Darkest Hour: On the meteor with the trolls, they all reach this once Eridan, Vriska, and especially Gamzee start flipping their shit.
An even darker one occurs with the aftermath of [S] GAME OVER: More than half of the remaining main cast dies.
Darker and Edgier: The Post-Scratch Kids' session looks a lot more grim than the others, with all the worlds having a post-apocalyptic vibe (with all of the consorts long-dead) and populated by Dem Bones versions of enemies.
Dark Is Not Evil: In every session, roughly half the players' dream selves live on Derse. The Horrorterrors as well, who don't seem to be as malevolent as suggested.
The Day The Music Lied: John and Rose find Noir by their dead parents bodies, take out their weapons, a big Round 1 appears on the top of the screen, suitably awesome music starts to play - only to stop when Noir stabs John through the chest. Again.
A later update begins as a Call Back to Jack's ascension by playing "Black"...and then Draconian Dignitary makes a Record Needle Scratch, abruptly ending the flash.
"Dirk: Synchronize" ends abruptly when Dirk cuts off his own head. Subverted when "Dirk: Unite" picks up where it left off.
It features a ridiculous amount of dead alternate selves for nearly every character that has been introduced so far. This is due to the rules that characterise SBURB: the only successful way to beat the game is following the so-called "alpha timeline", and the game will eventually punish whoever makes a choice that is different from what's predetermined in the alpha timeline, thus generating a "doomed" timeline in which failure is the only option. Dead alternate selves are also an important part of the plot, as players have access to where they reside in the afterlife, the "dream bubbles", through various means and they usually aid the players and at times even influence the plot in a significant way.
Other than doomed selves, one could also consider guardians to be actually alternate selves, since they are the same characters but with their roles switched (for instance, grandfather and grandson, or ancestor and descendant, or even older and younger bro). And guess what, "alternate me is dead" is true for each and every one of their kids version. In every universe so far.
Being a Time player, Dave has the power to go back and forth in time. When the Draconian Dignitary steals his copies of Rose's Journals from his room, he considers the idea to go back in time and stop the thief, only to discard the idea after noticing the corpse of his doomed timeline self lying on the floor of his very room, proof that he has actually already tried that.
Death Is Cheap: Boy howdy is it ever. Between alternate selves, Resurrective Immortality, and potent healers, the main characters do not stay dead for long. Most ways of coming back to life have costs or limitations, but they include:
If they die in the real world while their dream self is still alive, any player can be revived once by a kiss.
If your dream self dies while your real-world self is still alive, you just wake up and continue, dream-self-less.
Dying on your Quest Bed in the real world while your dream-self is still alive revives you as a God Tier automatically.
Dying as your dream self while on the Quest Bed sarcophagus in the center of your respective moon (even if only one version of you remains) not only revives you but makes you a God Tier.
Time travel allows deaths to be reversed, although it tends to create doomed timelines; and any duplicates created by unstable time loops are doomed. There's ways around this, though, like prototyping yourself, and methods of time travel apparently exist which bypass these restrictions entirely.
Prototyping any corpse resurrects them as a sprite.
Any God Tier automatically resurrects if their death was neither just nor heroic.
A God Tier Maid of Life can resurrect any given person once with no other (known) limitations.
Felt member Die carries a voodoo doll that lets anyone who has it shift to a timeline where given people are alive or dead by adding or removing pins, though it's (apparently) limited to affecting people it has pins for.
It's also possible to produce clones or alternate versions by various means (including scratching a session to hard-reset it), but these aren't the same people as the original. Any of the core 'session' characters (like the respective kings and queens, or their underlings like Jack Noir) is guaranteed to continuously reappear in new copies like this as long as the game is still played anywhere.
Even if all other methods fail and someone actually stays dead, they continue to exist as a ghost who can interact with the living under a wide variety of situations (and can often use telekinesis or robots to affect the physical world directly.) And only one character (the Big Bad) is capable of killing ghosts permanently. When he does, most people have massive numbers of alternative ghosts on account of dying in different timelines.
