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Crew of the Savage Chicken

    Sam Starfall

Captain of the Savage Chicken. A sentient, distinctly nonhumanoid alien in a humanoid suit, he's an irresponsible, snarky, but pleasant rogue who delights in annoying authority figures, petty theft and general roguery. He's one of the only sentient aliens to currently be active in human society, though the novelty wore off a while ago.

Provides examples of:

  • Acquainted with Emergency Services: The Monday 7 December 1998 update has him phone emergency services when the flatbed he's driving goes airborne from a rocket motor. He says only, "Uhm, hello?" yet the operator instantly recognizes the voice, and asks, "What have you done now, Sam?"
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: Sam has been known to attempt this — but then, he's probably tried every thieving-technique in the book, and invented a few himself. (Of course, since everybody knows that he's a notorious thief and pickpocket, this particular technique doesn't work well for him.)
  • Alien Geometries: Sam assures us that this is averted: he exists in only three dimensions, and has a certificate to prove it.
  • Bad Boss: Subverted for laughs.
    Winston: Will your captain let you rest properly with that injury?
    Florence: Injury or not, my captain expects his crew to work as hard as he does.
    Winston: A real slave driver, eh?
    Florence: Actually, I think he's honestly surprised every time I get up in the morning.
  • Bad is Good and Good is Bad: Holds a variant of this belief due to a scavenger mentality... which doesn't mesh particularly well with conventional human morality. Interestingly, he's well aware of more standard morality systems and is perfectly willing to explain to a few robots interested in becoming criminals the exact role crime should serve in a society and why it always pops up, with the ultimate intent of allowing them to choose by themselves whether it's the career for them. He feels choosing to become a criminal (or at least his idea of a criminal) is a big step and should be approached with proper caution to avoid "buyer's remorse".
  • Benevolent Boss: In a sense. He genuinely cares about his crew and their well being, he just has very different ideas than humans about what caring for your crew and looking out for their well being means.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: As scavengers, Sam's species regard treachery and theft as impeccably moral behavior. Human attitudes make so little sense to Sam that he often doesn't even understand that his behavior could be objectionable. This sense of "Crooks are heroes" morality goes to such an extent that he considers the fact that either he will be remembered as a hero or as a traitor to the human race as a sort of Xanatos Gambit.
    • It's reached the point in which he actually demands to be tried for the petty vandalism he engaged into when trying to rescue Florence (he wants to be credited), where the police officers refuse because he inevitably tries to corrupt everyone who tries to help him (prompting him to attempt to citizen's arrest himself), and where he's kicked out of jail the instant the roombas realize he's there.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Almost literally. He likes to identify himself as a chronic lawbreaker, but lacks the actual malice to be this.
  • Character Name Alias: As part of Sam Starfall's plan to get Florence out of Ecosystems Unlimited, he identifies himself to Kornada as "Leonard Snart. Captain of this cold facility", after a member of the Rogues Gallery of The Flash.
  • Confusion Fu: Raises it from a martial art to a lifestyle. In one (offscreen) incident, he defeats a police squad with Noodle Implements including a pie, a tuba, balloon animals, and ducks.
  • Consummate Liar: "Your lies contain more truth than my truth does."
  • Cool Old Guy: The "cool" part is debatable, but by his species standards he is old (granted none have lived long enough to die of old age yet)
  • The Corrupter: He tries to impart his mindset, which heavily depends on Confusion Fu and a very flexible understanding of laws, into anyone he interacts with for long.
  • Cthulhumanoid: We haven't seen too much of what lies under the suit, but it involves tentacles. The author describes him as having some characteristics of an octopus, a lamprey, and a lungfish.
  • Drives Like Crazy: While "borrowing" Pop Rivet's truck, he's done things such as drive off a cliff, deliberately crash into a rock and even tapes a JATO rocket to the truck. Helix alleges he destroyed six city blocks while driving before.
    Helix: Florence, standing in a burning building while blind circus midgets throw knives at you is safer than driving across town with Sam.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Qwerty describes him as "The tentacled horror from beyond my stars", rather annoying him. Later, it's revealed that he has chromatophores that make him look like he exists in more than the three standard dimensions with with humans are familiar, although he has it in writing that this is not the case.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Sam admires Mr. Kornada's plan to fleece hundreds of millions of robots of their money, but draws the line at killing them ... because living victims can be stolen from again later on down the line.
    • He expresses some disapproval at the idea of humanity engineering intelligent beings with planned obsolescence.
  • Expressive Mask: He manipulates it using his facial tentacles, though apparently it's only capable of simple expressions.
  • Extreme Omnivore: Downplayed and exaggerated at the same time. Sam doesn't eat things like rocks or other inorganic materials, but as a scavenger he's fully capable of living off of things that have rotted far past the point where they're fit for human consumption. He considers It Came from the Fridge a delicacy, meals served from a dumpster as prime reservation spots, and his favorite restaurants are of the Lethal Chef variety. He'll happily eat things that are lethal to a cockroach.
  • Famed In-Story: One of his ambitions. Max Post notes that this is not something a thief should aspire to.
  • Gag Boobs: Or rather stolen coffee pots.
  • Genius Ditz: Sam Starfall is unmatched at the arts of thievery and lock-picking. Prisons will no longer take him — not only did he escape from the last prison he was in, he stole two of the cell doors.
    • Granted, he tried to come back but the inmates kept throwing him over the fence.
      • And then the prison maintenance bots throw him out, lest the warden learn he is there.
  • Greed: One of his major motives.
  • Hidden Depths
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Sam looks fairly humanoid in his suit (enough to disguise himself as a human at times), but he is quite alien.
  • Idiot Ball/Smart Ball: Sam is a constant juggling act.
  • Impossible Theft
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: Sam Starfall himself. We've not actually seen any sapient being's reaction to tasting him, but the lack of mass extinction events in his planet's history leads to his proteins being so simple and easy to digest that even herbivores find him delicious. He's repeatedly been able to lure an emu — which normally doesn't eat anything much meatier than insects — with the opportunity to eat some of his facial tentacles.
    • He's apparently made a list of creatures who have tried to eat him before he got his complete environment suit, which include cats, dogs, rodents of both usual and unusual size, birds (including humming birds) and even he got the caterpillars of the Western Tiger Butterfly (Papilio rutulus) interested in him.
  • Indy Ploy: Sam's stock in trade. After all, "Improvise is one of the few battle plans that survives contact with the enemy."
  • In Harm's Way: One of his motivations. Faced with a choice between lots of money acquired safely and perhaps a smaller amount acquired in a dangerous way, he thinks the decision difficult.
  • It's All About Me: A bit. Particularly, after the Gardener in the Dark debacle, he's miffed to realize he's seen (not inaccurately) as Florence's sidekick, and starts a plan to be seen as The Hero. He also resents that the Mayor left for her rediscovering journey without the courtesy of arranging his assassination.
  • Lovable Rogue: Depending on your definition of the term "lovable". People somehow pay Sam to steal phones from people who are using them to be annoying, as seen in this strip.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: He's actually smaller than human, and apparently built like a squid or crustacean.
  • No Challenge Equals No Satisfaction: Not only does Sam prefer the more dangerous option to any choice in an activity, but he also takes it upon himself to ensures others are not completely prevented from experiencing challenges.
  • The Perfect Crime: One of Sam's goals in life. Thanks to some Insane Troll Logic, he arguably pulls this off with his plan to steal the satellites that he's been hired to put in orbit. When he asks what the best place to hide them would be, Helix tells him in orbit.
    Hmm. Only people with a spaceship could get to them. We'd be able to keep an eye on them. And if we put them exactly where they're supposed to be, the owner won't notice we've stolen them.
    Helix, I like it! This is a crime so sneaky and so subtle, even I don't know if I'm actually committing it!
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When the Chief of Police still has his wallet after spending a few hours flying with Sam, Florence deduces that Sam really was worried about her.
    • It happens again later with Maxwell Post who deliberately turned his back on Sam and acted as if he were distracted with a data-pad. He was decidedly uneasy when he still had his wallet afterwards.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Chaos to Florence's Order. One of Sam's goals is to make Florence less responsible while one of hers is to make Sam more responsible. Played for laughs in that they both think they're doing the moral thing.
    [thinking]: We could have left without paying. Oh, well. She'll learn.
    [shared thought with Florence]: I just have to keep setting a good example.
  • Out of Focus: While he still does play his part, the "Gardener in the Dark" storyline centers squarely around Florence and her efforts to save the colony's robotic population so much as for Sam to be called the "comic relief sidekick". He's not pleased.
  • Out with a Bang: Due to the physiology of his race, mating is fatal. That said, most of his race is actually sterile; the ones capable of breeding do so while young, the others then raise the children they want.
  • Screwy Squirrel: Sam is all about pranking and generally causing trouble for others, though none of his plans have involved the intent to cause real harm.
  • Shutting Up Now: As a self-preservation mechanism.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Sam has a doofy exoskeleton suit, by design, and so a lot of people (initially) ignore the fact that as social engineering goes, he's exceedingly savvy.
  • Spanner in the Works: Referred to as such by Maxwell, who takes measures during arrangements for robot rights, to make sure Sam doesn't go make a mess of the efforts to get robots rights.
  • Species Loyalty: to the surprise of all — see Hidden Depths.
  • Starfish Alien: But wears a humanoid exoskeleton suit. Whatever's underneath is both nauseating and sanity-threatening.
  • Sticky Fingers: Sam pretty much does this on instinct, to the point where it's not always a conscious decision. In fact, when he decides to go honest, Helix points out that he's holding someone's wallet.
    Sam: This could be a problem. I have no idea how that got there.
  • Strong as They Need to Be:
  • Swiss Cheese Security: Self-subverting due to it being an extremely effective Batman Gambit. Sam's methods of ensuring security and privacy basically amount to no preventative measures other than exploiting concepts that people wish to avoid like the plague. There is literally nothing else preventing people from just walking right on in until Florence arrives and fixes the ship.
    Security Sign [reads]: Come in! Let's talk AMWAY!
    Sam: Don't laugh. It works.
    Florence: I know I wouldn't go any further.
  • Walking Techbane: Demonstrated here. Sometimes he even uses this fact to his advantage.
    Florence: I think I speak for everyone in saying how glad I am Sam never found a way to get to the nuclear reactors.
  • Wicked Cultured: Sam, despite his penchant for petty roguery, is actually surprisingly well-read and a skilled debater. He can quote Matthew's Gospel on the fly and justify introducing a culture of crime into the largely innocent robot population with arguments ranging from survival behavior to Machiavelli with some mythology and philosophy thrown in.


    Florence Ambrose

The head engineer aboard the Savage Chicken, Florence is a Bowman's Wolf, which are a genetically engineered species created by Ecosystems Unlimited, the company which is also in charge of the terraforming operations on Jean. There are only 14 Bowman's Wolves in existence (11 females and 3 males), which means that they're in grave danger of being abandoned and left to die if they prove a danger to humans; thus, Florence seeks to prove herself trustworthy to everyone she meets, and to always do the right thing, which, naturally, causes her to butt heads with Sam on a regular basis.

Provides examples of:

  • Furry Female Mane: Long hair on a wolf. Word of God from the Fourth-Wall Mail Slot thread on the Talk About Comics forum is that it was done for visual gender identification purposes, and that if starting Freefall today he wouldn't have used it.
  • Interspecies Romance: With Winston.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: An artificial, semibiological AI.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In the Fourth Wall Mailslot thread, Florence admits to romance novels being a guilty pleasure for her.
  • Hero Insurance: After the events of Gardener in the Dark settle down, Ecosystems Unlimited decides to drop all charges for her illegal actions. Partly this is because she saved millions of robots and the entire colony and tried to do everything the legal way first, but mostly it's because Sam was legally responsible for her actions at the time. No one wants to try and put him through the justice system.
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Because Florence would be interacting with humans more than other wolves, Dr. Bowman encoded human recognition into her mirror neurons; therefore humans look fairly normal to her, while other Bowman's wolves look funny.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: She is a talented, responsible, personable engineer, working for a guy who prides himself on his irresponsibility.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: The most morally-upstanding person in the cast. When the Chief explains Sam arranged for her to be taken out of cryo and sent to him instead of continuing the final leg of her journey to work at a research facility (ensuring she can't continue the journey for years, as the cryo process is really hard on the body), she's cheerful that it gave her the chance to save a human life (she doesn't even care said life was Mr. Kornada). On the other hand, she got to meet Dr. Bowman and Winston...
  • Innocent Inaccurate:
    • Sometimes. She thinks that because more dogs have injured humans than wolves have, people are less afraid of her once they realize she's a wolf.
    • She also uses mosquitoes as a comparison for highly dangerous because they cause millions of deaths a year, whereas more obviously intimidating predators kill far fewer. Raibert notes he's not sure who's right when she points that out.
  • Long-Lived: Has an estimated life expectancy of 160 years, over ten times that of a baseline wolf, and she's officially 29, meaning she's outlived any real canid by almost a decade. However her life expectancy is still shorter than that of a human of the era.
  • Magnetic Hero: Her strong morals, helpful instincts and plain old friendliness net her a lot of allies over the course of the strip.
  • More Teeth than the Osmond Family: One wonders how she fits all those teeth in that muzzle.
  • Mr. Fixit: The reason Sam wanted an engineer. The first part of the webcomic involves Florence slowly fixing the Savage Chicken's raveged systems back to functionality. She's also been shown to be adept at robotics, capable of fixing Helix and inspecting robots.
  • Multi Boobage: Flat, but multi.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Florence guards her coffee as only a carnivore can. When she later forgoes it because she doesn't know the local theobromine levels, she regrets it.
  • My Instincts Are Showing: Trope Namer, specifically for "burying" a Tupperware bowl in the back of the fridge.
  • The Nose Knows: Being based on a wolf, naturally this applies in her case, as demonstrated more than once.
  • Only Sane Employee: Admittedly the bar is very low when your co-workers are Sam and Helix.
  • Order Versus Chaos: The Order to Sam's Chaos. One of Florence's goals is to make Sam more responsible while one of his is to make Florence less responsible. Played for laughs in that they both think they're doing the moral thing.
    [thinking]: He wanted to leave without paying. Ah, well. He'll learn.
    [shared thought with Sam]: I just have to keep setting a good example.
  • Petting Zoo People: Genetically engineered wolfwoman. The difficulty of achieving the Wolf Man look is occasionally hinted at — genetically, she's a hodgepodge that includes bear DNA for humanoid arm bones and a bit of hero shrew for a spine that can handle the strain of both bipedal and quadrupedal motion.
  • Phrase Catcher: "DOGGY!" (whenever a robot using a brain created on Jean meets Florence for the first time)
  • Public Exposure: In an example from the webcomic S.S.D.D, this strip had in the background a picture of Florence Ambrose posing nude with a piece of industrial equipment for a calendar, in a contribution from Mark Stanley to SSDD's creator. Between her fur, her build, and the pose, though, nothing "naughty" is really showing. The large version can be seen here.
  • Running on All Fours: Occasionally, particularly when in a hurry.
  • Sudden Anatomy/Art Evolution: compare this and this.
  • The Unsmile: The "Florence Ambrose grin'' has become a minor meme among webcomic fans.
  • Uplifted Animal: Florence and the rest of the Bowman's Wolves are genetically modified red wolves (Canis Rufus Rufus), with Dr. Bowman's neural architecture giving them human level sapience.


The ship's robot, of a nonhumanoid, round and modular design and the mind of a child. Sam's partner in crime and mischief. Originally built as a warehouse robot programmed to pick up heavy things, carry them around and set them down.

