"In one little corner of the universe, there's nothing more irritating than a misfile..."A webcomic by Chris Hazelton, Misfile (first page) is the story of "a girl who was a boy, a Harvard-bound genius missing two years of her life, and the pot headed angel who did it to them" via a Celestial filing accident. In the small hillside town of Tempest, Massachusetts, Boy racer Ash was turned into a girl, studious Emily had the past two years of her life erased—including her admission to Harvard—and angelic loser Rumisiel was exiled to Earth for his incompetence. Fortunately, due to a side effect of the accident, only these three remember the universe-as-it-was. Lucky, because Rumisiel fears his superiors would likely 'correct' the misfile by making it permanent.Mixing street racing, girl-bonding, and car tuning sessions with angels, supernatural weirdness and the trials and tribulations—from getting hit on by guys to bras—of a boy suddenly transformed into a girl, Misfile defies simple categorization as the two protagonists struggle to deal with the craziness that has taken over their lives while trying to get Rumisiel back into heaven so he can fix his mistake. Complications arise, of course, not the least of which is Rumisiel's perpetual slacker nature.The comic is notable for dealing with a Gender Bender plot in a much less Fanservice-ey way, and with much more emotional depth and serious character consideration, than is the norm. Essentially, if you left out the supernatural and fantastical elements of the story, you'd still be left with a good tale about the challenges faced by a transsexual boy dealing with life in a girl's body. Also unusual is the fact that the "old universe", where Ash is a boy with emotionally distant parents and Emily is a college-bound senior with a mean streak, has literally never been seen in the comic, although it's often alluded to.
Provides Examples Of:
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- Aborted Arc: Ash pushing Rumisiel back into Heaven since Rumisiel has no clue how to reduce the 72 year sentence.
- Abridged Series: Right here. (Requires a Napalm Luck account to read).
- A-Cup Angst: Missi is upset about her small chest, and complains about it to Ash and Emily.
- Adorkable: Emily outright calls Oscar this.
- Aesop: Ash not only gets the usual Aesops about sexism and the Double Standard but also gets some unexpected ones about Positive Discrimination. Meanwhile, Ash also provides some unexpected Aesops to Emily due to her outsider perspective on female behavior. Finally, the readers get some insights about the battle between the sexes that Ash and Emily are either too obtuse to get or too proud to acknowledge.
- All There in the Manual: If you really want to understand how the Celestial Depository works and the effects of reversing the misfile, and find out just how Tempest has such a cool mountain racetrack you need to have read the "about" section on the website, read the Ask Ash column, and ordered the print books so you could read the liner notes.
- Almost Kiss: A few times, the first being here.
- Analogy Backfire: Regarding the obvious sexual characteristics of the knight costume Missi made for Ash for Halloween.Missi: It's for a girl knight. You're my Joan of Arc.
Emily: Wasn't she burnt at the stake for dressing like a man?
- Anchored Ship: Emily and Ash's relationship took a long time to go anywhere.
- Animesque: Uses plenty of Anime tropes for its art, including Cross-Popping Veins and the Sweatdrop.
- Apron Matron: Doris—at least as far as the forumites are concerned—fits much of this.
- Given that Vashiel, the angel who owns a flaming longsword and is an angel of vengeance who Cannot Tell a Lie, thinks that Doris could do something to Cassiel much worse than what he could, at least some in-story regard her as one as well.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Angels? Okay. Ghosts? Why not? People's lives affected by changes in files? I'll give you that one. But a guy who can talk to cars? Get outta here…
- Archangel Gabriel: Rumisiel and Vashiel's father. Seen in flashback only (so far).
- Armored Closet Gay: While the applicability of the word 'gay' to Ash is debatable, Ash still pretends to be a straight girl because he is afraid that coming out of the closet as a girl will carry over to his male life when the misfile is eventually corrected.
- Art Evolution: Over the years, characters (of both sexes) have filled out and/or bulked up noticeably, proportions are a little more accurate, the clothing a lot more detailed, and the anime-style eyes have become much smaller (with their mouths getting much larger as compensation).
- As an inverse, the cars have become much more simple looking, and the shading (for shadows, at least) is now all but non-existent.
- Artistic Licence/Writers Cannot Do Maths: Chris Hazelton did not stop to think that the one-year anniversary of the titular misfile cannot happen on the same day of the week as it did the previous year - each year is 365 days long (except for leap years), so since the event occured on a Saturday (when Ash raced Tom that same night and lost) the first anniversary would have been on a Sunday instead. He does, however, give an accurate date for the start of the narrative if we're assuming it's the same as the year he started the story - March 20 was a Saturday in 2004.
- Attempted Rape: It's implied that this is what was about to happen here if Logan hadn't stepped in on the next page.
- Author Appeal: Amateur street racing in this case.
- Auto Erotica: James remembers having sex with Ash in his car.
- Ax-Crazy: Kamikaze Kate.
- Badass Boast: Rumisiel gets one on Bronwyn in book #8:Bronwyn: Shut up! Just SHUT UP! You don't know anything! You don't know the spirits! You don't know about the greater universe!
Rumisiel: [pulls out wings and halo]
Emily & Bronwyn: [Oh Crap!]
Rumisiel: You want to see spirits? You want to look into the eyes of the beings who will watch over the end of days? I have seen the fall of empires and the murder of millions! I have shoved that data into files like so many numbers! I have seen a great many things, but little as ignorant and dangerous as a concieted little girl who has used so-called "spiritual devices" to turn her own unbridled ID into a demon capable of killing the one she's too stupid to realize she loves!Bronwyn: W... What are you?
Rumisiel: I'm a frikkin' angel, babe, and I got nothin' to lose. Now GET IN THE CAR!
- Badass Driver: Kamikaze Kate. Ash to a lesser degree. Emily is working up to it.
- Batman in My Basement: Rumisiel has nowhere else to go, but he sleeps on the couch. Then to explain his presence, he's passed off as Ash's boyfriend. When Vashiel arrives, he gets the bed in the basement.
- The Beard: Rumi and later Ash, to Rumi's older brother.
