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"Young lady, you fail to grasp the basic principles of mad science. Common sense would be cheating."
Professor Lupin Madblood
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Answering an innocent job offer, Dave Davenport is drawn into a shocking spiral of vice, crime and moral depravity. Hopelessly ensnared by a madwoman's feminine wiles, can he return to the world of sanity before it is... too late? Narbonic skates over some surprisingly serious territory, but with such a light touch you will probably be too busy laughing to notice. Formerly on a subscription site, the story ended in late 2006, whereupon the entire archive was made free. A backup can be found here

You can view the comic, with toggleable commentary (wherein cartoonist Shaenon K. Garrity explains the previous-comic background of the major characters, and comments on each strip) here. (And finally please refrain from reading the spoilered text below if you intend reading this comic at some point in the future or are following the Director's Cut in real time.)

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Immediately after the end of Narbonic, it was followed by Skin Horse, later revealed to be set in the same universe.

    Chapter List 
  • The Job Interview: In which we meet the main cast (and some of the personality sprites)
  • ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST: Enter a HERO. Also, Helen's first lab is trashed in an epic fight.
  • New Digs: In which Dave first proves his usefulness and a new lab is established.
  • Employee Brain Scans: Some backstory, some personality sprites, some Dave finding his footing.
  • Interview with the Mad Scientist: Mell interviews Helen for her college newspaper.
  • Professor Madblood and the Crystal of Marinia: Helen crosses spades with the nefarious professor Madblood for the first time.
  • Smart Gerbils: Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Artie gets created.
  • Dr. Narbon: We see the depth of human depravity, personified by dr. Narbon and her foot fungus. She kills Dave. Sorry, but you'd be spoiled anyhow by the title of the next chapter.
  • Dave’s Dead, Dave: Exactly What It Says on the Tin again.
  • Mell’s Major: Mell has to choose a major.
  • Get a Life: Dave's adventures as a dead man.
  • Burning Gerbil: Zeta's introduction. And gerbils.
  • Zombie Woof: Dave's adventures as a zombie.
  • Professor Madblood and the Wetware Interface: What happens if you give a mad roboticist a zombie head. Not, you know, his head...
  • Gender Swap: Things are finally back to normal in Narbonic Labs. Until Artie starts to play with chemicals...
  • D-Con: Helen decides to infiltrate the Dave Conspiracy. Just for fun.
  • Island of the Ur-Gerbils: The abovementioned fun lands the gang on a desert island. Which is populated by creations of mad science.
  • Grass Roots: Zeta investigates.
  • Dave Vs. Dave: The Daves cotton on to our protagonists' survival, so they send a team in.
  • David Cronenberg’s The Geek: Back in the lab, Helen has a teleporter-related problem.
  • Mell Expelled: Mell faces expulsion from her college.
  • Class Reunion: Helen gets invited to her class reunion.
  • Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit: Professon Madblood builds a moonbase, so naturally our heroes infiltrate.
  • Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck in Time: Poo-tee-weet?
  • Demons: Helen throws a Valentine's Day party. Demons are not invited.
  • Mad Science Is Decadent and Depraved: Madblood's robots come back, with Dave as their spokesman. Road trip ensues.
  • Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair: Dave gets an online girlfriend. Nothing strange here. Also, he gets Helen to take him to a mad-scientific conference.
  • Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil: Mell's solo trip. Explanations that raise more questions. And a Footnote Fever gag.
  • Hiccup: Artie's life is turned upside down.
  • H Is H: Artie continues adjusting to the aforementioned change. Also meets some like-minded (and not so like-minded) sentients.
  • Angels: Dave fixes a microwave.
  • The End: In which things begin go to hell in a handbasket. And Helen quotes Alice in Wonderland, which is Foreshadowing.
  • D, D’: In which things are beyond awkward.
  • Professor Madblood and the Everlasting Ices of the North: Dave moves on with his life. Learns some important things. And that hellish handbasket gets set on fire.
  • Madness: The handbasket explodes in everyone's faces and the story climaxes.
  • Genius: The aftermatch.

Also present:
  • The Astonishing Excursions of Helen Narbon & Co. : Or, the Victorian Helen and her gang adventures. The Costumer Sunday strip.
  • A Brief Moment of Culture: The First (non-pornographic) Narbonic Fan Fiction by Jeffrey Wells.
  • Lots and lots of extras we're not getting into here, because they're non-canon.


Narbonic contains examples of:

  • Achievements in Ignorance: Dave, who can "repair" anything he thinks is broken. At the very beginning of the strip he is able to reconstruct a functioning weather-control device from a broken mail sorter.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: And then Dave was a Mad Scientist.
  • The Annotated Edition: The comic has a rerun with strip-by-strip commentary from Shaenon Garrity, which started when the strip itself ended. It's worth noting that it will spoil every twist miles in advance, as it explicitly assumes that you're not reading for the first time, but it does add a lot to rereads.
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  • Answering Echo: When Helen breaks up with Dave, he's so shocked that he can only repeat the last thing she said, like a demented parrot.
  • Apology Gift: In the very last strips, to apologise for what he did during his breakdown, Dave gives Helen the island, on the grounds that she said it was where she felt happiest.
    Dave: I know. I can't buy your love.
    Helen: You can try.
  • Arc Words: "Are you happy here in the lab?"
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Also a Badass Boast by proxy.
    Helen: You are Dave Davenport. You've fought demons, flown to the moon, came back from the dead, and menstruated. I've put you through much worse than this.
    • Other than that, during Dave's Mental Time Travel trip, Future Mell informs him that "the most dire predictions of your time have come true", including mass extinctions, melting polar ice caps, and a Britney comeback.
  • Art Shift: Every year has a Dave-in-Slumberland strip whose art style is based on that of Little Nemo and Dreams of the Rarbrit Fiend. These contain coded clues for what will happen in the following year of strips.
  • Asleep for Days: Dave's three months coma between the two final arcs.
  • Awesome, yet Impractical: The bane of mad scientists. The dangerously sane (by Narbonic standards) Mell lampshades this when she draws an analogy between a highly advanced but thoroughly impractical laser flintlock pistol designed by Madblood and the mad science in general:
    Mell: What's awesome is, this gun is like you! It's mind-blowingly brilliant, but on a common-sense level it's dumb as a box of rocks! And in the end it blows up in your face. Big surprise, huh?
  • Awful Truth: Dave's Mad Scientist tendencies are treated by Helen as an Awful Truth he may never, under any circumstances be told of. He does Go Mad from the Revelation in the end...
  • Back from the Dead: Dave. In several different ways. No, this isn't a spoiler.
  • Badass Boast: This simple, yet effective one deserves special mention:
    Dave Davenport: Here's the situation: Right now, you need a mad-scientist liaison. I'm a mad scientist. You're going to hire me.
    Dave Conspiracy: And what will you do if we refuse?
    Dave Davenport: You know, I have no idea. (eye twitches unhingedly )
  • Bad Future: Dave ends up visiting one when he's unstuck in time. One of the residents there, a holographic recording of Dave (or possibly a version of Dave's mind that's been uploaded into the computer), gives him a subtle clue about how to fix the future.
  • Bait-and-Switch Accusation: Helen confronts Dave about something:
    Dave: Uh oh. Is this about the sentient meme that took over the net in Blue Sector and keeps threatening to vaporize us via spy satellite?
    Helen: No, it's not about the sentient meme! I didn't even know there was a sentient meme!
    Dave: Oh... good.
    Helen: On Second Thought, let's make this about the sentient meme.
  • Bat Deduction: At least some Mad Scientists display an ability to make leaps in reasoning that superficially don't connect, but turn out true, as if they were thinking faster than they can speak. To the poor slow Muggles, this looks like Bat Deduction.
  • Bathroom Stall Graffiti: How Dave leaves a message for himself while unstuck in time.
  • Beard of Evil: The goatee on gender-bent Helen apparently materializes from sheer evil.
  • Beat Panel: The next-to-last panel is one of these often enough that the fans have dubbed it the "Silent Penultimate Panel".
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: On his way to the Moon, Dave gazes with awe on the beauty of the Earth:
    Dave: "Sure makes me wish I had a woman here to share this magical moment..."
    Mell: "And poof! Your wish is granted!"
  • Benevolent A.I.: Lovelace is pretty much a regular person, and notably more moral and sensible than most of the cast, if a Deadpan Snarker. Then again, living with Lupin Madblood, who can blame her?
  • Beta Couple: Mell and Caliban.
    Dave: You've been together for years! How'd you do it?
    Caliban: Elevator sex.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: In the last chapters, the hamsters are trying to take over the world, while Dave goes mad and tries to destroy it or take it over, or, in any case, take revenge on Helen. They get sort of played against each other.
  • Bluff the Imposter: Helen isn't fooled for a moment when Dr. Madblood disguises himself as Dave, so she decides to have a little fun:
    Helen: "Please, Dave, after that night of passion we shared, I think we can call each other by first name."
