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  • Erfworld: Jack Snipe never, ever stops cracking jokes and speaking in riddles, even to Wanda. Except when she's just barely recovering consciousness after killing her own mount, plummeting hundreds of feet to the ground and just barely getting healed back from the brink of death. Once Wanda's back on her feet, though, Jack picks it right back up again.
  • Sinfest: Sweet, caring, smart, shy little boy. Fantastic Racism against Fuchsia.
    Criminy: Enough.
  • Skin Horse: Tip wears men's clothing.
  • Homestuck
    • Dave Strider is normally an unflappable badass, so when he stares at his blood-stained hands for ten minutes after throwing the corpse of an Alternate Timeline version of himself out of a window, the audience knows that the Cerebus Syndrome has kicked into high gear.
    • The trolls all have a characteristic quirk or two when it comes to communicating through their messaging system. When Gamzee's changed from "hOnK" to "honk HONK", signifying that he's now sober and completely Ax-Crazy, Karkat freaked out. (Along with the rest of the readers.)
      CG: OH MY GOD
      CG: NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
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    • Feferi and Eridan typically have very distinctive typing styles, but drop their quirks briefly to have a serious conversation about Feferi being Eridan's Morality Chain.
    • Vriska blushes and covers her mouth in embarrassment the one time she accidentally types nine exclamation marks in a row, instead of her trademark eight.
    • As of Act 6, you know something's up when Terezi, who is normally the resident Handicapped Badass and The Chessmaster who is obsessed with smelling and tasting everything as replacement for her missing eyesight, suddenly starts hiding her eyes behind her dragon hood and acts more withdrawn. It would seem that meeting the pre-scratch version of her ancestor made her feel more self-conscious, and some of her behavior could also be caused what is revealed sometime later that she and Gamzee are filling a black quadrant together, and at some point she had Aranea fix her eyes.
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    • Later in Act 6, when Gamzee is staring with a blank expression at something, you know it's weird.
    • Dave again . . .
      DAVE: jade this is STUPID
      DAVE: my quest is a STUPID PIECE OF GARBAGE QUEST for LAME SHITTY LOSER FUCKHEADS WHO SUCK BALLS WHILE CRAPPING THEIR PANTS
      JADE: omg
      JADE: youve really spent way too much time alone with karkat havent you
      DAVE: ...
      DAVE: i need help :(
  • This Is the Worst Idea You've Ever Had!
    "Oh my God! She's letting him drive her car!"
  • Sluggy Freelance
    • When Torg starts to actually think (or simply stops acting silly), you know business has just got serious. Often coupled with Let's Get Dangerous!.
    • In "Oceans Unmoving", Honest Stu always tells the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth — no matter how awkward or dangerous the occasion or rhetorical the question. The one time he actually lies, and just for the fun of it too, is when he is dying, very nearly with his last words.
  • The Order of the Stick:
  • 8-Bit Theater: Black Mage takes a serious hit during the fight with Lich. When the thickheaded and childlike Fighter realizes he's not getting up, he starts becoming visibly scared and a whole lot less cheerful, begging the corpse to yell at him for being stupid. When Black Mage doesn't get up, he then proceeds attack Lich like it's the only thing in the world that matters. It's the only time in the entire comic that Fighter doesn't even think about heroics or niceties or even being polite, continuing to hit Lich until he's satisfied. Later, when Black Mage gains extreme evil power, Red Mage and Thief don't even consider fleeing, facing him down like actual heroes.
  • From Head Trip, Mal is an unapologetic Chaotic Neutral Comedic Sociopath. But when confronted with Twilight, she breaks down crying and begs a priest to come over and exorcise the book.
  • In an arc of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, Mitzi McNinja gets cursed to slowly disintegrate into ash, like a mummy. After she gets far enough along, she has a talk with her son, Sean, and apologizes for the way she raised him. Leading to this exchange.
    Dan McNinja: (returning with a method to cure his wife) How is she?
    Sean: Well... She gave me the "I'm sorry I was a horrible mother" speech.
    Dan McNinja: DRIVE FASTER.
  • A subtle but effective one from Girl Genius; Airman Higgs is normally composed and nonchalant about everything, with an almost bored facial expression. Except when Zola runs Zeetha through with a sword. The next strip features a close up of his face, eyes open, and delivering a One-Liner with the slightest hint of the Jäger accent (something he'd never shown before). This comes moments before he punches someone across the room so fast that sequential art cannot capture it. The effect, whilst subtle, is rather frightening.
