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El Goonish Shive: Tropes A to E
Tropes A-E | Tropes F to L | Tropes M to R | Tropes S to Z

El Goonish Shive provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • Hints dropped at Ellen taking up drinking were later explained away because the creator didn't like the direction it would take. Thus, the hints are stuffed back in the refrigerator... behind the Red Herring.
    • The "Lord Tedd" arc will presumably pick up again some day, but it's more or less indefinitely on hold because the author realized he introduced it too early.
    • Susan's crusade against the school uniform policy dropped out of focus and then ended abruptly not because nobody in the school wanted to wear the uniforms (even if only Susan was willing to openly act on the matter), but because the parents of the students complained about the increased laundry costs. (Although the author had always intended to end the arc in a lame way, he admitted didn't intend for it to be so abrupt.)
  • Abnormal Ammo: In the movie they watch here, horses.
    Justin: I'm not trained in the art of using horses as projectile weaponry.
  • Abusive Parent: Damien ended up making himself a sort of twisted father figure to Grace and her brothers, but there is nothing "fatherly" about him at all. He is an abuser pure and simple, able to control his "children" through fear and constantly hitting them whenever they displease him. And like any parent whose children are young enough, he's too powerful for them to do anything about it. And the reason he wanted Grace back? He wanted to breed with her so that he could raise an army. Whether she wanted to or not. (She didn't, by the way.)
    • Unintentionally done by Tedd's mother, using a magic analysis wand to see why he had no magical potential; he was frightened by the noise it made until it became a Pavlovian Response.
  • Academy of Adventure: Two of them: Moperville North and South.
    • Raven mentions offhandedly that South has many unusual children — and he's in charge of protecting them. What's more, he never states that other schools aren't like this — we might just not have met Raven's Moperville North equivalent.
    • Though Moperville North does have its "well-meaning, but completely nuts" principal, and the Goo showed up there twice.
  • Accidental Nightmare Fuel: What happens to 'Fox' when Nanase is knocked out was, according to Dan, "...much less disturbing as I originally pictured it."
    Dan: Those who are easily creeped out would do well to dismiss summons quickly rather than gradually.
  • Accidental Truth:
  • Action Girl: All the girls (and some of the guys) except for Sarah.
  • Actually Not a Vampire:
    • A variation. Susan flashbacks to an earlier encounter with an 'Aberration' — a person who has used magic in order to become immortal through parasitically leeching off the life-force of others. She starts to describe to her friends about how it had some vampire-like characteristics, realizes her description sounds like it is of a vampire, and decides to say it was one. When her friends ask if it really was one, she said 'No, not really, but it was a monster that used to be human, hypnotized young women and sucked blood out of their necks. It doesn't matter what I say. You two are going to hear "vampire."' The accompanying comments say no, it's not a 'real' vampire.
      • About one arc later, the body-snatcher Sirleck is also identified as an Abberation, albeit one of a different variety than the one Susan and Nanase encountered in France. The common thread is that Abberations are creatures that were once human, but physically and mentally transformed themselves into monsters in order to gain immortality.
    • Despite what some people might think, Raven assures you that he is not, in fact, a vampire. He also wants you to know that sandwiches are delicious.
  • Aerith and Bob: Jerry the Immortal thinks you should be glad he's a Jerry, because most immortals go for elitist names from ancient mythology.
    "Let me tell you, there is nothing more hilarious than the legendary hissy-fits that result from two or more immortals named Zeus running into each other."
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Noah uses the school's air vents to hunt a magical creature.
  • Alien Tropes: Several, mostly parodied.
  • All-Cheering All the Time: A sketchbook entry explains why "Cheerleadra" is an awful superhero concept.
  • Alpha Bitch: Subverted. Diane is set up to be this, but she's revealed to actually care for her friends (and be concerned for random crying strangers), as seen here, and is thus really a Lovable Alpha Bitch. Her friend Lucy, on the other hand, fits the bullying part of the archetype but isn't the leader of the group.
    • Susan seemed to be an example of this at first, being portrayed as a snobby mean rich girl... but the moment she was given more screen time, she quickly got one hell of a character development. She was also revealed to have a traumatic backstory, so it would be more appropriate to call her a Broken Bird, or, more recently, a Defrosting Ice Queen.
  • Alternate Universe: Several. The one where Ellen and Kaoli "met" got Uryuoms and seyunolu as an accepted part of Human life for two centuries or so...
  • Amazon Chaser: Before Sarah, Elliot had no problem dating Nanase, a black belt who's the only student at their dojo who's a better fighter than him.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Tedd (even without his regular Gender Bender shenanigans) and Noah. Word of God even notes that a female posing model is used for both. It's even the first trope used for a joke in the comic.
  • Amicable Exes: Nanase and Elliot are this after the former broke it off for Sarah's sake. Partially subverted for her that she later dates his Opposite-Sex Clone Ellen.
