Bino is the official mascot of Housepets! Not Fido. Bino.
"Any problem can be solved with the correct application of pressure to a stupid person's face."
— Grape Jelly Sandwich, Housepets
We all love our pets, don't we? Now imagine this: your pets are sapient, anthropomorphised, and have the height of a small child. What would they be doing all day? Housepets
portrays such a scenario. This comic by Rick Griffin portrays pets virtually as children who are almost human besides height and differences in clothing style.
The main characters are Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly
, the beloved dog and cat of the Sandwich family. In a twist on the classic "smart cat, dumb dog" setup, Peanut and Grape are actually fairly similar in intellect with similar interests, and their subtle personality differences shine like a beacon. Peanut is the sensitive and slightly silly one. He's childlike and excitable and loves playing all kinds of games. Grape is the lazy and pragmatic one, though sometimes she is too sensible for her own good.
Initially, the story centered around the pets of Babylon Gardens and the wacky hijinks
they found themselves in, but about a year into its run, Griffin started to include more mature themes. While never falling prey to Cerebus Syndrome
, much of the comic has dealt with the implications of a world where animals and humans are similarly intelligent, including but not limited to: naming pets as heirs
, wild animals deciding to live a civilized life, Interspecies Romance
, an African micronation which humans never colonized and is run entirely by animals, and novels marketed towards animals and the associated subcultures that they give rise to.
However, life in Babylon Gardens is not exactly normal, as several members of the cast have become embroiled a great supernatural game played by a set of three demigods, the Great Kitsune
, the Astral Dragon, and Pete the Griffin
. At the center of this story is King, a human turned into a dog to serve as Pete's avatar in the game, which occasionally intersect with the pets' normal lives. After the game's introduction, it is often hard to tell which is the comic's central story.According to the author
, the comic was initially inspired by childhood drawings made by Griffin of a dog named "Bino". Bino appears as a character in the comic, as the leader of Babylon Garden's "Good Ol' Dogs Club." Portrayed as an antagonist more often than not, he is the middle brother caught between his popular older brother, police dog Officer Fido, and his quirky younger brother, Joey.Check it out here.
This comic provides examples of:
- A Form You Are Comfortable With:
- Aborted Arc:
- The author decided to prematurely end a story arc which depicted catnip use as similar to smoking marijuana because it would break the self-imposed PG rating, although catnip itself is still available as seen in later strips.
- Two other arcs were aborted by acts of god. "The Arc Specifically About Being Naked" was killed by a broken computer, and "All Hallow's Ween" was ended by a medical emergency.
- In-Universe, Peanut realizes the Guys and Dolls Imaginate Show Within a Show is running long and ends it with a cardboard sign saying "Everyone Gets Married. The End.".
- Abusive Parents: Sasha's dad is a drunk who yells at her and (locks her outside all night in the snow.)
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: Pretty much all of the cats, dogs, and rabbits wear collars as their only attire.
- All Animals Are Domesticated:
- Not exactly, as the wolves moving into the neighborhood caused quite a stir, but if they're friendly enough they seem to be able to integrate without too much trouble, and they're all sentient, so it works.
- There is also mention of a feral level of animals, most notably Joel's former pets.
- All Just a Dream: Typical ending of any of the mortals' dealings with the celestial nerds. Keene even called Pete out on it once.
Pete: Then I must ask something of you, mortal.
Keene: And that is?
Pete: Wake up. *snaps his fingers*
Keene (waking up in his bed): DON'T YOU PULL THAT IT-WAS-ALL-A-DREAM THING ON... ah crud
- Then in the end of the "Heaven's Not Enough" Great Kitsune surprises everyone by not doing that, which also leaves all the mortals involved in the middle of Australia.
- All of the Other Reindeer: Joey, most acutely. He even plays Rudolph in a Christmas pageant.
- Alternate Appearance Aura: Peanut, Grape, Max and Tarot in the Pridelands Imaginate, thanks to Tarot's powers.
- Alternate Reality Episode: THE GALLIFRAX PROTOCOL, in which Tarot, Peanut, Grape, and Max visit an alternate Earth where they resemble "normal" animals instead of their normal Funny Animal appearance.
- Alternative Number System: Spo came from a very large family. How large? The sibling born immediately after him was named Spp.
- Alt Text: Especially in the later comics.
- Amazing Technicolor Wildlife: For example, you have normally-colored Peanut alongside Grape, a purple cat.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Not quite her parent, but Bill is this to Bailey.
