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"I am writing a list of tragic character flaws on my dollar bills with a felt pen. I am thinking of the people in my universe and distilling for each of these people the one flaw in their character that will be their downfall—the flaw that will be their undoing. What I write are not sins; I write tragedies."
Tyler Johnson, Shampoo Planet

Heroes have a Fatal Flaw which they wrestle with on a consistent basis. This may open them up for specific conflicts later—when a protagonist's fatal flaw is encountered through the course of a plot, the audience's reaction is very tense.

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This is not to be confused with what Aristotle calls hamartia, also a key part of Tragedy. A hamartia is a mistake or error a hero makes which leads to his undoing. It is not the same as a fatal flaw (though the two often overlap). This confusion arose from the misunderstanding of Aristotle's Poetics in the 19th Century.

In classic literature, a Fatal Flaw is often what prevents a Tragic Hero from succeeding, or serves as the cause of their Tragic Mistake. It is usually some sort of character deficiency listed below or, in conventional television, an addiction of some sort. In modern television, the Fatal Flaw is more likely to lead to a Very Special Episode.

When a hero zeroes in on a villain's fatal flaw (and they usually do), do not expect them not to exploit it.

Some specific Fatal Flaws:

Note the resemblance to the Seven Deadly Sins note . Also see Virtue/Vice Codification for a more comprehensive list of vices identified by various authors throughout history.

If the Fatal Flaw doesn't play any role in the story, it's an Informed Flaw. If the flaw isn't quite so fatal, you're likely dealing with Mr. Vice Guy. If someone else ensures that the flaw is fatal, it's Flaw Exploitation. A literal fatal flaw, as often seen in science fiction and fantasy, would be Phlebotinum Breakdown and/or Achilles' Heel. If you were looking for a fatal floor, see Pit Trap or Death Course.


Examples

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    Comic Books 
  • Nico, leader of the Runaways, is an interesting take on Lust as a flaw. She's quite responsible in most ways, but when dealing with stress or trauma, she (in Nico's own words) "throws herself at the nearest warm bod". This habit doesn't cause Nico's downfall, but it frays her self-esteem and sabotages her friendships.
  • In Supergirl (Rebirth), Director Chase thinks that Kryptonians were arrogant, and their hubris led to their destruction. She also thinks that Supergirl may have Kryptonian ego issues and still has anger management issues.
  • In Watchmen, Rorschach summed up his own fatal flaw quite nicely in one moment:
  • The Joker's is a mixture of his insanity and The Only One Allowed to Defeat You stance towards Batman.
    • In general most Batman villains have a flaw related to their psychosis, which Batman naturally tends to exploit. For example:
      • Two-Face is too dependent on his coin.
      • Poison Ivy with her obsession with plants.
      • The Riddler would be a perfect thief if he wasn't always leaving riddles.
    • Batman, of course, is eaten up by guilt over his parents' deaths.
      • Batman's paranoia, manipulative tendencies and reluctance to be open with people has also caused many problems for himself, his allies and the entire world over the years.
  • Superman and his Chronic Hero Syndrome can sometimes push him into borderline martyrdom. He's also far more secretive than he needs to be, and has a lot of trouble letting people into his life.
    • Superman's Arch-Enemy Lex Luthor is a petty, prideful egomaniac who often envies Superman to the point where he gave up a chance to become a god and create a utopia in The Black Ring, because on one condition is that he can't use his power to do evil. In this case, killing Superman. To him, even godhood is meaningless if it means he must let go of his hatred towards the Man of Steel.
    • Likewise, Darkseid is overconfident, often underestimating his opponents and not using his powers to their full extent.
    • Brainiac, another Superman foe, has Control Freak tendencies, often having a Villainous Breakdown when things go south. As Superman points out, this is basically his biggest weakness. Due to his absolute need to be in control of everything, Brainiac pretty much always works alone (and his rare team-ups are guaranteed to end in backstabbing), with his only consistent 'allies' being either his machines or people under mind control. By contrast, Superman always has friends and allies backing him, often giving him the edge over the alien.
  • Hank Pym has his feelings of inadequacy, which caused him health problems when he became Giant-Man, mental problems when his worries about not being good enough for Janet led to him becoming Yellowjacket, and countless personal problems when his desire to prove himself as a meaningful member of The Avengers led to him building a robot to attack the team so he could stop it. Despite all of this, he still keeps trying to prove his worth as a superhero.
  • While Red Skull shared some of the flaws of most Silver Age supervillains such as overconfidence and excessive wrath, his biggest flaw is his dogged adherence to Nazi ideology, which can sometimes overrule even his legendary Pragmatic Villainy. Hard as it might be to believe, some of his major schemes were failures because he's a Principles Zealot — like a Stubborn Mule, he wouldn't budge from his views.
  • Across various iterations, Iron Man's has been either his narcissism or crippling alcoholism.
  • Colonel Rick Flag of the Suicide Squad is initially hailed for his devotion to completing his missions and doing his duty as a soldier. Unfortunately, he believes that same duty requires him to "carry on" for the friends and family who died in the line of duty, which leaves him with an extreme case of Survivor Guilt, culminating in him eventually going rogue. He finally realizes this flaw before setting off on one final suicide mission:
    Flag: I won't ask you to "carry on for me", Eve. That's a dead end I've found myself in. Live your life.
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Artemis realizes shortly before her death that her arrogance has blinded her to threats and the damage her own words have caused, but when she tries to apologize to Diana for it as she lays dying Diana won't have it and puts the blame for Artemis' death entirely on others.

    Fan Fiction 
  • In the .hack fanfiction .hack//G.U.: The Staircase to Nowhere, each of the Epitaph users has one physical/mental flaw that can spell the end for them in the Goddess Morganna's war; Haseo has his photophobia (his sensitivity to light), Atoli's fear of being alone, Endrance's weak lungs, and Kuhn's color blindness.
  • In the Glee fanfic Hunting the Unicorn, Blaine's Wide-Eyed Idealism has gotten him the Warblers, Kurt, an unlucky high school friend, an emotionally estranged father, and a stalker. Not to mention that he lost his virginity to a guy who did not share his belief that Sex Equals Love.
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves: Checker Monarch is a master manipulator, but her plans ultimately fall apart because of her inability to understand empathy.
  • Loved and Lost: Prince Jewelius is a cunning master manipulator, but his massive ego ends up screwing him over several times after he lets it loose. Despite launching a successful coup that tarnishes the reputations of the Princesses, the Mane Five, Spike, and Shining Armor, he decides to lure them all back to Canterlot so that he can gloat about his evil schemes and personally ensure that his cousin and aunt die. This proves to be a foolish decision as it sets in motion the events leading to his downfall and karmic death.
  • Mass Effect The Equestrian Equation: The Equines were naturally trusting and cooperative, causing Reaper Indoctrination to wreck their defenses and cost them the war.
  • In RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse, Luna's is irrational fear, mainly of becoming a tyrant like her sister, which prevents her from taking decisive action against the Deadly Decadent Court.
    • And Corona's is a mixture of self-reliance and pride. She became so obsessed with protecting her little ponies from the perils of the world, and so convinced that they could not possibly survive without her intervention, that she became a tyrant and tried to rule every last aspect of every pony's life in the name of protecting them.
  • In The Irony Of Applejack, Vigil's is the fact that he's obsessed with perfection.
  • Several show up in Fist of the Moon for the good guys, but end up not being too fatal.
    • It’s noted at several points that Ranma and Usagi have the same ones: laziness (except for training), a non-serious personality, being a Big Eater, major fans of anime and manga, and a general dislike of school.
    • Rei starts off with a mix of Pride and envy—it’s really hard for her to handle Usagi being better than her at anything, especially in light of the blonde’s flaws. This mellows out, and she later suffers from worry that she’s going to mess up and disappoint Usagi.
    • Akane has a temper, and remains mildly homophobic through the entire story.
    • Luna doesn’t appreciate the suggestion that she might be wrong.
    • Mamoru isn’t a bad guy, but he can’t really click with Usagi’s playful immaturity, meaning he doesn’t always take her or their relationship as seriously as he should. Evidenced by the fact that he privately refers to her as “the Kid”. He also feels guilty if he spends time with a female closer to his age, but doesn’t stop either.
  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: It's shown time and time again that Arial Kuyumaya's greatest flaw is her stubbornness and temper. Being infatuated with Dark, it's stated she flew into a rage every time she merely suspected that Dark was involved with someone else, and when she met Mizore, she nearly killed her in a jealous rage while repeatedly refusing to accept that Dark didn't love her like a wife. It's only after she essentially destroys Dark's opinion of her and nearly drives him over the Despair Event Horizon that she finally listens to reason and accepts that she is Dark's guardian angel/mother figure and nothing more.
  • Wisdom and Courage: Veran is completely blinded by her pride, repeatedly underestimating any threat Link and Zelda pose to her and overlooking the loose ends, such as Navi's power to heal, that bring about her downfall.
  • Sonic X: Dark Chaos: Both Maledict and Jesus' monomaniacal pride is what keeps them from understanding the terrible consequences of their endless warfare. Likewise, Tsali's vengeful wrath basically jump-started the Metarex War.
  • In Pony POV Series:
    • Discord's is Pride, his complete inability to take any level of responsibility for any of his actions, and his hedonism. Nearly every bad thing that's ever happened to him ultimately stems from one of those three things, with the last one being the entire reason he was unable to live happily with Celestia, Luna, and the Paradise Ponies as Dissy, as he could bare to give up his fun even a little bit for his loved ones.
    • Nightmare Eclipse's flaw is Wrath, as she's completely incapable of ever actually stopping her vengeance on Discord for his many crimes, even when he sincerely has had a change of heart and she's become even worse than him.
  • Where Talent Goes To Die: Reiko Mitamura's flaw is her obsession with perfection, resulting in her being unable to accept failure. As a result of this, she afraid of doing poorly on a test, ends up cheating, and commits murder in order to prevent that fact from coming to light.
  • Conversations with a Cryptid, Izuku has two major ones that lead to his downfall.
    • Izuku's Selective Obliviousness gives him strong Nerves of Steel to maintain a level head in a very fraught and dark investigation but causes him to miss subtle but vital clues until it's too late.
    • Izuku constantly picks up more and more responsibilities due to his Chronic Hero Syndrome. Izuku ends up with so many things to do that his classmates rarely see him and gets so little rest that he gets kidnapped in a moment of distraction.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters:
    • Nimue is completely unable to see human villains as a threat when compared to demons, giving her a massive blindspot.
    • Elyon's desperate need to be special blinds her to Phobos' blatant tyranny due to him making her the center of everyone's loving attention. Even when forced to face the facts, she clings to denial and refuses to hear the truth.
    • Phobos' self-centeredness, paranoia, and quick temper make him such a Bad Boss that in the end, every single one of his allies ends up turning on him.
    • According to Servantis, Queen Weira's flaw was that she wanted everyone to be happy, and thus her ability to see the best in a person seemed more akin to a defense mechanism in order to not have to face their flaws and how much harm they could bring.
  • The Many Dates of Danny Fenton: As expected, Tucker's ego. His overconfident attitude and view of himself is drawing girls like Bonnie Rockwaller from Kim Possible and Mandy from Totally Spies!, instead of girls who would actually like him.
  • The One to Make It Stay:
    • Despite her aspirations to become an investigative journalist, Alya has a bad habit of presuming that her initial conclusions about a situation are right. This makes her a Horrible Judge of Character at times, as she firmly believes that Lila is just as wonderful as she claims to be, that Marinette only dislikes her out of envy, and that Marinette has only started dating Luka as part of a plan to make her former crush Adrien jealous.
    • Chloe is self-absorbed and so used to getting everything she wants without changing her ways that she sees no real reason to do so even when she knows she's wrong. Evil Is Easy, and bullying others indulges her sense of superiority. She can't handle her actions having actual consequences that she cares about, and falls back on the familiar tactic of throwing a fit until she gets her way even when it won't work.
    • Adrien's sense of entitlement towards Ladybug ultimately proves to be this as his determined pursuit of her over her protests creates a considerable rift between them. This only grows worse as he becomes jealous of Viperion, blaming him, Ladybug and the other temporary heroes for all the problems arising while refusing to see that he's right at the roots. Worst of all, when Miracle Queen creates a Mirage of Ladybug who seems to return his interest, he doesn't question it at all despite having every logical reason to. Instead, he's so caught up in the euphoria of her finally giving in that he lets her slip the Black Cat Ring right off his finger, leading to his Secret Identity being exposed and Hawkmoth getting his hands on his Miraculous.

    Professional Wrestling 

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the system called House of the Blooded, the characters are all nobility, seemingly built for high drama and Mary/Marty Sue-ism. Each character has six characteristics, each based off of one of the major families, and there is no rolling involved. You have four points for one characteristic, three for two others, two for two more... and the sixth characteristic gets a zero, meaning you can never use it. A zero in Strength means you are too physically weak to force open a sticky door, for example, thus ensuring that all characters have an inbuilt Fatal Flaw that cannot be legally circumvented.
  • In Traveller the Fatal Flaw of the Vilani was in trying to call a halt to progress for the sake of stability. Which worked so long as they did not find an outside competitor(I.E. Earth) The Fatal Flaw of the Terrans was more complex. It was in trying to govern the thousands of conquered Vilani worlds without the experience or inclination. The Vilani system was too repressive for the Terrans to use it and the Terran system was only suited for governing a few dozen worlds.
  • This trope is present (and of course taken Up to Eleven) in Exalted:
    • The Solars, Lunars, Dragon-Blooded and Sidereals all get various versions of the Great Curse, a psychological affliction thrown at them by the Primordials for besting them in war. The Solars and Lunars enter a brief psychotic period called a Limit Break (ranging from berserker ragenote  to uncontrolled crying at the suffering of the worldnote  to becoming cold and uncaring about the suffering of othersnote  to despising others' faultsnote  and well... being a jerkassnote ), the Dragon-Blooded get a lighter version of the same, and the Sidereals can't seem to make any of their big plans work right.
    • The Abyssals, on the other hand, get Resonance. If, for some reason, they decide they don't want to go along with their masters' goals of feeding all Creation into the mouth of Oblivion and resume something approaching a mortal life, their Resonance will build until it erupts and risks destroying any emotional connections they've managed to make with the world of the living.
    • The Infernals get a similar variant, known as Torment. If they defy the will of their Yozi patrons for too long, then said patron will assume control and cause shit to go haywire. This can range from spreading a Hate Plague (Malfeas) to causing the immediate vicinity to become a lifeless and spiritual wasteland (Cecylene).
    • Even without supernatural curses or compulsions, each of the four virtues has drawbacks if you have three or more dots (and exalts have to have at least one virtue of 3+): compassionate characters have trouble making harsh decisions; temperate characters have trouble lying, cheating or going back on their word, no matter how dishonest the antagonist; valorous characters don't know how to back down from confrontation; and as for conviction, well... Oh and it's perfectly possible for a character to have 3+ in two or more virtues. If they conflict, tough luck!
    • Since Alchemicals didn't even exist when the Great Curse was handed down, they've been spared it. Nor do they have their own flaw bound as a Limit mechanic; instead, their Clarity rating measures how close their mindsets are to human as opposed to Autochthon's. Instead, each Alchemical gets their own personal problems - most notably Excessively Righteous Blossom, whose problem is that his head is up his arse; he's incredibly bad at recognising when he doesn't possess a particular talent for something, meaning that whenever his duties take him outside "stabbing monsters" and into, for example, leading troops, it all ends in tears that are of course because of someone who is not Excessively Righteous Blossom why would you even think that.
  • Every Darklord in the Ravenloft setting, no exceptions, has one, and it's always related to the crime that cursed them with their own Domain. For example, Strahd Von Zarovich's flaw is his love for Tatyana, his brother's betrothed. This desire led him to become a vampire, murder his brother, and - most likely - cause her death, which condemned him to his Self-Inflicted Hell forever. He can never have her, but is constantly tormented by visions of her and women who look just like her, both of which often cause him to take avoidable risks and make mistakes. If one hopes to have even a slim chance of defeating a Darklord, they must know what the flaw is and how to exploit it.
  • White Wolf are generally pretty fond of this trope. Changeling: The Dreaming and Vampire: The Masquerade are particularly good examples as every sub-flavour of supernatural ("Kith" in Changeling, "Clan" in Vampire) has its own supernatural disadvantage.
  • The New World of Darkness also has the option during character creation of giving a character a flaw which could potentially hinder them and - if done right - give extra experience points. Some of the flaws include addictions, Coward, Forgetful, and Behavior Blind. You are also required to select a Vice, which gives you a Willpower reward for doing something stupid in pursuit of it.
  • Warhammer 40,000
    • The Emperor's arrogance and detachment from humanity. He never felt the need to explain himself, and assumed that no one would betray or disobey him regardless of what he did. He also couldn't comprehend people's seeming need to believe in a higher power, and thus never believed that his own anti-religious actions would eventually lead to his people worshiping him, as the priest in The Last Church rightly observed.
    • The Space Marines' blind obedience to their Primarchs.
    • The Eldar's single-mindedness. This leads to the Dark Eldar's continued debauchery and the Craftworld Eldar's Crippling Overspecialization.
    • The Necrontyr's jealousy of the Eldar's long life which led them to pledge their services to the C'Tan.
    • The C'Tan's gluttony which led them to feast on each other.
    • The Chaos Gods' selfishness which is why cooperation between them is impossible, and ultimately why they will never win.
    • The Orks' love of fighting for its own sake.
    • The Tau's belief in The Greater Good. It's heavily implied their tolerance for other cultures and liberal ideology will lead to the extinction of their species, especially in a universe where Chaos exists. Yes, you just read that correctly. Latter editions redefined this to being too trusting of the Ethereal Caste's teachings, with the Ethereals themselves intentionally hiding unpleasant truths, that they're completely not prepared to face some of the threats out there or seeing some of their side's own questionable actions and hypocrisy.
    • The Ethereal Caste it self has adopted a belief that the T'au would be better off not knowing about what goes on throughout the rest of the galaxy, out of either fear that the truth would shake the faith in "The Greater Good" or simply losing their political power, mirroring several of the same mistakes the Emperor made with the Imperium.
    • The Adeptus Mechanicus' insatiable curiosity for Lost Technology has greatly slowed the Imperium's ability and willingness to adopt new designs, causing further items to become Lost Technology due to their unwillingness to make or study anything that lacks an available Standard Template Construction. As well as accidentally awakening a number of Necron Tombs.
    • Most of the primarchs had one:
    • The Lion was a Horrible Judge of Character who couldn't read or relate to other people.
    • Jaghatai was a loner who hardly ever associated with any of his brothers, so when the Heresy kicked off, he could trust nobody and nobody could trust him.
    • Leman Russ had Undying Loyalty which meant he never questioned orders even when they were questionable, like being ordered to burn an entire world. Also, his lack of tact made him The Brother Nobody Liked.
    • Rogal Dorn's Determinator tendencies often translated as Attack! Attack! Attack! in battle. He didn't know when to stop. The Iron Cage incident exploited this and his legion was decimated as a result.
    • Roboute Guilliman had a need for control and orthodoxy that often made his thinking predictable and inflexible. This was how Fulgrim ambushed and wounded him.
    • Fulgrim had an obsession with emulating his father and perfecting himself that drove him to madness.
    • Perturabo always felt like his father and his brothers never valued him or his accomplishments, so when the Heresy happened he fell in line with the one brother who didn't treat him as a Butt-Monkey.
    • Konrad's unflinching desire for justice made him a brutal psychopath.
    • Angron... Where to begin? His uncontrollable rage, his obsession with avenging his comrades, his resentment against his father for letting them all die, his inability to relate with any of his brothers because of the pain of losing his old ones on his homeworld, his Never My Fault tendencies which made him very hard to like... Poor guy.
    • Mortarian's confidence issues led to him seeing council from the wrong people.
    • Magnus recklessly and arrogantly sought knowledge and power wherever he could, which led to him turning to Chaos.
    • Lorgar always sought a higher meaning to dedicate himself to. When the Emperor rejected him, he turned to Chaos.
    • Alpharius' desire to constantly look like the most brilliant person in the room ironically made him very easy to manipulate for both Chaos and the Cabal. Also, his Complexity Addiction which eventually resulted in his death at the hands of Dorn.
    • And finally, Horus, who above all other things wanted glory. He hated sharing credit with his brothers and eventually he hated sharing credit with the Emperor.
  • In Werewolf The Apocalypse, several Time of Judgment scenarios show how fatal flaws undermined the various shape-changers.
    • The Nuwisha alienated many Garou with their trickster ways. When the Wyrm targeted the Nuwisha for genocide, their reputation created difficulties for them when they sought refuge among the Garou.
    • The Black Furies naively revered the Wyld for much of their history. This spelled doom for the tribe when a quarter of its members contracted the Wyld-tainted Metamorphic Plague.
    • The Get of Fenris always placed too much emphasis on relentless combat and too little on subtlety. This gung-ho attitude drove the tribe to charge head-first into subterranean tunnels to fight the Black Spiral Dancers. Even when it was obvious that the Black Spirals were luring them deeper into the tunnels with defensive feint traps, the Get pursued their prey anyway, until the tribe fell to the Wyrm.
    • The Uktena's close study of the Wyrm always worried the other tribes, and their strategy of binding banes under caerns was dangerous. In one Time of Judgment scenario, these bound banes corrupted the tribe's Bane Tenders, who in turn corrupted the rest of the Uktena.
    • The Red Talon's uninhibited hatred of humans led them to eat human flesh. The Red Talons contracted a prion disease from eating human flesh, which they in turn passed on to other wolves, annihilating almost all of their wolf kinfolk.