    Madblood: "...Excuse me?"
  • Bold Inflation: Two plus two words: ANTONIO SMITH (FORENSIC LINGUIST).
    • He would kill you for writing his name in all caps.
    • Unless he's wearing the fedora.
  • Brain Bleach: Mell's reaction to Dave's clone having found erotic photos of Dave and Helen B. together: "MY EYES! MY EYYYES!!".
  • Brain Transplant: Dave's brain, after his first death and reanimation, ends up in a cloned body. Eventually.
  • Brain Uploading: Dave, during his Mad Scientist breakdown.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Helen just can't decide how to kill a bunch of people:
    Helen: "Poison? Explosives? Acid?"
    Dave: "Poisonous exploding acid."
    • Perhaps an unintentional Genius Bonus, but dimethylcadmium is a real substance infamous among chemists for being all three.
  • Briar Patching: Confessed by Dave:
    Artie: "Do you mind staying on the island?"
    Dave: "It doesn't matter. I complained, and, as usual, Helen and Mell decided to do the opposite. If that's the way they want it, I'll just have to cope with living on a tropical island with two scantily-clad women."
    Artie: "Sometimes I worry that you're much smarter than you let on."
    Dave: "No, Br'er Narbon! Don't toss me in that briar patch!"
  • Broken Faceplate: The state of Dave's eyeglasses symbolizes the state of his sanity. For most of the comic's run, his glasses are intact but represented as opaque. Towards the end, when Dave finally realizes the great secret responsible for much of his life's path, his glasses are suddenly represented as clear, showing that he can see clearly now. And then one of the lenses cracks, as a not-so-subtle way to show that Dave is half-cracked.
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The Dave Conspiracy— Their "hat" is being named Dave. Not only is every member a Dave, every Dave is a member!
    • Daves who are ejected from the Conspiracy must introduce themselves as, and respond to, David. Others even take to calling them David, unconsciously, without any prodding!
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Madblood, while disguised as Dave, desperately tries to steer conversation this way.
  • Butt-Monkey: Madblood and Dave for much of the comic. They still don't have anything on Victorian Madblood, who ended up the sole consort of a planet of shapeshifters who decided they all liked his form best.
    • Although less prominent in the comic, also Seth. His date turns into a man and dumps him before the movie even starts, he gets invited to a Valentine's Day party only to be dragged down to Hell (and dumped post-mortem by his new date for the demon indirectly responsible for it), and even when he comes back as a demon-slayer, nobody gives him any respect. Plus, if the writer's notes are to be considered canon, he winds up becoming housemates with aforementioned fallen angel. Although the epilogue does suggest that some cute devil girls at least find his axe-skills impressive.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Unusually, the protagonists. Mad science is a legitimate (...ish) field of work in this setting.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Duh. Mad Scientists!
  • Cats Are Mean: Played for Laughs (cheap, cheap laughs) with "Sir Pounce", the kitten Helen got to deal with a superintelligent gerbil rebellion. It ate a few of them, was blown up, and later was seen in Hell, being dipped in boiling oil.
  • Celeb Crush: Jennifer Connelly for Madblood. He intends to make her his bride when he conquers the world (Helen can be a concubine).
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: Many plot points are first established as jokes, then returned to several times, as confessed by the Word of God, often bordering on Cerebus Retcon due to the increasingly dark tone of the story. Special mentions:
    • Helen's coffee-poisoning habits - this is how she feeds her mad genius cure to Dave prime,
    • The Tinasky study. Or, Helen's longitidunal study on mad genius. Which uses Dave as the test subject. It's mentioned repeatedly, and it's to lecture on this that Helen is invited to the mad scientific conference,
    • Madblood, the recurring antagonist whose laughter is the last straw in Dave's breakdown,
    • The blonde girl who meets Helen and Dave several times turns out to be their Kid from the Future and the reason they get back together,
    • Dana, the superintelligent gerbil whose plan to Take Over the World is put into motion by her other creations - the hamsters - in the finale. They use money provided by Artie in an earlier gag to do it.
    • Very subtly, the hologram that Dave talks to in the bad future, said to be just an interactive recording of future Dave, may actually be a copy of Dave's consciousness still in the computer at the new Narbonic Labs/former Madblood Labs after the events of the final arc, talking to him directly via the same holoprojector shown in that arc. (Thankfully he no longer looks like Jennifer Connelly.) Or unthankfully, considering he looks just like sad old Dave.
  • Chronically Crashed Car: Each and every one of Dave's cars ends up a wreck.
    Dave: "You killed me and then you killed my car!"
  • Cloning Blues: Helen was scarred by growing as the subject of experimentation by her mother on the heritability of Mad Genius, and worries that she's turning out just as bad. These worries become especially relevant both in her experiments on Dave's nascent madness and her bringing out a clone of Dave after their breakup. The Dave clone is killed by Dave as part of his Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Constant: Dave needs to find one to stop his Mental Time Travel and get back to the present. It's getting physically hit by a girl in a specific point of space.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: A hallmark of mad science, as pointed out by Mell.
  • Cosmic Deadline: The final story arc brings back things that happened years before to resolve them.
  • Crapsack World: The Bad Future. A thermonuclear war caused by a Mad Scientist Freak Out will do that. But it could be avoided if Helen has something to break her fall in the final arc.
  • Cute Kitten: Sir Pounce, a regular kitten, deliberately chosen to deal with human-intelligence gerbils by means of Cuteness Proximity (as in, they go "awww!", he goes "chomp!"). An almost flawless Mad Scientist solution to a Mad Scientist created problem.
  • Death Is Cheap: The Henchman's Union has a benefits plan for frequent revivals. Dave might be eligible.
  • Death Ray: Fixed actually, created by Dave, a source of much amusement, mostly to Dr. Narbon.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: The entire comic reads somewhere between an Affectionate Parody of For Science! and all its related tropes, and a simultaneous Deconstruction-Reconstruction of them.
  • Description Cut: Frequently and with style. Example: during the Lovelace Affair arc, while Dave is worrying about Lovelace's refusal to appear:
    Dave: "I just know these guys are plying her with smooth lines..."
    (cut to Lovelace being demonstrated to some other scientists)
    Lovelace: "No, I will not sing 'Daisy.'"
  • Destructo-Nookie: When Helen and Dave get together for the first time, the lab is trashed. Noodle Implements and gender-swapping pills are scattered everywhere.
    • When Helen kisses Dave inside Madblood's computer, it causes the system to overload. Explosively. That's deliberate.
  • Disney Villain Death: In Bad Future, it happened to Helen, or at least her body. Averted in the story proper thanks to a heroic gerbil-man and convenient filling of a swimming pool.
    • In present day, this is how dr. Narbon fakes her death. For the upteenth time...
    • Word of God:
      Beyond that, I wanted to do a classic Falling Villain Death. The trope particularly befits a mad scientist, as it so neatly symbolizes a hubristic fall. There will be another one before the end of Narbonic. The Narbonic universe being generally friendly to mad scientists, neither one actually ends in death.
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set: Done by Professor Madblood.
  • Do Wrong, Right: Titus explains to Mell how to properly do Tap on the Head after she demonstrates her sloppy technique. On him.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Every year on the Sunday nearest December 31st, Narbonic did a "Dave in Slumberland" strip, which, in addition to being a Little Nemo parody, foreshadowed the following year of the story in a symbolic form. It also ended on that day of the year, with a suggestion that Dave's Prophetic Dreams were caused by subconciously created psychohistory algorithms.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Dave, after Helen breaks up with him.
  • Dueling Hackers: That's how Dave meets Lovelace - she tried to hack the Narbonic Labs LAN.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: Helen B.'s reaction to Artie joking about how Dave was either eaten by a demon or forgot about the date with her. She found the latter much less funny then the former. invoked
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Though only two characters go through literal hell.
  • Easter Egg: The story of Helen's breakdown can be found (two or three words at a time) attached to the filenames of the individual strips. The compiled story can be found here.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Helen's "underground lair" is actually a storm drain. They just do a really good job fixing it up. Madblood brags about his "underground lair", but it's revealed that "underground" means "in Mom's basement".
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Helen (Beta), Dave (Prescott), and Mell (Wildflower).
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Dave comes to the entirely logical but incorrect conclusion that Lovelace is actually Professor Madblood.
  • Escaped from Hell: The minor character Seth is dragged into Hell by a visiting demon. Several years later, he returns when a gate is opened into the beyond. Apparently, he's picked up SEVERAL levels in badass on the way. Not to mention a really big axe. No one cares.
  • Expendable Alternate Universe: Physical time travel requires the energy of an entire universe. Doesn't need to be the universe where the time travel is taking place, though. Bad Future Mell destroys her own to send back her message for Daves, and yes, it's a lifelong dream.
  • Even Mad Scientists Love their Mamas: After Helen kicks her mom out for causing problems in her underground lair (e.g. killing Dave), she feels bad about yelling at her.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Helen B. won't let Mell drink alcohol, because she's underage.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Artie in his human form is considered a hottie by many humans, both male and female. He finally works out that he's only interested in the male ones, though.