    • More straight is Sarah and Elliot, who came to their own conclusions why a relationship wouldn't work. The former because she felt it was too slow and passive, and the later realizing that he loved her as a sister. Regardless, they're still very close, even teasing one another that they should have reacted more viciously.
  • Amusing Injuries: The end result of a Demonic Duck jumping out of a moving car. They were NOT amusing enough to distract Susan. (Justified as she was the one driving the car, and the author has a strong dislike of drivers in fiction who let themselves get distracted way too easily.)
  • An Aesop: This comic and this one pretty much sum up the aesop for the Death Sentence arc.
  • And Call Him George: Played for laughs here.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The first panel of this strip.
  • Anti-Climax:
    • Hedge is the King of this.
    • Unfortunately, the school uniform subplot, one of the few subplots to actually receive a conclusion so far, suffers from this. In the commentary, Shive blames poor planning on the abrupt end, but insists the tone would have remained the same regardless.
    • Elliot and Sarah's break up was surprisingly amicable, and it went down very smoothly, much to the surprise of the pair and many readers. This was quickly lampshaded about how none of their friends are going to believe that the break up went so smoothly.
  • Anti-Villain:
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The cast has dealt with magic, not-aliens, alternate dimensions, immortals, shapeshifting Biological Mash Ups, and lots and lots of Gender Bending, but Tedd's claims of an interdimensional space whale that eats magic only gets him an odd look from his father.
    • Possibly justified immediately afterwards — Tedd tells Elliot that his father can't be expected to know everything, and Tedd's the only character known to even be able to sense the space whales.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
  • Artifact Title: Played with after so many people asked about the title's meaning. It was intended to be nonsense ("El Goonish" + the author's last name), but to appease the questioners, he introduced a "hired goon." In a non-continuity Fourth Wall Mail Slot filler. For one panel (do you know what is it worth to hire a really huge goon?). There was also one easily missed mention of goons before this.
  • Art Evolution: Contrast this and this. Same characters, same artist, 8 years.
    • He's also shifted from grayscale to full-color and back multiple times.
    • The first comic and tenth anniversary comic are also an excellent example of how the art has changed. Same two characters, nearly identical dialogue with a slight difference in the plot, vastly improved art style.
  • Art Imitates Art: The second panel of this page contains an extra imitating Edvard Munch's The Scream.
  • As You Know: One of the immortals following Elliot recaps the plot points related to them. When her companion calls her on it, she points out that it helps compensate for their Easy Amnesia.
  • Aura Vision: What makes bloodgrem a useful summon instead of merely obnoxious.
  • Author Appeal:
    • The copious amount of transformation. In-story, Tedd represents this aspect of him. Or rather an exaggerated version, Tedd is more pervy than Dan.
    Dan: I suppose it's POSSIBLE Sarah won't get transformed at any point while assisting Tedd. Possible, but not bloody likely.
    • Also, judging from this rant, Susan (and Diane's) "concern for hygiene" is another example.
    • The fact Dan thinks goth girls are hot is pretty obvious. Most blatantly with Elliot (who's a bit of an idealized self-insert) getting a goth girl disguise form and liking it because it appeals to his obvious attraction to goth girls.
    • Large-busted (but not to excess) girls. Lampshaded on this page, and then the lampshade is lampshaded in Dan's commentary.
  • Author Avatar: Dan's squirrel avatar, though only out of continuity.
  • Author Catchphrase: Dan never "plans" anything, he "plots". As in, "I was plotting to have new comics up Monday through Friday, but..."
  • Author Filibuster: The Legends of Celida arc so far seems to exist for the sole purpose of allowing Dan to rant about the true nature of Sheik from Ocarina of Time and whether Zelda is simply casting an illusion or out and out transforms into a male.
    • The Duel of the Discs arc is pretty much Dan using Justin, Grace, and Tensaided to give his opinions on Magic: The Gathering and the Star Wars prequels. And the arc before that, By the Numbers, was basically Dan's opinion on movie rating sites like Rotten Tomatoes, albeit with a bone tossed towards possible future character development for both Elliot and Susan at the very end.
  • Author Guest Spot: Dan has appeared as himself as he appears in real life as the "super smart" guy in panel six of this strip, but as he only revealed that it was him in the commentary and calls it a cameo, it is more like a Creator Cameo.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Pandora Chaos Raven. She chose it herself, and claims that it matches her personality.
  • A Wizard Did It: the author's (word-for-word) explanation for any discrepancies in scenery or building layout, in this page's commentary.
  • Badass Boast: "No one will care if I kill you."
  • Badass Family: The Verres family, including cousin Nanase and resident Grace.
    • And Raven's family as well, with Raven being one of the series' biggest badasses, and his adopted son/lodger Noah being able to defeat a dragon singlehandedly and has hints of being the child left behind from the experiments that created Damien and Grace. Meanwhile, his mother, Pandora, is shaping up to be series Big Bad.
  • Badass Gay: Justin, as seen here.
