YMMV / Questionable Content

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Rather few, even in the "alternative lifestyles" department that most authors would parody or make fun of. Jeph once wrote a three-paragraph explanation apologizing to polyamorous people because of some negativity towards a strip where Tai had problems with the concept, and they're a group nearly everyone else mocks freely. Some of the strip's few real acceptable targets include the slutty (Raven is a fool, despite her Ethical Slut explanation, and Sven is shown as a sex-obsessed cad and man-whore), hipsters (especially ones who take themselves too seriously), indie snobs, and stupid people. The gang (and Jeph) use the word "retarded" a lot, but that's a rather realistic depiction of people in their 20s, and that word gets a pass from most.
    • Sven is basically the embodiment of Acceptable Targets. He may write Country music, but Jeph and every character that comments on it do so negatively. Including Sven himself. Sleazy womenizers are also acceptable targets, as are dudes in a man-bun.
    • Furries often get a bad rap in QC strips with the fetish only being treated as a joke or considered gross or both.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Marten isn't a "Nice Guy",note  but a spineless coward who is emasculated by the emotional and physical bullying he suffers from the women in his life. It probably started with his mother and got worse with time. He apologizes for anything he thinks might be offensive to anyone, and is so worried about offending someone that he will pre-emptively change the subject or be defensive about a subject he recognizes could cause him to say something 'offensive'.
    • Marten can also be seen as Straight Man or perhaps a non-dying Decoy Protagonist who isn't supposed to stand for one thing or another. His emasculation and New York Times-esque move to neutrality and centrality is the result of being assigned the role as the anchor to the entire cast. Were he to move one direction or another of his own will, or were he to have a breakdown, the entire cast would be torn asunder.
    • Marten's mom herself, who from her second appearance onward provokes fierce discussions about whether she is a loving mother looking out for the best interests of her son, or an interfering, overprotective, and embarrassing figure that explains most of the negative traits in Marten listed above. When he broke up with a thousand strip long girlfriend, she made the aforementioned second appearance by buying cross country airplane tickets before talking to him, and upon arrival proposed murder, tried to set him up with a waitress, hit on Tai, reacts to an introduction to Hannelore by remarking in front of her that she seemed normal compared to Martens telling, showed baby pictures after waiting for him to leave for a bit (without telling him), left dinner to commiserate with said girlfriend (and lied about doing so), and berates him in front of his friends for expressing general unhappiness at these events (again, all in a timeframe of "before lunch" and "after dinner", two days after the breakup).
    • Corpse Witch, Faye's boss at the underground robot league. Her displeasure of Faye fixing up May can be seen a number of different ways. Some fans are somewhat sympathetic, seeing her as a boss cracking down on malfeasance. This is especially true as bringing in an outsider to an illegal business could theoretically put the whole operation at risk. Others see her as an example of Fantastic Racism, abusing her human employee. But most simply take her at face value as a simple Jerkass.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
  • Anvilicious:
    • A strip by the author dealing with Marigold's first date with Dale delivered a rather heavy handed message that it's perfectly fine for women to have sex when they want, and that it doesn't make them a slut. Rather than having this revelation passed through revealing moments of characterization, it's simply delivered in a blunt single text bubble that feels a little like the author not the character is speaking.
    • Not surprising considering Jeph has personal experience with the issue, but Faye's struggles with alcoholism are fairly heavy-handed.
    • Some of the prevalence of LGBT issues can come across as this. This is addressed in this guest comic, where it shows that the conflict would have to be caused by a straw character, since the main cast is so accepting by nature.
    • This strip, where Sam buys a microphone and puts the saleman in her place for assuming that it's for a man. Jeph himself tweeted afterwards that he's not happy with the comic because it was "hamfisted and preachy."
    • The only (serious) character who has been confirmed to be ex-military thought she was doing good by joining up but now regrets her decision.
  • Arc Fatigue: The near-relentless parade of Tastes Like Diabetes strips focusing solely on Claire and Marten after their Relationship Upgrade (and continuing after They Do) has led readers to increasingly point out on the forums that it has resulted in a number of other very valid plotlines being Left Hanging in the meantime or otherwise going Out of Focus.
