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Fanfic / God Save the Esteem

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"Gahdamnit Daria, your mother just suggested you get a piercing – suggested!"
Jake "The Snake" Morgendorffer

A wildly popular Daria fanfic series by Charles RB that grew out of a joke post in a discussion thread about what the show would be like if it were set in the present day instead of The '90s.

For all her vaunted unconventionality, one thing about Daria that was very typical of teenagers in the 1990s was her parents: a pair of over-stressed working professionals who had, of course, been hippies in their youth before inevitably selling out.

What happens if you move the setting about a decade and a half forward, into The New '10s? New Age Retro Hippies aside, Jake and Helen are going to need a new counterculture phenomenon to dive headfirst into. That phenomenon: Hardcore Punk.

Now what happens if you subtract the whole selling out thing?

God Save The Esteem happens, that's what.

This isn't the only thing that's changed, of course. Quinn is still just as cliquey and attention-whoring as ever, only now that she's been molded in "Jake The Snake" & "Hellion Wheels"' graven image she leads Lawndale High's resident gang of Delinquents and makes it her mission in life to stick it to The Man wherever he's found (as long as she can look cool doing it). Tom Sloane and his sister Elsie are attending Lawndale High as well, the family fortune not quite up to the task of paying for a fancy prep school amid the ongoing collapse of Western Civilization. Aunt Amy is a tabloid TV reporter and object of a much more visibly bi-curious Jane Lane's nervous affections. Principal Li is even more insane and fascistic than before thanks to post-9/11 paranoia.

And Daria? She's still the same Deadpan Snarker we all know and love.

Between dating Tom Sloane, putting up with her family, and navigating the unholy new social order at Lawndale High, Daria's life is... interesting, in the "may you live" sense.

Has a prequel, Moving Pictures, revolving around Helen and Amy's childhood. Later chapters are also punctuated by short "Meanwhile, Sideways in Time" segments, featuring an Alternate Universe where "Dire Daria" is a punk but everyone else is normal. The main fanfic also has pages on the Daria Wiki, found here.

