YMMV / Worm

  • All There Is to Know About "The Crying Game": Go into a Worm thread on a forum somewhere and see how long you can go before someone casually spoils any of the major twists, like Behemoth's destruction leading to the emergence of three more Endbringers, Dr. Manton being responsible for the Siberian or Scion being the final villain. Go on. We'll wait.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Taylor. Is she an Anti-Hero who is just trying to make the best possible choices in a Crapsack World that's filled with Jerkass superheroes? Or is she a Well-Intentioned Extremist who considers herself Above Good and Evil by using methods similar to her former bullies for justifying ends similar to Cauldron's? Is there a difference to begin with?
    • Marquis' involvement with Iron Rain, and Jack Slash's assertion that he did not kill her, have lead some readers to speculate that he did not kill Iron Rain, but blamed himself for her death. (Interestingly, Panacea's mother has never been named. Some speculate that Iron Rain was Panacea's mother, and that Marquis blamed himself for her death, possibly at Allfather's behest.)
    • Really, the story is filled with this. A common comment on Wildbow's writing is that he rarely ascribes purely negative or purely positive qualities to his characters, making their moral position whatever the reader ascribes to them.
  • Archive Panic: The author's regular schedule of posting seven-to-ten thousand word chapters at least twice a week, frequently thrice, led to this very quickly. On May 25th, 2013, the story was already 1,188,277 words longsix months before the story ended. While the serial nature of the story makes it relatively easy to spread out an Archive Binge over weeks or months, that's still enough words to make a shelf of Doorstoppers.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Saint. Any mention of him in the comments is likely to start a long and sometimes heated argument about whether what he did to Dragon was justified.
    • The protagonist Taylor as well. While some would argue her actions were justified, others say those same actions land her solidly in villain territory. In general, everyone agrees that she did not deserve the bullying she endured, but not on how she acts out after triggering.
    • Cauldron. Any debate on their actions and competence is likely to draw close to if not outright ignite Flame War.
  • Broken Base:
    • Taylor's actions in the penultimate chapter. Did they count as bullying or not? If so, were they justified given the threat humanity faced? (And the billions said threat had already slaughtered?) Has Taylor fully transitioned into a monster like those who tormented her, or were her actions a necessary evil against a threat that could be stopped no other way? All of these questions are brought up in-universe in the final chapter.
  • Complete Monster: Jack Slash is a psychopath obsessed with being remembered throughout history as one of the most wicked human beings to have ever lived. The leader of the Slaughterhouse Nine, a group of superpowered serial killers, Jack uses them to cause death and destruction across the country, regularly wiping out huge cities and their entire populations just for fun. Routinely looking to replace current members of the Nine with stronger individuals, Jack and the Nine subject any possible candidates to horrific "tests" in an attempt to corrupt them into evil, these "tests" ranging from psychological torture to murdering the candidates' friends and family in front of them. Along with massacring hundreds of innocents at a time and carving numbers into them to keep a kill count, Jack targets a hospital and, before murdering all of the staff and sickly patients, has the Nine kill off the entire maternity ward, while threatening a hero's baby sister to keep him in line. Using an army of superpowered puppets as his minions, Jack uses them to inflict horrible And I Must Scream fates on innocents, wipe out dozens of civilians, and plans to send them out into the world with the simple order to kill everything in sight. Even when beaten, Jack uses his secondary power of manipulation to convince Physical God Scion to kill billions of people across the multiverse as a final act of villainy. With a pathological lust for notoriety and a sadistic streak a mile long, Jack Slash committed his various atrocities for no reason other than his own amusement, and was more than happy to embrace his position as the catalyst for the end of the world.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Bonesaw has drawn comparisons to Franken Fran, though isn't an Expy according to the author.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • American schools do not offer "Basic Science" as a course. Students usually take Earth Sciences, Biology, and Chemistry, with Physics and other courses as an option for advanced students.