- Beautiful Dreamer: Ash watches Emily as she sleeps. Much later Emily watches Ash. These are followed by a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming and Dude, She's Like, in a Coma! respectively.
- Because Destiny Says So: Ash's relationship with Missi may be written into their files—hence Missi's confusion about being attracted to Ash despite not liking girls in general.
- Bedmate Reveal: In this strip, Ash wakes up after a night of drinking to find Vashiel in his bed.
- Beleaguered Bureaucrat: Rumisiel, at least according to him. He gets some support for this position.
- Given how she's treated when dealing with any other angel (on official business or not), Cassiel also seems to be one.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Rumi and Ash appear to have this, but in reality he's The Beard.
- Berserk Button: Vashiel is extremely protective of people close to him. When Cassiel comes calling and he's the only one home, he threatens to wreck Satan to get to her if she brings any harm to Rumisiel or Ash. From Cassiel's reaction to his reminder not to forget his history, and the simple fact that he can't lie or deceive, he fully means every word of it. The next page, he turns on a dime back to his polite self and offers to get the door for the now terrified Cassiel.
- Beta Couple: Harry and post Character Development Kate.
- Also, possibly Eponine and Logan.
- Big Damn Kiss: Ash and Emily. To give you a better idea, it starts here.
- Big Eater: Missi.
- Bi the Way: The jury's still out on Emily… there have been signs, though she more likely falls under If It's You, It's Okay.
- Bizarre Alien Biology: Turns out angels aren't born, they just sort of...become. They only have genders and so on to interact with humanity. Rumisiel doesn't actually have any biological relation to his brother or father.
- Bond One-Liner: That can be SO addictive…
- Bonus Material: Not much, and the original link is broken.
- Boring but Practical: Vashiel gets a flaming sword. Rumisiel gets a multi-purpose filing tool. Guess which has a better chance of being used in a "real life" (or, Ash's life) situation?
- Brand X: "Beer" and "Cola"."Buy it! Drink it! Love it!"
- Brilliant, but Lazy: While Ash is a talented driver, he has no motivation to do anything beyond drifting through life, not even attempting to fix the Misfile beyond yelling at Rumisiel. This could be because the Misfile happens to be his go-to excuse when confronted on his behaviour. He becomes more motivated after spending so much time around Emily.
- Broken Bird: Kamikaze Kate.
- Cannot Hold Their Liquor: While Rumi's liver could probably be used to sole and heel army boots by now, when Ash and Vash get sloshed it leads to the inevitable results.
- Catapult Nightmare: Well, Catapult Sex Dream, actually.
- Cat Fight: Cassiel vs. Jenny, at the modeling event.
- Celestial Bureaucracy: The Celestial Filing Depository. Comes complete with corruption and errors."Under code 37 'B' of the Emergencies Act I authorize a complete lockdown of the filing depots until further notice."
- Cerebus Syndrome: The murder of several high ranking angels, including "two keyholders" has heralded in a steadily darkening plotline. However, for the most part the story remains dark only when the story focuses on the angels. One might say that the knights of God are in fact Knights of Cerebus.
- Chainmail Bikini: The Halloween costume Missi made for Ash, who naturally lampshades this.
- Character Development: Nowadays, flipping someone off would be considered Out of Character for Emily.
- Averted with Missi, which is one of the problems with her character. There was that one time in the shower where she mentioned her parents being neglectful and her feeling like an outsider with Ash and Emily, but that revelation seems to have mostly been ignored.
- Cheeky Mouth
- Chekhov M.I.A.: Ash's mom. The other angels in Vashiel's old division also qualify.
- Chekhov's Gun: The Monster XR.
- Cleavage Window: Emily seems to like this trope.
- Coitus Ensues: It happens. Ash and Emily really enjoyed themselves.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Missi badgers Ash into answering why Ash prefers to be around Emily and gets her answer in that Missi is overly aggressive sexually and Ash hates that. Missi takes this to mean she needs to continue this behaviour so Ash can be the same way.
- As Ash and Emily discuss future options in this strip, there's a bit of comical confusion between personal growth and...other kinds of growth.Ash: You could be selling underwear and just going to college on the side because you have no idea what else to do.Emily: Now you're just being unfair to yourself. You've grown a lot this year.Ash: God, I hope not. Bras are stupid expensive.
- Conflict Ball: Ash, Emily, and Missi seemed to take turns passing it off. Missi cleverly managed to spike Emily and Heather with it at Kate and Harry's wedding, precipitating their grudge race.
- Contemplative Boss: The head of the Celestial Depository in this strip.
- Continuity Nod: When Missi decides to experiment with alcohol, Ash wants to leave, citing a bad experience of alcohol. This is of course referring to the arc a few years back (six months ago) when Ash and Vashiel got drunk and woke up in the same bed.
- Cool Big Sis: Kamikaze Kate, after her Character Development.
- Cool Car: Pick a car, any car.: either inherently cool or made cool through street racing modifications.
- Council of Angels: The Celestial Filing Depository.
- Cross-Popping Veins
- Cry into Chest: Happens at least once, such as when Missi confronted Ash about feeling like an Emily backup
- Cynicism Catalyst: Kate only became known as "The Kamikaze" after other racers, jealous of her sister Angelica's skill, accidentally kill her.
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Implied here.
- And interrupted here.
- Daydream Surprise: This strip.
- D-Cup Distress: Ash, who has the largest breasts among himself, Emily, and Missinote . Justified, as Ash still thinks of himself as male and considers them an aspect of a body that isn't his.
- Dear Negative Reader: Chris wrote one after getting a verbal response from this page. In it he reminded everyone that it was his comic, he was doing it for free and he owes us nothing. Also, he informed us Ash and Emily will be getting together at some point in the future.
- Deconstructed Trope: Pretty much every classic Gender Bender trope is deconstructed from Ash's perspective.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Averted in oh so many ways, from a mild subversion like Kate (Ash finds a "friendly" Kate just as terrifying), through straight aversions like Tom and Heather (both of whom hate Ash passionately) to an extreme aversion like Sheldon (who manages to alienate all of his own friends as well). It's only played remotely close to straight with Brent, who made it clear that he respected Ash from the start.
