Black Mage: That's it, I've had enough. This whole goddamn adventure has been nothing but pointless build ups toward pay offs that never happen.
8-Bit Theater is a Spite... er, Sprite Comic by Brian Clevinger that ran from 2001 to 2010. Its plot, an Affectionate Parody of the first Final Fantasy, follows the four Light Warriors (who really aren't the best for the job): Fighter McWarrior, an astoundingly stupid sword-obsessed warrior; Black Mage Evilwizardington, an Ax-Crazy homicidal sociopath who is only held back by the Rule of Funny and a tendency to get hurt; Thief, a fugitive prince of elf clan Khee'bler armed with extreme greed and an expertise in manipulative contracts; and Red Mage Statscowski, a so-called strategist who considers life to be a tabletop game, is obsessed with his stats, and was tricked into liking cross dressing.
The strip's humor comes mostly from the violent nature of its protagonists, the absurd situations they find themselves in, and a little screwing around with videogame tropes (mainly RPG tropes, but others do come into play). It is one of the original sprite comics, having started the year after Bob and George and eventually outstripping it in terms of popularity (at least partly because the latter comic ended in 2007). It also defined the dysfunctional party dynamic that would go on to fill every single other fantasy webcomic that came after it.
After nine years, two fake endings, well over a thousand strips, and (at least) two of the longest-ranged Call Backs in the history of the webcomic medium, 8-Bit Theater finally ended. A few weeks after the last proper comic's publication, Clevinger published a long epilogue to wrap things up; it was written by Clevinger and drawn by Matt Speroni (How I Killed Your Master).
8-Bit Theater contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: Clevinger played with this to help create the Anti-Climax. Each Light Warrior has an avatar of some sort trying to prepare each of them for their large and important destinies. However, they all eventually get fed up and leave, unable to take all the insanity and stupidity. None of them are ever mentioned again and don't have anything to do with the story's ultimate resolution.
- Achievements in Ignorance: Both Fighter and Black Belt can break the laws of physics simply through being too stupid to understand them.
- Actually A Good Idea: The Light Warriors (minus Fighter) come up with a plan to defeat Chaos, after Fighter ruins their previous attempt by selling the legendary weapons Thief stole. They'll send Fighter over to literally talk him to death. Fighter instead has a friendly conversation with Chaos (and convinces him to transform into his One-Winged Angel form). Red Mage sadly laments that it was a great plan up until Fighter was involved.
- Actually Pretty Funny: Black Mage admits it at one point.[Black and Red Mage flash back to Black Mage being used as a hood ornament on an airship]
Red Mage: We thought it'd be funny.
[two beat panels]
Black Mage: Heh. That was funny, wasn't it?
- Adaptation Expansion: Boy howdy. Around the first ten minutes of the game are covered over about 135 strips.
- Adaptational Heroism: Garland is the main villain in the original game. Here, he's a Minion with an F in Evil... and ends up as the Fake Ultimate Hero.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- A Date with Rosie Palms: Possibly implied by Darko in this strip.Darko: What have you been doing with yourself all this time?
Black Mage: Well the... see, y'can't... I didn't...
Darko: You can skip the self-atrocities.
Black Mage: Whew! I took a nap. Er, um... sinisterly.
- Affably Evil: Garland, he's certainly more affable than evil since he is completely hopeless at doing anything actually evil.
- A God Am I: Sarda for most of his appearances, and later Black Mage and Red Mage.
- All Just a Dream: One of two fake endings involve Thief telling Fighter that it's time for bed and then someone waking up complaining about the quality of the dream.Thief: What if you're the imaginary one?
Fighter: If I was then that'd mean everyone I ever knew or cared about, everything that ever was, was a lie.
Random real life woman: [turning off alarm clock] That dream was like 80% filler.
Title card: The end!
- All There in the Manual: Red Mage's last name "Statscowski" has only been mentioned in forum posts by the author, never in the comic itself.
- Ally Tossing Charge: Judging by the looks of Black Mage and Fighter, Thief did this after spotting the golden chocobo in this strip.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: In-Universe, Black Mage thinks Lex Luthor, is the hero of the story because ridding the world of Superman will restore humanity's agency.note
- Always Lawful Evil: Each and every single elf is elitist, selfish, duplicitous, bellicose, and genocidally racist, but they live and die by (absurdly complex) laws and (fine print-riddled) contracts.
- Ambiguous Syntax: When the Light Warriors are impersonating the Bearded Warriors.Dwarf King: (seeing Black Mage blow up the obstacle course) Wow. No one's ever tried that before.Red Mage: That's because they weren't Bearded Warriors like us.Dwarf King: That's a point.
- Amusing Injuries:
- Black Mage stabbing his comrades, usually in the head. At least to Black Mage.
- Black Mage getting pummeled in return either by White Mage or Dragoon as comeuppance is also hilarious.
- Anal Probing: As part of Red Mage typically not thinking through what he says.Red Mage: So deep are we (within my A-hole) that Sarda will never find us no matter how thoroughly or how vigorously he probes. My A-hole.
- And the Adventure Continues: While Red Mage and Thief decide to go do other things, Fighter and Black Mage continue adventuring because they honestly have nothing else to do.
- Anger Makes You Dumb: Black Mage's intelligence is inversely proportional to one of two things: how close he is to White Mage, or how angry he is. When neither of those two factors are in play, he's the most intelligent of the group (except perhaps for Thief). Anger seems to obliterate all his ability to think rationally. This is really a problem because he has a Hair-Trigger Temper.
- A Running Gag, since the whole cast are alternately enraging or stupefying each other.
- After traveling through a poison swamp, poison tundra, and plains of poison, the Light Warriors finally return to the entrance of Sarda's cave. He immediately teleports them inside.Black Mage: Wait one damn second. Could you have done that at any time?
Sarda: No, not at any time. Don't be so stupid. Just any time I felt like it.
Black Mage: YEARGHBLEBLE!
- Brian Clevinger loves these jokes. For example, the fight with Astos:Black Mage: "Astos"? Mo' like, "Yo ass is toast!"
[Astos pauses, then falls over, dead]
Thief: I don't think he's breathing.
Black Mage: Well! That was easy!
- The defeat of Chaos is even worse. He gets killed offscreen (not even a good distance away, just barely offscreen) by one character who had been missing for a while and three characters who had NEVER SHOWN UP BEFORE THAT POINT. This was done to resolve a Brick Joke that had been set up nine years earlier.
- Brian Clevinger loves these jokes. For example, the fight with Astos:
- Anti-Villain: Garland just cannot do anything truly villainous to a ludicrous degree.
- Apocalypse Cult: The cultist, being a parody of H. P. Lovecraft's works, wants to provoke the apocalypse because it's cool.
- Apocalyptic Log: Parodied twice as Black Mage provides an overly dramatic and largely false commentary on the situation.Black Mage: We have always lived in the ocean. There is no before. There will be no after. There is no place for time here among the dark. Among the alien things that crawl and swim in a sea without light. We are one of them now. We have always been one of them.
Red Mage: Black Mage? You're narrating again.
- Arc Number: Four. Since the original Final Fantasy had 4 Light Warriors, Fiends, and orbs/crystals, the comic plays on this by adding 4 Dark Warriors, 4 "Other Warriors", 4 "true" Light Warriors—making a total of 4 warrior groups (although the pattern is broken during the big finish by introducing a fifth "all White Mages" team)—and 4 patron avatars. Also, the average strip is 4 rows.
- Army of Lawyers: Thief's Law-Ninjas are a group of lawyers who are also ninjas. They are conspicuous.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Black Mage will usually pause to admire anything even more evil than what he was planning.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "I traveled a thousand miles away from anything like civilization, moved into the innards of an unpredictable volcano, set up dozens of pitfalls, hell, I even put up a sign!"Fighter: ...After we brutally murdered her son, banished her husband to hell, and tore up her driveway.
- Artifact Title: Originally, the comic was to have consisted of a rotating series of sprite comics based on various NES-era games, hence the title 8-Bit Theater. As it turned out, the Final Fantasy comic was the only one that ended up actually getting made. He created one other he used as filler.
- Art Shift: Happens multiple times over the course of the series, often for one panel gags: Thief sneak attacking an orc, Black Mage laughing at Thief when he thinks he's escaped his contracts forever, Black Mage experiencing the Goblin Punch, Sarda Mind Raping the Dark Warriors, whenever Black Mage contemplates the hotness of White Mage, and finally, the entirety of the epilogue.
- Ascended Extra: Sarda had a very minor role in the original game (he gives you a key item). His role is expanded in the comic.
- Ascended Meme: When a particular bit of Insane Troll Logic took off like a rocket in the 8-Bit Theater forums, the author decided to honor it in-comic with the only character suited for the job.Red Mage: Trust me. Inverting all of reality into this null-zone is the best idea. I have two relevant degrees.
- Ass Shove: White Mage threatens to do this to Black Mage with her hammer, for what he does in this strip. note
- Atomic F-Bomb: Black Mage drops one here, the first uncensored F-bomb in the comic. It's so big that it has to be split between two comic panels.
- Authority in Name Only: King Steve is a king but all of his power is wielded by his daughter, Princess Sara, and his advisor.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Black Mage's Hadoken can destroy anything, but only when he properly aims it, which never happens . One example is here, where Black Mage misses a volcano.
- A Wizard Did It:
- Specifically, Sarda, the nearly omniscient, almost omnipotent Wizard Who Did It who is secretly responsible for setting the events of practically the entire strip into motion.
- Played straight in strip 108.Garland: Where'd you get all this high-tech equipment?!
Evil Princess Sara: A wizard did it. Anyway that's not important now.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
- The Dark Warriors (wrongly) assumed this when they found Light Warriors sharing the bed. They were so moved by what they saw that they couldn't bring themselves to kill the sleeping Light Warriors.
- In a bizarre example, there is Thief and Red Mage comforting Black Mage that he contributed to the world's imminent destruction.
- Back from the Dead: All four Light Warriors died separately over the course of the comic but they all came back for different reasons.
- Backstory: Red Mage spent two strips discussing how important it is for a character to have a backstory.
- Badass Armfold: Due to the way the sprites look, Thief after his class change and Sarda can look like they have this.
- Badass Boast:
- Fighter delivered one in this strip. In a subversion, instead of boasting about his own achievements, he praised Black Mage... who wasn't happy about this.
- Fighter does make his own boast later on:Fighter: Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds.
- Black Mage himself once wanted to deliver a Badass Boast that would double as a pick-up line... but what he came up with was this:Black Mage: I AM THE BLACK MAGE! I CASTS THE SPELLS THAT MAKES THE PEOPLES FALL DOWN!
- In a later strip he delivered a Boast that was played straight... until it was interrupted by Thief 'stealth-suing' him.Black Mage: But you're out of your league here. Forces you can't even pronounce, let alone understand, are at my beck and call. You continue to breathe only because your existence is amusing to me.
Black Mage: Hey! You can't sue me for being "a stupid, smelly jerk".
Thief: Can't I?
- Then there was the time BM got fed up with Red Mage's crimes against nature, and told him what was waiting for him in hell. The scary part? Black Mage isn't bluffing.
- In a later strip he delivered a Boast that was played straight... until it was interrupted by Thief 'stealth-suing' him.
- Garland's attempt at giving a Boast (or rather reading out loud one prepared for him by Evil Princess Sara) failed miserably when Forest Imps stole the scroll with the text of the Boast... thus forcing Garland to improvise.
- That quote is also a Shout-Out to the original game, as that line was lifted directly from Garland's actual dialogue.
- Far later, Sarda gives one:
- Chaos delivers one, too.Chaos: I am the yawning chasm from before the before; the darkness after the end of all things. I am nothing and no thing is eternal.
- The kicker? This is his response to Black Mage asking if he could give the Light Warriors a minute.
- Bait-and-Switch Boss: Chaos replaces Sarda after the latter absorbs too much energy and allows himself to become a conduit for the former.
