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.
Accidental Aesop: There are two types of half-orcs you encounter in the kingdom: drunken, belligerent frat boys and dirt-poor alcoholic hobos. Focus on your schoolwork and keep the partying to a minimum, kids!
Acceptable Targets: Hippies, frat boys, snooty artists, furries, Canadians, Goths... this game makes fun of everyone.
Alternative Character Interpretation: The Council of Loathing. Are they just the simple standins for the king who give you your quests or an evil group of individuals in league with the Naughty Sorceress. They start off simply getting you to do some of their dirty work (What do they use that mosquito larva for?) and as you get stronger try to send you to your death. (I mean come on go and start and finish a war all by yourself, bonus points if you kill both sides.) And when your finally defeat the Sorceress and free the King they pretty much outright tell you to go kill yourself, as soon as you oblige the Sorceress suspiciously comes back and steals the King again.
Actually, the "evil" interpretation seems to be canon. See The History of the Penguin Mafia, where the Mafia at one point actually looked like the preferable alternative. At the very least, if they aren't evil, they're incredibly incompetent.
Anticlimax Boss: The one major disappointment players have with the Avatar of Jarlsberg path is that the final boss, the Avatar of Boris, is far too weak. You're actually more likely to be killed by Clancy!
Also of note is that Unlike the other Avatar paths, the final battles have the final boss giving their reason as to why they are trying to kill you, and then the touching scene where the two spirits reconcile. However, the Avatar of Boris has no dialog and the battle ends with Trusty falling onto his foot..
Anvilicious: The 2013 Crimbo final boss turned what was up to that point a fairly amusing string of battles into a lecture on climate change.
Base Breaker: The Level 9 revamp (see That One Level below). Some players found the new content hilarious and original; others, however, found it tedious, the Smut Orcs area puerile, and the peaks boring and full of spiteful bashing of the Star Wars prequels and re-edits. Speedrunners are generally united in their hatred of the revamp, meanwhile, as an area that could (with proper preparation) be completed in one turn has given way to one that cannot be solved in less than several dozen.
Same deal with Hidden City revamp (part of the Level 11 quest), being turned from a simple "explore, beat up protector spirits, get stone spheres, turn them for triangular pieces at the altars, open a smallish temple and beat up the boss" into a long ordeal of figuring out what you have to do to get each of the four spheres, which arguably takes longer than the pre-revamp version. Non-speedrunners, however, generally like how the tedious square-searching was replaced with content that has more player involvement.
And again with the Spookyraven revamp, which can no longer be done completely on autopilot, introduces multiple real-time delays of short but unpredictable length, and replaces the delay in the pantry with a more irritating one in the kitchen. The whining was strong until someone figured out that the new Spookyraven was actually faster — just more complicated.
The latest base breaker comes in the form of "Type 69". First, a bit of elaboration: Challenge paths were introduced into the game as a fun, free content vector that allows people to spice up the game in any number of ways that they wish. Additionally, one is released every real world season (so four a year) and doing one during the three month "season" block in which it's introduced gives bonus karma which is a great way to perm skills and advance your characer. The summer 2014 path, however, came with a bonus stipulation known as Type 69 or "Trendy". With this stipulation in place, you cannot use any limited time item that is more than one year old. This includes items purchased from the Mr. Store. Trendy was promised to be included and mandatory on all future challenge paths but only during their "season" (which is once again the only time you can earn bonus karma for doing them). The playerbase quickly became split between people who see the need for Trendy (it breaks up stagnant play, allows the developers to get more creative with future content, and it brings more challenge to 'challenge' paths), and those who abhor it (they see it as anti-fun, depriving them of items they bought with real currency, and locks most players out of competitively or even casually playing challenge paths while they're at their most valuable).
The New Year's 2015 update introduced the new "Standard" path: the regular game, but with the Trendy restrictions in place in exchange for extra karma and new equipment. It also buried no-path *without* Trendy at the bottom of a drop-down list and removed the leaderboards for all non-Trendy runs. Cue the outcry: besides the above objections to Trendy, many players were upset that Jick appeared to be putting down their playstyle.
Breather Boss: Despite being the boss of the final Hobopolis sub-zone unlocked, Chester is actually quite a bit easier than the others. His only real gimmick (Not being allowed to use combat items) doesn't really make the fight any harder, and only one of his attacks actually deals sleaze damage.
Complacent Gaming Syndrome: One has to feel sorry for Jick and Skullhead. They put so much time and effort into designing the Bugbear Invasion path, and the response from most of the playerbase? "It's not Boris 2.0? Screw it."
Some people hated the Boris path and refused to play it because it was too different from the normal game. And when the Boris season ended, many people who had been playing Boris a lot found that the normal game had become confusing and unfamiliar. The problem wasn't that Bugbear Invasion was too different... it was that it wasn't different enough to seem familiar.
Arguably, the Hodgman's imaginary hamster. It's an off-hand item raises all your attributes by 20% and converts Hobo Power to more Meat drops, item drops and HP/MP regeneration. You get it from beating Hodgman, The Hoboverlord, but only if Hobopolis (a clan-only dungeon) was cleared in a single day using no more than 1100 adventures (and even then only if your clan leader feels like giving it to you), making it a bit of an Infinity+1 Sword as well. (Of course, it requires that you actually have Hobo Power to convert, which means you need other Hodgman items, and it has very high equip requirements so it's only useful after the main quests are long since completed)
Less arguably, the Smith's Tome. What does it do? It lets you, up to 3 times a day, summon a Lump of Brituminous Coal, a handful of Smithereens, and a Flaskfull of Hollow. The Brituminous Coal can be smithed into equipment that gives you a few small boosts, including +5 to a new stat called Smithsness... and one very large boost that scales with your current Smithsness. Yes, Smithsness is essentially a redo of Hobo Power, but much more accessible. As for the other two, the Flaskfull of Hollow adds +25 Smithsness and a Smith-scaled boost to all stats for a whopping 150 turns. And the Smithereens can be crafted into fairly useful combat items, or fairly good consumable items which (Rule of Three, everyone) can grant a buff adding to your Smithsness. More annoyingly, the Smiths equipment can be pulverized into more Smithereens, adding even more value to the turn-free smithing from Degrassi Knoll moon signs that were already regarded as too good. Nearly every discussion by “Stop Having Fun” Guys on the forums now includes some form of the question "how the hell are Jick and co going to make the game stop centering around Smithsness without just making a new even breakier Game Breaker?"note The easiest answer is "let it type69 out", but that won't happen until 2016, and not everyone is happy about Smithsness dominating for that long. Jick has stated that a new Tome item won't be available until Smith's type69s out for exactly this reason.
Goddamned Bats: The Irritating Series of Random Encounters are a homage to the annoying bats of yore, as can be told by their name, and their annoyingness. Not to mention the irritating adventuring you have to do in lower-level regions to find an adventure or item you missed or didn't know of earlier.
Also, played literally in an early area of the game, the Bat Hole. As you may guess the place is full of the annoying beasts, in any flavor and shape.
Ho Yay: It's extremely easy to interpret Boris and his minstrel Clancy as being in a relationship, especially given Clancy's various compliments given when addressing Boris. Though, if this is the case, Clancy is a Yandere.
Memetic Mutation: In the game's forums, "X makes hardcore easier" was a meme regarding the Mr. Store familiars. This was, of course, before the addition of a "Bad Moon" option which prevented the use of such items.
Also, killing the hermit. For the record, it's impossible, despite many rumours. Nowadays, "killing the hermit" is a euphemism among players of the game for masturbation.
"Stupid complicated game," coined by Jick when he accidentally made a source of meat that's usable in Fist (where you're supposed to be a penniless martial arts monk). This is often quoted when someone forgets about one of the innumerable fiddly details of the game.
Scrappy Mechanic: The one they may yet remove is ()delay (which deliberately makes it take longer for you to get quest items). The one they'll probably never remove is Ronin (which cuts off any outside support for 1,000 turns in Normal ascension runs).
They did, however, introduce the Casual ascension path; you have no Ronin period, but gain no Karma from the run. (Other rewards are unaffected.)
Serious Business: The Mall of Loathing is one of the ways players can interact, buying and selling items to each other via the easier difficulty modes. Millions are made and lost via the market. Many people are very vehement that the mall should not be Serious Business ("the mall is not the game" is a common catchphrase in the forums). That just clinches it.
Sidetracked by the Gold Saucer: Money Making Game. Also any kind of one-time special content (such as the Crimbo events), partly because everyone wants to grind as much of the limited-issue items as possible before they are gone forever.
The introduction of the Rogue Program familiar, and the Game Grid Arcade, added even more mini-games that are even more time-consuming. Essentially added turn-based versions of Sinistar, Metroid, Street Fighter, Gauntlet, and Star Control II. Partially averted as you can just turn your tokens into tickets for prizes at a steady rate that doesn't take much time... but you don't get nearly as many tickets that way.
“Stop Having Fun” Guys: Lord help us, but even this comedy-based MMORPG has developed a core of hardcore speed/powerrunners who have all the traits of the SHFG. You can recognize them by their use of the word "optimal" and their hatred of anything they view as frivolous, even though frivolity is the point of the game. Jick doesn't seem to mind them, but Mr. Skullhead fucking hates these guys, to the point the O.A.F. familiar was made to give them the finger.