- Inverted with James. They stopped being friends after he lost to Ash, but that's mostly because he couldn't deal with them not dating in this reality.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Cassiel, possibly. Seen here.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Type 2 between Ash and Vashiel. They didn't.
- Different for Girls
- Disappeared Dad: Emily's father, got her mom knocked up and was never heard from again.
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?: Vashiel gives the wrong answer to this question.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Just read this conversation which Rumisiel overhears.
- Don't Think, Feel:
- Double Standard: invoked after the fight with Tom.
- Also occurs in the forum. When guys can't take a hint, they're douches. But when Missi shoves her face into Ash's cleavage in front of their schoolmates, even though Ash has repeatedly said he is not interested in a relationship, well then it's cute and funny.
- Double Standard: Rape, Female on Female - Missi molesting Ash is usually played for laughs, although the party in book 15 points out the hypocrisy by juxtaposing it with Colin hitting on Heather.
- Dramatic Wind: When Kate first shows up.
- Dude, She's Like, in a Coma!: Well, asleep. Emily kisses Ash.
- Eating Lunch Alone: Emily on the first day of school after the mishap. As a sophomore, she no longer dares sit with her senior former friends.
- Education Mama: Ms. McArthur, to a T. Emily's having to deal with this is a major plot point.
- Eldritch Abomination: Cherubim, who are described as a four-part existence whose minds are unknowable chaos. They apparently refused to be part of the celestial filing system, and their presence freaks out both Vashiel and Rumisiel.
- Embarrassing Cover Up: Rumisiel proclaiming that he and Ash are dating. Further down the line, Ash realizes that this isn't actually such a bad thing, given that it helps prevent guys from asking him out.
- Embarrassing Slide
- Engineered Public Confession: Done by Rumisiel to Sheldon.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Lampshaded here.
- Expospeak Gag: Spot the potential law student
- Expressive Hair: Missi's pigtails help convey her mood here.
- Expy: This is the cover of Issue 6 of Hazelton's first webcomic, Building 12. Guess which one's the female lead.
- Face of a Thug: Brent has beady eyes that make him look shifty, but he's alright.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Because success ends the story.
- Fanservice: And lots of it, for both male and female characters.
- Fantastic Racism: Played with.
- Filler Arc - Book 13. It doesn't contribute to anything over all and Ash learns a lesson he learnt back in book four.
- Filler Strips: 39 fillers and over 1800 comics. Pretty good record. Fillers usually are for major holidays and 'Day of Remembrance' pages, but there have been extenuating real life issues (such as the artist's wife going into labor).
- First Girl Wins: On track like a heat-seeking missile.
- First Snow: While in Tempest, Rumisiel experiences snowfall (from below the cloud line) for the first time.
- Foreshadowing: Emily teases Ash about being uncomfortable being on a "date" (actually a modeling party) with a gay man. Ash "doesn't have a problem" with being around a gay guy. Guess who soon afterwards winds up on an uncomfortable date with a gay man?
- Fountain of Youth: Emily, due to having two years of her life removed in the misfile.
- Four Eyes, Zero Soul: Sheldon.
- Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: Email, in this case.
- Fun T-Shirt: Rumisiel usually wears a shirt with an unsmiling Smiley and the caption 'Have A Day'. The shirt Cassiel wears when meeting James for the first time qualifies (see Everything's Better With Princesses above). Then there is the shirt Marie imagines Jenny Jr. wearing when mentioning her for the first time.
- Game Face: Halos and Wings out guys, it's hero time.
- Gender Bender: The premise of the series.
- 1st Law Of Gender Bending: Debatable, since it's not so much that circumstances keep conspiring to keep Ash a girl, it's just that the original circumstance is almost impossible to fix in the first place.
- 2nd Law Of Gender Bending: Averted thus far. Ash does not enjoy being a girl. Even though in some ways it has arguably improved his life (like his relationship with his mother), Ash is very much a boy on the inside, and hates that his body does not reflect his inner identity.
- And possibly inverted as it has improved everyone's life, with the (Questionable) exception of his.
- 3rd Law Of Gender Bending: Guess who Kate picks to be her Maid of Honor?
- Gender-Blender Name: One wonders what would have happened had this not been the case. Also an indication that this is not going to be a typical Gender Bender story since adopting a "girl name" is a classic
clichemanifestation of the Second Law of Gender Bending
- Genki Girl: Missi.
- Girls with Moustaches: Emily tries to imagine what Ash would have looked like as a boy, resulting in an image of female Ash with a moustache.
- God Is Inept: Clearly the universe: or at least the angels: have some issues or quirks. The fact that the filing system is said to need manual maintenance and checking counts.
- Going Commando: Ash does this because he is bothered by the thong his dress forces him to wear.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: subverted when both angels urge or condone the same course of action.
- Gratuitous Hebrew: The names of the angels are meant to resemble the traditional's ones names, which means basically taking a random word or name and gluing "iel" at then end.
- Green Eyes: Ash and Marie.
- Grin of Audacity: Ash sports one before showing Heather and Ivan why the title of King of the Mountain still belongs to Ash.
- Groin Attack: Any plans of revenge that Sheldon has in mind might be carried out at a higher pitch than his first appearance.
- Have I Mentioned I Am Heterosexual Today?:
- Have You Seen My God?: God is entirely hands off as far as has been shown. He supposedly knows about the misfile, but hasn't done anything about it. Fans have speculated that God may be playing a deeper game to smoke out some problems in the angelic ranks, place two angels where they can do some good and hopefully cause a little Character Development in Rumisiel.
- Heaven: Where this whole mess started and where Rumi hopes to get back to, if only to fix Ash's file. Looks kinda like a back drop to some old Doctor Who episode.