  • Badass Longcoat: Hedge, Abraham, and, of all people, Tedd's dad.
  • Badass Teacher: Endangering students of Mr. Raven is the sort of things insurance companies make a specific exclusion for. Even for wizards.
  • Bad Liar: Elliot. It proves to be a massive liability when he's being questioned by Damien and Hedge, but later is one of the reasons Mr. Verres leaves him to supervise Grace's birthday party.
    • Catalina as well. She just can't seem to hold back that she's dating Rhoda.
  • Battle Couple: Ellen and Nanase.
    Nanase: ...Are you doing okay?
    Ellen: Flying...is awesome!
    Nanase: Focus, honey.
  • Beat Panel: Frequently, and once turned into gag in its own right.
    • Used to great effect when Nanase encounters one of the guys she dated before she came out.
    Gary: I don't mean to be rude, it's just I used to think you didn't want to go on a date with me because I was too geeky.
    BEAT
    Nanase: Yes. It was entirely because I am a lesbian.
  • Beautiful All Along:
  • Berserk Button: Quite a surprising number of times, for a relatively non-violent series.
    • Hurting Grace makes Tedd resemble Lord Tedd a bit.
    • Speaking of Tedd, well... this is how Ellen came to be.
    • Grace is wired with a little surprise.
    • During the battle with Damien's "goons," Ellen merely has a thumb war with Guineas. Then Vlad nearly kills Nanase. He was REALLY asking for it.
    • Hurting Raven's students.
    • Do not hurt Nanase (or any member of the Verres family, for that matter) in front of Mr. Verres. He will break you.
    • Dan himself admitted in a commentary that while was perfectly fine with people believing in conspiracy theories, you will get on his bad side if you try to convince him the moon landing was faked.
    Dan: People worked their asses off, made sacrifices, and some even died in their effort to reach the moon. If someone is going to proclaim we never made it there, they better damn well have really solid evidence or kindly shut the hell up.
    Dan: I've seen people exit bathroom stalls and walk right past the sinks! There should always be a way to get out without touching that damn dirty handle!
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Grace, who can shapeshift into any number of extremely lethal forms when provoked. And when she's reluctant or unable to enter close combat, she just uses telekinesis instead. Beware, indeed.
    • Tedd looked like Lord Tedd when he discovered Damien's mistreatment of Grace, and especially when he learned it wasn't a one-off event. As "One Way Road" shows, he wants to be able to help his absurdly powerful friends, and is not satisfied with roles of a reclusive ballast or Mission Control. And as a Mad Scientist, he's able to climb the Super Weight ladder if he really wants... and does, as The Stinger to the same arc shows.
  • Bi the Way: Ellen. In general, changing straight people's sex wreaks havoc on their sexuality.
  • Big Eater: Nanase and Grace. And Man v. Food Fictional Counterpart in the next strip, but he doesn't count.
  • Bigger Stick
  • Big "NO!": Played with here, here , here and here.
  • Big "WHAT?!": Everyone's reaction to Sarah being okay with going along with the theme of Grace's birthday party.
  • Big Word Shout: "SKIRRRRT!"
  • Bilingual Bonus: If you're willing to go here to translate Uryuomoco. A couple real examples with French and Japanese, though.
  • Birthday Episode: A whole arc took place during Grace's birthday, with Character Development for most of the main cast.
  • Bishie Sparkle: Justin, here.
  • Bishōnen: Tedd isn't quite a classic bishie, but he is still both androgynous enough and attractive enough when he takes his glasses off to cause homophobic bully Tony to go into full-scale panic.
    • Also Noah, who makes straight guys see rainbows.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Uryuom reproduction is very... complicated.
  • Black Eyes of Crazy: Lord Tedd. Tedd gets them when he uses the former's Power Fist.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Elliot and Sarah display these here to indicate extreme anger at Tedd.
    • Nanase, Ellen, and Grace aren't amused by Nanase's ex-almost-boyfriend interrupting their double date. Could you tell?
  • Blasphemous Praise:
    Tedd: God.
    Grace: Really?
    Tedd: No. That was blasphemy.
  • Blessed with Suck: Sure, Elliot and Ellen will get pretty sweet magic powers, but the Power Incontinence (especially embarrassing for Elliot) means that for a while, life will be just a little crap for them.
    • In Elliot's case, it's not helped by people who've read too much Ranma ½ dumping buckets of water on him.
    • It was never really a problem for Ellen, who only had to shoot a couple beams every morning (and maybe after school just to be safe) and has already passed her Power Incontinence phase. Elliot has to transform every six hours and isn't done yet.
  • Blinding Camera Flash: As the title puts it, "Dude, Like, Sarah Just TOTALLY Flashed Female Justin".
  • Blunt Yes: When Tedd discovers that All Men Are Perverts is less "complete nonsense" than "an exaggeration of the truth".
    Grace: I just said I know a bunch of guys who treat me like that. Sarah's dealt with guys like that, too. And Ellen. And ... well, I figure every girl has to deal with stuff like that.
    Tedd: But ... that's not okay! That sucks!
    Grace: Yep.
  • Body Horror: Pandora. Oh GOD Pandora.
    • Turns out Aberrations can be pretty freaking disturbing too.
  • Boobs of Steel: Nanase, Ellen and (by extension) Female Elliot are the best physical fighters of the main cast, and they also have the largest chests.
  • Brain Bleach: Invoked here
    Tedd: Grace, can your antennae function as Brain Bleach?
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: here.
    Elliot: He's doomed.
    Susan: He's an ass.
    Elliot: He's a doomed ass.
  • Break the Cutie: Many times, especially Grace.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Bird: Susan, but getting better lately, once she got much angst out of her system in one big Freak Out.
  • Broken Masquerade: Breaks on a semi-regular basis to individuals. Of late, it's showing more cracks, and may completely break for the entire world.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Nanase, after "burning up" her magic in order to defeat Abraham. This is, however, temporary.
    • Brought Down to Badass: Nanase, even without her crazy powerful magic, is still a very experianced martial artist who can bench press 160 pounds note .
  • Bully Hunter: Elliot Dunkel has fought bullies in the past to protect their victims, including both Justin and Tedd. He lapses back from time to time when a friend of his is bullied nearby, though circumstances always manage to deal with the problem before Elliot can get started.
    • Gerald as well, sort of. He wears gothy outfits and makeup specifically to provoke bullies into picking fights with him.
    Tedd: He sounds like a venus fly trap that catches bullies. That's awesome.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Resident Mad Scientist Tedd is quite brilliant... it's just difficult to recognize when his field of expertise is so deeply tied in with his many quirks.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Tedd is part Japanese and ostensibly part Caucasian.
  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": Averted — Dan decided to concede and call his not-exactly-a-vampire thing a "vampire" because he knew the readers would accuse him of trying to pawn a vampire off as something else.
    • Translated, in-universe, to Susan giving in and (grudgingly) calls it a vampire when she realises Grace and Sarah will keep calling it one regardless of anything she says to the contrary.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Jeremy, despite being a weird cat-hedghog hybrid, is just referred to as a kitty.
  • Call Back:
  • Calling Your Attacks: What else would you expect from "Anime Style Martial Arts"? Elliot and Ellen do this on several occasions — in Gratuitous Japanese, no less. Lampshaded when Elliot wanted a do-over after he forgot. And mocked once.
  • The Cameo: Matt and Rat were two characters from one of Dan's previous comics in junior high, who made a handful of appearances in the beginning of the story. They're the only characters who are aware that they're in a comic strip, though everyone else just treats them like they're nuts, and Word of God says that they were eventually treated for their shared psychosis and are now productive members of society.
  • Camp Straight: Ambiguous Gender Noah, (who is Friends with Benefits with Melissa, and who once describes himself as being so pretty that it makes straight men "see rainbows." Dan later admitted that Noah is one of two male characters that he uses female posing models for (Tedd being the other).
  • Can Not Tell A Lie: Abraham.
  • Can't Get In Trouble For Nuthin': Ellen, in her first separate appearance.
  • Canted Camera: Abe's sleep bomb causes this for the next page, reflecting how the spell dazed him.
  • Captain Superhero: Spoofed when they tried to think of a better superhero name than "Cheerleadra."
  • Casanova Wannabe: T.C., aka "The Playah."
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Dan's had to come up with lots of new designs for extras in later arcs.
  • Cat Girl: In various ways, ranging from the appropriately-named Catalina, to Ellen's online persona, to Grace's werecat form and the variants thereof to normal form of Nioi and Kaoli (they're skunks, but this looks close enough). Not to mention Elliot's catboy form....
  • Cat Scare: Parodied and Justified at once — Jeremy defending his territory is not a critter to be trifled with.
    • Well, unless you can project your spirit energy into a force field.
  • Catapult Nightmare: A couple of aversions/subversions and two Played Straight examples.
  • Catch Phrase:
  • Cerebus Retcon: Dan is famous for this trope. Before this series developed Cerebus Syndrome, many hyper-zany elements were present in the story, and now that the series has become more serious, Dan is having fun going back and deconstructing lots of the ridiculousness of the earlier strips. The self-deprecatingly titled "Hammerchlorians" arc is devoted to one particular instance of this.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The Painted Black arc was the turning point. Word of God states that he is going to attempt to undo/turn this down in upcoming arcs. Ironically, the "Bringing Silly Back" mega-arc is (self-admittedly) more serious in some ways than previous arcs.
  • Chain Pain: In his original appearances, Hedge wielded a chain as a weapon — specifically, the very chain that had once bound him in captivity in the laboratory that created him. Very symbolic. Very quickly forgotten, too. Only really appeared in one scene, if memory serves, though Grace references it again later.
  • Character Development: One of the strong sides of EGS. It's rather chaotic and detail-saving, but profound.