    Theater 
  • Older Than Feudalism: Pretty much all ancient Greek tragedies had a main character or characters with a hamartia, which is often translated to English as "fatal flaw." It was part of the basic structure for an Ancient Greek tragedy, according to Aristotle. Oedipus was headstrong and didn't know when to stop, Creon in Antigone was proud and was intent on making an example out of Antigone, Antigone was stubbornly committed to her traitorous brother...
  • William Shakespeare loves to give these to characters in his tragedies:
    • Brutus is extremely honorable and expects others to be, or possibly self-centered and susceptible to flattery.
    • Richard, Duke of Gloucester, a.k.a Richard III, has a callous disregard for human life and an irrational lust for the crown.
    • Macbeth is blinded by power and paranoia and plagued by guilt. He's also very wrathful.
    • Lady Macbeth is overly ambitious.
    • Hamlet waited too long, and is very likely crazy. He does have a particular flaw, but what it is depends on interpretation and how he is presented. And yet in every production he is completely aware about this:
      "So, oft it chances in particular men,
      That for some vicious mole of nature in them...
      Carrying, I say, the stamp of one defect,
      Being nature's livery, or fortune's star,
      Their virtues else - be they as pure as grace,
      As infinite as man may undergo -
      Shall in the general censure take corruption
      From that particular fault."
    • Romeo and Juliet are so obsessed with each other they forget about anything else. Romeo is a bit of a hothead, too. Friar Lawrence also thought his plan was Crazy Enough to Work.
    • Antony and Cleopatra similarly allow their obsessions with one another to override any sensible political judgement, so that they needlessly make an enemy of Octavian.
    • Othello is too rash, not to mention gullible (to be more precise, he believes the people he shouldn't and doesn't believe the ones he should) and prone to jealousy. In turn, Iago is a Consummate Liar.
    • King Lear is far too proud. This causes him to exile and disown his beloved, youngest daughter who tells him the truth and gets himself stabbed in the back by his two eldest daughters who tell him what he wants to hear.
    • Goneril and Regan (Lear's back-stabbing daughters) are destroyed by their shared fatal flaw: lust. Their mutual attraction to Edmund from Act IV onward turns them against each other, culminating in a Murder-Suicide during the final scene.
    • Coriolanus is horribly arrogant and contemptuous of both the common people of Rome and his fellow politicians. He also flies into a near-murderous rage whenever someone calls him a traitor.
  • Shown explicitly in Arthur Miller's play Death of a Salesman. The main character, Willy Loman, is so entranced with his own dreams and desires that he denies and ignores anything contrary to his beliefs. Willy's conviction that just being well liked is enough to lead to success eventually leads to his downfall, as he can't understand why his sons, who were popular in high school, can't seem to get successful jobs. After Willy commits suicide, the play ends as a "Shaggy Dog" Story, with nobody attending Willy's funeral. One of Willy's sons even lampshades his father's Fatal Flaw.
  • In Miller's A View from the Bridge, Eddie Carbone's Fatal Flaw is his unrealized love for his niece, Catherine.
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street: Sweeney Todd's obsession with revenge against Judge Turpin (combined with waiting a little too long the first time he had him in his hands) ends up costing him everything in the end (as well as his willingness to trust someone he really shouldn't have concerning his wife's fate).
  • In Electra, the title character's unrelenting lust for revenge combined with her nigh-incestuous obsession with her brother, Orestes, and her father, Agamemnon, makes for her fatal flaw.
  • My Fair Lady: Higgins' superior attitude causes Elisa to leave him.
  • Nancy's misplaced Undying Loyalty to the monstrous Bill Sykes in Oliver!.
  • The Phantom of the Opera and Love Never Dies:
    • Christine's love for her late father which The Phantom plays upon.
    • The Phantom's obsession for Christine.
    • Raoul doesn't listen to other people's advice.
    • Madame Giry's bitterness at The Phantom not appreciating her.
    • Meg's need to please her mother and the Phantom.
  • Judas in Jesus Christ Superstar is doomed by old fashioned pride. Just because he's Jesus's right hand he automatically thinks he knows him better than anyone. He thinks his betrayal is for the best but he's just another part of God's plan so he kills himself when he realizes he has no control over his life.
  • Hamilton
    • Alexander is immoveable when it comes to matters of honor, making him insensitive to the needs of others.
    • Burr is too much of The Stoic, making Alexander think he is unscrupulous. Burr is actually quite emotional but he also has terrible timing.
  • Camelot is doomed by King Arthur's idealism and belief in people which blind him to Guinevere's infidelity and Mordred's scheming.

    Toys 
  • The Franchise/Transformers, with its Loads and Loads of Characters and multiple Alternate Universes has numerous characters with well-known flaws that are constant throughout the franchise:
    • Megatron is often a Bad Boss, and more often than not has the flaws of Pride, Wrath and Greed.
    • Starscream, being the Trope Namer, lusts for power and isn't above taking action that directly harms his own faction to gain said power. The Marvel Comics version infamously had a higher kill count of named characters than Unicron!
    • Rodimus Prime is often viewed both in-universe and among fans as a Sucksessor to Optimus Prime. He himself often suffers from self-doubt and is prone to second guessing himself. In some universes, he grows out of it and becomes a capable leader in his own right. In others, he's glad to let someone else take over as leader, especially if Optimus is somehow brought back to life.
    • Optimus Prime has two famous fatal flaws: his willingness to sacrifice himself for a noble cause and his unwillingness to fight the war with utter ruthlessness. The first has become a sort of Running Gag for him, while the second is usually justified by him fearing that fighting the way Megatron does would be his own personal Start of Darkness.

     Visual Novels 
  • Corpse Party: Naomi is very much your typical Tsundere. Cute, but has a tendency to let her temper get the best of her, and is unable to admit her true feelings. Unfortunately, this is not Played for Laughs or seen as cute, as her temper, and inability to apologize, ends up getting Seiko killed.
  • Fate/stay night: Shirou's selfless need to help others is identified as a sign of his twisted, distorted view of the world pretty much right off the bat. What this really means, though, and the extent to which his distortion reaches, is only fully revealed in the latter routes.
    • Archer's flaw was his idealism which led him to being estranged from other people and finally executed for crimes he did not commit. He might have accepted this but his idealism also led to him becoming a Counter-Guardian, an existence which consisted solely of killing people rather than saving them.
    • Sakura's fatal flaw is her self image, which is horrible enough to become the primary cause for everything going FUBAR in Heaven's Feel.
    • Kiritsugu wanted to save the world. It cost him his wife, his daughter, and his life. He admitted that he had never done a single act of good, nor saved a single person, until he pulled Shirou from the fire which was caused by his own actions.
    • Kotomine is unable to find any joy or pleasure in anything good, and can only find satisfaction or happiness in the suffering of others. He struggled for a long time to deny this flaw, to work around it, or to correct it, even going so far as to marry and have a child. His only sadness upon her death was regret that he hadn't killed her himself. With the help of Gilgamesh, he surrendered to his own need for evil.
    • Saber's selflessness was her downfall in life. As King Arthur, she chose to become her ideal of the perfect regent, ruling without surrendering to her emotions and taking every action possible for the good and safety of her kingdom. However her perfectly just rule and emotional distance from the people led to many feeling she was in some way inhuman. This in turn led to civil war started by Mordred, the "son" created by Morgan le Fay whose love she rejected and subsequently allowed to turn to hate, and her death.
    • If Gilgamesh ever ever fought at full power, no one and no Hero in the Holy Grail War would be capable of defeating him. But due to his arrogance he never fights at his full potential and underestimates his opponents, and thus he gives them just enough of an edge in that overconfidence to surprise and finish him before he can correct his mistake.
  • Explored with each character on Illusionary Trauma, with each route showing the flaw of the character and how it affects them.
  • Quite few show up in the Danganronpa series, and often result in characters dying or killing one another.
    • Mondo Owada's is his temper and sense of inadequacy. In his backstory, he, struggling with feelings of inferiority to his brother Diaiya, challenges Daiya to a race, resulting in Daiya dying to save Mondo. In Chapter 2, he, jealous of Chihiro's sense of strength, and emotionally disturbed at the prospect of the aforementioned incident coming to light, accidentally kills Chihiro in a fit of rage.
    • Peko Pekoyama is unable to see herself as anything other than Fuyuhiko's tool, viewing herself and everyone else as expendable, which leads her to kill Mahiru under the assumption that Fuyuhiko would be considered the true mastermind, and thus graduate after everyone else convicted her.
    • Fuyuhiko and Mahiru both have fairly hot tempers and argumentative personalities, which frequently causes them to butt heads. Because of this, their meeting to discuss what happened in "Twilight Syndrome Murder Mystery" (which reveals that Fuyuhiko killed Mahiru's friend in revenge for his little sister's death), quickly gets out of hand, resulting in Peko killing Mahiru out of a belief that Fuyuhiko wanted Mahiru dead.
    • Kaede Akamatsu has a tendency to push her own personal sense of justice (what she believes is "right"), regardless of the consequences, which leads her to setting a trap to catch the Mastermind, even though she doesn't even know for definite that there is one. There is a mastermind, but Kaede's attempt to set a trap and kill the mastermind results in her being framed for the mastermind killing Rantaro, and thus being executed.
    • Gonta Gokuhara is very gullible, which makes him easily manipulated by Kokichi and really comes back to bite him when Kokichi manipulates him to killing Miu.
    • Miu Iruma's is cowardice, as she is unable to put aside her fear that one of the other students may kill her and use her talent to work together, thus leading to her plotting to kill Kokichi and graduate, an attempt that is thwarted when Gonta kills her on Kokichi's suggestion.
    • Tenko Chabashira's protectiveness over Himiko almost directly results in her death, literally volunteering to take Himiko's face in a death trap, albeit unknowingly.
    • Kaito Momota's arbitrary trust in people is often completely misguided, and while he does have a point about The Power of Friendship, this attitude nearly gets everyone killed in the fourth chapter because the Awful Truth is too much for him to bear.
    • Kokichi's is his constant lying to everyone. Though his lying tendencies do help out the group and allow him to outwit the culprits several times, it also gets in the way when he's genuinely trying to accomplish a goal and the other students don't believe him. It really comes back to bite him in the aftermath of Chapter Four Miu and Gonta are dead, which is almost entirely his fault, and the group turn their backs on him when he falsely claims to be the Mastermind. When the group are shown a Flashback Light concerning Ultimate Despair, they assume Kokichi is a member. When Kokichi kidnaps Kaito, Maki goes after Kokichi and confronts him. When Kokichi tells her (truthfully) that he has no idea what she's talking about, Maki naturally doesn't believe him and shoots him with a poisoned arrow, which will slowly kill him.
  • Makoto Itou, the protagonist of School Days, is a poor communicator and extremely indecisive, traits that do not serve him well when multiple girls start fighting for his affections. In the bad endings, these flaws can be literally fatal for either him or one of the girls he's involved with.
    • How it's played depends on the particular adaptation. In the original visual novel this can be played straight or subverted since the player controls Makoto's choices. In the anime he's these with a heaping of Jerkass thrown in for good measure. In the manga it's played more sympathetically, with Makoto being more genuinely unable to decide on what to do, but because he takes too long to commit to a decision, the situation still ends tragically.
  • In The House in Fata Morgana, two of the three people who ended up killing Morgana have serious fatal flaws that result in everything going wrong for all of them.
    • Mell's is cowardice. He imprisons Morgana from his fear of Yukimasa, in spite of his beliefs that he's doing wrong. He refuses to tell anyone or speak against the lord and Yukimasa because he's afraid. It is noted that while his fear is understandable, it ultimately ended up causing Morgana's death.
    • Jacopo's is pride. In his pride, he refuses to talk to anybody about his problems, which only makes everything worse for everyone and ends up in him killing almost everyone he cared about before he became a lord, and dying by one of the few remaining ones in turn.
  • Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair
    • Rie's fatal flaw, by her own admission, is her adamant refusal to suspect her friends of any wrongdoing, especially not her best friend Runa, even when faced with the possibility that there's a murderer among them. This leads to some friction between her and Taiko, the latter of whom's investigating the killings and considers Runa a possible suspect, although Runa is, indeed, innocent.
    • Taiko's fatal flaw is his tendency to let his friendship with Kotoba cloud his judgment. To his credit, he doesn't hesitate to call Kotoba out when he takes his perverted antics too far, but he's also initially unwilling to believe that Kotoba was stalking Momoko, or that she'd used him in her plan. After Kotoba is badly burned or killed(depending on player choices) as a result of the killer's plan, Taiko becomes irrational, and insists that Kamen is guilty, even though his theory has more than a few holes in it.
    • Momoko's fatal flaw is her trust issues. In the past, she was overly trusting, resulting in many people taking advantage of her. As a result, she became unable to trust others, apart from her best friend Kamen and her boyfriend Hiro, and it took two years for her to truly open up to the former. Runa suspects that if Momoko was betrayed by either of the two people closest to her, it would break her, and for good reason. When Kamen tried to warn Momoko that Hiro tried to cheat on her with Kamen, Momoko refused to believe her, and threatened to end their friendship if Kamen continued trying to get between them. Momoko then discovered messages from Hiro on Kamen's phone, and concluding that Hiro and Kamen had betrayed her, plotted to murder Hiro, kill herself and frame Kamen.

    Web Animation 
  • Happy Tree Friends: Almost all the characters have fatal flaws. Lumpy is inept at everything he does, Nutty is constantly hyperactive and addicted to sugar. Flaky has fears and phobias about just about anything and everything. These flaws do indeed prove to be fatal by the end of the episode. Sgt. Flippy's untreated post-traumatic stress disorder, always proves to be fatal for everyone else around him by the end of the episode.
  • RWBY:
    • Yang's short temper and berserker tendencies repeatedly put her in danger. She was easily frustrated when she couldn't land a hit on Neo and could not attack precisely because of it, leading to her getting knocked unconscious and almost killed. Adam Taurus deliberately exploited it by injuring Blake, sending Yang into a rage. Yang attacks fist-first, which allows Adam to easily cut off her arm. While she's recovering from her injuries, her father lectures her about this weakness and guides her in what she needs to do to start overcoming it.
    • Cinder has a nasty combination of egomania, sadism, and an insatiable hunger for power. She wants to be powerful and feared at the expense of everyone else. If someone she perceives as beneath her gets the better of her, she will pay them back in the worst way possible, even if doing so is either pointless or detrimental to the longterm plan. If she thinks there's a way to fulfill her mission and get what she wants she'll go for it, no matter how risky it is. Her cruel, arrogant lust for power finally gets the better of her near the end of Volume 5. When she learned that Ruby and her friends were at Haven, she confronted them when ignoring them would have gotten them to their goal so much faster, her spiteful attack on Weiss because Jaune got in a lucky hit lead to Jaune unlocking his Semblance and her attempt to steal that Maiden Power by attacking Vernal lead to her being blindsided and defeated by the real Maiden, Raven. These actions cost Salem a set of Maiden Powers and the Relic of Knowledge.
    • White Fang High Leader, Sienna Khan sums up Adam Taurus's weakness as short-sightedness. He possesses the charisma to lead Vale's faction of the White Fang in any endeavour he supports; even when many Faunus lose their lives during the Volume 2 finale, he is confident that his followers will continue to do his bidding. Claiming he's inspired by Sienna's strength, he joins forces with Salem to destroy Beacon Academy. Sienna is furious because Adam cannot see that his actions have justified humanity's hatred and fear of the Faunus and that the White Fang is now more of a target than it ever was. Blake explains to Sun that Adam symbolises the concept of 'spite' to her; the world hurt him, so he intends to hurt the world right back; he neither cares nor comprehends the wider consequences of his actions. He believes in Faunus superiority and plans for a day when humanity will be forced to serve the Faunus, but he's willing to ruin his own plans for short-term gain, such as the destruction of Beacon Academy or putting a hit out on Blake's family just because they oppose him. Murdering Sienna to obtain control of the White Fang and trying to assassinate the Belladonnas motivates a previously neutral Menagerie to form an army for the sole purpose of stopping him from doing to Haven Academy what he did to Beacon; his ability to control the White Fang is therefore destroyed by his own weakness almost as soon as he set his plans in motion.
    • Ozpin's secrecy is his greatest flaw. He is obsessed with keeping what he knows about the situation hidden under wraps, terrified that a full disclosure will cause allies to turn against him. Unfortunately, this refusal to be forthcoming alienates his allies anyway. While taking the Relic of Knowledge on public transport, Ozpin keeps the fact that the Relic can draw Grimm just as well as negative emotions a secret until after a Grimm attack, and only after someone has died. Ozpin's first reincarnation actually joined Salem to pull a God Guise and rule the world together with her. When he developed cold feet, he chose to take their daughters and sneak off into the night rather than talk it out. When she caught them, the resulting battle killed the girls, and created a cycle of pain and hatred for both of them.
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device the fatal flaw is Arrogance. Like in Warhammer 40,000 the Emperor staunchly refuses to admit that he was wrong but even more than that constantly belittles everyone including his most loyal Custodian "Little Kitten" and thinks he's smarter and greater than everyone else (which he is). By doing this he causes Horus to start the Horus Heresy and put him on the Golden Throne and unable to communicate for ten millennium, Magnus the Red falling to Chaos after he failed to heed his warnings, lose Kitten's faith in him along with the position of Captain-General of the Adeptus Custodes, and cause Magnus to try to run the Imperium himself. It's Played for Laughs in "The Emperor and Kitten Play a Children's Card Game" short where the Emperor gives Kitten a "terrible" Yu-Gi-Oh! deck so he can beat Kitten in two turns with a deliberately broken deck that takes the bulk of the episode to do. Only to be beaten with two cards that exploit the fatal weakness of the Emp's strategy. He doesn't take losing very well.
    • As the Emperor says "Like fucking father, like fucking son": Magnus the Red has the same problem of arrogance as the Emperor. Possessing great wisdom and knowledge Magnus believes himself to be smarter and better than everyone around him (which he is), including his father (which he's not), but his arrogance is also very fragile as he complains like a whiny teenager when his father bullies him (which is a lot).
  • In Red vs. Blue:
    • Carolina's Pride and her need to be better than Agent Texas has caused several issues for herself, her teammates and others. By taking the two A.I. meant for Washington and South so she could compete with Tex, Carolina only fueled South's envy and eventually resulting in South leaving her brother for dead. During a training simulation with Tex to capture the flag, Carolina accidentally killed Biff, Temple's friend and callously dismissed the event, having been more focused on defeating Tex. This would lead to Temple's Start of Darkness and years later, hatch a plot to kill all freelancers.
    • Speaking of South Dakota, her fatal flaw is Jealousy. She can't stand being Always Second Best to her brother, and Washington preventing her from getting an A.I. like North Dakota (by having a mental breakdown when implanted with Epsilon, but details) led to her resenting him and potentially her later betrayal.
    • Washington's flaw is Wrath. Despite being a generally nice person, when he feels that he's wronged, he'll go to some spectacular lengths to get vengeance. This is why he brought down Project Freelancer and allied with the Meta against the Reds and Blues. His time with the Blood Gulch Crew has softened him up considerably.
    • Sarge's flaw is his need for war; he's a Shell-Shocked Veteran who doesn't know what to do with himself if he isn't fighting someone. This is why he's so adamant on fighting the Blues even when it's fairly obvious that the fight is unnecessary and made-up. It's also why he temporarily joins the Blues and Reds before coming to his senses.
    • Grif's is his Sloth, but not in the normal way; he's prone to being an Achilles in His Tent.
    • Simmons'is need for approval; he's such a kiss-ass partially because he sees Sarge as a replacement father figure, and he's afraid of standing up for himself.
    • Tucker's fatal flaw is surprisingly not Lust. It's his tendency to make reckless decisions. It's this flaw that causes Wash to get shot in the battle with the Blues and Reds, taking him and Locus out of the equation and later giving him brain damage.
    • Felix's fatal flaw is his massive ego. Felix ultimately causes more problems for himself than he can deal with by being as boastful and arrogant as he possibly can to people he should really just shoot dead when he has a chance. Also if he feels even the slightest bit upstaged in any way he will quickly abandon rational thought just to soothe his injured pride. This trait eventually gets him killed. He went after the Reds and Blues because he couldn't stand that they nearly killed him when destroying the Purge Tower and was horribly outmatched. It also causes Locus to turn against him in the end because Locus realizes that Felix knew he couldn't cope with the trauma of war and went out of his way to keep Locus under his control by not letting him do so. The reason for that? Locus was the better soldier.
  • Dreamscape: The Overlord of Evil's god complex makes him believe he is invincible and holds all the cards, which means he is not prepared when the tables get turned on him.

    Web Comics 
  • The Order of the Stick:
    • Vaarsuvius has the fatal flaw of Pride in their magic power and intellect, which both leaves them wide open for the trauma factor of being completely powerless to stop horrible things from happening to their friends and loved ones and drives them to accept a Deal with the Devil rather than experience that feeling of helplessness again. Later they start working on that, though, and are limiting themselves to low-level enhancements unless they need them, as opposed to just going all out.
    • Redcloak, whose inability (Conviction) to back down from the path and plan he's chosen, despite all the senseless sacrifices, really bites him in Start of Darkness.
    • Haley's flaw is greed, although unlike most examples, she's vaguely justified in this: her father is being ransomed for a small fortune and she became an adventurer to get enough money to save him from further imprisonment. At one point, the gold and treasure she owns is destroyed in a fire, and Haley's shock is so great that it renders her literally unable to speak for the next hundred or so strips. (One of the reasons she likes Elan so much is because his presence encourages her away from this.)
    • Miko Miyazaki, a massive Knight Templar who refuses to believe that anything she does is wrong. Instead, she imagines a massive plot brewing behind the scenes just to enable this belief. It's only when she's moments away from death that she starts to question any of her actions, but by then, it's way too late.
    • Nale is a Smug Snake who thinks It's All About Me. His massive ego and tendency to slip into Evil Gloating have only hampered his ability to competently execute plans in the past, resulting in numerous defeats and a trail of kobold corpses in his wake. It's even noted in-universe that if Nale wasn't such an arrogant egomaniac, he would actually be dangerous. He ends up in over his head when he makes a series of incredibly short-sighted choices on account of his pride, which first costs him Girard's gate, then his adventuring party, and finally his life.
    • Tarquin can be very dangerous, but he thinks It's All About Me and starts falling apart when Elan refuses to be The Hero and tells Tarquin that he isn't the Big Bad.
  • Each major character of The Noordegraaf Files has some major flaw that troubles them throught the story. Time will tell if they overcome said flaw, or - tragically - don't.
    • Theo, the protaganist is a Wide-Eyed Idealist, and an extreme Optimist, which, while allowing him to be very charismatic and friendly, also causes him to underestimate the possible danger some situations can hold. It's hinted that this optimism is a self - made "defense mechanism", as he's horrified of death (or anything to do with it), and uses this to try and avoid confronting said fear.
    • Katrina, the main heroine of the comic, comes across as a very friendly and outgoing young girl, but has deep problems with [[The Eeyore depression] due to... whatever happened to her. She's not telling.
    • Violet, a young and slightly unhinged girl is definitely a Blood Knight, and has serious problems dealing with anger and self - worth. She's been known to go into a sort of martial frenzy, losing complete control of herself and attacking whatever is nearby, friend or foe. Most of the other characters, even her boyfriend, are scared of her. It's been hinted her worst fear is killing her loved ones due to this instability, and shuts herself out from the world because of this.
    • Akila, Katrina's best friend (and possible lover) is too seductive and flirtatious for her own good, and also has serious issues with self - worth. She's the only non - human character in the comic, and therefore feels nobody will truly love her for who she is, causing her to overcompensate and flirt with everyone, causing it hard for people she truly does love to notice her affections.
  • In Golden, a take-off of the standard fairy tale, the hero (and his less useful older siblings) are all sent off on the Quest because of their father's fatal flaw: GREED. The king wants gold very, very much. In fact, that whole family loves gold just a little too much to be healthy.

    Web Video 
  • The Nostalgia Critic is trying to work on his temper and cynicism, but his insecurities about seemingly never being good enough are still getting in the way.
  • Something Awful: Dungeons & Dragons: Minerelle's Cowardice, Joey's Greed, Miriam's Anger, Gibnaf's Idealism, and Kod's Pride. The former is particularly notable as Minerelle's strict running policy led her away from Joey and Kod, meaning when she went down there was no one to save her from being Killed Off for Real.
  • In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lizzie's pride and stubborness has caused misunderstandings and problems between her and others, particular Darcy and Lydia. Fortunately, through Character Development, she starts to work on improving from those flaws.

