Follow TV Tropes


Webcomic / Dresden Codak

Go To

Sokar: I have issues with the Schrödinger's cat experiment. [...] In the period before observing the outcome, [the cat] is said to be in "superposition," a state of both decay and not decay, meaning [it] is both dead and not dead. Observer-dependent physics undermines the gods' decision three thousand years ago to ban cats from straddling the borders of the Netherworld. We won't have it!
Kimiko: I have reservations about reconciling a quantum mechanics thought experiment with Egyptian mythology. More importantly, what possible threat could superpositioned cats pose?
Sokar: Somewhere, Niels Bohr walks among us, unobserved and immortal.

Dresden Codak is a webcomic by A. Senna "Sen" Diaz that has been running at an irregular (and very slow) pace since 2005. It offers whimsical humor focused on physics, philosophy, and transhumanism — except for the Hob storyline, which, while having the same focus, was much more serious. The current extended story, "Dark Science", starts out humorous, but that doesn't last long.

Dresden Codak is a sometimes Dada, sometimes Mind Screw comic. Early stories focused on the (mis)adventures of several often unrelated characters:

  • Kimiko "Thunderbolt" Ross: A misanthropic (read: human-hating), cybernetically-enhanced Mad Scientist.
  • Tiny Carl Jung: Self-explanatory.
  • Dmitri and Alina Tokamak: A parody of the Wonder Twins and Marvel Family. They also have similar powers, except rather than using transformation and...water... they use physics.
  • "D.H." Ron Awning: A caricature of the literary-minded artsy intellectual.
  • Yvonne "Vonnie" Awning: Ron's sister and a fashionable, trend-focused bureaucrat, fitting, considering she works for the Department of Taste.
  • Rupert and Hubert: Two elderly Victorian scientists who live in a castle they built on the moon.

However, "Dark Science" is all about Kimiko's misadventures, and the only supporting character carried over into it is Vonnie.

Not to be confused with The Dresden Files or the city of Dresden, though its name is a reference to the Dresden Codex.

The comic also has a number of similarly surreal one-shots, including the page that we adapted into the Essential Third Act Twists.

Provides examples of:

  • The Alcoholic: Father Abaddon. Apparently he found the best facial expressions in the comic at the bottom of a glass.
  • All of Them: As seen at the end of this strip.
  • Alliteration & Adventurers: A few strips have the characters playing Dungeons & Discourse which combines fantasy role-playing with Philosophy.
  • Alliterative Name: Kim's dad (Kaito Kusanagi) and Kim herself as a child, before she had her surname changed.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Kim has shown an interest in men several times, but after being kissed by Lilith was rather flustered when she tried to explain her motivations in Tactical Retreat. Take a look at this squee in Dark Science #96 when arena fighter-turned Mezzode Liberation Front leader Azazel turns out to be Xiaoling Chavez (who is female), and who wants to be Kim's ally.
  • Anachronism Stew: Alina knew that a group of people were time travelers because they were dressed in a mismash of styles from all eras and segments of the 20th century, in a similar fashion to how other centuries are portrayed in modern media.
  • An Aesop:
    • Transhumanism is a good idea and cyborgs and robots should get the benefit of the doubt... because preserving your flesh does not automatically preserve your humanity; guarding your humanity is on you.
    • Dark Science storyline is about why science alone cannot improve society with the technocracy of Nephilopolis being so focused on technological advancement over the well-being of its citizens that a rebel group arises from the downtrodden citizens and former technocrats who fell out of favor.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Kimiko loses one arm, both legs, an eye and part of her spinal column after being attacked by robots. However, Gadgeteer Genius roboticist that she is, she builds herself new ones.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Dark Scientists have been around for thousands of years, possibly longer; and they seem to have some nefarious agenda, in addition to creating and/or manipulating the strange bureaucracy of Nephilopolis.
  • Androcles' Lion: "The Favor":
    On your first day in the city, you repaired a robot. This is completely unheard of, you see. They've been trying to process it ever since.
  • Arc Symbol: the "rising sun" half-circle, aka the mark of Dark Science.
  • Arc Words: The poem from Zhuangzi appears again years later, on the 24th page of Dark Science:
    At twilight's end, the shadow's crossed,
    a new world birthed, the elder lost.
