Follow TV Tropes


Comic Strip / Luann

Go To

Created in 1985 by Greg Evans, Luann is a comic strip about the life of Luann DeGroot, a typical high school student, with her trials and tribulations. She has typical parents, a lazy, annoying older brother named Brad, and her best friends Bernice and Delta. Her main rival is Tiffany the cheerleader, and the men in her life are nerdy Gunther and handsome Aaron Hill (and his Suspiciously Similar Substitutes).

Sometimes funny, and occasionally poignant, it's known for capitalizing on current trends, and dropping Anvilicious subplots about various subjects (i.e. marijuana use) in an attempt to be modern and legitimate. Most of the characters seem to exist as two-dimensional archetypes, with rare glimpses into more aspects of their personalities, so you will find a lot of tropes in here played totally straight (though Tropes Are Not Bad). It also gained a new focus, as lazy brother Brad shifted into becoming a co-main character of sorts, gaining nearly as much page time as his sister thanks to a subplot where he joins a fire department and falls for the beautiful Toni Daytona. As well, Luann's idealized crush Aaron has left the strip entirely.


Examples of Tropes:

  • Aborted Arc:
    • The storyline where Aaron was hiding his relationship with Diane was supposed to be Aaron and another boy. Evans bailed out, fearing too great a backlash and not having the subscriber base Lynn Johnston had to pull the same thing off without a significant loss in readership.
    • After Aaron was put on a plane to Hawaii, the strip signaled his reunion with Luann in a storyline where she wins a contest flight to Hawaii. What happens when she reunites with Aaron there? She sees him once with another girl, doesn't even bother to confirm she's his girlfriend, and then doesn't speak to him again after that. Aaron's return was teased again with a strip where he sends Luann a Myspace friend request and a message suggesting he's single now, but nothing came of it after that.
    • The entire situation with Ben York, Bernice's long-lost brother. Luann had a crush on him and Bernice was jealous of the attention (because her own feelings towards him were rather complicated). At one point Luann planned to make a special Valentine's Day dinner for him, but he called her saying he couldn't come because he was going out of town. And then his entire character just disappeared completely. While love interests vanishing without a trace is nothing new for this strip, this one is unusual as it's a main character's relative; even Bernice appears to have forgotten Ben completely.
    • Advertisement:
    • There was a storyarc where Brad and TJ make some alterations to their home without consulting Frank (the owner.) Frank finds out and tells them off, warning them that they are to seek his permission before doing any alterations, so Frank can ensure they are "done right." A year later Brad and TJ decide to add a whole new room to the house, but Frank's admonition is never mentioned, the boys once again don't tell him, and the work is so shoddy it has to be redone by professionals (which was the exact reason Frank wanted to be informed in the first place.) To date there has been no mention of whether or not Frank found out Brad and TJ disobeyed him again; it's as if the whole telling-off never happened in the first place.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The justification given for Toni's continued relationship with the blatantly terrible Dirk. He was muscular, but rude, nasty and disrespectful.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Luann's obsession with Aaron Hill, in the strip's earlier years; Brad's interest in Toni, before they became at item; Gunther's pining for Luann.
    • Averted for about 2 minutes with Quill and Luann, until Quill's dad called him to tell him he's moving back to Australia next week.
    • As of 2016 Tiffany is interested in Gunther, who is too busy being interested in Bernice, who is too busy being interested in Piro.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: Tiffany is Head Cheerleader, and thus easily attracts Aaron Hill, much to Luann's chagrin.
  • The Alleged Car: Brad's perpetually worked-on Chevy Nova.
  • All Take and No Give / Taking Advantage of Generosity: Toni Daytona's brother Jonah treats her as an on-call free daycare, to the point of demanding that she reschedule any commitments that might prevent her from watching Shannon. When Toni finally tried to refuse, stating that Jonah needed to take some responsibility for his own life, he replied that he would have an easier time doing so if he had ever received any help from her. It's not limited to his own family members either: upon meeting Nancy and Pru for the first time (and finding out that Nancy's son was engaged to Toni), he immediately left Shannon with them and hightailed it out the door with the excuse that "Toni will pick her up in a few hours."
  • Almost Kiss: Luann and Gunther do this before pulling back on their own, then lampshading the Moment Killer that would have otherwise stopped it.
  • Alpha Bitch: Tiffany the Evil Cheerleader pretty much defined this during the high school years, at least as much as the previous trope namer Libby herself did. Shallow, vain, beauty-obsessed and hateful of the main character 90% of the time. Unlike Libby she doesn't have a two-Girl Posse, just one friend who barely tolerates her and she even lost a beauty pageant she'd set up for herself.
    • She received some Character Development after entering college though, finally admitting how lonely she really was and making an effort to treat the people around her better. She has since taken to spending more time with Gunther, attempting to help him with his romantic life while possibly developing feelings of her own for him.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Miguel; although he's stated to be Spanish. Other colored strips show TJ as being Ambiguously Brown, but it's later averted when he explains his parents were Italian and South American — it's entirely possible for both his parents to have been brown. (If the Italian half was Sicilian.)
