You have reached a writer's block. You've created a hero so righteous, noble, good and pure that traumatizing them just once is not convincing enough to break them. Yet you want the intended audience to still feel like they want to reach into your work and hug the character in question.
Hence the name of this trope. You get ready to write, and put on a hat with the name "Murphy" written on it, and think to yourself:
"If traumatizing a hero once can earn the audience's sympathy, then what better way to earn your audience's love for the character than to lay trauma after trauma on them like a falling row of dominoes?"
Having donned the hat of "Murphy", you, the creator of this fictitious universe, are entitled, nay, obligated to make sure that whatever can go wrong for your hero will go wrong. The effect is akin to the Chinese proverb of water continuously dripping on a rock: one drop won't even dent it, but a million will crack a boulder. In other words, having your hero lose everyone they love and/or have every dream unfulfilled and broken is the most realistic way to turn a God Amongst Men into a pathetic crying wreck.
The usual results of a Trauma Conga Line are:
- The hero perseveres over the trials of life, rises above it and becomes a better person for it all. Defining term: Iron Woobie
- The protagonist throws off his hero mantle, tramples it, and in a cold rush of unrelenting cynicism becomes a villain just as bad, if not worse, than the antagonist. Defining term: Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds
- The hero curls into a figurative or literal catatonic ball in a cold dark corner, then proceeds to give up on life and the world. Defining term: Despair Event Horizon
- Goes out in a blaze of bloodthirsty rage realizing that the best way out is by taking it out on everyone. Defining term: Roaring Rampage of Revenge
- The protagonist loses their sense of idealism, but not their morality. Most Anti Heroes who started out as an Ideal Hero are Type E. Defining term: Knight In Sour Armor
- Rarest one: the protagonist just shrugs their shoulders at the Deus Angst Machina. No lessons are learned nor does the character behave differently. All that's changed is that the Bunny-Ears Lawyer now sleeps in a cardboard box and eats out of dumpsters. Defining term: Angst? What Angst?
- Somewhere between the Despair Event Horizon and unbreakable resolve of the Iron Woobie is a common middle ground, where the survivor is clearly damaged by the ordeal, but is not lost completely or rendered insane (and thus has hope of recovery to Type A). Defining term: The Woobie
- Loses all will, drive, ambition, or capacity for emotion from being broken so much. Defining term: Empty Shell
This trope is a particularly vicious example of Break the Cutie, and is a gamble on the part of you, the writer.
Handled correctly, it will create the ultimate Iron Woobie so endearing that the audience will cry and cheer with him/her to the bitter or uplifting end.
On the other hand, one melodramatic violin-music-laced scene too many, and you'll have the Narm of the century.
See also Humiliation Conga, where this happens to a villain who deserves what's coming to him, and that's usually Played for Laughs while a Trauma Conga Line is rarely meant to be funny. Deus Angst Machina is similar and there is quite a bit of overlap, but with the Trauma Conga Line more of it happens on-screen than in the backstory.
Here Be Spoilers, Ladies and Gentlemen.
- Present in a good number of Don Bluth films. Fievel just never gets a break in An American Tail; in The Land Before Time Littlefoot sees his mother die, his herd separated, and his home destroyed, with only his few friends as support. Good thing Don Bluth believes in happy endings; too bad you have to earn them.
- Frozen (2013):
- Elsa goes through one throughout the film. She nearly freezes her little sister to death by accident while playing, receives a vision of her possible future where she is seemingly attacked by an angry mob due to her powers, grows up in isolation fearing both that and how her steadily growing powers could harm her loved ones again, loses her parents who were the only ones helping her with her powers, gets her powers revealed in public on the day of her coronation in the worst possible way, goes into self-exile after she believes that everyone sees her as a monster now, starts to accept her powers again only to learn that she accidentally caused an Endless Winter when she ran away and she doesn't know how to reverse it, accidentally strikes her little sister with ice magic again, gets guards storming her Ice Palace, is nearly killed by the Duke's henchmen, is chained and imprisoned, is told that her little sister had died because of her and is nearly killed again only to be saved because of her actually-not-dead little sister pulling a Big Damn Heroes at the very moment she completely turns into ice, so Elsa gets a front row seat to her very worst fear coming true. Fortunately, Anna's sacrifice actually saves her life, inspiring the epiphany Elsa needed to finally handle her powers.
- Anna gets one as well. First her beloved sister shuts her out without any explanation (Elsa's powers are erased from her mind and kept secret from her), she's locked up in the castle as well - also without explanation, and becomes so lonely that she starts talking to paintings for company. Then she becomes an orphan and has to attend her parents' funeral alone with her only remaining family still ignoring her. Then in the space of a day she has to endure her sister refusing her to marry what she thinks is her true love, having said sister reveal ice powers and flee the town while ignoring her pleas to come back, then later on reject all her attempts to reconnect and strike her heart with her ice powers, dooming her to a slow death, with Anna not even having any way of knowing this was an accident and not done in an outburst of anger, and finally who she thought was her true love reject her in the most callous way, telling her there is no one who loves her and leaving her to die. Then she has to choose between finally getting confirmation that someone does love her and saving her life or saving her sister's..
- In Frozen II, Anna goes through an even harsher one. She starts by discovering that her sister is still keeping secrets from her and plans to go on a potentially dangerous journey on her own. Then she gets to witness her parents' anguished death through an ice memory. After that, Elsa breaks her promise to her to remain together and pushes her and Olaf away, and, shortly after, she learns that her grandfather betrayed the Northuldra, and realises that Elsa is dead when Olaf dies too. No wonder the poor girl reaches a Despair Event Horizon after all this, although once again she manages to get through all this. In doing so, though, she also accepts that her home must be destroyed.
- In The Book of Life, Manolo is publicly ridiculed by the town for not killing the bull. His father even disowns him. He thinks that he caused the death of Maria, his one true love. Joaquin coldly states it should have been Manolo instead. Finally, being Driven to Suicide and with Xibalba's "help" he commits indirect suicide to "join" his beloved.
- Héctor from Coco is this full-stop. First, he is murdered by his former best friend Ernesto on the night he planned to return to his family. Ernesto then steals Héctor's songs and takes all the fame and recognition without giving him credit. Not just that, but he became disgraced and forgotten by his family for generations. He spends almost a century in squalor, ridicule and desperation to see his daughter one last time, trying over and over again to do so, before very nearly enduring Final Death.
- What happens to Veronika in The Cranes Are Flying? Well, Operation Barbarossa separates her from her fiance when he joins the army. Her parents are killed by a German bomb. She's raped. She gets stuck in a marriage with her rapist. She's evacuated to a shack in Siberia along with the rest of her hospital. And she goes to greet her old fiance when he comes home from the war, only to find out for sure that he is dead.
- The Dark Knight: Poor Harvey Dent, the White Knight of Gotham, was a prime candidate for vicious brainwashing by The Joker after losing Rachel, the love of his life, and half his face in a gas explosion. His transformation into the cynical monster Two-Face only took the slightest of nudge on the evil bastard's part.
- The film version of 1408 is essentially the story of one man getting repeatedly kicked in the balls, by an "evil, fucking room."
- Johnny Belinda. Your mother dies in childbirth. You go deaf from an illness shortly thereafter. You get raped. Your father falls off a cliff and dies. The town tries to take from you your child by rape. You have to shoot your rapist to keep him from stealing your baby. Then you're tried for murder.
- Serenity sees fit to kick Mal in the balls over and over again. Also, the only reason it doesn't kick River in the balls is because she's already been hammered plenty of times prior to the movie, and, well, she doesn't even have a set to be kicked in anyway.
- Thor himself suffers through this later on. Taken together, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War are just one long parade of suck for the guy.
