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Wheelchair Woobie

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Awww, the poor kid...

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 similar example works.

If the character does not like to be reminded of their Woobie status, this overlaps with Don't You Dare Pity Me!.


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     Anime and Manga  

  • Black★Rock Shooter's Kagari counts as more along the lines of a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds. Did we mention that there's no medical reason why she can't walk? She just became codependent on her friend, Yomi.
  • 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.
  • Hayate Yagami from Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's, though she gets better, both in terms of mobility and life situation, by the third season. Also qualified as a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds for a short while at the end of A's.
  • Sylvette Suede of Tegami Bachi. 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.
  • Rock Lee ends up heavily injured by Gaara during the exam and has to use crutches. The others fear that he may be permanently crippled, which would destroy his dream of ever becoming a ninja. He gets better.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Subverted in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 7 by Johnny Joestar. He's shown as a somewhat frail and even effeminate boy but he's still determined enough to take part in the Steel Ball Run horse race even without working legs to follow Gyro Zeppeli and to find out the secret of his steel balls.
  • In the sequel to Tokyo Ghoul, Tsukiyama has spent nearly three years in a deep depression, 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.
  • Subverted in Cross Ange. Ange's sister Sylvia is wheelchair-bound and seems to hit all the aspects of the trope... until later episodes show her to terribly cruel and hateful toward her Norma sister, losing her any audience sympathy she might have had. And in the end, it turns out her paralysis was psychosomatic in nature, as a terrified-out-of-her-mind Sylvia is able to stand up and run away in the final episodes, and is shown standing without assistance in the epilogue.

     Comic Books  

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This DC Superfriends story. It uses this trope for the younger audience.
  • In The Superman Adventures, Jimmy Olsen in "Yesterday's Man of Tomorrow". He was crippled by crossfire because Superman had exiled himself as Superboy.

     Fan Fic  

  • 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.
  • This seems to be the point of the Dragon Without Wings AU for Freedom Planet. While little is (currently) known, the story seems to be Lilac becoming a paraplegic from being shot in the spine by Brevon, with Carol and Milla taking care of her. All that currently exists of this AU are a few images, such as this.


  • Ramon from Mar Adentro is an extreme example in that he is quadriplegic and confined to his bed for most of the film, becoming a Wheelchair Woobie only towards the end.
  • Crutchie from Newsies.
  • Vriess in Alien: Resurrection. Complete with a scene where Johner throws a knife into one of his numb legs, just to be an ass!
  • Subverted in Notting Hill: The story of how Bella ended up in a wheelchair is tragic, and tragic elements continue to unfold, but overall Bella is cheerful, emotionally stable and quite a forceful personality, to the point that she doesn't hesitate to give several other characters a well-needed boot up the arse on occasion.
  • The Changeling: As the cover of the film implies the film's ghost is the soul of a tortured little child named Joseph who could not find peace before being vindicated and revealing to the public that he was murdered by his own father because of his crippling sickness.


  • Older Than Radio: In A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim is a sad little boy who has a bad leg and can only walk with a crutch.
  • Briarlight from Warrior Cats, after breaking her spine. Being a cat, however, she doesn't have a wheelchair, making her even more of a woobie.

     Live Action TV  

  • 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.
  • Orson from Desperate Housewives after the plane crash during season 6 leaves him paralyzed. He even takes advantage of his condition in order to get his revenge against Bree.
  • On Arrested Development, Maeby tries to invoke this trope with her false identity of wheelchair-bound, dying Shirley.
  • Artie from Glee drifts into this on occasion.
  • When Snoop Dogg hosted Saturday Night Live, he played a mediocre, wheelchair-bound rapper who continually wins battles by reminding the audience that he's in a wheelchair - until he goes up against a blind rapper.
  • Downton Abbey:
    • Matthew is seen by many as this.
    • Bates, who uses a cane due to an injury he got while serving in the military.
  • 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...
  • To a certain extent, John Watson at the beginning of the "A Study in Pink" episode of Sherlock could be considered this.
  • Square One TV: In one Mathnet week, Cate Monday was in a wheelchair. It made you feel sorry for her, and it made her a Damsel in Distress at one point, too. Neither the audience nor the other characters ever learned just how she got injured; she said on-screen that it was embarrassing in response to being asked about it.
  • Friday Night Lights/TV Series : Jason Street


  • The Clockworker's Doll in the Evillious Chronicles. Even though the wheelchair has no bearing in her woobie-ness, she's still a major example. Although she did get out of it as of Capriccio Farce.

     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.
  • Acro from the second Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney game. He lost his brother and his ability to walk to an accident that should have been just an innocent prank! He's one of the series' very few Sympathetic Murderers.
  • Diana in Sakura Wars: So Long, My Love, though her initial self-pity can keep people from feeling sorry for her in some cases. She quickly sheds her Woobie status once she joins the party, though.
  • 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. Wonder why.
    • In the end, he's back in his wheelchair, but more accepting of his situation.
  • 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.
  • 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 Bad Dreams away from her mind, thus her mental/emotional state becomes unstable....
  • Kaoru Watabe from The King of Fighters starts as such, but by the time we officially meet her she's starting to get better.
  • "Huey" Emmerich, better known as Hal Emmerich's (i.e. Otacon's) father, is one in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, leading to a brief moment of Fridge Logic given that Otacon's Backstory involves Huey nearly drowning Hal's sister Emma in a swimming pool...which would be difficult to do from a wheelchair, to say the least. This appears to have been overcome by him upgrading himself to a lower-body exoskeleton in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. He also stops being sympathetic and likable when his true colors are revealed, and by the time he loses the exoskeleton he's become a full-on Hate Sink.
  • Monoca Towa from Absolute Despair Girls invokes this trope. She’s actually not wheelchair-bound, but pretends so because people are easier to manipulate when she looks pathetically helpless.

     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.
  • Mecha maid (without her armour) in Spinnerette.
  • Amara from Keiki, especially when one comic showed her becoming a popular trendsetter, then realizing it was All Just a Dream.
  • Lululu Lopez, an impoverished land-based mermaid from Electric Wonderland, might come off as this if not for the moments when she comes off as a Bratty Half-Pint.

     Web Original  

  • Subverted in season 3 of The Guild, in which one of the members of the "Axis of Anarchy" is a hot blond in a wheelchair, who turns out to be a total bitch and exploits her condition to manipulate people.
  • One article in The Onion deals with a young wheelchair-bound boy who prays to God to be allowed to walk again, only to be told that he never will.
  • This animation of a boy in a wheelchair who dreams to be able to fly one day.
  • Averted completely in Worm, first Taylor gets her back broken and nearly drowns due to saving a civilian shelter, then is healed within a chapter. Then Genesis is revealed to have been wheelchair bound for a long time, however for the same reasons that this takes a long time to come up, she hardly seems to care.

     Western Animation  

  • On South Park, Timmy - in a wheelchair, and who can only say his own name - is protective of his status as the Wheelchair Woobie when he meets Jimmy - a boy with an unnamed disease which withered his legs, making him walk with two forearm crutches, but who does inspirational Stand-Up Comedy. Timmy even tries to kill Jimmy.
  • In one episode of Blinky Bill, poor little Shifty Dingo breaks his leg and has to be in a wheelchair.
  • Family Guy: Joe Swanson is occasionally this when he's not being a Handicapped Badass.
  • Subverted on The Proud Family, where Penny starts dating a boy in a wheelchair, who she felt sorry for. But it is revealed that his actually an incredibly bossy jerkass who exploits his handicap and pretends to be more weak and gentle than he is to get people to do what he says. He even uses this to escape punishment. (to clarify, Penny and her friends were suspended because they were suspected of having been the vandals. All he has to do when he's caught? Apologize.)
  • On Futurama, Tinny Tim is a parody version of this, an orphaned robotic child with a crutch for one arm and differently-sized legs.
  • On Young Justice, Artemis' mother Paula. Losing her mobility in her former career (as a criminal) is just part of what makes her Woobie-ish.
  • One episode of The Wild Thornberrys features a character of the week being a girl in a wheelchair. Eliza tries very hard not to treat her any differently than she would any other girl but has a hard time not bringing it up.
  • 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.
  • In the fourth season finale of The Venture Bros., Triana's new boyfriend Raven is one of these. Seeing as he's an Edward Cullen parody, his status as "woobie" may be up for debate.
  • 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.
  • Pelswick'' averts this. In fact, the entire purpose of the show is for John Callahan (A handicapped man himself) to say that wheelchair-bound people should not be pitied. Needless to say, this has garnered controversy.