A comic strip begun in 1988. It centers on the Fox family, a reasonably average 3-child household. Most of the humor comes from the characters or commentary on pop culture, occasionally both at once.The characters are known for their quirkiness. Peter starves himself for three days before each Thanksgiving and is an overall Big Eater to the extreme. Paige has an imaginary boyfriend named Pierre who factors heavily into her dream life (the strips involving him usually repeat the phrase "Ooh, Pierre!" a lot and end with a panel outside the dream, where Paige is sleeping and Jason has Quincy (a pet iguana) pressed to her lips or the like). Jason plays Dungeons & Dragons with his Black Best Friend Marcus, but their battles are usually against fictitious versions of Paige. Andy, the health-conscious mom tries to sneak tofu into their diet on a regular basis (and doesn't like the thermostat set above freezing). Roger, the techno-fossil dad should never be allowed to plan vacations. Ever. And Jason occasionally draws a comic book called Slug-Man, whose nemesis is the evil Paige-o-Tron. Written and drawn by a genuine nerd, which makes for a lot of in-jokes with Jason's video games, comic books and general geekery.At the end of 2006, the strip changed to be Sunday Strip-only.You can find it here.
Andy: Oh, look. A Nigerian widow is offering to give me $10 million if I send her $500 for paperwork. Roger: Andy, Andy, Andy, just delete the the e-mail. It's a total rip-off. Andy: (sarcastic) Gosh, you think so? Roger: Yup. I'm getting $20 million from a Ugandan for $350. Andy: This is where you say "Just kidding"...
Aborted Arc: A two-week 1995 storyline had Paige getting the role of Cleopatra in the school's Antony And Cleopatra play, (with Morton playing Antony, of course). The story ended before the play started, with Roger loudly pointing out Paige's name in the play program to everyone else in the audience. After that strip, the story suddenly ended without any resolution — the main "hook" of the arc being that Paige was apprehensive about playing Cleopatra with Morton Goldthwait as Antony, and it could've been resolved but wasn't.
Accidental Aiming Skills: Peter throws a baseball at an apparently far-off tin can sitting on a fence post. In the final panel, we see that he was actually aiming for Roger's much closer glove.
Grandma also ends up deconstructing The Ace a bit in her first appearance when she learns that her Monty Oum levels of awesome had given Andy resentment and a desire to prove herself since the seventh grade.
One of the final series of daily strips had Peter and Paige eating tons of gingerbread cookies, resulting in a dream sequence where they became such cookies.
Acting Unnatural: Paige and Nicole shoplift a CD. Nicole tells Paige to act naturally. Paige holds her breath. Nicole tells Paige that acting naturally includes breathing. Paige immediately starts loudly panting as Nicole Face Palms and adds "Quietly".
And when Paige was on the JJV (junior junior varsity) cheer squad, she was sent to cheer at events like chess matches and debates.
All Just a Dream: Several strips have the characters dreaming an absurd situation (Jason giving Andy the keys to a fancy car and vacation tickets because she raised his allowance to $15,000 a week — then cut to The Reveal that he's whispering into her ear to manipulate her dream).
Always Someone Better: Eileen is this to Jason. She seems to trump him at everything (schoolwork, video games, you name it), much to his rage, and his attempts to one-up her always end in disaster. The fact that she has a crush on him only makes it worse.
This is sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes. In one strip, Jason found a four leaf clover right before class started, and then gloated to Eileen how it would help him get the highest grade on the math test... And then Eileen found a five leaf clover. In the last panel of the strip, Andy is yelling at Jason because he apparently flunked the test because he missed it, because he was spending the whole time searching for a clover with more leaves.
Analogy Backfire: Peter once used The Metamorphosis as an example to Jason, who had been transformed into a girl (It Was All Just A Dream), commenting on how well things had worked out for Gregor Samsa. Jason says that Gregor starved to death, abandoned by his family. Peter then admits he had never read past the first page of the book, as usual.
Animated Actors: Some strips use this premise for Rule of Funny. In one Sunday strip, Peter lights up the grill in Roger-stylefashion; in the last panel, Roger walks in, script in hand, and says he was supposed to do that. A scorched Peter says "Happy Father's Day, Dad."
Andy: Jason, I told you two weeks ago that I didn't want Mortal Karnage II coming into this house. You have no one to blame but yourself.
Andy: You're too young for this sort of thing. I mean, look at what it teaches: that human disembowelment is entertainment...that "winners" decapitate their enemies...that carnage is spelled with a "K"...
Andy: The sad part is, that's the least of my concerns.
Attempted in this strip:
Peter: So, Dad, I was thinking maybe I'd join the Marines.
Roger: That's nice.
Peter: And become a vegan.
Roger: That's nice.
Peter: And start dating married women.
Roger: That's nice.
Peter: And have "666" tattooed on my forehead.
Roger: That's nice.
Peter: And stay out an hour past my curfew tonight.
Roger: Think again, mister.
Art Evolution: The art was a lot looser and more detailed in its first couple years. Partway through 1990, it started becoming flatter and more geometric (eyes became circles instead of ovals, Jason's hair strands became equally spaced, the lettering became mono-spaced, etc.) but still had a high attention to detail. Most of the detail was simplified in the latter half of the decade.
Asian and Nerdy: Eugene and Phoebe Wu, a brother-sister team whom Jason and Marcus first met in a late-1990s Story Arc involving a science summer camp.
Axe Crazy: Paige worries that she'll become this after not only not getting grossed out by dissecting a frog for a science lab, but actually enjoying it. It doesn't help that Jason keeps telling her that.
Peter becomes this (with an actual axe!) when Jason and Marcus try to shoot Paige in the face with a bunch of darts with glue on them, but miss and hit Peter instead. At one point while chasing them, he asks if they've ever seen The Shining.
Bad Boss: JP Pembrook, Roger's boss, who does things like giving himself a giant pay raise while the company's in the red, insisting that the employees make themselves look bad on photo day so he'll look better by comparison, and at one point had Roger be the clown at his son's birthday party — though to be fair, Roger had actually listed "Bozo services" in the qualifications section of his resume (albeit as a joke), and at the end of the arc Pembrook thanks him for a job well done (and begs him not to sue).
Batter Up: Peter and Andy in two separate arcs hinted at wanting to bludgeon Roger with one of his golf clubs (or in the case of the latter strip, his newly bought, expensive golf club) when irritated about having to golf with him in torrental rain and in fury about Roger buying a new golf club, respectively.
Peter wanted to do it another time too, after Roger only offered to pay him five cents a hole after a particularly grueling job as a caddy.
Be Careful What You Wish For: After Andy expresses joy at seeing The Passion Of The Christ become a success, she says that she wishes that more of the "copycats" in Hollywood would do more religious-themed movies. She then sees a trailer for Alien vs. Predator vs. Jesus.
Also, Roger's rants about either gaining a lot of money in regards to developing a website or the excessive costs of christmas cards were the reason why Jason decided to do money-making schemes relating to these things.
Bedsheet Ghost: Peter does this and gets an appropriately horrified reaction from his mother, but only because he has cut holes in her new Ralph Lauren sheets.
Before Peter went out on his first date with Denise, he was telling one of his friends that he had a date that night, and when his friend jokingly suggested that "she has to be ugly as sin or blind as a bat," Peter crams his entire binder into his mouth.
The B Grade: Jason reacts in this manner to A++ grades, as he usually does far better.
The Big Easy: After Hurricane Katrina, Andy and Roger recall their honeymoon in New Orleans, showing that they had a much wilder youth than the staid middle-aged couple we see.
Big Eater: Peter is the most obvious example, but the other members of the family, with the exception of Jason, go through bouts of this as well. Peter and Roger often tag-team to eat as much as they can on Thanksgiving.
Peter: Plate 559 and feeling fine.
A little known fact is that Roger was originally the only Big Eater, but Peter only got into it around the mid-1990's:
Peter: I'm teetering somewhere between full and sick.
Roger: So who's ready for some PIE?!
Bilingual Bonus: In one arc, Roger is given a cigar branded Aroma del Baño ("Smell of the Bathroom").
Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...: One strip had Paige sorting through the mail, discarding it as nothing but junk except for the last item. The Reveal was that the "junk" was in fact personal letters while the last item was a shopping catalog.
In another comic, she sorts through the mail to find letters for herself, gets disappointed that they're all for her parents, and hands the stack to her mother, musing "You grown-ups have it so nice." Andy's reply? "They're called 'bills', Paige."
Another strip had Roger and Andy sorting through the mail, commenting: "Junk....junk....junk" until Andy finds a letter which reads "Pay Jason Fox two million dollars in small bills".
Blah Blah Blah: Inverted. Paige complains that the day has been boring, and it's just been one "blah" event after another. Cue Peter walking up to hear her actually say "blah blah blah" out of the legitimate context she had been using.
This strip was possibly Amend lampshading, as early strips involved Paige's phone conversations literally written as "Blah blah blah blah blah."
Jason: It's common knowledge that people with bow ties appear smarter. Since I already score perfect on all my tests, The only hope I have of improving my grades this year is to boost my "intangibles". I also wore an Albert Einstein mask, until the nose got dented during dodgeball.
Andy: Jason, I have a meeting with your teacher next week...
Jason: Actually, she wants to have it sooner, if possible.
Paige: After-school sports...Play rehearsals...Upcoming shoe sales...Movie schedules...Phone numbers...E-mail adresses...Cute boys without girlfriends...Anything I need to keep track of, I write in my planner.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: The first strip broke the fourth wall, with the cartoonist yelling at Jason, who was hauling in one of the strip's panels. Since then, the strip hasn't really broken the fourth wall at all, but it has come very close at times:
Early in the strip's run, the "F" in the strip's splash panel logo featured Quincy resting on it, having already taken a bite out of the "F." In one strip, Peter was blowing on a barbecue grill in the splash panel, and the smoke was drifting in the direction of the logo, resulting in the Quincy on the logo coughing.
In one arc, Peter and Jason discuss what would happen if a cartoonist got sick — would he draw stick figures, try to Photoshop the strip, etc.? — and their suggestions are reflected in the final panel.
Another example of this is a discussion between Andy and Roger talking about Dilbert, the innovations it came up with, and the fact that people might try to rip it or other successful comics off. Just guess what the last panels tended to be.
The last set of dailies consisted of Andy and Roger discussing what would happen if a cartoonist stopped doing dailies, asking how he would thank his fans, etc. This trope even gets lampshaded at one point when Roger suggests that the cartoonist would straight-up thank his fans for their support, and Andy responds, "And break the fourth wall? Not likely."
In another arc, Andy was having trouble motivating herself to write her column. In the last strip of the arc, she finally finishes at around midnight, and Roger muses about what might happen if a cartoonist just didn't feel like drawing. Cue the lights turning off.
In the aforementioned cookie-nightmare arc, Peter points out that he has it on authority that they'll be back to normal in the next strip. He calls it a "doughusex machina."
The 'ink outage' arc shatters the fourth wall, jumping all the way to Medium Awareness (see below).
Breakout Character: Jason, to the point where he appears in nearly every strip to deliver the punchline.