- In Ragnarok, Thor finds out Loki is alive and replaced Odin as ruler for four years, when he reunites with his father, Odin dies minutes later and he learns about Hela. When he and Loki confront Hela, she casually destroys Mjölnir and a brief scuffle sends him to the edge of the universe. On Sakaar, he gets turned into a gladiator, has his hair cut, gets thrown around like a rag-doll by the Hulk even though, he manages to beat the Hulk around too, and all his attempts to escape end with him getting tasered. When Thor finally returns to Asgard, he learns about its bloody beginnings from Hela and receives a pretty one-sided beating from her, losing his eye in the process. Finally, he is forced to bring about Ragnarok to stop Hela from winning, which ends with his home blowing up and completely erasing any chance of rebuilding it. Just when it seems like he and the other refugees are on track to resettle on Earth and start anew, Thanos finds them in The Stinger.
- Infinity War starts with Thanos and his forces massacring half the crew of the Statesman while Thor himself is Forced to Watch. Loki dies trying to stop Thanos, and Heimdall dies sending Bruce to Earth as a warning. As Thor explains to Rocket, he's now lost his entire family, his homeland, and nearly all his friends. The only way he even stays vertical is by focusing on hunting down Thanos and making him pay.
- In Avengers: Endgame, he's an overweight alcoholic drowning in the misery of almost having killed Thanos. He can't even hear someone say Thanos's name he's so traumatized by it all.
- In It's a Wonderful Life George Bailey survives getting trapped in his hometown,robbed, his company's near bankruptcy (multiple times), intense disillusionment, and almost getting erased out of existence to become one of cinema's most heroic Iron Woobies.
- Vada from My Girl goes through this. Her life was already a little rough, but then her best friend, Thomas J, dies in a bee attack. She was the one who angered the bees in the first place, and he only went back to try and find her mood ring that she lost, her father is the coroner, the funeral is held at her house, and to top it all off, on the day of said funeral, she discovers the teacher that she had a crush on is getting married. It's quite understandable when she ends up having complete breakdown, although some would argue that it's a bit surprising that it wasn't worse.
- Well, let's see what happens to Kotpun, the heroine of The Flower Girl. Her father dies. Her mother becomes deathly ill. Her brother is sent to jail. And her sister is blinded. And that's all in the backstory. As the story unfolds, her mother dies, her brother is reported to have died in prison, and her sister is presumed dead after disappearing without a trace. And just for fun, she's dirt poor, hence the name of the movie, as she's selling flowers in the street to get medicine for her mom.
- Ella goes through one of these in Cinderella (2015). First her mother dies when she's only a child. Then years later her father re-marries, only for it to turn out that her new step-family are absolutely horrible people, who make Ella move into the attic after she selflessly offered for Anastasia and Drisella to share her room with her. Then her father leaves for a long trip, only for him to die, too. THEN Lady Tremaine is only concerned about the financial aspects of her husband's death, fires all the staff at the country house, then makes Ella their servant and they all constantly bully her. Then the one thing that Ella gets excited about, the ball, is dashed after her stepmother forbids her to go and cruelly ruins her mother's dress. It's amazing that the poor girl didn't reach the Break the Cutie stage much sooner than she did.
- What happens to poor Thymian in Diary of a Lost Girl. Namely: raped. Impregnated. Imprisoned. Baby dies. Drugged, raped again. Three years as a prostitute. Husband kills himself.
- Jesus has an increasingly rough day in The Passion of the Christ.
- In Santa's Little Helper, a character in the beginning of the movie gets fired, his girlfriend dumps him, his car gets towed away, and he gets informed that his house is being foreclosed upon, all within a matter of hours. There is no indication that anything was wrong beforehand, which seems to imply the movie believes that losing your job means losing your bank account and gaining additional debt immediately.
- In Quadrophenia, Jimmy in short order gets arrested in a fight in Brighton, kicked out of his parent's house, loses his job, his girlfriend, his mates, gets his scooter wrecked, and eventually finds out his idol is a common bellboy.
- The Life of Oharu: Oh boy. One doesn't go from daughter of a samurai and resident of the Imperial court to wandering beggar in one step. So what happens to Oharu? Well—she's caught with her lover, and banished from the court. She's sold to a lord as a concubine. She's ejected from the lord's house after bearing his son, the heir. She's hired at a brothel, only to get kicked out of that for not being obsequious enough to clients. She gets a job as a domestic, only to get fired from that job after her past as a sex worker comes out. She gets married, but her husband is murdered. She applies to be a nun—but she's raped in the monastery, and the mother superior catches her while she's being raped, so she's kicked out. She's reduced to being a streetwalker, but eventually she gets too old and unattractive to even do that. Oh, and in the meantime she's promised that she can live with her grown son, the new lord, only for that promise to be broken. So, all around, a feel-good laugh riot.
- The Daniel Craig version of James Bond is railroaded into this:
- Lost his parents at a young age in a climbing accident. He had a strong relationship with Hannes Oberhauser (who took him in after Bond was orphaned), but Franz Oberhauser, Hannes' son, kills him out of jealousy.
- Fretted over losing Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale despite her betrayal - Spectre shows that her death has affected Bond greatly.
- In Quantum of Solace, he again frets over losing his close ally René Mathis, and briefly goes rogue to track down Dominic Greene.
- Skyfall shows him shedding tears in response to the death of M, the closest thing he had to a mother left in this world.
- Spectre reveals that Franz Oberhauser/Ernst Stavro Blofeld was not only behind many of Bond's earlier enemies (Le Chiffre, The Pale King/Mr. White, Greene, Silva and C/Max Denbigh), but also orchestrated many of the tragedies Bond suffered so far. Thanks to the machinations of C/Max Denbigh and Oberhauser, Bond and MI6 are even put out of business briefly. Near the climax, Oberhauser even tried to break Bond again by having Madeleine Swann trapped in the old MI6 building that was rigged to explode, but Bond manages to save Swann in time.
- Sweetwater: Sarah loses her husband, has a miscarriage, and is raped in quick succession. Not surprisingly she completely snaps and goes on a killing spree shortly after all this.
- Bootstrap Bill Turner suffers this over the first three Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Before the first movie, he was cursed with everlasting undeath along with his mutinous crewmates; when he got revenge on them by hiding a piece of the cursed Aztec gold, they tied him to a cannon and threw him overboard. Trapped at the bottom of the ocean, "unable to move, unable to die," he takes Davy Jones' offer of 100 years of service just to get out. When his son also ends up on the Flying Dutchman, Bootstrap sacrifices himself to help him escape, asking "What more can they do to me?" As it turns out, they can force him to watch as the Kraken destroys the ship Will's on. Thinking his only child dead, Bootstrap sinks into despair and insanity. He's only snapped out of it when Jones stabs Will, and he's then forced to cut his son's heart out in order to save his life. Things go a little better for him after that, though.
- Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games franchise. Her father died in a mine accident. Her mother neglected her after that because of depression. She nearly starved to death from that neglect. She volunteers to take her little sister's place in a gladiator game. She is forced to kill children. She watches her little female friend getting killed in front of her eyes. She watches another child getting eaten alive by animals. She is forced to become a stooge of the evil government by threat of murder of her family. She has to go into another gladiator game and compete against her love interest which makes her decide to rather die than kill him. 90% of the people in her home region get murdered. Her love interest gets tortured and brainwashed into trying to kill her. She watches a hospital filled with wounded civilians getting blown up. She watches thousands of soldiers and civilians getting crushed in a mine that became a war target. She has to mercy kill a friend who is about to be eaten alive by monsters. She watches many children getting bombed. She watches her little sister getting burned alive. She nearly gets burned alive herself. She finds out that her own war party bombed the children and killed her sister. She gets banned into solitude. She earns her happy earning eventually when she marries her love interest and has children with him.
