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Goths Have It Hard

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He had gone through horrible problems, and now he was gothic.
Draco Malfoy (referring to Harry "Vampire" Potter), My Immortal

The Goth subculture, the emo subculture, and other related subcultures originated from a genre of music.note  Now, both subcultures have expanded to include any music, fashion, or media that celebrates the morbid, dark, and spooky. Goths and emos may have a dark aesthetic, enjoy reading Gothic Horror stories, enjoy listening to sad songs about death, etc., but that doesn't mean they want pain, suffering, or death. note 

You wouldn't get that impression from fiction, though.

Most fictional Goths, emos, etc. adopt a dark aesthetic because they have some serious psychological problem, usually depression, but occasionally PTSD (or related mental disorders). At best, they'll be edgy and cynical. At worst, they may want to kill themselves or (especially in the case of emos) cut themselves. This stereotype is so pervasive, some people even believe that the emo subculture actually encourages self harm, which just isn't true.

While there is some correlation of such issues with Goths and emos over other subcultures, it is slight, and it's usually due to the stigma attached to the subcultures than the subcultures themselves.

Contrast Perky Goth. If a morbid character with psychological issues is a villain, see Dark Is Evil and Freudian Excuse. If not, see Dark Is Not Evil. May overlap with Troubled, but Cute. If the Goth's suffering is played for comedy, see Black Comedy and The Chew Toy, if not, see The Woobie (do note, however, that The Woobie is YMMV.)


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  • Parodied in an advert for a credit ratings firm. A sample random group of people (well, Goths) on a London Underground train are assessed on the basis of their credit records, from worst to best. The highest possible credit rating is held by a stereotypically grim-looking goth girl — called Joy. When she realises all the things that are possible for her because her credit is so good, she bursts out into a delighted happy smile.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Saki Hanajima originally forced herself into becoming a goth, since she accidentally made one of her elementary school bullies pass out with her Psychic Powers and from then on only wore black clothing to punish herself for it. Her peers would either be afraid of her because of her powers, or mercilessly bully her to test if her powers were real. After befriending Tohru and Uotani, she came to accept herself and her powers, though she still wears gothic fashion out of habit.
    • Isuzu "Rin" Sohma also shows an affinity for gothic fashion, and she's easily one of the most troubled of the cursed Zodiac members. Not only does she suffer from stomach ulcers that put her in and out of the hospital, but she's also deeply cynical and traumatized thanks to her horribly Abusive Parents.
  • Naruto: The Sand Siblings (especially Gaara) had a particularly rough and bitter childhood. Being raised by a strict, inconsiderate father, who only cared rather they'd be useful to him or not? Luckily they grew to look past their neglect.

    Comic Books 
  • Eric in The Crow. Eric’s a goth guy who receives superpowers in a very gothic way, having received them from a magical crow after being brought back from the dead. He’s consistently depressed and often mourns his dead girlfriend Shelly.
  • The Punisher suffers from PTSD, is a dangerous vigilante, and is heavily implied to be suicidal. His appearance is equally bleak, as he wears head-to-toe black with a white skull on his chest.
  • Regan, a suicidal teenager, is talked out of jumping off a skyscraper by the Big Blue himself in All-Star Superman. She's got choppy short hair and wears all black, which has been criticized for perpetuating stereotypes about mental health.

    Fan Works 
  • Harry Potter:
    • The notoriously poorly-written fanfiction My Immortal has the goths cut themselves for fun and try to kill themselves. In addition, most of the goths turned goth because of their tragic pasts (like Ron "Diablo" Weasley did it because his father raped him, Harry "Vampire" Potter did it because he'd gone through ambiguous "horrible problems", and Hermione "B'Loody Mary" Smith did it because she was kidnapped).
    • The author of My Immortal also wrote a fanfic called Ghost of You. In this story, Hermione becomes a goth after learning that she's been adopted by the Granger family (who are turned into abusers).
  • The Loud House:
    • Downplayed in the fanfiction Melancholinc, where Lincoln becomes an emo, not because he's depressed per se, but because he's angsting over being jealous of his sisters being supposedly more talented than him and sad that he's "regular". Maggie's emo-ness has a similarly negative, but minor, cause, of thinking seventh grade is pointless.
    • Subverted in The Edgy House, where Lucy's goth behaviour is supposedly explained by her Abusive Parents, brother, and sister, but then it turns out that her family's just fine and the whole thing was The Aristocrats joke.
  • In Miraculous: The Phoenix Rises, it's debatable Morgan's a goth given her dark attire, fair skin and red eyes. Of course she certainly lives up to the latter half of the trope.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Lydia Deetz from Beetlejuice is a goth, and at one point, she tries to drown herself.
  • The Craft: All the girls could count to a greater or lesser extent (Sarah attempted suicide, Rochelle is being tormented by a racist bully, and Bonnie is badly scarred), but all are acting under the influence of the most Goth friend in the group, Nancy, who embraces the aesthetic fully in clothes and makeup, and the gloomy mood, while the others are mostly just followers. It's no coincidence that, as the biggest Goth in the group, Nancy is also the most troubled, having a reputation as someone who sleeps around, who grew up poor and is abused by her stepfather, and who is dangerously unstable.
  • Friend Request: The unpopular Marina is known as a weird girl who makes creepy internet animations, dresses in dark colors, and is able to haunt a computer after she died. She also has a very messed up backstory, including such cheery events like a dead mother, life in an orphanage, and rape from boys in said orphanage.
  • Ginger Snaps: Ginger and Brigitte are somewhere between goths and emos - they always wear dark colors, have no friends, and are obsessed with death. They also religiously and seriously plan to commit suicide before they get their periods. Only Ginger becoming a werewolf and murdering several people stops this from happening.
  • The Girl in the Spider's Web has Lisbeth again as a goth in dress and interest, but changes up her backstory, without it being any less angsty: she is seriously traumatized because she grew up in a crime syndicate with an abusive single father and fled by jumping off a cliff and running away to Stockholm.
  • Very subtle in Heathers. The local punks appear to be pretty chill, but at the end one of them is sitting right next to the bomb that JD rigged in the auditorium. She ignores it while awaiting her seeming death.
  • Parodied in Jennifer's Body. Colin is a downbeat-seeming goth who is shown to be attracted to the dark side, but is actually a nice guy with a very normal life that is contrasted against Needy and Jennifer's problems. After his death, his goth friends are shown to be near-obsessed with his grave and being the centre of attention. However, Colin's mom, who is genuinely devastated, calls it out for being performative and shoos them away.
  • The Rage: Carrie 2: Rachel Lang is an unstable, depressed goth (although for good reason in mourning for her best friend Lisa, and fantasizes that it was her who died, shortly before murdering as many people as she can in a house fire.
  • In Serial Killing 4 Dummys, Sasha has made multiple failed attempts at suicide, and has a fascination with dark subjects such as Serial Killers. She encourages Casey in his ambition to become a serial killer, with hopes of being his first victim.

  • Heavily implied in the case of Skye in 13 Reasons Why. She is a background character for most of the story, and all we know about her is that she's a goth; this is explicitly why Clay singles her out at the end of the story and reaches out to her, so she won't kill herself like Hannah. While we never explicitly find out why, the narrative seems to support pretty clearly that Skye's goth self-expression is very indicative of serious problems.
  • In the Millennium Series and its film adaptation, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), Lisbeth Salander is a goth, dressing exclusively in black or grey, listens to heavy metal, and dabbles in "alternate" communities. She is also a highly troubled Broken Bird and Sociopathic Hero who burned her father alive, but didn't kill him, after he beat and eventually killed her mother, was nearly starved in a hospital, was raped by her social worker and so raped him...

    Live-Action TV 
  • American Horror Story: Murder House: Both teenagers Tate and Violet are modelled quite purposefully on the goth/emo subcultures. Violet was actually initially written as a goth, and Tate often dresses in quite a goth style, but also both have distinct crossover with emo culture, such as listening to sad music (Kurt Cobain is a favorite), chain-smoking, and both are shown being fascinated (rather than scared) of the ghosts in the house. Both are self-harmers, and Violet is a depressed teenager who commits suicide, while Tate is a psychopath who burned his stepfather alive, committed a mass shooting, and raped and impregnated Vivien from a combination of Mommy Issues and the Oedipus Complex.
  • Criminal Minds: In the episode "In Name and In Blood", the person that makes things go awry to the point that Jason Gideon, completely fed up, quits the FBI and goes on a journey so he won't be found, is a goth girl who, upon finding out that there is a Serial Killer on campus and that he's been apprehended and hoping he'll kill her (she can't bring herself to commit suicide), kills someone imitating his style so the cops will let him go and approaches him.
  • Played slightly more realistically in The Fall. Teenager Katie has been traumatized by the death of her father, and falls in love/lust with Paul, which leads to her becoming even more obsessed after she learns he's a serial killer. In Series 2, she starts dressing far more gothically, wearing all black, and fetishizing violence and death. However, this is pretty clearly self-aware posturing on her part.
  • The IT Crowd: Parodied. When Richmond explains why he became a goth, he mentions how people at work started treating him differently for no reason. This social alienation caused him to turn to gothic music for comfort. However, flashbacks showed the reason people started treating him differently was because he showed up to work wearing stereotypically gothic clothes.
  • MADtv (1995) has a 2006 Parody Commercial for the "Tickle Me Emo" doll, Hot Topic's black-clad, Self Harming answer to the Tickle Me Elmo.
    Announcer: Tickle Me Emo is the tortured, angst-ridden teen cousin of Elmo, and boy is he sad!
  • The Sopranos: Vito Spatafore is murdered by his cousin-in-law Phil Leotardo for being gay, which is a huge no-no in the highly homophobic mafia. In "Chasing It", his son, Vito Spatafore Jr., starts to dress in all black and act out in school. Phil rather sanctimoniously tries to teach him to "man up" and take charge of his family now that his father is gone, and when he still refuses, has him shipped off to a Military School.
  • Victorious: Jade dresses and acts like a stereotypical Goth. She also alludes to having had a rough childhood. In particular, she has a strained relationship with her father, stemming from the fact he disapproves of her aspirations for a career in the performing arts.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Technically there is only one "goth" in The Coven of Shine Wrestling, but the group follows the fashions of goth Chelsea Durden, rather than leader Erica Torres. Torres enthralled the other three into her cult in all but name by beating them into submission while promising them "knowledge". The Coven seek to expand their membership through more beatings, abductions and indoctrination, and though they haven't been very successful in that regard, Durden, Kelsea Raegan and Vipress have nonetheless had it pretty hard, and dress in gothic styles.

    Video Games 
  • Beyond: Two Souls: Jodie adopts a gothic ensemble after being bullied by the other teenagers whose parents work on the base, and if she chooses to get revenge on them through Aiden (which is very likely).
  • In Brütal Legend, the Drowning Doom faction, which represents Gothic Metal, is made up of undead goths who committed suicide or otherwise died tragically and they use their crushing depression as debuffs in combat.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Lulu is perhaps the only character in Final Fantasy X to dress in a gothic style. She struggles with the tragedy of her fiance's death and the failure of her previous Summoner's pilgrimage due to a mistake made by her.
    • Cloud of Final Fantasy VII was always Troubled, but Cute and wore a punky version of a military uniform in his original game, but in Advent Children he is portrayed as having a gothic side, dressing in a dramatic black outfit with heavy silver jewellery, obssessing over the deaths of his loved ones, nursing an incurable disease, and living in a ruined church. This edge of goth style carries over to Final Fantasy VII Remake, where, although his usual outfit is basically the same as ever, his dresses all feature a distinct goth flair.
  • The Sims 2: Lilith Pleasant wears goth-inspired clothing and makeup, but she's never shown to be outright malicious and has just had it rougher than her twin sister Angela, owing to Parental Neglect.
  • In Total Distortion, Edgar Death is a zombie Goth rocker in the Distortion Dimension, who comes back to life just to play tragic rock songs. A radio broadcast in your Personal Media Tower implies that Edgar became this by combining his vocal talent with "mortuary science".

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • The Loud House: While this is averted usually, with goths such as Lucy and Haiku being reasonably content if a bit cynical in terms of personality, in "The Crying Dame", when baby Lily's siblings are having trouble cheering her up, they worry that they'll never be able to and she'll grow up to "wear black and listen to sad music all the time".
  • Martha Speaks: When the kids imagine Milo as unable to feel joy due to not being able to have his favourite ice cream, they imagine him as a broody poet who wears black.
  • South Park:
    • Parodied. While the goth kids complain about the problems and drama that they suffer from, it's shown that they live comfortable lives. For instance, one episode had goth girl Henrietta claim her mother abuses her. However, the audience is shown that her mother is very nice and supportive to her.
    • Stan becomes goth in "Raisins" after he loses his girlfriend. Butters also suffers heartbreak in the same episode, but defies this trope when the goths try to recruit him telling the goths he'd rather appreciate that he was happy enough to be sad in the first place than embrace sadness as his entire identity. This is what convinces Stan to drop the goth identity.
    • When Henrietta becomes emo in "Goth Kids 3: Dawn of the Posers," she claims she's depressed and addicted to cutting herself, though we never actually see this and it's strongly implied she's just putting on a facade of misery just like when she was goth.