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Rinsohma

Who needs a heart, when that heart can be broken...?

"Oh! I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt," said Estella, "and of course if it ceased to beat I should cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no--sympathy-sentiment--nonsense."

These characters (often female) are coping with a Despair Event Horizon or a Dark and Troubled Past by becoming as cynical, stoic, and/or badass as possible.

Her deep experience and emotional detachment almost always give the impression of competence, though she doesn't always live up to her own hype. Varying between Cool Big Sis, Emotionless Girl, Little Miss Snarker, and Snark Knight, she marks herself as more experienced and worldly than the other characters, even if the Competence Zone means she herself is barely out of her teens.

In fact, she can sometimes fill a mentor role for less experienced and more idealistic characters, all the while loudly expressing her irritation with said arrangement, so no one gets the impression she's softening up. Sometimes, this is to Jerkass levels; however, she is most often a sympathetic Jerk with a Heart of Gold, giving an impression of independent toughness to hide a sincere affection for the other characters.

This character was a hero herself once and failed miserably, or maybe she was abused in some way as a kid; whatever the case, her cynicism undoubtedly stems from some traumatic event in her past that destroyed her faith in just about everything. This revelation is normally accompanied by a Freak-Out, said past often delivered in a bitter diatribe towards someone who proved a bit too stubborn in their desire to know what it was. At this point, tears are guaranteed, probably more of them the less she's expressed emotion in the past. She also has a 65% chance of engaging in serious physical violence against whoever is closest at the time. This is always treated seriously and Broken Birds have a tendency to be both prone to violence and very good at it, therefore, potential Love Interests should always prepare to be at least slightly maimed during these breakdowns.

If she is cured of her emotional torment, expect any of a number of paths. At best, she will continue on as a deeper and less emotionally constipated version of who she was before...but at worse, she may fall prey to Good Is Dumb or mutate into a Shallow Love Interest or Satellite Character. Expect Hope Is Scary on the road to recovery.

A subtrope of Troubled but Cute, which sometimes they start as before becoming broken. Overlaps with Stoic Woobie and Jerkass Woobie.

Examples of Broken Bird include:


Anime & Manga

  • Pictured above: Isuzu/Rin Sohma from Fruits Basket. A Stoic Woobie who has gone through lots of heartache thanks to her Abusive Parents and the head of the Sohma clan, but hates herself for even wanting to cry on Tohru's shoulder and pushes away her boyfriend, Hatsuharu, to not get him hurt any further.
    • You could make a case for said head of the family, Akito, too - though it isn't clear until pretty damn far into the manga why. Her grief manifested less as hypercompetency or great worldliness, but rather through wild mood swings, crying at the fear of abandonment, and physically abusing family members - including blinding Hatori in one eye, pushing Rin out of a window and later locking her up until she almost dies, repeatedly thrashing Kisa, and stabbing Kureno (one of her lovers, and the most loyal to her). All of which springs from a really bad childhood with a loving Disappeared Dad who died when she was a little girl, a very cruel and arguably crazy Evil Matriarch of a mother, and being forcefully raised as a boy to avoid being seen as a threat by said mother, who poisoned her with hatred and insecurity.
    • Kyoko, Tohru's mother, used to be one in the past, also thanks to Abusive Parents who left her as an emotional wreck. She became a sukeban to ease the pain, and was then healed by becoming Katsuya's wife and Tohru's mom.
    • Saki Hanajima as well. She had a loving family, but everyone else outside the Hanajima household hated and bullied her due to her near emotionlessness and Psychic Powers. It took Arisa and Tohru LOTS of effort to help her get better.
    • Tohru herself, in the manga and second series, is shown to have severe self-esteem issues hidden under her eternal smile. She gets better. Akito also tries to Break the Cutie in regards to her but fails.
    • Kana, Hatori's fiance, went through this when Akito injured Hatori's eye after Hatori asked Akito for permission to marry Kana and Akito blamed Kana for Hatori's injury. Kana was so mentally broken by Akito's abuse that ended up agreeing, and became consumed by grief, falling into madness as a result. Hatori had to wipe her memories of their relationship.
  • Sailor Moon: Every one of the inner scouts feels like this or is this to different degrees. Ami's parents are divorced, her mother loves her but cannot be with her all the time, her father lives abroads and she's shunned for being too smart; Rei's mother is dead, her dad is a Workaholic politician, and she's shunned for having Psychic Powers; Makoto's parents are BOTH dead and she's shunned for being a Delinquent; Minako depends on the canon, but even in the anime, she was treated poorly by her schoolmates AND had to defend the world alone for some time. Enter Usagi, recruiting and befriending each one, giving them back their belief in The Power of Friendship.
    • As for Usagi, while she's normally the All-Loving Heroine, she approaches this in the live-action show and the manga (Crystal hasn't gotten that far). She kinda comes close in the Stars season of the anime as well, being a mild Pollyanna who acquires shades of Stepford Smiler because she doesn't want to make her friends worry over her. Ultimately, It Gets Worse, but after a huge Heroic BSOD, she ultimately overcomes this.
      • Even more so, in the live-action series Moon has a Super-Powered Evil Side named Princess Sailor Moon, who was very much this. Cold, ruthless and full of grief over the destruction of the Silver Millenium and the death of Endymion, PSM was determined to get her beloved Prince back, and destroy the world if she had to do so.
    • Subverted by Black Lady aka the Brainwashed and Crazy, aged-up Chibiusa. In the first anime, she claims that her parents abandoned her and that Luna-P is her only friend ever, and joins the Big Bad due to her pain over it. This is because Wiseman has not only forcibly given her an age and powers upgrade, but has given her Fake Memories enhanced by his dark energy. She ultimately reverts to her original and non-broken self after either: an I Know You Are in There Somewhere Fight with Tuxedo Mask and Sailor Moon, who has temporarily transformed into Neo Queen Serenity (first anime) or via witnessing Pluto's Heroic Sacrifice to stop Prince Dimando from destroying the universe (manga, Crystal).
  • Reki in Haibane Renmei, complete with wings. Note that Fred Gallagher, the man responsible for Megatokyo and the title of this page, is an admitted Haibane Renmei fan.
  • In Kodomo no Jikan, Sae Shirai is this because of how emotionally stunted she is. She's extremely cynical, near-emotionless, and has the saddest backstory of all four teachers. She's been defrosting a bit, though.
  • Tsunade and Konan from Naruto. Hinata was extremely close, but she barely averted it via Character Development, which was prompted thanks to Naruto.
  • Misato in Neon Genesis Evangelion. Like most of the cast, she has a traumatic past, which she hides behind a cheerful Bottle Fairy demeanor.
    • And Asuka doesn't fit? Considering what happened to her in her own past...
    • A lot of the female cast from Eva fits. Pretty much the only ones who don't are Maya and Mari.
  • Faye Valentine from Cowboy Bebop.
  • Madoka Ayukawa from Kimagure Orange Road. This is especially evident in both the next-to-last manga chapter and the first movie, but arrived at in significantly different ways.
  • Cher in Wolf's Rain.
  • Juri in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
    • Anthy, too. She's so broken that her actions almost manage to defy character analysis.
  • Revy from Black Lagoon is the Sociopathic Hero version of this. She also hits every single button on the trope (tragic past, cynical attitude, mentoring a more idealistic teammate, such as Rock, etc.). In one Don't You Dare Pity Me! lecture during the first season, she says:

 Revy: God? Love? Don't make me laugh. Back when I was just a brat, crawling about that shithole city, it seemed like God and love were always sold out when I went looking. Before I knew better, I clung to God and prayed to him every single night. Yeah, I believed in God, right up until that night the cops beat the hell out of me for no reason at all. All they saw when they looked at me was another little ghetto rat, with no power and no God.

  • Revy is unusual in that she's usually brimming over with emotion (usually visible boredom or annoyance when there's nothing to shoot at and unrestrained glee when there is), but goes through the above speech in complete stoicism, foreshadowing her lapse into Whitman Fever later on in the arc.
    • Balalaika. Oh God, Balalaika. Thanks to the Afghan War, the cute teenager who wanted to become an Olympic marksman and make her family proud ended up as a cynical, scarred, and stylishly brutal Mafia queen.
    • Yukio Washimine sets out on the path to Broken Bird-dom in the "Fujiyama Gangsta Paradise" arc. She ends up crossing the Despair Event Horizon after losing everything, including her near Star-Crossed Lover Ginji, and kills herself in the end to deny Balalaika the last laugh.
  • Zakuro Fujiwara from Tokyo Mew Mew rejected a band of True Companions that offered to include her, because she "didn't want to join anything". Someone she cared for died many years ago, her fame and beauty made people only want to be around her for shallow reasons, and on top of that, she'd become a half-animal Magical Girl. She eventually saw that the girls were sincere and became their close friend, even going as close to returning Fan Girl Aizawa Minto's affections as they could show on TV.
  • Caren from Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch, first season.
  • Jounouchi Sai from Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer, especially in the anime, where they delve into her backstory.
  • Juri in Digimon Tamers.
    • Much more prominently, Ruki, who actually lives up to the mentor role of this trope with Juri.
    • While Ruki is a Little Miss Snarker, she doesn't have an especially tragic past. While her parents are divorced and her good-intentioned yet childish Hot Mom pushes her rather hard to follow in her footsteps, her home life is otherwise quite normal and healthy. Juri, on the other hand, is much closer to this trope and has the prerequsite troubled past. Her bright, cheerful demeanour would appear to be a mask to hide her inner pain due to her mom's death and her inability to relate to her dad and her kind stepmother, a mask that shatters after the brutal killing of her partner, Leomon. In fact, Ruki has an inner monologue in which she aknowledges that she may be hard on others and all but still has loved ones that support her unconditionally, whereas Juri's emotional/mental problems run terribly deep, and which finishes with Ruki feeling useless as she cannot help Juri.
  • Angel from The Big O - right down to the scars on her back where her wings were plucked. It's hard, learning that your memories were fabricated and being told that you're not human; little wonder she ends up piloting a Deus Ex Machina Humongous Mecha in order to erase the world. There is some debate over whether or not this is what really happened, however.
  • Shizuma in Strawberry Panic.
  • Chika Ogiue from Genshiken.
  • Mukuro from Yu Yu Hakusho. Arguably, also Genkai.
  • The main character of Elfen Lied, Lucy, fits this trope to a T.
  • Nico Robin from One Piece. It seems the reason why she's so distant, and even why she was introduced as an antagonist working for the Big Bad from two seasons ago, as well as why she (seemingly) abandoned the Straw Hats, is because of The World Goverment that took everything from her, including her mother, her only friend, and, eventually, her home island (yes, you read that right, her home island was annihilated by the World Government), because the archaeologists there stumbled on an Ancient Conspiracy, from reading tablets which were illegal. Since then, she experienced 20 years of people taking her in, claiming to help her if she helps them, and then selling her out when the agents come knocking, since she has a tremendously high bounty and the World Government lied about who she is and what she's capable of. Since her whole life then had been about betrayal, when Admiral Aokiji, who was one of the Marines who took part in her home's annihilation (then as a Vice-Admiral) met her again, and a secret government organization made themselves covertly known, she decided to turn herself in, if they agreed to let her friends go. To her surprise, not only did the Straw Hats charge to rescue her, but declare war on the entire World Government, proving she truly is one of their True Companions after all, leading to a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming in which Robin, the most cool, collected, and guarded member of the crew, bursts into tears.
    • Prior to the waterworks, Robin actually tries to convince the Straw Hats to stop trying to save her by claiming she was going to leave anyway. Luffy's response? "That's fine. If that's what you want, you can leave AFTER WE SAVE YOU." So yeah, they were prepared to go to hell and back for someone who had been a True Companion, even if that person had cut all ties.
    • She's not the only one: Nami and Hancock show signs from time to time. Nami is shown to have been spectacularly broken as a little girl in the Arlong Park arc (due to the brutal murder of her adoptive mom and her years in Arlong's crew), and Hancock was utterly destroyed in her pre-teen years as a child slave tortured into almost insanity (alongside her sisters, Marigold and Sandersonia) by the World Nobles.
    • The most recent member of this group is Charlotte Pudding, who became this due to having been badly abused by pretty much near everyone in her surroundings, including her mother "Big Mom, for having a Third Eye on her forehead.. As a result, she tearfully and savagely snapped at a little girl, and ends up as a massive Bitch in Sheep's Clothing until Sanji, whom she's supposed to kill, shows her true empathy and kindness; when this happens, she breaks down sobbing.
  • EVERYBODY in Noir. This is, in fact, the series's Characteristic Trope in some crime-drama circles.
  • In the Prince of Tennis anime, Tezuka's tennis coach in Germany is a beautiful ex-professional player named Hannah Essenheimer. She had her dreams trashed five years ago, traumatized by the bullying of other players who even came to steal and destroy her tennis gear before a very important junior tournament. She becomes embittered, cynical, and borderline alcoholic, but Tezuka and Echizen help her regain faith and return to the professional circle.
  • Layla Hamilton from Kaleido Star fits as well, having a distant relationship with her well-intentioned but work-a-holic father and acting very exigent towards Kaleido Stage newbies, especially Sora Naegino and her friends. Slowly, the story reveals the events that shaped her into who she is...
  • Rue in Princess Tutu. In fact, she thinks she's the daughter of a monstrous raven (who's also incredibly and horribly abusive to her), which is where a lot of her angst comes from.
  • Isako from Dennou Coil
  • Ai Shinozaki, aka Corrector Ai, in Corrector Yui.
  • C.C. from Code Geass. She initially treats Lelouch with detached interest, repeatedly claiming that she's only helping him because it's part of their deal and chiding him for any little mistake. Her backstory, partially revealed in the first season finale and completely unveiled in episode 15 of R2, shows that she's an ex-slave girl who first had a Geass of her own, later was made immortal by the nun who gave her her Geass, and then spent the next few centuries in pursuit of her "one wish", which has left her a shattered wreck who doesn't even consider herself a human being any more. Whenever Lelouch learns a new part of her story and reassures her that he's on her side, it sets the stage for a slightly warmer relationship in the second season...which results in her being broken differently (after Lelouch learns the rest of the truth), losing all of her accumulated memories since she got her Geass. And later, she gets her memories back and her emotions become even more apparent. In the end, the time she spent with Lelouch was enough to restore her humanity, and she grew out of her boredom with life.
    • Kallen Kozuki is another case, given the divorce of her biological parents and the loss of her brother, Naoto, to the war that led to Britannia's occupation of Japan. On top of that, her father is now married to a Gold Digger who treats her like dirt for being a half-breed, and her biological mother has been reduced to live with them as a maid. Even though she has the luxury of living with her dad in nobility and attending Ashford, Kallen does so while secretly fighting as part of the resistance group that eventually becomes known as the Black Knights, in hopes of freeing her homeland from Britannian tyranny and, not knowing that her mom accepted the raw deal to make sure Kallen would be well-treated, is bitterly disappointed on Mrs. Kouzuki. At first, she also has a healthy grudge towards Britannia, though she softens up after saving the lives of her fellow classmates during the Lake Kawaguchi incident.
      • Fortunately, Kallen is shown to be better in the end of the series. She reconciliates with her mother, they live in an apartment in Tokyo and still attends Ashford Academy. And Mrs. Kouzuki, while bedridden, seems to have started to recover from her drug addiction; it's implied that her father is still with her Britannian stepmother.
  • Princess Kushana from the manga version of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Another character even explicitly describes her as such.
  • Mei from Manabi Straight!.
  • Meia from Vandread is an excellent example of this. She starts out as an Emotionless Girl, but thanks to Character Development, she gradually grows into a more caring and compassionate Cool Big Sis. In the second season's Grand Finale, a character who hadn't met her since before the series' start expresses shock at seeing her smile.
  • Misa Hayase from Macross. The daughter of a high-ranked general who's emotionally distanced from him, Unlucky Childhood Friend to another military man (who's dead, but she doesn't know it), and the sort-of leader of Gloval's Bridge Bunnies. As she befriends and falls for Hikaru Ichijo, she becomes more emotional and sometimes simply doesn't know what to do with her feelings.
    • After being betrayed by her own manager, torn down from the spotlight, and enduring a severe relapse in her terminal disease, Sheryl Nome from Macross Frontier becomes this. Even fits the "mentor to Ranka Lee" part.
    • After his mother died, Alto Saotome was forced to either give up his dreams of flying in the sky and return to acting for the Saotome Kabuki Acting school to succeed it or be forever disowned by his father, removed from the house, and have to fend for himself. He chose the latter and became a male version of this trope.
    • Former aspirant Idol Singer, now music producer and songwriter Myung Fan Lon from Macross Plus is a textbook example as well, especially after her bonds with Guld and Isamu were utterly trashed.
  • Louise Halevy, Sumeragi Lee Noriega, and Nena Trinity from Gundam 00.
  • Once you see through her Magnificent Rich Bitch facade, you see that Dorothy Catalonia from Gundam Wing is a really broken bird who has suffered a lot after the loss of her father, General Catalonia, in the last war.
    • Arguably, Lucrezia Noin and Lady Une are like this too.
    • The Frozen Teardrop novels give us main character, Kathy Po, and especially Treize's maddened mother, Angelina Khushrenada, who was completely broken after her and her husband Ein Yuy's Star-Crossed Lovers deal was cut off horribly.
    • And from Episode Zero, we have Middie Une and Long Meiran.
  • Iserina Eschenbach from the Mobile Suit Gundam TV series becomes this, after her boyfriend's death.
    • Sayla Mass has some traces of this trope, too. The most broken of them all, however? Lalah Sune.
      • Arguably ALL of the women in Mobile Suit Gundam are this. Fraw Bow becomes one after she states her disappointment at Amuro's selfishness and disillusionment after being forced to pilot the Gundam; Mirai Yashima becomes one after the White Base reaches the Side 6 colony when she explains more about why she left Side 6 to escape and arranged marriage that she did not agree to; Crowley Haman becomes one after the death of Ramba-Ral; Kycillia Zabi, becomes one after her brother Ghiren explains that he had their father, Degwin Sodo Zabi, killed to keep Zeon forces fighting instead of negotiate for peace; to which she promptly KILLS him in front of all of her men and states that she will hold herself accountable for murder after the war is over.
  • Amuro Ray is a perfect male version of this trope. He watches his father get sucked into space during the Zeon attack on Side 7, only to meet him later in the series and discover that he suffers from oxygen starvation and is clinically insane due to his prolonged exposure to vacuum. After the White Base reaches Earth and travels west to Ireland, Amuro meets his mother at a small village where she is a nurse. After certain events play out, she tearfully disowns Amuro when he refuses to leave the Federation and continue fighting Zeon forces in the Gundam. Lastly, after Lieutenant Matilda Ajan sacrifices herself to protect the Gundam from the revenge of Gaia and Ortega of the Black Tri-Stars following the death of their friend Mash. Amuro had deep feelings for her, but never got the chance to tell her.
  • Kai Shiden is another male example: after the White Base is ambushed over the Atlantic Ocean after leaving Ireland, he uses the Gunperry transport plane to defend the ship with Miharu Ratoki. Miharu previously hid aboard the White Base as a spy for Zeon, but met with Kai in Ireland before the attack to explain that she takes jobs she does not want to do in order to take care of her little brother and sister after their parents abandoned them. Kai develops feelings for her and understands why she chose to be a spy, but convinces her to leave Zeon and find another way to live; Miharu helps Kai fire a missile that had malfunctioned during the battle over the Atlantic, but it pushed out of the Gunperry from the exhaust and dies falling to the ocean. After the battle is won and the White Base safe, Kai realizes what happened to her and is heartbroken for a LONG time throughout the remainder of the war.
  • Four Murasame, Rosamia Badam, and maybe Sara Zaviaroff from Zeta Gundam. Reccoa Ronde may have been one too, if her incredibly bitter Famous Last Words are a reliable signal.
    • Haman Karn, of all people, is revealed to be this in Gundam ZZ, as meeting such an honest and friendly person as Judau Ashta is beginning to reawaken some of her old softness. She says, right as she dies, that she was glad she got to meet Judau because of this. Prequel manga Char's Deleted Affair confirms it by showing a teenaged Haman as a cute and earnest Genki Girl. The switch is... jarring, to say the least. Throughout the manga, she gradually changes into the cold and ruthless Haman the viewers are familiar with.
      • Roux Luka becomes this at the end of Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ after she kills Glemy Toto during their battle. Roux knew Glemy was in love with her, but she never returned his feelings because he had some serious parental issues that he constantly mentioned and also was a Zeon soldier.
        • Puru-Two, after Elpeo Puru sacrifices herself to save Judau from the Psyco Gundam Mk.II becomes one after Judau and Puru's spirit reason with her.
  • Ennil El from After War Gundam X, if not one of these at the start of the series, is most certainly one after the end of the Estarde arc. She does admittedly go through a weird, "kinda" Yandere phase after she tries to genuinely reach out to Garrod and let him know he's not alone, only to get shot at because his people skills were crap at the time and he got scared, in which she just wants him to die at someone's hands, but she eventually just gives up. Cue a Ramba Ral-esque conversation with Bridge Bunny Toniya and an attempt at a normal life, and then...stuff happens. Thankfully, she resolves to help Garrod and company out and gets a happy ending.
    • Garrod's mentor and Team Dad for the Freeden crew, The Captain Jamil Neate, counts as one of the rare male Broken Birds, as an ex Kid Hero who is left physically and emotionally scarred after he used his Gundam X to fire the lethal shot that brought about the disastrous Colony Drop.
    • Garrod's partner and love interest, Tiffa, has some traces of this, manifested in her pathological shyness and inability to connect with others. Starting to trust the Freeden crew (aside from her adoptive father, Jamil) and learning that her horrible visions aren't set on stone are big parts of her Character Development.
  • Yumi Komagata from Rurouni Kenshin. Once a very well-known, beautiful, and intelligent oiran (courtesan), she fell in despair during the Meiji Restoration (which is shown in the to Rule Flame prequel story) as she saw the uglier side of the Japanese high society and experienced many hardships, like the murder of her family when she was a teen, being sold to a brother, and later losing her best friend Hanabi. Fed up with this new world, built on lies and injustice in her eyes, she turned towards a man who offered her dignity and solace: Magnificent Bastard Makoto Shishio.
    • Other broken birds in this series are Shura the Pirate (forced to reject her femininity to lead her men without fear), Tomoe Yukishiro (hardened and depressed after her fiancé's death, learns to love again thanks to Kenshin...and dies), and Sayo Magdaria (a lonely Christian Ill Girl who closed herself since her parents' violent deaths).
  • Kagerou from Basilisk. A beautiful woman whose powers literally kill through sex, she's forbidden from marrying the only man she's ever loved, despite possessing all other requisites (beauty, noble blood, Action Girl skills, etc.), thus, she becomes very embittered and sad as time passes and loses all hope of being happy with Gennosuke...
    • By the end of the series, Princess Oboro has become so utterly broken...that she ends up killing herself both to save her beloved Gennosuke and free herself from the Gambit Pileup she's trapped in. This makes Gennosuke cross the path into broken bird-dom, and he kills himself too, Oboro's lifeless body in his arms.
  • Takako Shimizu from Chobits hides her pain so well that only Hideki's best friend, Shinbo (and the rest of the main cast, by extension), ever discover it. No one else had a clue that she had basically become invisible to her husband due to his infatuation with a persocom. Shinbo's a big believer that The Power of Love can heal her and succeeds.
    • Hideki's friend Yumi is another Chobits example, but for an entirely different reason. She'd found out that her boss, the owner of the Chiroru Bakery, had once been married to a persocom who, entirely by coincidence, was also named Yumi, who tragically died after sacrificing herself by pushing her husband out of the way of an oncoming car. This made Yumi feel inferior and afraid of being compared to his wife. She forced herself to quit her job at Chiroru to avoid the pain of having to see him. This also eventually works out, thanks to Hideki.
  • Both Kikyou (after being revived) and Kagura from Inuyasha.
  • Many in Mahou Sensei Negima. Particularly Evangeline, Setsuna, Asuna (during flashbacks, and partially after her Laser-Guided Amnesia is undone), and Mana Tatsumiya, who is one of the straightest examples of this trope that you can find in Anime.
    • Don't forget every single member of Fate's "harem". They were all orphaned, shunned, abandoned, or abused in their war-torn pasts, hence why they adore Fate so fiercely...because he gave them another chance to live.
  • Princess Charlotte, aka Tabitha, from Zero no Tsukaima.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya. Think of the 'breaking' event as the baseball game, and the aftermath when she realized she was really nothing special turned her into a total Jerkass Cloudcuckoolander for three years[1]. The SOS Brigade is formed and she has a small, reflective moment where she describes the above ("being angry and cynical wouldn't stand out!") but gets no real emotional resolution because Kyon doesn't know what to say. Kyon also notes that she's coming out of her shell and he thinks she's not becoming a better person, but returning to being a good person.
    • Yuki Nagato, too. She lives out 2 weeks repeatedly for more than 15,000 times in Endless Eight. That's nearly 600 years, according to Kyon's calculations in the anime and in the novels. In both versions, Kyon sees her sadness easily, and worries, because she is usually The Stoic turned Up to Eleven. That experience gave her emotions, and made her steal Haruhi's powers and create an alternate universe where everyone is normal and Haruhi is Put on a Bus. It also nearly led to her deletion by her boss. If you thought 8 episodes of Endless Eight was bad, just imagine going through the whole thing more than 15,000 times, with no breaks, and each episode lasting 20,160 minutes instead of 23 minutes.
  • Vietnam, according to some Axis Powers Hetalia Fanon based in the country's Real Life History. In it, she was once an innocent young fisher-girl, but years of suffering as a plaything to China, France, America, and other larger powers forced her to become a battle-hardened soldier. Exactly how broken and embittered she is, is left to imagination: sometimes she's an unstable Dark Action Girl, sometimes, she's the Team Mom to the younger Asians. (The canon goes by the second interpretation, as she's shown to be rather quiet and mature but with slight self-image issues.)
  • Hitomi from Welcome to The NHK appears to be successful despite her constant ravings about conspiracies. However, in the middle of the series, it is shown she is a bit of an outcast at work and unhappy in her relationship, even to the point that she joins a suicide pact and seems intent on jumping off a cliff over the ocean, until her boyfriend asks her to marry him, thus saving her.
    • Misaki, despite also being the Token Loli of the series, also has some very apparent Broken Bird tendencies as well. She flinches noticeably when she presumes another character is going to strike her because of the fact that she was forced to live with her abusive stepfather who constantly beat her, and she also attempts suicide by throwing herself off the same cliff her mother did years before.
  • Basically, all of the Orochi (male or female) in Kannazuki no Miko. The qualification for joining the Orochi is having a troubled past, and all of the characters in the original Orochi have either been through wars (Miyako and Girochi), sexual abuse (Corona), medical testing (Nekoko), or other violent situations. Many of the characters compensate by acting strong or confident, however, it is revealed in later episodes how destructive their pasts all were.
  • Urd, the elder half sister of Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess. She's had a great deal of trouble coming to terms with her part divine, part demonic heritage, though she's made significant progress with it over the course of the series.
    • Also, Morgan Le-Fay from The Movie, a fairy who was very embittered and sad due to having failed to go through the Gate of Judgement with her loved one, who eventually abandoned her. As a result, she became the local Dark Magical Girl.
  • Maron Kusakabe/Jeanne from Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne became this because of Parental Abandonment. Because of their work, her parents often left her alone as a little girl, and it is implied that, even when they were home, they fought a lot. Before Maron was even in grade school, they moved overseas for their jobs, leaving Maron behind, and at the start of the series, Maron hasn't gotten a single letter or phone call from either of them since. She hides her sadness most of the time, but the only reason she's anything resembling okay when the series begins is because Finn's around and she doesn't have to spend every night alone in her apartment any more, though having her best friend, Miyako, and her family right across the hall probably helps. (What the hell has social services been doing this whole time?)
  • Miyuki Asaka of Game X Rush, before going right over the edge into Crazyville. Yuuki occasionally has moments of vulnerability, which cast him in this light.
  • Erza from Fairy Tail. Later, Ultear, when we learn her Freudian Excuse and her true motivations.
  • Mai Valentine/Kujaku from Yu-Gi-Oh!, an ex-Lonely Rich Kid who had lived by and relied on herself since her parents had passed on, acting cynical and disenchanted until Jounouchi calls her out on her treatment of her opponents, Yugi wins back the star chips she lost due to the Player Killer, and (in the anime) Anzu duels her for Yugi's sake. After she defrosts, she reverts because Yami Marik put her into a coma where she was trapped in an hourglass, slowly forgetting everyone who ever loved her. Then, she has recurring nightmares about the experience. She winds up joining the bad guys, because they have a magic thing called the Orichalcos that helps her cope.
    • A case can be made for Isis Ishtar, too, Malik's Cool Big Sis who can barely watch her little brother fall into insanity due to their common destiny...
      • Another could be made for Kisara from the Egypt arc.
  • Minatsuki Takami of Deadman Wonderland invokes this in people so that they will be unwilling to fight her. Then she tears them apart. She may be getting better. Emphasis on may.
  • Wolf Guy Wolfen Crest: Akiko Aoshika. Ryuuko Kounuma is a disturbingly genki one.
    • The student body vice president, Noriko Kimura, probably counts now too.
    • The cute blonde girl just joined the pack.
      • Basically, every female character.
  • Shuffle has three of these:
    • Kaede Fuyou, greatly broken as a little girl due to her beloved mother's death and not being able to cope with it. Made worse because Rin blamed himself for the accident that killed Mrs. Fuyou and his parents, which drove Kaede to abuse him as revenge -- and it's only when the whole deal is cleared up that she can start living again. And then he falls for Asa and Kaede mentally splinters again...
    • Asa Shigure's mother, Ama. Her past as a normal demon woman chosen as the first test subject experimented on by the gods and devils was really, really bad. She still cries from all the trauma..
    • Ama's daughter, Asa, also has a period in which she behaves as one. Asa has huge demon powers and they start awakening, but Asa refuses to accept them, despite how the Power Incontinence is literally killing her. This is because Asa clearly remembers how Ama cried when she once used them accidentally, and she doesn't want to make her beloved mother relive her past life. Once Rin reaches for her, she gets better, but it takes him lots of effort (and having to deal with Kaede getting broken and unstable as well).
  • Hitagi Senjougahara from Bakemonogatari.
  • Anri Sonohara of Durarara. Her father's abuse and the witnessing of her mother murdering her father and killing herself left her without the ability to love.
  • Lily Maguire from the first Fatal Fury OVA.
  • Utako from My Lovely Ghost Kana is introduced as this. The first hint she has moved into the apartment is sobbing from the shower. She comes to live there with nothing but her guitar and a suitcase, previously having been living on the street. In a bit of expository dialogue, Daikichi narrates "Apparently while looking for work, she was led to an office and made to sign some contract written in some foreign language she had never seen before. And she hated it because she feared the big men and the cold showers and the dark little room..." However, she is trying her best to not dwell on her past, and it's never brought up again other than a later thought that, because of her new friends Kana and Daikichi, she's "not afraid to live anymore."
  • Suito Kusanagi from The Sky Crawlers. Being the only one who both knows that the Kildren never die, no matter how many times they are killed, and are condemned to follow the same meaningless actions forever, and actually cares, being one of them, has really screwed her up, despite her cool, professional demeanour.
  • Blue from Pokémon Special just barely averts this, which is a refreshing change, given that she has every right to wangst. She managed to stay reasonably upbeat as she spent a lot of time carefully planning to take down the Big Bad responsible for all her misery. (Admittedly, there are a few cracks now and then, especially when confronted with the crippling fear of birds that he had instilled in her.) After spending most of her time getting over everything (doing so in almost complete solitude), she finally found her parents and headed off for a joyous reunion... only for them to vanish right before her eyes. Ouch. Angst Coma was immediate, though she did wake up quickly enough to keep fighting.
  • Bleach: Tier Harribel and her fraccion are implied to be this, especially in the anime.
    • Also strongly implied in the cases of Jackie Tristan and Riruka Dokugamine as well. It was soon explained that Jackie came from a very poor family and her parents and little brother were murdered due to her father's involvement with the black market. Seemingly subverted in the case of Riruka, who was a Spoiled Brat and, in her childish naivete, didn't realize how badly her powers would affect the guy she had a crush on when she placed him inside her treasure box. Once she noticed, she let him go, and grew rather...bitter.
    • Orihime Inoue and Rukia Kuchiki got close to this, but managed to avert it at the end.
  • In D.Gray-man, Lenalee Lee turns out to be one of these, hiding a lot of bitterness behind her sweet and cheerful exterior. She outright hates the Black Order, the Innocence, and even God, because of what she went through. It takes her a LONG time to get better.
    • Miranda also had some shades of this before joining the Black Order, mixed with Butt Monkey. Even now, her self-esteem is badly damaged because of that.
    • Eliade. Holy shit, Eliade. Made even worse because she mixes it with Yandere too, since she loves Krory...and yet she's an Akuma.
    • Kanda, despite being male, is probably the best example in the series.
  • Kureha from After School Nightmare.
  • It's hard to decide who of the most "mature" Magical Girls in Puella Magi Madoka Magica is more broken: the cynical Homura Akemi or the more "smiley" Mami Tomoe. And after Mami's horrible death in episode 3, it seems Madoka may be getting closer to this as well...
    • Kyouko Sakura reveals herself as one when she explains her backstory to Sayaka in episode 7.
    • And Sayaka Miki herself ended up so broken...that by episode 8, she hit the Despair Event Horizon and became a Witch.
    • Episode 10 covers Homura's backstory. It is epic, and she is epically broken. And speaking of that episode, nothing says broken like learning the Awful Truth and deciding to keep that from happening to the others via triple murder-suicide. Poor, poor Mami.
    • In the end, Madoka barely averts this. She's very close, and then gets better. MUCH better.
  • In the prequel Oriko Magica, we have Yuma Chitose (despite being as much eight), and the Villain Protagonist Oriko Mikuni.
  • Satellizer from Freezing. Arguably, also Ingrid.
  • Ai Haibara of Detective Conan is an interesting variant due to her apparent age. However, her Little Miss Snarker attitude masks serious issues before she took the local Fountain of Youth, starting with the murder of her beloved older sister, Akemi, and the constant fear of being found by the The Syndicate. This is underscored by her choice of a pseudonym that means sorrow, instead of the common, homophonous love.
    • Considering how long the series is, we meet many other broken birds as time passes. Some of them are: Asami Uchida, Akemi Miyano (who is actually Ai's dead sister), Miyuki Hyuuga, Akiko Yonezawa, Rena Mizuhashi (aka Hiromi Hondou, aka Kir), Natsuki Koshimizu, Sakurako Suzuka, Chieri Aki, Jodie Saintemillion, aka Jodie Starling, Natalie Kuruma, Yuuko Arisawa, Shouko Utakura, Mary Sera, etc. For a male broken bird, look no further than Seiji Asou - though, as he's been under a Harmless Lady Disguise and known as Narumi Asai, people mistake him for a female; though one could argue that both Hiromitsu "Scotch" Morofushi and Rei Furuya/Tooru "Bourbon" Amuro can be seen as such.
  • Soubi from Loveless is a male version, filling the more cynical and experienced mentor role to Ritsuka and having a traumatic background that he doesn't talk about.
    • Ritsuka himself could count, becoming dark and hiding any form of emotion, not allowing himself to make friends and keeping everyone at arm's length after having to deal with his brother's death, which he was a witness to, having an abusive and mentally unstable mother, and having to deal with the trauma heaped on him not only by all this, but by his hunt for his brother's killer and warped, terrifying dreams sent to him by his own brother, who faked his death.
  • Rei Asaka, Kaoru Orihara, and Mariko Shinobu (as well as her mother, Hisako) from Oniisama e.... The plot seems to bend over to make main character Nanako join the broken bird-dom as well, but she barely averts becoming one at the end of the anime.
  • Kurumi Akino from Haou Airen thinks that Reilan is one of these, but how much of her attitude is broken bird-dom and how much is a pure bitch is up to the reader. (Her extremely harsh Dark and Troubled Past points at the first, though her cruelty to Kurumi resembles the second.) And by the end, for all of her Love Martyr tendences, poor Kurumi either barely averted becoming one, or did turn into a broken bird and then set on the path to recovery.
  • Happens to Yomi Isayama from Ga-Rei Zero. Because it's a prequel to the manga, you get to see her break down as things seem to go from bad to worse. Particularly heartbreaking when she's in the hospital recovering, and is unable to communicate at all, and although she goes through the motion in one scene, she is unable to cry due to losing her voice, which ultimately helps her to make her Face Heel Turn. Also counts as Yomi's fall.
  • In Tsukigasa, Kuroe goes from idealistic and righteous to purely cynical after the person he loves cuts his arm off and he runs away from home, ending up dying in a ditch only to be saved by robbers (whom he hates).
  • Yuri Tokikago from Mawaru Penguindrum, as of episode 15.
    • Towards the end, Masako Natsume also shows sympthoms of this. Especially in episode 22. Ringo and Himari manage to avert becoming such, though.
  • Claymore has an entire Amazon Brigade of broken birds.
  • A female-to-male Transsexual example: Claudine de Montesse from Riyoko Ikeda's Claudine The poor dude is so utterly broken that he shoots himself dead. WAH!
  • Seine Miyazaki fron Hekikai no AiON. She was abandoned by her biological parents, her first foster father sold her to her second foster father who turns to be an abusive man, who maked her work, steal and traumatized her until being unable to swim. Her third foster father was loving and caring ( not to mention, she loved him and wanted to marry him) but ended eaten alive by the mermaids in from of her eyes and since she decided to follow the You Killed My Father path, she became target of the mermaids and Brainwashed and Crazy people for centuries and counting. All this combined make her a hell of an Ice Queen Action Girl.
  • While Princess Fala/Allura from GoLion / Voltron averts this, Princess Amue / Romelle comes damn close after being captured and badly abused by the Galra/Drule Empire's Prince, Sincline/Lotor. The one-time characters Lissa/Tywla and Gorgon/Medusa are the very definitions of the trope, however.


Comic Books

  • Jessica Jones from the comic book Alias (no relation).
  • Empowered has two, not counting the main character: Ninjette, who describes herself as a professional drinker/ninja, is haunted by her father's alcoholism, an abusive past, and her clan's plan to use her as breeding stock; and Sistah Spooky, who sold her soul for her looks, but hasn't worked out any of her issues with beautiful blonde girls. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • Why, exactly, aren't we counting the main character? Emp's got more than her share of issues too.
      • Emp isn't broken, although she's badly bent. She'll get stomped by a huge zombie, a foot deep in the ground, her outfit trashed and most of her powers gone...and get back up and try again, to the point where Thugboy has to jam her suit in the garbage disposal to prevent her going out when she's so sick she can barely walk.
    • Oh, and let's not forget Mind████...Between the telepathy she can't turn off, her horrible break-up with Sistah Spooky, and being forced to gouge out her eyes and cut out her tongue by her older brother, it's no wonder she can get a bit cynical.
      • And the only reason she seems well adjusted, aside from self-imposed regular isolation? She's forcibly re-edited her own pscyhe to suppress certain...problematic impulses in order to be as unlike her older brother as possible. That's right, she's so broken she brainwashed herself into faking un-breaking.
  • Katchoo from Strangers in Paradise is outwardly tough but a frightened little girl inside, probably because of her terrible childhood and all the years she spent running from her Mafia Princess ex-girlfriend. She's very dependent on Francine and David (and later Casey), but can be very abusive of them as well, and she tends to hit the bottle after every serious fight with them.
  • Cassandra Cain, the second Batgirl.
  • Barbara Gordon, the first Batgirl, after her spinal injury at the hands of the Joker. Complete with hypercompetence, mentoring of other heroes (though Huntress and Black Canary were really Broken Birds themselves, rather than cheery optimists), the requisite explosive teary breakdown early in her story when her partner learns a bit about her horrible past, and a slow evolution into a happier, less bitter, and more open person...only to be promptly reverted two decades back to her immediate post-shooting self when her series was cancelled. Expect a second boilerplate Broken-Bird-evolves storyline, with the third Batgirl in the 'cheerful mentee' role, over the course of the new volume of that series.
  • Laura alias X-23, Marvel comics.
  • Still in Marvel comics, there's Spider Woman/Jessica Drew. On top of her already broken and screwed up past, she gets caught by the Skrull and impersonated, and when she's rescued, almost everyone hates her, which makes her grow even more cynical than she was in the past.
  • Following the reboot, Solstice in Teen Titans is this. Despite seemingly taking her shift in appearance (she now looks like she's made of charcoal and has deep black smoke for hair) graciously then most would, Kiran has stated that she was forced to do horrible things in order to survive after N.O.W.H.E.R.E. kidnapped her. She also broke down and started crying when she realized Red Robin already knew well beforehand about what the organization was doing to teen metahumans but waited to make a move because he needed more tangible evidence.


Film


Literature

  • Number Six from I Am Number Four. Especially in the sequel book, when she is promoted from an Eleventh-Hour Ranger to one of the central characters.
  • It should be noted that a number of Romance Novels lean on this trope when the love interest of the heroine is an Anti-Hero with a scar from the past for her to heal. Sometimes involves a bit of that one as well. Women want to Heal the Cutie instead of Break the Cutie.
  • There are so many of these in the Gemma Doyle trilogy that it's like somebody gassed an aviary, then went inside and just started stomping.
  • Melinda Sordino from Speak.
  • Estella from Great Expectations.
  • Fuchsia from Gormenghast.
  • In the Fingerprints series, Yana Savari does a good job of pretending to be a Genki Girl, but her backstory is revealed to be one big Break the Cutie. In the final book, her Broken Bird nature finally comes to the surface.
  • Arya Stark from A Song of Ice and Fire is a pre-teen version of this, having gone from plucky and rebellious tomboy princess to borderline psychotic killer after all the torment she had to go through ever since her family's fall from grace.
    • Her girlish older sister Sansa doesn't fare much better, having gone through a massive Break the Haughty and Break the Cutie process that involved all kinds of abuse and betrayals - only to end up as the protegée of the Big Bad.
  • Vivienne Michel, the heroine of Ian Fleming's novel The Spy Who Loved Me titles one chapter of her fictional memoir "A Bird with a Wing Down". See also Honeychile Rider from Dr. No and Teresa "Tracy" Draco from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
  • Winterhart from Mercedes Lackey's Mage Wars trilogy starts out as a classic example of this trope, right down to the tragic backstory, repressed emotion, and the Epiphany Therapy courtesy of the protagonist.
  • Dia Passik is a textbook example. Sold into slavery as a dancer, harbored a polite hatred for others of her species, generally ruthless, and sort of hostile to her teammates. Then she does a Shoot Your Mate (he seems dead, she tells us she thinks he was dead, but it's ambiguous) and has a Heroic BSOD in which she tries to commit suicide. The teammate who stops her ends up, eventually, in a relationship with her, and she defrosts.
  • Lessa in Dragonflight. She was 11 when her entire family was killed; she's first introduced at the end of ten years disguised as a drudge and pretty much living solely for revenge. Needless to say, she has a lot of issues. Impressing a dragon and an eventual romance do a lot to allay them, though, and in later books, she's a lot more stable and one of the most badass authority figures around.
    • In fact, when F'lar asks her what she wants to do after her revenge is achieved, she has no idea because she was never able to think past that point.
  • Éowyn of Rohan, in Lord of the Rings, has been forced to nursemaid an ailing uncle and endure the sexual harassment of his Evil Chancellor for years. Not to mention her cousin dying in the war, and her beloved older brother being imprisoned (or banished in The Film of the Book) for trying to protect her...Even the Witch-King's terror aura didn't seem worse to her than that. Thank God she gets better and befriends, and then marries, Faramir, the local Wise Prince.
  • Adora Belle "Spike" Dearheart, in Going Postal.
  • Susan Rodriguez in The Dresden Files after she becomes a Half-Vampire.
  • Vin from Mistborn, especially near the beginning. She was raised by her abusive Jerkass of an older half-brother to trust no one and be continually suspicious of people's motives- as the author puts it "she's not a bad person- she just thinks everyone else is." Learning how to trust and form meaningful bonds with others is the central thrust of her character development throughout the trilogy.
  • Leitha from The Redemption of Althalus is very much a broken bird - emotionally detached, very snarky, and traumatized by having to hear the thoughts of everyone she meets. Nearly getting burned at the stake didn't help.
  • Percy Jackson and The Olympians has Thalia. Luke could also qualify for a rare male version of this trope.
  • The heroine of The Sirantha Jax Series (Sirantha Jax) was involved in a tragic accident that left her lover and scores of people dead. It broke her rather badly, and she's in the beginning stages of recovery at the start of the story.
  • Lisbeth Salander practically defines this trope. Unless you think she's a Jerk Sue instead.
  • Sinai from Black Dogs. She blames the tragic fate of her cousin on herself and becomes a Death Seeker bent on revenge.
  • Olive Nolan already starts out as this in Tranquilium, being a rather world-weary Lady of Adventure. She becomes this even more so after going through at least two different Mind Rape sessions and a prolonged period of utter insanity, though she did eventually get better from that last one, at least. Svetlana becomes this too, by the end, but to a much lesser extent.
  • Lily Bard in Charlaine Harris' Shakespeare series, due to her having been gangraped, tortured (leaving her body permanently scarred), then left for dead.
  • When we meet Rochalla in the first of the Shadowleague books, she fits this trope perfectly, though she (oddly enough) gets better when she is forced to flee for her life with a bunch of strangers.
  • Arguably, all K-named reincarnations (It Makes Sense in Context) in Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt. This starts with the very first, Kyu, who is abducted from his home as a child, castrated and horribly disfigured on a boat in the middle of nowhere, and finally mobbed to death by an enraged populace (one of the other characters remarks, after he comes out of his fever after said castration, that he's a different person altogether), and continues on with all sorts of unpleasantness. In fact, much of the overarching conflict is based on this particular soul's Broken Bird status.
  • Talia (Sleeping Beauty) from The Princess Series is an almost textbook example of this since her tragic past causes her to have a very stoic, sarcastic, and violent attitude.
  • Abigail Tillerman in The Tillerman Family Series, big time. Luckily, for her, her naturally sharp personality hides it well.
  • Mira's group of university friends in Marilyn French's The Women's Room are varying degrees of this trope, except possibly Iso. Chris becomes one after her rape, and Mira herself is one by the end of the book.
  • Susan Jagger of Dean Koontz's False Memory. She's crippled by agoraphobia so severe she can't even look out her apartment windows, and is completely convinced somebody is somehow breaking into her apartment at night and raping her. She's right, too. Her agoraphobia was planted by her psychiatrist, who puts her into a hypnotic trance so he can get into her apartment and not just rape her, but Mind Rape her into playing whatever sick games he devises. These are all calculated to make her cry, because he gets off on her tears. He pretty much breaks her for his own amusement...and she's not the first person he's done that to, either.
  • Miranda in L. Jagi Lamplighter's Prospero's Daughter, it turns out. Her Backstory actually did turn her into the Emotionless Girl.
  • In Death: Eve Dallas starts out as this before meeting Roarke. In fact, the series can be considered her journey to healing from the damage she received from her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • Nicci of the Sword of Truth, and how. Her abusive and bafflingly-misguided mother and Brother Narev turned a nice, sweet little girl into a Sister of the Dark and servant of the Imperial Order. Her backstory lingers a lot on how much she's actually this under her armor of unfeelingness, in lurid, horrifying, and tragic detail. An unusual example because she spends most of a year trying to fix herself, but being so broken, goes about it in a completely ridiculous way. Despite that, she manages to get healed, but not at all how she expects.
    • Richard himself after being tortured by Denna for a month. So that "no mental damage" thing he appeared to escape captivity with? Heh. He had actually become insane, but kept it under wraps except for certain triggers that would immediately break him down. It took a lot of Fridge Logic and growing up for him to snap out of it. He does end up healing himself, too (This is historically before the Nicci example, but hers is much more prominent).
    • This is actually how you make a Mord-Sith. Yeah. It's actually more horrible than it sounds. Richard humanizing his Mord-Sith detachments is one of the most heartwarming moments of the series.
    • Small example: The Haken girl who doted on the Minister of Culture from the Anderith storyline.
    • Jennsen, to some extent. It turns out that being pursued by Lord Rahl around Dhara for 3/4 of your entire life makes you spook easily and afraid of people. Who knew?
  • Elizabeth Bathory in Count and Countess.
  • Both Arpazia and her daughter Coira in White as Snow. After her rape, Arpazia goes into lengthy trances where she forgets reality and her face is often described as an eggshell when she is being particularly stoic. Coira's only strong emotion was love for her mother until Arpazia wounded her. After that, she refused to feel much of anything.
  • Pertelote in The Book of the Dun Cow—and quite literally, seeing as she's a hen.
  • Lucy in Someone Elses War, a young woman who has been with the LRA since she was six and has had at least one child born of rape.


Live Action TV

  • Ace from Doctor Who seems to fit this well.
    • One of the many interpretations in fandom of why Amy Pond acts how she does is that she's one of these. Though, let's be fair, you'd be broken too if your parents had been erased from existence and even from your memory, except you had a constant nagging in your head that you can't remember who they were or how you lost them. If Amy really was a Broken Bird, by the end of series 5, she's definitely fixed after having her parents restored.
  • Veronica Mars is indisputably a Broken Bird, it being the key character point which defines her in the first series - she's cynical about the world and much older in her mind than her seventeen years because her life went to hell within the space of a few months less than a year before we meet the character (her best friend is murdered, her dad (the sheriff) loses his job and they lose their house, her mother leaves her and her father, she is drugged and raped at a party (and laughed at when she reports it), and becomes a social pariah in a school where money makes the world go round). But she takes the new kid under her wing and makes friends with bikers, so it's all good. :)
  • Faith from Buffy the Vampire Slayer straddles the line between this and Dark Action Girl, depending on what season she's in. Heh, straddles.
    • Also, Kate from Angel.
    • Buffy herself was taking on aspects of this by the end of the series.
  • Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly is a rare male version.
  • Policewomen and Action Girls Olivia Benson and Dani Beck, as well as attorneys Alex Cabot and Casey Novak from Law and Order Special Victims Unit. Heck, pretty much any female in the show ends up as this.
    • And elsewhere in the franchise, Law and Order: Criminal Intent has Alex Eames, an extremely good police detective who is still suffering from the fact that her husband Joe was killed in the line of duty years before the show began.
  • Farscape's Aeryn. Dead parents, dead friends, dead ex-boyfriends, torturing people, killing people, being tortured, killing more people, her own people hating her...she's very, very broken.
    • Her repair is fittingly epic.
  • Battlestar Galactica's Kara "Starbuck" Thrace.
    • Several of the Cylons argubly fit the trope, too. Boomer (all models), Gina...
  • Claire from Heroes has become this, after the events of Season Three.
    • It seems like they tried to write Kate as this, but made her so selfish and dislikable that she just comes off as a Jerkass rather than genuinely hurt.
  • Lily from Privileged, Megan's younger troubled sister. Over the course of the series, she takes Sage out to a bar, despite Sage being sixteen, steals one of Rose's tennis bracelets (and almost gets away with it, except she wears said bracelet to dinner in a later episode), and ends up spending time in jail because she was set up by her drug-dealer husband. Towards the end of the season, she appeared to be improving, but since the show was cancelled, we'll never really know.
  • Dr. K in Power Rangers RPM. She spent her entire childhood in a government research facility, being told she was "allergic to sunlight" to keep her from leaving, so she could devote her life to doing advanced science for them. Her one attempt at escape worked, but only because she accidentally unleashed a sentient (possibly alien) computer virus that nuked the world. For some odd reason, she...doesn't get along with others very well.
  • Claire Saunders and Adelle DeWitt in Dollhouse.
  • Dr. Temperance Brennan of Bones. Being shuffled through a dozen or so foster homes from age 15 on (after both her parents went out on Christmas Eve and never came back) doesn't do nice things to one's psyche, to put it nicely. It's no wonder she deliberately acts as emotionlessly as possible as an adult.
  • Ziva David from NCIS practically exemplifies this trope -- her father brought her up to kill people, up to and including directly ordering her to kill her own brother, Ari, which she does, and then never really gets over. Most of her close family members are dead (and not of natural causes), and the two men she's fallen in love with have both died, one of radiation poisoning and one was shot by her partner, Tony. Ziva is consistently unemotional: while she does get angry, she is unlikely to show sadness or hurt; this is directly referred to by other characters. She is a skilled assassin and normally shows little or no remorse for killing.
    • Ducky, the NCIS medical examiner, had an episode literally titled this, where a painful event in his past is brought up. It ends in him breaking down weeping, if that tells you anything.
    • Gibbs isn't the most emotional either.
  • Olivia Dunham in Fringe for a good part of season 1. The pilot episode pretty much sums up why.
    • Not to mention the experimental drug trials she participated in as a child, and the abusive stepfather she almost killed in self-defense when she was eight years old.
    • And she's back to being this as of the season 4 premiere. That is, until the return of her memories from the previous timeline.
  • Isabella from Robin Hood. Her parents died in a fire, she was sold to a sadistic rapist at age thirteen, and her relationship with Robin does not end well. (This was a controversial character, considering she was such a sympathetically Broken Bird and yet the writers eventually chose to kill her off as an irredeemable villain.)
  • Detective Kate Beckett in Castle, who has had to live with both her mother's brutal murder and, due to what she considers the lack of imagination of the investigating officers, the fact that her killer was never caught.
  • Most of the female characters on Deadwood are at least slightly crumpled around the edges -- rather understandably, since the show's set in a frontier mining camp where about 98% of the women in town are prostitutes. Special mention has to go, though, to Joanie Stubbs -- suicidal, lesbian incest survivor/brothel madam whose first tentative attempt at independence ends up with three people dead after her business partner sells her out -- and Calamity Jane, a self-destructive, alcoholic fuckup who's an outcast in a town made up almost entirely of self-destructive alcoholic fuckups. (Incidentally, the two wind up together.)
  • Kira Nerys of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, who grew up under the Cardassian Occupation, witnessed her entire family killed, and learned that her mother was the (willing) lover of the arch Big Bad in order to keep her family alive and relatively safe. And that's not counting all the crap that happens to her during the series. It's been mentioned elsewhere that while O'Brien had the annual "O'Brien Must Suffer" episode, the writers didn't need a "Kira Must Suffer" Running Gag because something horrible happens to her roughly every other week.
    • No pity for Worf? First, his family gets killed. He has to live amongst humans, who can't understand him. Then, he kills a boy, since he underestimated his strengh. He vows never to lose controll again. Then, his family gets dishonoured. His first love and the mother of his son gets murdered. He regains his family-honour just to lose it again. His brother gets suicidal, so they have to erase his memory for good and he loses the last of his family. His son hates him, and his wife and great love gets murdered. Poor guy can't get a break
  • Vala Mal Doran of Stargate SG-1 might have been one of these or might have just been messing with Daniel.
  • Claire and Juliet from Lost.
  • Degrassi gave us Ashley (post S1), Liberty (post S6), and Jane.
    • As of season 11, Bianca.
  • Tess Mercer of Smallville. She's a Corrupt Corporate Executive, Misanthrope Supreme, and Well-Intentioned Extremist, who's driven by a need to escape her past with her alcoholic, abusive father. The cynicism, sarcasm, and Zen Survivor attitude are all there, as is the desire for a Heel Face Turn. Her desperate gravitation towards Clark as a Messiah figure is quite hearthwrenching.
  • On Supernatural, Dean and Sam Winchester are rare male variants. They're both such incredible Woobies, but Dean is more repressed, stuffing down his real feelings for the sake of his family and the hunt. Throughout seasons three and four, particularly, he is a Death Seeker with little hope and less of the humor he started with. And no wonder, after learning he broke the first seal for the lead-up to the Apocalypse and being unable to protect his brother from himself.

    In season five, Dean was seriously considering accepting Michael and becoming a major force in the Apocalypse because he didn't trust Sam, Bobbie was crippled and contemplating suicide every morning, Castiel was disillusioned with God and had lost his angelic powers, and Sam was operating under the guilt from giving in to the Dark Side above his brother for a chance to kill the Big Bad that turned out to free Lucifer and start the Apocalypse.
    • By the end of Season 5, Sam was in a worse condition even though he seemed to be hiding it better than Dean. On top of everything above, the only hope to get rid of Lucifer and prevent the Apocalypse turned out to be for Sam to let Lucifer posses him so he could condemn himself to an eternity in the fallen angel's cage with Luciferduring the season finale, and he had to guzzle gallons of demon blood to do it after resisting his addiction for almost the entire season. And not even Sam believed he was strong enough.
  • Morgana from Merlin. If she had not been hurt, lied to, and ignored by the people she called friends, then she would not be where she is now.
    • Deconstructed with her behaviour with Gwen, a guard and innocent people only (played straight for everything else, mostly in season 4), with which this trope is subverted. While Morgana hurts the poor Gwen, her former best friend, because it is an easy way to attain her goal, Gwen is continously generous to everyone, and only betrays Morgana after the latter tried to kill her (a thing she suspects because Morgana smiled when she was dragged to the cells where she should be imprisonned by Uther) to save her lover and her buddies. Gwen is tortured/looked down upon/neglegected by everyone except Merlin (who remains oblivious to her crush on him), Gaius (who keeps her out of the way as much as Morgana when serious matters concerning her that Merlin must resolve arise), Arthur ( who repeatedly breaks up with her because he thinks he must marry a princess and otherwise a noblewoman and thinks she cheated on him and banishes the poor innocent Gwen) and some minor characters, being lacking power because of her low social status. Yet, unlike initially kind and powerful Morgana, who arguably can only be furous and traumatized because of Merlin, Uther and (indirectly) Arthur, plus two minor characters and punishes poor people who were indifferent/neutral in the conflict, and a guard who probably did horrible things, but was kind to her, she insists that killing Uther would make her as bad as him, even after he menaced to burn her at the stake and condemned her father to be imprisoned.
  • Sara Sidle from CSI. Although she falls more into the badass version than the non-emotional one sometimes.
  • The Inspector Lynley Mysteries' Barbara Havers pretty much had any semblance of optimism ground out of her with extreme prejudice after her little brother's death from cancer tore her family apart and her parents succumbed to mental illness and lung disease right before her eyes. When combined with the fact that she has No Social Skills (which have left her alone and misunderstood her entire life), a Hair-Trigger Temper (ditto), and massive class resentment issues, it's no wonder the poor thing was on the verge of being kicked off the force, Bunny Ears Detective or not, before she teamed up with Thomas Lynley. Although the show proceeds to further Break the Cutie (and also the haughty - her partner isn't spared), she softens and blossoms when paired with the one man who refuses to give up on her no matter how much she tries to drive him away. The result is a far more likable - but still snarky - Havers, in a rare case of a show helping put the bird back together again. Sort of.
  • Sue Ellen Ewing of Dallas counts; even if she hadn't married JR she probably would have ended up that way. But the cheating, drinking, and emotional abuse over the course of two insanely dysfunctional marriages seem to have done the trick.
  • Abby Maitland of Primeval became this after spending a year stuck in the Cretaceous. At some point there, she hit the Despair Event Horizon and gave up any hope of returning home. While she was wrong, she retained her new, tougher, colder attitude. The only person she opens up to much anymore is her boyfriend, Connor, who was with her in the Cretaceous.
  • Marguerite from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World qualifies. Despite the fact that she grew up basically alone because her adoptive parents did not seem to want her, her guilt over the death of her best and only friend before she came to the Plateau, her involvement in the war and her dealings with more than shadowy business contacts, she also has never seen her own birth certificate and sports abilities (like being able to read and speak any language no matter how old it is) that she doesn't understand and seem to frighten her.
  • Starting in season 4, Grace van Pelt from The Mentalist has taken a cynical turn following having to kill her fiance, The Mole for Red John, in self-defense.
  • Myka, Claudia, and Artie from Warehouse 13 embody this trope to varying degrees.

Music

  • The Tori Amos song "Me and a Gun". The fact she throws some really bitter snark into it just makes it more so.
    • Many of her songs fit this trope, but "Honey" is practically the Trope Anthem.
  • Buy a Sarah McLachlan album. Put it in your CD player/boot up your mp3 device and press 'Play'. Has she started singing yet? Good. IT IS THIS TROPE.
    • Afterglow really just serves to drive it home, as if Sarah's just finally coming to terms with her brokeness.
  • Beth Hart's "Leave the Light On."
  • The song "Broken Wing" by Thousand Foot Krutch is all about this.
  • More than one Ayumi Hamasaki song has shades of this, made even worse by the poppy, energetic tune.
  • The Lady Gaga album "The Fame Monster" definitely qualifies, particularly tracks like "Monster" (in which the narrator becomes as bad as her "monster"-boyfriend) and "Speechless" ("I'll never talk again [...] I'll never love again"). Not to mention Gaga's more overt use of her more gothic stylings.
  • Just about any song from Emilie Autumn's "Opheliac" album.
  • Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It", which is practically the Broken Bird anthem. Not far from this is Tina Turner herself, who left a violently abusive marriage with Ike Turner in 1978.

 What's love got to do, got to do with it?

What's love, but a second-hand emotion?

What's love got to do, got to do with it?

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

  • The subject of Blutengel's song "Broken Girl".
  • Amy Lee and Evanescence are this trope.
  • Pain of Salvation's albums "The Perfect Element I" and "Remedy Lane" both feature broken birds, the former a male and female and the latter just male. TPE even has the line "A wind-beaten bird/for reasons unheard" when introducing the female broken bird of the concept.
  • She Wants Revenge - "She Will Always be a Broken Girl" and "Rachael" are about broken birds.
  • Pick a Diary of Dreams song. There ya go.
  • Most Lacuna Coil songs (in the pre-Karmacode era) had Christina Scabbia come off as a broken bird.
  • Pick a Katatonia song, preferably from "Tonight's Decision" or "Last Fair Deal Gone Down" (one track in the former is titled "I Break", for example). Broken. There's even a meeting of the broken birds in "Passing Bird" (one is faking it, though.)
  • The Foreshadowing album "Days of Nothing" is a concept album about a male broken bird.
  • Savage Garden's "To the Moon and Back" depicts the mindset of a Broken Bird in all details.
    • "Gunning Down Romance" to an even deeper extent, though this time, it's the male singer experiencing it.
  • Mr Mister's "Broken Wings" is about someone trying to help a broken bird pull themselves together
  • The Crystalline Effect's songs 'Poetry' and 'Another Rainy Day' are about this trope.
  • Demi Lovato's album "Unbroken" is about a recovering broken bird.
  • Zoe's Adventures Under Ground's first album is called The Broken Bird E.P., and every song fits this trope.
  • Whatsername in American Idiot. Jesus Of Suburbia/Jimmy might be one by the end of the album as well, depending on interpretation


Myth and Legend

  • Older Than Dirt: Ereshkigal, the Mesopotamian goddess of the Netherworld, is the mythological variant of this trope to a tee. While she mainly shows up as the bitter, lonely, and adversarial older sister of the Genki Girl goddess Inanna/Ishtar, Ereshkigal's character is more elaborated elsewhere through her unhappy backstory and her encounter with the Troubled but Cute plague god Nergal. In a rare happy ending in a mythological love story, the two outcast gods eventually resolve their differences and resolve to rule the Netherworld together. (Scholarly opinions are divided on whether this resulted in Badass Decay of her.)
  • If the Romans are to believed, Queen Dido of Carthage from The Aeneid is this. She is happily married, then her brother kills her husband and forces her to flee her homeland. Then, she has to start a new city from scratch with a few men, and then Aeneas turns up. He has a love affair with her that ends badly (he leaves her because of the Jerkass gods). Later, she loses her sanity and kills herself.
    • To show just how badly she is broken when Aeneas leaves her, Vergil stretches to its limits the inherent flexibility of Latin word order (an effect lost in translation)--the word order and grammar are so horribly broken that the subject and direct object can be several lines apart.


Theater

  • Aldonza in Man of La Mancha. "Aldonza" (the song) is a great portrayal of anger and cynicism overlaying a very unhappy backstory.
  • Meg Giry in the sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, Love Never Dies, due to a combination of her falling for the Phantom, who still pines for Christine, and too much time on the Casting Couch over the ten years separating the two shows. She ultimately tries to kill Christine's son; she winds up actually killing Christine.
  • Niobe from The Love of the Nightingale. Procne and Philomele become literally birds after their Break the Cutie.
  • In the Addams Family Musical, there is a literal broken bird, at the hands of none other than Miss Wednesday Addams.
  • In Vanities, Kathy arguably becomes this after being jilted by Gary. Mary, with her Dark and Troubled Past, also somewhat qualifies.
  • In The Little Foxes, Birdie married twenty years ago into a Big Screwed-Up Family, who took her cotton plantation and sired on her an unlikable twit of a son. She spends a lot of time drowning her sorrows in her own room, which they try to hide by lying and saying she has a headache.


Video Games

  • The titular character of American McGee's Alice and its sequel Alice: Madness Returns is quite the cold snarker - then again, considering that her sister was raped and murdered, she was the only survivor of a fire that killed the rest of her family right before her eyes, and she was incarcerated into a Victorian asylum where she underwent horrific treatments, you can cut the poor thing some slack.
  • Over the course of Neverwinter Nights, Aribeth gets quite thoroughly shattered. By Hordes of the Underdark, what with her whole failed revolution and crisis of faith, she is definitely one.
    • Nathyrra from Hordes of the Underdark is also an example.
    • Alex from the fan-made module The Bastard of Kosigan also counts. Having her childhood boyfriend exiled from their homeland, getting involved with his insane older cousin, getting pregnant and having him and his soldiers beat her until she looses the child, being considered an embarrassment to her family, and being forced to work for the same man who got her pregnant and dropped her like a hot brick?
    • The entire point of A Dance With Rouges is to turn your character into one.
  • Viconia from the Baldur's Gate series, as revealed by her romance backstory.
    • White Magician Girl Aerie could almost literally be called a broken bird: she had wings, but they were cut off. However, her personality is generally far less snarky than this character type.
      • Heck, all the romances in BG2 are of this type. Yes, even stupid, whiney Anomen.
  • Alice from No More Heroes 2: Desperate Struggle. It's unknown exactly what caused her Broken Bird personality (possibly the killing of her supposed best friend Margaret), but she certainly acts like one.
  • Almost every major female character (and some male characters) in the Dragon Age series. To recount:
    • Leliana: former Orlesian assassin, betrayed, tortured, and raped on the orders of her beloved mentor (and lover) before the game begins. The sweet, pious Chantry sister started out as an act. She manages to actually subvert this beautifully: as her own narration and, more importantly, Leliana's Song DLC reveals, she has suffered enough traumatic experiences (betrayal by a loved one followed by brutal torture) to break another woman many times over; however, just as she was about to crawl into a hole and die, she got religion and started having prophetic dreams, one of which directed her to the Warden. At the end of the day, Leliana is easily the most cheerful and caring person you will ever meet in the game, strengthened by her ordeal rather than broken by it.
    • Morrigan: raised alone in the wilds by Flemeth, with little to no human contact of any kind and no experience relating to others in any way. Sent off by her mother to bear a child to a Grey Warden she may not even like. Granted, she's less broken than twisted, and there is little evidence that she ever had a more cheerful personality that changed as a result of a traumatic experience, making her a possible subversion.
    • The Warden: depending on your Origin, many, many possible nasty things happen to the Warden, all leading to long-term exile from home, though you can choose to play the angst as much or little as you please, and the Warden will always be some flavor of The Stoic.
    • Velanna: bears all the hatred of her people for past wrongs done to them by humans. The Warden first meets her attacking caravans after she was manipulated into believing the humans wiped out her entire clan and took her sister captive. Turns out, it was darkspawn, yet her people hold her responsible for the diplomatic mess that followed, so she ends up exiled and with the Grey Wardens. That she's a bit cranky is not much of a surprise.
    • Merrill: banished from her clan for trying to help them restore their former glory, she starts taking on more and more traits of this trope as the game goes on and her efforts get more desperate. Depending on Hawke's actions, her continued attempts may be destroyed; later, she is forced to watch her estranged mother figure pay the price for her trafficking with demons.
    • Isabela: as revealed by her romance backstory, she was sold off by her own mother at an early age to a merchant captain, and ended up sleeping with the assassin who killed her 'husband' to thank him, starting a long train of piratical activities and lots of sex to disguise her severe troubles with emotional intimacy.
    • Bethany: ...where to begin? Though this is largely only if she ends up a Grey Warden. If she ends up in the Circle, she retains much more of her stability.
    • Hawke: Forced to Watch Kirkwall and his/her family disintegrate around her. Most of it is his/her fault. Averted if you play Snarky!Hawke or Paragon!Hawke the whole way through, aside from a brief period of depression after his/her mother is murdered, though plenty have pointed out the possibility of Sad Clown and/or Stepford Smiler at work.
    • Fenris actually fits the trope description very well, despite being male. Most of his conversations with Hawke are just laying out how much of a mess his life is.
  • Visas Marr in Knights of the Old Republic 2 was spared by Darth Nihilus when he killed every other living thing on her homeworld, and was raised by him as a Sith. For a light side character, turning her back involves restoring her hope that Nihilus can't kill every living thing in the galaxy.
    • Meetra Surik, aka The Exile, is also quintessential example of this trope. While the only one to return from the events of Malachor V alive or not fallen to the dark side. The destruction of the entire planet accompied with the countless numbers of Mandalorians, Republic soldiers, and Jedi being annihilated--all of it she could feel through the Force to the point it was so overwhelming she had to cut herself from the Force otherwise die or fall prey to the dark side; and consequently made her a wound in the Force. Since then she had become a broken figure as the pain of all the destruction of Malachor V stayed with her, literally. Numerous times within the narrative she is called a "broken Jedi". Given the events they both suffered, it easy to understand why Visas and Meetra could so easily relate to one another.

 Visas: To see everything around you extinguished... it... was as if I was blinded. It was as if the Force had... been bled from the world...

Exile: ...as if everything suddenly went silent.

Visas: I imagine there are worse deaths, worse pain, but if there are, I do not know them. I was the only living thing remaining on the planet of Katarr... and my life, my agony was a flicker in the darkness that was the planet.

  • Mona Sax in Max Payne 2.
  • Rose from Legend of Dragoon. The reason is because she's actually the black monster, and has committed countless atrocities simply to keep the Big Bad from getting his way. It fails.
  • Karen of the Harvest Moon games is, in most of her appearances, a generous and compassionate Bottle Fairy. However, the game that introduced her to the series had her as a cynical drunkard with daddy issues.
  • And then, in Rune Factory 3, you have Raven, who you eventually learn has had every single person that she's ever become close to disappear, and she's positive that it's because she's cursed. So, she's vowed never to have another friend. She definitely has the violent part of a Broken Bird, what with her semi-accidentally shoving your character off of a cliff at one point, and in her later requests, she's very prone to tears. She's also about as literal an example as any Broken Bird can get.
  • Fire Emblem is littered with such characters:
    • In Fire Emblem Akaneia, there's Princess Minerva and Princess Nyna., and the remake adds Katarina, aka Reese, who can get better if one manages to recruit her. (And Eremiya, but only when we learn her tragic backstory.)
    • In the fourth game there's Brigid of Jungby, Ishtar of Freege, Altena of Thracia (or, better said, of Leonster); either Tailtiu or Ethnia of Freege (by the end of their Kill the Cutie years); Silvia's daughter Lene, her Expy Laylea, Larcei's Expy Creidne (but not Larcei herself) fit in as well. In the meantime Tailtiu's daughter Tine/Ethnia's daughter Linda mix this with Shrinking Violet, but ultimately they get much better.
      • And the fifth game has, aside of Lady Evayle aka the amnesiac!Brigid, Misha, Amalda and especially Fallen Princess Miranda of Alster, wh's badly traumatized by her father's execution and blames Leif for it since the King of Alster died because he protected him.
    • Blazing Blade: The Female Dragon Rider Vaida and Lady of War Karla. Also, according to Pent and Louise, Louise's cousin, Queen Hellene of Bern, is one as well. She used to be a sweet Ojou who wanted to be happy in her married life, but her Arranged Marriage to King Desmond turned out to be a really crappy one, and she ended up as a cynical and manipulative Hot Consort Rich Bitch.