  • Author's Saving Throw: After a great deal of complaints about how Marten and Claire are Jeph's golden couple and everything is going way too perfectly for them (considering a relationship and drama are basically synonymous in the QC-verse), strip 2974 has them have their first hiccup. Though for some the saving throw backfired when it's completely resolved in two strips.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Faye and/or Dora. There's a large contingent of the fans that love pretty much everything Faye does and still seems to hate Dora for "stealing" Marten from her, and will basically call for anything up to and including her death or being written out of the strip for evils such as not trusting Marten. Meanwhile, a rather smaller group would point out that if your boyfriend had lived for months with a girl he was hung up on, the girl was the one who said it wasn't going to happen but continued to live there, and when it came time for you to move in with said boyfriend he actually argued for allowing his old flame to keep living there, you might just have a right to some trust issues.
    • Marigold, with fans either considering her to be The Woobie who provides witty references to geek culture, or a festering ball of Wangst whose sole purpose is Pandering to the Base.
    • Tai. Some fans simply see her as a free-spirited and independent young woman whose bluntness is simply because she likes to speak her mind, as well as a great relationship partner for Dora. Other fans consider her to be an unrepentant jerkass, who despite being Marten's friend, never felt to hide her clear attraction to Dora while they were together, immediately tried to hook up with Dora afterward they split up (but stopped when she realised how jerkass it was). Later, when with Marten's support she attempted to properly hook up with Dora, she seemed content to force Dora into a relationship... and it worked. And when she meets Jim, the bakery owner who previously had an interest in Dora, Tai gets jealous and convinces Marten to try to set Jim up with his mother.
    • Marten for the (mostly) male part of the audience who accept the Alternate Character Interpretation about Marten being far too apologetic.
    • Claire. Yet another boring female character in a comic that needs more characters like humans need bullets in their brain, built solely for the most extreme level of Pandering to the Base seen yet in QC, or another brilliant way for Jacques to introduce more LBGT characters into 'mainstream' web comics? She is now in a relationship with Marten, which has the two sides claiming that she's being pushed so hard to pander to the base, or that she's just being treated as her own character respectively.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The 666th strip.
    • The "hell ass balls" couch.
    • Strip 1135 features Dora, Tai, and Marten with random mustaches for Cinco de Mayo. Jeph alluded to it on Twitter and forgot to mention it in the daily commentary, so many people had no clue what was up with that.
    • Also, the Magical Love Gentleman strip.
    • Pintsize tries to invoke one for strip 1337, but it mostly falls flat. Later, this fancy dress incident occurs, which seems like it must be a BLAM, except they still have the suits in the next comic...and then this happens.
    • The Little Hats Saga, consisting of the linked comic plus the next two.
    • The guest drawn strips very rarely have anything to do with what is currently going on in the main strips and the characters in them even more rarely actually fit the personalities of their main strip counterparts.
  • Broken Aesop: Emily having a moment of emotional depth to complain about how people view her behavior falls flat on its face given that Jeph had played all of that for laughs until that very strip.
  • Broken Base: While Claire herself is a Base-Breaking Character, her relationship with Marten has led to a divide that has even separated those who liked her:
    • On one side, you have those who think it's an excellent and bold move to put the main character into a relationship with an LGBT character, but with her as an actual character and her transgender nature being incidental. As he says, he likes her and she likes him, which is an important message.
    • Then you have those that think it's Pandering to the Base and their Relationship Upgrade seemed forced, which made Claire less interesting as her own character for the purpose of being progressive. The overly cutesy date comics that followed for most of the subsequent hundred strips didn't help.
    • And of course, you still have those that still dislike Claire altogether.
  • Cargo Ship:
  • Crazy Awesome: Hannelore. Two examples:
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Every appearance of Yelling Bird. This is a representative example.
    • Also any of the jokes regarding the suicide of Faye's father. Jeph fully endorses such humor.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • Hannelore quickly became one of the most popular characters in the strip even before she became a main character.
    • Emily, the Asian intern. Even the artist thinks so.
    • Claire is moving into this territory as well, considering the amount of positive feedback Jeph has received so far for her.
  • Fan Nickname: The line often gets blurred between a fan nickname being adopted in-universe by the characters and in-universe nicknames being picked up as second nature by the fans. "Hanners" is probably the most commonly-used one both in and out of the comic.
  • Foe Yay: Dale & Marigold over their Serious Business World of Warcraft rivalry. Dale acts like a boy teasing a girl he likes, and Marigold is in the role of the too-haughty girl who dismisses him for completely superficial reasons that seem all too likely to collapse someday. They eventually hook up.
  • Genius Bonus: When Emily punches Pintsize in the head (causing -9999 damage), he starts mumbling a string of numbers. As anyone who's read The Da Vinci Code knows, it's the Fibonacci sequence.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The Dora-freakout in the last panel presaging her breakup with Marten.
    • Here too, though it's much closer to the breakup.
    • When Hannelore jokes about the universe being just a social interaction training simulation for her, Claire replies, "If that's true then whoever programmed it is a dick." Later, we discover she's transgender.
      • Not to mention this! Jeph mentioned in the book commentary for the above strip that it's not the kind of joke he would make now.
    • Jeph has had issues with depression and alcoholism for a while now, but it became most visible when the above-mentioned Creator Breakdown happened. This makes it very uncomfortable when:
      • Any strip features characters drinking heavily to forget their troubles, or depression in general. Especially when the introverted, socially-awkward Marigold began drinking as part of opening up to her new friends — something Jacques later admitted he himself did as a part of his alcoholism. The "you should drink and open up more!" moral (made stronger when the only non-drinker was the shut-in weirdo with no friends) became really ugly in retrospect.
      • Any time Jacques angrily defends Dora in a newspost after forum-goers rip on her for having mental issues. Anyone who has little sympathy for someone with that amount of angst isn't going to come across well to a writer who often writes his own angst into his characters as a way of dealing with them.
    • Jeph has recently announced that he and his wife have gotten divorced. This can make all the breakups the characters go through seem much worse.
    • The preemptive description of Angus and Faye's breakup. Was the failure spectacular? Yes. Hilarious? God no.
    • In the last panel of this comic, Dora lays out some very simple rules for the newly-hired Hannelore and Cosette: "Don't show up drunk or high and try not to fuck up too much and you'll be fine." Just over a thousand strips later, Faye shows up drunk and is, indeed, not fine.
    • Any strip that makes jokes out a drunk Faye or even just shows her drunk are a lot more difficult to enjoy after seeing Strip 2881, where Faye nearly drinks herself to death.
    • A combat Droid appeared in earlier comics as a joke. The joke being that he had a very difficult time adapting to civilian life. Then Bubbles is introduced who is struggling with PTSD and is unable to adapt to civilian life despite being helped by "greater minds" than Faye. Also it turns out that the military was forced to dismiss all robotic soldiers because the AI activists thought robotic soldiers would cause humanity to fear the AIs. So apparently their solution was to enforce what is basically a prejudice law against AI soldiers because it's controversial just years after Don't Ask, Don't Tell was dropped. Nice going there guys. Were non-combative also forced to leave the military? Not only that, but it is specifically stated that when new AIs awaken, they are allowed to pick their jobs and can change careers at any time. All those soldiers lost their jobs! That they willingly chose for themselves!
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Hollywood Homely: Marigold tends to think she's ugly.
  • Hollywood Pudgy:
    • Faye. Jeph comments on this in a newspost within the first couple hundred strips; he specifically says that she really isn't fat, but she has a bad body image, partly because everyone she hangs out with is skinny.
    • Marigold. Even more insecure than Faye, in fact.
  • Ho Yay:
    Steve: "I love you, man! I love you!"
    Marten: "Dude we have talked about this"
  • Informed Wrongness: When Sven sleeps with someone else and then says he was never dishonest with Faye, everyone acts like he cheated on her in a committed relationship and is a huge monster. But Sven is absolutely right... he was up front with Faye about who he was and what he was likely to do, and she was the one who insisted they weren't really in a relationship and that it was purely sexual, resisting all his attempts to make it something more. Faye wanted all the benefits of a monogamous relationship without any of the responsibilities (including the emotional responsibilities), but Sven is still berated like he was at fault for not treating it like a real relationship.
  • Les Yay:
    • Faye and Dora, before Characterization Ensued.
    • Hannelore and Marigold currently, despite - and possibly because of - Jeph himself saying that said pairing is not, was not and never will be happening. Then again, when has Canon ever stopped the shippers? Note that they haven't exactly flirted or anything- they've just hung out and played their personality types off of each other. Lampshaded in Marten's comment at the end of this strip.
    • Since Momo got her new chassis, there's plenty between her and Marigold.
    • When Marten tells Claire that he and Dora dated, she goes "Luckyyyyy"... it's not entirely clear to the audience if she's talking about Dora being lucky for having Marten, or Marten being lucky for getting Dora.
  • Memetic Mutation: #1631 went through this with remarkable speed.
