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YMMV: Chick Tracts

  • Acceptable Professional Targets: College professors, who run the gamut from stick-in-the-mud strawmen to active agents of the unholy but are almost never portrayed as in the right. Inverted, strangely, with doctors, who seem to be the only occupation consistently not in Satan's pocket.
  • Accidental Aesop: The antics in the tracts often send the unintended message of "God is a dick who will send even good people to hell for not accepting my religion, meanwhile serial killers who do get off with no punishment."
    • "Lisa": Finding Christ absolves you of sexually abusing your own daughter
    • "The Contract": Feel free to make a Deal with the Devil; you won't have to hold up your end.
    • "Wounded Children": You should do what a demon tells you. No, really. When some people attack Brian, the demon tells David to help him. Brian dies because he didn't.
    • "Fairy Tales?": The intended message was not to lie to your children, but it comes across as being "always question authority" (especially your parents).
    • "Flight 144": Going to heaven requires that you've accepted Jesus, and no amount of good deeds will change that. However, the protagonists who end up going to hell despite years of humanitarian work are a reverend and his wife, i.e. they must have fulfilled Chick's own requirements for going to heaven by aggressively converting people. As such, it comes off as God punishing them for doing good works.
      • They explicitly avoid the question of how many souls they've saved, implying they haven't really saved that many, not that it would help them anyway since, if they think good deeds are what's going to get them into heaven, they're not following Chick's specific brand of fundamentalist Protestantism and any "soul-converting" they'd do would actually be the Devil's work.
    • "Dark Dungeons": Apparently joining witches covens (who recruit people through D&D, according to this one) grants you actual magical powers. Sign me up!
  • Accidental Innuendo: "But you have been trapped in a dungeon of bondage." And then there's his site, chick.com, which probably gets quite a few hits from people looking for porn.
  • Anvilicious: A deliberate hallmark of his tracts.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise
  • Broken Base: It should go without saying, but lots of Christians — even lots of fundamentalist Christians — consider many of Chick's views to be, at best, a bit out there. Fred Sanders (a Christian theologian and cartoonist) remarks:
    "In the heyday of the Christian bookstore, you could gauge how far to the right a store was by which Chick tracts they would stock. His worst stuff embarrasses even people who would be inclined to agree with him. You can hear them saying, 'Well, heck, Im an anti-Catholic KJV-only separatist fundamentalist just like the next guy, but some of that Chick stuff is just crazy!'
  • Critical Research Failure: "Dark Dungeons" is similar to the film Mazes and Monsters in that it bears little resemblance to how Role-Playing Games are actually played. For example, Marcie is instantly declared dead and does not even get to make a saving throw to see if she survives. Generally, instant deaths in role-playing are reserved for important non-player characters. She is also treated as though she "no longer exists"; it's not like she could take her character and go to another gaming group, or even have someone here pay for a resurrection! Or, y'know, roll up a new character instead of getting booted from the gaming group.
    • This version of Dark Dungeons remains in "Dark Dungeons: The Movie!" as well.
    • In-game death is treated as so permanent that the girl hangs herself over her supposed inability to play the game anymore.
    • Essentially everything that he writes about other sects or religions, especially Catholicism's supposed worldwide conspiracy.
    • In "Big Daddy", Jack tries to debunk evolution. His main source for that tract, Kent Hovind, is an expert on the Bible, not on science, which shows throughout the tract.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The tracts often end up doing this unintentionally. For example the Grim Reaper's hilariously inappropriate "Hi there!".
    • The "Dark Dungeons" movie is doing this quite intentionally. The theatrical trailer ends with the reveal that tabletop games aren't the product of Satan as Chick claims. No they're the product of Cthulhu.
  • Designated Hero: The way God is portrayed here is not exactly as benevolent as the author probably thinks he's supposed to be. Quite the opposite, in fact.
  • Designated Villain: Numerous antagonists. Chick seems to believe that not being Christian automatically makes you a Jerkass, at least in private (which, when you think about it, kind of flies in the face of the "faith not works" message). A good example is Dr. Westhall in "Reverend Wonderful," whose only "crime" is preaching that all religions should live in peace and who immediately does an about-face to a "HAW HAW HAW"-ing douche when the protagonist of the comic tries to convert him.
  • Don't Shoot the Message: A lot of Christians are embarrassed by Chick, even those he doesn't consider "false Christians" by default (e.g. Catholics).
    • On a broader sense, there are times when Chick has a point, but through his use of straw men, it's hard to swallow. For example, some of his tracts can be seen as saying that you shouldn't let peer pressure influence your beliefs.
    • Chick spreads a lot of ideas that many evangelicals would sincerely question (KJV-Onlyism, the idea that rock music is evil, numerous conspiracy theories, etc.) which such evangelicals would criticise in addition to the actual shoddy presentation of and storytelling in the comics. So there is more to it than just this trope.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Fang, a bizarre pet that seems to be a cross between a dog, cat, fox and rabbit, and continually makes background appearances. It's the sabre teeth and a saw-tail. And being the only character who never speaks.
    • The Grim Reaper. "Hi there!"
  • Esoteric Happy Ending:
    • The tracts very frequently end with the death of one or several of the protagonists, so that a "judgment after death" scene can occur. This means that sometimes, protagonists die in cruel or painful ways, but due to the fact that they go to heaven, the tract treats it as a happy, even joyful ending (seen in, e.g. "Somebody Loves Me", "Hard Times" and "Bewitched?"). Special mention to "The Little Sneak", where the eponymous bad boy undergoes a Heel-Face Turn by 'accepting Jesus' — then is struck by lightning and goes to Heaven; next, without any further explanation, his parents die too — so the family is happily reunited in Heaven. The End.
    • Even the people who live after their conversion may have lingering emotional scars, and there's often a fair amount of undeserved forgiveness and avoiding punishment in the name of turning the other cheek. And the tracts welcome the end of days, in which the true believers are whisked away to heaven while the majority suffer, die and go to hell.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Quite frequently. Some specific examples;
    • "The Bully": "Even someone whose bullying caused people to reject Jesus and end up in Hell might repent and go to Heaven."
    • "Fat Cats": "Meet the New Boss, same as the old boss."
      • Additionally, there's an over-arching theme that no government created by man is anything close to acceptable. Rather than do anything to change it, we should wait for the Second Coming of Christ.
    • "The Gunslinger": "Sometimes the villain repents and goes to Heaven while the hero is self-righteous and goes to Hell."
    • "Lisa": Viewing pornography and a breakdown in one's marriage leads to molesting children, among other things—or vice-versa.
      • Also that raping a child, infecting her with an incurable STD, and allowing your neighbor to do the same is perfectly acceptable so long as you become a very certain type of fundamentalist Christian afterwards (hell, you wont even face any real world punishment), wheras not being a very certain type of fundamentalist Christian gets you thrown into hell even if you were a good person in life.
    • "The Littlest Bride": "Muslims are pedophiles, and cultural Values Dissonance is no excuse."
      • Values Dissonance is never an excuse with Chick. Any values he doesn't believe in are Satan's doing, you see.
    • "Why No Revival?": Why aren't things going well for Christianity? Because of Moral Myopia, because Good Is Not Nice, because of Holier Than Thou attitudes... Jack Chick wants his fellow Christians to know: you're falling down on the job here! Even more tellingly, he makes note of the fact that the tract is not for the unsaved, possibly because he doesn't want them to see what's wrong with Christians.
      • Some of the attitudes condemned in that tract are things Chick himself has exhibited in other tracts.
    • "Uninvited": Homosexuals are that way because they were molested as children.
      • From the same it appears to be claiming that getting raped is a sin. But God will still forgive you.
    • The horrifying truth is that these are not Family Unfriendly Aesops by accident, but by choice. Jack Chick really believes these messages.
    • Also God will cause untold death and suffering on innocents because Chick thinks their nation wronged Israel and/or the Jews at some point in their history. He then states that Jesus will personally save Israel during the Apocalypse and will damn all the people who live in nations who have ever (in Chick's mind) wronged Israel and the Jews to hell... yet he explicitly states that the Jews are all damned to hell for not believing in Jesus and killing him on the cross. The implication here being that Jesus wants no harm to come for the Jews because he wants to send them to hell personally.
    • In "Flight 144," as mentioned above, people are judged not by how much good they've done, but by how many people they converted to Christ. This also gives the message that it's pointless to help people in life.
  • Glurge: Oceans and oceans worth! "Somebody Loves Me" is the canonical example, though.
  • Heartwarming Moment: Believe it or not, Chick actually managed to produce a rather touching tract, namely "It's Not Your Fault," a story about genuinely overcoming adversity through finding faith, and containing no racism, conspiracy theories, or ranting about how The End Is Nigh of any kind. It remains So Bad, It's Good due to the ridiculous art and sheer glurge factor (seven-year-olds hanging themselves?), however.
  • Informed Wrongness: Esau's disregard for his birthright is treated as reason enough for God to hate him, but it's never adequately explained as to why it's so bad compared to many characters who did worse and were not hated, or why it excuses Jacob conning him out of it.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jack Chicks version of Satan. A large number of Christians who otherwise would go straight to Heaven are doomed to hell because they are members of the Catholics Church. A religion created by no one else than the devil himself.
  • Mary Sue, mostly Fixer Sue: Bob is one of the very rare examples of being a pure version in his own canon. He doesn't get enough Character Development to overlap with anything else, as he's mostly the person who happens to be here, usually knowing the characters involved somehow or being at the right place at the right time.
  • Memetic Mutation: The images from the Sandwich Chef meme came from this tract.
    • Not memetic itself, but from the same tract, Charlie's expression in the second panel has an uncanny resemblance to the "troll face".
  • Misaimed Fandom: Chick tracts are intended to be passed on indefinitely, but most people who pick them up (and don't throw them away) keep them. Many people actually collect them. Then there are the people who think they are parodies.
    • The "Dark Dungeons" tract is very popular among role-playing gamers, and on gaming message boards it's not uncommon for people to make jokes about Black Leaf and "real magic."
  • Moral Event Horizon: Averted in Chick's eyes, as utterly terrible people can convert and go to heaven. Whether the readers or the characters can forgive those people is another question, though.
  • Music to Invade Poland to: The Deutschlandlied is performed by Neo-Nazis in "Holocaust".
  • Narm: Heck, there's so many that Jack Chick ended up getting his own page.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The Grim Reaper, who was popular enough that he got a cameo in a later tract and is probably the only Chick Tract character that everyone actually likes.
  • Poe's Law: Some people, including some Christians, suspect that these comics are Stealth Parodies.
  • Snark Bait: Oooooohhhh yeeeeaaaah.
  • So Bad, It's Good: All of them. Every last one. Cheesy writing, worse art, Double Standards and cringeworthy stereotypes abound, and yet it's impossible to look away. The number of blogs dedicated to ripping these things apart is literally in the double digits, and general consensus among them is that "Dark Dungeons" is the "best" of the lot.
  • Strawman Has a Point: In "Somebody Goofed" as well as the "edited for black audiences" version "Oops!", a man named Bobby overdoses on speed and as his friends and family are gathered around, a Christian shows up to tell them all about how Bobby is burning in Hell right now. When another man shows up to stop him we're supposed to side with the Christian. Of course, whether the Christian is right or not, moments after the death of a loved one is usually not the best time to preach to people (let alone say he's suffering eternal damnation for his choices), making the other man totally justified in trying to shut him up. Less justified, but still understandable is when he physically assaults the Christian.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: A likely reaction from some Christian critics- sure he may be trying to present the gospel, but in doing so invokes every bad fundamentalist cliche in the book.
  • Stop Helping Me!: Needless to say most Christians would rather not receive help from a man who's convinced that the Catholic church is at the head of a global Ancient Conspiracy trying to sell the world to Satan.
  • Ugly Cute: Demons in general are portrayed as crankily incompetent Card-Carrying Villains who look like grotesque Muppets. The gay demons in "Birds and the Bees", though, cross the line from goofy and non-threatening to downright adorable. Seriously, look at panel six.
    • The demon befriending David in "Wounded Children" is downright handsome. Possibly too much so, as this is one tract since recalled by Chick himself.
    • Fang.
  • Unacceptable Targets: Catholicism and Judaism. By the way, there is such a thing as Messianic Jews.
  • Unfortunate Implications: The tract "The Little Sneak" of the "Black Tract" series is said to be for "older children". The whole story revolves around a family living in a straw-and-mud hut, where the boy steals the family savings and buries it in the backyard for no apparent reason. The entire tract is told with NO WORDS WHATSOEVER. (Except "No!")
    • One could argue that the very fact that there is a separate tract series just for black people is this trope.
    • Numerous tracts imply or even outright state that, essentially, the afterlife is the only life that matters, which carries a lot of creepy, borderline-nihilistic connotations. Perhaps most blatant in "The Walking Dead," which includes an explicit comparison of Earthly life to zombification.note 
    • Chick seems to believe in the Divine Right of Kings or something similar, as a few tracts state that authority is vested by God and authority figures, including dictators, are never to be rebelled against. This comes across in his portrayal of God Himself, too; quite often he seems to fail to make his position seem appealing at all, instead painting God as a tyrant who should be followed simply because He's too powerful to resist.
    • Chick advocates physical abuse in disciplining children in several tracts, and a recurring feature of his end-time dystopias is that even scolding a child has been made illegal, which is portrayed in such a way that makes it clear Chick wishes beating one was still legal, too. He never gets around to showing how a "good Christian" family would discipline their children, though.
    • In the notorious "Lisa" tract it is shown that a man who repeatedly raped his young daughter, pimped her out to her neighbour, and infected her with an incurable STD escapes all consequences both in the afterlife (due to him saying chick's magic words) and in real life as the doctor who finds all this out lets him get away scott free because the man converted, without even contacting the authorities. Similarly the mother who both ignored this abuse and physically and emotionally abused the child herself gets away with it due to her saying the magic words as well.
    • Averted with the most obviously loathesome of Chick's "Aesops" as the implications that 99.99% of humanity are evil, hateful scumbags going straight to hell for being non-christian, gay, the wrong kind of christian, a believer in basic sciences, a celebrator of halloween, someone who enjoys pretty much any work of fiction even by avowed protestants (i.e. C.S Lewis), listening to music, playing boardgames, not supporting Israel enough (even though the Jews themselves are definitely going to hell), resisting a dictator, being a child who believes in Santa or the Easter bunny, anyone who does anything Jack Chick happens to disapprove of, etc, are entirely intentional due to the author's fervent belief that everyone he hates will be punished by god.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Most of Chick's "villains" and jerkasses are a lot more understandable than Chick probably meant them to be, since they tend to speak out against things like bigotry, insensitivity, and raging fundamentalism. This leads directly into...
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Most of the protagonists in the tracts are insensitive assholes at best, downright self-absorbed, sociopathic fundamentalists at worst.
  • Values Dissonance: The extreme fundamentalist rhetoric clashes with many people harder than a fly clashes with the windshield of a car on a highway. Including the vast majority of Christians, as they typically don't hate everyone. Even those who do hate the tracts.
    • In The Traitor, an in-universe example comes up when the Hindu priest Ramu asks the Christian protagonist about how powerful Jesus is, asking about traits such as how many heads he has, what weapon he uses and the sacrifices he demands. It also falls into Unfortunate Implications by making Ramu (and Hindus as a whole, by extension) seem barbaric.
    • Chick's feeling the need to have special "black editions" of tracts.
      Adapted for black audiences.
      • The implication being that black people are so different they need their own special versions of tracts already made. Bonus for Chick in-that he doesn't have to come up with any new material, he just makes the good artists make new drawings for them.
      • Your Big Moment "is drawn specifically for black women" and You Have a Date is "tailored for women." They're both adaptations of This Was Your Life which already had a "black adaptation" in It's Your Life.
  • The Woobie: Quite a few of them, in fact. The protagonists of "Unloved", "Somebody Loves Me", "Hard Times", "Lisa", and "The Poor Little Witch" — to name a few. Also, the various characters who end up being tossed into hell could be considered unintentional examples of this trope.note 
    • The couple from "Flight 144" who spent 50 years of their lives improving those of thousands of people in Africa, who get tossed into hell because they don't believe in Chick's particular section of Christianity. God Is Evil indeed.
    • Jerkass Woobie: Bruce in "Fallen." Granted, he's abrasive to others and displays indications of being an Ungrateful Bastard at times, but since the tract focuses on him getting his comeuppance rather than what he did to deserve it, his suffering can seem unfair. He also decides to wait to consider accepting Jesus, instead of rejecting Him outright, and ends up going to Hell merely for waiting.

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