line "A wind-beaten bird/for reasons unheard" when introducing the female broken bird of the concept.
  • Pick a Katatonia song, preferably from "Tonight's Decision" or "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (one track in the former is titled "I Break", for example). Broken. There's even a meeting of the broken birds in "Passing Bird" (one is faking it, though.)
  • Savage Garden's "To the Moon and Back" depicts the mindset of a Broken Bird in all details. "Gunning Down Romance" to an even deeper extent, though this time, it's the male singer experiencing it.
  • Demi Lovato's album "Unbroken" is about a recovering broken bird.
  • City And Colour:
    • "Fragile Bird" talks about one who keeps having Bad Dreams, who the singer promises to comfort throughout the night.
    • "O' Sister" is about the singer's sister, who is suffering from depression.
  • Marianas Trench has "Porcelain", which describes a recovering Broken Bird, who the singer sympathizes with and wants to help.
  • A few of Ingrid Michaelson's songs have this:
    • "Be OK" (which ironically has a cheerful tune) is about wanting to have a good day despite being so broken.
      "Open me up and you will see/I'm a gallery of broken hearts/I'm beyond repair, let me be/And give me back my broken parts"
    • "Locked Up" is about being emotionally guarded and cynical about love after growing up and being hurt in the past, but trying to get over that and be able to trust again.
      "Should I show them all my scars?/Cherry red, bleeding burn ... Like an angry apple tree/I throw my apples if you get too close to me"
  • Suzanne Vega's "Luka" is about a battered wife/girlfriend (or an abused child), and sung in a toneless, unemotional voice indicating how the titular character has totally given up on life.
  • Madonna's "Oh Father" (from her album Like a Prayer) is inspired by the loss of the singer's mother and the subsequent falling out she had with her father, with allusions to child abuse in the video.
  • Boyce Avenue's "Broken Angel" has shades of this; the subject is a perfectionist young woman who suffers lasting damage from an emotionally neglectful father, and blames herself—her shortcomings are the reason he was distant.
  • Billie Holiday had a tragic life where she was the victim of rape at age 11, fell into teenage prostitution, had abusive partners and suffered from severe alcohol, morphine and heroin addiction. All it culminated in her world weary Lady in Satin, where she sings about break-ups, unrequited love and all hardships of relationships in her drug ravaged voice. Only a year after recording this album would she die from cirrhosis of the liver.
  • Marina & the Diamonds' "Electra Heart" album is a physical embodiment of this trope. The character Electra Heart herself proudly brags about the fact that she happily breaks the hearts of many "just for fun", but only because she's badly damaged and heartbroken herself. Her rebellious behaviour has earned her a bad reputation, with people labelling her as a "primadonna", a "homewrecker", and a "21st-century whore". Proclaiming herself as the "queen of no identity", Electra covers up her vulnerability with a cold, steely attitude dazzled with glitter, pink dresses and the infamous heart on her cheek, which acts to hide her true feelings.
    "I'm only happy when I'm on the run, I break a million hearts just for fun, I don't belong to anyone/Instead of love, and trust, and laughter, what you get is "happy never after". But deep down, all you want is love, the pure kind we all dream of..."
  • Lana Del Rey uses this trope a fair bit in her albums, but her 2014 album "Ultraviolence" probably does this the most. As ever, Lana adapts herself to sing through various characters throughout the record with recurring motifs, that of being a young woman who finds herself trapped and participating in a chaotic world of drugs, drinking, gun crime, gang violence, abusive relationships and prostitution. It's fair enough to say that she does inhabit this in "Born to Die" (despite the album's tone being very classy, romantic and idealised) and maybe even a bit in "Honeymoon" despite becoming her own independent, much stronger person by then, but Ultraviolence, as suggested by its name, shows the ugly, rough side of Hollywood glamour that Lana has had to toughen up to in order to survive.
    "Are you gonna hurt me now? Or are you gonna hurt me later?/He hit me, and it felt like a kiss/I got your Bible, and your gun, and I'm so happy, so happy now you're gone."
