Red Mage: That is not how we do things around here, buddy. First we have to argue incessantly over semantics. Then one of us has to hurt one or all of us. Black Mage:That's it, I've had enough. This whole goddamn adventure has been nothing but pointless build ups toward pay offs that never happen.
This work includes examples of the following tropes:
Aborted Arc: Played with by the author to help create the Anti-Climax. Each Light Warrior has an avatar of some sort trying to prepare them each for their large and important destinies. However, eventually they all just get fed up and leave, unable to take all the insanity and stupidity, and none of them are ever mentioned again and don't have anything to do with how the story resolves.
Achievements in Ignorance: Both Fighter and Black Belt can break the laws of physics simply through being too stupid to understand them.
Darko: What have you been doing with yourself all this time? Black Mage: Well the... see, y'can't... I didn't... Darko: You can skip the self-atrocities. Black Mage: Whew! I took a nap. Er, um... sinisterly.
The defeat of Chaos is even worse. He gets killed offscreen (not even a good distance away, just barely offscreen) by one character who had been missing for a while and three characters who had NEVER SHOWN UP BEFORE THAT POINT. This was done to resolve a Brick Joke that had been set up nine years earlier.
Arc Number: Four. Since the original Final Fantasy had 4 Light Warriors, Fiends, and orbs/crystals, the comic plays on this by adding 4 Dark Warriors, 4 "Other Warriors", 4 "true" Light Warriors - making a total of 4 warrior groups(well, five now that the "all White Mages" team has been introduced) - and 4 patron avatars. Also, the average strip is 4 rows.
Fighter: ...After we brutally murdered her son, banished her husband to hell, and tore up her driveway.
Artifact Title: Originally, the comic was to have consisted of a rotating series of sprite comics based on various NES-era games, hence the title 8-Bit Theater. As it turned out, the Final Fantasy comic was the only one that ended up actually getting made. He created one other he used as filler.
Art Shift: Happens multiple times over the course of the series, often for one panel gags: Thief sneak attacking an orc, Black Mage laughing at Thief when he thinks he's escaped his contracts forever, Black Mage experiencing the Goblin Punch, Sarda Mind Raping the Dark Warriors, whenever Black Mage contemplates the hotness of White Mage, and finally, the entirety of the epilogue.
Ascended Extra: Sarda had a very minor role in the original game (he give you a key item). His role is expanded in the comic.
Ass Shove: White Mage threatens to do this to Black Mage with her hammer, for what he does in this strip. note He doesn't help matters by suggesting White Mage have sex with him on top of the corpses. Truth in Television, as this suggestion tends not to yield positive results in Real Life either. Don't ask how we know.
Black mage: What I learned today is that really old wizards don't get that way by being easy to kill.
Red mage: So you didn't get any spells?
Black mage: In the sense that being stabbed gets you a blade, man, I got spells.
Batman Gambit: Sarda has been secretly making the Light Warriors stronger so that he could show them how insignificant they are when their upgrades fail to save them from his wrath. This was all in retribution for having his younger self irreversibly and unbelievably traumatized by Black Mage multiple times. And also because the other Light Warriors did nothing to stop him from doing it.
Battle Aura: Black Mage, after absorbing the evil of the fiends. Later, he lost it after destroying the Temple of Fiends. Then Sarda got it.
Battle Discretion Shot: Used many times, with the action (usually Fighter beating up a villain or Black Mage beating up a bystander) shown offpanel for comic effect, and taken to its ultimately absurd conclusion in the Final Battle with Chaos.
Best Served Cold: Sarda has literally lived for billions of years to set in motion his Evil Plan to strengthen the Light Warriors so that he could kill them all at the height of their power, just to rub their insignificance in their collective face. Best served cold indeed. Though as the Cosmic Plaything example indicates, he probably did not intend to have no choice but to wait that long.
Big Damn Heroes: Black Mage, Red Mage, and Dragoon each killed one of the four Fiends from out of nowhere.
Big Damn Villains: Black Mage can generally be relied upon to throw immensely destructive magic at a life-threatening problem. ... with the side-effect that he's not very accurate and has very limited understanding of the word "subtlety". In short: the protagonists have probably reaped a higher death toll than the antagonists. Although this doesn't make moments like this any less awesome.
Bittersweet Ending: The villains threatening the world are defeated, everybody is saved, the Dark Warriors are hailed as heroes throughout the land, and Thief manages to become the new king of the Elves. However due to the events of the comic the Light Warriors aren't given any credit for all the crap they went through and most of the group disbands with Black Mage and Fighter just disappearing and nobody knowing what happened to them (they're actually right where they were when the comic started). White Mage is trying to find a way to give them the credit they earned but it's left ambiguous if she'll succeed.
