Girl Genius: Tropes A to E

aka: Tropes A-E
Tropes A to E | Tropes F to J | Tropes K to O | Tropes P to T | Tropes U to Z

Girl Genius provides examples of the following tropes:

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    A 
  • Absolute Cleavage:
    • Makes a brief and remarkably subtle appearance in the last panel of this page.
    • Also Vrinn in her first appearance, on account of having been dragged into the royal family's presence in the middle of the night.
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: Sturmhalten. Justified by a comment in one of the novels that when the sewer was originally constructed the city was much larger than it is now.
  • Accentuate the Negative:
    • The problem with kids these days.
      Zeuxippe: So much that they are trying to kill you over it!!
      Old Man Death: Always you gotta find problems!
    • And the younger guard:
      Guard 1: Of course... the castle is over there. We're over here, and those flaming things are coming back...
      Guard 2: Live in the moment, kid. Live in the moment.
  • Accidental Truth:
    • Theo's story at the beginning about the Dragon from Mars is a pure flight of imagination, but the Other's lab actually IS in the Heterodynes' basement and, if the novel's prologue adaption is accurate, the Other's base of operations is extra-terrestrial as well! Also, in this story Klaus got wasped. And soon enough...
    • The crowd once calls Zeetha the Baron's daughter, which according to Word of Godinvoked is actually true — if the sketch of her father which looks exactly like Klaus is to be believed. Gil has also been called "the gol-dang Storm King" there, and some time later we learned of the Baron's plans to instate him as the Storm King.
    • Near the climax of the Sturmhalten arc, Agatha sets off a giant holographic message. It is meant to tell everyone that Lucrezia was The Other, but selective editing by The Other or Tarvek made it appear to name Baron Wulfenbach instead. Which may have been shooting themselves in the foot, as by the end of the arc Baron Wulfenbach has been wasped and is under The Other's control.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity:
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach has immunity to many many things. Because his father "figures that a ruler should be... hard to kill", what with the people across all of Europe who're upset at killing that Mad Scientist or the process of bombing this town... which extends to his heir. This came in useful in the arc where Tarvek suffered a particularly nasty and rare disease — Gil was able to disregard the risk of infection.
    • Those with Smoke Knight training are also immune to ordinary soporifics, as seen with Violetta and Martelus during the tea break at the Corbettites. Unfortunately for Martelus, those training sessions didn't include immunity to a blackjack to the head.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Heterodyne stories frequently paint Klaus as a blithering idiot, but get away with it because he finds them hilarious.
  • Adorkable: Tarvek, when he's not fulfilling his Deadpan Snarker duties. Gil, around Agatha, especially early on.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The list of Heterodyne names in the crypt includes Caligula, the Red Heterodyne, the Black Heterodyne, Mordred, Oxalof, Ominox and Bob.
    • The world is full of people with weird names like Gilgamesh, Moloch, and Theopholous living right alongside people with ordinary names like Bill, Barry, and Agatha; no one comments on it or seems to consider it odd. Nor is there any reason they should do so: in the real-life 18th century, you could find such names as Hieronymous and Cloudesley alongside John or Peter.
    • In a side-story: Flopsy, Mopsy, and Nietzsche.
    • Lampshaded:
      Moloch: 'S wrong with my name? My mother picked it out of the whachamacalit — the Bible.
      Repairman: Um— Did she read it?
      Moloch: Nah. I had eight brothers. Nobody had time for stuff like that on the farm.
      Repairman: Oh, yeah. That's pretty common.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: Infiltrating the castle led to an epic one.
  • After Action Patch Up: After the fight with Dr. Merlot, Zola leaps to provide this for Gil.
  • Agent Peacock: Tarvek
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Castle Heterodyne. Although it's arguably a subversion: since the guy who built it was an evil psychotic maniac, it's actually working pretty much exactly as designed. Agatha's own little "dingbots" are a straighter case, since they've sometimes stopped listening to her. Judging from the background events, it seems a frequent problem that Sparks can't build anything without it going haywire.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Castle Wulfenbach
  • Alien Geometries: ...What is Agatha holding in Panel 3??note 
  • All Part of the Show: Several times:
    • A circus of Sparks pretending to be normal actors pretending to be Sparks.
    • A Jäger hiding among people who pretend to be Jägers.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach pretending to be a street actor pretending to be Gilgamesh Wulfenbach.
    • A Mongfish (Lucrezia's niece) pretending to be the lost Heterodyne-Mongfish heir to secure the Heterodyne inheritance from the real Heterodyne-Mongfish.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The Secret Blueprints and the expanded chapter-by-chapter Cast pages.
    • The novels also explain things not mentioned in the webcomic.
  • All Webbed Up: What the nyar-spider does to its prey.
  • Almost Kiss:
  • Alternate History: Perhaps better called Parallel History, because the Sparks have been around for long enough that even geography has been changed by their influence, and yet the world and its history are not completely dissimilar to ours:
    • There were still Mongol Hordes on cue, German is still spoken as a European lingua-franca, R(embrandt) Van Rijn was still a famous genius and Casanova a famous skirt-chaser, the [Weather] King was still a towering historical figure.
    • Additionally, the Storm King was called Andronicus Valois, and his being a contemporary of this world's Rembrandt means he probably really was the GG universe's answer to our Sun King (Louis XIV). This means the Valois line was still around and in charge fifty years after power had passed to the Bourbons in our world.
    • There is still a powerful church with not one, but seven popes, and, judging by a brief mention each with their own faction, apparently. note 
    • And there's "The Autonomous Library" built by Voltaire.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Together with the above Alternate History.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The Jägers have, throughout the comic, been implied to be the most Badass Supersoldiers to have been cooked up by any Spark in Europa. But it turns out Klaus Wulfenbach has a Supersoldier race of his own called the Dreen; the sight of just one of these makes a Jägergeneral panic and desperately carry Agatha to safety, proclaiming "Doze tings iz unschtoppable! Vorse — dey's scary!"
