Girl Genius provides examples of the following tropes:
- Painting the Medium: Speech bubbles tell you a lot about a person. As a Spark descends into the Madness Place, their bubbles become increasingly fragmented. Clanks have rectangular ones with a fancy, old-fashioned font, and Jägermonsters have slightly rough borders on theirs. A few characters (Von Pinn, Castle Heterodyne) have unique bubbles.
- The Pardon: Suggested to Agatha as a way to get the prisoners on her side.
- Pardon My Klingon: When Klaus meets Zeetha.
- Parental Hypocrisy: The moment when Gilgamesh jumps in to play corrida with what amounts to a small locomotive with legs and arms, giving his father time to analyze its structure. Klaus roars at him for taking an unnecessary risk, but Jägermonsters eagerly express approval when they see a Badass performance, so right at the next page a Jäger sergeant quietly tells Gil that Klaus himself "doz crazy schtupid sctoff like dot all de time." Of course, as they both are mad scientists with chronic anti-hero syndrome, it wasn't likely to be the craziest for either.
- Parrot Pet Position:
- Agatha's little clank, sometimes — and not necessarily when she wants it to.
- Also her weasel, once she needs to keep it close by at any time.
- Pass the Popcorn:
- Boris and Gil are having tea and pretzels while sending a Jäger to test out a rogue clank.Boris: You see, Herr Baron. Entertaining, but harmless.
- Snaug enjoys watching Gil and Tarvek fight. Where did she get popcorn deep below Castle Heterodyne, you may ask? Who cares?
- And later, so does Zeetha: "AGATHA! You're missing the show."
- Boris and Gil are having tea and pretzels while sending a Jäger to test out a rogue clank.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Klaus Wulfenbach makes his escape in style: on a giant mecha while still in a hospital bed and surrounded by two nurses, to the exasperation of Dr. Sun.
- People Jars:
- Dr. Beetle in Beetleburg put criminals into giant glass jars to perish.
- Gil is temporarily trapped in one of these in the aptly named chapter, "Hero in a Jar".
- Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek get stuck in them by Zola!Lucrezia.
- Pet the Dog:
- The Baron stops in the middle of chasing Agatha just to make sure Zulenna gets revived (DuPree stabbed her when she was defending Agatha). When questioned, he bluntly states that it was his fault, and that the girl didn't deserve to die. He has several other moments like this, to demonstrate that even though he's a major antagonist, he is still a good man.
- Lucrezia does seem rather fond of her nephew DuMedd... at first.
- Bangladesh DuPree was apparently devastated once the Baron was presumed killed at the hospital seeing as the mere memory causes her to burst into tears.
- Zola appears to have genuinely fond feelings for Gil and attempts to keep him alive even while ruthlessly chopping into all the other protagonists.
- Phlebotinum Overload
- After Agatha drinks from the Dyne (when Higgs offers a cup of "water" to her.) She stops it before she explodes, however, by channeling the extra energy into the dying Gil and Tarvek, revitalizing them in the process.
- After Zola downs a vial of Movit#11, which is basically a supercharged energy drink, Violetta's solution to stop the rampage is to inject her with more Movit#11, which will apparently lead to a complete nervous collapse (or possibly cause her to combust).
- Pictorial Speech Bubble: DuPree with a broken jaw uses them.
- Pie in the Face: The Calming Pies.
- Pimped-Out Dress: A number show up, for various reasons.
- Pink Elephants: Some drinks are so potent the drinkers see flying pink mimmoths.
- Planet of Hats: Somewhat. The Jägermonsters' hat is not only the prominence of literal hats, it's also that these hats are to them as a sword is to a samurai.
- Playboy Bunny: During the Weasel Queen omake, Zeetha and Agatha evoke this trope with their "rabbit costumes".
- Plot Armor: While named characters do die, it's still a rare occurrence, compared to the casualty rate of the Mooks. To show that this is not due to the characters following the What Measure Is a Mook? trope, they often try but fail to kill their significant enemies. It's become a minor Running Gag for characters to complain their gun pulls to the left just after they only wounded their opponent with it.
- Poison-and-Cure Gambit: Given a Mad Scientist twist — the man who administered the poison is the cure, and it only works if he's alive, so Agatha needs to stay close and keep him safe. Until she subverts it with a substitute.
- Politeness Judo: Getting Moloch to help in the kitchen.
- Poor Communication Kills: Subverted in some cases, played straight in others.
- Agatha's possession by the Other is set up as a big secret that could cause all sorts of problems, but Zeetha goes out of her way to mention it to Gil at the very first opportunity. However, Klaus is not aware of the true situation, and is unlikely to be willing to talk about it now that he's been wasped, and knows that talking would allow her to control him.
- Subverted again, and significantly, here. Dimo has just informed the Jägergenerals and Klaus's leadership about the situation, which will presumably reach Klaus's ears presently. Whether they believe him remains to be seen.
- Powered Armor: The fighting-augmentation exoskeleton, an exoskeleton that speeds up and amplifies Agatha’s movements as well as responds to attacks.
- Power High: When Agatha is subjected to the effect of Dyne water plus electroshock for the first time and feels godlike. Later the Castle implies it's a normal reaction:Agatha: I believe another forty-five point three seconds, and I would have exploded or something. [...] Oh, yeah... I have got to try that again!
- Power Limiter: The Heterodyne locket Barry gives Agatha is meant to subdue her sparkyness. She eventually outgrows this, and the locket has found a new use in keeping the Other contained.
- The Power of Love: A minor case — at one point when Agatha is under the control of the Other, it becomes obvious that Gil will die without her help. So Agatha shrugs off the possession long enough to get the locket (mentioned above) on.