The Ring of Life can bring any ghost who wears it back to life.
Death World: Alternia. HEINOUS BROODS OF THE UNDEAD rise during the day to feast on the living, terrible MUSCLEBEASTS roam at night, and the Alternian sun is invariably described as "blistering", to the point that it permanently blinded Terezi after mere seconds of staring into it, driving most trolls to nocturnal behavior out of sheer necessity.
Eridan turned his planet, Land of Wrath and Angels, into one when he started to kill the consorts there to the point where they started to go berserk. Even the most powerful troll players don't want to go there.
Dirk's Land of Tombs and Krypton, aside from being populated with particularly large skeletal minions, has a poisonous atmosphere.
Angels once Eridan pissed them off. Fast, angry, and takes a full minute of sustained firepower from a legendary weapon just to kill one. There are thousands.
Demoted to Extra: Tavros, Nepeta, Equius, Eridan, and Feferi have a fair amount of spotlight during Act 5 Act 1, and Tavros was one of the first troll characters introduced, even in Act 4, but all of them were killed off midway through Act 5 Part 2 and have been scarcely mentioned since, save for their deaths being motivation for revenge.
Ascended Extra: Gamzee was even more minor than the others, yet he takes a central role in Act 5 Act 2
Diabolus Ex Machina / Contrived Coincidence: Really there are a lot of these. Justified perhaps in that You Can't Fight Fate, but just for example: Jack Noir emerges from the Lotus time capsule at precisely the correct moment to dismantle WQ's plans; which also only fell apart because WV hit the caps lock button at the wrong moment.
Another major example is Bec's prototyping and Jade's entering the medium, both of which happen at the exact worst possible time (even a few seconds later and Jack Noir might have been dead, sparing everyone a huge amount of trouble.) Justified because Vriska was actively trying to bring it about, of course, and because any timeline where it didn't happen exactly right was doomed.
Disaster Dominoes: Equius punches a robot through a wall for "judging" him. The robot's head falls and activates the Catentative Doomsday Dice Cascader... which fails... but becomes dislodged and causes a piece of Equius' hive to break off and fall, killing his lusus and grievously wounding Vriska's. The whole thing starts here and goes on for about ten pages.
Jade's present, a killer robot made from the Con Air rabbit with miniaturized versions of extremely powerful weapons, intended to be received by John way before he (or any other player) would have been able to make the big versions legitimately. It wound up in the wrong hands and caused a lot of trouble first.
Vriska and Eridan both had the most powerful examples of their respective kind abstrata before they even started Sgrub.
Future-Dave, who had been as far as the Fifth Gate, brought Dave and John some cool gear. There's also Rose's Thorns of Oglogoth.
Discount Lesbians: For Trolls, gender is unimportant when it comes to romance. It manages to sidestep most of the unfortunate implications from this trope. Troll romance is much more complicated in so many other ways. This is just one area in which it is simpler.
It also means Discount Yaoi Guys, meaning a lot of the unfortunate implications are eliminated in one fell swoop.
TG: just once id like to see dad crap his pants when a kid says theres a vampire in his closet
TG: "OH SHIT EVERYONE IN THE MINIVAN"
TG: be fuckin dad of the year right there
Disney Death: Davesprite was implied to have been killed, but later turned up alive.
Spades Slick should presumably have been killed when his universe was destroyed, but he later shows up being nursed back to health in Hussie's apartment.
Dissonant Serenity: When Jane is seemingly killed by an explosion, the wind chime music continues playing, though the wind itself goes silent. The flash then cuts to an animation of autumn leaves falling.
In [S] Caliborn: Enter, Caliborn has a look of serene bliss on his face as everything around him is sucked up by the kernelsprite. This not long after tearing off his own leg with his teeth.
Doing In the Wizard: The reason why pumpkins keep disappearing is finally explained by Roxy that they're specifically unhinged from reality, and easy to teleport.
Subverted more broadly. Doc Scratch outright says there's no such thing as magic, but there are things such as gods, sentient concepts, superpowers, and unexplainable technology. Several characters like Aradia, John, and Rose continue to refer to their powers as spells anyways. And Doc Scratch himself teaches the Handmaid time majycks.
Zig Zagged Trope: the Arc Words "Magic is real" are brought up many times, and there is a constant back-and-forth as to whether or not they are true, and whether or not it matters.
Don't Explain the Joke: From the first Intermission, when Hearts Boxcars and Spades Slick are on walkie-talkies:
You tell him you asked Deuce for backup but surprise surprise he's nowhere to be found. Big surprise, you tell him. You tell him that was sarcasm. He says he knows.
Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: The AR explicitly tells Jane and Jake not to use those transportalisers. They don't listen and arrive on Derse, which is about to be destroyed by the Red Miles.
During Act 2, when Rose is in danger and needs Dave to get her into the Medium, the story jumps to his point of view... earlier that day. The player commands Dave to get the damn beta and save his friend's life, but he sees no reason to.
Some humans theorized that Earth's subjugation by Juggalos was an attempt on the part of the Condesce to revive her previous model of governance. Even Dirk thinks that's far-fetched ("Who the fuck ever heard of an alien juggalo?")
* Dave assures Karkat that Jade will be happy to see him. The same Jade under mind control right now...
Dreaming of Things to Come: Players whose dream-selves are on Prospit can catch glimpses of the future by looking through the clouds of Skaia.
Also, any player whose dream-self is on Derse has The Horrorterrors of the Furthest Ring whisper prophecies of the future to them. A lot of Derse dreamers however (Dave included), find this very creepy, and choose to ignore them.
Eldritch Abomination: The Horrorterrors are typical examples of Lovecraftian monsters, although they tend to be more helpful than evil. Lord English qualifies as an even greater abomination, and the Horrorterrors are afraid of him.
Emoticon: Several characters use these in pesterlogs.
Epic Fail: When John hands Wayward Vagabond his dad's wallet, Jade tries to message him. John doesn't respond because he left his only computer in the damn thing. And John's just waving as WV, Liv Tyler [Uber Bunny] and the Courtyard Droll head to Derse while having the most derpy face imaginable.
Eureka Moment: The old "Hole in the Ace" gag. Also works with punch cards, yielding hybrid items.
TT: That was a really good idea, John. Nice work. EB: thanks! EB: i got the idea from harry anderson. TT: Who?
Everybody's Dead, Dave: When Jade enters the Medium, the Earth is at least decimated, and possibly sterilized, behind her. Likewise, Trollkind were destroyed by a meteor shower six minutes and twelve seconds after Terezi prototyped her lusus. A Bad Future has most of the main characters dead as well (appropriately, Dave is one of the survivors).
Alternian culture is strongly binormative. Trolls reproduce rather like social insects and do not form families so sex is cosmetic and the genitalia of quadrantmates is irrelevant. Karkat seems confused that humans even have terminology for monosexuality because trolls do not think of attraction in terms of sexual orientation. Word of God says that there are trolls who have relationships only with one gender (in particular, Kanaya is only interested in women, at least where concupiscent relationships are concerned) but that this preference is thought of in the same way humans think of having a thing for BBWs or a foot fetish.
Played with a bit in the Post-Scratch session. Dirk and Roxy are from the heavily-troll-influenced far-future, and find early-21st-century terminology for sexuality overly narrow and arbitrary. While they both prefer not to label their orientations, they are willing to admit that monosexuality is significantly more common in humans than in trolls. Roxy's unrequited crush on Dirk plays into this, as he just can't feel the same way about her.
The B1 players are genetically related to one another through their Guardians. John is Jade's full sibling, as Rose is Dave's.
Averted in the Troll Sessions; the Trolls are paradox clones of themselves, and thus are unrelated to anyone except their dancestors.
Adoption makes this even more complex.
Betty Crocker is actually Her Imperious Condescension, so B1 Jane and Jake are siblings by adoption—and B2 John and Jade are siblings twice over (genetically AND by adoption). Since the Condesce is Feferi's daughter, the Crocker/Egbert/Harley/English family is related to the troll Imperial dynasty by adoption.
John's Dad was in a romantic relationship with Rose's Mom, making John and Rose step-siblings.
Evil Versus Evil: The Midnight Crew vs The Felt. Apparently subverted during the Intermission, as The Felt (except possibly Snowman) don't seem nearly as bad as the Midnight Crew. Double subverted in act 5, where we learn that Lord English is an indestructible, time-traveling demon destined to eat the corpse of the recently-destroyed universe and trying to ensure his own eventual summoning, and presumably the universe's destruction.
Exact Time to Failure: All of the countdowns revealed by opening a Cruxtruder display the time left before a meteor strikes their location.
Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Troll cinema has apparently exhausted any more creative titles in its thousands of years of history, leading to such titles as:
A different example concerns Rose. For a while, Kanaya has been warning Rose that there's a moment where she "goes dark" on the Trollian window, not like a death or anything but the window just goes dark. We finally get to the event in question in linear time, and, well... Rose goes dark.
Exponential Plot Delay: It's been heavily telegraphed that the comic will have 7 acts. Act 5 ended up being split into 2 very long parts, the first of which quadrupled the player cast, and Act 6 will consist of 12 sub-acts, most of which are far shorter.
In the Midnight Crew intermission, Snowman stabs her cigarette holder into Spades' eye.
After Rose enters the Medium, she is accosted by a LIME OGRE, who she stabs in the eyes with her knitting needles. She then uses the yarn attached to the needles in the LIME OGRE's eye sockets as reins.
Terezi's eyes burned out after Vriska forced her to stare into the sun.
Guy Fieri got an eyeful of sewing needles, courtesy of Roxy's mom.
Caliborn makes B2 Jack stab his own eyes out and replace them with Lil Cal's.
In Universe B1, Dave's adoptive older brother is also his genetic father. John's long dead grandmother was his genetic mother and Dad Egbert is his half-brother (it's not 100% clear that Dad is Nanna's biological son, he could be adopted). Jade's late Grandpa Harley was her genetic father. Only Rose averts the trope, as adoptive parent Mom Lalonde IS ALSO her genetic mother. The switcheroo makes sense for John and Jade, as their ages relative to their guardians would make the genetic relationships sound impossible. It makes a lot less sense for Bro to tell Dave they're siblings, given that Bro's as old as Mom Lalonde, decades older than Dave. Of the four kids, Jade is the only one who might have been aware of the deception before entering SBURB.
In Universe B2, Jake was raised by his adopted Grandma Jade, who was his genetic daughter. Roxy refers to her genetic daughter Rose as her mother, and Dirk refers to his genetic son Dave as his older brother. But no one else quite equals the weirdness that is Jane being raised by Dad Crocker, who is certainly John's non-ectobiological son and probably her genetic grandson (we don't know for sure that Dad Crocker wasn't adopted).
Famous Ancestor: Literally in the case of the Trolls, and played with with the Guardians. Dad is a complete nobody, and Nanna Egbert never amounted to much, but the rest are fairly important.
Fandom: Some of the trolls are nods and parodies of various fandoms and internet subcultures: Kanaya for Twilight (at least for a short period of time); Gamzee for the Insane Clown Posse; Nepeta and Equius for Furries (Terezi to a lesser extent with dragons, though she is mostly enthralled by courtroom dramas); Sollux for hackers; Vriska for LARPers; and possibly Eridan for hipsters and Harry Potter.
A fair amount of the fandom has agreed that the Pre-Scratch Ancestors are various types of Tumblr subcultures; for example, Kankri is a social justice blogger and Latula is a gamer... but unfortunately, the former never shuts up and the latter comes off as a Mascot with Attitude.
Fantasy Character Classes: Subverted. Though each player receives titles that have to do with their abilities and their elemental affinity, they aren't actually character classes.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: Time travel, imps, ogres, human cloning, dark magic, aliens, alchemy, parallel universes, astral projection, spaceships, psychic fortune telling, genetic engineering and elder gods from beyond the universe are just some of the things to make an appearance and have a significant effect on the plot.
Fauxshadow: Marquise Mindfang's journalog hints at an upcoming fight Subjuggleator/Gamzee defeating Orphaner/Eridan and a later fight between Mindfang/Vriska and Redglare/Terezi where Mindfang kills Redglare. It doesn't happen. Kanaya returns from the dead and thrashes all of them while Terezi and Vriska engage in a battle of wits. Terezi wins but allows Vriska to leave to battle Bec Noir... in an alternate timeline. In the alpha timeline Terezi kills Vriska to prevent Bec Noir from finding the trolls, at least for a while.
Jake English has been given so many ham-fisted references to Lord English that much of the fandom half-expects that this is going to be a Red Herring. There is also an available canon explanation: Jade was taunting the Condesce by reminding her that she's merely Lord English's underling.
Fetish Fuel: In-universe example: When Dave is talking to Terezi, he's contacted by his Exile (which is Aimless Renegade) for the first time. Dave accidentally starts reading what the Exile says to him, which revolves a lot around law-enforcement. Terezi tells Dave that it '1S COM1NG D4NG3ROUSLY CLOS3 TO G1V1NG M3 4 C4S3 OF TH3 V4PORS'.
Not soon after Kanaya's introduction it is revealed that she has feelings for Vriska, who doesn't reciprocate. However, after Kanaya awakens as a rainbow-drinker, goes on a violent rampage that involves kicking Gamzee in the groin so hard he flies off the platform, sucker-punching Vriska and sending her flying, and sawing Eridan in half before erotically applying a smeared mix of lipstick and purple blood to her lips... Vriska is suddenly very, very interested.
Filler: Most of OpenBound counts as this - it introduces a number of characters that have little impact on the plot for no other purpose than to carry out aFandom Nod, while a few bits of plot-important information are sprinkled throughout the dozens of conversations that occur. However, it does allow for Meenah to get a bit of character development.
Final Boss: The Black King is this within Sburb, being the final obstacle the players have to overcome before being granted entry into the newly created universe.
First Law of Metafictional Thermodynamics: With the introduction of the trolls, the mass of the cast exploded exponentially while the energy of the story hobbled (which naturally contributed to their Scrappiness.) Conversely, the pace raced ahead when bodies began dropping.
Happens again at the beginning of Act 6, though not quite to the same degree.
Flanderization: Quite a few of the pre-Scratch trolls are exaggerated versions of their post-Scratch counterparts (like Nepeta's shipping and Eridan's Jerkassnice guy tendencies). This (along with all the Tumblr and Image BoardTake Thats) is eventually lampshaded by Karkat when he talks about them seeming more like caricatures than actual people.
Flat Earth Atheist: What with all the time travel, psychic powers and general weirdness flying around, you'd really think Eridan would have changed his mind on magic and its nonexistence.
Foil: The Post-Scratch are a bunch of assholes or otherwise dysfunctional people. Despite this most of them have a heart of gold or get Character Development of some kind, showing that they're good people deep down. Their Pre-Scratch dancestors (especially Araena) put on a show of being more well put together, nicer, and more skilled than the Post-Scratch trolls. However conversations with them and their actions later reveal that most of them are actually sociopaths or even more horribly dysfunctional than their descendants.
For Want of a Nail: It's quite common for apparently innocuous actions to be the root cause of truly massive consequences. Especially notable is the chain of events starting with Gamzee placing a harlequin doll in John's bedroom on Derse, which ultimately leads to Jack Noir destroying the Kids' universe.
To clarify: the doll placed by Gamzee haunts John's dreams, causing his (and Dad's) obsession with harlequins; this leads to John's kernelsprite being prototyped with a harlequin, which causes the Black Queen to enforce a harlequin dress code in Derse; this causes Jack to go (even more) crazy, kill the Queen and steal her ring, which gives him enough power (after Bec's prototyping) do destroy an entire universe; which he promptly does.
Forced Meme: Caliborn is determined to make "you can't escape the miles" into a "thing". Amusingly, the fact that Draconion Dignitary uses it in Act 6 implies that in-universe he actually succeeded.
Subverted in some regards where Mr. Expositions have blind spots. For example, the trolls tell the kids from what they see that John is the only one among them that will ascend to God Tiers, and the other three follow in suit soon after the trolls' view of the kids' session cuts off.
Foreshadowing: Too many examples to list. "Retroactive Foreshadowing" is a common occurrence in this story as well, where the author re-interprets past events as foreshadowing of present events.
The comic is so foreshadowing-heavy that when the MSPA website went down due to Hurricane Sandy, fans began claiming that it was foreshadowed by Rose's similar issues way back in Act 2. Seriously.
And among the Midnight Crew: Spades Slick (choleric), Clubs Deuce (sanguine), Diamonds Droog (melancholic), and Hearts Boxcars (phlegmatic).
Among the trolls: Nepeta, Terezi and Feferi (sanguine); Karkat, Vriska and Eridan (choleric); Aradia, Kanaya and Equius (melancholic); and Tavros, Sollux and Gamzee (phlegmatic).
In the Alpha kids: Jane (phlegmatic), Jake (choleric), Roxy (sanguine), and Dirk (melancholic).
The pre-scratch trolls also have this. Damara, Meenah, and Mituna are Choleric, Meulin, Horuss, and Cronus are Sanguine, Kankri, Porrim, and Kurloz are Melancholic, and Rufioh, Latula, and Aranea are Phlegmatic.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Lord English somehow gets into Andrew's home in the Hussieverse during the second Act 6 Intermission, even worse being he managed to tear the head off his Robotic Author Avatar.
However it's equally possible Hussie just salvaged it for parts when making Slick's prosthetics.
When Karkat sets up his bulletin board using Trollian, those communicating from the past have a "P" preceding their abbreviated trolltag, and those communicating from the future have an "F". So when future Vriska (arachnidsGrip) responds to one of Karkat's memos...
CCG: LATER, FAG.
CCG: TOO BAD THE ACRONYM WASN'T "HAG" INSTEAD, IT WOULD HAVE SUITED YOU MUCH BETTER.
Funetik Aksent: All of the typing quirks are exactly indicative of how people talk. More abstract ones come across as accents, while ones that are loose on punctuation and capitalization are Motor Mouth mumbling.
Funny Background Event: More or less the point of the site-layout change during Scratch's narration, but pay particular attention after he pulls the fire alarm: Matchsticks turns up with a fire extinguisher, and way to the right, Spades Slick's hand is reaching back to steal more liquorice terriers. *GRAB*
Furry Fandom: Jade, Nepeta, and Equius, With a suprisingly accurate coverage of the Fandom across the three characters. Although Equius might not be a furry, as he claims to collect his posters because they're some sort of weird Troll fine art, which fits with his personality.
Fusion Dance: Gamzee tossed Vriska and Tavros' bodies into Jane's kernelsprite and created "Tavrisprite", a being so unstable it was barely able to say how much it "h8tes" itself before exploding. Gamzee (apparently) did the same thing with Sollux and Eridan's bodies and Jake's kernelsprite; this one seems to be more stable but clearly unhappy about his/their situation.
And now it seems he did the same with Roxy's sprite and Feferi and Nepeta's bodies. It's not known what Fefetasprite thinks of the situation at the moment, though the trauma of meeting Erisol and ARquius at the same time causes her to explode as well.
And Dirk's AR ends up fusing with Equius. They seem least grouchy about it.