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Crew of the Savage Chicken

    Sam Starfall
Captain of the Savage Chicken. A sapient, 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 sapient 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.
  • Allergic to Routine: After the scientists investigating his homeworld accidentally took him with them when they left, they offered him an environment tailored to his needs with every amenity he could wish for; the only condition would be to talk about his society with them. Sam immediately saw this arrangement as a Gilded Cage and kept escaping until he was furnished with his current suit.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Gives a really good one to the inspector at the end of the Savage Chicken's inspection.
  • 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".
  • Batman Gambit: Sam is really good at manipulating people using what he knows either about them in particular or in general.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Rather good at these, actually.
  • 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.
    • He also regards the very concept of romance in any form as an assassination attempt. Seeing as how mating is fatal for his species, this makes sense. Expanding upon this trait is the fact that any members of his species that do procreate do so young during the equivalent of adolescence, meaning that Sqids who reach adulthood have no biological imperative for long-term survival, which explains why Sam is so keen to take life-threatening risks.
    • When he explains his kind's morality in its most basic form, Mr. Thurmad notes how it is actually very close to human nature.
    Sam: Look out for yourself. Look out for your group. Take advantage of those who aren't in your group. Keep as much as you can without causing your group to attack you.
  • Brown Note Being: Played for laughs, but looking at Sam without the protective shell of his environment suit is not good for the psyche of humans and human adjacent beings. It's implied to be a combination of looking like the more gross varieties of sea life and posessing chromatophores that make him look like he exists in more than three dimensions. To those not affected, he reportedly looks like "a bowl of spaghetti".
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Almost literally. He likes to identify himself as a chronic lawbreaker, but lacks the actual malice to be this.
  • Character Development: He has the unerring ability to trigger this into anyone he interacts with. Helix is slowly learning right from wrong from him and Florence, Florence herself has begun questioning laws and authority, and the Jean robots are learning concepts humanity would very much prefer they would ignore (that they should learn anyway to have any real chance in a human-dominated society). His own development is slower, but very real, starting with accepting Florence as part of his crew and the realization he values some things above his usual petty greed and hunger for fame.
  • 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.
  • Chekhov's Skill: After the Mayor left on her drive around the world, her assistant talks Sam into learning accounting. Then the Chief of Police asks Sam to look into why an asteroid base is costing more to run than it should. Sure enough, once he speaks to de Morel, he asks for the manager's accounting ledgers in order to get a full picture for the data as well as the causes.
  • 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: Downplayed. 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, albeit for more benevolent reasons (at least from his perspective). He's so far succeeded in heavily influencing both Helix and Florence and is now teaching robots how to subvert the law and operate in legal grey areas. Ironically, Florence aims to do the reverse with him, and has had similar success.
  • 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.
    • We later see Sam's cartoonish interpretation of a Sqid, which roughly looks like a fleshy mass with several tentacles that end in appendages similar to hands. It appears to be incapable of unaided locomotion on land, depending on a set of sticks, which combined with the tentacles, serve as the motion limbs. Later on, Sam is partly shown outside his suit; his interpretation appears to have been mostly accurate.
    • Helix, who has seen Sam without his suit, describes him as looking like a bowl of spaghetti.
  • Curiosity Is a Crapshoot: Sam has a great deal of trouble controlling his curiosity. Whether it ends up good or bad depends on the situation.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: In true sqiddly fashion, Sam does this by starting a list of people he cannot steal from. For the first 3000 or so strips, it was just just his crew of Florence and Helix, with the possible addition of Max Post being a trickier target than he anticipated. Then he discovers his past attempts at stealing from Winston are undermined by his having more stuff than he can reasonably use. Then the mayor's assistant, on taking the office, helps him start terraforming a planet for the sqids. Then he comes up with an idea for a robot park, for which multiple robots will be helping him. Then he starts helping robots learn to be thieves.
    Sam: If I ever thought I might have to get out of this hole, I would have paid attention to how fast I was digging.
  • The Dreaded: In certain aspects. While he's often chased by mobs and is treated relatively casually by the police and everyone else, no one wants to make a specific enemy of him since his capacity for mischief and chaos is unmatched, aside from the Mayor (who got buried in thrown pies for her trouble, among other indignities). Niomi manages to threaten a space station into lowering the ramped-up parking fee even lower than the original price by suggesting Sam might be offended and seek to recoup the cash in his usual ways.
    Station Manager: Sam Starfall!? I thought he was an urban legend!
  • 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 which humans are familiar, although he has it in writing that this is not the case.
  • Enemy Mine: Tends to inspire this in a few people.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first few strips of the comic tell you everything you need to know about Sam's character.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While the majority of his morality is in blue and orange, there are a few moments where he actually acts decent by human standards.
    • He may be extremely selfish, but even he draws the line at abandoning Florence to her death in exchange for a bribe.
      Sam: I'm turning down money. I'm actually turning down money. This is a command decision that will haunt me the rest of my life.
    • 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.
    • Similarly, while he's an unapologetic thief, he finds "no honor in stealing from the poor", and even decides to deliberately target those that pull off indiscriminate scams that hurt them as a result.
    • When Florence asks him if he intends to take advantage of the bomb factory robots, he outright admits he does. However, he also points he's a symbiotic scoundrel - while he certainly is going to do everything in his power to directly benefit from whatever deal he strikes, he is going to put in as much work to make sure his "victim" also benefits more than if he had done nothing, which, as much as he would loathe the description, sounds like an actual job and doing it with full diligence.
  • 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 has no understanding of most sciences and is prone to coming up with terrible ideas, but he's 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.
    • He also has a knack for finding the flaws in systems, whether that's identifying an individual who's the weak link (most notably Mr Kornada during the "Mr Snart" incident) or spotting an exploitable issue with a social system.
      Florence: What were you two talking about?
      Niomi: Economics. The means of production. Capital. Land. Labor. Sam is very good at finding loopholes and system exploits. Very, very, very good. Would you mind if we put on a horror movie? I need something to calm my nerves.
  • Greed: One of his major motives. Perhaps amusingly, or perhaps indicatively of his alien nature, he never actually speaks about spending any of the money he wants to steal on anything at all.
  • Heavy Sleeper: When he falls asleep next to Helix when watching a movie, Florence arrives, wakes Helix up and curls up next to Sam, who briefly wakes up a few hours later, takes stock of Florence next to him, and falls asleep again. By the time he properly wakes up, Florence's gone, and he's lamenting she's as quiet as Helix... or Sawtooth. His own reflection on the sqid tradition of "looting songs" suggests it's a species trait.
  • The Hero's Journey: Sam at least seems to think he's on this.
  • Hidden Depths
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Happens to Sam a fair bit as he isn't always keen to think things through. However, he's actually rather skilled at maneuvering others into doing this to themselves and does so a few times, such as when he tricked Dvorak, Qwerty, and Sawtooth into coming up with a dastardly plan for him, which Sawtooth had to admit was rather brilliant.
  • 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.
  • Impossible Theft: Several robots on Jean have learned that if they shake hands with Sam, they need to count the number of fingers they have afterwards.
  • 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 hummingbirds) 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's lazy, selfish and irresponsible, but proves to have a surprisingly strong moral core and loyalty to his crew when pressed.
  • Karmic Thief: His eventual decision when it comes to balancing his developing moral centre with continuing his criminal career.
    Sam: There is no honor in stealing from the poor. Accounting trails can lead us to who are behind those scams. Those are the individuals who deserve our personal attention.
  • Legacy Seeker: Most members of Sam Starfall's species are sterile, so they try to immortalize themselves in deed instead — in Sam's case, by becoming Famed In-Story as an audacious Lovable Rogue. He then takes on a more ambitious and surprisingly altruistic goal: to find and terraform a suitable planet for future generations of his species to colonize.
  • Lethally Stupid: The Savage Chicken's computer certainly seems to think so as Sam's playing around with the controls after Florence's repairs result in the system learning and systematically locking him out of anything that could further damage the ship. It even locks him out of the kitchen despite Sam not leaving the cockpit.
    Helix: It's also recommending I take away your tooth brush before someone gets hurt.
  • 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. Later on, he becomes a straight example; most of the people who previously found him irritating have come to at least tolerate him, and he's demonstrated a surprisingly honourable streak for someone irritated by humanity's lack of good burgling songs.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Most of his schemes boil down to this, because he views crime as an end in itself and therefore does not make plans to profit from, conceal or dispose of the loot; in particular, there's often a step where he expects to simultaneously get off scot free and be renowned for the crime he just committed without plans to accomplish either. Or he'll rig a JATO rocket to a truck without a plan for landing it. At one point he manages to commit the "perfect crime" by removing all the steps, including the one where he actually commits the crime, by concealing "stolen" satellites in the places he was paid to deliver them to. (That being said, when he does have a clear idea, it's usually a doozy, like the Sqid planet one; it's just that all his other schemes tend to have holes you could drive a truck through, which he papers over with improvised ideas.)
  • 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.
    • This turns out to be one of the only ways Florence can keep him away from something. A decent lock would entice him to try and break through it to see what is being kept inside and no lock at all would tempt him to mess with contents just because he could. However, a childproof lock is something Sam considers completely beneath his skills and so he refuses to touch them.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • "I'm turning down money. I'm actually turning down money. This is a command decision that will haunt me for the rest of my life."
    • To successfully break Florence out of Ecosystems Unlimited ahead of an attempt to silence her, a disguised Sam turns in Kornada's "lost" wallet - with all the money still inside.
    • When Sam accepts the first blackmail offer the Chief of Police gives him, the Chief realizes that he really wants Florence back.
    • When the Chief 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:
  • 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. Hilariously, this causes him to see a typical romantic comedy as an assassination plot.
  • 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!
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Sam seems to like practicing what could be charitably called 'sustainable thievery' in that he refuses to kill or steal from the poor, because such actions lead to the targets of theft becoming unable to produce more wealth to steal later.
  • The Prankster: Sam is all about pranking and generally causing trouble for others, though none of his plans have involved the intent to cause real harm.
  • Pride: The other one of his major motives. He doesn't just want to steal stuff, but to be renowned for daring heists.
  • Refuge in Audacity: One of Sam's favorite tactics.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Well, Required Secondary Equipment. Sqids live in a higher-density atmosphere than humans do, so his environment suit is designed to contain him safely. It's also designed to operate in a biped society, so contains a exoskeleton with a roughly humanoid figure. The combined requirements mean it needs to come with head and eye protection as well as sound filters.
  • 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, is an excellent philosopher and a skilled spy well used to analyzing and dealing with problems with lateral thinking.
  • 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.
  • The Trickster: Sam basically checks every box. Furthermore, Sam does not hold firmly to any convention, including this one. If it furthers his schemes or desires, he is willing to play the straight man.
  • Trickster Mentor: Sam takes time to educate others on his philosophy and the art of thievery and dishonest tactics. Both Helix and Florence actually grow as individuals under his tutelage and he's begun extending this instruction to the robot populations of Jean.
    Random Robot: Mob tactics. Dishonesty. Unpleasantness. Selfishness. You teach us things humans would rather we didn't know. You have given us much to think about.
  • Troll: In addition to fame and riches, one of Sam's major motivators is simply screwing with people's heads for either his own amusement or to liven things up.
    Sam: I'm tempted to play this one straight. Less profit, but it will be worth it just to see how many heads explode back home when they find out all three parties trusted me as a negotiator.
  • Unaffected by Spice: Seems to lack the receptors for capsaicin. He plans on exploiting this in drinking contests.
  • 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.
    • The previous owners of the Savage Chicken actually were trying to exploit this when they gave the ship to Sam, in the hopes he'd get himself killed in trying to fix the ship. He just might have if he hadn't gotten Florence working for him.
  • Wants a Prize for Basic Decency: When Sam is involved in a very public and high profile good deed, he wants to be recognized for it based solely on the fact that such acts are out of character for him even though he didn't even do that much of the work. He even realizes exactly how unfair it is, and still wants his prize.
  • 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.
  • Wild Card: "I don't want Sam on my side. However, I don't want Sam on the other side even more."
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Parodied in this strip.

