Top 10 Teen Drama Characters with the Saddest Backstories

Top 10 Teen Drama Characters with the Saddest Backstories

VOICE OVER: Samantha Clinch WRITTEN BY: Kaci Heavirland
Putting the teen and the drama in teen drama, these characters have the saddest backstories. Our countdown includes "The Outer Banks," "The O.C.," "One Tree Hill," and more!

Top 10 Teen Drama Characters with the Saddest Backstories

Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Teen Drama Characters with the Saddest Backstories.

For this list, we’ll be sticking to American dramas that premiered within the last 20 years.

Did we miss the saddest backstory? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Veronica Mars
“Veronica Mars” (2004-07)

Before the start of the show, V was living her best life. She was dating her best friend’s brother and was a part of the most popular group of kids at her school. Then her boyfriend dumped her and her best friend was murdered. And when her dad, the sheriff, accused the wrong person of the crime, he was voted out of office. The shame of the ordeal drives her mom to drink, and eventually abandon the family. Nonetheless V stands by her dad, and loses all of her friends. The life change could make anyone want to crawl in bed and cry. But Veronica pulls up her bootstraps and uses her trauma to turn her into a great detective.

#9: Elena Gilbert
“Vampire Diaries” (2010-17)

This main character unfortunately learns how to handle loss after loss at a very young age. Before learning of the world of vampires, her life was already off to a rough start, having been born a doppelganger. Then at just 17 years old she is in a car crash that kills both her adoptive parents, and is left in the custody of her barely adult aged Aunt. Seems rough, but all of that happens before she meets her vampire beaus and her real time of sorrow begins. By the time she starts college, she’s left taking care of her also grieving younger brother Jeremy. Fans complain Elena can be too whiny, but we think after all she’s faced, she has an excuse.

#8: Stiles Stilinski
“Teen Wolf” (2011-17)

“Mischief”, as he was known to his mom, had a tough time working his way through the mysteries of high school and becoming a werewolf. But the hardships of his life started long before that. When he was young his mother was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. Her disease caused her to fear and once even attack her son. Eventually she dies in the hospital while Stiles’ dad is at work, leaving him to witness his mothers death alone. That’s enough to devastate anyone, but he keeps his heart and remains a sarcastic, funny, and outspoken character.

#7: Ryan Atwood
“The O.C.” (2003-07)

At the start of this show, Ryan faced a huge lifestyle change when he was taken in by the Cohen’s. Before moving to Newport Beach, he faced bad parents, a tough relationship with his brother, and continual abandonment. When he was young his father was an alcoholic, physically abusive, and then sent to prison for armed robbery. His mother was also an alcoholic, and verbally abusive. She eventually abandons him after he gets into trouble with his brother. All of this misfortune led to him meeting Sandy Cohen, and we’re pretty glad he got the life he deserved with his new family.

#6: JJ Maybank
“Outer Banks”(2020-)

This surfer’s impulsiveness and quick temper probably come from a pretty tumultuous relationship with his father. Luke Maybank is a drug addict and alcoholic who frequently beats his son. More than that, the two are often shown fighting back and forth. No one deserves what JJ is put through. So no hearts were broken when he snapped and not only fought his dad back, but told him he was no longer afraid. It sucked to see JJ eventually helping his dad, but we were glad to see Luke leave. We just hope JJ ends up with the life he deserves.

#5: Peyton Sawyer
“One Tree Hill” (2003-12)

The Tree Hill resident was born to an alcoholic who decided to give her up for adoption. And she started to have a good life with the Sawyers’, sharing a special bond with her adoptive mom. But when Peyton was only eight, her mom was in a car accident and died. The grief of the loss drove a wedge between the young girl and her dad. He began working more while Peyton stayed home alone, leaving her to grow up without a mom and only a part time dad. Of course, out of the loneliness sprouted her on again off again friendship with Brooke.

#4: Justin Foley
“13 Reasons Why” (2017-)

Like many other entries, the hardships of his short life started at home. Justin never knew his father, and his mother was neglectful. She was a drug addict who always chose her boyfriends over her son. These boyfriends would physically and verbally abuse Justin. On top of that, he and his mother were living in poverty. Throughout the show he did have people who cared about him, like Clay and his family. But unfortunately, right when it seemed like he might be able to turn his life around, his tragic past repeated itself and eventually led to Justin’s early end.

#3: Callie Adams Foster
“The Fosters” (2013-17)

At first, Callie almost seemed cursed. When Callie was only 10 years old her parents were in a car accident that killed her mom and put her stepdad in prison. She and her younger brother were then put into the foster care system, where they moved from home to home, often facing abuse. When the siblings were finally placed in a home that seemed safe, their new foster brother assaulted Callie and got them kicked out. And unfortunately, that meant it was back to abusive households. Fortunately, Callie did eventually find her forever family in the Adams Fosters, and used her experiences to try to help others.

#2: Charlotte DiLaurentis
“Pretty Little Liars” (2012-17)

Cece had quite a childhood. She was born as Charles Drake to Mary Drake, who was a patient at Radley Sanitarium at the time, and given to Mary’s twin sister Jessica DiLaurentis. But when she was very young she accidentally hurt her baby sister and her adoptive parents decided to put her in the same mental hospital she was born in. She was then forced to spend the rest of her childhood in Radley. We feel like almost all the harm she caused could have been prevented if her parents had gotten her help instead of hiding her away her whole life.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

Raven Reyes, “The 100” (2014-20)
She Grew Up with an Alcoholic, Neglectful Mother

Octavia Blake, “The 100” (2014-20)
She Was Locked Up for the Crime of Being Born a Second Child

Malia Tate, “Teen Wolf” (2011-17)
Her Birth Mom Tried to Kill Her & She Accidently Killed Her Adoptive Family

Ricky Underwood, “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” (2008-13)
His Parents Were Drug Addicts & His Father Was Abusive

Craig Manning, “Degrassi: Next Generation” (2001-15)
His Mother Died When He Was Young & His Father Was Abusive

#1: Klaus Mikaelson
“The Vampire Diaries” (2009-17)

As a boy, Klaus was loving and wanted love in return. But his step-father beat the compassion out of him. He was never good enough for Mikael, who constantly abused him. Things got even worse when his mother used magic to protect the family, turning them into vampires, which revealed that he was really the son of a werewolf, not Mikael. His step-father made his wife use magic to turn his werewolf side dormant, and then abandoned him. He spent the next millennium running from his step-father and trying to reignite his inner werewolf. Once he was a full hybrid, he had a daughter, Hope, who also has a rough time, inheriting her father’s enemies.