Girl Genius provides examples of the following tropes:
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- Painting the Medium:
- Speech bubbles tell you a lot about a person. As a Spark descends into the Madness Place, their bubbles become increasingly fragmented. Clanks have rectangular ones with a fancy, old-fashioned font, and Jägermonsters have slightly rough borders on theirs. A few characters (Von Pinn, Castle Heterodyne) have unique bubbles.
- Flashbacks and memory recollections are denoted by sepia panel colors.
- When Agatha's spark is suppressed at the very beginning, the comic is colored in harsh black and white. After the locket suppressing it is stolen, color begins to return to the comic in decreasingly-washed-out shades until the comic is eventually in vibrant full color. It didn't quite end there, either; when the comic first returned to full color, it was bright and positively garish, reflecting Agatha's hyperactive Sparkiness as her mind and body adjust to it. Once they have adjusted (and she's no longer eating enough for at least three people), the garishness is toned down a little. You could argue that some of this is Art Evolution, though.
- At one point, Gil smashes Tarvek's head into a wall so hard it cracks the panel border.
- The Pardon: Suggested to Agatha as a way to get the prisoners on her side.
- Parental Hypocrisy: The moment when Gilgamesh jumps in to play corrida with what amounts to a small locomotive with legs and arms, giving his father time to analyze its structure. Klaus roars at him for taking an unnecessary risk, but Jägermonsters eagerly express approval when they see a badass performance, so right at the next page a Jäger sergeant quietly tells Gil that Klaus himself "doz crazy schtupid sctoff like dot all de time." Of course, as they both are mad scientists with chronic anti-hero syndrome, it wasn't likely to be the craziest for either.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: According to Zeetha and the Jägers' speculations, Agatha has been avoiding getting sexy with her Love Interests - and other hot men - because she's got Lucrezia in her head, and she doesn't want her mother watching and/or involved.
- Parrot Pet Position:
- Agatha's little clank, sometimes — and not necessarily when she wants it to.
- Also her weasel, once she needs to keep it close by at any time.
- Pass the Popcorn:
- Boris and Gil are having tea and pretzels while sending a Jäger to test out a rogue clank.Boris: You see, Herr Baron. Entertaining, but harmless.
- Snaug enjoys watching Gil and Tarvek fight. Where did she get popcorn deep below Castle Heterodyne, you may ask? Who cares?
- And later, so does Zeetha: "AGATHA! You're missing the show."
- Boris and Gil are having tea and pretzels while sending a Jäger to test out a rogue clank.
- The Patient Has Left the Building: Klaus Wulfenbach makes his escape in style: on a giant mecha while still in a hospital bed and surrounded by two nurses, to the exasperation of Dr. Sun.
- People Jars:
- Dr. Beetle in Beetleburg put criminals into giant glass jars to perish.
- Gil is temporarily trapped in one of these in the aptly named chapter, "Hero in a Jar".
- Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek get stuck in them by Zola/Lucrezia.
- Pet the Dog:
- The Baron stops in the middle of chasing Agatha just to make sure Zulenna gets revived (DuPree stabbed her when she was defending Agatha). When questioned, he bluntly states that it was his fault, and that the girl didn't deserve to die. He has several other moments like this, to demonstrate that even though he's a major antagonist, he is still a good man.
- Lucrezia does seem rather fond of her nephew DuMedd... at first.
- Bangladesh DuPree was apparently devastated once the Baron was presumed killed at the hospital seeing as the mere memory causes her to burst into tears.
- Zola appears to have genuinely fond feelings for Gil and attempts to keep him alive even while ruthlessly chopping into all the other protagonists.
- Doctor Mittlemind, and the Sparks in Castle Heterodyne as a whole, have different priorities on what counts as Petting the Dog.Doctor Mittlemind: I always made sure my test subjects were let out for Christmas.
[beat, as everyone stares in horror]
Mittlemind: What kind of madman do you take me for?! I'm obviously not talking about the control group!
[sighs of relief from the other Sparks]
- Phlebotinum Overload:
- After Agatha drinks from the Dyne (when Higgs offers a cup of "water" to her.) She stops it before she explodes, however, by channeling the extra energy into the dying Gil and Tarvek, revitalizing them in the process.
- After Zola downs a vial of Movit#11, which is basically a supercharged energy drink, Violetta's solution to stop the rampage is to inject her with more Movit#11, which will apparently lead to a complete nervous collapse (or possibly cause her to combust).
- Pictorial Speech Bubble: With multiple characters:
- Bangladesh DuPree, when her jaw is broken:
- Gil: Kill everyone who enters, except Dr. Sun and myself.
DuPree: [Man] [Woman] [Child]?
Gil: Yes, everyone.
DuPree: [Knife] [Gun] [Axe] [Cheese]?
Gil: Yes, however you want.
DuPree: [glomping Gil] [World's Best Boss trophy]!
- Pie in the Face: The Calming Pies.
- Pimped-Out Dress: A number show up, for various reasons.
- Pink Elephants: Some drinks are so potent the drinkers see flying pink mimmoths.
- Pinned to the Wall: A variant when Zeetha is sparring with Bang: she pins the Pirate Girl with one of her own knives to the floor not through a sleeve but through her long braided tail. Right in the path of a massive pendulum.
- Pirate Girl: For a long time, every single pirate (or proud Europan of pirate-descent) seen in the strip has been female, though male pirates do exist; the captain taking Tarvek to England says both her parents were pirates, and we do finally meet ex-pirate Ulysses Bonney in person.
- Pirates vs. Ninjas: What basically happens when a shipful of Smoke Knights attack the air pirates taking Tarvek to England.
- Planet of Hats: Somewhat. The Jägermonsters' hat is not only the prominence of literal hats, it's also that these hats are to them as a sword is to a samurai.
- Playboy Bunny: During the Weasel Queen omake, Zeetha and Agatha evoke this trope with their "rabbit costumes".
- Playing Possum: Evidently Violetta has seen her aunt the Lady Margarella Selnikov play dead before and initially thinks she's doing so again when she is killed by the Beast, removing the cloth respectfully placed to cover her mangled face convinces Violetta that she's not faking this time.
- Please Put Some Clothes On:
- Gil is very polite about it when he encounters a subordinate who'd gone Sleepwalking:Gil: Oh, there is one thing... If you're going to be working with me, I'd appreciate it if you wore clothes.
Agatha: [realizing she's still in her underwear] EEP!
- Violetta phrases it a little less politely in one strip.Violetta: All right, you buffoon — I dug around in the back room and found you some clothes. So get dressed!
She may be too busy saving your stupid life to notice, but you're not going to walk around in front of my lady without pants!
- After freeing Othar Tryggvassen — Gentleman Adventurer! — from the frozen time bubble, and explaining to him the new situation in Europa, Gil Wulfenbach asks him, for goodness sake, to put a shirt on... because his Shirtless Scene is a big distraction for Gil's subordinates, who are busy Eating the Eye Candy rather than doing their jobs. They're all quite disappointed.
- Gil is very polite about it when he encounters a subordinate who'd gone Sleepwalking:
- Plot Armor: While named characters do die, it's still a rare occurrence, compared to the casualty rate of the Mooks. To show that this is not due to the characters following the What Measure Is a Mook? trope, they often try but fail to kill their significant enemies. It's become a minor Running Gag for characters to complain their gun pulls to the left just after they only wounded their opponent with it.
- Pocket Protector: Nothing like a book fanatic who just found a rare book to invert this.
- Poison-and-Cure Gambit: Given a Mad Scientist twist — the man who administered the poison is the cure, and it only works if he's alive, so Agatha needs to stay close and keep him safe. Until she subverts it with a substitute. By the next page.
- Politeness Judo: Agatha minionizes Moloch without him even realizing it after he puts on a tirade about how he's not her minion by exercising this.
- Poor Communication Kills: Subverted in some cases, played straight in others.
- Instead of explaining to Agatha that Othar is an insane serial killer of Sparks, Gil basically tries to cow her into ignoring that he and his father are imprisoning a well-known hero. When Agatha worries for Othar's safety during an evacuation, Gil tries to brush it off again. He does begin to explain after she gives him a hard look but by then she was already going back to save Othar.
- Agatha's possession by the Other is set up as a big secret that could cause all sorts of problems, but Zeetha goes out of her way to mention it to Gil at the very first opportunity. However, Klaus is not aware of the true situation, and is unlikely to be willing to talk about it now that he's been wasped, and knows that talking would allow her to control him.
- Subverted again, and significantly, here. Dimo has just informed the Jägergenerals and Klaus's leadership about the situation, which will presumably reach Klaus's ears presently. Whether Klaus believes him remains to be seen. The generals seem confident that Agatha can beat the Other.
- Agatha sends out a bunch of messenger clanks to warn Klaus Wulfenbach about her possession by the Other. The only surviving messenger clank gets intercepted by Albia's agents. Due to a mixture of this trope and Bystander Syndrome, the message never makes it to its intended audience, or even to Queen Albia herself. Albia's agents decide that keeping the message to themselves is an excellent way to make Klaus's life harder. By the time they are ready to send it higher up, Agatha and Klaus have both been frozen in time, making them think it isn't relevant anymore. When they start seeing signs that it might be relevant again, they again decide to ignore it to cause Gilgamesh Wulfenbach trouble. By the time the clank resurfaces, its original purpose has become completely irrelevant.
- Portal Network: The Queen's mirrors, a collection of ancient artifacts that connected the realms together. They mysteriously stopped working long ago, and even the ancient Queen Albia doesn't seem to understand how they work, but they will sometimes reactivate unpredictably.
- Powered Armor:
- The fighting-augmentation exoskeleton, an exoskeleton that speeds up and amplifies Agathas movements as well as responds to attacks.
- Also Vorthang Heterodyne's "sunday best" armor, which Agatha repairs during the battle for Mechanicsburg. This one may also cross over into Mecha territory.
- Power High: When Agatha is subjected to the effect of Dyne water plus electroshock for the first time and feels godlike. Later the Castle implies it's a normal reaction:Agatha: I believe another forty-five point three seconds, and I would have exploded or something. [...] Oh, yeah... I have got to try that again!
- Power Limiter: The Heterodyne locket Barry gives Agatha is meant to subdue her sparkyness. She eventually outgrows this, and the locket has found a new use in keeping the Other contained. The device only works properly on sparks, unfortunately for Omar von Zinzer, it is fatal to normal humans.
- The Power of Love: A minor case — at one point when Agatha is under the control of the Other, it becomes obvious that Gil will die without her help. So Agatha shrugs off the possession long enough to get the locket (mentioned above) on.
- Power Perversion Potential:
- "D'Omas' taste in women was, well... Let's just say it was lucky for him he could build his own."
- Castle Heterodyne is full of restraints.
- His and hers.
- "Look, I'm a girl with needs.... They have tool belts?" (From the Mad Scientist version of Cinderella.)
- Lucrezia seems well aware of the possibilities inherent in her mind control devices.
- Back on Sparks in general, Sparks, especially in places like Mechanicsburg, can practically take over someone's mind with their voice and not a lot else (strong-willed humans can resist it, but some people are just "natural minions".) Easy access to minions, the uses of the control voice, and the "tools" a Spark can make.... A Heterodyne is this Up to Eleven: not only are they incredibly powerful even in comparison to other Sparks, but they have a natural Command Voice. Agatha manages to even command a group of Sparks, something that others had only managed by threatening them with a over-the-top army or weapon.
- Power Trio:
- Power Walk: Jägermonsters pull one here. Subverted slightly since most of them are already inside the city and the walk is just to fool enemies.
- Precursors: There is an ancient civilization predating even the God Queens. They mastered a science revolving around dimensions, space, and time, allowing them to construct a Portal Network that even modern Sparks struggle to understand.
- Present Company Excluded: Zeetha hates assassins at parties.
- Primal Scene: Possibly parodied in the novelization, where we learn that the young Agatha was deeply traumatized when she walked in on her adoptive parents recharging each other with generators.
- Privateer: Captain Hawkins and the crew of the Mopey Tortoise airship are privateers in the service of England.
- Projectile Toast: Death Ray toast, anyway...Gil: It looks like a toaster.
Agatha: ... well, it is a toaster. Sort of.
Gil: Sort of?
Agatha: Oh yes. It could toast the whole town.
- Properly Paranoid: Rudolf Selnikov, a high and haughty lord that is/was part of the Knights of Jove, shaves himself because of the Decadent Court that the order is.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Jägers in general, with varying degrees of "proud" and "warrior" for individuals. For example, when Boris beats the crap out of a Jäger messenger to find out where the generals were meeting, their response was surprise and respect, saying that he'd "earned" the right to talk with them. Also, they take their oath of loyalty very seriously. General Goomblast even explains that the reason the Jägers hate the Other's bugs is that they force people to obey.
- Psycho Serum:
- The waters of the River Dyne.
- Movit#11 is no joke either.
- Public Secret Message:
- Jenka and Füst are confronted during an apparent rampage in the town of Zumzum by Da Boyz who declare that they were "... Charged by the ancient contract vit' de job ov savin' all dese people!" Considering that the Jägers only started serving Baron Wulfenbach about 15 years ago, reference to an ancient contract by any of them can only mean one thing: the Jägertroth. Not missing a beat, Jenka beats feet out of there to meet in a more discrete location with them to get apprised.
- The Baron tells the Storyteller a strange variant on an old tale, involving a witch riding on a wolf's back. He tells the Storyteller that Gil has a copy of a long-lost book to motivate the man to go to Gil. When Tarvek and Gil hear the story, Tarvek immediately gets what it means: the Baron has been wasped by the Other, a message he couldn't have told them directly.
- Pun-Based Creature: One of the creatures brought to the siege of Mechanicsburg is a literal battering ram used to try to break down the city's gates.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
- Punctuated Pounding: Tarvek to Zola. Not explicit, but he's just got to be timing his punches to his exclamation points.
- Punny Name: Doubling as Bilingual Bonus. Dr. Beetle's first name, "Tarsus", is the insect equivalent of the foot. Not a particularly meaningful pun, but it's there.
- Puppeteer Parasite: Slaver wasps. Early versions just turned people into mindless revenants. Later versions could create sleeper agents who behaved otherwise normally unless given a command by the Other. The latest version can even infest Sparks, who were otherwise immune due to drastically different mental states from normal people.
- Put on a Bus:
- Moloch Von Zinzer got put on an airship bus to Castle Heterodyne after his whole ruse fell apart on Castle Wulfenbach. Agatha eventually bumps into him there and becomes her first ally on the inside.
- Then Zola and Anevka — both Lucrezia copies drop out of sight following the destruction of the hospital. Zola has, apparently, since reappeared in the guise of the Queen of the Dawn.
- The fan-nicknamed "Take Five Bomb" which froze Mechanicsburg in time, took a lot of characters on a long double-decker bus ride. Among them are Moloch and the rest of the Wandering Band of Heroic Repairmen, most of the Jäger Generals, the man who deliberately detonated the Take Five Bomb, Klaus Wulfenbach himself, Tarvek (which is a good thing because he was mortally poisoned and had minutes to live at the time), Theo and Sleipnir, Castle Heterodyne (though it has proven somewhat resistant to the effects), the Von Mekkahns, and many more. Othar Tryggvassen, GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER was also last seen in the area of effect, but since he has a power of inexplicable extrication, it is doubtful he was stuck there for long. And Boris, the Baron's second-in-command, dropped out of sight at this point as well, even though he presumably wasn't even in the radius of the bomb's effects. Indeed Boris had escaped and helped Agatha in Paris and Othar was saved from the effect by Gil's team who are ignorant of the man's faults. Gil manages to extract Othar, Vole, young Von Mekkahn and Tarvek, so these are now officially off the ride.
- Queer Flowers: Agatha, Zeetha, and Violetta have shared a bed, showered in front of each other, and washed each other's hair.
- Quirky Town: Mechanicsburg. Lampshaded when one of the inhabitants wonders if growing up there made them weird. After he ensures the town's children are safely in the protection of their ancestors... a group of undead crypt-dwellers.Undead Thing: Snotulous child! I will smite your allowance!
- Quote Mine: Agatha's recorded message that Lucrezia Mongfish is the Other and that someone should warn Baron Wulfenbach ends up being edited to say that Baron Wulfenbach is the Other. Needless to say, this causes problems.
- Race Against the Clock: In the side-story "Ivo Sharktooth, P.J.", the winners' trophy for a prestigious race is found to be missing just after the racers set off, and bad things will happen if it's not found in time to be presented at the end of the race. Fortunately, it's the annual Mechanicsburg Harvest Festival Snail Race, and the snails take four days to complete the course.
- Rage Against the Author:
- In a filler strip, Agatha can't be convinced that Phil and Kaja Foglio have legitimately earned the Hugo Award, suspecting some mind control at work.Phil Foglio: Maybe we just won.
- In 2011 they decided to shut down the mind-control device and resign from the category.
- In a filler strip, Agatha can't be convinced that Phil and Kaja Foglio have legitimately earned the Hugo Award, suspecting some mind control at work.
- Raised Hand of Survival: The Storm King's zombie knights shove their hands through the cobblestones shortly after the Master of Paris buries them in a temporary chasm in the street while they try to attack his city.
- Probably subverted when Violetta stabs Madwa Korel. While their arm and hand are raised in the next panel it's just because Violetta was taking something out of their hand, and she later says she's pretty sure they're really dead.
- Randomly Gifted: Sparks run in families but also develop among normal people.
- A Rare Sentence: The Heterodynes and their Jäggermonsters are much more used to being the most likely suspects. Having their help be appreciated is just icing on the strangeness cake.Lord Bunstable: I will appreciate your help. You, your lady, and her retinue are perhaps the least likely suspects.
Dimo: Huh. No vun haz effer said dot to us before.
Lord Bunstable: Strange times, and make no mistake.
- Ready for Lovemaking: Barbarian-style. When Castle is detailing Agatha's lineage, a historical depiction shows the Skull Queen of Skrall splaying herself out on her throne, enticing Dagon Heterodyne to take her after "sending two hundred warrior homunculi to pique his interest."
- Real Is Brown: The first volume. Not so much "brown is real" as "the world is dull when your mind is damped down". For anyone who's reading the archives, going from the last page of volume one to the first page of the next is quite jarring.
- Really 700 Years Old:
- The Jägermonsters look fairly young well within the range of a human lifespan. However, they remember events of over a hundred years ago, and one of them (who looks like he's in his late 20s, maybe) has an adult human great-great-grandson. (Jägermonster-ness is caused by a potion and not passed on in genes, so even if his kids were born after he transformed they'd be fully human.) And The Secret Blueprints say that Jägers are nearly indestructible and many of the original company are still around, so the oldest Jägers may well be some unknown number of centuries. No Sparks are known to be so old, which raises questions.
To be fair, they've mentioned several previous Heterodyne family members as masters of theirs, and have bloodline loyalty, so how old a Spark could be doesn't really matter. No Sparks reach that age because Sparks tend to be... well... stark raving mad, and many end up meeting a horrible end as a result of either personal overconfidence (taking on an entire army with a faulty death ray) or experimental screw-ups ("There have been three explosions so far.")
- The ability for Jägers to age infinitely is even relevant at one point when Gil decides that taking Vole out of the time bubble may end with a surviving person that they can talk to. Vole appears and ages hundreds of years in a few minutes and while he does get bigger, bulkier and grows more hair, he doesn't seem to show any bad side effects of age, instead simply growing less humanoid like the Jäger generals. Interestingly, he has also become less aggressive.
- The Master of Paris fought alongside the Storm King in the war against Bludtharst Heterodyne, which makes his age in the multiple century range as well.
- Albia is even older than the Master, and even he doesn't know how she's managed to stay looking so young for all those centuries.
- The Jägermonsters look fairly young well within the range of a human lifespan. However, they remember events of over a hundred years ago, and one of them (who looks like he's in his late 20s, maybe) has an adult human great-great-grandson. (Jägermonster-ness is caused by a potion and not passed on in genes, so even if his kids were born after he transformed they'd be fully human.) And The Secret Blueprints say that Jägers are nearly indestructible and many of the original company are still around, so the oldest Jägers may well be some unknown number of centuries. No Sparks are known to be so old, which raises questions.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: For a guy who conquered a continent, Klaus is surprisingly open to other people's ideas. Sure, he's still the final authority, but at least he'll hear you out.
- Reclining Reigner: In a flashback, we see Queen Zantabraxus, Zeetha's mother, reclining on a couch while giving an audience to professor Consolmagno.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- Reed Richards Is Useless: The occasional machine gun is seen (actually some variety of Gatling, in most cases), but this weapon and the enormous amounts of dakka it can provide seem not to have changed the face of war as they have in Real Life. Machine guns become less effective when half the opposing army is made of metal, is using advanced Spark technology, or are Jägers.
- Relationship Reveal: For a long time, it was hard to tell if Theo and Sleipnir were a couple or just really close friends. Then came this strip.
- Relationship Upgrade: This may count as one. Higgs is pleased. And if it didn't, these certainly do!
- Releasing from the Promise: Tarvek does it to Violetta.
- Religion of Evil: The Geisterdamen worship the Other.
- Retcon: These pages. 1 2 Look at Sergeant Scorp's hat at in the bottom panel of page one, and then in the first panel of page 2. See the change? Standard Wulfenbach wings change to Vespiary Squad wings.
- Retired Badass: An old Mechanicsburg sandwich-maker shows up in one of the side stories. He is nicknamed "Old Man Death" — by the Jägers. Turns out he used to run with them back in his youth — and never lost a fight. He still can forcibly boot one out of his shop now, leading to the "three tries" rule.
- Retirony: Do not total your points out loud if you're on a labor team in Castle Heterodyne. If you talk about how your sentence is almost up, the Castle is likely to go out of its way to invoke this on you.
- Reverse Psychology: For centuries inexperienced sparks tried to assert control over creations turning against them by shouting something like "Stop! I am your master! I created you! You can't attack me!". It never worked. Even Agatha made this mistake once. But finally Agatha found the right words.
- Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Klaus Wulfenbach despises traitors, as Merlot humiliatingly learns. Klaus promotes him to replace Dr. Beetle, telling him that as soon as he makes a single mistake, he'll be sent to Castle Heterodyne. And sure enough, later on Agatha finds him in Castle Heterodyne. He's not happy with her.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Paris's "Child Wagon" clanks, designed to round up hordes of naughty children, talk in rhymes.
- Ridiculously Cute Critter:
- Right Behind Me: Agatha is too far away to hear the conversation, but still...Xerxsephnia: [about Agatha] It's not as if she's in her own lab — or even her own town. She's kilometers from Mechanicsburg — trapped in our fortress — in the dead of winter. What can she do?
[Agatha flies past the window behind her]
Xerxsephnia: ... And why do you have that idiotic look on your face?
- Right in Front of Me: Agatha in front of Klaus, and Gil in front of Zola.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
- Thanks to the one she gave the pirates that kidnapped her, Zeetha has killed anyone who could help her find her way back home to Skifander. This is heavily implied to be Dupree's fortress whose destruction made her have to give up her bid to reconquer her homeland, forcing her to go work for Klaus. Zeetha has not made the connection yet. Dupree has learned of it.
- Airman Higgs is normally calm and unflappable, even when everything is going to hell. But stab his kinda-maybe love interest in the stomach and, well, things might get ugly.
- Agatha, after Lars dies.
- Larana goes into one when Jiminez gets acid in his face by a trap of the library.
- Rodents of Unusual Size:
- The Sturmhalten guides' description of "normal" sewer rats.
- There are also giant bunnies in one of the side-stories.
- In an inversion, mimmoths (tiny mammoths) seem to have crowded out much of the normal mouse's place in the ecosystem.
- The English spark Dr. Monahan has created the traditional version of this trope; according to semi-canonical sources, she may have used a Rat-Stretching Device. Later taken Up to Eleven when Monahan becomes a God-Queen and creates kaiju-sized rats during her duel with Lucrezia.
- Rolling Pin of Doom: Okay, a frying pan.
- Later also a actual rolling pin.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: A theme of the series is finding the balance between the two. With the Knights of Jove and Baron Wulfenbach representing the extreme sides of those movements.
- Royal Blood: The House of Heterodyne and the line of the Storm King are both very important elements of the plot, as is resentment over the current overlord of the continent being a jumped-up baron.
- Royal School: The baron's educational facility for Europa's heirs. The world makes it a bit different, and it's made abundantly clear its primary purpose is to keep the children of potential troublemakers firmly in the Baron's grasp, but the education is excellent and the faculty stern but fair and loving.
- Royally Screwed Up:
- Tarvek's entire family — apparently, even the non-spark members. Best summarized by Tarvek when he explains that "The only way to keep my family in line would be to bury them in a row."
- Sparks are, by definition, at least somewhat unbalanced; most recent ruling dynasties are sparks whose families shot their way to the throne at some point; and even if the one who first seized control of a domain were comparatively self-controlled rather than brilliant and/or charismatic enough to compensate for serious instability, their heirs can survive growing far more bonkers than those who have to worry about the typical Torches and Pitchforks thing.
- Rubik's Cube: International Genius Symbol: Agatha is seen solving a Rubik's cube in the Radio Theatre interludes.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Appearances aren't very nonsensical for the trope, but the aesthetic is unmistakably present, mostly because several characters near-literally assemble their outfits this way.
- Gil spends the latter part of his time in Mechanicsburg wearing an outfit from a bar's costume selection with most of the more ostentatious pieces taken off.
- Krosp got his ubiquitous coat from a circus's costume department.
- Jägers win their hats off of enemies, so if you're a Jäger and your hat matches your outfit, it's luck (and they prioritize nize hats, so many combine random aesthetics, such as Dimo's aviator cap with goggles and plume, in true "why not put all the toppings on the pizza!?" style).
- Tarvek's outfit in the Castle seems to have been scavenged from stuff left lying around by past Heterodynes, and amounts to white undershirt + fancy greatcoat + green pants with two belts stacked on top of each other + an extra belt worn like a sash.
- Zeetha steals the long shirt and Badass Longcoat of one of Zola's Faceless Mooks and wears them under the leather pieces from her old outfit after all the cloth she was wearing is dissolved by mad science.
- Moloch eventually ends up wearing the fancy red pants from the nice outfit he was introduced wearing, two shirts he must have obtained while imprisoned, a neckerchief to cover the collar/necklace all the Castle prisoners get, and a heavy apron from working in the murderous kitchen.
- Running Gag:
- Othar yelling "Foul!" every time someone drops him from high up. Othar is the sort of fellow who thinks there should be rules to a fight, though it's pretty clear that the ones he has in mind are a bit laxer than those of the Marquis of Queensbury. He yells foul anytime someone ... well, he'd call it "pulls a dirty trick", but most everyone else would say "outsmarts him." Which is a lot, because while Othar is a first or at least close second rate spark (he wouldn't still be alive if he wasn't), he's also not that bright.
- Burgermeister Zuken of Mechanicsburg's irrelevance.
- At least somewhat, Gil's insistance on the fact that Beetle threw that bomb at him.
- Sparks trying and failing to command their own creations: "that never works." Except when the creation is told that the Spark is not their master. Then it just wanders off in confusion.
- When the Foglios have something to show you, they'll show you with an "Elegant and finely crafted link".
- People are generally more likely to recognize Gilgamesh for his authority or power when he wears his "mighty nize hat".
- Death Ray Guns. Especially as metaphors when talking about the size. Even the castle is in on it, causing Agatha to blush.
- Ardsley Wooster shouting for Sparks to FOCUS! whenever they get distracted (by science) from what they need to accomplish. Considering his long time relationship with Gil, he's had a lot of practice. In fact, a lot of people have to do this with sparks and Blood Knight characters. Moloch is another good example.
- Starting with the Paris arc, Agatha has developed a habit of transferring ancient, evil, hyperintelligent Heterodyne AI's into her miniature helper clanks, which then follow her around. She's done it with The Beast and Castle Heterodyne.
- Many times in the Paris arc: "It counts as a third of my grade!" Also variants such as "I needed the credit!"
- Sailor's Ponytail: Airman Higgs ("The Unstoppable" Airshipman Higgs) wears one of these. As airship units are treated as analogous to naval ones (though seafaring definitely exists in this setting), it certainly qualifies as a Sailor's Ponytail.
- Sarcasm Mode: "Hmm, yes... I can see how that must be very embarrassing for you."
- Schizo Tech:
- And how. Telegraph, radio, telephone? Nope. Motor cars? One seen so far. Heavier-than-air aircraft? Two prototypes. Strong AI, lasers and resurrection are perfectly possible, though.
- Agatha once built a death ray with enough power and range to blast out of Mechanicsburg and through a mountain. Despite this, long range weaponry that would leave airships like Castle Wulfenbach impractical do not exist.
- Schmuck Bait:
- The tantalizingly labelled buttons in the last panel of this strip.
- Lucrezia's lab has a brightly colored gumball machine with a small sign above labeled "Poison! — brought to you by the Illiteracy Reduction Campaign."
- A would-be conqueror by the name of X the Destroyer accidentally made some when he assumed that the great big X in the fields outside Mechanicsburg (Which the locals use to zero in the artillery on the walls) was the place he was supposed to erect his pavilion while awaiting the city's surrender.
- Science Hero: Damn near every spark that is not a homicidal lunatic and/or scheming manipulator... and frankly a couple who are.
- Science Is Bad: All through the story and backstory, the most reckless applications of science are performed regularly by those most educated and talented at it. However, it's Played for Laughs often enough to parody the Aesop; when Science Is Really Bad, it's Crazy Awesome!
- Science-Related Memetic Disorder: The Spark condition. Though even non-Spark scientists and engineers are a bit off-kilter, probably because that's how everyone expects them to act. Those usually have to assist or use stuff of Sparks. It's either become a Mad Scientist or go insane from this all anyway.
- Scienceville: Europe is ruled by Sparks but most cities or towns have just one family of them since they're somewhat territorial. Paris is an exception due to the Master's ruthless enforcement of neutrality and many houses send their scions there for their education.
- Screams Like a Little Girl:
- Professor Tiktoffen often screams like this, and the castle thinks it's funny.
- Also Tarvek, at least according to DuPree.DuPree: Oh my Gosh! I'd know that girlish scream anywhere!
- Screw Gun Safety:
- The Jägermonsters, though it's pretty in-character for them to try.Jäger 1: Ho! Leedle recoil problem there, sir!
Jäger 2: Pretty neat though, ya?
- Agatha and Gil look straight into a lightning generator's business end while Gil repeatedly pushes the button.
- The Jägermonsters, though it's pretty in-character for them to try.
- Screw the Rules, They're Not Real!: The Jaegergenerals acknowledge that there is a "goot vay" to cheat.
- Scrub: Invoked in Othar's log:
- Scully Box: The guardslime's creator uses one.
- Secret Circle of Secrets: Nearly all of Queen Albia's Mad Scientist division goes renegade joining one of these, complete with hooded cloaks, Human Sacrifice, and the summoning of an Eldritch Abomination.
- Secret Test of Character: When we first see Gil, his father is asking him to figure out what's wrong with the machine he ordered built — except he's really testing to see if Gil is honest, brave and/or smart enough to tell him it isn't actually possible for it to work the way Klaus said it should.
- Phil Foglio's Author Avatar is repeatedly shown to be an incredibly boring storyteller, to the point that in the Mechanicsburg hospital he's put to work telling stories to sick kids... because they fall asleep without the need for medication.
- The Author Avatar of the colorist, Cheyenne Wright, is a Large Ham and the Laughably Evil ruler of an underground kingdom.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Lucrezia's secret lab has one, and she activates it. The cancellation of self-destruct is double subverted.
- Self-Serving Memory: When Castle Heterodyne attacks Castle Wulfenbach, Der Kestle has such a moment in response to Agatha's "When did I tell you to do that?!"Imaginary Agatha: Yay! Do that! Kill everyone in the sky!
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Tarvek and Gil to a degree.
- Separated at Birth: Though not explicitly mentioned yet, Word of God and many strong hints shown in the comic point to Zeetha and Gil being fraternal twins. The only character depicted so far that knows this is their father, Klaus.
- Seppuku: Expected of Jägers who break the Oath — but only if they get caught. At least if you believe Oggie and Maxim, who are admittedly clowning around a bit at the time. Otherwise, the Jägers show no aversion at all to rampant Loophole Abuse, such as by claiming that, being several floors underground, they're technically not in the town.
- Serial Escalation: How many more "distractions" will Agatha, Gil and Tarvek go through before they reach their goal? The whole Castle Heterodyne arc appears to follow the old Hollywood maxim "start with a volcanic eruption, then build to a climax."
- Serious Business:
- The Jägermonsters really love hats. Nothing more needs to be said. When Agatha, the Chosen One, flips Maxims hat off, he even almost attacks her for a moment despite his Undying Loyalty to her. In fact, Maxim refuses to let Lars be buried Hatless.
- The Incorruptible Library apparently takes reclaiming their books so seriously that they will (or at least, patrons honestly believe that they will) send strike teams to kidnap people who have overdue books.
- Sewer Gator: An albino alligator can be seen snapping at Violetta and Tarvek as they make their way through the sewers of Mechanicsburg.
- Sexbot: In one side-story, Agatha makes a "mechanical bedwarmer". Later on in the story her bed is shown to have a robot double of Gil in it.
- Sex Sells: Upon arriving to Paris, Agatha is dismayed to discover that her image is quite popular on posters advertising for various products — said illustrations being very often scantily clad. Up to one advert for Turkish drinking chocolate where she's wearing nothing but a Modesty Towel.
- Sexy Soaked Shirt:
- Shaped Like Itself:
- In the not-quite-canon story The Heterodyne Boys and the Dragon from Mars,Bill: I never thought I'd have to use this.
Dr. Mongfish: [reformed] "Ocean in a bottle"? What's that?
Bill: Truth in packaging.
- A book titled Using Found Objects as Weapons gets used to beat a particularly persistent enemy upside the head, striking with the sound effect TOME!
- In Revenge of the Weasel Queen, Agatha uses a De-arming Device. It does exactly that, cutting the arms off Agatha's opponent.
- In the not-quite-canon story The Heterodyne Boys and the Dragon from Mars,
- Shared Family Quirks: It's mentioned that Sparks' "styles" of design and technology run in families; Sparks born of Sparks, even when they're not raised by their parents, will tend to follow similar paths and designs.
- Sharing a Body: Agatha and Lucrezia have had the antagonistic version of this relationship since the latter's mind was transferred into the former. It was supposed to be a Grand Theft Me, as mentioned above, but it wasn't totally successful. Later the same thing happens with Zola and Lucrezia, again not very successfully. And then it's done with Gil and Klaus.
- She Is the King: When Colette succeeds her father, she decides to stick to the term "Master of Paris", since "Mistress of Paris" would make it sound like — in her own words — "the ultimate demimondaine".
- Shipper on Deck:
- Moloch (and practically everyone else) ships Agatha×Gil; Violetta ships Agatha×Tarvek (cue Ship-to-Ship Combat).
- Then there are Zeetha, "Jäger girls", Jägers, the crowd...
- Castle Heterodyne appears to ship 'em both. Really, it ships Agatha×Anything with a viable set of male reproductive organs, though it prefers guys who are strong, violent, and sparky. It's implied that this was the way the "old" Heterodynes operated, since the castle comes equipped with "harem quarters" and it's mentioned that the master bedroom "only sleeps six."
- Tarvek ships Higgs×Zeetha. Higgs' blush in the 2nd panel argues he's right.
- Agatha also ships Higgs and Zeetha, going so far as to plan an elaborate display for Queen Albia (involving a horde of Jaegers and a giant mech suit) to allow Zeetha and Higgs the opportunity to dance together.
- The supporting cast now has a betting pool. Most root for Gil, Tarvek or a One True Threesome, except for a Jäger who bets on himself.
- Zeetha ships Larana X Jiminez Hoffman.
- Ship Tease: Agatha wears a locket with the Heterodyne trilobite sigil on it... but we've seen a future version of her, and in the future, she's modified it ( or replaced it, as it's now been destroyed) to a winged trilobite, strongly suggesting a marriage. It'd be a much better clue if both Gil and Tarvek didn't have winged sigils (rook and sword, respectively), of course.
- Dimo tends to get pretty physical when protecting Agatha. It's unlikely for anything to come of it even if there was an attraction there as Agatha is pretty obsessed with Gil and Tarvek and Dimo is all duty.
- Shirtless Scene: A fair number with Gil and Tarvek, and a few others (the Baron comes to mind). Tarvek did one long one wearing but a bedsheet, and Gil did a shorter scene wearing first just that, then... less. The battle of most skin exposed continues.
- Professor Mittlemind is also technically an example of this in every scene he appears in, but.. yeah.
- Shoot the Dog: Tarvek disabling and deactivating Anevka's clank. Wooster nearly does this to Klaus but is interrupted.
- Shoulders of Doom: Zeetha approves.
- Shout-Out: Lots of them, now having their own subpage.
- Shovel Strike: Zeetha can do.Lapinemoth: A shovel? Ah! What can you do with a—
- Show Some Leg: Zulenna attempts it, though it's subverted on the next page.
- Shutting Up Now: Two-part example involving Agatha and Moloch.
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: Long story short, while in the Sanctuary of the Corbettite Monks, Gil and Agatha's bodies are temporarily being controlled by Klaus and Lucrezia. Lucrezia, naturally, suggests that they sacrifice their children's lives and take over their bodies full time, so that the two of them can rule Europa side by side. Klaus, likewise naturally, throws her down onto a table and tries to throttle her, telling her he'd burn the Sanctuary and everyone in it to the ground before he allowed her or anyone else to harm Gil.
- "Shut Up" Kiss:
- Side Bet: After Tarvek kisses Agatha after she saves him, the people of Mechanicsburg and the Jägers are seen placing bets on who Agatha will choose, with Vanamonde von Mekkahn and Violetta playing bookies.
- Sigil Spam:
- The Wulfenbach family signs everything, from their airships to their war machines to the smallest mechanical parts of Castle Wulfenbach, with that winged rook.
- The trilobite symbol of the Heterodynes is pretty much ubiquitous in Mechanicsburg.
- It's the same with the Sturmvoraus family symbol in Sturmhalten.
- Signed Up for the Dental: The lapinemoths in the Weasel Queen filler.
- Signs of Disrepair: Above the entrance door to Castle Heterodyne is a sign reading "Thank you for shopping". Except that, when Wulfenbach troops attack it with a battering ram, it dislodges the "shopping" part which was an add-on, revealing the original sign to be "Thank you for cowering".
- Silly Rabbit, Idealism Is for Kids!: In the backstory, Klaus Wulfenbach helped the Heterodyne Boys with the idealistic approach; the result was an Europa that was Holding Out for a Hero, so he has little use now for idealism. As another example, Vole believes all the other Jägermonsters are being foolishly idealistic.
- Single Tear: Vanamonde sheds one after just one sip of the perfect cup of coffee.
- Single Sex Offspring: The Heterodyne family is known for almost exclusively giving birth to boys. The two exceptions, Euphrosynia and Agatha, have been very important in the family's history, and Agatha in particular is implied to have been engineered somehow to make sure she was female.
- Skeptic No Longer:
- The Von Mekkhans both were skeptical of Agatha's claim of lineage at first, but eventually are convinced by her deeds: Vanamonde had a nirvana moment after drinking a cup of "perfect" coffee out of Agatha's Coffee Engine, and Carson was convinced when she cowed Castle Heterodyne from tormenting a much more vocally skeptical other village elder (who was also a Skeptic No Longer and groveled at Agatha's feet for saving him from that fate).
- The Corbettites appear to believe the goodness in Agatha's heart after she was instrumental in putting the Beast of The Rails down for good, and also for completing their pipe dream ultimate rail liner locomotive (which they then used to extricate Agatha from a sanctuary trap).
- Skewed Priorities:
- Skilled, but Naïve: Vole claims that Gil and Tarvek are this.
- Sky Pirate: Almost any time pirates are mentioned in the story, they are of this kind, airships being a widespread commodity. (Though according to Sanaa's account of her activities after leaving home, sea-borne ones do exist as well.) Notably, Bangladesh DuPree and her crew. One of the radio plays gives us the character of Deathwish Dupree, Bang's older brother "of whom she is heartily ashamed".
- Slasher Smile:
Sparafucile: You see, at the university, I studied behavioral psychology. With a minor in theater. My dissertation combined the two.
- The Jägermonsters' mouths open literally from ear to ear and are full of very big fangs.
- Most Sparks pull off magnificent examples of this at least once when they're in their element.
- Bangladesh DuPree seems to wear it professionally.
- Zola develops an impressive Slasher Smile after taking the Movit #11.
- Invoked by Sparafucile in this strip:
Maxim: ...Vitch means?
Sparafucile: Which means that all I usually have to do is smile like this— [demonstrates] and I don't have to kill anybody!
- Sleep Mask: Mama Gkika wears one at night.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Oublenmach, the goon that holds Van's servant hostage, is ultimately the one that rings The Doom Bell, saving several lives in Mechanicsburg.
- The Smart Guy: Practically all of the characters are pretty smart. Krosp is an example of the rare GG smart guy who's also the Only Sane Man of the group.
- Smoldering Shoes: Martellus punching DuPree sends her flying while leaving her boots behind (revealing skulls-adorned socks).
- Smooch of Victory: Agatha's idea of a fine way to celebrate exploding a giant writhing slug.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Being Vitriolic Best Buds, Gil and Tarvek tend to fall into this routine whenever they're together.Gil: [regarding Zola's part in the Storm King conspiracy] Um, well, let's just say I don't think much of this Storm King guy's taste.
Tarvek: Oh, really? That's encouraging, considering the kind of girls you preferred in Paris—
Gil: True, they didn't like to play dress up much at all.
Tarvek: That's because they were hardly ever dressed.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Krosp. He's a cat, so of course he only has a moderate grasp of human concepts like morality.Krosp: Is this one of those situations that involves "ethics"? 'Cause I'm a cat, you know. I've never been very good at those.
- Snowball Lie: Seffie winds up telling one to the Queen of England after she arrives in London with the contents of a dessert tray stuck in her hair. Rather than admit she's just been caught in an embarrassing situation, she tries to pass the sweets in her hair off as the latest fashion from Paris. Hilarity Ensues as she begins roping other people into helping her defend this new "fashion" at a dinner party.
- Soft Glass: Here. (Although that may not count, 'cos they're Jägers.)
- Sole Surviving Scientist:
- Othar has been that but managed to go back in time (according to his Twitter, anyway).
- Tarvek in the same Twitter may have been a better example, since he sent Othar back and was much closer to the problem (while Othar metaphorically "slept through it").
- Something Else Also Rises: A female example here, when Dr. Rakethorn takes off his dress tunic to help Agatha with her latest project. Agatha's welding torch suddenly lights up with a "FOOM!", despite her fingers being nowhere close to the tap.
- Something Only They Would Say:
- Gil learns there are two alleged Heterodyne heirs in Mechanicsburg. One arrived in a gaudy pink airship, has made several speeches and then entered Castle Heterodyne. The other is in a coffee shop rebuilding their coffee machine (and causing several explosions in the process). It doesn't take him long to realize which one is Agatha.
- Tarvek invokes one explicitly when asking Agatha what she did to Vrin. Since neither Agatha nor Lucrezia have a conscious memory of what the other was doing when the other one is in control of Agatha's body, Agatha would answer that she repeatedly hit Vrin with a broom (stunning Vrin momentarily with a Compelling Voice that only partially worked each time), while Lucrezia trying to pretend to be Agatha would have said she killed Vrin with a fully effective compelling voice.
- Agatha proves she knows Punch by revealing information about him that isn't part of the Heterodyne Boys stories.
- Lucrezia instantly finds out that Klaus has possessed Gil by the way he talks.
- The Spark of Genius: Possible Trope Namer. Definitely invoked throughout; it pretty much says it on the tin.Heliotrope: In my experience, a strong Heterodyne will take about two hours to truly warp the laws of nature.
- The Spartan Way: The Skifander warrior training Zeetha puts Agatha through is meant to leave the trainee almost entirely incapable of movement for the first few hours after it's complete each morning during the early stages.
- Speak in Unison:
- Gil and Tarvek both end up finishing each other's sentences and speaking in unison when they're both in The Madness Place and working towards the same goal, especially after they're synced to try and save Tarvek's life. At one point in Castle Heterodyne they start speaking in unison even though they're each talking about a different occasion:Gil & Tarvek: I though you were dead! After losing you like that once, I'm going to make sure you're safe if it's the last thing I do!
- One of Captain Hawkins' crew and the Smoke Knight she's fighting say "Oooh - You are so lucky" to each other in unison when Hawkins calls a truce upon realizing they've got a bigger concern than the Smoke Knights incoming fast.
- In Master Payne's new Heterodyne play, the actors for Gil and Tarvek tend to speak simultaneously. After watching it, the real Gil and Tarvek catch themselves doing the same ("I need... a drink."), to their dismay.
- Gil and Tarvek both end up finishing each other's sentences and speaking in unison when they're both in The Madness Place and working towards the same goal, especially after they're synced to try and save Tarvek's life. At one point in Castle Heterodyne they start speaking in unison even though they're each talking about a different occasion:
- Speak of the Devil: Discussed Trope.Lucrezia-Zola: But he's been missing for years. He's no threat—
Lucrezia-Anevka: Do you want him to show up?!
Lucrezia-Zola: Ooh... So sorry, dear. I can't think what came over me!
- Speech-Bubble Censoring: Mama Gkika's dressing screen panel, presumably featuring a naked girl, is obscured by Gilgamesh Wulfenbach saying:Gil: So — does this place have a back door?
- The Speechless: Punch ("Adam"). An early construct of the Heterodyne Brothers, he was unable to speak. Until Gil extensively repaired both Punch and Judy, granting Punch speech.
- Spider Limbs:
- A couple of background characters are like this, apparently double amputees who use them as mobility prosthetics. Given that the whole backdrop is of a pseudo-Europe which has been in a state of low-level warfare for an indefinite period, It Makes Sense in Context.
- Agatha's exoskeleton, used to get a good night's sleep despite Zeetha's wish, also gives off this vibe. Especially when it pulls out the weaponry.
- Spit Take:
- Tarvek spit-takes his wine during a formal diner at the Sturmvoraus table. Then again, Agatha just made a really unexpected off-hand revelation.
- Dr. Sun spit-takes tea in a flashback panel. As in the first example, Baron Wulfenbach wasn't expected to punch out of his own healing engine.
- A random background jäger lets fly right back into his flagon when he sights General Dimo chatting with a newly arrived Agatha after she disappeared for two and a half years.
- Aldin spit-takes so hard that he blasts out the bottom of his cup when he suddenly realizes the romantic misunderstanding his brother Jiminiez is having between them and Princess Larana.
- Spontaneous Human Combustion: There's a disease (probably engineered by some Mad Scientist), "Hogfarb's resplendent immolation", that causes this effect. The body is filled with an incendiary substance, and in the end the victim will "go up like a torch". Unless they simply melt. The water from the River Dyne also makes this happen.
- Spy Speak: While visiting the underground library in Paris, Violetta gives the order for two other Smoke Knights who were trailing Agatha's party to reveal themselves by uttering the phrase, "All shadows are to come into the light."
- Squee: Zeetha over Higgs, in panel 8 here.
- Squick: An in-universe example of this is used by General Khrizhan to explain why Gil and Agatha being together is for the best: they can't exactly get their mad science on as long as the Other, Agatha's mother, is still inside Agatha's head and possibly sensate. Nobody will ever work as fast as those two will when they eventually twig on that. Incidentally, this also serves to keep the Unresolved Sexual Tension nice and unresolved, just the way the writers like it. Later the sentiment is expressed by Tarvek, to the Jäger Generals' amusement.
- Squishy Wizard: Averted. For no explained reason, Sparks appear to be stronger, faster, better coordinated (okay, this one is more understandable), and tougher than any normal human. This isn't counting Sparks that may have modified themselves.
- Stable Time Loop:
- An apparition from the future in the third strip got the whole story rolling, and it's become clear that Agatha will — eventually — cause it to happen.
- This probably happens in this strip. The time window that Bang sees the first time happens after the second one from the point of view of the characters in the window. Gil calls Bang a maniac in the first one, probably because she pointed a gun on them in the second one, which she did because "earlier" he insulted her.
- In the sidestory ''The homecoming king" (from here to here) some students summon the Ht'rok'dyn (the first Heterodyne) from the past. He learns that he has descendants who created a big empire, so he goes back in time to make sure it happens.
- Staged Populist Uprising: The Knights of Jove conspirators like to claim they're doing it for the people.
- Stalker with a Crush: There are hints of this with Zola toward Gil, especially after she starts in on her Sanity Slippage. And it's a full-blown life-long case with him as the target for Seffie.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Subverted. "Snapper" Boikov tries it on Sanaa. Hilarity Ensues.R-79: Tsk. Even I know that was stupid.
Wrenchman: Requiescat in pace and all that rot. Dibs on his boots!
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Violetta is of the opinion that Gil and Agatha's romance has a huge chance of going down in flames. Tarvek realizes she may have a point.
- Stating the Simple Solution:
- The Baron discusses the possibility when dealing with Othar in a strip. Othar was certainly not expecting it.
- And a case with the henchmen pointing out the flaw... and the Bond Villain Stupidity exploding in the bad guy's face in record time:Assassin: Highness, don't talk to him! Just let us kill them!
Leopold: Tch, Plenty of time for that, my -drgl
- Stealth Hi/Bye: Agatha emerges from one of her sleepwalking-creating states to find herself putting the finishing touches on a mechanism, with somebody off-panel handing her tools on command. She turns to see who it is, and...
- Stealth Pun: Agatha hits Zola with a Door Stopper book, with the Unsound Effect "TOME". The name of the book? Using Found Objects as Weapons.
- Steampunk: Everywhere. The authors prefer to call it "gaslamp fantasy" though, because of the absence of 'punk' and the presence of Frankenstein-esque constructs, giant slugs that produce zombie-making wasps, resurrection procedures, death rays, and time travel. Also "calming pies".
- Storm of Blades:
- Strapped to an Operating Table: Various incidents here and there — this is a world run by mad scientists, after all.
- Othar, by Klaus.
- From a Heterodyne play: "You! Minion! Why am I strapped to this table? And WHERE ARE MY PANTS?!?"
- Tarvek and Gil have to be strapped to a table for the Si Vales Valeo procedure.
- Gil does it to DuPree to have his hands free while doing Mad Science.Bang: ...Seriously pathetic.
Gil: I assure you, that table is purely for medical purpose.
Bang: That's what I meant!
- While a great many female characters don't seem to have a problem showing a little skin, the "Weasel Queen" shows a lot of it.
- Zeetha spent some time roughing out in Mechanicsburg and the Castle while wearing just a leather bikini and boots. But then again, it wasn't her fault.
- During the Paris plot-arc, Agatha, Zeetha and Dimo all end up wearing harem-garb for an extended period.
- Stuff Blowing Up:
- Sooo much shrapnelly goodness... Making things blow up that by all rights shouldn't seems like a mandatory side-effect of being a Spark.Andre: No big deal. Schtuff blows op all de time.
- "Hee hee. Death Ray go BOOM!"
- Even the most mundane of things:Gil: What is she doing in a coffee shop?
Vole: She iz making coffee, sir.
Gil: Making coffee...
Vole: Dere haff been THREE explosions so far, sir.
- Sooo much shrapnelly goodness... Making things blow up that by all rights shouldn't seems like a mandatory side-effect of being a Spark.
- Stylish Protection Gear:
- Agatha's winter outfit she dons in order to wait for the train in the freezing cold at Clankshead is a very pretty white fur coat with matching hat decked in gold badges and filigree with red cord, jewels and tassels. She's also wearing a green scarf with a knit diamond cable pattern in gold and golden trilobites at each end with matching gloves.
- Gil's winter coat when he's trying to track down Agatha is a tailored navy Ulster clasped with a silver Wulfenbach pin and edged in blue silk, lined in dark red and topped with three layered capelets worn over a matching waistcoat.
- Submarine Pirates: Sanaa Wilhelm or rather Trygvassen was apparently queen of a group of pirates who used a mechanical narwhal before ending up at castle Heterodyne.
- Suddenly Speaking: Adam "Punch" Clay after Gil upgrades him during a resurrection. After several decades of not speaking, it's hard to make him stop again.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: Trope Namer. In the Cinderella side story, Agatha as Cinderella fixes the Fairy Godmother's malfunctioning magic wand, despite being told she couldn't possibly understand the principles behind its operation.
- Super-Fun Happy Thing of Doom:
- Castle Heterodyne has several of these, including The Happy Fun Ball of Death and Fun-Sized Mobile Agony and Death Dispensers.
- The Radio Theater Break has one, in the form of Ferretina's lightning generator, labeled "Zappy Fun Box MK 1."
- Super-Persistent Predator: Tarvek decries that the decidedly not sessile Hive Queen seems fixated on him while he flees it with an armload comprised a crippled Jäger, a crippled vespiary squadmate, a shelf's worth of books, and some wasp eaters.
- Superpowerful Genetics:
- Super Serum: Many of them. Overdosing is always a concern, whether it's the Movit series of Smoke Knight pick-me-ups ("Drugs! Lovely, lovely drugs!"), the water of the river Dyne ("I LIKE IT!"), or the Jägerdraught and Battledraught brewed using the latter.
- Super Soldier:
- The Jägermonsters, who were created by the old "bad" Heterodynes as shock troops but then had to obey the "good" Heterodynes due to the oath of loyalty they take very seriously (though are still capable of breaking; look at Captain Vole). One of the ingredients of the Jägerbrau used to transform people into Jägers is water from the river Dyne, which Heterodynes are known for drinking and gaining superhuman strength as a result.
- And don't forget Von Pinn. Or else.
- And Airman Higgs is looking mighty super, recently...
- Super Speed: The various Movit tonics, while not exactly granting super speed, give people temporarily increased speed and energy with some implied physical toll later on. Half a bottle of Movit #6 got Tarvek on his feet for hours though he was fatally ill, and a few sips of Movit #11 turned Zola from a reasonably good fighter into a crazy battle goddess. And then Airman Higgs shows us all what super speed really is.
- Superstitious Sailors: The novels mention that Klaus Wulfenbach has put this to use. Instead of trying to get rid of superstition among his navy, he had mad social scientists alter the superstitions a bit. Anything considered "bad luck" is something that is actually genuinely bad; leaving a rope unfastened on deck, carrying an open flame too close to the gas bag, so on. The things deemed "good luck" are statistically improbable but ultimately irrelevant coincidences like two ships finishing their preparations at the exact same time. The end result is that the navy has exceptionally high morale combined with combat readiness.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- The various Jäger Generals display this attitude on occasion, including eventually Dimo.
- Not content to merely say this trope, Martellus rants about it instead;Martellus: I have a pack of sparkhounds, a cadre of over-trained smoke knights, and veritable clown-carriage of cowed relatives all running around my castle like a swarm of ants on fire, and they still can't find two women and a blasted cat wearing a coat! No wonder everything has gone to hell and back! These fools are enough to make me toss it all and open that designer pet shop in Paris!
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- Sheesh, whose adolescent slave-girl fantasies are we indulging here anyway? Not mine!
- Also, this gem here:Wooster: Do you get all your plans from bad Heterodyne farces, now?
Agatha: Shut up. It'll work.
Wooster: But you could—
Agatha: I'm trying to keep a low profile here. This is a "normal person" plan. Building a steam-powered grab-and-subdue clank out of the stove would be too showy.
Margarella: Wait. You could do that?
Agatha: Of course not!
Margarella: Aaaah! You could do that!
- The "Two Good Omens Fan Art Pages" in the Short Story section.completely unapproved by anyone!
- Symbol Swearing: With translation, no less. See Tactful Translation below.
- Synchronization: Gil and Tarvek, thanks to the Si Vales Valeo procedure.
- Tactful Translation: Whatever Agatha was saying after a foot attack, it most certainly wasn't what was in the footnote.Ooh, what naughty little devices, to so turn upon your creator! Oh! Indeed, my foot is in quite excruciating pain! I shall construct a device that will give you such a whack, see if I don't!
- Take a Number: Part of the psychological torture room. "The torturer is now serving victim number 03." In a subversion, the distributor is out of numbers... Othar doesn't take it well.
- Take a Third Option: Try an incredibly risky procedure with only stuff made for killing someone or take him to another hospital, which may or may not have the requisite stuff anyway? Alternatively...
- Take Our Word for It: The titillating plot of The Socket Wench of Prague.
- Take Over the World: Baron Wulfenbach has already taken over the world — or at least the bulk of Europe, where the story is set — by the time the story starts, and he never wanted to. There have been various competing and overlapping conspiracies trying to replace him ever since, one of the more prominent using Zola and evidently Tweedle as its intended figureheads; Tarvek was planning something as well, but the reader never gets to hear the specifics.
- Taking You with Me: "... And even if it does, I won't go alone!"
- Talking Is a Free Action:
- Talk Like a Pirate: Bangladesh DuPree indulges in this vernacular once. Well, she is a pirate lass, after all.DuPree: Ooooh, I've missed you, me proud beauty. Hee hee! YARRRR!
- Tall Tale: The Heterodyne Boys tales.
- Tap on the Head:
- Lars, meet Jäger:Agatha: Oh. Lars gets hysterical after a fight. It's hard to calm him down.
Oggie: No, it ain't!
- Violetta administers one to Agatha to keep her from charging a juiced-up Zola.
- Agatha gives one to Martellus after he tells her that he performed an operation on them to make her physically addicted to him (to the point of death if she isn't in contact) and that it can't be solved by killing him and hacking off an arm. Of course you'd think that Agatha would remember that this isn't a safe thing to do, but considering everything we've seen Martellus endure so far the danger probably isn't that great.
- Martellus is later at the receiving end of another one from Violetta.. er.. some highly mysterious invisible hand!
- Agatha also lays out Captain Vole with a couple of blows from a large wrench, though again being a Jäger, he's back on his feet in fairly short order.
- Lars, meet Jäger:
- Tattooed Crook: DuPree's second-in-command, and many other air pirates or privateers.
- Team Mom: Agatha toward "her" three Jägers, and increasingly toward others in her command. A consequence of her sense of responsibility and her Least Insane Woman status.
- Tears of Remorse: Barry, in the flashback where he gave Agatha her locket.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Lady Steelgarter hates rats. After linking up with Lucrezia and Madwa Korel, she's forced to travel to the island laboratory of Dr. Monahan, who commands an army of giant ones. She's not happy about it.
- Tempting Fate: Many instances here and there.
- Da Boyz:Oggie: Dose tings? Dey don't look like much.
Maxim: Oh, now hyu iz just asking for it.
- "It's just one little clank."
- "Somebody's coming out! To surrender, I imagine."
- "How much more trouble could it be?"
- "Whelp, the day can't get any weirder!" For future reference, that is something you simply do not say in this story. Ever.
- Tarvek should really know not to say such things, but:Tarvek: Ah! Violetta! My little cloud of doom! Even you cannot dampen my spirits right now.
- Clank-Anveka tempts fate rather horribly only two pages after the Author Avatar's "Whelp, the day can't get any weirder!" above. Next page starts with Tarvek handing the device in question to The Other.Clank-Anveka: Well, then. A device he doesn't know about — hidden where he will not find it — in a safe he cannot open? I have more pressing things to worry about. Besides, if it was in his hands, do you really think he'd just hand it to her?"
- Xerxsephnia makes a very foolish assumption that she has Agatha helplessly grounded, far away from her town or any potential allies. When her brother tries to persuade her that "the Heterodyne Girl" is a threat after all, she brushes his concerns off, asking "What can she do?" Cue Agatha flying past the tower's window in a swan-shaped sleigh.
- In a conversation between two instances of the Other, one of them starts to say Barry Heterodyne wouldn't be a threat to their plan before they both stop and look around in abject fear of this trope.
- When Klaus first discovers Agatha and Moloch at the end of the clank's trail in Beetleburg and assumes the latter was his mystery Spark, he admits that he had hoped for something interesting. Then Agatha turns out to be a Heterodyne and Lucrezia's daughter, and that's just the start. Arguably also a case of Be Careful What You Wish For.
- Agatha is fighting a running battle in Paris while trying to find clothes that fit and are appropriate for an upcoming ball. They find a closed shop.Dimo: No! Only looting from defeated enemies iz allowed!
Agatha: It's not like I'm going to battle a horde of socialites on the way!
Horde of socialites: [rounding the corner] There she is! ...And look how she's dressed.... GET HER!
Zeetha: Wow! You can find anything in Paris!
- Da Boyz:
- That Came Out Wrong: Gil has such a way with words. Of course, it would have helped if she'd let him finish his sentence.
- That Wasn't a Request:
- Theatre Phantom: When Gil is listing the threats he had to rescue Deliberately Distressed Damsel Zola from, one of them is "some overly dramatic maniac who lived in the Paris Opera House", who is depicted as a theatre phantom playing a bass drum.
- Then Let Me Be Evil: Gil has an epic rant at Vole when Vole talks down to him about how no one takes him seriously when he tries the diplomatic approach, and how he has to act like a "cut-rate stage villain" to be taken seriously, and then decides to do just that to a frightening Nth degree... and then has a horrifying realization that this must be what his father feels all the time.
- They Called Me Mad!: Seems to be a Catchphrase for mad scientists.
- Parodied in the Cinderella omake, in which Cinderella/Agatha becomes queen of the kingdom, "and, I might add, showed them, showed them all."
- Later, Agatha inspected herself in a small mirror which read on the back "You Will Show Them All."
- They Look Like Us Now: The "stealth" revenants, only now being discovered.
- This Is Gonna Suck:
- This Is Reality: Tempting Fate here.
- This Is Something He's Got to Do Himself: Tervek asks if Gil thinks he needs to fight Vole alone in some show of machismo...but Gil says quite desperately that he's only that stupid in front of Agatha.
- This Way to Certain Death: The vaults beneath Paris are littered with the corpses of adventures who ran afoul of the many death traps protecting the items interred there.
- Those Two Guys:
- Oggie, Maxim and Dimo play the role of Those Three Guys early on.
- Gil and Tarvek, post-Time Skip, show shades of this.
- The mini Castle and the Beast are shaping up to be this.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: The leader of the conspiracy in the science dome in England makes the mistaken assumption that as a hero Tarvek holding a gun to him and his compatriot is just for intimidation and he won't actually kill them. Tarvek proves him wrong near instantaneously.Tarvek: I've never really considered myself the "hero" type.
- Threesome Subtext
- Agatha×Gil×Tarvek, ever so much, culminating in this exchange:Tarvek: —loyal vassal?!
Gil: ...and we're both "on Agatha's string!"
Tarvek: Well... that I can live with!
- "We could have kept him safe."
- Gil goes to very far extremes to retrieve Tarvek after Tarvek gets kidnapped (twice) which is compared to rescuing a princess, and then when Gil starts talking to a Muse to get relationship advice the topic quickly shifts from Agatha to Tarvek.
- Agatha×Gil×Tarvek, ever so much, culminating in this exchange:
- Through His Stomach: Snaug, on Moloch.
- Throw a Barrel at It: Although it isn't technically "thrown", the comic is proof that even a Barrel can be Ax-Crazy.
- The Time of Myths: Ancient records hint at a world of wonders and magic, and there are lingering relics that even modern Mad Science still cannot explain.
- Time Skip: One occurs In-Universe when Tweedle takes Agatha (and inadvertently Krosp and Violetta) through a transit portal. Though it should have been instantaneous, two and a half years passed before they emerged. A rare example in that not only does the audience need another Info Dump, so do the protagonists! It's later revealed that Klaus caused this by activating some sort of time-stasis device in Mechanicsburg at the exact moment they entered the portal - making a transit that should have been instantaneous into a bus ride. In the interval, the Wulfenbach Empire fell, Mechanicsburg and its environs fell under Gil's monomaniacal control and Tarvek's family has abandoned their claim to the title of Storm King.
- Time-Travel Tense Trouble: An extradimensional being that the English conspirators summon has a very difficult time working out what verbs to use in its sentences. The fact that the summoning and the being's own nature are altering the local flow of time doesn't help either.
- Title Drop:
- In a roundabout way.Bang: [tch] What, you're surprised? She's outsmarted us before. I mean, if they write this down, they ain't gonna be calling it "Boy Genius".
- Played rather more straight when Master Payne's Circus of Adventure presents a dramatic recreation of Agatha's adventures for the English court, with Agatha herself now introduced as "Agatha Heterodyne—" "GIRL GENIUS!", much the same way that Othar Trygvassen is always referred to as "GENTLEMAN ADVENTURER!"
- In a roundabout way.
- Toilet Humor:
- Avoided for the most part, though Krosp does do a stint cleaning up after the Circus's horses.
- Krosp is the butt again in the Sturmhalten sewers:Krosp: KILL ME!
- Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Violetta is a kick-ass smoke knight; Agatha wins her loyalty with the promise of a party and a pretty dress
- Too Dumb to Live:
- A certain little girl in Mechanicsburg: "Hello Herr Clank! Are you a flowerpot?"
- Special mention goes to X the destroyer who decided a big X on the ground within range of enemy ordnance was a good place to set up his tent. Admittedly, it was inadvertent Schmuck Bait in that case...
- Strinbeck: "You dare to strike my royal personage?! I'll have every member of your crew flayed alive!" That's a bad thing to say when the captain of the airship just ordered to toss overboard everything unnecessary to gain speed.
- Oublenmach, who decides to go marching into a bar, in Mechanisburg, with a gun. That'd be dumb enough, but the bar happened to be Mama Gkika's...
- And then there's Dr. Merlot. Okay, not figuring out that Agatha Clay is really Agatha Heterodyne is excusable. But burning down the building with the important papers inside, as well as all the cryptographers that cracked the code they were written in goes a long way beyond the Moral Event Horizon. He's lucky to have only been sentenced to Castle Heterodyne but then he cements his Too Dumb to Live credentials while in there by attacking Agatha and her friends.
- Also, Snapper, who once he learns "Wilhelm" is actually Othar's sister immediately tries to take her hostage. She then kills him with a single kick and even the other inmates state how stupid this was, earning him a place on this list.
- Insulting a Jäger? Dumb. Insulting a Jäger General? Very dumb. Insulting Mechanisburg right in front of said Jäger General? Fatally dumb.
- Sure, Mechanicsburg is a great place to grab a pair of innocent hostages. Whom the pair promenading while the invaders are still surrendering should be.
- Martellus von Blitzengaard, a.k.a. Tweedle, shows increasing signs of being this. Mouthing off before a very unstable and obsessed Gil that he won't ever reach Agatha proves a good way to get his hands mangled and/or chopped off, and then stabbed multiple times by Bang; even after that, he STILL has to be physically hauled away by his minions.
- The advisor sent by the council to advise Martellus has all of them beaten, though. Tweedle is an unstable bastard at the best of times, but when said advisor, after ordering to fire on the Corbettites as a show of power (which results in the loss of several airships), explains with lots of condescension to Martellus that he's still young and need to be shown how it is done, you know he doesn't have long to live. Tweedle throws him out of the airship before he can even finish his spiel.
- Friendly advice to would-be minions: if the hero has a gun trained on you, and helpfully points this out to you, do not (once more, do not, no matter what your boss says) loudly assume that Thou Shalt Not Kill, reiterate your intention to kill them, and charge at them with a knife. Best case scenario, he gets you in a choke hold, and it's embarrassing for all. Worst case scenario...Death Ray: FOOOM
Tarvek: I've never really considered myself the "hero" type.
- Took a Level in Badass:
- Gil got lessons from Dr. Sun, Agatha from Zeetha, and Ardsley Wooster apparently had a few well-hidden under his belt.
- Boris Dolokhov goes from being the Baron's amanuensis and being insulted by Jägermonsters to beating a Jägermonster until it was willing to give up classified information. The novelization says that he already was a skilled fencer before his previous employer gave him extra arms.
- And Agatha has been steadily grinding her way up to a 20th level badass too.
- Even Mauve Shirt Moloch has been doing well in Agatha's presences. Even his seduction skills are improved.
- Too Kinky to Torture:
- Considering Von Pinn's suitors treat her beating the hell out of them as a come-on...
- The one exception thus far may be Dolokhov's beating a Jäger until he talked.
- Too Much Information:
- Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Oh, Bang.DuPree: [zaps Abner] Now, are you going to cooperate, or...
Payne: What do you want?!
DuPree: Oh, right.
- Training from Hell:
- Training the Gift of Magic: The Spark is a rare, largely hereditary personal attribute that grants access to mad science that frequently verges on the magical — but a good technical education definitely helps. Sparks also need to learn to channel their own abilities relatively safely, and indeed some are lynched by the general populace if and when their abilities manifest uncontrollably for the first time.
- Traitor Shot: Tiktoffen is playing all sides while really being on his own and intending to betray everyone. This shot of him in the shadows with skulls behind him rather foreshadows his betrayal of Gil.
- Tranquil Fury: Airman Higgs.
- Translation Convention: Word of God and incidental writing in the background says that everything is actually in German and Romanian, translated for the benefit of the audience. At least some of the dialogue in the arcs set in Britain is presumably in English.
- Trapped in Villainy: Tarvek's cousin, Tweedle, tries this on Agatha. Immediately subverted in that she knocks him unconscious, locks him in her chains, and sets about taking off the leash.
- Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Sparks during the "breakthrough" usually go crazy in a destructive way. Due to her uncle's tampering, in Agatha's case the "awakening" part happened when she was technically asleep. It's explained also that this trope is how a lot of Sparks get killed early on: either their creation turns on them, or else they create an incredibly powerful weapon and yet are also still crazy/inexperienced enough to turn it on an army.
- Trope Overdosed:
- Troubled, but Cute: Lampshaded at the start of the Cinderella filler, when Gil and Tarvek argue over who's playing the story's prince:Gil: I'm the prince! I'm all tortured and driven by love!
Tarvek: Feh. I'm the misunderstood one with the mysterious agenda. Muy sexy.
- Truth in Television: Moxana is based upon the Mechanical Turk, an eighteen-century chess-playing automaton. The Turk was a hoax, operated by someone inside it, but Moxana is a real version.
- Truth Serum: The old Prince Sturmvoraus may have given Agatha a bit too much.Agatha: Oh, and I saw the Baron a bit when I was on Castle Wulfenbach. But I had to run away when everyone found out I was the Heterodyne.
- Try and Follow:
- Tarvek, has a bright idea to run into the Castle Heterodyne. At the time, it's one big insane deathtrap used as a prison not seriously guarded once against escape — usually the equivalent of a death sentence. Yes, the guards didn't follow him inside...Violetta: Now do you understand what I have to work with?!
- In fairness, Tarvek was heading into the Castle anyway. Agatha uses the same tactic earlier by fleeing into an uncharted Castle corridor that hadn't been mapped for deathtraps. However the mooks end up following her anyway, when their Bad Boss shoots one to encourage the others.
- Tarvek, has a bright idea to run into the Castle Heterodyne. At the time, it's one big insane deathtrap used as a prison not seriously guarded once against escape — usually the equivalent of a death sentence. Yes, the guards didn't follow him inside...
- Turned Against Their Masters:
- This happens every once in a while with Sparks' creations. The Sparks then inevitably order them to stand down, which ends as expected.Moloch: Uh... that never works, you know...
- In a bout of Genre Savvy, Agatha deals with one monster by saying she isn't its creator and has no intention of ordering it around. The perplexed monster immediately loses interest in her and leaves. Its actual master turns up later, and attempts to assert his authority in the usual way. As usual, it doesn't work.
- The Heterodynes are apparently the only ones that only very rarely have this happen to them. Agatha's behaviour above as well as some things the Jägers say hint that the reason why the Heterodynes usually have obedient followers — created by them or not — is that they order them around, but never with declaring themselves their master, instead allowing the ordered subject to choose to obey.
- This happens every once in a while with Sparks' creations. The Sparks then inevitably order them to stand down, which ends as expected.
- Twisted Echo Cut: If the Mistress were here, ''she'd say..." — "Kneel, you miserable minion!"