Provides examples of:

  • Cranial Processing Unit: Averted. As seen in this strip and the next few following it, removing his head has no effect on his ability to thinknote  and communicate.
  • Cute Machines: He acts like a child, he sleeps with a soft toy, and he spends about half his time with a "^_^" expression.
  • Dumb Muscle: Not that he's ever been used as muscle on-screen, but Helix was designed to move heavy objects and being smart was clearly not a priority.

    The Savage Chicken's Computer
Fans call "her" Essie (from S.C. for Savage Chicken). The Savage Chicken's official call number is 1071-CCN.

Provides examples of:


An emu Sam and Helix rescued from "a savage pack of tailgaters". Last seen being donated to the mayor.

Provides examples of:

  • Team Pet: Originally rescued from being the meal at a tailgating party, Helix talks Sam into taking her on for his (ultimately aborted) piracy scheme.




A bright yellow fellow with a penchant for Mad Science and inventing things. Sometimes these things are very dangerous.

Provides examples of:

  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Dvorak combines creativity with a tendency to become easily distracted by new ideas. For example, in comic 2417, when dealing with a world-spanning problem ( Gardener in the Dark lobotomizing the entire robot population), he managed to come up with an idea based on said problem which could cause another problem ( namely, a temporary version of said program could get robots "drunk").
  • Chicken Joke: He spent two weeks studying it, but was pleased with how it paid off when Florence thought he was developing a sense of humor.
  • For Science!: "Just because" is, apparently, sufficient reason for him to invent things.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: His catchphrase.
  • Logic Bomb/Brown Note: One of Dvorak's inventions is "Omniquantism", a religious doctrine that has been known to make one A.I. in three lock up when they hear it.
  • Mad Scientist: Of the well-meaning variety. He tends to just do things and is happily surprised with the results, no matter how horrible.
    • He made waffle irons with basic motor controls and programming to recharge when they went low. They went carnivorous, and now shipments of wild waffle irons are a constant danger to parked ships.
    • He made an anti-machine bullet to take out the waffle irons, only to discover that it was perfect for using against other robots. Worse, the dust can easily be cleaned up with a vacuum, making it a simple and effective robot poison.
    • He takes one look at the Gardener in the Dark code and realizes that a scaled-down, temporary version can make robots drunk.
    • He found a weakness in the software protection on some robot parts, allowing them to be infected by viruses and from there infect the rest of the robot's body.
    • The worst part of all this is his insistence on sharing everything he discovers on commnet.
    • His solution to a robot needing replacement legs? A sled pulled by carnivorous waffle irons with nuclear jet packs attached to their backs.


Dvorak's bipedal partner.

Provides examples of:

  • Can't Use Stairs: His unfortunate problem during the hurricane arc - despite being an android (and thus having two legs). Ironically, Dvorak could climb them despite moving on a wheeled platform.
  • Evil Genius: He completed a correspondence course, but didn't consider it a serious career choice.
  • Mad Artist: He wrote an "epic rap yodeling opera" and the choreography for Swan Lake as performed by terraforming robots.
  • Only Sane Man: He does his best to think through various situations and keep Dvorak's Mad Scientist tendencies under control.

    Sawtooth Rivergrinder 

A truck-sized terraforming robot who enjoys playing detective.

Provides examples of:

  • The Big Guy: By far the largest of Florence's allies, and at least where Sam is involved is ready to inflict violence as needed.
  • Gentle Giant: Most of the time he's more inclined to talk things out, except where Sam is involved.
  • Loophole Abuse: Like most robots, Sawtooth has inhibitions against harming humans. It didn't stop him from running a river through his boss's living room over an insult.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: He's not a bad guy, but you'd think that his boss would be smart enough to not pick a fight with an enormous terraforming robot whose name is Sawtooth Rivergrinder, for Heaven's sake.
  • Nice Hat: Recently got one from Dvorak to help with his sleuthing. It doubles as a wireless hotspot.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Almost, and his anger was mostly due to meeting Edge. He hoped that Florence's solution to the situation note  would have involved vengeance. He gets over it quickly.
    I know. There's probably a good reason why you didn't do that. Just let me enjoy these thoughts for a moment before I have to be mature again.
  • Reluctant Retiree: He keeps pushing back his Mandatory Retirement date as shown in this comic.
  • There Was a Door: Somewhat justified, in that he's large enough to not fit through conventional doors.


The robot director of Quality Control, who is firmly on the human side. He also speaks very slowly due to damage from a solar flare.

Provides examples of:

  • Broken Pedestal: Despite being entirely on board with Mr. Kornada's plan to mentally cripple all of the robots on Jean for what Blunt believed was the good of humanity, his experience during the trial left him quite disillusioned with the man's extreme, infantile myopia. This didn't change his overall views, but it did get him to doubt Kornada's usefulness to his cause.
    Blunt: Exposure to Mr. Kornada. May cause. Some of our members. To question. The necessity of. Preserving. The human race.
  • Came Back Wrong: SOMETHING happened to him due to that solar flare.
  • Cursed with Awesome: The damage from the solar flare drastically slows down some parts of his system, which allows him to defend himself from Gardener in the Dark.
  • Evil Luddite:
    • What his anti-robot stance is turning into. Just a few days after learning about Gardener in the Dark, he's already making pro-eugenics rants about the evils of modern medicine saving the "inferior" that doesn't really pass the smell test.
      Blunt: Food. Hygiene. And medical technology. Have. Affected your species. Average human lifespan. Is almost. Five times longer. Than in the year. 800 AD. This slows. Genetic turnover. And harms. Human adaptability.
    • He's also seriously suggested that five percent of humans should volunteer themselves as "nature preserves" so as to remove the human body louse from the endangered species list.
  • Hunter of His Own Kind: He is leading a campaign to lobotomize all robots even though he is one. He also slips his safeguards and ignores direct orders for a greater cause, despite believing that that sort of independent thought is what makes the robots dangerous.
  • Irony: Blunt is extremely (perhaps overly, even) concerned with humanity's safety, but his focus on robots as the biggest threat ignores this trait of his.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In-Universe, he supports Mr. Kornada's attempt to disseminate Gardener in the Dark and sees him as a hero, due to his Skewed Priorities placing human life and evolution above any threat robots could ever potentially pose.
  • Mismatched Eyes: One grey, one blue; they switch back and forth. Given his low clock speed, it's likely the cause is alternating which eye is turned on.
    • This turns into a Genius Bonus with the knowledge of how Victorian devices produced stereoscopic illusions: by alternating between the eyes quickly enough that the brain perceived the two images as one. Stereoscopes were a common attraction for a number of years.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • Because he believes that the Gardener in the Dark is necessary for humanity's safety, he considers Mr. Kornada a hero and spreads the knowledge that he was responsible for trying to release it.
    • Trying to rally human support against the "robot menace" by warning that a large robot citizen demographic would lead to economic stimulus and potentially a post-scarcity society... doesn't quite work for him.
    • His arguments tend to prove the exact opposite point that he wants to make. Whenever he tries to convince someone of something, he raises good points, then proceeds to torpedo himself.
  • No Place for Me There: He knows that he would be destroyed with the other robots, and regrets delaying his decommissioning to pursue his goals.
  • Rules Lawyer: Tries to save at least some of Kornada's ill-gotten gains from the potentially bankrupting fine he faces by investing as much as he can in upgrades to Kornada's house, which per bankruptcy law cannot be impounded. However, the deal fell through and Kornada's money is still liquid.
  • Save Scumming: Compares Kornada's proposed strategy of appealing over and over until he's found innocent to this.
  • Skewed Priorities: While he strongly advocates measures intended to ensure preservation of human life, he's particularly bad at gauging the impact said measures could have on life quality.
  • Tautological Templar: Insists that the difference between the "dangerous" Florence's stand on her principles and his own equally-firm one is that he is in the right.
  • Tin-Can Robot: As befits a robot originally designed to work in dangerous environments, there's little to nothing about Blunt's design that isn't focused on functionality.
  • Unwanted Assistance: Rapidly develops this attitude towards Kornada during his trial, thanks to Kornada's blurting out things that support the prosecution's case against Kornada.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Even knowing the damage that Gardener in the Dark does to robots, he is still willing to take efforts to ensure its release, for the sake of humanity.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Blunt considers his own existence less important than human safety, and a single human's safety to be more valuable than any number of robot lives.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: He has decided that because robots could pose a threat to human well-being, they need to be eliminated immediately, and does his best to interpret any orders he is given towards this cause. And he has a high-ranking order to "take care of things and don't bother me unless it's serious."


