Questionable Content ("QC") is a webcomic starring protagonist Marten Reed, an indie-rock fan living in Northampton, Massachusetts, with an adorably sociopathiclittle robot. He runs into a girl at a bar, Faye Whitaker, a barista who's just moved from Savannah and needs a friend, but adamantly no more than a friend. She then accidentally burns down her apartment building while making toast and needs a place to live — namely, Marten's couch. Before long, he meets Faye's sultry, gothy boss Dora Bianchi, and they have fun, hang out, and joke around.Then, beginning at strip 500, everything changes. The fallout of a tense moment leads to a cascade of plot developments that defines the rest of the strip and helps start a gradual shift from having Marten and Faye as the main protagonists to having a full-fledged Ensemble Cast. And then just when you thought everything was safe, there's another major shakeup at strip 1800, after which the comic's science fiction elements, which had always been present, really begin to move to the foreground.One of the most prolific and longest running webcomics out there, with over 2000 instalments over 10 years and counting, QC has evolved into a humorous ongoing chronicle of the lives of a group of twenty-somethings, as they deal with life, fall in and out of love, and maintain a healthy level of sarcasm. It would almost be a Slice of Life comic if the cast didn't include a handful of cute lil' robot sidekicks.QC updates every weekday, with remarkable consistency considering that Jacques very rarely has a buffer and usually draws the comic — on live webcast — that night. Also has a character sheet.Three print collections are currently out, featuring re-lettered and sometimes re-drawn versions of the first arcs.It's also connected (loosely) to the Walkyverse, by way of Faye's sister Amanda's brief fling with Li'l Sis and a couple of maybe-canonnote Jeph Jacques refused to say whether they were canon or not, explicitly messing with readers. guest strips by Randy Milholland. Shelly Winters and Amy Chilton have been spotted on holiday in Northampton as well. Also, the AIs may have something to do with it, somewhere.
Faye, who acknowledges that she used to be "a bitch with issues" but is now just "a bitch" used and sometimes still uses Marten as a punching bag for no reason. It's sort of lampshaded (the trope in general, not Faye's treatment of him specifically) by Marten. And Faye beats up on everybody, regardless of gender, but when she goes too far she's always put in her place, and she goes to therapy and actively tries to be a less crappy person despite her issues. Marten takes a lot, but he won't let her seriously hurt him, and he often hits back with his own brand of snarking. She is also verbally abusive to the coffee shop customers, but this actually gets good reviews and hipsters coming in for a daily dose of snark.
The VespAvenger hunts abusive boyfriends, but the main cast doesn't think it's acceptable. They lampshade it by suggesting that a guy on a Harley who beats up abusive girlfriends would be unacceptable, but VespAvenger states she would hook up with such a character.
An attendant trope in play is Abuse Is Okay When It's Human On Robot. Entirely apart from Pintsize getting his head caved in, or being embedded in the wall (which is usually deserved), many of the main characters refuse to respect Momo's boundaries, e.g., Faye lifting Momo's skirt to check out her crotch ("Just curious!"), or Emily repeatedly poking her in the navel after it's revealed that this changes her hair and eye color, despite Momo repeatedly telling her to stop.
Word Of God says that one of the biggest influences on QC is Azumanga Daioh. It's not hard to see some of the parallels. He also reads a lot of Yotsuba&! which is by the same author - Marigold even has a poster of her in her bedroom.
Anything That Moves / Depraved Bisexual: Pintsize zig-zags both of these repeatedly. He flirts with/harasses women throughout the comic, steals Faye's underwear, and compliments random women on their breasts, but he has had at least one relationship with another male. Since it was a male robot, it might not count, though. Possibly subverted in that he seemed to actually care about him.
Marten and Dora take a long lunch, and return with Marten wearing some of Dora's clothes. Everyone assumes that they had done something naughty, but Marten claimed that they had been ambushed by Shaolin Monks and spilled spaghetti sauce on his clothes and needed to change at Dora's. Everyone laughs it off, but a strip later he is proven correct when a battered monk arrives at the coffee shop and recognizes Marten.
Also occurs in the explanation for Steve's infrequent appearances for a long stretch of the comic. The two possible explanations were "he got drunk and dicked around for a while" or "he became a secret agent and blew up an island," and it was implied that not even he knew for sure which was true. Until later, when he ran across The Baroness from his story.
Clinton: JUST YOUR DAD? He helped develop the first true AI! He invented the quasiperpetual myomer! He's the Henry Ford of intelligent machine design! He pioneered sustainable AI-controlled orbital habitats! He designed the microsatellites that keep earth's albedo stable! HE INVENTED THE ROBOT HAMSTER!
Art Evolution: The art style has and continues to evolve, and comparing the newest strip with the first one shows how striking the development has been.
Jeph has redrawn (in his new style) a number of early strips for his books, as he'd lost the original high-resolution art. The result is... striking.
Artificial Limbs: Clinton got his robotic hand after a childhood accident involving fireworks.
Artist Disillusionment: Jeph generally likes his fans, but he hates his discussion forum due to its tendencies towards Serious Business and Shipping. At one point it got so bad that he openly threatened to delete the whole forum should people keep posting that kind of stuff. He has considerably softened up since then.
Ascended Extra: Angus. He appeared multiple times as a joke character, then popped into focus after Faye dropped Sven. Now he appears regularly, and has important relationships with other characters, particularly Faye.
Asexuality: Hannerlore is romantic, but has no interest in actually having sex. In fact she's repulsed and terrified of it due to her extreme OCD and germophobia. She is interested in some kinks though...
Short-haired girls. Jeph had to promise when Penelope was introduced not to "cut all her hair off" in an art-style change like he did most of the others (Hannelore once lost nearly all of her hair in mid-conversation with Marten & Steve as Jacques changed his mind on how it should look).
You could count "girls with issues" into the Appeal-factor as well, considering how nearly the entire cast features them. The men are generally more weird and dumb/confused than neurotic.
In interviews, Jeph has attributed to the high proportion of female characters in the cast to his finding female forms more interesting to draw, in contrast to male forms which are more flat and, in his opinion, boring.
Dora. She was "outed" as bisexual in the comic (to readers, not to the cast) when she told her then-boyfriend Marten that she realized her sexual attraction to girls after seeing pictures of a female fetish model - Marten's mother. No one bats an eye at her considering a relationship with Tai.
Breakout Character: Hannelore won a character poll by a landslide naming her as the most popular character, shocking the author. Quite a ways for what was a supporting one-note character added to an already sizeable cast.
Broken Aesop: In-universe. After hearing about the childhood accident that gave Clinton his robotic hand and that he actually prefers it, the others reflect the moral this teaches kids is that "messing around with fireworks gives you cool robotic limbs!"
Marten and Dora have at least twice come up with ridiculous stories as to why they were running late, one involving a bunch of Kung-fu monks, another a Deathbot 9000 that Pintsize had insulted on the internet. Marten individually seems to have a knack for winding up in situations like this.
Marigold blurts out what she doing after realizing lying about being in the bathroom instead for that six hours is an Embarrassing Cover Up. Marten and Hannelore don't believe it (would you believe she was eating cookies and watching anime with the head of security instead?), and assume she's having digestive problems.
Catch Phrase: The phrase "Hurr hurr hurr!", meant to sarcastically imitate laughter from stupid or inane people, has been uttered by nearly all of the main cast at some point. Jacques clearly does it himself, judging by newsposts.
Cerebus Syndrome: The strip started as a boy and his robot, but in no time moved to sarcasm and joking about music and music fans, while developing the relationships between the characters before taking a turn for the dramatic about #500, while retaining the joke-a-day format. Jeph lampshades this in the commentary/news for strip #1481.
Children Are a Waste: This is what many characters seem to agree on implicitly. In several cases justified since they came from families where something went wrong. However, apparently not even Marten Reed seems to think that the world needs another Marten Reed. Jeph has expressed the same opinion in the footnotes that accompanied one comic where this was expressed, so it's apparently an opinion he shares. Later on averted where Faye says she might consider having kids later in her life, indicating her view on the subject may have evolved.
Sara. Created without any real character, she just vanished after Dora appeared. It became a long-running gag that she was "eaten by an Allosaurus", but no characters would ever mention her after the first 100 strips except in one or two Mythology Gags: in 149 Dora mentions leaving Sara in charge of the coffee shop, and her absence is lampshaded. Also counts as a case of What Happened to the Mouse?.
Steve lampshades one of his first disappearances when he returns in the guest comic, coming gasping out of the hall closet. When Marten asks what he is doing there he says:
Steve:What am I doing here?!? I have been locked in the hall closet for months! Didn't you people notice I was missing?!? Why didn't anyone come looking for me?!?
Steve: Lemme get this straight - you EXPLAINED to her that this whole Elliot drama bomb was basically your fault. Marten: Yeah. Steve: And that turned into a depressing conversation about how much she misses her poor, sick grandmother. Marten: Uh huh. Steve: But then that somehow inspired her to ask you to go dancing. Marten: *sigh* Yeah... Steve: And for SOME GODDAMN REASON, you're SAD ABOUT THIS. Marten: I don't know how to dance!
Therapist: Have you tried, ah, self-stimulation? Faye: Oh yeah. I also drink seltzer when I want soda, eat rice crackers when I want chocolate, and listen to bluegrass when I want death metal. I am getting a freaking Popeye forearm. My right hand filed a RESTRAINING ORDER.I AM JUST A TINY BIT BORED WITH IT.
Luna: I saw... I saw a tunnel of light, with my granddad waiting at the end, waving to me... Marten: Jesus, I thought she was going to go all Temple of Doom on you and pull your heart out through your chest!
The Singularity happened (offscreen) in the comic, creating a supersentient AI. The other AIs are pissed that they're not part of it, the humans are a little freaked out but getting over it, and the AI itself just wants to talk to people. It tried talking to dolphins, but apparently they're really creepy once you can understand them.
The coffee shop at the center of the series is called Coffee Of Doom. The sign on its bathroom door says "Restroom of Doom!", exclamation theirs, though they once lovingly referred to it as "The Cave Of 40 Asses".
Dream Sequence: Here, here, and here. To quote Deathmøle Jacques, "I could do one of these dream-comics for every single character and I STILL wouldn't be tired of the conceit. I am so weird."
Drink Order: As with real-life indie coffeehouses, Coffee of Doom customers are advised not to use Starbucks' faux-Italian size names, at penalty of markup. Over-flavored or overly-pretentious drinks are likewise bad ideas. Though if you're hazing a newbie, anything goes.
Drop-In Character: Hannelore lives in the apartment above Marten and Faye and is a frequent visitor, not just there but eventually to the homes of other characters as well. Inverted here where Hanners comes home and unexpectedly finds visitors.
Drowning My Sorrows: Happens quite often, what with all the issues and drama the characters suffer.
In-universe, Faye calls this on suicide jokes. In response, Angus calls it on jokes about Marigold.
Which she inevitably breaks less than two months' worth of updates later. As the linked comic demonstrates, her casually insulting sarcasm doesn't really have an off switch (aside from having her mouth duct taped shut).
All of the other characters have more-or-less normal backgrounds, as far we've been told thus far. Yes, this is counting Marten's mother's job, as that doesn't seem to have caused Marten any trauma other than the occasional bit of needing Brain Bleach. It does seem to have given him a rather less-than-normal outlook on certain things, however.
Pintsize at one point claims his destructive, belligerent and annoying behavior comes from his American locale settings. He does become very civil and even kind when switched to British English language settings. The characters speculate as to how much of that is real personality change and how much is Pintsize being Pintsize.
Frequently invoked by the characters, with more than a bit of Western-Massachusetts "alternative" condescension.
Dora Bianchi is an excellent example, albeit one in a committed, monogamous relationship until it ended. Still, this characteristic reveals itself by her willingness to address and discuss sexual concerns. Interestingly enough, her being an Ethical Slut doesn't stop her from having relationship issues, for example an almost pathological jealousy and suspicion of any woman who may appear to be trying to steal her man, the uber-example perhaps threatening Cosette with a broadsword for innocently revealing that she had a crush on Marten.
Expy: Jeph has mentioned that he designed Marigold to be essentially "an Anglicized version of Konata from Lucky Star."
Eyes Always Shut: Dave, a supporting character who had a brief stint as Meena's ex-boyfriend.
Face Fault: Momo, whose design is based on a generic "moe" anime character, is designed to replicate these; the classic "sweat drop" is achieved by emitting a viscous fluid from underneath the hair, and it's apparently a bitch and a half to clean out.
Hannelore is considered to be the strongest case of this since it's combined with Characterization Marches On - the circumstances under which she was introduced would be out of character for her now. It's referenced later on when Dora asks Hanners, "If you have OCD, how come you have, like, ten earrings and you smoke?". Hannelore handwaves an answer by saying, "Well, a girl has to have some glaring inconsistencies in her life", but later says that she was on very powerful meds at that time, and can just about acknowledge that it happened on her current prescriptions. The piercings are better-explained here.
Pintsize wasn't always /b/ personified. He used to just be kinda silly. This may be explained by the beginning of the comic, when Marten comments on that Pintsize finally has wifi and can browse the internet as he pleases... presumably leading to the discovery of 4chan and all of its horrors, leading to how he is today.
Faye herself points out that she used to be a "bitch with issues", but now that she's in counseling and getting to the root of her issues, she's "just a bitch".
Note the record that Faye is checking out in this strip. It foreshadows into this strip, which foreshadows this strip. Which Toto song a character likes most, or indeed, whether a character likes Toto at all, seems to indicate compatibility. Thus, Angus and Faye work very well together thus far, while Marten and Dora have broken up.
Frequently, the specials in the coffee shop act as one. Either they read like something out of a Lethal Chef's cookbook ("ghost pepper mocha, buffalo scones, really shitty granola", for example) or they contain items that aren't even food.
Similarly, the menu in the sandwich place where Steve and Meena meet is an interesting read: The "Berlin" sandwich is made with ham, bacon, pork and techno, for example.
Gargle Blaster: The vintage whiskey they bought once. Delicious as it was, it glowed and came with a health warning. A guest strip is also centered around one.
Generic Cuteness: Most of the cast is quite young: early to mid-20s., and the parental characters are somewhat unconvincing. For instance, Marten's mom has facial characteristics similar to the core cast, but with a single wrinkle and an older-woman's hairstyle. Dora's father only manages to look his age because he's portly and bald. Faye's mom looks like Faye with gray hair. Lampshaded when Dora meets Marten's dad, who looks just like Marten with gray hair and tiny lines under his eyes for wrinkles.
Beat Panel looking at Marten's dad Beat Panel looking at Marten Dora:OH MY GOD YOU ARE GONNA BE SO HOT WHEN YOU GO GRAY Henry: Hear that, Maurice? I'm still hot. Maurice: Smoking, darling.
When Claire is introduced to Henry, she also finds him very handsome.
Grapes of Luxury: Dora considers amending her employees' contracts with this proviso.
Green-Eyed Monster: Dora admits that she's been very jealous of Sven for a long time because of how everything seems to come so easy to him with minimal effort, which factors into her emotional insecurities.
Grievous Harm with a Body: When Clinton's arm prosthetic arm detached and stuck itself onto Faye's chest, Faye was understandably upset.
Marten:I can't believe you smacked him with his own hand.
Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Partial deconstruction. Faye adopts many of the traits involved (funny accent—her original Southern one, a more comical, boisterous attitude, etc.), but then comes deconstruction—others become concerned for her alcoholism, and parts of her personality are much more reserved. The rest of the cast are better matches—being college-town musicians and young adults in general, they partake in the booze with great regularity. It's pretty much their token "This is how we introduce people to the group" scene now.
Hollywood Pudgy: Jacques has a tendency to draw all his "overweight" characters as merely Hollywood Pudgy.
Faye is arguably an aversion — she's regarded as a very attractive woman in-universe, but is a bit self-conscious about her weight (her rear end is quite large, but this is seen as a plus by many). Many real people have the same hang-ups, so it's a kind of deconstruction of the trope. Oddly enough, Jacques drew Faye with the same build as Dora early in the comic's run, though this has gradually changed due to Art Evolution.
Marigold considers herself fat as well (despite being thinner than Faye — she has really low self-esteem), so it counts in her own mind.
Dora: It's not like Wil's some Jesus-freak. Can't you just agree to disagree? Penelope: I shouldn't have to! I'm right! Dora: No offense Penelope, but that sounds like the kind of argument your parentswould use. Penelope: Yes... but see, they'rewrong. Dora:I think you're missing the point.
Faye is supposed to have always been quite curvy and big-bottomed. The first hundred or so strips utterly failed to show this, with no discernible difference between her and Dora (though this might just be a case of Early-Installment Weirdness). Currently she actually fits: made more notable by the fact that the rest of the main cast are built like bulimics (or at least your average indie concert-goer), with the exception of Marigold.
After Marten is invited to dinner by Dora's parents, Dora remarks that, among other disasters on previous dates, one of her boyfriends was distracted by her mother's particularly substantial endowment — "Imagine my head on Heidi Klum's body", she tells Marten. When pressed for details after the meeting, Marten awkwardly confirms to Faye that Mrs. Bianchi's bust is rather generously proportioned. And yet when we actually see her during the date, her chest is at best only slightly larger than Dora's, and in some panels the difference is almost imperceptible.
Also, for as notorious as Pintsize is about wreaking havoc, he almost never seems to do anything more than be a nuisance while on-screen. But then...
Tai: Emily! You'd sleep with Marten, right? Marten: H-hey! Emily:You mean like a slumber party? Tai: No, I— Marten:CAMPING. She means camping. Emily: If you can pitch a tent, then sure! Claire:[stifling laughter]PFFFFFFFFFF
Innocent Swearing: In this strip, after Pintsize tells Hannelore that robot swear words come from mashing on the keyboard, she asks him and Winslow what "qwerty" means. They're shocked.
I Will Show You X: When Angus compliments his shy, socially awkward roommate Marigold on her haircut, then slips in an affectionate insult:
Angus: So does that mean you're gonna wash it more than twice a year now? Marigold: (not amused) I'll—I'll wash you more than twice a year! B-because you're a stupid jerk! Who smells! Angus: O venom-tongued maiden! Stay your barbs, I beseech you!
Loads and Loads of Characters: A strange example, as it started out as very self-contained with four main characters. Since then, Jeph has had at least twenty be in focus at some point, and several major characters have been Put on a Bus.
The 19th century dress bar seems to be becoming this at night.
Long Runner: Started in 2003, and went to 5 comics a week a year or so later.
Loose Canon: The filler comics, which have their own characters and could be said to exist in a world outside of the main comic, seeing as they have Medium Awareness. Although Sweet-Tits did make a cameo once.
Lysistrata Gambit: Natasha threatens to withhold sex from Amir for a month if he doesn't agree to name the band Deathmøle.
The Merch: Characters will sport a new funny slogan or t-shirt in a few strips, then Jeph will talk about it in his Info post, then it will show up in the Merchandise section. Doing a massive Archive Crawl, you could see this six or seven times in a short span. It ain't called the "Questionable T-Shirt Factory" for nothing.
Monochrome Casting: The vast majority of the cast is white, with Tai being the lone exception that's still around (Amir and Padma were Put on a Bus). It remains to be seen if Emily (the Asian intern at the library) and Gabby (the black intern) will be long-term fixtures or not.
Mood Whiplash: Frequent. This comic has a habit of throwing in a punchline even into the most dramatic of moments (although there are exceptions).
Strip 2146. As Jeph states, Lt. Potter you are out of control.
Most Fanfic Writers Are Girls: Two female fanfic writers, Tai and Marigold; Tai's stuff is apparently good (she writes a raved-about Harry Potter piece), Marigold's, not so much. After a near miss where lesbian Tai hits on straight Marigold, the latter seeks to make up for the awkwardness by posting a story to Tai wherein Hermione and Ginny "go all the way."
Mr. Exposition: Momo fills this role in regards to the history of AIs in the QC universe. Jeph clearly has some pretty clear ideas about the universe, and Momo is often used to share them with the audience.
Mundane Utility: One of two possible explanations for caped superheroes who deliver food. A third explanation, speculated about in-universe, is that they are special superheroes whose specific power is delivering food.
Mushroom Samba: "When you say big words, smoke comes out of your nostrils."
Nobody over 50 Is Gay: Averted. Marten's dad, Henry is happily engaged to a guy named Maurice. Also, seeing as he got married and had a son before coming out, he must have figured out his sexuality pretty late in life.
Hannelore's introduction was when Marten drunkenly mistook the women's restroom at the local bar for the men's, leading him to do his business in a sink and note that he thought the urinal was rather odd-looking when Hanners mentioned it.
*Dora and Faye are both dressed in black outfits and wearing corpse paint* Dora: ALL HAIL OUR DARK LORD AND MASTER! Faye: DRIPPING FLESHY BLOODGORE FESTERS IN YOUR GAPING WOUNDS! DEMONS N' STUFF! GRAAAAR!
Obfuscating Stupidity: Many fans suspect ditzy Raven is doing just this, especially since she returned to school to get a degree in Physics.
When Marigold is introduced, her first words are "Damnit Angus, I told you I have a raid!". Sure enough, it is later revealed that recurring character Angus is her roommate. Dora even says "I thought she said your name earlier!" as if there was only one person named Angus in the world.
And, of course, literally, since there's only one Steve in the cast.
Averted with Claire. Back in her goth days, Dora knew a Claire who would check Cosette for curses since every place she worked before Coffee of Doom either went out of business or was about to, mostly due to illegal actions on the owners' parts.
Steve; once a major character, he'd all but disappeared for a year, leading many readers to e-mail Jacques asking about his whereabouts, leading in turn to a Lampshade Hanging strip and a request from the cartoonist to stop asking. The worry was he'd been Put on a Bus. It wasn't the first time, either; early in the strip he disappeared for nearly a hundred pages. Then again, it is Webcomic Time... He returned a few months after a Lampshade Hanging, having had some rather interesting adventures while he was gone.
He then slipped into the background again, only to return in another strip, titled "You Needed To Know".
The above-mentioned Angus McPhee also qualifies, though this is arguably justified by Faye's and Sven's frenemies-with-benefits relationship. He then started appearing as a semi-regular again, and has finally become a regular character, while Sven has slipped into the background somewhat.
Raven has fallen into this as well, as she has not appeared for a long time (between strip 1510 and 1939).
Deathmøle, which finally returned in strip 1985.
Paid-For Family: Referenced - Hanners once admits that she's secretly worried that the rest of the cast are just skilled actors paid by her (ludicrously wealthy) parents to give her the illusion of a normal life. Faye's response: "Well, if we WERE, we wouldn't be allowed to admit it, so there's not much point in worrying about it, is there?".
Parody Sue: Dave, the ex-boyfriend of one of Steve's girlfriends, is ridiculously perfect, from studying to be a doctor to "help the children" to avoiding telling his girlfriend he was going to church because he didn't want to force his spiritual beliefs onto her. He's also a major milquetoast; that plus feeling inadequate in comparison to him is why Mina broke up with him.
Steve: Next you'll be telling me he donates all his money to charities and spends twenty hours a week feeding the homeless. Mina: Only fifteen. He's gotta sleep some time.
Perky Goth: Formerly Dora, although Dora and Raven each abandoned the goth look a long time ago now.
Dora: (listening to music) Why do I suddenly want to dance around giggling like an idiot while a smiling man in a white suit throws confetti at me? Faye: That feeling is what we non-goths call "happiness". This record is its most condensed form. It is like a crack-rock of pure joy!
Pet Homosexual: Scott, Tai, and probably any future bosses Marten will have.
The Pig Pen: Nat rarely showers; her body odor is frequently commented on.
Put on a Bus: According to Word Of God, the following characters have been permanently written out of the strip: "Sarah, Ellen, Nat, any chance at happiness for Marten." There are other cases where this is averted, as some characters will disappear for extended periods of time only to reappear hundreds of strips later.
Rapid-Fire Comedy: Sometimes. It's supposed to be a gag-per-day format, aside from strips about relationships and angst. Most jokes are supported by snide comments from somebody else present in the same panel. If the strip features no beat panels and buildups, it can make each panel like that.
Reality Ensues: The Marten/Dora breakup is a well-written reflection on how real relationships can go south. Bonus points for using personality traits and behaviors they exhibited previously (in humorous context at the time) outside of their relationship.
Reality Is Unrealistic: Occasionally complaints crop up about the Improbably Female Cast, but it turns out that Northampton really is roughly 60% female and 40% male, largely due to the presence of the all-girls' Smith College. (Represented as "Smif College" in the QC universe.)
Real Life Writes the Plot: A week of unplanned guest comics ran in late October and early November 2011 due to an extended power outage caused by the late-October snowstorms' damage to what were already temporary post-Hurricane Irene repairs to the Western Mass power grid.
Robot Sex Is Depraved: When Marten jokes that he imagines this is how AI was invented, Hanners says she once asked her father (who invented the technology), but he panicked and avoided answering the question.
Robot War: Put on indefinite hold, mostly because the robots realized that if they won they'd be in charge, and who wants that responsibility?
Rule of Funny: Most of the crazy stuff that happens, but Hannelore's obsessive-compulsive disorder deserves special mention since, as an OCD sufferer himself, Jacques can hardly be said to have not done the research.
Most vehemently, Marigold/Hannelore, complete with Lampshade Hanging (and Take That) here and more Heavy-Handedhere. Jeph strongly dislikes how "Shippers" invade his forums and try to randomly place homosexuality upon his straight characters.
Faye/Marten. Although put on hold before The Talk and his relationship with Dora, it was specifically sunk here, two strips later, and thesetwo.
Ever since Claire admitted to Marten that she's transgender, they've both been getting a lot of scenes together. It gets particularly blatant when Marten goes to his father's wedding and brings her along as his guest.
Shown Their Work: Fans from the Northampton area are continually impressed by the backgrounds of the city, since anyone familiar with the real Northampton can recognize the slightly-changed version of real places.
Show Within a Show: The manga/anime Magical Love Gentleman; Marigold is a serious fan, and introduced Hannelore and Angus to it.
Slut Shaming: Inverted when Faye sleeps with Sven. She freaks out and calls herself a slut while her therapist reassures her that sex doesn't have to be bad and a casual relationship could be just what she needs.
Spock Speak: Faye did this in the early strips, partly to disguise her Southern accent and partly as a defense mechanism. It went away when she was drunk, and has been phased out completely as she's gotten a better grip on her issues.
Strictly Formula: Mostly averted, though because of its day-to-day life storytelling qualities, the same situations pop up with great frequency. One of the most common plot threads in the series was Dora freaking out on Marten over something, Marten reacting negatively, the two talking to other people about their argument, then both apologizing and making up (this has happened about five times in major arcs thus far). Steve has gone through a few "has awkward hook-up with new girl, they awkwardly go through the first stages of a relationship, then they break up" storylines so far. This is largely justified considering it's mostly Slice of Life, and real couples do do this sort of thing all the time.
The Unfair Sex: Faye used Sven to fulfil her sexual needs, resists all his attempts to develop an emotional component to their relationship, but still demands that he be faithful to her. When he is not, she flips out on him, and her friends are completely sympathetic to her. If the sexes had been reversed, Faye would have been seen as wrong from the start. (Dora's upset by it... but only because she has baggage with Sven, not because Faye is using him.)
Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Early on Pintsize went on a date with another AnthroPC over the internet that he thought was a "girl", but turned out to be a "guy" when they chatted the day after they had the robot equivalent of sex. Though he wasn't bothered about doing it with an anthropc set to male, just surprised because he was pink.
Webcomic Time: Some stretches of years can be nailed down to a few days thanks to a particularly long stretch of 'later that day' or 'the next morning'-type events; problematized further by up-to-the-minute music references. When creator Jeph Jacques was asked about this on the comic's forum, he replied "You know how glass isn't actually a solid, but an extremely viscous liquid?note For more information, see The Other Wiki Yeah."
Momo: You were frightened of Gordon! That would have completely thrown off your biometrics, leading to a completely inaccurate compatibility rating with Pintsize! Marten: You mean... Momo: You should not have been assigned Pintsize as your companion. [beat] Marten: Well, it worked out all right in the end, so— Pintsize: YOU MEAN I COULDA BEEN WITH A HOT CHICK THIS WHOLE TIME?!
What Could Have Been: After Momo tells Marten that Pintsize should not have been assigned to him, Marten wonders what robot he would have been paired with instead. Cue a panel of Marten riding a robot whale in the ocean.
Despite the evolving status of AIs within the strip, human-looking robots and non-human ones are still treated differently. Momo (post-chassis-upgrade) has a job, is often out in public, and was invited on the lake cabin trip around strip 2292. Pintsize and Winslow have no jobs, stay in the house most days, and were apparently not invited.
Faye occasionally getting called on what a bitch she's being or some action of hers is probably all that's keeping her from sliding down the slippery slope towards being a complete Jerk Sue. Of course, since a Milholland Relationship Moment almost always turns her into a Karma Houdini, just how much she avoids it may be a matter of opinion.
Dora: Yes, I realize that projecting my internal dialogue onto my cat is probably not the healthiest way of dealing with stressful situations. Mieville: Meow. Dora: No, murder is not the answer. You always suggest that.