* AngstWhatAngst: Pastis loves to play this up for dark humor. The deaths of characters rarely elicit any sort of grief (and Pastis has killed many). Various crocodiles, the roommate Leonard, and even Pastis himself have fallen victim to this.
* BaseBreaker: Pig has resided in this position. For some, he's an endearing character whose innocence adds humor and heartwarming goodness to an otherwise dark and cynical strip. But for others, he's just an idiot whose stupidity becomes unbearable. It doesn't help that Pig can be frustratingly stupid and unclear at times.
** Many people are torn by the [[Horrible/VoiceActing questionable voice acting]] in the animated shorts, particularly Goat's British accent and Guard Duck's deep, gravelly voice.
* CreatorsPet: Rat has a few shades of this.
** To be sure, Rat is...[[LoveToHate "liked"]], and to note, Pastis has stated that Rat is his [[AuthorAvatar evil alter-ego]] and he often lets Rat say things he ''wishes'' he could. So, a possibly Justified version.
* CrossesTheLineTwice: The character of Alphonse the Porcupine revolves around pretending to attempt suicide to get attention.
** Not to mention, This:
--->''' '''Pig's Diary : Today I went to a party at my neighbors house. They were kind. They were funny. They were interesting. SO I BURNED THEIR HOUSE TO THE GROUND.
* EnsembleDarkHorse: Da Crocs. Also, Orca. Ironically, Pastis decided to kill him off when he thought he was unpopular. By the time he realized Orca ''was'' popular, it was too late. Nonetheless, the character made one more appearance in an arc about baseball, with the usual explanation that he "un-died". Although, immediately afterwards, Rat states "[[SugarWiki/FunnyMoments I had to kick Orca off our team, because technically, he's dead.]]" But then Orca returned once more in 2013 by devouring the killer dolphins.
** Pastis has commented that he gets letters if [[FamilyUnfriendlyAesop Danny Donkey]] goes too long without appearing.
** Speaking of which, many fans wanted Pastis to have the killer dolphins make more appearances (even after when they were eaten by Orca).
* EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory: [[http://img14.imageshack.us/i/pearlsdeconstruction.jpg/ Parodied.]]
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop: Every children's story Rat writes.
** One of his Danny Donkey books has a group of Environmental Activists ask him to cut down on drinking beer, recycle, and he can help save the world. Danny replies, [[DumbassHasAPoint "Why? When the world is so full of lies and greed, why save it?"]]. The Activists are awed by his speech and change the Save the World rally to a Destroy the World rally.
* FanHater: Pastis claimed in an interview that he deliberately gets a rise out of these people. In response to angry letters, he sends them form letters of the "Thank You for Writing" variety, which only causes the complainants to send in ''more'' angry letters... in return for which he sends out more form letters...
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: One strip featured a croc disappointed that Steve Irwin's head has never been bitten off, published just a few months before Irwin's real death from a stingray attack. Also, a fat joke about Ted Kennedy became much less funny after his death.
* HilariousInHindsight: Rat found Saddam hiding in a spider hole... playing a Game Boy.
** The aforementioned "#$@&!* you, British Petroleum." strip came out the day they ''finally'' managed to cap the well.
** OsamaBinLaden staying with the cast of ''TheFamilyCircus'' became even funnier when it turned out that bin Laden was indeed hiding in plain sight.
** In one arc, Rat wanted to kill a random guy because he was Farina's boyfriend. [[ScottPilgrim Sound familiar?]]
** One Sunday strip had [[Website/DarwinAwards a group of people that Rat thought were so stupid, they shouldn't be allowed to reproduce]].
** In a strip from an arc where [[MakesJustAsMuchSenseInContext Pig had Newt Gingrich as a pet]], Rat said that Newt can never be president and John [=McCain=] is a lock for 2008. He was proven right about the former, considering Newt's dropout of the 2012 election, but wrong about the latter, considering [[UsefulNotes/BarackObama the other nominee]] won that election.
** Ever since the conception of Google+, let's just say that plenty of people on the Internet screamed '''Kill da Google!''' in unison.
** Anytime ''Calvin & Hobbes'' was mentioned is now this (such as Rat saying he misses Bill Watterson) since Watterson guest-drew three strips in June 2014.
** The treasury ''Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My'' mentions that ''Pearls'' used to have more puns than it did at the time of the book's publication (2006) and even showed that Pastis nixed several strips in order to reduce the amount of them. Today, on the other hand, ''Pearls'' contains '''exponentially''' more puns than it ever did before.
* MagnificentBastard: Rat can be this at times.
* MoralEventHorizon: Rat has crossed this once, when he killed a random guy, just to stop him from reproducing.
* RootingForTheEmpire: Based on the comments posted on the Go Comics website, ''many'' readers want the Crocs to catch and kill Zebra.
* TearJerker: Surprisingly common. However, the [[FlameWar infamous]] "[[http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2003/12/28 Jerusalem bus]]" Sunday strip from shortly after Christmas 2003 is especially notable and absolutely ''soul-crushing'', as is Pastis' commentary on it.
** [[http://www.gocomics.com/pearlsbeforeswine/2014/11/20 Wouldn't]] you know, Pig has feelings, too.
* WhatDoYouMeanItsNotForKids: The main characters are all {{Funny Animal}}s who make {{Incredibly Lame Pun}}s on a regular basis. Perfect for kids, right? Then they start talking about current events and issues kids probably don't know about. And then there are the deaths. And the ([[SoundEffectBleep albeit censored]]) swearing. And a bunch of other family-unfriendly activity. Yeah, this is one of those few comics meant just for older readers than all ages.
* TheWoobie: Pig. So much. I mean, [[http://comics.com/pearls_before_swine/2011-04-26/ literally]]
** Ellie the Elephant (one of the Rat's characters) who really, ''really'' wants a grand romance with her apathetic boyfriend and goes overboard trying to impress him or to make a lasting impact on the world, but ultimately resigns herself to romance novels.
** Andy, a dog who's left outside on a chain day and night and never gives up hope of seeing the world.
** JerkassWoobie: Rat, who's sometimes even proud to be a jerk, has had his heart broken by his love, Farina, and fails at doing anything that would benefit others. There are even times that he worries that he is a worse person than he thinks.
*** Every once in a while, the strip makes it clear that Rat just plain hates life, even when he's not acting out of malice. One strip hints that he's tormented by regrets and endlessly paranoid-- [[CrossesTheLineTwice so Goat can make him feel better then clock him in the head]].