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This is a "Wild Mass Guess" entry, where we pull out all the sanity stops on theorizing. The regular entry on this topic is elsewhere. Please see this programme note.
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All the recent drama is a lead towards a Downer Ending for the comic.
Why? Well, keeping in mind the comic's set standards and Tim Buckley's tendencies as both a writer and cartoonist, there are three potential outcomes:

  1. Ethan "rescues" Lilah in some overly contrived ridiculousness that only Mr. Anti-Sue Ethan could accomplish.
  2. Lilah returns on her own after finding out that Ethan is the right one for her after all.
  3. The last Ethan saw of Lilah was him dodging the issue. Lilah is never seen again, Ethan suffers a breakdown, focus goes towards Penny Arcade style game one-shots and alternate universe variants.

Why would the last option be the one? Because Buckley doesn't seem like the type to go for overly cliche romantic schmaltz (well... even more overly cliche romantic schmaltz than usual), which is where the comic would have to go in order to restore the Status Quo. Since Buckley has performed the awkward tonal shift of Cerebus Syndrome without so much as looking back, he seems to be trying to resolve the main storyline.

Why would he do it this way? Who knows? Maybe he had a moment of clarity and realized how cookie cutter his comic was. Maybe he wants to move on to something else. Maybe he did manage to turn a huge portion of the fans against him with the miscarriage. Maybe he didn't turn enough fans against him (why he would want to turn fans against him when this is his full time job is anybody's guess). Maybe he realized that only stuff with darker edges tend to be remembered in the long run. Regardless, the comic has shown no signs that it's going to try to go back.
  • Seems like a trap right now. Christian sends Ethan on a wild goose chase, and Lilah returns to see no Ethan. And therefore, the comic stays serious.

The recent is a step towards a total Re Tool that removes the Two Gamers on a Couch elements.
Zeke is down, Lilah is gone, and Ethan seems set up for the fall of a lifetime (which, if a mental breakdown gets included, also prevents Zeke from returning). That would eliminate the generic Snarky Non-Human Sidekick, Gamer Chick, and Ditz protagonist all in one fell swoop, while also removing two of the big elements that causes random hilarity to ensue. (Ethan is the Weirdness Magnet of the story, after all.) The comic has also been spending more time on Lucas recently, giving him the sort of focus that is usually reserved for Ethan, almost as if to groom him as the central protagonist. Where Buckley intends to go with this? Who knows.
  • Alternatively, Ethan and Lilah are now happily married and owners of a game shop. Seeing as their marriage was the last time we saw them, they probably now live Happily Ever After. The rest of the comic is now one-shots and Choose-Your-Own Adventures.

Ethan is currently hallucinating the events after he suffered a nervous breakdown due to Lilah leaving him.
Alternatively, he's been hallucinating all this time due to the bad cereal he eats. Lilah was never interested in him, and his brain has been censoring both it and the existence of her real boyfriend. Sort of a reverse Tyler Durden, if you will.

The story is over for the main characters.
Once the ill-received relationship arc passed, Ethan got everything he wanted, and most characters got some form of closure. Considering that arc was then preempted by non-stop videogame based comics followed by a alternate reality choose-your-own-adventure style webcomic, it's possible we'll never need to see the gang again. We can hope, right?

When Zeke is rebuilt, he won't be Zeke anymore, just a generic X-Bot.
Or at least as generic as an X-Box that has been modded into a robot and then upgraded with new drivers and an X-Box 360 arm can be. When Ethan restarts him, he won't talk, and will stare blankly at and/or crush anything handed to him. Given Buckly's tendencies with making things seem awful then saving the day, Zeke will be self-restored halfway through Lucas' apology, possibly after having run a diagnostic that required his personality program to be suppressed until it completed.
  • Not any more. The strip itself shows that Zeke had all his memories down to the instant that his head was knocked off, and is now threatening Lucas with decapitation. Probably for the best, considering the drama overload and the break, unless the interrupted apology were subverted.

Since the person who usually suffers from Zalgo infection is Lilah, she must have made a deal with some ungodly terror to have another baby and/or help Ethan become successful. The happy B^U, B^D is just a facade she puts up to keep Ethan happy, or he's just too dumb to notice anything strange is going on.

Ethan is a Spark
Might explain why he's able to build so many technological marvels (like a functional robot out of X-Boxes), why he's mentally unstable, and why he's able to get people to hang around him when any sane person would be checking for rooms to rent in one hand and slamming the idiot's face in a drawer with the other.
  • I think he fits the Genius mold better... Lilah and Lucas are Beholden, the only reasons they hang around him. Zeke is a Wonder, whose interactions with normal people gave him a number of (personality) Flaws, as what happens with everything he creates when someone else gets a hold of it. Ethan may have been Unmada for quite some time- has anyone ever won an argument with him?
    • Either works. I just don't know Genius, but I do know Girl Genius.

