Aborted Arc: Act 6 Act 5 Act 2, the Trickster Arc. Sort of. It actually was just "skipped over" (we didn't get to see it), but it still happened, and the ramifications of what just happened remain.
Accidental Innuendo: Invoked in-universe, from Karkat's POV when John sends him and the others a letter in a bucket. Played with even a bit more before, as Jade chastises John and tells him to "throw [a bucket] through my mysterious portal"
Alchemy Is Magic: A machine called an alchemiter makes various objects based on codes punched into punchcards. John explains a part of the logic behind it with this update.
Alien Blood: The troll hemospectrum contains a wide variance of colors, but they are all dull and muted. Karkat's bright red blood is an anomaly.
Fantastic Racism / Fantastic Caste System / Law of Chromatic Superiority: The trolls' caste system is based on blood color, with the "cool" colors (as in purple, blue, and green, known as "highbloods") at the top and warm colors (yellow, orange/brown, red, known as "lowbloods", or "rust bloods") at the bottom. Trolls can use the color gray (their skin color) as a form of blood-anonymity, but it raises a few eyebrows. Trolls in the low blood castes tend to have psychic powers. The high blood castes tend to be almost completely immune to psychic attacks, but far more prone to mental instability and insanity.
Three of the storyline trolls have special blood: There's Karkat's mutant candy-red which isn't even on the hemospectrum; Feferi has the most highly-ranked shade of purple of any living troll, making her the future Empress. Kanaya's blood is pretty rare as well, and she comes with a number of exceptions to general troll rules. It's possible Karkat and Feferi and their ancestors are the only trolls of their blood colors on account of being created with ectobiology rather then being born the usual way, though with Kanaya we do get mention of other Jadebloods.
According to Calliope, trolls with lime blood are also special, in the fact that they had powers that threatened the authority and were hunted down to extinction. However, as Calliope writes Troll fanfiction and has a Mary Sue self-insert Trollsona, she may simply be making up the rarity, power, and very existence lime-blooded Trolls to back up her Trollsona.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience The zodiac signs on the troll's shirts (along with their text color) match the color of their blood, with the exception of Karkat.
Chromatic Arrangement / Rainbow Motif: How the trolls are arrayed in the Kids' Trollslum, and how we arrange them on character pages as well. Karkat is technically off the spectrum entirely, though according to Hussie he would be a Limeblood without his mutation which would place him between Sollux and Nepeta color-wise.
The Furthest Ring does odd things with both space and time. The longer you're in there, the more indirect your path becomes. The further you travel, the more backwards your timeline becomes.
Alien Invasion: In the future of the Post-Scratch Universe, The Condesce outright invades Earth.
Aliens Speaking English: Every character known yet seems to speak English. In the case of game constructs (Carapaces, Consorts, Denizens, etc.) it seems that a session is able to load the language (much in the same fashion as Quest Beds/Cocoons) from the players. In the case of Trolls, it's revealed that English is actually Trollish with a different alphabet, since the Trolls created the universe Earth exists in. And other characters, like Doc Scratch, or the Horrorterrors, are omniscient enough that it explains away the language.
Alliterative Name: Used several times for the characters' screen names: tentacleTherapist, gardenGnostic, gutsyGumshoe, timaeusTestified, apocalypseArisen, cuttlefishCuller, uranianUmbra, and undyingUmbrage.
Jack Noir becomes the Sovereign Slayer in the kids' universe, and the Scurrilous Straggler/Spades Slick in the trolls'.
Draconian Dignitary/Diamonds Droog.
All of Them: Used by various characters, though mostly Vriska.
Alternate Self: Dreamselves, doomed timeline doubles, and Scratch counterparts.
Alternative Calendar: Alternians measure time in "solar sweeps" rather than years; one solar sweep, at least as far as age is concerned, is equal to two point sixteen repeating years. (And two solar sweeps equals four and one-third years!)
Alt Text: The banners in Act 5's Doc Scratch arc starting here.
Alternate Universe: There are five universes relevant to the plot. And Sburb/Sgrub takes place in another alternate universe for each session.
The first universe is the Kids's universe, containing Earth and humanity. It's eventually revealed that this universe was created by the Trolls in their Session.
The second universe is the Troll's universe, containing Alternia and the Troll race.
The third universe is revealed to the readers by Doc Scratch. The troll's universe was actually reset by an earlier Scratch, making it an Alternate Universe of an Alternate Universe, with the Trolls' ancestors as players.
The fourth universe is when the Kids do their own Scratch, resetting their universe. This universe also contains Earth and humanity, but things have changed a bit, and troll influences are a bit heavier.
This universe's version of Sburb, the Sburb Alpha, is depicted with a horizontally-flipped logo colored red to demonstrate its creation by Betty Crocker Corp. The universe itself is associated with green, which serves as an inversion from the pre-Scratch universe, which was associated with red and the Sburb logo was green.
Earth itself is more of less the same. However, there are a few differences:
Humans have or plan to have a Mars colony during 2011. Technology levels seem to be mostly the same however
The Condesce reveals herself to Earth on the day of Jane's entry, then systematically dismantles civilization and eventually floods the planet. Dirk and Roxy live in the far distant future on the Earth, contemporaneously with the Exiles from their session, and seemingly form a small phalanx of La Résistance.
The far future of this Earth is also home to the Cherubs Caliborn and Calliope.
Always Night: Almost every panel of Alternia is shown during the night, because the trolls cannot stand the BLISTERING ALTERNIAN SUN. The exception are panels featuring Kanaya, who is one of the few trolls who can stand the sun. She's a rainbow drinker (Alternian Vampire). It's complicated. The one daytime panel not featuring Kanaya shows why, as Terezi is blinded by the sun.
Amazing Technicolor Babies: When trolls are grubs their eyes and bodies are their blood colors. Once they pupate, their skin and eye colors become the same between all trolls, however they fill in with blood pigment as the trolls get older. The twelve main trolls are still young enough for their eyes to be gray.
A Million is a Statistic: Vriska and Eridan, killing three people between them, are considered monsters, while Jack, who killed millions, hardly seems to have hit the Moral Event Horizon. Vriska and Eridan had killed their so-called friends, rather than simply attacking their enemies. Eridan did however destroy the Matriorb, thereby dooming the Trolls to extinction, and Jack will blow up Derse, which is basically his home.
The kids and the trolls are more broken up over their friends' and loved ones' deaths than the destruction of their respective races.
Virtually nobody brings up the fact that Vriska personally murdered thousands of trolls, or that Eridan murdered their lusi note Indeed the first thing Eridan does after being officially introduced is murder a lusus. Feferi and Terezi likewise escape judgement despite being complicit in their murders for sweeps.
Feferi, at least, has an excuse: if she doesn't keep her lusus alive by feeding it the lusii Eridan hunts, it will kill everyone in the galaxy. Vriska's case is similar, if less intense (failing to feed her lusus will only lead to the death of the two of them, as opposed to the entire galaxy), but other aspects of her character mentioned elsewhere on this page keep her from being seen as sympathetic in the eyes of some.
Anachronic Order: The entire storyline is fraught with flashbacks, flashforwards, different universes (which exist in separate timelines altogether rather than the past, present, or future), and everything in between. Good luck figuring out anything. The Intermission and Act Five take this even farther.
The Midnight Crew has to take the cake for this. They have a chapter's worth of story, but have nothing to do with Homestuck. You're meant to think so, anyways.
Act 6 is in the same veins of the Intermission or Hivebent. It was however well predicted by the fans and Andrew has said it was meant to be obvious that the story would come around to the Post-Scratch Kids eventually.
This has become so prevalent that we get this from [A6I5]:
Andrew:So why don't we stop wasting everyone's time, shut the lid on this lousy MacGuffin, and be Viceroy Bubbles Von Salamancer.
Animal Motifs: Quite a bit, seeing as the Trolls are partially inspired by the Western Zodiac. Most of these are represented through their horns (Tavros = Bull, Aradia = Ram etc) while others show it through their actions (Karkat = Crab = Crabby, Vriska = Spider/Scorpion = Unpleasantness etc).
The kids have this as well: Dave is associated with crows, Rose with cats, and Jade is a dog. Dirk has a gull motif as well and Roxy is associated with cats like her pre-Scratch counterpart.
Subverted on players' planets with the salamanders, crocodiles, turtles, and iguanas. It also goes for the small animals that come out of nowhere when a player dies on their quest bed, since the only moments the narrative connects John with fireflies is when he enters the game and when he dies (and it's even more disconnected with Jade and hummingbirds).
Animation Bump: Most panels have some sort of animation to them, but it's also used shamelessly in terms of Sound Pages (Marked with an [S]). In addition to usually having great sound, later ones tend to have a dramatically different art style - compare John's first STRIFE page with [S]Cascade and you'd think they were two different comics.
Anime Hair: Only hairstyles as such, nearly any hair color in comic is only black or white, but there are some pretty ridiculous hairdos. Karkat and John (Who have Shonen Hair) aren't as bad, but Gamzee's hair is just a mess. His dancestor Kurloz is even worse. And then the Empress's hair is just insane.
Anyone Can Die: Especially since, because of dreamselves and weird time shit, they can die more then once. All the trolls have died at least once. Bro, Mom, Dad, Tavros, Feferi, Equius, Eridan, Nepeta, and Vriska are permanently dead. Probably.
Although there was introduced a (as of yet unused, and with ambiguous ruling) ring said to be able to resurrect the dead. Similarly, Jane's God Tier powers as the Maid of Life allow her to bring back everyone from the dead, but only once each. So feasibly, any dead character could come back to life.
Hussie has said on tumblr that the unofficial title of Act 5 Part 2 is 'Jack Noir Kills Everyone.' Aside from Jade's Grandfather, WV, and PM, it is hard to think of anyone he hasn't directly or indirectly killed at least once.
Ironically the one person he doesn't want to kill is Jade, and he's been responsible for killing her twice.
A Class 3a variant (Dominant Species Extinction) occurred during the Vast Glub, which killed every troll in the galaxy from psychic backlash, save for the Empress.
Class 6 (Planetary Extinction) results as part of the Reckoning. The hours leading up to the end go up the scale prior to it.
This was downgraded to a Class 4 (Extinction of higher lifeforms) during the Post-Scratch Human session due to the machinations of the Condesce. She later alterniaforms the flooded Earth and colonizes it.
A Class X (Planetary Annihilation) is brought about by Caliborn in this update, culminating in him creating a large black hole.
Class X-4 (Universal Destruction) happens as a result of Lord English's machinations. Both the Beta Human Universe and the Troll Universe are destroyed, by Jack Noir and Spades Slick respectively, acting as Lord English's pawns.
Class X-5 (Multiversal Destruction) is the aim of Derse, although why exactly hasn't really been explained.
Jack's destruction of the Human Universe was later revealed to be this, as his destruction of the Genesis Frog destroyed any and all parallel universes from the Human Universe.