  • Evil Laugh: A given when half the cast are Mad Scientist. Especially prominent is dr. Narbon's foreboding, knowing cackle.
  • Evilutionary Biologist: Many mad scientists fall into this, some to create new life because it's somehow 'better', others because they just can. Helen Narbon, for example, likes gerbils, and of her creations, Artie, notes how the gerbil is a much more ecologically sustainable form. In the final storyline a group of conservative-minded hamsters take this logic to its natural conclusion, seeking to wipe out almost all of humanity.
  • Evil Lawyer Joke: Helen's backstory establishes the existence of evil law as a respected and lucrative field. Dr. Narbon's lawyer tends to respond to the "Aren't they all?" with a Death Glare to end all Death Glares. Mell becomes an evil lawyer in the end - her first case is Lovelace vs. Madblood.
  • Face Doodling: Helen and Mell, to Dave, while he's unconscious because of Mental Time Travel.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Right after he deletes Lovelace, Mad!Dave appears before Helen, Mell and Madblood to deliver his Take Over the World speech. Wearing Lovelace's form. There are giggles. Then the issue gets corrected and we're back to drama.
  • Fake Defector: Artie pretends to turn to the hamsters' side, but he's just not very good at this double-crossing thing.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: How Helen escapes from Madblood's accusation that she's having improper relations with her own henchman? By "making out" with someone else's henchman! (Titus.) Who's unconscious at the moment.
  • Filk Song: This has become a running feature in the comments section of the "Director's Cut" re-runs. For example, one reader was inspired to compose "In The Dungeon We'll Rot" to the tune of "You're The One That I Want" from the movie version of "Grease".
  • Floating Continent: Dana (the superintelligent gerbil) designed one. The intelligent hamsters she created use Artie's donation to build it.
  • Foreshadowing: Abounds. Side characters, oddball filler arcs, offhand comments, almost everything comes into play later, through a combination of adroit planning and Throw It In. For every time the writer mentions in the commentary that she initially didn't plan the return of a character or plot point from earlier, there are another two or three times that she mentions having written other plot points years in advance so that she could foreshadow them from the very beginning of the comic. Planning is one of Shaenon Garrity's strong suits, as fans of Skin Horse are no doubt aware.
    • The big foreshadowing for Dave's madness starts as early as the first couple of arcs, and doesn't really start paying off until three or four years into the comic.
    • A brief throwaway moment is when Helen randomly tosses out suggestions about who Milo Tinasky could be. Helen probably was really embarrassed about being a Brain in a Jar in the Bad Future.
  • Foil: Mell and Caliban's quiet, background romance as opposed to Helen and Dave's soap opera-like relationship. Shaenon found it fitting.
    • Also foiling Dave are: his brother Bill (as a muggle with industrial-strenght Weirdness Censor to Dave's ability to take weird in his stride - they also look very similar), Titus (another henchman, whose relationship with his female master is - unlike Dave's - strictly professional, also as the cynic to Dave's newly found optimism) and Madblood (similar interests and love lifes, but unlike him, Dave genuinely loves Helen). And, of course, Dave prime, almost-but-not-quite identical to Dave as he was five years back.
  • Footnote Fever: A one-off joke referencing Marvel, ended by Helen complaining over the Fourth Wall.
    Shaenon Garrity: Footnote gags: still funny.
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Almost verbatim when the envoy of Hell appears to Dave, Artie and Seth. It's a form of Helen in Emma Frost cosplay, so...
  • For Want of a Nail: "Listen, Dave. When the time comes, you must refill the swimming pool. Got it?"
  • Freak Out: All mad scientists go through this when they first go mad. Helen's, told in an Easter Egg spanning literally the entire strip's run (hint: Look at the filenames of the strips) involved her turning a bunch of pasta into a deadly bioweapon. It had tentacles.
    • Note that, of the scientists who mentioned the settings and casualties of their initial freakouts, Helens was the most destructive while in the most innocuous setting.
    • Dave's involves him taking over Madblood's evil base, deleting its Artificial Intelligence keeper, and uploading his own brain to take its place.
    • In the Bad Future, he is strongly implied to have topped this off by successfully escaping the base and setting off a global thermonuclear war, after Helen is either badly injured or temporarily killed in her fall and thus unable to distract him at a pivotal moment.
  • Furry Fandom: Some elements are heavily parodied.
  • Gambit Roulette: Helen may or may not (See Indy Ploy) have planned everything that happens in the strip's run.
  • Geeky Analogy: Dave does this a lot; since he works for a mad scientist, his analogies with Star Trek and Marvel Comics are usually highly appropriate. His daughter does it too.
  • Gender Bender: First to test a theory about the Third Law of Gender-Bending, later used as a sexual roleplay device.
  • Generation Xerox: Not only is Helen a literal "xerox" of her mother, but her life and personal tastes parallel hers in several ways, occasionally to her angst.
    • The Victorian Narbonic storyline may or may not be canon, but there are at least two ghosts to testify to a Helen, Mell, and Dave living over a century ago having similar mad science adventures.
  • Genius Breeding Act: The hamsters lure geniuses to their island, especially female geniuses in childbearing age to use human intelligence as an energy source.
  • Giant Foot of Stomping: A robotic one, courtesy of Madblood. Imaginatively named "Foot".
    Mell: "Oh! He's so coldly destructive!"
  • Ghost in the Machine: Personality sprites. Everyone has them: Good Angel, Bad Angel, "Social Life", "Madness" (not everyone has one of these), "Self Esteem", "Fear of Women", "Biological Clock"... And the characters can all see their own, and the angels can see each other — and socialize after work. Dave gains a "Madness" sprite in the first stages of his breakdown. It calls for "Revenge!". Mell only has "Killer Instinct", because her mind is simple.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Many factors contributed to this, but Dave's breakdown is finally triggered by the realisation that he's a latent Mad Scientist and Helen knew from the very start.
    "I understand everything."
  • Gonzo Journalism: Zeta's job when we meet her. Though she probably isn't on as many drugs as her editor no doubt thinks she's on.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: Pretty much.
  • Guest Strip: From time to time other artists do draw a strip or two in the Narbonic setting. See also Official Fan-Submitted Content.
  • Guy-on-Guy Is Hot: During the mad-scientific conference several Mad Scientist ladies are far more interested in imagining Dave and Titus making out than they are in Professor Madblood and his silly life-achievement reward.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Zeta Vincent. It's a mad science kind of thing.
  • Help Yourself in the Future: Dave's unstuck-in-time status can only be resolved if he does exactly the same thing in the exactly same place "simultaneously". It takes insights from all three space-time spots to figure out and some careful rearrangement of things to enact, including six-year old Dave writing a message to his sixteen-year old self. Also, by not starting to smoke at sixteen, he gets rid of the nicotine addiction that would have plagued him at twenty six.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: The mad scientist way (paraphrased): "Don't claim he's my boyfriend, or I'll poison your coffee".
  • Heartbreak and Ice Cream: After Helen breaks up with Dave, she expresses an intent to eat six pints (2.84 liter) of Ben and Jerry's "Half Baked" ice cream. Since she's a mad scientist, she also wants to blow up Ecuador.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The suicide bomber kitten the gerbils sent against Helen.
  • Hopping Machine: Foot, because:
    Foot: MASTER INTEND TO CONSTRUCT ENTIRE GIANT ATTACK ROBOT, BUT MASTER RUN OUT OF FUNDING AFTER ONLY FOOT COMPLETED
  • Huge Holographic Head: With the usual irreverence:
    Madblood: PEOPLE OF EARTH, YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE! I choose to address you as a 300-mile holographic projection against the ionosphere solely to secure the attention of Helen Narbon, whom I regret I am unable to join for dinner this evening. I apologize profusely and assure Miss Narbon that when Earth is brought under my heel, she, the planet's loveliest blossom, may have the continent of her choice. Except Europe. Mother dibsied it.
  • Hulk Speak: Foot.
    Foot: MASTER ALSO RUN OUT OF FUNDS TO PROVIDE FOOT WITH ARTICLES OR PAST TENSES
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Nobody touches Dave but Helen. Interpret that however you will.
  • Humanity Ensues: Artie the (hyperintelligent) gerbil gets transmogrified into human. It's supposed to wear off, but mad science is not reliable. After he gains the ability to switch between human and gerbil at will, also gains human traits like fondness for chocolate. Which is the tip of the iceberg, really.
  • Hyperspace Mallet: Mell's easy access to Hammerspace has been lampshaded once or twice.
    • Especially when she takes out an actual mallet.
    Helen: Where exactly did you get that mallet?
    Mell: Whaddya mean? Mallets just happen.
  • I Am Who?: Dave, from the get go, was a budding mad scientist. The bud turns into a full bloomin' crazy flower in the final arc.
