Throughout its run, Orange Is the New Black has excelled at doing two things… telling human stories about characters the likes of which are not often seen on television, and humanizing even the most unlikable of Litchfield Penitentiary’s regulars. With its richly diverse and well-drawn cast, Orange Is the New Black is unlike anything else currently in popular culture right now. Even when the plot seems to lag, every character is given a history and motivation that makes them flesh and blood.
Not only that, but the writers and creators of the show are unflinchingly willing to highlight the flaws of every character, even if that character is a fan favorite. On the flip side, they’re also unafraid to elicit sympathy for the more unlikable characters, as well. Everyone has had a heartbreaking and winding road all the way to Litchfield, whether you like them or not. If you’re up to date on all three seasons of Orange Is the New Black before the start of the fourth season (because spoilers abound here), let’s take a look at 10 of the most tragic backstories shown so far.