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Trauma Conga Line

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There's getting back-stabbed, and then...

"The rule for finding plots of character-centered to ask, "What's the worst thing that can possibly happen to this guy?" And then do it."

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:

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. Even if you do succeed, keep in mind that there's a good chance audiences would be too scared to tune in once they find out how eager you are to torture your characters, or drop off once they realize things are never getting better.

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.


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    Fairy Tales 
  • In Franz Xaver von Schönwerth "The Three Flowers", protagonist Katie is held captive by a witch and sexually harassed by a stranger. Shortly after being rescued and meeting her fiancé, she triggers by accident a curse which turns her brothers into stags, and she must remain mute for seven years to undo the spell. During those seven years, her evil and abusive mother-in-law murders her three babies and frames Katie, who is almost put to death because she cannot speak up and defend herself.

  • 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. 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 being made Deader than Dead.
  • 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 and can't even go to their funeral without exposing her secret Emotional 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 without explanation. 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 this again. 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 Kristoff leaves without a word. Made worse by the fact that throughout the film, she was being constantly reminded of how disastrously her last relationship ended, with her fiance revealing he was only pretending to care and telling her no one loved her, and that it's clearly exacerbated her abandonment issues. 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 Land Before Time Littlefoot sees his mother die, his herd separated, and his home destroyed, with only his few friends as support. Don Bluth actually believes in happy endings, but they're definitely not free.
  • Much of Turning Red's first act is a (relatively low-stakes) example of this for Meilin Lee. Her mother Ming discovers Mei's drawings of a local convenience store clerk she is crushing on, then takes Mei with her to chew out poor Devon and denounce him as a 'groomer' using the aforementioned sketches as "proof". After a night of terrifying nightmares, Mei wakes up the following morning to find that she has turned into a giant red panda (which her mom initially mistakes for her period) and has to work out how to revert to human form unaided. Mei forces herself to keep calm and avoid transforming long enough to make it to school only to find a local bully who witnessed the events the previous night was plastering photocopies of her admittedly off-color drawings all over the blasted school. Ming assaults a security guard in full view of Mei's math class after sneaking onto campus and announces that she forgot her pads in front of everyone, which pushes her emotional state over the threshold for a public transformation. Mei runs home crying in broad daylight only to find out her parents knew this would happen at some point and made no attempt to warn her. Said parents elect to basically place Mei in lockdown for a month, and her room is reduced to bare walls and a mattress. All within 36 hours. Poor girl!