  • Ambiguously Gay:
    • TJ. The guy's well-dressed and a good cook. We've never seen him with a girlfriend. Josh's commentary on Comics Curmedgeon occasionally lampshades this.
    • Also, for a brief period, Aaron Hill. He seemed oblivious to Luann's and Tiffany's attraction to him. Evans was originally going to make Aaron come out of the closet, but backed out.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Mr. Fogarty, though he's portrayed as the Only Sane Man in comparison to the students in his class. When the main cast graduated high school is when he finally decided to retire from teaching altogether.
  • Art Evolution: The art style in the strip has changed a lot since 1985. The characters debuted with huge heads and tiny, pudgy bodies, and maintained these cartoonish proportions for the first decade of the strip. In the second decade, they started to evolve towards more realistic proportions. Frank is probably the closest to his old look, but Luann and Brad are almost unrecognizable. The banner for the comic at GoComics shows the evolution of Luann's appearance over the years. The author will also occasionally draw characters in their older designs for flashbacks.
    • Delta was consistently seen with sunglasses and a huge smile on her face in the early years — she is similarly unrecognizable.
  • Ascended Extra: When Toni Daytona debuted in early 2002, she was just one of two cute girls with No Name Given who sat next to Brad and TJ in their CPR and EMT classes, so there could be a few gags of Brad and TJ flirting with them unsuccessfully. If anything, Toni's friend (who's never been named and hasn't been seen since the end of the EMT Class, where TJ dropped out) actually had more to do since TJ was more aggressive in flirting and failing with her than Brad was with Toni. Toni turned up again, briefly, near the end of the year at the impromptu mini-parade Brad's family and friends staged for Brad. It wasn't till the next year that Brad (and the readers) learned Toni's name and we got the whole Brad-Toni-Dirk Love Triangle.
  • Author Appeal: Greg Evans is clearly into cars, which reflects on Brad, and later Toni.
  • Beautiful All Along: Played relatively straight, but with a male character, as Gunther drops his glasses and dorky clothing to look more acceptable to others.
    • When he really wanted to change his style, he had Tiffany help him. She was surprisingly effective at it, but he ultimately felt more comfortable as himself.
    • Gunther got a further (inadvertent) makeover courtesy of a group of senior citizen ladies touring Peru by bus, the result of which was ditching the button-down shirts for sweatshirts and facial stubble. The cast's females approve, especially Tiffany.
  • Betty and Veronica: Luann is the nice (sometimes), interesting Betty, and Tiffany is the skanky, skimpily-dressed Veronica.
  • Bad Boss: Ann Eiffel is one, from a legal standpoint. As manager of Borderline Books she was Bernice and Zane's employer, and threatened to fire them if they kept seeing each other. Bernice at first thought she wanted to seduce Zane; Ann actually wanted to seduce Bernice. After making Bernice her personal servant and firing Zane, Ann resorted to outright intimidation, until Borderline's CEO - who was a friend of Zane - noticed and transferred Ann to their branch in Japan.
    • But that wasn't the last of her. She later showed up as manager of Weenie World, where Brad applied for work after being laid off by the Fire Department. This time, she tried to seduce him, and after finding out about Toni, fired him. Later, TJ started working there to get proof of her abusing employees, and not only made a recording of her saying she cons people and took complete credit for his ideas, but trying to sue Toni's five-year-old niece for biting her. Ann then attempted to seduce TJ, but he wasn't having any of it.
    • Ann refuses to go away: Not only is she Leslie's mom, she's also dating Tiffany's father.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: Tiffany gains a noticeable amount of weight while depressed and self-isolated at college. The change in appearance actually works for her and isn't much remarked on after the initial storyline.
  • Big Brother Attraction: Bernice has very strong feelings towards her long-lost older brother, to the point of getting angry when she learns that Luann has a crush on him.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead / Power Trio: Luann (id), Bernice (ego), and Delta (super ego, Token Minority replacing redhead).
  • Brainless Beauty: Cheerleader Tiffany is shown as one of the most negative types of this trope, who doesn't try at much of anything and is seen as completely shallow.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Shannon, Toni's niece. She's gotten a bit better over time, but still reverts to this behavior whenever things don't go her way. She gets it from her father, who seems to have severe entitlement issues himself.
  • Breakout Character: Brad had his own storylines occasionally, but was more often seen through Luann's eyes as an annoying older brother. By the time of the "Firefighter/Toni Daytona" storyline, Brad had basically earned equal footing to his sister in the strip, with a whole new supporting cast to play with.
  • Burger Fool: Brad is this not once but twice with a job at Weenie World. The second time, he has to deal with Ann Eiffel as his boss after being laid-off from his career as a firefighter. This is soon averted when Brad returns to the station and his best friend T.J. takes his place and makes Ann Eiffel's life a living hell by being much better at the job than her.
