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Mood Whiplash / Webcomics

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Examples of Mood Whiplash in Webcomics.

  • Statistical Fact. Extreme tonal shifts are fertile ground for comedy in this movie parody strip.
  • The Chosen Four starts doing this in the Fourside chapter, it goes from the usual humorous plot development, until Paula is captured, followed by a scary burst of Unstoppable Rage from Ness, who destroys an enemy in a brutal manner, then to the freaking nightmare into Moonside, with major revelations about Giygas, then crazy Hot-Blooded action against the Mani-Mani Statue, and then to funny talking monkeys.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court did this in chapter 6, with the mood shifting from lighthearted to sad in a single page. The author even commented on it:
    Tom: That's right, it's the end of the chapter! I hope I successfully tricked you all into thinking something weird and wacky was going to happen, but in the end, it was just about a girl crying for her mum.
    • Similarly, chapter 19 gets intensely creepy, which makes the sudden heartwarming moment all the more effective. Which in turn makes Annie getting the rug yanked out from under her—on the very next page—all the more shocking.
    • Also here. And here. And there.
    • Chapter 34 is made of this.
    • Chapter 36 is one of the most lighthearted in the comic, consisting almost entirely of Antimony's wacky shenanigans with Red's class. The very last page of the chapter has Antimony getting a call from her long-absent father.
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    • Chapter 39 has things get turned Up to Eleven in intensity. And then the chapter ends with the bonus page MORT FUN TIME.
  • College Roomies from Hell!!!. It began when a Mushroom Samba turned into an all-out battle with Satan that nearly ended with a main character sucked into Hell, and just kept getting more extreme from there.
  • Doubling as a Wham Episode, the wedding of Brent and Jade in the webcomic PvP, which featured Jade's Rich Bitch mother nearly ruining the entire occasion on a whim (by cancelling all their reservations because she hadn't been consulted on any of it), Skull's abrupt departure from the cast (complete with Brent nearly getting murdered by one of the Gods sent to fetch Skull), and Francis and Marcie losing their virginity to each other.
  • This DDG strip features the standard Man, I Feel Like a Woman moment and moves swiftly on to Zip's reaction to finding out his funeral wasn't well attended. To be honest the comic itself does tend to swing between the wacky hi-jinks in the afterlife and sudden angst filled strips which are slowly revealing how Zip got there.
  • Sluggy Freelance is the drunken master of Mood Whiplash, still mostly light-hearted, both during and after events that would cause others to go down as having Cerebus Syndrome. is one of many that features a sudden mood shift within the same comic.
    • March 1st 2010 has an especially good example finishing an arc of goofy recaps with only a little seriousness in the middle and total ridiculousness at the end, with Torg channeling his That Which Redeems self in the last panel "Starting tomorrow our next mission is to burn Hereti Corp to the ground.".
    • June-July 2011, the last week and a half of 4U City Red and the question over the fate of Zoe.
    • Sluggy is especially ugly about this in that it not only whiplashes with sudden content changes, it whiplashes with sudden attitude changes about essentially the same content. It initially treated violent death as Bloody Hilarious, and even after Cerebus Syndrome set in it still reverted to form for a lot of gags, sometimes making it difficult to tell whether you were supposed to laugh or cry at a particular death. About nine years into the series, the author started to lampshade this by having some characters react realistically to deaths other characters laughed at.
  • Penny and Aggie. One strip has the Girl Posse being farcically evaile as they plan to use a target's unannounced homosexuality against her. In the next strip the psychotic one is making a false lesbian rape accusation when the worst the posse had done before was a Party Scheduling Gambit. In the next strip she turns out to have no idea of how people speak as she gives her assailant lines that would be at home in a 1950s Scare 'Em Straight flick. In the next strip the accusation snaps back into plausibility, and she implies body parts that women don't have before starting to tear up...
  • It's Walky!: Every. Last. Storyline. The other Walkyverse comics tend toward this as well, but Walky is indisputably the gold standard. One week - tortured angst. The next - week long Toilet Humor!
  • minus. is a story about a young girl with godlike power. What makes it so creepy is how often her (ab)use of it switches between whimsical, mischievous, accidentally creepy, and flat-out evil. For instance, early on she pops all the balloons a vendor was selling, and when he yells at her for it she casually kills him.
    • And then there's this one.
  • El Goonish Shive... goes all over the mood spectrum, and is see-sawing between the extremes. Shive does try and stop the comic's tone from stagnating, and so he keeps it bouncing from wacky to dramatic, all the time.
  • In Looking for Group, some characters occasionally sing in battles, particularly against large mobs. These battles tend to get particularly bloody, but the songs chosen are generally happy themes, such as Lean on Me and The Rose.