Evil Versus Evil: In a world where the "heroes" are worse than the villains (except Sarda and Chaos) and singlehandledly responsible for most of the world's suffering; the people in charge of things are insane, megalomaniacal, or both; and any attempts to bring any sort of peace or happiness seem to fail by default, the only thing preventing Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy is seeing just how over the top the Black Comedy gets.
Fighter: The way I figured it, the fall doesn't kill you. The ground does. So I blocked it. Thief: You blocked the Earth. Fighter: Why not? I can block magic and fire and all kinds of stuff. Thief: I hate it when the things he says that don't make sense make sense.
Brought Down to Normal: Sarda eventually decides to take away the Light Warriors' class changes, and revert them all the way back to level 1 as well. Except for Thief, whose past self stole his class change from his future self somehow.
Brown Note: Listening to any of the Light Warriors speak for any length of time can be hazardous to your health. Fighter regularly makes listeners too stupid to think (including the omnipotent Sarda), but Red Mage is almost as bad, talking with Thief for any amount of time will likely end with you having no money, and Black Mage once came out with an insult so awesome (or perhaps so lame) it killed a man.
Red Mage had his skeleton removed from his body and was later turned into a one-eyed monster (he got better).
Thief was mauled by Berserker, had all his accumulated treasure smashed, was torched by Bahamut, and was shaken to oblivion by Muffin. And he stole his class change from himself in the future, just before Sarda got to the final part of his revenge.
White Mage can only watch in sorrow as the Light Warriors slaughter innocents, each other, and generally ignore their "responsibility" as heroes, and that's on top of her best friend dying.
Onion Kid's main purpose is to go through various torments that usually relate to Black Mage. And become Sarda. Then get possessed by Chaos.
Garland went through this briefly before he founded the Dark Warriors.
Not to mention that his right hand man is a coffee stain named Rodney.
The Dwarf King is also rather monstrous. In order to shorten the amount of paperwork the bodies of the giant monsters that Black Mage slays will bring, he has the coastal reserve murdered in front of their families and blames the event on the elves.
Red Mage: Wait. You murdered your own blind brother?
Black Mage: It would have been cruel to let him live after what I did to his eyes.
It's suggested that this wasn't the only instance. When asked if he has a sister, Black Mage says he wouldn't use present tense to describe any of his family members, while the panel shows just Black Mage talking against a bloodsplattered background.
Call Back: "All I can tell you is that, yes, the whole point of this comic was to do this comic much later. I didn't intend for it to be nine years later, but around year five or so it occurred to me it had already gone from being a long range call back to probably the longest ranged call back attempted by a webcomic." - Brian Clevinger, explaining the appropriately-titled strip "Longest Set Up in Webcomic History".
This was called back in this in another very long Call Back, but not quite as long as the one above.
Character Development: Deliberately averted with the Light Warriors, who never really learn a lesson and never improve upon their flaws. The closest they get to development is that over the course of the series they start to treat each other slightly less horribly than they did at the start. And even that gets flipped on it's head a lot!
Chekhov's Gun: 'Longest Set Up In Webcomic History'. In comic 7, there's a throwaway joke when Black Mage is reading a strategy guide. "Four White Mages? It'll never work!" In the end, Chaos is killed by White Mage, Shaman, Priest, and Healer.
Not quite as big a setup as the prior one, but the dialogue in this comic returns to haunt us.
Chekhov's Skill: Zig-zagged. The Light Warriors each pick up a skill when they class change. Thief uses his throw ability several times, and while Fighter only uses his block ability once, it's an important factor in his confrontation with Black Mage. Red Mage never effectively uses his Mimic ability, and Black Mage never picks up any useful spells.
Cherry Tapping: The first attack to hit Sarda? Bikke throwing the Water Orb at him. It didn't do much, but it was the only time anyone (besides himself) was able to do anything to him.
Not surprisingly at all, the point is something that Fighter comically misses on a frequest basis. From Episode 329, right after Thief says he is leaving the group and Black Mage appoints himself the new leader:
Red Mage: You know, Fighter and I have superior numbers. We could overthrow your demented regime easily. Black Mage: We can do this one of two ways. The easy way...or the excruciatingly painful death for Red Mage way. I suggest the former, m'self. You're welcome to try the latter of course, but I assure you it's a wasted effort. You are up against a knife-wielding sociopath just looking for an excuse to hurt you even if he has to make one up. Fighter: Surely this maniac will slaughter us all! Black Mage: If given half a chance... Fighter: He doesn't know we're here, does he?!
Conflict Killer: Happens again...and again...and again during the end game.
Conversational Troping: About the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny - Black Mage and Red Mage discussed who would win in a fight between Batman and Dr Doom, as well as in a fight between Green Arrow and Bullseye. Several hypothetical matches were also discussed in the column "Twinkin' Out with Red Mage".