  Pent: "She and the King were ill-matched. She has suffered much. (...) Such a sad life"

      • Believe it or not, Serra is one of these too. Yes, that Serra, the Genki Girl Rich Bitch who is actually a Stepford Smiler with a childhood full of abandonment, poverty, and pain.
      • When we meet Florina's Proper Lady sister, Fiora, she's dangerously close to broken bird-dom due to having lost all of her wingmates... Flori has to quickly talk her out of going into a suicidal Foe-Tossing Charge, even! In her supports, though, she's seen slowly getting better thanks to people like Florina, Farina, Kent, Sain, and Eliwood.
      • A borderline example: Hellene's stepdaughter Princess Guinevere from Binding Blade, though she manages to get better. Cath the Thief and Brunya the Lady of Black Magic play it straighter when you learn about their backstories, though.
    • Fire Emblem Awakening has Cordelia, a very perfectionist Lady of War wounded not just by her Unrequited Love for Chrom, but by the deaths of her comrades in an Heroic Sacrifice for her.
      • Lucina aka Chrom's future daughter starts as one due to the Bad Future, and slowly gets better.
    • The straightest examples in Fire Emblem Fates are: Princess Camilla of Nohr, Princess Azura of Hoshido (actually, from Valla), the Avatar's Ninja Maid Flora, Prince Takumi's retainer Oboro, the Nohrian spellcaster Nyx, and arguably the Dark Magical Girl Rhajat (who can be mothered by Azura, Oboro or Nyx)
    • Fire Emblem: Heroes has Princess Veronica mixing this with Dark Magical Girl. By exstension, her sort-of future self Thrásir counts too.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses has several of them, including: Princess Edelgard von Hraesvelgr, Dorothea Arnault, Marianne von Edmund, and Archbishop Rhea aka the legendary heroine Seiros.
  • Jakuri from Ar tonelico II: Melody of Metafalica is not only a perfect example of this trope and its sub-traits, being simultaneously Tall, Dark and Bishoujo (well, okay, she's actually kind of short, but she makes up for it with badassery), Tsundere, and more than a little goth, but is known for singing hymns in which she uses the imagery of a little bird as a metaphor for herself, a theme first seen in EXEC_HARMONIOUS/., the song she crafted when she was better known as the first game's antagonist, Mir.
    • Aurica from the first game may also qualify, to some extent.
  • Annah is an orphan, a distrusted descendant of fiends, raised by a money-grubbing corpse-seller, trained as a thief, and has the rather interesting experience of seeing one of the corpses she sells walking around again later--and not as a zombie. Then, the only father she's ever known is killed while she's off helping said "corpse", very much against her will, except said parent ordered it, all before she's even really an adult. She hides her issues well, but occasionally, they'll slip out.
  • Eleanor from Rule of Rose. Complete with literal bird.
    • One could probably argue that all the girls, and even guys, in the orphanage fit this trope.
  • Sniper Wolf from Metal Gear Solid, although this tends to be overshadowed by the Femme Fatale and Dark Action Girl aspects of her character. At least, until she dies.
  • As with just about every other character trope in the book, you can play Commander Shepard as one of these in Mass Effect. The prize for Broken Bird, though, has to go to Talitha, the slave girl you can rescue in the Colonist's optional sidequest "I Remember Me".
    • Mass Effect 2 brings us Jack: "Turns out, mess with someone's head enough and you can turn a scared kid into an all-powerful bitch." Besides undergoing the training to be a Biotic Tyke Bomb, she's revealed the times she's been sexually abused.
      • When the sexual assault is the least traumatic aspect of a character's backstory, you know they've had it hard.
    • Liara becomes one by "Lair of the Shadow Broker", especially if she was Shepard's love interest in the first game.
    • Miranda Lawson to a large extent, though she hides it well at first.
    • Let's be honest, just about every major female character in the games can be seen as this.
      • And some of the men, Kaidan. (Admittedly, it's been years since he killed that turian...) Garrus in the sequel as well, given the whole Archangel thing.
    • Shepard has definitely become this by Mass Effect 3. Everything that s/he's experienced through all three games and his/her attempt to suppress those emotions for the squad's sake really begin to take their toll on him/her.
  • Depending on your play style, the Lone Wanderer of Fallout 3 may qualify.
  • Fable's Sparrow, who can be either female or male. She begins the game as an orphan on the streets with her older sister, wanting nothing more than a bed and warm meal. She is then Forced to Watch as the Big Bad kills her sister, and is taken in by a mysterious gypsy who secretly manipulates her every move before leaving to seek revenge. Later, she's trapped as a slave to the Big Bad for ten years in a bid to break her spirit, where she is forced to obey every order or lose her memories (literal experience points). Banshees in the game may torture her over her sister's death, and near the end, she's trapped in the Big Bad's Lotus Eater Machine after he literally shoots the dog. There, she finds herself in an illusion as a child with her sister, living the perfect life she always wanted, which she THEN has to escape through pure fear. Finally, at the end, she has to make a Sadistic Choice between resurrecting her sister, as well as her faithful dog and her family, who also got killed by the Big Bad, resurrecting the countless innocent people used to build said Lotus Eater Machine, or becoming rich and evil beyond her wildest dreams.
  • Setsumi from Narcissu, oh so very much.
  • Anna Lin from Bliss Stage First and Final Act can be forgiven for her more Tsundere outbursts, given that she saw her first crush die when that crush's ANIMa shattered as soon as it was manifested -- and THEN her first requited love made a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Celes from Final Fantasy VI is arguably one of these.
  • Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII
    • It helps that her encounter with a literal broken bird becomes a turning point for her character
  • There's a few of them in the Tokimeki Memorial series. The most famous, and well-loved by the fandom, is Kaori Yae of Tokimeki Memorial 2. Other Broken Birds are Mira Kagami of Tokimeki Memorial 1 and Hotaru Izumi of Tokimeki Memorial 3.
  • In Brutal Legend, Ophelia is broken by certain events (in addition to her dark heritage) so badly, her sublimated pain and sorrow become the second strongest boss in the game. She is fixed by the end of the campaign (though not quite, it seems).
  • Touhou is generally known for being fairly upbeat to the point of employing Non-Lethal KO and Defeat Means Friendship on a scale that the series is gradually coming to redefine Loads and Loads of Characters. Fujiwara no Mokou, however, gives off plenty of Broken Bird vibes with her tragic backstory (her father was Driven to Suicide by Kaguya, largely just because Kaguya was bored), and her willingness to murder Kaguya's adopted parents to become fully immortal to seek eternal revenge against the also fully immortal (and loving it) Kaguya. Centuries of pointless conflict where neither one can truly die, but both can feel the pain and humiliation of being torn to shreds repeatedly if one ever loses a fight, until the victor just gets bored of torturing the other, have left Mokou largely just a disspirited loner who seems to have given upon on her Roaring Rampage of Revenge as pointless. She helps others when she meets them, guiding the lost out of the dangerous forest she lives in, but is a reclusive hermit who wants little to do with others, with the sole exception, apparently, being Keine.
  • Samus Aran from Metroid, even before her portrayal in Other M. Family and friends murdered before her eyes in childhood, adopted family either extinct or vanished from the universe. Where other people saw a cold, relentless bounty hunter carving a path through aliens, this Troper always saw a terribly lonely woman with nobody and nowhere to turn to, fighting an endless, solo war against the infinite evils of the universe with no end in sight.
  • Male version: Fei Fong Wong from Xenogears. The theme song "Stars of Tears" even lampshades this in the lyrics.

 The waves of time take me deeper into you

A haze as blue as summer skies

And turn to find the key will not unlock the door

This broken bird away it flies

  • Haru from Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor is tough, edgy, and very, very fragile as a result of her childhood. If the player does not choose her event to save her, she commits suicide halfway through the game.
    • She was already broken even before the Tokyo Lockdown began. A musician who came from a troubled family, her mentor went overseas and she thinks that it's her fault when she was actually kidnapped by a Religion of Evil, and to top it all off, she's being hunted by demons because her songs are the key to summoning them to the real world.
  • Ninja Maid Cecilia has shades of this in Vanguard Bandits. Whether she gets better or not depends on the player.
  • Lulu from Final Fantasy X, who starts off as a Deadpan Snarker, although she later becomes a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • Playable Caster (Tamamo-no-Mae) from Fate/EXTRA. She is extremely cheerfully, more Genre Savvy than most otakus and her insanely cute 'mikuuun!' verbal tics doesn't help. However, has one of the saddest backstories in the entire Nasuverse: she was literally divinity, but humans fascinated her so much that she threw everything away so she could go join them and help them in the mud, she lived to serve, to love them. What does her husband do? He sends an army to kill her when he finds out she isn't human. She spent three days fighting, killing and being bathed in blood in the field where she made her last stand. Every second of it was spent crying and shouting for her husband's forgiveness. Her biggest wish was to be the best wife in the world. That was thousands of years ago. It still is.
  • Elisabeth Blanctorche from The King of Fighters. She's a Tall, Dark and Bishoujo Lady of War whose clan was decimated and has a complicated relationship with someone she used to care for more than anyone in the world: Ash Crimson; as a result, her view of the world is pretty cynical, and if she had to fight younger girls she'll always remark on how "innocent" they are, compared with herself. And in The King of Fighters XIII, when Ash unveils his true intentions and reveals that he did everything to help and protect her, Elisabeth is brought to tears, as the price he'll pay for her sake is being erased from existence.
    • Leona Heidern, too. That's what happens to sheltered little girls after their cursed blood is awakened forcibly and they end up killing their parents under external influences. Even after she's sorta Happily Adopted by the local Colonel Badass and her partners become her second family, she's very badly damaged but doesn't openly show it.
    • Chizuru Kagura was this too, due to her twin sister Maki's murder and the heavy burdens that the Yasakani-Kagura-Kusanagi bonds bring to her. She gets better thanks to Mai, King and King's brother Jean, though.
  • Riven of League of Legends, who saw the ideals she dedicated her life to get shattered during the wartime atrocities between Noxus and Ionia. She fights using a broken sword, and as she herself puts it, "The sword mirrors its owner." Even her signature move is called "Broken Wings"!
  • Pretty much every female character is this in Dark Souls, except Sieglinde who becomes broken near the end of the game.


