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OOC Is Serious Business / Comic Books

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  • Skalman from Bamse, a Swedish comic series, almost never showed emotion, and always obeyed a strict schedule. When he stopped obeying that schedule for a bit, or snapped at his friends, you knew it was serious.
  • In the comic book adaptation of Darkwing Duck, the Liquidator, who has the Verbal Tic of speaking in ad slogans and bogus claims, suddenly drops it just long enough to warn someone about Quackerjack's Berserk Button. Which turned out to be Serious Business indeed.
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  • Swamp Thing: "The Joker has stopped laughing."
  • Batman:
    • Speaking of The Joker, he is completely straight faced in The Killing Joke during the moment he's trying to actually reason with Batman.
    • The Killing Joke ends with an OOC moment for Batman. Long story short, Joker does some awful, awful things, Batman catches him, Joker tells him a joke. Nothing unusual so far... But then Batman starts laughing... And laughing... And laughing. No wonder plenty of people theorize that Batman finally straight up kills the Joker in this moment.
    • He finds no humor in tossing a baby to Sarah Gordon to get her to drop her sidearm then putting a bullet through her head. It's the closest thing he has to a redeeming moment.
    • And with Batman, the one time to date (not counting his very early comics and alternate universes) that he's actually used a regular gun on someone to kill them was with Darkseid in Final Crisis, because the situation was that serious. Also, whenever he seems to be seriously considering just offing someone it generally means that person has either threatened or hurt one of his adopted kids or just done something that bad if Batman's even considering Jumping Off the Slippery Slope.
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    • Death of the Family: Joker has always used Joker Venom, which kills a person and leaves them with the creepiest grin on their face. But this time, his venom kills a person, and leaves them with a frown on their face. Something is wrong...
    • The Joker has always had a fondness for jokes, tricks, and gags in his various schemes and murders, but in A Death in the Family he forgoes his usual methods and simply opts to beat Robin (Jason Todd) half to death with a crowbar and let a bomb finish the job.
    • In the magnificently mindscrewy Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?, when Joker gives a eulogy for Batman, and reminisces about his death:
      Joker: It should have been funny... but it wasn't.
    • While Dick Grayson was the sole Batman in the DCU, he let security cameras record him beating up thugs, so that criminals would know that Batman was back in town. However, Two-Face sees him smiling in one of these recordings, and this tips him off that the Batman he's watching is not the Batman, as Batman does not smile.
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    • Similarly, during Knightfall, Joker takes one look at Azbats and realizes it's not the real Batman, walking away from the fight. Commissioner Gordon, Catwoman and Superman all take similar notices.
    • The Joker ends a partnership with Red Skull when his Nazi affiliation comes out. He promptly drops his usual fondness for jokes, and is visibly NOT HAPPY about this, proclaiming "I may be a criminal lunatic, but I'm AN American criminal lunatic!"
    • Invoked and weaponized in Dark Nights: Metal - The Batman Who Laughs can prepare for every possible strategy or event that Bruce's mind can come up with, so it takes something incredibly out of character to catch him off guard, namely Batman teaming up with the Joker against him
  • In the original "Death of Jean DeWolff" storyline, Matt Murdock is talking to an old judge friend of his who he's known as a proud and decent man who shows no fear facing down crooks in his courtroom. When the Sin-Eater shows up, Matt has a split second to take him down even though it might jeopardize his secret identity as Daredevil. Before he can act, his judge friend suddenly falls to his knees and starts begging Sin-Eater for mercy. The sight of this dignified and respected friend turning into a blubbering coward jars Matt so much that he can't act before Sin-Eater pulls the trigger.
  • Here's a tip if you're a villain in the Marvel Universe. If Spider-Man is fighting you and is not making wisecracks, puns, and derisive comments about your intelligence, looks, or mama, you're not going to have a good day. While the reason he constantly makes jokes depends on the writer note , at the end of the day, you somehow did something to make Spidey very pissed off at you, and you will notice you are fighting a super-strong Big Creepy Crawly in human form. And if he's in the black costume, you might as well write your will right then and there.
