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Tropes A-C | Tropes D-F | Tropes G-I | Tropes J-L | Tropes M-O | Tropes P-R | Tropes S-U | Tropes V-Z

The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Da Chief: The Chief, of Cliffport fame.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Xykon; Daimyo Kubota; Tarquin
  • Dark Action Girl: Sabine; Tsukiko; Crystal; Samantha... Haley notes a pattern of her fighting "airborne tramps."
  • Darker and Edgier
    • Not that the comic is exactly "light and fluffy", but prequel book Start of Darkness is significantly darker than the online comic's average tone.
    • Things have gotten a turn for the dark starting around comic #823. The Resistance falls arc and three teams are headed for the same gate: Team Evil, the Order of the Stick and The Linear Guild. And then the entire Draketooth family turns out to be dead, and guess who's responsible?
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Invoked by Belkar after Haley assumes that V's new black robes, glowing eyes, and evil whispers mean that s/he's turned evil. Belkar, too, is convinced of that, but defends Vaarsuvius with this argument just to mess with everyone's heads.
  • Darkness Von Gothickname
    • When she was a gloomy goth teenager, Haley called herself Dark Mistress Shadowgale.
    • When Celia disguises herself as an evil necromancer, she uses the name Darkblood Gloomgloom.
  • Deader Than Dead: The fate of everyone killed by the Snarl. Maybe.
  • Dead Guy Puppet: Lord Shojo does this, in order to make a point that it's the heroes' fault the corpse is dead. To be fair, he's planning to bring the dude back to life.
  • The Dead Have Eyes
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most of the characters fall into this at some point, but Roy took extra points in this skill. Vaarsuvius comes only second to Roy in the snark, and being The Spock he's even more deadpan. And V's raven familiar seems to take after his wizard. On the villain's side, Redcloak is no slouch either.
  • Death Is Cheap: Not literally; coming Back From the Dead is actually rather expensive. But price aside, it's usually not all that difficult, except when the plot requires it to be, as in Roy Greenhilt's case, or in special situations like being killed by the Snarl or dying of old age. This is Lampshaded to the extent that a character calling for reinforcements (Haley in Old Blind Pete's cellar) suggests they bring the wherewithal to resurrect her and her friends. Also, you can apparently do the old "challenge Death to a game for your life" thing. And you can pick Wet T-Shirt Contest as your game.
  • Deceased Fall Guy Gambit
    • Kubota announces his intention to do this to Therkla. V, of course, interrupts by disintegrating him.
    • Redcloak frames Tsukiko for treachery as an excuse for why he killed her — when in fact, he killed her for knowing that he is the one betraying Xykon.
  • Deconstructed Trope
    • Miko, as she develops, touches on what a Lawful Stupid Knight Templar would be like realistically.
    • Start of Darkness deconstructs the hell out of the assumptions underpinning D&D as a whole, particularly Always Chaotic Evil.
    • Token Evil Teammate is also deconstructed with Belkar, showing why a mostly good party would put up with someone like him.
  • Defied Trope
  • Deity of Humanoid Origin: Both the Dark One and the elven gods were once ordinary mortals who ascended.
  • Deliberately Monochrome
    • The prequel books are fully in greyscale. According to the author, this is to give them a "nostalgic" feeling, since these are the "home movie" of the OotS characters. Which is mostly a joking explanation — the primary reason being costs.
    • Dwarven Darkvision.
    • The Fiends' hypothetic scenario.
  • Delicious Fruit Pies: From "Proof That I Am Deeply Disturbed.
  • Denouement: Several examples at the end of the Don't Split the Party arc, starting from around "But Seriously, She Won't".
  • Depth Deception: In "A Matter of Perspective", the starmetal appears huge at first but is really smaller than a fist.
  • Description Cut: "Thog like breaking stuff."
  • Destructive Saviours: Dorukan's Dungeon, the Weary Travelers Inn and Tavern, Azure City... few places seem to survive contact with the Order of the Stick.
  • Deus Ex Machina
    • During the siege of Azure City, Roy beheads Xykon's undead dragon. The head crushes a Death Knight that is overwhelming Vaarsuvius; V later complains that it was a lame "deus ex machina".
    • When V cast Familicide on an ancient black dragon in "If They Pull a Knife... ", the first victim is a black dragon currently battling against a pair of adventurers — who are left wondering just what the heck caused their opponent to inexplicably drop dead in front of them.
    • The MitD plays this role in "The Path of Least Expectation", teleporting Vaarsuvius and O-chul to safety.
  • Did Mom Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?
  • Didn't We Use This Joke Already?
  • Did We Just Have Tea with Cthulhu?
    • O-Chul and MitD.
    • Also Haley, Belkar and the MitD.
  • Dirty Coward: Thanh accuses Redcloak of being one when he decides to attack the resistance directly, but for the most part uses summons to fight against them. In truth, he simply prefers not being a front-line fighter. And he does actually fight a few of the paladins directly...with gruesome results.
  • Disaster Dominoes: The well-oiled machine bit from the On the Origin of PCs book.
  • Discreet Drink Disposal: Durkon with the bloodwart tea.
  • Disintegrator Ray: The Disintegrate spell. A favorite of Vaarsuvius; also used by Redcloak, Lirian, and Xykon.
  • Disposing of a Body
  • Disproportionate Retribution
    • This is the main motto of Nale and the Linear Guild, even mentioned on their business cards.
    • Vaarsuvius. Ancient Black Dragon. "Familicide!"
    • Tiamat is promised five good dragons dead for every black dragon killed by V.
    • General Tarquin offers to give the pair of bounty hunters 8,000 gp for their trouble in accidentally bringing in Elan instead of Nale. Gannji then demands 50,000 instead because he has a thermal detonator (which is actually a soup can — he was just keeping up a Running Gag). Tarquin then "misplaces" some court paperwork, leaving the bounty hunters sentenced to die in the arena for attempting to extort him in front of his son.
  • Distracting Disambiguation
  • The Ditz
    • Elan, when he's not The Fool, or both simultaneously.
    • Thog
    • Celia has her moments, explained in part by her status as an Outsider and therefore someone not familiar with the customs of the Material Plane. She's also from the Elemental Plane of Air, making her an "airhead".
    • Crystal. She once asks a blind ex-rogue if he has seen who she's looking for.
  • Diving Save
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: Yeah, yeah, we know V's genocide of the black dragons was evil. But damn was it powerful, damn did it look awesome, and damn it if comic #639 didn't vicariously satisfy every major revenge fantasy the readers have ever had. In fact, the entire Soul Splice arc did wonders for V's character depth and popularity, regardless of any evil things V did in the storyline. Antihero-esque lust for power combined with insufferable snarking and heroic desperation? PSL Webcomics page, here we come!
  • Dope Slap
    • In the prequel book On the Origins of PCs, after a fair warning to Vaarsuvius (who was getting annoying), Haley performs a "Sneak Attack Upside the Head".
    • Nale dope-slaps his twin brother Elan in this strip. Apparently, that's a reflex from early childhood.
    • Strip #89 features a rare aversion of the dope-slap.

 Roy: (probably — he's invisible) ... You're lucky attacking ends the spell, or I would smack the crap out of all of you.


 Tarquin: It's weird, no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he's lovable.


 Belkar: Duck.





 Roy: Hey gnome! There are two ways this can go down: the easy way or the hard way.

Leeky: Druids always pick the hard way; it encourages natural selection.


 Redcloak: I mean, fire shouldn't even count. It's a chemical reaction!

Vaarsuvius: Does he not know that the classical elements are classics for a reason??

  • Elfeminate: A large part of the reason Varsuvius and kin get stuck with the Ambiguous Gender gag.
  • Enigmatic Empowering Entity: Two of these. Both are of the scam artist kind, but different kinds of scams.
    • An Angel "of pure Good and Law" clears the heroes' names, making them innocent of a very serious crime in the eyes of an order of paladins. However, the trial is just a Sham Ceremony, and the "angel" is just a manipulative ghost disguised as an angel.
    • The evil trio who tempts V takes on the role of Enigmatic Empowering Entities, but subverts the role to snare the wizard. V is manipulated into accepting a price s/he doesn't understand and is tricked to believe that s/he has an excuse to let her more destructive tendencies run wild without accepting true responsibility for the havoc. Also, the power they give is tainted and fatally flawed in itself, not at all what V had imagined "Ultimate Arcane Power" to be.
  • Episode Zero the Beginning: One of the Start of Darkness issues.
  • Equal Opportunity Evil: The Lawful Evil Empire of Blood employs humans, lizardfolks and kobolds indiscriminately, from the lowliest foot soldiers or slave drivers to the upper echelons of society, including the Empress' main counselors (with a human general, a lizardfolk high priest and a winged-kobold chancellor).
  • Escalating Brawl: The argument between Roy, Gannji and Enor ends up in a serious pub brawl.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones
    • Tarquin is an amoral sociopath, but he deeply loves his son Elan.
    • Redcloak loved his brother -- just not quite enough.
    • Sabine may be an evil personification of pure lust, but her relationship with Nale is quite solid.
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • Belkar won't let anyone hurt Mr. Scruffy.
    • There are also things so horrible, that not even Nale is willing to consider.
    • Xykon is known to mock Redcloak for having standards about whom they can crush and how much evil they can do in their efforts to conquer the world and bring equality to goblinkind.
    • Although even Xykon do have some small standards — namely, he's not a "disgusting biophiliac" and is squicked by Tsukiko's crackfic-worthy fantasies.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Monster in the Darkness; the Oracle of Sunken Valley; the Chief; the Rookie
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs
    • Elan dreams of being transformed into an "Elanosaurus rex".
    • The Empire of Blood is shown to use dinosaurs as mounts.

 Vaarsuvius: Not surprisingly, ethical concerns cannot overcome the siren's lure of a triceratops ride.

    • There's an Allosaurus which feeds on gladiators who've lost in the arena.
    • Blackwing prefers to think of himself as a "super-advanced flying stealth dinosaur".
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Many characters, especially Xykon and Nale.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Linear Guild's main purpose, this is actually mentioned in-universe when The Order of the Stick and the Linear Guild first meet.
    • Roy/Thog and later, Tarquin.
    • Elan/Nale
    • Haley/Sabine
    • Belkar/Yikyik replaced by his son Yokyok and then Yukyuk after the deaths of the first two.
    • Vaarsuvius/Zz'dtri
    • Durkon/Hilgya replaced by Leeky, and Malack, though Hilgya is Affably Evil and Malack may simply be My Master, Right or Wrong.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy
    • Vaarsuvius was already aware of this, chose to ignore it, and is likely to pay some consequences in the next plot arc.
    • As revealed in the Start of Darkness prequel, Redcloak's plan, hatched by the god of goblinoids, the Dark One, to have a powerful divine and a powerful arcane caster manipulate the Gates to control the Snarl without completely releasing it, and then use the Snarl to force the other divine pantheons to give equal rights to the goblinoids and other humanoid "monsters" solely created to be experience point sword fodder for clerics of the other, older races. Redcloak is well aware that this might end with the death and unmaking of himself and Xykon, but is still determined to go through with the Plan.
    • Similarly, in Start of Darkness, Redcloak learns the hard way that Xykon is not a toy, or even a tool. Subverted, as it turns out; Redcloak still thinks of Xykon as a tool, just one which takes a little more skill than most to use. Whether or not this assumption will come back to bite him in the arse again, time alone will tell.
  • Evil Is One Big Happy Family: Even though it's the Trope Namer, subverted constantly. Evil characters don't care about the alignment of other characters, only whether or not they will help or hinder them in achieving their goals.

 Lee: Don't be silly, why would we want the lich to win?

Qarr: Because we're evil?

Cedrik: And that makes us all one big happy family? Screw that!

Note that the IFCC, despite defying the trope in the above quote, also play it completely straight, since their long-term goal is to forge a truce which will unite the warring fiends in an alliance against the forces of Good.
  • Faux Affably Evil
    • Xykon. Redcloak even lampshades it in a conversation with a hobgoblin goon.
    • Tarquin is so affable that a few people think that even after kicking a few dogs he's only True Neutral. He isn't.
    • The Giant seems to enjoy playing with the Faux Affably Evil trope in general: Redcloak averts it, both before and after his My God, What Have I Done? (before it, he doesn't bother to show the slightest concern for the hobgoblins, and after he genuinely does care about them), and Miko inverts it via Good Is Not Nice, though she's not so good after she kills Shojo, hence her being removed from paladinhood.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Averted; Celia convinces Haley not to kill Bozzok, leader of Greysky's thieves guild, in order to stop a power vacuum being created.
  • Evil Sorcerer
    • Xykon;
    • Nale, Elan's twin brother, who multiclassed as fighter/rogue/sorcerer specializing in enchantments (instead of being a bard like Elan);
    • Samantha, the spoiled sorceress daughter of the leader of the bandits of Wooden Forest;
    • Tsukiko, the evil mystic theurge (technically she is both a divine and arcane caster); Jirix brings that up when he questions whether she planned to betray the group, since she could potentially take control of the Snarl single-handedly provided she knew what to do.
    • Qarr the Imp;
    • Jephton the Unholy, the sorcerer-archmage used for Vaarsuvius's soul splice.
  • Exact Words
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Haley, throwing her distinctive knife into a wanted poster instead of the one holding it.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Test of the Heart.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask
    • Xykon conducts a job interview while storming the Azure City castle.
    • In the hypothetical scenario the archfiends suggest to Vaarsuvius instead of accepting their offer, V's master Aarindarius is shown defeating a powerful dragon while reading a book, not even bothering to look in its direction.
  • Exotic Entree: The banquet that Elan's father Tarquin holds in his honor. Poor Elan, not being the sort to enjoy such dishes, loses his appetite rather quickly.
  • Exposition Fairy: The title of strip #532.
  • The Extremist Was Right
    • Redcloak: the non-PC races really were set up for suffering, death and an utter lack of opportunities.
    • The Empire of Blood is a safer place to live than it had been before Tarquin. Though given just how bad it was before, this is all relative.
  • Eyepatch After Time Skip: Elan parodies the trope.
  • Eyepatch of Power
    • Right-Eye in Start of Darkness;
    • Redcloak as of comic #699.

 Xykon: I like you this way. It's like we have a grumpy pirate on the team.


 Hobgoblin cleric: *sniff* I think... I think there's something in my eye.


Belkar: Got it out for you.


 Elan: Excuse me, huddled masses! Pardon me! PC coming through! PC coming--

  • Face Palm: "The Great Roy Greenhilt & Everybody Else Facepalm Count"
  • Fake High: In "Madness", a being from the Lower Planes explains why Vaarsuvius (under the effects of a "soul splice") appears to have shifted more towards Evil on the character-alignment scale by presenting a college-university analogy: "It's like if you were at a party where someone has been drinking beer that they didn't know was non-alcoholic: They might seem drunk anyway, just because they were expecting it."
  • False-Flag Operation: Tarquin places his allies as advisors and uses them to manipulate rulers into conquering the western continent.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death
    • Miko gets torn in half.
    • ... And an ancient black dragon gets torn into much smaller pieces from the inside.
    • A first-level commoner gets disemboweled by a housecat.
    • Commander and Lieutenant of Team Peregrine get Imploded by Redcloak; the Resistance leader with the topknot and kimono gets ripped in half by a diabolic being. All in one convenient comic!
  • Famous Last Words
    • "Goodbye... Redcloak." -- Right-Eye, when his brother kills him.
    • "The combo is perfect, I'm telling you. As long as I move back 15 feet every--" -- Half-Ogre with spiked chain
    • "It appears... not everyone... agrees with your analysis." -- Shojo, when Miko falls from paladinhood for killing him. Also from him: "Everything I did, I did for my people."
    • "You'll never take this city while I'm alive, monster!" -- General Chang, just before the Death Knight accepts his terms.
    • "Maybe if I--" *SPLAT* -- Roy, coming up with so many ways to survive a fall that he doesn't notice the ground coming up beneath him.
    • "I regret to report than I am no longer fit for duty... Supreme Leader..." -- Hobgoblin commander, right before triggering Redcloak's My God, What Have I Done?.
    • Xykon and Redcloak almost die at the hands of the ghost paladins of the Sapphire Guard.

 Xykon: Hey, Redcloak, we really had a shot at the prize there, didn't we?

Redcloak: Yeah, we did.

    • "I--I can live with that..." -- Miko
    • "I'll take my chances... that the Afterlife... won't have any punishment worse... than not being with you..." -- Therkla
    • "Now come along, bring me to your master so we can begin the Trial of the Century." -- Kubota, right before V disintegrates him.
    • "No! No! You... You Monster!" -- Black Dragon Mom, when V slaughters her entire family for attempting to slaughter his or her family.
    • "Why don't... you love... me?" -- Tsukiko, being killed by her own undead minions.
  • Fandom Nod: Many, including Miko (not) becoming a Death Knight.
  • Fangs Are Evil
  • Fan Service: Lampshaded during Haley's bath sequence in On the Origin of PCs.
  • Fantastic Nature Reserve: The room filled with outdated monsters in Dorukan's dungeon.
  • Fantastic Racism
    • Basically Redcloak's motivation both ways. His family was slaughtered because paladins don't consider his kind to have the right to exist, so he blames all humans for the actions of that group and kills them freely.
    • Classism: Wizards in general and Vaarsuvius in particular seem to look down on the other magic-using classes. Sorcerers are usually the targets, but being called a warlock is a dire insult.
  • Far East: (Or Far South, as the case may be.) Azure City would be a Fantasy Counterpart Culture for Japan, if it were at all consistent. Instead, names like "Miko Miyazaki" stand side by side with names like "O-Chul", and the people worship the Twelve Gods, the animals from the Chinese zodiac. This, naturally, is a pastiche of D&D's Oriental mishmash settings, most specifically the Oriental Adventures Sourcebook.
  • Fastball Special
    • Well, "Tetherball Special", anyhow. That one's even called "Wolverine, Eat Your Heart Out".
    • Also, what happens when you sit on Durkon's head as he casts Thor's Might.
  • Fast Forward Mechanic: Invoked in "Time is On My Side".
  • Fatal Flaw
    • The Pride and inability to admit that his/her magic can't do everything of Vaarsuvius, as pointed out by the fiends in #634. See also here: "Mistakes were made all around, but the important thing is that this needless conflict is now over WITHOUT the loser's entire family line getting totally eradicated. So, you know. Progress."
    • On the Origin of PCs has Roy claiming that belief in the complete supremacy of arcane magic is a common flaw among spellcasters.
    • Thinking he knows more about a situation than he actually does is Roy's Fatal Flaw. If Roy had known that liches can regenerate from a phylactery from the very beginning, he could have made sure Xykon was Deader Than Dead and wouldn't have been able to return to kill him later. This also lead to Miko becoming wrongfully suspicious of Roy, with disastrous consequences. In a Too Clever by Half moment, he also believed he had outsmarted the Oracle when the latter was more than happy to just tell him which Gate Xykon was headed towards next. Later, he dismissed the Celestial's warnings about V's Deal with the Devil because he thought she was talking about Belkar.
  • Fate Worse Than Death
    • The Ancient Black Dragon intended to bind Vaarsuvius' children souls to it forever, and Xykon has a fondness for trapping the souls of important enemies in gems. This is subverted when he imprisons Dorukan in the same gem as Lirian.
    • A slightly more humorous example: after willingly being abused and used as a weapon by Belkar in order to not be destroyed, the head of the "Eye of Fear and Flame" (one of Xykon's three decoys) finally draws the line when the latter announces his intentions to eventually use him as an "emergency chamber pot".
    • Another humorous example: Kobold Kitty Litter.

 Durkon: Uh... wait. Aren't ye gonna, y'know, kill the kobold first?

V & Belkar: No.


 Belkar: Here's an idea: Let's never do this again.

Haley: Yeah, like we're never gonna need filler again. Dream on, shorty.

  • Fox News: Referenced briefly as the horrible method Gnomes get information, it looks like Burlew is taking a shot at the news outlet... until the panel cuts away to a bunch of gnomes listening to an actual fox, red, white-tipped tail, yipping noises and everything. Let's face it, if you got all your news from a small furry animal, some things would slip through the cracks.
  • Friendly War: We have three desert empires that always struggle against each other. However, they are secretly allied with each other. The conflict between them is merely an excuse to take over other nations, as well as a safeguard to keep the other peoples from uniting against them.
  • Funetik Aksent: Durkon, lampshaded.

 Belkar: Wait, he can pronounce "stratosphere" but not "the"?


 Vaarsuvius: And yet I see no reason why I still need ye. You.

  1. ("just as strong [as Earth], and 40% lighter")
  2. (one of the hardest natural metals, twice as heavy as lead)