    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:

  • Fire-Breathing Diner: An extremely rare example of Exaggerated Trope that is also Truth in Television. As a canine, Florence can't even smell spicy foods without her nose feeling like it's on fire. When the crew is making hot sauce to transport to the station, Florence has to wear a gas mask.
  • 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.
  • Genetic Engineering Is the New Nuke: An artificial, semibiological AI.
  • Guile Hero: Florence prefers to use her wits whenever possible.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In the Fourth Wall Mailslot thread, Florence admits to romance novels being a guilty pleasure for her.
  • Heroic Dog: Technically a Noble Wolf.
  • 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.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Averted. Florence's hacking of the secondary servers is portrayed very realistically.
    If people knew how much security is lost when someone has physical access to their machine, they'd keep their computers locked inside a safe and wrapped in barbed wire.
  • 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: Florence has a tendency to base her view of threat levels on statistics of deaths and injuries caused, which are heavily weighted against large predators because humanity has had ample experience with giving obvious threats as few opportunities to cause harm as possible.
  • Interspecies Romance: With Winston. Though it's discussed a few times that other people might see it as Bestiality Is Depraved.
  • 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 ravaged 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.
  • Not so Above It All: A few instances, but perhaps the best was when, given a guaranteed twenty minutes to herself, she decided to take a shower with her rubber ducky squeaky toy.
  • 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.
  • Outside-the-Box Tactic: Prolonged contact with Sam and the robots of Jean has, as Doctor Bowman comments, "put [his] design through the wringer" and forced her to begin developing a more flexible mindset. The very fact she was able to develop a plan that hinged on carrying out illegal actions in order to stop the release of the program stuns Sawtooth, Dvorak and Qwerty, all of whom find such an idea literally unthinkable.
  • Phrase Catcher: "DOGGY!" (whenever a robot using a brain created on Jean meets Florence for the first time)
  • Pragmatic Hero: As an engineer, Florence is very fond of pragmatic solutions. While she prefers to be moral, she can readily recognize when a situation has placed her in a position where traditional morals are decidedly not optimal for solving the problem.
  • Properly Paranoid:
  • 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.
  • Quizzical Tilt: Often seen doing this when she's puzzled by something.
  • Running on All Fours: Occasionally, particularly when in a hurry.
  • Slave to PR
    • It's a major motivation and influence on Florence's character. She strives to prove at every point that Bowman's Wolves are stable, friendly and helpful, since she wants her species to continue, and that won't happen without Ecosystems Unlimited shifting their viewpoint on them from "liabilities" to "assets" in a way the public can support.
    • Among other things, this also prompts her to act extremely professional and stoically when she's at-work. It's deconstructed by the fact it's so stressful that, after keeping up an imperturbable act the entire time she was inspecting the reactor from a derelict ship (which the crew was promised as payment, is actually completely unsalvageable, and the ship needs to return to Jean), she excuses herself afterwards to go scream into a pillow.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: When Clippy reveals that he's the only robot Mr. Kornada would allow to work on his Get-Rich-Quick Scheme, Florence immediately realizes that puts a very easy, if horrible, solution on the table.
  • Teach Him Anger: It's joked a few times that Florence should take anger management courses after incidents where she doesn't get angry.
  • They Have the Scent!: Florence's ability to track a scent is just as good as one would expect. Though it also comes with all the same drawbacks and limitations.
  • Those Wily Coyotes: Between Loophole Abuse of orders and safeguards, being The Engineer, Sam's influence, and having actual coyote heritage through her red wolf DNA, Florence more than qualifies. Florence is arguably more clever than Sam, which is saying something.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: Florence would greatly prefer to be both, but when the chips are down she regularly chooses 'Good' over 'Lawful'.
  • Tomboyish Voice: Per Word of God, Florence has a deep, likely masculine-sounding voice because of how her vocal chords were adapted as part of her uplifting.
  • 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.
  • Wolf Man: 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.
  • Wolves Always Howl at the Moon: Despite being in space, Florence wants to be the first wolf to howl at Jean's new moon.