  • But Not Too Gay: Prudence the self-described "lesbian thespian." The subject of her being gay has only really come up twice: to reassure Luann that she wasn't a romantic rival for Quill's affections, and to warn Les off from his doomed crush on her. But she's never portrayed as being attracted to any woman who's appeared in the strip. Over four years after her first appearance, she finally mentions that she has a girlfriend back in New York City.
  • California University: Played straight by Bernice, Quill, Gunther and Tiffany, who attend the fictional Moony University in their town. Averted with Delta (who went away to Howard University) and Luann herself (who attends the local junior college and continues living at home).
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Gunther slurred his words, stumbled around and passed out for six hours after drinking exactly one beer.
  • Cast Herd: Once the main cast graduated high school, the storylines have been divided between the junior college (Luann), Moony U. (Bernice, Gunther and Tiffany), and Brad and Toni's house. Any mixing of the group tends to happen at "The Fuse", the coffee shop co-owned by Luann's parents and Mr. Gray (Gunther's stepdad).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Boy howdy. Can you believe that this used to be a gag-a-day strip without the deep, anvilicous Story Arcs it's now known for?
    • Hints of Cerebus Syndrome have been shown in the early strips, but over time it started to kick in much much harder.
  • Character Development: Brad moves from a lazy, slovenly generic older-brother figure who harasses his sister all the time, to becoming dedicated to firefighting, spending several years of our time (not Comic-Book Time) working towards his classes.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: TJ's default expression. The near-permanent grin indicates his shifty High School Hustler nature, and it takes a lot to wipe it off his face.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Brad's first crush, Diane, puts him through the wringer over and over, and then vanishes without a trace after it's revealed she hooked up with Aaron Hill, and she hasn't been mentioned in over two decades. She had a non-speaking cameo in the background at Brad and Toni's wedding, however.
    • Elwood, the creepy "Mini-Elvis" who had a crush on Luann. After a few years of throwing money around in the hopes of getting Luann's attention, he eventually proposes to her with a ring that he claimed cost him $15,000, but which the girls discover is worth less than $50. They confront him about it and he says he'll look into the pricing discrepancy... but is never seen or referenced again.
    • Ben York, Bernice’s long-lost brother (and Luann’s crush) disappeared altogether after he was unable to attend a Valentine’s Day dinner Luann arranged, as noted in the Aborted Arc entry above.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Luann to Aaron Hill sometimes. Bernice especially does this to wheelchair-bound Zane, freaking out if he so much as talks to another girl, and asking him to marry her while she was still in high school.
    • Bernice to her brother, which some critics chalk up to the strange "attraction" that occasionally develops between long-lost parents and children (basically you want to love the long-lost person as family, but since you just met and never knew each other that way you're stuck with romantic love).
    • Luann ends up getting this way with Quill once his old friend Pru moves to their town, to the point where her jealousy contributes to their breakup. Luann didn't find out until too late that Pru and Quill never felt that way about each other in the first place.
  • Comic-Book Time: Zig-zagged because Luann and company have aged over the years, bit by bit. They were in high school since 1985, and as of September 2014 they finally hit college. However, the seasons within the strip (as well as the events within) have kept pace with the real world, so the characters have dozens of stories about the school year beginning or ending without them actually advancing to the next grade level.
  • Cos Play: Gunther. In the cast's younger days, he loved making costumes for Luann's library readings. Now that they're all grown (or growing) up, the same skill gets him together with cosplay and con enthusiast Bets.
  • Creator Cameo: Greg Evans and his daughter Karen are the "total strangers" who wish Luann a happy 18th birthday.
  • Curse Cut Short: Bernice is about to accuse Prudence and nearly calls her a name.
  • Dark Horse Victory: When Tiffany staged her beauty pageant, all the main characters who are high school girls competed: Tiffany, Luann, Crystal, Bernice, Delta. Most of the focus was on the rivalry between Luann and Tiffany. The winner? The new kid in town, Rosa.
  • Demoted to Extra: The beauty pageant arc from 2010 (the one introducing Rosa) was the first time Delta played a major role in a storyline in years. And she promptly faded back into the background once it was over. In 2014, she left the strip entirely and hasn't been seen since November of that year. Greg Evans has stated repeatedly that the "perfect" Delta is almost impossible to write for, owing to her lack of flaws. The more flawed Luann is easier, while Tiffany (who is largely made of personality flaws and hotness) is the simplest.
  • Disabled Love Interest: Bernice's love interest Zane, paralyzed from the waist down, but still handsome.
  • Disappeared Dad: Gunther's father left him and his mother when he was little.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Luann is usually barefoot when at home.
  • The Dog Is The Mastermind: Played With and Subverted during the chaperone arc. One of the teachers suspects that Luann was the one who did the anonymous caller due to this trope (which the teacher deconstructs by pointing out that the other teacher is just as applicable for that trope as well). It was Tiffany all along, and Luann only acted like she was the anonymous video recorder to Tiffany in order to trick her into admitting it.