    • In Spider-Man/Deadpool, the deadly antics of Itsy Bitsy drive Spidey so up the wall that he resolves to dump his Thou Shall Not Kill promise and dons the second Superior Spider-Man costume to do so. Deadpool follows suit by trying to be the voice of reason.
    • Subverted in one bonus story where Spidey is shown silently staring down a group of villains who were talking about this very trope just minutes prior. All of them question his uncharacteristic silence - except Mysterio, who just says "Uh-oh". The punch-line is that he actually just has laryngitis.
  • In The Sandman, there is one scene in which Delirium pulls herself together. Delirium, as her name suggests, is the Anthropomorphic Personification of insanity. She even comments that it hurts to be sane. ("I know things.") And from a brief moment of chilling clarity in Brief Lives to her brother Destiny:
    Delirium: Do you know why I stopped being Delight, my brother? I do. There are things not in your book. There are paths outside this garden. You would do well to remember that.
    • Later in Brief Lives, when Dream realizes that Destruction has left them behind forever and that the price of the search now has to Mercy Kill Orpheus, he has a few moments of very uncharacteristic kindness for his servants, several of whom begin wondering if he's all right.
  • In Lucifer, when Duma, the Angel of Silence, starts talking. Well. We already know the end of all creation is imminent, but that's still the point where we're forced to consider maybe Status Quo Isn't God, and nothing will ever be the same again.
  • Watchmen:
    • Rorschach is gruff, insulting, and arrogant most of the time, and also doesn't usually use pronouns or proper names. When he says, "Daniel, I apologize. I know it's difficult being my friend," you know he's being dead serious.
    • When Dan/Nite Owl finds out that his friend and mentor, Hollis Mason/the original Nite Owl was beaten to death by members of a gang, he starts beating the ever-living crap out of a gang member, to get information about the murder. Even though Nite Owl has no aversion to violence, the raw viciousness makes Rorschach of all people stop him. (Although his rationale is to tell Dan, "Not in front of the public.")
  • Any time that the pre-Crisis Lex Luthor, the version who used to be Superboy's friend and a pretty nice guy, would have a Pet the Dog moment, it represented his earlier decent nature showing through, and (rightly or wrongly), it gave Supes hope that someday he might come back to the side of the angels. One of the very last pre-Crisis stories, "The Ghost of Superman Future,'' indicates that in at least one possible future, Lex did eventually reform and they became friends again in their old age. It was by Elliot S! Maggin, who was very fond of Luthor. He later wrote a short story along similar lines called "Luthor's Gift."
  • Then there's Superman himself. When Supes gets pissed, which is rare, beware, because the Boy Scout is about to test his Thou Shalt Not Kill credo.
    • In Man of Steel (2018), Superman suddenly gets a emergency signal from the Fortress of Solitude and quickly leaves, not even telling Batman and a firefighter who are investigating an string of arsons in Metropolis goodbye. As Batman points out, if the most friendliest man in the galaxy leaves without saying goodbye, something is very wrong.
  • Wonder Woman has her own version. When she puts aside her lasso and other tools meant to disable, and actually takes up a sword or axe, it means she has declared war and someone's going down- or possibly somearmy. It doesn't really apply to the Nu 52 version who's, well, sword armed almost all the time, but it used to be a big deal for the champion of peace to take up a weapon meant to kill.
  • In the 3rd book of Bone, while the world slowly crumbles due to the Rat Creatures and Thorn learning she is a princess, Grandma Ben, whose eyes are always closed, opens them for a split-second when she finds out that she has partially doomed the Valley by not telling Thorn that she is a princess.
  • Deadpool, the fourth-wall breaking Wild Card to end all wild cards, has his speech bubbles and thought rectangles shaded yellow, to show that he's the one guy in the entire comicverse who knows he's in the comicverse and is perfectly okay with it. On the rare occasions where his speech bubbles go to the normal white shading, meaning he's taking things seriously, you know it's significant. The plot of Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe involves the yellow and white voices getting somehow killed... and the red voice replacing it. Let's just say it doesn't go well for the world. Also anytime you don't see the yellow and white voice boxes, and Deadpool is acting calm, you're going to die horribly, because you did something even Deadpool thinks is monstrous, and he's doing this job pro bono.