- Hugh Glass in The Revenant. Before the events of the film, his wife is murdered. At the beginning of the plot, Glass and company lose thousands of dollars worth of fur pelts and are decimated by Native Americans who steal the pelts; that's before things get much worse for him personally. Glass is brought to within an inch of death by a bear attack, and then his fellow trappers murder his son and leave him for dead. Over the course of the film, he's further pursued by murderous Native Americans, gets another innocent man killed by association, is chased off a cliff, and gets stabbed in the hand as part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Based on a True Story.
- Country Mouse Anna from the 1920 film Way Down East moves to the city where she falls for a playboy named Lennox. In order to get her to sleep with him, Lennox fakes an engagement to her. After Anna falls pregnant he decides to run off. Soon afterwards, Anna's mother dies and once the now-homeless Anna has the baby it turns out to be ill. The baby dies shortly after being born. All throughout this, Anna has to deal with the stigma of having been impregnated out of wedlock.
- Reform School Girls: Lisa undergoes an unending stream of trauma from the moment she enters the reform school. Her Tragic Keepsake is destroyed by Edna; she is confined to 'the Hole' (she suffers from Claustrophobia; she is worked till she collapse from exhaustion and dehydration; Charlies makes her her bitch and brands her butt cheek with a Slave Brand; and her kitten is murdered by Edna. This makes her cross the Despair Event Horizon and she commits suicide.
- The "Weird Al" Yankovic song "One of Those Days" describes, y'know, one of those days; where everything that can possibly go wrong does, from getting to work late and getting yelled at by the boss, to getting chased by Russian spies, having a 747 crash through the den window, running out of Cheetos, and finally having the whole world explode for no reason.
- The Half Man Half Biscuit song "National Shite Day" may be the apotheosis of this trope. The first line is "Pulling the ice ax from my leg, I staggered on," indicating that before the story has even properly begun, the narrator has managed to get a mountaineering tool lodged in his leg. It gets worse...
- Happens to 2D in Gorillaz. Ran over by Murdoc, causing his eyeball to fracture and him to become comatose. He's then put in the care of Murdoc, who crashes the car again and fractures 2D's other eyeball as well as waking him up. Since then he's been constantly verbally and physically abused by Murdoc (including brutal beatings and chloroforming, both of which have also been seen during during an iTunes interview), who also had an affair with 2D's girlfriend at the time, and he's gotten addicted to painkillers because of it. Then after the band splits up he's kidnapped by, guess who, Murdoc, who then stops him leaving the island they're on by having a whale guard his room, knowing that 2D is deathly scared of them. Oh, and his his real name is "Stu-Pot". During most of the latest Plastic Beach arc he's ended up as a Type C, curled up in a fetal position in his room and freaking out about the whale just outside. He's also become more of a Type E, as this has finally made him realize that Murdoc is neither his friend nor a good person.
- The Music Video for Billy Joel's "She's Right On Time" counts for Joel's character and his date. Played for Laughs as various appliance and pieces of furniture in the house keep falling apart and bursting into flames as the video goes on.
- The Wall is a trauma conga album. Between never knowing his father, sadistic schoolteachers, an overbearing mother, and his wife having an affair, it's safe to say that Pink's life hasn't been in easy in the slightest, and his descent into Neo-Nazism was not out of the blue.
- The last verse of The Divine Comedy's "A Lady of a Certain Age" is one for the titular Lady. Formerly a rich it-girl who could be found at Noël Coward's parties, she is left penniless after her husband dies and leaves his villa to his mistress. To add insult to injury, her children don't visit her anymore, and even when she goes to a bar to escape her little flat, men there don't believe her when she lies about her age.
- Tanya Tucker's "Some Kind Of Trouble". First it starts with her landlord coming to remind her that she's late with the rent. Then she calls her old boyfriend for some advice, only to get another woman on the other end of the line saying, "Hang up the phone." Then she talks to her boss about working overtime or something, only to be told by the boss that she no longer has a job. With those three strikes against her, she then turns to a preacher and asks him to pray for her, and he just says "all of God's children got to deal with their own kind of trouble."
- The Bible: The Ur-Example. Job's servants rush in to inform him of the latest tragedy to plague his estate even while previous servants are still informing him of the one before it.
- Cassandra; there's nothing that ever seems to go right for this girl, making her perhaps one of the biggest woobies in Classical Mythology on a whole. First, Apollo tries to rape her. Then, when she escapes, he curses her so that none of her visions of the future are ever believed. Then the Trojan War happens and her brother dies. Then she starts to lose it. Then she tries to hide in Athena's temple, only to be kidnapped and violently raped by Ajax the Lesser. Then she becomes Agamemnon's concubine. And finally, Agamemnon's cheating wife kills her. Jeez. She does end up being allowed into the Elysian Fields, because of her piety.
- Dionysus starts out with this as his backstory. His mother, Semele, is advised by a disguised Hera to get actual proof that the man who fathered the child Semele carries in her womb is Zeus. So Semele tells Zeus to show himself in his full divine glory, which burns her alive. Zeus sews the fetus into his thigh so the child can finish developing enough to be born, then after his birth calls him Bacchus, meaning the noisy one. Zeus gives the baby to relatives of Semele, who raise the child as a girl to throw Hera's scent off. Three years later Hera finds them, drives the adults insane and makes them kill the son they had together, after which they kill themselves in sorrow and little Bacchus only survives because Zeus turned him into a goat at the last moment so Hera didn't notice him. Then the toddler is shunted to the Island of Nysa, earning a new name: Dionysus, the son of the god Zeus living at Nysa. He's raised by satyrs and nymphs, then one day walking with a friend he sees a new strange plant. His friend goes to get it for him and falls to his death, and Dionysus with his power over plants makes the plant bear fruit, creating the first grapes then inventing wine. Trying to spread wine results in the first few kingdoms killing many of his followers including his nymph foster-mother, and almost Dionysus himself. After this, he changes his tone: he doesn't politely ask to be allowed to show you wine and grapes. You either allow him to introduce it to your kingdom or he will kill you with vines or drive you insane. Your pick.
- The Magnus Archives has protagonist Jon Sims, Jerkass Woobie extraordinaire. Even before he began to work at the Institute, he was an orphan who was relentlessly bullied and almost died as a child after encountering an Eldritch Abomination. Over the course of the series, he gets mauled by worms, his close friend is killed and replaced by an evil Doppelgänger, his boss murders someone and frames him for it, forcing him to go into hiding, he's kidnapped and tortured multiple times, he goes into a six month coma during which his consciousness is trapped in a hellscape of other people's nightmares, he spends three days being Buried Alive, and as of the season 4 finale, he's essentially mind controlled by the Big Bad into ending the world. And this is all without mentioning his slow, painful transformation over the course of the series into an eldritch monster, which several of his friends begin to hate (or at least distrust) him for despite it being completely out of his control. The man really needs a hug.
- Parodied with the Bebop-a-Rebop Rhubarb Pie fake ads in A Prairie Home Companion, which tend to appear with barely any rhyme or reason after a tale of increasingly (and hilariously) improbable and bad events, told in Garrison Keillor's completely deadpan style in the second person. The suggestion of pie is generally made when you are at the brink of death or something worse, making this both a parody of the Trauma Conga Line and of the Enforced Plugs that characterized the old-timey radio shows at which Prairie Home cozily pokes fun.
- Monty Python had "Four Yorkshiremen" on their Live At Drury Lane album (originally a skit on At Last the 1948 Show). The four men, who were very well off, engage in a progressively unbelievable game of Misery Poker. Eric Idle tops them all:
I had to go to sleep at night at 7 o'clock half an hour before I went to bed, drink a cup of sulfuric acid, work twenty-nine hours from permission to come to work and when we got home, our mum and our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves singing "hallelujah".
- Warhammer 40,000:
- the God-Emperor of Mankind goes through this Even disregarding the Horus Heresy, in which he got to see his children slaughter each other and come close to undoing everything that he'd ever accomplished, for the past ten thousand years the guy has been stuck on life support watching the universe go further to hell, helpless to do anything but act as a glorified psychic lighthouse against the darkness threatening to extinguish humanity forever.
- Magnus the Red doesn't exactly have it easy either, and is not only essentially forced to participate in aforementioned Heresy because of it, but the very reason he does so—to save his Legion—is made utterly pointless soon afterwards. All Just as Planned for Tzeentch.
- Crowning glory has to be the survivors of the First War of Armageddon (though someone should have thought about the implications of naming a planet after an "end of days war" ahead of time). After the typical untold generations of Imperial bureaucratic corruption and negligence, an immense uprising occurs thanks to the worshipers of the Chaos god Khorne being supercharged by a passing Warp Storm. Then in comes a space hulk, carrying Angron, fallen Primarch and Daemon Prince of the Chaos God of blood and carnage. But there was good news! The Space Wolf chapter arrives, along with a gigantic force of Imperial Guardsmen, and the near-legendary Grey Knights, who are in total able to stop the invasions. Unfortunately, where go the Grey Knights, so goes the Inquisition...and since most in the Imperium don't know that most of the fallen Primarchs are still alive and well as Daemon Princes, not to mention knowing much about overall Chaos nastiness, the world is quarantined and every civilian and soldier that wasn't a Space Marine was rounded up, sterilized, and put into internment camps while the world was quietly resettled by people who were told only that there was a war and there had been no survivors.
- There is another Hope Spot when the Space Wolves say "screw you" to the Inquisition and rescue as many survivors as they could...but there's only so many people you can fit aboard a few spaceships, so most of them die anyway.
- And it doesn't stop there. This defiant gesture sparks a cold war between the Wolves and the Inquisition, including the Grey Knights, later escalating to a full-on war despite the Wolves not firing back at Inquisition ships opening fire on them—all due to the incompetence of the original Inquisitor whose decision it was to have the survivors purged in the first place, then tried to apply street-level tactics to a planet and didn't get that Space Marines outrank Puny Humans. It ends with the Inquisition attacking the Space Wolves' homeworld and their milleniary warrior Bjorn Fell-Handed teleporting aboard the ships to get everyone to stand down.
- The titular protagonist's life is this before he came to America: He was a bastard, his father left at ten, his mother died of disease and he almost did as well, became an orphan, moved in with a cousin, who then committed suicide, then a hurricane destroyed everything on his island, and he was booked passage on a New York-bound ship ... which then caught fire.
- He has another one in "The Reynolds Pamphlet" as well, although it's entirely his fault. With the release of a single pamphlet, he ruins any future political career he may hope to have, as well as any presidential aspirations; he turns his best friend, confidant, and sister in law Angelica against him; his wife effectively erases herself not only from the public image, but also his life (as best as she can being a woman in the 1700s); and his son is killed defending his honor. Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, indeed.
- Miss Saigon: Parents killed in a military attack. Forced to work as a prostitute in order to support herself (this is how she loses her virginity). There's a brief Hope Spot when she meets a nice soldier who falls in love with her and plans to take her back to America with him—only for them to be separated during the Fall of Saigon. She then has to endure pregnancy and childbirth on her own and in hiding from those who might imprison or even kill her for consorting with the enemy. When her cousin finds her and tries to kill her son, she is forced to shoot him to protect the boy and flee to another country to avoid punishment, where she resumes work as a bar girl. Throughout all this, she hopes and prays and believes that her lover will return for her. But when he does, he's married to another woman and doesn't want to take the boy back to America. So she kills herself to force him to do exactly that.
- Several in Les Misérables:
- Fantine is fired, ostracized, forced into prostitution, forced to sell her hair and teeth, nearly raped, nearly arrested, and killed within the span of a few songs.
- Eponine has the her one love (Marius) fall in love with another woman (Cosette) after she accidentally introduces the two, then has said love ask her to introduce them again, then has to keep guard while they disappear inside Rue Plumet, is threatened and disowned, with the implication of violence, by her abusive father, forced to act as messenger between Cosette and Marius, mistaken for a boy, and killed in the span of roughly a day and a half.
- Marius has the love of his life leave for England, his best friend Eponine die in his arms, then Team Pet Gavroche is shot in front of him, then all his other friends die around him while he survives, all culminating in a massive survivor's-guilt-induced-Heroic BSoD. All this occurs in under a day.
- A common plot in William Shakespeare's tragedies: a single death (often accidental) snowballs until half the cast or more is dead, leaving the surviving characters bordering on Heroic BSoD. See: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, King Lear, ... Especially notable in Hamlet: by the time Fortinbras arrives with his army, the entire named cast, aside from Horatio, is dead. Fortinbras, who came to conquer the kingdom, is naturally surprised and horrified that the royal family seems to have done his job for him.
- Oh God, Scootaloo in Motherly Scootaloo. The story starts off with her having a Teenage Pregnancy her pregnant. Then we find out that her mom died several years back, and she ended up being taken care of by a friend of her mother who promised her Scootaloo would go to a good home, causing her to act because of an unconscious hope that that would cause her to return. We also find out that the father of her child left her when he found out (not to mention that there was a lot of teasing, mainly by Diamond Tiara) and Sandy (the previously mentioned foster mom), put her unborn child up for adoption, despite Scootaloo wanting to keep the foal. Then Scootaloo has an argument with Apple Bloom, and smashes her head into a mirror (luckily, Rainbow Dash agreed to watch her along with Fluttershy, giving her and Apple Bloom a chance to make up). Then, during "The Birthing", she gets a MAJOR Kick the Dog from Jet Set and Upper Crust, who Sandy had been thinking of as adoptive parents for Scootaloo's newborn son, Lightning Blitz, causing her to take Lightning from the hospital just so she can be with him, which causes her C-section wounds to rupture, nearly killing her (and according to Word of God, she would have if rescue hadn't come when it did). Thankfully, when the Jerkass couple says to Sandy that Scootaloo would be better off dead, she has a My God, What Have I Done? moment (after giving the couple a Shut Up, Hannibal! speech) about this, which leads to Lightning being taken into a sort-of foster home by a friend (since they don't have the money to take care of him at the moment) and Scootaloo gets clearance to visit him relatively quickly (following a subversion of There Are No Therapists), and Sandy officially adopts Scootaloo, and their relationship has seriously improved, causing the story to take a turn for the better.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: What HASN'T freaking happened to Abel in his life? His best friend from childhood killed herself, he watched several people die in a single day, including an old enemy that he was reconciling with and ended up listening to his dying thoughts, his father turned out to be a succubus who killed his mother's husband years ago and proceeded to terrorize and shame May, murder his other childhood friend, and kidnap Abel away to SAIA. And that's just part one!
- Homestuck: Poor, poor Tavros.
- It seems every almost every update from 1/24/11 onward is dedicated to crushing Karkat: He's watched his friends get murdered (by each other), his plans fail horrifically, and his romantic ambitions get crushed.
- Let's just say everyone who isn't a permanent resident of the dreambubbles, Jack Noir, or LORD ENGLISH is having one really bad day/week/million-billion years.
- And now the dreambubble residents have had their day spoilt too, and Jack Noir is currently being chased by a vengeance-fueled postwoman who is really, really pissed off.
- WV. He gets his innocent farm burned down dozens of times, begins a rebellion and watches helplessly as Jack Noir slaughters every single one of his soldiers. Then, after he parts ways with John, Jack blows up a ship he happens to be riding in, sending him to a post-apocalyptic Earth, that's merely a gigantic desolate desert. He's not done yet. As things FINALLY begin to look up for him when he meets the other exiles, he watches as John gets killed in front of his eyes, gets trapped in a capsule, dreams that he's become Noir - his worst nightmare - only to wake up and realize the real one is in front of him. Jack then proceeds to rip a chunk of uranium out of his stomach, nearly killing him, though he's saved by an alternative timeline God Tier Feferi.