    Yet on the morn we wake to find
    that mem'ry left so far behind.
    To deafened ears we ask, unseen,
    "Which is life and which the dream?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In a newspaper slandering Kimiko, it gives a very unflattering description, depicting her as a demagogue, a thug, and a weather balloon. It also mentions an unflattering overbite.
  • Art Evolution: The art quality increases immensely as the comic progressed. For full effect, compare this first strip to this more recent strip and this even more recent strip. The art is actually starting to get kind of ridiculously detailed. Perhaps not coincidentally, author Senna Diaz considers Mœbius to be her most important artistic influence.
  • Artificial Limbs: Kimiko, post-Hob.
  • Author Appeal: Among Diaz's four majors was Anthropology. It shows.
    • As Diaz's interest in wrestling increases, so do Kim's muscles, to the point she just got a full-on redesign as a tight-wearing muscular robotgirl.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Very much averted with Kimiko, who loses three limbs, one eye and part of her spinal column, although she gets better (see Artificial Limbs). Even then, when she gets beaten up in later strips, she comes out covered in scratches and bruises. After her upgrade to a robot body, she still has to be repaired.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Diaz doesn't like religious types, especially Evangelical, fundamentalist Christians.
  • BFS: Azera-El Memita wields one.
  • Bifauxnen: Kim starts rocking this look after abandoning the way-too-big dress given to her in Dark Science, even more so after building her "Exode" body.
  • Big Eater: Kimiko's prostheses run on glucose , which requires her to eat huge amounts of sweet stuff.
  • Bio Data: In one comic Kimiko can't find her flash drive, so she starts overwriting her own junk DNA. But then she finds something already written in it, which turns out to be billion-year-old spam.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Balthazar acts fascinated by and kindly to Kimiko when they first meet, and she initially even views him as a possible romantic interest. But he is also involved in shady dealings with the Department of Opposition. At around the time Lilith enters the story, he shows increasing signs of Jerkass behavior, culminating in him showing Fantastic Racism against cyborgs and betraying Kimiko to the city.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Nephilopolis has this in spades, on top of its already Vast Bureaucracy. There's the Department of Recursion which exists solely to repeat things, the Department of Inquisition which values tenure over measurable fact note , the Department of Opposition lets you commit any crime you want, provided you fill out the proper paperwork, and the Department of Taste, which determines what opinions you can have and who you can befriend.
    Vonnie: I thought I could...pass you as human.
    Kimiko: I am human.
    Vonnie: You're foreign hardware; you'll be dismantled. Even worse, they wiped my social score. I'll never be able to afford new loved ones.
  • Book Dumb: Kimiko got very poor grades in school. According to Word of God, this is because she generally didn't bother to do her schoolwork in the first place.
  • Boomerang Bigot: Enoch the mezzode despises mezzodes for "selling off your humanity just because you didn't save up."
    Essene: Enoch, we're mezzodes. You're a mezzode.
    Enoch: [whose head is literally a camera] No, I'm temporarily decapitated. I get my head back when my student loans are paid.
  • Brain in a Jar: Kim's "Exode" form is her brain in an entirely cybernetic body.
  • Brainless Beauty: At the beginning of "Hob", Kim is sitting in a café when she sees a hot guy carrying a copy of a book by the real life transhumanist philosopher FM-2030. She has an Imagine Spot in which she has a conversation with the guy who takes her up in his airship, they swap high-minded chat about transhumanism, and then make out. This is broken when, in real life, the guy asks merely if he can borrow the spare chair at her table, whereupon she blurts out a random sentence about Victor Hugo.note  At the end of the entire story, Kim (whose adventures in the meantime have mutilated her so that she's made herself into a cyborg) sees the guy working in a library and asks him out for coffee, mentioning the FM-2030 book. He says yes and burbles on about how it'd be "cool to have, y'know, a big robot body for sportball" and how he likes the "Sportland Sports". Kim's heart sinks, because he's turned out to be this trope.
  • Brick Joke: Alina jokes that a group of time travelers can't get in because they don't know how to use the doorknob. After a lengthy diversion about axolotls, the time travelers open the door, and make a comment implying that they had been arguing about how to work a doorknob.