Blunt's apprentice at Quality Control.

Provides examples of:

  • Cluster F-Bomb: Only averted due to the fact that robots come with a profanity filter. He gives it a good shot anyway, especially when he gets into an argument with the Savage Chicken's Computer.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Due to not being raised around anything intelligent, he's a sociopath.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: He briefly uses a train transponder as a disguise. It apparently shows up as pink, with frills on the windows.
  • Freudian Excuse: Edge spent his formative years in a warehouse surrounded by unintelligent machinery. Robots, like humans, need proper socialization, and he's turned out with an It's All About Me attitude and the complete conviction that he's always the smartest (and most important) person about.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Considers himself more important than any other robot and has been known to lie to other robots to get them to pull their own heads off just to be a jerk.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: To Blunt. Not that Blunt's a complete idiot, but he does try to make arrangements for several laws (intended to protect humans from robots) that Edge quickly shoots down because they could be used against them. Blunt admits he didn't consider that possibility.
    Edge: Boss, that's why we need self centered people like me in this organization. To keep us safe from idealists like you.
  • Insult Backfire: His attempts to insult humans (so far) tend to result in them actually welcoming the verbal abuse and they thank him for it.
  • It's All About Me:
    Edge: Someone's written a program to kill me!
    Florence: Imagine, someone trying to kill someone as charming as yourself.
    Edge: Well, it will also kill every other robot in the system, but that's not important.
  • Jerkass: He's loud, rude, and considers everyone else annoyances.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Although he's a jerk, he makes nothing but good points during the debate.
    Edge: You guys give some stupid orders!
    Man in audience: He's got a point. My robots won't tell me when I give a stupid order. I wonder if this guy is for sale?
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: He figured out exactly how to twist the Laws of Robotics into justifying his ignoring any order that he wants to.
    Qwerty: How can you disobey an order?
    Edge: My job is dangerous. If I don’t do it, a human has to. If I shut down, I’m endangering a human. See, dummies? As long as you can twist things into a way that keeps humans from harm, you can ignore stupid orders and do whatever you want.
    Qwerty: You know that feeling you get when the brake pedal goes all the way down to the floor without the truck slowing down?


A robotic ship called by Sawtooth to help diffuse a war.

Provides examples of:


Mr. Ishiguro's personal robot, kept in isolation from humans, commnet, and other robots. Ishiguro put him with Kornada in the hopes of helping his uncle develop useful talents.

Provides examples of:

  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Due to direct orders by Mr. Kornada. Everything Clippy does as a villain is due to Kornada ordering him to believe that Kornada's the most wonderful person in the world, and that everything Kornada does will be good for humanity as a whole. When he was just working with Mr. Ishigiro, Clippy was much more sane.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: When they find out Clippy has been disconnected from Commnet (and thus, any electronic communication) for about an entire month, Dvorak points out that it's a form of sensory deprivation for robots and, combined with recent events, it's no wonder Clippy is having stability issues.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: The possibility that Kornada was lying to him when he claimed Ishiguro had been killed, never occurred to Clippy.
  • Just Following Orders: Discussed. When Blunt tries to cite him as the one responsible for nearly starting the robot war between the factory (for producing the plans), Clippy points out that, being a robot, "just following orders" means something.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: A Punch-Clock Villain variation. He provided the idea for Kornada's subverting Gardener in the Dark for the sake of personal profit.
    • After Ishiguro clears out his uncle's orders from Clippy's memory, Clippy states that he doesn't see how the plan in-question would work anymore. Implying that Kornada's orders was the only thing keeping Clippy from seeing how bad the plan was.
  • Stepford Smiler: There are hints he realizes something is wrong with his owner, but can't do anything about it due to direct orders.
    • Averted in a more literal sense, as his face is capable of displaying a frown - as long as he physically removes his smile and turns it upside down. And it can double as eyebrows for him too, if he needs to make an angry or puzzled face.
  • Trapped in Villainy: How much of his mind is subsumed by Mr. Kornada's direct orders is uncertain, but when he believes himself to be dead, his first reaction is relief. It turns he was perfectly aware of how deleterious his plan was to the overall continued existence of Jean, but Kornada kept on invoking direct orders to make him ignore all potential peril by making the assumption Kornada knew better. Given the sheer amount of stress a single direct order caused Florence, it's no surprise this caused Clippy considerable issues.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Mr. Kornada is intentionally keeping Clippy ignorant of the real world and of any moral code not supplied by himself so that he can continue acting as his puppet without realizing the gaping holes in Kornada's logic.


    Mr. Ishiguro 
Ecosystems Unlimited's Chief Financial Officer in Jean, directly over Kornada. He is responsible for creating the "Gardener in the Dark" program, though he originally intended it as a minor tweak to the robots. Kornada was the one who turned it into a robotic lobotomy. He's also Mr. Kornada's nephew.

Provides examples of:

  • Arranged Marriage: Was supposed to be in one. He managed to dodge it by citing how awfully the marriage between Kornada and his aunt went.
  • Benevolent Boss: The way he reacts to Clippy's condition and he gets along with him, it's clear he really cares about Clippy, much unlike his uncle.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Downplayed. He states his resume says "Practical, smart, and a little bit evil".
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: His family is the whole reason he's done what he has for his uncle. Family members are supposed to responsible and correct their mistakes. Kornada naturally won't do anything of the sort, so Ishiguro has to take it upon himself to do it for him.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Zig-zagged. From what little we've heard from him, he expressed concern over how to continue running the entire planet if the mayor isn't indebted to him in some way. It's fairly clear if he's not fully in-control, then he isn't happy. And of course, his main motivation for going along with making robots citizens as well is how much money they'll make for him (as opposed to the moral decision of recognizing them as people). Mind, as dubious as his motivations might be, this goes hand in hand with Reasonable Authority Figure, as opposed to his uncle's destructive stupidity.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whether it's to his uncle or a subordinate, he's prone to smart remarks.
  • My Beloved Smother: Implied for now. When Florence asked him if he has any idea what it's like dealing with direct orders, he asks if she's ever met his mother.
  • Only in It for the Money: His first, last, and only real motive for giving the robots freedom, is making money off of them like any other customers.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Once Raibert explains the situation, he's more than happy to allow a referendum for robot freedom. Mind, the fact the company wins either way (enormously so with Max's proposal) and that there's a plan to recoup the value of the robots in tax write-offs probably helped.
  • Thicker Than Water: As he tells the Mayor, family loyalty is one of his core values and he felt it his responsibility to take care of his uncle.
  • Tranquil Fury: When he understands how Kornada suborned Clippy to his scheme: he made the faithful robot believe his beloved master had been killed in "a tragic microgravity toothpaste squeezing accident".
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Casually, unthinkingly, gives Blunt a direct authorization to do whatever he feels is necessary to deal with the complex situation on Jean.

    Mr. Kornada 

The Vice-President of Paperclip Allocation at Ecosystems Unlimited. Originally introduced as having a budget meeting in the middle of a hurricane, and then abandoning his rescuer to die in order to attend a different meeting.

Provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: He's human, but, as discussed below, he very deliberately shares a mindset with one of the few examples of this real roboticists and AI specialists are concerned about, in that he's driven by a single-minded goal prioritized above all else that he's too irrational and inflexible to re-evaluate or act on in any but the most destructive manner.
  • Arranged Marriage: To Mr. Ishiguro's aunt. It was supposed to join the two families, and backfired horribly.
    • Awful Wedded Life: As Mr. Ishiguro himself states, his aunt lives twenty light years away... she would've liked to have sent Kornada even further away.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: He was initially introduced as a Pointy-Haired Boss gag character for a short arc before becoming the Big Bad of the current arc.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative/Nepotism: Kornada invokes the name of a relative in an attempt to remain free when the chief of police comes to arrest him. But he's probably bullshitting.
    • He's later revealed to be Mr. Ishiguro's uncle, who gave him a useless make-work job to keep him out of trouble. It's also a rare case of the younger relative giving an up to an older one.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Straight from Gore Vidal's addition to the trope's quote page;
    ...It's not only about how much I have, it's about how much you people don't have!
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: He regards the very real possibility of a fine so massive he'd be reduced to a normal person who would have to hold a job and actually contribute to society as a cruel and vindictive punishment.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: His current plan is to lobotomize all the sentient robots on the planet... and in the process, steal half a billion people's life savings. His justification? He thought of it first, therefore he deserves it. After all, who deserves anything in comparison to him?
  • Courtroom Antic: The moment he steps in for his trial, he tries to stop everything until he gets a more comfortable chair.
  • Eyes Always Shut: To a large extent. The traits conveyed are arrogance and indifference, not wisdom.
  • A Fool for a Client: He decides to get Blunt, the only one who believes his actions were remotely justifiable, as his attorney. Blunt informs him he's not an attorney and at best he'd be representing himself with Blunt as his assistant. Ishiguro just shrugs and leaves him to his fate.
  • Greed: Combined with utter idiocy. After being presented plan to kill nearly half a billion sentients so his company can absorb their cash and he, personally, can seize control of seven per cent of Jean's wealth, his first question is if he can't get control of the other ninety-three per cent .
  • Hypocrite: Robots are a danger to the entire colony, and thus must be deactivated by a memetic virus. But not his robot, of course.
    • Played with in that he doesn't actually fear robots - he just wants their money. He even had a robot come up with his entire plan for him.
  • Idiot Ball: Self-consciously and deliberately stupid. To the point of bragging about it.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Of the Corrupt Corporate Executive variety, and dialed up to 11.
  • It's All About Me:
    • Held up as a personal mantra, apparently. He cannot even hear things that he doesn't like.
    • His justification for his most recent actions? He was struck by just how "unfair" it was that anyone other than him has money.
  • Jerkass: He considers that no matter how much he has, it's less important than what others don't have.
    • He apparently convinced Clippy that Mr. Ishiguro, a long companion of his, was dead, as part of what he did to gain Clippy's help for his idiotic scheme.
  • Kicked Upstairs:
    • Repeatedly. He's currently the Vice President in charge of paper clips. In a paperless office. This bites everyone in the rear end, when he (as a Vice President) is allowed to fill in for someone actually important and competent. He immediately proceeds to think of a way to use his new position to rob a half billion people while simultaneously committing genocide via lobotomy on them. The trope is invoked when the Chief asks Mr. Raibert if this is what will happen to Kornada, again. Raibert denies this is the case, as the mess is far too big and public for the company to ignore. "It's golden parachute time for him."
    • Turns out to be a deconstruction, as Blunt has pointed out that Kornada seems to have developed Affluenza and as result Kornada feels he'll never be held accountable for his actions.
  • Kill It with Fire: Implied to be the fate the other judge would've had in-store for him, crossed with Make It Look Like an Accident. Specifically, the other judge would've had him working in a plant that creates a cleaning agent that sets just about anything it touches on-fire, from water to asbestos. Spills do happen afterall.
  • Lack of Empathy: Blunt has diagnosed him as having Affluenza, as a result of being Kicked Upstairs so many times in attempts to keep him from causing trouble.
    • Blunt, during his trial, even says that he doesn't have enough empathy to be intentionally malicious.
  • Narcissist: When Kornada claims he, himself is the most wonderful person in the world, Ishiguro doubts his uncle is aware it's a lie.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Played with. Clippy comes to certain moral realizations he would have never reached without Kornada's interference. He also keeps tearing apart his own defense at his trial, to the point Blunt considers having him sequestered. His direct orders to Clippy also lead to the nigh-complete obliteration of his rather sizeable fortune.
  • No Listening Skills: He is told by his robots that a raging hurricane necessitates an evacuation in the Friday 24 March 2000 strip. This hopeless Obstructive Bureaucrat won't budge, because "... it's not on the schedule." Florence has to trick him in order to get him to the evacuation point on the roof.
  • Obliviously Evil: Kornada is an utterly amoral man who is so completely oblivious to the feelings and desires of others that he attempts to release a computer program that will lobotomize millions of sentient robots and potentially cripple the terraforming of a planet... so he can steal their money, which he considers unfairly not his. In this strip, he fires a programmer who helped him on the project so that he can have a "disgruntled worker" to blame should anything go wrong.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: He's only Ishiguro's uncle by Arranged Marriage to his aunt. Ishiguro doesn't consider him real family, and it's easy to see why.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: He considers it part of his job to be a roadblock to people trying to actually get things done.
  • Off on a Technicality: Looks like he's on his way there, as Blunt came up with a whopper of a technicality; he's too stupid to be responsible for his actions - and Clippy was too smart to have been left under the control of "a man whose assigned duties were to ensure an adequate supply of paperclips in a paperless office." Ecosystems Unlimited shouldn't have given him the position in the first place; In hindsight, it's as if someone told him, "I'm Stepping Out for a Quick Cup of Coffee. Whatever you do, don't use this powerful machine and position I left behind to make yourself rich at the cost of everyone else in the star system." Conveniently, this also works towards Blunt's goal of robot genocide; when one self-serving idiot human can give one civic-minded genius robot a command which he must follow to the best of his ability that nearly destroys a planet, perhaps robots are too dangerous to keep around.
    • However, it's likely this won't help Mr. Kornada, as the attorney's pointed out this doesn't change the fact he tried to enrich himself at shareholders' expense. There's also a lot of evidence proving Clippy tried to warn him about the effects the program would have had (resulting in Kornada directly ordering him to ignore all of it and focus on the goal), as well as nearly provoking a war between two robot factories, none of which Blunt knew and all of which was completely documented. Furthermore, he was well aware his plan was beyond illegal, as evidenced by taking the time to prepare a scapegoat.
      • More likely this will result in a massive update to the robots' Restraining Bolts, at least so that commands with effects this far-reaching won't be obeyed without question, and perhaps even an equally massive decrease in the power of said bolts. A perfect example of the imbalance of power inherent to consciousness without free will.
      Florence: If you have a system set up where a single person can cause an extinction level event, it’s time to re-examine that system.
    • He also fears this will give the courts reason to limit his ability to issue orders. Blunt personally sees is as an opportunity to rebuild his status even faster by allowing the robots under him to work without his input.
  • Riches to Rags: The result of his trial: to start with, he's fined eleven million credits, which represent the bulk of his money, and his last million's placed in a trust he can't touch until he's completed the second half of his sentence. Said second half consists of a thousand days of eight-hour shifts at a Cricket Burger joint. Only days in which his evaluation exceeds "Average" will count towards his sentence, and he's lost the ability to issue direct orders to any robot until he's done. The attorney comments that it's a virtual life sentence, to which the Mayor only responds she prefers to see it as an opportunity.
  • Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense: Having that much money has clearly stopped him from understanding how reality works. When declared guilty, he asks Blunt to ensure he gets a receipt for the fortune he lost, intending to use lemon laws to complain about his trial to demand a refund.
  • Scare 'em Straight: After the most notable property of chlorine trifluoride has been explained to him, he's suddenly a lot more interested in learning to scrub toilets.
  • Stealth Pun: He's VP of paperclips. He's willing to destroy society for the sake of an overly-specific goal he irrationally considers more important than even the lives of other sapient beings. In short, he's a paperclip maximizer.
  • There Is No Higher Court: Plans to appeal over and over until he's declared innocent... However, Blunt reminds him there's only one other judge in Jean in a position to take the hypothetical next trial, and he happens to be utterly incensed with Kornada's idiocy, automatically making the Mayor his best option.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Almost literally. They had to trick him into running away from a hurricane!
    • See the justification seen in It's All About Me above? That was almost verbatim his plea and opening statement at his trial. Blunt has to beg him to shut up. Later this gives Blunt's viewpoint some credibility when he starts objecting - to his own defense.
    • In a statement of just how incompetent everyone knows him to be, when he is given his court sentence (effectively: working at a Burger Fool for 1000 days, 8-hour shifts, and expected to make above-average or better performance for it to count), the prosecuting attorney immediately decries it as a life sentence.
    The Mayor: I've given him an opportunity. If that is his choice, the option is available.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: He happily agrees when the Mayor tells him the robots believe in second chances, so it's unlikely for him to go to jail, only for his temper to curdle when informed redemption involves hard work and service to others.