Briar Patching: Jason tries this after accidentally crashing the family car, but makes the mistake of listing a punishment he would not like (losing computer time), as a lenient one.
Bucket Helmet: One arc had Jason fashioning a make-believe virtual reality helmet out of a bucket.
Butt Monkey: The whole family each get these moments, but it's mostly Peter.
Call Back: The first vacation arc began Roger excitedly asking the family where they are going, and them unenthusiastically responding that it's Uncle Ralph's cabin, where they've gone camping at for the past 10 years. When Roger asks how they knew, one of them says, "Dad, you're blocking the TV." A year later, a gag repeats the first three panels word-for-word, but the fourth panel has the dad shouting "HAWAII!" and one of the kids saying "Dad, you're blocking the T—WHAT?!?"
Card-Carrying Villain: In-universe, Jason portrays Paige(-O-Tron) in Jason's "Slug-man" comics as the most horrible character possible.
Catapult Nightmare: Paige experiences a standard "falling" dream. Midway through, she realizes that it's a dream, and concludes that she'll wake up before hitting the ground. Sure, enough, she does. The last panel has her realizing she was right... as she falls out of bed.
One strip had Elieen ranting about a girl named Mandy Berwick and that she thinks she's so cool and popular, and then says "Zero matches on Google!". Someone then made this webpage for her.
Characterization Marches On: If you read the early comic strips you'd notice that Jason actually seems to act the way a normal kid would about school — that is, not wanting to go. But later on? He loves school. Roger Fox, too, also was shown as being good at chess and wasn't Too Dumb to Live. Of course, the chess part was flanderized within a couple years.
An early strip has Jason and Peter playing Dungeons & Dragons, something Peter would never do under normal circumstances.
Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs: During one shopping trip, Andy asked Jason to pick out one cereal whose first ingredient wasn't sugar. Jason found one cereal whose last ingredient was sugar... because sugar was its only ingredient.
Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Denise suddenly disappeared from the strip in the mid-2000s, although Peter never broke up with her. Oddly, strips after Denise's disappearance show Peter attempting to impress other girls.
Virtually all of the supporting cast disappeared from the strip regularly when the strip moved to Sundays. Marcus is the only character outside of the Fox family to appear on a regular basis nowadays.
Cluster F-Bomb: Played with and ultimately subverted: When Jason decided to take over The Boondocks while Aaron McGruder was focusing on making the animated adaptation, one of his ideas was, after hearing that the strip references "N-words", to use several of them. However, Jason doesn't actually know what the N-word actually means, so it shows a lot of N-words, but neither of them are the N-word.
In one strip, Andy rants about how almost all of that day's comics mention golf in some way, asking "what kind of group mind-rot is at work here?!" She shows the paper to Roger, who remarks, "No kidding! Seven strips don't even mention golf!"
Another strip has Peter and Roger watching the Super Bowl, with the rest of the family only ducking in for the commercials.
Peter: You're supposed to be caring about the GAME!
Peter: Um, shouldn't this be a little more realistic?
Jason: You try painting Vulcan ears with a number two brush.
Comically Small Bribe: Roger tips the paperboy with a nickel and then wonders why the paper always ends up on the roof or in the rosebushes.
Similarly, Peter Fox, while making a real complex order at a coffee shop, pays him $4.97, to which Peter pays $5.00 and tells him to keep the change. He also admits to Jason that he realizes he was being annoying, which was why he tipped him. Cue the three pennies flying towards his head.
Comic Book Time: Jason, Paige and Peter have been 10, 14 and 16, respectively, for two decades. One early strip featured Roger panicking over his 45th birthday, but later strips have stalled his age at 45 and Andy's at 42.
Interestingly, if Peter and Paige had aged from the start of the strip, they'd be almost the same age as their parents by now. Which means Roger and Andy are now part of the generation to which Peter and Paige originally belonged—a phenomenon observed in the comics themselves. One Halloween comic in the 80s had Roger attempt to impersonate Darth Vader, and he mispronounces "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and does theVulcan salute. Fast forward to 2005, when Revenge Of The Sith was released in theaters, Roger tells Jason that he used to have a Darth Vader helmet like the one Jason has back when The Empire Strikes Back came out.
Roger: *eyeroll* "Search your feelings. You know it to be true."
And again in the July 25, 2010 strip, when Jason says he's been waiting for Starcraft 2 for 11 years. Andy points out that he's only 10. He replies that he started in the womb.
One comic has Peter feeling old because it's 1990 because, as he puts it, "When I was a kid, 1990 was this year way off in the future. Heck, when I was a kid, 1980 was this year way off in the future!" (The joke being that all of the monologue is coming from off-panel until the last panel, when it's revealed that it's Peter talking, not Roger.) Of course, twenty years have passed since that strip was published...
It was played with in a strip about the comic's twentieth anniversary where Jason complains that Paige stole his hairpiece again.
Confusing Multiple Negatives: Paige tricks Peter into driving her to the mall by adding several "not"s to her statement ("Do you not want to take me to the mall?" "Yes." "Do you not not want to take me to the mall?" "No.") She outsmarts him by skipping from four to six "not"s.
Content Warnings: A 1997 strip featured the then-recently introduced TV ratings system in the US and lampshaded the Forbidden Fruit affect this has with kids. Jason is shown flipping through the channels and continuing to change each time he came across something labeled TV-PG and TV-14, until he yells, "Is there nothing for a kid to watch when his parents aren't home?" Then he comes across a program rated TV-MA, and says, "Finally."
When Jason gets some school supplies he doesn't like from Andy, he asks her if she's still mad about the car he crashed.
Early 1999 storyline featured Jason getting frustrated because he couldn't get past the Red Orb Guardian in a video game he's been playing. Paige managed to get past it by NOT attacking him. Few months later, when Andy's mom came to visit for Thanksgiving, Jason asks her if she wants see "his" trick of getting past the Red Orb Guardian.
Played with in one strip, where he ended up giving Paige, Peter, Andy, and Jason a football, earrings, an electronic voltometer and a pink Backsync Boys sweater respectively because he was tired and mixed up the gift tags.
Played with in another strip: Although not technically gifts, Roger ended up giving Peter and Jason Beavis and Butthead stockings even when they never asked for them. Peter and Jason themselves liked the stockings, Andy and Paige did not. When trying to reason with his wife, Andy suggests that she's going to demonstrate her rage in ways he wouldn't want to repeat.
Jason:[Holding stocking] Wow! I can't believe dad got me a Beavis stocking!
Peter:[Holding stocking] I can't believe dad got me a Butthead one!
Peter and Jason: Hnnhuhhunnhuuhnnhunnmmhuuhnnhhnuhnmmm...
Paige:[covering her ears] They can't believe it?!!??!
Roger: The lady at the store said they were all they rage.
Andy: Let me show you rage.
Subverted in a strip where Roger mentions that he was planning on giving Andy fluffed earphones for Christmas (even though she wanted a necklace) specifically because she would need them (she was telling Roger the gifts he'll have to give the kids, and they all have to do with loud noise as something in common).
In an earlier strip, Paige and Andy were shopping for bookbags (Paige evidentially did not want to go shopping for them). When Andy finds one with The Little Mermaid on it, Paige is practically openly suggesting she get it for Jason, although Andy seemed to know better, causing Paige to curse that she's no fun. It's not made clear as to whether Paige wanted the backpack for herself or whether she did genuinely intend to give Jason the backpack, although solely to humilate him, but what is made clear is that it wouldn't have benefitted or fit Jason in either case.
Something similar happened in another strip where Paige went Christmas shopping for various clothing that supposedly were her family, although they were actually intended to be for herself (for one thing, all the items that they have in common are that they are girls' items, and one of the shoes, Andy notes, matches Paige's shoe size).
Another rather unpleasant example was when Andy went back-to-school shopping and bought Jason stuff with Barney & Friends pictures on them, believing he'd like them because he liked dinosaurs. Even Roger realized Barney was not the type of dinosaur he'd like.
Roger, meanwhile, will pour one cup of coffee...for Andy, while he drinks the rest of the pot.
A Day In Her Apron: Everyone except Andy is a horrible cook, so any attempt to fill in for her in the kitchen ends badly. "Cool! The coffee's on fire!"
Peter is shown on occasion to be a perfectly capable cook so long as he's cooking only for himself and no one else.
The kids can make cookies. That seems to be all they can make though. And occasionally, Roger will grill something tasty.
Dead TV Remote Gag: The batteries are dead and there are no replacements, so Peter wails about how he'll have to watch the same channel all night, at least until his Mom comes in to tell him his bedtime is in ten minutes. "THAT LONG?!"
Delegation Relay: Andy asks Peter to take the garbage. Peter says that Paige owes him a favour so that Andy should ask her. Paige says that Jason owes her a favour so Andy should ask him. Jason says that Peter owes him a favour so Andy should ask him. Andy asks Peter (again) who then willingly takes out the garbage.
Denied Food as Punishment: Andy did this to Roger after he was accused of ruining the computer. It turns out that Jason and Paige had done so by spilling a can of pop on it.
A Sunday strip had something similar: Andy fed everyone except Roger pancakes, all after giving an extended question along the lines "Would you like some pancakes made from the heart-shaped spatula that your father gave me for Valentine's Day?" as a message that she did not like Roger's gift.
Andy: Jason, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Andy: Paige, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Andy: Peter, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Peter: Yes, please.
Jason: I'm noticing mom's not offering you any pancakes.
Roger: I'm noticing that, too.
Andy: Jason, would you like seconds?
Determinator: Jason once stood out in the rain for 6 hours commanding it to stop, just to prove his omnipotence.
Disney Owns This Trope: Jason tried to copyright 1 and 0 so that any song released on the Internet would be pirating his work.
Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: When Jason became a millionaire (by converting all his cash into Turkish lira), he started wandering around in a smoking jacket and puffing on a bubble pipe.
Disturbing Statistic: Andy tells Roger one in order to keep him up all night (specifically, that one in five men can expect to get prostate cancer), thereby keeping him from snoring.
D.I.Y. Disaster: Roger does this quite often, most of the time because he took a rhetorical question seriously. In one of the later daily storylines, he tries making his own wine, doing things like stomping grapes with Desenex on his feet, and resorting to melting down grape Popsicles to increase the overall amount. In the end, the only compliment he can get out of Andy is that pouring it down the drain made their garbage disposal run better than ever.
Dodgy Toupee: There was a weeklong story involving Roger of FoxTrot getting himself a bad toupee. His wife Andy is less than pleased:
Roger: Andy, I can't believe you don't like my hair piece.
Andy: Did I say I didn't like it?
Andy: Then don't put words in my mouth.
Roger: Fine. *Silence* Andy, I can't believe you think my toupee looks like roadkill.
Andy: "Unkempt roadkill."
Does This Make Me Look Fat?: In one strip, Andy asked Roger if he thought she could lose some weight and asked him to be honest. He said "Maybe a pound or two" and she collapsed in tears, claiming she had wanted him to be honest, not brutal.
Does This Remind You of Anything?: One arc has Eileen inviting Jason over to play video games with her, but their dialogue at first makes it seem like something else is going on. This starts in the first strip...
Eileen: Hey, Jason, wanna come over to my house after school? Jason: Eileen, get real. You're a girl. I'm a boy. What could we possibly do together that'd be any fun? Eileen: (Whispers into Jason's ear) Jason: (Suddenly ecstatic) OH MY! Eileen: See you after school.
...and continues in the second strip until the punchline.
Jason: We both know why I'm here, Eileen. I'm a young man with a young man's urges, and you've got what I need. Now enough chit chat. Let's get to the sofa. Jason: Finally! A Gamestation 2 controller in my grasp! Eileen: Ready to get it on?
Double Standard: A very mild, but still noticeable, example. Roger does a lot of dumb things and usually gets not only called on them, but called an idiot too. Andy does almost as many dumb things, but is only called on it about half as often, and usually comes out of it with everything but her pride unscathed. This may have something to do with Roger's near-bulletproof ego; the man continues golfing and playing chess when every member of the family but the iguana has demonstrated higher proficiency than him. One of the few times Andy apologized, for complaining about a vacation the kids enjoyed, she almost immediately after changed the subject to what Roger now owes her.
Drunk with Power: Happens to Peter every time he's in a position of authority, as Andy eventually comes to realize. This almost proved lethal to him in one week long arc when he was made manager of the football team, and the players quickly started to hate him. He himself said that if they weren't venting it on the field, he be dead. (The coach, however, couldn't have been happier; the venting had actually caused them to win three games straight.)
Peter: Dang, that trick always worked for Bugs Bunny.
Dug Too Deep: One of Jason's ideas for "How Disney could improve its movies" went like this:
Dwarves: We dig-dig-dig and dig-dig-dig and mine the whole day through... Grumpy: Balrog!
Early Installment Weirdness: The first few years of the strip look downright bizarre: looser, more sketchy artwork; more reality-based humor and interaction; a somewhat lesser emphasis on "nerd" humor and pop-culture references; and many other minute details that just don't correspond to the way FoxTrot was even in the mid-90s.
E = MC Hammer: Perhaps one of the notable aversions. A Running Gag involves Jason using far more complicated mathematical methods on his school tests — and of course, all the advanced math is 100% accurate. It was done to such an extent that the teacher was actually able to recognize his work even when he hadn't actually written his name on there.
Egopolis: Jason names everything he creates after himself.
Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn: This has happened to Paige a few times. One strip subverted it: Paige woke up in shock to find her skin beet red, but the last panel reveals that Jason had actually painted her while she slept.
Epic Fail: Jason. When his schemes fail, they fail big. As he puts it, "Why can't my successes ever be as spectacular as my failures?"
Roger is even worse. To give one example of how bad he can fail, Jason once programed a computer chess game so that he had a king and fifteen queens and the computer had a king and fifteen pawns; the computer beat him.
Everyone Has Standards: In one strip, Jason, disgusted with his mom and dad kissing each other, has a T-Rex ignoring a Triceratops and other potential prey, even a sleeping Brachiosaurus due to disgust at witnessing Roger and Andy kissing, and also even begs for some Velociraptors to put him out of his misery.
Peter: It's unbelievable how much homework I have to do tonight! I can't remember the last time I had this many things due! I don't know what all my teachers were thinking!
Andy: In the case, Sweetie, why don't I do the dishes?
Jason: I thought you had no homework...
Peter: It's all in how you say it.
At one point, Jason is complaining about no one selling the Jpad and it beating the competition of the iPad. Jason then claims that the Jpad would literally smash the iPad. Andy remarks that he misused the word "literally"... until she turns it around and discovers a rock taped on the back of the Jpad.
Peter finds Jason drooling over a centerfold. Of a computer. ("Hey: this video card looks airbrushed!")
Andy and Roger once catch him drooling over old National Geographics, and Roger believes it is due to pictures of topless women, when it turns out to be the Apollo 11 issue.
Played straight in a 1989 story where Peter receives a swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Peter insists I Read It For The Articles, and Andy suggests that she cut out the swimsuit women, causing Peter to reply "And read it out of context?" Eventually, she just takes it from Peter and burns it (to Roger's horror).
Peter puts up a new calendar and spends all afternoon in his room with it. Andy hears about this and approves, saying she also likes to plan things things out. Jason then corrects her, he's just looking at the bikini models for each month.
Andy: I wish your father would talk to that boy...
Fire Breathing Diner: Peter spent an entire week having to live down his girlfriend Denise's April Fools' Day joke: a chocolate rabbit filled with hot sauce, which he of course ate in two bites before his mouth was set aflame.
Also used in a different comic: Jason is shown adding three full bottles of hot sauce to his tacos. He ends up breathing fire into Andy's face, while remarking how great Novocaine was. (He had paid a visit to the dentist earlier.)
In another strip, Jason and Peter are playing a Name That Tune-style game with their tacos ("I can eat this taco with eight squirts of hot sauce." "Eat that taco."), resulting in Peter spraying flames from off-panel.
Flat Character: Lampshaded on the back cover of Assorted FoxTrot, which mimics a "Nutrition Content" panel. Ingredients include the various leads and "several artificial characters added for flavor."
Peter: Two fingers? Shake him off. Three fingers? Shake him off. Two fingers? Shake him off again. Three fingers? Shake him off again. One finger?... Hey, same to you, pal!
Food Slap: In an arc centered on Roger attending his college reunion, one strip opens with a woman confirming that he's Roger Fox, from the Delta Theta fraternity, at which point she says "After all these years, I can't believe I found you!" ...And then promptly throws her drink in his face, calling him a pig. And as this is happening, another woman walks up, asking "Roger Fox?"
Foreign Sounding Gibberish: Averted. In one strip, Peter accidentally places a phone call to Japan by playing Led Zeppelin with the tones. The symbols shown in the phone's voice bubble are the Japanese characters for "moshi moshi", which is the "hello" phrase commonly used on the phone in that language.
Fourth Wall Portrait: In one strip, three paintings of a bowl of fruit are shown, then one painting in the strip's standard style. In the fifth panel, Andy looks at a bowl of fruit and remarks that Paige's drawings are getting "more and more realistic."
One 1989 strip had him singing "A Million Bottles of Beer" over the answering machine.
"To reach Paige, press 666." This led to a fire-and-brimstone message from their preacher.
Another time, he offered a separate number for boys calling to date Paige. It was the number of the insane asylum.
Yet another time, he brought the machine up to the shower to record Roger singing in the shower:
Roger: You did this HOW many weeks ago?!
Paige has also done so, usually in the context of begging for a date to prom.
Funny Background Event: Quite often. The fog might slowly rise in a picture of San Francisco; letters might change on a sign; et cetera. Another common one was Amend sneaking a caricature of himself and a funny headline onto a newspaper being read by a character.
Fun with Acronyms: On two occasions, Jason asked Paige and Peter if they wanted a PB&J sandwich. Paige's sandwich was full of margarine (Jason had said it stood for peanut butter and jelly, but he left out a comma) and Peter's was full of jalapeños.
Paige also gets excited that the cafeteria is serving steak, which she explained is written in all-capital letters. Turns out that the lunch ladies are serving "squidtentacles, eggplant, and ketchup".
Gag Penis: Peter's entire baseball team is standing before the coach with huge bulges in their pants. The coach Face Palms and says, "Boys, I thought I told you to let the store tell you what cup size you need."
Gamer Chick: Eileen becomes this in a few story arcs but never seems to retain it otherwise. There were also a few strips where Paige, oddly enough, gave off this vibe.
Gender Bender: Jason attempts to have a Franz Kafka-inspired dream after Peter tells him about The Metamorphosis. However, instead of turning into a bug, Jason wakes up as a miniature Paige. The next two weeks of strips are filled with him experiencing various horrors like shopping with "Big Paige" and Marcus falling in love with him, but when he reaches the point where he actually likes the Backstreet Boys, he finally wakes up, remarking that it's true that you can't die in your dreams.
Ghost Pirate: Jason attempts to invoke this trope at the end of his stint of pretending to be a Pirate in order to irritate Paige, but Paige is Genre Savvy enough to realise what is coming next.
Gigantic Gulp: Peter drank a giant-sized "thirty-two-ple" espresso when he needed to cram.
Another strip has Roger filling up a giant coffee mug:
Andy: Roger, the kids brought you that mug as a joke.
Roger: I think you just can't stand to see me so happy.
Girl in a Box: In one strip, Jason and Marcus hide in Peter's backpack because they don't find fifth grade challenging enough.
Girls Have Cooties: Jason, quite frequently, sometimes taking it Up to Eleven, such as when he goes out for ice cream with Eileen and her parents. When she tries some of his sundae, he screams because the spoon touched her lips, and therefore, she has infected his entire sundae with lip cooties, and if he eats it, he'll die. However, as time went on, he got better, eventually admitting he liked Eileen.
Marcus had this too, but never quite to the same extent as Jason, and there were always subtle hints that he started liking girls while Jason was still afraid of cooties.
In another comic, Jason predicts that the Orioles will win the Super Bowl, then asks "Which team has Charles Barkley?"
Peter has to take Jason to a basketball game. Jason is angry at first over having to watch a bunch of eight-foot-tall geeks kicking balls through goalposts for two hours, then asks which guy is the quarterback.
Andy once asked what inning was it during a football game.
At least one strip had Jason sabotaging Roger's attempt to grill hot dogs by having his toys, while reenacting Saving Private Ryan, melt a soldier on the grill.
One strip also says that days when Roger is grilling on summer vacation are the closest thing to an exception to the usual rule of Jason having to go outside to get fresh air (namely because Roger's attempts at grilling result in the destruction of fresh air).
Groin Attack: Occurs to Peter when trying to slide across the hood of his car, Dukes Of Hazzard style. His underwear snags on the wiper blade, causing this trope.
Grounded Forever: Peter has been grounded for intervals of decades, centuries, or life. It never seems to stick of course. (Of course, in one two week arc where he was grounded for only two weeks, Andy reduced it to one, because having him stay in the house was proving to be a cruel punishment for the rest of the family, he was so annoying.)
An arc had Roger attending an out-of-state business meeting, then returning home to find Jason needs stitches due to a Hot Wheels incident. After two days devoted to Jason and his stitches, Roger quits work to spend more time with his family. He then gets conned into buying a $199.99 booklet on making money (which turns out to be worthless) and then tries to make money selling stocks on the internet. After losing $3,000 in the second hour, he sells the family computer and they buy an iFruit.
A 1995 arc began with Roger entering Jason in a chess contest. Thereafter, Jason wins $50 in the contest, taunts his siblings with it, then eventually spends it on 5,000 gumballs, which he eats in one weekend, then he gets a cavity, eventually ending up with him going to the dentist.
Headphones Equal Isolation: In one strip, Andy appears to be scolding Peter, but her dialogue is represented as tiny squiggles. In the last panel, she yanks off his (previously unseen) headphones and screams, "AND TAKE OFF THIS STUPID WALKMAN!"