- Hellistics: Missi causes problems between Heather and Emily, to be solved on the tracks. Emily wins. Heather gets pissed. Heather gets a racing prodigy to try to beat Ash. Said prodigy, Logan, and Eponine, a friend of Cassiel's, hit it off at a party. Cassiel takes it upon herself to try to help Logan win the race with magic (not knowing that she's helping Heather, whom she despises). Rumisiel attempts to keep Cassiel from rigging the race, which causes Logan to crash. The police arrive to check up on the accident, also finding Emily, who they were already looking for since she ran off in the middle of the night to watch said race. Emily's mother blames the night on Ash, forbidding Emily to hang out with Ash ever again, though Molly quickly steps in and takes the blame while also calling Ms. McArthur out on being so overbearing toward Emily. Ms McArthur orders Molly out of the house and grounds Emily for a month. This results in Ash inviting Missi to a movie instead of Emily. Long story short, Ash eats with Missi somewhere. Leaving said eating place, Ash and Missi are approached by two men who seem rather… vehemently interested in them. The subtext seems to imply a threat of rape.
- Help, I'm Stuck!: Emily gets trapped in the window.
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Ash, after learning that Rumisiel wouldn't be allowed back into Heaven for 72 years. Complete with Shower of Angst. Ash also has mini-BSOD's whenever he feels he's lost too much to the ongoing flow of girlishness, like when he realizes he's been a girl for a month
- Home Porn Photos: causing Eponine, Logan, and Ash some difficulties.
- Homoerotic Dream: Ash has one about Emily while they were asleep in the same room. Emily figures it out, but she isn't bothered at all—she's had one about a friend of hers too. Not that it says anything about her.
- No more than having a lesbian dream says anything about Ash, anyway. Sure you want your manhood back, kiddo?
- One would think that that's still part of the way back.
- Honest John's Dealership: Played straight, but gleefully twisted when Ash turns the sleazebag's own game on him.
- Humiliation Conga: The universe seems determined to bombard Ash with a never-ending barrage of girliness right up to and including bridesmaid duty (maid of honor, no less.)
- Sheldon's is more traditional.
- I Choose to Stay: It's possible that a situation in which Ash must choose to either remain in a female body or return to his original timeline is on the horizon, since it's heavily implied that Emily would have died on the last night of summer break in the original timeline (see Sadistic Choice, below, for further details).
- Not necessarily. When Rumisiel gets back into Heaven he can replace Ash's file but doesn't necessarily have to put Emily's pages back. People seem to forget that he is doing that manually, not just hitting a reset button.
- Part of the theme of the story is that the world of the Misfile is actually a better one. In the end Ash might still choose to go back, because most of the improvements can be made again, knowing how to do them. However, if Emily turns out to be lesbian (And not bisexual or Ashsexual), then Ash may be forced to choose between his old body, and a relationship with Emily.
- Except that if the misfile gets undone Ash won't remember that it ever happened, so won't be able to use the information to improve his original life.
- Ash finding himself unable to kiss Emily finally has the latter fed up with the fact that she and Ash can't even be together without using this trope. Her demands to Rumisiel are simple: "You're all about breaking the rules. FIND A WAY."
- Identical Stranger: Oscar, a boy Ash has met, looks amazingly like a male version of Emily, especially in regards to hairstyle (though his hair is shorter compared to Emily, and the small point is on the other side of his head).
- Idiot Ball: Although Rumisiel is the most frequent bearer, all three main characters have had their chance at carrying it.
- I Don't Know Mortal Kombat: Averted: Ash. Straight: Vashiel.
- If It's You, It's Okay: Em/Ash, somehow. Either as the
(possibly)het Em's one female love, or as the one person that Ash trusts enough to allow to see him getting all girly."It's not fair, Ash! I don't even like girls! Why do I have to like you?!"
- Confirmed! Emily loves Ash, but isn't in any way physically attracted to him.
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Missi fantasizes about what she'd do with Ash's figure.
- I Have the High Ground: Cassiel likes to do this.
- I'm Standing Right Here: Emily and Ash aren't particularly concerned about what Rumisiel hears them say about him.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Cassiel.
- Informed Attractiveness: Ash's mom is supposed to be a supermodel, but just looks like every single other woman in the series.
- Innocent Innuendo: This strip. And this one. And…
- Emily comes out with one that could be so veeeery interesting… If we didn't pretty much see it coming from a mile away at this point, that is.
- Ash and Emily have just come in out of the cold rain (There is forum discussion of just how "innocent" that one was)...
- ...and especially THIS one.
- Insistent Terminology: King of the Mountain. Not Queen.
- Also, it's Ms McArthur.
- Interrupted Intimacy: Ash and Emily walk in on Harry and Kate right on the verge of having sex. Kate takes it rather well, but Ash's initial reaction screamed "brain bleach".
- The Internet Is for Porn: Rumisiel has an angelic multi-tool that can do sound recordings, take pictures, and go online. Ash assumes he just uses it to look up porn.Ash: Let me see your bookmarks.
Rumisiel: No! I'm sending it back into the ether! It's not for mortal eyes!
- It's a Wonderful Plot: Subverted. Despite Ash's angst over it, the world does seem to be much better off thanks to the misfile. Of course, the fact that everything IS better just adds to the Humiliation Conga for Ash.
- Jerk Ass:
- Sheldon is a certified dick, and misogynistic to boot. He also has no problem pretending a girl tried to bribe him with sex.
- Tom. Insults Ash without provocation, but he's bad at it.
- Burt has been shown to be one as well.
- Just Woke Up That Way: How Ash and Emily's transformation took place.
- Knight in Shining Armor: Missi started seeing Ash like this.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ash and Rumisiel have a very interesting exchange while shopping:Ash: . . . Besides, I feel like I have to start being the protagonist in my own life story.
Rumisiel: You're screwed then. I'm totally the protagonist of our collective lives.
Ash: You are life's side character at best, and probably an antagonist.
- Leet Lingo: It shouldn't be a surprise that Missi has now used this, nor that Emily called her on it.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Rumisiel, especially here and on the two following pages. Vashiel qualifies too.
- Let's Just Be Friends: Emily gets this after her date with Casper.
- Stunningly, Emily later gets this from Ash, of all people
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: This. With regard to this.
- Loophole Abuse: Emily winning her race with Heather, driving at a blinding 25 mph. Hey, as long as you're in front, right?
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Molly. She describe herself as a bitch.
- Luminescent Blush: Ash wears these often, but never so severely as here.
- Mangaesque: More pronounced before the Art Evolution, but still somewhat mangaesque.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Missi.
- Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Ash starts out this way but eventually gets over it, which only feeds his fears of assimilation.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Inverted; boy Ash was a virgin and is thoroughly squicked to learn girl Ash is not.
- The Masquerade: Rumisiel claims that the misfile must be kept secret or his erstwhile superiors will cover their asses by making it permanent. Maintaining it becomes increasingly difficult once Vashiel and Missi join the crew.
- Master of the Mixed Message: Emily. Particularly here.
- Metaphoric Metamorphosis: Ash appears in prison garb when feeling trapped.
- The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Largely averted, unless it's Ash's time of the month, but Ash's worst nightmare nonetheless.
- Mistaken for Badass: Not that Ash is bad at racing, but there are some things that just happened by accident.Brent: Wow. She's good. There were only inches between her and that light pole.
Ash: HOLY SHIT! I ALMOST HIT THAT LIGHT POLE!
- Mistaken for Gay: When Emily thinks that she wants to major in Mechanical Engineering in college instead of Law or Medicine like her mother wants, she feels guilty and agonizes over telling her. When she does go to tell her mother, her rambling lead-up trying to explain her chain of thoughts gives her mother the impression that Emily is about to come out of the closet. This is all complicated by her actual relationship with Ash.
- Moment Killer: Rumisiel, then Missi.
- Book ten was littered with these.
- Morality Pet: Eponine appears to be becoming this for Cassiel.
- Ms. Fanservice: Though all the women take their turn, Missi and Cassiel have the highest percentage of their appearances being Fanservice.
- Not to mention that this is basically what Ash's mom used to do for a living.
- With her reappearance in the strip, is seems that Rachel has taken the lead in "highest percentage"
- Mugged for Disguise: This poor model, who ran into Cassiel when she needed a dress.
- My Beloved Smother: Ms. McArthur makes great efforts to get Emily to study so she can get into a respectable (read: Ivy League) college. The problem is that most of her efforts don't leave room for Emily's growing social life.
- My Girl Is Not a Slut: Ms. McArthur overhears Ash telling Emily about his girl self sleeping with James the previous year and believes the worst until Emily assures her that Ash was horrified by the incident and won't do it again. Okay, Ash and Emily aren't dating, but we all know what's going to happen in the end.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Ash goes through a freakout after hitting a girl, which he views as tantamount to surrendering his manhood in a Call Back to an early strip when Emily told Ash that he can hit a girl only if he is willing to admit to being a girl himself.
- Emily has one here, after she and Missi piss off Ash enough with their sniping so that he "quits talking to either of them.
- Nailed To The Wagon: Rumisiel, by Ash.
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Kamikaze" Kate.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Every time Ash, Rummi, or even Emily takes the initiative to get the Misfile fixed (which involves doing good deeds) one or all of them wind up getting very painful consequences.
- No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Ash very much likes Missi, and feels truly happy for the first time since the Misfile while dating her, but becomes extremely uncomfortable upon realizing that Missi is playing the traditionally masculine "pursuer" role in the relationship, always trying to convince Ash to get physically intimate, while Ash is the one who keeps resisting in a stereotypically feminine way. Somewhat justified because Ash is trying to hold on to his male identity despite the Gender Bender, and so whenever he finds himself playing a traditionally feminine role in any context, he sees it as a sign of the impending destruction of his "male psyche". Ash feels much safer being attracted to the more traditionally feminine Emily.
- No Periods, Period: Averted, to Ash's unending torment.
- Nosebleed: Vashiel, whenever he comes into contact with "temptation". "Tissue. Tissue. Tissue."Rumisiel: Oh, hello. How was your day?
Vashiel: I'm confused. What... exactly... does Dr. Upton do?
Rumisiel: Maybe you should ask him.
Vashiel: I did. He just raised an eyebrow and handed me a tissue.
Rumisiel: A tissue?
Dr. Upton: You Canadians must have more blood stored up in your noses than any other people on the face of the planet.
Rumisiel: He didn't...
Dr. Upton: Eight nosebleeds.
Rumisiel: THAT'S HILARIOUS!
Dr. Upton: I KNOW! I'd fire him if it wasn't so gosh darn amusing!
Vashiel: Jeeze, guys. I'm right here, you know...
- Not Hyperbole: Cassiel is close to the devil. Specifically she's his niece.
- Not What It Looks Like: Subverted; it's exactly what it looks like.
- N-Word Privileges: Not exactly the infamous N word, but this trope is invoked during a conversation very early on in the comic:Ash: Hey! I'm a girl too now, so don't think I can't hit you back!
Emily: Oh, so now you accept that you're a girl?
Emily: Well then you can't hit me.
- Oddly Visible Eyebrows
- Oh Crap!: The look on Sheldon's face when Rumisiel plays the tape.
- Off Model: The art, while having improved over its ten year run, is still rather sloppy and rough. A side-effect of being it being done on a daily basis.
- For example, faces get distorted in side views (with the characters getting a prominent "snoutface" kind of nose. Their mouths also appear to move onto their cheek too). The cars also tend to look unfinished and blob-like in many instances.
- When the series began, nothing was consistent. And sometimes, the art could get downright ugly.
- Official Couple: While it hasn't happened in the comic yet, Word of God has confirmed Ash and Emily are going to end up together.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: "Man, I wish Ash didn't tell me you were gay."
- Only Six Faces: Slightly averted with the main characters, but when it comes to minor characters there can be much confusion as readers try to ascertain their identity.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: the attempt to represent Harry's Welsh accent comes across as some kind of weird Sarf London… thing
- Open-Minded Parent: Both of Ash's parents are amazingly accommodating towards what are, from their perspective, complete strangers, as well as their "daughter's" racing habit. Ash's dad knows that his wife left him because he was too controlling, and has resolved not to lose Ash the same way. Ash's mom, on the other hand, is just cool like that.
- Operation: Jealousy: Cassiel has convinced James to act like a couple, thinking that they can get Rumisel to blow up and destroy his relationship with Ash. What they don't know...
- Our Angels Are Different: They are far from perfect, and they look more like elves than the typical Winged Human one usually expects.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Kamikaze Kate's sister.
- Out-of-Clothes Experience: Kate and Angelica.
