- Adventure Time:
- The Ice King is crazy, but mostly, he's just lonely. Just try not to feel bad for him when NEPTR chooses Finn over him. Especially after the revelation that he used to be normal until he tried an antique crown that resulted in a loss of sanity, along with gradually gaining supernatural ice powers and becoming unsightly, leading to his present self.
- Flame Princess is also one. She had her heart broken by Finn (Jake in disguise) after he changed his mind about Finn dating her since she's evil. He did this just after he sang a song telling how much Finn likes her. After this, she goes Yandere and goes on a rampage. She probably doesn't get many boyfriends due to her unpredictable personality and the way her dad seems to shelter her because of said personality.
- The Earls of Lemongrab nearly became this in "All Your Fault".
- Lemongrab himself. Sure, he's an annoying, unstable wreck, but after everything he went though, it's somewhat understandable.
- Rob from The Amazing World of Gumball can be thought of as this. He was a background character who nobody could remember the name of, before the universe itself decided that he was a mistake. When he finally got out, he was incredibly disfigured (experiencing something wherein the human equivalent would be having one's skin blown off.) In fact, the only reason why he's a villain at all is because he needed a role to fill in the universe, and has expressed wishing to be a sidekick instead.
- Rob: You being the hero of all this means that I have to be the villain! But I never wanted to be the villain! I wanted to be the cute sidekick who gets his own plush toy and a spinoff show.
- He also blames Gumball for his situation... understandably so, considering that Gumball completely failed to notice him in the Void and even gave him the idea to be the villain of the series in the first place.
- Roger Smith from American Dad!. He is so evil because his species releases a bile that kills them if they don't "let their evilness out". Made worse when it is revealed the reason he is trapped on Earth is that the others of his species wanted to get rid of him. In addition, there are moments where he really seems to care about his adoptive family. It is implied that Roger only acts that way because he was made to be evil, and not by choice, and if you stop to think about it, it's terrible being him.
- The Brain ends up being revealed to be this in Animaniacs (2020). When he was a young mouse, he was used as part of an experiment for learned helplessness in which he was given a plate of cheese that would always shock him to the point where he was too scared to touch it even when the electricity was turned off. From that point on, he swore that he would one day be in control of himself, his surrounding, and the world.
- The first season of Arcane is about how Tag Along Kid Powder became the Mad Bomber Jinx, and is an extended Trauma Conga Line for her. She loses her parents in the prologue and accidentally kills her adoptive family and sees her sister Vi (seemingly) abandoning her in Act 1, leaving her with severe PTSD and prompting her to become The Dragon for a crime lord because he was kind to her. Then Vi escapes and she's torn between her sister and her new father figure, driving her to an Identity Breakdown as she struggles to reconcile her old life with her new one, all while things go From Bad to Worse. This drives her to a full mental breakdown in the finale and her accidentally killing her second father figure, while realizing that both she and Vi have changed too much for things to go back to how they were. Having lost everyone she cared about at her own hands, Jinx fully embraces her new identity and fires a rocket at the Council chambers, igniting war between Piltover and Zaun out of grief and rage.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Azula is a calculating, mercurial, power-hungry Fire Nation royal who defines herself by being better than Zuko. She's also only fourteen, was also The Unfavorite along with Zuko (in her case, her mother is the one who scorned her and treated her as unsalvageable, even as a little girl) and knows full well that she often resorts to manipulation to get what she wants and try and keep her friends around, but since she's been groomed to think that her only hope to be valued is to be perfect, she honestly believes that she has no other choice — if she puts her trust in others, they'll only betray her. She also has No Social Skills and cannot relate to other kids her age. Her psychotic breakdown before her Agni Kai with Zuko shows that deep down she knows that she's been acting out of cruelty and paranoia and all she wants is to be able to trust people to love her and believe that she's not beyond redemption.
- Jet was only a young boy when Fire Nation soldiers killed his parents and burned down his village. As a teenager, he holds nothing but an intense hatred towards the Fire Nation which drives him to not only assault an innocent old man just for being a Fire Nation civilian, but flood an entire village full of innocent Earth Kingdom civilians just to kill the Fire Nation soldiers in it, showing no remorse for his actions until the Gaang put a stop to his plans.
