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Crapsack World / Webcomics

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  • In 8-Bit Theater, the characters are all stupid and/or evil, kingdoms are completely obliterated on a daily basis, and even the man who controls the universe will wipe out cities in the process of tormenting Black Mage.
    • On the plus side, every single problem in the above list can be solved through vigorous usage of animal husbandry.
    • For another good description of that webcomic's world, see this post from the website's forum.
    • Word of God also said that if any faction wins, the villains win.
  • Alternia is basically what happens when every dystopian cliche in the book is used by a society of Bee People. People hatch from eggs laid by a Mother Grub (Hive Queen) and are immediately subjected to life or death trials. Those who fail are eaten. Those who succeed enter a society where friendship is an alien concept, psychopathy is the norm, mass murder is completely socially acceptable, the health care system works by executing people with health defects and in courts the word "defence" is offensive and there's a death penalty for everything. The only acceptable emotions are hate and pity, and people are expected to form romantic relationships based on these emotions: not screwing your archnemesis is punishable by death. Oh, and the entire adult population is off fighting interstellar wars, leaving the planet in the care of children.
    • As if that wasn't enough, all Trolls are nocturnal because they are burned by sunlight and during the day the surface is roamed by zombies and monsters. And did we mention the part where the princess has to take care of an Eldritch Abomination that, unless fed, will cause a psychic shockwave that kills every Troll in the universe?
      • Of course, the whole thing was socially engineered from the start by a Magnificent Bastard with similarities to the Devil specifically to be the worst sack of crap ever, so it stands to reason.
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    • There's also post-Reckoning Earth, a lifeless desert populated by a handful of alien nomads, where finding food is an accomplishment worth celebrating.
    • Post-Scratch Earth is even worse. It starts off as a dystopia where every aspect of life is run by a Mega-Corp headed by the former Troll Empress that uses methods like subliminal messaging and assassination to maintain control. Then the control becomes much less subtle: the Condesce declares herself Empress of Earth and, just for shits and giggles, appoints the Insane Clown Posse as co-presidents of the USA and Guy Fieri as Supreme Justice, and lets them slowly cause the collapse of civilization and kill off two thirds of the population of the planet in bizarre and ridiculous ways, all the while conducting destructive social and biological experiments on humanity to try to recreate the now-extinct Trolls, before giving up and causing a global flood.
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    • Beforus, otherwise known as Pre-Scratch Alternia turns out to have been something of a Crapsaccharine World; the long-lived coldbloods are the only ones in positions of authority, and are expected to care for the warmbloods. Short-lived warmbloods and coldbloods with even the slightest disability (such as a lack of sense of smell) are adopted by coldbloods and coddled excessively, and never permitted to amount to anything useful.
    • Hell, Homestuck is pretty much a Crapsack Multiverse made of Crapsack Universes filled with Crapsack Worlds: The supreme beings in the setting are completely passive force and a horde of Lovecraft-inspired Eldritch Abominations, the reality-warping video game the plot revolves around inevitably wipes out all life on the players home planet just to start. And if you don't win, you either die or spend eternity alone in a tiny pocket dimension. And there are some games that are inevitably lost because of fate. All that horrifyingly traumatic shit you went through? Completely futile, because THE UNIVERSE LITERALLY HATES YOU. When one of the two sets of protagonists did win and create a new universe it turned out to be flawed at a fundamental level, a cosmic sickness which manifested itself by corrupting the course of that universe's Game Session, creating a superpowered Omnicidal Maniac who ended up destroying both universes, which, along with every other bad thing that happened in the story, including the creation of the aforementioned Crapsack Worlds was part of a multiverse-spanning Xanatos Gambit to summon an AN EVEN MORE POWERFUL OMNICIDAL MANIAC, who is now rampaging through the cosmos destroying EVERYTHING. And the bad guys can't lose, because they have fate on their side.
    • Even said Omnicidal Maniac is only that powerful because of the game itself. As a reward for purposefully making his session nearly impossible and winning anyway, the game turned him into a Physical God compared to the actual physical gods.
  • Concession: Joel randomly shoots up the crowd in the lobby and his boss's only comment is "How long are you going to keep this up? It's making a mess." They kidnap and torture the health inspector and are never punished. Kate keeps a harem of small children and nobody arrests her, and shady corporations seem to run everything.
  • Cry 'Havoc' exists in a pretty bleak world. Humanity has been fighting constant low intensity wars for the last six centuries, and are quickly approaching the point that humanities survival is a low probability. Colonialism has ravaged most if not all of the old world, and the new world is hinted at being worse off. And on top of all that, a monstrous race of werewolves has been brought back from extinction. (an extinction that required a decades long war, and the loss of over two thirds of Europe's population to enact)
  • A comedic example in Cyanide & Happiness. Rarely does a strip go by without a person dying or doing/saying something digusting.