  • Characterisation Marches On: Goes hand and hand with Art Evolution and Cerebus Syndrome as the author grows from an adolescent to an adult.
  • Character Filibuster: Tedd, on occasion.
    Elliot and Sarah: (a synchronized Facepalm) Aw crap!
    Susan: What? Did I say something wrong?
    Tedd: They've heard the rant to follow before.
  • Chekhov's Gun: A lot of 'em. It got to the point that Shive redesigned a character who would have had certain "suspicious" traits (such as an eyepatch) specifically so that nobody would sit around waiting for those to be explained.
    • Possibly lampshaded in the commentary for this strip: "On the plus side, should the fact that there's a photo of Grace on the wall of a pancake place where a TV show episode was filmed ever come up again, the high-res version is already drawn." Definitely lampshaded in this page's commentary.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Hedge, among others. Noah was even worse — he showed up, gothic font and all, and then... completely vanished. For years.
  • Chekhov's Skill: It took nearly eight years to explain how Susan made a sword appear back during the Sister arc.
  • The Chessmaster: Pandora. Dan even says in one commentary that she's not someone you want to play at chess. Her desire to manipulate events rather than getting directly involved actually makes sense for two reasons: the other immortals get cheesed off if one of them does anything more than assist people on the physical plane, and she prefers things to be as unpredictable as possible (Chaos is literally her middle name). Doing everything herself would either earn her severe retribution or just make things too boring.
  • Children Forced To Kill: Susan and Nanase when, during a class-trip to France, they wind up being targeted by an aberration. He's not technically human anymore, but he LOOKS human — mostly — and while Nanase does most of the fighting, it's Susan who ends up having to kill him — with an ax, even. Unsurprisingly, she was somewhat traumatized, and the storyline that featured the flashback culminated in an Immortal decrying the irresponsibility of the two French Immortals who originally equipped the girls for the battle, while giving them no apparent alternative save dying at the hands of the aberration. Apparently, they could have simply informed the French Government's anti-supernatural-creature-squad instead, but elected to drag two teen girls into a battle in order to 'recruit them for the fight against evil'. Omniscient Morality License, anyone?
  • Child Soldier: After a monster attacked Susan in Paris, two Immortals empowered her and Nanase, and instructed how to kill it, though it's implied – and in the Hammerchlorians arc, confirmed – that they could have gone to an experienced local magic-user instead. Susan... didn't take it well.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Tedd. There are numerous examples of this, but possibly the best one is the first time he meets Grace. When he asks what Grace is wearing under her trench coat and she says she "Nothing," he quickly welcomes her into the house in the most over-the-top way possible, but the first thing he does once she's inside is offer her some of his clothes to wear.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Word of God states he is attempting to avert this. The author did finally properly introduce Noah, a character who was first mentioned (and then ignored) 6 years beforehand.
    • The best example in this series was likely Sensei Greg. Despite having played a fairly decent role in early arcs, he was reduced to a brief cameo in Painted Black, and only got a short, non-plot critical scene in the party arc before it got into full swing. However, this has been averted as of 8/18/2010, which marks Sensei Greg's re-introduction to the storyline.
  • City of Weirdos: Moperville, although the citizenry are a little more noticing than the average example of this trope.
  • Clark Kenting:
    • Tedd can fool Will and Gill without even meaning it — they call him an impostor when they see him without his glasses. On the other hand, those are really big glasses, they have never seen him without them and they seem not to know what glasses are (instead assuming they are his eyes) which would make sense if, as shapeshifters, they never need glasses since they can shapeshift to correct or modify their vision.
    • Exaggerated with an incredibly lame (but apparently successful) government campaign to hide the presence of aliens on earth by such methods as having them wear T-shirts that say "Homo Sapiens."
    • In the New And Old Flames storyline, Elliot got a superheroine form spell, which comes with its own alter ego form which seems to allow this trope. However, it is subverted in that in the form Elliot actually requires glasses and his speech patterns are made mild-mannered. This means he doesn't really need to engage in Clark Kenting consciously; the form does it for him.
  • Cloning Blues: Played depressingly straight at first. When Ellen was accidentally created, she freaked out, with good reason. She had all of Elliot's memories, but suffered Loss of Identity since she could never get back his old life, and all of his friends were now essentially strangers she only knew about secondhand. She was permanently stuck in female form, something the original Elliot was so desperate to escape that he resorted to using a dangerous magical artifact he clearly didn't understand rather than risk spending (at most) a few more weeks in that form. Ellen also had reason to believe she might have less than a month to live, and feared she'd spend that time locked up in a research facility as a test subject. She went a little crazy, and as a coping mechanism, tried being an Evil Twin for a while, which only made her more miserable. However, this trope was heavily subverted in the long run. Ellen learned her fears of an imminent demise or being locked up for study had no basis in reality. Elliot's friends welcomed her warmly and treated her like a normal individual, rather than just an accidental female copy of someone they knew. Elliot became fiercely protective of her, treating her as a cross between a little sister and a daughter, rather than the Evil Twin she had tried to be. Even Elliot's parents accepted her surprisingly easily, given the circumstances. Ellen eventually developed her own personality and became a major character in her own right, as well as an unprecedented solution to an earlier Love Triangle.
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: How Susan figures out that Elliot transformed into a girl. The way she does it is a bit Bat Deduction (Elliot lampshades this).
  • Cobweb Of Disuse: There's a dojo that's disused but lacking cobwebs... then the sketchbook explains why.
  • Code Name: Grace originally didn't have a real name, but went by the code name 'Shade Tail'. 'Grace' was the name her Dr Sciuridae gave her, after the dead daughter who had been her gene-parent.
    • Both for Grace and general Tail variants, Tail as the last name is not arbitrary, it's the family name, since their Uryuom parent's name translates to Tail from Uryuomoco.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: When Nanase creates one shadow copy of herself, the copy is colored with one of the primary additive colors (red, green, or blue), while Nanase is colored with the corresponding primary subtractive color (cyan, magenta, or yellow, respectively). This actually makes sense from a scientific standpoint: The real Nanase is absorbing the color the fake one is producing.
  • Color Failure: Nanase has one at the party when Ellen goes to get her change of clothes.
    • Tedd experiences this as well.
  • Coming-Out Story: Justin's, related to Susan during Grace's party, though it had previously been shown without explanation. Nanase, on the other hand, comes out during the party, though by then everyone there that night except Tedd already knew. For a while she was only out to the people who were at the party, though.
  • Confused Bystander Interview: There's one of these, complete with sound effects, Buffy Speak, and general hyperactiveness. Subverted in that she's actually not a bystander. She's the superhero that she allegedly saw. And she's not even a "she".
  • Congruent Memory: Tedd is supposedly better at cooking while female. His argument is that he usually cooks for himself when his father is away on business, which is also when he's most likely to spend a lot of time gender-bent. He seems fully aware of the absurdity of this, however, admitting that it's probably all in his head. Doesn't stop him from doing it.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Averted. The "fire monster" summons in the New and Old Flames arc aren't really made of fire because they would incinerate themselves. They just look like they're on fire and have fire-related vulnerabilities. It's a beginner's mistake when summoning certain monsters to just go with what looks cool instead of what actually works.
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: Ellen's creation was eventually revealed as completely avoidable twice over; first when it's revealed that Tedd has a device that can gauge the end result of a transformation beam (the whole thing started when he claimed to zap himself to test the beam because he doesn't have such a device and the safety for the gun got stuck) and just likes to turn himself into the girl. The second is when Tedd's father reveals that when he turned from his business trip, he would've brought more than enough parts with him to repair the transformation gun, meaning that Elliot would've only been stuck as a girl for two days instead of a month (he left a note on the fridge explaining this, but the message never got across because of his "ink blot handwriting.")
    • To be fair, it's eventually revealed that Magus orchestrated Ellen's creation by toying with the emotions of everyone involved.
  • Covert Pervert:
  • Crazy-Prepared: Mr. Verres' party chaperon presentation.
  • Creating Life: Played for Laughs — "Our goo kinda came to life...," but later revealed to be a monster sent on purpose from an Alternate Universe. Also, in a filler strip soap bubbles came to life as Pacman-like critters... and promptly attacked Tedd.
  • Cringe Comedy: Catalina's plan to defuse rumors that Elliot is gay. That's an airtight argument, alright.
    Sarah: It's like a train wreck, and I can't look away...
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Mr. Verres and Agent Wolf. In early comics, the two characters were pretty goofy and usually played for laughs. That changes a bit later on:
    • We've gotten hints for some time that Mr. Verres is a very prominent figure in the paranormal area (possibly even enough to qualify him as the Big Good of the EGS world), and his Crowning Moment Of Awesome near the end of the Abraham encounter demonstrates that he has enough skill with magic that you really don't want to mess with him or anyone he cares about.
    • The encounter with Abraham has also shown that, when he's not obsessed with aliens, Agent Wolf is very professional, and Raven has identified him as one of the most powerful wizards in the Midwestern United States.
  • Crush Blush: Both in relation to Elliot.
    • Susan has one here.
    • Ashley has one here.
  • Curse Cut Short:
  • Curtains Match the Window: Seen with Susan, Elliot, Ellen, and Tedd.
  • Damsel in Distress: During the "Painted Black" arc, Grace becomes one when she's captured while infiltrating Damien's base... at least until Damien makes her really, really mad.
    • Zigzagged by Elliot, who ends his stint as a Distressed Dude by genderbending his way out of his restraints.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Magic apparently drains users at various rates. Spells too powerful to handle may overtax even well-trained magic users, possibly even removing their magic for months at at a time.
  • Dawson Casting: Tedd invokes this in an EGS:NP strip by claiming to be twenty-one outside of continuity due to Comic Book Time. Grace counters the gap might be up to a year, making Tedd eighteen. She then goes on to say that it doesn't matter anyways since none of them are likely to look any different before they turn 30. Though the revelation that he may be under the drinking age causes Tedd to excuse himself so that he can dispose of a keg in the fridge before his dad finds it.
  • The Dark Side: [[Early on, when the Goo is first created.
    The Principal: So you're saying you can't make me an army of goo-based hall monitors?
    Tedd: Even if I could, I would not give into the dark side so easily.
  • Daydream Surprise: Here, with hints, and far more emphatically here.
    • This has become easier to notice thanks to Dan's consistency in displaying 'imaginary' panels with rounded corners. The last example portrays this perfectly.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Nanase's Angel spell very nearly became this.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
  • Death Glare:
  • Default Setting Syndrome: In-universe — Newspaper arc "Dan in the MUD."
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "You could always get hugs, have a second player for video games, get hugs, have help with chores, get hugs..."
  • Deus ex Machina: Subverted or maybe deconstructed mildly with the Dewitchery Diamond. It seems like a plot device at first, but then it solves it in a way completely different from the way everyone expected, and caused more problems than it solved, in the form of Knight Templar Abraham.
    • Magic is stated to have a flair for the dramatic. The characters are actually Genre Savvy enough to expect magic to act this way.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Anybody who forgets he's fighting a wizard after having to overcome his spells just to get there deserves to be spammed by exploding crows on the spot.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Abraham. Almost everything he did at all.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper:
    • Abraham's diplomatic efforts. He doesn't tongue-slip, but still manages to annoy one more hell out of Adrian Raven with every phrase, starting from the second.
    • Tedd, in his usual style.
    • Oh, Elliot...
    • Nanase here
  • Directionless Driver: Referenced after Ellen's "birth," as she deluded herself into thinking she was Elliot's Evil Twin.
    Tedd: Careful, she might use tactics that wouldn't even cross our mind.
    cut to Ellen asking a gas pump attendant for directions
  • Dirty Business
  • Dirty Old Man: Averted, but lampshaded, here.
  • Distant Reaction Shot: Space Is Noisy now — courtesy of Catalina and Raven.
  • Distracted by My Own Sexy:
    • A V5-ed Susan gets distracted by her own sudden-sexy in this strip. Understandable, as in addition to the appearance this form has a rather... unusual hormonal status, which she wanted to experience in the first place. She stood enthralled until Insulted Awake... and only from the second attempt.
    • Genderbent Sarah also has one of these moments here.
      NO! BAD Sarah! Stop thinking of yourself as a sex object!!
  • Distressed Dude: Elliot for most of the Painted Black arc.
  • The Ditz: Grace on occasion. She learns VERY quickly, however.
    • Elliot in his "party girl" form.
  • Ditzy Genius: The reason for Grace's Ditzy characteristics. Both her ability to absorb information and her lack of common sense are impressive.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Ellen yells at Tedd for never apologizing for the mistakes that lead to her creation, his reply makes it sound more along the lines of an unplanned pregnancy, also tying in with the Running Gag about Tedd being Ellen's father. May also double as a Heartwarming Moment for some.
    Tedd: If you're the result of my mistakes, then they were the best mistakes I ever made!
  • Doing in the Scientist: At first, the plot was fairly silly, and all transformation weirdness was due to the Transformation Gun, an invention of Tedd's. Then it was revealed to come from Uryuom technology. Then that was revealed to be based on magic, a fundamental form of energy which had already cropped up in earlier storylines.
  • Doing in the Wizard : In a way. Magic has actually become more prevalent after the Sister 2 arc, but it's also become less silly and more systematic. See Cerebus Retcon above.
  • Don't Try This at Home: The commentary for this comic goes out of its way to inform readers of the potential hazards of using a sleeper hold.
    • Also in the commentary for this one.
    • Dan does it a lot, actually.
  • Do Not Go Gentle: The reason Ellen raised hell at the school in "Sister", is because she thought she had less than a month to live.
  • Dope Slap:
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Discussed by Elliot and Sarah after they break up.
  • Dramatic Wind: Susan is particularly good at it. Tedd too as of late.
  • Dramatic Thunder: Happens whenever Nanase's mother says something emphatic. Played seriously the first time, and then for laughs in one of the Q&A comics.
  • Dream Sequence: An entire Story Arc of them, each revealing something personal about one of the main characters.
  • Dropped Glasses: ...revealing that the character doesn't really need them.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady:
    • Tedd's face is so feminine that he grows his hair out just so he can blame that on why he looks so much like a girl when his glasses are off.
    • Noah, though he seems completely fine with it.
    "Regardless of which gender he is at the time, I use the female [plastic] artist model for Tedd. And Noah, now that I think about it."[1]
  • Dysfunctional Family: Not only has Tedd's mom gone to Europe and abandoned her family, but when Nanase's mom is asked about her sister, the answer sounds much like Pandora-Chaos at her worst.
  • Eagleland: The Government isn't that bad. Even The Men in Black (though they have their moments). But tourists...
  • Eating the Eye Candy: While not hunky, Sarah ends up considering it during the Party arc. The object? Herself. It Makes Sense in Context, really.
  • Education Mama: Nanase's mother.
  • Eleventh Hour Superpower: Three times. One is Justified in expansion, another is justified in previous development, and the last one was built up over more than two years so that it was bound to appear and could not be anything less than Summon "Oh Crap."
  • Eldritch Abomination: Two of them to date. First off, Pandora looks like this whenever she's not a Creepy Child or adult woman. Then there's this ... thing.
  • El Spanish O: The "El" in the name of the comic.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Tiffany Susan Pompoms.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Tedd Drew Verres isn't such a bad name, but he makes a big deal out of it. Middle Names are Always Fun!
  • The Empath: Uryuom (and greater chimera) have empathic abilities they use instead of pheromones, as well as low-grade telepathy. Both are related to antennae.
  • Empty Piles of Clothing: Greg stumbles onto a pile after charging into Tedd's house to protect Grace.
  • Enhance Button: Averted.
    • In this comic, zooming in on a photo and using the brightness command results in visible pixels and artifact.
    • Discussed in the commentary of this comic, including a jab at CSI's usage of this trope.
      Of course, if this was CSI, some dude would magically multiply the resolution of the image, clean it up, and get the license plate of a nearby car from a reflection in Elliot's pupil.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: How Sensei Greg created Anime-Style Martial Arts.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Lampshaded. Tedd gets over his fear of being called gay for liking Grace when she's gender bent long enough to kiss guy!Grace, but Grace is quick to point out that just recognizing he has a hangup isn't enough to instantly make it go away.
  • Especially Zoidberg: Susan drops one of these.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: Female Variant Number 5 is meant to cause this.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Discussed. After the furious look Elliot gave Melissa, Noah tries to get out of him what was that about:
    Noah: Is it jealousy? I have been told I could make straight men see rainbows.
  • Everyone Can See It: Elliot and Susan have become far closer to each other than they realize and pretty much everyone, including Sarah, ostensibly Elliot's girlfriend, notices it. Sarah herself would be all for it if Elliot and Susan got together, because it's become clear to her that Elliot isn't even really functioning as her boyfriend.
  • Everything's Nuttier With Squirrels: Well, duh.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Even Magus won't help Chaos ruin Verres to just to kill Abraham… just to punish Raven for being a disobedient son. Though Magus hasn't yet been clarified as "good" or "evil", he had been antagonising Ellen through the arc.
    • Also, during Painted Black, Hedge did everything in his power not to bring women back to Damien, knowing that he only wanted them for breeding.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Sure looks that way…
  • Evil Laugh: Along with Psychotic Smirk, played to the hilt with Raven, though he could just be being creepy and weird.
    • Definalty just being wierd, considering he's one of the series' most powerful supporting heroes. His mother, on the other hand, plays this one straight...
  • Evil Overlord: Lord Tedd, though Nioi insinuates that he's nothing of the sort. Well, to Nioi and around her, he may be a very nice lad indeed. After all, Lord Tedd is the product of Tedd's issues never fixed by the presence of either Elliot or Grace, and it looks like "guy with a furry fetish and a half-cat girlfriend" again.
  • Evil Stole My Faith: Justin upon seeing Susan's "kitty face", thinks to himself that there is no god.
  • Evil Twin: When she's first introduced, Ellen tries to be one of these for Elliot in an effort to give herself some sense of identity. She turns out to be spectacularly bad at it.
  • Exposition Cut: Its frequent use is lampshaded in this comic from late in the "Sister" arc.
  • Exposition Diagram: Both Mr. Verres and Elliot's parents have used the Type 2 version.
  • Exposition Party: Gets its own arc, the longest in the series.
  • Expressive Hair: When Catalina asks Susan on a date, her hair acted like cat ears, raising when she's happy and laying flat when she's upset.
  • Expy: Grace definitely has nothing in common with Squirrel Girl... oops. On the other hand, "cat girl"-to-"squirrel girl" substitution doesn't leave many options anyway.
    • Mr. Raven comes across as Snape with better style, at least at first. Tell me you don't imagine Alan Rickman delivering some of his lines.
    Raven: You are a homicidal wizard invading a public school. No one will care if I kill you.
  • Extra Parent Conception: Uryoms reproduce this way, with a variable number of parents.
  • Extreme Doormat: Sarah's motive to be upset with Elliot... to the point of wanting to break up with him. Elliot never takes the initiative of suggesting something to do and doesn't even have the drive to call her until someone tells him to do it. Sarah's always the one who must come out to call him or ask him out and decide what they should do, and even though she knows Elliot does it to avoid being oppressive to her, she's sick of it. Not to mention Elliot, in all the months they had being together, never tried to have sex with her.

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