- Hama. Kidnapped and imprisoned by the Fire Nation army as a teenager, prevented from bending her native element (water), it's no wonder she took her only chance of escape, by turning the guards into People Puppets by bending their body fluids. But then she snuck into the Fire Nation and started kidnapping innocent civilians with the same technique she used on the prison guards...
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- Mr. Freeze:
- In "Heart of Ice" he was splashed with cryogenic chemicals while fighting with his boss, who he'd been stealing resources from to find a way to cure his terminally ill wife, Nora. He was even willing to kill innocent people to get revenge. This interpretation of Freeze proved so popular that it spread into most other adaptations of Batman.
- In The New Batman Adventures, Freeze's condition had worsened, reducing him to a living head without a body. Nora was revived but left him for one of her doctors. A comic tie-in expands on this. Nora's new husband, jealous over her love for Victor, hid the letters that Victor wrote to her. When Nora found out, she tried to return to Victor but could not accept his criminal past.
- By the time of Batman Beyond, his wife's gone, and although he gets a second chance in a clone body and tries to make amends for all the people he's hurt, he relapses, gets betrayed, barely survives the attack on him, and proceeds to freeze his betrayers for trying to perform a premature autopsy on him, then aims to commit suicide by blowing up the man's company, killing hundreds of innocent people in the crossfire. His Final Speech to Terry, the new Batman, is one of the best done Alas, Poor Villain moments ever.Terry: Freeze, you've got to get out of here. The building's about to collapse.
Freeze: Believe me, you're the only one who cares.
- There are other villains besides Mr. Freeze who qualify for this trope. For instance, there was Calendar Girl, a former model who got too old for the business and now seeks revenge on those who forced her out or failed to restore her youthful beauty. She is later revealed to actually be gorgeous under her White Mask of Doom, but:Batman: All she can see are the flaws.
- And then there's Mary Dahl, better known for her defining (make that inescapable) role and Catchphrase:Baby Doll: I didn't mean to...
- Mr. Freeze:
- Charmcaster becomes a literal case of it in Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, where after liberating her homeworld only for its inhabitants to promptly start killing each other in a fight for the throne, she becomes disillusioned and decides to kill all of them in a ritual to resurrect her dead father. When this doesn't succeed, she becomes even more of a Broken Bird.
- Superman Substitute Homelander was this in his Origins Episode of The Boys: Diabolical. He had severe PTSD from Vought raising him to be a Tyke Bomb, but genuinely still wanted to help people despite this. When he fails at this due to being Wrong Genre Savvy, the survivors' loud rebuke causes him to dissociate and kill them all against his will.
- Courage the Cowardly Dog: Dr. Zalost is a clinically depressed Mad Scientist envious of other people's happiness. Desiring to make everyone as miserable as him, Zalost rains cannonballs down on Nowhere, converting its denizens into hollow shells of their former selves. Even when the mayor of Nowhere relents and pays him handsomely to cease his attack, Zalost decides to continue it after noting that the money still didn't make him any happier.
- The DC Animated Universe's rendition of Ace from the Royal Flush Gang. She's a scared pre-teen girl whose massive Reality Warper and Master of Illusion powers have wrecked her life. She's first trained by the government, then joined The Joker and the Gang, and then not only do we learn that Joker wants to use her to kill/mind rape everyone, but she ends up snapping and mind-raping him. It ultimately turns out that Ace's powers are killing her and she could potentially kill everyone in the whole city she's in as she passes away; and this happens in days when she's so desperately lonely that she has warped a part of a local park into a creepy house and kidnapped people to try making friends. Amanda Waller then tells Batman to give her a Mercy Kill before she has her fatal meltdown, but when confronted by him Ace asks him to "Stay with Me Until I Die", he complies and she dies quietly by his side, which keeps her from destroying the city. Batman then carries the kid's lifeless body in his arms, visibly and genuinely saddened by this.
