5 Light-Hearted Characters With Surprisingly Dark Backstories

There’s real pain behind those googly eyes.
5 Light-Hearted Characters With Surprisingly Dark Backstories

While they may be A) seemingly happy and B) completely fictional, as we’ve mentioned before, some of the world’s goofiest characters have surprisingly upsetting origin stories – hell, even Chuck E. Cheese, a character who only exists to satiate throngs of scarily-hyper children with video games and a semi-edible pizza-like substance, was revealed to have had a shockingly depressing childhood. Well it turns out that some other wacky pop-culture characters have backstories similarly mired in misfortune, such as …

Jar Jar Binks Was A Petty Crook Who Did Hard Time

Had Jar Jar Binks not been busy stepping in poop and electrifying his tongue, he could have launched into a dramatic monologue about the abject awfulness of his early years. We’ve talked before about his father George Binks who (in one comic book, at least) attempted to take his own life rather than spend another second with his painfully annoying son. And things didn’t go great for Jar Jar after that, either …

According to the Star Wars: The New Essential Guide to Characters – which we’re assuming you all own a copy of because it is essential – Jar Jar’s early life was less like a Star Wars movie and more like a slapstick, sci-fi version of Goodfellas. Because he’s so clumsy, young Jar Jar was apparently unemployable; his only recourse following a series of firings and an unsuccessful busking gig was to turn to a life of crime. Jar Jar was recruited by “local lawbreaker Roos Tarpals” and went to work “distracting security patrols while Tarpals and his crew pulled off scams.”

Jar Jar’s criminal career didn’t end because he saw the error of his ways, but rather because Tarpals joined the Gungan army. Jar Jar later got a job at a zoo, only due to ruler Boss Nass’ “respect for Jar Jar’s parents.” Unfortunately, Jar Jar accidentally let “half the animals escape” and was sentenced to “six months hard labor” at a penal colony. And this was before he was banished from Gungan society. It’s no wonder he eventually turned to evil.

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Pac-Man Survived A Genocide, Apparently

Back in the days when a mind-blowing video game could consist of simply guiding a sentient pie chart through a maze filled with colorful blobs, Pac-Man reigned supreme. Rather than let an idea that somehow made complete sense in the 1980s die, Pac-Man was revived for an animated series in 2013: Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures.

Produced by former Marvel Studios head Avi Arad, the series was, despite the simplicity of the original game, surprisingly complicated. In the world of the show, Pac-Man is a high school student and the last of the yellow “Pac-people” on his planet. Why? Well, as we immediately learn there were several devastating “Ghost Wars” in this universe

And we learn that Pac-Man is the only yellow one left because the others were all murdered. That’s right, Pac-Man is the lone survivor of a genocide. Pretty heavy stuff for a franchise entirely predicated on the pursuit of cherry consumption.

Gritty Was Found At A Construction Site, Possibly Fleeing His “Bully” Father

We all know Gritty, the furry orange mascot for the Philadelphia Flyers who basically looks like a recently-divorced Muppet who just got back from Burning Man. Gritty is of course responsible for firing up hockey fans during games by skating, dancing, and, um, posing for nude portraits? 

In what has only created far more Gritty-related questions, the National Hockey League released an official biography for the character. For starters, it claims that his father was a “bully” which could explain why Gritty has “some of those tendencies.” It could also explain why Gritty was basically a drifter – according to the story, he was found in a “secret hideout” which was “distrubed” by the construction of the Wells Fargo Center, “forcing him to show his face publicly for the first time.”

In other words, Gritty is a cryptozoological marvel who was secretly living on the street, possibly fleeing from his sadistic father, until his home was bulldozed by the NHL – at which point he was co-opted into helping promote the pro-sports team that just forcibly displaced him. Hopefully some child will one day take matters into their own hands and try to help Gritty escape Free Willy-style. 

Wario Was A Victim Of Super Mario’s Bullying

We don’t know too much about Wario, beyond the fact that he’s Mario’s arch-enemy who bizarrely looks the hipster version of his bitter rival. But in a 1992 issue of Nintendo Power magazine, we got a short comic that illuminated much about the Mario-Wario relationship and it turns out that Mario is kind of a dick. According to the story, the pair were friends when they were kids – but Wario is still resentful of the fact that Mario’s antics often led to him getting physically hurt and/or ridiculed.

Nintendo Power

Wario literally thinks of Mario as a “bully” while Mario is unaware of this antipathy. When Mario finally learns of Wario’s feelings, his response indicates that he hasn’t learned a goddamn thing.

Nintendo Power

Which is all very troubling, but still not the worst thing to happen to Wario in recent memory.

Odie The Dog Was Abandoned By His Owner (Leading Fans To Suspect Murder)

Despite the fact that he can’t eloquently complain about days of the week or obsess over Italian food, Garfield’s canine pal Odie is a fixture of the long-running comic series. Originally though, Odie belonged, not to Jon Arbuckle, but to a character named Lyman, Jon’s mustachioed buddy and roommate. When Lyman was written out of the strip, Odie just kind of stuck around.

Famously, Lyman’s disappearance, combined with Odie’s continued presence, prompted a number of dark fan theories mostly involving Jon having murdered Lyman. Official Garfield products even hinted at a grim fate for poor Lyman, such as the online game Garfield’s Scary Scavenger Hunt, in which Lyman is found chained up in a basement – and in the sequel, Garfield finds Lyman’s decapitated head in the oven! Whether or not Jon is the culprit is never addressed.

Presumably to pivot away from the whole “Jon Arbuckle committed homicide” angle, in 2012 the animated series The Garfield Show endeavoured to clear-up the mystery surrounding Lyman once and for all, revealing that Lyman had left Odie with Jon and in order journey to a remote jungle and snap a photo of a Bigfoot-like creature, but never returned.

Which is … also pretty upsetting? Luckily in this story, Lyman turns out to be alive, and not a headless body in a dingy basement. 

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Thumbnail: Lucasfilm/NHL

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