  • Death in the world of The Next Reaper is not nice, and there's no life left. God has grown tired of our shit, and turned their metaphysical back on humanity. Saint Peter is under orders of not letting anyone into heaven, and the Devil is pretty pissed at the big man upstairs, and refuses to let in any more souls himself. The embodiment of life has gone of the deep end, and Death is the only one still doing his job, though having to reap the frankly ludicrous amount of souls that wander the earth is straining him to his limits. The souls that aren't taken care of eventually merge together to form physical manifestations of the Seven deadly sins, who have declared themselves the new gods of this world. The almighty creator is doing what he can, but he's not overly concerned about the state of the world.
  • Demon Eater. It's literally a dog-eat-dog world, for there is nothing else to eat.
  • Flatwood. The light has long gone from the world, and bad things happen to good people. Oh, and you're dead. (Webcomic strongly based on Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy and biblical lore, with Body Horror monsters.)
  • Follower: Unemployment is up, the military is cracking down on dissent, and the internet has been shutdown via kill-switch. Things aren't looking too good for the U.S. and the rest of the world is implied to be doing just as bad.
  • Garfield Minus Garfield: Without Garfield, Jon Arbuckle's life suddenly becomes a story filled with existential angst, depression, and loneliness.
  • Though it's kind of passed over by the story's focus, the world of Girl Genius really is one of these, especially when the Fridge Horror sets in. As one tagline proudly proclaims: "Mad Scientists rule the world. Badly." The world's ruling caste include both squabbling power-grabbing nobles (there's an off-hand mention to a dynasty called the Polar Lords, who have a tax placed on fire),and mad scientists known as "Sparks", who have created a world crawling with Steampunk, Diesel Punk and even some Bio Punk creations. The thing is, not only do the nobles and Spark families overlap (negating a possibility of power balance), the Sparks are all too often directly motivated to use these skills & creations to abuse and control others. The Spark comes hand in hand with a Science-Related Memetic Disorder, which also induces a tendency to slip into "The Madness Place", an altered state of mind in which creativity and skill are enhanced by sacrificing sanity, as well as giving a general difficulty in resisting the lure to do something For Science! even if it's obvious that it would be a bad idea. So, Sparks tend to end up dead at the hands of one of their own creations, often one that has Gone Horribly Right or Gone Horribly Wrong — which may well have wreaked havoc o n the world around it before its transmutation and/or will continue to do so after its master is gone. Sparks also have severe problems seeing others as human beings; it's too easy for them to see people as nothing but components in their latest invention.
    • And that's ignoring the fact that the railway networks of Europe are under the control of a religious order who were the only ones who could provide the necessary stability, that rampaging mad science things are a fact of life outside the cities, the greatest heroes to ever walk the Earth are gone as if swallowed by the ground, that a recent war launched by some sort of time-travelling formerly-human abomination has killed off forty-seven of the fifty major noble houses and the only reason anything survived is an iron-fisted dictator. And once the dictator is forced to remove himself from the scene, everything instantly falls apart again.
  • Gone with the Blastwave, where an endless war is fought for no discernible reason, with its effects having reduced a city of huge size to ruins. Also, the militaries are apparently mostly filled-with incompetents and actually receiving support, or even knowing where you are in the damned city, is seen as a miracle.
  • I'm the Grim Reaper: The world the characters live in is not kind, with Scarlet seeing sinners everywhere. We get to see three murderers up close, and only over a few days.
  • Kubera: You have immortal gods on one side, powerful sura on the other, and poor humans caught in the middle. Whole worlds have been destroyed by their feuds.
  • Pharaos City in Lightbringer while under control of Slavers gang. They were a powerful criminal organization that could kidnap anyone from anywhere and auctioned their victims off to any pervert, pimp, or madman who had enough cash. Even the police could not help. Slavers were so powerful their lesser rank members could walk the streets with a girl chained like a dog and everybody was too scared to do anything about it.
  • In Luminary Children, Earth is basically a planet full of slums, children are killed on the street and a corrupt government controls the universe.
  • Night Terror: The Nightmarescape is definitely this trope. Nothing but an empty, barren void with the occasional floating island. The only inhabitants are the Phobias, and their creator, the Boogeyman.
  • Romantically Apocalyptic. The world After the End is surprisingly boring and desolate, with mutant monsters being few and far between. All you have is the ruined city, its skeletal occupants, and your own imagination to keep you occupied in the search for resources. However, when monsters do show up...
    • The world before the apocalypse was this as well. Everything was controlled by the GOOD Directorate, inc., who even copyrighted sleep. If you were part of the 1% who couldn't to the neural network with your mind, you were pretty much locked out of everything. Outside protector city domes, the environment was in a rapid state of decline, but no one really seemed to care. In fact, the directorate made a profit out of tours into the dead zones.
  • Silver Bullet Nights is about monsters hunting each other in alley-ways, low rent motels and abandoned movie theaters. One of the main characters, Donovan, lives on the streets. It's a tough world, even for supernatural creatures.
  • In Sinfest,
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • The Dimension of Pain: The demons there, who have turned the dimension into a desolate wasteland, are eternally bored out of their skulls because they have no mortals left to torment, and if any mortal should find their way there, guess what happens?