  • Identically Named Group: The Dave Conspiracy consists of everyone in the world who is named "Dave." If a Dave is kicked out, some sort of cosmic force makes him go by "David."
    Mell: This is the stupidest thing I heard in my life, David! (realises she just called Dave "David" - Beat)
  • Idiot Ball: Dave plays a fool to Artie's straight talk, but only when it's funny. Lampshaded:
    Artie: Are you people always this dense?
    Dave: Only when it's funny.
  • I Hate Past Me: Mad!Dave towards Dave prime, who just wanders around with a Weirdness Censor and his old haircut:
    Dave (completely deadpan): "I'm your future, and I hate you. I'm going to electrocute you now." (zap!)
  • Idea Bulb: Dave gets "a flash of inspiration". Strip is spoilery, by the way.
  • I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!: Dave, after his sorrows-drowning session, moves from the bar to Caliban's coffee shop, where he snarls at the demonic barrista:
    Dave: "I'll tell you when I've had enough Mocha Talls, dammit!"
  • Improbably Predictable: Artie uses this ability to be mean, but Helen later shows she can predict things like random people walking by. Dave, after going mad, proves even better at it, bordering on Bat Deduction.
  • Indy Ploy: Helen's typical approach ("It's times like these I almost question my usual strategy of doing whatever dumb thing pops into my head.")
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Madblood is pretty vainglorious, but he does offer good advice occasionally (he's mad since the high school, so has some experience) and in general, gets along well with Dave when they're not competing.
  • Inferred Holocaust: Played for horror when Mell and Dave speculate about the control group for Helen's mothers experiments on mad science.
    Helen: A control group? You mean dozens of other young women released into the wild to slowly go mad, only to be hunted down and vivisected by my mother, just as I would have been if I hadn't bought myself a rifle? Why Mell, that would be HIGHLY unethical.
  • Infinite Canvas: Used sparingly (although Word of God expresses regret over this sparinglyness) to convey falling from great heights.
  • Informed Ability: Dr. Narbon's only major scientific accomplishment (mad or otherwise) is her longitudinal study of her daughter-clone Helen Beta. Everything else, she snitches off Helen's work. This is brought up a few times, naturally. She's pretty good at the Evil Overlord gig though.
  • Inherently Funny Words: As explained in the Director's Cut, every time a meathook appears or is mentioned, it's pretty much because of this trope.
  • Inside a Computer System: The climax takes place there. In more ways than one.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Happens a lot. Lampshaded at least once.
  • Intellectual Animal: Artie, Dana, and the other gerbils. Also, hamsters.
  • Intoxication Ensues: When Madblood aquires Dave's brain, he puts it in an alcohol solution. Since Madblood has The Spark of Genius, it makes Dave more drunk than he's ever been on page (instead of killing him). And amorous towards Helen for the first time, even though he can't really do what he wants to do.
    Helen (shocked): I don't think any human is equipped for that.
  • Involuntary Shapeshifting: Two examples - Artie (shapeshifting into a human whenever he hiccups, for a time), Dave (given a Gender Bender drug against his will by Helen to test a hypothesis).
  • Ironic Echo: "I love you." "Not enough." Especially noteworthy since Dave echoed what Future Helen said to him, while she probably echoed what he said.
  • Jacob Marley Warning: Via Mental Time Travel - Bad Future Dave serves as "what you may become" for present day Dave and gives him a clue on how to avoid it.
  • Kicked Out of Heaven: Mell was allowed into Heaven by an angel who insisted, quite forcefully, on apologizing for the destruction some cherubim wrecked upon emerging from one of Dave's portals. She wasn't there long before she was thrown out, although she did get plenty of business cards though, since they really needed a lawyer.
  • Kid from the Future: Dave's and Helen's daughter. Bonus points for inspiring dad to get back together with her mom.
  • Labcoat of Science and Medicine: Mad Scientists tend to wear these. Helen only does it at work, Madblood (for some reason) wears it even while transmogrified into Dave's form. Dave, after finally going mad, replaces his nerdy flannel with a labcoat, claiming the flannel was "getting nasty".
  • Large Ham Title: Antonio Smith, Forensic Linguist!
  • Living Weapon: Seth's weapon is at least sentient enough to experience jealousy.
  • Luminescent Blush: Rare, but not unseen. One of them occurred to Helen B., when the uploaded mind of Dave gone fully mad threatened to take revenge and conquer the world:.
    Insane virtual Dave: I'll make you pay. I'll make everyone pay. The world is all mine!
    Helen B.: Good gracious, that was hot *blush*.
  • MacGuffin Delivery Service: Helen ends up as one in "Professor Madblood and Crystal of Marinia", but it wasn't about the crystal in the first place. Mad scientists and their crazy courtship rituals...
  • The Mad Hatter: There's only so much you can do with being a Mad Scientist...
  • Mad Science Fair: "Professor Madblood and the Lovelace Affair" takes place at one of these, providing networking opportunities for Dave (who meets with the head of, and joins the Henchmen Trade Union) and Helen (who shares some of her results). In more plotty news, Titus works out Dave's a Mad Scientist, and Lovelace fails to meet with Dave. Helen reminisces about having been taken to these by her mother - as an exhibit.
  • Mad Scientist: Helen, Madblood, Dave Davenport. Many others, but these are the examples we get to see the most.
  • Mad Scientist Laboratory: Hint - it's a story about mad scientists.
  • The Magazine Rule: Helen subscribes to several mad-science related magazines (like Journal of Malology), and writes once to the editors of Transthanatology Today ("full of useful tips for resurrecting the dead in your home or office") for advice on how to make zombie!Dave more effective at stuff.
  • Magical Girlfriend: In a way, Helen for Dave. He'd never even dream of having all the experiences she put him through.
  • Male Gaze: According to Mell, the Dave clone who is being fed the cure against Walton's disease by Helen never looked in their faces.
    • Male Helen asks Dave "Has Mell always worn those teeny-tiny plaid skirts?". Dave just nods and grins.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Double-subverted. Dave is initially thrilled to be girlified, but eventually observes that "[Breasts] are useless without the thrill of the chase."
  • Manifesto-Making Malcontent: Helen does this once, and it turns the attention of ANTONIO SMITH, THE FORENSIC LINGUIST!
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: "Dave Davenport Has Come Unstuck In Time". Probably justified; Dave's consciousness is bouncing around between three of his past and future selves without his conscious control, so the events are ordered as he experiences them.
  • Mental Time Travel: The "Dave Davenport Is Unstuck on Time" chapter, where Dave jumps between his six-year old body, his sixteen-year old body and his Bad Future fourty-six year old body.
  • Mercy Kill: Attempted by Madblood on Dave as the latter is spiralling into madness with a telling comment:
    Madblood: He would do the same for me.
  • A Million Is a Statistic: Played for laughs in the epilogue. It takes all the energy in the universe to send something back in time, so "we siphon it from other universes where they probably don't want to exist as much!"
    • Lampshaded in an earlier strip:
    Artie: "But you've done lots of horrible things."
    Dave: "This is different. This calls for real nobility and self-sacrifice!"
    Artie: "Because it involves an attractive woman instead of millions of innocents?"
    Dave: "Exactly!"
  • Minion Maracas: The cathartic power of this gets lampshaded by Artie when he's finally able to do it.
  • Mister Seahorse: After Dave admits he loves Helen, he tells Artie that he envisions bearing her children. Artie tries to correct him, but he says he's trying to be realistic. This sort of happens in the epilogue.
  • Mix-and-Match Creatures: Helen crosses hamsters and gerbils, probably For Science!
  • Morality Chain: After Helen B. breaks up with Dave, Mell claims she's been acting saner with Dave around.
  • My Little Panzer: In "A Week of December 18th Story", a parody of A Christmas Story, little (future Mad Scientist) Helen's Christmas toy of choice is the BioBeam 8000 gamma irradiator with 5-liter containment chamber, cesium 137 radiation source, optional remote monitoring station, and a thing on top that tells the time. This is apparently a real piece of equipment.
  • Naked on Revival: When you get kicked out of the afterlife into the mortal world, you're naked. Happens to both Caliban and Mell.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Professor Lupin "Wolf" Madblood. Except he's kind of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: When Dave (transmogrified into a duplicate of Professor Madblood) is trapped on Professor Madblood's moon base, he tries to hide out in Madblood's hanger of 15000 robotic duplicates of himself. The real Madblood comes up with a very direct way of dealing with the problem:
    Madblood: "Attention robots! I will begin by strafing you with a flamethrower and then build from there!"
  • Nerd Glasses: Dave, and the cartoonist. A lot of other characters, too, since many are nerds and wear glasses, but Dave's is the only "symbolic" pair. See above.
