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Tragic Ice Character

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It's not easy being freezy.

"I was disappearing...From ice to fog...Returning to the sky...I just wanted a body that wouldn't melt..."
Mizzter Blizzard, Paper Mario: Sticker Star

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We tend to link ice and snow with some of our strongest emotions. Snow can represent the tenderness of romance, or the sadness of death. And when we say Grim Up North, we mean grim for a reason. The quiet coldness of snow, ice, and winter tend to induce sadness in us.

Therefore, fictional characters associated with ice and snow, especially if they're An Ice Person, tend to be some of the most emotional, tragic, and/or sympathetic. They may act cold towards others, and have to be taught kindness. They may be lonely and ice-olated (to steal a pun from Elsa.) Or they may even be unhappy about their icy nature itself - cold weather is often seen as harsh and unpleasant, and as a result, it's not very popular among many people compared to, say, warm summer days. They may have Icy Blue Eyes to denote this.

Note that just being a sympathetic character associated with ice is not enough to qualify for this trope. There has to be a specific link between ice and tragedy, either through the narrative or metaphorically.

Compare Snow Means Death and Snow Means Love. Also compare Evil Is Deathly Cold for another interpretation of ice-themed characters, although it may overlap with this trope.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood features Canon Foreigner Isaac MacDougal, the Freezing Alchemist, a Shell-Shocked Veteran who took part in the Ishvalan genocide and later lost his mind after discovering that the entire country of Amestris was in fact a giant transmutation circle designed for sinister purposes. Unfortunately, he failed to elaborate on his Madness Mantra, and is eventually killed because He Knows Too Much. Had he been clearer, would have exposed the true nature of the Government Conspiracy thirty episodes earlier.
  • Kirby: Right Back at Ya!:
    • In "The Chill Factor," the Pengys, a race of penguins, invade Cappy Town and freeze it in an Endless Winter. It's later revealed that they did this because they lost their natural habitat to global warming.
    • In "Dedede's Snow Job", Kirby manages to befriend the snowlem named Chilly, who was "born" from the cold weather brought in by Dedede's Ice Dragon. When Kirby later finds the dragon about to attack Chilly, Kirby fights the dragon, ending in its death. This has the side effect of ending the cold weather... and causing Chilly to slowly melt. The distraught Kirby desperately tries to save his friend by sending him away to the seas, in hopes for Chilly to reach a colder region. But it's highly implied later that Chilly eventually did not survive, without Kirby knowing.
  • My Hero Academia:
    • Shoto Todoroki, who has a fire-and-ice quirk. However, he's more strongly associated with ice, as it's what he's more comfortable using and it's the skill he's developed more. Fittingly, he's also the character in 1-A with a darker and more tragic backstory, suffering from an Abusive Parent and intense quirk training. He's cynical and aloof as a result.
    • Shoto's mother Rei, whom his father married specifically for her Ice Quirk, was deeply unhappy in her abusive marriage, which resulted in her burning Shoto and becoming institutionalized.
  • Naruto: Haku was born with a kekkei genkai inherited from his mother that allowed him to generate and manipulate ice. However, due to there being a serious prejudice against kekkei genkai bearers in the Land of Water at the time, the local villagers, among them Haku's own father, killed his mother and then tried to kill him when they found out about it, only for Haku to kill all of them instead using his powers. Reduced to living on the streets, Haku was eventually taken in and trained by Zabuza to become just as skilled an assassin as him, with Haku seeing himself as more of a tool than a human, as does his teacher. Despite this, he is almost incapable of killing people and prefers invoking a Faux Death. During the fight against Naruto, Sasuke, Sakura, and Kakashi, Haku ends up dying saving Zabuza from Kakashi's Lightning Blade, with Zabuza realizing how much he cared for him thanks to Naruto and decides to turn against his employer Gato, eventually dying from his injuries after he kills him and his minions.
  • Evangeline A. K. McDowell of Negima! Magister Negi Magi is a centuries-old vampire who uses ice magic. However, she used to be a regular girl who lived with her family before the Lifemaker made her one of his experiments in immortality, and it's strongly hinted she might've killed everyone she loved by accident. Fast forward to the present of the story, she lives trapped at Mahora Academy by the protagonist's father via a spell, having spent fifteen years in the same class and is very, very tired of it. She drops many a hint throughout the story that while she's a powerful vampire, she just wants to be a normal kid again. Things don't get much better for her in UQ Holder!, set eighty years later. While she's formed her own Society of Immortals, she still dearly misses the old days at Mahora Academy but unfortunately outlived almost everyone. In addition, we get large peeks at her backstory where she only had fleeting moments of happiness, otherwise she was busy fighting off people who came for her head or otherwise living a miserable existence.
  • Langa in Sk8 the Infinity is known as "Snow" in skateboarding spheres as his skateboarding resembles snowfall with his icy blue hair and matching eyes. He is also a Canadian transfer student who had been trained in snowboarding since he was a toddler. Prior to the beginning of the series Langa's father passed away due to unknown reasons and he still deals with the grief of it all.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman villain Mr. Freeze is often (Depending on the Writer) characterised as an Anti-Villain who was mutated into An Ice Person by a Freak Lab Accident and is motivated to villainy by his desire to preserve and revive his wife Nora, whom he was forced to place into cryogenic suspension to prevent her from dying from an incurable disease.
  • Mr. Freeze isn't the only tragic ice character DC's put out. A special mention also goes to the third version of Firestorm's nemesis Killer Frost. Her real name is Caitlin Snow, and she was once a brilliant young scientist with a bright future ahead of her- one who wanted nothing more than to help people. Unfortunately, some of her own coworkers locked her in a thermodynamic machine, intending to kill her. When she emerged, she was unable to generate her own body heat, and now needed to kill others (by freezing them) in order to survive. She becomes a stone-cold supervillain- but all she really wants is to feel warmth again. Thankfully, her story ultimately has a happy ending, as she learns to control her hunger and ends up joining the Justice League of America.

