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Woobie Family

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Sitting somewhere between individual Woobies and entire Woobie Species is a family or a bloodline that experiences an inordinate and unwarranted amount of suffering, trauma, and personal tragedy in its ranks. Whether it is justified in-story with a Hereditary Curse, or the writers just have it in for them, this family just cannot catch a break.

Compare Badass Family (the two may overlap as a clan of Iron Woobies) and contrast Big, Screwed-Up Family, whose members also tend to suffer a lot, but only a few (if any) receive audience sympathy.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Souma of Fruits Basket fame take the Hereditary Curse avenue. If you count all of the non-Souma characters who end up marrying into the family, the angst level skyrockets even further. No one had a happy childhood, no one got their happy ending without a pound of flesh. Thankfully, the sequel reveals that they managed to make sure the cycle ended there.
  • Rule of thumb: if you're a member of the Yagami family and your name isn't Reinforce Zwei, the Lyrical Nanoha fanbase has probably wanted to give you a hug at some point (they wanted to hug Rein too, but for entirely different reasons). Hayate was a paraplegic orphan suffering from a terminal illness, the Wolkenritter were basically slaves for centuries, Reinforce Eins is a literal Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, and the plot of A's is kicked off by fate (not that Fate) threatening to take away the happy life they managed to build together in spite of all of that. This stops applying in later seasons, though not before their joined by Agito, a Living Weapon who was experimented on for an unspecified period of time and found herself unable to properly repay the man who saved her life despite her best efforts.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Avantasia Protag AU series, the protagonists from each of the four Avantasia Rock Opera stories find themselves mysteriously transported to the modern world and decide to live together as roommates. They soon bond into a family because disasters of many flavors keep happening and they all need each other to make it out. Maybe they just have a lot of bad luck, or maybe there's a supernatural explanation. They have demons and bad ghosts after them, accidental Teleportation to dangerous alternate realities or their home dimensions where they have to face the canon villains, and an unusually high amount of run-of-the-mill accidents that land one or another of them in the hospital. It's hard not to want to join one of their group hugs once they're all safe again (until the next installment of course).

    Film — Animation 
  • The Parr family in The Incredibles and its sequel have a hard time adjusting to a world where the use of superpowers is banned. They frequently have to move house, and family life was quite tense until they first fought as a family. In the sequel, the Superhero Relocation Program is shut down, meaning that they would have been homeless had Winston Deavor not offered them refuge. Thankfully, supers are made legal again at the end of the sequel.

    Film — Live Action 
  • Brazil: The Buttles, given how the father is arrested and killed over a misunderstanding during the middle of a bedtime story and the rest of the family achingly await his return, only to learn that he's dead.
  • Shenandoah:
    • While Boy is the main woobie, the Andersons in general are pretty pitiable by the end of the movie after three of their members die under pretty pointless circumstances despite their efforts to remain neutral during the war. It doesn't help watching how they spend much of the movie looking for the unjustly imprisoned Boy without success.
    • Dr. Witherspoon's family isn't any better off than the Andersons, as two of his sons are dead or dying after joining the Confederate army and another is still fighting. All of this clearly weighs on Dr. Witherspoon, especially since he can see that the South is losing the war and he's lost at least two children for nothing.

  • The Beginning After the End:
    • The Eraliths. As of Volume 10, both the grandmother and her sister died due to overexerting their divination powers (which were Cast from Lifespan), the former to save the grandfather from assassins and the latter to save everyone she knew from the Asuras who planned to exterminate them all (on top of being a disciple of a benevolent Asura who was Un-personed after he went against his people, which forced her to live as a hermit), the father and mother were forced to make a deal with the Big Bad after it was revealed that he had control over their daughter's life and were ultimately executed in the aftermath, and the daughter was captured and turned into the vessel for an entity known as the Legacy (though with a silver lining that she is still Fighting from the Inside through the same means the Big Bad had control over her). Only the grandfather has avoided his family's unfortunate fates. Even then, he could do nothing as the Asuras destroyed his homeland (and most of his people) via a Fantastic Nuke in a futile attempt to prevent the Legacy from being summoned, and was forced to work with them and lie to his people about what happened in the aftermath only for the Asuras to ultimately betray him as well once they deemed he had outlived his usefulness to them. And then there's the honorary son (in-law) Arthur (in that he was the one who inadvertently gave the Big Bad control over the daughter, his own Love Interest, through an artifact he gave her), and what he has been through...
    • Speaking of which, the Leywins. As of Volume 10, while only the father has died (having been killed during the war), that isn't to say that the remaining family members have experienced multiple brushes with death on several occasions. On top of that, they have had to contend with losing the war, watching their homeland be conquered, and being forced into hiding. Not only that, the mother and daughter had to presume that the son Arthur had died during one of the last battles of the war, while in fact Arthur had been marooned all alone in Alacrya, the land of their enemies. As for Arthur's issues, he has to deal with his own guilt over not being able to protect the people he cares about (and in some cases as seen with the Eraliths inadvertently endangered them), elements from his past life coming back to haunt him in his current one, and how he now has to stand up against the Jerkass Gods who have lorded over the setting.
  • The Chatwins of The Magicians trilogy. The father died in World War I, their mother suffered a nervous breakdown, and the five children were left in the care of an absentee guardian - their only solace being the Magic Land of Fillory - before they began suffering their own breakdowns. Martin suffered chronic depression as a result of being molested by Christopher Plover and ran away from home at age thirteen and became the Beast terrorizing Fillory; Helen descended into religious mania; Fiona only maintained her sanity by pretending she'd never heard of Fillory; Rupert became a guilt-ridden recluse before finally dying on the battlefield in World War II; and Jane ran away at the same age as Martin ultimately becoming the Watcherwoman, a legendary time-travelling sorceress opposing the Beast. Indeed, the legacy of the family's descent into madness is so devastating that Rupert's great-granddaughter refused to let her child read the Fillory And Further series.
  • The Silmarillion. You’d be hard-pressed to find a notable family in the first age who don’t suffer horribly some way or another.
  • The Starks in A Song of Ice and Fire. Between deaths in childbirth, being betrayed and slaughtered by their "allies" to imprisoned and threatened with rape and torture, Forced to Watch all of the above, going from riches to absolute rags, being forcibly separated and scattered to every corner of the known world and having any attempt to get back to each other pulled out from under them the Starks have seen it all. The fact they were acknowledged as the most honorable noble house in Westeros and were a rare, close-knit family who only wanted to remain at home together rather than getting involved in the fight for the throne makes it even worse.

  • Greek Mythology: The Atreides are a family that seems to go out of their way to receive Laser-Guided Karma via murder, cannibalism, betrayal, adultery, incest, and familicide (often combined). It only ends when Orestes (whose only crime was killing his mother in revenge for killing his father, and even then had been ordered to do so by Apollo) after going mad and being pursued by the Furies, is acquitted by the gods.

    Video Games 
  • The Witch of Izalith and her children in the Dark Souls series. The Witch herself and two of her daughters turned into an Eldritch Abomination when their attempt to prolong the Age of Fire went bad. One more daughter died, two were turned into Spider People, one eventually went Hollow defending what was left of her mother, and the only brother became a Humanoid Abomination without his sisters' help. The only daughter who escaped relatively unharmed suffers from horrific PTSD even centuries later, when you come along and have no choice but to kill all but one of her surviving family members (you can then kill them both, as well).
  • The Hawkes in Dragon Age: their father spent his life on the run as an apostate mage, his wife was disowned by her noble family for eloping with him, then he died shortly before the Fifth Blight destroyed everything he left to her and their three children. One of said children was then killed by the Darkspawn in front of their mother and siblings, another (potentially) died from the Taint, their mother was turned into a zombie by a deranged mage and had to be put down by her eldest child, and the eldest child became the world's premier Cosmic Plaything, when their attempts to take care of their dysfunctional friends and family brought about several cataclysmic events that shook Thedas to the core.
  • Ptahmose and his children in The Secret World. Three thousand years prior to the events of the story, they overthrew the tyrannical regime of Pharaoh Akehanaten - only for Ptahmose to be forced to take drastic steps to keep the Black Pharaoh from rising again: with no other choice, he sacrificed the lives of all seven of his children and transplanted their souls into the Sentinels - seven giant statues watching over Akhenaten's Black Pyramid, keeping his power suppressed. Immediately afterwards, Ptahmose was Driven to Suicide, binding himself to their side as their caretaker. Three thousand years later, the Sentinels are still there, each of them suffering in their own way - particularly Moutemouia, who was forced to give up her mortal family to become a Sentinel and has latched onto her little brother as a substitute son in a desperate attempt to keep herself sane. But the worst is yet to come: thanks to the activities of the Orochi Group, Akhenaten is breaking out anyway - making Ptahmose's sacrifice completely pointless.
  • The Windrunners in the Warcraft/World of Warcraft lore. Parents and brother were killed by the orcs, oldest sister disappeared while exploring a dying world, middle sister was killed and turned undead by the Scourge (and later became a servant to a rogue death god), youngest sister lost her husband when he performed a Heroic Sacrifice to a futile attempt to stop a Fantastic Nuke, grandfather had to fight nephew-turned-undead, and two brothers ended up essentially killing each other.
  • The Bakers (except for Lucas) in Resident Evil 7: Biohazard were nothing like they are during the events of the game before Eveline's arrival at their home and their subsequent infection and mutation by The Mold. You briefly get to see and speak to their old selves during the hive-mind dream sequence.

  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: The Hotakainen family seems to be quite prone to tragedies. When first introduced, the family consists of a pair of siblings (Onni and Tuuri) and their younger cousin (Lalli). At ages sixteen, ten and eight respectively, they were the only survivors of an outbreak of The Plague on their home island that resulted in the death of their parents. The supernatural entity that made the outbreak happen is implied to have assimilated their grandmother, and seems to be intermittently hunting for surviving mages in the family in a way that makes it more dangerous for Onni and Lalli to communicate via the Talking in Your Dreams system than it already is for most mages. In the first arc of the story proper, Tuuri drags Lalli into participating in a expedition in the Silent World and ends up dying there and leaving Lalli alone with a handful people he can't speak with. Lalli himself ends up in a very crippling Power-Strain Blackout no less than twice during the trip, with the second one being of a type that very narrowly avoided being outright fatal to him. During the story's second arc, events from the first arc result in Onni leaving on an adventure whose Suicide Mission nature is implied by the fact that he goes out of his way to make sure Lalli doesn't follow him on it.
  • Goria and Jone in Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic. Goria was an orc chieftain's daughter exiled for bearing a half-human child (Jone, who was also mute from birth). When she turned to the humans for help, she was grudgingly accepted but nearly forced into prostitution by humans. When a blacksmith offered Jone a job, things started looking up... and then Glon led a raid on the town, killing the smith and capturing the two. Here they had a short Hope Spot, with Goria being betrothed to Glon and Jone being trained as a smith. Then Jone's true destiny as the orc god's champion manifested, and she became the Ax-Crazy leader of an Army of Thieves and Whores before finally being killed off. Later, a war broke out between the drow and the orcs, and Goria was murdered, seemingly happy to finally be free, and when the orc god was assimilated by a drow goddess, Jone was resurrected.

    Western Animation 
  • Arcane: Vi and Jinx's parents are shown dead minutes into the first episode. They get a pretty happy adoptive family by Vander with Milo and Claggor. Act 1 is not kind to them, leaving the family broken with the latter three dead, Vi jailed, and Jinx feeling abandoned. Also Silco, Vander's brother, was betrayed by Vander, who gave him a nasty scar and deformed eye. He eventually adopts Jinx, and while they have a loving relationship it's clearly toxic. In episode 7, Silco sees Jinx almost get killed by a bomb and rushes to save her. The infamous "family dinner" scene really drives home how sad all these people are.