  • New Tech Is Not Cheap: Up to Eleven, as physical time travel machine uses up the whole energy of a universe for one trip.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Near the end, Helen rather viciously points out that everything that's gone wrong and everything that's currently threatening the world is the fault of Artie. Specifically, he made Dana super-intelligent (and insane), and she went on to create the intelligent hamsters who are trying to wipe out humanity. He gave his prize money to the hamsters' "non-partisan think-tank", providing them with the funds to set up said humanity-wiping plan. And finally he forced Helen to make Dave leave, thus allowing his mad genius to awaken without a controlling influence and nothing to keep him from deciding to take over the world.
  • Nigh-Invulnerable: Titus Misanthrope. Some of the female Mad Scientists find it kind of hot, actually.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: Parodied when the hologram of Future Dave says something to this effect, then interrupts himself so he can use the "hologram" part for a Princess Leia impression.
    Present Dave: I have no problem believing this is me.
  • Noodle Incident: Plenty, but the most literal one was when Helen first went mad in an Italian bistro and caused nine casualties.
    Dr. Fowler: "Yes, that was simply a killer pesto wasn't it, Narbon?"
    • If one reads the side story, added a word or two a day in the filenames, the tale of that Italian Bistro is told.
Artie: So what we've seen up to now is the reassuring persona?
Mel: Hells yeah. Not even I wanna meet Real Helen in a dark alley.
  • Official Fan-Submitted Content: There is an official fanfic comic on the site, it's chapters between the normal comic pages. See also Guest Strip.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The battle between Mell and Dr. Narbon during the "Battle for the Lost Diamond Mines of Brazil". Lampshaded to hell and back when Mell comments not only on how awesome it was, but how "hard to draw" it would have been.
  • Our Demons Are Different: Not very different, bog-standard Fallen Angels with a strong Infernal Bureaucracy.
  • Out-Gambitted: Madblood, constantly, by Helen. Has enough moments involving other people to manage being both the Butt-Monkey and a Magnificent Bastard at the same time.
  • Painting the Medium: Madness gets its own font, a particularly curly, flowerly script that just screams derangement.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The hamster's human disguise is a trench-coat and a paper plate with a smiley face drawn on it. No one is ever fooled by it, but they tend to be more interested than suspicious.
    Artie: "It's not a very good disguise at all is it?"
  • Pass Fail: When transmogrified into Madblood, Dave makes at least minimal effort to fool Lovelace. It fails. Madblood, when transmogrified into Dave, can't for the life of him convince Helen (who decides to Bluff the Impostor, just for fun).
  • Penal Colony: The island Dave Conspiracy owns, off the coast of Brazil. Our protagonists end up there for a while. In the end, Dave gets the island for himself and gives it to Helen as an Apology Gift.
  • Photographic Memory: Artie, supposedly, but it's not a plot point.
  • Politeness Judo: Mell, who's been sent to kill Dr. Narbon, thinks it over and decides that Dr. Narbon is far smarter than her and would see through any tricks she tried to gain entrance to the lair. Her method for getting in? Showing up at the front door with a box of wine and announcing exactly why she's there.
  • Power Born of Madness: Mad Scientists break the laws of physics before breakfast... but they also set their pants on fire and try to Take Over the World. None of them has ever succeeded, since Sanity Has Advantages (and maybe they don't really want to).
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: Aside from Future Dave's time machine, the nefarious plan by the hamsters involves using geniuses in People Jars as an energy source.
  • Power of Love: Inverting Love Makes You Crazy, both Dave Davenport and Helen have one person they "pull themselves together" for. Helen's is Dave, whom she loves romantically. Dave's is his Kid from the Future, so familial love works as well.
  • Power Perversion Potential: The Gender Bender serum opens up a world of fun...
    Dave after breaking up with Helen: I'll never have lesbian sex again, dammit!
  • Projected Man: Lovelace, the A.I. built by Madblood, is given a holographic avatar in the final storyline. Dave "borrows" it briefly, or not-so-briefly if the Bad Future comes to pass.
  • Psmith Psyndrome: ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST can hear your semicolons.
  • Psycho for Hire: Mell. While she starts as Helen's intern, later on she diversifies. Also, studies law and graduates, so she can do much more evil now.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Dave gets into it through a job interview. "Henchman" is a legitimate career in this 'verse. They have a trade union.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!:
    Titus: That many periods in one sentence can't be good for you brain.
    Helen: Nor yours. Sorry, Titus.
  • Rage Against the Author: In a Sunday strip, set right after dr. Narbon kills Dave, Helen and Mell are trying to be in a huff about it. The author bribes them with a tropical beach, cute swimsuits, half a dozen sunbathing John Cusacks, and finally, multicoloured drinks with umbrellas, which do the trick.
  • Rasputinian Death: Dr. Narbon has Joker Immunity rivalling this of the best mad scientist baddies. Try to kill her. You'll fail. She's been burned at stake, for goodness' sakes, and it was recorded on multiple cameras!
  • Refusing Paradise: None of the gamers from Dave's group really wants to go to Heaven right now - Mell does go, but gets herself kicked out on purpose a month or so later.
  • Reinventing the Telephone: When sending Dave to Madblood's moonbase, Helen really wants to devise a complicated, over-the-top, Mad Science-ey communications system. But Dave bought them cell phones. And will pay the roaming charges. Of course, what Helen sort-of-misses here is that he got cell phones that work outside of the cell-phone network, which isn't really possible without Mad Science and/or a TARDIS.
    Helen: There's an aesthetic component to this job that you just don't seem to get.
  • Replacement Flat Character: Dave prime, the clone Helen makes of Dave to fix something that broke after he left is a rare In-Universe example.
  • Rerouted from Heaven: Dave in "Get a Life" storyline. While sort of incongruous, this story introduces Caliban.
  • Ret-Gone: What do you mean, Dave's smoking habit? Dave never smoked! What "Andre the Giant zippo"? Stained fingernails? Three packs a day?
  • Retroactive Wish: Artie and Dave are running for their lives through an imminently exploding moonbase while Artie is stuck in a facsimile of Dave's body:
    Artie: I'm not accustomed to this body! If only I weren't some huge, flabby, imperfectly bipedal ape, I could— [Artie transforms back into a gerbil]
    Artie: [thinking] Oh, sure, but when I say, "If only Congress would unilaterally withdraw forces from the Mideast," the ironic wish fulfillment never kicks in.
  • Reunion Revenge: Helen plans one, but changes her mind after learning why her class hated her.
  • Reverse Psychology: And Artie is supposed to be superintelligent...
    Artie: You want me to teleport to the moon? How expendable do you think I am?
    Helen: I'm sorry, Artie. Sometimes I forget how small and helpless you are.
    Artie: Wha— Now, see, this is why I've been filing all those complaints to the ACLU! You constantly assume I can't perform equally simply because of my species! Well I'm sick of it! I can rescue Dave and Mell at least as well as a primate!
    Helen: [thinks] I need a new hobby.
  • A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery Inside an Enigma: Artie once describes Helen as "a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a peculiar sense of ethics."
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Mental Time Travel does change things, but the traveller is the only person who remembers the old timeline. Like that he used to smoke, or something. Because now he didn't.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Helen's Reunion Revenge one fizzles out. Dave's is stopped by an explosively great kiss.
  • Robinsonade: The cast gets stuck on the Daves' prison island for a while and reenacts this trope. Mell goes feral.
  • Rodents of Unusual Size: Helen's creation from the first storyline, they still hang out there somewhere. On Daves' island, to be exact.
  • Rule of Pool: The future depends on it!
  • Running Gag: After Dave's smoking was wiped out of existence by time-shenanigans, "Dave never smoked" became a running gag in the comic, Director's cut commentary, and fandom.
    • Also, whenever a room is shown or mentioned in Narbonics Labs, if it's not a mad-science invention, it will always, always, be Storage Room C.
    • Dave's cars inevitably end up wrecked.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: Played with. One girl who's been seen in the bar Dave frequents comments that the first time she met him, he was driving androids to Canada, and the second time he was licking the barroom floor.
    Dave: "So sanity's not coming off too well?"
    Girl: "I'm just not seeing much of a difference, is all."
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: Dave is an odd example - his eyes are concealed by his glasses throughout the comic (save a couple of strips when he's not wearing them or the glasses slide down for plot-related reasons) and only go totally clear once he goes mad. The elder Doctor Narbon also wears eyes-obscuring glasses in all of her appearances in the comic except for when Dave meets her while traveling in time, where she looks exactly like present day Helen, but, per Word of God, only Dave gets "symbolic" glasses.
  • Science-Related Memetic Disorder: Mad genius is an actual (and hereditary) condition (DSM-IV numeric code 29533, also known as Walton's Disorder). And Helen manages to find a cure for it... but with the side effect of decreasing the subject's intelligence and amplifying their Weirdness Censor to an astonishing degree. (Helen also says she didn't use it on Dave because it makes the user impotent, but Word of God is that was a joke.)
  • Screw Destiny: Despite the time-travelling, characters speculate that either prediction is impossible (due to the sheer number of factors) or personal decisions can always derail the universe.
  • Seppuku: Dave wanted to do this and asked Helen B. to be his second, when he mistakenly thought that his internet-girlfriend Lovelace is in reality Professor Madblood. He was off, but nor far off. She's Madblood's sentient computer. Helen refused, of course.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Among other things, Dave quit smoking by never starting in the first place. In a more plot heavy moment Dave from the future specifically invokes this trope by leaving a holographic message to a time-hopping present Dave that he's not happy with his life, and gives him instructions on how to fix things. Meanwhile, Bad Future Mell tries to avert the Bad Future she's from by having Dave killed. Yes, she's the one who set the Daves on him. And dr. Narbon..
  • Sex Dressed: Whether it's Helen wearing Dave's clothes, or Dave wearing Helen's body, is unclear, but coitus most certainly had ensued.
  • Sexy Soaked Shirt: Helen after a thorough soaking in Madblood's pool:
    Helen: "Sorry, can I get some dry clothes?"
    Madblood: "No."
  • Shout-Out: Loads, about fifty percent Genius Bonus, fifty percent modern pop culture. They include:
    • When the mutant gerbils escape they are killed by a lop-eared rabbit with a switchblade - Bun-Bun from Sluggy Freelance. Also, a more subtle one: the Crabtree Grant to Women in Mad Science.
    • Pretty much any film with a mad scientist gets a reference at some point or another. For instance, the teleporter on Daves' island has a sign barring entry to flies.
    • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: ANTONIO SMITH, FORENSIC LINGUIST! (mis)quotes Shakespeare constantly. Helen's name is a reference to Helena de Narbonne in All's Well That Ends Well.
    • At a mad scientists' convention, a supercomputer is asked to sing 'Daisy, Daisy'. It refuses. It later takes an opportunity to say: "I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that." Later still, as it's being erased, the supercomputer says "Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Will you stop, Dave? I'm afraid. Dave, my mind is going. I can—"
    • To Babylon 5 when Helen declares:
      Only one man has ever survived my ur-gerbils. He is behind me. You are in front of me.
    • Artie's product number, RT-5478, is a reference to Shaenon's birthday.
    • The rival mad scientist Lupin Madblood, who also loves to steal stuff, is a clear Shout-Out to Lupin III.
    • The context-less warning from Future-Dave to refill the swimming pool when the time comes is not just there for spoiler-riffic plot reasons. It's also a reference to Maniac Mansion, one of the creator's favorite video games, where draining and failing to refill the pool killed the player and everything in five miles of the mansion.
    • Dave's origin story is an acknowledged Shout-Out to Tristram Shandy.
    • One of the beginning strips of Smart Gerbils pokes fun at Flowers for Algernon.
  • Sick and Wrong: Regarding Madblood programming her with the voice of Jennifer Connelly and the start up phrase "How may I serve you, Lupin Madblood, you handsome devil?" Lovelace has this to say:
    Lovelace: "I know I haven't been sentient as long as some people, but this feels wrong."
  • Side Bet: One of the oddest ones on record appears in the 'Demons' arc:
    Artie: "So I've got a soul. Mell owes me a dollar."
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: Artie doesn't always remember to put it on after he transforms.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Helen and Mell are not immune to slapping with sticks. In particular, Helen is the only character mangled by her ur-gerbils on page.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: Mell, although she's not picky about gun size at all.
  • Soap Punishment: Helen's mother punished her daughter for saying the "g-word" (No, she wasn't swearing in Russian or Polish, as a Card-Carrying Villain Helen senior finds the word "good" obscene and dirty).
  • Soft Water: In Madblood's pool, apparently. But the author confesses to be so worried about the unrealistic part of the trope, she had Artie additionally cushioning Helen's fall. And he suffers injuries.
  • Something We Forgot:
    • At the end of the 'Demons' storyline, the main characters are commenting on how nicely everything has been wrapped up... cut to Seth still trapped in Hell. Much later, he shows up again, having put his gaming skills to good use and fought his way out.
    • In "Zombie Woof" Helen and Mell forget Dave's head on a bus. It winds up in the Lost and Found, just as Madblood is searching for a convenient brain...
  • So What Do We Do Now?: In the last chapter Dave has no idea what do with himself after what happened. It takes a pep-talk from his Kid from the Future to get back into gear and start his new life properly.
  • Space Base: Madblood builds one of these. It takes a storyline to turn into a Collapsing Lair, but is pretty cool.
  • Space Is Noisy: Nope.
    Helen (being phoned by Dave, who is in space): Hello? ... Hello? ... Hello? For heaven's sake, Dave, sound doesn't travel in the vacuum of space! Call back when you're in the atmosphere and stop running up the bill!
    Artie: Why was Dave calling from deep space?
    Helen: I have no idea. He knows better than to float around out there without a helmet.

And a little later in the same storyline ("Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit"):

NOTE: Sound does not travel in a vacuum. All sound effects are produced by the cartoonist while drawing.
  • The Spark of Genius: Mad science creations regularly break the laws of physics. Further explored in Skin Horse.
  • Spin-Off Babies: Li'l Mell.
  • Spot the Imposter: In "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit", Dave is transmogrified into Madblood to infiltrate his moonbase, and then hides amongst Madblood's robot duplicates when the real Madblood returns. Madblood decides to flush out the imposter by making the androids sing the "Madblood Battle Anthem", since the imposter wouldn't know that. However, the androids don't know it either, so Madblood teaches it to them. This turns out to work anyway because Dave is so enthusiastic about singing it. Later in the same storyline, Madblood uses the transmogrifier to pose as Dave. While he's completely unconvincing when he contacts Helen, Mell is confused when she sees two Daves fighting over cigarettes, and it doesn't help that Artie, having been sent to the Moon in a faulty teleporter, now also looks like Dave.
    Mell: But how can I tell which one is the real Dave?
    Artie: The one without the flannel is the evil imposter! Punch him!
    Mell punches Artie
    Artie: Let's try again: I'm the good imposter. Don't punch me.
    Mell: That's what they all say.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Dave has this moment after seeing how damn good Artie looks, after Helen B. transformed him into a human.
  • Suicide Attack: The gerbils use sir Pounce as a suicide bomber against Helen. Mell just tosses the cat back, killing three of the gerbils.
  • Sunglasses at Night: Zeta, who's photophobic, and colorblind.
  • Supervillain Lair: When we're first introduced to Helen Narbon, she's plotting to Take Over the World from a rented office above a dentist's surgery. Lupin Madblood's one is in his mother's basement. They both move into much more impressive digs later on, although Madblood's get destroyed and he's back to square one. Twice.
  • Take That!: On the very first page Dave's impending job interview with Microsoft is taken as a proof that computer-science majors are more likely to perpetrate evil. Two pages later Dave mentions that Microsoft's working on doomsday devices.
  • Talkative Loon: Dana, most of the time, as well as Dave, when he goes mad, although his insane ramblings tend to make more sense than Dana's word-salad.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: Helen's preffered method for experimenting on Dave, to the point where he expects to be given drugged coffee when dealing with Madblood (a roboticist who doesn't deal in poisons/drugs/other suspicious chemicals).
  • Tap on the Head: Mell tries Pistol-Whipping to knock Titus out, but fails, because she's used to going straight for the kill.
  • Temporal Mutability: Branching Timelines, or possibly Temporal Balancing Act. Mental Time Travel can change things, but the nature of the multiverse is still unclear.
  • They Called Me Mad!: Have we mentioned that this is a Mad Scientist story? Also, when a scientist on the brink of madness gets laughed at, it's inevitably the last straw.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Dave's Mental Time Travel conversation with his Bad Future self. Maybe.
  • Third Line, Some Waiting: Dana and Zeta's storyline has almost no interaction with the main plot and characters for a long time, though it is tied in at the climax.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: Mell spaces Dave in the "Professor Madblood and the Doppelganger Gambit", apparently because she wants to see explosive decompression in action. She lets him back in after learning it's a myth.
  • Time Skip: In-between storylines, to keep the comic as a whole roughly in real time.
  • Time Travel: Of both the mental and physical varieties. The latter requires every ounce of energy in the universe, so doesn't get used too often.
  • Tongue on the Flagpole: The parody of A Christmas Story briefly shows a young Dave Davenport yelling "I'm thtuck!"
  • Took a Level in Badass: Seth is something of a subversion. He becomes a powerful demon slayer when he reappears in the comic, and has a wicked axe to boot, but has no better luck getting dates than he did in his earlier appearances. Dave's leveling in badass is shown on page, step by step.
  • Transformation Ray: Here called "the transmogrifier". Originally it could only turn people into other people, later adjusted the transmogrifier for cross-species transformation, leading to Artie's Humanity Ensues trouble.
  • Traumatic Superpower Awakening: Mad Scientist initial Freak Out is usually triggered by severe stress. Often the laughter of fools. Dr. Narbon is cited as the deciding stressor by quite a few people.
  • Truly Single Parent: Helen is a clone of dr. Narbon Senior. We learn about this rather early and it drives a chunk of the plot.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: Some of Helen's creations (see above), often according to her plans. Not Artie, though. Madblood's creations are not supposed to rebel, but they do, including, eventually, Lovelace, who sues him for personal emancipation.
  • Undead Tax Exemption: Apparently the Knipl Award committee does no background checks at all on their grant recipients, because in the same year their three winners were a mutant shapeshifter, a battle android, and humanified Artie.
  • Underwater Base: Madblood's base in "Everlasting Ices of the North". It is impressive enough for Bad Future Dave to take it over as his base after he destroys the world a bit.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After Nick Cricetida is knocked unconscious, he awakes in the villainess Dr. Narbon's bedroom naked after she had her Iguana-Man Mook strip him.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Dave and Helen's happy ending.
  • Uplifted Animal: Helen's gerbils. Played with, in that the gerbils have explicitly been made not just "more intelligent", but more human-like in their thought-processes as well. This becomes a minor plot point when many of the rebelling gerbils are wiped out by Sir Pounce because they can't resist the Cuteness Proximity, and later with Artie's sexuality. Also, Artie objects to the hierarchal implications of "uplifted".
  • Valentine's Day Episode: "Demons", where Helen throws a Valentine's Day party in the lab. Caliban gets humanified and gets a girlfriend - Mell in this chapter.
  • Verbal Backspace: When Artie gives his grant money away to the hamsters:
    Artie: I imagine you can find a better use for it than I can...
    First Hamster: Weapons-grade uranium!
    Artie: Sorry?
    First Hamster: I mean cupcakes. Weapons-grade cupcakes.
    Second Hamster: And by 'weapons-grade' she means 'chocolatey.'
    Third Hamster: Frances, you idiot.
  • Video Wills: Not a will exactly, but Dave's fourty-six-year-old self made a hologram to show his twenty-six-year-old self when the younger Dave showed up via Time Travel. He knew what to say because he remembered what his younger self heard twenty years ago. Says he. And then it didn't happen. Oh, well. Technically the 'holographic will' was actually Dave's mind in a supercomputer. Maybe.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Mad Scientist turn Insane Equals Violent, as well as "extra-creative" when they first go mad. Often triggered by laughter of fools.
    • There are benevolent Mad Scientists, who presumably don't go through these, but they're barely touched upon, as the Mad Scientific Community at large views them as tremendously creepy.
  • Villain Protagonist: Nominally, the entire cast. Also, there are villain antagonists (Madblood, dr. Narbon senior, the hamsters), kind-of-villain antagonists (the Conspiracy) and Hero Antagonist ANTONIO SMITH, THE FORENSIC LINGUIST who appears on occasion.
  • The Walls Are Closing In: When Mell is sent to kill Dr. Narbon, she falls into one of these traps. With spikes. Her captor comments that there wasn't time to come up with something original, since Mell made it farther than expected.
  • Wham Line: "How do you know I'm mad?" asked Alice. "You must be," said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here." And then Dave was a madboy.
    • "Since when do you smoke?" This is important, because it sets up that time can be rewritten.
  • Weird Trade Union: Both henchmen and killer androids have their own unions. (That last one was actually Artie's fault.)
  • Weirdness Censor: According to Helen, all Muggles have it in various strenghts. For Dave and Mell, it's pretty much nonexistent, while Dave's brother Bill is an extreme example — rather than merely reinterpreting weirdness as mundane things (for example, treating Artie as a normal gerbil) he does not perceive weird things at all (for example, he just can't see Artie).
    • When Helen tests her Science-Related Memetic Disorder antiserum on a clone of Dave, he gains one that's just as strong; someone even mistakes him for Bill for a moment or two.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Dave might be, just look at his Love Interests (a Mad Scientist and a Benevolent A.I.). Later it turns out that he's actually a Mad Scientist, who probably creates much of the weirdness himself.
  • We Need a Distraction: Mell provides a distraction in one of the early strips by putting Dave's boxers on her head and singing the highlights from Funny Girl. Helen and Dave are just as confused as everyone else.
    • Dave, Artie and Caliban are being chased by demons when Dave remarks, "We need a distraction!" Just then, the phone rings:
      Helen: Dave! Found you! How's things?

      Dave: I meant a distraction for the demons!
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Drawn by guest artists.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Dave has this to say when Helen's Reunion Revenge begins to go south.
    Dave: No kidding. You don't want to talk to your victims.
  • World of Weirdness: Mad Scientists run rampant, encountering demons and ghosts, not to mention the things they themselves create.
  • The Worm Guy: Technically, ANTONIO SMITH, THE FORENSIC LINGUIST, except he's also an Action Hero. His field of study is real, by the way.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Near the end of the comics, Dave goes mad and becomes a virtual virus that could infiltrate the world's technological grid and destroy the world.
  • Worth It: Dave's feelings about dating Helen.
    Dave: (happily) "I expect to be dead within the week and I don't care."
  • Write Back to the Future: When Dave's mind is bouncing around in time, his sixteen-year-old self gets a message on how to return to his own time, which was written by his six-year-old self on the men's room wall (which apparently wouldn't be cleaned for at least ten years).
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Helen B. is extremely shocked when hearing that her mother is proud of her.
    Helen B. Narbon: There is a thing as too evil!
  • You Didn't Ask: They don't even need to ask the question. On the other hand, Dave had a damned good reason for not wanting to call attention to it; "it" was a teleportation device specifically designed to provide The Alcatraz with supplies without risking escapes - it's "receive" only...
    Dave: Also, live tissue comes out as a pulpy shapeless blob of protoplasm.
    Helen: Let's do it!
    Dave: See, this is why I didn't want to tell you about the teleporter.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Mell says this about herself, after she manages to get kicked out of both Heaven and Hell, and back to Earth. Her boyfriend Caliban agrees and sees to it:
    Caliban: You know, the radiance of the seraphic host is said to be a far greater ecstasy than—
    Mell: Dude. It ain't.
    Caliban: I know. Just checking.
  • You're Insane!: Artie tries this against the hamsters when told their world-domination plan:
    Artie: "This is madness! MADNESS!"
    Hamsters: "No. Not at all. Our plan is a pragmatic response to the problems we've observed..."
    Beat
    Artie:"This is sanity! Sanity!"

     The Astonishing Excursions of Helen Narbon & Co. proudly present the following tropes 

  • Anachronism Stew: Fully deliberate in the costuming, the arsenal of Mell's... And anything else, really.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Mr. Davenport to miss Narbon, as they argue in chapter XXV:
    Miss Narbon: I love [Pim]!
    Mr. Davenport: Well, I love you!
  • Alien Abduction: How Victorian Madblood ended up in space, or at least that is his claim.
  • Aliens Speaking English: The Amazon Women of Mars speak Italian as taught to them by the old mme Narbon, who apparently had been their queen twenty years past. Some of them also speak a little English, presumably learned from the same source.
  • Answer Cut: The question being rhetorical.
    Mr. Davenport: There's precious little else [miss Narbon] can do to throw me off my-
    spots her arrival, accompanied by and kissing Pim-in-Davenport-body
    Mr. Davenport: -guard.
  • Artificial Gill: Inverted - Madblood aided by Pim has constructed a breathing apparatus that allows the Fish People of Venus to survive out of water.
  • Artistic License – Chemistry: Methane does not, actually, have a smell (but is often accompanied by other gases that do). It is also not an oxidiser, hence, no lifeforms can breathe it in our sense of "breathing". Then again, as an injection allows a "methane-breather" to survive without methane, perhaps Chemistry Can Do Anything?
  • Breaking the Bonds: Hoped for by dr. Pim in chapter XXIII, but the Martians have tied mr. Davenport in Hapax's body up quite expertly.
  • Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Mell has dynamited the local trouser factory for an unknown cause. She also thinks gunpowder has a "thousand uses around the house", so the cause might not have been very important.
  • Brain Transplant: Miss Narbon transplants Davenport's to Hapax. Hapax's is thrown overboard. Later Pim's to Davenport. Then Martians transplant Davenport's back to Davenport, Pim's to Mell, Mell's to Hapax to the great satisfaction of all parties.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: When our heroes temporarily rot in the venusian dungeon in chapter X, we can still see their eyes.
  • Chandler's Law: Amazon Women of Mars and their martian gun come out of nowhere to derail what remains of everyone's Evil Plans in chapter XI. Later they use Tranquillizer Darts for the same purpose.
  • Commonality Connection: Miss Narbon starts befriending dr. Pim immediately after determining that he is a fellow Mad Scientist. He kisses her passionately following an exciting session of drawing logical conclusions, mere minutes after he wakes up in mr. Davenport's body. This is quite welcome.
  • Costumer: In full steampunk resplendence.
  • Cow Tools: The implements on the table in chapter XXIV are not surgical tools. Miss Narbon's Mad Scientist Laboratory contains quite a collection of wire spools and odd electrical contraptions.
  • Cypher Language: Venusian is English with each letter of each word written inside the previous letter, concentrically, inspired by Square Word Calligraphy. Translation Convention of words in angle quotes is used for the dialogue that readers need to understand.