  • Dogged Nice Guy:
    • Brad is this most of the time, chasing crushes Diane and Toni. Especially true for the latter. Though at times he's been shown as angry and loud-mouthed towards his sister, he's largely completely sympathetic the entire time.
    • Gunther is also one of these to an extent.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male:
    • Played for Laughs — Gunther tries to do the classic sawing-a-woman-in-half trick, and the counselor says that it's violent towards women. When Bernice suggests doing it to Gunther, the counselor finds no problem with it. He immediately says "HEY!"
    • Averted when it comes to Zane and Bernice and later Brad's boss — she's certainly abusive to her workers, and we're clearly supposed to dislike her.
  • Extreme Doormat: Toni has a very hard time saying no to her brother Jonah (and by extension, Jonah's daughter Shannon.) Even when she attempts to stand up to them, she caves in fairly quickly.
  • The Faceless: Tom Farrell, Tiffany’s dad. The few times he’s seen he normally has his back to the viewer, but at one point his face was concealed by his own word balloon.
  • Franchise Killer: In-universe example with the Eyez Of Zeye movie, which Elwood financed and which turns out to be horrible (and immediately shelved). Unfortunately for Tiffany.
  • Gentle Giant: Oxford (Ox for short) a character introduced in 2012. A tough, muscular guy who looks like the typical school bully, he actually doesn't like bullies, and defends Gunther from them; he later tells Ann Eiffel off when she tries to get revenge on Shannon, figuring she's a bully too.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Done quite often, but in a more cutesy attempt at being sneaky. Examples: 1) Brad will tell Toni he was thinking of her. She says "So I see". He is holding melons or cantaloupes in the produce section. 2) The DeGroot parents will argue over Brad living with Toni, because they're "both adults". The implication of sexuality is there, but never is the word actually said. 3) A 2009 series of strips featured Brad and Toni not-so-subtly making it clear they had sex earlier. 4) When Tiffany is asked by Gunther if she has had any "real" boyfriends, Tiffany then asks "As opposed to what, plastic ones?" Which works on two levels.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: After Tiffany recorded a video of Luann changing in the locker room to use as blackmail material, Luann wished she hadn't been wearing her Pooh bear underwear.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck! / Unusual Euphemism: Whenever any character has a Big "OMG!", they always say "OHMYGAW" (one word, all-caps) due to Evans's disinclination to use "God."
  • Granola Girl: Bernice's college roommate Dez.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: The DeGroots towards Luann. About the only time they deign to notice her presence is when she does something to displease them. Especially glaring in light of how Nancy is obsessed with keeping Brad from going to first base. However; whenever there's a major decision such as getting a car or a house, they are there. One strip that's Played for Laughs has Luann ground herself because she knows she did something wrong.
  • Hate Sink: Leslie Knox, Jonah Daytona and Ann Eiffel exist only to mistreat, swindle or take advantage of the other characters. None of them are ever presented in a sympathetic light, and the rest of the cast can barely tolerate them at best.
    • However, the seeds of a possible Heel–Face Turn for Leslie appear to have been sown with his doomed crush on Prudence and the revelation that his mother is Ann Eiffel.
    • Tiffany during the early high-school years.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Dirk's cleaned up his act spectacularly. Not only is a lot nicer, he's now Happily Married to a girl he met in one of his classes, and apparently is a very good father.
  • Heroic Fire Rescue: Brad, while working for the fire department, rushed in to save a character. He was complimented for being successful, but also reprimanded and suspended for putting himself at risk to do needless heroics.
  • High School Hustler: TJ is a young adult version of this. He's aged out of school, but the personality remains.
  • Hurt Foot Hop: In this Luann strip, a bowling ball is dropped on Luann's foot and the jumping ensues.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    Frank: Why'd you buy three kinds of lotion?
    Nancy: Because they work together. One tones, one firms, one hydrates. It's a system.
    Frank: Oh! Well, if it's a system.
    Nancy: Are you being a smarty?
    Frank: Honey, these companies hustle money by selling multiple products as a "system." It's a big scam.
    Nancy: Like your hair treatment products?
    Frank: That's not a system! That's a program!
  • Ironic Echo: Frank throws Nancy's derisive earlier remarks back in her face here.
  • Incompatible Orientation: After Luann got jealous of Quill and Prudence spending a lot of time together, Prudence revealed herself to be lesbian to assure Luann she wasn't romantically interested in him.
    • Then Leslie developed a crush on Prudence...
  • Is That What They're Calling It Now?: In this strip, Mr. DeGroot gets a little confused.
  • Knight In Shining Armour: What Brad yearned to be towards Toni, to "save her" from boyfriend Dirk the Jerk. Also later, when he is nearly killed saving her life during a fire.
  • Last Resort Takeout: One strip is displayed as a step-by-step guide to enjoy a summer barbecue. However, the meat didn't thaw out enough, and the propane tank was empty. The last panel shows the family ordering burgers from a drive-thru.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This is an example.