    Fan Works 
  • Pokémon: Nova and Antica: Winter Isolda is an Ice-type specialist who hails from Fimbulvetr Town, a place in the Tenla Region blanketed in perpetual snow. She is an adopted orphan who grew up with crippling self-esteem issues whose desire to win the Tenla League Conference is rooted in a chance to finally be someone of worth.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Aurora is a bloodliner with the ability to use Ice Beam. When her father discovered this, he disowned her out of prejudice against bloodliners, and she hasn't had a permanent home since.
  • In Discworld fic The Price of Flight, Hanna von Strafenburg is first introduced as an isolated, lonely, girl trapped by her nobility and desperately longing for a normal life. Things improve when she goes to Lancre to train as a witch. She discovers her magical affinity is with ice, snow and cold; she can throw a standard fireball if she has to, but her preferred magical weapon is the complete opposite: a short intense blast of extreme cold not much above absolute zero. She is also used to de-ice the Air Station to keep it clear and operational during a blizzard and a consequent freeze.
  • Infinity Train: Seeker of Crocus: Amelia Hughes uses the Ice Wand as her main weapon, which helps her create icy construct like walls and slopes. She's also the former Conductor who usurpred One-One after losing her fiancé, Alrick and her actions have created nothing but tragedy for denizens and passengers alike. While she's moved on from losing Alrick, she still has to confront everything she's done for the sake of living in her memories.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman vs. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Downplayed. Mr. Freeze still fights along with the other rogues, but at first he states that he doesn't want to go along with them, and just wants to be left alone. The Joker douses him and the other rogues with mutagen anyway. Later on, Freeze is the only rogue to have an Uncertain Doom when he's attacked and possibly killed offscreen by a mutated Batman.
  • Frozen:
    • Frozen:
      • Queen Elsa was born with ice powers that she finds hard to control. She is forced to hide her powers for most of her life out of fear that she would be seen as a monster. When she loses her temper and uses her powers in public, revealing them, she becomes so panicked that she accidentally freezes the entire kingdom and runs away in fear. "Let it Go" connects both her isolation and later rebirth with her ice powers.
        The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
        Not a footprint to be seen.
        A kingdom of isolation,
        And it looks like I'm the queen.
    • Frozen II has Elsa explore a dark legacy of her family.
    • Despite his upbeat attitude, Olaf can be this as well for being a snowman who wants to experience summer. He is the page image for Tragic Dream for a reason.
  • Rise of the Guardians: Jack Frost is a kind, playful winter spirit who Hates Being Alone and is left alone with no friends and no purpose for 300 years which makes him think he is doing something wrong and doesn't even know what. Then, it turns out he has Ghost Amnesia, and what he doesn't remember is that he was once human and died saving his little sister.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Batman Film Series:
    • Batman Returns: The Penguin was despised by his parents for his physical deformities. They were so repulsed by him that they threw him (as an infant) into a river leading to the sewer on a snowy Christmas Day. The sewer, which he turns into his evil lair, is filled with ice and inhabited by penguins, and the Penguin enacts his evil plans around another Christmas time.
    • Batman & Robin: Even with his goofy Hurricane of Puns about ice, Mr. Freeze has pretty much the same backstory as his counterpart from Batman: The Animated Series, that is, his wife Nora being put in cryostasis as long as he can't find a cure for the illness.
  • The Huntsman: Winter's War: Freya, the film's take on the mythical Snow Queen, whose ice powers were triggered after she saw her husband apparently killing their newborn son. (In reality, the killer was her sister, Ravenna, who manipulated her so her powers would awaken.) Freya became a recluse afterwards, believing that romantic love is just an illusion.

  • In The Dresden Files, there are two possible paths Winter Fae (and the humans turned into them) can go down. One is stark murderous insanity. The second is watching your past self erode from centuries upon centuries of Dirty Business, magically-induced obedience to Fae law, and perpetual service in an Forever War against Eldritch Abominations. It's possible for the latter to hold onto a semblance of love, but even in the best-case scenario, they will be forever changed.
  • In the Evernight series, wraiths are closely associated with ice and the cold (including having cryokinetic powers) and every single one of them died under tragic and occasionally downright horrifying circumstances. It's mentioned that usually only people who die violent deaths and/or deaths involving a betrayal can become wraiths. The physical and emotional suffering they went through causes them to linger on earth after death, able to observe the living world but not truly being part of it. It's not surprising that a lot of wraiths go insane or become bitterly resentful towards humans.
  • The Ice Dragon: The main character Adara was born during the coldest day of the year, which killed her mother, and left her with a strange affinity for winter, snow, and ice. The tragic part is how the child is left emotionless and isolated.
  • InCryptid: James Smith has ice powers, and had a pretty terrible lot in life before meeting Antimony and her friends. His mom died when he was young from a Hereditary Curse that traps him in the town he was born in, his best friend was taken by the Crossroads in an attempt to end that curse, and his dad is homophobic and resents him for the death of his wife. And when Annie meets him, the Crossroads try to make her kill him. Once the Crossroads are destroyed and Annie adopts James into the family, things start getting better for him, though he's still quiet and reserved.
  • The Moomins: The Groke is a strange being that freezes everything she touches. Most of Moominvalley's inhabitants are scared of her, although later stories portray her as lonely and tragic due to the fact that she craves warmth and light, but cannot obtain them because of the uncontrollable ice spreading around her. When Moomintroll finally befriends her, she warms up enough that she at least no longer freezes the ground she walks upon.
  • Whateley Universe: Frostbite, whose Power Incontinence of freezing all water around her makes it hard for her to be a normal kid. She is confined in a room specifically made to mitigate her powers.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Flash: Dr. Caitlin Snow, who grew up with a distant mother, ends up losing the love of her life twice, and is cursed to carry a Superpowered Evil Side that threatens her friends should it break out.
  • Ice Fantasy: Averted with most of the Ice Tribe, but played straight by Ying Kong Shi. He's the illegitimate son of the Ice King. Almost everyone looks down on him except his half-brother Ka Suo, and Ka Suo becomes Shi's enemy when his mother forces him to fight for the throne. Eventually Shi decides to kill himself so he can transfer his powers to Ka Suo.

