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Woobie / Harry Potter

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Let's face it: Harry Potter is one DEEP, DARK PIT crawling with woobies.

  • Harry himself has a pretty horrible life.
    • Firstly, his early childhood is not nice. He's orphaned at the age of one, and has to live with an aunt and uncle who are abusive at worst and don't give a damn about him at best, endures constant bullying from his cousin, his cousin's friends and his uncle's jerkass sister, all because he has magical abilities. It got to the point that when he stayed at the Burrow, i.e. a wizard house filled with all manner of fascinating magical stuff for the first time, the thing that came as the biggest shock was the fact that everyone he lived with liked him. The narration when Molly hugs him after Cedric's death really hammers home just how neglected Harry has been for his whole life:
      Harry had no memory of ever being hugged like this, as though by a mother.
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    • He goes through a huge amount of trauma at the end of Goblet of Fire. First he's assaulted and nearly murdered, and witnesses the pointless murder of a friend, by a fully resurrected Lord Voldemort... and then, while he's still reeling and vulnerable, another villain gets Harry alone under the guise of helping him, and promptly attacks him.
    • Then, in Order of the Phoenix, he spends a year being called a liar and an attention seeker for telling the truth about Voldemort's return, before he loses Sirius, the closest thing he's ever had to a parent.
    • In the final two books, he has to deal with the pressure of being The Chosen One. Harry's an innocent teenager who carries the world on his shoulders. All the grief of losing every single person he loved. Of being fated and knowing you have to battle the greatest dark wizard of all time. Seeing your friends die around you. No one should have to go through those horrors, but he did, and he has a heck of a lot more coming.
      • This is really driven home in the last book, when Harry arrives at Hogwarts and is searching for the last Horcrux in a frantic race against time to defeat the Big Bad and prevent anyone else from being killed, but it's right then that everyone he loves shows up at the school and basically volunteers to throw themselves into a meat grinder just to buy him more time. He then has to watch his friends die left and right as they fight the Death Eaters, knowing that they're dying for him. And then promptly has to sacrifice himself in order to render Voldemort killable. He gets better from that at least.
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  • Severus Snape may appear to be an unlikable Jerkass at first. But when readers learn more about his past, they can't help but feel sorry for him. He was bullied constantly by Harry's dad and his friendship with Lily was permanently ruined when he called her a Mudblood. He also unintentionally sold Lily to her death by telling Voldemort the prophecy. He always missed Lily even after all this time.
  • Remus Lupin. His argument with Harry in Deathly Hallows was woobiedom encased in a few lines of dialogue. How can anyone not feel sorry for a kind, fair-minded, good-natured bloke shouting about how their in-laws are disgusted at his marriage to their daughter; how he feels he's dragged his wife down; how most people he meets can barely look at him and how his unborn child must always be ashamed of him, all because of his lycanthropy? Then add to that the notion that being a Werewolf is more or less treated as having AIDS, and that Greyback - the werewolf who bit him - purposely goes after children because he's just that demented. And to top it off, JK Rowling kills both him and his wife, leaving their newborn child an orphan- and well, kind of a woobie too.
    • Not to mention that he didn't have any friends at all until age 11, when he made 'three great friends'... who he automatically assumed would abandon him if they ever found out his secret. They didn't, but he still lost them all, one by one. Making it worse is that one of them betrayed the others.
    • Let's be honest, the whole lycanthropy thing; he was horrifically maimed at the age of four and then forced to turn into a murderous creature every month for the rest of his life. To make it worse, the transformations were so painful that the place he transformed in came to be known as the most haunted house of the country due to the amount of screams that came from it.And then there's the whole Fantastic Racism thing, too. And the reason why he was targeted in the first place? Greyback heard his father talking insensitively about werewolves so Greyback decided to give him a taste of what werewolves were like.

  • Let's not forget Andromeda Tonks. She loses her husband Ted Tonks and a couple of months later loses her daughter and son-in-law in the same battle. And she's expected then to care for her grandson by herself (Well, with some help from Harry) in all her presumed grief.