  • Limited Wardrobe: In every single one of his appearances, Mr. Gray has only ever worn the same drab gray suit/black necktie combo. Even for his own wedding, all he did was add a boutonnière.
    • Brad gets a lot of use out of his black jersey, and even had an exact duplicate on hand to loan to Shannon when she slept over.
  • Long Lost Sibling: Bernice discovered she had a brother given up for adoption years ago, now a soldier in Iraq.
  • Long Runner: Thirty-five years. Though given that it's part of Newspaper Comics, it's virtually a baby amongst its peers. Still it's progress is noticeable (Luann was a pre-teen when the series started and is in college at the time of this writing).
  • Lots of Luggage: In the 15 December 2011 strip, Tiffany brings so much luggage for a one-week trip that Luann's boyfriend remarks, "We need a semi."
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Brad pretty much acts this way around both his love interests, Diane and Toni, frequently pretending to know about things he's actually clueless about, trying to dress the way they'd like, acting the way he feels they'd like, and randomly stuttering nonsense ("Hey auto go show Toni together with me!").
  • Love Triangle: Aaron, Luann and Tiffany. Also Toni with Brad and Dirk. And a budding one between Luann, Gunther, and creepy little gnome Elwood. Averted with Luann, Quill, and Tiffany since Quill was never attracted to her, despite her best efforts. Though once Tiffany tried one too many times to make Luann jealous and received a very public telling-off by Quill, she finally backed off completely.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: That may or may not be the reason TJ's food truck exploded. The strips leading up to the explosion set up the possibility, but it's never explicitly stated.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Recently introduced character Bets is showing signs of playing this role for Gunther. She's pretty grounded when helping Tiffany get her life and studies together, though.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Toni admits to doing this to Brad to keep him at arm's length while he pined over her. She would say something that could be construed as flirty, making him obsess over it, and then turn it to something more innocent several times. During her relationship with Dirk, she made both of them think she "might" be interested in Brad as something more than a pal.
    • "Is she kissing me or Santa?"
  • Momma's Boy: Gunther, to a certain extent. He seemed to be growing out of it by going to Peru with Rosa, but one of the reasons he came back is that he was upset his mother started dating again. Bets may be helping him break out of it, though.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Tiffany, until the gang got to college and her depression kicked into high gear.
  • My Beloved Smother: Nancy towards Brad (but really only where Toni is involved); she won't let him stay over at Toni's house, seemingly rejecting his relationship growth when she was egging him on before, and tried to keep Brad from her at first because she saw Toni as a "bad girl".
    • When Brad hosted Thanksgiving at his and TJ's place Nancy was very chilly towards Toni but immediately warms up to Quill, Luann's handsome "date". Her husband quickly calls her out on her behavior.
      • We could make the point that she simply doesn't like Toni because of all of her baggage (Dirk is a massively violent person, and seems quite able to gut Brad like a fish) and the mind games she played on Brad before they became a couple.
  • Nice Guy/Gal: Gunther and Brad (though not, of course, to his sister); Luann and Prudence.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Barely averted. When the strip began in 1985 Luann and her friends were approximately thirteen years old; in the ensuing three decades they've advanced to roughly 18 or 19.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Aaron Hill's obliviousness towards Luann's (and Tiffany's) attraction was mostly to duck admitting he was taken. Or at least that's the way it turned out.
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: TJ has actually had lots of jobs, but most of them have some motive in mind other than making money (such as finding evidence of Ann Eiffel abusing employees). He seems to have a lot of money that he gets from an unknown source, which he won't divulge. It has caused suspicion both in-universe and out.
  • Odd Friendship: Tiffany, the strip's resident Alpha Bitch and cheerleader was best buds with Perky Goth Crystal. It helped that Tiffany was oblivious to most of Crystal's insults.
  • Ominous Adversarial Amusement: T.J. grins at Ann Eiffel before telling her that her incriminating admissions (which she thought she had erased) had been backed up elsewhere.
  • Only Friend: TJ is Brad's, and vice-versa. Mostly because nobody else in the strip (other than 6-year-old Shannon) likes TJ, but him and Brad are inseparable and nobody wants to befriend Brad if it means having to put up with TJ as well.
  • Out of Focus: There was a major reduction in stories centered on Brad and Toni once they finally got married. Since then, they've mainly been a vehicle for keeping Shannon in the strip (they spend so much time watching her that she has her own bedroom).
  • Overprotective Dad: Frank became this when Luann's relationship with Quill began to get much more serious than any of her past flings.
  • Panty Shot: Luann herself has been seen at least once in her underwear.
    • Implied: In a story of a school rehearsal for the show "West Side Story," the girls are supposed to have on black leotards under their skirts for a big dance number. Tiffany is called out for showing off red, lacy panties.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: After Brad, Toni, and TJ learn that Dirk is their new garbage man, Brad and TJ hire the cheapest actress they can find — Tiffany — to convince Dirk that Toni moved away. It doesn't work (they fail to take into account that maybe Toni would've taken her stuff with her if she moved) but Dirk says he gets it and won't bother them anymore.