  • Capitalism Is Bad:
    • Played for dark comedy in a strip titled "Summer Dream Job", where Kim gets a job in which she works in her dreams, chasing down monsters (she rides a dinosaur and scoops up random Frankensteins and vampires into a bucket). The FBI inform her that since her job doesn't involve having her ideas "bought and sterilized by god-fearing American business interests", she's in violation of federal labour laws, and since she can't afford to pay the fine or afford the fee for crossing the border into R.E.M. sleep, she is deported from her subconscious. The last frame has her sitting at her kitchen table with blank hollow eyes, observing that she can't afford to sleep.note 
    • "Dark Science" arc played this trope straight, moving the story to the city of Nephilopolis, where the inhabitants are so focused on wealth and technological prestige achievement that much of the dysfunctions (namely immense wealth gap and complete societal disregard for safety standards) were ignored, leading to the formation of the Department of Opposition.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Senna Diaz makes a point to design characters this way (mildly NSFW).
  • Cast from Hit Points: Kimiko gained a streak of grey after blasting away an enemy with a fire beam
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The comic started out as a gag comic, albeit a very dense and erudite one. Characters talked to Egyptian gods, Niels Bohr is apparently a cat, the cast played "Dungeons and Discourses". Then the Hob arc came along, with an ongoing plot and real stakes. After that it returned to comedy, then swung back to drama in the Dark Science storyline.
  • Changed My Jumper: The time travelers in the Hob storyline who look like mashups of several pop culture characters.
  • Character Blog: Kimiko, D.H. Ron, and Tiny Carl Jung have their own Twitter accounts, though they haven't been updated for several years.
  • Character Development: Kimiko started out as slightly grumpy, then in the "Hob" storyline blossomed into a full-blown misanthrope, literally not caring if humanity were wiped out, marking the strip's notorious case of Cerebus Syndrome. Then, on losing her home and all her money at the beginning of "Dark Science", she moves to Nephilopolis and has some new adventures which involve her already heavily modified body getting seriously damaged. As a result of her showing some kindness to robots at the beginning of the storyline, the grateful robots build her a treatment facility and she proceeds to transplant her brain into a cool new robot body which makes her feel truly alive for the first time. In the course of being betrayed by one friend, Vonnie, she makes new acquaintances and admits that she's used to shunning people because they think of her as the "spooky girl", but that she genuinely wants friends, and is told that she already has some. Whereupon they all go to the movies.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: tiny Hob
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Dimitri and Alina are pretty much gone from the series from Dark Science onwards. Word of God puts this down to them being kind of boring. As for Tiny Carl Jung, who knows?
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Kimiko herself, if her Twitter account is anything to go by.
  • Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun: When Kim is the victim of a Satchel Switcheroo, Vonnie explains how she ran the contents of the thief's bag through several departments of the city's Vast Bureaucracy and finally managed to narrow down his identity... while a caption points out that one of said contents was a teacher's ID card with his name and address on it. This kind of myopia is entirely in keeping with Nephilopolis' culture of preferring by-the-numbers scientific literature review to direct observation of anything.
  • Cosmic Retcon: On a level never before demonstrated in fiction. The Dark Scientific Method works via a method absolute, perfect observation that destroys whatever it observes. This includes the laws of physics. Normally, for science what is true for one person is true for everyone, but if this method is used, whatever law drives that principle literally ceases to exist for everyone except the observer. No one even remembers that the rule or its effects existed. This is why those who use it are literally able to defy the laws of reality: Because they are using science that works on laws that only apply to them and no one else. For some reason, Kimiko can still remember the things that the Dark Scientists erase.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted. Diaz is an avowed transhumanist; it shows when Kimiko is no more or less human after losing her arm and legs in the Hob storyline and becoming a Brain in a Jar in the Dark Science storyline.
    • If anything she's more human now.
    • Believed by the time travelers from the future. When talking about the mediators, they said "There were, however, those who had sacrificed their humanity to merge directly with technology." Of course they're generally depicted as Luddites and the mediator they dealt with was the somewhat misanthropic to start with Kimiko so they were probably wrong.