- Pair the Spares: Cassiel and James. In romantic comedies, this "make the other jealous" setup invariably winds up with the two meddlers falling for each other.
- Phlebotinum Breakdown: There are signs that the Misfile is becoming unstable. Missi's had erotic dreams of Ash, as a boy, but can't see his face, and Ash's "Monster" is starting to have major engine problems, for parts that were supplied by his mother due to the Misfile.
- Peek-a-Bangs: Ash. Not for any of the usual reasons listed on the trope page, he just wears it that way. Apparently he had the same style before the Gender Bender.
- The Peeping Tom: Ash apparently had a fantasy about peeping into the girls' locker room. However, after a Gender Bender transformation, it loses its appeal and Ash is squicked out when he finds himself on the receiving end of it actually happening.
- Pet the Dog: Cassiel, seen here.
- Please Keep Your Hat On: Subverted. Emily almost always wears a headband in order to hide her widow's peak, which she was teased about when she was younger. Ash, of course, tells her that she looks beautiful without it.
- Pointy Ears: The angels have these. Because they use a certain angelic power, these are only visible to those who know they are angels. This explains why Ash and Emily are the only ones who see them.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Rumisiel's bosses, at least as portrayed by a guy they fired for being a pot-smoking shiftless layabout who may just be an Unreliable Narrator.
- Poke the Poodle: Here. Cassiel's really slipping.
- Pool Episode: #774
- Prior to that, #493
- Poor Man's Porn:
Casper: Why were you reading girly underwear catalogs?
- Type B. At least until Ash's dad used one to point out Ash's mom…
- During the waitressing arc, he meets Brent who talks him into racing. Brent meets his mom who is "the model from the girly underwear catalogs."
Brent: No reason!
- Porn Stash: Ash expects his to have disappeared due to the misfile but is thoroughly disgusted to discover it now contains pornography featuring men. Ash later admits it's hypocritical in his "Ask Ash" column.
- Positive Discrimination: Discussed. The upside of the Double Standard provides Ash with nearly as many Different for Girls moments as the downside, especially after the fight with Tom.
- Power Perversion Potential: It's hinted that Rumisiel and Cassiel's former relationship fully explored this trope.
- Precision F-Strike: Profanity is relatively rare so when it shows up it is significant. "Goddamn" is particularly significant since angels are much more bothered by blasphemy than mere profanity.
- Pronoun Trouble: plenty of examples right on this very page. According to the "Ask Ash" column Ash accepts female pronouns because otherwise people would think Emily is crazy.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Cassiel.
- Put on a Bus: Done voluntarily by James after he gives up on Ash. He drove home and has not been seen since.
- Not seen in person perhaps, but his presence was definitely felt during Emily's race.
- The Rant: There is commentary from the artist and his wife (who also handles the business side of the comic). Usually it's about real life problems or con appearances.
- Rapunzel Hair: Kate.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: Bronwyn accidentally makes her relationship troubles worse through dabbling in magic.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: What kicks off the plot is Rummisiel managing to screw up a job his superiors put him on because they thought it was impossible to screw up.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Ash and Em, respectively.
- Reset Button: The misfile works like this for Emily.
- Ret Gone: Ash and Emily's pre-Misfile identities.
- Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Ash and Emily and maybe angels.
- Romantic False Lead: Missi.
- Sadistic Choice: "Emily or your manhood" seems to be looming on the horizon.
- Not necessarily. When Rumisiel gets back into Heaven he can replace Ash's file but doesn't necessarily have to put Emily's pages back. Of course, complications will probably still result, but it doesn't have to be a plain and simple either/or choice.
- If Ash were to have his file properly placed, but not Emily, that would theoretically leave her alone in the situation anyway, as he would no longer remember anything about her or what's happened between them during the misfile. The memory wipe upon fixing the misfile is a concern addressed repeatedly in Ask Ash. This would mean Emily would have to figure out how to reconnect with Ash without showing that she knows far more about him than she probably should.
- It is possible, however, that Ash will be forced to choose between a world where he has a good relationship with his mother, Kate isn't being driven insane by her sister's ghost, and he and Emily are friends, or one where he's male.
- There is also the distinct possibly that if the misfile is corrected, Emily will be dead. Her (former) best friend Molly was in an accident that left her with a broken hand and foot, but completely destroyed her car's passenger side. Emily thinks that had the misfile not occurred, she would have been in that passenger seat and crushed, giving her even more reason to keep things the way they are.
- Sarcasm Mode: Ash feels really guilty about making Rumisiel uncomfortable by changing in front of him given all that he's doing for him. You can see it in his face.
- Satan: He exists (he's Cassiel's uncle) but he hasn't put in a personal appearance… yet.
- Status Quo Is God: A frequent complaint among long time followers of the comic is how slow and ponderous the story has become, and how reluctant it is to take any risks. It hints frequently as a larger background plot, despite this though, it has been rooted in mundane issues for several volumes now.
- Scenery Censor: Here, executed extremely close to the line with clever use of panel borders.
- You know, a bit of Fridge Logic strikes on thoughtful viewing of that page. For a guy determined to hold onto his male identity in every possible way, and a bit of a prude for that matter, Ash apparently shaves some rather interesting and unnecessary areas.
- Another Scenery Censor, this time via censor bar, here.
- Selective Obliviousness: Ash's father displays a staggering amount considering his daughter's personality appears to have changed radically from the smiling bikini and party dress wearing girl depicted in the family photo album. (It goes without saying that There Are No Therapists of course.) However, since it's explicitly stated that the misfile only changed the universe just enough to make everything seem normal it's possible that the seemingly instantaneous change from Tomboy to Butch actually occurred over a period of time from his viewpoint.
- Sexy Jester: Emily's Halloween costume.
- Shapeshifter Default Form: Type B with Cassiel—when she is appearing as a human she always chooses the same form. Due to Shapeshifting being an Informed Attribute of Angels, Vashiel and Rumisiel are technically a type 1.
- She is King of the Mountain: Ash insists on being referred to as King of the Mountain as a way of attempting to affirm his male identity.
- Shout-Out: Emily chooses the Harley Quinn costume while doing Halloween shopping with Ash.
