- This strip from the sketchbook really shows how complex the relationship between an author and his characters can be.
- Lampshaded in the comic title here, but is an example nonetheless.
- Ellen became a Death Seeker after she was convinced she had only a month to live, then she throws away that precious month to fight a monster attacking innocents. She wanted to be a Heroic Sacrifice.
- "You look in the mirror, but someone else looks back. You remember a life you never had, one that cannot be yours. You are the piece that does not fit; you don't belong in this game. The board has been knocked over, you shall be swept away..."
- Ellen's situation here
- In a Sympathy for the Devil way, Damien. He was made by extremists who wanted him to usher Armageddon, he destroys everything he touches, and he is desperate to find other hybrids. He isn't looking for an army, he's looking for a family. He was raised with fear and intimidation used to keep him in line and he used those tactics because he thought that's how authority figures are supposed to act. He's Grace's Spear Counterpart. She had kindness. He had hate. They were led down different paths.
- Here, we see a much more human side of the previously monstrous Vlad(ia). It is small, but poignant.
- Justin's dream here.Elliot: I could never love you... as you are...Justin: This...This isn't right... this isn't who I am...!Elliot: This is the only way we can be together...
- The Demonic Duck pulls a quick prank on Female!Justin in an attempt to cheer her up. Suffice to say, Justin is not amused.
Shadows After Dark
- This strip. What's worse is that is how Tedd acted in the main universe too, until he was given the TF Gun. Congratulations, Shive, you've just made a seriously depressed five-year-old.
- After Grace's birthday, we get to see Susan in an actual cheerful mood as she admires her new hair color. Which is then promptly ruined when said look brings up some very painful memories. Within seconds she's back to the Broken Bird we're all familiar with.
- This may also count.
- Best. Cookies. Ever.
- After Tedd realises Grace is in love with him, he starts to imagine Grace rejecting more desirable men. What does one of these men say?Extra: Our mothers love us!
- Grace, a Genki Girl incarnate, starts to learn about one of the bloodiest, horrifying conflicts in global history - Break the Cutie ensues. A few strips later showed that it carries a bit of a Reality Subtext for her.Grace: Why should we cry when reading about the death and torture of millions of people when it happened so long ago? And it's not like any of them were preoccupied with thoughts comparing Hitler and Damien and realizing that millions of people are willing to follow their ideals and that giving him a chance to surrender was probably stupid and wrong and—
- This strip, full stop. Nanase trying desperately to save her best friend and lover's life with the only spell that can possibly do anything to help, essentially eating away at her own life force every time she casts it, and having it fail time and again is nothing short of heartbreaking.
- And let's not forget that she feels EVERYTHING the doll does. So, everytime the doll is killed, she feels it. And her doll is being cut in half with a battle axe. Most people wouldn't be able to withstand the pain of that once. She did it twelve times in a row, in quick succession. To the point where she collapses, but keeps going in the hopes of reinforcements that may or may not come. She fully expected to die in the attempt to save Ellen. She kept going anyway."God... help me..."
- In fact, the only reason she stops? She gains a spell that allows her to take the form of a Guardian Angel. And remember, spellcasters in the series get spells that relate to who they are. Taken into account her actions, it's no surprise.
- And let's not forget that she feels EVERYTHING the doll does. So, everytime the doll is killed, she feels it. And her doll is being cut in half with a battle axe. Most people wouldn't be able to withstand the pain of that once. She did it twelve times in a row, in quick succession. To the point where she collapses, but keeps going in the hopes of reinforcements that may or may not come. She fully expected to die in the attempt to save Ellen. She kept going anyway.
Bringing Silly Back
- And this. You can see the exact moment where Susan goes from being a literal Wide-Eyed Idealist into her current personality.Dan Shive (in commentary): I have frequently seen Susan described as having a "bored" look on her face. For a long time now, I have seen it as something else.
- And this could count as well.Grace: Summoning is his innate talent?
Noah: Innate talents are rare. It is more likely something he has yearned for. If I had to guess... he is lonely.
- The resolution of Justin and Melissa. Knowing what they had beforehand, it just makes things worse.
- When Elliot calls Sarah to try and arrange a neutral location with some privacy, she pretty quickly realizes that he's probably planning to break up with her. Even though she had already decided to break up with him, she still takes it pretty hard.Why does he want to break up with me? What did I do wrong? Was I a bad girlfriend? Was I too pushy? Am I not pretty enough? Is that why he hardly ever took the initiative?
He told me I was beautiful. Was that a lie?
- A more subtle one with Susan trying to rationalize her attraction towards Elliot. Not only is she frustrated because she can't understand it, but there's a lot of guilt and self-esteem issues in the subtext. Despite all the Character Development she's had - especially with regards to Elliot - she's still a Broken Bird.
- This right here. Diane realizes for the first time that she has biological family. It puts her previous denials into context and makes you realize that they're not her being dense, but actually her being in denial. Thinking about it, she hasn't had that all her life, and now at long last she does.
- This strip depicts Tedd, who several strips prior was ecstatic about realizing that his gender fluidity was not unique and that there was a name for it, being afraid to tell his father about his magic mark, that grants him a "make your body the gender you feel without time limits" spell obviously related to that realization, for fear of disapproval, given his father's attitude and concern about him spending so much time female.
- Blaike Raven's death, just ten years after the birth of his son. To make matters worse, he failed his mission: the people he tried to protect were killed by a rampaging monster. Even Dan described it as a very difficult comic to make.
- Ted takes it very badly when he finds out that magic itself will sabotage his efforts to give it to everybody. Voltaire actually wishes he tried traumatizing him that way instead of trying to kill Elliot.
- Susan takes the idea of her having a half-sister close to her age very badly, insisting that her parents had good years before the cheating incident and being adamant that her father wasn't cheating before she was born.
- Adrian quietly lays out "The Reason You Suck" Speech to his mother. Especially notable because the next strip is completely silent.Pandora: I helped rid the world of werewolves. I'd say I've done enough for the world at large.Pandora: They killed your father!
- And apparently, the speech worked, causing Pandora to undergo something of a Heel Realization.
- And the hits keep coming, even when her Ocular Gushers are Played for Laughs, but Box!Pandora breaks down into tears when Sarah sincerely asks her what's wrong.Box: My son's going to hate me...!
- The hits keep coming when, after confiding in Sarah that her previous incarnation's lie to her current self, and her failure to figure out the truth earlier, had hurt her son, with her saying "of course they were his", Sarah says that she'd "never do anything to hurt him on purpose, right?", causing her to flash back to her "harsh lessons" moment in obvious regret.
- When Pandora realizes just how Tedd would take the news about magic, she goes to him and finds him still in the middle of his BSOD.Pandora: Magic has not been kind to you.
- Just the idea that Mrs Verres may have abandoned her family over her child seemingly having no magic, when it turns out Tedd was among the rarest and most powerful mages of all.
- On the heels of that we get Pandora's Motive Rant, found here and transcribed on the Heartwarming page, filled to the brim with the Adult Fear about whether or not you've done the "right" things when raising a child. In short, everything she's done has been, on some level or another, for the sake of her son, and she obviously dreads talking to him again because she'd (unwittingly) lied to him about something that she feels he'll find unforgivable.
- Later, after Pandora has a parental moment and she and Tedd bond before she sends her back upstairs to bed, she inwardly fears that she's going to hurt Tedd somehow. The next page elaborates on this by her having an internal debate over her past amoral actions when it came to her son, and the fact that she tried to get Mr. Verres to kill someone so that Adrian could spend more time with Tedd - at the cost of Tedd effectively losing his father.White!Pandora: When I tried to turn Tedd's father into a murderer... I forgot Tedd even existed.
- Pandora destroyed all of the aberrations in the mall in order to protect her son Adrian. However, in doing so she broke Immortal law, and is due to reset with barely a minute to tell her son what he needs to know. Adrian starts to tear up as he realizes what is about to happen.
- The next strip doubles-down on it.Raven: Mom!
Pandora: I love you. Goodbye.
- The next strip doubles-down on it.
- How both Raven and Diane react to learning that they're father and daughter, followed by genuinely good advice from Susan on a decidedly emotional matter.
- Tedd's devastation upon learning Pandora was forcibly reset.
- After Magus kills Sirlek, he reveals that, even knowing that Sirlek was a literal monster, and despite having wanted to kill him since the moment they met, he was still like a friend to Magus because he was the only one he could talk to for months, and notes how messed up that has to be with tears in his eyes.
- Magus comes from a world where gender change magic is common but this is not presented as uniformly a good thing because this means there's massive pressure to be the "correct" gender for whatever your job/passion/etc. is, which is apparently partly based on fact due to how magic flows through the different genders. He's shown to grieve for Terra, his version of Tedd who defied norms to be a female battle mage and believes that the entire cast has been abusing Ellen, his counterpart, by "forcing" her to stay a woman because there can't be two Elliots. The saddest thing is that his logic on the matter is wrong by Word of God but it makes perfect sense even by the standards of the world Ellen lives in.
- Ashley just wanted to watch a movie with her boyfriend...
The Legend of Diane
- Diane hearing all the rumors about her.
- In the past, Lucy had to deal with boys that bullied her because of her height, then hit on her because of her new "assets". If Diane hadn't been there to reassure her...
- Lucy has feelings for Diane, but Diane is completely oblivious.
- One girl was lying to her friend about still being a virgin because she was afraid of how she'd react.
- Rhoda letting Diane and Lucy have it for keeping the fact that they knew she was seeing Catalina a secret, and causing her to get worried and anxious over nothing. Luckily it's resolved fairly easily when she basically bullies the two girls into a double date with her and Catalina.
- Diane wondering if the reason why her biological mother never contacted Raven about her was that she couldn't find him due to his disguise. Then she remembers that Raven just lost his mother, aka her grandmother...
- Diane goes to apologize to Justin for her earlier insults to him... and is mortified when she accidentally gets his name wrong. Luckily Justin is understanding.
The Secret of Sam
- Grace is suffering from a big case of Keeping Secrets Sucks regarding Sam.
- Sarah and Tedd both being reminded of Pandora during the card tournament and needing to be comforted by Grace.
- Ellen is revealed to be suffering some guilt over what happened at the mall, despite there being nothing that she could have done.
- Grace finally letting her feelings about Pandora's reset hit her after learning that she gave Sam his mark.
- Sam implies that, when he came out, having, due to poor information, assumed that he was just a lesbian before later realizing that he was trans, it was a trying experience and that not everyone in his life accepted him. Part of why he's trying to put off coming out again is a desire to avoid going the same thing, though avoiding being the first person whose Coming-Out Story involves magic is also a part of it.
- Grace really feels that Sam would benefit from telling Sarah the truth and/or talking to Tedd, but she can't give Sam the full story because she feels like it would be betraying his trust.
- Grace turns out to have been subconsciously repressing a desire to be able to take on her hybrid form in public.
- Ashley finding out firsthand how Keeping Secrets Sucks.Liz: Ever since your second date, you've been acting a whole lot like you did when you started to realize Tom was a jerk.Ashley: It's nothing to do with Elliot, ok?Liz: Then what is going on with you? You can tell me.(Beat)Ashley: Let's just get lunch, ok?
- "We don't have to tell anyone we wish he was our father".
- Ashley gets some more angst, this time over her fantasies, now that she has Kevin and could potentially actually do the things she dreams up.