Cool but Stupid: Every character except Fighter is aware of how stupid an idea sword-chucks are. They work perfectly anyway, thanks to White Mage making it slightly less dangerous.
Cool Sword: In Fighter's opinion, every sword is cool.
The Corruption: It's strongly implied that Black Mage himself is this and that his presence is the reason that the other Light Warriors (excluding Fighter) behave like they do.
Cosmic Plaything: Black Mage, White Mage, and just about everyone else in the comic, at the hands of the nigh-omnipotent Sarda. In turn, Sarda is himself a victim of it thanks to the Light Warriors, in a wonderful example of Time Travel inspired recursive causality.
Cosmic Retcon: Sarda does this a few times to Black Mage, using his magic to alter Black Mage's protests into acceptance.
Crippling Overspecialization: Most of Sarda's spells are designed to only work with a specific target in mind. Subverted, because this was used in order to prevent Blue Mages from using his spells against him. Played straight by Black Mage, who by way of Power Copying has learned "Spell that hurts Black Mage" and the "rewrite reality according to my (Sarda's) whim" spell.
And Bikke, useless though he may be at piracy and villainy, is the first person in the comic to actually hit Sarda with an attack. A useless attack, granted, but it impressed Sarda enough to spare him...for now.
Crunchtastic: Black Mage once concluded that his hatred of Fighter is so great that there is no word strong enough to express it. So - with Red Mage's help - he made up a new one: omniloathe. Obviously Fighter missed the point and was overjoyed that he and Black Mage had "got best buddy codewords now".
Black Belt: Hey, I heard you knocking. Come on in. It's toasty.
Black Mage: [[MST3K Mantra I am comfortable with taking full credit for the feat of entrance because then I get to ignore how or why he is here.
Cycle of Revenge The Light Warriors go after Sarda for torturing them, who's after the Light Warriors because Black Mage ruined his childhood, and Black Mage likely commits his acts of evil because the universe hates him, which is frequently due to Sarda's influence, who tortures Black Mage because of the aforementioned ruined childhood, and so on. A very literal cycle, considering Sarda is "stuck" in a Stable Time Loop.
Damsel in Distress: Averted. The damsel in question has been distressed so many times, she's picked up a few things, and helps her captor.
Deadpan Snarker: When Black Mage isn't in a state of temporary insanity note read: state of bloodthirsty Kill-Them-All-ness while trying to take out everyone in a hundred-mile radius, he is incredibly snarky and sarcastic, particularly about the frequent flaws in logic and common sense that all the other "Light Warriors" seem oblivious to note read: too stupid to see, or just ignore. And the more he gets annoyed and frustrated, the more bloodthirsty and less clever he gets. So you know when Fighter makes a cleverer quip than Black Mage that there is going to be a lot of destroyed real estate in his vicinity.
Death Seeker: Following Black Mage's takeover of hell, and hell subsequently kicking him out, he's very happy whenever he's about to die because he knows he'll be able to take over hell again.
Detectives Follow Footprints: Fighter shows off his tracking skills by describing the footprints he's following. They're his and Black Mage's own trail.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: Sarda uses what he refers to as your typical "rewrite reality according to your will" spell. When Black Mage copies it, it turns out to be a "rewrite reality according to Sarda's will" spell instead.
Also, when Sarda makes Black Mage puke his own intestines out, BM tries to cast the spell back at Sarda. It turns out that Sarda created a spell with the specific description of "Make Black Mage puke his guts out".
Disqualification-Induced Victory: Played for laughs when Fighter comes last in a drownball tournament (due to not drowning) but is still given first prize (due to being the only surviving participant).
The Ditz: King Steve. Bikke, too. Fighter is a subversion in that he's actually the most effective and competent of the Light Warriors.
King Steve: "Now, how about those sno-cones." Black7 Mage: "What is this?" KS: "It's no cone!" Thief: "It's a cube." KS: "Oh, no. That's a common misconception. It's a stube." Thief: "A what?" KS: "The seven-sided cube. I invented it." BM: "There are only six sides." KS: "The seventh side is the inside." (Beat Panel) Thief: "He's got us there."
Dysfunction Junction: From the man himself: "I'm not sure why the Light Warriors worry about obstacles or monsters standing in their way. They are nothing compared to the obstacles and monsters within the party."
Elves VS Dwarves: Exaggerated; Thief, like all elves, despises dwarves to the point of wanting to see every last one of them killed. This makes his rampaging march through their kingdom much more enjoyable for him. The dwarves, for their part, would love nothing more than to see the elves all killed off.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Parodied, since the Light Warriors' original classes are their real names, and remain so even after they change classes.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In-universe example - In the Castle of Ordeals, each character fought a personification of his greatest flaws, symbolically overcoming them (or at least, that's what they were supposed to do...). The final ordeal was to symbolize the team uniting to become more than the sum of their parts and transcend individuality and whatnot. When the final ordeal turns out to be "defeating a zombie dragon", Red Mage complains that the boss doesn't fit the theme.
Red Mage:I fail to see the significance of a zombified dragon vis-a-vis our externalized struggles with our own internal demons.
Fighter: Maybe the bone dragon represents our skeletons. Those are inside of us. Like skeletons.
When Black Mage told by Sarda that "there cannot be power without sacrifice", he takes it to mean he must make a Human Sacrifice... and does so with his "allies" (it didn't stick). Then Sarda tells him that Black Mage must be close to that which is sacrificed... so Black Mage slaughters them again (still didn't stick), and Sarda says that the sacrifice must mean something to Black Mage (who again misinterprets it as the sacrifice being the means to an end). Once Sarda stops time to spend seven hundred years trying to explain it to Black Mage, he finally says that Black Mage must care about what is being sacrificed... which completely stumps Black Mage.
Evil Chancellor: "It's an Elven court. It's all Viziers and they're all assholes."
He also uses them to destroy Fighter's dreams here.
Exact Words: Sarda's spells run on this principle. The spell he casts to hurt Black Mage is a spell that hurts Black Mage, regardless of who is casting it, as Black Mage learned the hard way when he learned it via Blue Magic.
Expy: Chaos is a transdimensional, extratemporal demon of the void that emerges from Sarda's head and threatens to undo the universe, just like the Shadow from Beyond Time in Clevinger's own Atomic Robo.
Face-Heel Turn: Black Mage has attempted to team up with antagonists five times throughout the story, though as he points out, "that'd imply there existed a time I wasn't on team Evil."
Fate Worse than Death: Sarda's pretty much decided that killing the Light Warriors over and over again isn't as fun after dozens of times. So he's pretty much decided to just let them do whatever they want and only make life miserable for them when he's bored. This is subverted, however, because the Light Warriors actually prefer it to certain death.
Black Mage, on those occasions he's not consumed with omnicidal rage. He's been known to discuss super hero deathmatches with Red Mage (in which it can be noted that Black Mage always picks the villain to win while Red Mage always chooses the hero of the matchup). invoked
Flanderization: Black Mage used to be at least selective about what he stabbed and/or nuked. Now he just kills everything at all times. Also, Fighter has gotten considerably dumber over the years, where he was once just kind and easy to trick in the early comics. However, given the number of times he's been stabbed in the head, this might technically count as Character Development.
Also, Red Mage's cross dressing and "animal husbandry" have become the butt of jokes centered around him.
Flat "What.": Black Mage and Sarda use this more often than the rest of the cast. And once more by Lich, after Black Mage's Not Now, Kiddo moment.
Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Red Mage's Ice-9 spell takes away all the heat in the universe. It's cast inside a Bag of Holding that he's just stuffed Kary into (along with all the riches that Thief stole), theoretically putting her on ice until the Light Warriors have sufficently leveled up. However...
Red Mage: We've locked Kary in an inescapable prison where she will remain until such time as we are powerful enough to defeat her. Quite simple.
In comic, a fairly common joke is for characters to have to grant a point for being technically true, such as Fighter having never seen an invisible castle due to them being very rare, or Black Mage not needing his heart to pump blood if he's dead.
Genius Ditz: Arguably Red Mage, who, despite being obsessive about stats and whatnot, occasionally makes good (enough) plans. Fighter might be too, since he has a Bachelor's degree in dead, completely overcomplicated languages (not verbatim).
Red Mage believes that he lives in an RPG Mechanics Verse, so naturally he is very genre savvy about RPG tropes. His attempts at using his knowledge of tropes in practice are occasionally successful; however, usually they aren't.
Go Mad from the Revelation: Surprisingly invoked on Chaos of all people, when White Mage points out that a universe completely ruled by entropy would be as dull and boring as a world completely ruled by order.
He Who Fights Monsters: Sarda. For all his talk about how horrible the Light Warriors are, he's just as bad (well, as bad as Red Mage and Thief). He kills off the Other Warriors, not to mention Ranger's wife over what he knows is a simple misunderstanding.
Heel-Face Turn: Drizz'l briefly joins the Light Warriors, although this is due more to frustration with the Dark Warriors' incompetence and being voted off than a change in morality. Then again, the Light Warriors are not exactly pillars of morality. In fact, when Black Mage was on their team, the Light Warriors were more evil than the Dark Warriors.
Princess Sara is arguably an example of this, at one point taking over her own kidnapping and trying to help Garland dispose of the Light Warriors, who have come to rescue her. However, after Garland is defeated, she returns to her previous life and does not continue to pursue the evil path to any noticeable degree.
Black Mage, despite being a "hero", almost pulls these a few times, but something always distracts him back to his own ways before long.
