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Woobie Species

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The Woobie is an individual who suffers. This trope is The Woobie on a wider scale, applying to an entire group. In particular, woobieness happens to be a trait of an entire species (alien or otherwise) or fantastic race.

The reasons for this can vary. Maybe they are endangered. Maybe they are misunderstood or discriminated against. Maybe they're enslaved or made into hapless mooks, especially if they're made sympathetic. Whatever the reason, the audience and/or characters in-universe feel sorry for them.

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Examples:

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    Anime And Manga 
  • The title creatures in Sekirei, a race of battle aliens forced to participate in a game where There Can Be Only One. This involves seeking out their One True Love and then fighting to the death against the rest of their kind with the knowledge only one will be allowed to stay with their Ashikabi. Out of the 108, the vast majority are Monster Munch or Red Shirts with absolutely no hope of winning against their more powerful elders, the Single Numbers. This leads many pairs to attempt to flee the capital, only to be hunted down and slaughtered by the Discipline Squad.
  • The cursed children from Black Bullet, young girls born with the Gastrea virus in their blood, the same virus that turn people into Eldritch Abominations. How society treats the cursed children is sickeningly in Jim Crow law levels (from public flogging and lynching to forced segregation and even Police Brutality). And because the cursed children are born with said virus, they'll eventually turn into Eldritch Abominations anyways in a much slower rate. It gets worse for them when the government plans to strip them away from their citizenship and plan a genocide against them.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann has Beastmen, despite being the mooks of the first half's Big Bad. They're an artificial species created by Lordgenome for the sole purpose of serving him and killing humans on the surface, incapable of reproducing without cloning, and because they lack spiral power they Can't Catch Up to humans who've unlocked it, swiftly slaughtered and left irrelevant.

    Comics 

    Fan Works 
  • The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Mirrors In Shadows portrays changelings as this. They are every bit as intelligent as ponies but operate on Blue and Orange Morality, and drive themselves to enforce a Hive Mind mentality (going so far as to not name themselves) to cope with how they constantly need to imitate ponies just to feed. Since they feed on love via Vampiric Draining, a pony will die if they stay too long meaning if they ever actually find a pony they love, they have no choice but to abandon them.
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    Films — Live-Action 
  • The Thermians from Galaxy Quest. They all seem relatively peaceful and innocent, but they're also under attack by another alien species intent on wiping them out. On top of that, they have no concept of fiction, meaning that they end up mistaking a Star Trek-esque show from Earth as the real deal and model their entire society after it before finally recruiting the cast of the show to try and save them from the aforementioned genocidal aliens (and they take it pretty hard when they find out none of it was actually real).
  • The Isos from TRON. Beautiful lifeforms that just emerged spontaneously from Flynn's tinkering inside The Grid. "Naive and infinitely wise," Flynn called them, convinced they could rewrite everything from science to religion and change the world. Unfortunately, the Programs had no context for what to make of them. Worse, TRON: Uprising and the Betrayal comic showed that just by existing, they were destabilizing the system and endangering every life on it. Add a magnificently done False Flag Operation from Clu that framed them as terrorists, and spread the lie that they could infect and kill Programs with just a touch, and the Programs were convinced that the only way to save themselves was siding with Clu and exterminating them all.

    Literature 
  • Animorphs:
    • The Yeerks are the misunderstood variety... for the most part. They are basically blind, sapient slugs who only take hosts to compensate for their biology. Only those in power and those seeking power can be said to be really evil, as most of them are either swept up in the propaganda or afraid to challenge superiors.
    • The Taxxons suffer from Horror Hunger so overwhelming that any wounded will be quickly devoured by their brethren, and if they go too long without food they will eat themselves. Eventually the entire species Mode Locks themselves in morph just to escape it.
    • The Hork-Bajir were peaceful, none-too-bright herbivores until the Yeerks wanted them as shock troops. Many were abducted and turned into hosts, and the remainder were wiped out in an attempt to deprive the Yeerks of hosts (which failed, as the Yeerks already had enough for a viable breeding population).
  • The House elves in Harry Potter have a physiological compunction to serve and be ordered around by other species. There is a big element of Happiness in Slavery, but it's clear that most House elves outside of Hogwarts are viciously abused and mistreated.
  • David Brin's Uplift saga has humans themselves. Most aliens despise or hate them as an upstart rogue species that never had a proper upbringing, but even in-universe a few view them as The Woobie.
  • Discworld: Of all the intelligent humanoids on the Disc, Fantastic Racism may hit the goblins the hardest - they face poverty and social marginalization wherever they live, and in many areas aren't legally considered people and can be murdered and enslaved with impunity.
  • The Nephilim of the Hush, Hush series. Their entire purpose is to be tracked down by fallen angels and be Mind Raped into spending the rest of their lives in the service of said fallen angels. Said service consists of the fallen angels possessing their bodies for two weeks out of every year, and using them for physical sensations that are usually sex. While the Nephilim are still conscious in their possessed bodies. Also, Word of God states that Nephilim become immortal and frozen at the age they are when they are forced into the service of fallen angels, so they get to look forward to an eternity of this treatment.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The obscure species known as the Evocii, the original inhabitants of the planet that would come to be known as Nal Hutta. The Hutts conquered them, stripped them of their rights, and polluted their planet so badly most of them become horribly deformed, and what's more unlike a lot of oppressed species such as the Chevs and the Nikto, they don't even get a happy ending under the New Republic, as it's implied that the Yuuzhan Vong killed them all during their conquest of Nal Hutta.
    • No matter the time period, Wookiees are almost always being enslaved en masse or killed to the point of extinction. Even during times of relative safety the wider galaxy still views them as primitives or musclebound thugs.
  • Mistborn:
    • The kandra, once you get past the squickiness of how their powers work note . Victims of extreme Fantastic Racism from humans who fear and/or are squicked by their abilities, the only way they survive is by creating a Contract that allows individual kandra to rent themselves out as servants to powerful humans, who often abuse them horribly (since, as the kandra Ten Soon notes, you can beat a kandra to death at night and still have them ready to serve you next morning, so long as you give them new bones). Oh, and their ancestors were human, and the process used to transform them leaves them open to mind control by an insane, nihilistic god.
    • The koloss are a Jerkass Woobie species. Created by the Lord Ruler to act as shock troops, koloss are humans who have been transformed into enormous, mentally-stunted berserkers. Only able to experience two emotions, apathetic and enraged, they vaguely remember that they were once human and still should be, but no longer know exactly what that was like. Like their "cousins" the kandra, they are also open to being controlled by the same dark god.
  • The Oompa-Loompas in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory were this once upon a time. This tribe of unusually Little People comes from Loompaland, a Death World where they were constantly at the mercy of carnivorous beasts. They found some protection from them by building a Tree Top Town to live in, but they still faced a lack of palatable food for themselves — they subsisted primarily on mashed green caterpillars — and more than anything else they craved cacao beans, which were virtually nonexistent. When chocolatier Willy Wonka came along and offered them the chance to live in his chocolate factory and enjoy all the cacao beans they wanted in exchange for serving as his new workforce, they didn't hesitate to take him up on the offer!
  • Imminent Danger And How To Fly Straight Into It features the Claktills, small friendly beings whose Suicidal Pacifism meant they didn't resist when the Rakorsians came to destroy their planet. They escaped its destruction, but have since become favourite victims of the Ssrisk, who exploit their pacifism by using them as slave labour and pets. The Psilosians have tried to help them, but the Claktill are now stuck on run-down Psilosian ships wandering through space without a home, slowly being picked off by criminals and still unable to defend themselves.

    Live Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The planet of the Tivolians is the most conquered in the galaxy. However, after one of them sacrifices an innocent person in attempt to save themself, the Doctor notes that they're also one of the oldest races in the galaxy. "Your cowardice isn't quaint, it's sly."
    • Cybermen are people jammed into metal life support suits, stripped of all emotion (supposedly) and sensation, with no goal other than converting more people to Cybermen. The original Cybermen from Mondas were ordinary people who went the Transhuman route to try and save their species from the degrading conditions on their world, but because Cybernetics Eat Your Soul they no longer recall why they did this to themselves and now seek only to survive and propagate their "species".
    • The revival series frequently attempts to portray the Daleks as a Jerkass Woobie species, deliberately designed to feel nothing but hate for all other life and having no purpose other than extermination.
    The Doctor: Sealed inside your casing. Not feeling anything, ever, from birth to death, locked inside a cold metal cage. Completely alone. That explains your voice. No wonder you scream.
  • The Kamen Rider franchise is quite fond of applying this trope to a number of its villainous factions, particularly in the Heisei era. You can generally tell if a series will use this trope if one or more of the main characters is a member of the villainous factions' species. Notable examples include:
    • Kamen Rider Faiz: The Orphnochs are humanity's next evolutionary step, but in order to achieve this step, most Orphnochs will have had to have die once, and to make matters worse, all Orphnochs suffer from an extremely limited life-span that can only be fixed if the Orphnoch King corrects their genetic deformity which also prevents them from being able to assume a human form again. While most Orphnochs are depicted as wanting to live in peace with humanity, many are coerced by villainous Orphnochs into attacking humans lest they themselves be targeted, and when their existence becomes known to the public? Humanity attempts to exterminate them.
    • Kamen Rider OOO: The Greeed are Homunculi born of pure desire, created by a King 800 years ago. Their creation involved 10 Core Medals which contain their essence, but the King removed and destroyed one Core Medal from each set, thus resulting in an innate desire within the Greeed to fill the gap that is the loss of their tenth Core Medal. Existing as a Greeed is depicted as having an extremely distorted experience of reality, and as their very nature is to desire their lost Core Medal which had already been destroyed, they are quite physically incapable of ever achieving any sense of satisfaction, even if they were to possess the other 9 of their Core Medals.
    • Kamen Rider Drive: The Roidmudes are a species of android designed by a scientist by the name of Dr. Banno. Banno corrupted the Roidmudes by influencing them with negative human emotions, thereby forcing them into conflict with humanity. With no means to reproduce, their numbers dwindle as the series goes on, and their eventual extermination is treated as a tragedy that could have been avoided had Banno not abused them. note 
  • The Narns in Babylon 5 and the Bajoran in Star Trek exists to fulfill this trope. They both represent oppressed and exploited peoples, cruelly invaded and enslaved by more powerful alien forces, fighting harshly for regain independence and suffering many setbacks in the reconstruction of their home worlds once freed. Producers of

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Eldar of Warhammer 40,000 are more of a "Jerkass Woobie Species", but after their ancestors birthed the god of depravity which destroyed their empire they're a Dying Race, scattered into tiny pockets and inevitably falling into extinction as they're killed off by the ludicrously hostile galaxy. And after they die, said depravity god is waiting to claim their souls.
  • To some extent, the Pathfinder version of halflings tends to be this : way too nice for their own good, often working for humans and easily taken advantage of, even enslaved on a wide scale in half the nations where their population is significant. No wonder most halfling adventurers tend to be of the Guile Hero type, with racial bonuses that truly help with that.

    Webcomics 
  • The gods of The Order of the Stick created several humanoid species in horrible living conditions so they could serve as experience fodder for the clerics of Player Character races. As the goblin high priest Redcloak puts it, they were betrayed by their creators the moment they sprang into existence.
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    Western Animation 

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