    • Lean On Me is also very appropriate - it's used on a rescue mission, and The Power of Friendship is front and centre, along with the slaughter and bloodshed.
    • And then there's Richard...
      • The singing is done by the team's Boisterous Bruiser, so singing inappropriately is hardly out of character. Richard, however, appears to be waging a lone crusade against Cerebus by inserting cheap jokes wherever he can.
  • Something*Positive has a very evil tendency to do this. It's quite possible that no long-run storyline has ever quite gone without banging up the readers' emotions at least to some extent.
    • Three words, the catgirl arc... * shudder*
    • The comic where Fred and Monette discussed the comic-book "incident" ... * roflm—sob*
  • RPG World both used this straight and parodied this. The dramatic death of one character was followed in-comic by Jim (the player) reacting and posting about the game on a message board. While within the game itself, the death is followed by a butterfly-catching minigame, prompting the characters to complain about not getting sufficient time to mourn.
  • The Order of the Stick #640 brings us the genocide of 25% of the Black Dragon race. And a college basketball gag.
    • With the exception of maybe the first 50 gag-based comics, I think it's fair to say that The Order of the Stick does Mood Whiplash almost all the time and actually makes it all work really well. One of the earliest examples was actually "Saddest.Comic.Ever", a Tear Jerker comic strip that was immediately followed by Durkon rejoining the group in time to hear Elan's hilarious attempts to convert Vaarsuvius to the Cult of Banjo.
  • This strip of Darths & Droids shows the scene of Shmi dies and Annie as Anakin makes her character filled with rage and go on killing Sand People...the punchline?
    Sand Person: Ow!! My splanch!
  • Done frequently in Mountain Time, as shown here.
  • Often occurs in Polandball comics that depend on Black Comedy, with the twist being surprisingly darker than its buildup. An example would be Let me live that fantasy, a (relatively) harmless adaptation of Royals. And then comes Ukraine's turn to sing, in which he bloodily reenacts the Volhynia massacre with great enthusiasm.
  • In Everyday Heroes, while Jane is cleaning, she comes across an old photo. The story was pretty light-hearted before that point.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del. The abortion comics. A Convenient Miscarriage that follows a previously non-tragic story and is followed by more gag comics.
    • The short version: What begins with a silly Kick Starter ends with a robot apocalypse, the off-screen death of the main cast with two notable exceptions, the destruction of reality, and the end of the comic. The long version: This is how CAD ends, at least for the main cast: Ethan discovers Kick Starter and makes one for billions of dollars to become Batman. That fails so he makes waffles instead. The butter from the waffles starts his time machine and Future-Ethan pokes his head through (again; he got punched the last time because Present-Ethan thought it was a prank) and yanks him into the future. Five years hence the future is very Grimdark: Zeke the X-bot got infected by Embla; Ethan had to destroy Embla; Zeke killed Ethan's friends, enslaved humanity, and personally strangled Lilah to death in front of Ethan. Future-Ethan (who's wearing a Jetsons-style Halloween costume because he knew Past-Ethan wouldn't believe he's from the future) had to bring Past-Ethan into the future to show him why he can't rebuild Embla. P-Ethan is suddenly caught in a rebel trap and F-Ethan ditches him; the human rebels can barely keep themselves from killing the man who effectively destroyed the world. One of them, an unnamed 18-year-old girl, allows P-Ethan to escape so she can tail him; P-Ethan goes back to the time machine (but not before being tempted by future games!) and finds F-Ethan about to go to the past and fix at least one timeline (this bad future is irrecoverably doomed). The Ethans fight but are interrupted by the rebel, who is killed by F-Ethan but not before she damages the time machine which is now on the verge of destroying all of space-time. F-Ethan decides to let P-Ethan go through while he shuts it off from his side but then he's shot in the head by the not-quite-dead rebel girl. P-Ethan decides to shut off the machine and save his timeline and his friends at the cost of being trapped in time (or at least a very, very bad future) forever. The author felt this was a just ending for a Comedic Sociopath Karma Houdini. The next comic is a random dude messily squishing My Little Ponies on an iPad.
  • Much of the dark humour in Lackadaisy comes from this. Notable example is the strip Houdini, where a quite sweet scene between Ivy and Viktor pans out to reveal the dangling tail of the man he's just brutally murdered.
  • Keychain of Creation sometimes falls into this. Compare this tear jerker to how they get Misho to cope with it
  • Done in something of an arc in Welcome to Pixelton. Our brave heroes Kirby and Fil have what they assume to be an intruder break into their house in the middle of the night. They get eaten by it after a failed attempt at accosting the monster. What follows is a humorous look at what they assume to be their final moments as they prepare to be digested... and then the Mood Whiplash kicks in when Fil hits a Self-Destruct Mechanism in the thing's stomach and the 'yellow pony-thing' blows up. Turns out that the monster's species transports people around in his belly, and the guy was a fan of Kirby and Fil and was taking them to meet his family. And they killed him.
  • Slightly Damned does this a lot, contrasting character driven humour with a plot that starts with the main character going to hell and arguably gets worse from there.
  • Immelmann (the author) admits to using this trope by name in this Concession comic's alt text. The comic takes an abrupt turn from ridiculous and comedic to gravely serious.
  • Nerf NOW!!, a webcomic with cartoonish characters that often has a very light hearted tone, has done this with three story arcs.
    • The first involved a look at what it meant to be a Drone for the Zerg in a competitive game, starting off with a gleeful adventure, and ending in the complete annihilation of all the anthropomorphized Zerg forces save for the drone, whose life was sacrificed for a new hive.
    • The second went into the author's own Team Fortress 2 story, which had up until this point only gotten as dark as the Heavy quitting the team to go join a team of babies. This particular one however went much, much darker than that. After a new update nerfs the Pyro, he gets into a fight with his wife, a female Sniper, where things were said that shouldn't have been. She ends up "making a mistake" with the Spy out of rage. When the Heavy and the Medic find out, the confront the Spy, only for him to show his own photographs of the Pyro and the female Engineer, whom the Pyro first had a crush on in the initial arc and who in turn had a crush on the Pyro when he disguised himself as the Engineer in order for to help her learn how to successfully play when she was feeling down for not being able to accomplish anything that round. The Spy leaves the photographs in the hands of the two after announcing that he's already leaving the team, so the only person who will suffer if they decide to reveal both sets will be Pyro, Sniper, and their child. The two decide to hide the truth from the family. The scene ends with a shot of the Spy staring sadly at a picture of the family, only for the camera to zoom suspiciously in on the child between the couple. Word of God has it that the story arc is over, he won't answer any questions, and that they all lived "happily ever after," but the reader probably won't be so willing to leave the topic.
    • There's also the episode where we get to see through Splash Woman's eyes for Megaman 9. It begins out with her life being all she could ever want, until she's to be recycled. Right before she's crushed, the machine stops, and we see a heroic Dr. Wily reaching down to offer her a second chance. We flash forward where we seen her stage in ruins and a soulless Megaman facing her. She soon finds herself no match and prays on the ground where Megaman places his gun to her head and BLOWS A HOLE THROUGH HER HEAD. The scene flashes to Dr. Light at the controls, smug with his victory. The camera rotates revealing a half completed Megaman X along with a computer screen with a similar symbol on it that condemned Splash Woman to recycling next to Megaman's name.
  • Nuzlocke Comics frequently do this, courtesy of the subject matter: Pokémon adventures in a world where defeat means getting Killed Off for Real. Silly antics can swing into tearful losses in a heartbeat, especially whenever battles seem to be going really well...
  • In Erf World, Parson provides what could be the page quote for the entire concept while first adjusting to Erf World, "Everything is cute. Like it's been made safe for children. The people even look like children. Except then they die."
  • Goblins has a tendency to go from funny strips to horrific death.
  • Demon Eater switches its approach as time goes on, depending on the circumstances. Since it's narrated in an almost-first-person point of view, it certainly reflects the main character's view of the world.
  • Wapsi Square went from a week of goofy strips about Monica being an audiophile to an incredibly dark and graphic sequence about the creation of the chimera.
    • More recently {between this strip (21 May 12) and this one (8 June 12)}, Pablo manages to do it twice.
  • Eerie Cuties has its moments. Ace and Nina have to do a report on an ancient vampire queen.
    Ace: So, what did she do?
    Nina: Oh, not much. Only that her stratospheric rise to power ushered in an age of darkness and despair to all of mankind. And how widows wept over the unidentifiable remains of their husband's corpses, as virgins shed tears of blood, as the streets ran red with crimson most pure!!!
    Ace: O_O
    Nina: (completely normal) Also, she had a kitty. Its name was Mr. Boodles.
  • Drive:
    Narration: Evolution is funny. Generation after generation of Fillipods were naturally selected for stalks capable of ever-stronger van der waals forces. Basically, for reasons of diet. The Winter Tilla fruit has an amazing combination of proteins, carbs, and vitamins... but has a tree bark that's glass-smooth, and impossible to climb. Hence the natural selection towards van der waals forces: the Fillipods who could climb... could live to breed. It's an ability that's kept them alive for thousands of years. And, oddly enough, did so again when their planet was cracked in half... and every Tesskan alive was flung 30 meters in the air.
  • Questionable Content demonstrates and lampshades it in this strip.
  • This xkcd
  • Brawl in the Family
  • Done quite deliberately in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja here.
  • Roommates generally goes something like this. "Ooh, this is a hilarious little story arc in a comic that has an epic crossover and lots of fanservice!" And along comes the next arc.... "You mean that everybody's day of fun was the reason that Jareth turned into Dark!Jareth? And what did he do to James? And poor Javert!" Or within an arc, Javert finds Erik in his apartment, unconscious and covered in blood. Characters and audience both freak and get feels. It turns out that he had a huge nosebleed from a rather... awkward situation.
    • That comic is a Cerebus Rollercoaster from arc to arc and doesn't shy away from hitting the readership with this trope at any given (but mostly the least expected) time. Also Zombie arc darkly humorous story... ends with the biggest tear jerker of the series to date. Talahassee visiting his son's grave.
  • In Commander Kitty, Nin Wah declares violent and bloody revenge against Zenith and Fortiscue...only to panic at the prospect of carrying the severed head of her own robot replica.
  • This Bug Martini strip goes from sad to toilet humor in the space of one panel.
  • Girls with Slingshots has the tendency of throwing away gags whenever things get too serious, but there are attempts of this in which this is the end result: this strip is a small example, and a bigger one came a few strips later when Zach broke up with Hazel.
  • Drowtales, chapter 44. One page: Sara and Anjin are needling Nau about his romantic prospects. It is revealed that Nau's sister Chrys is together with Sara's brother. Nau is trying to evade, and almost harem comedy antics ensue. Next page: Chrys is having a miscarriage and bleeding profusely.
  • In Uncommon Animals Terry and Jennelle are happily Eating the Eye Candy, and then Terry notices the tattoo...
  • Awful Hospital regularly switches between Surreal Humor and Surreal Horror on a dime.
  • Zebra Girl: And now: HUMOR!
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent may be a lighthearted story, it is still a lighthearted story set in a monster-ridden Forbidden Zone After the End. The tone can easily move from a humorous verbal exchange to people running for their lives or finding the remains of a losing struggle against a disease that was certain death for a majority of victims and horribly mutating into monsters for a minority of them.
  • Hexane: The final battle was going to happen between Viy and the protagonists. They strike an epic Team Shot before heading into the fight, when... they start playing a very pretty song. Doubles as a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment.
  • My Deepest Secret does this incredibly often, in no small part because of the cute art and the seemingly cute main romance. The first episode alone begins as a sweet, wholesome, if somewhat typical romance. By the end, it’s obvious that it's actually quite a messed up romance.
    • The date episodes between Emma and Elios have one each. In the first part, Elios takes Emma into the middle of a lake by boat. It's sweet until he comments that nobody can escape like that, and then asks her how much she loves him. The following episode ends with Emma narrating how wrong she was to think she was lucky to have Elios...accompanied by a picture of two skulls and a white moth.
    • After a bad run in with her creepy professor, Elios offers to help Emma with her assignment. It's cute, and ends with a Sleep Cute moment. But then Elios looks at the time with a dark look in his eyes...and later on in the episode, it's revealed that her professor seemingly hanged himself.
  • Boyfriend of the Dead: Part of the series' humor is often switching instantly from a problem straight out of a horror movie to a humorous treatment of or solution to that problem. Hemmed in by zombies reaching through the walls on all sides, threatening to grab you and tear you apart? Tickle them.
  • I Don't Want This Kind of Hero: Don't be fooled by this series being a gag comic with a cute art style: it can just as easily go to being surprisingly dark, before switching back to humorous. For example, this comic deals with obsession, murder, and even human trafficking and experimentation.
  • If a given page of Anecdote of Error is comic relief, there’s a better than even chance that the one immediately following will be horrifying:
    • On page 9 Atshi is amazed that bunk beds exist and says she wants the top bunk so as to be like a bird, and page 10 opens up with Atshi’s recurring horrific hallucination. Mitigated by the fact that she has no reaction.
    • Page 16 is a beautiful shot of the school grounds. Then on the next two pages Atshi and Luntsha discuss their regrets, making a somber turn. Then the page after that, Atshi hallucinates the fire-demon again, staring at her menacingly. Unlike the first time, Atshi freezes in terror, exclaiming “My… mistake…” and sporting a Thousand-Yard Stare. The Rant indicates that she is having a panic attack.


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