Amy, Riley, and Tim. The female inventors' judgement is unkind, but understandable.
"You can't be arrested for things that are too weird for there to be laws about!"
John Allison's followup to Bobbins
, using most of the same characters and the same setting
- only this time around Tackleford isn't just a charmingly eccentric British village, but one overrun with mad scientists
worshippers, robots, elves, minotaurs and devil bears. The locals either fail to notice the madness
, or take it all in their stride
The lead is once again Shelley Winters — no, not the redoubtable Oscar-winning actress but the cute, ever-chipper redheaded sometimes-reporter who has an insatiable drive to investigate odd goings-on, to restore justice and order where she senses it is lacking, and apparently to die gruesome, though temporary
, deaths. It also features Amy Chilton, Shelley's merrily self-involved co-adventurer; the misfortune-laden
but unflappable Ryan Beckwith; Tim Jones, brilliant inventor and accidental mayor; sassy goth
girl Esther De Groot and her naive boyfriend The Boy
; Fallon Young, sexy spy
of questionable competence; Rachel Dukakis-Monteforte, bitchy college student turned Satan's minion; and Raffles, the Gentleman Thief
After a little over seven years, the comic finally came to an end on September 11, 2009, with a new series called Bad Machinery
following on the 21st (accessible via the same URL
); it takes place three years after SGR
's ending. Then, in November 2014, Allison announced the end of Bad Machinery, and said that he would (probably) be reverting to "Scary Go Round" as an umbrella title for subsequent strips, at least until his specific plans were finalized.
Shelley Winters still crops up on Allison's blog
and around the site, where she appears to be an actress whom Allison pays to star in his comics. It's all a little confusing. She's also now back in new Bobbins
comics appearing occasionally in between Bad Machinery
strips, showing Bobbins and SGR characters as they are in the present day. In addition, another filler sequence with its own title, Expecting to Fly
, ran in 2014 between Bad Machinery
stories; this showed some of the cast (including Shelley) as they were in 1996, in a school-based story.
You can read it right through this link
for the page on The Verse
as a whole.
- Action Girl: Fallon Young, secret agent for some British government agency, and more interested in "the ass-kicking and running around" than the reasons behind her missions.
- Affably Evil: The League Of Enemies towards Shelley (who isn't the enemy in question), especially Dr Petrescu. Though a Card-Carrying Villain, he makes new glasses for Shelley and seems heartbroken when she escapes.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: Amy's rather weak poetry becomes very popular with the inhabitants of Another Dimension.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Initially, Amy had a secret crush on Tim (and to a lesser extent, Ryan); Ryan Ryan admits to "an abiding love" for two girls "that we can never speak of", almost certainly Amy and Shelley; The Boy is introduced having a huge crush on Amy, and Erin and Esther nurse crushes on The Boy (Esther wins, and in Bad Machinery, Ryan and Amy are married).
- All Just a Dream: A couple of particularly unusual tales run for a few comics before turning out to be dreams or flights of fancy by Shelley.
- Amazon Chaser: When Erin returns to school after drinking the growth formula.
Don't stare at me Oggy! Everyone's staring at me! Oggy:
Um, I'm no expert, Erin. But you look kind of like a honey trap alien queen sent to enslave the male race and put eggs in us...and most of us would be willing to let the eggs thing slide
- Another Dimension: The weird alien world in "Dimensionality".
- Arc Words: "Things are going to change."
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Mr Devil, sir, in the last few months I have been strangled to death, buried, re-animated, kidnapped, was made to wear a tight goth-girl corset by my so-called friends and had to eat a load of salt.
Shelly: But what would you do in a word-based emergency?
Des: Like what?
Shelley: Eviction notice. Death warrant. Valuable coupon that expires today.
- Art Evolution: A gradual improvement and a shift from Adobe Illustrator to hand-drawn.
- Ascended Extra:
- Esther first appeared as part of the gang that thumped Amy for chatting to the band they liked, but went on to become one of the core protagonists.
- An even bigger exemplar might be Esther's friend Sarah Grote, who really just hung about in Ester's orbit until chapter 47, when she suddenly moved up to the front to cause the events of that chapter and then to date Ryan.
- Ryan was never just an extra, but he did go from being a pretty minor character in Bobbins to one of the mains in its sequel.
- As You Know: Rachel sums up the previous chapter to Tessa (who was there with her) for the benefit of readers who just joined.
- Atlantis: Desmond Fishman suddenly thinks he came from Alantis (He's a Fish Person, it might make sense), drawing Shelley and Amy into an adventure to find it.
- Audit Threat: Fallon uses this basic technique to get Tim to join her on a mission.
- Back from the Dead: Shelley, more than once. This is partially because of her pleasing existence.
- Beach Episode: The comic occasionally visits the beach, though nearly always for plot reasons (Portuguese man-o-war invasions, abductions to supervillain island bases, dream voleyball sequences) rather than fanservice. Still, the cast are willing enough to dress for the setting — especially Amy.
- Bears Are Bad News: And even worse than that with Devil Bears, a recurring menace in the SGR-world even in Britain, which in reality has long since exterminated anything more unwelcome than horses.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Not in the comic, but now that SGR has ended, Shelley seems to have jumped over it and lives on in sketches and banners on the site, promoting SGR collections, bothering her creator to work harder and appearing in sketch-comics on his blog, where she makes a nuisance of herself while John tries to work on Bad Machinery.
- Britain Is Only London: Entirely averted, by virtue of the author living elsewhere. Tackleford is in Yorkshire, which is Oop North. Adventures to elsewhere are set in foreign or mythical locations like Romania, Christmas Island, New York or Atlantis. The only story set the capital involves Time Travel to Victorian London.
- B-Side Comics: Occasional side comic Scareodeleria, which also featured the SGR cast, but is now defunct. (The lack of a link of the main page suggests that it's either Old Shame or a secret... and the fact that it was later purged from the site altogether suggests the shame level increased even more... but there's still always the Internet Archive Wayback Machine!)
- Buffy Speak: Shelly and Ryan especially, but the cast in general have some very unique ways of phrasing things.
- Butt Monkey: Poor Carrot just can't seem to catch a break.
- Call Back: "Abductions" has quite a storm of callbacks. The League Of Enemies comprises Archie Stanwyck, who strangled Shelley and was presumed dead after trying to kill Tessa and Rachel way back in chapter two, Dr Petrescu, defeated by Fallon and Tim in chapter six, and Mayoral candidate Bentley Quorn from the previous chapter. Their plan involves unleashing a zombie clone of Shelley, recalling Shelley's time as a zombie in chapter 4. Also, Shelley calls on the Portuguese man-o-war who was her enemy in chapter 17, in a sort of unreliable case of the Androcles' Lion.
- Card-Carrying Villain: The League Of Enemies, who describe themselves as evil. Amid their island lair, Gibbous Moon says she's an "evil intern".
- Cargo Ship: A story Amy reads out for "Fan Fiction Friday";
"Chewbacca walked into the spaceport and didn't know where to look. Battlestar Galactica
was doing it with the Millennium Falcon
Ame, the genre of fanfiction just collapsed like a dead star.
- Casanova Wannabe: Paul Milford thinks very highly of himself despite his lack of results. And subtlety.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: There's always time for bantering Buffy Speak, even as something terrible bears down on the characters, or as they run away from it.
- Celebrity Power: One of Shelley's ideas for rescuing Des from his hosts was "Enlist Björk!" Why Bjork? Who knows?
- Character Blog: Shelley had a Twitter for a while, (described in mock-outrage by John Allison as "the greatest betrayal of my professional career") but it was later deleted when people started sending her messages, because her creator was unnerved by the idea of replying in-character, as if roleplaying as Shelley.
- Clark Kenting: A wig and different clothes makes Fallon completely unidentifiable to Ryan. Though to be fair to him, she is a secret agent, so maybe she's trained in disguise, and even if not:
I never looked directly at Fallon due to feelings of manly inadequacy, is all. Like she would see my weaknesses and report them to Lady Central
- Cloudcuckoolander: Shelly most of the time, and Ryan has his moments too.
- Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Amy is happy to be a star poet in the alien world in "Dimensionality", and isn't at all happy that Tessa and Rachel have come to take her back home.
- Continuity Cavalcade: This strip for the tenth anniversary of Bobbins and SGR. The second panel has a wealth of minor characters in the background.
- Council Estate: The Swarbrick Estate, where Des ends up when he runs away and we meet Shauna Wickle, later a main character in Bad Machinery.
- Crashing Dreams: The Boy has two, the first where he's about to referee the female cast in a game of beach volleyball, and another where's woken by Elodie, goes back to sleep and incorporates her shouting at him to wake up again.
- Crazy Cat Lady: Erin believes her big sister Shelley will go this way.
- Crossover: Never as the actual focus of the comic, but sometimes characters from other webcomics turn up in the background.
- Cult: The Satan-worshipping nuns in gas masks and the Church of Wayne.
- Cue the Flying Pigs
- Deal with the Devil: Rachel is thrown off a bridge by the biker gang for leading them to gun down Shelley. The Devil catches her and offers her the choice of becoming his minion or continuing her fall.
- Demoted to Extra: When the focus shifts to Shelley, Ryan, Tim and (later) Amy and Fallon, original protagonists Tessa and Rachel are just serving them beer in the pub and chatting to them in epilogues.
- Department of Redundancy Department: A few examples, such as this one from Shelley:
Well, this what you get for weeks of acting like a jerk-face jerk, Shelley. Kidnapped into space by space aliens.
- Description Cut: After Shelley escapes another unlikely death, Ryan tells her she's lucky "the universe isn't keeping score". Actually, it is, but the being who manages Earth has a soft spot for Shelley and her "pleasing existence."
- Rachel is dragging Amy back to the interdimensional portal from an alien world and says of her partner: "If I know Tessa like I think I do, she'll have spotted my ruse and be getting things ready in the forest to take us home." Meanwhile, Tessa is...steaming drunk and chatting up a giant beetle.
- Devil in Disguise: It is revealed that Ryan's friend Ralph is actually the devil rather than the figure that the comic had presented as such.
- Double Entendre: Double entendres, especially slightly surreal ones, seem to be a fairly common flirtation technique in this setting; they may be especially popular with female characters. See, for example, this scene (complete with reference to the classic line from To Have And Have Not).
- Early Installment Weirdness: Go to the start of the comic if you're more familiar with the later ones - or Bad Machinery, or the description at the top of the page - and between the early Adobe Illustrator art and completely different character focus, you might wonder if you're reading the same comic.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The biker gang have no problem with doing drive-by shootings on people who crossed them, but they're very upset about being led to shoot the wrong person.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Boy, and his parents The Father and The Mother. In a slight subversion (or just an eventual retcon), it is revealed that The Boy's real name is Eustace Boyce, and he became known as The Boy because Elodie the French exchange student couldn't pronounce his real name. After that, his parents get names too.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: Elodie
- Everything's Deader with Zombies: Shelley is resurrected as a zombie after dying. At first she seems hollow and mindless, but her personality returns over time... until she succumbs to full brain-eating zombiedom.
- Face-Heel Turn: Several characters, most unexpectedly Ernest. Most obviously, Rachel, which is particularly remarkable because she starts the comic as the central protagonist.
- Famous-Named Foreigner: All Russians as we know are writers of blistering brilliance and anarchist prince revolutionaries note .
- Fetch Quest: In the "waiting room" between life and heaven, Leppo says he will tell Shelley the way back to Earth if she gets his false teeth back.
- Fictional Document: Occasionally, there's a newspaper article written by (or featuring) Shelley, one of Esther and Sarah's (and later Shauna and Lottie's) zines, and others such as the tabloid magazine story where Ella Wickle claimed that Des was her son.
- Finagle's Law: Governs much of the stories.
- Fish People: Desmond Fish-Man.
- Fully Absorbed Finale: Inversion! The final chapter serves basically as Fully Absorbed Pilot for Bad Machinery. See also Poorly Disguised Pilot.