  • The film version of 1408 is essentially the story of one man getting repeatedly kicked in the balls, by an "evil, fucking room."
  • Brothers (2009): Sam gets captured by the Afghans alongside his friend, and then is forced to kill said friend to get back home and return to his family. Once he does make it back home, he becomes anxious over Grace supposedly having an affair with his brother, and then gets callously insulted by his resentful daughter, in which he finally loses his marbles.
  • Beau Is Afraid: The entirety of the film revolves around putting the titular Beau Wassermann, an already extremely anxious and agoraphobic middle-aged man with mommy issues, in hilariously morbid situations that could go wrong in one of 10 ways, with the plot choosing to go with the 11th.
  • Contracted: Poor Sam. She gets raped and infected with a zombie virus, is smothered by her homophobic religious mother, stalked by an old friend, has her plants rejected by the gallery because the owner doesn't recognize her due to the extent of her bodily decay, is given the silent treatment by her control freak girlfriend who later dumps her on the basis that she'd "been with a man" (even though it was rape), and finally ends up in a car crash that kills her and it causes her to come back as a zombie.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • East Lynne: Well, ok, you're stuck in a stale marriage to a boring prig of a husband, and the house is dominated by your monstrous bitch of a sister-in-law. How about getting thrown out of your house and forbidden to ever see your toddler son again, when your husband is incorrectly told that you cheated on him? If that's bad, then how about being humiliated when the lover you've taken up with is revealed to be a French spy? Oh, is that bad? Then what about being stuck during the 1871 siege of Paris, starving? Or then going blind after being caught in an artillery bombardment? Or how about falling off a cliff to your death?
  • Lacey in The Escapist. Imagine that first you’re forced to parade naked to your cell while hundreds of convicts leer at you, and then you’re stalked by the untouchable brother of the prison kingpin, and the guards actually herd you into an area to be raped by the aforementioned brother. And then imagine that after all of this you wake up in your cell later on only to find said rapist on top of you about to do it again. You then snap and and kill him and as a result become a near-catatonic suicidal mess.
  • A Good Woman Is Hard To Find: Sarah is a widow starting out, mourning the death of her husband (who had been murdered) and struggling along with their two kids. Then she's coerced into hosting a thief and also becoming a partner in crime to him. She's forced to kill him in self defense, then dispose of his body afterward. It doesn't end there though, since the drug dealer whom he stole from goes after her to find his drugs. She's forced to kill the guy and his thugs too, so she can live, along with her kids.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Jason's Lyric, the main protagonist, Jason, witnessed his used-to-be-loving father, Maddog, turned abusive ever since coming home from Vietnam War as a veteran and lost his leg that he accidentally killed him when trying to stop his old man from potentially killing him and his mother. As adults, his younger brother, Joshua, becomes volatile and criminal-minded, but he has to put up with him as he feels guilty for killing their dad in front of him and to look out for him. When he could eventually bring himself to walk away from Joshua while carrying the unconscious Lyric after his brother (accidentally) shot her out of jealousy, Joshua decides to shoot himself out of despair. Thus, he must lose another family member to a gunshot (again).
  • Johnny Belinda: Your mother dies in childbirth. You go deaf and mute due to an illness shortly thereafter. You get raped. Your father falls off a cliff and dies. The town tries to get your baby from you. You have to shoot your rapist to keep him from stealing your baby, and kill him. Then you're tried for his murder.
  • Lex and Tim in Jurassic Park. Let's see, their parents are having a rocky relationship, so their grandpa, Hammond, invites them to Jurassic Park to get away from the fighting. Expecting a fun time there, they arrive only to find that Grant doesn't like them (at first); the T. rex breaks out and nearly eats them, while Gennaro leaves them; Tim, trapped in a car, is pushed down into a tree; Lex is traumatized after Gennaro left them; Grant saves Tim from the tree but they have to out-climb the falling car; they then have to outrun more dinosaurs; Tim gets shocked by the fence as his sister watches in tears; once they make it to a building and finally eat something on their own, two Velociraptors show up and try to hunt them down; and by the end of the movie, they're both physically a mess.
  • 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.
  • M3GAN: Over the course of the movie, Cady loses her parents, gets attacked by a dog, gets bullied at school, gets attached to M3GAN, has M3GAN taken away, finds out M3GAN has killed people, watches M3GAN almost kill her aunt, and almost gets killed herself.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor suffers through this later on in the MCU, and even from the beginning too to a lesser extent. Taken together, Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War are just one long parade of suck for the guy.
      • In his debut movie, Thor's beloved younger brother Loki betrays and tries to murder him, and then seemingly dies, only to discover in The Avengers that Loki is alive but has made a full Face–Heel Turn. He then has to fight his brother to save Earth, and is also Forced to Watch said brother kill his friend Phil Coulson as the latter tries to save Thor from him. And then in Thor: The Dark World, his mother Frigga is murdered, and Loki is once again apparently killed while saving Thor's life. And all of this is before we get to Thor: Ragnarok.
      • 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.
      • By Thor: Love and Thunder, even after going through some healing by getting back into shape and getting closure with Frigga in Endgame, the trauma has taken such a toll on Thor that he's become almost empty inside and lost in life, keeping people at arm's length to avoid being hurt by loss anymore. He learns to move past this thanks to advice from Star-Lord and rekindles his relationship with Jane Foster, but ultimately loses her too at the end of the movie when she succumbs to cancer, though this time, he's at least able to deal with it in a more healthy way than his previous losses and accept her death, and ends up adopting Love, finally able to start healing for real.
    • Several of the traumatic things that Thor went through also happened to Loki, with a few additional things:
      • In Thor, Loki accidentally discovers that he is adopted and the biological son of the king of Jotunheim, Asgard's arch enemy. The discovery leads him to despair and eventually to a suicide attempt.
      • In Thor: The Dark World, after the events of The Avengers, he is sentenced to a lifetime in prison (that is in his case, 5000 years) and is forbidden from ever seeing his mother again. A year later, when his mother is killed, he is not allowed to attend her funeral. On top of that, her death might be partially his fault, something that causes him great grief. He manages to avenge her and usurps the throne from his father, something that he thought he ever wanted.
      • However, four years later in Thor: Ragnarok, Thor discovers his charade. The brothers go looking for their father, find him in Norway, and Loki is confronted with the consequences of his actions as Odin dies after acknowledging Loki as his son and telling both his sons that he loves them.
    • Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch's life seems to get worse in every film she appears. WandaVision puts the spotlight on how much she's gone through, and on the consequences that have come with it (she's showing signs of clinical depression, and is actively retreating into delusions instead of reality):
      • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Wanda and Pietro's parents were killed when they were kids by a Stark Industries missile while watching The Dick Van Dyke Show. Another one landed in her house, and she and her brother Pietro were trapped there for two days waiting for it to go off. Orphaned, in a failed state, she and Pietro struggled to survive until they fell in with HYDRA. In terms of the actual events of the movie, the twins join up with Ultron, who seems to genuinely care about them. However, Ultron's also insane, and when they try to stop him from ending the world, Pietro gets killed while Wanda only survives thanks to Vision saving her.
      • Captain America: Civil War: Wanda tries to stop a suicide bomber in Lagos and accidentally blows up an office block, leaving her distraught and guilty. The UN use her mishap as an excuse to enact the Sokovia Accords, causing infighting that leads to the dissolution of the Avengers, so she gets that on her conscience too. Tony Stark confines her to the Avengers compound. While Hawkeye breaks her out of the house arrest to help Cap out in Germany, she and the rest of Team Cap save for Cap and Bucky get arrested at the end of the airport battle and sent to the Raft. She gets put in a tiny cell with a straight-jacket and power-dampener, and spends the rest of the movie staring listlessly at the wall until Cap breaks his teammates out at the end.
      • Avengers: Infinity War: Wanda and Vision fall in love. Since she's still a fugitive, they can only meet a few days at a time, but they make it work. However, Thanos and his minions want to kill Vision for the Mind Stone in his head. When there's no other way of keeping it away from Thanos, Wanda is forced to kill Vision herself (at his request). This takes about a minute, so Vision dies slowly, and after it's done...Thanos uses the Time Stone to put the Mind Stone back together. He rips the Stone out of Vision's skull, and Wanda is Forced to Watch. Wanda is then dusted when the Snap occurs, still crying over Vision's body.
      • WandaVision: After Wanda is un-dusted, she goes to SWORD headquarters to claim Vision's body, and discovers him being picked apart by SWORD. She scans Vision's mind, realizes that unlike almost everyone else he is permanently dead, and asks SWORD director Tyler Hayward for his body so she can bury him, and gets refused. The final straw is discovering Vision had bought them a house so they could grow old together in the suburbs, and with both of them dead, they hadn't even finished building it. Wanda snaps, and creates a sitcom reality encompassing the whole of Westview.
    • Peter Parker, true to his comic self, goes through quite a lot of hell over the course of his superhero career:
      • In Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter's attempts to join the Avengers and prove himself to his mentor/father figure Tony Stark end with him almost sinking a ferry boat on accident. He attempts to adjust to a normal life and be happy with his girlfriend Liz until he finds out that her father is the criminal he's looking for and he ends up having to put him behind bars, ending his relationship with Liz permanently.
      • In Avengers: Infinity War, Peter gets in over his head when he tags along with Tony Stark to fight a Galactic Conqueror hellbent on wiping out half of the lives in the universe on an alien planet. He ends up getting a drawn-out death, pleading with his mentor that he's afraid to die even as he knows that it is inevitable before crumbling to dust. By the time he finally returns to life, he lost five years of his life and has to witness his mentor/father figure dying right before his eyes with nothing he could do to save him.
      • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Peter's Horrible Judge of Character ends with Mysterio completely ruining his life by outing his real identity to the world and framing him for Mysterio's terrorist acts, turning him fully into Hero with Bad Publicity.
      • And finally in Spider-Man: No Way Home (which happens immediately after Far From Home), Peter botching Doctor Strange's ritual to make the world forget that he is Spider-Man unleashes five supervillains from the multiverse into his own. Despite this, Peter believes that he could turn these villains back to the side of good and attempts to cure them of their afflictions that made them supervillains, which backfires horribly when Green Goblin goes rogue and murders Aunt May, his last remaining relative. Finally, Peter has to make a decision to have Doctor Strange make everyone forget that he even exists, including Ned and MJ - his best friend and girlfriend respectively, to prevent a multiversal crisis from happening. The movie ends with Peter completely alone with nobody he could turn to, and have to basically start his own life over from zero. Whew!
    • Shuri in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever goes through this after losing her father in Captain America: Civil War, she loses her brother after he dies from an unknown illness before Shuri has the opportunity to come up with a cure and finally her mother drowns after Namor attacks Wakanda, leaving her the solo surviving member of the royal family and completely broken.
  • 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.
  • Jesus has an increasingly rough day in The Passion of the Christ.
  • Bootstrap 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.
  • Piggy (2022): Sara, an overweight teen, goes for a swim. A trio of mean girls start making fun of her and calling her Piggy. Two of them nearly drown her with the pool skimmer. When they are done, they take her clothes and belongings, so Sara has to return home wearing only a bathing suit. On top of that, two teenage boys drive by, harassing her verbally and physically.
  • 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.
  • Every major character in The Reflecting Skin experiences a trauma conga line. The main character, Seth, is water cured by his mother as a punishment for the smallest things. Then he finds his friend's body floating in the family well. And that's only the beginning.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Santas 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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 hits the Despair Event Horizon, curled up in a fetal position in his room and freaking out about the whale just outside. He's also become more of a Knight in Sour Armor, 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."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Book of Job (from The Bible). Starting as one of the wealthiest man in his society, Job loses all his wealth, his children and his health in quick succession. To make things worse, his remaining friends decide to blame Job for his misfortune (under the incorrect premise that every bad experience is a direct punishment of a past sin). This causes him to briefly Rage Against the Heavens as he try to defend his innocence before his "friends", although he eventually regains his faith, and gets his wealth doubled.
  • Classical Mythology:
    • There's nothing that ever seems to go right for Cassandra. 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. She does end up being allowed into the Elysian Fields, because of her piety.
    • Dionysus' 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.
    • Poor Odysseus is possibly the most famous victim of this accross all media and a Trope Codifier. In the 10 years it takes for the man to reach his home of Ithaca after leaving Troy, Odysseus is put through so much shit that by the time he finally gets home to see the suitors lining up to steal his wife there is no wonder the man snaps. He in summary: Is forced to flee for his life after (depending on source) King Agamemnon forces him to kill the infant son of Prince Hector - summoning the ire of all of Troy's allies, on his way back has his men drugged and is faced with mutiny when trying to retrieve them, is imprisoned by a Cyclops and forced to watch as one by one his 12 companions get their brains smashed against the rocks, is set free only to be antagonized by the god of the sea himself, finally finds help from wind god Aeolus only to have his men piss him off as well - setting their journey back to square zero right when they were about to dock on Ithaca, sees all except one of his ships eaten by sea giants, has his men transformed to pigs by a sorceress and has to sleep with her under threat of death, finds his friends and mother (all except a couple alive when he left) dead in Hades, is tortured by Sirens (though this was his own fault, really), once again has a sea beast eating his men, is trapped and starved for a month on a desolate island, has the remainder of his starving crew mutineer against him by adding Zeus and Helios to the roster of gods wishing hell upon him, is left the Sole Survivor when Zeus subsequently strikes their ship, is saved from the brink of death by goddess Calypso only to be imprisoned and raped every night for so many years even Zeus starts to feel sorry for him, upon release has Poseidon send him back to Carybdis to drown, miraculously survives this event and is saved by Phaecians only to have Poseidon turn his saviors to stone as soon as they head back home, has his dog die at his feet upon homecoming, returns to his palace to find the subjects he once treated as his own sons abuse his wife and hospitality in his absence, is hurt and humiliated ceaselessly for the next few days, has Athena force him to kill men he would otherwise spare when ridding himself of the suitors, and finally - in the impopular sequel - gets killed by his own Child by Rape in an extremely embarassing fashion.

  • 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.
  • Malevolent gives us Arthur Lester, who before the series even starts had already lost both his parents to suicide as a child, had his wife die in childbirth, and was responsible for his daughter's death due to his own negligence. Then the series proper starts with him loosing his eyesight, his partner and best friend being killed, and now having a mysterious entity in his head telling him what he sees and what to do, oh but it doesn't end there. In season 1 alone he is assaulted by the building manager for his office, is forced to run blind through the woods while being chased by some sort of madwoman, is kidnapped and almost killed by a madman, spends a little over a month in a coma, barely escapes a monstrous former-human lurking deep within the earth, almost dies of multiple gunshot wounds, almost has his body stolen by an outer god, and finally flung into a strange and dangerous world known as The Dreamlands. Seasons 2 and 3 haven't been any easier for him.
  • The Penumbra Podcast: Peter Nureyev – Season 1 hurt him enough, but a series of later revelations in Season 4 take this almost to the point of parody. He grows up as a homeless, starving orphan in an active war zone. As a teenager, he's taken in by a manipulative terrorist who he's later forced to kill to stop him from blowing up an entire city. Nureyev spends the better part of a year running from the law and losing his grip on reality; just before he's able to commit suicide, he runs into a drug dealer from his old street gang who offers him protection and a place to stay, and they fall in love. His partner is able to smuggle him off-planet - by putting him into an induced coma that nearly kills him and takes him months to recover from. They're happy... for about two months, until a game of cards at a casino goes wrong, and the other players (a group of executives at a pharmaceutical company) track him and his partner down to exact revenge. As an interrogation technique, they dose Nureyev with a futuristic hallucinogen that traps him in a dream where he spends years living with his partner - only to wake up and realize it was all a lie, and his partner, who was already high before the executives dosed him, has overdosed and is now legally brain-dead. Desperate, Nureyev agrees to pay for an array of experimental medical procedures that will keep his partner alive and fund the pharmaceutical company's research towards a way to restore his brain function... and he's spent the last twenty years alone, devoting his entire life to working off that staggering debt.


    Recorded Comedy 
  • 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".

    Tabletop Games 
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Even the God-Emperor of Mankind goes through this; 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.
      • So Armageddon finally gets a break after all this? Yeah right; a few centuries later the biggest ork WAAAGH! in the history of the Imperium comes crashing into the planet, led by a warlord who fancies himself a prophet of the ork gods and has enough intelligence to run rings around the human defenders. While the Space Marines and Imperial Guard are far more united against Ghazghkull Thraka than they were against the forces of Chaos in the First War, the Second and Third Wars for Armageddon prove to be just as big of meatgrinders as before, and unlike in the First the humans don't get the satisfaction of banishing their enemy- Ghazghkull eventually gets bored and leaves his WAAAGH! to go start another one on the other side of the galaxy, meaning Armageddon still remains an ork-infested warzone to this day. And then the forces of Chaos come back...

  • Julie Jordan in Carousel just can't seem to catch a break. She falls in love with and marries Billy, a carousel barker, but he ends up being abusive towards her and cannot support their growing family as he is unemployed. When Billy gets involved in a robbery gone wrong she witnesses him stab himself to death, leaving Julie to have to raise their unborn daughter as a single parent, a virtually impossible task for an impoverished woman in the mid-19th century.
    • Billy himself goes through this throughout the play. He struggles with being the breadwinner for his family, something that would be considered very shameful in the 19th century. His main options are going back to being a carousel barker, which would mean having to abandon Julie, or getting involved in a robbery scheme. He chooses the robbery, but it goes poorly and he is Driven to Suicide. Once he's dead, he is told he will not be considered good enough to enter Heaven unless he helps his daughter from beyond the grave. He then has to witness his daughter be bullied by the town for his wifebeater reputation and his suicide leaving his family impoverished.
  • Overlapping with Real Life, Empress Elisabeth of Austria underwent this. Thanks to her Arranged Marriage to her first cousin Franz Joseph, she was subjected to intense scrutiny from the court, the public, and her mother-in-law Archduchess Sophie. Sisi attempted to fight back to gain a foothold at court, only to accidentally cause the death of her oldest daughter and the illness of the second one. Then her husband cheated on her and infected her with an STD. Although it was because she was ignoring him, and he regretted it, the damage was done. note  Her refusal to intercede on Rudolf's behalf was the last straw. He shot and killed himself, along with one of his lovers. note  Sisi also lost her sisters (Hélène/Néné died of stomach cancer and Sophie in an accidental fire), her brother-in-law (Maximilian of Mexico, shot by revolutionaries), and her beloved cousin Ludwig II of Bavaria (to madness and drowning). The broken-hearted Elisabeth wandered the world until she was murdered by Luigi Lucheni, an anarchist, and the Interactive Narrator of the show.
    • Her son Rudolf also went through this. A sickly boy considered weak by his soldierly father, he was rescued from the harsh "tutoring" his grandmother ordered note  by his mother. Wrapped up in her trauma, Elisabeth abandoned Rudolf as soon as his education (and therefore her duty to him) ended. He wound up trapped in an Arranged Marriage, dissatisfied with the restrictions on his life at court (his many titles did not come with actual power), and desperately wanting love and acceptance from parents — his mother, particularly — who were distant at best and forbidding at worst towards him. The Japanese productions added a Dream Sequence in which Rudolf is crowned King of Hungary by a smiling Elisabeth, leading to Rudolf being caught at a demonstration and threatened with disinheritment. He was eventually Driven to Suicide, as mentioned above.
  • The story of Eurydice and Orpheus in Hadestown. Eurydice is a poor girl who falls in love with a poor boy, Orpheus. However, one can't live off of love alone, and to quell her hunger Eurydice accepts Hades's offer to come work for him in Hadestown. She almost immediately regrets her decision, and luckily for her Orpheus convinces Hades to let him try to get her back from the Underworld. Unluckily for her, the attempt falls through when he looks back for a split-second, and Eurydice is doomed to be separated from Orpheus in Hadestown forevermore.
  • Hamilton:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Miss Saigon: Kim's life is this. 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.
  • Elphaba in Wicked goes through this. Her being born green terrifies her parents so much that her mother chews milk flowers to keep her next child from having the same condition. This sadly only results in Elphaba's younger sister Nessarose being born paraplegic and her mother experiencing Death by Childbirth, both of which her father explicitly lets her know he blames her for. She is treated as an outcast by her peers in school for being green, but does manage to form a bond with her Animal professor Dr. Dillamond. Unfortunately, he disappears. Elphaba shows talent in sorcery and is invited to meet the Wizard, her biggest dream in life, but when she does she finds out he is the one who has been disappearing Dr. Dillamond and other Animals in Oz and she disavows him, which makes her Oz's Public Enemy Number One. Her sister dies in a freak accident, and her oldest friend actually helps out the girl who accidentally killed Nessa. She believes she is responsible for the death of her true love Fiyero, which officially sets off her Heroic BSoD. While Fiyero didn't actually die and they manage to run off together, it's at the cost of having to fake her own death and never see her oldest friend, Glinda, ever again. It's not easy being green!
  • 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.

    Web Animation 
  • 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.
  • Helluva Boss: The entirety of "The Harvest Moon Festival" is one traumatic event after another for Moxxie. He has to deal with Millie's parents (who hate his guts), watch as the much more talented Striker upstages him, gets kicked around during the festival's competitions, fails to stop Striker after learning what he's up to, gets thrown in a basement, and finally gets a door slammed in his face by Loona just as he's about to get the upper hand over Striker.
  • Manga Soprano: In "On the eve of the wedding, my fiancée was snatched away by a bratty junior colleague..." Ram caught her fiancé Kinoshita-kun dating Shiho in the street at night. She tried to hold her accountable the next day, but Shiho gloated about the deed, causing Ram to grab her right as Kinoshita-kun arrives and takes Shiho's side. Moreover, the cheating couple spread rumors about Ram being a violent bully who wanted to steal Kinoshita-kun from Shiho. When Ram tried to hold her accountable for all of that, she was lambasted by Kinoshita-kun once again. Moreover, Shiho provoked Ram into violence to get the latter isolated and eventually transferred to a subsidiary.
  • Revenge Films:
    • "I got suspected of an affair I didn't have, everyone abandoned me, and I got mentally ill": Ms. Stan was falsely accused of having an affair by Ms. Anderson, and it started going downhill from there: she was forced to resign from her job, became a pariah in her neighborhood, and her parents disowned her for the alleged affair. While she managed to get into college and graduate, it did nothing to alleviate her problems, and had to live in a shabby apartment. However, she is visited by Ms. Anderson and her lawyer, who finds out she didn't look like the woman in the pictures she stored as evidence. Turns out the woman was Ms. Stan's sister-in-law, who tricked her into participating in her affair.
    • "My best friend stole my girlfriend, so I decided to reset my life...": The OP was betrayed by his long-time friend Jack, who stole the former's girlfriend Jill. Furthermore, Jack created a false narrative about how OP was beating and abusing Jill while Jack saved her, destroying his reputation. To top it off, Jack had OP's salary cut off since he was single again, leading him to quit his job and become suicidal until the president of his company transferred him to a well-paying branch.
  • Red vs. Blue: Before Season 9, few would guess that Agent Washington was anything but a stone-cold, die-hard badass. The more we see of him pre-Epsilon unit, though, the more it seems like he was a Wide-Eyed Idealist he was broken beyond repair between seasons. Then one realizes the breaking kept going even after the Epsilon breakdown and he hid every bit of it. For the rest of his Freelancer career he was hated by most every other Agent in the Project, was forced to harvest equipment/AI Fragments from their corpses after they died along with destroying both their body and armor so that it doesn't fall into the wrong hands, and kept working for a Project he hated more than anything. Then, he had to brutally fight his former best friend on multiple occasions (eventually leading to that friend's death), randomly found a dead friend—who he thought died many years before in a completely different place, and is constantly betrayed by nearly everyone he knows. If there's one thing that goes with Wash, it's tragedy.
  • 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.

  • The 3 Little Princesses: All three of the main trio have gone through one, usually at the (unwitting) hands of the other two.
    • The entire sleepover is just one long one for poor Rosalina, who gets teased for her dilated eye, blinded because of light hitting said eye, accidentally eats cement mix, is forced into driving a poorly-maintained go-kart, crashes through wall in said kart, gets launched through the air and crashes through a wall again, and is forced into participating in a drinking game that ends up giving her a migraine. Then she finds out that Peach had the cosmic duct tape she needed the whole time...
    • Daisy gets put through one at the beginning of Part 2, after finding out that Peach has been spending all of her time with Rosalina. She goes throughout the Mushroom Kingdom and then throughout other video game realms looking for someone to be her friend with no success. Also, multiple people forget her name.
    • Classic Daisy's return puts Peach through one much longer than Daisy's. She gets attacked by a Cataquack at her beach while trying to charm everyone, she's forced to pay Bowser's astronomically high bill after he runs away and she gets pounced on by a Chain Chomp, all while Daisy garners the attention from everyone around them. This ultimately leads to Peach hijacking the Star Rod to return Daisy to normal.
  • 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 an incubus 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!
  • Girl Genius: Airman Third Class Axel Higgs is a Zen Survivor:
    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 .
  • Great: "Lousy" doesn't even begin to describe the main character's introduction. It appears that he gets better.
  • 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.
  • 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 Guys 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.
  • Oh God, Scootaloo in Motherly Scootaloo. The story starts off with her having a Teenage Pregnancy. 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.
  • 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. Iron Woobie, so far. But when he sees the result of the Familicide he had cast earlier, it turns into a Despair Event Horizon (spoiler warning!). As a result of the Deal with the Devil, the fiends will take over his soul for a time.
  • Shot and Chaser: Olly got badly injured at work, had the corperation he worked for deny his worker's comp calim, and was then laid off. Losing the use of one arm the COVID-19 Pandemic have combinded to prevent him from finding a new job to pay off his his mounting hospital bills while he's fallen two months behind on his rent, with his landlord delivering a letter saying he'll have to evict him if he doesn't come up with the money. On top of all this he's been isolated since his sister's husband works at a hospital and they're doing everything they can to avoid contamination with a new baby and his SO has been busy making ends meet of his own with them going weeks without seeing each other in person.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • 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, there's 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 doesn't 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.
  • The events of the Dream SMP put most of the cast through the wringer in one way or another, which Ranboo lampshades in a moment of Black Comedy. Among many other characters:
    • Wilbur Soot, a songwriter and Non-Action Guy who initially believed in pacifism and fighting with words as opposed to violence, and created the nation of L'Manburg as a physical representation of his beliefs and ideals. However, during the War for Independence, he found himself in the role of a general and was betrayed by his war comrade, Eret, in the Final Control Room, where he, his two teenage friends, and his son were mercilessly slaughtered, and only won the war thanks to Tommy giving up his prized discs Cat and Mellohi to Dream, the leader of the Greater SMP.Context  After the revolution, his naivety became shattered, triggering the beginning of his mental spiral and paranoia, which he hid how badly it affected him in front of others during his presidency. Eventually, after holding a democratic election for L'Manburg, Jschlatt won unexpectedly and immediately revoked his and Tommy's citizenship, prompting them to Run or Die... which was how he lost his second canon life, after he was shot in the back on Schlatt's orders. After being exiled to Pogtopia, Wilbur became even more disillusioned and believes that the values that he founded L'Manburg on no longer existed, and begins to plot to blow up the country to kingdom come, while taking his own life through the explosion. When that plan ultimately fails as he detonates the country in the Manburg-Pogtopia War, as his father, Philza, tries to talk him down and protect him, he ends up begging his father to end his life, to which he reluctantly complies. Despite this, not even death is the end of the road for him, as he spends what felt like thirteen and a half years in the Afterlife (taking the form of a train station platform that he couldn't leave) before being brought Back from the Dead... and although he evidently does not want to return to the Afterlife, he still retains the delusional worldview about good and evil he developed during the Pogtopia arc.
    • Tommy also gets this really badly, as most of Season 2 is one to him in general, with the sheer amount of emotional abuse heaped onto him during his exile and everything else that happened, as well as the events of Season 1 and the first half of Season 3. From being betrayed over and over, to watching his country, L'Manburg, be blown up no less than three times; watching Wilbur, whom he idolized, slowly fall into a mental spiral, blow up their country, and then get killed by his father (as mentioned above); getting murdered by the person that kept him under tyranny twice in the L'Manburg War for Independence, and then get manipulated and driven into a suicidal state by the same guy while in exile; watching his best friend, Tubbo, be publicly executed by his then-ally, Technoblade, and almost watching him sacrifice himself; being exiled and getting so lonely and depressed that he stopped caring about himself altogether, stopped eating and sleeping properly; just when it seems things were starting to look up for him, Tommy is then locked in a jail cell with his abuser for an entire week, surrounded by things that remind him of his time in exile, killed again after being brutally beaten by Dream, costing him his last life, spent two days in the afterlife with Wilbur, except for Tommy it felt like two months had passed, and then suddenly revived by Dream, not only having to deal with Sensory Overload but more torment from his abuser. All of this when he was 16. Fortunately for him, unlike many others on the server, he appears to be making a recovery to become an Iron Woobie.
    • Quackity, another ex-idealist on the SMP, also went through one that ironically began on what should have been start of only good things for him. Quackity had accomplished his goal of winning the L'Manburg Election, but he was only able to do so by teaming up with Schlatt. That one action ended up up costing him any influence he would've had as Vice President and started this chain of misfortunate events. During his entire tenure, Quackity was powerless and abused by his fiancé, was forced to watch Tubbo be executed right in front of him, saw a build that meant so much to him (the White House) torn down without remorse and was mocked for caring about it, fought in a war and failed to stop his friend Wilbur from blowing up L'Manburg, and shortly afterward, Wilbur would lose his final life. In the following two seasons, he was unable to prevent Dream from pressuring Tubbo into exiling his friend Tommy, failed to kill Technoblade in an attempt to get revenge for traumatizing him and his country and instead got killed by him, was powerless to defend New L'Manberg from Dream, Technoblade, and Philza during the Doomsday War, watched his good friend BadBoyHalo get corrupted by a supernatural force, would lose another friend when Tommy was killed by Dream in prison, and was seemingly abandoned by his best friend and fiancés (different from the abusive one, he died in Season 1) — the only three people he felt like he could trust and one of the few positive aspects of his life. This ends up driving him to his breaking point, to the point that he, much like Wilbur, becomes utterly disillusioned with pacifism and "words over weapons" and stops seeing the good in people altogether, and decides to make his issues the whole server's problem by manipulating people left and right using copious amounts of Psychological Projection, with the knowledge that if Las Nevadas, his gambling nation failed, then he would have lost everything and would "die along with" the country. The first episode of "Las Nevadas" even lampshades how awful Quackity's life has been since that fateful day by playing audio of what sounds like Schlatt and Quackity making their deal during the election over a cynical take on the quote "May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future".

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 succubus? 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.
  • While, in Worm, nothing ever seems to go right for Skitter for very long, the Dallon sisters have a much more notable series of unfortunate events. Right from the get go, they're raised with the understanding that being a superhero, despite all the hazards and trauma that entails, was the only way they'd ever be loved. Both Amy, the scapegoat, and Victoria, the golden child, are deeply traumatized by their upbringing, and the damage their family's worldview inflicted on them are instrumental in making sure that when things start going very downhill, they don't really have any effective coping mechanisms. Things only get worse in the sequel.

    Western Animation 
  • Invoked in the American Dad! episode "Dope and Faith". Stan's new friend is like him in every way, with the exception of being an atheist. To win him round, Stan reasons that "people turn to God when their lives are in shambles", and unleashes a series of escalating tragedies on Brett, from blowing up his house, to putting his restaurant out of business by poisoning all the customers, to brainwashing his wife into thinking she's a lesbian so she'll leave him. Things don't quite go as planned when Brett jumps off a building in response and then is barred from entering Heaven because he attempted suicide and gets sent to Hell instead. Once there Brett meets Satan, who teaches him heavy metal, gives him a guitar and sends him back to the living to spread his message as a Satanist.
  • Arcane: Vi has one of the worst days possible. First she witnesses Benzo get horribly mutilated and her adoptive father Vander get kidnapped. When she leads her fellow street kids Mylo and Claggor who were also adopted by Vander into rescuing him, they fall into Silco's trap and she has to fight a dozen of his goons. Then her younger sister Powder causes an explosion that causes the death of Mylo and Claggor. Vander dies in front of her eyes, expending what was left of his energy to rescue her from the burning building. When Powder excitedly runs in to brag about the explosion working, Vi explodes at her, striking her hard enough to draw blood and condemning her as The Jinx. Horrified at herself for hurting her beloved sister, she stumbles off into the night to get some distance, leaving a weeping Powder begging her not to go. Vi barely has a chance to start crying after all this trauma when Silco appears near Powder but before Vi can save her, she's sedated and arrested, leaving her uncertain on the fate of the last living member of her family and the knowledge that even if Powder survives, she'll always think Vi did actually abandon her.
  • 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 show’s 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 Heel–Face Turn, after they’ve 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 Avatar’s 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.
  • Beast Wars: Poor Waspinator! Almost every episode, he is blown to bits, killed, or badly injured, just to come back the next one.
  • None of the characters on BoJack Horseman have it easy, but Beatrice Horseman takes the cake for this trope. Her brother died in World War II. Her mother was overcome by grief and then lobotomized for it, and her father threatened to do the same to her if she was too emotional. When she got scarlet fever, he burned all her things, including her beloved baby doll. Her fling with Butterscotch Horseman got her pregnant with his child, and they got married without thinking through the consequences. As a result, she was trapped in a loveless marriage and saw her son BoJack as the thing that ruined her life. Then Butterscotch cheated on her. At the end of her life, she developed dementia, and her son leaves her in the worst nursing home he can find.
  • Vlad Masters of Danny Phantom suffered a horrific one in the "Ultimate Enemy" Bad Future. The love of his life and his "best friend" both die in a horrible accident, leaving behind their son Danny (his former Arch-Enemy) who he takes in out of pity. Danny, blaming himself, asks Vlad to depower him only for Danny's ghost half to go rogue, remove & absorb Vlad's ghost half, and murder human Danny right in front of him. After seeing his one act of altruism lead to The End of the World as We Know It, future Vlad went into self-imposed exile a broken man, finally realizing the error of his evil ways.
  • 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.
  • Gravity Falls: Stan Pines went through bullying as a child, toughened up with boxing lessons, lost his high school sweetheart to a musician, disowned by his father and kicked out for an accident, was homeless for much of his twenties, got into illegal activities that resulted in imprisonment in three countries and banned from multiple states, was estranged from his brother Ford and went they met again, the brothers got into massive a fight that resulted in the latter's disappearance for thirty years, had to fake his own death and take over his brother's home to survive, lie to his family, including Dipper, Mabel, and their parents, and spent years working on the portal to bring his brother back. When he finally does, Ford is angry with him and things are still tense between them until the Grand Finale. Not to mention that he constantly worries for the twins' safety and struggles to bond with them at times. And he has a cruddy love life on top of everything.
  • Hilda: The titular character goes through the wringer and then some during the last five episodes of the first season. She has a heated falling out with one of her friends, discovers her idol to be a morally bankrupt fraud, narrowly avoids certain doom only to get stranded in the wilderness and subsequently held hostage by a Forest Giant and a sentient cabin, learns that aforementioned friend has ditched her for an older girl who turns out to be affiliated with an enemy of theirs, gets in trouble with her mother when her initial efforts to help a Nisse end in disaster, and fears what her mother will think once she learns she hasn't actually managed to earn any badges.
  • 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 Sato 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.
  • 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. The Doomstar Requiem shows that he's indeed still alive, and barely holding on to his sanity by going back to his Happy Place: the day he first auditioned for and then joined Dethklok.
  • 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.
  • Phineas and Ferb: Virtually all of Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz's "inators" seem to be connected to a part of his childhood. Put them together and it's clear his past is dreadful.
  • 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 a 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 up 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.
  • South Park:
  • Steven Universe presents two major examples of this:
    • Lapis Lazuli. 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".
    • It is eventually revealed that the entirety of Steven Universe fiction has been about a realistic look at the eventual physical and mental outcomes of repeated trauma, with Steven Quartz Universe himself as the most thorough example. In the Steven Universe: Future episode "Growing Pains", Dr. Priyanka Maheswaran asks Steven if he remembers anything "bad in [his] childhood that particularly stuck with [him]", and his response is to begin to recap the events of the original series, mentioning how he "...kind of freaked out when they canceled my favorite ice cream" and continuing with an absurdly long list of the legitimately terrifying things he experienced, including body horror, near-death situations, watching other people die, and abduction by fascist enforcers, before being interrupted. When Dr. Maheswaran is understandably aghast at this, Steven responds with "But— that was just the early stuff!" against the visual backdrop of dozens of other scenes of physical and psychological threats. The reason Dr. Maheswaran is examining him at all is because Steven has begun to experience gem-powered physical swelling as a result of his PTSD; the nightmarish circumstances of his youth have been catching up with him and have combined with recent loss of emotional support, so his emotionally-influenced powers are going out of control, and his body can't hold all of his stress at its usual size.
  • Total Drama: Poor Gwen always seems to be constantly given the short end of the stick no matter how hard she tries. First she's humiliated by Heather reading her diary aloud to the world near the beginning of season one. Then she makes it to the final two of the season only to lose at the last minute. She ends up having a falling out in her relationships with both Trent and Duncan, leading directly to her returning to the show in the fourth season in hopes of patching up her friendship with Courtney only to have the latter betray her. And that's not even counting all the torture Chris and Chef put her through in the main show.