All of CAD is actually an episode of Flash Point from Ethan's POV
  • Ethan: The beloved man child who keeps the whole thing together is actually a crazy person holding Lilah hostage.
  • Lilah: Ethan's beloved, highly tolerant girlfriend is actually a girl he's been stalking or a random victim he's hoping will develop Stockholm syndrome.
  • Scott: The mysterious roommate is actually Lilah's roommate/brother who was wounded/killed and now hidden in his room. His furtive penguin is a stuffed toy or a Boston terrier.
  • Christian: Lilah's obnoxious ex-fiance is actually a female detective who stumbled onto the scene and is trying to rescue Lilah (Ethan only had a glimpse of her and thought she was a man).
  • Lucas: A the hostage negotiator who's been acting like Ethan's best friend.
  • Store guy: Another negotiator who didn't hit it off too well with Ethan.
  • The other girls (Asian girl with glasses, Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette Dark Action Girl who looked like Shego, and Kate - the last two coincidentally Lucas' ex-girlfriends) and random "background characters" are members of Lucas's SWAT team on point around the house. "Shego" might be a Cold Sniper.
  • Chef Brian and French wrench guy, AKA the Wacky Monkey Cheeze duo: An innocent pizza delivery guy and a maintenance man respectively who stumbled into the situation and are very, very freaked out over what they've gotten themselves into. They've barricaded themselves in the attic (hence why they're there yet don't interact with the others), and although they've escaped Ethan's attention they're driving themselves insane with stress. -OR- They are voices in Ethan's head and/or Ethan's (extremely stupid) alternate personalities.
  • Zeke and EVE Nambla Embla: Really tall lamps whose humanoid shape is enough to convince Ethan that they're actual robots.
    • What about the four gamers?
      • They're alternate personalities, but they're so weak they only manifest as random bursts of violence (for instance, if One shows up Ethan will randomly throw things; if Two or more shows up it's as if he's fighting himself for a few seconds).
  • Ethan's older brother Rory is... Ethan's older brother. His childhood antics are no worse then other people's older brothers', but like Ran Ethan can really hold a grudge.

CAD is just one of many alternate universes of Futurama
As seen here (not my photoshop).

The plot will eventually get back to the wedding and Ethan's allegedly Jerk Ass Aloof Older Brother Rory
... in about two or three years Nevermind, he now exists!

Someone will call Ethan on his bullshit regarding his brother
For all Ethan's bitter complaints against his brother, Lilah or Lucas is going to say, "Ethan, no offense, but remember when you..." then lists off the various things that he's done (either happening in-comic, referenced in-comic, and even a few things never seen before) and how they've put up with him. Or hell, Rory will say something like "Dude, it was all in good fun... besides, you're no saint either, remember when you set fire to my car?"
  • Nonsense, this Ethan we're talking about, his hatred of his brother will eventually be justified. Rory's "favor" is almost certainly going to be for money to pay off drug dealers and Ethan (unwittingly) assumes Rory's debt and the thugs come after him, leading to the rooftop scene. Afterward Rory will try to escape justice just like Ethan does but since Rory is the designated villain of this arc he's going to suffer the consequences and go to jail or get taken away by the people he owes money to or endure a Deus ex Machina attack from Bender and Fembot Zeke and Embla while Ethan is going to be hailed as a saint and Lilah will apologize for insisting on inviting Rory.
    • Alternatively, he's working for Christian.
    • But you never know, B^Uckers could still surprise us with something like the Macmanus brothers team up to fight the goons (heh, goons), ending with the brothers forging a tight bond with simultaneous crowning moments of awesome and heartwarming (like this, but with more words)!
    Ethan: We beat those guys! Together!
    Rory: I couldn't have done it without your Mortal Kombat skills!
    Both: I love you man!!
    • Surprise us? That would be horrible, how is that a surprise?!
      • Rory isn't the monster everyone expected him to be, and Ethan's victory is because he's working equally with someone else instead of it falling into his lap by accident. But that's not going to happen: this arc will end with Bender and Fembot's Deus ex Machina, Rory being led away by the gangsters he tried to screw, and Ethan and Leelah on their honeymoon with funds that mysteriously appeared.
    • Holy shit, Rory isn't a complete monster! But he's The Worst Brother Ever so going to jail anyway.

Follow-up theory: Buckley's writing is getting worse on purpose.
He's confused Ass Pulls and Idiot Plots with being able to write an unpredictable character. Yes, the ending of the Wedding/Rory Arc managed to defy most of the haters' expectations, but not in a good way. As a goon put it, "I can reasonably predict what, say, Locke will do in a situation because his character is consistent, but it's impossible to say what Ethan will do." I doubt anyone expected Ethan to use his brains to beat the mobsters since it's not skill he uses very often — seven seconds a day, according to him, and it's been longer then seven seconds since the mobsters started chasing him (probably).

Cad is set in the Assassin's Creed universe
Ethan is in possession of a Piece of Eden, the Macguffin being fought over that is used to brainwash people. This explains why people still somehow like him and the universe generally bends to his will. Rory is an Assassin and the mobsters chasing after him are Templars trying to silence him. Ethan may or may not be a Templar- on one hand the Templars are wealthy, powerful and successful so maybe not, on the other hand they're all Card-Carrying Villain and all round dicks so Ethan would fit in.
  • Does that have anything to do with this comic?

Ethan is a character in an Adam Sandler movie.
That's why he can act like such an irresponsible Jerk Ass and still get a pretty woman, friends, and villains that manage to one up his douche-iness.

CAD isn't copying Penny Arcade, but rather Family Guy
Both series have:
  • An idiot protagonist who, despite being borderline retarded and always drunk (using his Irish heritage as a scapegoat), is a total Anti-Sue (Peter/Ethan)
  • The protagonist's wife. Despite being fully capable of taking care of herself, is forced to be her husband's caretaker and "sex slave" (Lois/Lilah)
  • The main character's best friend, who acts as the voice of reason. Sometimes acts like a douche, but is still a Marty Stu (Brian/Lucas)
  • A sociopath who was created by the main character several ears ago. Despite being hyped as an original character, degenerates into comic relief (Stewie/Zeke)
  • A character that, despite having potential for being funny, is either shunned or not even spoken of (Meg/Scott)
  • Constant non sequitur humor (Cutaway gags/Chef Brian)
  • An episode/strip that mocks religion (Not All Dogs Go to Heaven/Gamer Religion Arc)
  • An episode/strip based on prenatal death (Abandoned abortion episode/Loss)
  • An episode/strip considered the show/comic's Dethroning Moment of Suck, constantly referred to in every discussion (Not All Dogs Go to Heaven/Loss)
Q.E.D. Plagiarism

The characters that were deleted out of CAD continuity and get you banned for life if you ever mention them in the forums were based on former best friends of the author who he now hates for reasons.

  • I thought that was obvious.

Buckley wrote the "Loss" story arc because he didn't know how to write a baby into the story.
It's a commonly known fact that the characters in CAD are one-sided; Ethan is our wacky video gamer, Lucas is a snarky gamer, Lilah is a girl gamer, and Zeke is a "stupid meatbags" robot gamer. If Lilah was to have the baby, then Tim would actually have to work to characterize the child, sacrificing some of his "monkey cheese" humor to do so. So what did he do? He wrote out the little McManus the only way he knew how.
  • So wait, you're saying Zeke is a bot?
    • There's nothing more random and destructive than a baby. He'd have more material than he could ever dream of if he kept the damn fetus.

Ethan lives in a series of time loops.
Think about it. How would he even think of trying half the shit he pulls off unless he'd done it before and seen all possible consequences? My theory is that the arcs we see are the loops that he sees through until he's found what he thinks is a happy ending, so to speak. The failed loops and having seen all those alternate universes where things go so terribly wrong would probably screw him up, explaining his increasingly bizarre behaviour. How many times did he see Lilah die instead of the baby, for example, before he gave up on saving it?

Ethan's store is the only game store in town.
This is why he still has customers, as opposed to everyone not going to a place where they are most likely going to be insulted, and much of the rest of the time injured.
  • Actually, Lucas worked at another game store in the same town, so... no.

Scott is spying on Ethan.
He is making sure that Ethan's inventions don't lead to worldwide destruction (Embla dying? That was him). Otherwise, he is wasting a lot of money reinforcing his room against intrusion and risking his sanity by staying with an unstable douche for... what, exactly?

The whole story is an adaptation of "real-life" events involving Ethan and Lucas, as told by Scott.
Scott witnessed the antics of Ethan, exaggerated them for the sake of artistic license (thankfully for him, he didn't have to exaggerate them too much), and wound up creating a successful series of novels that are presented in handy four-panel format here. Pity he couldn't find a better artist...

Scott's door
Just throwing this one in here quickly. Kinda obvious, really, but I just can't help myself. Latest comic + Status Quo Is God = Behind Scott's steel door there is another steel door.

Ted's Future Role
So far Ted escaped and may have some future role what do you think he will do

Ethan's newfound sanity is from him bleeding his insanity into those around him
The best way for them not to suffer from it is to have Ethan go far away from them.


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