  • A male example exists in "Love T.K.O.", as made famous by Teddy Pendergrass. The song is sung from the perspective of a man who, after two failed relationshops, has all but sworn off of love.
    Looking back
    Over my years
    I guess I shedded some tears
    Told myself time and time again "this time I'm gonna win"
    But another fight, things ain't right, I'm losing again
    Takes a fool to lose twice
    And start all over again

    Myth and Legend 
  • Older Than Dirt: Ereshkigal, the Mesopotamian goddess of the Netherworld, is the mythological variant of this trope to a tee. While she mainly shows up as the bitter, lonely, and adversarial older sister of the Genki Girl goddess Inanna/Ishtar, Ereshkigal's character is more elaborated elsewhere through her unhappy backstory and her encounter with the Troubled, but Cute plague god Nergal. In a rare happy ending in a mythological love story, the two outcast gods eventually resolve their differences and resolve to rule the Netherworld together. (Scholarly opinions are divided on whether this resulted in Badass Decay of her.)
  • If the Romans are to believed, Queen Dido of Carthage from The Aeneid is this. She is happily married, then her brother kills her husband and forces her to flee her homeland. Then, she has to start a new city from scratch with a few men, and then Aeneas turns up. He has a love affair with her that ends badly (he leaves her because of the Jerkass gods). Later, she loses her sanity and kills herself. To show just how badly she is broken when Aeneas leaves her, Vergil stretches to its limits the inherent flexibility of Latin word order (an effect lost in translation)—the word order and grammar are so horribly broken that the subject and direct object can be several lines apart.

    Tabletop Games 

  • Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. "Aldonza" (the song) is a great portrayal of anger and cynicism overlaying a very unhappy backstory.
  • The Witch in Into the Woods consistently embodies the cynical and badass qualities, warning Rapunzel, "the world is dark and wild." It never becomes entirely clear where the Witch's brokenness stems from, but she is persuasive enough in pointing out the failings of others to make us suspect that her ruthless and misanthropic ways came from somewhere.
  • Meg Giry in the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, due to a combination of her falling for the Phantom, who still pines for Christine, and too much time on the Casting Couch over the ten years separating the two shows. She ultimately tries to kill Christine's son; she winds up actually killing Christine.
  • Niobe from The Love of the Nightingale. Procne and Philomele become birds after their Break the Cutie.
  • In The Little Foxes, Birdie married twenty years ago into a Big, Screwed-Up Family, who took her cotton plantation and sired on her an unlikable twit of a son. She spends a lot of time drowning her sorrows in her own room, which they try to hide by lying and saying she has a headache.
  • Depending on the interpretation, Joanne from Company could be a cynical example: She is an alcoholic who has been twice divorced and is currently on her third husband. She is rather different from Bobby's other friends, spends most of the scenes making occasional snarky remarks, and is shown being extremely critical of both her husband, who clearly loves her with all his heart, and of Bobby. However, Bobby describes her as "warm", and her husband says that her behaviour comes from her being "wildly conceited" with "no self-esteem", and in the end, she also plays something of a mentorly role to Bobby, as she is the one who makes him question what he wants from a relationship.
  • Rienne Boilou in The Hammer Trinity. Loses the love of her life to an arranged marriage, loses her husband to war, gets keelhauled by pirates, loses all faith in the cause she gave her life for and finally loses the love of her life, again, to war, after an Anguished Declaration of Love.
  • Mrs Linde, Nora's childhood friend, from A Doll's House, sacrificed marrying the man she loved to marry for money to help her sick, widowed mother and little brothers. By the start of the play, she is so tired and thin Nora doesn't recognize her, and she admits she only feels adrift, not grief, now her mother and husband are both dead and she has no further task to work for.

  • Hayasaka Erika from MegaTokyo is cool, calm, sarcastic, and quick to inflict violence on anyone violating her personal space. At first thought to be the only person in the cast who wasn't awash with neuroses, she eventually turned out to be possibly the most damaged of them all. And it was the title of one of her albums.
