Characters who can’t catch a break…

Characters who can’t catch a break…

I put many of my characters through the wars—sometimes literally. I don’t think I’ve written a story where at least two of the characters don’t suffer serious bodily or emotional injury. I’m not if that’s because I enjoy it, or because it helps to develop a character. Probably somewhere in between. Because stacking the odds against a character, putting them through battles and torturing them can be a good way of changing/developing/testing a character.

There are plenty of characters who get a tough time of it. A few of the one’s who get particularly hard done by are listed below.


Harry Potter

Potter is probably one of the unluckiest characters in fiction. He loses friends and family, almost dies a dozen times himself, and has a destiny he can’t escape from, an enemy who will stop at nothing, all while he has the fate of an entire world resting on his shoulders.

Harry uses everything he’s lost to put in perspective the decision he has to make. And in the end it pays off.

Percy Jackson

Like Potter, Percy Jackson has a destiny, and it’s just as heavy on his shoulders as Potters. Percy Jackson loses friends and family too, and has enemies and monsters pursuing him pretty much the entire way through the five-book (plus spin-offs) series. He gets thrown around and stabbed and bitten in almost every chapter of every book.

Again, like Potter, Percy comes through everything by using his suffering to fuel his fight against his enemy.

Valkyrie Cain/Stephanie Edgley (Skulduggery Pleasant)

Derek Landy’s books are known for their action and fight sequences, and most of them involve Valkyrie/Stephanie. She gets stabbed, kicked, punched. In one book she is experimented on. In the later books she joins Potter and Jackson and has a destiny that predicts she will one day destroy the world. She loses friends and family along the way.

I’ve still got one more book to read in the series, but so far, Valkyrie’s suffering has only resulted in more suffering.

Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)giphy (22)

Katniss Everdeen goes through the Hunger Games twice, then she’s pulled into a rebellion against the government. Shefinds an enemy in President Snow; all while becoming the symbol of the rebellion and having the fate of an entire country on her shoulders.

Katniss uses the suffering of the games to fuel her fight against the capitol.

The Baudelaires (A Series of Unfortunate Events)

giphy (29)
Count Olaf. There’s not much else to add. But as well as him, the orphans face off against other enemies at every turn–and leeches. What they go through is summed up well by the series title. A Series of Unfortunate Events—hard to think of a more apt title.

It’s hard to see what benefit the Baudelaires suffering has… Bringing them… closer… together?

John Cleaver (I am Not a Serial Killer, and the sequels)

As well as battling his own psychopathic tendencies, and urges to torture and kill people, John has to face off against a new threat/killer/supernatural being in each of the three (so far) books. As well as suffering some losses which I won’t spoil for anyone who hasn’t read, or got that far in the series yet.

But what he goes through helps him deal with his tendencies.


There are many more characters who get pushed to their limits in stories, it would need half a dozen blog posts to list the characters who suffer in A Game of Thrones and the rest of the Song of Fire and Ice series. But the characters suffer, for the most part, for a reason and it always results in their character changing or achieving something because of their suffering.

Can anyone think of any other character/characters who can’t catch a break?  

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About Sam Whitehouse

Sam spends most of his time in a different world to other people. If it isn’t one he’s created himself, it’s one he’s reading about. In the rare moments when this isn’t the case, Sam can either be found addicted to a sci-fi or crime show, re-watching Marvel movies, finishing up an assignment for his final year of studying Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, or trying to get the dozens of ideas for stories in his head under some kind of control. Sam has lived in the same small village in Yorkshire, surrounded by countryside on all sides ever since he could remember. His childhood saw him get into plenty of scrapes climbing trees and crossing rivers and generally believing he was Indiana Jones. Sam gives credit to his Grandad for him wanting to be a writer, and his bedtime stories for keeping Sam’s imagination stoked. But credit must also go to Steven Spielberg, J K Rowling and Stephen King, who have provided plenty of inspiration over the years, too. Sam writes what he reads, and that is pretty much anything—save romance. Fantasy, thrillers, or crime: once an idea takes root, he can’t stop until the world, characters, and plot are on paper. A huge Marvel fan, Sam one day hopes to pen a screenplay for one of their movies, or direct one, or do anything at all related to one. Until then, he’ll stick to his own fantasy worlds and wait for Marvel’s phone call.

Posted on 04/21/2015, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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