Class Z (Total Destruction of Reality) has been hinted at, due to the unknown entity killing the Horrorterrors.
Apocalyptic Memo Page: Due to the nature of time in Homestuck, Karkat's final memo actually gets viewed by the people it most affects before it even happens.
Arc Number: "04/13", the date the comic began, has appeared quite a number times throughout the story, in obvious and obscure fashions. A compilation of the various instances can be found here. The trolls have their own arc number, 612, detailed in the act that began on June 12. A third number has been introduced, which is the sum of the first two: 1025. Its first major appearance was the release date of Alterniabound, October 25. A fourth number, for the post-Scratch session, appears to be 11/11/11, the date of the start of Act 6.
Several of the Homestuck album prices are variations on various arc numbers.
On Day 612, the 16th of December 2010 (12/16 backwards is 61/21), Hussie released the video of John ascending.
11/11/11, aka 2x3PRONG DAY. Also extends to 11/11, 111, or simply just 11.
And with 4 Kids, 4 Trolls, and 3 Carapaces, 11 people escaped the Troll and Beta Human sessions (ignoring Jade's bringing of their lands, as apparently that was preordained in its own way).
Also has a minor bit of retroactive meaning; MSPA became the longest webcomic on record on 2/11/11
ONE ZILLION is the arc number of the short-lived act 6 act 5 act 2.
Arc Symbol: Card suits and pool balls are seen often throughout the comic, usually in relation to The Midnight Crew and Troll romance quadrants for the former and The Felt and Lord English for the latter. Bec's face and the scratched record also qualify.
Arc Words: Lots, as part of Andrew Hussie's policy of self-references.
"Ascend" and its variations.
"Rise up" was common early on and still pops up occasionally.
"He is already here."
"Scratch": Used at various times to mean a Negative Space Wedgie, a Sufficiently Advanced Alien, the scratched side of Terezi's coin, and the scratched record on Dave's shirt, mirrored by disc 2 of Homestuck (not of Sburb or Sgrub), after Terezi tries to play it on a turntable, causing the game to glitch up briefly.
"Make her pay." and "Luck doesn't actually matter." are minor examples; the former eventually comes to represent the Cycle of Revenge that plagues the Troll's session, while the later is initially stated as a sort of Screw Destiny but eventually comes to mean You Can't Fight Fate.
"See you soon!"
"Vast [X]" makes a lot of appearances. So far the Vast Glub, the Vast Joke, the Vast Croak, the Vast Expletive, and the Vast Honk have been referenced, but there may be others. All of these are either implied or outright stated to be truly significant in some way. For example, Feferi's lusus is basically Troll Cthulhu, and if she ever raises her voice above a whisper, many of the lower-caste Trolls will die. If she gets really angry, or really hungry, Troll legend says that she may utter the Vast Glub which will kill all the Trolls in the Alternian universe with the exceptions of the Imperial caste, of whom there are exactly two at any given time.
In a meta example, "You can't escape the miles. No one can escape the miles," started out as something the Dignitary said once, but undyingUmbrage is trying to make them into Arc Words, despite resistance from other characters who don't think it's a thing.
Art Evolution: The author's skill with flash has improved quite a lot since he started. Compare this early page with this one. Regular updates have the same sprite style since the beginning, and the "hero mode" drawings have a consistent style, although they appear much more often later in the comic. The author admits this is still well within his talent and he prefers the simpler style, though this has changed somewhat.
Also inverted in terms of Hussie's skill—drawing the high-detail cover for the "Heir Transparent" album in fact took him more time than it would have before he started the comic, simply because he just doesn't do that kind of stuff lately.
He has an art team who make drawings for the flash cartoons, sometimes in different (he'll say better) styles.
It finally struck static pages itself, as Andrew is experimenting with more realistic art. This is the first example of it, which becomes morefine-tunedlater.
He's also used EarthBound-style sprites, though those are the work of the art team.
Even if you compare instances of the normal sprite style, you can tell that he's constantly improving there. Compare John's design to, say, Jade or any of the trolls, or even John's original attire to his most recent two outfits; the newer work is generally considerably more refined and eye-pleasing. Even among the trolls this becomes evident—compare Karkat (who we see way before any of the others) to pretty much every other troll.
While some of the above art styles were short-lived, faces in Hero Mode lately have gotten much more expressive.
Art Major Physics: Kanaya kicked Gamzee in the bone bulge, causing his hat, glasses, and shoes to be blown off. Then she punched Vriska and chainsawed Eridan in half before the glasses started descending on her face. AT A CONSTANT VELOCITY.
Following that page, Andrew introduced some new styles into the main comic pages, including EarthBound-like sprites and more detailed styles in the traditionally drawn panels. See here and here, for instance.
Real Life people are usually represented using Photoshopped photos of themselves. When the Insane Clown Posse faces off against B2 Dave, though, they're drawn in both the normal and Hero Mode styles.
Andrew doesn't understand biology very well. This is most obvious with the troll's blood colors (as pigmented body fluids make no sense at all) and their reproduction methods (mixing genetic material for "strongly dominant and strongly recessive genes" sounds scientific but is just Techno Babble), as well as the high rate of significant mutations (Sollux and Vriska especially are never much explained despite being far beyond the genetic norm) and the nautical royalty race (which in reality is more or less a completely different species).
Pigmented body fluids makes a great deal of sense, since that of chordates (e.g., humans) contains hemoglobin, which is red/dark purple depending on whether it's oxygenated or not, and that of arthropods contains hemocyanin, which is cyan/grey depending on whether it's oxygenated or not. A single species having pigments of multiple colors makes less sense, but troll reproduction is different enough to (potentially) justify it.