  • In Blood Bank, most Art count as this: humans selected at a very young age to be raised as slaves for bourgeois vampires, often for sexual reasons. If they're "lucky" enough to escape being drained of blood by their masters after outliving their usefulness, they usually end up in the slums, unable to readjust to normal life. Special mention goes to Humpty Dumpty for being treated with drugs that prevent him from ever aging.
  • Erfworld:
    • Jillian Zamussels turns out to be a Broken Bird, among other things, due to being the princess of a destroyed kingdom that she never wanted in the first place, in addition to massive amounts of torture, Mind Rape, and failed attempts to Screw Destiny.
    • Her lover and torturer (yeah, it's that kind of relationship) Wanda isn't better: her backstory, explored in the "Inner Peace (Through Superior Firepower)" stories, reveals just how much she was broken, repeatedly, during her first turns of existence, slowly turning her into the ruthless and Fate-abider character she is nowadays.
    • Bunny Velvetino. Her voice was taken from her by the Great Minds after she revealed Thinkamancy secrets to her lover, Prince Ponzie. It is later revealed that these secrets involved literal Mind Rape from Doller Bill, who would rape a doll that she was mentally linked to. She is also implied to have had a hand in Ponzie's death when he tried to seize the throne, having to choose between Don King and Ponzie.
  • Questionable Content
    • Faye — though she subverts the Freak Out!, she makes jokes about it while she's in obvious pain from bringing it up, and chooses to tell Marten beforehand. Still counts, though, because she is pretty broken. After finding out the whole story, Marten is careful to explain the situation to her next potential boyfriend.
      Angus: Wait, how do I know any of this is true? Maybe you're still holding a torch for her!
      Marten: Dude, when a park ranger warns you about bears, it's not so he can keep all the bear hugs for himself.
    • More recent issues indicate that Dora may also be one, particularly regarding her relationship history and trust issues with Marten.
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Considering recent developments with her character, Tsukiko might be this - or she might just be crazy. She says that she "likes" the undead because she thinks that living people are the real monsters and therefore the undead, as their inverse, must be good. It is, however, unclear whether these opinions come from personal experience or not - if they do, she's probably this trope, and a good deal more sympathetic than she had been previously. Which wouldn't be surprising, as a lot of villains tend to have a dimension of sympathy. (Except the Big Bad himself, by admission of the creator.)
    • Miko Miyazaki could be interpreted as such as well; she was orphaned at a young age, is severely socially awkward, and her only friend is her horse. One could imagine a lonely young girl with poor social skills adopting a rigid black-and-white view of the world as a means of emotional defense - only making things worse, as her narrow-mindedness and arrogance drives people even further away from her.
  • Galatea ("Golly") in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!. is much less of an emotional disaster than she once was, but she still tries to project an air of competence and experience far beyond what she actually has (even if she is a genius).
  • In Homestuck. Aradia Megido. The poor girl is so broken by the time the game starts that she's forgotten what emotion feels like, which makes her ascention to God Tier all the more heartwarming.
  • Bathory of Crepuscule seems to be this, as revealed in more recent chapters: For hundreds of years, she's been searching for a surviving relative from the extermination of the pureblood succubi. Thankfully, she finds Angela, her aunt, and seems to be getting better because of it.
  • Sinfest:
  • The title heroine of Glorianna is carrying heavy angst from some as-yet-unspecified childhood trauma, as well as guilt over her unplanned pregnancy and subsequent abandoning of her baby.
  • The Fox Sister: Yun Hee might be warming up towards Alex, but overall she's still quite brusque and closed off.
  • Murai in Digger is a variant— her Establishing Character Moment is her collapse during the bandit raid, meaning the broken side of her was shown before the facade was.
  • Lei'ella if Inverloch puts on a ruthless facade and uses Spock Speak to intimidate people in her capacity as a thief-catcher, a job which she admits usually results in her killing someone. She's cynical about Acheron's motives, and refuses to believe the thief Varden has any capacity for goodness. This is because she's an elf "afflicted" with mortality and exiled when she was twelve; since then she's had to hide her race because she's invariably been rejected by prejudiced humans.
  • Both the protagonists of Ice. Hunter used to be quite an outspoken Granola Girl before getting raped by the Queensmen, while Cirr, nowadays close to The Stoic, has a messy Descent into Addiction as his backstory.
  • Arthur in Find Chaos started out murdering his abusive Sinister Minister father, escaped from a mental institution by "dying, a little", and got recruited as a monster assassin. He's also The Friend Nobody Likes to his organization thanks to his profound religious prejudice against everyone in the group, including himself. His life is less than happy.
  • Ophelia Banksly from Riverside Extras. She's strong, clever, sexy, and poised - probably the most skilled gangster in the Roses apart from founder Ma Oceana. She also has a Dark and Troubled Past that left her with physical scars and a tendency to dissociate, can't show weakness most of the time because of the racism and misogyny she faces as a black woman in a majority-white gang, refuses to confide in anyone (including her best friend Derry and lover Simon), and is younger than her mature, sophisticated demeanor projects.

    Web Originals 
  • Iriana Estchell of Ilivais X lived a life that amounted to abusive rape followed by even more rape, which given her condition meant more like being tortured for 15 years. By the time the story starts, she's desperately trying to cover her mushy, fragile core with stoic badassery and indifferent sadism, but isn't as good at that as she'd like. When she meets someone that loves her (or rather, manipulated into doing so), she's so confused at how she's treated that she tends to respond by hurting her even more.
  • The Nostalgia Chick:
    • In a far lighter example, Nostalgia Chick is a twisted Cute and Psycho girl with a big drinking problem.
    • The Makeover Fairy is also pretty bad, trying so hard to be happy and girly and cheerful, but always showing in the end that she's just a Nervous Wreck.
  • Survival of the Fittest: Thanks to the premise, there are a fair amount of examples of this trope due to how many cuties are broken in each version. It's either that they started out this way and only get more scarred and/or Ax-Crazy, or that they become this way due to the amount of trauma they've suffered. Either way, the island doesn't do well for mental and emotional health.
  • Red vs. Blue:
    • Agent Carolina, in the present, is one of these, having built up a cold, callous exterior that covers her sadness concerning the fates of her Freelancer comrades. Like Wash below, hanging around the Reds and Blues have helped her immensely recover the kindness she used to have.
    • Agent Washington was once an Adorkable and friendly Nice Guy, until he had the memories of a tortured AI unit uploaded into his head. This, combined with the betrayals of various friends and allies later in life, led to Wash becoming cynical and no-nonsense. After the Blues help him escape custody, however, Wash begins to recover and becomes something closer to his kinder self.
    • In Season 12, it's implied and later confirmed that Felix's experiences in the Great War against the Covenant have kind of broken him and reshaped him into the cynical, sort of-Sociopathic Hero he is today. Nope, that's his cover story. He did fight in the war and it did have an effect on him, but he was a sociopath even then and arguably only got worse.
    • It's implied that Locus' experiences in the Great War have also left him with some form of trauma, which he hides with his One-Man Army and Consummate Professional mask. Unlike Felix, it's genuine, and Felix was willing to exploit this and keep him from getting help in order to keep him by his side so he could survive their work as mercenaries.
  • In Worm, Vista, the youngest member of the Brockton Bay Wards, becomes this after Leviathan's attack on the city kills two of her teammates-including one that she had a childhood crush on-and then seeing the rest of her team slowly collapse, eventually becoming The Fatalist and accepting what she viewed as her inevitable death while still doing everything she could for her teammates.
  • RWBY:
    • By the end of Volume 3, Yang has become this. First, she is publically disgraced and arrested on internationally broadcast television, then she's told her Missing Mom Raven is still around and also cares very little about her, and then she loses her school, her promising career, all of her friends (including Penny and Pyrrha, who are fatalities, and her team-mates in RWBY who all go their separate ways) and even her right arm in the devastating terrorist attack which destroys Beacon not long afterwards. The epilogue shows that even after several weeks have passed, the normally cheerful and easygoing Yang is bedridden and under her father's care, a depressed and emotionally broken girl who angrily admonishes Blake at the mention of her name and even brushes off Ruby's affection with little care. Poor thing.
    • Blake is introduced rejecting the idea of a happy world. Her past of leaving her family to remain a member of the White Fang, being in an abusive relationship with its leader, and finally going on the run to escape the violent ways of the organization left her emotionally damaged. It shows in her obsession with stopping Torchwick from collaborating with the White Fang, which compels her to throw away her health, grades, and sanity by not sleeping, eating, studying, or socializing. She also considers herself a coward, and hates herself for her past actions. The events that transpire during her confrontation with the White Fang's leader amidst the fall of Beacon (she gets beaten and stabbed, and watches her best friend lose her arm trying to defend her) enforce her beliefs that she doesn't deserve to be loved by anyone, and that she ought to shut herself away from the world. She also becomes paranoid, surly, ill-tempered, and physically abusive to Sun, whom she treats as a nuisance that doesn't comprehend the reality of what she is going through.
  • The Neopets character Sophie the Swamp Witch started out as a sweet and innocent child, but Took A Level In Cynicism when her hometown was cursed and she was forced to flee into the woods. She was separated from her family for years afterward. Sophie is now a Grumpy Bear Solitary Sorceress.
  • Max from Camp Camp is a cynical Jerk Ass, who feels the need to drag everybody else down to his level. But it is made painfully clear, that this is driven by the fact that his parents just don't give a shit about him and dumped him in rundown summer camp without even bothering to sign him up for a specific activity. Underneath that Jerkass Façade is a heartbroken, lonely little kid.

    Western Animation 
  • Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold! is the badass variety. She mentions in one episode that she would probably go crazy if it weren't for Arnold.
  • Arcee from Transformers Prime. First she lost Tailgate to Airachnid and then Cliffjumper to Starscream. This makes Arcee the most aggressive out of all the Autobots, concerning Optimus that Arcee's anger and desire for revenge has clouded her judgment.
  • Teen Titans:
    • Raven, though she does gradually open up in the last two seasons.
    • Terra, though she tries to hide it behind a Fun Personified façade. Stick around her long enough, though, and it becomes obvious the girl has serious issues with people.
  • Karai from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles becomes one of these during the show's fourth and fifth seasons, after the turtles and Utroms exile her father to an icy asteroid.
  • Meg of Family Guy. Although it's Played for Laughs and she's a pretty big Butt-Monkey, some episodes depict her being both emotionally fragile and disturbed, derived from a desperation for love and attention.
  • Anna Blue, it doesn't get any more broken than this.
  • Mrs. Krabappel from The Simpsons is The Snark Knight variety. In her case, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender,
    • Mai. Her parents neglected her and forced her to be a "perfect child", causing her to be cynical and apathetic. Unsurprisingly, she ends up with the resident Troubled, but Cute.
    • Azula as well:
      "My own mother thought I was a monster. *Beat* She was right, of course, but it still hurt."
    • Zuko could definitely be considered a Rare Male Example. His father burned half his face and banished him, sending him on a Snipe Hunt to find the Avatar, all when he was only thirteen. And that's only the beginning. Luckily, he gets better.
    • In the sequel series The Legend of Korra, three seasons of various kinds of trauma have made Korra herself into one. After a three-year timeskip, she's gone into hiding as an earthbender, getting beat up in fight clubs for cash. None of her friends know where she is, and even her parents thought she was in Republic City. Thankfully with some help, Korra is eventually able to recover from her past traumas and retake her position as being the Avatar. By the end of the series, she is hopeful for the future again and begins a romantic relationship with her friend Asami.
    • Averted with Asami Sato despite losing her mother to murder and her father being a terrorist, but she hints that losing Korra would have most likely pushed her over the edge.
  • Charmcaster in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien. Being used by Darkstar was a huge part in making it worse.