    Western Animation 
  • Rob from The Amazing World of Gumball has an inability to communicate as his flaw. He kidnaps Banana Joe's mother so she can paint the future, and attempts to brainwash his former classmates to escape to an unknown place. This gets him beat up by a T-Rex.
  • In Big Hero 6: The Series, Obake's flaw is his inability to recognize that just because you can do something doesn't mean you should. Granville's lack of supervision combined with his brain damage has driven him to complete his goals, no matter how dangerous or who gets hurt in the process.
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Catra's biggest problem is an overwhelming sense of jealousy. Her obsession with control, the past, and her inability to understand the responsibility she holds in her own life all stem from being jealous of someone else. On numerous occasions, she's given the opportunity to change, and fails to do so because of perceived slights towards her.
    • In the first season, despite having a flashback of all their good times as childhood friends, Catra still turns her back on Adora, leaving her to die. Catra does this because if Adora is gone, it will mean Shadow Weaver will have to favor Catra instead.
    • Throughout the third season, Catra consistently makes things worse for herself out of jealousy. Catra lies that Entrapta is betraying the Horde, getting Entrapta sent to Beast Island. This actively hurts the Horde's plans, but Catra's jealousy over Entrapta getting close to Hordak means she doesn't care. Scorpia's suggestion that they live in peace in the wastes is ignored the second Catra believes Shadow Weaver joined up with Adora. Even in a reality where Adora offers Catra the chance to escape the Horde before becoming She-Ra, Catra still chooses to insist that Adora is abandoning her. Later in the same episode, Catra is willing to destroy the universe, herself included, just for the sake of beating Adora at something. Each time, Catra is offered opportunities to change, but blames others for her own mistakes and lets her long-held grudges ruin her senses.
    • Maybe not as fatal as Catra's, but Entrapta's flaw is her overwhelming curiosity, combined with a complete disregard for consequences. As long as she can learn something, it really doesn't matter what happens. She does have her limits, refusing to perform an experiment that might destabilize the universe, but before that, she had destabilized the climate of an entire planet and was perfectly willing to open the door for an invading army, just because she might get the chance to learn from them.
    • Hordak's biggest fatal flaw is tunnel vision. Hordak is so fixated on projects of immediate importance to him that he overlooks dangerous developments right under his nose. Notably, he failed to grasp the full implications of She-Ra's re-emergence, the power contained in her sword, or her ability to unite the Princess Alliance.
    • Another one of his fatal flaws is arrogance. His arrogant attitude toward, and outright abuse of subordinates such as Catra and Shadow Weaver contributes to their disaffection, which has disastrous consequences for him. His arrogance toward the "inconsequential" Adora/She-Ra blinds him to the real threat she poses to the Horde.
    • Adora's biggest flaw is that she can be too controlling - when she wants to keep someone safe, she instinctively tries to fence them in so they can't get hurt. It's a holdover from her abusive childhood, when Shadow Weaver would torture Catra and tell Adora it was her fault for not keeping Catra under control. It does a real number on some of her most important relationships, especially since she doesn't really have the emotional intelligence to realize that she's doing it: Catra views Adora protecting her and telling her that she should change sides to get away from Shadow Weaver as attempts to put her back in Adora's shadow, while Glimmer in season 4 takes Adora's actions as attempts to usurp her authority.
  • The Simpsons: Lisa's biggest flaw is her dependency on her status as the smart one. Whenever confronted with the possibility that someone might be smarter or more skilled than her, she loses it and often tries to sabotage them. When given the choice of being a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond in second grade or moving up to a better, more challenging education, she stays in her small pond because she cannot tolerate less than stellar grades.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: Squidward is brought down by his hubris. His paintings and sculptures are pretentious and self-indulgent, and his clarinet playing is atrocious, yet he's so convinced he's an artistic virtuoso that he puts no effort in improving himself. Whenever someone (usually SpongeBob) proves to be much more talented than him, he refuses to accept it and berates him for not respecting True Art. A Flashback reveals that he thought working at the Krusty Krab would be a mere interim until his artist career took off, and smugly laughed at the possibility that it wouldn't. No prizes for guessing where that got him.
  • Invader Zim: Zim is so blindly arrogant that not only does he refuse to second-guess himself, he won't accept others doing the same. He single-handed ruined the first Irken invasion when he launched a massive assault... and didn't realize he was assaulting his own planet. And shot down any underlings who tried to point that out. To this day, he still does not recognize what he did wrong there.
  • Danny Phantom: Danny has two: His darkness, which manifests into him constantly abusing his powers which if he isn't careful, would result in a Bad Future. The other is his emotions which he has a hard time containing — the latter is often used to his advantage by some of his baddies. Unlike the first example, this is one he has yet to resolve.
  • Teen Titans
    • Robin tends to become so devoted to one goal, he neglects other aspects of his life until the issue is resolved. This characteristic has damaged, or even risked losing, many of his friendships and sometimes even proved his undoing.
    • Brother Blood is a genius and master manipulator, his flaw being perfection and pride. Once Cyborg proves resistant to his mind control, Blood becomes obsessed with finding out why, this one man he cannot control leading him to take foolish risks and bringing him to the brink of madness, and eventually, defeat.
    • Terra's is her inability to take responsibility for her actions, owing to being blamed for things that weren't her fault when her powers went out of control. This leads her to keeping secrets from the team, running away from her problems and being an easy target for Slade to manipulate.
  • While it is undeniably played for laughs most of the time, Omi, from Xiaolin Showdown has a massive superiority complex, constantly talks down to his friends as if they're beneath him, and it has gotten him in trouble more than a few times. Also demonstrated with Raimundo. Due to being singled out of a promotion and treated as inferior by Omi, again, Raimundo betrayed the team.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Iroh's bizarre Fatal Flaw is his love of tea. While normally the wisest and more sensible figure in the entire series, he makes some monumental mistakes when around the stuff. Once, when having to hide his identity as a Fire Bender, he used his bending to heat up some cold tea and nearly blew his cover. Earlier than that, when finding a plant whose leaves were either the world's most refreshing tea or pure poison, he ground it up and drank it due to temptation. It was poison.
    • Azula is another example, as she's a psychopath with Control Freak, perfectionist and paranoiac tendencies. She simply sees people as objects — she manipulates them and expects them to behave accordingly. But she can't handle not being in control of everything. Her belief that people can be controlled through fear flew in her face, and her determination to prove herself to her father, mainly because she believed that her mother only cared for Zuko, proved to be a serious issue that led to a Villainous Breakdown at the end of the series. And when Mai and Ty Lee, the people she thought she had the most control over, turn against her, the shell cracks off the nut, and her relatively subdued madness comes to the forefront and turns into full-blown paranoia, leading her to banish, well, everyone around her for imagined slights and plots against her. Finally, when there's no one around for her to control, whatever remaining sanity she had is whittled to the point that she's reduced to total lunacy and Ax Craziness.
    • Ozai shares the same flaws as Azula — Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, Pride, extreme perfectionism, megalomania and paranoiac tendencies.
    • Aang's flaw is his conviction. He was raised as a dedicated pacifist, and though he will fight if necessary, he won't kill. When his opponent is the Big Bad who descended from the man who slaughtered Aang's people with the intent of continuing such a legacy and oppresses the populace of two nations, this turns out to be a bad thing. He finds a solution in the end: De-power the Big Bad.
    • Zuko's misguided decisions in an effort to gain his cruel father's acceptance. It takes a while for him to realize Ozai has no love for his wife, his brother, or even his children.
    • Katara is known to hold grudges to the point where she could kill someone, especially if she was betrayed or if her loved ones are put in danger. When she runs into Jet after he had betrayed her trust, she immediately attacked him. She flat out told Zuko after he joined the gang that if she thinks he might hurt Aang, she would personally kill him. And when she confronted the man whom she believed killed her mother, she bloodbended him.
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Korra nearly gets killed or depowered on several occasions by her aggressive and proud nature. She gets better, at least. Bolin, meanwhile, repeatedly gets himself into trouble through his trusting nature. Of the other members of New Team Avatar, Asami doesn't really have one and Mako's inability to spit anything out or relax for four seconds never gets him into any worse trouble than a difficult breakup. Lin Bei Fong has trouble letting go of old resentments. Tenzin can be surprisingly naive for a middle aged man and has to learn not to compare himself to his father.
    • The villains: Fittingly for a Satanic Archetype, Vaatu's flaw is his Pride — more specifically, his belief that mere humans could never pose a threat to a supremely powerful spirit such as himself. Kuvira's flaw is her utter devotion to her goal of a safe and unified Earth Empire. While this makes her a Determinator, it also gives her tunnel vision and sends her further and further into outright villain territory.
    • Raava, Vaatu's Good Counterpart, suffered from a similar flaw as he did. When battling Vaatu, she dismissively told Wan not the meddle in their affairs, whereas Vaatu was smart enough to manipulate Wan into helping him.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • All six of the main ponies suffer from some defining flaw that usually serves as a pivot for most of their personal dilemmas and even expand into full blown disasters when exacerbated enough (almost all of them have suffered a Sanity Slippage at one point). While downplayed later in the series due to Character Development, they're still present:
    • Discord loves exploiting these to break ponies For the Evulz, and is very good at it, but has one himself, namely his own pride and inability to truly understand how strong the bond of friendship really is. Both of these blind him to the fact the mane cast has reforged their friendship and the Elements of Harmony, the one thing on earth that can possibly defeat him, work again until he gets a friendship powered Wave Motion Gun to the face. While he gradually grows out of the latterr flaw via Character Development following his Heel–Face Turn, his pride is still his greatest weakness and continues to blind him to threats.
    • The Arc Villain of the fifth season premier, Starlight Glimmer, has a big one: intolerance. She absolutely refuses to have any belief or tolerance for anyone's idea of friendship other than her own or differences between ponies. The idea Vitriolic Best Buds even exist is one she can't comprehend and she refused to actually trust anypony at all that she hadn't 'equalized'. This is her undoing, as the Mane Six exploit this to Out Gambit her. She also has another major one: Wrath. When angered, she has very little control over it. This nearly leads to her destroying the world before Twilight can calm her down. Even post Heel–Face Turn, she has difficulty controlling it.
    • Chrysalis's Fatal Flaw is her Narcissism and need for control. While a cunning strategist and Manipulative Bastard who's nearly conquered Equestria several times, she's shot herself in the hoof more than once by getting drunk on her apparent victory and congratulating herself before she's actually won, and her need to control is what exposes her to Twilight in her first appearance. Her inability to accept she's wrong and change how she runs her hive ultimately costs her everything in her second appearance.
  • Gargoyles have many examples.
    • One of the strongest examples is Demona and her refusal to take responsibility and accountability for her actions. After all Demona was the reason why her Gargoyle clan was destroyed by the Vikings and why the surviving clan members got cursed, which is the genesis of the series.
    • Goliath's flaw is his anger and need for revenge, especially if someone in his clan is hurt. Such as in ''Deadly Force" when he mistakenly believed that Elisa was nearly killed by the gangster Dracon and Goliath ruthlessly hunted him down and in "Hunter's Moon", his desire to kill the ones who almost killed his daughter Angela overruled his common sense.
  • American Dad!:
  • Total Drama: Every character has one that ends up biting them in the back at some point.
    • Courtney's flaw is pride. She expects others to follow her unquestioningly, gets dangerously angry when they don't, and is constantly trying to elevate her social status. This has led to her downfall in every season she's in.
