Sansa Stark (Game of Thrones)
Sansa witnessed multiple executions, suffered the loss of every member of her family (as far as she knows, at least) and has been engaged to and/or married to nobody of her own choosing, most recently the sadistic bastard Ramsay Bolton. Her history reads sorta like a superhero origin story, but she's not going to rise up sporting a cape, a mask and wielding an iron sword to take over Weseros. Too bad.
Meredith Grey (Grey's Anatomy)
Being raised by a workaholic mom who developed early onset Alzheimer's and abandoned by her father who left for a new family, the good times kept rolling. Hardworking Meredith fell in love with a married man who she later married, suffered a misscarriage, lost her sister in a terrible plane crash in which she was stranded herself and discovered she has the genetic marker for early Alzheimer's, all this and more before she lost her husband to a terrible car crash before learning she was pregnant with another child she gave birth to after he was dead. Can she finally breathe a little now?
Jesse Pinkman (Breaking Bad)
Jesse is the ultimate poster child for the message that drugs are bad, mmmkay? If he hadn't been estranged from his parents due to drug addiction, he might not have been blackmailed into working with Walter White to cook meth and that could have averted furture kidnappings, murders, beatings, breakups, breakdowns, gunfights and imprisonments by white supremecists. Just say no.
Debra Morgan (Dexter)
Does your mother dying of cancer at an early age and your father committing suicide followed by a turn as a vice cop dressing up as a hooker somehow ensure you're future will be inexplicably intertwined with serial killers? Because Deb Morgan dated and got engaged to one who turned out to be her adopted brother's blood brother, and, oh yeah, her brother is also a serial killer for whom she happened to develop feelings...but she's almost a victim of a third serial killer and gets into an accident after being drugged by another killer who killed her boss to protect her brother. Because WTF...something went very wrong in her life somewhere.
Kelly Taylor (Beverly Hills, 90210)
Much like Meredith Grey, Kelly was raised by problem parents. Her alcoholic, drug-addicted mom and absent felon father did nothing to put her on the straight path, so she went to raves (where she was caught in a fire), ODed on diet pills (who does that?), joined a cult, was held hostage at gunpoint, was addicted to cocaine, tried to kill her friend Kelly, thought she might have AIDs, suffered a miscarriage, got shot, had amnesia, was raped and faced murder charged before watching her mother die. Tough life.
John Locke (Lost)
Locke was rejected his entire life, conned and manipulated by many. He was pushed out of a window and paralyzed, conned out of his kidney to give to a bastard of a father, even his shot at walking again on the mysterious island was cloaked in rejection by the Oceanic Six. He wanted to commit suicide and was saved, only to be murdered later in cold blood. Thanks for nothing, guys!
Jack Bauer (24)
Twenty four hours in the life of Jack Bauer is a lifetime for others. Drug addictions, assassinations, job loss, multiple deaths, trading his own life to save others while never even getting a break to eat a sandwich or drink a cup of coffee, yet always expected to be a deadeye dick with a gun in his hand or to pull the killswitch on the nuclear bomb while knowing his loved one's life is slowly drifting away... Really. It's torturous just thinking about it.
Mark Greene (ER)
A lot of Mark Greene's problems resulted from his profession, such as accidently killing a patient, being attacked in the ER men's room, and almost losing his wife and daughter when a parent went on a killing rampage, but he was also divorced, told his was a mistake (from his parents), then watched said parents slowly die and eventually sicken and die himself from brain cancer. Ooof.
Elena Gilbert (The Vampire Diaries)
Car crashes, fires, vampire kidnappings, multiple deaths, murders, curses. Where does one start with Elena Gilbert? People die and sometimes they stay dead (her parents, her aunt), but other times they come back to life (her boyfriend, brother and best friend, among others). She has been turned into a vampire against her will, turned off her humanity to deal with pain, been tortured and shown a human life she could never have and been turned human only to have that human life stolen and put asunder into a friggin' coma until her best friend dies so she can again life. That's the Cliff Notes version. Add doppleganger(s), brain hemmorages, and countless other misfortunes and you have to wonder why she'd want to come back. I mean, WTF?