High Voltage Death: Black Mage electrocutes a group of old men to death in an old folks home with a Bolt 2 spell just for the sake of killing them. Well he also wanted to find an old man that took their gold, but he makes it pretty clear prior to that that he's mostly going there to cause mayhem, and only asks someone about the gold after he kills them.
Black Mage: Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache? Warmech: I grew it with my human lip. Red Mage: Is... is that a fact? Warmech: Oh yes. I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation. Thief: Well he sounds human.
Illogical Safe: Played with, only with an armoire instead of a safe falling on Fighter. Fighter emerges from the middle of it and Red Mage launches a convoluted explanation that states that Fighter survived because his knowledge of Cartoon Physics warped reality itself. Then Fighter reveals that the bottom just was cheap particle board.
Impossible Thief: Thief can steal anything that's not on fire and nailed down at the same time. Emphasis "and" and "anything."
Thief: I've stolen things that weren't even there. This soul exists, so that helps.
After deciding to break the three Light Warriors who aren't Black Mage out of their icy prison, Drizz'l comes up with an idea that he knows he'll hate himself for after it works. He tells this joke: "How do you get 200 Canadians out of the pool? [Beat] Say 'Please get out of the pool.'" The ice shatters and Thief asks what he just did. "I... broke the ice..."
Insult Backfire: Clevinger, in keeping with his philosophy that the best joke is the one on the reader, wrote a comic that ended with the entire strip All Just a Dream, as a fake No Ending. Rather than the cavalcade of abuse he expected from pissed-off readers, he got fan mail complementing him on writing the perfect ending for his comic! Needless to say, he was peeved that his master plan was ruined by kindness.
He seems to have tried it again here. And again, after the initial shock, the readers began to compliment him, calling him a Magnificent Bastard.
Ironic Hell: After being severely beaten by Berserker, Thief ends up in his personal Hell where he owns everything. Thief is overjoyed... until a trickster god called Raven points out to him that there's nothing left to steal in this Hell. Realizing that, Thief starts begging the god to revive him. However, it's revealed later that Thief didn't actually die - Berserker only knocked him unconscious - and his personal Hell was probably an illusion created by Raven who wanted to take advantage of Thief's desperation.
The real hell too.
Head Hell Guy: This is hell. We're big on irony here.
Iron Buttmonkey: Fighter and Black Mage — the former is repeatedly stabbed in the head with no ill effects (it made him smarter once), while Black Mage more or less always survives what's thrown at him (the Goblin Punch and Australia come to mind) and when he's killed, he gets brought back in fairly short order so as to continue suffering.
Karma Houdini: The Light Warriors (especially Black Mage), after all the atrocities they commit, ultimately escape any kind of punishment. The only upside is that White Mage keeps them from stealing the credit for all the good things they DIDN'T do... by making sure it goes to the Dark Warriors.
Well Black Mage seems to be destined to forever wander the world with Fighter, who he hates, but can't kill or otherwise get rid of in any way.
Plus, Sarda de-leveled them all, so none of them have the skills they used to terrorize the world before.
Last of His Kind: Red Mage and Dragoon. Muffin wants to be, but when pointed out there are a fair number of dragons still out there despite her claims, she grudgingly admits she wasn't quite as thorough as she'd like.
Barry of the real Light Warriors is apparently a Red Wizard, meaning that Red Mage is either wrong or lying for roleplaying EXP. Knowing him, it's likely both simultaneously.
Level Drain: Happens to the Light Warriors near the end of the comic.
Sarda: The irony is that there's not much left for me to do to you that you haven't already done to yourselves. [...] Thief: Pff, what could he possibly do? Black Mage: Oh... please don't say that out loud. Thief: No, think about what he said. We're Light Warriors, dammit. I bet he can't hurt us any more than we hurt each other every day. Red Mage: Thief kinda has a point. We're our own worst enemies. What can he do?! POIT! (The Light Warriors are reduced in levels and class) Red Mage:(turns to Sarda) What if I said it was a rhetorical question?
Level Grinding: After being deleveled by Sarda, the Light Warriors must engage in a frenzy of this in order to (maybe) stand a chance against Chaos
Ley Line: Mentioned as running through the land. It is stated that Black Mage is a living Nexus.
It's not just that Black Mage is a living Nexus personified, but that apparently his mind/soul itself is the Nexus, such that his physical body acts as a Restraining Bolt. Hence when he dies and gets rid of his physical body, his powers increase (vis a vis RULING OVER HELL). He is not happy that the universe is trying its very hardest to keep him alive (probably so he doesn't end all creation.)
