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Kari sick 3372.jpg
"The first [witch], by name Asha, was sick of a malady no Healer could cure. She hoped that the Fountain would banish her symptoms and grant her a long and happy life."

The ill girl is almost inevitably a sympathetically cute girl[1]. The disease can be anything from anemia to organ failure. Smart writers avoid such specifics, making it a Soap Opera Disease. It will never disfigure or impair her cuteness, but usually prompts an older brother or sister figure into shady business to help pay the medical bills. Or prompts them to rush into some dangerous/brave deed while she cheers them on.

A common cliche is the character being sick in autumn, noticing leaves falling off a tree by the window, with the prediction/hope she'll at least stay alive long enough to see the last one fall. This is taken from the O. Henry story "The Last Leaf".

This character type is probably indirectly descended from the Western romantic "consumptive heroine" (most recently seen in the form of Nicole Kidman's "Satine" in the film Moulin Rouge).

Only occasionally related to Definitely Just a Cold. See also Littlest Cancer Patient, Bandage Babe, Too Good for This Sinful Earth, Incurable Cough of Death, Utsuge and Soap Opera Disease.

Female Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Hikari (Kari) Yagami (pictured above) in Digimon Adventure, younger sister of Taichi (Tai), who gets the Incurable Cough of Death during one episode. Through a flashback in the anime, she is shown to have gotten pneumonia, but as she ages her illness mysteriously vanishes.
    • Actually, it's stated that Hikari had not properly healed from a huge cold that left her bedridden and unable to join the kids who'd become the Digidestined in their fateful school trip. Said cold came back with a vengeance when they were in the Digital World, causing Hikari to fall down with a fever that was just as bad as back home — only that in this particular Sick Episode, they had no ways to properly treat her, and for worse Metal Seadramon was following them. It triggered Taichi's bad memories of the incident in which, years ago, he accidentally caused Hikari to almost die of pneumonia.
    • Relena Norstein from Digimon Savers, which led to her older half-brother Touma joining sides with Kurata to get her "cured." This is a prime example of the writers not defining the disease: she's in a wheelchair, although she can walk short distances, and Touma wins the Nobel Prize for curing her, but it's incredibly vague otherwise.
  • Maya from Maya's Funeral Procession dresses in a long-sleeved dress in the middle of summer, is extremely pale, suffers headaches from time to time. etc. As it turns out, both she and her sister are this, due to the fire where they were scarred and their parents died: not only they got heavily burned, but suffered heavy carbon monoxide poisoning that ruined their healths permanently.
  • Chiho, Uzume's Ashikabi from Sekirei has a mysterious unnamed illness that keeps her hospitalized. It later becomes a pivotal plot point towards the middle of the second season (Pure Engagement)
  • Fruits Basket:
    • Rin (stomach ulcers coming from her Broken Bird personality and the stress of her horrible former home life ) and Akito (unclear illness that comes from the stress of being the God of the Zodiac, which may be the same sickness that killed her father Akira). Even though they're sick, they both scare the living crap out of people: Rin because she's headstrong and harsh, Akito because she's the feared leader of the Sohma clan.
    • Also, in Akito's case, her illness may be more psychosomatic than anything. According to the manga, she does a LOT better in the health fields after her Heel Face Turn; however, it may also be a side-effect of the Curse of the Zodiac breaking and therefore not burdening her any longer.
    • Akito's mother Ren is implied to be this; she's described as being "a little ill, physically and mentally", and is all but confined to her bedroom in the Sohma Estate.
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Sayo Mutou aka Magdaria, the younger sister and Morality Pet of Shougo Amakusa, has an Incurable Cough of Death (and some Blood From the Mouth). Unlike other cases, though, we know what she has: it's tuberculosis, she's had since she was a little girl, and she even "inherited" it from her Missing Mom, also an Ill Girl. That's not what kills the poor girl, though. She takes the bullet for a person who's willing to help her brother and his followers and dies in Sanosuke's arms. Even if she didn't, Sayo was almost in the terminal stage so she would've died anyway.
  • Marie in Sister Princess.
  • An episode of Galaxy Angel has an ill Mint in a hospital while watching the leaves on a tree — she hopes to live long enough to watch a leaf fall off — and it promptly does, at which point she notes she was referring to another leaf, which also falls off. As she tries to refer to a third leaf, all the leaves are blown off by a strong wind. Another character, Chitose, is an obvious parody, claiming to have been confined to a hospital most of her life. More likely it's another product of her attention whoring; she was enough of a Scrappy in the game that even the anime writers didn't like her, and her personality was exaggerated to that of a wangsty histrionic (although to be fair, everyone else was exaggerated too).
  • Hayate Yagami in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha As. However, in the sequel series StrikerS, she is completely healthy. This because her "illness" was actually the curse of the Book of Darkness, so once the Book was destroyed she was able to recover.
  • Hyatt in Excel Saga is a particularly over-the-top parody of this, as she tries to go about her duties as an agent of ACROSS despite her tendencies to collapse, cough up contaminated blood (which kills small birds and sickens humans), faint, or even drop dead and then spontaneously come back to life. She always comes back to life, once even being charred to a decent crisp only to sit up later, as if nothing had happened.

    This appears to be an empathetic illness, at least in the manga. For several volumes Hyatt went some time without her usual blood and death routine, but the revelation that the competent Excel was an impostor brought it back.
  • Rika in Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora.
  • Kaori in Strawberry Panic.
  • Akiko from Itazura na Kiss.
  • Hotaru Tomoe in Sailor Moon S. Also, one-time character Misa-chan from the first anime's Stars season.
    • Anti Villainess An from the first series occasionally fell into the archetype as well, getting tired and out of breath easier than her "brother/lover" Ali/Seijuuro. In An's case this was caused by her basically starving, since she refused to eat regular food like Ali did unless she really couldn't help it, and humans' life energy wasn't available every time she needed it.
  • Megu Kakizaki, Suigintou's medium and Morality Pet from Rozen Maiden. She subverts the "kind and sweet" part by having extremely intense self-hatred (she considers herself as "a broken girl" and a huge burden to her parents), being suicidal (to the point of praying to be taken away by an "Angel of Death" and thinking Suigintou is said Angel), and sometimes throwing tantrums when she feels alone (Suigintou is shocked when she sees her having a fight with her dad).
  • Shizuka Kawai (a.k.a. Serenity Wheeler) from Yu-Gi-Oh! prior to her operation. (In the first anime series, she has an unspecified disease, but in the manga and second anime series, she's going blind.)
    • It turns out that Pegasus's Freudian Excuse was centered around one of these: his deceased fiancée Cecilia, who died few before their wedding.
  • Angelic Layer: The mother of the main character, Shuuko, is an adult Ill Girl who abandoned her daughter because she "didn't want to be a burden" and feared Misaki would be ostracized for having a "useless" mother. This gives her somewhat of an excuse for literal Parental Abandonment, leaving Misaki in the "more capable" care of her aunt. (Meanwhile, the entire Angelic Layer game is an elaborate plan coming from her friend Icchan to get enough data on human neurophysiology to cure this disease.) Curiously, this is not in the manga at all.
  • Code Geass: Nunnally Lamperouge/vi Britannia, the younger sister of the main character, is both blind and contained in a wheelchair after she witnessed and barely survived their mother's brutal murder. He promises her that by the time she gets well, the world will be a better place. He never mentions how — to him, it doesn't matter how many people have to die or be manipulated to destroy the The Empire. Further, she didn't actually see it, having been a false witness due to a memory-altering Geass. Also, she gets better with time: in the series, she stays in a wheelchair but regains her sight and becomes the Empress of Britannia, and in the Nightmare of Nunnally manga she heals completely and stays under the wing of Empress Euphemia Li Britannia.
    • Also, fellow student and revolutionary Kallen Stadtfeld/Kozuki uses the image of the Ill Girl to cover up her frequent absences from school so she can go play revolutionary. Maintaining the illusion limits her somewhat, but fortunately there's usually a distraction around to keep others from asking when she makes an unexpected display of physical prowess. Lampshaded in the 2nd picture drama, where Shirley grabs a naked Kallen from behind while they're bathing and comments on how Kallen is much stronger and athletic than she's supposed to be.
  • Subversion, possible parody: Kagome's never-ending parade of fake illnesses in Inuyasha causes much sympathy and embarrassment.
    • Kikyou took this role more than once, despite being undead. Namely, it happened every time she was either weakened by poison or suffering the physical downsides of her clay body.
  • Though it's never mentioned in the anime, Kurz Weber of Full Metal Panic is stated to have joined Mithril in order to pay the hospital bills of a young girl who was critically injured in a mission he was involved in. More exactly, during the assassination of the man responsible for the deaths of Kurz's parents. Kurz, who was supposed to take the shot, stopped when he realized that the poor girl would also be hit; his Cold Sniper mentor, Wilhelm Casper, had fewer scruples and fired anyhow.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has Michal Amagi, a Tomoe Hotaru-esque figure that also happens to be Lucia's romantic rival and the little sister of one of the villains. It's a wonder she survives, really.
  • Anju Kitahara in the anime version of Marmalade Boy. She has a weak heart and might not live for long if she doesn't go through a very dangerous operation in ther USA, but she attempts to remain cheerful and even befriends her beloved Yuu's girlfriend Miki, telling her that she won't break them up and is as happy as she can with being Yuu's Unlucky Childhood Friend. She's operated and gets better, and when Yuu breaks up with Miki she has a small chance to get Yuu for herself, but ultimately she (and Miki's other love interest Kei) give up when they get back together.
  • Toji Suzuhara's off camera sister in Neon Genesis Evangelion: After the injuries she suffers among the civilians caught in the middle of the fight in the first two episodes, Toji is eventually recruited as the pilot of Unit 03 in exchange for her being transferred to NERV's medical facilities. However, Toji himself is severely crippled when an Angel takes over his Eva.
    • In Rebuild, we get to see Toji doting on his little sister as she finally gets out of the hospital, and Asuka ends up piloting Unit 03 in his place.
  • In Fafner in The Azure Dead Aggressor Shouko Kazama is the ultimate Ill Girl who suffers from some incapacitating disease that makes her a recluse of sorts. The trope is subverted though since her death is not caused by her illness, instead Shouko sacrifices herself for the sake of the island in a grand Heroic Sacrifice. This also qualifies as her Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Mutsumi Otohime from Love Hina, who has a severe case of aenemia and passes out almost everywhere. During her Crash Into Hello with Keitaro, she fell over, with Blank White Eyes and Blood From the Mouth. Keitaro checks for a pulse...and there isn't one. Cue Freak-Out. She got better, of course, but it seems her fainting spells are closer to actually dying then "normal" fainting. Read about it here.
    • Naru used to be an Ill Girl as a child. She has asthma, and in her childhood her attacks were very serious — her parents sent her to Hinata Sou hoping that she'd recover due to the zone's benign climate. That was the time when she befriended Keitarou and Mutsumi, and the three made The Promise.
  • Fujimiya Aya fills this role for most of Weiss Kreuz after she's hit by a car and ends up comatose, prompting her older brother Ran to become an assassin to pay her hospital bills - and to actually assume her name in tribute. She ultimately gets better.
    • In one episode Ran encounters another Ill Girl, whose brother has entered a Deadly Game to pay her medical bills.
  • Mitsuki Koyama from Full Moon o Sagashite has a cancerous tumor that prevents her from singing, and gives her exactly one year left to live. When she transforms into "Full Moon", she temporarily loses this tumor, and gains an amazing singing voice.
  • In Binbou Shimai Monogatari Asu winds up in hospital from a neglected cold, giving her sister Kyou the chance to indulge in emotional memories about the time their mother was hospitalized.
  • Himeka Karasuma from Kamichama Karin.
  • Hisami Hisaishi from the Read Or Dream manga and ROD the TV.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • Rico turns out to have been an Ill Girl prior to becoming a cyborg, languishing away in an hospital after her parents simply abandon her there to her luck until she's taken in by the organization; meanwhile, Angelica eventually becomes one due to the side effects of the "conditioning" the girls go through. Eventually though, all girls will meet the same fate, since their lifespan is immensely shortened due to their cybernetic implants.
    • Also, Claes stops taking roles in missions not just because of her trainer Raballo's death, but because she actually has a weak heart.
    • Let's not forget Elisabeta, a Chernobyl survivor and former aspirant ballerina who developed cancer and tried to commit suicide after her cancerous leg was amputated. Then she was brought into the Agency and became Petrushka aka Petra.
  • Parodied in Magical Project S, where one of the Love-love Monsters is called "fake sick girl", who even gives the speech about not seeing the last leaf fall from a tree. When the person talking with her mentions that the tree is quite full and healthy, she blows it up with a cannon hidden in her bed.
  • Subverted quite quickly in The Daughter of Twenty Faces, in that the "ill girl" is in fact the main character who recovers quite quickly when taken away from the source of her "illness" by the eponymous Gentleman Thief Twenty-Faces.
  • Usopp's best friend Kaya from One Piece. She got better later, though.
    • Much later, it's revealed that Sanji's mother Sora was one. More exactly, when her husband Judge experimented with Sanji and his brothers when they were still in Sora's womb, Sora created an antidote for such things — she managed to save only Sanji, plus it ruined her health beyond repair and she died less than 10 years after his and his brothers' birth.
  • Dr. Black Jack had five patients of this type in the 2004 series:
    • Pinoko, his adopted daughter assistant. She was originally a sentient tumor in the body of a young girl, whom he extirped and gave a doll-like body out of pity since he found out that she strongly wished to live, just like Black Jack wanted to after the accident that killed his mother and left him paralyzed for years. Pinoko's sister had a Freak-Out and disowned her, so Black Jack took the kid around as his adoptive daughter and assistant.;
    • Michiru, a beautiful manga artist whose biggest dream was to get married before she died, so Black Jack played the charade to make her accept the operation that would save her, later "breaking up" with her so she wouldn't let her one-sided love for him stunt her. She not only gets better, but ends up marrying her Unlucky Childhood Friend.
    • Souno, another Ojou (but in a more traditionally Japanese way than Michiru) who also was a skilled Ikebana expert, but had a never specified illness that was made more serious by the pressure her well-intentioned but ultra-strict father put on her.
    • Watou and Kumiko's classmate Rei, an Idol Singer who takes her career as really Serious Business, but has a tumor in her throat that will put it in serious risks.
    • Megumi Kisaragi, a female doctor whom Black Jack fancied, but had advanced ovarian cancer. After having her affected inner organs removed, she changed her name to Kei and left, living her life as a male, despite not being outright said if she went through a sex change or not.
    • In the backstory, there is another: Black Jack's own mother, who was severely injuered in the same incident that left him as an Ill Boy.
  • Lucky Star:
    • Kanata, Konata's mom and Soujiro's wife, apparently died in a very Ill Girl way early. That, and the couple being childhood friends, Kanata being older than she looked, made Konata wonder if the whole thing is a Dating Sim plot. One has to note that Kanata's older than she looked is related to the disease in concerned, so Konata may fall victim to the same disease... At least one rather absurd Dark Fic Doujinshi had her develop into a suicidally depressed college student living in fear of her possible demise.
    • Yutaka, Konata's paternal cousin, has recurring (albeit mild) health problems that make it difficult for her to keep up with her friends-- she was nearly rendered a Broken Bird from the social isolation caused. And her case of Older Than They Look is even more severe than Kanata's...
  • Paranoia Agent actually features a direct parody of "The Last Leaf".
  • Parodied and played melodramatically in Mamoru-kun Ni Megami no Shukufuku Wo. During the Valentine's Day episode, a contest is on to see who can give Mamoru chocolate in the most creative way possible. Shione orchestrates a "Last Leaf" situation with her brother claiming her lack of fashion sense is a disease affecting "one in six billion people" that will kill her. In the end, Shione "dies", but not before giving Mamoru her chocolate...shaped like her hairstyle.
  • Sora from Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto: Natsu no Sora seems to be mostly in good health, having little trouble with physical exercise or performing straining magical rituals--until she suddenly appears to have been suffering from a terminal heart condition for a while already, leading to a severe Mood Whiplash in the series.
  • Gundam 00: Louise Halevy in the second season. To start, Louise lost her left hand in the bombing incident that decimated her family in the first season. She got said hand back through an undisclosed medical treatment and Took a Level In Badass that led her to become a Dark Action Girl, but she also had some very ugly seizures and had to pop some pills. Her sanity continued slipping as the series advanced, but luckily, by the end she starts getting better. In The Movie, she's still in recovery.
    • Stella Loussier from Gundam SEED Destiny, too. Being one of the Extended, her life hangs on by treatment in the Alliance medical rooms and she will die if she doesn't get it, which is shown in her seizures and memory gaps. For worse, the training has damaged her mind as well, and she's few more than a very childish Ophelia almost unable to function in real life when outside missions. Yeah, it sucks to be her.
    • All of these are predated by Four Murasame from Zeta Gundam, another Tyke Bomb who got lots of power via treatment and training, at the cost of terrible mental unstability and constant physical pain (in Four's case, splitting headaches that affect her more than once).
    • Chronologically speaking, there's an even earlier example in the manga Char's Deleted Affair and other related media: Marlene Khan, The Mistress and Number Two to Dozle Zabi and older sister to Haman Kahn. She died at the end of the One Year War due to her bad health.
  • Subverted in Ikki Tousen: Ryoufou Housen is dying of an illness, but she's still a fearsome Dark Action Girl and actually goes down fighting rather than of illness. In the anime, she gets better later, though that also included some Laser-Guided Amnesia and dying again in the end.
  • Someone subverted in Planetes, where during a hospital stay Hachimaki meets a girl who he believes to be chronically ill, but does not want to be rude by asking. In reality, she is a child who was born on the moon, and is staying in the hospital to provide medical information to scientists and doctors.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima has Ako Izumi briefly filling the role after she catches some sort of disease upon arriving in Magicus Mundus. It varies a little bit in that she gets the cure early on, but it's so expensive that it forces her and two of her friends (Natsumi Murakami and Akira Ookochi) to sell themselves into slavery. This in turn leads to Negi having to enter a tournament to win the money to buy their freedom.
  • In the Cowboy Bebop episode "Waltz for Venus," Spike befriends a smuggler named Roco who is trying to earn enough money to pay for his blind sister Stella's eye operation. It ends in tragedy.
  • Played with in Gundam X. Female lead Tiffa Addil is a Fainting Seer and slightly delicate, but this doesn't stunt her that much. Her only brush with death was actually a side-effect of her being poisoned by one of the villains.
  • Kotori Monou from X 1999 has a serious heart condition. One of her older brother Fuuma's first scenes in the manga has him reading out loud a list with the remedies that Kotori has to take that day.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Jotaro's mother Holly Joestar-Kujo, if hidden powers activated by appearance of a powerful vampire that she's unable to control and slowly kills her counts as an disease.
  • Chiyuki from A Thousand Snows.
  • Deconstructed in a Detective Conan case: our Villain of the Week had a bad heart, but it was her who killed the loanshark who drove her boyfriend to suicide over the money for "that operation" (see Finger-Licking Poison for the murder itself). God, is she a bitchy chain smoker. In her confession, she mentions that her boyfriend was her Morality Pet and the only one who ever loved her after her parents's deaths. Be careful when threatening an Ill Girl's loved ones: if she gets better, she'll kill you!
    • The other moral: in Real Life, being chronically sick can make a person pretty bitchy.
    • Played heartbreakingly straight in the fillers, with a girl named Kaori whose older brother Todakuro is the ghost writer to a murdered novelist, Daisuke Torakura, who paid for her hospital bills in exchange for the guy's hard work. We later learn the horrible truth: Kaori actually died a year ago because Complete Monster Torakura actually bribed her doctor into keeping her on painkillers only instead of paying for crucial and expensive treatment abroad (as per his end of the bargain), so Todakuro would remain indefinitely time as his subordinate, which ultimately killed her. Then, Torakura mantained the lie via keeping Todakuro pretty much locked in his countryside villa, telling him that Kaori (supposed to be in an American hospital) was just about to get better. When poor Todakuro found out the truth from the guilt-ridden nurse who used to tend to Kaori, he went nuts with pain and murdered Torakura. Asshole Victim seems a bit lenient. Basicially, Torakura was Moving the Goalposts.
  • Subverted quite cruelly with Aiko from the Vampire Princess Miyu OAV, who was thought to be in a Convenient Coma due to either illness or Demonic Possession, but Himiko later discovered that she summoned the main Shinma in despair after blaming herself for her parents's death, having survived the accident that caused their demises. Ever since then, she lays on a futon and simply... sleeps, while the Shinma wreaks havoc around. She only wakes up when Himiko confronts the Shinma, but Miyu stops her when she's about to drink Himiko's blood, and once the Shinma is defeated Aiko dies.
  • Though no one takes her seriously, Mokuzu Umino of Satou Kashi no Dangan wa Uchinukenai claims that her painful limp and clumsiness were caused by a witches spell that turned her into a human with an imperfect pair of legs. She says this same spell will turn her into sea foam in one months time if she does not fulfill her wish of finding a "precious friend." As it turns out her limping is actually the result of physical abuse by her own father, Masachika. She's also deaf on one ear for the same reason, but since nobody knows about this everyone thinks she ignores them out of arrogance.
  • Miyuki Aiba/Shana Carter aka Tekkaman Rapier/Teknoman Shana from Tekkaman Blade. She's actually a Tekkaman whose transformation process was incomplete, therefore she suffered horrible pains and her lifespan was dramatically shortened... therefore, she chose to go down fighting and perform an Heroic Sacrifice than die of her illness.
  • Tsubaki Kakyouin aka "Tsubaki-hime" and Muraki's fiancée Ukyou Sakuraiji, both from Yami no Matsuei.
  • Bleach: Byakuya Kuchiki's deceased wife, Hisana. It's implied that her sickness was caused or compounded by her repitive guilt-driven visits to Rukongai in search of her lost sister, Rukia.
  • Inori's older sister Seri in Harukanaru Toki no Naka de; Inori even has the Big Brother Instinct towards her because of this, despite him actually being younger. A flashback in the Hachiyou Shou TV anime reveals that this is part of the reason Seri got close with Iktidar, who saved her when she was threatened by several men while helpless from her condition. Somehow, being an Ill Girl didn't stop Seri from having Ikutidaru's baby.
  • Subverted with Izumi Curtis from Fullmetal Alchemist: a pale, slender, attractive lady with frequent attacks of Blood From the Mouth. It's sometimes Played for Laughs when she coughs up blood on someone who upsets her, she can kick your ass, bears' asses, and her gigiantic husband's ass, and it generally need not be said that you shouldn't pity her, because she's so fierce. Also, she gets better... though only in the manga and the Brotherhood series, as in the first anime she passes away in between the events of the Grand Finale and The Movie. And it's thanks to the Elrics' dad Hohenheim, who cannot give Izumi's organs back to her but can use an alchemic-powered punch to her gut to stop the bleeding permanently.
  • Anemone from Eureka Seven. This Dark Action Girl pretty much has to live drugged to get away with the process she underwent to become Coralian-like, which causes her horrible side-effects like headaches, psychic nosebleeds and wild mental unstability. The doctor even says her resistance to the drugs was her greatest value. OUCH!
    • Female lead Eureka, as well. She spends much of the first half of the series feeling progressively worse due to her diminishing connection to the Nirvash.
  • Takiko Okuda and her Missing Mom Yoshie from Fushigi Yuugi Genbu Kaiden. Takiko caught tuberculosis from the deceased Yoshie while tending to her in her own world. She insists it's just a cold, as her father makes plans to take her back to Tokyo for medical treatment. The illness eventually contributes to her death.
    • Then there's Mitsukake's girlfriend Shouka from the original series, who actually did die. And then Came Back Wrong.
    • Takiko's younger friend Suzuno Ohsugi from Fushigi Yuugi Byakko Senki not only has a frail health, but has been very traumatized after surviving the Great Kanto Earthquake. When she has flashbacks to such things, she tends to faint and suffer high fevers.
  • Kozue from the old-school anime Attack No. 1 is ill and has to quit sports awhile and move where she can rest because of it, until she comes back and joins the volleyball team.
  • Kosumo Koganehara from Michiyo Akaishi's Towa Kamo Shirenai was born with a weak heart, and in fact the manga starts when she has a seizure during her treatment in the USA and needs an urgent transplant, but her extremely rare blood type doesn't allow for an easy one. The donor that saves her life just happens to be Himiko, a Miko and Magical Girl Warrior who has just died via an Heroic Sacrifice to save a child, so Kosumo inherits her powers alongside her heart and blood and must take up her demon slaying mission - with the help of her Tall, Dark and Handsome guardian, Hitsuji.
  • Katekyo Hitman Reborn: Chrome Dokoro/Nagi will die if Mukuro or currently Daemon Spade isn't giving her illusionary organs to replace the ones that she lost when she was hit by a car.
  • Tamaki's French Missing Mom, Anne-Sophie Grantaine in Ouran High School Host Club. More exactly, she has lupus. Tamaki came to Japan after striking a deal with his Evil Matriarch Japanese grandmother to have his beloved mother well taken care of, in exchange for him becoming the Suoh's official heir and leaving his mom in France.
  • In the second season of GetBackers, one of Ban and Ginji's missions is to get a very rare type of blood (named "Bombay Blood") for a girl named Yumiko, who needs an urgent transfusion or she'll die in few days. It turns out that Akabane has a dose of it and they have to fight him and his partner Maguruma. It's also revealed that Ginji had an Ill Girl friend in the Infinite Fortress days and she died due to lack of treatment, so he's determined to not fail again for Yumiko's sake. They get the Bombay Blood, and Yumiko is saved.
  • Homura Akemi from Puella Magi Madoka Magica, before meeting Madoka and her friends, was this and spent most of her life in the local hospital due to a severe heart illness. It's not specified how she got rid of it, but most likely did it with her Magical Girl powers. This is also the basis of her attitude towards Madoka, as her social isolation and orphanhood means the latter is pretty much the first and Only Friend she could made for the past 14 years.
    • Also, according to popular Fanon, the witch Charlotte may have been one when she was still a Magical Girl. What prompted this Epileptic Tree was that her Grief Seed first appeared outside a hospital, there is a general medical theme to her barrier as well as the sweets, and the fact that she's obsessed with cheese, which chemotherapy patients aren't allowed to have. Add in the detail that Kyubey has contracted girls on the verge of death (see: Mami, who had been seriously injured in the car crash where her parents died), and this theory became popular.
  • Yuki from Moshidora. Unfortunately, she doesn't get better.
  • Anju from Karin is believed to be this. That's far from the truth, obviously.
  • Three of these show up in Hana no Ko Lunlun:
  • Haruna from Tenchi Forever! is this. After fleeing with her lover, Yosho/Katsuhiko, she became ill during their trip. She died before the couple arrived on Earth.
  • Ultear Milkovich from Fairy Tail was this in the past. Then she fell in the hands of a bunch of Mad Scientists whom her mother Ur asked for help, not knowing about their intentions; they did heal Ultear, but they told Ur that she had died, and then told Ultear that her mother had abandoned her... just so they could make the desperate Ultear their Dark Action Girl Tyke Bomb.
  • Kaoru Orihara from Oniisama e... has a very serious illness. Namely, breast cancer. She kept her illness a secret from most of her classmates until the symptoms of a possible relapse were shown and she broke it off with her boyfriend Takehiko, after having had a mastectomy a while back. What happens to her varies according to the different continuities: In both of them she goes to Germany with Takehiko after they rekindle their relationship... but while she lives on and they stay Happily Married with a child in the anime, in the manga she does die two years after leaving Japan.
  • Three show up in Honoo no Alpen Rose: Clara (temporary but plot-important illness that has her brother rat out Jeudi and lundi to get money for her medicine), Marie ( confined to a wheelchair, but starts to walk after befriending Lundi, and especially Jeudi's Missing Mom Helene (weak heart and almost total blindness after the accident that separated her from Jeudi. Also subverted - the weak heart comes from her being poisoned by a girl who poses as Jeudi and her evil father, and after the plan is uncovered and they're ousted, she starts getting better)
  • One of the two reasons why Kurumi Akino is the main breadwinner of the family is that her mother is an ill girl and thus she cannot take a regular job. The other is that Kurumi's father died two years before the story started.
  • Asa Shigure from Shuffle suffers a mysterious illness that often leaves her bedridden, and starts becoming worse as time passes. It's not an illness, but Power Incontinence: her weak half-demon body cannot handle the strong magic inherited from her mother, the demon Ama, but Asa utterly refuses to use said power because Ama suffered horribly due to them and thus she doesn't want her mother to be sad. Rin has to take a VERY risky third option to force her release said energy, and almost dies for it.
  • Kiku from Idaten Jump, also Kouhei's little sister and the local Yamato Nadeshiko. Her illness turns out to be a consequence of the disbalance between the X Zone and Earth, and once it's fixed she starts to get better.
  • Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso: Kousei's mom, Saki, has already passed away from illness before the series began. Even more unfortunately, Saki's emotional state upon being diagnosed became so bad, she turned into a mix of Abusive Mom and Education Mama to Kousei, pressuring him beyond his limits in an horribly misguided attempt to make him both perfect and self-reliant.
    • Kaori Miyazono is one as well. It's first hinted in episode 4 when (when she collapses after her performance) and further shown in episode 9, when a lot of pills can be seen in her bag. Then in episode 15, her legs give out in the middle of the hospital hallway at night. And in episode 16, her arms can't hold up her bow or, at the very least, a bottle of juice Kousei hands her. While her disease is unnamed, it's explained that she will lose control of her legs and her limbs and suffer from seizures that will lead to heart failure; as a result, most fans have suspected that Kaori and probably Saki as well suffered from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis aka ALS. And Kaori dies from the illness too.
  • In Kyojin no Hoshi, Hyuuma's Love Interest Mina Hidaka is one of these. And she dies of her illness (malignant melanoma) when he's in a match. Understandably, the guy does NOT take it well.
  • The princess from the Grimm's Fairy Tale Classics version of Godfather Death. She's saved by the protagonist's Heroic Sacrifice.
  • In Dance in the Vampire Bund, while Akira and Yuuhi's mother managed to survive giving birth twice to werewolf kids (normally, having just one will kill the always-human mom), she's in a wheelchair as a result.
  • Shiho Kimizuki's younger sister Mirai in Owari no Seraph, who also is an uncommon case because somehow she adquired The Plague despite being less than 13 years old when that happened - and this is a virus supposed to infect and kill only people over said age.. As such, the poor girl is used for experimentation - especially because Mirai, like her brother and other humans, have the mysterious Seraph Gene. . .
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba has Kyoujurou Rengoku's late mother, Ruka, who passed away of illness some time before the series began. Her death and another massive emotional blow drove her husband Shinjurou to utter despair and being a Troubled Abuser to Kyoujurou and his other son Senjurou.
    • Lady Tamayo was this, until Muzan Kibutsuji paid her a visit.
    • Later flashbacks have a girl named Koyuki, whose mother killed herself out of depression since the girl was VERY sickly and pretty much fated to die young. When a boy named Hakuji became her father Keizo's martial arts disciple, he began taking care of her and she slowly started to improve, falling in love with him in the process. Too bad both Keizo and Koyuki were fatally poisoned by a trhe people from a rival dojo, which drove Hakuji to kill them all VERY bloodily and then become Akaza from the Twelve Kizuki.

