The Order of the Stick provides examples of the following tropes:
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Parodied with the Ghost of Lame Monsters Past.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Belkar has sometimes a better idea of what's going on than his goody-two-shoes companions.
- Even Hinjo, a paladin, has to admit it once, about why his uncle would refuse resurrection.
- Belkar's insistence that Vampire!Durkon be killed at the first calm moment was probably the best course of action all things considered.
- Jeweler's Eye Loupe: A gnome artificer uses a eye loupe to examine the Ioun Stone Blackwing has seized from Laurin Shattersmith in the previous book.
- Jock Dad, Nerd Son: Inverted with Roy Greenhilt and his father, Eugene. Roy chose a career as a fighter class as opposed to a wizard like his father, which are seen as a jock and nerd class respectively at least in universe. Played straight with Eugene and his father, Horace, who had inspired Roy's career path. Interestingly, Roy was apparently a nerd compared to other fighters.Roy: Well I hate to break it to you dad, but this isn't the end of the line. More like half-time.
Eugene: What? How can you halve time itself?
Roy: *Sigh* I should have known a sports metaphor would be wasted on you.
- Joker Immunity: Lampshaded and justified in "Death Actually IS Too Good for Them", where the Order decide what to do with a once-again-defeated Linear Guild. They come to the decision that imprisonment (in antimagic cells) is actually more secure than summary execution, given that they live in a world where Death Is a Slap on the Wrist. Of course, they also live in a world of Cardboard Prisons, so...
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: V's epic Uber-spell to destroy all kin of the black dragon mother.
- Just Between You and Me: Redcloak to Tsukiko. In a minor subversion, he says it before he springs his trap. And in a further subversion, he actually does make sure she never reveals it to anyone. Ironically, this is immediately after she attempts to pull the same trope on him.
- Just Desserts: Tsukiko is eaten by her own wights, at Redcloak's command. He wanted to make a point about how the undead aren't allies, they're tools. Finally he orders them to eat each other, and the last one to destroy itself in the fireplace.
- Just Eat Him:
- This happens to Haley (and lizard-V, shortly) thanks to the adolescent black dragon.
- Then once or twice more to Vaarsuvius.
- And to "Hors-D'oeuvre". He escapes, but "not through the scenic route, if you know what I mean".
- Just Hit Him: The raging Thog's main tactic in his gladiatoral fight with Roy. Sure, being thrown into walls is damaging, but it also gives Roy enough breathing time to put together a strategy, and even puts him in the perfect position to enable it when Thog throws him into the spectator rows.
- Kansas City Shuffle:
- Katanas Are Just Better: Azure City is the Stick-verse's Wutai, so katanas are favored by many of the soldiers and members of the Sapphire Guard. Belkar and Nale have both averted this trope, fighting with katanas they stole from Azurites, but switching to their preferred weapons at the first opportunity.Hobgoblin: (kills the guard Nale just disarmed) Hey thanks! I guess I'm lucky you really needed a katana!
Nale: I prefer longswords, actually. (kills the hobgoblin and takes his sword)
- Keeping the Enemy Close: This is Roy's reason for keeping Belkar as a member of the order. Roy doesn't trust any prison enough to keep Belkar from breaking out and going on a rampage, whereas so long as Belkar is working for the Order, the other members can keep him in check and direct his sociopathic tendencies towards evils that are more dangerous than him.
- Kick the Dog:
- Invoked posthumously in regard to Crystal. Elan says he's not mad at Haley for it, as long as she's sure Crystal was "really, REALLY bad." Haley responds that she once saw Crystal headbutt an elderly gnome woman into a coma, which makes Elan feel better about it.
- Elves are mean.
- Yukyuk in "Animal Instincts".
- "A Touch of Death". Wow. Really, Nale?
- In case you needed confirmation that Qarr is indeed Lawful EVIL...
- Discussed in "Executive Order". After Tarquin has committed some of his worse on-screen actions so far, he says he has one last one to do before letting Elan leave:Elan: What, do you have a bunny you need to punch in front of me or something?
