YMMV: Gunnerkrigg Court

  • Arc Fatigue:
    • Chapter 40 ("The Stone") drew just as many "we get it already, she's OLD" comments from the reader base as "oh wow, shiny". They mostly died down post-flashback sequence, though.
    • Chapter 51 ("The Tree") seems to be heading this way as well, not because it's boring (although it does quickly descend into that) but because it's absolutely excruciating to watch Annie suffer so much at the hands of her father, who seems to be pulling her life apart piece by piece with each new page adding a new hit.
    • Subsequently Chapter 52 ("Sneak") is continuing the trend, still with no hint of why Tony is doing all of this, not even when directly confronted by the Donlans, brushing off their questions with claims about not being able to discuss it openly, and then the very last page of the chapter showing Annie is up to something with her fire elemental form.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Attempts to decipher Anthony Carver's motivations have yielded this, ranging anywhere between attempting to do right by Annie in the worst possible way to deliberately tormenting her for fun and/or plotting to kill her.
  • Base Breaker: Per Alternate Character Interpretation above, Anthony is proving to be a highly divisive character, as his stoic demeanor betrays little of his intentions or motives, causing some fans to try to find some kind of logic in his actions while others unconditionally condemn him.
  • Broken Base: Coyote and Jones' accounts of the original conflict between Gunnerkrigg Court and the Gillitie Wood has proven divisive, with some fans interpreting both parties' vague statements as "Freethinkers vs luddites" while others suggest it's a case of "For Science! vs their victims". Considering these two accounts are the only information we have on it in the first place, there's lots of room for interpretation.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Anthony Carver has drawn comparisons with several characters: Severus Snape for being a Sadist Teacher working at a supernatural school who singles out the child of the woman they loved, Greg Universe for having to watch his wife die because due to non-human biology, she and their child couldn't both exist, and Gendo Ikari due to similar parental abandonment, enigmatic motives, and memetic-level failure as a parent.
    • There's also Detective Monk: Brilliant but neurotic to the point of (perceived) rudeness or coldness, their symptoms were calmed by their loving wives (sometimes drastically so — a flashback late in the series of how cheerful and friendly Monk used to be was jarring); unfortunately their wives died and the current number of people they feel that comfortable around with is very low (Monk has no one; Tony is only comfortable around Donny and only when they're alone), although they might get a second chance with their daughters, who are very similar to their wives — Anthony has Annie and Monk meets his wife's daughter who she gave up for adoption.
  • Creator Worship: Reached its most visible height when Tom opened a Tumblr account for GKC artwork and drawings he made. The first post was full of worshiping from other Tumblr users.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: When Annie cut off her hair to separate from her emotions, she didn't do a very good job, and had to get it cut by a robot designed for the task. While this was being done, she could see the flames of her elemental spirit engulfing her, and everything else, she wore a completely unfazed expression. Jones has never been so funny.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The instant canon showed that Anthony feels guilty over Surma's death, fans started claiming that this guilt note  justifies his abandonment of Annie and utter disregard for her feelings.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Zimmy and Gamma, and Red and Blue, are all well liked characters- expect forums to explode in squees anytime they show up.
    • The laser robot cows.
    • Whatever Jones's deal is, the fandom loves her.
    • Jack was very popular with fans until his Kick the Dog moment. And now that it's been revealed that it wasn't really him doing the kicking, he's starting to regain said popularity. And judging from a lot of fan reactions, some fans were pretty much cheering Jack on after glibly and handily he told off Annie for trying to set him up just to shoot him down.
    • Parley.
    • Basil. Only appeared in the second chapter, and had a cameo in Chapter 32.
    • For all of his terribleness, Boxbot has a noticeable following. He even got an entry in the GKC wiki before Tom himself!
    • Shadow and Robot are pretty popular for being Those Two Guys and more recently being an apparently Straight Gay couple.