Comic Books


  • Repo! The Genetic Opera has two of these as various points - Marni, who died before the film started, and her daughter Shilo, who inherited the disease. Until it turns out that she's not really ill--her father was poisoning her so she would have to stay with him.
  • The Hand That Rocks the Cradle: Claire (Annabella Sciorra) is an adult one who suffers of chronic asthma. And Payton (Rebecca De Monray), the Cute and Psycho Villain Protagonist, uses said illness to her advantage... among other things. She still loses in the end.
  • The Sandman's daughter in Spider-Man 3.
  • October Sky features a kind and encouraging schoolteacher, Miss Riley, who is revealed to suffer from Hodgkin's Disease during the third act of the film, giving the Rocket Boys that extra emotional push to pull off their last, climactic, rocket launch.
    • Seeing as how October Sky was based off of the autobiography Rocket Boys (complete with the actual aforementioned Ill Girl), that automatically makes this trope into Truth in Television.
  • LoveHKFilm uses the term "terminal beauty" to refer to romance movies that feature one of these girls as the primary love interest, and features a good number of reviews of such Hong Kong movies in general.
  • The entire point of Nicholas Sparks' A Walk To Remember.
  • Satine from Moulin Rouge, as mentioned above. An unusual example in that she remains ignorant of her condition until 2/3 of the way through the movie, and then keeps it a secret from everyone until the last possibly second... from everyone who didn't know before she did. Which pretty much constitutes Christian, the Duke, the Duke's man Warner and possibly Toulouse and the Narcoleptic Argentinian. Most of the cast knew before Satine did.
  • Jennifer Cavelleri, in Love Story.
  • The female lead in the Taiwanese movie Secret. Point of note: this is not the titular secret.
  • Sympathy for Mr Vengeance by Park Chan-Wook (of Oldboy fame) seems to follow this trope to the letter. The plot is driven by the fact that the deaf-mute main character cannot afford the kidney transplant that his sick sister needs to survive. Abject unrelenting horror ensues.
  • Charly based on the book by Jack Weyland.
  • The Doctor's wife in The Fountain from 2006.
  • Kate from My Sister's Keeper.
  • Bastian's mother is shown to be this in a flashback in The Neverending Story 2.
  • Maggie Murdock's role as this is most of the entire plot of Love and Other Drugs.


  • Liza, Madame Khokhlakov's daughter, in The Brothers Karamazov.
  • Fantine in Victor Hugo's Les Misérables. She subverts a few characteristics of this trope, popular in that era and genre, because her illness is named, her wizened, aged appearance is described in detail, and when she dies, she does not die from the disease itself. On the other hand, she manages to soliloquize paragraphs on what she's going to do when she gets better (despite the fact that the narration says she coughs near-constantly) and win the heart of all around her. Either way, it's Older Than Radio.
    • Fantine in the musical of Les Misérables is ailing and wasting away, and also sings a plaintive song about the winter wind crying and the night encroaching, and of how she would love to see her little girl one more time before she dies. And then she dies. And her death acts as a motivator for the rest of Valjean's actions for the next, oh, ten years or so.
  • Helen Burns, the best friend of the titular Jane Eyre in their Boarding School of Horrors. She has tuberculosis and dies of it.
  • Elizabeth "Beth" March from Little Women, who catches scarlet fever (from helping out some very poor neighbors whose kids had it) and almost dies. Unlike Meg and Jo, who years ago caught the same fever but recovered well, Beth suffers one of the nastiest side-effects: rheumatic heart damage, which was untreatable back then and ruins her health from then on. She later becomes Jo's Dead Little Sister.
  • An example from Chinese literature: Lin Tai-yu in "A Dream of Red Mansions".
  • Lady Pole, at least at first.
  • Many of the female characters created by Edgar Allen Poe fit this type. Notable examples include the eponymous heroines of his short stories "Ligeia" and "Berenice", and his famous poem "Annabel Lee". They always die.
  • Miss Sneezy in Haunted 2005.
  • Michelle in Robin Cook's medical thriller Fever, suffering from leukemia and further weakened by chemotherapy.
  • Pomma from the Green-Sky Trilogy: Soap Opera Disease plus an addiction to wissenberries. She ends up getting better with Teera around.
  • Sarah from All of a Kind Family is said to get sick more easily than her sisters.
  • The Jane Austen universe provides a few:
  • Queen Ehlana, in the Elenium trilogy by David Eddings, is a variation on the trope. Under normal circumstances, she's perfectly healthy and energetic, but as it gets explained to her personal champion, she's been getting progressively more sick since her coronation, and her sickness isn't something that anyone's ever seen — her symptoms contradict each other. They eventually work out that she's been poisoned, and the poison she was given has no known cure. Except one.
  • Mercy from The Witch of Blackbird Pond has a lame leg and poor health as a result of a fever she caught as a very small child.
  • Violet towards the end of Feed
  • Diggory's mother Mabel Ketterley-Kirke in The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew. In fact, she and Diggory live with Uncle Andrew and Aunt Lettie because they're taking care of her while Mr. Kirke has to work in India. With a little help of Aslan and a magical apple he gives to Diggory at the end of his and Polly's adventures, Mabel ultimately gets better.
  • The aforementioned Kate in My Sister's Keeper, with leukaemia. Arguably, My Sister's Keeper is a deconstruction of this type of story, showing how Kate's mother's efforts to save her daughter take a considerable toll on the whole family. The girl is actually so ill that she actually does want to die, thus she asks her sister/prospect donor Anna for help so Anna can be released from being her forced donor and Kate can die in peace.
    • This trope is also seen in two of Jodi Picoult's other books, Handle with Care (Willow has ostogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease) and Change of Heart (Claire Nealon needs a heart transplant). Like My Sister's Keeper, the mothers of these children are willing to do anything for their child (in the former, the mother sues her best friend and OBGYN for not telling her about a disabled child, that she presumably would have aborted, and in the latter the mother refuses a transplant from the murderer who killed her husband).
  • The book "Maria Jesus: Un milagro de amor" ("Maria Jesus, a miracle of love") by Chilean author Ana Maria Figueroa is the biography of an ill girl named Maria Jesus, gathering all kinds of testimonials about how she coped with the leukemia that ultimately killed her. This is either: a valid way to cope with the death of a young child, a creepy post-mortem "sanctification" of said Ill Girl, or even an attempt from her relatives and the writer to get profit by selling books about her life. (like Cassie Bernall's "martyrdom".) Though there's no doubt that it sucked to be Maria Jesus.
  • Laura and Eileen from "Laura and the Silver Wolf" both have leukemia.
  • Alice in A. Sapkowski's "Złote Popołudnie" ("Golden Afternoon"), a retelling of "Alice in Wonderland" from Cheshire Cat's POV. In this version Alice's visit in Wonderland is in fact her Dying Dream after drinking laudanum instead of her cold medication. She does get better.
  • Annie in Connie Willis's Lincolns Dreams is plagued by nightmares and a heart condition.
  • Gabrielle Gabrielson in The Story of Gabrielle by her mother Catherine. Published as a Real Life story, although there's no background info to verify it. Gabrielle, the brilliant and Spoiled Sweet little daughter of a well-to-do New England couple, begins complaining of stomach pain. She informs her mother that the pain is incurable and will eventually kill her. She's right. While most of her doctors think she has hepatitis and a few dismiss her as play-acting, a tiny "shadow" on the x-ray troubles the youngest doctor enough to call for an exploratory. He finds a gigantic, malignant cancer at the base of her spine. Catherine records Gaby's last weeks, her strange speeches and experiences as the cancer invades her brain, and her quiet death. All of this takes place in a hospital, which seems unlikely until you remember this was the 1940s and people could actually afford this level of health care.
  • Cadpig from The Hundred and One Dalmatians by Dodie Smith, who was born nearly dead and revived, and is significantly weaker than her siblings throughout the book, requiring special provisions to be made for the journey back to London.
  • Sister Edith from Selma Lagerlof's "Thy soul shall bear witness!", a Salvation Army membress who caught an Incurable Cough of Death while at work and has a single wish to be fulfilled: to speak with a man named David Holm, whom she has tried to redeem. Little does she know that David has died and his soul has forcibly made into the rider of the Death Cart, so he can see how he has ruined other people's lives. As such, David is the one who fetches Edith's soul — thus sorta fulfilling her wish.
  • In Gene Stratton Porter's Michael O'Halloran, Peaches, the crippled girl.
  • The Fault in Our Stars is practically centered arond this trope. Hazel is a prime example, although her disease is clearly known from the opening chapter.

Live-Action TV

  • The episode Awakened of Charmed revolves around Prue and Phoebe discovering that Piper is terminally ill with the disease Oroya Fever. While real life symptoms of Oroya Fever include being covered in warts and rashes, Piper only experiences coughing, exhaustion, and fainting, all done adorably. Of course, being the main character, Piper survives, but not until after the crying and good-byes.
  • The titular Esmeralda of phenomenally popular telenovela Esmeralda is born blind. This is later revealed to be due to congenital cataracts and she successfully regains her sight after an operation. It is interesting to note how her personality switches from sweet and gentle while blind to tough, stubborn and unforgiving almost overnight.
    • The female lead from Chilean telenovela Corazon de Maria is an upper class Ill Girl with a severe Heart Trauma. She gets a heart transplant coming from a middle-to-low class bride killed in a tragic car accident right after her wedding. The drama starts when she starts searching for the donor Maria's family, and then she meets and falls for her handsome and hard-working husband Miguel...
    • Alicia, a cute young girl in a wheelchair from Maria La Del Barrio. The scene where the Big Bad Soraya threatens her while screaming "MADITA LISIADA!" ("Goddamned crippled bitch!") is so ridiculous and overacted that it has reached Memetic Mutation levels.
  • Perfect example found in the story of River Tam from Firefly, a young girl who is a schizophrenic empath as a result of extensive neurological modification/experimentation done to her by a shadowy, government-affiliated military research facility. Her older brother, Simon, gives up his life as a successful doctor and makes them both federal fugitives when he breaks her out of captivity. The siblings are forced to live on the outskirts of society in order to avoid capture, and Simon spends much of his time and resources in his efforts to find a treatment to help restore River to her former self.
    • In true Ill Girl fashion, it is also implied that there's no real possibility for River to ever be cured of her insanity; the best that can be done is short-term chemical treatments, as the damage to her brain is extensive and her body eventually rejects any drugs used to help her. Even after the events of The Movie, its not made clear whether she's fully healed or has only partially recovered.
    • Another good Firefly example was recently revealed to be Inara Serra, resident Oiran.
  • Drusilla from Buffy the Vampire Slayer is frail and weak when she first appears on the series. She was believed to have been killed by a mob in Prague, but apparently was only severely injured (How that mistake happens with a creature that turns to dust when killed is anyone's guest), to the point that normal vampiric healing couldn't restore her. Spike manages to restore her to full health by draining power off of Angel.
    • Darla was a high class prostitute suffering from syphilys and waiting for her death. Then the Master gave her a visit.
  • Jane Seymour on The Tudors, another case of Truth in Television.
  • Shannon (Maggie Grace) from Lost, who is asthmatic and needs to have an inhalator handy. Sawyer once stole her medicine and tried to use it to bargain...
    • Juliet's sister is an Ill Girl whose cancer and resulting infertility is what drove Juliet to do some rather... illegal things as a fertility doctor. When Juliet goes to the island, she is afraid to leave her sister alone, but, with typical ill girl sweetness, her sister convinces her to go.
  • A much harsher example in One Liter of Tears .
  • Scully takes on this role for a season in The X-Files after it is revealed that the tests preformed on her during her abduction have left her with (probably terminal) cancer. In accordance with the conventions of the trope, her appearance is relatively unaffected by the illness, and the only visible symptom is a Deadly Nosebleed.


  • The song "Love You to Death" by Kamelot is about one of these.
  • Kamei Eri had decided to quit Morning Musume due to a long term illness, though it's not a life threatening condition.


  • Mimi in just about every version of La Bohème And, yes, despite dying of consumption she's still "beautiful as the dawn" on death's door.
  • Fosca from the Stephen Sondheim musical Passion suffers from a conveniently vague illness that waxes and wanes according to her mood, but does nothing to make her more attractive; in a notable subversion of the "consumptive heroine" version of the trope, she's ugly, demanding, self-pitying, and doesn't inspire protectiveness in those around her so much as exasperation and mild disgust.
  • The illness of Eva Peron (see Real Life below) is glamorized in the musical Evita. She's made to look beautiful and fragile. Photos of the real Eva Peron from this period show that her beauty was quickly fading.
  • The point of Radium Girls, especially Grace and Kathryn who appear throughout the play. The worst part is that it's based on a true story (see Real Life).
  • Audrey is never diagnosed with anything, but she "is not a healthy girl" and, thanks to being regularly beaten senseless by her boyfriend, has "a black eye...and several other medical problems." Just when it looks like she's getting better, she's mortally wounded by a giant plant.

Video Games

  • Castille from Phantom Brave
  • Muse from Romancing SaGa 3. Surprisingly enough, she is one of the better characters to recruit after she is cured of her sickness.
  • Subverted in Super Robot Wars: Original Generation: Ryusei's mother is an adult example, but it's due to a military project she used to work on as a psychic destroying her body. Her son has ended up being "recruited" by the same project in exchange for paying for her hospital bills.
  • Silent Hill 2 has Mary, a rare adult example. Naturally, she has the Incurable Cough of Death, too. The real rarity is the fact that she dies before the start of the game and is only seen and heard in flashbacks or maybe not.
  • Breath of Fire 3 subverts this during the Contest of Champions. Emitai, one of the competitors, visits the heroes before their bout (which is weighed against him due to its rules) and introduces them to his daughter; he claims to be in the contest to earn her an operation that will cure her disease, and asks them to throw the fight. As one of the heroes is being held hostage, they refuse. After the match, however, if you visit Emitai's dressing room, you learn that it was a giant fraud on his part to get his opponents to forfeit. Just to make this clear, after the midgame time skip, you can find Emitai again (and recruit him as a master); his daughter has grown up and is rather embarrassed with him.
  • In Advance Wars: Days of Ruin, Isabella/Catleia fills this role early on due to being infected with the mysterious floral virus. Will/Ed is the one to cares for her most, but because the virus only affects younger people, he'd be in danger if he was around her too much. Due to her strange memories, the crew manages to find a cure for it. Unfortunately, the virus later evolves to be able to affect matures as well.
  • Heather the Ghoul from the Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines game practically embodies this trope. First, you have to save her life when she lies dying in a hospital. Then, when she finds you again, she acts so cute and affectionate, you just have to have a heart of stone to send her away. Then, she starts making you small presents and other pleasant things, like letting you feed on her blood, free of charge, etc. Of course, most of her behavior is determined by her condition (by turning her into your ghoul, you bind her to yourself and your blood becomes a powerful, addictive drug for her) but that doesn't diminish her cuteness even one bit. Trust me. That she is a Meganekko and a potential Cosplay Otaku Girl doesn't exactly help, either... It Gets Worse, however, for if you don't send her away, at some point she is gonna be kidnapped and murdered as an act of revenge upon you.
  • Subverted by Raquel in Wild Arms 4. While she's slowly dying of an unknown disease in her body that's greatly implied to be radiation poisoning, it doesn't stop her from becoming a badass swordswoman and one of the most powerful characters in the game.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Tyler Chase's little sister Amy is infected with the Deftera GUILT two years prior to the first Trauma Center, and eventually goes into critical condition in Chapter 3. Derek operates on her and cures her, thus removing her status as Ill Girl.
  • From the Tales (series), Colette from Tales of Symphonia, who ends up suffering from a couple various ailments, the first being Angel Toxicosis Actually is pain from her soul being consumed by the Cruxis Crystal, as part of the World Regeneration Journey, and the second Chronic Angeleus Crystallius Inofficium actually does disfigure her (In the one cutscene where it's visible) and you spend a while (half of disc 2) getting the cure for her.
    • Cheria starts Tales of Graces like this, but she gets better when Asbel returns.
  • Tomoki in Canvas 2. However, the surgery she needs is actually quite easy and not that expensive. Not even that risky. She's actually afraid it will work and she'll be lonely.
  • Mary/Maki Sonomura in Persona is introduced as an Ill Girl, but when demons arrive to the scene, she suddenly got back up. Turns out this healthy Mary is the 'Ideal Mary', imagined by the real, ill Mary, who dreamed of her own world where one of the aspects there is that she's healthy, and by some complicated means, it's coming to take over reality.
  • Yasumi Aizawa in Aoi Shiro Until it turns out she just needed a little blood.
  • Jessica from Mana Khemia Alchemists of Al Revis. One alchemist, who turns out to be The Hero's "father", sort of, tried treating her. . . but while it worked, it was at cost of her life energy. In short, she got better, but her life was cut in half at least.
  • Fana from Avalon Code. Interesting in that you can actually heal her by removing the illness code attached to her, but this requires a series of related plot events, as you can't just pluck out the code and slap it on something else (codes with this property are marked with spiked borders).
  • Ameena from Star Ocean Till the End of Time, who's also an Expy of another flower-selling girl. It ends even worse than this implies.
  • In the Tokimeki Memorial series, there's Mio Kisaragi of Tokimemo 1, who suffers from anemia and thus and can't handle violent physical activities and emotions, and Hotaru Izumi of Tokimemo 3, who had to stay for a long time at the hospital, and still suffers from some aftereffects, due to a car accident a few years prior the game's proper, which also cost the life of her dear boyfriend.
  • In Mitsumete Knight, the Spiritual Successor of Tokimeki Memorial, the resident Ill Girl is Sarah Pixis ; she suffers from a heart disease that prevents her to go outside, and the Asian (the player avatar) gets to meet her as his private teacher. Other Ill Girls are Sophia's estranged mother and little brother, Dolphan's Queen, as well as Teddie Adelaide, Sarah's nurse and friend, who suffers from the same heart disease as her and thus why the two are close.
  • Yonah from Nie R, who is infected with the Black Scrawl Virus, prompting her father/brother (depending on which version you buy) to go out and fight his way to finding a cure. Later on, it is revealed that Kaine is also infected.
  • Patchouli Knowledge from Touhou is really sick. She suffers from asthma, anemia, and Vitamin A deficiency because of her refusal to leave the library she lives in for centuries[2]. This is used to justify her occasionally-differing power level; when she's an Extra Boss in one game, she explains beforehand that her asthma has cleared up.
  • In the JRPG Lost Odyssey the player can acquire an ingame codex entry of the maincharacters past experiences. One in particular centers around an Ill Girl whom liked to hear his stories of far off places when ever he stopped by. The codex ends with the last encounter with this Ill Girl has her comatosed and on the brink of dying when he arrives to tell her one last final story.
  • Occurs a couple of times in the Growlanser series:
    • Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice includes Charlone's younger brother in this role.
    • Growlanser 3 has this as part of The Dragon's motivation to side with the Big Bad.
    • Growlan
  • Professor Layton and the Last Specter has Arianna; she is cured a year after the events of the story.

Visual Novels

  • Miku in A Profile as a result of a slightly botched liver transplant.
  • Toko in Kara no Shoujo is anemic and spends a lot of time sleeping. She also requires some special medicine. All in all, though, it's not too bad until Mizuhara thinks it's some sort of drug, steals it and Toko ends up getting hit by a truck when she passes out.
  • Ever17 features two: Yubiseiharukana (the You from Takeshi's path) who has a terminal heart condition and Coco Yagami who has Tief Blau.
  • In Fate/stay night 'Heaven's Feel' arc, Sakura is revealed to be this, due to the stress of the Matou family's crest worms becoming more active. Shirou has a treatment for her, at least temporarily.
  • Miyu from Crescendo. And she does of it.
  • Every single character in Katawa Shoujo; in fact, the game started out as an attempt by The Imageboard That Must Not Be Named to create the videogame with the highest Ill Girl count possible. Though ironically enough, only the male protagonist's condition is actually life-threatening.
    • An April's Fools Joke introduced two girls who do have life-threatening illnesses: Rika (who has a weak heart not unlike Hisao) and Saki (whose spinocerebellar ataxia will ultimately cause her death)
  • The eponymous Kana from Kana: Little Sister. The cause of her disease is clearly stated: kidney failure. The game also features Sumako and Cana. Two of the three die.
  • Key Visual Arts has at least one, sometimes more, in every game (except Planetarian, because a Robot Ill Girl wouldn't really work):
    • Kanon has Shiori (who ironically isn't the most severely ill member of the cast).
    • Clannad has Nagisa and Fuko.
    • AIR has Misuzu.
    • Little Busters! has Mio. Or does it?
    • Key uses this trope so often that fans have started jokingly referring to any Soap Opera Disease as KeyAIDS.
  • Yuzuha in Utawarerumono, who is actually something of a MacGuffin - her brother Oboro's theft of the outrageously expensive medicine she needs to survive is the start of a chain of events which snowball into an international war.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni has Jessica Ushiromiya, who's a very atypical case - an asthmatic Tsundere who later on becomes a Cute Bruiser. However, early on, she tends to have very poorly-timed attacks that make her something of a Badass in Distress. It's later revealed that Jessica partially faked some of these attacks to make herself look more helpless than she truly was, in order to distract her enemies. Pity it didn't always work.
    • Ange counts, she's said to be quite sickly and a serious cold is what prevents her from going to the 1986 family conference.
  • Played with in Ef: A Fairy Tale of the Two.: Chihiro Shindou doesn't spend almost any time bedridden or hospitalized, but she still suffers the serious consequences of having been hit by a car three years prior to the story ( the loss of an eye that she covers with a white eyepatch, and retrograde amnesia that takes effect every 13 hours), so she requires to be taken care of.
    • In short: Chihiro is an Ill Girl turning into a Bandage Babe when she got better.
  • Da Capo II:
    • There is a double example in one route: Anzu. Said girl was the first to fall ill, then comes the protagonist boy's turn. They both spoon spoonfeed soup to each other when the other one lies sick in bed.
    • In another route, there is Yuzu.
  • Canvas 2 gives the role to Tomoko, but she stopped being one by the end of her route.
  • eden* they were only two, on the planet centers around a 100 year old genetically engineered sick girl Sion.
  • When Haruka from Rumbling Hearts wakes up from a three-year coma, the consequences of the accident that left her comatose include her being barely able to walk on her own, catching fevers easily... and a HUGE case of Trauma-Induced Amnesia that leads her to believe that no time has passed. And her loved ones (her parents, her boyfriend Takayuki aka the Player Character her best friend Mitsuki, her sister Akane, etc.) must pretend that no time has really passed, since her doctor believes that the shock of finding out will actually kill her. . .

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • Parodied in the Animaniacs movie, where a sickly Dot needs money for an operation. At the end of the movie, it turns out that all the operation was was receiving a beauty mark to make her even cuter.
  • Subverted on The Batman. A scientist working for Wayne Industries claims to be studying bats so he can cure his niece's deafness. Bruce Wayne goes to see the girl and give her a hearing aid... and she turns out not to be deaf. The scientist was actually studying bats because he was obsessed with Batman, and he eventually managed to turn himself into "Manbat".
    • This is the reason why Victor Fries, better known as Mr. Freeze, constantly has to commit crimes in most of his appearances in Batman the Animated Series and related media: His wife, Nora Fries, is suffering from a terminal disease, causing him to put her in cryogenic stasis until his research allows him to develop a cure for her ailment. Unfortunately, in order to do so, he ended up having to illegally appropriate research materials from Ferris Boyle, the Corrupt Corporate Executive of GothCorp, resulting in him being kicked into his own formula and deformed into Mr. Freeze. In his next appearance, he was taken by a deranged theme park person and has to help this person in exchange for allowing him to get Nora's miraculously survived cryogenic tank. He only stopped serving him when Batman points out that this is not what Nora would have wanted.
  • Played straight in Jem and The Holograms: In the three-part "Starbright" storyline, the Holograms keep on going with a movie shoot the Misfits have bought themselves into because they need money for an operation to save Starlight Girl Ba Nee's sight. Ultimately the production splits into rival films, and when the Holograms' is a hit, the money is raised and Ba Nee is saved.
  • In the Christmas Special Santa Claus is Comin' to Town, Kris Kringle gets the bright idea to enter locked houses through their chimneys largely because he has to deliver a toy Noah's Ark to "Susan, a tiny little girl who was very very sick."
  • Janice, the main character of the Peanuts special Why, Charlie Brown, Why? She's a friend of Linus's who is diagnosed with leukemia.
    • And also Lila, Snoopy's previous owner in "Snoopy Comes Home." The reason why Snoopy wants to come back to her is because he has learned that she's lonely and depressed in the hospital.
  • Michelle from Once Upon a Forest becomes comatose after inhaling toxic fumes from a gas leak, and her friends have to search the wilderness to Find the Cure.
  • In Rugrats, Chuckie's Missing Mom Melinda was one and she died few after he was born.


Real Life

  • Virginia Poe. Subverted in that 1) They knew exactly what she had, and 2) it was a foregone conclusion. (Debatably. Some say that if Edgar hadn't been such a starving artist, he might have been able to pay well enough to help her recover). As it is, she lasted years. This showed up a lot in his works as a result.
  • The trope is very common among female Catholic venerables, blesseds, saints and visionaries. Some of them are:
    • Waif Prophet Saint Gemma Carolina Galgani. To start, she got her bad health from her mother Aurelia who died when she just seven years old. Young Gemma's health in itself which was so bad that she had to leave school and later was rejected by the Passionists when she wanted to become a nun. At age 20 she had spinal meningitis (which according to her was cured through prayers to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the then-Venerable Saint Gabriel Of Our Lady Of Sorrows and Saint Marie Marguerite Alacoque) and died of tuberculosis at age 25. Aside of that, her visions and health made her the victim of bullying from lots of people (even from her little sister Angelina, whose testimony was rejected during the canonization process since she was accused of trying to get monetary profit from Gemma's body relics): they thought that not only she was useless for her Ill Girl status, but that she also was a nutjob.
    • The aforementioned Saint Marie Marguerite Alacoque. She was bed-ridden for four years and, allegedly, was healed as soon as she vowed to take up the habit and consecrate herself to Jesus.
    • Blessed Jacinta Marto, one of the Fatima visionaries and another Waif Prophet. She and her Ill Boy older brother Francisco died in the great influenza epidemic in Europe. And her lonely death is reported to have been *real* sad.
    • Saint Bernadette Soubirous, visionary of Lourdes. She was a survivor of cholera as a little girl, had asthma as a side-effect, and finally died of very painful bone tuberculosis when in her 30's.
    • Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich, bed-ridden for eleven years.
    • Blessed Alexandrina Maria da Costa, also bed-ridden after taking a bad fall while running away from a rapist.
    • Venerable Pauline-Marie Jaricot, allegedly healed from a heart disease by the intervention of her favorite saint, Philomena of Mugnano.
    • Maria Valtorta, Catholic writer and poet. At age 23 she got beaten up with an iron rod by a Delinquent, and while at first she seemed to be okay, years later her back showed far more damage than it was believed to have, confining her to bed for 28 years.
    • Sister Agnes Katsuko Sasagawa, a Japanese nun from the Yuzuwadai prefecture in Akita, who would become the main witness in the Marian Apparition known as Our Lady of Akita. Ever since a poorly-performed operation, Sister Sasagawa had many health problems that got her paralyzed and later deaf; her health improved after drinking some holy water from Lourdes, and her deafness was finally healed in the eighties (though it's not a sure thing that it was a miracle healing).
    • Therese Neumann. As a child she sustained quite the injuries when she took a bad fall from a stool, years later she was rendered blind and confined to her bed due to her injured back and limbs. Allegedly recovered her sight and later her mobility due to the intervention of her favorite saint, Saint Therese of Lisieux; later she got appendicitis but was said to have been miraculously cured right before being operated. OTOH, the then-healthy Therese would develop stigmata, and later led a hard life during the Third Reich and World War Two, with the Gestapo keeping an eye on her and attacking her friends and family since she openly critisized the Nazi regime but was so popular among German people that they couldn't attack her directly.
    • Saint Lidwina of Schiedam, a Dutch minor noblewoman who at age 15 was paralyzed and confined to a bed after an accident while ice skating, then became a famous holy woman and faith healer. It's said that, among other things, "she became paralyzed except for her left hand and that great pieces of her body fell off, and that blood poured from her mouth, ears, and nose", and said body parts were supposedly stored and then lost. (And sadly, it's also known that she was sexually abused to different degrees, either by soldiers or local priests). It's believed that Lidwina was likely affected by multiple sclerosis, rather than mere damage taken by her fall.
    • Venerable Antonietta "Nennolina" Meo, who had bone cancer and even lost a leg for it before dying (but allegedly saw it as a sacrifice to God) and wrote many letters to Jesus Christ before passing away.
    • Estelle Faguette, a French housekeeper who became the main visionary of Our Lady of Pellevoisin when she was apparently hours away from dying of her terminal tuberculosis. Her recovery was pretty much miraculous and she lived several decades from then on.
  • Older example of sorts: Katsura Hoshino, the author of D.Gray-man. Her bad health is speculated to be the reason why she takes lots of breaks between work.
  • Yuko Miyamura (Asuka, Larxene, Casca) had to temporarily retire from voice acting due to Graves's disease.
  • Eva Duarte de Perón aka "Evita" is an older version, as she died of cancer at age 33.
  • The Radium Girls, girls who painted glow in the dark watches with radium paint in a factory, some starting as young as 15. Upon realizing the they had gotten severe radiation poisoning, five of them sued their employers and became a media sensation in the 1920s.
  • Mangaka Minami Ohzaki from Zetsuai 1989, who had to completely halt the manga for years because of her health.
  • Another mangaka, Kyouko Okazaki, became a horror version of this after being hit by a car in 1996. The poor woman had such injuries that she was left quadraplejic AND mute, and she's still in rehab after almost 20 years. Her assistant Moyoco Anno (wife of that Anno) had to finish her horror manga Helter Skelter.
  • Gundam SEED and Gundam SEED Destiny script writer Chiaki Morosawa, who was afflicted with a nasty combo of cancer and depression. She died in 2016.
  • Esther Earl, an influential and inspiring Nerdfighter was one of these. She suffered from cancer for four years and died earlier this year (2010) at age 16. As you can see from her videos, she was as sweet and hopeful a person as any fictional example.
  • Kazuya Minekura, the author of Saiyuki. First she had an undiclosed illness that made her have to go through an hysterectomy, and later had a tumor removed from her jaw.
  • Sadako Sasaki was two years old when an atom bomb was dropped one mile from her home in Hiroshima. Her story was memorialized in the book Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which was inspired by the belief that if a person managed to fold a thousand paper cranes, they would be granted a wish from the gods. She died at the age of 12.

Male Examples

Anime and Manga

  • Captain Jushiro Ukitake from Bleach may fit this trope. He's been suffering from tuberculosis all his life, which makes him spew blood if he exerts himself too much, turned his hair white, and causes him to spend most of his time in bed. (Although since he's over two thousand years old, it's obvious he isn't dying from it... Unless he's dying very, very slowly). It's eventually revealed that he was alive solely because of a Living Shadow named Mimihagi-sama, and he performs an Heroic Sacrifice to save Soul Society via using Mimihagi to become a male Barrier Maiden.
  • Oddly enough, Mai Tokiha's brother Takumi from Mai-HiME and Mai-Otome manages to fit this trope while also being a domestic type (at least in the former show), and is inordinately fond of his older sibling.
  • The Prince of Tennis has Rikkaidai captain Seiichi Yukimura. Ironically, his slender frame and long hair give Yukimura an almost feminine outlook. And when he gets better, he's revealed to be the gentlest, politest and more softspoken person outside of the courts... and a Knight Templar Magnificent Bastard inside of them.
    • A further subversion is that Yukimura does in fact have a specific illness (Guillain-Barré syndrome, a disease of the nervous syndrome) which led to some fan complaints after he recovered, because this condition is incurable.
      • Handwaved in an author's note, apparently: he does not suffer of Guillain-Barré, but of a similar illness... which of course is not mentioned.
    • And his Ill Boy condition is spoofed mercilessly in the Chibi episodes, where he collapses and dies every five seconds much to Sanada's despair. "YUKIMURAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!", indeed.
  • Captain Tsubasa:
  • Rosette Christopher's brother Joshua in Chrono Crusade was plagued by constant seizures when he was a child — made even more frustrating by the fact that they came alongside healing abilities that were completely ineffective on himself. It's this that drove him to accept Chrono's horns from Aion, completely unaware that they would drive him completely insane.
  • Prayer Reverie of Gundam SEED X Astray, who'd almost count as a Littlest Cancer Patient if he weren't capable of hopping into a Humongous Mecha and kicking ass.
  • Hayate Gekko from Naruto, who looks pale and sickly and has a huge Incurable Cough of Death. Again, he died, but his illness isn't the cause. He heard the plans of Orochimaru and the Sunagakure people and paid for it.
    • A villainous example is Kimimaro Kaguya from the Sound Five.
    • Also Itachi turns out to be one.
  • Played with in UFO Robo Grendizer. Duke Fleed/Daisuke Umon is an Ill Boy who's actually dying of radiation poisoning... and the lead character
  • An ill baby boy is Ivan Whisky aka Cyborg 001 from Cyborg 009. His enhancements somewhat cure or slowen his illness, but he's now trapped in the body of a baby forever. On the other hand, he's now a very powerful psychic.
  • Akira Sohma, Akito's father in Fruits Basket. As said above, he might have been ill due to having been the God of the Zodiac, as it's said that all the leaders/Gods of the Sohma clan die young.
    • To a smaller degree, Yuki Sohma. He has asthma and sometimes has stress-triggered attacks, though these were more serious in his childhood.
  • Luna's sort-of temporary love interest in the Sailor Moon S movie (and in a side-story of the manga) was an ill boy Hot Scientist named Kakeru Ohzora. The MacGuffin of the movie (a crystal belonging to the Big Bad, Princess Kaguya), which is in his possession, saps his Life Energy away as the movie passes. He gets better, of course
    • Also, Mamoru Chiba spent the last part of the Super S season as an ill boy as the Dead Moon Circus takes over ther Earth more and more, which causes him great physical pain and weakness since, as Prince Endymion, he's the equivalent of Sailor Earth. When the Circus is banished away, he gets better.
  • The Ikki Tousen manga has a Kakuka from Kyoushou High's Power Trio, who is healthy in the anime. Also, Ryoumou's Unlucky Childhood Friend Teifu is a crippled AND blind boy.
  • Kenneth "Ken" Robbins from Kaleido Star. His dream was to participate in the Kaleido Stage as one of the acrobats, but since he got a weak heart, he mostly does staff job. Later in the series, he does some acting as well, but not with any life-risking acrobacies.
  • Subverted in Code Geass R2. Lelouch's opponent and later ally Li Xingke has an Incurable Cough of Death and might not live for long, but remains an excellent pilot and strategist. He makes it to the end of the series, but it's hinted that he may have passed away after the Zero Requiem.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam The 08th MS Team has Ghinias Saharin as an Ill Mad Scientist. A popular Fanon theory is that he has Wilson's disease; at least his sympthoms seem to more or lesds match
  • Another adult ill boy is Kenshin's Big Brother Mentor Takasugi Shinsaku, from the Rurouni Kenshin Tsukiokuhen OAV. Based on the Real Life samurai of the same name, who also was an ill boy. Both were affected with tuberculosis. Neither the real nor the fictional Takasugi lived enough to see the beginning of the Meiji restoration.
    • Kenshin also faced the fearsome Shinsengumi swordsman Souji Okita, who also had consumption and at times is seen coughing up blood as he fights. Again, he's all but shouted to have died of his illness.
  • Romeo's commoner friend Petruccio from Romeo X Juliet, afflicted with what's all but stated to be turberculosis. He dies in Romeo's arms in the same episode he's introduced.
  • In After War Gundam X we have Caris Nautilus, a Well-Intentioned Extremist who made a sort-of Deal with the Devil to become an artificial Newtype. It goes really, really bad for him.
  • Tomokane's older brother in GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class. He apparently spent more time in the nurse's office than his own classroom, to the level that teachers fear his attendance would be the major obstacle in college admissions. Of course, he and his Bokukko younger sister make an (uncordial) example of Sibling Yin-Yang.
    • He also exploits this trope to avoid punishment from, say, mentally bullying his sister as he's often seen to be too frail to be physically punished.
  • Aslan Battour in the Backstory arc of Kaze to Ki no Uta (in the main timeline he's already dead) seems to be a deliberate male version of the werstern "consumptive heroine" archetype; a young, pretty 19th century French aristocrat suffering from tuberculosis.
  • Subverted and parodied mercilessly by the manga-only character of Densuke in Ranma ½. He is a sickly, bedridden boy who muses that he will die by the time the last persimmon falls from the tree outside his window... cue female Ranma coming by with a huge sack to pick all the persimmons herself. Densuke's illness is never specified, however, he is relatively healthy (if abnormally weak) and all it would take to cure him is a single dose of a powdered medicine. He refuses to take it, though, unless delivered mouth-to-mouth by a pretty nurse.
    • Parodied earlier in both the Manga and the anime by the "ill boy" who insisted on keeping Genma (in his Panda form) as a pet. It turns out he isn't sick, just lazy (and spoiled.)
  • In Detective Conan, Eisuke Hondou's important backstories were all when he was hospitalized; first due to leukuemia and then due to an accident. In the first case, he was saved due to his older sister's marrow donation, which changed his blood type, and later led Conan to find out that said sister is a mole in the Black Organization-
    • Also, for some reason, Ai Orikasa played two One-Scene Wonder Ill Boys in this series:
      • Seiji Asou from the Moonlight Sonata case used to be this as a young boy. In fact, when he was hospitalised in Tokyo, his family (including his father, a famous pianist) was killed in strange circumstances, related to the authorities from the island he grew up in and the shady dealings they had with his dad. For the rest of the story, see Harmless Lady Disguise.
      • Hiroki Sawada of the Non-Serial Movie The Phantom of Baker Street — but not at all related to the plot. And that's not what killed him, either.
  • Lasse Aeon from Gundam 00 was healthy in the first season, but in the second one he had quite the Incurable Cough of Death. It was apparently a consequence of the injuries he suffered in his battle with Alejandro Corner.
  • Dennou Coil, which seems to enjoy gender-flipping a number of traditional shonen anime roles, has a sick boy in the form of Kenichi "Haraken" Harakawa. He suffers from fainting spells and some kind of poorly-defined heart flutter that may or may not have to do with his investigations into the mysterious Illegals.
  • Yoite of Nabari no Ou. And how.
  • Arthur/England from Axis Powers Hetalia takes up the role briefly in the episodes featuring The Grim Reaper.
    • Also Antonio/Spain, when his economy is in a terrible state and he gets a cold because of it.
    • According to Word of God, Roderich/Austria spent some years in a wheelchair.
    • A strip has the teenaged Holy Roman Empire, who collapses coughing at some point and must be carried away by Elisabeta/Hungary.
  • Dr. Kuro Hazama aka Black Jack, thanks to the hidden field mine that went BOOM on him and his mom, killing Mrs. Hazama and severely injuring him. Of course, he also attends many ill boys and girls as well; in fact, regular character Sharaku was introduced as one in the 2004 series, since he and his sister Wakou join the cast after BJ has to operate on him in the first episode.
  • Suzu's best friend Seishuu in The Twelve Kingdoms got a head injury as a little child, in the same incident with monsters that got his mother killed. As a consecquence, he sustained brain damage and suffers constant headaches. He later goes blind as a side-effect, which gets him killed when he cannot see a carriage going towards him and gets hit point-blank.
  • Masataka's little brother Mitsugu from Sakura Gari. He has a weak heart, barely survives Spanish influenza, and later gets pneumonia. Ouch.
  • Kyousuke Kamijou from Puella Magi Madoka Magica was a talented violinist who was involved in an accident, thus we meet him in the hospital and see that his arm was injured to the point that he won't be able to play anymore. The manga goes further by directly showing his horrible scars. Sayaka, Madoka's best friend who fancies Kamijou, becomes a Magical Girl and uses her wish to heal him so he can play again. And then It Gets Worse.
  • Sho from The Borrower Arrietty. He tells Arrietty he has always been ill and can't play with other kids. The reason he is currently staying at his aunt's place is because he is getting an operation on his heart.
  • Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi has two of these: one is the protagonist's little brother and the other a random village kid.
  • Friederich Brandel from Honoo no Alpen Rose aka Jeudi's Disappeared Dad. In a subversion, a good part of his horrible health comes as a consequence of a terrible accident he was involved into... and he dies of it, pretty much right after having been reunited with Jeudi.
  • Michio Yuki from MW. Not only the titular chemical warfare turned him into a monster beyond redemption, but also gives him occasional headaches, getting hospitalized at one point, and only a few years left to live.
  • Yayoi from Loveless, which seems to be the result of severe athsma.
  • Heartcatch Pretty Cure has a very interesting case - Itsuki's older brother Satsuki is severely ill and that maker Itsuki completely determined to take over their grandfather's dojo, leading her to become a Wholesome Crossdresser. It isn't until halfway through the series that Satsuki is cured via a risky operation, leading to Itsuki to start abandoning her role, accept more girlish things and, of course, be the Third Precure.
  • A few characters in Another have this: Kouichi Sakakibara has pneumothorax (collapsed lung, which it makes him hospitalized for almost a month at the start of the story, making him miss his first day at his new school; Ikuo Takabayashi has a heart condition and it takes away his life, and Daisuke Wakui is asthmatic.
  • Aim for the Ace! has Coach Jin Munakata, who retired from tennis in the height of his career after being not only diagnosed with leukemia, but being told that it's already in the fatal stage. So he decides to find a worthy successor among high school players, leading him to Hiromi... Even more so, he actually dies onscreen/on page.
  • One could say that, at the end of Kyojin no Hoshi, Hyuuma Hoshi becomes one of the first big examples of the "sportsman who isn't ill but does have a very serious injury" variation so common in Sports Manga. The first part of Shin Kyojin no Hoshi depicts how he starts getting better via re-learning how to use his right hand rather than his injured left one..
    • Shin Kyojin no Hoshi II has Akira, a young man who wants to be a sportsman but cannot due to his health.
  • Innocents Shounen Juujigun has one of Etienne's companions in the Children's Crusade, Remy, who has the kind and gentle personality... but NOT the looks, since his illness is leprosy. Still, he joins the group in hopes to find a cure. By the time the poor boy dies, his body is pretty much falling apart.
  • Rose of Versailles has Louis and Marie Antoinette's second child and the Dauphin of France, Louis Joseph. It's Truth in Television: the real Louis Joseph was this as well, "thanks" to his tuberculosis. And the poor boy dies of it.
  • In Zeta Gundam, poor Kamille Bidan's health takes a nosedive after the final battle and Scirocco's Mind Rape of a "parting gift". The guy is seen in a borderline catatonic state, can barely react to near anything around him, and when he does... he acts in strange and hard to decipher ways, mostly using his still active Psychic Powers to "talk" to others. At the very end, however, it's seen that he got more or less better.
  • An episode of Great Mazinger has Tetsuya and Jun befriending a boy named Youichi, who turns out to be severely ill due to radiation poisoning.. Even more, he actually dies from it.
  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba:
    • Kagaya Ubuyashiki, the Demon Corps leader, is a Non-Action Guy because he's been hit by an Hereditary Curse that left him blind, completely deformed his face, and is slowly and painfully killing him.
    • Lady Tamayo's assistant, Yuushirou, was severely ill before she made him a demon in an attempt to save his life.
    • A certain Arc Villain (Rui) was this. Then, Muzan paid him a visit like in Tamayo's case. . .
    • In the Mugen Train arc, one of the Train's passengers is a boy with tuberculosis who's already in the fatal stage. Enmu, the Arc Villain, convinces him to be his pawn and help him trap the heroes, under the promise of giving him a Lotus-Eater Machine dream where he'll forget that he's about to die. He has a change of heart, however, and decides to aid Tanjiro instead.
    • Hakuji aka Akaza's father, too. And he committed an Heroic Suicide in an attempt to keep Hakuji from resorting to a life of crime for him.
    • The most important one, plot-wise, is Muzan Kibutsuji himself. He almost died before birth, then almost perished right after being born, and then he was not expected to live past his 20's. But the blue spider lily medicine that a doctor made for him made him a demon...

Comic Books

  • X-Men: Abraham Kieros was a Vietnam War veteran who ended up horribly crippled and pretty much abandoned in an hospital. Then, he takes a Deal with the Devil from Apocalypse and becomes his follower, War I. After the group is disbanded Kieros is paralyzed again, but some time later he was healed by his fellow ex-Horseman Archangel.
  • A Canadian boy named James Howlett once was this, but when his mutant powers kicked in (and a massive Trauma Conga Line hit him) he became none other than... Wolverine.

Fan Fiction

  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic Three Years At Sea, Zuko was "sickly" for most of his childhood, making him appear even weaker in comparison to Azula in his father's eyes.
  • Lance Wabisuke-Hamilton from One Piece Parallel Works has a mysterious illness that causes him to fall asleep at random times and makes him physically weak. However, Word of God states that Lance's condition is not life-threatning.




  • Ayase / Time Blue from Mirai Sentai Timeranger suffered from the incurable Osiris Syndrome throughout the entire series. However, after time has been altered near the finale, a cure for his disease is found.
  • Jayne Cobb from Firefly faithfully sends money home to treat his ill brother Mattie's damp lung disease.

Video Games

  • Growlanser II: The Sense of Justice has a female character whose younger brother is an ill boy. And yes, there is a mysterious "operation" that can cure him, and this provides that character's main motivation. In a slight variation on the usual plot, the character's family is very wealthy and can easily afford the operation, but the Ill Boy is afraid to go through with it because it is reputed to be extremely painful. (Maybe the Magitek of the setting doesn't include anesthetic?)
  • Fire Emblem has several examples:
    • Despite being a genius-level dark magic user, Prince Lyon of Grado from Fire Emblem the Sacred Stones has a very weak health that causes him to think he's inferior compared to his best friends, Ephraim and Eirika, and his stern but gentle father Emperor Vigarde. And then It Got Worse for him.
    • In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, local White Magician Guy Rhys constantly suffers from one illness or another, with several characters inquiring about his health.
    • In Fire Emblem: Binding Blade, the Spoony Bard Elffin aka Prince Myrdinn has a really bad eyesight. He once was poisoned to almost death, with said partial blindness as the only still remaining after-effect.
    • Earlier than all of them, Prince Julius of Velthomer/Grannvale from FE: Genealogy of the Holy War is revealed as one of these. In Thracia 776 he catches a high fever, and a conversation between his half-brother Saias and Julius's girlfriend Ishtar states that he used to be only a little delicate as a child, but his health declined more after he became the vessel for the God Lopto.
    • In Fire Emblem Awakening, Henry is said to have low blood pressure.
    • In Fire Emblem: Three Houses, Edelgard's father Emperor Ionius is not only quite old but already very ill when the plot starts.
      • If Lorenz falls in battle before the Time Skip, he's said to have returned home and then have fallen fatally sick.
  • In Mega Man Battle Network 3, a kid named Mamoru has an illness with a vague acronym (HBD) that essentially boils down to a heart defect. Lan helps the kid out and even convinces him to go through another operation that is supposed to cure it because it just happens to be the disease that killed Lan's twin brother Hub, whose mind was digitized and placed inside Megaman.EXE. Of course, the hospital just has to be attacked on the day of the operation, and it's up to Lan to save everybody, including the kid.
  • Ion from Tales of the Abyss is known to have a weak constitution, and upon using a Daathic fonic arte, becomes weak to the point of collapsing. This is actually because the Ion seen in the game is a replica of the original Ion, who died a few years prior. Doing things such as using fonic artes or reading the Score cause Replica Ion's body to degenerate.
  • Emilio Juarez from Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2, who is one of the Sinners (read: tortured orphans used by the bioterrorist organization Delphi as lab rats) saved by Derek in the first game is seventeen, yet manages to be an excellent example of an Ill Boy all the same. If it weren't for all the "he"s and "boy"s used referring to him, though, it probably wouldn't be hard to mistake him for a more traditional example of the trope.
  • Subverted: Ukyo Tachibana from Samurai Shodown has tuberculosis (Incurable Cough of Death and Blood From the Mouth included), but he remains a quite Badass fighter.
  • Marlin from the Harvest Moon games set in Forget-Me-Not Valley was an Ill Boy in his youth. He was moved out into the mountains in the hope that the air would cure him. It did somewhat, but he's still kinda sickly.
  • Hisao Nakai from Katawa Shoujo. While the girls are physically disabled but otherwise fine, he's got severe heart arrhythmia that almost kills him in the introduction. It doesn't do him any favors when Emi runs into him in the hallway, either, and keeps being a problem over the course of the game. Especially in Lilly's route, in which he has two major incidents... and a third on the way to the Good Ending that hospitalizes him again and almost kills him. Also his friend Kenji Setou, who's legally blind and implied to be mentally ill.
  • Ryou's Second Love Kappei Hiiragi from Clannad, who has bone cancer. He either has to get his leg amputated or die.
  • Shiki Tohno from Tsukihime fits into the role in two different respects. The accident that didn't quite kill him still left him with poor health and occasionally life-threatening anemic attacks. On a more subtle but drastic level, his Mystic Eyes of Death Perception growing constantly stronger means his lifespan is cut extremely short, and he's likely to die before long when his brain overloads.
  • Hanbe Takenaka from Sengoku Basara is a villanous version of this, as he spends most of his time proving just how evil he is through sheer manipulation and dog-kicking despite his tuberculosis.
  • Akinari Kamiki, the Sun Arcana from Persona 3, whose days have been numbered ever since he was born. Developing his S-Lin is about having him learn to enjoy his last days of life. He will die before the game is over, leaving the children's book he wrote with the MC's help and encouragemente as a Tragic Keepsake, and if his link is maxed his soul will cheer on you before you take on Nyx.

Web Comics

  • Parodied in Ansem Retort, where Axel and Zexion deliberately infect Riku with AIDS to make him the poster child for their charity AIDS Aid.

Western Animation

  • The plot of The Secret of NIMH revolves around Ms. Brisby trying to take care of her son Timmy, who has pneumonia.
  • Played with often in South Park with Kyle. In the 15 seasons he has needed a kidney transplant, said to suffer from type 1 diabetes, nearly died from an infected hemmroid and just generally is shown getting sick with a far greater frequency than the other boys, Kenny included.
    • Strangely enough, usually averted with Kenny as he almost always died as a result of violent mishaps. The only times he succumbs to a disease when they nearly killed him off for real and an STD he picks up from the elementary school slut.

Real Life

  • While not as common, the Catholic Church also has ill boys among their blesseds and saints:
    • The aforementioned Blessed Francisco Marto, Fatima visionary. Died of Spanish influenza at age 11, along with his little sister Jacinta.
    • Francesco Possenti, alias Saint Gabriel Of Our Lady Of Sorrows. Had already a bad health as a youngster, was close to die at least twice before turning 18 (and entered the Passionist Order as thanks to the Virgin Mary for his healing), and died of tuberculosis at age 24. It seems to be a familty trait, since at least two siblings of his' also perished when young due to bad health.
    • Saint Domenico Savio, an Italian boy who died of pneumonia at age 15.
    • Ceferino Namuncurá, a Native Argentinian religious student who died of tuberculosis at age 18.
  • 19th century English poet John Keats, who died at 25 from tuberculosis. This is also the point of a 2009 Jane Campion film, Bright Star with a Downer Ending because Keats was engaged to his inspirational lover, Fanny Brawne. It also helps that the actor playing Keats, Ben Whishaw, is a 19th century version of sex appeal.
  • King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem, though he subverts the "cute" part since he was affected with leprosy and thus was disfigured. He still was crowned at age 13 and grew up to be a quite effective leader. His "Kingdom of Heaven" incarnation (played by Edward Norton) got a really cool metal mask as a part of his Historical Hero Upgrade.
  • As mentioned above, Polish music composer and piano player Frédéric Chopin. He had tuberculosis.
  • Souji Okita from the Shinsengumi, as well as the already mentioned Shinsaku Takasugi. Both died of tuberculosis before they hit their 30's.
  • This trope is one of the reasons why Yoshihiro Togashi (husband of Sailor Moon's Naoko Takeuchi and author of Yu Yu Hakusho and Hunter X Hunter) often takes long breaks in his work.
  • Yukito Kishiro, author of Battle Angel Alita (also known as Gunnm), had to finish it much earlier than he thought because of his bad health and his unwillingness to have an Author Existence Failure happen. He got better, though, and restarted the manga once he was back.
  • Formula One driver Gerhard Berger had a brief time as one in 1997, having to take at least three races (equalling to several weeks) out due to his health. For worse, that was the time when his father died too, causing him an Heroic BSOD.
  • Yoshiki Hayashi qualifies. As a child he was ill from his mother's difficult labor and crippling asthma. Eventually he got better but then he's had everything from "neurocirculatory asthenia" to mental illness to physical damage from his intense drumming to hyperthyroidism...
  • John F. Kennedy had Addison's disease and a crippling as well as very painful back injury coming from World War Two. His son Patrick was born prematurely... and died two days after his birth.
  • Edward VI, the last Tudor King of England, was horribly ill with either tuberculosis or acute kidney failure for the last few months of his short life, and died at age sixteen.
    • Similarly, his uncle Arthur Tudor died when he was around 15, due to either TB, diabetes or some kind of sweating sickness. (Though he was more or less okay in his early life; his health only started declining few after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon). This was actually a big spanner in the works for his father, Henry VII, since Arthur was the eldest son and his other son, Henry VIII, was never intended to be king.
  • Tsarevich Alexei Romanov, heir to the Russian throne, was plagued throughout his short life by hemophilia, coming close to death many times. Tragically, it wasn't the disease that killed him but being shot along with the rest of his family after the Russian Revolution.
  • Robert Wyatt probably fits this trope, though to what degree (and more pertinently, what effect his paraplegia had on his music) is conjecture.
  • Spanish Opera singer Jose Carreras had to temporarily retire due to leukemia. He got better.
  • Teddy Roosevelt was an ill boy, spending much of his childhood bedridden. But then by sheer force of will and vigorous exercise, he ended up becoming probably the most rugged and Badass of all presidents. There was only one thing that stopped him: the death of his son Quentin in World War One, which plunged the already old Teddy to a Death by Despair.
  • Ringo Starr of The Beatles was very ill as a boy, according to The Other Wiki. He contracted appendicitis, at six which put him in a coma, and had a bout with pleurisy at thirteen, which led to him being placed in a sanitorium. These setbacks led to many missed days in school, and his education suffered from it. He also fell ill during the Beatles' Australian tour of 1964, and Jimmy Nicol took his place temporarily. Later on, he had many allergies and sensitivities to food, and brought his own food with him to India in 1968.
  • Japanese singer Kouji Wada, who ultimately died in 2016 from nasopharynx cancer.
  • Noah Antwiler - in one of his video blogs from November 2010, he revealed that the reason his schedule has been slipping, and the reason why he looked so unapproachable during his E3 trip, was because he has a heart condition that was making him severely ill.
  • Noriaki "Tite" Kubo, the author of Bleach, is said to have a weak health and rather low body defenses. This played quite the part in his Creator Breakdown during the tenth year of Bleach's publication.
  • Kazuya Terashima aka Izumi Matsumoto, the author of Kimagure Orange Road, suffered a serious accident when he was 3 years old. The physical after-effects included severe cerebrospinal fluid disease, which forced him take several years off his manga work. He said in 2019 that his actual illness was spinal stenosis, and died in 2020.

Mixed Examples

Anime and Manga

  • In The Twelve Kingdoms, the holy beasts named kirin choose each of the rulers for the realms. If said king or queen doesn't do well and the land suffers, the kirin get struck with a fatal illness named shitsudou, manifesting itself via Facial Markings and physical weakness that quickly kills them and, some time later, kills the ruler too. Only the full redemption (which has never happened) or the Redemption Equals Death ( Joukaku of Kei and Shishou of Sai) of the sovereign can save them from death. Kirins of both genders (Hourin, Kourin and Sairin are females; Keiki is male) have gotten it due to their masters's mistakes or madnesses: Sairin and Keiki get better, Hourin and Kourin do not.
  • Gangsta has the Twilight, a group of people who will die of either their congenital illnesses or of drug overdoes (coming form the drugs to keep said illnesses at bay) before turning 30. If they have children with normal humans, they're called the Hagure and are still ill, but the sympthoms will be somewhat less severe and may live until their late 40's.

Video Games

  • The quarians from Mass Effect are an entire species of Ill People. Since their forced exile from their homeworld 300 years before the events of the games, quarian immune systems (which were already weaker than those other species) have deteriorated to the point that all quarians must wear environmental suits at all times just so they don't die. Every quarian Shepard meets in the games--from Wrench Wench party member Tali'Zorah to Badass marine Kal'Reegar to the valley girl complaining about her boyfriend on Illium--is one suit breach away from potentially deadly sickness. That said, they don't appreciate the stereotype:

  "I'm not gonna die from an infection in the middle of a battle. That's just insulting!”

  • The main characters of Narcissu are a terminally ill boy and girl. The prequel adds two more ill girls to the cast, one of them an eight-year-old orphan. And the third game... let's just say the whole series pretty much revolves around this trope.

Web Original

  • Iriana Estchell fits the typical characteristics, but she's not EXACTLY sick. However, she only has a handful of non-artificial organs and is very limited in the physical activities she's capable of doing, and will definitely go into a coma after five minutes outside. Why? Because she was made for the sole purpose of being the titular mech's pilot, without the intent of ever leaving it. Her body IS capable of regeneration mostly as a side-effect of her internal recycling so as to not require nutrients, but her source of energy is the mech. Without her battery, she's essentially immortal inside her Ilivais, but if she stays out too long, she'll eventually die.
  1. though lately, more and more handsome males are taking up the role
  2. and also because of all the poisonous chemicals that she uses for her magic