There are a lot of examples of the ‘Tragic Backstory’ trope in comics, but X-Men Rogue has to be right near the top.  After discovering her powers by practically killing the boy she loved, she was roped by a woman who turned out to be her birth mother into a life of mutant terrorism.  She accidentally nearly killed an Avenger, for which she was branded a monster, and when she found a place to belong, even the other freaks didn’t trust her.  Once with the X-Men, she found a man she could love, only to find that her powers still stood in the way, and he was a giant dirtbag, leading to today’s soap opera query…

The MS-QOTD (pronounced, as always, “misquoted”) won’t even mention Wolverine making fun of the way she says “time” as “tahm”, which isn’t really tragic, but is really jerkass, especially since he still says “aboat”, asking: Which character has the MOST tragic backstory in all of fiction?


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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Scott Gunstream on

    J’onn J’onzz watching his entire species be murdered by his brother should have lasting effects.

  2. Alita of Battle Angel fame. She’s, like, composed of 90% tragic backstory.

    Her life begins as a cancerous tumor that grows faces and brains out of the infected person’s body. Her donor-mother happens to be a Martian Princess, so she is harvested and given a cyborg body which is then kidnapped to be used in a Martian political power struggle.

    The time frame is disjointed, but next we find her barely having any self-awareness as she is force marched across a minefield as a Polish Detector, but is save by the person whom will supposedly teach her martial arts. (But not yet!) She met up with another girl when being made to walk across a minefield, Erika, and a friendship is formed. They’re taken to an orphanage and dropped off. The orphanage is attacked and all of her new friends, except Erika, are killed while they flee.

    They’re picked up by a kindly traveling doctor as he is visiting the less well-to-do sections of war-torn Mars. They drive for a bit, but then the giant bubble that is keeping in the atmosphere gets attacked by terrorists and a hole is blow in it, letting out all the air in an explosive event killing hundreds (Thousands? There is a lot of people in the background stacked like cord wood in the aftermath.)

    They manage to survive and they continue their journey. Her friend is remembers that she has been horrifically abused as a child growing up and murdered her parents in revenge.

    Then Alita’s mother is found! Alita is delivered to her and is well taken care of for a short while. It’s not her mother, guys. It turns out to be a nursemaid that is playing the part of her mother (And is like an cousin or something of her donor-mother, explaining why they look alike.), but she loves her anyway, so it’s okay. Then she gets kidnapped again.

    Or they’re kidnapped and her foster mother turns it into an escape attempt to avoid being used as political pawns. Her foster mother is killed in escape.

    There is blank space here in her timeline as her story is still being told, but what eventually happens is that she gets inducted into a Martial Arts Freedom Fighter’s Cult/Terrorist Organization and learns to kick butt/slaughter indiscriminately. She fights in a prolonged war for Martian Independence, for which side was never to clear as the sides are very distinct yet, only to participate in a suicide spaceship ramming maneuver, get exploded into orbit, survive re-entry on Earth to land in a giant scrapheap where she laid dormant for at least a hundred years.

    It is at THIS point that Doctor Ido find’s Alita in the giant scrapheap under Tiphares and the Battle Angel manga begins.

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