Fun fact: Jick once made a comment that some players "would rather get eleven points stabbing themselves in the dick than ten points fucking the prom queen". Henceforth, super-optimal players were affectionately known as "dickstabbers".
That One Boss: The Goblin King is far more powerful than he should be for the Level Five quest boss.
The Orc Chasm quest. Just about every step ranges from Guide Dang It to Insane Troll Logic. The quest itself isn't hard to do if you know WHAT to do, but for someone trying to figure it out on their own, it's crazy. Most notably, to complete the quest you need to find a way across the Orc Chasm, your only hint being that the pirates might be able to help you somehow (As a sidenote, you might not actually have access to the Obligatory Pirate Cove, and the game offers no hint on how to get there.) The pirates can help you by selling you an Abridged Dictionary. You take this to the Untinkerer (who you may not have visited at all before this), and have him untinker it into a dictionary and a bridge.
And how do you get access to the Pirate Cove? The one on the island that no one tells you about? You must go on five "vacations" (costing you 2,500 meat and 15 adventures) to get the blueprints for a boat, then build it using planks from the hermit. The travel agency mentions a reward for going on 5 vacations... after you take the first one. They also don't tell you what the prize is, and you don't get much out of the first 4 vacations. In mid-2012 this was made a bit simpler, as you no longer need to visit the Hermit.
On November 14, 2012, the Level 9 quest was entirely replaced, making the old Orc Chasm quest optional... and in the minds of many players, the new one is even worse. Now you no longer need any outside items to complete it, but it's much longer, consisting of four mini-quests. Much of the fan ire centered on the Twin Peak sub-quest: see That One Puzzle, below. And (YMMV) in a rare case for Jick and Skullhead, a lot of the jokes are less funny and more fanboy whining.
The quest is somehow even more frustrating in Bees Hate You. It's impossible to complete Twin Peak the fast way, since you cannot obtain a key item (it's a quest item and thus untradable, and you can't use the items that make it). Oil Peak is just as bad, as almost every monster-level-increasing item has at least one B in its name, forcing you to suffer damage each fight. Mysticality classes (which don't have Muscle's HP or Moxie's high dodge rate) are in for a rough time. As of February 18th, 2013, A-Boo Clues, which help speed up A-Boo Peak, are now also unusuable in this challenge run (they were changed from automatically triggering their adventures into needing to be used first), meaning that all three peaks are especially hard in Bees Hate You.
The Quest for the Holy MacGuffin. An exceptionally long quest made up of five mini-quests. As a reward, you get a ticker-tape parade in your honor, and some confetti. Also, before you can complete one of the mini-quests you have to unlock the aforementioned Pirate's Cove and do a couple sub-quests there. The February 19th, 2014 update, thankfully, gave an alternate way to complete one section that made the pirates optional.
The pyramid portion is extra-nasty. You have to get a certain noncombat adventure (or farm or buy a particular item) several times to change the contents of the lower floors, so that you can get a token, buy a bomb with the token, and blow up a pile of rocks with the bomb. If you go to the bottom area at the wrong time, rats will steal your token before you get to use it, or the bomb will be wasted on the wrong rubble pile. Once you finally blow up the correct rock pile, you can fight the boss...seven times, using up an adventure for each iteration. The boss has less health each time, but always has full attack power; if he beats you up, you have to go through all seven forms of him again.
Twin Peak. The level of stat boosts required can be difficult for new or Hardcore players to achieve, and you aren't told how to make the item you need for the third part of the puzzle. There is an Anti-Frustration Feature in the form of an adventure that skips the section, but it only triggers after fifty adventures in the zone- more than the base amount you receive at rollover.
Building the Misshapen Animal Skeleton. It's not so much that it's long, but that the only way to get all the bones for it without spending meat is to quest for a long time in an area where the monsters drop weak items and are so weak themselves that you get almost no XP for beating them. The item that you get the bones from frequently gives you nothing.
The Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot familiar. It needs a pineal gland! They don't even drop anymore. The only way to get one is to spend over a million Meat in the mall, or (if you're lucky) beg your clan leaders to give you one from the stash. Word of God is that once the prices get too high, they'll invent a way to introduce new pineal glands into the Kingdom, but that's a long way off yet.
In the same vein, all the antique map quests will cost you a huge hunk of dough, largely because rich Monster Manuel addicts used up three of each one to get boss factoids.
Or getting the Silver Wossname. To get it, you have to kill exactly 999 hippies and 999 frat boys during the Hippy vs. Frat Boy war until there's only one warrior of each side left. And use an item that drops in a different area entirely in the ensuing boss fight. Which is inaccessible during the war. The process has its own strategy guide. Yes, there are side-sidequests to kill more warriors per adventure, but if you do that wrong...
The ever-dreaded "Kittycore" mode, a run where the player must use the Black Cat familiar (which, as opposed to helping out in some way like most familiars, will instead hinder you at nearly every opportunity) for almost the entire run. The point of this is to allow you to do a Bad Moon run whenever you want (ordinarily, you need to have not used a single ten leaf clover in the previous run to do a BM run). Fight a single battle without the cat at your side, and you can kiss your reward goodbye. To make this worse, there are a few points in the game where you NEED to use another familiar to proceed with the game (namely, finding the Black Market, and 2 spots in the Sorceress' Lair). There are horror stories of players switching to the necessary familiar, only to forget to switch BACK to the cat before they engage a monster, thereby ruining their entire run (especially vexing because aforementioned points in the lair are immediately before the Final Boss herself).
The running joke: nobody has a 99.9% Black Cat run because they all drop Bad Moon as soon as they realize what they did.
The dwarven factory puzzle. Dear God. You have to translate dwarven runes, then convert numbers from base seven.
Hobopolis. If you want a shot at "beating" it, you'll need to join a clan, and some clans additionally require you to donate meat and items just to get access to their basement. Then, you have to spend large amounts of meat to get the practically necessary adventure turn increasers and optimal gear, and unless you have permed several skills really well-suited for that purpose or levelled up a lot, healing items and buff potions. If you somehow manage to do all this, you'll likely still have to organize several other players to assist, approve said request with a clan leader and (if you're going for Hodgman's best loot) coordinate your actions with near-pinpoint accuracy. Mess it up? You're be out millions for the cost of reflooding the area. All of the prior steps don't even take into account the fact that you need to collect "hobo glyphs" (special signs) over several ascensions just to read the signs in the zone.
The Accordion Thief Tropical Island. Search a hacienda for several keys to the boss's room. One of these must be pickpocketed from mariachis - and if you don't get it in one try, you must one-shot the mariachi or you will be killed. Accordion Thieves aren't good at one-shotting enemies, the mariachis are a lot stronger than the enemies you're prepared to fight at the level you can get to the Tropical Island, and the pickpocket rate is REALLY low.
Seal Clubber's Tropical Island. You need to make a disguise that will allow you to get past the guards at the volcano. In order to do so, you need six each of three specific items dropped only by the mother hellseals at the beach. How to make them appear in the first place? You have to injure (not kill) a hellseal pup so it will wail for help. And here's where the hardest part comes in - the chance of a mother hellseal appearing are equally proportional to how many times a hellseal pup wailed... but so is their strength. Putting it simply, you have to choose between fighting a pretty tough enemy with a ridiculously low chance of appearing in the first place or a ridiculously powerful foe that will kill you unless you one-shot it. Oh, and don't forget to have a club as your main weapon or the parts they drop will be damaged and thus useless. Fortunately, the mother hellseals' HP doesn't scale with their other stats, and your Nemesis is ridiculously easy in comparison.
The newly expanded Sea quest has a sneaky problem. It has two final bosses, and you can only fight one each ascension, and the reward depends on your class and the boss. So, to get everything, you must ascend 12 times (twice as each class) and complete it 12 times. Then it turns out you can combine the 12 items into a 6-piece outfit, fight a secret third boss, and get the last item to complete the Clothing of Loathing. But now your 12 original items are gone, and the Clothing isn't a straight upgrade, so you must do 12 ascensions and 12 sea quests again to get them back. That's 25 ascensions, and 25 run-throughs of a long, expensive quest.
Fernswarthy's Basement. 500 grueling, repetitious levels of tough monsters and "tests" that mainly test your ability to spend tons of meat on potions. Actually, there's infinite levels, but most people stop at 500 because that's when you finally get the telescope. No, sorry, one-seventh of the telescope. You've got to do 500 levels of the basement six more times to finish upgrading it, or it won't be very useful. Have "fun!"
Ugly Cute: The Pet Cheezling, a disgustingly adorable grinning blob of cheese, which makes disgustingly adorable burbly noises, and heals you by melting your enemies and pumping you full of an unknown substance, which is pretty disgustingly... disgusting.
Unfortunate Implications: One of the factoids for the Erudite Gremlin basically describes it as being autistic. Yes, Jick and Skully make fun of everyone, but the disabled?
This adventure. Female characters flirt with a guard until he wanders off to get some flowers, so they can sneak past him. Male characters flirt with a hot sorority girl until she lets her guard down, and they knock her out...so they can sneak past her. Because that isn't sexist at all, and the latter definitely doesn't resemble date rape.