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Girl Genius provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • Absolute Cleavage:
  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer:
    • Sturmhalten. Justified by a comment in one of the novels that when the sewer was originally constructed the city was much larger than it is now.
    • Paris has quite a spacious sewer too, one that dumps into an absurdly spacious underground cavern network big enough to house entire kingdoms of subterranean dwellers.
  • Accentuate the Negative:
    • The problem with kids these days.
      Zeuxippe: So much that they are trying to kill you over [your hat]!!
      Old Man Death: Always you gotta find problems!
    • And the younger guard:
      Guard 1: Of course... the castle is over there. We're over here, and those flaming things are coming back...
      Guard 2: Live in the moment, kid. Live in the moment.
  • Accidental Truth:
    • Theo's story at the beginning about the Dragon from Mars is a pure flight of imagination, but the Other's lab actually IS in the Heterodynes' basement and, if the novel's prologue adaption is accurate, the Other's base of operations is extra-terrestrial as well! Also, in this story Klaus got wasped. And soon enough...
    • The crowd once calls Zeetha the Baron's daughter, which according to Word of Godinvoked is actually true — if the sketch of her father which looks exactly like Klaus is to be believed. Gil has also been called "the gol-dang Storm King" there, and some time later we learned of the Baron's plans to instate him as the Storm King.
    • Near the climax of the Sturmhalten arc, Agatha sets off a giant holographic message. It is meant to tell everyone that Lucrezia was The Other, but selective editing by The Other or Tarvek made it appear to name Baron Wulfenbach instead. Which may have been shooting themselves in the foot, as by the end of the arc Baron Wulfenbach has been wasped and is under The Other's control.
  • Accidental Ventriloquism: When Agatha and Krosp meet Balthazar he mistakes Krosp talking as a "talking cat act" Agatha is doing rather than realizing he's a cat construct capable of speech.
  • Acquired Poison Immunity:
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach has immunity to many many things. Because his father "figures that a ruler should be... hard to kill", what with the people across all of Europe who're upset at killing that Mad Scientist or the process of bombing this town... which extends to his heir. This came in useful in the arc where Tarvek suffered a particularly nasty and rare disease — Gil was able to disregard the risk of infection.
    • Those with Smoke Knight training are also immune to ordinary soporifics, as seen with Violetta and Martellus during the tea break at the Corbettites. Unfortunately for Martellus, those training sessions didn't include immunity to a blackjack to the head.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: The Heterodyne stories frequently paint Klaus as a blithering idiot, but get away with it because he finds them hilarious.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Occasionally done by Sparks. Agatha's family in particular has a known history of this (to the point that at least one ancestor invited attacking forces in so he could get a better look). And not just monsters and siege weapons either. A nice madly-raving newly-broken-through Spark is just as fine a topic of conversation.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The list of Heterodyne names in the crypt includes Caligula, the Red Heterodyne, the Black Heterodyne, Mordred, Oxalof, Ominox and Bob.
    • The world is full of people with weird names like Gilgamesh, Moloch, and Theopholous living right alongside people with ordinary names like Bill, Barry, and Agatha; no one comments on it or seems to consider it odd. Nor is there any reason they should do so: in the real-life 18th century, you could find such names as Hieronymous and Cloudesley alongside John or Peter.
    • In a side-story: Flopsy, Mopsy, and Nietzsche.
    • Lampshaded:
      Moloch: 'S wrong with my name? My mother picked it out of the whachamacalit — the Bible.
      Repairman: Um— Did she read it?
      Moloch: Nah. I had eight brothers. Nobody had time for stuff like that on the farm.
      Repairman: Oh, yeah. That's pretty common.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: Infiltrating the castle led to an epic one.
  • After Action Patch Up: After the fight with Dr. Merlot, Zola leaps to provide this for Gil.
  • Ahem: A Corbettite monk reminds another this way that they have a gift shop their guests might be interested in.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Castle Heterodyne. Although it's arguably a subversion: since the guy who built it was an evil psychotic maniac, it's actually working pretty much exactly as designed. Agatha's own little "dingbots" are a straighter case, since they've sometimes stopped listening to her. Judging from the background events, it seems a frequent problem that Sparks can't build anything without it going haywire.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: Castle Wulfenbach
  • Alien Geometries: ...What is Agatha holding in Panel 3??note 
  • All Part of the Show: Several times:
    • A circus of Sparks pretending to be normal actors pretending to be Sparks. One of whom is a Mongfish-Heterodyne pretending to be an actress pretending to be a Mongfish (her own mother).
    • A Jäger hiding among people who pretend to be Jägers.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach pretending to be a street actor pretending to be Gilgamesh Wulfenbach. (Overlaps with Cassandra Truth: when the crowd made it clear they didn't believe him, he rolled with it.)
    • A Mongfish (Lucrezia's niece) pretending to be the lost Heterodyne-Mongfish heir to secure the Heterodyne inheritance from the real Heterodyne-Mongfish.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • The Secret Blueprints and the expanded chapter-by-chapter Cast pages.
    • The novels also explain things not mentioned in the webcomic.
    • Othar's Twitter explains some things about himself, like his ability to re-appear when being thrown from impossible height.
    Freefall, my old nemesis! All I have to do is activate my compressed gas rocket boots and I will cheat you once again! Belt control ON!...On? ...
  • All Webbed Up: What the nyar-spider does to its prey.
  • Almost Kiss:
  • Altar Diplomacy: Sparks are often aristocrats in addition to their mad science gifts, which makes marriage and romance even more complicated.
    • Agatha's confirmed status as the long-lost heir to the house of Heterodyne means that not only do Gil (the heir to the Wulfenbach empire) and Tarvek (a direct descendant of the legendary Storm King) have romantic reasons to want to marry her, they have pretty compelling political motivations as well, as do other power players like Tarvek's cousin Martellus, who goes so far as to kidnap Agatha as part of his master plan to join their houses and ascend to power in Europa.
    • As Violetta points out though Gil and Agatha would be problematic in terms of getting married because Agatha would have to give up much of her power and they would have to be careful in terms of the proposal, while Tarvek is much more at Agatha's level politically and is a skilled manipulater and can craft treaties.
    • Hoffmann, a student at the University of Paris, proposed an alliance between two underground kingdoms, ending generations of war. Afterwards, he learns that as an adopted son of the Talpini Moligarchy he was the one who would marry the princess of the Arguron kingdom (after all, the Talpini themselves aren't even human). The Arguron princess, meanwhile, is attracted to Hoffman, but thinks it's doomed because she's agreed to this political marriage...
  • Alternate History: Perhaps better called Parallel History, because the Sparks have been around for long enough that even geography has been changed by their influence, and yet the world and its history are not completely dissimilar to ours:
    • There were still Mongol Hordes on cue, German is still spoken as a European lingua-franca, R(embrandt) Van Rijn was still a famous genius and Casanova a famous skirt-chaser, the [Weather] King was still a towering historical figure.
    • Additionally, the Storm King was called Andronicus Valois, and his being a contemporary of this world's Rembrandt means he probably really was the GG universe's answer to our Sun King (Louis XIV). This means the Valois line was still around and in charge fifty years after power had passed to the Bourbons in our world.
    • There is still a powerful church with not one, but seven popes, and, judging by a brief mention each with their own faction, apparently; The novelization expands on this: there's a Pope of Avignon, the Ottoman Pope, the Pope of the Tsars, the Pope of Belfast, the Gypsy Pope (who, confusingly, is not affiliated with the Romany), the Pope of the Mountains, and the mysterious Sicilian Papa de Tutti Papi.note 
    • And there's "The Autonomous Library" built by Voltaire.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: Together with the above Alternate History.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: A regular pattern. Even if you have the upper hand at the moment with your Ultimate Weapon, you just know that somebody out there is working day and night on their Ultimate Weapon Nullifier (and their explanatory monologue.)
  • Always Identical Twins: Averted with Gil and Zeetha. They have a Strong Family Resemblance, but you have to be looking pretty close to notice it. Fans assumed for a long time that they were just ordinary siblings or half siblings (which made the timeline a little muddled) until the Foglios confirmed they're fraternal twins.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population:
    • Anyone infected with Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation or Vericus Pantiliax's Chromatic Death, although as the names of those ailments may suggest, the affected person didn't start out that way and won't be that way long before something bad happens. Fans are now calling the sequence ending here the Amazing Technicolor Dreamboat Sequence. Yowza! Or Eeyyooww-ZAP!
    • Jägermonsters, and many other kinds of constructs. Mamma Gkika's skin color changes naturally, though she has some control over it and has stuck with a humanlike pink for a while in order to blend in all schneaky-like.
  • Amazon Brigade:
    • Bangladesh DuPree's pirate crew is entirely female. Confirmed in the novels.
    • Geisterdamen (spider-riding, at that).
    • Zeetha's mysterious tribe. Lots of Amazons.
    • Same goes for Heliolux Airship Fleet's flagship crew. Which is a communication and traffic control unit, so not directly involved in combat, although the white-red uniformed Commander remarks that they'll miss the fighting. On the next page she shouts to the entering Jäger that they're non-combatants. It's pointed out that although the Heliolux ships are mainly used for long-range communication, at close range the high-intensity light beams they use can also melt people and buildings.
    • The Devil Dolls, a foot soldier unit in the Wulfenbach army that are comprised of what is likely a series of female constructs of some sort that look somewhat like female tin soldiers, and were likely absorbed from the force remnants of some other spark that the Baron defeated. They're seen running from a monstrosity that came out of the ground when Castle Heterodyne really lets loose. They were likely a competent force against the general foes the Empire faced, but seriously... The Castle. Two are later seen on a guard detail on Castle Wulfenbach after the Time Skip, so they're still around.
  • Amazon Chaser:
    • All the Jägers want Von Pinn due to her tough-as-nails nature.
    • Higgs is a literal case.
    • Baron Klaus Wulfenbach aka Chump to Queen Zantabraxas of Skifander.
  • Amulet of Dependency: Agatha's trilobite amulet, though it started out as something entirely different, has become one.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The "squirrel".
    • The copy of Lucrezia stuck inside Zola.
    • Agatha when Lucrezia is in control.
