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Iron Woobie

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"In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed."
William Ernest Henley, Invictus

The Iron Woobie is a character who is not just a Woobie; they are the Woobie. Most Woobies are the victim of external circumstance. That may be how it started out for this little guy/gal, but after having to deal with too much guff, they've lost the ability to feel sorry for themselves, and will continue standing in the path of inevitable misfortune. They will Rage Against the Heavens in anger for the ridiculous extent of their trials and tribulations, but when it comes right down to it, they're not expecting the big guy to start doing them any favors now.

Oftentimes the Iron Woobie is also a Determinator, though this isn't an essential part of the character. The chief difference is that a Determinator usually has a specific reason, where as the Iron Woobie can be anyone who bears up gamely to things that happen to them for no discernible reason. Be that as it may, they stubbornly insist on walking the same misfortune-laden path they were on before, and won't give up their personal ethical code just because things continue to go poorly for them.

Different from the Stoic Woobie in that while this character refuses to regret their misfortune, they don't have to hide the majority of their feelings. The Iron Woobie still can show many emotions such as happiness or grief. They probably won't even mention how the universe makes them a Cosmic Plaything.

Opposite trope to Sympathetic Sue. Contrast Martyr Without a Cause and Angst? What Angst?, and compare the more snarky Knight in Sour Armor. If their sufferings arise as a result of their heroism, it may be the case that Being Good Sucks. See also Don't You Dare Pity Me! and Stoic Woobie. Most Inspirationally Disadvantaged characters are portrayed this way, often with insufficient justification and/or to the point of it being their entire characterization.

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Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman is the definition of the Iron Woobie. His parents were cruelly gunned down by a mugger when he was eight years old, and that's just the beginning. He's had one of his allies crippled by the Joker, then lost his adopted son to the very same man in the course of a year. To make matters even worse he had his spine broken once and then had aforementioned adopted son return to life, now permanently blaming him for his first death. Yet despite this he has NEVER broken his moral code and has never used a gun. (However, he made a "once-in-a-lifetime exception" in Final Crisis when he shot Darkseid with a bullet made of Radion (the kryptonite equivalent of the New Gods and ironically, the same one Darkseid used to kill Orion). He did this to poison him and give time for Superman to finish the job. By that point though, everything was going to hell as Darkseid was wrecking the ''Multiverse'' so things have gotten ''that'' bad. His refusal to break it, even in the face of the Joker (who Batman would like to kill but won't), is the reason he remains a highly prominent A-List superhero and the world's best detective.
    • Kate Kane started out similar to Batman: she, along with her mother and twin sister, were kidnapped, and she was left the only survivor of the operation sent to rescue them. Years later, she finds out her twin is not only alive, but has returned as a psychopathic cult leader. Her sister eventually jumps from a plane before her eyes. After this Kate gets mind-raped by a supernatural being and almost drowns, her cousin is almost killed while out crimefighting, she's blackmailed into working for a shady government organization in order to protect her father, she finds out her sister is still alive, she gets dosed with a hallucinogen and beaten up by a relatively sub-par villain, she breaks up with her girlfriend as a way to get her girlfriend's ex-husband to drop his custody battle for their daughter, and gets hypnotized by a vampire and becomes her sex slave. While she has a naturally stoic personality, she does exhibit anger and sadness from all this. However, even at her lowest point she never considers abandoning her role as a vigilante, and actually makes some progress through her issues after seeing a psychiatrist, becoming stronger for it.
  • Daredevil: Where to begin? His mother leaves when he is a baby, his father constantly pushes him to succeed so he can have a better life, he is blinded by chemicals, and his father is murdered by the mob. Oh and the super senses? Matt can't turn them off and they make life nearly unbearable. In Born Again, his ex-girlfriend sells his identity to the mob, he loses his legal license, has all his money taken away, and is reduced to living on the streets. Then in Shadowland, he is demonically possessed and forced to do horrible things. Let's just say life sucks for Matt Murdock. And yet he never gives up and becomes a stronger person for it.
  • Great Ten: Mother of Champions being essentially prostituted by her country to strange men so that her special gift can be exploited is bad enough, but the children that result from these unions have a lifespan of roughly one week. She had never given birth before she had her first 25 boys, and eight days later they were all dead. The fact that she remains the picture of motherly dignity and poise is a testament to her emotional strength. The "strange men" part is occasionally changed; she's slept with most of the male members of her team, though her heart belongs to Socialist Red Guardsman alone.
  • Empowered's titular character. After the events in volume one alone, most people would have given up on superheroing for good. Emp's eleven volumes in and counting. Pain, humiliation, mortal terror, repeated failure, and the constant verbal abuse of her teammates do not stop her. It's either noble dedication or the worst case of Chronic Hero Syndrome ever. She could walk away at any time. No one would blame her. She doesn't. She never will.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Bruce Banner was abused as a child, turned into a green monster, endured the death of three wives, chased around the world by the Army, shot into space, enslaved by an alien empire, loses the empire once he conquers it, has his Roaring Rampage of Revenge crushed by a Heel Realization, and fails to save one of his troubled sons. Man it SUCKS to be a big green badass.
    • How bad does Banner's life suck? In Immortal Hulk one issue of the series draws direct parallels between Bruce and Job. You know, the guy in The Bible whose life God absolutely and completely destroyed (Home destroyed, livelihood destroyed, family destroyed, riddled with ailments, etc.) as a test proposed by Satan to prove Job's loyalty to God was not bought. Yes, Bruce's life is so awful and absolutely f*#@ed that he can be compared to a guy who is the posterchild for human misery and being a Cosmic Plaything.
    • And, oddly enough, the Hulk himself, as depicted in Hulk: The End.
      Hulk: For years... forever... Hulk has listened to Banner, and Banner's friends, talking about how Hulk ruined Banner's life! Hulk made Banner's life! Banner was nothing before Hulk... nothing!... Hulk doesn't want friends, because friends will hurt him. Everyone hurts him. Everyone hurts Hulk.
  • Iron Man: Some incarnations of Tony Stark qualify especially if he's being The Determinator and disregards his health.
  • Martian Manhunter: J'onn J'onzz has one of, if not the most tragic backstories of the heroes of the DCU, and that's saying a lot. J'onn watched his entire species (including his wife and daughter) die a fiery death at the hands of his brother, only survived by cutting himself off from his species, wandered alone over the barren world of Mars for an untold amount of years and was abruptly transported to an alien world. Despite all this, J'onn retained his sanity and remains a noble, wise hero.
  • Mockingbird: In chronological order, Bobbi Morse has been framed, shot, caught in an explosion, beaten, raped, killed said rapist, saw her marriage break down, was abducted by aliens and forced to fight for survival, killed a Skrull that took the form of the man she loved, eventually returned but was then haunted by the ghost of her rapist, had her relationship with Hawkeye break down once more, her mother was shot and her brother disowned her, got shot again and turned into an immortal super soldier, then got left behind enemy lines with no memory, had serious Mind Rape that revealed she had a second personality, left with broken memories and shot at, then finally killed the man responsible for the mind rape before being lost, now missing with no one knowing where she is. All that, you'd think she'd give up, right? Well, she doesn't. She just faces down the problem with a smirk and a sarcastic one-liner.
  • Paperinik New Adventures: When the alien Evronians invaded Xadhoom's planet, she lost her boyfriend, and entire race. she resolved to exterminate them for it. The real kicker? She accidentally caused that invasion.
  • Shazam!: The original Captain Marvel may be the original poster child for this trope in comics. When Billy was around ten years old, his parents were murdered by criminals and he was separated from his twin sister, Mary, who was also thought dead at the time. The uncle entrusted to take care of Billy kept him around only long enough to legally acquire Billy's inheritance, before then throwing the young boy out of his own home. Billy had to learn to take care of himself, facing the harshness of living on the streets with no one to take care of him. Yet despite this, Billy remained a friendly, kind, optimistic and hopeful young man, eager to help others and never once using his tragedies as an excuse to be cruel or selfish. His refusal to let his bad circumstances make him a bad person wound up being a sort of Secret Test of Character by the Wizard Shazam, who felt Billy's perseverance in such hardship would prevent him from being corrupted the way Black Adam was. As such, Billy was granted the Wizard's power, and as Captain Marvel, Billy has continued to face hardship with a big smile and equally big heart.
    • To put this into perspective, Billy Batson endured a similar tragedy to Bruce Wayne, losing his parents to criminals. But instead of returning home to his billion dollar fortune, giant mansion and loyal, loving, father-figure butler, in Billy's case it would have been like if Alfred stole Bruce's wealth and left him both penniless and homeless. Yet despite that, Billy is considered a paragon of virtue, optimism and faith in humanity matched only by guys like Superman or Captain America.
    • Like Billy, Freddy Freeman suffered similar tragedy, losing his parents at a young age but was raised by his kindly grandfather. One day while fishing, the pair saw a man fall from the sky and immediately moved to rescue him. Unfortunately, the man they saved turned out to be Captain Nazi, who immediately turned on them. Freddy's grandfather was killed and Freddy was so badly injured that he was at death's door. Captain Marvel managed to arrive in time to save Freddy, but could only prevent his death by granting Freddy the Power of Shazam, transforming the young man into Captain Marvel Junior. While this saved Freddy's life, he was permanently maimed in one leg, forcing him to walk with a crutch for the rest of his life. Freddy lives with a daily reminder of what Capt. Nazi took from him, but chooses to endure and use his powers to help those in need.
    • Played with the New 52 version of Billy Batson. While this Billy lost his parents, it was because they willingly abandoned him due to being terrible people. He spent his time in foster care, running away from homes in an effort to find his parents, believing they were looking for him. Years failing to find them left him a bitter and jaded Jerk with a Heart of Gold that eventually became a better person thanks to his foster family's influence. This version of Billy was likewise chosen by the Wizard, taking the name Shazam and doing his best to be a hero and enduring what life throws his way.
  • Spider-Man:
  • Strontium Dog: Johnny Alpha was born mutated to a father running for high public office on an anti-mutant platform. Abused constantly throughout his childhood. Ran away and became a child soldier at age 12. General Armz second-in-command at 17. Watched the deaths of hundreds of his comrades-in-arms in the assault on Westminster. Lived the rest of his life as a bounty hunter. Estranged from his sister, who considered Johnny a threat to her family (not without reason). Watched several friends die. Killed his father and brother. Was cheated out of countless bounties. Faced constant anti-mutant discrimination. And soldiered on.
  • Superman: Superman himself. He lost his homeworld, in all continuities, one or both of the Kents die, and he has to live with the knowledge that he is different from the humans he protects and will never truly belong. His New 52 adaptation is even a Hero with Bad Publicity at the start of his career. And yet he never stops being an Ideal Hero. Upbringing Makes the Hero indeed.
    • Compared to Supergirl, Superman's woobieness is minuscule. He may have lost his planet, but was a baby when it happened and was raised by the loving Kents, while Supergirl (especially in New Earth) remembers her planet pre-destruction and her parents being vaporized and planet being destroyed, which was the last thing she saw before the suspended animation of her ship kicked in. She has to deal with having the memory of what she's truly lost — family and friends alike, and has survivor's guilt because of it, but still try to live up to the responsibilities of the S. Batman has told her that, unlike Superman, Supergirl knows what it's like to be like him because she knew what it was like to see your parents die in front of your eyes and be helpless to stop it.
  • Wolverine:
    • Wolverine has over a century of bad memories starting with his father's murder, and after House of M he remembers all of them. His present and — judging by the various bad futures so prevalent in X-Men — his future aren't exactly a romp in the daisies either. He copes with all of this by being an active member of several superteams, fixing past mistakes, sleeping with every hooker in Bangkok, and playing pool.
    • His clone/daughter, Laura Kinney AKA X-23, as well. Bred and raised to be an assassin-for-hire under incredibly abusive and brutal conditions, (she was exposed to lethal doses of radiation at age seven to forcibly activate her Healing Factor, and having her claws surgically removed to be coated in adamantium in the most painful process possible) forced to kill her mother through her conditioning to enter an Unstoppable Rage when exposed to a trigger scent, giving up the only family she's ever known to protect them from her abusive handler — who periodically catches up to her just to make her life a living hell — all the while struggling to control her berserker rage and come to terms with all the death on her hands. She doesn't even have the benefit of Logan's swiss cheese memory to ease the trauma, and remembers all of it. Laura wants to be normal, but she will keep fighting because, as she once told Daken, she's fighting for something bigger than herself.
  • Wonder Woman: Donna Troy's journey during the Wonder Woman (1987) period, which led to her Continuity Snarl due to the amount of time warping, multiple lives, and memory altering done to her by Dark Angel in order to force her to live out multiple nightmarish existences with tragic ends one after the other with her friends and family (outside Wally and Diana) forgetting she'd ever even lived. Even before Dark Angel started messing with the timeline to torture Donna her marriage failed, and then her ex-husband and young children died in a car accident. Then, once she'd finally been restored to herself and gotten an apartment with her sister Diana she was killed in Graduation Day.
  • X-Men: Colossus is a very literal example. He's seen his brother "die", come back after many years, and exile himself from this realm. He's seen his sister die from the Legacy virus. He then sacrificed his own life to find a cure for said virus. An alien resurrected and imprisoned him, tortured him for two years, and shortly after he was freed, his girlfriend disappeared in space. She came back recently... only to discover that she was trapped in her intangible form, and unable to interact with the rest of the world, including Colossus. And he's still one of the noblest of the X-Men. Later, Colossus's sister also came back. She may or may not be a soulless abomination. Regardless, she acts more emotionless and detached than before, and endangered the entire world for her own vendetta. Colossus still stands by her. Much later, he took the mantle of the Juggernaut, which makes him even more mentally unstable.

