- The Deus Ex franchise has many examples of this, on account of the universe being a Crapsack World. In the original game:
- Done deliberately in the second mission. All of the residents of Battery Park are homeless and designed by the developers specifically to tug at the player's heartstrings. The first character you meet in the park (after Anna) is a young boy who begs for food, another inside Castle Clinton does the same (and is fearful of the troops), a sick woman asks for credits and another man begs JC to put him out of his misery because he's suffering from the Gray Death.
- Sandra Renton. She's the daughter of Gilbert Renton (the owner of the run-down 'Ton Hotel in Hell's Kitchen), and her life is pretty much a disaster. Prior to the agent meeting her, she had a job killing rats in the hotel and had an extremely poor relationship with her father. When the player first meets her, she's being pimped out by a local man named Johnny, who the player can choose to threaten or kill to get him off her back. In spite of this, she's distrustful and cold towards the agent. The next time she's seen, she's arguing with her pimp, Jojo (an NSF commander), who JC can kill. Depending on the player's choices, Gilbert can be killed early on in the game, leaving Sandra at the mercy of Jojo (who awkwardly tries to comfort her before threatening her to get back to work), or if her father is given a weapon by the player but JC kills Jojo, she yells at the former and runs away. If her father dies in front of her, she cries and still runs away. The next time you see her, she's homeless and huddling with two other people outside an MJ12-run gas station, having been robbed and left without a ride while hitchhiking.
- Lucius Debeers. The former head of the Illuminati... reduced to a Human Popsicle, sitting alone in a hidden room in Morgan Everett's safehouse and being misguidingly led to believe he's still running the organization. His stories for JC are more tragic than anything, and it's clear that both Everett and his staff regard Debeers with no more than mild interest for his mind. When the player tells him that he's nothing more than a figurehead, Debeers begs to be put out of his misery, even going so far as to scream for you to do it if you wait long enough.
- And then there's Gary Savage. The first time you meet him, you can hear from his associates that his wife was assassinated by MJ12 just prior to the events of the game. He and his staff have been forced into hiding (and into a stalemate situation) when Page's troops raided Vandenberg and took several scientists hostage. Faced with few options, he sent his only daughter on a retrieval mission to get parts for the Universal Constructor... only for her to get immediately captured. Gary is threatened by Page, and if JC doesn't intervene in an appropriate fashion, Tiffany will die, leaving him heartbroken over his failure to protect her. And that's not even getting into his cameo in Human Revolution, where (depending on your choices) his girlfriend could be gassed to death after Burke initiates a containment protocol to stop the evidence in Rifleman Bank from being leaked.
- Deus Ex: Human Revolution:
- The man himself, Adam Jensen. The game begins with him hopeful over his girlfriend's presentation to Congress about augmentation technology, but this quickly goes south when Sarif Industries is attacked, most of the scientists are killed by assassins, Megan is (presumably) killed and he's beaten to within an inch of his life. Adam's employer upgrades him with augmentations against his consent, and he spends the next six months stewing in self-doubt (including breaking several mirrors and drinking heavily) because of his failure to protect Megan and the others. When he gets back to work, he's still harboring guilt for Megan's disappearance when her mother comes to him for help investigating the case. There's also the fact that he still harbors guilt for an unnamed incident, the "Mexicantown Massacre", that happened years earlier, and apparently resulted in him refusing to shoot a young boy, SWAT intervening, and him being forced to take out his commanding officer after he's attacked. By the end of the game, Adam finds Megan... only for it to be revealed that she was in league with the enemies all along (and may have been in a relationship with the lead mercenary), and she willingly goes to work for Bob Page at the end of the game.
- Evelyn Carmichael. From the brief time we get to know her, she's an emotionally-beaten woman. In the Fallen Angel novella, she's forced to watch while her co-pilot, Faridah Malik, goes on a suicidal run to escape Belltower Industries and is presumably shot down, and is threatened by Belltower security never to reveal what she heard or saw. Her hotheaded boyfriend, Lee Hong, physically and verbally beats her and eventually kills her via a hit from a giant wooden clock, and he would have gotten away with it had Malik and Jensen not intervened.
- Hoo boy, Wayne Haas. When you first meet him, Haas has been busted down to a clerk position in retaliation for his involvement in the Mexicantown Massacre, and he harbors a deep grudge against Adam for allowing him to shoot a young boy (which caused distrust among his superiors). When Adam barges in and requests access to the morgue, Haas angrily lashes out at him, and unless you absolve him of his sins, he refuses to allow you inside. If he does, he gets yelled at again and is fired, leading him to seek revenge by attacking Adam in the lobby of the latter's hotel. Adam can choose to either knock him out, kill him or offer him a job with Sarif Industries. Haas is appreciative... until the next time you see him, where you find out that because he became security for Sarif, he received the augmented Tai Yong chip, went to Panchaea and became crazed because of Darrow's signal, forcing the player to knock out or kill him when he appears.
Woobie / Deus Ex