Kenny McCormick (South Park)
Other than the fact the poor dude wears a hood pulled so tight his eyes have to be permanently crossed and his little cartoon lips blue, his only point, essentially, is to die. A million, unending deaths. And he always comes back. You bastards!
Andy Sipowicz (NYPD Blue)
Another poor bastard raised by an alcoholic father, as his mother was killed during a robbery. He himself was a divorced alcoholic, estranged from his son who was later shot and killed. Lost one partner to heart failure and another to a mob hitman. He was shot six times in an ambush, and don't even ask about his second wife or his sister. Dead. Of course.
Tara Thornton (True Blood)
Hey!! Raised by an alcoholic!! Ding, ding, ding, ding! Mom was also an abusive bitch who neglected her. Tara fell prey to the maenad and lost her murderous boyfriend. She attempted suicide, was kidnapped and nearly killed by a maniacal vamp, murdered, turned into a vamp and eventually killed by a herd of them very abruptly. Confusing, but depressing as hell.
Wesley Wyndam-Pryce (Angel)
Once a pompous, comic figure, a string of misfortunes turned Wesley tragic. He tried to kill someone he loved, nearly died, was abandoned by all, witnessed two loves die, was an alcoholic and died fighting a demon – literally, not figuratively.
Toby Flenderson (The Office)
Toby was the ultimate sad sack. He liked everyone, and nobody liked him back. Once in the seminary, he quit to marry the woman he'd later painfully divorce. Michael despised him and gave him a rock when he quit to go to Costa Rica, a short-lived happiness that ended when he suffered a zip lining accident and returned to work.
Theon Greyjoy (Game of Thrones)
Theon was once a wanna badass, even thinking he was capable of killing little boys. But he really wasn't even so good at that, and his sister was more the man of the family. Further crapping upon his already terrible life, he was taken and tortured by the other piece of crap that is Ramsay Bolton. With his penis removed and covered in crap, literally, Theon became Reek, and there is really little point to be living beyond that phrase.
George Costanza (Seinfeld)
George Costanza spent the entirety of Seinfeld hoping for the equivalent of winning the lotto. Like everyman, he was always hoping there would be a windfall for doing as little as possible. Essentially, George was a loser. He had close calls, like the time he got a job as a hand model. But he always screwed them up by being an ass. If he hadn't been making fun of Jerry wearing a puffy shirt, Elaine wouldn't have pushed him, allowing him to burn his hand on an iron, putting an end to his hand modeling career. Hey, he wasn't raised by an alcoholic, turned into a vampire or castrated, but this is probably closer to the real world and easier to understand than many of these tragic lives!
Al Bundy (Married with Children)
Al Bundy hated his life, which took a downward turn after high school when marriage and a broken leg kept him from playing football. He even believed there was a curse, the Bundy Curse, that would keep anyone with Bundy blood from truly finding happiness. A minimum-wage earning shoe salesman with a spendthrift for a wife, Al brought a lot of his problems upon himself, but much like George Costanza, that's what makes him so tragic. It's easy to imagine yourself in his shoes (pun intended).
Alison Parker (Melrose Place)
Alison was an alcoholic (ding!), who cleaned up her act and wanted a child, but suffered a miscarriage and later was turned down due to her history. Her husband was killed on their honeymoon, she once went blind after being in an explosion (thank Kimberly), and her ex-boyfriend committed suicide while on the phone with her. Drinking seems like the least of her problems.
You'd think winning the lottery would be awesome. You'd be wrong. He only won after being in a mental institution after a couple friends died. The worse his luck got, the higher his net worth. That should tell you something. Then he was on a very unfortunate plane crash. Even when he fell in love on the island, the love of his life was murdered in the hatch.
A really good guy who gets a bit of pleasure out of torturing people and cutting them up, Huck proves that being in the spy business isn't always as glamorous as it looks on TV and that keeping your family together isn't as easy as it looks on The Americans. Is it finally his time to walk in the sun?
Stiles (Teen Wolf)
Stiles is one of the lone humans in Beacon Hills. As such, he's the fodder for supernatural beings when it comes to possession and such. Hello Nogitsune! You need the guy everyone will care about to attempt to torture and consume? That's Stiles. Essentially, he's stronger than the Alpha, but will willingly allow said Alpha to take all the credit for saving the day.