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted with Gil and Zeetha. They have a Strong Family Resemblance, but you have to be looking pretty close to notice it. Fans assumed for a long time that they were just ordinary siblings or half siblings (which made the timeline a little muddled) until the Foglios confirmed they're fraternal twins.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Anyone infected with Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation or Vericus Pantiliax's Chromatic Death, although as the names of those ailments may suggest, the affected person didn't start out that way and won't be that way long before something bad happens. Fans are now calling the sequence ending here the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat Sequence. Yowza! Or Eeyyooww-ZAP!
    • Jägermonsters, and many other kinds of constructs. Mamma Gkika's skin color changes naturally, though she has some control over it and has stuck with a humanlike pink for a while in order to blend in all schneaky-like.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Bangladesh DuPree's pirate crew is entirely female. Confirmed in the novels.
    • Geisterdamen (spider-riding, at that).
    • Zeetha's mysterious tribe. Lots of Amazons.
    • Same goes for Heliolux Airship Fleet's flagship crew. Which is a communication and traffic control unit, so not directly involved in combat, although the white-red uniformed Commander remarks that they'll miss the fighting. On the next page she shouts to the entering Jäger that they're non-combatants. It's pointed out that although the Heliolux ships are mainly used for long-range communication, at close range the high-intensity light beams they use can also melt people and buildings.
    • The Devil Dolls, a foot soldier unit in the Wulfenbach army that are comprised of what is likely a series of female constructs of some sort that look somewhat like female tin soldiers, and were likely absorbed from the force remnants of some other spark that the Baron defeated. They're seen running from a monstrosity that came out of the ground when Castle Heterodyne really lets loose. They were likely a competent force against the general foes the Empire faced, but seriously... The Castle. Two are later seen on a guard detail on Castle Wulfenbach after the Time Skip, so they're still around.
  • Amazon Chaser:
    • All the Jägers want Von Pinn due to her tough-as-nails nature.
    • Higgs is a literal case.
  • Amulet of Dependency: Agatha's trilobite amulet, though it started out as something entirely different, has become one.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The "squirrel".
    • The copy of Lucrezia stuck inside Zola.
    • Agatha when Lucrezia is in control.
    • Lucrezia when Agatha is in control.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: It was suggested that Agatha's grandmother married one of the old Heterodynes, to protect her family from harm. It apparently later backfired, when she taught her sons, Bill and Barry, how to use their Sparky powers for good rather than evil, and in the end poisoned her husband.
  • And Show It to You: Invoked to get Bang's attention.
  • Anger Born of Worry:
    • By Baron Wulfenbach, towards Gil.
      Klaus: LACKWIT! How dare you put yourself at risk!
    • Pix is furious while Abner is away, showing Gil and Bang "Agatha's" grave. Although she explains she's more angry that he "cut in on her act." More so in the novelization.
    • Higgs. He has a very specific reason to be upset about Zeetha running around fighting instead of letting her injuries heal.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
  • Annoying Arrows: No surprise, they are just that to a Jäger.
  • Anticlimax: The final "battle" of Revenge of the Weasel Queen.
  • Another Dimension: The Geisterdamen describe themselves as being from one; Skifander just might be from one; and the Things that peer in on the time-stopped Mechanicsburg seem to inhabit one - or more.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In a world filled with lightning guns, mind controlling bug robots, and other insane science, Tarvek utterly refuses to believe Gil's flying machine can stay aloft without a gas bag.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Attempted by Gil when he suggests Agatha could already be under the Other's control without realising it. Averted when she just spits a Shut Up, Hannibal! retort right back at him.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • When Othar and Sanaa are wandering the Castle, and she thinks things are all right.
      Othar: We're in Castle Heterodyne with exploding collars around our necks, caught between a fake Heterodyne and a real one (as well as assorted criminals, maniacs, and various monsters), and I suspect that even if we found any beer in here, it would be evil, or at least flat.
    • Also involving Othar: "De dirigible iz in flames, everyboddyz dead an' I've lost my hat." To be fair, hats are a big deal to the Jägers whereas arson and murder are hobbies.
    • Another example:
      Professor Tiktoffen: Franz here liked turning people into beetles. Zonia believed that orphan blood had medicinal properties. Krag put his feet on my bed.
    • A villain learns why you must never punch a lady, or wake her up too early in the morning.
    • Now why would anyone want to kill Klaus Wulfenbach? Let's see...:
      Gil: Why? Because Wulfenbach troops turned her village into owls. Or maybe we deposed her favorite mad prince, or hung her lover for piracy, or banished the Heterodyne Boys, or poisoned the well, or raised the price of herring.
  • Art Evolution:
    • The earlier strips have bizarre anatomy issues and ugly gradient coloring. (Also after the first volume there was a great deal of uneven inking.) These problems eventually disappear.
    • Volume 1 was originally published in black-and-white. Volume 2 saw the introduction of color, in searing neon gradient fills. The coloring eventually settled down and volume 1 was eventually recolored in a somber desaturated palette. The result cleverly mirrored Agatha's psyche, as her perceptions are dulled in volume 1, overloaded in volume 2, and by volume 4 settle into a happy medium.
  • Ascended Fanon: In universe, about Von Pinn really being Lucrezia Mongfish.
  • Aside Glance: Plenty.
  • Assassin Outclassin': After exiting an apparently diverted teleporting device Tweedle barehandedly takes on six Smoke Knights, killing them and his cousin Leopold, with their own daggers
    • The Smoke Knights are also apparently no match for a vigilant Corbettite Monk. The ease in which the monks dispose of the assassins is almost casual.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: This is crucial into getting the Jägerkin in line:
    • Gil uses it on Captain Vole. (Twice.)
