El Goonish Shive / Tropes F to L

Tropes A to E | Tropes F-L | Tropes M to R | Tropes S to Z

El Goonish Shive provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Flat Joy: When Elliot discovered that his "girly powers" could include becoming a superheroine who can ''fly''. Of course, he's in the middle of a fight scene, but still, he did just discover he can fly!
  • Flat "What.": Performed here, and again by Susan. And then by Justin here and here. Also by Raven here. And by Elliot here, and Sarah here. And now by Tom here. This is the reason why the Flat "What." page image is from EGS.
  • Flight: Many characters are capable of this. Nanase, in three different ways: wings in her fairy form, magical levitation in normal form, and wings in her "angel" form. Grace — levitation, though only in Omega form. Nioi — magic. Vlad — wings plus levitation. Immortals (so far, all) — either magic or it's an inherent quality. Elliot — while in his superhero form.
  • Follow the Chaos: Need to know if Tedd is upstairs or downstairs in his lab? Listen for an explosion.
  • The Force Is Strong with This One: Adrian Raven admitted having ability to measure magical power without devices, which all but confirms a common wild guess on who his "random favourites" are. Later was explained he can sense magic from people...through his ears. Taste, precisely. Don't ask.
  • Forced Meme: Shive attempted to turn "sexy awesome" into a catchphrase, but never caught on outside the fan base, and even the characters have all but stopped using it.
  • Foreshadowing: Tends to get lampshaded a lot. What is left is usually cryptic or already blatantly obvious.
  • Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: The Q&A strips.
  • Fourth Wall Psych: In one strip, Tedd appears to be commenting on a stupid mistake that Elliot made despite not being around to witness it. However, he is quickly revealed to instead be commenting on a similar situation in the sitcom that he was watching, meaning that he was merely Leaning on the Fourth Wall rather than breaking it.
  • Freakiness Shame: Grace worried about her "monstrousness," until she discovered that the only reaction Sarah and Elliot ever show is blaming Tedd (due to specific experience), while Tedd ogles her in hybrid form even more eagerly than in human form. Even after the remark about "furry fetish and a half-cat girlfriend" she had a fit of concern about her three-tailed omega form. As if there could be any problem.
    Grace: I didn't scare you, did I?
    Tedd: [visibly spaced out] so... hot...
  • Freak Lab Accident: What the Goo originally was before a Cerebus Retcon turned it into an attempt by Lord Tedd to kill this universe's Tedd.
  • Freak Out!: Susan wasn't amused to discover what the hammers were made for — and what they in fact do. Of course, that being in the presence of an Immortal, she just caught an Instant Sedation spell in the face and got spaced out for her efforts.
  • Freudian Couch: Elliot dreams of himself on one when he decides to become introspective.
  • Freudian Excuse: Most of the cast have really screwy home lives. Specifically, Susan's hatred of men is very nearly outright said to be her making an excuse for her father cheating. Her mother's hate-filled "because he's a man" when lil' Susan asked her why probably helped this along a little.
  • Functional Magic: Nioi is a powerful sorceress, as is Nanase. Nanase in particular uses it very often and quite openly at times.
    • Magic A Is Magic A: A significant portion of the "Sister II" arc is devoted to explaining exactly how magic works in EGS.
    • Squishy Wizard: Specifically averted. Two of the three wizards seen so far are also swordsmen (Abe also used shield and axe), for third it's unknown, but as a FBI operative he's likely to have at least basic handgun training. The rest of magic users in the comic practice Supernatural Martial Arts, and one that doesn't is at least pretty badass and is competent enough with melee weapons.
    • Wizard Duel: Magus vs. Terra's duel appears to be either sparring or a non-lethal quarrel. Abraham vs. Raven, with spells and weapons both.
  • Funny Background Event: Lots. Panel #3 here, panel #3 here, panel #1 here.
  • Fun with Subtitles: "[See? I can speak the alien language of the Uryuoms.]" (subtitles: Translated from TAKE A WILD GUESS.)
  • Fusion Dance: Lespuko-chimera can acquire and combine forms.
  • Gag Boobs: The Minerva Form (a double dose of FV 5) results in these.
  • Gag Censor: During the MV 5 Newspaper arc, the rather than use weird camera angles, Dan just had the Angelic Tweeting Bird hover in front of Grace whenever she was topless.
  • Gaming Webcomics: Not primarily but a lot of EGS:NP's are about Grace playing video games especially recently with her attempts at pacifism.
  • Gas Leak Cover-Up:
  • Gender Bender: The entire main cast, at least once. They even did this as a theme for a birthday party. Ellen is a special case, since she's an Opposite-Sex Clone of another main character with all the memories of the original, and she has the innate ability to turn men into women. Pretty much anything in the EGS universe will get your gender bent, including fixing a toaster.
    • Attractive Bent-Gender
      • Pretty much whenever anyone is transformed, goes in both directions. It helps that the person behind the gender-bending technology is an unrepentant pervert who custom-designed transformation variants to appeal to certain fetishes.
      • This issue was explored in rather disturbing ways in one of the Q&A sessions.
      • Tedd as a female deserves special mention, as "she" is just about the hottest character in the comic. Conversely, Tess in Newspaper complained she became "so androgynous she wasn't even sure it worked."
    • First Law of Gender-Bending
      • EGS, while not as casual or frequent about it as The Wotch, certainly pays the Law its dues. According to the rules governing the comic's main sex-changing phlebotinum, only male-to-female sex changes can be made permanent (pregnancy); female-to-male sex changes, even of someone trapped by pregnancy (for whom it's only even possible afterwards), cannot exceed a 30 day time limit. The second time a boy - the main character - is turned into a girl the device breaks, leaving "her" stuck for the full thirty days; the attempt to circumvent this creates an Opposite-Sex Clone and the permanent ability to change sex at will, something the rules of magic eventually force him to do on a regular basis.
      • Also, much later, a "seyunolu" (chimera) member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad, Vlad, is hit with a Transformation Ray and is turned female, but more importantly to him/her, human. "She" has no desire to change back, and since Bizarre Alien Biology overrides the time limit (and, implicitly, gender identity), Vladia, as she is now called, is treated as a woman from then on.
      • Moving on from Elliot being a double victim of this, we get to Tedd. Who probably wouldn't know this was a law: the "circumstances" usually equate to "Dad's out of town" and "As a girl, I'm hot."
    • Second Law of Gender Bending
      • Largely averted, despite all of the constant Gender Bending: Elliot has no interest in remaining female for long and considers his gender-bending Power Incontinence distasteful, Justin specifically rejects the idea even though it would make him sexually compatible with the object of his unrequited affection, Ellen accepts it without expressing any preference (though there are hints that the Loss of Identity associated with Opposite Sex Cloning Blues was a sore point until she got a new set of memories). Zigzagged as of "So A Date At The Mall, where Elliot implies he's at least mildly gender fluid and admits that having a cute, sexy superheroine form is pretty damn cool.
      • It's touching in Vlad/Vladia's case. There's nothing kinky about her accepting the change — for the first time in her whole life normal people aren't terrified by the sight of her, so she's willing to accept any form provided it's human, which her old, male form decidedly was not. And given that her one attempt to use her supposed shapeshifting powers was a painful, near-death experience she's not about to experiment even given the chance.
      • The current theory is that Elliot will acquire new female forms again and again until he really likes one of them — then again, it was Tedd's idea. Between flying around as a superheroine, ogling Perky Goth form in a mirror, and more recently dating Ashley, a girl who discovered her own bisexuality by way of Ranma ˝ at a young age, he may have found this already.
      • Tedd is the only straight example. He likes this form of shapeshifting because his androgynous face becomes an advantage while close enough to Tedd's own form and he likes to feel attractive. Once this problem became moot it was revealed that Body Swap is #37 on his fetish list. Later on justified when Tedd realizes he's gender-fluid, but was uneducated on non-cisgender orientations. He just has access to technology that allows him to shape-shift when he feels more like a woman than a man.
      • And when Pandora does ... something that causes him to transform? The response is a BIG smile. And a gripe that her opponent in the card game, who keeps hitting on her, is 'totally ruining the fun of being inexplicably turned into a girl by some terrifying unknown power'.
    • Third Law of Gender Bending
      • Grace's Birthday Party arc, part-masquerade where the various characters deliberately chose stereotypical outfits for each other in keeping with the 'walk a mile in my shoes' theme of the occasion.
      • Susan starts acting macho and aggressive to Nanase very soon after becoming male. Sarah points out that Susan is simply a highly competitive person; now that she's male, and feeling stronger, it takes the form of an arm wrestling match.
      • Tedd does note that the first few times anyone is gender bent, their thoughts will be exaggerated, which played a part in everyone's storyline during the event, but the only one whose gender bending mental state was a major plot point was Susan, as it helped her recognize her hangups with men.
      • Later, when Elliot develops the power to morph his clothes and appearance along with his gender his female forms tend to end up wearing girly outfits because he apparently just can't help visualizing them that way.
      • A better example is Tedd; in fact, Grace has less dresses and skirts in her wardrobe than he does despite most of her first clothes being selected by Ordinary High-School Student Sarah. He even prides himself on how sexy he looks transformed. And cooks better while female, just out of habit.
    • Opposite-Sex Clone: Ellen.
  • Genki Girl:
    • Grace is usually defined as "bubbly." Although, Jerry the Immortal implies that she lost her innocence a long time ago, and she's simply overcompensating.
    • A more literal example is Susan's curiosity, seen here.
    • Elliot's superhero spell comes with a "party girl" form whose default state is hyper and apparently slightly drunk.
  • Genre-Busting: It crosses a few. It starts out like a comedic slice-of-life comic, quickly adds sci-fi and drama, then fantasy (later explaining the sci-fi as magic)(except it's not the same magic). Currently it's kind of a mix of the lot. And weird.
  • Gentle Giant:
    • Justin, from Rhoda's point of view. She's normally scared of people bigger than her (and his 6' to her 5' is quite a difference), but also knows that he's friends with Nanase, and that Nanase wouldn't be friends with anyone bad.
    • Sensei Greg is an imposing 6'10'' (208 cm) but is a perfectly decent guy. So decent, that he is bothered by not being a "traditional" perverted anime sensei.
  • Gilligan Cut: "Please don't be on World War II...Dammit!"
  • Girl of My Dreams: A realistic twist on this. Elliot dreams of Tedd turning into a girl and then the two kiss. However, he doesn't remember the full dream, in particular who he had kissed. So when he first encounters Ashley he mentally fills in the blank and thinks that she was the one he kissed in his dream.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Played with every imaginable way.
    Kid 1: You know how we all dreamt of dating Nanase someday?
    Kid 2: Yeah?
    Kid 1: That dream is dead, but something magical has taken its place.
  • Girl Posse: Alpha Bitch Diane and her hangers-on Lucy and Rhoda. At least that's how it seems at first....
  • Girls with Moustaches: Several non-canon examples.
  • The Glomp: Frequently. a.k.a. "Tackle Cuddle"
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: Tedd's glasses, which can do just about everything except correct vision.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Susan's Curiosity and Logic (Curiosity is a Catgirl and Logic is a Vulcan); they end up agreeing, to her chagrin. Later, Susan's Nature and Nurture; they do not agree, and Nurture ends up gagging Nature.
    • Later played straight with Diane having an actual shoulder angel and devil after insulting a friend.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Raven is a strict disciplinarian, quite caustic and doesn't suffer fools gladly. He's also a ruthless fighter, and won't hesitate to risk his life to protect his students.
  • Got Volunteered: Susan and Nanase (especially Susan) during their trip to Paris.
  • Graceful Loser: Principal Verrückt pushes in all the wrong directions, but doesn't mind when he's repelled. At least if it's not about murals.
  • G-Rated Drug:
  • Grammar Nazi: Mr. Raven is presented and referenced as one, and his Hitler Forelock does not help his case at all.
  • Grandfather Clause: Several of the boys originally had very '90s/early '00s hairstyles; while Elliot's mullet and Justin's bowl cut have been toned down to generic medium-guy-length hairstyles. Tedd's curtains lasted longer, but as of Squirrel Prophet, he's got, to quote George, "cute girly fairy hair."
  • Groin Attack: Sarah delivers a very impressive one to Hedge.
  • Hair Antennae: Grace, most of the time. She is part Uryuom though, and they have antennae, so... it makes a kind of sense. Also, Grace in squirrel form and General Shade Tail.
  • Hair Wings: The Mysterious Cloaked Figure (Noah) makes hair wings (called by name in the commentary) that are actually hair.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Grace and her brothers, Nioi, Mr. Raven.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Elliot and Ellen, though they're not actually twins.
  • Hand Behind Head:
  • Hands-Off Parenting:
    • Mr. and Mrs. Dunkel are capable of taking the most bizarre things in stride, to the point where it becomes a Running Gag.
      Mrs. Dunkel: Why are there two Brownies?
      Ellen: I'm Ellen, Mom. I turned into a cat.
      Mrs. Dunkel: Oh dear. Can you change back?
      Ellen: Sure, anytime I want.
      Mrs. Dunkel: That's good.
    • It's implied that Tedd has been doing some WEIRD stuff to and involving Elliot for years, meaning they might just be used to beloved family members becoming small furry animals (or something equally bizarre) on a regular basis. Perhaps they had a bigger reaction the first time something happened, but since there was no permanent harm from it, or any of the subsequent incidents, they've learned to roll with it, even as it eventually escalated into Ellen's birth and Elliot becoming a costumed superhero.
  • Hard Head: Lampshaded here. Upon learning that he was knocked out by a blow to the head, Elliot starts worrying about brain damage, but Tedd tells him he's overreacting.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: An in-universe example: On hearing that Susan fought a vampire in France, Grace immediately dubs her Susan the Vampire Slayer. Given that she still feels guilty about this, it was exactly the wrong thing to say.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Susan does this a lot with Elliot during the Summer arc. This comic, in particular, holds links to most of the instances in the author commentary beneath it.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Ellen, though the whole Evil Twin thing was mostly caused by her thinking she was going to disappear in a month. She was never very good at it, anyhow.
    • Also, once Damien was no longer around to control them, Grace's brothers surrendered peacefully and now live comfortably in a new government facility.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Elliot suffers one after he realizes he loves Sarah like a sister, not a girlfriend.
  • Hero with an F in Good: Abraham, neatly complementing his matching Fs in enchantment and strategy. He thought he was the good guy there, but...
  • Herr Doctor: Doctor Germahn.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Elliot and Tedd are and will always be best friends in any Alternate Universe where their genders and sexual orientations are incompatible with each other, and when they are compatible, they'll almost always be dating.
  • Hidden Depths: It's easier to name aversions.
  • High on Catnip: The mini-arc "Catnip"; also, the plant itself reappeared later.
  • High School: Two of them of the cross-town variety, complete with uniforms, bizarre teachers, odd mascots, and most of the other associated tropes; notably absent is any mention of sports rivalry, or indeed the existence of sports. Half the cast attends Moperville North and the other half goes to Moperville South.
  • Hiroshima as a Unit of Measure: A thousand Seymours.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Sort of. The stereotypical German scientist's real name is quickly revealed as Dr. Germahn.
  • Homage: The demonic duck looks very similar to a major character in Goats, the comic strip by Jonathan Rosenberg.
  • Hug and Comment: "You're better than a Neanderthal."
  • Hybrid Monster: The result of Uryuoms' eggs through Mix-and-Match Critters, thus Here There Be Chimerae.
  • Hybrid Power: The Uryuom breeding method pretty much inevitably results in this. Uryuoms frequently have several parents adding their genes to an egg, as they don't have typical genders. This ultimately results in a character being a hybrid of four different creatures, conserving many of their powers.
  • Hyper Awareness:
    • Information gathering is Hedge's strong side. Maybe he's no Sherlock Holmes, but he grasps any clue present, like occasional slips of Elliot knowing Grace or Grace being in a relationship.
    • Diane also displayed this ability when determining that Ellen and Grace were new to Moperville South. She was even wearing a Sherlock Holmes outfit for one panel.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: In the B-Side Comics, Minion is this to Shive himself.
  • Hyperspace Mallet:
    • As with everything else in the series, rules for when, where, and why it can and can't appear eventually were provided.
    • At least Susan and Abe did summon actual weapons out of thin air.
    • Now it got even better, but hammers are off-line.
    • Dan lampshaded his reasoning behind changing the hammer origin in the later story arc. The old guy who looks vaguely like Santa explains his initial reasoning for using the hammer gag to humorous effect... that is, the same as out of the 'verse.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Making fun of hacks and unnecessary expositions (aside of the last panel, see the chapter's name).
    • Jerry derided immortals who use fancy names, such as Zeus. One re-incarnation later, and guess what he's calling himself.
  • Identical Stranger: Susan seems to be some sort of fundamental archetype within the EGS universe. Diane at MSHS is a very close match, barring dress sense (note: Susan is naturally blonde). Even stranger, she is also a dead ringer for a hypothetical niece of an elf (i.e. half-immortal).
    • As it turns out, Diane is Raven's daughter and Susan is a more distant descendant. Which makes Diane some form of extended great-aunt to Susan.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Said in reverse by Susan when talking about Elliot teasing her over a sexy outfit.
  • I Gave My Word:
    • Abraham really does not want to kill Ellen Dunkel, but his oath was too inclusive, so... and he's quite happy to be pushed into what sounds like a legitimate loophole.
    • Immortals in general turn out to have this magically enforced. If an immortal vows, any attempt to break the vow will result in "a deafening bombardment of intrusive thoughts", and if they manage to actually break it the thoughts persist forever. This was displayed by Jerry, post-reincarnation and much later spelled out by Edward.
  • Ignored Enemy: Sort of, at least.
  • I Have No Son: Or sister. Mrs. Kitsune has no sister, and it's clearly unsafe to argue about the accuracy of this statement.
  • I Have Nothing to Say to That:
    • When Grace tells Tedd why she lied, he does the 'mouth open and finger-in-air' version.
    Tedd: You should have told me where you were going.
    Grace: I didn't want you to worry.
    Tedd: But you lied to me.
    Grace: It's okay to lie to people if you think it's for their own good!
    Tedd: Who gave you that idea?
    Grace: Everyone I have ever known ever.
    Tedd: ...
    Tedd: Fair enough.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal:
    • Grace had shades of this at first but quickly let go of this, and once she did start a normal school life with Ellen, Nanase, and Justin, she actually found it a little restrictive.
    • Vlad is abnormal even among shapeshifting chimera in that he was made using the DNA from so many different animals that he can't transform without risking death. This leads him to be jealous of his "brothers" ability to transform into human forms and blend in with society. He gets his desire partially fulfilled when he is transformed into a human woman by Ellen's beam becoming Vladia.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Sarah has a bit of this, mostly because she couldn't spend so much time surrounded by shapeshifters, magical martial artists, and mad scientists without getting jealous or at least curious.
  • I Just Write the Thing: Dan occasionally mentions disagreements that he had with his characters over a particular strip in the commentary. This is usually simply complaining about his characters ruining a perfectly good dramatic moment, but sometimes it is as extreme as him actually losing an argument with one of his characters.
  • The "I Love You" Stigma: When Sarah confessed her love to Elliot, he began dating her, but he didn't really examine what he actually felt for her. When he realized he loved her like a sister, it finally became clear why he hadn't been a very active participant in the relationship.
  • Imagine Spot: Quite a few.
  • Implausible Deniability: Susan definitely didn't summon a magic sword.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The TFG is Uryuom technology.
  • Immortality:
    • The Immortals are basically spiritual beings who never die, but the way they go about it is almost a deconstruction of the concept. They continue to get older, smarter, stronger, more bored and less sane until the point comes where they basically become Persons Of Mass Destruction. To prevent this, they voluntarily undergo a kind of ritualistic death/rebirth cycle every couple centuries to lose most of their power and memories so they can start over and keep things interesting. Which is a good thing, as Pandora Chaos Raven (name chosen by self) shows to full extent with her crazy, and Eldritch Abomination / Creepy Child forms...
    • Ironically, half-immortals (elves) largely have the advantage over true immortals. Since their power is not constantly increasing like their parents', they don't have to worry about resetting, but get ageless immortality and powerful magic. The downsides are that, unlike their Immortal parents, they are unable to have children; and they are bound by similar rules as the immortals, meaning that they can only interfere directly when a situation involves magic, or to defend themselves and others.
      Raven: You are a homicidal wizard attacking a school. No one will care if I kill you.
    • There are also various "aberrations" that immortals ruthlessly destroy, who obtain a pseudo-immortality through either body stealing or parasitism.
  • Immortality Hurts: In Wrath Of God, Nanase must keep Abraham from killing Ellen using only her Fairy Doll and Fey Punch spells. Because she feels everything that happens to the dolls as if it had happened to her own body, she is essentially hacked to pieces over, and over, and over... The page is titled To Die a Dozen Deaths
  • Impossible Insurance: George has car insurance that covers monster-related damage (obviously just to advertise "completeness"). The result: surprise, they have to pay for repairs of a car damaged in a fire monster's attack (and on camera at that).
  • Incompatible Orientation:
    • A whole chain of them: Catalina ->Susan ->Justin ->Elliot ->Nanase (not all at the same time, mind)
    • Allows rather funny Sketchbook entries, though.
    • The Elliot/Nanase dilemma, at least, is neatly resolved with Ellen.
    • The gender-bending complicates this, with bisexual male Susan and straight female Justin making out at Grace's birthday party. Also, at least one of Elliot's female forms has a crush on Justin.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Diane has this reaction in this comic from "Family Tree" after realizing she wants a real relationship with Elliot.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Technically, Magus apparently was behind the v-five Elliot incident and tries to manipulate Ellen within some plot that sounds quite dubious. And is not very good at this. But he's in desperate straits, which isn't even his own fault (unlike Abe's case). And he's still reluctant to kill a guy who stands in his way even when pushed hard to do this. He knows it, too.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Susan was already starting to grow suspicious of Tom 's behavior, but it comes to a head when she realized he apologized for missing her online the night before. She hadn't said for certain that she would even be on, concluding that he had been online, but in invisible mode.
  • I Never Told You My Name: Painted Black arc. After Elliot is captured he refers to Guineas by name. Guineas then tells Hedge that Elliot knew his name even though he hadn't been told it. This causes Hedge to realize that Elliot must know Grace, who's the only one who could have told him. Hedge then turns this around on Elliot by only referring to Grace as "my sister", so when Elliot refers to her by name, it proves Elliot's spoken with Grace since Elliot and Hedge first met.
  • Info Drop: Sarah's last name was revealed in this manner; the principal used it to refer to her while rebuking her for breaking the dress code. The name? Brown.
  • Infodump: Shive is really thorough when it comes to describing the capabilities of Tedd's technology, the mechanics of alien and hybrid genetics, and more recently, magic. Anything left for the readers to guess about is practically guaranteed to be a Chekhov's Gun.
    • The so called Trapped in the Basement portion of New and Old Flames (so-called due to the just under two months real time spent infodumping in the Verres' basement) and the entire Hammerchlorians arc (essentially an entire arc devoted to nothing but infodumps and backstory exposition for Susan and her summoning abilities) are probably the most notorious example of Dan's tendency to slip into infodump territory.
  • Informed Ability: Susan's magical powers, which are seen exactly once and then aren't visible for many arcs. Then Susan explains that Nanase's powers are of a different order than hers ("Awakened" vs. "Dreaming") without going into detail. Until much later Susan explained her magical abilities with a big flashback. and she is properly "Awakened".
In El Goonish Shive: NewsPaper: Non-gratuitious Nudity - Part 3:
Sarah: I really want to get better at draw-ing people, and a book of nude people in everyday poses would help with that,
Susan: Just get yourself some adult magazines: It'd be less expensive and just slightly less dignified.
Sarah: Of course! Susan, you're a genius!
Susan: I was joking.