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Tearjerker / Dumbing of Age

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Well, that wasn't a very nice thing to say, was it?

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  • Most of the Parent's Day story arc, due to how many of the characters come from some major Jerkass parents.
  • Astonishingly, Becky's dad manages to pick up some Jerk Ass Woobie points when Becky tries to talk him down from threating her with a gun to bring her home.
    Becky (in tears): Do you know what this means? It means by the end of the day, state troopers are gonna blow open the back of yer head. Ka-spew! That's the only way this ends. You know that, right?
    Ross (also in tears): Satan took your mother from me, and I won't let him take my daughter next. If I have to die for you, Becky, I will die for you.
  • A commenter on the site gives a pretty clear reason why "To Those Who'd Ground Me" is a pretty crushing story arc;
    Commenter: This has been a genuinely painful arc. We have seen beloved characters hurt and humiliated and brought down to their lowest point. We have seen Dina lay bleeding in the woods, Joyce frozen in fear, her best friend taken from her and Becky brought by gunpoint to the horrible fate she tried to escape. We have seen a very realistic portrayal of power abuse and something that’s a real fear for too many youths.
  • Carla's expression after Mary deliberately misgenders her is heartbreaking enough, but after Ruth fails to stick up for her because of Mary threatening to out her and Billie's relationship...
    Carla: You do whatever you want. I'm used to being everyone's acceptable loss.
  • Ruth in the hospital. Things seem to be going well(ish). Then Ruth and Billie hug, and...
    Ruth: [inaudible]
    Billie: What?
    Ruth: I don't want to die I don't want to die I don't want to die. (now beginning to cry) I don't want to die, don't let me die, please don't let me die.
  • Joyce lays some harsh realities on Loveable Sex Maniac Joe.
    Joyce: Because I remember your list, and I understand that the game wasn't just limited t-to him. That anybody could be thinking of me as an object. E-even my friends. And that it's seen as a harmless joke. And I'm reminded that I— I am never safe. Everything you do matters, Joe. More than you know.
  • The reason Faz snuck away to visit Amber at her school is because she's the nicest person to him. I mean, we all probably kind of suspect as much (what with having Blaine as a stepfather), but if Amber, who dragged him by the hoodie all day, is the nice one, what does that say about Faz's home life or social life? And this makes Amber feel more guilty about how she treats him because she thinks there's a not-zero percent chance they're half siblings.
    • Know what's worse? That may be a lie. Faz had been sent by Blaine to get dirt on Amber so he can contest paying for her tuition. The question is whether he's a willing collaborator or not.
  • Dorothy and Walky have broken up. They tried to be 'on pause' until Dorothy's grades improved but after a relapse, they decide they can't be together because Dorothy just doesn't have enough time or energy to juggle schoolwork, extracurricular activities, a social life, and Walky. And Walky, for his part, no longer feels he has any reason to improve himself and, despite agreeing to the breakup, feels like he left the best version of himself at the spot they broke up. Even when they were 'on pause' Walky quickly slipped back into his old habits of being a slob, eating junk food, and ignoring the fact that he's failing math.
    • And frankly, watching the immediate aftermath of that breakup-getting drunk with Jason (who's facing the prospect of getting fired for sleeping with Sal) and causing mayhem at Galasso's-makes it seem that Walky's on the verge of a mental breakdown.
    • Walky later gets this mild, but seriously harsh, dig in at Dorothy when she tries to invoke You Are Better Than You Think You Are to stop his teasing Joyce.
      Walky: Or what? You'll stop dating me?

  • The story of how Amber broke.
  • Danny learns that Amber could've been killed when she rescued Becky, and takes Sal's advice to try and get her to give up the act out of fear for her safety. It does not go well, as Amber cuts all ties with him on the spot. What makes it worse that Danny messing things up used to be played for laughs.
    Amber: Yes, well, Amber needs Amazi-Girl a hell of alot more than she needs you.
    Danny: Amber— Please, just listen to me for a min—
    Amber: And make no mistake, she did needs you. She really did. She just thought she could trust you to support her more. Or to maybe not buckle under a light breeze.
    Danny: *puts his hand on her shoulder* I'm not buckling, I'm—
    Amber: No, don't touch me. Not ever again.
    Danny: This is the opposite of buckling! I love buckling! Look at how unhappy I am!

  • Becky's Anguished Declaration of Love to Joyce, only for Joyce to reluctantly rebuff her.
    Alt Text: oh god oh god i'm so sorry becky i'll make joyce gay if it makes you stop crying oh god please stop don't be sad
  • Joyce's acceptance and love for Becky is starting to become this, as it becomes obvious it is making it harder for Becky to accept Joyce's rejection. It gets to the point that Becky demands Joyce to be mad at her, after she fired Ethan as Joyce's boyfriend, but Joyce had already broken up with Ethan, so Joyce just tells her that she helped.
  • While Becky is inside of her own home, reminiscing her life with her parents, we find out that her mother committed suicide, and it is soul-crushing.
  • "My word is 'Painful'!"


  • Joyce, who nearly got raped. While she tries to act cheerful, deep down she is still very affected by this event, having nightmares about it and still very scared of meeting the guy again. It also turns out the reason Joyce is rarely alone is because she's too scared to be by herself and follows Walky or Ethan around because she thinks it's safer.
  • This strip from book one;
    Joyce: Sarah, wait. I think we should give everyone a second chance before we write them off. I admit sometimes I'm not good at it, but I feel I at least need to try. I want to find the good in people.
    Sarah: You're a good kid, Joyce. I'll be sad when the world breaks you.
  • Joyce is really repressed.
  • In book Six, a very upset and jaded Joyce comes to the conclusion that "everything is really broken" (not just herself, but the whole world). Sarah has no choice but to let out an uncomfortable "Yup".
  • After being subjected to Roz's incredibly vitriolic rant about her previous behavior, Joyce leaves Leslie's class in tears. That's bad enough, but then we see Joyce outside by herself for the first time since the party. And then it just gets worse as Joyce starts to see Ryan in place of all the people outside...
  • The look on Joyce's face and her body language in this strip. Poor girl looks like she's edging nearer and nearer to a full blown Heroic BSoD. Her mother pushes her closer and closer in this strip. Bonus points for her telling Joyce the exact same line Ross told Becky when he was pointing a gun at her, no less. What is worse is that David Willis is directly channeling his own experiences with his mother.
  • Joyce is not in a good place now.
  • Joyce is having a crisis of faith. It ends with this Wham Line.
    Joyce: You're not really there. You weren't ever really there. Ultimately I'm just talking to myself, like in a dream. (Wakes up with a serious case of existential dread)
  • Part Joyce, part meta: Joyce sings this hymn while skipping church for the first time, in which one can sense her loss of faith...the day after Willis buried his own mother, whom he was estranged from after he abandoned his fundamentalist upbringing.
    "Three months ago, I wrote about Joyce grappling with God, but unwittingly wrote my mom’s eulogy."

  • Sal is visibly having a breakdown of her own during the convenience store holdup; Word of God is that she had no intention of getting away with it and wanted to get caught. That's how thoroughly starved for attention she was.
  • When discussing Dexter and Monkey Master with Dorothy, Walky mentions he and Sal used to watch it together. Compare the thought of Sal sitting down to watch a cartoon with her brother to the present day, where it's rare for her to be around Walky for more than a few minutes at best.
  • When Sal tries to talk casually with Danny (when she barely talks casually at all), Danny tells her to go away, since Amber had just cut all ties with him for talking with Sal moments before. Sal looks genuinely hurt in panel 6. It doesn't help that she had admitted to herself that she's afraid of opening up to people just minutes ago.
    • And in the strip where she talks to herself, the first two panels are heartbreaking as well. Walky tells her in the first panel to not blame him for not being able to talk to family, since he had just given her a chance to. Sal in the second panel is obviously saddened. She knows she's messed up somehow, but her rough childhood and the mannerisms she got from that just won't let her do anything about it.



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