Light Is Not Good: For a group of "heroes" called "The Light Warriors", they are probably the world's greatest mortal perpetrators of atrocities. Sarda flat out tells them this. Then again, the Light Warriors only got the title by tricking King Steve with their "Orbs of Destiny", which were in fact light bulbs, and the Real Light Warriors were unable to find a job.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although by the 1000 comic mark, Fighter can block anything in creation (including fire and the ground) and Thief can steal anything in creation, they still aren't anywhere near matching the raw destructive power that Black Mage has access to. Red Mage is a special case because although he can instantly mimic Black Mage's attacks when they are used on him (for about 30 seconds afterwards), his wizarding skills in general are not geared towards brute force but practicality (well, what he thinks of as practicality). The best example of this trope, though, is Sarda, who gets phenomenally more powerful the older he gets. Anyone even want to know what Black Mage and Red Mage are going to be capable of if they exist that long?
Made of Evil/Evil God: Black Mage. You can't really describe him as anything else other than the Elemental Embodiment of Evil. When he goes to the Castle of Ordeals, each warrior has to face the physical embodiment of their worst flaws in order to overcome them. Black Mage's physical manifestation is himself. Because there is nothing more evil out there. However, when he keeps remembering the increasingly evil things he has done, the manifestation starts to shake reality. See here and the comic before it.
Magic A Is Magic A: If Sarda devises a spell to hurt you, he devises a spell to hurt you, as demonstrated by Black Mage several times.
Magic Versus Science: The comic ends with a newspaper declaring the "very real Light Warriors save the world!"; next to the picture of the Dark Warriors, there is an article about a mana vein which baffles scientists.
Medieval Stasis: The Elves, as pointed out by Red Mage despite having a 9,000 year start are at the same technology level as humans. Thief, at a loss for a proper explanation tells them that they like it that way.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Earlier strips had King Steve serving as a George W. Bush parallel, though done in an extremely over the top Strawman representation (drilling for Mana in wildlife preserves, father also a ruler, bit of a warmonger, and low popularity).
The "father also a ruler" part is justified. He's a KING.
Though, ironically, King Steve himself doesn't know that.
No Fourth Wall: In this strip, the Light Warriors can see themselves as in the comic. Even Black Mage comments on something he says at a later point. Justified, since they're in void where space and time are meaningless.
Red Mage often leans very heavily on the Fourth Wall. Considering he's a Munchkin this isn't much of a surprise (his entire order lives on the basis of manipulating the Fourth Wall). When he does say something with a meta-context expect Black Mage (if he's currently not in possession of the Insanity Ball and trying to kill everything in sight) to remark on it with either suspicion or frustration.
No Kill Like Overkill: Black Mage. He likes summoning the raw powers of the universe to do his bidding (apparently). This usually comes (also apparently) with a malleable sense of scale... as in "off of the". As a running gag, his love of killing things in as over-the-top a fashion as possible often leads to his attacks backfiring on him (luckily for him, he learns Feather Fall eventually).
Black Mage: I found out what zombies are weak against. Red Mage: Oh? Black Mage: Point blank annihilation.
Don't forget when Sarda locked Black Mage perfectly still while the rest of the universe kept moving, shifting him outside the cave. Of course, all the other molecules kept moving and shredded him at a sub-cellular level, but Sarda kept him alive out of spite.
Not Now, Kiddo: Black Mage is guilty of this on several occasions. A few times to Fighter, but once to Lich, while he and the rest of BM's party discussed the plan to kill Lich's son, Vilbert. Right in front of Lich. And Black Mage didn't even bother to look at Lich while he said that.
Thief, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Drizz'l, and Rogue are this in their respective groups.
Though among those listed above, only Left-Hand Man Gary has not shown overt signs of either willfully dangerous ignorance (White Mage and Rogue), Knight Templaric tendencies (White Mage again), Black and Gray Morality (Thief, Sara and Drizz'l), or sociopathic, psychopathic psychosis (need you even ask).
Sarda might also count, since he's one of the few who sees the Light Warriors except Fighter as the horrible threat to the world they actually are.
When Black Mage isn't in an omnicidal rage, he is typically the Only Sane Man, and will point out flaws in logic, be the only voice of reason, and will even lean heavily against the fourth wall. However, whenever he is sane, one of the Light Warriors (usually) will do or say something stupid or frustrating, and there seems to be only a certain level of this he can take before he feels the "need to destroy." The stupider the idea (which happens to be proportional to the amount of participation Fighter has in its conception for some completely bizarre reason), the more likely he'll just snap all together. There's a slight problem when that happens...
To explain for those who missed the initial run of the strip: Thief's Ninja outfit is based on a red Ninja sprite from Final Fantasy III. In the original run of strip 200, and in the first run of the strip where he obtained the class change, Thief's outfit matched said sprite. One strip later, however, the outfit switched from red to black - Black Mage comments on it, but Thief only says that the outfit had always been black as a Logic Bomb. On the same day as the Logic Bomb joke, the previous strips were all edited to change the outfit from red to black.
