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Poor Communication Kills / Webcomics

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  • In Boyfriend of the Dead, the Twins are nearly killed by Alex before N can explain that they are just harmlessly reenacting The Shining and not actually after anyone's flesh.
  • In Koan of the Day, the guru asks the tortoise for money and a misunderstanding occurs.
  • Order of the Stick:
    • In this strip, Thog is questioned by a prison guard, and gives an honest and accurate account that confirms Elan's attempt to explain that he was framed by his Evil Twin brother Nale. However, Thog's statement is chock-full of homophones (and far more elaborate than his usual speech), rendering it comprehensible (with a bit of effort) to the reader but total gibberish to the guard.
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    • In a particularly tragic example of this, Varsuuvius in the Battle of Azure City is inadvertently discovered by fleeing soldiers who stumble upon hir while invisible. They ask V to save them with V's magic, but since V fled the battle because V was out of spells, the soldiers stand around allowing the hobgoblins to catch up and slaughter them. V might have convinced them to continue running if V said "I am out of spells you fools! Flee for your lives!", though doing so might have made the hobgoblins aware of V as well. V spends the next few months in a sleep-deprived equivalent state so as not to relive that nightmare.
    • It gets worse: when Vaarsuvius tells V's mate Inkyrius that V made a Deal with the Devil to save V's mate and their children, and Inkyrius gets angry. V insists that Inkyrius doesn't know the whole story. Inkyrius admits this, but calls V on keeping the power V needed to save their family, and asks V to make a choice between V's power and their family. V could have tried to explain more, if only to justify why V needs (or wants) to hold on to the power a little longer, but instead V just says that V needs to make everything right again. An ultimatum had been issued and time was slipping away, but for someone who wants to keep both, V certainly isn't acting in a manner that will let V do so. Though V's mental state may be justified (for one thing, the sleep deprivation from the last entry is at it's worst here).
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    • Roy's eagerness to get resurrected and his father being a Jerkass cause him to miss a crucial piece of information — namely, the details of V's brief defection to Evil. Since V is too ashamed to tell V's friends the details either, the combination of failed and missed communication places V in exactly the position desired by the IFCC in the first place: to establish control of Girard's Gate for themselves.
    • Lord Shojo's death is a literal example of this trope. While in some ways, his Obfuscating Insanity and scheming served him well during his life, it comes back to bite him in the ass when the insanely overzealous Miko Miyazaki misinterprets his behavior as that of a traitor and kills him. This leads to Miko's fall from paladinhood, the fall of Azure City to Redcloak's hobgoblin army, the deaths of nearly all of the paladins of the Sapphire Guard at Xykon's hand, and the destruction of the Gate that they were guarding.
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    • In the prequel story "Uncivil Servant" Belkar, after learning that he can make money by killing things that are causing problems for a town, decides to kill off the criminal gangs in that town, only to discover after he had killed them that they were not actually criminals gangs at all, but were actually the town's police and fire departments, who were trying to recruit him for their volleyball teams and he had seen them at a Not What It Looks Like moment.
  • Girl Genius: Much bloodshed could be avoided if certain main characters (most notably Agatha Heterodyne and Baron Klaus Wulfenbach and his son Gilgamesh) simply sat down and talked to each other. Instead, distrust and misunderstandings lead to characters fighting each other and working at cross-purposes when they could be allies, while the real enemy gets away. On top of that, every last one of them is either a Mad Scientist or a creation thereof, both classifications of individual not normally known for their ability to think on a level we usually call "normal", let alone communicate on it.
    • Poor communication started an escalation of distrust between Barry and Klaus, which is the cause of much of the later grief. Barry and "the Clays" hid Agatha from Klaus for eighteen years because they believe he is a servant of the Other. Upon discovering Agatha's identity, Klaus is very suspicious because she was hidden from him for eighteen years, so she orders her locked up and sedated. Punch and Judy take this as further proof of his ill-intentions and fight back.
    • The entire Sturmhalten story arc, fitting for the introduction to the backstabbing Sturmvarous family. Even years later, fans have some difficulty figuring out exactly what happened because Tarvek spent the entire arc lying to basically everyone. Tarvek deliberately sabotaged Agatha's holographic message to the Baron, which she intended to use to explain how her mother was the Other and had possessed her. Instead, the edited message made it sounds like she was accusing the Baron of being the Other. And Dimo apparently forgot his previous conviction that the Baron should be informed ASAP about the Geisterdamen with the Hive Engines leaving Sturmhalten through underground tunnels. Various characters have pieces of the puzzle, but crucial information is not relayed. If only they shared this information, they could easily resolve their problems. At this stage, Baron Wulfenbach would dissect Agatha, seeing as how she's possessed by the Other and all that's holding her back is a single flimsy amulet. As Gilgamesh said, "let's be fair: He does have cause". Furthermore, a lot of grief might have been saved had DuPree actually sent a device team down to analyze Agatha's transmitter in Sturmhalten, instead of just joking about doing it and then bombing the damn thing.
    • Exemplified in this comic, where the wrong impression is given simply because the relaying party has a different perception of the words, and thus gets the meaning wrong. On the other hand, that example is subverted on the very next page, when Agatha makes it clear that she doesn't trust the Castle's interpretation of the scene.
    • What probably makes the problem worse is that the Big Bad is very good at sowing deception and hostility within groups. She is the most obvious root of mistrust between Barry and Klaus, while the problems caused in later chapters were most definitely due to the Big Bad's moles and hidden supporters along with seceretly mind controlling first Agatha and then the Baron.
    • However, they eventually could compare notes with Gil, making him the guy who knows the most about what's going on. Gil was the only party Klaus and Agatha both have reason to trust and who would be in a position to MAKE them both listen. Except that Klaus ended up either convinced or compelled to pretend that Gil is wasped.
    • This almost causes major problems in a side story taking place after the main story is completed. Hadrian Greenclaw returns home to Mechanicsburg to discover that the heads of the major crime families are planning to kill Agatha. They're worried that as a "hero," she won't allow their criminal enterprises to continue. Hadrian is horrified and launches a counter-conspiracy to kill them all and put his own lieutenants in their place, making him the king of the Mechanicsburg underworld. So far so good. The problem is that he assumes that Van, the seneschal, was one of the co-conspirators, and tried to kill him too. Why did he think that? Because Van always knows everything, which means the conspiracy could only have gone forward with his approval. Ivo notes that Van has been playing the "I am an omniscient genius" card a little too much.
      Van: Hadrian... I... uh... I didn't know any of this.
      Hadrian: What!?
      Van: It's a big town... I can't know everything...
      Hadrian: You? Miss something like this? You? The man who used to brag: "Muahaha! Nothing shall happen in this town without my agents knowing about it!"
      Van: That was my Career Day essay! In fifth grade!
      Ivo: Hyu vos vun creepy kid.
  • This strip of The Perry Bible Fellowship.
  • In Panthera, Onca, who is inexperienced with her transformation, and consequently has trouble speaking in it, barely manages to convey the message that they've been tricked and are fighting the good guys instead of the bad guys to Tigris. However, in an almost comedic case of You Have to Believe Me!, she fails to provide any of the evidence that led her to this conclusion, resulting in Tigris being disgusted that the villains managed to trick Onca into switching sides in a few hours. It doesn't help that Tigris views Onca as dangerously incompetent and naive.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • This is averted by Justin when confronted with an angry, incomprehensible fire monster; his first response is to try and work out a way to communicate, rather than go straight to beating the tar out of it. It attacks anyway, but it's the thought that counts.
    • When Magus regains physical form, he expresses his belief that an unconscious Ellen would rather be male, and that he wants to help with that. He says "We're running out of time. I'd rather not do it this way..." and aims a spell at her, prompting Elliot to tackle him and begin fighting. It turns out that Magus meant that he needed to forcibly wake up Ellen (which could cause headaches and nausea, hence why he'd rather not) in order to talk to her and confirm that she wants to be male before doing anything else. When Elliot points out that it sounded a lot like Magus intended to transform her then and there without her permission, he admits that yeah, it was understandable to take his words that way.
  • In Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures, Aaryana nearly kills Dan because an Oracle's vaguely worded answer strongly implied that Dan killed her beloved mentor Destania aka Dan's mother. The misunderstanding is immediately cleared up by Dan's sister before any murder happens. Later in one strip the characters wonder why Oracles are always so vague; the last panel reveals that the cryptic bullcrap act is mandated by the Oracles' Union.
  • Inverted in Freefall: both Raibert and Florence had reasons not to read each other's messages. As a result, despite his ordering that an upgrade not go out, she went and sabotaged it -- fortunately, because his order was being ignored. As a consequence, about 450 millions robots did NOT have their minds and personalities erased.
  • This trope is what made Split Screen go: Jan went for a decade without speaking to her childhood best friend/love interest, rather than confess her feelings or confront Jeremy about his. When she does finally confess to him, she says her feelings are past tense. Jeremy, on the other hand, dodges and avoids the subject, past and present, rather than tell her how he felt, resulting in mixed messages that only fueled Jan's frustration.
  • Awkward Zombie: Apparently this pretty much sums up the author's feelings about the game Bravely Default.
  • Welcome To Pixelton: A giant eats the protagonists, and they kill him by pressing the self-destruct button in his stomach. Unfortunately, that must have been a feature, because it turns out the giant is from a race of transporters who carry passengers in their stomachs, and he was a big fan of the protagonists who wanted them to meet his family. Oops.
  • In Galebound Din refuses to explain the nature of Conan's Compelling Voice power, which results in Pascal dying.
  • Homestuck: For most of the story, most of the characters aren't actually able to talk to each other and communicate through electronic means. The trolls and humans have completely different cultures. They are all pre-teens, an age group not known for its good judgement (though most of them are pretty bright for their age). And whenever someone does try to ask another person who knows more about the whole situation for advice, that person is usually wrong and/or trying to manipulate them. The end result is a bunch of ill-informed kids messing around with reality itself.
  • In Godslave, both Blacksmiths would probably fare much better against Edith if they only bothered to explain her just why keeping Anpu around isn't good for her. As it is, she's convinced they're morally bankrupt bad guys, and them telling her nothing beyond "he's only trouble" (something she knows already) doesn't help.
  • Broken Telephone may as well be titled "Poor Communication Kills: The Webcomic."
  • Sonic The GUN Project: If Shadow had been upfront with Sonic, Knuckles and Sally in the first encounter in the first issue, they could've likely stopped Commander Tower sooner. By the time he did, the three had unwittingly clued in Tower that Shadow was onto him and forced him to get involved.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: In Chapter 13, poor phrasing on both sides during a tense combat situation kept both Sigrun and Mikkel from realizing that there still was a troll under the tank, giving the thing ample time to break through the vehicle's floor before Lalli noticed its presence, and time to bite Tuuri before Lalli could take care of it.
  • Schlock Mercenary: Lieutenant Ebbirnoth, the company's de facto Xenobiologist, spends a large chunk of Book 16 unable to speak intelligibly due to a botched resurrection. Otherwise he could have warned the others about the Essperin ability to merge with technology.


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