It’s not easy being a fictional character, just ask characters such as Bruce Banner who becomes The Hulk through a tortuous metamorphosis. Whilst some characters have clearly got it bad now that they’ve developed, other characters had it bad before they became who they are today. With this in mind, we thought we’d pay homage to those characters who happen to have some particularly painful backstories.
Whether it’s emotional or physical, no stone has been left unturned. We’ve spoken to the professionals on this matter and they’ve informed us that these are indeed some painful backgrounds. So let’s get on with it, our Top 10 for this week!
10) Jackie Estacado, The Darkness
Characters like Jackie aren’t exactly the most “pained” background, compared to some of the guys in our list, but he did have a very emotionally challenging journey. His wife was killed early on and he became rather… Let’s just say bitter.
He became one with a powerful entity only known as The Darkness, but if that wasn’t bad enough, he himself has died on several occasions. Challenging and unsettling, Jackie is out there to get vengeance on those who did wrong.
9) Hellboy – Dark Horse
It’s never going to be easy being half-demon half-witch, but it’d surely be an awful lot simpler if your arm is not immediately sliced off and replaced by a weapon of incredible destructive power. It’s probably no fun to be cast out of hell before your father is encased in ice for his treachery. Fortunately the mortal world is full of loving souls who will gladly show you the finer things in life, people whom you in turn will love and protect, and outlive, and be forced to watch grow old and die, all the while knowing that you are destined to bring about their doom.
Anung Un Rama has a pretty easy life amongst the people who he serves, generally regarded as a hero by those who know him at all. But hanging quite literally over his head is the constant reminder of his heritage, the big curly horns he pulled off by hand in order to denounce his father.
8) Aang, Avatar
Yeaaah, we don’t need to say much about this one. When he was a boy, he was told that he would have the weight of the world on his shoulders.
He’s was taken away from a normal life as a boy at the young age of 6 who would become the Avatar, however he was told that he would have to bare the issues of the world. Isolation, important duties and never being able to be a real child… Now that’s sad.
7) Runcible – Titansgrave
I enjoyed watching Wil Wheaton’s AGE system RPG. I’ve seen him in a players seat before, and briefly DMing too, but Titan’s Grave was full of rich characters, an interesting world, and a fun and compelling narrative that was unafraid to go dark.
Oh and dark was exactly where it went. The idea that immortality is a curse is best summarised by the poor lonesome toy, designed to be the best friend of a young man who died years before, who wanders alone without anyone to play with or repair his scratches or jumpy motors. When the players arrive in the abandoned mansion where he lives, he is so terribly lonely that he insists they play a game with him before he helps.
A half robot teddy bear wandering around an empty mansion demanding that hard-ball player characters play children’s games is profoundly creepy, and Hank Green is understandably freaked out by him, but alas poor Runcible only has goodness in his heart. He may be permanently cheerful, but he’ll break your cold, shrivelled heart.
6) Zidane Tribal, Final Fantasy IX
So this guy is a Genome, which is pretty cool. He was sent to Gaia as a destroyer of the planet… Which again is pretty damn cool. However, he kinda crash landed and managed to forget everything. However, what happened next could only be described as harsh.
He was adopted by a man who lived out in the middle of nowhere… And this man would beat him whenever he went out to go and find out who he is. Boots. Fists. Belts. Ouch… Harsh. Guess what? He basically gets Stockholm Syndrome, too.
5) Dr. Gregory House M.D.
More widely acknowledged as the best modern interpretation of Sherlock Holmes, House has one particular driving force that he does not share with his inspiration. Not many people have the dubious fortune to experience the death of muscle. His stubborn refusal to have his leg taken from him results in the decision to remove a chunk of his thigh muscle, leaving him lame, increasingly bitter, and famously addicted to Vicodin.
His suffering began long before that of course. His step-father was abusive, as was his grandmother. His doting mother seems almost obstinately oblivious to her son’s suffering, and House spends years tortured by his inability to confront her over it. The experience has left him jaded and misanthropic (odd for a doctor, but never mind), made far worse by the constant pain in his leg.
4)Rorschach – The Watchmen
Problematic children are a general theme of the painful backstories. However Rorschach had a very abused childhood who was the son of a prostitue. Abuse rife in his childhood, Rorachach wanted to see justice in the world.