Pet the Dog: Black Mage's letter to White Mage in which he apologizes for being a Jerkass and tries to comfort her after Black Belt's death definitely qualifies as one of these moments. Obviously, that only proves that one can pet the dog once or a few times and still be irredeemably evil.
Powered by a Forsaken Child: Black Mage sacrificed nine orphans to get the Hadoken. And that's not counting the orphans he sacrificed for fun.
Power Copying: Black Mage becomes a blue mage, gaining the ability to use the powers of those that attack him. Unfortunately, the only spells he actually learned this way were: 1) a spell to make the target puke his guts out (except the target is hard-wired to Black Mage); 2) a spell to let Sarda rewrite reality; and 3) a "spell" that allows him to kick people in the nuts.
The Power of Love: Subverted, as Black Mage's most destructive attack is powered by draining love from the universe.
Recoil Boost: Black Mage uses his Hadoken to propel the party's ship.
Recurring Extra: Onion Kid, the little kid whose new family is constantly killed. Except he's far more than that.
A better example would be the Real Light Warriors, a party who is supposed to be the actual destined Light Warriors but Missed the Call due to the main characters having taken the position while they were busy Level Grinding. Every so often we see them just a few steps behind the protagonists or having their lives made miserable due to their actions.
Retcon: No, Thief's ninja outfit has always been black. Why would it be red? He's always imagined himself as classing into a black-clad ninja, not a red one. What do you mean "It was red when he first appeared in it"? Bah. You're as crazy and confused as Black Mage.
Rule of Three: Onrac is destroyed by the actions of Sarda in response to Black Mage three times. Lampshaded with a sign outside the town saying "Where lightning never strikes thrice". Guess what happens.
Sarcasm Failure: Black Mage, usually when talking to Red Mage or Fighter for any length of time.
Schedule Slip: Used to update every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday at 12:00 am without fail, but during the last few months of its run it updated those afternoons instead, or sometimes just skipped updates entirely.
The epilogue took several weeks, due to its length and radically different art style.
Self-Deprecation: Strip 1,000 was called "I canít believe someone was asshole enough to make 1,000 sprite comics." Strip 1,001 was called "I canít believe someone was asshole enough to make more than 1,000 sprite comics."
Black Mage is an odd case. He admits straight out back in the beginning that he knows he's "vile" and evil. He's rather proud of it, in fact. He even knows that his one-liners are horrible and that he annoys White Mage into almost Unstoppable Rage. What's strange is that he thinks thatis charismatic and appealing to women. So, this trope still applies as he thinks that he is the ultimate ladies' man. His idea of what that is is just really very...er... distorted.
King Steve probably has an over-inflated image of himself as well. Seriously, if he thinks of himself that way...
Spanner in the Works: Many examples, but the biggest one is Sarda, to himself. Sometime in the present, he teleports White Mage into a "pocket dimension" because she was annoying him. It turns out this "pocket dimesion" is actually the beginning of the universe... and a younger version of himself arrives there a few seconds too late to mold the universe to his will.
He also probably didn't expect Black Mage's evil to cause him to suffer a Phlebotinum Overload — or that said overload would allow Chaos to possess his body. Not even gaining godlike power can prevent Black Mage from ruining Sarda's life.
Although, BM has shown surprising ability to take beatings for a supposed Squishy Wizard. Not to mention he is apparently strong enough to kill a bunch of sea monsters using only his dagger.
Stable Time Loop: Sarda is tortured by Black Mage as Onion Kid, is taken in by his older self, watches said older self try to get revenge on the Light Warriors, grows up to become a powerful mage, goes back in time to the origin of the universe, goes insane taking The Slow Path back to the present, decides to take revenge on the Light Warriors, repeat.
And along the way, he sends White Mage to the beginning of time to keep her out of the way, where she creates the universe. Wrap your head around that predestination paradox.
A smaller example: when they are at some weird space-time singularity, Thief has an idea to use the hundreds of instances of the Light Warriors to form an army. When Red Mage asks him how he got the idea, Thief says that he saw the future Red Mage doing it. Red Mage comments on the fact that he wouldn't have done it if Thief hadn't told him, and that Thief wouldn't have told him if he hadn't seen him doing it.
A smaller-scale example: Sarda in the past got the idea to grow a mustache from White Mage, who got the idea from seeing Sarda with his mustache in the present day. So who came up with the idea in the first place?
The Starscream: Black Mage repeatedly betrays the Light Warriors, and has tried to gain control of the group at least twice. Drizz'l, meanwhile, usurped Garland for all of a day before getting kicked out of the Dark Warriors.
Despite being the leader, Thief gives Black Mage a run for his money.
Surrounded by Idiots: Black Mage's temper and remaining sanity are continuously frayed by the rampant illogical insanity, stupidity and lack of all reason that tends to crop up in Red Mage's and Figther's vicinity (which isn't exactly conducive to the good health of the group). Thief also makes the same claim, but he gets far too much enjoyment out of screwing everyone out of everything they currently or will own, to be more than occasionally annoyed by the irrationality.
