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The first impression you get when you see these people is that they're really, really nice... maybe too nice. They're very humble, they care about everyone and almost never hold a grudge, they're always Taking the Bullet for their friends, and even if the audience doesn't always like them, they're almost invariably loved in-universe.
Then, they discover something about themselves. Maybe they try to ignore their jealous feelings when they get caught in a Love Triangle. Maybe they wake up from a dream revealing their suppressed inner desires. Or maybe they just can't bring themselves to forgive someone who wronged their loved ones. Whatever the case, when they discover this about themselves, there's a good chance that they will enter a bout of depression, or worse, completely Freak-Out. Oftentimes, their friends have a hard time understanding what the big deal is. Humans Are Flawed, after all, and because they're just so nice, they never held anyone else to the same moral standards.
Unlike Heroic Self-Deprecation, these characters do not have to be The Hero, or even a hero. HSD involves a character's feelings of inadequacy, often when confronted with a seemingly insurmountable task or haunted by a previous failure. A character is a Broken Messiah, on the other hand, if their guilt stems from emotional issues.
Contrast My God, What Have I Done?, in which the character's guilt is over something truly, indisputably wrong. Romantic examples may overlap with Love Hurts. The diametric opposite of But for Me It Was Tuesday, where someone is so evil that they can commit truly heinous acts without any remorse.
Not to be confused with Broken Saints.
- Belldandy from Ah! My Goddess is this trope. She's a first class goddess, and it's her duty to behave like one. But when another girl gets too close to Keiichi, she loses control of her powers. She's completely ashamed of that side of her.
- Orihime Inoue of Bleach fame has a bout of this when she observes the bond between Ichigo and Rukia firsthand. Up until then, she had just wanted Ichigo to be alright. She's so shocked and sad over her own jealousy and the guilt she feels over said jealousy too since she adores Rukia, until Rangiku cheered her up, telling her that both she and Rukia are important for Ichigo. Confirmed when Rukia learns about it and tells Orihime that she's not alone and that she doesn't have to bring self down because she's a great person.
- Ichigo Kurosaki also has recently had quite a phase as this, though to be fair it was Tsukishima (and Ginjou)'s intention to break him systematically.
- Kagome from Inuyasha nearly compromises the quest when she realizes that she is jealous of Kikyo for holding part of Inuyasha's heart. Combined with her own self-worth issues and The Baby's Hannibal Lectures, it's no wonder the kid almost crosses the Despair Event Horizon. But then she brings herself back and tells the Manipulative Bastard "Shut UP, Hannibal".
- Yue and Nodoka from Mahou Sensei Negima both go through this, because they like the same boy. Nodoka's subconscious solution, which she tries very hard to forget, further qualifies her for this trope.
- In One Piece, Princess Shirahoshi goes through this, when she leaves her family's protection to visit the Sea Forest. She gets over it with some encouragement from Luffy, though.
- Taki of Maiden Rose Can't Have Sex Ever thanks to his status as The Messiah, so when he falls in love with Klaus things really go downhill for him as he struggles between his conscience and his desires.
- Naruto temporarily became one of these during the Iron Country arc. He manages to get it back together by the end of the arc, but still feels the weight of his burden of holding the nine tailed fox.
- Judai Yuki became this by the middle of season three.
- The House Elves from Harry Potter will physically punish themselves for every wrong they commit, sometimes even for ones they contemplated committing. Justified, in that they are magically bound and biologically coded to servitude.
- Frasier ventures into this quite often, and it gets Played for Laughs most of the time. For example, Niles once had lunch with his ex-wife, and lied about it to his current wife. One lie led to another, and he felt so guilty it made him hyperventilate.
- Triunfo Del Amor applies this trope to Maria, who tries very hard to stifle the resentment she feels toward her mother for losing her as a child.
- In most The World of Darkness game systems, the Karma Meter demonstrates this trope.
- For humans, the standard morality is 6. You can lose morality points by committing immoral acts. You are then at risk of losing morality points, which represents your worldview and value system. You are a Complete Monster at zero, and your character stops being playable.
- Now here's the funny bit: the higher the morality, the smaller the faults need to be. And while gaining morality points is a long and grueling process, once you reach Paragon or Saint levels of morality, even evil thoughts or being mean in a conversation or being anything less than perfect can trigger a roll, i.e. a Heroic BSOD.
- Flonne from Disgaea is forced to realize she is not the goody-two-shoes angel she thinks she is.
- Jackie Chan Adventures has a moment of this when Jackie is split between his good and evil halves. His good half nearly breaks down with guilt because he accidentally stepped on a bug.