Deacon Claybourne (Nashville)
Deacon’s an alcoholic (ding!) who had the misfortune to be mistrusted due to said alcoholism at the time of his girlfriend's pregnancy with his baby. Unluckily for him, she kept his fatherhood a secret for 13 years, the very thing that pushed him off the wagon again when he learned the truth. Now that he finally has his life back on track, including a successful career again as well as a lovely daughter to love, he has CANCER and is on the brink of death. Great.
Edith Crawley (Downton Abbey)
Edith is the middle child. She's not the smart one or the pretty one. She didn't even have the foresight to die first so she could be remembered fondly. Instead, everything she does is frowned upon. After one failed wedding, she fell in love with a married man, got pregnant and he was killed in Germany. She had to give up her kid and pretend it wasn't hers, for a while, anyway. When she did finally adopt her own child, she was welcomed by her family with all the warmth of a wet blanket.
Dean Winchester (Supernatural)
Honestly, it's a toss up here between Dean and Sam. Both are pathetic to the point of wondering why either would go to the bother of saving the other from a life in heaven. Or hell. Or whatever. Because they've both already died and been demons and lost everyone they loved from parents to girlfriends. It's Dean's most recent brush with demonism and sporting the Mark of Cain that give him the tip of bad luck this go around.
Xander Harris (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
Xander never really excelled at anything on Buffy. He was always representative of us, the viewer, and how we might fare. Frankly, that wasn't very well. Sliding into the finale, he lost one of his eyeballs fighting off Caleb (we're lookin' at you Nathan Fillion) and his love, former demon Anya, died as they were fighting off the First. No riding off into the sunset after the Hellmouth was closed for him!
Will Graham (Hannibal)
Hannibal never really liked his job, and going to therapy with Hannibal Lecter was terribly unexpected. Who could have guessed it was all going to go so wrong and that nobody would believe Will when he initially cried for help? Instead, he wound up in prison fingered for murders Hannibal committed and eventually found himsef believing he was more of a wacked out friend than an investigator, patient or victim. What a shame.
Alison DeLaurentis (Pretty Little Liars)
Damn. What hasn't Alison been through? She has seen it all. On the run from her family and friends for years because someone tried to kill her, it turns out it was her brother, who ended up being her sister who had been torturturing her all those years. So many murders, attacks and much more in between it's really ridiculous. Truly. Ridiculous.
Tobias Beecher (Oz)
If you ever get the idea to drink and drive, please hop onto HBO Now and watch Oz. Tobias was just a plain ol' attorney. Then he got behind the wheel while he was drunk, killed a little girl and ended up in prison. Nothing was ever the same after that. It was truly stunning to see how terrible life became in the blink of an eye. The girlfriend of a white supremecist, drug addled, his family torn apart, dead. God. Just watch.
Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries)
Oh hell no. Elena Gilbert was not the only TVD character making this list! BonBon may have finally received her get out of hell free card thanks to the ultimate bad luck of Elena, but not before having spent most of her time on the series dead or thought to be dead. As the Anchor, she got to feel the deaths of all supernaturals, as an extra added bonus. She went through all this and still almost always chooses others before herself.
Bill Haverchuck (Freaks and Geeks)
Of all the people on this list, Bill Haverchuck never truly thought of himself as as big of a geek as we saw him. He's always trying, God bless 'im. With that dorky smile and his big-ass glasses and obsessive love for all things Dallas, he was sweet as pie, and since you knew high school wasn't going to last forever, you just wished you could do something to give this kid that extra push to find success.
Cliff Clavin (Cheers)
Cliff Clavin was a mailman who lived with his mom, leaving everybody to wonder about the exact nature of their relationship. He was a know it all who, ultimately, had the opportunity to prove everybody right when he made an appearance on Jeopardy. Winning until the final round, he wagered everything on an answer he didn't know and lost it all. Note, however, that while his answer was smartassish, it was correct. "Who are three people who have never been in my kitchen." It just wasn't the question they were looking for on Jeopardy. A woman in 2014 attempted the same thing, didn't wager as much, and won the game. Go Cliff?