- Power Perversion Potential
- "D'Omas' taste in women was, well... Let's just say it was lucky for him he could build his own."
- Castle Heterodyne is full of restraints.
- His and hers.
- "Look, I'm a girl with needs.... They have tool belts?" (From the Mad Scientist version of Cinderella.)
- Lucrezia seems well aware of the possibilities inherent in her mind control devices.
- Back on Sparks in general, Sparks, especially in places like Mechanicsburg, can practically take over someone's mind with their voice and not a lot else (strong-willed humans can resist it, but some people are just "natural minions".) Easy access to minions, the uses of the control voice, and the "tools" a Spark can make....
- Power Trio: Maxim, Oggie, and Dimo, colloquially known as "Da Boyz".
- Power Walk: Jägermonsters pull one here. Subverted slightly since most of them are already inside the city and the walk is just to fool enemies.
- Primal Scene: Possibly parodied in the novelization, where we learn that the young Agatha was deeply traumatized when she walked in on her adoptive parents recharging each other with generators.
- Projectile Toast: Death Ray toast, anyway...Gil: It looks like a toaster.
Agatha: ... well, it is a toaster. Sort of.
Gil: Sort of?
Agatha: Oh yes. It could toast the whole town.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Jägers in general, with varying degrees of "proud" and "warrior" for individuals. For example, when Boris beats the crap out of a Jäger messenger to find out where the generals were meeting, their response was surprise and respect, saying that he'd "earned" the right to talk with them. Also, they take their oath of loyalty very seriously. General Goomblast even explains that the reason the Jägers hate the Other's bugs is that they force people to obey.
- Psycho Serum
- The waters of the River Dyne.
- Movit#11 is no joke either.
- Public Secret Message: Jenka and Füst are confronted during an apparent rampage in the town of Zumzum by Da Boyz who declare that they were "... Charged by the ancient contract vit' de job ov savin' all dese people!" Considering that the Jägers only started serving Baron Wulfenbach about 15 years ago, reference to an ancient contract by any of them can only mean one thing: the Jägertroth. Not missing a beat, Jenka beats feet out of there to meet in a more discrete location with them to get apprised.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!
- Punctuated Pounding: Tarvek to Zola. Not explicit, but he's just got to be timing his punches to his exclamation points.
- Punny Name: Doubling as Bilingual Bonus. Dr. Beetle's first name, "Tarsus", is the insect equivalent of the foot. Not a particularly meaningful pun, but it's there.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Slaver wasps. Early versions just turned people into mindless revenants. Later versions could create sleeper agents who behaved otherwise normally unless given a command by the Other. The latest version can even infest Sparks, who were otherwise immune due to drastically different mental states from normal people.
- Put on a Bus: The fan-nicknamed "Take Five Bomb" which froze Mechanicsburg in time, took a lot of characters on a long double-decker bus ride. Among them are Moloch and the rest of the Wandering Band of Heroic Repairmen, most of the Jager Generals, the man who deliberately detonated the Take Five Bomb, Klaus Wulfenbach himself, Tarvek (which is a good thing because he was mortally poisoned and had minutes to live at the time), Theo and Sleipnir, Castle Heterodyne (though it has proven somewhat resistant to the effects), the Von Mekkahns, and many more. Othar Tryggvassen, GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER was also last seen in the area of effect, but since he has a power of inexplicable extrication, it is doubtful he was stuck there for long. And Boris, the Baron's second-in-command, dropped out of sight at this point as well, even though he presumably wasn't even in the radius of the bomb's effects.
- Slightly before that, Zola and Anevka - both Lucrezia copies dropped out of sight following the destruction of the hospital.
- Quote Mine: Agatha's recorded message that Lucrezia Mongfish is the Other and that someone should warn Baron Wulfenbach ends up being edited to say that Baron Wulfenbach is the Other. Needless to say, this causes problems.
- Rage Against the Author:
- In a filler strip, Agatha can't be convinced that Phil and Kaja Foglio have legitimately earned the Hugo Award, suspecting some mind control at work.Phil Foglio: Maybe we just won.
- In 2011 they decided to shut down the mind control device and resign from the category.
- In a filler strip, Agatha can't be convinced that Phil and Kaja Foglio have legitimately earned the Hugo Award, suspecting some mind control at work.
- Randomly Gifted: Sparks run in families but also develop among normal people.
- Ready for Lovemaking: Barbarian-style. When Castle is detailing Agatha's lineage, a historical depiction shows the Skull Queen of Skrall splaying herself out on her throne, enticing Dagon Heterodyne to take her after "sending two hundred warrior homunculi to pique his interest"
- Real Is Brown: The first volume. Not so much "brown is real" as "the world is dull when your mind is damped down". For anyone who's reading the archives, going from the last page of volume one to the first page of the next is quite jarring.
- Really 700 Years Old: The Jägermonsters look fairly young — well within the range of a human lifespan. However, they remember events of over a hundred years ago, and one of them (who looks like he's in his late 20s, maybe) has an adult human great-great-grandson. (Jägermonster-ness is caused by a potion and not passed on in genes, so even if his kids were born after he transformed they'd be fully human.) And The Secret Blueprints say that Jaegers are nearly indestructible and many of the original company are still around, so the oldest Jaegers may well be some unknown number of centuries. No Sparks are known to be so old, which raises questions.
- To be fair, they've mentioned several previous Heterodyne family members as masters of theirs, and have bloodline loyalty, so how old a Spark could be doesn't really matter.
- No Sparks reach that age because Sparks tend to be...well...stark staring mad, and many end up meeting a horrible end as a result of either personal overconfidence (taking on an entire army with a faulty death ray) or experimental screw-ups ("There have been three explosions so far.")