Act 6 opens with a shot of Jane's house from above in Washington state in November. All the trees shown have turned their leaves, since it's fall. However, forests in the Pacific Northwest are rife with evergreen trees which do not change color, but none are to be seen (except around the Lalonde house in upstate NY).
The kids and their ancestors are all created directly from genetic code, either copied from a past version of themselves or created by combining the genes of two people. Yet all of them are "born" with diapers, and the nearsighted even have glasses. Three-Month-Old Newborn is also in effect, with each child already being strong enough to crawl.
Artistic License - Physics: The united trolls & humans plan to be sent at near light-speed on their asteroid to the new B2 session in a single push. When Karkat objects that they can't stay ahead of a pursuing Jack, Rose shuts him up by mentioning "Troll Isaac Newton," which is well and good except for two problems:
Accelerating to near light-speed in a single short push would impart enough energy to render them instantly into a sub-atomic plasma.
The Medium is breathable, so there's presumably air resistance. Hitting air at near light-speed would also more than vaporize them. It would also slow them down, gradually. Newton's 1st Law would only prevent this in a vacuum.
By the endgame, the houses that are a central part of Sburb form towers as wide as a regular 2-story residential house, and reach a height of a significant percentage of their planet's radius. Even supposing Baby Planets of only a few miles wide, there is no way to do that with any material or building technique known to man, and trying to do it by copy/pasting parts of residential houses together is just laughable. What is particularly odd is that the structural merit of different parts was discussed at an early stage of the game. However, it is possible that Sburb relaxes the laws of physics within the Incipisphere as they pertain to architecture, since building these towers is such a central aspect of the gameplay.
The trolls were able to move far faster than light-speed, meaning the g-forces are not an issue, at least when using troll telekinesis. The friction problem does still hold merit though, given that during the Reckoning, meteors light on fire before entering Skaia's gate, and the meteor is later shown having a fiery trail in the Furthest Ring.
Both apply to John and Jade in Andrew's study however. From their perspective they're moving at the speed of light through an environment with an atmosphere and gravity for 3 years. The time dilation for their journey is also the wrong way around: they should experience the journey between the windows in a shorter time than Hussiebot does instead of experiencing 3 years.
Actually, due to the combination of time dilation and length contraction, the journey should take about the same amount of time for them as it does for Hussiebot. However, light does not take 3ns to travel 1 yard. Using SI units, it can easily be shown that 3ns is the time taken for light to travel (just over) 10cm. 1 yard would take light around 27ns to cover.
Caliborn's entry toys with the actual physics of a black hole for cinematic effect.
Averted with the eclipses of Derse and Prospit. Some fans have called this trope on them because of the rarity of eclipses in real life. However, the rarity is largely due to eccentricities in orbits, which don't seem to exist in the Incipisphere. Therefore it's perfectly reasonable for Derse and Prospit to have eclipses on a regular basis.
The moons of Prospit and Derse are held in orbit with physical chains which, when cut, send the moons flying. The moons, however, are nearly as massive as the planets they orbit. The gravitational forces between the two should be more than enough to keep the moons in orbit. If anything, there should be a structure to prevent their gravities from pulling themselves together.
The moons most likely revolve around their planets at a high speed, so their gravitational forces alone probably wouldn't be enough to keep them from flying off. This raises another problem, though, in that the two similarly-sized bodies should rotate around a point on the chain, rather than the center of Prospit/Derse itself.
Ascended Meme: On the forums, due to the community's general personality, many forum polls had "WORCESTERSHIRE SAUCE" as a non-sequitur choice. Shortly after this happened, Worcestershire sauce got a mention in the comic. There are many other examples, as Andrew Hussie incorporates speculation into the comic.
Now and then in Octopimp's videos, Eridan exclaims "Nyeh!", a speech quirk that has been referenced sporadically throughout the fandom. It has since made its way into his ancestor's speech during A6I3.
TG: i always keep birds in here its sort of my thing GG: ohhhhhhh GG: kind of like all those silly naked puppets are your bros thing? TG: no no thats irony this is like TG: sincere honest to god psychosis TG: im training to be a lame gothy supervillain
Inhabitant- "Look at this! Another Cherished Idol profaned! Such sacrilege has become commonplace with the recent glut of the Underlings. It would bring a tear to my eye if I were not so clearly fit to be tied with these hyperactive mannerisms and severe attention deficit oh my god look a bug."
Author Appeal: For one, glasses. Seriously, over half the main cast wears glasses of some kind note John, Jade, Jane, Jake, and Vriska have actual corrective lenses, All 4 Striders, Sollux, and Equius wear shades, Eridan is a bit of an enigma but might wear them as part of being a hipster, Terezi wears glasses less out of a corrective need and more to hide her burned-out retinas, and Feferi wears her goggles, which may or may not do anything.
Amongst other things, clouds, superpowers, and intricate plots are things Andrew enjoys.
Dave is also Andrew's avatar to a very minor extent, but not directly. His dialogue is easiest for Andrew to write, often parrots what Andrew believes, and early on used borrowed actual quotes from Andrew's own IM conversations.
Dirk is also Andrew's avatar, but to a much greater extent than Dave. He and Andrew seem to have similar ideas about irony, and they've both performed MSTings of actual books by writing in them.
Chekhov's Gunman: Gamzee, according the the narrator on the January 1st update, is "the most important character in Homestuck" despite seeming like a minor character at first. (The seriousness of this statement is, however, debatable.)