  • Parental Abandonment: Most characters' parents aren't shown; but are often mentioned. However; TJ's parents are never shown nor mentioned, until 2008 when he heavily implies that they might have abandoned him. Later confirmed.
  • Pet the Dog: Tiffany in high school was a complete Alpha Bitch. Yet there were moments where she actually does appear to be nice to others. Among these include helping Gunther with his design, trying to hook up a couple teachers together for the heck of it, and later on, volunteering to help pay for Delta to go on the class trip to D.C. In the case of the latter, she agrees to let people dunk her so they can see her wet, but leaves because the water is "too cold", essentially sabotaging the fundraiser. A few strips later, she walks back in having found another option to pay for it, while stating she felt guilty.
    • Dirk even gets one.
  • Perky Goth: New Agey-type Crystal, a tertiary classmate of Luann and the others, occasionally fits this, but is often rather bitchy and sardonic as well. Essentially, the "Goth" look is merely a costume.
  • Perpetual Smiler: TJ
  • Positive Discrimination: Delta, the only black cast member, is of course one of the smartest and most level-headed of the entire group. In a cast where every other character has a swack of flaws, she only has the flaw of being a workaholic perfectionist. It landed her in the hospital once, but is pretty much the kind of "fake insult" someone would give at a job interview.
    • Her friends think she's too much of a goody two-shoes, though, and preachy to boot. Whether we're supposed to agree with them or not is not clear. Evans has since admitted that Delta's lack of flaws made her too hard to write for, and so she eventually left the strip.
  • Progressively Prettier: Brad, originally very cartoonish and round (though not as much as his father), shifted to a slightly-more in-shape character with a less comically-round head (ie. he has a jawline!). Part of this is also in-character, as Brad got in better shape and cleaned up once he decided to become a firefighter. Many female characters went through the Art Evolution by gaining thinner physiques with feminine curves (instead of portly cartoonish bodies), such as Luann and her mom.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: The July 2013 strips where Quill finally tells Tiffany to back off of him... In the middle of a dress rehearsal. No one calls Quill on his inappropriate behavior, even though we don't know if any of the other drama campers know him or Tiff or the history between them, so for all they know Quill just threw a tantrum on stage for little reason.
  • Put on a Bus: Aaron Hill, a rare major character example, having moved away, once the love triangle story got tired. Odd for such a major part of the strip. It also happens to a lot of the replacements for Aaron over the years, as various new love interests show up, allow Luann to obsess over them for a while, and then vanish. A few other characters like Zane, Elwood and Fay have vanished without a trace after a particular storyline focusing on them has ended.
    • In a move that no one (everyone) predicted, Quill had to suddenly move back to Australia as soon as he and Luann decided to start a real relationship and stop worrying about him suddenly moving back to Australia. And then Luann's dad had to be a massive jerk and rub it in with Australia jokes not even an hour after Quill's plane left.
    • The Bus Came Back: In a move that no one really did predict, Quill continued to court Luann over cellphones and laptops, and he eventually returned to keep up his relationship with Luann, moving in with Gunther and his mom.
    • Delta went off to attend college in the east and hasn't been seen or mentioned since November 2014.
    • Quill is Put Back on The Bus after his breakup with Luann on Valentine's Day 2016.
    • Bernice spent months (in-universe) obsessing over the handsome Piro, even going so far as to abuse her position as RA in order to dig up information about him. Then he finally kisses her, but Bernice admits to her roommate the next day that she felt no "sparks" from it, and we haven't seen or heard anything from Piro since.
    • Crystal and Knute were Demoted to Extra after high school, and eventually stopped appearing in the strip altogether.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Bernice's Long Lost Sibling was based directly on the child Evans and his wife (then girlfriend) gave up in college, and reconnected with.
    • The events of September 11th 2001 inspired Brad to become a firefighter.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Possibly Dirk, who claims he found Jesus when he was imprisoned for beating Brad and will be leaving town (Brad gets the feeling he's dying; readers think he's joining the priesthood). It doesn't help that the characters find out about this when they discover he's working as a garbage man on the same block as the DeGroots and Toni. Even when he saves Mrs. DeGroot after a bookshelf falls on her she refers to him as a "creepy, evil superhero".
    • Dirk's latest appearance showed that he is now happily married with a child, which quickly led to a...
  • Relationship Upgrade: Brad crushed openly on Toni Daytona upon meeting her, but couldn't win her away from her then jerky boyfriend, Dirk. It would take years of storylines for them to eventually start dating once she lost Dirk. It took longer still for them to get more than a handful of playful kisses. Finally, Toni admitted she loves Brad, and a few strips made it relatively obvious they were sexually active. Thanks to a surprise run in by Toni with a reformed Dirk, she has finally accepted Brad's marriage proposal.
