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Today has not been a-Mei-zing.
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Overwatch may seem like a light-hearted franchise, but the bright colors and hopeful presentation belie a vicious and harrowing world filled with people who have suffered greatly by circumstance or for the sake of their ideals, all to demonstrate how crucial that notion of hope truly is. The heroes persevere through their myriad hardships, and even several villains are broken individuals twisted by misfortune.


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    Ana 
  • She was a walking pile of guilt and trauma for all the deaths she caused as Overwatch’s top sniper even before the botched mission in Egypt that resulted in her losing her eye, the deaths of several hostages, her withdrawal in disgrace for years, and ultimately the collapse of Overwatch itself. Here we are now years later, and she’s back in action, resolving herself to continuing the fight in spite of her past ordeals on the grounds that she can’t just stand by while the world and her loved ones are in danger while she can still make a difference.
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    Bastion 
  • Yes, Bastion of all people has become one, following "The Last Bastion", as the animation portrays it as a good-natured, friendly bot who is forced into murder and violence by old programming. Scenes of it having PTSD-like flashbacks to the Omnic Crisis and finding countless dead Bastion models which it naïvely attempts to repair also come across as very sad and borderline traumatic. It's actually to the point where the whole ordeal redeemed it in the eyes of many gamers, despite its status as a Tier-Induced Scrappy.

    Genji 
  • He who wanted no part in his family's illegal business and instead pursued the life of a playboy. This did not sit well with the clan elders, who coerced Hanzo into killing him for his "disobedience". Genji was left horribly injured, and only survived because Overwatch rescued him — but at a great cost. He was turned into a cyborg, forced to work for the black ops division of Overwatch, and felt himself an outcast to both humans and omnics, unable to fit in anywhere. Although he can eat, it is not as it was before, and he laments that he can't even enjoy ramen from his favourite shop. And even after meeting his brother again, the revelation that he was alive only made Hanzo treat him as even more of an outcast.

    Hanzo 
  • Meta Example: Hanzo is incredibly dislike by a good portion of the Overwatch gaming community. If a team he's on loses, he is often blamed for it and the term "Hanzo Main" has been used as an insult.
    • Even moreso, Hanzo himself feels extreme guilt on killing Genji but knows nothing else in his life other than the life of an assassin. He's really Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life and redemption, but his upbringing made him unable to find another lifestyle except clinging to the past and while he was highly antagonistic on Genji, he was also still wrecked with guilt, if he had realized this sooner, then he wouldn't have killed people for his so-called redemption, he became a hired killer, abandoned his home for nothing and this is not going to go away soon just because he 'forgives' himself. Healing will take time, and until that, more or less Hanzo will have to face the scorn of 'being a terrible brother' when things are much more complicated.

    Mei 
  • Regardless of how you think of her as a hero in gameplay, it's been unanimously agreed upon that Mei's gone through one hell of a traumatic experience. Being a climatologist in an Ecopoint in Antarctica would probably already be a strenuous enough task, but having to brave a sudden polar storm that leaves you stranded from civilization, forcing you into cryogenic stasis waiting for rescue is a whole different ballpark. Waking up years later with rescue never coming, finding out all of your other coworkers are dead, the world climate you've been researching to solve has gotten even worse, and all the other Watchpoints have since disbanded? It's a wonder how the hell Mei manages to still act so upbeat at all.
    • This isn't really helped with Ecopoint: Antarctica now being a playable stage, where it's shown the cryogenic stasis pods containing her fellow researchers are still there, malfunctioned and flatlining. Mei doesn't say anything, but it's got to lead you to wonder what she's thinking upon seeing this again.
    • The Rise and Shine cinematic depicts her origin firsthand, and shows us that it was indeed a rude awakening. Mei has always held an upbeat, optimistic, and cheerful personality during gameplay, never showing any real distress or negativity (except her dislike of Junkrat for being a bully), but that all changes after she awakens from a nine year hibernation and discovers that her friends and fellow researchers are dead. Her reaction to seeing the frozen remains of her colleagues — people she had known and worked with likely for years — long dead in their chambers provides the page image: overwhelmed with sorrow, shock and isolation, she collapses in the middle of the room and weeps. The sense of loss is palpable, and it gets even worse when you realize that, from Mei's perspective, this has all come to pass within the span of minutes; the memories of her friends smiling and continuing their work are likely still fresh in her mind. She basically took a nap and woke up to find her world in ruins and herself alone. Loneliness and isolation pervade the whole short, from the lack of human interaction to the many lingering shots of the outpost's frigid, empty halls in complete silence, which all serve to convey just how daunting her situation is and how little she has to handle it. Particularly wrenching is the scene where she opens the gate to leave, takes a look at the vast, blinding length of the Antarctic in the midst of a snowstorm… and slowly and wordlessly backs away. She finds her resolve when she decides to work on uncovering the message being transmitted on the emergency channels, but the situation reaches its nadir when Snowball willingly drains its own power supply to provide her with the power source she needs to make her escape, leaving her clutching its motionless form as she is left alone in the dark without even her one remaining friend. Fortunately, she is able to make the best with her meager resources and receive Winston's recall message. Renewed with purpose, she commits to doing her part to rebuild Overwatch even if she still has to march across the frozen Antarctic wilderness on foot to get there. The whole ordeal might have ended on a positive note, but the road ahead is long and uncertain, and some things are broken that may not be fixable. But at least one thing is certain: once she gets back to civilization, she definitely deserves a blanket, some cocoa and a hug.

    Mercy 
  • She lost both of her parents to the Omnic Crisis, and grew up isolated from everyone else. Her status as a medical prodigy got her into Overwatch, but she opposed their militaristic approach to world peace. No one listened to her, however. After Overwatch fell, she became cynical over the idea it reforming, and for a good reason. Now she travels into warzones on her own, healing those who are affected by conflict.
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    Reaper 
  • Yes, even Reaper can be this. Albeit, as a major Jerkass Woobie. He is one of the most callous assholes and when he was Gabriel Reyes, it's clear that he's just drafted for his skills, not his personality. But one thing, back in those days, he still socialized with the other Overwatch member, and he's just as dedicated as the others to protect the world from the rampaging omnics rather than a justified reason to kick something he hated. And yet for his dedication for his world, and probably risking his life the most in the battlefield as the Strike Commander, he got no respect, and instead got rewarded with the Dirty Business part of the job which went against the image of the organization he worked for. Sure, the way he struck back was not that good, but rather than getting killed, he ended up getting sentenced to a life where every steps he walked proves to be really painful. Yeah, uh, there's no wonder he decided that the only way he can get around this is to relish being a Card-Carrying Villain. And to make matters worse, after all these, a lot of people, including his former teammates, still think he's a joke. There is also some hint that whatever caused him to get his powers wasn't something he chose, and not only do they have some implied nasty side-effects, but some of his voice linesnote  indicate that he has a Death Wish his powers can't ever allow him to fulfill.

    Reinhardt 
  • Being the shining beacon of knightly justice that he is, has had to deal with a lot. From being unable to aid his fellow Crusaders in the defense of Eichenwalde (which led to the death of their Grandmaster), which he deeply regrets, to being forced into retirement due to his age following Ana’s “death” in Egypt. With Reinhardt no longer around to hold the organization together as its most stable, idealistic core, Overwatch was consumed from within while he was helpless to do anything but watch. But even today, well into his sixties and despite all that life has thrown onto him, his passion for doing good is as strong as ever, and he continues the fight as a wandering paragon of chivalric ideals.
    • Honor and Glory expands on this further: Balderich's death wasn't a result of Reinhardt's absence, but rather because he was badly wounded saving Reinhardt from a mess he'd gotten himself into with his Leeroy Jenkins attitude and sacrificed himself holding the omnics back for Reinhardt and the soldiers serving with them to escape. And it was Balderich, not Reinhardt, who was originally chosen to join Overwatch, only to hand the responsibility to Reinhardt before his Last Stand. Not only does Reinhardt bear the Survivor Guilt of being the last of the Crusaders, but he lives knowing it was his recklessness that resulted in Balderich's death, and then the purpose Balderich charged him with was taken from him when he was forcibly retired.

    Roadhog and Junkrat 
  • While they are unarguably very violent and remorseless men, watching their home get turned into a nearly-uninhabitable, irradiated wasteland probably had something to do with why they are like that. Not helped by the fact that the former inadvertently caused the whole mess when a desperate attempt to free his home from the omnics went horribly wrong or that the latter was barely five years old when it happened...

    Sigma 
  • Sigma possibly has the most woobie backstory in all of Overwatch. Dr. Siebren de Kuiper was a civilian astrophysicist, described as "eccentric," but generally mild-mannered and caring only for the advancement of his science. A Freak Lab Accident exposed him to the raw power of a black hole and gave him superpowers at the cost of his sanity. Said sanity only eroded further when he was forcibly confined in a government facility for the safety of those around him, dehumanized and renamed as "Subject Sigma," and made to fully believe he'd never see the light of day again. He was finally broken free from his imprisonment, but his rescuers were less than benevolent: he now works under Talon, who treats him more as a living weapon than one of their own soldiers. He is still seemingly as mild-mannered, affable, and concerned with the advancement of his field as he was prior to that fateful accident. The difference now is he's no longer mentally-put-together enough to realize how his new benefactors are using him and what a force of destruction he has become. An incredibly dark take on the Token Good Teammate.

