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Webcomic / General Protection Fault

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General Protection Fault is a long-running webcomic by Jeffery T. Darlington. At its core it's about the workplace hijinks of the staff of GPF Software as they deal with clients, internal strife, would-be world conquerors, alternate dimensions, mad science, and spies.

And that's not including the internal conflicts between the main characters:

  • Nick Wellington: The strip's main character. Lead Programmer, Geek's Geek, Mad Scientist
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  • Ki Oshiro-Wellington: Chief DBA, Action Girl, Gamer Chick, Nick's long-time girlfriend and wife.
  • Jason "Fooker" Barker: Systems Administrator. Slacker, not-so-secretly a government agent
  • Sharon Murphy: Fooker's girlfriend and co-sys admin
  • Trudy Trueheart: Marketing Director, Stepford Smiler, former would-be world conqueror, The Atoner
  • Dwayne Duncan: The Boss, software engineer, Straight Man
  • Dexter Smith: Coder, The Big Guy
  • Fred & Persephone: Sapient slime molds spawned from Fooker's garbage. For a long time, GPF's customer service operators.

The strip mixes geek humor with sci-fi elements (and occasional dips into the Cerebus Syndrome pool). A by-the-storyline index is available here.


This comic provides examples of:

  • Acquainted in Real Life: Both Nick and Ki find not only friends, but soulmates in an online chat. They can talk to them about everything, especially about their unknowingly mutual crush. Both their friends even live in their hometown. What they never even suspect, though: Ki's friend Gort is Nick, and Nick's friend Pookel is Ki (who has named herself after her childhood teddy bear). Even when they want to watch Attack of the Clones with their chat friends, and they meet in front of the cinema and wait for Gort and Pookel in vain, they don't take into consideration that both Gort and Pookel may in fact already be there. That is, if they did, it would make things a whole lot easier for them because they'd realize that they've actually confessed their mutual crush to each other but a whole lot less interesting for the reader.
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  • Actually Pretty Funny: An early comic has Nick warning Fooker about telling racy jokes in the workplace in case someone takes offense. Fooker goes to check with Ki.
    Ki: I'd sue you for sexual harassment if I hadn't laughed.
  • The Alleged Computer: The secret organization of the Brotherhood of the Twisted Pair seek a geek "like none other, whose skills are without equal. He (or she) will initiate a golden age of geekdom, and lead a revolution of ideas that will revolutionize the computerized world." One of the tests is averting this trope with out-of-date machinery.
    • Fooker passed by building a server out of computer equipment made in the late 1980s, when said components were at least a decade out of date.
    • Sharon passed by writing down what you'd have to do in order to pull off a similar feat, using 20-year-old equipment.
    • Yoshi passed by having the computer equipment a college kid could buy on a budget confiscated by the FBI, because of what he did with it.
  • Alternate Universe: One ruled by Nick's Evil Counterpart
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Ki's brother, Yoshi. It's implied that this is true of Lori, but she and Nick are never shown interacting.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: The greys believe alternate universes are impossible, even when the cast says point blank they've been to one.
  • Bald of Evil: F**k*r, much to the annoyance of his prime counterpart.
  • Beard of Evil: The nega-verse counterparts of Nick and Dwayne, based on the facial hair they wore in the Surreptitious Machinations arc before they were persuaded to shave it at the end.
  • Big Eater: Fooker, who has gotten banned from a few all-you-can-eat pizza places.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Trudy is exceptionally polite and good natured around most people besides Ki and Fooker.
    • Trish, or rather, Nega-Trish.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: The Grey culture is based on the power of the collective. Individual drones are not only not valued, but are routinely "revised" and mind-wiped. This gets Nick and Ki into major trouble as they try to retrieve an old version of Plank, potentially souring their relationship with the Grey High Command, whom humanity is completely reliant on for survival at the moment.