    • Yelling Bird's "And then they [all] fucked!" (from this guest comic) is popular on image boards like Funnyjunk or Imgur, as a response to posts containing romance or flirtation.
  • Moe:
    • Hannelore is Marten's neurotic but well-meaning neighbor. She has a number of disorders that make a normal life difficult at times, but she always tries her best.
    • The fucking spider robots.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • If this WARNING  Guest Strip were Canon, Pintsize would have crossed it.
    • Same with these two: also non-canon.
    • He may have crossed it here.
      • More like a thoroughly misguided attempt at cheering up Marten. He makes another attempt later that's in a similar vein, but a lot less traumatizing.
  • Narm: Faye expressing discomfort about a suicide joke from Angus when he was still more or less just another customer, when not long before she said she was fine with it, and that her own issues didn't ruin said jokes for her.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
  • Pandering to the Base: Claire Augustus is often cited by critics of Questionable Content as a character that is mostly there to pander. Considering she was known first as an awkward intern that had a more cynical view on life, after being outed by Jeph, she has turned into an unrealistic expy of transgender individuals. Her relationship to Marten is mostly drama-free and "perfect"; when they do have a conflict, it's resolved in two to three strips (like many relationship conflicts in Questionable Content). She is often shown to never be in the wrong, and after the time skip, seems to be more confrontational and hypocritical about other folks. Her rant about having a hard life being transgender when Pintsize remarks that technology has advanced so much that ANYONE can change themselves on a whim without little to no repercussions is seen by some critics as Jeph retconning past strips (the fact that Claire has Marten, her Mom, Clinton, and Emily that are accepting of her new gender identity conflicts with her ranting about not having a supportive network of people willing to accept her new gender identity) and in a possible ironic twist, unintentionally revealing that Claire hasn't had surgery yet to biologically transition from being male to female, which is often regarded as the "final step" toward assuming the desired identity.
    • However, this seems to be partially rectified, with a personality flaw of Claire's (trying to shape other's lives for selfish reasons) being established...but then Claire realizes the issue almost immediately.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Relationship issues have gradually become front-and-center in the strip, eclipsing roommate drama and indie-rock references. Many welcome the shift, however, especially when they had no interest in the indie music scene in the first place.
  • Squick:
  • Strangled by the Red String: Marten and Claire's Relationship Upgrade can easily come across as this. It comes out of nowhere, feels like it was done just to appease people, and the dialogue used is so cheesy that it reminds one of a bad romance novel. On top of that, barely a dozen strips later, Faye and Angus have broken up as Angus is about to move to pursue his dream of acting. Given the timing, it's hard not to conclude that one relationship forced the other one right out of the plot.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Marten gets mad at Claire for her criticism of him when he's only trying to share an interesting anecdote. But like she says, what he said does sound a bit like indie snobbery.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes:
  • Tear Jerker:
  • Ugly Cute: "How do you monitor myaaaAAAAAGH!"
    • And he has since reappeared! Although Hanners doesn't quite believe it.
  • The Woobie:
    • Hannelore. You just want to hug her, except that would only distress her more. Her childhood carves her Woobie status in stone. Apparently she spent a lot of her childhood freaking out, sedated, and completely crippled by her neuroses. Seems to be coping better nowadays, though.
    • As of #1483, Momo. "S-SQUIRREL!"
    • Marigold too. So moe.
      • Marigold started to go beyond merely woobie-riffic and into outright tragic on a level that would make Faye jealous.
      Angus: You shouldn't like a guy just because he's nice to you.
      Marigold: Why not?
      Angus: Well, I mean, what if he's only doing it so he can get in your pants?
      Marigold: I'd settle for that.
      Angus: Jesus, Marigold, are you trying to GUILT-TRIP me into making out with you?
      Marigold: What? No, no! I just - no! I'm sorry! *Beat Panel* Would... would that work?
    • As the strip has its source of humour and drama from cruelty to characters, everybody has both their moments as the Butt Monkey and as the woobie. Marten specially, before he and Dora got their break. As Jeph put it on the author's comment on this Marten-and-Dora-are-Woobies strip: "Awww! Poor Dora. Poor Marten. Poor Mieville, not getting petted by poor Dora."
    • And then in this strip, we see that, despite anything seen around the whammy strip 500, Faye still loves Marten platonically, and the mere thought of him moving scares her to death. You know you want to hug her.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/QuestionableContent