Also, the kids give Andy a Walkman and then proceed to ask her questions like "Tell me if it's not all right for me to blow off my homework tonight" while she is plugged in.
Also Bill Amend himself. Newspapers read by the characters frequently feature such headlines as "Cartoonist Jams With Springsteen" or "Cartoonist Invited To Speak At U.N."
Jason's "Slug-Man" comics are an inversion of the trope, as they are mainly designed to make Paige(-o-Tron) into as horrible a figure as possible.
Another example from Jason came when the remastered Star Wars movies came out in the late 90s. Jason sent a letter to Lucasfilm, asking them to edit him into the film — as a Villain Sue counterpart to Luke who ends up converting to the dark side.
Hollywood New England: One strip had Peter and Jason deciding to adopt an exaggerated Boston accent while eating clam chowder, with Peter even saying "pahk the cah in the Hahvahd Yahd" in the throwaway panels. They stop upon threat of violence from Paige.
And subverted again in an early arc where they go to Hawaii.
Subverted in the Caribbean resort arc, as most of the family enjoyed it even though the place turned out to be every possible kind of fake and cheap: It was actually housed in a giant building with an artificial beach hundreds of miles from any ocean, the staff all had fake Jamaican accents, the "steel drums" were a synthesizer (whose player accidentally hits the button for bagpipes instead), and the "limbo suite" is so named because of its low ceiling. (Roger had taken the "How low can you go" sales pitch to mean it was a low rate.)
How The Character Stole Christmas: Jason wrote a pastiche of How The Grinch Stole Christmas with his mom as the title character. It ends up being an inversion of the original story, where she replaces lavish gifts with "useful" items such as novels, health food and clothing. She then retracts after the "kids down in Kidville" complain.
Human Popsicle: Comically invoked in one strip where Jason manages to spray water from a supersoaker his dad got him for Christmas at him when he was shoveling the driveway, causing Andy, who is frozen with him, to go "'Don't give him a super-soaker for christmas' I said. 'But he really wants one.' You said."
And in another where Peter is practicing baseball in the backyard during winter. He used heat lamps to keep the backyard snow-free, but then knocked a foul ball off one and ended up frozen.
Humiliating Wager: Peter has to shave his head after the baseball team loses a bet with the soccer team about who could eat the most burgers at White Castle.
Hummer Dinger: One storyline had a storyline where Roger went to a "Humbler" dealership. Said vehicle turns out to be comically huge, have a gas mileage of 25 meters per gallon, and is hinted to be so heavy that it affects the orbit of the Sun.
Hypocrite: Andy has a terrible addiction to candy and regularly eats all of it during Halloween and Easter. And she wonders why her kids say bad things about her tofu and eggplant casserole.
She also regularly condemns her children playing violent videogames, but spent an entire early arc being addicted to one of Jason's games.
Hypocritical Humor: In one series of strips, Peter gets in trouble for punching out another student; when Denise finds out, she chews him out for acting like he's in a Clint Eastwood movie or something. When she learns that Peter punched the guy for insulting her, she says "And you just punched him in the nose?!" and Peter, rolling his eyes, responds "Look, Clint, I..."
Roger is like this in a very early Sunday strip. He wakes the kids up for church, and they're upset, wanting to go back to sleep. Roger scolds them, telling them, "Someday you'll realize that some things are more improtant than sleep!" What does he do when they get to church? He falls asleep.
I Can Explain: Happens at least twice when Peter confesses to a transgression that he erroneously believes Andy already knows about:
In the aforementioned Berserk Button plot mentioned above, Peter is told a call will be made to his parents:
Peter (worried): Hi. Andy: Peter, the school called me today. Peter: Look, I know what you're going to say. Fighting is wrong. I know that. It was a momentary lapse. It won't happen again. I'll have to serve detention, but Mr. Krimpshaw says he may not put it on my permanent record. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was an idiot, all right?! Andy: They called to say someone found your wallet. Peter (thinking): "Was" nothing. Andy: Now, then. What's all this about a fight?...
In a one-off strip, Andy tells Peter she was cleaning under his bed and found something. Peter rapidly stammers that he only has those magazines for the articles... until Andy reveals that she was talking about his old baseball glove, which she then produces.
Andy: Now, what's this about magazines? Peter:(tugging at his collar) You mean my Scientific American collection?
Idea Bulb: Parodied in one strip where Jason takes every bulb in the house and uses them to make a mobile of light bulbs over his desk, saying that it "enhances my aura of creative genius."
In another strip, Paige is struggling with her essay on Thomas Edison when one of these flashes above her head. It turned out to be Roger who's holding a literal bulb up because he wants to impress her with all his Edison knowledge.
If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Andy is such a health food nut, and even some real life equivalents would find her dishes to be Nausea Fuel. (Beet and Cheese Subs, Curry Loaf, Corn on the Cob in a Hot Dog Bun, Lima Bean pizza?) Often played for kicks though, due to the Rule of Funny. This was almost the Trope Namer for this very trope as one strip calls it "The irony of health food."
If You Die I Call Your Stuff: Occurs in one arc where Jason "coaches" Peter on football in 95-degree heat: "You know, it occurs to me that if you die, I'll get your stereo." "OK, OK, I'll pay you two dollars! Just cool it with these push-up drills!"
I Just Want to Be Special: Played for Laughs with Jason and his constant desire for superpowers, such as standing out under a full moon after being nipped on the finger by a chihuahua in case it was a baby werewolf.
I'll Take Two Beers Too: Peter and Denise at a fast food restaurant. Peter orders "two burgers, two large fries, two chocolate shakes", Denise objects, saying she wanted a vanilla shake, and Peter says he hasn't started ordering for her yet.
Incendiary Exponent: Basically any time Roger (and in some cases, Peter) attempts to light the grill for a barbecue.
Informed Attribute: Jason and Peter are supposed to be skinny, and Roger is supposed to be overweight, but all three appear to be roughly the same build as all the other characters.
It's slightly more noticeable when their shirts are off. Some of it could be chalked up to Peter's baggy sweatshirt.
Innocent Swearing: In one episode, Paige watches Jerzy Spaniel while babysitting. Of course, the kid hears the word and starts repeating it. In the epilogue, Paige reports that the mother said kids always hear bad words and repeat them, but if you don't use them often or attach special significance to them, they'll eventually drop it. Then they discussed watching Jerzy Spaniel while babysitting...
Instant A.I., Just Add Water: The iFruit can speak, fantasize about sexy video game characters, demand hugs, and taunt those who refuse to play games against it. It also has, at times, a rather disturbing ability to deny user control and even control its own environment, changing not only its own wallpaper, but the wallpaper in the computer room.
One comic also featured a digital camera that supposedly had some sort of AI to guarantee decent pictures. When Roger tried to use it, it asked to be handed to someone who knows what he's doing, and retracted all the buttons.
Various other talking, seemingly intelligent electronic devices: A electronic chess set in the early days, a computer at Roger's workplace ("Can I get you some coffee? ...Oh wait, I don't have arms."), and a Tamagrouchy, a sentient (and aptly-named) knockoff of a Tamagotchi that Roger got Paige for cheap at the height of the real thing's popularity.
Insufferable Genius: Eugene Wu, mostly because he's an arrogant Jerkass who feels the need to rub his intelligence in everyone's faces. His sister Phoebe is smarter, but she's actually nice and well-adjusted. Jason has moments of this as well.
Insult Misfire: Jason tries to farm gold in a video game and sell it on eBay:
Peter: I guess there's an idiot born every minute.
Jason: Don't call my future customers idiots.
Peter: I wasn't referring to your customers.
In one strip, Peter goes to a Fast Food Restaurant, only to end up screamed at by the order-taker about how there are no more Bitty Babies as well as insulted. Peter then tries to tell the order-taker that he was only there to get a cheeseburger, to which the order taker reopens the channel and apologizes, explaining that it's been a rough week.
Intimidating Revenue Service: Every April, without fail, Roger waits until the last minute to file his tax returns by himself (or try to) and it turns into a nightmare for him. He never learns, apparently. Without a doubt, his worst attempt was the time he tried to use the computer to do them; a bad idea for someone who has a hard time simply figuring out how to use a mouse.
Peter: (makes an Oh Crap face) You mean my Scientific American collection?
And again when Peter claims he bought the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for an article on marlin fishing off Bora Bora. Andy offers to cut it out of the magazine for him. Peter's response: "And read it out of context?"
It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe example. Jason worries about the good public reception of the Lord of the Rings movies. Although he is only concerned that enjoying Tolkien's trilogy will make it (gasp!) mainstream to be a nerd, therefore depriving people like himself of their "special" status.
Also, a very early story arc had him upset when his mom bought him a Batman lunchbox from the 1989 film, because the movie had already been out for a few months and he didn't want to be seen as a bandwagon-jumper.
In a very early week-long arc, Jason was obsessed about The Simpsons, but in the last strip, thought that "the fad was passé" because Paige liked it. (This was when the show was on opposite Murder She Wrote by the way. It seemed Jason, like everyone else at the time who thought it was just a fad, was way off.)
It's the Same, Now It Sucks: Played with in-universe. Jason was tired of waiting for the sequel to Myst to come out, so he created his own sequel. He showed his brother his game, "Here's the observatory and here's the library..." and Peter said, "Wait, these are all the same levels of the first game. What makes this different?" The computer then beeped and said, "Warning, velociraptor approaching." Jason replied, "You have to solve the puzzles a little faster now."
Jerk Ass: Jason, throughout the comic strips regular storylines, could be downright unlikeable.
Every member of the family has its moments, actually, with Paige and Andy also being downright nasty a few times.
Know Your Vines: Jason and Marcus get sent on a night hike through poison ivy as part of an Escalating War of pranks with the girls. They compound the folly by deciding to use the leaves as camouflage.
Lampshade Hanging crossing over into Better than a Bare Bulb territory: Plenty of it. For instance, in one of the aforementioned Elseworld trips, Paige finds herself transported into a pastiche of The Nutcracker, then asks if anyone could imagine such a trick being attempted in a comic strip.
Also notice how many of the tropes listed here are shown to have lampshaded examples.
Lampshade Wearing: Parodied. Upon seeing that his parents are snoozing on the sofa on New Year's Eve, Jason prompts them to whoop it up. They do so by donning lampshades, then falling right back asleep.
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Andy and Roger did this back in 2006 during the final 6 daily strips; they sit at the table while casually discussing an article about a cartoonist announcing that he'll now only do Sunday strips instead of doing 7 a week, as he'd previously been doing.
Lethal Chef: Everybody. Paige's approach to cleaning turkey is sticking it in the oven and putting it on "clean", and she once used Diet Pepsi in making Christmas cookies because she couldn't find the baking soda; Roger has trouble with scrambled eggs; Peter has tried defrosting frozen orange juice with a frying pan; Jason has managed to set coffeeon fire somehow... Andy, meanwhile, is perfectly competent in the kitchen, although everybody hates the often vegetarian food she makes. ("She makes a mean, if not downright cruel, tofu casserole.") She does manage to get it right at least once:
Peter: Mm-mmm. Great pizza, Mom.
Andy: I'm glad you like it. Bet you can't even tell I made it with nonfat cheese, low-sodium tomato sauce, and meatless tofu pepperoni slices.
Actually, there have been instances that even Andy fit this trope to the letter, or at the very least wasn't quite as competent as she should be in the kitchen. One notable instance was during the Thanksgiving arc where her mom was coming over for Thanksgiving, and wanting to outdo her mom, she actually burned the entire Thanksgiving dinner.
The rule is usually that, as long as Andy is cooking real-people food you would expect people who don't hate themselves to tolerate, she's competent if not actually thrilling. When she's on one of her health-food kicks, sanity and skill go out the window. And the thing about burning the turkey when her mom came over was a whole other bag of issues.
Peter has been shown several times to be a perfectly competent cook as long as he's making food for himself and no one else.
Lipstick and Load Montage: Done in a Sunday strip that apparently shows Paige putting on her make-up getting ready to go out. The last panel reveals it to actually be a grounded Peter trying to sneak out of the house disguised as Paige.
Logic Bomb: In one strip, Paige asks both parents if Nicole can stay over, and each tells her to ask the other, with her concluding that it's okay for Nicole to come over. Jason got the same answers from asking both parents, but instead consulted logic books.
Long List: Peter, after discovering that all of his clothes smell like Paige's perfumes:
Peter: You want to explain why my jean jacket smells like Giorgio perfume?
Paige: Beats me.
Peter: Or why my red sweater smells like Coco? Or why my pink shirt smells like Opium? Or why my blue t-shirt smells like Liz Claiborne?
Paige: Peter, will you calm down?!
Peter: Or why my scarf smells like Obsession? Or why my sweats smell like Lauren? Or why my green windbreaker smells like Colors? Or why my favorite sweatshirt smells like... like...
Jason: White Linen? [beat] ...What? It was just a lucky guess. Really. Honest. Crud.
Also taken quite literally in a few strips, such as Jason writing his Christmas lists, Jason comically forgetting to specify essay length with several piles of presumed essay pages, and annual strips of Roger having several Tax-returns to fill out (with one even making a pun out of the 1040 form and his having 1,040 forms to fill out.).
Long Lost Uncle Aesop: Andy's unnamed mother, although appearing more than most examples of this trope, hasn't appeared in the strip since 1999.
Look Behind You: Paige managed to trick an ice cream vendor at the Zoo this way in order to distract him long enough to have her ice cream cone be given a huge amount of swirls. He says afterwards that she pulled the same trick on him the previous summer.
Peter combines this trope with Cut a Slice, Take the Rest and Exact Words in one strip. He tells Andy that he and Jason only had "one slice each" at the pizza parlor before dinner, which translated to one pizza cut in half (coincidentally, on a night when Andy happened to be making "curry loaf" for dinner). Afterwards, Peter tells Jason "The Book of Peter, verse 1: Know thy loopholes."
Paige does a similar one: her mother says she can only have one scoop of ice cream before dinner, so she jams a spoon into the ice cream tub and pulls out its entire contents as a single cylindrical "scoop."
"One scoop. You're my witness."
The above-mentioned ice-cream gag was also recycled in a later strip, except it used Jason and Halloween candy, and his tactics involved keeping his bag of Halloween candy next to the radiator so it would all fuse together into "one piece."
Another common gag has Peter getting permission to eat "the last" of some snack food item, and proceeding to eat through several boxes in order to get to the "last" one.
The kids buy Andy a Walkman, and while Andy is listening to it and is oblivious to what's going on around her...
Peter: Tell me if it's not okay for me to blow off homework tonight.
Paige:(pointing to catalog) Tell me if it's not okay for me to order this sweater on your credit card.
Jason: Tell me if it's not okay for me to eat this box of Ho-Ho's before dinner.
Jason tries it a lot, but doesn't always succeed, as when he argues that "just a sec" can also refer to a parsec. (He was playing a racing game.)
Jason: So far I've only driven 46 miles out of the 19.2 trillion you approved.
Loud of War: In one strip, Paige is annoyed at the sounds of Jason making sweet talk to Quincy in the next room, and eventually yells at him. The last panel shows that Jason has been using a megaphone pointed at her room the whole time.
Love Letter Lunacy: Peter (in one of his more Jerkass moments) leaves notes in Paige's locker, pretending to be a secret admirer.
In another series of strips, Jason writes his mother a particularly mushy Mother's Day note, hoping to butter her up before asking for a new computer. Unfortunately, he hides it in his math book, and both he and Eileen accidentally take each other's math books home...
There was a Sunday Strip where Jason and Roger's Valentine's Day cards got swapped by mistake. Andy ended up getting one with a bunch of juvenile Roses are Red, Violets are Blue variations ("Roses are red, daffodils gold; you might look better if you scraped off that mold."), with Roger beaming the whole time, unaware of the switch. The last panel shows Paige reading from the other Valentine, which is appropriately sappy ("Your kisses sweet, like angel's song"), as Jason mutters "Uh oh..." and we hear Roger shouting in pain in the background.
Making a Spectacle of Yourself: In one strip, Peter buys a pair of sunglasses with one square lens and one triangular one simply for the sake of having a pair that no one else will borrow.
Man Made House Flood: Roger once invoked this trope while filling in for Andy (see Walking Techbane). Jason and Marcus also did the same by stapling paper bats to the water heater.
Masochist's Meal: There are a number of strips involving Peter accepting dares to put a ridiculous amount of Tabasco sauce on his Mexican food (and suffering the consequences).
Medium Awareness: Occasionally the characters will refer to the fact that they're in a comic strip. Notably, the week-long arc caused by an ink outage.
The 20th anniversary strip from 2008 combined medium awareness with a lampshading of Comic Book Time. Roger spends most of the strip trying to convince Andy that a 20th anniversary means they're still young, especially compared to other cartoon families like the Bumsteads and Pattersons who've been around a lot longer. In the last panel, a balding Jason comes in complaining that Paige stole his hairpiece.
Merchandise Driven: Parodied in one arc in which Jason creates a comic strip for his school newspaper (which is never shown on screen, and eventually gets pulled due to censorship)
Jason: Feast your eyes on the world's next multi-bijillonaire!
Jason: My school is starting a monthly newspaper and I volunteered to do a comic strip.
Andy: Jason, "volunteering" means you're doing it for free.
Jason: I'm only doing the strip for free.
Andy: Well, what else is there?
Jason: A little thing called 'merchandising'. Ever hear of Garfield?
Andy: You know, just for once I'd like to be able to attend a PDA meeting...
Monkeys on a Typewriter: Peter reasons that, if monkeys can randomly write Hamlet, surely he can use a random number generator to write a book report about Hamlet. When Paige laughs at the gibberish on one page, Peter comments that was his attempt at the essay.
Moral Myopia: Denise does not find violence an acceptable way to solve problems... except when someone has insulted her.
Mouthful of Pi: Paige is doing a geometry problem and asks jason what pi is. Jason starts reciting. The last panel shows him still reciting at dinner time, with Paige asking Andy how it's her fault.
Another strip has Jason and Marcus playing football, being unable to hike the ball since they decided to hike it on pi.
Mundane Ghost Story: Jason does to this Paige. After his conventional ghost stories fail to scare her, he tells her one that ends with "...and when she opened the closet, all the clothes were polyester!".
Mushroom Samba: One story arc has Andy taking decongestants, and the side effects are comparable to those of hallucinogenic drugs. One of the kids offscreen asks Andy if she could take out the Pink Floyd out of the music player, and Andy wonders who wrote squiggly lines on her hand.
Must Have Caffeine: Roger seems incapable of getting through a day without coffee, considering the man attempted to drink the answering machine one morning. Andy occasionally suffers from the same problem, and Peter consumes ludicrous amounts of caffeine when studying.
My Sister Is Off Limits: In one week of strips, Peter is not happy when Paige says that Peter's best friend Steve is cute.
There is precisely one character in the strip who has aged. Katie O'Dell, the little girl Paige babysits, was six months old in her first appearance, but later aged up to two years and froze there.
Not Listening to Me, Are You?: One strip had Peter make all sorts of strange statements, which Roger basically ignores giving the "yeah", "uh-huh", and "that's nice" responses because he's reading the paper... right up until he says he's staying an hour past curfew, and he promptly shoots down his request. Peter comments that one day he's going to get past his dad's filter. Meanwhile, Jason is telling Roger his intent to change his name to a semicolon, with the same initial responses.
Obnoxious In-Laws: Inverted: Andy herself dreads her mother's visits because the whole family absolutely adores her mother, and Andy feels pushed to the sides.
Old Shame: An in-universe example would be Roger hiding his college diploma in the attic, because his name was spelled Orger Fox on it.
One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In one strip Andy asked Roger what he thought of her new haircut. Roger thought she was asking about the new brand of beer he was drinking and replied that it didn't have much body and he hoped she hadn't paid a lot of money for it. He then wondered why she ran off crying.
The 1990 story where Jason tries to fix Paige's sweater after Quincy chews on it. Usually, he tells Quincy "good boy" when he does that.
In one arc, Paige actually attends a Halloween party held by Morton, because she doesn't want to be rude.
Also, in another arc (conveniently one of the last daily strip arcs), Jason was apparently falling behind his studies because of his playing video games. The fact that he even has to take finals is itself out of character as Jason is actually more likely to not have any finals (usually taking them way back in September). Never mind the fact that he's usually portrayed as being so smart that he doesn't need to study.
Jason downloading a swimsuit calendar and happily noting how big Miss October's "hooters" are. Normally, Jason's attitude is that Girls Have Cooties regardless of whether said girls are his peers, teenagers, or adults. A similar Out-of-Character Moment also had Jason attempting to make a snowman modelled after Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, despite his earlier fear of her for being a girl.
Paranoia Gambit: Being the target of a "Jason Vow of Vengeance" causes Peter to completely freak out and spend the day subjecting himself to ever-nastier hiding places (winding up grounded in the process). That is Jason's vengeance.
Patriotic Fervor: In a parody of the "freedom fries" debacle, Paige insists on her French homework being called "Freedom homework."
Picture Day: A frequent source of humor. One of the best has Peter ending up with his face covered in mud while retrieving his trademark baseball cap, so that he can have it on for his picture.
Pie in the Face: Paige threatens to do this to Peter for insulting her pies.
The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: References to Andy's job as a newspaper columnist were gradually dropped over time. Several mid-1990s strips reference her work without actually showing her working. Possibly lampshaded when she spends an entire arc after the kids go back to school in September unable to motivate herself to write, only to spring into action once Roger asks if she wants to play chess.
Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: A variation with salt in milk, between Jason and Peter with multiple switches and some alleged fake switches, culminating in the line "We're trying to figure out which of us should be throwing up right now." Turned out Paige had somehow gotten the salt.
Precision F-Strike: Peter, when Jason vows vengeance on him for breaking a model. Peter's response? "Crap." Counts, as it's one of the few times that sort of response is used.
