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The traumatic disillusioning event that pulls many heroes into angsty cynicism.

The Anti-Hero or antagonist of a series actually used to be a hero or maybe even a proto-Messiah, who protected something that obviously needs protection. Location, artifact, or whatever. Anime is especially fond of giving aloof swordsmen a literal Dead Little Sister, but a younger sidekick or occasionally even a Love Interest can also work.

He felt fulfilled protecting it, even if it was hard work and troubling, plus it was a good outlet for any negative tendencies. Unfortunately, at some point it is arbitrarily or meaninglessly destroyed. He'll either blame himself for inaction and not being a better hero, or curse the unfairness of the world.

He'll swear off distractions like optimism or having friends, and if there's an enemy to be fought, swear an oath of vengeance against them. If not the Anti-Hero, he will become The Lancer or the resident stubborn, angsty cynic.

He'll always be critical if he feels the show's actual hero isn't doing his job at protecting the ones he loves, although he may mellow out once he becomes friends with The Messiah. Further closure can be supplied by his former tormentor/villain appearing at a later date in the series so he can defeat them.

Sometimes he'll get his own Morality Pet which reminds him of his Dead Little Sister, which may touch upon the theme of a Replacement Goldfish. If the little sister was also a Living Emotional Crutch, this "new crutch" may provide the needed emotional stability to become The Atoner.

If, on the other hand, the character descends into full villainhood to punish the world that killed his Dead Little Sister; expect the heroes to utter the phrase "This isn't what she would have wanted!" upon learning his backstory. They still may say it if he's just a Well-Intentioned Extremist or The Atoner to the point of hideous self-flagellation.

Expect a Hollywood Atheist to have one of these to explain why he or she does not believe in God.

A subtrope of Disposable Woman. Occasionally ties into the Oblivious Younger Sibling. Can lead to a Shapeshifter Guilt Trip. A Dead Little Sister is usually a more or less fleshed out Posthumous Character, in which case, expect them to appear in a Happier Home Movie. In the case of her being a Love Interest, expect her to be The Lost Lenore. Compare to Chekhov MIA when it turns out they aren't dead. See also Death By Origin Story, Berserk Button.

Examples of Cynicism Catalyst include:


Anime and Manga Edit

  • Gundam SEED Destiny's main character Shinn Asuka has this hardcore with his literal dead little sister, Mayu, who was accidentally blown up alongside their parents when they got caught in between battle fire. To the point where Shinn carries around her cell phone and listens to her "leave a message after the beep" recording when he gets down. Creepy.
    • It is in fact lampshaded upon in Super Robot Wars Z, after being taken out of his berserker streak by Stellar Louissier if they saved her earlier. When back at base, Shinn's girlfriend Lunamaria Hawke is concerned that Stellar is going to be a contender for Shinn's heart, but Shinn tells her that he sees Stellar as a platonic brother-sister relationship. Making up for your mistake theres huh Shinn?
      • Hey, it kills two birds with one stone, enabling Shinn to save Stella and keep his relationship with Luna.
      • It is also related to how Freedom was responsible for losing someone who was so close to him, first Mayu and then Stellar, this is a semi-epiphany on Shinn's part as he has a second chance. Though how Stellar viewed Shin could also pose as potential Brother-Sister Incest.
  • Subverted in Gundam ZZ where Judau thinks his little sister Lina is killed in a mobile suit combat. They reunion in the very last episode.
  • Female version: Himiko Kudo from GetBackers. Backstory is that Ban killed her brother, Yamato, while they were all theives together.
  • Kanae from Elfen Lied is a dead little sister, but a non-example, as while Kouta remembers her fondly, he's gotten (sorta) over her death. Lucy's Kill All Humans mentality, however, began because of the loss of her puppy at the hands of some very cruel kids. Her Start of Darkness was a lethal Unstoppable Rage at All of the Other Reindeer you could almost root for.
    • For the record, he got over it by blocking out the entire event. When his memories return, he SNAPS.. When his memories return, he SNAPS.​
      • And Lucy is the one who killed Kanae and Kouta's father right in front of him!
  • Dias's motivation in Star Ocean EX was literally his dead sister.
  • Mikagami from Flame of Recca, whose older sister died early. At some point before his Heel Face Turn, he kidnaps Princess Yanagi and forcibly cuts her hair since she looks a lot like his sister.
  • In a mild example of the phenomenon, Sai "Ice Machine" Jounouchi in Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer continues to play Angelic Layer in honour of her Dead Little Sister, Rin. Like many things in Angelic Layer, this wasn't in the manga at all.
  • Soukou no Strain gives Lottie a dead older brother. Sara's dead schoolmates also fit the "failed to protect" mold, giving her post-traumatic stress syndrome for a long time afterward.
  • Fruits Basket has several, to varying degrees. Hatsuharu and Hiro each feel that they failed to protect someone they loved (Rin and Kisa), though no one died. Averted with Tohru, whose mother died, because her warm personality is the point of the series.
    • Tohru's mother Kyoko goes on a self-destructive and nearly suicidal streak after her husband Katsuya dies of illness, and only recovers after remembering she still has a daughter who needs her.
  • Chester, the archer in the anime adaptation of Tales of Phantasia, is driven incessantly by his need for revenge after Mars kills his little sister (his only family) while he is out hunting with the main character. He is so driven that he appears to give up sleep entirely, instead using the night to practice his bowmanship.
    • That's his motivation in the game, too. In a less literal example, Cless is also fighting for his parents, who were killed in the same event.
      • In fact, it is so heavily impacted on him that he gets rather overprotective of Kanonno that original characters that they wonder why it is so.
  • The main character of Blade of the Immortal put down his sword after his Bounty Hunter lifestyle led him to accidentally kill his sister's husband (he'd never met him before), causing said sister to mentally revert to a child-like state to cope. He picks it back up after his refusal to fight later resulted in his sister being graphically sliced to pieces. The story deals with his need to balance the two extremes; of course, the whole thing leans more towards violence, but generally it's for a good cause.
  • Nunnally in Code Geass seemingly towards the end of R2. She gets better but not in time for Lelouch to stop his Zero-Approval Gambit when he discovers she's alive.
    • Since Lelouch kinda recognized Rolo as his little brother in episode 19...now he has a dead little brother too.
    • It's also genderflipped in the case of Lelouch's female bodyguard, Kallen Kouzuki, who has a dead older brother named Naoto.
      • Likewise for Nunnally Who now has a dead Lelouch, not to mention the many siblings Lelouch himself killed.
    • To be fair, Nunnally and Schneizel offed at least three of their siblings themselves too.
    • Played straight with Euphemia for Cornelia.
    • Also used in the spinoff manga Nightmare of Nunnally where Canon Foreigner Alice has a real Dead Little Sister, and protects Nunnally at first in part because Nunnally represents a chance to protect her dead sister the way she failed to the first time around.
    • Episode 16 of the first season reveals that Cornelia feels this way about Lelouch and Nunnally. The dialogue kind of implies that these feelings are part of the reason she hates the Japanese. Obviously, she doesn't know that they're both alive.
  • In Martian Successor Nadesico, a young girl named Ai whom Akito meets in an underground shelter shortly before it's attacked by enemy Mecha-Mooks serves as a kind of Dead Little Sister to him. Eventually it turns out that she didn't die, but instead was sent first forward, then backward in time, and grew up to be one of the major characters... the local Hot Scientist, Inez Fressange.
  • Meine Liebe Orphereus has a case of an older dead sister that fits the trope, as does Ed's missing little sister although we do not know whether she is indeed dead.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Yukishiro Enishi has a Dead Big Sister complex. The entire Jinchuu arc is fought to see if she smiles on their actions.
  • Narutaru has Shiina Tamai's older sister, Mishou, who died few after Shiina's birth. Her death tore the family apart and it'd take more than a decade and another death to patch things up.
  • Ken Ichijouji of Digimon Adventure 02 has a Dead Big Brother instead, but it certainly tears him apart.
    • Neo Saiba's digital world takeover in the manga Digimon V-Tamer 01 is motivated by his little sister who isn't dead but in a wheelchair.
  • In Noein the pseudo-villain/anti-hero Atori watched his little sister step on a land mine. Atori's attachment to Miho is most likely due to her resemblance to his dead sister.
  • Doubly inverted in Detective Conan. Shiho Miyano is younger than her sister Akemi, but since Shiho was a Teen Genius she is already the leader in The Syndicate's lab while Akemi is just a random member and local Anti-Villain. In the anime, The Syndicate asked Akemi to rob a bank in exchange for Shiho's freedom, and Conan actually begged her to not meet up with them...but after incapacitating Conan, Akemi went anyway yo try free her little sister from said Syndicate. And they kill her. This causes a devastated Shiho to try betraying The Syndicate and failing, then in a case of Better to Die Than Be Killed she took a poison she developed before they came to execute her -- but instead of dying she suffered its other effect, which shrank her to the size of a six-year old child. Because of that, she was able to escape and eventually assume the identity of Ai Haibara.
    • Many other dead little/older siblings appear in too many cases to list here. The most spectacular case is Ill Girl Karin Torakuro, the victim of a really cruel trap from her brother's boss..
  • In Gunslinger Girl the brothers Guiseppe and Jean are both seeking revenge for the death of their sister Enrica at the hands of terrorists. The names of their chosen weapons, the cyborgs 'Henrietta' and 'Rico', reflect this. The difference is that Jean is cold-blooded towards Rico (deliberately), whereas Guiseppe has created a surrogate in Henrietta, even (in the manga chapter "Fantasma") making her wear one of Enrica's dresses. Though Jean is visibly shocked by this act, he is unable to find the strength to reprimand his brother.
  • Ef: A Tale Of Melodies has two dead little sisters, which gets milked for all the Melodrama the makers can wring out of it.
  • In Fairy Tail, Mirajane and Elfman's Dead Little Sister Lisanna had the opposite effect from usual: though it was pretty much literally Elfman's fault that she died (she tried to stop him from going on a bloodthirsty rampage when he was Not Himself), her death changed him from kind-hearted, shy, and wimpy to kind-hearted but loud and confrontational with a Big Brother Instinct toward Mirajane, who herself was an aggressive Badass and became very loving and sweet. Lisana's death also served to bring her siblings closer, rather than driving them apart.
    • She doubles as a Dead Childhood Friend/Crush for Protagonist Natsu, although his personality didn't really change much, when he thinks of his happy childhood with the guild he always thinks of Lisanna first, and has nightmares about her. He also Never Got to Say Goodbye, since their last interaction before she left for the mission that would kill her, was her promising to visit him when she got back.
    • Turns out she just was teleported to another dimention and stayed there for the while.
    • The anime moves this to further Tear Jerker territory as it expands on her background and death scene.
  • In Saiyuki, Hakkai's Dead Sister Kanan is also I Let Gwen Stacy Die, because they became lovers.
  • Ayaka Yukihiro of Mahou Sensei Negima had a little brother who was the same age as Negi, but he died shortly after birth. This is probably the root of her attraction to Negi.
  • Pokémon the First Movie's backstory. Mewtwo wasn't the only thing being cloned; a little girl who died in a car crash and three other Pokemon were as well. The four became friends via Mewtwo's psychic link, but the experiment went wrong and all but Mewtwo died. To really drive the nail home, the scientists unintentionally induced Aesop Amnesia on him when they stabilized him, leaving him only with a subconscious memory of a friend who died for nothing. This did not end well when he was finally released.
  • All the Claymore share more or less the same Dark and Troubled Past : family murdered by Youma, exiled from their village, and then are forced to become Half-Human Hybrid. That means that each Claymore has her Dead Little Sister complex. A significant part of the story is about the various way each of them react with that (starting a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, feeling guilty of being the only survivor, going Knight Templar...).
  • Leon Oswald from Kaleido Star has an actual dead little sister. Her name was Sophie, she was his partner as well, and was killed in a car accident before a big competition, in front of Leon himself. He still blames himself, and is always looking for someone like Sophie (to a pretty destructive extreme), which leads him to main girl Sora Naegino.
  • Trigun plays it oh-so-very-straight with Rem. Meryl Stryfe is the familiar Morality Pet because she looks a lot like her.
  • Played straight in Dr Koto: A journalist come to ruin Koto's life (again), full of bitterness after his little sister died from Koto's lack of care.
  • In the manga and anime Project ARMS, Ryo Takatsuki goes on a brief downward spiral after believing he caused the death of his childhood friend (and girl he loved) Katsumi. When it turns out she was really alive, he spends most of the series traveling from Japan to America with his friends to rescue her, only to watch her be killed again by his own hands by accident (the bad guy threw her in front of himself as Ryo attacked), which causes Ryo to nearly bring about the end of the world out of his guilt and sadness. Then, when it turns out she's not dead again but is implanted with ARMS of her own and kidnapped by the evil organization Ryo's been fighting he must again battle his sadness while setting off to rescue her. Wow.
  • Naruto. As far as the Raikage's concerned, Killer Bee is this for him. This leads to the raikage's pwning of Sasuke. Subverted: Killer Bee managed to escape from Sasuke's team
    • Played straight with Konan and Nagato/Pain and their best friend Yahiko.
  • In Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Tanimoto has only the memory of his sister as his inspiration. Kenichi's sister Honoka later becomes his Morality Pet.
  • Samurai Gun. Ichimatsu watched his sister get raped and murdered; leading to his quest to find whether his mysterious employers were responsible, and his Celibate Hero relationship with Hooker with a Heart of Gold Ohana.
  • In Fushigi Yuugi, Nuriko's dead sister Kourin inspires his appearance. And Tamahome receives a power-up once Suboshi kills his family, ending with Tamahome's youngest sister. And for worse, Suboshi killed them because he blamed Tamahome for the apparent death of his older twin brother, Amiboshi.
    • We later learn that Nuriko became a Dead Little Brother for his surviving sibling, Ill Boy Chou Rokou
  • In Darker Than Black, Hei's little sister Bai disappeared during whatever the hell happened in South America. She actually somehow got fused with her brother as a Soul Fragment, but he doesn't know that. Anyone he thinks might know anything about what happened to her tends to be in for a great deal of pain thanks to his status as a Knight Templar Big Brother.
  • Kaze no Stigma's Kazuma had his lover killed before the start of the series, invoking his reason to get his powers. His not-so-hidden reasoning for protecting Ayano is to make sure it doesn't happen again.
    • He got a chance to take revenge on the killer and a spirit who's taken over his lover's body, but doesn't end up killing either of them.
  • In Et Cetera, Baskerville's younger sister was an Ill Girl whom he was trying to save. He joins the Syndicate in order to get access to a medicine for her, but it turns out the medicine was a narcotic that quickened her heart rate and worsened her condition, eventually killing her.
  • In Gundam 00, Lockon Stratos's younger sister Amy and their parents were killed in a terrorist attack when he was a child. He's normally the cheery big brother of the team, but give him a chance for Revenge...
  • Following the events of Tokyo Babylon, Hokuto serves as this for Subaru during X 1999.
  • Cross Game has Wakaba as Aoba's dead older sister.
  • Ryou Bakura had a little sister who died in a car wreck (She's never mentioned in the anime). Though he doesn't act all Angsty because of it, he is shown writing her a letter. This might also explain his fondness for the Occult, which has a lot to do with communicating with and raising the dead.
    • Alister joined doom to get revenge on Kaiba for the death of his little brother later revealed to have been killed on Dartz's orders as part of massive xanthos roulette
  • In Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles, Marcus Rush has a Dead Big Sister - namely (original) Marlene who was killed by the Invid at beginning of Mospeada, which is the reason he hates Invids so much. This results in quite a few rage attacks.
  • In Zetsuen no Tempest, Mahiro doesn't care about saving the world and just wants to kill his sister's killer - not to get revenge or because she'd want him to or anything, but because it wasn't fair. (He doesn't seem to care much that his parents were also killed, though.) Interestingly, it turns out the sister was also Yoshino's girlfriend, which is the reason he ends up joining Mahiro.
  • In Paranoia Agent, Lil' Slugger comes about and ends up destroying Tokyo because Tsukiko felt guilty about her puppy dying when she was a child. Seriously.
  • Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist has two major Dead Little Sister events: the failed attempt to revive his mother through human transmutation that resulted in him losing an arm and a leg and his younger brother Alphonse being reduced to a soul attached to a walking suit of armor, and the horrible fate of Nina Tucker.
  • The Legend of Koizumi uses the real-life example below of Robin and George W. Bush.
  • Chōji Suitengu from Speed Grapher only maintained sanity throughout his years of hellish service in the military by thinking of finding his little sister again after he got out. When he finally does, the only thing he can do for her is end her suffering, turning him into a callous bastard and the Big Bad of the series.
  • The occurrence of this trope is what starts off ARAGO.
  • Kind of downplayed in Neon Genesis Evangelion: Touji Suzuhara's little sister was critically wounded in the first battle. Leads to tension with Shinji.
    • More shocking: in the anime, after being recruited, he asks as a favor having his sister transferred to Nerv's hospital. In the manga, the Nerv use this to force him to pilot.
  • In Mawaru Penguindrum, Momoka Oginome is the dead older sister to Ringo.
  • Aside from being Chihaya's dead little Brother this trope is played straight as it gets in the anime version of THE iDOLM@STER.