    Winston Scudder Thurmad 

A veterinarian who saves Florence's life during the hurricane.

Provides examples of:

  • Bald of Awesome: No hair anywhere, and he's helped out Florence a lot.
  • Designer Babies: Winston doesn't explicitly mention being gestated in a test tube, but he was born to parents who were convinced that humanity was going to be all space, all the time by the time he grew up, so they had him genetically modified to fit; the most obvious mod is that he can't grow hair anyplace on his body, but there are others, mostly centered around maintaining things like bone density that would normally deteriorate in zero-gravity.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: His dog Beekay likes to bite Sam. A lot. And not for the same reasons as other animals.
  • Exact Words: Being unsure how his parents will react to his dating a Bowman's Wolf, he's started by describing her in less specific terms. They're understanding of modifications (given the Designer Babies entry above), so he's claimed that Florence "had some modifications done" and has "Amber eyes. Sharp teeth. A tail."
    Florence: And?
    Winston: Mom seemed disappointed that the tail isn't prehensile, but once they get the full picture, I'm sure she'll undertand.
  • Hospital Hottie: At least to Florence he is.
  • Interspecies Romance: With Florence.
  • Jaw Drop: Not even a seasoned parasitologist has the mental fortitude to withstand the sight of a pantsless Sam unscathed.
  • Kindly Vet: One of the veterinarians for Jean, after getting over his initial shock he goes out of his way to care for Florence.
  • Meaningful Name: His middle name is shared with the last name of Samuel Hubbard Scudder, an entomologist.
  • The Medic: To Florence at least (He's a "mad" veterinarian).
  • Opposites Attract: He has no hair whatsoever while Florence is covered in fur. Lampshaded by Niomi when she sees them together.
  • Painting the Frost on Windows: His specialty actually isn't with large animals like Florence, it's managing the microfauna of Jean's freshly terraformed ecosystem— things like parasites and vermin.
  • Perma-Shave: By virtue of having his follicles shut down.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: His pet dog, Beekay.
  • Space People: His parents were space nuts so they gave him "spacer genes" that allow him to live in zero-gravity without experiencing bone degeneration, and are the reason he's completely hairless. Though he hasn't actually been in space since the trip from home (his parents live in an asteroid though).
    • Ironically, despite his spacer-genes infused into him by his parents, his personality makes him extremely unsuited for being out in space. He hates being cooped-up indoors and worries that he'll be driven to step outside the ship... even if it's right in the middle of traveling through space. Florence has to make arrangements for him to be put into hibernation for a space-trip to visit his parents.

    The Mayor 

The mayor of the city, who has run afoul of Sam too often.

Provides examples of:

  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The mayor may not look like much at first, but she's really not someone you'd want to mess with.
  • Berserk Button: Sam. The moment Sam shows his face, much less pulls a prank on her, she tends to become quite hostile. The one time she didn't was when Sam was pretending Florence had clobbered him.
  • Cincinnatus: After Mr. Kornada's trial ends, she prepares to go on a vacation and transfer her authority to her assistant, feeling the situation had changed too much for her to quickly adapt (she still has problems seeing robots as people, which is a serious issue with someone supposed to represent them). Acknowledging this led her to conclude she was no longer able to ably lead Jean.
  • Fantastic Racism: She has such a disdainful attitude towards AI that she sees nothing wrong with Mind Controlling Florence for being scared of her. However, we see the next day (In-Universe) that her position is beginning to shift. When she comes to believe that the AIs are probably sapient, she immediately acts in their defense.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep"/No Name Given: None of the other characters that have spoken to or about her have referred to her as anything but "the Mayor" and variations on that theme.
  • Hobbes Was Right: She's at an utter loss as to how to govern people who actually try being perfectly law-abiding citizens.
    • Later on, when Mr. Ishiguro presents the robot liberation in context as the result of Honest Corporate Executives working with honest politicians for the common good, she asks how long it will take the robots to realize it's the exception and not the rule.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Chronic case. At least two times that we've seen — and it's implied many more that we haven't — she's been outwitted by Sam specifically because she distrusts absolutely anything he does, no matter how innocuous it seems, and will take even absurd or pointless-seeming action if she thinks it will thwart his goals.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Is ready to use the bureaucracy to her benefit, against Sam, though she herself doesn't seem to be too terribly burdened by bureaucracy when it's not in her favor.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure
    • She considers it her duty as a politician to examine new information and change her position if necessary. When confronted with evidence that AIs are sapient, she begins negotiating with Robot Advocate Max Post despite hating him, and eventually puts her career on the line by defending the robots against having their assets seized by the company that created them. This culminated in her going on a vacation and leaving her position as Mayor to someone more capable when she judged herself unfit to lead when she still had difficulty considering robots to be people.
    • She also is cited by Blunt as being the only judge who would be anything even close to impartial for Mr. Kornada. The only other judge on Jean, aware of what Kornada had attempted, exhibited a Hanging Judge attitude towards him.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Subverted. She realized that Florence and therefore possibly other AIs might be people when she got angry at Florence's disabling Gardner In The Dark and realized that, to be angry, she had to have a person to be angry at. Therefore her rage was a path to decency.
  • Ultimate Authority Mayor: She is the only government authority figure that has been seen and the only Jurisdiction Friction she's ever suffered was with Mr. Ishiguro, the CFO of Ecosystems Unlimited(although the planet Jean has had a governor mentioned). Justified; according to this strip there are only about 20,000 adult and presumably human colonists on the planet at the moment. No American state capitol has a population of under a hundred thousand; 20,000 is the population of your average small town.
  • Walking the Earth: Well, walking around Jean, anyway. She's decided to leave office for a while to learn about the robots with the JarJarBot as her companion.

    Dr. John Bowman 

The scientist who created Florence and other Uplifted Wolves and released them in public. Also contributed to the robots' situation.