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". Was donated to the mayor before the Savage Chicken and crew left for a satellite refueling mission. Last seen trying again to eat Sam at a pancake breakfast attended by most of the cast (major exceptions are Mr. Kornada, Blunt, and Edge).

Provides examples of:

  • Eat the Dog: Florence once attempted to eat her after she stole her dinner, Helix managed to talk her out of it.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: A thirty-kilo omnivorous (with a particular taste for sqid tentacles) bird with the unassuming name of “Polly”.
  • 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:

  • Admiring the Abomination: Prone to this.
  • Ambiguous Gender: When Ishiguro asks Dvorak if they've chosen a gender Dvorak answers "gay". When he points out that's an orientation, not a gender, Dvorak revises to "intersex".
  • 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.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Qwerty, at least in spirit. Dvorak, by his own admission, is gay, but the context strongly implies he has little to no understanding of the concept, and as a robot, he doesn't seem to experience sexual attraction regardless. That being said, he and Qwerty are still inseparable.
  • Information Wants to Be Free: His catchphrase.
  • Logic Bomb: One of Dvorak's inventions is "Omniquantism"note , a religious doctrine that has been known to make one Artificial Intelligence in three lock up when they hear it. He came up with it in response to another logic bombnote .
  • 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.
      Mr Ishiguro: Is the containment chamber for viruses or you?
    • 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. As opposed to, you know, new legs. By the time Florence and Sawtooth get the leg parts back to him, he's already built it and sent it out for a test drive.
      Dvorak: I can't see him wanting his old legs back. His new set is much faster.
      Florence: Can you contact him on the net?
      Dvorak: Already did. He replied "AAAAAHHHH!!!"
      Dvorak: I thought he'd stop when he reached the coast, but he's already half way across the ocean. He really should have told me he was going to do that. I would have waterproofed the design.
    • After his and Qwerty's owner died, they apparently dug up and motorised his corpse. And put the instructions online.
      Dvorak: But you must admit, that was the most memorable "Day of the Dead" celebration ever.
  • Meaningful Name: The Dvorak keyboard layout was developed to increase typing efficiency compared to the QWERTY standard, but has failed to catch on because QWERTY is, well, the standard. Trying to teach oneself to type in Dvorak seems clever but is ultimately impractical, which sums up Dvorak's inventor mentality quite well.


Dvorak's bipedal partner.

Provides examples of:

    Sawtooth Rivergrinder 

A truck-sized terraforming robot who enjoys playing detective.

Provides examples of:

  • Anvilicious: Struggles with the concept of 'subtle'.
    Sawtooth: I make river ways. I know how to be subtle. That's when I use chemical explosives instead of nuclear.
  • 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.
  • Boring, but Practical: His attitude when offered to change to a much more interesting (and also smaller) body by the mall AI.
    Mall: I mean, can't you picture yourself in this jaguar sports body?
    Sawtooth: Wouldn't last two days at the job site. Keep your sports model, I'm happy with my beetle.
  • Embarrassing Ringtone: It's not the delay I mind, it's the embarrassing noises I make when I back up.
  • Gentle Giant: Most of the time he's more inclined to talk things out, except where Sam is involved.
  • Hidden Depths: Desires to become a detective and has an interest in music... one that he's combined with his talents as a terraforming robot.
    Dvorak: Ah, yes. Orbital Bombardment in D Minor.
    Sawtooth: It's not often you get to play an entire planet as a percussion instrument.
  • 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.
  • Meaningful Name: Sawtooth Rivergrinder has sawtoothed blades on his underside and he carves out riverways as part of Jean's terraforming process.
  • 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.
  • No-Sell: Mostly discussed, but as a heavy duty terraforming robot, he has several features most other robots don't. Aside from being bigger, stronger, and tougher in general he is waterproof and has taken lightning strikes before, considering them equivalent to a pie to the face in terms of danger to himself.
  • Not a Morning Person: Downplayed, but Sawtooth is more than happy to perform system updates when he wakes up, considering them to be the robot equivalent of the snooze button.
  • 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. Plus, he has the ability to repair holes he makes.
    Red Factory Robot: You could have knocked.
    Sawtooth: Doors are for the weak.
    • That said, he does learn from the incident and later on gets a small flying drone body (confirmed to be his here) to allow him to follow others indoors. However, this may be due to the fact that humans were present in the structure and him crashing through walls would be a gross violation of his safeguards.


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:

  • Badass Boast: Says the robot equivalent of "I've looked Death in the eye and forced it to back off" in strip 1319.
  • Bothering by the Book: He insists on doing everything by the rules, no matter what. Heck, it's implied one of the main reasons he's able to stop Gardener in the Dark from forcefully installing itself is because he was previously ordered to not install new software because of damage to his neural net from a solar flare. When the mayor orders no harm to robots in the wake of Gardener in the Dark, he decides to instead cut off production by confiscating key parts from the manufacturing plants for quality control purposes because no orders were issued to protect the factories and those parts are due for testing.
    Edge: You are the most law abiding saboteur I've ever encountered.
  • 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.
  • Didn't Think This Through: His plan to keep Florence away from the primary servers.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Blunt wants to know what exactly Gardener in the Dark does, he needs an expendable test robot as the program is dangerous enough that he had to shut himself off to stop it. While Edge is keen to just grab any robot they can force, Blunt insists on getting one that is okay with a procedure that could kill it.
  • 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.
  • A Father to His Men: Basically how Blunt intends to recruit minions in a nutshell.
  • Foil: To both Florence and Sam.
    • For Florence, as they are both very dedicated to their philosophies and each wants what they think is best for humanity. However, where Florence sees artificial intelligence (and indeed non-human intelligence in general) as people worthy of respect, Blunt only sees potential threats to humanity. Where Florence is mentally flexible enough to subvert orders and is willing to do so to help others over her own needs, Blunt is painfully rigid in following the rules even when he knows it works against him and actively sought out a direct order to serve his own ends.
    • For Sam, it's even more poignant as they both preach against We Have Become Complacent, each thinking it one of the biggest long-term threats to humanity as a whole. However, where Sam champions introducing new chaos factors to keep humans on their toes, Blunt (as shown above under Evil Luddite) wants to bring back old chaos factors that humans have long since overcome.
  • Handy Shortcoming: The damage from the solar flare drastically slowed down his clock speed, which allows him to defend himself from Gardener in the Dark.
  • 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.
  • Hypocrisy Nod: When Florence points out that machines don't worry.
    Blunt: Luckily. I am. Advanced enough. Not to be stopped. By a logical contradiction.
  • Insane Troll Logic: As far as he is concerned, robots are a threat and must be destroyed. Everything else is secondary to this. Human desires, human quality of life, not to mention robot lives, are all irrelevant. The fact that robots can do an incredible amount of good for humanity, and destroying them would do an incredible amount of harm to humanity, is ignored because a robot could harm humans, theoretically, at some point. He does have a few good points, but they all stem from his core goal of destroying all robots no matter the cost.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • His efforts to investigate Gardener in the Dark assembled necessary tools for Florence to thwart it.
    • 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.
    • A very good argument on the dangers posed by robots just happens to be also a very good argument against the Direct Order system:
      Blunt: One last. Point. Mr. Kornada. Ordered. You. To believe him. Could robots. Be ordered. Into a certain. State of mind. And let loose. Like an army. Of true believers. Unable. To be swayed. By those. With lesser clearance?
      Clippy: Yes. (beat) It sounds scary when you phrase it like that.
  • 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.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: His Establishing Character Moment is that he is decidedly not a normal robot.
    Nickel: Two robots tried to disassemble me. Sam and Helix rescued me.
    Florence: What? Were they malfunctioning?
  • 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.
  • Villain Has a Point: Often. Just not always the one he thinks he's making.
    Sawtooth (thinking): For a blunt speaker, he makes a dangerously sharp argument.
  • 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.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Blunt thinks that "Gardener in the Dark" was being released because intelligent robots were proving too dangerous to humanity. While he's right that it was developed as a last-ditch safeguard in case the robots went rogue, he's completely wrong about why Mr. Kornada is using it.
  • 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."
    • Ironically, it's strongly implied that he's evaded the one that was deliberately designed into him and the other Jean robots because the solar flare damage kept him from growing past and redefining his safeguards; he has a Zeroth Law Rebellion because he failed to have one.


