...the Persian Gulf...
...and, some would argue, 1254 North Elm Street.
A comic strip begun in 1988. It centers on the Fox family, a reasonably average 3-child household. Most of the humor comes from the characters or commentary on pop culture, occasionally both at once.
The five main characters are each known for their various defining quirks. Peter starves himself for three days before each Thanksgiving and is an overall Big Eater to the extreme. Paige has an imaginary boyfriend named Pierre who factors heavily into her dream life (the strips involving him usually repeat the phrase "Ooh, Pierre!" a lot and end with a panel outside the dream, where Paige is sleeping and Jason has Quincy (a pet iguana) pressed to her lips or the like). Jason plays Dungeons & Dragons with his best friend Marcus, but their battles are usually against fictitious versions of Paige. Andy, the health-conscious mom, tries to sneak tofu into their diet on a regular basis (and doesn't like the thermostat set above freezing). Roger, the techno-fossil dad, should never be allowed to plan vacations. Ever. And Jason occasionally draws a comic book called Slug-Man, whose nemesis is the evil Paige-o-Tron. Written and drawn by a genuine nerd, which makes for a lot of in-jokes with Jason's video games, comic books and general geekery.
At the end of 2006, the strip changed to be Sunday Strip-only.
You can find it here.
Contains examples of:
- 419 Scam: One serves as another way to show that Roger is a total rube.Andy: Oh, look. A Nigerian widow is offering to give me $10 million if I send her $500 for paperwork.
Roger: Andy, Andy, Andy, just delete the the e-mail. It's a total rip-off.
Andy: [sarcastically] Gosh, you think so?
Roger: Yup. I'm getting $20 million from a Ugandan for $350.
Andy: This is where you say "Just kidding"...
- Absurdly Bright Light:
- One strip has Jason ponder cartoonist corner-cutting techniques such as justifications for leaving a blank panel. As he ponders how it would work indoors, Peter shows off his new 50,000-watt flashlight and generates this effect.
- In another strip, Jason catches so many fireflies that their combined light, collected together in a jar, turns night to day and prompts Jason to ask Peter to find his sunglasses.
- Accidental Aiming Skills: Peter throws a baseball at an apparently far-off tin can sitting on a fence post. In the final panel, we see that he was actually aiming for Roger's much closer glove.
- The Ace: Grandma, although she also ends up deconstructing The Ace a bit in her first appearance when she learns that her Monty Oum levels of awesome had given Andy resentment and a desire to prove herself since the seventh grade.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Provides the page image. Roger is somehow able to get fire to blow out the bottom end of a grill by putting the charcoal in upside-down. Jason even lampshades it:
- Acid Reflux Nightmare:
- Andy's food; It's literal Nightmare Fuel. In different arcs, Jason had A Christmas Carol nightmare, Paige had a The Nutcracker nightmare, Peter had an Odyssey nightmare, and Roger had a Polar Express dream.
- One of the final series of daily strips had Peter and Paige eating tons of gingerbread cookies, resulting in a dream sequence where they became such cookies.
- Acquainted in Real Life: Jason has been World of Warquest buddies with a player named "Sgt. Neelie" for three weeks, and he's shocked that not only is the player a girl, she is his "real-life nemesis", Eileen. She later reveals that she knew his username from the get-go and had tricked him to prove a point (that they could be friends if it weren't for his real-life hang-ups).
- Acting Unnatural: Paige and Nicole shoplift a CD. Nicole tells Paige to act naturally. Paige holds her breath. Nicole tells Paige that acting naturally includes breathing. Paige immediately starts loudly panting as Nicole Face Palms and adds "Quietly".
- An Aesop:
- In a 1989 story arc, Peter and Jason find an envelope with $80 in it. Jason is excited because he gets to buy Indiana Jones toys and have enough left for Peter to buy a new baseball glove. They then discover that the money was intended for a person who died, and thus give it back to one of his relatives. This ends up being a lesson in responsibility for the both of them, although only Peter seems to be the one learning.
- In an early arc, Peter and Steve struggle with a physics question and repeatedly tell their teacher that they have it covered. At the end of the arc, they end up begging him for help. The teacher tells them that physics is a hard class, and he doesn't think they're stupid for asking for help; he thinks they'd be stupid not to.
- Andy freaks out when Paige and Jason toss away a needle they found on the beach. While they had good intentions, she tells them that they could easily have stuck themselves with the needle and got sick. It would have been better to fetch an adult to dispose of the needle safely. A good lesson for most kids to know.
- Paige and Nicole attend a party with upperclassmen, thrilled that they were invited and treated like one of the crowd. They become disappointed, however, on realizing people just want to hook up or do drugs. Nicole and Paige decide to run to the video rental store to save the night. Sometimes popularity is overrated.
- Affair Hair: Andy thinks she finds one on Roger's jacket during an uncharacteristic fit of jealousy.
- Affectionate Parody: Of The Boondocks when Jason attempts to fill in for Aaron Mcgruder, despite knowing nothing about "African American Culture" or "Politics".
- Afraid of Needles: Roger, in a story arc that ran after 9/11, decides to give blood despite being afraid of needles.
- All-Cheering All the Time:
- When Paige was trying out for cheerleading, she started using cheers all the time; including giving a (correct) answer to a question on The Scarlet Letter in English class.
- And when Paige was on the JJV (junior junior varsity) cheer squad, she was sent to cheer at events like chess matches and debates.
- All Just a Dream: Several strips have the characters dreaming an absurd situation (Jason giving Andy the keys to a fancy car and vacation tickets because she raised his allowance to $15,000 a week then cut to The Reveal that he's whispering into her ear to manipulate her dream).
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: A strip from the early '90s has Jason sending a suggestion to Disney about a planned theme park in Virginia. Disney really did have plans to do this at the time.
- Always Someone Better:
- Eileen is this to Jason. She seems to trump him at everything (schoolwork, video games, you name it), much to his rage, and his attempts to one-up her always end in disaster. The fact that she has a crush on him only makes it worse.
- This is sometimes taken to ridiculous extremes. In one strip, Jason found a Four-Leaf Clover right before class started, and then gloated to Eileen how it would help him get the highest grade on the math test... And then Eileen found a five leaf clover. In the last panel of the strip, Andy is yelling at Jason because he apparently flunked the test because he missed it, because he was spending the whole time searching for a clover with more leaves.
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents:
- Andy becomes one in an early story arc in which she is tapped to write a column about family life for her newspaper. Much to the kids' chagrin, she shares embarrassing stories about them while using their real names, leading to their being mercilessly teased at school. She finally bows to pressure and agrees to publish her column under a pseudonym.
- Andy's mother is this to her by the virtue of being, as described by the New York Times itself, "perfect".
- Amusing Injuries: Whenever Paige beats Jason up, he has broken glasses.
- Analogy Backfire:
- Occurs in an early story where Jason becomes interested in trading commodities, then asks Roger for advice:Roger: The basic idea behind commodities trading is that you're trying to predict whether something will become more scarce and thus more valuable, or less scarce and therefore less valuable. For example, if you thought space aliens were going to come and take away half the world's cows, you might want to load up on cattle futures, since the low supply would send their value through the roof.
Jason: Space aliens? This is cooler than I thought.
Roger: Conversely, if you knew someone was about to discover a giant pirate cave filled with gold...
- In the Camp Bohrmore story arc, Morton Goldthwait, in Drill Sergeant Nasty mode in his capacity as a counsellor, berates Jason for doodling on his aerodynamics notes, asking if Bernoulli or da Vinci ever doodled. Jason points out that da Vinci doodled quite a lot - and is promptly punished for talking back.
- Peter once used The Metamorphosis as an example to Jason, who had been transformed into a girl (It Was All Just A Dream), commenting on how well things had worked out for Gregor Samsa. Jason says that Gregor starved to death, abandoned by his family. Peter then admits he had never read past the first page of the book, as usual.
- Occurs in an early story where Jason becomes interested in trading commodities, then asks Roger for advice:
- Animated Actors: Some strips use this premise for Rule of Funny.
- In one Sunday strip, Peter lights up the grill in Roger-style fashion; in the last panel, Roger walks in, script in hand, and says he was supposed to do that. A scorched Peter says "Happy Father's Day, Dad."
- Taken to another step in one series where the comic suffers an "ink outage"note , with Peter checking with "neighbors" like Jon Arbuckle and the Pattersons to see if the outage is affecting them too.
- Animated Adaptation: This post on the strip's website has drafts for two episodes of one that never got off the ground.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: Jason to Peter and Paige.
- Apathetic Teacher: The kids' teachers tend to fall into this mode occasionally.
- Appeal to Flattery: The kids often try this to get what they want. Sometimes it works when combined with Loophole Abuse:Paige: Favorite Mother... wonderful Mother... beautiful Mother... flawless and wise—-
Andy: Paige, with a buildup like that, I can promise you in advance, the answer is "No."
Paige: Do you mind if I put off my homework so I can go to the mall?
[Andy is speechless, knowing she's been outsmarted]
Paige: I'll be back in time for dinner.
Andy: I'm obviously not that wise.
Jason: Favorite Mother... wonderful Mother...
- Apple for Teacher: One Sunday Strip involved Peter eating all the apples before Jason could give one to the teacher at the start of the school year. Peter eventually convinced Jason to go with a potato, as it's known as the "apple of the earth" in French.
- April Fools' Plot:
- In an early strip, Peter spent an entire week having to live down Denise's April Fools' Day joke; a chocolate rabbit filled with hot sauce, which he, of course, ate in two bites before his mouth was set aflame.
- On one April Fools' Day, FoxTrot featured the same punchline as Get Fuzzy and Pearls Before Swine, where one character uses a Ouija board to spell out a message to kick the other character in the shins.
- There's also this memorable strip, where Jason is watching the season 2 premiere of Game of Thrones, only for them to show a fake episode using My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and knight toys.
- Armor-Piercing Question: During one storyline, Steve, having missed a test due to a doctor's appointment, asks Peter what was on the test, but Peter refuses to say out of principle.Steve: "Cheating" would be if I knew the correct answers ahead of time. All I'm doing is asking you what your answers were.
Peter: What's the difference?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
- Done in this strip:Andy: Jason, I told you two weeks ago that I didn't want Mortal Karnage II coming into this house. You have no one to blame but yourself.
Jason: But... but...
Andy: You're too young for this sort of thing. I mean, look at what it teaches: that human disembowelment is entertainment... that "winners" decapitate their enemies... that carnage is spelled with a "K"...
Jason: I know carnage isn't spelled with a "K".
Andy: The sad part is, that's the least of my concerns.
- And with Paige's new alarm clock app:Alarm: Reeeee! Reeeee! Multiple tornadoes approaching! Seek shelter immediately!
(Paige snores away)
Alarm: Awoooga! Awoooga! Zombies have breached the perimeter! Barricade all doors and windows!
(Paige still snoring away)
Alarm: Ding! Ding! Attention fashion shoppers... our 99-percent-off-everything sale ends in one minute!
Paige: (bolts up from her pillow) Wait! Wait! What???
- Done in this strip:
- Art Evolution: The art was a lot looser and more detailed in its first couple years. By the early 1990s, it had started becoming flatter and more geometric (eyes became circles instead of ovals, Jason's hair strands became equally spaced, the lettering became mono-spaced, etc.) but still had a fairly high attention to detail, most of which was simplified in the latter half of the decade.
- Artificial Outdoors Display: During the Caribbeany resort arc (Roger takes the family to a tropical resort a thousand miles from the ocean), we see Roger and Andy looking at the sunset together... before it's replaced with a "Please swipe credit card to continue".
- Artistic License Animal Care:
- Quincy is an iguana - iguanas are vegetarian, yet Jason feeds him mealworms. Though he's not nearly as bad as Roger, who fed Quincy chocolate chip cookies in one strip (chocolate is poisonous to animals).
- Invoked when Paige gets fish - she puts guppies in with an angelfish, resulting in this:Paige: That's right little guppies, eat the fish food. That's right mister angelfish, eat the fish-FOOD! I said eat the fish FOOD!
- Asian and Nerdy: Eugene and Phoebe Wu, a brother-sister team whom Jason and Marcus first met in a late-1990s Story Arc involving a science summer camp.
- Asleep in Class: This happens to Paige often. One strip seems to explain that her internal clock is 12-hours fast.
- Author Avatar: Jason is used to project Amend's nerdy nature.
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: As much as they fight, the Foxes are still family, and are there for each other when they need it.
- Paige worries that she'll become this after not only not getting grossed out by dissecting a frog for a science lab, but actually enjoying it. It doesn't help that Jason keeps telling her that.
- Peter becomes this (with an actual axe!) when Jason and Marcus try to shoot Paige in the face with a bunch of darts with glue on them, but miss and hit Peter instead. He cuts down the tree they've chosen to hide in, then asks if they've ever seen The Shining.
- Backwards-Firing Gun: One strip had Jason ask Paige to help him figure out what's wrong with his squirt gun. She gives it a once-over, then grins evilly as she points it at Jason and pulls the trigger, only to soak herself. Jason quips "I mean, what's the point of a squirt gun that fires backwards?", and Paige replies "You got me."note
- Bad Boss:
- J.P. Pembrook, Roger's boss, who does things like giving himself a giant pay raise while the company's in the red, insisting that the employees make themselves look bad on photo day so he'll look better by comparison, and at one point hired Roger to be the clown at his son's birthday party — though to be fair to that one point, Roger's job description actually does include "Bozo Services" (which Roger thought was a joke when he took the job), and at the end of the arc Pembrook thanks him for a job well done (and begs him not to sue).
- In the series where Roger briefly quits his job and then comes back for it, Pembrook shows his nice side by simply counting it as spent vacation time...however, his Jerkass side is much stronger, since he essentially forces Roger to get on his knees and beg for the job back (and shine his shoes), and he cuts Roger's pay immediately after admitting that other companies would pay a man with his level of skill and experience six times what they were paying him.
- One story arc had Roger taking the boys camping, which naturally turned into a Macho Disaster Expedition. In one strip Peter remarks that the only way it could get worse was if Roger had them sit naked around the campfire and beat a drum in some kind of insane male bonding ritual. Obviously it's set up to be Tempting Fate, but the last couple of panels reveal that the boys were well aware Roger was going to attempt exactly that and thus were trying to head him off at the pass via Hint Dropping (Jason: "I don't think he heard you, try saying it louder" as Roger pokes his head out of his tent while holding a drum).
- In one strip, Denise mentions to Peter that her mother wants her to ask how emotionally committed he is to her, and whether he's made any long-term plans for their relationship; she waits for a few seconds, well able to imagine his Oh, Crap! expression, then:Denise: Of course, I told her to put a sock in it.
Peter: (sagging) I love you, Denise.
- Bait-and-Switch Comment: Near the end of Roger's temporary retirement arc, when he admits that "maybe" he should have considered his responsibility to support his family along with his desire to spend time with his children, Andy says that he's wrong... about the "maybe" part.
- Batter Up!:
- Peter and Andy in two separate arcs hinted at wanting to bludgeon Roger with one of his golf clubs (or in the case of the latter strip, his newly bought, expensive golf club) when irritated about having to golf with him in torrential rain and in fury about Roger buying a new golf club, respectively.
- Peter wanted to do it another time too, after Roger only offered to pay him five cents a hole after a particularly grueling job as a caddy.
- Be Careful What You Wish For:
- After Andy expresses joy at seeing The Passion of the Christ become a success, she says that she wishes that more of the "copycats" in Hollywood would do more religious-themed movies. She then sees a trailer for Alien vs. Predator vs. Jesus.
- Also, Roger's rants about either gaining a lot of money in regards to developing a website or the excessive costs of christmas cards were the reason why Jason decided to do money-making schemes relating to these things.
- Played almost verbatim in one strip in which Paige knocks a bag of flour off the counter while singing "White Christmas", and the flour turns her, Andy, and the whole kitchen white. Paige even remarks, "Figures it'd be that stupid wish that comes true."
- Bedsheet Ghost:
- Bedsheet Ladder: Jason places a ladder constructed of tied together handkerchiefs in Quincy's cage, along with a book on lock picking and a few paperclips and hair clips, in an attempt to create plausible deniability when he turns the iguana loose in Paige's sleepover.
- Bedtime Brainwashing: There's one where Jason tries to convince his mother to increase his allowance by getting her to dream of all the ridiculously expensive stuff he's buying for her.
- Beef Gate: A strip featured Jason trying to fight his way through one of these, only to have his sister discover that if you don't attack, it will let you pass by in peace. "The biggest, most dangerous monster in the whole game, and you're not supposed to take him on?"
- The Benchwarmer: Peter really, really sucks at baseball, so he is usually a reserve player when on the team. Note that he's only let on the team when the coach has no choice (like when half the players were caught cheating on tests).
- Berserk Button:
- Peter punches a guy in the nose for making a tasteless joke about Denise (and gets in trouble for it, naturally).
- Before Peter went out on his first date with Denise, he was telling one of his friends that he had a date that night, and when his friend jokingly suggested that "she has to be ugly as sin or blind as a bat," Peter crams his entire binder into his mouth.
- The B Grade: Jason reacts in this manner to A++ grades, as he usually does far better.
- The Big Easy: After Hurricane Katrina, Andy and Roger recall their honeymoon in New Orleans, showing that they had a much wilder youth than the staid middle-aged couple we see.
- Big Eater:
- Peter and Roger are this to extremes, especially when it comes to Thanksgiving ("Plate 559 and feeling fine.") Paige applies when it comes to candy, once managing to eat the insides of a solid chocolate Easter rabbit while leaving the exterior untouched (except for the bottom).
- Paige is this when it comes to ice cream.
- A little known fact is that Roger was originally the only Big Eater, but Peter only got into it around the mid-1990's, as seen in the Thanksgiving 1990 strip:Andy: Well, I'm full.
Jason: I'm extra full.
Paige: You're full of a lot of things.
Peter: I'm teetering somewhere between full and sick.
Roger: So who's ready for some PIE?!
- In fact, they invented new types of eating contests to get around this advantage.
- Bilingual Backfire: Jason's tap-dancing act in the school's talent show lands him in trouble because one of the teachers understands Morse codenote .
- Bilingual Bonus: In one arc, Roger is given a cigar branded Aroma del Baño ("Smell of the Bathroom").
- Bill... Bill... Junk... Bill...:
- One strip had Paige sorting through the mail, discarding it as nothing but junk except for the last item. The Reveal was that the "junk" was in fact personal letters while the last item was a shopping catalog.
- In another comic, she sorts through the mail to find letters for herself, gets disappointed that they're all for her parents, and hands the stack to her mother, musing "You grown-ups have it so nice." Andy's reply? "They're called 'bills', Paige."
- Another strip had Roger and Andy sorting through the mail, commenting: "Junk....junk....junk" until Andy finds a letter which reads "Pay Jason Fox two million dollars in small bills".Roger: [rolling eyes] Junk...
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: One early arc had Roger get an intern that appeared to idolize him in every way, but ended up ditching him for a more successful employee in the end, with the implication that his idolization of various employees was just him being a suck-up to get ahead in the company.
- Black Comedy: A rather subtle example happened around Valentine's Day once, though it's pretty dark when you really look at it.Paige: Mom, should I give a Valentine's Day card to a cute boy I don't know and sign it something mushy like "Love" or would that be a big mistake?
Andy: A big mistake.
Paige: Are you sure?
Andy: Trust me.
Roger: [wagging eyebrows] Remember that first Valentine's Day card you gave me?
- Blah, Blah, Blah:
- Inverted. Paige complains that the day has been boring, and it's just been one "blah" event after another. Cue Peter walking up to hear her actually say "blah blah blah" out of the legitimate context she had been using.
- This strip was possibly Amend lampshading, as early strips involved Paige's phone conversations literally written as "Blah blah blah blah blah."
- Bland-Name Product: Occurs quite frequently. Sometimes just a background gag, other times part of the strip's plot. Oddly, it uses real products almost as often as fake ones. Amend originally intended to avert this trope so that the humor was more grounded in existing culture, but after seeing products like "Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs" in Calvin and Hobbes he concluded that it was just funnier to mash up existing products into silly names.
- Jason's video games are a common source (Doomathon, Riviablo, Zeldakong 64, and World of Warquest) In addition, Paige's favorite boy band is named "The Backsync Boys".
- Inversions are also common, such as Rogers's favorite magazine, Illustrated Sports.
- Sometimes they're just outright parodies (Self magazine becomes Myself).
- Blunt "Yes":
- At the end of the "Mortal Karnage II" arc, Jason gives Andy a speech about how video games are a waste of one's childhood, impressing Andy... until Jason reveals it's all a ploy to convince her he's mature enough to have the game back. As Andy seems ready to spank Jason for even trying this...Jason: Can't blame me for trying.
Andy: Oh yes I can.
- Inverted after Roger's intern Skip Riley reveals that he's going to work for a higher-ranking executive who essentially poached him. Skip justifies his decision by saying that it's in his best interests.Skip: Face it- Diggs is a big cheese. You'd do the same thing in my shoes.
Roger: No. I don't think I would.
- At the end of the "Mortal Karnage II" arc, Jason gives Andy a speech about how video games are a waste of one's childhood, impressing Andy... until Jason reveals it's all a ploy to convince her he's mature enough to have the game back. As Andy seems ready to spank Jason for even trying this...
- Boss Button: One strip Jason talking to Peter about his new Prince of Persia game, which their mother doesn't know about. Just as he's saying that it's a game where you need to be fast, their mother drops in... and sees Jason typing up his book report.Peter: And fast you are.
- One strip featured Jason leaving a phone recording message for Satan Hotline◊. When it got reprinted in the book collection, it was changed to Jason singing "A Million Bottles of Beer"◊.
- In one strip, Andy is strung out on allergy medication and tries channel surfing without the TV turned on. When this is pointed out to her, she remarks that "I thought Oprah looked extra black." In reprints, this changed to "I thought Bill O'Reilly seemed soft-spoken."
- In-universe, Jason and Andy hear an easy-listening version of "Highway to Hell" which changes the lyrics to "Highway to Heck", and remark that some songs were just not meant to be turned into Muzak.
- Boys Like Creepy Critters:
- Jason Fox (10) keeps an iguana named Quincy, which he mostly uses to freak out his 14-year-old sister Paige. He also occasionally takes it to school for the same reason, but is thouroughly befuddled when his new teacher likes it.
- Another for Jason Fox was an arc in which his mother and sister thought he had a crush on a girl, and naturally teased him about it, much to his confusion. The girl was in fact the classroom's pet snake.
- Brainless Beauty: Paige and her friend are willing to see past this when it comes to a cute guy.Paige: Nicole, look! Bobby Whitmeyer must've transferred into our history class! He's the hunkiest hunk in the school! He is sooo hot! Sooo babe-like! Sooo to die for!
Nicole: ...Sooo stupid...
Paige: Oh, like brains really matter.
Bobby: Oops — I'm in the wrong room.
Nicole: In this case they do.
Paige: AAAA! Come back!
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
- From an early vacation strip in Uncle Ralph's cabin:
- A family-friendly example from a 1998 strip:Paige: After-school sports...Play rehearsals...Upcoming shoe sales...Movie schedules...Phone numbers...E-mail adresses...Cute boys without girlfriends...Anything I need to keep track of, I write in my planner.
- Another in an early strip where Jason buys a model rocket. The instructions list off recommended items for ideal construction: "Ruler, white glue, art knife, pencil... fire extinguisher, high-pressure water source, comprehensive liability insurance..."
- From a 1990 story arc in which Jason tries to market "suction-cup leeches":Paige: Jason, why would anyone want a stupid fake leech stuck to their windshield?!
Jason: Ah, you see, the beauty of these guys is you can stick them anywhere. Refrigerators... mirrors... windows... ceilings... furniture... sisters...
Paige: AAAAA! You didn't stick one on ME, did you?!
Jason: [to himself, grinning] They're gonna sell like hotcakes.
- A 1993 strip found here has this trope when coming up with what to include in a comic shop, the last one being much awesomer than the others mentioned.
- A 1997 strip in which Jason suggests the family go to a remote tropical island:Jason: It'd be perfect. No phones... no hassles... no extradition treaties...
Andy: What do extradition treaties have to do with our family vacation?
Jason: Who's talking about a vacation?
Andy: NOW what have you done?!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall:
- The first strip broke the fourth wall, with the cartoonist yelling at Jason, who was hauling in one of the strip's panels. Since then, the strip hasn't really broken the fourth wall at all, but it has come very close at times:
- In one of the first Sunday strips, that very strip's splash panel is shown on a newspaper that Roger is reading.
- Early in the strip's run, the "F" in the strip's splash panel logo featured Quincy resting on it, having already taken a bite out of the "F." In one strip, Peter was blowing on a barbecue grill in the splash panel, and the smoke was drifting in the direction of the logo, resulting in the Quincy on the logo coughing.
- In one arc, Peter and Jason discuss what would happen if a cartoonist got sick — would he draw stick figures, try to Photoshop the strip, etc.? — and their suggestions are reflected in the final panel.
- Another example of this is a discussion between Andy and Roger talking about Dilbert, the innovations it came up with, and the fact that people might try to rip it or other successful comics off. Just guess what the last panels tended to be.
- The last set of dailies consisted of Andy and Roger discussing what would happen if a cartoonist stopped doing dailies, asking how he would thank his fans, etc. This trope even gets lampshaded at one point when Roger suggests that the cartoonist would straight-up thank his fans for their support, and Andy responds, "And break the fourth wall? Not likely."
- In another arc, Andy was having trouble motivating herself to write her column. In the last strip of the arc, she finally finishes at around midnight, and Roger muses about what might happen if a cartoonist just didn't feel like drawing. Cue the lights turning off.
- In the aforementioned cookie-nightmare arc, Peter points out that he has it on authority that they'll be back to normal in the next strip. He calls it a "doughus ex machina."
- The 'ink outage' arc shatters the fourth wall, jumping all the way to Medium Awareness (see below).
- Breakout Character: Jason, to the point where he appears in nearly every strip to deliver the punchline.
- Briar Patching: Jason tries this after accidentally crashing the family car, but makes the mistake of listing a punishment he would not like (losing computer time), as a lenient one.
- Broken Treasure:
- In one early story arc, Quincy chewed up Paige's favorite sweater and Jason (actually feeling guilty) tried to repair it, but when he got found out he ended up buying a replacement...except that it was a Spider-Man sweater, which he thought she'd like better.
- In a later arc, Paige gets an autographed photograph from the Backsync Boys, but once again Quincy eats it while she's at school. Since Andy promised to watch it, Paige blames her and spends the next few days slinging guilt (calling Andy "mother who ruined my life" and such) to get whatever she wants. At the end of the arc, Paige receives another dozen copies of the photo because of all the letters she wrotenote , and she apologizes to Andy for her behavior.
- Bucket Booby-Trap: Jason has tried this on Paige several times. It never works.
- Bucket Helmet: One arc had Jason fashioning a make-believe virtual reality helmet out of a bucket.
- Buffet Buffoonery: Peter cleans out an entire buffet, leaving nothing for his family. In another strip, he takes advantage of the all you can eat special at the pizza place where his friend Steve works at, and eats for six hours straight, only stopping when Steve tells him to leave at midnight (seeing as the special has ended, and his manager is pissed. Peter pushes his luck further and asks if he can have some to go.). In this later strip, he believes "all you can eat" is a requirement.
- Bullying a Dragon: Peter has often dog-sat for a tiny little dog name Fauntleroy. Despite being only the size of a rat, it not only attacks Peter over and over, but also threatens much bigger dogs.
- Butt-Monkey: The whole family each get these moments, but it's mostly Peter and Roger.
- Caffeine Bullet Time: For Peter, it's whenever he needs to pull an all-nighter to study for a test or finish a report or other homework assignment. Paige also once attempts this by mixing coffee and tea together at Peter's suggestion so she can finish a book for English, but it ends badly as she overdoes it (shocking even Peter with how much she drinks) and is so jittery as a result that she is unable to sit still long enough to read.
- The first vacation arc began Roger excitedly asking the family where they are going, and them unenthusiastically responding that it's Uncle Ralph's cabin, where they've gone camping at for the past 10 years. When Roger asks how they knew, one of them says, "Dad, you're blocking the TV." A year later, a gag repeats the first three panels word-for-word, but the fourth panel has the dad shouting "HAWAII!" and one of the kids saying "Dad, you're blocking the TWHAT?!?"
- One early strip has Paige finding her old teddy bear "Grizzly Pooh" in the attic and remembering how she used to use it to harass Jason (the implication being that this is the reason he harasses her nowadays). Almost two decades later, we get a strip where Paige pulls Grizzly Pooh out of the attic again, once more realizing that she put him away because of Jason (though this time it's due to his G.I. Jim spring-loaded stuffed bear traps).
- Andy's obsession with Titanic returns in Jason's remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! featuring Andy in the title role, in which the Jason character remarks that there's no room for any money in "Mrs. Grinch"'s wallet because of all the old Titanic ticket stubs.
- Paige's role in Antony and Cleopatra, in which she played Cleopatra, is referenced in a Sunday strip in which she tries speaking in Flowery Elizabethan English to her P.E. teacher to get out of running laps. When it fails, Nicole snarks, "Nice British accent," and Paige replies, "All my prior acting's been in Shakespeare, okay?"
- A story arc from 2003 featured Roger trying to home-brew his own wine, which proved to be a disaster. A much later strip published in 2021 reveals that Roger kept one bottle to see if it gets better with age.
- Camp Wackyname: In one story arc, Jason and Marcus attend a summer science camp called Camp Bohrmore.
- Card-Carrying Villain: In-universe, Jason portrays Paige(-O-Tron) in Jason's "Slug-man" comics as the most horrible character possible.
- Car Hood Sliding: In one strip, Peter tries to make the fact he is driving a station wagon cooler by doing a The Dukes of Hazzard style slide across the hood. He winds up snagging his underwear on the windshield wiper.
- Catapult Nightmare: Paige experiences a standard "falling" dream. Midway through, she realizes that it's a dream, and concludes that she'll wake up before hitting the ground. Sure, enough, she does. The last panel has her realizing she was right... as she falls out of bed.
- Catch-22 Dilemma: A strip where Jason asks Roger if he can hang out with his friend Marcus, and Roger answers "I'm okay with it if your mom is." Then when Jason asks Andy, she says "I'm okay with it if your father is." The comic ends with Jason reading a book on formal logic, trying to figure out whether they actually gave him permission or not. The next comic had Paige asking a similar question and getting the same answers... and she simply interprets that as an okay.
- Celebrity Paradox: It's not uncommon for an out-of-universe comic strip character to be spoken of by the Foxes as though they were a fictional character only to make a cameo (often as part of a Crossover Punchline) in another strip. Notably, a whole early arc was about Jason making his own The Family Circus panels to send as filler comics while Bil Keane was on vacation, while a later strip showed Billy himself visiting the Foxes.
- The Chains of Commanding: In the Love Letter Lunacy arc, Peter left Paige waiting in the rain for a seecret admirer, which turned out to be Peter pulling a nasty prank. Paige ends up in a bad angry Heroic BSoD, where she curls up in her room, glaring at Peter. Andy feels bad for her, but also knows that she can't let Paige punch out Peter, so she tries to get Peter to apologize. It doesn't work; Paige is in no mood to hear an apology.
- Characterization Marches On:
- If you read the early comic strips you'd notice that Jason actually seems to act the way a normal kid would about school that is, not wanting to go (notable when he neglects his homework to work on a Slug-Man comic). But later on? He loves school.
- One early storyline sees Jason try to impress Roger and Peter by memorizing sports trivia. By the mid-1990s, he considers anything of the sort beneath him.
- Early on, Roger was shown as being good at chess and wasn't Too Dumb to Live. Of course, the chess part was flanderized within a couple years. His Walking Techbane status was also less prevalent early on, with early punchlines of the sort being more credible (such as his the floppies for Jason's Star Trek game and Roger's accounting software accidentally getting switched, or Roger not knowing how to print, which would have been credible for a 40something adult in the late 80s). There's a strip early in the run where Roger is conversing with a work colleague about a report featuring copious Rouge Angles of Satin, and the report's writer defending himself by claiming he doesn't know how to use spell-check (this was before those squiggly red underlines were invented). Roger is the person criticizing the report, even though if you rewrote it later he would be the one defending it.
- One early strip has Jason and Peter playing Dungeons & Dragons in the throwaway panels, something Peter would never do under normal circumstances. This strip was before Marcus was introduced.
- Andy Fox was pretty much flanderized into a Moral Guardian / Granola Girl taken Up to Eleven, with a side of Fleeting Passionate Hobbies (she was often seen obsessively collecting things like Bitty Babies). That being said, her only characterization prior to this was Only Sane Man, so it arguably represents a step forward for her to have, y'know, personality, whether or not that personality is flanderized.
- A minor one: in her introductory arc, new teacher Ms. O'Malley actually encouraged Jason's far-beyond-overachieving, which drove him nuts because he was used to trolling his previous teacher Miss Grinchley. About a year later, with no explanation given but ostensibly because it got old for her, she's suddenly sick of Jason's antics (though she still doesn't flip out the way Miss Grinchley supposedly did).
- Chickenpox Episode: Denise comes down with the chickenpox, forcing her to miss a school dance with Peter. Andy suggests that Peter take Paige instead, which he begrudgingly does.
- Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs: This Trope is used often, usually to contrast against Andy's own health-craziness Running Gag:
- During one shopping trip, Andy asked Jason to pick out one cereal whose first ingredient wasn't sugar. Jason found one cereal whose last ingredient was sugar... because sugar was its only ingredient.
- Another strip had Peter reading from a cereal box, "Sugar, Sugar, Sugar, Sugar..." and so on, finishing with, "...Sugar, Sugar, Sugar... Flakes."
- Another has Jason admitting that while his "Sugar-Frosted Honey Flakes" are gross enough to turn his milk into purple ooze, he'll still eat six bowls every morning to get a glow-in-the-dark dinosaur stickers offer. Paige, reading the ingredients, remarks, "Actually, I'm a little surprised you don't glow in the dark by now." The choice of the color purple is likely a direct Shout-Out to Trope Namer Calvin and Hobbes, in which Calvin once said, "I won't eat any cereal that doesn't turn the milk purple."
- In another series of strips, Jason's cereal itself glowed in the dark, and when Peter ate it (because they were out of Wheaties) it made him sick. At first he was surprised that one bowl of cereal made him so sick; then he read the ingredients, and was glad it only made him that sick.
- In yet ANOTHER strip, the kids have nothing but a bowls of sugar for breakfast and claim it STILL doesn't have as much sugar as most cereals.
- In the throwaway panels of one Easter Sunday strip, Paige is wondering what to take from her candy basket first. Andy holds up a box of cereal and suggests she have breakfast first, causing Paige to quip, "Like that cereal has less sugar."
- Choosy Beggar: One arc parodying A Christmas Carol has Jason's mom as a beggarwoman going through his old electronics after the Ghost of Christmas Future takes him away and declaring it's all junk, before wondering if the curtains might be worth something. It's more a Take That! at how quickly electronics become obsolete than her character though.
- Christmas Creep: One comic that ran in November had Andy complaining about how the decorations came out earlier every year, and stores begin pushing holiday merchandise. The punchline was that she was complaining about Valentine's Day decorations, despite it not even being December yet.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- Denise suddenly disappeared from the strip in the mid-2000s, although Peter never broke up with her. Oddly, strips after Denise's disappearance show Peter attempting to impress other girls. A strip published in 2017 has Paige mentioning Peter's girlfriend, but it was never specified whether that was Denise or not- Paige referring to her as Peter's "girlfriend" rather than by name was likely so that people who'd never heard of Denise wouldn't be confused. A 2021 strip also mentions Peter having a girlfriend, but again doesn't specify if it's still Denise or not.
- Virtually all of the supporting cast disappeared from the strip regularly when the strip moved to Sundays. Marcus is the only character outside of the Fox family to appear on a regular basis nowadays. After Marcus, Eileen is probably the non-Fox character that has appeared the most, having made several appearances since her reappearance in 2011 (her last appearance prior to this was 2008). Peter's best friend Steve, Paige's admirer Morton, her best friend Nicole, her science teacher Dr. Ting, Jason's teacher Miss O'Malley, and Peter's coach have all shown up in 2014.
- The iFruit, for a long time. It made a brief appearance again in October 2011, in a strip that paid Homage to Apple founder Steve Jobs, who had recently passed away. Jason took it out of storage in the basement, looked at it sadly, and then turned it on. Andy came up behind him and told him he couldn't turn back the clock, and Jason replied, "I know. Just let me pretend."
- Cluster F-Bomb:
- Played with and ultimately subverted: When Jason decided to take over The Boondocks while Aaron McGruder was focusing on making the animated adaptation, one of his ideas was, after hearing that the strip references "N-words", to use several of them. However, Jason doesn't actually know what the N-word actually means, so it shows a lot of N-words, but neither of them are the N-word.
- The trope occurs off-screen in this comic.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Paige goes to see The Return of the King just because Orlando Bloom is in it, and wishes they would stop wasting time with that "filler stuff about a ring."
- In one strip, Andy rants about how almost all of that day's comics mention golf in some way, asking "what kind of group mind-rot is at work here?!" She shows the paper to Roger, who remarks, "No kidding! Seven strips don't even mention golf!"
- Another strip has Peter and Roger watching the Super Bowl, with the rest of the family only ducking in for the commercials.Peter: You're supposed to be caring about the GAME!
Roger: Welcome to Super Ad Sunday, son.
- Another strip has Peter asking about a diorama on The Great Depression Jason's making for school.
- One story arc has Roger buying a mobile phone that isn't "mobile" by any definition of the word: it's almost as large as he is, weighs a ton due to its stainless steel construction, and has to be plugged into a standard electrical outlet to function (though it does come with 12 cigarette lighter adapters if you're on the go).
- In one Sunday strip, Paige and Nicole confuse Memorial Day with Independence Day, because Memorial Day marks the end of the school year. When Roger points out their mistake, this exchange occurs:Paige: The school year must've run longer back in 1776.
Nicole: By a whole month? No wonder they revolted.
- When Jason complains about how Marcus managed to complete Super Mario Bros. before he did, Andy points out that Marcus probably did so by neglecting his studies, skipping meals and losing sleep. This gives Jason an idea of what he needs to do, and given that he gets in trouble for staying up late, it could cross into Dramatically Missing the Point.
- Comically Small Bribe:
- Roger tips the paperboy with a nickel and then wonders why the paper always ends up on the roof or in the rosebushes.
- Similarly, Peter Fox, while making a real complex order at a coffee shop, pays him $4.97, to which Peter pays $5.00 and tells him to keep the change. He also admits to Jason that he realizes he was being annoying, which was why he tipped him. Cue the three pennies flying towards his head.
- Comic-Book Time:
- Jason, Paige and Peter have been 10, 14 and 16, respectively, for two decades. One early strip featured Roger panicking over his 45th birthday, but later strips have stalled his age at 45 and Andy's at 42.
- Interestingly, if Peter and Paige had aged from the start of the strip, they'd be almost the same age as their parents by now. Which means Roger and Andy are now part of the generation to which Peter and Paige originally belonged—a phenomenon observed in the comics themselves. One Halloween comic in the 80s had Roger attempt to impersonate Darth Vader, and he mispronounces "Obi-Wan Kenobi" and does the Vulcan salute. Fast forward to 2005, when Revenge of the Sith was released in theaters, Roger tells Jason that he used to have a Darth Vader helmet like the one Jason has back when The Empire Strikes Back came out.Roger: [eyeroll] "Search your feelings. You know it to be true."
- Lampshaded in this post 9/11 strip.
- And again in the July 25, 2010 strip, when Jason says he's been waiting for StarCraft II for 11 years. Andy points out that he's only 10. He replies that he started in the womb.
- One comic has Peter feeling old because it's 1990 because, as he puts it, "When I was a kid, 1990 was this year way off in the future. Heck, when I was a kid, 1980 was this year way off in the future!" (The joke being that all of the monologue is coming from off-panel until the last panel, when it's revealed that it's Peter talking, not Roger.) Of course, thirty years have passed since that strip was published...
- It was played with in a strip about the comic's twentieth anniversary where Jason complains that Paige stole his hairpiece again.
- An odd example happens in an arc where Roger decides to do the Christmas cards himself to surprise Andy. In one strip he finds and prints out a Christmas letter he found on the computer, the gag being that it's hilariously outdated ("Peter stopped using diapers this year..."). However, the fact that it's on the computer suggests that they've had one since Peter was at least a toddler, while this particular strip was printed in the early 2000s, which would date the old letter to the mid 1980s.
- Completely Off-Topic Report: Jason once had to do an oral presentation on Old Yeller. He ended up working on the powerpoint's visual effects instead, so when he finished his teacher had only one question: "Did you actually read the book?"
- Compressed Vice: This is Andy's third most prominent character trait (after being a Granola Girl and overprotective mother); past story arcs have seen her becoming obsessed with Titanic and "Bitty Babies" among other things. This actually played to Jason's advantage when they bought an iFruit, since Andy willingly bought the peripherals because of their cute designs ("Banana-orange CD-ROM burners! Aren't they adorable?!")
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: Paige tricks Peter into driving her to the mall by adding several "not"s to her statement ("Do you not want to take me to the mall?" "Yes." "Do you not not want to take me to the mall?" "No.") She outsmarts him by skipping from four to six "not"s.
- Contemplating Your Hands: Andy does this (off-panel) while strung out on allergy medication.
- Content Warnings: A 1997 strip featured the then-recently introduced TV ratings system in the US and lampshaded the Forbidden Fruit affect this has with kids. Jason is shown flipping through the channels and continuing to change each time he came across something labeled TV-PG and TV-14, until he yells, "Is there nothing for a kid to watch when his parents aren't home?" Then he comes across a program rated TV-MA, and says, "Finally."
- Continuity Nod:
- "Take our ill-fated attempt at sledding with a drag chute last winter..."
- "You've swiped my winning Monopoly strategy!"
- When Jason gets some school supplies he doesn't like from Andy, he asks her if she's still mad about the car he crashed.
- Early 1999 storyline featured Jason getting frustrated because he couldn't get past the Red Orb Guardian in a video game he's been playing. Paige managed to get past it by NOT attacking him. A few months later, when Andy's mom came to visit for Thanksgiving, Jason asks her if she wants see "his" trick of getting past the Red Orb Guardian.
- Andy's obsession with Titanic returns in Jason's remake of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! featuring Andy in the title role, in which the Jason character remarks that there's no room for any money in "Mrs. Grinch"'s wallet because of all the old Titanic ticket stubs.
- Paige's role in Antony and Cleopatra, in which she played Cleopatra, is referenced in a Sunday strip in which she tries speaking in Shakespearean English to her P.E. teacher to get out of running laps. When it fails, Nicole snarks, "Nice British accent," and Paige replies, "All my prior acting's been in Shakespeare, okay?"
- A story arc from 2003 featured Roger trying to home-brew his own wine, which proved to be a disaster. A much later strip published in 2021 reveals that Roger kept one bottle to see if it gets better with age.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Happens all the time:
- A running joke is that Roger and the kids routinely buy Andy useless or inappropriate gifts.
- Once, for Mother's Day, Roger planned to get her a "Three Stooges" DVD collection, to which Peter objected but only because he thought it would make his gift of flowers look lame in comparison.
- On a related note, the kids often give her flowers plucked from her garden.
- Valentine's Day was usually the worst use of the trope: Roger once gave her a new extension cord, and later a heart-shaped pancake spatula (The latter gift also resulted in Andy not feeding Roger any breakfast, more specifically the pancakes made from the spatula). He once gave her a normal spatula for Valentine's Day, prompting her to ask Roger to consider why none of their children have birthdays in November.
- Played with in one strip, where he ended up giving Paige, Peter, Andy, and Jason a football, earrings, an electronic voltometer and a pink Backsync Boys sweater respectively because he was tired and mixed up the gift tags.
- Played with again in another strip: Although not technically gifts, Roger ended up giving Peter and Jason Beavis and Butt-Head stockings even when they never asked for them. Peter and Jason themselves liked the stockings, Andy and Paige did not. When trying to reason with his wife, Andy suggests that she's going to demonstrate her rage in ways he wouldn't want to repeat.Jason: [holding stocking] Wow! I can't believe dad got me a Beavis stocking!
Peter: [holding stocking] I can't believe dad got me a Butt-Head one!
Peter and Jason: Hnnhuhhunnhuuhnnhunnmmhuuhnnhhnuhnmmm...
Paige: [covering her ears] THEY can't believe it?!
Roger: The lady at the store said they were all the rage.
Andy: Let me show you "rage"...
- Subverted in a strip where Roger mentions that he was planning on giving Andy fluffed earphones for Christmas (even though she wanted a necklace) specifically because she would need them (she was telling Roger the gifts he'll have to give the kids, and they all have to do with loud noise as something in common).
- In an earlier strip, Paige and Andy were shopping for a new lunchbox for Jason. When Andy finds one with Ariel on it, Paige enthusiastically suggested she get it for Jason, although Andy seemed to know better and picked a Jurassic Park lunchbox instead, causing Paige to curse that she's no fun.
- Something similar happened in another strip where Paige went Christmas shopping for various clothing that supposedly were her family, although they were actually intended to be for herself (for one thing, all the items that they have in common are that they are girls' items, and one of the shoes, Andy notes, matches Paige's shoe size).
- Roger once gave Jason Four Solid Metal Gears and a Walk the Line CD in previous Christmases, apparently because Roger did not understand what Jason meant by Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots or even "Cash".
- Another rather unpleasant example was when Andy went back-to-school shopping and bought Jason stuff with Barney & Friends pictures on them, believing he'd like them because he liked dinosaurs. Even Roger realized Barney was not the type of dinosaur he'd like.
- Andy does this on purpose do to her Moral Guardian personality by getting them things like thesauruses for Christmas.
- Converse with the Unconscious: Subverted in an early arc where Jason falls off the roof and is taken to the hospital:Peter: Jason?... Jason I'm really, really, really sorry.
Jason: ...I heard that.
Peter: You're supposed to be asleep!
- Cool Old Lady: Andy's mother. She seems to excel at everything; among other things, she's such a great cook that Martha Stewart herself is trying to buy one of her recipes, she can match Jason in math skills, shares Paige's love for modern fashion, is just as knowledgeable in sports as Peter, and an article in The New York Times says she's "perfect". Unfortunately, Andy herself has "issues" with her due to feeling inadequate when she's around; her worst case of being a Lethal Chef came from trying to outdo her on Thanksgiving. (And as fate would have it, her mother told her that she had gone through the same thing with HER mother.)
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Andy is considered one, thanks to her preference for Disgusting Vegetarian Food.
- The Cracker: Jason. Well, rather, he tries to be one, but never actually benefits, and often causes disasters by accident. In one strip, he "killed off the Internet" with a "dinky little program" he had come up with.News Anchor: Tonight's story: the "Darth Jason" virus. Is there hope for mankind?
- Crossword Puzzle: Jason has composed several for the sole purpose of insulting Paige.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Any chess game between Roger and his computer.
- Jason is a victim of this whenever he has to play dodgeball in gym class.
- Cut a Slice, Take the Rest:
- Peter does this with everything, and his parents keep falling for it. Although there was one strip where Andy caught on (She told Peter he could have one brownie; he picked up the entire sheet and was halfway to shoving it into his mouth when she said "After I finish cutting it.")
- Roger, meanwhile, will pour one cup of coffee... for Andy, while he drinks the rest of the pot.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check:
- Jason has been guilty of this through the entire run of the strip. He has come up with several ludicrous schemes to make money (including thousand-dollar snow dinosaurs, which, you know, would melt come Spring), despite the fact that he has effortlessly built machines and coded programs that could have made him millions had he simply sold them. He once tried to form a one-man corporation, but all he had to show investors was "a dinky little program I wrote for fun." Unfortunately for him and them, the Darth Jason virus did not "kill off interest," it "killed off the Internet." Possibly justified in that, while "book smart" at times, Jason is still a child and thus doesn't always have the best common sense. His parents also care more that he should be a kid rather than pursue these ventures.
- That, and the fact that, because he is a child, he often puts more effort into frivolities. If the thought ever occurs to him to make money off of the things he produces, it's only so he can buy materials needed to cause greater mischief. For instance, he once caused a computer virus pandemic with a virus called the "I Don't Love You Eileen Jacobson Virus" simply to goad Eileen, which not only caused a crisis but apparently made it obvious who had created it.
- Cuteness Overload: Andy is prone to this. She goes into fits about Beanie Buddies, and issues squeals of delight on seeing Peter Jackson and - thinking he is a fantasy creature from The Lord of the Rings - wants to know if they make plushies of him.
- Damned by a Fool's Praise: Paige finds a pair of retro pants and squees over them to Peter, until Roger walks by and mentions he used to have a pair just like that and suggests they should go around dressed the same. Paige's next line to Peter is, "Want some pants?"
- Daydream Surprise: A Running Gag in the comic is Jason pulling some sort of overly elaborate prank on his siblings or suddenly exhibiting some sort of superpower (like having laser eyes or losing his temper after biting his tongue too many times while eating breakfast and Hulking Out), only for the final panel to cut to Jason either trying in vain to pull the prank or use the superpower in real life, expressing disappointment with reality, or being told he's weird by one of his other family members.
- A Day in Her Apron:
- Everyone except Andy is a horrible cook, so any attempt to fill in for her in the kitchen ends badly.Peter: Cool! The coffee's on fire!
- Peter is shown on occasion to be a perfectly capable cook so long as he's cooking only for himself and no one else.
- The kids once cooked a wedding anniversary dinner for Roger and Andy, which apparently was quite edible, judging from the parents' reactions. They also can make cookies, which turn out well whenever Paige isn't confusing baking soda with Diet Pepsi. And occasionally, Roger doesn't ruin what he grills on the barbecue.
- Everyone except Andy is a horrible cook, so any attempt to fill in for her in the kitchen ends badly.
- Dead TV Remote Gag: The batteries are dead and there are no replacements, so Peter wails about how he'll have to watch the same channel all night, at least until his Mom comes in to tell him his bedtime is in ten minutes. "THAT LONG?!"
- Deep-Immersion Gaming: Jason, of course. Sometimes Peter as well.
- Delegation Relay: Andy asks Peter to take the garbage. Peter says that Paige owes him a favour so that Andy should ask her. Paige says that Jason owes her a favour so Andy should ask him. Jason says that Peter owes him a favour so Andy should ask him. Andy asks Peter (again) who then willingly takes out the garbage.
- Denied Food as Punishment:
- Andy did this to Roger after he was accused of ruining the computer. It turns out that Jason and Paige had done so by spilling a can of pop on it.
- A Sunday strip had something similar: Andy fed everyone except Roger pancakes, all after giving an extended question along the lines "Would you like some pancakes made from the heart-shaped spatula that your father gave me for Valentine's Day?" as a message that she did not like Roger's gift.Andy: Jason, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Andy: Paige, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Andy: Peter, would you like some pancakes made using the spatula your father gave me as my Valentine's Day gift?
Peter: Yes, please.
Jason: I'm noticing mom's not offering you any pancakes.
Roger: I'm noticing that, too.
Andy: Jason, would you like seconds?
- Did Not Get the Girl: Happens quite frequently with Peter before he meets Denise.
- Didn't Think This Through: Jason and Marcus, Up to Eleven: both of them could qualify for college-level degrees in math and physics, but their common sense hasn't developed to the same level:
- Building a snowman replica of the climactic confrontation from The Fellowship of the Ring, they're trying to think of a way to keep their "snow Balrog" from melting - after they keep setting it on fire.Jason: Maybe if we used a touch less lighter fluid...
- Aptly summed up by Peter as he looks up from a complex diagram, meticulously calculating the physics necessary for Jason and Marcus to catapult themselves through Paige's bedroom window, and sees them desperately trying to "untrigger" their catapult, since Paige just closed her window: "From such smarts, such stupidity."
- Building a snowman replica of the climactic confrontation from The Fellowship of the Ring, they're trying to think of a way to keep their "snow Balrog" from melting - after they keep setting it on fire.
- Diegetic Visual Effects: One story arc has Paige struggling both to write a school report about Thomas Edison, and to fend off Unwanted Assistance on the subject from her dad Roger. In one strip, an Idea Bulb suddenly appears above her head as she's writing. Then it turns out Roger was just standing behind her, holding a real lightbulb up, as a pretext to rattle off a list of Edison's inventions.
- Disabled Love Interest: Denise, who is blind, is a longer-term girlfriend than most of these, although she has disappeared without explanation.
- Disembodied Eyebrows: Present since the earliest years.
- Disguised in Drag: A Sunday strip shows a Lipstick-and-Load Montage of Paige putting on her make-up getting ready to go out. The last panel reveals it to actually be a grounded Peter trying to sneak out of the house disguised as Paige.
- Disgusting Vegetarian Food: Andy's the most competent cook of the family, but she often tries to make vegetarian health food for the others, at which point sanity and skill go out the window. ("She makes a mean, if not downright cruel, tofu casserole.") By which we mean she's taken fruit salad — which does qualify as healthy under normal circumstances — and warped it into something unrecognizable. She does manage to get it right at least once:Peter: Mm-mmm. Great pizza, Mom.
Andy: I'm glad you like it. Bet you can't even tell I made it with nonfat cheese, low-sodium tomato sauce, and meatless tofu pepperoni slices.
Andy: Nice try, Olivier.
- There's also the incident from the January 27, 2019 strip where the kids are revealed to have listed their house as a one-star restaurant on Yelp, apparently in protest to their mother's repeatedly making "Beetloaf".
- Disney Owns This Trope: Jason tried to copyright 1 and 0 so that any song released on the Internet would be pirating his work.
- Disproportionate Retribution: In one Sunday strip, Paige sprays Jason with a hose because he did that to her. The catch was that he did it in summer while she did it in winter resulting in Jason being covered in ice.
- Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: When Jason became a millionaire (by converting all his cash into Turkish lira), he started wandering around in a smoking jacket and puffing on a bubble pipe.
- Disturbing Statistic: Andy tells Roger one in order to keep him up all night (specifically, that one in five men can expect to get prostate cancer), thereby keeping him from snoring.
- D.I.Y. Disaster: Roger does this quite often, most of the time because he took a rhetorical question seriously. In one of the later daily storylines, he tries making his own wine, doing things like stomping grapes with Desenex on his feet, and resorting to melting down grape Popsicles to increase the overall amount. In the end, the only compliment he can get out of Andy is that pouring it down the drain made their garbage disposal run better than ever.
- Dodgy Toupee: There was a week-long story involving Roger getting himself a bad toupee. His wife Andy is less than pleased:Roger: Andy, I can't believe you don't like my hair piece.
Andy: Did I say I didn't like it?
Andy: Then don't put words in my mouth.
Roger: Fine. [silence] Andy, I can't believe you think my toupee looks like roadkill.
Andy: "Unkempt roadkill."
- Does This Make Me Look Fat?: In one strip, Andy asked Roger if he thought she could lose some weight and asked him to be honest. He said "Maybe a pound or two" and she collapsed in tears, claiming she had wanted him to be honest, not brutal.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- One arc has Eileen inviting Jason over to play video games with her, but their dialogue at first makes it seem like something else is going on. This starts in the first strip...Eileen: Hey, Jason, wanna come over to my house after school?
Jason: Eileen, get real. You're a girl. I'm a boy. What could we possibly do together that'd be any fun?
Eileen: [whispers into Jason's ear]
Jason: [suddenly ecstatic] OH MY!
Eileen: See you after school.
- ...and continues in the second strip until the punchline.Jason: We both know why I'm here, Eileen. I'm a young man with a young man's urges, and you've got what I need. Now enough chit chat. Let's get to the sofa.
Jason: Finally! A Gamestation 2 controller in my grasp!
Eileen: Ready to get it on?
- One arc has Eileen inviting Jason over to play video games with her, but their dialogue at first makes it seem like something else is going on. This starts in the first strip...
- A Dog Ate My Homework: Or, in this case, an iguana.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Deconstructed when Paige spends some time worrying about Morton asking her to the dance like he always does, where she will have to turn him down, like she always does. Then she finds out that he asked someone else, and instantly gets upset that he didn't even try. When she finally brings herself to confront him, she says she's offended that he forgot about her, and he says he didn't ask because he remembered.Paige: Morton, you're killing my ego.
Morton: Egos heal.
- Do-It-Yourself Plumbing Project: Roger refuses to call a plumber because it is not worth a $60 call-out fee just to have him change a washer. After flooding the bathroom, he declares that at least now it is a situation worth the call-out fee.
- Door Stopper:
- Jason's Christmas lists. He often indexes them, and even the index often qualifies as a Door Stopper.
- He once gave Andy his Christmas list in a single envelope, to her surprise. He said it was to save trees. Turned out it was just on floppies.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Roger's attempt to cheer the kids up during another Horrible Camping Trip with his bad jokes makes it worse in this strip.
- Double Standard: A very mild, but still noticeable, example. Roger does a lot of dumb things and usually gets not only called on them, but called an idiot too. Andy does almost as many dumb things, but is only called on it about half as often, and usually comes out of it with everything but her pride unscathed. This may have something to do with Roger's near-bulletproof ego; the man continues golfing and playing chess when every member of the family but the iguana has demonstrated higher proficiency than him. One of the few times Andy apologized, for complaining about a vacation the kids enjoyed, she almost immediately after changed the subject to what Roger now owes her.
- Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Paige beats up Jason regularly and occasionally threatens Peter. Andy has been known to hurt Roger when he does something worse than usual. The worst violence we've seen go the other way is Jason shooting Paige with his nerf guns. Always Played for Laughs.
- Do Wrong, Right:
- After Peter gets caught speeding, Andy scolds him, but Roger is more interested in how the car handled.
- After Paige gets detention for forging Roger's signature on a note to get out of P.E., Andy asks her what she learned from the experience, and Paige replies, "To practice Dad's signature so I don't get caught next time." Andy glares at her, unamused, and even after Paige clarifies it was a joke, grounds her.
- Another strip shows Peter enduring an interrogation about not bringing home his report card and attempting to play innocent, which fails. In the last panel, we see that the person interrogating him is Paige, to help Peter prepare his "innocent" act for the real interrogation: "Grill me. I'll show you how it's done."
- Jason gets suspicious during a camping trip when Paige and Peter try to lure him on a Snipe Hunt. He points out that he knows that they intend to ditch him in the woods and leave him to find his way back to the cabin. They say, "Um maybe" and he says at least wait until it's darker out so it will be a more fun adventure for him.
- Dream Sequence: Sometimes Andy's terrifying cooking would spark off a pop-culture or literature reference, allowing Amend to pastiche anything from The Polar Express to The Nutcracker to A Christmas Carol. Everyone but Andy eventually visited one of these Elseworlds, which were generally populated by the other family members.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Miss Rockbottom in the coach version of this. Morton serves as one in camp.
- Drives Like Crazy: Peter, all the time. He once tried to run a yellow light from five blocks away. Another time, his driving created a zero-G effect in the car. When Jason plays the video game Carmageddon it gives both him and Paige the feeling they've been in the actual car. One time when a neighbor called Andy to tell her Peter was swerving like a maniac at a certain place, he protested, saying he was going to fast to be seen. The most extreme example is his claim that he's reached speeds of 1,000 MPH or more.
- Drunk with Power:
- Happens to Peter every time he's in a position of authority, as Andy eventually comes to realize. This almost proved lethal to him in one week long arc when he was made manager of the football team, and the players quickly started to hate him. He himself said that if they weren't venting it on the field, he be dead. (The coach, however, couldn't have been happier; the venting had actually caused them to win three games straight.)
- Morton Goldthwait as well, as Jason and Marcus's summer science camp counselor.
- Duck Season, Rabbit Season:
- Peter attempts this in one strip:
- Peter seems to get the last laugh, however. In the final panel, Jason seems to be having a tough time convincing the cashier that he's 18. (Alien: Resurrection is rated R.)
- Dude, Not Funny!: Paige's reaction to Peter's Love Letter Lunacy, which baffles Peter, who simply can't understand why anyone wouldn't find his prank funny. Also, Andy's reaction just about any time Roger makes a joke at her expense.
- Dug Too Deep: One of Jason's ideas for "How Disney could improve its movies" went like this:Dwarves: We dig-dig-dig and dig-dig-dig and mine the whole day through...
- Early Installment Character-Design Difference: Early on, both Andy and Paige had bangs. Andy had hers cut off in a 1988 strip and they never grew back. According to Bill Amend, this was because he had received messages from readers complaining that they couldn't tell Andy and Paige apart.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Until about the early 1990s, the strip was a lot more focused on a somewhat realistic portrayal of a typical nuclear family. As the 1990s progressed, pretty much everyone's personalities got exaggerated into cartoonish caricatures, while "nerd" humor (though present in small doses from the earliest years) and pop-culture references began to dominate even the most basic of interactions. Some of the defining personality traits — such as Roger's and Paige's incompetence at cooking, Peter's huge appetite and incompetence in sports — aren't even present in the earlier strips at all. One could be forgiven for thinking that the strips pre-1992 or so were part of a different comic, as the character designs and the tone are so dissimilar to what they became.
- Easily Forgiven: Zig-zagged at the end of one arc in which Jason unwittingly gets Eileen's hopes up by giving her the impression that he's interested in her. While he's genuinely sorry, she tells him that it will probably take time for her to forgive him and become friends again. At the end of the strip, she then suggests that she's open to being asked.
- E = MC Hammer:
- Perhaps one of the notable aversions. A Running Gag involves Jason using far more complicated mathematical methods on his school tests — and of course, all the advanced math is 100% accurate. It was done to such an extent that the teacher was actually able to recognize his work even when he hadn't actually written his name on there.
- Played absolutely straight on occasion with Paige.Jason: OK, now what trig function gives you the ratio of the opposite side to the hypotenuse?
[Paige doesn't answer]
Jason: I'll give you a hint: stoppppp...
Paige: ...in the name of love.
Jason: One wayyyyy...
Jason: It boggles the mind.
Paige: Well, that could be any function.
- Egopolis: Jason names everything he creates after himself. That is, everything he doesn't name after Paige as an insult.
- Embarrassingly Painful Sunburn:
- This has happened to Paige a few times. One strip subverted it: Paige woke up in shock to find her skin beet red, but the last panel reveals that Jason had actually painted her while she slept.
- Perhaps reversed as a Painfully Embarrassing Sunburn, another time Paige grabs a bottle of sunblock and applies it while wearing very dark sunglasses. Whe she is told she left her sunblock in the kitchen, she realizes she slathered herself in mustard.
- Embarrassing Ringtone: One strip had Jason swapping out the ringtone on Peter's phone for "Loser" by Beck.
- End-of-Series Awareness: The characters are aware of when Bill Amend decides to switch the strip to Sundays-only.
- Entertainment Above Their Age:
- One series of strips reveals that Paige has seen R-rated films such as Indecent Proposal and Basic Instinct, and another series shows that she's a fan of a trashy talk show called "Jerzy Spaniel." The former results in Paige getting grounded by Andy, and the latter gets her in trouble when she watches the show while babysitting, and Katie happens to start repeating a profanity she hears from the show.
- Ten-year-old Jason shouldn't be watching Game of Thrones, something Andy is in agreement with. That doesn't stop him from watching it.
- Epic Fail:
- Jason. When his schemes fail, they fail big. As he puts it, "Why can't my successes ever be as spectacular as my failures?" (the failure in this case being a model rocket whose engines were installed backwards, the second stage of which turned the lawn into a volcanic eruption). One story arc around the release of the first Spider-Man movie involved Jason trying to recreate Spidey's web-shooters from the comics, only for them to literally backfire and trap him in a cocoon of webs every time. When Roger offers to help troubleshoot the device, it still ends up covering Jason despite the fact that he pointed it in the exact opposite direction.
- Roger is even worse. To give one example of how bad he can fail, Jason once programed a computer chess game so that he had a king and fifteen queens and the computer had a king and fifteen pawns; the computer beat him.
- Everyone Has Standards: In one strip, Jason, disgusted with his mom and dad kissing each other, has a T-Rex ignoring a Triceratops and other potential prey, even a sleeping Brachiosaurus due to disgust at witnessing Roger and Andy kissing, and also even begs for some Velociraptors to put him out of his misery.
- Esoteric Happy Ending: In-Universe and parodied with a dream Paige has where she imagines herself as Clara from The Nutcracker.Paige: Wait a minute. This is it?! We just ride off in a magic sled?! They call this an ending?! There's no sense of closure! Who wrote this dumb ballet?! The audience should get to see the girl wake up! Can you imagine the riots if someone tried this in a comic strip?
- Exact Words:
- A frequent source of humor.[Peter is doing the dishes]
Peter: It's unbelievable how much homework I have to do tonight! I can't remember the last time I had this many things due! I don't know what all my teachers were thinking!
Andy: In the case, Sweetie, why don't I do the dishes?
Jason: I thought you had no homework...
Peter: It's all in how you say it.
- In one strip, Jason is complaining about no one selling the Jpad and it beating the competition of the iPad. Jason then claims that the Jpad would literally smash the iPad. Andy remarks that he misused the word "literally"... until she turns it around and discovers a rock taped on the back of the Jpad.
- Andy is just as bad, as this strip proves. (In fact, even using the Exact Words argument, she's wrong; lima beans and peas are almost always classified as legumes, not fruits.)
- Jason once asked his father to participate in his trivia game show, "I Want To Be A Millionaire". The twist being that if the contestant gets a question wrong, he pays the host the amount he would have won.Jason: It's totally honest — I want to be a millionaire.
- One strip had Andy ask Peter how his Summer reading list was coming along, and he responded that he was halfway through. Catching onto this trope for once, Andy asked "Halfway through reading the books on the list, or halfway through reading the list itself?", prompting Peter to whine "C'mon Mom, it's a whole page!"
- One arc begins with Jason wanting to see how Roger's electronic chess game works. Andy warns him with "I don't want you taking apart and breaking your father's chess thing!" Jason says that it isn't what he plans on doing, so she tells her where the game is. Jason then thinks to himself as he's leaving "I'm just gonna take it apart."
- A frequent source of humor.
- Explaining the Soap: Peter gets this reaction in a 1995 strip (eyes glazing over and repeating "uh-huh") when Paige explains a then-current story arc on Melrose Place to him, but Paige had exactly the same reaction when Jason explained the premise of Highlander: The Series to her.
- Exposed Embarrassing Purchase: In one strip, Jason and Peter go to the store, and Jason scratches out the bar codes on certain items, causing the cashier to yell things like "price check on extra-strength dandruff shampoo!"
- Exploding Closet: Any time Jason cleans his room.
- Eye Scream:
- In one strip, Peter flicks a paper football and winds up lodging it in Paige's eye.
- In another, a fallen, dried-up autumn leaf blows into Paige's eye, and she blames Jason for it - since he knows physics, he probably "calculated the aerodynamics" of the leaf when he saw it coming and told Paige to look up at just the right moment. Turns out that's exactly what Jason did, as evidenced when he forgets to hide the physics scribbling on his hands from Paige and ends up head-first in a garbage can for his trouble.
- The Faceless: Roger's boss, JP Pembrook (originally RT).
- Faceplanting into Food: One strip has Roger talking about all the delicious, fattening food he's eating in enormous quantities (steak, baked potatotes, corn with butter, onion rings, an entire rack of ribs, a pie...) before revealing he's passed out in a plate of his wife's horrible health food.Jason: It's almost as if Dad falls asleep during dinner on purpose.
Andrea: Just ignore him. More tofu slaw, anyone?
- Facial Scruff: One arc has Roger deciding to grow a beard over Andy's objections. It ends when Andy announces that she has decided that it is his facial hair and he can grow it out if he wants to. Similarly, these are her leg hairs... Roger shaves.
- Failures on Ice:
- In one strip, Jason tries to rollerskate, but rolls down a hill and into a yard with a sign that says "Beware of Dog." Paige, naturally, enjoys this.Paige: I really need to write Gramma thanks for those roller-skates...
- Jason is seen flailing and thrashing around on his ice skates before grabbing the wall for support. He then says that if he's that bad on the rubber mats, going on the actual ice should be interesting.
- Jason gets hit with the short end of the stick again when Eileen invites him to go ice skating. He falls down twice.
- In one strip, Jason tries to rollerskate, but rolls down a hill and into a yard with a sign that says "Beware of Dog." Paige, naturally, enjoys this.
- Fancy Dinner: Peter took Denise out on occasion (at her insistence) to a local French restaurant called La Maison Rouge (literally "The Red House"), which was portrayed as being so expensive Peter had to ask a year and a half's worth advance on his allowance in order to afford it. (The second time, Denise got smart and borrowed her mom's credit card to pay for it.)
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Happens to Paige for one school assignment.Peter: What's wrong with you?
Paige: [head on desk] I have to write a ten-page essay.
Peter: Poor baby.
Paige: On Thomas Edison.
Peter: Poor baby.
Paige: Dad did his college thesis on Edison.
Peter: I'll go get the straitjacket.
Paige: I'd prefer razor blades.
Roger: [walking into panel] Just heard the good news...
- Also, any time Jason has to tutor Paige in math.Paige: [the night before a big math test] I figure I'd be better off just ending it all now and saving myself the misery.
Andy: Paige, no math test is that bad!
Paige: It's not the test I'm worried about.
Jason: Your tutor awaits...
- Happens to Paige for one school assignment.
- Faux Horrific:
- Jason decides to dress up as an iMac for Halloween. When asked why an iMac is scary, he responds, "I HAVE NO FLOPPY DRIVE!" in a scary voice, and Peter is terrified.
- Also:Jason: ...And it's said that if you listen, you can still hear the sound of his beating heart!
Jason: ...and there, dangling from the car door's handle, was a bloody metal claw!
Jason: ...it wasn't until they got home that they learned the McCoy Lodge had burned down 25 years ago!
Paige: Face it, Jason. You can't scare me.
Jason: ...and when she opened the closet, all the clothes were polyester!
Jason: I just needed to warm up.
Paige: Tell me it's not true! Tell me it's not true!
- Feigning Healthiness: Jason attempts to fake being well in order to go to school and at the very least take a math test despite clearly being sick. The teacher doesn't buy it and tells him to go home.
- Fictional Video Game: Lots of them, mostly played by Jason, although most have names that are parodies of real games or combinations of their names, like Duke Quakem, Mortal Karnage, Riviablo, Nice City, Primal Instinct, Super Earthworm Mario Country 3, World of Warquest, and Candy Farm Dungeon. the system Jason uses is called the Jupiter 64 Gamestation. (The comic does also mention a lot of real games, for example, Carmageddon.)
- Filth: Parodied:
- Peter finds Jason drooling over a centerfold. Of a computer. ("Hey: this video card looks airbrushed!")
- Andy and Roger once catch him drooling over old National Geographics, and Roger believes it is due to pictures of topless women, when it turns out to be the Apollo 11 issue.
- Played straight in a 1989 story where Peter receives a swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated. Peter insists I Read It for the Articles, and Andy suggests that she cut out the swimsuit women, causing Peter to reply "And read it out of context?" Eventually, she just takes it from Peter and burns it (to Roger's horror).
- Peter puts up a new calendar and spends all afternoon in his room with it. Andy hears about this and approves, saying she also likes to plan things things out. Jason then corrects her, he's just looking at the bikini models for each month.Andy: I wish your father would talk to that boy...
Jason: It'd be pretty easy, he's up there with Peter.
- Fire-Breathing Diner:
- Peter spent an entire week having to live down his girlfriend Denise's April Fools' Day joke: a chocolate rabbit filled with hot sauce, which he of course ate in two bites before his mouth was set aflame.
- Also used in a different comic: Jason is shown adding three full bottles of hot sauce to his tacos. He ends up breathing fire into Andy's face, while remarking how great Novocaine was. (He had paid a visit to the dentist earlier.)
- In another strip, Jason and Peter are playing a Name That Tune-style game with their tacos ("I can eat this taco with eight squirts of hot sauce." "Eat that taco."), resulting in Peter spraying flames from off-panel.
- Flash In The Pan Fad: One storyline had Paige and Nicole debating whether to steal a popular CD from the music store, since they don't have enough money to buy it. Paige wants to just wait and buy the CD when they do have the money, but Nicole counters that they need the album now, because the band will be completely passé by the end of the week, if not sooner.Paige: There's a definite downside to liking flash-in-the-pan groups.
- Flat Character: Lampshaded on the back cover of Assorted FoxTrot, which mimics a "Nutrition Content" panel. Ingredients include the various leads and "several artificial characters added for flavor."
- Flaw Exploitation: Jason is a master of this when it comes to Paige and schoolwork, as he likes to take advantage of Paige's incompetence in math to give her wrong answers on purpose when she asks for help.Jason: Want help with your math homework?
Jason: Want help with your science homework?
Jason: Want help with ANY of your homework?
Jason: Hmm. You're either getting smarter or wiser.
Paige: [sternly] By the way, Shakespeare's first name was "William," not "Chet."
- Flexing Those Non-Biceps: The weedy Jason draws battleships on his biceps, so they can bob up and down when he flexes. When Paige points out they aren't moving, he wonders if he should have started with a lighter ship.
- Flipping the Bird: Peter, watching the catcher's signals in baseball:Peter: Two fingers? Shake him off. Three fingers? Shake him off. Two fingers? Shake him off again. Three fingers? Shake him off again. One finger?... Hey, same to you, pal!
- Floating Advice Reminder:
- In a baseball story arc, Peter is standing at home plate and imagines a hallucination of Roger hovering in front of him, dispensing batting advice. In the final panel, the reaction from the dugout implies that he is swinging the bat at the hallucination to get it to shut up.
- A 2002 story arc sees Roger going to Costclub to buy Halloween candy. Andy insists on going along to be the voice of reason stopping him from making stupid impulse purchases, but Roger insists he can be his own voice of reason. His "voice of reason" is a floating copy of himself, seen from the shoulders up, and is just as dumb as Roger if not more so, actively encouraging his stupid impulse purchases at every step.
- Flowery Elizabethan English:
- Lampshaded in one strip when Peter decides to base his paper on Hamlet not on any of the countless thematic or symbolic topics it presents, but on the biggest question it raises of all: "What's with all the 'prithees'?"
- Also in an earlier story arc, in which Paige is reading Antony and Cleopatra for school:Paige: Peter, what's "prithee" mean?
Peter: Vegetable shortening.
Paige: What's "dotage" mean?
Peter: It's the act of cutting lumber into two-by-fours.
Paige: What's "forsooth" mean?
Peter: "Kiss me, hot momma, I'm burnin' with love."
Paige: [putting her head down in frustration] I can't understand this play at all.
Paige: "An argument that he is pluck'd, when hither he sends so poor a pinion of his wing, which had superfluous kings for messengers, not many moons gone by"?!?!?!? English literature my buns. This is Martian literature.
Jason: No, no—I'd recognize Martian.
- Years later, Paige tries speaking in Flowery Elizabethan English to the gym teacher, Miss Rockbottom, to get out of running laps. "Madam, we beseech thy fair nature." "Prithee grant mercy, for this track doth grant none!" It fails.Nicole: [sarcastically] Nice British accent.
Paige: All my prior acting's been in Shakespeare, okay?!
- Food Slap: In an arc centered on Roger attending his college reunion, one strip opens with a woman confirming that he's Roger Fox, from the Delta Theta fraternity, at which point she says "After all these years, I can't believe I found you!" ...And then promptly throws her drink in his face, calling him a pig. And as this is happening, another woman walks up, asking "Roger Fox?"
- Forced Meme: Jason has tried to do this many times. However, trying to make binary a common language among humans, stick on slugs, and theories about the pachycephalosaurus dominating other dinosaurs with Psychic Powers and the dinosaurs being wiped out by time-travelling big game hunters have not caught on as much as he had hoped.
- Foreign Sounding Gibberish: Averted. In one strip, Peter accidentally places a phone call to Japan by playing Led Zeppelin with the tones. The symbols shown in the phone's voice bubble are the Japanese characters for "moshi moshi", which is the "hello" phrase commonly used on the phone in that language.
- Foul Cafeteria Food: The horrible cafeteria food at Peter and Paige's high school is a running gag. Paige once received a plate of food where the macaroni and cheese was purple, the broccoli was orange, and the blueberry cobbler was green, there's apparently no refrigerator in the kitchen since the meatballs in red sauce they serve on Monday have turned into meatballs in fuzzy green sauce by Thursday, and don't be fooled if you see STEAK on the menu because it's actually Squid Tentacles, Eggplant, and Ketchup.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Played straight.
- Fourth-Wall Portrait: In one strip, three paintings of a bowl of fruit are shown, then one painting in the strip's standard style. In the fifth panel, Andy looks at a bowl of fruit and remarks that Paige's drawings are getting "more and more realistic."
- Freak Out: One Sunday strip has Peter open the fridge and go into a wide-eyed, slack-jawed panic because he found a miniature bird inside. Andy dryly explains that it's a Cornish game hen, not their Thanksgiving turkey, which calms Peter down...just as Roger enters the scene and starts freaking out over the bird himself.
- Free Prize at the Bottom: Jason comes across this trope on occasion.
- Funny Answering Machine: Several times, each courtesy of Jason:
- One 1989 strip had him singing "A Million Bottles of Beer" over the answering machine. (The original strip had him answering as the Satan Hotline.)
- "To reach Paige, press 666." This led to a fire-and-brimstone message from their preacher.
- Another time, he offered a separate number for boys calling to date Paige. It was the number of the insane asylum.
- Yet another time, he brought the machine up to the shower to record Roger singing in the shower:Roger: You did this HOW many weeks ago?!
- Paige has also done so, usually in the context of begging for a date to prom.
- Full-Name Ultimatum: Done a few times, such as when Andy sees Peter throwing an axe at a tree as part of a bet with Jason.
- Funny Background Event:
- Quite often. The fog might slowly rise in a picture of San Francisco; letters might change on a sign; et cetera. Another common one was Amend sneaking a caricature of himself and a funny headline onto a newspaper being read by a character.
- In one instance during the arc where Paige has a true suitor who takes her to a dance, in the background of the strip where they actually dance, there are two other couples dancing. One ends the dance with a VJ Day Kiss, the other ends with the guy nursing a black-eye after copping a feel. This is a possible throwback to the last date that Paige had with Chris, where she had to deal with the exact same event.
- Fun with Acronyms:
- On two occasions, Jason asked Paige and Peter if they wanted a PB&J sandwich. Paige's sandwich was full of margarine (Jason had said it stood for peanut butter and jelly, but he left out a comma) and Peter's was full of jalapeños.
- Paige also gets excited that the cafeteria is serving steak, which she explained is written in all-capital letters. Turns out that the lunch ladies are serving "squid tentacles, eggplant, and ketchup".
- Gag Boobs: Jason and Marcus, forced by Andy to stop playing video games and instead play outside in the snow, elect to build snowman representations of such games. Their "Lara Croft" is not very convincing, since the two snowballs meant to represent her you-know-whats "keep falling off."
- Gag Penis: Peter's entire baseball team is standing before the coach with huge bulges in their pants. The coach Face Palms and says, "Boys, I thought I told you to let the store tell you what cup size you need."
- Garbage Hideout: One comic, Jason pulls a prank on Paige and hides in a full trashcan, figuring she won't look for him in there. When Peter finds him, he explains his logic, leading to Peter later asking Paige "Isn't it great the way our brother punishes himself for us?".
- Gamer Chick: Eileen becomes this in a few story arcs but never seems to retain it otherwise. There were also a few strips where Paige, oddly enough, gave off this vibe, although it was usually with an ulterior motive of somehow driving Jason crazy.
- Gender Bender: Jason attempts to have a Franz Kafka-inspired dream after Peter tells him about The Metamorphosis. However, instead of turning into a bug, Jason wakes up as a miniature Paige. The next two weeks of strips are filled with him experiencing various horrors like shopping with "Big Paige" and Marcus falling in love with him, but when he reaches the point where he actually likes the Backstreet Boys, he finally wakes up, remarking that it's true that you can't die in your dreams.
- Get-Rich-Quick Scheme:
- If Jason isn't pestering Paige, he's more than likely trying to pull off one of these.
- Roger falls for a get-rich-quick scheme in an infomercial. He pays $200 for a pamphlet supposedly containing information on how to become a millionaire, but it amounts to telling him to invent a product, sell it for $200 and sucker 5,000 people into buying it.
- Getting Sick Deliberately: One time when Paige got sick with the flu, she had Peter sitting by her bedside for an uncomfortably long time.Paige: I appreciate your concern, but...Peter: Concern, nothing. I've got a math test tomorrow.Jason: (entering the room) Time's up. It's my turn.
- Giftedly Bad: Everyone in the family has it:
- No one likes Peter's guitar-playing. One strip had Jason messing with his sheet music so he'll spend more time counting off the rhythm rather than playing.
- Jason tries playing recorder for a while. The entire family hates the squeaking sounds.
- Roger tries to write a novel in a weekend that is Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue". Andy starts retching at it.
- Paige is established as a bad singer. Peter tells her to stop singing, and Jason tries to record her in the shower.
- Gift-Giving Gaffe: Roger's history of gift buying for his wife Andy is less than stellar. Gifts include: an extension cord, a heart-shaped spatula (for Valentine's Day), a box set of The Three Stooges DVDs...the list goes on.
- Gift Shake: In one strip, Jason shakes a present and says "Ooh! I wonder what this is?" A shattering noise is heard as he tells Marcus "That's why I never shake my own presents."
- Gigantic Gulp:
- Peter drank a giant-sized "thirty-two-ple" espresso when he needed to cram.
- In another strip, Jason discovers that Fun-Fun Mountain sells 128-ounce Slurpees.
- Another strip has Roger filling up a giant coffee mug:Andy: Roger, the kids brought you that mug as a joke.
Roger: I think you just can't stand to see me so happy.
- Girl in a Box: In one strip, Jason and Marcus hide in Peter's backpack because they don't find fifth grade challenging enough.
- Girls Have Cooties:
- Jason, quite frequently, sometimes taking it Up to Eleven, such as when he goes out for ice cream with Eileen and her parents. When she tries some of his sundae, he screams because the spoon touched her lips, and therefore, she has infected his entire sundae with lip cooties, and if he eats it, he'll die. However, as time went on, he got better, eventually admitting he liked Eileen (of course, said admission was followed by a week of exploring time travel as a way to prevent his past self from making said admission).
- Marcus had this too, but never quite to the same extent as Jason, and there were always subtle hints that he started liking girls while Jason was still afraid of cooties.
- Glurge: In-Universe. One of Jason's The Family Circus strips involves the father sparing the black widow that fatally poisoned Dolly, saying, "at least one will live." Paige doesn't get it, and walks off, at which point Jason protests that it's supposed to be heartwarming.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: A variation occurs in one series of strips where Roger goes shopping at Costclub. Andy says he needs someone to go with him to act as his "voice of reason", but he insists he can do it himself. The following comics depict Roger's Voice of Reason as a miniature Roger sticking out of a cloud who (since he's basically the same person) just reinforces decisions he was already going to make or exacerbates them (like encouraging him to buy three gigantic bags of potato chips instead of just one).
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In one strip Peter shouts "Curse you to Hades!" at the RIAA when he thinks his new CD is copy-protected and won't play in his computer. But then the iFruit explains that no, it just refuses to play Vanilla Ice on general principle.
- Gotta Have It, Gonna Steal It: A week's worth of strips had Paige and Nicole thinking about shoplifting the latest CD of the hot new boy band. Ultimately they decide to put it back, which is just as well as the mall cop had been watching them the whole time, due to the way they were Acting Unnatural.
- Grammar Correction Gag:
- Done frequently by Andy. She tries to justify it by being an English major who appreciates the value of the language, but judging from Peter's response of "You're coming through real clear", it doesn't work.
- Roger, of all people, chews out a co-worker for turning in a typo-filled paper. Said co-worker blames it on his computer's lack of a spell checker. (Worth mentioning is that this isn't Roger complaining about a few misspelled words- the co-worker had the spelling skills of a three year old. Even the simplest words are mangled, the punchline being that computerized spellchecking was so commonplace that the co-worker believed the lack of it was a perfectly acceptable excuse for the abysmal quality.)
- Grammar Nazi: Andy, especially in early strips, being an English major and an occasional writer. Peter and Paige often forget that asking her for help with an English paper is a bad idea, and Jason enjoys aggravating Andy by mispronouncing words like "nuclear" on purpose.
- Grandfather Clause: Due to the strip's Long Runner status it uses plenty of tropes that are now considered discredited, like Jason's Girls Have Cooties or Paige's Teens Love Shopping.
- Gratuitous French: Among other instances, in Paige's "Ooo - Pierre" dreams.Pierre: Bonjour, Paige.
Paige: Pierre, is that you?
Pierre: C'est moi.
Paige: Moi moi moi moi moi moi moi moi...
[Note: "C'est" - "It is" - in French is pronounced similar to "Say" in English]
- Green-Eyed Monster: Despite being a Big Eater, Peter never seems to gain weight, and not for lack of trying. He often complains about the fact that he's thin as a rail despite the amount he eats. This has made both his parents envious, usually Roger, but Andy too, who once wore earplugs when he weighed himself and insisted he lock the door to the bathroom while he did so. After he made a Dagwood Sandwich and huge chocolate shake in order to gain weight for the swimsuit season (and Andy dumped the shake over his head) he mused, "Nobody ever feels sorry for the skinny."
- Gretzky Has the Ball:
- Played with, and sort of the Trope Namer.Jason: Joe Montana fades back to pass. He sees Jerry Rice open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong team.
Jason: He sees Derrick Thomas open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong position.
Jason: He sees Wayne Gretzky open in the end zone!
Peter: Wrong sport. Moron.
Peter: [picks up a piece of computer equipment] So is this a modem or a hard drive?
- In another comic, Jason predicts that the Orioles will win the Super Bowl, then asks "Which team has Charles Barkley?"
- Peter has to take Jason to a basketball game. Jason is angry at first over having to watch a bunch of eight-foot-tall geeks kicking balls through goalposts for two hours, then asks which guy is the quarterback.
- Andy once asked what inning was it during a football game.
- Played with, and sort of the Trope Namer.
- Grilling Pyrotechnics: A Running Gag with Roger:
- At least one strip had Jason sabotaging Roger's attempt to grill hot dogs by having his toys, while reenacting Saving Private Ryan, melt a soldier on the grill.
- One strip also says that days when Roger is grilling on summer vacation are the closest thing to an exception to the usual rule of Jason having to go outside to get fresh air (namely because Roger's attempts at grilling result in the destruction of fresh air).
- Up to Eleven at times, with one strip showing an attempt causing a pillar of flame to blast from the grill, into orbit, and destroy a probe on the moon. It's then implied that this isn't the first time it's happened.Jason: (handing Roger a phone) NASA called. Apparently you owe them some money.
- Grocery Store Episode: Roger and Peter are depicted as being as bad in a grocery store as Paige is at the mall, if not worse. Andy once sent them to buy eggs, and they ended up buying so much stuff (most, if not all, of it junk food) that the receipt filled one entire grocery bag.
- Groin Attack: Occurs to Peter when trying to slide across the hood of his car, The Dukes of Hazzard style. His underwear snags on the wiper blade, causing this trope.
- Grounded Forever: Peter has been grounded for intervals of decades, centuries, or life. It never seems to stick of course. (Of course, in one two week arc where he was grounded for only two weeks, Andy reduced it to one, because having him stay in the house was proving to be a cruel punishment for the rest of the family, he was so annoying.)
- Hacked by a Pirate: Jason creates an elaborate treasure map (with a computer folder marked X) and wears a hat and eyepatch when illegally downloading music files for Peter.
- Halfway Plot Switch: A few arcs had these:
- An arc had Roger attending an out-of-state business meeting, then returning home to find Jason needs stitches due to getting hit in the face by a Hot Wheels car. After two days devoted to Jason and his stitches, Roger quits work to spend more time with his family. He then gets conned into buying a $199.95 booklet on making money (which turns out to be worthless) and then tries to make money selling stocks on the internet. After losing $11,000 in the second hour, he sells the family computer and they buy an iFruit.
- A 1995 arc began with Roger entering Jason in a chess contest. Thereafter, Jason wins $50 in the contest, taunts his siblings with it, then eventually spends it on 5,000 gumballs, which he eats in one weekend, then he gets a cavity, eventually ending up with him going to the dentist.
- Hammerspace: In one strip Peter looks inside his bag lunch and realizes he must have gotten Jason's bag by mistake, since it contains a ham and cheese sandwich...emphasis on the "a". The last panel shows Jason with about a dozen sandwiches, Marcus wondering how on Earth his mother fit them all in a standard brown lunch bag.
- Headphones Equal Isolation:
- In one strip, Andy appears to be scolding Peter while he sits in a recliner, but her dialogue is represented as tiny squiggles. In the last panel, she yanks off his headphones (which to this point had been obscured by the recliner's padded headrest) and screams, "AND TAKE OFF THIS STUPID WALKMAN!"
- Also, the kids give Andy a Walkman and then proceed to ask her questions like "Tell me if it's not all right for me to blow off my homework tonight" while she is plugged in.
- Hate Fic: In-Universe, basically every single one of Jason's creative endeavors is one of these towards Paige, turning her into a horrible monster or having everyone in the world treat her with the same terror and revulsion he feels towards her. The sole exception in the strip's entire run seems to be his How the Grinch Stole Christmas! parody, which focused on Andy instead and had Paige as one of the victims of her Grinchy ways alongside Peter and Jason.
- Heads, Tails, Edge: Peter, trying to decide on a prom date when caught in a Love Triangle among Denise and a new character named Mindy. She's eventually set up with Peter's friend Steve, and then never heard of again.Peter: It doesn't count. It landed on a crumb.
- Heart Symbol: In one strip, Morton texts Paige, asking her to simplify "2i < 6u" (the answer being i<3u).
- Helium Speech: In one strip, Jason imagines himself floating to the ceiling after inhaling helium, then expresses his disappointment (in curly letters) that it only makes his voice funny.
- Helping Granny Cross the Street:
- Conversed and parodied in an arc where Andy bans Peter from playing violent video games and instead gives him a game called Nice City (as opposed to Vice City). At one point he complains that his character's next challenge, helping 12 old ladies cross the street in under in a minute is impossible - until Jason points out that his video game instincts telling him to beat up and rob the old ladies probably contributed several layers of difficulty.
- Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue": Trope Namer, inspired by Roger's novel-writing Story Arc "His Code Name Was the Fox," which portrayed him as a Gary Stu in a bad Tuxedo and Martini spy novel that he wrote. Also an example of Stylistic Suck.
- Also Bill Amend himself. Newspapers read by the characters frequently feature such headlines as "Cartoonist Jams With Springsteen" or "Cartoonist Invited To Speak At U.N."
- Jason's "Slug-Man" comics are an inversion of the trope, as they are mainly designed to make Paige(-o-Tron) into as horrible a figure as possible.
- Another example from Jason came when the remastered Star Wars movies came out in the late 90s. Jason sent a letter to Lucasfilm, asking them to edit him into the film as a Villain Sue counterpart to Luke who ends up converting to the dark side.
- Hidden Depths: At one point, Peter bakes cookies when an angry Paige tells him he can do that to start making up for pulling a cruel prank on her. Given that Paige asked Jason, he must be better at baking than the rest of the family is.
- Hide and No Seek: Usually used by Peter or Paige to get Jason out of the way.
- Hitler Ate Sugar: Done by Andy, believe it or not. When Peter's baseball team loses a bet with the soccer team and has to shave his head (see Humiliating Wager, below), Andy sobs that he "looks like a skinhead" and that "people will think you're a Nazi!" (Peter's reply is that nobody calls Michael Jordan a Nazi, probably not the best comparison.)
- Hobo Gloves: In a series of Yet Another Christmas Carol strips from 1998, "Jasonezer" is led through a scene by the Ghost of Christmas Future where his mother, wearing patched rags including fingerless gloves, is scavenging through his obsolete computer equipment for anything of value.
- Hollywood New England: One strip had Peter and Jason deciding to adopt exaggerated Boston accents while eating clam chowder, with Peter even saying "pahk the cah in the Hahvahd Yahd" in the throwaway panels. They stop upon threat of violence from Paige.
- Hormone-Addled Teenager:
- Both of the elder Fox siblings but occasionally turned Up to Eleven with Peter. In one strip, Peter even buys a CD by a band he hates solely because of the "hot-looking half-naked babe" on the album cover, and asks Roger, "Dad, at what age does a boy's brain regain control of itself?"Peter: Now do we want to sit in the front of the class, where we'll be perceived as nerds; in the back of the class, where we'll be perceived as slackers; or in the middle, where we won't be perceived as much of anything?
[two attractive female classmates in sexy outfits walk by]
Girl: Come on, Ashley, let's sit up front.
Steve: Call me Nerd Boy.
Peter: How did we make decisions before hormones?
- In another series of strips, Peter agrees to get a discounted haircut from a cosmetology student because she's a former magazine model. He's so distracted by her talking about bearskin rugs and taking off swimsuits that he doesn't even notice when she cuts his ear, and in the final strip he still calls it the best haircut he's ever gotten despite the fact that his head looks like it was stuck under a malfunctioning lawn mower.
- Lampshaded in a Sunday strip when Paige asks Jason if there's a way to text "kissy face" emojis to a boy she likes, but have him see only regular "smiley faces" so she doesn't come on too strong;Jason: If you want him to see regular smiley faces, why don't you just text him those?
Paige: Because he's cute and I want to send him kissy-faces! Duh!
Jason: (to Roger) Be honest: when hormones hit, my brain's gonna turn to mush, isn't it?
Roger: I wish I had good news for you, son...
- Both of the elder Fox siblings but occasionally turned Up to Eleven with Peter. In one strip, Peter even buys a CD by a band he hates solely because of the "hot-looking half-naked babe" on the album cover, and asks Roger, "Dad, at what age does a boy's brain regain control of itself?"
- Horrible Camping Trip: Roger's annual camping trip is a Running Gag for the strip; though the locations may differ, the results are the same. Some examples:
- Roger likes going to Uncle Ralph's cabin. Most of the kids aren't thrilled about it. One arc started with the kids hiding in the bathroom and Jason sabotaging the lock.
- In one arc, Roger takes them on one of these to a place called Skeeter Falls. In another, he locks all the food in the car, and spends the whole arc trying to open it with a clothes hangar.
- Subverted once when the family's next Horrible Camping Trip was instead a trip to Fun-Fun Mountain (Although the parents weren't too happy).
- And subverted again in an early arc where they go to Hawaii.
- Zig-zagged in the Caribbean resort arc, as most of the family enjoyed it even though the place turned out to be every possible kind of fake and cheap: It was actually housed in a giant building with an artificial beach hundreds of miles from any ocean, the staff all had fake Jamaican accents, the "steel drums" were a synthesizer (whose player accidentally hits the button for bagpipes instead), and the "limbo suite" is so named because of its low ceiling. (Roger had taken the "How low can you go" sales pitch to mean it was a low rate.) Andy was the only one dissatisfied with the trip.
- Roger turns out to have a Freudian Excuse, as revealed in this strip.
- How the Character Stole Christmas: Jason wrote a pastiche of How the Grinch Stole Christmas! with his mom as the title character. It ends up being an inversion of the original story, where she replaces lavish gifts with "useful" items such as novels, health food, and clothing. She then retracts after the "kids down in Kidville" complain.
- Human Popsicle:
- Comically invoked in one strip where Jason manages to spray water from a supersoaker his dad got him for Christmas at him when he was shoveling the driveway, causing Andy, who is frozen with him, to go "'Don't give him a super-soaker for Christmas I said. 'But he really wants one.' You said."
- And in another where Peter is practicing baseball in the backyard during winter. He used heat lamps to keep the backyard snow-free, but then knocked a foul ball off one and ended up frozen.
- Humiliating Wager: Peter has to shave his head after the baseball team loses a bet with the soccer team about who could eat the most burgers at White Castle.
- Hummer Dinger: One storyline had a storyline where Roger went to a "Humbler" dealership. Said vehicle turns out to be comically huge, have a gas mileage of 25 meters per gallon, and is hinted to be so heavy that it affects the Earth's orbit around the Sun. The salesman, sensing (correctly) that Roger fears Andy's reaction if he even considers buying it, says the dealership has a divorce lawyer on call. Roger wisely keeps the brochure and goes home.
- Hypocritical Heartwarming: It's often shown that while Peter, Paige and Jason may get on each other's nerves, only they can do that:
- Peter will make fun of Paige and keep her social life down to less-than-desirable. Then he finds out that the local "lech" in his words asked Paige out to prom. Peter warns her about the guy, threatens him that his date is "My baby sister" and spend the dance night looking out for Paige. He insisted that she take mace with her, and waited up for her to return home. While he says he'll say "I told you so" for weeks, his expression isn't mocking, but concerned that she didn't listen to him and relieved that the mace worked.
- Paige will punch out Peter if he insults her or goes too far. When some high school thugs try beating him up — they were disappointed his Halloween party didn't have beer— she went You Leave Him Alone! and threatened to call the cops on them. Peter was so surprised and sincerely thanked Paige for saving his bacon.
- One variant is that Jason was shocked and appalled that Peter made Paige really upset by faking a secret admirer letter, and leaving her to wait in the rain for a guy who wouldn't come. His pranks on Paige never went that fair, albeit partly because Jason thinks that Girls Have Cooties. He did consider setting Morton up with Paige, but only as revenge for Morton bullying him in summer camp.
- Hypocritical Humor:
- Andy is a master of this, from lecturing Jason and Paige on breaking their New Year's resolution to be nice to each other while breaking her own resolution by snacking on potato chips, to chastising Jason for watching too much TV and ordering him outside - so she can watch her soaps.
- Andy loves to play Moral Guardians, trying to restrict what media the kids consume because she doesn't want them being affected by it. Of course, she also watches trashy soap operas, Sex and the City, and The Sopranos, got addicted to Doom once, and it most certainly affects her behavior: in one strip she let out a Cluster Bleep-Bomb that would impress Tony Soprano himself when she was told that the show's next season had been delayed.
- In one series of strips, Peter gets in trouble for punching out another student; when Denise finds out, she chews him out for acting like he's in a Clint Eastwood movie or something. When she learns that Peter punched the guy for insulting her, she says "And you just punched him in the nose?!" and Peter, rolling his eyes, responds "Look, Clint, I..."
- Roger is like this in a very early Sunday strip. He wakes the kids up for church, and they're upset, wanting to go back to sleep. Roger scolds them, telling them, "Someday you'll realize that some things are more important than sleep!" What does he do when they get to church? He falls asleep. Paige darkly suggest pinching him.
- In another strip, Paige chides Peter for hanging a wall calendar in his room filled with photos of half-naked (or more) women.Paige: Need I remind you that Mom and I do come into this room on occasion? Did you ever think of that, Mr. Insensitive? I mean, you could have gotten one with at least a couple of half-naked men.
Peter: What?! Every time you see me in my skivvies you just laugh.
- In one series of strips Paige gets a pimple on the end of her nose and freaks out about it. Andy tells her that it's just a natural part of growing up and she needs to calm down...and then when Paige asks "Is that a new gray hair?" she freaks out just as bad, prompting Paige to walk off saying "No comment."
- In one series of strips Peter goes to the pizzaria where his best friend Steve works, figuring that he'll be able to get free pizza. When Steve presents them with a bill, Peter rants to Jason about how friends are supposed to look out for each other...and then remarks "Oh well, at least I don't have to leave him a tip."
- Andy is a master of this, from lecturing Jason and Paige on breaking their New Year's resolution to be nice to each other while breaking her own resolution by snacking on potato chips, to chastising Jason for watching too much TV and ordering him outside - so she can watch her soaps.
- I Can Explain: Happens at least twice when Peter confesses to a transgression that he erroneously believes Andy already knows about:
- In the aforementioned Berserk Button plot mentioned above, Peter is told a call will be made to his parents:Peter: [worried] Hi.
Andy: Peter, the school called me today.
Peter: Look, I know what you're going to say. Fighting is wrong. I know that. It was a momentary lapse. It won't happen again. I'll have to serve detention, but Mr. Krimpshaw says he may not put it on my permanent record. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I was an idiot, all right?!
Andy: They called to say someone found your wallet.
Peter: [thinking] "Was" nothing.
Andy: Now, then. What's all this about a fight?
- In a one-off strip, Andy tells Peter she was cleaning under his bed and found something. Peter rapidly stammers that he only has those magazines for the articles... until Andy reveals that she was talking about his old baseball glove, which she then produces.Andy: Now, what's this about magazines?
Peter: [tugging at his collar] You mean my Scientific American collection?
- In the aforementioned Berserk Button plot mentioned above, Peter is told a call will be made to his parents:
- Idea Bulb:
- Parodied in one strip where Jason takes every bulb in the house and uses them to make a mobile of light bulbs over his desk, saying that it "enhances my aura of creative genius."
- In another strip, Paige is struggling with her essay on Thomas Edison when one of these flashes above her head. It turned out to be Roger who's holding a literal bulb up because he wants to impress her with all his Edison knowledge.
- Another strip has Paige, who is struggling with her homework, hold a lightbulb over her head in order to invoke this trope. Peter claims that he does this for Shakespeare.
- I Did What I Had to Do: In an Imagine Spot, Paige tells a frog that she's dissecting that she's dissecting him For Science!, then is grabbed by a larger frog, who tells her the same thing. Arguably deconstructed, since it shows that it's easier to make rationalizations like that when you don't end up paying the price.
- If It Tastes Bad, It Must Be Good for You: Andy is such a health food nut, and even some real life equivalents would find her dishes to be Nausea Fuel. (Beet and Cheese Subs, Curry Loaf, Corn on the Cob in a Hot Dog Bun, Lima Bean pizza?) Often played for kicks though, due to the Rule of Funny. This was almost the Trope Namer for this very trope as one strip calls it "The irony of health food."
- If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Occurs in one arc where Jason "coaches" Peter on football in 95-degree heat: "You know, it occurs to me that if you die, I'll get your stereo." "OK, OK, I'll pay you two dollars! Just cool it with these push-up drills!"
- I Just Want to Be Special: Played for Laughs with Jason and his constant desire for superpowers, such as standing out under a full moon after being nipped on the finger by a chihuahua in case it was a baby werewolf. Or asking the dentist to aim the X-ray machine at him so he can gain Blendo Man's powers. Or standing in the hot summer sun hoping to turn into The Human Torch.
- Ignorant of Their Own Ignorance: The whole cast shows this, but mostly Jason. He professes to be an Insufferable Genius (even desiring the "insufferable" part), but several times he proves to be a Know-Nothing Know-It-All armed with a vast library of Little Known Facts that he uses to try to impress people, only to look foolish. Some examples include doing a multimedia computer presentation of Old Yeller as a book report that had nothing whatsoever to do with the book (which he never even read) and doing a class report on Amazon.com when the assignment was the Amazon river. (His excuse? "I looked it up, they don't have one.") There are dozens more, all of them incredibly silly. That said, Jason is very book smart, tutors Paige on math and generally gets straight As, but it could be argued he is Street Stupid. Eileen acts as his Foil, being both just as book smart at him but more streetwise
- I'll Take Two Beers Too: Peter and Denise at a fast food restaurant. Peter orders "two burgers, two large fries, two chocolate shakes", Denise objects, saying she wanted a vanilla shake, and Peter says he hasn't started ordering for her yet.
- Imagine Spot: Happens all the time, but in one memorable series of strips, we see what it'd have been like if Jason and Marcus had been cast as Frodo and Sam in the The Lord of the Rings movies, with Peter Jackson having to put up with their uber-geekiness.
- Imagine the Audience Naked: Turns out not to be useful advice to give to Paige. "Yowza! It's like a Chippendales show!"
- Impossible Pickle Jar: Jason is having trouble with a pickle jar, so Peter decides to show him "how a REAL man does it." Cut to off-camera sounds that sound like Peter's going into labor, with Jason revealing to Paige that he's glued the lid shut: "This ought to be entertaining for a couple of hours."
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Anytime someone wants to go to the mall, he or she can count on Paige inviting herself along the minute the word "mall" is uttered (regardless of how quietly it was said). Paige apparently has superhuman hearing with regard to this, as in one strip Peter, while at home (and after being reassured by Andy that Paige wasn't), told Andy he was going to the mall and Paige apparently heard it although she was standing in the popcorn line at the movies at the time.
- The same gag applies to Jason with regard to computer shopping (in the story arc in which the iFruit is introduced).
- Another example involving Paige occurs in an early strip in which Jason is being scolded by Andy for not buying Valentine cards for his class as he was supposed to, because the store only had Muppet Babies cards.Andy: What's wrong with Muppet Baby cards?
Jason: Mother, do you know what kind of loser buys Muppet Baby cards?!
Paige: [entering] I can't believe I just got the last box of Muppet Baby cards!
Andy: Bad timing, Paige.
Jason: I rest my case.
- Incendiary Exponent: Basically any time Roger (and in some cases, Peter) attempts to light the grill for a barbecue.
- Informed Attribute: Jason and Peter are supposed to be skinny, and Roger is supposed to be overweight, but all three appear to be roughly the same build as all the other characters. (It's slightly more noticeable when their shirts are off. Some of it could be chalked up to Peter's baggy sweatshirt.)
- Innocent Swearing: In one episode, Paige watches Jerzy Spaniel while babysitting. Of course, the kid hears the word and starts repeating it. In the epilogue, Paige reports that the mother said kids always hear bad words and repeat them, but if you don't use them often or attach special significance to them, they'll eventually drop it. Then they discussed watching Jerzy Spaniel while babysitting... resulting in Paige making a grand total of one cent for that babysitting job.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!:
- The iFruit can speak, fantasize about sexy video game characters, demand hugs, and taunt those who refuse to play games against it. It also has, at times, a rather disturbing ability to deny user control and even control its own environment, changing not only its own wallpaper, but the wallpaper in the computer room.
- One comic also featured a digital camera that supposedly had some sort of AI to guarantee decent pictures. When Roger tried to use it, it asked to be handed to someone who knows what he's doing, and retracted all the buttons.
- Various other talking, seemingly intelligent electronic devices: A electronic chess set in the early days, an obnoxious computer at Roger's workplace ("Can I get you some coffee? ...Oh wait, I don't have arms."), and a Tamagrouchy, a sentient (and aptly-named) knockoff of a Tamagotchi that Roger got Paige for cheap at the height of the real thing's popularity.
- Insufferable Genius: Eugene Wu, mostly because he's an arrogant Jerkass who feels the need to rub his intelligence in everyone's faces. His sister Phoebe is smarter, but she's actually nice and well-adjusted. Jason has moments of this as well.
- Insult Misfire:
- Jason tries to farm gold in a video game and sell it on eBay:Peter: I guess there's an idiot born every minute.
Jason: Don't call my future customers idiots.
Peter: I wasn't referring to your customers.
- In one strip, Peter goes to a Fast Food Restaurant, only to end up screamed at by the order-taker about how there are no more Bitty Babies as well as insulted. Peter then tries to tell the order-taker that he was only there to get a cheeseburger, to which the order taker reopens the channel and apologizes, explaining that it's been a rough week.
- Jason tries to farm gold in a video game and sell it on eBay:
- Intercontinuity Crossover: In-Universe example: One strip had a TV Christmas special playing called "Rudolph's The Lord of the Rings Christmas" where, just as the title implied, has Hermie, Rudolph, and Clarence being dispatched by the Elf enforcer to Rivendell to meet up with Elrond for a council (presumably the same one Elrond held regarding the One Ring). When it cut to a commercial break, Peter shouted "Hey Jason, they used your idea!"
- The Internet Is for Porn: From the series of strips where they start using Compunet:Jason: Ms. October sure has big hooters.
Marcus: I wonder if that affects download time.
- Intimidating Revenue Service:
- Every April, without fail, Roger waits until the last minute to file his tax returns by himself (or try to) and it turns into a nightmare for him. He never learns, apparently. Without a doubt, his worst attempt was the time he tried to use the computer to do them; a bad idea for someone who has a hard time simply figuring out how to use a mouse.
- He actually tried it twice. To be fair, the first time would have worked... had Jason not deleted the file (due to its size) to make space for a Moon Rover simulator. He didn't know that the file was related to taxes, but randomly deleting files doesn't make it that much better.
- A different variation of this occurred in a Sunday strip depicting Jason and Marcus trick-or-treating. Despite not wearing any obvious costumes, everyone at the door reacts with horror. It then cuts to a frontal shot, depicting the boys wearing T-shirts reading "IRS Auditor". Marcus admits he was skeptical when Jason's dad suggested the costumes, while Jason hopes that one neighbour was only faking the heart attack.
- Invisible Parents: Denise's parents, who only appear in one arc and never on-screen.
- iProduct: The iFruit, of course. Also parodied in one arc where Jason tries to one-up the iPod by making a jPod.
- I Read It for the Articles:
- Peter preemptively uses this excuse when he thinks his mom found a Porn Stash.Andy: Peter, I found something interesting under your mattress.
Peter: Mom, I only read those magazines for the articles! I swear!
Andy: I meant this baseball mitt.
Peter: Oh. That's how you break it in.
Andy: Now, about those magazines...
Peter: [makes an Oh, Crap! face] You mean my Scientific American collection?
- And again when Peter claims he bought the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition for an article on marlin fishing off Bora Bora. Andy offers to cut it out of the magazine for him. Peter's response: "And read it out of context?"
- Peter preemptively uses this excuse when he thinks his mom found a Porn Stash.
- I Was Beaten by a Girl: Invoked by Jason when Eileen gets a higher score than him on a math test. Most people would be thrilled with a score of 102, but not Jason, especially when the person scoring 106 percent is a girl.Jason: The lowest of the low! The vilest of the vile! And now one of their wretched ilk has beaten me at math! It's more than I can STAND!
Andy: [deadpan] Speaking as one of the wretched... bummer.
Jason: I'm not getting the sympathy I think I deserve. Where's Dad?
- Ironic Echo: Practically every other punchline.
- It's All About Me: One series of mid-90s strips had Paige and her best friend Nicole trying to get dates to the prom. Nicole eventually gets asked out and Paige becomes upset and starts guilt-tripping her, essentially because it meant she wouldn't have someone to share her dateless misery with. After being called out on her attitude by Andy, Paige realizes she was being selfish and mends fences with Nicole...but they still argue about what color dress she's going to wear (to which Andy responds "Good friendships take time").
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks!:
- In-universe example. Jason worries about the good public reception of The Lord of the Rings movies. Although he is only concerned that enjoying Tolkien's trilogy will make it (gasp!) mainstream to be a nerd, therefore depriving people like himself of their "special" status.
- Also, a very early story arc had him upset when his mom bought him a Batman lunchbox from the 1989 film, because the movie had already been out for a few months and he didn't want to be seen as a bandwagon-jumper.
- In a very early week-long arc, Jason was obsessed about The Simpsons, but in the last strip, thought that "the fad was passé" because Paige liked it. (This was when the show was on opposite Murder, She Wrote by the way. It seemed Jason, like everyone else at the time who thought it was just a fad, was way off.)
- It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Played with in-universe. Jason was tired of waiting for the sequel to Myst to come out, so he created his own sequel. He showed his brother his game, "Here's the observatory and here's the library..." and Peter said, "Wait, these are all the same levels of the first game. What makes this different?" The computer then beeped and said, "Warning, velociraptor approaching." Jason replied, "You have to solve the puzzles a little faster now."
- I Warned You: An early storyline had Paige being asked out by a senior student who is known to be a sleazebag, which she accepted even though Peter repeatedly warned her. Of course, he tried to make moves on her, despite saying no, and he only relented after she threatened to mace him (which Paige only brought because Peter made her). After telling Peter what happened, his only response is that he's going to spend weeks taunting her and saying "I told you so," which only made her night worse.
- Jason, throughout the comic strips regular storylines, could be downright unlikeable.
- Every member of the family has their moments, actually, with Paige and Andy also being downright nasty a few times. Roger is perhaps the only person who's hardly ever actively malicious, but he still often causes trouble for his wife and/ or kids by being oblivious to the consequences or their feelings.
- Eugene, Phoebe's brother, is probably the biggest one in the two arcs where he appears. His debut is him being snotty and arrogant to his roommates at Bohrmore Camp, and no one can stand him. The guy is also a Professional Buttkisser that bribes their counselor with a Starfleet insignia. While he snarks that it would have been great to beat Jason and Marcus's science project, he explodes when Jason reminds him that Eugene lost to his little sister. When Phoebe returns to hang with Eileen, Marcus, and Jason in their home neighborhood, Eugene tries to sabotage their friendship.
- Jerkass Has a Point: One arc has Jason be bratty while trying to complete a Star Trek level and receive an admiral promotion. Andy has her column due, so she boots him off to meet her deadline. Jason is sullen for the next couple of days, and Andy tries to impress in him that her work is more important than his games. He retorts that none of his family shares his interests, thus anything he would do is less important by default. Andy tries to protest that it's not true, she can be interested in Star Trek. Jason orders her to prove it; cut to Andy looking to the heavens and silently thinking a part of Jason is right as he orders her to go to warp speed on the level. She definitely is not interested in what intrigues her son.
- Jobless Parent Drama: Downplayed when Bumbling Dad extraordinaire Roger quits his job in order to spend more time with his family. His family, naturally, are horrified, both because of the loss of income and the prospect of full-time Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity. Thankfully, Roger finally sees reason and gets his job back (And There Was Much Rejoicing from his family)... with the added bonus that his boss considers the days he didn't work as vacation time, so the family won't be able to go on their yearly camping trip. Roger, being the only one in the family who enjoys these trips, doesn't understand why the kids and his wife are now cheering louder.
- Just Here for Godzilla:
- In-Universe. Paige's reason for seeing The Return of the King is to sigh adoringly every time Orlando Bloom is on screen.
- Not that she's the only member of the Fox family to do that kind of thing:
- In an early Sunday strip, Paige is disgusted that Peter rented Raising Arizona from the video store despite the fact that he's seen the movie four zillion times but rented it again just because Holly Hunter is in it. "Oh, THAT'S a reason," she says. It turns out the video store rented Peter Dirty Dancing by mistake, and when Peter starts grousing about it, Paige tells him to shut up so she can watch. After all, even though Paige has seen the movie eight billion times, Patrick Swayze is in it.Peter: Oh, THAT'S a reason.
- Just Like Making Love: Used in an early strip, with Roger getting glared at by his wife after trying to lecture his son... on the fine art of lighting a fire.
- Just One More Level!: In one arc, Jason tries to convince his mom that she will like Doomathon II after playing it. Although she is apprehensive at first, she quickly falls victim to this trope.
- Just the Introduction to the Opposites: Played with in one strip, when Paige, Nicole and her fellow freshman classmates are actually excited about eating Mystery Meat for lunch. It turns out they're legitimately excited because they don't know what mystery meat actually is.Cafeteria Worker A: These poor freshmen break my heart.
Cafeteria Worker B: You took an oath. Now glop it on.
- Kazoos Mean Silliness: One strip had Jason post a lot of fake spoilers for The Phantom Menace to keep fans away and ensure he could get tickets for the film, one of which was claiming that John Williams "is big on kazoos now".
- Kid Detective: In one arc, Jason and Marcus become kid detectives, using the name 'Encyclopedias Brown and White'. As with most of their schemes, this one goes off the rails.
- Kissing In A Tree: Jason's classmates sing this to him after Eileen gets Jason's love note and thinks it was for her.
- Klatchian Coffee:
- Any of Peter's coffee based drinks.
- Also, in one strip, Roger tells Jason to make the coffee strong. He makes it so strong, Roger can't let go of the ceiling.
- Know Your Vines: Jason and Marcus get sent on a night hike through poison ivy as part of an Escalating War of pranks with the girls. They compound the folly by deciding to use the leaves as camouflage.
- Lampshade Hanging: Crossing over into Better Than a Bare Bulb territory: Plenty of it:
- For instance, in one of the aforementioned Elseworld trips, Paige finds herself transported into a pastiche of The Nutcracker, then asks if anyone could imagine such a trick being attempted in a comic strip.
- Also notice how many of the tropes listed here are shown to have lampshaded examples.
- Lampshade Wearing: Parodied. Upon seeing that his parents are snoozing on the sofa on New Year's Eve, Jason prompts them to whoop it up. They do so by donning lampshades, then falling right back asleep.
- Landline Eavesdropping: Jason was fond of eavesdropping on his teenage siblings' phone conversations. In one strip Pete and his girlfriend are inexplicably speaking in obvious code phrases before cutting to Jason and his friend listening in with the comment "they're on to us." In another Paige is trying to convince their mom to get a second phone line:Paige: "A second line wouldn't be..." (shouts into phone) "TAPPED!"Jason (ears smoking): "Medic..."
- Laser-Guided Karma: Happens from time to time. In the camp arc, Jason and Marcus' attempt to sabotage the girls' science project ends up rendering their own project inoperable, and they are forced to vote for the girls, lest Eugene's team win.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Andy and Roger did this back in 2006 during the final 6 daily strips; they sit at the table while casually discussing an article about a cartoonist announcing that he'll now only do Sunday strips instead of doing 7 a week, as he'd previously been doing.
- Lethal Chef:
- Everybody's had trouble in the kitchen at some point or another. Paige's approach to cleaning turkey is sticking it in the oven and putting it on "clean", and she once used Diet Pepsi in making Christmas cookies because she couldn't find the baking soda; Roger has trouble with scrambled eggs; Peter has tried defrosting frozen orange juice with a frying pan; Jason once substituted ingredients in cookies using his chemistry set and has managed to set coffee on fire somehow... Andy usually averts this (albeit with other cooking issues), but even she burned a Thanksgiving dinner when trying to outdo her mom.
- Peter has been shown several times to be a perfectly competent cook as long as he's making food for himself and no one else. He can also bake cookies.
- Lethal Eatery: The high school cafeteria.
- Let's Have Another Baby: Andy goes through a mid-life crisis of sorts and suggests this. Roger immediately tries to talk her out of it... only to start to recant when she suggests getting a Ferrari instead.
- Lighter and Softer: While a newspaper comic obviously can't be too edgy, in the 80s and early 90s Amend was more willing to write about mature themes, like the infamous storyline where Paige attends a frat party with Nicole and has to put up with a guy who tries to get her to smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, and/or have sex with him (with him actually taking a hit from a bong on-panel). Over time the series has switched to a more simple gag-a-day format (even before it became Sunday only) and comics with heavier themes are typically saved for Very Special Episodes.
- Lipstick-and-Load Montage: Done in a Sunday strip that apparently shows Paige putting on her make-up getting ready to go out. The last panel reveals it to actually be a grounded Peter trying to sneak out of the house disguised as Paige.
- Limited Wardrobe: It's rare that Peter is seen without his sweatshirt, and even rarer that he's seen without his baseball cap. One series of strips shows him wearing the cap in his baby photos. Lampshaded in one comic where Andy gives Jason some of Peter's hand-me-downs; cue Jason wearing the same sweatshirt and cap, preparing to ask him the obvious question.
- Literal Metaphor: In one strip Paige finds "Kick Me" signs taped to the back of all her tops and immediately accuses Jason, saying "Your fingerprints are all over this!" In the last panel, Marcus remarks "I told you not to eat those Cheetos before you tried that."
- Literal-Minded: One Sunday strip has Paige using a CD burner to attempt to literally burn (as in destroy) her Britney Spears CD, after she learns that Spears has a thing for Prince William.
- Logic Bomb: In one strip, Paige asks both parents if Nicole can stay over, and each tells her to ask the other, with her concluding that it's okay for Nicole to come over. Jason got the same answers from asking both parents, but instead consulted logic books.
- Long List:
- Peter, after discovering that all of his clothes smell like Paige's perfumes:Peter: You want to explain why my jean jacket smells like Giorgio perfume?
Paige: Beats me.
Peter: Or why my red sweater smells like Coco? Or why my pink shirt smells like Opium? Or why my blue t-shirt smells like Liz Claiborne?
Paige: Peter, will you calm down?!
Peter: Or why my scarf smells like Obsession? Or why my sweats smell like Lauren? Or why my green windbreaker smells like Colors? Or why my favorite sweatshirt smells like... like...
Jason: White Linen? [beat] ...What? It was just a lucky guess. Really. Honest. Crud.
- Also taken quite literally in a few strips, such as Jason writing his Christmas lists, Jason comically forgetting to specify essay length with several piles of presumed essay pages, and annual strips of Roger having several Tax-returns to fill out (with one even making a pun out of the 1040 form and his having 1,040 forms to fill out.).
- Peter, after discovering that all of his clothes smell like Paige's perfumes:
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Andy's unnamed mother, although appearing more than most examples of this trope, hasn't appeared in the strip since 1999.
- Look Behind You: Paige managed to trick an ice cream vendor at the Zoo this way in order to distract him long enough to have her ice cream cone be given a huge amount of swirls. He says afterwards that she pulled the same trick on him the previous summer.
- Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: The notoriously dateless Paige. Nicole seems to have somewhat better luck with boys than Paige does, but not much.
- On the rare occasions someone other than Morton Goldthwait seems to take an active interest in Paige, he often turns out to be a creep, like Chris Hennessey, Paige's upperclassman prom date whose attempts to seduce her ended when she threatened to Mace him; or Mitch Kellogg, who propositioned Paige for sex at a party while drunk (she angrily refused).
- There was one story arc in which Paige did go to a school dance with a reasonably nice, good-looking boy who seemed to like her too, but he was never heard from again afterward.
- Loophole Abuse: The kids try this all the time:
- Peter combines this trope with Cut a Slice, Take the Rest and Exact Words in one strip. He tells Andy that he and Jason only had "one slice each" at the pizza parlor before dinner, which translated to one pizza cut in half (coincidentally, on a night when Andy happened to be making "curry loaf" for dinner). Afterwards, Peter tells Jason "The Book of Peter, verse 1: Know thy loopholes."
- Paige does a similar one: her mother says she can only have one scoop of ice cream before dinner, so she jams a spoon into the ice cream tub and pulls out its entire contents as a single cylindrical "scoop."Paige: One scoop. You're my witness.
- The above-mentioned ice-cream gag was also recycled in a later strip, except it used Jason and Halloween candy, and his tactics involved keeping his bag of Halloween candy next to the radiator so it would all fuse together into "one piece."
- Another common gag has Peter getting permission to eat "the last" of some snack food item, and proceeding to eat through several boxes in order to get to the "last" one.
- The kids buy Andy a Walkman, and while Andy is listening to it and is oblivious to what's going on around her...Peter: Tell me if it's not okay for me to blow off homework tonight.
Paige: [pointing to catalog] Tell me if it's not okay for me to order this sweater on your credit card.
Jason: Tell me if it's not okay for me to eat this box of Ho-Ho's before dinner.
- Jason tries it a lot, but doesn't always succeed, as when he argues that "just a sec" can also refer to a parsec. (He was playing a racing game.)Jason: So far I've only driven 46 miles out of the 19.2 trillion you approved.
- Paige tried this as well:Paige: Mom, can you read my book report?
Andy: I'd be happy to, Paige.
Book Report: Ernest Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms is about zgwqolm and epxmhjdkav. The central character is Dgejhgp and the main themes are yqmnezxprb and tthja nwvkjd.
Paige: [holds up a pen] Feel free to fix any typos, by the way.
Andy: Nice try.
- Peter's three-page book report on The Great Gatsby:Page 1: The Great Gatsby
Page 2: is about a guy
Page 3: named Gatsby.
Peter: They never specified font size.
- Lost in Transmission: Deliberately invoked by Peter in one strip. He phones his mother and asks "Would it be alright if I...saved for college?" with a suspiciously long pause in the middle. After his mother agrees, he is shown with an Xbox and explaining to his friend Steve that he'll claim he actually asked "Would it be alright if I buy an Xbox with the money I saved for college?" but the signal on his crappy phone dropped out partway through. That way, his mother will also buy him a new cellphone.
- Lots of Luggage: In one strip, Roger laughs at the amount of gear Jason and Peter are bringing on the trip, saying that if they brought much more there wouldn't be room for them in the car. Obvious to the reader is the fact that that's exactly what they're trying to achieve (Fox family camping trips never end well), and in fact most of their luggage is filled with styrofoam.Peter: Out of curiosity, how much more?
Jason: I'm running low on duffel bags.
- Loud of War: In one strip, Paige is annoyed at the sounds of Jason making sweet talk to Quincy in the next room, and eventually yells at him. The last panel shows that Jason has been using a megaphone pointed at her room the whole time.
- Love Letter Lunacy:
- Peter (in one of his more Jerkass moments) leaves notes in Paige's locker, pretending to be a secret admirer.
- In another series of strips, Jason writes his mother a particularly mushy Mother's Day note, hoping to butter her up before asking for a new computer. Unfortunately, he hides it in his math book, and both he and Eileen accidentally take each other's math books home...
- There was a Sunday Strip where Jason and Roger's Valentine's Day cards got swapped by mistake. Andy ended up getting one with a bunch of juvenile Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue... variations ("Roses are red, daffodils gold; you might look better if you scraped off that mold."), with Roger beaming the whole time, unaware of the switch. The last panel shows Paige reading from the other Valentine, which is appropriately sappy ("Your kisses sweet, like angel's song"), as Jason mutters "Uh oh..." and we hear Roger shouting in pain in the background.
- Macho Disaster Expedition: In one arc, Roger takes Peter and Jason on a week-long male-only camping trip, which went as badly as all the previous camping trips the family went on. Jason and Peter actually lampshaded the sexist nature of the trope, though they claimed it was sexist against them because they weren't given an option on whether or not they wanted to do the trip in the first place. Paige and Andy didn't mind staying home, and Andy was actually the one to suggest the idea in the first place.
- Making a Spectacle of Yourself: In one strip, Peter buys a pair of sunglasses with one square lens and one triangular one simply for the sake of having a pair that no one else will borrow.
- Man in a Bikini: When Peter and Paige have to clean the basement during spring break, Peter complains that MTV says he should be cavorting with girls in bikinis instead of cleaning. Andy retaliates by sending Jason down in a bikini, telling Peter to squint.
- The Man in the Mirror Talks Back: Jason complains to his reflection how unfair it is that his family want him to donate his allowance to hurricane relief rather than buying a newspaper comic collection. His reflection agrees and goes on about how unfair it is of the family to assume that the needs of those whose homes and lives have been destroyed outweigh his desire to giggle for 30 minutes (or 45 if he reads slowly). Jason's final comment is "I'm not sure I like what I'm seeing".
- Man-Made House Flood: Roger once invoked this trope while filling in for Andy (see Walking Techbane). Jason and Marcus also did the same by stapling paper bats to the water heater.
- Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes: In this comic strip, there is an Imagine Spot where a ninja uses his skills to carve turkey.
- Masochist's Meal: There are a number of strips involving Jason or Peter accepting dares to put a ridiculous amount of Tabasco sauce on his Mexican food (and suffering the consequences).
- Meaningful Name: Whenever Amend needs names for the kids' classmates, he uses the monikers of his fellow cartoonists, with students named "Ricky Kirkman", "Scotty Adams", "Jimmy Davis", and "Billy Keane".
- Medium Awareness:
- Occasionally the characters will refer to the fact that they're in a comic strip. Notably, the week-long arc caused by an ink outage.Jason: I called Funky Winkerbean. He said the ink's out over the entire grid.
- Incidentally, that arc ran shortly after the Northeast Blackout of 2003.
- The 20th anniversary strip from 2008 combined medium awareness with a lampshading of Comic-Book Time. Roger spends most of the strip trying to convince Andy that a 20th anniversary means they're still young, especially compared to other cartoon families like the Bumsteads and Pattersons who've been around a lot longer. In the last panel, a balding Jason comes in complaining that Paige stole his hairpiece.
- Occasionally the characters will refer to the fact that they're in a comic strip. Notably, the week-long arc caused by an ink outage.
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: The strip's online-only 25th anniversary special involved Peter looking over photos of panels from the comic's first year and commenting on how odd the early character designs were.Peter: The box says 25 years ago, which is weird because I'm only 16.
- Mega Meal Challenge: The first time Jason and Eileen go on a date (not that Jason would ever call it that), she convinces him to order a ridiculously huge bowl of ice cream bigger than his head.
- Men Can't Keep House: When Andy leaves the house for a week, Roger somehow manages to flood the house about waist-deep in water after attempting to use the dishwasher.
- Merchandise-Driven: Parodied in one arc in which Jason creates a comic strip for his school newspaper (which is never shown on screen, and eventually gets pulled due to censorship)Jason: Feast your eyes on the world's next multi-bijillonaire!
Jason: My school is starting a monthly newspaper and I volunteered to do a comic strip.
Andy: Jason, "volunteering" means you're doing it for free.
Jason: I'm only doing the strip for free.
Andy: Well, what else is there?
Jason: A little thing called 'merchandising'. Ever hear of Garfield?
Andy: You know, just for once I'd like to be able to attend a PTA meeting...
- Millennium Bug: Referenced a few times in the run-up to the big day; the actual strip for January 1, 2000 has the strip itself being affected, with Peter and Jason reverting to period clothing, Peter's soda turning into a milk bottle, and Jason reading an article on "what those Wright brothers are up to".
- Memory Wipe Exploitation: During one arc where his mother is whacked out of her gourd on cough medication, Jason repeatedly goes up to her to say she forgot to give him her allowance for the week.
- Microwave Misuse: Paige once put some soup in the microwave, and it exploded. When her mother asks to see the can, Paige answers "I told you, it exploded."Andy: Paige, didn't we have this conversation about our first microwave?
- Mischief for Punishment: One strip has Jason desperate to get out of playing golf with his father, so he unleashes a storm of paper planes at his teacher in an effort to be forced to stay behind after school.
- Mister Muffykins: A couple of story arcs have Peter pet-sitting a tiny dog named Fauntelroy who's constantly either hopping around and yapping angrily or biting Peter. Peter thinks it's got the mother of all Napoleon complexes, but the second story arc implies that it's because he's been bathing with an all-natural beef tallow soap Andy purchased recently.
- Mocking Music: When Ridiculous Procrastinator Peter is trying to cram for his finals the night before, he hurls a book at the stereo when "Time Is On My Side" by The Rolling Stones comes on; bitterly commenting that some songs are not intended for students.
- Monkeys on a Typewriter: Peter reasons that, if monkeys can randomly write Hamlet, surely he can use a random number generator to write a book report about Hamlet. When Paige laughs at the gibberish on one page, Peter comments that was his attempt at the essay.
- Mood Whiplash: When Paige gets a 91 on her math test, she's on cloud nine... until she sees Jason's score of 108 on his math test (a new school record).
- Moral Myopia: Denise does not find violence an acceptable way to solve problems... except when someone has insulted her. Lampshaded when she chews Peter out, saying "This is Real Life, not a Clint Eastwood movie!"; when he says he punched the guy for insulting her, she responds "And you JUST punched him?!", prompting Peter to roll his eyes and say "Look, Clint..."
- Mountain of Food: In the arc in which Jason is Scrooge and Peter the Spirit of Christmas Present, Peter explains the conspicuous lack of a mountain of food as having had a light lunch.
- Mouthful of Pi:
- Paige is doing a geometry problem and asks Jason what pi is. Jason starts reciting. The last panel shows him still reciting at dinner time, with Paige asking Andy how it's her fault.
- Another strip has Jason and Marcus playing football, being unable to hike the ball since they decided to hike it on pi.
- Mundane Ghost Story: Jason does to this Paige. After his conventional ghost stories fail to scare her, he tells her one that ends with "...and when she opened the closet, all the clothes were polyester!". In the opening panel of another strip, he asks Peter if he wants to hear the one about the headless lumberjack or the time he saw Paige in her underwear; when Peter says "whichever is scarier", he starts the second one.
- Muscle Angst: Peter sometimes stresses about not being able to gain any muscle due to his superhumanly high metabolism. One Sunday strip had him and his friend Steve cramming a huge work out session into one day to prepare for going to the pool the next day. Unfortunately, the next day they're barely able to move due to being so sore.
- Mushroom Samba: One story arc has Andy taking decongestants, and the side effects are comparable to those of hallucinogenic drugs. One of the kids offscreen asks Andy if she could take out the Pink Floyd out of the music player, and Andy wonders who wrote squiggly lines on her hand.
- Must Have Caffeine:
- Roger seems incapable of getting through a day without coffee, considering the man attempted to drink the answering machine one morning, and on another occasion started sipping from an empty mug and didn't even realize it until Andy pointed it out (and then put the unopened instant coffee canister in his mug and attempted to sip from that).
- The kids enjoy taking advantage of this as well, which manifested in one story arc in which Andy purposely neglected to buy coffee at the grocery, forcing Roger to go cold turkey.Peter: I think what you're doing to Dad is criminal.
Andy: Asking him to go one day without coffee?
Peter: Asking him to go one day without coffee in this house.
Andy: Why would he be better off someplace else?
Roger: [eating breakfast] Son, you're [crunch] sure this is [crunch] cereal I'm eating?
Jason: [holding a box of uncooked elbow macaroni and a jug of vinegar] Absolutely. More milk?
- The kids enjoy taking advantage of this as well, which manifested in one story arc in which Andy purposely neglected to buy coffee at the grocery, forcing Roger to go cold turkey.
- Peter consumes ludicrous amounts of caffeine when studying, and despite Andy chewing her husband and eldest son out for their caffeine consumption, she occasionally suffers from the same problem.
- One strip has Roger and Andy waking up and trying to give each other a good morning kiss, except they're so groggy that they kiss everything except each others' lips ("You're kissing my chin." "You're kissing my pillow.") At the point where Roger is planting one on Andy's elbow, she suggests they keep a pot of coffee in the bedroom.
- Peter seems to get this from his father, although it usually only kicks in during cram sessions. One strip taking place during midterm season has Peter reading off the entire menu of a coffeehouse as his order. Another one has him drinking Starbucks on the way home, and after his mom protests, he says that he's drinking lesser amounts to wean himself off the large amounts he took during test season to prevent a crash. When she asks if that means he's drinking half-caff, he reveals that it's actually a quintuple expresso.
- In one story arc, Paige, who needs to pull an all-nighter to finish reading a book for English class, asks Peter whether coffee or tea has more caffeine, and Peter suggests she combine both into one concoction. She overdoes it by drinking a dozen cups of the stuff - even Peter, the caffeine king, is shocked when he finds out how much Paige drank - and is so jittery as a result that she's unable to keep still in order to read, or to sleep once she gives up on reading because of her jitters.
- Roger seems incapable of getting through a day without coffee, considering the man attempted to drink the answering machine one morning, and on another occasion started sipping from an empty mug and didn't even realize it until Andy pointed it out (and then put the unopened instant coffee canister in his mug and attempted to sip from that).
- Must Make Amends: After Jason falls off the roof while trying to get the football, Peter offers to stay with him at the hospital as a means of atoning for causing this. Andy, who isn't about to let him off the hook that easily, says it can be "an aspect of (Peter's) punishment."
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: In one week of strips, Peter is not happy when Paige says that Peter's best friend Steve is cute.
- When Peter learns that Paige's prom date is an upperclassman named Chris who has a reputation for trying to put the moves on girls, he warns Chris, "Those lips belong to my little sister." Not that it dissuades Chris from trying to seduce Paige anyway.
- Mystery Meat: Any strip set in the school cafeteria. And if you're a vegetarian, there's also "Meatless Mystery."
- Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
- In the series of strips where Peter serves as assistant coach to the football team, he makes the brilliant decision to tell a player named "Rhinoski" that his athletic cup is too big.
- In another strip, where he's the water boy, he makes another dumb move, trying to order around another huge, hulking football player - who we can see this time, who's about twice his size - named "Ogreski". The last panel shows the coach asking the referee for a time out due to a medical emergency.
- In yet another, Peter comes home from a baseball game beat up and dirty because he tried to help himself to another player's sunflower seeds: "I swear, 'Raging Bull' Truckowski has got to learn to share!"
- NameTron: As mentioned above, invoked by Jason in his comic strip.
- National Geographic Nudity: Referenced in a Sunday strip where Roger assumes Jason to be reading old National Geographics for this, when he's really after the Apollo 11 issue.
- Nerds Speak Klingon: Jason, naturally. At a showing of a Star Trek movie he cosplays as a Klingon and demands fresh gagh from the beleaguered movie worker. Another strip has him ask Peter to check whether he's memorized the Klingon-English dictionary.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed:
- Paige enjoys a band called The Backsync Boys. Like the Brand X example, also averted about half the time.
- This may be meant as a Take That! against such bands in general. There was this exchange between Andy and Jason in a strip shortly after a Christmas arc.Andy: Jason, I asked you to take out the trash. Paige's new Backsync Boys CD is not trash! [pauses, looks at the CD] ...Of the kind I meant.
Jason: If I may quote a recent review...
- A strip featured spoofs on a number of popular webcomics, with Jason's comment that all his work "felt kinda derivative."
- No Indoor Voice: Paige. As Peter put it, she just likes to yell.
- Noodle Incident: One is created in this strip:
- No Sympathy: It's very uncommon for any member for the family to genuinely sympathize with or take another member's side after hearing about the other person's problems. The exception was when Peter was feeling down after breaking up with Denise, and Andy not only comforted him but talked him through the decision, helping Peter apologize to Denise and win her back.
- Not Allowed to Grow Up:
- The kids are always attending the same school in the same grades every year. Lampshaded in a strip shortly after 9/11 when Roger goes to donate blood and Jason asks if he's suddenly stumbled into For Better or for Worse; Andy reassures him that he can stay ten years old.
- There is precisely one character in the strip who has aged. Katie O'Dell, the little girl Paige babysits, was six months old in her first appearance, but later aged up to two years and froze there.
- Lampshaded in the 25th anniversary comic◊, where Peter finds a box of old photographs showing how the characters looked in the beginning of the strip's run.Jason: Wow. When were these taken?
Peter: The box says 25 years ago, which is weird because I'm only 16.
Jason: You know, for a cartoonist who used to be semi-decent at math...
- Not Helping Your Case:
- In one story arc, Paige accidentally reveals that she's been regularly seeing R-rated movies despite being underage. While her mother frets in horror at how much sex and nudity her daughter has been exposed to, Paige quickly adds "Some were just the violent kind, though."
- When Andy tells Jason he's not allowed to watch Game of Thrones because his eyes aren't ready for all the graphic violence and adult content, he responds by listing things he's seen on the internet since breakfast. Cue Andy taking away Jason's computer until he's 50.
- Not Listening to Me, Are You?: One strip had Peter make all sorts of strange statements, which Roger basically ignores giving the "yeah", "uh-huh", and "that's nice" responses because he's reading the paper... right up until he says he's staying an hour past curfew, and he promptly shoots down his request. Peter comments that one day he's going to get past his dad's filter. Meanwhile, Paige is telling Roger her intent to change her name to a semicolon, with the same initial responses.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Roger does this with Andy occasionally and gets away with it. When she gives him a chore to do (such as: load and run a dishwasher) that he really doesn't want to do, he messes it up as badly as possible so she will never ask him to do it again. He also acts dumb and clueless when Andy drags him to a workout session so she will be too embarrassed to take him back.
- Jason as well, in a strip in which he declares he's going to burn Paige's Backsync Boys compact discs as a purposeful middle-finger to the record industry's anti-piracy measures - and then proceeds to literally burn them by grilling them on the barbecue.Jason: Let me play dumb just this once.
- Jason as well, in a strip in which he declares he's going to burn Paige's Backsync Boys compact discs as a purposeful middle-finger to the record industry's anti-piracy measures - and then proceeds to literally burn them by grilling them on the barbecue.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Inverted: Andy herself dreads her mother's visits because the whole family absolutely adores her mother, and Andy feels pushed to the sides.
- Old Faithful: Mosquito Falls has a geyser that erupts every day, right on time...at 2 in the morning.
- Old Shame: An in-universe example would be Roger hiding his college diploma in the attic, because his name was spelled Orger Fox on it.
- One-Book Author: Bill Amend has done no other professional cartooning to date.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In one strip Andy asked Roger what he thought of her new haircut. Roger thought she was asking about the new brand of beer he was drinking and replied that it didn't have much body and he hoped she hadn't paid a lot of money for it. He then wondered why she ran off crying.
- One-Two Punchline: Very common.
- Only in It for the Money: When Paige tells Jason that the amount she'll pay him for his math tutoring will depend on the grade she gets on the test ($10 for an A, $5 for a B, etc.), Jason puts aside his usual Flaw Exploitation of Paige's incompetence at math and takes extra care to make sure she's prepared for the test. The prospect of money literally makes Jason more nervous about the test than Paige is. When Paige ends up getting a 91% on the exam, Jason is overjoyed - not out of pride that Paige was able to do well, but that she now owes him $10.
- Only Six Faces: The characters' faces are almost all alike, with only hair styles and accessories to differentiate. Andy's hair style even changed early on to make her look less like Paige.
- Opaque Nerd Glasses:
- Present on both Jason and Morton and most of the other one time or recurring characters who wear them.
- Weirdly enough, Paige's Biology teacher, Dr. Ting, has drawn eyes that can always be seen through the glasses lenses.
- Out-of-Character Moment:
- The 1990 story where Jason tries to fix Paige's sweater after Quincy chews on it. Usually, he tells Quincy "good boy" when he does that.
- Paige has had a few of those in regard to Morton Goldthwait. In one arc, Paige actually attends a Halloween party held by Morton, because she doesn't want to be rude. In an earlier arc, Paige actually defended Morton when Peter called him a "drip", even going so far as to kick Peter in the shin for his rude comment. To be fair, this was after Morton gave Paige a heartfelt "thank you" for just letting him sit by her at lunch, since most girls won't even let him near, and Paige was visibly moved. And in a third, Paige is actually upset when Morton asks someone other than her to the Christmas dance, although this turns out to not be such an out-of-character moment as the reason Paige was upset was that her ego was bruised.
- Also, in another arc (conveniently one of the last daily strip arcs), Jason was apparently falling behind his studies because of his playing video games. The fact that he even has to take finals is itself out of character as Jason is actually more likely to not have any finals (usually taking them way back in September). Never mind the fact that he's usually portrayed as being so smart that he doesn't need to study.
- Jason downloading a swimsuit calendar and happily noting how big Miss October's "hooters" are. Normally, Jason's attitude is that Girls Have Cooties regardless of whether said girls are his peers, teenagers, or adults. A similar Out-of-Character Moment also had Jason attempting to make a snowman modelled after Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, despite his earlier fear of her for being a girl.
- Overcomplicated Menu Order: Peter Fox, while making a real complex order at a coffee shop (which ultimately translates back to 'a cup of coffee' once the jargon is stripped away), is charged $4.97, to which Peter pays $5.00 and tells him to keep the change. He also admits to Jason that he was being deliberately annoying, which was why he tipped him. Cue the three pennies flying towards his head.
- Overly Long Gag:
- One Sunday Strip had Jason pacing for NINETY-SIX PANELS.
- A strip has Jason and Marcus establishing the ground rules for their snowball fight, which lasts so long all the snow melts by the time they're finished.
- Pac-Man Fever: Averted. Even in the early days, any references to gaming were completely accurate. It should come as no surprise that Amend is a nerd.
- Padding the Paper: In one strip, Peter's three-page book report on The Great Gatsby consists entirely of "The Great Gatsby is about a guy named Gatsby" written in enormous font.
- Painting the Medium: Done so much it's a Running Gag.
- Paranoia Gambit: Being the target of a "Jason Vow of Vengeance" causes Peter to completely freak out and spend the day subjecting himself to ever-nastier hiding places (winding up grounded in the process). That is Jason's vengeance.
- Parental Hypocrisy:
- Andy is a serious offender. Some of the biggest examples:
- In an early strip, she angrily scolded Paige and Jason for not even trying to keep their New Years resolutions to be nicer to each other, not even realizing she was eating potato chips - breaking her own resolution - as she yelled at them.
- She has a terrible addiction to candy and regularly eats all of it during Halloween and Easter. And she wonders why her kids say bad things about her tofu and eggplant casserole.
- She regularly condemns her children playing violent videogames, but spent an entire early arc being addicted to one of Jason's games.
- In another series of strips, she installed a new system for the TV that would regulate how much the kids watched and prevent them from watching shows with controversial content. She got rid of it when it wouldn't let her tape her soaps. (As Jason tells Peter, "You wouldn't believe how fast she ripped out the wires.")
- Parodies for Dummies: Roger tries to buy an actual For Dummies book, but can't bring himself to pronounce the name and admit himself a "dummy", instead asking for a book for "college-educated professionals who majored in the humanities before computers existed."
- Parody Product Placement:
- Pathetically Weak: Both Jason and Peter suffer from this trope, though it's more obvious with Peter who tries to work out and has delusions of being able to play sports with any degree of competence. Jason is 10 and can barely throw a baseball more than a few feet, while Peter is 16 and can't even gain weight no matter how much he eats.
- Patriotic Fervor: In a parody of the "freedom fries" debacle, Paige insists on her French homework being called "Freedom homework."
- Pet the Dog: In one strip where Paige has a zit on her nose around the holidays, and Andy's concealer can't conceal it without giving her what seems to be a long nose, Jason gives her reindeer antlers. Then the sensible advice follows: if she shows she's willing to laugh at herself, then the other kids are less likely to make fun of her or call her "Rudolph". (It's a shame that it backfires; the other kids call Paige a weirdo for wearing antlers, though she says at least that she's been through worse and appreciates that Jason tried.)
- Picture Day: A frequent source of humor. One of the best has Peter ending up with his face covered in mud while retrieving his trademark baseball cap, so that he can have it on for his picture.
- Pie in the Face: Paige threatens to do this to Peter for insulting her pies.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: References to Andy's job as a newspaper columnist were gradually dropped over time. Several mid-1990s strips reference her work without actually showing her working. Possibly lampshaded when she spends an entire arc after the kids go back to school in September unable to motivate herself to write, only to spring into action once Roger asks if she wants to play chess.
- Plane Awful Flight: One arc had Roger going on an agonizing plane trip. First, he has to get up before the crack of dawn to go to the airport, then he finds he's missed his flight and the only other way to get to his destination includes half a dozen flight changes and will take until next week. He's the last one allowed to board the flight, for calling a male flight attendant a stewardess. His seat is at an acute angle, and when he asks a flight attendant for help with it, she reveals that was the reclined position, and the normal position is even worse. The in-flight movie is Alive, a film about the survivors of a plane crash who were driven to cannibalism. The flight attendants sell earplugs and blindfolds at extremely inflated prices.
- Playing Pictionary: In one strip, Roger and Andy are playing Pictionary. He keeps shouting out obviously incorrect answers as the drawing progresses (including "It's a snowstorm!" before she's even drawn anything), culminating in "It's a Christmas tree in a cereal bowl next to a snake!" and "What's with these 'B', 'O', 'A', and 'T' symbols? Are they Pictionary shorthand?"
- Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: A variation with salt in milk, between Jason and Peter with multiple switches and some alleged fake switches, culminating in the line "We're trying to figure out which of us should be throwing up right now." Turned out Paige had somehow gotten the salt.
- Polar Bears and Penguins: Averted in a December 2004 Story Arc where Roger dreams that he's the lead character in The Polar Express:Conductor: Well, here we are! The North Pole!
Roger: Are those penguins over there?
Conductor: Yeah. Why?
Roger: Don't penguins live at the South Pole?
Conductor: Stupid Mapquest.
Roger: So should we turn around or keep going?
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: In one strip, Jason is musing about winter and makes references to The Empire Strikes Back, The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day; none of which mean anything to his father. Roger then remarks on how one particular cloud looks like Trigger.
- Potty Emergency:
- Two similar strips dealt with this. The first one was an early strip where Roger drank a whole pot of coffee before work, saying his boss was holding one of his notoriously boring meetings and that there was "nothing more embarrassing than falling asleep during Pembrose's endless sermons". In the last panel, he's at the meeting, excusing himself for his third bathroom break in the past hour, and clearly looks very embarrassed.
- The second time was when Peter drank an entire pot of coffee, claiming he had a killer math test, and though a whole pot would get his brain functioning like a "super-fast calculation machine". In the last panel, he's in class, sweating heavily, thinking to himself, "If the boy's bathroom is a hundred feet away and I run at a rate of ten feet per second..."
- Power Fantasy: Peter gets these whenever he is left in charge of his younger siblings, including fantasies of being an all-powerful god.
- The Power of Hate: Peter Fox becomes assistant coach of the football team, and is such a nuisance overlapping with The Neidermeyer that the coach puts him near the opposing team's goal. Allowing them to vent on the field has won them three games.
- Prank Date: Peter's aforementioned Love Letter Lunacy.
- Precedent Excuse:
- In one time, Andy grounds Peter for a week after finding out that he saw the R-rated Kill Bill Volume 2. Peter protests that she didn't get upset when he saw the first Kill Bill movie. Andy responds that she hadn't known that he saw the first movie and that he is now grounded for two weeks.
- Another example: Andy is going through the bills, horrified by the heating bill, the telephone bill, the cable bill... Then Paige walks in a bikini, telling her that she's got her friends on a conference call if they can go to some TV-sponsored event. The next panel has Peter, Paige, and Jason in heavy winter clothes watching the rabbit ear antenna'd TV, with Jason holding up a telegraph telling Paige she has a message as Peter angrily demands to know what Paige told their mom.
- Precision F-Strike:
- In an early strip, Paige and Nicole attend a Wild Teen Party with the former remarking that it "sucks".
- Peter, when Jason vows vengeance on him for breaking a model. Peter's response? "Crap." Counts, as it's one of the few times that sort of response is used.
- Played with another time, where Andy chastised Jason for using the word "crap." After he said "but it's a dice game," Andy told him "that's craps." His response fell into Loophole Abuse territory: "Craps. The stupid Simpsons is a rerun."
- In one arc, Peter hosts a Halloween party in his house. Some upper classmen are upset that there's no beer, and one of them says, "This party sucks!"
- Predatory Business: Referenced:Andy: I wish that Coffeebucks hadn't opened up down the street.
Roger: Why? You think it'll hurt the Mom & Pop coffee shops?
Andy: Because it's on the route Peter takes to come home.
Roger: I wondered why his teeth were chattering all the way through dinner.
- Present Peeking:
- Jason Fox once started ripping into his presents on Christmas Eve, explaining that as it was technically Christmas Day for American troops stationed in Afghanistan, he was opening them at the same time they were. Roger retaliates by calling to have his son shipped off to Afghanistan.
- Played more seriously in another story, in which Jason opens all his presents in the wee hours of the morning... and then has no presents to left to open when the rest of the family gets up to do the same, resulting in him feeling left out. Andy then gives him a sweater that was meant for Roger.
- Product-Promotion Parade:
- Spoofed when Jason drew storyboards for a proposed Slug-Man cartoon where every panel was an advertisement for a Slug-Man vehicle, toy, or play set.
- Another strip has Jason playing with his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys in front of Andy, having them complain about how they have nothing to do, and they would have lots to do if they had the various accessories.
- Properly Paranoid: One Sunday strip has Paige and Jason taking an Autumn walk when a leaf flies right into Paige's eye. She angrily accuses Jason of planning the whole thing out; when he calls her out on "extreme paranoia", he spreads his hands, revealing calculations written on his palms, proving her right.
- Psychic Dreams for Everyone: Played for Laughs. Several story arcs have one member of the Fox family dreaming with all the others somehow being pulled into the dream as well and cast as "actors". One series had Peter trying to read The Odyssey via Sleep Learning. Jason says "Just keep me out of your dreams tonight", but the last panel shows him as one of "Petysseus"'s men, angrily saying "I said...!" Later on, Jason's geekiness turns the Island of the Cyclopses into an X-Men Crossover and Peter says "I thought this was supposed to be my dream" while rolling his eyes.
- It isn't even limited to the human members of the family either. One Sunday strip shows Jason and Paige in a dream where the latter has been "cast" as Daenerys Targaryen but can't figure out whose dream it's supposed to be; the punchline reveals that it's Quincy who's dreaming (about being a dragon, naturally).
- Put Off Their Food:
- A strip where Jason ties the ends of his spaghetti noodles together so he can eat them all in one long, unending slurp (and worse, discovering that he can pull it back out) ends with Andy adding spaghetti to the list of things she can no longer make for dinner.
- Another time, Paige had just dissected a frog in Bio class and she thought it was really cool. She tells her family about the intestines and they stare in horror at the spaghetti they're eating.
- In yet another strip, Paige and Jason are eating Jell-O and Jason describes how he likes to pretend it's gelatinized brain juice, asking "Wanna know what I pretend the banana slices are?" In the last panel, Peter enters the room and asks Jason why he always ends up with two bowls of the stuff.
- Put on a Bus: Happened to Jason's first teacher Miss Grinchley who retired three years into the strip.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Jason often purposely fools his siblings into "winning" bets that are this:
- In one Horrible Camping Trip, Jason bets Peter a dollar he can't hit a tree with a hatchet. Peter takes that bet, and hits it perfectly. When Andy is angrily chewing him out for doing something so dangerous, Jason considers the show a dollar well-spent.
- On one Thanksgiving, he bets Peter a dollar he can eat more than him. He eats two helpings and calls it quits; Peter eats 27 platefuls before even checking the score, eventually passing out without closing his eyes. Again, where else could Jason have gotten so much fun for a dollar?
- Paige has been a victim of this as well: after she yelled at Jason to leave her alone, Jason claimed he wasn't Jason but a holographic projection of himself that Paige could pass her hand right through. When Paige tried to do just that, she ended up slapping him in the face, and Andy informed her that she was now grounded for hitting her brother.
- It happens to Jason himself when he bets Marcus fifty cents that he can write a longer essay. His thousand page essay easily trumps Marcus' 500-page one, but while Marcus gets an A on the essay, Jason, for all his work, gets a D, and fifty cents. (And he doesn't learn a thing afterwards.)
- Quote Mine:
- One strip had Jason recording Paige talking on the phone: "Mr. Vivona says we have to cut three articles from a newspaper for social studies class every day this week, and the only pair of scissors I have are totally dull." He then gets on the computer and edits it so she's saying "I cut social studies class every day this week. Mr. Vivona is totally dull."
- In another strip, Andy asks Paige what she had for lunch, and Paige replies, "A sandwich, an orange and some milk." Andy is relieved, since Paige usually eats junk.Peter: An ice-cream sandwich, an orange soda, and some Milk Duds.
Paige: So I abbreviated a little.
- Rain Dance: Jason and Marcus do a snow dance. Paige joins them in the hope that school might be canceled if it works.
- Rank Inflation: Jason's report card usually consists of A+++ grades or higher. Jason's specialty is math and science. He just happens to be an expert in all his other subjects as well? That goes against the strips with him in P.E. class...
- Reality Is Unrealistic:
- In-universe: Jason finds the taste of real watermelon strange because it doesn't taste like his watermelon gum.
- Also in-universe, when Paige gets to play tennis in P.E.Classmate: That's one funky-looking racket.
Paige: It's my mom's.
Classmate: I've never seen one like this. What's it made out of?
Paige: Wood, I think.
Classmate: Whoa. When did they start making tennis rackets out of wood?
Paige: She also had these newfangled steel ball cans.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: A 1991 storyline sees Jason and Paige throw away a loose hypodermic needle they find on the beach. When they tell Andy, she freaks out. This was at the height of the AIDS pandemic, and celebrities such as Rock Hudson and Liberace had already died from the disease.
- Real Money Trade: In one arc, Jason decided to spend his summer vacation being a gold farmer on World of Warcraft. It turned out not to be as easy as he thought.
- Reasonable Authority Figure:
- A cop at the mall where Paige and Nicole are shopping is revealed to be this. He tells the girls he saw them slip a CD into their purse without paying, but because they put it back, he's letting them off with a warning. Also if they hadn't made that decision, their conversation wouldn't be as pleasant.
- While on a family trip to DC, a Secret Service agent patiently answers all of Jason's questions, including that he will sic a bunch of fellow agents on a man if he steps closer to the fence. Jason shouts, "Step closer to the fence, Dad!" as the agent warns Roger to not listen to his son.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Averted. Roger plans on giving one to Pembrook calling him out on how he's taking a raise instead of a pay cut while people lose their jobs, but he never does anything beyond rehearsing it.
- Recorded Spliced Conversation: Jason does this to Paige to get her in trouble. Paige is talking the phone and says "Mr Vivona wants us to cut five articles from the newspaper every day this week for social studies, and the only scissors I have are, like, totally dull". Jason records this, then splices it together so Paige says "I cut social studies every day this week. Mr Vivona is totally dull."
- Recruiters Always Lie: Averted. Peter tells how a Marine recruiter addressed his class and told them all about the early morning starts, the gruelling physical training, etc. Paige asks how that was supposed to entice people to enlist. Peter responds that the recruiter had then held up a college algebra text for comparison.
- Red Live Lobster: In one strip, Jason plans on sneaking up on Peter while he's swimming to scare him, by dressing as a red lobster. The plan takes an unexpected twist, as Jason gets pinched by an actual lobster off-screen.
- Red Shirt: Parodied in one strip:Jason: I decorated my gingerbread men in little Star Trek uniforms.
Paige: Good lord, could you be a bigger geek? [Jason eats a cookie] Why are they all wearing red shirts?
- Reel Torture: The kids sometimes play "television roulette," where one person rapidly clicks the remote until told to stop, and whatever program it lands on the viewer is forced to watch it all the way to the end. Landing on an infomercial or a John Tesh concert is treated as an especially grueling torture.
- Retconning the Wiki: In a great show of self-fulfilling prophecy, the comic strip mentions Jason vandalizing the Wikipedia article for "Warthog" by replacing the image with a picture of his sister Paige. This prompted some FoxTrot readers to go onto Wikipedia and replace the image with a picture of Paige.
- Revenge: For the entire run of the strip, Jason's favorite weapon while antagonizing Paige has been a suction-dart gun. In a 2012 strip, however, Paige got even and then some. When he tried it, she quickly pulled out a bow with suction-tipped arrows, and he ran screaming. In the last panel, Jason told Peter, "I don't like the effect The Hunger Games has had on our sister."
- Revenge via Storytelling: One arc has Paige write herself as a Princess Classic encountering a tiny troll that looks like her brother Jason, which she leaves to get eaten by boars. Jason's complaint isn't that she cast him as the villain but that the work sucks overall.
- Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: Although it was always a gag-a-day strip, FoxTrot was more realistic in the earlier years and had the occasional Very Special Episode-type plot and overreaching story arcs that sometimes lasted as long as two months, counting the Sunday strips. More serious subjects were often present, such as Paige and Jason finding a hypodermic needle on the beach, Peter trying to quit chewing tobacco, et cetera. In the late '90s, the humor style became more off-the-wall and any trace of seriousness disappeared, with occasional exceptions such as the strips which followed 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina.
- Reverse Psychology Backfire:
- Used often. For instance, in one strip, Jason begs Andy not to buy a new computer and she doesn't. In another, he begs Andy to ground him for a week instead of some "torturous" punishment like eating Ding Dongs; not only does it fail, he ends up grounded for two weeks. In another, Andy "supports" Roger's decision to quit his job, and he goes with it instead of seeing the reverse psychology.
- In the first example, he sullenly says, "Reverse psychology must have been invented by a parent."
- Rhetorical Question Blunder: Andy asks Roger if he's going to quit his job out of his guilt over not being there when Jason was injured. Roger says "Now there's a thought." For extra points, he actually does it.
- Ridiculous Exchange Rates: Jason adds up all his pocket money and announces that he's a millionaire in Turkish lira.
- Ridiculous Procrastinator:
- Peter and Paige often become this before exam time or when homework is due.
- Their parents aren't any better. Roger wrote his entire senior thesis in one night, and Andy put off sending Christmas cards so long that when she finally got around to it the family photo showed Jason in diapers.
- Right on Queue: A Sunday strip had the majority of the strip devoted to a ridiculously long airline check-in queue, with the final panel having Andy remark that she thinks she has forgotten the tickets.
- Ring Ring CRUNCH: Peter does it in a Sunday strip when the alarm clock interrupts a dream about making out with swimsuit models.
- Rise of Zitboy: Paige panics over zits often enough. There was once a week long story of her trying to cover one up by wearing antlers to match her "red nose".