Gamzee manages to create the a large portion of the code that created Doc Scratch and made the doll that spawned Jack's hatred for harlequin clothes. He's practically the indirect cause of a lot of the bad things in the comic. On the other hand, when "the most important character" regarded the new beginning, Cal was sitting in Gamzee's lap while he chatted with Doc Scratch about the same event, so it's hard to say who this referred to even if serious.
Fedorafreak also appears to be one, having only appeared in one conversation before (one that didn't even have a Pesterlog devoted to it) but is has been recently revealed that he is playing the game and ended up dying on a Quest Bed.
God Tier ascensions intentionally invoke this too, as the entire Incipisphere glows when someone ascends via a Quest Bed. The ones hidden in the moons of Derse and Prospit do not invoke this however.
Ax-Crazy/Hair-Trigger Temper: Trolls are basically an Ax-Crazy species, but most of the highbloods fall into fits of rage constantly. Feferi is the only exception to this, as Gamzee goes insane later on. Even the lower-blooded trolls are not beyond this, as the fits of rage from Kanaya showcase. Aradia also rages occasionally, but these occurred while she was in a robot fueled by blue blood.
Baby Planets: All of the celestial bodies located throughout the Incipisphere.
Back from the Dead: Every single main character has died at least once, except for Gamzee and Terezi. All of the alpha and beta humans died and then came back as god tiers. All of the beta trolls died and then came back as ghosts. Of the alpha trolls: Vriska and Aradia died and returned as god tiers; Eridan, Sollux, Nepeta, Feferi, and Equius died and returned as sprites, Karkat was killed and then revived by Crocker Tier Jane, and Kanaya died and returned as a Rainbow Drinker.
"Since you are reading this, chances are you have already installed this game on your computer. If this is true, like many others, you have just participated in bringing about the end of the world. But don't beat yourself up about it."
Again when it seems like Doc Scratch is expecting the Big Bad Lord English, but Spades Slick arrives at his door instead.
And again here, when Grimdark Rose and God-Tier John confront Bec Noir over the not yet cold bodies of their murdered parents. Much is made of John's reaction to the news, and the stage is set for an epic two-on-one battle with much dynamic music, badass poses, the title card 'Round 1', then—John is killed instantly.
Space is apparently so breathable that the cast decides that space is a more comfortable environment to raise cloned frogs than the planet. Mainly because, far from being cold, space is warmer than the planet below.
The Bechdel Test: Passes easily, though some characters discuss romance a lot, the gender balance is still even. Nepeta and Eridan both discuss romance and little else, but are both also minor characters.
Benevolent Architecture: Parodied. Stitch and Crowbar are found setting up a room with two rows of chest-high crates before a gunfight breaks out. Very thoughtful of them.
Beware the Silly Ones: Courtyard Droll/Clubs Deuce is an idiotic goofball. He's also the killed the most (that we see) of the whole Midnight Crew, with his body count including Jade, Jake's dream self, and the majority of the Felt.
BFH: The Telescopic Sassacrusher is too big for John to use on his own. And then there's Fear No Anvil, which in its natural size is too big even for the gauntlets. Inverted, however, with The Bunny's weapons, which, while insanely powerful, are too small for the kids to use.
BFS: All of Dave's swords are significantly longer than he is tall in the standard art style. While more proportional in the various art shifts, they still fall under this trope.
Gamzee, who has basically become the overarching Big Bad of the trolls' continuing story arc.
Doc Scratch, the Big Bad of Act 5, paving the way for his master...
Bigger Bad: Lord English, the biggest bad (in both size and threat) of them all, taking the title as the main Big Bad, now that Doc Scratch is dead and that Jack has met his match (his exact match: PM with WV's ring, making her as powerful as him).
Having a Bigger Bad is also referenced here, with all its implications.
Bilingual Bonus: Used in an interesting way. The troll alphabet is actually the Daedric Alphabet from The Elder Scrolls, rotated 180 degrees. The first name suggestion translates as "Turdodor Fuckball." The "real" name, however, translates as "Trollplanet", which is obviously just a joke since the real name is "Alternia". The attempted insulting name for Karkat translates as "Bulgereek Nookstain". During their fight scenes, the word "GRIEF" appears instead of the kids' STRIFE. Much later, we discover that the name of the Fluorcite Octet's ultimate attack translates as "Ancestral Awakening."
With the introduction of "Caledfwlch", it is suddenly a good time to be able to speak Welsh (it's the Welsh name for Excalibur, and pronounced "Caledvoolch"). Caliburn, another name for Excalibur, is derived from this, meaning Caliborn's name may or may not be a Meaningful Name.
DAVE: what are welsh things doing in this game
DAVESPRITE: thats an awesome question
Starting from this page Serenity narrates WV's dream in Morse code, and it is not gibberish—actually it's a Call Back to this scene with Jade. And a bug is involved in both of them.
Serenity: Help, my friend is stuck inside the big can building. You must hurry. He's not very bright and he doesn't understand when I blink. Are you watching me? Oh no, don't blink me, you don't understand blinking either. How do you people even exchange ideas without luminous rear ends?
Bizarrchitecture: The players houses are built up basically by copy-pasting bits of the architecture they already have.
Bizarre Alien Reproduction: Trolls reproduce by donating two samples of genetic material to the Mother Grub, with one sample coming from a loving pair and the other coming from arch-enemies. This works just as well between same-gender couples as it does between mixed-gender couples, rendering sexual preference meaningless to the entire species. They must be able to provide at least one set of buckets, or they will be killed. Among other things, this also means buckets are sex toys to trolls.
Cherubs at first blush seem to be a little more sane in their boning, due to having two distinct genders and a simple enough pairing between two opposite-gendered individuals. Except, all reproduction is fueled by intense hatred between wildly conflicting morals and the beginning of courtship has both turning into 1 AU (or 149,597,870,700 m (92,955,807.3 mi)) long invincible serpents who duke it out until one wins, upon which the winner assumes the insemination position. Either gender can wind up carrying the egg, which they then lay upon a planet orbiting a red giant soon to be a black hole. Then the spawn will hatch and quickly generate two conflicting, in morals and gender, personalities.
Bizarre Alien Senses: The comic plays with this. After Terezi lost her normal eyesight, she learned how to taste and smell colors to compensate. But when she contacts the human protagonists, she messes with them by claiming that all Alternians share her abilities.
Blue and Orange Morality: Troll society takes killing relatively easily. Childhood on Alternia begins with a series of dangerous trials designed to off the weakest of them; once the survivors pass, they're introduced to an essentially lawless society where everyone has to fend for themselves, compassion is weakness and your frenemies are likely to stab you in the back. Arbitrary cullings are commonplace. They don't seem to have a huge problem with murder in its own right, just when it happens to someone they actually like, in which case it's okay to get bloody revenge on their fallen friend's behalf. Trolls who would qualify as dangerous sociopaths and serial killers on Earth are just thought of as huge tools, except for Terezi, who is well-liked (possibly because unlike Vriska, who kills indiscriminately, Terezi has a set of rules she follows). The actions of Vriska are more understandable given the culture she grew up in—and it's implied she isn't nearly the worst out there, just the worst given characterization.
Trolls are so inherently violent that being someone's Morality Pet is an integral part of their culture.
It is first implied then later outright stated to be due to Doc Scratch's meddling. The pre-Scratch version of Troll culture was too soft and the players failed hard at the game (because they were too weak and unprepared), so Doc Scratch (on Lord English's orders) manipulated their culture to bring about a brutal, violent, prepared group of teens the second time around.
Body Motifs: Missing eyes and missing limbs recur in tandem, sometimes justified, sometimes not.
Bootstrapped Theme: Sburban Jungle and the drumline from Upward Movement (Dave Owns) are more or less the main themes at this point.
Also, Doctor. It was originally used for John's land, then for his ascension to God Tier, then Jade's ascension to God Tier, and by now it is the most heavily remixed song in the entire Homestuck discography.
Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "Gosh you love movies. Almost as much as you love skulls. And movies that have skulls in them? Oh my god."
Breaking Bad News Gently: Dirk dropping the bomb that he's from the future. Jake debates sitting down for this news, then realize he's already sitting. "Maybe I should stand up."
During [S] Wake, when Tavros and Vriska face off, he holds up the decapitated head of one of Vriska's dolls and makes a throat slitting gesture, she replies by holding up HIS SEVERED LEGS AND TORSO and making a waist cutting gesture.
Which, in case people didn't know, is a joke originally featured in AlterniaBound in which you can find Tavros' severed legs in a chest in a part of the lab only accessible while playing Vriska.
Meta-ish-example. When Hussie talked about Jack Noir's transformation into Bec Noir, he mentioned that while the tentacles vanished Jack could still manifest them. This didn't come up until the end of Act 5.
You probably forgot about that pallet of shaving cream, didn't you? It returns with a bang right before [S] Cascade.
Relatively early on, Terezi helps John get the captchacode for a non-functioning rocket pack that he creates on accident so that he can create a functional version. A bit later, in Act 5, Vriska retrieves her rocket boots from one of her loot strongholds so she can give her paraplegic Sgrub client, Tavros, the captcha code for them so he can make his own pair. The rocket shoes code looks a little... familiar.
Jade's pumpkins have been disappearing her whole life. So when we see WV steal one with a teleporter, mystery solved, right? Except that only explains one pumpkin. A few thousand panels later in Act 6, we finally find out what Jake has been stealing the rest of her pumpkins, and her intense efforts to grow pumpkins that she can use have created some kind of super-pumpkins that have completely overgrown his version of the island.
One of the leprechauns/ members of The Felt (Purple Stripe) is named Eggs here, in the first intermission. His name is used on this page as an Easter joke (the page was uploaded on March 31st, 2013 - Easter of that year)
But Thou Must: One of the inhabitants of the Land of Wind and Shade asks John to sell him his dapper suit. At many other such choices in the segment there are two buttons to click, "Yes" and "No", but this time "No" is the only option.
When the friendly clown offers to be Jane's guide, your choices are "No" and "fuck no." When he starts offering potions for sale, she ends up buying some regardless of which option you choose.
Later, Crocker-tier Jane sells Kanaya troll blood. The options are "Yes" and some other form of yes, differing with each bottle.
In AlterniaBound, the choices when Gamzee asks Karkat to sleep on his horn pile are "No" and "Hell No".
in A6I4, when Gamzee meets up with Caliborn, you're presented with two choices just like with Jane. The choices are Caliborn's face, and Caliborn's face. Either one ends in Caliborn shooting Gamzee for panels and panels straight.
In Act 6 Act 5 Act 2, after playing a purposefully annoying mini game in which you just move trickster Dirk to the right until he reaches his goal, the options to "Play again?" are "no" and "fuck no." However, if you roll over either button, a bigger button will appear saying "YES," taking you back to the beginning of the game.
GT:The last thing i need on my bday is another installment of and i quote manbro bukkake theater. TT: You still don't actually know what that means, do you. GT: Not really? Its your friggin figure of speech man. I gathered it just meant getting slimed like in ghost busters or somesuch.
During Aranea's expositive monologue on cherubs, two fantrolls from the people who managed to hit the $10,000 donation mark on the Homestuck Kickstarter made an appearance. The two are then immediately annihilated by a cherub.
Canon Immigrant: The Midnight Crew was originally a four-man Psycho Rangers group created for a a donation request during Problem Sleuth that spent most of their time having non-canonical skirmishes with the main characters. However, in Homestuck they actually play a more relevant role in the plot.
Captain Ersatz: Averted with Grampa Harley's Iron Man suit, but the Iron Lass suit somewhat plays with it, and references it during Jade's crafting frenzy.
"If you are going to adopt a new regular outfit, you'd prefer something a little comfier and less ostentatious, and if possible, in less flagrant violation of copyright laws."
Cartesian Karma: Done so to a more general sense. Vriska is controlled essentially by her civilization's violent culture and expectations, her own insecurities/ego, self-destructive actions, and the rules of paradox space itself. She 'over-comes' it eventually, but by then it's rather to late for her to change. She even acknowledges she can't change what she's done by any means, but accepts it and any karma facing her because she believes she needs to do the right thing.
Cassandra Truth: Post-Scratch George Washington had prophetic dreams of the Insane Clown Posse being installed as Presidents, and tried to amend the Constitution to exclude "unruly jesters", but everyone assumed that he was high on the colonial cannabis.
Cast of Snowflakes: Everyone but the Pawn Armies are distinctly different. Even the three main Exiles, who are all Pawns, have slight differences that differentiate them from each other outside of their wardrobe; AR is taller and squatter than WV, for example.
Rose, who might be the most magical of the four kids, prototyped her dead cat Jaspers to her kernelsprite, and also made a genetic sequence using the letters MEOW (instead of the typical GCAT) which can be spliced with other DNA to create godlike entities.
And now the Post-Scratch Kids universe has the God Cat, or GCAT for short, which is a literal magic cat, being created with an alternate version of the above code.
Cats Are Mean: the above mentioned God Cat is seen as kind of a nuisance by the kids.
Cerebus Retcon: Several. Some examples include Jade's narcolepsy (Vriska testing her psychic powers), Karkat's arguments with his time shifted selves (creating a sense of extreme self-loathing), and Gamzee's clown honks (becomes Nightmare Fuel after he snaps).
Cerebus Syndrome: It used to be a comic about some kid trying to get to his computer to play a game, then shit gets real and it turns out the game destroys entire planets. As of the Act 4 finale and the reveal of the Big Bad, there's a lot more bloodshed, and some of the characters may be going mentally unhinged from the stress. Though despite its descent into complex drama, it has managed to retain its humour value.
Character Class System: The titles of Sburb players amount to this, each generally defining the player's aptitude and intended role in Sburb - the Knight class (Dave and Karkat) is obviously combat-oriented, and the Seer class (Rose and Terezi) is intended as a support role to guide the other players according to Doc Scratch. They're not hard and fast however and people can corrupt their Myth Arc and mimic other classes.
Ashes to Crashes: John topples the SACRED URN, spilling his Grandma's ashes. The work is nothing if not Genre Savvy: "In retrospect, upon mulling cinematic tropes regarding ash-filled urns, this outcome was a virtual certainty."
Chekhov's Boomerang: Grandma Nanna's ashes end up Tier 2 prototyping John's sprite when the urn falls off of the mantle again.
Biscuits useless oven turns out to be actually very useful, just not for timetraveling. It actually functions as a sort of portable, oven-sized Hammer Space .
Chekhov's Gag: Almost every update contains some sort of Call Back joke. It would take far too much effort to list them all.
Remember the sarcophagi and mummies Jade's Grandpa collected that creeped her out? Watch the second intermission. Yeah. They'll scare the crap out of you too.
John's hatred of Betty Crocker.
Chekhov's Gift: The stuffed bunny from Con Air. Thanks to weird time shit, John receives the same bunny three times over. Dave sends him the original as an ironic birthday present. It goes back in time with baby Rose, grows ratty over the years, and is then given to John again after Rose repairs it with knitting. This version of the bunny is sent back in time with baby Jade. She eventually upgrades it into the autonomous and heavily-armed robobunny that allows Jack Noir to overthrow the Black Queen and devastate the Medium— but also protects John from Jack at a critical moment. Which was why she made it for him in the first place.
Chekhov's Skill: John's dubiously obtained "Fear No Anvil" hammer. It's shown in the John: Enter Village flash to freeze even the ludicrously unhittable Uranium imps, implying the same could be said of timestopping powers on any Green Sun-powered being. With John's real body dead, we're left to believe that this is a red herring...but then, the long-discounted Aradia manifests herself as the Maid of Time and freezes the rampaging Jack dead in his tracks.
As discussed under Cosmic Retcon, there's actually an Aversion as well. At a point during Act 6, John's arm shows up in many different panels across the history of the story; these panels have been permanently edited so his hand is in the original update as well. So while this may appear to be a Chekhov's Gun to new readers, it was added in a Cosmic Retcon
Chess Motifs: The conflict between the light and dark kingdoms is represented with chess imagery. Wayward Vagabond also plays a game of chess by himself to pass the time. Black wins, foreshadowing the fact that the Dark Kingdom will win the battle.
