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Soap Opera Disease

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"Her condition was a case of terminal moe, a dangerous illness which crops up in anime whenever they want to make a character more sympathetic through illness but don't want to actually attribute a real illness to them."
Gabriel Blessing's comment on the real illness behind Chiho's condition

Common ailment found on the Soap Opera. It is notoriously difficult to diagnose and often exhibits vague symptoms. Often fatal, but the victim can linger on for a long, long time. Sometimes results in a lengthy coma which, upon the victim's recovery, may also manifest a radical change in appearance (see: The Other Darrin).

J. Michael Straczynski has mentioned one riff on this, in which a soap opera writer supposedly put a character into a coma with very specific and carefully-researched symptoms, for a plot that was only supposed to last a couple of episodes... and then realized that if the character's recovery was delayed, he could continue to crank out script after script without ever needing to worry about a pink slip, since nobody else on the writing team knew enough about the disease to write the character's recovery. The actress didn't mind either since she got a paycheck day after day for a few minutes' lying absolutely still in bed. The producers were somewhat less than pleased at this.note 

The anime trope of the Delicate and Sickly suffers from the same plague of vague. See its page for the full story but the gist of it is the same; some kind of frailty to gain sympathy.

A common mutation anywhere is the Incurable Cough of Death; a terminal illness with no symptoms of any kind besides coughing. More likely than not evolved from Victorian Novel Disease, which tends to have a surprisingly similar set of syndromes — though, unlike this trope, most novels from the time period of VND's heyday would at least give a definite name to the condition they were aiming for.note  The character may insist the illness is Definitely Just a Cold. Not to be confused with Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, which isn't actually a disease so much as a Plot Hole that sucks up babies and children and spits out teenagers or even adults.

May result in Wring Every Last Drop out of Him, when a character is on the brink of death, but takes a while to actually die.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Boku no Hatsukoi wo Kimi ni Sasagu, Takuma suffers from a heart condition that doesn't allow him to do any physical effort nor get him too excited, as it causes him to faint. Other characters, like his childhood friend Teru and Kou and Ritsu's father, suffer it too.
  • In Digimon Adventure 02: The Beginning, Lui's father is comatose and hooked up to a life support system at their family home, and his mother is paranoid that Lui even being in the same room could lead to his death if it were tampered with in any way. Lui's father appears to undergo a miraculous recovery thanks to Lui's wish to Ukkomon but his body is actually just being puppeteered around to please Lui.
  • In Dragon Ball Z, Goku suffers from a mysterious heart virus during the Android Saga. According to Future Trunks, it took his timeline's Goku's life and many others before a cure is discovered. Trunks gives Goku this cure and it’s given to him when he is finally affected by it, but it lays him up for a good while, which is particularly bad as Androids 16, 17, and 18 are active and hunting him down. Dragon Ball Z Abridged changes it to a cholesterol-induced heart attack caused by eating too much bacon, and makes it so that Goku stopped taking the medicine when he was supposed to because it was grape-flavored (later revealed to be less an instance of Does Not Like Spam and more of his Bizarre Alien Biology making him cough blood and sweat purple painfully).
  • Trisha from Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) died of such a disease. It's never stated what it was but fans consider it either stress-related or cancer. Averted in the manga, where it's said she had a disease that was going around.
  • Ill Boy, Ill Girl has a disease that has no particular ill effects outside of (possibly) coughing up black blood. The only huge effect it has is that names, faces, and practically anything that relates to a person is, in the eyes of the infected, blotted out or obscured. The only faces they can see are other people who are infected and provided the disease hasn't advanced enough, the faces of the dead.
  • Kagerou Project: Haruka Kokonose (Konoha's former self) has a rather ambiguous illness (although a shot in the Konoha's State Of the World PV seems to imply it's a heart condition) that lands him in hospital for weeks, and prevents him from participating in physical activities. He dies at 17, a year after his introduction. However, since it was triggered by the Big Bad on purpose, we'll never know how long he would have lasted on his own.
  • In Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Reinhard dies of a completely straight example of this. Which comes off as a little strange since he's in his early twenties and living in the future a couple of thousand years ahead of the present day in which one would think medical technology would be advanced enough to at least identify it. Especially considering they're dealing with the emperor of the entire galaxy. Rubinsky dies of a more explicit brain tumour.
  • Inverted by Hayate in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. While her doctors have no clue as to why the paralysis in her legs is slowly moving up her body, the Wolkenritter and the audience are all too aware that it's being caused by the Book of Darkness.
  • Mad Scientist Ghinias Sakhalin in Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team has some sort of disease that he has to take medication every day for. It mostly looks like paranoid schizophrenia, but he does have some poorly defined physical symptoms as well. The symptoms seem to fit Wilson's Disease, a genetic disorder that prevents the body from metabolizing copper properly whose most common symptoms are brain damage that often presents with schizophrenia-like symptoms and liver disease.
  • In Momoko, Kaeru no Uta ga Kikoeru yo., it's not said what the titular Momoko's condition is, however, given the fact that she was born with it and her twin brother Riki wasn't (though they are fraternal twins), along with it coming with a slew of issues (the which affects her muscular and motor functions), it can be assumed that she probably has a severe form of cerebral palsy. Tragically, by the end, she passes away.
  • In My Neighbor Totoro, the disease that Satsuki and Mei's mother has is never revealed, though it is believed by many fans to be tuberculosis. The movie is based on Hayao Miyazaki’s childhood and it’s what his mother had before she was cured with antibiotics in 1955. note 
  • Tsukimi's deceased mother in Princess Jellyfish had a vague, deteriorating disease that apparently lasted a few years. Eventually, she was hospitalized and died.
  • At one point in Ranma ½, Master Happosai suffers from a case of this. Unfortunately, he gets better. Also, the teacher Hinako Ninomiya had a case when she was young. She gets better as well.
  • Provided you can take the Shadow Girls at their word, this was part of the motivation for Ruka in Revolutionary Girl Utena to come to Ohtori. He was in love with Juri but knew she preferred someone else who didn't love her back. Upon learning he's dying of something fatal, dramatic, and completely not in evidence on-screen, he manipulates the dueling game to give Juri some closure with his last days.
  • In the Speed Racer episode "The Desperate Racer," Hap Hazard desperately wants to win a race so that he can cure his sick sister Eloisa. What sickness Eloisa has is not elaborated upon.
  • Sahana from Sundome, with her nosebleeds, dizzy spell and bloody coughs. In the end, it gets her, and there is nothing that can be done. Hideo does his best to make her last days happy. He succeeds with that.
  • Variable Geo: Satomi's kid brother, Daisuke, suffers from an unspecified medical condition that keeps him bedridden with a hacking cough and, occasionally, seizures. The costs of his treatments are expensive, even with Satomi working two jobs. Which is why she originally wanted to enter the VG tournament in hopes of winning the prize money and real estate.
  • Your Lie in April:
    • Kousei's mother died of an illness that left her wheelchair-bound.
    • Kaori suffers from a similar disease that caused her to gradually lose the ability to walk or play the violin over the series. She dies of complications during surgery instead of the illness itself, though it was considered terminal.

    Comic Books 
  • One of these is the reason that Batman villain Mr. Freeze placed his wife in cryogenic suspension, a concept introduced in Batman: The Animated Series.
  • Life With Archie: The Married Life: Miss Grundy gets diagnosed with this in the first issue, and dies a few issues later as a result.
  • The Magnificent Ms. Marvel: Kamala learns that her father has a mysterious disease and doesn't have much longer to live. Tony Stark later reveals to her that it's an Inhuman-related disease accidentally reactivated by the Terrigen Mists' release and recruits Dr. Strange (who had regained use of his hands again) to help excise it.

    Fan Works 
  • Naruto's illness in Accidental Companions isn't named, however, he has been ill with it for a long time and is implied to have died of it.
  • From one Kill la Kill fic, titled Asuka, we have this with either Satsuki or Ryuuko (it's never made clear which), who was diagnosed with something that is described to be "chronic sans cure" and she dies of her illness in the end.
  • Blind Courage: Zelda's Posthumous Character mother died of a vaguely described, long-term illness on her seventh birthday. She had headaches, vision problems, and convulsions. One morning she lost consciousness and never woke up. According to the comments on Archive of Our Own, she died of eclampsia.
  • This is averted in the fanfic Endless Numbered Days by janewithawhy with Satsuki's illness being lung cancer, the which progresses to terminal.
  • Gensokyo 20XX series:
    • Keine and, besides the fact it was terminal, the symptoms were only described as "pneumonia and lumps in her lungs". Her diary implies that it's a form of lung cancer
    • The second time is with Reimu's mother, Reiko, and she passed away of a long-term illness, although this is justified in that they didn't know what she has and neither could they diagnose it but it is implied to have had something to do the radioactive fallout.
    • Ran and, apparently, it's chronic but not terminal, however, it does leave her with bouts of paralysis (the authoress describes it as being similar to multiple sclerosis). Likewise, the same occurred with Yume Ni and her chronic illness, which she's passed away from.
    • Reimu and frequent illness (the which are treated with intravenous therapy) and Renko's illness which caused her a degree of brain damage, leading to some degree of blindness and memory loss.
  • Kedabory's Elmore Chronicles: The titular illness of "The Disease" is never clarified. The symptoms include a fever, coughing, and wheezing, the latter two end up becoming a chronic condition, but the disease is never named, and the doctor instead chooses to name the illness it could not be (these being scarlet fever, strep throat, and whooping cough).
  • Little Fires: Lightfur has some sort of possibly immune-related illness that makes it very easy for him to catch other's sicknesses. As a result, he was put in the Elder's den before even becoming a warrior.
  • Mind Brigade:
    • Jill has a fatal heart condition. She's always had a weak heart and couldn't finish school because she was too ill. It wasn't expected that Jill would make it to adulthood. Shortly after arriving in Flower Bud Village, Jill is hospitalized and is left bedbound. Her only potential cure is a heart transplant. The closest Mind Brigade gets to giving a name to Jill's disease is Jamie mentioning cancer during a rant, but he has barely talked to her so it's likely he's spouting an inaccurate diagnosis.
    • Jamie's mother died of a rare genetic illness that put her into a cold sweat and gave her a quick-acting heart attack. Jamie dies of the same illness after he goes into shock when it looks like he had given Jill a fatal heart attack.
  • In Suikakasen, Yoshika's main motivation revolves around her dying (and the subsequent fear of death) of a disease. This disease is not named and the only shown symptom is Blood from the Mouth, but it's pretty clear that it's terminal.
  • In Travels of the Trifecta, Paul and Reggie's mother died of an unnamed terminal illness. Paul learns that he has the same mysterious illness because it's genetic. It seems to have periodic coughing up blood, physical frailty, and weakened immune system as general symptoms but it is not stated to be any real-life disease. Given that Pokemon has animals that don't exist in real life, the Pokemon world having its own genetic diseases isn't too unusual.
  • Truth and Consequences: According to Gabriel, the illness killing Emilie is so rare, it didn't even have a name; he was less than amused when the diagnosing doctor decided to name it after himself.
  • The Kingdom Hearts AU fic Two Hearts One Beat has Sora dying from an unspecified disease as a four-year-old. What little we learn is that his heart is weak, but this seems to be referring to his Heart in the metaphysical Kingdom Hearts sense: when Sora gives his body up to Ventus's Heart in his final moments, the rest of his body immediately starts recovering, allowing Ventus to grow up as Sora without anyone knowing.

    Film — Animation 
  • In Arrietty, the male protagonist Sho has had a heart condition ever since he was a child. Just a short period of physical activity can cause him pain.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Dancer in the Dark, a drama and musical film, focuses on a female protagonist who has a genetic disease that causes her vision to weaken as she gets older. Early on in the film, she is already legally blind, and this serves as a big element of the plot.
  • Parodied in The Living Wake where the self-deluded main character is certain he will die of "a vague and grave disease" despite clearly being in perfect health. He ends the wake by stepping ceremoniously into a coffin where he instantly dies.
  • Love Story has been accused of playing this straight. (see Magazines, below.)
  • Shilo Wallace, the protagonist of Repo! The Genetic Opera, has a rare blood disease that she inherited from her mother that makes her unable to go outside without becoming ill; her father thus keeps her locked inside her bedroom while he researches a cure. Eventually justified: Shilo isn't actually sick at all. Her symptoms come from the medication that her father is poisoning her with.
  • In The Signal (2014) Nic walks with two crutches because of an unnamed wasting disease which he says will eventually put him in a wheelchair.

  • Appears as Drummant's gift in Annals of the Western Shore. Justified because that seems to be the whole point of the Drum gift, which is called "wasting". The victim just gets weaker and weaker for no apparent reason until they eventually die, which takes about a year. This is how Melle, Orrec's mother, dies.
  • In Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, Lieselotte's late uncle August had always been sickly since birth, and by the time he could have married his officially betrothed fiancee Elizabeth, he's already too weak to get out of his bed. This is important to Fiene's backstory, as his fiancee's family issued a Parental Marriage Veto out of this exact reason, despite they're completely in love with each other. This is why Fiene is raised as a commoner despite her parents being some of the most Blue Blooded people in the setting, since the two decided to sleep together anyway so that she can have his child, knowing well that they're technically committing adultery.
  • In Foundation and Empire, Emperor Cleon II suffers from some painful and unknown disease that no one can cure.
  • In the Hyperion Cantos, Matrin Silenus mentions that when he wrote his Dying Earth books, book 3 introduced a telepathic child dying from some strange disease. He went into a drinking celebration once he was allowed to let her die in book 9.
  • The Infernal Devices: Jem's. It was caused by a demon drug that was used to torture him and his parents when he was younger. There is no known cure for it, and he has to keep taking a specific drug to keep on fighting - as Brother Enoch says, taking the drug means a slow death, but keeping him off the drug would mean a quick one.
  • Doki in the 56th Madgie, what did you do? story. What she has is something she was diagnosed with over eighteen months prior and no doctor could tell if it was terminal or not. Likewise, in the previous story, she was terminally ill and was suffering kidney failure, thus being in what would be considered hospice care, however, what she had wasn't stated but she does die from it.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In the novel "Strike Zone" the Selelvian Jaan Baat-Utuul-Bayn-Devin learns he has a terminal illness the Selelvians call "The Rot" and has about six months to live. Picard wants to transfer him off the Enterprise right away, but backs down when Dr. Pulaski confronts him and says that Jaan is not contagious and can continue his work for some time before the end. Becoming desperate too escape his fate, Jaan unwittingly gives Wesley Crusher a telepathic compulsion to research a cure to his illness and later betrays the Enterprise to the Kreel Aneel, who tells him the Kreel have the cure for The Rot. What Jaan doesn't realize until too late is that Aneel intends to kill him once Jaan outlives his usefulness to the Kreel on the grounds that death cures everything. Wesley suffers an emotional collapse after learning Jaan was killed and undergoes counseling before returning to duty.
  • Alan Stuart in My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! had a nondescript disorder in his early years, causing him to be completely bedridden for the first fives years of his life, and people once thought he was going to die of it as a child. However, the disease's lasting effect is more pronounced on his healthy twin brother Geordo, as Alan's condition indirectly caused a very bad case of Parental Neglect on Geordo, which became his Cynicism Catalyst.
  • Nowhere Stars: Initially Averted, and then weirdly invoked. Liadain Shiel was born with a fictional but realistically-portrayed immuno-deficiency disorder, which several rejected marrow transplants failed to improve. After becoming a Magical Girl, however, it stopped being a mundane illness and became a supernatural one. Because magic follows Theory of Narrative Causality more than any concrete rules, it essentially became this trope; as one doctor describes it, it became "a story about a girl dying from a disease."
  • In Vampire Academy, Viktor Dashkov is ill with Sandovsky's Syndrome, a Moroi-exclusive disease, which is slowly killing him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the comics, it was retroactively explained that Drusilla was tortured by an "Inquisitor" while in Prague, including the use of a magic torture chair, leaving her in a frail condition. Spike initially hopes the Hellmouth will restore her, but later learns that the blood of her sire (Angel) can cure her affliction.
  • Alzheimer's Disease, which normally takes years and years to build up, not only progressed ten times faster than real life but then slew Mike Baldwin in a matter of mere months in Coronation Street
  • Appears in, of all things, the profiler procedural Criminal Minds. In an early episode, in a very dramatic scene, Hotch's son has had to go to the hospital to get "some tests" done and it turns out he has "a condition". This is promptly never mentioned again.
  • This is essentially the fate of The Mother in How I Met Your Mother. The disease is fatal, and that's pretty much all we know about it.
  • iZombie: In season 4 Isobel is brought to New Seattle to be cured of Freylich Syndrome, which a quick search online will reveal does not actually exist. The only symptom given so far is nosebleeds, and that the condition is eventually terminal. In the meantime, Isobel seems perfectly healthy.
  • Shuichi Kitaoka/Kamen Rider Zolda from Kamen Rider Ryuki is revealed to have one of those, it's actually his main ulterior reason for entering the Rider Battle. Very vaguely described and with no apparent symptoms other than the occasional fainting and easily acted spasms, but it's terminal (he had a few months left at best at some point) and incurable. The novel reportedly had him have Alzheimer's instead, which is odd since he looked to be barely in his 30s in the show.
  • The first episode of Mr. Show opens with Ronnie Dobbs doing a PSA for his disease "Entitilitus." He notes that no one knows where it comes from or what it is, but "entitilitus kills." Toward the end of the episode, Terry sells the rights to make a Biopic of Ronnie after he dies. In the film, the Ronnie reveals to Terry that he suffers from entitilitus then dies in his arms.
  • The protagonist in One Liter Of Tears suffers from a harsher and much rarer kind of this.
  • Vikings: In season 3, Ragnar's health slowly starts to deteriorate while besieging Paris. Whether it's from some illness, an accumulation of battle wounds, or a combination of the two, it's never revealed. When he gets back to Kattegat, he's bedridden and everyone assumes that he's dying. However, he eventually makes a slow and equally unexplained recovery in season 4.
  • Parodied in Saturday Night Live during the "Lesbian Period Drama" skit making fun of movies like Ammonite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. The main character is told she is "medically upset."
  • Star Trek:
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation: In "The Schizoid Man" the USS Enterprise crew comes across Data's "grandfather" Ira Graves and finds he's suffering from a terminal illness called Darnay's disease. Initially planning to copy his brain into a computer, upon meeting Data Graves instead uploads himself into Data's positronic brain instead until he realizes that he was wrong to do so. He then transfers his knowledge into the Enterprise computer but his personality is lost in the process.
    • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In "Ties of Blood and Water" the elderly Cardassian dissident Tekeny Ghemor travels to DS9 in order to see Major Kira, who the Obsidian Order once tried to convince both that she was his long lost daughter in "Second Skin." Ghemor has the terminal illness Yarim Fe and wants to pass on all his secrets to Kira in the Shri-tal ritual. He does this in the hopes the Federation can use what he knows against Gul Dukat and his new Dominion allied government.
    • Star Trek: Picard: In the first season Picard learns that he has a terminal brain abnormality that will kill him before too long. His original body dies at the end of the season but his friends transfer his mind into a quantum simulation where Data lives before transferring his consciousness into a new android body, or golem, that was sculpted to resemble Picard's original body at the age when the organic body died.

  • MAD referred to this as "Old Movie Disease" in their parody of the movie Love Story, along with the claim that it makes you more attractive so you can die a beautiful death.

    Video Games 
  • In Dark Elf Historia, if the player manages to get through enough of Freylia's early quests without failing, then Ruse will come down with a disease that will force Freylia to put new jobs on hold in order to track down a cure.
  • In Eternal Sonata, if you're able to use magic powers, it also means that you have vaguely defined illness that is eventually fatal, though it's hard to say exactly when.
  • The terminal disease that Mary suffered from in Silent Hill 2 is not specified, but it started with an Incurable Cough of Death and eventually left her bedridden and in constant pain, along with causing hair loss and some kind of severe psoriasis-type skin condition. It's also not what ultimately killed her.
  • The Twelve-Year Disease in Tales of Berseria has no symptoms besides fever and frailty. It's what Velvet's brother Laphicet had, and it's ultimately fatal—he figured it out because he read extensively during his periods of illness and so volunteered to be sacrificed to Innominat. Later, the party finds another child who has it and goes on a hunt for a lost ancient cure.
  • Wild ARMs 4: One character, Raquel, one of your party members, is slowly dying of an unspecified condition. Its only shown symptom is occasional Incurable Cough of Death, although the dialogue implies that there are more symptoms hidden beneath their clothes. The cause of this condition is eventually revealed to be "toxins from the reactor", implying it to be radiation poisoning, but the symptoms do not really match with the real thing. Naturally, this condition didn't stop them from living with it for years, being an extremely good fighter, and eventually becoming a mother, and living on for a couple more years.

    Visual Novels 
  • Any Key/Visual Arts game will have at least one ill girl that suffers from this, with the exception of Planetarian where the disease is low battery power with no way to recharge. Thus one of the alternate titles for this page, "Key AIDS".
  • In CLANNAD, Nagisa suffers from an undefined disease that prevents her from attending school from time to time. Her daughter Ushio gets the same undefined condition. In both cases, it turns out to be fatal. Or at least until the Reset Button is used in the final episode/"true ending" of the game.
  • Subverted with Shingen in Ikemen Sengoku. He appears at first to have a classic lingering soap opera-ish illness that's only vaguely defined by occasional violent coughing fits and the main character even comments that it may not be pneumonia, tuberculosis, or any other disease she's familiar with. However, the route where he receives medical treatment in modern times has a doctor diagnose him with the real-life condition endobronchial lipoma and even correctly describe it as a tumor that's benign on its own but can cause breathing difficulties and pneumonia. The game does still take some liberties with its portrayal of this disease, but it still gets major points for explicitly linking it to something that actually occurs in the real world.
  • Almost all of the main characters of the Narcissu series suffer from some form of terminal illness, though specifics are very rarely described, and it never seems to stop them from traveling long distances by car and subsisting on junk food.

  • In Kill la Kill AU, while they are not terminal, although severe, some of the illnesses Ryuuko suffers from are not named and neither are her symptoms described, however, she is often seen attached to machines and intravenous drips. This is played with in Room 002108, chapter 9, where it is stated by an American doctor that she has some unknown illness, which turned into septicemia, which implies it was some kind of bacterial infection, causing her blood to poison her, the which almost killed her or should have.

    Web Original 
  • From Killerbunnies, we have Anwen's condition and not too much information is known about it besides the fact that will eventually kill her, along with it being progressive.
  • LittleKuriboh parodied this in his Patreon video. He was diagnosed with a specific and chronic, but not fatal, colon condition, and Martin and his spouse wept and wailed about it.
  • Inverted in the Paradise setting, in which humans are randomly, permanently Changed into Funny Animals by causes unknown. The change is Invisible to Normals, to whom the Changed will still appear to be his old human self. In order to prevent Changed from being injured by medical practitioners because of physiological differences the medics can't see, the Changed invented a fictitious real-world disease—-"Sleeping Sickness (Ivory Coast Variant)"-—and issued medical alert bracelets for it so that a Changed or Known physician could be alerted at need.

    Web Videos 
  • In episode 9 of Meme House, Twitch Chat abruptly gets an unnamed terminal illness in Part 9, which Joel names 'Boofa Ligma Sugma'. Thankfully, he gets healed before his time runs out.

    Western Animation 
  • Also mocked in an episode of Alvin and the Chipmunks. Theodore gets hooked on a soap opera where one of the characters has a disease called Zomboid Rigadosis. Alvin and Simon try to convince him it isn't real, but they all panic when Dave appears to have become stiff and motionless, and try to find a way to cure him. It was actually a wax statue. Things get especially amusing when they try to take "Dave" out to get some sun, and he begins to melt.
  • Mocked (as with many other soap opera tropes) in the All My Circuits segments of Futurama.
  • In Magic Gift of the Snowman, Emery has a disease that can be fatal, and one of the symptoms is paraplegia. Modern medicine can't do much to treat it, but people who have the disease can fully recover if they want to recover enough. When Emery recovers, the symptoms disappear overnight, including her paraplegia.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: One episode reveals that Rose "was sick" when she was younger and it "could come back at any time." She gets a headache at school that necessitates going to the hospital for the rest of the day, but otherwise, no symptoms are mentioned, and she's well enough a few days later to help deal with the latest Akuma.
  • In the Rugrats episode "Mother's Day", it's revealed that Chuckie's mother, Melinda, died not that long after Chuckie was born. How she died is left ambiguous, but Chas mentions that she died in the hospital and that she kept a diary while she was there—it's implied (though not confirmed) that she died of some kind of terminal illness.
  • Parodied in Space Ghost Coast to Coast episode "Terminal", where Space Ghost is supposedly dying of some undefined terminal condition, whose symptoms are things like "sometimes it hurts when I sit down" and suspiciously fake-sounding coughing. He spends the whole episode trying to be serious and wistful while nobody takes him seriously and accuses him of faking it for attention, until he finally falls over dead at the end ...only to open his eyes after an overly-long zoom-in and remark "Huh. This isn't so bad."
  • Shiro from Voltron: Legendary Defender had an unspecified degenerative disease that may or may not be ALS. He doesn't show any symptoms after being turned into a cyborg by the Galra Empire.