YMMV: El Goonish Shive

  • Accidental Innuendo:
    Grace: (to Sarah) The duck! He's magic you can do!
    Demonic Duck: Excuse me?
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Arc Fatigue: Utterly infamous for this. Storylines can go on for years in this comic, despite only taking place over a few days. Only about three or four months (not including flashbacks) have passed despite the comic having been around since 2002.
    • The "Grace's Birthday Party" storyline is a particularly egregious example. Between the Arc Fatigue and the Schedule Slip, the events of a single evening took sixteen months.
    • The New and Old Flames portion of Bringing Silly Back ran for one month shy of a year. Add in Indiana Elliot, Hammerchlorians and the two small T-Minus entries and you have an arc that ran for just short of a year and a half real time.
    • Death Sentence had a bad habit of dragging along; not to mention the central premise was flawed to begin with, with Grace and Raven outright admitting it would probably be kinder to simply kill the boar, considering they're ecologically damaging and huge pests. Though given the eventual reveal that Rhoda is another person empowered without her knowledge, it's really a matter of mileage with this one. While it can be argued that it dragged a bit, Grace and Raven openly communicated about magical stuff, and it's clear that ANYONE could have magical powers without knowing it.
  • Base Breaker: Ashley. Some like her for being a good match for Elliot and a generally decent person, including towards her own seeming romantic rival. Others feel Dan is trying a little too hard to make her The Woobie.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Schedule Slip trouble + Dan Shive's love for Chekhov's Gun = we should probably give up on expecting getting answers to all of the questions.
  • Complete Monster: Damien is a sadistic mass-murderer who regularly abused those under his care and planned to not only "breed" with Grace to create an army, but also to use said army to commit mass genocide on the entire human race. The closest thing he has to a Freudian Excuse, his belief that he is a God and can therefore do anything he wants, simply doesn't hold up under the weight of his crimes. Especially when one takes into account the obvious pleasure he takes in his actions.
  • Counterpart Comparison: There are a lot of similarities between Ellen and Fluttercruel from the Pony POV Series. Both of them began their lives as copies of a main character, both of them initially believed that this origin made them worthless and acted hostile, violent and suicidal as a result. To their surprise however, both of them were accepted by the people they were copied from, who viewed them not as merely clones but as a member of their family, and eventual became a valued member of the cast.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Chika won this status after five Q&A comics with her, even despite general "enough of Q&A" reaction on EGS forum. The Demonic Duck, who went from a convenient plot device to a minor character, may also qualify.
    • Lord Tedd even more so, in spite of being one of the most mysterious figures in the series.
    • Ashley has had very little screen time to date, even considering her status as a newer character. Despite this, her Genki Girl disposition, highly emotive face, and tendency to be the Plucky Comic Relief in already comedic situations has made her a fan favorite almost instantly.
  • Epileptic Trees: Lots of them, Dan has made fun of this in the Sketchbook.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: "Death Sentence" has one. Blind idealism and hope is not an option, because Reality Ensues. That doesn't mean trying is futile, but it can be misguided, even harmful.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: Members of the fandom are dubbed 'bunnies,' a phenomenon explained here.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • As the Sarah/Elliot ship lost steam, the audience began to support folding Sarah into the still-popular Grace/Tedd ship, as well as pairing Elliot with Susan.
    • One of the most popular pairings in the fandom is between Elliot and Justin, as evidenced during a sketchbook where Dan asked his fans to choose which two of his characters would be drawn kissing ... Elliot and Justin won by a landslide!
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • When Susan starts to explain the long-unknown events that occurred in France, she alludes to the not-vampire that's involved, when Grace calls her "Susan the Vampire Slayer". Yeah, guess how that story ended.
    • A lighter example occurs when Ellen laughs at the revelation that Elliot must release his magic buildup by turning into a girl, while she just has to shoot beams. Then she learns that she only has to do so a couple times each morning while Elliot has to transform every six hours and go to sleep transformed. She feels so guilty that Elliot has to encourage her to joke about it.
    • Panel 2 of this comic has Ed making a joke about son's tendency for transformation. Funny then, not so funny when the same scene is part of a montage showing his disapproval of Tedd's gender fluidity.
  • Furry Fandom: A segment of the fanbase and heavily played up in early arcs. Hasn't come up as much in later years as Shive grew out of the fandom.
  • Genius Bonus: In a filler comic, the Demonic Duck informs Dan that he's going to Australia to discover his roots. There is fossil evidence of a large, prehistoric bird that lived in Australia which has come to be known as the "Demon Duck of Doom".
  • Growing the Beard: The first few strips served as a mildly hilarious introduction to the characters with No Fourth Wall. The beard stated to grow during the Sister arc and finished by the end of the Painted Black arc or the end of Grace's Birthday Party depending on who you ask.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: This strip, which shows why Tedd is so reluctant to tell his father about his magic mark and possibly about being genderfluid, as well, makes a lot of Mr. Verres's comments about Tedd's penchant for turning himself into a girl considerably less funny.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Some early strips showed Grace playing an Expy of Super Smash Bros. using a Pikachu Expy that was a squirrel instead of a mouse. Come the 4th generation of Pokémon games and we now have Parichisu, an electric squirrel.
  • Ho Yay: There are strong implication that George is gay, and the essentially certain revelation that Luke is...to the point that Grace and Sarah have already started shipping them.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Elliot, Elliot, ELLIOT. Fandom has shipped him with Justin and Tedd. In-Universe, now that his relationship with Sarah is over he has being Ship Teased with Susan, Diane and Ashley. And not to mention his Erotic Dreaming involving girls who're already in a relationship, like Grace, Nanase and even Catalina claiming to be his lover.
  • Les Yay: It's common enough that some fans have taken to calling it "OMG LESBIANS!" whenever it shows up as a means of criticizing its frequency.
  • Magnificent Bastard: A strong case could be made for "Not-Tengu" being one of these. He succesfully executes multiple Batman and Xanatos Gambits during the course of his first appearance and even shows skill at Xanatos Speed Chess keeping his cool even when faced with setbacks and finding ways to turn those setbacks too his advantage.
  • Mary Sue:
    • Grace most often gets accused of this as her adorable cuteness and prettiness and all around goodness is a constant thing in comics she appears in. She's so cute that she can get characters to do things they might not want to do by giving puppy dog eyes and anyone who's mean to her is seen as being irredeemably mean or evil. Her faults are things like clumsiness or naivete or hyperactivity that serve only to make her cuter and more lovable and she's one of the most powerful characters in the series. On top of it Dan has "jokingly" said before that hating Grace makes you evil. All of these have earned her the derisive of name of Gracie Sue among a segment of the fandom.
    • This comic lampshades Nanase's status as one as well.
  • Memetic Badass: Starting with the fight with the fire monster, the author began ascribing this status to Justin.
  • Moe:
    • Sarah, Rhoda, Grace, Catalina to a lesser extent, even Susan can be. On the (usually) male side, Tedd and Justin.
    • Nanase's hairstyle in Dawn of a New Era also evokes this, at least to Word of God.
  • Narm: The page where the mysterious entity that's been following the main cast and manipulating Magus reveals her name is meant to be a dark, climactic scene, but the gravity of the moment is somewhat spoiled by the fact that her self-appointed moniker sounds like it came straight out of My Immortal. For the record, it's Pandora Chaos Raven.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • Chaos' manifestation on the physical plane will give you chills with her first appearance. When unfocused her image will haunt your nightmares forever. Which makes the revelation that she's the mother of a grumpy old history teacher all the more shocking.
    • Also the end of the Sister II arc: Holy crap, that is one Creepy Child. The fact that Dan went on to say that Rhoda and Carol weren't hurt helped somewhat, but it was still enough to seriously freak out some people.
    • And now she's returned, after being completely absent for several years of real time. And in the middle of what was thought to be a filler arc, too. Just her being there, not saying anything, just observing, is enough to send shivers down your spine.
    • No to mention "whatever the hell this thing is "
    • Susan's face in the second to last panel here isn't as strong as the others, but is still pretty damn scary.
    • "Family Tree" initially seems to be full of typical, if mind-altering, Gender Bender fun. Then Diana come back to grab a slice of pizza. Things quickly descend into horror fuel as we watch her slowly realize something's wrong. And by something wrong, we mean the terror in eyes as she tries to get her sister to remember that no, everyone is not a girl and please stop worshipping her and calling her "lord". Really, this is possibly the comic's darkest, most terrifying arc yet. The whole thing reads like a Lovecraftian Survival Horror. Then Tengu shows up. For extra horror: Regardless of whatever gender the guests originally were, they're all gradually turning into clones of Nanase. Tengu is thorough in his attempt at identity murder.
  • OT3: Grace/Tedd/Sara, the ship started when Sarah became Tedds assistant and fan love for the ship has grown and grown. There is also quite a bit of actual ship tease for it too. Like in the early comic when Grace kissed Sarah after Tedd told her too, and then scenes like this are fairly common for the three after Sarah joined them. Tedd accidentally kissed Sarah, because she was transformed into Grace. Tedd also mentions that he, Grace, and Sarah have all seen each other naked a lot due to clothing damage being a frequent result of their experiments.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Once his magical powers are revealed, bunnies' opinion on Noah has become... strong.
    • Ellen has always had some of this.
    • Grace has gained her share of haters ever since the birthday party, where her Mary Sue tendencies were kicked into high gear.
    • Melissa used to be this as well, before character development and several points of likability came to get her Rescued from the Scrappy Heap.
    • All of these characters do have fans, however, and there are no straight out universally hated Scrapies in the comic, however.
  • Ship Sinking: Elliot and Justin are still a popular couple for the shippers, but as the comic progresses, there have been a number of things that the author has done to sink this ship, not limited to basically hammering that Elliot is straight with no gay leanings whatsoever, and having Justin seemingly get over his crush on Elliot off-screen.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • With the raising Ship Tease between Elliot and Susan, there have been mixed reactions. Elliot is the perfect candidate as Susan's potential love interest, since he literally "fails at perversion" and Susan's looking for a good man. But Elliot is already in a relationship with Sarah, Susan's best friend, so she's in risk to fall into a Yoko Oh No situation. In-universe, Sarah decides to break up with Elliot shortly before Elliot realizes she's like a sister to him, and she has no problem just handing him off to Susan (though she doesn't think it's likely).
    • And with that particular combat resolved, it's now a bit of an In-Universe race between Susan and her identical twin Diane.
  • Snark Bait: There are a lot of people who seemingly read the comic in order to bash on the creator suffering from The Chris Carter Effect and a massive Kudzu Plot, as well as mock the Furry Fandom. Just read the reviews if you you fail to believe.
  • Squick:
    • The reason Damien wanted Grace so badly was so he could use her for breeding.
    • Never mind the Fridge Horror of the Family Tree arc. Punch spiking is one thing, but turning everyone into women, who are absolutely submissive and readily calling people their lord? That's pretty damn icky.
  • Ugly Cute: Chaos in her Creepy Child form.
  • The Woobie:
    • Tedd, Grace, Susan, Justin, Rhoda, and Dex are prime examples. Especially Grace.
    • One Way Road basically is Tedd with his Woobie-ness cranked Up to Eleven.