    • The Oceans Unmoving sci-fi storyline featured a universe so bleak that individuals on their own could hardly survive. Not to mention that the leader of the pirates is Bun-bun the rabbit, a sadistic psychopathic knife-wielding Villain Protagonist. Any world where Bun-bun thrives must be a sad desolate hate-filled place.
    • If you think that's bad, there's 4U City. A dystopia in an alternative universe, where people are constantly drugged to keep them happy, and anyone deemed even slightly threatening to the order is "judged" (i.e. sent to a random dimension). Outside the one city, everything in the world has been wiped out and there are nothing but roaming hordes of mutants constantly being sent in by being randomly sent out from other similar universes with parallel histories.
  • In The Snail Factory nearly everyone is physically monstrous and at least somewhat psychologically deranged. It ranges from selfishly or ignorantly apathetic, to sadistic and murderous. The workplace itself is also hazardous on many levels and the employees are regularly repressed by extremely harsh (and often incompetent) managerial policies.
  • Something*Positive is set in a world where every person is generally petty, greedy, self-centered, stupid and/or passive-aggressively oblivious.
  • String Theory: Megacorporations run rampant, people living off the grid are hunted by the government and thrown in prison, much of the United States is a radioactive dust bowl, Chicago is a quarantine zone devoid of human life but filled with fungus zombies, the list goes on.
  • Suicide for Hire. A couple of goth friends, Hunter Ravenwood (The fox and hedonist) and Arcturus Winrock (The mouse, and only one with morals), sick of the moronic world they live in, and the idiotic populace that inhabits it, decide to open up a business, in which they assist the moronic teen populace with their demise in creative and gruesome ways, and profit from this "business". In this world, guns are sold by indifferent clerks, shanking hobos is a sport, Pizza deliverymen sell Black Market weapons, and a rash of teen deaths is unheralded and unreported by the news. Watch out for the Happy Gun Dance!
  • The continent that Twokinds takes place on is in the middle of a massive war that has taken countless lives and is fueled by magic slavery. The humans are Knight Templar purge fanatics, the Keidran infight and enslave each other so much that humanity took notes, and the Basitins — the only people who could affect a change in the war — are xenophobic isolationists (and have recently lost most of their major civilian and military leaders). The main characters would under regular circumstances would be leading their respective factions to war against each other, and one of them is starting to have aspects of his murderous alter-ego (who started the war in the first place) become more and more prevalent. The "gods" that watch over this world are sadistic parasites that refuse to stop the war or outright encourage it as it represents their own power struggles to become the one Top God. You know it's a Crapsack World when, out of the nicer characters in the comic, one is a literal slave trader and another is implied to suffer from depression due to her... peculiarities and differences. As in, having an as-of-current-events poorly controlled shape-shifting capability, that was suppressed by her mother due to the racism of the setting, and terrified that she might be killed as a result.
  • Ugly Hill takes place in a world where everyone is literally a monster, and quite a few of them are monsters in the figurative sense. The main characters include Eli Kilgore, a likable but shiftless Unlucky Everydude; Snug, Eli's even-more-shiftless and much-less-likeable friend; and Hastings, Eli's overbearing workaholic brother with high blood pressure and a string of failed marriages.
  • The Daemonslayers.....just....The Daemonslayers. Seriously, the universe that Blackjack and his friends inhabit is so intent on screwing them over that one wonders if it was the aborted twin to the Warhammer fantasy. Just to put this in perspective, the protagonist Blackjack was an accursed black dragon who was stripped of his memories and true form by the demon queen Shine and forced into fighting as a general in her demonic armies to claim dominion of his own home of Tymaera for the forces of chaos. When the spell was not perfect enough, Shrine had a demoness further break his mind into serving her utterly. In addition, when Blackjack was a black dragon, he seized control of a broken human empire and entire continent of Caevalonia and made it last under his horrible rule for centuries before disappearing into hibernation (where he became vulnerable to the Demon Queen's curse). AND HE'S STILL A FREAKIN WOOBIE!
  • Weapon Brown. A post-apocalyptic wasteland populated mutants and cannibals, where the last dregs of civilization (if you can call it that) are ruled by a tyrannical syndicate and the only way to live free is to be a cold-blooded killer for hire. Food reserves are running so low that the syndicate has seriously considered cannibalism as a way of keeping the public supplied with enough food to prevent a total collapse of order. Oh and the entire cast are reimagined versions of syndicated comic strip characters, which somehow makes the place even creepier.
    • And there are places in the world of Weapon Brown that are even worse than that: "Shoulda done a tour in the Wastes, kid. After watching a man and a woman come to blows over which of them will get to eat their baby, nothing much surprises you."
  • John Kossler, author of The Word Weary, states in the comments section of this issue that the philosophy of his comic is "when it rains, it pours and also you get struck by lightning and one of the paramedics who revives you steals your shoes."


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