    Soldier: 76 
  • Also known as Jack Morrison, Soldier: 76 is a Fallen Hero who once put all of his heart into commanding Overwatch and making it the best it could possibly be. But his success came at the expense and resentment of his best friend and former commander, Gabriel Reyes, who felt passed over. Reyes secretly betrayed them by leaking Overwatch's Dirty Business (which he himself had performed) and turning public opinion against Overwatch. Then Reyes outright betrayed them by attempting to murder Jack and destroying Overwatch from the inside. After this, Jack not only received a disfiguring scar, but watched the world fall into chaos. No longer considering himself a hero, or seeing the point of being a "hero" at all, his attitude has regressed to that of just a nameless soldier, fighting an endless, unwinnable war because it's all he knows. He also has to live with the fact that most of the world thinks he's dead, and From a Certain Point of View, Jack would agree.

    Symmetra 
  • While interpretations may vary on whether or not Symmetra counts as an Anti-Hero or an Anti-Villain, one thing that's clear about her is that all she wants is to help people and create a better world. Satya Vaswani was raised in extreme poverty, taken away from her family at a young age and has never seen them since, and has been raised by the corrupt Mega-Corp who have manipulated her and her talents for their own clandestine ends. Even though she goes out of her way to avoid killing people, her efforts are in vain when Vishkar blows up the Calado building and sets the favelas of Rio on fire to force them to accept Vishkar's 'help'. Symmetra is left confused and betrayed, and it's clear from her face that she's conflicted, even as she ruminates on how such actions are for the sake of the greater good. Nevertheless, she remains blindly loyal to the very company that has been manipulating her for her whole life because she knows nothing else. She has also been confirmed to lie somewhere on the autistic spectrum, which would mean Vishkar is potentially taking advantage of someone with a developmental impairment to secure her commitment and loyalty to an obsessive level. Furthermore, her association with the company ensures she will be seen as complicit with their corrupt actions, regardless of her own intentions or standards. Even the young girl she personally saved from the fire appears to regard her with a degree of fear and mistrust at the end of A Better World. Her only recourse for help is the very people trying to control her.

    Tracer 
  • As one of the cheeriest, most upbeat characters in the game, you'd think she'd avoid this, right? Wrong. A look through her history might give the impression that her capacity to stay positive is only so strong because it needs to be, given the string of misfortune that has defined most of her adult life.
    • Looking up to Overwatch as a beacon for hope and progress after growing up in such a deeply troubled neighborhood as King's Row, she enlists as a pilot and no sooner gets caught in an accident that not only nearly kills her, but also afflicts her with a horrifying condition. Imagine being completely at the mercy of something that can rip you away from your life without your consent or any warning; you don't know where you're going, what's going to happen to you, or if you'll even make it back. When you do, anything from minutes to hours to weeks of your life have vanished in what felt like an instant, and it could happen again just as quickly. This was her entire life for months, during which she was confined to small holdings with very little human contact. The thought alone is disheartening, but the montage of her in containment during her origin story trailer really hammers home how lonely, prolonged and uncertain an experience it must have been for her. During her talk with Commander Morrison in Uprising, she directly compares it to a fight for survival. Even though Winston devised a treatment (albeit in the form of a device whose proximity she can never leavenote ) to allow her to make a comeback as a field agent, the hope it afforded her didn't last. Overwatch was soon consumed from within, taking what she felt was the world's best tool for good with it and forcing her all the way back to where she started, now with the added worry of an affliction she must constantly monitor.
    • Which would set the stage for the events of the Alive short, which represents her lowest point so far. By the end, she's gone out of her way to save someone she deeply admires, only to fail despite her best efforts. As the realization of what has happened washes over her, all of the hope and vigor that is so characteristic of her visibly drains away, and when she pleads with Widowmaker for just an explanation, she appears completely overwhelmed with grief and confusion. Her pleas ultimately go unheard, as Widowmaker escapes and leaves Tracer lying distraught, injured and defeated in an alley, with her chronal accelerator — the aforementioned device she depends on to merely exist — damaged. The last glimpse of her that we see leaves no room for hoping she's okay: lying on the pavement, her accelerator sparks and malfunctions as she flinches and gasps in pain.
    • Uprising adds some grim context by revealing her very first mission as a field agent following her recovery involved rescuing a group of hostages (with Mondatta himself mentioned to be among them) from terrorists who had turned King's Row into a war zone. With the current turn of events, her earliest — and likely one of her most cherished — victory is now meaningless, as riots proceeded to break out in the assassination's wake, leaving her wounded and helpless to witness her work be undone and her beloved home be thrown into turmoil once again as tensions climb higher than ever. Worse, having likely met Mondatta in person, she might have known him as a friend as well as "just" someone she admired, and she now has to live with knowing she dodged the bullet that killed him and initiated all this chaos while the perpetrator walked away unscathed. King's Row unquestionably has some problems, but it's still her home, and she just wants to help it and the rest of the world be a better place, and the world often repays her by knocking her down and making it harder for her to get back up, which she somehow continues to do. The poor girl deserves at least a hug for being such a trooper about everything. Thankfully, things at least seem to be looking up for her in the present, as she's due to play a role in Overwatch's comeback, and she has a healthy relationship with her loving girlfriend to support her along the way.

    Widowmaker 
  • Though a definite Jerkass Woobie, she perhaps has the most tragic backstory of them all, which is no small feat considering that this is Overwatch. While she might be the biggest villain of the roster - being a sadistic Hero Killer who has taken the lives of many innocents, ruined the lives of many others, and was instrumental to Overwatch's downfall - she didn't choose to be like this. There was a time when she was known as Amélie Lacroix, who was a perfectly sweet innocent who happened to be married to important Overwatch member Gérard Lacroix. However, since he stood in the way of Talon achieving its goals, she became the target of their Moral Event Horizon — they kidnapped her, subjected her to extreme torture, scientifically altered her mind, and brainwashed her into becoming the cold-blooded assassin she is now, just so they could force her to kill her own husband. On top of all that, she has the very real potential to become a legitimate Woobie. If Overwatch ever manages to revive the old Amélie, she will have to live with the guilt of murdering her own husband, helping to disband the original Overwatch, and murdering countless others, while enjoying every moment of it. Upon that realization, someone better be willing to give her a hug, because she's going to need it. It only got worse when Reflections confirmed that at least part of her does mourn for Gerard, visiting his grave at Christmas despite the brainwashing and the pouring rain.

    Winston 
  • As an intelligent gorilla growing up isolated on the moon, his only companion was the human doctor who he was named after, Harold Winston. Harold was the one who aspired Winston into becoming the hopeful scientist he is today, and would've been very proud to see him where he is now, had it not been for the uprising of the other gorillas, who murdered all the scientists including Harold. Though Winston joined Overwatch, and made several close friends (biggest of all being Tracer, easily the closest friendship of all playable Heroes), he had to live with the isolation that comes with being an intelligent gorilla on Earth. The fact that he still remains hopeful after Overwatch fell is telling.

    Other 
  • Alejandra, the teenage girl in the short Hero, grew up in a violent, lawless neighborhood overrun by the crime ring Los Muertos with seemingly no hope of getting a good direction in life. Just in this short alone, she almost got pressured to join in a beating of an omnic by the gang members (one of whom knows her by name, imply that he is either family or an acquaintance), got her money stolen, witness a gun onslaught, a man being brutally beat by a piñata all the while being scared to death by 76 and almost got killed by a grenade. Luckily for her, 76 rescued Alejandra in time, showing her heroism maybe for the first time in her life and inspire her to made a choice to hope and look up to the Overwatch heroes as evidence by her removing the old Overwatch poster on the wall and take it home with her.
  • Even Snowball, Mei's drone, briefly becomes this in Rise and Shine when it realizes that its charging station is the only source of power left in the facility that Mei needs in order to complete her escape. Without even giving her the chance to protest, it solemnly ensconces itself within the station and drains its own power supply to give its master the chance she needs. Then look in its eyes as it realizes what must be done is heart-wrenching, as is Mei's reaction. Thankfully, it's restored to working condition by the end in time for Mei to begin her long trek back to civilization.
  • Omnics in general, at least the civilians, tend to get a pretty bum deal whenever they show up. Probably because Blizzard knows they can do whatever they want to them without worrying about impacting the rating. In addition to Bastion, there's also the omnic with a human companion in Alive, who both get a nice, clean view of Mondatta's death and who later shows up in the theatrical teaser during the London riots, lying helplessly on the ground in a state of disrepair, but at least he's got his girlfriend to comfort him by his side, and Reinhardt keeping them both safe from the rioters. Which is more than can be said for the poor soul in Hero, who is assaulted and beaten by the Los Muertos gang members just for being at the wrong place at the wrong time in an act of petty intolerant thuggery that would do The Animatrix proud. When they try to goad Alejandra into joining in on "giving it what it deserves", the poor thing can only look at her and weakly reach out in a silent plea for mercy. While The Last Bastion shows us that the Omnic Crisis was indeed a horrifying experience, and the actions of Null Sector demonstrate humanity has understandable reason to be cautious even today, that doesn't change that life as just an ordinary omnic citizen in any given place in the world can be criminally unjust and rough.
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