- Ballistic Discount: Black mage tries the magical equivalent of this when he runs into a No Hero Discount at the ultimate magic shop. Unfortunately...Black mage: What I learned today is that really old wizards don't get that way by being easy to kill.
Red mage: So you didn't get any spells?
Black mage: In the sense that being stabbed gets you a blade, man, I got spells.
- Batman Gambit: Sarda has been secretly making the Light Warriors stronger so that he could show them how insignificant they are when their upgrades fail to save them from his wrath. This was all in retribution for having his younger self irreversibly and unbelievably traumatized by Black Mage multiple times. And also because the other Light Warriors did nothing to stop him from doing it.
- Battle Aura:
- Black Mage, after absorbing the evil of the fiends. Later, he lost it after destroying the Temple of Fiends. Then Sarda got it.
- Black Mage again after he absorbed the evil of HIMSELF. It Makes Sense in Context
- Battle Discretion Shot: Used many times, with the action (usually Fighter beating up a villain or Black Mage beating up a bystander) shown offpanel for comic effect, and taken to its ultimately absurd conclusion in the Final Battle with Chaos.
- Beat Panel: This is often used by Black Mage to process something stupid that Fighter or Red Mage has done or said.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Both Princess Sara and Left-Hand Man Gary are hyper-competent to moronic King Steve.
- Best Served Cold: Sarda has literally lived for billions of years to set in motion his Evil Plan to strengthen the Light Warriors so that he could kill them all at the height of their power, just to rub their insignificance in their collective faces. Best served cold indeed. Though as the Cosmic Plaything example indicates, he probably did not intend to have no choice but to wait that long.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- White Mage is the healer but is the most capable killer of the bunch including killing Chaos.
- Fighter is a well-meaning buffoon but he is capable of single-handedly defeating a fiend when the chips are down.
- Big Bad: Sarda ultimately is the last and most powerful foe to be face by the protagonists.
- Big Damn Heroes: Black Mage, Red Mage, and Dragoon each killed one of the four Fiends from out of nowhere.
- Big Damn Villains: Black Mage can generally be relied upon to throw immensely destructive magic at a life-threatening problem. ... with the side-effect that he's not very accurate and has very limited understanding of the word "subtlety". In short: the protagonists have probably reaped a higher death toll than the antagonists. Although this doesn't make moments like this any less awesome.
- Bittersweet Ending: The villains threatening the world are defeated, everybody is saved, the Dark Warriors are hailed as heroes throughout the land, and Thief becomes the new king of the Elves. However due to the events of the comic the Light Warriors aren't given any credit for all the crap they went through and the group disbands. Afterwards Red Mage and Dragoon set out to create a "sole-survivor of secret sects" club while Black Mage and Fighter just disappear, with nobody knowing what happened to them (they're actually right back where they were when the comic started). White Mage is trying to find a way to give them the credit they earned but it's left ambiguous if she'll succeed. Still, they were also prevented from achieving their largely-unsavory post-quest plans, and their various de-powerings have mellowed them out a little, to the point that all of them seem fairly happy about where they've ended up.
- Black and Gray Morality: The protagonists are three sadistic bloodthirsty killers (plus a Token Good Teammate who's just too stupid to notice his comrades are Ax-Crazy)... but the Big Bad manages to be worse! The only "hero"(ine) per se mostly falls under Good Is Impotent, but wins in the end because of a nine year-old Brick Joke.
- Black Comedy Rape: Poor Red Mage. Followed by poor monster exposed to Red Mage's "Animal Husbandry".
- Black Mage Killed The Dinosaurs: This happens when Black Mage completely misses a volcano with his hadoken. The spell flies to another planet "where giant lizards rule".Fighter: Where's that thing going?
- Blackmail: One of the 999 ways that Thief manages to rip people off.
- Blah Blah Blah: Used a few times but especially once by Black Mage as he skims through one of Thief's absurd contracts.
- Blocking Stops All Damage: Fighter decides he can block damage caused by falling in the same way he would block an attack... and proves it by surviving a fall at terminal velocity thanks to Achievements in Ignorance.Fighter: The way I figured it, the fall doesn't kill you. The ground does. So I blocked it.
Thief: You blocked the Earth.
Fighter: Why not? I can block magic and fire and all kinds of stuff.
Thief: I hate it when the things he says that don't make sense make sense.
- Bloody Hilarious:
- One example is when White Mage attempts to revive a petrified, decapitated Black Belt. The results are Black Belt bring revived but spewing High-Pressure Blood from where his head would be.
- Another example comes from Red Mage complaining anout the wanton murder of an NPC who is also spewing blood from his headless neck. Twice.
- Body Horror: BM's face is of non-Euclidean geometry.
- Bond One-Liner: Black Mage in this comic.Thief: I don't think he heard you, BM.
Black Mage: He got the message though.
- Book-Ends: Fighter and Black Mage are alone together, lost. Fighter ends the entire series on a Brick Joke:Fighter: Y'know what we should do?
Black Mage: Oh, this'll be good. What? What should we do?
Fighter: We never did find that Armor of Invincibility...
- Boring, but Practical: Feather Fall spells. Red Mage and Black Mage learn this the hard way when neither of them set aside the magical resources to actually use the spell.
- Bread and Circuses: Thief stages a match between Fighter, Fighter, Fighter, and Fighter as a distraction so he can concoct a new scheme.Thief: That's the whole point of gladatorial events.
- Break the Cutie:
- White Mage begins the comic as an idealist but eventually she becomes cynical enough to kill Chaos and give the Dark Warriors the credit.
- Onion Kid is a chipper young kid until multiple sets of his parents are murdered and he suffers so many other atrocities that eventually gets blasted back to the birth of time and space and grows up to become Sarda.
- Brick Joke:
- Thief explaining his class change.It later comes full circle.Thief: Hm? Oh, I stole it. From the future.
- A much more obscure example: In a very early episode, Brian mentions that Alabama is hell. 350 strips later...
- Quite possibly one of the longest ever is set up as a throwaway gag in the first few panels of the 10th strip only to come back almost 9 years and 1,200 strips later.
- An even longer setup: Remember that Nintendo Power magazine Black Mage was reading during strip 7? Neither did anyone else (beware, there be spoilers ahead).
- Remember when Black Mage slaughtered a senile old wizard at a retirement home? 731 strips later it, apparently, turns out he's not the only one who uses Square Summoning Circles
- Remember King Steve's ridiculous plans to drill for mana that always ended in ruin? Check out the article in the bottom right of the newspaper article in this comic.
- Here's the longest setup in the entire comic: Armor of Invincibility. Mentioned in the very first strip, only to come back in the comic's very last panel.
- Another one from the epilogue: In the first panel, we see that messenger that King Steve ordered to be killed, still being pursued by the guard.
- Not to mention the small joke here about harsh language. And how did they defeat Astos...?
- Fighter theorizes the existence of the dagger shark. And later, its natural mimic.
- This is a flash-forward to this.
- Thief explaining his class change.It later comes full circle.
- Brought Down to Normal:
- Sarda eventually decides to take away the Light Warriors' class changes, and revert them all the way back to level 1 as well. Except for Thief, whose past self stole his class change from his future self somehow.
- Also Black Mage when he commands the Leigons of Hell.
- Brown Note: Listening to any of the Light Warriors speak for any length of time can be hazardous to your health. Fighter regularly makes listeners too stupid to think (including the omnipotent Sarda), but Red Mage is almost as bad, talking with Thief for any amount of time will likely end with you having no money, and Black Mage once came out with an insult so awesome (or perhaps so lame) it killed a man.
- Butt-Monkey: Almost everyone. More specifically:
- Black Mage, though he really deserves it.Black Mage: Does the universe exist only to rob me of any joy? It'd be nice to have confirmation on that.
- This assessment is basically true, as its implied that his continuous suffering is essentially the universe's immune system reacting to the abomination that is his every thought, action, and very existence.
- Fighter is frequently insulted and assaulted by Black Mage (but he can take it).
- Red Mage had his skeleton removed from his body and was later turned into a one-eyed monster (he got better).
- Thief was mauled by Berserker, had all his accumulated treasure smashed, was torched by Bahamut, and was shaken to oblivion by Muffin. And he stole his class change from himself in the future, just before Sarda got to the final part of his revenge.
- White Mage can only watch in sorrow as the Light Warriors slaughter innocents, each other, and generally ignore their "responsibility" as heroes, and that's on top of her best friend dying.
- Onion Kid's main purpose is to go through various torments that usually relate to Black Mage. And become Sarda. Then get possessed by Chaos.
- Garland went through this briefly before he founded the Dark Warriors.
- The "real" Light Warriors. Every bad thing imaginable happens to them. Even when they catch a break, it usually ends up backfiring. Barry, the only member of the group whose name we know, gets the worst of it.
- The town of Onrac is constantly getting destroyed by the Light Warriors and rebuilt only to get destroyed yet again.
- Black Mage, though he really deserves it.
- The Caligula:
- King Steve, the psychotic, bloodthirsty, retarded ruler of Corneria.
- He was drilling for mana. You can't drill for mana. YOU CAN'T DRILL FOR MANA!
- Turns out, you can.Newspaper headline text: I hate this ridiculous fantasy setting.
- Turns out, you can.
- Not to mention that his right hand man is a coffee stain named Rodney.
- The Dwarf King is also rather monstrous. In order to shorten the amount of paperwork the bodies of the giant monsters that Black Mage slays will bring, he has the coastal reserve murdered in front of their families and blames the event on the elves.
- Cain and Abel:
- Black Mage murdered his own brother via an uneven room laced with knives and tiger pits.Red Mage: Wait. You murdered your own blind brother?
Black Mage: It would have been cruel to let him live after what I did to his eyes.
- It's suggested that this wasn't the only instance. When asked if he has a sister, Black Mage says he wouldn't use present tense to describe any of his family members, while the panel shows just Black Mage talking against a bloodsplattered background.
- Black Mage murdered his own brother via an uneven room laced with knives and tiger pits.
- A late comic in the series is appropriately titled "Longest Set UP in Webcomic History"Brian Clevinger: All I can tell you is that, yes, the whole point of this comic was to do this comic much later. I didn't intend for it to be nine years later, but around year five or so it occurred to me it had already gone from being a long range call back to probably the longest ranged call back attempted by a webcomic.
- This was called back in this in another very long Call-Back, but not quite as long as the one above.
- A late comic in the series is appropriately titled "Longest Set UP in Webcomic History"
- Came Back Wrong: White Mage's attempt to revive Black Belt ended horribly.
- Can't Catch Up: You know how the Fiends eventually come back more powerful than ever. Remember how it was really difficult to kill the Fiends the first time around? Remember how the other Light Warriors are constantly mocking Black Mage's cowardice, ineffectiveness and large amount of bodily harm? Maybe they shouldn't have done that.
- Captain Ersatz: Minor character The Sulk, cameo characters Arachna-Dude, Alloyed-Guy and The Mediocre Four.
- Carcass Sleeping Bag: Black Mage suggests doing this to Fighter (and then Red Mage and Thief) in order to make sure the remaining Light Warriors (i.e. himself) don't freeze. Later, Garland and the Dark Warriors actually do this to a Yeti.
- Casual Danger Dialog: While this is normally the Light Warriors' schtick (comic-wide spoilers!), hugely subverted with the eventual revelation that while they were ignoring Chaos and arguing amongst each other about cake, White Mage and three other healers destroyed Chaos, off-panel.
- Character Development: Deliberately averted with the Light Warriors, who never really learn a lesson and never improve upon their flaws.
- Characterization Marches On: Drizz'l was initially portrayed as stupider than Garland, but has since become a Straight Man for the sake of the Dark Warriors having at least one.
- Chekhov's Armoury: And HOW! Have a look around this page for examples.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Longest Set Up In Webcomic History. In comic 7, there's a throwaway joke when Black Mage is reading a strategy guide. "Four White Mages? It'll never work!" In the end, Chaos is killed by White Mage, Shaman, Priest, and Healer.