God Save the Esteem provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Dumbass: Quinn is a lot less intelligent than in the series, even struggling with reading.
  • Adaptation Name Change: Aside from all the punk nicknames, Guy Fawkes Day becomes Bonfire Night.note 
  • Alpha Bitch: Sandi and the other popular girls play this straighter than in canon, going after Daria instead of just bickering amongst each other.
  • Alternate Universe: To Daria itself, of course, but also the "Meanwhile, Sideways in Time" segments, which feature "Dire Daria" in an otherwise normal version of Lawndale.
  • Amazon Chaser: In this universe, Joey and Jeffy are not interested in "Killer" Quinn. Jamie, however, still is.
    • As with some Daria fanfics, Vitale is attracted to Helen, being particularly drawn by her aggressive demeanor. Even after she headbutts him for coming onto her.
    • Amusingly, Eric Schrecter has zero interest in this Helen. Could be in part because Quinn keeps blowing up his car...
  • Amicable Exes: Jane and Tom, broken up before the series starts.
  • Amoral Attorney: Pretty much all the lawyers except for Helen, and especially Jim Vitale, an oft-used Fanon character.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: All of Lawndale breaks out into a massive block party after Principal Li is fired as part of the grade fixing scandal.
  • Artifact Title: The title is a pun on the first episode of the TV series, Esteemsters, but in this version Daria is never sent to the self-esteem class.
  • Asshole Victim: In the adaptation of the wedding episode, the minister once again hits on Quinn. This time around, she quickly catches on and, after getting him to admit he wants to shag her, promptly kicks his ass.
  • The Atoner: Granny Barksdale. Maybe.
    • Daria herself after she realizes the full consequences of all the trouble she's caused for the school.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Prior to the start of the series, Helen presents herself to Eric Schrecter as a hard working overachiever who would be open to the prospect of an affair to further her career. On her first day, she walked into the office wearing her punk attire, announced that she would only work normal business hours, and was happily married. Schrecter ended up breaking her contract and firing her, giving her a settlement that was sufficient for the family to purchase their home.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: The normally demure Stacy has one alter who's a violence-loving punk and another who's a crazed vigilante based on the Slasher villain of a different, horror-themed fanfic.
    • Brittany, of all people, who the other school athletics types had to keep distracted to prevent her from blowing the whistle on their first attempt on Daria's life is actually leading them in the second after the school gets closed down.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Used frequently for comedic effect, such as when Mr. Mackenzie sets a fire on fire or when Jake falls over despite having already fallen.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: While this Sandi Griffin is considerably more vicious, bullying and even violent than her original series version, she's still just as incompetent as she ever was.
  • Bitter Wedding Speech: Erin, at her own (ruined) wedding.
  • Bizarro Episode: This was pretty much the first series rewrite to actually adapt "Depth Takes a Holiday."
  • Blood Knight: All the Morgendorffers, bar Daria love getting into violent drunken brawls, but Killer Quinn is particularly enthusiastic when it comes to fighting.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "Quinn had watched some of Aunt Amy's movie collection and everything about this place screamed serial killers or aliens or ghosts or serial aliens that were ghosts would attack."
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall/Medium Awareness: Played for Laughs during "Punk Takes a Holiday", where Daria basically states that they are going to forget that the episode happened.
    "Don't worry," said Daria. "This has been such a bizarre and uncharacteristic thing to happen to us, I'm sure that when we get home we're going to deliberately forget this whole affair and any ramifications from it, and never mention it ever again." Daria turned to her readers. "And the same goes for all of YOU at home."
  • Broken Pedestal: You think Amy got it bad in "Aunt Nauseum" you ain't seen nothing yet.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Jake calls out his father twice for his treatment of Daria and that's why he won't let him anywhere near Daria or Quinn.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Kicks in around episode 13 or thereabouts.
    • Seen in particular with Stacy in "Epic F Word." After so long of her multiple personalities being played purely for laughs, it's quite jarring to see her reach the breaking point and suffer a nervous breakdown which is treated with dead seriousness.
  • Character Development: Daria's character arc gets some interesting tweaks from the original. While Canon!Daria gradually learns to let her hard-edged, cynical mask down a bit, many people complained it made her seem too vulnerable compared to the more unflappable persona from earlier episodes (though we do get plenty of hints she's hiding some pretty serious insecurities early on). Mr. RB takes full advantage of hindsight with this and makes Daria's issues a bit more explicit from the get-go so he can spend the rest of the series building her up into the kind of woman Season 1!Daria pretended to be.
  • Character Exaggeration: While Canon!Jane was only energetic and silly in comparison to Daria (and really, who isn't?), GStE!Jane is considerably more manic, often to the point of Cloud Cuckoolander-dom.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Toyed with. When Daria performs CPR on Jake each action is spelled out, including each chest compression counted individually. However, there are none of the usual side effects, i.e. broken ribs and vomiting.
  • Crossover Ship: Aunt Amy and Dallas from Beavis And Butthead DoAmerica.
  • Curse Cut Short: Daria, when confronted with the Gupty children, declared "Oh fff-antastic".
  • The Cutie: This role is given to Cindy Brolsma, a backgrounder from the show who looks somewhat like a slightly chubby, more serene-looking version of Daria. She eventually rises to become the most popular girl in school after the cheerleaders and girls sports' teams are laid low by the grade-fixing scandal and the Fashion and Glee clubs mutually destroy each other by spreading rumors about the other side having STDs.
  • Darker and Edgier: Not to excess but the lack of network censors certainly ups the amount of transgressive subject matter that can be explored and the physical and emotional stakes are often higher than the original. One notable thing is that while the school jocks were merely unpleasant in canon, after Daria exposes the grade fixing scheme she becomes a target of actual violence and it's entirely possible they might have killed her and Jane on the rooftop if Quinn and the Maleficent Eleven hadn't intervened.
    • Hotter and Sexier. Unlike in the canon series, Daria and Tom actually do the deed...and on a regular basis too.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Oh, Amy...
    • Any of Mad Dog's descendants qualify, really. Except for Killer Quinn.
  • Death by Adaptation: Ms. Li, who may or may not have met her end at the hands of Metalmouth.
    • Todd Ianuzzi also gets run over by a train while running from Jake and Helen when they try to collect the $300 he owes them.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Daria in Episode 40.
  • Dissimile / Metaphorgotten: Inverted often for comedic effect:
    "...sang Jake and Angier as they left the club, as drunk as drunks."
  • Distaff Counterpart: Monique's band, the Harpies, are clearly made up of female versions of Jesse, Max and Nick (named Jessie, Bex and Nico).
  • Distant Finale: Aside from the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, the "Meanwhile, Sideways in Time" segments end centuries in the future to reveal that Dire Daria founded a massive punk empire.
    • The epilogue chapter "Punk is Dead", set five years after "Combat Rock" features Daria returning to a punk-swarmed Lawndale for Jake's funeral.
  • Driven to Suicide: Daria decides to end it all by walking right into the Local Hangout full of students who hated her for getting the school closed and for all the other shit-stirring she'd done and letting events unfold as they may. Fortunately(?), Steve the security guard happened to walk by before they could finish her off.
    • Mr. O'Neill, upon learning how low Lawndale High's reputation (along with that of it's staff and students) had fallen, throws himself out of the window of his hotel room. Since he was in a first floor room, he survives unharmed and spends the rest of the series in a psychiatric facility.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Erin becomes a raging alky following the events of Wedding Hell.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Steve sent away the students he was meant to tutor in geography as he figured the school wouldn't want him to teach them the wrong stuff.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Quinn is shocked to find out that Slutty Girl has a name {Jackie Wentworth}.
    • Quinn comments early on that Burnout Girl's real name is unknown (later revealed to be Jennifer).
    • Played straight with Shaggy. Daria sees his name while going through student files, but never reveals it.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • "Ken Edwards radiated slime and creepiness like Chernobyl radiated... er, yeah. Daria even spotted Upchuck looking unnerved, and Upchuck had come to school with two pimp canes that day."
      • Notably, Daria and Jodie (who hate each other with a fiery passion) join forces to get rid of Edwards.
    • Murdoch, the school district's attorney is appalled upon discovering Li had cameras in the school's toilets and forces her to remove them, or she'd get arrested for filming child pornography.
  • Evil Counterpart: Jodie to Daria.
  • Full-Frontal Assault: When Homeland Security agents are sent to arrest Helen and Jake Morgendorffer because of the X5 virus, they end up encountering the two after nude tanning and get taken down.
  • Genius Bruiser: Bob, the thinking man's punk/rival to Killer Quinn.
  • Girl Posse: The Fashion Club, of course, this time with Tom's sister Elsie taking Quinn's place as Vice President and The Starscream to Sandi's Megatron.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: Jeffy is in an intimate relationship with Nerd!Stacy.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Daria created Lawndale Leaks to expose Li's corruption, and revealed the site's existence to the local news channels. She never expected that the story would be picked up by CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and Fox News, amongst other smaller news groups and spread worldwide.
    Tom:"...our school is on the news."
    Daria:"Which news network?"
    Tom:"All of them.
    • Sandi and her Fashion Fiends begin spreading rumors about the Cheerleaders to end any interest in dating them.The cheerleaders respond in kind once they learn what's going on. Eventually, due to rumors about everyone refusing to put out yet being infested with every imaginable STD, the boys stop dating all of them in favor of the one girl that hasn't been involved in the drama: Cindy Brolsma.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: "...failing that, [Quinn and Bob] resorted to using two metallers as weapons (the metallers were quite happy about this)."
    • During the Lawndale Brawl, Andrea uses a downed hockey player as a weapon. Also, Spike is mentioned as being used for a Battering Ram.
    • Let's not even try to count the number of head-butts that occur.
  • Hidden Depths: Apparently Steve has a fondness for Jonathan Joyce novels. Also, Jackie aka "Slutty Girl" runs a knitting blog.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • Robert rushes to defend Daria, even though she outed him and the rest of the football players that were getting byes, because he Wouldn't Hit a Girl and begins attacking fellow jocks who don't feel the same way.
    • Coach Nikahd won't follow an escaping Ken Edwards into the boys room, despite this being the reason he almost escapes.
  • Hope Spot: Pryzbylewski's intervention against Superintendent Pascal would have been enough to save LHS had it not been for Brittany taking a minor throwaway gag from Daria and running with it...
  • Intrepid Reporter: Aunt Amy often finds herself in perilous, though mostly just disgusting, situations in her work for Sick, Sad World.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Sloane family, though their fortunes begin to recover as time goes on.
    • The Morgendorffers, during a slump in business, although they manage to pull out of it with some good luck.
  • Incompatible Orientation: Jane and Alison, of course. Though in this version, they do sleep together.
    • As a quick gag, a minor character named Aleesha tells Daria that she would be willing to have a one-night stand. Daria declines.
    • Quinn and Bonfire Night, possibly.
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Fashion Club and the Cheerleaders spread rumors about each other that the opposing group is simultaneously completely unwilling to have sex, yet is also carrying every STD imaginable. Confronted with this paradox, the boys of the school instead start trying to woo Cindy Brolsma, the only girl in the school who is single, not a punk, and not part of the drama.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: For all his boorishness, Tommy Sherman becomes surprisingly sympathetic here with his desire to help the kids of Lawndale high have a better future than he did.
    • Likewise, DeMartino is shown to have a soft side for students like Daria who actively strive to learn. He subtly encourages her to create Lawndale Leaks by revealing his past as a neo-hippie to her.
  • Karma Houdini: Amy never gets called out on the fact that she not only knew about Erin's disintegrating relationship with Brian (as well as her affair with Andrew), but in fact gave her advice on how to ensure that the affair would end profitably for Erin. When the relationship implodes (at the wedding, no less), Amy has the gall to lay all the blame on Daria because her teenage niece didn't do anything after seeing the warning signs.
  • Kavorka Man: Cindy could be seen as a rare female example. Short, plump, slightly nerdy-looking (though intensely cute if you're into that sorta thing) and somehow nearly every boy in school is crazy about her. Cindy, for her part, is rather bemused by the whole thing.
  • Lampshade Hanging: At one point Daria notes that a good number of Quinn's gang aren't really punks, but members of other subcultures like Goths and stoners.
    • The logical and metaphysical implications of the Holidays are brought up but mostly ignored.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: Played with. While investigating the savage beating of Kevin Thompson, Daria and Cindy uncover a ring of students stealing test answers from the teachers and selling them on the black market. However, it turns out Kevin had nothing to do with that; some jock from a rival team just jumped him for fooling around with his girlfriend.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Cindy sees Tom with Astrid and assumes he's cheating on Daria. Fortunately, Daria easily explains the truth...only for their conversation to be overheard and misunderstood, setting off the rumor mill.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tone of the series can go from broad comedy to heart-wrenching angst so fast it'll make your head spin.
  • Moral Guardians: To reflect the changes in the evil forces preying on modern teens, Val is updated from a vapid plastic surgery addict pretending to be a child to a cloying, hypocritical, pseudo-religious abstinence freak.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Daria's reaction to her shit-stirring getting the school closed down.
  • Mythology Gag: A particularly creepy one appears in Daria's High Score where we learn that Daria's terrifying Slasher Smile in the black and white pilot episode Sealed With A Kick is also her O-face.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: In this version of events, Daria does not develop a crush on Trent due to her constant exposure to the musicians her parents hang out with.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer: At the end of "Live Fast Die Old", in the Next Time segment... well...:
    THE END.
    • Also done in "Punk Takes a Holiday"'s summary on the wiki:
      Things take a turn for the excessively bizarre when the physical manifestations of Saint Patrick's Day and Cupid seek out Daria to help round up some rogue holidays. (Yeah, we went there.)
  • O.C. Stand-in: As is de rigeur for Dariafic, numerous unnamed background characters gain names, personalities and some even become fairly major characters, most notably the members of Quinn's gang and Cindy Brolsma.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: While Canon!Daria had this to some degree, the severity of the meltdowns she starts having during the Grandma Barksdale arc is a pretty shocking indicator of shit getting real.
    • Stacy, having developed 5 separate personalities, has this almost everytime she appears in the story. Until she ends up playing Personality Russian Roulette and suffers a nervous breakdown.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in the case of Stacy; all of her personalities are named Stacy.
    “Does Stacy look familiar to you?” asked one soccer player to another.
    “Nah, you’re just getting her confused with Stacy cos they’re both called Stacy.”
  • Pet the Dog: The last time we see Sandi, she and the Maleficent Eleven are putting aside their differences to see Stacy in the hospital.
  • Played for Drama: While Jake's heart attack had an element of drama in canon, it was mostly Played for Laughs. Here it is treated much more seriously. Daria performing CPR is played absolutely straight, with each chest compression and breath counted out individually.
  • Professionals Do It on Desks: Andrew Landon and Erin Chambers.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Discussed between Helen and Jim Vitale—sure, he can probably beat her if their case goes to court, but a huge law firm like his having such a hard time against a single self-employed woman dressed in leather and piercings? Doesn't exactly make them look competent. Vitale sees her point and decides to settle.
  • The Quincy Punk: Killer Quinn and the rest of The Maleficent Eleven actually seem to strive to be this.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Erin in Wedding Hell... BY GOD, she dishes it out with both barrels.
    • Daria unleashes on Quinn and Shaggy during the tutoring incident. The two are so shamed by it that they actually choose to study for the upcoming tests.
  • Recursive Fanfiction: The aforementioned Moving Pictures is a semi-example, as while it is written by a different author, it's accepted as part of the canon. There are several more straight examples, though.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: "Occupational Hazard" (a parody of the Occupy Movement) is the most obvious example. The B-plot of "Dance Noon" was also inspired by an article about misogyny in the punk community.
  • Romantic False Lead: Fellow Fielding student Astrid is twice set up to appear that she is flirting with Tom, but in both cases is ends up being completely non-romantic (the first she is lost and needs directions, the second she is trying to steal Elsie's diary).
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Brittany's father bribes the judges of the art contest to give Brittany's poster a second place finish; he also gets Mr. Fuld to give Brittany a B- grade in economics by letting him come to Mr. Taylor's exclusive country club.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Jodie, defecting from Sandi's council of popular girls. She and Daria aren't friends, but she finds their plans to destroy her pointless and annoying.
    • Jodie and Daria both almost declare this concerning Lawndale High: Jodie in the wake of her parents divorce, and Daria when her grandmother tempts her with the chance to go to Fielding.
  • Serial Spouse: As in canon, Rita's implied to have been married at least twice, but Daria is surprised to learn that Amy has actually been married four times (though she prefers not to count the time when she was drunk in Vegas).
  • She's Back: The triumphant conclusion to Bearing Gifts.
  • Shaped Like Itself: The narration often does this to demonstrate a point.
  • Ship Tease: One of the aforementioned recursive fanfics was a Slash Fic that began with Jane subbing for Amy's cameraman. Guess what happens in the B-plot of Highland Lassie?
  • Shout-Out: Crawling with nods to other Daria fanworks. For instance, Jake's older sister (who never appears in the show at all but was mentioned by Word of God) has two sons named John and Finn, based on gender-swapped versions of Jane & Quinn from two other popular fanfic serials.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Instead of that wimp O'Neill, Janet Barch teams up with Mr. D for some good ol' fashioned angrysex.
  • Slapstick: Punks of both sexes have no problem beating on each other.
    • During the Lawndale Brawl, it is mentioned that violence is being inflicted with little regard for gender (the only exception being Robert and his Wouldn't Hit a Girl philosophy).
    • Subverted to Hell in "Dance Noon" when one of the misogynistic punks slaps Daria. Everyone around, including the other punks, treat it as seriously as the situation deservesnote .
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Plays it like that notorious loop de loop waterslide at Action Park.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Tommy Sherman not only survives his encounter with Daria but later becomes the school's new gym teacher. Can't win 'em all, eh, Daria?
    • For a time, Mad Dog Morgendorffer was alive, albeit kept so only by his anger and hatred.
  • Split Personality: Stacy of the Fashion Club has about five or six of themnote , and in this series, to cope with all social situations. And counting.
  • Springtime for Hitler: One of the "Meanwhile, Sideways in Time" segments involves Dire Daria's failed attempts to get fired from the Okay to Cry Corral, resulting in her being the most popular counselor there.
  • The Stoner: Shaggy and Burnout from the Maleficent Eleven, although the others are stated to partake, just nowhere near the degree that these two do.
    • At one point, it is revealed that Burnout grows her own weed in an underground setup spanning several city blocks.
  • Strawman Political: Played for laughs, natch, with both the Morgendorffer's ludicrously over the top anti-establishment bent and Evil!Jodie's Teabaggery.
  • Token Good Teammate: Brittany among Sandi's council of popular girls, who's happy rather than angry that Daria and Tom are dating. Also Jodie, sort of, who just doesn't care.
  • Unexpected Successor: Once all the popular kids are disgraced by their own actions or each other, a random background character named Cindy turns out to be the most popular girl left in school.
  • Unishment: After walking off the stage of a Nativity play she was in (resulting in the other girls departing as well, a six-year old Daria was banned from ever performing or watching a Nativity play again, something she calls a Christmas miracle.
  • Unknown Rival: Cindy to Sandi and the rest of the popular girls. Of course, Cindy herself is unaware that the other girls see her as rivals, at least until Epic F Word.
  • The Unreveal: Did Daria get accepted to Fielding?
  • Wham Episode: Several, most recently Epic F Word, featuring Principal O'Neill attempting suicide and being replaced by DeMartino, Stacy suffering a complete nervous breakdown and Lawndale High finally being shut down for good by the state.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amy calls out Daria for not saying anything after Daria notices (without talking to anyone ) that the relationship between Erin and Brian is going south.
    • On that note, Amy herself knew that the relationship was doomed (Erin having sought out her advice) and, rather than try to help, gave Erin advice on how to sleep with your boss more effectively for both profit and pleasure.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Like the show itself, the fanfic ends with "Future Egos" depicting the characters' possible fates.
  • Where da White Women At?: Instead of Jodie, Mack starts off in a relationship with Brittany's friend and fellow blond cheerleader Angie, though he eventually dumps her when he learns of her involvement in Sandi's plans to bully Daria.
    • And then there's Andrew Landon's affair with Erin.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Cindy won the position as most popular girl in Lawndale High without even being in the running, all because the other popular girls destroyed each other.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Robert, which is why he rushed to fight the other jocks in Daria's defense despite her having dimed out the football team as being part of the grade-fixing scandal.
  • Yandere: Killer Quinn, in regards to Trent.