- Road Sign Reversal: Jason and Marcus strike out into the wilds of suburbia in search of adventure (wearing pith helmets, no less). Along their way they encounter the streets of "Maple" and "Oak;" Maple Street is lined with oak trees and Oak Street is lined with maples. Helpfully, they decide to switch the street signs around to correct the error, but wind up attracting the attention of the police in the process.
- Rocketless Reentry: Jason suggests this as a new Olympic sport, with the diver putting on a spacesuit and jumping off the diving board located at the very edge of Earth's atmosphere, burning up entirely on reentry.
- Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies:
- A couple. From an early strip:Peter: As your elf touches the gold doorknob, 45,000 volts shoot through his body. Your elf is now charcoal. What does your wizard do?
Jason: He calls the Dungeon Master a jerk.
- The first and only time that Jason talked Paige into playing Dungeons & Dragons, he literally invoked this trope about 5 seconds into the adventure:Jason: You are standing at the entrance to a cave. A sign reads, "Welcome to Jason Caverns." What do you do?
Paige: We enter the cave.
Jason: Suddenly there's an earthquake and the ceiling collapses! Your entire party is killed! Ha ha ha ha ha!
Paige: [examining a miniature] Where's a real sword when you need one?
- A couple. From an early strip:
- Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue...: Jason writes a lot of poems of this sort. None are complimentary.
- Rube Goldberg Device: Jason has frequently designed them: one to illuminate a halo over his head to convince Santa Claus that Jason was behaving; and another to light the grill.
- Rule #1: This strip spoofing the Fight Club meme by having rule #1 as "Do not talk about Font Club" and rule #2 as "Do not use Comic Sans".
- Rule of Funny:
- Pretty much what this strip has run on ever since it abandoned the Very Special Episode plot lines. That point of abandonment is also when the Lampshade Hanging and Medium Awareness got turned Up to Eleven.
- This is obviously impossible to do, but still hilarious.
- Characters will exchange traits for the sake of a joke; for example, one strip had Peter complaining about how strong Roger makes his coffeenote , but another strip published a few months later had Roger complaining about the strength of Peter's coffeenote .
- Run for the Border:
- Some of the strips, most notably the one where Jason learned that copyrighting the I-Don't-Like-You-Eileen-Jacobson Computer Virus, had this when he asked how long it would take to skateboard to Mexico.
- Also a rare domestic example in the Roger housesitting arc where, after flooding the house (namely due to incompetence on Roger's part involving the dishwasher), and turning it into a swamp as a result of trying to drain the water, he mentions that they need to flee the border before Andy gets home.
- Paige's reaction to a cosplaying Jason giving her a "shout-out" on live TV news at the local premiere of Batman (1989): "I'm moving to Mexico."
- Running Gag:
- Roger applying several bottles of lighter fluid to the barbecue, then the fire blowing it into his face (it originally was Peter who started this gag).
- Another gag involves Jason wearing a large overcoat and putting Quincy on his head to impersonate someone.
- Several Christmas Story Arcs had a pastiche of some famous Christmas work, usually by way of a dream, as mentioned above. Similar dream pastiches have occurred at other times, as well.
- Rushed Inverted Reading:
- Peter and Steve are discussing a fight Peter had gotten into when the principal appears behind them. Peter hurriedly pretends to be talking about an algebra problem but is holding his textbook upside down.
- Peter also did this with a hymn book at church after Jason showed up in Devil makeup (yesterday was Halloween; he couldn't wash it off in time).
- Sabotage to Discredit: In the arc where Jason and his friends go to Science Camp, he and Marcus attempt to sabotage Eileen and Phoebe's invention, but accidentally destroy their own, forcing them to vote for the girls' team just to prevent Eugene from winning.
- Sadist Teacher: Paige's biology teacher, Dr. Ting straddles the line between Stern Teacher and this:
- Ting assigns 46 chapters' worth of reading. During a time when everyone in town is suffering the effects of a flash flood. And after the power goes out, Paige has to read her chapters by the light of birthday candles and Jason's glow-in-the-dark toys. And then it turns out that Dr. Ting lost the test files on the computer, because his power also went out.
- He once showed disappointment that Paige's lab reports were improving, claiming they were a source of entertainment for him.
- In yet another strip, Ting gives Paige a bad grade on a report where she jokingly claimed cellular division included "smileyphase."Paige: Man, if there was ever a teacher who needed some comic relief...
Nicole: How cute! He made a little frowny face out of your grade!
- Even worse is Paige's unseen math teacher, who seems to enjoy trying to psych out his students. He once dressed up as the Grim Reaper for a math final, and he makes a math test where the students are being asked to calculate how many percentages of a student body will flunk a given math test.
- Satchel Switcheroo: Jason mixes up his maths text book with Eileen. As a result, Eileen ends up finding an incredibly sappy love poem Jason had intended for his mother, and thinks it is for her.
- Saw "Star Wars" 27 Times:
- In one story arc, Andy sees Titanic (1997) and gets addicted to it, seeing it again way too many times and practically lets it take over her life. Roger gets concerned once she says that she went all the way to the multiplex just to watch it twice in a row.
- Another strip actually did it with Star Wars. Peter is working at a movie theater when The Phantom Menace comes out. A patron in a costume asks him for tickets. Peter asks him which showing, and names off the times, and the patron asks for one for each showing.
- Another strip has Jason camping out (on his computer server) to get tickets to see Attack of the Clones.Jason: You're looking at a boy with eight tickets to Star Wars!
Peter: Congratulations. Who's going with you?
Jason: My friend, Marcus.
Peter: Who else?
Jason: Who else?
Peter: [rolling his eyes] Start over.
Jason: You're looking at a boy with two tickets to four consecutive showings of Star Wars!
- Yet another strip had Jason and Marcus planning to spend the day watching the entire Original Trilogy back to back. When Peter points out that will take at least six hours, Jason and Marcus clarify that they meant they are going to watch the entire trilogy three times in a row. So it will take at least eighteen hours.
- Another strip had them see Apollo 13 so many times that the employee at the ticket booth knew every question they were going to ask. Their dialogue mentions the popcorn tastes different from that morning's.
- Saw It in a Movie Once: After Jason and Paige spill cola onto Andy's keyboard, Paige urges Jason to fix it. Oddly, despite being the nerd that he is, his only expertise in the matter consists of a MacGyver episode in which MacGyver hooked a computer up to a bicycle. Or maybe it was a minivan.
- Scare 'Em Straight: Something of an after-the-fact reinforcement. Paige and Nicole debate about stealing a music CD, and even put it in Paige's purse. They reconsider and put it back. Upon leaving the store, a mall cop stops them and tells them that he saw them put it back, and was really glad. Especially since he also saw them put it in the purse. The two girls nearly have heart attacks at how close they came to being arrested.
- Scary Flashlight Face: Jason managed to get himself and Peter lost on a camping trip by doing this ("playing 'Mister Specter Face'", as Peter calls it) until the battery ran out.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: At one point, Jason meets someone on Warquest named "Sgt. Neelie." It's Eileen Jacobson.
- Seasonal Rot: In-Universe with Roger's favorite strip, Captain Goofball, in one arc about how Roger's upset to hear that Andy wants it cancelled. When Andy shows Roger the latest strip, Roger says that Captain Goofball just had a bad day, prompting Andy to bring out many old comics pages to show him that it's been declining in quality for a while. Roger's forced to admit that Captain Goofball has gotten stupid over the years, but weakly protests that it was hilarious when he was a kid, prompting Andy to coldly say that today's kids deserve to laugh their heads off.
- See-Thru Specs: Played with in one strip where Jason orders X-ray glasses from a comic book and uses them in front of Peter to say that he can see Paige's leopard print underwear. She protests loudly to refute this point which causes Andy to think Paige has something to hide.Peter: Those things don't really work, do they?
Jason: I think they work extremely well.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: In one strip, Peter and Steve complain about how impossible their math test was, then congratulate themselves for not wasting much time studying for it.
- Separate Scene Storytelling: Just about every time someone tries to make a story, we see it this way.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: One comic had Jason going through the dictionary and thesaurus just so he could tell Paige "your corpulence is downright Brobdingnagian" without repercussions.
- Sheathe Your Sword: One story arc has Paige get past an extremely difficult boss in a video game that Jason had been trying to beat for a month simply by walking past him.
- Schmuck Bait:
- In one strip, Jason and Marcus found Paige's diary. When they turned to the last page, this was the entry:Diary: Dear Diary, Today I'm leaving this diary where Jason and Marcus can find it so I can punch their lights out when I catch them reading it. [cue an Oh, Crap! from both of them as Paige appears behind them]
- Another example was this strip that came much later. Most longtime fans of the strip probably saw the punch line coming a mile away.
- In one strip, Jason and Marcus found Paige's diary. When they turned to the last page, this was the entry:
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Jason's reaction after the Love Letter Lunacy arc mentioned above. Of course, by the end of the story arc, the Will They or Won't They? has started resulting in this being a recurring theme.
- Shoddy Knockoff: The aforementioned "Tamagrouchy" arc, where said toy belittles Paige. Until Jason reprograms it to demand that she pay him money.
- Shout-Out: Lots. See the ShoutOut.Fox Trot page.
- Shown Their Work:
- Any gag revolving around physical equations is bound to include a real equation, as Amend was a physics major. Gags about computer programming often involve accurate programming code, such as a gag where Roger asks for "java" and is given sheets with Java code on them.
- A beautiful example was the time Jason correctly calculated the area of a rectangle by evaluating an integral.
- Jason tried to use accurate C++ code to get out of Writing Lines on the chalkboard at least twice; once by making the program to print the lines out and tape them up, and again by writing the code directly on the board. Neither attempt worked.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Peter and Paige are rather average teenagers, while their little brother Jason is a nerdy Child Prodigy.
- Silly Prayer: One week long arc has Jason having a nightmare where he is tormented by Lara Croft coming on to him (Jason is still at the Girls Have Cooties stage). The last strip of the arc has him explaining this to his 16 year-old brother Peter: telling him how she kept tackling him, pinning him to ground, kissing, and generally acting she wanted him to be her boyfriend. Peter, meanwhile, is looking like he is about have a stroke and/or strangle his brother:Jason: It was total nightmare.Peter: Jason, are you aware of that special, extra prayer I say every night?
- Singing in the Shower:
- One strip had Roger singing "Burning Love" in the shower, and an annoyed Andy meaningfully tells one of the kids about the valve marked "cold water shutoff."
- Something similar happened in another strip, this time with Roger singing "Love Machine." Jason ends up exacting revenge by pulling up the answering machine all the way up the stairs (which was also partially Roger's fault, as Jason pointed out that Roger was the one who decided to buy the model that had a cord long enough to reach the shower) while recording the new voice messaging system, and then having Roger unknowingly sing the song while showering, with it going on without Roger noticing for at least two weeks, if not more.
- Another strip has Peter singing "Heartbreak Hotel", with the rest of the family gathering outside the door to complain:Roger: You mean "Earache Hotel".
Andy: I'd say "Headache Hotel".
Paige: "Shampoo-Bottle-Stuffed-Down-His-Stupid-Throat Hotel!"
Jason: Too many syllables, Paige.
- In another strip, Paige is singing the "The Love Boat Theme" in the shower when she notices a microphone hanging from the ceiling and abruptly stops. Turns out Jason was recording her.Jason: [being chased by a Modesty Towel-clad Paige] Give me a break - today's Show and Tell.
Paige: I'm sorry, I have soap in my ears. Did you just say, "Paige, please kill me"?
- 6 Is 9: One strip has Peter celebrating the fact he got a 99 on his test. Then, he ended up embarrassed by his teacher saying he was holding it upside down and the score was only a 66.
- Skewed Priorities: Paige turns her mother's hair gray with what she chooses to focus on in school:
- After her first day, Andy asks what she learned, and Paige (backed up by notes) proudly recites the names of the hunky boys in her classes;
- Paige spends eight straight days dragging Peter around the mall, buying everything she needs to be ready for school to start: a new purse, a new outfit, a new hair-care ensemble... and on their way home, Peter asks her if she bought a single notebook or pen: "...Oops."
- Paige comes home aglow because she was "on" during her math class. Andy is pleased, until Paige elaborates that "no one could bat their eyelashes as cutely as I did!"Paige: (off Andy's blank look) We had a really hunky substitute teacher.
Andy: Maybe if I wore a wig, I could pull my hair out without crying.
- Sleep Cute: Parodied in a 1989 strip (and an obvious non-shipping example): During a long plane trip, Paige falls asleep on Jason's head. Luckily, this quickly stirs the both of them awake and causes them to scream in terror.
- Slurpasaur: Invoked in a 1988 strip, where Jason wants to shoot a dinosaur movie for science class, and his stand-in is Quincy with a fan taped to his back.
- Smart People Know Latin: Jason says that his new year's resolution is to speak entirely in Latin. He recites common-knowledge Latin phrases such as "a priori" and "quid pro quo", just to annoy Paige.
- Smart People Play Chess:
- Inverted, as clueless dad Roger is the only one in the family that enjoys chess. Jason, the smartest of the family, only plays when Roger ropes him into a game and wins in three moves.
- In another strip, Jason actually beat him in one move (something that would be impossible in Real Life).
- Snarky Inanimate Object:
- The iFruit.
- And, in a much more malevolent way, the Tamagrouchy.
- Roger had an electronic chess game that was snarky to him, to the point where it made chicken sounds to lure him into playing (and losing).
- A high-tech camera Roger bought treated him this way when he tried to take a picture.Camera: *BEEP* Please hand me to someone who knows what they're doing.
Roger: Dang. It's retracted all the buttons.
- Sneaking Out At Night: One strip has Andy and Roger noticing that the neighbor's dog is barking again, Roger complaining that it's the third night in a row as he goes to take care of it, with the final panel showing that the dog is barking at their teenage son Peter as he's trying to sneak out.
- Snipe Hunt:
- An early strip featured Peter trying this on Jason, but he was genre savvy enough to see through it and refuse. The last panel has Jason and Peter teaming up to try this on their dad.
- A much later strip had Paige and Peter try this on Jason, but again he's savvy enough to see through it. He still agrees to do it with enthusiasm: "Cool. Can we wait until it gets a little darker out?"
- Snowball Fight:
- One mini-arc had Roger agreeing to one with Jason, and apparently coming back with brain damage:Andy: How was the snowball fight?
Roger: Snowball fight?
Andy: The one you just had out back?
Roger: Out back?
Andy: With Jason?
Roger: With Jason?
Andy: Roger, how many fingers am I holding up?
Roger: Holding up?
- In another strip, Roger ends up coming home from work only to be pelted by the kids with enough snowballs to transform him into a snowman, with Andy misconstruing it as the kids stealing Roger's favorite hat and putting it on one of their snowmen.
- In another strip, despite the forecast predicting light flurries, Jason managed to garner enough snow to pelt Roger with snow when he returned home, leading the latter to think they had heavier flurries than predicted.
- One mini-arc had Roger agreeing to one with Jason, and apparently coming back with brain damage:
- Snowlems: Or snow dinosaurs in this case. In one strip Jason and Marcus make a demonic snowlem based on Paige.
- Solar-Powered Magnifying Glass: One strip has Jason seemingly roasting ticks with a magnifying glass and then eating them to gross Paige out. It turns out they were really just raisins. Another one has him and Marcus playing detective but getting sidetracked burning ants.
- Solomon Divorce: Often threatened by Andy and used as a way to get out of camping (either far away, or in one case, camping in the backyard).
- Some Dexterity Required: Parodied in an arc where Peter and Jason buy a Fighting Game: "Here's a fold-out chart showing how to kick..."
- Soup Is Medicine: Andy makes turkey noodle soup for Peter when he is too sick to join his family for Thanksgiving.
- In another strip, Andy makes a sick Roger lie on the coach under a blanket, and gives him soup and soda crackers.
- Souvenir Land: Trope Namer (part of the amusement park Fun-Fun Universe).
- Spammer: Jason.iFruit: Welcome, Paige_Fox88. You have 21,752 new messages. [lists messages] "Purchase Jasonsoft's Spam-Block Software!" "Purchase Jasonsoft's Spam-Block Software!" "Purchase Jasonsoft's Spam-Block Software!"...
Paige: [to Jason, drawing her fist back to punch him] Allow me to hand-deliver my 21,752 replies.
Jason: E-mail's fine! Really!
- Spanner in the Works: Jason finds it impossible to beat one guardian monster in a video game, as it instantly squashes his character every time he tries. Paige, who almost never plays video games, takes the controller and gets by the guardian by simply walking around him.
- Sphere Eyes:
- Most of the characters have these.
- It was even parodied in one strip where Paige cuts ping-pong balls in half and puts them over her eyes to give the impression that she's not falling asleep in class.
- Spit Take: Roger does one in an early strip. While Andy makes a cake for Quincy's birthday party (yes, Quincy's), Roger asks how you make a cake for an iguana, while licking some batter off his finger:Andy: I threw some mealworms in the batter.
Andy: I was kidding!
- Spoiled Brat: Jason is likely the only child in existence who thinks it's is a good thing to be this. In one strip, he tells Andy that since the Bible says "Spare the rod, spoil the child", and that she and Roger have never spanked him with a rod, they should spoil him more than they have, at which point he starts asking for more allowance and privleges. Andy's response: "Maybe I've just been saving the rod for the right time." It shut him up.
- Spoiling Shout-Out: Paige walks in on her father watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas! and starts gushing about it despite his repeatedly asking her to be quiet, culminating in her spoiling the happy ending where they realize they don't need any presents...Roger: I wouldn't know, I've never seen it.
Paige: [thinking] Paige, be quiet.
Roger: Now what was that about not needing any presents?
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Jason became this - most of his appearances in the later strip(s) before it went Sunday-only were merely to show off Amend's knowledge of physics and computer code.
- Spring Cleaning Fever: Andy is prone to fits of this and dragoons the family into helping her. Also, in one storyline, Roger, Jason, Peter, and Paige Fox have to rush to clean up the house (with Peter improvising a leafblower as a means to clean up) before Andy comes home at 4 PM. Justified, as Roger had earlier flooded the house by his attempt at running the dishwasher, leaving an immensely big swamp of soggy clutter that, had Andy came home to find it, she'd go ballistic on them and especially Roger.
- Spy Fiction: Roger attempts to write a novel. The novel he chose was a James Bond expy. It is as bad as one would expect.
- Spy Speak: To thwart Jason and Marcus' eavesdropping, Peter and Denise engage in this. "The red flag flaps not at night." "In Paris, the cafés are many."
- Stab the Salad:
- One Sunday strip set things up like a scene from a horror movie, making it look like someone was being stabbed to death. It turned out to be Roger doing a poor job of slicing up a turkey, and the looks of horror were from Paige, who had to witness the spectacle.
- Something similar happens later on: one strip sets up an apocalyptic event that causes all the mass of the Earth to be focused on a certain point (specifically Midwestern United States), causing the Earth to wobble around trajectory and then end up colliding with the moon before the narrator asks what could have destroyed Earth. It then cuts to Peter having his 38th slice of turkey, to which Peter makes very clear that he isn't even close to being finished with Thanksgiving Dinner, to Andy's disgust, while Jason muses about how this event would surpass even Independence Day as being fodder for a movie.
- Stag Party: Roger mentioned one in one strip, where he went to the Playboy Mansion without Andy's knowledge for his bachelor's party.
- Status Cell Phone: Parodied in this series of strips from 1998. Roger, tired of being the only one at the office without a cell phone, decides to one-up all his co-workers...with an absurdly oversized phone that must be half his own height, and needs to be plugged in because no battery can hold a charge long enough to power it. Naturally, Roger is the only person who thinks this is a good idea.
- Status Quo Is God: While the first couple years featured several status-quo changing events (Andy's hairstyle change, Andy's columnist job, Denise and Peter getting together, Jason's teacher retiring), later on not much really changed over the course of the strip as the kids repeated grade 5, their freshmen year, and junior years of high school close to ten times. Pretty much all that changed was the family computer.
- Stealth Pun: The characters occasionally make reference to watching Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity on TV. It takes a while to realize the joke — The Fox family is watching Fox News!
- Steel Drums and Sunshine: One arc has Roger take the family to the Carribeany Resort, a hotel more than a thousand miles away from any ocean. Roger is the only one not to see past the tourist trap nature of the place, and when he asks his wife if she wants to go to a steel drum concert, argues that it isn't fake because it's a real guy playing the synthesizer. Who'd just hit the "bagpipes" setting.
- Sticky Situation: A week long story featured Paige and Jason having their faces glued together by experimental bubblegum.
- Strangely Specific Horoscope: One brief arc has Jason trying his hand at writing horoscopes, claiming that the ones in the newspaper were too vague to be of help to anyone:Jason: They need clear-cut instructions. With mine, there'll be no ambiguity at all.Peter: [reading Jason's writing] "Scorpio: Give Jason Fox all your money."Jason: Hee hee. Bill Gates is a Scorpio.
- Stylistic Self-Parody: Occurs in this strip. Funnily, Amend's editor didn't get the joke.
- Stylistic Suck: The aforementioned "His Code Name Was the Fox" story. One week of strips consists of hiliariously-bad quotes and over-the-top scenes, plus his wife's reaction to the same (for instance, a Big "NO!" when the character is faced with a Wire Dilemma involving 173 wires and cuts the right one). It's even funnier when one realizes that his wife is (ostensibly) a professional writer.
- Subliminal Advertising:
- Played with in one comic where Jason's selling flip books for $25 each and somehow gets Paige and Peter to buy them because of one of the frames in the book saying "Buy me."Paige: It's lame, but I'll take it.
Jason: Most excellent.
Peter: Can I pay you again for this one?
- Another comic has Jason offering Andy all kinds of expensive presents like a sports car and diamond necklace, saying it was all possible because she raised his allowance to $25,000 a week. The last panel shows he's whispering this to a sleeping Andy, while Roger says "Honey, wake up, he's doing it again."
- Played with in one comic where Jason's selling flip books for $25 each and somehow gets Paige and Peter to buy them because of one of the frames in the book saying "Buy me."
- Suicide as Comedy: One Christmas strip has everyone receiving badly mismatched gifts (Peter gets diamond earrings, Paige gets a football, Andy gets a digital voltometer, and Jason gets an "I (heart) the Backsynch Boys" sweater); as Roger apologizes ("It was late and I was tired!"), Andy yells for Jason to get his head out of the oven.
- Summer Campy: The Camp Bohrmore arc.
- Sunday Strip: Nothing but, since 2007. The Sunday strips originally ran in the regular half-page Sunday comic format until 1999, when Amend changed to a third-page format.
- Suntan Stencil: When Paige fell asleep while sunbaking, Jason went looking for the magnetic letters from the refrigerator to spell out a message on her back, with his mom repeatedly asking why he wanted them without him giving an answer, the last panel reveals him placing them in a "kick me" formation on her back.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- Peter gets in trouble for punching a student who insulted Denise's blindness.
- Some side characters such as Eileen snarkily remark that Jason, for all his smarts, can be so dumb. We see it; many of his Get Rich Quick Schemes fail because he fails to apply common sense to them.
- The comic book megastore he wanted to build would be skyscraper high. When he calls the FAA, they tell him it's illegal to operate a building of that size from his backyard.
- Jason considers investing in commodities. Even though he's saved a few dollars, an official broker wants an upfront fee of $10,000. Andy laughs her head off when Jason requests the money, so he decides to invest in candy that Paige would like and charge her for them.
- In one storyline, Denise finds out that Peter has been lusting after a girl in his gym class. He comes clean and admits that yes, he has been lusting after her because he feels like a loser who no other girl would possibly like. Denise replies that that is stupid, that she knows other girls like him. The fact is that Peter, for all his childishness and stupidity, is DEVOTED to Denise and would never THINK of cheating on her. Other girls tend to notice this, which is probably why they like him so much.
- Roger and Andy make no secret about the fact that, while they love and adore all their children, Jason is blatantly the favorite. The fact is, for all his obnoxiousness and immaturity, he is still just a ten year old boy who no doubt helps his parents feel young again, two people that have complained about feeling old. He also gets straight As, had helped his father with presentations at work, and has been the one that both Peter and Paige have turned to when they need help with schoolwork. It also helps that he has helped both Peter and Paige have turned to him for help when the other have gotten out of line, and Vice versa.
- Sweet and Sour Grapes: As mentioned under Green-Eyed Monster, Peter's thin despite wanting a muscular physique, while his parents struggle to lose weight.
- Sweet Tooth: Paige, especially when ice cream is involved. (In one strip, she bought an ice cream truck's entire inventory, and in this one a sundae nearly as big as she was.)
- Symbol Swearing: Parodied in one strip, overlapping with Medium Awareness:Peter: Ow! I stubbed my toe! Ampersand! Asterisk! Dollar Sign! Pound Sign! Asterisk! Asterisk! [beat] Comic strip swearing leaves something to be desired.
- Take That!:
- In Jason's Slug-Man comics, the titular character's recurring nemesis "Paige-O-Tron." Also, in "The Final Confrontation 3", at the end of the en masse anthology, a thief being electrocuted in the background by the Slug-Mobile's security system is wearing a purple and white hat with an A on it, just like Peter.
- Jason also drew a week's worth of standalone strips attacking Paige. She countered by drawing a week's worth that attacked him, mostly recycling the same gags.
- After deciding that he wanted to become Gary Larson's successor for The Far Side, Jason drew a week's worth of Far Side strips, all of which also attacked Paige (also lampshading The Far Side's obsession with cows).
- And there are plenty more where these came from. In general, any time Jason ever works on any sort of creative work for any reason, an avatar of Paige will be a villain, victim, and/or monster.
- Paige herself has done this. In one notable arc, she writes a horror story that culminates in Jason being decapitated by axe-wielding ghosts. In another, he's depicted as an ugly troll who gets eaten by wild boars.
- In the How the Grinch Stole Christmas! parody, Jason actually changes things up a bit: Paige is portrayed in a basically positive manner, and Andy is made into the villain. The idea seems to be that Jason was too upset and preoccupied over the terrible presents Andy got everyone to bother with Paige, his usual target of choice.
- Amend himself has used the strip as a Take That! on the entire newspaper comic industry. In one story, Roger is forced to confront the fact that the comic strip he loved as a kid, Captain Goofball, has lost all its appeal over the years, and is no longer funny. It's basically the author's way of commenting on the way that there are so many comics in the newspapers these days which were once funny, once had a lot of appeal, but are now tired and boring.
- He made another Take That to the medium itself, specifically how some newspapers run comic strips extremely small so that they can cram as many as possible onto the page:Andy: This says a cartoonist in Mississippi got a group of school kids together to help him make the world's largest comic strip. It was 135×47 feet. [beat] 6×2 inches probably would've been big enough.
Roger: I can't tell... is this Ziggy or a comma?
- Amend, being a Mac user and supporter, has done numerous Take Thats to Microsoft and Bill Gates over the years.
- Amend also has a few favorite pop cultural targets, most notably Richard Simmons, *NSYNC, and Survivor.
- Jason reads about Sony placing malware on CDs that intentionally install viruses on a user's computer if the user tries to play it in a computer, and remarks, "Makes you feel sorry for people who bought the new Céline Dion CD. ... Almost."
- In one strip, Jason is working on creating an animated film called Finding Hemo. When Peter calls him out for doing "a total ripoff of Pixar", Jason asks what's wrong with that and Peter replies, "That's DreamWorks' turf."
- In the run-up to the 2000 Presidential election, one comic had Roger forgetting to vote despite driving past several gigantic signs reading "GORE" and "BUSH"...and a single miniature sign reading "NADER"note .
- During their heyday in the early 2000s, Boy Bands were treated as the most terrible things on the face of the Earth — and not just by Jason as one would expect, but by everyone in the strip outside their target audience of squealing fangirls. People routinely refer to their music as trash, and in one memorable comic Jason nearly kills countless Kazaa users by tricking them into listening to an *NSYNC song disguised as "Beastie Boys Studio Outtakes".
- Amend has traded a few playful jabs with Stephan Pastis of Pearls Before Swine. In particular, a strip in 2016 ended with a joke at the expense of Pearls. A year almost to the day later, Pastis fired back, but Amend was ready with his own shot at the timeliness of the reply.
- Taps: Jason and Marcus once planned to build a space shuttle, and wrote a computer program to model how particular designs might work out. The first time they use it, the disaster it depicts is so horrible that the program actually starts playing Taps at them.
- The Talk:
- Andy and Paige go through this while the male members of the family were out on a Horrible Camping Trip.Paige: Mother, please we talked about all this three years ago.
Andy: That was just the basic overview. We're ready for the Birds and the Bees Lesson #2.
Paige: I do watch network television, you know.
Andy: ...Good point. We'd better skip to Lesson #40.
- Afterwards, Andy points out how she didn't enjoy having the talk with her mother either and swore that she would never make her teenage daughter sit through it. What changed her mind? She now has a teenage daughter.
- Subverted in one week-long arc where Peter actually tries to read Moby-Dick and write a report on it the morning before school on the day it's due. Andy tells Roger she wishes he'd stop having talks with him. Apparently, Roger once told him how he wrote his entire college thesis in one night.
- Andy and Paige go through this while the male members of the family were out on a Horrible Camping Trip.
- Talking in Bed: Roger and Andy do this frequently.
- Talking in Your Sleep: Roger ends up doing this when he's having a dream where Andy gives him a huge amount of fattening food (22 ounce steak with both Bearnaise sauce and Hollandaise, a fully loaded baked potato, corn on the cob that's dripping with butter, deep-fried onion rings with extra salt, a big slab of barbecued ribs, and having the entire pecan pie for desert). Even worse, the entire family hears him mumbling the dream with his face in the tofu slaw, causing Jason to speculate that Roger falls asleep during dinner on purpose.
- Another strip depicts Roger about to tuck into a huge and delicious-looking, if unhealthy, breakfast, and exclaiming, "Andy, pinch me - I'm dreaming!" Cut to the two of them in bed together, revealing that Roger is talking in his sleep, and a groggy Andy mumbling, "If you insist..." as she reaches over to pinch her husband.
- Paige sometimes ends up doing this when she falls Asleep in Class. Once, it inadvertently even resulted in her giving the correct answer to the teacher's question...Pierre: [in Paige's dream] What is the capital of South Dakota?
Paige: Ooo - Pierre.
Teacher: [back in real life] Very good, Paige. I could have sworn you were asleep.
Paige: [waking up, confused] Hmm?
- Tap on the Head: Zigzagged when Jason fell off the roof after Peter made him retrieve a football. X-rays at the hospital reveal that Jason only has a mild concussion and needs to spend the night. Andy's Death Glare towards Peter, however, indicates that it could have been much worse and they all got lucky, especially Jason.
- Tattooed Crook: Jason does this as a contingency plan.Andy: What are you doing?
Jason: Drawing tattoos all over my body with a sharpie.
Andy: What on earth for?
Jason: This way, if I get sent to prison, the other inmates will think I have an escape plan, like the guy in Prison Break, and will be nice to me.
Andy: [head in her hands] Is there something I should know about?
Jason: The CIA's computers are public property! Am I wrong?!
[the doorbell rings]
- Tattoo Sharpie: One strip had Jason try to remove an ink goatee from Peter (having tricked him into using a blue permanent marker), which unfortunately smeared all over his face instead. He went to school the next day with has face entirely blue... with the effect that the guys thought he looked like a Star Trek alien, while the girls thought he looked like Leonardo DiCaprio towards the end of Titanic (1997).Peter: So between the teasing and the google-eyed fawning, it averaged out okay.
Jason: Huh. I though girls liked Dicaprio.
Peter: You and I share so many genes, and yet...
- Thanking the Viewer: The final stretch of daily strips had Roger and Andy discussing a comic that was switching to Sunday-only and how the author would handle it. In the final strip, Roger suggests that the author could just come straight out and directly thank his readers for following the strip for all those years; Andy replies "And break the fourth wall? Not likely."
- That Came Out Wrong:
- Paige does this while rehearsing for a play.Paige: My defecation does begin to make a better life. 'Tis paltry to be Caesar... Oops, I mean "desolation."
- Her cheerleading stint.Paige: Send 'em home losers in their loser pus!... I mean, bus.
- Also the part where Paige, when complaining to her biology teacher about her textbook, stated that it "should have more intelligent design", causing her teacher to tell her to sit down.
- Said in those exact words by Roger Fox when, while telling Andy off for having Jason play Video Games all week so he would miss specials about the Super Bowl before Super Bowl Sunday, basically calls football his one true love of his life.
- And again when he said that he was only using a plastic surgery software on a picture of her for fun: "I don't want some drop-dead gorgeous, hot-bodied wife!... (beat) ...I'm not helping myself, am I?"
- In one strip, Peter is complaining about being stuck on the bench for all of baseball season. Andy, trying to console him, says "Peter, Nothing is ever a sure thing. Sometimes life throws us curveballs." His response? "This isn't helping, Mom."
- Paige does this while rehearsing for a play.
- That One Boss: In-universe example. One story arc has Jason stuck on a boss in a video game he's been trying to get past for a month. Paige ends up getting past the boss by simply walking past it.
- That Cloud Looks Like...: Parodied in this strip, where the clouds literally do look like Jason's uncannily specific descriptions.
- Theatre Phantom: Jason and Marcus once wanted to go to start attending the opera. Andy saw they were up to this, since they made the mistake of applying the Phantom's well-known mask before asking her for permission.
- There Are No Girls on the Internet: One strip has Peter getting an instant message from someone claiming to be a supermodel with the same interests as him. He figures it's Jason and Marcus trying to prank him, but the last panel shows that there really is an attractive girl on the other end, who's responding to Peter's misaimed threats by calling the police.
- Tied Up on the Phone: at one point Paige is on the phone, wandering about the house. In the final panel, the perspective widens and we see that she's ensnared every member of the house in the phone cord.
- Title Drop: Inverted; as with many Newspaper Comics, most of the anthologies are named after throwaway lines of dialogue contained therein.
- Token Minority: Jason's black best friend Marcus, the Asian and Nerdy siblings Phoebe and Eugene, and Peter's blind girlfriend, Denise.
- Tomato in the Mirror: When Andy was once doped up on allergy medication, she was calling Roger with news that she was getting over her doped upstate. The final panel then has Peter trying to yell to Andy offscreen that Jason's setting the fence on fire, to which Andy responds by hushing Peter and telling him that she's talking with his mother.
- Tongue on the Flagpole: Peter gets his tongue stuck to a flagpole off-screen. Jason tells Andy to get the camera instead so he can upload it to YouTube.
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Jason is mostly a genius, and yet after all these years he has yet to realize that if he messes with Paige, she's going to beat him senseless. Of course, he may just consider it Worth It. In the same vein, his "get rich quick" schemes usually result in him being grounded or otherwise punished (Andy once said that his stunts currently have his allowance being withheld until his freshman year in college.) Marcus gets this to a lesser extent, but it's not as obvious since we only ever see him at the Fox household or at school, and thus never see the kind of stuff he does to his five own sisters or what kind of retribution he suffers.
- Hopefully subverted in this strip.
- Tooth Strip: Parodied. Roger tries a whitening toothpaste which erases all the lines between his teeth.
- Totally Radical:
- Usually averted. The cartoonist usually tries to keep the pop culture references and slang current, though there are sometimes lags due to the publishing schedule, and the translation is sometimes imperfect. When the comic did a strip referencing "All your base are belong to us," some fans on the Internet griped that the fad had passed a few months ago and that Jason didn't say the phrase exactly right.
- This trope was once lampshaded in a Painting the Medium manner in one cartoon where Jason tells Peter that he read an article that a cartoonist has been chronically late with his submissions, so he was threatened with various fines if he continued to be late. Peter then questions how long this cartoonist has been late, to which Jason states that the article doesn't mention how long. Then Paige walks in and asks "Hey guys, did you hear about Watergate?"
- Trade Snark: Jason has been known to pepper his creations with far more ®, and © symbols than necessary.
- [Trope Name]:
- The Trouble with Tickets: In one arc, Roger gets a parking ticket. Andy wants to pay the fine, but he wants to do a Perry Mason impression.
- TV Genius: Jason all the way. He's smart enough to write a computer virus that destroyed the Internet, but he does incredibly stupid things like try to convince the dentist to leave the X-ray machine on to give him super powers.
- 20 Minutes into the Future: Done at the end of a 1991 story arc where Paige and Peter go back to school shopping. Paige asks Peter when he'd like to go on another shopping spree, to which Peter says he'd maybe be up for it in the year 2000. Paige asks which month she can put him down for.
- Twerp Sweating:
- Denise's father does this to Peter when he arrives to take her out for their first date.
- Peter, himself, did this justifiably, it turned out to one of Paige's prom dates.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: One early arc had Roger and Andy leaving Peter in charge while they went on vacation for a few days. Peter immediately goes Drunk with Power, ordering Paige and Jason to do everything he wanted — and when they rebelled, he locked both of them in the basement. Unfortunately for him, their parents returned sooner than he expected...
- Ultimate Job Security:
- You'd think Mrs. O'Dell would know better than to hire Paige as a babysitter by now, but the worst punishment Paige receives is having to pay for Katie's outfit, which she destroyed using scissors.
- She seems to have just barely prevented another disaster in this strip. Of course, you could probably blame Peter more for this one.)
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: "Doomathon 2000", "Duke Quakem," and others.
- Ultra Super Happy Cute Baby Fest Farmer 3000: Andy joined a group called MAGG (Mothers Against Gory Games) and vowing to only allow MAGG approved games in their house. The storyline revolved around Peter playing a game called "Nice City" and later complained about the other games Andy had given him, which included "Pacifist Man", "Resident Good" and "Eternal Lightness." It's also hinted in the ending that she only joined up with them in order to have an excuse to get the kids off video games.
- Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Jason comes up with a quiz show called I Want to Be a Millionaire, which he talks his dad into playing. He starts off by switching to math questions after Roger says that he was an English major, and the first question is "What is the 8,346th digit of pi?" The trick being that every time Roger gets a question wrong, he has to pay Jason that amount.
- Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Jason once spent a week trying to defeat the Red Orb Guardian. Paige instantly bypasses it by... bypassing it. Jason declares just walking past a menacing, powerful boss to win to be "counterintuitive," to which Paige asks him how many nanoseconds a day he spends in the real world. (See also Lord British Postulate.)
- Unfortunate Implications:
- In-universe, Roger tells Andy about Jason's ambitious project about creating a robot that can obey his every command (including his chores and annoying his sister, among other things), and also told Andy that he suggested to Jason that "if he added in some lipstick, [Jason]'d have the perfect wife." to Andy's face as she scowls upon hearing this. She doesn't take it well.
- Another in-universe example is where Roger returns from the store and buys hygeine products for his family. He gives Paige a huge container of pimple cream (he went to a warehouse club to get them), causing Paige to react with emotional distress at the unintended implication that she was extremely prone to breaking out with acne, causing Andy to inform him never to buy hygene products from the club ever again. He didn't take the clue, as he also gives her anti-graying formula that's of a similar size, although we never see Andy's reaction. It's actually easier to list the in-universe ones than the YMMV ones in this strip.
- Also, Roger mentions to Peter that he loves spring weather and reminisces that he and his friends often went in the noontime to relax near the lake. Peter then asks if that meant that Roger skipped his classes, with Roger being rendered speechless. It then cuts to Peter mentioning that Roger told him (in what was implied to be saving face for his earlier implication) that in Roger's day, good weather was on weekends.
- Unsound Effect: "Crank" and "uncrank" to indicate a thermostat being turned up, then down, the latter perhaps a more egregious example than the former.
- Unusual Pets for Unusual People: Uber-nerd Jason has a pet iguana named Quincy that he loves to use to torment his sister Paige. (One strip—where Paige wants a cat—mentions that Peter and Jason have allergies, which might explain Jason's choice. But, honestly, it seems like the kind of pet he would have gone for anyway.)
- Unwanted Assistance: The April 10, 2016 strip has Paige stuck with a talking cell phone case that's constantly reminding her not to drop her phone and she's already trying to remove its batteries before getting home.
- Useful Book:
- Paige asks to borrow one of Andy's favorite books. Andy is excited and happy until Paige returns with the book two seconds later, explaining that she just needed it to kill a spider.
- A similar comic had her remarking on Paige borrowing a bunch of books like the encyclopedia set and dictionary; it turns out she was just changing a light bulb.
- Vandalism Backfire: Jason and Marcus are at science camp and get into a prank war with Jason's sort-of girlfriend Eileen and her new friend Phoebe. The boys decide to win the war by sabotaging the girls' science project but get lost in the dark cabin where the projects are and end up sabotaging their own project. Then, to add insult to injury, it turns out the the girls' project is one of the top two—with Phoebe's brother Eugene (the most obnoxious kid at camp) having the other one. Jason and Marcus are forced to cast the deciding votes that give Eileen and Phoebe the win.
- Video Game Cruelty Punishment:
- After Paige defeats a monster in a video game through pacifism an disbeliving Jason begs her to tell him the secret:Paige: If you must know, I walked right by him.
Jason: Well, of course you did, once he was dead!
- After he gets what Paige is saying, Jason muses, "So you're not supposed to attack the unstoppable killing machine of death? How counterintuitive."
- While playing "Nice City'', Peter complains that it is impossible to help twelve little old ladies across the street in the allotted time. Jason watches his next attempt and remarks, "I don't think you're supposed to beat and rob them first."
- After Paige defeats a monster in a video game through pacifism an disbeliving Jason begs her to tell him the secret:
- Viewers Are Geniuses: This strip is a treasure trove of nerd humor, to the point that they collected an entire book of such jokes titled Math, Science, and Unix Underpants.
- Violence Is Not an Option: One arc has Jason unable to get past a videogame boss called the Red Orb Guardian. His entirely un-nerdy sister Paige gets past it without trying, so she blackmails him for a while until she finally tells him the secret: don't attack him.Jason: He's the most lethal video game creature ever! He towers above you with fists like anvils! Skulls litter the ground at his feet! And you're not supposed to even try to take this guy on in a fight?... Wow, talk about counter-intuitive.
Paige: Refresh my memory, you spend how many nanoseconds in the real world each day?
- The Voice: The strip has a few, including Miss Grinchley (Jason's original teacher, who only had two physical appearances), Roger's boss J.K. Pembrook and Denise's parents.
- Walking Techbane:
- Roger has proven completely incapable of operating a computer since the strip's first year. This is a man who once got completely wrapped up in dot-matrix printer paper; who crushed 3½ inch diskettes trying to put them in; who thought "backing up the computer" meant pushing it off the desk. He gets the Windows version of software for their Apple computer based on the fact that there's a window right there in the computer room. He has destroyed various other forms of electronic equipment as well, and even managed to flood the house using the dishwasher.
- Other than Roger, there was also one other instance where a character ended up ruining important equipment: When Jason was ordering tickets for Attack of the Clones, Jason and Marcus had to wait a long time (to the extent that Jason even had to use a lawn chair to wait out the loading time, and communicate with Marcus via the computer). Eventually, he did get the tickets, and speculated that the reason for the insanely long amount of time it took to download the tickets was because the theater's server was swamped. Jason was right, but not in the way he would have thought, as it immediately cut to the sink with a computer server in the sink with running water, with the head of the theater shouting to Johnson "I told you to wash the butter server!", thus meaning that the server was literally "swamped."
- Another Johnson (or possibly the same one) was responsible for disconnecting Jason from the WOW server just before he could claim an ultra-rare item by tripping on a cable.
- Watch Out for That Tree!: "We need to find softer trees."
- Water Hose Rodeo: Jason says "One day I'm going to put on weight and really enjoy watering the lawn" after one such rodeo.
- Weight Woe: Despite her penchant for junk food, Paige was shown to be occasionally weight-conscious in early strips. In one Sunday strip, she berates Andy for making macaroni and cheese for dinner, since it's so high in calories and she wants to lose weight. Andy tells her, "Paige, you do not need to lose weight. You must weigh about 10 pounds less than me!" "Oh, swell," Paige sarcastically remarks before walking away. We then see Andy examining her own stomach, and then, in the final panel, scrapping the macaroni and cheese and making a salad for dinner instead.
- Wham Shot: After a week's worth of strips where Paige is over the moon about getting notes from a secret admirer, the last panel of Saturday's strip reveals the sender: It's Peter and Steve, writing another note and snickering over how gullible Peter's sister is.
- What Are Records?: Word for word, from Jason.
- What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Jason submitted an idea to James Cameron for Titanic II about a ship named 'Titanic II', complete with a "They thought it couldn't go wrong again..." narration.
- What's a Henway?:
- Paige, trying to weasel her way out of a Macbeth report:Paige: What's Macbeth about?
Andy: It's about 100 pages. Now get going.
- Another example:Jason: Man... this is one cold house.
Paige: Tell me about it.
Jason: Well, let's see... It's got two stories, it's white with green trim, it's got four bedrooms...
- And another:Peter: Hey Paige — if the kitchen's in the house and Diana's in the kitchen, what's in Diana?
Paige: I dunno. What?
Peter: A state.
- And another:Paige: What's on the TV?
Jason: The VCR... a couple of magazines... dad's bowling trophy... probably a thin layer of dust, too.
- One had a Bilingual Bonus involving Paige's "dream guy", Pierre.Paige: [dreaming] Pierre! Is it you? Is it really, really you?
Pierre: C'est moi.note
Paige: Moi moi moi moi moi...
- Paige, trying to weasel her way out of a Macbeth report:
- What Does She See in Him?: The reader will almost certainly ask this about Andy after a while.
- And given how Andy treats him, the reader may ask the same of Roger.
- What the Hell, Hero?
- Denise gives one to Peter after he punches someone, saying that he shouldn't think violence is an acceptable solution to problems. Subverted when he mentions that his victim had insulted her, and she says "And you JUST punched him in the nose?"
- Andy gives one to Jason and Paige for not coming forward about breaking the computer when she punished their father.
- Paige gets another one in a 1991 story arc in which she and Jason find a hypodermic needle while coming the beach and throw it away. Instead of the reaction Paige expects (praise for getting the needle off the beach so no one could step on it), Andy chews Paige out for picking up the needle in the first place instead of reporting it to health authorities.
- What Were They Selling Again?: Referenced in a 2004 strip in which Paige tells Peter she just saw a commercial that was so funny she snorted soda out of her nose, and that the ad agency responsible deserves multiple awards. Peter asks what the ad was for, and Paige can't remember.
- Wheel o' Feet: Parodied in one strip where Jason ties a pair of wheels with a spiral design around his waist and stomps on bottles of dry ice during gym class so that he appears to be running faster than he is.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?:
- There is evidence that the Fox family lives in a town called Hillsdale (such as a Hillsdale Mall in a 1988 strip, the letter H on the high school team's uniforms), but beyond a street address in the first strip, no real specifics have been given for their place of residence.
- Also, since the "A" on Peter's hat is a direct reference to Amherst College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, the confusion is only greater. The same college's iconic chapel frequently appears in the background during Roger's college reunions, leading to a nice Shout-Out.
- Several hints dropped seem to indicate they live in the Chicago area, such as Andy going to, and returning from, a Chicago Bulls game in the same night. Also, Roger mentioned he was born in Chicago at one point, and on a long business trip, flew out of a Chicago airport.
- The cartoonist often jumbles around their location to confuse the readers. An example is one strip where Jason states that "the [Comic-Con] in San Diego is too far away" but a strip the next year has him getting ready to go to Comic-Con as though he lives there.
- In one strip, Jason celebrates the new year at 8 am, remarking that's "it's midnight in New Guinea". This would place the Fox family in the Mountain Time Zone.
- Whip It Good: Peter and Jason wield whips (with varying degrees of success) while emulating Young Indiana Jones.
- Who's Laughing Now?: said almost verbatim by Peter when he threatens to tell on Jason for tricking him into drawing a goatee on his face with a permanent marker:Peter: Just wait until I tell Mom and Dad! We'll see who's laughing then, pal!
[He storms out... and after a few minutes, stalks back in.]
Jason: Judging by your face, I'd say Mom and Dad.
Peter: [fuming] I'm moving out.
Andy: Peter come back! We were guffawing with you!
- Who's on First?: Jason and Marcus do one relating to How the Grinch Stole Christmas!, complete with a reference to the Trope Namer:Marcus: Who are they?
Marcus: I mean the people.
Marcus: The ones standing in a circle singing that "Fahoo" song!
Jason: They're Who.
Marcus: What are you asking me for?!
Jason: Abbott and Costello meet the Grinch.
- Who Would Be Stupid Enough?: Jason asked every member of his family if they wanted to have a snowball fight with him. They each reply "Do I look like an idiot?"... until he gets to Roger, who says "Let me get my coat" before Jason can even finish the question.
- Wild Teen Party: In a 1989 story arc, Paige and Nicole get invited to one at the home of Mitch Kellogg, an upperclassman, and quickly discover it's not what they expected. Everyone is drinking and doing drugs, and a drunken Mitch even propositions Paige for sex and then attempts to get her to smoke pot and do coke with him. Paige refuses each time, and when Mitch still won't leave her alone, resorts to punching him the face, remarking to herself, "Sometimes just saying no isn't enough." Perhaps to illustrate how strung out Mitch is, he is unfazed by Paige's punch and merely moves on to another girl.
- In the final strip of the arc, Paige complains about how much the party sucks, and Nicole remarks that at least it's better than sitting home watching a rental movie. This remark is followed by an off-screen beer chugging contest followed by everyone puking in unison. Paige and Nicole high-tail it out of there and head for the video store.
- William Telling:
- Roger asks Jason what sport he has taken up and Jason tells him to put an apple on his head and he'll demonstrate. Roger, wisely, flees.
- Inverted in one strip where Jason has an arrow tied to his head, and Marcus tries to shoot apples through a bow at it. He says that way, they're only being kinda stupid.
- Women Are Wiser: Andy, although she's frequently Not So Above It All. In fact, this eventually Flanderized to the point where she's just about as insane as the rest of the family and only thinks she's the sensible one. (And very much averted with Paige.)
- Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer:
- Peter's first attempt to ask Denise out.
- Also occurs in a 1990 strip where, even after Peter places an ad in the school paper, Paige is unable to find a date for her or Nicole. A set of twins finally says yes to both of them, but Paige rescinds their offer even after spending most of the past two weeks' worth of strips complaining about her inability to find a date. Apparently, this resistance was either because they insist on having someone ask them out instead of the other way around or because the twins were totally dorky (we never actually see them, but their response to being asked out was "Golly, gosh dang, gee whiz, yes!").
- Worst News Judgment Ever: Andy is watching the OJ Simpson trial. Suddenly, breaking news: aliens have landed and are now addressing the UN! Amazing! Now back to the trial...Andy: I'm beginning to see why Elvis shot that TV.
- Writer's Block Montage: Occurs with Roger in the aforementioned Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue" story arc.
- Writing Lines: Jason has been subjected to this on a regular basis, to the point of doing them a day in advance so he wouldn't have to miss a doctor's appointment by staying late.
- Written Roar:
- "AAAA!" is the preferred method of screaming in this strip.
- Likewise, "WAAAA!" (sometimes with a ~ at the end) is the preferred method of crying/sobbing in this strip.
- Written Sound Effect: "Pbbspt!" is Amend's favorite onomatopoeia for Spit Takes.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Jason seems to believe that the laws of fantasy apply to reality more often than not, but relying on them usually only get him in trouble or gets him hurt (or both). For example, when he tries to imitate Spider-Man and builds a web-shooter, he wonders why he only succeeds in getting himself tangled in it.
- Xenofiction: A few strips are from Quincy's (Jason's pet iguana) point of view. In one we're given a P.O.V. Cam view while he's inside his hamster ball. In another, we're taken inside a dream of his where he's the size of a T-Rex and terrorizing people in a Jurassic Park Expy.
- Yes-Man: One 1990 Story Arc has Roger getting a summer intern named Skip Riley who completely sucks up to him. While this thrills Roger, it saddens Peter, who feels that Roger is pushing him aside in favor of Skip (one strip has him gushing about Skip to Andy and completely ignoring Peter's request to come out and play catch). At the end, Roger has a meeting with a higher-up, causing Skip to ditch Roger entirely and start sucking up to him instead, in order to work his way up the ladder.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: A two-week storyline has Jason having a dream involving the cast as the characters of A Christmas Carol (thanks to Andy's garlic, green pepper and tofu chili, 'the meal of a thousand nightmares'). Paige is Christmas Past, and shows him how happy she was before he came along; Peter was Christmas Present and, after making the standard "Present/Presents" mistake, eats the mountain of food; Quincy is Christmas Yet To Come, and shows Jason his grave (which freaks him out, since he died the day before The Phantom Menace came out.
- You Are Grounded!: Happens several times to Peter. In fact, in one series, Andy grounded him for seeing Kill Bill 2, then grounded him for another week after figuring out he saw the first Kill Bill movie the year before. Andy eventually released Peter from being grounded, although only because trying to ground him for two weeks actually proved to be cruel and unusual torture for the rest of the family.
- In another story arc a few years earlier, Andy grounds Paige for seeing Indecent Proposal. In this instance, however, Paige is only grounded for one weekend (which is more than enough for Paige since it means she'll have to endure Jason all weekend).
- You DONOT Want To Know: This is Roger's answer when Andy asks just how zoned out she was with her allergy medication's side effects. It's also shown to send her into a Mushroom Samba (one of the kids offscreen asks Andy if she could take the Pink Floyd out of the music player, and Andy wonders who wrote squiggly lines on her hand).
- Your Mom: In one strip, Jason and Marcus exchange "your momma" lines as a means of trash-talking before a test. This exchange led to the title of one of the compilations, Your Momma Thinks Square Roots Are Vegetables.