- Ambiguous Gender: While the Biggelsworths also have this description, Fiddler and Keys. We know one is male and one is female, but no real indication of who's who to this day.
- Ambiguously Gay: Bruce and Roosevelt, judging from this strip where they're practically cuddling on the couch while watching football.
- Amicably Divorced: Never married per se, but Sabrina used to date Maxwell, and they're still on fairly friendly terms with one another.
- Anchored Ship:
- Animal Jingoism: Not outright hatred, per se, but the Good Ol' Dogs Club only admits dogs, and then there's the interspecies romance taboo...
- Animals Not to Scale: Almost all dogs, cats, rabbits, and raccoons are the same size (about waist height on a human) while mice are about real life size, and ferrets (plus King and Tarot) are on a scale somewhere in between those, the wolves are huge and musclepacked, apparently from living in the wild, while real wolves are smaller than some dog breeds.
- Animal Stereotypes:
- Played with to a degree, but the cast act more like children then animals to the point where Rick sometimes adds in stereotypical animal behavior specificly for people who look for it.
- In the first Christmas strip, after Joey gives his girlfriend Squeak a block of cheese, she tells him straight out "the whole cheese thing's a stereotype".
- Based on his first appearance, some readers assumed that Cory was on the way of joining the long list of cartoon skunk bad guys. They ended up being right.
- Animation Bump: Most notably, the switch to color, but the drawing style has been improving overall.
- Animal Wrongs Group: PETA, during the "A Sinister Shadow" arc.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Tarot, especially early on, tends to follow dire predictions with more mundane inconveniences, like this one:
Tarot: The truth shall be brought to light, and I fear that day, for all who do not hold love in their hearts shall perish, and their souls will be broken into shards as countless as all the sand on the face of the earth. Plus it's terrible for your complexion.
- Art Evolution: Compare this comic to the next day's. A second evolution was implemented around October 2012, this one a conscious decision by the artist for a new art style.
- Artifact Title: Rick seems to be introducing more and more characters (the Milton Ferrets, the Wolf Pack, Itsuki, the Galactic Nerds, the Forest creatures, the zoo creatures, Karishad) who wouldn't exactly be considered 'house pets'.
- Aside Glance: Peanut in the fourth panel of this comic.
- Ass Kicking Pose: Employed by Miles and his pack when coming to Fido's defense near the end of the "Jungle Fever" arc.
- As You Know:
- Author Tract: In-Universe, lampshaded by Grape in "The Boring Adventures Of Spot":
Grape: Don't you think you're editorializing a bit much?
Peanut: A little, but that's why people make comics, right?
- Becoming the Mask:
- Heavily implied that this is happening with Spirit Dragon
- Even though he didn't want it at first, after falling in love and marrying Bailey, it's safe to say Joel/King has decided he wants to be a dog. At the end of the Cosmic Game, he chose to remain a dog and stay with Bailey, Fox, and all the friends he's made.
- Berserk Button:
- Parodied out of Universe. At one point, Rick left a comment stating he would "e-strangle" the next person to mention how much more buff Fido looked after a minor style revision. A few comics later Rick then commented himself how buff Fido was looking, leading readers to wonder if Rick would now e-strangle himself.
- In universe, don't tease Tiger about having the name of a big cat, wake Grape from a nap, or be a cat or cat-lover in the Good Ol' Dogs Club when Bino's around.
- For Fox, don't mention the name Joel, he's quick to get angry ever since he was kidnapped (or rather dognapped). Then there's Heaven's Not Enough...
- Big Bulky Bomb: Played with in this strip, in "The Great Water Balloon War" story arc, in the form of an absolutely huge water balloon requiring much of the contents of a pool to fill it.
- Big Red Button: Ferrets love 'em.
- Bigger on the Inside: In this strip, even Zach, who's been in the temple in the back yard of Mr. Milton before, is absolutely stunned by how huge the place looks like from the inside, far in excess of the external dimensions.
- Bilingual Bonus: The line from the Japanese comedy show in this strip is, ‘Call a doctor!’
- Black Dude Dies First: Parodied as Max, who has all-black fur, plays the first victim in the And Then There Were None Imaginate.
- Bland-Name Product:
- One of the books Peanut uses to get caught up on the Pridelands series of books is Pridelands for Imbeciles.
- Nothing goes as well with a game of Universes and Unrealities as a fresh bag of Doritas.
- Bouquet Toss: Tarot caught the floral bouquet thrown after King's wedding, with the help of Karishad.
- Brain Bleach: Evoked by King in response to Miles' Christmas party plans
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- Brick Joke: They happen from time to time.