  • The Heavy Mithril ballad "The Horseman of Ice" by Epidemia tells of a man who, after losing the love of his life, turns into An Ice Person and is damned to wander the world for all eternity, hoping only to one day forget his loss.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • Japanese Mythology: the Yuki Onna is often characterized as the ghost of a woman who froze to death. She's now at once beautiful and terrifying and freezes travelers who are lost in the cold. As if the freezing to death element isn't tragic enough, a well-known story with one is a variant of a Shape Shifting Lover fable. A Yuki-onna either spares or saves a man during a blizzard and makes him promise to keep this a secret when he gets back to his village or she'll have to kill him. Later he meets a beautiful woman and marries her, and the two have a happy life and children together for a few years. One night he confides in her the story of how he survived the storm and his wife reveals herself to be that same Yuki-onna, furious at his betrayal. But either out of respect for how he hadn't told anyone else technically, but still feels he can't be trusted anymore, or due to her feelings for him and their children, she leaves instead of hurting any of them, never to return now that her "human" identity is compromised.

    Tabletop Games 

  • The eponymous heroine of The Snow Maiden is the child of Father Frost and Spring Beauty who is lonely in her magical forest and longs for human company. Her parents allow her to live among humans, but even then, the Snow Maiden cannot be happy: she desperately wants to feel passionate love (thanks to her mother's heritage) but is unable to do so (thanks to her father's heritage). It leads to the young man she likes dumping her after he is fed up with her frigidity and naivete. Then, she finally gets her wish to fall in love (with her other suitor) but right after that, she melts in the sun like ordinary snow, and her bridegroom kills himself. On top of it all? Everybody else shrugs it off, saying that the Snow Maiden was an abomination and so deserved to die to restore the balance of nature.

  • BIONICLE: In a setting where destiny is absolute, Toa of Ice Matoro's destiny was to give up his life to channel the power of the Mask of Life to bring the great spirit Mata Nui from the brink of death. To make things worse for him, Makuta Terridax was able to use the opportunity to pull a Grand Theft Me on the great spirit. In an alternate universe, Matoro failed to meet his destiny and so was Unpersoned by what was left of the society living on the world that died alongside the great spirit, only winning them back by pulling a Heroic Sacrifice to stop that universe's Terridax from his last grasp at power.

    Video Games 
  • Azur Lane: Tirpitz has a skill called "Lonely Queen of the North", referencing the battleship Tirpitz's long station up in an arctic fjord, where she just lay at anchor for most of World War II. The game's event spotlighting her portrays her as a terribly lonely figure (as her sister ship Bismarck, who she'd never even met, had long since fallen in battle) languishing in the north, just waiting for death at the hands of the Royal Navy.
  • Balan Wonderworld: Iben Bia has an ice motif, with her being the inhabitant of an ice world, and her monster form having ice powers. As it turns out, she's struggling with the sudden loss of her parents.
  • Breath of Fire IV: Fou-Lu is the water-and-ice half of a Fire/Ice Duo, as well as being the God-Emperor who founded the Fou Empire. Awakening after several centuries of slumber he finds himself constantly hounded by the imperial army that doesn't want him to reclaim his throne, finally snapping and becoming a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds when their cruelty causes the death of Mami, a woman he bonded with during his travels.
  • Bug Fables: Leif has the ability to use ice magic, and was already dead long before the events of the game, the current "Leif" being a Cordyceps fungus possessing his corpse and inheriting his memories. Not only this, but his partners abandoned him, and he left a family behind that wouldn't live to see him again. When he meets his descendants, he's haunted by the fact that one of them is a dead-ringer for his late wife and can't bring himself to face them until he learns the truth about his past.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, there's Anastasia Nikolaevna Romanova who was tragically killed alongside her family. The narrative portrays her as an innocent victim of the Russian uprising. As a Servant, she has the ability to control ice.
  • Haunt the House Terrortown: The ghost in the North Pole level has the saddest expression of all the ghosts. She haunts a department store with snow falling outside, and her default scaring animation is to shiver and breathe out cold air, looking downright miserable.
  • Honkai Impact 3rd:
    • In the distant past, Kevin Kaslana was experimented upon to bear the power of the ice Honkai Beast, Parvati. This gave him the edge to fight against the Honkai phenomenon, and later, allowed him to wield the fire-powered Divine Key, Judgment of Shamash, without suffering its ill effects. However, his body became very cold to the touch (-30 degrees Celcius), making him unable to touch other people - including his lover, Dr. Mei - without harming them.
    • In the present, one of the Valkyries (female warriors of Schicksal Organization), Ana Schariac, was "chosen" by the Honkai against her will to become the "Herrschernote  of Ice". In a recording that shows her "awakening", she was desperately struggling against the Honkai's control of her body, and in anguish, told her subordinates to get away from her; but it's too late as she immediately caused the whole city she's in to be covered in ice when she "awakened", killing her subordinates in the process. When Mei (one of the protagonists) first finds her in said city, she has covered herself in ice out of Self-Restraint; when Mei's partner Raven breaks the ice, Ana was first shown writhing in pain and struggling to say anything, causing them to hesitate at first.
  • The Legend of Dragoon: Damia, the first holder of the blue Sea Dragoon spirit. She was a half-human half mermaid who was bullied for such her heritage, and brought into the dragon campaign at 15. In the present, she can't move on from death because she is alone, and wears a sad expression when fighting her. As the one who held the Blue Sea Dragoon spirit, she has access to ice magic moreso than water magic.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess: The kind yeti Yeta is possessed by the power of the Mirror of Twilight, turning her into a Brainwashed and Crazy ice monster called Blizzeta.
  • Rundas of the Metroid Prime Trilogy was a Bounty Hunter with control over ice, and unlike most ice users of the list, he was brash, cocky, and has an Awesome Ego. He was one of Samus's greatest allies and has even saved her on a few occasions. Thus, when he ends up corrupted by Dark Samus and dies from an overload of his powers, it's all played for the tragedy that it is. Fittingly, his battle theme sounds very sad.
  • Paper Mario: Sticker Star: Mizzter Blizzard was a living snowman who was terrified of melting, so he wished the magical Sticker Star to grant him a body that wouldn't melt. The Sticker Star granted his wish... but also took away his sanity, turning him into a violent Snowlem.
  • RuneScape: Lumi, the Queen of Snow and Anthropomorphic Personification of winter, appears in one Easter event where she was supposed to hand over the world to spring in a magical realm that controls seasons; she was later found to be hiding in the last frozen cave, trying to hold onto winter as long as she could because she cannot comprehend anything else; in her eyes, everything turns dark and empty when winter ends.
  • World of Warcraft:
    • Prince Arthas Menethil is a Fallen Hero who got Brainwashed by the runic sword Frostmourne, became a Death Knight and killed his father King Terenas and most of his own people of Lordaeron when he let the Scourge invade and devastate the kingdom. He became the Lich King at the very end of Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne, a death and ice-themed/powered Evil Overlord who can summon various undead creatures including some that have ice powers. By the time of World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King, an Ironic Echo of the voice of his father in the opening cinematic says that one day he'll become king and rule for the good of his people (which he killed). By the end, he dies as himself in the arms of his father's ghost.
    • Jaina Proudmoore (whom Arthas once courted and fought alongside during the start of the Third War) is a powerful sorceress, master of all schools of magic, but most often seems associated with ice, especially since the destruction of her city of Theramore, after which her life became one tragedy after another.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: Weiss Schnee is associated with ice and snow: she's from the cold northern continent, her name means "white snow", and her emblem is a snowflake; early in the series, two love interests independently refer to her as "Snow Angel" because of this while several characters call her "Ice Queen" due to both her cold, aloof demeanour and her ice powers. However, behind her initially frosty exterior is a girl who grew up with an alcoholic mother and an abusive father, and all her theme songs are about trying to figure out who she really is, such as "The Path to Isolation", which uses cold and snow as imagery when discussing loneliness.

    Web Comics 
  • Oglaf: The Snow Queen is either the personification of winter or otherwise tied directly to it, and her physical temperature is accordingly low — low enough that you might as well be intimate to a block of ice as to her. She's a warm and considerate person otherwise, and always very sorry when a potential lover is injured by sheer accident... as well as made utterly miserable by the ensuing love life problems. It only gets worse when it turns out that satisfying her sexually is the key to bring forth spring.

    Web Videos 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons show Dice, Camera, Action!, Paultin Seppa is corrupted by the Ring of Winter. The ring takes advantage of his tragic past, insecurity, and loneliness to break into his mind, eventually forcing him to fight the rest of his party. After the ring is defeated, Paultin is tormented by ice-related nightmare flashbacks.

    Western Animation 
  • In Adventure Time, the Ice King, whose crown gives him ice powers, at first seems to be a creepy Psychopathic Manchild only interested in kidnapping princesses for his love, but in the Christmas Episode "Holly Jolly Secrets," it's revealed that he was an archaeologist named Simon Petrikov who found the crown in northern Scandinavia, and putting it on made him age rapidly and made his heart cold, also causing him to go insane and lose the love of his life.
  • Batman: The Animated Series reinvented the character of Mr. Freeze. While Freeze was previously just a goofy Mad Scientist with an ice gimmick, this series gave him a much more tragic backstory. Victor Fries was formerly a mild-mannered scientist trying to save his terminally ill wife, but his experiments were ruined by a greedy Corrupt Corporate Executive, and he was exposed to chemicals that left him unable to survive temperatures warmer than sub-zero. He acts quite cold and emotionless due to his determination to save his wife but is quite torn up inside. For added symbolism, that villainous executive's name is Boyle.
  • Mr. Freeze's plight continues in Batman Beyond in the episode "Meltdown". After spending around fifty years as a head in a jar due to his body decaying away, he is approached by Derek Powers and Dr. Stephanie Lake with an offer to transfer his mind into a clone body that lacks his condition. His new body quickly degrades to be the same as his original one, which, combined with Dr. Lake's attempted murder of him to harvest his organs, causes Freeze to snap and try to destroy the facility where he was recreated. His rampage is short-lived when a fight against Blight results in Freeze's helmet getting cracked and exposes him to temperatures above zero. Freeze chooses to die in the collapsing building, rejecting Terry's help to escape.
    Terry: You've got to get out of here, Fries. The whole place is gonna go!
    Mr. Freeze: Believe me... you're the only one who cares.
  • Courage the Cowardly Dog: The Snowman is the Last of His Kind after all the other snowpeople melted following a tear in the ozone layer. This results in him desperately looking for any means necessary to stay alive, including freezing a part of the planet.
  • Johnny Test: The episode "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" has penguins launching an attack on humanity because of the realization that Antarctica's icy climate was quickly melting away. Johnny and the others sympathize with their desire after defeating them and decide to let the penguins live in the military's new ice battlefield training simulator, much to the dismay of the General as most of the military's budget was spent on building the simulator.
  • Ninjago: The Ice Emperor in Season 11 is revealed to be Zane, who after getting banished to the Never-Realm by Aspheera, was suffering from failing systems and lost his memory shortly afterward. He was later found by Vex, who manipulated Zane into taking over the realm using the Scroll Of Forbidden Spinjitzu, encasing most of the Formlings in ice and plunging the realm into an eternal winter. All of this apparently went on for decades until the other ninja arrived in the realm.
  • Rick and Morty: The very, very fictionalized version of Ice-T was originally Water-T, but was turned to ice and exiled from his home planet as punishment for "not caring enough about anything". He eventually has a heartwarming reunion with his father, only to see him killed by debris from an attack of the Numbericons.
  • Sofia the First: The titular character Winter in "Winter's Gift" is a young faun who gets ice powers and comes to regret it after realizing anything she touches turns to ice, becoming lonely and wanting to get rid of them.
  • Static Shock: "Frozen Out" introduces Perma-Frost, a homeless child who hears voices and is also a Bang Baby, who unleashes bitter blizzards whenever her emotional anguish and loneliness become too much for her.
  • Winx Club: Season 8 reveals that Icy had a little sister named Sapphire, who was turned into a fox cub by a shaman witch who cursed her home planet of Dyamond into a frozen wasteland. Since then, she is determined to find a way to obtain enough power to save her world and her sister, even if it meant becoming one of the most villainous witches in the Magic Dimension.