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Jason: Do you wake up every morning and say, "Today, I'm going to find someone's dream that's come true and put an end to it"?
Aubrey: Davan, this has to stop, okay? You're always so negative and angry, and it worries me. You're not nearly the bad person you think you are, and things will get better. You've got to do something positive with your life.
Something*Positive is a Slice of Life webcomic by R.K. Milholland based on the life and trials of Davan MacIntire, a put-upon, misanthropic author stand-in, and his best friends Aubrey Chorde, Pee-Jee Shou, and Jason Pratchett, who originated as caricatures of Milholland's real-life friends. The supporting cast includes Davan's acerbic but loving family, African-American Wiccan Kim Anansie, Pee-Jee's long-time gay man-crush Jhim Midgett, "pint-sized bisexual" T-Bob, reformed obsessive geek Mike Dowden, vain waste-of-space Kharisma Valetti, and Davan's hairless, amorphous cat Choo-Choo Bear. The cast is enormous, and various members pop in and out over the years.
Most of the comic's humor is incredibly dark and cynical, with glee for potential offense; few demographics have avoided skewering by the author's strawman constructs — it is remarkably fair and balanced in that approach. However, moments of sympathy sometimes rise to the surface, as the characters may be jerks (an admitted fact by Milholland himself), but they do love each other deeply, and go out of their way to help one another. Common elements include the stupidity of the common man, geek culture, tabletop gaming, and Davan's seemingly endless parade of psychotic girlfriends.
Expect a lot of Take That. To fans of the comic (particularly stupid e-mails are almost always revealed to the fans on the comic's web page, or even in actual comics), to fans of certain shows or genres, and especially to Milholland himself, as well as his comic. It's equal-opportunity cruelty at its finest and most vulgar.
The title was created when the real Aubrey told Milholland to do "something positive."
- Absolute Cleavage: Monette celebrates Boobquake!
- Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: Although most of the cast engages in Slapstick violence regardless of sex, the strip makes a Running Gag of PeeJee, Aubrey, and Kim doing much more serious harm to their various boyfriends (and Davan). When Eva goes to jail for beating up her husband, on the other hand, everyone seems to agree she's getting what she deserves, although maybe more for being a Manipulative Bastard.
- This strip wouldn't be half as funny if the genders were reversed. (Though in a large part, because the jokes wouldn't work.)
- Abusive Parents: Ollie's father apparently beat him when he was a boy. This is probably why Ollie does everything in his power to honor and protect the reputation of his otherwise Evil Uncle Avogadro, who put a stop to the abuse by raising Ollie himself.
- Avogadro is just as abusive, just in a different way. Avogadro never beat Ollie physically and mentally AND emotionally, but he abused the boy sexually. At least in Ollie's adult years and Avogadro's final years of life after Pepito left.
- On the emotionally abusive side is Jason's father. The man is described as using his psychology skills to get under his family's skin, and Jason's anecdotes about him are pretty disturbing.
- Monette's natural father. Even when trying to be nice, the best he manages to achieve is trying to send her a "I never thought you would achieve anything" card.
- Action Survivor: Kharisma, of all people, is becoming one.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Davan tells a whiny little girl that he's going to buy the cake she wants her mother to buy, just to spite her. This earned him a glare from his dad... then the girl ran and told her mother about it.
- Aerosol Flamethrower: "OH GOD! MY BEAUTY! MY HORRIBLY FLAMMABLE BEAUTY!"
- A Hell of a Time: two words: "ferret rave"
- All Girls Like Ponies: "Customers being stupid?" "That's like asking me if ponies are still being awesome. Duh!"
- Anvilicious: Pushes this from time to time, as a number of arcs tend to end in a character getting a lecture about how stupid they are (or how wrong they are for their views or stance on the issue at hand).
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Choo-Choo discusses it in a Reader Q&A.
- Art Evolution: After nine years, Randy's started... shading.
- Ascended Extra: Fluffmodeus started here. Now he's a part of Kharisma's life.
- Ransom demands were not met? He warned.
- Also, Branwen was supposed to be a one-off character, rather than a significant part of the plot
- Ashes to Crashes: Peejee accidentally spills Faye's ashes down her panties.
- Asshole Victim - Let us do a count off, starting with Kharisma who prior to character development 'really' pushed this with her treatment of others, Kyle who cheated and lied to one of our main cast and was caught in this, Pepito who spent 90% of his most recent screen time being a Jerkass to everyone, the con attendant who preceeded pepitos exit stage left with an exploding head and finally Peejee's coworker who threatened to charge her with sexual harassment when Peejee rebuffed her advances.
- Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: The front page bears five differently-named comics, not counting other comic projects that have fallen by the wayside.
- Not necessarily fallen by the wayside: "No one seemed to like it until YEARS after I gave up on it. I'll play with it again one day." — RKM, Formspring
- Pretty damn fallen by the wayside, considering that it's been YEARS since he said tht.
- Not necessarily fallen by the wayside: "No one seemed to like it until YEARS after I gave up on it. I'll play with it again one day." — RKM, Formspring
- Author Avatar: Two, Davan is an avatar for Randy as an adult, and, more recently, Rory for Randy's childhood.
- Author Guest Spot
- A World Half Full
- Badass Boast: Jason makes a henchmen beg in a tabletop RPG.
- Beard of Sorrow: Davan, after Faye dies.
- Benevolent Boss: Sanderson, mostly. He's a bit selfish and stubborn about his whims, but he genuinely likes Davan.
- Berserk Button: Never sass Mister Peppermint around Davan. Makes one think of a certain other child entertainer...
- Beware the Nice Ones: Even if he is probably just a hallucination, and a fairly benevolent one at that, Fluffmodeus can be pretty scary.
Fluffmodeus: YOU'RE GONNA DIE!
- The "benevolent" facade has been pretty much dropped as of this strip
- Black Comedy
- Black Comedy Rape:
- Kim and Davan.
- Mike and the Redneck Trees [also portrayed as teaching him a lesson]. Initially, nothing actually happens to Mike. Deep-Immersion Gaming is a visual device, not something that actually affects the characters. It's not shown how graphically it was described to him, although based on his reaction, probably "very".
- Then, thanks to Davan's good memory, it was reenacted. And he was actually almost publicly sodomized by a man in a tree costume. But since he was an unsympathetic Jerkass, it was played for laughs... and then it happened again.
- The rejection letter Davan sends to the writer of a bad play claims that "A better title for your play would be 'Rape-Rape: A Tale of Rapening'. Also, your next play should have a little less rape in it."
- Biggus Dickus: Jason, apparently.
- Bi the Way: Kim, Nancy, Vanessa, T-Bob.
- Body Horror: Odds are that any scene that includes Choo-Choo Bear will also include some horrible, horrible cat-related Body Horror.
- Brain Bleach: on ugly strippers and role-playing geeks and... uh... this. You may need it after looking at this and being backstabbed by Fridge Logic.
- There is a new contender with this.
- And in turn, congratulations to the latest member of the Something Positive Brain Bleach All-Star Team. Start here, and the brain bleach becomes required right about at this point. Seriously, Randy Milholland is messed up as all hell.
- Pokémon Ruined FOREVER here.
- Lipstick, nipple rings and Popeye. And squicked Vanessa. Makes you scream "Milholland!".
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "What should we do first? Strip club? M.M.A.? The zoo? Stripper M.M.A. cage matches at the zoo?"
- B-Side Comics: S* P 1937, Life with Rippy and to a lesser extent, Super Stupor.
- But You Screw One Goat!: Monette's koala incident.
Davan: Before I post your bail, tell me: Was it a female koala you had sex with?
- Butch Lesbian: Lisa developed into one after moving away with Monette.
- Call Back: This strip featuring the Easter Bunny... who is the same as the one from a conversation on "cuddling yourself".
- Canon Immigrant: Kestrel came from Queen of Wands, and Helen from Penny and Aggie. Candy from Girls with Slingshots has been hinted at joining as well.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Action figures? Pedestrian. Try GURPS SODA.
- Catapult Nightmare: The dream about Rose.
- Catgirl: Cosplayers are frequently satirized.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Davan's best friend Scotty kills himself at the tail end of the first year of the strip, setting off sadness, depression and nostalgic looks to the past being a major point of the comic thereafter.
- Which makes this a rare case of Cerebus Syndrome in which the work ... doesn't actually become any darker.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: Aubrey at the end of "Dungeons & Dumbasses", due to Mike, the aforementioned dumbass.
- Character Development: Mike's growth really stands out. Introduced as a misogynistic whiny Jerkass, he later acknowledges most of his flaws and works to become a better person, and goes on to be the first member of the cast to get into a committed relationship and become a father. When things got rough, his worst traits re-emerged, and he and Tamara even broke up for a while. However, he did manage to get his act together, and even decided to become a "real-life superhero" as the Pythagorean. No one expected much to come of it, but apparently he's become quite popular with the local community, and even got a Moment of Awesome out of it.
- Chew Toy: Mike and Kharisma.
- Chewbacca Defense: Aubrey reveals her philosophy of life at the end of this crossover strip.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happens to a fair amount of supporting characters, what with the huge cast. Some were dropped deliberately by the writer (Jennifer and Darrick, from early in the strip, when neither character panned out), while others just kind of faded away. This is dealt with fairly realistically, as people tend to just fall out of the others' lives.
- Milholland has written that the character of Jennifer is based on a real life person he knew. She agreed to appear as a character but she was unhappy with the way she was depicted and argued with Milholland over it. Milholland dropped Jennifer from the strip and also ended up losing contact with "Jennifer" in real life.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Eva.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Mostly made of it — try to find one recurring character without a Jerkass streak or something.
- Comically Missing the Point: "Do you even know what gay bashing is?" "How can I? You bastards never invite me."
- Composite Character: A few members of the cast are based off of more than one person Milholland has met, merged into one being. Lisa and Monette in particular, as well as Mike and Eva (both of whom were based off of one good person, and one bad one — with the characters branching into one or the other).
- Continuity Nod: "I lava you".
- Country Matters: Despite the Cluster F-Bomb he's rather notorious for, Randy is very antsy about this word, so far only using it twice, once when Mike (an utter Jerkass) is very annoyed with PeeJee, and even he stammers a bit, and once indirectly when Davan's Girl of the Week, trying to justify her cheating, asks if she's "being too blunt," and Davan replies she's "in the rhyming neighborhood." Apparently, a woman walked out of a panel discussion when he said it in Real Life.
- Covert Pervert: Vanessa. "I wanna see tiiiitties!"
- Crapsack World
- Curse Cut Short: Given the Groin Attack he'd just suffered, Jason's willpower is admirable.
- The Cutie: Vanessa and Kestrel.
- Cute Kitten: Choo-Choo-Bear and friends. Sometimes bluntly deconstructed, which on one occasion has resulted in death threats against the author (see GIFT entry below).
- Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon. Used for gags quite often.
- Daddy DNA Test: The introduction of Donna and Rory. In a subversion, Rory's not Davan's son, but Davan bonds with him anyway.
- And when asked if he could go back in time and be Rory's actual father, he says yes.
- Darker and Edgier: My Little Pony made awesome.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Especially in its early years (and almost literally in the first strip).
- Especially, perhaps, but certainly not exclusively, as can be seen in this 2010 strip:
Nancy: Davan, wake up. I have a problem.
- Deconstruction: A notable example is Gregory's teddy bear liberation army, which appeared in a throwaway gag years ago, and has subsequently been deconstructed into something truly disturbing.
- Dead Fic: Yes, Randy, of course you're going to finish Midnight Macabre. We believe you. Honest.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the main cast.
- Death of the Author: Referenced in the catgirls arc. This trope appears to be something of a sore spot with the author.
- Deliberately Monochrome: S* P 1937 and some flashbacks.
- Designated Monkey: Possibly related to the Double Standard below. Mike was treated like crap by the main cast for the longest time, but he never engaged in their Comedic Sociopathy.
- The Ditz: Monette, especially at first.
Kharisma: I don't know! I don't know anything! I swear! It's a life choice!
- Dirty Old Woman: "Y'know Davan, some of us Grandmas are good at more than baking cookies."
- Disability as an Excuse For Jerkassery: As a young boy, Fred was admitted to a hospital for an ear infection, where he was antagonized at every turn by a boy in a wheel-chair, who used his disability as an excuse to rage at the world, and every other child at the hospital hates him. Eventually, Fred and his friends team up to scare him and teach him a lesson... whereupon it is revealed that the boy is in the hospital for a heart condition, and the shock of the scare ends up killing him.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: Peejee has a fear of puppets, and breaks Aubrey's hand with a hammer when Aubrey sneaks up behind her with a handpuppet.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma: Gal, He's Like Drugged Unconscious
- Dynamic Entry: Aubrey demonstrates the technique.
- Dysfunction Junction: And acknowledges it.
- The Eeyore: Davan
- Enfant Terrible: The catgirls.
- Everyone Has Standards: After the infamous Hell House Arch, Randy points out he actually had to 'censor' most of what he researched about actual Hell Houses because they were too disgustingly horrible even for him.
- Exact Words: When Davan's boss makes a request, Davan makes it happen.
- Fag Hag: Pee-Jee.
- Fan Art: There is a fan movie encompassing some of the earlier strips.
- Fan Disservice: If you're a Superman fan, don't read this.
- Fan Dumb: In-universe examples. Mike acts like this on a regular basis. There are also the Catgirl cosplayers, who embody the worst aspects of annoying pre-teen Otaku.
- Fan Service: What else can you call this?
- Foreshadowing: Jason and Davan's webcomic Neko-Neko Holy-Chan was teased for years, with Jason frequently begging Davan to start up a webcomic with him. Monette also teased cast members about her "Big Secret" for months before revealing she was starring in a TV Show.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot
- Framing the Guilty Party
- Freudian Slippery Slope: Poor Vanessa.
- Fridge Brilliance: An in-universe example, when Rory has a BSOD over the realization of why his mother thought Davan was his dad.
- From the Mouths of Babes: When Jason plays Santa.
- And again, after Davan receives "The Talk"... as a Kindergartner, due to his finding a copy of "Our Bodies Our Selves".
- Gargle Blaster: A whiskey flask that Davan doesn't realize has been mixed with Everclear, moonshine and absinthe.
- Genre Savvy: Pee-Jee is. She knows that happy people proclaiming their joy are just asking for it.
- GIFT: A set of Kitty Kwizzes, comics which humourously explained how cats control their human puppets...er...masters, apparently made some readers so angry that Randy received death threats over them.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Jason has drawn Aubrey/PeeJee yuri.
- God Wants Redheads: Apparently, Jehovah likes when lesbian redheads have sex. Also relates to the above.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Subverted here.
- Green Eyes: Kestrel. Notably, she's the only character in the comic to have colored eyes, owing to her original source material in Queen of Wands.
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Considered as a Fetish Fuel but done accidentally.
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Let's play space marine. Who's daddy's favourite weapon, huh? Is it Choo Choo? Is it Choo Choo? Yes it is! Such a good hand to hand weapon you are!
- Grotesque Cute: Fluffmodeus, a.k.a. Little Blue Thing. Choo-Choo Bear as well, to some extent.
- Happily Married: Davan's parents.
- Aubrey and Jason, as well.
- Heel Face Turn: A number of characters have gone up (and down) the scale from annoying to sympathetic.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Monette in particular.
- Hollywood New England: Set in Boston with frequent sidetrips to Texas since two of the three main protagonists hail from there.
- Hollywood Sex: Davan's life involves plenty of nasty aversion to cement the Chew Toy / Butt Monkey aspect of his character. Most frequently mentioned is a girl biting down the first time he received oral sex.
- Incompatible Orientation: Peejee to Jhim.
- Informed Deformity: Shazam Wil-Wheaton Dowden. Not yet seen 'on camera,' but judging by Dad's nose...
- Also Davan, a fairly ordinary-looking guy who is considered unutterably hideous by a remarkable number of people. Probably intentional.
- Ink Suit Actor: Whenever the comic depicts a gaming campaign in its imaginary setting, the Player Characters typically bear some resemblance to their players.
- Insult Backfire: For example, this one.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Both Davan and Peejee talk to Choo-Choo Bear as if they know what he's saying. Of course, all cat owners do this, but recently it's included stuff about the kitten situation that they've no other way of knowing...
- Intercontinuity Crossover: Many. Something Positive seems to be a sort of hub-world for webcomics.
- The first was with Queen of Wands, to the point where Kestrel entered S* P after Queen of Wands ended. (More info on the incident: http://www.somethingpositive.net/vlog01192010.shtml)
- There was also a crossover with Scandal Sheet. And cameo appearances by Jay from FLEM Comics, Jennie from The Devil's Panties and The Pet Professional. One comic also mentioned that Aubrey used to own a mini-lop with a fondness for sharp objects, but her mother gave it to a pet shop.
- Davan and Nancy also had a cameo in Questionable Content.
- The Teddy Bear Liberation Front also showed up in some Milholland-written Punch an Pie guest strips.
- There was a crossover with Girls with Slingshots, as Davan attends the wedding of two minor characters from that strip.
- ...And now Choo-Choo Bear is the father of Sprinkles' kittens.
- ...One of whom has been adopted by Leslie from Shortpacked.
- Don, the protagonist of Deranged, is frequently seen as a player in Davan's RPG sessions.
- Helen, a supporting character from Penny and Aggie, has appeared for a storyline in which she's interviewing for a job (meaning she might stay).
- PeeJee and Aubrey visit a shop named What's New, with Phil Foglio visible behind the desk, here.
- Choo-Choo Bear also met up with Eben and Snooch from Two Lumps back in the day.
- I Promised Myself I Wouldn't Cry: But it's had not to cry "nerd tears" at your baby daughter's first time pwning noobs on World of Warcraft.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Davan, with Branwen.
- Jerkass: The entire cast, in one form or another. In fact, you can usually tell when someone's supposed to be considered a positively-viewed member of the cast when they change from Straw Loser Jerkass to Deadpan Snarker Jerkass. Word of God confirms that most characters are deliberately jerks, and that Davan is "an asshole, and a lot of the misery he's gone through, he brought on himself)."
- Kestrel is one who mostly stays out of Jerkass territory, mostly because she was "adopted into" the comic.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Many cast members, but particularly Davan. He might be a Jerkass, but he is always there for his friends and family, even when it's hard.
- Jossed: This Q&A strip, which firmly answers the question of Davan and PeeJee as a couple, and says the only reason for ship-teasing with them is to mess with people who keep asking.
"Seriously? Davan and PeeJee? That wouldn't last five minutes."
- Jumping the Shark: An in-universe example. When Davan loses interest in his online comic, instead of just ending it he deliberately shark-jumps it to try and make everyone hate it. Considering that Davan is an Author Avatar for Randy Milholland, one has to wonder...
- Kaleidoscope Hair: For a long time, Peejee would have constantly changing hair, until Randy got tired of changing it.
- Kavorka Man: Jason. Davan also has aspects of this, on the occasions that he actually cares enough to try. For example, the first words he spoke to Branwen (whom he would later go on to date for over a year) were something along the lines of "Hey, want to go have sex?" to which she answered in the affirmative. Despite supposedly being hideous, Davan has slept with about five or six attractive women in nine years, two of them very regularly — not a bad run.
- Karma Houdini: Pretty much every major, and some of the minor, characters in the strip. They have all done and said some really nasty things and suffered few consequences for them. About the only one really suffering for her actions is Kharisma, except she's in jail for a murder she didn't commit, but was trying to commit... and with the intended victim's blessing, at that.
- Keet: T-Bob.
- Killed Off for Real: Faye
- As well as anyone seen in Hell, such as Pepito.
- Averted with "Santa Claus", seen in Hell but alive (if not "well") later
- As well as anyone seen in Hell, such as Pepito.
- Lamarck Was Right: Half of Choo-Choo's kitties are gooey and boneless like him, despite his condition being a result of chemotherapy.
- Lampshade Hanging: Davan's Speech Bubble is covered up for a second time when he tells PeeJee who he called at the con (see Painting the Fourth Wall below), this time by Choo-Choo Bear bursting out of his ice cream. PeeJee reasonably says that this makes no sense:
Davan: He's a 30+ year old pudding cat who can travel through drains but this is where your ability to believe is gonna be taxed?
- "That woman" died when an alligator - specifically a Canadian Trapdoor Alligator - burst out of the air-conditioning vent and ate her, for the record.
- Laser-Guided Catgirl: Here you go.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Kharisma.
- Last Het Romance: Davan to one of his exes, who became a lesbian.
- Law of Inverse Paternity: Played with; Davan didn't want to be Rory's father, but was at least willing to step up if he was, unlike the other candidate. Davan wound up becoming his Parental Substitute even after finding out he wasn't the dad, and admits that in retrospect he wishes he had been the father after all.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
Aubrey: "Woogie, where's all your stuff? It's like we're in a comic strip but the cartoonist is too goddamn lazy to draw our background like he normally does."
- Life Embellished
- Like Brother and Sister: Davan and Aubrey.
- Limited/UnlimitedWardrobe: Both averted, as all the characters have relatively consistent but still rather varied clothing.)
- Look Both Ways: Kestrel and Silas.
- Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Davan.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The main cast isn't overly large for a webcomic, but once you get to the former main supporting cast [Jhim, Kim, Monette] and the old familiar faces [Cab, Berenger, Claire, Anna, Lisa, Celie, the Teddy-Bear Liberation Front, etc.], things get a little crazy. Jesus-Mickey and Twitchy-Hug were killed, but we still frequently see characters show up with gaps of years between appearances.
- Lucky Charms Title: What with the asterisk in the middle and all.
- The Maiden Name Debate: Gender inversion; Jason takes Aubrey's last name, Chorde, when they marry, at least in part as a slight against his father.
- Man Child: Randy declares himself a bearded telve-year-old.
- Mathematician's Answer: "First time to be rectally violated or first time to feel good about yourself?" "Yes."
- Mattress Tag Gag: Slipleg the Pirate (aka Choo-Choo Bear) gets an evil witch's attention by breaking into her house, smashing her things, setting her furnishings on fire... and tearing the tag off a mattress.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Even Randy is unsure of whether or not the floating blue apparition Kharisma sees is real or a hallucination.
- Meta Guy: Silas, acting as an unwanted narrator to the gang's antics.
- Mercy Kill: Here.
- Milholland Relationship Moment: The partial Trope Namer - see Questionable Content, Websnark.
- Misery Poker: Against Kestrel from Queen of Wands, during a crossover.
- Mistaken for Gay: Davan and Peejee, frequently, especially in the first few years. This does nothing to help with the Peejee/Vanessa shippers.
- Mood Whiplash: The funny antics that lead to a awful consequence, terrible misfortune capped with a punchline and the odd Milholland Relationship Moment. It happens fairly often.
- Morality Pet: Rory for Davan.
- Most Common Superpower: Discussed in this strip.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: When the Teddy Bear Liberation Front returns, Meggie shows unrequited love for her partner in crime, Gregory. He seems oblivious and falls for Kharisma through writing to her and visiting her in jail. When they break her out while being transported, Gregory nurses her back to health. Then Meggie tries to remove her.
- Murderous Thighs: Sort of.
- Naughty Tentacles: Well, naughty tree branches, at any rate. Poor Mike.
- And Aubrey's atttempt at making a chef/tentacle monster gay porn film.
- New First Comics: Averted. If you think the first strip is funny, nothing in the rest of the comic will throw you.
- Nice Guy and Nice Guys Finish Last: Subverted heavily — a major point of Milholland's (and Davan's) is that a lot of supposed "Nice Guys" are actually self-involved, self-pitying jerks like Mike, who are actually quite selfish, and only after most girls because of their looks (something they hypocritically accuse the girls of doing with the "jerks" they go out with). And that said "Nice Guys" often pretend to be girls' friends just to potentially seduce them later, while pining over them like stalkers, none of which is "nice" behavior at all.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Aubrey, as seen here.
Jason:Lemme back track to where you were s'posed to be freaked out.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Davan, so very much. Nearly every instance of him trying to behave altruistically comes back to bite him in the worst possible way.
- Noodle Incident: Whatever Mike did to get Tamara to leave him at that Nerdrotica Christmas Party.
- And whatever happened to Davan's namesake involved a "very confused vampire hunter" and a flaming wheat thresher.
- Noodle Implements: Averted most times, as we get to see the resulting carnage from the characters' schemes. Played straight with the above Noodle Incident.
- The Not Love Interest: Davan and Peejee.
- Not Quite Dead: Kestrel.
- Not So Stoic: Here.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Ollie. Spoilered because it came out of nowhere. Monette — of all people — even plays it for laughs.
- Oblivious to His Own Description: Davan tells Peejee he used to have a crush on a girl, but she didn't return the sentiment. They became really good friends and it ended up being for the best. Peejee insults the girl for not realizing Davan's great, he replies that, no, she's one of his favorite people. He walks away. Peejee catches on and blushes.
- Official Couple: Jason/Aubrey.
- One of the Boys: Monette's girlfriend Lisa attended Jason's bachelor party at a strip club
- Out of Focus: With the aforementioned Loads and Loads of Characters, this happens a lot. The occasional minor character will only appear a total of five times in six years [Davan's Furry friend Andy], and often a year goes by between Jhim or Anna's appearances, and both were once major characters (Jhim especially, once a part of the core cast). Clair, a previously major cast member, disappeared for years, and then showed up engaged and about to move away. Kim and Kestrel, major co-workers of Aubrey's and former major cast-members, also fall out of focus for six months at a time.
- Most of this is done to reflect on Real Life: It's (sort of) based on Milholland's experiences. People do vanish from your life only to reappear out of nowhere.
- Paedo Hunt: Mike triggered this by putting video of a play Aubrey was in on the internet. The play was The Hobbit, and Aubrey wore a nude, glittering bodystocking. Oh, and she was 15 at the time.
- Painting the Fourth Wall: Aubrey enters Davan's apartment and asks "Where's your furniture? It's like we're in a comic strip, but the artist is too goddamn lazy to draw in the background like he usually does." Of course, there's a perfectly good explanation: it's in storage.
Wil Wheaton: I was on Star Trek. I'm familiar with crazy fans. This is a fan revolt. The result of years of being jacked about by those they adored.
- Pee-Jee once asked the question, "Why does everything that happens around here revolve around sex?" Daven mumbles, "Bad writing." But, like the first example, he was reading a book and muttering to himself to justify the fourth wall breakage.
- Multiple examples in this strip, with regard to Helen of the then just-concluded webcomic Penny and Aggie. Jason wonders where comic characters go after their strip ends. One of Aubrey's suggestions is "the background of another crappier comic," a reference to Helen having already long since left her original comic for S*P, but mostly remaining in the background since then. Kim mentions that she'll be interviewing Helen for a Nerdrotica position. Having met her already, she tells Aubrey that Helen's "okay, but whenever she's around, people get really pissed for some reason," an allusion to Milholland's ongoing problem with P&A fans who complain to him about how he writes her. Aubrey says she doesn't want her business to be a "dumping ground for other people's damaged goods." This refers to the reason P&A writer T Campbell gave Helen's character to Milholland: he felt her problems now ran too deep for his own comic's setting and characters to help her out of them. Kim tells her she sounds like Kestrel; this alludes to the Queen of Wands protagonist who ended up herself working at Nerdrotica.
- Paste Eater: Monette ate crayons until she was in her early twenties, and Davan made reference to turning the habit into a fetish by finding a girl willing to "make herself an off shade of green and tattoo 'Crayola' on her ass."
- Rory, according to this comic.
- Pet the Dog - Kharisma for one, prior to character development when she was a minor or supporting role. Most of the time on screen she spent as either making conversation or being the Alpha Bitch, but when she left the Medicade company that she and Davan worked at she got a moment where she was actually, intentionally, nice to Davan telling him to quit the job for his own good as she wouldn't wish it on the worst person in the world let alone him.
- The Pig Pen: Jeremiah Kinsley, apparently.
- Platonic Life Partners: Davan and Pee-Jee. Pee-Jee even refers to herself as Davan's "Platonic Life Mate."
- Prima Donna Director: Avogadro. Such is his flamboyance that even being bedridden does nothing to his hamminess.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: From an objective point of view, the protagonists are not just as bad as many of the people the comic considers antagonists... they're worse. The majority of behaviors that are often decried in the more serious moments... emotional abuse, dishonesty, disrespect, hurling insults, assault... are things that the main characters do for fun the rest of the time. Because being rude to people in your gaming group is terrible, but convincing random children that their parents don't love them is hilarious.
- This is part of what invokes Fridge Logic on all the Wangsting Davan does about his job in the early years of the strip, and portraying his bosses as literally in the service of Satan. Yes, it's painful to have to call up dead peoples' loved ones and charge them for ambulance rides... but it's not as if it's personal, the emotional pain the company inflicts is just an unfortunate side effect of doing business. Meanwhile, Davan likes to go out and deliberately inflict emotional pain on anyone that crosses his path purely for his own amusement.
- Another example: Davan and Aubrey visit HP Lovecraft's grave, and Aubrey becomes incensed to find that someone has been doing "gothic" rituals over it. She rages that Lovecraft had a hard enough life without his grave being defiled as she cleans it off. Lovecraft is thusly turned into The Woobie because Davan and Aubrey like his writing... nevermind that he would likely have been far more disgusted and offended to have an Asian woman touch his headstone than he would have been at the ritual.
- Psycho Lesbian: One of Vanessa's exes shows shades.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: "So, what's the going rate on buying back promises from Kindergartners these days?"
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Milholland has confirmed that at least one character has left the strip for a while for 're-tooling', as the real-life friend the character was based off of had 'betrayed' him, and he felt he couldn't write the character the same way. Spin-off strip "Midnight Macabre" was put on hold for the same reason - implying that Lisa was the character in question.
- Really Seventeen Years Old: Helen tries to get a job at Nerdrotica despite being underage. Nancy catches her out because of her crappy fake ID.
- Red Shirt: Referenced here.
- Refuge in Audacity: Both in the humor and in the characters' actions.
- Relationship Reboot: Halloween 2004.
"Hello, I'm Pee-Jee."
- Relationship Upgrade: Aubrey and Jason.
- Rich Bitch: Kharisma eventually lost the money but kept the uselessness. She got some Character Development when she's in jail.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: The catgirls.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies: Trope Namer
- Sadist Show: Virtually every single recurring character enjoys causing duress or pain to others- often physical. A few settle for mere humiliation.
- Sand in My Eyes: Choo-Choo Bear gets "a bit of forgotten childhood" stuck in his eye during a Q&A session.
- Scenery Censor: Kharisma, in this strip.
- Schedule Slip: Although the author tries to make up for it. Strips tend to get updated in mass surges rather than and kind of regular schedule.
- Self-Deprecation: A major source of humour, and something that keeps Davan from being a Canon Sue at times. He's as critical of himself as anybody - Milholland attributes this to himself, frequently remarking upon his appearance.
- Occasional Fourth Wall Mail Slot strips never miss an opportunity to have Choo-Choo Bear describe his creator as a lazy hack.
- Settled for Gay: Branwen's parents. Her father was gay and needed a wife and family to "keep up appearances" in his professional life. Her mom just didn't like sex, but wanted a family. This had some ramifications for Bran.
- Shipper on Deck: Peejee ships Davan/Vanessa.
- Helen ships Davan/Nancy. Vanessa was not amused.
- Jhim ships Davan/PeeJee. Davan was not amused.
- Ship Tease: Word of God is that the sweet moments between Davan and PeeJee are just the author deciding to taunt fans who were hoping for a relationship between them. Lampshaded splendidly here.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: A mild example. Linzie, a tattooed goth-girl character, shows up as a female partner for Davan (they have sex periodically), and appears to be added to the cast in a semi-major manner. But then she suddenly gets an actual boyfriend and vanishes completely from the strip. Very rare, in that almost all the other characters at least have "Old Familiar Faces" comics about where they've been.
- Shout-Out: these Look familiar? Another hilariously inappropriate shout-out to 1984.
- In one strip, Davan and his father wear some possibly familiar-looking shirts. The tagline on the comic reads: "This couldn't be a more lame Penny Arcade rip-off if you dressed them in the same clothes!" "Oh, a challenge!"
- There's also the aforementioned strip with the appearance of "What's New," run by Phil Foglio. All of the shirts in the last panel are references either to What's New with Phil and Dixie or Girl Genius.
- Squick: Invoked because it is not the characters themselves, but their reaction to a number of sex-tinged fandoms — plushies, furries, etc. Or roleplayers. Or each other.
- Invisible to Gaydar: Jhim.
- Straw Fan: The catgirls.
- Strawman Political: Arguably the most frequent criticism of the strip. Many a random passerby or lesser castmember has touted some weakly-held opinion that Milholland or the cast views as idiotic, and is then berated for it.
- Stealth Pun: This strip has Jason begging Aubrey to take part in the Pirates of the Caribbean MMORPG, to which she'll be doing something to Jason's rear-end. The pun? Aubrey's a Butt Pirate.
- More than that - she'd also be plundering his booty.
- Take Our Word for It: Mike's kid's appearance and the terrible shows the cast get involved in, especially the one Aubrey made that was so bad that the State of Massachusetts gave her a restraining order to keep her away from TV and film production gear.
- Take That: Used a lot, for very many groups and fandoms — Catholics, Warhammer Fantasy Battle, old-school D&D dorks — after all, it's not as cool as a Monopoly if it does not involves a prize — and the comic's own fans.
- Take That, Audience!: The mailbag spots and occasional author appearances are usually to say how stupid some of the comic's fans are, amid comments about the author being a talentless hack.
- Assorted logic failures and other dumbness said to Randy at conventions.
- Take That Me: Here.
- The Talk: Sanderson gives it to Rory while staying over as a guest. Hilarity Ensues when Rory realizes why his mom thought at one point that Davan might be his dad. And it only gets better from there.
Rory: Mr. Sanderson explained it all to me! You put your penis in her vulva and then she... ejaculated uterine linin' after you... you shed your X chromosomes. Then her placenta was born and you both thought it was a baby and you both thought that baby was me but it wasn't! Didn't you?!
- Talking to the Dead
- Tear Jerker: In-universe example. Davan pulled out this video to make Jason cry when he said he didn't cry over songs, because that was stupid and over-emotional. It worked maybe a bit too well.
- Tempting Fate: Kharisma... Right here. And it ties in with a Genre Savvy moment, to boot.
- The Un-Smile: Dude...
- The Something Song:
"Meth Song, Meth Song,
- Thermometer Gag: Davan demands his doctor take his temperature orally during a checkup, to which the doctor responds "Fine, but you're the first person to ask me to stick a rectal thermometer in his mouth."
- Too Dumb to Live: Several, but special mention to Kharisma, who openly bragged about a murder bet she made with Avagadro...which bites her right square in the ass when she's convicted of his murder, even though he died of natural causes.
- Too Much Information (Also a kind of Shutting Up Now): Vanessa's mouth sometimes runs away with her, and ends up in terrible places.
- Transparent Closet: Lisa was never fooling her family for a second, though she thought she was and was deathly embarassed of her orientation.
- Troll: Davan and Jason. Especially when working together.
- True Companions: Davan, PeeJee, Aubrey and Jason compose the core of the circle, with something like a dozen other characters forming the periphery. Lots and lots of snarking and bitching, but they've demonstrated a willingness — nay, an eagerness — to commit felonies on behalf of one another.
- Unfortunate Names: Mike's kid Shazam Wil-Wheaton Dowden and the Santa actor Shirley Koklik. To some extent, Davan himself, as nobody knows how to pronounce it (it's Dah-van, not Dave-N).
PeeJee: Why would you call me "Penny-Jenny" and then act shocked that I'm prone to violent outbursts?
- Vitriolic Best Buds: The whole cast.
- Wall of Text: One of the worst offenders, though it's part of the comic's charm, and the producer of some of the better strips. Let's just say that Milholland REALLY likes his characters with Backstory. Like this word-wall.
- Webcomic Time: Which bounces back and forth: events generally keep up with the dates on which they take place, albeit a few days before and after.
- Webcomics Long Runners: Coming up on nine years, as of Dec. 17, 2009.
- Welcome to the Big City: A character moves to the city and is helped by a kindly old lady, only to later discover said sweet old lady had relieved her of her wallet.
- Wham! Episode: "Just Today."
- What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Apparently, Davan's and Vanessa's opinions of Hard Lemonade fall into this trope.
- Whatevermancy: Aubrey, in the January 9, 2002 strip, refers to using sex appeal to get into a club without paying a cover charge as "Vaginamancy".
- What Happened to the Mouse?: A few subplots have been dropped over the years, as different parts of character's lives get ignored (or just not focused on). Davan and Jason were initially supposed to be producing Titus Andronicus (even auditioning for it), but it got dropped when he moved to Texas. Later strips involve a play Davan re-wrote instead. Certain subplots seem to have been dropped, only to reappear later on (such as Monette's "Big Secret" — which turned out to be her TV show, and Davan and Jason's work on Neko-Neko Holy-Chan). New character Bian was introduced, but then went several months before actually meeting any of the recurring cast.
- The most epic (and possibly deliberate) use was Monette's baby — she had a big pregnancy storyline, and then one strip showed her sad while somebody mentioned that she "lost her baby". It was done either really clumsily, or very Magnificent Bastardly by Randy, to the point where fans re-scoured recent Archival updates to find out when the baby really died. Turns out, that was the first time it was mentioned.
- Word of God: A veritable ton of information is available about the strip and the backstory behind it by Milholland's interviews and commentaries. Just which situations are based off of real events, and which characters are based off of specific people, is often answered.
- World of Snark: Virtually everyone has some sort of sarcastic jab they can pull at someone else.
- Write What You Know: Among other details, Davan's awful job in Medicaid billing ("I phone people and tell them that while we're sorry their son died in a drive-by shooting, here's an $800 bill for the ambulance") was what Milholland did for a living before S*P became profitable enough to support him.
- Write Who You Know: Most of the main characters, and some of the secondary cast, are based on Milholland's friends and family. Davan is based on Milholland himself as he was several years earlier, and Aubrey is based on Clarine Harp, now a fairly well-known anime voice actress. Milholland has explained that various other characters are based off of "combinations" of people he knew. Specifically, Eva was based off of two separate people (one nice girl, one a basket case), as was Mike (one got better from his misogynistic whiny geek phase, the other got worse).
- In-universe, Davan based the villain of a play he re-wrote off of his dad, justifying it as needing the villain to be the most interesting person in the play.
- Yandere: The catgirls.
- Yaoi Fangirl: Aubrey encourages PeeJee to become one to get over her crush on Jhim. Also, this.
- Zany Scheme: Aubrey. Her friends realise they can only ride the wave until she loses interest or it all falls apart - until one of them works.
- Later on, when said zany scheme is self-sustaining enough, she gets tired of it and goes back to her old notebooks to see if she can try again on some of her old ideas...only to discover that they all suck.
- Zombie Apocalypse: But with catgirls!