Turns to blackjack motifs starting in Act 4. Also turns to pool for a bit with The Felt, a pool-themed gang.
The Chosen One(s): "A realm where four will gather, the Heir of Breath and Seer of Light, the Knight of Time and Witch of Space, and together they will Ascend." Apparently, players who successfully make it to the Medium are Chosen. Turns out they're chosen because the game creates them.
Clone Degeneration: The mutated paradox clones created from Jaspers' Paradox imprint ghosts.
To elaborate, Paradox clones are clones of themselves, through stable time loops. Mom and Rose attempted to paradox clone Jaspers the cat, but since Jaspers was not born through any such stable time loop (at least as far as we've seen), two failed paradox clones were produced.
In [Doc Scratch's] case, it's more like Color Coded For Your Inconvenience - [his text is in all white, forcing readers and characters alike to highlight it in order to read it easily.] The annoyance of this is repeatedly lampshaded.
Combinatorial Explosion: Hoo boy. The alchemy system ostensibly allows any object to be combined with any other object to create a new one, and there's at least two methods of combination (perhaps as many as there are logical operators). As lampshaded here, the number of possible objects (over 280 trillion) suddenly doesn't seem so big when you realize that it's supposed to allow any possible object, excluding "key" items like Sburb discs.
Although since the game controls time, it's entirely possible that it knows everything the players will try to make, meaning it only has to prepare for a few hundred combinations.
Of course, then we learn about the Intellibeam Laserstation, and that there are apparently codes unreadable by players. Meaning that the vast majority of objects not used commonly by players could simply be laserstation captcha codes, which for all we know have additional characters not seen in normal codes and perhaps not even percievable to anything but the Laserstation, i.e. the Sburb disc or a pumpkin, for some reason.
Comedic Sociopathy: John in particular was victim to this in early acts. More generally dispersed now.
Conditioned to Accept Horror: The trolls live in a brutally Social DarwinistCrapsack World where, had SGRUB not taken place and destroyed the planet, most of them would've probably been culled for being disabled (Terezi and Tavros) or low-blooded mutants (Karkat). Daylight brings rainbow (blood)-drinkers, the undead, while they sleep in a tub of tranquilizers to make sure they don't get intensely brutal nightmares of blood and carnage. And this was all directly caused by a devil figure living on an unnatural moon.
In "[S] Jade Wake Up", Jade meets Feferi and they both meet the Noble Circle of Horrorterrors. Jade is disturbed while Feferi thinks they're nothing to be scared of since the creature that is effectively her foster mother was an Eldritch Abomination too.
Convection Schmonvection: The Land Of Heat And Clockwork. Not only is the entire place running with magma but the only platforms appear to be metalgears, which would either melt, or conduct the heat right to the people on them (Conduction Shmonduction?). Justified, as the game wouldn't want to make itself unbeatable by killing all the players that touch one of the planets.
Corrupted Data: Partway through act 5, the Homestuck game disc gets a nasty scratch, so the next several pages are marred by visual glitches and corrupted text. Eventually it causes the story to freeze just before a climactic fight, so the reader takes the disc to Doc Scratch to fix it.
In Act 6 Act 6, when the story switches from discs to console cartridges, the cartridge in question is jammed with special stardust and candy corn, producing similar effects.
Cosmic Comic Story: It plays with the tics of gaming, and has intricate epic plots that reach literary levels of complexity, although the comedic PS is more humor and gaming based. It tends to break their verses' mechanics quite a lot, such as destroying healthbars or shattering name-windows.
Cosmic Retcon: Even though it's stated that the protagonists are unnamed until their thirteenth birthday, flashbacks seem to indicate that a character's name is applied retroactively.
The Scratch also functions as this, changing some of the parameters and resetting the universe itself from an earlier state.
In a more true to the sense of the trope, when John touches the Weapon in Act 6, his arm is shown in many panels from previous parts of the story. All the panels were edited to show his arm in the original panel, adding a retroactive Chekhov's Gun for future readers.
Cosplay: Invoked for shenanigans by Vriska and Tavros. This seems to be something of a theme for Vriska, as she later takes issue with John's peppy green outfit, and smoothly pressures him into cosplaying as her. Later we find out Terezi has her own set too.
Crapsack World: Every planet other than Earth, and it gets worse after the players enter too.
Crazy Cultural Comparison: Common buckets are, due to how Trolls reproduce, basically akin to porn stashes in Alternian culture, and leaving one exposed is a major faux pas.
Creation Myth: Word of God says that this is one of things Homestuck was supposed to be from the start. Universes are created when people play Sburb/Sgrub, and the new universe is based on the players and their actions. The trolls "created" our universe, and the constellations of the Zodiac represent them, not the other way around.
Crossing the Burnt Bridge: Subverted. Karkat thinks he's going to have to apologize to Vriska in order to get her to join the Red Team. When he finds out that Vriska's been kicked off the Blue Team, he instantly rescinds his apology, and apologizes to himself for even making it in the first place.
Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: Jack Noir finally gets tired of Dad's busy fists. "Here, (flicks switchblade) stick this in your pipe and bleed to death slowly."
Spades Slick casing an all-green mansion belonging to Lord English. He looks forward to "painting this ugly house red with the blood of those miserable green motherfuckers."
If anyone tried to steal Boxcars' set of wax lips, he "would eat their eyeballs and deliver an angry lecture into their empty sockets."
Later in the story, when Hearts Boxcars tries to command Tavros to get up and kiss Vriska (unaware of his disability), he threatens him among other things to rip his horns off and put 'em through his eyes.