Played with another time, where Andy chastised Jason for using the word "crap." After he said "but it's a dice game," Andy told him "that's craps." His response fell into Loophole Abuse territory: "Craps. The stupid Simpsons is a rerun."
Product Promotion Parade: Spoofed when Jason drew a Slug-Man comic strip where every panel was an advertisement for a Slug-Man vehicle, toy, or play set.
Another strip has Jason playing with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys in front of Andy, having them complain about how they have nothing to do, and they would have lots to do if they had the various accessories.
Put Off Their Food: A strip where Jason ties the ends of his spaghetti noodles together so he can eat them all in one long, unending slurp ends with Andy adding spaghetti to the list of things she can no longer make for dinner.
Another time, Paige had just dissected a frog in Bio class and she thought it was really cool. She tells her family about the intestines and they stare in horror at the spaghetti they're eating.
Quote Mine: One strip had Jason recording Paige talking on the phone: "Mr. Vivona says we have to cut three articles from a newspaper for social studies class every day this week, and the only pair of scissors I have are totally dull." He then gets on the computer and edits it so she's saying "I cut social studies class every day this week. Mr. Vivona is totally dull."
Rain Dance: Jason and Marcus do a snow dance. Paige joins them in the hope that school might be canceled if it works.
Rank Inflation: Jason's report card usually consists of A+++ grades or higher.
Which leads to some Fridge Logic: Jason's specialty is math and science. He just happens to be an expert in all his other subjects as well? That goes against the strips with him in P.E. class...
Reality Ensues: Peter gets in trouble for punching a student who insulted Denise's blindness.
Reality Is Unrealistic: In-universe: Jason finds the taste of real watermelon strange because it doesn't taste like his watermelon gum.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Averted. Roger plans on giving one to Pembrook calling him out on how he's taking a raise instead of a pay cut while people lose their jobs, but he never does anything beyond rehearsing it.
Recruiters Always Lie: Averted. Peter tells how a Marine recruiter adressed his class and told them all about the early morning starts, the gruelling physical training, etc. Paige asks how that was supposed to entice people to enlist. Peter responds that the recruiter had then held up a college algebra text for comparison.
Retconning The Wiki: In a great show of self-fulfilling prophecy, the comic strip mentions Jason vandalizing the Wikipedia article for "Warthog" by replacing the image with a picture of his sister Paige. This prompted some FoxTrot readers to go onto Wikipedia and replace the image with a picture of Paige.
Revenge: For the entire run of the strip, Jason's favorite weapon while antagonizing Paige has been a suction-dart gun. In a 2012 strip, however, Paige got even and then some. When he tried it, she quickly pulled out a bow with suction-tipped arrows, and he ran screaming. In the last panel, Jason told Peter, "I don't like the effect The Hunger Games has had on our sister."
Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Although it was always a gag-a-day strip, FoxTrot was more realistic in the earlier years and had the occasional Very Special Episode-type plot and overreaching story arcs that sometimes lasted as long as two months, counting the Sunday strips. More serious subjects were often present, such as Paige and Jason finding a hypodermic needle on the beach, Peter trying to quit chewing tobacco, et cetera. In the late '90s, the humor style became more off-the-wall and any trace of seriousness disappeared, with occasional exceptions such as the strips which followed 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
Reverse Psychology Backfire: Used often. For instance, in one strip, Jason begs Andy not to buy a new computer and she doesn't. In another, Andy "supports" Roger's decision to quit his job, and he goes with it instead of seeing the reverse psychology.
Rhetorical Question Blunder: Andy asks Roger if he's going to quit his job out of his guilt over not being there when Jason was injured. Roger says "Now there's a thought." For extra points, he actually does it.
Their parents aren't any better. Roger wrote his entire senior thesis in one night, and Andy put off sending Christmas cards so long that when she finally got around to it the family photo showed Jason in diapers.
Right on Queue: A Sunday strip had the majority of the strip devoted to a ridiculously long airline check-in queue, with the final panel having Andy remark that she thinks she has forgotten the tickets.
Ring Ring CRUNCH: Peter does it in a Sunday strip when the alarm clock interrupts a dream about making out with swimsuit models.
Rise of Zitboy: Paige panics over zits often enough. There was once a week long story of her trying to cover one up by wearing antlers to match her "red nose".
Road Sign Reversal: Jason and Marcus strike out into the wilds of suburbia in search of adventure (wearing pith helmets, no less). Along their way they encounter the streets of "Maple" and "Oak;" Maple Street is lined with oak trees and Oak Street is lined with maples. Helpfully, they decide to switch the street signs around to correct the error, but wind up attracting the attention of the police in the process.
This is obviously impossible to do, but still hilarious.
Run For The Border: Some of the strips, most notably the one where Jason learned that copyrighting the I-Don't-Like-You-Eileen-Jacobson Computer Virus, had this when he asked how long it would take to skateboard to Mexico.
Also a rare domestic example in the Roger Housesitting arc where, after flooding the house (namely due to incompetence on Roger's part involving the Dishwasher), and turning it into a swamp as a result of trying to drain the water, he mentions that they need to flee the border before Andy gets home.
Rushed Inverted Reading: Peter and Steve are discussing a fight Peter had gotten into when the principal appears behind them. Peter hurriedly pretends to be talking about an algebra problem but is holding his textbook upside down.
Dr. Ting is usually more of a Stern Teacher. He's moody, but he always tries to be fair. A more straightforward example of this trope is Paige's unseen math teacher, who seems to enjoy trying to psyche out his students. He once dressed up as the Grim Reaper for a math final, and he makes math test where the students are being asked to calculate how many percents of a student body that will flunk a given math test.
Then again, Dr. Ting once showed disappointment that Paige's lab reports were improving, claiming they were a source of entertainment for him.
Saw Star Wars 27 Times: In one story arc, Andy sees Titanic and gets addicted to it, seeing it again way too many times and practically lets it take over her life. Roger gets concerned once she says that she went all the way to the multiplex just to watch it twice in a row.
Another strip actually did it with Star Wars. Peter is working at a movie theater when The Phantom Menace comes out. A patron in a costume asks him for tickets. Peter asks him which showing, and names off the times, and the patron asks for one for each showing.
Another strip has Jason camping out (on his computer server) to get tickets to see Attack of the Clones.
Jason: Guess who has eight tickets to see Star Wars?
Paige: Who's going with you?
Jason: My friend, Marcus.
Paige: I'm confused.
Jason: Guess who has tickets to four consecutive showings of Star Wars?
Saw It In A Movie Once: After Jason and Paige spill cola into Andy's computer, she urges him to fix it. He says he remembers seeing MacGyver do something similar. They need to pry the computer open, clean it out... and then hook it up to bicycle. Or maybe it was a minivan.
Scare 'Em Straight: Something of an after-the-fact reinforcement. Paige and Nicole debate about stealing a music CD, and even put it in Paige's purse. They reconsider, and put it back. Upon leaving the store, a mall cop stops them and tells them that he saw them put it back, and was really glad. Especially since he also saw them put it in the purse. The two girls nearly have heart attacks at how close they came to being arrested.
Sdrawkcab Alias: At one point, Jason meets someone on Warquest named "Sgt. Neelie." It's Eileen Jacobson.
See-Thru Specs: Played with in one strip where Jason orders X-ray glasses from a comic book and uses them in front of Peter to say that he can see Paige's leopard print underwear (which she isn't actually wearing):
Peter: Those things don't really work, do they?
Jason: I think they work pretty well.
To clarify, he annoyed her into protesting, loudly, that she wasn't wearing leopard print underwear—and Andy, overhearing this, assumed that Paige had something to hide.
A few comics have featured background portraits with characters from other cartoons, such as Calvin And Hobbes, Dilbert, etc.
Various Peanuts characters, including Charlie Brown, Linus, Lucy, and Snoopy, have actually made cameo appearances in the strip.
One particular one has Jason and Marcus creating an identical snow sculpture of a snowman with a hole in his chest and a cannon right next to it to one in a Calvin And Hobbes strip - then creating sculptures of Calvin and Hobbes goofing around with the cannonball. "See, this way it's an homage, not a ripoff."
There were also several references to several movies and TV shows in FoxTrot, namely The Matrix and Star Wars. In one strip, Jason also started paraphrasing Frasier Crane on Frasier (namely something about Le Fou Cheval restaurant switching to an all-domestic cheese list all while he is hosting a soiree at the restaurant to impress the membership chair of the chamber music board).
One strip has Jason and Marcus acting out the famous 'quarter pounder' exchange from Pulp Fiction.
The 'quarter pounder' exchange was later referenced in another strip in an arc involving Jason attempting to take over Michael Eisner's position as CEO. Andy claims that Jason isn't even old enough to see some Disney films, with Peter thinking that he'll have them tamed down. Cut to Timon and Pumbaa, in the roles of Vincent Vega and Jules Winnefeld, respectively, holding guns with Timon stating "You know what they call a Water Buffalo with Cheese in the Pridelands?" and Pumbaa, who even went as far as to wear Winnefeld's afro, replying "They don't call it a Water Buffalo with Cheese?".
In one of the latest strips, part of it is in a first-person perspective with an Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device. The person asks Paige, who is sitting at the computer, if they can get on to play Portal 2. She promptly tells the person to go away. A portal is shot above and below her as she then falls through. It then goes into a third-person perspective as you see Jason pointing a poorly made portal gun at Paige.
In one strip Paige and Peter sport heads as swollen as Mr. Creosote's belly after cramming for math tests, with Jason offering them a "waffer theen" math formula.
In another, Jason drew a flip-book of his sister being crushed by a 16 ton weight.
Jason and Marcus once used toy soldiers to re-enact a scene from Saving Private Ryan (specifically the rallying scene to rescue him, although the beginning of the strip was a direct reference to when Miller first learns of his orders to retrieve Private Ryan). Jason's version either dealt with retrieving Ryan from a grill after he ended up melting before Roger used the grill.
Shown Their Work: Any gag revolving around physical equations is bound to include a real equation, as Amend was a physics major. Gags about computer programming often involve accurate programming code, such as a gag where Roger asks for "java" and is given sheets with Java code on them.
A beautiful example was the time Jason correctly calculated the area of a rectangle by evaluating an integral.
Jason tried to use accurate C++ code to get out of Writing Lines on the chalkboard at least twice; once by making the program to print the lines out and tape them up, and again by writing the code directly on the board. Neither attempt worked.
Singing in the Shower: One strip had Roger singing "Burning Love" in the shower, and an annoyed Andy meaningfully tells one of the kids about the valve marked "cold water shutoff."
Something similar happened in another strip, this time with Roger singing "Love Machine." Jason ends up exacting revenge by pulling up the answering machine all the way up the stairs (which was also partially Roger's fault, as Jason pointed out that Roger was the one who decided to buy the model that had a cord long enough to reach the shower) while recording the new voice messaging system, and then having Roger unknowingly sing the song while showering, with it going on without Roger noticing for at least two weeks, if not more.
Another strip has Peter singing "Heartbreak Hotel", with the rest of the family gathering outside the door to complain:
Sleep Cute: Parodied in a 1989 strip (and an obvious non-shipping example): During a long plane trip, Paige falls asleep on Jason's head. Luckily, this quickly stirs the both of them awake and causes them to scream in terror.
Smart People Know Latin: Jason says that his new year's resolution is to speak entirely in Latin. He recites common-knowledge Latin phrases such as "a priori" and "quid pro quo", just to annoy Paige.
Smart People Play Chess: Inverted, as clueless dad Roger is the only one in the family that enjoys chess. Jason, the smartest of the family, only plays when Roger ropes him into a game and wins in three moves.
Snipe Hunt: Paige and Peter try this on Jason, though he's Genre Savvy enough to see through it, but still agrees to do it, with enthusiasm: "Cool. Can we wait until it gets a little darker out?"
Another incident has Jason refusing to go along with it...and then teaming up with Peter to try it on their dad.
Snowball Fight: One mini-arc had Roger agreeing to one with Jason, and apparently coming back with brain damage:
Andy: How was the snowball fight?
Roger: Snowball fight?
Andy: The one you just had out back?
Roger: Out back?
Andy: With Jason?
Roger: With Jason?
Andy: Roger, how many fingers am I holding up?
Roger: Holding up?
In another strip, Roger ends up returns home from work only to be pelted by the kids with enough snowballs to transform him into a snowman, with Andy misconstruing it as the kids stealing Roger's favorite hat and putting it on one of their Snowmen.
In another strip, despite the forecast predicting light flurries, Jason managed to garner enough snow to pelt Roger with snow when he returned home, leading the latter to think they had heavier flurries than predicted.
Snowlems: Or snow dinosaurs in this case. In one strip Jason and Marcus make a demonic snowlem based on Paige.
Solar Powered Magnifying Glass: One strip has Jason seemingly roasting ticks with a magnifying glass and them eating them to gross Paige out. It turns out they were really just raisins.
Solomon Divorce: Often threatened by Andy and used as a way to get out of camping (either far away, or in one case, camping in the backyard).
Spanner in the Works: Jason finds it impossible to beat one guardian monster in a video game, as it instantly squashes his character every time he tries. Paige, who almost never plays video games, takes the controller and gets by the guardian by simply walking around him.
It was even parodied in one strip where Paige cuts ping-pong balls in half and puts them over her eyes to give the impression that she's not falling asleep in class.
Spit Take: Roger does one in an early strip. While Andy makes a cake for Quincy's birthday party (yes, Quincy's), Roger asks how you make a cake for an iguana, while licking some batter off his finger:
Andy: I threw some mealworms in the batter.
Andy: I was kidding!
Spoiled Brat: Jason is likely the only child in existence who thinks it's is a good thing to be this. In one strip, he tells Andy that since the Bible says "Spare the rod, spoil the child", and that she and Roger have never spanked him with a rod, they should spoil him more than they have, at which point he starts asking for more allowance and privledges. Andy's response: "Maybe I've just been saving the rod for the right time." It shut him up.
Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Jason became this - most of his appearances in the later strip(s) before it went sunday-only was were merely to show off Amend's knowledge of physics and computer code.
Spy Fiction: Roger attempts to write a novel. The novel he chose was a James Bond expy. It is as bad as one would expect.
Spy Speak: To thwart Jason and Marcus' eavesdropping, Peter and Denise engage in this. "The red flag flaps not at night." "In Paris, the cafés are many."
Stab The Salad: One Sunday strip set things up like a scene from a horror movie, making it look like someone was being stabbed to death. It turned out to be Roger doing a poor job of slicing up a turkey.
Something similar happens later on: One strip sets up an apocalyptic event that causes all the mass of the Earth to be focused on a certain point (specifically Midwestern United States), causing the Earth to wobble around trajectory and then end up colliding with the moon before the narrator asks what could have destroyed Earth. It then cuts to Peter having his 38th slice of turkey, to which Peter makes very clear that he isn't even close to being finished with Thanksgiving Dinner, to Andy's disgust, while Jason muses about how this event would surpass even Independence Day as being fodder for a movie.
Stag Party: Roger mentioned one in one strip, where he went to the Playboy Mansion without Andy's knowledge for his bachelor's party.
Stealth Pun: The characters occasionally make reference to watching Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity on TV. It takes a while to realize the joke — The Fox family is watching Fox News!
Step Three: Profit: Roger falls for a get-rich-quick scheme in an infomercial. He pays $200 for a pamphlet supposedly containing information on how to become a millionaire, but it amounts to telling him to invent a product, sell it for $200 and sucker 5,000 people into buying it.
Sticky Situation: A week long story featured Paige and Jason having their faces glued together by experimental bubblegum.
Stylistic Suck: The aforementioned "His Code Name Was the Fox" story. One week of strips consists of hiliariously-bad quotes and over-the-top scenes, plus his wife's reaction to the same (for instance, a Big "NO!" when the character is faced with a Wire Dilemma involving 173 wires and cuts the right one). It's even funnier when one realizes that his wife is (ostensibly) a professional writer.
Subliminal Advertising: Played with in one comic where Jason's selling flip books for $25 each and somehow gets Paige and Peter to buy them because of one of the frames in the book saying "Buy me."
In Jason's Slug-Man comics, the titular character's recurring nemesis "Paige-O-Tron." Also, in "The Final Confrontation 3", at the end of the en masse anthology, a thief being electrocuted in the background by the Slug-Mobile's security system is wearing a purple and white hat with an A on it, just like Peter.
Jason also drew a week's worth of standalone strips attacking Paige. She countered by drawing a week's worth that attacked him, mostly recycling the same gags.
After deciding that he wanted to become Gary Larson's successor for The Far Side, Jason drew a week's worth of Far Side strips, all of which also attacked Paige (also lampshading The Far Side's obsession with cows).
And there are plenty more where these came from. In General, any time Jason ever works on any sort of creative work for any reason, an avatar of Paige will be a villain, victim, and/or monster.
Paige herself has done this. In one notable arc, she writes a horror story that culminates in Jason being decapitated by axe-wielding ghosts. In another, he's depicted as an ugly troll who gets eaten by wild boars.
In the How The Grinch Stole Christmas parody, Jason actually changes things up a bit: Paige is portrayed in a basically positive manner, and Andy is made into the villain. The idea seems to be that Jason was too upset and preoccupied over the terrible presents Andy got everyone to bother with Paige, his usual target of choice.
Amend himself has used the strip as a Take That on the entire newspaper comic industry. In one story, Roger is forced to confront the fact that the comic strip he loved as a kid, Captain Goofball, has lost all its appeal over the years, and is no longer funny. It's basically the author's way of commenting on the way that there are so many comics in the newspapers these days which were once funny, once had a lot of appeal, but are now tired and boring.
He made another Take That to the medium itself, specifically how some newspapers run comic strips extremely small so that they can cram as many as possible onto the page:
Andy: This says a cartoonist in Mississippi got a group of school kids together to help him make the world's largest comic strip. It was 135×47 feet. (beat) 6×2 inches probably would've been big enough.
Amend, being a Mac user and supporter, as done numerous Take Thats to Microsoft and Bill Gates over the years.
Amend also has a few favorite pop cultural targets, most notably Richard Simmons, 'N Sync, and Survivor.
In one strip, Jason is working on creating an animated film called Finding Hemo. When Peter calls him out for doing "a total ripoff of Pixar", Jason asks what's wrong with that and Peter replies, "That's Dream Works' turf."
The Talk: Andy and Paige go through this while the male members of the family were out on a Horrible Camping Trip.
Paige: Mother, please we talked about all this three years ago.
Andy: That was just the basic overview. We're ready for the Birds and the Bees Lesson #2.
Paige: I do watch network television, you know.
Andy: ...Good point. We'd better skip to Lesson #40.
Afterwards, Andy points out how she didn't enjoy having the talk with her mother either and swore that she would never make her teenage daughter sit through it. What changed her mind? She now has a teenage daughter.
Subverted in one week-long arc where Peter actually tries to read Moby-Dick and write a report on it the morning before school on the day it's due. Andy tells Roger she wishes he'd stop having talks with him. Apparently, Roger once told him how he wrote his entire college thesis in one night.
Talking In Your Sleep: Roger ends up doing this when he's having a dream where Andy gives him a huge amount of fattening food (22 ounce steak with both Bearnaise sauce and Hollandaise, a fully loaded baked potato, corn on the cob that's dripping with butter, deep-fried onion rings with extra salt, a big slab of barbecued ribs, and having the entire pecan pie for desert). Even worse, the entire family hears him mumbling the dream with his face in the tofu slaw, causing Jason to speculate that Roger falls asleep during dinner on purpose.
Andy(head in her hands): Is there something I should know about?
Jason: The CIA's computers are public property! Am I wrong?!
(the doorbell rings)
Technology Marches On: The earliest strips (before the iFruit) showed the family using early Apple computers and Roger admitting he had absolutely no idea how to use a computer, period, and ignoring it when one was actually added into his office. Nowadays, people will probably view that as Too Dumb to Live, but in the 80s, that's not as stupid as you might think - some middle-aged people in the 80s never actually did use home computers, and not all industries pretty much required them. This was before Roger came from Bumbling Dad to flat out Too Dumb to Live.
Also played straight in a January 1993 strip where Jason dreams that he found a Macintosh Quadra 950 with 64 megabytes of RAM and 230-megabyte hard drive as a Christmas present he forgot to open.
That Came Out Wrong: Paige, rehearsing for a play: "My defecation does begin to make a better life. 'Tis paltry to be Caesar... Oops, I mean 'desolation.'"
Her cheerleading stint. "Send 'em home losers in their loser pus!... I mean, bus."
Also the part where Paige, when complaining to her biology teacher about her textbook, stated that it "should have more intelligent design", causing her teacher to tell her to sit down.
Said in those exact words by Roger Fox when, while telling Andy off for having Jason play Video Games all week so he would miss specials about the Super Bowl before Super Bowl Sunday, basically calls football his one true love of his life.
And again when he said that he was only using a plastic surgery software on a picture of her for fun: "I don't want some drop-dead gorgeous, hot-bodied wife!... (beat) ...I'm not helping myself, am I?"
In one strip, Peter is complaining about being stuck on the bench for all of baseball season. Andy, trying to console him, says "Peter, Nothing is ever a sure thing. Sometimes life throws us curveballs." His response? "This isn't helping, Mom."
That One Boss: In-universe example. One story arc has Jason stuck on a boss in a video game he's been trying to get past for a month. Paige ends up getting past the boss by simply walking past it.
There Are No Girls on the Internet: Peter found a girl who claimed to be a supermodel with the same interests as his, and assumed it to his brother, playing a prank. Cut to the model's apartment, as Peter types "and after I beat you to a pulp..." The model, with framed covers behind her, is calling the police.
Title Drop: Inverted; as with many Newspaper Comics, most of the anthologies are named after throwaway lines of dialogue contained therein.
Tomato in the Mirror: When Andy was once doped up on allergy medication, she was calling Roger with news that she was getting over her doped up state. The final panel then has Peter trying to yell to Andy offscreen that Jason's setting the fence on fire, to which Andy responds by hushing Peter and telling him that she's talking with his mother.
Tongue on the Flagpole: Peter gets his tongue stuck to a flagpole off-screen. Jason tells Andy to get the camera instead so he can upload it to YouTube.
Too Dumb to Live: Jason and Marcus are "book smart", but seem to have no common sense at all. Jason's repeated attempts to antagnoze his sister often result in a Curb-Stomp Battle (with him on the curb) and his get-rich-quick schemes always end with him worse off. (Andy once said that his stunts currently have his allowance being withheld until his freshman year in college.) Marcus doesn't seem to suffer much retribution for what they do because he doesn't live in the same house, but seeing as he has five older sisters, you never know...
Tooth Strip: Parodied. Roger tries a whitening toothpaste which erases all the lines between his teeth.
Totally Radical: Usually averted. The cartoonist usually tries to keep the pop culture references and slang current, though there are sometimes lags due to the publishing schedule, and the translation is sometimes imperfect. When the comic did a strip referencing "All your base are belong to us," some fans on the Internet griped that the fad had passed a few months ago and that Jason didn't say the phrase exactly right.
This trope was once lampshaded in a Painting The Medium manner in one cartoon where Jason tells Peter that he read an article that a cartoonist has been chronically late with his submissions, so he was threatened with various fines if he continued to be late. Peter then questions how long this cartoonist has been late, to which Jason states that the article doesn't mention how long. Then Paige walks in and asks "Hey guys, did you hear about Watergate?"
TV Genius: Jason all the way. He's smart enough to write a computer virus that destroyed the Internet, but he does incredibly stupid things like try to convince the dentist to leave the X-ray machine on to give him super powers.
Denise's father does this to Peter when he arrives to take her out for their first date.
Peter, himself, did this justifiably, it turned out to one of Paige's prom dates.
Tyrant Takes The Helm: One early arc had Roger and Andy leaving Peter in charge while they went on vacation for a few days. Peter immediately goes Drunk with Power, ordering Paige and Jason to do everything he wanted — and when they rebelled, he locked both of them in the basement. Unfortunately for him, their parents returned sooner than he expected...
Ultimate Job Security: You'd think Mrs. O'Dell would know better than to hire Paige as a babysitter by now, but the worst punishment Paige receives is having to pay for Katie's outfit, which she destroyed using scissors.
Ultra Super Happy Cute Baby Fest Farmer 3000: Andy joined a group called MAGG (Mothers Against Gory Games) and vowing to only allow MAGG approved games in their house. The storyline revolved around Peter playing a game called "Nice City" and later complained about the other games Andy had given him, which included "Pacifist Man", "Resident Good" and "Eternal Lightness." It's also hinted in the ending that she only joined up with them in order to have an excuse to get the kids off video games.
Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Jason comes up with a quiz show called I Want to Be a Millionaire, which he talks his dad into playing. He starts off by switching to math questions after Roger says that he was an English major, and the first question is "What is the 8,346th digit of pi?" The trick being that every time Roger gets a question wrong, he has to pay Jason that amount.
Unfortunate Implications: In-universe, Roger tells Andy about Jason's ambitious project about creating a robot that can obey his every command (including his chores and annoying his sister, among other things), and also told Andy that he suggested to Jason that "if he added in some lipstick, [Jason]'d have the perfect wife." to Andy's face as she scowls upon hearing this. She doesn't take it well.
Similarly, in the arc where Paige got her pet fish, she had to put the Angelfish and guppies into separate pots and pans while she removes the water from the tank (It Makes Sense in Context) and puts it on the stove. Roger, walking into the kitchen, sees the fish in the pots and pans and, due to not knowing beforehand about Paige's fish, as well as Andy's allusion to dinner being a surprise, assumes with a Squicked expression that their dinner is eating fish live.
Another in-universe example is where Roger returns from the store and buys hygeine products for his family. He gives Paige a huge container of pimple cream (he went to a warehouse club to get them), causing Paige to react with emotional distress at the unintended implication that she was extremely prone to breaking out with acne, causing Andy to inform him never to buy hygene products from the club ever again. He didn't take the clue, as he also gives her anti-graying formula that's of a similar size, although we never see Andy's reaction. It's actually easier to list the in-universe ones than the YMMV ones in this strip.
Also, Roger mentions to Peter that he loves spring weather and reminisces that he and his friends often went in the noontime to relax near the lake. Peter then asks if that meant that Roger skipped his classes, with Roger being rendered speechless. It then cuts to Peter mentioning that Roger told him (in what was implied to be saving face for his earlier implication) that in Roger's day, good weather was on weekends.
Unsound Effect: "Crank" and "uncrank" to indicate a thermostat being turned up, then down, the latter perhaps a more egregious example than the former.
After he gets what Paige is saying, Jason muses, "So you're not supposed to attack the unstoppable killing machine of death? How counterintuitive."
Viewers Are Geniuses: This strip is a treasure trove of nerd humor, to the point that they collected an entire book of such jokes titled Math, Science, and Unix Underpants.
The Voice: The strip has a few, including Miss Grinchley (Jason's original teacher) and Denise's parents.
Miss Grinchley had one, and only one, physical appearance.
Walking Techbane: Roger has proven completely incapable of operating a computer since the strip's first year. This is a man who once got completely wrapped up in dot-matrix printer paper; who crushed 3½ inch diskettes trying to put them in; who thought "backing up the computer" meant pushing it off the desk. He has destroyed various other forms of electronic equipment as well, and even managed to flood the house using the dishwasher.
Other than Roger, there was also one other instance where a character ended up ruining important equipment: When Jason was ordering tickets for Attack of the Clones, Jason and Marcus had to wait a long time (to the extent that Jason even had to use a lawn chair to wait out the loading time, and communicate with Marcus via the computer). Eventually, he did get the tickets, and speculated that the reason for the insanely long amount of time it took to download the tickets was because the theater's server was swamped. Jason was right, but not in the way he would have thought, as it immediately cut to the sink with a computer server in the sink with running water, with the head of the theater shouting to Johnston "I asked for you to wash the butter server!", thus meaning that the server was literally "swamped."
Denise gives one to Peter after he punches someone, saying that he shouldn't think violence is an acceptable solution to problems. Subverted when he mentions that his victim had insulted her, and she says "And you JUST punched him in the nose?"
Andy gives one to Jason and Paige for not coming forward about breaking the computer when she punished their father.
Jason gets one from his own reflection while looking himself in the mirror, with his reflection telling him that his money will do more good helping hurricane victims than buying comics.
Wheel o' Feet: Parodied in one strip where Jason ties a pair of wheels with a spiral design around his waist and stomps on bottles of dry ice during gym class so that he appears to be running faster than he is.
Where The Hell Is Springfield: There is evidence that the Fox family lives in a town called Hillsdale (such as a Hillsdale Mall in a 1988 strip, the letter H on the high school team's uniforms), but beyond a street address in the first strip, no real specifics have been given for their place of residence.
Also, since the "A" on Peter's hat is a direct reference to Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the confusion is only greater. The same college's iconic chapel frequently appears in the background during Roger's college reunions, leading to a nice Shout Out.
Several hints dropped seem to indicate they live in the Chicago area, such as Andy going to, and returning from, a Chicago Bulls game in the same night. Also, Roger mentioned he was born in Chicago at one point.
The cartoonist often jumbles around their location to confuse the readers. An example is one strip where Jason states that "the [Comic-Con] in San Diego is too far away" but a strip the next year has him getting ready to go to Comic-Con as though he lives there.
In one strip, Jason celebrates the new year at 8 am, remarking that's "it's midnight in New Guinea". This would place the Fox family in the Mountain Time Zone.
Marcus: The ones standing in a circle singing that "Fahoo" song!
Jason: They're Who.
Marcus: What are you asking me for?!
Jason: Abbott and Costello meet the Grinch.
Who Would Be Stupid Enough: Jason asked every member of his family if they wanted to have a snowball fight with him. They each reply "Do I look like an idiot?"... until he gets to Roger, who says "Let me get my coat" before Jason can even finish the question.
William Telling: Roger asks Jason what sport he has taken up and Jason tells him to put an apple on his head and he'll demonstrate. Roger, wisely, flees.
Inverted in one strip where Jason has an arrow tied to his head, and Marcus tries to shoot apples through a bow at it. He says that way, they're only being kinda stupid.
Women Are Wiser: Andy, although she's frequently Not so Above It All. In fact, this eventually Flanderized to the point where she's just about as insane as the rest of the family and only thinks she's the sensible one. (And very much averted with Paige.)
Also occurs in a 1990 strip where, even after Peter places an ad in the school paper, Paige is unable to find a date for her or Nicole. A set of twins finally says yes to both of them, but Paige rescinds their offer even after spending most of the past two weeks' worth of strips complaining about her inability to find a date. Apparently, this resistance was because they insist on having someone ask them out instead of the other way around.
Or because the twins were totally dorky. We never actually see them, but their response to being asked out was "Golly, gosh dang, gee whiz, yes!"
Worst News Judgment Ever: Andy is watching the OJ Simpson trials. Suddenly, breaking news: aliens have landed and are now addressing the UN! Amazing! Now back to the OJ Simpson trials.
Yet Another Christmas Carol: A two-week storyline has Jason having a dream involving the cast as the characters of A Christmas Carol (thanks to Andy's garlic, green pepper and tofu chili, 'the meal of a thousand nightmares'). Paige is Christmas Past, and shows him how happy she was before he came along; Peter was Christmas Present and, after making the standard "Present/Presents" mistake, eats the mountain of food; Quincy is Christmas Yet To Come, and shows Jason his grave (which freaks him out, since he died the day before The Phantom Menace came out.
You Are Grounded: Happens several times to Peter. In fact, in one series, Andy grounded him for seeing Kill Bill 2, then grounded him for another week after figuring out he saw the first Kill Bill movie the year before. Andy eventually had released Peter from being grounded, although only because trying to ground him for two weeks actually proved to be cruel and unusual torture for the rest of the family.
You Do NOT Want to Know: This is Roger's answer when Andy asks just how zoned out she was with her allergy medication's side effects. It's also shown to send her into a Mushroom Samba (one of the kids offscreen asks Andy if she could take the Pink Floyd out of the music player, and Andy wonders who wrote squiggly lines on her hand).
You Make Me Sic: Done frequently by Andy. She tries to justify it by being an English major who appreciates the value of the language, but judging from Peter's response of "You're coming through real clear", it doesn't work.
Roger, of all people, chews out a co-worker for turning in a typo-filled paper. Said co-worker blames it on his computer's lack of a spell checker.
Worth mentioning is that this isn't Roger complaining about a few misspelled words- the co-worker had the spelling skills of a three year old. Even the simplest words are mangled, the punchline being that computerized spellchecking was so commonplace that the co-worker believed the lack of it was a perfectly acceptable excuse for the abysmal quality.
Your Mom: In one strip, Jason and Marcus exchange "your momma" lines as a means of trash-talking before a test. This exchange led to the title of one of the compilations, Your Momma Thinks Square Roots Are Vegetables.