- Reasonable Authority Figure: For a guy who conquered a continent, Klaus is surprisingly open to other people's ideas. Sure, he's still the final authority, but at least he'll hear you out.
- Rebus Bubble
- Red Eyes, Take Warning
- Reed Richards Is Useless: The occasional machine gun is seen (actually some variety of Gatling, in most cases), but this weapon and the enormous amounts of dakka it can provide seem not to have changed the face of war as they have in Real Life. Machine guns become less effective when half the opposing army is made of metal, is using advanced Spark technology, or are Jägers.
- Relationship Reveal: For a long time, it was hard to tell if Theo and Sleipnir were a couple or just really close friends. Then came this strip.
- Relationship Upgrade: This may count as one. Higgs is pleased.
- Releasing from the Promise: Tarvek does it to Violetta.
- Religion of Evil: The Geisterdamen worship the Other.
- Retcon: These pages. 1 2 Look at Sergeant Scorp's hat at in the bottom panel of page one, and then in the first panel of page 2. See the change? Standard Wulfenbach wings change to Vespiary Squad wings.
- Retired Badass: An old Mechanicsburg sandwich-maker shows up in one of the side stories. He is nicknamed "Old Man Death" — by the Jägers. Turns out he used to run with them back in his youth — and never lost a fight. He still can forcibly boot one out of his shop now, leading to the "three tries" rule.
- Reverse Psychology: For centuries inexperienced sparks tried to assert control over creations turning against them by shouting something like "Stop! I am your master! I created you! You can't attack me!". It never worked. Even Agatha made this mistake once. But finally Agatha found the right words.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Klaus Wulfenbach despises traitors, as Merlot humiliatingly learns. Klaus promotes him to replace Dr. Beetle, telling him that as soon as he makes a single mistake, he'll be sent to Castle Heterodyne.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter:
- Right Behind Me: Agatha is too far away to hear the conversation, but still...Xerxsephnia: [about Agatha] It's not as if she's in her own lab — or even her own town. She's kilometers from Mechanicsburg — trapped in our fortress — in the dead of winter. What can she do?
[Agatha flies past the window behind her]
Xerxsephnia: ... And why do you have that idiotic look on your face?
- Right in Front of Me: Agatha in front of Klaus, and Gil in front of Zola.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- Thanks to the one she gave the pirates that kidnapped her, Zeetha has killed anyone who could help her find her way back home to Skitfander.
- Airman Higgs is normally calm and unflappable, even when everything is going to hell. But stab his kinda-maybe love interest in the stomach and, well, things might get ugly.
- Agatha, after Lars dies.
- Rodents of Unusual Size:
- The Sturmhalten guides' description of "normal" sewer rats.
- There are also giant bunnies in one of the side-stories.
- In an inversion, mimmoths (tiny mammoths) seem to have crowded out much of the normal mouse's place in the ecosystem.
- Rolling Pin of Doom: OK, a frying pan
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: A theme of the series is finding the balance between the two. With the Knights of Jove and Baron Wulfenbach representing the extreme sides of those movements.
- Royal Blood: The House of Heterodyne and the line of the Storm King are both very important elements of the plot, as is resentment over the current overlord of the continent being a jumped-up baron.
- Royal School: The baron's educational facility for Europa's heirs. The world makes it a bit different, and it's made abundantly clear its primary purpose is to keep the children of potential troublemakers firmly in the Baron's grasp, but the education is excellent and the faculty stern but fair and loving.
- Royally Screwed Up:
- Tarvek's entire family—apparently, even the non-spark members. Best summarized by Tarvek when he explains that "The only way to keep my family in line would be to bury them in a row."
- Sparks are, by definition, at least somewhat unbalanced; most recent ruling dynasties are sparks whose families shot their way to the throne at some point; and even if the one who first seized control of a domain were comparatively self-controlled rather than brilliant and/or charismatic enough to compensate for serious instability, their heirs can survive growing far more bonkers than those who have to worry about the typical Torches and Pitchforks thing.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Appearances aren't very nonsensical for the trope, but the aesthetic is unmistakably present, mostly because several characters near-literally assemble their outfits this way.
- Gil spends the latter part of his time in Mechanicsburg wearing an outfit from a bar's costume selection with most of the more ostentatious pieces taken off.
- Krosp got his ubiquitous coat from a circus's costume department.
- Jägers win their hats off of enemies, so if you're a Jäger and your hat matches your outfit, it's luck (and they prioritize nize hats, so many combine random aesthetics, such as Dimo's aviator cap with goggles and plume, in true "why not put all the toppings on the pizza!?" style).
- Tarvek's outfit in the Castle seems to have been scavenged from stuff left lying around by past Heterodynes, and amounts to white undershirt + fancy greatcoat + green pants with two belts stacked on top of each other + an extra belt worn like a sash.
- Zeetha steals the long shirt and Badass Longcoat of one of Zola's Faceless Mooks and wears them under the leather pieces from her old outfit after all the cloth she was wearing is dissolved by mad science.
- Moloch eventually ends up wearing the fancy red pants from the nice outfit he was introduced wearing, two shirts he must have obtained while imprisoned, a neckerchief to cover the collar/necklace all the Castle prisoners get, and a heavy apron from working in the murderous kitchen.
- Running Gag
- Othar yelling "Foul!" every time someone drops him from high up. Othar is the sort of fellow who thinks there should be rules to a fight, though it's pretty clear that the ones he has in mind are a bit laxer than those of the Marquis of Queensbury. He yells foul anytime someone ... well, he'd call it "pulls a dirty trick", but most everyone else would say "outsmarts him." Which is a lot, because while Othar is a first or at least close second rate spark (he wouldn't still be alive if he wasn't), he's also not that bright.
- Burgermeister Zuken of Mechanicsburg's irrelevance.
- At least somewhat, Gil's insistance on the fact that Beetle threw that bomb at him.
- Sparks trying and failing to command their own creations: "that never works." Except when the creation is told that the Spark is not their master. Then it just wanders off in confusion.
- When the Foglios have something to show you, they'll show you with an "Elegant and finely crafted link".
- People are generally more likely to recognize Gilgamesh for his authority or power when he wears his "mighty nize hat".
- Sailor's Ponytail: Airman Higgs ("The Unstoppable" Airshipman Higgs) wears one of these. As airship units are treated as analogous to naval ones (though seafaring definitely exists in this setting), it certainly qualifies as a Sailor's Ponytail.
- Sarcasm Mode: "Hmm, yes... I can see how that must be very embarrassing for you."
- Schizo Tech: And how. Telegraph, radio, telephone? Nope. Motor cars? Unheard of. Heavier-than-air aircraft? Two prototypes. Strong AI, lasers and resurrection are perfectly possible, though.
- Schmuck Bait:
- Science Hero: Damn near every spark that is not a homicidal lunatic and/or scheming manipulator... and frankly a couple who are.
- Science Is Bad: All through the story and backstory, the most reckless applications of science are performed regularly by those most educated and talented at it. However, it's Played for Laughs often enough to parody the Aesop; when Science Is Really Bad, it's Crazy Awesome!
- Science-Related Memetic Disorder: The Spark condition. Though even non-Spark scientists and engineers are a bit off-kilter, probably because that's how everyone expects them to act. Those usually have to assist or use stuff of Sparks. It's either become a Mad Scientist or go insane from this all anyway.
- Screams Like a Little Girl
- Professor Tiktoffen often screams like this, and the castle thinks it's funny.
- Also Tarvek, at least according to DuPree.DuPree: Oh my Gosh! I'd know that girlish scream anywhere!
- Screw Gun Safety
- The Jägermonsters, though it's pretty in-character for them to try.Jäger 1: Ho! Leedle recoil problem there, sir!
Jäger 2: Pretty neat though, ya?
- Agatha and Gil look straight into a lightning generator's business end while Gil repeatedly push the button.
- The Jägermonsters, though it's pretty in-character for them to try.
- Scrub: Invoked in Othar's log:
- Scully Box: The guardslime's creator uses one.
- Secret Test of Character: When we first see Gil, his father is asking him to figure out what's wrong with the machine he ordered built — except he's really testing to see if Gil is honest, brave and/or smart enough to tell him it isn't actually possible for it to work the way Klaus said it should.
- Self-Deprecation: Phil Foglio's Author Avatar is repeatedly shown to be an incredibly boring storyteller, to the point that in the Mechanicsburg hospital he's put to work telling stories to sick kids... because they fall asleep without the need for medication.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Lucrezia's secret lab has one, and she activates it. The cancellation of self-destruct is double subverted.
- Self-Serving Memory: When Castle Heterodyne attacks Castle Wulfenbach, Der Kestle has such a moment in response to Agatha's "When did I tell you to do that?!"Imaginary!Agatha: Yay! Do that! Kill everyone in the sky!
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Tarvek & Gil to a degree.
- Seppuku: Expected of Jägers who break the Oath — but only if they get caught. At least if you believe Oggie and Maxim, who are admittedly clowning around a bit at the time. Otherwise, the Jägers show no aversion at all to rampant Loophole Abuse, such as by claiming that, being several floors underground, they're technically not in the town.
- Serial Escalation: How many more "distractions" will Agatha, Gil and Tarvek go through before they reach their goal? The whole Castle Heterodyne arc appears to follow the old Hollywood maxim "start with a volcanic eruption, then build to a climax."
- Serious Business: The Jägermonsters really love hats. Nothing more needs to be said. In fact, Maxim refuses to let Lars be buried Hatless.
- Sewer Gator: An albino alligator can be seen snapping at Violetta and Tarvek as they make their way through the sewers of Mechanicsburg.
- Sexbot: In one side story, Agatha makes a 'mechanical bedwarmer'. Later on in the story her bed is shown to have a robot double of Gil in it.
- Sexy Soaked Shirt:
- Shaggy Search Technique: Krosp plays straight man... uh, cat. Subverted by Agatha and Tarvek. These are super-genius Mad Scientists, after all!
- Shaped Like Itself
- In the not-quite-canon story The Heterodyne Boys and the Dragon from Mars,Bill: I never thought I'd have to use this.
Dr. Mongfish: [reformed] "Ocean in a bottle"? What's that?
Bill: Truth in packaging.
- A book titled Using Found Objects as Weapons gets used to beat a particularly persistent enemy upside the head, striking with the sound effect TOME!
- In Revenge of the Weasel Queen, Agatha uses a De-arming Device. It does exactly that, cutting the arms off Agatha's opponent.
- In the not-quite-canon story The Heterodyne Boys and the Dragon from Mars,
- Shared Family Quirks: It's mentioned that Sparks' "styles" of design and technology run in families; Sparks born of Sparks, even when they're not raised by their parents, will tend to follow similar paths and designs.
- Sharing a Body: Agatha and Lucrezia have had the antagonistic version of this relationship since the latter's mind was transferred into the former. It was supposed to be a Grand Theft Me, as mentioned above, but it wasn't totally successful. Later the same thing happens with Zola and Lucrezia, again not very successfully. And then it's done with Gil and Klaus.
- Shipper on Deck
- Moloch (and practically everyone else) ships Agatha×Gil; Violetta ships Agatha×Tarvek (cue Ship-to-Ship Combat).
- Then there are Zeetha, "Jäger girls", Jägers, the crowd...
- Castle Heterodyne appears to ship 'em both. Really, it ships Agatha×Anything with a viable set of male reproductive organs, though it prefers guys who are strong, violent, and sparky.
- It's implied that this was the way the "old" Heterodynes operated, since the castle comes equipped with "harem quarters" and it's mentioned that the master bedroom "only sleeps six."
- Tarvek ships Higgs×Zeetha. Higgs' blush in the 2nd panel argues he's right.
- The supporting cast now has a betting pool.
- Ship Tease: Zeetha and Higgs had several before their Relationship Upgrade.
- Shirtless Scene: A fair number with Gil and Tarvek, and a few others (the Baron comes to mind). Tarvek did one long one wearing but a bedsheet, and Gil did a shorter scene wearing first just that, then... less. The battle of most skin exposed continues.
- Shoot the Dog: Tarvek disabling and deactivating Anevka's clank. Wooster nearly does this to Klaus but is interrupted.
- Shoulders of Doom: Zeetha approves.
- Shout-Out: Lots of them, now having their own subpage.
- Shovel Strike: Zeetha can do.Lapinemoth: A shovel? Ah! What can you do with a—
- Show Some Leg: Zulenna attempts it, though it's subverted on the next page.
- Shutting Up Now: Two-part example involving Agatha and Moloch.
- "Shut Up" Kiss
- Side Bet: After Tarvek kisses Agatha after she saves him, the people of Mechanicsburg and the Jägers are seen placing bets on who Agatha will choose, with Vanamonde von Mekkahn and Violetta playing bookies.
- Sigil Spam
- The Wulfenbach family signs everything, from their airships to their war machines to the smallest mechanical parts of Castle Wulfenbach, with that winged rook.
- The trilobite symbol of the Heterodynes is pretty much ubiquitous in Mechanicsburg.
- It's the same with the Sturmvoraus family symbol in Sturmhalten.
- Signed Up for the Dental: The lapinemoths in the Weasel Queen filler.
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: In the backstory, Klaus Wulfenbach helped the Heterodyne Boys with the idealistic approach; the result was a Europa that was Holding Out for a Hero, so he has little use now for idealism. As another example, Vole believes all the other Jaegermonstern are being foolishly idealistic.
- Single Tear: Vanamonde sheds one after just one sip of the perfect cup of coffee.
- Skewed Priorities
- Locking children in vats and letting them out only for Christmas is a terrible thing, but only if you let the control group out.
- Subverted with the Jägers (or at least their generals), as evidenced by this exchange:General Zog: Ve haff a team of Jägerkin, Lackya, clenks and crew at each entry.
Klaus Wulfenbach: Excellent. I'm pleased at the lack of rivalry.
General Zog: Sir — dere iz a time to twit nancy-boy feetsmen und a time to crush bogs.
- Skilled, but Naïve: Vole claims that Gil and Tarvek are this.
- Sky Pirate: Almost any time pirates are mentioned in the story, they are of this kind, airships being a widespread commodity. (Though according to Sanaa's account of her activities after leaving home, sea-borne ones do exist as well.) Notably, Bangladesh DuPree and her crew.
- One of the radio plays gives us the character of Deathwish Dupree, Bang's older brother "of whom she is heartily ashamed".
- Slasher Smile
- The Jägermonsters' mouths open literally from ear to ear and are full of very big fangs.
- Most Sparks pull off magnificent examples of this at least once when they're in their element.
- Bangladesh DuPree seems to wear it professionally.
- Zola develops an impressive Slasher Smile after taking the Movit #11.
- Sleep Mask: Mama Gkika wears one at night.
- The Smart Guy: Practically all of the characters are pretty smart. Krosp is an example of the rare GG smart guy who's also the Only Sane Man of the group.
- Smoldering Shoes: Martellus punching DuPree sends her flying while leaving her boots behind (revealing skulls-adorned socks).
- Smooch of Victory: Agatha's idea of a fine way to celebrate exploding a giant writhing slug.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Krosp.Krosp: Is this one of those situations that involves "ethics"? 'Cause I'm a cat, you know. I've never been very good at those.
- Soft Glass: Here.
- Sole Surviving Scientist: Othar has been that but managed to go back in time (according to his Twitter, anyway).
- Tarvek in the same Twitter may have been a better example, since he sent Othar back and was much closer to the problem (while Othar metaphorically "slept through it").
- Something Only They Would Say: Gil learns there are two alleged Heterodyne heirs in Mechanicsburg. One arrived in a gaudy pink airship, has made several speeches and then entered Castle Heterodyne. The other is in a coffee shop rebuilding their coffee machine (and causing several explosions in the process). It doesn't take him long to realize which one is Agatha.
- The Spark of Genius: Possible Trope Namer. Definitely invoked throughout; it pretty much says it on the tin.Heliotrope: In my experience, a strong Heterodyne will take about two hours to truly warp the laws of nature.
- Speak of the Devil: Discussed Trope.Lucrezia!Zola: But he's been missing for years. He's no threat—
Lucrezia!Anevka: Do you want him to show up?!
Lucrezia!Zola: Ooh... So sorry, dear. I can't think what came over me!
- The Speechless: Punch ("Adam"). An early construct of the Heterodyne Brothers, he was unable to speak. Until Gil extensively repaired both Punch and Judy, granting Punch speech.
- Spider Limbs
- A couple of background characters are like this, apparently double amputees who use them as mobility prosthetics. Given that the whole backdrop is of a pseudo-Europe which has been in a state of low-level warfare for an indefinite period, It Makes Sense in Context.
- Agatha's exoskeleton, used to get a good night's sleep despite Zetha's wish, also gives off this vibe. especially when it pulls out the weaponry.
- Spit Take
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: There's a disease (probably engineered by some Mad Scientist), "Hogfarb's resplendent immolation", that causes this effect. The body is filled with an incendiary substance, and in the end the victim will "go up like a torch". Unless they simply melt.
- Squee: Zeetha over Higgs, in panel 8 here.
- Squick: An in-universe example of this is used by General Khrizhan to explain why Gil and Agatha being together is for the best: they can't exactly get their mad science on as long as the Other, Agatha's mother, is still inside Agatha's head and possibly sensate. Nobody will ever work as fast as those two will when they eventually twig on that. Incidentally, this also serves to keep the Unresolved Sexual Tension nice and unresolved, just the way the writers like it. Later the sentiment is expressed by Tarvek, to the Jäger Generals' amusement.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted. For no explained reason, Sparks appear to be stronger, faster, better coordinated (okay, this one is more understandable), and tougher than any normal human. This isn't counting Sparks that may have modified themselves.
- Stable Time Loop:
- This probably happens in this strip. The time window that Bang sees the first time happens after the second one from the point of view of the characters in the window. Gil calls Bang a maniac in the first one, probably because she pointed a gun on them in the second one, which she did because "earlier" he insulted her.
- In the sidestory ''The homecoming king" (from here to here) some students summon the Ht'rok'dyn (the first Heterodyne) from the past. He learns that he has descendants who created a big empire, so he goes back in time to make sure it happens.
- Staged Populist Uprising: The Knights of Jove conspirators like to claim they're doing it for the people.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Subverted. "Snapper" Boikov tries it on Sanaa. Hilarity Ensues.R-71: Tsk. Even I know that was stupid.
Wrenchman: Requiescat in pace and all that rot. Dibs on his boots!
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Violetta is of the opinion that Gil and Agatha's romance has a huge chance of going down in flames. Tarvek realizes she may have a point.
- Steam Punk: Everywhere. The authors prefer to call it "gaslamp fantasy" though, because of the absence of 'punk' and the presence of Frankenstein-esque constructs, giant slugs that produce zombie-making wasps, resurrection procedures, death rays, and time travel. Also "calming pies".
- Stop Helping Me!
- Gil as his friends "creatively" explain his plans and motivations to the people of Mechanicsburg, as seen in the fourth panel here, almost word-for-word.
- And Agatha to Moloch, as seen in the last panel here.Agatha: THANK YOU. For your HELP.
Moloch: I-I'll just...
Agatha: Shut up...?
- This happens a lot, especially when Sparks are involved. At one point when Gil unleashes a mechanical cage in an effort to attract a crowd, Theo and Sleipnir try to keep the crowd safe, while only making things worse.Zeetha: They are trying to help, right?
Gil: It's my fault, really. I make it look easy.
- Storm of Blades
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Various incidents here and there — this is a world run by mad scientists, after all.
- Othar, by Klaus.
- From a Heterodyne play: "You! Minion! Why am I strapped to this table? And WHERE ARE MY PANTS?!?"
- Tarvek and Gil have to be strapped to a table for the Si Vales Valeo procedure.
- Gil does it to DuPree to have his hands free while doing Mad Science.Bang: ...Seriously pathetic.
Gil: I assure you, that table is purely for medical purpose.
Bang: That's what I meant!
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- Sooo much shrapnelly goodness... Making things blow up that by all rights shouldn't seems like a mandatory side-effect of being a Spark.Andre: No big deal. Schtuff blows op all de time.
- "Hee hee. Death Ray go BOOM!"
- Sooo much shrapnelly goodness... Making things blow up that by all rights shouldn't seems like a mandatory side-effect of being a Spark.
- Submarine Pirates: Sanaa Wilhelm or rather Trygvassen was apparently queen of a group of pirates who used a mechanical narwhal before ending up at castle Heterodyne.
- Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom
- Castle Heterodyne has several of these, including The Happy Fun Ball of Death and Fun-Sized Mobile Agony and Death Dispensers.
- The Radio Theater Break has one, in the form of Ferretina's lightning generator, labeled "Zappy Fun Box MK 1."
- Suddenly Voiced: Adam "Punch" Clay after Gil upgrades him during a resurrection. After several decades of not speaking, it's hard to make him stop again.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Trope Namer. In the Cinderella side story, Cinderella!Agatha fixes the Fairy Godmother's malfunctioning magic wand, despite being told she couldn't possibly understand the principles behind its operation.
- Super Serum: Many of them. Overdosing is always a concern, whether it's the Movit series of Smoke Knight pick-me-ups ("Drugs! Lovely, lovely drugs!"), the water of the river Dyne ("I LIKE IT!"), or the Jagerdraught and Battledraught brewed using the latter.
- Super Soldier
- The Jägermonsters, who were created by the old "bad" Heterodynes as shock troops but then had to obey the "good" Heterodynes due to the oath of loyalty they take very seriously (though are still capable of breaking; look at Captain Vole). One of the ingredients of the Jägerbrau used to transform people into Jägers is water from the river Dyne, which Heterodynes are known for drinking and gaining superhuman strength as a result.
- And don't forget Von Pinn. Or else.
- And Airman Higgs is looking mighty super, recently...
- Super Speed: The various Moveit tonics, while not exactly granting super speed, give people temporarily increased speed and energy with some implied physical toll later on. Half a bottle of Moveit #6 got Tarvek on his feet for hours though he was fatally ill, and a few sips of Moveit #11 turned Zola from a reasonably good fighter into a crazy battle goddess. And then Airman Higgs shows us all what super speed really is.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Sheesh, whose adolescent slave-girl fantasies are we indulging here anyway? Not mine!
- Also, this gem here:Wooster: Do you get all your plans from bad Heterodyne farces, now?
Agatha: Shut up. It'll work.
Wooster: But you could—
Agatha: I'm trying to keep a low profile here. This is a "normal person" plan. Building a steam-powered grab-and-subdue clank out of the stove would be too showy.
Margarella: Wait. You could do that?
Agatha: Of course not!
Margarella: Aaaah! You could do that!
- Symbol Swearing: With translation, no less.
- Synchronization: Gil and Tarvek, thanks to the Si Vales Valeo procedure.
- Tactful Translation: Whatever Agatha was saying in this strip, it most certainly wasn't what was in the footnote.Ooh, what naughty little devices, to so turn upon your creator! Oh! Indeed, my foot is in quite excruciating pain! I shall construct a device that will give you such a whack, see if I don't!
- Take a Number: Part of the psychological torture room. "The torturer is now serving victim number 03." In a subversion, the distributor is out of numbers... Othar doesn't take it well.
- Take a Third Option: Try an incredibly risky procedure with only stuff made for killing someone or take him to another hospital, which may or may not have the requisite stuff anyway? Alternatively...
- Take Our Word for It: The titillating plot of The Socket Wench of Prague.
- Take Over the World: Baron Wulfenbach has already taken over the world — or at least the bulk of Europe, where the story is set — by the time the story starts, and he never wanted to. There have been various competing and overlapping conspiracies trying to replace him ever since, one of the more prominent using Zola and evidently Tweedle as its intended figureheads; Tarvek was planning something as well, but the reader never gets to hear the specifics.
- Taking You with Me: "... And even if it does, I won't go alone!"
- Talking Is a Free Action:
- Talk Like a Pirate: Bangladesh DuPree indulges in this vernacular once. Well, she is a pirate lass, after all.DuPree: Ooooh, I've missed you, me proud beauty. Hee hee! YARRRR!
- Tall Tale: The Heterodyne Boys tales.
- Tap on the Head
- Lars, meet Jäger:Agatha: Oh. Lars gets hysterical after a fight. It's hard to calm him down.
Oggie: No, it ain't!
- Violetta administers one to Agatha to keep her from charging a juiced-up Zola.
- Agatha gives one to Martellus after he tells her that he performed an operation on them to make her physically addicted him (to the point of death if she isn't in contact) and that it can't be solved by killing him and hacking off an arm. Of course you'd think that Agatha would remember that this isn't a safe thing to do, but considering everything we've seen Martellus endure so far the danger probably isn't that great.
- Lars, meet Jäger:
- Tattooed Crook: DuPree's second-in-command.
- Team Mom: Agatha toward 'her' three Jaegers, and increasingly toward others in her command. A consequence of her sense of responsibility and her Least Insane Woman status.
- Tears of Remorse: Barry, in the flashback where he gave Agatha her locket.
- Tempting Fate: Many instances here and there.
- Da Boyz:Oggie: Dose tings? Dey don't look like much.
Maxim: Oh, now hyu iz just asking for it.
- "It's just one little clank."
- "Somebody's coming out! To surrender, I imagine."
- "How much more trouble could it be?"
- "Whelp, the day can't get any weirder!" For future reference, that is something you simply do not say in this story. Ever.
- Tarvek should really know not to say such things, but:Tarvek: Ah! Violetta! My little cloud of doom! Even you cannot dampen my spirits right now.
- Clank!Anveka tempts fate rather horribly only two pages after the Author Avatar's "Whelp, the day can't get any weirder!" above. Next page starts with Tarvek handing the device in question to The Other.Clank!Anveka: Well, then. A device he doesn't know about- hidden where he will not find it — in a safe he cannot open? I have more pressing things to worry about. Besides, if it was in his hands, do you really think he'd just hand it to her?"
- Xerxsephnia makes a very foolish assumption that she has Agatha helplessly grounded, far away from her town or any potential allies. When her brother tries to persuade her that "the Heterodyne Girl" is a threat after all, she brushes his concerns off, asking "What can she do?" Cue Agatha flying past the tower's window in a swan-shaped sleigh.
- In a conversation with two instances of the Other, one of them almost claims Barry Heterodyne wouldn't be a threat to their plan before the other stops them in fear of this trope.
- Da Boyz:
- That Came Out Wrong: Gil has such a way with words. Of course, it would have helped if she'd let him finish his sentence.
- That Wasn't a Request:
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Gil has an epic rant at Vole when Vole talks down to him about how no one takes him seriously when he tries the diplomatic approach, and how he has to act like a "cut-rate stage villain" to be taken seriously, and then decides to do just that to a frightening Nth degree... and then has a horrifying realization that this must be what his father feels all the time.
- They Called Me Mad!: Seems to be a Catch Phrase for mad scientists.
- They Look Like Us Now: The "stealth" revenants, only now being discovered.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Often — like this.
- Clearly Higgs' attitude here.
- This Is Reality: Tempting Fate here.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: ...or not.
- Those Three Guys: Oggie, Maxim and Dimo play this role.
- Threesome Subtext
- Through His Stomach: Snaug, on Moloch.
- Throw a Barrel at It: Although it isn't technically "thrown", the comic is proof that even a Barrel can be Ax-Crazy.
- Time Skip: One occurs when Tweedle takes Agatha (and inadvertently Krosp and Violetta) through a transit portal. Though it should have been instantaneous, two and a half years passed before they emerged. It's later revealed that Klaus caused this by activating some sort of time-stasis device in Mehanicsburg at the exact moment they entered the portal. Details are still scanty, but the Wulfenbach Empire reportedly longer exists, the territory around Mechanicsburg is under Gil's monomaniacal control and Tarvek's family has abandoned their claim to the title of Storm King.
- Title Drop: In a roundabout way.Bang: [tch] What, you're surprised? She's outsmarted us before. I mean, if they write this down, they ain't gonna be calling it "Boy Genius".
- Toilet Humor: Avoided for the most part, though Krosp does do a stint cleaning up after the Circus's horses.
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Violetta is a kick-ass smoke knight; Agatha wins her loyalty with the promise of a party and a pretty dress
- Too Dumb to Live:
- A certain little girl in Mechanicsburg: "Hello Herr Clank! Are you a flowerpot?"
- Strinbeck: "You dare to strike my royal personage?! I'll have every member of your crew flayed alive!" That's a bad thing to say when the captain of the airship just ordered to toss overboard everything unnecessary to gain speed.
- Special mention goes to X the destroyer who decided a big X on the ground within range of enemy ordnance was a good place to set up his tent. Admittedly, it was inadvertent Schmuck Bait in that case...
- Sure, Mechanicsburg is a great place to grab a pair of innocent hostages. Whom the pair promenading while the invaders are still surrendering should be.
- Martellus von Blitzengaard, a.k.a. Tweedle, shows increasing signs of being this. Mouthing off before a very unstable and obsessed Gil that he won't ever reach Agatha proves a good way to get his hands mangled and/or chopped off, and then stabbed multiple times by Bang; even after that, he STILL has to be physically hauled away by his minions.
- The advisor sent by the council to advise Martellus has all of them beaten, though. Tweedle is an unstable bastard at the best of times, but when said advisor, after ordering to fire on the Corbettites as a show of power (which results in the loss of several airships), explains with lots of condescension to Martellus that he's still young and need to be shown how it is done, you know he doesn't have long to live. Tweedle throws him out of the airship before he can even finish his spiel.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Gil got lessons from Dr. Sun, Agatha from Zeetha, and Ardsley Wooster apparently had a few well-hidden under his belt.
- Boris Dolokhov goes from being the Baron's amanuensis and being insulted by Jägermonsters to beating a Jägermonster until it was willing to give up classified information. The novelization says that he already was a skilled fencer before his previous employer gave him extra arms.
- And Agatha has been steadily grinding her way up to a 20th level badass too.
- Even Mauve Shirt Moloch has been doing well in Agatha's presences. Even his seduction skills are improved.
- Too Kinky to Torture
- Considering Von Pinn's suitors treat her beating the hell out of them as a come-on...
- The one exception thus far may be Dolokhov's beating a Jäger until he talked.
- Too Much Information: Tea cozy... only one spoon...
- Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Oh, Bang.DuPree: [zaps Abner] Now, are you going to cooperate, or...
Payne: What do you want?!
DuPree: Oh, right.
- Training from Hell: The Skifander warrior training Zeetha gave to Agatha
- Training the Gift of Magic: The Spark is a rare, largely hereditary personal attribute that grants access to mad science that frequently verges on the magical — but a good technical education definitely helps. Sparks also need to learn to channel their own abilities relatively safely, and indeed some are lynched by the general populace if and when their abilities manifest uncontrollably for the first time.
- Tranquil Fury: Airman Higgs.
- Translation Convention: Word of God and incidental writing in the background says that everything is actually in German and Romanian, translated for the benefit of the audience. Except, one presumes, when we're privy to Wooster's thoughts as English is presumably still the language of Britain.
- Trapped In Villainy/Explosive Leash: Tarvek's cousin, Tweedle, tries this on Agatha. Immediately subverted in that she knocks him unconscious, locks him in her chains, and sets about taking off the leash.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Sparks during the "breakthrough" usually go crazy in a destructive way. Due to her uncle's tampering, in Agatha's case the "awakening" part happened when she was technically asleep. It's explained also that this trope is how a lot of Sparks get killed early on: either their creation turns on them, or else they create an incredibly powerful weapon and yet are also still crazy/inexperienced enough to turn it on an army.
- Trope Overdosed: Just look at the length of these pages. And it's still growing.
- Troper Critical Mass
- Troubled, but Cute: Lampshaded at the start of the Cinderella filler, when Gil and Tarvek argue over who's playing the story's prince:Gil: I'm the prince! I'm all tortured and driven by love!
Tarvek: Feh. I'm the misunderstood one with the mysterious agenda. Muy sexy.
- Truth in Television: Moxana is based upon the Mechanical Turk, an eighteen-century chess-playing automaton. The Turk was a hoax, operated by someone inside it, but Moxana is a real version.
- Truth Serum: The old Prince Sturmvoraus may have given Agatha a bit too much.Agatha: Oh, and I saw the Baron a bit when I was on Castle Wulfenbach. But I had to run away when everyone found out I was the Heterodyne.
- Turned Against Their Masters
- This happens every once in a while with Sparks' creations. The Sparks then inevitably order them to stand down, which ends as expected.Moloch: Uh... that never works, you know...
- In a bout of Genre Savvy, Agatha deals with one monster by saying she isn't its creator and has no intention of ordering it around. The perplexed monster immediately loses interest in her and leaves. Its actual master turns up later, and attempts to assert his authority in the usual way. As usual, it doesn't work.
- This happens every once in a while with Sparks' creations. The Sparks then inevitably order them to stand down, which ends as expected.
- TV Tropes Wiki Drinking Game: November 2th's issue features Egregious Heterodyne. No, really.
- Twisted Echo Cut: If the Mistress were here, ''she'd say..." - "Kneel, you miserable minion!"