- When Peanut is done up as the ghost of Banquo in their Macbeth imagination play, Maxwell screams like he did when he was freaked out by Sabrina and her spiritual connections.
- Most recently, the alt texts of this and this.
- The comic of 8/18/2010 and this one just over three years later.
- Call Back:
- Remember how Sabrina dumped Spo off on Fido? Nearly 3 years later, turnabout is fair play.
- And Fox, when he was kidnapped in "A Sinister Shadow", let on that it wasn't the first time. We arrived at "the first time" in a flashback story.
- "Didn't I eat your guys' leader, once?"
- "You look distressingly familiar."
- "Would you like to see my giant blue gryphon feather?"
- In "Theme Park World", Tarot says Sabrina, three years from then, would nearly drown. A bit over three years later, not only does it happen, but we find out why.
- In "Separation Anxiety", Sabrina threatens Fido with a visit from this guy, possibly a fate worse than being retgoned.
- In "Housepets Babies!", a young Fox believed his life would become an action blockbuster. That's exactly how he described the vague memories that remained after his trip to Heaven in "Heaven's Not Enough".
- "Let's just say, I know what it's like to be left behind."
- Carnivore Confusion:
- Usually played straight. It's accepted as a fact of life that predator species kill and eat prey animals for sustenance (something that gets pointed out more than once and even happens on-panel); however, it should be noted that like the predators, the prey species are also fully sentient, able to talk to and even hold lengthy conversations with the animals who want to eat them.
- Except for some, like the cows, which seem to be either non-sapient, or just don't care.
- Illustrated by the title and cover of the second book Housepets! Hope They Don't Get Eaten featuring a picture of the wolf cubs seasoning an understandably concerned looking Zach.
- One of the Bigglesworths attempts to eat Squeak and Spo, only to be foiled (and disturbed) by Squeak's foot (macro?) fetish.
- Cassandra Truth: Grape was right that last time about Pete...
- Catch Phrase: For Peanut: "_______ is/are a thing, isn't it/aren't they?"
- Cat Concerto: Fiddler and Keys
- Cats Are Mean: By and large subverted, sometimes played straight for comedic effect.
- Cat Up a Tree: Grape has been trapped up a tree by angry dogs at least once.
- Censor Box: Parodied with Bino during "The Arc Specifically About Being Naked".
- Chair Reveal: Those ferrets sure love showmanship, with a twirl of a tall-backed chair revealing the instiagtor of the big water balloon war.
- Chained Heat: Zach and Jessica end up in a trap, both dirty, injured, and cold, so they snuggle for warmth. Que Keene showing up thinking he caught a griffon.
- Chekhov's Gun: The last panel of this just seems to be a throwaway gag, involving the reactions of Peanut and Grape to seeing what Fido is up to with Sabrina. A year and a half later, it turns out it's not.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Sabrina is compelled to save any wayward animal she finds.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Throwaway character Delusional Steve.
- Comically Missing the Point: Spo in Wham Line.
- Comically Small Bribe: Max tries to bribe a pet store employee to sell him catnip (which pets aren't allowed to buy) with a quarter. It works in an ironic way.
- Completely Missing the Point: Peanut in particular happens to be prone to this, as shown in this strip where he asks about a trivial issue instead of about the fantastical world he and Sabrina are descending into.
- Contrived Coincidence: So, it just so happens that the moment Peanut and Grape's relationship might be heading somewhere interesting, another dog shows up having been told by the spirits themselves that Peanut would need a companion.
- Three years later, we find out that Tarot had been sent by Dragon as part of her gambit to prevent Pete from acquiring an avatar. In fact, it seems most of the coincidences and plot holes found throughout the series have been caused directly by the Great Game.
- Cool Down Hug: Cerberus brought Pete down from a Villainous Breakdown with a simple paw on his shoulder.
- Corner of Woe: Grape plays this during the Imaginate play for And Then There Were None. Adds in Shower of Angst for showing rain clouds over her.
- Cosmic Chess Game: Or rather Universes & Unrealities.
Spirit Dragon: To compare the game to chess would be like comparing all of civilization to an amoeba!
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: After Fido's fight with Jata, Ralph says (at least professionally) he had no issues with Fido being involved with Sabrina, and only wished he had known beforehand what Fido had planned, instead of dragging the K-9 force into a potential international incident.
- CPR (Clean, Pretty, Reliable):
- Played with in this comic, when a police dog, Sgt. Ralph, douses an apparently non-breathing Fox with water to revive him after being smothered by Joel's boss.
