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Comic Book / Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire

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"There is no Law on New Hong Kong."
The Law of New Hong Kong, Buck's adopted home.

Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire is a science-fiction/action/comedy comics series by Phil Foglio, featuring the adventures of private detective/bodyguard-for-hire/former-X-Tel-security-chief Buck Godot, operating out of the Lawless planet of New Hong Kong.

The supporting cast includes Al, who manages Buck's favourite bar (and who looks like a short green cartoony version of the critter from Alien...his name is short for Alvin), and Madame Louisa Dem Five, who is a pillar of the local *ahem* service industry.

The series started as a string of short pieces in various anthology comics, some of which were collected in the first Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire collection. In these stories, Buck protects a woman pursued by fanatical sun-priests (who are later expanded upon in The Gallimaufry storyline), finds a lost heir (despite the hindrance of being followed around by a freelance conscience), defends a cargo ship from space pirate attack, and attempts to learn the secret of teleportation from an enigmatic alien with the fate of worlds hanging in the balance.

There's also a one-off graphic novel, PSmIth, and an attempted ongoing comic book, which folded after a single story arc due to scheduling and other problems; however, that story arc, The Gallimaufry, is the crowning achievement of the series, with the added length allowing for new levels of depth and complexity in both plot, world-building and characterization, and with Phil's artwork being significantly more advanced by this time.

Following the success of Girl Genius, the original series was released online in web-comic form (archived version) before removing it years later. The last installment of The Gallimaufry went up on June 20th, 2009. The following week saw a reprinting the three-page "True Story of the Winslow". And that appears to be that. (Almost.) One of the original short stories (the one with nudity) is not included at the above site. We're sure you can find it if you look hard, though (by "look" we mean 'give' and by "hard" we mean "Phil Foglio your money").


  • Air-Vent Passageway:
    • The main mode of transportation for the Beemahs, since they're small enough to manage it and they can't afford to be seen in public.
    • Made use of by super ninja cat Martin (of cat-and-dog Rowan & Martin fame): "Am I not a thing of mist and shadows?"
  • Alien Invasion: New Hong Kong is invaded in the uncollected short story "Field of Screams"; it goes very badly for the invaders
  • All Crimes Are Equal: Deconstructed with the Law Machines, Nigh-Invulnerable robots which summarily cart off lawbreakers to an unknown fate like Ultima Online guards. Surprisingly, this isn't as bad as it sounds. Not only are the laws they enforce still democratically voted on, they are enforced equally - that is, they are applied to government employees and officials to the exact same extent as citizens. Thus, after the Laws summarily wiped out a dictatorship, most humans became quite tolerant (and even admiring) of them. The rest simply move to worlds where fewer of the Laws have been passed.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: The rapidly escalating brawl in the Hall Of Icons.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    • The fourteen Accepted Signs of Divinity, as listed here, include: "call down the lightning, corrupt the innocent, eat the moon, answer the phone before it rings".
    • The Prime Mover's to-do list: "start some rumors as to the Winslow's location", "find a new Security Chief", "evict the Pogs and topple their government", "reestablish communication with this station", and "finish my bath".
    • "Needless to say, I expect total secrecy regarding Chief Parahexavoctal, the Beemahs, the Winslow, and my (porno) magazines."
  • Art Evolution: Phil's work becomes more very much more streamlined, distinctive and iconic with literally every single installment in the series.
  • Artificial Gravity: The Gallimaufry Station is equipped with artificial gravity, which can be selectively raised or lowered in individual sections. Security Chief Parahexavoctal is shown using this for crowd control.
  • Aside Glance: Standard in any Phil Foglio comic.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: In The Gallimaufry, Hyraxx d'Mofiti does this in one panel, standing on top of a pile of assassins she fought to get to Buck.
  • Attack Hello: Standard Hoffmannite greeting.
  • Baseball Episode: "Field of Screams"
  • Bad Guy Bar/Good-Guy Bar: Asteroid Al's can be seen as either, depending on your point of view.
  • Band of Brothels: The Velvet Fist, especially as of the revelation that Madame Louisa has opened franchises on other worlds.
  • Batman Gambit: Buck is fond of these. Notably, he expands on them so that not only do people who try to screw him regret it, but people who deal with him ethically receive Karmic Jackpots.
  • Bilingual Bonus: A super-macho bounty hunter is called Der Rock, which sounds well hard in English but in German means "the skirt".
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Frakkus Godot and Buck himself. Pretty much any Hoffmanite, at least by reputation.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The teleporter story
  • Brick Joke: Buck's taxes.
  • The Cameo:
    • Phil from What's New? with Phil and Dixie is shown as one of the patrons at Asteroid Al's Bar at the end of The Teleporter storyline.
    • Phil reappears as a background character in The Gallimaufry, this time accompanied by Dixie.
  • The Cat Came Back: PSmIth in PSmIth, with a twist
  • Cat Ninja: In The Gallimaufry, the Human embassy's security staff includes a talking cat named Martin who specialises in sneaking and stealth, and dons a full-on McNinja outfit when things get serious.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Buck has been known to use bottles, table tops and even his opponents as weapons.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The board of X-Tel.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: Now brought to you by Convenient Screen Co! What Luck!
  • Cute Monster Girl: Hyraxx D'Mofiti
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: It's actually a really effective threat where he comes from. There is also some related creative use of dental floss.
  • Data Crystal: Info Points, small pyramid-shaped data drives used on the Gallimaufry.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Don't accept an invitation to a "New Hong Kong wake".
  • Destructo-Nookie
    • Hoffmannite courtship, according to Buck Godot himself, begins with high explosives.
    • The mattress in Buck's apartment sports the mention: "SNERTA (Tough enough for a Hoffmannite — but no funny stuff or forget it.)"
  • Determinator
  • Deus ex Machina: Parodied and lampshaded when Buck is saved from the taxman by Sizzlin' Sue.
    Humph. A bit too "doxie ex machina" for my taste, but...
  • Distracted by the Sexy: K-BONK! (NSFW)
    Abner: Hm. You must get that a lot.
    Louisa Dem Five: Abner, I cause so many moral crises that the Slag-Blah consider me a religion.
  • Doppelganger Link: PSmIth features an entire society of clones who make up a Hive Mind and are effectively a single person with dozens of identical bodies. The main characters don't know this at first and are initially confused when they keep apparently running into the same person over and over in unexpected circumstances.
  • Dress-O-Matic: In The Gallimaufry, Buck uses a Mega Suiter while preparing to do EVA in shift space. A robot tailor takes his measurements, then tells him to "stay right there and don't move". A moment later the two halves of a sphere labeled "Mega Suiter" slam together over him on pistons, then pull back to reveal Buck wearing a still-steaming mega suit.
  • Drunken Master: Buck in the early strips. Later ignored.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: The conclusion of the Gallimaufry storyline.
  • Due to the Dead: A New Hong Kong Wake is a very dark example. You find the murderer, have a chat with them — getting them to confess to the murder if at all possible, poison or drug them, and leave them to die. Louisa Dem Five demonstrates here.
  • Encyclopedia Exposita: The Herodotus Complex, a history of Earth's involvement in galactic affairs; a relevant extract appears at the beginning of each book and each issue of the comic
  • Energy Weapon: Starting with zap-guns and working up from there.
  • Everyone Is Armed: The norm on anarchistic New Hong Kong.
  • Face Palm: Done by sufficiently advanced alien the Prime Mover after he finds out what triggered the Gallimaufry plot.
  • Faking the Dead: The whole human embassy does this for a while.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: An integral part of Buck's Batman Gambit in PSmIth.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Using 'shift space'. You can't come out too close to the Gallimaufrey or you just vanish.
  • Forehead of Doom: The Prime Mover has an impressive one. Some of his Porn Stash indicates that it is a species trait.
  • Foreign Queasine: Numerous examples, including a running gag about poiled slurgs, which some races prize as a delicious foodstuff and others prize as an effective oven cleaner / lubricant.
  • Friends All Along: In The Gallimaufry, Buck is attacked by another Hoffmanite; when his friends intervene, he explains that it was just a standard Hoffmanite Attack Hello, and the newcomer is actually his Uncle Frakkus.
  • Funny Background Event: The backgrounds of comics will sometimes feature this, such as in this example.
  • Gambit Pile Up: The Station Chief's oppression of the Beemahs, which led to the Beemahs interfering in the Pog's plans to infect humanity with a will-sapping virus, which was messed up by the humans giving up the Winslow voluntarily. All of this was because of a very minor gambit of one reporter suggesting that Earth be destroyed with Fractal Bombs to locate the (indestructable) Winslow.
  • Gender Bender: Word to the wise: don't go drinking from random bottles in the Kleg embassy. Girl-Buck is rather cute, however.
  • Genius Loci: Gallimaufry Station
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Louisa's approach to abnormal hormone levels.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Check.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Well, half-dressed cartoon aliens.
  • Hangover Sensitivity: The hive-mind bounty hunter PSmIth(s) after having 138 drinks in alphabetical order from Asteroid Al's Bar menu.
  • Heavyworlder: Buck and the other Hoffmannites — suprisingly, given the rest of the comic is actually fairly high into the "Hard" scale of sci-fi, they're the fantastical "big and portly" types, rather then the scientifically accurate dwarf (i.e. short, squat, and lean) types. (This may be related to the fact that they didn't evolve, but were engineered — by a group of genetic engineers whose other projects included a race of centaurs.)
  • He Knows Too Much: Why Par ultimately decides Godot and the Prime Mover have to die.
  • Hideous Hangover Cure: In the PSmIth storyline, there's "Thank Prime", a mixture that we never learn the ingredients for, but it's apparently ultra-effective, instantaneously curing a hivemind-sized hangover with no side-effects... its taste is never brought up.
  • Hover Bot: The Lawbots are floating metallic spheres with two arms and a separate weapon on a tentacle.
  • Humans Are Insane: The niche humans fill in galactic society is "entertaingly crazy". Our five "behavioral spurs" are noted as Sex, Food, Boredom, Meddling and Trolling.
  • Humans Are Special:
    • Parodied. Lots of species think we're entertainingly crazy, at best. Mmmm, popsicles.
    • Later played straight — turns out that while the galaxy as a whole doesn't think much of humans, the really clever aliens know that humans are good at "getting things done", which is why Chief Parahexavoctal, security-chief on a station with literally thousands of different races in habitat, hires a human to investigate one of the biggest mysteries ever — and why, later, the "Destroy-on-Sight" Beemahs choose to throw their lot in with humanity as well.
    Beemah:: Have confidence in you. We think humanity will survive. Sneaky. Admire this.
    • The preface to the first volume sets out a couple more reasons. First, humans are the only sentient species to be so incorrigible as to recieve corrective intervention for a previously unknown ultra-powerful cosmic force (also, it happened twice). Second, there is growing evidence of a possible cause for humanity's uniqueness - ancient genetic tampering by an unknown outside influence.
    • Even the Prime Movers, the Arisian-like superintelligent godlike aliens who, it seems, run the universe, think that humanity is special... apparently because we think the Winslow is annoying.
  • Humans Need Aliens: In the graphic novel The Gallimaufry, it's revealed that humanity has been under the protection of an uber-powerful Elder Race alien since joining the galactic community. That said, said protection also includes supervision after we started exporting some of our worse habits to the galaxy at large. The Law Machines are the most obvious form this takes.
  • Human Subspecies: Humans have several subspecies created by genetic engineering to live in specific hostile environments. (Although the centaurs were probably just for fun). The title character himself is one, engineered to survive high-G environments.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Smith and Wesson are clearly the brains of the Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat's operation.
  • I Call It "Vera": Buck's zap-gun, "Junior". Junior's rifle cousin "Senior" shows up on occasion, but is never used.
  • I Did What I Had to Do Par's response to accusations against him of enslavement and genocide.
  • I'll Kill You!: Cheapskate bar owner Al's reaction to Kooblen Trader/Captain Mloot upon hearing about the hidden pumping fee for his 20,000 gallons of super-cooled mega-joy juice.
    "Kill them-kill them all."
  • Immortal Life Is Cheap: In PSmIth, the fact that PSmIth is a hive-mind means that nobody is much concerned when his/its individual bodies get killed.
    Buck Godot: The PSmIths? You heard him. He/it's not really dead. Embarrassed, yes. Dead, no.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Having been decisively Out-Gambitted by Buck, Der Rock The Destroyer - knowing that he's about to be handed over to an extremely ticked-off Sufficiently Advanced Alien - heads over to the bar.
    "Get me a drink. Make it large, strong and to go, and put it on Godot's tab."
  • Infodump: Several. Each volume of The Gallimaufry starts with an Encyclopedia Exposita article. Lou's infodump on why there's a Velvet Fist on the Gallimaufry gets lampshaded by Oort.
  • Intellectual Animal: Security Specialists Rowan and Martin.
  • Interfaith Smoothie: The Church of Slag-Blah who are "militant agnostics" who celebrate a different religion's holy day every day.
  • Interspecies Romance: Subverted by Buck/Louisa (Heavy Worlder Boisterous Bruiser Hoffmanites find normal humans underdeveloped and also "a wee bit... delicate" (Referring to them as "Jellybones" more than once)) and Buck/Tal (since she's a reptilian alien, as Buck points out, even if he were inclined to perv he wouldn't know what to look at. Turns out he's lying.)
  • Ironic Echo: the Prime Mover points out that humanity didn't retire, they quit. Much later, after killing Parahexavoctal, he points out that he didn't retire, he was fired.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: The Klegdixal. EVERYONE in the galaxy thinks that they're jerks, but they've actually dedicated their vast knowledge of biotech to preventing biowarfare; see also Morality Pet below. This is not to say that they are not, in fact, jerks.
  • Joke and Receive: Buck, messing with the Klegdixal ambassador, predicts "a presentation that will alter the balance of galactic politics, forge new alliances, turn ally upon ally and change the life of every sentient aboard this station." The humans' presentation the following day has every one of those effects.
  • Judge, Jury, and Executioner: The Law Machines detain, judge, pass sentence, and carry out the sentence.
  • Killed Off for Real: After a side character in the gallimaufry arc is killed it's clarified that they're dead permanently by the venom darts of a sapient space slug. Given the exceedingly advanced medical technology available just to humans this is an important distinction.
    • Averted a few issues later Buck is laid out with that same venom and survives, or probably revived, thanks to an antidote the Klegdixals were hired to make it after the above incident.
  • Knight Templar: Security Chief Parahexavoctal is not above opening entire embassies to space to keep order. And that's only the beginning of the lengths he'll go to.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Oort makes a habit of this, when first introduced he interrupts Lou's infodump to say, "I'm making tea. Do you want one expository lump or two?"
  • Lethal Joke Character: The Winslow may be an adorable fuzzy lizard with the exhibited intelligence of a bucket of dead fish, but there are a disconcerting number of people, religions and races willing to commit genocide just to get their hands/claws/pseudopods on it. (Even though doing so will just set the target sights on them instead.)
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • On most human planets, All Crimes Are Equal and are enforced by near-indestructible robots. Technically, this is also the case on New Hong Kong, but on New Hong Kong there is only one written law — which forbids the passing of any more laws — and society runs on unwritten customs instead. The entire planet is patrolled by a single Law Machine, which doesn't have much to do.
      Law Machine: I am content. I fulfill a function.
      Buck (mystified): What function is that?
    • The Gallimaufry, being a space station and not a planet, is also outside the Law Machines' jurisdiction; there is one Law Machine situated there, as an observer. At one point, when the humans are trying to explore a booby-trapped secret passage, the Law Machine offers its assistance, on the grounds that while it's forbidden to interfere, there's nothing stopping it going down the passage and observing what's there.
  • Love Is in the Air: When she chooses, Louisa can become a walking pheromone factory. It's a treatment anyone can acquire, but it requires stringent licensing.
  • MacGuffin: The Winslow, so very much — he could have been an inert lump of indestructium for all the difference it would have made to the plot. Given a great big Lampshade Hanging, with much discussion of the fact that although almost everybody knows he's very important - confirmed by at least one race advanced enough to know such things - there's no general agreement on exactly why (the confirming race won't answer that question).
  • Mars Wants Chocolate: The main reason the galaxy puts up with humans is ... popsicles.
  • Mass Teleportation: In one story, Buck has to gain the trust of a mysterious alien which has the mass teleportation technology needed to evacuate all the people off a planet that's about to be wiped out by a supernova. When he finally manages to explain the situation, the alien casually suggests that it would be just as easy to teleport the entire planet.
  • Masturbation Means Sexual Frustration: Implicitly used by Thad to deal with his libido while Ettare has the libido-inhibiting virus, as he doesn't want to break his vow of fidelity to her.
  • McNinja: Every species has them, and most are Highly Visible and follow the Inverse Law.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Beemahs are organic energy weapons, or to put it another way, "beamers".
    • Frakkus Godot instigates an attack hello (or a fracas) with Buck.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Louisa Dem Five — to the characters as well as the readers.
  • Morality Pet: The Beemahs effectively become this for the Klegs. Initially hating and fearing the Klegs, who created the technology with which the Zmouf made the Beemahs as slaves, the Beemahs are as stunned as anyone else to discover that the Klegs had had no idea what the Zmouf intended, were horrified to learn the truth, and have felt guilty about it ever since. The Klegs are overjoyed to have a chance to make amends.
  • Most Definitely Not a Villain: A scene in The Gallimaufry comic has Buck disguised as an alien Pog, sauntering down the street singing a song about how he's just a Pog, no, really. Mind you, in this instance having the disguise fail is actually part of the plan.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The job Buck once did for Lord Thezmothete.
    • Martian Charades.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Very pointedly averted. While some of Al's drinks seem to be species-universal, most foodstuffs are not. Par mentions that human food has no nutritional value to him and turns him blue, and uses Wixxel Grease — a substance humans trade for so they can use it as an oven cleaner — as marinade.
  • No Indoor Voice: The Prime Mover can pull it off rather well when he wants.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Subverted. Humans like to tinker, resulting in numerous Human Subspecies. Played With in that other species don't and were Very Unhappy when a bunch of humans managed to wipe out a star system in an attempt to turn themselves into Winslows. Nowadays when someone wants to attempt to create more subspecies, they need to cordon off the star system first.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: The Teleporter incident - Godot falls quite a ways, but the Teleporter makes sure he doesn't die. By punching him in the stomach repeatedly to slow him down.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Winslow. Maybe.
    "No! do not eat own foot! Could not be stupider if you tried!"
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse:
    • In the Teleporter story, the villain founds an entire inhabited colony world just so it will be in danger in a way that forces Buck to discover the Teleporter's secret for X-Tel. Note: This was done while the villain didn't know where in the universe Buck was, or whether he could be found before said planet met its fate. Nice guys, X-Tel.
    • The Prime Mover's "restraining order" on Hyraax.
  • One-Gender Race: The Pogs, possibly. Oort and Qvakk are both referred to as males (i.e: "he", "him", etc), and Qvakk states that he "really loved (Oort)...was gonna take him home, make lots of eggs." It's not clear whether this is a biological reality or just a case of human language not having good words for Pog sexes, though (at one point, a character notes that lots of races have trouble with human pronouns, so no reason it couldn't go the other way). A character does mention 'the 20 ruling Priest-Queens' at one point, but that's the only allusion ever made to female Pogs.
  • One World Order: Old Earth appears to be under one united human government.
  • Paparazzi: Hyraxx D'Mofiti.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Buck's "Pog Disguise." Which is essentially placing a normal Pog on his head, putting on a shirt over that, and pretending to walk around as a pog. Keeping in mind that Buck is an 8-foot tall, quarter-ton Hoffmanite... and Pogs are about the size of a medium-sized dog. Tops. Subverted in that he wants the disguise to be easily penetrated.
  • Pie in the Face: Lou uses this in the fight at the Human diplomatic reception in the Gallimaufry.
  • Planet of Hats: Most races have some "hat," even from each other's perspective. Part of this is due to the Gallimaufry's sweeping, cosmopolitan nature - with so many species represented in just the local sector, most find upon entering the interstellar scene that they need to cut out a niche for themselves to increase their value (if only as novelties). But they also tend to have Hidden Depths.
    • Humans are basically the popsicle-makers to other species, but otherwise share the general hat of the rambunctious, noisy young species that bursts on the scene and is liable to burn out (or get burned out) sometime soon. The older species have seen this a lot already. On the other hand, the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens find humans to be "people who get things done", and useful for a number of jobs they wouldn't entrust to members of any other race — such as safeguarding or investigating the Winslow.
    • Pogs are considered largely a species of quiet, useful clerks. Humans, meanwhile, find them the perfect Straight Man to our Wise Guy. Too bad the bulk of their leadership are secretly The Fundamentalist. Winslow worshippers prepared to go extreme lengths to get their hands on their idol.
    • Thuxians are the "capitalist aliens," considering even betrayal and attempted assassination forgivable as long as it was just business; they predate the Ferengi by several years. However, the "capitalist" schtick might have been how they kept themselves from being summarily exterminated for their real talent; badassery. A Ferengi assassin is a punchline, but a Thuxian bartender is more than capable of fending off an assault by a pissed-off Hive Mind.
    • Klegdixals are best known for biowarfare. Rather, for combating it — their home world was ravaged by biowarfare, and when they finally got out into the stars they dedicated themselves to preventing it politically and (more importantly) through developing and marketing cures and other preventative measures. It turns out they're actually surly, asocial nerds who quietly bemoan their own failings in private through absorption in bizarre "hobbies" like dust sculpting. Give them a fair chance and a just cause and they will move heaven and earth to do the Right Thing.
  • Planetary Relocation: After Godot informs The Teleporter of the lengths X-Tel will go to secure it's abilities, up to and including blackmailing Godot with a planet named "Godot's Choice" orbiting a star about to go nova, the Teleporter teleports their headquarters station to a high-Law planet where they'll be apprehended. And for an encore teleports the whole of Godot's Choice to another star system.
  • Plant Aliens: Almost lampshaded with He-Who-Must-Be-Watered.
  • Playing Both Sides: Buck is probably unique in this trope by managing to do thus while both parties are standing right next to him. He makes convincing arguments to both of them about why he's really on their side and playing the other one, to both of their faces. It ultimately comes down to whether they think Buck's professional standards are strong enough to try to fool PSmIth and Lord Thezmothete for a fairly small fee. PSmIth believes they are, Der Rock doesn't. They are.
  • Porn Stash: Even nigh-omnipotent aliens have them. Which makes sense. The Gallimaufry station has had its computer system altered, re-organized and rewritten many times over the known history of the station. So of course any smart entity will have an offline copy that can't be tampered with the next time there is a "re-organization".
  • Power Levels: In-universe, there is a Power Scale listing the most powerful groups, civilizations and entities in the known universe. Humanity is #12, the Law Machines who keep them in check are #4, and Lord Thezmothete is #1.
  • The Power of Legacy: Security Chief Parahexavoctal is revealed to have committed several large-scale crimes in pursuit of his assigned duty, including (but not limited to) genocide and the large-scale enslavement of a sentient race. When confronted with his sins, he continues to claim that he just did what he had to do in order to provide thousands of years of peace on the station. The Prime Mover acknowledges this, and decrees that his record shall stand as a shining example to all his successors with no mention of his crimes. Par smiles and thanks him for fulfilling his ultimate wish, even as he is wiped from existence.
  • Power of Trust: Buck uses this on the Beemahsquite successfully, as later events would show.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
    Der Rock the Destroyer: Do not be lulled by my present condition, PSmIth. There are only 35 of you.
  • Red Herring: In The Gallimaufry, a red herring is dropped with an implied connection between the Gallimaufry station's missing garbage and the Prime Mover's gardening interests.
  • Replaced with Replica: Godot has been hired by Der Rock to keep the McGuffin. The PSmIths come looking for it, and Godot hands it over. When Der Rock objects, Godot hands him one too, and says the other one was fake. The PSmIths immediately object, and Godot reassures them that he was lying, and they've actually got the real one. This goes on for some time.
  • Roofless Renovation: This happens to Asteroid Al's at the conclusion of the PSmIth arc. Al is appalled; his girlfriend suggests that they put in a skylight.
  • Running Gag: Poiled Slurgs, in the Gallimaufry.
  • Sci-Fi Kitchen Sink
  • Shiny-Looking Spaceships
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: Happens left-and-right in New Hong Kong and throughout the Gallimaufry, most routinely with Buck's hiring fees; and also with cheapskate bar owner Al's reaction to a not-so-good deal on 20,000 gallons of super-cooled mega-joy juice.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Some Leg: Louisa Dem Five's strategy for dealing with tax notifiers.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Hyraxx d'Mofiti, upon discovering that the Prime Mover entrusted Humanity with the Winslow in exchange for actively preventing their extinction, was the one who proposed — in jest even! — that someone could locate it by destroying Earth with fractal bombs; weapons that reduce all known forms of matter to monoatomic dust. This would leave the Made of Indestructium Winslow as the largest remaining object. Earth's leadership somehow heard this proposal, and gave up ownership of the Winslow because they realized the agreement only protected Humanity as a species, not every individual planet or even 99% of the population, so if one of the more belligerent races decided to start vaporizing worlds left and right, the Prime Mover would only step in once they had lost everything. The Pogs released the mind-sapping virus because they discovered that humanity planned to do this, but misjudged exactly when they would do so. The whole galaxy-shaking plot only occurred as part of an infotainment-like art product. One that was only proposed as opposed to created.
  • Smart Gun: The Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat's pistols, Smith and Wesson, have built-in AI, can speak and understand speech, and are capable of deciding for themselves when to fire; in all, they're probably smarter than the Packrat himself. They claim that Buck's handgun, Junior, is also Smart and just doesn't have anything to say for himself; it's left ambiguous whether this is true.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Enough to make Pogs look badass. See attached.
  • Soap Within a Show: Whenever Chief Parahexavoctal needs to do an announcement, the program interrupted is invariably a bizarre alien soap opera called "As the sneef boils".
  • Solar Flare Disaster: The Great Solar Flare, which caused the collapse of civilization in the 21st century and its eventual rebuilding into the somewhat less uptight version seen in Buck's time period.
  • Space Pirate: The Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat
  • Speech Bubbles: Different speech bubble styles for most alien races.
  • Starfish Aliens: So many that it would be easier to list the exceptions. And even the humanoid ones have bizarre alien biology.
  • Still Wearing the Old Colors: Buck's usual outfit is, give or take a couple of customisations, his old X-Tel Security uniform. And he objects to being named Worst Dressed Sentient.
    Buck: Oort, what is wrong with how I dress?
    Oort: Don't ask me, Buck. I was raised to ignore a sentient's handicaps.
  • Stout Strength: Buck and his relatives.
  • Strange-Syntax Speaker. The Kooblens comma among other oddities comma pronounce all the punctuation in their sentences period
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: Lord Thezmothete; the Teleporter; the Prime Mover
  • Technobabble: With Lampshade Hanging on one occasion.
  • Teleporters and Transporters: But only the most advanced of the Sufficiently Advanced Aliens have them.
  • Terse Talker: The Beemah spokesman. Lurks in dark. Drops pronouns.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Every race's embassy has an airlock for a ROOF. Parahexavoctal has been known to throw entire embassies out the airlock.
  • Totalitarian Utilitarian
  • TouchĂ©: Der Rock The Destroyer at the end of PSmIth.
  • Tricked into Another Jurisdiction: The Corrupt Corporate Executive who coerces Buck into obtaining the Teleporter's secrets is beyond the reach of the Law because he spends all his time on a space station in the galactic equivalent of international waters — until the Teleporter (at the suggestion of Buck, who points out that it would be a good way to get people to stop bothering him) transports the entire space station to the surface of the planet Kooblen, where the Law Machines immediately arrive and begin making arrests.
  • Tuckerization: Some of the characters in the series are based on friends of the author. Including Buck.
  • Unproblematic Prostitution: The Velvet Fist is a famous galactic corporate brothel-empire and the workers therein are, as far as we know, quite happy with their jobs.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Par's defense of his actions.
  • Villainous Valour: Pog sergeant to his squad: "Awright! You heard the impossible order! Fight!"
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: What the Winslow predicts humanity and the Klegs will be.
  • Voice of the Legion:
    • PSmIth, when more than one of him/it are present.
    • He-Who-Must-Be-Watered has many mouths, which speak in unison. And one smaller, young-looking one that tends to chip in late with a more casual version of whatever the other mouths just said.
      Well! Mr Godot! What a pleasant surprise!
      hiya, buck!
  • Whammy Bid: the seller (who was covertly peddling military secrets using a computerized bid recorder that apparently lacked a "dump last bid" option) does not take it well.
  • Wham Shot: When Martin the cat-ninja covertly discovers that the Pogs are fanatical Winslow-worshippers.
  • Who Will Bell the Cat?: The Winslow is a ten-pound furry alligator-thing that never says anything except, "Hi!" It would be nothing but a curiosity in a universe full of them if not for three things; it's 100% no-kidding absolutely indestructible, at least three quarters of all known religions consider it to be The Most Important Thing In The Universe, and the Arisian-like Prime Movers confirm this. It thus makes the original Apple of Discord look like the last donut in the box when it comes to starting conflicts, so someone has to keep the damned thing out of sight. Humanity was chosen for this task specifically because it factors into precisely none of our religions, and we got a sweet favor in the process; a 100% guarantee that we will not go extinct while acting as its steward. This kept us alive for centuries despite numerous screw-ups that would have justified the extermination of any other race. Then someone proposed that Earth be reduced to monoatomic dust to find the blasted thing, which points out that there are a lot of things you can do to a species that don't qualify as extinction, and the deal suddenly doesn't look so good...
  • Wretched Hive: New Hong Kong is a Lawless planet where nobody thinks anything of people being shot down in the streets, and a place like Asteroid Al's Bar, which would be a Bad Guy Bar on most other planets, is just an average local hangout. It does present a variation on the trope, in that all New Hong Kong's residents choose to live on a lawless world, and anybody who objects to the risks is free to find some other planet that suits them.
  • Xanatos Gambit:
    • The way Buck resolves his problem at the end of PSmIth. Alternatives: If Der Rock had surrendered the device to PSmIth and hidden, PSmIth summons "He-Who-Must-Be-Watered", everything is explained (HWMBW knows Godot and his reputation), Godot is paid after HWMBW leaves again. If PSmIth hadn't attacked Der Rock for the device, Der Rock would have to pay Godot or suffer a blow to his reputation. And, finally, if/when PSmIth discovered 'he' had the fake? Well...he didn't have a business relationship with Godot, and everyone knows it's Der Rock who has the real Der Rock would take the fall. HWMBW has no reason to be miffed at Buck.
    • And he pulls one even more complex to resolve The Gallimaufry. He offers the Pogs an increasingly ridiculous plan because he knows they'll go along with anything to get the Winslow, and also plays into his expectations of how Par will react (and that the Beemahs can get anywhere they want to, in the nick of time). No matter what, the Beemahs (who consider the Winslow worthless and are under a kill-on-sight order) would deliver the Winslow to the Prime Mover (who already had an agreement with Godot to fix everything if the Winslow was found). Par and/or the Pogs giving up would have just caused less trouble, and all Buck really had to do was stall them.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Parahexavoctal assisted the Beemahs in rebelling against the Zmouf, then enslaved them himself and issued a "shoot on sight" order for the entire species to ensure their secrecy.
  • Your Head A-Splode: The Prime Mover implies that if Hyraxx even thinks about the revelations in the last part of the story, this is her fate. He suggests a Lobotomy to remove the memories.

Godot Was Here.
The Winslow is here. He's everywhere. All hail.