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Webcomic / 8-Bit Theater

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Clockwise from the top: Black Mage, Red Mage, Thief, Fighter

"That is not how we do things around here, buddy. First we have to argue incessantly over semantics. Then one of us has to hurt one or all of us."

8-Bit Theater is a Spite... er, Sprite Comic by Brian Clevinger that ran from 2001 to 2010. Its plot, an Affectionate Parody of the first Final Fantasy, follows the four Light Warriors (who really aren't the best for the job): Fighter McWarrior, an astoundingly stupid sword-obsessed warrior; Black Mage Evilwizardington, an Ax-Crazy homicidal sociopath who is only held back by the Rule of Funny and a tendency to get hurt; Thief, a fugitive prince of elf clan Khee'bler armed with extreme greed and an expertise in manipulative contracts; and Red Mage Statscowski, a so-called strategist who considers life to be a tabletop game, is obsessed with his stats, and was tricked into liking cross dressing.

The strip's humor comes mostly from the violent nature of its protagonists, the absurd situations they find themselves in, and a little screwing around with videogame tropes (mainly RPG tropes, but others do come into play). It is one of the original sprite comics, having started the year after Bob and George and eventually outstripping it in terms of popularity (at least partly because the latter comic ended in 2007). It also defined the dysfunctional party dynamic that would go on to fill every single other fantasy webcomic that came after it.

At various points over the years, the comic also featured Character Blogs/Fourth Wall Mail Slots for Red Mage and Evil Princess Sara.

After nine years, two fake endings, well over a thousand strips, and (at least) two of the longest-ranged Call Backs in the history of the webcomic medium, 8-Bit Theater finally ended. A few months after the last proper comic's publication, Clevinger published a long epilogue to wrap things up; it was written by Clevinger and drawn by Matt Speroni (How I Killed Your Master).

In 2021, as a 20th anniversary celebration, a crowdfunded annotated script (because, as highlighted by the subtitle "Do Not Sue Edition", printing a comic based on video game sprites is just begging for the attention of "the brilliant and attractive lawyers at Square-Enix"... and also, the original pages are too low-resolution to be worth printing) was announced, to be released on both PDF and Door Stopper editions.

8-Bit Theater contains examples of:

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    A to M 
  • Aborted Arc: Clevinger played with this to help create the Anti-Climax. Each Light Warrior has an avatar of some sort trying to prepare each of them for their large and important destinies. However, they all eventually get fed up and leave, unable to take all the insanity and stupidity. None of them are ever mentioned again and don't have anything to do with the story's ultimate resolution.
  • Accidental Incantation: The Warriors of Light discover that a cult is intending to summon a monster, but interrupt them before they succeed. Black Mage realizes he could summon the monster to do his own bidding, but can't pronounce the monster's true name (which is required to summon it). Thief and Red Mage also join, but can't figure it out either. Then Fighter happens to sneeze while looking at it... which turns out to be just a harmless sneeze. Except then Fighter immediately makes a lucky guess as to the monster's name and ends up summoning it.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: Both Fighter and Black Belt can break the laws of physics simply through being too stupid to understand them.
  • Actually a Good Idea: The Light Warriors (minus Fighter) come up with a plan to defeat Chaos, after Fighter ruins their previous attempt by selling the legendary weapons Thief stole. They'll send Fighter over to literally talk him to death. Fighter instead has a friendly conversation with Chaos (and convinces him to transform into his One-Winged Angel form). Red Mage sadly laments that it was a great plan up until Fighter was involved.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Black Mage admits it at one point.
    [Black and Red Mage flash back to Black Mage being used as a hood ornament on an airship]
    Red Mage: We thought it'd be funny.
    [two beat panels]
    Black Mage: Heh. That was funny, wasn't it?
  • Adaptation Expansion: Boy howdy. Around the first ten minutes of the game are covered over about 135 strips.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Garland is the main villain in the original game. Here, he's a Minion with an F in Evil... and ends up as the Fake Ultimate Hero.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
  • Affably Evil: Garland, he's certainly more affable than evil since he is completely hopeless at doing anything actually evil.
  • A God Am I: Sarda goes off on a god complex for most of his appearances, acting like he's the creator of the universe or something.
  • All Just a Dream: One of two fake endings involve Thief telling Fighter that it's time for bed and then someone waking up complaining about the quality of the dream.
    Thief: What if you're the imaginary one?
    Fighter: If I was then that'd mean everyone I ever knew or cared about, everything that ever was, was a lie.
    Random real life woman: [turning off alarm clock] That dream was like 80% filler.
    Title card: The end!
  • All There in the Manual: Red Mage's last name "Statscowski" has only been mentioned in forum posts by the author, never in the comic itself.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe, Black Mage thinks Lex Luthor, is the hero of the story because ridding the world of Superman will restore humanity's agency.note 
  • Always Lawful Evil: Each and every single elf is elitist, selfish, duplicitous, bellicose, and genocidally racist, but they live and die by (absurdly complex) laws and (fine print-riddled) contracts.
  • Ambiguous Syntax: When the Light Warriors are impersonating the Bearded Warriors.
    Dwarf King: (seeing Black Mage blow up the obstacle course) Wow. No one's ever tried that before.
    Red Mage: That's because they weren't Bearded Warriors like us.
    Dwarf King: That's a point.
  • Amusing Injuries:
    • Black Mage stabbing his comrades, usually in the head. At least to Black Mage.
    • Black Mage getting pummeled in return either by White Mage or Dragoon as comeuppance is also hilarious.
  • Anal Probing: As part of Red Mage typically not thinking through what he says.
    Red Mage: So deep are we (within my A-hole) that Sarda will never find us no matter how thoroughly or how vigorously he probes. My A-hole.
  • And the Adventure Continues: While Red Mage and Thief decide to go do other things, Fighter and Black Mage continue adventuring because they honestly have nothing else to do.
  • Angrish:
    • A Running Gag, since the whole cast are alternately enraging or stupefying each other.
    • After traveling through a poison swamp, poison tundra, and plains of poison, the Light Warriors finally return to the entrance of Sarda's cave. He immediately teleports them inside.
      Black Mage: Wait one damn second. Could you have done that at any time?
      Sarda: No, not at any time. Don't be so stupid. Just any time I felt like it.
      Black Mage: YEARGHBLEBLE!
  • Anticlimax:
  • Anti-Villain: Garland just cannot do anything truly villainous to a ludicrous degree.
  • Apocalypse Cult: The cultist, being a parody of H. P. Lovecraft's works, wants to provoke the apocalypse because it's cool.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Parodied twice as Black Mage provides an overly dramatic and largely false commentary on the situation.
    Black Mage: We have always lived in the ocean. There is no before. There will be no after. There is no place for time here among the dark. Among the alien things that crawl and swim in a sea without light. We are one of them now. We have always been one of them.
    Red Mage: Black Mage? You're narrating again.
  • Arc Number: Four. Since the original Final Fantasy had 4 Light Warriors, Fiends, and orbs/crystals, the comic plays on this by adding 4 Dark Warriors, 4 "Other Warriors", 4 "true" Light Warriors—making a total of 4 warrior groups (although the pattern is broken during the big finish by introducing a fifth "all White Mages" team)—and 4 patron avatars. Also, the average strip is 4 rows.
  • Army of Lawyers: Thief's Law-Ninjas are a group of lawyers who are also ninjas. They are conspicuous.
  • Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Black Mage will usually pause to admire anything even more evil than what he was planning.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I traveled a thousand miles away from anything like civilization, moved into the innards of an unpredictable volcano, set up dozens of pitfalls, hell, I even put up a sign!"
    Fighter: ...After we brutally murdered her son, banished her husband to hell, and tore up her driveway.
  • Artifact Title: Originally, the comic was to have consisted of a rotating series of sprite comics based on various NES-era games, hence the title 8-Bit Theater. As it turned out, the Final Fantasy comic was the only one that ended up actually getting made. He created one other he used as filler.
  • Art Shift: Happens multiple times over the course of the series, often for one panel gags: Thief sneak attacking an orc, Black Mage laughing at Thief when he thinks he's escaped his contracts forever, Black Mage experiencing the Goblin Punch, Sarda Mind Raping the Dark Warriors, whenever Black Mage contemplates the hotness of White Mage, and finally, the entirety of the epilogue.
  • Ascended Extra: Sarda had a very minor role in the original game (he gives you a key item). His role is expanded in the comic.
  • Ascended Meme: When a particular bit of Insane Troll Logic took off like a rocket in the 8-Bit Theater forums, the author decided to honor it in-comic with the only character suited for the job.
    Red Mage: Trust me. Inverting all of reality into this null-zone is the best idea. I have two relevant degrees.
  • Ass Shove:
    • White Mage threatens to do this to Black Mage with her hammer, for what he does in this strip. note 
    • Fighter tries to turn Red Mage's A-hole (i.e. the portable hole that he'd labelled "A") inside out with his swords. Unfortunately, he misunderstood what was meant by "Red Mage's A-hole". Poor Red Mage...
  • Asymmetric Dilemma: This is one of the most frequent joke templates in the series.
    Red Mage: Wait! That is not how we do things around here, buddy. First we have to argue incessantly over semantics. Then one of us has to hurt one or all of us. Also, you're a villain.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: Black Mage drops one here, the first uncensored F-bomb in the comic. It's so big that it has to be split between two comic panels.
  • Authority in Name Only: King Steve is a king but all of his power is wielded by his daughter, Princess Sara, and his advisor.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Black Mage's Hadoken can destroy anything, but only when he properly aims it, which never happens . One example is here, where Black Mage misses a volcano.
  • A Wizard Did It:
    • In his own words, Sarda is the Wizard Who Did It. He is responsible for any and all weirdness. He is also secretly responsible for setting the events of practically the entire strip into motion.
    • Played straight in strip 108.
      Garland: Where'd you get all this high-tech equipment?!
      Evil Princess Sara: A wizard did it. Anyway that's not important now.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
  • Baby Talk: Black Mage does it to some cute bats: "Aww, hims got fwends!"
  • Back from the Dead: All four Light Warriors died separately over the course of the comic but they all came back for different reasons.
  • Backstory: Red Mage spent two strips discussing how important it is for a character to have a backstory.
  • Badass Armfold: Due to the way the sprites look, Thief after his class change and Sarda can look like they have this.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Fighter delivered one in this strip. In a subversion, instead of boasting about his own achievements, he praised Black Mage... who wasn't happy about this.
    • Fighter does make his own boast later on:
      Fighter: Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds.
    • Black Mage himself once wanted to deliver a Badass Boast that would double as a pick-up line... but what he came up with was this:
      • In a later strip he delivered a Boast that was played straight... until it was interrupted by Thief 'stealth-suing' him.
        Black Mage: But you're out of your league here. Forces you can't even pronounce, let alone understand, are at my beck and call. You continue to breathe only because your existence is amusing to me.
        Black Mage: Hey! You can't sue me for being "a stupid, smelly jerk".
        Thief: Can't I?
      • Then there was the time BM got fed up with Red Mage's crimes against nature, and told him what was waiting for him in hell. The scary part? Black Mage isn't bluffing.
    • Garland's attempt at giving a Boast (or rather reading out loud one prepared for him by Evil Princess Sara) failed miserably when Forest Imps stole the scroll with the text of the Boast... thus forcing Garland to improvise.
      • That quote is also a Shout-Out to the original game, as that line was lifted directly from Garland's actual dialogue.
    • Far later, Sarda gives one:
      Sarda: I am Sarda. And I am older than time. I possess a power beyond mortal imagination. My plans will not be undone by such amateur-hour horseshit as absorbing too much power and exploding. I am Sarda. My will be done.
    • Chaos delivers one, too. The kicker? This is his response to Black Mage asking if he could give the Light Warriors a minute.
      Chaos: I am the yawning chasm from before the before; the darkness after the end of all things. I am nothing and no thing is eternal.
  • Bad Guys Do the Dirty Work: Black Mage can generally be relied upon to throw immensely destructive magic at a life-threatening problem. ... with the side-effect that he's not very accurate and has very limited understanding of the word "subtlety". In short: the protagonists have probably reaped a higher death toll than the antagonists. Although this doesn't make moments like this any less awesome.
  • Bait-and-Switch Boss: Chaos replaces Sarda after the latter absorbs too much energy and allows himself to become a conduit for the former.
  • Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: While in a submarine, Black Mage gets a long monologue on Go Mad from the Isolation, how his shipmates are now babbling incoherently and there is nothing but the endless ocean around them. Said shipmates point out it's been less than three hours.
  • Ballistic Discount: Black Mage tries the magical equivalent of this when he runs into a No Hero Discount at the ultimate magic shop. Unfortunately...
    Black Mage: What I learned today is that really old wizards don't get that way by being easy to kill.
    Red Mage: So you didn't get any spells?
    Black Mage: In the sense that being stabbed gets you a blade, man, I got spells.
  • Bat Deduction: Ranger's team tracks down the Light Warriors in Leifen, despite their only clue being a rumor in a language they don't speak.
    Berserker: And so, thanks to Ranger, we learned that the Lefeinish people were posed to do something to, with, at, or possibly on something or someone else.
    Ranger: Naturally, we thought of you.
  • Battle Aura:
    • Black Mage, after absorbing the evil of the fiends. Later, he lost it after destroying the Temple of Fiends. Then Sarda got it.
    • Black Mage again after he absorbed the evil of HIMSELF. It Makes Sense in Context
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Used many times, with the action (usually Fighter beating up a villain or Black Mage beating up a bystander) shown offpanel for comic effect, and taken to its ultimately absurd conclusion in the Final Battle with Chaos.
  • Beat Panel: This is often used by Black Mage to process something stupid that Fighter or Red Mage has done or said.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Both Princess Sara and Left-Hand Man Gary are hyper-competent to moronic King Steve.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: King Steve's messenger says to Drizz'l that he's "on the lam", making Drizz'l think that he's getting involved with a sheep. And then there's Red Mage watching Chocobos mate for three hours just because he felt like it.
  • Best Served Cold: Sarda has literally lived for billions of years to set in motion his Evil Plan to strengthen the Light Warriors so that he could kill them all at the height of their power, just to rub their insignificance in their collective faces. Best served cold indeed. Though as the Cosmic Plaything example indicates, he probably did not intend to have no choice but to wait that long.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • White Mage is the healer but is the most capable killer of the bunch including killing Chaos.
    • Fighter is a well-meaning buffoon but he is capable of single-handedly defeating a fiend when the chips are down.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: Matoya tends to turn people into frogs if they annoy her.
  • Big Bad: Sarda ultimately is the last and most powerful foe to be face by the protagonists.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Black Mage, Red Mage, and Dragoon each killed one of the four Fiends from out of nowhere.
  • Big Stupid Doo Doo Head: The best insult that Black Mage can come up with here is "Yeah well... Your face... Is ugly."
  • Bittersweet Ending: The villains threatening the world are defeated, everybody is saved, the Dark Warriors are hailed as heroes throughout the land, and Thief becomes the new king of the Elves. However due to the events of the comic the Light Warriors aren't given any credit for all the crap they went through and the group disbands. Afterwards, Red Mage and Dragoon set out to create a "sole-survivor of secret sects" club while Black Mage and Fighter just disappear, with nobody knowing what happened to them (they're actually right back where they were when the comic started). White Mage is trying to find a way to give them the credit they earned but it's left ambiguous if she'll succeed. Still, they were also prevented from achieving their largely-unsavory post-quest plans, and their various de-powerings have mellowed them out a little, to the point that all of them seem fairly happy about where they've ended up.
  • Bizarro Apocalypse: Discussed in the strip's climax: Black Mage argues it might not actually be so bad for Chaos to win (because he might set the world on fire, but he might also turn it into cake, and there are more kinds of cake than there are fire so the odds are in cake's favour) and Chaos overhears and decides to start the "pastrylogical singularity".
    Chaos: I mean, that's the kind of crazy, 'oh, man, look at that embodiment of chaos go nuts' thing people expect out of me. But they don't expect that. But they should. But can't. But should.
    White Mage: Chaos, we will stop you.
    Chaos: You know, I'm talking about turning your world into pure confectionary strata. It's a little beyond your ability to influence.
  • Butt-Monkey: Almost everyone. More specifically:
    • Black Mage, though he really deserves it.
      Black Mage: Does the universe exist only to rob me of any joy? It'd be nice to have confirmation on that.
      • This assessment is basically true, as its implied that his continuous suffering is essentially the universe's immune system reacting to the abomination that is his every thought, action, and very existence.
    • Fighter is frequently insulted and assaulted by Black Mage (but he can take it).
    • Red Mage had his skeleton removed from his body and was later turned into a one-eyed monster (he got better).
    • Thief was mauled by Berserker, had all his accumulated treasure smashed, was torched by Bahamut, and was shaken to oblivion by Muffin. And he stole his class change from himself in the future, just before Sarda got to the final part of his revenge.
    • White Mage can only watch in sorrow as the Light Warriors slaughter innocents, each other, and generally ignore their "responsibility" as heroes, and that's on top of her best friend dying.
    • Onion Kid's main purpose is to go through various torments that usually relate to Black Mage. And become Sarda. Then get possessed by Chaos.
    • Garland went through this briefly before he founded the Dark Warriors.
    • The "real" Light Warriors. Every bad thing imaginable happens to them. Even when they catch a break, it usually ends up backfiring. Barry, the only member of the group whose name we know, gets the worst of it.
    • The town of Onrac is constantly getting destroyed by the Light Warriors and rebuilt only to get destroyed yet again.
  • The Caligula:
    • King Steve, the psychotic, bloodthirsty, retarded ruler of Corneria.
      • He was drilling for mana. You can't drill for mana. YOU CAN'T DRILL FOR MANA! Then it turns out, you actually can.
        Newspaper headline text: I hate this ridiculous fantasy setting.
      • Not to mention that his right hand man is a coffee stain named Rodney.
    • The Dwarf King is also monstrous. In order to shorten the amount of paperwork the bodies of the giant monsters that Black Mage slays will bring, he has the coastal reserve murdered in front of their families and blames the event on the elves.
  • Cain and Abel: Black Mage murdered his own brother via an uneven room laced with knives and tiger pits.
    Red Mage: Wait. You murdered your own blind brother?
    Black Mage: It would have been cruel to let him live after what I did to his eyes.
    • It's suggested that this wasn't the only instance. When asked if he has a sister, Black Mage says he wouldn't use present tense to describe any of his family members, while the panel shows just Black Mage talking against a bloodsplattered background.
  • Call-Back:
    • A late comic in the series is appropriately titled "Longest Set UP in Webcomic History"
      Brian Clevinger: All I can tell you is that, yes, the whole point of this comic was to do this comic much later. I didn't intend for it to be nine years later, but around year five or so it occurred to me it had already gone from being a long range call back to probably the longest ranged call back attempted by a webcomic.
    • This was called back in this in another very long Call-Back, but not quite as long as the one above.
  • Came Back Wrong: White Mage's attempt to revive Black Belt ended horribly.
  • Can't Catch Up: You know how the Fiends eventually come back more powerful than ever. Remember how it was really difficult to kill the Fiends the first time around? Remember how the other Light Warriors are constantly mocking Black Mage's cowardice, ineffectiveness and large amount of bodily harm? Maybe they shouldn't have done that.
  • Captain Ersatz: Minor character The Sulk, cameo characters Arachna-Dude, Alloyed-Guy and The Mediocre Four.
  • Carcass Sleeping Bag: Black Mage suggests doing this to Fighter (and then Red Mage and Thief) in order to make sure the remaining Light Warriors (i.e. himself) don't freeze. Later, Garland and the Dark Warriors actually do this to a Yeti.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Dark Warriors are evil. They proclaim their evilness to far and wide! Yet they are really bad at being evil.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: While this is normally the Light Warriors' schtick (comic-wide spoilers!), hugely subverted with the eventual revelation that while they were ignoring Chaos and arguing amongst each other about cake, White Mage and three other healers destroyed Chaos, off-panel.
  • Character Development: Deliberately averted with the Light Warriors, who never really learn a lesson and never improve upon their flaws.
  • Characterization Marches On: Drizz'l was initially portrayed as stupider than Garland, but has since become a Straight Man for the sake of the Dark Warriors having at least one.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Longest Set Up In Webcomic History. In comic 7, there's a throwaway joke when Black Mage is reading a strategy guide. "Four White Mages? It'll never work!" In the end, Chaos is killed by White Mage, Shaman, Priest, and Healer.
    • Not quite as big a setup as the prior one, but the dialogue in this comic returns to haunt us.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Zig-zagged. The Light Warriors each pick up a skill when they class change. Thief uses his throw ability several times, and while Fighter only uses his block ability once, it's an important factor in his confrontation with Black Mage. Red Mage never effectively uses his Mimic ability, and Black Mage never picks up any useful spells.
  • Cherry Tapping: The first attack to hit Sarda? Bikke throwing the Water Orb at him. It didn't do much, but it was the only time anyone (besides himself) was able to do anything to him.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Remember Queen Jane? She appeared beside King Steve in his earliest appearance, but once Princess Sara returns to the castle she is never seen again, in part because Sara filled the straight man role.
  • Colour-Blind Confusion: Referenced, when Red Mage produces a blue "golden Chocobo" Black Mage asks him if he's colourblind. He's not, he just made the Chocobo think it was golden through brain surgery.
  • Comedy as a Weapon: Black Mage kills Astos using bad puns.
  • Compensating for Something: After hearing Dr Malpractice making Accidental Innuendo Black Mage, Red Mage and Fighter briefly wondered whether this trope applies to them.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • Among other examples—"Man, she must like me a LOT!"
    • Not surprisingly at all, the point is something that Fighter comically misses on a frequent basis. From Episode 329, right after Thief says he is leaving the group and Black Mage appoints himself the new leader:
      Red Mage: You know, Fighter and I have superior numbers. We could overthrow your demented regime easily.
      Black Mage: We can do this one of two ways. The easy way... or the excruciatingly painful death for Red Mage way. I suggest the former, m'self. You're welcome to try the latter of course, but I assure you it's a wasted effort. You are up against a knife-wielding sociopath just looking for an excuse to hurt you even if he has to make one up.
      Fighter: Surely this maniac will slaughter us all!
      Black Mage: If given half a chance...
      Fighter: He doesn't know we're here, does he?!
  • Crazy Enough to Work:
    • Every single plan Red Mage has ever come up with is bonkers. Occasionally they are also successful. They culminate in this, which doesn't quite work out.
    • Fighter's plans tend to work the same way if his sword obbession and stupidity aling just right for the proper situation.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Subverted. The Light Warriors' constant direct and indirect torture of Onion Kid ends up causing him to become Sarda, but Sarda was the one who deliberately allowed them the opportunity to do so to begin with (in order to get payback for everything they did to him) so Sarda really has no one to blame but himself for all the bad things that happened to him.
  • Creative Sterility: At one point, Red Mage decides to counter Thief's usual bragging about how awesome elves are by pointing out that, despite elves having been around much longer and supposedly being much smarter, their civilization has been stuck in Medieval Stasis for longer than most races have even existed, and the young races took relatively little time to catch up. Thief isn't able to come up with an answer better than elves just prefer it that way.
  • Creepy Camel Spider: Drizz'l temporarily defeats Fighter by putting a camel spider in his hair, listing out a grandiose description of these creatures' danger and aggressiveness and sending Fighter in a screaming panic.
    Drizz'l: The dreaded camel spider is such a horrible creature that it's often cited by atheists as proof that there can be no such thing as a kind and loving God as long as it roams the Earth. Camel spiders are not technically spiders. Rather, they're an unholy hybrid of the most awful aspects of both spiders and scorpions. [...] They are without fear, they never sleep, and they viciously attack anything that they perceive as a threat, which is anything they perceive.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Most of Sarda's spells are designed to only work with a specific target in mind. Subverted, because this was used in order to prevent Blue Mages from using his spells against him. Played straight by Black Mage, who by way of Power Copying has learned "Spell that hurts Black Mage" and the "rewrite reality according to my (Sarda's) whim" spell.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
    • Fighter is dumber than a bag of rocks, but he's also a practically unstoppable swordsman.
    • And Bikke, useless though he may be at piracy and villainy, is the first person in the comic to actually hit Sarda with an attack. A useless attack, granted, but it impressed Sarda enough to spare him... for now.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: Red Mage tells Black Mage how he got away from Warmech but forgets to leave out the part where he wet himself.
    Red Mage: Next time I tell this story, I'll also skip the part where I said that.
  • Dumb Is Good: Fighter is dumb and he is also the only mortal teammate of the Light Warriors, simply because he is too dumb to think of anything outside of "swords-chuck yo", and not even in the homocidal way that Black Mage would. Or perhaps it's "Dumb isn't absurdly selfish, utterly disconnected from reality, or an Omnicidal Maniac." Dumb is... relatively good.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Black Mage once completed the obstacle course consisting of four hundred bearded trials of strength with a single Hadoken.
    Black Mage: Obstacle course? Mo' like Ka-Boom course.
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Thief delivered one to Black Mage when BM turned on his teammates late in the series. Though once Sarda intervened to revive everyone, the "dying" part didn't apply.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Let's face it, the Light Warriors are their own worst enemies. That says something when their rogues' gallery includes demons, eldritch horrors, deities, and reality warpers. From the man himself: "I'm not sure why the Light Warriors worry about obstacles or monsters standing in their way. They are nothing compared to the obstacles and monsters within the party."
  • Early-Bird Cameo:
    • Episode 300 shows the party after they've changed class, something they wouldn't do for more than 300 more comics. The picture of the Light Warriors at the top of this page is the panel from said comic that the cameo occurs in.
    • Sarda also appears in Episode 300 as "the wizard who did it". His proper introduction comes over 100 strips later in Episode 421.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first sixty or so pages have characters regularly using game terms like "HP" in their speech and talking about stats on their character sheets. These quickly became something exclusive to Red Mage (and Vilbert to a lesser extent), dismissed by other characters as his mad ravings.
  • Eat Me: Unintentionally done by Red Mage to Kraken. He is devoured by it, but once managing to cut Kraken from inside, claims it was his plan along!
  • Eldritch Abomination: Ur and the Eye-stalk are alien tentacle creatures worshipped by doom cults. Ur's real name would drive you mad just by hearing it.
  • Eldritch Ocean Abyss: Subverted. Despite Black Mage's impressive narration about the horrors of the deeps, they don't actually encounter anything particularly mind-breaking.
    Black Mage: We have always lived in the ocean. There is no before. There will be no after. There is no place for time here among the dark, among the alien things that crawl and swim in a sea without light. We are one of them now. We have always been one of them.
    Red Mage: Black Mage? You're narrating again.
    Black Mage: My companions succumbed to sea madness weeks ago.
    Thief: Dude, it's been two and a half hours.
    Black Mage: I alone maintain a gimmer of humanity. I fear it is fading fast.
    Red Mage: What kind of dark wizard in league with nameless forces of primordial evil are you that you can't even make a successful sanity check versus boredom?
    Black Mage: I ignored the pitiable babbling that issued from their misshapen lips. Their wet gurgles, a noise that had once been words, came to an end when one of the things outside assaulted our craft. I welcome death.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Exaggerated; Thief, like all elves, despises dwarves to the point of wanting to see every last one of them killed. This makes his rampaging march through their kingdom much more enjoyable for him. The dwarves, for their part, would love nothing more than to see the elves all killed off.
  • Embarrassing Damp Sheets: Implied, when Black Mage "epiphinates" in his sleep, Red Mage asks him if the needs to change his robes. Black Mage hurriedly gives him a Rapid-Fire "Shut Up!".
  • Emergency Transformation: Inverted when Red Mage uses Polymorph to turn himself human, to prevent him from dying from blood loss as a monster.
  • The End of the World as We Know It: One of the comic's fake endings. It's also the ultimate goal of Black Mage and, apparently, of Chaos as well.
  • Enslaved Tongue: Sarda uses a rewriting reality spell against Black Mage, making him agree with what Sarda just said. Black Mage, who can copy spells used on him since he is also a blue mage, tries it on Sarda. Turns out, its effect is actually "rewrite reality as Sarda wishes".
  • Epic Fail:
    • Red Mage thinks that Black Mage critically failed hitting a large target because there is a 1-in-20 chance of critically screwing anything up.
      Thief: Not that I'm complaining about it, but... HOW DO YOU MISS A VOLCANO?!
    • After being de-powered, Fighter tries to use his swords but ends up stabbing himself in the head with them.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Parodied, since the Light Warriors' original classes are their real names, and remain so even after they change classes.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In-universe example—In the Castle of Ordeals, each character fought a personification of his greatest flaws, symbolically overcoming them (or at least, that's what they were supposed to do...). The final ordeal was to symbolize the team uniting to become more than the sum of their parts and transcend individuality and whatnot. When the final ordeal turns out to be "defeating a zombie dragon", Red Mage complains that the boss doesn't fit the theme.
    Red Mage: I fail to see the significance of a zombified dragon vis-a-vis our externalized struggles with our own internal demons.
    Fighter: Maybe the bone dragon represents our skeletons. Those are inside of us. Like skeletons.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
  • Eviler than Thou: The Dark Elves were once the rulers of Elfland until the Forest Elves overthrew them, stealing their national anthem in the process. Please note, said national anthem was "Elf Land, and Fuck You Too", which included the line "We're a race of total Bastards", and when Thief said that he didn't kill Drizz'l father, merely let his allies do the dirty work then took credit whenever politically expedient, Drizz'l admits that's practically defending him under Elf law.
  • Evil Laugh: Sarda's "muhuhaha". He pulls off an absolutely epic one here.
  • Evil Plan: Garland supposedly had something nefarious planned for Princess Sara after he kidnapped her, but it is less harmful then being poked in the ribs. He's nefarious, not cruel.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Black Mage, whose Black Magic is mostly used to slaughter anyone, and Sarda, who tries disguising himself as a Trickster Mentor but is actually an Evil Mentor who is more than willing to exact damage on the Light Warriors and the rest of the world.
  • Evil Versus Evil:
    • The author once claimed that "no matter who wins, the villains win." Though in the end it was one of the few more or less "good" characters, White Mage, who won.
    • In a world where the "heroes" are worse than the villains (except Sarda and Chaos) and single-handedly responsible for most of the world's suffering; the people in charge of things are insane, megalomaniacal, or both; and any attempts to bring any sort of peace or happiness seem to fail by default, the only thing preventing it from getting too dark is seeing just how over the top the Black Comedy gets.
  • Evil Vizier: According to Thief, the court of the Elves is "all viziers. And they're all assholes." Not that Thief is much better himself.
  • Eye Beams:
    • Used by Black Mage to annihilate one of the Dwarves' cities (and to piss off Red Mage).
    • He also uses them to destroy Fighter's dreams here.
  • Exact Words:
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Used for humor, especially with character names. The four protagonists most obviously, but also Doctor Malpractice, Chancellor Usurper, and many others...
  • Expy: Chaos is a transdimensional, extratemporal demon of the void that emerges from Sarda's head and threatens to undo the universe, just like the Shadow from Beyond Time in Clevinger's own Atomic Robo.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Black Mage has attempted to team up with antagonists five times throughout the story, though as he points out, "that'd imply there existed a time I wasn't on team Evil."
  • Facepalm: One of Drizz'l's standard ways of expressing displeasure
  • "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
  • Faint in Shock: Red Mage does this once when presented with a fantastic opportunity for min-maxing, and then again when Fighter "slays gravity" and learns how to fly.
  • False Reassurance: Black Mage sets Red Mage on fire but assures him that it'll put itself out- after all, all fires stop eventually.
  • Fan Fiction:
  • Fantastic Fighting Style: A few sword based ones courtesy of Fighter. The Twelve Schools of Vargus-do Zodiac-Style Swordplay, which includes the Two Fisted Monkey Style and Ram Style described by Black Mage as “breaking your opponent’s equipment with your head before your opponent breaks your head with his equipment”. Another one is ‘The Glorious Chainsaw Method’ created by Red Mage for Fighter described as “Make your swords become like things unto chainsaws.” And then there’s Fighter’s use of Swordchucks.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • See Elves vs. Dwarves above. The elves also have a lowered perception towards humans and basically anything that isn't an elf.
    • Dragons think rather poorly of anything that isn't a dragon.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: Zig-Zagged with. Black Mage, Thief, and Red Mage were pretending to take the credit for destroying Chaos, so in order to prevent that White Mage set up the Dark Warriors as "The very real Light Warriors".
  • Fastball Special:
    • The Fighterdoken attack.
    • As well as Fighter's Medoken. However that works.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Sarda's decided that killing the Light Warriors over and over again isn't as fun after dozens of times. So he's decided to just let them do whatever they want and only make life miserable for them when he's bored. This is subverted, however, because the Light Warriors actually prefer it to certain death.
    • Also, Chaos' plan for the world is to lock everyone in the plane of eternal torment between the worlds. Which, due to Sarda and White Mage's time traveling, would create a paradox where the universe will never have came into being. Chaos apparently wants both to happen, somehow.
    • Also, Berserker's fate and presumably Cleric and Rogue's unknown fates.
      Cleric: What does that mean?
      Sarda: It means there's not much point in talking about him.
  • Faux Affably Evil
    • Black Mage, on those occasions he's not consumed with omnicidal rage, is rather cordial. He's been known to discuss super hero deathmatches with Red Mage (in which it can be noted that Black Mage always picks the villain to win while Red Mage always chooses the hero of the matchup).
  • Friend On The Black Market: Rogue has "I know a guy" as his catchphrase. One of said guys (perhaps even the only guy) is Thief.
  • Frivolous Summoning: Subverted. After Drizz'l summons Lich and the two begin arguing, Lich protests that he wasn't summoned to argue semantics with an elf, and compares it to summoning a demon to get help with homework. The subversion comes in as Drizz'l actually summoned Lich to kill the other Dark Warriors and just got sidetracked.
  • From a Certain Point of View:
    • Any claim that Brian Clevinger isn't a Lying Creator hinges on these. Just see the justifications below.
    • In comic, a fairly common joke is for characters to have to grant a point for being technically true, such as Fighter having never seen an invisible castle due to them being very rare, or Black Mage not needing his heart to pump blood if he's dead.
  • Funny Background Event:
  • Gainax Ending: Faked in a strip claiming it was All Just a Dream.
  • Genius Ditz: Arguably Red Mage, who, despite being obsessive about stats and whatnot, occasionally makes good (enough) plans. Fighter might be too, since he has a Bachelor's degree in dead, completely overcomplicated languages (not verbatim).
  • GIS Syndrome: Brian Clevinger admits on just taking what he finds in image searches for his backgrounds.
  • Glass Cannon: Black Mage is one of these, and in one comic refers to himself with that exact phrase, before getting a little weird with the metaphor.
  • Goldfish Poop Gang: A rare real-life example—if the Con Recap news posts are to be believed (from all three parties), then Clevinger, Tim Buckley and Michael "Mookie" Terracciano have all the trappings of one.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Surprisingly invoked on Chaos of all people, when White Mage points out that a universe completely ruled by entropy would be as dull and boring as a world completely ruled by order.
    • When the Light Warriors discover that Matoya and Bahamut are a couple, and the rat tail is for a virility potion. Let's just say that Black Mage tries to choke on his own vomit and leave it at that.
      Black Mage: Oh, god. Now I'm ejecting things I haven't eaten yet.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied—when Black Mage faces a moral dilemma (whether he should let Fighter die or let Fighter die and destroy all of reality in the meantime) two miniature versions of himself that appear represent his evil side... and his atrociously evil side. (The distinction blurs a little more every day, though.)
  • Good Hurts Evil: The True Light Warriors' holy weapons can only be wielded by good people, so on the main team only Fighter can use them. This provides an idea of how evil each of the Light Warriors are relative to each other: Fighter isn't hurt at all, Red Mage is burnt a little but can still hold them, Thief immediately drops the knife he picks up and Black Mage bursts into flame.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: When any huge explosions or impacts occur, the panel in which they would happen is replaced with stock photos of nuclear blasts (or in one case, of an asteroid impact). Also, when BM solves problems through stabbity means, all we see is blood splattered on the fourth wall. Both are hilarious when you actually see them.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Chaos is an evil Eldritch Abomination and embodiment of decay that is the whole reason behind the Light Warriors' quest. Although he does desire to end (and eternally torment, however that works) existence for no real reason, he does not come into play until the real Big Bad, Sarda, accidentally brings him about. Who was himself indirectly created by Black Mage.
  • Groin Attack: One of the few blue magic spells learned by Black Mage is this. "Inna NERTS!"
  • Guilt by Association Gag: The arch-villain Sarda explains that while It's Personal in the case of Black Mage, he's going to destroy all of them because they are atrocious beings that need to be annihilated for the safety of everything. Black Mage then raises a point that leads directly to this trope:
    Black Mage: Wait, even Fighter?
    Arch-Villain: Except Fighter.
    Fighter: Yay!
    Arch-Villain: Fighter's a casualty.
    Black Mage: Yay!
  • Hand Behind Head: Occasionally characters will use this gesture after an awkward moment, for example Red Mage does it here after undergoing an involuntary transformation, and Thief does it here when he finds that he can't hold the holy weapons.
  • Hand Blast: Black Mage's blasts are usually cast from a hadoken-like double palm strike.
  • Hand Puppet: Fighter has one of Black Mage.
  • Harmless Villain: The Dark Warriors survive to the end largely by being ineffective at everything.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Sarda. For all his talk about how horrible the Light Warriors are, he's just as bad (well, as bad as Red Mage and Thief). He kills off the Other Warriors, not to mention Ranger's wife over what he knows is a simple misunderstanding.
  • Healing Shiv: Cleric used one to bring Thief back from the brink of death.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The demons of urine and bad haircuts give Black Mage nightmares.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Drizz'l briefly joins the Light Warriors, although this is due more to frustration with the Dark Warriors' incompetence and being voted off than a change in morality. Then again, the Light Warriors are not exactly pillars of morality. In fact, when Black Mage was on their team, the Light Warriors were more evil than the Dark Warriors.
    • Princess Sara is arguably an example of this, at one point taking over her own kidnapping and trying to help Garland dispose of the Light Warriors, who have come to rescue her. However, after Garland is defeated, she returns to her previous life and does not continue to pursue the evil path to any noticeable degree.
    • Black Mage, despite being a "hero", almost pulls these a few times, but something always distracts him back to his own ways before long.
  • Heel Realization:
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
  • Hell Seeker: Black Mage wants to get to Hell to rule it. He succeeds... for a very brief time. Once he gets returned to mortality he tries to dig his way back.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: White Mage—although Black Mage isn't much of a hero. Also, White Mage seems to have a thing for Fighter, who is also red haired.
  • Heroic BSoD: Black Mage after watching Fighter use his new "Wood-in-steak".
    Red Mage: Years of exposure to Fighter's, shall we say, point of view, has rendered Black Mage a sputtering vegetable.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Webcomic. Although the phrase 'hero' used to describe any of the "Light Warriors" is... inaccurate.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja:
  • High-Pressure Blood: Violent spurts of red liquid are the usual bleeding.
  • High-Voltage Death: Black Mage electrocutes a group of old men to death in an old folks home with a Bolt 2 spell just for the sake of killing them. Well he also wanted to find an old man that took their gold, but he makes it pretty clear prior to that that he's mostly going there to cause mayhem, and only asks someone about the gold after he kills them.
    Black Mage: Eat electric death old man!!!
  • Hired Guns: Black Mage's comment in this strip implies that he Fighter were mercenaries the events of the comic.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: Discussed. Truth is the Light Warriors just killed all the city guards so there is no one to fight back. Other people are unaware about the threats to their world except the four idiots who steal and murder them.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Fighter thinks that the Light Warriors are heroes; true, noble, and effective heroes. Yes, really. Somehow he misses all the violence, murder, theft and general mayhemthat his party members do.
    Fighter: We're heroes.
  • Hugh Mann: Here;
    Black Mage: Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
    Warmech: I grew it with my human lip.
    Red Mage: Is... is that a fact?
    Warmech: Oh yes. I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
    Thief: Well he sounds human.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Black Mage has had a few moments of clarity, which he prompty ignores. This one here being the most notable. Later, he becomes cunning enough to fake having an Epiphany.
  • Illogical Safe: Played with, only with an armoire instead of a safe falling on Fighter. Fighter emerges from the middle of it and Red Mage launches a convoluted explanation that states that Fighter survived because his knowledge of Cartoon Physics warped reality itself. Then Fighter reveals that the bottom just was cheap particle board.
  • Immortal Immaturity:
    • Seems to be the rule for folks like the elves. All of them appear to be selfish, short-sighed with the emotional range between " sue you" and "steal that".
    • Sarda's got a very bad case of magical dickery that is as long as hte universe is old.
  • Impossible Thief: Thief can steal anything that's not on fire and nailed down at the same time. Emphasis "and" and "anything."
    Thief: I've stolen things that weren't even there. This soul exists, so that helps.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The sword-chucks are impossible, even in this world... Until they aren't.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Fighter has his Sword-Chucks, and no less than four swords on his person at any given time. And then there's this line:
    Fighter: You try balancing a cow on the end of a fence post to wield it like a club. That's a physical damn challenge!
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • Fighter searches for the Armor of Invincibility and ends up with the Armoire of Invincibility by mistake.
    • Fighter likes to play Breakout. Actually, it was supposed to be Arkanoid.
    • "He must be in Ur base. Killing all Ur dudes." The authorstates that the character was named Ur just for the sake of that joke.
    • "I couldn't bear my role in it."
    • Because he's a vampire, the only way to kill Vilbert is with a wooden stake through the heart. Fighter proceeds to rip one of the posts off of a wooden fence, impale a cow on it, and then burn it to a crisp. Why? Because he now has wood in steak. It's worth noting that the pun is so lame it actually causes Black Mage to go temporarily insane. Er.
    • After deciding to break the three Light Warriors who aren't Black Mage out of their icy prison, Drizz'l comes up with an idea that he knows he'll hate himself for after it works. He tells this joke: "How do you get 200 Canadians out of the pool? [Beat] Say 'Please get out of the pool.'" The ice shatters and Thief asks what he just did. "I... broke the ice..."
    • At one point a minor antagonist is killed while the Light Warriors are mocking him and Black Mage makes a pun of such extraordinary terribleness that it causes the antagonist to drop dead on the spot.
  • Infernal Retaliation:
  • Innocent Innuendo: Red Mage seems to be able to make anything sound like a double entendre.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
  • Insult Backfire:
    • Clevinger, in keeping with his philosophy that the best joke is the one on the reader, wrote a comic that ended with the entire strip All Just a Dream, as a fake No Ending. Rather than the cavalcade of abuse he expected from pissed-off readers, he got fan mail complementing him on writing the perfect ending for his comic! Needless to say, he was peeved that his master plan was ruined by kindness.
    • He seems to have tried it again here. And again, after the initial shock, the readers began to compliment him.
    • In-universe example:
      Black Mage: Yo.
      White Mage: You are simply a horrible little monster and I pray for your quick and merciful death.
      Black Mage: Flirt!
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: Lampshaded in strip 1201, "These are the prices and like a fence or short hedge, there is nothing you can do to get around that."
  • Interspecies Romance: Bahamut and Matoya - and learning this is outright traumatizing for the Light Warriors, highlighted by quotes such as "Quickly. The less we learn about reptilian reproduction, the better." Also, Ranger's complex heritage implies he's "half Elven, one-fourth Lefeinian, and one-eighth Orc".
  • In the Local Tongue: Drizz'l is mocked for his goofy-sounding name, until Thief tells them it actually means "The Relentless Scourge." Black Mage still mocks him anyhow.
  • Ironic Hell:
    • After being severely beaten by Berserker, Thief ends up in his personal Hell where he owns everything. Thief is overjoyed... until a trickster god called Raven points out to him that there's nothing left to steal in this Hell. Realizing that, Thief starts begging the god to revive him. However, it's revealed later that Thief didn't actually die — Berserker only knocked him unconscious — and his personal Hell was probably an illusion created by Raven, who wanted to take advantage of Thief's desperation.
    • The real hell, too.
      Head Hell Guy: This is hell. We're big on irony here.
  • Iron Butt-Monkey: Fighter and Black Mage—the former is repeatedly stabbed in the head with no ill effects (it made him smarter once), while Black Mage more or less always survives what's thrown at him (the Goblin Punch and Australia come to mind) and when he's killed, he gets brought back in fairly short order so as to continue suffering.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One:
    • When Black Mage calls Red Mage and Thief ugly, Red Mage says that Thief isn't ugly.
    • Red Mage calls Thief a "creepy evil elf" and Thief responds "I'm not creepy. Uh. Or evil".
  • It's Always Sunny in Miami: This trope is used in this work, as it never gets dark until the characters enter the inn.
  • It's the Journey That Counts: White Mage asks Red Mage if he's annoyed with her for setting up the Dark Warriors as the saviours of the world instead of the Light Warriors. Red Mage says that he isn't, because having the adventure is more important than people knowing about it.
  • I Will Show You X!: In this strip.
    Sarda: That's adorable, really.
    Garland: Oh, we'll show you adorable!
    [shows Sarda a photo of a bunny]
    Sarda: Yes, you sure did.
  • Last of His Kind:
    • Red Mage and Dragoon are the last survivors of their respective orders. They have a support group!
    • Muffin wants to be the last dragon, but when pointed out there are a fair number of dragons still out there despite her claims, she grudgingly admits she wasn't quite as thorough as she'd like.
    • Barry of the real Light Warriors is apparently a Red Wizard, meaning that Red Mage is either wrong or lying for roleplaying EXP. Knowing him, it's likely both simultaneously.
  • Lazily Gender-Flipped Name: When captured while Disguised in Drag as elf women, Thief tries to introduce the team as "-ica", "-ina" and "-a" version of their own names: Thiefica, Fighterina and Black Magia.
    Thief: And-
    Red Mage: I'm Debora.
    Elf: Well, those are girls' names. Their story checks out.
    Red Mage: Don't look at me like that. I've always thought Debora was a pretty name.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Said word for word by Black Mage after the nightmare-poison-induced shenanigans that resulted in the Light Warriors waking up stark naked in the woods.
  • Level Drain: Happens to the Light Warriors near the end of the comic.
    Sarda: The irony is that there's not much left for me to do to you that you haven't already done to yourselves.
    Thief: Pff, what could he possibly do?
    Black Mage: Oh... please don't say that out loud.
    Thief: No, think about what he said. We're Light Warriors, dammit. I bet he can't hurt us any more than we hurt each other every day.
    Red Mage: Thief kinda has a point. We're our own worst enemies. What can he do?!
    [The Light Warriors are reduced in levels and class]
    Red Mage: [turns to Sarda] What if I said it was a rhetorical question?
  • Level Grinding: After being deleveled by Sarda, the Light Warriors must engage in a frenzy of this in order to (maybe) stand a chance against Chaos
  • Ley Line:
    • Mentioned as running through the land.
    • It is stated that Black Mage is a living Nexus. His mind/soul itself is the Nexus, such that his physical body acts as a Restraining Bolt. Hence when he dies and gets rid of his physical body, his powers increase (vis a vis RULING OVER HELL). He is not happy that the universe is trying its very hardest to keep him alive (probably so he doesn't end all creation.)
  • Light Is Not Good: For a group of "heroes" called "The Light Warriors", they are probably the world's greatest mortal perpetrators of atrocities. Sarda flat out tells them this. Then again, the Light Warriors only got the title by tricking King Steve with their "Orbs of Destiny", which were in fact light bulbs, and the Real Light Warriors were unable to find a job.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Including making Fighter smart.
    Thief: I think you stabbed the stupid out of him.
    Red Mage: That makes no scientific sense. The knife channeled the lightning directly to his brain which then experienced electrical activity for, perhaps, the first time ever.
  • Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Parodied by the "8-Bit Theater #1 Gold Foil Embossed Collection Edition!", which is only a "lame" Filler Strip. invoked
  • Limited-Use Magical Device: Referenced when the "Light Warriors" come across Chancellor Usurper while he's monologuing and he attempts to defend his actions by claiming he was reading from a letter that disappeared like a scroll. To which Black Mage states that scrolls don't disappear, just the writing on them.
  • Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although by the 1000 comic mark, Fighter can block anything in creation (including fire and the ground) and Thief can steal anything in creation, they still aren't anywhere near matching the raw destructive power that Black Mage has access to. Red Mage is a special case because although he can instantly mimic Black Mage's attacks when they are used on him (for about 30 seconds afterwards), his wizarding skills in general are not geared towards brute force but practicality (well, what he thinks of as practicality). The best example of this trope, though, is Sarda, who gets phenomenally more powerful the older he gets. Anyone even want to know what Black Mage and Red Mage are going to be capable of if they exist that long?
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Black Mage comes up with the false name "Mos Anted" from a "Most Wanted" poster.
  • Logic Bomb: Red Mage uses one to kill a dinosaur. He tries it again while confronting his own Hubris, but it doesn't take for obvious reason.
    Red Mage: For that would be a flaw. Well, explode already!
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Thief describes Black Mage as "quivering with impotent rage" and Black Mage responds "Who told you?"
  • Love Makes You Dumb: Black Mage's intelligence is inversely proportional to one of two things: how close he is to White Mage, or how angry he is. When neither of those two factors are in play, he's the most intelligent of the group (except perhaps for Thief). Anger seems to obliterate all his ability to think rationally. This is really a problem because he has a Hair-Trigger Temper.

    N to Z 
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Other than Black Mage's last name, Evilwizardington, there are characters with names like Chancellor Usurper and Doctor Malpractice.
    • Just about everyone's last name.
  • Medieval Stasis: The Elves, as pointed out by Red Mage despite having a 9,000 year head start are at the same technology level as humans. Thief, at a loss for a proper explanation, tells them that they like it that way.
  • Memory Wipe Exploitation: Garland knows that Bikke is planning to hold a meeting with the other Dark Warriors, as they are unhappy with Garland's leadership. Garland not only supports the idea - he even offers to cater them lunch. Just after serving lunch, Drizz'l approaches Garland and asks why Garland is being so supportive of Bikke's efforts to overthrow him. Garland says he has two reasons: the first is that he wanted a chance to try out a new taco recipe he found. The second is that he views the plot as a non-issue, because Bikke is grossly incompetent, Vilbert is a poser, and Drizz'l has been a broken shell of a Dark Elf ever since Fighter beat him and took his swords. When Drizz'l points out the possibility that Garland might be getting overconfident, Garland reveals his secret third reason: he put amnesia peppers in the tacos, meaning he can freely mock the attempts to depose him. In an hour, everyone will have forgotten the entire affair anyway.
  • Never My Fault: As Red Mage points out Sarda is just as responsible for his suffering as the Light Warriors are, since he wastes all his time getting petty, childish revenge on them when he could easily use his godlike powers to prevent their actions from ever happening. Not only that but he was the one who sent them on their quest to begin with, so he really has no one to blame but himself for his problems.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: If Sarda hadn't resurrected Black Mage's victims after his rampage, then the actual ending of the comic could never have happened.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
    • Fighter's idea of combining swords and nunchucks.
    • Orc Zombies
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Earlier strips had King Steve serving as a George W. Bush parallel, though done in an extremely over the top Strawman representation; drilling for Mana in wildlife preserves, bit of a warmonger, and low popularity.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • In this strip, the Light Warriors can see themselves as in the comic. Even Black Mage comments on something he says at a later point. Justified, since they're in void where space and time are meaningless.
    • Red Mage often leans very heavily on the Fourth Wall. Considering he's a Munchkin this isn't much of a surprise (his entire order lives on the basis of manipulating the Fourth Wall). When he does say something with a meta-context expect Black Mage (if he's currently not in possession of the Insanity Ball and trying to kill everything in sight) to remark on it with either suspicion or frustration.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • Black Belt's core martial arts philosophy, as taught to him by his master.
      Black Belt: My master believed that an opponent whose body was too broken to move was an opponent who was defeated.
    • What happens to anyone who triggers Barbarian's Berserker Mode. Thief knows what it is like to be beaten down by that.
  • No Kill like Overkill: Black Mage. He likes summoning the raw powers of the universe to do his bidding (apparently). This usually comes (also apparently) with a malleable sense of scale... as in "off of the". As a running gag, his love of killing things in as over-the-top a fashion as possible often leads to his attacks backfiring on him (luckily for him, he learns Feather Fall eventually).
    Black Mage: I found out what zombies are weak against.
    Red Mage: Oh?
    Black Mage: Point blank annihilation.
  • Nominal Heroes: The Light Warriors.
    Red Mage: According to a loose enough definition of 'hero', we qualify. Well, more or less. The point is that good deeds were done and we were nearby.
  • Non-Combat EXP: Discussed by the Light Warriors—Apparently, sidequests are the primary source of an adventurer's EXP gain, and are what separates noble adventurers from roaming bands of thugs.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: An intentional Double Subversion. The climactic fight with Chaos is shown offpanel to keep the identity of who defeated him secret as long as possible. Then comes a flashback sequence in which we see that scene, only to have the battle skipped over a second time.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The look on Sarda's face just before undergoing Phlebotinum Overload is astoundingly evocative for an 8-bit sprite.
    • Also the look on Black Mage's face when he discovers that "Muffin", Dragoon's "parrot", is actually a dragon. Extra points for Fighter and Thief completely ignoring what's right behind them.
    • According to White Mage, here's what happened after Black Mage became the ruler of hell and gained limitless power:
      White Mage: Did you feel that?
      Black Belt: What?
      White Mage: A great disturbance in the order, as if millions of voices cried out to say "Oh shit."
    • And Matoya, trying to use her crystal eye for lottery numbers, keeps getting "THE DESTROYER IS MANIFEST". Basically, the entire universe went Oh, Crap! when Black Mage took over hell.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Black Mage always did want to be ruler of a dead universe. However, he never showed he actually had the power to pull it off until late in the comic.
  • One-Winged Angel: Sarda might have went and did this to set up the climatic battle. It is a new form to be sure but Chaos is now running the show.
  • Only a Flesh Wound:
    • Black Mage stabs his comrades, usually in the head, and they always survive.
    • Subverted when Black Mage actually kills Ranger this way, and gloats over it as his previous victims survived. Of course, he is then resurrected by his friend Cleric.
    • Black Mage regularly survives injuries such as losing his arms or being impaled by a spear, usually without proper healing. It's implied the Universe doesn't want him to die again since his fleshy body is what prevent him from destroying the world so it keeps him alive.
    • Pretty much everyone in the main cast, at one time or another, goes through this.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: apparently, the Onion Kid's real name is Rex Crockett (check left bottom corner).
  • Only Sane Man:
    • White Mage. Black Mage is when he's holding the Sanity Ball (If you can call it that).
    • Thief, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Drizz'l, and Rogue are this in their respective groups.
    • Sarda might also count, since he's one of the few who sees the Light Warriors except Fighter as the horrible threat to the world they actually are.
    • When Black Mage isn't in an omnicidal rage, he is typically the Only Sane Man, and will point out flaws in logic, be the only voice of reason, and will even lean heavily against the fourth wall. However, whenever he is sane, one of the Light Warriors (usually) will do or say something stupid or frustrating, and there seems to be only a certain level of this he can take before he feels the "need to destroy." The stupider the idea (which happens to be proportional to the amount of participation Fighter has in its conception for some completely bizarre reason), the more likely he'll just snap all together. There's a slight problem when that happens...
  • Pædo Hunt: "Note: very few elder gods have erupted from carnivals. Mostly, it's just pedophiles."
  • Parrot Expo-WHAT?: When Red Mage refers to NPCs Black Mage repeats after him "NPwhatsa?"
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: Black Mage runs out of words to describe how much he hates Fighter, so Red Mage suggests "Hateriffic, Meganger, Anathemalice, Ragenomic, Omniloathe, Abhorrination". Fighter is thrilled that they now have "best buddy codewords" and comes up with "Friendlicious" and "Ultrabuddy".
  • Perp Sweating: Parodied. When Red Mage "interrogated" Bikke, the pirate claimed he didn't steal Matoya's crystal. Red Mage simply replied: "No? Or... Yes?". Confused Bikke immediately incriminated himself and accused Red Mage of using "black ops mind games".
    Bikke: I just wanted to feel like a big evil man! Is that really so wrong?
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Black Mage and Sarda both excel at making the peoples fall down.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Black Mage's letter to White Mage in which he apologizes for being a Jerkass and tries to comfort her after Black Belt's death definitely qualifies as one of these moments. Obviously, that only proves that one can pet the dog once or a few times and still be irredeemably evil.
    • Much later Sarda gets a Pet the Dog moment when he decides to spare the Dark Warriors' lives.
      Sarda: Look, I don't do this... Uh, ever. But you guys are basically like kittens stuck on a leaking lifeboat in a typhoon. Just run.
    • And he gave Fighter candy.
    • Well, he gave Black Mage candy too. He just happened to place the candy in Black Mage's lungs
    • Black Mage refuses to tell Fighter he went to Hell since even he doesn't have the heart to crush his idealistic view.
  • Phlebotinum Killed the Dinosaurs: This happens when Black Mage completely misses a volcano with his hadoken. The spell flies to another planet "where giant lizards rule".
    Fighter: Where's that thing going?
  • Phlebotinum Overload: This happens to Sarda, after he absorbs the power of the Orbs, the Fiends, and Black Mage's Superpowered Evil Side. As it turns out, he's still alive, just not Sarda anymore.
  • Pillar of Light: When Sarda explodes.
  • Read the Fine Print: Don't: Thief has rights over them that will charge you on top of scamming you with it.
  • Recoil Boost: Black Mage uses his Hadoken to propel the party's ship.
  • Recurring Extra:
    • Onion Kid, the little kid whose new family is constantly killed. Except he's far more than that.
    • The Real Light Warriors, a party who is supposed to be the actual destined Light Warriors but Missed the Call due to the main characters having taken the position while they were busy Level Grinding. Every so often we see them just a few steps behind the protagonists or having their lives made miserable due to their actions.
  • Retcon: No, Thief's ninja outfit has always been black. Why would it be red? He's always imagined himself as classing into a black-clad ninja, not a red one. What do you mean "It was red when he first appeared in it"? Bah. You're as crazy and confused as Black Mage.
  • Retconjuration: Sarda, when he's not being a straight-up Reality Warper.
  • Retconning the Wiki: One strip implies that Black Mage vandalised Wikipedia to win an argument with Red Mage.
  • Ret-Gone: There was never a fifth Light Warrior named Bard.
  • Revive Kills Zombie Chaos is ultimately defeated by being blasted with white magic from four White Mages.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: Red Mage asks Sarda what he can do to the Light Warriors that's worse than what they've already done to each other. In response, Sarda depowers them all.
    Red Mage: What if I said it was a rhetorical question?
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fighter goes berserk on Lich after Lich kills Black Mage.
  • Role-Playing Game 'Verse: The entire original plotline of the strip, not to mention Red Mage's constant stat references at the start of the series.
  • Rule of Three: Onrac is destroyed by the actions of Sarda in response to Black Mage three times. Lampshaded with a sign outside the town saying "Where lightning never strikes thrice". Guess what happens.
  • Running Gag: The guard chasing the hapless messenger. Who is still chasing him in the Epilogue. Three years later.
  • Sanity Ball: Each of the Light Warriors has their own eccentricities, and so each one gets their turn with the ball. Black Mage is a sadistic psychopath, but also has the most common sense and so gets his turn whenever things get too crazy or illogical. Thief is amoral and pragmatic, so he reins in the others when they get too off task. Red Mage is divorced from reality but his delusions of being in a video game also mean he's the most devoted to actually accomplishing their quest of saving the world. And Fighter is a complete idiot, but still the most normal of the bunch and the only one who tries to act like a hero.
  • Sarcasm-Blind:
    • Black Mage's sarcastic comments usually fly over the heads of Red Mage and Fighter.
    • Black Mage suggests his own version of Sarcasm Mode to "help" Red Mage.
      Black Mage: We're going to have a code. When I stab you in the ear, that means I'm being sarcastic. Got it?
      Red Mage: I have reservations about that, vis-a-vis the stabbing and also my ear.
      Black Mage: I'll take that under advisement. [stabs Red Mage in the ear]
  • The Scapegoat: Once the police arrives to investigate Lich's death, Sulk gets there with The Cure albums... thus the cops arrest him because "No emotionally balanced, healthy person would listen to that. This is obviously our perp."
  • Small Name, Big Ego:
    • Black Mage, Red Mage, all Elves.
    • Black Mage is an odd case. He admits straight out back in the beginning that he knows he's "vile" and evil. He's rather proud of it, in fact. He even knows that his one-liners are horrible and that he annoys White Mage into almost Unstoppable Rage. What's strange is that he thinks that is charismatic and appealing to women. So, this trope still applies as he thinks that he is the ultimate ladies' man. His idea of what that is is just really distorted.
    • King Steve probably has an over-inflated image of himself as well. Seriously, if he thinks of himself that way...
  • Soft Water: Subverted. After everyone is blown into the air, Thief thinks that the ocean will break their fall, but Red Mage points out that hitting the ocean at the height they're falling from will be like hitting the ground.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Many examples, but the biggest one is Sarda, to himself. Sometime in the present, he teleports White Mage into a "pocket dimension" because she was annoying him. It turns out this "pocket dimesion" is actually the beginning of the universe... and a younger version of himself arrives there a few seconds too late to mold the universe to his will.
    • He also probably didn't expect Black Mage's evil to cause him to suffer a Phlebotinum Overload—or that said overload would allow Chaos to possess his body. Not even gaining godlike power can prevent Black Mage from ruining Sarda's life.
  • Squishy Wizard: Black Mage, of course.
    • Although, BM has shown surprising ability to take beatings for a supposed Squishy Wizard. Not to mention he is apparently strong enough to kill a bunch of sea monsters using only his dagger.
  • Stable Time Loop:
    • Sarda is tortured by Black Mage as Onion Kid, is taken in by his older self, watches said older self try to get revenge on the Light Warriors, grows up to become a powerful mage, goes back in time to the origin of the universe, goes insane taking The Slow Path back to the present, decides to take revenge on the Light Warriors, repeat.
    • And along the way, he sends White Mage to the beginning of time to keep her out of the way, where she creates the universe. Wrap your head around that predestination paradox.
    • A smaller example: when they are at some weird space-time singularity, Thief has an idea to use the hundreds of instances of the Light Warriors to form an army. When Red Mage asks him how he got the idea, Thief says that he saw the future Red Mage doing it. Red Mage comments on the fact that he wouldn't have done it if Thief hadn't told him, and that Thief wouldn't have told him if he hadn't seen him doing it.
    • A smaller-scale example: Sarda in the past got the idea to grow a mustache from White Mage, who got the idea from seeing Sarda with his mustache in the present day. So who came up with the idea in the first place?
  • The Starscream:
    • Black Mage repeatedly betrays the Light Warriors, and has tried to gain control of the group at least twice. Drizz'l, meanwhile, usurped Garland for all of a day before getting kicked out of the Dark Warriors.
    • Despite being the leader, Thief gives Black Mage a run for his money. Red Mage is getting tired of how many betrayal sub text there is at one point.
      Thief: Now, now, there'll be plenty of time for ruthless backstabbing after we get the Earth Orb. [beat] Er, I should have said that in whisper-mode.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: Lava instead of ground, ventilation rust-holes, cold fusion devices, explodable amnesia dust, "a stube"... the list goes on.
  • Stunned Silence: Black Mage has quite a few of these, usually accompanied by a Flat "What" when he's confronted with something so stupid or illogical that it renders him speechless. However, it has also happened when he has been simply horrified into stunned silence. There are few things so horrible that they can horrify Black Mage into silence. One of these things is Red Mage's chocobo breeding experiments. Black Mage even promises to devise a special hell just for what he's done.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Fighter thought that Legolas was cute.
  • Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish: Subverted. Fighter seems to have figured out the Lefanish language, but he still hasn't quite got the hang of it. Or has he?
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Black Mage's temper and remaining sanity are continuously frayed by the rampant illogical insanity, stupidity and lack of all reason that tends to crop up in Red Mage's and Fighter's vicinity (which isn't exactly conducive to the good health of the group). Thief also makes the same claim, but he gets far too much enjoyment out of screwing everyone out of everything they currently or will own, to be more than occasionally annoyed by the irrationality.
    Black Mage: I shall die as I lived. Completely surrounded by morons.
    • Poor Drizz'l gets this too: every time he thinks that he's finally pinned down the stupidest person in the room, someone, anyone opens their mouths, and he has to start all over. Of course, that's not to say that he doesn't have his Idiot Ball moments too, for comedy's sake.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
    • "No I am not undressing you with the power of my mind!"...and too many other examples to list them all.
    • Shifty shopkeep Akbar makes it an art form.
    • Fighter will often make completely innocent statements to this effect, often believing a far too specific lie that Black Mage has told him. See the below conversation for exhibit A, case in point.
      Fighter: You told me Red Mage was dead.
      Black Mage: Oh, we've all been dead. His return is no surprise, really.
      Fighter: But you said he'd turn into the walking dead any minute and we had to make haste so he couldn't feast upon our delicious living flesh.
      Black Mage: Look, I say a lot of things. Now, we can stand here and argue about who fed who obvious, completely incongruous, fabrications and lies. But are you prepared to risk the unrelenting hunger of the undead?
      Fighter: All the senseless talking about a subject no one can remember, much less, uh, remember is getting us nowhere and zombies are hot on our heels. We must move forward and onward!
    • Black Mage also has a rather introspective one while he is the only one still stuck inside the web of a giant spider
      Black Mage: They're the dumb ones, why am I still stuck here? I'm the smart, sassy one. My condescending demeanor certainly has nothing to do with a barely hidden anxiety about my actual worth as a person, a mage, or a member of this team. Stupid Fighter and stupid Red Mage and stupid Thief, makin' me introspective. I suppose it'll give me even more emotional turmoil to squeeze into a ball of seething rage focused at the center of my being.
    • Red Mage gets into the act too:
      Red Mage: Whatever it was, I bet it WASN'T a backlash from gross abuse of the laws of magic!
  • Sweat Drop: Appeared a few times in the early days of the comic.
  • Talking in Your Sleep: Black Mage has a dream where all the Light Warriors are hung, at which he giggles and murmurs "Muzza wuzza died last".
  • Take a Third Option: When White Mage becomes evil, Red Mage asks her to heal Black Mage, and she's not sure what to do. She doesn't want to heal him as that's what a good person would do, but Black Mage is one of the most evil people in the universe so helping him would most certainly have negative consequences down the road. She decides to...
    White Mage: ...hurt Red Mage.
  • Tempting Fate: Lampshaded. Thief asks of Sarda "Pff, what could he possibly do?". Black Mage tells him not to say things like that out loud.
  • Terrible Pick-Up Lines: Black Mage tries to start a relationship with White Mage by using pick-up lines such as "Do you come from Venus? Cuz your ass is OUTTA THIS WORLD!", resulting in White Mage hitting him with a giant hammer again and again.
  • The Chosen Zero: Played with. The main characters aren't the real chosen ones, but they do (sort of) save the world, and the real chosen ones don't do anything important to the plot.
  • The Fellowship Has Ended: The final fate of the Light Warriors. After their quest is over they all just sort of split apart (with the exception of Black Mage and Fighter).
  • Taken for Granite: Black Mage can also do this to people apparently, he did it to stop a temporal paradox.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Red Mage is a MACHINE at this.
  • Theme Naming: Khee'bler and Sahn'ta elves.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Thief tries to invoke this trope in order to trick Muffin.
  • Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Fighter accidentally volunteers himself for a plot this way.
    Red Mage: We're going about this whole Chaos thing the wrong way.
    Black Mage: Why break with tradition now?
    Red Mage: No, no. Seriously. We can't out-fight him, we can't out-cast him, and we can't out-think him. But we can out-stupid him.
    Fighter: How?
    [the others turn and look at him]
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As seen in this early strip, spiders freak Fighter out. So you can just imagine what's going through his mind when this happens later on.
  • Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises: Black Mage sometimes does this when he's scared, such as here.
  • You Will Be Spared: Upon being hit with the only successful (if ineffectual) attack on his person to date, Sarda says this to the perpetrator: "You're a quick thinker and spiteful. I can respect that. You won't be killed, Bikke."


Alternative Title(s): Eight Bit Theatre