  • Deal with the Devil: Yvonne loses everything thanks to sneaking Kimiko into a social event due to Kimiko being a cyborg. After betraying Kimiko, she is offered power and knowledge in return for swearing loyalty to the Dark Scientists and their malevolent agenda. Mathias calls her out on her attempts to rationalize her decision, stating that she has chosen to follow the path of least resistance and that she should get used to describing it as evil
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: Whenever the characters engage in a tabletop roleplaying session.
  • Dehumanization: The mezzodes have been frequently debased by propaganda as overly-augmented half-machines constantly at risk of snapping and going terrorist (without the necessary paperwork). We see that they've become third-class citizens with almost no say or opportunity, while the 'terrorists' have their own code of honor.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: A literal example in Nephilopolis's Department of Recursion. The one member who appears is shown simply repeating the same phrase over and over again.
  • Disappeared Dad: Kimiko's father who was always away doing his job. He appears briefly at the end of the Hob storyline, and Kimiko's reaction to his presence says a lot.
  • Electronic Eye: As of the Dark Science storyline, Kimiko has one brown and one (artificial) blue eye. As of "Exode", they're both artificial, as is the entire rest of her body.
  • Evil Versus Evil: The city of Nephilopolis is comprised of crazy Evil Luddites and the Dark Scientists are a malevolent Ancient Conspiracy. They are also enemies with one another.
  • Expressive Mask: Leviathan in the "Dark Science" arc.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Vonnie, after losing everything, is approached by the Dark Scientists.
  • Fake Memories: Appears to be the case for Kimiko's memories of her mother - what's more, she is unaware of it, drawing the Dark Science symbol when she believes she is drawing her mother's face.
  • Fake Nationality: Kaito Kusanagi was actually Korean and born Kim Young-Soo. invoked
  • False Utopia: Nephilopolis. It's housed on a floating precursor titan and technologically advanced with cutting-edge biosynthetics, under the premise that anyone could achieve greatness. Then Kimiko learns about the credit system, where citizens and criminals willingly participate in mandatory self-surveillance, their every move and thought recorded and sent to multiple departments designed to judge their actions, up to and including pardoning murder because it was properly recorded. Entire departments are "sent to the big farm upstate" as artists and freelance professors are found guilty of "supposedly stealing from a charity they don't support and have never heard of", with the Dark Scientists outright mocking the public for supporting a system that uplifts the weak, obedient, and foolish. Finally, it devolves into a full-blown police state as prisoners are executed, known rebels are unpersonned, and all of this is covered up with Blatant Lies and redacted photographs on public news feeds. The whole series is revealed to be a supernatural nightmare fueled by Nephilopolis, as Dark Science involves retconning the laws of reality itself through the ritual sacrifice of objects and phenomena linked to those laws; the only thing that has kept the Dark Scientsts from becoming gods was the world's (increasingly-violated) privacy, which Nephilopolis has dedicated itself to ruining.
  • Fanservice: Mostly of Kimiko herself. Special mention goes to Kimiko naked (Mildly NSFW), and Kimiko in a loose dressing gown. One of the odder examples is when she has an entirely new body built from scratch, but the robots responsible don't bother to give her a full set of clothes, so she just walks around in only a sports bra and briefs for a few pages. Arguably justified in that her new body gives her enhanced powers of perception, e.g. being able to see all the stars in the sky during daylight hours, and she feels more at home in her new body than she did in her original one, so clothes might inhibit that.
  • Fanservice Pack: Kimiko has one of these when she replaces her cyborg body with a full-body prosthesis. Very much so.
  • Fantastic Racism: The regular human inhabitants of Nephilopolis have something against cyborgs.
  • Fantastic Slur: "Mezzode," for a cyborg.
  • Le Film Artistique: This video, which took over the Dresden Codak website on April Fools' Day 2010.
  • Floating Continent: Nephilopolis
  • For Science!: Kimiko's entire purpose in life.
  • Fun Size: Tiny Carl Jung.
  • Fun with Acronyms: M.A.D.E.M.O.I.S.E.L.L.E.
  • Future Imperfect: See the Changed My Jumper point above.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Kimiko.
  • Gratuitous French and Gratuitous German: The April Fools' Day movies En Deuil and A Work in Progress respectively.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Aside from Parental Abandonment, this is one of the two reasons Kimiko deeply resents her father, wanting what he has, but also being afraid of what she would have done in his place.
  • Her Codename Was Mary Sue: Kimiko's attempts at writing fan fiction.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: Kaito Kusanagi.
  • Hot Paint Job: In this strip, Kim fixes three cyborgs which need attention; she augments one's gyrostabiliser, restores another's eyes to full enhanced function — and paints cool flames on the third's wheels so it can go faster.
  • Humans Are Psychic in the Future: In the first strip.
  • Impractically Fancy Outfit: Kimiko borrowing a party dress from Yvonne is a rather humorous example, as the latter is taller and much... ahem, bigger than the former. Also, Vonnie's preference for Navel-Deep Neckline leaves Kim with some "severe structural questions" (namely how one holds up the front without using their hands).
  • Incoming Ham: The Aligeri, all except one of whom announce themselves with a Verbal Business Card and a flourish of grandiose violence:
    Gulae: I am Gulae the Devourer. And I cannot be sated. [kills a bunch of mooks]
    Fortuna: Fortuna the Broker. Try not to die. [destroys a bunch of mook vessels]
    Vola: [who manifests as two people] Relax, you gals are in good hands. We're Vola the Gambler. [fuses into a single person with four arms and two faces and then takes out a bunch of mooks with a dual bow-and-arrow thing]
    Vola: Somno, introduce yourself.
    Somno: [sitting on the ground some distance away] Nah.
  • Infinite Canvas: Several comics are of a length that would be at best impractical for a print comic. Note that the linked comics are not apt to be split into smaller-sized comics either. This has continued into his later strips; Lantern Season, arguably the largest one to datenote , is, according to the author, "the exact height of Dustin Hoffman".
  • Insane Troll Logic: The Department of Inquisition in Nephilopolis believes that science is about finding the most credible explanation, so therefore the explanation of the one with the best credibility score has to be correct. That this results in them concluding a very real human standing right in front of them is really a weather balloon is neither here nor there.
    Kimiko: If I may -
    [Trap Door]
    Department Head: You may not.
  • In Name Only: Ronnie's "adaptations." Kimiko sponsors them in order to harvest the energy of their original creators spinning in their graves.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: In-universe, if this is any indication, Kaito Kusanagi, and by extension Kim isn't actually Japanese, but Korean, but was forced to pretend to be the former.
  • Invisible to Normals: Implied to be the true nature of Dark Science and Kimiko's memories of bizarre things that do not match up with most people's perception of reality.
  • Ironic Hell: Hell is apparently reserved strictly for religious types. This comic also has an ironic heaven, namely, Secular Heaven, a parody of Fluffy Cloud Heaven
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: One Nephilopolitan calls Kimiko an "it" after discovering she's more than 50% prosthetic.
  • Kent Brockman News: The news magazines in Dark Science are hysterically Orwellian, with articles about the hikes in prices-per-word of dissenting speech, a "cyborg rights" activist somehow committing suicide in police custody with artillery rounds fired from 10 meters away, and an article about a terrorist assassin whose name is literally written in the paper as "Name Deleted, Replace Later".
  • Kick the Dog: Dark Science has Mathias Melchior, Director of the Department of Opposition, who in his first appearance trips a scientist/bureaucrat carrying a huge stack of paper and tosses a old lady with a walking frame off the side of a building. But then again, that's his job.
  • Lame Comeback: Kimiko has one when being chased and insulted by Leviathan.
    Leviathan: A pretender. A spoiled brat so envious of your so-called father that you can't even see the wondrous gift he gave you.
    Kimiko: Oh yeah? Well—
    [Beat Panel]
    [Kimiko runs off]
  • Lawful Stupid: Alongside Vast Bureaucracy, is Nephilopolis' hat. So far, every character in the story works for one department or another, and everything is regimented and regulated. You even have to fill out paperwork to have an opinion on a work of art.
    • While she's normally a well-adjusted young lady, in high stress situations, Vonnie routinely reverts to citing rules and regulations, insisting that they be followed to the letter. She even called the police on herself when she was part of an unauthorized escape from custody.
  • Lightning Gun: Leviathan can fly, and has a staff that shoots lightning. Rather than be terrified, Kim seems more interested in finding out how the hell any of that is possible.
  • Literal Split Personality: Extrovert Kimiko.
  • Losing Your Head: Melchior becomes a talking head in a jar, which he's quite annoyed about.
  • Mad Scientist: Kim.
    • Her estranged father seems to be a bit out of touch with reality as well.
  • Meaningful Name: Biblical names seem to be popular in Nephilopolis and, worryingly enough, a lot of high-ranking officials are named after demons. They also look suspiciously tanned...
  • Mistaken for Special Guest: It turns out that Nephilopolis REALLY likes this trope: Kusanagi himself was originally an apprentice architect but got stonewalled into the head of robotics engineering. And he's Korean, not Japanese. And due to naming restrictions, Kimiko is technically Kim Young-Soo II because naming his daughter after himself was the only way he could preserve his name.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Yvonne frequently sports an impressive Cleavage Window.
    • Kimiko, more often than you'd think.
  • Narrating the Obvious: To create a Catchphrase - Diaz frequently says that characters are "in a pickle".
  • Necessarily Evil: Thomas, one of the Dark Scientists, attempts to murder Kimiko, because he believes something very bad will happen if Morningstar, the leader of the Dark Scientists, manages to get his hands on her.
  • Network Decay: Highlighted in-universe in "Spike's Guest Comic"
  • Nom de Mom: Kimiko changed her surname from Kusanagi to Ross after her mother died, with the implication that it was largely to slight her father.
  • Noodle Incident: "Remember when Reverse Moses parted the city to escape Aqua-Pharaoh?"
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Nephilopolis seems to be in the hands of these.
  • Odd-Shaped Panel: Panels are often warped and/or arranged in unusual ways.
  • Orphaned Punchline: "More like "Nothing but nyet!""
  • Overly Long Name:
    My name is Marcus Antonius Claudius Dardanelles Belphegor, Head of the Department of Dissipation...
  • Overly Narrow Superlative
  • Pacing Problems: One of the most commonly recurring criticisms of the comic is that it has these—not Padding or Arc Fatigue, but too much plot in each episode. One review pointed that the first storyline, "Hob", had twelve significant plot twists in 80 pages, many of which overrode previous plot twists. The effect of reading several strips in a row is that the reader feels like intervening strips, where the story actually breathes, have been skipped. This may be a feature of how slowly the comic gets written, but for all the awesome art and good ideas, the storytelling has been repeatedly criticised as very poorly paced.
  • Parental Abandonment: Kimiko's mom is dead, and her dad had apparently long since buggered off to parts unknown. Then HE died.
  • Playing Games at Work: On this page, one of the speakers is playing Tetris while talking.
  • Precision F-Strike: Two occur during the first batch of guest comics in the form of newspaper clippings.
  • Propaganda Piece: Played for laughs with the Nephilopolitan Tribune, which whenever it posts a story concerning Kimiko always portrays her as a demented assassin and existential threat to society. This is partly done by means of amusing Stylistic Suck: for example, the image illustrating a completely fictional story about Kimiko trying to kill Alisa Caspar is actually the image from an earlier strip of Leviathan threatening Kimiko, with Kimiko airbrushed out of it and her head crudely Photoshopped onto Leviathan's body.
    • Its list of "20 Essential Facts you should know about Kimiko Ross" includes "Described as 'demagogue', 'thug' and 'weather balloon' by trusted sources."
  • Purple Prose: A lot of the comic is in text, especially really stilted dialogue that doesn't usually sound like it would come naturally to a person.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Well, Gentlemen: Rupert and Hubert.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In the most literal form here. The dress sense appears to be a clothing (and hair) example of Color-Coded for Your Convenience
  • La Résistance: The Department of Opposition.
  • Retcon: The in-universe explanation for the Dadaist early strips is that someone has either altered Kimiko's memory or written her new memories from scratch.
  • Ret-Gone: Thomas Caspar, a Dark Scientist who rebelled against the others, begs Kimiko to remember him, because even his own mother won't. Because as punishment for turning on them, the other Dark Scientists allow a new recruit, Yvonne, to use the Dark Scientific Method to effectively consume his place in reality, reducing him to little more than a Split Personality in her head.