  • Artemis from Young Justice comes from a broken home, with her mother having spent years in prison, her father being a supervillain, and her older sister, Jade, being the notorious assassin Cheshire. This has understandably made Artemis very cynical and abrasive.
  • Both Rogue and Wanda from X-Men: Evolution.
  • In "Sad About You" on Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot, the human girl Joy was a broken bird who had sworn off friendship and happy feelings after her best friend moved away, but the Care Bears managed to fix it, in large part thanks to Grumpy Bear, who helped them to see that they need to empathize with and acknowledge her feelings rather than simply try to cheer her up.
  • Marceline from Adventure Time. No sign of her mother ever appears, her biological father ranges from "neglectful" to "abusive", her father figure has magical curse alzheimers and doesn't remember her (but still sticks around, just to twist the knife), her boyfriend sold her most cherished possession, and she's had a millennium of other miscellaneous such events. Is it any wonder she plays up her vampirism to drive people away for their own good?
  • The widow Kelly Deegan in Holly Hobbie and Friends Christmas Wishes, until Holly manages to help restore her happiness by contriving to give her the solo at the Christmas pageant.
  • Enrique on Dragon Tales. According to his bio that was posted on the parents section of the show's official website, much of his general mopiness at times as well as his wariness of making new friends and trying new things came from the fact that he and his family had moved several times in his young life.
  • Kitty from Courage the Cowardly Dog lost her girlfriend to their abusive pimp and walks around wearing a creepy mask to shield herself from the cruelty of reality. Courage does everything he can to appease her and succeeds when he reunites the two.
    • Courage himself fits this trope very nicely in the episode Remembrance of Courage Past, especially when suddenly remembering his real family who was sent to space years before the show - he didn't even respond to Eustace's trademark "Ooga booga booga!" scare, which always did the trick.
  • Bojack Horseman qualifies, as he'd grown up with a Stage Mom who withheld affection unless he acted, which pretty succinctly explains why he's at best a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Lapis Lazuli of Steven Universe, especially in the episode "Jail Break." Steven is completely capable of getting her free, and alongside the Crystal Gems they'd be more than a match for Jasper and Peridot. But Lapis refuses to leave her cell because she believes that resisting would only make things worse and that the only way she can help them is by taking the reins of a fusion with Jasper and dragging them both down to the bottom of the sea forever. Lapis was also trapped inside a mirror for 6,000 years and interrogated by Homeworld soldiers who mistook her, a civilian, for a Crystal Gem. Even after everyone fled, she was stuck on the Galaxy Warp for ages until Pearl found her. In addition, her fusion with Jasper did her absolutely no good, genuinely missing Malachite, the most toxic fusion we've seen thus far. Finally, Lauren Zuke confirmed Lapis Lazuli has PTSD, as was hinted at in 'Same Old World.'
    • Pearl has been suffering from PTSD since Rose died and hasn't been the same since.
    • Despite her faux Fun Personified Demeanor, Amethyst has had a really harsh life. She said she never asked to be made. What doesn't help is that not only was she made to be a "bad" gem, but after her creation was left alone in a dark abandoned canyon for millennia without any friends. On top of that, she watched her mother figure die before her very eyes, and she was the one person she thought actually liked her. And chose to ran away from home, she even pushed Steven away, who is the LAST person to reject her for who she is. Poor Girl.
  • Of all people, the Care Bears Cousins themselves in the Care Bears: Welcome to Care-a-Lot spinoff Care Bears & Cousins starting with the episode "The Bright Stuff".
  • Heidi Turner becomes one in the 21st Season of South Park. She is stuck in an emotionally abusive relationship with Eric Cartman, receives No Sympathy from her female peers who instead constantly mocks her for the choices she made, and tries to cope with all of this stress by turning into a female version of her boyfriend. This way of thinking has caused her to physically and mentally degenerate, a fact that she realizes in the season finale before breaking up with Cartman for good.
  • Helena from Neo Yokio. After she was saved from a demonic possession, she became cynical and emotionally withdrawn.