    • Paz was already a pretty popular character but no more than Kat and Annie's other classmates. Catalyst shot her popularity through the roof for being Kat's Closet Key.
    • Ironically despite being a new character and in direct opposition of a popular ship, Jenny the teenage witch (Jack's new girlfriend) has become very popular.
  • Epileptic Trees: Half the reason for posting on the forum. So common that Tom occasionally calls them out in The Rant.
    Tom: In my mind I am picturing a dart board with every available space riddled with darts.

    Tom: Those guys in panel 4 are not Aly, and they are not Annie's dad in disguise, nor are they the girl from the photo, or transgendred clones of Annie's mom sent back in time to act as spies.
  • Genius Bonus: The name of one of the faeries in City Face #4 is named Mustard Seed. One of fairy queen Titania's servants is also named Mustardseed. Coincidence?
    • These details are everywhere in this comic. Apart from the myriad alchemical symbols and Meaningful Names around the story, several times there have been cameos of mythological characters who briefly drop in, but are never formally introduced. The fanbase has invariably managed to discover their identities from tiny hints of their appearance and behaviour.
  • Growing the Beard: Somewhere around Chapter 24 the quality of the dialogue and story get much better.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Any mention of just how much Annie resembles her mother seems a bit more tragic given The Reveal in Chapter 31.
    • This adorable page- has been becoming aggressively harsher with the increasingly alarming robot cult that's sprung up as a result of Robot's preaching through the chapters since, most recently resulting in Robot and the Seraphs being responsible for the terror and violence in The Torn Sea, and declaring it 'worth it'.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Zimmy's life sucks. She is an obnoxious jerk nevertheless.
    • Ysengrin.
  • Ho Yay: Oh the volumes and volumes of Les Yay between Annie and Kat.
    • Taken Up to Eleven in the Year 9 chapters thus far, which have had Kat acting like a scorned lover, getting concerned about a potential boyfriend for Annie, and being Mistaken for Gay by Paz and Renard both.
    • Chapter 38 takes it even further by not just teasing Kat and Annie a lot (thats Annies hand at the top) but also Zimmy and Gamma.
    • Taken to new heights in Catalyst when Paz reveals that she was the one that sent the love letter to Kat, having apparently changed her mind since Chapter 34. See here. And in the same chapter we find out Kat has changed her mind too as well.
    • Then there's this page of "Annie in the Forest" side story.
    • Jenny's constant use of the British euphemism "My love" when refering to Annie.
    • And going in the other direction, Shadow and Robot end up being a Beta Couple by Chapter 41.
  • Manipulative Bastard / Magnificent Bastard: Coyote. He never loses control of the situation no matter what it is, and he's definitely been manipulating Ysengrin, Reynardine, and Antimony for quite some time, which could easily be a sign of a hidden agenda. His seeming dislike of the Court and the fact that he's a Trickster God don't help his case.
  • Mary Sue: From Tom's twitter:
    "Almost every character I've drawn in my comic has been labeled as my stand-in, mary sue, sexual fetish, dream wish fulfillment. It gets old."
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • The chickcharney from Chapter 42 has been reinvisioned as a colossal Troll on the comic forums and photoplasties of his antics have been dubbed as "charndickery".
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Diego (and the rest of the Court) crossed it in Chapter 25 with the revelation of what was done to Jeanne.
    • Some felt that Jack crossed the line somewhere in Ch 27. Not Himself applies, however. In fact it may be more accurate to say the Whitelegs possessing him was the one who crossed the line.
    • The revelation that Coyote has been inflicting Laser-Guided Amnesia on Ysengrin for an unspecified amount of time can be considered this. And if this wasn't enough, the revelation that he also convinced Reynardine to possess Daniel in his bid to court Surma despite his (wholly accurate) concerns that this might kill Daniel, leading to the chain of events that would leave Reynardine a prisoner of the Court thoroughly confirms that Coyote is not anyone's friend.
  • Narm:
    • The events of Chapters 51 and 52. Anthony returns and just starts tearing Antimony's life apart for no readily apparent reason, with every new page just piling it on and piling it on. At first one might call it a compelling example of emotional abuse, but after a certain point it stops having any real meaning and just becomes a joke.
    • Lots of scenes throughout the comic often have characters use simplistic Art Shifted facial expressions. When the tone is light, it can be forgivable, but if you're supposed to actually care about the effects of what's happening on the characters, it kills the mood.
  • Never Live It Down: There are readers who will never seem to be able to live down not recognizing Eglamore when he showed up in Chapter 17. Now, almost every time he shows up, Tom feels the need to specifically explain who he is.
  • Nobody Thinks It Will Work: The feeling a lot of Fans have about Kat and Paz's relationship is that it's cute, but it won't last.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Hetty only appears in one chapter, but she makes quite an impression.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Chapter 53 seems to have started to redeem Anthony in the eyes of some readers, as he blames himself for Surma dying, and maims himself to try and bring her back, almost killing Antimony in the process as the psychopomps were "economical with the truth", as Tom puts it. Some people think that this makes him worse, however, as this seems to remove any justification for the fact that he treats Antimony with a cruel, borderline contemptuous attitude.
  • The Scrappy: Anthony Carver, not starting with, but most prominently following, Chapter 51, Page 2. He may be possibly the most hated character in the comic. Even the Gunnerkrigg Court Wiki temporarily put him under the "terrible" character tab alongside Boxbot.
    KatPaz: You.... I will.... burn his face off. Now. Immediately. Kat. Go. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
    Ayana: I want to strike him so viciously at the moment... so very viciously. I don't think I've ever felt this sort of very real anger at a comic character before. Well done Tom. I also enjoy the expression on Williams face.
    spiritdragon: Christ on a cracker, that guy needs another punch to the face!
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Some of the debates between Kat/Annie and Annie/Jack shippers have gotten pretty nasty, never mind that only very opaque hints have been given for either possibility in the comic itself, and romantic relationships have never been a significant focus of the story.
    • Kat/Paz vs. Kat/Annie is in full swing now and getting pretty vicious.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped:
    • The two main anvils of both parts of Spring Heeled (chapters 27 and 28) is that you shouldn't take all the problems for yourself, and that you shouldn't distrust adults just because one of them did something bad to you. Annie spends the entirety of both episodes dealing with Jack's possession by the etheric spider, without telling anyone about the fact. Once Jack activates the Power Station, traps Reynardine with a device built by the Donlans and escapes, Jones makes her appearance. Once they're all back in the Court, she lets Annie deal with Jack's situation, only for Jones to give Annie a lesson based on this anvil, after all is said and done:
    Jones: If you knew about Jack's condition, you should have told someone about it. I don't want you to lose your initiative, Antimony, but you should know that you don't have to deal with everything by yourself.
    • Also, near the end of Chapter 28: Spring Heeled: part II, there's this bonus anvil about labeling others based on ignorance, fear and misunderstanding.
    Jones: Zimmy keeps people at arm's length because she knows she is a danger to those around her. She can hardly be blamed for what she is.
    Reynardine: A demon is what she is.
    Jones: A label commonly applied to what is feared and misunderstood. Don't forget that you are known as "the demon Renard" to many people.
    • Chapter 29: A Bad Start. Kat (still affected by the events of Chapter 25: Sky Watcher And The Angel) rescues a pigeon. She then brings it to Paz, where she and another Robot do some tests on him. Later, they enter into a room with many cells holding abandoned mice, and Kat breaks herself in tears. Cue this anvil dropped in dialogue form over pages 753 and 754:
    Kat: Paz, how can you work in a place like this!? Knowing what they do!
    Paz: They are not all used for testing! And many of the tests are non-invasive! They study behaviour and learning patterns...
    Kat: This doesn't make it better! This place... the whole Court... they just do what's best for themselves. They don't care what happens to anyone else.
    Paz: Kat, I know is not perfect. I wish for a day we didn't need to keep these mice... but until then, I try to make life comfortable for them. And there are very strict rules and limitations. Is all very tightly self-regulated.
    Kat: Self-regulated?! That just means they can do what they want!
    Paz: No! You see, to do that, they would have to get through me first. The Court isn't a big monster that does as it pleases. Es a collection of people, working to do what they think is right. And, over time, other people see what is wrong, what mistakes were made, and work hard to fix them. I cry too when I find this place. But I ask to help. To change and make things better.
    Kat: What's the use!? The entire process is flawed. You can't just make it better.
    Paz: ¿Y el pichón? That tiny, little, ugly thing? Why did you bring it here? You could have left it to die. Maybe even kill it yourself to get rid of the problem. Is just a pigeon. Nobody would know, or care.
    Kat: Whaaa?! I-I could never do that!
    Paz: Thas right! And with your help, and bobby and me, he will grow up to be beautiful.
    • At the end of Chapter 30: The Coward Heart, Parley learnt two lessons: don't be shy to admit your own feelings to the ones you love, and acting in a rude way achieves nothing.
    • Chapter 38:
    Zimmy: You can't always run from what scares ya.
    • A major character enters a same-gender relationship and much of chapter 45 is devoted to a pep talk about embracing her orientation when her friend appears to react poorly to the news. Some queer fans didn't like that her sexuality was being treated as an Issue in a fantastical world where love between a robot and a shadow is handled casually, and would have preferred for such a relationship to be treated as normal and unremarkable; but others liked that the comic addressed concerns that the character would almost certainly have in real life and appreciated the message sent to Gunnerkrigg's young adult fanbase. It also helps that neither Annie nor Renard see Kat and Paz's relationship as weird, Renard is happy as along as Kat is and Annie was worried that she would no longer be an important part of Kat's world.
    • Following the backlash at Chapter 51's tonal shift due to Anthony's return and his emotional abuse of Antimony, Tom posted this series of Tweets:
    If a story makes you feel happy, sad, angry, confused, unsure, etc, please remember the writer has done that intentionally. That's their job
    Expecting every story to elicit only positive emotions, like happiness, does nobody any favours. It's not how you grow as a person.
    Also, unless you commission someone to write a story for you alone, there is no way a story can be tailored to your specific comfort zone.
    Look, life isn't a cake. Sometimes you have to put a dead mouse in there. That's just how you make a good cake.
    For clarification: no of course I'M not trying to grow my audience as people. I'm just telling a story where things happen.
    People are free to do as they please. Look at what is presented and evaluate it yourself. Dont expect other people to do it for you.
    • From Chapter 53: Having valid/sympathetic/tragic reasons for the horrible things you do - like abandoning your daughter for three years and then being emotionally abusive to her upon your unexpected return - isn't an excuse for doing them in the first place. Also, parents are people too, for better or worse.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: See the Crowning Moment of Heartwarming page. The same scenes that make some readers go "awwww" make others go "ewwww."
  • Tear Jerker: Has its own page.
  • Ugly Cute: Zimmy with her "many, many fine sharp fangs", gunk-covered red eyes and so on, can be adorable to an absurd degree. Tom even made a wallpaper with Zimmy and a male avatar for him self in the same style.
    • She's especially adorable here and here.
    • Mind you, this only counts for her with the dark matter in her eyes. Zimmy with her normal red eyes is not Ugly Cute, it is just Cute.
  • Uncanny Valley: Anthony Carver. His face is far more detailed than any of the other characters in the comic, which gives him a distinctly off-putting appearance. His face in the second-to-last panel on this page is borderline Nightmare Fuel material. This is likely intentional, meant to alienate the reader from his character and distrust him.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Court may be this (and by extension, the Forest the opposite trope) depending on how you interpret the conflict between it and the Forest. It began when the humans wanted to try to understand and control the Etheric, while the creatures of the Forest were content to leave it to A Wizard Did It, which essentially means their war could be seen as one between freethinkers on one side and luddites on the other.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Shell from this page is so androgynous that some readers only noticed she was female from the (very) slight curves of her body and from the female cut (right lapel over left) of her suit.
