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Ill Girl
aka: Ill Boy

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Gives new meaning to the phrase "sickeningly cute"

"When they met she was fifteen
Like a black rose blooming wild
And she already knew she was gonna die."
— Love You To Death, by Kamelot

The ill girl is almost inevitably a sympathetically cute girl.note  The disease can be anything from anemia to organ failure. Smart writers avoid such specifics, making it a Soap Opera Disease. It will never disfigure or impair her cuteness, but usually prompts an older brother or sister figure into shady business to help pay the medical bills. Or prompts them to rush into some dangerous/brave deed while she cheers them on.

A common cliche is that the dying character is trying to hold on until some distant, significant day has arrived. For example, she might be lying sick in autumn, noticing leaves falling off a tree by the window, and hoping she will live long enough to see the last one fall. You can see this one subverted in the O. Henry story "The Last Leaf."


This character type is probably indirectly descended from the Western romantic "consumptive heroine" (The classic 19th-century example would be the heroine of La dame aux camélias, source material for La Traviata and Camille (1936), while Nicole Kidman's "Satine" in the film Moulin Rouge! is a contemporary example). She may suffer from what Roger Ebert called Ali McGraw's Disease (after Love Story): "Movie illness in which only symptom is that the sufferer grows more beautiful as death approaches."

Becoming this character is a common side-effect of Victorian Novel Disease. Only occasionally related to Definitely Just a Cold. See also Littlest Cancer Patient, Bandage Babe, Too Good for This Sinful Earth, Incurable Cough of Death, Utsuge, Soap Opera Disease, and Marked to Die. Sickly Child Grew Up Strong occurs when a heroic or powerful character is shown to have been this in their youth. They may be seen with an Illness Blanket.


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    Professional Wrestling 
  • Jushin Thunder Liger had to tone down his high flying style due to brain surgery. He also cannot hear in one ear for the same reason.
  • Kenta Kobashi had a malignant tumor, but he killed it with a burning hammer.
  • Eddie Guerrero would get addicted to drugs after being in a car accident while working for WCW. While Eddie would find his way back to sobriety, he never fully recovered from the effects of the drugs he used, which were the direct cause of his death.
  • While working for Maryland Championship Wrestling, Stevie Richards contracted a lung infection that eventually caused its collapse.
  • April Hunter was born with pneumonia and later found out she had "chronic lung disease" when competing in an Iron woman contest lead to her needing an emergency inhaler.
  • Montel Vontavious Porter has a heart condition that causes it to beat abnormally fast, which has at times caused him to be removed from cards or have his role reduced, such as on an episode of WWE's Smackdown where he was supposed to get beat up by Evander Hollifield but ended up just getting a jab with Matt Hardy taking most of the beating.
  • Bobby Lashley's career has been plagued by mono, though he's done pretty well in both professional wrestling and mixed martial arts despite it.
  • While reigning as the first Northern Championship Wrestling Femme Fatales International Champion, LuFisto lost weight, seemingly had a stroke and then was revealed to have a hole in her heart. An operation allowed it to close back up.
  • Roman Reigns had been diagnosed with leukemia twice. The first time was in 2007, which derailed a potential football career. When the leukemia went into remission, he became a professional wrestler. Eventually, though, it recurred in 2018, which resulted in him relinquishing the WWE Universal Championship and going on indefinite haitus. Until it went into remission again and he returned a few months later.

  • Bleak Expectations: Parodied with Flora Diesearly, who a short while into her marriage to Pip Bin suddenly comes down with a mysterious rash of fainting, which Pip's doctor proclaims is a sign of the dread Nonspecific Weakness. Despite Pip's efforts, Flora Diesearly dies (though it is suggested that this is more from the medicine Pip bought, rather than the illness itself).

  • It's never explained what her illness is, but Sine from Little Apple Dolls died of some sort of illness. She is shown healthy as a young child but a few years later is wheelchair bound. She's described as getting weaker and weaker until she can't visit her favorite orchard anymore, and later she dies.
  • Meet Suzy Puppy, an educational toy made to teach people about the dangers of puppy farms and how to buy a puppy safely. Suzy comes with conjunctivitis, diarrhoea, fleas, worms, and worst of all, parvovirus (likely the cause of the diarrhoea).

Alternative Title(s): Ill Boy, Ill Man, Ill Child