- Not quite as big a setup as the prior one, but the dialogue in this comic returns to haunt us.
- Chekhov's Skill: Zig-zagged. The Light Warriors each pick up a skill when they class change. Thief uses his throw ability several times, and while Fighter only uses his block ability once, it's an important factor in his confrontation with Black Mage. Red Mage never effectively uses his Mimic ability, and Black Mage never picks up any useful spells.
- Cherry Tapping: The first attack to hit Sarda? Bikke throwing the Water Orb at him. It didn't do much, but it was the only time anyone (besides himself) was able to do anything to him.
- Comedy as a Weapon: Black Mage kills Astos using bad puns.
- Compensating for Something: After hearing Dr Malpractice making Accidental Innuendo Black Mage, Red Mage and Fighter briefly wondered whether this trope applies to them.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Among other examples—"Man, she must like me a LOT!"
- Not surprisingly at all, the point is something that Fighter comically misses on a frequest basis. From Episode 329, right after Thief says he is leaving the group and Black Mage appoints himself the new leader:Red Mage: You know, Fighter and I have superior numbers. We could overthrow your demented regime easily.
Black Mage: We can do this one of two ways. The easy way... or the excruciatingly painful death for Red Mage way. I suggest the former, m'self. You're welcome to try the latter of course, but I assure you it's a wasted effort. You are up against a knife-wielding sociopath just looking for an excuse to hurt you even if he has to make one up.
Fighter: Surely this maniac will slaughter us all!
Black Mage: If given half a chance...
Fighter: He doesn't know we're here, does he?!
- Connect the Deaths: When Light Warriors rampaged through Dwarves' kingdom, Thief took the opportunity to spell out a message to Dwarves (the intended recipients didn't realize that, though).
- Continuity Nod: All over the place in the "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue. Elite Guard Hank is still chasing the messenger. The Dark Warriors' Restaurant contains the heads of the werewolves encountered by the Light Warriors early on in the comics run, as well as one of Garland's motivational posters, Dr. Malpractice, the fake prince, Princess Sara, Left Hand Man Gary and the Sulk. The menus in the restaurant have options like Twelve Dragon Nachos, Goblin Punch, Rat Tail Soup, Orbs of Water and foods named after the Four Fiends. Some law ninja are visible outside of Thief's palace. Akbar is still in business in whatever town we see Fighter and Black Mage in. He also appears to be selling Cloud's Buster Sword -and- Squall's gunblade. Also in the town are the legitimate businessman and his lackey, and a cultist. Fighter is equipped with his regular swords and some swordchucks named Stabby and Slashy. Finally, the entire series ends with a reference to the Armor of Invincibility.
- Conversational Troping:
- About the Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny—Black Mage and Red Mage discussed who would win in a fight between Batman and Dr. Doom, as well as in a fight between Green Arrow and Bullseye. Several hypothetical matches were also discussed in the column "Twinkin' Out with Red Mage".
- Black Mage and Thief once passed time by conversing about other interpretations of Lex Luthor, with Black Mage suggesting that he is actually the hero of the DC universe.
- Cool, but Stupid: Every character except Fighter is aware of how stupid an idea sword-chucks are. They work perfectly anyway, thanks to White Mage making it slightly less dangerous.
- Cool Sword: In Fighter's opinion, every sword is cool.Fighter: I like swords.
- The Corruption: It's strongly implied that Black Mage himself is this and that his presence is the reason that the other Light Warriors (excluding Fighter) behave like they do.
- Cosmic Plaything: Black Mage, White Mage, and just about everyone else in the comic, at the hands of the nigh-omnipotent Sarda. In turn, Sarda is himself a victim of it thanks to the Light Warriors, in a wonderful example of Time Travel inspired recursive causality.
- Cosmic Retcon: Sarda does this a few times to Black Mage, using his magic to alter Black Mage's protests into acceptance.
- In addition to that Sarda once did a Rewrite on a much bigger scale, supposedly by accident.
- When Black Mage tries to do the same thing, the end result is causing Sarda to add "you moron" onto what he was originally saying.
- Considering that Sarda personalizes his spells, the spell Black Mage cast was likely "Rewrite Reality According to Sarda's Wishes".FFFFFFFFFFFF—
- Considering that Sarda personalizes his spells, the spell Black Mage cast was likely "Rewrite Reality According to Sarda's Wishes".
- Crazy Enough to Work:
- Every single plan Red Mage has ever come up with. Occasionally they do. They culminate in this, which doesn't quite work out.
- Fighter's tend to work the same way. Emphasis on the work part.
- Create Your Own Villain: Subverted. The Light Warriors' constant direct and indirect torture of Onion Kid ends up causing him to become Sarda, but Sarda was the one who deliberately allowed them the opportunity to do so to begin with (in order to get payback for everything they did to him) so Sarda really has no one to blame but himself for all the bad things that happened to him.
- Crippling Overspecialization: Most of Sarda's spells are designed to only work with a specific target in mind. Subverted, because this was used in order to prevent Blue Mages from using his spells against him. Played straight by Black Mage, who by way of Power Copying has learned "Spell that hurts Black Mage" and the "rewrite reality according to my (Sarda's) whim" spell.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass:
- Fighter is dumber than a bag of rocks, but he's also a practically unstoppable swordsman.
- And Bikke, useless though he may be at piracy and villainy, is the first person in the comic to actually hit Sarda with an attack. A useless attack, granted, but it impressed Sarda enough to spare him... for now.
- Crunchtastic: Black Mage once concluded that his hatred of Fighter is so great that there is no word strong enough to express it. So—with Red Mage's help—he made up a new one: omniloathe. Obviously Fighter missed the point and was overjoyed that he and Black Mage had "got best buddy codewords now".
- Crush. Kill. Destroy!: Berserker isn't capable of anything but saying verbs when he rages.Berserker: Crap! Piss! Kill!
Red Mage: Tell me that's not a declaration of intent.
- Curb-Stomp Battle:
- Cuteness Proximity: Black Mage, of all people, falls victim to it in this strip. As usual, it doesn't end well for him.
- Cutting the Knot:
- "My brain said this was faster."
- Black Mage also makes a reference to the Trope Namer when confronted with a door unlocked by a puzzle written in a language of 379 consonants and four vowels that makes reference to a value existing before time itself:Black Mage: Okay. I seem to remember some old dead king guy who, when faced with a problem of unsolvable perplexity, would blaze a path to victory via stabbity means. [draws knife] Therefore!
Black Belt: Hey, I heard you knocking. Come on in. It's toasty.
Black Mage: I am comfortable with taking full credit for the feat of entrance because then I get to ignore how or why he is here.
- Cycle of Revenge The Light Warriors go after Sarda for torturing them, who's after the Light Warriors because Black Mage ruined his childhood, and Black Mage likely commits his acts of evil because the universe hates him, which is frequently due to Sarda's influence, who tortures Black Mage because of the aforementioned ruined childhood, and so on. A very literal cycle, considering Sarda is "stuck" in a Stable Time Loop.
- Damsel in Distress: Averted. Princess Sara has been distressed so many times, she's picked up a few things and helps her captor.
- Dark Is Not Evil: The Dark Warriors are much less of a threat to the world than their counterparts. (As much as Garland tries, he's really too much of a softie for true villainy.)
- Deadpan Snarker: When Black Mage isn't in a state of temporary insanity note , he is incredibly snarky and sarcastic, particularly about the frequent flaws in logic and common sense that all the other "Light Warriors" seem oblivious to note . And the more he gets annoyed and frustrated, the more bloodthirsty and less clever he gets. So you know when Fighter makes a cleverer quip than Black Mage that there is going to be a lot of destroyed real estate in his vicinity.
- Death Seeker: Following Black Mage's takeover of hell, and hell subsequently kicking him out, he's very happy whenever he's about to die because he knows he'll be able to take over hell again.
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Meanwhile, in the royal room of royalty..."
- Destructive Saviour: That is, when they're saving. Which gets less frequent as time goes on.
- Detectives Follow Footprints: Fighter shows off his tracking skills by describing the footprints he's following. They're his and Black Mage's own trail.
- Die Laughing: Black Mage puts himself into a coma laughing when Fighter asks him if he (Fighter) is dumb.
- Dissimile: In this strip:
- Disqualification-Induced Victory: Played for laughs when Fighter comes last in a drownball tournament (due to not drowning) but is still given first prize (due to being the only surviving participant).
- The Ditz: King Steve. Bikke, too. Fighter is a subversion in that he's actually the most effective and competent of the Light Warriors.King Steve: Now, how about those sno-cones.
- Don't Explain the Joke: Red Mage does this a lot when no one laughs at his jokes. Of course, this just makes things worse...
- Doomy Dooms of Doom: Doom comes in Light Doom, Greater Doom, and All The Dooms Of The Rainbow.
- Dual Wielding:
- Fighter and Drizz'l. Then taken to ludicrous extremes when Fighter begins quadruple-wielding through sword-chucks. Scary part is, it works.
- And Ranger can quad-wield bows, to fire twelve arrows at the same time! ...Not that it helps against a Physical God.
- Dude, Not Funny!: Fighter calls this In-Universe on Black Mage shortly after Black Belt's death.Fighter: I mean, really. Ignoring the gross display of insensitivity these remarks represent and looking at them from a strictly structuralist perspective, they just aren't funny.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Invoked by Thief in this strip.Red Mage: This is why I keep insisting that Thief shouldn't conduct these interviews.
- Dumbass Has a Point:
- Every so often, Fighter will say something genuinely insightful.
- Dumb Is Good: Fighter. Or perhaps it's "Dumb isn't absurdly selfish, utterly disconnected from reality, or an Omnicidal Maniac." Dumb is... relatively good.
- Dungeon Bypass: Black Mage once completed the obstacle course consisting of four hundred bearded trials of strength with a single Hadoken.Black Mage: Obstacle course? Mo' like Ka-Boom course.
- Dying Declaration of Hate: Thief delivered one to Black Mage when BM turned on his teammates late in the series.
- Dysfunction Junction: Let's face it, the Light Warriors are their own worst enemies. That says something when their rogues' gallery includes demons, eldritch horrors, deities, and reality warpers. From the man himself: "I'm not sure why the Light Warriors worry about obstacles or monsters standing in their way. They are nothing compared to the obstacles and monsters within the party."
- Early-Bird Cameo: Episode 300 shows the party after they've changed class, something they wouldn't do for more than 300 more comics. The picture of the Light Warriors at the top of this page is the panel from said comic that the cameo occurs in.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first sixty or so pages have characters regularly using game terms like "HP" in their speech and talking about stats on their character sheets. These quickly became something exclusive to Red Mage (and Vilbert to a lesser extent), dismissed by other characters as his mad ravings.
- Eldritch Ocean Abyss: Subverted. Despite Black Mage's impressive narration about the horrors of the deeps, they don't actually encounter anything particularly mind-breaking.Black Mage: We have always lived in the ocean. There is no before. There will be no after. There is no place for time here among the dark, among the alien things that crawl and swim in a sea without light. We are one of them now. We have always been one of them.Red Mage: Black Mage? You're narrating again.Black Mage: My companions succumbed to sea madness weeks ago.Black Mage: I alone maintain a gimmer of humanity. I fear it is fading fast.Red Mage: What kind of dark wizard in league with nameless forces of primordial evil are you that you can't even make a successful sanity check versus boredom?Black Mage: I ignored the pitiable babbling that issued from their misshapen lips. Their wet gurgles, a noise that had once been words, came to and end when one of the things outside assaulted our craft. I welcome death.
- Elves vs. Dwarves: Exaggerated; Thief, like all elves, despises dwarves to the point of wanting to see every last one of them killed. This makes his rampaging march through their kingdom much more enjoyable for him. The dwarves, for their part, would love nothing more than to see the elves all killed off.
- The End of the World as We Know It: One of the comic's fake endings. It's also the ultimate goal of Black Mage and, apparently, of Chaos as well.
- Enslaved Tongue: Sarda uses a rewriting reality spell against Black Mage, making him agree with what Sarda just said. Black Mage, who can copy spells used on him since he is also a blue mage, tries it on Sarda. Turns out, its effect is actually "rewrite reality as Sarda wishes".
- Epic Fail: Red Mage thinks that Black Mage critically failed hitting a large target because there is a 1-in-20 chance of critically screwing anything up.Thief: Not that I'm complaining about it, but... HOW DO YOU MISS A VOLCANO?!
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Parodied, since the Light Warriors' original classes are their real names, and remain so even after they change classes.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: In-universe example—In the Castle of Ordeals, each character fought a personification of his greatest flaws, symbolically overcoming them (or at least, that's what they were supposed to do...). The final ordeal was to symbolize the team uniting to become more than the sum of their parts and transcend individuality and whatnot. When the final ordeal turns out to be "defeating a zombie dragon", Red Mage complains that the boss doesn't fit the theme.Red Mage:I fail to see the significance of a zombified dragon vis-a-vis our externalized struggles with our own internal demons.
Fighter: Maybe the bone dragon represents our skeletons. Those are inside of us. Like skeletons.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
- The Villain Protagonists, Thief and Black Mage in particular, are not only confused by Good, they are confused by any plan which does not include murder or theft. And apparently, they cannot comprehend why the Other Warriors don't hate each other, either.
- When Black Mage is told by Sarda that "there cannot be power without sacrifice", he takes it to mean he must make a Human Sacrifice... and does so with his "allies" (it didn't stick). Then Sarda tells him that Black Mage must be close to that which is sacrificed... so Black Mage slaughters them again (still didn't stick), and Sarda says that the sacrifice must mean something to Black Mage (who again misinterprets it as the sacrifice being the means to an end). Once Sarda stops time to spend seven hundred years trying to explain it to Black Mage, he finally says that Black Mage must care about what is being sacrificed... which completely stumps Black Mage.
- Evil vs. Evil:
- The author once claimed that "no matter who wins, the villains win." Though in the end it was one of the few more or less "good" characters, White Mage, who won.
- In a world where the "heroes" are worse than the villains (except Sarda and Chaos) and single-handedly responsible for most of the world's suffering; the people in charge of things are insane, megalomaniacal, or both; and any attempts to bring any sort of peace or happiness seem to fail by default, the only thing preventing it from getting too dark is seeing just how over the top the Black Comedy gets.
- Eye Beams:
- Exact Words:
- Sarda's spells run on this principle. The spell he casts to hurt Black Mage is a spell that hurts Black Mage, regardless of who is casting it, as Black Mage learned the hard way when he learned it via Blue Magic.
- Sarda in general runs on this. When he "fixes" Black Mage bleeding all over the floor he simply teleports him to anywhere in the universe; a wide and infinite range of possibilities that also includes right outside Sarda's cave.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Used for humor, especially with character names. The four protagonists most obviously, but also Doctor Malpractice, Chancellor Usurper, and many others...
- Expy: Chaos is a transdimensional, extratemporal demon of the void that emerges from Sarda's head and threatens to undo the universe, just like the Shadow from Beyond Time in Clevinger's own Atomic Robo.
- FaceHeel Turn: Black Mage has attempted to team up with antagonists five times throughout the story, though as he points out, "that'd imply there existed a time I wasn't on team Evil."
- Facepalm: One of Drizz'l's standard ways of expressing displeasure
- "Facing the Bullets" One-Liner:
- Thief: "My only regret is that I didn't hate you more."
- Also, Onion Kid, being faced by a barrage of arrows. "Guess I ran out of parents."
- Fan Fiction:
- Fantastic Fighting Style: A few sword based ones courtesy of Fighter. The Twelve Schools of Vargus-do Zodiac-Style Swordplay, which includes the Two Fisted Monkey Style and Ram Style described by Black Mage as breaking your opponents equipment with your head before your opponent breaks your head with his equipment. Another one is The Glorious Chainsaw Method created by Red Mage for Fighter described as Make your swords become like things unto chainsaws. And then theres Fighters use of Swordchucks.
- Fantastic Racism: See Elves vs. Dwarves above. The elves also have a lowered perception towards humans and basically anything that isn't an elf.
- Fake Ultimate Hero: Zig-Zagged with. Black Mage, Thief, and Red Mage were pretending to take the credit for destroying Chaos, so in order to prevent that White Mage set up the Dark Warriors as "The very real Light Warriors"
- Fastball Special:
- The Fighterdoken attack.
- As well as Fighter's Medoken. However that works.
- Fate Worse than Death: Sarda's pretty much decided that killing the Light Warriors over and over again isn't as fun after dozens of times. So he's pretty much decided to just let them do whatever they want and only make life miserable for them when he's bored. This is subverted, however, because the Light Warriors actually prefer it to certain death.
- Also, Chaos' plan for the world is to lock everyone in the plane of eternal torment between the worlds. Which, due to Sarda and White Mage's time traveling, would create a paradox where the universe will never have came into being. Chaos apparently wants both to happen, somehow.
- Also, Berserker's fate and presumably Cleric and Rogue's unknown fates.Cleric: What does that mean?
Sarda: It means there's not much point in talking about him.
- Faux Affably Evil
- Black Mage, on those occasions he's not consumed with omnicidal rage. He's been known to discuss super hero deathmatches with Red Mage (in which it can be noted that Black Mage always picks the villain to win while Red Mage always chooses the hero of the matchup).
- Feigning Intelligence:
- Red Mage has degrees in "escapology" and "escaponomy". Both are in his handwriting. Doesn't mean they're not degrees though!
- In an earlier strip Red Mage and Black Belt pretended to know anything about repairing airships.
- Final Boss: Chaos (after a lot of bickering over whether it should be Sarda, Black Mage, or the Light Wrriors as a group.)
- Black Mage used to be at least selective about what he stabbed and/or nuked. Gradually he got to the point at which he just kills everything at all times. Also, Fighter got considerably dumber over the years, where he was once just kind and easy to trick in the early comics. However, given the number of times he's been stabbed in the head, this might technically count as Character Development.
- Also, Red Mage's cross dressing and "animal husbandry" have become the butt of jokes centered around him.
- Flat "What": Black Mage and Sarda use this more often than the rest of the cast. And once more by Lich, after Black Mage's Not Now, Kiddo moment.
- Foil: The Light Warriors are self-proclaimed heroes who do horribly amoral things, while the Dark Warriors are self-proclaimed villains who end up doing nice things for others.
- Forgot to Feed the Monster: Bikke's pirate crew and Thief's Lawninja all suffer from the neglect of their masters.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Red Mage's Ice-9 spell takes away all the heat in the universe. It's cast inside a Bag of Holding that he's just stuffed Kary into (along with all the riches that Thief stole), theoretically putting her on ice until the Light Warriors have sufficently leveled up. However...Red Mage: We've locked Kary in an inescapable prison where she will remain until such time as we are powerful enough to defeat her. Quite simple.
an enraged White Mage crushes the bag and its contents to bits
Red Mage: ...or there's that.
Thief: [having just seen "more riches than actually exist" destroyed] can't...gasp!...breathe...
- Episode 434. Five years later...
- Remember the original task the Light Warriors were given? Well, 1119 chapters later...
- Another, slightly more subtle, example...Red Mage sure is smart.
- Easily missed, but Fighter has no idea how right he is. Probably.
- Four Is Death: The Four Fiends, though this could be applied to the Light Warriors themselves.
- From a Certain Point of View:
- Any claim that Brian Clevinger isn't a Lying Creator hinges on these. Just see the justifications below.
- In comic, a fairly common joke is for characters to have to grant a point for being technically true, such as Fighter having never seen an invisible castle due to them being very rare, or Black Mage not needing his heart to pump blood if he's dead.
- Funny Background Event: Used a few times. There is, for example, Black Mage trying to ask White Mage out in the second half of this strip or Red Mage's battle with dragon in this one.
- Also, the screen in the background of this one.
- Genius Ditz: Arguably Red Mage, who, despite being obsessive about stats and whatnot, occasionally makes good (enough) plans. Fighter might be too, since he has a Bachelor's degree in dead, completely overcomplicated languages (not verbatim).
- Glass Cannon: Black Mage is one of these, and in one comic refers to himself with that exact phrase, before getting a little weird with the metaphor.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: A rare real-life example—if the Con Recap news posts are to be believed (from all three parties), then Clevinger, Tim Buckley and Michael "Mookie" Terracciano have all the trappings of one.
- Go Mad from the Revelation:
- Surprisingly invoked on Chaos of all people, when White Mage points out that a universe completely ruled by entropy would be as dull and boring as a world completely ruled by order.
- When the Light Warriors discover that Matoya and Bahamut are going out. Let's just say that Black Mage tries to choke on his own vomit and leave it at that.Black Mage: Oh, god. Now I'm ejecting things I haven't eaten yet.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied—when Black Mage faces a moral dilemma (whether he should let Fighter die or let Fighter die and destroy all of reality in the meantime) two miniature versions of himself that appear represent his evil side... and his atrociously evil side. (The distinction blurs a little more every day, though.)
- Gory Discretion Shot: When any huge explosions or impacts occur, the panel in which they would happen is replaced with stock photos of nuclear blasts (or in one case, of an asteroid impact). Also, when BM solves problems through stabbity means, all we see is blood splattered on the fourth wall. Both are hilarious when you actually see them.
- Greater-Scope Villain: Chaos is an evil Eldritch Abomination and embodiment of decay that is the whole reason behind the Light Warriors' quest. Although he does desire to end (and eternally torment, however that works) existence for no real reason, he does not come into play until the real Big Bad, Sarda, accidentally brings him about. Who was himself indirectly created by Black Mage.
- Guilt by Association Gag: The arch-villain Sarda explains that while It's Personal in the case of Black Mage, he's going to destroy all of them because they are atrocious beings that need to be annihilated for the safety of everything. Black Mage then raises a point that leads directly to this trope:
- Hand Blast: Black Mage's blasts are usually cast from a hadoken-like double palm strike.
- Hand Puppet: Fighter has one of Black Mage.
- Harmless Villain: The Dark Warriors survive to the end largely by being ineffective at everything.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Sarda. For all his talk about how horrible the Light Warriors are, he's just as bad (well, as bad as Red Mage and Thief). He kills off the Other Warriors, not to mention Ranger's wife over what he knows is a simple misunderstanding.
- Healing Shiv: The Trope Namer; Cleric used one to bring Thief back from the brink of death.
- Heart Is an Awesome Power: The demons of urine and bad haircuts give Black Mage nightmares.
- HeelFace Turn:
- Drizz'l briefly joins the Light Warriors, although this is due more to frustration with the Dark Warriors' incompetence and being voted off than a change in morality. Then again, the Light Warriors are not exactly pillars of morality. In fact, when Black Mage was on their team, the Light Warriors were more evil than the Dark Warriors.
- Princess Sara is arguably an example of this, at one point taking over her own kidnapping and trying to help Garland dispose of the Light Warriors, who have come to rescue her. However, after Garland is defeated, she returns to her previous life and does not continue to pursue the evil path to any noticeable degree.
- Black Mage, despite being a "hero", almost pulls these a few times, but something always distracts him back to his own ways before long.
- Heel Realization:
- Hell Seeker: Black Mage wants to get to Hell to rule it. He succeeds... for a very brief time. Once he gets returned to mortality he tries to dig his way back.
- Heroes Want Redheads: White Mage—although Black Mage isn't much of a hero. Also, White Mage seems to have a thing for Fighter, who is also red haired.
- Heroic BSoD: Black Mage after watching Fighter use his new "Wood-in-steak".Red Mage: Years of exposure to Fighter's, shall we say, point of view, has rendered Black Mage a sputtering vegetable.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The Webcomic. Although the phrase 'hero' used to describe any of the "Light Warriors" is... inaccurate.
- Highly Visible Ninja:
- Thief's law ninja, who wear bright red.