  • What an Idiot:
    • In response to her father's return and his increasingly Jerk Ass-ish behavior, Annie, rather than at least try to deal with her anger and sadness, or perhaps seek consolation and advice from a sympathetic party, instead chooses to follow the advice of Ysengrin, whose sanity is questionable at the best of times, and uses her etheric powers to remove her negative emotions entirely and manifest them into a separate entity.
    • She gets trumped by Anthony himself, who doesn't have her excuses of youth and abandonment issues. You would think that years at the Court in the company of powerful supernatural beings, surrounded by the presence of Magitek and living through logically inexplicable events would have given a person a heads-up about the dangers of hubris and tampering with forces that you don't understand. So what does Mr. Carver do? Hunts down magical beings that they have no experience with (and, in fact has previously scorned if Jones is to be believed), putting himself through hell to do so — all in order to defy death, which he should know is a ludicrous and dangerous goal. He then takes said supernatural beings them absolutely at their word without pausing to think for a moment that this could be a trap. The result? He amputates his own arm and subsequently nearly murders his daughter by sheer accident! And just to add the finishing touches to this exercise in ignorance, it doesn't seem to have occurred to him that Annie just might know a thing or two about those supernatural beings her father was looking for, and all of this could have been prevented if Anthony had bothered to talk to her before dumping her in his old school without explanation for three years. In short, the whole thing is like desperately trekking through hostile terrain in search of food, only to get home, empty-handed and maimed, and find that your roommates have had pizza delivered while you were out — all because you didn't bother to tell them where you were going.
  • The Woobie:
    • Antimony has pretty much qualified from the whole series. Her mother died when she was young, her father is away for unspecified reasons while she's at the Court. Then we find out that the reason her mother died is because of Annie - owing to a distant ancestor being a fire spirit, when a woman in her family has a child some sort of "inner fire" that keeps them alive in passed from mother to daughter. Chapter 51 has gotten Annie a lot of Woobie points in the eyes of many fans, as her father's return and his installment as a teacher has him hit a 9.9 on the Jerk Ass scale by being unnecessarily cold and asshole-ish in dispensing punishments.
    • Jeanne. First she was separated from her lover, then she was imprisoned in some manner in the Court, then her first bit of hope was crushed by seeing her lover die, and, when the story begins, she's trapped in an afterlife of nothing but stewing in her own rage and despair.
    • Ysengrin, especially in light of the events in Chapter 39, where we find out that his diminishing sanity is at least partially the result of Coyote forcibly extracting his memories for some unknown reason.
    • Jones, in light of Chapter 40. She's as old as the Earth itself and remembers nothing before that. She considers herself neither dead nor alive. She's spent billions of years either swallowed by magma, encased in rock, and then forced to watch as everything and everyone around her dies, and never being allowed to stay in one place too long until she found the Court. And to top that, even she has no idea why she is like that.
    • Adam, the young boy who was Hetty's owner before she was destroyed in chapter 43. Adam's sister was Hetty's previous owner, and she secretly dictated that if anything happened to her, Adam would become Hetty's new owner. With the blatant implications that Hetty killed Adam's sister in order to free herself, Hetty did everything she could to avenge herself on her "terrible new master." This included all sorts of twisted pranks and torture, including putting fiberglass in Adam's bedsheets, with future plans of poisoning him with arsenic and doing anything else she could before finally killing him. And for all his trouble, Adam had no idea Hetty even existed. He had no idea why any of these things were happening to him, but he did notice that his bad luck began a little bit after his sister died. One has to really hope things got better for this kid after 43 ended.