    • Boris earns the respect of the Jägergenerals by beating their location out of a messenger.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: During the play in Sturmhalten, just as Tarvek is saying "If the mistress were here, she'd say—", he's interrupted by Agatha (in-character as Lucrezia) yelling "KNEEL, 'YOU MISERABLE MINION!''"
  • Attack Hello: Maxim is just saying "hello".
  • Audience Participation: The podcasts/radio dramas, where the audience finishes characters' titles ("Agatha Heterodyne—" "—Girl genius!"), fill in crowd noises, and so on.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Phil Foglio is well-known (unabashedly so) for drawing his female characters with rather large "assets". But it's his wife (and co-author) who loves to get Agatha into the "lacy underthings". She's a big fan of Victorian-era undergarments.
    • Not to mention paper dolls.
    • There's also the matter of all the handsome shirtless men running around. Which leads into "Who thought having TWO boyfriends was a good idea!?" The Cheshire Cat Grin says it all.
    • Phil admits the only reason the Jägers became recurring characters is because he really likes drawing them.
  • Author Avatar: The creators, Phil and Kaja, are both apparently natives of the story's world who, it would seem, will eventually meet, marry, publish a... controversial account of Agatha's deeds, and flee into our world with it to continue it safe from Agatha as a supposedly fictional comic.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Klaus; he clawed his way to being ruler of Europe atop God knows how many others and it shows.
    • His son; when thrust into authority, Gil's asskicking genes more than rise to the challenge.
    • The Jägergenerals.
    • More generally — in a semi-feudal world ruled over by extremely intelligent nutjobs, it's the one at the top of the castle you want to watch out for. They're in that spot for a reason.
  • Awesome but Impractical: Genetically engineering a super intelligent cat so that he can persuade other cats to act as spies, messengers, saboteurs, etc. Unfortunately cats have an attention span that measures in microseconds they’ll do what you want until they fall asleep or see something move
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • The love/hate relationship between Gil, Agatha, and Tarvek runs so deep that a list of specific examples would probably end up getting its own page. Klaus and Gil, as well: when Klaus sends a small army to take him prisoner as all hell's about to break loose in Mechanicsburg, Gil's reaction is "he does care!"
    • Tarvek, who has maintained for years that he really really hates his childhood friend and rival Gil (who is mind-controlled after he is captured by the Baron), had an adorable one.
  • Ax-Crazy: Many examples.
    • The most prominent is probably Bangladesh DuPree, whose child-like delight in slaughter is frequently Played for Laughs.
      • She is well-behaved around the Baron, and eventually Gil, but makes it clear that she tolerates their 'no unnecessary killing' rule only because this inevitably leads to bigger, better violence than she could find by cruising around on her own.
    • The Jägermonsters were hand-picked by the Heterodynes for this quality (plus Undying Loyalty and an ability to make said Heterodynes laugh), but they kicked out Vole because he manages to be ax-crazy even by their standards.
    • The majority of Sparks, when in their "madness place", lose their grip on morality (and reality and various other grips). In the backstory, the Heterodynes (with the exception of the Heterodyne Boys and Agatha) deserve special mention for being batshit insane even by Spark standards:

    B 
  • Baa Bomb: Some battering rams are this.
  • Back from the Dead:
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
  • Badass: Most of the main cast fit into several subtropes; many of the secondary cast fit at least one.
  • Badass Boast: Lots and lots.
    • Gil gives us one of the more effective examples.
    • Gil can also keep his boasts very short:
      Gil: This is not a trick! I did not get lucky! I am Gilgamesh Wulfenbach — AND I AM IN CONTROL!
    • He also gets a similar one moments earlier, facing down an entire army of war clanks alone:
      Gil: I am Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, son of Klaus. I will say this only once—leave now, or you will die.
    • Dr. Sun's threat towards DuPree. Notable not for being elaborate, but for such conviction that it frightens an unrepentant Ax-Crazy psycho.
    • Zola is a beautiful chemical killing machine.
    • Tarvek uses a very short (but effective) one on Gil:
      Tarvek: ... You came running in and saw someone you hate and fear trying to kill her — of course you reacted.
      Gil: I do not fear you.
      Tarvek: Really? You should.
    • Agatha, showing that she learned the "hamming the bunch of unruly minions into obedience" part of her family business.
    • Another from Agatha; very dramatic.
    Agatha: I do not need rescuing. I AM THE HETERODYNE!
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Most of the Spark characters.
    • Also notable is Jorgi, one of the few literate Jägers, who chose to become a Super Soldier because reading so much philosophy left him feeling the need to break things.
  • Badass Family:
    • Heterodynes are a family of powerful Sparks with a signature hereditary ability of "heterodyning" or humming a specific way to completely tune out all distraction, who were feared and hated even among others of their own kind, to say nothing about the rest of the continent. They created Castle Heterodyne – an omnipotent sentient Supervillain Lair with a dark sense of humor and Jägermonsters – scientifically modified Super Soldiers, completely loyal to the house Heterodyne. Then Bill and Barry happened. They redeemed their family’s name by travelling across Europa and defeating monsters and evil Sparks, and were considered the greatest heroes of their generation. There is also the latest scion, Agatha – a powerful Spark in her own right who is just beginning to make her indelible mark on the world.
    • Klaus and Gilgamesh Wulfenbach. Klaus returned to Europa only with his infant son in tow and still managed to conquer a good chunk of the continent by himself, apparently for its own good. He is single-handedly keeping peace in his Empire by keeping rampaging madboys and arrogant nobles in check. He and Gilgamesh are both powerful Sparks and very potent fighters, to the point Jägers are scared of them. If rumors are true then there is also Baron's long lost Badass Normal daughter - princess Zeetha.