- In this comic it's neither clean nor pretty: the moment Fido gives Sabrina a breath after her near-drowning, she barfs water in his face.
- Crazy Cat Lady: The owner of the Mr. Bigglesworth cat group.
- Crazy-Prepared: Peanut brings a backup generator to the country to power his Nintendo DS.
- Cross Over: Ponbon, a small yellow creature from another of Rick's works makes a number of appearances from time to time - as a novelty ice cream pop, as a Macy's balloon, and in person in this arc.
- Curse Cut Short
- Cut a Slice, Take the Rest: "Four Finger Discount" Jack does a variation here.
- Cuteness Proximity: Let's be honest. King and Zachary in the same room could be used as a weapon. The ferrets have their moments too. In Itsuki's case however, it's just one more annoyance as his fellow students insist on hugging the fluffy tanuki.
- Dances and Balls: The Yarn Ball, a new year's dance celebrated by cats.
- "Dear John" Letter: Uh oh, Bino...
- Department of Redundancy Department: The theme park themed theme park.
- Diary: Zach keeps one, chronicling such things as his lack of ability to fit in with "brothers" Marvin and Tiger. His diary was also used as a framing device for the "Great Water Balloon War" arc.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Dog Fido and cat Sabrina are heavily suggested to have done "something" in this comic.
- Dissimile: It is Sasha, after all.
- Distracted By The Shiny: Daisy, looking at King's collar rather than King on the cover of the Third ''Housepets!'' book.◊
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In this strip, Bino responds with indignation to Fox's allegations that he has a small... neck. Keep in mind that the neck is the only area the pets seem to have any modesty about...
Fox: *snrk* I was wondering, how does someone with such a big head get by with a neck so pencilly?
Bino: It's comparable to the national average!
- Donut Mess with a Cop: Averted here with poor Kevin.
- According to Sasha, Kevin took her to a donut shop for their first date. Unknown if Kevin ate any there.
- Don't Fear the Reaper: Cerberus assumes the mantle of the Grim Reaper for the sake of working with children, greeting a puppy who was thrown off a bridge by his owner and drowned with a giant cookie.
- Draco in Leather Pants: In-Universe example for Peanut: the Pridelands character Saso.
Grape: So you lifted the entire plot of the eighth chapter and wedged Spot into it, just so you could rescue an unimportant minor villain you particularly liked?
- Dramatic Irony: Of a sort, when Bailey is griping about King's behavior at one point.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Played with literally. They nearly dropped a boat on CSI dog Terrance.
- Drowning My Sorrows: Keene Milton is prone to this. With orange soda.
- Drunk on Milk: Orange soda. To pets at least.
- Eldritch Abomination: How Grape sees the vet when she was young.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Grape's shelter name, Princess Periwinkle.
- Enforced Method Acting: In-Universe: Peanut playing the ghost of Banquo in their Macbeth "Imgainate" play resulted in an unintended occurrence for Maxwell.
- Enhance Button: Parodied here, with a police dog calling for enhancing the actual scene of the crime.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Quoted in the comments by Rick when people started implying that the term "slow motion pillow fight" meant something that went beyond the PG rating.
- Locked in a Room: Zach and Jessica get trapped in a relocation cage during "Rabbit's Foot".
- Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: In the story arc "Show Business", King finds himself trapped in a tool shed when being chased by Duchess. This strip even mentions MacGyver by name. The ultimate solution to his dilemma is, however, somewhat more directly violent than most of MacGyver's solutions.
- Loophole Abuse: Laws require that housepets be on a leash when out in public places, but it doesn't specify anything about who's holding the other end of the leash, which the pets exploit by going out holding their own leashes.
- List of Transgressions: In this strip, Spirit Dragon asks of both her mortal realm representatives what she had done to harm them. The first one replies in a way suggesting that there's a Long List of harm done, and the second has a list of harmful acts that's apparently so long that it's been compiled into a rather thick notebook labeled "Grievances".
- Love Is in the Air: King is smitten on Fox's cousin Bailey after she jumped into a pond to save his MacGuffin stopwatch.
King: Why does she smell even better now? note
Fox: I think that's in your head, lover boy.
- Luminescent Blush: Apparently, in the Housepets! universe facial fur can change colors, given that blushes show on the faces of several characters when they're embarrassed.
- MacGuffin: Joel's "fate", which is now a stopwatch King is holding on to.
- In "Heaven's Not Enough, Part 3", it evolves into a Magnetic Plot Device. It now allows King to remain King. If he relinquishes the watch, he becomes Joel.
- Marshmallow Dream: Inverted by Tiger:
Tiger: Okay so funny story, I had a dream I was eating my pillow
- The Matchmaker: If Pete is to be believed, Dragon is responsible for Grape/Maxwell, Peanut/Tarot, and Fido/Sabrina. Here's the thing. She only hooked them up as part of her gambit to screw over Pete in their game of Universes and Unrealities, though all three couples don't seem any less happy for it.
- Meaningful Name: Brown dog and purple cat? Peanut Butter and Grape Jelly.
- The mouse, often known to squick people out, is named Squeak.
- Milking the Giant Cow: Although it's happened at least once before with Bino, it's coming up a lot more frequently with the late-2012 art shift. Fox, Fido and Maxwell have all done it thus far.
- Mood Whiplash: For one comic Rick decides to be not funny.
- Mundane Fantastic: Talking animals and telepathic dolphins. It also doesn't take much for people to believe in other Psychic Powers.
- Musical Episode:
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: Played strictly for laughs two times, when female characters act out toward crushes:
- Naked People Are Funny: Oddly averted. While housepets are naked all the time, the fact is only occasionally pointed out, such as when Grape couldn't believe that Peanut didn't know she's a girl, or "The Arc Specifically About Being Naked" (aka losing one's collar).
- Never Say "Die": Parodied here by the dog on Uncle Reuben's farm, using all sorts of euphemisms for dying in their literal, non-euphemism sense.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Grape fears she may have pulled this herself after accusing the "author" of the Pridelands series of exploiting the work of her cat (the actual author of the series). She didn't.
- Nobody Calls Me Chicken: what chicken?
- Noodle Incident: Mentioned by Peanut, about a previous, off-screen session using Tarot's psychic powers to make their imaginations tangible that resulted in an embarrassing moment for Grape.
- No OSHA Compliance: The way to Heaven is apparently a giant golden staircase without any railings. Luckily there's an equally giant three headed dog-god standing by to catch you in her paw if you trip and fall.
- Not Blood Siblings: While Peanut and Grape treat each other as siblings, they aren't related; they're not even the same species.
- Non Sequitur Thud: "After King takes a tumble down the stairs, he greets Fox with "Oh, hello Mr. Elephant, let's take a walk down to the gumdrop lake" then drops to the floor.
- Ocular Gushers: Sasha after a series of intentionally bad dates as a ploy by Bino to get back into Sasha's good graces after she dumped him on Valentine's Day.
- Oh, Crap:
- Only Six Faces: This was particularly bad during the comic's first year, but has gotten better following the style revision. It's not perfect, though; apart from a color shift and some differences in clothing, Peanut is a dead ringer for Fido.
- One Steve Limit: Lampshaded and outright named in the comments here.
- Or Was It a Dream?:
- Lampshaded, but Grape is still surprised.
- Great Kitsune has his fun with this as well
- And again, only by Dragon/Tarot, here. More of a parody than anything as the supernatural beings in question don't even try to be subtle.
- Otaku: Joey has some signs of it. Of his group of friends, he may be the most normal.
- Paper-Thin Disguise:
- Where's Truck?
- Grape pretends to be Sabrina's boyfriend wearing a beard that some readers didn't even notice until it was pointed out to them.
- Pet Heirs: The six, now incredibly wealthy, ferrets inherited their fortune from the late Henry Milton.
- Planet of Steves: There lives on the block a woman who owns at least eleven Siamese cats named Mr. Bigglesworth (yes, even the girls). They're not Inexplicably Identical Individuals, but even the Bigglesworths can't always tell one another apart, or tell each other's genders.
- Poker: This one-off, Rick's "obligatory" version of the famous dogs playing poker painting A Friend in Need.
- Power Perversion Potential: Played with here, with an added Luminescent Blush about Tarot's "imagination made real" ability combined with a suggestion of indecent exposure for Grape. It's never clarified what actually happened.
- The Pollyanna: Sasha. No matter how badly her owner treats her, she still loves him and still has a permanently happy disposition (possibly verging on Cloud Cuckoolander at times).
- Precision F-Strike: A censored version, during the 2009 Christmas arc. Then a second one. And a third. So far, King seems to be the only character allowed to swear on-screen.
- Prince and Pauper: No Pauper involved, but Millionaire Ferret Keene Milton does four months as a ferret exhibit at the Zoo while everyone thought he was vacationing in Florida.
- Punny Name: Grape pretended to be Sabrina's boyfriend Concord.
- Puppy-Dog Eyes: Sabrina knows how to get what she wants.
- Quirky Town: Babylon Gardens is owned by ferrets (through a human estate trust), and has among other "oddball" characters two housepets who are servants of celestial beings playing a Universes and Unrealities with the subdivision.
- Rail Roading: How Pete "convinces" Joel to be a part of the Game, making it sound as if there was no other option for Joel.
- Ready for Lovemaking: When King went to his room after a dog pageant, Duchess appeared on his bed, laying in a suggestive pose with a whip and a set of pink cuffs, asking for King to snuggle with her.
- Real After All: Where did that big feather come from?
- Reality Is Unrealistic: Quoted by Rick in the comments section when someone complained that the feline fangs were too far forward in the new art style, and he responded with a Wikipedia link.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: A variant. After the first comic in what looked to be an amusing plot arc, the author's computer broke, triggering a two-week stretch of guest strips... after which the last comic in said plot arc appeared (as if the action had continued in the absence of the author). Except the characters acknowledged that no one had actually seen any of it happen and determined to recreate it for their benefit (well, Bino did). If the author's computer hadn't broken, presumably the arc would have taken a very different course.
- Reality Warper: Tarot in the Pridelands pretend arc.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: Bailey gets them when Bino makes the mistake of interrupting an argument between her and King: Though he doesn't have time to 'take warning'...
- Relationship Upgrade:
- Relative Error: It turns out Pete and Spirit Dragon are siblings. Apparently quite a few readers thought they were exes or something.
- Ret Gone: Threatened.
Sabrina: Fido, if you don't go in there and stop this right now, I am going to make you never born.
Fido: D...don't you mean "Wish I was—"
- Running Gag:
- Sadistic Choice: Given to King by Pete. He must either become Pete's avatar or return to life as a human. The sadistic part comes from the day he chose to give this ultimatum: King's wedding day.
- Samus is a Girl: People often mistake Grape for a boy; she is, in fact, a girl. In fact, other cats sometimes have problems telling.
- Sapient Steed: Horses are on the list of sentient talking animals, so they become this.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: The Milton ferrets tend to take this view, buying whatever catches their fancy even if the law or rules don't allow it:
- Having a swimming pool filled entirely with grape gelatin (or alternatively chocolate mousse).
- Keene has contemplated getting a waterfall installed in their mansion.
- Keene also plunged the entire neighborhood into an extremely grandiose water balloon war just to test out a new line of water guns.
- Secret Relationship: Fido and Sabrina. Fido had to reveal it on live television to prevent an Arranged Marriage from ending it. Fallout still ongoing...
- Self-Deprecation: Rick takes a swing at himself over the occasional swings between Slice of Life Romantic Comedies and fantasy that the comic sometimes takes.
- Self-Insert Fic:
- Grape writes one of these and is incredibly embarrassed when Peanut reads it.
- Peanut also lifted a chapter of Pridelands for his Spot (superdog) comic because he liked a particular minor character.
- Then things go a step further when Tarot uses her imagination...
- Shapeshifting Squick: All the King shippers seem to forget and/or ignore that he was originally a human.
- Shared Family Quirks: Fido, is dating a cat named Sabrina. His youngest brother Joey is in a relationship with Squeak... the mouse. Associating with mice is another thing the Byrons seem to have in common. Fido has grown rather attached to Spo, a mouse he was volunteered to care after, by none other than Sabrina. And we've come full circle.
- Ship Sinking: Anyone who was shipping Pete with Dragon will be distressed to learn they're brother and sister.
- Ship Tease: Peanut and Grape cuddling in a one-off
- To Homestuck, here. The title and Alt Text give it away.
- The link on the Cloudcuckoolander reference may feature a shoutout to South Park.
- And this link features a callsign, KPET, that was also used by the webcomic Newshounds.
- This link is an obvious shoutout to Garfield as Tiger tries to ship an annoying pup to the United Arab Emirates, which Abu Dhabi is part of.
- OOGAH BOOGAH BOOGAH! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA
- Homestar Runner gets a few, including "Tish, You!", the word "nudule", and a Peanut◊ Heroic BSOD.
- Hi I'm Daisy!
- The entire "Thematic Arc of Questionable Quality" is an homage to some of the better-known strips from Calvin and Hobbes.
- Possibly to Fiddler on the Roof, since that's where we first see Fiddler.
- "And this is my other brother Daryl." (sic)
- Following up on the theme naming of the rest of the Sandwich family, Mrs. Sandwich's name was revealed to be Jill in reference to the "Jill Sandwich" meme from Resident Evil.
