17 TV Characters With Shockingly Depressing Backstories Guaranteed To Make You Tear Up

List Rules
Vote up the character whose backstory made you wish you could reach into your TV screen and offer them a hug.

The "dark and troubled past" trope is nothing new. Rarely on a TV show is there not at least one character who has gone through something traumatic in their history. This trauma can range from absent parents to abusive relatives, or from criminal pasts to dead lovers. Some TV characters just have it worse than others. But the characters on this list really take the cake. From homelessness, to castration, to accidentally killing their loved ones, these characters have been through so much it's honestly surprising they’re still standing.

For some, the hardship started at a really young age, affecting them way into adulthood. Others learn to accept their traumatic past and find a way to move forward, only occasionally revealing glimpses of their emotional scars. All in all, a troubled past can certainly make a character more layered and complex. Plus, a good backstory can push viewers to root for characters they would otherwise despise, and to love their favorites even more.

The only downside? Sometimes the backstories are so brutal they can prove too much to handle. Here are our favorite TV heroes with highly disturbing pasts, from Phoebe Buffay to Doctor Who himself.