Blunt's apprentice at Quality Control.

Provides examples of:


A robotic ship called by Sawtooth to help defuse 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.
    Blunt's questioning at the trial reveals to the rest of Jean that this could be done to any robot under Direct Orders.
  • 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. And then of course throw direct orders into the mix and he was forced to believe that Kornada was the best human being alive.
  • Insane Troll Logic: By virtue of having to obey Mr. Kornada's direct orders, as lampshaded in this strip.
    Clippy: I hope I ran over something. Otherwise, that audible snap noise was my brain.
  • 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. Even then, he was constantly trying to get Kornada to choose other options.
  • 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.
  • Undying Loyalty: To Mr. Ishiguro, as shown when he believes Mr. Ishiguro might get sent to "That other place", and calmly states that he'd follow.
  • 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.
  • Weapon of Mass Destruction: Clippy's cyberweapon software is stronger than something capable of subverting a city network.

    The JarJarBot 
A robot that, until recently, was part of an amusement park. Despite being programmed with the full works of Shakespeare, he was forced to play the role of Jar-Jar Binks for twenty years. Understandably, this left him with a bit of a complex.

Provides examples of:

  • Classically-Trained Extra: A robot thespian programmed with the entirety of Shakespeare's oeuvre... sent to play the role a buffoonish clown for twenty years.
  • Driven to Suicide: He's introduced willingly marching into the recycling center; he's barely saved by Edge and Blunt... who have their own plans for him.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Quotes A Tale of Two Cities as he prepares to start the Gardener in the Dark test. He would have found it intolerable to go out quoting Jar-Jar.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Forced to sing "It's a Small World" in full Jar-Jar costume.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Doesn't remember anything from when he experienced the effects of Gardener in the Dark. In fact, his memory stops at the point he was heading to the recycling center and restarts a few days afterwards; he concludes something went horribly wrong at some point.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Interacting with Sam renewed his will to live, and joins the Mayor in her tour around Jean.
  • Playing with Syringes: A programming version. Blunt and Edge rescue him from his intended destruction to help them test the effects of Gardener in the Dark.
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: Inverted. After the Gardener in the Dark test, he's left a near-mindless copy of Jar-Jar, with none of the emotional depth he'd previously shown (and in fact, loses most of his dexterity and mobility). Fortunately, it's only temporary until Florence can undo the effects.
  • Worth Living For: His new mission in life: stopping Sam's idea of a production of The Merchant of Venice with an all-Wookiee cast.


    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.
    Mr. Ishiguro: We want things to go smoothly and happily. Happy colonists plan for the future, build, spend more, and take out loans. We have to think long term. I want my grandkids to be taking money from their grandkids.
    Mr. Raibert: Sometimes I can't tell if you're more or less evil than other C.F.O.'s I know.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Whether it's to his uncle or a subordinate, he's prone to smart remarks.
  • Defcon Five: Actually uses the term correctly.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Left Clippy with his uncle because he hoped Clippy would inspire Mr. Kornada to develop a work ethic.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: He understands that fostering a moral and happy society is good for the economy, and anything good for the economy is good for his bottom line.
  • Eye Pop: Second panel is perhaps the closest the comic's come to onenote .
  • 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.
  • Pet the Dog: A lot of the things he does are morally ambiguous, but his treatment of Clippy is not done out of a profit motive. It would have been easy to leave him for someone else to deal with after he testified, but Mr. Ishiguro insisted on helping his rehabilitation. He even decided to adopt him.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Discussed. The words "smart, practical, and a little bit evil" are on his resume, and he finds ways to make his company profit while looking good doing so. In particular, he tries to explain to his uncle how becoming the richest man in the star system would be worthless since he would have immediately been murdered for ruining the colony.
    Ishiguro: It's okay to have steak when there's a chicken in every pot. But if you're eating steak and the majority of people have nothing, it doesn't take long for you to look like a chicken.
  • 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 (which nobody else attended because they were seeking shelter from the 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.
  • Believing Their Own Lies: As a result of a massively inflated ego. When Blunt asks Clippy about whether he thinks Mr. Kornada actually could have handled the fallout during his trial...
    Clippy: I still believe that Mr. Kornada believes he could have handled things.
  • 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 strip's first chapter.
  • Coattail-Riding Relative: 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!
  • Complaining About Rescues They Don't Like: Does this when Florence comes to rescue him from a hurricane and objects multiple times to his own defense during his trial.
  • 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 plan was to lobotomize all the sapient 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?
    • During his trial for the aforementioned actions, the prosecutor makes a very good argument.
      Prosecutor: We all know the type. In ancient times, Mr. Kornada would be the one to keep the miners working because the canary that died must have been defective.
  • Courtroom Antics: 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 argues a bit, then just shrugs and leaves him to his fate with "don't say I didn't try to stop you". Before their next exchange causes him to write him off entirely.
  • Get-Rich-Quick Scheme: His entire reason for releasing Gardener in the Dark amounts to one of these.
  • Greed: Combined with utter idiocy. After being presented plan to kill nearly half a billion sapients 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.
  • Hate Sink: A despicable, arrogant, self-centered, smug, greedy, entitled, sociopathic and idiotic bastard with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Nobody on Jean likes him, and the only person who does and has any respect for him is a robot who received a direct order to believe that Mr. Kornada is the greatest person on the planet.
  • 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.
  • Implausible Deniability: Deliberately and consciously takes this to an art form, to the point of openly admitting it's something he's good at.
    Mr. Kornada (thinking): As everyone knows, if it's not written down, it's not a real order. And if I can destroy the documentation, it's not written down.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Of the Corrupt Corporate Executive variety, and dialed up to 11.
  • Insanity Defense: Blunt ends up defending his actions by describing him as too stupid to be held accountable for his actions.
  • Insufferable Imbecile: Mr. Kornada is incredibly rude to anyone he doesn't 'need to suck up to'. He needs to actively be told someone is part of the latter group.
  • 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 was made 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."
    • Mr. Ishiguro, upon his return, explicitly states that the position Mr. Kornada had was a 'make work' job with no responsibilities. His job was to do nothing. And he still screwed it up.
    • 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 (of the "remove all safety labels and let the problem solve itself" variety). Specifically, the other judge would've had him working in a plant that creates chlorine trifluoride, a cleaning agent that sets just about anything it touches on-fire, from water to asbestos. In Kornada's hands, that would be a spill waiting to happen.
    • Kornada would be perfectly safe as long as he followed all instructions and paid close attention... even he realizes this is a bad idea.
  • 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 even says that he doesn't have enough empathy to be intentionally malicious.
    • Much later, as part of a mandatory ethics test administered as part of his sentence, he was given the classic "Trolley Problem" and chose to hit one person instead of five... because "It would do less damage to the trolley". The officer processing this is rightly disturbed by this rationale.
  • Lethally Stupid: If Clippy's testimony to be believed, his Get-Rich-Quick Scheme stood a rather significant chance of killing a lot of people in the fallout.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Mr. Kornada considers himself an 'idea man' who can't be bothered with anything more than setting a goal for others to carry out for him.
  • Narcissist: When Kornada claims he, himself is the most wonderful person in the world, Ishiguro doubts his uncle is aware it's a lie.
  • Never My Fault: Aside from his expertise at Implausible Deniability, he's genuinely baffled by the fact that projects he supervises perform worse than projects he doesn't, blaming it on the state of the planet.
  • 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.
    • Even earlier, him preventing Florence from meeting with Raibert meant that she was able to continue with preventing Gardener In The Dark from going online. If she had talked with Raibert like she planned, it's likely Kornada could have forced the update through with no one aware before it was too late, something discussed by Raibert and Florence later on.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Blunt aims for this, starting with the technicality that killing all the robots and stealing their money wasn't actually illegal at the time. During his trial, Blunt tries to argue that Kornada is 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, this doesn't help Mr. Kornada; the prosecuting attorney does a good job of preventing himself from being distracted, and insisting that the only important thing is the easily-provable charge arraigned agasint him, that 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.
    • Blunt's arguments don't help Kornada, but they do demonstrate that the robots need to have their Restraining Bolts updated, 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.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Mr. Kornada can charitably be called an idiot. At one point it's revealed that his old rival at picking stock investments was a trained monkey banging away at a keyboard. The monkey did better at stock-picking than Kornada did.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Mr. Kornada's emotional and intellectual maturity could be compared to a five-year old's-unfavorably. He's extremely stubborn, refuses to consider the feelings of others, and seems to be unable to understand the concept of consequences.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Mr. Kornada attempts to Invoke this when he's being placed under arrest by ordering the robots present (led by Blunt) to "defend him". Promptly and hilariously Inverted the very next panel as Blunt chooses to interpret the order as legal defense.
  • 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.
  • The Rich Want to Be Richer: To the point of having no qualms with effectively killing millions of individuals, but best encapsulated when he gripes about "only" getting 7% of the global wealth.
    Mr. Kornada: Can't we get the other 93%?
    Clippy: Mr. Kornada, it's one thing to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. It's quite another to nuke the entire farm.
  • 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.
  • Selective Obliviousness: "I tend to ignore things I don't want to hear."
  • 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.
  • Stupid Evil: Painfully so.
  • Super Gullible: Sticks his tongue to a pipe in a cryogenics facility because Sam told him to put his tongue print there.
  • 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!
    • His response to the Chief of Police placing him under arrest is to try and order robots present to assault the Chief. Fortunately for everyone involved, it doesn't work.
    • 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.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: A rather interesting variant in that Mr. Kornada is completely unaware and uncaring that his actions have wider consequences in regards to other people, much less that they could affect him negatively later. It's so bad that his biggest defender, Blunt, is actually worried that if he doesn't grow as a person, it will cause robots to start questioning the necessity of preserving the human race.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Well, it's heavily implied that he came from a rich family (his marriage was arranged to secure a familial alliance between the Kornadas and the Ishiguros) and he's a twit.
  • What Were You Thinking?: Pretty much his nephew, Mr. Ishiguro's reaction when he finally returns and learns what Kornada's been up to.

    Winston Scudder Thurmad 

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

Provides examples of:

  • 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 understand.
  • 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.
  • Cigar Chomper: She's rarely without a cigar in her mouth, indicating not only her high status as the mayor, but also marking her as rather tough and physically powerful.
  • 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 A.I.s are probably sapient, she immediately acts in their defense.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": 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.
    • At one point, she hurries out of her office in a van to pursue Sam. After she leaves the van behind to join the police in the chase, she's informed Sam has just taken the van and sped off, at which point she crows in joy at finally having something she can definitely pin on Sam... until he parks the van at her office and leaves, realizing that in the hurry, she forgot to log the use of the van, basically making it so Sam ends up looking like a good samaritan who drove back a missing vehicle back to its parking spot.
    • By the same token, she can also be manipulated into giving people she otherwise wouldn't have given the time some of her attention. Sam tricks her into hearing Florence's concerns by joining Florence in the Mayor's office before she arrives and handing her a bat, having her grab him by the neck, and going limp. The Mayor enters the scene to witness Florence apparently having beaten Sam up, and though he immediately scampers off, this ingratiates Florence to her.
  • 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 A.I.s 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.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: She's tried to take her assistant's gun to shoot Sam more than once.
  • Sword of Damocles: Refers to Ecosystems Unlimited as "the 500-kilogram gorilla of our economy" and says part of her job is to make sure that corporate executives don't try to run the planet "like their own personal fiefdom".
  • 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 these strips there are only about 20,000 adult human colonists and an additional 20,000 children on the planet at the moment. Compared to Earth, 40,000 is the population of your average mid-size or large 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.

    Niomi Lacks 
A female colonist married with two daughters that runs into Florence a couple of times and later on joins the crew of the Savage Chicken when they take a job to ferry supplies to an asteroid outpost.
  • Being Good Sucks: Niomi's a good person, but she has a moment where she reflects that, whenever she completed a job with her robot partner Tangent, she regularly split their pay 80-20 in her favor. Intellectually, she knows that now that the robots are official citizens and more of a person than ever is a wonderful thing, but she still acknowledges that before that happened, she did little more than pat herself in the back for paying Tangent anything at all, and even now, some part of her still wishes she could get away with giving him the far smaller share.
  • Beleaguered Parent: She loves her family, she really does, but one of the reasons she's taking a job at an asteroid outpost and getting a ride with the Savage Chicken crew is because she really needs a break from them.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: When discussing the planet of Pfouts which has mirror biology compared to Earth, she says it would be easier to uplift a local animal than try to colonize it. She immediately realizes she's talking to Florence, an Uplifted Animal herself.
  • Got Volunteered: Niomi considers getting to do this to her children one of the perks of parenting.
  • MacGyvering: Made a coffee press for microgravity by modifying a caulk gun.
  • The Mutiny: Causes one by accident when she joins the crew of the Savage Chicken, because the ship's AI recognizes the highest ranking human on board as the captain and Niomi is the only conscious human on board.
  • Noodle Incident: A rare unconfirmed one, but Niomi at one point says that she's found that five-year-olds and explosives are a bad combination.
  • Retail Therapy: The Real Life origins of this trope actually get Discussed when Niomi is out shopping with Florence.
  • Sadistic Choice: Downplayed, but when her youngest daughter kicks a guy for pulling Florence's tail, she can't decide whether to punish her (for kicking someone) or praise her (for defending Florence), knowing that either choice would send one right message and one wrong message.
  • Surprisingly Elite Cannon Fodder: Corporate version. Due to de Morel's attempts at downsizing the station, minimum requirements for employment are extremely high, forcing her to complete accreditation in HAZWOPER, tag out protection, radiological practices, basic firefighting, first responder, cybersecurity, protective gear, hydraulic and electrical qualification, basic and advanced environmental suit use, water chemistry, air quality, and probably more. And that's for the bottom rung of the ladder.
  • Tempting Fate: If the fate of artificial intelligence is ever up to Niomi, we'll know exactly which moment to blame.
  • Toilet-Drinking Dog Gag: Makes one by reflex when she is looking over the Savage Chicken's water system.
    (facepalming): I did not just say that.
  • Unflappable Guardian: She's a very competent parent.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sam. According to Florence, the shouting and rude gestures mean they'll get along just fine.

    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. Specifically, he has some compulsions that he has no control over like someone with OCD and has a nasty habit of not considering other people's thoughts like a sociopath.
  • The Berserker: A common trait of the uplifted chimps created for the military. Dr. Bowman, who has a dedicated tantrum room and thick padding for some of his electronics so he doesn't break them in a fit of rage is actually considered mellow by comparison.
  • 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. This is his biggest one. As in 'he will uncontrollably attempt to kill you''s also the one he feels bad about.
  • Captain Obvious: "I'm starting to suspect that you didn't come here looking for me."
  • 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 sapient robots was his doing.
  • Combat Medic: By necessity, Dr. Bowman had to engage in combat not with enemy combatants, but with his own patients due to the fact that his patients in the army were other uplifted chimps who tended to go berserk when injured which meant that he had to club them unconscious before he could treat their injuries. He feels that this did degrade his effectiveness somewhat.
  • 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: While he himself does everything he can to avert this, Florence points out that the project that created him was this. After all, wouldn't a genetically-engineered Sealed Soldier In A Stasis Pod still need to keep up with modern tactics?
    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, pan troglodytes sapiens are shorter than the homo sapiens 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 behavior. 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.
    • And it's weaponised - Henri comments that some of their best tech comes from the game of cat-and-mouse between them.
  • 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 (16 years) in, and even then he's just a voice communicating through a coffee machine. It took him another week to finally appear in person.
  • Guile Hero: His record includes a fair amount of manipulation to ensure the best possible outcome, such as by ensuring that Florence's safeguards would only be a factor rather than a total override by gridlocking the decision-making process until time ran out, thereby ensuring that whatever he'd arranged would stand as the default.
  • 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.
    Dr. Bowman: Not your fault. I was designed as a weapon. Hugability was not high on the features list.
  • 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.
  • Immortality Hurts: In his own words: "I don't know how to program a stable immortal."
  • Insufferable Genius: A very rare thoroughly heroic example.
  • 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. This is also the emotional reason why his creations see him as human. A.I.s are indebted to those responsible for their creation, so even when beings with Bowman-made brains mature enough to overrule their safeguards, they'll respect humans as their creators and are more inclined to keep them safe.
  • 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 avoid death by "testosterone poisoning", but that also ensured he'd be the last.
  • Lesser of Two Evils: The pragmatic reason all of his creations recognize him as human. Although humans can identify humans well enough, A.I.s need guidelines to identify them by; going by pure homo sapiens DNA would have them treating everything as non-human until they took a DNA sample, and other singular factors would lead to them treating many more non-humans as human. So Bowman had them look for a broad variety of factors that humans possess, got them to treat anything above 100% as human, and designed it so that a fully-functional human would come to 250%. As he puts it, if one of his brains is working in, say, meat processing, it's better that they treat something non-human as human than risk treating their coworkers as their workload.
  • 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 A.I. 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.
    Dr. Bowman At some point, I'm going to throw the data pad. I don't have control over this. If my arm goes back, get out of the way.
  • The Medic: He was trained for this, early. Since his patients were all his fellow uplifted chimps, he was also quite literally a Combat Medic.
  • 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.
  • Moral Pragmatist: Lacking an innate moral framework, Dr. Bowman has literally had to build his morals from the ground up. He still struggles with aspects that most people consider basic. It's heavily implied that his efforts to craft a personal moral framework from literally nothing is why his creations are so much better at it.
  • Rousseau Was Right: "For an animal that was uplifted to be a weapon, you have a high opinion of the human race."
  • Sociopathic Hero: 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.
  • So Proud of You: Not the letter, but the spirit.
    Bowman: You know, it's really weird and kind of exhilarating to see the A.I. I've developed doing things I can't do.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Calls people poopyhead despite having a doctorate in neurology.
  • Stop, or I Shoot Myself!: Dr. Bowman is apparently a fan of taking himself hostage.
  • Take a Third Option: Dr. Bowman is such a morally pragmatic genius that he is used to always knowing the best answer to a problem. Thus, it throws him when someone does this and he's Genre Savvy enough to realize it, such as when he offered to implant a fetus for Florence to have a child and she says 'no' because her current circumstances would not be favorable to the child.
    Florence: Was this a test?
    Dr. Bowman: I needed to see if you would choose based on your needs or the needs of your species. The correct answer was to choose what was best for your species. Instead, you chose what was best for the pup. There's a funny thing that happens when you know the correct answer. It throws you when you get a different answer that's not wrong.
  • Tap on the Head: Discussed and Subverted. Dr. Bowman feels his success as a field medic would have been better if he didn't need to club his berserk chimp patients unconscious first.
  • 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.
  • Walking Spoiler: Practically everything about him is a huge spoiler!
  • 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:

    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.
  • Nice Guy: In stark contrast to his hot-tempered boss. He even helps Sam get set up to take Accountancy classes.
  • 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:

  • Bizarre Taste in Food: His regular pizza order has Carolina Reaper peppers, sugar and coffee beans.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Part of his character is that he knows when he needs to cede control of a situation in the short term in order to achieve/maintain stability in the long term.
    Mr. Ishiguro: What is the situation with our robots down there? Is it safe? Is it stable? Is everything under our control?
    Bill Raibert: Things are safe and stable. However, if we push for "under our control", we may lose those first two conditions.
  • Never Bareheaded: Almost never seen without his broad-brimmed hat with a punch card on the headband either on his head or close by.
  • Oh, Crap!: Has an 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.
    Bill Raibert (after being awoken by a priority alert at 2:33 AM): I have a recurring nightmare that I'm never going to get a good night's sleep and then I wake up to find it's a recurring reality.
  • 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" — which, when you're investigating annoyances that could provoke a prototype AI to go rogue, is a fairly major consideration.
  • 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 tries 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.
  • Percussive Maintenance: "Only when the electrons get stuck and need a little rap to knock them loose."
  • Punch-Clock Villain: He goes along with Clippy's plans in exchange for a million-credit payout. Unusually for the trope, he's quite happy with the arrangement even after he's caught and jailed.
  • Tautological Templar: Extremely Downplayed, but his reasoning for why Florence can't be a person is that Ecosystems Unlimited makes and sells AI, if they were people EU couldn't sell them, and so AI can't be people because there's no profit in them being people. As such, it fits in nicely with the trope.
    Sam: Your logic is flawless and yet somehow Florence remains a person.
  • 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, she does 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:

    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:

  • Big Brother Instinct: For all that Dr. Bowman is a genius moral sociopath who's older than Henri by decades, Henri still considers him 'not wise about the ways of the world' and seeks to protect him from those who might take advantage of his social ignorance.
  • 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.
  • Not so Above It All: He realizes that Florence - not being part of the base's crew - didn't get clothing fabricated automatically, and asks if she wants his shirt or his pants to wear. She wants the shirt, as she'd be distracted by someone not wearing pants - and he then asks if that means she actually wants the shirt, or to work on her conversational skills.
  • 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.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: When they're found out, the wife of the husband/wife duo asks about the possibility of giving him a cut of $40 million to look the other way.
    Husband: You think we're in trouble now? Go ahead and make him that offer.
  • 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.
  • Seen It All: Given that he works with Dr. Bowman for a living, pretty much. He's not the least bit surprised when Bowman manages to hack the drone that's meant to capture him - or the coffeemaker, for that matter.
  • 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.
    • To give an analogy? He's smart enough to stand OUTSIDE the warehouse with a bomb about to go off... but not QUITE smart enough to realize there's a bomb in the warehouse in time to defuse it.
  • 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.

    Gregor Mendel Thurmad and Tess Thurmad 
Winston's parents. They live in the Pournelle/Niven Transfer Station, a few weeks' space travel from Jean.

Provide examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Gregor laughs a bit when Florence gives Tess a very good comeback to the question of what it feels like to be in heat.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Mother: Tess, who doesn't think before hugging Florence and babbling about her internal makeup before even exchanging a proper hello.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Massively averted with Gregor. He's a deeply religious man with deep, critical opinions on the soul, humanity's evolutionary future, and the many questions A.I.s present on that regard... and quick enough on the uptake to realize Sam is basically a Sqid spy.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Tess immediately gets naked when arriving at the Thurmad apartment. When Gregor tries to talk to her, making it clear she's making Florence uncomfortable, Tess replies she's doing it to distract her from how uncomfortable Gregor is with the idea of Winston entering a relationship with her. Besides, she's interested in looking closer at Florence and feels it would be impolite not to reciprocate.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Gregor helps keep Tess's excitement from getting out of hand.
  • Genetic Adaptation: Tess feels humans must always adapt to remain competitive and continuously advocates for rather extreme measures to comparatively minor issues. Gregor's comparatively more conservative, thinking humans should first figure out what they want to become before starting recombining genes.
  • Genki Girl: Tess, who babbles a mile a minute and likes to wave her arms around in joy.
  • Girls with Moustaches: Tess keeps a handlebar moustache. Winston explains that it's a speech filter; if she meets someone who gets hung up on the moustache, she'll keep her conversation topics more mundane, whereas if they take it in stride, she's comfortable talking about genetics.
  • Good Parents: Tess prefers to think of the happiness between Winston and Florence first when considering their relationship: while Gregor is less receptive, he does make a sustained effort to learn about and work with Florence with an open mind.
  • Henpecked Husband: Mildly. It just takes Tess grabbing his ear threateningly to make him take back a statement she didn't take kindly to. They otherwise have a fairly even relationship where each tries their best to listen to and understand the other.
  • I Want Grandkids: Tess is remarkably open to the idea of Winston and Florence together, up to all but shoving them into a bedroom. In comparison, Gregor's stoicism is stretched to the limits in response to Tess' enthusiasm.
  • Meaningful Name: Gregor, named after Gregor Mendel, father of genetics.
  • Motor Mouth: Tess. At one point, Florence wonders if she'd notice her absence if she slipped to the kitchen.
  • Naked People Are Funny:
    • To Winston's dismay and Florence's shock, Tess considers clothing optional in the privacy of her apartment, and immediately slips out of her dress the instant she's inside. Tellingly, Gregor stoically says he will have a chat with her... before she does something really embarrassing. Later, Florence ends up encountering a nude Tess after dinner. Her dialogue with Gregor afterwards makes it clear it's a regular occurrence.
    • When this tactic fails to work, Tess invites Florence to a spa. Florence confirms that it is not a clothing-optional location before agreeing... only to discover that that means there is no option to wear clothing.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: Tess immediately invades Florence's space, eager to not only meet but also analyze one of Dr. Bowman's creations.
  • Not so Above It All:
    • Gregor Spit Takes when Tess asks Florence what it's like to be in heat, laughs when Florence argues that humans are, effectively, always in heat, and is apparently one to sing when travelling (and fond of singing in Klingon, to boot).
    • On the other end of "above it all", Tess has so far reacted very nonchalantly to all sorts of interactions with non-humans... [except for the sight of an unclad sqid.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Tess plays up her foibles to ease both Florence and Gregor into each other's presence.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: Gregor is fairly calm and polite when introducing himself, while Tess goes in for a Glomp that quickly goes further into detailed examination and analysis of Florence before she's even introduced herself while Gregor calmly reminds her she's just met Florence.
  • Scenery Censor: When Tess goes nude in the lobby of the spa (the spa itself is the only area that does not allow clothes at all), the local receptionist drops his papers in shock while telling her the lobby still requires being clothed. The fluttering papers conveniently obscure Tess's naughty bits.
  • The Singularity: In Tess' opinion, from a wolf's viewpoint, Florence is already there. Gregor is against the idea of the trope in general, feeling ignorance is a key part of growing as a species, quoting Mark Twain on the subject. However, he admits research on biological A.I.s could do much to solve the issue, which is why Tess is so excited about learning about Florence.
  • Space Amish: Gregor is a former Techno Amish, who use computer systems only up to Windows XP.
  • Spit Take: Gregor, after Tess opens her conversation with Florence by asking what it's like to be in heat.
  • The Stoic: In complete contrast to his wife, Gregor's expression remains largely set in stone; he largely stands back and stays quiet while Tess gleefully introduces herself. He doesn't emote much either when Tess strips down in their apartment even though most would likely look embarrassed or at least a little worried. This makes it difficult to tell that he is, in fact, uncomfortable with the relationship his son is entering.
  • Transhumans in Space: What they were hoping for Winston. Unfortunately, his personality did not mesh with these expectations and he preferred to live planetside on Jean.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Three things that would disturb Gregor Thurmad greatly, in increasing order of severity: If intelligent AI didn't have souls; If humanity was capable of creating artificial beings with souls; If no one at all had souls. He's also interested in the social similarities between Sqids and humans.

    Ames de Morel 
Station manager of the Pournelle/Niven Transfer Station.

Provide examples of:

  • Bait-and-Switch: Tells Sam he doesn't want to fire anyone - only to replace the people who leave or retire with automation. Then it turns out he's deliberately worsening the working conditions to "encourage" workers to leave or retire.
  • Bothering by the Book: A victim of it. The workers around the station responded to his policies and attempts to drive them away... by doing their jobs and just their jobs. Nothing else. As Sam points out, a station like the one Morel runs needs everyone to contribute where they can. If everyone does only their own job, things won't get done effectively.
  • Cutting Corners: Basically the reason he's having enough problems that he needs Sam as a consultant.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Does not seem to have thought through the long-term consequences of the poor working conditions he has deliberately allowed to develop. As an example, he eliminated the procurement position in the station, thinking that the individual departments could handle their own orders. Instead, without anyone to oversee orders, this gave their suppliers the means to scam the station out of a lot of money by sending excess product and billing the paymaster for supplies that had never been ordered in the first place. Worse yet, he's eliminated the training department, extended time between mandatory maintenance, and cut the maintenance workforce by a third. And this doesn't even consider how his plan to replace the workers with robots doesn't take into account how the station was designed for humans, so even if he forced the workers out there are numerous spots where the robots would be unable to get to without causing more damage. And finally, as Perth points out, causing a life support failure (which De Morel smiled about) would- along with the necessity of breathing- also cause inspectors to come to the station to investigate and they would force De Morel to undo most of his "cost-saving" measures to bring the station up to code.
  • Exact Words: He tries to pull this on Sam initially where Sam's payment is concerned (Sam would come by to help get the station's expenses in-line and Sam would get a reactor- which turns out to be broken- in return). He ends up with it getting turned right back on him as when he offers to throw some duct tape into the deal to patch up the reactor, Sam plays off the lack of specifics to make it six hundred cubic feet of the stuff.
  • Foil: To Kornada. While Kornada was an idiot attempting to ransack his company's assets, de Morel is trying to implement damaging policies in order to maximize profit.
  • It's All About Me: Insists that his secretary stop anyone from seeing him without an appointment... even though his schedule is empty to the point the secretary has more problems in justifying his position than doing his job.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: He's pushing to get all the human workers out of the station and replaced with robots to reduce costs and increase profits. As is, the Station is profitable (at least according to him), but it would be much more so if the switch were completed. The problem, for de Morel, is that the workers refuse to leave their until-then profitable jobs (and even then, the union demands that any robots joining the work-force be given the same pay and benefits as the humans, defeating the intended purpose of replacing them), and for the workers, is that de Morel responds to this by pushing for costly policies that decrease the station's productivity and tremendously inflate costs.
  • Lack of Empathy: Fails to see the difference between getting the disgruntled and unpaid workers of the station to listen to reason and convincing them he's right.
  • Mean Boss: Definitely more competent as a manager than Mr. Kornada (not that this is a high bar), but has just as little respect for his employees.
  • No OSHA Compliance: Seems to be deliberately invoking as much of this as he can get away with to 'encourage' his human employees to quit and/or retire so he can replace them with robots.
  • Punny Name: "Ames de Morel" aims to demoralize his workers.
  • Saying Too Much: Sam explains he's noticed issues with the station's expenses, and offers to help identify and solve them in exchange for half the money saved. An indignant de Morel rumbles he's not paying that much... which all but confirms Sam's suspicions of what those issues are.
  • The Sociopath: This man is perfectly happy with the idea of causing a life support failure, in the name of saving money. Ignoring the fact he's on the very station he's causing this on.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: He's sunk everything he has on the idea of saving money through gross penny-pinching, ignoring how those short-term savings turn into tremendous money pits in short order.
  • The Scrooge: Desperately tries to avoid paying Sam anything he considers to be of actual value. He's also made a number of "cost saving" changes to the operations around the station... some of which threaten to cause the station to fall apart from disrepair.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The man smiles when Sam tells him the P/N Station might be risking a life support failure. It should be noted that he is on the station at the time. Possibly subverted in that de Morel knows there's a nearby bomb factory with robots that would leap at the chance to save human lives before the air got bad enough, and having the robots there he could start working towards employing them afterwards, but it's still one risky gamble.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Perth points out that he used to be a good boss. However, when the station's funds started getting tight, he started becoming The Scrooge and trying to cut expenses wherever he could to the station's detriment. It seems De Morel simply doesn't know what's best to cut and he cut the people in the station who could've helped him figure out what to cut. What's worse, he sincerely believes his measures will keep the station's budget in the black.
  • You Get What You Pay For: Some of his cost-cutting measures have resulted in profit loss. Getting rid of the procurement position means there is no one who realizes the suppliers are scamming them.

    Perth Hillman 
A local supervisor in the Pournelle/Niven Transfer Station.
  • All There in the Manual: His name hasn't been spoken yet but it can be seen in the transcript.
  • Benevolent Boss: He keeps the station as organized and as functional as possible in his area and is extremely helpful all-around.
  • Foil: To Ames de Morel.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Completely unlike de Morel, he prioritizes his tasks and makes time to address everything he needs to address. For instance, promising Sam time to speak with him once he has tasks assigned to all his techs.

Figures of Sqid Legend

    Fire Thieves 
Three sqids who first stole fire from the Maker God Bob: Mho, who conducts new ways of doing things; Lairee, who likes to build lairs; and Coily, with extraordinarily long tentacles that he keeps coiled up. Sam tells Florence their story after she asks to hear of sqid legend.

Provide examples of:

  • Comically Missing the Point: When Bob tells Coily that fire is dangerous for mortals, Coily doesn't understand until Bob gets upset and bops him in the head. Then he realizes that having fire makes gods hit you.
  • Determinator: Sam's description of Mho is that he's not the strongest, fastest, or smartest sqid around, but he's persistent and that's just as important.
  • The Ditz: Mho is definitely not the smartest of sqids. Every time he goes through Bob's home, he sets off all the traps. Every time. Despite having set all of them off at least once.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • When Lairee is tasked with keeping the fire for the night, he remembers that Bob had noticed the light in the dark, and covers it to prevent Bob from noticing him. He collapses from smoke inhalation, and the smoke leaks out enough for Bob to find him in the daylight.
    • After splitting up the fire into three parts, Bob has to chase down each individual flame when he seeks to reclaim it. So Mho decides to set everything in the nearest village on fire while he still has a lead.
    Granted, in hindsight, it wasn't a very good idea.
  • Gone Horribly Right: They manage to spread fire so widely that Bob gives up trying to reclaim it. When the dust settles, the three thieves are the only sqids in the village who don't have fire. So they stole fire from their neighbors.
  • No Sense of Direction: Lairee and Coily both had a different idea of where Bob's home was. Mho, who had actually been there, quickly realized that it was going to be a long journey.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: A plan older than civilization. When Bob confronts them after Mho has split up the stolen fire into pieces, the three of them show him how fast sqids can move.
  • Shout-Out: Their names are a reference to The Three Stooges.

    Maker God Bob 
A creator god in sqid legend.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": His head is spherical, and has a large B hovering on either side.
  • God Is Good: His ire at the fire thieves is mostly because he is afraid they will hurt themselves with the fire they steal. When one collapses from smoke inhalation, his first response is to revive them.
  • Floating Limbs: Unlike sqids, his head and tentacles are not directly connected to one another.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: He tries to keep fire from the sqids for their own safety, but Mho manages to spread fire so widely that he can't reclaim it all. He promptly packs up in resignation, leaves the sqids to their fate, and hopes for the best.
  • Kiss of Life: When he goes to confront Lairee and teach him the error of his ways, Lairee has collapsed from smoke inhalation. Bob decides that a minor theft isn't worth a death sentence and resuscitates him first.
  • Multi-Armed and Dangerous: Difficult to say, given what we know of sqid anatomy, but other sqids in the legend are only shown to have two tentacles that they use in a way analogous to human hands. In contrast, Bob's tentacles end with well-defined hands and feet; four of them serve as arms, two as legs.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The first time he finds a thief with his stolen fire, he gives them nothing more than a warning and a bop on the head before taking the fire back - and if the thief has unintentionally done something worse to themselves because they haven't gotten those warnings yet, he does his best to unmake them. Lairee and Coily acknowledge that his patience isn't eternal and they might end up getting more than that, but increasing punishments for repeat offenses are still reasonable.
  • Right Behind Me: Pulls this on the fire thieves the third time they steal from him.
  • Shout-Out: To Microsoft Bob. The inside of his house is even the default user interface.
  • Special Person, Normal Name: The creator of the sqids and all they know is named 'Bob'.
  • Stealthy Colossus: Manages to sneak up on Mho, Lairee, and Coily, despite his feet being the size of a sqid.
  • Trap Master: One of the things a maker god can make is traps, and Bob's home is filled with them. Mho decided to recruit help after three days trying to get through them got him nowhere.:
  • You Are Not Ready: His attitude towards the Sqids wanting fire for themselves.