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Broken Messiah

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The first impression you get when you see these people is that they're really, really nice. They're very humble, they care about everyone and almost never hold a grudge, they're always Taking the Bullet for their friends, and even if the audience doesn't always like them, they're almost invariably loved in-universe.

Then, they discover something about themselves. Maybe they try to ignore their jealous feelings when they get caught in a Love Triangle. Maybe they wake up from a dream revealing their suppressed inner desires. Or maybe they just can't bring themselves to forgive someone who wronged their loved ones. Whatever the case, when they discover this about themselves, there's a good chance that they will enter a bout of depression, or worse, completely Freak Out. Oftentimes, their friends have a hard time understanding what the big deal is. Humans Are Flawed, after all, and because they're just so nice, they never held anyone else to the same moral standards.


Unlike Heroic Self-Deprecation, these characters do not have to be The Hero, or even a hero. HSD involves a character's feelings of inadequacy, often when confronted with a seemingly insurmountable task or haunted by a previous failure. A character is a Broken Messiah, on the other hand, if their guilt stems from emotional issues.

That does not, however, mean that it can't be Played for Laughs. This trope can actually fall almost anywhere on the Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness.

Contrast My God, What Have I Done?, in which the character's guilt is over something truly, indisputably wrong. Romantic examples may overlap with Love Hurts. The diametric opposite of But for Me, It Was Tuesday, where someone is so evil that they can commit truly heinous acts without any remorse.

Not to be confused with Broken Saints.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess is this trope. She's a first class goddess, and it's her duty to behave like one. But when another girl gets too close to Keiichi, she loses control of her powers. She's completely ashamed of that side of her.
    • In one episode of the anime, she's forced to do "bad things" for Keiichi's sake. These include reading magazines without buying them, getting drunk, and ignoring litter. And she's practically in tears over it.
  • Bleach: Orihime suffers two bouts of this.
    • When Ichigo fails to protect Orihime from Arrancar, Orihime fails to cure his depression but Rukia resolves it quickly. Orihime's jealousy over Rukia's usefulness and her own uselessness leaves her shocked and depressed because of how much she adores Rukia. Rangiku makes her understand that she and Rukia are both equally useful to Ichigo, just in different ways. Rukia herself tells Orihime she's not alone, stands by her against Urahara sidelining her from battle and brings her out of her funk for good.
    • In Hueco Mundo, her multiple Break the Cutie experiences pile on so much pressure that, when the instigator (Ulquiorra) shatters Ichigo and mutilates Uryuu in front of her, her mind splinters. When Ichigo Came Back Wrong to save her, she dissolves further, blaming herself for everything that's happened because she vowed to get stronger but didn't get strong enough.
  • Tohru Honda from Fruits Basket is an All-Loving Heroine who always tries to see the best in people and has had a positive influence on just about everyone she's befriended. However, she also obsessively sidelines her problems and desires so she can focus on taking care of other people instead of facing her own issues. It's later revealed that she has very little self-worth and an unhealthy inability to move on from her mother Kyoko's death.
  • Kagome Higurashi from Inuyasha nearly compromises the quest when she realizes that she is jealous of Kikyo for holding part of Inuyasha's heart. Combined with her own self-worth issues and The Baby's extremely cruel Breaking Lectures, it's no wonder the poor girl almost crosses the Despair Event Horizon. But then she brings herself back and tells the Manipulative Bastard "Shut Up, Hannibal!", coming back stronger.
  • Yue and Nodoka from Negima! Magister Negi Magi both go through this, because they like the same boy. Nodoka's subconscious solution, which she tries very hard to forget, further qualifies her for this trope.
  • In One Piece, Princess Shirahoshi goes through this, when she leaves her family's protection to visit the Sea Forest. She gets over it with some encouragement from Luffy.
  • Taki of Maiden Rose Can't Have Sex, Ever thanks to his status as Messianic Archetype, so when he falls in love with Klaus things really go downhill for him as he struggles between his conscience and his desires.
  • Naruto temporarily became one of these during the Five Kage Summit arc. He manages to get it back together by the end of the arc, but still feels the weight of his burden of holding the nine tailed fox.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Prince Dios was the ideal prince who would save all of the princesses in the world. However when very people he tried to save works him nearly to death. He later he became Akio, a.k.a End of the World.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX: Judai Yuki became this by the middle of season three.
  • Invoked word-for-word in the first opening to the Death Note anime. (Doushite? Boku wa kowareta Messiah?) Suitable, too, since Light starts out as a Knight Templar Big Brother, Utopia Justifies the Means, but sympathetic character, but goes totally insane when he discovers that yes, he has actually killed people.

  • The House Elves from Harry Potter will physically punish themselves for every wrong they commit, sometimes even for ones they contemplated committing. Justified, in that they had servitude so deeply engrained into them that they literally don't know any better. Dobby shows that this has become almost a subconscious reflex, as even after gaining his freedom, he struggles with the compulsion to punish himself when something goes wrong.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Frasier ventures into this quite often, and it gets Played for Laughs most of the time. For example, Niles once had lunch with his ex-wife, and lied about it to his current wife. One lie led to another, and he felt so guilty it made him hyperventilate.
  • Triunfo Del Amor applies this trope to Maria, who tries very hard to stifle the resentment she feels toward her mother for losing her as a child.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In most The World of Darkness game systems, the Karma Meter demonstrates this trope.
    • For humans in the New World of Darkness, the standard morality is 7. You can lose morality points by committing immoral acts. You are then at risk of losing morality points, which represents your worldview and value system. At zero, your character stops being playable.
    • Now here's the funny bit: the higher the morality, the smaller the faults need to be. And while gaining morality points is a long and grueling process, once you reach Paragon or Saint levels of morality, even evil thoughts or being mean in a conversation or being anything less than perfect can trigger a roll, i.e. a Heroic BSoD.

    Video Games 
  • Flonne from Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is forced to realize she is not the goody-two-shoes angel she thinks she is.
  • Litchi Faye-Ling from BlazBlue starts out as the kind hearted doctor that everyone loves, she's also seeking a cure for her mutated friend Arakune. Then eventually, she came to a realization that her past action, corrupting herself with the same mutation in a small amount, is catching up to her and she has no time to be idle, her efforts so far didn't produce any results, her only source of help that she trusted (Kokonoe) flat out refused her... if left behind, the corruption will consume and kill her. This realization drove her to desperation and eventually joining NOL, an act she was full of remorse of, compounded with the fact that two of her main co-workers/superiors turn out to be the worst men to ever exist, but despite so, whenever she could, she would still try to act like a normal version of the trope (like comforting Carl).
    • Perhaps as a sign of her broken-ness... compare her art work evolutions. In Calamity Trigger and Continuum Shift, she's still shown smiling. By Chrono Phantasma, while it's not a scowl yet, it's clear that she's no longer smiling, despite her calm and kind demeanor from the trailers and gameplay footages.
  • Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV fits this trope to a T. He was a healer of a plague that turned people into monsters, but at the cost of him taking in several of them into his own being. He was ostracized and shunned for this and forgotten by history.
    • DLC reveals his remaining sanity shattered after experimenting with Cannibalism Superpower on humans and gods. Let's make this clear: Ardyn retained some semblance of sanity after eating thousands of demons and millennia of imprisonment. All it took to truly break him was mind-reading some humans and a god who secretly hates the people who worship him. Hard to be a shepherd of the people if you know how diseased your flock is and how apathetic your gods are.
  • Tales of Symphonia: Mythos went completely insane with the death of his twin sister, falling from a hero of the people to a tyrannical despot who has become a Physical God, and tortures two worlds.

    Western Animation 
  • Jackie Chan Adventures has a moment of this when Jackie is split between his good and evil halves. His good half nearly breaks down with guilt because he accidentally stepped on a bug.
  • Optimus Prime of Transformers: Prime, surprisingly enough. He eventually realizes that his mercy may occasionally be misplaced. Thankfully, he recovers from the experience and becomes stronger for it... If slightly more violent towards his enemies. (To be fair, earning Optimus Prime's enmity generally requires doing things most would find unforgivable.)