Serious spoilers for the entire story ahead:
open/close all foldersAt the beginning of the story, the Undersiders are an up-and-coming supervillain team based in the Docks of Brockton Bay, known — barely — for their ability to avoid capture or defeat. However, the fact that they (mostly) continue to avoid capture and defeat in the face of a long series of escalating threats leads their name becoming more widely known, particularly when they and the Travelers effectively take over Brockton Bay.The initial members of the team are Grue, Bitch/Hellhound, Regent, and Tattletale; over the course of the story, they recruit Skitter, Imp, Parian, and Flechette (who changes her name to Foil); the character entries of the latter two may be found in the "Misc. Superheroes and Rogues" folder of the Others page and the "The Wards (Others)" folder of the Sponsored Heroes page, respectively.
Tropes for the group as a whole
- '90s Anti-Hero: Imp and Rachel. Both are a deconstruction of the usual type.
- Bad Powers, Good People: Despite having powers that could be considered "evil", the Undersiders are overall made up of good people, or at least, bad people trying really hard to be good.
- Badass Crew: The Undersiders became this somewhere between attacking the PRT headquarters and chasing after Siberian.
- Band of Brothers: After all of the fights and terrors they have faced, The Undersiders have become this.
- Classical Anti-Hero: Taylor. She started out as a heroic mole until she was betrayed by Armsmaster. Even as a "villain", she has an almost unbreakable moral code and tries to help everyone she can.
- Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth: The three remaining members of the original Undersiders have this dynamic by the end of the story, with Bitch as Combat, Tattletale as Diplomacy, and Imp as Stealth.
- Combat Pragmatist: Unlike the superheroes who have an image to maintain, the Undersiders and other villains have no reason to fight fair. Hell, most of their powers necessitate it. Ambushes, sneak attacks, wasps in the face, attacks aimed at the throat or crotch, blinding people with darkness, dismemberment, guerrilla tactics, running away, explosives, and petty insults are all fair game in a life-or-limb street fight.
- Famed In-Story: The Undersiders and the Travelers attain this status after the Slaughterhouse Nine arc when they take over the city, as pointed out in 18.3 by Clockblocker.
- Five-Man Band: Thanks to the varied moral spectrum of the team the Undersiders have traits of both this and it's evil counterpart which follows though when Skitter takes over as The Leader the set up breaks down as Grue can't fit The Chick requirements. As an Anti-Hero based group it's Grue as The Leader since he's the oldest and main overall strategist, Regent as The Lancer due to his abrasive personality, Tattletale as The Smart Guy with her information gathering based powers, Bitch as The Big Guy by being their main source of muscle, and Skitter quickly falls into The Chick by bringing them all together and being the only newcomer to not cause the team issues quickly after joining.
- 5 Bad Band: As an actual team of villains it's Grue as The Big Bad (Despite being more like The Dragon to the team's actual boss and later switching roles with Skitter shortly before losing said boss entirely), Regent as The Dark Chick due to his lack of empathy or morality (meaning he's most likely to suggest means like torture if things prove difficult), Tattletale as Evil Genius for being a very manipulation-centric threat, Bitch as The Brute by being the most aggressive member and like Regent doesn't see more extreme means of dealing with people as being off the table the way the others tend to do, and then Skitter becomes The Dragon for Grue since their ways of seeing things are similar.
- Friendly Neighborhood Gangster: Skitter and Tattletale become this when they get their territories, with Skitter handing out relief supplies, defending her subjects against other villains, organizing reconstruction and generally behaving like one of the more beneficent feudal barons; while Tattletale runs her entire territory from a relief shelter, taking no overt control and running things from behind the scenes. Grue and Imp mostly limit themselves to driving off other villains while Regent uses his power to take over the existing gangs himself and Bitch quickly drives almost everyone out of her territory.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: They start out as a small, low-end group of villains in a relatively small town. By the end of the story, they're sitting on Cauldron's planning sessions to fight Scion, as equals with the Protectorate, the Guild, and the Thanda, among other global-scale heavy-hitters.
- Horsemen of the Apocalypse: It's noted in series (by Amy specifically) that their main combatants line up pretty well with the original four horsemen: Regent is Conquest, known for their crown and white color with the ability to forcibly control others (and most used puppets having a focus on distance combat much like the bow); Bitch is War due to her temperament and acting as the main muscle with her near literal "Dogs of War"; Grue is Famine by "starving" people of their senses and association with black/darkness and his need for financial support (the scales); and Skitter is Death/Pestilence due to her swarms and acting as a major force of change in the story.
- A Hero to His Hometown: In the wake of all they did to protect the people of Brockton Bay from the Merchants and the Slaughterhouse Nine, the Undersiders — and Skitter especially — become a local institution.
- A Lighter Shade of Grey: The most 'good' of the villain groups in Brockton Bay.
- Man of the City: The Undersiders acquire this role for the city of Brockton Bay after it's badly damaged by Leviathan, first claiming territory and driving off the supervillains that are less friendly to the populace (drug dealers, neo-nazis, and serial killers) and then funding the city's revitalization with their illegally gained money, as well as providing smuggled supplies where government supplies fall short. When the city is about to be condemned, they convince the mayor to campaign against it in Washington by invading his home and threatening his family. Later, they create the first stable gateway to an alternate world in order to bring revenue to the city and revitalize it.
- Men Are the Expendable Gender: Both male members of the group die, but none of females despite outnumbering the former.
- Noble Demon: Because of the way the Undersiders tend to focus their efforts on taking down other criminals and villains in the wake of Leviathan, at least some of the Undersiders acquire this reputation.
- Nominal Hero: Rachel looks like this on the surface, but that's a case of Blue and Orange Morality, and she does try hard to conform to the human norm. Regent, however, most definitely qualifies.
- Pragmatic Hero: Grue, and maybe Tattletale (her Knight in Sour Armor status does not really help to define her one way or the other).
- Primal Fear: The unifying theme of all of their powers. Grue, Bitch and Skitter are obvious targeting the fear of Darkness, Large Carnivores and Bugs respectively. Tattletale targets the fear of exposure, her pseudo-telepathy allowing her to know people's secrets and take away their privacy. Regent targets the fear of losing control of one's body, while Imp targets the fear of ambush and the unknown.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: When they were originally formed, they were pretty much just a group of random no-name supervillains recruited to form a team by a mysterious benefactor and sticking together because, well, money. Over time, their connection grows to be a lot more than that.
- Squishy Wizard: All of the original five, relative to other capes. All have mental, spell-like abilities and none of them have any power that enhances their durability or increases their ability in close combat. Imp is a Stealth Expert and Flechette is more of a Glass Cannon.
- Supervillain Lair: At the time Taylor joins the team, they have a base on the second floor of an abandoned factory in the Docks. After they spread out to claim territory for the team benefactor, Coil, each member gets their own base.
- The Team Benefactor: The team's initially-anonymous boss, revealed eventually to be Coil, a local recruiter of mercenaries, supplies the team with equipment and financial support in exchange for doing his jobs.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of the unspoken rules that the Undersiders follow, though they're willing to make exceptions for dangerous figures such as Coil, Echidna and her clones, and the Slaughterhouse Nine and their clones.
- Three Plus Two: Grue, Skitter, and Tattletale are the ones with the largest role in the story and the ones who primarily determine the group's direction, with the others mostly going along. Skitter eventually comes to dominate the group and the story even more with even Grue and Tattletale relegated to secondary roles.
- True Companions: They become this after a couple months of Taylor's influence helping to bind them together.
Taylor Hebert (Skitter/Weaver/Khepri)
- My taking hostages like this? It had been my idea, so help me. As horrible as it was, it had been necessary. The worst case scenario was some regular schmuck in the bank pulling some stunt and getting themselves or others hurt or killed. I couldn't let that happen, if I was in a position to help it. If it meant keeping them quiet and out of the way, I was willing to terrorize them.
- A-Cup Angst: Taylor's not happy with her lack of boobs, curves or any real femininity. (This is among the reasons she keeps her hair long and doesn't keep it bound while in costume.)
- Action Survivor: A major contributor to Skitter's badass reputation in the face of her weak-sounding power is her ability to think up ways to come out ahead against extremely powerful and dangerous foes. Trickster outright states that she seems to thrive the more impossible the fight is.
- An Arm and a Leg:
- Animal Eye Spy: Skitter can do this with the insects she controls, but it takes some time for her to get a handle on sight and sound.
- Anti-Villain: Between her heroic intentions, her heroic actions, and her unwillingness to cause permanent harm to people, Skitter clearly falls somewhere between Well Intentioned and In Name Only.
- Apologetic Attacker: She apologizes to Triumph several times for the severity of the beatdown she gave him.
- Arachnid Appearance and Attire: The armor panels of her costume are designed to evoke (and partly made out of) exoskeletons.
- Ascended Fangirl: During her first official meeting with the Undersiders, Taylor mentions offhandedly that she reads cape magazines religiously, and has done so for years, even before getting her powers.
- The Atoner:
- This is mostly her character arc after she joins the Wards. While she has some difficulty changing her attitude and her methods, she claims to want to honestly change.
- Beforehand, when she finds out that the bank job was a diversion to enable Coil to kidnap Dinah Alcott.
- Badass Cape: After getting part of her original costume burned during a fight with the Slaughterhouse Nine, Taylor fits a small cape over her shoulders and covers it with poisonous insects.
- Bad Powers, Good People: Taylor manages to be heroic and merciful despite the offensive use of her power creating the possibility of anaphylactic shock (bee stings), comas (black widow spiders), tissue necrosis (brown recluse spiders) or death (all of the above).
- Becoming the Mask: Taylor, as a villain. She was originally just pretending.
- Bee Bee Gun: Skitter controls all arthropods (Insects, arachnids, and crustaceans), including bees, and is more than happy to use them offensively.
- Benevolent Boss: When Skitter finds herself recruiting minions, she makes a point of being kind and generous to them, listening to their problems, and caring about their well-being. Between this and her demonstrated ability to solve said problems, she ends up with over sixty followers living in her territory by Part 16.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Taylor really hates to hurt people and is by far the nicest of the Undersiders. She is also extremely vicious and quite terrifying when she fights. Look at what she did to Lung, the Merchants, Valefor, Tagg, and Alexandria.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Taylor's power lets her sense things through her bugs across a radius of three city blocks or more. As a result, she is able to track everything that is happening in her territory.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Her giant beetle mount, Atlas.
- Blessed with Suck: The Deadly Upgrade that lets her fight Scion on an even footing also kicks her passenger's conflict-generating function into overdrive, slowly overwriting her personality and turning her into a cold-hearted, calculating, and paranoid monster incapable of understanding peaceful interactions as it eats away at her brain, despite her best attempts to stop it.
- Boom, Headshot: Contessa shoots her in the back of the head twice in Speck 30.7, though it's revealed that it was to save her life, not end it.
- Brought Down to Normal: In the final Interlude, it's revealed that Contessa destroyed her passenger via two well placed bullets to the skull, effectively removing her powers. Given that they'd gone into overdrive and were slowly killing her whilst overwriting her personality, though, it's hard to see the 'down' bit.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: Shortly after gaining her powers, Taylor set out to develop her strength and endurance, took a first-aid course, and researched spiders and insects.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Plays the key role in defeating Scion, at the cost of turning herself into a deranged Humanoid Abomination and ultimately losing her powers and, literally, one of her arms.
- ...But He Sounds Handsome: In 16.7, Taylor tries to make excuses for the villains taking over the town — of which Skitter is one.
- Can't Believe I Said That: In Tangle 6.2 and 6.3, when she's assembling furniture with Brian. An especially prominent example:Brian: Relax. You're allowed to breathe. [Taylor laughs nervously] You okay?
Taylor [thinking]: What was I supposed to say? Admit I didn't know how to deal with being around a good looking guy?
Taylor [out loud]: I get nervous when I'm close to people. I think, you know, maybe I have bad breath, or maybe I have B.O., and I wouldn't be able to tell, because it's mine, so I hold my breath like that to be safe. I dunno.
Taylor [thinking]: Bravo, Taylor. Bravo. I imagined the slowest, most sarcastic of slow claps. Talking about bad breath and B.O. was totally the way to go. One of those brilliant moments that would have me cringing every time I remembered it in the next few years or decades, I was sure.
- Character Tics: Grue notes that she likes bending herself at weird angles in his Interlude.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Skitter is almost incapable of not helping people, given the opportunity. It's so bad that it keeps her from functioning as an actual hero, as she always tries to find the course of action that will save the most people, even if that requires extreme ruthlessness on her part.
- Clueless Dude Magnet: Brian, Greg, and Theo all develop crushes on her over time. She's completely oblivious to all of it.
- Combat Pragmatist: Deconstructed—the fact that she's so willing to go for the throat in fights (because, with her powers, she can't do much else and still be taken seriously) plays merry hell with her reputation, causing the good guys to prioritize her as a threat even over more ostensibly evil characters.
- Commonality Connection: One of the reasons she goes to such lengths to befriend Rachel is because they were both betrayed and abused by people they trusted and those in authority. (The other is that Rachel wouldn't have any friends otherwise.)
- Conflicting Loyalty: Taylor struggles to make a call between doing what's right or exposing the only people who have ever accepted or been nice to her.
- Cool Mask: Skitter's mask has yellow bulbous eyes and hard mandibles like an insect's at her mouth.
- Crush Blush: Taylor suffers this quite badly in Tangle 6.3 when she's assembling furniture with Brian—at one point she even references the High-Pressure Emotion and Lustful Melt tropes in the narration.
- Determinator: As is repeatedly demonstrated, beginning when she fights through the pain inflicted by one of Bakuda's Agony bombs to pull out her knife and chop off the toes with Bakuda's bomb-controlling devices. She later hypothesizes that this resulted in a long term benefit for her in the form of an insanely-high pain tolerance:I think it messed with my head, as far as my perception of pain. I found out what it's really like to feel pain, real ten-out-of-ten pain. A part of me knew it was too much to be true, and other stuff's affected me more because I knew it was tied with something real.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: With some help from Clockblocker, she delivers the decisive blow to Echidna. Murdering Alexandria gets comparable responses, given her reputation.
- Discard and Draw: Courtesy of Panacea's modifications, Taylor loses most of her range, but gains the ability to control people. Then the whole "range" thing becomes irrelevant when she starts thinking with portals...
- Disproportionate Retribution: In Colony 15.1, against Barker. She feels guilty afterwards, but sees it as necessary to maintain her image.
- The Dreaded: After what she did to Lung, The Merchants, and Dragon, she is considered, quote, "one of the scariest motherfuckers in town." By the end of the story, this has been upgraded to 'one of the scariest motherfuckers in the multiverse'.
- Eating Lunch Alone: In the first chapter, we discover that for the past several weeks, she has locked herself in an empty stall in the girl's bathroom to eat lunch where the bullies won't find her.
- The Eeyore: Downplayed. It's heavily implied Taylor is clinically depressed, and she seems incapable of being content for more than a few hours at a time.
- 11th Hour Superpower: Invoked. Taylor has Panacea tamper with her brain to try to remove the restrictions on her power, which cuts down her range and fine control, but allows her power to affect everything instead of being limited to bugs.
- Excuse Me While I Multitask: This is one of her Required Secondary Powers, allowing her to give specific orders to individual bugs in her swarm simultaneously. In Speck, she out-multitasks an almost-fully-unchained Dragon, who is literally an AI running on massively parallel hardware.
- Flash Step: Though she can't actually do this, she appears to be able to do it while in her swarm. Thanks to the swarm-sense, she automatically knows where everyone is around her, and she can move out of someone's reach by having her swarm suddenly gather around her, masking her movements and letting her "reappear" a short distance away. And the creepiestpart is that Taylor doesn't even realize she's doing this.One reached for me, for the me on the screen, and I could see how I moved out of the way without even glancing at him. The swarm concealed me at the same time, briefly obscuring the Skitter in the video from both the man on the ground and the security camera. When it parted, she had shifted two or three feet to the left. A simple step to one side in the half-second she couldnít be seen, but it misled the eyes.
And I couldnít remember doing it. Iíd never consciously added the trick to my repertoire.
- Forced into Evil: Your mileage may vary as to how necessary her crueler acts are, but for the most part she's trying to fix an increasingly horrific world however she can. She does terrible things to protect the future, but there's no denying that without her, humanity would have been completely slaughtered.
- Former Friend of Alpha Bitch: Said Alpha Bitch being Emma Barnes (see Characters.Worm Others).
- Freaky Fashion, Mild Mind: Taylor dresses in a black and grey costume made of Black Widow spider silk and armor plates with yellow lenses for eyes and later uses her bug control powers to use bugs as a mask. She was assumed to be a villain her first time out in costume, and many characters find her disturbing, intimidating, and an overall badass (though her actions while in costume certainly help those views along). Seeing things from her point of view, she's bluffing or has practical reasons for such a costume (Black Widow dragline silk is as strong as steel and much tougher). She's just an awkward and insecure teenage girl who's had a tough time.
- Friendless Background: The chief reason that Taylor stays with the Undersiders is that she had exactly one ally—her dad—for the year and a half before she met them.
- Friend to Bugs: While initially Taylor finds bugs as creepy as most 15-year-olds would, the intensity of her first months in costume working with bugs on a daily basis leaves her finding their presence comforting, instead.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Taylor begins the story as a 15-year-old girl who is viciously bullied and very insecure about herself. While she is still a good person at heart, she becomes a legitimately scary villain with a reputation for destruction following in her wake. Later in her career, she controls a massive group of parahumans with her mind, and can extend that control to anyone on any world at will, making her one of the scariest parahumans alive.
- Gibberish of Love: In Tangle 6.2 and 6.3, Taylor feels like she's suffering this quite badly.
- Good Costume Switch:Receives a new blue-grey costume when she sides with the new PRT.
- Good Is Not Soft: Skitter's generosity to people in her territory is seen as a sign of weakness until her fight with Mannequin demonstrates this trope. Of course, anyone paying attention to her exploits would have known she was no pushover after her second fight with Lung—the one where she cut out his eyes.
- Grew a Spine: Kicking truly massive amounts of ass in her role as Skitter does quite a lot for Taylor's ability to assert herself.
- Half The Woman She Used To Be: Taylor gets nearly cut in half by Scion in Extinction 27.5, and only survives thanks to Lab Rat's Emergency Transformation.
- The Heart: Of the Undersiders. Tattletale remarked how quickly she grew close to the rest of her teammates by helping and supporting them any way she could. It is telling how Regent went out of his way to take revenge on someone who hurt her, and how close Bitch has become with her.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: Although Taylor's power doesn't sound too impressive compared to most major capes, she keeps coming up with creative ways to apply her abilities, and by doing so has taken down opponents more powerful than herself, up to and including Alexandria.spoiler
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Taylor is constantly emphasizing her failings and deprecating her successes. One running example is her insistence that she is not good at dealing with people in spite of all evidence to the contrary.
- Hero with Bad Publicity: Taylor tends to perceive herself as this. In Chrysalis 20.5, she discovers she was at least partly mistaken when a hundred students side with her over the Protectorate.
- Hive Mind: She becomes this as Khepri in the final climax. Able to psychically dominate anyone within 16 feet of her, she thralls an Omniscient Clairvoyant and someone who can instantly make portals to anywhere in the multiverse. Suddenly, nobody is more than 16 feet from her.
- Horrifying Hero: Skitter is scary as hell to fight even when she holds back. When she doesn't hold back she can slowly flay you alive with her bugs, have them burrow through your eyes, and even try to slip bugs inside the body to cause internal damage.
- How Do I Shot Web?: It takes time for Skitter to develop the ability to use the sight and hearing of her insects, or to control Atlas.
- Huge Schoolgirl: At fifteen, Taylor is already 5'8"—taller than most girls at her school.
- Humanoid Abomination: As Khepri, she becomes an insane, gibbering, one-armed, girl-shaped passenger-breakthrough who psychically dominates almost every parahuman on several parallel earths at once.
- Hypocrisy Nod: During a fight with Scion , Taylor tries to apply first aid to one of Bitch's dogs instead of another cape who's dying not far away. She looks at this situation and admits that, despite all her attempts to justify it, she's just being selfish, arrogant, and, above all, a hypocrite because she's more afraid of losing her team and herself in the process than an actual person dying.
- I Miss Mom: Taylor misses her mother desperately, mentioning at one point that many of the things she did as Skitter were trying to patch the emotional hole left by her mom's death. To the point that one of her very last actions in the story is track down an alternate universe counterpart of her mom.
- Indy Ploy: Skitter tries to have plans in advance, but, as both Tattletale and Grue point out, she is amazing at improvising when unexpected circumstances arise—both negative and positive. The fight against the ABB in the Hive arc illustrates this talent multiple ways; the clearest example being in 5.7 when she capitalizes on the accidental discovery that Oni Lee brings the bugs with him during his teleports to turn a dangerous situation around.
- Jumped at the Call: The idea of being a superhero was what kept Taylor going for three months after her trigger event. In fact, all that stopped her from going out immediately was the limits of her power and her own cautious nature.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Taylor found trying to hide her heroic intentions from the Undersiders (particularly Tattletale) a great source of stress.
- Loss of Identity: After having her brain altered by Panacea Taylor suffers rapid mental deterioration that erodes her faculties, her memories, and eventually her sense of self.
- Made of Iron: Skitter demonstrates this on several occasions:
- In the fight against Mannequin, she spends over two minutes sparring with one of the most nimble and deadly killers on the planet — and is still able to drop a One-Liner at the end of the fight.
- After Flechette embeds a dart in her shoulder blade, Skitter arranges to have field medic Brooks use some spare dentist's tools to cut it out. While using her power to fly out bug clones to several of her subordinates so she can continue working — because hey, local anesthetic will do just fine, and she may as well not waste time.
- In a period well under twenty-four hours, starting at the last mayoral debate, Skitter is caught in an explosion that blinds her, shot, trapped in a burning building, dropped out the window of said burning building, kicked in the chest, shot again, and then thrown into a fight with what is probably the fifth-most-dangerous creature on the planet having had no opportunity to rest in the meantime. Her reaction?Whatever warped disease Noelle had dumped into me to weaken me and leave me unable to fight back after I'd been vomited out was steadily wearing off. That was only a part of the overarching problems, though, and I still felt drained. My stamina was pretty rock bottom, and the recent fight hadn't helped. I was hungry, thirsty, and I wanted to crash for fifteen or thirty minutes.
- In fact, this last example includes a built-in control case: as she walks away, Tattletale guides her to a hero who can sort-of heal her by sort-of transferring her wounds to him. When he does so, it results in him yelping "She's fucking blind!?", collapsing in a coughing fit from yelling, collapsing in another coughing fit from just speaking, and needing two people supporting him to move afterwards.
- Not even getting split in half by Scion is enough to stop her completely.
- And not too long after being healed from the above she has her hand and arm crushed. Her reaction: thinking "I just got a new one".
- Meaningful Rename: Twice: first, when defecting from the Undersiders, to Weaver; second, after the mission against Jack Slash failed to prevent Scion's apocalypse, to Taylor.
- And again, albeit by others, to Khepri after getting her shard jailbroken.
- The Minion Master: Taylor can exert complete mental control over most invertebrates (e.g. insects, arachnids, crustaceans) within range of her power. note
- Misapplied Phlebotinum: One of Taylor's repeated sources of frustration is running into people like Panacea and Genesis with incredible powers whose full potential they never even touch.
- Missing Mom: Annette Rose Hebert died two and a half years before the story began, killed in a car crash while on the cell phone.
- The Mole: Taylor's reason for joining the Undersiders. She decides not to betray the group after figuring out that the so-called heroes aren't much better.
- Moral Myopia: Her primary flaw. While she doesn't claim that what she does is inherently good, nor does she really act on her long list of grudges, she does tend to judge the motives of actions against herself and her friends much more harshly than her own. She's right as often as not, but it does drive her away from the superheroes when Armsmaster loses it.
- Multi-Armed Multitasking: Skitter can perform a truly absurd number of simultaneous tasks with her insects.
- Mundane Utility: Skitter is highly inventive when it comes to using powers for unexpected purposes — three obvious examples:
- My God, What Have I Done?:
- Taylor is haunted by guilt and nightmares for what she has done as Skitter, particularly after she tries to defend her choices to Clockblocker.
- Later, when she's in a meeting with Cauldron and most of the surviving major heroes and villains, as well as trying to recruit Shadow Stalker and being told they were the same, Taylor comes to the conclusion that she regrets everything she did, including killing Aster in order to stop The End of the World as We Know It, believing ultimately that it wasn't worth it.
- Necessarily Evil: Taylor is not the only example of this in the series but is certainly the most clear cut. Initially purely a mole among her villainous friends, she comes to view villainy as the best way to achieve her entirely selfless goals.
- Nerves of Steel: When you list the actual situations she has been in, Taylor has amazing self-control. Not everybody would be nearly so calm about taking on the Slaughterhouse Nine or chasing a freaking Endbringer.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Taylor has one of the strongest moral codes in the entire story, and just wants to help people. However, due to her attire, allies, powers, and vicious combat style, people often think otherwise.
- Not So Different:
- A major recurring theme of the series is that Taylor mimics the tactics of each of her major foes, becoming more like them as time goes on.
- From Lung and Bakuda she learns how to use fear as a weapon and to control people.
- She copies Coil's methods of dealing with minions.
- She copies Jack Slash's guerrilla tactics.
- When Taylor is talking to Shadow Stalker in the immediate aftermath of Scion beginning his rampage, Shadow Stalker characterizes Taylor as being a copy of herself. Taylor thinks about this for a while, before denying it, and though her narration paints this as a reasoned assessment instead of a "desperately-trying-to-reject-an-unpleasant-truth" kind of denial, her narration is not always 100% reliable.
- A major recurring theme of the series is that Taylor mimics the tactics of each of her major foes, becoming more like them as time goes on.
- Official Couple: Taylor and Brian as of Interlude 15 (Donation Bonus #2). But they've broken up by the Cockroaches arc.
- Obviously Evil: Taylor falls victim to this while attempting to be a hero. She doesn't realize in time that having bug powers and wearing a distinctly evil looking costume is not sending the intended message of hero.
- Organic Technology: Atlas is much like a scaled-up version of a Hercules beetle, but it doesn't have any of the instincts that natural animals have.
- Poor Communication Kills: In 19.2, Skitter explicitly recalls and sets out to defy this trope when talking to Weld and Miss Militia about Calvert.
- Power Incontinence: Taylor will sometimes instinctively start drawing insects to herself, particularly when she's feeling threatened, but she usually has enough self-control to countermand the orders when needed (although she didn't when she was half-unconscious from being caught in one of Bakuda's explosions). Later on, while in prison after surrendering to the PRT, she encounters a problem where the power is effectively "on" all the time and she's constantly aware of every insect within her range, and has to consciously resist controlling them due to prison rules against power use. When, over time, the things her power will do without any conscious instruction grow more and more sophisticated, Taylor begins to worry that her 'passenger' is beginning to take control of her actions.
- Taken Up to Eleven in Speck when She loses her ability to speak, read, and understand because of the modifications Panacea made to her power. In Speck 30.7, its implied that her shard has either influenced her to the point where she can no longer think like a human, or that it has taken her over entirely. Also, she can't turn off her control power, any human within 16 feet of her will automatically be overwritten.
- Replacement Goldfish: Taylor becomes one for Lisa, who had failed to prevent her brother's suicide.
- Required Secondary Powers: Taylor's ability to control potentially billions of insects individually makes her the best multitasker on the planet.
- Samaritan Syndrome: Skitter won't stop pushing herself when there's things she believes need doing, much to Grue's dismay.
- She Who Fights Monsters: In order to stop The End of the World as We Know It, Taylor hardens herself and loses herself, becoming The Unfettered in her pursuit of killing Jack Slash before he can end the world—and fails.
- Then, in order to keep humanity from being wiped out, she gets her shard's restrictions removed and effectively becomes a Humanoid Abomination.
- Shrinking Violet: Taylor began the story as one because of the bullying campaign, but her exploits as Skitter lead her to grow a spine.
- Shrouded in Myth: Taylor gets it literally from the first night she dons a costume. Admittedly she brings some of her wildly inaccurate reputation on herself and eventually starts doing it on purpose to inflate her credibility. Her recklessly heroic nature doesn't help either.
- So What Do We Do Now?: In the final chapter, it turns out that Contessa DePowered and placed Taylor on Earth Aleph with her father. She's not sure if it was a reward for stopping Scion or Cruel Mercy for destroying Cauldron.My life is over, for all intents and purposes. No matter how hard I try from here on out, I'll never do anything one ten-thousandth as important as what I was doing before.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: In Interlude 14, no-one notices Skitter's arrival until she is already standing behind Yan. (Skitter mentions in an earlier chapter that her soft-soled shoes make it easy for her to sneak up on people.)
- Super Intelligence: As a number of readers have pointed out, the amount of information Taylor deals with when she controls her insects is well beyond what an unaided human mind can process.
- After her power is jailbroken this is massively scaled up. In the final battle she's very effectively controlling billions of insects, and hundreds of other parahumans with vastly diverse powers, including many precogs and a clairvoyant that lets her see everything happening on every possible Earth, and using interdimensional portals to keep them all technically within 16ft of her the entire time. "Super" seems an understatement.
- Super Senses: She can see and feel through the insects under her control, which, given enough bugs, can border on short-range omniscience.
- Supervillain Lair: When the Undersiders spread out to claim territory around the city, Skitter sets up her home base to include a room with walls of terrariums (set up with lights and lids controlled by a hidden switch she can activate with a beetle) and a Cool Chair for her to do a Slouch of Villainy in.
- The Swarm: Skitter frequently uses her ability to command truly massive numbers of insects to make these.
- Swiss-Army Superpower: Over the course of the few months since she gained her powers, she continuously comes up with new ways to use her power, such as by coating insects with petroleum jelly and then capsaicin to be able to use them like pepper spray.
- Technical Pacifist: While Taylor is unquestionably a brutal and terrifying combatant, on her own she opts to terrify, injure, or contain — not torture, cripple, or kill. That said, the exact definition of "cripple" depends on how strong a Healing Factor a given opponent has....
- Think Nothing of It: Skitter often has this reaction to being praised or thanked. (A particularly keen example comes when she brings Dinah home.)
- Underestimating Badassery:
- At first glance Skitter looks like a skinny girl in a creepy costume with a weak power of controlling bugs. Lung, Armsmaster, and Mannequin really should have taken her seriously, and the Merchants didn't know what hit them.
- Even those people who realize just how dangerous a skinny girl in a creepy costume with the power of controlling bugs can be are prone to seeing her through the lens of her viciousness in a fight and completely miss her ability to analyze a situation on the fly.Weld: The family's testimony suggests [Trickster breaking the "don't go after a cape's family" rule] wasn't deliberate. Skitter informed Trickster partway through [that Rory Christner was Triumph].
Clockblocker: But we can assume she found out beforehand. Unless you're going to suggest she figured it out on her own?
Weld: No. It makes sense. I suspect Tattletale could find out something like that.
- The Unmasking: As of the Chrysalis arc, Skitter's identity as Taylor Hebert is known to the world at large.
- Unreliable Narrator: When she's within range of Imp's power, though the readers can usually figure out what's going on. The worst case was the first time the two were out in costume together, before the readers knew who Imp was and what her power is.
- While trapped in Bonesaw's agnosia fog.
- All of Speck, as the upgrade tears her mind apart.
- Utility Belt: Taylor's utility compartment, where she stashes necessary items and weapons in the armor panel that covers her back. In 18.3, Miss Militia takes a look at the contents, during which we see:
- A handgun (Trickster's spare).
- A piece of spider silk.
- Pepper spray.
- A changepurse, containing cotton swabs (to muffle the noise), needles, smelling salts, and change.
- A collapsible baton.
- Villain Protagonist: She slowly becomes this over the course of the first half of the story.
- Voice of the Legion: Skitter learns to do something like this using massed swarms of different kinds of bugs. It gets to the point where she doesn't even notice she's doing it... around the same time she becomes completely okay with having her bugs crawling all over her body.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Upon getting her shard jailbroken in the Speck arc, Taylor slowly starts losing control of her mind. Up until Speck 30.6 when Scion is defeated, she manages to avoid going completely insane only via Heroic Willpower.
- The Worm That Walks:
- Taylor makes herself look like this by surrounding herself with insects when she is caught in a fight without her costume on. This not only disguises her but also intimidates her opponents with a giant, creepy-looking humanoid insect swarm.
- On other occasions, Skitter creates humanoid figures out of worms, either as decoys or full-fledged assailants.
- Would Hurt a Child: In Sting 26.6 she shoots Aster Anders, a toddler — both as a Mercy Kill and because there was a chance that she would cause the end of the world. She ends up regretting doing it later.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Not only does Brockton Bay get destroyed by Scion, but at the end of the story she and her father are placed inside Earth Aleph, which is soon after sealed off from the rest of the multiverse.
- You Fight Like a Cow: Taylor admits that she really isn't any good at superhero banter.
- Zerg Rush: Taylor's simplest strategy in battle is to cover an enemy with thousands of her less dangerous/useful biting insects, which brings most non-capes and even some capes to their knees. The fact that she can gather a swarm of millions of insects makes this possible. Against tougher opponents she has to get creative.
Brian Laborn (Grue)
- It was a little disquieting to hear Brian methodically describing how to break a human being. I saw him as a nice guy, if I ignored his career choice.
- Abusive Parents: His stepfather, according to Word of God.
- Anger Born of Worry: He gets very angry when anyone else puts his teammates at risk.
- Big Brother Instinct: His trigger event happened when he was protecting his little sister Aisha from their abusive stepfather, and he never stops trying to protect his teammates.
- Boxing Lessons for Superman: One of the things he made a point of as a leader was to make sure everyone in the Undersiders learned basic first-aid and hand-to-hand combat skills.
- Bus Crash: Gets killed by Scion offscreen.
- Casting a Shadow: His primary power, darkness that blocks hearing, touch, microwaves, radio frequencies and radiation.
- Cool Mask: Grue has two — his first is a skull, the second a demon. Both are designed to be wreathed in his darkness.
- Dead All Along: Is revealed in the final chapter to have died during the battle on the oil rig, with his death being kept hidden from Taylor.
- Demoted to Extra: He gradually fades in importance in the later arcs and leaves the story entirely by the Cockroaches arc, due to his death in the first battle with Scion.
- Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Grue intentionally averts this by listing his power as darkness generation on the Parahumans Wiki to catch enemies off guard with what else his darkness does.
- Fights Like a Normal: His power usually lets him avoid combat, but when he has to go up against an opponent, he does so using the fighting skills he got from having been raised by a military vet and former boxer.
- Justified Criminal: Brian's sister was with his crazy and neglectful mother and an abusive boyfriend, and his father had no parenting skills. The courts would only award custody to him if he could take care of her and provide very well for her, and it is hard to do that as a poor college student. So he turned to crime and was hired by the Undersiders' mysterious boss to get the money and connections to a reputable company to gain custody of Aisha.
- The Lancer: Following the trauma of being capture by the Slaughterhouse Nine and having his second trigger event, Skitter takes over leadership of the group and he slips into this role. After Skitter joins the Wards he again takes on the role of battlefield leader but Tattletale becomes the de facto leader.
- Lantern Jaw of Justice: One of the first things Taylor notes about Brian when she sees him out of costume.
- How Do I Shot Web?: When using his secondary power, Grue has had issues using his newly gained powers.
- Malevolent Masked Man: Wears a skull or demon mask when in costume.
- Never Be Hurt Again: Was abused by his stepfather in the past. Having to confront the man again to save his sister from the same fate was his trigger event. He doesn't ever want to remember or admit the abuse to anyone.
- Power Copying: After Grue's second trigger event, he can also use his darkness to copy others' powers in a limited fashion.
- Promotion to Parent: Brian is doing everything possible to gain custody of his sister due to how messed up his mother is and his father's lack of parenting ability.
- Scary Black Man: As Taylor notes in Tangle 6.2 when she sees him lounging with his eyes closed outside his apartment building, he's six feet tall and obviously fit:Even if you gave me my knife, baton and a good enough reason, I was pretty sure I wouldn't want to mess with his nap.
- Skull for a Head: His first Cool Mask, and what Bonesaw wanted to do to his head when she was done examining him.
- Supervillain Lair: Shared with Imp — notably including a fitness room with punching bag and a 'war room' with maps of their territory.
- Therapy Is for the Weak: Grue's gut reaction to the thought of seeing a shrink.
Lisa Wilbourn/Sarah Livsey (Tattletale)
- "Oh honey, now who's being stupid? I've got the most powerful weapon of all," Tattletale purred, smiling wickedly, "Information."
- Alpha Bitch: Tattletale/Lisa is explicitly beautiful and has manipulation as a superpower. However, despite her very bitchy tendencies towards the world at large she lacks any crowd to be in with and is a loyal friend to Taylor from their first meeting. What little is known of her backstory would suggest that she probably used to be either this played straight, or something similar before her brother's suicide triggered her superpower and drove her to flee her wealthy home.
- Asexuality: Tattletale doesn't get any enjoyment out of sex due to her powers giving her a sensory overload.My power makes it way less fun than it ought to be. Information overload during sex is squick.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: When analyzing someone or something, she needs to have some information about the target to begin with, and her power fills in the gaps in her knowledge, allowing her to crack computer passwords, profile people around her, and make predictions about the most likely outcome of a given situation, among other things. She's very accurate, although not infallible. In the few instances where she makes mistakes, she messes up pretty big. Also, she can become mentally overloaded if she tries to take in and analyze too much information all at once.
- Berserk Button: Insulting her intelligence. Though being Tattletale, she responds by coldly and methodically verbally eviscerating the person who insulted her.
- Break Them by Talking: Due to her power, Tattletale is an absolute master at this. It doesn't matter who you are, if you can hear her, she will get to you. At one point Taylor sees her doing this and thinks that if she'd wanted to, Tattletale could have been a cult leader that made Heartbreaker look amateurish.
- Cheshire Cat Grin: Perpetually, even — being as she is often up to something.
Tattletale grinned. Sometimes you couldnít do anything else. ďWe are so fucking out of our depth.Ē —-Interlude 8 (Bonus)
- It's also how she masks fear; she smiles when facing Leviathan, when forcibly recruited by Coil's mercenaries (who for all she knew could have been assassins hired to by one of the wealthy men she'd robbed), when confronting the Slaughterhouse Nine, and when she's about to be eaten alive by Echidna.
- Chessmaster Sidekick: Works as this to whoever is leading the Undersiders or in any situation where she's not in charge.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Tattletale got her powers due to stress from her older brother committing suicide, and left after her parents decided to use her for her powers.
- Deadpan Snarker: One of several on the team, though not to the degree of Alec, thanks in part to her powers and manipulation ploys.
- Determinator: She performs a tracheotomy on herself using a pocket knife and the casing of a ballpoint pen to survive after having her windpipe crushed by Perdition.
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: She just can't resist needling the most dangerous person in sight, including at various times Glory Girl, Armsmaster, Miss Militia, Alexandria, Eidolon, Night, Fog, and Jack Slash, while he's flanked by Bonesaw and the Siberian. The last one doesn't work out so well for her since Jack cuts her face, but that doesn't break her of the habit; towards the end she even mouths off to the Simurgh.
- Explaining Your Power to the Enemy: Tattletale exploits this trope by inventing a succession of misleadingly false explanations, starting with a claim that she reads minds — something impossible in this setting — to intimidate anyone in front of her.
- Exposition Fairy: Has the ability to do this on any foe.
- Everybody Knew Already: Tattletale knew that Taylor was intending to be a superhero before they even met.
- Glasgow Grin: Jack Slash slices through her cheek when she has the temerity to spill the beans on Cherish's plan. It's not actually a smile.
- Failure Knight: The reason she befriends Taylor is to try to make up for her failure to prevent her brother's suicide.
- Hollywood Hacking: Actually justified due to Tattletale's power. She can almost instantly deduce passwords and codes, she doesn't even need to hack.
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Despite the above and similarities to her abusers Taylor certainly thinks so. Taylor isn't wrong, at any rate-Lisa can be genuinely ruthless when scared or insulted, but the very reason she made the offer of membership to Taylor is largely out of the kindness of her heart and genuine desire to avoid anyone else suffering through her tragedy.
- Nerves of Steel: One of the reasons Tattletale is so ferociously effective is that she doesn't let pain, injury, or threat to life and limb stop her from using her smarts, her superpower, and her vulpine grin to break down any obstacle in front of her.
- The Omniscient: Lisa/Tattletale's power, generally speaking. It's not perfect or all-encompassing, leading to occasional cases where she's Not So Omniscient After All.
- Perpetual Smiler: She smiles when she's up to something. And she's always up to something.
- Pet the Dog: Her entire relationship with Taylor is this, ignoring her wannabe Reverse Mole status purely out of the desire to be the friend Taylor desperately needed to quell her suicidal impulses.
- Secretly Wealthy: The Livseys are apparently well-to-do (although, as a supervillain, Tattletale isn't exactly pinched for funds). It turns out that she's been embezzling from Coil and skimming from the Undersiders' jobs for him to the point where, when he turns on the Undersiders, she's able to outbid him for the loyalty of most of his mercenaries.
- Sherlock Scan: Lisa's power makes her really good at this, and she can apply this kind of analysis to just about anything, not just people.
- Shipper on Deck: She was a major factor in getting Brian and Taylor together.
- The Smart Guy: Tattletale explicitly describes her role in the group as "Ops" (although she does a lot of intelligence work as well). She goes in the field rather than simply acting as Mission Control because, first, Bitch insisted that everyone fight when Tattletale originally joined the team, and second, firsthand observation enhances what she can do with her power. Also third, it lets her skim additional proceeds from jobs like the bank robbery, where she hacked the CEO's computer while the other Undersiders were collecting the ready cash.
- Super Hero Packing Heat: Less so than the typical example, but she's got a pistol and knows how to use it.
- Too Clever by Half: Tattletale has the common Thinker problem of following faulty logic chains down rabbit holes when faced with insufficient or even too much data: her own biases will affect the conclusions she reaches, or she'll spiral into overcomplication trying to make sense of things. Added to that is a tendency to let her mouth overrun her common sense at times
- Youthful Freckles: When she's not wearing her mask.
Rachel Lindt (Bitch/Hellhound)
- "I don't think you realize how badly you fucked yourself. You. Shot. My. Dog."
- Angry Guard Dog: She acts like this to pretty much everyone who tries to enter her territory.
- Attack! Attack! Attack!: How Bitch generally deals with threats. Backfires for her in Monarch 16.4, when Dragon throws a suit at her that repairs itself whenever it gets badly damaged.
- The Beastmaster: Unlike Taylor, Bitch can't mentally control the dogs she transforms, so she trains them to respond to whistles and specific verbal commands.
- Beneath the Mask: Bitch's Interlude shows that she cares more about fitting in with her teammates then she lets on.
- Berserk Button: Mistreatment of dogs.
- The Big Guy: She provides nearly all of the teams melee combat power.
- Book Dumb: Thanks to her childhood, she is functionally illiterate and ignorant about most things that don't relate directly to dogs.
- Canis Major: Her power turns dogs and other canids into giants.
- Disability Superpower: Her power gives her a social handicap dealing with humans, but makes her effectively the best dog trainer in the world.
- Et Tu, Brute?: She does not take the news that Taylor was initially planning to betray the Undersiders well at all.
- Everyone Has Standards: She's willing to viciously break a man's femur for trying to trying to shoot one of her dogs, but she's clearly bothered by the Siberian killing the same man by plunging her fingers into his eyes.
- Friendless Background: Even before her trigger event, Rachel had no friends, going straight from Parental Neglect to Parental Abandonment and then into the Department of Child Disservices. Her time as a member of the Undersiders is as close to having normal interpersonal relationships as she has ever been.
- Friends with Benefits: Apparently develops this sort of relationship with Biter.
- Fuzz Therapy: After Character Development, Rachel starts loaning her dogs to troubled capes and also gives the orphaned kids in Skitter's territory some puppy time.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: She's very quick to anger.
- Hates Small Talk: Again, a corollary of her handicap, she's not very talkative.
- Justified Criminal: The death of Bitch's foster family was an accident. If she had a good lawyer she probably would have gotten manslaughter, but there was probably very little chance of her being given a fair trial. Rather than go to a parahuman detention center for teens and be institutionalized, she went on the run. Not knowing how to read, interact with people, or having any other skills, she had to resort to crime to survive and needed to be the meanest thing around to protect herself.
- No Social Skills: Even discounting the factors mentioned in Not Good with People, she never had any particular opportunity to learn.
- Not Good with People: Bitch's Canine Companion Hulking Out powers affect her mind so that she thinks and perceives social interactions like a dog instead of a human. This also makes her unable to grasp tone, expressions and several other key aspects of human interaction. She is very good with dogs, but with humans she is less than friendly. Taylor might be the closest thing to a friend she has ever had.
- Pet the Dog: In 15.1, when Bitch adopts out two of her dogs to one of her minions.
- The Quiet One: A side-effect of her lack of social skills. Rachel doesn't talk much, but when she does everyone else listens.
- Sarcasm-Blind: Another corollary of her handicap is that she's poor at understanding sarcasm.
- Secret Public Identity: The one person in the Undersiders to have one.
- Taught by Experience: Bitch gained her combat skills from spending several years fleeing agents of the PRT.
- Wicked Stepmother: Bitch's abusive stepmother was directly responsible for her trigger event when she tried to drown her puppy as punishment.
Alec/Jean-Paul Vasil (Regent/Hijack)
- "I dunno if I care all that much, but it's the sort of thing I'll do because it feels like I should. Dunno. There's also the fact that you're dangerous, and you've outlived your usefulness, so... unless you can give me a convincing reason."
"Not that convincing."
- Actually Pretty Funny: Alec seems happy whenever any witty banter takes place, even if it's directed at him. He's only in the cape business for the fun of it after all.
- Bi the Way: Regent mentions that he had slept with himself as various boys and girls by the time he was a teenager in Interlude 10 (the non-bonus one).
- Book Dumb: Not to the extant of Rachel, but he's also distinctly lacking in the formal education department, and notes that his math skills are rather poor multiple times. In addition to his not being all that good at strategizing.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: Regent is far, far smarter than he looks, but, like most sociopaths, he's rather lacking in motivation and isn't much for long-term planning. The nature of his power adds another dimension to this, as both Regent and his allies are pretty reluctant to use it outside of desperate situations or with very bad people, and over-using it would likely result in a kill order on him. Regent is justifiably stuck being a bit of an underachiever, if he doesn't want to be a monster like his father. A subject he quite vociferously has views on.
- Cain and Abel: With Cherish. Although it's less "Good vs. Evil" and more "Sociopathic Anti-Hero vs. utter bastard."
- Carry a Big Stick: Uses a scepter with a taser installed as a weapon.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Fear is one of the many emotions that Regent is incapable of feeling.
Alec: That was pretty cool.Bakuda: I know right? I modeled it off Teslaís work in vibrations. He theorized that if you could get the right frequency, you could shatter the Earth it-.Alec: No offense, well, Iíll rephrase: I donít really care about offending you. Donít shoot me though. I just want to stop you there and say I donít care about the science stuff and all the technobabble about how you did it. Itís boring. Iím just saying itís kind of neat to see what a person looks like when dissolved down like that. Gross, creepy, fucked up, but itís neat.
- After watching Bakuda turn a man into sludge with a bomb:
Alec: Hey monster girl, when you make my clone, could you give him a goatee?
- Just before being consumed by Noelle:
- Catch-Phrase: Regent is fond of "Seriously?"
- The Dark Chick: As mentioned above his lack of emotions and having less issues with more "extreme" solutions to problem helps make him come across as this despite his gender. Being one of the only two members at first who are known to have killed people also helps, and his crimes are easily more extreme than Bitch's are.
- Death by Irony: Guess who teased Weaver the most about how telling someone you loved them was a common Death Trope to see before a massive conflict and then made sure his own parting words to her were (ironically) invoking the same thing?
- Deadpan Snarker: Particularly when he's bantering with Imp, but he'll readily drop a dry observation in front of anybody's train of thought when he feels like it.
- Disability Immunity: He's immune to mind-controlling and emotion-influencing powers, which seems to be related to his general sociopathy.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Amoral to the point of dangerous he may be, but Alec does have standards that prevent him becoming an absolute monster. Namely "be classy and successful with minimum effort, but don't be Dad to get there". His subdued, yet disgusted and horrified, reaction to Cheri's life choices is a case in point.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: He understands this very well, possibly the most important difference between him and his sister, Cherie.
- Famous Last Words: ďHey Shitcrumb! Easy-Ē
- Freudian Excuse: A very good one; Heartbreaker's abuse using his powers seems to have killed his ability to feel emotions, including empathy. He seems at least somewhat aware of this.
- When he finds evidence that Shadow Stalker was somehow mistreated by her father, he calls her out for not at least trying to rise above it.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: A more subtle variation until Imp joined the team, as his "friendship" with Grue is more like coworkers or roommates by even his own admission and when talking about out of costume his is the most likely name to be tacked on at the end like an after thought. Not that this seems to bother him much since it helps him stay in the background.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Though he's technically a villain, he generally tends to direct his sociopathic impulses at those more evil than himself (there's no shortage in the Wormverse), with occasionally hilarious consequences.
- Heroic Sacrifice: During the Behemoth fight, to save Imp's life.
- Hidden Depths: It's made clear in his interlude and his conversations with Cherish that he's aware there's something wrong with him and that he isn't entirely happy about about it, and the thought of becoming like his father seems to disturb him. Then there's his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Insistent Terminology: He doesn't appreciate people describing his People Puppetry as mind control, as he sees it their minds are still their own, it's only their bodies he's controlling. This actually turns out to be a pretty important distinction- most other people who can control people (Panacea, Bonesaw, Heartbreaker, Valefor...) leave the person irreversibly changed, Regent can take control of someone for a few days and then let them go with no ill effects, other than the psychological trauma of the experience.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: His interlude, his conversation with Cherish, and ultimately his Heroic Sacrifice indicate that this was a significant part of his motivation.
- Justified Criminal: Regent became what he is because of his father. Though he ran away, he knows he would never be trusted by the authorities due to what his father made him do and how scary his power is to people. Having never gone to school, he had to commit crimes to survive.
- Killed Mid-Sentence: Behemoth zaps him right in the middle of his distraction attempt.
- Lack of Empathy: He may well have had it, once, as he certainly is aware that something's missing and that this is not a good thing. But, being raised in Heartbreaker's compound sandblasted any chance to develop his empathy to near-extinction. The best he can manage is to approximate the appropriate behaviour... after thinking through how puppets of his generally feel and filtering everything through his personal set of "don't be Dad" rules. Which actually puts him closer to normal without outside help than most of his family, scarily enough.
- Man in White: Is often seen wearing white.
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Regent is incapable of feeling most emotions. This is due to some combination of his power effecting his psychology, over-exposure to his family's emotion-controlling powers at a young age, and the normal psychological effects of being raised in an entirely loveless family by a father and his army of sex slaves. Regent isn't sure which it is.
- No-Sell: His sociopathy makes him immune to emotional manipulation based abilities, like Cherie's.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Delivers a rather brutal comeuppance to Shadow Stalker as payback for what she did to Taylor.
- People Puppets: Can create these.
- Pretty Boy: Is explicitly described as such in his civilian guise.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: While he doesn't really seem to see it as such himself by how casually he can refer to it his sister makes a point that while he may be known more for murder he's committed plenty of forms of rape too as an attempt to make a rift between him and his team. And before HE was of the age of consent to boot as also indicated with Bi the Way above.
- Reluctant Psycho: He's very disturbed by his own inability to feel emotions, and he usually tries to act as though he could actually feel things like empathy.
- Ship Tease: Has a surprising amount of it with Aisha, to the point Taylor assumes they became an item but how accurate that is remains unclear. This is confirmed after Leviathan's attack, to the point that Imp rather lasciviously admits she enjoys him using his power on her in bed, as her power will instantly No-Sell it at her discretion.
- The Sociopath: Tattletale's power describes him as this, and his actions bear it out-though he's a somewhat more realistic portrayal than most examples of the trope.
- Something Only They Would Say: One of his easier tells when controlling people, seen twice with Shadow Stalker, which while the first was very intentional (Calling Taylor "dork", his preferred nickname for her, when making his puppet adopt his tone and body language as well) while the second was more a case of Something They Would Never Say (using the term "whinge" towards his victim's mother in place of the more commonly used "whine") and was likely less so.
- Token Evil Teammate: Is the most amoral of the Undersiders, though he does appear to have some loyalty to the group.
- Troll: Loves to screw with people's heads.
- Unblockable Attack: One of the perks of his power. His base power (just using it to trip people up rather than dominate them) is pretty damn weak, but the upshot is that he doesn't have to move, and it works on (almost) anyone. If Regent can see you, he can nerf you. He's used this to mess up heavy hitters such as Dauntless, Aegis, Clone Eidolon and at one point, dozens of armed thugs at once, in situations where they were protected from all of the other Undersiders.
Aisha Laborn (Imp)
- Flechette was loading for a third shot when a girl in black clothing with a horned demon mask and black scarf struck her weapon with a fire axe, splitting the metallic string and knocking it from her hand.
The girl with the horns was on our side, wait— I could almost remember her. Some relation to Grue.
Then it slipped from my recollection, and I was distracted by the fact that Flechette was disarmed, her weapon broken. How had that happened?
- Ascended Extra: For the first couple of arcs she appears in after her trigger even she's the least prominent of the Undersiders, not counting Parian. She steadily increases in prominence after the Time Skip, to the point where she's one of the five characters who get an epilogue chapter.
- Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: She mentions in Interlude 13.5 that she couldn't sit still or concentrate in school.
- She ultimately manages to overcome this, self-educating herself with some help from Heartbreaker's kids
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Her treatment of Grue after his capture by the Slaughterhouse Nine.
- Delinquent Hair: Part of her generally-trashy style as of Tangle 6.3 is a Skunk Stripe with a stripe of purple in it.
- The Gadfly: Imp seems to have made it her life's mission to annoy as many people as humanly possible for the sheer lol-factor.
- Gaslighting: She uses this as a method of driving undesirables out of the territory she shares with Grue.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: In a very similar vein as Regent, to the point she casually points out how easily her power lets her gaslight people to the point of possibly driving them insane.
- If You Ever Do Anything To Hurt Him: Has this view of Skitter concerning her relationship with Grue.
- Knife Nut: Imp's personal weapon of choice, which she uses in tandem with her powers to make a deadly combination.
- Little Miss Snarker: Especially when she's bantering with Regent.
- No Social Skills: Being raised by a neglectful, drug-addict mother hasn't left her with a lot of social graces.
- No-Sell: Mind-controlling powers don't work on her while her power is active.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
- During the Time Skip, Imp murdered Heartbreaker in Regent's name and adopted his kids.
- In 30.6, we learn that her power allows her to follow Taylor in her sphere of influence without becoming one of her tools. She was holding her hand the whole time, and murmuring encouragement, even after Taylor lost the ability to understand her.
- Perception Filter: Imp's power seems to work this way, to the point of making people forget she was ever there in the first place. As a downside, she has to consciously make herself visible to others.
- Her ability to negate always-on Master/Stranger powers like Nice Guy and Khepri may indicate her power even works on the power-granting shards.
- Plucky Comic Relief: It's not her only purpose, but a lot of the the humor in the latter half of the story comes from her irreverent attitude and complete disrespect for authority.
- The Power of Legacy: After Taylor disappears, presumed dead, at the end of the Scion War, Imp takes it upon herself (and a few of the Heartbroken) to make sure that Taylor's remains untarnished.
- Rummage Sale Reject: When Taylor meets her, she is wearing a microscopic strapless top and ripped denim shorts over neon green fishnet leggings.
- Slashed Throat: Her favored method of killing when she has to.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Following the Time Skip, Imp has become notably more knowledgeable, such as making several references to classical literature, but she's as crude and tactless as ever.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Her power is naturally suited to this.
- Supervillain Lair: Shared with Grue.
- Wicked Cultured: Following Regent's death she decides she has to become this if she's going to be awesome enough for both of them, so she starts working on her vocabulary and reading up on classical literature.
Bitch's dogs (Brutus, Judas, Angelica, Bentley, Bastard)A number of dogs owned by Bitch. Brutus is a rottweiler or chiefly-rottweiler mutt, Judas is a German Shepard, Angelica is a hairless terrier missing an ear and an eye, and Bastard is a wolf pup given to Bitch by Siberian.
- Canis Major: They turn gigantic whenever Bitch uses her power on them.
- Heart Drive: Whenever Bitch transforms her dogs, their true bodies are placed in a sac inside their shell bodies.
- Made of Iron: While transformed the dogs are capable of even surviving direct lightning bolt strikes from Behemoth.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Brutus, Judas, Sirius and several others are killed by Leviathan saving Skitter.
AtlasHercules beetle created by Panacea and modified by Grue for Skitter's personal use. Can fly.
Minions of the Undersiders
As the Undersiders begin to claim territory in the wake of the Leviathan attack, some members — Skitter, Tattletale, and Regent, particularly — begin to recruit or hire followers.
Sierra KileyA redhead with dreadlocks who was just finishing her college degree when Leviathan attacked and destroyed her family home. Was in the crowd when Skitter distributed her first truckload of supplies, and found herself asking Skitter for help finding her brother, who had disappeared during an attack by the Merchants on the church they were staying at. She and Charlotte joined Skitter's crew after the mission, and Sierra in particular ends up as her chief lieutenant. Quits sometime in the wake of the Slaughterhouse Nine attack. Brought back in by Tattletale to take control of a large swath of properties owned by the Undersiders in Brockton Bay.
- Action Survivor: She's managed to keep herself and a lot of others alive in quite terrifying circumstances, despite her lack of training or powers.
- Fiery Redhead: Averted and even partially inverted. Sierra is a natural redhead, but is actually quite modest and introverted, and one of the sign's that she's taken a level in badass over the Time Skip is her Important Haircut that includes dying her hair blonde.
- Important Haircut: She cuts her hair short and dyes it blonde after Tattletale puts her in charge of the territory around the portal in Brockton Bay.
- Number Two: She falls into taking this position in Skitter's territory for a while.
- Slowly Slipping Into Evil: In Interlude 14, Sierra's narration mentions her fear that Skitter would start assigning her more dangerous and morally ambiguous jobs over time, as per this trope. Except it never happens.
CharlotteA dark-haired girl, student at Winslow High before Leviathan attacked, and one of the many silent witnesses to Taylor being stuffed in the locker full of squick. She was rescued from one of the Merchant's events thanks to a flaring-up of Skitter's Chronic Hero Syndrome, and figured out that Taylor and Lisa were capes when they reacted to Scrub's trigger event the same way that Skidmark's crowd did. She, like Sierra, joined Skitter's crew in the aftermath, but ended up working primarily as a caretaker for orphaned children. By July, she is posting regularly as "Char" on the Parahumans Online forum.
- Action Survivor: In much the same vein as Sierra.
- Friend to All Children: She starts taking care of the orphans in Skitter's territory not long after joining her crew, and continues to do so even after Brockton Bay has been rendered uninhabitable by Scion and the majority of Brockton Bay's residents (including Charlotte and the kids) have fled to one of the alternate Earths.
- Hates Being Touched: Due to her experiences as a slave of the merchants.
- He Knows Too Much: Part of Charlotte's motivation for not leaving is concerns that she will be targeted for having connected Skitter and Tattletale to their civilian identities.
- Pair the Spares: She and Forrest hold each other after Taylor goes to say goodbye to them before the fight with Scion.
- Shameful Strip: What Charlotte was being submitted to before she was rescued.
- Team Chef: For Skitter's crew.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Is subject to a rather brutal one from Taylor, who points out that feeling bad about what happened sure didn't stop her from not reporting the crime. She actually breaks down in tears.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: The reason she gave for not wanting to leave Brockton Bay is that her zaydee — grandpa — refused to leave.
PrittAnother of Tattletale's minions. A woman and former child soldier.
- Child Soldiers: Used to be one.
BarkerA supervillain assigned to work for Bitch by Coil. An inch or two shorter than Skitter and not particularly physically imposing. His power involve exhaling puffs of smoke he can manipulate the properties of — usually to cause them to detonate with thunderclap force.Classification: Blaster/Shaker
- Breath Weapon: His main power is to exhale clouds of smoke which then detonate.
- Bullying a Dragon: You'd think that a man might think twice before yelling "Whore" at a female supervillain and making a thunderclap explosion in her face right in front of her employees while a guest at her base. This seems like the kind of act that could result in said supervillain not even bothering to telescope her baton before she slams it into your jaw, kicks your chair out from under you, and sends capsicum-coated insects into your nose and mouth. Why, I imagine your boss — who isn't all that enamored with you to begin with — might not even bother making a fuss over her doing that to you, should you opt to be that stupid.
BiterAnother supervillain assigned to work for Bitch by Coil. Tall, over six feet, with teeth filed to points, a bear-trap—style band of metal around his lower jaw, and spiked gloves. His power allows him to enlarge parts of his body — hit harder, bite through larger things, etc.Classification: Changer
- Friends with Benefits: Apparently he has this kind of relationship with Bitch.
- Hulking Out: His main power.
Bitch's vetA first-year vet student before the Leviathan attack who originally took the job to pay for her boyfriend's hospital care, and continued in the position after said boyfriend broke up with her for lack of anything better to do.
Jay, Sugita, and YanThree former members of the Azn Bad Boys. They signed up with Skitter after she beat Mannequin, but were subsequently fired for attacking Sierra, Charlotte, and the kids at Skitter's headquarters. The character tags list them as Shaggy, Accent, and Nosering, respectively.
- Asskicking Equals Authority: Their belief in this is reflected on both the occasion of their employment and the occasion of the termination thereof.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Yan was part of the ABB's attack on Emma. This led to Emma abandoning and bullying Taylor, which led to her trigger event and the events of the story.
- Too Dumb to Live: Three former employees of the Unstoppable Rage Humanoid Abomination Lung — also known as the guy whose eyes Skitter carved out — and they try to attack Skitter's second-in-command and take over her base while she's out.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Rare heroic example. Their attack on Emma led to the birth of Skitter, who in turn sundered the AZN BAD BOYS by bringing Lung down.
ForrestOne of Skitter's minions. The same man who helped her with Mannequin's head during the fight in the factory. Number Two to Skitter after Sierra leaves.
- Ascended Extra: He isn't even named in his initial experience during Taylor's fight with Mannequin, but later becomes one of her most trusted underlings.
- Badass Bystander: Was the guy who helped out Skitter by dragging away Mannequin's body and later smashing in his head.
- Friend to All Children: Taking care of the kids in Skitter's territory is technically Charlotte's job, but he helps out just as much.
- Nerd Glasses: Wears a pair.
The O'DalysA group of related families who end up joining Skitter's gang en masse after she defeats Mannequin. Over time, they become Skitter's main foot soldiers.
- The Clan: Expressly described as one.
Cassie (WagTheDog)A mixed-race teenage girl (probably around fourteen years old) with blue eyes, brown skin and coarse brown hair. Volunteered to join Bitch's gang because she thinks Bitch is awesome — enthusiastic about being able to work for her and thrilled when Bitch offers her praise.
- Ascended Fangirl: She was a long-time Bitch fanatic who was recruited into Bitch's gang after Charlotte replied to her post to the Parahumans Online forum.
- Earn Your Fun: Cassie solidly believes in the Nintendo Hard approach to life. Probably because it often has been beyond brutal for her. However, she seems to have found both her niche and her fun with Rachael and the dogs.
AidanA young orphan taken in by Skitter as one of the people under her protection. Has numerous screaming, wailing, nightmares often while sleepwalking with the stress of things that happened to him while living in Brockton Bay after Leviathan. It's later discovered that Taylor's passenger matured and reproduced, splitting off a piece of itself into Aidan. After the timeskip he has recently had a trigger event and finds he can control birds similar to how Taylor controls insects.
- The Beastmaster: Of birds, compared to Taylor's invertebrates.