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Webcomic / Sluggy Freelance

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"This here's my comic. Is it not nifty? Worship the comic."
Original Tagline, later providing the titles for the first two compilations

Sluggy Freelance by Pete Abrams is one of the longest-running (since August 25th, 1997) and most popular Webcomics out there. It mostly revolves around the doings of a core cast, which conveniently form a Five-Man Band plus two cute talking animals.

In its time, it has shifted from being a simple gag comic with rather short arcs to a complex tragicomic tale of friends living in a mad world mixing elements from just about every genre, trying to find fulfilling lives in it, and occasionally heroically and/or humorously saving it. It has helped create or popularize a ton of webcomic tropes, and it repeatedly hangs lampshades over every single trope it uses, and subverts a few dozen more.

Since it has been publishing mostly daily since 1997, there is quite a bit of material to digest, but its continued popularity has never been questioned, even by those who don't make it a daily read. However, it can be a prime source of Archive Panic for newcomers, so much so that even long-time fans can be a bit intimidated by the idea of an Archive Trawl. For new readers, it's probably best to start at the beginning and ignore the current arc until/unless you actually get there.


As the comic's 20th anniversary on August 25th, 2017 approached, Pete announced that he would try to wrap up most ongoing storylines by around then and would not continue doing the comic in its current form. As it turned out, the webcomic did continue, but with a less frequent and regular posting schedule, as well as a new site layout and a new version of the optional paid subscription system.

This comic has a character sheet.


This comic shows examples of:

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  • Accidental Misnaming: Dr. Hot-Chick... Hot-Cheeks... Hoochie... Er, we mean Haught-Shiek.
  • Adventurer Archaeologist:
    • Tomb Raider gets a spoofing with the "Lara Kroft-Macaroni-And-Cheese" arc.
    • Riff's dad is also one.
  • Affectionate Parody: Most of the parodies the strip does. The long-running Torg Potter parodies are a bit more vicious about pointing out plot holes.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: On the back of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, of all things.
  • Aliens and Monsters: This comic has plenty of aliens, demons, and vampires the cast kill without a qualm, even though they also count several aliens, demons, and vampires among their friends. Aylee called Torg out on this when he spent his time in another dimension killing the monstrous residents in sadistic and hilarious ways.
  • Aliens Speaking English:
    • Many interdimensional denizens (including humans from the Dimension of Lame, Demons from the Dimension of Pain, and Punyverse people) are English speakers. This is justified in the case of closely parallel dimensions and unexplained in other cases. Then again, one closely parallel dimension differs in the locals speaking Portuguese. Lampshaded or potentially a plot point in the anima arc, where Gwynn finds it odd that everyone speaks English despite so many other things being so different about the dimension they're in, while Riff says that's probably just how parallel dimensions work.
    • Aylee's species and the "mutagenic spore aliens" can also speak English, in both cases justified by their different assimilating tactics of invasion.
  • All Issues Are Political Issues: Played for laughs here.
    Gwynn: Anyone want to split an order of buffalo fingers?
    Torg: You know, the Native American Indians used to use every part of the buffalo. Nothing went to waste. Then the white man came and killed off whole herds of buffalo for only their fingers!
    Gwynn: I'll have the spinach quiche.
    Riff: Don't get Torg started on the sociological ramifications of wimpy egg-products!
  • All Just a Dream: Played with, of course, in this strip.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • Many storylines almost require an Archive Trawl to understand what's going on, the story "bROKEN", required over a dozen archive links.
    • One of the strips even managed to top that - this one (major spoiler) asks you to check the forums assuming the other Sluggy readers will post them for you.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • This comic manages to do this by presenting Up... from the balloons' perspective.invoked
    • Torg (as well as the viewers) see Aylee as a good character, and (mostly) not a threat, at least after she undergoes a little Character Development. Riff, however, continues to see her as a threat, much as he sees Sam. Riff's viewpoint isn't all that sympathetic... until this comic.
  • Alternate Universe: A major focus of the strip, with Riff's Dimensional Flux Agitator (DFA) invention meaning they have visited multiple dimensions (usually unintentionally), several of which are populated by alternate versions of the main cast and end up being well developed as settings.
  • Alternate Universe Reed Richards Is Awesome: The Sluggyverse's usual technology levels are similar to ours. Extremely advanced stuff inconsistently appears in everyday life, but for the most part, the Awesome, but Impractical toys of Mad Scientists are only ever employed by shadowy corporations for their sinister schemes. However, in several Alternate Universes, this rule does not apply. The Dimension of Lame's Riff's inventions always work, and rather than inventing weapons for himself, he made inventions to improve peoples' lives, such as aiding those who cannot walk. In the 4U City dimension, Alternate Riff doesn't trust the really advanced portals in anyone's hands, but several of his other inventions completely altered the course of his world's history. His DFAs were weaponized by Hereti Corp and unleashed a cataclysmic end to a terrible war. 4U city has also made full use of other technological developments that technically exist in the main universe, but were never properly exploited. Examples include Nanites and AI.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Getting speared by the squid-spear turns you into a demon/mutant and you invariably join forces with whomever speared you, regardless of prior affiliations or what you think of the guy who speared you. This applies to both the Dimension of Pain demons and Pang's mutant brigade, with only a single exception Played for Laughs as he gets mercilessly gunned down with the rest of them. It only kind of works on the Always Lawful Good inhabitants of the Dimension of Lame; they become wussy demons.
  • Amusing Alien: Aylee, before she started becoming more human-like, anyway.
  • Anal Probing: The Greys show up in the "Oceans Unmoving" arc, apparently having arrived in Timeless Space from the game X-COM. They make continual references to probing.
  • Ancient Keeper: The Arachnaseus from the "That Which Redeems" arc fills this role.
  • And I Must Scream:
  • And Now For Something Completely Different: The "Torg Potter" stories; "Oceans Unmoving".
  • Anti-Magic:
    • A plant-based demon Torg calls Captain Botanical had a magic flower that negated all magic that came too close to it. Gwynn chooses to weaponize it herself as insurance against King Farahn and K'Z'K, due to the fact that her Black Magic is based on a doubly indirect case of Powers via Possession.
    • Hereti Corps's occult division discovered that most forms of magic start weakening as you get further and further from Earth's atmosphere. Magical objects that can store power internally, like Chaz, can last a bit longer, but still eventually require new sustenance.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • There was at one point, a meme on the forum where certain characters were called Not Allowed to Die; when one of these characters was Killed Off for Real during a parody arc, the list was narrowed down to the main characters. Then even some of them... Dead? Alive? Only Mostly Dead? Fate Worse than Death? It got almost to the point of Zig Zagged Trope.
    • The entire purpose of the K I T T E N arcs was to kill off some recurring characters.
    • Red Shirt and Mauve Shirt characters aren't immune to this. Characters can survive a long time then suddenly be killed with little to no warning. Even main characters aren't immune to death, though they are much more likely to come Back from the Dead.
    • Yet other characters can disappear or die only to later be replaced by an alternate universe of themselves.
  • Arc Words:
    • Whenever Khronus, the god of time, fires someone, they will often go "Freelance". The first was Sluggy, god of power and Bun-bun's past self, who ended up calling himself "Sluggy Freelance" when Khronus exiled him. A former Fate Spider is another former employee of Khronus that goes freelance. Torg and Riff are also freelancers for reasons related to Fate. It is ultimately revealed that "Sluggy Freelance" was deliberately established by Fate as a rallying call, to call all of the heroes of Fate on to one spot in order to oppose the destroyer, K'Z'K.
    • "NOTHING DEAD HERE." Appears in the haunted Kesandru House. Turns out it's one ghost warning another, and the whole phrase was "Nothing dead here leaves," referring to how spirits are trapped in the House and the Well at its bottom.
    Torg: Are ghosts under contract to be cryptic or what?
    Riff: The scientific term is "annoying".
    • "Nosce te ipsum." "Know yourself," advice given to Oasis that she's completely unable to follow up on because of some programmed mental blocks. And then, years and years in, we find out what it really means.
    • Multiple unrelated characters have uttered the words "What... is... that blade?" upon seeing the effects Chaz has.
  • Art Shift: Done a few times:
    • Simplified stick figure filler arcs.
    • A trippy, surreal style used for Gwynn's visions in "The Bug, the Witch, and the Robot".
    • The more detailed comic book type art style of "Fire and Rain".
  • Ascended to Carnivorism: Played with; the cast always makes sure Bun-bun doesn't get hungry, fearing he might say "What the hell, let's give meat a try." This finally happened in the "Safehouse" storyline when Bun-bun was affected by Hamsternom and started eating (dead) human flesh, but was disgusted with himself afterwards.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • A self-proclaimed pirate who would kill a hobo for 5 bucks comes upon an apparently murdered woman's corpse and gleefully tries to look for a way to profit from it. Said corpse turns out to be a starved vampire who proceeds to feed on and kill him. Likewise, his wife, a saleswoman who in a likely reference to Martin Shkreli, happened to have raised the price of children’s medicine from twelve bucks to one billion, proceeds to become said vampire's next victim.
    • In the "Kitten II" arc, two of the first victims of the kitten attack during the climax are the "Arny" members who betrayed the others.
  • Assimilation Backfire:
    • The Borg Expy in an early strip ran into this problem after assimilating Riff and Torg. "Since you have come among us, all we have done is drink fermented hopps beverages and ogle scantly clad females. This has seriously jeopardized our goal of the all-collective. We've never had to do this before... We are kicking you out."
    • Done again with Dr. Crabtree, the Nanite Queen, who can assimilate people's knowledge by eating their brains... but gets infected with Sam Sein's stupidity when she tries it on him, and when she eats Christmas Elves' brains she starts unconsciously frolicking everywhere while singing "lolly la!"
  • As You Know: Parodied — one of the major running gags is the comic is that recaps are never played straight, always lampshaded, and often framed in a comedic way.
  • Auto-Incorrect: One strip has Zoe write a tweet advertising her radio station's show as superior to another. The autocorrect accidentally turns it into a racist rant because the (uncapitalized) last names of the hosts, Whelt and Balkmin, are changed to "whites" and "black men".
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: Angel McDevil.
  • Badass Boast:
    • "My name is Gunman Stan McKurt. And I shoot evil in the face."
    • "But now you can call me Lord Bun-bun, Eater of Holidays!" And that was before he took over Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Badass Longcoat:
  • Bad is Good and Good is Bad: The demons from the Dimension of Pain, who find things like flowers intolerable.
  • Bad Santa:
    • Santa Claus is Santa Claus; definitely one of the good guys by default. But when Bun-bun tries to kill him every Christmas and eventually blows up his workshop with an evil Furby, he begins to lose it and gets some evil-looking moments while planning to kill the rabbit. And then he catches an alien DNA virus while hiding from Bun-bun in orbit, and eventually turns into a malicious alien monster along with many of his elves, albeit one still bound to manufacture and deliver Christmas presents. He finally gets better, though.
    • The part in "Holiday Wars" when Bun-bun himself becomes an Evil Overlord by becoming the Anthropomorphic Personification of most holidays including Christmas. Now that is bad.
  • Bait-and-Switch Time Skip: In one strip, the group is stuck at an airport and Torg measures Riff's rather long beard to estimate they've been there several months. Riff reveals it's a fake and Torg estimates that they were there for only a couple hours, as that's when he tends to break out the sight gags.
  • Bald of Evil:
    • Kesandru fits the trope, with a combo for Evil Goatee with his eyebrows.
    • Dr. Steve, who is a pretty obvious play on Dr. Evil as it is.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Invoked by Torg, to get a Killer Rabbit out of his house. Subsequently subverted by Bun-Bun, who literally skinned it alive.
  • Behind the Black: A relatively frequent gag is for characters to need help finding something, only for another character to point out that it's just off-screen.
  • Berserk Button:
    • "Override B-1!"
    • And God help you if you disrupt Torg's denial over what happened to Zoë.
    • Unless you really want to get on Bun-bun's nerves (hint: you don't), don't get between him and his Baywatch tapes.
    • And don't call him in the role of a telemarketer, either.
    • Honestly, just don't interact with him in general. Almost anything will set him off if he's in the right mood.
  • Better as Friends: Zoë said this to Torg once.
  • Between My Legs: In a rather bizarre fashion.
  • Big Anime Eyes: Parodied a few times, with Gwynn's contact lenses and, when Torg makes an anime, he paints them on to Aylee and has a set that goes over his own eyes, despite his own eyes already being big enough.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: There are multiple competing major antagonists.
    • K'Z'K, God of Destruction, and his cult, who want to cause a major exinction event, more For the Evulz than because it's their job.
    • Hereti Corp is another top contender. If they were to ever come into contact with the Cult of K'Z'K, it would cause the malfunctioning Fate Web to bring about the End of the World as We Know It.
    • Sir John Jacobs is the main antagonist of the Oceans Unmoving arc.
    • Tempest, God of Fate, long ago went Mad From The Isolation, and now seeks to bring existence to a permanent end by sabotaging the Fate Web.
  • Big Brother Is Watching:
    • Santa keeps a massive spying agency to determine who has been naughty and nice.
    • Grab-all, a parody of Google, offers free services on which people put their personal information. Grab-all happens to make money as an information broker. Its CEO also enjoys manipulating the search results to influence world opinion. Does This Remind You of Anything? They are also one group of elves in Santa's employ.
    • Hereti Corp has also tried its hand at this with the mascot of their pizza restaurant, Sir Veillance, an Incredibly Obvious Bug in the form of a happy meal toy. Grab-all finds their amateur efforts adorable. But then they conquer Grab-all by eliminating its CEO and forcing its second to sell. They effectively take Grab-all's control to its natural conclusion in order to cover up their own crimes, track opponents for elimination, and promote their own interests.
    • Sterizon, a mobile manufacturer, gives information directly to the NSA. It ends up backfiring when they try to accumulate too much, draining the batteries and resulting in Explosive Overclocking on every single one of their mobile devices.
  • Big Red Button: NoFun Enterprises has an app designer chained up in their basement. They force her to design single-purpose smartphone apps for evil purposes (kill the prisoner with acid, blow up my enemy's base, etc).
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Aylee's species is said on their introduction (in a throwaway Alien parody) to have "concentrated orange juice for blood". Aylee also has this opinion of humans early on, thinking our need to sleep and breathe was weird.
  • Black Comedy: Lots of it. An unimportant (and even, on occasion, important character) dying or being maimed in amusing ways is a constant Running Gag of the strip, and normally horrific situations are often played for comedy. As a rule, anything involving the Dimension Of Pain will involve lots of black comedy - the That Which Redeems arc is notable for causing large amounts of Mood Whiplash by playing the atrocities going on for laughs one second and being quite literally deadly serious the next.
  • Black Magic: Gwynn. Also, a couple of one-arc villains.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Mosp has a long curving spike on each arm just below her elbows. They used to be handheld swords when she was human, but she was turned into a demon as punishment for betraying her whole dimension by letting the invading demon force pass through the dungeon she once guarded. Her swords fusing with her body was part of the transformation.
  • Bland-Name Product
    Riff: Hey! You're not really military!
    Soldier: How do you know?
    Riff: Your pocket says "United Stares Arny".
  • Blatant Lies: "No Content on Saturdays".
  • Blind Date: An early storyline has Sam setting up Torg on one of these.
  • Body-Count Competition: Between Torg, Gwynn, and Riff while killing zombies. There is also an unofficial one by fans who keep kill counts for the characters. (Mecha Easter Bunny held the first place for destroying Tokyo until Zorgon Gola blew up an entire universe.)
  • Body Horror: The Dimension of Lame's version of Gwynn isn't kidding when she says that she has bonded to her universe's version of the Book of E-Ville. She's now made of pages of the book. So far, it's unknown if the main universe's Gwynn suffers the same fate.
  • Brain Bleach: Lau needs some.
  • Brain–Computer Interface: The Anima dimension's distant future develops these.
  • Breaking the Fellowship: Riff's friendship with Torg and Zoe is utterly destroyed when Riff hurts Sam due to Sam being a vampire. Torg initially decides to banish him, but then decides that Riff's tech expertise is too important in the fight against Hereti Corp. So instead, he gives Riff a death threat, puts him in charge, and leaves the group with Zoë. Bunbun then references the trope, saying that without the combination of Riff's tech and Torg's leadership, they are all doomed. Riff ultimately proves Bun-bun right by becoming Commander Contrarian, and drives everyone else away with his callous and impulsive leadership.
  • Broke Episode: Several Broke Arcs, actually. (Not "bROKEN", though.)
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Squeakybobo comes back from the Dimension of Pain to kill Torg, he runs into Bun-bun. When Squeakybobo tells Bun-bun that he's next on the revenge list for killing him, Bun-bun can't remember who he is.
  • Call-Back: In a 1997 strip, Riff and Torg goof off teleporting in Trolorian Gogo-Dancers. When one of their coworkers protests, they discuss throwing her out into space but settle for just her clothes. In a 2020 strip, in the Anima dimension, they encounter members of the same race, who worship the goddess Troloria. During a party, they drunkenly call themselves "Torloria's Ogo-Dancers" and a pair of of party goers discuss whether to toss Riff out of the party or just his clothes. Justified in that the latter is a hallucination caused by an extremely powerful psychic, who could have read Torg's mind about the former event.
  • Call-Forward: Timeless Space in the Oceans Unmoving storyline is home to many people who found themselves there due to being involved in time travel experiments. One of them (Sir John Jacobs' emissary to Lady Noga) is seen chronologically a few years later in the strip as the supervillain Time Czar's assistant and we actually see the incident where he gets zapped into Timeless Space.
  • The Cameo: Whenever anyone visits an alternate universe, Abrams generally brings out alternate versions of a lot of C-list characters from storylines years before. Occasionally this even happens in reverse.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Minion Master (or so he desperately wants to be).
  • Cassandra Truth: Hereti Corp attempts to threaten a US senator by eliminating a restaurant he is fond of and accidentally eliminates a bus full of nuns instead. The incident is a very public "Zappo!", causing the bus to vanish in front of plenty of eyewitnesses and with plenty of evidence left behind. But using their control over social media via Grab-all, a Google parody, they completely silence the matter by framing anyone who buys the story as a loony Conspiracy Theorist.
  • Cat Fight: A great one takes place between Sasha and Monicruel in this strip, complete with Clothing Damage and an appreciative male audience.
  • Catchphrase:
    • Riff: "Let me check my notes" and "I'm on a budget here."
    • Bert: "My world is a crotch!"
    • Kiki:
      • "Oooh, shiny!"
      • "Stay good, _____! Stay good!" This one has even become something of a fandom/forum catchphrase itself. Whenever someone does or thinks something morally ambiguous, you can bet someone's going to say it, sometimes even Pete himself, and it pops up in non-comic related conversations occasionally as well.
    • Bun-bun('s switcblade): Ka-click
    • Dimension of Pain demons: "How evil."
    • Chaz, whenever it is activated: "Good evening, master. Whom are we going to kill this eve"
    • Crushestro: "I CRUSH you!"
    • "I'll be good" by anyone who gets threatened with something.
  • Cats Are Mean: Satanic kittens known as "The Evil".
  • Cat Girl: Kitty-Girl Clowney-Devil! In Riff's dream, he being terrified of clowns and surrounded by killer kittens.
  • Cavemen Versus Astronauts Debate: The axiom of food flavor.
  • Cerebus Retcon: All the time. Perhaps the most subtle example is the early story arc Robot Rampage, which at the time seemed like a goofy filler action storyline that didn't impinge on the ongoing character dynamics between Sam, Val, Zoe and Torg that had been established. Yet it gave us Riff's first battle robot, the proliferation of which is forming the basis for the comic's arcs fifteen years later; it involved Bun-bun accidentally killing the Easter Bunny which set up Holiday Wars; after Bun-bun damaged the robot Riff tried to repair it with parts from his DFA and zapped Torg into the Dimension of Pain for the first time, setting up That Which Redeems; and more, all because Riff built a robot to do his laundry and Bun-bun stole it to rob a bank.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Perhaps the first webcomic to undergo this process. "Vampires" in 1998 was the first storyline with danger that was played seriously, a few strips that didn't end with a gag, and someone dying and it not being treated as a joke. Since then, the comic has continued to develop darker and more epic storylines amidst all the silliness.
    • Individual characters continue to suffer from it even after it afflicts the comic as a whole. Minion Master was introduced as a gag character. Even once he becomes plot-relevant, for suitably dramatic reasons, he's still treated as a complete and total joke by all of the protagonists. Then we get to see his backstory...
  • Character Arc: Everyone seems to be getting one.
    • For Torg it's That Which Redeems.
    • For Riff it's the 4U City series.
    • For Bun-bun it's Oceans Unmoving. The Holiday Wars arc was centered on him too, but it wasn't really about character development. Interestingly, due to time travel weirdness, the Bun-bun we see in Oceans Unmoving turns out to be a younger Bun-bun, before he meets Torg and Riff.
    • Aylee gets the storyline named after her.
    • Zoë got hers early in The Storm Breaker Saga, but it was only partly about her. She also shares Fire and Rain with Oasis.
    • Speaking of Oasis, she gets one Phoenix Rising, though it only raises more questions, some of which are answered in bROKEN.
    • Gwynn's was The Bug, The Witch, and The Robot... and then Mohkadun a good 13 years later. Not shockingly, a major plot point tied into the climax of The Bug, The Witch, and the Robot.
    • For Doctor Schlock of all people, it's (Another) Year in the Life of a Villain.
  • The Chessmaster: Subverted (complete with visual aids) at one point, and played straight several other times.
    • Holy shit yes.
    • BLAM!
    • What makes the comic so interesting is that every major player, whether good or bad or any where in between, is a Chessmaster from Torg to Riff to Will to Chilus to K'y'k to Doctor Schlock to Dr. Chen to Squishydodo to Strum "Strawman" Nash to Tempest to the Fate Spiders and countless others. No one really grabs the idiot ball, usually. It is more of a gambit pileup that's been running the game between them for YEARS.
  • Chekhov's Gag: Several, but, in particular, EMERGENCY PANTS!
    • Ceiling Darts and the associated "WOH-PAH!".
  • Chekhov's Gun: A common thread in these incidents of the trope is that Abrams often tends to load a bullet in the chamber years before he finally fires it. In some cases, a decade or more has passed before one of these will come into play again.
    • Specifically for Oasis, Chekhov's boom. Remember how many explosions seem to happen around Oasis? All of them were obscure hints to the Wham Episode revelation. One particularly sneaky instance of this happening at what, at the time, the reader assumed was Gwynn activating her powers...was in fact Gwynn fending off a pyrokinetic explosion from Oasis. Bet you didn't see THAT coming seven years ago!
    • From that same arc, those bizarre nightmares that Gwynn had while possessed by K'Z'K way back when turned out to be visions of the future. And one them happened to be of Zoë burning alive...
    • Earlier on, Torg got Lord Torgamous' sword in the Storm Breaker Saga arc years before it would be revealed as the magic sword Chaz and Chaz's origins several years after that, and Hereti-Corp was first mentioned in a throwaway line as the company that cloned Percy the man-eating mammoth years before it was brought up again or linked to Oasis.
    • Dunuloa's hat of magic spell containing eggs. Twice. Though Zoe throwing the egg that binds K'Z'K again at least subverts the expectation of how they come into play.
  • Chew Toy:
    • Squeekybobo the elf gets abused beyond belief... he somehow managed to come out worse for it when he was resurrected (partly because he was set up to become king of Hell right when it happened).
    • More recently, there's ZombieHeadOnAStick. She's still sentient, but the characters treat her like a toy or tool.
  • Chick Magnet:
  • Children in Tow: The psychological effect of ducklings following their mother is so strong that they are used as an emergency barrier during a car chase. Even the bad guys treat them like they are a completely impenetrable wall and don't even consider running them over in order to continue the chase.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A lot of characters have this. The villains in the various parody arcs usually deserve special mention. This usually plays out for comedic purpose, but Abrams has managed to play it off quite well in dramatic arcs, too.
  • Claustrophobia: Zoë isn't claustrophobic, but is able to give herself a panic attack by picking a terrible time to think about how lucky she is not to be claustrophobic.
  • Close-Enough Timeline: Torg at first thinks that the Dimension of Lame constitutes one (the only visible differences being that Riff has different glasses, Zoe has purple hair and has the hots for Torg, and that Bun-bun is nice while Kiki is nasty) but he soon changes his mind after he finds out they don't have beer.
  • Closer to Earth: Lampshaded when Torg and Riff get transported to another dimension that turns them into women: Torg immediately feels that he's (she's?) more on top of things, if also more sensitive. However, in the comic itself is also somewhat fused with Only Sane Man - Zoe is definitely Closer to Earth (if allowing herself to revel in the insanity around her from time to time), whereas Gwynn thinks she's closer to Earth but tends to be as childish as a boys much of the time - the arc where they're all living together spells it out pretty well.
  • Coca-Pepsi, Inc.:
    • In this Faked Rip Van Winkle strip, there's "Winux 2004" (Windows + Linux).
    • A non-future example—Sasha was introduced as working for parcel company "UpEx" (UPS + FedEx).
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Torg has his moments of brilliance and awesomeness, but they're spaced out with plenty of silly, stupid, and outright weird (if not by the comic universe's standards) stuff.
  • Combining Mecha: Gofotron from the Punyverse arc, also using other related tropes such as Leader Forms the Head.
  • Commitment Issues: It's implied Riff might have this hang up, although it could also be a combination of attracting crazies (even the ones he remains friends with) and not being the best at expressing himself.
  • Content Warnings: During the "K I T T E N" arcs. Usually somewhat satirical in nature.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment - For when Bun-bun thinks death is too good for you.
  • Corporate Warfare: The R&D wars.
  • Crapsack World: Especially (but not limited to) the Oceans Unmoving storyline.
    • Mohkadun seems to imply Sluggy Prime is like this as well. Reality exists entirely to be destroyed with everyone and everything in it. The stretch of time between creation and destruction is called "the Spark." We're on our seventh spark. And it's been stated that all anyone's been able to do is keep delaying the end of the spark because you cannot have a beginning without an end. Sooner or later, they will fail...and the whole thing starts over again.
  • Curse Escape Clause: A ghost is cursed to play solitaire with 51 cards until the end of time—or until someone breaks the glass in front of the 52nd card, in case of emergency....
  • Deadly Euphemism: Parodied in a story where Torg and Riff work for 'Mr. Middleman' doing jobs that sound like this, but turn out to be totally harmless, such as a vampire wanting a 'dirt nap' (vampires recharge energy by sleeping in their native soil) and someone actually wanting 'concrete shoes' for orthopaedic reasons.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Most often Chaz in recent years. Has been used by other characters throughout the years, though.
  • Deal with the Devil: Played straight and parodied multiple times (including the first week of publication).
  • Death by Cameo: Several fans of the strip have won the right to have cameos on it - and all of them die in various interesting ways within a few strips of appearing.
  • Death Glare: Zoë's mom is a professional at this. Turns out it has range.
  • Death Is Cheap: Oasis becomes the subject of a mocking parody for a FAQ week in this strip, before playing it straight. A lot.
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Riff has built many anti-vampire weapons, both for himself and for Vampire Hunter Arminius Vambrey, as well as anti-demon ones for fighting both K'z'k and the Dimension of Pain demons.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Riff seems to have reached this at the end of Paradise.
  • Deus ex Machina: Parodied and kind of lampshaded with the Deus Ex Ovum, an egg imbued with the power of Zeus that can set everything right in regards to the personifications of the holidays. It actually works rather like a pre-planned cut-and-paste Deus ex Machina, in that it's introduced out of nowhere some time before it's used, and immediately lampshaded, as if Pete Abrams could see his story writing itself in a corner before he actually got there. (Which would be unsurprising.)
  • Did Not Do the Bloody Research: Lara Kroft-Macaroni-And-Cheese is a parodic exaggeration of the trope.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When many of Torg's and Riff's zanier plans go awry, there's often someone else who will suggest that they didn't think the plan through all the way.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Riff's stake gun vs. the Mind Wedgier.
  • Dinky Drivers: Bun-Bun occasionally steals Torg's car, with Kiki working the pedals. In this instance, Torg accompanies them - and instead of driving normally, he has to work the pedals, with Kiki on the gear stick.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: In this comic, Torg and Riff plan "Operation Orange Tomato," a plan to exterminate all chipmunks in retaliation for stealing tomatoes from Torg's garden.
  • Dissimile and Metaphorgotten: A LOT, mainly from Torg, e.g. his increasingly Innocent Innuendo-filled explanation of politics to Kiki involving balls, and his insistence on adding "WITH GHOSTS IN THE GAS TANK!" to every metaphor Riff comes up with for the Hellevator mentioned below.
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
  • The Ditz: Nearly everyone except Zoë.
  • Don't Ask, Just Run: You don't question Code Boom.
  • Doom Magnet: Most random minor characters whom the gang gets acquainted with die in their current adventures (see the "K I T T E N" storylines, for instance). They really aren't the best people to know. Basically, any character the gang meets either joins the main cast (or at least the recurring cast), or dies; they can't just fade back to obscurity. Subverted by Kent who just vanished after one of the vampire arcs. Other characters also pay in other ways for associating with the gang. For example, Leo ended up getting hurt after he ate food whose weight couldn't be shed, leading him to be unbalanced for his cannon and Broadman lost his job at the radio station after he got blamed for a cow stampede that Riff started.
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: It is implied Grahammy is one.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The bROKEN arc.
    • More recently, the Paradise - 758449 arc.
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Jack Daniels: Bun-bun becomes quite a friendly rabbit once he gets enough booze in him.
  • Dramatic Irony:
    • In the "bROKEN" story arc, Several characters mention Oasis' murder of the "innocent" Monica. Readers, however, know that Monica was far from innocent-she was a member of a K'Z'K cult sent to spy on the gang by her superiors. Of course, Oasis didn't know this-Monica's death was due to her unintentional triggering of Oasis' Berserk Button. It's also an interesting subversion of the Moral Event Horizon. (see the entry for details)
    • Torg confronts Hereti Corp with Oasis in front of him to talk, believing there is no way they will risk killing Oasis to get him since they've been wanting to control her so long. But readers already know that Hereti Corp was recently given a plan that would allow them to track the source of Oasis's immortality by killing her current body. They shoot Oasis right in the middle of Torg's Kirk Summation. As soon they confirm said kill and that it got them what they wanted, they go all out to kill Torg and his comrades.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Both Gwynn and Torg have had symbolic, prophetic dreams of things to come, specifically about Oasis and Zoë. Gwynn has one of these about Zoe being burned alive. Too bad she forgot about it until seven years later. Torg has also had prophetic dreams about the same event, and possibly an event following them.
  • Dressing to Die: Before Zoe is to be beheaded, Sigurd asks to have her change out of her prisoner garb and into her modern clothes, so she can look as she did when she found her, and thus prove his claim that she's a spy. Luckily, he also gives back her shotgun and a shell, enabling Zoe to shoot the Deadel executioner and save Sigurd's life.
  • Driving Question: It's far from the only plot thread in the comic, but probably the biggest is "What is the real nature of Oasis?" (and, ultimately, can Torg and Zoe ever be free of the threat from her).
    • A subtler one is "Why does Hereti-Corp want Oasis so badly?", given that (as several characters point out over the years) though she is a valuable immortal assassin, so is Kusari who they already have.
  • Dude, Not Ironic: This strip.
    "The irony! Crushed by a giant gorilla... on my birthday!"
    "That's not ironic."
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Several.
    • Mosp's attack on Horribus.
    • Fittingly, and weirdly, Bert one gets one with his last (living) lines: "Viva la Crotch!"
    • 2003's Batman Gambit to defeat Holiday Bun Bun
  • Dystopia:
    • 4U City.
    • The Alternate Future where K'Z'K rules with its army of Deadels is another good example.
    • The Dimension of Lame was certainly heading in this direction once the demons took over.
  • Empathy Pet: During the Anima arc, the gang gets stuck in a dimension where the souls of all sapient life manifest a symbolic creature called an "anima" representing their current feelings. This makes deception impossible for most people, with the exception of the bedeviled, who possess corrupted animas. As a result, it is one of the friendliest and most peaceful dimensions that gang has ever visited, at least when it comes to sapient folk interactions (the wild natural fauna on the other hand included deadly giant monsters). The gang still manages to get themselves chased out of society by a torch-and-pitchfork angry mob, several times.
  • The End of the World as We Know It:
    • According to the Fate Spiders, the Great Tangle will cause reality itself to break down if its not fixed.
    • Also, K'Z'K's job description.
    • In the Anima dimension, evil people figured out how to invoke Your Soul is Mine!, allowing them to increase their psychic power by killing other people and stealing their animas. They annihilated most of the population stealing animas, bringing the about the downfall of their entire civilization and continued to hunt people down even afterwards. The situation got so bad that it was ultimately only resolved via Divine Intervention, when the goddess in charge of their world (i.e. the last survivor of the anima wars) was forced to rewrite how the entire anima system worked.
  • Enemy Chatter: Every once in a while, used for fun by minions. Typical instance here. Sometimes painful with the Mood Whiplash.
  • Enlightenment Superpowers: According to a zombie named Jane, real magic normally requires spirituality and depth of personality.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Torg, maybe carrying around a Zombie Head on A Stick is not such a hot idea. Especially since said head is only mindless while starved. Once fed, it seems she returns to her original, vindictive, cruel self. And now the villain you wronged earlier has been doing just that, and they're about to team up and hunt down your unaware friends. Way to go. Fortunately, ZHOAS is still a giant Butt Monkey, so this doesn't last.
  • Evil Matriarch: Vrykolakas vampires are able to gain independence and increased power by vampyrising those who share their blood. Urja has spent centuries tracking down all of her descendants and enslaving them.
  • Evil Overlord: "His Masterness"
  • Evil vs. Evil:
    • The story "Another Year in the Life of a Villain" effectively sees Strom, Dr. Chen, Daedalus, Kusari, and Dr. Schlock all at each others' throats (mostly Schlock's). In fact, ever since taking over Hereti Corp, Schlock versus most of his enemies has been a case of this, including Hereti Corp versus Crushestro, No-Fun Corp, and the Cult of K'z'K.
    • The war between the Vorpyr, Vrykolakas, and Strakoistrat vampires effectively amounts to this, with 3 different factions of parasitic monsters at one another's throats.
  • The Exile: Khronus, the Top God of the Mohkadun pantheon, banishes all the other gods of Mohkadun out of rage at the deaths of his wife and son.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Averted, with most characters having Alternate Universe versions and tragedies happening to the latter often being just as serious and dramatic as something happening to the original. Indeed in the case of some minor characters, their Alternate Universe versions sometimes get more development than the prime-timeline ones.
  • Extra-Strength Masquerade: The fantastic is blatantly obvious and in plain sight all over the place, yet normals never pay much attention to it.
    • At one point, Zoe reports freakish activity at Clonegressive's offices, but the cops are completely dismissive of her claims. All they saw was a biologically engineered spaceship which blew the roof of the building. No evidence of brain eating bugs. They proceed to accuse her of making up stories.
    • It is perfectly normal for Satan to show up on reality TV, and this will be accepted at face value. And yet, on normal occasions, the populace does not believe in demons.
    • Even K'z'k unleashing a massive zombie army isn't enough, with the news quickly dismissing it as mass hysteria induced by Marilyn Mason.
    • The only event that even left a dent in The Masquerade was when Aylee went on a rampage and destroyed an entire neighbourhood, leaving behind an Inferred Holocaust. And even that didn't have any lasting impact.
    • A Hereti Corp goon tells a trio of Christmas elves that she doesn't believe in Santa. Or them. Even as she's negotiating with them.
  • Faked Rip Van Winkle: Done by Zoe and Riff to Torg here and here.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: How Aylee was born. Well, except for the "face" part.
  • Fake Kill Scare
  • Fate Worse than Death: Zoë, if we believe Rammer. After the events of 4U City Red, we learn that she *IS* alive as a permanently comatose vegetable, since the nanites had no mental snapshot of her... and simply rebuilt her body... with no mind inside.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: All sorts of legends from various sources are referenced, and parodied.
  • Fanservice: Done and lampshaded here.
  • Fictional Video Game: Several; the Fashion Rancher series on the PlayStayshun, the PC MMORPG Years of Yarncraft, the smartphone casual game HamsterNom, and Super Duper Dream Fighters, apparently the result of demons doing an in-universe defictionalisation of Torg's Fighting Game dreams.
  • Fiery Redhead: Oasis is literally one.
  • Filler: Usually of the 'non-demanding art' variety in between major storylines; in the early days this was usually planned stick-figure weeks or guest artist weeks (and these still appear) but there can also be more erratic examples of things like sketches and fanart submissions used unexpectedly when plotting issues, illness etc. delays the main comic.
  • Finger in the Mail: Magon sends Torg a finger that supposedly belongs to Zoe (in fact, he got it from one of the guards), to convince him that Zoe's dead.
  • Flanderization: Sam Sein. Once the stubborn, clueless guy who couldn't take a "no" from Zoë. Now practically incapable of tying his shoelaces and pathetically excited over even the slightest possibility that a woman might not hate him. Compare 1997 Sam to 2009 Sam.
    • It's possible that vampirism has some mental effects.
  • Foreshadowing: With hints and clues showing up in disguised form several years before the payoff. Possibly the biggest, most subtle example is the revelation that Oasis is a pyrokinetic, which makes earlier encounters crystal clear hints to this end.
    • Also, if you stop and think, Zoë being burned alive by Oasis had been hinted at since the second K'Z'K arc.
      Chilus: The book was to be closed on [Zoe]. Given a year or two, she'd burn on her own.
    • A deceptive one was Bert making one of his apparently random crotch-related comments about a prophetic vision, only for the next storyline to indeed end with a giant space-crotch being flown by Torg and Riff fleeing for their lives.
    • A long-range one was that the title of the "Fire and Rain" storyline from 2002 did not only describe the events therein, but also foreshadowed those of "bROKEN" from 2009, as indicated in the annotation to this strip.
    • Even the Research & Development Wars were foreshadowed all the way back at the Clonegressive arc, during 28 Geeks Later. Although the boss's speech implies they are going on at the time, they don't become central until years later.
    • During the second K'Z'K plot, Gwyn's visions are packed full of foreshadowing. Oasis is the puppet. The four fiery pillars are her hair, which foreshadows her pyrokinesis. This immediately precedes Vision!Zoe burning alive, which Oasis later does to her. Riff as a juggler being juggled by (not juggling) three numbered pins, followed by Sasha wearing a three shirt: fans theorised for years this referred to three possible girlfriends for Riff, but years later it was revealed that it was actually foreshadowing that there were three Sashas. And her visions give her the clues she needs to defeat K'Z'K.
    • At the end of the "Dangerous Days Ahead" storyline way back in 2002, Dr Schlock (who had briefly been forced to work for Hereti-Corp at the time) told Torg he only vaguely knew that Hereti-Corp needed to track Oasis in relation to the location of Dr Steve's base. In 2008, when Dr Schlock has taken over Hereti-Corp, he unveils his "Schlock Triangle" plan. At first this seems to be unrelated, but finally in 2017 it is revealed that it was the culmination of the same plan, and it's explained why this was so important: to use triangulation of the signals to find the location of Oasis' real form in orbit.
    • Captain Blacksoul being a Teknokon robot is foreshadowed here between the chapter of Dr. Viennason's Visual Guide to Surviving Timeless Space Calix is watching and the fact that Blacksoul says he had his ears turned off.
  • Formally Named Pet: After surviving a horrible explosion, Bun-Bun temporarily loses his memory and is adopted by a family that renames him Mr. Fuzbutt.
  • Friend to Psychos: The Zalia family to Oasis.
  • Fun with Acronyms:
    • 'Notification of Unified Kindness' Envelopes as the ultimate weapon within the Dimension of Peace.
    • From this strip: Recording Editable Content Application Peripheral.
    • OASIS turns out to be one as well.
  • Gambit Pileup:
    • Between the Dimension of Pain, Hereti Corp, the K'Z'K cult and the Fate Spiders, our heroes seem to get caught up in many different plots.
    • And now it looks a new demonic party has entered the fray.
  • Garden of Eden: When Torg and Aylee are staying in another dimension while the media coverage of the latter dies down, the locals have a number of mountain-based gardens, the largest of which is named Eden.
  • Genetic Abomination: During a battle between supervillains, a minion of the Nofun Corporation, which specializes in viral mutagens, tosses a vial of "Cheesy Bossmonster Virus" in the direction of Dr. Shankraft's minions, and one particularly stupid one mistakes it for a jello shot and drinks it. This causes him to grow an eyeball in his chest before mutating into a colossal tentacled monster with More Teeth than the Osmond Family.
  • Genre-Busting:It started out as simply a Fantastic Comedy, then (while still keeping comedy a staple) started playing Genre Roulette with soap operatic drama, epic fantasy/science-fiction, spy stories, horror, film noir, and so on. However, thanks to the constantly accumulating continuity, story elements introduced while handling one genre will still be around when another genre takes the foreground, creating some weird combinations. Like sci-fi epic "Oceans Unmoving" having a lead character who's a Talking Animal that went to war with Santa Claus. Or the wacky adventure of "A Time for Hair-raising" drawing upon Torg's past as an action hero and Gwynn's past as a victim of Demonic Possession. Or the dark, brutal story told in "Fire and Rain" still having a Zoe-gets-turned-into-a-camel gag.

    During a top 10 webcomics list the youtuber found great difficulty describing just what Sluggy Freelance is about. By about halfway through he starts having fits. Here's the Sluggy segment by itself.
  • Genre Savvy:
    Sintos: Come on, guys! Never say "we'll get what's coming to us", "our just rewards" or "it can't get any worse" before or after summoning an undead lord!
    Bishop Osterhagen: Another odd american custom. There is nothing to fear, Agent Sintos. We are the most highly trained Zaubermeisters of Europe, what could go wrong?
    Sintos: *facepalm*
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul:
    • Dr. Schlock's ultimate goal is to do this to everyone else, so as to prevent the risk of anyone ever trying to kill him ever again. In the 4U city universe, he succeeded for a while.
    • Torg, Gwynn, and a spellcaster named Marco get stranded in an area under a dreadful curse. The curse magnifies rage and turns anyone who feels enough hate into a monster. When the hate starts becoming too much for Marco to handle, he uses an empathic spell on everyone to counter it for a while.
  • Ghost Planet:
    • The Dimension of Pain, where the original inhabitants were wiped out. There are still plenty of demons though.
    • In the Anima dimension's distant future, it is mysteriously empty of living people, the evidence suggests that everyone's physical bodies died a few centuries ago, and robots continue to maintain everything on autopilot.
  • Golem: Clutter Monster, which Gwynn made out of the junk in their apartment.
  • Gilligan Cut: A brilliant example early on in the strip (after Torg has been zapped into a random dimension by the DFA and Riff is trying to repair it):
    Riff: Torg should be fine as long as he didn't get zapped to a 'Dimension of Pain' or something.
    (Cut to Torg surrounded by a horde of demons with chains and bladed weapons)
    Lord Horribus: Welcome to the Dimension of Pain!
    Torg: Thanks! Can I use your restroom?
    Lord Horribus: Nope.
  • Girls' Night Out Episode: Coincidentally titled "Girl's Night Out."
  • Girls with Moustaches: The "A Time For Hair-Raising" arc starts with Zoe and Gwynn growing beards from a hair-growth spell gone wrong, as seen here.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Played relatively straight by Gwynn, subverted by everyone else. Especially Riff, both of whose consciences are so apathetic and reticent they forget which side they're meant to take at times. Torg's bad angel is Ax-Crazy, with no subtlety for tempting. Conversely, Zoë's good angel is sufficiently adept at putting her foot in her mouth that the bad angel rarely has to say anything, really.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: In the R&D wars, Torg and company are the good, Hereti Corp and Chrushestro are the bad, and the No-Fun Legacy group and the Cult of K'Z'K are the evil.
  • Going Commando: In this strip, Gwynn takes off her wet clothes and puts on, as her only article of clothing, an overcoat found in the house she and Torg are investigating, explaining in the next strip that her wet underwear was chafing. Torg, as usual, can only focus on "she was naked", much to her annoyance.
  • Gorn: So many, many sprays of blood in the "K I T T E N" arcs.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: The alternate universe in which Riff becomes trapped during the 4U City arc in takes this to a ridiculous level, to the point where none of Riff's chemistry class can't tell that they're having a staring contest with a balloon. Not just a balloon with a drawn on face, but a balloon wearing drawn on sunglasses.
  • Grandfather Clause: Bun-bun's Baywatch obsession, though now rarely referenced, has survived after all the other Nineties-specific pop culture references died away, just because of how definitive a part of his character it is.
  • Grand Finale: Pete has confirmed that "Fallen" will be this to the entire Hereti Corp arc and possibly the comic as a whole.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Aylee's humanoid incarnations. And parodied fairly early on, too, from back when Torg and Riff would holler at the ladies more readily.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: One of Riff's biggest problems with the R&D wars. Way back when, it was easy to tell who the bad guys were. But now, Riff is allied with a vampire and nearly got killed by the girl he liked. There are still some factions that are Obviously Evil, like the No-Fun Legacy Group. But even Hereti Corp, which was clearly villainous in the past, is starting to look more like a case of Necessarily Evil.
  • Guilt by Association Gag: Unsympathetically played by Dr. Lorna.
  • Hammerspace: Half-lampshaded here.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: In the arc "758449", Riff finds himself in an alternate dimension city-state which enforces perpetual happiness with knockout drug injections at the slightest hint of discontent.
  • Hellevator: An entire house (WITH GHOSTS IN THE GAS TANK!).
  • Heel–Face Turn: Several characters, Sam and Aylee being the most prominent (though it's not exactly clear whether Sam was down with the whole "evil vampire" bit at all in the first place or if he was just pretending). Oasis temporarily becomes a sort-of good guy, at first due a sheer mental and personality breakdown, while the second seems to be an honest try to be a hero, unfortunately marred by her homicidal tendencies. Dr. Steve is implied to have quit Hereti-Corp because of this, and it's revealed Kesandru had pulled one in an alternate universe.
  • Heel Realization: Riff, when he realizes that Hereti Corp was an evil organization bent on using his friends for their diabolical ends, and discovers that his scientific reports back to them (which held little interest to them until he started talking about the several levels of crazy that happens in his life on a daily basis, including transdimensional travel and space aliens) were helping them do just that. In the end he's very bent on revenge.
    • 4U!Riff and 4U!Frog, upon finding out that Riff intends to risk his life to try and save a dying 4U!Mimi, laugh and insult him for his Chronic Hero Syndrome, only for 4U!Frog to admit that there is something seriously wrong with them.
  • He-Man Woman Hater: Dr. Nofun, Lau, and the rest of his organisation, taken to comically ridiculous levels. Subverted by Dr. Nofun when he reveals that he faked his misogyny to surround himself with men he could frighten and women who were weak. By doing things this way, he could control everyone in his company so that no one would betray him. Lau was flabbergasted because it made a very strange amount of sense.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Subverted. Oasis is the only major redhead in the strip, and though Torg's initial reaction to her was in those lines, now it is generally and for very good reasons "RUN. LIKE. HELL." It's more a case of Redheads Want ''Heroes''.
  • High-Pressure Blood: Possibly ironic, definitely hilarious.
  • Historical Domain Character: Menelaus, king of Sparta, and Helen of Troy appear as vampires.
  • Holding Back the Phlebotinum: The technology of 4U city includes Nanites that can completely rebuild a dead person from a backup and portals that can predictably enter any location within any dimension at any time you want. Riff even takes it to its logical conclusion by resurrecting a dead person from a backup obtained via time travel. For obvious reasons, bringing back such technology would break the story, so 4U!Riff, a self-loathing Jerkass forbids his younger Alternate Self from bringing any of it back home. Plus, the Portal Technology is shown to have unbelievably severe drawbacks, namely the near-total obliteration of reality.
  • Homage: In "Aylee vs. Bun-bun", Bun-bun, having been eaten by Aylee, bursts out of her chest in a clear parody homage to Alien.
  • Hope Spot: Riff is still alive! ...Seconds before he's gunned down by a group of armed soldiers.
    • It was extended a bit as he briefly fought against the drug control, but ended when he believes that he is the evil dictator, not knowing that Hereti-Corp has stolen his plans for the Dimensional Flux Agitator.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: Aylee's species.
  • Humans Are Special: Mohkadun calls this out when the story reveals that humans, for all their failings in being tricked by K'Z'K, are also the only ones who've been able to stop K'Z'K from destroying reality. They are also constantly shown defeating unstoppable foes that are expected to kill them. Basically, they're always being underestimated by gods and reality eaters, which always gives them a chance to win.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: Aylee in her humanoid incarnations.
  • Humiliation Conga: The demons of the dimension of pain go through quite a lengthy one. first there were their series on embarassing failures at trying to kill Torg on each Halloween, Lord Horribus' was the worst between his unexpected diahrrea and getting controlled by a magic spell through complete accident. Horribus is then exiled into being a cameraman to a demonic Steve Irwin parody. The other Dimension of Pain demons go through a goofy election period that ends with Terribus selling his soul to a mortal, who actually turned out to be an angel who gradually transforms the Dimension of Pain and its residents into some tastes-like-diabetes Carebears-meets-Barney-land. After finally beating the angel, they all get trapped in balls and get stuck in a chasm. They get out of their balls through an innuendo-laden process that leaves them with high pitched voices and no will to do anything. Then Terribus, disguised as the Demon King, makes them start a church and play Bingo games for crappy prizes. After throwing out Terribus they attack the real Demon King who then makes them go through excercise/excorcise routines... really, after all that, is it any wonder they go bezerk all over the Dimension of Lame?
  • Hurricane of Puns: Lampshaded like all get out.
  • Idiot Hero: Mostly Torg and Riff, though everyone falls into this every once in a while.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The Dimension of Pain.
    • Other dimensions with demons also have this, including "The Dimension of Grief."
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: The survivors of Mohkadun chose to forget their forsaken background and assimilate into the Egyptians for this reason. Macha felt that burying the truth was foolish, but the elders did not see things that way. Elder Maloufo even went so far as to threaten Macha with exile if he refused to let go of their past.
  • I Have Nothing to Say to That: Zoe, in this strip.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: Almost happens in this strip.
  • I Know Mortal Kombat:
    Torg: Alright, we'll need some of the townsfolk to chop down trees, mine for gold, and set up solar collectors in case we need to build more troops. Do we have any dragons yet?
    • Later, Torg appears in one of Gwynn's visions while she's possessed by K'Z'K and thinks he's dreaming about being in a Fighting Gameand proceeds to kick K'Z'K's ass.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: A man has this reaction after having to put gym shorts on a Duh-Mentor.
    • Subverted elsewhere, when it turns out Jane's been playing with the thermostat to make Gwynn think she's died and risen as a zombie.
  • Immune to Fate: Most things in the world are bound to the Fate Web, which guides events to prevent the world from being destroyed prematurely. But not everything is subject to this. Oasis is outside of Fate, and magic, dimensional portals, and time travel are highly disruptive to its functioning. Dinosaurs exist outside the web because they existed before it, which is why Khronos has set into motion a plan to drive the remaining dinosaurs he missed extinct.
  • Informed Attribute: Parodied with Torg and Riff's "tradition" of exchanging a beer every year for Christmas/Hanukkah. They have never yet managed to pull it off without something going wrong — it's almost Sluggy's equivalent of Peanuts' annual gag with Lucy pulling the football away from Charlie Brown:
    • In 1997, Riff substitutes hot sauce for beer and doesn't tell Torg until he's already chugged it;
    • In 1998, they're trapped in a pyramid so instead get each other mummy body parts and try to make that a new tradition;
    • In 1999, they instead get each other six-foot sub sandwiches, which Torg then tries to make another tradition;
    • In 2000, Riff doesn't appreciate his tequila beer because Zoe (transformed into a camel for the first time) spat in his ear;
    • In 2001, Riff gets Torg a beer from 1837 from a brewery that only had one production run, and Torg ends up with his stomach pumped;
    • In 2002, Riff and Torg do a "Gift of the Magi" Plot spoof with clothes, with Torg saying "And we normally get each other a beer every year, so I knew this would be a total surprise";
    • In 2004, Torg gets Riff a terrible marshmallow beer because he's just come back from the Dimension of Lame and didn't have much time to shop;
    • In 2006, before they can drink from their beers, Torg is knocked out by a flying Hogtendo SuuWii remote that Gwynn lost her grip on;
    • In 2008, Riff's upset because Torg didn't get him a beer in return, even though he got him a share in a fully functioning spaceship.
    • In 2010, Torg poignantly leaves a lone beer for Riff, who had vanished in his robot explosion and was lost in the 4U city dimension.
    • In 2011 there's a "Beer Every Year" themed set of Sluggy Pawnz;
    • The joke was not used in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 or 2012.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Torg explains the political issues of the 2000 US presidential election to Kiki using balls painted with the Stars and Stripes to represent taxes. Riff can only take so many instances of Torg and Kiki talking about their balls before he snaps.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Meddling too much with Time Travel will result in the altered timeline splitting off into its own Alternate Universe. But the amount of tampering the Web of Fate can sustain a Stable Time Loop with before needing to do so is fairly significant. Even when K'Z'K alters the timeline to influence Riff's antagonistic father into enslaving followers via human trafficking, the destroyed lives are not enough to have any real impact on the flow of time. "Mortals think they're so important. Butterfly-flaps-it's-wings my ass! Time ain't that delicate."
  • Intentional Engrish for Funny: "Fashion Rancher 2" is a parody of "Blind Idiot" Translation
    • Plus Torg's fighting game dreams
    Dream Oasis: You killed my fish!
    Dream Zoe: Why does that pickle you?
    Dream Oasis: My feet hurt... with DESTINY!
  • In the Future, We Still Have Roombas: The Digbots.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Parodied with It's A Wonderful Life, Citizen, the 4U City version of the film: because Happiness Is Mandatory, the film ends as soon as its protagonist feels depressed at the beginning and he gets dumped down the judgement chute.
  • It's Not You, It's My Enemies: On the cusp of beginning a meaningful relationship with Zoë, Torg has to play a psychotic stalker variant of this when Oasis tracks him down. She's in love with him thanks to mind control and she can also fight robots, aliens, demons, and Bun-bun on an even footing. Zoë is, at best, a Badass Normal. In a stunning aversion of the Cartwright Curse Torg normally inflicts on his love interests, Torg says goodbye.
  • It Runs on Nonsensoleum
  • It Tastes Like Feet: Torg thinks Gwynn's blue-cakes taste like a giant pink eraser without the added teeth-cleaning effect. Riff thinks it's more like shoe-leather with a rotting foot still in the shoe, and an aftertaste of BS.
    Gwynn: Don't hold back, guys. Tell me what you really think.
  • James Bondage: Who are we rescuing this time? Riff or Torg? Either one will end up stuck in Another Dimension, or trapped by some Big Bad. Zoë/Gwynn/Aylee/Kiki to the rescue!
  • Jerkass: Kent, Satan.
  • Jerkass Gods: With the exception of The Krig, God of Happiness, and Ra'na, The Sun Twin, the gods of Mohkadun were pretty messed up.
  • Joke Exhaustion: Done with the question "Why is Gwynn buying monkeys?" Torg claims to have 100 jokes to get through.
  • Just Eat Him: Here.
  • Karmic Death: A zombie fetishist tries to get revenge on a company that stole his intellectual property by Mind Controlling people into a zombie-like trance and making them into cannibals, starting with said company and eventually spreading from there. He gets Hoist by His Own Petard when he accidentally centers the event on his own house and ends up being killed by his own housecat.
  • Karma Houdini: Dr. Lorna, Riff's mom, never gets paid back for being a terrible mother and an even worse human being in general. Her son's supposed death was a just an opportunity for her to write a book calling him a horrible person and taking the blame of his supposed moral failings off of herself. Riff is simply someone to show off to prove she's a great mother or someone to mock and profit off of. On top of that, she spends all day berating callers and mocking other people while falsely accusing them of crimes like wife-beating so that she looks like a Saint in comparison and then she brags about herself. People in this comic have been killed for a lot less.
  • The Key Is Behind the Lock: Zoë;'s first line in the comic is "Help! I need a phone! I locked my keys in the car with the engine running!"
  • Keystone Army: Vykro vampires have a hierarchy leading all the way up to the Queen. Should a Vykro master die, most of their underlings will die with them, and the stronger ones will be weakened. When the Queen of them all is killed by the Strakoi, it wipes out all but the absolute strongest, reducing them from thousands to less than twenty.
  • Killer Rabbit: Bun-bun; The Evil
  • Kick the Dog: Zorgon Gola, despite only appearing in a single arc, pulls this off quite nicely.
    Gola: Prepare to launch a Cascade Missile at my command!
    Trooper: What is our target Lord Gola?
    Gola: A small puppy.
  • Knight of Cerebus: The vampires in the "Vampires" arc marked the strip's first real foray into more dramatic territory. Later, the presence of Oasis, K'Z'K, or HeretiCorp is likely to signify a darker storyline.
  • Kudzu Plot: Let's just put it this way - Mohkadun rarely had a strip go by without a flurry of footnotes highlighting what every event was referencing. One wonders if Abrams has a massive flowchart web running across his drawing room to keep track of every one of his plot points that he intends to put back into play again.
  • Laughably Evil
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: A few years into the strip, technology started being referred to in this way (like the Hogtendo SuuWii and Playstayshun 2 consoles). Initially, though, things like Torg's Sega Dreamcast were given their proper names.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Subverted, averted, played straight, messed with, and sometimes just plain ignored.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Under Dr. Schlock, Hereti Corp manages to weaponize the DFA as a way to banish enemies from their own dimension. Due to the threat such a weapon poses, Hereti Corp seeks to avoid anyone realizing such a weapon exists and thus try to erase all witnesses during the first operation they are used on.
  • The Legions of Hell: The inhabitants of the Dimension of Pain, who are more inept than most. "That Which Redeems" displays what happens when they get their act together.
  • Lip Losses: During "Oceans Unmoving II" arc, pirate captain Donaly was interrogated/tortured by Sir John Jacobs's men. Unfortunately for both parties, the new interrogation knives were "amazingly sharp" and Donaly's lips were accidentally cut off, so they couldn't stop him from screaming. They managed to calm him down long enough to give them information, but he had trouble with "m", "b", and "p" sounds.
  • Little "No": Riff delivers a really potent one to Gwynn in this comic.
  • Living Legend: Torg makes quite the name for himself in the Dimension of Lame during That Which Redeems.
  • Living Shadow: For a while the Groundhog's shadow was bound to Bun-Bun. Originally it could just talk and change its shape, but after he defeated a few holidays it became able to take 3-dimensional and physical form.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: God save us...
    • In terms of supporting cast, Sluggy Freelance is to webcomics what The Simpsons is to animated TV.
    • Just listing the normal cast takes long enough. You also have clones, various versions of characters from the same universe, alternate universe versions of characters, characters living in the past, characters from the future, characters from future alternate universes, characters who technically don't exist, at least three separate pantheons of gods...
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: 4U City. Doubles as Crapsaccharine World.
  • Love Potion: Actually the name of a story arc. Gwynn attempts to fix her relationship with Zoe by using a love potion on the guy she's got a crush on, and then to later use it on Riff to get her back together with him. This being Sluggy and Gwynn being Gwynn, it all goes horribly wrong.
  • Low-Speed Chase: "Girls' Night Out" features a chase on "Smegway" personal transporters, which a human could easily outrun.
  • Magically Binding Contract:
    • The Harry Potter parody features the Goblet of Flameyness, which like the Goblet from the original book, forms a magically binding contract. It thoroughly lampshades the fact that the original story never actually explains how the contract actually enforces itself and the fact that you can force someone to obey a contract they never signed as the wizards start obeying absurd "contracts" with no protest.
    • Lysinda allied herself with the Strakoi vampires and won a war. The Strakoi decided to "gift" Lysinda with vampiric dominion over the Americas, though this was intended as an exile. They signed a magic contract that forbade Strakoi vampires from entering Lysinda's domain without permission. But now that the new world is better known, the Strakoi seek to use Loophole Abuse to claim it from Lysinda and have been quietly wiping out her circle for this reason. The magic is shown to repulse a Strakoi from coming within more than a few feet of American soil.
  • Magic or Psychic?: In the main universe, abusing Khronus's Web of Fate allows mortals to use magic. The Anima dimension lacks a fate web, making mortal magic impossible, but it has a another system created by different deity that makes it possible for mortals to use psionics.
  • Magic Versus Science:
    • According to Scholar Soco, Magic is not just poorly understood Science. The Web of Fate is a mystical construct created by Khronos, Father Time, in order to protect the world from the God of Destruction, K'Z'K. It defines a set of rules for the world to follow and guides its path to keep it safe. Science is the art of manipulating the world within the rules the Web defines. Magic is an incredibly dangerous, destructive force, that can bypass the web's restraints. Without magic, K'Z'K would remain Sealed Evil in a Can forever. But with it, he can eventually break free.
    • According to Schlock, the truth is actually the opposite of what Scholar Soco said. Science is the art of causing things to happen using the normal laws of probability, while mortal magic is the art of abusing the Fate Web to tweak those probabilities and make otherwise improbable things reality. As such, all classes of magic reliant on the Fate Web suffer from Your Magic's No Good Here and start losing power when they leave the Fate Web's boundaries, such as beyond Earth's atmosphere or when in other dimension that lacks a Fate Web.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: During the "That Which Redeems" Story Arc, Torg tries to set one of these up after the Dimension of Lame summons/kidnaps him into protecting them from Demonic Invaders. Unfortunately, all the people he recruits come from the Dimension of Lame and ... well, it's called that for a reason.
  • Mailer Daemon: K'Z'K slowly tried to convince Gwynn to fully give in to her powers and come over to help him, all through "chatting" on a word processor.
  • Marry Them All: Proposed by Torg's shoulder devil to solve the Zoë vs. Oasis issue, with the added twist of sampling their DNA to create a harem of Zoë/Oasis hybrid clones.
  • Masquerade: Magic and super science exist, but most people don't know about it. Even though there is no organized conspiracy to keep things that way, and the fantastic regularly appears in plain sight. Major corporations and their Mad Scientists regularly play with incredibly advanced technology, but none of it ever gets released to the public and is only ever used for their secret, sinister schemes. Even in the distant future, scientists are still struggling to develop practical wormhole technology, something that's child's play for modern day Riff.
  • McNinja: Kusari, most likely.
  • Meaningful Background Event: In this strip, as Zoe wonders "why we always seem to be in the middle of it", we can see a spider hanging over the group, presumably a reference to the Fate Spider's interference.
  • Mechanical Evolution: The Dig-Bots keep on reproducing for several years, until they've created several variants like the Brain Dig-Bot, Bouncer Dig-Bots, High Priest Dig-Bots, and even Trash Can Dig-Bots.
  • The Men in Black: They occasionally show up after the end of an incident, apparently to maintain The Masquerade. Not that it seems to need any help, mind.
  • Metamorphosis Monster: Aylee has gone through this over a dozen times, eventually turning into a fifty foot tall dragon and finally into the most dangerous creature of all ... a woman!
  • Mind Screw - A good portion of the comic is this.
  • The Minion Master: The protagonists are currently working for a (wannabe) super villain known as The Minion Master, but he isn't really an example because he only has four or five minions and they're really good ones (they even seem to be making the plans).
  • Mirror Universe: The Dimension of Lame was initially portrayed like this in some ways (with a nice Bun-bun and a nasty Kiki) but when it appeared again, this was subject to a Cerebus Retcon (everyone from this universe are Perfect Pacifist People, and the nasty Kiki is an immigrant from a Crapsack World universe).
  • Misblamed: A lot of the fanbase didn't like what Ian Mcdonald did with his "Meanwhile in the Dimension of Pain" strip and would regularly complain about it. Mcdonald has said he basically started ignoring the criticism when those same fans bashed Mcdonald for a 'Meanwhile' strip that had been drawn by Abrams, reasoning that if they couldn't even tell the difference between his art style and Abrams', they weren't worth listening to.
  • Mistaken for Racist: When writing a tweet, "According to statistics, wheits clearly superior to balkmen", much to get chagrin, it gets autocorrected to "According to statistics, whites clearly superior to black men" when posted.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist
  • Mobile-Suit Human: Bun-bun and Kiki's Riff and Torg costume robotic suits. Also count as a Strangely Effective Disguise, as they are obviously more angular in look than the real thing yet seem to fool everyone.
  • Monster Progenitor: The first vampire was a malevolent deity named Drakku.
  • Monster Roommate: Aylee, obviously. Occasionally Sam the vampire. Depending on one's definition of "monster" Bun-bun might also qualify.
  • Mood Whiplash: The tone can shift from funny to dramatic to heartwarming to heartrending to terrifying whenever Pete feels like it.
    • "Does this affect our upcoming date?" Note that Sam asks this to Sasha after she survives being shot.
    • This is a perfect example of Sluggy's attitude to this trope: Riff suddenly realises that a mysterious message from the ghost Beth has the last word hidden behind a mirror which dramatically turns the situation upside down and reveals the house is a ghost trap, but in the middle of it Torg also realises that another message from her reading "Torg is great" also had the end cut off behind furniture and actually reads "Torg is a great big dummy".
    • Hunted by undying assassin Oasis, the mood is generally frantic and gloomy. "Nobody saw that."
  • Mook Horror Show: They may be antagonists, but it's almost hard not to feel sorry for Hereti Corp's goons as Oasis mercilessly mows them down.
  • Morality Pet: Oasis has several. Torg's a subversion since her infatuation with him is the cause of her villainy. Meanwhile, Katie and her mother Kareen are straight examples.
    • Morality Chain: Her master, Feng, who was also responsible for helping her overcome the brainwashing. His death causes her to immediately abandon it all and elope with Torg, which starts the chain events that led to Zoe's death.
  • Multilayer Façade: Parodied in a filler arc done by several guest artists here, in which the evil mastermind is progressively unmasked as Reakk from the Dimension of Pain, Dr. Schlock, Vice-President Al Gore, brilliant but mentally disturbed physicist Nikola Tesla, Kindly Old Mrs. Appleby, and Stick Figure Shirt-Guy Tom. And then Bruno the Bandit refuses to believe that's the final layer and ends up ripping Tom's head off.
  • Mugging the Monster: Parodied and subverted by Bob/Skip, who initially acts like a stereotypical Genre Blind moron before revealing he is every bit as monstrous as his victim.
  • Muggles Do It Better: Used for laughs here.
  • Name's the Same: invokedDiscussed about three different characters who all at some point were named "Sluggy"
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • The demon aristocracy almost by default: Lord Horribus, Queen Deplora, Lord Psykosis.
    • The supervillain CRUSHESTRO.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Two of Aylee's forms have been humanoid (and naked) women. She's shown InnocentFanserviceGirl-ness in both forms, the first time during which Torg just stood back and enjoyed the view, and the second time he downed a large amount of alcohol and taught her about clothing after she revealed her built-in cloak was really wings (accidentally flashing him with disturbingly-human naughty bits in the process). Outside of Aylee, Zoë's clothing usually doesn't survive her transformation into a camel, and one storyline had every scrap of clothing in the house being eaten by evil moths.
    • Not really the nudity itself so much as the reaction to it, but Torg's attempt at having a cohesive flashback while Sasha is changing is too funny. Played straight when he finally does turn his back and Sasha continues to let him think she's changing after she's fully dressed again. He didn't notice that she took off her bra three times.
  • Necromancer: K'Z'K has demonstrated the ability to control dead bodies and steal souls. Dunuloa, a mad demigod, was one of the earliest, and developed the art in order to torment mankind. Kesandru committed murders and enslaved the souls of his victims to perform magic tricks.
  • Never Found the Body: Oasis was played like this at first. After she resurfaced unexpectedly and apparently died again without her body being found, the main characters hung a lampshade and the unspoken consensus was that they hadn't seen the last of her.
  • Never Recycle a Building: Kesandru House; justified since it's infested with ghosts. Luckily, our heroes are used to dealing with worse.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The Fate Spiders' attempts to undo the Great Tangle turned out to only make it worse.
    • More of a Nice Job Breaking It Villain, but Dr. Schlock reinstating Dr. Chen in Hereti Corp, who then takes back his place as CEO and orders Kusari to kill everyone in the building.
    • Riff learns that Torg's attempts to bring down Hereti Corp are likely to result in a chain of events that will turn their world into a replica of 4UCity's world, and it might already be too late to stop it.
  • No Name Given: Most of the cast's last names are never stated (this is lampshaded in the Torg Potter parodies, in which Torg is known as 'the Lastnameless One'). The secondary cast often have stated surnames though.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Book of E. Vile was intended to be this. The book's creator, Quint Bookbinder wanted to disguise K'Z'K's prison as a useless Spell Book no one would ever want, and believing the Latin word for uselessness to be E. Vile, chose to name it that. In practice however, multiple languages interpreted it as "evil".
  • No One Could Survive That!: Lampshaded with extreme prejudice multiple times.
  • Noodle Incident: Just what did happen between Bun-bun and Santa that necessitated the use of the first Deus Ex Ovum and Bun-bun's ejection from the time stream? And more importantly, when did it happen?
    • Operation Red Durango...for now.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: The demons of the Dimension of Pain are comically inept and prone to petty bickering...and are also absolutely deadly, as seen in That Which Redeems. This results in a lot of Mood Whiplash.
    • Dr. Schlock, too. He serves as a Butt-Monkey from his very first appearance, yet can still be a potent enemy.
  • Nostril Shot: In the strip where Bun-Bun ends up shoving the camera up Torg's nose.
  • The Nudifier: What to do with a swarm of clothes-devouring moths? cCe the meeting of the Young Republican Women's Assembly...
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: If Crushestro is to be believed, Minion Master has this trait, pretending to be manipulated by Torg while really using Torg to knock down other evil organizations so that Hereti Corp can pick them up.
    • It seems not, as we now know that it's Izzy (at least according to what she said) who is in contact with Hereti Corp.
    • Torg pulls this on Crushestro [[Spoiler:while they're working together as part of the Alliance]]. Crushestro recognizes this and is impressed, but doesn't realize that Torg is doing it also to distract Crushestro from his new teammates.
  • Obviously Evil: Advisor Magon in the Storm Breaker Saga, lampshaded by Torg:
    Torg: Hey Ming! Let me guess: skull-cap, Fu Man Chu mustache, just stabbed a buddy in the back for knowing too much.... BAD GUY, right?
    Magon: I prefer the term "morally challenged".
  • Older Than They Look: A major reveal here. The details still haven't been revealed.
    • This really applies to the entire cast to some extent. Given the comment made in the first year about Torg and Riff having a tradition of giving each other beer for Christmas, they had to be at least 23 when the story started in 1997. Adding in the fact that due to holiday related events we know that real time and Comic-Book Time roughly line up, that would make them at least 37 in 2011. They haven't noticeably aged at all, much less appear to be approaching 40.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Hereti-Corp's offices. Lampshaded with comments about why the room is so dark if it has so many bright screens in it.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: Several over the years, but Hereti Corp's executives is the most common.
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Occasionally the reader is out of the loop for the real plans. As the final plays are revealed, a few strips will usually be devoted to recapping the planning phase with new panels showing new information. Examples include the plan to rescue Sasha from Monicruel, Riff's last resort when raiding Hereti-Corp (Aylee), and the reveal of the Black-Ops Elves' plan to make Torg their leader.
  • Once Per Season: For some years it was the case that every Halloween, the Dimension of Pain would send a demon to try and kidnap Torg, and every Christmas Bun-bun would try to murder Santa Claus. Both these were eventually resolved in the storylines "That Which Redeems" and "Holiday Wars" and thus do not happen anymore.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname / Only One Name: Torg and Riff. Riff prefers it, since his one name doubles as an Embarrassing Middle Name (Hellooooo Riffington..!) The Unreveal of Torg's last name is a running gag in the Harry Potter spoofs.
  • One Steve Limit: There isn't one. In fact, we have Dr. Steve, Steve Uozin, and Steeeeeve.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In the third-to-last panel of this strip, Bun-bun (who is narrating this arc) guarantees that the comic will not end with a punchline. The next panel then has him being handed a "breaking news bulletin", which contains the punchline to a well-known joke, whereupon Bun-bun states in the final panel, "I stand corrected."
  • Our Demons Are Different: There are many different varieties, each with their own rules.
    • Most of the demons of the Dimension of Pain are implied to be descendants of mortals who were corrupted by the Spear of Callmadar. They are effectively mutants with infernal powers and happen to be Too Kinky to Torture. The Demon King who rules the Dimension of Pain on the other hand, is more like a God of Evil.
    • K'Z'K was originally the god of destruction, but was converted into "merely" an ultra powerful demon. This gave him the power to possess people.
    • K'Z'K's demonic followers are spirits without physical bodies of their own. Instead, they possess mortal bodies and are able to channel their individual powers through them.
    • At one point, Gwynn makes a Deal with the Devil with a group of demon soul merchants. They do not have physical forms, but they are at the power level of a Physical God.
    • Satan has been described as a devil, in contrast to a demon.
    • Gwynn describes a flower monster that enslaves the dead as a demon.
    • Imps are a particularly weak and foolish type of demon. One man manages to trick and bind one, Ozzid, to serve as a Power Source for Powers via Possession.
  • Our Gods Are Different:
    • Multiple pantheons have appeared, but the one most central to the story are the gods of Mohkadun. The One created Prozoato and Kozoaku as the gods of creation and destruction respectively. God empowered one of Prozoato's creations, Khronos, to become the Anthropomorphic Personification of time to stop Kozoaku from destroying Prozoatu's creations before he is meant to. Khronos empowered several additional mortals into godhood to serve as role models against Kozoaku's influence. It has been heavily implied that Bun-Bun is actually an Amnesiac God from this pantheon, the God of Power. The gods of Mohkadun vary greatly in magical power, ranging from merely superhuman strength and endurance to the power to cause Time Stands Still or a massive Zombie Apocalypse. They do not age and are very tough, but they can be killed. But only by an empowered Chaz.
    • Eventually, most of the gods of Mohkadun are Depowered into Holidays. While they remain The Ageless, it is entirely possible to kill them by ordinary means, and they lose most of their powers.
    • There has been reference to the Greek gods, such as Zeus and Poseidon, who were involved with the Holidays but eventually waned.
    • The Dimension of Pain features the Goddess of Goodness and the Demon King.
    • In the Anima Dimension exists a Deity of Human Origin, Troloria, who more or less became a psychic Physical God by devouring every living soul in her world, leaving her as the Last of Her Kind.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Three different types of vampires, summarized briefly here. For more detail see Vampire Variety Pack.
  • Our Zombies Are Different:
    • Jane's variety of zombies are immortal beings who rely on regeneration. The catch is that their regenerative state is highly selective and completely dependent on what they consume. For example, eating eyes will keep their eyesight from deteriorating while eating brains will allow them to retain their intelligence and cognitive abilities. In addition, being bitten by a zombie will not turn a person into one.
    • Whenever someone dies in a location under K'Z'K's power, their body rises as what K'Z'K calls a "Deadel". They retain some of their old personality and can potentially even talk, but are essentially corpses who act according to the bidding of their master.
    • Some Technically Living Zombies appear in the Living Conditions arc, when brain eating bugs disrupt the balance between social skills and scientific genius so badly that the newly created super nerds start acting like zombies.
    • There is a type of zombie-like creature referred to as "Ghouls," which are actually aliens, belonging to Aylee's species.
    • In The Road to Bjorkea, Torg and Gwynn discover an even stranger type of zombie created by a flower demon. Anyone who dies within a certain radius of the flower demon gets stuck in their bodies instead of moving on to the afterlife. After unspecified conditions are met (speculated to be exposure to sunlight), their undead corpse starts converting into a plantlike monster, but the victim retains its freewill. However, they become prone to anger. If they are sufficiently enraged, it burns out their soul, making them into the flower demon's slaves and dealing them a Fate Worse than Death.
  • Overly Long Gag: Dr. Viennason explains the dimension of timeless space by illustrating what happens when you run out of time supplies. By standing perfectly still for thirteen panels. Although he breaks it to surreptitiously glance at the camera if you look carefully in the tenth panel. The same trope is used for a whole sixteen panels in this Gofotron battle.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: A popular gag. Aylee does it here, the angular "Clockjerk Dudes" robot bodies always seem to fool everyone, it's used as a Description Cut joke here where we are primed to expect one of Dr Schlock's very realistic inflatable decoys, but in fact The Men in Black are fooled by an obvious small balloon.
  • The Parody: Very many over the years. A few examples:
  • Parody Name: Many, almost invariably of the Punny Name variety (see below).
  • Pass the Popcorn: Aquired by Torg from the Wondrous Ladies Room to watch Sasha and a nearly naked Monecruel duke it out.
    • Also note that one of villians had been stopped cold by the door of the same ladies room.
  • Paste Eater: Zoë does it here. "Pashe ish yummy!" Minion Master also eats paste when as an adult.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: Mocked with the inhabitants of the Dimension of Lame, who think food fighting is immoral and crumble over the slightest bit of external pressure.
  • Perfectly Cromulent Word: In trying to come up with his new name, You-Probably-Don't-Know-Who ends up anagramming his name to "I'm a slorddly tampon". Lucius says that slorddly's not even a word, but William Wotcherclaws says that if the master says it is, then it is and then uses it in a sentence one comic later.
  • Personality Powers: According to a spellcaster named Marco, every spellcaster has a type of magic they are particularly good at. As a result, one's spellbook tends to be filled with spells that reflect their personal strengths. Due to being kind and compassionate, Marco's spellbook is filled with happy and positive magic.
  • Pet the Dog: [Subverted] by Bun-Bun, who appeared to be mailing Kiki to Alaska out of the goodness of his heart (and for laughs), but was actually using her in a scheme to conquer Halloween.
  • The Pie Is A Lie: This strip.
  • The Pig-Pen: Taken to comically ridiculous levels with Doctors Bill and Phil, the Creepy Cloner Geeks, in the Living Conditions storyline.
  • Pirate: Subverted in one occasion, when they all turned out to be highly intelligent scientists stuck in a space between dimensions after failed time travel experiments, and roleplaying as pirates kinda became traditional because so many of the people trapped there were massive nerds.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: Kiki, Bun-bun, and a little girl play at being pirates in a small boat. Unfortunately Bun-bun, being Bun-bun, tries actually thieving and murdering.
  • Please Put Some Clothes On: In this strip, Sasha casually takes off her clothes in front of a hot and bothered Torg. "I'm looking the other way while you get naked but throwing your bra at my head is not helping!"
    • And in the aftermath of the "Aylee" chapter, when Aylee reveals that a) that's not a dress, it's her wings wrapping around her, and b) she's become so human she now has "human female naughty parts" underneath.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Usually with Reakk from the Dimension of Pain mishearing orders. Also, Drs Bill and Phil from Clonegressive Inc misheard orders from their superior that led to a (small-scale) zombie apocalypse in "28 Geeks Later".
    • And dimensionally-misplaced minions Blinky and Clyde are told to find a village's most chaste maiden to feed to a dragon but mishear it as "chased" so they find the village slut and the dragon gets angrier.
  • Powers via Possession: Demonic Possession is a battle of wills between the demon and the human they are possessing. Generally speaking, the demon's will is stronger, but it is possible for a human to force a particularly weak demon into possessing them so that they can siphon off the demon's magic for their own purposes.
  • Pride: The author of the Book of E-Ville came up with a clever plan to keep K'Z'K harmless and hidden for a long time. But unfortunetely, his successor, his daughter, was filled with pride, and disobeyed every single last one of his Last Requests in her arrogance. She filled the Book of E-Ville, which was intended to be a Spell Book of useless spells, with highly dangerous ones. Convinced that she would live forever, she made fun of her descendants as losers and failed to prepare them to take up her own duties. After she died a sudden and unexpected death, the Book of E-Ville fell into her granddaughter's hands. Her granddaughter, clueless and naive, knew nothing of the Book of E-Ville's true nature and was tricked into ruining much of the author's plans just before the Book brought her own demise and put an end to their line.
  • Psychic Powers: The Anima Dimension's electicity magnifies the synapses, resulting in all sapient beings having an Empathy Pet. It is possible to use one's Empathy Pet to interact with other peoples' minds.
  • Punctuated Pounding: "I! CAN'T! LOSE! HER! AGAIN!"
  • Punny Name: Everyone apart from the main cast. Particular mention goes to the inhabitants of the Punyverse and of Torg Potters' wizarding world.
    • The book of E-ville [Elizabethville, Pa.]
  • Reality Ensues: While stuck in an alternate dimension where everyone's emotions are literally on display to be read, Torg spends months laboriously cobbling together a ring in secret so he can propose to Zoe. She turns him down because he's been avoiding her without explanation and keeping secrets.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Some of the vampires, including Lysinda, Valerie and Philinnon (who is said to be old even by vampire standards, originating around 400 BC).
    • Oddly, Philinnon is a "vrykolakas", which really is a Greek vampire...but its name is a Slavic loan-word (originally meaning "werewolf"), borrowed in the Byzantine era. Of course, it's entirely possible Philinnon and company were just called something different back then.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Bun-bun once wore a lavender dress. And it was awesome.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: When Riff tried a "normal" 9-to-5 job he was transferred to Nome, Alaska because he'd threatened to sue them if fired (beats getting transformed into a gnome).
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Alt-Bun-bun invokes this trope, enough that Torg yells, "Quit pointing that empty gun at me, it's not really for making points in conversation!" Justified since Alt-Bun-bun comes from a dimension without guns (or much in the way of violence at all).
  • Red Herring: Often, due to the serpentine plots.
    • Early on, the viewer was meant to think that Bun-bun had been killed when Santa blew up his booby-trapped workshop, and his vengeful spirit had come to the Dimension of Pain. It turned out that the spirit was in fact the elf Mr Squeekybobo, who had died in the same attack, and Bun-bun was in a cage somewhere with Laser-Guided Amnesia.
    • The dimension where Torg flees with the giant Aylee is infested with zombie-like creatures who, we are led to believe, are the result of Kesandru's Deal with the Devil Rithuly. The Reveal has Torg realise that they have nothing to do with Rithuly - they're Aylee's race.
    • The letters 'ROKEN' behind Oasis in the photo made most readers think it was a cutoff of 'BROKEN', which was indeed the name of a later arc...however, said arc revealed (in a slight cop-out) that it was in fact a cut-off of PYROKENETICS - misspelled by an illiterate sign painter.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Oasis and Kusari.
  • Red Shirt: When you hear that there's someone named Bitparte in K I T T E N I I, you just know he won't survive until the end.
    Torg: Wow! It knows to go after the extras first!
  • Replacement Frog: Hereti-corp has a rather long-standing account with the local petshop don't they.
  • Research, Inc.: Hereti-Corp has muffins that self-destruct, lest they fall into the hands of a competitor.
  • Reset Button: An epic one. Torg spends literally years being in love with Zoë with her not reciprocating. Then finally she realizes she loves him too, and wants to tell him. Then the mecha she is in is blown up by Oasis; she and Riff do an emergency escape to another dimension; Riff loses sight of her and thinks she's dead, is later told she's in endless agony, and finally realizes her body is healed by nanites, but not her brain, making her a vegetable. Finally, Riff returns to his own dimension and pulls off a Batman Gambit to return Zoë and restore her memory, but it is restored to the day before she realized she loves Torg. Aaand we're back to square one.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: While generally glossed over for the sake of a good story, Time Travel has worked differently in different circumstances - "The Storm Breaker" saga resulted in Zoë and Torg actually changing history (which then gave Zoë problems on a history test), but we also learn that Valerie was turned into a vampire as the result of Torg's actions in the past, even though she was a vampire before he traveled back in time. Also, Dr. Schlock from the future watched his younger self die, but he's still around because he's from an alternate doomed future that was averted in the current timeline thanks to some of the technology he sent back in time to stop K'Z'K, as he mentioned in Kiki's Virus, here. K'Z'K eventually reveals that whenever someone tries to change the past, Krohnus's Web of Fate will try to steer things back to the right course. If a timeline is altered beyond the Fate Web's ability to create a Stable Time Loop, it will try to split the altered timeline into an Alternate Universe. Fail at that, and it results in a Time Crash.
    • And Timeless Space, being Exactly What It Says on the Tin, can be accessed from any point in time, simultaneously. One who manages to escape may not necessarily return to the time stream where they originally came from. It's heavily implied that Bun-bun originally came from a time long before the rest of the cast was born.
    • Lampshaded in this comic.
  • Time Crash: Normally when a person travels through time, Krohnus's Web of Fate will try to steer things back on course and create a Stable Time Loop to prevent a paradox. Failing that, the timelines will split into an Alternate Universe. But depending on the circumstances, a paradox can cause a universe's safety mechanisms to fail and result in The End of the World as We Know It. On the other hand, overuse of dimension, time, and/or space travel within a dimension will cause catastrophic damage to it, as was the case in 4U City.
  • Title Drop: A couple times - for instance, Torg and Riff were both freelancers when the strip began, and Riff's ID in Paradise is how to spell SLUGGY with a phone keypad.
    • And now with the Mohkadunian God of Power, Sloghy
    "The Rabbit-God of Power's name is pronounced "Sluggy." It means, "Likes To Punch People In The Head A Lot."
    • After building quite the reputation for its enigmatic title, it finally came on May 16, 2014:
    Sluggy (Bun-Bun): "Sluggy's freelance now!"
    • Even earlier, Riff's Hereti-corp codename was "Sluggy". Or, as Kirko points out, "Freelancer Sluggy."*** Furthermore, revealed to be Riff's codename as a freelancer with Hereti-Corp, and Torg's middle name. The connections, if any, have yet to be revealed (as of 11/13/13).
    • It's revealed that the name "Sluggy" is meant to be a rallying cry created by Uncle Time to label and help gather all "potentials" (those with great capacity for stabilizing the web) at the time of K'Z'K's release.
  • To Hell and Back: For at least two different versions of "hell".
  • The Tokyo Fireball: Lampshaded by Santa in the Mecha-Easter Bunny arc.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Torg. At least this is usually how it's played; the first Kesandru House storyline has a medium say he genuinely has a resistance to psychic influence, though.
  • Torture First, Ask Questions Later: Hereti-corp does this to Torg (or more accurately, torturing Gwynn while Torg is forced to watch) when trying to find out where Doctor Steve's lab is.
  • Totem Pole Trench: "Dr. Bunwig McTwodudes" here, consisting of two adult men (though they sure aren't acting like it) and a bonus rabbit. It Makes Just As Much Sense In Context; they really don't have much of a reason to use a disguise like that. Since they're not short, the "doctor" ends up being very tall, though at least Riff is sitting on Torg's shoulders, not standing.
    • Bun-bun and Riff alone also do it here, and subverted here by Torg and Kiki.
  • Trash the Set: The comic often marks the beginning of a major shift by destroying the group's current lodgings.
  • Trap Is the Only Option: In "Dangerous Days Ahead", Riff and others go Storming the Castle at the AyleeOrgNet.Com/HeretiCorp offices in spite of the extremely Suspiciously Specific Denial on a memo that indicates that the place is armed like a fortress and it's a trap. They don't have any other choice with their friends being held there, and they have a few surprises up their own sleeves.
  • Trope Maker: Often called "the one that started it all," effectively set the tone for webcomics in general - at the very least, most of those that are candidates for Cerebus Syndrome.
  • True Companions: The core cast. Occasionally subverted when one of them truly messes up... Which has happened at least once to Zoë, Gwynn, Bunbun, Aylee and Riff where one of the previous was NOT considered this by anyone in the core cast but Torg. Truly, it's Dysfunction Junction when the Cloudcuckoolander is the glue holding the team together.
  • Tsundere: Monica (deliberately, because it keeps Riff off balance). Zoë and Gwynn also qualify very easily (one for each type) during the times when Torg and Riff have had relationships with them. Subverted by the alt-Zoë.
    • Subverted by Sasha. She is very much not, and is easy-going to a fault. But Riff and Torg keep expecting her to flip to tsuntsun, and are kinda creeped out when she never does.
  • T-Word Euphemism: "F-word!" here, and here.
  • Twin Threesome Fantasy: Sasha tries to tempt Riff with this after the team beats Hereticorp.
  • Undefeatable Little Village: It's revealed that a small town near the Canadian border ended up playing this role for a crime-syndicate who had, previously, used it as a center for their smuggling-operations. The reason? Knife Nut Tyke Bomb Quasi-Immortal Oasis, whose most recent reincarnation had turned out unusually sane and kindhearted, had made it her Protectorate. Wearing a red hoodie, she turned into the vigilante 'Red Riding Hood' and basically stabbed any criminal who dared enter the city. The syndicate finally sent a top-tier, highly-paid Career Killer - a master assassin. He managed to kill her, but obviously didn't know about the 'Quasi-Immortal' bit, and wound up getting stabbed anyway. He sought alternate employment with great rapidity at that point.
  • Unhand Them, Villain!: When a K'Z'K-possessed Gwynn is dangling Dr. Lorna over the side of the Empire State Building, Riff demands, "Drop my mom now!", and immediately thereafter, realizes it was a poor choice of words.
  • The Unpronounceable: K'Z'K; he mostly gets called "Kizke".
    • Also parodied; one of the aliens goes by the name "Face" because he claims his birth name is unpronounceable to humans and the high frequency could possibly break their recording devices. It's Steeeeeve.
    • It turns out that K'Z'K's unpronouncability was actually designed as a way to prevent it from gaining power, its real name is the far more pronouncable "Kozoaku."
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • Played for laughs when Torg recounts the early part of the Storm Breaker Saga to a bard, but decides to spice it up by adding some material from Army of Darkness.
    • In "bROKEN", we see the aftermath of the dramatic climax first one way. There's also a particular motif throughout the story where someone is always sitting in front of Torg in the same position. Later, however, Torg himself begins to suspect that his memory is messed up and discusses this with a therapist. It turns out that he's been suppressing the memory of what he really saw and we've been shown his "edited" version. The shots of someone sitting in front of him are also part of the unreliable memory — a result of the suppressed memory trying to push through. Let's just say that when he remembers the real version, his insistence that someone is not really dead acquires a much more desperate tone.
    • Played for comedy later on, after Torg's story seemingly causes a bunch of increasingly violent reactions from Sasha. It turns out that Torg is unreliably narrating how he narrated the story to Sasha.
  • Usurping Santa: Bun-Bun spends several years trying to kill Santa every year for the sake of a personal grudge, and figuring out holidays work on "you kill it you bought it" does not dissuade him. In fact he goes on a bit of a holiday killing spree, but he's forced to revive everyone shortly after finally killing Santa.
  • Utopia: Torg considers the Anima Dimension's industrial period to be in many ways idealic. It differs from the main universe primarily in two ways. For one, everyone has an Empathy Pet, which makes deception impossible. For another, they do not have a concept of property, and everyone will freely give everyone else what they need. There are no wars, and their rulers are genuinely good people. Overall, it is the friendliest and most peaceful dimension the gang has ever visited. However, the Anima Dimension is not without its own problems. While most of the people they disenfranchise as outsiders are declared so for being lazy, otherwise functional people can also be marked as outsiders for being antisocial. And though slackers are only a tiny minority, the lack of capitalist incentive does still mean that their technology develops more slowly than in the main universe. Additionally, the lack of private property means that they see no problem with taking extremely dangerous experimental technology without its inventor's permission for study. It ultimately ends five thousand years later, when unscrupulous people figure out Soul Eating and take over, triggering a war that kills off the entire population.
  • Vague Age: In comic years have passed, but characters show no signs of aging.
  • Vampire Monarch: Lysinda, leader of the Lysinda circle of vampires; and later Philinnon, leader of the Vrykolakas circle of vampires.
  • Vampire Variety Pack:
    • Vorpyr vampires, such as those from the Lysinda circle, are the oldest variety and originate from Western Europe. They shrivel up and stop moving when they're staked through the heart, but immediately come back to life if you pull the stake out. They Must Be Invited to enter a dwelling and are warded away by holy symbols. Turning a mortal takes a lengthy ritual that involves draining blood out of them over days then having them drink from a sufficiently powerful Vorpyr's blood.
    • Vrykolakas vampires originate from Greece. They are looked down on by other vampires as trashy and were once kept as slaves by other vampires. Vrykos cannot fly (after a Retcon), but they are pretty good at jumping. They can turn others into vampires just by draining them dry. A Vrykolas vampire can become a Vryko master, recovering some independence and increased magical power, by draining dry family members. Vryko masters can enter a mist form and have total control over their sires, who effectively become little more than extensions of their own minds. Two of the Vryko masters seen like to keep attractive sires of the opposite sex. All Vryko answer to a higher Vryko up to the Queen, and should someone higher in the chain be staked, normal Vrykos will perish as well, and even the strongest will be greatly weakened. They are unaffected by many of the usual weaknesses, and have the greatest numbers and unity, but are the weakest vampire type overall and will collapse into ash with just a small poke of wood or silver to the heart. After their Queen dies, they weaken even further to the point that just being exposed to too much stupidity can kill them.
    • The Strakoistrat originate from Romania. They are Daywalking Vampires, about as tough as Vorpyr vampires, and wield powerful magic. They are possibly the most powerful vampire type overall, but they also lack the Mind Control powers possessed by the other two types.
  • Vampire Vords: Averted with the Vorpyr and Vrykolakas, while the Strakoi are a variation - their dialogue replaces 'th' with 'z', but also unusually replaces 'w' with 'u'.
  • Verbal Tic: Bert and "crotch". Also done with some of the crew of Gofotron in the Punyverse arc.
  • Villain Ball - Cleverly averted at the end of "Holiday Wars", where Bun-bun's enemies have concocted a clever Batman Gambit that will force him to use the Deus ex Ovum (push the Reset Button)—but if Bun-bun actually fell for it, his character would suffer Badass Decay. So instead the Groundhog's shadow falls for the scheme instead, and Bun-bun is appalled to find out that because they are linked, the effects of the plan will apply to him as well unless he uses the Reset Button.
  • The Voiceless: Aylee at the end of bROKEN, due to a still healing neck injury.
  • Was It Really Worth It?: Schlock seems to be wondering this at the end of bROKEN.
  • Wasn't That Fun?: This strip.
  • Weird Currency: A bonus story reveals the Dimension of Pain demons actually use forms of pain (such as 'skinned knee') as a currency when betting on card games.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: One of the Fate Spiders seeks to prevent reality from breaking down by causing several coincidences to fire off in a row, which costs several people their lives.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: In the futuristic city of 4-U City, injury, disease, and unhappiness have been wiped out. Aggressively. With nanobots and copious amounts of drugs.
  • Wham Comic:
    • The "Vampires" story line was one of the first to shake up the status quo. Sam and Valerie are revealed to be vampires, and the latter's death results in a resolution to the Love Triangle involving her, Torg, Sam and Zoe.
    • 12/06/09 reveals one of the biggest pieces of information about Oasis to date. She's pyrokinetic and many, many of her explosive exits earlier in the series that were previously assumed to be the results of things like Gwynn's magical powers or bombs going off were Oasis' pyrokinetic abilities exploding.
    • bROKEN is basically a wham arc. This becomes apparent when Dr. Schlock has Oasis's father-figure executed while she watches helplessly, for no reason other than to show he means business. As the arc ends, Torg is losing his grip on reality and becoming increasingly unstable, Oasis is paralyzed from the neck down in the clutches of HeretiCorp, Aylee is clearly dying from a massive neck wound (she thankfully gets better), Zoë's cursed necklace has been found (which currently has no possible explanation other than her being dead), and Riff is trapped in a dystopian alternate dimension and was seemingly shot down by a squad of armed goons while cradling Zoë's burnt corpse.
    • The 4U City arc has more than its share of whams as well. Particularly the conclusion of its most recent (and presumably final) segment, where Riff goes back to his dimension stop a similar set of events from occurring in his world which destroyed 4U's dimension.
    • Remember a decade ago, when we briefly thought that Sasha might be a Hereticorp spy? The 8/20/2012 strip shows that we were right all along.
    • The Mohkadun arc is a whopper, revealing the answers to many questions, such as the backstories of many of the gods, including Bun-bun, an Amnesiac God who is one of their number. But the biggest reveal of them all is what will happen if the God of Destruction, K'Z'K, is killed, and by extension the true nature of Sluggy Freelance's endgame.
    • The storylines "Falling" and "The Heavens and the Earth" are one Wham Comic after another, as they finally reveal the truth behind the much-speculated questions of the nature of Oasis and Kusari, the latter's identity, Dr Schlock's Triangle plan, and much more.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Riff and Zöe each gave one to Torg after his conversation with Crushetro. Riff is mad that Torg sold his Mark-19 project to Crushestro, pointing out how risked it was and how poorly it might end, while Zöe is wary of his association with Noah Zark, citting that he is one of the smartest villain they ever fought and he likely has a grudge against them after their last meeting.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: Happens to Torg as he attempts to detonate an EMP in Dr. Nofun's lab. Turns out the remote had a child safety lock.
  • Word Salad Title: Very, very much so. Lampshaded a couple times; even the characters don't know what "Sluggy" means.
    • Explained seventeen years into the comic. Sluggy is Bun-bun's ancient name as a god of Mohkadun, and his being cast out from the pantheon is described by him as "going freelance". Strangely enough, Torg and Riff note that they share the name as well. Torg was a freelance Web designer and his middle name is Sluggy. Meanwhile, Riff's codename for HC was Sluggy and his official job title was "freelancer". It is hinted that this coincidence was caused by Uncle Time changing Fate to get all the "Potentials" in the same place at the same time to stop a world ending event. It is unknown why the name and title is associated with such people.
  • World of Pun: Abrams loves puns of both the funny and groan-worthy varieties. There's a little background sketch Running Gag known as the 'pun demon'. Notably Torg and Riff once even weaponised Incredibly Lame Puns against K'z'k.
  • Wrong Assumption: Eearlier in the first alternate dimension arc, the captain thought he was the hero but apparently he was a Decoy Protagonist.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In this strip, Torg gives Sasha advice on how to kill a mutant monster based on his experience with videogames. Fortunately, Sasha disregards the advice.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes??: Riff, the badassest member of the team, is mortally afraid of clowns - and the department of motor vehicles.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: A short example between Dr. Schlock and Markus Chen: first Chen tricked Schlock into reinstating him as a CEO, thus allowing him to give Kusari the order to kill Schlock. Schlock responded (after looking up a few things) by having the board of command (him, given the rest of the board was either "running for their lives or slaughtered") fire Chen as CEO.
  • Yandere: Oasis. Oh, so very much.
  • "Yes"/"No" Answer Interpretation: "The Bug, the Witch, and the Robot":
    K'Z'K: You're a scientist, Riff! Calculate how much force it would take to bank-shot Torg's spine off the building across the street. Is this about enough?
    Riff: NO!
    K'Z'K: I take it in this case, no means yes.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Lysinda was able to tempt Valerie because her husband Torgamus died in battle, which was the result of Torg going back in time to fight K'Z'K. See here for details.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: The Tower of the Gods where Father Time resides is not an actual tower. This is simply the way mortal minds comprehend it.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Well, technically, you can, but that is generally a bad idea, since protecting the world is the reason Fate exists in the first place. Fate doesn't so much control everyone, so much as offer guidelines. Various things, such as magic, time travel, and dimensional travel can distort the web, risking the world's destruction. Keeping Fate on track is the job of the aptly named Fate Spiders
  • You Fight Like a Cow: "Your fighting style smells of gorgonzola!"
  • You Have Failed Me: Lady Urja is sent by Queen Philinnon to kill Sam, a vampire from a rival circle. She repeatedly fails, and is sentenced to the final death as a result.
  • Your Magic's No Good Here: According to Schlock, mortal magic is powered by abusing the god Chronos's Web of Fate. When outside the Fate Web's bounds, such as beyond Earth's atmosphere, magic doesn't work and you have to rely on normal science. Intrinsically magical entities, like magical objects and even demons tend to have trouble surviving and risk perishing when they run out of their internal stores of magic. Having said that, some other dimensions do have other forms of magic that are not powered by a Fate Web. The Anima Dimension for example has the goddess Troloria's tapestry of anima, a system that makes it possible for the residents of her world to use psionics.
  • Your Vampires Suck
  • Zany Scheme: Torg's plans (and sometimes Riff's). Often Crazy Enough to Work.


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