- Also possibly a shout-out to Maytag
- At the Halloween party, there's a girl moping over a breakup. Her name? Eponine. (For those of you not familiar with either Broadway musicals or 19th-century French literature, Eponine is the girl on the wrong end of the Love Triangle in Les Misérables.)
- I don't think your milkshake is bringing anyone to the yard.
- Shower of Angst: Ash, during a Heroic B.S.O.D..
- Shown Their Work: Although Tempest itself is a fictional town, apparently somewhere out in the Berkshires, the scantily-clad-waitress restaurant where Ash worked for a summer on Cape Cod actually exists and was a Hooters at the time the strip was drawn (It's an Irish pub now).
- Not only that, but Tempest is similar to a small town in the Berkshires, Adams. Count: The local high school is a couple miles walk on a mostly open road (As shots of Ash walking home has shown). The schools sports teams are even called the Hurricanes, and have a lightning bolt as a mascot! The town is also only a few miles away from Mt. Greylock, the largest mountain in the Berkshires. In addition, it's a town in between two small cities (allowing some of the city and town locations shown in the comic to happen in the local area), it snows fairly early in the season (It's snowing just after Holloween in the comics), snows often (As Ash said in the Q&A), and the first snowfall almost never sticks around (As stated by Ash).
- Shy Finger-Twiddling: Rumisiel engages in this here. Missi does the western version here.
- Single-Target Sexuality: It is possible that Missi is this toward Ash, as it is stated that she doesn't even like girls. However, there has been no mention of whether she normally likes guys, which would be If Its You Its Ok
- Note that Emily does not fall into this, as it is stated that she has dated boys.
- Skinship Grope: Ash invites one from Emily and Emily actually complies, shocking both of them. Turns out Ash was only teasing.
- The Slacker: Rumisiel, started out as a stoner but developed into a slacker. It speaks volumes about Rumisiel's character that this is an improvement.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Both Heather and Cassiel love to think of themselves as more awesome than they actually are.
- Smug Snake: Realistically, Sheldon's plan to discredit Ash with the sexual bribery accusation only works because he has loyal-but-not-too-bright thugs on his team, and he really only needs to convince them (though it does surprise everyone long enough to put Ash on the defensive). Then Rumisiel comes in with the tape.
- Something Else Also Rises: This might count, if only because it's Ash.
- Spirited Competitor: Kate, while racing… in more ways than one.
- Spork: Emily resists the temptation to test Rumisiel's immortality with one in this strip.
- Squee!: You can't call yourself an AshXEm shipper if this wasn't your reaction to this or this. But especially this. Also this. Or this…
- The Stoner: Rumisiel, at first. Ash seems to have beat it out of him.
- Straight Gay: Kay Wheeler, despite being a male model.
- Straw Misogynist: Averted, notably, with the Arthur arc (starting here.) Arthur is a significantly more common type of misogynist; he doesn't try to tell Ash to Stay in the Kitchen, but he refuses to see him as anything but dating material, cannot wrap his head around the idea of hanging out with a girl platonically, and is generally an objectifying ass.
- Strip Buffer: The forums are rife with speculation about the next day's comic, but that comic was completed a week earlier.
- The Sweat Drop: Even Rumisiel's Tshirt and Emily's butt get one.
- Suddenly Sexuality: Another deconstructed trope as Ash, Missi, and Emily all appear to struggling with the implications of their relationships.
- Sweet on Polly Oliver: another possible reason for Ash's relationship with Missi, though admittedly Ash's "disguise" is far better than most. Does not apply to Emily, because she knows the truth.
- Taking the Heat: Molly does this for Emily before calling the old woman out.
- Talk To The Groin Attack
- Tarot Motifs: Bronwyn tries to divine her future with her boyfriend… and lays the Misfile. PERFECTLY.
- The Hanged Man: Rumisiel. Self-sacrifice for the sake of enlightenment, bindings that make you free, paradoxes, and hanging between heaven and earth: in other words, exile to Earth to learn responsibility, where he has more freedom than he did in Heaven, enhances people's lives by accident, flying around... A Messianic Archetype: he's a friggin' angel. Traps, self-entrapment, passivity, and giving up... yeah.
- The Lightning-Struck Tower: The Celestial Filing Depot. Umm... "A straight Tower of Babel allegory about pride preceding a fall. Often associated to overly arrogant, prejudiced, and authoritarian organizations (including The Government) which walk to their own ironic demise." Subtle. Also, "...more generically used as an omen of doom and disaster, at least by those who know better than to use Death for that or who think that Death alone isn't ominous enough." Cerebus Syndrome, anyone?
- The Lovers: Ash and Emily. Romantic relationships. Also signifies standing at crossroad and needing to make a decision. Additionally, the original card had a male and two females: in the context of the Misfile, Female Ash has to choose between Male Ash and Emily.
- Alternatively it describes the situation shes in with her boyfriend now. The Hanged Man for new perspective (she went to college and he didn't..) the Tower for disaster (She had just broken things off with him, also the race, if not for low grade divine intervention. and the Lovers to represent herself and her boyfriend.
- Teens Are Short: The adults tower over the main characters, though Ash says he was taller when he was a boy.
- Ash & Emily, at 5'6" and 5'5", are both at or slightly above average height for women in the US.
- Theme Naming: The vast majority of the angel's names end in "-el," which means either "God is my ___" or "___ of God," depending on exact context.
- There Is Only One Bed: Early on, Ash insists on sleeping on the couch when it comes up. Later on, when he suggests it, Emily suggests sharing the bed. Cue Squeeing from the shippers
- Also, at Cape Cod, Marie only prepared one bed for Ash and Em to share. Ash let Emily have the bed and he slept on a cot.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Ash's race against Tom.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Ironically, Ash and Emily are on opposites sides of this. Referencing an all too Truth in Television issue among public schools in the US where textbooks, usually of history, are written by authors who present their own opinions as fact, and the teacher likes the author and then presents that material on tests also as fact, forcing students who actually know the correct answer to choose to either get a better grade by outright lying on their exam papers, or provide the factually correct answer and then getting a worse grade. There is lots of independently verified testimony that this issue goes all the way through the highest tiers of college. Politicians ranging from the President to the local school-board always insist that the problem is purely the fact that schools aren't getting enough money.
