- Acceptable Targets:
- Lawyers, politicians, show business, and TV news.
- "As early as the 21st century spammers were already less popular than defense attorneys, door-to-door fragrance salesmen, and the French. By the late 31st century they were held in the same regard as pedophiles and telemarketers."
- Accidental Innuendo: A Running Gag with Kaff Tagon, who has never been all that good at interactions with females other than work-related ones.
- Archive Panic: 13 years, 1 3- or 4-panel strip Monday through Saturday and a 6- to 10-panel strip on Sundays, never missed a day, even when the hosting server literally blew up. If you set out to archive binge the whole thing, expect it to take days, if not weeks.
- Crazy Awesome:
- Lt. Pibald is "Every bit as irrational as his namesake", and yet it's exactly that craziness that has served him well on at least two occasions, figuring things out that no one would have considered because they were too bizarre for conventional thinking.
- Petey, if for no reason other than the sheer scope and audacity of his plans.
Kevyn: Petey, what's going on here?
Petey: Isn't it obvious?
Kevyn: Well... all I can figure is that you decided to attack an entire star system as a feint to draw off the battleplate Vredefort, so that you could escort us from the system with minimal collateral damage.
Petey: See? Obvious.
UNS Boarder: "Minimal collateral damage" and "entire star system" do not belong in the same sentence.
- Creepy Awesome: On occasion Shlock, being a Blob Monster, has that effect sometimes. Case in point.
- Fan Nickname:
- Before the name of the dark matter entities ("Pa'anuri") was revealed, the fans tended to contract their description into "DaME."
- The red bar used to indicate the passage of time between panels was nicknamed "The Red Bar of EVIL" on the forums. In some subsequent strips, it's even labeled "TRBoE."
- "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Since Elf invoked what everyone else saw as her Cartwright Curse to get her squad to shut up, Pronto and Brad have been Killed Off for Real.
- Hilarious in Hindsight: When Tagon and Ceeta use Decision Darts on a galactic survey map to pick a random uninhabited star to hide near, Tagon's first dart throw is a "bullseye". Ceeta then says, "That's the Galactic Core, Tagon. We don't want to go there." And, of course, she's right — that's where the center of the explosion will be.
- Informed Attractiveness: More like informed youth, but Elf dismisses Tagon as old (saying "what was I thinking" of her previous attraction) even though her partner Kevyn is somewhat round-bellied, bald and could easily be assumed to be the older of the two.
- Although Kevyn is later shown growing hair when he's stuck on a primitive planet for awhile, implying that he shaves his head rather than being naturally bald.
- Genius Bonus
- The Mallcop arc also featured a scene where the villains use command injection to force a CCTV system to sleep for ten minutes. When a QR code is held up to a security camera, the system reads the commands contained in the code and executes them because the administrators never changed the system's admin username and password from their defaults. The QR code in question is displayed to the reader, so what happens when you use your smartphone's bar code scanner to read the QR code the character is holding up? Your phone returns the following data:
CMD='sleep, 600sec, noprompt, fnord'
- An Int-Aff-Int officer talks about a dash-nine option, with regards to terminating the spy they put in Tagon's company. In a POSIX-compliant operating system like Linux, signal number nine is generally called KILL, and you can halt a misbehaving process that won't respond to the usual termination signals using "kill -9." Taken even further when the two officers argue whether it should be pronounced "dash nine" or "minus nine," something that real-life Linux users do today.
- Growing the Beard: It's hard to say exactly when the strip starts to click towards the end of book 1, but the strip has definitely fully hit its stride by the beginning of book 2.
- Magnificent Bastard:
- General Xinchub doesn't plan small, and has been shown to trick people who should otherwise know better into doing things that benefit him.
- Shufgar managed to fool an HV 2.5note AI designed for tactical planning and one of the smartest people in the strip, and would have succeeded with his plans had Kevyn not been given supersoldier nanite boosting to literally make him a One-Man Army.
- Nightmare Fuel: The idea of having your memory overwritten into that of a super soldier who will attempt to kill all your friends. For Binnie, part of him is still in there, horrified at what his body is doing.
- Protagonist Title Fallacy: Schlock is a major character, but if any one Tough is the star of the show it's Captain Tagon.
- The Scrappy: Tayler used to get emails calling for Para Ventura's death on a regular basis. She hasn't had much Character Development since then. That she has been spying on the Toughs for the UNS may help or make things worse.
- Recently Rescued from the Scrappy Heap, as her spying got her briefly exiled, then demoted all the way to Corporal, and she's now treated as just another Tough.
- Ship Sinking: Despite having a short-lived doomed romance with Elf in the future timeline Tagon develops Selective Obliviousness towards her advances and shows no interest even when she outright tells him she wants a relationship. This can come across as a bit of an abrupt change and was followed immediately by Elf entering a relationship with Kevyn. Elf now denies any attraction to "old" Tagon.
- Not helped that the "romance" between Elf and Tagon only appears in less than a week's worth of strips leading up to Tagon's death in the "bad future" timeline, and received no development prior to that.
- Villain Decay: The Partnership Collective went from manipulating planetary governments to nothing more than comic relief once the Toughs got the contract on them. Probably attributable to the fact that the Gatekeepers stopped using them as proxies once the teraport went open-source.
- The Woobie:
- Mister Aliss, and Tailor is quickly earning this title for himself too.
- Although Tailor has become a lot more badass, especially when he teamed up with General Tagon. Para Ventura may count though: she seems to be the only character who gets distressed by killing.