Comicbooks Edit

  • In the Jem comics, the Misfits are even bigger Jerkasses than usual. This actually makes sense when you consider that the comic is part of the Hasbro Comic Universe, so any of the events happening "in the background" (the Dire Wraith invasion, the Decepticon invasion, the Sea Adventurer having become the evil Miles Mayhem, Garrison Kane being the dark wizard Merklynn in disguise...) could have pushed the Misfits to the Despair Event Horizon.
  • In Marvel Comics, the death of Bucky at the end of WW 2 served as a continual source of angst and self-flagellation for Captain America.
  • Magneto's Dead Little Sister? Is the Holocaust.
    • The exact event that serves as Magneto's Dead Little Sister (if there is a single one) is debatable. After he escaped Auschwitz, he got married to a Gypsy girl named Magda who also ran away from there, moved to Ukraine with her and basically tried to continue living his life. But then his daughter Anya was killed by a mob and Magda left him after he crossed her personal Moral Event Horizon by going Kill'Em All. Even then, it was still several years (and other crap getting piled on him) before he went completely batshit.
  • Also from the X-Men, Colossus, the big armored Russian, had a literal dead sister: when his younger sister and local Dark Magical Girl Illyana/Majik died of the Legacy Virus in the early '90s, he went all gloomy and pulled a Face Heel Turn to join Magneto's side for a while. He then got back, and then he died. And got back again. It's... complicated.
    • Not to mention Illyana came back as well.
  • Subverted in a pretty awesome manner in Fray, set in a The Future of the Buffy Verse.
  • In the comics, Snake Eyes from G.I.Joe carries a picture of his twin sister with him during his service in Vietnam, as a good-luck charm. When he comes back home, he learns that his entire family has died in a car accident. And that's just the beginning for him...
  • Green Lantern John Stewart was retconned (or Judd Winicked) into having a Dead Little Sister fueling his anger. Not sure if this is already Canon Dis Continuity, though.
    • Not to mention his role in the destruction of Xanshi, which almost makes him commit suicide.
  • Late in Y: The Last Man we discover that Alter Tse'elon's whole military career and militarist attitude were caused by the accidental death of her (older) sister during a pro-Palestinian non-violent demonstration she was participating in.
  • Lara, the little girl who secretly rebuilt the battered robot paratrooper Mongrol in ABC Warriors. Her death, compounded with the electric torture that fully returned him to live, took such a toll on his psyche that he was left a single-mindedly violent monster who knows only rage and confusion. According to the narration, in his broken mind he sees and hears Lara always, encouraging his quest for vengeance against the enemy forces that killed her.
  • The most recent version of Black Adam's origin story features the deaths of his wife and children sending him over the edge.
    • In 52 History repeats itself.
  • Flash villain Captain Cold has always been, as the name implies, a cold-hearted, merciless SOB. He's become even more so since his younger sister, the Golden Glider, was murdered. In one issue, he tracks down, tortures, and murders her killer. A few panels later, he's at home, tears running down his face, saying, "Much as I hate it, my heart's not always cold."
  • Various retellings of Doctor Strange's origin story give him one to explain how he became Dr. Jerk. (In the first version he didn't have any real excuse; he was just an ass.)


Films -- Live-Action Edit

  • Oldboy, although there the bad guy was in an incestuous relationship with his sister, which she ended by committing suicide when details of their relationship threatened to be exposed by the 'good' guy.
  • Hotaru no Haka (aka Grave of the Fireflies) (1988). Except for the "hero" part; the character was just an ordinary boy trying to take care of his kid sister. When she dies, it's the beginning of the end of his own life. (There's also much more recent TV series based on the same novel.)
    • It should be noted Nosaka, the original novelist, based much of it on his own wartime experiences, including the very real death of his own younger sister.
  • Danny Archer, in Blood Diamond: His mother was was raped and shot and his fatherwas decapitated and hung from a hook in the barn.
  • Colonel Mortimer in For a Few Dollars More spends the whole movie hunting down the man who caused his sister's death, but we never find out how old she was.
  • Marni fills this role for Nathan in Repo! The Genetic Opera
  • In Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, the death of Harmony's little sister Jenna drives the plot - but her death doesn't fulfill this trope. No, what made Harmony all kinds of screwed up and guilty was that she couldn't protect Jenna from their father, and then Harmony skipped town as soon as she was sixteen, leaving Jenna alone with him.
  • Michael from Underworld reveals in the Director's Cut that he became a doctor because his wife died in front of him after a car accident.
    • Selene's entire family was brutally murdered by Lycans, leading her to mercilessly hunt them once she became a vampire. Turns out Viktor, who turned her, was the one who actually killed her family.
  • Colonel O'Neil from Stargate originally left the military and went basket case because his son accidentally killed himself with O'Neil's own gun. He only joins the mission to the alien planet (from which there is little chance of returning) because he's downright suicidal.
    • Subverted in Stargate: Continuum. Daniel Jackson assumes that the O'Neill of the altered timeline also lost his son to a gun accident many years ago but it turns out that he's alive and well. This only serves to disgust alternate O'Neill that Daniel would suggest something so horrible, and enhances his refusal to believe their story.
  • In Million Dollar Baby, Frankie Dunn is enstranged from his daughter which leads to him first going to church on a regular basis (though he often irritates the minister by asking questions like "was Jesus a demi-god?") and later seeing Maggie Fitzgerald as a surrogate daughter.
  • In Lady in the Water, after reading Cleveland Heep's diary, Story learns that he became depressed and withdrawn from society after a burgler broke into his house, robbed him, and murdered his wife and children all while he was not home (which he blames himself for).
  • In A Short Film About Killing directed by Krzysztof Kieslowski, the young man on death row espoused a life of crime because he was so haunted by his dead little sister's memory.
  • In Top Gun, Maverick's angst during the second half of the movie comes from his feeling of responsibility over his RIO Goose's death.
  • Hannibal Lecter is literally given a dead little sister ("Mischa") during "Hannibal," causing a great deal of Badass Decay. Not enough to stop him from going on another killing spree, however.
  • Subverted in Revenge of the Sith, where the fear of the loss of Padme by childbirth is what drives Anakin over the edge to The Dark Side. Before that, there was the death of his mother in Attack of the Clones which started his descent.
    • For extra irony, she dies from childbirth because she loses her desire to live after seeing the monster Anakin becomes in trying to prevent her death.
  • Conrad's Dead Older Brother in Ordinary People, whose death drove him to attempt suicide and committed him to four months in a mental hospital.
  • Lakeview Terrace is about a cop (played by Samuel L. Jackson) who will go to any lengths, including intimidation, violence, and murder, to get the interracial couple who just became his new neighbors to move. The event that ultimately drove Turner to focus his rage on the couple is revealed to be the death of his wife, who was killed in a car accident while on her way to meet her white boss... who she was having an affair with.
  • Happens twice in Sucker Punch. In the beginning of the film, Baby Doll accidentally shoots her younger sister in an attempt to defend her from their evil stepfather, which leads to her being sent to an insane asylum. Later on, Rocket dies after sacrificing herself to protect her older sister, Sweet Pea, who, ironically, had only decided to help out the group to keep Rocket from getting killed.
  • In both versions of Footloose, Reverend Shaw's son getting killed in a car accident led to him leading a town-wide campaign against dancing and secular music.
  • In Face Off, Castor Troy's accidental murder of Sean Archer's son is a key event in the backstory of the two characters.