    Comic Strips 
  • Charlie Brown from Peanuts stopped being too bothered by things that don't turn out well for him as he's come to expect it. It doesn't stop him from continuing to run his baseball team or participating in competitions of all sorts, however, in hopes that he will one day get his big break.

    Fan Works 
  • From the war-torn future of Warhammer 40,000 comes an Ogryn named Gav from the fanfic The Ballad of Gav and Bob. Ogryn are a naturally loyal race of huge, violent manchildren fanatically devoted to the Emperor, and Gav is no different. He remains steadfastly loyal even after losing his Commissar and his best Ogryn friend Bob; seeing his new best friend Tarla gored by the tail of a Greater Daemon of Slaanesh and losing his left arm to said Daemon; living to see Tarla turned into a mind-wiped servitor because of her repeated exposure to Chaos. Gav is so loyal that he ends up on the retinue of a Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor, Traela.
  • Akiko Yamaguchi/Star Reverie from Magical Girl Mega Crossover, the Battle Fantasia Project. The Call came to her at eight years old against The Church of The Eclipse for about a year, then for the next two there was the Carnival of Blood, an evil carnival made of warped versions of the usual fare that warps people into the horrors the longer they stay there, assuming they don't get killed, who killed her Familiar part-way through that little adventure, and now for the past four years she's been fighting the Nightmare Factory, which spawns Monsters Of The Week that are both spawned from and create nightmares, as well as play with Akiko's mind, and they may or may not be grooming the girl into something else. By the time we meet her, she's been disowned by her parents due to her maintaining The Masquerade, she's on her own, and has had seven years of rapidly escalating psychological torment heaped on her. So it's no surprise that we first meet her right as she's attempting suicide on live national Japanese news, calling for someone to save her for a change. However, in doing so she reveals the existence of Magical Girls, and starts off the series of events that leads to the formation of the Magical Girl Alliance, and she still wants to be a Magical Girl after she's recovered, been depowered, and the Big Bad of the First Arc has been defeated. And from the consensus on the thread, she gains a new powerset, and becomes a Badass Teacher.
  • Codex Equus:
    • Crystal Prism was once a unicorn colt named Page Wheel until a chance encounter with Midnight Bell later got him kidnapped and experimented on by morally bankrupt individuals, who wanted to turn him into an Alicorn of Change and Rebirth. He became a rampaging, magic-eating monster instead, but ironically, he would become an Alicorn demigod thanks to the magic he devoured after being killed by Luminiferous and the Equestrian Princesses. Understandably, Crystal Prism's experiences were so traumatic that his life afterward was a massive ordeal, and at one point, he felt resigned to being the herald of a "new age" for Ponykind because it's the only life he has left post-Ascension. But thanks to therapeutic help from Mentálne and the encouragement from individuals like Golden Scepter to forge his own destiny, Crystal Prism instead chose to dedicate his life to promoting Change and Rebirth by helping others and doing other heroic deeds even as he recovers from his trauma.
    • Golden Scepter is a very powerful and ancient Alicorn god with an utterly Dark and Troubled Past. He is a Shell-Shocked Veteran from the "Twilight of the Alicorns", a brutal civil war that took away many of his friends and loved ones. However, Golden Scepter's PTSD and other issues didn't become apparent until he founded the Imperium of Ponykind, where they brought out many of his worst traits and deeply affected his judgment so much that a slew of terrible mistakes ultimately got him sealed away, while his Imperium crumbled and collapsed. When Golden Scepter reemerged in the Second Age, he was essentially a broken stallion, but what prevented him from breaking completely was the influence of Luminiferous and Queen Dazzleglow and his desire to redeem himself for his sins and break free from his past. Even in the Fourth Age, after losing his mortal wife to old age and having to deal problems caused by the various flaws of his nineteen demi-divine sons, Golden Scepter still manages to be a highly beloved ruler and a good parent to his children because he desires to do right by those who love and care for him. Receiving therapeutic help from Mentálne helped as well.
    • Silver Bane was a mortal champion of the Poenan Pantheon, a divine group of fanatical Knight Templars who raised him since foalhood. Taught to suppress both his emotions and his vampiric side, Silver Bane believed he was "cursed" for years, and the only way to obtain inner peace is to smite "Evil" individuals. Unfortunately, the Poenans' harmful teachings ended up nearly killing him when, during a stressful period in his life, he fell into a coma that was caused by the mental manifestation of his suppressed vampiric side, which sought to control his body out of spite. However, his friends' efforts to save him led to Silver Bane reconciling with his vampiric side and letting it permanently transform him physically and mentally, as he learned he's actually a Dhampyr and not a "turned" Pony as was assumed. While he feels incredibly guilty for both his past extremism and for listening to the Poenans despite repeated warnings from merciful factions, he strives to atone for his sins and become a "true" upholder of justice, thanks to the influence of his friends and his young adoptive Griffon daughter, Friede.
    • Moon Ray Vaughoof's life is filled with tragedies and hardships. He was frequently abused by his bad-tempered, alcoholic father as a colt, and was permanently scarred in one incident. But while he managed to achieve stardom as a Blues musician, he became a drug addict in part thanks to the toxic influence of those around him. Moon Ray was later put in rehab after a near-death experience on tour, and he discovered his beloved wife, Crystal Light, was cheating on him and stealing his money for drugs, prompting their divorce. Once completely sober, he revived his career and enjoyed even greater success... only for him to die suddenly in a helicopter accident. He became a 'Reaper' just to give himself something to do, but an encounter with an abusive mother awakened old traumas, getting him in trouble with the Three Deaths and making him realize that he needed to forgive those who hurt him in order to heal. Unfortunately, this included his abusive father, whom Moon Ray still feared even after being dead. With help from the Trimortidae, Moon Ray finally gathered the courage to confront and forgive his father, freeing himself from years worth of pain and fear while triggering his Ascension to godhood.
    • Princess Winter Opera is an illegitimate daughter of War Rock, which earned her nothing but scorn for much of her life. Almost everyone (including some superheroes) expected her to follow in her father's hoofsteps due to her relations, and as she told a horrified and disgusted Queen Eclaira millennia later, her beauty got her painted as a Succubus that seduced colts and stallions alike. When she discovered her true parentage, she felt so angry and bitter that she ran away from home. Fortunately, she would meet caring people who helped her achieve her dream of becoming a musician, but even then she still suffered, including having a bucket of blood dumped on her mid-concert for an extremely cruel prank, fending off villains who wanted to recruit her for her skill in dark magic, and facing accusations of wanting to be worshiped forever after becoming an Alicorn. And on top of that, she nearly lost one of her beloved mentors, Blue Suede Heartstrings, who snapped from three Ages worth of abuse and trauma and nearly became a corrupted Alicorn. The only reasons why she keeps going at all despite her hardships is her desire to defy public expectations of her and the positive influence of those who genuinely want to see her succeed.
    • Mitta has a truly horrifying backstory. Born in Sunnytown, she was one of the lucky few to survive a deadly bout of Cutie Pox with her entire family intact. But when Mitta's younger sister, Ruby Heart, earned her Cutie Mark by helping a neighbor find a misplaced gift, Grey Hoof formed a lynch mob and burned the filly to death in her family's own fireplace. Mitta and her parents tried to save Ruby Heart, but they were talked into letting it happen by Grey Hoof. Then Pakak happened to be there, and what he saw enraged him into cursing all of Sunnytown with zombification, including Mitta. Since then, Mitta was made a prisoner and psychologically abused by her neighbors for centuries, all to keep her from interfering while they hunt down innocent Ponies with Cutie Marks. Then young Apple Bloom is targeted, forcing Mitta to acknowledge her mistakes while empowering her to finally retaliate against her abusers by unleashing her 'Special Talent' — the ability to control plants. Mitta has come a long way since then, but she still has a lot of baggage from her experiences that many benevolent deities are helping her recover from.
    • Scarlet Bell was just a young filly when she noticed that many of her friends/classmates had gone missing, and a personal investigation revealed that the missing foals were experimented on by her beloved teachers, Noble Grace and Professor Bubbling Beaker, to uncover the secrets of divine Ascension. She managed to defeat her teachers in a fight despite being outnumbered and being vastly weaker magically, and saved as many foals as she could from the ensuing fires, but the experience left her scarred, and she moved to the Grittish Isles. Unfortunately, history would repeat itself years later when a young colt named Page Wheel was kidnapped, and Scarlet Bell's grandniece, Midnight Bell, ran off by herself to go rescue him. This kicks off a series of events that leads to Page Wheel's death and resurrection/Ascension as Crystal Prism, while Scarlet Bell discovers that Noble Grace and Bubbling Beaker had also fled to the Grittish Isles by sheer coincidence, confirming her worst fears. She finally gains some level of catharsis/closure by confronting her former teachers one last time and punching Noble Grace in the face for all the horrible things she did.