- In one episode of Fairly OddParents, Timmy's dad becomes dictator of the world because he lost a race that would've impressed his wife. His regime has everyone always smiling even when making threats as demonstrated by Chester and AJ (who are officers of his reign). When Timmy goes to his dad's house/manor, he reveals himself as this during the ensuing conversation.
- Family Guy:
- Meg Griffin, especially in the episode "Dial Meg For Murder," when she returns from prison and gets revenge on everybody who bullied her by dishing two No Holds Barred Beatdowns to Peter and the popular kids at her school (by filling a bag with unopened soda cans and hitting them with it). Brian snaps her out of it by showing her an issue of Teen People Magazine and describing her as "Far sweeter and kinder than the average teenage girl."
- World from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, who destroyed his own world in rage when the gang tried to take Frankie back home, and is still the Woobie considering his depressing back story and the fact that all he really wanted was a friend who was willing to stay with him.
- Yivo from Futurama, always faced system incompatibilities when he tried to court the Futurama Universe. Philip J. Fry got him interested.
- Gargoyles has Demona. While a lot of it is her own doing, but that poor girl has suffered. Losing almost her entire family, being abandoned by everyone she loved and trusted, and being hunted for a thousand years by a family who is extremely fond of Disproportionate Retribution? That'll mess anyone up. The only thing that keeps her going is her insistence that it's Never My Fault; if she ever stopped denying the truth, she'd implode. The episode 'City of Stone' gives us a very good example of how badly Demona is broken.The Sisters: You must give them the code.
Demona: (In a trance) I will have vengeance for the betrayal of my Clan... Vengeance for my pain.
The Sisters: But who betrayed your Clan? And who caused this pain?
Demona: (Getting agitated) The Vikings destroyed my Clan!
The Sisters: Who betrayed the castle to the Vikings? (Note: It was Demona and the Guard Captain.)
Demona: The Hunter hunted us down.
The Sisters: Who created the Hunter? (Note: Demona did)
Demona: Canmore destroyed the last of us...
The Sisters: Who betrayed Macbeth to Canmore? (Note: Demona)
(Pan to wide-eyed 'What have I done' look on Demona's face)
Goliath: Your thirst for vengeance has only created more sorrow. End the cycle, Demona... give us the code...
Demona: (Tears forming while saying slowly) The access code is...alone.
- An incomplete Invader Zim episode involves a giant creature called Squishy, Hugger of Worlds, a childish titan whose planet hugs eventually destroy them. According to plot ideas, Squishy is constantly tormented by other races (including Zim's species) and hugs planets like a sad child clings to a blanket or teddy bear.
- Ezekiel Rage in Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures, particularly in his first episode, where he is a delusionally tortured man bent on revenge for the loss of his family.
- Tala from Justice League, while a villain and a powerful sorceress, is driven entirely by a longing for affection and a need for someone to love her. As a result she's constantly used, abused, mistreated, and treated as a means to an end by Cadmus, Felix Faust, Grodd, and finally Lex Luthor, who intends to use her in a process that will resurrect Brainiac at the cost of her life, which he intentionally made painful purely For the Evulz. She ultimately retaliates by interfering with the process so it resurrects Darkseid instead, not caring that it will end the world (and possibly all worlds) and kill billions as long as one of those deaths is Lex.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Tarrlok and his brother Noatak, better known as Amon turn out to be examples of this flavor of Anti-Villain. Their father was Yakone, the infamous crime lord that Aang had defeated and Depowered decades before the start of the series. Yakone proved to be a Horrible Father, perhaps almost as bad as Ozai. He forced Tarrlok and Noatak to learn bloodbending so that he could use them to exact his promised vengeance against Republic City; Tarrlok grew up into a corrupt and power-hungry politician, while Noatak turned on Yakone and ran away from home, with a festering hatred of bending that would one day lead to him starting the Equalist revolution under the guise of Amon. Ultimately, Tarrlok has a Heel Realization and kills himself and Amon by igniting the fuel tank of Amon's escape boat using an Equalist shock gauntlet.
- In the final season, Kuvira. Like Amon, she too was a Well-Intentioned Extremist, but also driven by severe abandonment issues, oweing to her own parents kicking her out when she was 8 years old, and seeing her nation being abandoned in the same way when it needed help most.
- Weathervane/Paula Haze from Loonatics Unleashed. She was treated like crap by Misty Breeze. No wonder the poor girl snapped.
- Chat Blanc in Miraculous Ladybug. He's a Bad Future Akumatized version of Chat Noir... who became vulnerable to Akumatization when he found out his father was his archnemesis, and said father made him choose between Ladybug and his mother, resulting in an Angst Nuke that wiped out all of Paris... at least.
- Princess Luna in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic became Nightmare Moon and tried to cause eternal darkness because the ponies all rejected her beautiful night that she creates, much preferring Celestia's day. This doesn't seem so bad, except that Luna's special talent (signified by her cutie mark) is the night, and the series establishes on numerous occasions that very bad things happen when a pony's special talent is rejected; it's just in this case the one being rejected was a physical goddess.
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- Elmer Sglue is a textbook example. He started out as a boy who liked eating glue. Other kids picked on him for it, and he was pushed so hard that he became a glue-monster, and became a destructive threat towards Townsville. In the end, he just wanted Buttercup to apologise to him, and he pulls a HeelFace Turn afterwards.
- The Sandman. He hardly ever gets any sleep, because people are making so much noise at night, and he has lived like that in years. This has caused him to attempt to make the whole town sleep forever, so that he can finally sleep himself.
- The Real Ghostbusters — One of the more character-driven episodes "Ragnarok and Roll" deals with Jeremy, a man angry at the world over breaking up with his girlfriend, Cindy, and vowing to bring about the end of the world. He nearly succeeded as he brought Ragnarok into full swing and the Ghostbusters were unable to stop him. Had Cindy and Jeremy's companion, DyTillio, not talked sense into him, the Ghostbusters were ready to detonate their proton packs in an attempt to stop Jeremy and the end of the world.
- Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island gives us Simone Lenoir and Lena Dupree, settlers who came to what would become the area around New Orleans two hundred years ago, presumably to escape religious persecution. Their commune, by sheer bad luck, fell under attack by merciless pirates, who fed everyone except them to alligators For the Evulz. Making a Deal With the Pagan Cat God for enough power for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, they found that they had been cursed with immortality and the need to suck out souls to maintain it. It's quite jarring that, at the end of the film, they get the same punishment as their accomplice Jacques.
- She-Ra and the Princesses of Power has Catra as this in Season 3. Even though she does love Adora deep down, having been raised by Shadow Weaver and being The Un-Favorite of the two gave her a horrible inferiority complex. So when Adora ends up joining the rebellion to fight against the Horde, after having promised to always be there for her, Catra becomes willing to join Hordak as his second-in-command in his conquest of Etheria, and even destroy all of Etheria and everyone in it, including herself, as long as it means she wins out over her.
- South Park:
- Satan, especially in The Movie. He often comes off as just a nice, friendly guy who tries to act tough, and all he really wants is to move up to live on Earth (even if that will doom humanity). Just listen to his so-called Villain Song, "Up There."
- Trent Boyett. The reason he wants revenge on the main characters is that he was put in juvenile hall due to doing something they asked him to do, and when it had terrible consequences he got all the blame. They convinced him to light a fire in the classroom (so they could play "fireman" and put the fire out by urinating on it), but it quickly burned out of control and their teacher was horrifically burned; Trent was sent to juvy and the main four weren't punished at all. Butters also saw what actually happened but he wouldn't speak in Trent's defense, so Trent wants revenge on him as well.
- Kyle Broflowski becomes one in Season 21. He's always trying his best to do the right thing, but is met with suffering cruel treatment from others, being shunned by his peers, being constantly ridiculed by Cartman, or all of the above. It doesn't help that he learns that his father is the infamous Troll Skankhunt42 who trolls women for a cheap laugh. Despite all this, he tries to keep his morals and do the right thing. It's not until a girl he likes dumps him for Cartman and becomes another version of him that he finally snaps, takes his rage Canada blaming them for the meanness of South Park, and actually got the country nuked.
- Spider-Carnage, of Spider-Man: The Animated Series. An alternate version of Spider-Man, he watched first Uncle Ben, and then Aunt May die in rapid succession. The creation of his clone, Ben Reilly, only worsened his mental stability, and the revelation that he, and not Ben, might be the clone drove him almost completely over the edge, leading to an attempt on the latter's life. What firmly pushes him into this trope though, is what happens following his possession by the Carnage symbiote. Driven out of his mind, Spider-Carnage combines the Spot's portal technology with a disintegration bomb that will destroy not only his own world, and not only the Universe, but the totality of the multiverse. As he puts it: "I'm gonna destroy all reality". Clearly insane, and running on pain and angst, he's eventually snapped out of it by a talk with another universe's Uncle Ben, leading to a last minute HeelFace Turn, followed by suicide.
- Lapis Lazuli in Steven Universe. She was a Gem trapped in a mirror the Crystal Gems only used to power said mirror and for recording Gem history. It is revealed that she was a Gem civilian who got caught in a battle on Earth, poofed, and placed in the mirror by Homeworld, believing her to be a Crystal Gem and seeking information. When she is freed, she wants nothing more than to get home, but her cracked gem impaired her ability, so she uses the oceans to try to get back home. Unfortunately, she didn't intend to go down without a fight when the Crystal Gems tried to stop her.
- In the Season 2 finale, The Cluster is revealed to be this. They don't want to destroy the Earth, they just want to take a form so they can find the pieces of their missing Gems. Unfortunately, if they ever took form, it would destroy the Earth. They do get a somewhat happy ending, though.
- Blue Diamond, member of the Big Bad Duumvirate of the Great Diamond Authority. The first time we hear about her is in one of Garnet's flashbacks, telling about how she was about to shatter Ruby and Sapphire for accidentaly fusing when attacked by the rebellion... but when we finally meet her in person, she spends all episode crying, musing how much she misses Pink Diamond (who was apparently shattered by Rose Quartz) and how she's trying to preserve her human zoo and she also refuses to shatter the whole species of Rose Quartz, despite Yellow Diamond saying she should because it was one of them who shattered Pink Diamond, to which she simply answers "But they were hers". Yes, she's still an imposing giant figure and yes, she still commands an army of Homeworld Gems, but one can't help feeling sorry for someone who has been pining the death of a loved one for about five thousand years.
- In Steven Universe: Future, of all people, Steven himself becomes this in the episode "I Am My Monster", when his self-loathing, combined with unchecked traumas, feelings of purposelessness and uncontrolled powers, corrupts him and turns him into a pink Kaiju-like monster. Luckly, he gets better, thanks to a combination of a cooldown Group Hug and a healing kiss from Connie.
- Toyman from Superman: The Animated Series. When he was a boy, his father was a toymaker conned into opening up a toy factory funded by mob boss, Bruno Mannheim, who then used the factory for his own means, playing the boy's father for a patsy, and getting him arrested. The guy died in prison before getting a chance to make parole, and his son was bounced from various foster homes. Now an adult, he adopted a persona with a giant doll head with an eerie smile for a mask, using toys as weapons (powerful enough to take even Superman by surprise) to take his revenge on Mannheim, and later Superman for interfering. After learning his backstory, Lois Lane summed it up best.Lois: He was a sicko, Kent... but I can't help feeling sorry for him.
- Frank Welker personally theorizes that his character Megatron from Transformers might be one of these, mentioning several times in his interviews that he asks himself why Megatron is so angry all the time, and it might be because there's "a lot of hurt" inside him. It's somewhat played with in the IDW comic adaptation of Transformers: Generation 1 and in Transformers: Prime; there Megatron was a miner turned gladiator who suffered the harsh life of the Cybertronian working class, living under the corruption of the Autobot/Cybertronian high society, until he decided to change the system to a more equal variation in peaceful, non-violent ways, only to meet bloody supression. This forced the idealist to change his tactics to more violent ones, leading to war that slowly turned the idealistic rebel into a bitter and angry warmongering tyrant.
- Blackarachnia from Transformers: Animated. She really didn't want to be turned into a half-organic mutant, and only wants to be restored to her original form and re-accepted into Transformer society (namely, with the Decepticons; she no longer trusts the Autobots). However, the methods she resorts to are unethical and often dangerous, and her old friend Optimus knows that he has to stop her hurting anyone.
Waspinator: Wasp...forgive...Bumblebot...but Waspinator NEVER FORGIVE!
- Wasp is another example. He was falsely accused of being a Decepticon spy, sent to Autobot prison, driven insane by his time there, and forcibly transformed into a Techno-organic by Blackarachnia. However, he is a homicidal maniac, a Decepticon, and wants revenge on Bumblebee, who didn't know that Wasp was framed. When he found out, he eventually apologized. The newly-dubbed Waspinator's response?
- Predaking, of Transformers: Prime, is earth-shakingly powerful... And very, very alone. His Decepticon handlers regard him as a mindless beast, and treat him as one until he discovers and reveals his true nature, at which point he is rewarded with mistrust, deceit, and betrayal by those he swears his loyalty to. It should come as no surprise that when he finds out about Megatron's involvement in the slaughter of his developing Predcon brethren, whose future was Predaking's foremost concern, this is the breaking point, and he tears a path through the Decepticon army, hellbent on finding Megatron and settling the score.
- Teen Titans (2003) features Terra, whose backstory starts bad and gets worse during the events of the show. She suffers from such a high level of Power Incontinence that she's been consistently turned on and attacked by people she's sought to help in the past, due to her powers going haywire afterwards. Thanks to some paranoia-inducing claims by Slade, she believes Beast Boy has betrayed her to the other Titans, and desperately goes to Slade because she believes he will be able to help her get control. This just leads to more misfortune, naturally.
- Making things even worse is the backstory fleshing out done by Teen Titans Go!: Terra used to be a princess in a country called Markovia, but she was forced into a painful power-gifting experiment to turn her into a Super Soldier.
- Another example from the same show is Raven, who will actually cause The End of the World as We Know It and the episodes leading up to it make her Woobie status very clear.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
- Baxter Stockman. His character tends to go through massive changes with each version, but in both versions he starts off as a promising and well-meaning inventor who falls under the evil shadow of the Shredder. After going through an insane amount of abuse from everyone, including the Turtles, he grows more hateful, devious, and cruel. Finally, a freak accident transforms him into an insane monster (Fly-mutant in the 1987 & 2012 series, Cybernetic brain in the 2003 one), and he sets out to destroy all those who wronged him, especially Shredder and the Turtles.
- Nox, the hopelessly insane Big Bad of Wakfu. His true goals are, at first, ambiguous, and we are led to believe that he'll be more of a Card-Carrying Villain early on, but three quarters of the way through, we learn that he is trying to turn back time for some reason. Not until we see the bonus episode dedicated to his past do we realise his true intentions and motivations. From there on, he becomes less of an amusing Saturday morning cartoon villain and more of a deep, tragic character who you can't help but feel for, even as he commits acts of genocide. In fact, at this point, if Nox were to suddenly reappear without his mask and turn out to be even remotely handsome looking, he very much risks falling into Draco in Leather Pants territory. This doesn't happen, as his last appearance is...a shot of his armor in a pile of dust next to what is assumed to be his family's grave.
- Carl the Evil Cockroach Wizard from Yin Yang Yo!. It is implied on numerous occasions that his failed attempts at being a villain efficient and physical abuse of his older brother, is resentment that motivates him to try to defeat Yin and Yang to impress his mother.
- The superheroine Ms. Marvel in X-Men: The Animated Series had her life destroyed by the mutant Rogue (a villain, at that point), who somehow sucked out her soul and buried it in a hellish prison deep in her own mind. She became increasingly obsessed with punishing Rogue for this, even after she reformed, as well as somehow obtaining an end to her own suffering.
Woobie Destroyer Of Worlds / Western Animation