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YMMV: The Pale King
  • Angst? What Angst?: Leonard Stecyk is a remarkably happy and upbeat child, considering that his mother is hospitalized, he once gets hit by a car, and that everyone despises him.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Suicide comes up a lot, which is especially tragic considering what happened to David Foster Wallace.
  • Iron Woobie: Toni's backstory is horrifying, but she's easily the toughest and most dangerous of the main characters.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Dr. Lehrl, though it may be the child in his office running the show.
    • Claude, as implied by the events of the annual corporate picnic.
  • Most Annoying Sound: The IRS and US Air Force recruitment offices share the same storefront, and an orchestral version of The Wild Blue Yonder is constantly blaring in the background. The IRS recruiter is noticeably afflicted with spastic facial jerks and grimaces.
  • Nausea Fuel: David shows up again later in Wallace’s first ride out to the IRS Peoria facilities. By the time Wallace gets there, the whole left side of his suit is drenched in sweat.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The death of Chris's father. He gets his arm caught in the door of a Chicago subway train, and is dragged across the length of the station and through hordes of Christmas shoppers before getting dismembered.
  • Paranoia Fuel: David Cusk's introductory chapter runs completely on this. He is extremely self-aware of his excessive sweating, and everything he does reflects his fear of it. He has to gain full control of his emotions, lest he suddenly panic and start sweating. He can't raise his hands to be excused from class, because that would draw attention. Nor can he sit in certain areas of the classroom, because someone might see him.
  • Tear Jerker: Chris Fogle's relationship with his parents.
  • Uncanny Valley: There is something very, very off about Shane Drinion. His odd speech patterns, lack of emotions, facial reactions, or sense of humor make him seem inhuman. There's also the fact that he can levitate if he concentrates hard enough on something, he keeps a perfect record of his conversations, and that he can't leave the room without Keith Sabusawa. None of it is explained.

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