    • Valois/Sturmvoraus/von Blitzengaard family. Their ancestor was one of the greatest kings of all time - Andronicus Valois. Currently family consists mainly of Manipulative Bastards, backstabbers and McNinjas. Most prominent members are Tarvek — once again a powerful Spark, excellent schemer and a good fighter and Violetta — a Smoke Knight and an Impossible Thief.
  • Badass Grandma:
    • The head of the Valois / Sturmvoraus / von Blitzengard family, Tarvek, Violetta and Tweedle's grandmother, is one by inference, given that all members of the family, whom Tarvek said were so unruly that the only way to keep them in line was to kill them, listen to her and live in fear of her wrath.
    • A conversation between Zeetha and Higgs implies the former's grandmother is one as well.
  • Badass Grandpa:
  • Badass Labcoat: Agatha while setting up the really crazy device to fix up Tarvek.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Baron Klaus Wulfenbach has them as regular wear.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach has worn them too.
    • And Agatha, of course.
    • Tarvek can be counted on to sport one.
    • Krosp got his from the circus.
  • Badass Normal: Many of the non-Spark supporting characters.
    • Axel Higgs, Airman 3rd Class is assuredly badass, but turns out not to be 'normal'.
    • Zeetha. Versus a pirate stronghold (she won). Versus a demon-horse-thing-monster. (She didn't win, but it cheated by growing a new mouth and tentacles after she cut its head off.)
      • It's implied that the pirate stronghold Zeetha destroyed actually belonged to Bangladesh, of all people. That alone ups her Badass Factor by roughly 5000.
    • Bangladesh DuPree, and Violetta. Moloch von Zinzer seems to be heading towards this, somewhat unwillingly.
    • Ardsley Wooster has climbed from 'competent servant' to 'battle butler' to 'James Bond is a chump'.
    • Sanaa is pretty badass when she needs to be.
  • Badass Princess: Not only is Zeetha a warrior princess, she doesn't seem to be aware there's any other kinds of princess.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Sanaa and Othar do this to Tarvek, mistaking him for Gilgamesh Wulfenbach.
  • Bar Brawl: Apparently there's one every evening in Mamma Gkika's. Except on Thursdays; that's poetry slam night.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Da Boyz and the Jägergenerals.
    • Klaus and the generals were having fun at some points of the wasp attack.
    • The Heterodyne Boys were a more literal example.
  • Battle Butler: Ardsley Wooster and Boris Dolokhov, though, technically speaking, neither is an actual butler. Wooster is a spy posing as a valet or gentleman's gentleman; Dolokhov is more of an aide-de-camp, librarian, accountant, and general manager.
  • Battle Couple: To an extent, Agatha and Gil during the wasp outbreak on Castle Wulfenbach. When she, Gil, and Tarvek were battling with and through Castle Heterodyne, they were a Battle Threesome.
  • Battle Cry:
    • The official one for the Jägers: "Ve hunt!" (Justified, seeing as "Jäger" is German for "Hunter".)
    • Agatha during the Battle of Sturmhalten: "SHOWTIME!"
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: One of Theo DuMedd's methods of getting into a lab on Castle Wulfenbach without suspicion was claiming to be "Mimmoth exterminators". He claimed it worked every time, though the only time he attempted it, he just happened to walk in on Gil experimenting.
  • Bear Hug: Mama Gkika gives Agatha, newly crowned as the Heterodyne, one when they first meet.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Agatha is attacked by a large group of angry bears...and they're armed.
    • Eventually Averted, however. They're Krosp's bears, created to serve him.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played with. Otherwise good-looking folks can undergo injuries, sickness, fatigue or drugs that visibly mess them up.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: A monster lurking in the dungeons of the Blitzengaard fortress leaves Agatha's party unscathed after being given the inversion of the standard Frankenstein rant (you know, the one about being its creator and ordering it to do your bidding).
  • Behemoth Battle: The fight between Franz Scortchmaw, the Bone Gnawer of the Heterodynes, and "Pretty Boy" (no name given, despite his gentledragonly manners). Rather low on the collateral damage for a monster fight, though.
  • Behind the Black:
    • Gil didn't notice Agatha launching herself at him while he was yelling at Tarvek?
    • Lampshaded when Jenka points out that they should have heard the army of giant clanks (helpfully called War Stompers too) marching up to their tower.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge:
  • Betty and Veronica: Gil & Tarvek, to Agatha.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Agatha is a nice person, polite and easy-going and willing to put up with a lot. But she has grown increasingly formidable throughout the series: latecomers like Martellus are unpleasantly surprised to discover that she is not to be crossed.
    • Gilgamesh is usually rather pleasant and doesn't bully people or use force. When his temper snaps, however, he's terrifying. And destructive.
    • Tarvek is the blue to Gil's red. He plays with the trope a bit - he is not an innately nice person. Being good is an effort for him, and if he's angered, he'll stop making that effort. And unlike Agatha or Gil, you can't be sure he'll accept a surrender.
    • Airman Higgs is stoic, reliable, polite and so unobtrusive that he's almost invisible. He's called Unstoppable for his combat skills when it's 'just business': you do not want to make it personal.
  • BFG:
  • Bifauxnen: Grantz, Baron Wulfenbach's monster hunter. Even Gil apparently gets this one wrong, as he refers to Grantz as a "he" early on.
  • Big Book of War: Agatha brains Zola with one of these, entitled Using Found Objects as Weapons. The sound effect when she beans them is "TOME!"
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Baron's Hoomhoffers, giant beetles that function as living tanks and clank squashers.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Big Damn Kiss:
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Castle Heterodyne, and the Wulfenbach airship.
  • Big "NO!": Several times.
    • Crashing Gil's "falling machine" into Castle Wulfenbach.
    • Zeetha, after she finally finds someone who knows about her homeland Skifander, but doesn't know where it is, breaks out in a rage.
    • Right after Agatha breaks Merlot's mind with the enormity of his mistakes.
    • Agatha when she gets interrupted again in fixing the castle.
  • Big Screwed-Up Family:
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Many names of people, races, places, etc., make more sense if one knows a little German; for instance, "Jägermonster" can be interpreted as "hunting monster".
    • The control panel on the Clank Agatha finds in the woods is in German.
    • "Si vales valeo" is Latin for "If you are well, I am well", a phrase used in ancient Roman times to start writing a letter like "Dear Mister Smith". In the world of Girl Genius, it has a more literal meaning.
    • The contraption Agatha is building here is named "Şoarece"; this is Romanian for "mouse" (not "the mouse", that would be "şoarecele") which is, in the same time, a bilingual bonus, and a genius bonus: Mechanicsburg is in-story located in Transylvania, and the real-life Transylvania is today part of Romania.
  • Black and Gray Morality: Agatha and Klaus are both sympathetically gray and fighting for perfectly reasonable reasons. There are several villains that are clearly black, and both of them want those destroyed.
  • Blatant Lies: "Aid me! I am the Agatha girl!"
  • Bleached Underpants: A variant, in that prior to Girl Genius, Phil Foglio was the author and artist of the XXXenophile series of pornographic comics, and unlike many artists with a similar background makes no attempt to hide it. However, before XXXenophile, he was already well known for What's New? with Phil and Dixie for Dragon Magazine, and Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, and did book covers and illustrations (most memorably, for Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series), as well as the classic Con Reports and a trio of excellent, funny updates of old '60s humor comics for DC Comics at about the same time as XXXenophile.

    A lot of Girl Genius is made up of brilliant little ideas that Foglio previously used in his pornographic work. The Jägers' speech pattern and dental work? From XXXenophile: "A Beautiful Tail" and "My Favorite Oitling". Zeetha's jewelry, with the little faces that mimic whatever her current facial expression is? From XXXenophile: "Blue Opal".
  • Blessed Are the Cheesemakers: Cheese appears often, and sometimes seems to be employed as a symbol of romance.
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Spark itself. If you have it, you can warp the laws of physics with the contents of the average Store Cupboard. Bad part? You go insane to varying degrees whenever you do it. The natural result of that is that most Sparks, and Agatha in particular, have to deal with being shunned, used, or attacked by most everyone they meet. And that's if they don't get killed by one of their own creations. Or get the Torches and Pitchforks treatment.
    • Agatha before her breakthrough, when she wore the locket to suppress her Spark. It undoubtedly saved her life, but it also made her completely incompetent and destroyed her self-esteem.
  • Bling of War: Most troops are trying to look cool — some, too hard. Jägers tend to dress in less unified fancy clothes, with their own peculiar taste. Of "Da Boyz", Maxim wears the most fashionable set — he's an ex-cavalry officer, after all.
  • Blondes Are Evil: Played straight with Lucrezia and Zola; played with by Von Pinn. Averted with Agatha (who's a strawberry blonde, therefore crossing into Heroes Want Redheads).
  • Blue Blood: The Nobility is one of the biggest opponents to the Baron. House Wulfenbach is of nobility, but low ranking. As such, the Blue Bloods see him as an upstart and a tyrant who has illegitimately seized most of their power. The Knights of Jove try to use the legend of the Storm King to reclaim it. The most notable Blue Blood characters are Zulenna and Tarvek.
  • Body-Count Competition: By the Jägergenerals, of course.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Othar, as well as the Jägers.
  • Boring but Practical: Moloch is easily one of the most rational people in the strip, being an Only Sane Man of course, and a bit of The Engineer. His ideas are typically very un-flashy, but they get the job done. Much to the ire of the sparks and mad scientists that surround him:
    Moloch: Why don't we just move this winch? There should be enough cable. And it looks strong enough that we could lower everybody on a platform.
    (group death glare)
    Moloch: ...and then, at the bottom, it could unfold into a... a giant caterpillar or... something...
    Mittelmind: No, no. You've already taken all the joy out of it.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve:
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow:
    Zeetha: Hey, Skifander's patron Goddess is Ashtara, she who controls, among other things, fertility. Our holy-days are fun! (Cha cha cha!)
  • Brain Bleach: Remember, the strip is full of Mad Scientists.
    Snaug: ... spiky trap-doors... torture chambers... man-eating bats... impertinent mechanical squid...
    Mittelmind: Oh, there is some psychological damage, but I always wipe her memory for her birthday.
    Snaug: Happy birthday to meeeeeee...
  • Braggart Boss: Minus the fact people of the street think he is a hero, Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) fits the mold nicely.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "Jäger orphans?"
  • Breather Episode: Side stories every once in a while.
  • Brick Joke:
    • A long time after Agatha is convinced that her battle merry-go-round is too dangerous to construct, Bang is diagnosed by Doctor Sun with a concussion for explaining that her injuries were sustained while destroying a merry-go-round.
      Agatha: It could be a really evil town...
    • In the Cinderella special, the "evil step-mother" comments that Agatha could win the kingdom with a dead rat and a houseplant. At the end, she bribes the king, a cat, with a dead rat and potted catnip.
      Evil stepmother: Hy knew hit!invoked
    • Gil throws Othar out of an airship, and when Agatha gets mad, he assures her that once she gets to know Othar, she'll do the same. An hour later, she does, and mentions, "I owe Gil an apology." About ten chapters later, she gives it to him.
      Agatha: I got so mad at you, and then, within the hour, I threw him out an airship too!
      Gil: And you felt bad for throwing—
      Agatha: I felt bad for yelling at you!
    • "But why are there mechanical squid in the cistern?" Well, two years and two volumes earlier...
    • Steam-powered feet? Steam-powered feet!
    • Remember the guard slime? Someone isn't so Genre Savvy.
    • The Red Heterodyne sandwich in "Maxim Buys a Hat" apparently refers to the time that ancestor invaded the Unseen Empire, and took two years getting back to the surface because he had developed "a taste for bat sandvitches"
    • Probably the longest one yet. In Castle Wulfenbach we meet Doctor Dim, a lobotomized spark who makes toy bears. 11 years later we meet the bears he made before he was captured by the baron!

    C 
  • Caffeine Bullet Time: Agatha has it. It is implied to be a Heterodyne thing.
  • Call Back:
    • After their reunion, one of the first things Agatha needs to get off her mind is an apology to Gil... for yelling at him. Lampshaded when even Gil takes a while to remember about the incident. (It'd been a very hectic few months/years.)
    • "Did you know he really likes waffles?"
    • Also, the circumstances of Gil and Agatha seem to be similar: he showed up and got disapproval for killing Dr. Beetle, even though "He threw a BOMB at me!", and then Agatha made the impersonator break down into tears, even though she'd tried to usurp her.
    • While creeping through the Sturmhalten sewers, the conversation turns towards "Red" Heterodyne, an ancestor of Agatha's, who was lost in a cave and would have come out sooner had he not developed a taste for bat meat. Jump forward to the "Maxim Buys A Hat" interlude, and one of the sandwiches ordered to Old Man Death is the "Red Heterodyne", which involves a bat on a sandwich.
    • Near the beginning of the comic Agatha promises a lobotomized spark to help protect his collection of hand-made toy bears. Turns out he's Krosp's creator, Vapnoople, and the bears he is trying to protect is actualy an army of sentient bear constructs programed to serve Krosp.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Done by Zola under the influence of a massive overdose of battle stimulants, resulting in a cry of "Chophead Tinybits!"
  • Came Back Wrong: Subverted. Apparently being brought Back from the Dead causes memory loss (as we have been repeatedly told) and frequently drives the recipient Ax-Crazy. However, when it happens to Tarvek, all it takes to bring him out of a homicidal rage is the following:
    Moloch: Uh... hey, check it out.
    Tarvek: Good Heavens.
  • Can't Live Without You:
    • When Gil supports both Agatha and Tarvek when they get infected by Hogfarb's Immolation.
    • Tweedle pretty much calls the trope by its name when he explains how he hopes to make Agatha compliant by linking her metabolism to his, so that she can't leave his side and can't kill him. Unfortunately for him, he dreadfully underestimated the Heterodyne girl; soon enough, she had transfered the dependancy to a wasp weasel pet.
  • Cartwright Curse: Being a suitor to Agatha is hazardous to your health.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Quoth Klaus just as he activates a stasis-bomb right in the middle of Mechanicsburg:
    Klaus: Do you have any tea?
  • The Cat Came Back: Othar. He's very hard to shake off, especially when he has set his eyes on a "spunky sidekick". Throw him in a pit, he'll walk back through another door a few seconds later. Lampshaded by Tarvek after he and Violetta tries to escape him with a "down and up" (that doesn't work):
    Tarvek: This is why he's a hero. He's very, very good at this.
  • Catch Phrase:
    • Agatha: "You'll like him."
    • Tarvek: "I can't [really] complain."
    • Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!): "Foul!"
    • Jägers eagerly sensing an impending battle: VE HUNT!!!
  • Cat Fight: Gender-flipped (but still played for Mr. Fanservice in-comic): Tarvek vs Gil. Complete with hair-pulling!
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • Discussed by Othar and Klaus.
      Othar Tryggvassen: What, tyrant? Does your empire give you no pleasure?
      Klaus Wulfenbach: No. It gives me no pleasure. Politics always annoyed me. Now I do it every day. I haven't seen my wife in years. My old friends are gone. I haven't traveled or explored. At least with the Heterodynes we had the adventures. The occasional fight. Now it's send in the armies, then the bureaucrats with mops. It's become an old formula.
    • And then by Master Payne.
      Master Payne: For all we know, those things are some new kind of revenant — and the only thing to do is kill them. Could you burn down people — women and children — even if you knew they had become monsters? ...The Baron can. The Baron has. I respect him for that, but I don't want to be him. No sane man would.

    D 
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy:
    • Castle Heterodyne. To the point where once it finds out that Othar Tryggvassen is a hero, it immediately dumps him down a bottomless pit. Of course, the castle knows all about heroes...
      Castle Heterodyne: Oh tosh, if he was a real hero—
      Othar Tryggvassen: (comes through the door dusting himself off) This is an annoying place, isn't it?
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach seems to have taken a line from the castle. To ensure that Tarvek makes it out of Castle Wulfenbach safely, he handcuffs Tarvek to Othar, shoves them both in a broken flying machine, and drops it out a window.
      Gilgamesh: He's always falling out of airships and stuff—so if you're with him—I know you'll get away! (drops them) Oh, and LET ME KNOW HOW HE DOES IT!
  • Dark Action Girl:
  • Dartboard of Hate: Violetta had one after she was reassigned to Mechanicsburg.
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation: Klaus' promising to explain everything to Gil is somewhere between this and Tempting Fate, ensuring that something would happen to prevent it. Klaus has been subsequently wasped and frozen in time, and the imprint of him living in Gil's head doesn't seem particularly inclined to share information.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Moveit #11 makes the user a LOT stronger and faster. It is also fatal or nearly fatal to the user.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Where to begin?
    • Krosp and Moloch seem to be in the story to snark at it, but almost everybody else gets their turn.
    • Sometimes Dr. Sun has such moments.
    • And Zeetha.
  • Death Glare:
  • Death Is Cheap: The horrifying tendency towards murder that Sparks possess is made slightly less horrifying when you find out they can (under some circumstances) bring the dead back to life. Examples:
  • Death of the Hypotenuse:
    • Lars, anyone?
    • The Castle Heterodyne arc is an inversion of this, since a new hypotenuse came into play and a major chunk of a story arc was spent preventing his death.
    • And one of the "what if" stories even lampshaded this topic in amusing fashion. Why two boyfriends? (Cheshire Cat Grins from two female cast members and female co-author.) "Deal with it."
  • Death Ray: Just about every Spark has made one or something like one—though no-one but Agatha redesigns the landscape with them during sleep. Agatha considers Gil's NOT having built a death ray gross negligence of the highest order, going so far as to say "what's wrong with him?" He takes this criticism to heart, and most of his later inventions are somewhere between "Mobile Heavy Artillery" and "Force of Nature".
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Old Man Death puts it best: "I'm just a human. Rode with the Jägers. Never. Lost. A. Fight." No wonder they covet his Nice Hat.
  • Defensive "What?": Baron Wulfenbach utters one when Dr. Sun calls him out for leaving his hospital bed in a "Medical Transport" clank.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Volume 1, "The Beetleburg Clank", makes wonderful use of this. Before Agatha's locket is removed, the comic is almost entirely in grayscale; the only color is some blue around the sound effects of Sparks' machines (and Agatha's Green Eyes). Right after the locket is removed, the colors are present but dim, as her Spark starts to assert itself although she still gets headaches — but in her most Spark-ish moments, the colors are bright and clear. By Volume 2, when the headaches have stopped, the entire comic is in full color. One flashback in Volume 2 shows the color fading the moment Agatha puts her locket back on. Originally, the first volume was black and white (it was a print comic) and that was the end of it. The retconned color is just full of symbolism.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "To that person, I would give body and soul... and body. Do you understand?"
  • Destination Defenestration: One of Martellus's advisors defies his order and then starts talking down to him. So Martellus shuts him up.
  • Detached Sleeves: Sleipnir; Zola
  • Determinator: Zeetha arrives at Agatha’s bedroom to wake her for training only to find her strapped into a fighting-augmentation exoskeleton. It took her 15 minutes to beat the machine. During which it knocked her through two windows, into the pig sty, the duck pond, the beehives, a vat of oatmeal, and down the main chimney.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Castle Heterodyne is able to instantly crush anyone in a "live" room, with extraordinary precision. Naturally, much of the action takes place in rooms where the Castle isn't yet repaired, so it can't help out.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Happens all the time. Just when the characters think their plans are set, just when the audience thinks it knows what is going to happen next, some Chekhov's Gun will be taken off the mantle and fired, some character who we haven't seen for several months or years will suddenly reappear to immensely consequential effect, or some machine will malfunction at exactly the wrong (or right) time, radically reorienting the direction of the plot in a very short amount of time.
  • Dirty Business: Barry, in the flashback where he gave Agatha her locket, is crying over the effect it will have on her.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: During the Corbettite train ride, Agatha takes in Lady Margarella Selnikov, a fugitive pro-Tarvek holdout in the Storm King Conspiracy after Martellus strongarms his way in. Since Agatha herself is also trying to travel incognito, she can't go the Big Showy Clank route in thwarting any would-be assassins for Margarella. So she instead hatches a plan to distract any intruders with the ruse that she is in the middle of changing dress and is clad only in a bath towel. After she shrieks and flusters the propriety of the intruder, they either walk away, or push the issue only to be gunned down by a death ray-packing Krosp. After several botches, it finally works.
    • Hilariously, Zeetha and Higgs being Distracted by the Sexy is the only reason they made it out of Mechanicsburg before the time stop.
  • Distressed Damsel: Zola, for a while. Considering what happens later, it may have been completely an act. Even at the time she appears to intentionally pick up the Distress Ball to draw attention from Gil to herself. Which makes the spider hazard, and its resolution, a satisfying comeuppance.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Dingbots!
  • Doctor's Orders: Both Dr. Sun and Mama Gkika believe in their authority in medicinal matters.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • A Dog Ate My Homework: "Sorry, professor, my latest experiment ate my lecture notes..."
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom:
  • Dope Slap:
  • Double Entendre:
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Professor Tiktoffen was everybody's inside man.
  • Dramatic Stutter: When Otilia's body isn't in the best shape. He-he-hhello, S.H.O.D.A.N.:
    Otilia: Yesss—but let's ju/ust add the next step, sha/all we?
    • Also present with Tinka.
  • Drill Tank: The Deep 6 Model; also something of a Punny Name.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Less jerk and more questionable bedside manner. Agatha to Tarvek.
    • Dr. Sun also has that reputation.
      Selnikov: Ah, yes. That "Sun-ny bedside manner" everybody talks about.
  • The Dreaded: It's strongly suggested that the old Heterodynes were this to the whole continent. Even after Bill and Barry redeemed their family's name and there was no Heterodyne in residence, people of Europa felt much safer with Mechanicsburg completely disarmed.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Gil suffered from this regularly until he ascended to his father's title. "What do I have to do?! I just took down an entire army of clanks, and still I get treated like a halfwit child!"
  • Due to the Dead: Especially Maxim to Lars, which also qualifies as a Crowning Moment of Awesome.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Rustics say about Geisterdamen that they cause revenants, steal children, blight crops — the usual, right? Then again, Two out of Three Ain't Bad.
  • Dynamic Entry: Zeetha, defining "good timing".
    Professor Mezzasalma: And who the devil is this?!
  • Dysfunction Junction:
    • The Sturmvoraus family. Dear Gott, the Sturmvoraus family. Their name, when translated out of German, means "Storm ahead" (in the sense of a weather forecast) so that's no surprise.
      Tarvek: You don't last very long in our family unless you've got a good nose for intrigue.

      Tarvek: The only way to keep my family in line would be to bury them in a row.
    • And then there's the Mongfish family, which is at least as dysfunctional as the Sturmvorauses (with the same occasional distribution of good guys).
    • The old Heterodynes were no pushovers in this. See Axe Crazy and Big Screwed-Up Family.
    • There's only one dynasty that doesn't seem prone to it: the Wulfenbachs. And, in a way, that's worrying.

    E 
  • Edible Bludgeon: The granddaughter of an old shopkeeper, whose hat Maxim wanted as a trophy, threatened to hit him with a giant kosher salami, if he wouldn't tell her why he put a Jägermonster (Maxim) through a window.
    Old Man Death: AAAH! Not with the schlognwurst!note  It's expensive!
  • Eldritch Abomination: There are extra-dimensional horrors scary enough to dissuade even Mad Scientists like the Heterodynes from messing with time. When time is disturbed, they notice. They worry even the castle.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: During the attack on Mechanicsburg, an airship crew realizes that the city's anti-aircraft defences are still operational. They begin frantically throwing everything they can overboard in an effort to gain altitude. This eventually includes their employer, who threatened to have them all killed for running away.
  • Emperor Scientist: The entire world is run by these. Baron Wulfenbach is an especially fine specimen.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Knights of Jove/Storm King Conspiracy is not as unified as one might think... Some of them are even on Agatha's side.
  • Enfant Terrible: Not quite yet, but when Gil rides out with the "devil dogs" to defend Castle Heterodyne until it's all the way fixed and goes into full-on ape-shit Spark mode, this conversation happens:
    Council Member: But—I thought the new Heterodyne was a girl!
    Vanamonde: She is. That's just the boyfriend.
    Council Member: That's—
    Vanamonde: Uh-huh.
    Council Member: We're...we're going to have to break out those little iron cages for their children, aren't we?
  • Entitled Bastard: The sneering Strinbeck orders the crew to keep Zola's pink zeppelin in Mechanicsburg airspace, even though the crew has observed the reactivation of Mechanicsburg's surface-to-air defense net. A subsequent order to dump useless objects overboard for an emergency climb suddenly becomes Destination Defenestration.
  • Epic Hail:
    • Agatha's signal from Sturmhalten.
    • The Doom Bell.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The old Heterodynes have been described as monsters. But as bad as they were, they did at least care about their family and minions.
    • It might be a bit of a stretch to label them as "evil", but it's clear that Professor Mittelmind and Fraulein Snaug genuinely care about each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Averted in the radio dramas: Othar's query to a pirate captain of "Isn't that a bit sexist?" is responded to by saying that they're evil, they're basically politically incorrect for a living!
    • And Bang apparently hates mind control. Run amok and cause pointless destruction? She'll want to date you! But go in for mind control, or allow it to be done to you...uh-uh!
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Discussed, with crashing airships.
    Goomblast: Vy dun it blow op?
    Other General: 'Cos dot only hoppens in dose cheap novels, hyu old fool.
  • Everyone Can See It: Almost everyone can tell that Gil and Agatha are quite besotted with each other, sometimes just by hearing them talk about each other. The trope is played with, because the two involved also see it but can't do much about it.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Castle Heterodyne. Also, again, Showtime!
  • Evil Albino: The Geisterdamen, an order of ghostly-white priestesses who are in the service of the Other.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Or Evil-Detecting Weasel in this case — the "Wasp eaters", an engineered construct species designed to detect and sometimes kill Slaver Wasps. Were nearly useless before, since slaver-wasped people turned into rather conspicuous mindless Revenants. However, it's been discovered that the zombie revenants were an aberration, and the true intent of the slaver wasps was to create completely hidden sleeper agents, which the wasp eaters are quite useful in detecting.
  • Evil Gloating: Sparks in general, and particularly evil ones, seem to be fond of doing this.
  • Evil Hand: May be a side effect of the Spark, as Agatha demonstrates.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Zola and Lucrezia each discovered this while trying to manipulate the other.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Or sometimes, not so much an evil laugh as an insane one; basically every Spark at some point while they're in The Madness Place.
    • Zola post-Movit-11 has had a few.
    • Lucrezia too, though it's not entirely apparent if it's the Spark, her personality, or both causing it.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Exact Words: In the "Revenge of the Weasel Queen" side-story, Agatha announces that she's going to test her "pocket de-arming device." Her opponent sneers, proclaiming he has no need of weapons. It turns out the device chops off its target's arms.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask:
  • Exploding Closet: In Volume 1 Agatha creates one. Gil opens it. The plot is off its leash and has soon crossed its event horizon.
  • Explosive Overclocking:
    • Movit #11, for most people. Zola seems to have survived, but only because she is now under the care of Dr. Sun.
    • Agatha's death ray inconveniently shorts out during the Passholdt Bridge battle... so she jury-rigs it into a bomb to demolish the bridge and cut off the horde of fast revenants rushing out of the town.
  • Exponential Plot Delay: Agatha's efforts to repair Castle Heterodyne and officially be recognized as the Heterodyne heir lasted three years and ten months, starting from the time she entered the castle and ending when she ordered the Doom Bell be rung. The actual ringing of the bell lasted another three weeks. Tarvek was critically ill and about to die for just short of 15 months. The general concept is lampshaded in this strip. And again here, "It only seem like deyz been in de kestle a long time!"
  • Expospeak Gag: Various, such as the radio signs reading "Upon the Aether".
  • Expressive Accessory: Zeetha's headband, with the little face on it that always has the same facial expression as she does.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Snoz, one of the early-bird monsters that joined the Battle of Mechanicsburg on Agatha's side after the Doom Bell rang, has his mouth where his eyes should be and his eyes where his mouth should be.


Alternative Title(s):

Tropes A-E

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