  • Brick Joke: This strip contains a throwaway joke about Planck being vice-president of Fred's fan club. More than three years later, we meet the other members of the club.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Fooker is able to do all his work for the day in only a fraction of the time, and spends the rest goofing off.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Ki and Yoshi, who have a Chinese mother and Japanese father. Ki's mother won a bet and got to give her a Chinese name, but Ki's father still commonly calls her "Kyoko-san".
  • Cat Fight: Ki and Trudy during the battle of New York. Also, Ki and Sharon when they're arguing about a project they're both working on.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The comic has more serious storylines in the third year, and Surreptitious Machinations was the first with a truly dark tone GPF burns down and goes out of business, Fooker gets framed for murder, Nick takes a job away from Ki, and in the alternate future, Trudy takes over the world and the rest of the cast gets killed.
    • This can be to an extent credited as the trope namer, as it was in a post about GPF that Burns coined the term. Of course, this post was about how GPF was an example of this trope gone horribly wrong.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Quite a lot of Chekhov's Gun.
    • The Skaboola's love for porn displayed very early on, which caused him to backup the whole Internet on data cubes.
    • The very same data cubes which might be instrumental in giving the MuTEX data it needs, and more recently reviving Planck's memories.
    • The "Friend Field" application, and its "blorp" notification sound. This ends up saving the day when the separated GPF cast can reach each other through their cell phones.
  • Continuity Porn: Oh so much.
    • The best example that even drags in very early events : Trent dropping a safe on Dwayne, and getting convicted for murder for it ends up biting him in the ass very hard, when trying to sue Fred for libel over claims that he is a murderer. Too bad, since he got convicted, this gets to stick.
    • Even poor Chuck does NOT get chucked away, 15 years down the road, Trudy still remembers him.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Patty confessing to the unconscious Dexter why she was leaving GPF. He turns out to have been awake for at least some of it.
  • CPR: Clean, Pretty, Reliable: Nick nearly drowns in a flood arc in 2001, and Ki gives him CPR. Although "just fine" initially, he does end up sick, slightly subverting the trope.
  • Crossover: Most notably with Kevin & Kell
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Fooker.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Chuck.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Hinted at for Trudy and Sharon.
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: One of the Mutex's capabilities.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Trudy.
  • Dysfunctional Family: Trudy's family.
  • Einstein Hair: Uncle Otto.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After putting up a sickeningly sweet facade around Dwayne, Trudy shakes hands with Ki, who is not one of the people Trudy wants to fool. Ki asks if she just shook hands with the devil and Trudy responds that she has that effect on "inferior life forms." Shortly thereafter, she has a literal Kick the Dog moment.
  • Fisher Kingdom: The characters change appearance when changing universes. Lampshaded here.
  • Foreshadowing: This comic is very good at it. Dropping hints of plot lines that will be acted upon years down the road.
    • Socrates' presence in the Bad Future, hinting at the existence of more slime molds than just Fred and Persephone.
    • Fred's mind control ability, hinting at something far bigger.
    • The Negaverse's war between the Greys and the Physarics foreshadows what could go down in the main universe, and also re-introduces Planck and Pi.
  • For Want of a Nail: Many of the Nega-verse counterparts in To Thine Own Self became different people from their primary universe counterparts as a result of a single event happening differently. The world goes on a different course because Nick and Ki decided to take over the world.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Lampshaded in this strip.
    • Ironically, this strip has an alien stating that humans use a base-10 numbering system because of their "manual digits", while clearly showing that Fooker has only four fingers to a hand.
  • Fun with Acronyms: C.R.U.D.E.
    • Nicole belongs to a law firm whose partners' first initials spell "S.U.E. E.M." During his attempts to find a lawyer to sue Fred for libel, Trent visits two firms whose names spell "S.U.C.K.E.R." and "D.E.A.D."
      Nicole (to her husband): But after Mr. Minsk retired and Mr. and Mrs. Edwards divorced and she left the firm, I've picked up their slack.
      Dwayne Duncan: Wait a minute. Your firm's acronym changed from "SUE 'EM" to "SUED"?
  • Future Me Scares Me: Trudy, after meeting Surreptitious Machinations' Empress Trudy.
  • Genius Ditz: Fooker.
  • Giggling Villain: Trudy.
  • Happily Married: Dwayne and his wife. Ki and Nick (so far).
  • Hate Sink: Victor Brown is slowly but certainly evolving in this, losing any whatsoever redeeming qualities. First, it would be easy to empathize with his plight of being dragged screaming into an intergalactic war with his family as hostages, and made into a puppet, then forced to watch as the whole planet is seemingly destroyed and the human race down to a hundred specimens, and regard his irrational hatred of Nick as a coping mechanism. But then it becomes harder to forgive the escalation in his behavior: first he refuses to take part in the search effort, then he outright sabotages the MuTEX because he is convinced that it's all fake and they're doomed anyways, running the risk of stranding a crew in another dimension, and it all comes to a climax as he tries to make good on his initial threat and shove Nick out of an airlock, and when called upon it by Trudy, his best answer is to use the B-word and say it's none of her business.
  • Hidden Depths: Dexter.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Nick trusts Trudy when most of the rest of the cast does not, but after realizing her true nature, decides to be less blindly trusting. Mr. Jones, one of GPF's clients, thinks that Fooker would be a good choice of a motivational speaker despite his Bunny-Ears Lawyer traits, thinks that Trudy was a good person who "fell in with the wrong crowd," and has a favorable impression of Trent.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Fooker tells Sharon to ignore her rival system administrators, but after they insult him, he tosses snowballs at them.
  • If I Can't Have You...: Trudy to Nick, word for word, at the climax of Surreptitious Machinations arc. Also the whole point of Surreptitious Machinations, as Empress Trudy killed Nick in the alternate future.
  • Improbably High I.Q.: Yoshi has an IQ of over 200. Fred is an aversion, since his IQ is quite high at 139, he had hoped for 70 more points.
  • Insatiable Newlyweds: Nick and Ki.
  • Irony: In this strip, Nick, regretting having trusted Trudy in addition to noticing a few flaws in Trish's story, decides not to trust Trish. At the same time, Ki, wondering if Nick's trusting nature might not be a bad thing and if she is too untrusting, decides to trust Trish.
  • It Came from the Fridge: Fred came about as a result of Fooker's horrible "housekeeping", and later produced Persephone.
  • Kick the Dog: One of our earliest hints that Trudy is more than just a StepfordSmiler ditz.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Fred taking control of Trent's body, forcing him to sexually harass Sharon, go into a meeting with a client only wearing a tablecloth, and go outside and get arrested for indecent exposure would come off as much worse if Trent wasn't a jerk without any redeeming qualities.
  • Kid from the Future: Todd (Nick and Ki's kid from an alternate timeline)
  • L33t L1ng0: Yoshi's Online Alias B0R0M1R.
  • Lets Wait Awhile: Nick and Ki deciding to put off sex until marriage.
  • Long Lost Siblings: Trudy and Sharon.
  • Look Both Ways: "Misty" doesn't.
  • Mad Scientist: Nick, his uncle Otto Wisebottom.
  • Missed the Call: The spy agency Fooker works for was originally looking to recruit his brother (said brother does eventually land a spot in said agency).
  • Mirror Self: The negaverse plotline has the main characters interact with their opposite selves. Trudy is an exception as she redeemed herself while the counterpart remained good (but almost sliding to the dark side.) There was also an arrangement to have Trudy switch places. (The swap was negated by the other Trudy sending the original back home by swapping a pin.)
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Done universally among the characters except when it's Eyes Always Shut for the character.
  • No Accounting for Taste: Sharon dating both Fooker and Dexter.
  • No Conservation of Energy: Played with. Everyone, including Nick himself, has a firm grasp on physics, and understand that Nick's device can't possibly be such a thing as a "free energy device", while accepting at face value that it does things that should otherwise be impossible. Ultimately revealed to be averted when the Gamester explains it all to Nick.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Fred and Persephone.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Trudy's supposed hippie father is an FBI agent investigating her mother's criminal activities.
  • Odd Friendship: Ki and Fooker.
  • Online Alias:
    • Nick and Ki find chat partners named Pookel and Gort, respectively, whom they both discover to be soulmates. It turns out much later that Nick has been Gort, and Ki has been Pookel all along.
    • Yoshi goes by the online handle B0R0M1R.
  • Only Sane Man: Dwayne.
  • Or Was It a Dream?: The arc in which Nick and Ki first see Fooker as a secret agent.
  • Parental Abandonment: Fooker and Justin's mother is dead, and their father left them years ago.
  • Plug 'n' Play Technology: While the Grays say their system is largely incompatible with Earth computers and that a software interface would be incredibly complex (with their programming language and architectures in Base 3 because it accounts for quantum calculations), Fooker is tasked with setting one up. He succeeds.
  • Puppeteer Parasite: Fred & Persephone.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The Year Eight mega-arc, "To Thine Own Self...", received major interruptions due to health issues with Darlington's then-newborn son. The arc drew out nearly two years, and even then was greatly curtailed.
    • It was probably because of this that there was no Year 12 mega-arc, though Year 12 did get two multi-month-long arcs.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Chuck, Nega-Ki. Averted with Trudy.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Victor Brown is turning into this, because of his inability to handle the whole situation and what Nick did, leaving him only with the result of being stranded in space, with the Earth impossible to find. It culminates with him acting on his threat of getting Nick Thrown Out the Airlock.
  • Ripple Effect Indicator: Todd uses himself.
  • Rousing Speech: Planck does one to the Grays in the Nega-verse, largely as a Shout-Out to Braveheart.
  • Running Gag: Early on, whenever Fooker and Ki bring up the idea that Trudy is evil, Nick doesn't believe them, noting "She gave me a nice card."
  • The Atoner: Trudy.
  • The Password Is Always "Swordfish": The password to the computers at a chocolate center is "Creamy Center."
  • The Short Guy with Glasses: Nick.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The objective of Surreptitious Machinations appears to be this, but Todd points out in his confrontation with the Empress that the Bad Future was never meant to happen, and could only have happened with the interference of Future Trudy, who would not have existed otherwise.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sinister Silhouettes: A popular choice to mask the bad guy for a few strips. Compare a mismatched silhouette, with a rather obvious one.
  • Smug Snake: Trent.
  • Snowball Fight: One breaks out when a few system administrators attack Sharon.
  • Stable Time Loop: Stopping one was Todd's ultimate objective in Surreptitious Machinations.
  • Stalker with a Test Tube: The Brotherhood Of The Twisted Pair want Fooker and Sharon to get busy conceiving "The One".
  • Stepford Smiler: Trudy.
  • Story Arc: Initially, Jeffrey Darlington wanted to do major story arcs every four years. Of course, the second one ended up dragging because of health issues with his first child, so the timing of story arcs is looser.
    • The first one, Surreptitious Machinations, was a year-long arc in November 2001-October 2002
    • The second one, To Thine Own Self, ended up taking two and a half years, November 2005-March 2008.
    • The third one, Scylla and Charybdis, took place in November 2013-October 2015.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Nick and his father have very similar hair.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Nick, regarding his offer for JCN. He's so shaken up he even denies it when he isn't even being directly asked about it.
  • Team Dad: Dwayne.
  • Trust-Building Blunder: Dwayne's decision to take several computer nerds on a team-building hike. He, being more of a businessman than a nerd, underestimates how badly suited his employees would be to it.
  • Virtual Reality Interrogation: Nick is subject to one, which, helped by sleep deprivation, is intended to convince him to divulge how to make Project Velociraptor. Unfortunately, Ki's counterpart makes a few mistakes and he sees through it.
  • What Could Possibly Go Wrong?: Asked in last panel of this strip.
  • Wham Episode: The "Infinity Nick" arc.
    • This comic has Gamester finally clue in Nick as to what he has been doing this whole time. It hurts.
  • Weekend Inventor: Nick.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Nick.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Fooker complains that "It's not fair. Guys should be allowed to hit girls in self defense," after recalling when Ki beat him up in their first meeting for making sexist remarks.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Ki's mother, up to and including making her husband sleep on the couch.
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle!: After the GPF/UGA/resistance team captures Emperor Nicholas and his inner circle and frees Nick, the Grays' enemies attack.


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