    • Luann and Quill, who had put off having a relationship for years (in real-time) in fear that he'd suddenly have to move back to Australia. Guess what happened next (literally right after they had their first kiss together): Quill's father calls to say that they're moving back, and he has to come home immediately as they only have a short time to pack.
      • Though he eventually returned and they resumed their relationship until breaking up on Valentine's Day 2016.
    • Gunther and Rosa.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Aaron Hill, who often shows little physical attraction in anyone.
    • Which is odd, because there was a really weird story arc the end of which revealed that the "Gunther" Luann had spent most of the arc interacting with had been Aaron in disguise (possibly collaborating with the real Gunther — it was years ago) in an effort to get Luann to think past physical appearances now and again. Rather than cottoning to the lesson, Luann asked to "try on Gunther" (Aaron's mask).
    • Quill ended up being even blander than Aaron, with his main personality traits being that he was handsome... and Australian. He ended up developing a passion for theater, but then Luann dumped him for focusing too much on his career instead of her.
    • Both of Bernice’s major love interests, Zane and Piro. Made evident by the fact that each of them vanished from the strip altogether the second Bernice was done with them, as they had no personality or function other than serving as her object of obsession.
    • Ben York. Once Luann stopped having a crush on him he vanished without a trace, despite being Bernice’s long-lost brother and therefore having a reason to stick around. Thicker Than Water does not apply in this universe, apparently.
  • Save the Villain: In one arc, Brad had to apply CPR to Dirk after Dirk's car crashed, Dirk having disabled his airbag and neglected to wear his seat belt while chasing Brad and Toni. (And Dirk didn't learn - that time.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • Shortly after Calvin and Hobbes ended one strip had Luann and Delta riding down a hill in a red wagon. In the first panel, Delta asks, "We're not going to flying off a cliff are we?" Of course they do.
    • In the week leading up to Peanuts final comic. Luann pretty much visited Charlie Brown's neighborhood and basically tried to reenact several of his famous scene as a cute little send off. The Sunday strip of that week, which focused back on the current story arc, even had a poster of Charlie Brown in the background.
  • The Shrink: Miss Phelps falls under the "Well-Meaning, But Dopey And Ineffective" category. As the high school guidance counselor she's regularly described as inept, by both Word of God as well as the other characters. After the cast graduates she becomes a therapist and is shown as being just as terrible at that job.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: For years, almost every character in the strip was willing to take Tiffany's crap. Quill, however, would not. In July of 2013, after her latest attempt to make Luann jealous, he told her off in the most direct way possible.
  • Sibling Rivalry: A major part of the strip for years, with Brad and Luann's constant arguing and harassing each other.
  • Sinister Shades: Toni's thuggish ex-boyfriend Dirk is always depicted wearing these.
  • Slasher Smile: When Frank asks Nancy if she could've at least smiled at Toni during Thanksgiving, she breaks into one of these (actually more akin to 4chan's "Cool/Troll Face"). Frank concedes that it's probably better that she doesn't.
  • Slut-Shaming: Tiffany tends to get this from Luann a lot; the go-to insult is some variation on "Tiffany is dating the entire football team." Interestingly enough, Tiffany has less sexual experience than Luann or any of her friends; she's never had a boyfriend or even properly kissed anyone (she gave one person a quick peck on the mouth and another a peck on the cheek, but that's it.) Doesn't stop Luann from constantly implying that Tiffany is the village bicycle though, even after Tiffany receives some Character Development and becomes friendlier with the main characters.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Vanity, thy name is Tiffany Farrell.
  • Smug Snake: Ann Eiffel is a textbook example.
  • The Snack Is More Interesting: A non-food variant: Tiffany is constantly shown touching up her makeup during conversations instead of giving the other person her full attention, just to emphasize what a shallow Alpha Bitch she is. This trait of hers has seen less use since she entered college and gained some Character Development.
  • Special Guest: Clay Aiken, Jay Leno, Ben Affleck, Hugh Hefner, President Barack Obama, Luke Perry, Bill Gates, and Ricky Martin have all made cameo appearances in the strip.
  • Spit Take: Bernice does one after hearing that Brad's boss at Weenie World is Ann Eiffel, her old bad boss at Borderline Books.
  • Spoiled Brat: Shannon is a Downplayed Example. Her father leaves her with Toni every chance he gets, and since Toni is an Extreme Doormat in regards to her brother and niece she just lets the kid do whatever she wants. As a result, Shannon has become fairly well-behaved over time... but only because everyone caters to her whims. The few times she doesn't get her way she throws a massive tantrum, but all the adults in the strip merely grit their teeth and suffer through it (or simply cave in to her) rather than admonish or discipline her. So it's downplayed in that nowadays she only acts like a brat during those times where she's not being spoiled.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: After 2001, Brad started playing a much more major role in the strip, leading to several case(s) wherein weeks would pass and the titular character doesn't even appear. However, the Brad shown after 2000 is NOT the same Brad seen in the 80s and 90s.
    • Granted, Brad-centric arc(s) had existed before the 00s, but they became much more common after Brad started training to be a firefighter.
