Given the setting of where the franchise takes place at and the killers tend to be sympathetic ones, more than a few of the characters could really use a hug right now.
- Kiyotaka Ishimaru (a.k.a. Taka) is one of the most morally good students at Hope's Peak Academy, being a kind, albeit Hot-Blooded youth who is one of two victims in Case 3 of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. His life begins with his family's damaged reputation, resulting in Taka finding it hard making friends, instead focusing on becoming a model student to restore his family's honor. Hope's Peak scouted him and tried to avoid the other students. He started opening up to people when Makoto entered the academy. Like the other students, he was sealed within the academy, and also had his memory his academy time there prior to Makoto's arrival, to spare him the tragedy of losing his family, unaware that Monokuma(controlled by the real Junko Enoshima) infiltrated the school and murdered the headmaster. The other students see him found him an annoyance at worst, and hot-blooded at best. After a dare with Mondo Owada, with Makoto being too afraid to stay out of fear for their lives, Taka makes his first real friend at Hope's Peak and completely breaks when Mondo is convicted of Chihiro Fujisaki's murder, and subsequently executed by Monokuma. Kiyotaka even risked his life by voting himself as the culprit rather than Mondo. After that, he ended up completely mute until one day, he found out about Alter Ego. After taking parts of Mondo's personality (as in Kiyondo), Kiyotaka vowed to protect and apologized to Alter Ego for his master's death. Unfortunately, this caused Hifumi to grow jealous and kill Taka. When the murder was discovered, Taka even ends up forgotten, even by the one who vowed to bring his murderer to justice. The only one who didn't forget was Hina.
- Makoto Naegi was literally Born Unlucky. He has the worst day ever before he receives an invitation to attend Hope's Peak Academy, which sounds like the opportunity of a lifetime...only to then be thrust into a killing game with 14 other students. The girl he has a crush on dies after attempting to frame him for murder, the other students almost get him wrongfully executed, and to top it all off, when he and the five survivors finally escape, the outside world is revealed to be a hellhole of despair. Yet in spite of it all, Makoto remains a forgiving Nice Guy, still believes the best in people and encourages his friends not to lose hope. He's such a believer that Rousseau Was Right that when given the chance to kill the fanatical followers of the person who put him and his friends through hell, he instead decides to give them all a second chance through rehabilitation in the Neo World Program. It's no wonder he earns the title of Ultimate Hope.
- Aoi Asahina, also known as Hina, hangs out with fellow tomboy and MMA master, Sakura Ogami, whom many people, Kiyotaka included, thought was a guy at first until they found out her gender. Hina starts off as a talented swimmer until the apocalypse outside Hope's Peak Academy and the headmaster sealed her inside along with the other students. She woke up two years later forgetting of the times she got to know everyone, and at first, forgets Makoto's name, forcing him to repeat it to her three times. Hina was one of the people who didn't think Makoto killed Sayaka, as she found out Sayaka was planning to kill someone. She finds out her family was killed with possible including of her little brother who looked up to her but is one of the only students to never commit murder or be a victim. She does, however, discover Alter Ego after a mental breakdown of not wanting to kill anyone. Chapter 4 utterly breaks her as she finds out Sakura seemingly killed herself because of the surviving students, and blames them for her best friend's death, attempting to commit Suicide by Cop by misleading the investigation and getting everyone killed. However, she does feel horrible for this when Monokuma reveals Sakura's real intention was to stop them from killing each other. In the bad ending, she ends up giving birth to the children of Makoto, Yasuhiro, and Byakuya living in fear, but deluded happiness, being the only surviving female. In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, she is supposedly murdered but survives as it was just a prank one of the antagonists played on her. Ultimately, despite being seemingly bubbly and cute, she's got a tough exterior but weak interior, and like quite a few of the class, is very tragic.
- While Toko is the type of girl who is antagonistic and assumes the worst out of everything, she has very little self-esteem from being bullied and she has a Split Personality in the form of Genocide Jill, making it seem she was just trying to push people away from her.
- From the manga, Celeste can be one once it talks about her having a Dark and Troubled Past of her growing up as a Generic Girl who has zero people to love and once she discovers her talent, she does everything to be viewed as "special" even going into darker parts of her personality. While it is unsure if the Dark and Troubled Past is truly canon or not, some dialogue in School Mode in the game's re-release seems to back it up, and Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls takes it even further where the thing that she loves most happens to be a freaking cat.
- Mondo Owada was the teenage biker gang leader and the Ultimate Biker. His story first begins when he was younger, unwittingly causing his elder brother: Daiya Owada, to die in a traffic accident while motorcycling, sacrificing his life so that Mondo could live. As he became biker gang leader, Mondo was constantly judged and criticized for not being his brother, being weak, and not being the leader the gang deserved. Yet, despite all the criticism thrown his way, he still carried on. Sometime before the events of the first game when he was attending a different school, Mondo met the young computer genius, Chihiro Fujisaki. He grew fond of the young prodigy and hung out with him and Leon Kuwata. During the Killing Game, after a dare with Kiyotaka Ishimaru, the Ultimate Moral Compass, he began to respect him and the two became friends. One night, vowing to become stronger, Chihiro unknowingly caused a bit of PTSD by asking Mondo to train him. In a fit of rage, Mondo beat Chihiro over the head with a dumbbell and before he knew it, Chihiro was on the ground, dead. Wanting to keep Chihiro's secret about actually being a guy a secret, as a man-to-man promise, he changed the carpet from the girl's locker room and the bloodied poster and moved it all to the girl's locker. He then tossed Chihiro's e-Handbook into the sauna as his also broke when it was exposed to high temperature. During the trial, when cornered by Makoto Naegi, Mondo admits everything much to Kiyotaka's surprise and horror and gets executed by a motorbike in an electric cage which somehow turns him into butter. In the end, despite his brash exterior and rough attitude, he was really a pretty cool guy underneath it all.
- For all the work Kyoko puts into convincing Makoto of her dislike for her father, her reaction to the family photo leaves him unconvinced. When he sees her later on, she calls their heart-to-heart discussion on her regrets surrounding his death "rambling" (though the fact she was even willing to openly ask for his help with this issue marks some pretty serious Character Development).
- Sayaka is a huge Stepford Smiler whom despite being very cheerful, ended up having a crippling fear of being forgotten and abandoned which stems from her workaholic father and always being alone.
- Chihiro has absolutely zero self-confidence and became a Wholesome Crossdresser in a desperate attempt to no longer be bullied for not being manly enough.
- Matsuda gets introduced as a massive asshole who treats Ryouko terribly, even though there are hints he does care about her. Then we learn the full deal concerning him: that he was trying to protect Ryouko from herself and was ultimately his own girlfriend's Unwitting Pawn, and he gets incredibly depressing.
- Izuru is the result of the Kamukura Project. His backstory is pretty nasty, what with the "no memories, human experimentation, framed for the student councils' murders" bit, but that's not what qualifies him for this. The scene of him in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School crying over Chiaki's body, having finally remembered her, but moments too late, is what does. Because everything else, he gets over. He never, ever gets over that.
- Mikan arguably has the lowest self-esteem out of all of the characters, is Prone to Tears, spends a long time being bullied, and honestly believes that Junko Enoshima loved her. She is also implied to come from an abusive household, and bursts into tears when the Ultimate Imposter pays her a compliment in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School because it's the first time someone's been nice to her. She was brainwashed by Junko and was subjected to more abuse, which, because she's been brainwashed, she happily accepts.
- Kazuichi and Hiyoko. The former is actually a bullied Shrinking Violet who only does Jerkass stuff just because he believes it's what "cool" people do. The latter (assuming that she is telling the truth) has had to live a terrible home life where her father went mad protecting her and has her going through deadly sabotage attempts.
- Peko lived her life thinking that she was Fuyuhiko's tool after she was abandoned by her family. The fact that she thought that she killed Fuyuhiko during her execution came across a huge Tear Jerker.
- Monomi has to cope with every single student distrusting her, as well as Monokuma abusing her and forcing her to watch the killing game inside the island.
- Teruteru just wanted to make sure his ill mother was alright. And once he learns about Nagito's true nature, he wanted Nagito to be taken care of before he attempts to kill somebody, only for him to commit a Murder by Mistake with killing the Ultimate Imposter by accident instead. While he is very much hated by the fanbase, learning about his motivation for the first murder was enough for his haters to feel bad for him. In addition, if you cue in some Fridge Horror, there is a very likely chance that Teruteru's mother is not alright, as she could have been killed by Despair!Teruteru.
- AI Chiaki became one after she committed murder just by pure accident. She then makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save her fellow students and proceeds to be executed, despite never really intending to kill anybody in the first place. It's taken up to eleven in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School where, despite Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair never indicating that AI Chiaki was based off a real person, it is revealed that the reason for AI Chiaki being present in the first place was that there actually was once a real Chiaki Nanami. She was the students beloved class rep who was the victim of the series' first ever execution. Being forced to watch her slow, bloody death at the hands of Junko Enoshima broke the class so horribly that they fell into despair and became the Remnants of Dispair. Ostensibly, the reason AI Chiaki was even created in the first place was because, in addition to being the reason the class fell into dispair, she was the one who had brought them all together as friends prior to everything going to hell.
- Hajime dreams about getting into Hope's Peak Academy, but when he does, it was because he became a reserve course student who has zero talent whatsoever. He didn't enjoy getting into Hope's Peak Academy like that, and he wanted a talent and escape from his second-class status so badly that he went through a human experiment that erased his personality, leaving behind a broken, bitter man completely bored with existence (specifically, the above-mentioned Izuru Kamukura), leaving no trace of the cynical but good-hearted Hajime left. Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School ended up turning Hajime into more of a Woobie character. He feels incredibly unworthy of his Love Interest (the human Chiaki), and when some of his classmates are murdered, he gets beaten bloody by the school's security for trying to find out what happened to them. His parents are implied to be emotionally neglectful of him, if the split second shot of their consent to the Kamukura Project is any indication. And when he goes through with the Kamukura Project, hoping to make himself someone he can be proud of, he's erased from existence and replaced with a new persona.
- In Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, Mahiru attempts to be kind to Natsumi, who bullied her in middle school and sees her as a somebody to get rid of just so that Natsumi can be in the main course. At one point, Mahiru attempts to break up a fight between Natsumi and Sato, only to nearly get hit by Natsumi. You get to see her trembling in fear. And once Nastumi and Sato die, she's later seen sobbing that she was not able to stop the conflict between those two girls.
- Gundham Tanaka has a Friendless Background in which the only people that seem to care about him is his deceased mother and his animals. He is also implied to be born out of wedlock, causing him to be rejected out of both sides of the family, and he is actually very lonely beneath his dark overload persona.
- Nekomaru Nidai was born with a heart defect so severe that he was told he wouldn't live past 20. Constantly bedridden and making frequent trips to the hospital, he was never able to join PE or play sports and was teased a lot. Part of the reason he became a sports manager was to emulate his friend Daisuke, who had the same condition as him, but died before he could see his team succeed.
- Fuyuhiko could also be viewed as sympathetic, as Chapter Two of the game was not kind to him. He found out that his sister was dead and he watched Peko, who he had feelings for, be executed for something she thought was her Just Following Orders. You actually see him run in to try and stop the execution, only to get his eye accidentally slashed out.
- Sonia, Akane, and Nagito could all be considered Iron Woobie characters, with some Jerkass Woobie traits for Nagito. Sonia just wants to be normal and hates seeing her first ever friends kill each other, Akane living a life of poverty who even stated the Funhouse (aka a place without any food inside it) was a palace compared to her old home, and Nagito's extreme cycle of "immense bad luck, immense good luck" has made entire life a Trauma Conga Line with what he considers very little reward.
- After Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, the entire cast as a whole can be considered to be Woobie characters since they were brainwashed into becoming members of the Ultimate Despair after watching their beloved class representative be brutally tortured to death by Junko Enoshima, they've committed the worst sort of crimes imaginable, They all murdered their own families, and they can't return to general society after taking the fall for the final killing game. The whole class could be considered this even before the third main series. At the end of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, after already going through the total hell of a mutual killing game, they find out the horrible truth behind why it happened. They had been lead to believe that there was a "world ender" foundation trying to destroy the world and that said foundation was responsible for the killing game. In reality they were the Remnants of Despair; the personal lackeys of Junko Enoshima and were responsible for the widespread destruction of the world and every sort of crime imaginable. Not only that, they all murdered their own families. The "World Ender Foundation" was actually the Future Foundation, which was created to fight them. In addition, the mutual killing class trip was actually a virtual simulation all along. Makoto, who believed that they could still be saved, hid them from the rest of the Foundation and placed them into the simulation in the hope that they could be returned to their pre-dispair selves. The only reason the killing game happened was that Junko Enoshima infiltrated the simulation as a computer virus and hijacked it.
- Komaru was trapped inside an apartment for about a year with zero idea that the world has ended. When somebody finally set her free, she ended up being invited to a bigger nightmare in which she would rather be trapped inside her apartment again. Cue Monokuma robots and murderous children trying to go out of their way to kill her. She could use a big hug after the game.
- All of the Warriors of Hope have to live a life with Abusive Parents, making them all very sympathetic people, especially Nagisa. Hell, even Monaca can be viewed as a Jerkass Woobie since she was born out of wedlock, abandoned by her mother, had her brother and father never accept her, and had her brother physically abuse her out of a resentment complex.
- Natsumi (who is a reserve course student like Hajime) has even lower self-esteem than Hajime. She wanted to have a talent so badly that she made up her own talent as the Ultimate Little Sister because she believes that she is unworthy of being around her brother if she is unable to have a talent of sorts.
- Juzo felt left behind by the romance between Chisa and Munakuta. He has Undying Loyalty towards Munakuta, which leads Munakuta to seemingly kill him in Episode 9 of Side: Future. And the reason for Munakuta killing Juzo is because Junko knew that Juzo was gay for Munakuta, which she used to blackmail Juzo in Side: Despair: he told Munakata Junko was innocent, or she'd tell him his feelings. He grudgingly goes along, which caused Munakata to believe he was a Remnant of Despair once the truth of Junko being evil came out. And after Juzo survived Munakuta's attempted murder towards him, he sacrificed himself in order to end the killing game once and for all to have Munakuta be safe.
- Munakuta lost both his girlfriend and his best friend. His girlfriend also turned out to be a Brainwashed and Crazy Remnant of Despair who has been slowly corrupting him into becoming a Knight Templar. For added fun, he killed the aforementioned best friend out of paranoia that he was also a Remnant of Dispair. Despite Munakata wanting to ask Juzo for his forgiveness after he finds out that his friend actually survived the attack, he's too late, as Juzo had already bled out moments before he reached him. His only consolation is that he died with a smile on his face and that Makoto had previously told him that Juzo was the one who shut the final killing game down. By Side: Hope, he is the only survivor to have a complete Downer Ending, which became one of the many complaints of Side: Hope.
- While Ruruka came across as a bit of an Unintentionally Unsympathetic Alpha Bitch, she has terrible self-esteem to the point that she committed suicide in a very brutal fashion. It is very telling of how much she hated herself.
- While the way Izayoi treats anybody who is not his girlfriend is not exactly the best thing in the world, it's hard to not feel bad for somebody who was killed by their lover. Especially since that said lover (Ruruka) previously said Izayoi was the only person she trusted.
- All Seiko wanted was to be friends with Ruruka even in her final moments.
- Ryota, somebody who has been bullied in the past, just wants to spread hope across the world by creating anime. Too bad that Junko used that anime for her to brainwash his classmates into becoming members of the Ultimate Despair. One of them, a good friend of his, also attempts to rape him after being brainwashed. Then, a man Ryota trusts organizes a killing game of their co-workers so that he can mentally and emotionally break Ryota into committing mass brainwashing upon the world. This kid can't catch a break.
- While some of the members of the Hope's Peak Student Council are more sympathetic than others, people should feel bad for a bunch of scared kids as they are being brutally killed.
- Where do we begin with Human!Chiaki? Spends most of her life alone and lonely until she attends Hope's Peak, at which point she meets her boyfriend, makes a bunch of friends, and forms a close relationship with her teacher. And then it all goes to hell. First, her boyfriend disappears (for reasons mentioned above). She spends a year waiting for him to return. When he does, as Izuru, he tells her to her face he doesn't remember her. Then, in systematic order, she inadvertently leads her friends to their dooms on a failed rescue mission, is betrayed by her Brainwashed and Crazy teacher (the person they went to rescue), goes through the most brutal death in the franchise, and dies cursing her uselessness in front of Izuru, who still doesn't remember her. And all she wanted to do is have friends to play games with.
- Himiko Yumeno. The poor girl does not take the killings well, especially the deaths of Tenko (who was implied to have a crush on Himiko), Angie (her best friend), and Gonta (pretty much a big brother to her). And yet she still manages to soldier on to the end.
- Maki Harukawa is an unpleasant Jerkass in the early parts of the game, but after her backstory and real nature is exposed, it's very hard not to feel sorry for her.
- Miu Iruma explicitly says that she was inspired to become an inventor and help people after she was finally able to wake up from a coma, which alone explains her "while you sleep" series very well. She also knew full well her decision to kill Ouma and graduate was wrong, but she was acting out of the genuine belief that, with absolute confirmation that the world had gone to absolute shit, that she was needed to help people. Her prioritizing her life over her classmates is selfish, yes, but her motive was one of pure altruism and in flashback she seemed to still genuinely regret her decision before her death. There is also the fact that she is actually a Reluctant Fanservice Girl when push comes to shove and has surprising moments of shyness when she drops her brash persona.
- Ryoma Hoshi is a self-loathing Death Seeker who is implied to be suffering from depression. Come to his video in Chapter 2 where it was completely empty, showing that nobody really cares about him in the outside world, causing him to lose his will to live and allow himself to be murdered by Kirumi. It's a huge Tear Jerker to think about in itself, but it gets even worse when you realize that he used to have a family and a girlfriend who were murdered by the mafia, which ultimately caused him to use his talent for murder.
- Kaede Akamatsu. She set-up a trap that was intended to kill the mastermind, but they used that trap to kill somebody else and frame Kaede for it. Believing she was the culprit of that murder, Kaede urges Shuichi to reveal she is the killer to the others, and feigns resistance to make it more believable for them.
- Kirumi, after her story was told. According to her motive video, she was appointed as the prime minister for Japan. An "unprecedented crisis" ended up happening in her country and she needed to go back by killing Ryoma. Many students went out of their way to state they would rather have Monokuma execute them instead of her and encouraged her to escape the school, even though Kaito and Kokichi called her out on her The Needs of the Many utilitarianism.
- Gonta Gokuhara is a Gentle Giant who just wants to be useful to the rest of the group in some way, but can't quite figure out how. While exploring a virtual world in Chapter 4, he ends up crossing the Despair Event Horizon after learning about (what is supposedly) the state of the outside world, which ultimately leads to him deciding (with some persuading from Kokichi) to Mercy Kill everyone else by murdering Miu and winning the game. Unfortunately, Gonta had gotten two wires he was supposed to plug into his virtual headset before entering the virtual world mixed up, and so when he logged out, he was unable to recall anything that happened in the virtual world. He's horrified when he finds out what he did, and is unable to understand why he did it.
- Kaito Momota is also one to an extent. He's Secretly Dying from a mysterious illness for most of the game, and doesn't remember when he got sick. He keeps going on as usual even as the symptoms gradually get worse, hiding his condition from the rest of the group. During the fourth chapter, he's forced to realize the flaw in his outlook and faith in his friends when he refuses to believe that Gonta is the culprit of the fourth case. In the fifth chapter, he ends up killing Kokichi (with his permission) in order to prevent Maki (who had shot Kokichi with a poisoned arrow) from being executed.
- Kiibo. First of all, he has little social skills and little capacity to understand a lot of things normal people say making it easy for people to mock him. Then, there is his backstory. When Professor Iidabashi was severely injured, Kiibo blamed himself for it, since he believed he broke the First Law of Robotics, and eventually killed himself. He came back, but as a blank slate, having lost all of his memories. Everything he knows prior to the incident came from Iidabashi. There is also the fact that he is an Unwitting Pawn, as he was completely unaware that he was built to serve as the killing game's first-person camera until the mastermind revealed it in the last trial.
- Shuichi Saihara. He is very insecure about his talent since he mostly solved murder cases out of luck, though he becomes more confident in his detective skills throughout the game. By the time he makes it to the final trial, his Implied Love Interest and Big Brother Mentor have both died, and he has suffered from Heroic BSoD after the former's death. While he does uncover the mastermind's identity, he learns that he auditioned to be a part of the killing game out of boredom and that everyone's personalities were entirely fabricated. This ultimately pushes him to the Despair Event Horizon, all the way to the point where Tsumugi almost emerges victorious.