    • Let's not forget the loss of her sister as well. They might've hated each other, but there'd still be a bit of sisterly connection from Andromeda, surely?
      • Given said sister was the one who murdered Andromeda's daughter, after gunning for her specifically for at least a year, that probably just makes things even worse. How terrible would it be to feel even a scrap of grief for your own child's killer?
  • And then there's Sirius, whose entire life has basically been a total hell for him. His parents were pureblood supremacists who disowned him after he ran away, and though he had a few happy years at Hogwarts, he shortly loses James, his best friend. And then Sirius gets betrayed by another friend, who frames him and gets him imprisoned in the worst jail imaginable with no trial and the whole world thinking he's an evil murderer. Then he gets stuck in the place he hates most, Grimmauld Place, feeling trapped and utterly miserable. To top it all off, on his first real outing in over a year, he is killed by his cousin Bellatrix.
  • Neville Longbottom, who's spent most of the series getting mocked, cursed, beaten, battered, and having his parents' misfortune thrown in his face. He has to visit his insane parents. And listen to his grandmother talk constantly about how brave they were, which reminds him how far they have fallen, and sets an almost impossible goal for himself to be at least as good as they were. Which, by the way, he actually manages in the end! A Heartwarming Moment is when she says how proud of him she is.
  • Poor Luna Lovegood who enjoyed being in the D.A. because "it was like having friends". And she's not even sad or angsty about this — she's just completely accepted that she will probably always be a social outcast and never experience true friendship.
    • The scene in book 7 when Harry sees the portraits in Luna's room was a powerful woobie tearjerker. Basically, the five closest people to friends she's got are Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny and Neville who all think she is a bit bonkers, but the thing is they don't make fun of her and treat her with respect. I mean Hermione is there, and she and Hermione don't really agree on anything!
  • The House Elves! Every one introduced was an immediate woobie, from their species' history to their eventual fates.
    • Hokie is thrown into Azkaban for a crime she did not do.
    • Kreacher is used and abused by Voldemort and had to deal with the loss of those who cared for him.
    • Dobby is abused by The Malfoys and dies an early (if heroic) death.
    • Winky is cast out by her owner after failing to look after Barty Crouch Jr.
  • Hagrid constitutes as a woobie- forever a bit of an outcast, loses his mother and his father before he's 16, gets expelled unjustly, and supposedly never even gets together with Madame Maxime. He got sent to Azkaban for several months simply because the government wanted to look like they were doing something, and he was a suspect.
  • Dumbledore is a near woobie. Loses most of his family early on, then one of his best friends/crush turns out to be a real monster, and is basically isolated by his intelligence for a century and a half until he is killed after being tortured by drinking a toxic potion. One that forces him to relive all his worst memories.
  • Poor, poor Molly Weasley. She lost two beloved brothers in the First Wizarding War. She eventually came to basically adopt Harry Potter (a fellow woobie), and due to being involved in his life, had the following tragedies occur: Her daughter was possessed by Voldemort himself and nearly killed in her first year at Hogwarts, Her husband was nearly killed by Voldemort's pet snake, one son was nearly killed by werewolf, and another son (implied to be her favorite) totally cut himself off from the rest of the family. In the seventh book alone, she has to deal with George nearly dying, Fred REALLY dying, and having absolutely no idea where Ron, Hermione, and Harry (the latter of whom she essentially considers family) are for most of the book. In the Fifth Book, it is shown that her greatest fear is dead family members, so the entire last half of the series must have been absolute hell for her.
    • Then, in a mix of Tear Jerker and Moment of Awesome, Molly completely snaps at Bellatrix Lestrange and kills her for mockingly threatening to kill Ginny right after Fred dies. Awesome, yes, but still extra woobie points right there.
  • Moaning Myrtle. Killed by a monster, constantly bullied before and after death and forced to haunt the bathrooms forever. And no-one could ever hug her, because they'd just go right through her. She is somewhat better off later in the series, though.
    • Oddly enough, Myrtle actually seems to parody this trope somewhat. She's a legitimately tragic character, but not only is she incredibly whiny, she actually tends to whine about things that have absolutely nothing to do with her past tragedies. She also tends to snap rather viciously at people for even subatomic offenses.
  • Pius Thicknesse. Under the Imperius Curse throughout his term as Minister of Magic. Imagine achieving your lifelong dream only to be Not Yourself and a Mind Raped slave.
  • Draco Malfoy goes from Jerkass to Woobie in the sixth and seventh books. For the first five he's a solid Jerkass, but in the sixth he becomes a Death Eater. However it's pretty obvious that Voldemort is using him to get revenge on his father Lucius, and knows Draco will likely die trying to complete his "mission" which is to kill Dumbledore. Draco breaks down, but survives the mission thanks to Snape, but then his whole family is embarassed in the first chapter of the seventh book, he's forced to witness tortures and murders, and he's even forced to torture other people. One of his goons dies horribly in the Final Battle, and he nearly gets attacked by his fellow Death Eaters. It gets to the point where even Harry, who absolutely hated Draco for six books, starts to feel bad for him and wonders what sick crap Voldemort's going to put him through next. Draco definitely isn't a nice guy, but it's hard not to feel bad for him in the last book.
  • Merope Gaunt is probably the most pathetic character in the whole series. She only wanted to be loved and Bob Ogden, who she only met for a few minutes, and Mrs. Cole, whom she met in about the last ten minutes of her life, may well be the only people to ever treat her with anything resembling kindness. Her family abused her and the local townspeople thought she was a freak. Consider nearly everyone else on this page has at least someone they're friends with or is at least decent to them. Merope crossed the line by effectively date-raping Tom Riddle, Sr. into marrying her, but at that point you really couldn't blame her if she decided Humans Are Bastards and went on a murderous rampage.
    • Her son was more than happy to take up that particular task.
    • An essay that further explores Merope's woobieness.
  • Tom Riddle Sr is definitely an example. He may not have been a particularly nice person, but he found himself first attacked by Morfin for being a Muggle, and then drugged and raped repeatedly by Merope. When she finally had the decency to release him from her control, Tom understandably fled, only for the child he conceived with Merope to blame him for his hellish childhood in the orphanage and murder Tom Sr and his family in an act of revenge.
  • Ginny Weasley has a very, very bad first year.
    • There's also the Valentine's Day chapter, where Ginny, freshly free from the diary temporarily, pours her heart out to Harry via dwarftelegram only to be humilated in front of her entire class when said Dwarf pins harry down in front of them, along with Draco and Percy. It's a miracle Ginny didn't go running back to the Diary right then and there.
  • George Weasley in the final book. First, his ear is cut off by a stray curse, then his twin, partner in crime, and best friend Fred is tragically killed in the final battle. He lives, but must go on physically and emotionally maimed for life.
  • Professor Trewlaney in OOTP. Harassed by colossal Jerkass Dolores Umbridge for no other reason than she has the authority to. Fired and humiliated in front of the entire school. Forced to leave her only home (though Dumbledore does help her out on the last one). Emma Thompson's performance borders on Tear Jerker.
    • Even Professor McGonagall who has criticized her subject again and again feels sad and comforts her.
  • Hermione Granger. Her first half year she was completely shunned. Not only that, but she also has to memory wipe and ship off her own parents knowing full and well that her chance of survival is slim. She's the one who has to keep the group together, despite everything they go through. Especially after her scene in Half-Blood Prince, crying with Harry, you just want to pick her up and just hug her forever.
  • Regulus Black. Turns out he was a good guy in the end, and he was killed for trying to destroy the locket Horcrux. However, Sirius only ever knew him as a jerk and a Death Eater. Which is sad.
  • Filch might qualify. While he's an extremely unpleasant and vindictive individual, it's pretty horribly apparent that his life sucks. We learn in the second book that he's a squib. So he's an outcast, wizards never treated him as an equal and he was probably mocked as a child. As an adult, he works with young wizards who continuously show off their magic in front of him and he's deadly afraid that one of the kids discovers his secret and makes fun of him. Oh, and apparently, his only friend is a cat. Who gets petrified for several months.
  • Ron Weasley is normally the series Chew Toy, rather than woobie - his repeated embarrassments stemming from his lack of money, being Overshadowed by Awesome, or both, are typically played for laughs (along with his tendency to react with deadpan snark). But the funny Chew Toy moments are increasingly interspersed with serious ones as the series goes on, and eventually leading to a heartbreaking scene in book seven when the horcrux spins his lifetime of self-doubt and insecurity into a nightmarish hallucination, bringing Ron perilously close to crossing the Despair Event Horizon. He manages to resist and destroy it, but is a complete wreck afterwards. When the guy who normally tends to brush things off with snark or self-deprecating humor, instead breaks down sobbing in anguish? Yeah, his woobiedom temporarily went off the charts.
  • For a while in Books 4 and 5, Cho Chang. Poor girl; her boyfriend died just because he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Her bouts of crying, especially when she began to realize she liked Harry and couldn't figure out if she was okay with that, could very easily have come off as pathetic; given the situation, I'm sure plenty of readers just wanted to hug her.
  • Petunia Dursley for the Jerkass Woobie variety. Sure she is crappy to Harry, and he doesn't deserve her taking her issues with her sister out on him, but it's not like she had a nice life either. She grew up in her younger sister's shadow in everything. Her parents fawned over Lily's magical talent, and it's strongly implied that while Lily was pretty, confident and happy, Petunia was plain and insecure. Her envy begins with Lily's magic and admission to Hogwarts to the point that she desperately writes Dumbledore pleading to be admitted to Hogwarts herself, and then again when Lily grows up to happily marry a handsome and apparently very rich James Potter, while Petunia is relegated to depressingly dull life with an idiot for a husband. Then has a magic baby so special that he defeats the greatest villain that ever lived as a toddler, while his mother dies and he is forced on her to care for as a constant, 11-year-reminder of everything he is, her sister was, and that she didn't get to be. Yeah.
  • Professor McGonagall is revealed to be this in her Pottermore-provided backstory. When she had just graduated from Hogwarts, she fell in love with a young Muggle farmer and cheerfully accepted his marriage proposal. However, a combination of knowing what happened when her own father unknowingly married a witch and a Career Versus Man dilemma (for a job at the Ministry she later found out she didn't even enjoy) forced her to break off the engagement without being able to tell him why. After becoming a teacher at Hogwarts, she later found out he married another woman, driving her to tears. On top of that, when she had much later gotten over it, she got Happily Married with an older man, only for him to die only three years into the marriage. As Pottermore puts it, "few people - excepting perhaps Albus Dumbledore - ever realised how much she suffered."
  • Marietta Edgecombe. Sure she sold Dumbledore's Army to Umbridge but she did it in fears that her mother's position in the ministry might be threatened. It's hard to not feel compassion when she's jinxed by pimples that spell SNEAK on her face that, while not permanent, left her face badly scarred.
  • The Gringotts Dragon. Dear God the Gringotts Dragon! The poor thing is locked up in Gringotts bank for who knows how long, guarding a vault against its wishes. In order to keep it from fighting back, the Goblins trained it to associate a certain noise with pain (a distressingly realistic method of animal abuse) so that it will back down everytime they approach it. Once it's freed by the Trio, it goes on a very satisfying rampage and escapes with them in tow, but has a very tough time getting up into the air, further illustrating just how horrid the conditions it lived in were. Did we mention the fact that possibly because of those conditions it's completely blind?
  • Pottermore gives us Angus Buchanan. He was a Squib in an intensely conservative wizard family. Out of fear he would be estranged from his parents if they found out, his siblings spent eleven years fabricating magical potential for him. He made it all the way to the Sorting Hat (a feat unprecedented and unmatched) before being exposed, causing him to flee Hogwarts in humiliation. When he returned home, his father proved his fears well-founded and disowned him at the age of eleven. Fortunately for Angus, there was nowhere to go from there but up; he eventually became a successful rugby player, reunited with his beloved siblings, brought attention to the plight of Squibs everywhere, and became one of the few people to achieve fame in both the Muggle and Wizarding worlds.


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