These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: For Better or for Worse
Accidental Aesop: It happens a lot. Favorites include: "a woman's duty is to become a Housewife even if you hate it", "children are horrible monsters because you have to take care of them and they want you to show them love and affection instead of spoiling yourself rotten", "men are pigs, but not having a husband or family means you're a complete failure as a woman", and "stealing another woman's husband away is perfectly fine".
Anvilicious / Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Sometimes there are some rather anvilicious moments in the strips...yeah, she can go on Author Filibuster moments, but there have been a couple of these where they really needed to be said. Especially about Grandpa and Shannon; since these actually happen in real life.
Creator's Pet: Freaking Anthony., to the point of fan obsession. It did not help that in her rush to portray Anthony as Liz's destined knight, Johnston made the serious miscalculation of having him literally stride in and rescue Liz from a sexual assault — claiming that he "never had anything to fight for until now!" while he was still married and a new father. He followed that up a strip or two later by taking a badly-shaken Liz not to the police station, but to a park, where he sat her down and begged her to 'wait for him' because he "had no home!" Even among the marriage's most ardent supporters, he never quite lived down the implications of this storyline.
Especially Squick-y in the case of Liz' father John, who dotes on the boy to the point where Ho Yay is the only explanation. In fact, both of Liz's parents go on about Anthony at various points, and Johnston even discussed him in one of her Anthology collections, speaking of how it's those skinny nerdy kids that end up the most attractive and the "best catches" later on. Essentially, Lynn views Anthony as the Ideal Husband. Using Anthony in this manner, on an audience of women tired of the same "Nerd Gets The Girl" stuff from male writers, did not go over well.
Designated Villain: Therese is fairly notable, though it's implied she was always a cold, unemotional woman. Her portrayal as somebody who didn't want to have children makes her villainous in the strips' point-of-view, as was her (justified) jealousy at the attention Anthony had for Elizabeth. Then she got depressed, then finally did something villainous (cheated on Anthony).
Die for Our Ship: Fans want Anthony to die for the various ships of Elizabeth/Interesting Life, Elizabeth/Freedom, Elizabeth/Independence, Elizabeth/Anyone But Anthony... well, honestly, they just want Anthony to die.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Among other references, in one arc, John (based on the artist's husband) gets a mid-life crisis car that the Author Avatar Elly remarks is like the "other woman". Flash forward years later, and we find out Johnston's real life husband had been cheating on her...
It also makes you think about how much John talked up Anthony to Liz and hinted that she should get with him when Anthony was still married to Therese... and then it turns out that the inspiration for John was cheating on his wife.
A more meta one: The title of the strip is taken from a traditional wedding vow: "...for better or for worse, until death do you part." It didn't quite turn out that way between Johnston and her husband.
Informed Wrongness: Elly's self-absorption, both parents' inability to think of April as anything but the naive baby of the family, and just occasionally the reality of the strip itself all conspired to make sure April was always wrong; if it couldn't make her wrong on factual counts, then it would make sure she was at least a wicked child for insisting upon the facts instead of blindly rolling over and taking the blame.
Again, Therese. She's treated as a harpy for telling Anthony to cut up his sandwich or wear different clothes. Yet when he makes her have a baby she doesn't want and move to a place she hates, she's also a harpy for upset by it. The sexist undertones don't help much.
Misaimed Fandom: Therese, Anthony's wife, is described as being jealous to the point of paranoia regarding Anthony's contact with Liz. Unfortunately, since the comic actually shows her as being right about this (and Anthony was hated by a lot of fans anyways), a lot of the readers had sympathy for her and not her husband. Even when the comic ended, despite numerous attempts by the strip to make her more and more nasty, most still felt she was unfairly persecuted.
Michael abandoning his family during the apartment fire in favor of saving his laptop. While Easily Forgiven for this in-strip, a big chunk of the Fandom saw this as his Moral Event Horizon.
Nightmare Fuel: For a while, the digital versions of the strips as seen on the site were actually animated GIFs, with the only animation being the characters' eyes blinking every so often. It was... unsettling.
Grandpa Jim's And I Must Scream after his second stroke. Imagine being perfectly fine mentally, but completely unable to communicate this with anyone, and watching them gleefully interpret all your attempts at telling them how you feel however they please... "Boxcar!" indeed.
The latest of the e-cards that Lynn makes available on site is a Quicktime animation of Farley sneaking into the bathroom, drinking out of the toilet and licking the camera lens; the caption is "I was thinking of you and decided to give you a big, wet kiss."
Lynn's latest attempt to cash in is a series of golf-club covers that have Farley's face on them. The problem is that it looks as if someone had decapitated him, shrunken his head and put it on a stake as a warning to all other sheepdogs.
Purity Sue: Mike gets a $25,000 advance for his first novel, from the first publisher to whom he submits it, despite having no agent (theoretically possible, especially if you're Canadian). Nine short months later (this often takes two years to go from a single manuscript to book stores), his second novel is already a best seller and he has a movie deal lined up. Thing is, the excerpts of the novel on the FBorFW site are just plain terrible...
For the non-writers out there, it's not uncommon for a first novel to go through dozens of publishers, even with an agent to fine-tune it, usually having to go through the same publisher multiple times. And a $25,000 dollar advance is huge, considering $50-60,000 isn't bad for the total payment an author gets from a book.
What really made Michael's book deal totally unbelievable was that, on top of the $25,000 advance, his publisher also gave the book a large expensive publicity campaign. One of the frustrations of the real-life publishing world is that publishers will usually spend lots of money to promote new books by established authors who are already famous (and books by celebrities), but publishers will almost never pay for publicity campaigns for new authors who would actually benefit from the publicity.
Also Anthony, who everyone in the strip considers a saint, the only man Liz should marry, despite never doing anything worthy of being shilled by her parents, her friends, the author... did we mention they even did this kind of thing when he was married to someone else?
Seasonal Rot: the later years of the strip are mostly regarded as lower in quality.
Never Live It Down / Bile Fascination: Almost all of the tropes on this page and a good chunk of the main page are about said later years. The earlier strips weren't actually that bad.
Strangled by the Red String: Elizabeth and Anthony. It was bad enough that Elizabeth dumped two other boyfriends that she had better chemistry with for Anthony. It was worse that Anthony was still married when they got together for good. It was even worse when Anthony's ex-wife was villainized as a horrible woman for daring to avert Stay in the Kitchen and suspecting that Anthony was cheating on her (Even though he was, and even though he promised he'd be a House Husband when he convinced Therese to get pregnant, then went back on his word.) What probably puts it in this trope the most is how everyone talked up this pairing, from Elizabeth's parents to their mutual friends to the author, with the only person with reservations being The Unfavorite of Elizabeth's family. And don't even mention the "goingafter" if you want to avoid a Flame War.
Strawman Has a Point: Johnston spent quite a few strips setting up Therese's unreasonable jealousy and shrewishness. Then spent five times as many strips unintentionally proving every one of Therese's rationales as spot-on.
Thérèse and Anthony again, though it goes both ways a little. Thérèse is portrayed as horrendous for not staying home with her daughter, but going back to work after maternity leave, which is is what Anthony agreed to, not to mention she is making more money than he is, and would be the better provider in a one-income family. Even worse, Thérèse is rightly portrayed as wrong for cheating on Anthony, but Anthony cheated too, if not outright physically. He specifically asked Elizabeth to "wait for him" (right after the Attempted Rape, no less - classy), which is not that much different. He then sits around waiting for Thérèse to cheat on him so he looks like the good one, instead of being an adult and admitting to her that their marriage isn't working. Though this last is Truth in Television - it's a massive step that most people would be reluctant to take.
Also, while John is supposed to an idiotic, conflict-causing MAN, several times he actually comes off as far more rational than Elly. For instance, his attempts to ensure he has life insurance so his family will be taken care of if anything unexpected happens to him is hampered by Elly trying to derail the discussion by sobbing melodramatically and wildly accusing him of trying to scare her.
The Kelpfroths, Michael's crabby Ceiling Banger neighbors, also get upset at them for leaving their kids' toys and strollers in the stairwell and a kiddie pool on the common lawn area, where they're 'eyesores'. However, leaving items on the stairwell actually can create a safety hazard, and kiddie pools can be hazardous to the grass. And when Michael resorted to the childish 'solution' of separating the shared foyer in half in duct tape so they can keep their kids things on 'their side', the Kelpfroths were portrayed as being even more unreasonable for not liking this idea.
Another strip, they're pissed off at the fact the clogged up plumbing requires that their bathroom be torn up. But the clogged plumbing was caused by Michael's family, so they're suffering the inconvenience for their neighbor's inability to keep their kids in line, and yet when they're giving a formal complaint to the landlord, the landlord brushes them off.
Jo Weeder's father is depicted as being a heartless, soulless authoritarian because he pointed out that Weed would have to be exceptionally fortunate to make a career of photography. He joins Mira Sobinski and Gavin Caine in a rogue's gallery of allegedly awful parents whose crime was expecting their children to work for a living instead of passively waiting for miracles to solve their problems like the Pattersons do.
Weed's father was more about the (admittedly true) fact that Weed would almost certainly make less money at photography than he would going into business with his father. His father is wrong for trying to make him do something he hates, but Weed definitely isn't sitting back and expecting miracles - whenever we see him at his job, he's doing his best.
When the Pattersons are moving into their neighbours' house and selling their old house to Michael's family, April takes issue with the fact that she still lives there, too, and they aren't even taking her into consideration. She's distraught with both offers of staying in the house (Wherein she will be Michael's live-in babysitter.) or moving into the basement of the neighbours' house. April's friend tells her that she has a pretty sweet deal out of it no matter what, but in all honest, can you blame April for being distraught, or needing time to get over it? A major decision was made more or less without taking her into consideration.
Tear Jerker: Farley's death was this for some; especially since you don't really expect Newspaper Comics to talk about stuff like this.
Also, the death of Elly's mother was a very long, drawn-out storyline that involved months of strips about her impending death, and the aftermath.
Unfortunate Implications: The token gay character grows up to become a florist. The same character in re-run strips, younger but now re-colored with dark skin (being half-white is less controversial now than in the Eighties), is shown encouraging Michael to shoplift.
Many negative characters are those coming from "broken homes", or had single parents. In one strip, some vandals of the Patterson property were revealed as two kids from "good homes" (Elly was shocked that they could be involved), but a third kid talked them into it.