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Woobie of the Week

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So we have Mystery of the Week, where the heroes solve a new mystery every week. And we have Monster of the Week, when the heroes fight a new bad guy every week. We even have Patient of the Week, when the heroes are doctors and they help out a new sick person every week.

And then there's this guy. He's not dead or in danger of dying— he's just troubled in some way. Maybe he's angry at God because his wife died, or he's in debt and needs help, or [insert touching story here]. Whatever the problem, our main character has to figure out how to help him. And then the Woobie promptly disappears, and next week our hero finds someone like him all over again...

These series tend toward being spiritual and glurgey, but really it's up to the skill of the writer.


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     Anime and Manga  
  • In Ballad Of A Shinigami, Momo the shinigami finds some way to relieve the pain of the dead or the ones they are leaving behind each week.
  • Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist combines this with Patient of the Week, as the eponymous doctor deals with people suffering from spiritual afflictions that manifest as strange symptoms that normal medicine can't cure. These afflictions are often caused by abuse, trauma, toxic relationships, etc.
  • Each Hell Girl episode would focus on various troubled characters who is tormented by someone else, and how they are eventually driven to make a Deal with the Devil to send their tormentors to hell.
  • Hibiki's Magic has every chapter focus on a different woobie whose life tends to be either improved or ruined by magic and its applications, one of whom is Hibiki herself.
  • Mushishi combines this with Mystery of the Week. Most episodes feature people in incredibly unfortunate circumstances due to the effects of various mushi. Then Ginko arrives, figures out what kind of mushi he's dealing with and sees if he can help. Sometimes, he can't.
  • Princess Tutu is mostly this sort of thing in the beginning, with the heroine helping people solve their issues through dancing.
  • Basically, every other One-Shot Character in the Sailor Moon anime is one. It gets annoying after a while, as the Senshi are perfectly fine helping out the character they barely know, but they spend no time with their actual friends. Remember Naru? Usagi probably does not.
  • Characters in Paranoia Agent are this, except most of them don't get happy endings, while others receive Gainax endings.
  • Wonder Egg Priority has, on average, about one suicide victim per episode whom one of the girls must "save". To be clear, the victims are already dead, and the girls are just helping their souls to find peace, but nonetheless their tragic backstories are often enough to make the viewer cry for them; they are suicide victims, after all.
  • xxxHolic: The heroes go about, helping addicts of various types.
  • This trope is one of two main gimmicks of Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, along with Magic Kisses. Every arc revolves around at least one character with a hard life - usually one of the titular witches - that Yamada needs to help. The series is not afraid to play the Jerkass Woobie card, though - many of the woobies of the week are rather uncooperative or even villainous until Yamada finds out what is troubling them and gets through to them.

  • Parker Pyne Investigates is a series of short stories starring the titular Parker Pyne, who runs an agency that claims to solve unhappiness. Each story features a character struggling with various issues (usually relationship problems), which they eventually resolve with Pyne's help.

     Live Action TV  
  • 21 Jump Street, the episode where the cops go undercover and there's this chick who's all introverted but seems to know about the crimes that are going on, and she's all disturbed. Turns out she's psychic.
    • Season 4, an episode called "Haunts in a New Age"... A psychic teen says she can predict when an arsonist will next strike during a Halloween dance.
  • Burn Notice — not every episode has Mike and the others helping someone in need, but many do, particularly in the first few seasons. The standard formula is Two Lines, No Waiting with the Woobie being the A Plot and the progress of the Myth Arc being the B Plot, or sometimes vice versa.
  • On Fantasy Island, each week a different group of guests come to the island and learn some sort of life lesson.
  • Ghost Whisperer: "Distressed ghost who refuses to pass on" of the week.
  • Done briefly in the third season of The Good Place, where the main cast tries to help a new person every episode become good enough to get into The Good Place when they die. However the premise is quickly dropped due to the plot taking a new turn.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze has an interesting twist on this, combining Monster, Victim, and Woobie of the Week into a single package. The MOTW is created by a human "Switcher" using a device called an Astro Switch; the Switcher is someone with a grudge who's so hell-bent on revenge that they're blinded to the fact that the Switch will eventually kill them. So instead of just beating up the MOTW, Fourze and his team reach out and try to befriend the Switchers so that they know there's somebody who cares.
  • Its predecessor Kamen Rider Den-O had a similar format where the Monsters of the Week were Jerkass Genies who took the Victim's wish and warped it for their own ends, usually Woobie-fying them in the process. Protagonist Ryotaro would try to help the victims, initially taking some flak from some of his allies who insisted his only job is to protect the timestream, but his response was that helping the victims was part of that job too.
  • Joan of Arcadia: Joan helps a new stranger every week at the suggestion of God himself.
  • The Love Boat likewise has a new set of guests every week, all of them looking for love on the cruise ship.
  • Every Midnight Caller episode has at least one, since it's about a radio host who gets involved in his listeners' problems. Even the villains are usually somewhat sympathetic.
  • Quantum Leap has this built into its premise: Bakula jumps into a new body every episode, and that person, or someone around him, is always in distress. The series catchphrase, his mission, is to Set Right What Once Went Wrong; once that's accomplished, he leaps into the next body. It's heavily implied to be the result of divine intervention.
  • The similarly-premised Twice In A Lifetime, where an angel allows a one-shot character to revisit a moment in his life when things started going wrong.
  • Wonderfalls: A bunch of animal figurines that may or may not be God annoy heroine Jaye into helping strangers on a weekly basis.

    Western Animation 
  • Care Bears episodes often consist of a bear or group of bears going to Earth to help a child that is having difficulties in their life and teach them to care.
  • In My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, after the end of the fourth season where the main cast obtains their new castle with its map, they are alerted by the map in several episodes to ponies and other creatures in trouble who need to learn a lesson about friendship, and travel to the place indicated to help out.