Visual Novels

  • Several girls in Katawa Shoujo, although Rin Tezuka, in particular, sets the records. While her poker faced Cloudcuckoolander antics are fun enough at first, you quickly realize that her inability to understand or be understood by others have left her alienated her entire life. She paints since she can barely put her thoughts into words, but when high expectations are suddenly placed on her art, she tries to change herself to match what's expected of her. She spends the next week alone in an atelier specifically outfitted for her use, painting nonstop: when Hisao decides to drop by despite how she has asked him to not do so... he finds Rin mostly naked, weak with exhaustion, and barely lucid from the attempt.
    • While Rin is the most triumphant example, Hanako Ikezawa is very much a close second. Severely disfigured in the fire that took the life of her parents, she spent years in an orphanage and later alone in Yamaku High, with Lilly Satou as her only friend. If Hisao pursues her affections, he shall be careful: she'll sooner or later notice that he's trying to patronize her, and well-intentioned as he is, Hanako will only feel worse, and her Bad Ending has her bitterly and heartbreakingly tell him that she hates it.
    • Let's not forget Shiina "Misha" Mikado. A young girl who was bullied for being a lesbian and then came to Yamaku, she deeply fell in love with her best friend Shizune -- only to be rejected. To not fully lose Shizune, Misha settled for staying by her side and stay friends: a result she became a massive Stepford Smiler, hiding her pain from her unrequited love constantly... and subtly talking about how she'd like to kill herself in Shizune's route.
    • A milder and non-romantic example is Lilly's sister Akira, a beautiful and tomboyish lawyer who actually hides the pain of being given a Promotion to Parent at age 19, when the Satous move to Iverness and their two girls (one of them being a blind 8-year-old) stay at Japan. Akira resents her and Lilly's parents quite a bit since she believes they did it because they couldn't handle Lilly's blindness, and she also feels guilty of not having done enough to raise Lilly as well as she could have done. (Though Lilly loves her very much and they get along well).
    • All the heroines are this to one degree or another. Let's not forget that Emi lost her father in the same accident that resulted in her legs being amputated and still has major issues regarding letting other people get close to her to the point where her Genki Girl persona is very much a mask for her pain. In Shizune's case she has to deal with an Abusive Dad that forced her to spend much of her childhood taking speech lessons in an attempt to "fix" her as well as having major issues communicating and forming relationships with other due to her deafness, resulting in her being extremely lonely.
  • Esperia in Eien no Aselia. She has great difficult in treating Yuuto consistently because of this. She's always nice, but she can be oddly standoffish and distant.
  • Kanon's nickname when it first came out was Sad Girls in Snow. Hell, Word of God has it that this was the Trope Namer's favorite Visual Novel at the time.
  • Every one of the girls in AIR fits this trope to a T.
    • Kano deals with her memories of a past life where she killed her own child, to the point that the personality is physically killing her.
    • Minagi: her Mother spends half the day either confusing her with her stillborn sister Michiru, or flat out not acknowledging her existence at all.
    • Misuzu, dear God in Heaven, Misuzu, between being cursed for wanting to see her Mother in her past life and experiencing excruciating pain, for herself, the cast, and, hell, even the audience, whenever she gets emotionally close to someone, and we won't even start with her Mother... Her pain is best summarized with one word... Gao~!
    • Yukito fills this role as well, from losing his Mother, the only person who he ever cared about, to being forced to complete her, and, by extension, his entire family line's, mission of helping the winged girl.
  • Clannad: Subverted, well, for Visual Key anyway, in that not all the characters are Broken Birds. Though Nagisa, Ushio, and especially Kotomi take the cake.
  • Tsugumi from Ever 17 is infallibly cold and unpleasant to all the other characters and repeatedly brushes off questions about why a slight young girl is stronger, tougher, and faster than the rest of them put together. Alongside merry japes with nail polish remover and blowtorches, she also manages to fit in suicidal tendencies and, in one scenario, uses her superior strength to very nearly rape Takeshi. As a result, the point where she finally breaks down into tears and abandons all previous Jerkass tendencies is extremely satisfying, indeed.
    • So much so that it happens twice, when the even more bitter and twisted Tsugumi from Kid's route is revealed to be the same character 17 years later, who has since lost everything she gained in the first scenario.
    • She gets better, though, and at the end, returns to being the Tsundere that she had become after warming up to the main character.
  • Tsukihime contains a subversion: there are a pair of twin sisters, one an obvious Genki Girl, the other an apparent Broken Bird Emotionless Girl. However, it turns out that Kohaku's genkiness is a mask for a completely shattered, emotionless psyche, while Hisui is a Shrinking Violet who hides her feelings to keep Kohaku stable.
  • Saber and Sakura in Fate/stay night.
  • Silviana, an antrophomorphic dog, from Wanko To Kurasou. In this game, anthropomorphic dogs are pretty much regarded and treated as regular dogs, even if people do know that they're much more intelligent and self-conscious. Her owner not only mistreated her and had her permanently locked up in a room, but also tried to play backyard breeder and make her breed before she even had her first heat. That resulted in her becoming an Emotionless Girl until she was rescued by the main character. She got better, fortunately.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! VRAINSthere are no female broken birds and 90% of the male cast qualify this trope as most of them had Dark and Troubled Past but the most notable male broken birds are
    • The main protoganist Yusaku Fujiki is one of more noticably male broken bird in YGO franchise he deals with his dark pasts through being The Stoic and insanely capable Dueilist and belives he doesnt need future or freinds and all he is consumed is Revenge.
    • Jin Kusanagi the younger brother of Shoichi Kusanagi is even more of a broken bird than Yusaku.Like Yusaku 10 years ago he was also one of the 6 kids kidnap for hanoi project after going through many toture for 6 months even in the present he remains tarumitized over the incident and has closed his heart from the world developed intense PTSD


Webcomics

  • Hayasaka Erika from Megatokyo is a prime example: cool, calm, sarcastic, and quick to inflict violence on anyone violating her personal space. At first thought to be the only person in the cast who wasn't awash with neuroses, she eventually turned out to be possibly the most damaged of them all. And, of course, it was the title of one of her albums.
    • Tohya Miho might well be considered one too, despite being apparently still of high school age.
      • Estimates of Miho's apparent age are currently being revised upwards. She's still pretty young for a Broken Bird, though.
      • Evidence is pointing toward Sonoda Meimi as well.
  • Jillian Zamussels in Erfworld appears to be a Broken Bird, among other things.
  • Miranda West in The Wotch.
  • Red in No Rest for The Wicked.
  • Textbook example: Kamikaze Kate from Misfile.
  • Faye in Questionable Content. Though she subverts the Freak-Out, she makes jokes about it while she's in obvious pain from bringing it up, and chooses to tell Marten beforehand. Still counts, though, because she is pretty broken.
    • More recent issues indicate that Dora may also be one, particularly regarding her relationship history and trust issues with Marten.
  • Considering recent developments with her character, Tsukiko from Order of the Stick might be this - or she might just be crazy. She says that she "likes" the undead because she thinks that all living people are bastards and therefore the undead, as their inverse, must be good. It is, however, unclear whether these opinions come from personal experience or not - if they do, she's probably this trope, and a good deal more sympathetic than she had been previously.
    • Which wouldn't be surprising, as a lot of villains in Order of the Stick tend to have a dimension of sympathy. (Except the Big Bad himself, by admission of the creator.)
    • Speaking of OOTS villains with a dimension of sympathy - Miko Miyazaki could be interpreted as such as well; she was orphaned at a young age, is severely socially awkward, and her only friend is her horse. One could imagine a lonely young girl with poor social skills adopting a rigid black-and-white view of the world as a means of emotional defense - only making things worse, as her narrow-mindedness and arrogance drives people even further away from her.
  • Brianna, the Imperial Assassin from Servants of the Imperium, could possibly be a Broken Bird.
  • Iris Kolrick from Shadownova. Her past hasn't been shown yet, but word of god confirms that it is a tragic one.
  • Lindsey from Shadowgirls. She ain't forgiving herself anytime soon.
  • Galatea ("Golly") in The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob. She's much less of an emotional disaster than she once was, but she still tries to project an air of competence and experience far beyond what she actually has (even if she is a genius).
  • Susan, from El Goonish Shive. She's not quite as broken as some on the list, but she has her problems. Also, one of the more Badass characters.
  • In Homestuck. Aradia Megido. The poor girl is so broken by the time the game starts that she's forgotten what emotion feels like, which makes her ascention to God Tier all the more heartwarming.
  • Lucy of Bittersweet Candy Bowl. It's only noticeable under certain circumstances, but wow.
  • Carmen of Ninth Elsewhere; explained by her childhood.
  • Bathory of Crepuscule seems to be this, as revealed in more recent chapters: For hundreds of years, she's been searching for a surviving relative from the extermination of the pureblood succubi. Thankfully, she finds Angela, her aunt, and seems to be getting better because of it.


Web Originals

  • Iriana Estchell of Ilivais X fits this to a T. Lived a life that amounted to abusive rape followed by even more rape, which given her condition meant more like being tortured for 15 years. By the time the story starts, she's desperately trying to cover her mushy, fragile core with stoic badassery and indifferent sadism, but isn't as good at that as she'd like. When she meets someone that loves her (or rather, manipulated into doing so), she's so confused at how she's treated that she tends to respond by hurting her even more.
  • Shoutan Himei of Sailor Nothing fits this trope in a heartbreakingly perfect way.
  • In a far lighter example, The Nostalgia Chick is a twisted Cute and Psycho Strange Girl with a big drinking problem.
  • Maxie Dasai from Survival of the Fittest V3. Post game, particularly.


Western Animation


Real Life

  • Some views of Janis Joplin.
  • Marie Antoinette, towards the end of her life.
  • Female authors like Sylvia Plath, Gabriela Mistral, and others radiate Broken Bird vibes through their texts and biographies (sometimes called the "Sylvia Plath effect").
  • Rebellious Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary, aka Sisi, in her last years. Having lost two of her children (Sophia was a Littlest Cancer Patient, Rudolf and his lover, Maria Vetsera, died in an apparent Suicide Pact) and being subjected to lots of loneliness and scorn as a part of the Habsburg clan, she would dress in black and travel through Europe quietly, spending her time alone until her murder.
    • Not to mention perfectionism, due to all the pressures around her, causing her to go through periodic bouts of depression and develop an eating disorder (said to be borderline anorexia by some modern historians).
    • Heartbreakingly, the actress who played Sisi in three movies ended up as a Broken Bird as well, with her career ruined after the role typecasted her, as well as with her son, David, dying in horrifying circumstances. Poor Romy Schneider.
    • Coincidentally, her husband, Emperor Franz Josef, ultimately became this towards his final years as well, especially after her death.
  • Barbara Hutton, an extremely wealthy American heiress, who's own tragic life, filled with loneliness, abuse, eating disorders, and the death of her only son, can qualify her as the "American Sisi." She's the Trope Codifier for "Lonely Rich Kid", as her nickname among the media was "Poor Little Rich Girl".
    • Made even harsher when we recall that the actress playing her in the "Poor Little Rich Girl" TV series was another candidate to broken bird-dom: Farrah Fawcett.
  • Then there is the tragic story of 1930s-40s German film star Sybille Schmitz; sexually harassed by Goebbles, wasted her talent by being forced to perform in tacky Nazi propaganda films, then shunned by the German film community for not fitting in with the new post-war "bright look" due to her ethereal persona and an aura of mystery and tragedy. After being committed to an insane asylum due to chronic depression and numerous suicide attempts, the unhappy actress later got hooked on morphine by an opportunistic doctor who facilitated her suicide after bleeding poor Sybille dry of her funds.
  • The tragic Soviet era film actress Zoya Fyodorova, who was not allowed to pursue an offer in Hollywood when Stalin's right-hand man, Lavrenity Beria, developed a creepy sexual obsession with her. in 1946, he threw Zoya into a concentration camp in Siberia for over eight years after she fell in love with an American diplomat and had his daughter. While imprisoned, Zoya was tortured, beaten, and raped repeatedly. She was finally released in 1955 and reunited with her daughter, Victoria, and continued her film acting career, but could never recover her pre-imprisonment star status. In 1981, Zoya Fyodorova was preparing to join her daughter and her father in America, but was found shot through the eye in her Moscow apartment: there were no suspects or leads and the strange murder case remains unsolved to this day.
  • Billie Holiday, whose blend of sophistication, vulnerability, and cynicism was an integral part of her persona. She also had a genuinely hard life.
  • Marilyn Monroe. Considering everything that happened to her, this is understandable.
  • Edith Piaf. Years of parental abandonment, living on the streets, and other tragedies led her to drink and drugs. Arguably the greatest french singer of all time. On top of that, her name translates to sparrow.
  • Christina Onassis, daughter and heiress of Aristoteles. Older brother Alexander died in a plane crash, mother Tina killed herself afterwards, dad Ari married Jackie Kennedy (whom Christina detested) and died after Alexander did. The ex-Lonely Rich Kid, now rich and skilled businesswoman... married several times and never found love, was desperate enough to pretty much pay her last husband (and father of her child), Thierry Roussel, for being with her and turned a blind eye when he cheated on her and even had kids with a Swiss lady, spoiled her daughter Athina as much as she could to make her happy, and finally died in The Eighties of a pulmonary edema.
  • Cibele Dorsa, Brazilian actress and model. She had suffered a grave car accident that killed the friend who drove the car and caused her severe injuries. She stayed one month in hospital and more than two months immobilized. Years later, she started a relationship with Brazilian TV presenter Gilberto Scarpa. They planned to get married, but Scarpa committed suicide by jumping out of their apartment on January 30, 2011. He jumped through the same window that Cibele would end up jumping less than two months later.
  • Judy Garland. The description on her page which describes what she had to go through alone qualifies her for this trope.

Notes

  1. possibly re-creating the universe while doing so
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