- Tomboy: Ash, though, of course, he's actually a guy. In a cruel twist, though, he is subject to an intentional in-story slow change towards girlishness. He is well aware of this and it worries him greatly.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Ash and Emily.
- Training Montage: Em in this strip.
- Transformation Sequence: Cassiel in this strip.
- Transparent Closet: The other possible explanation for Emily's attraction to Ash. Emily's confusion on this point is a large part of the Unresolved Sexual Tension in the strip. Was running wheel to wheel with Single-Target Sexuality but now appears to be pulling ahead. Also, Ash to anyone even slightly observant (remember, they think he's always been a chick).
- However, Emily eventually set off a breaching charge on her closet door.
- Ultimate Job Security: Doc Upton. Never mind not getting sued, how do he (and his "nimble fingers")still have a medical license? Apparently he squicks out everybody.Missi: Your dad is freaky-creepy, Ash.
- The Unfavorite: Missi perhaps, as her parents are constantly visiting Tom at college while leaving her alone and apparently unsupervised. She's clearly seeking attention.
- Rumisiel may be the Unfavorite because he Can't Catch Up.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: The Misfile upgraded James from regular friend into this.
- The Unreveal: Emily asks Ash what boy-Ash looked like, which is something readers have been wondering for years. We only get a vague description and just a silhouette of girl-Ash with arrows pointing where the shoulders would be wider, hips slimmer, etc.
- The Unsmile: Ramael is often sporting one.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Subverted in that we do find out Ash's plan for Heather's race. But it may be the plan is just vague enough to work.Ash: I've got nothing. Act like I just gave you the best advice of your life. Apply pressure. Make him think you're implementing some master move. Eventually the pressure should make him slip up. Wait for that and just go for it.
Heather: You asshole...
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Rumi's and Vash's Unusual Ears.
- Apparently they use some of their more subtle angel powers to accomplish this.
- Unwanted Harem: Gender Flipped with Ash.
- That could be read in two different ways.
- Vapor Wear: Angels apparently don't
approve ofneed brassieres.
- Volleying Insults: Ash and Tom engage in this before their last race.
- Wacky Racing: Cassiel tries to help Logan do it, with magic no less.
- Wardrobe Malfunction: An act of divine pettiness.
- Webcomics Long Runners: Passed the ten-year mark in March of 2014.
- Webcomic Time: One year of actual time equals approximately one month or so of webcomic time.
- The comic has been running since March of 2004 and (as of late January 2013) is on Book 18. According to the comic, the Misfile happened in March 2004 and it is now early January 2005.
- As of this comic, one year is about to pass since the first strip.
- Weirdness Magnet: A lot of weird stuff just happens to all occur in a small town in Western Massachusetts.
- It's hinted that having a couple angels around is drawing all this to the top.
- Welcome to My World: Emily's response pretty much every time Ash complains about the Double Standard.
- Wham Episode: At first, the consequences of the misfile are fairly comical (or at least nothing major). Then we find out Emily would probably be dead if not for the error. Ouch.
- Wham Line
Author: That person was my father.
- "Ash, I don't want to go back."
- "...I'm OK with mean."
- "I can't... I can't remember what I looked like."
- In Real Life example, that is REALLY serious. One of the authors told a story about how their comic allowed a fan who was a closet transgender to face their fears and be themselves. That person faced many hardships but persevered all because of one comic. Then in 2007, that person died while taking transgender chemical treatments. It horrified the author beyond all reason. The kicker?
- What Did I Do Last Night?: Ash and Vashiel ask this after waking up in the same bed.
- Where The Hell Is Tempest: Yes, it's in western Massachusetts, however it's not explicitly stated where exactly in Massachusetts.
- It could be a stand-in for Pittsfield, given the fact that they have quite a few similarities.
- Pittsfield is too big at nearly 45,000 people, Wo G has Tempest is closer to 8000. Still, Pittsfield is in the right area of Massachusetts, so somewhere near there.
- For that matter, it could also be (wait for it)... Ashfield. Or Upton. (Probably not Upton - too central.)
- The author has admitted that Tempest is basically his hometown of Concord, MA transplanted out into the Berkshires (go find Concord-Carlisle Regional High School and compare it to Tempest HS in the comic. Pretty clearly the same buildings.), but the most likely candidate for a "real" Tempest is probably Adams, MA. It's the right size, the right age (like Tempest, it was a mining town), and is in roughly the right place. It's the right distance from both Albany and the Cape to fit the story, and is right near Mt. Greylock (see Kamikaze Kate, The Demon of...). Greylock Rd./Rockwell Rd. also happen to be just about the only places in the state that are even somewhat close to the Old Road, though Tempest is implied to be a bit further from Mt. Greylock than Adams is.
- It could be a stand-in for Pittsfield, given the fact that they have quite a few similarities.
- The Wiki Rule: Here. It's fairly new and small, so help it out, huh?
- Will They or Won't They?: Ash and Emily. For EIGHT YEARS. Or eight months, depending on your accounting.
- Women Drivers: Averted. Ash is still Queen, no, King of the Mountain, and Kate is not only respected but feared. Emily's initial inability to drive is treated as basic inexperience and is seldom played for humor.
- In fact, the only guys who invoke this trope (Tom) are shown in a very negative light and usually get their comeuppance.
- World of No Grandparents: Ash and Emily seem to have no other relatives besides their parents.
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Ash. Finally does, and has a freakout after doing so.
- Wrench Wench: Ash (by certain definitions) and Missi. Emily is a Wrench Wench in training. Kate's obsession with street racing implies that she's a Wrench Wench too, but Harry brags that he did all the work on her latest car himself.
- Yandere: Heather, for James.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Rumisiel will get to go home (and fix the Misfile)! In 72 years.
- You Are Grounded: Emily, courtesy of her beloved smother.
- Seems it might get better, though, what with Molly not only taking the blame, but also landing some much-needed criticism of Ms. McArthur and redirecting Ms. McArthur's anger from Ash/Emily towards Molly herself, all in a few words.