Tarquin: No, I'm talking about your dismal combat performance back at the pyramid. (to Kilkil) Though make note of the bunny thing for next time, that's good stuff.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch:
- V's murder of Kubota certainly showed just how much more of an Anti-Hero the elf had become, but if there was any antagonist that deserved to be unceremoniously disintegrated and scattered to the winds, it was this one.
- Similarly, Haley's murder of Crystal is commonly seen as this, though a few still found it a bit unsettling. At least until you buy the fourth book, then read the scenes where Crystal tries to kill Haley several times while they're retrieving Roy's body.
- Also Miko pursuing Belkar, especially if you consider what Belkar's conduct looks like from inside the comic's world.
- Redcloak killing Tsukiko is thoroughly cold, callous and brutal and serves as a defining character moment for the former as a villain... and yet, given the latter is a villain with a skewed perception of morality, and was threatening to ruin Redcloak's plans to betray Xykon instead of simply informing the latter of this deception, she really had it coming.
- Similarly, Redcloak killing the elven resistance in Azure City, who had already established themselves as no better than the goblins by killing civilians and prisoners out of speciesism.
- Nale burns Malack alive. Sure, he did it for selfish reasons, but considering that Malack converted Durkon into a vampire and was plotting mass murder on a daily basis, he deserved it.
- Tarquin later kills Nale, though admittedly one of the reasons he did so was to avenge his comrade's death.
- Kid with the Leash: Roy and Belkar, especially when Roy has the command word for Belkar's mark of justice. After Roy dies, the leash passes to Haley. She isn't as good at keeping him under control.
- Killed Mid-Sentence:
- When Belkar kills the Chimera at the very beginning.Trigak: You may have won this round, Order of the Stick, but we swear our revenge on you! When you least expect—! GAK! GAK! GAK!
- Xykon does this to a group of mercenary ogres who are complaining about not being paid very early in the comic's run, (and then he zombifies their corpses so he can still get some use out of them), perhaps giving the first hint that he's not a harmless cliché storm of a villain, despite appearances.
- This is also how Roy Greenhilt dies, mid-pondering in freefall.
- And in Cliffport, "I'm getting too old for—"
- Haley gets petrified mid-sentence by Zz'dtri.
- Ambassador Gourntonk is killed mid-report of Tarquin's conspiracy to the Empress of Blood by Tarquin's Cat Folk ally Jacinda.
- When Belkar kills the Chimera at the very beginning.
- Killed Off for Real: While Back from the Dead has been a plot point, and an important one, Word of the Giant says that the spell True Resurrection (which can bring someone back from anything) won't be used in this story because it breaks the dramatic impact of death. Thus there are a few people we can be confident are gone for good:
- Lord Shojo denied resurrection because he'd rather be in the Chaotic Good heaven than Azure City's Deadly Decadent Court.
- Miko was given a very final-looking death scene, and the only person who seemed interested in her corpse (to make an intelligent undead, not resurrect her) passed up on the chance because it was an incomplete body (also, Word of the Giant is that she's staying dead).
- Therkla was betrayed by her boss/father-figure and Elan won't be her boyfriend so she has no reason to be revived.
- The following people are staying dead because their bodies were destroyed or rendered inaccessible, and resurrection requires a body:
- Kubota's body was disintegrated by Vaarsuvius, and the ashes were then spread to the winds.
- Thanh's body was buried under a mountain after being slain by Redcloak's Osmium Elemental.
- After Redcloak seized control over her wights, Tsukiko was level-drained to death and then they ate her body. Then that wight was eaten by a second wight, who was eaten by a third who was eaten by a fourth who committed suicide with fire.
- Yukyuk's corpse was destroyed during the explosion of the Draketooth Clan's pyramid, along with the Draketooth clan.
- Malack was burned to ashes by the sun after his Protection From Daylight spell was dispelled.
- Nale was disintegrated after being stabbed in the heart, with his ashes being blown away by the wind.
- Kill It with Fire:
- Kind Restraints:
- Roy has to bound and gag Durkon in the Wooden Forest so that he'd stop freaking out about trees and risk alerting the bandits.Durkon: (gagged) Mmph mrph mmmph mmf mrf mrrrph mrph!
Roy: I'm going to choose to attribute that comment to stress and not hold it against you in the future.
- The team also keeps Belkar tied up and gagged after Nale used a Charm Person on him... and a few hours afterward in the morning, even though the spell had already worn off, since the halfling is better company like this.
- Roy has to bound and gag Durkon in the Wooden Forest so that he'd stop freaking out about trees and risk alerting the bandits.
- Kissing Under the Influence: Belkar to V. Not that the elf is about to say anything to him.
- Kiss of Death: Succubi (such as Sabine) can energy-drain someone by kissing them. Sabine does that to Elan in "Critical Thinking".
- Klingon Promotion:
- Parodied: Therkla gets to be the valedictorian of her ninja class by killing the original.
- Also how Redcloak became supreme leader of the hobgoblins, by killing the one he assumes is their leader. The real leader wisely keeps his mouth shut and lets Red take over.
- When Belkar, Haley, and Celia disguise themselves as some corpses and a necromancer to get past two hobgoblins, one of the hobgoblins doubts Belkar actually is a corpse, so Belkar stabs him to death. The other gets the message and lets them pass, then says "Thanks for the promotion" as they leave.
- Knights and Knaves: "The Test of the Mind" in the Sunken Valley. Solved in a non-traditional manner.
- Knows A Guy Who Knows A Guy: Belkar suggests selling some captured enemies into slavery, adding that he "know[s] a guy who knows a guy" to contact for this. Much later, we meet the guy in question, Buggy Lou. His best supplier on the Northern Continent was pals with Belkar.
- A Lady on Each Arm: In On the Origins of PCs, a newly-jailbroken Belkar is just musing that life couldn't get any better when happens upon a sign saying, "WHORES: 2-for-1 Sale!" The next panel is the three of them walking off like this.
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference:
- A comic ends with gladiators being torn apart by a giant Ollie of Kukla, Fran and Ollie fame. The comic's title is "Ask Your Grandparents".
- Not as old nor as obscure, but the Sudden Videogame Moment featuring Centipede is lampshaded too.Chief: Man, that brought back memories.
Rookie: I don't get it.
Chief: Before your time, kid. Before your time.
- Lampshade Hanging: The comic practically runs on this trope. At one point we even see an actual lampshade during a lampshade hanging.
- Large Ham:
- Vaarsuvius, when doing his/her loud, melodramatic rants about being able to reshape the building blocks of the universe with arcane magic.
- Elan, though being a bard may be part of the reason.
- Linear Guild Members Nale, Thog, and Leeky Windstaff.
- The Empress of Blood.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia:
- The memory charm around the Oracle that makes you forget everything about your visit except your questions and their answers as soon as you leave.
- The same thing is going for the afterlife. Roy can remember the time spent on the clouds with his father and the scrying they've done, but past the big gate his memories are fuzzy, though he remembers some bits.
- Laser-Guided Karma:
- Elan and Nale's first fight.Elan: Nale! There's nowhere to go. Surrender!
Nale: Surrender? Never, you moronic little twit. I'd rather die than—
(bridge crumbles underneath his feet, leaving him dangling by one hand)
Nale: Help me, brother!
- Redcloak's right eye, reflecting his late brother, who had lost his left eye. You can tell that he's actually screaming at the irony, as opposed to the pain from the stabbing of his eye.
- "Stupid entirely justified comeuppance."
- Vaarsuvius was already feeling guilty about using fiend-granted powers to wipe out every creature related to a black dragon, but even so the elf probably wasn't expecting it to bite them in the ass like in "All in the Family".
- "THIS IS A TERRIBLE ENDING!!!"
- Suffice to say the Sapphire Guard's decision to wipe out a small goblin village comes back to bite them.
- A planned one: Belkar, still under a magical curse that will go off if he kills someone within a town's borders, murders an oracle. Then he looks out of the oracle's tower's rear window...Sign: Welcome to the village of LickMyOrangeBallsHalfling.
Founded: Last week. Population: Just enough.
- Elan and Nale's first fight.
- Last Request:
- A driving motivation for both Haley and Ian.
- Durkon's last request to Malack is to not harm any of his friends.
- Last-Second Word Swap:
- "Hawaiian Love":Haley: Elan... I think I'm in love with y—
Durkon: Cure Critical Wounds!
- "What's Really Scary Is That He Knows the Words":Belkar: Nale, you spineless piece of weasel crap, I'm going to cut your—
Nale: Charm Person!
Belkar: —hair for you, if you'd like. It sure could use a trim.
- Also "Mammals Can't Seem to Get Enough of Those Things":Tarquin: ...she had the most magnificent set of perky round—
Haley: Eyes. Let's both pretend you were about to say, "eyes".
- "Hawaiian Love":
- Latin Lover: Enriqué, for Sara Greenhilt.
- Laughably Evil: Many villains (and one protagonist); Burlew is very good at writing characters who are both likeable (funny, awesome, etc.) and yet definitely villainous and unsympathetic. Examples include:
- Xykon. All over the place.
- Belkar. And he knows it.Belkar: I'm comedy gold! I'm the only funny thing left in this damn comic strip!
- General Tarquin, in his geekier moments.
- Qarr and the IFCC can get into it too.
- Laughing Mad: "Patient seems to also be suffering from uncontrollable hideous laughter."
- Laugh with Me: Inverted. When Xykon proclaims that his goals will be achieved soon, Redcoak and the MitD let out an Evil Laugh. Redcloak then asks why Xykon doesn't join them.Xykon: Actually, ever since I became a lich, I haven't been able to get the same volume in my evil laughter. Since I technically don't have lungs.
- Lawful Stupid: Frequently subverted (especially with Good Is Not Nice) and often lampshaded.
- Paladins are noted to have this reputation, but actually rarely show it... with one unfortunate exception. In general, Lawful Stupid, Stupid Good, Chaotic Stupid and Stupid Evil are all demonstrated by one character or another at different times. (Miko Miyazaki arguably demonstrates all four, sometimes all in the same comic.)
- Roy does a good job of differentiating between himself (Lawful Good) and Miko (Lawful Stupid) in a "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Roy: You're not Good, at least not any definition of Good that I would want to follow. You follow the letter of the alignment description while ignoring its intent. Sure, you fight Evil, but when was the last time you showed a "concern for the dignity of sentient beings"? You're just a mean, socially inept bully who hides behind a badge and her holier-than-thou morality as excuses to treat other people like crap.
- Played for laughs in "It Takes a Thief", where Haley tries to explain the Shell Game to two Lawful Good characters.Haley: A ruse that relies on the target's innate acceptance on the rules presented to him? Against a league of paladins? Easy money.
- Law of Conservation of Detail: Invoked by Julio Scoundrél when Elan comments on how unlikely it is that they should meet each other.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Less common than Breaking the Fourth Wall moments, but in "A Vexation or Irritation", Tarquin comments about Thog, "It's weird, no matter how many people he kills, the audience still thinks he's lovable". Meaning the audience in the arena, not the readers, obviously.
- Least Rhymable Word: Elan makes a Painful Rhyme in one strip. It's lampshaded by the title of that strip being "You Try Rhyming 'Assassin'!"
- Leave Him to Me: Invoked, not by one of the fighters, but by Julio Scoundrél, who has a standing policy that his crew are not to "interfere with third-act duels".
- Leave No Witnesses: When Redcloak wipes out the Resistance and gets Xykon's phylactery back, he only uses summoned monsters (who he then dismisses) and lets the only hobgoblin involved stay dead.Redcloak: The exact details here need to stay between me and our god. I just thank the Dark One that I didn't need to execute you myself.
- After a Just Between You and Me speech, he kills Tsukiko by using her own wights against her and then has them destroy each other and the last one burn itself to ashes in the fireplace.
- Leet Lingo: Elan writing "!!1!" in the sand.
- Left for Dead: Durkon was, accidentally, in an early strip.
- Left-Justified Fantasy Map: A map of Azure City and its surroundings appears in the back of War and XPs with a sea along the left edge. However, the western continent should appear on the other side of the sea.
- Let Me Get This Straight:
- Xykon to Roy during their first encouter.Xykon: So, let me get this straight. Your father spent his entire life looking for me over a largely inconsequential killing? (Magic Missile.)
Roy: Yes! You killed his master, and he swore an oath to destroy you!
Xykon: And he was too much of a loser to get the job done before croaking, so now you, Loser Jr., have taken up the task?
- V and Blackwing, after V's question is answered via Answer Cut.Vaarsuvius: A planet? Within the planet?
Blackwing: That's pretty much what I said, yeah.
- Xykon to Roy during their first encouter.
- Lethal Joke Item: The bag of tricks, which summons random animals. Roy eventually finds creative uses for it, like making distracting kitties. It also has a compact rhino on it, but it kinda backfired.
- Lethal Joke Spell:
- Lens Flare: Used in "Rematch" for dramatic effect.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
- During Azure City's New Year, Belkar gets drunk and kisses Vaarsuvius full on the lips. Afterwards, Belkar forgets it entirely and Vaarsuvius insists that, if the one witness to the kiss (Durkon) ever has to discuss it again, it will be referred to it as "the Event". And they never talk about it again.
- While being interviewed for the Lawful Good afterlife, Roy Greenhilt stops the bureaucratic deva interviewing him before she can mention the Gender Bender incident within earshot of his father, who is standing not ten feet away.
- As seen in "A Dish Best Served Warm, After All", Vaarsuvius has this attitude regarding further recounting of his adventures in the Semi-Elemental Plane of Ranch Dressing.
- Lightning Can Do Anything:
- Like Brother and Sister: Roy & Haley.
- Like Father, Unlike Son:
- Roy's family has one over three generations; his grandfather was a Book Dumb fighter, his father was an Insufferable Genius wizard and he's a Genius Bruiser fighter (partly from stories of his grandfather's heroism, partly from resentment of his dad). All three chose their paths out of stubbornness, though.
- Elan is a Genre Savvy Cloudcuckoolander bard who defers to Roy, while his father's a Dangerously Genre Savvy wannabe Overlord...who isn't actually as clever or important as he thinks.
- Lipstick Lesbian: The "latent bisexuality" aspect of Haley's mind is among the more "girly" of the aspects.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards:
- Line-of-Sight Name:
- The Order itself, as revealed in On the Origin of PCs.
- Also, Redcloak and his brother Right-Eye, as revealed in Start of Darkness.
- Literal Genie: Subverted. Roy, wary of this happening, words his question to the Oracle in such a way that it works against him. His concern made sense, as this trope was played straight the first time he visited the Oracle (offscreen):Roy: Where is Xykon?
Oracle: In his throne room.
- Roy and Durkon then proceeded to dangle the Oracle out the window until he allowed them to ask a third question.
- Literal Metaphor: A fairly common gag.
- The author himself gets one when the "Comic is running late."◊
- Celia's ex-boyfriend is caught "slipping the wood" to some dryad hussy. At least it was a potted wood.
- When leaving Azure City, Roy states that they are on "the road to Adventure". And indeed, it's the name of Gate 6 (next to Gate 7, the Road to Perdition).
- "The Test of the Heart" is another blatant case. "The truths that are in your heart will be laid bare for all to know." Through a cardiac exam.
- Sabine makes one in "Every Couple Has Their Quirks":Sabine: It's hard, but sometimes, I need to make a sacrifice in order to maintain our love.
Roy: Like dressing up for him?
Sabine: No, I meant a literal sacrifice. I have a desecrated altar waiting for your corpse in the next room.
- "Their Concierge Service is Heavenly":Roy: Huh... I always thought the "revolving door afterlife" was just a metaphor...
- And "Final Review":Bureaucratic Deva: Mr. Greenhilt, we do things "by the book" around here — and it just so happens that the book in question is 100 feet tall and alight with holy fire —
- In "Something Blue", Tarquin mention that some of his previous wives got cold feet before the marriage. The ensuing flashback reveals that it is quite literal.
- Sabine gets one turned on her in "We Recommend Tsukiko":Nale: Oh really? Why don't you chase after him, then?
Sabine: Nale, you know I love you. I didn't—
Nale: No, I mean literally. Go chase after him. He's escaping.
- Literary Allusion Title: Strip #978 is named "Rage Against the Lightning of the Dead", altering a verse from Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night.
- Living Crashpad:
- Load-Bearing Boss: Subverted. Xykon's destruction did nothing to the Dungeon of Dorukan, but then Elan activated a self-destruct sigil so they could have a dramatic escape.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: The character sheets aren't exhaustive, not by a long shot. A constantly-updated list can be found in the forums.
- Loincloth: Standard issue for gladiator convicts in the Empire of Blood — even for lizardfolks, although they don't need them.Belkar: Also, everyone here could use a little less loin and a lot more cloth.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight:
- In Start of Darkness, one of the factors that makes Xykon's decision to become a lich that much easier is that "it hasn't moved on its own in 16 years."
- Ian Starshine also mentions that he'd been sterile for 10 years since an accident with a poison trap.
- Long Speech Tea Time: The whole party, during the scribble-art backstory.
- Look Behind You: In "Good to the Last Drip", Vaarsuvius is so busy attempting to Disintegrate Qarr that only the small imp notices an ancient black dragon with a personal vendetta approaching from behind.
- Loophole Abuse: Redcloak orders the Silicon Elemental he summons to "kill [the Order]. Starting with the human with the greatsword [Roy]." Haley manages to make it change targets by taking Roy's sword.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: In "Victory Comes from Within", Belkar is killed, Vaarsuvius returns from their disappearance, and Roy manages to use a new trick to disable and kill Xykon. But then it's revealed that this is all taking place in one of Girard's illusion traps. The illusion proceeds to give the Order a happy ending, with Durkon returning alive, the Order dumping Xykon's phylactery into a volcano, Elan making up with his family, the liberation of Azure City, a grand tomb made in honor of Belkar and Scruffy, the Order enacting justice on Bozzok, Vaarsuvius and Durkon working together to repair the destroyed Gates, et cetera on to infinity. The strip after that reveals that fighters have become more popular than wizards, as per Roy's dream. And that Tarquin has even decided to remarry Elan and Nale's mother, with Malack officiating and everyone in attendance. The Order successfully disbelieves the illusion when it does too good a job of giving the Order what they want, and Elan realizes that many of his dreams are too silly or unrealistic to ever be realized.
- Loud of War: At one point, Thog suggests using a rather well-known Canadian singer as a torture device, but Nale thinks that particular choice is uncivilized.
- Loyal Phlebotinum:
- The Crimson Mantle imparts the divine half of the ritual for controlling the Snarl directly into its wearer's mind, but only if they are a priest of the Dark One.
- The Sapphire Guard uniform is magical and only works for a paladin. Thus, when Miko becomes a fallen paladin, her armor loses its color and powers.
- Luckily My Powers Will Protect Me: In Start of Darkness, the rematch between Lirian and just-turned-lich Xykon is basically Lirian using all the wrong spells and abilities so Xykon can explain why none of them work anymore. Admittedly, it isn't out of character for Xykon to taunt his opponent by pointing out why his opponent can't beat him, even if that essentially means giving tips on how he or she could.
- Luke Nounverber: The Greenhilt family doesn't count since it's actually named from the ancestral sword, but we have plenty others: Haley & Ian Starshine; Belkar Bitterleaf; Durkon Thundershield; Hilgya Firehelm; Leeky Windstaff; Girard Draketooth; Fyron Pucebuckle; Miron Shewdanker; Hieronymus Grubwiggler; Reegon Mithrilspear; Hiran Sinkeye; Clang Killitchy; Deergar Bluehawk; Firuk Blackore; Darren Leafsword; Laurin Shattersmith...
- Luke, You Are My Father: The opportunity is used to spoof a well-known blood relation reveal.Tarquin: Elan... I am your father!
(Tarquin removes his helmet)
Tarquin: Oh MAN! I've always wanted to say that line!
Elan: That was... that was a PERFECT delivery!
Tarquin: I know, right? Wasn't it awesome? I've been waiting, like, FOREVER for that.
Elan: Growing up without a father was totally worth it JUST FOR THAT REVEAL!
Vaarsuvius: Heredity is a cruel mistress.