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Webcomic / Gunnerkrigg Court

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"Within the first week of my attendance, I began noticing a number of strange occurrences. The most prevalent of these oddities being the fact that I seemed to have obtained a second shadow."

Gunnerkrigg Court is a Science Fantasy Webcomic by Tom Siddell about a strange young girl attending an equally strange school. The intricate story is deeply rooted in world mythology, but has a strong focus on science (chemistry and robotics, most prominently) as well.

Antimony Carver begins classes at the eponymous U.K. Boarding School, and soon notices that strange events are happening: a shadow creature follows her around; a Rogat Orjak smashes in the dormitory roof; odd birds, ticking like clockwork, stand guard in out-of-the-way places. Stranger still, in the middle of all this, Annie remains calm and polite to a fault.

Meanwhile, Annie befriends the technically-minded Katerina Donlan, whose parents both teach at the Court. The two serve as foils for each other: Kat's energetic, outgoing personality plays off Annie's initial reserve, which enables much of their character development.

Kat soon gets roped into Annie's investigations of the Court's mysteries, but every answer they receive raises more questions: about the school, about their fellow students, about the woods just across the river, and about their own parents. Soon, they start stumbling on creatures and intricate symbols from all possible mythologies — as well as plain old chemistry — topped off by the Oasisamerican Trickster God Coyote, who has his own designs for Antimony and the school premises. Throughout all this, Annie and Kat uncover the story of a truly frightening ghost woman, whose portrait is worshiped by Gunnerkrigg's crew of golem robots and who seems to be the key to some of the school's greatest mysteries.

Although the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot draws on some dark childhood fears, there is more than enough optimism (both innocent and realistic) to offset it.

You should start from the beginning. The comic's art evolves quickly.

The comic is also published in hardcover form.note  So far, the volumes include:

  1. Gunnerkrigg Court: Orientation (January 2009note ) collects the first 14 chapters.
  2. Gunnerkrigg Court: Research (March 2010note ) collects chapters 15 - 22, plus the City Face bonus comic.
  3. Gunnerkrigg Court: Reason (August 2011note ) collects chapters 23 - 31, plus City Face 2.
  4. Gunnerkrigg Court: Materia (July 2013note ) collects chapters 32 - 41.
  5. Gunnerkrigg Court: Refine (August 2015note ) collects chapters 42 - 49.
  6. Gunnerkrigg Court: Dissolve (September 2017note ) collects chapters 50 - 59.
  7. Gunnerkrigg Court: Synthesis (September 2019note ) collects chapters 60 - 68.
  8. Gunnerkrigg Court: Catalysis (January 2021) collects chapters 69 - 77.

The bonus comic City Face has its own article. Siddell has also published some side stories. With the exception of "Zim Grim", these were first published as print comics:

  • "Annie in the Forest" (2013), detailing a bit of Annie's time living in the forest.
  • "Traveller" (2015note ), detailing a bit of Paz's trip home after her first year at the Court.
  • "Coyote!" (2018note ), depicting Coyote's life before coming to Gillitie Wood.
  • "Zim Grim" (2021), depicting Zimmy and Gamma's first meeting.

Has a tabletop card game crossover with Girl Genius.

Gunnerkrigg Court contains examples of:

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  • Academy of Adventure: Antimony introduces the story with the tale of her second shadow and soon finds a vengeful ghost at the bottom of a gorge, from which she is rescued by her friend's homemade anti-gravity plane. When her classmates gather in their spare time, they recount stories of their own harrowing adventures exploring the Court.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • There are people named Surma, Antimony, Gamma and Zeta and Sir Eglamore as well as Jack, Janet, James and Andrew Smith, whose magic power is to make things orderly.
    • Among the tree elves, there's Khepi, Kamlen, Sareed, Irial, and Idra, and there's Khepi's husband Mark.
  • All Myths Are True: According to Jones, Coyote did place the stars in the sky, and so did every other mythological being attributed this task, but she also claims the stars have also always been there since long before Coyote and co. existed.
  • All There in the Manual: Tom Siddell has started posting commentaries of each chapter on YouTube.
  • Anachronism Stew: The fashion of the Court in Jeanne's day as conjured by Ayilu, the fairy who can manipulate memories. The background characters don't matter as long as Ayilu can make Jeanne believe everything is normal — otherwise they'd all be dead.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: In The Realm of the Dead, Antimony and Mort appear to see a land of infinite majesty, wonder and surprise. Kat and the audience, meanwhile, see a cheap haunted house populated by about three people.
    Record Keeper: So you use that name as an incantation with the scryer.
    Kat: This Rolodex?
    Record Keeper: Then you summon the records from the Vault of Memory.
    Kat: You mean this cabinet? There's just a VHS tape in here!
    Record Keeper: Wow, you must be the life of the party, kid.
    • And then in the bonus page we see what Antimony and Mort were seeing, with the implication this might be the True Form, and Kat's mundane take was a Weirdness Censor.
    • In the next chapter, there's a vampire guy whom Mort sees (when he first dies) as a Classical Movie Vampire (maybe edging slightly towards "Halloween costume"), but Annie later sees as a Looks Like Orlok figure with a blood-soaked mouth. He gives her the actual explanation of TROTD, which is "All this is just a creep show. Smoke and mirrors. But the Ether makes it real" (as he pulls his Orlok mask off). Apparently, Kat is more resistant to the Ether than Annie and Mort.
    • Happens again in "The Other Shore": Kat sees a tiny cell with a bound, unconscious prisoner while Annie sees a vast maze trapping a powerful opponent. Annie also sees a gigantic, terrifying insectoid thing that turns out to be Kat's Etherical form.
  • Arc Number: 113. It appears many times across the comic.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: In Ch. 52, the room where Annie is apparently living now that she's being made to retake Year 9 is very sparsely furnished, undecorated, and everything appears to be a pale gray.
  • Ban on Magic: The Court Does Not Like Magic because it's a Black Box and because of a bad case of Tall Poppy Syndrome. While using magic isn't officially illegal, and the court will tolerate its use among the lower ranking staff, anyone with a mindset willing to use magic will never be invited into the court's inner ranks. Even those who do have the right mindset and have already obtained a high rank will be kicked from their inner circles if they end up using it as a last resort.
    • When the Court decides to move, they ban magic completely, with membership willing to use or even capable of magic being kicked straight out.
  • Beautiful Condemned Building: The old workshop Kat's parents allow the girls to use.
    Annie: It looks a bit empty.
    Kat: True, but it's full of potential.
  • Boarding School: Gunnerkrigg students live at the Court in dormitories that change year to year. There have been skyscraper bunk beds, industrial pods, the interior of a water tank... it isn't until year 10 that they actually get normal-looking apartments.
  • Celestial Bureaucracy: The Realm Of The Dead.
    Mort: It's like a department that deals with people who died but didn't get taken into the ether for whatever reason.
  • Circus of Fear: Mort's creation to scare Paz.
  • City of Adventure: Gunnerkrigg Court — a school resembling an industrial complex the size of a city (with its own park!), just next door to a creepy forest.
  • Covers Always Lie: Chapter 55 - The Break Out looks like it's going to be a long and tense chapter about rescuing Reynardine. Instead, it wraps up in a single page.
  • Dark World: The dark city Zimmy often finds herself in, the evil twin of Birmingham.
  • Ear Ache: The side story Coyote! reveals what happened to Ysengrin's right ear: Coyote tore that ear off in anger after Ysengrin was mean to Renard, long before the Court was fully formed.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • The Forest and the Court don't exactly fit in normal reality. For one, the Court is an enormous city, with multiple parks, lakes, and power stations, but it's almost completely abandoned, and seemingly stretches on forever. Aata eventually reveals that the Court is actually in a Pocket Dimension.
    • Samples this whenever the characters end up in Zimmingham, particularly in Chapter 28, a weird distorted version of the England city Birmingham.
    • Wherever Antimony's dad actually was when he met the Psychopomps, it doesn't appear to be a normal location. He speculates that the region wasn't anywhere on Earth, and might not have even been a physical place.
  • Enchanted Forest: Gillitie Wood is home to a great variety of nature spirits, fairies and talking animals, as well as the Glass-Eyed Men, and is ruled (so to speak) by Coyote the Trickster. It used to exist in harmony with the Court, but after the two societies parted ways on bad terms and Coyote created a deep ravine to separate them, the people of Gillitie Wood made a point of destroying every building and trace of civilization on their side of the divide.
  • Extranormal Institute: The Court. Virtually everyone inside it is some manner of bizarre, or related to people who are. There seem to be a few baseline Muggles but they typically have oddities in their jobs, like Eglamore being a Dragon Hunter. Ironically enough, the Court's leadership is comprised entirely of Muggles with a bad case of Tall Poppy Syndrome and Does Not Like Magic. They accept students and staff with magical talents, not to embrace their gifts, but to figure out how to be free of them.
  • Faceless Masses: Seen in the background from time to time and lampshaded in Chapter 59 when Annie, Parley, Red, and Ayilu infiltrate Jeanne's memories.
    Annie: And Jeanne isn't going to notice these people don't have faces?
    Ayilu: Nah, background stuff is easy. The hard part is making her think she's talking to an old friend Parley.
  • Failed Attempt at Scaring: Chapter 4 introduces Morty, a bedsheet ghost who tried to scare Annie with a trick. However, Annie pointed out the many cliches he used during his attempt.
  • Floorboard Failure: Jones averts this by bypassing the rickety floorboards altogether.
  • Frame Break: When Annie puts up a wall of flames between herself and the Court, it burns the panel dividers up. In Chapter 50, Coyote and Annie are in "ether-space" and Coyote goes just outside the normal edge of the page (presumably this means that in print normal pages would have a black border while Coyote would spill over to the edge of the page).
  • Geometric Magic / Hermetic Magic: Mrs. Donlan's magic is highly geometic; Jenny Jack's girlfriend makes a magic circle that's a seeking spell.
  • Ghibli Hills: The magical Gillitie Wood is only a bridge away from the industrial Court.
  • Hufflepuff House: Of the four houses, Thornhill is the only one with no known distinguishing features. Queslett's students have been specifically noted as all having unusual or magical abilities, Foley are former fairies and animals from the woods, and Chester is home to students like Zimmy, considered weird even by the Court's standards. By contrast, the only major character from Thornhill is Parley, who was studying swordfighting before her teleportation powers ever revealed themselves.
  • Meat-Sack Robot: Gadgeteer Genius Kat vat-grows organic components for Robot that can grow and adapt to his needs, which he describes as a really weird sensory experience. They also have the disadvantages of having concerning implications for the Court's Robot Religion, and of being high on the Court's Scale of Scientific Sins.
  • Mystery Cult: The Court is openly an institution dedicated towards science, but a lot of the Court's real agenda is kept a secret from anyone outside their inner circles. The Court's inner circles do not openly advertise how to obtain membership, only inviting those who show their preferred mindsets, like a healthy skepticism towards magic. The deeper into the Court's inner circles you make it, the shadier and more amoral things get. There are several reasons for this. One reason is because the Court is willing to resort to deeply immoral lengths to achieve their goals, and this policy helps keep their crimes hidden. Another reason is that the Court is in a paradox of Does Not Like Magic while also needing magic to achieve their goals, meaning that the Court's leadership secretly hates half of their own underlings. The biggest reason is because magic is shaped by Clap Your Hands If You Believe. The Court wants to abandon Earth to create a new world, one completely under their control while being empty of the magic they hate so much. By limiting information about their project from the public, they hope to avoid letting their world be "contaminated" by more magic.
  • No Communities Were Harmed: Many of the Court's exterior shots and streets are modeled after Sidell's home city of Birmingham, England. In his video retrospectives, he's put up photos of specific places that he's transplanted into the comic.
  • No OSHA Compliance:
    • The Year 7 dorms: They feature bunk beds that are many stories high.
    • The bridge to Gillitie Forest. It's wide enough to not be immediately dangerous unless people walking on it do something unusually stupid, but it does lack railings, since any shadow cast on it would allow the Glass-Eyed Men to cross it.
  • The Omniscient: By the theory of Laplace's Demon, if an entity had knowledge of all things of a world they were outside of, they would presumably be able to predict that world's future. By using the ether to fill in the missing pieces, the Court has assembled a Magitek device, Omega, to imitate said theory to predict the future. However, the device does not compensate for said missing pieces perfectly, and ever since Kat used Time Travel to save Antimony's life, breaking one of its predictions, it has been becoming even more inaccurate still.
  • Pocket Dimension: In chapter 86, it's revealed the Court is actually in a compressed space, connected to but not entirely on Earth. This is why the Court has seemingly unlimited space. Since the technology that makes this possible is partially etheric in nature, it ends up attracting an unusually large number of magical creatures.
  • Portal Pool: A significant chunk of the Court's research has focused on this form of Magitek, an apparent magical ocean that turns metaphor into reality and quite literally allows you to sail across the stars to other planets. The Court's goal in doing so is to setup a colony on another planet, one hopefully free of magic aside from this one last crutch.
  • Raygun Gothic: The plot of Dr. Disaster's simulator.
  • Scenery Porn: There are many aerial shots of the Court's geometric, sprawling urban environment, but also beautiful fields, the depths of Gillitie, and (in some chapters) quite impressive vistas of places elsewhere on Earth.
  • Spirit World: The Aether, which Annie enters when she uses her blinker stone.
  • Supernatural Repellent: The Court's Portal Pool is designed to make anyone with the slightest connection to the ether deathly ill. The Court's real reason for recruiting magically gifted students is to figure out how to repel them, to ensure that the new world they plan to colonize is completely devoid of magic and anyone with special gifts for them to be jealous of.
  • Unnecessarily Large Interior: The unusually long and high-ceilinged underground(?) room where Kat meets Annie in Chapter 52 (it takes Kat several panels of jogging to reach Annie).
    Kat: Why is this stupid room so big?!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: We've been given just enough information about Gunnerkrigg's location to know it doesn't fit anywhere on the map of the U.K. It's eventually revealed that this is because the Court is actually located in a Pocket Dimension. The entrance might be in the U.K., but the vast majority of the Court isn't.
  • White Void Room: The inactive holosimulator.
  • Wizarding School: The court is a subversion. Even though magic occurs on school grounds, the court considers any and all phenomena as scientific.
  • The World Tree: A Cherry Tree (from Gillitie Woods) in the artificial habitat room; it is there Annie starts to open up to Kat. In "Divine" there is a callback to the tree as a place where Annie can put aside her "mask."
  • Wretched Hive: In the forest there are some ruins which mark the last human settlement on that side of the divide. Normal forest denizens never go there, and for good reason, since it's full of scary monsters who attack outsiders on sight.

