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People Are Sharing The Fictional Characters With The Most Tragic Backstories, And "Harrowing" Is Not A Strong Enough Word

"Then he escapes and has a brief moment of happiness — just joking, he dies."

A little while ago, redditor u/HellBoy_95 asked the pop culture obsessives of r/AskReddit, "What fictional character had the saddest, most miserable life?" Here are 29 of the characters they suggested who just cannot catch a break to save their life.

Responses have been edited for length and/or clarity. Also, there are without a doubt spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution! 

1. "The little matchstick girl. She is cold, hungry, and alone, trying to sell matches no one wants to buy. She lights the only ones she has left to keep warm, and dreams of being in a warm room with a family eating a delicious meal, but then the match goes out and she wakes up to the reality that she’s alone on the cold streets. She dies in the cold, all alone."

a child standing by a tree and lighting a match

2. "Winston in1984. He knows he’s living in a miserable existence and hates every second of it, and when he finally gets an opportunity for real happiness, he’s tortured in the worst way he could imagine."

a man looking at a gadget as a person on a screen appears to look at him

3. "John Coffey from The Green Mile had a pretty shitty life."

John Coffey being taken by two prison guards

4. "Carrie White from Carrie. Bullied every year of school. Tormented at home by a crazy religious mother. Finally gets to go on a date with a nice, good-looking guy...only to have it ruined by having a bucket of pig blood dumped on top of her in front of everyone in an evil prank (which accidentally kills her date). Everyone laughs at her. She snaps, kills everyone, and sets fire to the building. She goes home. Gets stabbed by her mother. Kills her mother in self-defense. Then dies. All before the age of 17. Then, she's forever remembered as the monster who killed everyone on prom night."

Carrie covered in blood

5. "Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. HIS PARENTS DIDN'T EVEN SHOW UP AT HIS BIRTH. HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?!"

the doctor falling down a waterfall with a platypus

6. "Hama, the inventor of Bloodbending from Avatar: The Last Airbender. Watched her home and family be dismantled at a young age. She was beaten into submission, stolen from her home, and taken to a strange land to be subjected to torture and imprisonment that stripped her of her very strength. If this wasn't a kid's show, Hama likely would have watched her own brothers and sisters succumb to death for years while she was powerless to do anything. Her invention of Bloodbending was itself not a malicious act; it was desperation, and an example of her resourcefulness to escape and survive. Hama could have gone home after escaping from the Fire Nation, and could have lived the rest of her remaining years in peace back at home. But she had no idea if it even existed anymore after the repeated raids. And the Fire Nation would just keep coming. Home and safety was never an option. She could have lived her days in peace hiding in the Fire Nation."

Katara being told it's impossible to fight her way out of Hama's grip

7. "Finnick from The Hunger Games series. He has a miserable life, then he's forced into a child-killing arena, then he wins, but he's forced to be a 'companion' away from the one person he cares about, then he's in another Hunger Games, and then he escapes and has a brief moment of happiness — just joking, he dies."

Finnick smiling

8. "Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. 'Thanks for noticing me.' So depressing, even as a kid."

Eeyore looking depressed

9. "Moaning Myrtle from Harry Potter. She spent her entire life bullied in both the muggle and Wizarding world, and she got killed at 14 by a basilisk."

Moaning Myrtle haunting the school

10. "Wreck-It Ralph. Dude was an outcast in his own game, living in the rubbish, and not even invited to the anniversary party. He goes anyway, and a snotty Nicelander tells him to get a medal so that he'll be accepted. He gets his medal, inadvertently takes the bug to Sugar Rush, gets treated badly and mocked and tricked there, returns to his own game, and is still treated like shit by the Nicelander dude. And then, he's still willing to give his life to save Venelope and her Sugar Rush game. Seriously, I still get weepy at that part where he's dropping into the Coke and Mentos mountain and reciting the bad guy pledge. And I've seen that film so very many times."

Wreck-It Ralph holding out cherries

11. "John Locke in the TV show Lost. The dude was pretty much screwed over his entire life. He was used and left over and over, even by his own father. All he ever wanted was some meaning to his life: something bigger and grander to look up to, and to find meaning and solace in his misery by finding something bigger than himself to look forward to. A genuinely tragic character that you feel sympathetic toward."

John Locke smiling and pulling explosives out of a bag

12. "Jesse Pinkman. He cannot go a half hour without something bad happening to him. At first, it's funny small things like slipping off a roof, until he has his entire life derailed by an egotistical chemistry teacher, becomes a chained meth cook slave to a neo-Nazi gang, and has his girlfriend shot in the head by a sociopath."

Jesse Pinkman being held captive

13. "Spencer Reid from Criminal Minds. Holy shit, the man couldn’t catch a damn break for 15 seasons. Shot, stabbed, kidnapped, drugged, incarcerated, traumatized…name it, it’s happened to him."

closeup of Spencer

14. "Jude from the novel A Little Life. It's the most depressing book of all time."

A Little Life book cover

15. "Seita, the elder brother from Grave of the Fireflies. As an older brother, watching him going through what he went through with his sister depressed me for months. I still get emotional thinking about it."

A little girl asking her brother, "Is our house gone too?"

16. "Charlie from Flowers for Algernon. It was a horrible life for him all the way up and down again. And all he ever wanted was to be smart so people would like him more and be his friend."

Flowers for Algernon book cover

17. "Squidward from SpongeBob SquarePants. He’s just trying to chill, and he has to deal with the two most annoying people in a shitty job with an annoying, money-hungry boss, and everyone always looks at him like he’s the bad guy. I only remember one episode that ended well for him."

Squidward trying not to be intimidated

18. "Leah Clearwater from the Twilight series. Her fiancé left her for her cousin, and no one would give her any explanation other than 'it's true love,' until she started shifting. Then she was forced to be around the happy couple and a bunch of teenage boys, subjected to lots of mental torment and teasing, was constantly told she wasn't wanted, and was sexualized a lot, too. Her dad died, and it's implied that it may have been her fault for possibly shifting in front of him. She was rightfully angry, and everyone was constantly telling her that she was stupid, to get over it, that she was 'barren,' and it was no wonder no one liked her. Not to mention, when her life started to go to the dogs, she was only 19. Her character was dragged against the coals for no reason for the entire series."

closeup of Leah

19. "Bill (Charles' lookalike) from Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Every time he appears, his life is somehow even worse than it was before."

Bill in different scenes

20. "Dean Winchester from Supernatural. He lost his mother at the age of 4 and was raised in shitty motels by a guy twisted by grief and the desire for revenge. He learned to fight and kill monsters before he even hit puberty, felt responsible for his younger brother from the day their mother died, and took the brunt of their father's rage. He wanted nothing more than for his father to love him. He hunted as an adult because he didn't know any other way to live. He went to hell and got mentally and physically tortured for 40 years. He tried to live a normal life, but he had to leave the woman he loved and the child he was raising (I'm still convinced Ben is Dean's biological son) because they were in danger from being with him. He lost everyone he loved, sometimes more than once. He saved the world, then died in a shitty, pointless way before he even had chance to enjoy it."

Dean pointing to his head

21. "I guess Joel from The Last of Us. I mean, not only did he hold his daughter while she was dying, he had to live with killing hundreds of innocent people who could create a cure for the infection, just to save one girl out of selfishness. And in the end the girl you saved hates you... Can't think of something worse."

Joel holding his daughter

22. "Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games. Her family was dirt poor and barely surviving, and at the age of 11, her dad was killed and her mother became too depressed to function, making Katniss the one who had to provide for the family. And then there's all of the nightmarish stuff the government put her through in the Hunger Games, and all the stuff the rebels put her through, and finally Prim... Well, I won't say any more about that one. Katniss's own mother deserts her too, and leaves the remains of their home (a choice that the family should have had available to begin with). So years later, Katniss is living safely in her home with a husband and kids, and none of that stuff even brings her happiness. She struggles to function from day to day and can't look at the flower meadows without thinking of the mass grave of people under them."

closeup of Katniss

23. "The main character from the movie Manchester by the Sea. The man had been put through the ringer and just can't catch a break, and he's literally the reason his kids are dead."

a man talking on the phone outside

24. "I'm currently watching The Handmaid's Tale. So pick anyone in that, essentially."

two handmaids talking

25. "Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender. He was banished from his home at around age 13 and can only return if he finds the Avatar, who at the time was missing. So his father definitely thought at first that this task would never be completed. Also, his mother was banished for sparing Zuko's life. Talk about a depressing life."

Zuko looking angry and pointing a weapon

26. "Eleven from Stranger Things… Such a sad life… People are saying she's gonna die in the last season, and if that's the case, I will be so upset. She deserves to be happy and safe for ONCE."

Eleven screaming

27. "The Baudelaire orphans from A Series of Unfortunate Events are the first to come to mind."

the orphans sitting together as another littler girl looks at them with her hands on her hips

28. "Jenny from Forrest Gump. Poor girl had the most horrific childhood, and her adult life wasn’t much better."

Jenny getting on a bus

29. And finally: "The fish in SpongeBob SquarePants: 'I was born with glass bones and paper skin. Every morning I break my legs, and every afternoon I break my arms. At night, I lie awake in agony until my heart attacks put me to sleep.' May have been a story, but even fictional characters can create fictional characters, right?"

the fish talking and SpongeBob and Patrick looking sad

Which fictional character has a backstory so sad that it makes you cry a single perfect tear every time you think about it? Tell us about them in the comments!