    Dupree: Are... Are you okay?
    Gil: No! Those bookbinders think they can come in here and just abduct people? After all the trouble I've gone to? I've obviously done too much talking and not enough damage! We're getting him back!
    Dupree: This is weird- You're still talking and I'm actually still listening.
  • In Freefall, Max Post calls Raibert, and is polite. Raibert asks what's wrong, as usually Max calls Raibert to rant at him.
    • Much later, during Florence's recovery from the secret base, she knows Sam was really worried about her when she finds out he was in the company of another person for more than twenty seconds and didn't take their wallet.
  • In Questionable Content, the normally-calm-and-passive Marten is furious after Dora flips out on him and Faye for thinking they were fooling aroundnote , which startles Faye.
  • Precocious:
  • Schlock Mercenary:
    • Captain Tagon is being briefed on an A.I. that was found in the massive space station where their mission is taking place. After Tagon is told the AI's name is translated to "Broken Wind", he asks if Ennesby made a "fart joke" before diving into the computer to fight the AI. When told he did not, Captain Tagon says, "We ARE in trouble".
    • Tagon himself falls under this every time he would reject the chance for (more) money. One time, it was simply his hatred for a certain Fat Bastard overpowering his greed (slashing the local reverend's hopes for any salvation of Tagon's soul when he learned of that), and the second time, his employer was getting incredibly annoying, by mercenary standards at least, with his restrictions imposed on the crew. Though he quickly snapped out of it, turning it into an extra profit opportunity (in the form of purchasing infinite Yell at the Captain rights), and lampshading it for good measure ("I don't know what came over me").
  • In Gunnerkrigg Court, Ysengrin is a Yes-Man who is wholly devoted to Coyote. When he learns that Coyote knew all along that the Court tricked Reynardine and imprisoned him and did nothing to help him he immediately calls him out on it, asking him how he could leave Reynardine trapped there. Especially notable since previous interactions between Ysengrin and Reynardine indicated that they were not particularly fond of each other.
  • El Goonish Shive:
  • In Slice of Life, when Pumpkin Cake passes up the chance to make mischief, her parents (and Pinkie Pie) can tell she's really upset.
  • In The Dragon Doctors, Aki is sweet, gentle, and lighthearted almost all the time ... but every once in a while, shows the iron faith and determination that underlies that gentleness.
    Speedball: Aki is full of love. Some of it is TOUGH love.
  • In Plume, usually snarky and emotional Corrick turns into a statue when forced to attack Vesper to protect Dom.
  • The Bedfellows: The one time Fatigue actually stands up for himself is in the strip "Board Meeting," when he calls out his bosses for doing nothing but patting themselves on the back (and other places) for their good work rather than make it even better.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent:
    • A mild form happens in Chapter 3. Emil and Lalli sort of bond over their shared hatred of the bed belts in the night train that they are riding. Later in the night, Lalli hands Emil his belt and tangles himself in his own right before sudden movement of the train projects anyone not strapped to their bed (read: Emil) out of it.
    • Sigrun may know when to back down from a fight, but she's also walked into troll nests and killed grosslings, considers a suicide mission to be a relaxing vacation, and through it all has been absolutely fearless. So the first time she's shown to be downright terrified, it's clear that the crew is in serious trouble.
    • Turned Up to Eleven the first time we see Lalli look completely terrified. Remember, this is the guy who spends his nights scouting the troll-infested Silent World at night when the monsters are most active without batting an eyelash regressing to a state of panicked flailing.
  • Early in Goblins, Minmax teases Forgath for saying that he loves Minmax like a brother and calls Forgath gay several times. When he realizes Forgath is about to die he holds Forgath close and calls him "Brother."
  • In The Petri Dish, Bob can tell that "Thaddeus" is really a robot when he does an experiment perfectly.
  • When Rose in Ask White Pearl and Steven (almost!) anything sees White Pearl, she drops all pretense of civility and fully intends on killing (or at least poofing and bubbling) Steven under the pretense that he is White Diamond. Justified, considering she had known both White Diamond and White Pearl personally and would know not to hesitate.
    • White Diamond has never apologized for anything, so when Steven apologizes to Rose for whatever made her hate him so much (having no memory of White Diamond's actions), this finally makes Rose doubt her certainty that Steven is just White pulling some cruel joke on her.
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