    • Many American schools have open enrollment policies, not "rules and regulations about the maximum travel times a student [is] allowed to have between home and a given school." So long as a student and their parents/guardians fill out the proper forms at both schools, they're usually able to transfer with very little hassle. Transportation to and from the school is the student's responsibility.
    • If a student were bullied so severely she had to be admitted to the psychiatric ward and drugged to calm down, her bullies would at least be disciplined by the school; even if they didn't face criminal charges, they would be suspended or expelled. Sending a victim to the hospital is serious business in the US—especially when the incident that got the victim admitted created a health hazard on school property. Even if the school didn't care about the bullying, they would care about the health hazard.
    • Most pepper spray canisters are about 1" in diameter and four to five inches tall. A canister of the same thickness as a pen wouldn't be able to build up the pressure necessary to spray its contents onto a target. Furthermore, while attaching a canister to your belt loop via chain seems like a good idea, it would actually impair your ability to use the spray effectively. As with any defensive weapon, pepper spray requires a full range of motion.
    • With so many superpowered gangs running rampant, gun ownership in the US would likely increase, resulting in more armed civilians. However, in most of the fight scenes, guns are either nearly useless or not acknowledged.
    • An American public high school student who is computer illiterate is practically unheard of. Although many low-income families do not have computers at home, their children have been using school computers since elementary school; so by the time they reach high school, they won't need to "[practice] typing without looking at the keyboard and [have] lessons in using search engines." Maybe they'll be a little slow at typing, but they'll definitely know how to use Google.
    • Criminal defendants in the US, even those with public defenders, are allowed to request a different attorney if they feel the one they have is not operating in their best interest. Ignoring electronic communication from a client is not only a breach of contract, but evidence of incompetence or willful negligence; and if this incompetence resulted in a nonviolent first offender appearing in court restrained in a way that would preemptively bias the jury against her, the defendant could petition the judge to declare a mistrial. The defendant would then be retried with a competent attorney and a new jury.
    • Defendants in the US are also entitled to a trial by a jury of one's peers, which is commonly interpreted as a mandate that a jury include members reflective of the community's demographics, and multiple members of the defendant's demographic group. Meaning that a jury for the trial of a civilian parahuman would have to include a parahuman at the very least, preferably another civilian. Considering parahumans have existed in-universe for thirty years by the time Canary is tried, this should have been understood by the court during the jury selection process.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: From several angles.
    • Per Alternate Character Interpretation, some readers find that twenty arcs of the main protagonist doing very morally questionable things that she believes are justified simply too much to swallow (and/or her status as The Chew Toy).
    • Toward the latter story arcs (e.g. when a new Endbringer designed to counter what they used to kill Behemoth appears), some readers have fallen into this state on the grounds that humanity is simply too overmatched by the evils that assault it. And this is before Scion decides to start annihilating everything in its path.
    • There are distressingly few true heroes in the setting, with almost all the rest being people who are at best high in the "hero" scale of Anti-Hero (and can still be pretty lousy human beings, just falling under the In-Universe classification of "hero") and at worst people who get put through the wringer because this setting LOVES No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
    • Often the pace of the story is such that the characters are never given a chance to breath or relax. This leads to the major characters in life or death struggles every few days with no light relief to break up the near constant angst. This can lead to readers burning out since it never seems like the characters' lives get better in anyway.
    • The bullying Taylor endures is so awful, and the school officials so incompetent in countering it, that after a time it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for some readers to take it seriously. It starts to seem like nothing more than a Trauma Conga Line meant to engage sympathy for an Unintentionally Unsympathetic protagonist.
  • Don't Shoot the Message:
    • Those readers who believe A.I. Is a Crapshoot in Real Life are in the unfortunate situation of having to argue that Dragon — a Ridiculously Humanlike Artificial Intelligence and one of the greatest and purest superheroes in the world — is simply and innocently mistaken about the risks of AI, while Saint — a known thief, mercenary, and killer, who uses his knowledge of Dragon's AI-nature to first steal several of her Mini Mechas and then attempt to kill her outright — has a realistic and accurate appreciation of the dangers. Especially given that Saint doesn't even consider Dragon a person.
    • The strong anti-bullying message, and critique of the infamously lax response of public schools to said bullying, are undermined by the sheer number of inaccuracies regarding the school's response to what Taylor goes through. As noted above, the more serious incidents would likely have gotten her tormentors expelled, and it would have been incredibly easy for Taylor to transfer to another school.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • The Slaughterhouse 9 and the original 3 Endbringers are the story's iconic villains and tend to overshadow all of the others. Among the Endbringers The Simurgh is generally viewed as the coolest/scariest.
    • Assault and Battery for adding humor to a dark series. It's part of the reason for the He's Just Hiding below.
    • Dragon. For many readers, she's the AI you'd basically want to spearhead transhumanism. Her common sense can steer Collin right on the straight and narrow path, for crying out loud.
  • Fanon: In fanfics, the unwritten rules are almost always referred to as "the unwritten rules", verbatim. Sometimes they're capitalized. No one ever seems to consider a euphemism, or saying something like "nobody does that, because then-"
    • Nobody in canon ever used 'Scion' instead of 'God', as in 'for the love of Scion'.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Almost any chapter with both Taylor (Skitter) and Dennis (Clockblocker) will have at least one, and probably several, comments to the effect that they should hook up.
    • Lampshaded, post- Time Skip Clockblocker complains that all the rumors about him having a crush on Weaver have put a major damper on his career.
    • In fanfics, Amy/Taylor is a very popular pairing.
  • Failure Hero: The heroes have zero on-screen wins and never seem able to make any headway in their goals. They also take some of the biggest losses over the course of the story. Add to this their seeming lack of personal improvement or tactics, especially while the Undersiders themselves gain several levels of badass, and they come off as losers.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Knowing what is going to happen to the two sisters makes Glory Girl's interlude much tougher/sadder to read.
    • The reveal about just what Noelle can do changes how you read The Extermination Arc and Dinah's Interlude. Theoretically, the world's end almost started right there!
    • In Drone 23.5 Regent jokes that Taylor's lovey-dovey speech to the Undersiders before fighting Behemoth will get one of them killed since she just finished "tying up loose ends", to which Tattletale points out according to the trope it'd be her own death she's foreshadowing and not theirs. Don't think this is a time Regent's happy he proved Tattletale wrong.
  • He's Just Hiding: Some fans reactions to the news of Battery’s death. Also, nearly everyone's reaction to Clockblocker's... disappearance. Though the latter character did survive. Sort of.
  • Hype Backlash: Some of the readers coming in after the story's completion are scrutinizing it with a more critical eye than the readers there while it was in progress, and not all of them agree with how things pan out. The darkness of the Crapsack World is a common contention.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The title Worm seems to refer to Taylor/Skitter's abilities to control bugs, supported by a minor villain even referring to her as "the worm" at one point in the narrative. In actuality, the 'Worms' refers to the reality-spanning entities (who create/use wormholes hence the name) that are the source of parahuman abilities... and are Omnicidal Maniacs to boot.
  • Inferred Holocaust: While the numbers aren't given in-story, Behemoth's attack on New Delhi probably killed millions of people.
    • Scratch "inferred"; Behemoth levels at least half the city (which has a population of 10 million), and it's explicitly stated that the majority of the people there did not get out in time.
    • Also happens with other catastrophes. The Slaughterhouse Nine killed at least a couple hundred people when they hit Brockton Bay, and trying to calculate how many people they've killed over their 24-year-plus career produces a body count in the high tens of thousands. Their clones probably took out a couple thousand civilians as well. Averted with Leviathan, Echidna, and Scion; the first two didn't kill that many people because civilians were evacuated, and Scion's rampage is so catastrophic that all of humanity is directly affected in some way.
  • Invincible Hero: The Undersiders almost always come out on top of every challenge without any major loses and often in a stronger position than anyone else. Often making the people they are fighting against seem weak and non-threatening by comparison.
  • Karma Houdini: The Number Man. All of the other Cauldron Capes ultimately suffer some kind of comeuppance for all the reprehensible things they've done. He never gets so much as a Heel Realization despite the fact that he's arguably the worst of the lot.
    • He did have a kind of Heel Realization, but it consisted of leaving the Slaughterhouse Nine and identity of Harbinger to join Cauldron.
  • Kick The Bitch: The cold, systematic way Shadow Stalker is forced to watch as her life is destroyed is utterly horrifying - but she's such a vicious, bullying sociopath most readers agreed she had it coming.
  • Les Yay: Bitch sleeps cuddled up with one of her female minions, there are also several points in the story where Taylor suspects Bitch is about to kiss her.
  • Magnificent Bastard: The Simurgh. Let's start with the fact that, despite being completely unable to communicate in any meaningful fashion with anyone apart from other Endbringers, she was able to fake a weakness...
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page here.
  • Memetic Badass: Skitter facts.
  • Narm: A brief example: Scion's Villainous Breakdown has the comical image of him curled up in the fetal position and spinning around in the air with an angry look on his face.
    • Bonesaw's S9 interlude also has a case of this. It abruptly changes from vast swathes of Body Horror to the dramatic reveal that Panacea has a lesbian crush on her sister. The situation makes complete sense in-story, and it's understandable that the characters would be squicked out about it, but its sheer absurdity makes it seem like something out of a bad hentai. The fact that Bonesaw somehow worked this into her evil plan only makes things sillier.
    • Taylor's dad being circumspect when asking if she has her pepper spray. So far as defensive weapons go, pepper spray is typically considered at the low end of the spectrum, so his treating it like a big deal sounds rather silly.
    • Fridge Logic related to some of the pre-story Endbringer attack locations can cause this. Among other things, Behemoth attacked Lyon, France twice, having presumably enjoyed the first fight so much he wanted to do it again, and Leviathan attacked non-coastal cities on two separate occasions, giving the mental image of him wading through a river or waddling across dry land to his destination.
    • Lisa saying a job will pull in "twenty thou" comes across as this to some American readers, who would more likely shorten "twenty thousand dollars" to "twenty grand" or perhaps "twenty K."
  • Nightmare Fuel: Many examples.
  • Nightmare Retardant: At first, you might laugh at Nilbog's name. Then you read Emily's interlude.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • Bonesaw's miasma makes it so you can’t tell who is an ally or who is a member of the 9.
    • Simurgh is this In-Universe, literally.
  • Revenge Fic: Given that Worm is host to a large number of characters that do terrible things and occasionally get off the hook without consequences, it's quite common for fanfic authors to take it upon themselves to invoke retribution upon them. It would probably be easier to list which characters don't get commonly bashed.
  • Ron the Death Eater: While Armsmaster does have No Social Skills to the point of being abrasive and blunt, a lot of less well-written fanfics like to turn him outright antagonistic.
  • The Scrappy: Greg.
    • All of the new Endbringers that showed up after New Delhi are generally viewed as much lamer than the original three. A big part of this is probably that they didn't get enough screentime to make any sort of impression. Compare Tohu and Bohu being introduced and then largely forgotten about within a single chapter to Leviathan getting an entire arc to himself.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Even in peacetime, the US is home to multiple civilian militias, groups of men and women who go through combat and firearms training to be prepared in case of an emergency. Although their existence has generated no shortage of controversy, some readers have speculated that a massive societal shakeup like the one Scion caused would lead to an explosion of civilian militias dedicated to protecting the non-powered from superpowered gangs. These militias could have added both another layer of depth (showing how the non-powered cope with the rise of parahumans) and a steady supply of Badass Normal characters to the story at large.
    • The fact Taylor owns pepper spray is treated like a big deal, something borderline excessive her dad did to try and keep his daughter safe. As noted above, pepper spray is considered toward the low end of the defensive weapons spectrum. However, the US is home to thousands of shooting ranges where people can practice with firearms they own or (on some ranges) rent. Taylor's dad could have dragged his daughter to the range every weekend, training her with his old .38 special and giving his daughter another advantage when it came to heroics.
  • Tough Act to Follow: While both Pact and Twig have their followings, neither seems to have achieved the amount of breakout popularity Worm has.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Shadow Stalker was a cold, heartless bully—but the way Regent not only systematically tears down her life, but essentially forces her to do it comes off as Disproportionate Retribution to some readers. Because really, leaving a high school bully—even one of her caliber—with a life of homelessness or suicide as her only options is, to some readers, too harsh to be considered true justice.
    • Rachel/Bitch is abrasive, rude, and violent....but the fact that most of her own team openly antagonizes her and makes it clear she isn't wanted makes some readers wonder how differently she might act if her teammates treated her like one of the team.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Although the bullying Taylor endures is awful, she is so judgmental toward her teachers and fellow students—especially those who do nothing to her—that it is very difficult to truly sympathize with her.
  • The Woobie:
    • Garrote. A Case-53 whose tentacles instinctively want to strangle any stressor. Points to trying to reach out through the internet to find a friend.
    • Bitch. Decidedly the Jerkass subclass: she's angry, hostile, anti-social, whatever you want to call it ... but only because she got screwed over by her power and she never had a real friend in her life.
    • WagTheDog. We knew from Interlude 19 (Donation Bonus #2) that she really wanted to become a minion to Bitch, but when we see her in 21.6, the way she lights up whenever she gets praise from Rachel and the way she sleeps curled up with Rachel ... she clearly came from some terribly-dysfunctional place.
    • Taylor herself gets this on occasion when life decides to screw her over. She's of the Iron subclass, but it's hard not to feel really, really bad for her past and the general hell she goes through, combined with her self-loathing. Even some of the people who ascribe to the Alternate Character Interpretation and say she's become a bullying villain herself at the end of the story still find her sympathetic, because she didn't entirely have a choice in what she became.
    • By far the worst is Panacea. Her problems literally started almost when she was born, being the daughter of supervillain and Affably Evil drug lord Marquis. This was not an issue, Marquis being literally the most caring and psychologically healthy figure in her life. It really started when New Wave, out of moral obligation after sending Marquis to the Birdcage (more because of the three strikes law than being a true monster like everyone else in there), but Photon Mom, in her infinite wisdom, gave her over to Brandish (who openly admitted to the fact that she wasn't an ideal candidate at all due to the coincidental resemblance Panacea has to the cause of own trigger event). Cut to the present, and Brandish's inability to foster a child have resulted in her daughter becoming a self-loathing, overworked, and embittered mess terrified of her own (admittedly nuclear-level) power. And that's not even getting into the aura-induced romantic affection for her older sister, which is about 40% of her self-loathing right there. And it never gets better, unlike everyone else under this trope.
      • Doesn't get better if you subscribe to the theory that her mother might be Iron Rain as put forth further up this page.
    • Canary is probably the one inmate of the Birdcage who least deserves to be there, having been put there through a sham of a trial.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The Slaughterhouse Nine under Jack Slash likes to recruit and/or create these. Though many of them have no such excuse or cross the Moral Event Horizon shortly afterwards.
    • The main one is Bonesaw/Riley: the revelation of what the Nine did to break her sanity after her trigger event makes her sympathetic even after all the horrible things she did in Arcs 11-14 and Defiant's interlude; and she's the one member of the Nine who could literally destroy the world (or at least its entire population) using her power. The only reason she hasn't ever created an airborne, 100% lethal pandemic is that Jack feels it wouldn't be as much fun as the Nine's usual M.O.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/Worm