- But not Thief himself, who has never worn red or imagined himself as a ninja wearing red.
- High-Pressure Blood: Violent spurts of red liquid are the usual bleeding.
- High-Voltage Death: Black Mage electrocutes a group of old men to death in an old folks home with a Bolt 2 spell just for the sake of killing them. Well he also wanted to find an old man that took their gold, but he makes it pretty clear prior to that that he's mostly going there to cause mayhem, and only asks someone about the gold after he kills them.Black Mage: Eat electric death old man!!!
- Hired Sword and Occult Magic: Black Mage's comment in this strip implies that this is what he and Fighter were before the events of the comic.
- Holding Out for a Hero: Discussed. Truth is the Light Warriors just killed all the city guards so there is no one to fight backand people are unaware about the threats of the world except there is four idiots who steal and murder them.
- Horrible Judge of Character: Fighter.Fighter: We're heroes.
- Hugh Mann: Here;Black Mage: Oh, Lord. Why does the robot have a mustache?
Warmech: I grew it with my human lip.
Red Mage: Is... is that a fact?
Warmech: Oh yes. I love to grow hair all over my body in between acts of defecation.
Thief: Well he sounds human.
- Hyperspace Mallet: The Weapon of Choice of White Mage, used when Black Mage (or Kary) sufficently pisses her off.
- Hypocritical Humor: After Thief outlines one of his tyrannical moneymaking schemes...Black Mage: That's... hold on.
[Red Mage, who sat on Black Mage and got immolated by his unwitting chair, has finally burned out, so BM sets him on fire again]
Black Mage: That's really sick, Thief.
- Hypothetical Fight Debate: Black Mage and Red Mage argue on who would win between Batman and Doom, and between Bullseye and Green Arrow.
- I Don't Like You and You Don't Like Me: Thief attempts this on Bikke in order to try and persuade him to talk, but it merely confuses Bikke and Thief concedes he doesn't really know much about conversations that don't end in backstabbing.Bikke: Ye don't like me? But we don't even know each other. I bets we have a lot in common. Treachery and such. Yar.
- Ignored Epiphany: Black Mage has had a few, this being the most notable. Later, he becomes cunning enough to fake having an Epiphany.
- Illogical Safe: Played with, only with an armoire instead of a safe falling on Fighter. Fighter emerges from the middle of it and Red Mage launches a convoluted explanation that states that Fighter survived because his knowledge of Cartoon Physics warped reality itself. Then Fighter reveals that the bottom just was cheap particle board.
- Immortal Immaturity: Seems to be the rule for folks like the elves. Sarda's got a very bad case.
- Impossible Thief: Thief can steal anything that's not on fire and nailed down at the same time. Emphasis "and" and "anything."Thief: I've stolen things that weren't even there. This soul exists, so that helps.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: The sword-chucks are impossible, even in this world... Until they aren't.
- Improbable Weapon User: Fighter has his Sword-Chucks, and no less than four swords on his person at any given time. And then there's this line:Fighter: You try balancing a cow on the end of a fence post to wield it like a club. That's a physical damn challenge!
- Incredibly Lame Pun:
- Fighter searches for the Armor of Invincibility and ends up with the Armoire of Invincibility by mistake.
- Fighter likes to play Breakout.
- Actually, it was supposed to be Arkanoid.
- "He must be in Ur base. Killing all Ur dudes." The authorstates that the character was named Ur just for the sake of that joke.
- "I couldn't bear my role in it."
- Because he's a vampire, the only way to kill Vilbert is with a wooden stake through the heart. Fighter proceeds to rip one of the posts off of a wooden fence, impale a cow on it, and then burn it to a crisp. Why? Because he now has wood in steak. It's worth noting that the pun is so lame it actually causes Black Mage to go temporarily insane. Er.
- After deciding to break the three Light Warriors who aren't Black Mage out of their icy prison, Drizz'l comes up with an idea that he knows he'll hate himself for after it works. He tells this joke: "How do you get 200 Canadians out of the pool? [Beat] Say 'Please get out of the pool.'" The ice shatters and Thief asks what he just did. "I... broke the ice..."
- At one point a minor antagonist is killed while the Light Warriors are mocking him and Black Mage makes a pun of such extraordinary terribleness that it causes the antagonist to drop dead on the spot.
- Infernal Retaliation:
- Innocent Innuendo: Red Mage seems to be able to make anything sound like a double entendre.
- Insane Troll Logic:
- Almost every plan that Red Mage makes up runs solely on this. He has once claimed that his plans were more likely to succeed, due to the fact that they were less logical, and thus, logic wouldn't screw them up. You can't unread that.
- Black Mage has gotten in on the action, too.
- Ranger's reasoning after 2 of the 4 members of his party have been erased from existence.Rogue: This is an alarming trend.
Ranger: Is it? Only people who aren't us have disappeared, Rogue. Should this pattern continue, we ought to be fine.
Rogue: Why does that make more sense than I think it should?
- Sarda's reasoning for sending the "Light Warriors" on their journey is shaky as hell. Not that Red Mage logic that it's not their fault they kill everyone they meet along the journey sound either.
- The comic is so filled with this that the Logical Fallacies quote page has a whole section dedicated to 8-Bit Theater.
- Insult Backfire:
- Clevinger, in keeping with his philosophy that the best joke is the one on the reader, wrote a comic that ended with the entire strip All Just a Dream, as a fake No Ending. Rather than the cavalcade of abuse he expected from pissed-off readers, he got fan mail complementing him on writing the perfect ending for his comic! Needless to say, he was peeved that his master plan was ruined by kindness.
- He seems to have tried it again here. And again, after the initial shock, the readers began to compliment him, calling him a Magnificent Bastard.
- In-universe example:Black Mage: Yo.
White Mage: You are simply a horrible little monster and I pray for your quick and merciful death.
Black Mage: Flirt!
- In the Local Tongue: Drizz'l is mocked for his goofy-sounding name, until Thief tells them it actually means "The Relentless Scourge." Black Mage still mocks him anyhow.
- Ironic Hell:
- After being severely beaten by Berserker, Thief ends up in his personal Hell where he owns everything. Thief is overjoyed... until a trickster god called Raven points out to him that there's nothing left to steal in this Hell. Realizing that, Thief starts begging the god to revive him. However, it's revealed later that Thief didn't actually die—Berserker only knocked him unconscious—and his personal Hell was probably an illusion created by Raven who wanted to take advantage of Thief's desperation.
- The real hell, too.Head Hell Guy: This is hell. We're big on irony here.
- Iron Butt-Monkey: Fighter and Black Mage—the former is repeatedly stabbed in the head with no ill effects (it made him smarter once), while Black Mage more or less always survives what's thrown at him (the Goblin Punch and Australia come to mind) and when he's killed, he gets brought back in fairly short order so as to continue suffering.
- It's Always Sunny in Miami: This trope is used in this work, as it never gets dark until the characters enter the inn.
- I Will Show You X: In this strip.Sarda: That's adorable, really.
Garland: Oh, we'll show you adorable!
[shows Sarda a photo of a bunny]
Sarda: Yes, you sure did.
- Joke Exhaustion: After Black Belt's death, Black Mage spends an entire strip gleefully firing off jokes mocking it.
- Karma Houdini: The Light Warriors (especially Black Mage), after all the atrocities they commit, ultimately escape any kind of punishment. The only upside is that White Mage keeps them from stealing the credit for saving the world... by making sure it goes to the Dark Warriors.
- Well, admittedly they've all been drastically de-leveled, and Black Mage seems to be destined to forever wander the world with Fighter (a reward for Fighter, a punishment for Black Mage), but they still got off lightly.
- Kid with the Leash:
- Surprisingly enough, this trope is applied to Thief and Black Mage. Black Mage is a nightmarishly insane killer easily able to cause ridiculous amounts of mass-destruction, and whose gut reaction to any situation is a cross of Kill 'Em All and Kill It with Fire. Thief may be a Manipulative Bastard whose idea of morality is as flexible and self-rewarding as any one of his contracts, but at least he can control (or at least direct) a lot of Black Mage's indiscriminate destruction. If he's not there to lead the group, Black Mage tends to take charge and things tend to go downhill pretty damn quick.
- A good part of Thief's control over Black Mage involves the fact that prior to absorbing his Superpowered Evil Side, at least Black Mage is terrified of him.Red Mage: I can't believe 'Thief' was the moral compass that kept us from becoming a pack of roving murderers
- Kill It with Fire:
- The Light Warriors' solution to most anything, really.
- While looking for excuses to kill dwarves-Thief: Beard-shaped parasites are eating their faces!
Black Mage: Burn them all and let the fire sort it out!
- Killing Your Alternate Self: In the Castle of Ordeals, the only thing the castle could find that was evil enough to represent Black Mage's own evil was Black Mage himself. After pointing out various other evil deeds the castle had missed and turning his doppleganger into a world ending threat, BM dispatches him with deceit and application of his trusty stabbing knife through the back and out the heart.
- Kleptomaniac Hero: Thief will steal everything from your house regardless if it's nailed down or not.
- Knight of Cerebus: Played with. Black Mage would have loved to turn the entire comic into a series of gruesome atrocities, but things never work out for him.
- Knows a Guy Who Knows a Guy: Rogue has "I know a guy" as his catchphrase. One of said guys is even Thief.
- Last of His Kind:
- Red Mage and Dragoon. Muffin wants to be, but when pointed out there are a fair number of dragons still out there despite her claims, she grudgingly admits she wasn't quite as thorough as she'd like.
- Barry of the real Light Warriors is apparently a Red Wizard, meaning that Red Mage is either wrong or lying for roleplaying EXP. Knowing him, it's likely both simultaneously.
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again: Said word for word by Black Mage after the nightmare-poison-induced shenanigans that resulted in the Light Warriors waking up stark naked in the woods.
- Level Drain: Happens to the Light Warriors near the end of the comic.Sarda: The irony is that there's not much left for me to do to you that you haven't already done to yourselves.
Thief: Pff, what could he possibly do?
Black Mage: Oh... please don't say that out loud.
Thief: No, think about what he said. We're Light Warriors, dammit. I bet he can't hurt us any more than we hurt each other every day.
Red Mage: Thief kinda has a point. We're our own worst enemies. What can he do?!
[The Light Warriors are reduced in levels and class]
Red Mage: [turns to Sarda] What if I said it was a rhetorical question?
- Level Grinding: After being deleveled by Sarda, the Light Warriors must engage in a frenzy of this in order to (maybe) stand a chance against Chaos
- Ley Line:
- Mentioned as running through the land. It is stated that Black Mage is a living Nexus.
- It's not just that Black Mage is a living Nexus personified, but that apparently his mind/soul itself is the Nexus, such that his physical body acts as a Restraining Bolt. Hence when he dies and gets rid of his physical body, his powers increase (vis a vis RULING OVER HELL). He is not happy that the universe is trying its very hardest to keep him alive (probably so he doesn't end all creation.)
- Light Is Not Good: For a group of "heroes" called "The Light Warriors", they are probably the world's greatest mortal perpetrators of atrocities. Sarda flat out tells them this. Then again, the Light Warriors only got the title by tricking King Steve with their "Orbs of Destiny", which were in fact light bulbs, and the Real Light Warriors were unable to find a job.
- Lightning Can Do Anything: Including making Fighter smart.Thief: I think you stabbed the stupid out of him.
Red Mage: That makes no scientific sense. The knife channeled the lightning directly to his brain which then experienced electrical activity for, perhaps, the first time ever.
- Limited-Use Magical Device: Referenced when the "Light Warriors" come across Chancellor Usurper while he's monologuing and he attempts to defend his actions by claiming he was reading from a letter that disappeared like a scroll. To which Black Mage states that scrolls don't disappear, just the writing on them.
- Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Although by the 1000 comic mark, Fighter can block anything in creation (including fire and the ground) and Thief can steal anything in creation, they still aren't anywhere near matching the raw destructive power that Black Mage has access to. Red Mage is a special case because although he can instantly mimic Black Mage's attacks when they are used on him (for about 30 seconds afterwards), his wizarding skills in general are not geared towards brute force but practicality (well, what he thinks of as practicality). The best example of this trope, though, is Sarda, who gets phenomenally more powerful the older he gets. Anyone even want to know what Black Mage and Red Mage are going to be capable of if they exist that long?
- Logic Bomb: Red Mage uses one to kill a dinosaur. He tries it again while confronting his own Hubris, but it doesn't take for obvious reason.Red Mage: For that would be a flaw. Well, explode already!
- MacGyvering: We'll never know how he did it, but Red Mage saved the day with a portable hole, an immovable rod, a bag of holding, and an ice spell.
- Made of Evil: When Black Mage enters the Castle of Ordeals, he has to face the physical embodiment of his worst flaws in order to overcome them. Black Mage's physical manifestation is himself. Because there is nothing more evil out there. However, when he keeps remembering the increasingly evil things he has done, the manifestation starts to shake reality. See here and the comic before it.
- Magic A Is Magic A: If Sarda devises a spell to hurt you, he devises a spell to hurt you, as demonstrated by Black Mage several times.
- Magic Versus Science: The comic ends with a newspaper declaring the "very real Light Warriors save the world!"; next to the picture of the Dark Warriors, there is an article about a mana vein which baffles scientists.Newspaper headline text: I hate this ridiculous fantasy setting
- Mathematician's Answer:
- Twice: the first was after Dragoon had knocked Black Mage unconscious by using him as a landing point, and Red Mage took advantage of the opportunity to jump up and down on Black Mage's unconscious body for a while.Black Mage: Now, if Jumpin' Jack Ass and Red Moron are done, we DO have a quest to finish up.
Thief: Since when do you care about quests?
Black Mage: Since it's a convenient excuse to butcher Sir Hopsalot for revenge.
Dragoon: You mean Red Mage or me?
Black Mage: YES.
- The second instance involves the Dark Warriors and Sarda. They tell Sarda to get out of the way so they can go conquer the world: he says it's not going to happen. When they ask which part he meant, he replies, "Yes."
- Twice: the first was after Dragoon had knocked Black Mage unconscious by using him as a landing point, and Red Mage took advantage of the opportunity to jump up and down on Black Mage's unconscious body for a while.
- Meaningful Name:
- Other than Black Mage's last name, Evilwizardington, there are characters with names like Chancellor Usurper and Doctor Malpractice.
- Just about everyone's last name.
- Medieval Stasis: The Elves, as pointed out by Red Mage despite having a 9,000 year head start are at the same technology level as humans. Thief, at a loss for a proper explanation, tells them that they like it that way.
- Mood Whiplash: Compared to both preceding and succeeding strips, the strip about Black Belt's (first) death is surprisingly serious.
- Morality Pet: Fighter to Black Mage - for all the good it does. This leads to many instances of Kick the Morality Pet.
- Mook Depletion: When the Light Warriors invade her lair, Kary demands to know where her minions were, with her accountant revealing that she killed them all on a whim because she was bored. In a rage, she killed the accountant and decided to deal with the Light Warriors personally.
- Never My Fault: As Red Mage points out Sarda is just as responsible for his suffering as the Light Warriors are, since he wastes all his time getting petty, childish revenge on them when he could easily use his godlike powers to prevent their actions from ever happening. Not only that but he was the one who sent them on their quest to begin with, so he really has no one to blame but himself for his problems.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: If Sarda hadn't resurrected Black Mage's victims after his rampage, then the actual ending of the comic could never have happened.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot:
- Fighter's idea of combining swords and nunchucks.
- Orc Zombies
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Earlier strips had King Steve serving as a George W. Bush parallel, though done in an extremely over the top Strawman representation; drilling for Mana in wildlife preserves, father also a ruler, bit of a warmonger, and low popularity.
- The "father also a ruler" part is justified. He's a KING.
- Though, ironically, King Steve himself doesn't know that.
- The "father also a ruler" part is justified. He's a KING.
- No Fourth Wall:
- In this strip, the Light Warriors can see themselves as in the comic. Even Black Mage comments on something he says at a later point. Justified, since they're in void where space and time are meaningless.
- Red Mage often leans very heavily on the Fourth Wall. Considering he's a Munchkin this isn't much of a surprise (his entire order lives on the basis of manipulating the Fourth Wall). When he does say something with a meta-context expect Black Mage (if he's currently not in possession of the Insanity Ball and trying to kill everything in sight) to remark on it with either suspicion or frustration.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
- Black Belt's core martial arts philosophy, as taught to him by his master.Black Belt: My master believed that an opponent whose body was too broken to move was an opponent who was defeated.
- Also what happens to anyone who triggers Barbarian's Berserker Mode.
- Black Belt's core martial arts philosophy, as taught to him by his master.
- No Kill Like Overkill: Black Mage. He likes summoning the raw powers of the universe to do his bidding (apparently). This usually comes (also apparently) with a malleable sense of scale... as in "off of the". As a running gag, his love of killing things in as over-the-top a fashion as possible often leads to his attacks backfiring on him (luckily for him, he learns Feather Fall eventually).Black Mage: I found out what zombies are weak against.
Red Mage: Oh?
Black Mage: Point blank annihilation.
- Nominal Heroes: The Light Warriors.Red Mage: According to a loose enough definition of 'hero', we qualify. Well, more or less. The point is that good deeds were done and we were nearby.
- Non-Combat EXP: Discussed by the Light Warriors—Apparently, sidequests are the primary source of an adventurer's EXP gain, and are what separates noble adventurers from roaming bands of thugs.
- No One Could Survive That!: Basically said in more words by Red Mage in 1167. Of course, Sarda survived.
- No One Should Survive That:
- Fighter, all the time (much to Black Mage's chagrin). So much that the other Light Warriors count on him somehow being able to survive random situations.
- Black Mage also qualifies. Among other examples, Sarda dropped Australia on him and he survived.Red Mage: Where's he going?
Sarda: To hurt.
- Qualifies as an Incredibly Lame Pun, since he is sent to Hurt, Australia.
- Don't forget when Sarda locked Black Mage perfectly still while the rest of the universe kept moving, shifting him outside the cave. Of course, all the other molecules kept moving and shredded him at a sub-cellular level, but Sarda kept him alive out of spite.Black Mage: Huh. I think I'm insane now.
- Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: Invoked in a No Fourth Wall manner by Red Mage. He's not the Determinator, he's not Made of Iron... he just 'forgets' to write down any damage he takes.
- No Sense of Direction: Fighter's not good at directions. In Black Belt's case it's practically a Disability Superpower.
- Not Evil, Just Misunderstood: Fighter believes that Black Mage is/was this. He is, of course, comprehensively wrong.
- Not Now, Kiddo: Black Mage is guilty of this on several occasions. A few times to Fighter, but once to Lich, while he and the rest of BM's party discussed the plan to kill Lich's son, Vilbert. Right in front of Lich. And Black Mage didn't even bother to look at Lich while he said that.
- Not So Different: White Mage ends up giving the Dark Warriors credit for the few good things the Light Warriors did out of petty spite, just like something the Light Warriors themselves would've done. In the epilogue she even acknowledges that what she did was just as childish and mean-spirited as their behavior, and is trying to give them they credit they earned to make amends (though none of the Light Warriors particularly care).
- Not the Fall That Kills You:
- Done in one of the weirdest ways possible.Fighter: The way I figured it, the fall doesn't kill you. The ground does. So I blocked it.
Thief: You blocked the Earth.
Fighter: Why not? I can block magic and fire and all kinds of stuff.
Thief: I hate it when the things he says that don't make sense make sense.
- Earlier, after being shot to Dragoon's flying island, Thief avoids crashing via Double Jump. Meanwhile, Fighter crashes but tanks the damage, Black Mage casts Feather Fall, and Red Mage... just crashes horribly. And then a healing potion he left behind in midair crashes on him.
- Done in one of the weirdest ways possible.
- Odd Job Gods: The demons of urine and bad haircuts. Who are far more dangerous than ones of pain, darkness, and anger.
- Odd Name Out: During the Disguised in Drag scenario, the Light Warriors went by the names of Thiefica, Fighterina, Black Magia, and... Debora.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: An intentional Double Subversion. The climactic fight with Chaos is shown offpanel to keep the identity of who defeated him secret as long as possible. Then comes a flashback sequence in which we see that scene, only to have the battle skipped over a second time.
- Oh, Crap!:
- The look on Sarda's face just before undergoing Phlebotinum Overload is astoundingly evocative for an 8-bit sprite.
- Also the look on Black Mage's face when he discovers that "Muffin", Dragoon's "parrot", is actually a dragon. Extra points for Fighter and Thief completely ignoring what's right behind them.
- According to White Mage, here's what happened after Black Mage became the ruler of hell and gained limitless power:White Mage: Did you feel that?
Black Belt: What?
White Mage: A great disturbance in the order, as if millions of voices cried out to say "Oh shit."
- And Matoya, trying to use her crystal eye for lottery numbers, keeps getting "THE DESTROYER IS MANIFEST". Basically, the entire universe went Oh, Crap! when Black Mage took over hell.
- Omnicidal Maniac: Black Mage always did want to be ruler of a dead universe. However, he never showed he actually had the power to pull it off until late in the comic.
- One-Winged Angel: Sarda might have just done this, but that could just be his real face.
- Only a Flesh Wound:
- Black Mage stabs his comrades, usually in the head, and they always survive.
- Subverted when Black Mage actually kills Ranger this way, and gloats over it as his previous victims survived. Of course, he is then resurrected by his friend Cleric.
- Black Mage regularly survives injuries such as losing his arms or being impaled by a spear, usually without proper healing. It's implied the Universe doesn't want him to die again since his fleshy body is what prevent him from destroying the world so it keeps him alive.
- Pretty much everyone in the main cast, at one time or another, goes through this.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: apparently, the Onion Kid's real name is Rex Crockett (check left bottom corner).
- Clevinger said this isn't his real name. It was never revealed.
- Only Sane Man:
- White Mage. Black Mage is when he's holding the Sanity Ball (If you can call it that).
- Thief, Princess Sara, Left-Hand Man Gary, Drizz'l, and Rogue are this in their respective groups.
- Though among those listed above, only Left-Hand Man Gary has not shown overt signs of either willfully dangerous ignorance (White Mage and Rogue), willingness to use extreme methods (White Mage again), Black and Gray Morality (Thief, Sara and Drizz'l), or sociopathic, psychopathic psychosis (need you even ask).
- Sarda might also count, since he's one of the few who sees the Light Warriors except Fighter as the horrible threat to the world they actually are.
- When Black Mage isn't in an omnicidal rage, he is typically the Only Sane Man, and will point out flaws in logic, be the only voice of reason, and will even lean heavily against the fourth wall. However, whenever he is sane, one of the Light Warriors (usually) will do or say something stupid or frustrating, and there seems to be only a certain level of this he can take before he feels the "need to destroy." The stupider the idea (which happens to be proportional to the amount of participation Fighter has in its conception for some completely bizarre reason), the more likely he'll just snap all together. There's a slight problem when that happens...
- Orwellian Editor: Thief's Ninja outfit is based on a red Ninja sprite from Final Fantasy III. In the original run of strip 200, and in the first run of the strip where he obtained the class change, Thief's outfit matched said sprite. One strip later, however, the outfit switched from red to black—Black Mage comments on it, but Thief only says that the outfit had always been black as a Logic Bomb. On the same day as the Logic Bomb joke, the previous strips were all edited to change the outfit from red to black.
- Perp Sweating: Parodied. When Red Mage "interrogated" Bikke, the pirate claimed he didn't steal Matoya's crystal. Red Mage simply replied: "No? Or... Yes?". Confused Bikke immediately incriminated himself and accused Red Mage of using "black ops mind games".Bikke: I just wanted to feel like a big evil man! Is that really so wrong?
- Person of Mass Destruction: Black Mage and Sarda both excel at making the peoples fall down.