  • Stepford Smiler: Possible that TJ may be a male example.
  • Stillborn Franchise: In-universe example with the Elwood-backed Eyes Of Zeye movie which Tiffany auditions for (she eventually gets a very small role which lands on the cutting room floor, but she does get to model as Zeye at the screening); it previews so disastrously — in addition to the implications of a Troubled Production — that it's immediately shelved.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Whenever Aaron Hill moves out of the picture (moves away or just has a falling out with Luann), there will be some other new boy. A lifeguard (who turns out to be married) or an exchange student (who eventually moves back), or something like that. Luann is simply incapable of not obsessing over some boy.
    • Quill, an Australian transfer student, was Aaron's replacement in terms of looks and attractiveness. He was also the closest to starting a real relationship with Luann, and almost immediately put on a plane back to Australia the minute they started kissing. They did become a couple when he returned to the States and started living at Gunther's house.
  • Take Back Your Gift: When Quill and Luann started becoming serious as a couple (and while he was still worried about suddenly being called back to Australia) he gave her a necklace with a boomerang pendant, signifying in his words "I'll always come back to you." When she later broke up with him he insisted that she'd eventually be back, to which she responded by throwing the necklace in his face and walking out the door.
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Most male characters other than Aaron Hill are given dots for eyes, big round noses and simplistically-shaped bodies. The women almost always have full figures, pouty lips, droopy/sexy eyes, etc. Unusually, Luann herself doesn't share this, having a big round head and nose with a line for a mouth.
  • This Loser Is You: Luann is depicted as a bit of an every-teen, which apparently makes her self-centered, insecure, lazy, messy, nosy, indecisive, competitive, arrogant, inconsiderate and somewhat dimwitted, not to mention with a swack of body issues. Which is, of course, pretty accurate for a lot of teenagers.
  • The Glasses Gotta Go: Gunther.
  • Tiny Schoolboy: Elwood. Even with his gigantic pompadour, he barely reaches Luann's shoulder (and Luann is of average height).
  • Token Minority: Two of them. Friend Delta James is black (which never plays into her character at all), and Zane, Bernice's wheelchair-bound crush.
    • For a while, there used to be a foreign exchange student from Spain named Miguel, who was depicted as Ambiguously Brown.
    • Rosa, the girl who won the school beauty pageant, is not only pretty but (for some reason) attracted to Gunther. Gunther, who's been attracted to Luann (for some reason) for so long, has no idea what to think. They eventually became an Official Couple but later broke up.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: TJ fulfills this role with Brad. He has gotten Brad into trouble with his borderline illegal schemes and other inappropriate behavior. However, he has done other things that were nice, and it's been implied he has Parental Abandonment issues... doesn't justify the borderline illegal schemes, though.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Frank and Nancy DeGroot, Luann's parents, qualify because of Tertiary Sexual Characteristics (she has eyelashes, lipstick and a feminine physique, while he is pudgy, bald with a big cartoony nose and dots for eyes). But the crown of this trope definitely goes to Brad and eventual wife Toni Daytona, for similar reasons, but also the sheer unreal beauty Toni's given beyond just lipstick and eyeliner. She's tall, thin, pouty-lipped and droopy-eyed beyond every other character, and Brad until recently has been a cartoonishly pudgy guy with a big round head and "scribble hair".
    • Actually gender-switched with Luann and Aaron Hill slightly, as she more resembles the males in terms of cartoonish features for the most part (unless she dolls herself up), and he's a stereotypical dewey, flaxen-haired teen idol look-alike.
  • Weight Woe: Tiffany gains a lot of weight in college, mainly due to unhappiness with her home life stemming from Parental Neglect. It gets so bad that she starts taking all of her courses online so she won't have to leave her dorm room.
  • We Will Meet Again: After T.J. got Ann Eiffel out of her job at Weenie World, her parting words were "You haven't seen the last of me!" It would take a while, but she returned to the strip in 2017.
  • Wham Line: "Tiffany, have you ever had a boyfriend? A real one?" (she confirms the impact three strips later to Crystal)
  • With Friends Like These...: Luann occasionally enters into this territory with Bernice and Delta (especially Bernice, who usually gets the last word).
  • Wrench Wench: Toni, in addition to being gorgeous, is idealized further by Brad upon discovering she's as into cars as he is, and works on them. He may have won her over a bit initially with his "is it hot in here?" to her "first-time" story of rebuilding a carb.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: When he was first starting to court Toni, Brad got her to agree to meet him at an auto show, but when he got there, he freaked out and left without meeting her when he saw her with a handsome guy. Toni later explained the guy was her brother. Then Brad got to meet for the first time Toni's real boyfriend, Dirk.
  • You Just Told Me: This is how Luann found out that Tiffany was the anonymous student who recorded her teachers dancing on chaperone duty during the dance, as she "claimed credit" for it to see her reaction. After Tiffany blurted out that she did it and not Luann, Luann quipped that her tricking her was very easy.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: