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Wheelchair Woobie

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Awww, the poor kid...

Sara Berry was a popular bitch
Hot bod, hot boy, cheer captain, plus she was rich
That girl had everything 'till hiccup and hitch: Julie Jenkins lost her leg in a wreck (am-pu-ta-ted)
The nominations for Prom Royalty came
Our Sara's senior year, and Queen was her claim
'Till gossip stirred the student body would name Julie Jenkins, Queen of the Prom (pi-ty vote)
— "The Ballad of Sara Berry", 35mm: A Musical Exhibition

An easy way to instantly mark someone as The Woobie is to put them in a wheelchair. Crutches or other similarly visible impediments are common as well, but wheelchairs are the most common. Often, their Woobie status is tied to how they ended up in the thing in the first place.

This trope is NOT reserved for examples involving wheelchairs; any meaningful disability works. The important thing is that the character's Woobie status be directly tied to them suffering from whatever it is (either with respect to how they got that way or how it is affecting their life).



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    Anime and Manga 
  • The pictured example is Kamio Misuzu from Air in the second half of the show. Let's just say that she got sick to the point in which she needed to be on a wheelchair. Unlike some of the other examples, she doesn't get better, but instead worse. Very worse.

  • Code Geass: Nunnally Lamperouge/vi Britannia, although in Code Geass: Nightmare of Nunnally, she regains her ability to walk in the end. The anime also makes reference to her undergoing physical therapy, but we don't see any results within the actual show. By the time she becomes the Empress of Britannia, she has regained her sight - but is still wheelchair-bound.

  • Doubt has Rei Hazama, a famous hypnotist until she was falsely labeled a faker, which ruined the lives of her and her parents, who committed suicide by driving into a pole. With her in the car. She survived, but now has to be in a wheelchair. Despite this, she is nothing but sweet to the other characters. To top it all off, when all the friends are kidnapped and forced to play in the Deadly Game, she’s the first to die. However it’s then subverted when she turns out to be the Big Bad behind it all, having faked her death as part of a revenge plot against the whole world, including her supposed friends.

  • Helen from Sonic X. Refreshingly, in episode 14, Sonic makes a point to not smother her with pity, but instead spend a day with her treating her as a person, and not making a big deal about her disability, but moreover, making an actual point to accommodate her needs while befriending her, even going so far as to blow off the President to avoid interrupting his time with Helen.
  • Kirito from Sword Art Onlineduring the second half of the Alicization arc. Due to the grief of losing Eugeo combined with the power surge damaging his brain, this leads Kirito to have an extreme Heroic BSoD that leaves him an Empty Shell for a large portion of the war. In this state he loses his ability to speak, most of his awareness of his surroundings, and most of his mobility. He requires intense care from either Alice or whoever is looking after him and necessitates being wheeled around in a wheelchair.
  • Sylvette Suede of Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee. Her mother died in childbirth, and she is eventually separated from the brother who raised her and lives in poverty. And it turns out that Gauche did not actually recover his memory when he comes back, denying her a reunion with him.

  • In the sequel to Tokyo Ghoul, Shuu Tsukiyama, previously a threatening villain, has spent nearly three years in a deep depression after Kaneki’s supposed death, uninterested in leaving his room or even eating. The physical toll of it has left him an Ill Boy that requires a wheelchair to get around, once he becomes determined to leave his room.

    Comic Books 
  • Hunter Zolomon from The Flash is a well known example. His life had never been easy to begin with and when he was introduced, he had to use a cane to support himself due to a Career-Ending Injury back when he was working for the FBI. Later on plays this trope completely straight when Grodd paralyzes him during an attack to Iron Heights Penitary. His transformation from a bitter limp cop to Wheelchair Woobie makes the final straw, makes him extremely angry and bitter, and he begs to then Flash Wally West to undo his crippling via time travel. Wally rejects his request due to fragility of time. Hunter, feeling betrayed by his best friend, attempts to go back in time to fix his life on his own. Unfortunately, since he isn't a speedster, all he manages to do is give himself Time Master powers... which slowly (from his point of view, in reality it's less than a second) drive him so insane that he becomes convinced that it's his destiny to become the next Reverse-Flash and make Wally's life more tragic. Throughout his career as Zoom, he's genuinely unaware that his attempts to help his friend are actually causing him great harm.

  • Barbara Gordon was confined to a wheelchair for a long time following being shot in the spine by Joker in The Killing Joke. The recent removal of that factor is heavily debated, especially since she had come into her own as Oracle before then.

    Fan Works 
  • The Freedom Planet fanfic, A Dragon Without Wings, has this very much in-mind. The story itself revolves near entirely around the fact Lilac (nicknamed Ground Lilac, as this is the same multiverse as with Freedom Dies With Me) is paralysed from the waist down after being shot in the back by Brevon. Supplemental material, such as this seem to indicate it wears down her spirit; the prologue, disturbingly, starts with her attempting suicide. Don't worry, though, she gets better. A lot better.

  • Chen becomes this in the fanfiction series Gensokyo 20XX, after a vicious attack leaves her left arm and leg paralyzed from nerve damage. From what can be read, she spends most of her time bedridden, as she cannot get out of it, though, apparently, later on, she does use a wheelchair (apparently, the same one Yukari hit Tenshi with). Initially, earlier, she was upset by this, until Yuuka reassured her that, despite her hindrances, she can still live a happy life.

  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fan film Snowdrop tells the story of a blind pegasus. The first several minutes heavily play up the hardships faced by the titular Snowdrop due to her blindness (mostly her classmates wanting nothing to do with her). That plus her over-the-top cute character design take the Woobie factor Up to Eleven, tugging at the viewer's heartstrings with all the subtlety of a yak on crack.

    Live Action TV 
  • Chloe Reeves in The Dumping Ground. In a wheelchair after falling out of an upstairs window as a toddler due to neglect by her mother, and may or may not have been pushed by her older brother, the needlessly evil and conniving Ryan Reeves. She then spent years separated from her family, sending endless letters to Ryan that he never opened. And then, after finally being moved into the same kid's home as her brother, she's stuck in an endless cycle of being ignored by him, forgiving him, excusing his terrible deeds, and being manipulated and controlled by him. The poor kid...

  • Stevie from Malcolm in the Middle. However he sometimes subverts it by doing some pretty impressive stuff (like punching Reese into submission twice, the second time with the help of a robot suit). He also has no problem starting trouble just like the other boys, and the show has no problem with karma biting him in the ass for it, either.

  • 35MM: A Musical Exhibition: "The Ballad of Sara Berry" has Julie Jenkins, who is seen as an In-Universe example by the rest of her school after she loses a leg in an accident. They all decide to make her Prom Queen out of pity...much to the distaste of resident Alpha Bitch Sara Berry, thus kicking off the plot.

    Video Games 
  • Gehrman from Bloodborne, once the first Hunter of Yharnam, a selfless person who can withstand a cosmic scale of horror, reducing into a crippled, wheelchair-bound old man trapped in a dream. He wished to be freed from the nightmare and begged his friends to put him out of his misery, but they couldn't. By the time when you halted the source of nightmare, he insisted to offer you a Mercy Kill instead of begging you to kill him, wishing you to be freed. If you reject his offer, he demonstrates quite handily that having a missing leg is not a big handicap for him.

  • The player's brother, Doned, in the opening of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. He spends the rest of the game in a world where he can magically walk and gets upsets with the player for trying to restore their original world. In the end, he's back in his wheelchair, but more accepting of his situation.

  • Emi Ibarazaki from Katawa Shoujo, though it's temporary; she has an infection that prevents her from using her prosthetic legs. Bad thing, running with said prosthetic legs kept her Past Experience Nightmares away from her mind, thus her mental/emotional state becomes unstable....

  • Mega Man Battle Network: The third game introduced Mamuro, an adorable little kid Lan meets who's been stuck in a wheelchair for most of his life. He's also the operator of Serenade, the King of the Undernet (at least at the start of the game).

  • Mega Man Legends 1 has a little girl named Ira who uses a wheelchair. Despite the hospital's aging equipment stalling her recovery, she remains hopeful that she'll walk again. If you donate enough Zenny so the hospital can buy new equipment, she will.

  • Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: Monaca Towa, the Lil' Ultimate Homeroom, is a heavy deconstruction of the trope and Woobies in general, if her being an antagonist didn't tip you off already. She presents herself as the most pitiful yet oddly optimistic girl, that every one of her allies love and care for. She acts perfectly charming, speaking almost whimsically about everything. Her crippling disability just gives her some extra points. Not only does she demean and abuse her fellow Warriors of Hope without even breaking her saccharine character, but she actually fakes being disabled. Even though, by her own admission, the wheelchair is inconvenient, she puts on with it because she figured people would pity and care for her more if she was an "ill girl".

    Web Comics 
  • Tavros Nitram from Homestuck, whose misfortunes are too plentiful to name here, although there's a delightfully comprehensive (and spoileriffic) list in his entry of the character page. Although his woobie-ness is not tied to his disability — he was still the universe's punching bag both before he was paralyzed and after he regained the use of his legs.

    Western Animation 
  • Ray Gillette from Archer was shot through the spine, confining him to a wheelchair. Archer's Jerkass persona lead to many Kick the Dog moments. Subverted when it is revealed that he wasn't actually crippled and just liked the sympathy and attention being in a wheelchair afforded him. He later actually paralyzed and spends the first few episodes of Season Five wallowing in self pity.

  • The Legend of Korra: After a rather brutal series of events (including being badly poisoned, nearly suffocated and falling from not one, but several cliffs), Korra is left confined to a wheelchair for at least two years. And as a bonus, that series of events was designed to make her feel useless in her role as the Avatar (and kill the Avatar spirit forever), with her allies unintentionally adding to that by doing her job while she recovers. She prides herself on her strength and her role so this haunts her. Even when she gets out of the chair, a combination of trace poison in her system and her own doubts and fears leaves her a shadow of her former self for quite a while.

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: Nearly every episode referencing Scootaloo's inability to fly pulls her squarely into Woobie territory.
    • "Flight to the Finish": After being ruthlessly teased over her condition, Scootaloo is so severely distraught that she runs away from her friends, goes home, tears her posters off her bedroom walls, and throws her scooter in the trash.
    • "The Washouts": Towards the end, Scootaloo reveals her motivation for joining the titular team: she wants something noteworthy she can do with her life despite the whole "can't fly" thing (having accepted that there's no meaningful hope of her following Rainbow Dash into the Wonderbolts) - so much so that she is willing to join a stunt team with a devil-may-care attitude towards safety.
    • Multiple episodes have Scootaloo implicitly wishing that she could fly. She is able to fly in dream scenes in "Bloom & Gloom" and "Do Princesses Dream of Magic Sheep?" (the latter of which has her with gigantic wings, as if to compensate for her actual wings being allegedly undergrown for flight). When she is turned into a sea pony in "Surf and/or Turf" and dives underwater, her first thought it "So this must be what it's like to fly!", and it accounts for a large part of her bias towards Seaquestria over Mount Aris. There, her yearning to fly has in essence consumed her to the point of interfering with her CMC duties.note 
    • For nearly the whole series, it was left ambiguous as to whether Scootaloo had an actual disability or whether she was simply having difficulty learning to fly.note  This may have made her situation even more tragic: At no point is there any evidence of anyone helping her learn to fly, nor any indication that she had ever seen a doctor to look into why she had been having trouble flying, nor anyone pointing her in the direction of technology (such as Apple Bloom's hang glider in "Call of the Cutie") that would have helped her to fly if she'd never be able to do so naturally.


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