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Girl Genius provides examples of the following tropes:

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  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Happen to many named characters, because Obfuscating Stupidity is best form to not sticking out and make you obvious target or just because their chance is still not coming yet.
    • Just because a woman is crying doesn't mean she can't do her job. Then just a few pages later, same woman, same mistake.
  • Understatement: Vanamonde pulls out a great one:
    Vanamonde: Um — I wonder if growing up here might make us a little... weird...
  • Underwater City: 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.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • All Jägers seem to have it for the Heterodynes. The Jägergenerals explain this loyalty best. Vole is the exception, having stopped considering himself a Jäger.
    • Castle Heterodyne is exactly what you'd expect when a series of mad scientists who live For the Evulz design an artificial sentience — it is a self-aware house of horrors on a staggering scale. But it works exactly the way it was designed to, and that means undying loyalty to the Heterodyne.
    • Mechanicsburg is full of descendants of the horde of brigands and cutthroats who were loyal to the ancient Heterodynes. It's In the Blood. This could probably be attributed as the power base of the Heterodyne family: while other sparks usually have their creations turn on them or require some manner of free will-stripping mind control, Heterodynes earn their minions' and creations' loyalty. That, and the aforementioned natural propensity to minionism.
    • This exhibition of undying loyalty extends to every sentient clank and construct seen so far that's been made by someone of the Heterodyne lineage, not just the Jägermonster horde and the citizens of Mechanicsburg.
    • In the novelization, it's revealed that Dr. Vapnoople's creations, except for Krosp, were destroyed because their loyalty couldn't be shifted to the Baron. Krosp didn't only because he was able to escape.
  • Unfamiliar Ceiling: When Gil wakes up in Mama Gkika's, he assumes he's been out of action for days when it's only been a few hours.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Von Zinzer. Also the Only Sane Man.
  • Unit Confusion: Brother Matthias channels Han Solo.
    Agatha: Surely it's not so bad if we're a little late...
    Brother Matthias: Yes it is! My train? Late?! This is the Wyrm of Limerick! The engine that made the Königsburg run in less than twelve kilometers!
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Played with. At the end of the Paris arc, as Agatha is preparing to leave, every high-end tailor and dressmaker in the city gives her a free outfit so that they can claim that they dressed the Lady Heterodyne for advertising purposes. Her wardrobe now comes in over a dozen trunks. But despite all that, Agatha normally sticks to a small number of outfits that are practical for working in, and she hasn't even opened most of those trunks, much less tried on their contents.
  • Un-Paused: When Andronicus Valois, the first Storm King is freed from the Time Stands Still effect of Prende's Chronometric Lantern, he doesn't realize that two hundred years have gone by. For him, it was mere seconds ago that Van Rijn betrayed him.
  • Unreliable Expositor:
    • Klaus encoded a message to his son in a story he tricked Phil into delivering. Although we only see the tail end of Phil's version, it's clearly different, and judging by Gil's reaction he screwed up most of the symbolism (that is, the entirety of the message) too. Luckily, Tarvek notices something is up.
    • Very nearly every story anyone tells about the Heterodynes. On purpose by someone, since they're all published and almost everyone who has books seems to have at least some of them.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Initially Moloch has a crush on Sanaa but she seems to think he's rather useless. However after he Takes A Level In Badass and becomes Agatha's chief minion Sanaa seems to be attracted to him and he seems to be over his crush. And unfortunately for her there could end up being some competition.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Jeez, Agatha, just make out with Gil already...
  • Unsound Effect:
  • Unstoppable Rage: The Unstoppable Higgs, of course.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "Why do I even have one of those?" "I wondered where that went on Tuesdays."
  • Unwanted Assistance:
    • Gil as his friends "creatively" explain his plans and motivations to the people of Mechanicsburg, as seen in the fourth panel here, almost word-for-word.
    • And Agatha to Moloch, as seen in the last panel here.
      Agatha: THANK YOU. For your HELP.
      Moloch: I-I'll just...
      Agatha: Shut up...?
      Moloch: Yes...
    • This happens a lot, especially when Sparks are involved. At one point when Gil unleashes a mechanical cage in an effort to attract a crowd, Theo and Sleipnir try to keep the crowd safe, while only making things worse.
      Zeetha: They are trying to help, right?
      Gil: It's my fault, really. I make it look easy.
    • Gil has this reaction a few times towards folks — most notably here, where he's trying to stop folks from describing his romantic reasons for trying to help Agatha. Unfortunately for him, he's being shouted down by an enthusiastic crowd, two trained circus performers who are trying to rile up said crowd, and two friends who like to see him squirm.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Agatha, before knowing her true heritage or even that she was a Spark, inadvertently used the Command Voice on a sleeper revenant, who then carried out what he thought was her orders: activate the confiscated Hive Engine that the Baron Wulfenbach ordered examined.
  • Uplifted Animal: Several examples, the most prominent being Krosp the super-genius cat.
  • Up to Eleven: The "Movit" series of stimulants comes in a verity of intensities, the strongest of which appears to be 11. Previously, it was thought that the strongest was 6, which itself is one above the common 1-5 scale. As one might imagine, the further up the scale, the more one blurs the line between "powerful stimulant" and "lethal injection." That section of the story is even called "Zola Goes up to Eleven".
    Tarvek: Wait— I thought it only went up to six!
  • Use Your Head: Dimo, upon being asked to hammer in something for Agatha.
    Agatha: I thought you'd use your metal hand!
    Dimo: ...oh.
    Jenka: Dunno. Hiz head is probably harder.

  • Vetinari Job Security: Hilariously deconstructed with Baron Wulfenbach. He completely fits the description in that he is so important and necessary for the continued functioning of Europa that only a madman would think about overthrowing him. Unfortunately, this being Girl Genius, there are powerful madmen (a.k.a. Sparks) everywhere, which is why there is nearly always a rebellion somewhere. Further illustrated in that, as soon as he is hospitalized (and possibly killed), the whole continent immediately erupts in chaos. And then he time-freezes himself inside Mechanicsburg, and everything goes even further to hell.
  • Vestigial Empire: After in-universe two year Time Skip Wufenbach Empire, or Pax Transylvania if you prefer, itself. After, losing a chunk of their forces at Mechanicsburg, many regions revolted and seceded, and Storm King faction(s)/loyalists are openly challenging their rule. Worse, The Other's forces are active again. (Although it's never been made entirely clear how much of the empire has been lost.)
  • Victoria's Secret Compartment: The Other does this, as fits her personality (but not Agatha's, providing a minor bit of hilarity).
  • Villain Has a Point: Othar is unquestionably one of the villains of the story, but he really isn't wrong when he claims everything bad about the world can be blamed on the Sparks. Just about every other Spark we've seen has been a homicidal lunatic, and it's open fact that all of the monsters and chaos in the setting are Spark experiments that have either Gone Horribly Wrong or Gone Horribly Right. Treating humans as experiment components (or targets) is as natural to a Spark as breathing. Even our heroes have been shown having Skewed Priorities at best.
    • After the time skip, the conspiracy to re-institute the throne of the Storm King are entirely correct that the continent needs a single strong leader to keep the sparks under control, and that their group is by far the closest to having one in place. Their plan of using a political marriage to bring the new heterodyne under control also legitimately gives Agatha what she wants (the ability to protect those under her promised protection and the autonomy to largely do her own thing). How reasonable the compromise is has reached the point where Agatha's only real objection is to the specific candidate being put forward as the new King (she'd prefer it to be the member of the family that she already likes), and the coordinators of the conspiracy actually seem inclined to bend to that request as well in the interest of stability. If they weren't also willing to compromise with the Other for similar reasons, they would verge on being an unambiguously 'good' faction.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dr. Merlot wasn't exactly the most sane individual in Volume 1. His little story in Volume 9 seems to indicate that he might be having some difficulties.
  • Villainous Valor: Whatever Tweedle's other faults, he's no coward. Ditto Zola.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend:
    • While Agatha's men can usually take care of themselves, if things get to be too much for them, Agatha. Will. Take. Steps. Usually involving large clanks, or Disproportionate Retribution.
    • And Bang flips out when Gil seems to have harmed a guy she likes — enough to attack Gil, even though they're normally reasonably friendly.
  • Visible Silence: Appears often, but then four times in a row.
  • Visual Pun:
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Gil and Tarvek. At each other's throats one minute, talking shop on espionage the next.
  • Volleying Insults: Gil and Tarvek, during their brawls and in the Cinderella story.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: Had to happen eventually.

  • Warrior Princess: Not only is Zeetha a warrior princess, she doesn't seem to be aware there's any other kinds of princess.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: Occurs after Agatha, Gil, and Tarvek try revivification.
  • Wave Motion Gun:
    • Agatha's little corkscrew death ray pretty much annihilates whatever it's shot at. The Castle really doesn't like it for obvious reasons. It could also qualify as a Wave-Motion Tuning Fork if not for the corkscrew between the two prongs.
    • Wave Motion Swan. A noblewoman's swan-shaped party sleigh packing a Wave Motion gun. Only in Girl Genius...
      Ishtvan: Is... is that...
      Tweedle: [face in his hands] Grandmother's old party sleigh. Yes.
      Ishtvan: Could it always do that?
      Tweedle: How should I know? Knowing my grandmother's parties, probably.
  • Weapon Tombstone: Agatha Clay's grave has the remnants of a warbot, a tree, and a pile of rocks with a death ray stuck in it.
  • Weasel Mascot: The Wulfenbach Bug Squad (aka the Vespiary Squad) of course! Apart from their uniform's Nice Hat of a slaver-wasp skull, this is their main hat. Their charges are all modified weasels, without which the Squad could not do their job as wasp detectors and exterminators. Although they have eight legs, they are still, very much, weasels of some description (however big they get). And, they are sooo cute (for a given definition of cute).
  • Webcomic Time:
    • Tarvek was critically ill and about to die for just short of 15 months. The general concept is lampshaded once. And again: "It only seem like deyz been in de kestle a long time!"
    • Agatha first went into the Castle on Feb 08, 2008. She left the Castle on Nov 02, 2011. Three years, eight months, twenty-six days, and approximately 582 comics. Maybe one day, in universe. The ringing of the Doom Bell, which starts immediately after Agatha leaves, takes about three weeks.
    • This leads to interesting situations such as Higgs and Zeetha falling in love over what should be a single day.
    • After reaching Paris, Zeetha notes that she's "only" been training Agatha for six months (as an excuse for why the people Agatha hits can get back up). Real-world time the training started ten years before that scene.
  • Weird Science: Rules the Earth. Badly.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The story is full of them, and a running theme is that they may not be quite as unreasonable as they appear. The spark applies to the social sciences, too, so extreme solutions may not be as impossible to pull of as they would be in a saner world.
  • We Can Rule Together: In an unusual twist on this trope Lucrezia offers to join Klaus rather than asking him to join her, however since they are both possessing their children at the time, this only ends up hitting his Berserk Button.
  • We Have Ways of Making You Talk: Defied by Othar, and immediately subverted by Klaus (who wishes he could invert it).
  • We Meet Again:
  • We Need a Distraction: Gil and Tarvek help, in a fight scene incorporating many battle tropes.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Zeetha!!
    • Gil has been infected with a slaver wasp since his in-backstory trip to Paris. Maybe.note 
    • The revelation of what happened to Mechanicsburg after Klaus activated his bomb. In a nutshell, the bomb enclosed Mechanicsburg in a shield that ground time in Mechanicsburg to a halt, meaning that while it's still the same day to Klaus, the Jaeger Generals, and everyone else still trapped in Mechanisburg, two years have passed outside. With Klaus stuck in Mechanicsburg, the Empire has collapsed, and what little is left of their authority is being controlled by Gil, who has suffered severe Sanity Slippage.
    • If the December 27, 2013 update is anything to go by, Klaus has somehow possessed his son.
    • The May 15, 2015 update heavily implies that the Eldritch Abominations who previously appeared in Mechanicsburg when Robar Heterodyne conducted his time experiments were the Dreen; it remains to be seen if the (much bigger) one who is currently being attracted by Klaus' Time Crash of the same city is some form of Dreen as well.
    • And on September 15, 2015... The Enigma. Last seen at the very beginning of the series, with the mysterious portal that effectively started Agatha's whole adventure. According to the book, the "Enigma", as the fans have called it, is the Muse of Time — but it apparently predates Van Rijn.
    • A great deal of the plot regarding the time after the Time Skip is about who can claim the title of Storm King, especially with Tarvek frozen in Mechanicsburg. Prende, one of the muses, finally reveals who the true Storm King is: it is still Andronicus Valois who was mured in the Corbettite crypts, has been undead for the last 200 years and is guarded by Prende and the Muse's Lantern.
    • Andronicus's mace has been corrupted along with him and now can turn foes into animated corpses.
  • Wham Line:
    • An early one in the series.
      Gil: I think he [Dr. Beetle] threw a bomb at you.
    • Klaus is a fountain of these.
      Klaus: Is she Lucrezia and Bill's? Or a surprise on Barry's part?
    • Klaus delivers one In-Universe when he casually reveals that he's married. Othar is (for once) completely flabbergasted, as apparently no-one has even heard of this.
    • "I believe the ignorant refer to them as slaver wasps."
    • "Yes... but I vas starting to like her." Also pulling double duty as a Pre-Asskicking One-Liner.
    • Violetta, in the last panel. The whole last row, really. We knew it all along, but the lady in the chair didn't.
    • "Just go to sleep."
    • "WRONG!"
    • "You were infected before you even met her." Although later events show this was almost certainly a Blatant Lie.
    • "I AM the Storm King."
    • "We thought you were lost! Like everyone in Mechanicsburg!"
    • "All right, out with it. We've lost what, six months?" "Two and a half years."
    • "Martellus, there is no empire."
    • The comic even manages to include a Wham Line that we can't read.
    • "The girl is still dangerous, and my son is still too much of a fool to see it." The wham part? It came from the mouth of Gilgamesh Wulfenbach.
    • "And they used to be men. Sometimes even they forget that." This is Higgs' response to Gil when the latter asks the former what he knows about the Jägers.
    • "They're not omniscient. My father says they're simply tangential to time as we know it, and... "And... they had hats..."" This is Gil realizing what the Dreen are.
    • "No. Your "Storm King", or whatever his imagined claim, is not the true Storm King. The Lantern must not be moved." Said by Muse Prende in the true vaults. In the end, The Lantern is moved and the original Storm King, Andronicus Valois, appears as an undead from within Prende's chamber.
    • Vole isn't sure he feels like fighting any more.
    • Geisterdame: Skifander
    • Jenka to Andronicus Valois: "Vell, dis leedle doggie vants to know vot hyu did vit her luffly fangs vunce hyu pulled dem!"
    • Tarvek: "Oh are you going to threaten me? Then here, do it right. Because if you don't believe by know that I will do anything for Agatha then it all ends here anyway. Doesn't it, General?" (Note, this is said to Airman Higgs.)
    • Trelawney Thorpe: "So long ago that nobody but she remembers, Albia was like you or me. A regular Spark. A strong one, but still a Spark. The kind we know today. This, the Queen's Henge, this is what she created after she broke through again."
    • Queen Albia, from her Well of Memories: "Oh. OH. could we have...We have not examined this memory in centuries! We did not know! We did not remember! was she! It was Lucrezia! Lucrezia Mongfish! [who killed the ancient queens and caused their mirrors to stop working]
  • What Are You in For?:
  • What Does She See in Him?: Gilgamesh and Tarvek, towards Agatha regarding each other.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The monster horse that appeared during Master Payne's Circus story: we never know why it was/turned into such a hideous abomination, and it was never addressed again. Likely just because a spark felt like it, and because monsters are so common in this setting that it is a mundane hazard.
    • A little earlier we have Zulenna, she gives her life to save Agatha and the others, gets put in a healing chamber and seems to set up a plot point about Klaus getting grief from the Fifty Families about resurrecting one of their number.
    • The Baron cloned Olga's body, assuming her to be the believed-dead Agatha. Nothing on what happened to the new body...
    • While in Sturmhalten, Agatha sent out four messenger dingbots to the Baron. One was shown successfully escaping the monster that destroyed the first three... and was not shown or mentioned again. Especially not by the Baron, who seems just as misguided as before several volumes later. Much later, it's back.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: "TRULY YOU ARE YOUR MOTHER'S CHILD!" More understandable than some, since the one calling Agatha out murdered her step-parents in cold blood, but everyone Von Pinn worked with considers her tough but fair, and likes her. And she is the closest thing Gil had to a mother. Agatha's response is a heck of a lot of guilt.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Zeetha says this after a day of rough training for Agatha.
  • Who Dares?:
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
  • Why, Thank You, X!: 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...
  • Why Won't You Die?: Zola quickly learns that Higgs is very hard to kill.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Gil and Agatha, most frequently impeded by terrible miscommunication and Gil's bad luck and Castle Heterodyne. It's sure looking like they will...
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity:
    • The Sparks, by definition; Baron Wulfenbach fights this off by pure force of will... usually. Every successful Spark has at least one very level-headed keeper.
    • The Heterodyne family in particular. Apparently their unearthly strength and stamina comes from drinking from a spring famed for causing insanity and death in people who just bathed in it.
    • It's implied that the reason the Storm King was regarded as the greatest king of all time is because he was able to keep enough self-control to rule effectively. This may have been at least partially due to the influence of the Muses.
  • With This Herring: How the castle wants Agatha to fix it, at least initially.
  • The Worf Effect:
    • In addition to character-specific instances, there are Martellus's sparkhounds. They're played up for how scary they are, but so far we've seen them being slaughtered en masse by Gil and his entourage (which, mind you, does include a Great Sky Wyrm), and later a lone jägermonster kills six of them before going down.
    • Also, Wulfenbach Troops. They are the ones that conquered Europa, battling the Other's forces, and keeping peace (that includes many MadScientists and powerful nobles). But, unfortunately when facing Agatha Heterodyne and fully repaired and recharged Castle Heterodyne, their luck is not that good. Or, whenever they deal with important characters or in main story, really.
  • World of Badass: Show us a character who's not badass, and within a couple of strips they'll either turn out to be badass or they'll be dead. In a world ruled by mad scientists, even the minions and staff have to be pretty tough to avoid getting killed.
  • World of Buxom: Just about every post-puberty female character, notably Agatha, Zeetha, the Geisterdamen and Mama Gkika. The Muses and Clank Anevka have pretty darned voluptuous figures, too. The few exceptions are Rivet, Wrench Wench for Master Payne's Circus; Daiyu, doctor Sun's daughter (who would be decent-sized in any other work); Grantz, the immensely strong monster hunter (who falls firmly into the Bifauxnen slot); and Miss Baumhund, the lanky grad student (who has only appeared in that one strip — so far), who seems a bit out of place when compared to other female characters. Lieutenant Krishnamurti and Xersephnia, Martellus' sister, are somewhat below average too.
  • World of Ham: Naturally. The Spark package comes with a side order of ham.
  • Worrying for the Wrong Reason: The scary part about being trapped in a room full of broken machinery within an insane castle is not that the castle will kill you if you're unable to fix it, but that Gil's interest has been piqued.
  • Worst. Whatever. Ever!: Gil, after falling victim to the Exploding Closet.
    Gil: That's the worst filing system I've ever seen.
  • Worth It:
    • This is Agatha's attitude in the Cinderella play to being grounded. Of course, she was grounded after tricking Mamma Gkika's "Wicked Stepmother" into putting her fist through a hive of specially-bred quilting bees.
    • And in a more serious tone, Klaus's attitude to the pain he suffered getting to the window and back. Not only that, Klaus actually said that if the experience paralyzed him for the rest of his life, it would still be worth it after seeing his son pull off that moment of awesome.
    • Upon Gil meeting one of his personal heroes, Trewlaney Thorpe:
      Gil: [whispering, irritated] Why am I naked in front of one of my heroes?
      Tarvek: It was DuPree's idea.
      Gil: I will give you to her.
      Tarvek: Worth it!
  • Would Hit a Girl: Pretty much everyone, since there are more than enough dangerous females to dispatch anyone reluctant to fight back. Some notable examples:
    • Ardsley Wooster punching Bangladesh DuPree in the face.
    • Airman Higgs beating the crap out of Zola.
    • Tarvek absolutely losing it when Zola tries to kill Agatha again and brutally beating her — and then trying to strangle her to death.
    • Gil judo-throwing Bang when she tries to take him into custody.
    • However, it's still recommended that this trope not be followed if it isn't necessary. Some may take issue with it being applied without restriction.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: Sergeant Nak's advice:
    Nak: Do not hit the crowd, or I'll eat your ears!

  • Xanatos Speed Chess:
  • X Days Since:
  • X-Ray Vision: The vision-augmentation helmet Agatha and Jiminez put together has "x-ray vision" as one of its many settings. It is one of the settings which make Jiminez able to see the mechanisms of a very fancy vault door which makes him and Aldin able to open it. The first time Jiminez switches through the different modes, he accidentally switches to X-Ray at the moment he... "looks" at fellow lady-adventurer Larana.


  • Zeppelins from Another World: Lots. Predominantly used by the Baron; he has his entire command center in Castle Wulfenbach, a zeppelin of truly Brobdingnagian size, equipped with numerous labs, docking bays for several smaller craft ("smaller" as in "regular-sized airships"), and penthouse-like living quarters on top of the hull. It comes with an entire support fleet, and air-warships are a mainstay of his armed forces. Which is of course very practical if someone makes the Baron "come over there".
  • Zerg Rush: Among many, many other defenses, Castle Heterodyne can resort to unleashing every clank and construct abomination in its bowels at an aggressor.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: Not "really" zombies, but the Other did create an auto-recruiting army of mindless, malicious, shambling, ''incurable'' Revenants under her complete control. Putting them down was the greatest challenge of Klaus' emperor-ing career. It was recently discovered that those revenants were just a few percent of the infected, and the rest look and act like any other person, even though they're mind-slaves to the Other. Tarvek said that the "zombie-like" Revenants were an unforeseen and rare exception, and helped to hide the nature of more numerous non-shambler Revenants.


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