    • Lucrezia when Agatha is in control.
    • Implied here.
  • ...And That Would Be Wrong: This exchange between Ardsley Wooster and Agatha.
    Agatha: Its too bad. I think there's a lot I could have learned from him.
    Wooster: Yes! All kinds of things! Terrible, evil things! Ways to warp nature and create bizarre, monstrous abominations of science! (Beat) —And that would be bad!
    Agatha: I knew that!
  • And Now You Must Marry Me: It was suggested that Agatha's grandmother married one of the old Heterodynes, to protect her family from harm. It apparently later backfired, when she taught her sons, Bill and Barry, how to use their Sparky powers for good rather than evil, and in the end poisoned her husband.
    • Martellus' plan to become the Storm King requires marrying Agatha, and after the hilariously failed public rescue he orchestrated, he straight up kidnaps her (she escapes soon after). He's more focused on getting her Trapped in Villainy, though he later shows (or fakes) a mildly lecherous attitude towards her.
  • And Show It to You: Invoked to get Bang's attention.
  • Anger Born of Worry:
    • By Baron Wulfenbach, towards Gil.
      Klaus: LACKWIT! How dare you put yourself at risk!
    • Pix is furious while Abner is away, showing Gil and Bang "Agatha's" grave. Although she explains she's more angry that he "cut in on her act." More so in the novelization.
    • Higgs. He has a very specific reason to be upset about Zeetha running around fighting instead of letting her injuries heal.
    • When Tarvek nearly gets himself shot Gil shoves him to the floor while yelling at him, and puts a knee in his back to keep him from gettting up.
      Gil: You idot! Are you trying to commit suicide?
      Tarvek: You know I wouldn't do that to her. [...]
      Gil: All right I know! Have you already forgotten how much trouble we went through to keep you alive? How dare you risk yourself and her by acting so stupid!
    • Agatha is not pleased to find Tarvek fighting a hive monster on his own.
  • Angry Collar Grab: They're not actually wearing shirts but Agatha grabs Tarvek and Gil's harnesses up near their collarbones to yank them close and yell at them in this strip.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love:
  • Annoying Arrows: No surprise, they are just that to a Jäger.
  • Ant Assault: In the side-story "Small Problems", the protagonists have to battle "giant" ants after being shrunk. Even after being returned to full-size, Zeetha is still being swarmed by them, and jumping into a moat doesn't help, as the ants have scuba gear.
  • Anticlimax: The final "battle" of Revenge of the Weasel Queen.
  • Antimagical Faction: Othar is this,all by himself (if by "mages" you mean "Sparks"). His goal is to kill them all, and yes, he's aware of the irony that he himself is a Spark! He plans to kill himself after killing off all of the others.
  • Another Dimension: The Geisterdamen describe themselves as being from one; Skifander just might be from one; and the Things that peer in on the time-stopped Mechanicsburg seem to inhabit one - or more.
  • Anyone Can Die: This is part of the charm of the comic. A lot of characters are introduced and later killed off, sometimes very quickly. Having a name does not protect you. It's actually kind of refreshing in a high fantasy adventure work like this.
    • This is actually downplayed as the number of important characters who have died is low more than anything the comic averts Nominal Importance hard.
  • Appeal to Force: The principle by which Baron Wulfenbach rules Europa despite being a mere Baron - he has the most powerful military (including an entire fleet of airships, the alleigance of the Jagers and Dreen among other deadly creatures, and a host of destructive technology captured from defeated Sparks) so nobody in Europa can oppose him. He's a very benvolent tyrant who rules by only two rules: anyone who finds anything relating to The Other must turn it over to him immediately, and "Don't make me come over there" (i.e "do what you want as long as you don't start a war"). But when you cross him, he will kick your ass.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In a world filled with lightning guns, mind controlling bug robots, and other insane science, Tarvek utterly refuses to believe Gil's flying machine can stay aloft without a gas bag.
  • An Arm and a Leg:
    • Oggie chops off Dimo's arm after the limb gets jabbed with a blob-monster's poison barb. Since the arm then dissolves into green goo, it was probably for the best.
    • Vole thwarts an assassin's attempt at a Dead Man's Switch by ripping off the arm holding the device.
    • During their confrontation, Von Pinn starts by tearing off Adam's arm.
    • Done more humorously in the "Revenge of the Weasel Queen" side story:
      Agatha: I've wanted a chance to test my pocket de-arming device.
      Giant Rabbit Monster: Ha! Foolish human! I need no weapons!
      Agatha: ... I didn't say anything about weapons.
      Giant Rabbit Monster: AAGH! My arms!
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: The Professoressa's reaction on meeting Da Boyz; she apparently expects it to end with her being made a Jäger Queen. Apparently a series of books called "Love Prisoners of the Jägers" have put one or two strange notions in her head.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
  • Armor-Piercing Response:
    Klaus: Do you know that every single woman I've ever known who had the spark has tried to kill me? They're dangerous!
    Gil: Father, maybe it's you.
    *Klaus is startled speechless for two beat panels*
    Klaus: No... No, I don't think so...
  • Arrow Catch:
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • When Othar and Sanaa are wandering the Castle, and she thinks things are all right.
      Othar: We're in Castle Heterodyne with exploding collars around our necks, caught between a fake Heterodyne and a real one (as well as assorted criminals, maniacs, and various monsters), and I suspect that even if we found any beer in here, it would be evil, or at least flat.
    • Also involving Othar: "De dirigible iz in flames, everyboddyz dead an' I've lost my hat." To be fair, hats are a big deal to the Jägers whereas arson and murder are hobbies.
    • Another example:
      Professor Tiktoffen: Franz here liked turning people into beetles. Zonia believed that orphan blood had medicinal properties. Krag put his feet on my bed.
    • A villain learns why you must never punch a lady, or wake her up too early in the morning.
    • Now why would anyone want to kill Klaus Wulfenbach? Let's see...:
      Gil: Why? Because Wulfenbach troops turned her village into owls. Or maybe we deposed her favorite mad prince, or hung her lover for piracy, or banished the Heterodyne Boys, or poisoned the well, or raised the price of herring.
    • The entrance of the Immortal Library underneath Paris is heavily guarded, ready to drop to their death all visitors that would happen to be spies, revenants, or illiterates.
  • Art Evolution:
    • The earlier strips have bizarre anatomy issues and ugly gradient coloring. (Also after the first volume there was a great deal of uneven inking.) These problems eventually disappear.
    • Volume 1 was originally published in black-and-white. Volume 2 saw the introduction of color, in searing neon gradient fills. The coloring eventually settled down and volume 1 was eventually recolored in a somber desaturated palette. The result cleverly mirrored Agatha's psyche, as her perceptions are dulled in volume 1, overloaded in volume 2, and by volume 4 settle into a happy medium.
  • Ascended Fanon: In universe, about Von Pinn really being Lucrezia Mongfish.
  • Aside Glance: Plenty.
  • Assassin Outclassin': After exiting an apparently diverted teleporting device Tweedle barehandedly takes on six Smoke Knights, killing them and his cousin Leopold, with their own daggers
    • The Smoke Knights are also apparently no match for a vigilant Corbettite Monk. The ease in which the monks dispose of the assassins is almost casual.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority: This is crucial into getting the Jägerkin in line:
    • Gil uses it on Captain Vole. (Twice.)
    • Boris earns the respect of the Jägergenerals by beating their location out of a messenger.
  • Astonishingly Appropriate Interruption: During the play in Sturmhalten, just as Tarvek is saying "If the mistress were here, she'd say—", he's interrupted by Agatha (in-character as Lucrezia) yelling "KNEEL, 'YOU MISERABLE MINION!''"
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Among the illustrations for The WORKS card game, there is a panel where Agatha is fleeing from three murderous constructs. Next panel, the constructs are fleeing from Agatha, now armed with a Death Ray.
  • Attack Hello: Maxim is just saying "hello".
  • Audience Participation: The podcasts/radio dramas, where the audience finishes characters' titles ("Agatha Heterodyne—" "—Girl genius!"), fill in crowd noises, and so on.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Phil Foglio is well-known (unabashedly so) for drawing his female characters with rather large "assets". But it's his wife (and co-author) who loves to get Agatha into the "lacy underthings". She's a big fan of Victorian-era undergarments.
    • Not to mention paper dolls.
    • There's also the matter of all the handsome shirtless men running around. Which leads into "Who thought having TWO boyfriends was a good idea!?" The Cheshire Cat Grin says it all.
    • Phil admits the only reason the Jägers became recurring characters is because he really likes drawing them.
  • Author Avatar: The creators, Phil and Kaja, are both apparently natives of the story's world who, it would seem, will eventually meet, marry, publish a... controversial account of Agatha's deeds, and flee into our world with it to continue it safe from Agatha as a supposedly fictional comic. The avatar of one of the colorists, Cheyenne Wright, seems to be depicted as the King of the Silverlands.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Klaus; he clawed his way to being ruler of Europe atop God knows how many others and it shows.
    • His son; when thrust into authority, Gil's asskicking genes more than rise to the challenge.
    • The Jägergenerals.
    • More generally — in a semi-feudal world ruled over by extremely intelligent nutjobs, it's the one at the top of the castle you want to watch out for. They're in that spot for a reason.
  • Authority in Name Only: Burgermeister Zurken of Mechanicsburg has no real influence on the town. He's just there to make the Baron think the town's behaving, and pretty much everyone knows it. Naturally, it turns out that Klaus has his suspicions, which are confirmed by the Storyteller.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Genetically engineering a super intelligent cat so that he can persuade other cats to act as spies, messengers, saboteurs, etc. Unfortunately cats have an attention span that measures in microseconds they’ll do what you want until they fall asleep or see something move.
    • Later averted, because some animals actually do listen...
  • Awesome McCoolname: Maxinia Agatha Giliana Heterodyne Clay; Adam and Lilith's daughter.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
    • The love/hate relationship between Gil, Agatha, and Tarvek runs so deep that a list of specific examples would probably end up getting its own page.
    • Klaus and Gil, as well: when Klaus sends a small army to take him prisoner as all hell's about to break loose in Mechanicsburg, Gil's reaction is "he does care!". When he has to enslave Gil with his own personality to ensure the boy doesn't do anything reckless, his expression tells how much he hates having to do it. Being on the brink of dying for having left the hospital during heavy attacks is only a very small bother for him once he sees Gil destroy a army of clanks singlehandly while declaring himself future ruler over the Empire, declaring it was worth it with pride written all over his face. And when Lucrecia gets the idea of simply using Gil for a "lovers reunion" between her and Klaus, the latter goes straight into Papa Wolf mode.
    • Tarvek, who has maintained for years that he really really hates his childhood friend and rival Gil (who is mind-controlled after he is captured by the Baron), had an adorable one.
  • Ax-Crazy: Many examples.
    • The most prominent is probably Bangladesh DuPree, whose child-like delight in slaughter is frequently Played for Laughs.
      • She is well-behaved around the Baron, and eventually Gil, but makes it clear that she tolerates their 'no unnecessary killing' rule only because this inevitably leads to bigger, better violence than she could find by cruising around on her own.
    • The Jägermonsters were hand-picked by the Heterodynes for this quality (plus Undying Loyalty and an ability to make said Heterodynes laugh), but they kicked out Vole because he manages to be ax-crazy even by their standards.
    • The majority of Sparks, when in their "madness place", lose their grip on morality (and reality and various other grips). In the backstory, the Heterodynes (with the exception of the Heterodyne Boys and Agatha) deserve special mention for being batshit insane even by Spark standards:

  • Baa-Bomb: Some battering rams are this.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • So often that they have tropes for it.
    • The fifty noble houses of Europa are very aware of this process and actually have strict rules and customs against it. If one of their number is killed and revived, they are officially removed from the lines of succession.
    • The simplest cure for some ailments.
    • Zulenna got this ordered for her by Klaus.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
  • Badass Boast: Lots and lots.
    • Gil gives us one of the more effective examples.
    • Gil can also keep his boasts very short:
      Gil: This is not a trick! I did not get lucky! I am Gilgamesh Wulfenbach — AND I AM IN CONTROL!
    • He also gets a similar one moments earlier, facing down an entire army of war clanks alone:
      Gil: I am Gilgamesh Wulfenbach, son of Klaus. I will say this only once—leave now, or you will die.
    • Dr. Sun's threat towards DuPree. Notable not for being elaborate, but for such conviction that it frightens an unrepentant Ax-Crazy psycho.
    • Zola is a beautiful chemical killing machine.
    • Tarvek uses a very short (but effective) one on Gil:
      Tarvek: ... You came running in and saw someone you hate and fear trying to kill her — of course you reacted.
      Gil: I do not fear you.
      Tarvek: Really? You should.
    • Agatha, showing that she learned the "hamming the bunch of unruly minions into obedience" part of her family business.
    • Another from Agatha; very dramatic.
    Agatha: I do not need rescuing. I AM THE HETERODYNE!
  • Badass Bookworm:
    • Most of the Spark characters.
    • Also notable is Jorgi, one of the few literate Jägers, who chose to become a Super Soldier because reading so much philosophy left him feeling the need to break things.
  • Badass Family:
    • Heterodynes are a family of powerful Sparks with a signature hereditary ability of "heterodyning" or humming a specific way to completely tune out all distraction, who were feared and hated even among others of their own kind, to say nothing about the rest of the continent. They created Castle Heterodyne – an omnipotent sentient Supervillain Lair with a dark sense of humor and Jägermonsters – scientifically modified Super Soldiers, completely loyal to the house Heterodyne. Then Bill and Barry happened. They redeemed their family’s name by travelling across Europa and defeating monsters and evil Sparks, and were considered the greatest heroes of their generation. There is also the latest scion, Agatha – a powerful Spark in her own right who is just beginning to make her indelible mark on the world.
    • Klaus and Gilgamesh Wulfenbach. Klaus returned to Europa only with his infant son in tow and still managed to conquer a good chunk of the continent by himself, apparently for its own good. He is single-handedly keeping peace in his Empire by keeping rampaging madboys and arrogant nobles in check. He and Gilgamesh are both powerful Sparks and very potent fighters, to the point Jägers are scared of them. If rumors are true then there is also Baron's long lost Badass Normal daughter - princess Zeetha.
    • Valois/Sturmvoraus/von Blitzengaard family. Their ancestor was one of the greatest kings of all time — Andronicus Valois. Currently family consists mainly of Manipulative Bastards, backstabbers and McNinjas. Most prominent members are Tarvek — once again a powerful Spark, excellent schemer and a good fighter and Violetta — a Smoke Knight and an Impossible Thief.
  • Badass Fingersnap: Colette Voltaire, having inherited complete control of Paris from her father, finds his assassin Drusus Beausoleil, and with a snap of her fingers, she destroys every one of his multiple bodies (and makes him feel it all).
  • Badass Labcoat: Agatha while setting up the really crazy device to fix up Tarvek.
  • Badass Longcoat:
    • Baron Klaus Wulfenbach has them as regular wear.
    • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach has worn them too.
    • And Agatha, of course.
    • Tarvek can be counted on to sport one.
    • Krosp got his from the circus.
  • Badass Normal: Many of the non-Spark supporting characters.
    • Axel Higgs, Airman 3rd Class is assuredly badass, but turns out not to be 'normal'.
    • Zeetha. Versus a pirate stronghold (she won). Versus a demon-horse-thing-monster. (She didn't win, but it cheated by growing a new mouth and tentacles after she cut its head off.)
      • It's implied that the pirate stronghold Zeetha destroyed actually belonged to Bangladesh, of all people. That alone ups her Badass Factor by roughly 5000.
    • Bangladesh DuPree, and Violetta. Moloch von Zinzer seems to be heading towards this, somewhat unwillingly.
    • Ardsley Wooster has climbed from 'competent servant' to 'battle butler' to 'James Bond is a chump'.
    • Sanaa is pretty badass when she needs to be.
    • Professor Merlot, despite not being a Spark at all, is able to seriously injure Gil, and also manages to develop (or at least operate) a dangerous combat machine that can fight off the Castle's security mechanisms.
  • Bad Future: In Othar's twitter, he ends up in a timeline where The Other won and wiped out all of Europa. Only Tarvek survived.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Sanaa and Othar do this to Tarvek, mistaking him for Gilgamesh Wulfenbach.
  • Bar Brawl: Apparently there's one every evening in Mamma Gkika's. Except on Thursdays; that's poetry slam night.
    • Apparently there are two every evening: one with the human guests upstairs and one with the Jägers in the basement.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Da Boyz and the Jägergenerals.
    • Klaus and the generals were having fun at some points of the wasp attack.
    • The Heterodyne Boys were a more literal example.
  • Bathe Her and Bring Her to Me: parodied when an underling's proposal "Shall I have her bathed and brought to your quarters?" is met with "Tch. Drusus, you really need to stop reading those Othar Tryggvassen adventure novels."
  • Battle Butler: Ardsley Wooster and Boris Dolokhov, though, technically speaking, neither is an actual butler. Wooster is a spy posing as a valet or gentleman's gentleman; Dolokhov is more of an aide-de-camp, librarian, accountant, and general manager.
  • Battle Couple: To an extent, Agatha and Gil during the wasp outbreak on Castle Wulfenbach. When she, Gil, and Tarvek were battling with and through Castle Heterodyne, they were a Battle Threesome.
    • Zeetha and Higgs are also one.
  • Battle Cry:
    • The official one for the Jägers: "Ve hunt!" (Justified, seeing as "Jäger" is German for "Hunter".)
    • Agatha during the Battle of Sturmhalten: "SHOWTIME!"
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: One of Theo DuMedd's methods of getting into a lab on Castle Wulfenbach without suspicion was claiming to be "Mimmoth exterminators". He claimed it worked every time, though the only time he attempted it, he just happened to walk in on Gil experimenting.
    • Sparks with control over minions tend to use a supernaturally amplified version of this, where claiming authority causes most people to accept that authority. The strongest sparks can even occasionally do it to people that are entirely aware that it is happening.
  • Bear Hug: Mama Gkika gives Agatha, newly crowned as the Heterodyne, one when they first meet.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Agatha is attacked by a large group of angry bears...and they're armed.
    • Eventually Averted, however. They're Krosp's bears, conditioned to serve him by their mutual creator, Dr. Vapnoople; Krosp didn't know they even existed until finally meeting them.
    • Third-Person Person: The bears generally preface all conversation by referring to themselves as "This bear".
    • And there's Jenka's Jägerbear, Füst.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Played with. Otherwise good-looking folks can undergo injuries, sickness, fatigue or drugs that visibly mess them up.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Martellus is stuck near Agatha due to an accident that makes him reliant on her touch to survive, and complains that he has been indoors for too long and is getting stir-crazy. Agatha then tells him that she's going out for an errand to a very dangerous place, and the expression on Martellus's face suggests that he regrets what he just said.
  • Because You Were Nice to Me: A monster lurking in the dungeons of the Blitzengaard fortress leaves Agatha's party unscathed after being given the inversion of the standard Frankenstein rant (you know, the one about being its creator and ordering it to do your bidding).
  • Behemoth Battle: The fight between Franz Scortchmaw, the Bone Gnawer of the Heterodynes, and "Pretty Boy" (no name given, despite his gentledragonly manners). Rather low on the collateral damage for a monster fight, though.
  • Behind the Black:
    • Gil didn't notice Agatha launching herself at him while he was yelling at Tarvek?
    • Lampshaded when Jenka points out that they should have heard the army of giant clanks (helpfully called War Stompers too) marching up to their tower.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge:
  • Berserk Button: Don't get the Jäger Generals started on Lucrezia Mongfish.
    • Don't touch Castle Heterodyne (or Mechanicsburg in general), if you don't want to enrage Agatha. She also hates being patronized, so treating her like a Damsel in Distress will earn you a lot of pain.
    • Don't harm Agatha or Gil and/or Tarvek will be the last thing you see.
    • Wanna see Higgs unhinged? Hurt Zeetha.
    • Despite being a Magnificent Bastard, Klaus does not take well on the suggestion to sacrifice Gil.
    • Sparks in general really hate when you meddle with their work. If the Sparks don't kill themselves with their machines, then you can bet that they will send them on you, if you dare disturb them.
    • Despite being an Ax-Crazy Comedic Sociopath, Bangladesh Dupree does have her limits. She hates the idea of mind control with a passion.
  • Betty and Veronica: Gil & Tarvek, to Agatha.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Agatha is a nice person, polite and easy-going and willing to put up with a lot. But she has grown increasingly formidable throughout the series: latecomers like Martellus are unpleasantly surprised to discover that she is not to be crossed.
    • Gilgamesh is usually rather pleasant and doesn't bully people or use force. When his temper snaps, however, he's terrifying. And destructive. Once Klaus takes over his mind and forces him to work out ways to fight The Other, he only gets worse, literally spending weeks in the madness place without sleeping.
    • Tarvek is the blue to Gil's red. He plays with the trope a bit - he is not an innately nice person. Being good is an effort for him, and if he's angered, he'll stop making that effort. And unlike Agatha or Gil, you can't be sure he'll accept a surrender.
    • Airman Higgs is stoic, reliable, polite and so unobtrusive that he's almost invisible. He's called Unstoppable for his combat skills when it's 'just business': you do not want to make it personal.
  • Beyond the Impossible: This is what the spark does; it lets people bend the laws of physics. However, the Heterodyne breaks them. And apparently the ancient god-queens were to sparks what sparks are to normal people.
  • BFG:
    • The autocannons carried by the Wulfenbach clanks. Sometimes used by Jägers.
    • Agatha's Death Rays. Played with, when she made a "very small" death ray. That she used to blow a hole out of the castle, taking out a chunk of a nearby mountain. And a hole from fairly high in the castle, to the basement. What a magnificent death ray!
  • BFS: Grantz uses a two-handed sword about as long as she is tall — and she is pretty hulking to begin with.
  • Bifauxnen: Grantz, Baron Wulfenbach's monster hunter. Even Gil apparently gets this one wrong, as he refers to Grantz as a "he" early on.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The Other is probably the most consistent threat, but due to the hydra-headed nature of the Knights of Jove, there's a lot of other significant threats to world peace. Zola in particular has been set up as a serious future threat (and one capable of controlling the Other), and Martellus may be a contender by virtue of not being the idiot he seems.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Martellus von Blitzengaard suffers from the delusion that he's The Chessmaster. Agatha (and Tarvek, Gil, etc.) tend to regard him as an infuriating nuisance instead.
  • Big Book of War: Agatha brains Zola with one of these, entitled Using Found Objects as Weapons. The sound effect when she beans them is "TOME!"
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The Baron's Hoomhoffers, giant beetles that function as living tanks and clank squashers.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Gil, once again demonstrating why you shouldn't shoot him. You'll just make him mad.
    • Zeetha and her carefully placed clothing swing in to save the day.
    • When a humanoid killing machine is lying on the floor Not Quite Dead and you're caught up in your evil plans to enslave several main characters, frankly what do you expect?
    • When Agatha is forced to kill Castle Heterodyne, everyone expects the Baron to go in there and kill Agatha for having Lucrezia in her mind and "save" his son, but they can't figure out why he hasn't already started the invasion. Instead, Dr. Sun takes this moment to attack the Baron and put him into a chemical coma before his "delusions" destroy the Empire by getting the Baron killed from his existing wounds and accidentally killing Gil in the invasion, giving Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek the time to work and cure themselves of Hogfarb's Resplendent Immolation and get the Castle ready to deal with revolting members of the Empire. This slightly backfires because, although this saves Tarvek and Agatha, this gives Lucrezia/Anevka the opportunity to get into the Baron's room and take control of the wasp infected Baron unbeknownst to Dr. Sun and everyone else. Due to this control, the already paranoid Baron is easily convinced to attack his potential ally Agatha while his empire is already falling apart. All of this led directly to the Baron freezing himself and Mechanicsburg in time to stop Lucrezia's control of him and to stop Lucrezia/Agatha who, unbeknownst to the Baron, is only in control when Agatha doesn't have her Power Limiter on and THAT causes the Empire to collapse anyways. So the Trope zigzags.
  • The Big Damn Kiss:
  • Big Door: The door prisoners are sent into Castle Hetrodyne through is at least two stories tall, and adorned with vicious looking spikes.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: Castle Heterodyne, and the Wulfenbach airship.
  • Big "NO!": Several times.
    • Crashing Gil's "falling machine" into Castle Wulfenbach.
    • Zeetha, after she finally finds someone who knows about her homeland Skifander, but doesn't know where it is, breaks out in a rage.
    • Right after Agatha breaks Merlot's mind with the enormity of his mistakes.
    • Agatha when she gets interrupted again in fixing the castle.
    • And more humorously, when a Sparking-out Gil yanks open Agatha's Exploding Closet
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Among other things, Monster Hunter Grantz's massive eyebrows don't help identifying her as female, at all.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family:
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Many names of people, races, places, etc., make more sense if one knows a little German; for instance, "Jägermonster" can be interpreted as "hunting monster".
    • The control panel on the Clank Agatha finds in the woods is in German.
    • "Si vales valeo" is Latin for "If you are well, I am well", a phrase used in ancient Roman times to start writing a letter like "Dear Mister Smith". In the world of Girl Genius, it has a more literal meaning.
    • The contraption Agatha is building here is named "Şoarece"; this is Romanian for "mouse" (not "the mouse", that would be "şoarecele") which is, in the same time, a bilingual bonus, and a genius bonus: Mechanicsburg is in-story located in Transylvania, and the real-life Transylvania is today part of Romania.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Agatha and Klaus are both sympathetically gray and fighting for perfectly reasonable reasons. There are several villains that are clearly black, and both of them want those destroyed.
  • Blatant Lies:
  • Bleached Underpants: A variant, in that prior to Girl Genius, Phil Foglio was the author and artist of the XXXenophile series of pornographic comics, and unlike many artists with a similar background makes no attempt to hide it. However, before XXXenophile, he was already well known for What's New? with Phil and Dixie for Dragon Magazine, and Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire, and did book covers and illustrations (most memorably, for Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures series), as well as the classic Con Reports and a trio of excellent, funny updates of old '60s humor comics for DC Comics at about the same time as XXXenophile.

    A lot of Girl Genius is made up of brilliant little ideas that Foglio previously used in his pornographic work. The Jägers' speech pattern and dental work? From XXXenophile: "A Beautiful Tail" and "My Favorite Oitling". Zeetha's jewelry, with the little faces that mimic whatever her current facial expression is? From XXXenophile: "Blue Opal".
  • Blessed with Suck:
    • The Spark itself. If you have it, you can warp the laws of physics with the contents of the average Store Cupboard. Bad part? You go insane to varying degrees whenever you do it. The natural result of that is that most Sparks, and Agatha in particular, have to deal with being shunned, used, or attacked by most everyone they meet. And that's if they don't get killed by one of their own creations. Or get the Torches and Pitchforks treatment.
    • Agatha before her breakthrough, when she wore the locket to suppress her Spark. It undoubtedly saved her life, but it also made her completely incompetent and destroyed her self-esteem.
    • Moloch almost certainly thinks so. He makes the perfect minion. He's intelligent, knowledgeable, sneaky, has good leadership skills, good military discipline, is very down to Earth, loyal, forgiving, has willingness to take orders, and many other excellent traits. Despite all of this, he just wants to get the hell away from sparks and live a normal life. However, given the future windows we see, he doesn't leave Agatha anytime soon.
  • Bling of War: Most troops are trying to look cool — some, too hard. Jägers tend to dress in less unified fancy clothes, with their own peculiar taste. Of "Da Boyz", Maxim wears the most fashionable set — he's an ex-cavalry officer, after all.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Lots of that going around. Tarvek provides his own perspective, of course.
    Tarvek: If someone can't handle an unpleasant truth? Lie to them. If someone won't listen to reason? Make them. If people don't choose to live peaceably? Don't give them a choice. If you don't like the rules...change the game.
  • Blue Blood: The Nobility is one of the biggest opponents to the Baron. House Wulfenbach is of nobility, but low ranking. As such, the Blue Bloods see him as an upstart and a tyrant who has illegitimately seized most of their power. The Knights of Jove try to use the legend of the Storm King to reclaim it. The most notable Blue Blood characters are Zulenna, Tarvek and Martellus.
  • Body-Count Competition: By the Jägergenerals, of course.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: Othar is always just about gleeful as he fights and gets knocked through walls. The Jägers are a decidedly friendly, at least in mannerism, bloodthirsty bunch who enjoy joking and laughing while fighting even if they're losing.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • Dimo of all people pulls one off in an earlier chapter. After Gil destroys two giant spider-walker tanks with lightning blasts prompting the crews of the remaining walkers to surrender, he asks to speak to their commander, only for an officer to inform him that Gil's lightning attack had killed the commander as well as the second and third in command. And the fourth?
      Officer: [pulling a knife on Gil] That would be me, madboy!
      (A throwing knife gets embedded in the officer's skull)
      Dimo: [holding another throwing knife] Hoy! Who else vants to be promoted?
    • Martellus delivers a dark line after killing a Jager by repeatedly shooting him at point blank range after asking him some questions and having a perfectly civil conversation with him.
      Martellus: and I know this: the best way to catch a monster is to be a bigger monster.
    • After Tarvek kills one of the conspiracists who thought that since Tarvek was a hero he wouldn't retaliate to an attack with lethal force he quips;
      Tarvek: I've never really considered myself the "hero" type.
  • Boring, but Practical: Moloch is easily one of the most rational people in the strip, being an Only Sane Man of course, and a bit of The Engineer. His ideas are typically very un-flashy, but they get the job done. Much to the ire of the sparks and mad scientists that surround him. Amusingly enough, while everyone in-universe finds him boring, the fact that he seems too sane and different from half the cast makes him anything but boring to the readers, if only for the reactions he gathers from the Sparks:
    (various Sparks debate which of a variety of absurd and potentially deadly ways to get to the bottom of a shaft)
    Moloch: Why don't we just move this winch? There should be enough cable. And it looks strong enough that we could lower everybody on a platform.
    (group death glare)
    Moloch: ...and then, at the bottom, it could unfold into a... a giant caterpillar or... something...
    Mittelmind: No, no. You've already taken all the joy out of it.
  • Bottled Heroic Resolve:
  • Bow Chicka Wow Wow:
    Zeetha: Hey, Skifander's patron Goddess is Ashtara, she who controls, among other things, fertility. Our holy-days are fun! (Cha cha cha!)
  • Brain Bleach: Remember, the strip is full of Mad Scientists.
    Snaug: ... spiky trap-doors... torture chambers... man-eating bats... impertinent mechanical squid...
    Mittelmind: Oh, there is some psychological damage, but I always wipe her memory for her birthday.
    Snaug: Happy birthday to meeeeeee...
  • Braggart Boss: Minus the fact people of the street think he is a hero, Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!) fits the mold nicely.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: "Jäger orphans?"
  • Breather Episode: Side stories every once in a while.
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Angel:
    • The muses, the delicate creations of the greatest spark of the time. Most of them are destroyed or damaged while sparks tried to reverse engineer them. Known examples are Tinka, studied by Tarvek, and Otilia, found beneath Castle Heterodyne. She manages to cause some trouble in her "broken" state though.
    • Castle Heterodyne was damaged in the Other's attack - which is probably the first and last time the term 'angel' will be applied, even metaphorically and peripherally, to Castle Heterodyne or any component, characteristic or intention thereof.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Othar and Sanaa. Othar isn't overjoyed about it.
  • Brown Note: Ringing the Doom Bell has this kind of effect. It is implied that the Doom Bell actually uses doom itself as a means of incapacitating people, by hammering them with the concept of existential despair.
  • Bug War: Any fight with Slaver wasps. You have Warriors, which do the direct fighting, drones that do the enslaving (by flying into people's mouths), and the Queen, kept alive by a Hive Engine apparatus and rendered sessile from it. Except for newer models.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Vole seems a bit prone to it. And there are two examples so far. And he doesn't seem to learn, either.
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • Zoing, Gil's mechanical sidekick, was apparently not heard of again after he undergoes some serious character development. Until...
    • Also Wulfenbach second-in-command Boris disappearing after the time-skip and finally resurfacing in (or rather under) Paris.
    • Most recently, Eotain and Shurdlu, the two Geisterdamen that Agatha met in Sturmhalten, resurfaced in post-time-skip Paris.
    • Normally a character trope, but Paris is rather notable for being the locale/arc for the return of several characters, a couple of whom were already off the radar before the time skip. Specifically, Jenka and Füst, Oggie, Maxim, Boris, and Zola (in the guise of the Queen of the Dawn). Tarvek and Vanamonde were also pulled out of the time freeze during this arc, with the former ending up in Paris as well due to circumstances beyond his control. Does that make Paris a bus stop?
    • In 2020, 13 years after Wooster offered them asylum in England, Agatha is finally reunited with her friends from Master Payne's Circus of Adventure.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Gil has no idea which particular atrocity the various assorted assassins are trying to off his father over.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Moloch Von Zinzer
    • Tarvek in the Paris flashbacks.
  • Bystander Syndrome: When Agatha tries to send crucial information about information about the Other to Klaus Wulfenbach, her message gets intercepted by British agents. Rather than letting it get forwarded to its original recipient, they decide to keep it to themselves to make Wulfenbach's job harder.

  • Caffeine Bullet Time: Agatha has it. It is implied to be a Heterodyne thing.
  • Call-Back:
  • Calling Your Attacks: Done by Zola under the influence of a massive overdose of battle stimulants, resulting in a cry of "Chophead Tinybits!"
  • Came Back Wrong: Subverted. Apparently being brought Back from the Dead causes memory loss (as we have been repeatedly told) and frequently drives the recipient Ax-Crazy. However, when it happens to Tarvek, all it takes to bring him out of a homicidal rage is the following:
    Moloch: Uh... hey, check it out.
    Tarvek: Good Heavens.
    • Judy and Punch are also quite calm and harmless, though it may be the case that Constructs are more likely to not suffer side-effects than bog-standard humans when being revived. Plus, it was done by Gil, who is very very good.
    • It's also possible to prepare in advance for this; Dr. Mittlemind has been killed and revived numerous times, but has an external battery installed in his technically-always-dead cyborg-ish body, and comes through the procedure fine. (Well, he's still a Spark, but relatively speaking..)
  • Can't Live Without You:
    • When Gil supports both Agatha and Tarvek when they get infected by Hogfarb's Immolation.
    • Tweedle pretty much calls the trope by its name when he explains how he hopes to make Agatha compliant by linking her metabolism to his, so that she can't leave his side and can't kill him. Unfortunately for him, he dreadfully underestimated the Heterodyne girl. First, she realizes that needing him alive has nothing to do with him being "free and in charge", and she knocks him out and locks him up. And soon enough, she has transfered the dependancy to a wasp weasel pet.
  • Captured Super-Entity: The renegade Mad Scientists of Britain manage to capture an Eldritch Abomination from another dimension and attempt to use a device to transfer its knowledge into one of their own. Their leader successfully absorbs enough of its energy to achieve second breakthrough, a form of Enlightenment Superpower available to the most successful sparks.
  • Cartwright Curse: Being a suitor to Agatha is hazardous to your health.
  • Cast the Expert: In-Universe — Vex is playing Zeetha in the new Heterodyne play of Master Payne's circus, but she's also their fencing master and can hold her own against the real Zeetha, who wholeheartedly approves of her.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue:
  • The Cat Came Back: Othar. He's very hard to shake off, especially when he has set his eyes on a "spunky sidekick". Throw him in a pit, he'll walk back through another door a few seconds later. Lampshaded by Tarvek after he and Violetta tries to escape him with a "down and up" (that doesn't work):
    Tarvek: This is why he's a hero. He's very, very good at this.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Agatha: "You'll like him."
    • Tarvek: "I can't [really] complain."
    • Othar Tryggvassen (Gentleman Adventurer!): "Foul!"
    • Jägers eagerly sensing an impending battle: VE HUNT!!!
    • Several Sparks are fond of saying "I can work with that"; Agatha most often, but others have also used the line or variants of it on occasion.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • Discussed by Othar and Klaus.
      Othar Tryggvassen: What, tyrant? Does your empire give you no pleasure?
      Klaus Wulfenbach: No. It gives me no pleasure. Politics always annoyed me. Now I do it every day. I haven't seen my wife in years. My old friends are gone. I haven't traveled or explored. At least with the Heterodynes we had the adventures. The occasional fight. Now it's send in the armies, then the bureaucrats with mops. It's become an old formula.
    • And then by Master Payne.
      Master Payne: For all we know, those things are some new kind of revenant — and the only thing to do is kill them. Could you burn down people — women and children — even if you knew they had become monsters? ...The Baron can. The Baron has. I respect him for that, but I don't want to be him. No sane man would.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Europa is kind of a horrible place to live when you look past the coating of awesome steampunk technology, prevalent chivalric attitude, and cheerful fiction. Actual science is actually dead, which has effectively halted theoretical study, which means that the development of atomic energy, computers, and decent aircraft is not going to happen. Why bother working on fruitless theories that might become something much later when you can have awesome stuff now? Societal progress has (except for a few things such as the role of women and racism) also basically halted, with most of Europe frozen in the pre-Victorian era. Democracy is unheard of, and the Spark nobility often rule with an iron fist. The distribution of wealth is still largely at the top, with no sort of working-class consumer society developing. Oh, and there are monsters, diseases and devices that will kill you.
  • Crapsack World: The world is dominated by people and things who'd fit right in with Warhammer 40,000 Orks; a few years back the Other systematically leveled much of Europe using meteor-attacks before mysteriously falling silent. The only thing keeping things mostly in check is anti-villain dictator Klaus, who is quite willing to level cities in order to achieve such. His territory is described as containing a lot of empty space despite being central Europe, is littered with forgotten but highly-lethal Spark inventions, and walled-in cities are the closest one comes to safe. To quote the Secret Blueprints;
    The Gifted have always preferred to keep their knowledge proprietary. Machines and creatures must be built (or at least finished) only by the Masters and information is too great a weapon to be casually shared. There is great disregard for the state of the common people, and thus most scientific breakthroughs of the last hundred years or so have resulted not in a higher standard of living for all, but in new and interesting ways to smash your neighbor's castle. Most people outside of the main urban centers still live in a pre-industrial world made strange by the addition of cannibalized parts of discarded machines and the danger of real monsters lurking in the wilderness that surrounds traditional towns. Travel, although simple for those with airships or giant walking battle clanks, is a serious undertaking for the majority of ordinary people who must still use foot or animal transport on bad or nonexistent roads. One exception is the railway system of the Corbettite Monks, but this serves a limited area and has its own dangers. Even without the ravages of the Long War, life is uncertain.
    • However, Klaus' reluctant conquest has created A World Half Full. Thanks to him, Europa has mostly recovered from a devastating genocidal war that employed mad science bioweapons just decades ago, and is ruled by an extremely intelligent benevolent dictator who keeps the peace and lets most people get on with their lives. There are systems in place to contain the mad monstrosities that arise, and the people Othar has killed (usually) had it coming — to quote Agatha H. and the Airship City;
      One of the Wulfenbach Empire’s groundbreaking ideas had been that instead of exterminating rival Sparks after defeating them, Klaus hired them. He kept them happy by keeping them supplied with materials, tools, and food, and a dedicated staff that made sure they ate it. They found themselves free of the petty concerns that had plagued their lives, such as what to actually do with that small country once they had proved that they could conquer it with nothing more than a navy composed of intelligent lobsters. He also gave them challenges, adoring minions, and on a regular basis, a large dinner celebrating their accomplishments along with a beautiful calligraphed award expressing the sincere thanks of the Empire in general and Klaus in particular.
      As a result, almost any one of the Sparks Klaus had defeated over the years would have disintegrated you if you had seriously attempted to offer them their freedom, and they gleefully built and repaired the airships and the armies of clanks as well as the other terrifying monstrosities that supported the Pax Transylvania. This easily made up for the tightly guarded warehouses full of devices that made ants run backwards or could remove the rings from Saturn that they occasionally delivered in their free time.
      And of course, regular science marched on, if only in self-defense.
    • And then Klaus time-locks himself inside Mechanicsburg, demonstrating the key problem with dictatorships - especially skilled ones; his empire collapses overnight, the Long War is raging again, and copies of the Other are off somewhere running amok. Outside Europe, things aren't much better, with northern nations having a tax on fire. The greatest folk heroes are missing, and the second greatest folk hero is a serial killer.
      Rudolf Selnikov: The depressing thing? Twisted and ruthless as you people are, throwing in with you is a step up.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: You get the impression this happens a lot. Perhaps the most hilarious one would be curing Tarvek of a terrifying disease by killing him and then bringing him back to life. Even more hilarious given the way Agatha said the trope name. "This has a small, but fascinating, chance of actually working! Let's do it!"
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • Zola Malfeazium, as acknowledged even by The Other, who took care... only to discover she's been outmaneuvered once more.
    • Mechanicsburg itself. They have a system that showers the entire town in case they are attacked with poisonous or sleeping gas.
    • How Crazy-Prepared is Castle Heterodyne? It had preparations that allowed it to remain conscious and partially functional in the case of Mechanicsburg being attacked by a weapon that stops time, and mentions having more contingencies that one would even think possible. It was even defending the town with the Thorn Hedge while still locked inside stasis.
    • Zeetha wears special underwear — as do many actresses, apparently — against the chance that somebody uses Dr. Prometheus Bunbury's "Wacky Weave Destabilizer" on them — a device which disintegrates clothing without harming the wearer.
    • Violetta in particular, and the Smoke Knights in general. She carries a Grappling-Hook Pistol here, weapons, stimulants (in multiple grades up to 11), poisons, antidotes, solvents, elixirs, and a "hunting light", at all times. And that's just some of what we've seen so far.
    • Sparks, the lot of 'em. They've always got gadgets and tools appropriate for their needs.
      Sleipnir: Looks like an overloaded junction router! Do you have any butter?
      Violetta: Uh...
      Sleipnir: Never mind! Brought my own!
    • Maxim uses a fake Pearl of Skibazz to get past a ghostly submarine pirate who is blocking the way. He's saving the real one for emergencies. Of course.
      Dr. Rakethorn: I have... so many questions.
  • Creepy Cathedral: Welcome to the Red Cathedral
  • Crime of Self-Defense: A short-lived running gag about Gil defending his killing Dr. Beetle with "He threw a bomb at me!"
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The elite Vespiary squad are deadly against some of the most dangerous monsters in the series. Other people tend to view them as no threat, correctly. Their intended purpose is protecting humans from wasps, bringing them close to Technical Pacifists when it comes to fighting humans. Conversely, killing slaver wasps is reflexive to them.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Da Boyz. Oggie is the least bright of the three and he and Maxim are usually very friendly and happy-go-lucky, but don't let that fool you.
    • Zola looks like a vapid fool, but then she drops the "vapid fool" mask and soundly beats Zeetha and Violetta, and matches Higgs — three of the seven most capable physical fighters in the main cast. (The other four are Da Boyz — Oggie, Dimo and Maxim; and VonPinn, who's a construct.) Though her physical abilities were boosted by a Deadly Upgrade, she did have to steal the upgrade — from a Smoke Knight — requiring a different kind of badassery.)
  • Cry Cute:
  • Cryptic Background Reference: All over the place, as Chekhov's Guns, but Sanaa's backstory is one of the few that is likely never going to be explained further.
  • Cultured Badass:
    • Klaus and Gil at times, but definitely Tarvek.
    • The Jägergenerals can be this when they're not beating the hell out of someone.
    • Wooster's Badass Normal status puts him here as well.
    • Dolokhov can make tea or beat people up with equal effectiveness.
    • Jorgi, but don't you dare tell anybody.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The first time we see the Lapinemoths, them against Agatha, Zeetha, and Othar (GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER) was this.
    • Two in rapid succession. Zola drinks Movit #11 and one-shots Zeetha, but despite her incredible fighting ability, Higgs is beating her down so badly the panels can't keep up with his attacks.
    • Very early on, Dr. Beetle's Town Watch gets mowed down by the Wulfenbach clanks.
  • Cuteness Proximity:
    Krosp: I'm cute.
  • Cutlery Escape Aid: Tarvek uses a fork to get out of handcuffs after being kidnapped by The Incorruptible Library/his family.
    Tarvek: I've obviously been abducted. It's your uniform, you see, no Wulfenbach sigils to be seen—plus, Gil wouldn't leave me shackled... and if he did he'd never let me have a fork. So much more versatile than a knife.
  • Cut the Juice: Anticlimatic variant — "He's going to FRY— AND NO POWER ON EARTH CAN STOP IT!"
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • Agatha's method for dealing with Gil's super-fencing clank is this twice in a row. First, she simply throws her foil at the target button that stops it. Second time, after it starts back up again and is wise to Agatha's projective attacks, she walks towards it without any aggressive gestures and pushes the button with her own finger (all the while both times Gil is furiously defending against its onslaught).
    • Krosp's method of dealing with an out-of-control clank.
    Krosp: This thing just wants to catch someone, right?
    • Moloch solves the problem of an overloading panel by... pulling out the plug. He earns a Dope Slap for his efforts.
  • Cyanide Pill: After Gil's plan to help Moloch goes horribly awry when the slaver engine is started up on Castle Wulfenbach, Gil offers this up as a final aid since Moloch's being shipped as a prisoner to Castle Heterodyne (a death sentence in all but name). He didn't use it, so it might come back as a Chekhov's Boomerang.
  • Cyber Cyclops: Most little Clanks. Subverted, though, as it doesn't stop them from being more cute than sinister. Well, usually. Red Eyes, Take Warning, much?

  • Dance of Romance: After years of strips required to get the Baron and Lucrezia out of their heads so they could even have such a moment, Gil and Agatha finally share one, much to Tarvek's consternation.
  • Dark Action Girl:
  • Dartboard of Hate: Violetta had one after she was reassigned to Mechanicsburg.
  • Dead Guy on Display: The giant glass jars of Beetleburg that Taurus Beetle stuffs law-breakers into. Only applies for part of their tenure in those jars as they gotta be dead to be a Dead Guy On Display. If you look closely, there are mummified remains in some of the jars (during the "late for class" sequence).
  • Dead-Hand Shot: In the flashback to the night the Other attacked Castle Heterodyne Agatha's brother and Carson's son were both killed by falling debris and their hands are shown resting on the floor beyond the debris when Carson found them.
  • The Dead Have Names: Albia, God Queen of Britain, lists off all the names of those who died during an attack. Tweedle is a little disturbed to find that he still remembers every single name even hours later, and Gil explains that something about Albia's power means that they will in fact remember those names for the rest of their lives.
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation: Klaus' promising to explain everything to Gil is somewhere between this and Tempting Fate, ensuring that something would happen to prevent it. Klaus has been subsequently wasped and frozen in time, and the imprint of him living in Gil's head doesn't seem particularly inclined to share information.
  • Deadly Euphemism: When Zola runs into Agatha while in disguse as the Queen of the Dawn someone suggests that maybe she'll even get to sing for the Heterodyne. In respose Zola draws her gun while saying "Oh, I'll give her a song" before Terebithia snags the gun.
  • Deadly Upgrade: Movit #11 makes the user a LOT stronger and faster. It is also fatal or nearly fatal to the user.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Where to begin?
    • Krosp and Moloch seem to be in the story to snark at it, but almost everybody else gets their turn.
    • Sometimes Dr. Sun has such moments.
    • And Zeetha.
  • Death by Gluttony: The Deepdwellers have trouble stopping eating if there's food in front of them, and will continue to eat until they die "like goldfish".
  • Death by Irony: Two fold for Dr. Merlot. Author notes point out that the doctor probably would never achieve the Spark. Merlot burns all records, labs, notes, and the cryptigraphers when they discover that Agatha is a Heterodyne because he was afraid that he had expelled her and couldn't find her. He was afraid he would be blamed. He ends up in Castle Heterodyne and it turns out that if he had just told the baron who Agatha was, he probably would have been rewarded because she was captive on Castle Wulfenbach at that time. Furthermore, he does achieve the Spark due to his hatred of Agatha as he blames her for his imprisonment in Castle Heterodyne. Achieving the spark was his lifelong goal and his actions of burning the evidence both led directly to his death when the Castle killed him to protect Agatha.
  • Death Glare:
  • Death Is Cheap: The horrifying tendency towards murder that Sparks possess is made slightly less horrifying when you find out they can (under some circumstances) bring the dead back to life. Examples:
  • Death of the Hypotenuse:
    • Lars, anyone?
    • The Castle Heterodyne arc is an inversion of this, since a new hypotenuse came into play and a major chunk of a story arc was spent preventing his death.
    • And one of the "what if" stories even lampshaded this topic in amusing fashion. Why two boyfriends? (Cheshire Cat Grins from two female cast members and female co-author.) "Deal with it."
  • Death Ray: Just about every Spark has made one or something like one—though no-one but Agatha redesigns the landscape with them during sleep. Agatha considers Gil's NOT having built a death ray gross negligence of the highest order, going so far as to say "what's wrong with him?" He takes this criticism to heart, and most of his later inventions are somewhere between "Mobile Heavy Artillery" and "Force of Nature".
  • Defeat as Backstory: The Fifty Families are the traditional ruling houses of Europa, and they are all furious at having an "upstart" like Baron Wulfenbach having defeated them and forced them into subjugation to his Empire. The Storm King conspiracy gains grounds due to this as they all want one of their own to become the new Storm King and rule Europa and to that end worked for years to create a Storm King shaped hole, at least in people's minds, which causes the brutal and bloody swift return of the long war as soon as the Baron is out of the picture.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Unintentionally invoked by Gil when he accidentally zaps Zeetha's clothes off. Ultimately subverted when she chooses to keep fighting anyways.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Old Man Death puts it best: "I'm just a human. Rode with the Jägers. Never. Lost. A. Fight." No wonder they covet his Nice Hat.
  • Defensive "What?":
    • Baron Wulfenbach utters one when Dr. Sun calls him out for leaving his hospital bed in a "Medical Transport" clank.
    • When Dimo realizes that the self-powered coach they are using is being cannibalized by Agatha for her latest invention, just as they're trying to escape Parisian clanks, Agatha's sole response to his glare is a dismissive "What?" Then again, she's in the Madness Place, so it shouldn't be too surprising.
  • Defiant to the End: The Beast towards Agatha/Tweedle/The Corbettites as the fight turns against it.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Volume 1, "The Beetleburg Clank", makes wonderful use of this. Before Agatha's locket is removed, the comic is almost entirely in grayscale; the only color is some blue around the sound effects of Sparks' machines (and Agatha's green eyes). Right after the locket is removed, the colors are present but dim, as her Spark starts to assert itself although she still gets headaches — but in her most Spark-ish moments, the colors are bright and clear. By Volume 2, when the headaches have stopped, the entire comic is in full color. (Bright searing color, see Art Evolution above.) One flashback in Volume 2 shows the color fading the moment Agatha puts her locket back on. Originally, the first volume was black and white (it was a print comic) and that was the end of it. The retconned color is just full of symbolism.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: "To that person, I would give body and soul... and body. Do you understand?"
  • Destination Defenestration: One of Martellus's advisors defies his order and then starts talking down to him. So Martellus shuts him up.
    • Also seems to happen to Othar a lot on Castle Wulfenbach.
  • Determinator: Zeetha arrives at Agatha’s bedroom to wake her for training only to find Agatha had built an fighting exoskeleton to stall Zeetha. It took her 15 minutes to beat the machine. During which it knocked her through two windows, into the pig sty, the duck pond, the beehives, a vat of oatmeal, and down the main chimney.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Castle Heterodyne is able to instantly crush anyone in a "live" room, with extraordinary precision. Naturally, much of the action takes place in rooms where the Castle isn't yet repaired, so it can't help out.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Happens all the time. Just when the characters think their plans are set, just when the audience thinks it knows what is going to happen next, some Chekhov's Gun will be taken off the mantle and fired, some character who we haven't seen for several months or years will suddenly reappear to immensely consequential effect, or some machine will malfunction at exactly the wrong (or right) time, radically reorienting the direction of the plot in a very short amount of time.
  • Dilating Door: Zola and her crew when she's trying to usurp power as a false Hetrodyne get stuck for a while trying to force a dilating door open in Castle Heterodyne. The castle kills one of her lackeys and paints "The Heterodyne Must Enter Alone" above the door in his blood.
  • Direct Lineto The Author:
    • The entire comic is postulated as a course on the life of Agatha Heterodyne, as taught by the Professors Foglio at Transylvania Polygnostic University ("Know enough to be afraid"). Phil Foglio is also shown telling the tale in the street right on page one. (An alternative tryout sketch released online seems to have Agatha herself telling the story to her grandchildren.) The first print collection, Agatha Heterodyne & The Beetleburg Clank, is presented as an unauthorized but accurate record published by TPU, Phil Foglio having witnessed Agatha's "Battle Circus" himself; later, he is indeed in town when the Battle Circus episode occurs. We even see the Foglios meet while Agatha is in Paris.
    • During the "radio play" episodes of the webcomic, Studio Foglio are repeatedly shown escaping as they perform the last seconds of the episode just as the real (and angry) Agatha Heterodyne and her friends are about to catch them and stop the show.
  • Dirty Business: Barry, in the flashback where he gave Agatha her locket, is crying over the effect it will have on her.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • During the Corbettite train ride, Agatha takes in Lady Margarella Selnikov, a fugitive pro-Tarvek holdout in the Storm King Conspiracy after Martellus strongarms his way in. Since Agatha herself is also trying to travel incognito, she can't go the Big Showy Clank route in thwarting any would-be assassins for Margarella. So she instead hatches a plan to distract any intruders with the ruse that she is in the middle of changing dress and is clad only in a bath towel. After she shrieks and flusters the propriety of the intruder, they either walk away, or push the issue only to be gunned down by a death ray-packing Krosp. After several botches, it finally works.
    • Hilariously, Zeetha and Higgs being Distracted by the Sexy is the only reason they made it out of Mechanicsburg before the time stop.
    • The two smoke knights that followed Agatha into the hidden library. One is there to spy, the other's job is to distract him.
      Malek: ...Does this mean no more kissing?
      Varpa: ...Less kissing.
  • Distracted from Death: The Master of Paris is murdered in cold blood less than a block away from a crowd that was just cheering him on while he fought the Storm King by a backstabbing traitor. His death goes unnoticed due to the spectacle Martellus is making, having grabbed the Storm King's crown and started up an impromptu parade. The Master dies quietly with no one the wiser until Colette realizes what has happened to her father and furiously takes control of the city as the new master.
  • Distressed Damsel: Zola, for a while. Considering what happens later, it may have been completely an act. Even at the time she appears to intentionally pick up the Distress Ball to draw attention from Gil to herself. Which makes the spider hazard, and its resolution, a satisfying comeuppance.
  • Divine Right of Kings: The novels poke fun at this, noting that all the royals are really just descendants of cutthroats and brigands, who are now annoyed that, with the industrial revolution and the rise of the Spark, their power is significantly less meaningful than it once was.
    • This is taken far more seriously by Martellus von Blitzengaard, who's spent more of his screentime working to legitimize his claim to the title of Storm King than he has actually doing much with that claim. Chief among his machinations include securing the allegiance of an order of train-running Monks whose authority and sovereignty is respected all throughout Europa, and acquiring the sword of the first Storm King, an artifact with a LOT of power.
  • Do-Anything Robot: Dingbots!
  • Doctor's Orders: Both Dr. Sun and Mama Gkika believe in their authority in medicinal matters. And if you try to go against them, you will end up back in their care - only in a much worse state.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
  • A Dog Ate My Homework: "Sorry, professor, my latest experiment ate my lecture notes..."
  • Domed Hometown: The city of London is set in a massive series of undersea glass domes, due to a cabal of unknown Sparks causing the whole of Britain to sink into the ocean.
  • Doomed Hometown: Years before the start of the comic Klaus Wulfenbach returned to a world in chaos with the long war going strong, revenants terrorizing the countryside and his own family's historical seat and castle in ruins. He responded by creating a flying fortress, destroying the remaining forces of the Other and conquering every Spark and noble house that refused to stop fighting, creating the Pax Transylvania.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom:
  • Dope Slap:
  • Double Entendre:
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Professor Tiktoffen was everybody's inside man.
  • The Dragon: Vrin was this to The Other during the incident in Sturmhalten being the leader of the Geisterdamen.
  • Dragons Versus Knights: When the battle between Franz, the biomechanical dragon construct who guards Mechanicsburg, and another dragon is interrupted by a group of giant robots sent by the Knights of Jove, Franz asks the other dragon if these guys are on his side. The latter is apparently quite insulted by the implication that he would associate with knights.
    Franz: Ah— some of your... friends?
    Red dragon: Don't be insulting. They're knights!
  • Dramatic Irony: Kjarl, who has just been freed from being Unstuck in Time, finally manages to get a coherent conversation in about the time stop afflicting Mechanicsburg. He admits that with the information available to him, he's not quite sure how bad it is... but reassures everyone that it can't be too bad — otherwise there'd be Dreen. Y'know, those same Dreen that had been revealed seven real-world years ago.
  • Dramatic Stutter:
    • When Otilia's body isn't in the best shape. He-he-hhello, S.H.O.D.A.N.:
      Otilia: Yesss—but let's ju/ust add the next step, sha/all we?
    • Also present with Tinka.
  • Drill Tank: The Deep 6 Model; also something of a Punny Name.
  • Dr. Jerk:
    • Less jerk and more questionable bedside manner. Agatha to Tarvek.
    • Dr. Sun also has that reputation.
      Selnikov: Ah, yes. That "Sun-ny bedside manner" everybody talks about.
  • The Dreaded:
    • It's strongly suggested that the old Heterodynes were this to the whole continent. Even after Bill and Barry redeemed their family's name and there was no Heterodyne in residence, people of Europa felt much safer with Mechanicsburg completely disarmed.
      • Barry himself is this to Lucrezia. The very thought that he is unaccounted for and could still return terrifies her, as shown here.
    • The Dreen. Even Bangladesh DuPree, the Jäger generals, and slaver wasps are terrified of them.
    • The Baron's Pax Transylvania is built on the idea that he will annihilate anyone who dares to break the peace. It works well enough that Zola tells Lucrezia that he rules Europa by virtue of being too powerful to oppose.
  • Drop the Hammer: Hoffman's "Kinetic Energy Accumulator". Whack things with it for a week, switch it to "Discharge", and obliterate clank vehicles with a hammer that looks like a toy.
  • Drop Pod: Klaus has a personal set of "drop armor" kept onboard Castle Wulfenbach. Its only in-series appearance thusfar has been when he used it during the Siege of Mechanicsburg to get past the town's air defense system and " "surrender unconditionally" " to General Gkika.
    Krosp: Up there! It's coming in fast, and throwing off everything the castle's sending against it!
    Van: I can't believe it! Our defenses are only slowing it down!
    Vidonia: What is it?
    Krosp: I've got the Wulfenbach fleet memorized, and I have no idea.
    Ruxala: Is it a bomb?
    Tarvek: It's too slow and complicated to be a bomb.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Gil suffered from this regularly until he ascended to his father's title. "What do I have to do?! I just took down an entire army of clanks, and still I get treated like a halfwit child!"
  • Due to the Dead:
    • The Jägers feel it is important that those that ride with them and help protect the Hetrodynes are not left on the battlefield to rot or be used by the enemy. First shown with Maxim and Lars.
    • Von Zinzer is adamant that no deceased prisoners of the Castle be looted or used for parts, a sentiment his fellow prisoners do not share.
  • Dull Surprise: While Dimo is usually quite expressive when he is laying on the floor getting his bearings and realizing that the recent explosion did not kill him he blandly states: "Huh. Howzabout dot. Hy is not dead. Dot is verra sooprizink."
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Rustics say about Geisterdamen that they cause revenants, steal children, blight crops — the usual, right? Then again, Two out of Three Ain't Bad.
  • Dynamic Entry: Zeetha, defining "good timing".
    Professor Mezzasalma: And who the devil is this?!
  • Dysfunction Junction:
    • The Sturmvoraus family. Dear Gott, the Sturmvoraus family. Their name, when translated out of German, means "Storm ahead" (in the sense of a weather forecast) so that's no surprise.
      Tarvek: You don't last very long in our family unless you've got a good nose for intrigue.

      Tarvek: The only way to keep my family in line would be to bury them in a row.
    • And then there's the Mongfish family, which is at least as dysfunctional as the Sturmvorauses (with the same occasional distribution of good guys).
    • The old Heterodynes were no pushovers in this. See Axe-Crazy and Big, Screwed-Up Family.
    • There's only one dynasty that doesn't seem prone to it: the Wulfenbachs. And, in a way, that's worrying.

  • Early Installment Weirdness: Europe is consistently called "Europa" by everyone in the comic - except the very first volumes, where it's called "Europe" a few times.
  • Eating the Enemy: Jägers get rather excited about fighting the Other's wasps, because not only do the things cause mind control which the Jägers revile they're also tasty bugs that the Jägers love eating.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: While Gil gets Othar back up to speed after the Time Tunnelers extract him from the Take-Five Bomb field, several Wulfenbach minions ogle the shirtless Othar... and then all express disappointment at Gil's issuance of Othar's turtleneck.
    • Before when Gil was treated at Mamma Gkika' bar after stopping war clanks alone, he was stripped naked. When he woke up and still not wearing pants, bar wenches likes it.
  • Edible Bludgeon: The granddaughter of an old shopkeeper, whose hat Maxim wanted as a trophy, threatened to hit him with a giant kosher salami, if he wouldn't tell her why he put a Jägermonster (Maxim) through a window.
    Old Man Death: AAAH! Not with the schlognwurst!note  It's expensive!
  • Eldritch Abomination: There are extra-dimensional horrors scary enough to dissuade even Mad Scientists like the Heterodynes from messing with time. When time is disturbed, they notice. They worry even the castle.
    • And Baron Wulfenbach apparently got those same guys to work for him. They are called the Dreen, and they terrify even Jäger Generals.
  • Emergency Cargo Dump: During the attack on Mechanicsburg, an airship crew realizes that the city's anti-aircraft defences are still operational. They begin frantically throwing everything they can overboard in an effort to gain altitude. This eventually includes their employer, who threatened to have them all killed for running away.
  • Emperor Scientist: The entire world is run by these. Baron Wulfenbach is an especially fine specimen.
  • Enemy Civil War: The Knights of Jove/Storm King Conspiracy is not as unified as one might think... Some of them are even on Agatha's side.
  • Enemy Mine: It'd be easier to list the times where this trope isn't in effect. Agatha's at odds with the Wulfenbachs, who's at odds with Tarvek Sturmvoraus, who's at odds with Martellus von Blitzengaard, who's at odds with the rest of their family, and so on and so forth. And that's just the main characters. There are so many sides at play with so many conflicting goals that it's no wonder Europa's spent so much time at war with itself. And yet, pretty much all of these parties have had cause to ally with the next against some more immediate threat, or against The Other in general.
  • Enfant Terrible: Not quite yet, but when Gil rides out with the "devil dogs" to defend Castle Heterodyne until it's all the way fixed and goes into full-on ape-shit Spark mode, this conversation happens:
    Council Member: But—I thought the new Heterodyne was a girl!
    Vanamonde: She is. That's just the boyfriend.
    Council Member: That's—
    Vanamonde: Uh-huh.
    Council Member: We're...we're going to have to break out those little iron cages for their children, aren't we?
  • Entitled Bastard: The sneering Strinbeck orders the crew to keep Zola's pink zeppelin in Mechanicsburg airspace, even though the crew has observed the reactivation of Mechanicsburg's surface-to-air defense net. A subsequent order to dump useless objects overboard for an emergency climb suddenly becomes Destination Defenestration.
  • Epic Hail:
    • Agatha's signal from Sturmhalten.
    • The Doom Bell.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The old Heterodynes have been described as monsters. But as bad as they were, they did at least care about their family and minions.
    • It might be a bit of a stretch to label them as "evil", but it's clear that Professor Mittelmind and Fraulein Snaug genuinely care about each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Averted in the radio dramas: Othar's query to a pirate captain of "Isn't that a bit sexist?" is responded to by saying that they're evil, they're basically politically incorrect for a living!
    • And Bang apparently hates mind control. Run amok and cause pointless destruction? She'll want to date you! But go in for mind control, or allow it to be done to you...uh-uh!
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: Discussed, with crashing airships.
    Goomblast: Vy dun it blow op?
    Other General: 'Cos dot only hoppens in dose cheap novels, hyu old fool.
  • Everyone Can See It: Almost everyone can tell that Gil and Agatha are quite besotted with each other, sometimes just by hearing them talk about each other. The trope is played with, because the two involved also see it but can't do much about it.
  • Everyone Is Armed: One poor Smoke Knight experiences this here
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Castle Heterodyne. Also, again, Showtime!
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Or Evil-Detecting Weasel in this case — the "Wasp eaters", an engineered construct species made for the Wulfenbach Vespiary Squad designed to detect and sometimes kill Slaver Wasps. They were mostly pointless before, since slaver-wasped people turned into rather conspicuous mindless Revenants. However, it's been discovered that the zombie revenants were an aberration, and the true intent of the slaver wasps was to create completely hidden sleeper agents, which the wasp eaters are quite useful in detecting. A pack of fully grown wasp eaters can snap up a large number of infector wasps and the make quick work of a warrior wasp, and they even developed a giant wasp eater to combat the possibility of non-sessile wasp queens. Agatha now has one as a Weasel Mascot.
  • Evil Gloating: Sparks in general, and particularly evil ones, seem to be fond of doing this.
  • Evil Hand: May be a side effect of the Spark, as Agatha demonstrates.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Zola and Lucrezia each discovered this while trying to manipulate the other.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • Or sometimes, not so much an evil laugh as an insane one; basically every Spark at some point while they're in The Madness Place.
    • Zola post-Movit-11 has had a few.
    • Lucrezia too, though it's not entirely apparent if it's the Spark, her personality, or both causing it.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Post-Time Skip, and the Geisterdamen are against the Queen of Dawn, also known as Zola. Although it's hinted that it's all a set-up on the Queen's part.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At:
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin:
  • Exact Words:
    • Dame Aedith's cart has signs on it asking if people have anaemia, or allergies to garlic, crosses or sunlight, and notes that it can help. It never specifies as to how.
    • In the "Revenge of the Weasel Queen" side-story, Agatha announces that she's going to test her "pocket de-arming device." Her opponent sneers, proclaiming he has no need of weapons. It turns out the device chops off its target's arms.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask:
  • Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap!:
    Dreen: Now- you will experience an important revelation.
    Gil: Wait, I'll what?
    Bang: Blood and ash, I hate it when they pull that omniscient act.
    Gil: They're not omniscient. My father says they're simply tangential to time as we know it, and...
    * beat*
    Gil: "And... they had hats..."
    • Later, Agatha's group is informed that an incoming ship is transporting a prisoner who hijacked one of England's sea serpents. As hijacking said sea serpents is no easy task, Violetta is surprised a single person managed to do it in the first place. Wooster then informs her it's actually possible, and starts telling her an anecdote that was going to be about Gil pulling a similar stunt in the past... before his brain puts two and two together.
    • Lord Bunstable is explaining to Agatha why people were up in arms over Professor Tobin's research into higher dimensions and the implication that intelligent, higher-order life exists. Agatha can't understand why anyone would be concerned, since the only way such beings would even known humanity exists would be if humans interfered with some fundamental force, like gravity... or time.
  • Exploding Closet: In Volume 1 Agatha creates one. Gil opens it. The plot is off its leash and has soon crossed its event horizon.
  • Explosive Overclocking:
    • Movit #11, for most people. Zola seems to have survived, but only because she is now under the care of Dr. Sun.
    • Agatha's death ray inconveniently shorts out during the Passholdt Bridge battle... so she jury-rigs it into a bomb to demolish the bridge and cut off the horde of fast revenants rushing out of the town.
  • Exponential Plot Delay: Agatha's efforts to repair Castle Heterodyne and officially be recognized as the Heterodyne heir lasted three years and ten months, starting from the time she entered the castle and ending when she ordered the Doom Bell be rung. The actual ringing of the bell lasted another three weeks. Tarvek was critically ill and about to die for just short of 15 months. The general concept is lampshaded in this strip. And again here, "It only seem like deyz been in de kestle a long time!" Also, Krosp points out how long his absence lasted in real time, while Agatha states how long it has been in-comic.
  • Expospeak Gag: Various, such as the radio signs reading "Upon the Aether".
  • Expressive Accessory: Zeetha's headband, with the little face on it that always has the same facial expression as she does. At first, it was nebulous as to whether it was just an artistic affectation or if it was actually imitating her expressions, but attention has since been brought to its function by some of the characters.
  • The Extremist Was Right:
    • Klaus, former Trope Namer. After returning from Skifander with Gil in tow, he found a world ruined after the Other's attack, with no Heterodynes to be seen. So he started rebuilding things his way, with no negotiations, no second chances. People did as he said, or wake up with an army on their doorstep. And it worked.
    • Also, Tarvek ("I'm not proud of that, but...").
  • Eyes Do Not Belong There: Snoz, one of the early-bird monsters that joined the Battle of Mechanicsburg on Agatha's side after the Doom Bell rang, has his mouth where his eyes should be and his eyes where his mouth should be.
    • Also one of the Parisian researchers that specializes in eye organ placed his patient's new eye in his mouth. This action makes other people avoid being his patients.
  • Extremely Short Time Span: While there's a time skip of two years just before the change of story arcs, for Agatha, Violetta, Krosp and Tarvek the story from Volume 5 onward takes place over the span of about a month.


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