  • In Nodwick, when Piffany, of all people, wants to kill the princess they've rescued...
  • In a Simpsons comic story, Bart trades places with Biff Westwood, a celebrity who looks like him. He traded places the night before a test, and Biff studies for it, scoring an A on it. Later, Marge takes "Bart" to a meeting with Principal Skinner about the "A" he got, with Skinner saying that Bart is, was and always will be an underachiever.
  • In the Marvel vs. DC crossover, there comes a moment when the universe genuinely looks like it's going to end. The sky is bleeding. Spider-Man turns to J. Jonah Jameson, and says,
    Spider-Man: You gonna take one last shot at me before the lights go out?
    Jonah: ...For what it's worth, I'm sorry.
    Spider-Man: ...Oh.
  • In the Ultimate Universe, JJ snaps at young Parker and fires him after Parker calls him on his BS. But, after a thorough chewing-out by Aunt May, he shows up later on and apologizes to Peter for his behavior and goes on to explain calmly and sensibly what his problems are with Spider-Man. And then asks Peter never to have his Aunt call him again.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW):
    • When the Cutie Mark Crusaders aren't interested in cutie marks, you know something bad has happened.
    • Scootaloo turning down an offer to hang out with Rainbow Dash is so upsetting that RD has to tell her friends about it. (Whether she's worried for Scoot, is just nursing her bruised ego, or both is uncertain.)
    • The Fall of Sunset Shimmer has the normally calm and patient Princess Celestia continually aggravated as the comic goes on, and even snapping at her student at one point. Not that it's unjustified since Sunset was being defiant, and all Celestia was really doing is refusing to give in to her behavior.
  • The Caged Demonwolf in Empowered drops his alliteration and wordiness at one point for a genuinely touching discussion with a character about how he'll always remember her. After five or six volumes of "Bah!" it's an attention-getting moment.
  • During the final battle between Sonic and Robotnik in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic is so pissed off about Robotnik seemingly killing Sally that he doesn't quip any jokes and even refers to Robotnik by his real name. The comic itself lampshades this.
  • The fourth issue of The Tick comic book, "The Night Of A Million Zillion Ninjas" seems much like the previous chapters, until The Tick's friend and partner Oedipus gets stabbed by two ninjas, seriously enough that she falls unconscious and starts losing blood. At this, the wheels come off — rather than his usual bombast and style, The Tick quickly, silently, and violently dispatches the two ninjas, and all he can say as he carries Oedipus is "This isn't supposed to happen." He barely registers the paramedics who come to help Oedipus, and is later seen with paranoid delusions of the various buildings taunting him over his failures. Unlike most Cloudcuckoolanders, he doesn't suddenly become sane... he just stops being the "fun" kind of insane.
  • Fantastic Four:
    • In the arc "True Story", when Reed and Sue Richards' daughter Valeria (who loves bedtime stories) loudly declares that she doesn't want a story before bed, Sue is convinced that this is the work of an enemy. The Fantastic Four soon discover that recurring Doctor Strange villain Nightmare has been attacking the Lands of Fiction, causing people to lose interest in stories.
    • In the story arc "The Fall and Rise of the Fantastic Four", Sue goes to retrieve Valeria from Doctor Doom after Valeria pulled a Screw This, I'm Outta Here! following learning why her family went on a time-traveling family trip. When Valeria refuses, noting that Doom is starting to actually reform and she wants to finish it, Sue flips out and when Doom steps in, she tears him a new one. Doom ends up sensing the entity Malice within Sue, but she ignores him. It's when Valeria throws herself between the two and outright states that she's scared of Sue that Sue ends up backing down.