Becoming increasing voilent through the rest of his childhood until he was taken in by a home for problem children, he became better… at boxing and being violent! But no matter, he enjoyed a specific fabric and made himself into a form of super hero because of it. Hurrah!
3) Harvey “Two Face” Dent – Batman
Gotham’s public saviour, district attorney Harvey Dent had fought for years against his own bipolar depression and hereditary schizophrenia (inherited from his abusive father) to rise through the political ranks in his crusade to end the reign of the criminal families of the city. Better known for his hard-line stance on organised crime and good looks at the time, the incident changed it all for the polar opposite.
Be it the acid thrown at him by Sal Maroni, or the fire that engulfed him in the Joker’s plot, the newly emerged “Two Face” is so badly disfigured that his mind finally gives in to the latent madness. Permanently marked by a constant reminder of how his conquest failed, and his revenge drive took him into the darkest recesses of his own mind. Ultimately he became everything he fought to destroy, within and without.
2) Yamask, Pokemon
Yamask is a Pokemon. But it’s actually a dead human being, who can remember everything about his or her past. Now, that’s not so bad… Until you realise that it carries around a mask which is an exact copy of its real living face.
Whenever it looks at its face, it cries. Uncontrollably! It remembers everything about its past, including any family it had and now it has to be in the power of some child who believes he is the very best.
1) The Weapon X Project
Once again we were hit with indecision!
Wolverine has been alive for an insanely long time. In that time he has fought alongside friends in every major historical war, and watched them all die, but he felt no loss more keenly than the respect that was lost in the franchise films – I mean the death of Silverfox his first wife at the hands of Sabertooth.
Deadpool has cancer of the everything. Just everywhere…
Either way, the most brutal and terrible part of their life is involvement in the Weapon X program. The terrible, government-sanctioned illicit experimentation on human and mutant subjects to create ultimate soldiers and compliant weapons for the United States taking place at “The Facility” have no regard for morality or the resultant mental torture, only the destructive power of the end result.
Logan was kidnapped by the project and infused with adamantium, the molten metal adhered to his skeleton while he was still conscious. His boundless healing allowed his body to accommodate the augmentation.
Wilson on the other hand was artificially imbued with the same healing factor that Weapon X stole from Wolverine as a “cure” for his cancers. It failed, instead his body is now locked in eternal war with cancer, he lives his life permanently disfigured and entirely insane – or possibly the most sane of anyone alive.
The Weapon X project is a catalogue of pain, torture and emotional distress, so which of these classic cases suffered most? Cast your vote!
The wrestler Kane is a character filled with bad intentions, but also a dreadfully sad background. He doesn’t make our list as he’s not really y’know… Geeky… But he is to me damn it! Brother of the Undertaker, he’s a masked menace who has been terrorising the roster of the WWE for many years and hopefully more to come.
Growing up, he was subjected to setting the family house on fire, as well as accidentally burning his mother alive. His father, Paul Bearer, more or less disowned him. The worst thing of all? He burned his face which required him to wear a mask, plus then the most tragic thing of all… He had to have a robotic voice for a while. That was dreadful.
Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing
There are better ways to discover that you have inherited an immeasurably powerful vampiric servant than bleeding to death while you hide in its’ cage, but its’ one hell of a way to put a stop to your murderous traitor uncle.
When her father died Sir Integra found herself at the head of the foremost agency in the world for the hunting and slaying of inhuman monsters, which may be a heavy burden at the age of twelve. Certainly Uncle Richard felt so, but was the pistol and mini-lynch mob entirely necessary? Ultimately this event finds a twenty-two year old Sir Hellsing with a five century old vampire bodyguard and attack dog, but that kind of thing can really leave a mark.
Did you agree with our list for this week, or did you think we should be put on one of those chairs that give you an electric shock, y’know the ones from the arcades but just super-vamp it? If you felt we missed the mark with this one, let us know. If you feel we did justice to the poor men and women who suffered before they became who they are, then let us know again… Or if you just disagree with our order or you feel a character has been omitted in error, let us know in the comments below, or over on Facebook and Twitter. Please remember to hit that like button and vote for next weeks’ Top 10 and for who wins between Wolverine and Deadpool for the most painful backstory.
Huge thanks to all of the members of the GeekOut meetup on October 10th. They helped us write this list and we hope you enjoyed this list too. As always, let us know what we’ve done right ((and more importantly, what we did wrong!))