Tear Jerker / El Goonish Shive

  • This strip from the sketchbook really shows how complex the relationship between an author and his characters can be. Also, it made me cry.


Painted Black
  • In a Sympathy for the Devil way, Damien. He was made by extremists who wanted him to usher Armageddon, he destroys everything he touches and he is desperate to find other labs. He isn't looking for an army, he's looking for a family. He was raised with fear and intimidation used to keep him in line and he used those tactics because he thought that's how authority figures are supposed to act. He's Grace's Spear Counterpart. She had kindness. He had hate. They were led down different paths.
  • Here, we see a much more human side of the previously monstrous Vlad(ia). It is small, but poignant.

Grace's Birthday

Shadows After Dark

Hidden Genesis

Sister II
  • This strip, full stop. Nanase trying desperately to save her best friend and lover's life with the only spell that can possibly do anything to help, essentially eating away at her own life force every time she casts it, and having it fail time and again is nothing short of heart breaking.
    • And let's not forget that she feels EVERYTHING the doll does. So, everytime the doll is killed, she feels it. And her doll is being cut in half with a battle axe. Most people wouldn't be able to withstand the pain of that once. She did it twelve times in a row, in quick succession. To the point where she collapses, but keeps going in the hopes of reinforcements that may or may not come.
      "God...help me..." She fully expected to die in the attempt to save Ellen. She kept going anyway.
      • In fact, the only reason she stops? She gains a spell that allows her to take the form of a Guardian Angel. And remember, spell casters in the series get spells that relate to who they are. Taken into account her actions, it's no surprise.

Bringing Silly Back
  • And this. You can see the exact moment where Susan goes from being a literal Wide-Eyed Idealist into her current personality.
    Dan Shive (in commentary): I have frequently seen Susan described as having a "bored" look on her face. For a long time now, I have seen it as something else.
  • And this could count as well.
    Grace: Summoning is his innate talent?
    Noah: Innate talents are rare. It is more likely something he has yearned for. If I had to guess... he is lonely.
    * The resolution of Justin and Melissa. Knowing what they had beforehand, it just makes things worse.

9001% Serious

The Dawn
  • A more subtle one with Susan trying to rationalize her attraction towards Elliot. Not only is she frustrated because she can't understand it, but there's a lot of guilt and self-esteem issues in the subtext. Despite all the Character Development she's had - especially with regards to Elliot - she's still a Broken Bird.
  • This right here. Diane realizes for the first time that she has biological family. It puts her previous denials into context and makes you realize that they're not her being dense, but actually her being in denial. Thinking about it, she hasn't had that all her life, and now at long last she does.

Pandoras Box
  • This strip depicts Tedd, who several strips prior was ecstatic about realizing that his gender fluidity was not unique and that there was a name for it, being afraid to tell his father about his magic mark, that grants him a "make your body the gender you feel without time limits" spell obviously related to that realization, for fear of disapproval, given his father's attitude and concern about him spending so much time female.

Sister III
  • Blaike Raven's death, just ten years after the birth of his son. To make matters worse, he failed his mission: the people he tried to protect were killed by a rampaging monster. Even Dan described it as a very difficult comic to make.
  • Ted takes it very badly when he finds out that magic itself will sabotage his efforts to give it to everybody. Voltaire actually wishes he tried traumatizing him that way instead of trying to kill Elliot.
  • Susan takes the idea of her having a half-sister close to her age very badly, insisting that her parents had good years before the cheating incident and being adamant that her father wasn't cheating before she was born.
  • Adrian quietly lays out "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his mother. Especially notable because the next strip is completely silent.
    Pandora: I helped rid the world of werewolves. I'd say I've done enough for the world at large.
    Adrian: You helped yourself get revenge on victims of a curse. You made no effort to find a cure.
    • And apparently, the speech worked, causing Pandora to undergo something of a Heel Realization.
    • And the hits keep coming, even when her Ocular Gushers are Played for Laughs, but Box!Pandora breaks down into tears when Sarah sincerely asks her what's wrong.
      Box: My son's going to hate me...!
    • The hits keep coming when, after confiding in Sarah that her previous incarnation's lie to her current self, and her failure to figure out the truth earlier, had hurt her son, with her saying "of course they were his", Sarah says that she'd "never do anything to hurt him on purpose, right?", causing her to flash back to her "harsh lessons" moment in obvious regret.
  • When Pandora realizes just how Tedd would take the news about magic, she goes to him and finds him still in the middle of his BSOD.
    Pandora: Magic has not been kind to you.