    Real Life 
  • James Holmes, a humble train signalman from Yorkshire, England. On November 1st, 1892, his infant daughter Rose became extremely ill. Holmes did everything he could to make the situation easier on his family, up to and including walking miles out of his way to find a doctor. Unfortunately, said doctor was busy with another patient, and Rose died. He was then forced to go to work after staying up for 36 hours straight, even after telling the stationmaster that he couldn't work his shift — the higher-ups were unable to find someone to fill in for Holmes in time. As a result, Holmes fell asleep during his shift, inadvertently causing a deadly rail crash that killed 10 people and injured 43 others. He was found guilty of manslaughter, albeit without serving a day in jail on account of what had happened.
  • The surviving crew of USS Indianapolis (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 an undeclared Japanese border war with the Soviet Union. During the fighting Yang was captured by the Red Army and conscripted to fight for the USSR. Yang was transported to the Eastern Front where he was captured by the Wehrmacht. He was forcibly conscripted once again. The Germans sent Yang to fight at Normandy where he was captured once again by the American army.
  • The life of folk musician Jackson C. Frank was a long conga line to the very end. 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 duPont) 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. In the '70s, Frank's son died of cystic fibrosis, deepening his depression and resulting in a stay at a mental institution. In the '80s, he traveled to New York in an attempt to find his friend Paul Simon, but failed and ended up homeless. At this point, he regularly went in and out of mental institutions. In the early '90s, 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 federal government gives a widely-criticized and seriously inadequate response to the disaster, then speculators use the destruction to get rid of homes and schools which were mostly used by the city's poor, then the Saints 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 Saints get 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 a Virginia farm where the First Battle of Bull Run took place. After the Confederates commandeered his house for use as a headquarters, his kitchen was destroyed by a Union cannonball. Afterwards, Wilmer decided to move to protect his family and ply his trade elsewhere as the Union Army made business difficult for him. He moved to a farm near the Appatomattox Courthouse, where Robert E. Lee would officially surrender to Ulysses S. Grant in Wilmer's parlor. After the signing, members of the Union 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, and is widely considered to be the most lucky and unlucky man in modern history due to those circumstances.
  • In 2008, a sixteen-year-old cheerleader from Texas's Silsbee High was sexually assaulted by Rakheem Bolton, a popular basketball player. While Bolton 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, and even continued to allow him to play on the team, while 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 2009 game, she remained silent during Bolton's 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 on the grounds of being a frivolous lawsuit. Her family had been 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.
  • Picture this: 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.
  • British couple 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 a U.S. Park Ranger who had been struck by lightning 7 timesnote , to the point where his hat bore a prominent burn mark. If the lightning wasn't bad enough, many people from hikers and friends to fellow rangers avoided him out of fear of getting struck. He committed suicide over an unrequited love in 1983, aged 71.
    • Special mention goes to strike #7 (June 25, 1977): Sullivan was fishing in a freshwater pond when, after being struck, a friggin' bear tried to steal his fish. What does Roy do? He grabs a stick and HITS THE BEAR, shooing it away. He claimed that this was the 22nd time he HIT A BEAR WITH A STICK!
  • Many generations claim to have suffered from this. Whether subsequent generations have been through worse is up for debate, and usually depends on which generation you’re in:
    • The so called Greatest Generation went through this, having to face The Great Depression and World War 2 back to back. At least they lived to be a part of the post-WWII economic expansion from the late 40s to the early 70s.
    • The silent generation also lived through these two events, but with the added misfortune of said events happening during their childhood and adolescent years. Like with the greatest generation, they also at least got to live through the aforementioned economic expansion during their adult years.
    • Millennials have also suffered from living through The War on Terror, an economic downturn, a sluggish recovery from the aforementioned downturn, rising college costs and debt from said costs, and the COVID-19 pandemic. Only time will tell if things will get better for them.
  • 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 women's lacrosse player by a former boyfriend. 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 controversial incident involving a 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 and wound up a prisoner in the Tower of London. 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 chosen 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.
  • The life of the average Korean Pop Music artist is understood to be this, what with unhealthily restrictive diets, constant sleep deprivation, normalized physical and verbal abuse from higher-ups and the public, stalkers, getting mobbed to the point of injury on a regular basis, being expected to work through all manner of illness and injury (that often result from such an unhealthy lifestyle), low pay, scrutiny from the public for the slightest things, and that's just the things that are commonly discussed. Even among them, NCT 127's Yuta Nakamoto stands out for the severity and length of it, to the point where even his detractors concede he doesn't deserve what happened to him. After migrating from Japan to Korea at 16, leaving behind his family, friends, and a prospective professional soccer career, he endured not only the backbreaking, soul crushing training all K-Pop trainees undergo, he contended with the isolation and homesickness that only being a teenager in a foreign country could inflict on someone. He had to learn a new language in a handful of years with absolutely no help. Also, unlike other Chinese trainees, who could find guidance and camaraderie among one another, there were no Japanese trainees under SM at the time, so he didn't even get that. When he was announced as a new member of a talk show, he was disparaged by viewers who assumed he was a clueless kid lacking the prerequisite knowledge and life experience. He became the single target of a notorious celebrity stalker. He was made to undergo needless cosmetic surgery that was not only painful, but quite conspicuous, leading to widespread scorn from the public, who made a meme out of his different appearance. In 2017, one of his closest friends left the label he was under. In 2018, a serious natural disaster in his hometown, along with no way to contact his loved ones and know if they were alive or dead, left him visibly anxious and distressed. In late 2018, his best friend and surrogate little brother was put in another group under the same label, forcing him to relive losing his closest friend. On top of that, he actively sought out his label, auditioned and trained as a vocalist, so that he'd be able to sing in NCT's music, and despite his obvious talent, is given barely any lines in NCT's discography, something he's openly lamented. He is frighteningly thin, to the point where his ribs are prominent, and fellow members have expressed concern for his extreme weight loss.
  • The seventh century was this for the Byzantine Empire. The century started with a brutal war with the Sassanid Empire that lasted for 26 brutal years that nearly saw the Empire conquered and left it economically and demographically devastated. After six years of peace, the Rashidun Caliphate burst out of the Arabian peninsula and proceeded to utterly devastate the Empire, inflicting crushing defeat after crushing defeat on the Empire's once powerful armies, especially at Yarmouk, causing the loss of Syria, Egypt, Armenia, North Africa, and a fair share of the Medditterean islands, along with parts of Anatolia. A siege of Constantinople that was defeated in 688, (and even then, the siege was more of a loose blockade rather than a genuine investment of the city) saw the Byzantines try to go on the offensive that saw them get utterly smashed at the battle of Sebastapolis in 692. This was then followed by 20 years of civil war that nearly led to the Empire disintegrating. The line only ended when Leo III repelled a far more serious Arab siege of Constantinople in 718, and then managed to win a crushing victory at Akrinion in 740, which ensured the Empire's survival in Europe and Anatolia.
  • In addition to the details mentioned in the Elisabeth entry above, the musical left incidents out of Elisabeth and Rudolf's Trauma Conga Line:
    • Sisi was mourning the death of Count Richard S, a young man she had feelings for, when she met Emperor Franz Joseph.
    • Trauma led Sisi to become paranoid. Doting on her youngest daughter Marie Valerie (referred to as Valerie), she was convinced that the family was divided in half, her and Valerie on one side, and everyone else on the other, who were all out to harm the mother and daughter, especially Rudolf. Valerie recounted in her private writings an incident before Rudolf's death, where she was surprised that her brother — unlike what her mother had always told her — treated her with civility, if not affection.
    • With the exception of Gisela (who he got along with, and was away due to her marriage), everyone in his family treated Rudolf like a ticking time bomb. The militaristic and conservative Franz Joseph disapproved of Rudolf's perceived weakness and liberalism. For the Christmas before he died, Rudolf spent much of his time and effort to acquire some writings of the poet Heinrich Heine, who Sisi adored, as a present for his mother. According to historian Brigitte Hamann, the present was largely ignored. In that same party, the thirty-year-old Crown Prince caused an incident when he threw his arms around his mother and wept. He was suicidal well before that, but the people he confided in decided to spare the royal couple's feelings and kept it secret.
  • Roy Orbison's life definitely counts. He grew up during the lowest point of the Depression, struggled and nearly despaired of making it as a singer due in part to his crippling stage fright, and married a young woman who cheated on him numerous times. They separated and later reconciled, only for her to be killed in a motorcycle accident soon after. Later, while he was on tour in England, he received word that his house had burned down with two of his three children inside. He was all but forgotten during the '70s and '80s. Then, just as he was on the threshold of a comeback in 1988, he died of heart failure at age 52.
  • Edie Sedgwick, one of Andy Warhol's muses. Had a history of mental illness and alcoholism in her family, an abusive father, a mother who let her take diet pills, one brother committed suicide, another died in motorbike crash, her father openly had affair and she claimed she walked in on him in bed with a woman, suffered from anorexia as a teen, parents isolated her and her siblings, allegedly exploited for her money and naivety, hospitalized due to mental illness and died at 28.
  • Sylvia Plath's life was mired in tragedy. She had daddy issues after her father died when she was eight years old, felt overwhelmingly pressured to do well in college because of her scholarships, and was torn apart on the inside from The '50s nigh-mutually exclusive choice between career or family. She had a mental breakdown in the early '50s and failed numerous times to become a published writer (finally succeeding in the early '60s with Ariel and The Bell Jar). Then, in 1962, after her husband, Ted Hughes, who meant worlds to her, left her for another woman, she killed herself.
  • Several Hollywood stars have led notoriously rough lives, but Clara Bow takes the cake. Her parents never bothered with a birth certificate because they wanted her to die at birth. Her grandfather died of a heart attack while he was pushing Clara on a swing, when she was just four. Her best friend, a boy named Johnny, died in her arms when she was nine. Her father had a mental impairment, was rarely home, and when he was, he was physically and emotionally abusive. Her mother also had mental health problems, she thought Clara would be better off dead than an actress, and actually tried to kill her. When she was 15, her father raped her. Later, her studios maliciously went out of their way to humiliate her and degrade her, and she began to suffer breakdowns. Rumors about her sexual behavior were spread about viciously, including the false claim she had group sex with the USC Trojans football team. Eventually she retired from acting, married and had children — later she tried to kill herself, and was diagnosed with schizophrenia.
  • John Reynolds, the actor who played Torgo in Manos: The Hands of Fate. He had an abusive father, which led to him abusing a ton of drugs. By the time he did the film, this had severely affected his mental health, so that when he designed an apparatus that would make it look like his knees were backwards, he ended up wearing it the wrong way, causing him tremendous pain. He ended up killing himself shortly after Manos was finished, and when this was discovered in the wake of the film's use on Mystery Science Theater 3000, he mostly became the butt of jokes that he must have done it from the shame of being in such a horrible film. And if it wasn't that, they were mocking Torgo's bizarre line readings, which Reynolds himself wasn't responsible for; the movie was filmed silent, and he didn't dub his own voice.
  • Doris Day. Her first husband, whom she married at 17, was a wife beater. She wanted to be a dancer, but a car accident put an end to that ambition. Her third husband, Martin Melcher, was described as "a skunk," signed her up to do a TV series without telling her (she only did the series because she needed the money) and left her in debt when he died. She sued her husband's business partner and they fired lawsuits back and forth at each other for several years. Then she married for a fourth time, which ended in divorce. Her only child, Terry Melcher, died in 2004. She once said, "A baby, a husband who really loved me, a home, all the happiness they could bring. I never got that, and that's all I really wanted."
  • Anne Heche, hoo boy. Her family moved quite a lot during her childhood due to financial troubles. She claimed that she was raped by her father from when she was an infant until she was 12 years old, and she gained genital herpes as a result. Not only that, but she believed that he did so because of repressed homosexuality. Said father then died of HIV when she was 13. Three months after that, her 18-year-old brother Nathan died in a car crash, which Heche believed was suicide. Not to mention that this isn't the first sibling death she had to deal with: she had an elder sister who died of brain cancer in 2006, and another sister, Cynthia, who died at two months old due to a heart defect. This only left one other sibling left, Abigail. Anne then had to deal with much heartbreak from former lovers, mental health problems which she claimed left her "insane" for many years in her life, and Harvey Weinstein sexually harrassing her which impacted her film career. All of this turmoil came to a crashing end in August 2022, when an intoxicated Heche drove her car full speed into a house, leading her to suffer a coma due to pulmonary injury as well as smoke inhalation, and eventually dying.
  • Ireland had one during the age of the British rule. They were subjugated and treated as slaves under Elizabethan rule, victims of massacres and deportations during the English Civil War and under Cromwell's regime, and suffered one of the world's biggest famines in the 19th century. When the 20th century rolled around, things went From Bad to Worse — after a long and bloody War of Independence and a Civil War, they realized that no one had a freaking clue how to run a country. The stranglehold of the Catholic Church increased, leading to massive abuse of power, including a ton of sexual abuse; homosexuality being declared illegal; and the horrific Magdalene Laundries where women could be locked away for having children out of wedlock. And Northern Ireland has suffered more terrorist attacks than any other place in the Western world.
  • Before he became famous, Mika had this. He grew up in France with his mother and siblings. When he was still young his father, who was in the army, was held hostage in Beirut during the Gulf War. Though he and his family were safe in Paris, they ran out of money and were forced to escape to the UK. Then, at age nine, he was bullied relentlessly by a sadist teacher and his classmates until he had a mental breakdown which left him mute and unable to read for a while. He had to be homeschooled for six months before being sent to a different school.
  • The Kennedy family is considered a Big, Screwed-Up Family for a very good reason. Assassinations, sex scandals, accidents, medical problems, a botched lobotomy... the misfortunes and tragedies they faced are too much to bear.
    • Bobby Kennedy grew up being The Unfavorite with his father doting on his older siblings Joe Jr., John, and Kathleen. It took years before Joe Sr. started treating him with any respect. And then he was assassinated right when there was a strong possibility that he would be nominated to run for President.
    • Jackie Kennedy had to deal at first with her husband cheating on her — this in particular may have caused her fertility problems later on, what with her having a stillborn girl and her last child Patrick dying of medical problems just two days after his birth. And then John died just three months after that. After the assassination she went into sort of a Heroic BSoD for a while but not into a histrionic fit like many celebs today (though it would've been understandable). Whether solely for the cameras or because she had the ability, she kept up the refined coolness she had become noted for. Even MAD, which is ruthless to everybody, turned away from Jackie after the assassination (she became an acceptable target again after marrying Aristotle Onassis).
    • Poor Rosemary Kennedy had the misfortune of being the "slow one" in a family full of ambitious, gifted children (experts think she had an IQ of around 90). The pressure of trying to measure up to her more sophisticated siblings caused her to act out and ultimately her parents ended up having a doctor perform brain surgery on her at the age of 23 to curb her mood swings. He succeeded... in reducing her mind to that of a literal infant, a state she remained in until she died at the age of 86. One wonders if the Kennedy family would have been a lot happier if Papa Joe hadn't been so hellbent on creating his own dynasty.
  • The year 2020 delivered without doubt a year-long trauma conga line for a lot of people, mainly caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Neil Young. At the age of six he nearly died of polio (in fact, owing to the drastic treatments he was given in hospital, his first words on waking were "I didn't die, did I?"). He was left with a weakened left side and had to teach himself to walk all over again. A few years later he was diagnosed with diabetes. In his late teens, friends noticed he was becoming increasingly nervous and full of tics; it turned out he had epilepsy, with both partial complex and full tonic-clonic seizures. He would literally fall down on stage or barely make it backstage. To make matters worse, bandmate Stephen Stills told him to "pretend it never happened," while sneering to everyone else that Neil was faking to get girls. In 1967, he began to experience debilitating exhaustion which an herbologist believed was radiation sickness connected to the Los Alamos tests. With his first serious girlfriend, he reverted to a childlike state; they played with blocks and dolls and told each other fairytales. In 1971, he suffered a slipped disc and played shows wearing a painful brace. His second son was born with severe cerebral palsy, is quadriplegic, and cannot speak. His daughter has epilepsy. In 2005, he underwent surgery for a brain aneurysm he'd been carrying around for decades like a ticking time bomb, then nearly bled to death from complications. He has post-polio syndrome, scoliosis, and osteoporosis... and he still gets out there year after year and rocks his (and your) ass off.
  • Rita Hayworth. First, her family suffered during the Depression, meaning that her dancing during her teenage years was the only bright light her family had for years. She was hired as an actress by Columbia - and her boss Harry Cohn (who she later called a 'monster') constantly treated her like a commodity - forcing her to dye her hair a lot, undergo painful surgical procedures to change her natural Latina appearance into typical Hollywood Caucasian; not allowing her to have a life outside the studio; and trying to control every aspect of her life, such that she couldn't make major decisions without his approval. As if that wasn't bad enough, she couldn't seem to marry or even date a single man who actually cared about her as a person. Edward Charles Judson was abusive and domineering. Orson Welles wasn't committed to being 'tied down by marriage' and divorced her although they had a daughter. Prince Aly Khan wasn't committed to her and they divorced, followed by a legal battle for the daughter she'd had with him, who Hayworth feared would be taken away to a foreign country, raised as a Muslim (without the civil rights given to women in America), and that she'd never see her again. Dick Haymes cared more about her paying his debts so that he, an Argentine citizen, could stay in America. And James Hill heaped 'obscene abuse' on her in public to the point she could be driven to tears, until she filed to divorce. All this contributed to her alcoholism, which only got worse when her two brothers died and sent her into depression. Her health struggles caused her beauty and appearance to deteriorate at an early age, and at age 54 she began suffering from Alzheimer's disease, which only got worse due to people not diagnosing her properly more early on. Her senile dementia got so bad that she needed to be cared for by her daughter Yasmin Aga Khan until her eventual death. Throughout all this, it was really the smaller things - such as her two children - that alone made her life a little better.
  • Mike Tyson is a textbook example of how for some famous people, it seems the only point of their lives is to serve as a warning to others. He entered the world of professional boxing as the phenom of phenoms, LeBron James, Michael Phelps, and John Elway rolled into a compact, lethal package. He obliterated everyone and everything in his path and became the youngest heavyweight champion ever at the age of 20. But then his manager Cus D'Amato, the only man who could keep his violent aggressiveness under control and focused, died, and Treacherous Advisor Don King promptly stepped in. A few days short of Tyson's 23rd birthday, he got Rocky Balboa-ed by James "Buster" Douglas, one of the most crushing boxing upsets of all time, with all of his three titles lost in one fell swoop. He seemed to be putting his ring skills back into shape, with several wins including two victories over hard punching slugger Razor Ruddock, when he was sent to prison for rape (which, among other things, cut off his income and would contribute to his massive financial problems later on). After that he had a brief rebound - he gave us some laughs with the Peter McNeely circus and even regained two titles, but these would be the last major wins of his career. After that came his match with Evander Holyfield, resulting in the infamous "Bite Seen 'Round The World," that managed to make him look like even more of a savage. And then he got slowly cut to pieces by Lennox Lewis, killing whatever shreds of drawing power he had left, followed by an interview that made him look more idiotic, and finally getting curbstomped in some four rounds by a nobody, and this was on top of his $40 million in debt. Losing one of his children in a freak accident involving a treadmill didn't help matters. It wasn't until his appearance in The Hangover that he started to get back on track.
  • China has endured a lot of turmoil in its modern history:
    • In the Century of Humiliation (1840s-1940s), China endured brutal defeats at the hands of European imperialists, a deadly rebellion by a pseudo-Christian fanatic, numerous famines and other natural disasters, technological and economic stagnation under a corrupt Manchu court that refused to modernize, a Warlord Era that resulted from the betrayal of the Republican revolution by a corrupt general, a psychotically evil invasion by Japan which was followed by another civil war.
    • And just when things seemed to calm down under the reign of Mao Zedong, he proceeded to cause two more disasters: the Great Leap Forward, a clusterfuck of industrial and economic planning that killed 30 million people, and the Cultural Revolution, a campaign of terror and ideological purity that decimated China's intellectual classes and destroyed much of China's cultural heritage.


Video Example(s):


Kabo 671's Bad Luck

On what was supposed to be a routine cargo flight from Luxembourg to Nigeria, Trans-Air Service Flight 671 aka Kabo 671, literally looses two engines from one wing, goes into a steep uncontrolled descent over The Alps, and air traffic control can't find them to guide them to safety. Once air traffic control finally picks them up, they get directed to go to Marseilles which is having very bad weather that makes landing there in their condition a no-go prompting them to land at a military base that's closer to their position. While the crew configures the plane to land, the damaged wing catches fire. To make things worse, because of their degraded maneuverability, they are unable to line up with the runway.

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Main / TraumaCongaLine

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