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Fantastic Angst

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In fictional media, authors tend to avoid certain issues because they are considered too dark; these issues are very hard to justify without Unfortunate Implications or creating a Moral Dilemma. In fantasy, angst can be caused by means impossible in Real Life.

This is often used to avoid Unfortunate Implications or make the show Darker and Edgier; it can also be used to make a work more acceptable to Moral Guardians. Typically, the focus is on the suffering rather than the cause; for audience members, this makes the character sympathetic by showing that their life isn't perfect, and while the cause of their angst may be very different from the audience members' own situations, the emotion generated is similar to all — too — common Real Life situations.

While Supernatural Angst is about a character feeling angst due to something that is entirely fantastical, Fantastic Angst is about angst over an issue that does occur in Real Life, but the issue is caused by a fantastical event. For example:

Sub Tropes include:

This trait is commonly given to an Escapist Character. Sister trope of Does This Remind You of Anything?, Supernatural Angst.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Fate Testarossa was abused by her mother because she was a clone of Precia Testarossa's daughter. Her "mother" is only using her to resurrect her dead sister.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion:
    • Asuka's mother's soul was "sucked" into a giant robot. As a result, she confused her daughter with a doll and committed suicide.
      After that, it's hardly surprising Asuka graces the page image for Jerkass Woobie.
    • Rei. Not all withdrawn teenage girls with little social skills are that way because they were created as a tool to end the world, infused with a soul that once belonged to the progenitor of humanity and raised in a cold, sterile lab with the knowledge that there are clones to replace her even if she dies, but many of them can still empathize with Rei's feelings of loneliness and insignificance, her feeling of being "different from everyone else" and her problems to communicate her feelings - Some scenes from her life look remarkably like those of authentic outcast teenaged girls who were shunned for "mundane" reasons like being a geek, being shy or Intelligence Equals Isolation might encounter, like the way her classmates talk about her, the way she reads science books in a corner and how she is mistreated by more popular girls like Asuka.

  • In Anita Blake Vampire Hunter, Anita wangsts over her lifestyle of having sex with hot guys due to the hardest to dump one being a vampire, and the fact that her lifestyle, profession, and religion are at odds. Also, a lot of the sex - and relationships - are pretty nonconsensual, but in a way so divorced from either real-world equivalents or the normal considerations of situational ethics that the most appropriate level of response is more angst.
  • In The Dresden Files, the title character is an orphan because his parents were killed by an evil vampire (probably) with a magical curse.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The title character is an orphan because his parents were killed by an evil wizard with a magical curse. To make matters worse, he gets sent to live with unloving relatives because they're his closest living family and it's the only way to maintain the protective spell created by his mother's Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Both Dumbledore and Snape had flirtations with extremism as teenagers which, in turn, got someone they loved (sister and best friend/unrequited crush) killed. The extremism they got involved with just happened to be magical in nature, not the kind you'd see in real life, such as being a Nazi or terrorist (although the groups they were in had very similar beliefs and methods to real far-rightists).
    • Ginny's plot in the second book is that of an impressionable young girl who's recently been through a huge life change and having a hard time adjusting (moving from a home where she has six older brothers to keep her company to a boarding school where they all have other things to do) falling prey to an older, manipulative boy. Said older boy just happens to have gone to school fifty years previously and is doing all this preying from a magical diary that contains a piece of his soul.
  • Pact has Evan Matthieu, the ghost of a child who died of exposure while fleeing a goblin, who later gains the ability to shapeshift into a sparrow with magic lockpicking powers after becoming a wizard's Familiar. He expresses that he's kind of glad that he died (being hunted by goblins is hellish), misses his parents and friends (who he can't talk to, being a ghost), and regrets that he never got to finish several video games (he gets help in this from a friend who agrees to push the buttons while he struggles with the joystick).
  • Ida from Shaman of the Undead angsts because her parents want to send her to magical academy and marry her off to some important wizard so that she can bear him magical children. Problem 1, she wants to study Muggle psychology. Problem 2, she has no magical gift whatsoever.

    Video Games 
  • As revealed in Tiny Tina's Assault on Dragon Keep, Lilith of Borderlands was tormented a lot as a kid for being nerdy... and for her tattoos and the crazy Siren powers they came with.

    Web Comics 
  • In Kill Six Billion Demons, the angel White Chain struggles with and suffers persecution for their gender identity. This is complicated by the fact that angels have No Biological Sex and believe that having a gender at all is a sign of being infected by humanity.
  • MS Paint Adventures:
    • Homestuck: Rose Lalonde develops an alcohol problem at two points in the comic, once because she's stuck in a Bad Future and the other time because she's anxious about seeing an Alternate Dimension version of her mother.
    • Problem Sleuth sees Ace Dick lose his wife to crime, pursue vengeance until his son leaves him for his own crusade, end up lost and alone in a horrid swamp and having lost everything he values in his life, takes his own life. This all happened in an intense game of Life with the Grim Reaper.
  • NEXT!!! Sound of the Future:
    • Shine is insecure and full of self-doubt because she was unable to get her dream job of being an idol, which was caused by her being an android with a buggy voicebox.
    • Gumiya's mental and physical health suffered when he was repeatedly rejected during job interviews because of people not wanting to hire an android manufactured to be a singing robot for a human STEM job.

    Web Original 
  • Jonathan Coulton songs are made of this trope, including such things as:
    • A song about feeling uncomfortable with all the genetic enhancements one's significant other is getting.
    • "I'm Your Moon", a song Charon sings to Pluto so Pluto doesn't feel bad about not being considered a planet anymore
    • "I Crush Everything", a song about a lonely giant squid.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender has a fair share of this, perhaps most notably:
    • Aang lost everyone he'd ever known due to being frozen in an iceberg, including the only mentor he ever had. As if that weren't enough, because he is the reincarnation of the Avatar, it's his responsibility to keep the balance between the nations. He doesn't actually angst as much as you might expect, though.
    • Katara and Sokka both long for parental affection because a firebender killed their mother, while their father had to leave home to fight in the war against the Fire Nation.
    • Zuko longs for the affection of a father who kicked him out of his home and expelled him from his own country, as the result of his refusal to participate in the Agni Kai.
    • Toph was born blind, and as a result, her parents still see her as helpless and needing to be locked away for her protection, even though her Disability Superpower didn't stop her from becoming the strongest earthbender in history.
  • In Ever After High, many students transferred over from Wonderland after it was poisoned with a bom- with, uh, evil magic. The transfers are accepted by their peers, but they speak another language and act oddly compared to natives of Ever. And some of them, like Lizzie, had to leave their families behind to escape. The parallels to refugee children are pretty clear.
  • The Spectacular Spider Man: Several times in the series (notably in "Natural Selection"), Peter struggles with trying to live a normal life and earn money to support his aunt while also acting as Spider-Man and using his powers for good.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven, a human-alien hybrid, grapples with mixed feelings about his (alien) mother, who gave up her physical form so that he could be born.
    • Steven's parental figures feel like they're failing him because they feel desperately unprepared and have no idea if they're raising him right/the way his mother would have wanted; no other Half-Human Hybrids exist and they don't know how to help him balance his Gem traits with his human traits.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Numerous characters in this series are mutated as a result of the Kraang's mutagen, leading to many of them angsting over not being human anymore and/or desperately looking for a way to change back. Downplayed with Splinter, who (despite initially being horrified at his change) has grown accustomed to being a rat-mutant.
  • Young Justice: Superboy has parental issues and lack of parental bonding due to the fact that he is a clone of Superman, who is also having a hard time coping with this fact.