- Pet the Dog:
- Black Mage's letter to White Mage in which he apologizes for being a Jerkass and tries to comfort her after Black Belt's death definitely qualifies as one of these moments. Obviously, that only proves that one can pet the dog once or a few times and still be irredeemably evil.
- Much later Sarda gets a Pet the Dog moment when he decides to spare the Dark Warriors' lives.Sarda: Look, I don't do this... Uh, ever. But you guys are basically like kittens stuck on a leaking lifeboat in a typhoon. Just run.
- And he gave Fighter candy.
- Well, he gave Black Mage candy too. He just happened to place the candy in Black Mage's lungs
- Black Mage refuses to tell Fighter he went to Hell since even he doesn't have the heart to crush his idealistic view.
- Phlebotinum Overload: This happens to Sarda, after he absorbs the power of the Orbs, the Fiends, and Black Mage's Superpowered Evil Side. As it turns out, he's still alive, just not Sarda anymore.
- Pillar of Light: When Sarda explodes.
- Please Wake Up: Fighter when Black Mage's spine is broken and dies.
- Poke the Poodle:
- White Mage's attempt at a FaceHeel Turn results in this.
- Garland tries desperately to be evil and just can't get the hang of it.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Black Mage sacrificed nine orphans to get the Hadoken. And that's not counting the orphans he sacrificed for fun. Furthermore, the spell is powered by love. That is, the universe has a finite amount of love, and BM burns some of it up every time he casts the spell.
- Power Copying: Black Mage becomes a blue mage, gaining the ability to use the powers of those that attack him. Unfortunately, the only spells he actually learned this way were: 1) a spell to make the target puke his guts out (except the target is hard-wired to Black Mage); 2) a spell to let Sarda rewrite reality; and 3) a "spell" that allows him to kick people in the nuts.
- The Power of Love: Subverted, as Black Mage's most destructive attack is powered by draining love from the universe.
- Precision F-Strike:
- Present Company Excluded: Red Mage gets no respectThief: I hate wizards.
Red Mage: I'm waiting for you to say "present company excluded".
[Red Mage then waits an hour for Thief to say it]
- Puff of Logic: At first subverted, then played straight.
- Pūnct'uatìon Sh'akër: Drizz'l, the Cultists with names such as Mrr'grt and L'zlhe, pronounced "Margret" and "Leslie".
- Punny Name: The names of the two principal elven clans, Khee'bler and Sahn'ta.
- Pursue the Dream Job: After Black Mage is left behind by the other Light Warriors and White Mage on accident, separating him from Fighter for the first time since he was kicked out of wizarding school he announces that he is finally free to indulge in the only thing that can bring him joy in this life, and promptly takes up a job as... a cobbler. Even managing to deal with an extremely difficult customer without resorting to his usual methods.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: All 4 Dark Warriors are based on or take the place of actual minibosses from the source material, and they are very quirky.
- Race Against the Clock: Chaos gives Light Warriors 24 hours to accomplish the goal of Red Mage's latest plan.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Red Mage: We're a roving band of armed misfits looking for something to do, and we thought you might fit the bill." The woman he's talking to thinks they're going to gang-rape her.Red Mage: I can't help but think the conversation would have ended differently had my pants stayed on.
- Read the Fine Print: Don't: Thief has rights over them that will charge you on top of scamming you with it.
- Recoil Boost: Black Mage uses his Hadoken to propel the party's ship.
- Recurring Extra:
- Onion Kid, the little kid whose new family is constantly killed. Except he's far more than that.
- The Real Light Warriors, a party who is supposed to be the actual destined Light Warriors but Missed the Call due to the main characters having taken the position while they were busy Level Grinding. Every so often we see them just a few steps behind the protagonists or having their lives made miserable due to their actions.
- Retcon: No, Thief's ninja outfit has always been black. Why would it be red? He's always imagined himself as classing into a black-clad ninja, not a red one. What do you mean "It was red when he first appeared in it"? Bah. You're as crazy and confused as Black Mage.
- Retconjuration: Sarda, when he's not being a straight-up Reality Warper.
- Retconning the Wiki: One strip implies that Black Mage vandalised Wikipedia to win an argument with Red Mage.
- Ret Gone: There was never a fifth Light Warrior named Bard.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Fighter goes berserk on Lich after Lich kills Black Mage.
- Role-Playing Game Verse: The entire original plotline of the strip, not to mention Red Mage's constant stat references at the start of the series.
- RPG-Mechanics Verse: This too, although for extra humor, exactly which RPG mechanics are in use in any given strip seems to vary according to the author's whim. D&D, Final Fantasy, Exalted, and Old World of Darkness rules have all been seen... and mocked.
- Rule of Three: Onrac is destroyed by the actions of Sarda in response to Black Mage three times. Lampshaded with a sign outside the town saying "Where lightning never strikes thrice". Guess what happens.
- Running Gag: The guard chasing the hapless messenger. Who is still chasing him in the Epilogue. Three years later.
- Black Mage's sarcastic comments usually fly over the heads of Red Mage and Fighter.
- Black Mage suggests his own version of Sarcasm Mode to "help" Red Mage.Black Mage: We're going to have a code. When I stab you in the ear, that means I'm being sarcastic. Got it?
Red Mage: I have reservations about that, vis-a-vis the stabbing and also my ear.
Black Mage: I'll take that under advisement. [stabs Red Mage in the ear]
- The Scapegoat: Once the police arrives to investigate Lich's death, Sulk gets there with The Cure albums... thus the cops arrest him because "No emotionally balanced, healthy person would listen to that. This is obviously our perp."
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Black Mage attempts to do this, but Sarda rewrites his statement into satisfaction over an anticlimax.
- Screw You, Elves!:
- "If you elves are so great, why is your technology on par with humans even though you had a nine thousand year head start?"
- "Your race's history is one long love poem dedicated to bloodshed. And to yourselves."
- Screw Yourself: It's implied that Black Mage, after killing the manifestation of his evil (which happened to look exactly like him), used its corpse to turn self-love into atrocity. Then Thief managed to photograph the whole thing and blackmail BM with it.
- Self-Deprecation: Strip 1,000 was called "I cant believe someone was asshole enough to make 1,000 sprite comics." Strip 1,001 was called "I cant believe someone was asshole enough to make more than 1,000 sprite comics."
- Sense Loss Sadness: Black Mage after losing his position of hell king.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story:
- Pretty much every story arc. Not to mention the series as a whole.
- And just as readily subverted with all the horrible stuff that happens to the Onion Kid.
- Shout-Out: Several; see Shout Out: Web Comics for examples.
- Small Name, Big Ego:
- Black Mage, Red Mage, all Elves.
- Black Mage is an odd case. He admits straight out back in the beginning that he knows he's "vile" and evil. He's rather proud of it, in fact. He even knows that his one-liners are horrible and that he annoys White Mage into almost Unstoppable Rage. What's strange is that he thinks that is charismatic and appealing to women. So, this trope still applies as he thinks that he is the ultimate ladies' man. His idea of what that is is just really very...er... distorted.
- King Steve probably has an over-inflated image of himself as well. Seriously, if he thinks of himself that way...
- Spanner in the Works:
- Many examples, but the biggest one is Sarda, to himself. Sometime in the present, he teleports White Mage into a "pocket dimension" because she was annoying him. It turns out this "pocket dimesion" is actually the beginning of the universe... and a younger version of himself arrives there a few seconds too late to mold the universe to his will.
- He also probably didn't expect Black Mage's evil to cause him to suffer a Phlebotinum Overload—or that said overload would allow Chaos to possess his body. Not even gaining godlike power can prevent Black Mage from ruining Sarda's life.
- Squishy Wizard: Black Mage, of course.
- Although, BM has shown surprising ability to take beatings for a supposed Squishy Wizard. Not to mention he is apparently strong enough to kill a bunch of sea monsters using only his dagger.
- Stable Time Loop:
- Sarda is tortured by Black Mage as Onion Kid, is taken in by his older self, watches said older self try to get revenge on the Light Warriors, grows up to become a powerful mage, goes back in time to the origin of the universe, goes insane taking The Slow Path back to the present, decides to take revenge on the Light Warriors, repeat.
- And along the way, he sends White Mage to the beginning of time to keep her out of the way, where she creates the universe. Wrap your head around that predestination paradox.
- A smaller example: when they are at some weird space-time singularity, Thief has an idea to use the hundreds of instances of the Light Warriors to form an army. When Red Mage asks him how he got the idea, Thief says that he saw the future Red Mage doing it. Red Mage comments on the fact that he wouldn't have done it if Thief hadn't told him, and that Thief wouldn't have told him if he hadn't seen him doing it.
- A smaller-scale example: Sarda in the past got the idea to grow a mustache from White Mage, who got the idea from seeing Sarda with his mustache in the present day. So who came up with the idea in the first place?
- The Starscream:
- Black Mage repeatedly betrays the Light Warriors, and has tried to gain control of the group at least twice. Drizz'l, meanwhile, usurped Garland for all of a day before getting kicked out of the Dark Warriors.
- Despite being the leader, Thief gives Black Mage a run for his money. Red Mage is getting tired of how many betrayal sub text there is at one point.Thief: Now, now, there'll be plenty of time for ruthless backstabbing after we get the Earth Orb. [beat] Er, I should have said that in whisper-mode.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Lava instead of ground, ventilation rust-holes, cold fusion devices, explodable amnesia dust, "a stube"... the list goes on.
- Stunned Silence: Black Mage has quite a few of these, usually accompanied by a Flat "What" when he's confronted with something so stupid or illogical that it renders him speechless. However, it has also happened when he has been simply horrified into stunned silence. There are few things so horrible that they can horrify Black Mage into silence. One of these things is Red Mage's chocobo breeding experiments. Black Mage even promises to devise a special hell just for what he's done.
- Stupid Sexy Flanders: Fighter thought that Legolas was cute.
- Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish: Subverted. Fighter seems to have figured out the Lefanish language, but he still hasn't quite got the hang of it. Or has he?
- Surrounded by Idiots: Black Mage's temper and remaining sanity are continuously frayed by the rampant illogical insanity, stupidity and lack of all reason that tends to crop up in Red Mage's and Fighter's vicinity (which isn't exactly conducive to the good health of the group). Thief also makes the same claim, but he gets far too much enjoyment out of screwing everyone out of everything they currently or will own, to be more than occasionally annoyed by the irrationality.Black Mage: I shall die as I lived. Completely surrounded by morons.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- "No I am not undressing you with the power of my mind!"...and too many other examples to list them all.
- Shifty shopkeep Akbar makes it an art form.
- Fighter will often make completely innocent statements to this effect, often believing a far too specific lie that Black Mage has told him. See the below conversation for exhibit A, case in point.Fighter: You told me Red Mage was dead.
Black Mage: Oh, we've all been dead. His return is no surprise, really.
Fighter: But you said he'd turn into the walking dead any minute and we had to make haste so he couldn't feast upon our delicious living flesh.
Black Mage: Look, I say a lot of things. Now, we can stand here and argue about who fed who obvious, completely incongruous, fabrications and lies. But are you prepared to risk the unrelenting hunger of the undead?
Fighter: All the senseless talking about a subject no one can remember, much less, uh, remember is getting us nowhere and zombies are hot on our heels. We must move forward and onward!
- Black Mage also has a rather introspective one while he is the only one still stuck inside the web of a giant spiderBlack Mage: They're the dumb ones, why am I still stuck here? I'm the smart, sassy one. My condescending demeanor certainly has nothing to do with a barely hidden anxiety about my actual worth as a person, a mage, or a member of this team. Stupid Fighter and stupid Red Mage and stupid Thief, makin' me introspective. I suppose it'll give me even more emotional turmoil to squeeze into a ball of seething rage focused at the center of my being.
- Red Mage gets into the act too:Red Mage: Whatever it was, I bet it WASN'T a backlash from gross abuse of the laws of magic!
- Sweat Drop: Appeared a few times in the early days of the comic.