- Futureshadowing: A slightly chilling instance occurs in "Expecting to Fly", when a distressed Shelley, in 1996, threatens the very young Erin with going to Hell. Years later (or years earlier, in publication sequence)...
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Hulked-out Erin and Big Lindsay go to settle their differences:
Milford: Normally, I'd suggest we go and watch. But I wouldn't want either of us to spontaneously combust.
- Good Bad Girl: Shelley, occasionally, and Amy when she remembers to be good.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: This evolves over the series: the characters curse when provoked, but usually in creative and non-profane ways, sometimes using the word "tupping" in place of f-bombs. (It's an archaic word that means the same thing.) There's the occasional light swearing ("She's alive! She's alive and talking bollocks!") but any serious swearing is covered by Censor Boxes until late on. Even then, the print versions still cover it up, and it's mostly exclusive to Amy.
- Goth: Esther (mostly a Perky Goth). Tim and Ryan dress zombie-Shelley in goth clothing so her undead pallor doesn't attract attention.
- Graduate from the Story: In the last chapter, the school-going characters (Esther, The Boy, Sarah, et al) finish school and leave for university, or start work. Shelley also leaves Tackleford for a job in London.
- Gratuitous French: Mimi, and Elodie when she was the same age, is/was obsessed with The Smurfs. We see them both talking about Smurfs in French, but using the English name for the little blue guys, rather than the original (Belgian) French Schtroumpfs.
- The Grim Reaper: Natalie Durand takes the gig after she dies — reaping seems to be something of a franchise operation — and adjusts the traditional costume for added glamour (well, she is French). Her embarrassment at being asked to collect another of Ryan's exes proves fortuitous for Fallon.
- Hand Wave: Shelley goes to America, gets a job at The New Yorker magazine with her US counterpart Shelby Winner, and is gone for a few months. So why is she back in Tackleford?
- Shelley makes few of these over time, brushing off questions about why she doesn't call on Tim or Fallon in "Super Crisis Quests" and glossing over how she travelled back to Britain from Portugal without any identification.
- Heel-Face Turn: Gibbous Moon for a while.
- Here We Go Again: Shelley teaches Des to read, encouraging him with means both fair and devious, then discovers a similar shortfall:
Ryan: I...can't make out the numbers too good.
Shelley: [serious face] I see.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Subverted; The Boy sticks with Esther despite the attentions of two different redheads, Erin and Elodie.
- Hey, You!: The Boy.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager: The comic tends to play most with the male version; the adolescent boys in the cast are usually very susceptible to being distracted by any good-looking women or girls they see (though not always terribly successful in pursuing them). As Tim says of The Boy, "He's 16. His body is 73% hormones." The teenage girls are usually more rational and cool-headed, although they're not always entirely immune to the effect; along with a fair bit of snarky flirtation from the smarter ones, there's at least one teenage pregnancy reported from off-stage. Still, even when the teenage Sarah becomes increasingly sexually frustrated and ends up dating the somewhat older Ryan, she's quite sane and rational about it.
- Huge Schoolgirl: Whereas minor character Big Lindsay is too scary to fit the trope, Erin Winters is temporarily pushed into the role thanks to an accident with a growth potion.
- I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin: Shelley trips out on the hallucinogenic qualities of jam-tasting.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Shelley seeks a flimsy excuse for not socialising with the lodging house's other undead residents:
Shelley: I'm training a crow to dance and we've, like, got no chance at the regional championships if I don't finish making his tiny tap shoes.
- Informed Flaw: Fallon and others say that she's terrible at her spy work, but for the times she mentions it - "The Russian itinerants...I told them in no uncertain terms that a nuclear warhead is not a toy"; "Ex-CIA man? Hooks for hands? I'll be there in half an hour" - she clearly came back with both herself and the world alive and unharmed. Her mission to Romania with Tim argues otherwise, as her plan seems to be "go dancing and drinking and play Scrabble", but she's still alive and being sent on missions. After she quits government service, though, her mercenary jobs, while performed more or less successfully, do sometimes seem to be rather badly chosen.
- Intrepid Reporter: On and off, both Rachel (initially), who had to revive the student newspaper to avoid being kicked out of college, and later Shelley at the Tackleford Cormorant.
- I Would Say If I Could Say
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: Tim's time travel teapot (try saying that three times fast).
- Karma Houdini: Poh, in-canon. Even Esther is helpless before his dickishness. Until he's arrested and presumably sent to a mental institution for kidnapping postmen.
- Lampshade Hanging: Tim's girlfriend Riley points out that the time-travel teapot makes no sense whatsoever, and that The Boy's name can't really be "The Boy". She gets no answers, because in the first place the teapot does work, and in the second her half-dressed form has rendered The Boy incoherent.
- Lesbian Space Vampire: Alluded to but not, it seems, actually present. Abducted by a Flying Saucer, Shelley wonders what kind of alien has abducted her, between The Greys ("with their probing ways") Reptilians planning to conquer the galaxy, or "Space Vampires of Planet Saphhus X" ("You have a...pleasing form, Earth creature.")
- Loads and Loads of Characters: First Tessa and Rachel, and a few secondary characters. Then Ryan, Shelley, Tim and Amy join the cast with Fallon Young joins shortly after. The next major group is the schoolkids — The Boy, Esther, Sarah, Milford, Carrot, etc. — and towards the end there's the nascent Bad Machinery characters too. Then there's recurring characters who show up for a storyline and then go Out of Focus again, like Hugo, Gibbous Moon, or Natalie Durand, and minor characters like Hamilton Percy who pop up only occasionally. When salty old seadog Ernest first appears, there's a note beside the comic reading "I keep creating new characters. I just can't stop."
- Louis Cypher: Crazy Old Ralph.
- Mad Scientist: Tim Jones occasionally, Dai Davies generally, Dr. Petrescu totally.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Mocked. After The Boy sleeps with Esther he becomes a Man! (or rather The Man) and uses this to construct a boat. Unfortunately he uses up all his manhood doing this and reverts to "callow youth".
- The Merch: Among other things, Ryan's expression "Tupping liberty" was put on a t-shirt, and The Boy's "Wales Is OK" t-shirt was defictionalised. There's a whole store of books, t-shirts, prints, tea towels and tote bags keeping John Allison in tea-bags on the SGR/Bad Machinery site.
- New Media Are Evil: As canny media-savvy kids, Shauna and Lottie blame their misbehaviour on computer games:
Shauna: Microsoff Word is s'posed to be the worst!
Lottie: There's a paperclip what tells you how to be bad.
- 90% of Your Brain : Zombie Shelley succumbs to the urge to eat brains, but fortunately:
What about the man whose brains Shelley ate? Tim:
By some Million-to-One Chance
, she ate the 90% of the brain that none of us ever uses.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Repeatedly averted - Shelley's mention of the Government is illustrated with Alistair Darlingnote , Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson. (An earlier mention involved masks of Tony Blair and George W. Bush.) The President of France in the SGR-verse is Nicolas Sarkozy, the real life President of France, at the time. The arc featuring him ends with his declaring war on Canada (whose prime minister is, indeed, Stephen Harper). (It Makes Sense in Context...sort of.) This is never mentioned again.
- Not Actually The Ultimate Question: Inverted.
Shelley: Oh, Des. What have I done?
Des: No, that was me. The food in the green room was very rich.
- Nuns Are Spooky: The Little Sisters of Belial. Especially since they're also Gas Mask Mooks.
- Oh Crap! There Are Fanfics of Us...: In this scene, Shelley encounters obsessive fans of herself. It gets quite awkward, especially when the guy named Harry starts to read out loud Purple Prose Shelley-fanfiction. (It sounds ambiguously erotic and involves Magic: The Gathering...) Shelley later comments that she has "looked terror square in its single, milky eye!"
- Out-of-Context Eavesdropping: Desmond overheard Shelley and Amy talking (jokingly) about how Ryan ought to leave, and misunderstood them as talking about him, causing him to run away. (Link)
- Out of Focus: There's always at least two different groups active - Tessa and Rachel; Shelly, Amy and/or Ryan, often with Fallon; The Boy, Esther and Sarah - plus others, so some of them lose the limelight for a while. Fallon and Tim seem particularly prone to this.
- Perky Goth: Esther
- The Picture Came With The Frame: Amy falsely assumes that when she finds a photograph of Erin, whom absolutely nobody remembers anymore after she has been Put on a Bus to Hell.
- Poorly Disguised Pilot: More like Well Disguised Pilot! The final chapter serves basically as Chapter -1 for Bad Machinery. See also Fully Absorbed Finale.
- Put on a Bus: Given this comic, it's safe to assume that this has happened to Tim (though he does show up later to drive the girls home from their Atlantis misadventures.) Also Shelley in the end, when she leaves for London and a job at the Ministry Of History. Probably so that she didn't weigh into Bad Machinery. (This was originally intended to set up the next comic Destroy History, where Shelley would roam through time causing and fixing trouble, but by then, Allison decided to retire Shelley instead.)
- Put on a Bus to Hell: One of the most literal examples possible, Erin and Crowley are Put on a Bus when they're sucked into Hell.
- When Rachel and Tessa return from a long absence, they're leading an order of Satanic nuns, who eventually throw off Rachel's bossing them around by burning her alive in a a wicker effigy of a vole.
- Pygmalion Plot: Sort of - In the later chapter "Chilton Takes Charge". Amy finds finds that Ryan's recent poor luck with women has led him to become a depressed drunk with an uncontrolled beard, and she knocks him back into shape and rebuilds his love-life. Three years after the end of SGR (just before Bad Machinery), they got married.
- Really Gets Around: Amy, though it's really an Informed Attribute until "Man-o-War".
- Real Person Fic: An in-universe instance intimidates Shelley.
- Recurring Extra: Rachel's childhood fear, the Krakkagar - man-sized beetles with black carapaces and red eyes, who sometimes appear in the background without explanation. Also the green fairies, some of whom move up to speaking parts.
- Redheaded Hero: Shelley, and she has Green Eyes too. She's not really "fiery" though (unless she's really riled up) - that's more Amy or Fallon.
- Retcon: When Esther and The Boy leave for their respective universities, she tells him "Oxford and Cambridge aren't too far apart". Later the names of the universities were blacked out, presumably so it won't limit the options of where they're going.
- Ret Gone: After Erin was sucked into Hell the people who had known her forgot about her existence.
- Robo Ship:note Envoys from Robotania, whose interests include communism and getting it on with metropolitan buses.
- Ruritania: Parodied with Robotania, where the warbots were sent to live after the fall of the Soviet Union.
- Sanity Slippage: Zombie-Shelley's internal dialogue as she fights her urge to eat people's brains.
- Scenery Censor: Thank heavens for that clock.
- Screening The Call: Riley for Tim, once he's exiled to Wales.
- Sexy Discretion Shot: Shelley is seduced by a secret agent (Not Fallon.)
- Shaped Like Itself:
I haven't been this surprised since I discovered...something desperately unsurprising.
- She Is All Grown Up: Elodie, subverted and just as quickly un-subverted by the sleight-of-hand with Mimi in this strip.
- Also Erin, who is portrayed as attractive but not necessarily stunning, but after drinking a growth potion and gains several inches (in addition to a couple curves) she attracts plenty of attention.
- Shout-Out: Amy challenges Shelley's rosy view of Britain's economy by telling her to look out the window. Outside is Hogath's Gin Lane.
Some people (on the internet) have written to me to say that they think today's comic is some sort of cuss to Questionable Content
. With all the war in the world and the complexities of VAT on my mind, I have no time for that sort of thing. For those of you writing prac. crit. essays
, it's a deeper sideswipe at the word-haemorrhaging quasi-OC
spiel of the self-interested post-teen
- Spin-Off: Was originally intended to be one for the barmaids Tessa and Rachel from Bobbins, but they were buried in an avalanche of I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine until it became essentially a continuation of the earlier strip.
- Spit Take: Invoked:
Esther: Caring comes natural to me. Call me...the queen of hearts.
Sarah: Give me your drink. That calls for a spit-take.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Shelley and Amy. The original protagonists, two students and later barmaids named Tessa and Rachel, were gradually pushed out when the whole Shelley-Ryan-Amy-Tim axis proved much more interesting. Here, after two Shelley-centric chapters they bitch about her for
stealing their spotlight being annoying. After that, they're Demoted To Extras. They get another story, fade out for a while and then Rachel makes her descent into evil.
- Spy Catsuit: Fallon Young, sometimes even when she's not on the job.
- Stylistic Suck: Shauna and Lottie's newsletter shows they have a good grasp of desktop publishing, but not of English language and grammar.
- Sudden Videogame Moment: Occasionally someone will get a little "+10" beside them when they win an argument, or a stream of here during sex. When a trio of Goth girls threaten Amy for chatting up their favourite band, Fighting Game-style health bars appear in the panel (also making it clear that Amy's about to take a beating.)
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: During his weird phase, Tim sent Shelley a blueprint labelled : "(In no way a) Doomsday Device - Please look after this for me."
- Take That: This strip has Shelly winning a large stuffed doll that looks suspiciously like Jar Jar Binks. The very next strip has Shelly and Ryan lighting the doll on fire and tossing it off a bridge while holding an unrelated conversation.
- The Jeremy Kyle Show is scorned when Shelley, Des and his "adopted" mother appear on it.
If you don't have a job, you watch Jeremy Kyle
! Once more than one generation of your family hasn't had a job, you're allowed to go on and get shouted at
- Chapter 22, The Election contains many a thinly-veiled swipe at the Conservative Party, most notably that blue-ribboned corporate candidate Bentley Quorn apparantly represents the "Evil Party".
- That Makes Me Feel Angry: "I'M FURIOUS. WHITE HOT FURY."
- They Would Cut You Up: When Desmond Fishman runs away, Amy and Shelley don't report him missing for fear of this.
- This Is Gonna Suck: Developments at a portal to Hell, at the climax to "Super Crisis Quests":
The Boy: I think the portal just got changed from blow to suck. A subtle, cosmic pun on our situation, best enjoyed from a distance.
- Time Machine: Tim's travel teapot Tim's travel teapot Tim's travel teapot.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Ryan eulogises Shelley this way after the first time she dies.
- Totem Pole Trench:In this strip, two goblins disguise themselves as a human teacher, using this method.
Esther: Did we ever find out exactly what's wrong with Mr. Manuel?
- Undead Tax Exemption: Notably averted. As a zombie, Shelley has trouble getting a job because she's legally dead. Presumably, it's sorted out later.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Many things happen in Tackleford that you'd think people would be more worried about, or that you'd expect to be seen as more important than they are. Just as a particularly obvious example, Fallon accidently opens a window to feudal Japan and spends the next few nights fighting off attacks by ninjas. It's not the start of a story about Japan or the ninjas; just a reason why Shelley and Amy move out.
- Wales: Gets quite a few mentions, from Tessa and Rachel deciding they should flee to Swansea and adopt new identities and later ending up there on their slide into evil, to Tim leaving for exile there and Esther and The Boy going there to meet him (it's raining heavily for most of their time there, but that's Wales for you.)
- Weirdness Magnet: Tackleford in general. To varying degrees, Tim, Ryan, Fallon and Amy, and Shelley very much so.
Fallon: You don't choose action! Action chooses you!
- We Need a Distraction: Multiple times.
- What Did I Do Last Night??: Making bizarre and sinister plans is only a taster; getting in hock to the town's chip-shop owners is worrying.
- Wrong Side of the Tracks: The Swarbrick Estate from the penultimate chapter:
- Copper Edge, where Shelley lodges as a zombie.
Amy: Copper Edge is nice. They rob you, then shoot you so you don't feel bad.
- Yandere: Riley is quite jealous of other ladies who get close to Tim, and helps sabotage his mayoral career to get the two of them exiled to Wales without his friends to distract them. He's not all that upset when he finds out.