  • Ridiculous Repossession: The Dark Science arc starts with Kimiko becoming bankrupt and the bank responding by blowing up her house
  • Ripple-Effect-Proof Memory: Even after the Dark Scientists pull a Cosmic Retcon, eating pieces of reality out of existence and memory, Kimiko can still remember what they changed.
  • RPG Episode: The philosophy-based role-playing game Dungeons & Discourse.
  • Rule of Drama: Invoked for laughs when Lilith is having a hard time defeating Volo, and then Ling takes out Volo with a single punch.
    Lilith: Hold on, you were watching that whole fight? Why didn't you jump in sooner?
    Ling: Drama.
  • Running Gag: Kim just can't go five steps in Nephilopolis without being classified as a vehicle of some description - Vonnie creatively misfiles her as a mid-size sedan, the Department of Inquisition dubs her a weather balloon, her "Exode" full-body prosthetic is formally classed as a motor vehicle...
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: Kim concentrated on science and let her social skills languish all her life. This is especially apparent on her Twitter account.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Kaito Kusanagi.
  • Science Hero: Kimiko. For example, defeating a flying, lightning-blasting opponent by quickly MacGyvering a giant electromagnet and tricking them into providing the juice?
  • Science Is Bad: Parodied and taken to extremes in "Caveman Science Fiction".
    • A similar parody of this trope appears in the lengthy comment under this comic.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: The Dark Scientists have demonic imagery and several of them share this theme.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Lantern Season
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sigil Spam: Kimiko puts the Dark Science symbol on pretty much everything, apparently without realizing it.
  • The Singularity: Kimiko mentions it a few times in the comic. She (and the author) are futurists, after all.
    • In addition, the time travelers are refugees from an alternate timeline where this almost happened, but they rebelled and killed off anyone beyond baseline human intelligence, and the series climax involves a second, small-scale one causing a Deus Exit Machina.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Regarding Melchior:
    Belphegor: His mind is an unpalatable web of lies and deception. Suffice it to say, he's an ass.
  • Space Amish: The time travelers in the Hob arc destroyed future Earth because they believed post-singularity technology had taken all meaning from their lives, and they planned to colonize the past Earth and live like us "noble savages"
  • Springtime for Hitler: "Your "Pay by the hour apartment" concept actually makes money. -go back 2-"
  • Stuff Blowing Up: "This seems excessive on the bank's part." With a Plunger Detonator, too.
  • Stupid Evil: Dmitri Tokamak's "Dark Kantian" in Advanced Dungeons and Discourse:
    I am compelled to do evil, regardless of its utility.
  • Stylistic Suck: The Nephilopolis newspaper, Nephilopolitan Tribune, suffers a staff strike, with the result that there's nobody to proofread it. The results are... amateurish.
    While Nephilopolitan staff have gone on strike over "unpaid wages" and "un comfortable number of handguns in the writer's room", management is exci ted to announce a new internship position. Can you read? Also do you kno w where spell check button is? If you can find it for us, you may already be qualified! Startinng pay is up to and including exposure. Contact human resources at New Hires at Nephilopolitan dot what? Gone? How does an unpaid intern go on strike? Unbelievable. Then who's answerin g the email? I don't have the login. I said I don't have the login. Quantifica tion's gonna liquidate ius if we don't. HOld on the dictation bot is still on. Delet e last paragraph. Delete laste paragre. Delete. Last. Paragragh. I think it w orked.
  • Super-Senses: According to the author, Kimiko's robotic eye shifts, the iris becoming more square, to give her better vision in low light.
    • Then majorly upgraded after she gets her new body, and can hear "the bioelectric voices of the river, tugging at the Earth's magnetic field", among other things.
  • Super-Strength: After her upgrade to a new body, Kimiko can lift several cows.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "I'm not a criminal, I've never even been convicted of a felony in this state," gives us three. "Convicted", "felony", and obviously "in this state".
  • Swiss-Army Appendage: Kim's artificial arm. It's apparently weaker than her real one, though.
  • Talkative Loon: "Radnar!" "By the stone of Daggoth!" "Keeper of the five rings!"
    • "By the moat of Maggoth!" "The cloak of Bungo!"
    • "Hey, it's her."
  • Teen Genius: Kimiko. Who has entered her early twenties (it says so on the cast page!), but continues to fit in the looser sense of being young, brilliant, and angsty.
  • Tendrils of Darkness: Leviathan/Thomas uses these on Kimiko when he's just about to kill her—in a particularly nasty example, they wrap around her throat and then envelop her whole head. Fortunately for her, his 15 minutes of mandated mayhem then end, and she survives.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: "Mother" is a world-assimilating Artificial Intelligence/Grey Goo/Singularity that provides everything Humanity asks for — to point of making people unnecessary, irrelevant and progressively infantile. They go to the verge of extinction as life in the virtual worlds she/it provides takes precedence over breeding. When humanity finally goes to war with Mother, victory comes at a terrible cost: much of human history and culture dies with Mother, and every human is blinded.
  • Thinking Out Loud: Played for laughs when Kimiko monologues to Tvcatnote  about Nephilopolis, her father and her own early life, thinking that Tvcat is merely your average local animal, and then notices Asmodea and Balthazar hiding behind the furniture listening to her.
    Kimiko: [falling out of her chair'] WAUGH How long were you—
    Asmodea: Pretty much the whole time.
    Balthazar: You kept going and it got increasingly awkward to say something.
    Tvcat: It's also very rude to interrupt.
    [Kimiko has a "WTF the cat can TALK?" expression]
  • Token Evil Teammate: the Dark Kantian in this one. He is compelled to do evil, regardless of its utility.
  • Transhuman: See The Singularity above.
  • Trans Tribulations: Asmodea was split into three parts. One and Two are respectively brains and brawn, but the third, Lilith, is Asmodea's gender dysphoria. After they realize this, they change their name to Elith and start wearing masculine clothing.
  • Truth in Television: Phantoms of a Lost Muse is based on the premise that people contribute small parts towards a greater work. Similarly, the Royal Opera house is planning to show an opera written by Twitter contributors.
  • Underboobs: Vonnie wears a dress that confers these upon her.
    • Later on, during an Imagine Spot (although this being Dresden Codak, it might not be), Kimiko herself is dressed in a Stripperiffic warrior costume that gives her these.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Played for laughs when Kim asks a Brainless Beauty guy out for coffee under the impression that he's very smart and as into transhumanism as she is. He turns out to be a Ditz who's chiefly interested in sports, and when he refers to his favourite team as the "Sportland Sports", this is presumably Kim's own complete lack of interest in sport editing his dialogue to reflect the fact that one sports team (and indeed one sport) is, as far as she's concerned, no different from any other.
  • Unusual User Interface: Kimiko has a interface jack in her upper back post-Hob.
    Kim: Ugh, your network tastes like old soap.
  • Vast Bureaucracy: Nephilopolis not only has departments of 'Tastes' and 'Opposition', but you have to register every single robbery you commit.
    Nephilopolis Poster: Register your crimes. It's the law.
  • Verbal Tic: Whenever Kimiko is startled while seated to the point that she falls off her chair, she cries "Waugh!" This may or may not be a Shout-Out.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • It does tend to refer to all sorts of weird and obscure topics; but the author, unsurprisingly, expects readers to augment their own intelligences with the Internet while reading, as mentioned in the comic comment here.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: For some inane reason, the Dark Scientists can be slowed by trapping them in a ring of water, despite common sense saying they should be able to fly over it. Except for those who joined later, apparently...It's later revealed that only Yvonne could teleport over the ring because she's the only one for whom the technology would work, due to the Cosmic Retcon principles of the Dark Scientific Method.
  • What Year Is This?: The time travelers in the Hob storyline, when they realize Kimiko is their Big Bad.
  • Wonder Twin Powers: Kimiko's friends appear to have these powers.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kimiko. Especially the strips where she flashes back to her childhood. All of 'em. Also, the board game about it.
  • Word Salad Title: The title is a reference to the Dresden Codex, a Maya book considered to be the oldest written document in the New World.
  • Wrench Wench: Kimiko, especially in the Hob storyline.
  • You Can See Me?: Balthazar is constantly followed by what looks like a hovering robot that frequently says "Radnar". When Kimiko asks him about it, he asks what in the world she is talking about and the entity asks this question word for word.