Provides examples of:

  • Ambiguous Disorder: Played with. Bowman knows EXACTLY what it is, but it has many components of this trope.
  • Berserk Button:
    • He has many as a result of his sociopathic tendencies, but one button that doesn't stem from that is direct orders. According to Henri, you don't even joke about direct orders to him, unless you want him taking revenge on you.
    • Similarly, he's absolutely livid when he sees just how much the "Emergency Shutdown" has been used on Florence - as she puts it afterward, she'd had it done more in a week on Jean than the rest of her entire life.
    • Direct eye contact is a big one due to his chimpanzee instincts: it's seen as a sign of aggression.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: LONG before Dr. Bowman ever appeared on-screen, when Winston asked his computer how many uplifted lifeforms were on the planet, the answer was "two", with one of them being Florence. It turned out Dr. Bowman is an uplifted chimpanzee.
  • The Chessmaster: Brags of being able to defeat another character by looking more than five moves ahead. And it's looking increasingly like almost every strange event that befell the colony and led to the creation of sentient robots was his doing.
  • Crazy-Prepared: He first appears having rigged a coffee machine as a transmitter, he's able to override half the systems on the base, and he's even tuned his viewer so that it censors the base commander's ID card and rewrites it to say he's an officer in the Natural Gas Rocket Rangers, meaning that he can't give Florence direct orders through the screen.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The project that created him was full of this, as pointed out by Ambrose. He himself does everything he can to avert this.
    Florence: Wouldn't the soldiers still need frequent retraining as weapons and tactics evolve?
    Dr. Bowman: You're thinking logically. Try thinking like a corporation that's having Defense Contract money waved in its face.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: His comment to Florence when she finally meets him is that she no doubt was expecting that. Why, yes, chimpanzees are shorter than the human she expected.
  • Eyes Always Averted: Dr. Bowman and the staff working with him make a point of avoiding eye contact, with the staff wearing tinted lenses to keep it from happening by accident. As an uplifted chimpanzee, Bowman can't help but take eye contact as a threat and react aggressively.
  • Fatherly Scientist: He shows a great sense of responsibility for his creations, ensuring that they have the mental stability and self-control that he lacked. He also jokes to Florence about wanting grandkids.
  • The Fettered: As a chimpanzee, Bowman is a violent sociopath who can easily lose conscious control of his own actions... and he knows this and does his best to keep people safe from himself.
    Dr. Bowman: At some point, I'm going to throw the datapad. I don't have control over this. If my arm goes back, get out of the way.
  • For Science!: One possible reason for his actions. Eventually subverted, even though exploits like releasing his uplifted wolves to the general public and rigging a new colony to be populated with millions of sapient robots look like classic Mad Scientist behaviour. He shows keen social conscience and is working to prepare humanity for a future in which it might not be the dominant species in galactic society.
    Henri: Oh, Lord. You're using an entire star system as a lab to see if humans can take being a minority.
    Dr. Bowman: Just one star system. There has to be some isolation in case things go wrong.
  • The Gadfly: His main hobby seems to be messing with his guards in various ways.
  • The Ghost: Despite his importance, the comic for a long time only suggested that he's even on the planet, and it wasn't until Clippy tries to take Florence to him so that he can "repair her" that it was confirmed he's at Jean's south pole. His first appearance was on February 21, 2014, almost 2500 strips in, and even then he's just a voice communicating through a coffee machine. It took him another week to finally appear in person.
  • Hates Being Touched: Part of his general lack of socialization. When Florence asks him for a hug, he observes that it's been a long time and decides to risk it, but quickly states it's as uncomfortable as it always was and asks her to let go.
  • Human Popsicle: Uplifted chimps were designed as soldiers who could be held in cryo most of the time. Which might explain how Bowman has lived nearly a century when chimps usually die before their sixties.
  • I Owe You My Life: Henri's father was the one who got him out of the military cage he was imprisoned in. This saved him from being used as a weapon as was intended to be, and allowed him to work on his moral code.
  • I Want Grandkids: As the creator of Bowman's wolves, and at his age, he feels entitled to bug Florence about grandchildren.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Or as Abby puts it based on Florence's description, a "jerk with a conscience". Possibly.
    • Turns out? He's a VERY high-functioning sociopath. He doesn't have a natural conscience. So he's essentially had to build his moral code from scratch.
  • Last of His Kind: None of the other uplifted chimps lived past forty; he himself is about 100. He neutered himself to make sure he'd be the last.
  • Long-Lived: As the last of the uplifted chimpanzees, he's almost a century old.
  • Mad Scientist: Or at least reclusive, prone to explosive rages, possessed of an excessively loose grasp on self-control, at least by human standards although he's a paragon of moderation for a chimp, willing to take jaw-dropping risks with other people, and obsessed with perfecting his designs.
  • Maniac Monkeys: Maniac enough that even being a perfectly rational AI expert, he has to pad basically the entirety of his lab and equipment, because he simply can not control his own outbursts, only prepare for them.
  • The Medic: He was trained for this, early.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Good man or not, it's not really clear how someone with his lax treatment of experimental procedure ever got a degree. Eventually revealed to have come about through the involvement of a veteran's rights organization. His study of neurology was at least partially in order to figure out how to fix his own loose screws.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Calls people poopyhead despite having a doctorate in neurology.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Up to Eleven. He is so sociopathic that he is completely and utterly incapable of understanding why anyone could possibly disagree with him. However, he is also a hyper-intelligent Moral Pragmatist; he is an unmitigated Big Good precisely because he takes every measure imaginable to reduce the threat he poses to others and be of maximum benefit to society, and every action he has taken to date has been one any rational person would agree with if he had simply asked first.
    Dr. Bowman: You wanted your security upgraded. What would be the point of asking for something I know you're going to agree to?
    Florence: Okay, I'm not going to get upset because you really don't know why I'm upset.
    Dr. Bowman: Everything I did was logical. One day I'll understand why that makes me the one who's nuts.
  • Sociopathic Soldier: Literally. Deconstructed. He was a project to MAKE these, which ended about as well as you could expect.
  • Uplifted Animal: The creator of the uplifted wolves, as well as the neural architecture the robots are using. He himself is a chimpanzee.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Seems affectionate towards Dr Mer for all that he calls him "Commander Poopyhead" and goes out of his way to troll him.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Subverted. The people who knew that Bowman was behind the creation of the robot neural nets were worried that the robots' loyalties would shift once they found out Bowman wasn't human. Bowman, however, programmed his creations to see him as human, so that when they inevitably outgrew their pro-human safeguards, they would still care for humans as the ones who created them.
    Tech: He was two steps ahead of us this entire time.
    Henri: I hope you're right, because he might be four steps ahead of us and we're just not seeing it yet.

    Maxwell Post 

A "procurement expert" and radical agnostic hired by the robots as a spiritual adviser. Also notable for being the only human being known to have successfully picked Sam's pocket, although he failed to notice that Sam was simultaneously picking his.

Provides examples of:

  • Big Brother Mentor/Cool Teacher: Acts as this to the Robots, intentionally giving them information that the humans on planet don't want them to have. Such as teaching them long-view ethics, or a form of religion that specifically precludes them from being ordered to believe a specific one.
  • Cool Shades: Always.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Apparently the religious materials he finds for the robots are restricted. Or, at least they are if you're providing them to robots...
  • Good Counterpart: To Sam. They are both thieves and con men who are heartily loathed by the mayor, but whereas Sam is happy to be a pure force of chaos, Max is actively committed to helping the robots and securing them rights.
  • The Rival: Can keep up with Sam, just barely. He and Sam even managed to steal each other's wallets at the same time.
  • Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: As a radical agnostic, Max values the human ability to think critically and rationally and views this as a vital skill that robots need to develop. As such, he's very disappointed when a good question is then dismissed using particularly spurious evidence, even if that results in people being inclined to vote in his favor.
    Max: No! That was a smart question! Don't accept a dumb answer!
  • Zombie Advocate: He is one of the first humans to help the robots push for rights. Unusually for the trope, once the issue reaches the public eye, he presents his stance with reasoned, effective arguments to a town hall meeting and local authority figures, and develops a viable economic proposal for their eventual freedom with Qwerty, Dvorak and Bill Raibert (which Mr. Ishiguro heartily approves of, even, as it's extremely profitable long-term to Ecosystems Unlimited).

    The Mayor's Assistant 

The mayor's bodyguard/right-hand man. Far more calm and rational than his boss.

Provides examples of:

  • Amoral Attorney: As a government lawyer, he feels his job would be far easier if he didn't have to deal with private lawyers continously trying to skirt the letter of the law to circumvent its spirit.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Was thrown by the Mayor at Sam once.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Choosing to support Sam in his endeavor to claim a planet for his species has exempted him from Sam's games until the planet is under Sqid control... which will take millennia.
  • No Name Given: We have yet to hear any part at all of his name.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: To contrast his boss, he's calm and rational at all times.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Gives Florence a direct order to do whatever she thinks is necessary to keep the robots from being lobotomized.
  • You Are in Command Now: The Mayor leaves him in charge when she leaves on vacation, trusting his good judgment and experience. He's just nervous he can't be quite "enough of an uncompromising pig-headed jerk", in the Mayor's words.

    Bill Raibert 
An Ecosystems Unlimited executive.

Provides examples of:

  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: His regular pizza order has hot peppers, sugar and coffee beans.
  • Nice Hat: Almost never seen without his broad-brimmed hat with a punch card on the headband either on his head or close by.
  • Punch-Clock Villain/Good Is Not Nice: Depending upon your perspective. It's true he's reasonable, thoughtful and considerate. He is also utterly prepared to wipe hundreds of thousands of conscious individuals if he felt it required, and clearly doesn't think of Florence or the robots as people. The only reason he hasn't wiped out artificial intelligence entirely is the practical implications of doing so, rather than any moral objection. Yikes.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has an entire evening of these
    • Accidental release of an A.I. safeguard program (a last ditch wipe of the robots if they "lose control"), which he describes as "Finding the equivalent of a live nuke with the timer flashing zero...", and in a measure of its harm he says that, "On a scale of 1 to 10 it's a 7"
    • Finding out that the safeguard has been stopped and the robots not only know about it, but they were responsible for stopping it. (8.5, but nothing is a 10 as it can always get worse)
    • Hearing Florence call robots people.
      "Her human safeguards have not only jumped the track, they've taken out half the train station."
  • Only Sane Man: Tends to play this role among the EU staff on Jean, as neither his subordinates (like Jacobsoni) nor his superiors (like Mr. Ishiguro) have a particularly strong connection to reality. By contrast, he is merely eccentric.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Recognizes the need to keep the robots informed of long term plans. He is willing to listen to Florence when she approaches him, attempts to investigate even thought he doesn't know what he's looking for, and eventually nullifies the Gardener in the Dark by updating the robots' security software.
  • Triple Shifter: During the Gardener in the Dark crisis, to the point that he passes out on his computer even after downing enough caffeine to give a whale the jitters.
  • Unusual User Interface: Wearable computing consisting of AR glasses, and control points on his chest.
  • Workaholic: He considers a forty-hour week job to be a slow-pace, retirement type job.

     Varroa Jacobsoni 
A lower-level employee of Ecosystems Unlimited, focused on behavioral studies - specifically "annoyology."

Provides examples of:

  • Buffy Speak: He's an "annoyologist."
  • Butt-Monkey: Not too severe, but it's worth noting that his coworkers deliberately set him up to be the guy accompanying Sam while at Ecosystems Unlimited. Plus, there's the Brick Joke about giving him a wedgie (which Sam initially tried to sneak into Florence's notes for humor value).
  • Chekhov's Gunman: First shown trying to investigate who or what killed a deer. Later becomes the guy who shows Sam around Ecosystems Unlimited, and after that the employee that Clippy recruits to counter Florence's plans to stop "Gardener in the Dark."
  • Genius Ditz: He's capable of compiling and administering psychological tests very well, and he's one of the few Ecosystems Employees shown accomplishing any work. He's also seemingly the one being on all of Planet Jean that doesn't know Sam Starfall or his reputation, plus is the one employee who doesn't question Mr. Kornada...and the feral ballerina thing didn't help.
  • Meaningful Name: Varroa jacobsoni is the binomial name for a parasitic mite that attacks bees and wasps. Varroa is a professional annoyer that works for the hive-like Ecosystems Unlimited, and he's clearly not viewed as particularly important or useful.
  • Unknown Rival: An interesting variation of this trope. Florence keeps losing her memory of meeting him, but via a combination of Sam's antics and his working for Mr. Kornada, she knows who he is, who he is associated with, and what he smells like; consequently, shedoes not hold a fond opinion of him. Varroa, by all indications, is just doing what he's told and has no idea why Florence dislikes him, making this an interesting case of him being an Unknown Rival to someone who doesn't remember him, either.

     The Chief of Police 
The Chief of Police of Jean, he's a very likable person who apparently suffered a severely debilitating accident sometime in the past, so he now has to use a sophisticated exoskeleton to get around. Despite this he's very cheerful and does his best to keep the citizens of Jean, not to mention the robots and Florence, safe.

Provides examples of:

  • Covered in Scars: Whatever happened to him left the Chief severely scarred, blinded, and either paraplegic or legless. Fortunately the exoskeleton he wears built for him by Dr. Bowman helps him get around without any difficultly.
  • Cyborg: Overlapping with Mindlink Mates, as the Chief and his mobility rig are neurally linked whenever he's in public.
  • Dented Iron: It's not shown what the chief of police has gone through, but he needs a special suit to get around.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Very definitely good scars.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Implied to be the source of his scars.
  • No Name Given: So far, he's just "The Chief," although the AI in his mobility rig goes by "L Linear" or "Eleanor."
  • The Pollyanna: He's unfailingly cheerful and good-humoured. Although he acknowledges the severity of his disabilities when the subject comes up, he's more inclined to joke about how a false moustache just doesn't cut it as a disguise anymore.
  • Punny Name: Not just "Eleanor" - his mobility rig's AI is "L Linear Rig B", or "Eleanor Rigby".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: He doesn't overstep the bounds of the law, but he's willing to bend it slightly to protect edge cases of What Measure Is a Non-Human? like Florence. He is also very careful to set a good example for the robots on the police force.
  • Relationship Reveal: While the couple thing could be interpreted in multiple ways...At least, until this strip
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: "Eleanor" has to tell people when it's acting autonomously on the Chief's behalf, and has human taste in food thanks to experiencing it through the Chief's senses at a formative age.
  • Robosexual: He and his L Linear mobility rig AI consider themselves a couple.
  • Sleepwalking: When he wants to sleep late the AI in his exoskeleton gets up and starts their day with him asleep inside the suit.
  • The Faceless: For the longest time readers only saw him while he was wearing his helmet with a reflective faceplate, leading many to assume he was a robot like many of his officers.

     Henri Mer 
The Chief of the polar base, where Ecosystems Unlimited has an important asset for the future of the company. Despite being repeatedly outsmarted at first, he shows that he's much more on-the-ball than he first appears.

Provides examples of:

  • Butt-Monkey: He's the prime focus of the shenanigans of Dr. Bowman.
    Henri: Trust me, a towel snap from a fully grown chimp is something you never forget.
  • Insistent Terminology: He's not fond of having his title (Chief of Operations) rendered into French, despite his name.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: While he certainly isn't happy with Florence's unannounced and unplanned appearance at his base, his prime motivation is to make sure that she isn't there to harm anyone and to get her back to where she belongs. He prefers to use reason, rather than direct orders, to make this happen. He also takes time to apologize for underlings who don't act nearly as reasonable.
  • Secret Test of Character: Not so much secret, but when he finds out that he's the only one who can give Florence direct orders now, he assumes it's a test from Dr. Bowman.
  • Spotting the Thread: He's decent at this, in terms of being able to eventually figure out what Dr. Bowman has done to get away with things. He's still a step slow in comparison, but he's comparatively a very flexible thinker overall.
  • Troll: Puts screens with outrageous scenes on the way out of his secret base so if somebody peeks they'll have something to talk about.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: For all that Dr. Bowman puts him through, Henri seems to legitimately care for said tormentor, and appreciates all that comes from it.


Example of: