"You're either dead or alive. That's all there is. You stay the second until the first looks so good you can't ignore it. Because, seriously? You don't even want to think about the third."
is what happens when Garth Ennis
goes to his really
Beginning in 2008, people throughout the world begin coming down with a virus, which is spread through contact with bodily fluids and overcomes its victims almost instantly. Once a human succumbs to the virus, they get a distinctive facial rash across their forehead and face and a desire to murder, rape, set aflame, desecrate and rape again anyone they come across, like the "reavers" of Firefly
. Within a day of the virus's appearance, most communities are bands of isolated survivors who are trying to A) stay alive and B) remember why they want to stay alive in the first place.Crossed
is largely devoid of Ennis's trademark Black Humor
. It is a grim, grim book, sure to prove an endurance test for most readers. While works like The Boys
might wallow in silly violence for some sick laughs, Crossed
actually shows a lot of restraint in how it treats the violence, devoting a lot more time to putting a human face on the misery of the survivors. The carnage is described a lot more than it's shown, but when it's shown...
Following the success and near-instant optioning of the original series, Avatar Press
has opted to turn Crossed
into a franchise. It presently consists of the original series, two follow-up miniseries, an ongoing comic, and a webcomic.
The series consists of the following volumes:
- The original series, collected as Crossed: Volume One, (September 2008-February 2010) follows a small band of survivors in midwestern North America as they're attempting to escape to Alaska, while staying one step ahead of a band of the eponymous infected humans.
- Family Values (April 2010), written by David Lapham, focuses on a large family in the American South, led by their religious patriarch, who are doomed almost from the start by both the emergence of the Crossed and by the dirty secrets in the family's closet.
- Psychopath (February 2011), once again written by Lapham, centers around a group of survivors who pick up Harold, an unhinged man who begins manipulating the group for his own (psychotic) ends. Psychopath is unhinged and grotesque even by the standards of the previous volumes. Seriously, if you didn't think the last couple of books were a big deal, this might be the one that breaks you.
- Crossed 3D (May 2011, one-shot): a small group of military operatives attempts to rescue a doctor and her two assistants from the top floor of a skyscraper that's surrounded by the Crossed.
- Badlands, started in February 2012, is a bi-weekly ongoing with different writers and artists scheduled for every arc. So far, this has included Ennis, Jamie Delano, Lapham, Si Spurrier, David Hine, Christos Gage, Daniel Way, and Justin Jordan. Notable arcs of Badlands include:
- "Of the World in Its Becoming" (#1-#3), by Ennis and Burrows, deals with a group of survivors in Scotland four years after the emergence of the Crossed.
- "Yellow Belly," by Lapham, is about Edmund, a notorious coward nicknamed "Yellow Belly" by his peers, and what happens to him on "C-Day."
- "Quisling," by Gage, where a man named Oliver buys his survival for a short time by making an unpleasant deal with a smarter-than-average Crossed he nicknames "Smokey."
- "The Fatal Englishman" (#25-#28), by Ennis, follows four surviving British soldiers in what's left of England, five years after C-Day, who intend to break into the UK's old chemical weapons stockpile at Porton Down and unleash it on the Crossed. At the time of its publication, it was the chronologically latest story in the timeline and is still the latest story in Badlands.
- "Conquers All": a two-shot by Spurrier about a female cop and the Russian gangster she's unwittingly fallen in love with.
- "The Thin Red Line" (#50-#56) follows the same characters as "The Fatal Englishman," beginning on the day the Crossed first appeared in England, and prominently features its "patient zero" for the UK.
- Wish You Were Here, a weekly-ish webcomic written by Spurrier, was launched at the same time as Badlands. Set in and among the islands near Scotland, it followed a group of survivors from the perspective of an ex-writer nicknamed "Shaky," whose earlier experiences come back to haunt his current group. It concluded in August 2014.
- Crossed: +100 (December 2014) by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade takes place 100 years after C-Day. An enclave of survivors seek to build a future for themselves on the ruins of the past.
- Dead or Alive, a second weekly webcomic written by Ennis, began in November 2014.
On March 13, 2013, Avatar announced a series of Crossed
"webisodes" written and directed by Ennis, with supplemental webcomics. Avatar is presently fundraising.
Crossed shows examples of the following tropes:
- Action Mom: Cindy
- Adipose Rex: Todd, the fat Australian trucker in the 2013 Special. He's a slovenly, degenerate slob who leaves the heavy work to his women. The only reason he's in charge is because he keeps the truck keys in a combination lock on his wrist whenever he isn't driving.
- After the End: Crossed +100 is set a hundred years after "C-Day," when the infection went public. Much of humanity's accumulated knowledge has been lost, parts of the continental United States are irradiated, and the surviving uninfected humans live in small communal societies in the ruins of the Midwest, raising ostriches for food. Zoo animals have colonized parts of North America, and at one point, the narrator watches a family of elephants in what's left of Tennessee.
- Alternate History: The Thin Red Line arc, beginning in Badlands #50 and written by Garth Ennis, tells the story of the very first person to become Crossed. It also features Gordon Brown as Prime Minister of Great Britain, placing the outbreak in the summer of 2008. Incidentally, the first issue of Crossed came out on August 6th 2008, during Brown's premiership.
- Anachronic Order: The narrative in the first volume jumps around from "now" to ten months earlier when the infection was beginning. It takes a read or two to grasp this.
- The franchise in general is like this, with the various arcs taking place during different times in the Crossed plague, ranging from the initial outbreak to a few years later. Two Badlands arcs, Yellow Belly and The Golden Road, start on the very first night of the outbreak, The Fatal Englishman takes place five years after the outbreak, while Crossed: +100 by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade takes place 100 years after the outbreak, the furthest yet in time.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Seen disturbingly (yet tragically) in Vol.4 Chapter 18 of Wish You Were Here when the infected Aoileann tearfully asks Shakey if he loves her via a radio, which he even more tearfully replies yes to. Unfortunately, this display of weakness is visibly pissing off her huge army of Crossed whom were only kept in check by fear of her.
- Apocalypse How: Class 2, with 3 being highly probable; almost all of humanity has turned into the Crossed, and the remaining humans are hunted down by them.
- In The Fatal Englishman, Harry estimates that Great Britain's population has dropped from sixty million to one million, of which 95 percent are Crossed. If this is extrapolated further, that would mean that there were around 100 million people left in the world, and only about five million non-Crossed.
- It is made clear both in The Fatal Englishman and other stories set years after the outbreak that despite their numbers being continually thinned by exposure, starvation, accident, and especially infighting, there is a real danger that before the Crossed die out they will reduce the remaining human population to extinction levels. Despite this, Harry and his team are fairly optimistic that the surviving communities they have found during their travels across the post-apocalyptic UK will be able to outlast the infected... though this might be them trying to justify not wiping out the Crossed and the majority of Britain's survivors with chemical and bio-weapons to themselves.
- By the time of Crossed +100, the observed human race has been reduced to small, inbred groups of Crossed who've never not been infected, and larger bands of uninfected humans who have barely reinvented steam power. Much of humanity's knowledge has been lost in the intervening period (among other things, they don't know how to make wine) and most of the protagonist's friends mention losing multiple family members to the Crossed at one point or another. One of the biggest threats that both they and the Crossed face are feral wolves with no fear of man.
- Apocalyptic Log: The soldier's journal in Crossed Volume 1. Shaky's diary in Wish You Were Here would have ended up being this, if Aoileann hadn't torn it up.
- Armies Are Evil: Shaky presumes the Black Watch turned out to be this. Eventually shown to have been an aversion, they treated Seline very well and the fort's destruction was completely unrelated.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Boss Yamada, Hazuki's father in "Five Bloody Fingers," is angry at his enemy, Boss Ishiguro, for three reasons. First, that Ishiguro flayed Yamada's underling Kawamata; second, that Ishiguro and his men are attacking Yamada's headquarters; and third, that Ishiguro has seemingly tattooed his own face with a red cross. That is, until Koki informs Yamada that that isn't a tattoo...
- Asshole Victim: Brett's unexpected death came immediately after he kicked the dog. This was not too long after he had said some very unkind words in regards to Stan's grief over the death of Cindy's son.
- Jasper is rowed to a rock off Cava while unconscious, left there as bait for Aoileann and her Crossed, tied up and with his tendons cut so that he is unable to swim away, before finally being blown up by a land mine. However, he was also a dumb, racist thug who treated Richie like a slave, wanted to make himself a dictator, and openly threatened to rape Tabitha before getting Richie killed and Viceroy infected while trying to murder Shaky.
- Badass Biker: The biker gang that Edmund meets and joins in Badlands #12 when he tries to warn people in a neighboring town about the Crossed. They form an army with other gangs to fight the "Geeks".
- Errol from the American Quitters arc lives and breathes this trope.
- Bald Black Leader Guy: "Smokey" from "Quisling," who is the leader of his group of Crossed, and is easily one of the most intelligent Crossed in the series.
- Berserk Button: Endangering children is a big one for Jock, the Scottish soldier in The Fatal Englishman.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: What characters will do if trapped and about to be caught by the Crossed.
- Blood Knight: While most survivors know to stay as far away from the Crossed as possible, a few enjoy fighting them. Steve from "Homo Superior" and Des from "Wish You Were Here" are two of the most notable examples.
- Bolivian Army Ending: So far, Badlands specializes in these. The first Badlands arc ends with the last survivor, having been splashed with infected blood, about to blow himself up with a grenade with the Crossed right behind him.
- Delano's arc on Badlands ends with all the major characters dead or turned, and the last panel shows the last survivor voluntarily submitting to the infection.
- Boom, Headshot: There are multiple headshots in this series, and none of them are neat.
- Break the Cutie: Amanda in Psychopath is one of the few survivors in Crossed to cling to her humanity, and tries to help out Harold Lorre when she finds him injured and helpless. Guess how dearly she pays for doing such a foolish thing.
- Brick Joke: Potentially. The cover of the first issue features Crossed tossing people of an airplane. In the second issue, we see what landing would look like.
- Broken Bird: Emiko in the Gore Angels arc, as a result of being gang-raped when she was in America. She tries to cope with her trauma by drawing extremely violent underground manga.
- Butt Monkey: Clooney in The Golden Road.
- Calling Your Attacks: One I guarantee you'll never see in another series. HORSECOCK!
- Carved Mark: Aoileann got her distinctive X-shaped facial scar by the Groundskeeper cutting her face while he was raping her.
- Cassandra Truth: The only ones on Cava shown to believe Shaky when he goes around telling people that Jasper is bad news are Richie (who has plenty of experience of Jasper's abuse) and Tabitha as well as Rab and Don, who understand that Jasper is a gung-ho, wannabe tinpot dictator who is likely to get everyone killed. The rest are either apathetic, mistrust Shaky because of his own misdeeds, or openly side with Jasper because of their desire to strike back at the Crossed.
- Celebrity Survivor: The first arc of Badlands has a heavily bandaged (and ginger) ex soldier who claims to be Prince Harry (who claims that the Royal Family was turned, complete with the Queen chewing Prince Charles's bollocks off) and indeed looks suspiciously like him though his companions (and the audience) can't be sure due to his heavily mutilated/bandaged face. He is actually pretty damn useful given his skill with a gun and him being sawn in half marks the beginning of the end for his group.
- Circus of Fear: The Crossed (or "Geek") circus in the "Yellow Belly" arc of Badlands.
- The Conspiracy: Speculated in the "Thin Red Line" prequel arc by Alistair given how "patient zeroes" appeared in every country from Chad to Russia to Pakistan at the exact same time spreading the earliest strains of the Crossed virus.
- This is increasingly becoming averted as the arc goes on and reveals just how alien the virus is to science to the point of being effectively supernatural in both structure and ability. Alistair refuses to believe this and continues to believe that there is some conspiracy. Eventually, this leads to him tricking several soldiers into abducting Patient Zero for "enhanced interrogation".
- Corrupt Church: As expected from a Garth Ennis franchise, religion is not exactly depicted in a favorable light. On the crossed side there are the infected mormon clergy of Salt Lake City discussed in Family Ties who begin a murderous orgy with their congregations before turning on the uninfected children (thankfully no details of the latter event are given), the group of highly religious Crossed fanatics in Badlands who hunt down any "sinners" human or crossed and inflict religious themed punishments, and the infected Aoilean in Wish you were Here. On the human side is Joseph Pratt's apocalyptic cult which he uses to cement his own power and engage in any depravity he so wishes.
- Averted interestingly in the case of Father Dennis in the Garth Ennis penned The Fatal Englishman arc, who, despite being dangerously naive and pacifistic, is not only pretty much the sole Nice Guy in the entire franchise not to end up very, very dead or very, very broken, but whose faith is depicted in a fairly positive light by Ennis which make the survival of him and the children he had been protecting all the more surprising given how much the franchise punishes such characters.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Emiko's father. When he's first shown he seems to be a resentful jerk who alternates between trying to sell his art and being rude to American tourists. When the Crossed attack his village, he is unable to move or even think for several minutes as the Crossed do their thing on his street, not even noticing him. Then he goes for his katana...
- Deadpan Snarker: Shaky's narration in "Wish You Were Here" positively oozes with snark. He's less of one when talking to the other characters, but he can still be fairly bitchy when he wants to be.
- Death Glare: Harry gives one to Alistair in #53 of Badlands when the latter suggests to Harry that he "go out there and put those other four savages out of their misery," meaning Harry's good friend John Duff and his men, who have all been infected and become Crossed.
- Deconstruction / Reconstruction: The series re-thinks the Zombie Apocalypse story right back to square one: as culture has grown numb to the idea of "unstoppable plague of mindless cannibals," Ennis ups the ante to "unstoppable plague of grinning sadists" to rub in how awful surviving this sort of apocalypse would really be.
- Determinator: The cast of the first volume walk from Kansas to Alaska, pursued all the way. The Crossed will also go to absurd lengths if they see something they want to abuse.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: While downer endings - or at best, heavily bittersweet ones - are par of the course for the series, the ending to the Badlands third arc really comes across as forced. Specifically, Edmund has finally manned up, saved Donna from the Crossed, and gotten his girl. Then, later that night, Donna murders him for having abandoned one of her biker friends earlier.
- The ending of the Thin Red Line: After the threat of nuclear armageddon is averted, Gordon Brown and his cabinet are finally able to focus on dealing with the pandemic by organizing the evacuation of key people to safe and fortified locations across the UK. Unfortunately, the medical team in charge of studying the virus becomes infected off-panel. Which leads to Gordon Brown's death.
- Don't Look at Me!: Shows up during an odd sex fantasy of Harold Lorre.
- Downer Ending: One of the hallmarks of the series so far. When one of the taglines of the series is, "There is no hope," what do you expect?
- At the end of Volume One, everyone but Cindy, Stan, and their dog is dead. Although the last survivors go down fighting hard, they do go down. The trio who wind up dying in the last issue are also the three most sympathetic characters in the entire damned story.
- Family Values ends much the same way, with only Addy, three of her siblings (one of which is missing a leg, another having recently given birth, and the third still being fairly young), and two newborn babies surviving. However, at the very end, Addy finds their missing horses, which increases their chances of survival tremendously. So that ending can be considered a bittersweet one.
- Psychopath ends with Amanda running off into the night with a bleeding arm stump, her fate uncertain, and Harold rededicated to his quest to "bring Lori back" by infecting another survivor. Though Harold doesn't escape unscathed either, as Amanda manages to bite off his lips as she escapes. Harold then sews his lips back onto his face, though one wonders what sorts of health issues might crop up from that. For all that we know, Harold might already be a dead man walking... As Harry points out in The Fatal Englishman, in the age of the Crossed, minor wounds and injuries can be death sentences by themselves.
- 3D ends with only two survivors, one of the assistants and a soldier, manage to escape the city alive. Though it may be averted since they are able to get back to their group of survivors to help cure some of the sick kids, who ain't infected by the Crossed virus.
- Badlands's first arc ends with everybody dead or infected.
- The second arc, Homo Superior, ends with Ashley and Ashlynn infected, and Steve about to infect herself.
- The third ends with Edmund finally putting his fears behind him and saving a girl from the Crossed, only to get murdered by her that night.
- The fourth ends with Philly, the policewoman's niece, being the only named character (and possible the only one in town) who survives. She is last seen rowing down the river away from an overrun Samarkand to an unknown fate. Clooney, like Steve in Homo Superior, infects himself on purpose and brutally murders his girlfriend.
- The Fatal Englishman arc ends with Harry killing his friends in order to spare them from being killed or infected at the hands of the Crossed, before stepping outside the Porton Down facility to face his end at the hands of the Crossed horde. However, they did save Father Dennis and the children from certain death, and helped them to reach (relative) safety in the Channel Islands. They also ultimately decided against unleashing the biological and chemical weapons, as that would have killed not only Britain's Crossed, but almost all the non-Crossed as well. Instead, the entrance to the weapons is sealed off with explosives in order to ensure that no one will use them.
- Quisling ends with Oliver destroying the Cheyenne Mountain nuclear bunker and turning himself into a Crossed to deny Smokey from gaining access to the bunker's information. Smokey kills Oliver and his Crossed followers in a fit of rage before making for Florida.
- American Quitters ends with Errol overdosing on the ultimate high before being torn apart by the Crossed, Frank becoming Crossed and getting killed fulfilling Errol's revenge, and Elena being torn apart by her infected relatives on the island that was supposed to be a refuge.
- In Gore Angels Emiko is forced to kill her parents, Cody, and Nathalie after they've been infected by Al the Chemist (who also gets killed by her). She then releases Ryan because he "was only being true to his nature" when he led her to being gangraped. The last we see of him, he is chased by a pack of Crossed. Satoshi's fate is left unknown as Emiko loses contact with him when the internet goes down, though his fate is later revealed in Five Bloody Fingers. Finally, she commits suicide with her sword in order to avoid getting killed or becoming Crossed herself.
- In The Thin Red Line, the UK's Patient Zero finally succumbs to the infection after resisting it and its violent impulses throughout the arc, likely losing any hope of finding an answer or a cure. Moreover, while nuclear armageddon is averted the medical team is infected off-panel and Gordon Brown is killed.
- In Five Bloody Fingers Hazuki gets infected, and she, Satoshi, their three friends and her father's lion are trapped by hordes of Crossed. Two days later, with food and water running out, the remaining four decide to infect themselves with Hazuki's blood before charging outside and going down fighting the other Crossed.
- Drawing Straws: This is how Shaky's group decides which survivors go back with them at the end of the sortie.
- Drunk with Power: Those survivors who suddenly find themselves in positions of power are all too easily tempted to abuse it. Addy's dad, the Gamekeeper and Todd are good examples of this. Rab, however, is a subversion, as he does not abuse his power at all. Shaky theorizes it's because Rab never wanted to be a leader in the first place and was thrust into the part.
- In Wish You Were Here, Jasper was also headed down this path before his untimely demise.
- Dying Declaration of Love: Tom and Jackie, right before their nuke blows up in Thin Red Line.
Tom: Jackie... You do know, don't you?
Jackie: From the moment we met.
- Eats Babies: The sad fate of Kayleen Pratt's unborn child after she's turned into one of the Crossed.
- Evil Matriarch: Joyce Pratt becomes the main villain of "Family Values" after falling to the Crossed.
- Excrement Statement: Just one of the many ways the Crossed have their fun.
- Face Death with Dignity: At the end of the last issue of The Fatal Englisman, Harry calmly walks out of the main building of Porton Down to stand in front of an incoming Crossed horde, armed only with a pistol.
Harry's last words: Tally ho. Steady the buffs. Up, guards, and at 'em. Stand to.
- Tom and Jackie in Thin Red Line, when the engine of their Tornado fighter (which is carrying the nuke) dies and they're forced to make a kamikaze attack on the incoming Russian nuclear bombers.
- Selene in Wish You Were Here, when she uses the last claymore on Aoileann's Crossed horde.
- Wentz attempts this in Badlands #70. He doesn't succeed, though.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Becoming Crossed is generally thought to be this, which is why characters who have been splashed by Crossed bodily fluids tend to commit suicide or are killed by their non-infected friends and relatives. Being caught alive by the Crossed is also something that people will go to all lengths to avoid. Likewise, willingly submitting to the infection is either seen as an act of extreme desperation (as what happened with Addy's mother in Family Values, when she saw no other way to save her daughter) or an act of unforgivable depravity (like with Steve in Homo Superior and Clooney in The Golden Road).
Harry (in The Fatal Englishman, as he is walking behind his friends to one final confrontation with the Crossed): "Paddy, Jock and Taff. I've asked so much of them. They've never let me down. And I know with terrible finality that I cannot see them torn apart. Defiled. Or born again as demons." He shoots them all dead. "I cannot."
- Fear is the Appropriate Response: One of the general themes of the series. Due to the nature of the Crossed, standing your ground and fighting them is the surest way to die a painful and messy death, if not turn into one of the Crossed yourself. Hiding and fleeing is the only sensible course of action, with remote, inaccessible and sparsely populated locations (like Cava in Wish You Were Here) being the only safe places in which to settle. Even that might not be enough.
- Shaky (Wish You Were Here) and Edmund (the "Yellow Belly" arc of Badlands) openly regard themselves as cowards, with Edmund in particular loathing himself because of it. However, it's worth noting that they are still alive and uninfected (so far), while all their friends and relatives are dead or crossed. So their cowardice has very likely made the difference between life and death.
- ... and as soon as Edmund decides to be brave, he gets killed by the girl he saved. Had he just abandoned her when the Crossed attacked, or had he decided not to come clean to the bikers about what really happened to Nicole, he would most likely still be alive. Moral: Courage will get you killed or Crossed in the world of the Crossed.
- Follow the Leader: Intentional or not, "Crossed" shares enough similarities with Warren Ellis's Black Gas to raise an eyebrow or two.
- Foregone Conclusion: Those who read the "Thin Red Line" prequel arc of Badlands already know that any attempt to fight or contain the pandemic is doomed to fail, that both Britain and the world will be overrun in the days ahead, that Harry and his team will survive the events of the outbreak and die five years later in Porton Down, and that the infected Russian pilots will fail to deliver their payload to the US mainland. The drama instead comes from the first events of the pandemic as they happened, and the true nature and origin of the virus.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Before she was infected, Aoileann was a kindly nun who risked her life to save the patients of a nursing home that she worked in even though half the patients that were infected. After her turn, she leads an entire army of Crossed.
- Full-Frontal Assault: The Crossed are fond of this.
- Gang of Hats: In "Psychopath" we see two tribes of Crossed who've developed different habits. The Skinfaces who cut off their victims faces and wear them on various parts of their body, and the Bloodskins who soak in their victims bloods until they absorb enough of it to give their skin a red tint.
- Gender-Blender Name: Steve in "Homo Superior". If it's short for anything, we don't find out.
- Genre Shift: The "Thin Red Line" arc of Badlands is this, in part due to it's nature as an Origins Episode for the franchise, where it takes on aspects of a geopolitical thriller as Gordon Brown and his advisers attempt to deal both with the emerging pandemic and the possibility of nuclear armageddon while a medical team attempts to find the cause of the infection as the world begins to tear itself apart. Most noticeable is the minimal use of the series' trademark Gorn, which is instead used sparingly and effectively.
- Also the actual Crossed (i.e. those with the facial rash, the unspeakably violent/sadistic behavior, and the retention of their human intelligence) only begin to appear halfway through the arc, though several different strains of Proto-Crossed ranging from the mindlessly homicidal and sadistic (such as Harry's friend's security team and the villagers who attacked the nearby airbase) to the suicidal (the villagers who hurled themselves into the gorge) to the simply crazy.
- Gorn: Those murders and rapes mentioned above? All drawn in loving detail.
- Remember the Reavers from Firefly? Who'll rape you to death, eat your flesh, and sew your skins into their clothing? (If you're very VERY lucky, In That Order). Well, in that show, you didn't see any of it. Here, however...
- The series even has "torture" variant covers for people who think the standard editions don't have enough Gorn.
- Gratuitous Rape: The Crossed really like their rape. Dubbed "buggerkill" in "Wish You Were Here."
- Grievous Harm With A HORSECOCK!
- Groin Attack: There's some...pretty graphic ones in the series.
- Hate Plague: The Crossed have absolutely no inhibitions and a cruel intelligence. When there aren't uninfected to hunt, they turn on each other.
- Heel Realization: Harold has somewhat lucid moments throughout Psychopath where he realizes what a monster he really is, they don't last long, unfortunately.
- Hero of Another Story: Due to the nature of the franchise, there are quite a few protagonists. Jackson of Wish You Were Here definitely qualifies, though, and he is also the protagonist in the Crossed Annual.
- He Who Fights Monsters: A recurring theme. In order to survive the plague, the uninfected are often pushed to extremes themselves.
- Hope Spot: Despite how bad things are in the series, they always give a tiny, tiny ray of hope for the survivors.
- Possibly the worst in the first series is when a small pack of Crossed is chasing Patrick. The survivors, fed up with running and hiding all the time, heroically charge in and get a little payback, annihilating the Crossed, only to find that Patrick has turned anyway.
- Well into Wish You Were Here a character is introduced who is described as being some kind of super scientist who may even be immune to the cross virus. He takes a knife to the throat barely an issue after he's introduced.
- A tribe of Australian Aborigines retreat into the outback to safety in the Crossed 2013 Special, protected from invasion by the Crossed's notorious lack of self-preservation. The implication is that even if the rest of Australia is dead to a man, they'll be fine.
- Gordon Brown experiences this in Thin Red Line when one of his aides tells him that they may have stopped the spread of the infection in Britain at the last minute, with said aide explaining that the cordons south of Nottingham appear to be holding and that any large-scale refugee movement (which is spreading the virus) can be contained. Of course, those who have read the first arc of Badlands as well as Wish You Were Here and The Fatal Englishman (which features Gordon Brown's bodyguards five years later) know better...
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: Edmund from "Yellow Belly" is easily distracted by pretty girls.
- Humans Are the Real Monsters: All humans have the potential to be monsters, with Stan pointing out that however horrible the Crossed are, they never do anything that ordinary humans cannot also do.
- "The Thin Red Line" reveals that one of the patient zeroes of the initial outbreak (and possibly all of them) were overcome by visions of atrocities committed throughout history (the Holocaust, the Balkans genocide, the Cambodian Killing Fields are all mentioned) and then all of human history (9/11, the suppression of the Indian Mutiny, biblical child sacrifice) which they then decided to imitate. It is yet unclear as to whether this was due to the "prototype" virus infecting them (which had many different effects as it evolved to the full Crossed infection), whether this mass hallucination actually created the virus, or (as speculated by the doctor researching the plague during the initial crisis) whether this infection was always within humanity and was only now emerging.
- Improbable Weapon User: In the first arc, a Crossed uses the severed reproductive organ of an equine specimen. Or, in layman's terms HORSECOCK!
- Infant Immortality: Brutally averted. The cover for one issue has the Crossed putting kids on a playground slide. At the bottom of the playground slide is a wood chipper. In Wish You Were Here, the Crossed throw a newborn baby into the air and then shoot it to splatter its infected blood on a group of survivors.
- Insane Troll Logic: Harold believes that the Crossed virus absorbs and locks away the good part, the soul, of a person, leaving only evil impulses behind. By this logic be believes that if he feeds the infected flesh of his dead stalker crush to Amanda (whom he believes is a pure and untainted innocent) the virus will have no evil to absorb and will release Lori's soul into Amanda's body, allowing Lori to be reborn. Luckily he never gets to test the theory.
- Iwo Jima Pose: On the cover of issues 7 of "Family Values". The difference between it and other homages is that they're planting the flag into some guy's mouth.
- Jailbait: Roshan of "Wish You Were Here" is the fifteen-year old daughter of the only Muslim family on the island. She's also very sexually active, and flashes Shaky at one point. Despite being tempted, Shaky doesn't follow up on her come ons, partially out of fear of her strict father, partially because her age makes him uncomfortable.
- Interestingly, Roshan's mother is fully aware of her daughter's behavior, but she apparently tolerates it and keeps it a secret from her husband.
- Ashley and Ashlynne, the identical twin sisters in Homo Superior, also qualify as this.
- Kill 'em All: Don't expect any more then a handful of the characters to survive.
- Badlands's first arc is the first to completely kill off or infect its cast.
- Same thing with the second arc.
- Lady of War: Captain Dora of the driftfleet turns out to be this in Volume 3, Chapter 19 of WYWH. She shows Shaky just how much more at a higher level she is than smug snake Don.
Shaky (narrates): "In Dora's eyes the calculation happened. I could see it. The cost weighed against the benefit. You could see her reading back the little note I wrote her. You could see her comparing this with that. Watching it...? Watching it made me feel stupid I didn't guess she was the real captain earlier. Dora made Don look like a fumbling middle-manager.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Shaky gets this when, upon the expedition returning to Cava, he finds out that Rab has told everyone about the incident with the Crossed child and that he forced Rab to put him on the team to the mainland. This results in everyone on the island mistrusting and ostracizing him.
- And now the chickens have really come home to roost for Shaky as the surviving Cavaites prepare to leave the island, without him. Rab ensures this by smashing Shaky's ankles while Skip and Jamie hold him down. Though all of them have very morose and apologetic expressions during this, signifying that they take no pleasure in crippling Shaky.
- Life or Limb Decision: When Matthew Pratt is bitten on the leg by his infected mother, Addy manages to cut it off before he's turned.
- Loincloth: In issue #4, we see a Crossed wearing one. It's made out of some guy's face.
- Loves the Sound of Screaming: Volume 4 of "Wish You Were Here" gives this as the reason the Crossed don't usually attack each other. No matter what they do, their victim will just laugh through it all. And that takes all of the fun out of it.
- Madonna–Whore Complex: This is Harold Lorre's main problem.
- Mafia Princess: Hazuki in the Five Bloody Fingers arc. Her father is a Yakuza oyabun.
- Mama Bear: Everything Cindy does in the first series is to protect her son Patrick, including shooting a cop without any hesitation whatsoever.
- Monster Clown: Since "Yellow Belly" involves a group of Crossed who were circus workers, a couple of these appear.
- Mood Whiplash: Issue four opens with a discussion about the ramifications of shooting the dog. And then... HORSECOCK!.
- Monumental Damage: Averted in the 2013 Special, where Uluru/Ayer's Rock is shown to be intact though hosting a camp of refugees from Australia's west coast mixed in with Aborigines. The refugees are later infected by a Crossed David, though the Aborigines manage to escape.
- Morality Pet: Haley is this for both Gavin Land and Wentz.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Welles from "Golden Road" is said to give a different version of his life story whenever he's asked. Given his personality, it's likely he does it for no other reason than to screw with people.
- Mystical Plague: While it is speculated throughout the franchise that the infection is some divine punishment or other supernatural phenomena, this trope is seemingly averted.... until "The Thin Red Line" arc. In this story it is revealed that the virus is utterly alien to science on an atomic scale, and it grants one of the "Patient Zeroes" horrifically vivid supernatural hallucinations of historical atrocities he had no previous awareness of, as well as knowledge about things he had literally no mundane way of discovering.
- Namedar: Given just how fast the infection seems to have spread, it seems a little odd that every group of survivors refer to the Crossed by the same name. Averted in "Wish You Were Here" since the survivors refer to them as "plus-faces" instead.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: One of the characters, convinced that salt will kill the Crossed, attempts to stand against them by putting a ring of salt around himself and his family when his wife twists her ankle running from a pack of Crossed. It really doesn't go well.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Discussed in "Wish You Were Here."
- Not in Front of the Kid: In the first arc, Cindy calmly reminds her companions not to swear in front of Patrick.
- Artistic License - Nuclear Physics: The prologue of Volume One ends with a mushroom cloud in the distance, and Stan stating that he later found out that someone pulled the control rods out of Wolf Creek power station. Nuclear power plants do not malfunction that way; the two worst nuclear disasters in human history, Chernobyl and Fukushima-Daiichi, resulted in fires and explosions that spread radiation, but nothing on the order of a full-scale atomic bomb-style explosion.
- It's Stan's theory on what happened. He knows it happened at or near the Wolf Creek reactor, but isn't sure what caused the explosion, and one of the ongoing themes of Volume One is that Stan is a whole lot dumber than he used to think he was.
- The recent "Thin Red Line" arc of Badlands may well offer a long belated explanation in the the form of infected Russian nuclear bombers
- Offhand Backhand: In "Family Values" Kate ends up delivering a baby in the middle of a Crossed attack, with Hannah helping. When Jethro tries to get Hannah to leave before it's finished, she elbows him in the face, all without losing her excited expression and still talking to Kate.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The protagonist of "Wish You Were Here" is named Shaky, short for Shakespeare, which he was mockingly called by another survivor after telling him his occupation as a writer. He's never revealed his actual name, and none of the other characters have called him anything else. (Unless you count "cunt" as a name.)
- Painting the Medium: All Crossed talk in a red, jagged font. One poor bastard develops the font before developing the rash.
- Parental Incest: Oh DEAR GOD, Joseph Pratt.
- Patient Zero: This is explored in the current arc, Thin Red Line. In it, it is revealed that the infection started in the summer of 2008 and that there is no single "Patient Zero", but individuals in every country on Earth that mysteriously became infected after seeing visions of the worst atrocities in human history. So far there have been several Patient Zero's explicitly or implicitly identified including a Russian soldier, a French villager, and a mysterious man in the UK who seems to be immune to the effects of the virus through sheer willpower.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Whatever Clooney has planned for depraved writer Gideon Welles and whoever is part of the poe-inspired orgy, including his own girlfriend. (After going with the one option that not even Gideon thought of) in The Golden Road, it isn't gonna be pretty.
- Case you're curious, He plans to unleash the Crossed on them all!
- Pistol-Whipping: Harold breaks Rick's jaw with the butt of his pistol before killing him.
- Pretend We're Dead: The group in "Psychopath" disguise themselves as Crossed as part of a plan to make two different groups kill each other. It works, but they always keep their distance. Trying to fool the Crossed at close range is probably a really bad idea. Especially as the Crossed have no aversion to brutally slaughtering each other if no other victims are available.
- The Quisling: Oliver, in the eponymous Quisling.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Rab in Wish You Were Here. Gordon Brown in Thin Red Line has shades of this, though it's hampered by his initial indecisiveness.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Several of the Crossed show a remarkable ability to track their chosen victims, across miles of land if needed.
- Sequel Escalation: Each series in the universe, from the Ennis original to Family Values to Psychopath, tries its damned hardest to be more shocking, gorny and full of Black Comedy than the one that came before it.
- Serial Killer: Geoff, in the Jeffrey Dahmer vein.
- Sex for Solace: Between Amanda and Rick in "Psychopath" after their lovers are murdered.
- Shown Their Work: In Crossed #2, a survivor mentions what's happened to Texas and New York in the months since the Crossed showed up. Both are realistic depictions of what would probably happen following the abandonment of either state; Texas's oil refineries eventually overloaded and exploded, and New York City flooded without the continuous pumping of its subways and sewers.
- Shoot the Dog: Cindy and Stan kill a group of kindergarteners whose guardian they had accidentally killed in order to keep traveling with minimal impediment.
- While still bad, it's not quite as bad as it sounds. With resources stretched thin, the guardian in question had been teaching the children to live off whatever they could find. Specifically, other survivors. Given the choice between having to stretch their own thin supplies to account for a dozen cannibalistic five-year-olds or shooting a bunch of children, Cindy went for option B.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: A badly injured Richie hurls abuse at each member of his now ex-group as they're walking away from him, leaving him to the Crossed.note He tries to imply that none of them are any better than him. Their answer?
Tabitha: "Who do we think we are, Richie? Honestly, I have no idea. These days I don't think anyone does. But I do know we're not you."
- Slasher Smile: This is the only expression the Crossed seem to have.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: This series makes its home on the cynical end of the scale.
- Smug Snake: Don, one of Cava's two "leaders" in WYWH. Though competent in some matters, he is supremely arrogant and is more often than not ignored by the other Cavaites. Shaky refers to him as a "poison dwarf" and "sly, string-pulling, venomous little politico."
- Alistair, Gordon Brown's political advisor in "Thin Red Line." Constantly tries to manipulate his boss for his own ends (with Harry implying that Alistair is trying to ingratiate himself with Tony Blair so that he can join his team instead), is openly contemptful of him behind his back, looks down on Harry and engineers Gordon Brown's arrival at the government facility where Patient Zero is being kept, thereby causing John Duff's entire security team to become infected/killed.
- Richie, the protagonist in Garth Ennis' Crossed DOA webcomic. Is initially introduced as a cynical man who is competent enough to have survived for five years. As the chapters go by, however, he increasingly reveals himself to be this as it is revealed that he hoarded vital supplies from the other members of his group, was always a sociopath who viewed other people as objects, always intended to abandon his group and leave them to the Crossed the moment they were no longer useful to him, and it is also heavily implied that he has gotten other people killed this way.
- Spiteful Spit: In the first arc, the current group of survivors come across a cop who's been keeping a Crossed locked in the back of his police car. The Crossed manages to anger him to get close enough to spit on him, infecting him.
- Spoiled Sweet: Hazuki Yamada. Although she has more money than she knows what to do with it, she is cheerful, friendly and fervently loyal to her friends (who by and large are considered losers by society at large). Unknown to her friend Miku, who goes on "compensated dates" with men and steals their money, Hazuki had her father use his connections with the police to protect Miku from her clients.
- Take a Third Option: Or rather, in this case, a fourth option. In issue 16 of Badlands Clooney finds everyone in Samarkand in a drug-fueled orgy inspired by Poe's Masque of the Red Death, with his girlfriend involved in a foursome with Jared, notorious author Gideon Welles and another girl. Having studied Clooney's personality, Welles thinks that Clooney will either a) attack him, b) join in the orgy or c) run away like a pussy. Clooney, however, has another option.
Clooney (narrates): "You have all the possibilities worked out. What will Clooney do? Option a, b or c? Well, it's none of the above, you bastard. I've got a few ideas of my own. I'm going to seriously fuck you up."
- Take That: A given, as this is Garth Ennis we're talking about. It seems to be aimed at armchair survivalists who believe themselves prepared for such an occurrence as a zombie outbreak.
- Emiko's retort in response to Cody's horror at her drawings could also be interpreted as this towards popular manga stereotypes
Emiko: Not all manga are big-eyes and panty shots.
- Taking You with Me: What Harry and his team's mission amounts to, with regards to the Crossed. They intend to locate a biological and chemical warfare center and set off all the weapons there. Needless to say, Father Dennis is horrified when he hears this.
- How Tom and Jackie take out the Russian nuclear bombers in Thin Red Line.
- Selene stays behind on the ship as bait and uses the last claymore to blow herself, Moses and Aoileann's whole army up in Wish You Were Here.
- Technically Living Zombies: The Crossed are a twisted and nasty version of this trope.
- The Bus Came Back: A very rare trope used in the whole series, seeing as continuity is rarely used, it comes back hard as at the end of the third issue of David Lapham's arc of Badlands, Harold from Lapham's ''Psychopath" arc IS BACK.
- Harold's victim Amanda returns in Badlands #21. And again in #33.
- Harry and his friends appear in the Thin Red Line arc, where they are shown to have been Gordon Brown's bodyguards when C-Day occurred.
- Emiko's friend Satoshi returns in Badlands #71.
- The Dog Bites Back: What Leon does to the white supremacist compound (which is led by his abusive father) in Homo Superior.
- The Future: Crossed: +100 by Alan Moore and Gabriel Andrade takes place 100 years after C-Day.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Rab gives one to Shaky, right before he breaks the latter's ankles.
Rab: You are a crawling manipulative snake wi'oot a spot ay trust for anyone.
Rab: Och— It's not that you're selfish exactly... it's more that you'll always act from the point ay view of the self— Y'know? It's different. You cannae share. You cannae empathise. You cannae even conceive of a world that wouldnae benefit from having you in it.
- The Remnant: Shaky and his team come across Fort George, the real-life garrison/HQ of the Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland. Besieged by hordes of Crossed, the fortress is still manned by the uninfected Black Watch, which means they have been holding out for as long as 18-24 months. Also doubles as a Badass Army.
- Unfortunately, the Fort is later overrun by the Crossed, leaving no survivors. And Shaky's theory as to how it happened is later proved to be incorrect.
- A sizable remnant of the U.S. military centered around Naval Base San Diego is shown to be holding out against the Crossed in the Gavin Land arc several days after C-Day, trying to evacuate over 250.000 of the remaining inhabitants of San Diego before it's overrun.
- This Is Reality: Shows up often. Anytime one character gets the idea of fighting back or finding a cure, the viewpoint character will harshly remind them that fighting back is suicide, there is no cure, and they're all going to die.
- The Virus: The Crossed transmit the virus via fluids, as mentioned above. Issue #50 is the beginning of a new arc by Ennis, "The Thin Red Line," which deals with the origins of the infection and how it was allowed to spread. It appears to have begun in the UK although the earliest infectees do not have the trademark facial rash initially.
- There also seems to be different strains to the early virus in this arc as some people become catatonic, some become suicidal, and others become hideously violent and sadistic. However, all of these strains lack the same amount of cruelty that the later strains have.
- In Crossed Volume 1 the survivors come across the journal of a soldier who'd had a rather chilling theory on how the Crossed had seemingly appeared everywhere in equal measure and at the same time, with no apparent points of origin to have spread out from: "Maybe they were there from the beginning, a strategically triggered infection designed to ripple out and take us all."
- This also comes back in the "Thin Red Line" arc where it is revealed patient zeros appeared in seemingly every country on earth at the exact same time, and seem to have been ordinary people who were mysteriously possessed by some unknown force to carry out horrific acts of sadism and brutality in imitation of the worst crimes of human history.
- "Thin Red Line" also establishes that the Crossed virus is explicitly supernatural in nature; part of why it drives its victims mad is that it gives them vivid, ongoing hallucinations of human atrocities. The "patient zero" for the UK, once he stops trying to fight the infection, gains a bizarre amount of knowledge that he shouldn't have, such as Harry's nickname for the Prime Minister's secretary, which suggests the virus gives its hosts a particularly cruel brand of clairvoyance.
- Through the Eyes of Madness: The first Crossed annual is told from the point of view of self-proclaimed loonie Jackson, first introduced in "Wish You Were Here". He generally just hallucinates strange creatures appearing around him, and mentions that his memories have degraded so that he does this in flashbacks to before he went crazy. He also realizes at the end that the person he was talking to wasn't who he thought it was.
- Throw-Away Country: most of the Middle East is mentioned as having gotten nuked.
- Though a couple of covers show what happens in Jerusalem and Giza before that. It ain't pretty. So the Middle East getting nuked may be considered a mercy kill.
- Throw Away Outer Space due to one cover features a bunch of Crossed loose in a space shuttle. Including Crossed chimps.
- Took a Level in Badass: Daphne in the 2013 special. Goes from a self-described "reliant" and victim to a hardened survivor who avenges her husband and takes over Todd's road train, in the process becoming one of the most powerful people in post-C-Day Australia.
- Trauma Conga Line: Any hope that any particular character has for a happy ending gets gutted and raped, In That Order.
- Two-Faced: Cristos of "The Golden Road" has burns all over the left side of his body, exactly like Two-Face. He says he did it to himself to be more interesting.
- Unreliable Narrator: As communications broke down extremely quickly, it's only to be expected that the survivors would have fragmentary and contradicting information about the world at large. One notable example is the fate of Pakistan, as in Quisling a white supremacist militia tells Oliver (gleefully) that Pakistan was erased in a nuclear holocaust. However, in the original series a person claiming to be a former CNN journalist said that the Indians had not retaliated against the Pakistanis despite New Delhi being nuked.
- Unsexy Sadist: Harold Lorre is noticeably more grungy looking then most of the other characters.
- Villainous Incest: Shows up in "Family Values", in more ways than one.
- Weaksauce Weakness: A gentleman in the second issue believes that the Crossed have become deathly allergic to table salt as a result of their infection. Boy, is he wrong.
- Wham Episode: Chapter 24 of the second volume of Wish You Were Here reveals that Aoileann's group of Crossed has Seline.
- A crippled Jackson commits suicide in Chapter 24 of the third volume in order to prevent the Crossed from either killing him or turning him. And at the very end, it is revealed that the Gamekeeper still lives.
- Wham Line: From Volume 1:
- Patrick: "Mommy, YOU FUCKING CUNT!"
- Also, this one:
Geoff: I used to pick men up. Young men. And take them home.
Geoff: And I'd torture them until they were dead and cut them up into pieces, and then I'd bury them beneath my house.
- Much later in Badlands #53 (though at the chronological start of the pandemic) we have Gordon Brown attempting to avert a nuclear Armageddon caused by infected (or proto-infected at this stage) Russian nuclear pilots carrying a huge payload to wipe out the east coast of the US (in the middle of the growing British epidemic nonetheless) and desperately needs to get in contact with the US president in order to coordinate a defence and find out just what the hell is going on. At long last they are finally able to contact the White House and...
PM's aide: Prime Minister, we have a confirmed report of a nuclear airburst over Delhi.
- From "Quisling," the most disturbing and terrifying thing Oliver has ever woken up to:
"Smoky is reading my journal."
- From Badlands #55, the penultimate entry in the "Thin Red Line" arc, Alistair (Gordon Brown's aide) has been locked into the room containing Patient Zero and two of the new Crossed, who are currently fighting for the right to rape him. The following line is fairly innocuous until one realizes that it confirms the truly supernatural nature of the infection.
Patient Zero: Catamite. Yes?
Alistair : Wh...?
Patient Zero: Isn't that what henote called you?
Alistair : How... do you...?
Patient Zero: I know all sorts of things I couldn't have known. It's all going away. It's going along with everything else, down into dark red slurry. But for now— I know.
- The War on Straw: The series, as mentioned above and below, is supposed to be a Take That to self-professed "zombie survivalists" and show how helpless they'd really be in such a situation. However, other than their massive numbers and the inability to be reasoned with, there's actually a lot of differences between the Crossed and most zombies; your average zombie cannot use projectile weapons (or, indeed, any tools at all beyond maybe a simple bludgeoning/stabbing implement), has pitifully inept senses and no logical capacity. The Crossed, on the other hand, have all the capabilities of regular humans added to their Axe Crazy behavior — naturally they're going to be a lot more dangerous than the mindless to animalistic flesh-eating ghouls the series is mocking.
- The anti-survivalist aspect of the story is more or less confined to a single issue of the original series, where a nerdy survivor begins to talk about fighting back and reclamation and is immediately shot down by the more cynical narrator. That single issue has had a much more widespread impact on the general comics-reading Internet's opinion of Crossed than, arguably, the hundred or so that have followed it.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Strangely, yes. There are a few moments in the series where the characters will stop to take in the natural beauty of the world. It usually doesn't take long for the Crossed to spoil the view...
- One such moment occurs in Volume 1, Chapter 19 of Wish You Were Here, when Shaky and Sofia, a deaf/mute Spanish woman, sit down on the grass and together watch the aurora borealis. Even a hardened cynic like Shaky can't help but be impressed by its beauty. This is right before he realizes that Sofia has committed suicide by slitting her wrist with a razor.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: As mentioned in Take That, plenty of people in the series think they know how to survive a Zombie Apocalypse. They're proven wrong in the most horrific ways possible.
- Father Dennis' plan of fooling the Crossed in The Fatal Englishman is this. Fortunately Harry's team intervenes.
- Zombie Apocalypse: By the time the series begins, 99% of the planet is Crossed.
- Zombie Infectee: Generally not a problem, as becoming Crossed happens in a matter of minutes, if not seconds. However, getting shot with a bullet soaked in Crossed blood... or other fluids gives the infection enough time to creep up on one.
- Your Mom: This comes up sometimes as one of the Crossed's obscenities.