- Take That!:
- One strip consisted of little more than a pee joke and two characters being disturbed and disgusted by it. The strip's name? "VG Mages".
- From the epilogue, while Fighter and Black Mage are looking for a job:Fighter: Here's one! They're recruiting for something called SOLDIER.
Black Mage: Lame.
Fighter: The dukedom of Dollet is hiring mercenaries to repel Galbadian aggression.
Black Mage: Somehow even lamer.
Fighter: We could join the search for a missing Alexandrian princess.
Black Mage: That could be interesting...
Fighter: Ah, they've already got a black mage. Oh, escorting a religious pilgrimage?
Black Mage: I'd rather chew my own neck off.
Fighter: We could find a few other adventurers and join the fight against the Shadowlord.
Black Mage: NEXT!
Fighter: Eh. Everything after that sounds like a waste of time.
Black Mage: I could've told you that.
- Also from the epilogue, one can spot Cloud's buster sword and Squall's gun sword being peddled at Akbar's Not Useless Tools, alongside a bent pitchfork and a shovel with a hole in it.
- An earlier strip had Red Mage suggesting to distract Fighter by telling him to finish a race in 0:00 seconds, only for the latter to state that he's not THAT stupid.
- One to Final Fantasy X here; the reality of certain Final Fantasy sporting events.
- Episode 815: Try Our New All-Meat Salad is an extended Take That! to the bizarre appetizers invented by American casual dining restaurants like T.G.I. Friday's and Applebee's.Black Mage: Chipsplosion Bowl? Bacon Enchilada?
Black Mage: Fritter Rolls? Corn Blasters?
Black Mage: Cheese Munch? Cream Balls?
Black Mage: Batter Wedges? Chicken-Fried Butter Sticks? Do... Do you use a fork?
- Tempting Fate:
- "And now that I've described the plan in full, nothing can possibly go wrong."
- From the episode titled Oh, it's probably nothing:Red Mage: Any fate that we can walk into because we're not dead is a better one than we had ten minutes ago.
[a pulse of energy erupts from Sarda making the ground shake]
Black Mage: Unrelated: Anyone else hear that?
- Leading to this:Sarda: My plans will not be undone by such amateur-hour horseshit as absorbing too much power and exploding.
- This one is when they go to the submarine temple, after Black Mage has returned to the air-sub, with his whole digestive tract out of his body.Thief: Well, that's the worst thing I'll ever see. (GSHLURRPLE! as Black Mage forces his digestive tract to re-enter his body) That's what I get for daring the universe.
- Onrac: Where Lightning Can't Strike Thrice!
- Black Mage here.Black Mage: Man, I love the use of my legs. So awesome!
- Terrible Pick-Up Lines: Black Mage tries to start a relationship with White Mage by using pick-up lines such as "Do you come from Venus? Cuz your ass is OUTTA THIS WORLD!", resulting in White Mage hitting him with a giant hammer again and again.
- The Chosen Zero: Played with. The main characters aren't the real chosen ones, but they do (sort of) save the world, and the real chosen ones don't do anything important to the plot.
- The Fellowship Has Ended: The final fate of the Light Warriors. After their quest is over they all just sort of split apart (with the exception of Black Mage and Fighter).
- Taken for Granite: Black Mage can also do this to people apparently, he did it to stop a temporal paradox.
- That Came Out Wrong: Red Mage is a MACHINE at this.
- Theme Naming: Khee'bler and Sahn'ta elves.
- Theory of Narrative Causality: Thief tries to invoke this trope in order to trick Muffin.
- This Is Gonna Suck: The party gets one of these after Sarda weakens them.Red Mage: Sarda de-leveled us, but we don't know how many levels we lost.
Black Mage: Well, cast something!
Black Mage: What was that?
Red Mage: The sound of us dying in one round.
- Those Two Guys: Depending on how smart/stupid everyone is acting, Thief and Red Mage. They'll often act saner/smarter in contrast to Black Mage's Omnicidal Maniac tendencies and Fighter's...well...Fighter tendencies. This usually means trying to screw over everyone else for some temporary advantage. Then again, this depends on a number of factors coming together.
- Throw the Dog a Bone:
- White Mage, and possibly the entire world get thrown one when White Mage kills Chaos.
- And now it seems that, after countless failures and humiliations they suffered, Dark Warriors will get their happy ending because White Mage made everyone believe that they are real Light Warriors and that they saved the world.
- Token Good Teammate:
- Black Mage and Thief are a omnicidal maniac and a kleptomaniac, respectively. Red Mage is a fairly amoral Munchkin, though he did redeem himself a bit when he saved White Mage's life at (what would probably have been) the cost of his own. Fighter, although not too bright, is the only one who consistently displays a moral compass.
- According to Red Mage, he's really Lawful Amazing.
- It has hereby been proven that Fighter is Good. Or possibly that Red Mage is also evil, if it turns out that Neutral characters can wield the Light Warriors' weapons as well.
- Too Awesome to Use: Played straight by Red Mage constantly, then Lampshaded when he can't save Black Mage because he just used those items.
- Too Dumb to Fool: Fighter in this strip. When Black Mage uses his Hypnovision on Fighter, he claims that it wouldn't work because he's "not smart enough to be affected".
- Too Dumb to Live:
- Red Mage is the last of the Red Magi because they had a tendency to hold elaborate sacred meetings when other mages were out reproducing, combined with a nasty track record of killing each other/themselves in order to more accurately calculate the effects of spells and weapons on people.
TiamatMuffin: Oh, I see. You stupided yourselves into extinction.
- Completely inverted with Fighter. He's too dumb to die.
- Red Mage is the last of the Red Magi because they had a tendency to hold elaborate sacred meetings when other mages were out reproducing, combined with a nasty track record of killing each other/themselves in order to more accurately calculate the effects of spells and weapons on people.
- Travel Montage: Parodied—Red Mage once used Travel Montage as an actual means of transport. To Black Mage's confusion, it worked.
- Trickster Mentor: Sarda... with far more emphasis on the trickster part.
- Trope Codifier: For sprite, fantasy, and RPG-based webcomics.
- Twenty Four of Your Earth Hours: The amount of time Chaos gives to Red Mage to complete his plan.
- Unholy Nuke: Black Mage mentions that he gained his Hadoken Attack (essentially a all-purpose Nuke) through sacrificing children to his wanton gods of evil. This surprises no one.
- Unsound Effect: From "BOMBASTIC CLASSICAL MUSIC! Ominous Latin Chorus! Ominous Latin Chorus!" to "Orgy of Violence!" to "REALLY LOUD SUMMONING AND RUMBLE NOISES!", and many others besides.
- Unspoken Plan Guarantee:
- Unstoppable Rage: Fighter went into this when Black Mage was killed by Lich.
- Up to Eleven: The Glorious Chainsaw Method.
- The description on that is hilarious: Make your swords become like things unto chainsaws.
- Use Your Head: "The main tactic of the Ram Form of Zodiackenshido is to break your opponent's equipment with your head before he breaks your head with his equipment."
- Villain with Good Publicity: Well, to the extent they can be considered villains, anyway, Garland and co. get this on episode 1224.
- Villain Protagonist: The Light Warriors. They are the story's ''official'' villains (except for Fighter)note .
- Violence Is the Only Option:
- Visual Pun:
- "I just checked the navigational log. A few things occur to me. One: this is not a very good ship."
- The Shockwave will send us into the atmosphere.
- It's too bad you're in a coma when there's a magazine filled with huge knockers right here.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- Fighter is so consistently unaware of Black Mage's hate for him that it actually becomes a jaw-dropping plot point when Thief and Red Mage finally decide to kill Black Mage (for good reason), and Fighter stops them with:Fighter: ...friends look out for one another and we're friends, but Black Mage is my best friend. Also, I can block any attack and kill anything that bleeds. Hint.
- Black Mage and Thief are another good example. Though the two often claim to hate one another (and have each proven it more than once), they also respect each other's evil ways, and have on occasion shown some great synergy. To wit, just check pretty much the entirety of the Dwarfland arc.
- Fighter is so consistently unaware of Black Mage's hate for him that it actually becomes a jaw-dropping plot point when Thief and Red Mage finally decide to kill Black Mage (for good reason), and Fighter stops them with:
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Black Mage is the king of this... usually projectile vomiting style. Thief's comment that he saw "darker wood in elf porn" made this happen spontaneously. His discovery of the true nature of Bahamut and Matoya's relationship and just what the Rat Tail was used for made him eject things he hadn't eaten yet.
- Wacky Wayside Tribe: The arcs involving a trip to the Arctic and another where the Light Warriors take control of a city.
- Weapons-Grade Vocabulary: Lethal puns against Astos.Black Mage: Astos? Mo' like your ass is toast.
[Astos promptly dies]
- Web Animation:
- The official (Brian-approved) flash version by TLF. Discontinued, though the animators say anyone else is free to continue on from there.
- There's also a motion comic series on youtube, 8-Bit Theater Chaos, which is currently sitting happy at 52 episodes and six seasons, with consistent improvement as it goes on.
- Webcomic of the Game: Follows the plot of Final Fantasy I... kinda. The comic's contents often venture far outside the realm of the game, making this more of a "very loosely-inspired by" series rather than a faithful adaption.
- Wham Episode:
- What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Mentioned various times, either in naive stupidity by Fighter and Red Mage, or sarcastic snarkery by Black Mage. Thief can bring it up when the occasion arises though:Thief: [to Black Mage] Maybe you shouldn't be holding the keys to the apocalypse.
- What Have You Done for Me Lately?: When Black Mage asks what Red Mage has ever contributed to the team.BM: Why do we listen to Dork Mage? What has he ever done for us that worked?
Fighter: He makes a killer salad.
Thief: He's a wiz at laundry too. Look how clean my little ninja booties are.
BM: Yes, okay, fine. But salads and footwear do not decisive tactical thinking make. What's he ever done for us that was of any actual value?
RM: My stratagems defeated all three fiends thus far faced, and I'm the one who discovered how our class changes work.
BM: Today. What has he done for us today!
- What the Hell, Hero?: The comic and the people in it do not pull any punches in pointing out that our protagonists are deplorable people. Except Fighter.
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Used as the last strip for the series. The strip picks up three years after the previous strip with White Mage tracking down the Light Warriors to give them some credit for all they did, Red Mage and Dragoon starting up a support group for sole survivors of mysterious sects, Thief becoming the king of Elfland through unknown means, and Black Mage and Fighter having disappeared, with no one knowing where they are (ironically we find out in the last scene that they're right where they were at the start of the comic).
- It's also a very loving recreation of Mark Waid and Alex Ross' Kingdom Come, right down to the interesting names for the dishes at the restaurant.
- White Magician Girl: White Mage is the only female member of the six light warriors and is the White Mage.
- Why Are You Looking at Me Like That?: Fighter accidentally volunteers himself for a plot this way.Red Mage: We're going about this whole Chaos thing the wrong way.
Black Mage: Why break with tradition now?
Red Mage: No, no. Seriously. We can't out-fight him, we can't out-cast him, and we can't out-think him. But we can out-stupid him.
[the others turn and look at him]
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: As seen in this early strip, spiders freak Fighter out. So you can just imagine what's going through his mind when this happens later on.
- The Worf Effect: Lampshaded. Black Mage is stated to suffer from this effect by Red Mage, referring to his use as a target by Dragoon.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Black Mage finally succeeded in killing Fighter and Thief and was about to do in Red Mage. Then Sarda showed up and brought them back to life.
- Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: Lampshaded in the sign that advertises the palace is looking for the Light Warriors.
- You Already Changed The Future: In dealing with White Mage, Sarda manages to cause the event he was trying to prevent.
- You Answered Your Own Question: Never ask "what the Hell is this?" after dying.
- You Will Be Spared: Upon being hit with the only successful (if ineffectual) attack on his person to date, Sarda says this to the perpetrator: "You're a quick thinker and spiteful. I can respect that. You won't be killed, Bikke."