Follow TV Tropes


Webcomic / Dysfunctional Family Circus

Go To

Looking for Bil Keane's much beloved Newspaper Comic The Family Circus? Oy, have you come to the wrong place!

The Dysfunctional Family Circus is a Remix Comic which uses Keane's art - or a pastiche thereof - with new captions, ranging from the cleverly satirical to the perversely offensive, with plenty in between. The DFC has actually existed in in several forms since the early 1980s, starting with appearances in various 'zines,and continues in several forms on The Internet, but the best known and longest running incarnation was that begun in 1994 by Greg 'Spinwebbe' Galcik.

Galcik's DFC consisted of a Keane cartoon which was left without a given caption, and allowed the viewers to submit their own words; these would then be edited by Galcik and Co., and the best would be posted in the permanent archive alongside the cartoon. Initially, the site would accept all but the most brain-damaged entries, but as the infamy of the site spread, it became clear that some sort of editing would be needed. This led, for a time, to a system of four zone's in which the entries would be put while the cartoon was being commented on: the 'Gray' zone was not visible to the public and was where all the submissions that were rejected as unfunny ended up, most submissions ended up here, the 'Green' zone was for entries which were funny enough to usually ensure a place in the archive; the 'Yellow' zone was for entries that almost made green but were somehow lacking, "salvaging from Yellow" was a common practice, and the 'Red' zone, was for the entries which were rejected as too poorly written or simply too stupid. The 'Red' Zone was dropped later when it became clear that some contributors were intentionally trying to get into it.There was also an unrelated "difficult zone". The "difficult zone" was anything about the picture that would draw lots of very similar captions. For example if the picture had Bil smoking a pipe, all drug smoking references would be in the "difficult zone". The "difficult zone" also included anything listed in rejection reasons, for example captions that were too long. Succeeding with an "difficult zone" caption was always an achievement.


In 1999, after posting 499 cartoons to the site, Galcik received the long-expected 'cease and desist' order from King's Features Syndicate, demanding that the Keane art be taken down. While Galcik initially meant to fight the case in court, he reconsidered after a personal phone call from Keane himself, who was sympathetic to him. After the 500th and last entry was finished, the site was duly taken down, but not before several of the fans archived the entire contents for posterity. The 'Free Floating Dysfunctional Family Circus Archive', as posted several locations, has remained a staple of Internet culture ever since.

The archive can be found here. Feel free to dowload it and put it up on the Internet Archive for a better long-term preservation of the comic. Unless, of course, someone's already done it before, in which case all you have to do is to add a link to it on this page.


Tropes seen in the Dysfunctional Family Circus include:

  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • During the phone call with Greg, Bil Keane himself said that he read some of the captions, printed off the site.
    • Some archived captions were plundered from the yellow zone. invoked
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Several of the captions use anti-climactic lists of this type.
  • Abusive Parent: Both Bil and Thelma are portrayed this way regularly.
  • Author Avatar: Bil is often used as a strange variant of one.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall
  • Brick Joke: A few jokes call back to previous strips:
    • The christmas strip has the ground covered in toys. A couple strips later, they're still on the ground.
    • 26 has Billy with a baseball bat and a box of pizza. 27 has Dolly crying and holding her arm. The last caption of the strip has Dolly crying that all she did was try to grab a slice and he hit her with it.
    • One strip has Thel tell Bill to try and throw the lawnmower into the tree. Two strips later, she's tending to their wounds saying "Great shot with that lawnmower by the way!"
      • The same strip was also used as a Brick Joke for the one before that, wherein the kids are looking at a home under construction. Cut to Thel tending to their wounds saying "why was there no fence around that?"
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Frequently. Keep in mind that the eldest of the children is about eight-ish. Eeew.
  • Canon Foreigner: Uncle Roy, Bil's homosexual lover.
    • The Psychic Fern.
  • Catchphrase: Several, some of which were culled from the more notably loony of the Red Zone entries.
    • "Good on you, mate!"
  • Crapsack World: Drug abuse, prostitution, child abuse, rape, incest, necrophilia, devil-worshipping, and worse are all part of 'the fun in dysfunctional', at the Keane household.
  • Crapsaccharine World: What the site portrays Keane's original work as being in.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: A common Running Gag about Bil, to the point that it's joked that he and Grandma Keane are one and the same.
  • Deal with the Devil: In strip 27, Dolly remembers that her pact only makes her *look* young forever, and has, functionally, Age Without Youth.
  • Depending on the Writer: Many of the captioners had their own takes on the characters.
    • Uncle Roy got this a lot, mostly due to being an original character.
  • Distant Finale: Of sorts. The 500th panel for the site's successor, It's a Dysfunctional Life, has P.J. from the final DFC panel in front of a castle and a baseball bat wielding giant.
  • Dysfunction Junction:
  • Everyone Has Standards/Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: Another set of captions have some person, known for making controversial or overly offensive work, offended by the Keanes' depravity.
  • Historical In-Joke: Other captions also show the Keanes as bystanders in history, such as when Jeffy invented "Gettin' jiggy wit it" or how Grandma Keane was classmates with Andy Warhol.
  • Lampshade Hanging/Self-Deprecation: The "Generic DFC Captions".
  • Lost Episode: Numbers 52, 420 and 421.
  • Moral Dissonance: Inevitable, when the Tastes Like Diabetes original is juxtaposed with Internet fuckwadery.
  • No Fourth Wall
  • Older Than They Look: A common Running Gag is that the kids are actually adults who're Not Allowed to Grow Up for various reasons. This is done for both comedy reasons and to lessen the squick a little.
  • Only Sane Man: How Billy is often portrayed. He's still quite depraved.
  • Parental Incest
  • Racist Grandma: Grandma Keane is reinterpreted as one, with her waxing nostalgic about the third Reich.
  • Refuge in Audacity: The more outrageous the caption submitted was, the more likely it was to get archived (up to a point).
  • Running Gag: Quite a few of them, to the point that Galcik would automatically cut references to certain ones that had lost their humor.
    • Variations of Thel's moniker "sperm-burping gutter slut", "whoaaaaa im trippin my nut sack into a frenzy of dik play", "Good on you, mate!" and "poop holds it wher it is".
    • A pennant, seen from a panel in Washington D.C.
    • The meaning of P.J.'s initials - many people listed possibilities when they wrote fake memoirs for the kid. Eventually lampshaded in the final cartoon, where one caption has P.J. gloating about how "[the DFC] idiots never guessed his real name" - Pee Jay.
    • The numerous excerpts of tell-all memoirs written by members of the family.
    • Nadsat captions.
  • Scary Black Man: Uncle Roy is described as such.
  • Shout-Out: The site had as much referential captions as vulgar ones.
    • Some of the captions gave Thel the middle name "Louise".
  • Spiritual Successor: In the site's final days, Spinnwebe made It's A Dysfunctional Life, later renamed A-1 AAA Ameri Captions, which was the same format but with random photos.
  • The Dog Was the Mastermind: Psychic Fern and its friends.
  • Toilet Humor
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Despite its overall tone, many of the best captions were of a decidedly intellectual bent.
  • White Void Room: Only a handful of Keane's original strips have any sort of background, a fact often commented on by the captions.

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: