[[quoteright:326:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cerebus.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:326:Cerebus has just spotted a bus full of nuns. He is not amused.]]

''Cerebus the Aardvark'' was a comic book created by Dave Sim that [[CerebusSyndrome developed slowly]] from episodic comedy to high drama to AuthorTract. Beginning in December 1977 and ending in 2004, it clocks in at over six thousand pages, making it the longest work in comic form by a single author in the West. Somewhere around the sixth issue, Sim decided to devote the next twenty-five years of his life to producing a three hundred issue storyline with a [[MythArc plotted-out beginning, middle, and end]].

Sim had begun ''Cerebus'' as a ''ConanTheBarbarian'' [[SatireParodyPastiche pastiche]] in black and white line art, in the same vein as later independent comic ''ComicBook/{{Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles|Mirage}}''. The silly parody starred a barbarian aardvark AntiHero, back in the days when having a FunnyAnimal interacting with humans hadn't been done to death. Along the way, he ran into his {{Love Interest|s}} Jaka, who started off as a one-shot {{Stripperiffic}} character. Umpteen issues later, she would re-appear, now fully fleshed-out. He also met the Roach, a {{superhero}} [[TheParody parody]] initially similar to ''TheTick''. Much later, Sim would exploit the pathos inherent in the character.

Behind the scenes, Sim experimented with LSD and drove himself beyond exhaustion creating and publishing his comic book. Overwork caused Sim to have a CreatorBreakdown. He even spent a day in a mental institution.

Around issue 26, the Aardvark gave up his barbarian ways, and thus began the ''High Society'' StoryArc. He ran into the manipulative Astoria and the scary proto-feminist Cirinist matriarch Cirin. Astoria's scheming got Cerebus a job as prime minister and, later, a brutish, morally warped pope. Back in the real world, Sim split up from his wife Deni Loubert, who was also co-owner of the comic's Aardvark-Vanaheim publishing company, and background artist [[OnlyOneName Gerhard]] was brought on board starting with issue 65, his highly detailed backgrounds earning praise and becoming a key element of the comic.

Cerebus wound up on the Moon (long story), got lectured at by an omniscient Judge who lived there(!), returned to Earth and found that his home had been taken over by the [[StrawFeminist Cirinists]]. He ran into Jaka, now married to a guy named Rick, and also Creator/OscarWilde. Yes, ''the'' Oscar Wilde, or rather ''an'' Oscar Wilde. In the world of ''Cerebus'', you see, characters can exist in multiple iterations at the same time.

The comic had, as the summary will imply, gotten more and more experimental. He began PaintingTheMedium, and diving into PostModernism. Among other assaults on the reader's sanity, Cerebus [[WriteWhoYouKnow met his creator]], Dave, who sent him to the planet Pluto and also [[EyeScream injured Cerebus' eyeball]]. Creator/AlanMoore (who should know) would later congratulate Sim for doing the most accurate portrayal of the mystical experiences ever put down into fiction.

By then the comic had lengthy all-text pages, some of which were used to explain Sim's ever-changing theories on the creation of the universe and on Literature/TheBible. Editorials became increasingly controversial and verbose. Mostly, they defended creator rights over comic properties, rights agreed-upon by several well-known and respected comic book creators. It could be argued that Sim's rants were fundamental to the development of independent publishers in the nineties, such as {{Image}}. On the other hand, his anti-feminist views, in the beginning moderate, but growing more aggressive issue by issue and finally becoming public with the infamous issue #186, were heavily criticized as misogynistic, nutty and loathsome (as ''The Comics Journal'' described them), alienating both the audience and professional reviewers.

While reading the Bible and Qur'an in preparation for the ''Rick's Story'' arc, Sim underwent a religious experience and converted to an idiosyncratic mixture of Judaism, Islam and Christianity (his political beliefs similarly shifting to more unhinged territory). As a result, the last issues dealt with Cerebus gaining religion, and the final fates of Cerebus, the Cirinists, and their respective empires and allies, and proved to be even more controversial than anything that had come before.

To paraphrase Sim himself, he set out to write three hundred issues of a life that "made sense", unlike ''Comicbook/{{Spider-Man}}'' or ''Comicbook/{{Superman}}'', three hundred issues of whose series "don't make sense as a story or a life".

While Sim gave us liberty to use his characters without the threat of copyright infringement lawsuits, it has yet to be adapted to any other medium. Oh, and once he dies (Sim, not Cerebus), all of his work will enter the public domain.

Generally accepted as proving that works of astonishing scope and dedication can be achieved if you don't mind going completely crazy in the process.

'''Story arcs'''
* ''Cerebus'' [[note]]Issues #1-25, not really an arc so much as a mostly episodic series of shorter stories ranging from one to about four issues[[/note]]
* ''High Society'' [[note]]Issues #26-50[[/note]]
* ''Church and State'' I and II [[note]]Issues #52-80, 81-111[[/note]]
* ''Jaka's Story'' [[note]]Issues #114-136[[/note]]
* ''Melmoth'' [[note]]Issues #139-150[[/note]]
* Mothers and Daughters:
** ''Flight'' [[note]]Issues #151-162[[/note]]
** ''Women'' [[note]]Issues #163-174[[/note]]
** ''Reads'' [[note]]Issues #175-186[[/note]]
** ''Minds'' [[note]]Issues #187-200[[/note]]
* ''Guys'' [[note]]Issues #201-219[[/note]]
* ''Rick's Story'' [[note]]Issues #220-231[[/note]]
* Going Home:
** ''Going Home'' [[note]]Issues #232-250[[/note]]
** ''Form and Void'' [[note]]Issues #251-265[[/note]]
* Latter Days:
** ''Latter Days'' [[note]]Issues #266-288[[/note]]
** ''The Last Day'' [[note]]Issues #289-300[[/note]]

Currently, [[AnimatedAdaptation an animated feature film]] is in the works. It will be an adaptation of the earlier issues, apparently with Sim's full blessing. If this has gotten your interest, the production company uploads the daily footage (also known as "dailies") to their Website/YouTube channel [[http://www.youtube.com/user/WhatComics here]].

An even earlier (albeit short-lived) [[http://www.jazzbastards.org/cerebus/Cerebus_The%20A-V%20Room.html adaptation was done for radio]] in the early eighties.

Not to be confused with the [[{{Hellhound}} Guardian-Dog of Hades]], '''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cerberus Cerberus]]''', and ''certainly not'' with that [[WesternAnimation/{{Arthur}} other aardvark]]. May have inspired a misspelling of a [[VideoGame/GoldenSun certain video game boss monster]].

----
!!This comic provides examples of:

* AbortedArc: An early story arc had Cerebus and a band of mercenaries capture a commander named Krull as part of an elaborate military campaign. A later story even depicts them having difficulty keeping Krull imprisoned, seeming to foreshadow an upcoming conflict or complication. However, Sim suddenly and unceremoniously dumps the story line, ultimately having it resolve itself offscreen. Not only that, it is never mentioned how (or even if) Krull affected the campaign's outcome.
* AcidRefluxNightmare: Jokingly referenced rather than used. In the ''Guys'' story arc, Cerebus has an alcohol-induced nightmare involving Roaring Rick Veitch and his Rare-Bit Fiends. This is a parody of Veitch's actual comic/dream journal ''Roarin' Rick's Rare Bit Fiends'', which was based off Windsor [=McCay=]'s comic strip ''Dreams of a Rarebit Fiend'', whose title referenced the notion that eating too much [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welsh_rarebit Welsh rarebit]] would cause nightmares.
* ActionGirl: Red Sophia in the early issues...granted, Cerebus doesn't think any of her victories have been against formidable opponents.
* {{Adventure}}: Pretty much every issue until ''High Society'', either as standalone stories or as 2-3 issue arcs.
* AnAesop: The Victor Reid subplot in ''Reads'' delivers one about how artists shouldn't "sell out".
* AesopAmnesia: ''Immediately'' after [[spoiler:''Minds'', Cerebus goes back to his JerkAss persona and self-destructive way of life..]]
* AffectionateParody:
** Elrod is a parody of both [[TheElricSaga Elric]] and [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Foghorn Leghorn]]. It's unclear whether Sim actually likes Elric, but he has a very high opinion of Foghorn and considers his cartoons to be some of the very best WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes shorts.
** One of the ''Latter Days'' chapters/issues is an AffectionateParody of ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}'' and uses many of Schulz's narrative devices.
* TheAlcoholic:
** Cerebus gets smashed whenever he can.
** Most of the male characters in ''Guys'' hit this trope to some degree as well.
** Cirinist society actually enables this trope; unmarried men tend to be sequestered in bars because the state provides free room and board for them and all the alcohol they can handle. The thought process is that they will either get tired of that lifestyle, shape up, and leave to find a wife, or eventually drink themselves to death.
* AlternativeCalendar: Cerebus creates a 4-month calendar...or ''tries'' to.
* AnimatedAdaptation:
** Some time in the 80s, Sim made some animation cels for some very short Cerebus stories. Never came to anything beyond that.
** A [[http://www.cerebus3d.com feature-length movie]], still in development.
* AnimateDead: Happens in the first issue.
* AnthologyComic: Some of the one-shot specials (''Cerebus Jam'', ''The Cerebus World Tour Book'', etc.) fell into this category. Each story within was helmed by a different guest artist (sometimes solo, sometimes in collaboration with Sim).
* AntiHero: Cerebus, although before things got serious, he was really more of a parody than a straight example.
* ArcWords
** Whenever "Something fell!" shows up, expect something '''major''' to happen soon. It doesn't even have to be said to have power: [[spoiler:Jaka nearly falls off a gangplank at the end of ''Going Home'', but recovers and gets Cerebus out of a really dangerous situation. At the end of ''Form and Void'', she ''does'' fall down, and proceeds to add salt to an already open wound and cause Cerebus to finally and utterly reject her]].
** "G'wan! Beat it! Scram!". It's originally advice given to Rick by Cerebus as a way of getting rid of pesty women, but it takes on a much darker significance later on when [[spoiler:Cerebus hits Jaka with it at the end of ''Form and Void'', screaming the "SCRAM!" at her]].
** "Mungu Mkono" (Swahili for "the Hand of God") in the latter parts of the story.
** "Devils, vipers, and scorpions"
* ArtEvolution: Sim's artwork and character designs showed drastic improvement over the course of the first hundred issues or so, especially after Gerhard took over backgrounds, freeing Sim to focus on the characters. The art also took another leap when Sim began experimenting with photorealism in the later issues of "Chasing YHWH". He carried this technique into ''glamourpuss'' and ''Judenhass''.
* AscendedExtra: According to Sim, Jaka was originally supposed to be a one-shot character.
* {{Asexuality}}: Only at first. In ''Cerebus'' and ''High Society'', Cerebus seems uninterested in women, apart from Jaka, and at first even that was only because [[spoiler:he was drugged]]. After his marriage to Red Sophia in ''Church and State'', sex becomes almost as sought after as booze, and it ends up getting him in trouble in many, many ways.
** This being said, Cerebus had a crush on a blonde girl when he was a kid. Also, although this one is more of a retcon, Cerebus tells Michelle that he lived with a woman for a time many years prior. There seems to be a degree of affection between him and Michelle as well, although nothing comes of it.
* AsideGlance:
** Cerebus does this in ''High Society'' after learning that his would-be kidnappers used their real names (and real signatures) to sign the ransom note.
** He also does this in ''Reads'' in the BeatPanel between [[spoiler:Astoria telling him he's a hermaphrodite]] and his reaction.
* AuthorAvatar: Some readers believed that Rick himself was this for Sim, which Sim has gone on record denying. There are also two more explicit author avatars: "Dave", who mainly just appears as a voice in Cerebus' head, and Viktor Davis, an author whose career resembles Sim's. (Sim's full name is David Victor Sim.)
* AuthorFilibuster: It starts with ''Reads'' and then gradually gets worse and worse.
** To elaborate: ''Reads'', in addition to the comic material, has two lengthy prose sections, with parts spread over each individual issue in the arc. The first is a fictional depiction of a "reads" writer who lets his greed get the better of him and sells his work to a big-name publishing company, and what happens to him and his work afterwards.[[note]]This theme also shows up in ''ComicBook/{{Spawn}}'' #10, a crossover with ''Cerebus''.[[/note]] The second is a surreal attack on the readers' perceptions of the fourth wall, narrated by Viktor Davis, and also introduces the "male light/female void" material in issue #186, which is where the serious misogyny accusations began.
** Applies not only to the story but to Sim's notes, both in the individual issues and the phonebooks, for content and for sheer verbosity.
** Becomes most troubling with "Chasing YHWH" of which Sim seems ''to believe every word.'' This culminates in the opening pages of ''The Last Day'', which is a combination of the Big Bang theory and Sim's unconventional views on the God/YHWH problem.
* BabiesMakeEverythingBetter: Averted. Neither Cerebus, nor (if ''Latter Days'' is any indication) Sim himself seem to have a high view of either babies or fatherhood in general. It gets even worse in ''The Last Day''.
* {{Backstory}}: Cerebus's past before becoming a wandering mercenary, such as his stint as a city guard.
* {{Badass}}: The unnamed Hsifan Assassin from issues 21 and 22. Even Cerebus and the Roach barely put up a fight [[spoiler:except when he's posessed by Elrod]].
* BadassPacifist: Suenteus Po; although he definitely wasn't always that way, when "onscreen", he manages to solve all of his problems with reason and will. He encourages Cirin and Cerebus to try to do the same at least once (it fails miserably, though they do show him just enough respect to wait until he's out of sight before they start beating the shit out of each other).
* BarbarianHero: Cerebus is a deconstruction/parody of this.
* BatmanCanBreatheInSpace: The sections involving the Judge and "Dave" have Cerebus and Cirin floating around in outer space with no ill effects at all.
* BeatPanel: Happen every now and then, with Cerebus' reaction to [[spoiler:Astoria telling him he's a hermaphrodite]] combining this with an AsideGlance.
* BecomingTheMask: Apparently, some of Lord Julius's "Like-A-Looks" do this.
* BerserkButton: Talking about hurting or threatening Jaka within earshot of Cerebus is an effective form of suicide. This has been done both humorously and...not so humorously.
* BigDamnHeroes:
** Lord Julius in his first appearance.
** [[spoiler:Baskin]], who saves [[spoiler:Lord Julius]] in ''Flight''.
* BigEater: Boobah has a pretty big appetite. It tends to get him into trouble.
* BlackCloak: [[spoiler:Po]] and [[spoiler:the being who thinks it is [[TheGrimReaper Death]].]]
* BlackComedy:
** Cerebus's brief tenure as Pope does this.
** Generally, the humor in ''Cerebus'' doesn't so much go away as get darker as it goes on.
* BloodierAndGorier: Starts with the epilogue of ''Melmoth'' and continues right through the ''Mothers & Daughters'' arc.
* BodySurf
** Elrod as Deadalbino.
** [[spoiler:Charles X. Claremont]] is revealed to have done this in ''Church & State''.
* BoobsOfSteel: The Cirinist fighters are very big and very strong. The proportions match up. Interestingly, they're not drawn as AmazonianBeauties; they're too straight-up scary for that. [[http://i48.tinypic.com/2ujo66e.jpg Have a look.]]
* BoundAndGagged: Happens to several characters, but Cerebus gets this treatment the most. Usually (but not always) done comedically.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: Cerebus learns in ''Minds'' that he's a character in "Dave"'s story`. This affects his life to varying degrees through ''Guys'' and ''Rick's Story''.
* BreatherEpisode:
** Issue 51 was a self-contained, comedic story set just between ''High Society'' and ''Church and State''.
** Issues 137 and 138, set between ''Jaka's Story'' and ''Melmoth'' (both extremely moody and emotional stories), tell a light-hearted story about Lord Julius and his staff.
** The largely comedic ''Guys'' comes between the Mother and Daughters Arc and Cerebus' emotional reunion with Jaka.
** The first few issues of the ''Latter Days'' arc bridged the heavily emotional ending of ''Form and Void'' and the main portion of the new arc where Cerebus [[spoiler:finally defeats the Cirinists once and for all]].
* BriarPatching: Weisshaupt is forced to resort to this when Pope Cerebus threatens his men with eternal damnation if they obey his orders.
* BrickJoke: In ''The Last Day'', an aged, decrepit Cerebus has a scene where he begs God for [[ToiletHumour "a last proper fart"]] before he dies. Guess what the last thing he manages to do after he falls out of his bed but before breaking his neck and dying is?
* ButtMonkey: Cerebus himself, frequently.
* CallARabbitASmeerp: In Estarcion, books are called "reads", although they are much more heavily illustrated than normal books.
* TheCatCameBack: In ''High Society'', Elrod turns up at the Regency Hotel unannounced to meet Cerebus, much to the latter's annoyance. Cerebus beats Elrod over the head and pays a taxi driver to take the unconscious nuisance to the docks and put him on the next boat going far away. Of course, by the time Cerebus returns to his hotel room, he finds that Elrod, now sopping wet, has somehow managed to beat him there.
* CatchPhrase: A few --
** Bear's constant use of "Whattyacall" (almost a VerbalTic).
** Cerebus' "G'wan! Beat it! Scram!" advice to Rick.
** The Conniptin war cry:
---> Might makes Right! Might for Right! Might for Might! Right for Might! Fight! Fight! Fight!
** Cerebus's favorite swear word: Tarim (the name for the god that he worships for most of the series). He starts using it as a BattleCry in ''War of the Independents''.
* CelebrityEndorsement:
** In a sense. Sim, for his entire career, has been a very outspoken advocate for independent comic writers and titles, even creating a how-to book for self-publishing.
** Creator/SonnyStrait has confessed to being a fan and is mentioned by Sim several times in ''Collected Letters''.
* CelibateHero: Played straight initially. Then, it's subverted and finally retconned away entirely.
* ChainmailBikini:
** Red Sophia's standard attire, which is only fitting since she's a direct parody of ComicBook/RedSonja. This leads to a funny remark from Cerebus about the side effects of such attire.
--->(''Red Sophia tries to put the moves on Cerebus, to no avail'')\\
'''Red Sophia''': Alright, you furry gray celibate. What do you think of ''these''?! *whips her top off*\\
'''Cerebus''': They'd probably heal if you'd stop wearing that [[InvokedTrope chainmail bikini]].
** Inverted by the Cirinists; often their eyes are the only parts uncovered.
* CharacterizationMarchesOn: The Artist. Remember in his debut appearance how he was just a friendly, over-enthusiastic dimwit who was perfectly happy to be an ExtremeDoormat? Remember [[JerkAss what he was like]] [[SmugSnake later on]] [[NotSoHarmlessVillain in]] ''Church and State''?
* CharacterTitle: Both the series as a whole and some of the individual phonebooks.
* CharlesAtlasSuperpower: The Roach from his Captain Cockroach incarnation onward, although he thinks it was through mystical means.
* CheekyMouth: Actually justified here, in that Cerebus has ''two mouths'' on opposite sides of his head. [[spoiler:Suenteus Po and Cirin are the same.]]
* {{Chessmaster}}:
** Weisshaupt stands out as the most accomplished, but Astoria and Lord Julius are also particularly adept.
** Suenteus Po is a literal version; he is perhaps the wisest character in the series yet is so humble that he believes any sort of action on his part that affects the world, in ''any'' way, would be arrogance. Thus, he spends ''all'' his time and intellect on playing chess...by himself. This is the only thing he does ''for several decades''.
* ChessMotifs: Scattered throughout the first half of ''Mothers and Daughters''
* ChickMagnet: Cerebus (makes no sense, but...) and Dirty Drew.
* ChildHater: Cerebus. Most kids aren't too crazy about him either.
* ChildrenAreInnocent: Averted. Cerebus had very violent, war-themed daydreams as a child. Also, see CreepyChild below.
* ChildSoldiers: In the ''Mothers and Daughters'' arc, Cerebus recalls killing a particularly annoying kid who also happened to be a captured enemy soldier.
* TheChosenOne: [[spoiler:Subverted. Cerebus '''was''' supposed to be this for the Pigts and [[WhatCouldHaveBeen would have had a grand destiny]] were it not for a seemingly-innocuous decision he'd made prior to his first encounter with them]].
* CloudCuckooLander: Elrod, The Roach, and The Regency Elf all qualify.
* ClusterFBomb: Lots of language throughout the series, with normalroach's tirade at the start of ''Melmoth'' as one of the most extreme examples, although it toned down after Sim's religious conversion.
* ConjoinedEyes: Cerebus.
* ConstructedWorld: [[spoiler:Possibly subverted, as it is implied if not outright stated that the world Cerebus inhabits eventually becomes ours.]]
* CoolAirship: Seen from a distance in ''Form and Void''.
* CorruptChurch
** In a sense. The Cirinists started out as a benevolent association of mothers who grouped together to bolster their communities. The movement spread like wildfire, and when it began to meet resistance from multiple fronts, a disciplinary / defensive section was formed...which then took over the movement when [[spoiler:the aardvark Serna, Cirin's best friend and co-founder of the movement, stole Cirin's identity, usurped her leadership, and had Cirin humiliated and punished as a traitor]].
** By the time of ''High Society'', the Church of Tarim has been corrupted from within by selfish and greedy individuals.
* CosmicPlaything: Ultimately subverted in [[spoiler:''Minds'' where Cerebus finally accepts that it's his own fault that his life turned out the way it did]].
* CrapsackWorld: Estaricon in ''The Last Day''.
* CreatorCameo: Sim makes two major appearances, first in ''Minds'' and then in ''Rick's Story''. Also, [[CaptainErsatz Viktor Davis]] shows up in ''Reads'' and is mentioned as being a friend of Rick's in ''Rick's Story''.
* CreepyChild: The bully who [[spoiler:stabbed Cerebus as a kid]].
* {{Crossover}}:
** Cerebus guest-stars in issue #8 of the original ''[[ComicBook/TeenageMutantNinjaTurtlesMirage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles]]''. The book is drawn by ''Turtles'' creators Eastman and Laird, with the exception of Cerebus himself, who is drawn by Sim.
** Cerebus also appeared in the highly self-referential ''{{Spawn}} #10.''
** Death from ''ComicBook/TheSandman'' appears in a [[LawyerFriendlyCameo single panel]] in the opening pages of ''Flight'' (the 7th Cerebus tpb).
** The short-lived Cerebus Radio show had brief cameos by impersonators of RockyAndBullwinkle in the adaptation of Issue 6. Bullwinkle does the pull-a-rabbit trick and pulls Cerebus out of his hat.
** Cerebus has also appeared as a major character in the first issue of Dave Ryan's ''War of the Independents'' alongside other characters such as TheTick, [[{{Bone}} Fone Bone]], ComicBook/TheSavageDragon, and others. How big of a part he'll play in the overall series remains to be seen and, due to [[DevelopmentHell various]] [[ScheduleSlip problems]], will likely remain to be seen for quite some time.
* {{Cult}}: Several show up in the early story arcs, including the Cirinists prior to their seizing power.
* CulturePolice: The Cirinists, in a rather idiosyncratic and selective way. Anything they believe is harmful to the welfare of mothers and children will make them go into full KnightTemplar mode. Pretty much anything else, they will ignore completely.
* CurbStompBattle
** Cerebus [[spoiler:killing the Cirinist]] at the end of ''Melmoth''.
** [[spoiler:Cerebus killing Cirin and her guards in an alternate scenario]] in ''Reads''.
*** Subverted when [[spoiler:he actually fights Cirin]]. It initially seems the trope is going this way, then [[spoiler:Cirin uses her size and strength to her advantage and nearly kills him]].
* CutenessProximity: [[DeconstructiveParody Deconstructed and parodied]] with the new fathers in ''Latter Days''. The [=TPB=]'s annotations confirm that this is a PetPeeveTrope for Sim.
* DaddysGirl: Astoria, in the squickiest way possible.
* DarkActionGirl: Geet-A, [[spoiler:Red Sophia's clone]], who seems to do nothing but grunt and fight.
* ADateWithRosiePalms:
** The Roach has these as Swoon, frequently.
** In one of the early ''Latter Days'' stories, Cerebus spent a lot of time in the bushes watching Gorsky's wife while she bathed.
* DavidVersusGoliath: Anytime Cerebus has a one-on-one fight with anyone, they're always much, much bigger than he is, with [[spoiler:Necross]] being the most extreme example. This becomes his main disadvantage when he fights againt [[spoiler:Cirin]] in ''Reads''.
* ADayInTheLimelight: ''Jaka's Story'', ''Rick's Story'', and the Lord Julius story that comes right before ''Melmoth''
* DeadpanSnarker: Astoria, Cerebus, Michelle, and '''especially''' Lord Julius.
* DeathIsCheap: Played hilariously straight with Captain Cockroach's sidekick, "Bunky", then averted after the CerebusSyndrome kicked in.
* DeathSeeker: In ''Latter Days'', [[spoiler:Cerebus eventually decides to stop aimlessly wandering around waiting to die and let the Cirinists do the job]].
* DecidedByOneVote: [[spoiler:The outcome of the election]] in ''High Society''.
* DecompressedComic
* {{Deconstruction}}: The later books do this to the earlier books. In the earlier books, any violent or morally questionable action Cerebus takes is treated as being all in good fun. Once CerebusSyndrome set in, the consequences of Cerebus' actions are thoroughly explored and often very unpleasant.
* DecoyDamsel: [[spoiler:Astoria]], in her first appearance.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: Parodied. Elrod offers his friendship to Cerebus after their first encounter and subsequently follows him around, but is oblivious to the fact that Cerebus wants nothing to do with him.
* {{Defictionalization}}: Happens in-universe: Joanne, introduced in the last "living with Jaka" scenario in ''Minds'', appears in ''Guys'' as an actual character.
* DemBones: The skeleton mooks in Issue 1.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment:
-->'''Cerebus''': Elrod of Melvinbone plans to come and steal your gold tomorrow.\\
'''Roach''': Aha!\\
'''Cerebus''': Aha? You mean you've heard of him?\\
'''Roach''': Heard of him? He's coming tomorrow to steal all my gold!
* DirtyOldMan: Sophia's father, who lampshades it himself, albeit accidentally.
* DisappearedDad
* DismantledMacGuffin: [[spoiler:Cerebus' helmet, medallions, and sword]] from the first issue. Crafted by the first of [[spoiler:his aardvark ancestors]], they [[spoiler:would have given Cerebus the power to conquer the world if he'd had them when he found the Pigt idol...but he sold the helmet a few issues prior]].
* DisneyVillainDeath: [[spoiler:The Artist, Woman-Thing]], and [[spoiler:[=SumpThing=]]].
* DistressedDamsel: Jaka, in her first appearance.
* TheDitz: The Artist in his first appearance and Elrod more generally.
* {{Doorstopper}}: Why else would fans call the [=TPBs=] ''phonebooks''?
* {{Doppelganger}}: [[spoiler:The Regency Elf]] has one, but she insists that they look completely different.
* DoubleEntendre: Cerebus telling Michelle that it's okay that the only guest room available is a girl's room, as he's slept in women's rooms before. Michelle gets the joke and plays off of it.
* DrivenToSuicide:
** [[spoiler:Bran Mak Mufin]] stabs himself in the chest when [[spoiler:Cerebus' papacy crumbles]].
** [[spoiler:Ham Ernestway]] shoots himself with his own hunting rifle, just like his RealLife basis.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim
** Surprisingly [[spoiler:the Cirinists, who were the closest thing the series had to a BigBad]].
** [[spoiler:The T'Gitans]] in the first phonebook.
* DrunkWithPower: Cerebus becomes this when he is appointed pope (and, to a lesser extent, when he is elected Prime Minister). A certain thing about throwing innocent babies like footballs and booting old people off of buildings to prove {{Broken Aesop}}s...
* DungeonCrawling: The first issue. Plot-wise, it isn't all that different from a ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' session.
* DyingAlone
** "You live only a few more years. You die alone, unmourned and unloved." [[spoiler:The Judge ended up being half right. Cerebus does die alone, unmourned and unloved, but lives for much longer than the rest of the cast except for Cirin.]]
** [[spoiler:Cerebus' father]]...which leads to [[spoiler:Cerebus being shunned by his home town]].
* DyingRace: Elrod is the last ruler of one, [[spoiler:but this is eventually subverted]].
* EldritchAbomination:
** Some of these show up in the early issues.
** [[spoiler:Rick, in his insanity]], sees [[spoiler:both Cerebus and Mrs. Thatcher]] in this fashion in ''Rick's Story''.
* TheEmpire: The Cirinist-ruled region of Estarcion.
* EnemyMine: Cerebus and the Roach in ''High Society''.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: During the ''Church and State'' arc, where Cerebus is at his most amoral, he reveals that he is disgusted by pedophilia. This plays into a later story arc where he tries to scare his would-be disciples off by stating the most evil thing he could think of.
* EvilGenius: Weisshaupt
* EvilMatriarch: Cirin
* EvilSorceror: Necross the - Ha Ha - Mad
* EvilTwin: Red Sophia has one, although she was created via magic rather than the...usual method.
* TheExile:
** [[spoiler:Cerebus, at the very end of ''Form and Void'']], is publicly ostracized from his hometown for [[spoiler:missing his father's funeral]]; the only way he finds out why is because he happens to catch someone outdoors before he can get home.
** [[spoiler:Suenteus Po]] is a self-imposed version; [[spoiler:he is fully aware of his WeirdnessMagnet nature]] and is resolved to interact as little as possible with the world to [[spoiler:keep his "magnifier" from affecting things too much. It doesn't work.]]
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: After they're forced to clean up their acts by the Cirinists, [[Music/TheRollingStones Mick and Keef]] are shown with unflattering bowl haircuts. They're not happy.
* EyeScream: "He knows Cerebus is squeamish about eyes." Indeed, he does. The Injury to the Eye Motif is even [[LampshadeHanging referred to by name]].
* FantasticRacism: The Hsiffies are demonized in the early issues in the same way that Asian races have been in RealLife.
* FatalFlaw: [[spoiler:Cerebus' fixation on Jaka.]] Even after [[spoiler:"Dave" shows Cerebus how a relationship between him and Jaka is doomed to failure, Cerebus still can't get past her]], and it leads to very bad things.
* FauxActionGirl: Although Red Sophia has beaten opponents before, we never see any of that onscreen.
* FemmeFatale: [[spoiler:Astoria]]
* {{Fingore}}: [[spoiler:Rick's]] left thumb is broken (off-panel, albeit very loudly) at the end of ''Jaka's Story'' as punishment for [[spoiler:striking Jaka]].
* {{Flashback}} -- ''Melmoth'', ''Flight'', and ''Minds'' each have at least one.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: [[spoiler: "You will die alone, unloved, and unmourned".]]
* ForWantOfANail: [[spoiler:"Dave" reveals to Cerebus in ''Minds'' that the entire series, except for the first issue or so, has been a chaotic, fractured version of what should have been Cerebus' real destiny; see TheChosenOne, DismantledMacGuffin, and HumongousMecha]].
* FourFingeredHands: Cerebus (four-fingered hands, three-toed feet), and [[spoiler:Sheshep Ankh, who looks human aside from his three-toed feet]].
* FromNobodyToNightmare: The Cirinists start out as just a non-violent, weirder-than-usual MonsterOfTheWeek, but then things changed...
* FullCircleRevolution: In ''Latter Days'', [[spoiler:the society created after the overthrow of the Cirinists]] is very successful for many years, but eventually decays into an even worse situation.
* FunetikAksent: Several characters; also Cerebus when he's drunk or has a cold.
* FunnyAnimal: ''Cerebus'' initially started out as just another one of this style of work.
* GambitPileup: [[CrowningMomentOfFunny Pretty much describes the politics of Iest.]]
* GeniusBruiser: Cerebus is one of the best warriors on Estarcion and rather intelligent. However, he is entirely unsophisticated, being interested only in fighting, drinking, sex, and indulging his short temper, and can be shockingly dim-witted at times.
* GenkiGirl:
** The Regency Elf.
** Jaka acts this way in ''Going Home'', but not really anywhere else in the series.
* GenreShift: From an adventure parody to...whatever the hell it became.
* GoIntoTheLight: Subverted. [[spoiler:Cerebus dies, and is eventually dragged kicking and screaming into the Light. By itself, this pretty much indicates that Cerebus went to Hell. This was all fine and good until Sim suddenly decided he wanted an even more BrokenBase than he already had. In the author annotations to the final trade paperback, Sim mentions the possibility that Cerebus actually went to Heaven and was just panicking needlessly at the last second.]]
* GoMadFromTheRevelation:
** WordOfGod in regards to [[spoiler:Rick's]] behavior in ''Rick's Story'', as a result of the events at the end of ''Jaka's Story''.
** A comedic version happens when [[spoiler:Cerebus]] finds out what the ''Rabbai'' comic is supposed to represent.
* GottaCatchThemAll: Cerebus and the issues of ''Rabbai''.
* GracefulLoser: [[spoiler:Astoria giving up her political maneuvering once and for all in ''Reads''.]]
* GrailInTheGarbage: Revealed at the end of [[spoiler:''High Society'']].
* TheGrimReaper: {{Subverted}}; [[spoiler:the figure in all black with the hourglass believes it's Death, but is actually a self-deluded minor entity who gets wiped out of existence by its own devices.]]
* HairTriggerTemper: Sophia's mother.
* HearingVoices: This is how "Dave" communicates to Cerebus in ''Minds''.
* HeelRealization: Played for laughs with The Artist at the end of issue 25, when he thinks he was being insenstive about [[spoiler:Claremont's death]].
* HermitGuru: Po was retconned into being one by the time he actually showed up in ''Mothers & Daughters''.
* HeroesWantRedheads: Played with:
** In the last "living with Jaka" scenario in ''Minds'', Cerebus cheats on Jaka with Joanne, which leads to [[spoiler:Jaka committing suicide]].
** In ''Guys'', after Joanne shows up for real, she and Cerebus have a brief relationship that ends badly. She then starts putting the moves on [[spoiler:Rick]], partly to screw with Cerebus.
* HeroicAlbino: Parodied by Elrod of Melvinbone.
* HeroicBSOD:
** Happens to [[spoiler:both Rick and Cerebus]] at the end of ''Jaka's Story'', although [[spoiler:Cerebus's]] isn't revealed until ''Melmoth''.
** This also happens to [[spoiler:Cerebus]] at the start of ''Latter Days''.
* HeroicFantasy: Parodies this (at first).
* HiveMind: According to Bear in ''Melmoth'', the Cirinists are like this. [[spoiler:The real Cirin's]] confession indicates that he's right.
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: [[spoiler:The entity who believes itself to be Death.]]
* HollywoodHealing: Averted (possibly due to Sim feeling this trope was overused in mainstream comics). When [[spoiler:Cerebus's ear]] gets cut off, it stays off.
* HonorBeforeReason: Jaka tries to call this on Cerebus when [[spoiler:he plans to personally confront the forces closing in on Iest near the end of ''High Society'']].
* HotSkittyOnWailordAction: Cerebus and New Joanne. [[spoiler:Sheshep Ankh is their child.]]
* HouseWife:
** [[spoiler:Red Sophia retires from her ActionGirl life-style]] and ''briefly'' becomes one of these in ''Church and State''. [[spoiler:She still keeps wearing the ChainMailBikini all the time, though.]]
** Jaka during her marriage to Rick.
* HoYay: [[invoked]]
** Cerebus reveals in ''Minds'' that he has nursed an attraction to Bear and is rather conflicted about it.
** Oscar is very obviously flirting with Rick, but Rick's completely oblivious.
** [[spoiler:Cerebus' dream about Roaring Rick Veitch]] is heavily loaded with subtext as well.
* HumongousMecha: Sort of. [[spoiler:The Pigt idol (the giant aardvark statue) would have functioned as one of these had things gone a little differently.]]
* HybridMonster: Artist, Fred, and Ethel.
* ImDyingPleaseTakeMyMacGuffin: In issue 6, a fleeing, dying man tells Cerebus about some lost treasure in the Black Sun Temple.
* InfantImmortality: [[spoiler:Very much averted in ''Church and State I'' and in ''Jaka's Story'']]
* InnerMonologue: Cerebus has these. Sometimes, they turn into arguments between different parts of his personality.
* InTheHood: [[spoiler:Po's]] disguise in the ''Mothers & Daughters'' arc. [[spoiler:Po is revealed to be rather GenreSavvy. He knows that there is nothing inconspicuous about his disguise. He simply chose it so that people would think he was TheGrimReaper and be too scared to approach him.]]
* {{Irony}}: Sim, at one point, pointed out the irony of readers' horror at [[spoiler:Sheshep Ankh's sphinx cloning experiments]] when said readers were completely accepting of Cerebus, who by his very nature is equally monstrous in the most literal sense of the word.
* JerkAss: Cerebus himself. Heavily deconstructed.
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: Probably at its most extreme in ''Flight''. One issue would end with a CliffHanger and then the next issue would go on to something entirely unrelated, just to mess with you.
* JumpedAtTheCall: Cerebus, once he finds out that [[spoiler:he has been chosen as the new pope]].
* {{Keet}}: The Artist when he debuted in Issue 25. He drops this when he reappears in ''High Society'' and by [[NotSoHarmlessVillain Church & State]]...
* TheLadette: Mary Ernestway, and her real-life counterpart, Mary Hemingway.
* LampshadeHanging: Minor typos and inconsistencies nobody but the author could have possibly picked up on are returned to, expounded upon, and made into plot points.
* LampshadedDoubleEntendre: How Cerebus makes the Artist understand that Sumpthing and Woman-Thing are not fighting each other, but are actually...well, you know.
* TheLastDance: [[spoiler:Subverted. Cerebus goes out to singlehandedly face an enemy horde]] at the end of ''High Society'', [[spoiler:only to realize at the last second that the army consisted of former allies who stopped their attack and made peace upon recognizing him]].
* LastOfHisKind: Elrod. [[spoiler:Ultimately subverted in ''Reads''.]]
* LawyerFriendlyCameo / CaptainErsatz: The Cockroach parodies many comic book characters, including CaptainAmerica, Franchise/{{Batman}}, MoonKnight, {{Wolverine}}, Comicbook/{{Venom}}, and ComicBook/TheSandman.
* LeeroyJenkins: Cerebus in the first issue. Subverted in that (1) he probably only made the mission slightly more difficult than it would have been and (2) that the mission's success was still mostly due to his participation.
* LemonyNarrator: Cerebus in ''Latter Days''
* LightIsNotGood: The YHWH, especially [[spoiler:in the final issue]].
* LionsAndTigersAndHumansOhMy
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: Several in-universe examples, including Oscar's book about Jaka's childhood and some of Cerebus's narration in ''Latter Days''.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Dozens of significant characters over the course of the comic's run.
* LongRunner: Considering it was an independent, creator-owned comic, it sure lasted a good deal longer than you'd think.
* LordErrorProne: Silverspoon
* LoveAtFirstSight: Cerebus and Jaka. Granted, Cerebus was under the effects of a mind-altering drug at the time, but he still cared about her even after it wore off.
* LoveDodecahedron: One of the key themes of ''Jaka's Story''. Jaka is married to Rick and loves him. Cerebus loves Jaka. Pud Withers...well he feels ''something'' for Jaka. And just to mix things up a bit, Oscar clearly has a crush on Rick.
* LoveTriangle: The Roach thinks one of these exists between himself, Astoria, and Cerebus.
* LukeIAmYourFather: [[spoiler:Cerebus, the Regency Elf is Your Daughter...sort of.]]
* MadnessMantra: "DARRRR! Pret-ty flowers! Pret-ty sunsets!"
* MadScientist: Necross (although he's technically a mad wizard, but still...)
-->'''Necross''': Being Crazy and evil at the same time is no ''picnic'' believe me.
* TheMagicGoesAway
* MaleGaze: Those parts of ''Jaka's Story'' told from Pud Withers' point of view.
* ManipulativeBastard:
** Weisshaupt and Astoria.
** Cerebus himself also shows some talent at this on occasion.
* MayDecemberRomance
** Astoria and [[spoiler:Lord Julius, back when they were married, anyway]].
** Cerebus and New Joanne
* MayflyDecemberRomance: Cerebus and Jaka (although Cerebus' incredibly slow aging isn't revealed until the last two phonebooks).
* MediumAwareness: Cerebus has this forced upon him by "Dave" in ''Minds''. As a result, in ''Rick's Story'', as he's debating on [[spoiler:whether or not to open the package Dave left at the bar]], he wonders if his stagnation has pissed off Dave and/or Dave's readers enough to want him dead.
* MementoMacGuffin: [[spoiler:Missy, Jaka's childhood doll.]]
* MindScrew: Happens both to the reader and to Cerebus. The latter is the whole point of the various "Mind Games" issues, and is in large part [[spoiler:how Cerebus interacts with Suenteus Po before they meet face-to-face]]. The reader gets slapped with this in the second prose section of ''Reads''.
* MiniatureSeniorCitizens: Lord Storm'send is only about as tall as Cerebus (around three feet).
* MissingMom
* MistakenForServant: Michelle, although she seems more amused than annoyed.
* MommyIssues: Astoria
* MonochromaticEyes: Elrod
* MonsterOfTheWeek: For the most part, the first 25 issues followed this format.
* MoodSwinger: The Artist.
* MrExposition: Several characters get their moments of this:
** The Judge in ''Church and State''
** Po in the ''Mothers and Daughters'' arc
** [[spoiler:The real Cirin in ''Women'']]
** Sim himself in ''Minds''.
* MushroomSamba: Mick gives Cerebus a codeine-laced drink. HilarityEnsues.
* MythArc
* TheNapoleon:
** Take a guess who it is.
** Cerebus's boss during his brief stint as a shepherd during ''Latter Days''. One of the main reasons he got hired is that the boss liked having someone around who was even shorter than him.
* NearVillainVictory: [[spoiler:The Artist]] in ''Church and State II''.
* NeverGetsDrunk: The Regency Elf
* NiceGuy: Rick. Enforced by Sim's idea that it would make the LoveTriangle more interesting if the guy who stood between Jaka and Cerebus was really likable himself.
* NiceHat: The tweed cap Cerebus wore as a child, the sunhat Michelle wore in ''Church & State I'', and the beret that Jaka sports in ''Rick's Story'' could all qualify for this.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed: ''Cerebus'' started off as a parody comic and never really left its roots in this regard. ''Many'' celebrities were parodied, including [[MarxBrothers Groucho and Chico Marx]]; OscarWilde (twice!); Creator/WoodyAllen; [[Music/TheRollingStones Mick Jagger & Keith Richards]]; MargaretThatcher; Creator/ErnestHemingway; Creator/FScottFitzgerald; and Film/TheThreeStooges. Even famous fictional characters were parodied; for instance, Elrod is a combination of [[TheElricSaga Elric of Melnibone]] and [[WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes Foghorn Leghorn]].
* NoMoreForMe: When a gardener spots what appears to be Lord Julius in a dress (actually one of his Like-a-Looks), he pulls out his flask, takes one last swig, then throws the rest away.
* NoNameGiven: The Artist.
* NonstandardCharacterDesign: Cerebus ([[spoiler:and the other two aardvarks]]) are drawn in a very simple style, with liberal use of zip-a-tone. The rest of the world, characters included, is drawn much more realistically, and with no zip-a-tone whatsoever.
* NoSympathy: Astoria treats the Cockroach this way near the end of ''High Society'', even after the guy nearly kills himself by [[CrowningMomentOfFunny becoming a substitute wheel for her coach]].
* NotHimself: Cerebus, whenever he gets drugged.
* NotSoDifferent: Cerebus and [[spoiler:Cirin are both power hungry aardvarks who are prone to violent outbursts. Both are unexpectedly strong (he's a shrimp, she's middle-aged). Finally, both tend to zealously guard their egos.]]
* NotSoHarmlessVillain:
** In the first issue, Cerebus demonstrates that he's not just some cute cartoon animal when some random guy tries to grab his tail.
** There's also [[spoiler:The Artist.]] Remember back in Issue 25 when he was a friendly [[{{Keet}} energetic guy]]? If you've read ''Church and State'', you might not.
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Lord Julius. He often has multiple {{plan}}s running at once and goes to great lengths to make everything he says and does entirely incomprehensible so nobody knows [[UnwittingPawn whether they're doing what he wants or not]].
* OfCorpseHesAlive: In one of the stories in the ''Cerebus World Tour Book'', a drunken Cerebus mistakes a corpse for a living person and befriends it.
* OhCrap: [[spoiler:The Artist, Fred, and Ethel]] in ''Church & State''
* OneHeadTaller: The pint-sized Doris is just slightly taller than Cerebus. Granted, this was more of a one-sided crush than an actual relationship.
* OneWingedAngel: [[spoiler:The Artist]]
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: Crotch-Face
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou: Cirin's attitude toward Astoria.
* OpeningNarration: Issues 1-26 each had this.
* OrphanedPunchline: Invoked by Cerebus in ''Latter Days'' when he recounts the most disgusting thing he ever said and spares his audience everything but the punchline.
* [[OurHeroIsDead Our Albino Is Dead]]: Elrod's death in Issue 22. The cover even advertised it as "The Death of Elrod". [[spoiler:However, later on, when Elrod learns what he is, he winks out of existence, and thus, actually DOES die.]]
* PaintingTheMedium: Used in many ways over the course of the comic, sometimes obviously and sometimes less so.
** One of the most obvious ones happens during ''Minds''. "Dave" brings Cerebus close to Cirin to show that her telepathic denials of the truths he's trying to show her are so strong that they're actually distorting the "reality" around her, depicted as the edges of the panels fragmenting.
** After Cerebus wins the election in ''High Society,'' the several next issues are tilted and have to be read sideways, signifying that his world has been "knocked sideways." In the penultimate issue of the same storyline, where the crisis is a fact, for a few pages the direction of the panel spins around so that the reader has to keep turning the comic around in order to read it.
* PerpetualFrowner: Cerebus' standard expression rarely varies from a frown or scowl.
* PerpetualSmiler: [[spoiler:The real Cirin]]
* PieInTheFace: A ''sign''!
* PigMan: ...or "Earth Pig Man", in Cerebus' case.
* PintsizedPowerhouse: Cerebus. He's three feet tall but can hold his own against just about anyone in a fight.
* PluckyGirl: [[spoiler:The real Cirin]]
* PostScriptSeason: All lingering plot threads and character arcs were pretty much resolved by the end of ''Minds'', but the series ran for another 3 arcs/100 issues... some people believe he did this solely because he'd earlier stated that the series would run for a total of 300 issues. Dave Sim himself stated in an interview with ''The Comics Journal'', "Cerebus #1-200 [is] the completion of the story. The yin and yang."
** To illustrate how severe the EndingFatigue got by the end: Gerhard, basically the last person that Dave hadn't driven away from the comic with his crazy, ReclusiveArtist behaviour (although by this point Dave and Gerhard never spoke outside work), was [[http://classic.tcj.com/alternative/the-craft-behind-cerebus-an-interview-with-gerhard-part-three-of-three/3/ interviewed]] by ''The Comics Journal'' and admitted that even he was lost as a reader and became very frustrated with the drudgery of working on a book "even I couldn't read anymore", to the point that he motivated himself to finish ''The Last Day'' with the mantra [[BrokenRecord "done by Christmas, done by Christmas..."]], because Dave happened to mention at one point that the book would be "done by Christmas" if a certain amount of pages were finished per day. Gerhard also admits in the same interview that after ''Cerebus'' was finished, he was so burnt out by the experience he didn't feel like drawing for nearly six years afterwards.
* PottyFailure:
** Cerebus, as a kid, got so scared during a church service in his hometown that he wet himself.
** At one point in ''Guys'', as an unconscious Cerebus is being carried off somewhere, someone notes a horrid smell and yells, "If he's shat himself again..."
* PrecisionFStrike:
** [[spoiler:"Death" 's]] reaction to his fate in ''Flight''.
** Dave near the end of ''Minds''.
** The reactions of Cerebus and the Starkey brothers to Bear's girlfriend showing up at the bar.
* ProperLady: Michelle
* PublicDomainCharacter: Cerebus will become one when Sim dies.
* PunnyName:
** A sexually repressed momma's boy named Pud Withers.
** The Aardvark-based cult called the "Pigts".[[note]]a pun on the Picts, an ancient Celtic people.[[/note]]
* PurpleProse: This pops up a few times.
** The sections of ''Jaka's Story'' which depict Jaka's childhood, later revealed to be [[spoiler:a novel that Oscar has been writing about Jaka based on anecdotes from Rick]].
** The sections of ''Rick's Story'' that are written very much like the King James Bible.
** Mary Ernestway's diary readings are a loose example.
::The first two are deliberate parodies; the diary, not at all.
* RageAgainstTheAuthor: ''Minds'' is this trope.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: Cerebus and the [=T'Gitans=]
* RapeAsDrama:
** [[spoiler:During the ''Church & State'' arc, while interrogating a captive Astoria, Cerebus finally has enough of her mind games and her taunts and proceeds to rape her.]]
** It's strongly implied in ''Jaka's Story'' that [[spoiler:Jaka was molested as a young child. Sim later all but confirmed this, hinting (but later {{Joss|ed}}ing) Julius as the culprit]].
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: The Artist gives one to Cerebus...in space, no less.
* RefusalOfTheCall: Both Cerebus and Michelle initially do this with Weisshaupt's schemes. [[spoiler:Cerebus]] eventually gives in. [[spoiler:Michelle]] doesn't.
* {{Revenge}}:
** The motive behind Cerebus's actions in ''Melmoth'' and ''Flight''.
** This [[UnreliableNarrator seems]] to be [[{{Cloudcuckoolander}} the Roach's]] motivation (in his first incarnation as ''The Cockroach'').
* ReverseCerebusSyndrome:
** Issue 3. In all honesty, the first two issues were basically straight-up fantasy adventures that happened to star a FunnyAnimal and had ''some'' comic relief thrown in here and there. Issue 3 was where the parody started becoming apparent.
** ''Guys'', ''Rick's Story'', and ''Going Home''. They could also count as one huge BreatherEpisode considering how dark ''Form and Void'' was.
** ''Latter Days'' subverts this. The first half of the book is extremely light-hearted. Then [[spoiler:the Three Wise Fellows die during a TimeSkip]] and things stay pretty bleak for the rest of the arc and series.
* TheRival:
** Weisshaupt eventually becomes this to Cerebus once [[spoiler:Cerebus becomes Pope, although he changes his mind on his death bed]].
** Cirin views Cerebus as this until ''Minds''.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge:
** Cerebus in ''Melmoth''.
** Both Cerebus and The Cockroach in ''Flight''.
* RobeAndWizardHat
* RunningGag: One gag that ran roughly from the early issues through ''Church and State'' was that if Cerebus got wet, his fur gave off a hideous stench that even he could barely tolerate.
* SandInMyEyes: Soot, actually.
* SceneryPorn: Gerhard's background art is so very, ''very'' pretty.
* ScrewDestiny: Po's advice to Cerebus in ''Mothers & Daughters'' regarding the Judge's prophecy is essentially this. [[spoiler:Cerebus resolves to do just that at the end of ''Minds''.]]
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere:
** Jaka tries to get Cerebus to invoke this trope in ''High Society'', when Iest is under siege. [[spoiler:He refuses and slaps her in disgust. He later apologizes, but still claims that she was in the wrong for trying to convince him to run out on his men]].
** [[spoiler:Astoria]] does this for real in ''Reads''.
* SeinfeldianConversation: Most of ''Guys'' consists of these.
* SeldomSeenSpecies: Who do you think?
* SelfDeprecation: Even Sim takes a crack at his own outspokenness on the front cover of issue 290. (See below under TakeThat for further details.)
* SelfInsert: Sim shows up in person near the end of ''Rick's Story'' and converses with Cerebus on the stagnation of Cerebus' life.
* SexyShirtSwitch: Cerebus and [[spoiler:Red Sophia]].
* ShipTease: Cerebus and Michelle, followed by a very abrupt [[spoiler:ShipSinking]].
* ShooOutTheClowns: Lord Julius is literally shooed out by Cerebus right before Cerebus does his rather infamous [[RapeAsDrama interrogation of Astoria]].
* ShootTheShaggyDog: One of the longest setups in comic history.
* ShoutOut:
** ''Women'' features a major one to ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', in the form of The Clueless: Swoon (The Roach, parodying Dream), Snuff (Elrod, dressed as Death), Sulk (Despair if she was Red Sophia's mother), Sleaze (Desire, implied to be modeled on Astoria), Kay Sarah Sarah (the Roach as a female parody of Destiny)
** Issue 275 is a huge ShoutOut to ''ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}}''.
* ShutUpHannibal: Cirin tries to pull one of these on Po in ''Reads''. It doesn't work. Cerebus pulls one on Astoria later on in the same book. It ''really'' doesn't work.
* SmallNameBigEgo: Elrod
* SmartPeoplePlayChess: Taken to extremes by Suenteus Po, who has grown so weary of the world that he hides in his small apartment and plays chess against himself...''for decades''. All of which seems to have been a way to protect his secrets from the BigBad, who can read minds. When she tries to read Po's mind, she sees chess...and ''nothing else''.
* SmugSnake: Po admits that both Astoria and Cirin are experts in guile and trickery, but he also accuses them of being overconfident to the point where they have both dangerously underestimated Cerebus.
* SocialDarwinist: Red Sophia
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent: ''High Society'' was the point where Cerebus pretty much stopped being a sword-and-sorcery comic. Also, several ''entire story arcs'' either shove Cerebus into the background or tell stories in a time or place where he isn't. ''Melmoth'' (which tells the story of the death of Oscar Wilde) is the most obvious of these, as well as ''Jaka's Story'' and ''Rick's Story''. Also, another one of the later trades consisted almost entirely of an exegesis on the Torah.
* SpannerInTheWorks:
** Cerebus embodies this trope due to his "magnifier" ability. [[spoiler:This is later revealed to be a trait common to aardvarks.]]
** Elrod also embodies the trope, since [[spoiler:he's a physical incarnation of chaos]].
* SpeechBubbles: These were one of the small but distinctive features of ''Cerebus''; they could be incredibly expressive and as artistic as anything else that was going on in the comic.
* TheSpock vs. TheMcCoy: This is the essence of Sim's views on the differences between men and women, although '''greatly''' simplified.
* StatusQuoIsGod: The first 25 issues typically followed this pattern: No matter how much money Cerebus made on a job or through one of his schemes, he'd either lose it or simply waste it away and be forced to continue his career as a wandering mercenary.
* StepfordSmiler: Cerebus becomes one to increasing degrees in ''Going Home'' and ''Form and Void'', per advice from Victor Davis via Rick on how to handle women who are fundamentally unhappy.
* TheStoic: Po and Michelle
* StrawCritic: Oscar's description of "reads" fans probably counts. See TakeThatCritics below.
* StrawFeminist: The Cirinists are straw second-wave feminists, while the Kevillists are straw third-wave feminists.
* {{Stripperific}}: All but one of Jaka's dancing costumes.
* SwordFight: A ''lot''...[[spoiler:at least until guns show up]].
* TakeAThirdOption: Astoria in ''Reads'', after Cerebus gives her an ultimatum.
-->'''Cerebus:''' You can shut up and leave...or you can shut up and die!
* TakeThat:
** Sometimes Dave Sim's mockery of superhero comics ceases to be AffectionateParody and enters the realm of outright disdain.
** Sim tends to resort to name-calling with anyone he disagrees with (such as calling Scott [=McCloud=] a weenie and calling [=Heidi MacDonald=] a moron). Whether-or-not this is supposed to be tongue-in-cheek is...not very easy to determine.
** Sim had public fall-outs with [[ComicBook/{{Bone}} Jeff Smith]] and [[StrangersInParadise Terry Moore]], infamously publishing an editorial accusing Smith of lying about an argument they had over issue #186 and challenging him to a boxing match, to which Smith replied, "Get stuffed."
** From the famous feuds file again, Sim also managed to piss off Gary Groth, editor-in-chief of ''The Comics Journal'', and the journal's subsequent hostility to the comic was also alluded to in several TakeThatCritics outbursts. The feud between Sim and Groth reached such a height that it led to an infamous AwardSnub, where one of ''The Comics Journal'''s lists of the best comics very noticeably left off ''Cerebus'', despite the fact that at least one ''Journal'' writer admitted in an interview that ''Cerebus'' should have been on the list, but that Groth did not allow it.
** Sim opened the "Tangent" essay in issue #265 by slamming Carol West, who had resigned as Aardvark-Vanaheim's administrative assistant in disgust after seeing the first draft of the essay.
** Miz Thatcher, which surely must've caused Sim embarrassment; he has since said that she was right all along, as his politics shifted to being more obviously ultra-conservative about the same time as his religious conversion and he reinterpreted the themes of ''Jaka's Story'' in that vein.
** The front cover of issue 290 is a movie poster parody that describes ''Cerebus'' as "the latest issue of the comic book liberals love to hate". The rest of the text degenerates into further pointless StrawmanPolitical insults, ends in "OKAY '''OKAY''' JUST STOP '''WHINING'''! PLEASE!" and then restarts but changes the description to [[OverlyNarrowSuperlative "the latest issue of the comic book that many people buy"]].
* TakeThatCritics: In ''Melmoth'', Oscar Wilde's high opinion of ''Daughter of Palnu'' and his unflattering description of "reads" fans is basically Sim both being defensive and taking a swipe at comics readers who disliked the direction he'd been taking the comic in since ''Church & State''.
* TalkShow: ''Women'' features one (the daytime version), with Red Sophia and her mother as the guests.
* TarotMotifs: The cover art for the issues in the ''Reads'' arc as well as the cover for the phonebook.
* {{Telepathy}}: Women in ''Cerebus'' have a degree of mind-reading ability, and in the case of the Cirinists, take it almost to a HiveMind level. [[spoiler:The real Cirin]] reveals to Cerebus that women who are especially talented can actually influence the thoughts of others, or even outright brainwash them. [[spoiler:She speaks from experience, since this is how Serna stole her identity and usurped her.]]
* ThemeNaming: A few instances.
** The "Mind Games" issues all deal with mental weirdness of one form or another.
** The "Chasing YHWH" arc in ''Latter Days'', a pun on ''Film/ChasingAmy'' and dealing with [[spoiler:Cerebus'...unusual...exegesis on the Torah]].
** The names of the Three Wise Fellows are Yiddish variants of Film/TheThreeStooges' names, in keeping with their use in the story as Old Testament-style prophets.
* TheyChangedItNowItSucks: In-universe, part of ''Latter Days'' is used to express Sim's disappointment when ''Film/TheThreeStooges'' brought on Joe Besser and later Curly Joe Derita.
* ThirdPersonPerson:
** Cerebus, almost all the time. The only times he breaks this are in the very first issues, and in ''High Society'' when giving political speeches.
** Jaka in her first appearance (later retconned as her trying to pass herself off as a northerner, although this isn't revealed until much later, so the reader is left wondering why she started talking differently for a good portion of the series).
* ThoseTwoGuys:
** Roach and Elrod, at times.
** The [=McGrew=] Brothers, who started out as ThoseTwoBadGuys, but quickly degenerated from antagonists to comic relief.
** Ham and Mary's two gunmen from ''Form and Void''
* TimeSkip:
** An unspecified amount of time took place between the end of ''Church and State II'' and the beginning of ''Jaka's Story'', but it was enough time for [[spoiler:Cerebus' proclamations as Pope to be proven false and the Cirinists to take over and seize his gold]].
** The first few issues of ''Latter Days'' featured several skips, in which Cerebus seems to go into a fugue state and lose large swathes of time.
** Several decades are skipped between the end of ''Latter Days'' and the start of ''The Last Day''.
* TinyGuyHugeGirl: Cerebus and each of his love interests, since he's only three feet tall and they're normal-sized women.
* TitleDrop: First issue.
* TokenGoodTeammate / TokenWholesome: Michelle, arguably the only morally upright character in the series, and definitely the most morally upright female character.
* TookALevelInJerkass: Cerebus and The Artist in ''Church and State''.
* TooKinkyToTorture: Red Sophia, much to Cerebus' annoyance.
* TyopOnTheCover: The origin of Cerebus' name.
* UnreliableNarrator: Several examples:
** Oscar, who massively inflates the tales of Jaka's childhood with his PurpleProse. Being a parody of OscarWilde, this is very much in character.
** Rick, who turns his memoirs into a holy text revolving around Cerebus after [[spoiler:seeing Cerebus confront and dominate Mrs. Thatcher, who had engineered Rick and Jaka's divorce and then ordered Rick's maiming for hitting Jaka]]. Being quite deranged, he turns ''everything'' Cerebus says into scripture, regardless of Cerebus' intentions. He even writes a lengthy description of Cerebus' bar in the Old Testament style of description.
** Cirin and Astoria, whose in-story {{Author Tract}}s are documented in part in ''Women''. Being parodies of second-wave and third-wave feminists, respectively, they are seen as mutually opposing ends of the same extremist viewpoint.
** Mary Ernestway and her diary about Ham's last safari. Being a textbook [[TheLadette Ladette]], she over-inflates her contributions to the safari, as well as misinterpreting the ethical and social implications of some events. She is also '''seriously''' overbearing and condescending toward Ham, and drops hints in her diary that [[spoiler:Ham liked to cross-dress, engage in GenderFlip sexual roleplay with her, and enjoyed buggering her]]. Given that Sim took Mary Hemingway's diaries almost verbatim as the source for Mary Ernestway's diaries, this leads to questions about Ernest himself...
** The Judge is retconned into being one during the ''Mothers & Daughters'' arc.
** Sim himself. He describes Victor Davis as himself during a period when he was drinking heavily and trying to get laid at the same time...unfortunately, he was a mean drunk, which made getting laid that much more difficult, which led to him drinking more, and so on. Later on, as Sim's anti-feminist and religious material increasingly influenced the comic...well...
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Cerebus again...until the comic [[CerebusSyndrome stops being a comedy]].
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: A talking aardvark? Hardly worth commenting on, really. [[spoiler:It's later revealed that aardvarks have been around in Estarcion for a long time.]]
* UnwittingPawn: Cerebus, as well as many minor characters.
* VaporWear: In the "affair with Joanne" section of ''Minds'', a full page is spent on Cerebus seeing Joanne putting this into action in various ways.
* VillainWithGoodPublicity: Cirin
* WalkingTheEarth
* WallOfText: Happens several times throughout the series, but the absolutely worst case is the "Chasing YHWH" portion of ''Latter Days''.
* WantonCrueltyToTheCommonComma: The second issue uses "it's" twice where it meant to use "its". One such instance is actually followed only one page later by a proper "its".
* WeirdnessMagnet: Cerebus, due to his "magnifier" ability; later revealed to be a trait shared by all aardvarks.
* [[WeNamedTheMonkeyJack We Named The Sheep Elrod]]
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: In-universe examples:
** Cerebus is presented with alternate futures throughout the "Mother and Daughters" arc, most notably in ''Minds''.
** In ''Guys'', Cerebus briefly dreams of an alternate future where he apparently became romantically involved with [[spoiler:Astoria]].
* WouldHitAGirl:
** Played very straight in multiple ways in the comic.
** Sim himself averts it; despite his apparent misogyny, he condemned violence against women in at least one of his editorials.
* WouldntHurtAChild: Very much averted once CerebusSyndrome kicks in.
* WritingForTheTrade: Pretty much the entire point of the comic, to the point that it's impossible to tell where one issue ended and another began after the fourth phonebook, when the stories stop having individual titles. The trades are printed together as a single story, because that's how they were written, which means monthly readers were basically getting 20-page chunks of a larger book every month, which simply cut off at whatever happened to be the 20th page that month. It got to the point where almost every issue ended with the left-hand page of a double-page spread and the next began with the right. Also, since recaps or even character pages weren't done, you had to get a half-dozen issues to start just to try to stay afloat. Another indie comic famously used the line "I haven't been this confused since I started reading Cerebus at issue 50!".
* WrongGenreSavvy: The Cockroach, who thinks he's the protagonist of a superhero story.
* YokoOhNo: [[invoked]]A non-musical example in Ziggy, Bear's on-again-off-again girlfriend, who everyone else calls "Zig-pig" because she's '''incredibly''' obnoxious, has a nails-on-chalkboard laugh, and because Bear utterly folds in her presence, putting up with all of her crap because it means he gets laid. By Cerebus and the Starkey brothers' reaction to the one time in the comic where she shows up, it's apparent that this is something that's been happening for years. It's bad enough that when she shows up, almost everyone else in the bar makes plans to leave for good the next day because Bear leaving with her shatters the already-tenuous atmosphere in the bar.

!!!The following tropes themselves are spoilers for the series; read at your own risk:

[[folder:Spoilers]]
* BackForTheFinale: Most of the more notable characters show up in the afterlife in issue 300...then it's possibly subverted since Cerebus might be in Hell and his old acquaintances might be demons who lured his soul into a trap.
* BittersweetEnding: ''High Society''
* DownerEnding: Even if Cerebus went to Heaven, the world he left behind is still a mess and will only get worse and worse.
** Even before this point, many of the indivdual arcs (''Church & State'', ''Jaka's Story'', etc.) ended on a depressing note.
* EarAche: During his fight with Cirin at the end of ''Reads'', Cerebus gets most of his right ear cut off.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: The ''Mothers & Daughters'' arc and the first half of ''Latter Days''. Unfortunately for our (anti)hero, Sim decides to subvert it both times.
* HappyEnding: ''Rick's Story''. As in the ''Earn Your Happy Ending'' cases, Sim subverts this in later phonebooks.
* {{Hermaphrodite}}: Cerebus is revealed in ''Reads'' to be one, with both male and female genitalia ''and'' reproductive systems. This becomes a plot point in multiple fashions in later story arcs. Bear unknowingly lampshades this in ''Guys'' when he's chewing out Cerebus for a hissy fit Cerebus threw: "It's like you're part chick or somethin'!"
* TheHeroDies: Anti-hero in this case, but still...
* ReallyDeadMontage
* YouCantGoHomeAgain: When Cerebus tries, he finds himself exiled due to his perceived abandonment of his family (he missed his father's death during the time that he was wandering with Jaka).
[[/folder]]

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