    • Cloudy Brush was born in a time when War Rock's legacy still had an impact on Ponyland as a country. When she was a teenager, a friend of hers was killed in a car accident, and her classmates went behind her back to celebrate because her deceased friend listened to War Rock's music. Cloudy Brush was furious and called out her classmates for their disrespect of the dead... only to become a bullying target because people saw her as a 'War Rock sympathizer. Her inability to grieve and the torment she endured drove her to try commit suicide, but thankfully, Moon Ray Vaughoof intervened and helped her get the closure she needed. Things turned up for her afterwards, and she became an Alicorn of the Trimortidae after death. Then the Third Age ended in part thanks to the Oceanaiads' imperialistic cruelty, leaving Cloudy Brush devastated to where she would have turned into a racist bigot if her friends didn't make her realize what she was becoming. Despite the tragedies she went through, she keeps going so she can help people mourn properly and gain closure.
    • Kúzelník was born an Elternteil Deer god of Sorcery, and it was clear he had talent. However, Irminsul and Arvan taught him to use only White Magic so he wouldn't become an Evil Sorcerer, and imparted many other toxic and hypocritical lessons that, to Kúzelník's shame, led to him and his siblings bullying Temnobog for being 'evil', despite doing nothing to warrant it. A series of awful truths regarding his parents, including their role in creating Temnobog and his twin brother Belyolen, left Kúzelník shaken, but what finally convinced him to leave was when, following the failed trial of Blue Suede Heartstrings, Irminsul accidentally blurted out during an argument that he has no qualms over 'purifying' his children of their own flaws if they fell below his standards. Kúzelník ran away from home in sheer terror, and since then, he developed a fear of being found and dragged back home by his father, while struggling to reconcile the good aspects of Sorcery with the bad ones that he was taught to avoid in light of his parents' hypocrisy. Fortunately, he found people who are much more tolerant, and he would be adopted by Golden Scepter much later.
    • Kúzelník's brother, Phoenix King Naur, didn't fare any better. While not to Temnobog's extent, Naur was emotionally abused by his own family for being born a Fire god, with Irminsul and Arvan discouraging him from using his fire magic so he wouldn't burn down the forests they protected. This influenced him to treat Temnobog coldly, yet ended up sympathizing with his younger brother in secret and actually did not want him dead for existing, unlike most of his family. After centuries of observing his family's stubborn pride and hypocrisy, Naur snaps when an Alvslog Deer Realm was destroyed thanks to his family's negligence, causing Naur to get in a heated argument with Irminsul and leave, taking yet another portion of the Elternteil Deer Pantheon with him. He becomes the beloved divine ruler/founder of the Caearnarian Deer Realms, but Naur's abusive upbringing gave him a lot of issues that he struggles to control, such as an inferiority complex and serious anger problems. Thankfully, finding support in both family and benevolent deities who accept him despite his nature is helping him recover, and like Kúzelník, he would also be adopted by Golden Scepter, who has a few fire-wielding sons of his own.
    • High King Bogolenya probably has it worst of his siblings. A prophetic vision of mortal Deerkind being led into a Golden Age by a great Deer King motivated Bogolenya's father, Irminsul, to purify his son of his inner flaws and evil so he would be turned into a perfect ruler and god. While still in-utero. This not only defiled and killed Bogolenya, but split him up into Belyolen and Temnobog. This led to Bogolenya's halves being mistreated in different ways — Belyolen is lavished with love and praise for being born good and pure, while Temnobog is shunned, bullied, and abused for being born evil and corrupt regardless of what he actually did. And thanks to Irminsul's hypocritical, bigoted, and toxic teachings, Belyolen and Temnobog clashed with each other for a long time until they learned the truth of their existences and reconciled. Despite the trauma his halves went through, Bogolenya nonetheless finds love and support in the Bogolenya Deer Pantheon, and helps out in the 'Final Ragnarok' arc after Belyolen and Temnobog fuse to save an ally from the Shadowed Ones... but not before giving Irminsul a well-deserved "The Reason You Suck" Speech for how selfishly and vicariously he treated his children.
  • Harry Potter is generally a pervert and smartass with no respect for authority in I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For. But from time to time, something causes his facade to slip for a moment and reveal how soul-crushingly lonely he is, being completely alone in the universe. Not only is he in another galaxy far, far away, but back on Earth, everyone he knew has been dead for centuries. At the start of the story, the only people he could claim as friends are Dobby, his droid he modeled after Minerva McGonagall, and a bartender he flirts with but doesn't even know the name of.
  • Jaune Arc, Lord of Hunger: Two in this RWBY/Star Wars crossover.
    • Poor Pyrrha suffers almost every bad thing she went through in canon and then some. She has to watch her team leader and friend who she's in love with slowly devolve into a dangerous sociopath, and then into a literal monster who slaughters dozens of students and innocents all around her, driving her to try and save him. Unlike in canon, Pyrrha successfully takes on Amber's Aura to become the Fall Maiden, but she effectively becomes a spiritual Frankenstein of two souls in the process. And Pyrrha doesn't just die in this continuity — she dies by the blade of the very beloved leader who she's spent the story trying to save from Nihilus after Nihilus has fully possessed him, only able to pass on the Fall Maiden power to Ruby in her dying moments and hope that the latter can finish what she started.
    • What Ruby goes through in this fic's version of the Fall of Beacon makes where her canon self ended the Fall look tame by comparison. She has a front-row seat when Nihilus possesses one of her first and closest friends at Beacon and then uses his body to slaughter countless people all around her. She also loses her beloved weapon Crescent Rose and her beloved uncle and mentor Qrow, and two of her closest friends, and her school to Nihilus' rampage before he's finally put down. To cap it off, at the fic's end, Ruby has become the new Fall Maiden, meaning she will most likely have to spend the rest of her life looking over her shoulder due to Salem's forces coveting and hunting her. Yet despite all of this, because she's Ruby, she never gives in, with Ozpin and Winter noting in "Epilogue" that Ruby is displaying remarking resilience after everything she's gone through, even if she's likely repressing severe trauma.
  • Relic of the Future:
    • Jaune Ashari fought through the end of the world as we know it and the deaths of just about everyone he ever loved in the Bad Future, which made him grief-wracked and desperate enough to agree in the heat of the moment to a deal with a dying Salem to rewind the game by sending him back in time, hoping that he could use it to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Although he makes many meaningful friends and family in the past timeline, it is not all sunshine and rainbows for Jaune. More than being faced with younger alternate iterations of his friends and loved ones whom are now over a decade younger and don't know him the same way they knew him in the old timeline, some of the changes Jaune makes to history are for the worse instead of the better, and those changes often hit very close to home. For examples, he saves a child Ruby's life but in the process traumatizes her to the point where his first friend's alternate self can't so much as be near him without feeling afraid for years, he feels responsible for his presence driving Salem to radicalize the White Fang several years early and for Blake's new timeline self going down a darker path where she essentially swaps roles with Adam, and Pyrrha's counterpart — who is a living, breathing reminder of Jaune's partner and first love who he lost — ends up being adverse and alienated towards Jaune Ashari in the past. Jaune is also deeply shaken by encountering living versions of his parents and sisters in the past after their counterparts in his timeline were slaughtered, knowing that he can never ingratiate himself with their living counterparts because they have their own Jaune without all the timey-wimey complications. Still, for every pain and loss in the new timeline, Jaune has a connection he didn't have before to keep living and fighting for, and he presses on, undeterred in his goal of stopping Salem while preventing the deaths of his friends at any cost.
    • Adam Taurus, part of the White Fang from a young age, was inspired by Jaune's actions to achieve equal rights for the Faunus without having to resort to using actual violence against their opponents (merely the threat of it); which prevented his worst impulses from growing out of control. When Hazel and Tyrian take over the White Fang, Adam is dismayed as they and Sienna turn the organization into a bloodthirsty terrorist network that he feels spits in the eye of what the White Fang originally stood for, and he can't do anything to stop his lifelong partner Blake in her grief from being radicalized into becoming the same kind of unrepentant murderer that Adam could have been; with the White Fang holding her life in front of him as a bargaining chip to keep him under heel. All of this drives Adam to ruthlessly ally with Jaune Arc and Winter Schnee to help them brutally take down the White Fang once and for all, on the absolute condition that Blake be spared at the end of it. Adam succeeds in those goals, and afterwards he takes over Menagerie to bring human-Faunus relations closer to equality... but his victory has come at the cost of the woman he saved disowning him and their former lifelong friendship being destroyed forever.