Literature Edit

  • The book and movie Hannibal Rising give Hannibal Lecter one of these, elaborating on allusions in the prior book and movie, Hannibal.
  • In one of JRR Tolkien's other stories in Middle-Earth, Túrin Turambar's slide into total berserk self-destruction started with a dead little sister. And, oddly, ended, by suicide, just after the death of his other little sister. Who he had married and gotten pregnant.
  • Stephen King:
    • IT: little brother Georgie's murder by Pennywise the Clown launches Bill into the leadership role of the Losers Club.
    • In The Dark Tower series, Henry Dean has a Dead Little Sister who was run over by a drunk driver, which has implications for Eddie, his younger brother: his mother drills into Eddie's head the idea that Henry has to sacrifice everything to Watch Out For Eddie (capitals are Stephen King's), because he and Mom don't want Eddie to end up dead like poor Selina, who didn't have anyone to Watch Out for her, so Eddie had better be grateful...
    • Wendy Torrance in The Shining lost her sister Eileen when she was run over by a car: Eileen was six, Wendy ten at the time. Wendy thinks that's probably the reason her mother became such an insufferable bitch.
    • Older sibling variant: in Pet Sematary, Rachel witnessed her ten-year-old sister's terminal illness and death when she was eight, leaving her phobic about even mention of death.
  • Inverted in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, in which we learn that Albus Dumbledore was well on his way to becoming a villain, only to have the death of his little sister Ariana (for which he either he, his brother, or his evil best friend Gellert Grindewald was guilty) give him a giant wake-up call and turn him around into a hero.
  • A Christmas Carol: Fan Scrooge, who is said to have died in childbirth in some film adaptations. This event triggered/hastened Ebenezer's downward spiral into miserdom, and he especially hates his nephew/her son Fred for it.
    • Fan was named after Dickens' older sister Fanny, who, ironically, died of tuberculosis five years after the book was published, and had a crippled son who was the inspiration for Tiny Tim.
  • In Haunted 1988 David keeps seeing visions of his dead sister, Juliet. While she was his twin (younger) she looks and acts young. He feels constantly guilty and upset over this, to the point of becoming an alcoholic. In the film this has changed slightly.
  • Of Mice and Men: Although the Dead Little Sister occurs at the very end of the book, it could be speculated that George Milton fits this trope this after losing his American Dream, and being forced to shoot his own little sister equivalent.
  • The Catcher in The Rye's Holden Caulfield is angry, depressed and prone to failing out of school largely because of his little brother Allie, who died of Leukemia.
  • In Tales of MU, it's implied that Coach Callahan has a Dead Little Sister in Theona. Callahan honors Theona by Sink Or Swim Mentoring the Theona-ness out of college students.
  • The Warcraft novel Lord of the Clans gives Thrall a Dead Big Sister of sorts: Taretha Foxton, the daughter of the woman who nursed Thrall as an infant, and later helps him escape his captivity, eventually at the cost of her life. Her influence is one of the main reasons that Thrall is willing to work with Humans in Warcraft III and afterwards.
  • There's an example in the King Arthur myth. The accidental slaughter of three of Gawain's younger brothers turns his long rivalry with Lancelot into a vendetta. This fight between the two chief knights leaves the Round Table open to attack, letting Mordred worm his way in and destroy everything. (The theme of revenge in this slightly subverted in that Gawain is the one who ends up dead.)
    • Of course, Arthur doesn't attack Lancelot until he rescues Guinevere from being burned alive for adultery, and takes her to Joyous Gard, his realm. Sources debate on whether Arthur was counting on Lancelot rescuing the Queen or not.
  • The English Patient has at least two: Hana's father and Kip's mentor, Lord Suffolk. Possibly Katharine Clifton as well, in the Patient's backstory; it's hard to tell, since those sequences are recounted by the Patient, and heavily tinted by his own worldview.
    • In the film version (dunno about the book), Hana sees her Genki Girl best friend die when the jeep she and others are travelling steps over a mine and is blown up.
  • This is the humanizing element of "Gentleman" Johnny Marcone, Affably Evil Anti-Villain mob boss of The Dresden Files: a young girl was caught in a crossfire during an attempted assassination, and took a bullet meant for Marcone. She's now in a coma as an anonymous Jane Doe, her parents think she's dead, and Marcone has done everything from pour billions of dollars down the drain to stealing the freaking Shroud of Turin to attempt to heal her.
  • From the books of Dale Brown, Patrick McLanahan's little brother almost getting killed is what gets him started on a vigilante quest using the titular Powered Armor of The Tin Man. Eventually, both his wife and brother get killed.
  • Elizabeth March aka Beth of Little Women actually becomes this, based on the author's own Dead Little Sister.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, Sandor Clegane's little sister's death at the hands of their own older brother, Complete Monster Gregor is part of the scarring childhood that created the cynical persona the reader meets. Also, Eddard "Ned" Stark has a good dose of this; while he never became a cynic after Lyanna's death, the man does know how to angst.
    • Don't forget Oberyn and Doran Martell, who want revenge on the Lannisters for the brutal rape and murder of their sister Elia. It's clear that Elia's death had a big effect on both of them, but particularly Oberyn, since he matured quite a bit afterward.
  • In The Hunger Games, at first, averted, in that Katniss, whose sister was just picked to be a Tribute, volunteers to go instead. Played straight in Mockingjay.
  • The death of her sister Estelle was the defining moment of the life of Honor Harrington character Eloise Pritchart.
  • In The Stormlight Archive, Kaladin's long, woobifying disillusionment peaks with his younger brother being killed after being used as Cannon Fodder in a war.
  • A biographical example would be Laura Ingalls Wilder's younger brother Charles Frederick Ingalls--Freddy. He died of an unknown ailment at 9 months old in August of 1876. This was apparently so painful to write about that she ommits him and the entire time period of his life from the "Little House" book series. Many are unaware that Laura even had a baby brother.
  • This is common in Time Scout, what with the global devastation following The Accident. Margo lost a twin, Malcolm lost a younger brother.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: Barbara Rutledge is this for Myra Rutledge and Nikki Quinn, who both witnessed her death at the hands of a drunk hit-and-run driver who used Diplomatic Impunity. However, Barbara returns as a ghost from the afterlife from time to time. Alan, Kathryn Lucas's dead husband, is this for Kathryn.
  • The infestation of Jake's parents and his failed attempt to rescue them at the end of Animorphs probably fits this trope.
  • Jeff Winston's lost daughter in Replay
  • In The Purple Widow, Glen O'Brian, a servant at the palace of Tommikia, reveals that his two younger sisters (along with his mother) were burned at the stake for trying to escape imprisonment for false charges. Why, why is it always Glen?
  • Asher has a dead older sister in Someone Elses War, who was shot to death when the two of them tried to escape the LRA. The memory of her violent death prevents Asher from making a second escape attempt until Matteo comes along.


