Webcomic / Ctrl+Alt+Del
is a Two Gamers on a Couch webcomic
, following the adventures of two guys, a girl, and a robot who alternate between sitting around playing video games and getting up to wacky hijinks
. Created and written by Tim Buckley (no relation
The comic alternated its updates between story-based strips and video game-specific ones, until on November 24, 2012 the comic concluded its main storyline, wrapping up the stories of Ethan, Lilah, Lucas, and Zeke
. Following this conclusion, the comic has become almost exclusively video-game jokes
, now starring the four colored players previously seen in occasional earlier joke strips.
This was used as placeholder content until the main storyline was rebooted, now featuring Ethan and Lucas as a gaming-themed superhero team, with a marked change in drawing style, being much more dynamic and detailed.
Not to be confused with the three-finger-salute/Vulcan Nerve Pinch
or the Belgian and socialist political book of the same name
There is also an animated adaption, Ctrl+Alt+Del: The Animated Series
. Its site is here
This webcomic contains examples of:
- Becoming the Mask: Meta example, but the current Something Awful mock thread has moved on to drawing fan art (ban art) of Buckley's characters, often in an attempt to fix the flaws in his writing/art/characterisation. This has led to the horrible realisation:
We are the CAD fans!
- Big Damn Heroes: Rory saves Ethan with a fire extinguisher attacking the Hawaiian Mafia.
- Bittersweet Ending: The ending of the the main storyline. Ethan gives his life in a Heroic Sacrifice to stop the annihilation of two universes, never making it back home, never getting to say "I love you" to Lilah one last time. Everyone mourns his death, but eventually moves on. Zeke reveals himself, saying that he's just "trying to find his place in the world." Lucas learns to love again, marrying Kate and having a son which he names after Ethan. His legacy is remembered in the form of "The Ethan MacManus Church of Gaming". We're left with an image of Lilah looking up at said church with a proud but sorrowful smile.
- Bound and Gagged: Happens to Lilah in one strip when she's kidnapped.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done quite literally in this strip.
- Broken Aesop: The comic makes it clear it's wrong to be a "console fanboy," in one strip even having God personally squash one. Fine. We'll buy that; a bit Anvilicious, but an adequate Aesop of its own. However, there are issues with this, since the fanboys are always Gamecube fans, the evil Gamer King in an early strip used a staff with a golden Gamecube controller on top (versus Ethan's Xbox one), Ethan playing a Gamecube is referred to as a "sin against the gaming gods," he mentions that turning the Gamecube into a robot would result into a girl robot, and doing the same to a Playstation would produce a gay one while the Xbox appears to be perfect and sinless.
- Rob. Very seldom will anyone say anything remotely nice to or about him. Ethan once pushed a vending machine on him purely For the Evulz and then jumped on top of it with Rob still lying under it. Rob's hideous crime? He's a "frat boy" who only likes a handful of super-popular games like World of Warcraft and Halo.
- And Counter Strike. Lots and lots of Counter Strike.
- Faildruid, a hapless World of Warcraft player/character who happens to be a bear (and later an owl-bear). His crime is basically being a very naive newbie.
- Nintendo in the Console Wars series of strips takes a lot of this, with the "Weeyous" (Wii U) in particular being a subject for ridicule. Although if the most recent couple strips are any indication, the tide◊ is◊ turning◊.
- Cain and Abel: Rory and Ethan.
- Cerebus Syndrome: Since the miscarriage, there have been more purely dramatic strips and less gags, culminating in the Grand Finale where Ethan dies in a Heroic Sacrifice to save two timelines.
- Chainsaw Good: This strip: 
- Character Development: Ethan suddenly acquires competence when he uses his cellphone as a wire. It's been theorized that this has something to do with Ethan and Lilah moving from boyfriend-girlfriend to married couple, where Ethan's behavior wouldn't really work. Or he did it as part of his daily seven seconds of focus.
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Ethan trying out an RPG-themed rewards system (one of his rare, not-actually-that-bad ideas) at his game shop when he encounters a Gamer Chick who's trying to manipulate the system by buying ten games at once to get an eleventh one at a discount and then returning the first ten games. Ethan seems to get the upper hand after he sorts out the rules, but then she moves on rigging the tabletop games by, um, paying the entrance fees for a band of hobos for a prize that's only a percentage of the money she paid.
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Once or twice a year, the author will come out with a storyline where he decides what the character's actions will be or what plot branch to take in the next update based on the number of emailed votes he receives.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The Four Players.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Ethan displayed it a lot in the past, which is biting the comic in the arse now Cerebus Syndrome has kicked in and he's meant to be a little more sympathetic and at least trying to mature. The Four Players, especially Two and Four.
- Comic Role Play: In one strip, Ethan freaks Lucas out by wearing fake breasts when playing his girlfriend.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Ethan reacts to being saved from the mafia by Rory by being outright furious. Somewhat justified since Rory caused the mafia to show up in the first place, but that he reacts this way just a couple of seconds after Rory had saved him from bodily harm, and maybe even death, by knocking out the mobsters, makes Ethan seem angry about being saved.
- Continuity Creep: Starts out as your standard issue gamer comic, eventually descends into lengthy storylines.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ethan borders between this and The Ditz.
- Convenient Miscarriage: Lilah's miscarriage that spawned a thousand flame wars.
- Creator Cameo: In the animated series. Hilarious in Hindsight; City of Heroes eventually did put out a Mac Edition with special goodies and much fanfare.
- Cut-and-Paste Comic: To a fairly infamous degree, especially during a con demonstration of how he works his comics, it's shown that he keeps a file full of different eyes and mouths to copy and paste from, along with differently shaded body parts. Eventually Buckley has moved away from it, with much more dynamic angles and poses.
- Dead Guy Junior: Lucas' child is named for Ethan.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Often criticized of violating this rule. Occasionally goes the opposite way and has comics with no punchline, other then violence, profanity, and/or lol boobs/lol penis.
- Dull Surprise: Common enough to spawn the B^U Memetic Mutation
- Drama Bomb: The infamous miscarriage arc.
- Drama Bomb Finale: The "Endings...And Beginnings" strip.
- Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Lucas,
concentration camp Lucas Barry (Ethan's old boss), Scott, Lucas' murderous girlfriend, Christian's agent Shannon, and Abby the Gamer Chick who's gaming Ethan.
- Even Nerds Have Standards: Seen here.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Ted, if he existed.
- Evil Plan: Christian buying the video game store, which was all part of a scheme to steal Lilah away from Ethan.
- Evil Red Head: Two of Four, possibly Christian and Kate, who's more of a misguided redhead.
- Faceless Masses: Averted during the wedding.
- False Cause: Rogues take less damage from falls. Rogues wear light clothing. Therefore, no clothing would be even better.
- Fan Speak: "Life dropped an Epic Husband..."
- Fast-Roping: The sheer amount of places that you can do in the Rainbow Six: Vegas games is jokingly explained here.
- Filler Strip: Ironically the only time when the comic is about video games (Word of God says the actual strip is about gamers, i.e. the main characters).
- Four Is Death: The Four Players to each other, usually Player 2 to Player 1.
- Gamer Chick: Lilah, played completely straight and one of the earliest examples of it.
- Genius Ditz: Despite being a total idiot, Ethan has constructed a fully sapient (albeit rather misanthropic) robot (out of an Xbox no less), a set of super-strong robot hands, and a hermetically sealed chamber with a chair capable of sensing biorhythms to discourage sleep or inattentiveness. He states that for seven seconds a day, his mind can focus granting him virtually unlimited insight into how the world works, allowing him to build his technological wonders and dispense incredibly good insight into other people's relationships. He then puts pineapple rings over his eyes, saying "heh...Pineapple Goggles."
- GIS Syndrome: One of the more prominent users, particularly for posters. Early strips even had Ethan's Gamecube suffer from this.
- Golden Moment: Lilah and Ethan finally talk to each other.
- Grim Reaper: An extra in the Sillies; has his own T-Shirt!
- Heroic Sacrifice: Ethan deactivates the time machine to save both timelines, knowing he will be killed when the vortex closes.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Lilah fully exploits this on Ethan. Then Ethan tries it...... and fails.
- Idiot Houdini: Ethan's devolution to this is in large part why the comic has such a hatedom. In early strips, other characters put up with his stupidity only to the extent necessary to keep him as a character in the webcomic. By the time Winter-een-mas rolls around, the universe is bending over backward to turn all of his stupid ideas into outrageous successes. At the comic's end, he did end up getting some comeuppance by getting killed off trying to fix the consequences of his actions. The author admitted the decision behind this was that he was overdue to get some backlash after having things go his way for so long.
- Ironic Echo: The animated series had a short skit involving the Four Players. One of the players doesn't heal the other after shouting, "Heal me!" The player responds by going to the other player in real time and chopping him up with an axe. The victim replies, "Heal me!"
- It Came from the Fridge: this strip.
- It's Raining Salesmen: Lucas is annoyed to the point he refuses to go back into the store after encountering this trope while buying some spare RAM for his PC.
- Jerk Ass:
- Ethan when it comes to customers and Rob due to their limited experience or ignorance of video games.
- Rory to his little brother Maowio, at least when they were kids.
- Karmic Twist Ending:
- Ethan's years of escaping consequences for his actions end when a time machine he created is used to show him a Bad Future resulting from his creation of Zeke. When the same time machine overloads, Ethan is forced to commit a Heroic Sacrifice.
- Also seen in a few of the deaths from the Space Archaeologist Choose Your Own Adventure arcs.
- Kick the Dog: Christian. His whole post-miscarriage store plot was to set up Ethan so he could get Lilah back. Putting so much effort to frame a moron so you can get back a girl who left you is both petty and evil, especially when all the money he spent on that asinine plot could have gone into getting whores or dating sites.
- Kill Streak: Parodied in the strip "Perky", with Modern Warfare 2 having a perk that lets you play as RoboCop after 30 kills.
- Later Installment Weirdness: In its final years it rather awkwardly changed from a fairly tame "Two Gamers On A Couch" gag comic that never really had a deep plot, to an extremely dark and character-driven dramedy involving time travel and a quest to prevent the apocalypse. The shift is... rather jarring to say the least.
- Life Embellished: Tim Buckley describes Ethan as a "stylized version" of himself (his avatar looks more or less like Ethan with shorter hair), and Lucas likewise of his best friend. Ethan has gradually evolved away from this. It's visually apparent in this comic.
- Limited Wardrobe: Nobody in this strip changes their clothes except for plot reasons.
- Long Bus Trip: Scott the Linux guy and owner of the penguin, who became Ensemble Dark Horses. Buckley insists they were meant to be one-off characters. Bringing him up on the forums is grounds for instant banning. Strangely they're both featured in the opening of the animated series and occasionally have walk-on roles.
- Long Runner: It's been running since 2002 and shows no signs of slowing down.
- The Mafia:The Hawaiian mafia no less.
- Manchild: Ethan. With hints of Psychopathic Man Child.
- Mood Whiplash: The strip directly after the dramatic, bloody Grand Finale is about the Gameloft My Little Pony game.
- Moral Dissonance: Lucas tells Kate they can see other people, then is hurt and offended when she actually does. Then has the balls to make her apologize to him when it was his idea to move to casual in the first place.
- My Own Private "I Do": Ethan and Lilah of the Elope First, Plan Later variety. Zeke eventually finds out and uses it as blackmail fodder.
- Nerd Nanny: Lilah, as a Straight Man for Ethan.
- Nice Hat: This hat is Nice. He's got a whole closet of them, apparently.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: "This is how the world ends". No, THIS is.
- Noodle Incident: We never do find out just what Zeke said to make Ethan so mad at him in these-three strips.
- No Sense of Direction: Fail Druid makes a return after 6 years. Turns out he never left. He just got lost in the Deeprun Tram!
- Only Six Faces: One face and/or expression commonly called "B^U◊" or "Buckleyface".
- Orwellian Editor: Several characters have been removed from the series, some with explanations (Zeke, Embla), some without (Scott, Ted, Chef Brian). Regardless, no matter what, if you mention any of those characters on the CAD forums, you're banned for life.
- Outside-the-Box Tactic: Post-Reboot, The Campaign storyline had the party's Fire Mage ready to level up and learn the Fire Form. But first, he must pass the test from an instructor, who assumed the Fire Form and fought him. Much to the Mage's chagrin, since he has nothing but fire spells. But he managed to defeat the instructor by enveloping the instructor with a dome of flames, snuffing out the oxygen and ending the Fire Form.
- Parental Favoritism: Rory > Ethan — even when Ethan's getting married.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Kate's hair drapes over one eye constantly.
- Product Placement: In addition to video games, movies, and TV, Ethan produces a Droid cellphone that wasn't available when the wedding arc started.