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Webcomic / Dr. Brinner: Ghost Psychiatrist

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Pictured: Ghost Psychiatrism

Dr. Brinner: Hold on, I need to go to the bathroom.
General Negakipper: No you fool, if you do that, every universe that has ever existed will simultaneously implode!
Dr. Brinner vs. Zombie Pink Floyd

Dr. Brinner: Ghost Psychiatrist a comic by Andrew Hussie, of MS Paint Adventures fame, once regarded as magnum opus before his most popular work, Homestuck, was created. It's a work spanning several years and numerous forms ranging from print to image to text to a series of Youtube videos that when first viewed seem to be mere footage of random people's children. It describes the adventures of Doctor Brinner (formerly Doctor Derek Brinner, but that was in a universe that no longer exists), an extraordinarily cool psychiatrist who deals in the dead. The coolness is canon.

On several occasions, Andrew has stated that Dr. Brinner is a commentary/parody on long-running series which employ multiple universes and multiple writers within a single canon, particularly the superhero franchises contained within The Marvel Universe and The DCU. As one might expect from such a commentary, Dr. Brinner uses and abuses the Back from the Dead trope and takes the idea of a multiverse to ridiculous extremes; the comic is also full of Mood Whiplash, ridiculous (and apparently intentional) continuity problems, sporadic (and often temporary) manifestations of Cerebus Syndrome, and blatantly clumsy retcons, especially earlier in the series. True to its premise, it often feels very much like reading the work of dueling writers Armed with Canon rather than the unified work of a single artist; it is very much to Andrew’s credit that he has still managed to create a comic which, in spite of an approach which would seem to lend itself to Stylistic Suck, still manages to be an excellent read. (That said, Andrew seems to have at least partially abandoned the “multiple writers” approach in recent arcs, which have been much more focused than older ones. It’s hard to say whether this shift is an allegory for some new facet of the use of multiple writers within a canon or simply an indication that Andrew was getting tired of intentionally filling his stories with plot holes.)

As a result of all of this, while it definitely boasts its fair share of awesome characters, scenes, and arcs, Dr. Brinner is NOT recommended as a starting point for someone who’s new to Andrew’s work. The story is extremely labyrinthine and can be very difficult to follow (even compared to the likes of Homestuck and Problem Sleuth, which are pretty demanding in their own right); it’s full of Mind Screwy plot twists and concepts, Big Lipped Alligator Moments, and sharp tonal shifts, all of which serve to make Dr. Brinner Andrew’s most inaccessible work despite its deceptively simple premise.

See also: Comments on a Postcard and Candle Cove, two series Andrew has been involved in that take place in the same setting.

Tropes used in Dr. Brinner

  • Afterlife Express: It gets hijacked several times throughout the series. The Dron are particularly fond of taking it for their own purposes.
    • Also, the set served as the battlefield for Dr. Brinner's second battle with the Antimartyr.
  • Alien Invasion: And then some.
  • Alternate History: Dozens of them. The most prominent of which is the Megapocalypse Split, in which the universe the story had been taking place in is demolished as a failure by OmniTech.
  • All Psychology Is Freudian: Averted. Dr. Brinner started the story as a Jungian analyst before he began studying under Ghost Freud — and Ghost Freud himself has abandoned some of his older theories and methods in favor of a more humanistic variety of psychotherapy.
  • Annoying Patient: About 50% of Dr. Brinner's patients stumble in drunk through the Vortex Portal in the corner. Brinner tends to be sympathetic to them, but many of them later become running jokes for their antics.
  • Anyone Can Die: Seems to be heading this way, with at least a couple major characters in apparently inescapable situations.
    • Of course, given the premise, it's hard to say if it really counts.
  • Ascended Extra: The Pizza Delivery Guy ("Pizza Guy" to his friends), who originally received no more characterization than "that guy who delivers Pizza".
  • Bad Future: Several have appeared or been referenced, although surprisingly few of them have played a significant role in the comic.
  • Bad Santa: During the fourth Christmas special, several supporting characters have to stop ReggaePeter from saving Christmas, since it turns out Santa is using mind control to make children his slaves.
  • Badass Santa: The fifth Christmas special featured Brinner teaming up with an alternate universe version of Santa, described as "the most skilled martial artist in the Arctic Circle."
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: With a story involving a massive multiverse and time travel, some crazy historical shenanigans are pretty much guaranteed. However, Andrew tends to avoid using more obvious historical figures (with a few notable exceptions), instead focusing on more obscure folks — among other things, issues of Dr. Brinner have featured Frank Zappa as a pill-popping, corrupt DEA agent, Emperor Halie Selassie of Ethiopia as a brilliant experimental physicist, amateur jazz musician, and sidekick to WW II-era superhero Wheelman, and Quaker humanitarian William Penn as a psychopathic sorcerer-king who has a particularly strong taste for human sacrifice.
  • Big Bad: Appears to be the Technochrist, an android made by taking the DNA of Jesus and combining it with a robot. Stated goal of the Technochrist is to destroy every universe in which Dr. Brinner is logically capable of existing. He was apparently developed by a company called OmniTech, which he founded. Don't worry, it all makes sense in context.
  • Big Boo's Haunt: Pretty much the entire universe.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Subverted when Mr. Seven, who isn't actually an impostor like Dr. Brinner assumes, decides that Dr. Brinner himself is an impostor because of the details of their adventures that he's getting blatantly wrong on purpose.
  • Body-Count Competition: The 'Martyrs of the Technochrist (the Antimartyr, the Ultramartyr and the Megamartyr) are constantly discussing how many universes they have caused to unexist.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Entire universes at times. Last count had Brinner's total patients at around half a googol. Not everyone gets individual treatment, of course, and he's been known to mass-prescribe treatments quite often.
  • Broken Ace: Captain Justice, in his introduction, starts out as The Cape turned up to eleven, but it's soon revealed that he's just a loser trying to live up to the expectations of the previous Justice, who is heavily implied to have been Abraham Lincoln.
  • But I Can't Be Pregnant!: Ghost Freud's exact words upon this happening.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: One of Dr. Brinner's cousins is a judge. Who insists on wearing orange to work every day. Something about sympathy for the people he's trying.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Franklin Delano Roosevelt gets one of these. He just wants his father to recognize that he can still be a good person without wrestling tigers.
  • The Cameo: In Dr. Brinner's first psychoanalysis montage, there's a very brief shot of one ghost who got many fans asking "Was that Aradia?
    • During the unveiling of the Brainwasher Matrix right before the Second Technowar breaks out, one of the ghosts overseeing its construction is quite clearly The Doctor. And it's just the thing he would do.
  • Childhood Memory Demolition Team: It's hinted that the Old Universe Dr. Brinner was sent to the current universe, and that he has vague memories of his future in that world, even though it no longer exists.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In the first few arcs, Dr. Brinner's roommate Leonard was a recurring character and Brinner's original sidekick before the introduction of the Pizza Guy. He did still feature in the comic for a while after that, but he hasn't even been mentioned since the Day of the Omni-Reaper arc, due to Andrew finding him superfluous and him having no distinguishing traits of his own.
  • Clone Degeneration: The Brinner clones created by Professor Heinrich start out normally enough, but eventually the machine produces mutants like Insane Brinner, Midget Brinner, Cyclops Brinner, and Two-Headed Brinner.
  • Clothing Damage: Brinner has a habit of getting his coat shredded at various dramatic moments, to the point where it's lampshaded in his visit to his tailor.
    • During his fight with Brinner, 1-48N's Powered Armour is gradually broken off piece-by-piece. His losing his helmet is what sets up The Reveal that he's John Lennon.
  • Cool Old Guy: Due to a combination of a curse from a mummy and one of Dr. Brinner's ancestors being the Lord of Time of a few universes, Dr. Brinner is currently nearing infinity years old, and he is still kicking ass.
  • Cute Bruiser: Timothy, Dr. Brinner's 7-year-old nephew. Though at first he seems like he'll just be The Load to his uncle and his allies, he soon makes up for that when he destroys five evil universes with a flick of his finger.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Don't Fear the Reaper, Pizza Delivery Guy, an arc in which the eponymous Pizza Delivery Guy and a few of his friends fight a desperate losing battle against Dark Brinner to protect the Cosmic Keystone they found in a calzone.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dark Brinner, in his rare moments of lucidity.
    Dark Brinner: So, you go around calling yourself the Antimartyr of the Technochrist? What, was “Negaguru of the Cyberbuddha” already taken?
  • Deceptive Disciple: It's strongly believed that the Pizza Delivery Guy will eventually turn out to be one of these.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Not only does Brinner do this literally at one point, he's also won a few battles with the Martyrs of the Technochrist and managed to incapacitate old Slendy himself in the Dr. Brinner Meets the Slender Man crossover.
  • Dragons Up the Yin Yang: Whenever Brinner's Chinese pen pal and kung fu master Yung Chin shows up, expect splash panels featuring these in spades.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Andrew has recently confirmed that Teenage Mutant Ninja Churchill, a character he created for an Adventures of Dr. McNinja guest comic, will be making an appearance in a future arc.
  • Evil Twin: Dark Brinner. His plans aren't nearly so large in scale as the Technochrist's, but if he decides he doesn't like you, it's pretty much all over. There's also Anti-Brinner, from the Antiverse, but he's more of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • Enemy Mine: In the 3rd Technowar arch, the Dron are forced to ally with Brinner in order to defeat the Robotic Theocrats of the Technochrist. This doesn't end their near-annihilation, however
  • Enemy Without: Shadow Brinner, who is Brinner's actual shadow, which he sold to the Devil's grandmother in exchange for the Devil's three golden hairs. Although Shadow Brinner claims to be the real Brinner whose shadow stole his reality with an Existentialator.
  • The Extremist Was Right: Dr. Brinner destroys the universe to prevent the Technochrist from channeling its power into the Eye of the Infiniverse. Later, when we finally see him in an alternate universe he escaped to, he's not the slightest bit remorseful about it, much to his alternate self's disapproval.
  • Fallen Hero: The Big Bad of the first arc, The Cybernetic Botanist of Herzog, was actually Dr. Brinner's Grandfather. Why he went evil is yet to be resolved.
    • Also, Joshua L. Chamberlain after being affected by the Brainwasher Matrix in the Second Technowar.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Pizza Delivery Guy with Satan. More recently, an interesting subversion as Dr. Brinner swaps with Dark Brinner halfway through a fight, and neither of them notices.
  • Flying Seafood Special: Flying sharks with lasers on their heads were used by the Dron during the Third Technowar.
  • Goggles Do Something Unusual: And how. Brinner really had trouble when he lost a pair during the 2nd Technowar.
    • It has also been hinted that a powerful elder god resides in one of the goggles.
  • Grandfather Paradox: Averted. The hinted-at Infiniverse is apparently where universes that can't logically exist tend to end up; thus there's an entire multiverse out there that's full of universes in which someone did this. Basically, if a paradox comes about, it's either resolved later on or ignored completely since there's no reason it can't be taking place in a part of the Infiniverse where paradoxes are legal.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Subverted with Don’t Fear The Reaper, Pizza Delivery Guy, which featured the Pizza Delivery Guy—who, at the time, was little more than an extra—and his Muggle friends fighting a desperate battle to prevent Dark Brinner from destroying their universe. The story of his duel with Dark Brinner is so unbelievable that the Pizza Delivery Guy doesn’t even bother telling anybody else, and it seems that his heroism and the heroism of his fallen friends will be forgotten—except that Dark Brinner mentions it to Dr. Brinner during a later battle, who, as a result, begins to take an interest in the Pizza Delivery Guy as a possible apprentice.
  • Hearing Voices: Lars the Seventh. They're actually ghosts. Dr. Brinner, after several unsuccessful attempts to reason with them, finally banishes them to a small jug in the attic.
  • Hero Killer: The Technochrist.
  • Herr Doktor: Doctor Heinrich, Mad Scientist extraordinaire. Averted with Dr. Brinner himself, who's actually Irish-American.
  • Historical Domain Character: A good portion of the cast.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Crossover arcs are always titled "Dr. Brinner Meets __________" (for example, Dr. Brinner Meets Cthulhu, Dr. Brinner Meets Dracula, Dr. Brinner Meets the Slender Man). The author has stated this is an homage to Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. "Dr. Brinner Meets Abbot and Costello" was most definately a Lampshade Hanging, although it technically wasn't a crossover.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Dark Brinner's plan to summon an army of ancient warlocks is ruined by the fact that none of them are capable of understanding something so basic as a road.
  • In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: Inverted. On his first excursion to the past, Dr. Brinner discovers statues of himself everywhere for no explainable reason.
  • Kamehame Hadoken: Turkmenbashi's Turkenbashi-Beam. Exaggerated in that its effects are more like that of a Phantom Hammer than anything else.
  • Living with the Villain: While undercover, Dr. Brinner worked alongside an equally undercover Anti-Martyr Satan Messiah. In a smaller scale of their epic battles, the two fought for a coveted managerial position at their company. Other than that, the two got along great.
  • Madness Makeover: The Ultramartyr's flashbacks have him as a well-adjusted teenager. Then he messes with forces beyond his control, his clothes get torn and he grows a scraggly beard.
  • The Magic Goes Away: The Megamartyr of the Technochrist transports Dr. Brinner to a world where paranormal activity doesn't occur with no way to get back so she can deal with his friends without him in the way.
  • Mirror Universe: The Antiverse, where people are born as ghosts and become humans after they die.
  • Mood Whiplash: For years the story revolved around Dr. Brinner having wacky adventures in which angry ghosts would demand that he go back in time and fix their arguments for them. Then the story took a detour when he first fought the Technochrist. And lost. Badly. The story occasionally returns to its origins, and often brings back past characters, but since then most focus is placed on his battles with The Technochrist, The Dron, Dark Brinner and other enemies with much larger goals than just winning petty arguments.
  • More than Mind Control: The Dron have a very unusual relationship with those they take control of, involving months of psychological conditioning so the "victims" are okay with the whole ordeal. Dr. Brinner, of course, isn't at all pleased by them regardless.
  • The Movie: Rumor has it that famed Brinner fan Kevin Smith has been tapped by Paramount to write and direct a Dr. Brinner movie where Dr. Brinner, played by Ben Affleck, teams up with Jay and Silent Bob in an epic 4-hour adventure culminating in a showdown with the Technochrist himself, played by archived footage of George Carlin!
  • Mr. Fanservice: Nicolaus Copernicus gets quite a fangirl following, seeing as Andrew draws him as a typical Bishōnen despite him not being very good-looking in many real-life portraits.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: When the Antimartyr of the Technochrist dies, he goes into a long rant of how it's all part of the complicated plot to kill Dr. Brinner permanently.
    • This later becomes a subversion — the Antimartyr actually survived his staged "death", and his rant turns out to be part of a concerted campaign of misinformation meant to deceive the Doc.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Ultramartyr of the Technochrist, by any chance? That name should have you running before anyone even finishes speaking it.
    • However, this trope is apparently subverted with Jericho Incest, who happens to be a decent guy with an unfortunate surname. At least at first, anyway...
  • No Name Given: Played straight with the Pizza Delivery Guy, the Pizza Delivery Guy’s Dad, the Technochrist and his Martyrs, and Wheelman; parodied with The Man with the Really Ugly Striped Blue Turtleneck and Matching Cargo Pants.
  • Noble Bigot: Ghost Freud works tirelessly alongside Dr. Brinner to defend the dead from interdimensional predators and bizarre mental disorders, and, overall, he's not a bad guy — but, unfortunately, he still subscribes to a few rather sexist theories about women.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: The Megamartyr really wishes everyone would just forget about that time she replaced the sun with a disco ball and gave the entire planet a soundtrack of upbeat 70's tunes.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The rules are different in every universe.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: When someone becomes a vampire, since Vampires are undead, they leave a ghost of their human self. But dead vampires leave ghosts too. This can get a little confusing sometimes.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Almost too many to count — the Technochrist, the Martyrs, the Metamen, Jean Valjean (seriously), Gas Mask Euthyphro (post Face–Heel Turn), 1-48N, and Bosnia/Herzegovina all come to mind.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: Dr. Brinner doesn't really appreciate whoever is in charge of a universe where the dead are allowed no peace. During the Lamb of Regality saga he attempts this and fails.
  • Reset Button: The size of any given multiverse is aleph null, and the Infiniverse is presumably aleph one in size, so there's literally an infinite number of these that the characters can go to if they screw something up. Of course, it's generally considered polite if they go fix their mistakes later. There is also the reverse home machine, which destroys all universes except the one in which the one who pushes it succeed's, but it has never been used.
  • Science Is Useless: Averted, subverted and played straight. Science is usually behind everything, but interpreting it all isn't very easy.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Averted. Brinner loses his first fight with Dark Brinner because of his lung cancer and has to stop his past self from taking up smoking to win.
  • Speak of the Devil: Mentioning the Shadow Man's true name, Ramkarathas, will cause him to ki
    • In fact, the MSPA forums have used him for its own version of the Candle Jack me
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: Parodied when Andrew was hospitalised and appointed the Pizza Guy as his stand-in. He ended up changing the title to The Adventures of Pizza Guy, Ghost Freud, and That Other Guy. Brinner was not amused.
  • Start of Darkness: Brotherhood of Malcontent, which explains how the Technochrist's struggle with having the DNA of Jesus in a body designed only to kill turns him into the evil he is.
    • If some theories are true the the whole comic may be one for Dr.Brinner himself.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: Made especially difficult by the multiverse. How do you say that someone who used to be you who will for a brief period of time in the future exist in a different universe did something in this universe next week?
  • To Hell and Back: Played straight fairly often.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Used during the first battle with the Technochrist. Turns out it was everyone in the universe, twisting this one into Anyone Can Die.
  • Totally Radical, Jive Turkey: Homedawg G. Sweet Jesus, Homedawg G. Everything he says is completely incomprehensible:
    "Yo yo yo my main Mack daddy Puffy D! I wuzzice slim to the f to the hey-yo when I jacked that whack shellac down street on the flipflop timepants! Bro."
    • Mind you, this character is an exiled prince from Victorian England. WHY?
  • Unknown Rival: Corporal "Schizo" Dempski, a delusional special forces officer turned paraplegic who is convinced that Dr. Brinner not only served in his Green Beret platoon, but was the mastermind behind the unit's catastrophic last mission. Dr. Brinner, naturally, doesn't have a clue who he is.
  • Unwilling Roboticisation: The Dron don't really care that you don't want a few extra eyes.
  • Wave of Babies: Obviously.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Preacher Jack, a scientist/priest/soldier of fortune dedicated to destroying the Technochrist at any cost. Seems reasonable enough, given the Technochrist's rather nasty habit of destroying universes — until you learn that by "any cost", Jack means that he plans to unleash The Magpie, an Eldritch Abomination whose release will eradicate all sentient life in the multiverse.
  • Which Me?: There have been dozens of Dr. Brinners throughout the story, and supporting characters certainly aren't immune either.
  • You Must Be Cold: Done hilariously with HelperTron 9000 during Brinner's expedition to Greenland. Unfortunately, HelperTron hadn't taken his combat modifications into consideration and pulled a flamethrower on Brinner...

Isn't there something we're forgetting?