Live-Action TV Edit

  • The original Dark Shadows has Sarah Collins as the motivation for at least some of Barnabas' angst.
  • The X-Files does this, with Mulder's little sister's disappearance providing probably the biggest motive for a large portion of his adult life and career.
  • Sgt Maritza Cruz from Third Watch had a younger, drug-addicted sister named Lettie, who died of an overdose -- which caused Maritza to bend the rules even more than she usually did in order to find the dealer.
  • One episode of This Is Wonderland featured a man trying to get sent to a federal prison so that he could kill the man responsible for the death of his father and brother, but not his sister, who was still alive.
  • Supernatural:
    • Mary Winchester was this for Sam and Dean's father John, only John went a lot more off the rails than Sam later did, probably because Dean was only four and not available to do the same level of stabilizing. (Time travel shows John used to be as clean-cut and youthful as Sam in the pilot--more so, actually, even after Vietnam.)
    • Sam's Disposable Woman girlfriend Jessica Moore who gets offed in the pilot functions like a less intense variant of this, and the FBI, who believe the boys are serial killers, interpret it as being this straight.
    • When Sam, Dean's little brother dies (he obviously gets better; he's the other main character) this is the event that pushes Dean over the edge to make his Suicide-By-Sacrifice Deal with the Devil at the end of Season Two. When Sam's alive, Dean also tends toward Knight Templar Big Brother, although he is the hero.
    • The two several-month periods Sam spends attempting to resurrect and/or avenge his big brother, in 'Mystery Spot' and the season break before 'Lazarus Rising,' see him become Darker and Edgier to the point of Blood Knight. He never actually makes a Face Heel Turn, but he does start to tolerate a hell of a lot of collateral damage, and then commits the cardinal sin that unmakes any Anti-Hero: he was wrong.
    • There's also Gordon, with a nasty twist; he tells Dean about how he became a vampire hunter after they got his little sister - only to later reveal that they had turned (not murdered) her, and it was him who tracked her down and killed her.
  • The first episode of Angel featuring Gunn (Charles Gunn) had his little sister become a vampire, forcing him to kill her. Apparently (see above entry) this frequently happens to The Black Guy.
    • Holtz's daughter was similarly turned, forcing Holtz to kill her.
    • Also, in an inverted example is Angel himself. One of the first things he did after being turned into a vampire was return home and murder his little sister. Well, after terrorizing the town a little, but she still trusted her brother Liam enough to let him in. Oddly, despite having clearly been rather close with her, Angel displays no issues one way or the other regarding little girls.
  • In NCIS Ziva says that she was revenge-driven and cold for a long time after her little sister Tali was killed in a Hamas suicide bombing. However, she denies Tony's allegation that this is why she joined Mossad.
  • In Star Trek: Enterprise engineer 'Trip' Tucker's sister was killed in the Xindi attack on Earth. This affects his behaviour throughout the season three 'war arc', most notably in "The Forgotten".
  • A flashback scene in Battlestar Galactica Reimagined's Razor shows Cain's sister was taken by Cylons moments before the end of the First Cylon War. The fact that Admiral Cain keeps a folding knife she acquired during this incident shows it was a prime motive for her ruthless actions in the 'present day'.
  • On Heroes, a Dead Little Sister is revealed to be the motive behind Angela Petrelli and The Company, and all the dickishness they've caused throughout the show.
    • Turns out she's not dead. Hover the cursor over the end of the previous sentence to find out what really became of her.
  • The motive for ER's's Dr. John Carter's whole career was the death of his younger brother due to leukemia.
    • Similarly, Kayla from Strong Medicine became a doctor because of her dead little brother, who was shot and bled to death in her arms. And apparently, also for her mentally unbalanced younger twin sister
  • Josh Lyman from The West Wing has a dead older sister named Joanie, who died in a fire while she was babysitting him. Josh feels unspeakably guilty about the fact that he ran out of the house and left her behind, even though he was only six or seven at the time.
  • Torchwood's Jack Harkness had a tortured little brother. He thought he was responsible for this, having let go of his brother's hand while running way from the creatures who tortured him; and (or so we were told) angsted over it ever since.
  • Fiona of Burn Notice has a dead little sister, Claire, whose killing at the hands of a British soldier caused Fi to join the IRA. This continues, sometimes subtly, to inform her actions.
  • Leverage has Nate Ford, whose son died when the insurance company he worked for refused to pay for the treatment that could have saved him. This led to Nate quitting his job, divorcing his wife and becoming an alcoholic.
  • Johnny Mc Hale, a character from the third season Criminal Minds episode "True Night," took this trope to the negative extreme. His moment involves the gang rape and murder of his beloved fiancee, Vickie, the contingent murder of their unborn child, and his own near-fatal wounding at the hands of members of the 23rd Street Killers, a street gang. He suffers a psychotic break and becomes a murdering vigilante intent on exacting his revenge on the 23rd Street Killers, though his memories of these actions remain foggy until he is confronted with them by the FBI team. When Rossi comments that his survival was a miracle, implying that he should be thankful to be alive (a twist on the "This isn't what she would have wanted!" exhortation), Johnny responds by screaming, "You think living was a MIRACLE?" He ends up incarcerated in a mental institution where he spends his days drawing pictures of his dead fiancee and calling her cellphone just to hear her voice on her voicemail message.
    • In one episode of the second season, JJ tells Morgan and Reid about how her childhood fear of the woods stemmed from finding the body of someone at a summer camp she worked at as a teenager. Turns out she was just messing with them and there was no real reason.
  • On Nikita, the murder of a rogue Division agent's girlfriend drives him to attempt to kill, Percy, Division's leader. This forces Nikita to have to stop him, as Percy has set up several "little black boxes" filled with sensitive information that would bring down the U.S. government, set to be automatically released in the event of his death.
    • This trope is what leads to Michael being recruited to Division in the first place; his wife and child were killed in a car bomb meant for him, and Percy promised to help him track down the man responsible. Nikita is the one who eventually helps Michael get revenge, and it is that plus Percy's lies that lead to Michael's eventual defection to Nikita by the end of season 1.
  • In Flashpoint, it was revealed that Sam had a sister who died in a car accident when he was young. When doing a mission, he froze when he saw a dead woman lying on the ground without her shoes, which triggered memories of his sister who had died in a similar position.
  • In a The Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV movie, "The Fifteen Years Later Affair," we learn that Illya Kuryakin left UNCLE after a betrayal by a double agent led to the death of the Innocent (a young woman) during a mission in Yugoslavia. When Napoleon Solo alludes to this while attempting to persuade Illya to come out of retirement, Illya punches Napoleon in the face.
  • Annie, Kirby's dead girlfriend in the Masters of Horror episode "Cigarette Burns". She killed herself for reasons that are never quite explained, but her copious drug abuse seemed to have sent her in a downward spiral.


Mythology Edit

  • Sayadio in the Iroquois myth of Sayadio was motivated to rescue his sister from the spirit world by this trope.


Tabletop Games Edit

  • George Weathermay, one of the Ravenloft setting's greatest werebeast hunters, began a downward spiral into self-recrimination and depression when he brought his new fiancee home to meet the family, only to have her reveal herself as a lycanthrope and attack his young nieces. Neither girl died, but he blames himself and is now obsessed with tracking down and destroying this treacherous werewolf, whom he fears may have infected one of the twins with lycanthropy.
  • The creators of Penny Arcade and PVP, along with Wil Wheaton, form the D&D gaming group "Acquisitions Incorporated", featured in several podcasts available from Wizards of the Coast. At a live gaming session at PAX 2010 for this group, Jerry Holkins of Penny Arcade invoked this trope for his cleric, Omin Dran, when all characters were required by a magic ritual to reveal a hidden secret about themselves.


Video Games Edit

  • In Fantasia - Requiem of the Abyss, Nazim has Farah, a little sister he had failed to protect during the war.
  • In The World Ends With You, the player is introduced to a pair of players named Beat (the older and... slower one) and Rhyme (his younger female partner, who does all the thinking). Rhyme gets erased by Uzuki's Noise, and Beat briefly joins The Dark Side. It gets worse - Rhyme is actually Beat's kid sister, and it's his fault they were in the Reaper's Game to begin with - one day, she ran out of the house after they got in a fight, and ended up in front of an oncoming car. Beat dove into the street to protect her... and both of them were killed. In other words, Beat has double the guilt.
    • Triple, if you remember that the only reason Rhyme was out in that street is because she was chasing after Beat, who had stormed out of the house.
      • The reason he stormed out of the house was because he got into a fight with his parents, not Rhyme.
    • It's also implied that Neku's refusal to open up is because his best friend died. Granted, this comes from the non-canonical "Another Day" sidestory, so take it with a grain of salt.
      • Well... it IS canonical, just that it occurs in another parallel world. The main story's Joshua and Hanekoma are present, after all, so perhaps the real world's Neku had the same close friend, as well.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Delita starts out as Ramza's trusted companion. But when his little sister Tietra is killed in cold blood by an arrogant, uncaring noble in his own party who sees "lesser" people as tools, he goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the very society that allowed this situation to unfold. He therefore joins up with the Corrupt Church's Ancient Conspiracy, becomes a Mysterious Protector to a candidate to the throne, deftly manipulates, outwits, or murders any threat to his plans, and ultimately proves to be a self-serving Villain with Good Publicity who sees everyone around him (even his former best friend) as a tool to become the undisputed King of Ivalice.
    • Wiegraf deconstructs the trope. As commander of the Corpse Brigade, he used to have enough honor to wish for the well-being of the troops drafted from commoners and peasants, and only campaigned for proper reparations for those left to rot by the nobles after the war. When he catches word of the death of his sister Milleuda, he loses his mind and seeks power at all costs in order to claim his revenge. But when Ramza later confronts him whether Milleuda would have wanted him to (literally) sell his soul, he says he has already moved past caring.
  • Maria Robotnik for Shadow in both Sonic Adventure 2 and his namesake game, as well as Sonic X, which contains an adaptation of the former.
  • Eternal Sonata's Polka was inspired by Chopin's real life Dead Little Sister. In game, he mentions that Polka reminds him of his sister.
  • Final Fantasy VI does a bunch of this with Cyan, who was unable to save his wife and son in the siege of Doma. After an initial fit of berserker rage, he swears vengeance against Kefka for robbing him of his family. His latent guilt over the loss causes a Heroic BSOD later in the game, when the heroes must journey into Cyan's subconscious to slay his psychological demons, who turn out to be the Three Stooges.
  • Final Fantasy VII vaguely subverts this, with Cloud's guilt over failing to save Zack, and then Aerith inspiring him more than once to complete inaction. Only an encouraging farewell from the two deceased characters at the end of Advent Children seems to have lifted this off his shoulders.
    • Vincent Valentine suffers from a similarly grim backstory with regards to Lucrecia, though his response is the melancholic Goth to Cloud's Emo, and there's an element of the above 'critical of the main hero's inability' to the two of them.
    • Subverted rather cruelly in the online mode of Dirge of Cerberus. The main character is driven to sacrifice herself to destroy the Restrictor on the basis of memories of her little sister being cruelly murdered, only for Shelke to tell her corpse that she never had a sister; it was an implanted memory to get her to remove the Tsviets' captor so they could go on to try to bring about the end of the world.
      • In the same game, the trope is inverted by Shelke, for whom the sacrifice of her older sister is the inspiration for her to join the good guys and become Vincent's Mission Control.
  • Wakka from Final Fantasy X has a dead little brother named Chappu, who was in a relationship with Lulu. He joined the Crusaders, who were all excommunicated for using outlawed technology in their fight against Sin, but died in his first battle. He blames his death on the Crusaders' use of forbidden weapons, and as a result becomes an almost fanatical follower of the religious laws and doesn't tollerate any challanges of the faith of Yevon. Lulu goes in the opposite direction and becomes deeply cynical, accusing Wakka of refusing to accept Chappu's death by blaming it on the evil nature of technology.
  • In Final Fantasy XIII, most of the early plot revolves around the question if said sister is actually dead or if she can still be brought back.
  • In Suikoden II, one of the reasons for Luca Blight's constant sociopathic Unstoppable Rage is due to the fact that when he was a child, he and his mother were kidnapped by mercenaries, who forced him to watch as his mother was raped repeatedly in front of him and later died giving birth to his half-sister Jillia. When he found out that said mercenaries were hired by Muse, he developed a profound, murderous hatred towards them and to his father, Agares, who cowardly fled when his family was attacked.
    • In Suikoden V, the Godwins have Rosalind, a dead mother and wife to Gizel and Marscal, respectively. She was assassinated during a civil war between Falzrahm and Shahrewar over who would take the crown, and Gizel decides to make Falena a strong nation -- under his rule -- to prevent any more tragedies. As part of driving toward that goal, he reassembles the same organization that killed his mother -- but under his control, so that makes it okay.
    • The Barows have their own example in Hiram, Euram and Luserina's older brother, who also got assassinated by Nether Gate during the same civil war. Their mother was bedridden afterwards, and it's implied that Euram's loutish behavior grew far worse following his brother's death, as he became heir apparent in his place.
  • The heavy amount of angst that the title character of Max Payne carries with him is a direct result of the murder of his wife and baby girl three years ago by junkies hopped up on the designer drug Valkyr, and was the reason that he joined the DEA in order to root out the source of the drug.
    • And it only piles up with the rising bodycount. Some of the later plot points rely on it.
  • Martel in Tales of Symphonia, of the 'her younger sibling turned evil following her death' variety. Intriguingly, her fiancée went the other way and started opposing her brother following her death, realizing fully well that the insanity that resulted was definitively not what she would have wanted.
    • Also, the death of Alicia, Regal's fiancée, who he killed after she was mutated into a monster and begged him to kill her caused Regal to become The Atoner to the n-th degree. He eventually makes peace with her ghost, who is in a position to tell him that she didn't want him to torture himself in that manner personally. He keeps torturing himself, though. At least until the Big Bad is taken down, in which he's fulfilled his promise to atone for his crime.
    • Similarly to Regal, Kratos being forced to kill his wife Anna, along with the assumed death of his son Lloyd, caused him to lose all hope in creating a better world on his own and return to Mithos and Cruxis.
    • Gender Flipped in Tales of Destiny 2. Nanaly Fletch has a Dead Little Brother.
    • Played straight in Tales of Phantasia. Chester loses his sister 5 minutes into the start of the game.
  • Prince Janus of the Kingdom of Zeal in Chrono Trigger, better known as Magus, was a moody little boy until he got catapulted into the future and, more importantly, lost his older sister Schala in time. Everything he did since -- ruling the Fiends, declaring war on Guardia, summoning Lavos, disguising himself as a prophet (complete with future knowledge) when he ended up back in Zeal as an adult, even joining the heroes (if you let him) -- he did in hopes of getting her back. At the end of the game, he's still looking.
    • Perhaps even more tragically, in the sequel, it's Serge who eventually finds her and frees her from the darkness beyond time, causing her to apparently be reborn in our world, where Janus will likely never find her.
      • Worse yet in the DS Remake is the fact that Schala herself tells Magus to give up his quest to save her for his own good. She then promptly teleports the crew back into their own times and sends her brother off. Magus is left bewildered over his purpose, leaving his memories erased in the end.
        • The Radical Dreamers music montage over the credits isn't intended as a literal representation. Indeed, at the very end, Kid stands on Opassa Beach, in a radically (sorry) different outfit, implying that she grew up in the Chrono Trigger world where Lucca never died.
  • Subversion: Akihiko Sanada from Persona 3. Instead of causing him to sink into despair, the death of his sister spurred him on to fight harder to protect others -- or, in his own words, to "become strong enough to do what is right."
    • Persona 3 Portable puts a very different spin on this if you play as a female main character. Akihiko is motivated to become stronger not simply to save others, but to avoid feeling the pain of being powerless to save someone who is precious to him. His social link halts when he senses the heroine is becoming too important to him, because as he later explains after some character development, it was easier to not let things become too important than to risk losing them. But after said character development, his motivation shifts from pain avoidance to a true desire to protect the people he cares about.
  • Played with in Persona 4. Nanako's death inspires the party to attempt to get revenge on Taro Nametame, turning their backs on their normally cheery, happy-go-lucky attitude towards the investigation. If the party lets Nanako's death get the better of them, she stays dead and the player gets the bad ending.
  • Persona 2 has a bit of this around Joker, who accuses Tatsuya of killing their 'big sis'. The 'big sis' is actually Maya Amano, who's been there the whole time. She actually escaped the fire. Oh, and Tatsuya was the one who wanted to SAVE her. Hell, it has a LOT of this with Tatsuya. When Maya DOES die, Tatsuya fucks up an entire WORLD because of it. And then he has to remember everything to keep her from dying again. Sucks to be him, right?
  • Gorrister from the adventure game adaptation of I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream is suicidal because he feels responsible for driving his wife insane. Once he realizes that it's not entirely his fault, he is freed of his guilt and gets the strength to beat AM at his own game.
  • Parasite Eve. The protagonist Aya, after the death of her mother and sister in a car accident when Aya was young, inspired her to grow up and become an NYPD detective.
  • Animamundi: Dark Alchemist had its Villain Protagonist Dr. Zaberisk make a deal with Mephistopheles after the ungrateful villagers beheaded his very naive sister for supposedly having a book of witch recipes. This sent him on a series of mass-murders and horrible experiments to try to save her.
    • Ironically enough, she was indeed a dark sorceress. It's revealed in the end game that she sold her soul to the very same devil to save her brother several years back.
  • Micaiah of Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn has a dead king. That she killed. In order to free their country from the Deal with the Devil he made. Except it turns out the king's sacrifice is useless.
    • Also, Cormag from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones has a dead older brother, Glen.
    • Alvis in Fire Emblem: Genealogy of the Holy War, technically has this with Deirdre, though he obviously never saw her as such. A subversion would be Tiltyu and Blume; he was unable to prevent her death from a broken heart through his wife's emotional abuses, but on the other hand he didn't even try. Finally, Ethlin becomes this to Sigurd after Thracia's massacre of Lenster's troops in the Yied Desert.
  • James Sunderland from Silent Hill 2, whose wife Mary passed away three years ago, supposedly receives a letter from her which beckons him to come to the town of Silent Hill. There he meets Maria, who looks just like Mary. He fails to save her from being killed by Pyramid Head in the hospital, but she is later brought Back From the Dead only to be killed again two more times. After her third death, James finally admits that he was weak and needed Pyramid Head to punish him for his sins. The Final Boss is a demon manifesting as either Mary or Maria, depending on how the game is played. It turns out that Mary has only been dead for a week or so.
  • Silent Hill 3 has Heather avenging Harry's death after he is Stuffed Into the Fridge halfway through the game.
  • Rogue Ops: Nikki's dead husband and son.
  • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker features this trope. Link starts out on his adventure in order to rescue his sister, who's been kidnapped by a gigantic bird which ends up being Ganondorf's pet. Not exactly a "Dead" Little Sister story, but it falls in the same category.
    • It should be noted that this Link is a major case of a Knight Templar Big Brother, which causes him to react to a kidnapping of his sister pretty much the same way a "regular person" would react to her death.
  • Hal Emmerich's motive for infiltrating the Big Shell in Metal Gear Solid 2 is to rescue his stepsister Emma, who is one of the hostages. Naturally, her death at the hands of Vamp is the cause of Hal's grudge towards Vamp in Metal Gear Solid 4.
      • Not just double, but tripple inverted in Metal Gear Solid with Gray Fox. Not only is he the brother of Naomi and older than her, he's also not as dead as everyone had thought. His almost killing by Solid Snake and the experiments made on him by the Patriots are the reason Naomi joins Ocelot and infiltrates FOXHOUND.
  • The entire plot of the Japanese visual novel Kana: Little Sister is based around the possibility of this event due to the title character having a serious illness. In all but one of the endings, she dies. The other one is awful for other reasons.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, Welkin's little sister Isara is shot down completely out of nowhere, just as she was about to befriend Rosie, who had been racist towards her the entire game. In fact, oddly enough, he seems to be the least affected by it all. If anything, it's Rosie who was the most devastated, considering her tear jerking funeral song, not to mention that she visits her grave yearly, unlike a certain brother. At least he named his daughter after her.
  • In the back story of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, the death of Carl Johnson's little brother Brian is what causes him to run away from home and live in Liberty City. Ironically enough, it's the death of his mother that brings him back to San Andreas to begin the plot.
  • Asbel in Tales of Graces gets one in the form of Sophie, the heroine, who later turns out to be not quite dead, since she can't die until she completely destroys Lambda.
  • Ragna the Bloodedge, the protagonist of the Blaz Blue series seems to have one of these Until it's revealed at the end of the second game that she's not only quite alive, but the de facto ruler of the game's Crapsack World and the real big bad. A brutal subversion, huh?
  • In the backstory to the Warcraft universe, Bigger Bad Sargeras was originally the greatest champion of Good, until the existence of demons caused an ideological crisis that eventually drove him insane. This contradicts the story in World of Warcraft, but that's just another reason that the latter isn't part of the Warcraft universe.
  • Prior to the events of Silent Hill Homecoming, the death of Alex Shepherd's little brother caused him to snap and be institutionalized, the real reason why he was in the hospital. One of the endings reveals that he is still institutionalized and the game events were All Just a Dream.
  • In Avalon Code, Rex, your Best Friend, had his little sister that fits this trope. Sadly, she was killed along with Rex's mother and father when the country that he was an ambassator to killed them. Not only that, he also lost his home and Social Class due to this. He meets up withKullervo in order to return her to life, but It Got Worse.
  • Trish Daily has one in In Famous and her name is Amy. The reason she died? Cole activated the Ray Sphere in the beginning. If you play the game in good alignment, Trish would forgive him for it.
  • In the Left 4 Dead connector comic "The Passing" it is revealed that Zoey was forced to shoot her own father. Later, it is revealed that his DNA was responsible for keeping Zoey alive, and he died in vain. Fortunately, she's got too much on her plate right now to be all mopey about it.
  • In Dragon Age II, depending on how Hawke is played, personality wise, this can be played straight, Averted Trope or Invoked Trope, both from the beginning what with Bethany or Carver dying in the prologue, and the Deep Roads expedition leading to your other sibling dying, becoming a Grey Warden or joining the Circle/Templars and All That Remains in Act II where your mother dies. Even without taking into account the other things that can occur to Hawke and companions throughout the game, is it any wonder an otherwise helpful and heroic, or wisecracking and jovial Hawke can become an angry cynic over the course of the game.
    • Several of Hawke's companions have their own. Aveline has her husband Wesley, whom either she or Hawke kills in the prologue to save him from the darkspawn taint. Anders has Karl, his ex-lover, who was made Tranquil by the Templars. Sebastian has his entire family, who were murdered by hired thugs and eventually his mentor Grand Cleric Elthina, whose murder reawakens his lust for vengeance. Varric has his older brother Bartrand, who betrays him and whom he's forced to kill. Merrill eventually has her mentor, Keeper Marethari, who dies protecting her, as well as potentially her whole clan.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas, Raul Tejada's little sister Rafaela was killed (and likely worse) by raiders while trying to scavenge for supplies for her brother (then undergoing radiation sickness/ghoulification) centuries ago. Later on in his life he had a Replacement Goldfish that was also killed. However the player, through talking with him and taking him to see various other NPCs can encourage him to pick up his guns and become a Vaquero once again.
    • Also if you think about it, young femal Couriers might possibly serve as another substitute for Rafaela, especially if they're Hispanic.
  • Tekken 6, Miguel's reason to join the King of Iron Fist Tournament is to avenge his sister, who's killed by Jin Kazama's bombers in the intro.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 3: Lair of the Leviathan, we learn from Coronado De Cava that Morgan LeFlay was recently devastated by the death of her Uncle Jugbender, and was probably seeking Revenge on someone who killed him, as described by her mumble in her sleep: "THIS is for JUGBENDER!"
  • In Lusternia, the death of Amberle drives Meridian to spearhead the war against the Soulless Gods. Doubling the woe, Amberle is both his Dead Little Sister and dead Love Interest (the Gods have no taboo against incest, being sterile). His reaction to his failure to protect her is gut-wrenching.

  Meridian was the most changed of us all, I think, with the loss of Amberle. He became hard and spent much of his time with the Second Circle, seeking battles wherever he could. The hamadhi said his spirit would heal in time. It was heartbreaking seeing him wandering the beaches and staring out into the oceans, whispering Amberle's name over and over.

  • Natasha from Rusty Hearts is in the fight against Vlad because her brother was lost in an attack.
  • Artina for Valvatorez in Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. However, rather than disillusioning him and driving him to cynicism, Artina's death (and his failure to take him promise to protect her seriously) instead drilled into him a notion that vows should never, ever be broken.


Visual Novels Edit

  • Sayuri in Kanon has a dead little brother that shaped her into a lonely girl that refused to admit that everything was not all right. It even changed the way she talked.
    • Kaori treats her Ill Girl sister Shiori as if she never existed, as a way to avoid the pain of her eventual death. She gets better.
  • In Clannad, with Yukine, but this time it's the older brother who's dead.


Web Comics Edit

  • The Wotch: It is strongly implied that Miranda West's distance is because she blames herself for her friends' deaths.
  • Roy Greenhilt has a dead little brother named Eric. It's implied that Eugene was responsible, though Roy blames himself to a certain degree. His comment on Eric's love of music and potential future as a bard may also provide insight on his relationship with Elan.
    • Elan himself seems to regard Therkla (who was poisoned and died in his arms) this way. E.g. he used one of his spells learned on Neutralize Poison despite having more generally useful spells available to him at that level-up.
    • Redcloak, the Anti-Villain, is revealed to have one in the prequel book Start of Darkness.
  • Eric is revealed to have one in Venus Envy.
  • Darby has the older brother version in TRU-Life Adventures. Watching how others got hypocritical in response had more of an impact than the actual death, though.
  • Ian set off on his quest to find the elven gods because his older sister was dying and he wanted to find a way to heal her. When he achieves godlike power and returns home to find that she died while he was away, he snaps and blows up a few cities.
  • In Misfile Kamikaze Kate's Backstory is a textbook example of this trope, except it's a Dead Big Sister in her case.
  • In Picatrix, Samael is motivated to exact revenge on the angel of death who took the soul of his twin sister.
  • Clark's sister in Gold Coin Comics.
  • During Homestuck, Rose Lalonde, Dave's sister, is killed by Bec Noir. Dave later fights Bec Noir... and is killed by him. both are revived by John Egbert and Jade Harley respectively.
    • Debatable how much this counts, given that Dave had only known that Rose was his sister for a short time, it is unclear whether he knew that she had died at the time of his fight with Jack, notably lax rules about death in the Homestuck universe and the fact that Dave was casually hunting frogs with Jade, not hunting down Jack.
    • Equally Karkat's reaction to Eridan's murder of Kanaya. She may not have been his sister, but she was still his "really good friend" and upon her "death" he breaks down almost completely.
  • In Powerpuff Girls Doujinshi, Dexter seems to be collecting these. First of all he's got the haunting death of Dee Dee, his literal dead sister (ironically a dead big sister) hanging over him. Then, not long after, he develops a secondary complex involving his guilt over Mandark's death in light of Mandark's own little sister promptly moving to Dexter's school after the loss of her sibling. One way or another, he’s suffering a lot of angst these days.


Web Original Edit

  • In Take a Lemon Marsh seems to regard his little sister Tina as dead, even though she is standing right in front of him, because :her memories were apparently altered by the experiment.
    • Later in the story, Marsh finds out that his favorite cousin is now Ret-Gone due to the same experiment, leading to a Heroic BSOD.
  • In Spoilsbury Toast Boy, Toast Boy's sister, Liache, is drowned by the beetles because they felt she didn't deserve to breathe. Her mucus told them this.


Western Animation Edit

  • The Justice Lords are revealed to have started falling off the slippery slope after their Flash was murdered.
  • Darkwing Duck: An alternate timeline in "Time and Punishment" showed Darkwing Jumping Off the Slippery Slope as the "crime fighter" Darkwarrior Duck when Gosalyn disappeared.
  • Batman the Brave And The Bold has Aquaman getting very depressed over a whale he failed to save.
  • Legion of Super Heroes turns Ayla, aka Lightning Lass, into a literal example: instead of gaining awesome lightning powers when her brothers Garth and Mekt do like she did in the comics, she's vaporized, pushing the brothers into their guilt-driven Cain and Abel complex. Ultimately Mekt makes a Heel Face Turn when she turns up Not Quite Dead.
  • When Scarface murdered Dreamer, the youngest daughter of Fox and Vixen, in Animals of Farthing Wood, this led not just to the feud between the red and blue foxes, but also resulted in Bold, their eldest, attempting to hunt him down when he got old enough.
  • A gender-reversed version of this trope appears in Shadow Raiders. Graveheart's younger brother perished in a raid Graveheart was leading against Planet Fire for energy; this explicitly caused him to renounce his position in the elite Quarriors and become a simple miner instead, and is implied to be the reason why he is so keen on the idea of peaceful trading replacing the former raid-based interactions between the worlds.
  • Sitka, Kenai's late older brother from Brother Bear. At the very beginning of the film, he makes a Heroic Sacrifice to save his brothers from an angry grizzly bear, and as revenge for his death, Kenai goes after said bear and kills her. Sitka's ghost eventually punishes his brother by turning him into a bear himself, and at the end of the film, it's revealed that the bear Kenai killed was actually Koda's mother.
  • Iroh and his son Lu Ten could be considered an inversion (similar to Dumbledore and Ariana). Iroh was one of the Fire Nation's most feared generals until Lu Ten died in his legendary siege of Ba Sing Se, at which point Iroh abandoned the siege and had his experience in the spirit world. By the time the show actually starts, he puts the "cool" in Cool Old Guy, is the grandmaster of a secret, international society of fellow awesome old people, and is clearly only sticking with the Fire Nation army so he can give Zuko an alternate role model to Ozai.
  • On Young Justice, Harm could be seen as a twisted invocation of this trope--he killed his own little sister because he recognized that she was the only person he loved, and needed to rid himself of her in order to become "pure." It would be wrong, however, to say that he managed to exorcise all feeling for her.
  • In Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme, Strange has a literal Dead Little Sister named April, who died of a mysterious ailment despite Strange himself performing surgery on her.


Real Life Edit

  • Charles Darwin's response to the death of his daughter (according to Charles and Emma).
  • Older Than Feudalism: Drusilla, Roman emperor Caligula's favorite sister.
  • The death of Oscar Wilde's little sister Isola was reportedly a major catalyst for much of his darker literature, including his poem for her, "Requiescat".
  • George W. Bush has a literal dead little sister, Robin, who died of leukemia when he was a little kid. His parents played golf the next day and her name was never mentioned in the household again. The fact that this may have contributed to his decades of addiction has been brought up.
    • Maybe not in the household, but they do sometimes bring her up for the PR. The Barbara Bush library in Texas has a statue of Robin in the entrance with a dedication supposedly written by her older brother.
  • John Fitzgerald Kennedy had his dead older brother Joseph, who died in World War Two. Not to mention, both he and Joseph Jr. were Dead Older Brothers to Bobby and Ted, and sadly, JFK, RFK, and Joe Jr. all were Dead Older Brothers to Ted, the only one who lived a full life.
    • JFK's two sons, Patrick (dead two days after his birth) and John Jr. (dead in a plane crash) are dead younger brothers to his only surviving child, his daughter Caroline.
    • The Kennedy Family's involvement in the Special Olympics is inspired by (or perhaps penance for) the fate of JKR's sister Rosemary, who was lobotomized and then kept locked in an asylum as a young adult because Joseph Kennedy Sr. was flimflammed into thinking it was a good way to deal with a willful daughter by celebrity lobotomist Walter Freeman.
  • Samuel Clemens lost his younger brother Henry in a boiler explosion on the steamboat that he piloted, and was guilt-ridden about it for the rest of his life.
  • Akiyuki Nosaka, author of Grave of the Fireflies wrote it as an apology to his little sister who died of malnutrition in war torn Japan during WWII.
    • Internet rumour has it that she didn't die of malnutrition and that he simply lost her one day and never saw her again. The book (and subsequent anime film) were ways of convincing himself of this.
    • Of course, as Japan's records of the time are terrible at best it' most likely that the story was crossed with one of someone else.
  • Angelica Hamilton, daughter of Alexander Hamilton, suffered a mental breakdown from which she never recovered, after her older brother Philip was killed in a duel.
  • The Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis and his daughter/heiress Christina had a Dead Son and Dead Older Brother, respectively: Alexandre Onassis Livanos, who died in a plane crash (which is a favorite topic aming Conspiracy Theorists) at age 25. Both of his parents crossed the Despair Event Horizon at that: mother Athena Mary Livanos ("Tina") commited suicide, Aristoteles's already decaying health plummeted and he died few months later. Christina outlived everyone for more than a decade, but she didn't have it much easier either.
  • Philip K. Dick had a Dead Little Twin Sister who died when the two were only five weeks old. Being raised as a child with this knowledge (his mother allegedly claimed that the wrong child had died during an argument) the loss haunted PKD throughout his life. The figure of the mysterious, dark-haired and unattainable woman that is prominent in so many of his works (especially "Flow My Tears, the Police Said") is said to based on PKD's imaginings of what his sister would have been like had she lived.
  • Argentinian tennis player Juan Martín del Potro dedicates each of his victories to his older sister, who passed away in an accident when they were young.
  • American beat author Jack Kerouac had an older brother named Gerard who died aged nine when Jack was four. Jack's feelings about this loss show through in many of his books, and one of them, "Visions of Gerard", is all about them.
  • Johnny Cash's older brother Jack died in a lumber mill accident when Johnny aka JR was twelve and Jack was fourteen. This affected Johnny throughout the rest of his life, and Jack Cash is mentioned in the liner notes of his 1996 album "Unchained."
  • The little sister of Evanescence's front singer Amy Lee died when she was three, and the songs Hello and Like You were written about her.
    • Likewise, Backstreet Boys's song "Show me the meaning of being lonely" is dedicated to Howard "Howie D" Dorough's deceased older sister, who perished a year before the song was released; she's represented by the Lady in Red who, in the video, runs towards him and fades away.
  • According to Three Cups of Tea, Greg Mortenson founded the Central Asia Institute to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan after he attempted to climb K2 to fulfill a promise made to his younger sister, Christa, who died at a young age. He ended up ill and stranded in a poor Pakistani village after losing the trail, and after the residents nursed him back to health, he promised to return with the materials to build a school for the children there, which he eventually did.
  • The poet Seamus Heaney lost a younger brother to an automobile accident, and later wrote a gut-wrenching poem about it.
  • As told in Boy: Tales of Childhood, the loss of Roald Dahl's older sister Astri drove his father to Death by Despair when he fell ill with pneumonia.
  • Wyatt Earp vendetta against The Cowboys, following his brother Virgil's permanent injury and Morgan's death. It's known for being retold in the film Tombstone.
  • Back in 2004, UFC middleweight Vitor Belfort's sister Priscila was abducted in Brazil, and for three years he used his fights as a soapbox from which to tell fans about this and solicit information and help, but the distraction due to this contributing to his losses in this time. Unfortunately in 2007 a woman ended up confessing to her murder, though the Belforts didn't initially believe her (fearing rather the possibility of her covering for someone else); nevertheless, it was only after this that his career turned around -- and at his UFC 142: RIO, her face was on his team banner.
  • Musician Eric Clapton's son died in a tragic accident when just a toddler, about which the songs The Circus Left Town and Tears In Heaven were written. Though close, this example subverts the Trope - particularly with Tears In Heaven, Eric rarely plays it in public as he says he has tried to move on from a very sad period in his life and "Doesn't need" the song anymore.