- The pre-retcon timeline is this for Terezi. She spirals downward into self-loathing after killing Vriska, and this only gets worse once she begins secretly hate-dating Gamzee. This results in her deciding to let Aranea cure her blindness (which was a major part of her self-image), her boyfriend Dave breaking up with her once he learns about her relationship with Gamzee, Gamzee going Ax-Crazy again and beating her to within an inch of her life, Karkat and Kanaya (her only two troll friends left) both dying trying to save her from Gamzee (who also dies), Aranea impaling her with her own sword, and most of her human friends dying as well (which also serves as this for other characters). It's so bad that she uses her powers to help John fix the timeline and avoid any of this ever happening.
- Jake also gets one. His cluelessness fractures his relationships with his friends and causes his boyfriend, Dirk, to break up with him. Just when it seems like he may be able to reconcile with them, his genetic granddaughter/alternate universe penpal, Jade, whom he's been looking forward to meeting, is mind-controlled by the Condesce, who then places Jane under mind-control too, banishes Dirk outside the session, and captures Jake and Roxy. The brainwashed Jane then basically threatens to make Jake into a Sex Slave, and Aranea comes back to life and immediately decides to Mind Rape him to force him into aiding her plans against his will, which is implied to be an extremely traumatic experience. When he finally recovers from this, he sees Aranea try to kill Jane and attempts to Take The Bullet for her (giving him a Heroic death and causing his death to stick), only for it to be a Senseless Sacrifice when she still kills Jane anyway. And even after John retcons the timeline, it's only the stuff with Aranea that no longer occurs; everything else still happens to him.
- Great: "Lousy" doesn't even begin to describe the main character's introduction. It appears that he gets better.
- Vaarsuvius from The Order of the Stick since the end of the Azure City arc. First, he/shenote feels guilty that the battle is lost and the party is split, trying desperately to contact them, failing every time. He is haunted by bad dreams because of his failure to save Azure City. Then he gets his family threatened, which results in a Deal with the Devil, and him going over the top when saving them, casting Familicide on the dragon, which again results in his mate filing a divorce. Type A, so far. But when he sees the result of the Familicide he had cast earlier, it turns into a Type C (spoiler warning!). As a result of the Deal with the Devil, the fiends will take over his soul for a time.
- Girl Genius: Airman Third Class Axel Higgs. Higgs is Type F:
Dr. Sun: When they found your father he was severely injured. They set out for the hospital immediately, even though the fight was still raging. They were hit by some kind of cannon. The alarms woke Airman Third Class Axel Higgs. He reported for emergency duty, he found the main cabin in flames—and the crew dead.Dr. Sun: Then he saw the monsters. Some kind of biological weapon, I'm betting. Higgs could see that there was no help to be had from the rest of the fleet— [in flames, through the window] —and the monsters were between him and the evacuation gig. Things were actually going fairly well, until he found your father.Dr. Sun: While he was dragging him to the gig, he encountered Captain Dupree, who was delirious. She broke his arm. He knocked her out, but broke her jaw in the process. He got them both into the gig and shoved off just as the ship went down. He's not rated as a pilot or navigator, but he set the ship controls toward Mechanicsburg and rigged a crude automatic pilot. He then began to apply first aid to your father—which is when he was again attacked by Captain Dupree.Dr. Sun: This time, she broke his leg. But he finally managed to subdue her. He tried to find some way to restrain her, which is when she bit him. That's infected, by the way. She also got in a good, solid kick at the gig's controls. He did his best to fix the damage, and then tried to set his own arm—and apparently, blacked out from the pain. Only to awaken as the gig was crashing into a farmer's pond. He dragged your father and Dupree ashore, where he encountered a nesting goose—which broke his other arm.Dr. Sun: The farmhouse was some distance away, but, as fortune would have it, there were troops there. They had been hearing strange reports coming from Sturmhalten, so they were already jumpy when they saw Higgs coming. They thought he was a revenant, and shot him in the leg. Afterwards, they were very sorry. They saw to your father and Dupree, called for emergency transport, and gave Higgs some rum. Lots of rum. Before he passed out, he told them everything.
- Those are merely physical injuries, not emotional trauma. And there's no indication from Higgs that he found it at all traumatic. There are, however, an increasing number of hints in the comic that Bosun Higgs is in fact a Jägermonster. (Given the great variety of forms the transformed soldiers have taken on becoming Jägermonsters, why shouldn't there be one that didn't change outwardly and still looks human? After all, we've already seen that the claim that no female Jägermonster exists turned out to be false.) Higgs is treated with respect by all Jägers we've met so far, he talks about events in the past as if he'd been there and in general shows a surprising knowledge of Heterodyne history and Van Rijn's Mechanical Muses for a mere Boatswain. The artificial intelligence of Castle Heterodyne recognized him. And he has demonstrated greater speed, endurance and strength than normal humans on several occasionsnote .
- Commander Badass (a.k.a. D39-9E-B52), a time traveling Navy SEAL single dad from the nonspecific space future and central character of Manly Men Doing Manly Things, suffered a weeping emotional breakdown when, during his days as a Space Marine, he was told that his family of in-vitro Space Marine brothers and sisters had been killed...quite to the disappointment of his idiot general who had invented the whole story out of the mistaken hope this would turn the Commander into a Rambo-style one-man army and send him on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. Instead it only showed the man's complete misunderstanding of the human psyche, probably fueled by too many action movie clichés. When the Commander found out he'd been lied to...he sued his boss and won. (Just as cloned Space Marines had previously fought for the right to not have army surgeons graft laser cannons into their soldiers' chests whenever the army felt like it, and instead be treated like people.
- Shandala of Broken Saints fame, whose biography reads like something off of the From Bad to Worse page. Washed ashore on a Fijian island and adopted by the tribe, her childhood was peaceful and idyllic until her adoptive mother was viciously murdered and mutilated by white strangers under the command of (and possibly personally led by) the Big Bad. Then, as an adult, she reluctantly leaves her home and family and all that she loves to find the truth about her biological parents. Then, her adoptive brother Tui is accidentally killed due to an big scary empathic rage thing on her part. Then, she is washed off the ship in a giant storm and found and brought to the lair of the Shadow Men to be tortured and sealed away in the back of a sleazy strip club. Then, after being rescued, she ends up falling back to her Superpowered Evil Side briefly, deciding to go back home, and ends up confronted by The Dragon, who murders and mutilates her Empathy Pet Bula the same way her adoptive mother was, and then kidnaps her. Then, in the Grand Finale, she is turned into an instrument of mass suffering via her empathic powers by her Big Bad father, only saved by her friends in time for her to commit a Heroic Sacrifice and save the world. And yet throughout it all, she retains her purity of heart.
- Division by Zero: In the first chapter we meet a 15-year-old girl, Kohana. Her life is relatively normal, and then she is almost eaten by a planet-destroying Eldritch Abomination. Not only is she told she must fight this Eldritch Abomination that has presumably annihilated everything within a six-mile radius just by attack her alone, theres more of them, and they are destroying the Earth for fun. It gets worse from there, far worse. By the third chapter Shadows attack her school and kill everyone there, piling up their mangled bodies at the door to greet her. She immediately bluescreens, but her Advisor just wakes her up. The Shadows eat her half-dead classmates in front of her, and then she proceeds to find out her favourite teacher, Jinnouchi, has been a Shadow all along, and was the one that led the Shadow attack on her school. Kohana doesnt kill Jinnouchi even though she knows she must. Her new teammate Isleen does by skewering Kohana through the back with her own sword to get at Jinnouchi. Worse still, Kohana tries to find the leader of the Shadows, an entity called the umbrakinetic, and finds out it is her own mother. Her mother then wipes the Earth out of existence, but not before telling Kohana how much of a failure she is, destroying their neighborhood, and killing two of her soldiers. Then Kohana finds out the umbrakinetic is Death, as in Death Death, unkillable Death. It is only chapter 4.
- Whateley Universe: it is probably easier to list the major POV characters who haven't had this happen to them. Special note goes to the following:
- In a massive Break the Haughty event, Phase (Ayla Goodkind, formerly Trevor) goes from an incredibly wealthy heir of the biggest fortune on the planet to a despised mutant intersexed freak who is turned over to a Mad Scientist by his own parents, and on getting out ends up living in a basement with his equally-disowned sister. On going to Whateley Academy, he is hated by most of the other students for being from the best-known mutant-hating family around, and targeted by homophobes who are aware that due to his mutation he is now intersexed (looking female, except in the groin). Those don't even touch on highlights like getting trapped in a sewer and attacked by zombies. Or nearly being eaten by an unkillable demon. Or...
- Eldritch. Erik Mahren was kicked out of his home as a teen, so he enlisted in the Marine Corps and ended up in a Cape Busters unit that gets dragged through nine kinds of Hell leaving him a twitchy, uncontrollably violent nervous wreck. After mustering out, he is unable to find regular work, so in desperation he turns to Whateley Academy to get work as a Range Instructor. Just as his life starts calming down a bit and he falls in love with a co-worker, said co-worker is murdered in front of him during a nightmarish attack on the school. He is barely starting to recover from this when his latent mutant abilities start going haywire, he explodes, and wakes up in a new Gender Bender body with unknown and uncontrollable powers and the risk of becoming mystically enslaved for an indefinitely long lifetime. Oh, and the medicines keeping her Intermittent Explosive Disorder in check have stopped working, and in order to hide what happens she also has to pretend to be a student in the school she had been teaching at. No sooner does she manage to fix the 'turn you into a zombie weaponsmith for eternity' problem than she gets dropped into an running battle with an Omnicidal Maniac out to destroy the city of Darwin, Australia. Then, when she returns to Whateley, she finds that her long-lost sister has been dropped into the school's care, and then...
- Circuit Breaker. Yes, get trained as a mutant-hunter by a clique of fanatics. Yes, watch your older brother get murdered by your own uncle when he turns out to be a mutant. Yes, discover that you are an intersexed Technopath mutant yourself and have to flee for your life. Yes, become a homeless orphan on the run from an Omnicidal Maniac who lives in the 'Net and murdered your family. Anything else? Get recruited into an order or religious knights with no clear idea of the implications? Sure. Hide in the sewers of Philadelphia only to stumble upon a horrific massacre perpetrated by the cyber-ghost-guy who is out to kill you? Uhm, OK. Get recruited again by the CIA? Why not. Get a rogue AI stuck in your brain? Uh huh, what next? See the person who has been your only friend through all this get brutally murdered? Whee! Go insane with multiple personality disorder? Sounds groovy! Get locked up, and have a rogue doctor perform potentially deadly experiments on you? Hey, go for it. Fall in love with a Horny Devil? Sure, sounds fun! Escape and get captured by Therianthropes who infect you and turn you into a were-cougar? Neat-o! Get split into two duplicates and have two of your personalities put in one body and the other two in the duplicate? Yeah, ok...
- Pejuta... oh, where to begin? When your story starts with you getting beaten and gang-raped, and that is not already the worst thing that's going to happen to you, you are in for a rough ride.
- Part of what makes The Nostalgia Critic so fun to watch is this mixed in with Misery Builds Character. The guy's life is shit, and it's sadistic fun to see how he'll react to the next horrible thing happening to him.
- The third arc of Critical Role is this for Percy; he already watched his family get brutally murdered, after which he was tortured for information about his home. In the space of about four episodes, he watches the Briarwoods almost kill one of his friends, goes Ax-Crazy trying to stop them, starts Hearing Voices of some smoky entity from his dreams, returns to Whitestone and sees the town stripped of inhabitants, desecrated by undead stone giants, and its central landmark (a giant tree) corrupted by evil and decorated with eight corpses made up to look like him and his friends. And the arc is just getting started.
- From the second campaign, we have Caleb. Although raised by a loving family, he studied under an abusive teacher who forced him and his friends to execute people, and eventually made him kill his own parents under the influence of altered memories. At which point he suffered a mental breakdown and was placed in an asylum for eleven years, only to be healed and realize what he'd done and his parents' innocence. He's been hiding, living as a beggar, and sometimes getting thrown in jail for five years before the story starts. Poor guy.
- RWBY: Yang really gets shoved through the mincer through the latter half of Volume 3. By the end of the Volume, she has been framed for assault and arrested on global television, effectively told that her Missing Mom cares very little for her, watched her teammate get stabbed through the torso, and had her right arm sliced off. To make matters even worse, the best friend she sacrificed her arm trying to save then runs away and cuts all ties not long afterwards. Yang is left emotionally exhausted and bedridden, and brushes Ruby away with very little concern.
- The apparent reason why Sam from Starship Goldfish is an Idiot Hero, one year ago he used a device to erase his traumatic memories, it removed nearly everything he knew.
- Arc nine of Twig serves as this for Sylvester, as he's forced to work alongside the new personality inhabiting his best friend's body, his girlfriend takes a huge dose of the Psycho Serum Wyvern and it massively alters her personality, and his "brother" Gordon's heart finally gives out, forcing them to abandon his corpse in a burning building. It's enough to shatter what had previously been an Undying Loyalty to his creators, and Sy immediately decides to flee Radham Academy at the first opportunity.
- In the various GoAnimate "Grounded" videos, this is referred to as a "Punishment Day", where a parent, instead of just grounding someone, will instead enact a series of actions meant to humiliate the punished. Of course, they tend to be a case of Disproportionate Retribution, as the punished will be attacked, have their possessions destroyed or even outright killed due to minor things.
- While, in Worm, nothing ever seems to go right for Skitter for very long, Dragon winds up going through a much worse torment, in no small part due to Skitter's actions. While nothing physically affects her, she winds up completely mute after the events at the school, and it only gets worse from there.
- Lapis Lazuli from Steven Universe. Prior to her debut, she was forcibly trapped in a mirror for many years and only spoken to when needed. After being released, she tried to use the oceans to go back to her home planet, but was unable to do so due to her cracked gem. After Steven heals her, she is able to return to her home planet... only to find out that Homeworld had advanced so much that she couldn't understand it. She is then used as an informant by Peridot and Jasper and taken back to Earth before being imprisoned again. After constantly being imprisoned, Lapis chooses to fuse with Jasper after the latter was defeated by Garnet. However, Lapis then takes control of the fusion and submerges herself and Jasper in the ocean. Her control is slipping by "Chille Tid", before it's gone completely and they have to be forcibly unfused in "Super Watermelon Island". She gets better in later episodes, though there are nods to what happened, such as her desire to "take a break from water".
- South Park: Kenny McCormick, hands down. He has suffered through the pain of dying countless times, some of which were self-sacrifices or suicides, with nobody remembering him dying or believing him when he tries to reach out for help. And remember, this is on top of his life of poverty with alcoholic and drug-addicted parents, leaving his entire family to struggle just to stay alive.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender: Zuko. First, his mother leaves him (to save him no less), then he gets challenged to an Agni Kai as a thirteen-year-old, by his own father who brutally scars and then banishes him, then he gets sent on a Snipe Hunt after the Avatar. During said quest how much happens to our poor banished prince? (Read: Too much to list here.) And then when he finally gives up that quest, he has to fight his little sister in the shows only real deathmatch and take a lightning bolt in the chest to save a friend's life. He lives through it, but barely. The next day he has to start ruling his country, which he is effectively going to have to force through a HeelFace Turn, after theyve been at war with everyone else for a century. He was even destined to take on all that trauma from birth, being a direct descendant of both the Fire Lord who started the war and the Avatar who opposed him. His destiny was to take on all the horrible influences from his father and co. and all the positive influences from his uncle and the Avatar, and come out of it with the understanding necessary to make the right decisions and have the right credentials to be the Fire Lord the world needed to rule the Fire Nation in the wake of the Avatars defeat of Ozai. In a way all this trauma molds him into a much more complex character than the Avatar and allows him to fill a role that Aang could not, which ends up being almost as important or maybe even as important as Aang's own role in the story. It also makes him the thoroughly-adored Woobie of the series.
- The Legend of Korra:
- The titular character herself goes through this. First, she fights against the leader and Big Bad of the Equalists and got her bending taken away, resulting in a Result A. Then, she fighta her Evil Uncle who nearly destroyed the world, resulting in a Result G. Then, she fights an evil anarchist, which probably takes her closest to the Despair Event Horizon and is one of the saddest scenes to have yet been animated in Western Media. Then she goes against an evil dictator and is repeatedly convinced that she is no longer needed in the world. In short, Korra has arguably been through more than Zuko. Thankfully, the last two are notable Result A's. She admits to Tenzin that all the suffering that she went through in the last two seasons made her a better and more compassionate person. Best illustrated by how she saves Kuvira's life and, doesn't beat her down, but talks her into surrendering through understanding.
- Asami also goes through a somewhat less severe one, also becoming Result A. When Asami was a child, her mother was killed by firebenders. She is strung along by Mako while dating him, only to lose him to Korra. She learns that her father, whom she looked up to, was working for the Equalists, and is forced to attack him, damaging the reputation of his company and their relationship almost irreparably. She has to take on the failing company; the guy she trusted to help her restore it steals the inventory. She watches Korra, her best friend whom she's fallen in love with at that point, almost die from the Red Lotus's poison and become a crippled, emotionally broken shell as a result of it. She has to wait three years before she sees Korra again, when Korra promised to see her in three weeks after leaving Republic City to recover. While she does manage to recover the company that once belonged to her father, and she reconciles with her father, he dies shortly afterward while attacking Kuvira's Colossus, and all of the company's inventory got destroyed.
- Beast Wars: Poor Waspinator! Almost every episode, he is blown to bits, killed, or badly injured, just to come back the next one.
- Metalocalypse: While every band member has their share of trauma, special recognition must go to rhythm guitarist Toki Wartooth. He spent most of his childhood in Lillehammer being forced into manual labor and punished with physical abuse by his deeply religious father, to the point where Toki goes catatonic upon seeing him. Even within Dethklok he is one of the bigger Butt Monkeys of the band, constantly being the victim of horrible things and being forced into the background by lead guitarist Skwisgaar. Everyone that he loves is cursed to die in a horrible way, including his cancer-stricken father with whom Toki had just reconciled...moments before dropping him down an icy mountain and falling into a frozen river where he drowned before Toki's eyes. And in the fourth season, Toki meets the guitarist he replaced, Magnus Hammersmith, who at first seems intimidating and like he may be planning a scheme. Instead he saves Toki's life from a bully's exploits that nearly killed him, and they end up becoming friends, only for Magnus to reveal himself as a member of the Revengencers and take Toki hostage as part of the group's attack at the end of the season. But not before stabbing him in the stomach. The only consolation at this point is that he's probably not dead.
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series:
- An alternate Peter Parker lost both Uncle Ben and Aunt May at an early stage. He then presumably went through much of the same crap that our Peter did. Including losing Mary Jane went she wound up in another dimension, getting her back and marrying her, only to learn that she was clone who then died. Then he learned that he had a clone named named Ben Reilly, and later learned that he might actually be the clone. He wound being tragically broken and crazy, and was then bonded with the Carnage symbiote and swears to destroy all of reality.
- For that matter Ben Reilly himself, who went through the same shit (except for being bonded with Carnage.) Even he isn't sure which one of them is the clone. However not only is he still a hero, he's actually still a nice guy in spite of all it. Making him a textbook example of the Iron Woobie.
- Ninjago: Jay goes through this in Season 6: Skybound. It's bad enough for him Nya just wants to be friends with him, despite him literally seeing their future together, but Nadakhan tricks Jay into wishing he could give her whatever she wants. This resulted in him learning that Ed and Edna are not his true parents, and that his real father was the deceased Cliff Gordon aka Fritz Donnegan. He's overcome with shock and guilt, which becomes even worse when his friends find out and becomes the poor sucker to extract venom from the Tiger Widow. He's then captured by the Sky Pirates and perpetually tormented until he uses his last wish. Then in the season finale, he has to witness Nya dying in his arms, but fortunately every terrible thing that's happened to him is undone thanks to his final wish.
- Final Space: Gary Goodspeed,over the course of season one alone, gets incarcerated on a prison ship with only a few robots for company for five years, gets attacked by bounty hunters, dies temporarily of oxygen deprivation, gets his arm ripped off, is forced to remember watching his father die as a kid, nearly dies in a supernova, watches his friend die in front of him, is left with the burden of taking care of his late friend's son, is forced to relive his father's death again, loses the planet Earth, loses his Love Interest Quinn in the same antimatter bomb explosion that killed his father, loses the Galaxy One, and slowly dies of oxygen deprivation over the course of ten minutes, with the belief that everyone he's befriended over the course of the season is dead.
- The surviving crew of the USS Indanapolis (CA-35). You'd think things would be bad enough, with only 317 of the ship's nearly 1,200 crew surviving getting sunk by a Japanese submarine, then spending four days in shark-infested seas. Things got worse for the survivors when they found out that, at the very least, most of those who made it off the ship alive could've been saved. First, they were sent out of Guam without destroyer escort (which was standard procedure for the area). Then the ship's officers weren't informed that there were Japanese subs in the area (which had already claimed at least one Allied ship). Then when the ship sank, its distress call was dismissed by Allied command as a Japanese trap. Then when the Indianapolis failed to join the rest of the fleet in the Philippines, the ship was marked as "late" instead of "missing", so no search party was sent out. The survivors were found by a scout plane that happened to spot the oil slick from the Indianapolis' wreckage.
And just to polish things off, when people started demanding to know why the ship went missing for so long without being looked for, the Navy made a scapegoat of the ship's C.O., Capt. Charles McVay; court-martialing and convicting him of putting his ship "in harm's way" via his failure to maintain a "zig-zag" sail pattern. They even went so far as to call the Japanese sub commander that sank him as a witness (who called the "zig-zag" pattern useless). McVay was the only ship's captain in the U.S. Fleet to lose a ship and be court-martialed for it. (He committed suicide in 1968.)
- Yang Kyoungjong was a Korean man conscripted into the Japanese army in the undeclared Japanese border war with the Soviet War. During the fighting Yang was captured by the Soviet army and conscripted to fight for the USSR. Yang was transported to the Eastern front where he was caught by the German army. He was, conscripted once again. The Germans sent Yang to fight at Normandy where he was captured once again by the US army.
- Jackson C. Frank's story. On March 31, 1954, a furnace exploded at Frank's elementary school. The resulting fire killed 15 of Frank's classmates (including his then girlfriend Marlene du Pont) and left him with burns on 50% of his body and life-long depression. In 1966, a year after his first and only album was released, Frank developed writer's block and his depression began to worsen. During the 1970s, Frank's son died of cystic fibrosis, deepening his depression and resulting in a stay at a mental institution. In the 1980s, he traveled to New York in an attempt to find friend Paul Simon, but failed and ended up homeless. During this time, he ended up in and out of mental institutions. In the early 1990s, Frank was sitting on a bench in Queens when he was shot by teenagers indiscriminately firing a pellet gun, blinding him in his left eye. He died March 3, 1999 from pneumonia and cardiac arrest. A major Tear Jerker indeed.
