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Woobie / Literature

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[All four visiting New Republic pilots have been given nicknames by the natives. Tycho is "the doleful one".]
Tycho: I'm not sad.
Wes: No, but you look sad. Makes the ladies of Cartann's court want to comfort you. They're so sad about wanting to comfort you that you could comfort them.
Hobbie: And Tycho the only one of us with a successful relationship with a woman. Missed opportunities, Tycho.

Literary characters who suffer so sympathetically that they make readers empathize and want to comfort them.




  • Alex Rider. Starts the series as a perfectly happy, if somewhat unusual kid, then by the end of the year his uncle is dead, he's gone through horrific situations that no adult should have to go through, let alone a child — his housekeeper, the only person he's always loved and trusted, is blown up as he's Forced to Watch, and he ends up as a Shell-Shocked Veteran. At the age of fourteen.
  • In the All American Pups series, Rosie. She's thrown out of a car in her first appearance, then makes a long trip to get back to her owner, only to find her house condemned and empty.
  • Animorphs:
    • Tobias starts the series out as a skinny, blond-haired loser Jake saves from bullies... and Jake is the closest thing he has to a friend, despite the fact Jake thinks he's weird. His parents are dead, his only two relatives fight over which one of them HAS to have him. He then gets trapped as a hawk by the end of the first book. The worst part is that he honestly feels his new situation is an improvement. Stuck fighting an alien invasion involving thousands of conspirators with only four human kids while trapped in the body of a redtailed hawk and fighting the instincts of the hawk to retain his own humanity is a step UP for him. Then, he falls in love with the strongest, most confident member of the team, who helps him get through the times when Woobiedom seems a bit too much, and she dies. He's notably very cynical, at best, in the epilogue.
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    • Also, Alloran. He was described as having once been a decent kid that loved to play jokes. But fighting the Yeerks for years resulted in him growing increasingly hardened and cynical. If that's not enough, he is imprisoned in his own body for years.
  • Enzo, the narrator of Garth Stein's The Art of Racing in the Rain, is a dog. A wonderful, clever, lovable dog with a ridiculous capacity for empathy and a master whose life is (most of the time) a cavalcade of misery. Also, Enzo announces that he's dying of old age. In the first chapter.
    • What about his owner, Denny? The guy just cannot catch a break. Enzo sums it all up pretty well here:
      '' Imagine this. Imagine having your wife die suddenly of brain cancer. Then imagine having her parents attack you mercilessly in order to gain custody of your daughter. Imagine that they exploit allegations of sexual molestation against you; they hire very expensive and clever lawyers because they have much more money than you have. Imagine that they prevent you from having any contact with your six-year-old daughter for months on end. And imagine they restrict your ability to earn money to support yourself and, of course, as you hope, your daughter. How long would you last before your will was broken?
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  • Poor little Vardaman from As I Lay Dying. Those five words and it's obvious he needs a big hug and maybe a foster family.
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation Series: In "The Mule", sympathy is deliberately [Invoked] by Magnifico, who is a persona created by the Mule, for the purpose of infiltrating the Foundation. Bayta Darell is immediately sympathetic to his plight and appearance. He tells her about the physical and emotional abuse he's suffered at the hands of the Mule, and begs their help in escaping Kalgan. She only stops feeling sympathetic, "motherly" in Toran's words, once she realizes that Magnifico is the Mule that they've been running from.
  • At the beginning of the Aubrey-Maturin series, Patrick O'Brian's Stephen Maturin has already been through disillusionment with the world, along with the death of all his friends and the girl he loved. He goes on to get his heart broken again, gets tortured by the French, struggles with opium addiction, duels a man over a woman, during which he accidentally kills him, gets nearly fatally wounded, and insists, as repentance, on removing the bullet from his ribs himself without anesthetic, and is generally scorned for being Catholic and illegitimate. And that's just the first three books. Out of Twenty.
  • Kyle from Beastly goes here by the end of the story. He quickly abandons hope of anyone loving him, but he does really love Lindy and want her to be happy. Because of this, and though he continues to wish she'd refuse the offer and stay with him, he lets her go home to her father, with an open invitation to return to him as a friend instead of a prisoner. When she doesn't come back, he believes she secretly hated him and resigns himself to a life alone. And to top it all off, on the night he's going to be stuck a monster forever, he gets a vision of Lindy being dragged off by a shady drug dealer who's implied to want her for prostitution. He goes to save her and is fatally shot in the process, after a subway full of people see him and call him a monster. He refuses hospitalization and decides to die in an abandoned warehouse, just so he can spend a few more minutes with her. His last thought before dying is that at least Lindy's safe and that he wants just one kiss from her before he goes. Fortunately, he just makes the deadline and turns back.
  • Berenice from the homonymous novel by Tessa Korber. Before the novel started, she suffered on a big, incredibly difficult trip to Babylon, only to be greeted by his brother Leonidas brutally scolding her. Then she gets sexually abused by Eumenes and Diocle, gets sent to Egypt where she must cope with two brash Amazons poking fun at her all the time, barely survives a battle against some rebels, gets sent to a city in Phoenicia and then towards an ice-cold fortress in Armenia, becomes Eumenes' sexual toy for a while, and then, while on her way back to Egypt with Diocle and Eumenes, her boat is raided by pirates.
  • Ginger from Black Beauty. Abused by nearly all of her owners before Squire Gordon bought her, and then just after she decided it was okay to trust humans, she was sold to a vain owner who tortured her (and Beauty, who is also a woobie) with a rein so tight she couldn't breathe while she was wearing it. It's little wonder Ginger ended up going crazy after a few months of that, and the next (and last) time we see her, Ginger's next progression of owners have treated her so badly that she's completely worn down, physically and mentally, and hoping that her owner will be merciful enough to just shoot her. He doesn't; he just works her to death. It's one of the most powerful depictions of animal cruelty in literature, and by God, it works.
  • Ray Bradbury's "All Summer In A Day": Since moving from Earth, Margot really misses the sun. On Venus, the sun only comes out for two hours in a seven-year period. A bunch of jealous children lock her in a closet, causing her to miss th period of time that the sun is out. There is one glimmer of hope, though: in the following year, she might return to Earth.
  • Surely Sebastian from Brideshead Revisited counts? His family betray him, Charles betrays him, Kurt gets taken from him by the Nazis and he falls from being a beautiful and lively young man to a hermetic hanger-on at some backwater monastery, with plenty of alcoholic misery in between.
  • Oscar from The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. He goes through every damn misery a kid can go through in New Jersey AND the Dominican Republic. His mother and his grandfather go through much of the same. Well, at least his grandfather doesn't have to live in New Jersey.
  • Astrid Lindgren (in The Children Of Noisy Village) has a little boy who's even younger and weaker than Lotta (the little girl), and it is stated that she can beat him up easily. When she's asked why she hits him, she explains: "Because he's so cute when he cries."
  • Ilyusha from The Brothers Karamazov: the son of a poor shipping captain who is beset upon by the protagonist's older brother and humiliated throughout the town. All he wants to do is restore his father's honor. He does this by biting the protagonist in a fit of passion, but we later learn he's not so bad (and not rabid). This is exacerbated later on when he dies from an incurable disease and then his father, the previously-mentioned shipping captain, goes insane from grief at the boy's funeral in a scene so horribly depressing it could drive jaded misanthropes to tears. Thus Dostoevsky kills off one Woobie and makes a Woobie out of the father. Poor bastard.
    • In The Idiot, there's Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin, the titular idiot, an ill boy - he has epilepsy - and the only genuinely nice character in the book. People he encounters either fleece him, make fun of him, or feel sorry for him. Dodgy creditors steal his money, Rogozhin tries to stab him, a libellous article is published about him in a local paper, he's forced to choose between two very temperamental women, one of whom ends up dead, and to top it all off, he collapses into insanity and is sent back to Switzerland.
  • Trini from A Brother's Price. Her father was poisoned, she was raped and beaten by her husband, got no sympathy from her eldest sister who loved the husband, lost half of her sisters in the same incident that mercifully killed off her husband, and then her remaining sisters are angry with her for not agreeing to marry again.
  • The titular character from Stephen King's novel, Carrie. It's bad enough that her religiously insane mother is always tormenting her - but, at school, she is constantly being tormented by the other students. Even when, after being humiliated at the prom, she goes on a killing spree - it's hard to feel anything but sympathy for her.
    • A mention should also be given to Brian from "Needful Things". Poor kid.
      • Followed by Nettie Cobb. Too bad she dies. Also, Norris Ridgewick.
    • Subverted with Alice Maxwell, from Cell. She starts out as a woobie, after losing her mother in one of the most emotionally scarring ways imaginable. After taking a while to recover from this, during which she nearly has a psychotic break, she gradually heals, and becomes an endearing character in other ways. She plays a major part in blowing up a field of sleeping zombies with a propane truck. This is a book where Anyone Can Die, so...
  • The Chaplain from Catch-22, who is constantly accused of doing things that he didn't do and doesn't have the courage to stand up for himself.
  • The biggest woobie in The Cat Who is actually a Posthumous Character. A farmer in the late nineteenth century, he braved the massive wildfire that had reached his house to save his two children—but by the time he found them, one of his arms had burned off and he could only save one of the kids—and he had to choose which one.
  • Elinor M Brent-Dyer's Chalet School series has its fair share. Notable examples include:
    • Jacynth Hardy, a Shrinking Violet whose parents are dead, and whose aunt makes many sacrifices to ensure Jacynth gets a good education. While Jacynth is at the Chalet School in Gay from China, her aunt goes into hospital for surgery, knowing there is a good chance she won't make it out alive. She doesn't, and Jacynth has a breakdown. Luckily, Jacynth has Gay Lambert and her family to look after her.
    • Margot Venables, Jem's sister, has one of the saddest stories in the entire series. Her family disowned her for running off with Stephen Venables, who turned out to be an abusive alcoholic and a total waste of space. Three of her five children died young while the family were living in Australia, and Stephen also died of a snake bite. She and her two surviving children, Primula - who had health problems - and Daisy, left Brisbane to go and live with Daisy's old nurse, Nellie Rickards, who took care of them and let them live with her. Nellie later died of pneumonia, and it was only thanks to plans she had made before her death - and a very kind solicitor - that Margot was able to sell the house. On Nellie's instructions, she took her daughters to find Jem, as she had learned through the papers that he was married and living in the Tyrol. When Joey and Frieda meet her and the girls in New House, she's exhausted and about ready to give up, and on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Her health never really recovers, and she dies a few books later.
    • The Robin, to the point of being Too Good for This Sinful Earth, without the dying part. Her mother dies of tuberculosis and the Russells and Joey, who act as a surrogate family while her father is abroad, constantly fear for her health. Her father dies in a climbing accident, and she has a couple of serious health scares. Her health does improve as a young adult, but she is still somewhat frail and has a major relapse after doing social work in a poor area of London.
    • Naomi Elton in Trials, whose parents were killed in a car crash. The same car crash also left her unable to walk properly and in constant pain, and she had to give up her dreams of becoming a ballet dancer. In Naomi's case, she's also a Jerkass Woobie as she is constantly unfriendly towards the other girls, though Mary-Lou eventually manages to befriend her.
  • Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol begins the book as a Jerkass and ends it as The Woobie. Which goes to show that even woobification can make a decent plot, provided that you write it well enough.
  • Codex Alera has a couple: Araris Valerian and Rook. Araris spends most of the series getting kicked around in various ways, some of them very painful (at one point he disembowels himself) and badass as he is, he still ends up needing to be saved several times. His backstory is superlatively woobieish, and he can't even catch a break when acting like a helpful but seriously brain-damaged slave; even Bernard snaps at him. Not that you could tell from how he acts. Rook, on the other hand, is the head of the intelligence service for Lord Kalare, and though she hates him and would love to turn on him given the opportunity, can't because he's holding her daughter hostage. So she has to continue to work against the people who have become her friends during her time undercover, and doesn't even have the consolation of being able to cry about it, since that could make them suspicious. And, when it looks like the poor woman is finally going to get some peace, Gaius drags her back into service and she gets killed by the Vord Queen.
  • Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The Tower of the Elephant" managed the impressive feat of turning an Eldritch Abomination into one of these. Yag-kosha was once a member of a race of beings from beyond the stars that journeyed to Conan's world after being outcast from their own world by their kings, and lived for many, many years, seeing a lot of the history of the world of that time, and dying one by one until only Yag-kosha was left, the Last of His Kind. He was worshipped as a god by the Khitans until he was found by Evil Sorcerer Yara, who wanted power, and who eventually tricked him into divulging a secret he had not meant to bare, turned the being's own power against him, and enslaved him. Over the course of three hundred years, Yag-kosha was tortured, blinded, horribly abused and made to serve the sorcerer's evil will, and such was Yara's utter cruelty that Yag-kosha was not even allowed to kill himself to be freed from his centuries-long torment. When Conan found Yag-kosha in the title tower, after revealing the above to the young thief and warrior, the creature bade Conan release him from his agony, in the only way a being like him could be released, as part of a "last gift and a last enchantment" to finally destroy his tormentor.
  • As hard as it may seem to believe, what with his habit of killing people and all that, but The Da Vinci Code's Silas is a Woobie. A passage in the book tells us of his background, and it is revealed that his Father was deeply ashamed of his son's albinism, blamed his Mother for it and beat her often, eventually killing her when Silas was seven. Silas was so guilty that he'd allowed it to happen that he killed his Father, before running away. Due to his appearance the other runaways wouldn't accept him, leaving him alone on the streets for years and years, growing into adulthood, never shown any affection, if people noticed him it was only because they were scared by the way he looked. After killing a docker who'd reminded him of his Father, Silas was sent to a prison where he was, again, rejected and taunted by his peers. He was able to break out when the prison was destroyed, and spent several days running, delirious with hunger and exhaustion with nowhere to go, until he finally collapsed. Upon being rescued by Bishop Aringarosa, he was overwhelmed with gratitude because it had been the first time in years and years that anyone had shown him any kindness, and Aringarosa had to name him, because he'd forgotten his real name, remembering only the insults he'd had to endure all his life. You can't blame him for being a touch unhinged, really.
  • Jamie from The Demon's Lexicon. Let's see, a timid guy who just wants everyone to get along, unhappy at home, miserable at school, marked for possession by a demon, hiding the fact that he's a magician, who in this 'verse are more or less Always Chaotic Evil...and his only friends apart from his sister are a Knife Nut and a Consummate Liar. Nothing ever goes right for Jamie. The boy needs a hug per chapter. At least.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Poor, poor, tortured, ignored, adorable, Greg Heffley.
  • Terry Pratchett:
    • Manages to turn Death, of all peop- Anthropomorphic Personifications, into one of these in Discworld.
    • Cheery. Under that beard and helmet, she's a mass of need, and you love her for being so stoic about it all.
    • Also Rincewind. His status as the Chew Toy is played for comedy, but you still really want to give him a hug and a potato set him down somewhere quiet to sort rocks or something.
    • Gaspode is up there too. All his backstory that we get in Men at Arms, The Fifth Elephant, Moving Pictures; He may be a smelly, mangy, infested, toothless mongrel, but you still want to give that little dog a sausage and a warm place to sleep.
    "I mean, look at the start I had in life. Frone inna river inna sack. An actual sack. Dear little puppydog opens his eyes, look out in wonder at the world style of fing, he's in this sack."
    For weeks he thought the brick was his mother.
    • Tonker and Lofty from the book Monstrous Regiment are Woobies played straight.
    • There's also Twoflower after Interesting Times. Before then he's just your standard-issue Pollyanna-style Butt-Monkey.
    • Vimes, all through Guards! Guards!.
      • There's also Night Watch Discworld where he's displaced in time, fighting a war he cannot win to protect men who, if they survive, will be living proof that he has no home to go back to, but he can't stop fighting because if he doesn't, he's not Sam Vimes.
    • Taken up to eleven with Nutt. So tortured, so hardworking, so incredibly messed up, it almost seems like Glenda's main purpose is to reassure the reader that, even if they can't reach into the book to hold his hand and feed him pie, there's someone already in there who will.
    • Also Coin, in Sourcery. Nine years old and raised to be his father Ipslore's mind-slave, when all he really wants is to be a good kid and not have to kill people. And then we find out how Ipslore encourages him...
  • Divergent:
    • Four. He's actually an Abnegation transfer named Tobias who left because his father, Marcus, constantly abused him.
    • Al is arguably the biggest one in the entire series. He didn't belong in Dauntless from the get-go and only joined to make his family proud, when he clearly belonged in somewhere like Amity. His entire initiation experience is agonizing and terrifying to him, and he grows more and more distant until eventually, when it's clear that his only choices are factionlessness and death, he joins with Peter and Drew in their attempt to murder Tris, regretting it immediately afterwards. It gets worse when Tris coldly rejects his pleas for redemption, despite being fully aware of his mental state and the intentions behind his actions, which leads to his suicide.
    • Tris, by the end of the first book. During initiation, she is bullied, verbally harassed, and sexually assaulted for being a "Stiff", becomes a victim of attempted murder, drives one of her friends to suicide, watches her entire world and society crumble around her, is forced to shoot one of her best friends (who was mind-controlled), loses both of her parents, and is nearly shot and killed by the boy she loves (who was also mind-controlled). Her mental state continues to spiral downwards in Insurgent, to the point where she is nearly Driven to Suicide in the Candor Headquarters, and only holds back because she thought it would be ungrateful towards her parents, who sacrificed their lives for her. She also turns herself in to Jeanine without any escape plan, and the text makes it abundantly clear that she actively wants to die at this point.
  • The Dragonlance novels bring us Tanis Half-Elven, who due to his product-of-rape half-breed status is supposed to inspire Woobiedom in our minds, but the general consensus is that didn't work out too well. Broke knight Sturm Brightblade more fits the bill, being dedicated to the old codes of honor and justice (to the point of heroic death) in an age where such beliefs are antiquated and the knighthood is more a band of organized, well-armed bandits... except that Sturm is so resolute, it's almost like he won't let you consider him Woobie. Raistlin Majere has the long line of misfortunes - illnesses that stack, parental abandonment/loss, being the world's UnFavorite compared to his healthy, handsome twin, and more - but is generally so unpleasant about it that it's hard to empathize. (Not that it stops the fangirls, though.)
    • Caramon, Raistlin's twin, is distinctly Woobieish despite being the strong attractive type, due to a lifetime of devotion to a brother who spends 99.9 percent of the time belittling him, and the fact that even friends treat him as though he's mentally challenged despite it being shown that, away from his old situations, Caramon is actually a magnificent leader of men. (Not Raistlin-level genius, but he's got Charisma.)
    • Tasselhoff Burrfoot is a Woobie for many after Flint's death— if they aren't the ones who find him The Scrappy.
    • Dragonlance also gave us perhaps the first dragon woobies. First came Matafleur, also known as Flamestrike, an ancient red dragon who had fought for the Dark Queen in the previous war against the forces of light, and who in the War of the Lance was assigned to guard the children of the slaves of Pax Tharkas, to guarantee the good behavior of their parents. An evil monster, right? Except that her own children had died in the previous war, and she had gone mad, and now believed that the human children she was supposed to be guarding were her own children, whom she loved and protected. In fact, when Highlord Verminaard and his dragonmount Ember tried to attack the children during the escape attempt, Flamestrike laid down her life to save them. The other example was Pyrite, the most ancient gold dragon, and perhaps the most ancient dragon period, in the entire world. So ancient, in fact, that all his teeth had fallen out, forcing him to live on a diet of oatmeal and other soft, high-fiber foods. He was also almost completely deaf and almost completely blind, and he was senile, constantly thinking that it was still the last dragonwar and that he had to protect the long-dead Huma. The fact that they are both so powerful physically only makes these two dragons even more woobieish.
  • Many of the characters from Dubliners can be classified as this; the most notable two are poor Eveline and Little Chandler:
    • The former was constantly bullied by her father, and when she finally got the chance to escape to New York, she felt too paralyzed to leave.
    • The latter on the other hand, wants to explore the world outside of Ireland, like his friend, but he already started a family with a woman who hates his guts; it's hard not to want to give the poor guy a hug when he cries in regret!
  • Ender, in Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card: bullied his entire life for being a walking talking violation of the population control laws (even if he was born legally,) he ends up killing two other children in self defense while still only a child himself - because the adults who were supposedly protecting him were afraid giving him any sort of help would make him less useful. By the age of twelve, despite having any number of followers who would gladly walk through fire for him, he's isolated and alone, with no one he could call a friend. He went to war to protect his sister at the age of five. When he finally sees her again at about age 10, on a trip allowed by the IF specifically to remind him he has something to live for, he has this conversation:
    Ender: And I remember that you were beautiful.
    Val: Memory does play tricks on us.
    Ender: No, you look the same. I just don't remember what beautiful means anymore.
    • At this point, you just wanna hug him and never let anything bad happen to him.
    • Bean, expanded on in the Ender's Shadow series, almost has him beat. Raising himself on the streets from infancy, he was "adopted" by an older girl named Poke after he helped her crew get protection and food. His reward is to see the protector he got for them kill her and throw her body in the river. He runs to the IF to escape this guy...only to find the kid has followed him there. He learns he has a brother...but they have to split up after the war for their own protection. The chaos that earth dissolves into after the buggers are destroyed. Discovers he is the product of genetic engineering that will kill him in his late teens to early twenties. Starts to fall for Petra only to have her taken by the same damn psychopath that killed Poke. He rescues her and they attempt to have children together...only for the psycho to steal the embryos too. He ends the series flying off on a relativistic flight in the hopes that the time-stretching effect will mean by the time he gets back (if he gets back) his condition will be curable.
  • Erast Fandorin ascends to Woobie at the end of the first novel and never quite leaves the spot. Favorite Great Detective as Benevolent Boss? Killed for betraying him. Beloved first wife? Blown to pieces on the day of their marriage. Best (and only) friend? Killed in the second novel. Greatest love of his entire life? Lost to him in Diamond Chariot. Respected Old Master? Murdered before his eyes. Devoted Battle Butler? Repeatedly ends up in near-death situations. As one character once mentioned: he is "loved by things but hated by fate".
  • It's not as apparent in the movie, but if you can read through the Novelization of Escape from New York and not see Snake as a Woobie, for your own sake, check to see if you have a pulse.
  • Evanjalin/ Isaboe from Finnikin of the Rock. She fucking witnessed and felt every person from her country who has ever felt pain- all the tortures, rapes, murders, sicknesses and hungers, from the victims viewpoints, the witnesses, and sometimes the perpetrators.
  • V. C. Andrews:
    • Carrie in Flowers in the Attic and the sequel, Petals on the Wind. Has severely stunted growth from being locked with her siblings in an attic from age 4 to age 8, her twin brother is effectively killed with arsenic-laced donuts by their mother, she is friendless and tormented at boarding school, finally gets a chance at happiness with a fiance in a Throw the Dog a Bone moment only to feel so unworthy because of the fiance's religious zeal (he wants to be a minister) that she commits suicide. The worst part? Just before Carrie dies, her older sister has a talk with Carrie's fiance and finds out he has given up the idea of being a minister, specifically because he saw Carrie was uncomfortable with it, making Carrie's suicide feel like a Shoot the Shaggy Dog moment.
    • Celeste: Always The Unfavorite, her father dies, so does her twin brother, leaving her alone with her crazy mother who forces her to take on her brother's identity, and she is at most 9 at this point. Her mother mistreats her horribly to maintain this delusion, she's never allowed to even go out, she's raped repeatedly by the only non-related person she knows who blackmails her into not telling, she isn't allowed to act as mother to her own daughter, the stepfather she grew to love dies, her stepsister is evil and Celeste accidentally kills her, and her mother, the only link the world she's ever had, dies, leaving Celeste completely alone and with no idea how to live in the world. Is it any wonder the poor thing goes insane?
  • Frankenstein's monster. He might look scary, but the poor guy's just really lonely. He starts out innocent, but society's mistreatment turns him into the monster they believe him to be. Among other things, he gets shot for saving a girl from drowning. His part of the novel makes Victor look like a completely pathetic douchebag.
  • Jonas from The Giver. The poor guy eventually starts to break down, when he realizes that he can't express the new things he knows and feels to his friends or family. His best friend becomes impatient with him after inadvertently triggering Jonas's memory of dying in a war and brushes it off when Jonas tries to explain why he's upset. Jonas's parents scold him for using imprecise language when he asks them "do you love me?" And then, he finds out that his father-a kind man who Jonas always thought of as being good with kids-cheerfully euthanizes babies who don't measure up to the community's criteria. Even worse, he learns that his dad has every intention of doing this to a baby that had been living in their house and who they'd all been bonding with. Jeez!
    • What about everyone else? The fact that they're living in a world where you can't express love has to make you feel sorry for them, even if they don't know what they're missing.
  • The Girl Next Door: Meg and Susan Loughlin go to live with their secluded aunt, Ruth Chandler, after the deaths of their parents. They are subjected to an escalating series of abuse climaxing with Meg getting bound and gagged in the basement, and forced to take punishments reserved for Susan. Meg is beaten, tortured, raped and ultimately given a forced clitorectomy before succumbing from her wounds, while Susan is molested by Ruth one instance of it resulting in her bleeding.
  • Wade Hamilton and Ella Kennedy in Gone with the Wind, who are both abused physically and emotionally by their domineering mother Scarlett- who dislikes both of them equally. She does nothing to comfort or even nurture Wade, when he's traumatized by the aftermath of the war- even to the point of emasculating him when he cries, and even slaps him around at one point. Likewise Scarlett has no sense of love for Ella, whom she views as "ugly" and "dumb," even though it's possible that Ella has an undiagnosed disability (likely Fetal Alcohol Syndrome), and Scarlett even wishes that Ella had died instead of her other daughter Bonnie. Plus in the end, both children lose the only two people who ever truly cared for them (Melanie and Rhett). Poor Wade and Ella never deserved any of the cruelty that their mother had imposed on them, it just make the reader want to adopt and comfort those poor kids so badly.
  • The Great Gatsby himself. He falls in love with Daisy, fools around with her, is not able to marry her because of his financial status, is going to get rich enough for her liking just to have that taken out from under him by a Woman Scorned, earns his money in questionable fashion, and starts living the high life in order to get her find out that Daisy is married. You think that would be the end of that, but Daisy proceeds to encourage him to spend his money on beautiful dresses for her, sleeps with him more, manages to get him to take the blame for a murder just to cover her tracks, and finally is able to convince her to leave her husband. So, naturally, they live happily ever after, right? Wrong. Daisy and her husband don't even show up to Gatsby's funeral.
  • This may not be the best place to put her, but she has appeared in plays and epic poetry, so... Cassandra from Greek Mythology. A gorgeous princess, she turned down the advances of Apollo, who cursed her with the ability to make always-correct prophecies that no one would ever believe. She predicted the fall of Troy, but nobody believed her, and when it actually happened she was brutally raped, in a church no less, by Ajax the Lesser (don't worry, he gets his) and taken as a spoil of war, only for she and her kids to be murdered for no reason by Clytaemnestra.
  • Benjamin Bathurst in "He Walked Around the Horses" by H. Beam Piper. Trapped in an Alternate History, he was assumed to be mad—after all, everyone knows that the American and French Revolutions failed.
  • Dr. Goldpepper from the Galaxy Magazine short story Help! I Am Doctor Morris Goldpepper! A leading dentist, he was lured by aliens, with promises of glory, into servitude to aliens who meant to infiltrate us (maybe just to leech off of us, but maybe with more sinister aims), forced to make false teeth for the (toothless) aliens.
  • Marvin, the Depressed Robot from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Listen to the Image Song: Marvin, I Love You.
  • Honor Harrington was often described as such on the Author's on personal boards. Rape, boyfriend murdered to simply get to her, eye plucked out, missing limbs (and in a world with the ability to regrow 'em she's one of the few rejects them), assassination attacks that use brainwashed friends to do it, has her telepathically bonded pet horribly injured as torture, her feudal subject's children getting blown up as revenge, and the meda making up a love affair with her married boss whose wife is considered a living saint. It was going to get even worse, but the Author was talked out of it by fans.
  • The Hurog duology has several. There is Ward's whole family - his mother is drug-addicted and never quite there, his little sister is unable to talk, and his brother was driven to suicide by their abusive father. (Ward helped him escape after he interrupted the suicide attempt) Then there is Oreg, who is a kind of ghost, but does have a material body. Which can feel pain. He is also a slave to whoever owns the castle Hurog at the time. With all that implies. Garranon takes the cake. Forced to be a Sex Slave to the king when he was a child, he has since tried to keep his family safe by doing everything the king wants. Most of the above-mentioned are genuinely good people, and rarely, if ever, complain, and have a "that's just how it is" attitude about their horrible situations.
  • Dominick Birdsey in I Know This Much Is True by Wally Lamb. The book deals primarily with his struggle with having an mentally ill twin brother but what else doesn't happen to the poor guy? Abusive childhood, losing a parent, a painful divorce after losing his only child, severely injured at his job, an AIDS scare...
    • Dolores Price (later Davies) from Lamb's first novel, the classic Shes Come Undone. Her abusive father leaves her mother, she's raped at thirteen years old before comfort eating her way to obesity. Her mother is then killed by a truck and she goes to college, where she is bullied because she is fat. After that, she witnesses the death of a beached whale and attempts suicide herself, and then spends seven years in a mental hospital. If that weren't enough, she then finds love - with an emotionally abusive idiot, whom she marries, becomes pregnant, and he forces her to have an abortion. Then her grandmother dies... Wally Lamb is very, very good at writing woobies.
    • Also her mother, Bernice, who is abused by her husband, loses a child, is abandoned by her husband, loses her bird, Petey, is forced into an institution herself, and then gets hit by a truck.
  • Scott in the Hush, Hush series. He ended up in serious debt from gambling and only got out after Hank Miller kidnapped him, tied him to a table, and forced him to join the Black Hand. He and his mom moved back to their old town just to escape, and it's shown that he's failing his classes because he's been skipping school to work out, so he can defend himself if Hank ever finds him again. We also see that he blames himself for Nora's father's death. At one point, he has to run away from home and is living in a cave, unable to tell his mother where he is. He later rejoins the Black Hand, even though he's still traumatized, just to protect Nora. Oh, and he's killed in the final fight.
  • In Death: Poor Nixie Swisher from Survivor In Death. Her best friend and entire family are murdered in one night, with only her surviving. That happened because she woke up at night to get an Orange Fizzy, hid when the murderers came in, and the murderers thought her best friend was her. If that makes you feel nothing for her, then you must as soulless as the murderers in this story.
  • Will Herondale from The Infernal Devices, after we find out the Jerkass attitude is due to a curse that anyone who loves him will die. Even more so when we find out that there really was no curse. The demon tricked him by telling Will he put a curse on him, and then killing Will's sister to make it look like it was the curse.
  • Several characters in The Inheritance Cycle suffer a great deal during the series, due to it being set during wartime.
    • Arya and Nasuada are both kidnapped and tortured quite brutally at different points in the series, and Arya's mate is also killed during her capture.
    • Elva might not be the character you'd think about like that given her nasty personality, but think of what made her that way. She got Blessed with Suck to shield people from harm, thus magically being robbed of childhood. All the time, she feels forced to help others and resisting the urge causes her physical pain. The "usefulness" of her powers leads to her being recruited several times by Nasuada and Eragon to take an active role in the war, despite her still being a small child.
    • Murtagh (who is kidnapped and magically forced to serve Galbatorix) and his dragon Thorn, who is magically aged-up, but only in body and magic skills, with the mind of a child, brainwashed and forced to fight.
  • Bertie Wooster. Dear sweet Jesus, Bertie Wooster. He tries. He really does. All he wants to do is help his friends, and he usually ends up the one getting kicked/punched/called an imbecile/blamed for everyone's problems/engaged to a girl against his will/believed to be clinically insane/forced to ride a bicycle 18 miles in the rain and in his pajamas. Granted, this is P. G. Wodehouse's world and misery is never a big deal in comparison to most other works, but you have to remember that Bertie has no shoulder to cry on when he needs one, except for Jeeves (who never gives him one because he usually has a bad-fashion-related reason for giving Bertie the cold shoulder in these instances, one of which comes right off the heels of Bertie expressing that he feels like no one loves him). Add to that Hugh Laurie's eternally puppy-eyed portrayal of him in the TV show and you'd be reaching for a blanket too.
  • The Marquis de Sade's Justine. Sweet, kind girl who just wants to be good, but everyone she meets who doesn't want to beat and/or rape her wants to do something even worse to her, and usually gets to do it. Some say that Sade was trying to make a political point about how the rich and powerful mistreat the poor and weak, but one can't help feeling that he just enjoyed it.
    • Considering Sade's utter hatred of the conventional morality and virtue of the period (considering it little more than a mask for Straw Hypocrite lies) and the fact that one of the subtitles of the book in question is "Virtue Well-Chastised", more likely than not, he did enjoy it.
  • Dillard from Kingdom Keepers. He's a Muggle Best Friend that quickly loses his best only friend once he becomes a DHI.
  • Kurt Wallander. He deals with the anguish due to shooting a man for the first time, suffers when his father goes crazy and eventually dies, then his horrible bitch of a daughter and his even more horrible bitch of an ex-wife visit him and tell him what a failure at life he is. And he just sits there and takes it, looking sadder and sadder.
  • Imriel de la Courcel from Kushiel's Legacy definitely counts. He's sold into slavery and subjected to horrific tortures as a child. Even after being rescued, he still has to deal with being the son of Terre d'Ange's most infamous traitor and the mistrust that comes with it.
  • No mention of Serena Butler from "The Butlerian Jihad" of the Dune books? Despite her brother dying 3 years earlier, Serena finds the loves of her life and is engaged to marry him. She takes a gamble and goes to liberate the planet of Giedi Prime (Which was only overtaken because her fiance overlooked certain security measures in order to get back to her). The plan succeeds at the expense of two of her crew and her capture. She then finds out she is pregnant and is given to a psychotic robot who likes to do experiments on humans. Her son is born but that is the last good part in the book. In the following chapters, her son is murdered by the robot, her uterus is removed and she returns home to find out her fiance married her younger sister. She ends up being killed in order to be made a martyr. Her woobiness bordered on blatant character abuse.
  • Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl". Afraid to go home and face her horrible father after failing to sell any matches, she is reduced to huddling by a wall and striking her matches in an attempt to keep warm. The story ends with her being found frozen to death.
  • Becky, in A Little Princess.
    • Sara becomes one after her father dies. And then there's Ermengarde and Lottie... That boarding school is like a Woobie breeding ground.
  • Beth March. The Ill Girl of the March family, painfully shy around men and more painfully aware of her flaws, and in love with a man who doesn't love her back. And then things go downhill.
  • The title character of Lolita, whose childhood is all but destroyed by the pedophilic Villain Protagonist. Her mother Charlotte Haze arguably counts as one as well.
  • Tolkien's Legendarium:
    • The Lord of the Rings:
      • Frodo may be an example of this trope. With the addition of Elijah Wood's huge, glistening blue eyes to punctuate every moment of pain, The Film of the Book version definitely is.
      • There's also Faramir. His mother died when he was very young, and his father never quite got over it. Denethor also strongly preferred his brother Boromir to him, and went so far as to say, when Faramir asked him if Denethor would rather Faramir had died than his brother, "Yes. I wish that." This messed poor Faramir up so badly that he ended up going out on a suicide mission just to try and please his father. This only succeeds in sending the already horribly distraught Denethor crazy, as he crosses the Despair Event Horizon and tries to have both Faramir and himself burned alive, with Faramir only surviving because of Gandalf and Pippin coming to his rescue. But then, it all turns out all right for him. He ends up as the Prince of Ithilien and as Princess Éowyn's Second Love.
    • The Silmarillion:
      • Tar-Míriel. The rightful queen, her first cousin married her against her will, and then in the final ruin she tried and failed to ascend the hallows.
      • Beren. His homeland has been destroyed in the Dagor Bragollach, leaving only himself, his father and 11 other men to remain as outlaws hunted by Sauron - at least until they're betrayed and everyone but him is slain, after which he spends four more years fighting the hopeless war all alone. But when Sauron sends an army against him he is finally forced to leave the land of his forefathers - through Nan Dungortheb, full of spiders and terrible magic. When he falls in love with Lúthien he is sent on a death sentence Engagement Challenge, gets trapped in a dungeon by Sauron to watch his friends get eaten by wolves, gets his own hand bit off by one, and dies in the defence of Lúthien's homeland. Thankfully things get better for him too, but it takes a while.
      • Elrond, although he appears in all the books, gets a lot of backstory in the Silmarillion, and it's all tragic. His father left for the West never to return and his mother threw herself into the sea. The brothers Maedhros and Maglor decided to raise Elrond and his twin Elros, either as hostages or out of pity, but it is implied that they did come to love the twins, until Maedhros committed suicide and Maglor left, never to return. Then, Elros decided to become mortal, while Elrond stayed immortal, meaning that he would never see his brother again. Elrond's wife was wounded by orcs and had to leave for the West centuries before him, his daughter decided to become mortal like her uncle so she could stay with Elrond's mortal foster-son, and the books leave it ambiguous if Elladan and Elrohir will chose immortality. To summarize, Elrond lost his parents, his foster-parents, his brother, his wife, his daughter, his foster-son and maybe his sons as well. Any wonder he's bitter?
    • The Hobbit:
      • Thrór. Newly orphaned as a boy when his father's kingdom is seized by dragons, he builds a new kingdom where a distant forefather had set up an outpost. Then as an old dwarf, a dragon seizes this new kingdom. He's not right in the head when he attempts to visit his ancestral lands in another mountain range and is murdered.
      • His son Thráin gets driven to folly by the influence of his Ring, and winds up in Sauron's clutches. The Abhorred One inflicts such horrific torture on him that he cannot even remember his own name when Tharkûnnote  finds him.
      • Thorin, Thráin's son, reclaims his kingdom but dies, along with his nephews, before he can rule it.
  • Jochi in Lords of the Bow is picked on by the other kids and suffers the disdain of his father despite being quite possibly the toughest, strongest of them all. It's no wonder so many fans root for him.
  • Rosalind of Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet by H. P. Wood is skating along the edge of the Despair Event Horizon for pretty much the whole book. He's (she's? they're?) gender-fluid in an age where that got you classed as "sideshow freak", and his boyfriend Enzo refuses to understand that. And if that wasn't bad enough, P-Ray (Rosalind's surrogate son) and Enzo are kidnapped and taken to a plague island, P-Ray catches the plague, several of his friends die, and when he's finally reunited with Enzo they're together for about an hour before Enzo gets blown up. He survives, thankfully, but by that time Rosalind has nearly lost it.
  • Maximum Ride:
    • The entire Flock.
      • Nudge's desire to understandably be normal.
      • Gazzy and Angel being sold for 10,000 dollars by their own freaking mother not to mention Angel being tortured at the School....
      • Fang finding out that his mother was a drug addict and having Maya die in his arms.
      • Max having to struggle with saving the world and being betrayed by the people she loves the most.
      • Iggy. At first, being blinded by the mad scientists of Itex doesn't seem to faze him... until School's Out — Forever when he breaks down after the Flock's failure of not finding their parents when he confesses that if he would ever lose the Flock, he would lose himself. Then, after that, when he is finally reunited with his parents, it looks like they will accept him for who he is... until it turns out that they were planning to expose him to the world, basically gaining money from him and not even caring about what he thinks, forcing him to go back to the Flock. Poor kid.
  • The Maze Runner:
    • Newt: Hates every living minute inside the Maze. Has the responsibility of leadership weighing on him. Watched his oldest friends die horribly. Attempted to commit suicide but failed. Is infected with the Flare For Science!. Has to spend several weeks slowly going crazy before being put out of his misery.
    • Teresa: Forced to betray her best friend to save their lives. Said friend refused to forgive her for the rest of the series. Tries to save that friend and gets crushed to death just seconds away from safety.
  • Tad Williams deliberately invokes this trope in the course of characterizing the Big Bad, Ineluki, in his Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy. As his Back Story is revealed to The Hero Simon in a series of dreams and flashbacks, the emphasis goes from what a horrifying monster he has become to the Well-Intentioned Extremist he started out as. In the end, the realization that Ineluki suffered more than any other being in all of creation is the key to his ultimate defeat.
  • Shylock from The Merchant of Venice is something of a villainous woobie whether or not the writer intended it. And if the production is kind to him, Antonio gets his fair share of woobitude in the trial scene.
  • Though you wouldn't think it, Artyom from Metro 2033 is very smart, very naive, and, solely because he lacks a socio/psychopathic streak, he's constantly kicked both sides of the world, like in the Nazi station, he kills a Nazi officer for shooting Vanechka, the mentally handicapped boy a friendly old man was playing father to, and he has a large rope mark around his neck for his trouble. Every two seconds, somebody says "It's up to you now." and he's got to do it, despite being quite scared of the Metro, not as strong as the many people still alive (Natural Selection in the works) and only doing it because he was effectively blackmailed by Hunter,who still shows up every now and then in hallucinations to scare the crap out of Artyom. Plus, it would seem that the Metro itself is actively trying to kill him, as there's often some sort of unexplained noise, or gunfire, or strange phenomena just around the next corner. The worst part, though? There's nowhere else to turn. If he stops journeying to Polis, the Dark Ones will kill everyone in VDN Kh, when he keeps going on he's almost killed every few seconds in a bizarre way, and if anyone wants to reclaim the surface and leave all the weird stuff in the Metro alone, they'll have to cleanse the atmosphere first, 'cause there's a nuclear winter on. Oh, and if Artyom were to die at any point, he'd be absorbed into a hive mind of dead people that must eternally walk the Metro because Heaven and Hell were atomized in an And I Must Scream scenario. Really, at this point, a hug would be like trying to fix all the wounds of all the wars in all of time with a band-aid.
  • Middlesex has Desdemona. Her parents are killed, her village is burned, she narrowly escapes the great fire of Smyrna, and she spends most of her adult life in a country where she feels horribly out of place, wracked with guilt over her marriage. It's no surprise that after Lefty's death, she becomes so crippled by despair that she spends most of the rest of her life in bed.
  • Cosette, from Les Misérables, before Valjean rescues her. After that, she's fine, but before...she's never had anyone be kind to her, she's always dressed in rags and barefoot, even in the winter - working ever since she could crawl (part of this involves making warm, child sized stockings - for her foster sisters) she's never given enough food, she's beaten constantly - even if someone else does one of her chores for her - and she watches other little girls play with dolls, while she works, or if she's very, very luck, gets a break to play with a tiny sword, smaller than her pinky. Plus she's verbally abused day in, day out, and thinks that she doesn't have a mother. She doesn't get love. Also, she's the size of a six year old, for added adorability.
    • When she first meets Valjean, she's outside, in the very, very dark, carrying a huge, heavy bucket, and she's soaked and cold. The first thing she does back at the inn is go back to work - she can't even warm herself by a fire. If that doesn't make you want to wrap her in a warm blanket, and give her the biggest, prettiest doll in the world, you are not human.
  • The Groke from The Moomins. Yes, it looks like a horryfying monster. It is also personification of winter, so it is doomed to horribly freeze for eternity. All other characters ostracize it, beacause it emmits cold and sadness, but it just desperately wants to have friends, and the kindest characters of the series, who understand its horrible condition, are too afraid to talk with it.
  • The Mortal Instruments:
    • Jace Wayland, he was abused as a child and believed for some time that he watched his father die matters only become worse when he finds out that his father did not die but abandoned him and is actually a famous villain in his world, Valentine which means he is siblings with the girl he loves. Because of some mistakes in genealogy, he believed that his mother abandoned him and thought that he was a monster. Later he finds out that he has demon blood in him which would mean he was a monster, though this proves to not be true. Also, he is betrayed by a friend Hodge and handed over to the villain. He was arrested for insulting the Inquisitor, was kicked out of his house and left with no where to go and arrested by the Inquisitor again, who planned to trade him to Valentine for some powerful Shadowhunter relics, and because almost everyone assumed that he had joined the evil side. He is also killed by the man who raised him, though Clary brought him back to life.
    • Alec Lightwood. He's gay and the member of a race of people who... aren't exactly accepting of it. As a result, he's too afraid to come out to his parents. Not only that, he's in love with Jace, who will never love him the same way, and is so hung up on this that he doesn't even notice when a certain warlock does. Luckily, things work out for him in the end.
  • Sarah Monette's Kyle Murchison Booth. Raised by openly hostile foster parents after his father died of a curse and his mother committed suicide, subjected to relentless bullying at school, accidentally caused the death of his best friend, on whom he had a terrific unrequited crush, during a ritual to bring said friend's awful wife back from the dead... and all that's just the impetus for everything that happens to him afterwards.
  • Rick in the Newsflesh series lost his son to viral amplification (i.e., Ethan turned into a zombie and had to be killed) and his wife to suicide before we even meet him. Then in the first book, Feed, he sees the deaths of two close friends, and even the cat he adopts/is adopted by is killed. Then he finds out his wife's death was not suicide over their son's death but was murder, sees a presumed friend (President Ryman) blackmailed via his wife and daughters being held hostage, and is involved in the resurrection-by-cloning of one of the deceased friends from Feed, which took quite a few tries to succeed, so he kept losing that friend again and again.
  • In The Obsidian Trilogy, Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory give us an 18 year old goatherdess named Vestakia. She spend her first ten years living with her mother and aunt in the howling wilderness well away from any sort of settlement. She spent the next four living just with her aunt. The four years after that she lived all alone save for some goats and convinced deep in her heart that any who got a good look at her and didn't try to kill her on the spot were planning to kidnap her and subject her to far, far, worse. Before anyone asks, the people who told her that last bit were neither evil nor insane; for the Prince of Shadow Mountain has occasionally sent his (or rather his mother's) creatures to hunt his daughter down.
  • Oliver Twist. Woobie and Heartwarming Orphan usually go hand in hand, it just seems like poor Oliver is the world's Chew Toy.
  • The unnamed child in Ursula LeGuin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas". Since the utopia named in the title is, for some reason, entirely dependent on this child's misery, the people of the city are forbidden to say even a kind word to it. However, the child has no way of knowing this.
  • Several characters in The Orphan's Tales, particularly the Stars, although the eponymous orphan storyteller is a definite candidate. Itto, the Twin Star falls to earth and deliberately gives away his light so he can live among humans. All he wants to do is build a red ship, and as his materials are stolen bit by bit, a red boat, then a red raft... And then eventually the raft is stolen, he's beaten half to death, and then thrown into the ocean.
    • The knife really slides in when the little fox girl who's heard his tale and helped him die peacefully finds the remnants of Itto's raft. The raft had washed up on a shore and grown into a Ship-Tree, hoping one day he would come and find her. Upon hearing about his death:
    The masthead's face became as soft as wood can manage, and tears of sap flowed down her face. She spoke to the moat around her.
    "Itto? Itto? Do you see how big and tall I've become? I'm a real ship now, not a silly broken raft. Aren't you proud of me?"
  • Simona Ahrnstedt gives us Beatrice Löwenström in her debut novel Överenskommelser. She's smart, competent and tough, but life has been really hard on her. Not only did she lose her mother when she was only six years old and her father when she was only fourteen years old. But she also has to live with her tyrannical uncle, who abuses her for five long years, forcing her into a marriage with a man, who's like forty years older than her and treats women like dirt under his shoes. Beatrice's relationship with Seth, her love interest, is also complicated to say the least. And just when she thought that things would turn out good between them, cue her sadistic cousin ruining everything! Not to mention that she was brutally raped and almost killed on her wedding night...
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians, every major character has some Woobie traits, but special mention goes to the Hades clan.
    • First up is Hades himself. Looks like a composite of every major dictator there is has been, but when we meet him, he turns out to be an innocent victim of bad press and framing by Dark Messiah Luke and Jerkass Ares. What's more, it's implied that he fathered Adolf Hitler. Then his daughter gets killed. We later learn that his brother tried to kill Bianca and Nico, but instead killed Maria di Angelo. And in the sequel series, his son, Nico, gets kidnapped and tortured. No wonder this guy can be a jerk sometimes.
    • Second, we have Hades's son, Nico di Angelo. Caught in a Lotus-Eater Machine since the 1930s, he starts off pretty pitable, but only gets more so when his older sister gets killed by a malfunctioning Talos. He flees to the Underworld, where he is duped by King Minos into thinking he could retreive her soul, but gets sealed in the Labyrinth by him when he outlives his usefulness. And he's twelve. In the sequel series, he learns that Bianca decided to get reborn without telling him, gets trapped in the darkest part of the underworld and suffers excruciating Mind Rape, which no human or god has ever survived. Then he's kidnapped and its implied Gaea subjects him to such horrific torture he'll never recover. Then, in The House of Hades, it is revealed that he is (or was) in love with Percy, who will never love him back and is now trapped in Tartarus, and Nico is afraid that his sexuality will make him even more of an outcast than he already is. And yeah, he's only 14.
    • Third, there's Nico's big sister, Bianca, who has the same backstory as Nico, but, as mentioned, gets killed halfway through a quest by a Talos. Which only attacks because she picks up an action figure to bring back to her beloved little brother (the Talos is designed to attack anyone who touches the items in the junkyard it guards). Even after death though, she's still trying to help and guide Nico as much as she can.
    • Fourth, there's Hazel Levasque, the daughter of Pluto (Hades' Roman aspect) first introduced in Son of Neptune. Born in the 1920s, her mother struck a deal with Pluto that caused Hazel to pull up cursed treasure from the ground wherever she went. Because of this, she and her mother were more or less outcasts causing her mother to strike a deal with Gaea for Hazel to help raise Gaea's eldest son. In order to keep said giant from returning, Hazel sacrificed herself. This might have ended happily with Hazel in Elysium, since she was deemed a hero, except that would mean her mother would have to go to Tartarus. So Hazel struck her own deal that they would both go to the Fields of Asphodel, which ended up being a thousand times worse for her, because of her abilities thanks to being Pluto's daughter. Finally, after years, she is rescued by her half-brother Nico, who only rescued her because he couldn't find Bianca. Add to that the fact that most of her life was spent with her semi-crazed mother, a Disappeared Dad, a love interest who has his life force linked to a piece of wood that will probably burn up pretty soon, her half-brother's kidnapping and the fact that, despite all this, she is still one of the most helpful and good-natured characters in the series and you've got the biggest Woobie of a Wobbie-ful family.
    • And finally, a rare non-Hades Woobie is Leo Valdez. Tricked into burning his own mother alive as a child, thrown out by the rest of his family, kicked from foster home to foster home for years and forced to adopt a Sad Clown mask to protect himself. When he finally finds out he's a demigod and makes friends, he's still treated as an annoyance, comic relief and general repair man, despite saving their butts repeatedly. His pet, metallic dragon dies and all his other friends couple off, leaving him as the lonely 'Seventh Wheel', of no importance to anyone. Oh and to top it off, he's got a massive inferiority complex as well.
  • Charlie from The Perks of Being a Wallflower, who will probably make you choke on the bubbly, warm goo that rises in your heart every time he says something innocent and wise. The traumatic memories of Aunt Helen also make you want to wrap your arms around him in a ridiculously tight squeeze.
  • It's impossible not to feel bad for 'Cita in the second Petaybee book- she is first introduced just after she fled a cult to escape an Arranged Marriage to a man who held her and her mother prisoner for years. Her given name at that point is Goat-dung.
  • Peter Pan: When Tootles, the unfailingly sweet, ever-miserable, Born Unlucky Lost Boy accidentally shoots Wendy and thinks she's dead, he has a horrific My God, What Have I Done? despite it being completely accidental!
  • The Prince of Wales in The Prince and the Pauper. While Tom Canty was having a high old time pretending to be him, he was off being beaten by a jeering mob, followed by a similar beating from Tom's father and grandmother. Then after escaping their clutches and a brief respite with Miles Hendon, Tom's father recaptured him and, after fleeing said father and the gang of ruffians he'd joined up with, he was nearly killed by an insane hermit with a grudge against the king. Then Tom's father found him again and, after he was rescued again by Miles Hendon, they arrived at Hendon Hall only to be thrown into prison by Hendon's corrupt brother and forced to witness two women being burned at the stake. Sure, they were released and he managed to switch places with Tom again and it all gave him a keener appreciation for the hardships of the less privileged, but he was only fifteen at the time and a ruder awakening to reality is hard to imagine. And then, in accordance with history, he dies young.
  • Fezzik from The Princess Bride. Bullied as a child, forced into pro wrestling by his parents (who also threatened him with abandonment if he refused), reviled by audiences, verbally abused by Vizzini...good thing he has Inigo to look after him.
    • For that matter, what about Inigo? He grew up being dirt poor, but he didn't care at all because he had his father and loved him. And then he watched as his father was murdered by a bastard of a nobleman and no one dared do anything about it. While he devotes his entire life to being the greatest swordsman ever, he also becomes an alcoholic, which he is taunted by Vizzini over. And when he finally finds Count Rogen, he is stabbed and is taunted with "You must be that little Spanish brat I taught a lesson to, all those years ago. Don't tell me you chased me all of this time, just to fail now". It's immensely satisfying when Inigo kills him.
  • Fitz Chivalry from Robin Hobb's Farseer and Golden Man trilogies. As one of the characters in the series remarks, Fitz is constantly either tearing around at a frenetic pace or lying in bed recovering from yet another injury. He also has every chance at happiness he seeks taken away from him, usually brutally.
  • Tom from Rot & Ruin. Forced to run away with his then-18-month-old brother, Benny, leaving behind his Stepmom and zombified Dad because of the zombie outbreak. He loses several companions along the way. Him and his group were half-starved and being chased by zombies before finding a refugee camp. Fast forward 14 years, he's a closure specialist, paid by people to kill their zombified friends and family, which is an emotionally draining job. Benny hates him and believes he's a coward for running away instead of saving his Mom. His love interest is severely beaten and dies in his arms. And close to the climax of the book he gets shot over 40 times and falls into a horde of zombies. At the end, he has to Kill his zombified Dad, and it's revealed that he didn't rescue Benny's mother because she was already bitten. Benny hated him all those years for nothing.
    • Add dying to the list at the end of the sequel.
  • Arthur Dimmesdale from The Scarlet Letter. It's almost painful to watch this sweet, well-meaning, and intelligent man rip apart from the inside.
  • Sarah Heap in Septimus Heap. After losing some of her children all the time, you really feel sad for her.
  • Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire from A Series of Unfortunate Events, naturally. No human being, let alone CHILDREN, should go through what happens to them. For the record: Parental Abandonment, pursuit by a greedy psychopath, kidnapping, near decapitation, being unjustly accused of murder and being forced to commit arson to maintain a disguise. It gets to the point that one almost wishes they died in the fire with their parents so they wouldn't be put through all this.
    • Lemony Snicket himself.
  • Wisp. Oh God, Wisp. In Elfstones, Brooks tells us so little about this poor fellow, but it's more than enough to draw Tears from a Stone. He claims to have once been an Elf, but Mallenroh changed him to make him "cute" so he can "roll around and play with the stick men". The process also, incidentally, turned him into a docile, ever-obedient, fawning slave to the Witch Sister, with his favorite remark being an indication of just how devoted he is: "Wisp serves the Lady." Coerced to help Wil and his party escape the dungeons (in a rather upsettingly rough hostage-taking, until Eretria is able to persuade him with her beauty and soft voice), he is then forced to witness as his Lady and her twin sister Morag destroy each other in a huge conflagration. As if that isn't bad enough, when he finally leads the party to Safehold, the light of the Bloodfire so reminds him of what happened to Mallenroh that his mind snaps and he runs shrieking from the cave—right into The Reaper.
    • Prince Ahren Elessedil of the Elves, in The Voyage of the Jerle Shannara. He's sent on the Voyage because his brother wants to get him away from the line of succession. He Jumps At The Call because he sees it as the chance to be a part of a big adventure. He spends the next couple of books running for his life in the company of Ryer Ord Star, who he may be crushing on, despite being aware of her Mole status. He arrives at Antrax's headquarters too late to help save Walker, then gets captured by Cree Bega and The Morgawr. He spends the last book being interrogated for information and watching Ryer change sides again to help The Morgawr, escapes because she creates a distraction for him, and is then confronted by Cree Bega who mocks him about Ryer's torture, possible rape, and suicide, before engaging him in a Knife Fight; this is after, in a previous scene, forcing Ahren to watch The Morgawr drain a ship's crew of their minds. By the end of the series, Ahren has no self-respect and no sense of his own worth left; he never goes home, and dies at the start of the next series with very little effort. From start to finish, his entire story is one big tragedy, and in Voyage, he is the standout Woobie. At least he managed to kill Cree Bega.
  • Daniel 'Skippy' Juster in Skippy Dies. He's a good-natured nerd who's The Heart of his friend group, but he is subjected to an overload of terrible events, including: his mother's struggles with cancer, a sex tape of his girlfriend cheating on him, said girlfriend dramatically breaking up with him, and being raped by his swim coach. All this leads to his addiction to pain pills and his eventual death by (probably) suicide.
  • Many people are this in Skulduggery Pleasant. The biggest probably are:
    • Fletcher, especially as of Death Bringer. He has no friends and no life because of how devoted he is to Valkyrie, who ends up dumping him after cheating on him with a vampire. He realises that Skulduggery and the group insult him to relieve stress, and he actually likes it because he feels like he belongs when they do. Also in Faceless Ones he was kidnapped and implied to have been briefly tortured until he complied with the villains, and it was also hinted he might have issues with his father.
    • Valkyrie, who ends up going through a lot of beatings, torture, watching friends die and general unpleasantness despite only being a teenager. She's also Darquesse, the person fated to destroy the world and kill her own parents, which causes her no small amount of distress.
    • Skulduggery himself. His wife and child were killed in front of him, then he himself was brutally killed and came back as a skeleton. This along with the horror of war made him snap, and become the Omnicidal Maniac Lord Vile. His insanity starts to show in Dark Days, after being tortured by The Faceless Ones for the good part of a year.
  • Sam from The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries. He's one of the few people who treated Sookie kindly from the start, has an open crush on her, and is a supernatural (a shifter) whose natural resistance to Sookie's telepathy would seem to make him a good match for Sookie (who blamed her lack of sexual experience not not wanting to take a man to bed and be privy to every one of his thoughts during). He's been there for her time and time again (as a friend and bodyguard). Sookie knows all this, but keeps him firmly in the friend zone. The way she takes Sam for granted and her flimsy excuses for it make up approximately 75% of the fandom hatred towards her and the sympathy towards him.
    • True Blood seems to be following suit with its treatment of Sam, who gets yelled at by Sookie and Tara on a regular basis now, it seems, for doing nothing.
  • If you read Speak in it's entirety and didn't have the desire to give Melinda a hug, you are not human.
  • Alan Dean Foster:
    • Folly, who briefly appears in the Spellsinger series. She's captured and enslaved by pirates, freed by the heroes, then given by the well-intentioned but misguided heroes to an Orphanage of Fear where all inmates are forcibly neutered. The heroes do get suspicious and investigate in time to rescue her. Come to think of it, Jon-Tom Meriweather probably wobbles between this trope and Unlucky Everydude.
    • Flinx, the main protagonist of the Humanx Commonwealth series. He starts out the series as something of a Canon Sue, but each novel since Flinx in Flux has left him more depressed and convinced of the futility of associating with the people that he's supposed to be saving from absolute destruction. It doesn't help that he's pursued by nearly every authority in the Commonwealth (half want to imprison him, the others want to "fix" him), had his Love Interest Put on a Bus, and suffers from headaches that make migraines seem trivial. Oh, and he most recently found out that his years-long search for his father is futile because he doesn't have one.
  • The Stormlight Archive: Kaladin. His family is despised and abused by Citylord Roshone, to the point of his brother Tien, at age 14, being drafted into the army by Roshone's orders, whom he follows to try and protect, but Tien dies. As a spearman he continues to try and keep his squad alive, but then most of them are killed by a Shardbearer, and the ones who remain are killed by their own superior officer, Brightlord Amaram, who has decided the Shardblade and Plate rightfully belonging to Kaladin (who refuses them) would be better off in his hands and has to kill them all so it looks like he won them, as no one would believe that Kaladin just refused them. For this, he is branded as a deserter and is sold into slavery. After being bought and sold numerous times and abused, he tries to use his surgeon knowledge to help a fellow slave, whom the slavemaster kills, to make sure he doesn't infect the others. He becomes part of a Bridge Crew in Brightlord Sadeas's warcamp, where a bunch of unarmored men carry heavy wooden bridges for miles and miles just to be shot at by a full line of Parshendi archers as a distraction from the real army. At one point, Kaladin nearly commits suicide due to his station in life, but comes out of it when Syl brings him a poisonous leaf he had treasured months earlier. When he discovers a tactic that would save bridgemen's lives, it works for his well-trained bridge crew, but ends up getting the others killed, and crippling Sadeas' forces, causing a huge loss, for which he is beaten and then left to die tied to a wall in a highstorm, which he miraculously survives. After which he is hated by the new officers in charge, who first put Kaladin's bridge crew on full-time chasm duty, then move their chasm duty to the night so they can be on full-time bridge running duty. This doesn't stop Kaladin from singlehandedly defeating a large portion of an army. Kaladin started as a woobie, but he finishes as an Iron Woobie.
  • Nicci from Sword of Truth. Her mother, a Well-Intentioned Extremist, continually hammered the teachings of the strawman communists into her head: that beauty is useful only to a whore, and that her life is worthless without self-sacrifice. Her father was a successful businessman who genuinely loved her, but her mother convinced her that he was evil due to his capitalist ways. This sense of worthlessness, combined with her magical training, led her to become a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds.
  • A Tale of Two Cities: Sydney Carton.
  • Haywood from Tales of the Frog Princess. Let us count the ways. Mother died, horrible father, siblings afraid of him because he's a wizard, can't do the type of magic he wants, his girlfriend's (the one good thing about his adolescence) mother turned him into an otter, he finally turns back but has trouble re-adapting, making him even more awkward and shy than before, and his girlfriend is cursed, turning her into an ugly nasty hag who hates him, and it's almost a year before the curse is broken and he finally gets to marry her. On top of all of that, he's probably in his forties when he finally has a son, and seeing as how this is the middle ages, he'll probably die when his son is in his twenties, or even still a teenager! In short, Haywood's life sucks.
    • Chartreuse is a Jerkass Woobie. She's borderline emotionally abusive to her daughter Emma, and has a loathing of magic (Emma's a witch)... but this is because Emma resembles Chartreuse's younger sister Grassina, who's a witch, even though Chartreuse tried and tried for years to become a witch. As a result, Grassina was the favorite of their own horrible mother. Whether you like her or not, it's sort of hard not to feel a twinge of sympathy for her.
  • Temeraire: Levitas needs a hug. Badly.
    • During Victory of Eagles, Laurence was not much better off himself.
  • Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird.
  • Sissy from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. All she wants in life is to be a mother, but she gives birth to ten stillborn children (even more tragically, one was said to have died two hours after it was born).
  • In the Twilight series, Bree Tanner. Turned into a vampire against her will, confused and terrified, then abruptly killed off after apparently finding someone who can help. Even people who aren't fans of the series may find themselves wanting to hug her.
    • How about Leah? The author initially paints her as being a bitter, sarcastic bitch, but it's not without cause. Her father dies of a heart attack, which may have been brought on by the shock of Leah and her brother Seth turning into werewolves. She loses her boyfriend to her cousin Emily, thanks to imprinting, essentially a werewolf soul mate detector. She is originally a member of Sam's pack, and since werewolf packs are all connected mentally while in wolf form, she is constantly subjected to Sam's thoughts about Emily. Fortunately, she breaks from Sam's pack and joins Jacob's, but that's not the end of it. She reveals to Jacob that the shifting to a wolf has stopped her menstural cycle, and she worries that this may prevent her from ever having children, imprinting, or being imprinted on. She also feels some insecurity about being the only girl wolf and wonders if this reflects badly on her femininity. Granted, she ends the series a lot happier and with some plans for her future, but she still had to deal with a lot.
    • Renesmee Cullen, once you realize that she will grow up to be a little girl in an adult body, with the additional Squick of being expected to fall in love with her mother's ex-Love Interest. It's also kind of hard to not feel sorry for someone with such a horrible name.
  • Three words: The Ugly Duckling. Who didn't want to hug the poor little guy after he had suffered so much?
  • It would be easier to say who isn't a woobie in Uncle Tom's Cabin.
  • Several characters in The Underland Chronicles have tragic pasts, and the events of the series do not help.
  • Vampire Academy:
    • Dimitri. The poor guy gets forcibly turned into a Strigoi, his mind, his soul and his love for Rose become twisted and wrong as a result of said change, he kills hundreds (possibly thousands) of people and enjoys it, he horrifically abuses his lover Rose when she comes to free (read: stake) him from the state he never wanted and after her return to the U.S. hunts her down and endangers the Moroi he'd once been dedicated to protecting, including Lissa. And when he's brought back to life by Spirit, he realises just what he'd done (not just the immediate preceding events, but his treatment of Rose and the innocents he'd murdered) and it does not go over well with him. It's no wonder he wallows in depression and guilt straight after his change back into a dhampir and refuses to see Rose.
    • Christian saw his Strigoi-turned parents staked by guardians after they'd tried to abduct him in order to awaken him when he grew older. He was only five years old at the time. The scandal surrounding his parents caused him and Tasha to be ostracized by most of the other royal Moroi families, and even some Moroi in the Ozera family wanted nothing to do with them because of their association to the people who blackened the Ozera name. In St. Vlad's, before meeting Lissa Christian is practically a pariah and a loner, and is considered a 'Strigoi-lover' who will probably become Strigoi like his parents one day. His sole reason to going to mass in the chapel is to convince the other Moroi that he isn't a Strigoi (because Strigoi can't enter hallowed ground). His life is like hell at this point, and, to make things worse, after he finds the one person who truly makes him happy he's tricked into rejecting her by Rose, who says mean lies about how Lissa sees him as she believes the rumours about him and believes that he's dangerous and unstable. Rose is extremely guilt-stricken when she finally learns the whole truth about Christian's life and realises that she's taken away the only happy thing that's ever happened to him in his life.

      Even after he and Lissa become a couple, he still has to deal with haughty royals (including the Queen of the Moroi herself) claiming that he'll never be good enough for Lissa because of his blackened family name and that he's only holding her back from realising her true potential as a leader of the Moroi and a member of the royal society. And not to mention the Queen herself actively tries to tear them apart by conniving to bring Adrian and Lissa together.

      And then in Last Sacrifice he finds out that the one person who'd been like a mother to him for most of his life is a traitor to the Moroi throne and the true killer of Tatiana Ivashkov. He takes the news really, really hard.
    • Lissa saw her parents and brother die in a car crash two years before the beginning of Vampire Academy, a crash which also killed Rose (though Lissa inadvertently brought her back).
  • Sublett from William Gibson's Virtual Light. Where to start with this guy? First, he's an albino who has to wear sunscreen and reflective contact lenses constantly to avoid sunburn and corneal damage. Second, he has to chew special medicated gum multiple times a day because he has such severe chemical allergies that even walking into a room where cleaning fluid was recently used could kill him. Third, he was born and raised in a bizarre Christian sect that worships movies and TV, which confines him to his mother's trailer home as part of a penance ritual after he watches Videodrome on a recommendation from a friend (David Cronenberg's work is considered a tool of Satan). The only reason you shouldn't try to give this guy a hug is that your perfume/deodorant might put him in the hospital.
  • Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga. This is probably due to the author's stated writing policy of trying to think up the worst thing that can happen to a character, and then doing it.
    • Aral - His mother and brothers are murdered before his eyes by the crazy emperor's goons when he's eleven. His father never forgives him for being the one to survive. He discovers that his beloved wife is having affairs with two other men. She kills herself with his own weapon by burning her face off...or possibly his father did it. Komarrans who have surrendered to him are massacred after he gave his word they would be spared and he kills the man who ordered it, thus both getting a terrible reputation, and a massive demotion. He gets dragged into the most nightmarish political assassination in Barrayaran history, which is really saying something, and tormented by his nominal commanders in the process. Completely spent, he returns to Barrayar and tries to kill himself with drink...where as soon as he's vaguely functional he is expected to take on the responsibilities of regent. He and his (second) wife are attacked with a military poison gas while she is pregnant, and the antidote causes enormous damage to the foetus. The foetus in transferred to a uterine replicator, almost killing his wife, and leading to him almost being disowned by his father for trying to save it. Then a civil war starts, and the replicator is taken by the enemy. Then his wife disappears in the middle of said war. But she comes back with their enemy's head in a bag.
    • Cordelia - She is captured by the Barrayarans. The first time her ensign is shot with a nerve disruptor in front of her, but that's about the worst of it. The second time she's nearly raped, saved by a complete psycho, whom she then has to try to keep under control, for her own protection and Aral's getting herself injured in the first time. When she gets home she's Mind Raped by her own side because they refuse to believe in the idea of good Barayarrans, and she has to flee for her sanity. Then the gas attack. Then being put on a horse (of which she's terrified) with a five year old emperor and told to keep him alive. Then finding out her son's been captured. Then Kareen's death right when they seemed to have won. Miles growing up to be a soldier, one of her worst fears: "Barrayar eats its children." She still supports him though. Her son dying on her, just when she's trying to adjust to having a whole new (and seriously screwed up) son...and then her husband has a non-fatal heart attack in the middle of all this. For the record, Miles gets better.)
    • Miles may be the hardest to see as a woobie, mostly because he never wastes time on the rough stuff. However he does qualify in The Mountains of Mourning, during his depression when Illyan fires him, and when his big plans for Ekaterin blow up in his face. And then you have the last can just feel his heart tearing at the words "Count Vorkosigan, Sir?"
    • Mark - Created, indoctrinated, manipulated, crippled, tortured, all so Galen can have his revenge against Aral. Brought up with clone children destined to be killed so someone else can live forever...and outlives them. Royally screws up trying to bring down said cloning industry and gets Miles killed. Gets captured and tortured again, to the point that his mind fractures outright.
    • Ekaterin - Married young to an twisted incompetent bastard ("One of those subtle feral parasites who have you asking yourself "Am I crazy? Am I crazy?") He turns out to have a crippling genetic disease he didn't tell her about until her son was born, with the same condition. finally decides to divorce him, only to have him killed by terrorists Just starts to recover and build a life of her own when she finds out Miles has been manipulating her...but she still finds it in herself to forgive him.
    • Ivan - Seems to be the butt of all of Miles's escapades.
    • Gregor - Becomes emperor at five years old, and grows up with all the pressure that implies hanging over his head. His mother is killed in the civil war, so he has to preside over two funerals for close family in the same two five. Just before his majority he finds out his father was a sadistic killer who had to be destroyed for the good of the empire and now gets to worry about turning out the same. The first person his own age he plans to put into "his" government blows it. Then the man who really raised him dies, admittedly perfectly naturally and after a long life, but it's still heart wrenching. Especially when he chooses himself as one of the pallbearers.
    "That man has carried me since I was five years old. My turn."
    • Duv Galeni - Komarran whose family died and their fortune lost during the Komarr Revolt. Joins the Barrayaran military anyway. Kidnapped by his not-really-dead father, Ser Galen. Watches Mark (who was raised by Galen for the subsitution plot) kill Galen. A few years later, falls in love with Laisa, but she thinks he's just a friend, and after she and Gregor get engaged, he's the first one they call with the news. Then after he actually finds love with Delia, he gets framed for murder and treason and publicly arrested at one of the Emperor's parties. (And last and probably least, he finds out that he's likely to wind up with Mark as a brother-in-law.)
    • Subverted in that despite all the crap heaped on them, every single one of these characters eventually gets the happy ending and the girl (or guy) of their dreams. Lois might make her characters run the gauntlet, but karma will eventually repay them for their sacrifices.
    • Except Sergeant Bothari, who has to be the most tragic of them all, even more so than Mark. Born illegitimate, hired out as a child prostitute - it's hardly surprising that he grew up seriously mentally unstable. On Barrayar at that time, the only kind of therapy available to PTSD patients like him is being trained to suppress painful memories by becoming physically ill whenever he remembers them - and then gets accused of malingering! Manages to make a decent life as Miles's loyal bodyguard, and does his best to be a good father to Elena - but when his well-meaning attempts to protect Elena from the truth about her parentage, and Miles's equally well-meaning attempts to find out for her, lead to their meeting Elena's mother, the consequences are truly nightmarish for all four of them. No chance of a happy ending here - the best we can say is that Miles, at least, will always remember him with love.
  • Sinklar Fist from Michael Gear's series Forbidden Borders. An orphan supposedly due to his parent being the executed terrorists and constantly bullied for that? Check. Military genius risen through ranks in a strongly class society and derided as a plebe and upstart? Check. A pawn in powergames of his nation's elite? Check. Cartwright Curse? Check. And that's not even mentioning the whole can of Wham opened in later books, where he finds that his lifetime rival Staffa Kar Terma is his father, gets more suffering for him and his friends, and so on, so on and so on...
  • Eustace Scrubb is the resident Jerkass} for a good portion of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Then he gets turned into a dragon, and suddenly your perspective on him changes. He's a different boy after he gets changed back by Aslan, but he still goes through his struggles and you still root for him all the way.
    There was a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.
  • Arithon s'Ffalenn, from Janny Wurts's Wars of Light and Shadow. Oh, so much. Most other Janny Wurts heroes, too.
  • Poor, poor Blackavar. Living in the oppressive, militaristic Efrafa he attempts to escape. He is apprehended and as punishment his ears are torn up and he is kept under solitary confinement. Every morning and evening, while the other rabbits are feeding, he is made to sit where everyone can see him, as an example to other would-be escapees.
    "I come here for the Mark to see me," said the rabbit in his low, drained voice. "Every Mark should see how I have been punished as I deserved for my treachery in trying to leave the warren. The Council were merciful—the Council were merciful—the Council—I can't remember it, sir, I really can't!...I can't seem to remember anything."
    • As if to rub it in, the film gives Blackavar one of the most gruesome deaths in the movie.
    • And Fiver. When he's having epileptic fits and spouting Cassandra Truth, you just want to cuddle him and feed him carrots until he feels better.
    • Hyzenthlay. Aside from the usual torment she gets as an Efrafran doe she's also forced to abort her own children because there's simply no chance of them having a good life. Her friends are one-by-one rounded up and tortured, and she can't move two hops without an officer breathing down her neck. Her crowning moment of Woobie-ism is when she's trembling in Bigwig's burrow, convinced she's about to be raped, but all she can say is "I am in your Mark and under your orders, sir." Ouch.
  • Andrei Taganov of We The Living. The guy gets strung along by both his "comrade", Pavel, who manipulates the system and lives the life of a corrupt capitalist he supposedly hates while Andrei remains true to his ideology and is mocked for it; and by his "lover", Kira, who manipulates him into using his power and position to help her help her true lover, Leo. Later, he uses his power to get Leo out of prison and away from a death sentence, he is then stripped of his position in the Party and is Driven to Suicide, and Pavel makes a party of his funeral. In the end, Leo leaves Kira to become a gigolo and Kira dies while trying to cross a border.
  • Satou and Misaki from Welcome To The NHK. Satou feels worthless most of the time and is a total screw up who tries to act like he's fine. Since the story is told from his first person perspective, "I should just die" comes up a lot in his internal monologue. Misaki is sort of a Stepford Smiler who goes from being cheerful to saying oddly depressing things that reveal how much she hurts. It turns out Misaki had been planning to kill herself for quite a while, then Satou tries to kill himself to stop her.
  • Balram's dad in The White Tiger. He's been poor and miserable his entire life, is abused by the women in his family and puts all of his efforts into making sure Balram receives the education he needs to have a good life, only to die painfully on the floor of a government hospital of tuberculosis.
  • Niall in the Wicked Lovely/Faery court series. He was in love with the Dark King, Irial. He didn't know that he was a gancanagh, that the mortals he had slept with were addicted and dying, until Irial tells him. He freaks out, and tries to leave the dark court. Irial sends his servant/gaurd to bring him back to the dark court, permantley scarring his face in the process. There, Irial gives him a choice- he gives the dark fey the mortals he has addicted or gives him himself. Niall gives them himself. This results in him being horrfically abused and on at least on ocaision raped by the dark fey. Most of the fans were absolutely horrorified by his admission of this and Niall was completley, irreparably broken by it. In the end, his sacrifices were for nothing; the mortals still died, pining away for the drug in Niall's skin. He goes on to put his trust in another faery king, Keenan, who lies to him about a mortal girl named Leslie who had fallen in love with. And who is kidnapped and used as an emotional conduit -and as something close to a willing sex slave- by Irial. Yes, THAT Irial. Even when he eventually frees Leslie, she leaves both him and Irial, leaving them with eachother. And then Irial forces Niall into kingship, subsequently turning him into the one thing he hated and feared above all else. His scars (of which there are many, both physical and emotional) are tragic, but they make him more endearing.
    • Leslie herself. If your older brother allowing his friends to rape you isn't bad enough, then try seeing things no mortal should and losing your emotions. Watching someone become a shell like that is heartbreaking, both for the readers and Niall (Notice how it comes back to Niall? Guy's the personification of woobieness.)
    • Keenan is something of a Jerkass Woobie, although the reasons why (aside from the curse his abusive mother placed on him, and the things he had to whilst under it) aren't quite clear.
    • Also on the Jerkass Woobie side of things is Irial himself; he is only doing what he has to for the dark court, but watching the dark fey abuse your ex-lover in the worst possible way can't be pleasant, especially not when it's technically your fault.
    • Donia, a girl transformed by the curse. She is forced to carry the winters cold, being mistreated and Manipulated by Beira all the while, and when she eventually is freed of it has to see the one she loves in another's arms; her and Keenan love each other, but can never be together.
  • Peet the Sock Man from The Wingfeather Saga.
  • Eeyore in A.A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, and in subsequent film and television adaptations. While it's arguable that the worst thing that ever happened to Eeyore was having temporarily lost his tail, his perpetual sad, slow and melancholy demeanor and general lack of self-esteem seems to evoke a feeling of sympathy and pity for him from the audience.
    • Note that he's a lot more woobie-ish in the Disney films; the books depict him as more self-centered misanthrope than victim of fate. This doesn't stop Piglet and Pooh, and quite possibly the reader, from feeling sorry for him and wanting to do nice things for him, such as making sure he gets a birthday party.
  • Hilary Mantel manages to do this for Thomas Cromwell in Wolf Hall, who's generally treated as one of Tudor England's most notorious bastards. The book emphasizes his status as a Self-Made Man, whose father was so terrifying that even Thomas' married sister was afraid to shelter him, becomes successful and learned only to be routinely insulted and belittled for having come from nothing. Then his wife, daughters, and borderline Parental Substitute Cardinal Wolsey die in rapid succession.
  • Karen, the protagonist of the Hans Christian Andersen story The Red Shoes. Karen wears the title shoes to church instead of the black shoes her adoptive mother says she should wear. Later, Karen goes off to a ball instead of attending to her sick mother. The red shoes suddenly begin forcing Karen to dance, and an angel condemns her to continue dancing even after she dies, as a warning to other "vain" children. Karen eventually has to get an executioner to cut off her fee to be free of the shoes, after which she prays for forgiveness, dies and goes to heaven. Needless to say, Values Dissonance and Disproportionate Retribution abound here. It's not surprising that Karen is often Spared by the Adaptation while also finding a less painful way to remove the shoes.
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids: Chico, from "The Stick Men", is the only child of workaholic parents who care nothing about him. Constantly farmed out to nannies who never take him to meet kids of his own age, he creates friends through crayons. His parents and his nanny find it a nuisance and constantly insult him about it. Fortunately, he gets his happy ending when he lives with his friends, and his parents are killed in a helicopter accident.


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