    Narrative / Themes 
  • Abilene Paradox: As revealed in the chapter "See Ya!", Mort has been ready to pass on to the Ether, but lingers here as a ghost because he thinks it's a "pretty important" job that the Realm Of The Dead gave him. But the ROTD are really just giving Mort busywork because they think he wants to stay.
  • Aborted Arc: The paintings from Chapter 2: Schoolyard Myths, as seen in page 7 were supposed to be part of a sub plot, but Tom has since dropped the concept.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • The tooth Coyote gave to Annie in Chapter 26: The Old Dog's Tricks. On Kat's official sharpness classification, said blade is "Really damn sharp", to the point of cutting a shadow from the floor. But it doesn't cut Shadow himself, fortunately for him.
      Coyote: The keenest blade you will ever find! Be careful with it, because it could cut the very earth!
    • Jeanne, despite being a ghost, can make Clean Cuts through physical objects (like Kat's spy cameras) as well as etheric ones (like Annie's etheric form).
  • Achievements in Ignorance: An octopus learns to fly because it never knew it was supposed to be in the ocean (see Brick Joke).
  • Adults Are Useless: Subtly deconstructed.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The court robots start out quirky, but friendly and helpful. But with time, especially thanks to Seraph 13's rumor spreading, the robots grow increasingly unstable. They eventually even go so far as to isolate the students at sea, cut them off from outside help, and unleash some extremely dangerous etheric phenomena. All as part of a project to make a boat robot flesh in order to woo Lindsey, a — happily married — biological entity, as well as to motivate Kat.
  • A Mind Is a Terrible Thing to Read: Zimmy is discovering this to be especially true of Annie's mind as of this strip.
  • Amplifier Artifact: Blinker Stones. They are lenses for psychic powers, whose full uses have yet to be revealed.
  • Anachronic Order: Chapter 11, "Dobranoc, Gamma", and Chapter 18, "S1".
  • Animal Motifs: Many, including Wolves, Foxes, Cats, Insects, Birds, Coyotes and Owls.
  • Anti-Climax: At the end of Chapter 54 Antimony resolved to get Renard back from her father. It's clear that she had intended to make a big speech and to do about it, but he returns Renard as soon as she says "I want Renard back.", after which she's left speechless when Anthony asks if there was anything else she wanted. And this one page is the entirety of Chapter 55.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder:
    • Coyote shows Annie three sides of Ysengrin: the psychotic wolf in wooden power-armor, the sickly animal underneath, and his "beautiful" form in the Aether. He tells Annie to decipher which version is which: how Ysengrin views himself, how others view him, and how he really is.
    • The Realm of the Dead looks to Aetherical deadzone Kat like a cheap fun house stocked with office supplies and run by people in cheap costumes while to Annie and Mort it's a fantastical place with mystical tools and monstrous guardians. Turns out Kat's vision is correct, those in charge use the "spookshow" to comfort the ghosts who probably expected something more.
    • When Anthony returned to the Court he treated Annie terribly by forcing her to remove her makeup and humiliating her in front of the class; we later learn that when he first saw her in class he thought she was Surma (the "rough" picture of Annie has Surma's curly hair instead of Annie's straight hair) and just freaked out.
    • Anthony always stands ramrod straight and seems unflappable in public but in Coyote's version/vision of his visit to the Court to learn why Annie hasn't been to the Woods he looks like a hunchback and described as a "broken man", as Coyote can tell with a sniff the truth about his situation.
    • Fairies in the real world look like what we'd expect: a tiny flying humanoid (without wings, those are just accessories); in the Aether they look more like living constructions of light.
  • Arc Words:
    "She died and we did nothing."
    "The court grew from the seed Bismuth."
    "It was worth it."
  • Armour-Piercing Question: Ysengrin delivers a blunt one when Annie solemnly tells him that her father has returned: "So?" Unusually for the trope, he then walks her through the answers to the question.
  • Artifact of Power: Diego's arrow looks simple enough, but it is capable of more than just trapping spirits. It's capable of disrupting the afterlife itself and even the underlying bureaucracy of the universe seems to be unable to contest its effects.
  • Awful Truth:
    • Annie and Kat learns that the founders, especially Diego, were responsible for Jeanne's death and Un-person-ing in Chapter 25: Sky Watcher And The Angel.
    • Annie learns that she's responsible for her mother's death by her sole existence in Chapter 31: Fire Spike.
  • Back to Front: Chapter 40 reveals Jones' backstory in reverse order, starting with the previous day and ending with the formation of Planet Earth.
  • Barbershop Episode: Chapter 15 centers around Annie and Kat helping a fairy-turned-human get her first haircut. It's a fraught experience — appearance is Serious Business to fairies, plus she's new to having hair that isn't a living part of her.
  • Batman Gambit: Mediation involves noticing hints and predicting people's reaction.
  • Blackmail: How the Court essentially got Anthony to return to the Court. If he didn't come back and force her back into line with their rules, they were going to expel Annie.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: From Chapter 21: Blinking: "Chatter jargon strange words."
  • Blowing a Raspberry: A truly epic one starts in Page 21 of Chapter 36: Red Gets A Name, and goes all the way through Page 22 (a.k.a. "the best page of Gunnerkrigg Court").
  • Bloodless Carnage: When Ysengrin tears Coyote apart, the latter looks more like a stuffed toy than a living creature. Given the victim's nature, it is probably to be expected.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Eglamore and Kat, on three separate occasions. Two were played straight, one was a subversion.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Parley and Smitty, closing off chapter 30. It takes up the whole page.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Slovenian, Polish, Spanish and Welsh are used in the first few chapters. The slogan on Kats' nightdress t-shirt reads "Dwr Budr" - Welsh for "Dirty Water". A few pages later, Annie is dropped into the dark waters at the bottom of the ravine and has to puzzle her way out.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Traveller". Paz's glass stone has been returned to her, in a better way than she remembered it, but she's still in mourning for the pup that swam away from her, to its death as she believes.
  • Body Motifs:
    • Lots of emphasis on the eyes:
      • Eye Color Change: Literally for the fairies as those with Blank White Eyes have their souls elsewhere, the easier to transplant them into the Court's artificial bodies.
      • Family Eye Resemblance: Played straight with Surma and Annie, averted with Kat: Donny and Anja have Black Bead Eyes when they aren't obscured while Kat doesn't wear glasses and her eyes are wide open.
      • Monochromatic Eyes: Both Jeanne and Annie's Aetheric side have these and appear to be beings of pure emotion, in this case fury.
      • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Played straight with Robot: red eyes mean he's serious about putting a stop to you (green is normal and yellow is caution), subverted with Zimmy: being able to see her red eyes means everything is calm and under control, at least for a moment.
    • With the addition of Anthony Carver, arms and hands have also become significant motifs. He cuts off his own arm in a desperate attempt to see his wife again; later, Annie's other emotionally- and psychologically-damaged father-figure Ysengrin has his left arm scorched when he attempts to reintegrate Annie with her anger (it gets better). Reversed with Robot, who gets a biologically-inspired arm and all the Limb-Sensation Fascination that go with it.
  • Brain Bleach:
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick:
    • The bonus page of Chapter 29 features Bobby the robot giving out pigeon facts. At the bottom of the page is this, placed right next to "Bobby's Fun Corner" for maximum impact:
      One day I saw a pigeon fall from a tree, its body twisted and broken from an attack somewhere above. It writhed on the floor in silence and eventually died. It had no expression, just as I have no expression. I have never relayed this story to anyone.
    • Jenny's Fashion Tips.
      Extra Light Ash Blonde Hair Dye
      Velveteen Eyeshadow
      Red Dahlia Lipstick
      Nails To Match
      100% Cotton Shirtdress
      Goat's Blood And The Dried, Brittle Bones Of A Depressed Rat
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Chapter 31, Fire Spike, in which Annie learns that her very existence was responsible for her mothers death. The sheer shock of this news causes her to immediately run away to the forest.
    • Chapter 51, The Tree. Annie's father comes back, and he immediately tells her she'll have to repeat Year 9 due to having cheated on Kat's work. She has to move all the way back to the Year 9 dorms, away from her friends.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Surma, Anthony, Eglamore, Anja, Donald and (presumably) Brinnie were one inseparable company as students and perhaps for some time later, but before the story started, Surma left the Court and broke all contact with the rest except Anthony, and it's unknown yet when and where Brinnie has gone. Anthony confesses that when Surma discovered she was pregnant, she didn't want the baby to be born in the Court and didn't want her friends to see her waste away after the birth. Anthony only agreed after much reluctance and a Noodle Incident with Eglamore.
  • Breather Episode:
    • After the Wham Episode that was Chapter 39 with Coyote's "great secret", Ysengrin going insane and the reveal that Coyote's been stealing his memories, "Mort Fun Time" was a welcome respite.
    • Chapter 50 is a breather about Annie delivering a totem to a lab and then returning to her new dorm. It's sandwiched between chapter 49, a grand end-of-year escapade with many characters involved, and chapter 51, a Wham Episode.
    • The arcs and chapters involving Red, the resident Plucky Comic Relief Cloud Cuckoolander, also work as breather and/or Bizarro Episodes. "Red's Friend Gets A Name Too I Suppose" starts out as a breather after the plot-heavy Wham Episodes of "Jeanne" and "The Other Shore", but is no longer one by the end.
    • "Katurday!" has some minor tension between Annie and her father, but overall it's a sweet, goofy, light-hearted Day in the Limelight episode for Kat. The next chapter is "Memories of the Worthless".
  • Brick Joke:
  • Broken Pedestal: Diego to Kat. Big time.
    • Both of Annie's parents: Annie's kind and loving mother was honey-trapping Rey which caused him to steal a man's body which killed him (evidently a mutual friend's) and her strong, intelligent father is capable both willful ignorance (completely dismissing the aetheric while working for an institute that studies it and living with people who utilize it) and weakness (being taken advantage of and bullied by various human and supernatural entities).
  • Bullying a Dragon: Subverted. Coyote appears to fly into a rage after Annie flicks his nose for being a prat, but it's just another one of his antics.
  • Callousness Towards Emergency: The Court knew all along that Antimony would die falling into the Annan river and didn't lift a finger to stop it. If anything, their reaction was mild annoyance that whatever allowed her to survive after all messed up the machine they use to predict the future. Antimony is enraged when the retired former leader of the Shadow Men admits this to her.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water:
    • The Annan Waters provide a natural and etherically-enforced barrier between the Court and the Wood.
    • Notably subverted with Jeanne, who despite Muut's initial insistence to the contrary, can cross the Waters. In fact, she's the one that makes the Waters uncrossable, by dicing up anything that tries.
  • Captain Obvious: Touch the bat!
    (Kat touches the bat)
    Bat: Credentials verified.
    Receptionist: That means your credentials are verified.
    Kat: Awesome?
  • Cassandra Truth: When Annie warns Kat that Zimmy has prophesized that Kat will kill Zimmy with her own hands, Kat immediately dismisses the idea and resumes her extremely dangerous science project without so much as considering what might go wrong.
  • The Cavalry: The TicTocs. The Stable Time Loop of their creation means that, in short, they were invented solely to save Annie when she fell off the bridge.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The incredibly metaphor-dense nature of some of the symbols makes a lot of future plot points hinted at way in advance of their actual usage.
    • The etheric scar which Annie received from Jeanne's sword in Chapter 8 has been repeatedly alluded to throughout the story, as it remains on her face, clearly visible to all etherically sensitive individuals. Its true significance still remains a mystery.
      • Before Jeanne and That Elf are sent to the Aether by Annie, Jeanne notices the scar, and wipes it away as if it were a smudge of dirt.
    • Eglamore handed Annie a beacon just in case she was ever in trouble while visiting the Wood. After being forgotten for about 19 chapters, she finally gets to use it.
    • The power buttons on top of the Seraph robots' heads. Loaded under everyone's noses all the way back on page 9 finally gets fired on page 1141.
  • Chew-Out Fake-Out: In this scene.
  • Chiaroscuro: In the etherium, everything seems to glow in the dark, and highlights and shadows alike are more pronounced than in the ordinary world.
  • Clingy MacGuffin: Blinker stones...but only when the owner wants them to be.
  • Color-Coded Speech: Annie's speech bubbles have a slight red tint, and Kat's have a slight blue tint.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Jones basically compliments Annie in this page by responding to a description of Shadow's friendliness and open-mindedness with "He sounds a little like you, Annie.", but Annie takes it literally.
  • The Conspiracy: The Court is highly secretive, has projects with creepy undertones suggesting hidden agendas, uses a lot of Sinister Surveillance, and experiments with the ether towards a mysterious goal. Eglamore states that the Court only lets you see what they want you to see, and hides behind bureaucracy to maintain plausible deniability.
  • Cosmetic Catastrophe: The results of Kat's first attempt to use makeup were not pretty.
  • Country Matters: Ouch.
  • Crafted from Animals: An interesting version occurs, when Coyote pulls out his own tooth and gifts it to Antimony. Being a magical tooth, it transforms into a blade so sharp that it can slice a shadow off the ground.
  • Cringe Comedy: The strips of Jack trying to hit on Annie after he was freed from spider control were painfully awkward for the both of them and the audience.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Reynardine and Ysengrin are based off Reynaerde/Renard the fox and Ysengrimus the wolf, respectively, from Medieval European folklore tales like Reynard the Fox. Muut, Coyote, and the Glass-Eyed Men are from Native American myth. There's also several ghosts, fairies, and, for good measure, a flashback montage featuring every Psychopomp, ever. Chang'e, Brynhildr, and the Minotaur (of Chinese, Norse, and Greek mythology, respectively) have also made appearances.
  • Crush the Keepsake: This is how Ysengrin managed to re-empower Annie back in Chapter 54: Meetings and Re-Meetings. She was using the Blinker Stone Mort gave to her, said stone being the only piece of memory she ever had of the Deader than Dead Mort, and after the events of Chapter 51: The Tree, it was the only thing keeping her etheric self separated from her. Ys took said stone and crushed it, fusing Annie's self and her etheric self back together in the process.
  • Cryptic Conversation: Invoked and then immediately lampshaded by Coyote, Ysengrin, and Annie:
    Antimony: Coyote, can you tell me, what is Gunnerkrigg Court?
    Coyote: Why... It is man's endeavor to become God! How is that for an enigmatic answer?
    Ysengrin: Very enigmatic. It barely answers anything at all.
    Antimony: In fact, it raises more questions than before.
  • Curiosity Killed the Cast: Not the lethal kind, but there were rather close calls. Curiosity also starts several plots, and often proves helpful when combined with compassion.
  • Curse Cut Short:
  • Cutting the Knot:
    • Jones' way of dispelling fancy magic runes: crush the devices generating them in her indestructible hands. She later gets past a towering concrete wall, which Jack built a bridge over, by punching her way through it.
    • In one of Dr Disaster's simulations, Smitty finds the MacGuffin almost immediately because of his ability to create order.
    • After Anthony's callous treatment shocks Annie to the point that she seals her emotions inside her blinker stone, the next two chapters are an uneasy standoff among the main characters. Ysengrin then takes one look at her, brushes off her rationalizations, reminds her of what she's accomplished without her father, and shatters the stone.
    • How does Loup get rid of Jones, who is totally indestructible and super strong to a ridiculous degree? Just throw her into orbit, where her strength is useless to help her get back.
  • Day in the Life: Played with in ch. 40, which, for several pages, is a series of past events in Jones' life, from the day before the first page's events to billions of years previous. Little's been revealed so far except that the next medium has been chosen, based on Jones' recommendation, the previously-hinted-at relationship between Jones and Eglamore has a lot of layers to it, and that Jones doesn't age, and part of her taking others' names is to keep this a secret. She also doesn't consider herself to be alive, and doesn't know what she is.
  • Death Glare:
  • Deface of the Moon:
  • Delayed Reaction: In chapter 41, after Smitty, not Annie, is picked as Court medium, Parley, Smitty, and Annie start reacting as if Annie had been picked instead. It takes them a whole page to realize what happened, then they freeze with their previous smiles still in place.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • "Spacemonauts! The evil Enigmarons are threatening the Earth from their moon base on the moon!"
    • The creepy space aliens from outer space.
  • Discovering Your Own Dead Body: A variation: In the flashback to Mort's death, young Mort sees his own helmet, bloodied, while he's still wearing one.
  • Do Androids Dream?: The Court robots seem to have personalities and their own society out of sight of the humans, and they are explicitly trying to figure out their "purpose" beyond merely being custodians of the Court. One of the biggest questions they seek an answer to is why their creator, Diego, would engineer the death of someone he loved. They also think of Kat as an angel.
  • Does Not Like Magic: For an Extranormal Institute that actively collects people with magical talents, the Court's inner ranks have an intense hatred for all things magic. This is partially because it's a Black Box, partially because of petty jealousy. Their ultimate goal is to escape the ether that makes magic possible.
  • Dope Slap: Gamma to Zimmy.
  • Doppelmerger: Loup screwing around with time results in two copies of Antimony Carver: one who returned to the Court immediately after a visit to Gillitie Wood, and one who tried to return immediately but instead arrived months later. After enough chapters for two Annies to become the new status quo, Zimmy uses her even-less-understood powers to abruptly fuse both Annies back together.
  • Downer Ending: Of "Red's Friend Gets A Name Too I Suppose" and Annie's friendship with Red and Ayilu. While she never raises her voice to Annie, Red is so upset that Annie almost got Ayilu killed that she tells her to never speak to her or Ayilu ever again. End of chapter.
  • Driving Question: What exactly is Gunnerkrigg Court?
  • Dramatic Irony: In "Snare", Annie, Kat, Renardine and Jerrek are setting a trap for Loup. But Jerrek is Loup, so naturally, he's prepared.
  • Easily Detachable Robot Parts: Sometimes.
  • Environmental Symbolism
  • Epic Fail: Pretty much any time the court robots try to keep something secret from the students. Like posting signs telling you where the secret stuff is.
  • Epic Hail: One of the many uses for Blinker Stones.
  • Esoteric Motifs: Strange symbols abound at the school — although some signs are less "mystical" than you'd expect.
  • Magitek: A lot of Ethereal sciences, but some more than others, like literally Magical Computer.
  • Everybody Knew Already:
  • Everyone Can See It: As both Kat and Reynardine point out, everyone can see that Jerrek is into Annie, except Annie. Kat in particular is really enthusiastic. She probably wouldn't be if she knew that "Jerrek" is actually Loup in disguise.
  • Exact Words: When Bobby is asked if he wrote a certain love letter to Kat, he says yes, because he did. But he wasn't the one who came up with the content- that was Paz.
  • Explosive Leash: Downplayed. Coyote gives Annie an Absurdly Sharp Blade made from his tooth. He then wraps a band around her wrist which would cut her hand off if she were to tell anyone about it. The band eventually comes off, though.
    Tom: Reminder: Coyote ain't your bro.
  • Faustian Rebellion: Coyote doesn't even finish a sentence after granting Ysengrin his strength before being attacked.
  • Fling a Light into the Future: The original Magitec robots didn't have the means to reproduce, so they designed the modern court robots as their successors.
  • Flipping the Bird: Since he doesn't have fingers, Reynardine does the "up yours" equivalent to Annie for being put in timeout.
  • The Force: The Ether, which, like the Trope Namer, infuses all living things, can be directly harnessed only by a few humans, and bestows upon its users the abilities of telekinesis, clairvoyance, teleportation, flight, and superhuman speed and jumping abilities, and can even be used to create Magitek like 'etheric computers', which can project Deflector Shields or bind people/things if their users will it.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Antimony, Kat, Alistair. It shows up again when Annie runs off after seeing Kat and Paz together. Annie later explains that while she is genuinely happy for them, she's also afraid that she'll be left by the wayside. It might also show up for Zimmy, Gamma, and Jack, as Jack can now communicate to Gamma in Zimmy's world and Zimmy is fearful of both losing even a bit of Gamma's affections (they know Jack has a girlfriend) and accidentally hurting Jack again. Reinforced by a treatise which shows a triangle with the letters Zeta (Zimmy), Gamma, and Iota (I substitutes for J in Latin as anyone who's seen Indiana Jones knows).
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: Basil's backstory.
  • A Friend in Need
  • Functional Magic: All kinds.
  • Gay Euphemism: When Paz mistakenly thinks that Kat is flirting with her, she stammers that "I'm not... like that...", which takes Kat a moment to understand her meaning.
  • Gratuitous Greek: Gamma and Zimmy (Zeta). Also the Omega project.
  • Gratuitous Iambic Pentameter: A subtle but very powerful use at the painfully emotional climax of chapter 30:
    Jeanne: And you, coddled child of that damned place, you come here to mock me with this gleaming heart of yours. This luxury, afforded by my death... it should be mine to take.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The Guardbots, Doorbot.
  • Ham-to-Ham Combat: Parley and Mort improvised it once.
  • Hard Light:
    • Dr. Disaster's simulations.
    • The Glass-Eyed Men seem to be made of pure shadow, but Kat deduces that they're actually just very thin layer of matter that may as well be a layer of light. Or, you know, dark.
  • Harmony Versus Discipline: In just about every sense, from magic, nature, and world view, the Court and Gillitie woods are opposed. The Court favors rational methods, control, and gray expansive industrialization. The Wood represents nature, unbound and at times terrifying.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Thanks for clearing that up, Annie.
  • Headbutt of Love: Annie and Kat in chapter 45 after they talk out some issues. And again in chapter 51 as they take the first step in tackling a problem.
  • Her Boyfriend's Jacket: In Chapter 14 Kat can be seen wearing the T-shirt of her brief love interest, Alistair, who left her his personal belongings after he had to turn into a bird and leave.
  • Hijacking Cthulhu: One of the Court's longterm goals is to steal Coyote's power. He says that they've tried it more than once.
  • Hot Skitty-on-Wailord Action:
    • Apparently, Annie and her mother are descended from a cross between a human and a Fire Elemental.
      Coyote: What an interesting first union that must have been...
    • To say nothing of Bud and Lindsay...
  • Hug and Comment: Chapter 32 ends with Annie and Kat hugging, and then Kat saying "Annie ... I love you and everything, so ... it is with love that I must inform you that you really gotta take a shower."
    • Also occurs in Chapter 45. Kat hugs Renard, who smells Paz's scent on her. He voices his approval of Kat's choice of girlfriend.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Chapter 29:
    Paz: The Court isn't a big monster that does as it pleases. Es a collection of people, working to do what they think is right. And, over time, other people see what is wrong, what mistakes were made, and work hard to fix them.
  • Illness Blanket: When Kat's love interest Aly hurries off, she fears he's ill when she sees him wrapped in a blanket. Subverted as he wasn't sick, he was just turning into a bird.
  • Important Haircut:
    • Both Annie and Kat start wearing their hair differently after the incident on the bridge.
    • Later, half a chapter is devoted to a visit to the barber.
      Tom: Thank you for reading this chapter about girls getting haircuts.
    • Played with more than played straight.
    • Kat gets another one after her opinion about the Court changes in Chapter 29.
    • And once again, Annie and Kat have noticeably different hair after the summer holiday between chapters 31 and 32, Annie having grown hers longer than it ever was and begun to tie it back, and Kat having cut hers shorter than it ever was, accentuating the growing rift between them.
    • And even further in Chapter 51, where Annie cuts her hair short after complying with her father's demands. Chapter 52 reveals that in doing this she also cut herself off from her fire elemental side, and thus the bulk of her anger towards her father and her situation in general. PS She actually did a terrible job of cutting it and went to the barberbot to clean it up
  • Inconvenient Summons: Parley, to herself.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun:
    • Kat completely unabashedly tossing off this line is just one of the many ways she's so very lovable.
      Kat: It may be empty but it's full of potential!
    • Annie's attempts at humor are a bit more...forced.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    • Annie is not the most socially adroit, even when she's giving her friends some alone time. Said friends immediately Lampshade it.
      Antimony: Well then! If you will excuse me. I have [Beat Panel] [Marches away]
      Alistair: She's not very subtle, is she?
    • In chapter 78, Anthony is painfully awkward when excusing himself:
      Anthony: Well, I better go. I think I… something. [Walks out of the house without putting on shoes]
  • Info Drop: This was standard practice in the early run. At the end of each chapter was a bonus page, giving details of the school and surrounding areas.
  • In Medias Res: Chapter 42 starts with Annie and Smitty running from something in the forest. It doesn't show how they got to that point until later. This is because the story is being told by Annie to Kat, and that's where Annie started the story.
  • Insomnia Episode: Zimmy doesn't sleep. When infected with the spiders around Zimmy's mind, Jack Hyland also becomes sleepless for a short while, and gets more and more mentally unstable until Zimmy finally removes them.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: After telling Kat she'll have to go to jail and getting a very angry response from Annie, the interpreter rushes to reassure them:
    Interpreter: Oh! Don't worry, it's not a physical jail! It's more like… a state of having your mind permanently restricted so you can't cause trouble. […]
    [Saslamel says something]
    Interpreter: Oh… Saslamel says it's a physical jail, too.
  • Insult Friendly Fire
  • Interspecies Romance:
    • Sort of. Poor, poor Kat...
    • Reynardine, with an unrequited love.
    • What appears to be a Puppy Love (potentially to develop further) between Robot and Shadow 2.
    • Bob and Marcia, a human and a dryad.
    • Jeanne and her elf lover.
    • Antimony's ancestors.
      Coyote: I admire man's ability to see beauty in everything! Even a flame!
    • Juliette and Arthur, a human and a robot.
  • Intoxication Ensues: Cherry-induced tipsiness.
  • Ironic Echo: Eglamore responds to the students' complaints about camping in the cold with "Good question. Night!" At the chapter's end, the sleeping arrangements have reversed, and Annie tells Eggers: "You know where the tents are. Night!"
  • Ironic Episode Title: "Chapter 90: Coyote Knew This Would Happen". It turns out Coyote did not know the incident in question (Loup/Jerrek falling in love with Lana) would happen — he had anticipated him falling in love with Annie instead.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: John and Margo are both adorkable.
    John: Uh... I—uh, I mean, it was—I had a... a, you know...
    Margo: M-me too!
  • Kick the Dog: In Chapter 31, Renardine and Annie get into a big fight where they just start kicking the crap out of each other. First, Renard dresses Annie down for cheating on her homework and goes on a tangent about how he would probably have been a better father than Anthony to Annie and that he is a Jerkass that doesn't care about anyone, the latter being a common but somewhat biased opinion of the man. Annie loses it at the jealous, protective fox and straight up tells him that her mom never loved him and that it was all a cruel trick to capture him which Anja very pointedly told her to keep secret. Renard, grief-stricken and infuriated (and unable to change into his more mature wolf form by Annie) then tells Annie that her birth is what killed her mother and that she had to take her to the afterlife because there was nothing left for the Guides to take. Annie breaks then and there and you can just see the guilt on Renard's face and Annie flees Gunnerkrigg in tears.
  • Kill It with Fire: As of Fire Spike, traumatizing Annie is a really bad idea.
  • Lame Last Words: The Realm of the Dead records the final statements of the newly deceased, which Annie and Kat use to investigate the Court Founders. One's is an eloquent statement about his hopes for the future. The other's...
    Steadman's recording: I really wish I hadn't tripped over that damned dog.
    Annie and Kat: Huh.
  • Lap Pillow: A moment of domestic tranquility.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Coyote removes the memory of Ysengrin's insane attack on Antimony (and possibly more than that) from his mind, against his will. This apparently isn't the first time this has happened, by far.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In chapter 80, Jones questions Annie about how she's doing after the events of the previous chapter. The way she words the question ("People are curious about […]. They wonder about […]") and the way Annie is framed in the final panel as she replies make it appear as if Jones is asking on behalf of the audience and Annie is personally reassuring them.
  • Letter Motif: Gunnerkrigg, Gillitie, Good Hope: the letter G seems to be important. One wonders what this implies about Miss Gamma Czarnecki.
  • A Light in the Distance: Annie, lost and alone in the Annan gorge, sees a light on the opposite shore. It's Jeanne. Things don't go well.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Averted. The characters wear all kinds of clothes, appropriately to the situation. And the two female protagonists even change their hairstyle regularly.
  • Literal Metaphor: Both Renard and Coyote repeatedly told Annie almost word for word "You have a fire in you, fire that belonged to your mother". This turned out to be not a runaway compliment, but a fairly straightforward, concise and accurate statement.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Kat to Annie, Gamma to Zimmy, Annie to Renard, Shadow to Robot, Jenny to Jack.
  • Love Makes You Crazy, Evil, and Dumb: According to Something Awful's Gunnerkrigg thread a major theme (if not the theme) of the comic is "Love makes you do strange things":
    • Zimmy and Gamma: Zimmy declares she'd "kill the whole world and then herself" if Gamma asked. It's later revealed she deliberately mistranslates what people say to Gamma so they think they're insulting her so she won't become friends with other people (and also risk getting caught up in one of Zimmy's "episodes"). Zimmy later endures seasickness because Gamma wanted to go on a cruise.
    • Diego and Jeanne: Diego made countless robot "children" out of love for Jeanne, however she didn't like him that way and then rejected him so hard he concocted a plan to kill her and her lover and make her suffer at the bottom of a gorge for all time. Jeanne's ghost later attacks Parley because she's disgusted by Parley's "coward heart" — she's embarrassed to admit her love for Smitty (a year younger and a head shorter) while Jeanne, y'know, risked death and lost to be with her lover.
    • Reynardine: Fell in love with Surma and killed a man to be with her... too bad she was just honey-trapping him for the Court
    • The Carver family: Surma got pregnant even though she knew it would kill her; Tony put all his medical skills into saving Surma despite the fact that it was probably useless since her problem was aetherical; when Surma died Tony declared he had "killed" her and that Annie surely hated him for it (she didn't); he later went on a quest to see if he could just see Surma one more time and his ignorance almost cost Annie her life; the only reason he's alive is because the Court found him and forced him to return, and then only for Annie's sake; Annie remains loyal to her father and spurns anyone who dares question his years-long absence.
    • Annie and Jack: Annie plays hard to get but Jack takes her seriously and is actually relived because he doesn't want to deal with her baggage and he's actually in love/obsessed with Zimmy.
      • Jack and Jenny: Jenny is aware of Jack's feelings for Zimmy but she accepts it
    • Robot and Kat: Robot literally worships Kat and has built a cult around her and her abilities; he later risks the lives of everyone on the cruise ship and possibly reality just to get Kat thinking about her biological experiments again (he also happens to get the Seraph bots who scrapped him "excommunicated", though he did warn them that could happen)
      • On a more positive note, Robot and Shadow: after hurting his new "biologic" arm Robot is ruminating on the new sensation he dubs "pain"; while he's doing this the comic panels get a red border which suddenly disappears the moment he sees Shadow.
    • Janet and Willy: Have been hiding their relationship for so long no one believes their sarcastic confession and for some reason (probably the fact that Janet's dad is the headmaster) they won't reveal themselves, and yet even Annie noticed they're always near each other and they once did a very long play about being married.
    • Ysengrin and Coyote: Ysengrin is completely loyal to Coyote in spite of the latter's abuse Coyote removing Ysengrin's memories of "acting out" also helps, though Ysengrin admits he hates Coyote sometimes.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Hello Parley! How did you get here?
  • Magic A Is Magic A: It's implied that all magic follows specific rules. So far, the best covered is Rey's Demonic Possession — e.g. he's able to occupy a toy simply because it has eyes.
    • Reynardine is also bound in the wolf toy and forced to obey Antimony because he chose to inhabit an item she possessed ownership of, which is why he hasn't just jumped to something else.
    • Also, when Coyote gives away a power, it gains a side effect it didn't have when Coyote had it, like Ysengrin's artificial tree-body and his atrophied real body, and the fact that if Renard takes over a body, it dies when he leaves and the original owner is extinguished when he enters. There's also the fact that any power Coyote gives, he can't use until he takes it back.
  • Magic Versus Science:
    • Mostly because their philosophical disagreement between their practitioners. Ironically, mixing the methodologies seems to bring the most impressive results and according to a history lesson by Jones may have been the Court's purpose in the first place.
    • Annie and Kat seem to embody these, respectively.
  • Magical Underpinnings of Reality: Where psychopomps are concerned.
  • Magitek: What happens when science and the etherical combine; interestingly this also describes certain couples:
    • Anja and Donald combine their powers to help the court. Interestingly their abilities are described with technological terms (IE the bindings they put on Rey are "programs" not "spells").
    • Paz (and City Face) inspires Kat to create bio-mechanical parts.
    • Jenny creates a "seeking spell" to guide Jack's drone.
  • Matricide: An interesting example, where Annie kills her mother without realizing it by simply being alive, due to them both being fire elementals. However, in chapter 36, her father is confirmed alive.
  • Meaningful Echo:
    "I'll save you, little girl!"
    • From Episode 25:
      "Love makes you act in strange ways."
  • Meaningful Rename: The fox trickster's proper name is Renard. "Reynardine" he got from Surma. When she played with him. Which changed his life, eventually bringing him into the story's situation.
  • Mechanical Evolution: The robots are an inversion: they evolved into simpler forms over time. Their creator was a genius, and the designs of his first generation of robots defied understanding; so after he died, the robots had to simplify their designs in order to maintain themselves.
  • Memento MacGuffin:
    • Annie's pendant, and later the photo of her parents as children... and the toy wolf.
    • Surma's gift James always carries with him. "Handy and practical".
  • Metaphorgotten: "Better to have loved and lost than to be... dead or something." "I don't think that's how the saying goes."
  • Misfit Mobilization Moment: Occurs in "Residential", when the Queslett students band together to find out where their classmates have been disappearing to.
  • Mind Screw:
    • Chapter 38: Divine, straight from the get go. Have fun trying to figure it out.
    • Coyote's "interesting thought experiment," as Jones calls it: Coyote says he put the stars in the sky. There are many other supernatural creatures from different human cultures who claim the same. Jones says the stars were in the sky before anything existed to put them there (and she would know, since she was there to see them while the Earth was still a ball of magma). None of these people are lying, and they're not mistaken either.
  • Mistaken for Romance: In Annie in the Forest Part 2, one of the elves asks Annie if she has "a love back home". Annie answers 'Kat', which they take at first to mean a boy she likes.
  • Moment of Weakness: Annie and Reynard do this to each other in Chapter 31.
  • Mood Whiplash: Typically occurs for both the characters (i.e. as a narrative trope) and the readers at the same time. Best example so far is probably the scene where Ysengrin goes berserk and nearly kills Annie, and Coyote forcibly removes his memory of the incident. Next page, Mort Fun Time!
  • Moon Rabbit: In chapter 34, which deals with short stories from supporting characters, Chang'E visits the court with her rabbit to discuss the mysterious fingerprint shape that appeared on the moon in a prior chapter.
  • Muggle Power: The Court actually hates magic users with a passion due to Tall Poppy Syndrome, but conversely needs them to achieve their goals. Rather than joining or killing magic users though, the Court's ultimate goal is to move elsewhere to a place where they can prevent magic from working.
  • Multi-Part Episode: Chapters 27 and 28: "Spring Heeled" and "Spring Heeled, Part 2". The plot arc spans both chapters, with part 2 picking up right where part 1 leaves off.
  • Mundane Utility: The blinker stones' amplifying powers have a wide variety of uses, including signal rocket and instant campfire; Annie has used hers as a torch and a psychic walkie-talkie, among other things. It also comes in handy for temporarily blinding Ysengrin when he's chasing her and Eglamore out of the forest.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: We're not privy as to how far it went but both Reynard and Coyote smell something interesting in chapter 41!
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Girl riding fox-possessed toy wolf. Branch-armed wolf-tree. A cab pulled by robot horse quoting Milton's Paradise Lost. Lawn-mowing and fire prevention via laser cows. A meteorology robot in a form of head-sized praying mantis. Proselytizing parkour robot.
  • Non-Answer: If you ask any of the court's residents how the court was built, they will just say that the founders made it. If you ask anyone else who might know, all they will say is that "It grew from the Seed Bismuth."
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The cursed teapot.
      Antimony: We've seen stranger. What about that cursed teapot?
      Kat: Yeahhhhhh... but that was... I don't even know what that was about.
    • Zimmy's entry on the science fair. All we see is a microscope and various people's reactions on The Thing.
  • No-Sell: The Court's Seraph model robots are immune to the electro-disruptor, a device Kat and her father have previously used to disable robots.
  • Not His Blood: To train her as the Medium of Gillitie Wood, Ysengrin brings Annie to a meeting with Forest creatures that quickly turns into an all-out brawl. She and Ysengrin quickly beat them into submission, but her friends are a bit startled to see her come back with her clothes charred and splattered with Ysengrin's blood.
  • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: After Paz tries unsuccessfully hitting on Matt and learns that he already likes Chang'e, Kat tries to comfort her, causing Paz to think she's being hit on. Kat says that that wasn't her intention, but then a somewhat interested Paz says that there's nothing wrong with that if that's what Kat was doing setting up Paz asking her out some time later.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • A Giant Enemy Crab Kat believes Annie arranged as an apology? Creepy, but manageable. Noticing that Annie is staring in slack-jawed horror/confusion and clearly had nothing to do with it? Yeah, time to be scared. Complete with Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises.
    • Kat's father is very happy when he realizes that the coded message Antimony's father sent makes sense once you include him saying Antimony's name at the start, until he realizes the implications this has for an already upset Annie.
    • Ysengrin, after Antimony flicks Coyote's nose as her way of saying she won't tell him stories.
  • One-Paragraph Chapter: Chapter 55 consists of a single page and is implied in advance to involve a heist to steal Reynardine back from Annie's father. Instead, she tells her father she wants to have Renard back, and her father hands him back with barely a word.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Jerrek/Loup attempts this with Annie, by agreeing to go out with Lana. It doesn't work; she tells him she's happy for him.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Reynardine and Zimmy were called demons at some point. No guarantee in the first case it was not a popular simplification, and the second was confirmed to be only an invective.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Rogat Orjaks ("horned giant" in Slovenian) are explicitly stated to be dragon-kin, but not the same as "usual" dragons. One is quoted making a distinctly Take That! remark on the subject of "those [common dragons]".
  • Our Fairies Are Different: "Regional Fairies" are so-called because they have spots on their shoulders showing which "region" they're from. They learn little kinds of magic (like rusting metal) and are said to come of age when they make their own clothes. Red and Ayilu are the only ones introduced in the main story. Others appeared only after becoming humans, as students in the Foley house.
    • Fairies look very different in the Aether, going from a tiny floating humanoid to a... construction of light, limbs, and gossamer.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Mort, the Ghost with the Sword, the dead boy in the hospital, a blind man's ghost mentioned by Kat in her letters over the summer break, and the dead couple haunting the musical instruments are all different from each other. This will probably all be explained eventually. Maybe.
  • Our Souls Are Different: They can be removed and transferred to other bodies, but for all his powers Coyote can't create them "from nothing" (apparently the Glass-Eyed Men don't count).
    • Turns out Red and Ayilu are different from other fairies: they're "hollow fairies" born with their souls almost completely separated from their bodies. This is somehow related to the Court's plans (it "wants what it wants") and presumably applies to all fairies who become human and join the Court.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Red's ridiculous reaction to Ayilu wanting to hang out with her lasts one whole page, dedicated to the Red simply going "PPPPBBBTTTTHHHHHPPBPTHTHHHH"
    Tom: Here it is. The best page of Gunnerkrigg Court.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Annie said she was clearly a robot. Just look at her antennae! And robots never lienote .
  • Parental Abandonment: After Surma's death, Annie's father sends her to Gunnerkrigg Court and then vanishes without bothering to tell her. We are told that she will not hear from him again for two years. Every so often we see beneath Annie's stoic facade to see how much this hurts her. There are hints here and there that he might have always been distant (to everyone but Surma).
  • Perspective Magic: Coyote uses this, being one of the fundamental trickster deities.
  • Pet the Dog: Ysengrin is the gruff, brutish and misanthropic wolf who ferociously guards the Gillittie Woods. But every now and then he is genuinely kind towards Annie - albeit in his rather gruff way.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    Kat: I love the Princess Mononoke look you got going on!
    Antimony: My what?
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Court is willing to do anything to accomplish its goals, including making the occasional sacrifice.
    • The chasm dividing the Court from the forest is guarded, on the Court's side, by a ghostly woman in a white gown, who Annie learns early on is Barred from the Afterlife for initially unknown reasons. In chapter 25, it's revealed that she was a founding member of the Court, who the other founders sacrificed in some sort of ritual after she spurned one of them for an elf from the forest. It gets worse in chapter 30, when a flashback explains the details of her death: she was sent down into the chasm, forced to watch her lover get shot, then was left to die of starvation and exposure. The Despair Event Horizon she crossed is the source of her power, and the reason why she can't leave.
    • The Court's Portal Pool allows them to very literally sail the stars. They ultimately plan to separate themselves from the rest of humanity so that they can live in a world without magic. The problem is, they need a power source strong enough to transport all of them. They were originally planning to take Coyote as a Captured Super-Entity, but after they determine that to be too difficult, they decide to substitute Zimmy as their backup plan.
  • Precision F-Strike: In chapter 72, when Annie finds out that she's been inside an illusion, she curses, something she'd never been shown doing before.
  • Prosthetic Limb Reveal: When Antimony's father Anthony finally appears in person after years of absence, Annie is shocked to discover that one of the things that's changed about him is a prosthetic right hand, which she hadn't noticed until she spoke to him in private. He shuts down her attempts to question him about it immediately after.
  • Quieting the Unquiet Dead: Psychopomps sometimes seek human aid when a ghost refuses to go with them into the Ether. In Antimony's first case, she helped a young child admit that he was dead and realize that the scary spectral figures were there to to help him.
  • Random Transportation: Parley had that going on for a while.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Red gives a light, if devastating, one to Annie in Chapter 61, following the events of the previous chapter, pointing out her selfish actions nearly getting both her friend and Smitty killed, and how she essentially coerced Red's friend down there by promising her a name, something important to faeries, but almost entirely inconsequential to humans. She ends it by saying that Annie should never try to talk to them again.
  • Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: Deliberately invoked by Annie in "From The Forest She Came". Hilarity Ensues.
  • Rescue Romance:
    • Subverted in Chapter 34.
  • The Reveal: Happens a lot.
    • The biggest one though, in chapter 43, answered a question that had been around since almost the beginning of the comic, that is, that Renard actually did try to possess Annie knowing full well it would kill her. Something he horribly regrets.
  • Robot Antennae: Antimony invokes this trope by wearing a headband with false star-shaped antennae so she could sneak into an area restricted only to robots. The robot guard is completely fooled by her Paper-Thin Disguise; ironically most of the actual robots don't have antennae.
  • Roof Hopping:
    • Eglamore
    • Robot S13's parkour-capable body.
  • Rotating Arcs
  • Rule of Cool: Laser cows.
    Just like real cows! Only with lasers.
  • School Uniforms are the New Black: Averted except for the students who used to be creatures that lived in the forest.
  • Science Fair: Chapter 5.
  • Secret Legacy: Everything we learn about Annie's parents suggests that she's following in their footsteps. Kat has inherited a thing or two as well.
  • Sex Dressed: Relax, it was with Mr. and Mrs. Donlan.
  • Ship Tease: Kat and Paz, with a lot of Bait-and-Switch.
  • Shadow Archetype: The recurring theme of duality in the narrative makes this fairly common in both characters and other elements of the world, though it's sometimes difficult to tell who or what the 'shadow' is.
  • Shrine to the Fallen: Diego and his robots have one for Jeanne. Overlaps with Stalker Shrine, considering how he acted towards her when she was alive.
  • Shapeshifting: Coyote can change his shape at will, usually by stretching himself.
  • Sherlock Scan: Ms. Jones, here:
    Suddenly I am wearing a party hat.
    This is likely to have been placed by someone who can teleport with unerring accuracy.
    Perhaps with the aid of someone who can distort probability.
    Their relationship seems to be coming along well.
  • Shrouded in Myth: "Chapter 48: Tall Tales" starts with two Gilitie Woods-dwellers talking about the amazing accomplishments of Annie and Smitty, the new mediums, before their "proper" introductions to the Woods.
  • Signs of Disrepair: John and Margo, looking for a replacement mandolin, came across a closet marked :Cursed instruments.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The court keeps its students constantly tracked with supplements in their food. Anthony himself attempts to escape the court's eye, and expresses despondence at how the court was able to find him regardless and probably knew what he was doing all along. When he and Donald hold a private conversation, he has to take measures to ensure they are unable to eavesdrop.
  • Something-Nauts: Parodied in Dr. Disaster's simulation games, which cast the students as "Spacemonauts" acting out a cheesy pulp sci-fi storyline.
  • Something Only They Would Say: William wants to know whether Annie is real. She gives him a look, then points at Janet, demonstrating her knowledge of their Secret Relationship.
  • Sorkin Relationship Moment: A non-romantic version. Kat calls out Antimony and Reynardine's awkwardness, and demands that they be friends again, while holding a pair of wire strippers.
  • Splitting the Arrow: "Fancy shooting" as performed by Janet and Willy.
  • Stable Time Loop: In Chapter 76, it's revealed that the Tic-Tocs exist in the past because Kat would invent them in the future. Kat invents them because they saved Annie in a previous year, which could only happen because Kat invented them.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In chapter 1, Annie tries to figure out how to get Shadow 2 across the bridge to the forest. Shadow 2 can only travel in shadow, but the bridge is bathed in light. While Annie can provide him cover using her own shadow, she is forbidden from leaving school grounds, so she cannot walk him across the bridge herself. She concludes that there is "only one sensible solution":
    Annie: I must construct a robotic walking device which will provide you with transit across the bridge!
    In chapter 30, Annie and Kat are trying to throw Annie's blinker stone into the ravine so that it lands on the shoreline on their side, but it keeps missing and landing in the water instead. As Kat puts it, the problem is that the ravine is so deep that only dropping it straight down from the edge will work, but they are not allowed to get close to the edge. Kat is struck by an idea:
    Kat: I could construct a robotic throwing device which will provide the stone with transit to the river's edge!
    Annie: What an… odd thing to say.
    The Rant: I agree. Kinda convoluted.
  • String Theory: In a bonus comic, Kat uses a cork board displaying a bunch of articles connected by tacks and strings to explain the background of Death Stranding to Annie.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Annie and Surma. It's strong enough that Ethereal beings occasionally confuse them, and Eglamore calls Annie by her mum's name in the heat of the moment. Turns out there's a reason for this: Annie and Surma are descended from fire elementals, and as soon as Annie was born she began absorbing her mother's spirit.
  • Summon to Hand: The Blinker Stone allows its owner to do this.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial:
  • Survival Mantra:
    "Always remember one thing..."
  • Sweetie Graffiti: "S & B" (Spinach & Beanhead).
  • Switching P.O.V.: Mind Screwy version where we, without warning, switch away from Antimony and to a character who believes herself to be someone else.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: One of the reasons the Court hates magic so much is because of petty jealousy. A few beings are gifted with supernatural talents others do not have, which most of the Court feels is unfair. One of the conditions to make it into the Court's inner ranks is to give up or stop using any etheric talents one may possess so as to avoid hurting the feelings of their other members. For that same reason, when the Court decides to leave their old, ruined territory to form a new Court, they ban anyone with etheric abilities from joining them, abandoning them to the old Court.
  • Take Off Your Clothes: Invoked by Jack, but denied.
  • Tears from a Stone: "Kat forgot to mention the docking station also has tear glands".
  • Teleportation Rescue: Done when Parley rescues Annie from Jeanne after the latter ghost traps Annie while Annie is trying to use her blinker stone.
  • Teleport Spam: Bip. Bip. Bip.
  • Temporal Duplication: What happens when Loup decides to use his newfound powers distort and slow down the flow of time in Gillitie Woods: he pulls at least one Annie out of another timeline to send back to the Court while he keeps another Annie with him to discuss the return of Coyote's gifts. And it's implied that neither Annie is the original from the present timeline. Then after Kat wracks her brain over the intricacies of what has happened, she reveals to the two Annies that she invented a single Tic-Toc which has apparently been every Tic-Toc in existence up to that point.
  • Tempting Fate: Invoked once (which in itself, of course, counts as a straight use).
  • There Are No Therapists: Between Annie's mother's death, learning that Surma knowingly died to give birth to her, her Parental Abandonment by her father, being emotionally shattered by her father's harshness and coldness upon his return, and her debilitating anger issues, the lack shows. Lampshaded when she seeks emotional help from Ysengrin, who's borderline insane himself.
  • They Died Because of You: Delivered in a devastating, defensive rant by Reynardine to Annie. The effect is instantaneous, and doubles as a Wham Line.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Time travel isn't scientifically possible with the current technology of the world. However, it certainly appears to be etherically possible. Now Kat just has to figure out how she did it to send her one Tic-Toc back in time multiple times to enforce the Stable Time Loops her future self has set in motion.
  • Title Drop:
    • In chapter 46 ("The Realm Of The Dead"), delivered dramatically by Mort.
      Annie: ROTD?
      Mort: It stands for
    • Chapter 57 ("Get It Together"), in a way.
      "I'm getting myself back together."
    • In Chapter 68 ("Neither"):
      Annie: You're making demands that neither Coyote nor Ysengrin would make.
      Loup: Because I am neither!
    • At the end of Chapter 75 ("She Gave Us An Ocean").
      "She gave us each an ocean."
  • Together in Death: In "The Other Shore", after what appears to have been centuries of Jeanne being stuck as a vengeful ghost and her lover's soul being trapped in a device, they are finally freed and able to pass into the ether together.
  • Tongue-Tied:
    Coyote: If you tell anyone in the forest about the tooth, even Ysengrin, this bind will snip off your hand.
  • Tracking Chip: The court places supplements in the students' food to continuously track them.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: In response to her father's return and his increasingly Jerkass-ish behavior, Annie, rather than at least try to deal with her anger and sadness, or perhaps seek consolation and advice from a sympathetic party, instead chooses to follow the advice of Ysengrin, whose sanity is questionable at the best of times, and uses her etheric powers to remove her negative emotions entirely and manifest them into a separate entity.
  • Training "Accident": Parodied in Chapter 24, in which the teachers take the class on a deliberately hellish camping trip from which pupils are intermittently abducted. The pupils very rapidly work out what's going on and rebel successfully against the teachers, occupying the farmhouse and making the teachers sleep in the cold tents.
  • Traumatic Haircut: Annie cuts her hair in Chapter 51, rather than it having been forced on her, as she seems to be experiencing some difficulty in controlling her emotions in response to her father's return, so she uses her etheric powers to cut her hair and remove her emotions at the same time.
    Kat: You're not supposed to have short hair! You're supposed to have long hair! I'm the one with short hair!
  • Trickster Mentor: Seems to be the Court's established modus operandi, at least to a degree: it's the playground for the individual initiative, even if it's occasionally acting "against" the rules or teachers. The unwritten rules seem to include "It's your project, tell me when you finish it" and "Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught". They also teach reasonable level of cooperation.
    • They have security measures clearly designed to provide a reasonable level of challenge for students inevitably bypassing them, such as obvious and regularly hacked motion detectors, or security robots that we saw circumvented with tricks, hacking and plain outrunning — compare this to their outrageously advanced and subtle technologies like the tracking system.
    • Giving less than waterproof mundane explainations for weird events with a straight face — that's combined with teaching good enough to reap mad scientist grade inventions.
  • Unperson: The Court's ultimate goal is to escape the Earth so they can be free of magic, which they have an intense hatred for. The planet they intend to colonize is supposedly free of ether. Since letting stories spread on Earth of how the Court escaped the world by sailing an ocean of stars would risk "contaminating" their magic free paradise with Earth's ether, they plan to erase all memories of both their plans and the people they brought with them when they leave Earth using special Magitek to inflict Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • The Unreveal:
    • Ysengrin tells Annie what Jones is — or tries to. It occurs off-panel and Annie does not elaborate. Subverted when she directly asks Jones, who summarizes her 4.6-billion-year existence, then double subverts it by admitting that she herself does not know what she is.
    • Annie and Smitty meet an androgynous, Ambiguously Human technician, whom Annie politely asks if they used to be a fairy or a forest creature. Their reply is "Neither, I'm from Cardiff". The next scene is Annie and Smitty walking around outside, confused.
  • Unseen No More: Annie's Disappeared Dad, whose fraught relationship with her and with his childhood acquaintances among the teachers is a major ongoing plot element, abruptly shows up with a teaching position in Chapter 51. Annie is just as stunned as everyone else.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Kat is able to activate (and de-activate) some of the old Court robots. To the modern robots, it looks as though she has the power to grant life and then take it away.
  • Visible Sigh: Antimony didn't ruin Red's life.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The Court's Seraph model robots are capable of flight, very capable in combat, immune to electro-disrupters, and can be turned off just by pressing a big red button on the top of their heads.
  • Wham Episode: So much that it has its own page.
  • Wham Line:
    • Pretty much three in a row from Chapter 31.
      • First off, Antimony to Reynardine:
        Antimony: She never loved you.
      • Reynardine's reply:
        Reynardine: You are the reason Surma died!
      • Finally, Coyote's own revelation to Antimony:
        Coyote: Don't tell me no one has told the girl she isn't exactly human!
    • When Annie tells Kat about her mother in Chapter 21:
      Muut: The day Surma died...none of us came to take her.
      Annie: I had to do it myself.
    • Annie's first word in her telephone conversation at the end of Chapter 36.
      Annie: ... Father?
    • In Chapter 39.
      Coyote: The reason I love humans so! The reason Ysengrin seethes with anger! My secret... is this... I. DO NOT. EXIST!
    • Living up to the chapter's name (Changes), in Chapter 41, Coyote changes everything.
      Coyote: Fire Head Girl! I want you to be my new Medium to the Court!
    • From Chapter 42
      Paz: The letter was from me, Kat.
    • From Chapter 44:
      Annie: Who are you?
      Spirit: I am the spirit of these ruins. I am The Seed Bismuth.
      • Though this is a subversion, as the spirit was lying.
    • From Chapter 46:
      Mort: I want you to take me into the ether.
    • After Annie makes a deal with the psychopomps to save Smitty's life
      Psychopomps: You belong to us now.
    • From Chapter 61:
      Red: And I know you an' me are kinda friends... But do me a favor and never talk to me or Ayilu ever again.
    • Chapter 64 is a flashback In-Universe one:
      Tony: No, it was to be a two-man expedition. It will have to be cancelled.
      Surma: Then I'll go with ya!
    • Chapter 71. Kat tries to get answers about the two Annies, and ends up revealing just how badly things have gotten screwed up:
      Kat: Can you... can you at least tell us which Annie shouldn’t be in this timeline?
      Interpreter: Oh, hmm... Well, it seems that neither of them should be here.
    • Chapter 76:
      Kat: Those birds, every one of them you've seen... each one that saved you when you fell off the bridge in year seven... I made them. They are all this same robot.
    • Chapter 81: Coyote is explaining to Annie some of the details of his Thanatos Gambit. Which is when he drops this bombshell:
      Annie: How was it beneficial for you to die?
      Coyote: Hehe, well, that is where you come in! When Loup absorbs the memories hidden in the lake water, he will know about the tooth I gave you. He will learn that I mean for you to kill him with it!
    • Chapter 82: Shell reveals the Court's plan:
      Annie: And what is this plan?
      Shell: In short... We're leaving. All the humans are going to leave the Court. Across the ocean, to start again. A new Court. They've already started.
    • In Chapter 87, Zimmy comes to a realization about Kat:
      Zimmy: [to Annie] No... You're gonna kill Loup. I can see it. And your friend... She's gonna kill me.
  • Wham Shot:
    • This is what Kat looks like to Zimmy's etheric vision.
    • Gets a repeat when Kat takes on this form after electrocuting the ship.
    • Chapter 51, first page- Annie and Kat's new teacher writes his name on the board: Mr. CARVER.
    • Chapter 51. When Kat meets up with Annie again, Annie has short hair and is dressed like she did in the hospital.
    • When Kat, Parley, and Smitty sneak into Anthony's house, there's a subtle but extremely important difference about Reynard's body. Specifically, the symbol on his forehead, indicating Kat is now in control.
    • Chapter 52's last page shows that Annie had been talking to her own elemental form, which is now separate from her.
    • Chapter 59 has Jeanne skewering Ayilu through the forehead. As it turns out, Jeanne hit her illusory self, and in reality she was fine.
    • Chapter 63 has Annie walking in on Kat and Anthony talking and laughing together.
    • Chapter 64 has Surma cheating on Eglamore by climbing into Tony's lap and kissing him.
    • In Chapter 66, Ysengrin eats Coyote.
    • Chapter 69: Annie returns to the Court after several months in the forest and is met by a patrol who take her to a waiting room. In walk her father, Kat, and another Annie.
    • Chapter 76: Kat shows the two Annies her latest invention: a Tic-Toc.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?:
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Reynardine learning about the Memento MacGuffin bit.
    • Later, Jack delivers one when Annie tries to set him up for heartbreak to hurt him for something he did while he was possessed and thus had no control over.
    • Another one with Annie on the receiving end, from Red this time, after her plan to free Jeanne's spirit from the binding keeping her in the Annan Gorge nearly gets Ayilu and Smitty killed and puts Parley in real danger. It starts on page 11 of Chapter 61. It goes on for four or five pages.
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: "Love makes you act in strange ways." We have our finest minds analyzing her words. As mere machines we can but hope to understand.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?:
    • What to do if a robot fancies you. Considering all the Court's robots are "descendants" of a lovesick inventor, this probably happens a lot.
    • The Foley students are used as living data crunchers by the Court and in at least one case a major rite of passage into adulthood, being named, is done in a very off-hand manner. Since they can have fun in the aether while their bodies do all the work and they have a radically different outlook than humans they seem to be unaware of any differences between them and the human students.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Chapter 16, "A Ghost Story", Chapter 22, "Ties", Chapter 25, "Sky Watcher and the Angel", Chapter 64, "Get Lost".
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Mr. Eglamore shouting "Surma!" This was not a flashback chapter.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside: In chapter 69, Annie returns to the Court after talking to Loup in the forest and discovers that in the time she's been gone, six months have passed in the outside world.
  • You Do NOT Want To Know: Perhaps it would be better for Kat if she thought longer than a split-second before answering:
    Kat: Say, uh... I don't see him.
    Annie: Do you want to?
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Loup directly references the trope and considers killing Antimony when he learns everything he wants to know from her, only to suddenly change his mind when he tries to go through with it.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: Zimmy's little Crapsack World is a sort of collective dream: participants go there and back without anyone else ever noticing.
    Zimmy: It's only as real as you let it be.

For a more complete rundown, see the spoileriffic Character Sheet.

  • Accidental Declaration of Love: * Red accidentally tells "Blue" she loves her, using an awkward Verbal Backspace to claim she was actually calling her "Ayilu".
  • Ambadassador: Being the Medium can be a dangerous job.
    Coyote: Oh, but shouldn't you be helping Ysengrin? He's not as spry as he used to be.
    Antimony: How could I possibly help against these monsters? I'm supposed to be a diplomat!
    Coyote: Haha! So start speaking their language!
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Court as a whole, big time. The Court has a history of dog kicking that goes back as far as its founding, and for all the talk of cooperation with the denizens of the Woods, it becomes clear that little if any of it is sincere. The Court also shows an unnerving level of willingness to manipulate or actively impair those in its employ for its own ends. Sir Eglamore does not trust his own employers and says that they hide behind bureaucracy to maintain plausible deniability. That being said, the current membership is much less extreme than the founders were and many of them to strive to do their jobs as intended rather than as the Court itself wants them to.
  • Armless Biped:
  • Artificial Limbs: In a bizarre reversal, Robot was given a prosthetic arm made of wood.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: The Court robots seem silly and simple, but then they start worshiping Kat (to a level she isn't aware of), and try to force her to make the cruise ship's AI flesh so it can be with Lindsey, the giant inter-dimensional Cosmic Horror crustacean — who's already happily married, and using Zimmy to alter reality to make it happen.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy/Fat and Skinny: The two ghosts unleashed by John and Margo. The male is short and fat, the female is tall and thin; unfortunately they don't get much characterization other than they're terrifying and in love and just want someone to finish their song.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head:
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Court founders passed themselves off as noble men forced by necessity to do horrendous things in the course of their work but they reveal themselves as almost ingrained xenophobes that thought nothing of doing these things. The one member that wasn't like this was consigned to a slow and miserable death just so they could have an efficient security guard to keep the Court and Gillitie Woods as separate as possible. The Court as it currently exists seems better due to several members actually striving to do their jobs in the spirit they were intended and the more ambiguous situations faced but ultimately reveal themselves as just less blatantly obvious in Chapter 53 where it is revealed that they brought back Annie's Disappeared Dad to rein her in for "transgressions" that include actually improving overall relations between the Court and the Woods.
  • The Blank: The Nobodies; the cruise ship's sailor-bots, who are the Hive Mind of the ship itself.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Parley (comparatively reddish-brown hair) and her two friends, dark-slate-purple-(or so)-haired Cookie Monster (Lily Cooke) and a dark-skinned blonde Jan (January).
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Annie and Kat ran into this trying to reconcile two ex-fairies. According to the fairies, mutual understanding and respect are not the most important things for choosing your friends, it's cool hair. Later it turns out that once reconciled, these two taunt each other and fight all the time. Other Foley kids merely see it as a sign of strong attachment.
  • Blush Sticker: Orchid-haired fairy girl called as "her too" on the Chapter 36 character guide, still has it (both in the real world and in ether at that).
  • Captured Super-Entity: In order to achieve their goals, the Court wishes to capture a powerful etheric being, preferably a god like Coyote. They aim to destroy said being and harvest the resulting ether to power the Magitek Portal Pool they plan to use to escape to another world.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: All the characters have very distinct appearances, even in the decidedly-less-polished early artwork.
  • Cuddle Bug: Ex-fairies sometimes are like this. Up to an etheric cuddle-pile. Being "a little inspired by Foley kids" may also explain why Lily has No Sense of Personal Space.
  • Cute Machines: Several, including the cuddliest clawed metal mantis ever.
  • Dies Wide Open: Sivo
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Lindsey has 47 eyes, and 15 not-eyes, and part of her brain functions in a different dimension. She's also an accredited couples therapist.
    • Kat's etheric form from Zimmy's vision.
    • The Final Records guy.
    • The ship's etheric form. Eesh.
    • Coyote's etheric form is a terror to behold. When Antimony first uses her blinker stone in his presence, the sight of it is enough to temporarily disorient her. Combined with his godlike powers and Blue-and-Orange Morality, he's easily the closest thing that the webcomic has to a true Eldritch Abomination.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Anja, tree elves
  • Fantastic Foxes: Reynardine is based on the folktales of Renard the Fox.
  • Gender Bender + Humanity Ensues: For female animals from Gilitie Wood who wish to become human (the female-only fairies remain female).
  • Generation Xerox: Subverted when appears. This generation of protagonists are descended from parents who were also adventure buddies back in the day — but the two generations are different in just as many ways as they are alike.
    • Directly defied by Mr. Donlan to Antimony eventually. Antimony for one is glad to be treated as her own person instead of her parent's child, especially soon after this got more unsettling.
  • Gentle Giant: Quite a few, such as Lindsey the giant crab. In fact, it's almost a reliable guarantee that the bigger and more intimidating someone (or something) is, the nicer they're going to turn out to be. Eventually lampshaded.
  • God of the Moon: The Chinese moon goddess Chang'e is one of the Physical Gods to appear in the Crossover Cosmology. She visits the Court to give an astronomy presentation and is quite interested in the protagonist's earlier Deface of the Moon.
  • God Needs Prayer Badly: Coyote says he came into existence through human belief.
  • Happiness in Slavery:
    • The robots consider activity itself to be the best thing about life, and thus consider working for humans self-rewarding (not that they need a concept of "reward").
    • The Foley kids are completely unaware they're being used as living data crunchers by the court because they can have fun in the aether while their bodies do all the work.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: When two fairies call Shell Aata's wife, she blushes so hard she nearly explodes. Annie and Cvet both then suggest that she likes him, prompting her to insist (red-faced) that she just respects him, that's all!
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: On Andrew's first trip into the forest, he meets a Chickcharney who has lost a treasure he received long ago. A "shining sphere of unmelting ice! Trapped inside were brilliant colours from the rarest flowers". Andrew immediately produces a marble. "Did it look like this?"
  • Huge Girl, Tiny Guy: Parley and Smitty, especially after her training under James; Surma and Rey (technically; human women are generally taller than foxes).
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Eglamore and anyone; the jackelope and their fairy friend.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Bugsy, the Foley teacher Annie meets, got her name (a major rite of passage for Forest folk) via a Court official glancing at his "wall of DVDs".
  • Looks Like Cesare: Martin.
  • Mad Love: Lana has this toward Jerrek, to the point that she's not even remotely put off by the discovery that he's actually Loup.
    Lana: I said I love everything about you! And I mean it!
    • Though, much to his own astonishment — not to mention confusion — Loup, who had previously seen her as a useful tool at best and an annoyance at worst, actually ends up returning her feelings when he realises someone is actually willing to accept and love him for himself.
  • Male Might, Female Finesse: Gender-flipped: Andrew is a laid-back guy who uses his powers of probability manipulation to provide support for Parley, a Lad-ette with a longsword, Super Strength, and Teleport Spam abilities.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Court has encountered various etheric creatures of apparently extraterrestrial origin. Are they actual aliens with no origins from Earth, or products of human Clap Your Hands If You Believe? Who knows?
  • The Men in Black: The Court agents, though only seen for a brief glimpse, invoke this kind of imagery. Then they came for Anthony Carver.
  • Morphic Resonance: The Foley kids who were once animals still have a certain resemblance to those animals, including a former badger who has white hair with two black stripes, a former hedgehog who has messily-spiked brown hair, and a former fish who is basically a Fish Person. <Snuffle>'s friend is a former jackalope with hair horns.
  • No-Sell: Metaphorical version: <Snuffle> the fairy isn't intimidated by the Court's sinister-looking decontamination unit, is impressed by the Court's architecture for about two seconds before she declares it "kind of crummy", and agrees with Bugsy the ex-fairy teacher that "they aren't too smart around here" because they can't even remember people's names, "like how they call me Ms. Bugsy when my name is Bugsy".
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: The various Court Robots are comically incompetent in ways that are nevertheless far beyond the capability of any Real Life AI. Probably a result of their magitek origins.
  • Short Teens, Tall Adults: As seen on Chpt. 52, pg. 16, Kat and Annie are in their mid-teens but appear to be (perspective and stairs aside) barely shoulder-height to Kat's dad and Annie's. The rest of Annie's friends don't look much taller aside from Parley, Jack, and the elves from "Annie in the Forest" who seem to be analogous to college students.
  • Soulless Bedroom: Her father's sudden reappearance upends Antimony's life, distances her from her friends, and overwhelms her to the point of magically suppressing her emotions. During this time, she's moved to a makeshift bedroom area in a huge, white, unfurnished space.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: This appears to be the only way robots understand deception. They feel the need to explain exactly what it is that isn't happening.
    • As of "Get It Together" it looks like the guys have finally gotten a growth spurt.
  • Theme Naming: Antimony and Surma; Zeta and Gamma; Jack and Jenny which rhymes with Jack's previous love interests Annie and Zimmy.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl:
    • Kat and Antimony, respectively.
    • Also, Kat and Paz.
    • And as of Chapter 69, the Annie from the forest and the Annie who went back to the Court. (the latter wears makeup and a dress, the former wears pants and no makeup).
  • Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Jones attempt to smile could count as this as it utterly unsettles Antimony, to point where Kit asks her if she is okay.

  • An Aesop: From Chapter 24: Residential:
  • Animesque: Tom Siddell, the author and artist, cites Battle Angel Alita, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Dragon Ball as artistic influences, alongside Western comics like Hellboy and Tank Girl. He incorporates elements from all of them into his own art.
  • Art Evolution: Tom is consistently evolving his art. It's most noticeable in Annie's case: Compare her design on page 18 with her design on page 435 (which, incidentally, is a Flash Back to the same scene from page 18). Now compare with page 1148.
    • It's even lampshaded in this strip, which refers back to an earlier incident in which Annie tricked a group of robots by disguising herself as a robot. The robots have drawn a Wanted poster of the unknown "robot", complete with football-shaped head. (One possible explanation is that the changes in art style reflect actual changes as Annie matures physically.)
  • Art Shift:
    • The City Face specials, which are canon.
    • Also, a slight shift when Annie is using the Blinker Stone. (Everything is generally more detailed and her hair connects panel to panel.)
    • In Chapter 51 the art becomes sketchy and amateurish because Annie's confidence is severely shaken by her father's sudden reappearance as her teacher and his order to wash off her "ridiculous" makeup.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The Rant occasionally makes a joke out of this:invoked
    "Thank you for reading this chapter about girls getting haircuts."
    "Thank you for reading this comic about magical boots and awful hats."
  • Author Appeal: Given Jack's spider motif, the Whitelegs themselves, and Tom's tendency to have spiders in his self-depictions, one can't help but think that he likes drawing them.
    • Confirmed with an entry from his tumblr account wherein he says "Try and tell me they are not beautiful" regarding photos he snapped of a spider in his bathroom.
  • Author Catchphrase:
    • "Mystery solved!" in the commentary when something random and completely unexpected sheds a little light on a previous question while raising far more questions.
    • "It's that guy!" and "The big guy is Eglamore" are everywhere, too.
    • There are also many variations on "This guy", including "These guys", "That guy?", "Those guys", and any others you might think of.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Doesn't happen often, but if anyone is going to do it, Coyote will.
  • Call-Back:
    • The events of "Divine" are referenced 14 chapters later in "The Tree": Anthony has a cut on his lip that seems to correspond to where Zimmy hit him with a psychic punch; the "bone spikes" which resembled finger bones (Anthony's right arm is obscured by a bright light in "Divine" and his right hand appears to have been replaced by a prosthetic in "The Tree") that pinned down Annie's ethereal half seem to show up when Annie calms herself down and puts on a mask-like expression so she won't "break down like a complete fool" after being given a dressing-down by her father for extensive cheating (Annie was in the hospital in "Divine" some time after hearing her father's voice for the first time in two years).
    • "Annie and the Fire" is not just the Mind Screwdriver for "Divine" (or at least parts of it the "bone spikes" were indeed Anthony's — he claimed some psychopomps tricked him into using his hand to make an "antennae" so he could see Surma again but failed to mention that Surma was now part of Annie; fortunately Zimmy's "message" came through. The similar-looking lines in "The Tree" were just "pain lines" to show how stressed Annie was) but also answers questions from "The Tree" what happened to his hand and "Sneak" Why didn't anyone know about Annie until she came to school (Surma didn't want Gunnerkrigg to know about her) and what he was doing since Surma died (trying to find answers by looking for psychopomps).
    • "A Ghost Story" is also referenced when Annie cuts her hair short and wears a simple blue dress, same as her appearance at Good Hope Hospital "back when she still knew how to be a kid".
    • Kat showing Annie and Rey Princess Mononoke and Rey feeling a connection to Moro gets a callback when Kat shows Annie and Rey Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Annie feels a connection to D-Dog.
    • Annie politely refusing a refreshment from one of the elves in "A Big Day" is one to "Annie in the Forest" when she got drunk on achewater.
    • Judging by Eglamore's outfit, the scene in "Get Lost" where Surma breaks up with him takes place the same day as the scene where he discusses the break-up with Jones in "The Stone", over twenty chapters prior.
  • Call-Forward: Somewhere between this and Early-Bird Cameo, the adult City Face was (possibly) introduced in an Omake published between arcs that most likely happened before he was born.
  • Continuity Nod:
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tom, in his rants.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Used to comedic effect between the friendships of humans and the friendships of fairies. Also pointed out to be a dominant cause for the strained relationship of the court and the woods.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Dr. Disaster's simulation.
  • Don't Try This at Home:
  • Double-Meaning Title: All over the place with the chapter titles. One of the most prominent is the title "Fire Spike", which uses meanings for both the noun (a surge in power) and verb (to add a small amount of one substance to another) forms of "spike".
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Mechanically unskilled Antimony building a robot (since Retconned as the robot being already built but disassembled), Basil the Minotaur living in the Court's basement, Zimmy willingly partaking to a large gathering of people with no visible signs of discomfort, and many other instances conflict with the setting and the characters of later chapters.
  • Fan Vid: Broad Spectrum Studios are currently producing a voiced dub of the comics. Although the addition of voices and sound effects is a nice touch, perhaps the most notable feature of the dub is the surprisingly fitting original music score by Neil Lee Griffin. After watching a few of the existing episodes, you may find yourself humming the Court Theme throughout the comic.
  • Fantastic Aesop:
    • From Residential:
      Bob: Hmm, there's a lesson in all this... (...) Never let sixty angry kids use a herd of laser cows to take over your house.
    • Coyote attempts to attach a moral to his story about the time he transformed himself into a dead goose in a bush next to a lake. Unfortunately, the only applicable moral is a bit specific.
      Coyote: And the moral of the story is... be careful what you wish for! Hmm... no. You reap what you sow! No, no.... Ah! The moral is! Do not be a dead goose in a bush next to a lake. Yes! That fits perfectly!
  • Fisheye Lens: When things aren't quite normal and/or there's an actual camera involved, and to emphasize Annie's Heroic BSoD.
  • Flashback Effects: Textured backgrounds and rounded panel corners.
  • Foreshadowing: There's a lot of instances, seen here.
  • Gilligan Cut: At the end of Chapter 89.
    Coyote: You should call the next chapter "Coyote Knew This Would Happen!"
    Tea: We're not doing that! Get lost!
    Next page: Chapter 90: Coyote Knew This Would Happen
    *next one after that*
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot: Invoked by Reynardine when Kat and Antinomy are having a heartwarming moment. Plot point, too, because it's the reason Antimony orders him not to speak until she commands it, which prevents him from warning her in time when he realizes something's wrong.
  • Goggles Do Nothing: Averted, and then lampshaded in Tom's rant here.
  • Invoked Trope: In case Zig-Zagging Trope just isn't awesome enough, here's a recursion: Tempting Fate in What Could Possibly Go Wrong? way via intentionally invoking Tempting Fate and What Could Possibly Go Wrong? (as tropes), snickering.
  • Kudzu Plot: Comes with the Jigsaw Puzzle Plot.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Just take a look at this page.
  • Loose Canon: Bonus pages are distinctively one step away from the main continuity and may bring extra exposition, or teasers, or comedy, or something wild — or all at once.
  • Mind Screwdriver: "Annie and the Fire" for (most of) "Divine".
  • Mood Whiplash: Much.
    • Chapter 6: A Handful Of Dirt - Our characters go from laughing their heads off to bawling their eyes out in a single page. Yay.
    • Chapter 19: Power Station is dark and depressing, but still manages a genuinely heartwarming moment on page 466... then yanks the rug out from underneath Annie and the readers on the very next page.
    • Chapter 25: Sky Watcher And The Angel - "Oh no!" "A sad face!" "The saddest face!" Due to the phrase's use as an Ironic Echo.
    • Chapter 27: Spring Heeled Part 1 - A guard robot is the subject of a joke about learning to whistle—then gets Killed Mid-Sentence.
    • Chapter 30: The Coward Heart goes from being reasonably upbeat, to horrifying revelations about a character's death, then the same character trying to kill the protagonists... and finally then ends with two characters admitting their love for each other.
    • Chapter 31: Fire Spike - It begins with undefined unease, explodes into anger, and ends in tears.
    • Chapter 39: The Great Secret - From silly (fun times with Coyote!) to Wham Line (the aether is human imagination!) to scary (berserk Ysengrin!) to Wham Episode (Coyote eats Ysengrin's memories to make him loyal!) and finishing off with MORT FUN TIME.
    • Chapter 49: The Torn Sea - Yay vacation cruise! No, Jack and Zimmy (and Gama, whew) are here! Yay, fun dance party! No, the robots want Kat to make them flesh, they even stole her latest prototype! Wait, the ship itself wants Kat to make it flesh — because it's in love with Lindsey! What the EFF and they're gonna use Zimmy's reality-warping powers to do it?! What the Christ and then the Seraphs duct tape hardhats to their heads because they remember Annie's mystical power button pressing powers...
    • Chapter 52: Sneak - It's revealed at the end that (the 'sneak' is possibly the fire elemental part of her, in anguish), and the page directly after that revelation is nothing but an incredibly cute puppy Renard.
    • Chapter 60: The Other Shore Part 2 - Jeanne and her boyfriend are free! But Smitty gets stabbed and Annie hesitates to save him because she doesn't want to pay the Guides' price. Kat thinks the Guides are being ungrateful that Annie and a bunch of mortals had to do a job supernatural beings couldn't do; the Guides point out that Annie put a lot of people in danger but agree to save Smitty in exchange for something from Annie. The stinger shows that Coyote is aware that something has changed and he's very happy about it!
    • Chapter 61: Red's Friend Gets A Name Too I Suppose - Red's friend gets a name! And Red cuts Annie out of her and her friend Ayilu's lives after Red agrees with the Guides and, as usual, Annie can't come up with a good response.
  • Mundane Made Awesome:
    • Red starts Blowing a Raspberry on page 994 aaand...
    • In a hilariously roundabout way, Antimony and Mort's experience in the Realm of the Dead. To ether-attuned beings like Antimony or Mort, the Realm of the Dead is (apparently) a vast labyrinth, Final Records is a huge, many-roomed library, the Scryer is a complex magical artifact, the Vault of Memories is just that, a vault, and the Records Keeper is a massive and horrifying creature who is practically invisible. To the technically-minded Kat (whose point of view we actually see), the Realm of the Dead is a tacky cardboard haunted house, Final Records is a closet with a single book sitting on a shelf, the Scryer is a Rolodex, the Vault of Memories is a cabinet with a single VHS tape inside, and the Records Keeper is a human guy in a black cloak that has the price tag on it wearing a dimestore Halloween costume glove who sticks out like a sore thumb.
  • Names To Run Away From Very Fast: The Omega Device, a mysterious project of the Court. All we know about it is Anthony was able to travel around the world under the guise of researching it and Donny was uncomfortable about Annie hearing about it while she listened in with the blinker stone (it was Donny's idea as this was probably the only way Annie would hear the truth from her tightly closed-off father).
  • No-Dialogue Episode: The extra comic "Zim Grim" has no dialogue whatsoever.
  • Narrator: Two of them, Annie for the main story and Tea for bonus pages and announcements from Tom.
  • Never Trust a Title:
    • Chapter 34: Faraway Morning (And Three Short Tales), where some characters tell three short tales. Sounds like a short chapter, right? It's the longest chapter to date thanks to all of the Character Development and plot revelations going on between each of the tales.
    • Chapter 90: Coyote Knew This Would Happen involves Coyote jumping to an extremely wrong conclusion, throwing a hissy fit over it, and then jumping to an even more wrong conclusion. If he legitimately knew any of this would happen, he certainly did a great job hiding it.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Parley Sr. won millions of pounds for successfully completing the "Eugene Gould" Psychic Challenge.
  • Odd-Shaped Panel: Pages where Annie looks into the ether tend to have no panels borders at all. Even more trippy is when the etheric forms of characters themselves become the panel borders. Annie's flowing red hair goes from one "panel" to another, reconnecting with her head multiple times one one page. In "Fire Spike", the perspective starts to warp after The Reveal, in order to convey Annie's Heroic BSoD. In Chapter 51 the art becomes "jangly" and sketchy and the panels become unaligned after Anthony orders her to wash off her "ridiculous" makeup.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Chapter 59 is completely rant-free on Tom's part. Said chapter involves probably the most dangerous things Annie and the others have done to date, namely finally trying to free Jeanne's lover from being trapped at the river bottom and, hopefully, give Jeanne the impetus to go on to the afterlife.
    • Chapter 66, in which Ysengrim kills Coyote and launches an attack on the Court is also rant-free.
    • More rant-free pages: In Chapter 78, the first two times Zimmy suddenly appears on the page are rant-free. The rest of the pages have The Rant, though.
  • Otherworldly Technicolour Hair: Some of the former Forest denizens who became human have unusual hair colours like blue, green, and pink. The colours are muted in their physical bodies but vivid in the Spirit World.
  • Possession Burnout: Whitelegs causes this, driving Jack beyond exhaustion and causing him to become increasingly frazzled and insane.
  • Relationship Upgrade: In Chapter 30, Parley finally admits that she's in love with Andrew. Word of God already said they were totally going to get married.
  • Rewatch Bonus: In Chapter 91, once you get to page 32 and Annie and Reynard actually point out that there's a girl who looks a bit like Zimmy, who doesn't draw attention to herself but is really the one leading them onward, you can go back and see that she's always been visible near the front of the group and it's always her who's the first to notice things.
  • Running Gag:
    • Tom's comments below each comic sometimes are variations of Epileptic Trees, the line "Oh. It's that guy." or "[Obvious event in-comic]! ([Obvious event in-comic])". Or explaining who is/isn't Mr. Eglamore. When Trees Attack, "Eglamore looks pretty different. (This was a joke, that is not Mr. Eglamore)". When the Minotaur returns, "It's this guy! (It's Basil, not Eglamore)". At one point in a flashback between Eglamore and Jones, the page caption was, "Reassuring?". Everyone in the comments demanded to know who the strange man on this page was.
      • The fans even get in on this. Whenever a new character shows up, someone comments on how different Mr. Eglamore looks on that page. To date, he has been "mistaken" for a sentient crustacean, an elf like forest dweller, a Canvey Island monster, and a perky goth girl (who no one could have possibly mistaken for Zimmy).
    • Jones. She's still not a robot. The next time, when something makes a sound in her pocket:
    If Jones keeps beeping like that people are going to get the wrong idea.
  • Screw the Rules, I Make Them!: The general mentality of the leadership of the Court. It becomes increasingly obvious that the Court gets away with less than moral acts and escapes the possibility of punishment for it by merit of being the only authority in the area.
  • Shout-Out: Check the page.
  • Shown Their Work: Attention to fine details in itself became yet another layer of fun. If something looks dubious, usually this get fixed by more research on the viewer's part. Mongolian draw and archery bracers? Baby pigeons? Canine skulls? Moon pools? A girl musses her hair up after removing the hair tie? Check-check-check...
  • Silent Scenery Panel: Often used to signal scene transitions.
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Entire chapters can be either silly and hilarious or serious and downright horrifying. Compare Chapter 24 to Chapter 27-28.
    • Generally, anything involving Coyote, the fairies, the court robots, and Dr. Disaster are on the silly side. Anything involving the psychopomps, the founding of the Court, Zimmy and Gamma, and Antimony's father are treated very seriously.
  • Speech Bubbles: A subtle example of Medium Painting: the background color in speech bubbles is different for different characters. Robot characters' bubbles have squared corners.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • Jack got HIJacked.
    • A very subtle one. One of the strips is just a random collection of real photos. One of the pictures is of a mineral called Stibnite (it's easily identifiable by it's bladed crystal habit). Not only is that briefly mentioned as Surma's maiden name at one point, there's also the fact that the mineral contains an element that isn't found in many minerals; Antimony.
    • The Laser Cows all have a serial number that starts with LC. Elsie is a popular cow's name, thanks to being the name of the mascot of the Borden Dairy Company since the 1930s.
  • Strip Buffer: A nice thick one of 30 strips.
  • Take That!: A regular occurrence.
    Text Box representing The Internet: I think swords are neat, do you think swords are neat!!
    Tea-san (cheerfully): A sword is a tool designed to inflict pain or death on a fellow human! Often spiritualised and glorified, they also serve as a physical metaphor for humanity's eternal, savage thirst for destruction!
    • Bugsy was bestowed the job of teacher (reading textbooks aloud and writing the contents on a blackboard) by the Court because she had no real skills. Granted, teaching Foley House is more like a vacation if you're an ex-Gilitie Woods person who can astral project and do whatever you want in the aether (in Bugsy's case it's napping).
  • Unsound Effect: Used repeatedly.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: It helps a lot that the forum community is comprised of readers from all over the world (some of the most frequent posters are from places like Russia, France, Spain, and Alaska) and so most mythology symbols, folk songs, and bilingual bonuses can frequently be first noticed/explained by a native of the region in question.
    • There was one instance when the fandom (using a bare minimum of information) figured out that Brinnie's "Old Man" is Odin from Norse Mythology, and shortly after, that Brinnie herself is Brynhild the valkyrie. The full extent of the information they had? Brinnie is Scandinavian, and she uses triangles in her magic.
    • Less than a day of this page going up and people wondering whether the girl was Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, a bunch of posters on the Gunnerkrigg forum immediately identified her from Chinese mythology.
    • People immediately recognized this symbol as a Valknut, a symbol of oaths/promises (which is appropriate, since Annie is promised that he will come to save her).
    • Many commentators for this page noted that "bunny boy" and his fairy friend <Snuffle> aren't just good with Rubik Cube patterns, they're geniuses, especially <Snuffle> since she has never seen one before.
      • The number 20 is especially impressive, because it's God's Number. Essentially, as long as you don't cheat by twisting a single corner, any given Rubik's cube is no more than 20 turns away from being solved.note 
  • Visual Pun: Annie burning bridges. Chapter 51's title, "The Tree", isn't far from a picture of an apple (confusingly there's no apples or trees in this chapter).
  • Wall of Blather: Used to represent the 'Background Noise' of 'Zimmingham' here.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Renard and Eglamore are both very open in their confusion and annoyance about what Surma ever saw in Tony. While people badmouthing her father was a Berserk Button throughout the comic for Annie, it turns out she privately thought the exact same thing once he came back to the Court.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope: Sivo is a case of a triple subversion of the Knight vs. Dragon story.