  • Shinji Ikari in The Second Try invoked it willingly. After 3rd Impact and losing his (and Asuka's) child because they traveled back time to do the whole damn story again, he keeps on keeping on so he can prevent 3rd Impact and create a better future. Since Asuka is slowly giving into depression (and Character Development during 3rd Impact) he is the only thing keeping them both on track.
  • Elissa, in the Dragon Age: Origins story Shadow and Rose, is very much this. Her entire family is murdered, then she's one of only two Grey Wardens to survive a massacre of a battle. She and her fellow Warden are then blamed for all the deaths in that battle and hunted relentlessly while they try to rally forces to help them save the country. All the while, she picks up new friends who each have their own personal demons that she must help them overcome. She can't give up or her country is doomed, so all she can do is continue to fight — and occasionally find a reason to smile.
  • Sweetie Belle from the Recursive Fanfiction The Sweetie Chronicles: Fragments; the fic starts with her mentor Twilight Sparkle getting crystallized and blown up in a magic accident, with Sweetie stuck hopping across The Multiverse trying to put her back together. From there she's been attacked by werewolves, Fallout ghouls, psychopaths, and other monsters, killed several times by an insane shard of Twilight, watched an alternate universe Rarity cut down one of her best friends in cold blood, been physically and psychologically tortured by The Fair Folk until she became a living statue, got roped into a war between ponies and Changelings despite her calls for peace, and she gets the occasional vision of how her absence has emotionally destroyed her universe's Rarity. Yet she keeps moving on, in the hope that her journey will end and she and Twilight can go home.
  • Takato Matsuki from the Tamers Forever Series could be the poster boy for this trope, the amount of physical and mental torment he suffers through over the course of the series must be seen to be believed, but he take it all on with a smile on his face.
  • The human incarnation of Penny Polendina in With Pearl and Ruby Glowing. She starts out with birth defects, requiring several organ transplants and a pacemaker, is bullied in school for her odd behaviour and when she transitions to female, and then she survives a White Fang subway bombing, is raped by one of them, and is so badly injured she ends up with all four limbs being amputated. Her father builds hi-tech artificial limbs and she gets around just fine, and she seems remarkably upbeat.