- Some ad buttons for the comic use the quote "Dogs and cats, living together - Mass Hysteria"
- Bino regifts Sasha with a number of presents, including a "tiny piano like the Peanuts guy". Later on he and Sasha take up positions similar to those of Lucy and Schroeder as he listens to her play.
- In one of the alt texts, Spo describes all the ways one can prepare cheese.
- Kevin has a Road Rovers poster up in his gym.
- This strip makes a reference to Alex Armstrong from Fullmetal Alchemist
- One of Stanley D'Angelo's voice mail messages is for a Henry, Jr.
- Playing the Doctor in the Imaginate version of And Then There Were None, Marvin says both "I'm a Doctor, not an Electrician'' , and "He's dead, Jim".
- The first and last names of Joel Robinson (AKA King) are a nod to a certain janitor shot into space.
- At the end of "Heaven's Not Enough, Part 3", an apparently repentant Pete's shirt reads as a quote from Blade Runner.
- Shovel Strike: King finds himself trapped in a toolshed by Duchess, and uses a shovel found in the shed to knock her out, in this strip.
- Show Within a Show: Pridelands, a fictional work of which Grape is fond. Also "The Adventures of Spot (Superdog)", which uses the following tropes exclusively.
- Shy Finger Twiddling: Peanut is prone to doing this.
- Sleep Cute: More than one snuggle scene in this comic.
- Uncanny Valley: Referenced in this strip with the CGI Dick Clark.
- Unflinching Walk: Played with in this strip with the characters doing this away from a massive water balloon explosion, in the story arc "The Great Water Balloon War", complete with Cool Shades for extra coolness points.
- Unsettling Gender-Reveal: Happens with Grape, both to Peanut and Maxwell.
- Unsound Effect:
- Played with here in the first "Imaginate!" story, with Grape and Peanut using a sign reading "Explosion!".
- The "explosion" of the big water balloon towards the end of the "The Great Water Balloon War" story arc uses "EXPLOOSHION!" as Peanut, Grape, and Zach emerge with an Unflinching Walk.
- Poor Max gets BOOT not once but twice!
- Unwanted False Faith: The woodland critters following Zach as the "Opener of Ways".
- Valentine's Day Episode: Every Valentine's Day brings a set of four paper valentines featuring characters from the strip. They're mostly meant as jokes, but they're also provided in a large printable format so you can give them out.
- Wacky Cravings: Way to freak out your husband, Bailey.note
- Wall of Text: In this strip Sabrina's explanation of her past produces a wall of text separating the second and third panels; lampshaded by the Alt Text.
Alt Text: Yes, it is literally a wall of text between panels 2 and 3. Get your tl;drs ready
- Water Guns and Balloons: Housepets had an entire story arc based on a water balloon war, "The Great Water Balloon War", between the titular creatures that was used to parody military and wartime tropes, starting here.
- Webcomic Time: Lampshaded herenote
Fido: —FOX! Er, when did you get back from Kansas?
Fox: Uh, like the first week of January? I don't ask to be the center of your attention but come on
- Wedding Day: King and Bailey. Plus a Bouquet Toss caught by Tarot.
- Wham Episode: This series has several of them, each of them changing the comic forever, as more and more of the plot is revealed:
- The first is very early, setting up the possibility for romance between Grape and Peanut, the two original protagonists of the comic. That entire arc sets up Peanut's "cat lover" status, as well as displaying the prejudices of the pet world.
- The second is A Sinister Shadow, the first real darkness in the comic, where the status of pets as people is first seriously questioned, as well as showing the first human face in the form of Joel. While not obvious at the time, this arc kicked off the second major conflict of the comic, the status of pets in the human world.
- The third became evident with this comic from Oops I Arced. A dream that had occurred earlier in the comic had Grape meeting a gryphon named Pete, and when she woke up, she had a gigantic feather from it despite it being (supposedly) a dream sequence. This was later followed up by the appearance of Tarot, who confirmed that magic existed in-universe, but the girl seemed a bit crazy. However, the existence of Pete was confirmed by the aforementioned comic from Oops I Arced, setting off another central conflict to the comic as Pete is unleashed, and then turns Joel (from the A Sinister Shadow arc) into a dog and gives him the name of King. Rather than being an odd one-off event, King becomes the third major protagonist of the comic, with many arcs following his struggle of fitting into the world of pets as an ex-human.
- King's arc gained special significance a few arcs later, with dog days of summer revealing that Tarot is actually the avatar of a higher order being, a Dragon who is Pete's counterpart. She seems much more benevolent than Pete, but, along with the Great Kitsune, ultimately it is revealed that all three of the higher order beings - the gryphon, the dragon, and the kitsune - are ultimately playing games with the lives of mortals, and not only is King caught in the middle of it, but Tarot is shown to be not just a silly creature, but actually the avatar of a being of immense power. King rejects his role as a mere piece in a game run by bored demigods, and as such is set off on his own, stuck as a dog until the game is over, but given the promise of a reward at the end of the game, as all avatars receive. It is also implied that the dragon has an interest in Peanut beyond Tarot's interest, with the demigod herself wanting to be his girlfriend.
- The next lies in Imaginate, Too!, when Grape reveals that she knew that Peanut had a crush on her all along, and the pair are forced to attempt to articulate what their relationship means to each of them. When Peanut eventually fesses up to the fact that he wants to be her boyfriend, Grape challenges him as to what more he could want - and declares that he is her best friend in the world, before kissing him. This adds a great deal of ambiguity to their relationship, as from there on the pair are seen snuggling periodically, calling into question both of their extant relationships as well as the exclusivity of it. While it is obvious that Grape and Peanut are taking their boyfriend and girlfriend considerably more casually than humans do, other relationships in the comic range from being of similar seriousness (Bino and Sasha) to being much more serious (Fido and Sabrina), and it is not really clear that Maxwell understands the depth of their relationship - though Tarot said from the very beginning that Grape could take him if she was willing to reject Maxwell, something she didn't want to do.
- More than twenty arcs later, the Trial in Heaven reveals that not all is what it seems with the game of the gods. While Pete had been shown time and again to be a jerk, self-concerned, conceited, and ultimately appearing to care little for mortals, this is all turned on its ear as it is revealed that not only does Pete care, or at least has cared about mortals in the past, but it is revealed that the Dragon is not the kind-hearted creature that she seems - it is heavily implied that not only has she been meddling in the affairs of mortals, but in their love lives, with two of her followers dating two creatures that Pete was interested in, and the ex-boyfriend of one of said followers dating a third - all conveniently ruining Pete's own plans, but implying that all of their relationships may be, to some extent, a sham set up by the Dragon to prevent Pete from winning. Worse still, it is implied that the goal of the game that Pete and the Dragon had disagreed upon hinged upon the equivalence of humans and the other animals which inhabit the world - and Pete, not the Dragon, was on the side of the equivocation of human and animalkind, with the Dragon opposed to it. Thus, rather than the black and white conflict as it had appeared before, both sides were painted in gray - Pete is a jerk, but the comic is meant to lead the readers to sympathize with the pets, and King's arc in particular shows the difficulty of the transisition between human to animal - as well as the fundamental difference between the mindset of many animals and many humans, though the wolves had also worked to blur that line in the other direction by living as people, and far more responsible people than the ferrets, their benefactors, do. It also sets up for Pete having some sort of backup plan, but because of the Unspoken Plan Guarantee, we still don't know whether it has come to fruition.
- Who can forget about Jungle Fever? This Arc focuses on Fido who finally confess his love of the cat name Sabrina in front of everyone in Babylon Gardens. Some are shocked while some already knew that.
- And now, as of April 2014, Heaven's Not Enough, King has finally figured out that Pete still has an ace up his sleeve, which in a condensed form means that Pete is not forfeiting the cosmic game he's playing. Furthermore, he doesn't actually need him to fight as his avatar. However, it doesn't stop Pete from continuing on with his contract to King, just to torture him some more. Except, in a completely unexpected twist, Bailey takes the fall for King and signs Pete's contract, becoming his avatar. Now she has been whisked away to who-knows-where to duel against Spirit Dragon, where it is expected that she will be gone for a very long time from reality's point of view. Then Fox finds out who his best friend really is...
- Wham Line:
- What Happened to the Mouse?: What a number of readers were asking after this scene in the Imaginate version of Guys and Dolls.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Someone coughs over the name of the state during King and Bailey's wedding ceremony.
- Would Hit a Girl: Rightly or wrongly, a number of readers were shocked that the Friend to All Living Things would pull the old Time Out-Time In gag on Bailey.
- Wrestler in All of Us: When trying to prevent Peanut from answering the door before her, she hoisted him up and away in a German Suplex.
- X Meets Y: In universe, it seems that the Pridelands series is The Lion King meets Warrior Cats.
- Your Favorite: In one of his intros to an early strip, Rick mentions that Bino's favorite food is pizza.