- I don't really need the perfect shoes. It's just fun to pretend that I do.
- Ambiguously Bi: It's hinted from as early as "Campaign Trail" that she is possibly bisexual, but she doesn't approach the issue until the start of the Grand Finale. See below under If It's You, It's Okay.
- The Charmer/The Social Expert: The Queen Bee and trendsetter of Belleville High, and not without good reason. She's more analytical about it than people might think, too; she prides herself on reading people (and rightly finds it unnerving that she can't get Cyndi).
- Defrosting Ice Queen/Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Penny, while she certainly likes male attention, has trouble early on with actual intimacy. By the end of the comic, she turns a shouting match with Aggie into violently passionate rage sex that demolishes a room and most of the girls' clothes.
- Fallen Princess: When she loses, during "The Popsicle War," she falls some way.
- Foe Romance Subtext: to Aggie until they become friends, Homoerotic Subtext afterward, followed by a Relationship Upgrade.
- Freudian Trio: She's The Ego to the trio she leads.
- Guile Hero: Especially evident when dealing an implied preemptive strike against her rival upperclassman, Meg.She tries a similiar strategy when dealing with Cyndi, a considerably more dangerous foe.
- I Can Change My Beloved: The main thrust of Penny's romantic relationships with Rich, Duane, and Aggie, until the latter puts her foot down. They Get Better.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Word of God says that Aggie is Penny's one exception to her preference for men.
- The Kirk: She's the blonde, instinctual star of the show.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch Aggie and friends see her as a straight-up Alpha Bitch for much of the comic's run, but they're mostly wrong.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Occasionally, in the earlier arcs, she plays up the "dumb blonde" style to this effect.
- The Prima Donna: Although it's a fairly mild case, she does have an ego on her which surfaces periodically.
- Sometimes doing the right thing hurts. But that's when you have to.
- The Aloner: Aggie nearly ends up as this in a dream.
- Ambiguously Gay: Aggie's first crush in the comic is on a guy, and she evidently assumes she's straight at that point. But not only does Karen assume she's gay for a full year, and Lisa briefly consider Sara's theory of attraction between her and Penny, but as of "There Are No Rules", Aggie herself seriously thinks she may be gay. And as of the Distant Finale, she is shown wearing a masculine outfit and is said to be dating girls exclusively.
- Bifauxnen: In the Distant Finale.
- Cool People Rebel Against Authority/ Former Teen Rebel: Aggie actively cultivates a rebellious attitude in memory of her former hippie mother. As she matures, she learns there are other ways to speak truth to power than through protesting and modern art. She ultimately becomes a lawyer.
- Dreaming of Things to Come: Aggie's dream about being in love with a female mannequin.
- Granola Girl
- Hypocrite: Preaches acceptance and understanding, but she's done things like attempting to slut-shame Lisa for being bisexual ("Any lips of any gender'll do?").
- Ineffectual Loner: For a while, Aggie has a hard time making and keeping true friends, for fear that they will replace her...
- In the End, You Are on Your Own: Defied. After a horrible nightmare, Aggie learns that this trope is, in the words of her mother, "bullshit."
- Missing Mom: Aggie has difficulty letting go of her mother's memory.
- Single-Target Sexuality: In the early arcs, she's uninterested in either gender until she meets Marshall.
- The Snark Knight: Her defining style in the earlier arcs.
- Soapbox Sadie: Very much how she's seen, with some justice, especially in the earlier arcs.
- True Art Is Angsty: In-universe, Aggie's rigid adherence to this attitude helps her to produce florid poetry and abysmal videos, and blinds her to the fact that she's quite good at drawing.
Karen DuvallPenny's and Aggie's rival and Marshall's girlfriend
- Pretty people get to do what they want!
- Big Bad: During "The Popsicle War".
- Beautiful All Along: Played with. Karen might've gotten pretty on the outside, but it doesn't help her self-esteem, improve her outlook, or make her a better person; it just makes her believe that image is everything.
- I Just Want to Be Beautiful/Power Fantasy/Be Careful What You Wish For: Being made over into a prettier, more socially successful person gives her everything except what she needs most.
- Last-Second Chance: A chance to pull back from the moral brink is pointed out by her shoulder conscience early in "The Popsicle War"; however, she chooses to ignore it.
- Manipulative Bastard: A talent which Karen develops fast when she gets the chance.
- Pygmalion Plot: Her starting point.
- "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization: She gives Marshall involuntary manual stimulation in the shower, and takes his physiological reaction as consent, ignoring his clear discomfort before and after.
- Social Darwinist: Karen deduces from her personal experience that society is a game of winners and losers.
- Static Character: Karen doesn't develop much past her initial plot arc.
- The Glasses Gotta Go: Part of Penny's makeover of Karen. She follows this up with laser eye surgery.
- Villainous Breakdown: At the end of "Popsicle Wars." Everyone gets sick at her party from popsicles laced with laxatives, she practically flashes everyone in a desperate attempt to have them still find her attractive, she physically assaults Aggie, and Marshall breaks up with her.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: She thinks she's in Heathers or Jawbreaker. She's really in Clueless or Legally Blonde.
Sara VeltePenny's best and oldest friend
- My identity is not for them to define. And it's not for you.
- Coming-Out Story: Most of her story is about her acknowledging her sexuality.
- Butch Lesbian/Lipstick Lesbian: Sara's post-coming-out look combines aspects of both.
- Freudian Trio: She plays The Super Ego in Penny's clique.
- Honest Advisor/Number Two: To Penny.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Perhaps she's too much the realist at times.
- The Spock: Sara plays this role to Penny's Kirk — though at times she's more The McCoy.
- Token Good Teammate: People who don't get along with Penny's clique tend to see her like this. Rich remarks that he's always liked her because of her honesty, Aggie protests that 'Sara is ok' when the Omegas bad-moth the Pennies, and Charlotte states that if there was one of the Pennies she didn't find repulsive, it was Sara.
- Took a Level in Badass: An non-violent instance, brought about by growing confidence.
- Transparent Closet: Lisa, Penny and Cyndi can all guess what's going on with Sara.
- Tsundere: Type A.
Michelle BrownPenny's other closest friend
- Ignorance is bliss. Well, usually.
- The Chick: Michelle is usually the most conventionally feminine in her group of female friends.
- Driven by Envy: The source of Michelle's anorexia, exacerbated by Cyndi's "encouragement".(Regarding herself and Penny in a Mirror): Thinner than her. You'll always be thinner than her, now. It's all right. It's all right.
- The Ditz: Michelle isn't as clear-thinking as some.
- Flat Character: Subverted in "Hunger"; her therapist describes her as "not Silent Bob" and "not deep," but by the end of the brief arc she emerges as a deeper and richer character.
- Freudian Trio: Michelle plays the The Id in Penny's trio.
- I Just Want to Be Loved: Michelle doesn't have complex wishes, but she still has trouble finding happiness.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: With regard to Rich and Penny.
- Love Hurts: Michelle's big relationship in the comic doesn't go well.
- The McCoy: To Penny's Kirk.
- Na´ve Everygirl/The Pollyanna: Her general characterisation.
- Stepford Smiler: Michelle is very good at hiding her insecurities and her eating disorder behind a peppy demeanor and a cheerful grin.
- Weight Woe: Her eating disorder gets serious.
- Yes-Man: To Penny.
Lisa WinklemeyerAggie's best friend
- I'm just...open. Whatev, you know? Screw labels.
- Bald Woman: In the finale.
- Bi the Way: More or less. "Screw labels" indeed.
- Blithe Spirit/Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: In-universe, Lisa is bound and determined to act as a good example of these tropes for everyone she meets.
- Cloudcuckoolander/Cool People Rebel Against Authority: Certainly her self-image, and she largely carries it off.
- Deadpan Snarker: Her snarks mostly work when she tries.
- The Gadfly/Troll: The former when in a good mood, the latter when in a bad one.
- Genki Girl: Lisa can be a little hyper.
- The Herald/Sidekick Ex Machina: It's a near-guarantee that, if a sympathetic character has a dilemma in need of addressing, Lisa will be there to help them confront and/or fix it.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Lisa jokingly tells Michelle that she ships the two of them together. She later plays this trope straight with her kindred spirit, Stan.
- Totally Radical: Lisa is given to bizarre, self-created slang, e.g. "Ms. Megabagadouche".
Duane TeagueAggie's friend and Penny's platonic boyfriend
- If you're gonna dream a hopeless dream...go all out.
- Black and Nerdy
- Hollywood Nerd: Duane is academic and cerebral, and maybe a little shy — but his looks and good nature make it perfectly plausible that girls could be attracted to him. And in fact, both Charlotte and Michelle develop feelings for him.
- Hopeless Suitor: Double subverted in his stuttering relationship with Penny.
- I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: His response to Charlotte.
Daphne BrooksFriend to Aggie, Lisa and Fred; Sara's girlfriend
- I'm not always a great person, but my friends make me better.
- Genki Girl: A relatively mild case.
- Informed Attribute: Her characterization as a Clingy Jealous Girl. She shows no signs of this before Sara mentions it as the reason she's not telling her about rooming with Lucy, and there are maybe one or two hints of it afterwards.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Albeit at the Girl Next Door end of the scale.
Fred RudolphFriend to Aggie, Lisa and Daphne
- This feeling's always been with me, that things will be all right. I like it too much to fight it.
- Large Ham: Fred does rather over-play things on stage.
- Pet Homosexual: Fred seemingly comes close to becoming a pet for a group of girls.
- Perpetual Smiler: Well, he smiles most of the time.
- Straight Gay/Camp Gay Fred seems straight at first glance, but tips into camp when rehearsing, performing, or just tipsy. The epilogue shows that he mellowed out considerably after high school.
Marshall GryvanskiKaren's boyfriend and Aggie's first crush
- I like weights. If a weight is about to crush your heart, you can feel the pressure. You know it's coming. With people, you're never sure.
- Abusive Parents His hedonistic mother verbally berates him in public for being an obstacle to her.
- Bishōnen: Subverted and deconstructed; Marshall looks the part, but ultimately doesn't act it.
- Chick Magnet: The only girl never attracted to him, even momentarily, is Penny. Even Sara finds him attractive prior to her realizing that she's gay.
- Disappeared Dad: Marshall has no idea who his dad even is.
- Lets Wait Awhile: Marshall has a rationally cautious approach to relationships.
Rich DigglePenny's first love
- I think what's important is for a man to stop takin' the world's crap and start pushin' back.
- All Girls Want Bad Boys / All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Although Penny isn't a cheerleader.
- Badass Biker
- Make Up or Break Up
Stan LarsonRich's wingman and Penny's rival/Friendly Enemy
- No, wait! I don't have a complex psychology! I'm just in it for fun, chicks, praise and bling!
- The Chessmaster: Particularly in the Campaign Trail arc.
- Fatal Flaw: Ambition.
- Handsome Lech
- I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: Stan's attitude toward Michelle, in that he thought she'd wanted a hook-up, not romance — and later, in a different sense, to Penny.
- Malicious Misnaming/The Nicknamer: Stan habitually calls Penny by the names of blonde celebrities, thereby insinuating she's superficial. When she finally tells him to stop, he says, "Okay, Petty."
- Manipulative Bastard: Stan reforms during "The Popsicle War".
- Subordinate Excuse: To Rich, whom he has something of a crush on despite being a ladies' man.
- Was It Really Worth It?: Stan's feeling by the end of "Mister Smiles".
Jack KirkStan's best friend and Rich's other wingman
- I think I can be a good man for her. I think so. Get close to her level, at least.
- Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jack Daniels: Jack is maybe a little too fond of booze.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Jack's great virtue is trying to be honest.
- Insecure Love Interest: Vis-à-vis Katy-Ann.
- Silent Bob: Sometimes his role in Stan's guy-clique.
Katy-Ann WilliamsPenny's friend and Jack's girlfriend
- We put so much passion into these day-to-day dramas, and the decisions that tell us who we are... those go almost unnoticed.
- Genki Girl: In a fairly controlled form; she's mostly just sweetly energetic.
- Saintly Church: A one-person embodiment and the diametric opposite of Charlotte's intolerant, near-psychotic fundamentalist nature, although sometimes her religiosity can be a source of angst as well as friction with others.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: A teenage example of the trope, she's easily the most mature character apart from Aggie's father Nick.
Brandi JonesPenny's friend and Stan's girlfriend
- I understand boys. Boys show what they feel. Boys' friends are their friends. Girls are the ones to watch out for.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Brandi is usually nice but dangerous to underestimate. She's also cautious of other "nice" girls.
- Ethical Slut: Brandi likes sex, but is usually careful how she plays things.
- Friends with Benefits/Relationship Upgrade: In relation to Stan.
- Ms. Fanservice: As drawn by Jason Waltrip.
Cyndi KristofferKaren's onetime collaborator, and the comic's main villain after "The Popsicle War"
- I do like to play.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Under very carefully constructed sheep's clothing is a very scary bitch.
- Depraved Bisexual: Cyndi is an extreme sadist who it's suggested can't be aroused without the idea of others suffering, and who has a stated fantasy of driving someone to suicide.
- Faux Yay: Subverted when she crushes on Sara-as-Lady Macbeth.
- For the Evulz: Everything Cyndi does. Her parents eventually realize she's a genuine sociopath and have her committed to a mental institution.Penny: [Cyndi] never tries to win. She just tries to make everyone else lose.
- Manipulative Bastard: To a sociopathic degree.
- The Mole: In Penny's clique throughout the first half of "The Popsicle War".
- Ms. Fanservice: Particularly as drawn by Jason Waltrip.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Cyndi finds it convenient to be underestimated.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: Her last appearance in the comic has her parents driving her to a mental institution.
- The Sociopath: An almost textbook example. Her parents catch on after the incident with Charlotte, and have her committed.
Samantha EvansCollaborator, at one time or another, with Karen and Cyndi
- Maybe offence just comes naturally to a spoiled rich girl.
- Everything Is Racist: Samantha is quick to blame others' behavior on racism, and very slow to believe otherwise.
- Sassy Black Woman: Samantha may even be consciously playing to this trope.
- You Watch Too Much X: When conspiring with other girls to defeat Penny as the most popular teen in town, Samantha can only think of such ideas as cutting breast-holes in her blouses and having a boy pretend-seduce her on hidden camera. An exasperated Meg finally says to her, "Maybe we could rip off a movie plot."
Meg MacombPenny's onetime rival, Cyndi's friend, collaborator with Karen
- I've outgrown this. I've outgrown you.
- Alpha Bitch: In her backstory.
- Fallen Princess: An unsympathetic version.
- Future Loser/Jaded Washout: Heavily implied to be in her forseeable future, at her graduation, she is seen staring at her diploma as if she does not know what to do with it. Word of God says that by the time Quiltbag takes place, she is a sophomore in college who "still thinks she can turn this thing around," and by the time of her five year reunion, she is "disappointed" — and apparently not in attendance.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Played with. She seems to be one of the few characters to be fully aware that all the melodrama of high school aren't the most important years of her life... immediately after this assertion, she nervously asks whether the contents of a police interrogation will be "going on her permanent record."
- Know When to Fold 'Em/Opt Out: During "The Popsicle War", Meg makes a large show of declaring that she is done with the petty popularity games of high school. The manner in which she does this makes it clear that Meg believes that opting out is akin to declaring victory.
- Pride Before a Fall: In her backstory.
Helen TomalinDownbeat friend, at one time or another, of Penny, Charlotte, Aggie, and Karen
- If I'm being used...at least I have a use.
- Abusive Parents/The Unfavorite: She says that her parents favor her older sister; in her childhood her father tells her he doesn't love her "right now" when she fails to complete an age-inappropriate task.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing/False Friend: Helen is a sympathetic example of these tropes, and tends to surround herself with examples of same, some less sympathetic than others.
- Attention Whore: Downplayed but eventually realized, in a horribly literal fashion. Helen desperately wants acceptance, approval, and attention, no matter the source; she believes that letting herself be used is the only way to achieve these ends. This culminates in a Heroic B.S.O.D./Villainous Breakdown when she realizes she slept with resident skeezoids Bob and Elmer while under the influence of alcohol.
- Broken Bird: See above.
- Driven by Envy/The Resenter: Helen drifted apart from Penny's group of friends in middle school, and resents them for excluding her from their clique. She is implied to have been envious of Penny's social status in childhood, as well.
- Extreme Doormat: Helen wants people to use her, and is at a loss whenever no one needs to.
- Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Her entire character arc is a deep examination of this trope, the subversion being that Penny isn't as much of a bitch as Helen believes, and that Helen is in considerably more danger when she associates with her "more accepting" outcast friends. Eventually, Helen leaves town — with a last "screw you" message to Penny, and although there are one or two passing references to her being in Boston, nobody is shown to be overly concerned about her. The epilogue story shows that she's (somehow) made peace with Penny and others, but she also now regards her school friendships as meaningless, and she walks away from a reunion.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Helen believed herself to be this in Penny's clique; was this in Charlotte's and Karen's clique; and her belief that she was this to Aggie's clique leads to Helen herself sabotaging their friendship with her.
- I Just Want to Be Loved/I Just Want to Have Friends: Very downplayed; after remembering her rape and overhearing Brandi and Stan's healthy sexual relationship, Helen realizes she has heretofore been unable to differentiate between being loved and getting screwed, and has a breakdown.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: In "The Popsicle War," to some extent. She's being used, and isn't perhaps as crucial to the real villain's plans as she'd like, ending up just looking pathetic.
- The Mole: In Aggie's clique throughout the first half of "The Popsicle War".
- Never My Fault: Helen's need to be used often motivates her to put her morals aside.
- No Social Skills: Helen's idea of lightly mocking self-deprecation is calling herself and her friends "judgemental bitches."
- Professional Butt-Kisser: Of every clique she's in:(Helen's inner monologue:) "Please keep believing I'm going to heaven, Charlotte."
- Rape as Drama: Taking advantage of young women too drunk to give informed consent seems to be a favorite pastime of Bob and Elmer.
- The Runaway: To Something*Positive's Boston.
- Sour Supporter/Unlucky Childhood Friend: Formerly, of the Pennies.
- Stepford Snarker/The Snark Knight: Played with and inverted. Helen has a sharp, witty, and articulate running commentary inside her head, which often remarks on what she should be doing, rather than what she is doing. The only time she lets her deeply sublimated Snark Knight tendencies loose, she loses a friend.
- Sudden Principled Stand: Helen, of all people, chews out Charlotte when the latter tries to frame Katy-Ann for a bomb threat.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Answer: Bob and Elmer. Both at once.
Charlotte SimmsOnetime friend of Aggie and Helen, later friends with Duane
- Sin is everywhere. This world is filth.
- Abusive Parents: Her mother, and implied with regard to her late father.
- Berserk Button: Do not criticize, or attempt to entrap, Duane in front of her.
- Broken Bird: A classic, extreme example, as it turns out.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Double Subverted. She's introduced as nutty, cold and eager to "punish" whomever she thinks deserves it, but her interactions with Duane show her getting mellower... Until The Stinger of the second chapter of the "Missing Person" arc reveals that she is the one who has kidnapped and Cyndi with a view to murder. Her interactions with Duane, however, are what inspire her to reform while in prison.
- Driven to Suicide: She survives.
- The Fundamentalist: Big time, but after befriending Duane she becomes gentler and more open-minded ... or so it seems, until she kidnaps and tortures Cyndi in what she believes is God's punishment for Cyndi's Manipulative Bastard actions.
- Interrupted Suicide: The climax of her story.
- Rape as Drama: Charlotte makes a false accusation against Sara; the real thing is also implied in her backstory.
Nick and Melody D'AmourAggie's parents
- Happily Married: Before Melody's accidental death in the backstory.
- Hippie Parents/New Age Retro Hippies: A subtle and sympathetic instance.
- Posthumous Character: Melody is seen only in Flashbacks and Aggie's dream.
- So Proud of You: Nick and Melody have both, in effect, said this to Aggie.
Rob LevacPenny's father
- Deadpan Snarker: He may be a couch potato, but he's not dumb or unobservant.
- Jaded Washout: In the earlier strips, though that may be largely Penny's teenage view of him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: His characterization when flirting with Lynda as a teenager.
- Mistaken for Cheating: Mistaken by Penny; the trope is subverted in that she's happy for him, thinking his "affair" will bring back the active, upbeat dad she used to have.
Lynda LevacPenny's mother
- Nerds Are Sexy: Teenage Rob sees her this way.
- Soapbox Sadie: Her character as a teenager.
- Tsundere: Type A, to Rob as a teenager.
Charisma GryvanskiMarshall's mother and Nick's sometime girlfriend
- Really Gets Around: Evidently her habit before her more serious relationship with Nick.
- Resentful Guardian: Her resentment is reciprocated, less abusively, on Marshall's part.