Black Mage: I shall die as I lived. Completely surrounded by morons.
Fighter: You told me Red Mage was dead. Black Mage: Oh, we've all been dead. His return is no surprise, really. Fighter: But you said he'd turn into the walking dead any minute and we had to make haste so he couldn't feast upon our delicious living flesh. Black Mage: Look, I say a lot of things. Now, we can stand here and argue about who fed who obvious, completely incongruous, fabrications and lies. But are you prepared to risk the unrelenting hunger of the undead? Fighter: All the senseless talking about a subject no one can remember, much less, uh, remember is getting us nowhere and zombies are hot on our heels. We must move forward and onward!
Black Mage also has a rather introspective one while he is the only one still stuck inside the web of a giant spider
Black Mage: They're the dumb ones, why am I still stuck here? I'm the smart, sassy one. My condescending demeanor certainly has nothing to do with a barely hidden anxiety about my actual worth as a person, a mage, or a member of this team. Stupid Fighter and stupid Red Mage and stupid Thief, makin' me introspective. I suppose it'll give me even more emotional turmoil to squeeze into a ball of seething rage focused at the center of my being.
Red Mage: Any fate that we can walk into because we're not dead is a better one than we had ten minutes ago. (a pulse of energy erupts from Sarda making the ground shake) Black Mage: Unrelated: Anyone else hear that?
Token Good Teammate: Black Mage and Thief are a omnicidal maniac and a kleptomaniac, respectively. Red Mage is a fairly amoral Munchkin, though he did redeem himself a bit when he saved White Mage's life at (what would probably have been) the cost of his own. Fighter, although not too bright, is the only one who consistently displays a moral compass.
Too Dumb to Fool: Fighter in this strip. When Black Mage uses his Hypnovision on Fighter, he claims that it wouldn't work because he's "not smart enough to be affected".
Too Dumb to Live: Red Mage is the last of the Red Magi because they had a tendency to hold elaborate sacred meetings when other mages were out reproducing, combined with a nasty track record of killing each other/themselves in order to more accurately calculate the effects of spells and weapons on people.
TiamatMuffin: Oh, I see. You stupided yourselves into extinction.
Completely inverted with Fighter. He's too dumb to die.
Fighter is so consistently unaware of Black Mage's hate for him that it actually becomes a jaw-dropping plot point when Thief and Red Mage finally decide to kill Black Mage (for good reason), and Fighter stops them with:
...friends look out for one another and we're friends, but Black Mage is my best friend. Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds. Hint.
Black Mage and Thief are another good example. Though the two often claim to hate one another (and have each proven it more than once), they also respect each other's evil ways, and have on occasion shown some great synergy. To wit, just check pretty much the entirety of the Dwarfland arc.
Web Animation: The official (Brian-approved) flash version by TLF. Discontinued, though the animators say anyone else is free to continue on from there.
There's also a motion comic series on youtube, 8-Bit Theater Chaos, which is currently sitting happy at 52 episodes and six seasons, with consistent improvement as it goes on.
Webcomic Of The Game: Follows the plot of Final Fantasy I... kinda. The comic's contents often venture far outside the realm of the game, making this more of a "very loosely-inspired by" series rather than a faithful adaption.
BM: Why do we listen to Dork Mage? What has he ever done for us that worked? Fighter: He makes a killer salad. Thief: He's a wiz at laundry too. Look how clean my little ninja booties are. BM: Yes, okay, fine. But salads and footwear do not decisive tactical thinking make. What's he ever done for us that was of any actual value? RM: My stratagems defeated all three fiends thus far faced, and I'm the one who discovered how our class changes work. Beat Panel BM: Today. What has he done for us today!
"Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Used as the last strip for the series. The strip picks up three years after the previous strip with White Mage tracking down the Light Warriors to give them some credit for all they did, Red Mage and Dragoon starting up a support group for sole survivors of mysterious sects, Thief becoming the king of Elfland through unknown means, and Black Mage and Fighter having disappeared, with no one knowing where they are (ironiclly we find out in the last scene that they're right where they were at the start of the comic).
It's also a very loving recreation of Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come, right down to the interesting names for the dishes at the restaurant.
Red Mage: We're going about this whole Chaos thing the wrong way. Black Mage: Why break with tradition now? Red Mage: No, no. Seriously. We can't out-fight him, we can't out-cast him, and we can't out-think him. But we can out-stupid him. Fighter: How? (the others turn and look at him)
You Will Be Spared: Upon being hit with the only successful (if ineffectual) attack on his person to date, Sarda says this to the perpetrator: "You're a quick thinker and spiteful. I can respect that. You won't be killed, Bikke."