* AlternateCharacterInterpretation:
** Spider Jerusalem has this in spades. Is he an AntiHero, doing what has to be done? Is he a KnightTemplar who crosses the line just as much as those he's against, with his constant physical assaults, and violations of people's privacy? Perhaps the most disturbing possibility: he's a massive hypocrite, who dehumanizes the rich the same way he claims they dehumanize the poor while also using their methods to accomplish his goals. Ellis encourages examination of Spider's character and there's enough evidence for just about any interpretation.
** Fred Christ is also a good example. There's no question that he has self-serving motives, but it isn't clear if those are his ONLY motives. There are definitely moments, [[spoiler: immediately before his death especially,]] when he seems to actually be concerned about people other than himself.
* {{Anvilicious}}:
** Religion makes you evil, period. If you are religious you can't even die with dignity.
** There's a recurring undertone of "Pornography is exploitative and harms sexual progress".
* CompleteMonster: Senator (and eventually [[PresidentEvil President]]) [[BigBad Gary "The Smiler" Callahan]], in a world nearly without ethics, he goes above and beyond the call of evil. He has his campaign coordinator publicly assassinated to win sympathy for himself after his campaign went into the gutter; he has his ''family'' killed in an "accident" to again win sympathy; he has a member of his StateSec pull a sniper spree on civilians so that no one would notice the freak storm brewing nearby, a storm that causes massive damage and loss of life, all so he could wipe the evidence against him from existence (and that was a fool's errand as Spider kept his own private records, meaning that the Smiler did what he did for nothing); he has a peaceful protest of college students riddled with bullets at the first opportunity of "I thought he was pulling a gun"; he allows the brutal murderers of an innocent kid to go free and orders the cops to butcher all of the protesters as soon as violence was initiated (and it was done so by the murderers) and then (briefly) used his power to prevent the media from even acknowledging the riot and the slaughter of innocent civilians from happening.
* CrazyAwesome - The whole thing, but ''especially'' Spider.
* CrossesTheLineTwice - And then hops back and forth over the line some more before firing a bowel disruptor into the air indiscriminately.
* DracoInLeatherPants: While Spider definitely means well, some fans forget that he's also a dangerously unstable and occasionally hypocritical jerkass who uses unethical journalistic methods like violence and invasion of privacy to get the truth. See MisaimedFandom below.
* EnsembleDarkhorse - The Chair Leg of Truth.
--> '''''IT. DOES. NOT. LIE!'''''
* FamilyUnfriendlyAesop - Like so many things in the series it CrossesTheLineTwice:
-->'''Spider:''' Hi. I'm Spider Jerusalem. I smoke. I take drugs. I drink. I wash every six weeks. I masturbate constantly and fling my steaming poison semen down from my window into your hair and food. I'm a rich and respected columnist for a major metropolitan newspaper. I live with two beautiful women in the city's most expensive and select community. Being a bastard '''works.'''\\
'''[[PublicServiceAnnouncement The City Careers Service.]]''' [[PublicServiceAnnouncement Call us now. No matter how much of a fuck you are.]]
* FunnyAneurysmMoment: In his acknowledgements, Ellis saves his appreciation for Creator/PatrickStewart for last and jokes that Stewart's wife Wendy Neuss is "smarter than both of us." Stewart and Neuss divorced a year later.
* GeniusBonus: The reveal that Channon will be getting ''plenty'' of sex at the nunnery she's joining is foreshadowed a few panels earlier by the brochure, which reads, "Our Lady of the Little Death." The French phrase "''la petite mort''" or "the little death" is an old euphemism for an orgasm.
* HarsherInHindsight:
** On the penultimate pages of the series, Spider [[spoiler:puts a cigarette in his mouth for OneLastSmoke, draws a handgun, puts it under his chin, and it turns out to be a lighter.]] Sad part? Three years later, Spider's inspiration, HunterSThompson, did the exact same thing... [[spoiler:[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunter_S._Thompson#Death except the gun was real.]]]]
** The Ruin-Storm arc is a lot harder to read for some after Hurricane Sandy, considering that The City is heavily implied to be New York throughout the series.
* JerkassWoobie:
** Spider. His reaction to [[spoiler:Vita Severn's murder]] is heartbreaking, and whenever he's not being completely insane, you can't help but feel bad for him.
-->''"Sometimes I want to be someone else so badly it hurts."''
** Arguably the Beast. He's only corrupt because he's become so cynical and fatalistic that he believes the best he can do is keep half the country fed.
* MisaimedFandom - Ellis has repeatedly said that Spider is not a role model to be emulated. And yet...
* MoralEventHorizon: [[spoiler:Vita Severn's murder.]]
* SomeAnvilsNeedToBeDropped - You can't do a tribute to HunterSThompson and not be anvilicious. 'Business', about child prostitution, is arguably the most famous.
* {{Squick}} - Yelena drinking the bottle of tequila on election night. Rather than a worm it has a ''cockroach'' in it and we're treated to an extreme close-up of her slowly ''[[NauseaFuel biting it in half!]]''
* TearJerker:
** A story Spider tells in an interview about a young woman and her brother. It's agonizing.
-->'''Spider:''' [[spoiler:He systematically sexually abused her over a two-year period and she missed him because he was her brother and she loved him.]]
** [[spoiler:Vita's death.]] Spider's reaction shot is ''crushing''. We've seen him angry, excited, confused... it's the first time we've seen him ''horrified''.
** "Business". The whole damn thing. But especially the line "Can we go to Long Pig? They have toys."
-->'''Spider:''' You can let yourself forget that they're just kids so easily.