  • In the first issue of Loki: Agent of Asgard cases of Thor's increasingly rude nd sexist behavior from his own book prompt the All-Mother to sent Loki to investigate. Turns out Thor has been infected and slowly corrupted by an evil entity, namely another, older, Loki
  • In issue 25 of Pocket God, the ditzy Nooby is at the mercy of his Evil Twin, Newbie. When things seem dire, Nooby drops his usual third person speak and talks in articulate sentences to level with his more intelligent twin. The sudden change shocks everyone and it really gets under Newbie's skin.
    Nooby: Nooby knows how it feels to not be accepted. Noob... I know what it feels like to be the odd pygmy out.
    Ooga: He's making sense?!?!
  • In the third issue of IDW's Ghostbusters: Mass Hysteria (issue 15 of the 2013/2014 series), Peter takes a phone call for help while discussing the current problem with Walter Peck and immediately leaves via motorcycle without a word, much to Peck's surprise. Considering the caller was Dana Barrett, it's understandable.
    Walter Peck: Ms. Melnitz, after taking that phone call, Peter Venkman ran out of here without a single smart-assed remark. That kind of character inconsistency is, in my experience, the reddest of red flags.
  • During Kraven's Last Hunt, Spider-Man realizes something is decisively wrong when Kraven comes at him with a rifle after capturing him with a net.
  • Most times, X-23 is The Stoic. Even while slaughtering mooks by the dozens she does it with complete, emotionless, and automatic detachment. If she's ever visibly angry when she comes after you, however, you better run. Fast.
    • It's immediately clear just how badly Murderworld and subsequent torture by Purifiers affected her when Laura throws herself in Teen!Cyclops's arms despite how she Hates Being Touched when Stryker shows her footage of herself in a trigger scent-fueled rage.
  • In New Avengers, Doctor Doom isn't his usual prideful hammy self when he embarks on his attempt to foil the Beyonders' attempts to wipe out the multiverse. He's serious, surprisingly humble, and all too aware of the stakes.
  • Paperinik, both the classic and the Paperinik New Adventures versions, is usually wisecracking or, when pissed, shouting. If he's neither, there's two chances, and you're getting hurt anyway:
    • If he looks bored, it means he's just too annoyed at you to joke and is now going to beat the crap out of you. A good example is in the story where professor Brain wouldn't reveal where the commands for his time-manipulation device were hidden or what the unlocking code was, Paperinik and his future counterpart looked bored, and the next panel a very beaten up Brain was spilling the beans.
    • If he's giving you a psychotic smirk, run: he's going to make you suffer if not outright kill you, you and whoever is stupid enough to try and defend you. This is shown best in "Paperinik and the Duel of Mages", where he's smiling almost the whole time as he hunts down every single charlatan and fake wizard in Duckburg to unmask them in the most public and humiliating way, fully knowing he's ruining their lives and slowly getting the people of Duckburg to form a lynching mob against them-and he's still smiling as the last fake wizards still in town are being chased by said mob.
      • Another alternative is that he's bluffing to get something from you, as he did once in the Paperinik New Adventures reboot-or maybe not. What is known is that he was smiling as he smashed aside Vendor's Mooks, announced he was about to kill him, aimed a laser cannon at his head and pulled the trigger, with only Lyla pushing the cannon aside and saying there was a way to fix what Vendor had done and they needed him for it apparently saving the Mad Scientist-who promptly followed suit out of fear of the superhero "changing his mind" again.
  • In White Sand, when a known Determinator Kenton gives up, you know the situation's serious.
  • Archie Meets the Punisher ends with The Punisher sparing the villain in an uncharacteristic display of mercy. He reasons that killing him would utterly destroy Riverdale's innocence, and he isn't willing to go that far.
  • Invoked and weaponized in The Transformers: Dark Cybertron — it takes an incredibly irrational and out of character act to breaks Shockwave's logic circuits and snap him back to his pre-empurata self and that's Megatron denouncing the Decepticon cause and joining the Autobots
  • X23, in her debut appearance, is not particularly happy about working in prostitution or the abuse girls are put through yet does nothing about it, even when a regular client of hers pulls a knife. He has a guilt ridden breakdown and X seemingly wants to help but doesn't know how, then he kills himself to her horror.


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