Great! follows the life of Lyle Phipps, a man who decides to reinvent himself following a series of crushing misfortunes, aiming to become "great". To this end he soon becomes involved with a family running the "greatest ramen shop in the world", and his life only becomes more and more strange from there.
Tropes in Great! include:
- The Ace: A main theme of the comic is what exactly being one means, and the complications therein.
- Arc Words: "I'm great!"
- Book-Ends: The first panel of the series is Lyle saying "Hello." to the reader. The last one is him saying "Goodbye."
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Lyle is inspired to become great after an infomercial suggests to him that by lying to himself about being great for long enough, it will eventually be true.
- Competence Zone: Lyle and Yukikos son, Barney, runs afoul of his trope. Its understandable that hed be The Load back when hes just a kid, but by the end hes got to be an adult (though the timeline is unclear) yet still needs to be rescued by his father.
- Early Installment Weirdness: Early on, Lyle murders an entire bar full of people using a stool. Though he never does anything this immoral again, he remains talented with a stool as a weapon for the rest of the story.
- The Epic
- Foreshadowing: The only time that Lyle is truly happy is during the six years of domestic bliss in which he is content to run a family-owned business with his wife and raise their child together. Carmichael offering to expand it into a big franchise ultimately leads to everything going From Bad to Worse until he is estranged from his loved ones and no longer pursuing his dream of being a ramen chef. At least, until he stumbles across his son again, saves him from a group of thugs, and then finds contentment operating a simple noodle stand in the park, having reconciled with his family. Which is pretty much what he was doing before.
- MayDecember Romance: Presumably between Lyle and Yukiko, since Lyle is a former office worker who had a failed first marriage, and Yukiko is around 18. They are very happy together, until Lyles envy over his wifes newfound talents destroys their marriage. In the Distant Finale, Yukiko is still middle-aged, but Lyle looks quite old.
- Put on a Bus: Lyle is the only constant in the story. Whenever anyone else fulfills their narrative purpose, theyre written out, even if their story isnt over. That said, many of them come Back for the Finale.
- Serious Business: Ramen. What else can you expect from the author of minus?
- So Last Season: After Yukiko surpasses Lyles cooking ability, everyone else finds his noodles completely revolting, even though they loved them before.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Yukikos father dies just after Lyle marries his daughter, and several years later in-universe, Carmichael dies the day after he negotiates a contract with Lyle. There is no indication beforehand that either are ill.
- To Be a Master: Lyle's ultimate goal. By the end, hes taken a page out of Diogenes of Sinopes book and realizes he was after the wrong thing all along.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Since characters disappear from the story once they cause Lyle to go on adventures again, this is a frequent occurrence. For instance, his Lancer from his street gang days admits that he just wants to settle down and become an actuary, at the time that Lyle disbands the gang and becomes a restaurateur. He and the gang arent heard from again until around 25 in-universe years later when Lyles son is threatened by some thugs. Even then, we never hear about his time as an actuary. Similarly, Yukiko and Lyle just fall out with Yukikos friends eventually. The biggest cases, though, are Lyles Jerkass manager and his first wife, who never appear again after the first page despite setting off the entire plot in the first place. Even after Lyle marries Yukiko, it is never mentioned that he had had a first wife.