- Speaking of natural disasters, New Orleans. First the levees break during Hurricane Katrina killing over a thousand people and leaving countless others homeless and suffering from physical and mental ailments, then the government's response is worse than that of the Boxing Day Tsunami and the Haiti earthquake, then speculators use the destruction to get rid of homes and schools for the displaced poor black community, then they win the Super Bowl, and then the BP oil disaster kills 11 people and craters the fishing industry, then after that Hope Spot occurred, the team that won the Super Bowl was vilified for a bounty scandal.
Various survivors: We're just a rich Haiti. Who did we kill 300 years ago to deserve this? We sold our souls for the Super Bowl!!
- One of the survivors of the Deepwater Horizon oil drill disaster made an escape that sounds almost fictional: The initial explosion sent a three-inch thick metal fire door slamming into him, and as soon as he was able to free himself another explosion sent another door straight into him, pinning him to the wall again. By that point he was starting to get angry. After watching all their fire drills go to waste by everyone panicking, he plunged two or three stories into the ocean which allowed him time to think about the fact that he had jumped from a place that wasn't on fire into the ocean, which was. When he got over being stunned by hitting the water, hard, he realized he wasn't dead because he felt a burning sensation all over his body; fortunately he wasn't on fire.
- Wilmer McLean was the owner of the farm that the Civil War battle know as The First Battle of Bull Run took place on. After the Confederates commandeered his house for a headquarters his kitchen was destroyed by a Union cannon ball. After the battle Wilmer decided to move to protect his family and because the proximity of the Union Army was making business difficult for him. He moved near the Appatomattox court house. Robert E. Lee officially surrendered to union general Ulysses S. Grant in Wilmer's parlor. After the signing of the surrender, members of the Army looted all his furniture for souvenirs.
- On August 6th, 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi was staying in Hiroshima for a business trip. The first bomb fell no more than 3 km away from where he stood, but the next day he returned to his home in Nagasaki for medical treatment. According to his account, he was describing the devastation at Hiroshima to a disbelieving boss...and then the second bomb fell and destroyed Nagasaki. He lived until 2010 at age 93.
- In 2008, a sixteen-year-old cheerleader from Silsbee High in Texas was sexually assaulted by Rakheem Bolton, a football star at the school. While the attacker was initially charged, he admitted to misdemeanor assault and served no jail time, instead ending up with a fine, community service and mandatory anger management classes. Silsbee did not suspend or expel him, even continued to allow him to play on the team, whilst telling the girl that she should keep a low profile and avoid attending school-related social events. After being advised by her counselors not to give up on activities she loved, she continued to cheer. At a game in 2009, she remained silent during his free throw, understandably refusing to gleefully chant "put it in!" at her attacker...which got her kicked off the squad. She and her family sued the school for violating her free speech rights, a case which was denied earlier this year on the grounds of being a frivolous lawsuit. Her family is now being ordered to pay $45,000 in legal fees. Fortunately for her, the cheerleader was given support from many NFL cheerleaders and a petition started in her support to drop the fine, with many people asking for the school to either pay her family the $45,000 or fine Bolton instead, quickly got over 150,000 signatures.
- You live in San Bernardino during the late '80s. A runaway train crashes into your neighbourhood at 100 mph and ravages every home except yours, killing several people. The rubble is cleaned up and life goes on. Two weeks later you get blown up by a fuel line that was damaged during the cleanup.
- Kelsey Grammer's life has been ridiculously tragic. His father was shot dead in 1968. His sister was abducted, raped, and murdered in 1975. His younger twin half-brothers were killed in a freak accident in 1980. And his friend and Frasier producer David Angell was on American Airlines Flight 11 when it was hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center on 9/11.
- A British couple named Jason and Jenny Cairns-Lawrence went vacationing in New York City during September 11th, 2001, when the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history occurred. In London, they experienced another terrorist attack on July 7, 2005, at the London Underground subway system. And during their vacation three years later on November 26 in Mumbai, India, guess what happened? Yep, yet another terrorist attack! However, just like Clark Griswold, Jason and Jenny were determined to enjoy their trip regardless.
- Roy Sullivan was struck by lightning 7 times and killed himself at 71 over an unrequited love.
- The so called Greatest Generation went through this, having to face The Great Depression and World War 2 back to back.
- The 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. During practice on Friday before the race, Rubens Barrichello was seriously injured in a crash. Then the next day during the qualifying rounds, Roland Ratzenberger was killed. And finally, the main event saw the death of Ayrton Senna.
- How about Jim Larson? First, his sister, Sonja Larson, was one of the first victims (along with her roommate, Christina Powell) of the Gainesville Ripper, Danny Rolling. He marries his wife Carla and they have a daughter. Then Carla is abducted, raped, and murdered by a sex offender.
- The tenure of University of Virginia president Teresa Sullivan has been mired in tragedy. She came into office as the university was reeling from the murder of a lacrosse player. Shortly afterwards, she was the target of a coup attempt. The 2014-15 school year saw it get worse, with another young woman being killed by a man tied to another murder at Virginia Tech, a now-debunked article from Rolling Stone about a gang rape on the campus destroying the reputation of a fraternity and several other people on campus, and a black student being violently arrested and bloodied by the Alcoholic Beverage Control. In 2016, another student of theirs was taken hostage by the North Korean government where he suffered severe brain damage, and died shortly after he was returned to the United States. In 2017, the university was invaded by several white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups; violent clashes with counter-protesters ensured, and one of the white supremacists ran over several counter-protesters with his car, killing one.
- Several people who survived the deadly shooting at the 2017 Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas were also present at a country-themed bar in Thousand Oaks, California that was shot up about a year later. At least one of those unlucky people was killed in that shooting.
- As discussed by the documentary Hitler's Circle of Evil, Rudolf Hess's final actions under Hitler are almost enough to qualify him as a Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain, but the fact that he helped Hitler get to power instantly removes said sympathy. After years of loyal service, Hess had been Demoted to Extra and felt ignored. He was also going through sanity slippage — for starters, he began believing in the paranormal, and at least once an employee found him trying to keep a tipped chair from falling over with only his mind. As Hitler and co. were trying to reach England, Hess came up with an idea, which he felt he couldn't disclose to anyone until it was already in motion — he left a letter that detailed this plan to be left on Hitler's desk the day after his departure. His plan was to fly to Scotland alone, and once there he'd meet with a lord he already knew — who would then introduce him to Winston Churchill so Hess could convince England to surrender. Needless to say, it didn't quite go like that. Instead, the weather above Scotland forced him to bail the plane and parachute down. He landed on a field, where a random farmhand found him pretty much immediately, and only minutes later he had been captured. Meanwhile in Germany, Hess's letter had made Hitler very angry, which combined with the news of his capture led Hitler to cut all ties with him and ruin Hess's reputation with propaganda. Once Hess realized how badly he had screwed up, he attempted suicide... only to fail at that too, as the ledge he had choicen was nowhere high enough to cause damage more serious than a broken bone or two. Once the Nazis fell, Hess was incarcerated and later hanged himself.
- The 60's and 70's was one horrific incident in the United States after another. A decade that started full of optimism turns into horror with the assassination of President Kennedy, a deeply unpopular war in Vietnam, the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The 70's continued this with the public just how corrupt a president could be when Richard Nixon was forced to resign in the Watergate Scandal due to a tape showing overwhelming proof that he had clearly committed obstruction of justice, and the brief hope of Jimmy Carter managing to turn the nation around would result in the 70's ending with an oil freeze that left the nation grappling with a massive energy crisis and crippled economy and a revolution in Iran that would result in a hostage crisis that would severely embarrass President Carter.