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Some worlds are absolute hell to live in. The kind where No Good Deed Goes Unpunished, Being Good Sucks, Finagle's Law is out to get you, and Anyone Can Die. In a World of Woobie, everyone is suffering. They may cover it up-- maybe they're a Stepford Smiler, or a Stoic Badass who seems too tough to need any sort of comfort. But once their backstory comes out or the universe starts making them its personal Butt Monkey, they too will join the ranks of the characters the fans want to hug and tell, "It's okay, everything's going to be all right."

In general, the sympathetic cast in these stories will contain a lot of Iron Woobies, Stoic Woobies, and Jerkass Woobies. Antagonists will either be Anti-Villain, Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds-types, or the Complete Monsters responsible for the horrifying situations everyone else is going through.

There's a few ways this can go: perhaps everyone learns to kick ass, or a world where the scenery is chewed to ground dust due to the sheer over the top performance in such a way that they tend to invoke wildly gestures, or maybe they get sarcastic.

But you'll still feel sorry for them.

This is almost always a Crapsack World, or if they're lucky, A World Half Full. This can be used to reveal a Crap Saccharine World as well. See also Dysfunction Junction. And remember, Your Mileage May Vary; what prompts one person to Manly Tears may fall flat for another and come across as a world of Wangst instead.

Compare and contrast World of Badass.

Examples of World of Woobie include:


Anime and Manga

Comics

  • The Marvel Universe. The majority of the iconic heroes and even some of the major villains and antiheroes have been put through the Woobie mill in some fashion or another, via Fantastic Racism, an improbably unfortunate love life, psychological problems, human experimentation, child abuse, Power Incontinence, you name it.

Fan Works

  • Equestria in the Pony POV Series. Note, it normally isn't this, Discord's rampage turned it into one because he pretty much mass Mind Raped the entire country, leaving everyone with deep, psychological scars to deal with. They get better.
    • One World of Woobie wasn't enough for the author, there are two. We eventually find out the G3 My Little Pony was destroyed in a Cosmic Retcon because it was dying and the only way to save the universe was to destroy that section and start over. Worse? We see The End of the World as We Know It from their POV!

Literature

Live Action TV

  • Battlestar Galactica.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer, above all else for being ruled by a cruel god who believes that things are going badly if the characters are happy.
    • If a Joss Whedon series goes on for long enough, the world the characters live in becomes one of these by default, really. Joss loves Breaking The Cutie.
  • Torchwood, though it technically takes place in the Whoniverse. Less so in Series 3 and 4, though, not so for Captain Jack, who always gets screwed.
  • Criminal Minds. When a regular day for your main characters involves solving the grisliest of murders, getting addicted to drugs, contracting anthrax, being shot multiple times, or even faking your own death, we've hit this.
  • Community is a rare comedic example. Even the side characters have multiple personal flaws and insecurities.
  • The Alternate Universe in Fringe is this. They ended up in the wrong side of the whole "reality breaking down" mess. It makes it all the more heartwarming when the Bridge begins to heal their world so they can reclaim lost areas. And all the more heartbreaking when the Bridge has to be sealed off to save both universes.

Newspaper Comics

  • Peanuts, with the exception of Snoopy.

Tabletop Games

  • In some ways, the world of Warhammer 40000 can come across this way. In particular, the Imperial Guard has this as a primary source of appeal: at the end of the day, Guardsmen are just ordinary humans in way over their heads who manage to pull through by sheer force of will.
  • In Scion, the world is so screwed up that Fenris, the giant wolf who is destined to be an integral part of Ragnarok, comes off as unfairly victimized.

Theater

Video Games

Visual Novels

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

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