      • Pride is actually a very common fatal flaw in Total Drama. Heather and Jo refuse to play nice because of it, and both are mostly disliked by their peers. Lightning frequently makes bad decisions because of his arrogance, and it turns his team against him in season five. And then there’s [[Bishonen Justin,]] who has a tendency to limit his participation to avoid ruining his appearance. Topher thinks he can take over Chris’s role as host, and lets his team lose when he thinks he has. While Harold was never really done in by his, it generally did him no favors with his team. And while pride was arguably not Sugar’s biggest flaw, it was the one that got her eliminated in the end.
    • Sierra's flaw is her obsessive nature. Aside from her stalking of Cody, she idolizes Chris (and the show itself) leading her to trust him blindly.
    • Dawn’s fatal flaw is her social ineptitude, which is ironic for an empath. Her lack of any concept of privacy had a tendency to unnerve her teammates, and as a result, they ended up trusting Scott over her.
    • Noah's flaw is apathy. He won't work with his team to win, and generally doesn't care about anyone's feelings — which, combined with his sharp tongue, led to him being voted off.
    • Duncan’s rebellious nature got him eliminated twice, and the second time, he got arrested for blowing up Chris’s mansion.
    • Eva’s fatal flaw is her temper. She has a tendency to react violently to the slightest of offenses, and was voted out twice for being unstable.
      • Scarlett had the same flaw, taken to murderous extremes. Yeah, Max was annoying, but she should have known trying to hold her castmates for ransom wouldn’t work on Chris.
    • Ella has the fatal flaws of naïveté and lack of social awareness. She fails to recognize Sugar’s hatred of her, and annoys her into setting her up for elimination.
      • Ezekiel and Staci both seem to have the same problem, but even more so. Ella annoyed one unscrupulous teammate. They offended/annoyed their entire teams.
    • DJ’s flaw is cowardice. In seasons 1 and 3, he let his fears get the better of him, and was disqualified as a result.
  • Bob from Bob's Burgers gets obsessed when it comes to one-upping his rival Jimmy Pesto.
  • Every single Pines family in Gravity Falls has at least one critical flaw that tends to kickstart the conflict of the stories:
    • For Mabel, her selfishness meant that she often never considers what everyone else wants and instead, prefers that they do what she wanted to do. She is also shown to be quite insensitive to Dipper's feelings as despite the fact that she knows that Dipper is troubled, she still constantly picks on him. This flaw is what ultimately caused a rift between the two and allowed Bill to exploit her emotional state in order to directly cause Weirdmageddon.
    • The Author (aka Stanford Pines) lets his obsession with his own work and science drives away everyone he cares about including his brother and Fiddleford. He is also really bad at just explaining things, usually due to trust issues or lack of communication skills. Among other things this leads to his assistant leaving and going mad, a fight with his brother that gets him sucked into another dimension for about thirty years, only trusting one person with world-saving secrets, and being part of a chain of events that kicks off Weirdmageddon.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • The most obvious Fatal Flaw is Eddy's Greed. Much of the driving force in many episodes is Eddy trying to scam other kids out of their money so he can gets his hands on jawbreakers (or just keep it for himself). Many of Eddy's schemes would be legitimate business ventures if he applied himself. The trouble is that Eddy's obsession with making as much money as possible keeps ensuring that Failure Is the Only Option for him.
      • Eddy's impulsiveness is also a recurring issue for him - when he wants something, he wants it right now and will chase after it with little regard for the consequences.
    • Double D's spinelessness means that he's often dragged along with Eddy and Ed's shenanigans whether he wants to or not and his inability to assert himself with his friends or the neighbourhood kids often results in him being punished alongside Eddy and Ed even when he was innocent and/or tried to stop the other two. He also has a bad habit of letting his reputation of the smartest kid in the cul-de-sac go to his head at times and he has to be right about everything, making him quite inflexible and not good at bouncing back when things backfire on him.
    • Ed's stupidity is his flaw, since he's very gullible, prone to making mistakes and often doesn't understand what's going on, often meaning that more short-tempered characters like Eddy or Sarah take their anger out on him or him getting manipulated easily.
    • Sarah's Fatal Flaw is Wrath. There is rarely an episode where she isn't either yelling at someone or beating them up, and the other kids in the cul-de-sac rarely help her as a result.
    • Kevin's is arguably Pride, being an arrogant Jerk Jock who likes to think he's the coolest guy around.
    • The Kanker Sisters, who all fall under Lust, as their habit of subjecting the Eds to unwanted kisses and affection actually just terrifies them and drives them further away.
    • Jimmy's childishness mean that he's an easy target for bullies (especially when Sarah isn't around) and he's often dismissed and patronised even when he does have legitimate concerns or opinions
  • I Am Weasel has severe Chronic Hero Syndrome which sometimes makes things worse for the world rather than better.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door: Chad Dickson's fatal flaw is his Pride. He is obsessed with being the best, even at the detriment of the organization he loves so much. Part of why his Fake Defector act was so convincing is because the idea that he wouldn't want someone tarnishing his legacy after he was decommissioned wouldn't really be out of character for him. Eventually, when he's denied the honor of being Earth's representative for the Galactic Kids Next Door, he undergoes a slow burn of a Villainous Breakdown, exacerbated by being forced into a Chained Heat situation with the person who (unknowingly) took that honor from him, Nigel Uno/Numbuh 1, the main protagonist of the series. Not helping things is that Nigel is completely unaware of his Fake Defector status and thus is extremely belligerent towards him. Eventually, the situation deteriorates and all the pent-up resentment culminates in a Duel to the Death between them, which Chad loses.
  • Hey Arnold!: Helga Pataki's primary flaw is insecurity. She is unable to be her true, kind, articulate and intelligent self due to her fear of being shunned by others, so she resorts to being The Bully instead. Arnold would likely return her affections if she were to stop treating him like garbage and be herself. If she were to try harder in school, her neglectful parents would probably pay more attention to her (but as we've seen with her older sister Olga, that might not be a good thing) and while she might get a few snickers from Harold or the others, she'd be in a much better place and would be happier for it. Her nanny Inga in "Helga and the Nanny" even tells her that she's doomed to suffer as long as she continues to push others away.
    • It's not addressed much but Phoebe has a bad habit of going Drunk with Power whenever she's given any kind of authority and several of her A Day in the Limelight episodes show her going completely overboard, particularly the episode she's made hall monitor or in "Phoebe Breaks A Leg."
    • Rhonda's is her snobbery, as even though she is a kind person at heart, her Alpha Bitch behaviour means that whenever she gets knocked down a peg, people are rarely sympathetic towards her and she struggles to relate to her peers or cope without her wealth and popularity to fall back on, such as "Rhonda's Glasses" or "Rhonda Goes Broke."
  • Samurai Jack: The Fatal Flaw of the Daughters of Aku is their Lack of Empathy. They were taught from an early age that needing help is weakness and deserving of punishment, though this also means that they won't protect each other when they're on the defensive.
    • Jack's patience is legendary, but more often than not he allows his frustration to boil over with disastrous results. Specific incidents include getting so infuriated at a constant stream of bounty hunters that Aku was able to create an Evil Knockoff of him to fight, and lashing out in a blind rage after Aku destroyed the last known time portal in existence and then mutated the sheep that had helped him find the portal. That last one cost him his sword and sent him into a 50 year Heroic BSoD.
    • Aku has several flaws:
      • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good. Given that Aku is the Anthropomorphic Personification of evil, it's only natural that he suffers from this. Many of his schemes fail because he has no understanding of the concept of good. This trope is why him sending Jack to the future backfired. He'd expected a world ruled by him would allow him to crush Jack effortlessly when he arrived. He never took into account that a hero arriving and successfully resisting him would trigger Hope Springs Eternal and start giving the oppressed masses someone to rally behind. And in the series finale, his execution of Jack fails because he couldn't comprehend that rather than being crushed by this, the ones Jack inspired would come to his aid en masse. Later on in the same episode, he finally meets his end because he never believed his daughter Ashi could free herself from his control, letting her use his powers he awakened in her to take Jack back to the past and kill him.
      • Additionally, other things that are lost on him are "respect" and "teamwork", as he has Chronic Backstabbing Disorder to the highest degree and has actually screwed himself over time and again because he cannot help but betray his allies in some form or another, even when he's trying really hard not to.
  • The Weekenders has Carver, whose desperation to be cool often leads him to making terrible decisions.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: The eponymous character's impulsiveness, which leads her to say or do things without considering what the consequences of her actions might be, particularly when Adrien is involved. This has not only driven a wedge between her and her friends, such as in Rogercop, but it has also caused a substantial number of akumatizations that otherwise could have been avoided, such as in Gamer.
  • On Ready Jet Go!, Sean's fatal flaw is that he fears cramped spaces, heights, and gets space-sick easily, but he must overcome these fears in time so he can achieve his dream of being an astronaut when gets older. He was also somewhat of a neurotic, overconfident perfectionist in the early episodes, but he gets better later on.
    • Jet's fatal flaw is his impulsivity. He tends to act before thinking, and this has caused trouble for him and his friends a few times throughout the show. He is also terrible at keeping the secret that he is an alien.
  • Steven Universe:
    • Steven's main flaw is his self-sacrificing nature; he tries to take everyone's burdens on himself, even when it's obviously burning him out.
    • Connie keeps secrets and assumes that other people's reactions would be more negative than they are.
    • Pearl has absolutely no self-esteem and depends on her relationships with others to feel good about herself. For most of her life, she was dependent on her Lady and Knight relationship with Rose, to the point where she couldn't accept her relationship with Greg or her decision to have Steven. She later almost completely ruins her relationship with Garnet by lying to her in order to keep Fusing, since as a fusion with Garnet she got to feel Garnet's self-confidence.
    • Amethyst also has no self-esteem, but in a different way. Her origin as a defective Gem from one of the Homeworld Kindergartens means that she thinks of herself as being a parasite on Earth, and she has little confidence in her own strength.
    • Garnet is an odd case, since she's a Fusion and both Ruby and Sapphire have their own. Ruby's is her hot-headedness and singleminded focus on the present, to the point of not even trying to look for solutions to her problems. Sapphire's is her apathy and trust in her future vision; she is so invested in the future, she forgets that the problems she sees solved haven't been solved yet, and need her to act to fix them.
    • Rose Quartz had her Condescending Compassion and Innocent Insensitivity; while she really was an All-Loving Heroine, she had no idea how deep that particular rabbit hole went. She didn't understand that humans could love on equal terms with Gems until Greg confronted her, and she was particularly bad at understanding how others felt, especially towards her. Some of this presumably came from being so isolated as Pink Diamond.
    • Blue and Yellow Diamond have opposite flaws; Yellow Diamond represses her emotions to the point that they cause her to act irrationally when they get too much, while Blue Diamond lets her emotions distract her from both her duties and from finding peace. White Diamond holds everyone to impossible standards of perfection, including herself.
    • Pink Diamond's flaw was her immaturity. She was the No Respect Gem among the Diamonds, and her frustration led her to throwing tantrums to just get some attention from her sisters. She later grew out of it, but into others- see Rose's entry above.
  • Two fatal flaws are exposed in an episode of Teamo Supremo. Mr. Paulson admits to being too trusting. He tried to give his former lab assistant Crawford a second chance after he served his sentence for his villainous rampage as "the Gauntlet", only for Crawford to backstab Paulson and steal the Mega Gauntlets again. Paulson then reveals Crawford's flaw, his temper. He joins the team in confronting the Gauntlet and taunts him until, in a fit of rage, he hands the Mega Gauntlets over to Teamo Supremo so he can fight Paulson himself.
  • Infinity Train is built around this. Each season focuses on a new passenger of the eponymous train, who can only leave when they've resolved a notable personality flaw.
    • Season one has Tulip. Her issue is a general unwillingness to work through her feelings, preferring to bury them rather than accept imperfection and move on.
    • Season two has Jesse. He wants people to like him so much that he won't take sides, lets people walk all over him or even talk him into doing things that he knows are wrong.


Alternative Title(s): Tragic Flaw

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