    Films — Animation 
  • Coco: Héctor, the estranged musician who went on a music tour and was never heard from by his family again, who was murdered by his best friend for wanting to return home and spent 96 years trying to see his daughter Coco before he was completely forgotten. Not only did his family refuse to remember him, when his wife Imelda died, she refused to listen to his desperate attempts at apologizing, and it was only through Miguel mistakenly believing his best friend to be his great-great-grandfather that he learned the truth of how he died, got his chance to reunite with his family, and finally see Coco without being forgotten.
  • Po in the Kung Fu Panda series. In the first film, Po has to get over both the taunts of his teammates and his own crippling self-esteem issues in order to become the Dragon Warrior. In the second, he learns about how his people were massacred by Lord Shen, including his mother. However, to Shen's astonishment, Po manages to come to terms with his past to achieve an inner peace that enables him to defeat a warfleet armed with cannons by himself.
  • Mario in The Super Mario Bros. Movie. He's spent most of his life standing up for his brother and his core trait is being a Determinator even in the face of massive danger. However, he holds a lot of insecurity about his small stature and inability to please his family, which is why he refuses to give up on saving his kidnapped brother.
  • Wreck-It Ralph:
    • Vanellope. This little girl is a tough cookie despite being considered a "mistake."
    • Ralph endured thirty years as a pariah in his game before "going turbo" and he planned to return before anything bad happened.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ellen Ripley from the Alien franchise. In the first film, she's the sole survivor against a creature which killed her shipmates. In the second film, she gets demoted for destroying her ship in her attempt to destroy the creature, and in the extended cut, we learn her daughter grew up and died during her overextended time in cryo-sleep. When's she's called back by her company to investigate the colony on the planet from the first film, she finds another Iron Woobie in Rebecca "Newt" Jorden, the sole child survivor of the colony's infestation.
  • Lorraine McFly, Marty's mother in the alternate 1985 in Back to the Future Part II. She's an alcoholic like in the very first timeline, and has been in an abusive marriage to Biff Tannen after he'd murdered George, staying with him only because he threatens to financially cut off herself and her children if she tries to leave. Thankfully, Marty fixes the timeline so that she doesn't suffer this fate.
  • Dragonheart: The dragon race as a whole, they swore to protect and guide mankind and yet they would end up being persecuted, hunted and driven to near-extinction by those they had sworn to protect, despite all of this they kept to their oath, down to the last dragon.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Amber is a trailer park kid working two jobs who just wants to improve her situation in life but has to deal with constant and mean-spirited sabotage, the murder of her crush, her mother being horribly injured in a bombing (which nearly makes her quit the pageant), and the apparent loss of her dream, just before the ending gives her another chance. Throughout it all, she never stops being pleasant and practical.
  • Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle: Tauriq Jackson has been harassed his whole life — Harold finds him in jail accused of robbery — but has learned a long time ago not to get riled up (and to be happy about his large penis). It pays off when he sues the department and has the racist cops thrown in the can.
  • Knives Chau in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. Though an Action Girl in both the comic book and the film, the film incarnation truly makes the transition to Iron Woobie and is a deciding factor in Scott's final victory against the Big Bad. In the comics, Knives instead sheds much of her woobie status by realizing that Scott is something of a Jerkass where relationships are concerned, and actively decides to move on for her own good.
  • Shot Caller: Jacob sees his entire life destroyed in front of him after he gets sentenced to prison and falls deep into the criminal world to defend himself in the process, but he takes it like a man. Never once does he truly complain as he sacrifices himself for his family.
  • Star Wars:
    • Obi-Wan Kenobi. His master gets killed before his eyes while he is powerless to prevent it, he becomes a master long before he is ready, he winds up fighting in a war that goes against all he believes in, watches his friends and clone trooper comrades either be violently killed in battle or live long enough to be mentally enslaved by the very republic they were fighting for, his padawan and Heterosexual Life-Partner turns to the Dark Side and massacres the only family Obi-Wan has, he's forced to fight said former friend to the death, he lives in exile for nineteen years and then is killed by the same old friend he couldn't bring himself to kill years before. And that's not even mentioning the Expanded Universe. But he'll never compromise his principles, retaining his status as The Paragon through all the hardship. At the most, he'll snark about things, and it takes a lot to get him to show any negative emotion.
    • Leia, so so much. Biological mother dead in childbirth, and her twin brother taken away for decades. Tortured by her biological father after he'd massacred her ship's crew (though she didn't know his true identity at the time). Saw her homeworld blown up along with her foster parents by a smirking Imperial. Harried across much of the galaxy, with trusted Rebel allies dying all the while. Watched the guy she's falling for get frozen alive, not knowing if he'll live through it. Captured and dressed up like a sex slave by a revolting slug gangster. Found out her friend is her long-lost brother just in time to watch him go off and potentially get killed. Had to accept that her torturer was her biological dad. Gave birth to a son who turned to the Dark Side, causing her husband and brother to leave in grief and/or shame. Kicked out of politics when her status as Darth Vader's daughter got leaked to the public. Saw the star system where nearly all of her allies lived blown up. Force-felt her son murder her husband. Lost virtually every surviving ally to yet another harrying enemy force, while narrowly escaping dying in the vacuum of space. Finally gave up hope that her son could ever be redeemed. Force-felt a loved one's death again when her long-lost brother expired from exertion. How is this woman even sane?!
  • Sarah Connor of the Terminator movies bears traces of this. In The Terminator, she loses her roommate and best friend, her mother and the love of her life. By Terminator 2: Judgment Day, she has been committed to an asylum, and has not seen her son in years. Despite all this, she never loses sight of her responsibilities, and remains determined to mold John into the leader humanity needs him to be. And then comes Terminator: Dark Fate. In this timeline, SKYNET's creation had been averted in the second film, but multiple T-800s had already been sent back into the past. One of these Terminators found them and murdered John right in front of her, carrying out a mission from a future that no longer existed. She spent the following decades tracking down and destroying these remnant Terminators with help from an anonymous informant, only to later find that another young woman like her past self was being targeted by Legion, another evil supercomputer that was built in SKYNET's absence. On top of that, she finds out that the informant who had been helping her over the years was the very same T-800 that killed her son, seeking to atone after living without orders. By the end of the film, she joins up with the young woman to keep fighting the future and try to avert the new Judgement Day.
  • Lawrence Talbot, Universal Studios' The Wolf Man (1941), is depicted as this in his later appearances, once he resigns himself to never finding a cure and starts making the best of it by becoming The Atoner, siccing his monstrous side on other monsters. Given that he can't ever keep himself dead when he attempts suicide, becoming an Iron Woobie is really his only alternative.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • Job from The Bible could well be the Trope Codifier. He's a kind a decent man who loses everything (including is family members all dying) due to Satan trying to make him lose his hope and faith. He manages to persist nonetheless, and is rewarded at the end with more wealth than before, as well as his family being brought Back from the Dead.
  • Jesus Christ can also be seen this way. All through the Passion and the Crucifixion, He is fearful and sad, but keeps right on going, assured that His sacrifice is worth the pain.
    I offered my back to the floggers, and my cheeks to those who tore out my hair. I did not hide my face from insult and spittle. But the Lord GOD will help me— therefore I feel no disgrace; therefore I have set my face like flint, and I know I shall not be shamed. (Isaiah 50:6-7)

  • Lucretia of The Adventure Zone: Balance definitely qualifies. Lost her home plane to an all consuming Eldritch Abomination, was chased through the multiverse by said abomination for a century, had to erase her dear friends' memories in a bid to protect them, treating Barry as an enemy and her captain as her ward, lost the majority of her youth and almost her life in Wonderland, and saw her friends return to danger without their memories of her... all for the Hunger to find them anyways.

  • Chiaroscuro Themyst from Sinai Muck is a cute mongoose character who got trapped in another world, has to deal with a constant buzzing noise in his head, originally speaks in broken English and gets mistreated because he's often mistaken as a kavi yet he seems to function rather well. He crosses the line from Iron Woobie to pure Woobie in this log though.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Adamant caste Alchemical Exalted. Their duty is to keep the Eight Nations safe without the Octet ever finding out they exist. They spend most of their time in the dark, alone except for a tide of horrible monsters. They wait, and they watch, but if they do break protocol and reveal themselves to a small group of mortals or an assembly of Alchemicals, thanks to their anima effect it's likely their contacts will never remember who they are. Yet most of them keep carrying the torch of Autochthon's will into the darkness and use it to burn gremlins for people who will never know what they go through.
  • In Rocket Age the Iotes have this as their hat. Bombed back into the stone age in aeons past, the Iotes have degenerated from being beautiful and graceful creatures to hideous and disease ridden. Living on a irradiated rock with limited resources and constant warfare, they have been forced to have an amazing level of emotional resistance and tend to accept even the worst turns of events as a natural part of life.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • You have Commisar Yarrick, who is a simple old man... that has been involved in the defense of Armageddon from two Ork WAAAGH!s (read: global invasion). He has seen and sent thousands of men to their deaths, and he's been in charge of the war effort for a long time. He gets ambushed by Orks, and yet manages to stay alive and somehow make the Orks, who are all large aliens that live for the thrill of war afraid of him. He does all of this by himself. There is also a short story published by Black Library titled "Survivor" which is connected to his past.
    • And then there's Kaldor Draigo. He's hated by a lot of players because of his lore — he's a member of the Grey Knights, who are already badass compared to the other badasses of the 40K universe. They face the greatest horrors of the Warp, fighting daemons and spawns of Chaos, which would normally leave a normal person insane. He gets the even shorter end of the stick — he gets sucked into the Warp itself, and he's mostly trapped in it. He, however, refuses to surrender; even if all the victories he manages to win inside the Warp are fleeting since the daemons just reform elsewhere, he keeps on fighting alone, walking the Warp.
    • Chapter-wise, there's the Lamenters. A successor chapter of the Blood Angels, they are miraculously free from the Red Thirst and Black Rage thanks to the Mechanicus' effort. But in return, they are afflicted with something that's arguably even worse, perpetually bad luck. They've been thrust against unsurmountable odds, succeeding yet ultimately failing, misunderstood, distrusted, and generally avoided like the plague. Even out of universe, not many would play them (and give them the spotlight of the day) since their checkerboard emblem is a hassle to paint. Yet despite all these against them, they remain loyal to the Imperium and strive to be humanity's guardian and avenging angels. Many have fallen to Chaos for much, much less.
    • As of Gathering Storm, we had the revived Roboute Guilliman, Primarch of the Ultramarines. Long story short, it takes a special kind of person to say the following speech yet deciding to continue the fight.
    "Why do I still live? What more do you want from me? I gave everything I had to you, to them. Look what they've done to our dream. This bloated, rotting carcass of an empire is not driven by reason and hope, but by fear, hate and ignorance. Better that we all burned in the fires of Horus' ambition than lived to see this."

  • Horton the Elephant from Seussical. Everyone he knows thinks he's crazy for taking care of a speck of dust, he's been chased all over the jungle, he's left with Mayzie's egg for months and months and in the process is captured by hunters and sold to a circus, but he never once gives up. Never.
  • Viola from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night. After escaping from a shipwreck that her twin brother may have perished in, she takes a deep breath in lieu of mourning and dresses as a man to serve as the page of Duke Orsino. She goes on to fall in love with him and suffer in silence as he loudly pines over the woman he wants instead of her.
  • Elphaba from Wicked, the theater version. Not only is she green-skinned and thus shunned, her father has always blamed her (and thus she blames herself) for her mother's death and sister's paraplegia. Then the Wizard, whom she looked up to and was sure would help stop the Animals from being silenced turns out to be the *cause* of it, and he not only disappoints her but calls for her death. Then her sister dies and she cannot even have the only thing that remains of her, Nessa's magical slippers. Finally, just after reconciling with her best friend, she will never see her because she either dies or fakes her death. On the upside, if you assume she lives, she did finally get to be with her lover, Fiyero.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Makoto Naegi was Born Unlucky. He has the worst day ever before he receives an invitation to attend Hope's Peak Academy, which sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime...only to then be thrust into a killing game with 14 other students. The girl he has a crush on dies after attempting to frame him for murder, the other students almost get him wrongfully executed, and to top it all off, when he and the five survivors finally escape, the outside world is revealed to be a hellhole of despair. Yet in spite of it all, Makoto remains a forgiving Nice Guy, still believes the best in people, and encourages his friends not to lose hope. He's such a believer that Rousseau Was Right that when given the chance to kill the fanatical followers of the person who put him and his friends through hell, he instead decides to give them all a second chance through rehabilitation in the Neo World Program. Worse still, the Future Foundation wants him dead for this, and when he's captured, is forced to experience another killing game, where his girlfriend dies (temporarily) just to save him.. It's no wonder he earns the title of Ultimate Hope.
    • Aoi Asahina, also known as Hina, started off as a talented swimmer until the apocalypse outside Hope's Peak Academy and the headmaster sealed her inside along with the other students of his own classroom. She's then victim of being trapped in Monokuma's killing game, where she witnesses many of her own classmates murder each other and often feels bad for the deceased no matter who they were. She ultimately almost breaks in Chapter 4 where her best friend Sakura Ogami kills herself. Having been lied to by Monokuma in form of a fake suicide note, she wants everyone of the current survivors, including herself, to commit Suicide by Cop. After being revealed that Sakura's actual suicide note wanted everyone to live, she very much regrets this action and fortunately is Easily Forgiven. Later in Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, without her knowing, her brother dies as part of being one of the players of The Warriors Of Hope's game due to trying to escape from it, and in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School is victim of another killing game, where she relives the same experience of people killing each other, with one of her friends temporarily dying in front of her. However, even after all of this, she still mantains her bubbly personality, and is always in support of her dear friends, often being the reason why Makoto keeps beliving in people.
  • Ryuuguu Rena in Higurashi: When They Cry evolves into this in several paths, to the point that in one of them, she laughs and mocks the Big Bad right before being shot to death.
  • Poor Simon Blackquill in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies. The series has no end of woobies, but Simon is definitely of the iron variety. He apparently walked in on a very young Athena with her dead mother Metis, covered in blood, and saying she was taking her mom apart to fix her. Harrowing enough, but then Simon confesses to the killing of Athena's mother to protect the poor little girl from having her whole life even more broken, gets sentenced to death, serves 7 years of hard time for it (while Athena is working hard to become a lawyer and save him), and comes within a day of his execution before the entire mess is solved once and for all, thanks to Athena and her friends's efforts. Yet he still seems pretty normal, if a little surly and fond of dark humour...
    • Also from Ace Attorney, we have Apollo Justice. Over the course of his life, he loses his biological father, his mother disappears, and the person who takes him in and becomes his adoptive father is a wanted criminal in a country where defense attorneys effectively don't exist. He's sent away from said country and the only family he's ever known because it's simply too dangerous for him to stay, effectively becoming an orphan. As he's growing up, he comes to idolize Phoenix Wright as a legendary defense attorney, but then Phoenix is disbarred due to presenting forged evidence, effectively ruining the image of his idol. Then his first trial involves accusing his own boss of murder, which costs him his job. His fourth-ever case then involves finding out that said boss who had taken him under his wing was the reason his idol got disbarred in the first place, and was also a sociopathic, egotistical, manipulative bastard who framed Wright out of petty jealousy and tried to kill everyone who knew about it. Then his best friend is murdered, he's seriously injured in a courtroom bombing during the trial to determine who killed him, and his Living Lie Detector ability points to his new coworker who he had been bonding with over the course of the game as being potentially responsible (though luckily for the both of them, she isn't). He then meets his adoptive brother from his time in Khura'in for the first time in years, but instead of a friendly reunion, it's a courtroom battle to determine the fate of one of his other best friends and (unknown to him) half-sister, where his brother is spouting corrupt ideals that run counter to everything he used to believe and goes against everything Dhurke taught the two of them. Then he nearly drowns, is rescued by his adoptive father, has to take on his new boss in a civil suit that turns into a murder mystery, flies halfway around the world and winds up defending his adoptive father in Khura'in, which as previously mentioned is still filled to the brim with anti-defense attorney sentiment and laws that could get him executed, realizes halfway through that trial that Dhurke had been dead the whole time and was being channeled by Maya and then Amara. Then as he slowly uncovers the truth, he's held at gunpoint and threatened by the queen of a nation. Despite all this, he's never once backed down or let the despair get to him, and in the end he winds up overthrowing the ruler of Khura'in by proving that her claim to the throne is illegitimate, undoing decades of anti-lawyer laws and propaganda, taking on his adoptive father's legacy, and stays behind to help fix the judicial system of a country.
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney also introduces Klavier Gavin, the game's main prosecutor. He maintains a relaxed and friendly demeanor in the courtroom and is the first prosecutor to genuinely not care at all about winning as long as the verdict reached is correct. He manages to keep up his kindness and honesty even as Apollo reveals that his brother manipulated him into ruining Phoenix's life and is a double murderer besides and one of his best friends is a Dirty Cop and also a murderer. And when he reappears in Dual Destinies, he's helping solve the murder of his beloved mentor, Constance Courte. He's never having a good day when he appears, but he still manages to keep smiling and only really breaks down during the 4-4 trial.
  • Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow has its Player Character, Saori Shishido. She's a Plucky Girl Action Survivor who not only loses her beloved brother at the start of the game, but must carry on with his mission on top of hiding her true self (and not just because of the Sweet Polly Oliver disguise she has to take on). And yet she's kind to a fault and never gives up on her goals.
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, Battler Ushiromiya endures Trauma Conga Line after Trauma Conga Line. Will it stop him from trying to find the truth? No.

    Web Animation 
  • Camp Camp: David is always beaten up, mauled, insulted, and humiliated by everyone and everything at Camp Campbell. Yet even with all the abuse he takes in life, he always stays positive and cares about making sure everyone at camp at least has fun.
  • Katy Towell's Childrin R Skary has a few examples, most notably the titular Ida from "Ida's Luck", who is tormented and finally almost killed but who still manages to muster the energy to fend off monsters. The protagonist of "The Mockingbird Song" also fits this trope by the end.
  • Jaiden Animations: Jaiden herself is very pitiable thanks to how many awful things have happened to her, yet she tends to take it all in stride. Of note are her bursts of anxiety which pop up at the most inopportune occasions, having to cope with the rampant Rule 34 made of her, her irrational fear of the dentist which was worsened by going to a quack dentistry as an adult, her eating disorder which had devastating effects on her body and mental health, and her outbreak of hives that caused her to briefly become a Death Seeker due to how painful it was. And despite all of these misfortunes, she's still willing to convert them into silly, charming animations as a way to get them off of her chest.
  • RWBY:
    • Ruby Rose. During the Vytal Festival tournament, she watched a close friend gruesomely dismember another friend, knowing both had been manipulated by the villains but unable to intervene in time to save them. This triggers a cascade of trauma that eventually leads to her apologising to Jaune for dragging him into everything; Jaune tells her that she's actually a source of inspiration and bravery for others because she keeps on fighting even when she's lost so much. However, it's Oscar who later forces her to admit how she really feels and how she keeps going despite it. Volume 3 involves a battle where she sees her school destroyed, her sister lose an arm, Pyrrha murdered in front of her eyes, and her entire team be disbanded. This leaves her experiencing nightmares of Pyrrha's voice, hinting at Survivor Guilt. This becomes more obvious when her uncle Qrow intervenes to help her fight Tyrian; when she keeps helping Qrow despite his protests, he has to save her from his own Semblance, allowing Tyrian to poison Qrow. Volumes 7-8 hint at her trauma over her mother's death when she briefly collapses after Salem implies she killed Summer, and again when she realises why Salem wants Silver-Eyed Warriors and what that means about her mother's death. However, she keeps getting back up until Volume 9 where all the trauma from Volume 8 finally overwhelms her; vulnerable to manipulation by both Neo and an Afteran villain, she turns on her companions, breaks down and is ultimately driven to attempt suicide; however, upon speaking to the Blacksmith and learning that her mother wasn't perfect, she realises that she's setting impossible standards for herself and accepts that it's okay to be flawed. This rallies her strength and reinvigorates her, allowing her to return to her friends with renewed resolve.
    • Nora Valkyrie spent her childhood as an orphan Street Urchin, often having to steal food from the garbage in order to feed at all, being bullied by other kids, she was alone when the Nuckelavee attacked the village, being stuck below a house until Ren saves her, she then goes on to survive with him by her side, deciding to suppress her feelings for him. Way later, she faces the death of her good friend Pyrrha, and to find answers, she agrees to leave everything behind and go with Ren, Jaune and Ruby to Haven, at which point, she has to face with the Nuckelavee again, in a battle that almost costs Ren's life due to his own Unstoppable Rage, until she has to snap him back to sanity. Despite having a hard life, she keeps her cheerfulness, bravery and keeps the spirits high in her team; it fuels her passion and rage to help Mantle in Volume 7, challenging General Ironwood's hurtful policies when even the other heroes don't.
    • Ozpin has... had a rough existence. He was originally a great hero who rescued an imprisoned, lonely girl named Salem. The two fell in love, but he soon fell ill and died. His lover tried to bring him back by asking the gods to revive him, but her methods triggered a war that turned the gods against humanity. The God of Light asked him to guide humanity to salvation, but he would be forced to keep reincarnating until this day came and, if he fails, the gods will destroy humanity once and for all. Although reincarnation reunited him with Salem, her method of helping unite humanity eventually made him realise how dangerous she had become. Trying to save their children from her machinations led to a terrible confrontation between them that got their children killed, causing him to spend many lifetimes reeling with grief until he was able to pull himself back together and return to his divine mission. He has spent thousands of years trying to unite humanity, such as creating the Huntsmen Academies to teach humanity the value of team-work and cooperation while also teaching them how to fight the Grimm. However, Salem's quest to destroy everything he ever achieves and to divide humanity makes his task impossible while she lives; but she cannot be destroyed, forcing him to keep fighting an Invincible Villain with no end or resolution in sight. After having experienced too many times how the truth about Salem's immortality turns people against him by destroying their hope through fear, he has created such a web of deceit to protect humanity from despair that he has lost sight of who he used to be and struggles to retain his ability to believe in the best of people. Despite this, he keeps struggling onwards and trying to put a brave face on things, no matter how terrible things become, how many mistakes he makes, or how alone he feels.
    • Oscar Pine. A small boy, living with his aunt on a dirt farm in bumblesquat nowhere, finds his mind invaded by the soul of an ancient, horrifyingly powerful man, suddenly has memories he didn't have before, loses all sense of privacy, and starts going insane before Ozpin gets the explanation through to him. A sense of moral obligation - and Ozpin's pestering - force him to abandon his aunt without warning, then charge through the rain to a train station, where he can't afford a ticket. He gets spooked by a member of Salem's group, then has to make his way to Mistral, all the while Ozpin floods his mind with knowledge of the ancient conflict between himself and Salem. By the time he finally meets Qrow and team RNJR, he's scared, alone, and confused. Luckily, he does gain some confidence later on, until he figures out the extent of Ozpin's deceit, forcing him to fight Ozpin for control over his own body just to warn the heroes what's happening. Not only is Oscar now aware of how hopeless the quest he was drafted for is, but he is facing the potential loss of his entire identity as he merges into the gestalt entity the heroes know as "Ozpin". And, as the physical vessel of Ozpin, Oscar discovers that if anyone becomes violently upset with Ozpin, the person they're actually punching or slamming into walls is him. Despite this, he vows to keep going and tells the heroes that he intends to help them against Salem for whatever time he has left. Even when he is shot and send tumbling down Atlas to Mantle below without any Aura to protect him, he doesn't allow panic to overwhelm him, which enables him to discover the power he needs to unlock to save himself. Instead of being left shaken by the near-death experience, he simply picks himself up and orders Ozpin to help him save Atlas next. Despite being tortured by Salem in Volume 8, he never gives in, turns some of Salem's subordinates against her, then single-handedly nukes the monster that is destroying Atlas, putting Salem out of commission just long enough for the heroes to save the kingdom's people.

  • Critical Miss strip "Full Metal Genesis" uses this trope as a Take That! contrast between Alphonse Elric and Shinji Ikari.
  • El Goonish Shive: Susan was introduced as warlike Straw Feminist, but turned out mostly harmless, except for those who deserved to taste a Hyperspace Mallet. Then we find out that not only this quirk has a Freudian Excuse, the same compulsive memory warps her whole life and doesn't let her to be happy. And she manages to set aside even this to help a friend. In the school uniforms plotline, She challenges the school administration over the new uniforms, which she finds sexist. The student body, who all HATE the uniforms, hate HER even more because she isn't challenging them enough. "Nothing that makes me happy ever lasts." Eventually, the uniforms are removed not by Susan's constant activism, but complaints from parents about laundry. Later a flashback shows us how, while on a class trip to France, she was attacked by an Aberration, recruited/tricked by Immortals to help Nanase hunt it down and kill it, and ended up killing it herself. Immediately afterward, her expression shifts from happy to jaded, and stays there for years.
  • Punch, AKA Adam, a Frankenstein's Monster from Girl Genius, is stated in the shows about the Heterodyne Boys to be mute, because after all the shit 'n' abuse he goes through, "He's always with the dignity". The real reason is that he's a construct who wasn't well-made though Gilgamesh is shown to have given him the ability to speak after rebuilding him, and his wife, Judy/Lilith, has mismatched eyes for the same reason.
  • Yuri Hasagashi, aka "Iron Violet: The Shy Titan" is a very shy and insecure girl. Abusive Parents has been implied to be the source of this. Despite this past trauma (and other referenced moments of bullying), Yuri is a sweet, caring girl who uses the vast superhuman strength she developed to protect others instead of lashing out with them. It's a wonder how she would have turned out if not for the kindness and care of her loving best friend and caring father figure...
  • Nodwick has died 538 times, usually because his employers are too lazy to pick up a 10-foot pole. Many of these deaths have been slow and painful. He hardly complains, and when the forces of goodness offer to remove him from all this he turns them down (after seeing what this does to his companions or replacement). He still saves the world every other plotline.
  • O-Chul of The Order of the Stick is an example Made of Iron. Blasted through the air from the losing end of a brutal battle, captured and tortured by Team Evil, given half a chance to escape he takes the opportunity to strike out at Xykon and Redcloak, no matter how many times he's humiliatingly beaten down for the effort. O-Chul maintains his code of honor without complaint, and can even show consideration for others through the worst of his torments. His resilience and compassion throughout his imprisonment may also have laid the groundwork for a Heel–Face Turn on the part of Xykon's most powerful minion (which could very well save the world at some crucial point down the line).
  • Kokoro "Heartful Punch" Aichi from Sleepless Domain. On top of all the dangers inherent in magical girl work, she gets entangled in Undyne's troubles, which almost got her Eaten Alive by a monster, she's a daughter of a magical girl that got pregnant in her teens and died in her infancy, and she's estranged with her father who understandably doesn't want her to risk her life. In spite of that, she maintains a positive demeanor and keeps on trucking.
  • Bubbles in Questionable Content is an unusually literal example: a retired combat droid, implied to be the only survivor of her human squad, who was censured by the other robots for getting involved in human conflict; an Extreme Doormat to a boss who cheerfully tells her that humans will never accept her; and a shut-in with No Social Skills who avoids being seen by humans. While she's usually quite stoic about it, when she's rattled, it shows.

    Web Original 
  • Gino Gambino, especially in Gaia Online's earlier storylines. Subjected to malnutrition, immoral experimentation, fatherly disapproval, vampire kidnappings, Easy Amnesia, and yet when his dad's been sniped off the top of a skyscraper, Gino jumps after him, because he cares about him that damn much. Sadly this has faded in some of the more recent storylines, where he's more of a whiny Butt-Monkey.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Vi was a street urchin who always had a hard life, starting with her birth parents being killed by Enforcers. Throughout the series she gets into fights that cause her painful and severe injuries, but she often wins them, or at the very least recovers to fight again. Sometime after the heist that caused destruction in Piltover, Vi decides to spare her siblings from being sent to prison by enforcers and take all the blame for herself, but is stopped by Vander. Then she witnesses the gory slaughter of Vander's friend Benzo and Vander getting kidnapped. When she tries to rescue him, her sister Jinx causes an explosion that murders their entire family. Shortly after, Vi is sent to a prison where she faces corporal punishment, with the only thing keeping her going was the thought of seeing her sister again. And when she finally meets her sister, she has become an Ax-Crazy Mad Bomber who is devoted to the man who put their family in danger, and blames Vi for everything. Despite all the changes Jinx went through, Vi tries to reach out to Powder even after she's kidnapped by Jinx and cruelly goaded to kill her new friend, Caitlyn, in order to get Powder back. At the end of Act 3, she hopelessly watches Jinx choose her destructive path despite all her attempts at reaching her.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Prince Zuko is one. All his childhood he's been shunned and treated horribly by his own father and his sister for not being a prodigy in firebending. His mother who loves him left one night for mysterious reasons. When Zuko was 13, his father challenged him to a cruel duel because "he shamed his father" by speaking up in a war meeting. When Zuko refused to fight, his father burned his face in public, banished him and sent him to hunt the Avatar who has been gone for a hundred years to regain his honor. Then he lost his men, his small ship, and all his possessions and became a wanted fugitive of the Fire Nation along with his uncle. He experienced hunger and watched his uncle beg for money and finally he was forced to do dishonorable things such as stealing to survive. When he was welcomed back to the Fire Nation he realized he wasn't happy being on the bad side so he betrayed his family, left his girlfriend and sacrificed his status as a prince to help the Avatar. Summed up as this way: "I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."
  • The Legend of Korra:
    • Asami Sato. It's just sad to watch her. To sum it up, and most of this happens within a few weeks time, her mother was killed by a Firebender when she was six, she discovered her father was an Equalist after spending a whole day defending him, has to turn on her father because she wanted to do the right thing and has to leave the comfortable life she has always known, she finds out that Korra has a crush on her boyfriend and he might reciprocate, she gets arrested because of her father, then has to see her boyfriend go crazy trying to find Korra and neglect her, and when she chooses to confront Mako, since he's horribly not good with people, he reacts badly and things go worse. And yet she refuses to break for a long time, until "The Sting" when Future Industries goes bankrupt after a robbery. She also witnesses the near death of Korra, her close friend, and for three years, was the only one to know how much Korra was suffering while recovering far away from her, since Korra only wrote letters to her. During the final fight with Kuvira, she watches her father perform a Heroic Sacrifice for her. And her company is destroyed in that fight again. And then, she does her best to bring herself back together.
    • Korra herself, especially by Book 4. She's been cut off from the avatar cycle, poisoned, nearly paralyzed due to severe injuries (and spends two years in a wheelchair, relearning how to walk), and nearly killed. The very skill she enjoyed using the most, fighting, deteriorated to the point that even after somewhat physically recovering, can't even stop a common thief. But with years spent hard at work recovering (and help from loved ones, previous friends of the last Avatar, and the very person who caused her that trauma), she becomes the incredibly powerful Avatar she used to be, and saves Republic City from Kuvira's Fantastic Nuke by relating to her pain and fear.
  • Batman himself in Batman: The Brave and the Bold's Lighter and Softer Animated Adaptation of Emperor Joker. He is tackled by The Joker, and it goes From Bad to Worse when Bat-Mite accidentally gives the Joker his powers, turning him into a God-Emperor who uses them to twist the world in his own way. From that time on, the Dark Knight is forced into a Death Montage as he gets killed and then brought back repeatedly, with poor powerless Bat-Mite being Forced to Watch the carnage. It is not until he is revived from the last Death Trap of the electric chair that he uses Reverse Psychology to beg the Joker not to take away his sanity. And through it all, he defends himself and his own mind from the Joker, telling him that they both need each other to survive. The Dark Knight truly needs a hug after all that.
  • Castlevania (2017): Alucard, born Adrian Tepes, is Dracula and Lisa's son. In the first episode alone, with everything seemingly going well for his family after a happy childhood, the Church ransacks his mother Lisa's house and condemns her as a "witch" for being a practiced medic. Adrian's mother is burned alive and his father snaps, his one tether to humanity turned to ash. Adrian pleaded with Dracula but was tossed aside and horribly wounded, forced to go into hiding as his father rose up an army to destroy all humanity. Flash-forward to the present day and Alucard is awakened by Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades. After a battle with Trevor, and eventually, with Dracula's army on the rise, Alucard swears to destroy his own father, remaining stalwart and unflappable through the majority of the second season but with hints of pure misery he holds back like when Sypha talks to him in the Belmont library, described by Sypha as a "cold spot" sucking out all joy in his presence. In the end, Alucard is the one to stop his own father, witnessing Dracula break down before him when their pitched fight takes them into Alucard's own childhood room, using a board from his old bed to stake him before Trevor finishes the job. At the end of it all, Alucard collapses into tears.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog:
    • The titular Courage is the perpetually fearful protector of the Bagge residence. Abandoned as a pup after his parents were sent to outer space, Courage had since devoted himself to keeping Muriel safe. Despite his fears, Courage constantly puts himself in harm's way whether it be getting beaten within an inch of his life in a game of dodge ball, or taking grievous injuries. In the end, Courage lives up to his name in spite of being afraid.
    • The Hunchback of Nowhere is a man of unsightly appearance. Constantly shunned for his looks, the Hunchback finds kindness in the form of Muriel and Courage, playing shadow games and bell ringing for the latter, and staging a live performance for the former. When Eustace tries to demean him for his psyche, the Hunchback retaliates by calling him bald. He also stands up in Courage's defense by making Eustace realize that he was ugly on the inside.
  • Eddy from Ed, Edd n Eddy. It is revealed in the movie that he was only pretending to be a jerk as a desperate cry for friendship after years of abuse from his older brother. It is especially hard to stomach considering all the times Eddy is beaten, humiliated and punished throughout the series, as well as being pratically raped by Lee Kanker on a daily basis.
  • The Huckleberry Hound Show: Huckleberry Hound spends the majority of his appearances playing Extreme Doormat and taking slapstick abuse from the universe around him, however his mellow, easy going nature rarely fades, even when he's indented into a nearby wall.
  • The Loud House: Luna Loud is the third oldest of the Loud siblings and a lover of Rock and Roll. In "L is for Love" the siblings find a secret admirer letter addressed to L Loud. While the others give signs to their crushes, Luna chickens out thinking Sam wouldn't be into her. After the last letter seems to be for her, she and her siblings rush to the restaurant it said to meet at. Only to find it was from their mother to their father. However, inspired by her mother's story Luna decides to give Sam a letter to tell her about her feelings. In "Really Loud Music" Luna enters a music competition but decides to use a safe bubblegum pop song after she doubts her old one. After getting in, the hosts try to model into someone else. However, in the end, Luna decides to play her old song and manages to win over most of the crowd.
  • The titular Samurai Jack went through hell in his quest to return to his native time, and never even achieved his final goal. 50 years later and despite a significant uptick in cynicism and ennui, Jack is still surviving. He almost dies several times and is almost Driven to Suicide, but he keeps going out of sheer stubbornness and finally makes it back to the past to kill Aku once and for all.
  • Butters Stotch from South Park has Abusive Parents who tend to ground him over such trivial matters and a grandmother who terrorizes him and gets constantly humiliated by the boys (mainly Cartman). Despite all this, he never loses his good nature.