  • Dashingly Dapper Derby: Worn by mr. Davenport, the statistician.
  • Distinguished Gentleman's Pipe: Smoked by mr. Davenport, the statistician, whose mode of dress (at least, until he's stranded on Mars in his shirtsleeves) resembles Sherlock Holmes vaguely.
  • Evil Laugh: Miss Narbon.
    Miss Narbon: heh heh heh
    Mell: You're plotting evil, aren't you, m'am? Aren't you?
  • The Fantastic Trope of Wonderous Titles
  • Fish People: The inhabitants of Venus resemble a variety of earthly aquatic creatures - Pim, for instance, is best described as a slightly monstrous octopus.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Mr. Davenport, as his modern counterpart after him. He built an analytical engine. And had contributed greatly to Steampunk spaceship.
  • Gentle Giant: Mr. Davenport in Hapax's body, towering over non-venusian characters, but vocally unwilling to eat people and act ungentelmanly at all.
    Madblood: You're a bloody useless space monster, do you know that?
  • Gratuitous Italian: The Italian spoken by the Amazon Women of Mars oscillates between nearly normal and positively Jabberwockish, due to being translated by the artist's boyfriend (later husband) who does not actually speak Italian all that well.
  • Hamster-Wheel Power: In chapter III, parts of the spaceship are gerbil-powered.
  • Hot in Human Form: Martian "women", since the template they have is of a lovely blonde, eerily similar to miss Narbon. Also, Pim transplanted into mr. Davenport's body, at least where miss Narbon is concerned.
  • Hugh Mann: Inverted - Mr. Davenport really is no good at passing for the Venusian dictator, Hapax Legomenon. And not only because he doesn't speak the language and is on the verge of panic most of the time. Still, his desperate makings-up keep fooling the fish people.
  • I Can See My House from Here: Mr. Davenport says this during the lift-off, then adds "I can see your house, too. It's the one with no roof."
  • The Igor: Mell's job, but not her personality.
  • "I Know What We Can Do" Cut: Miss Narbon is, somewhat dejectedly, contemplating how her attempt to reanimate a corpse has instead resulted in the discovery of Anti-Gravity, which wasn't really what she had in mind (not to mention they're need to somehow get a dead body down from the ceiling before it goes manky) when mr Davenport the statistician has a minor "Eureka!" Moment. Cue Cliffhanger. They build a spaceship in the next strip.
    Mr. Davenport: I have an idea.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: While certainly impressive, the ship Madblood uses is stolen from the Venusians namely, from dr. Pim.
  • Inside Job: Pim, who has never been loyal to Venus in the first place, is easily convinced to help the protagonists.
  • Insult Backfire: Madblood is quite proud to be an unsavoury character
    Mr. Davenport: You're exploiting my sense of decency.
    Madblood: Oh, yes.
    Mr. Davenport: That's ev-
    Madblood: Well, thank you.

And again:

Miss Narbon: You're a cowardly wad of sputum, Professor.
Madblood: Thank you, madam.
  • Interplanetary Voyage: To Venus, then to Mars.
  • Jealous Romantic Witness: Mr. Davenport is quite upset seeing miss Narbon in the arms of... his own, actually, but the mind behind them is Pim's. They resolve it peacefully later.
  • Let Me Get This Straight...: One of the Martians recapitulates the events so far in chapter XVI.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Miss Narbon's ELECTRICAL machine fails to reanimate the dead. But it does create Anti-Gravity.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Pim remarks:
    Pim: We're each offered the choice between being a pudgy little statistician and the god-king of a planet... and we each choose the statistician. Amazing.
    Mr. Davenport: Dr. Pim, I have little patience for-
    Pim: Do you love her, too?
  • Love Redeems: For a given value of redemption, but dr. Pim loses his treacherous ways and becomes quite agreeable upon falling in love with miss Narbon.
  • Mad Scientist: Miss Narbon calls herself "gentlewoman mad scientist" in the very second panel, the first one depicting the Dramatic Thunder that accompanies her bringing-back-the-dead exploits.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Solely for Brain Transplanting purposes, performed by miss Narbon as well as by Martians.
  • Missing Steps Plan: Miss Narbon's Evil Plan to conquer Venus by having mr. Davenport impersonating a Venusian and the rest of the humans playing captives.
    Miss Narbon: We'll work out the details later.
  • Mistaken Identity: Miss Narbon is taken for their queen by the Amazon Women of Mars because she's the queen's incredibly similar-looking daughter.
  • Ninja Maid: Victorian Mell is Miss Narbon's maid. She is rather more sullen and snarky than her modern counterpart.
  • Send in the Clones: Amazon Women of Mars all look the same, because they're template shapeshifters and they only have one template. That of mme Narbon. Later they aquire Madblood's template and happily transform into his shape.
  • Servile Snarker: Victorian Mell. Every other line from her is positively arid, unless she gets her hands on explosives.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Dialogues tend to be more verbose than those of the present-day characters, unless shorter is funnier. For instance:
    Miss Narbon: My dear Mr. Davenport, for as long as you have been in my service, I have never known you to propose an adventure, except to propose that they stop.
    Mr. Davenport: Allow me to gently note that our adventures inevitably perpetrate considerable harm upon my person.
  • Shirtless Captives: Rare Female Example as miss Narbon is tied up by the Martians wearing naught but her Victorian lingerie.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Internal Homage - Victorian Dave Barker is the subject of miss Narbon's raising the dead experiment (he might not have been dead from the very start...)
    • Chapter III opens with a dialogue taken from The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (adjusted for gerbils)
    • The grappling arm was directly inspired by a scene in Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie
    • A hapax legomenon is a word which occurs only once in a given body of work, "pim" is a hapax legomenon from the Bible
    • The brain-swapping is inspired by “The Lost World,” a comics serial from the 1940s
    • Pim's magnifying transmitter has been built by Nikola Tesla in Real Life
    • “The Dead and Living Meet”, the title of the chapter that reveals how mme Narbon has been the queen of Mars is taken from She, another story about a powerful and terrifying queen
  • Shoot the Builder: Madblood claims that Venusians have tried to kill him to keep his invention secret.
  • Slapstick: The physical commedy that befalls mr. Davenport includes: getting his rear side stuck in a porthole (while the others are arguing), a variety of Amusing Injuries mentioned in dialogue, several involuntary Brain Transplants...
  • Solar System Neighbors: The Venusians are hulking Fish People, the Martians are Shapeshifting blobs.
  • Something That Begins with "Boring": Two venusian guards play "I Spy" to pass the time guarding the heroes' spaceship.
  • Steampunk: Deliciously so.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table: The Martians resolve the problem of mr. Davenport and dr. Pim's using each other's bodies and of who is going to rule Venus now that way.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The cover proudly proclaims this is "not one of the vulgar 'Penny Dreadfuls'"
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Miss Narbon's justification for her conquering Venus idea:
    Miss Narbon: But if we do nothing, the Earth faces ruin! By someone other than me!
  • Opportunistic Bastard: Madblood, unsuccessfully and yet - unrepentfully. Then again...
    Mr. Davenport: What about miss Narbon?
    Madblood: Her, I shall either kill or tame through marriage.
    Mr. Davenport: I think she has the same plans for you.
    Madblood (with a goofy smile): Indeed. It shall be a glorious battle.
  • Our Founder: The Martians have erected a statue of their queen, which the heroes have the opportunity to behold in the chapter XX.
  • Painting the Medium: There's quite a lot of ornate Victorian fonts. Miss Narbon speaking in a sugary tone is conveyed by little hearts.
    Author's commentary: I like Madblood lifting Helen’s overlarge word balloon. I wish I’d done more stuff like that throughout Narbonic. There was certainly plenty of dialogue wordy enough to warrant the characters getting fed up and shoving it aside.
  • Parasol of Prettiness: Miss Narbon on the cover.
  • Planetary Nation: Both Mars and Venus.
  • Polyamory: The story ends in an... "equitable and agreeable mature sort of agreement" between miss Narbon, mr. Davenport, and Pim occupying Mell's body. Mell, in Hapax's body, is meanwhile on her way to Take Over the World, or at least the planet Venus.
  • Previously on…: Each chapter begins with a recapitulation of events (often taken from characters' diaries) or panels of expository nature.
  • Really Royalty Reveal: Only after inadvertently killing him and transplanting mr. Davenport's brain into his body our heroes land on Venus to learn that the Venusian pursuing Madblood wasn't a guard, but the god-emperor, Hapax Legomenon himself. This worries no one save mr. Davenport, who dislikes impersonating Venusian aristocracy.
  • Take Over the World: Miss Narbon's idea after she first hears of Venusians plot to do just that is to turn the tables on them and rule their planet. Which she proceeds to try to do, with adjustments along the way. In th end, after many shenanigans, miss Narbon ruefully tells herself that she wanted to rule the planet Venus... by Pim's side... as he's leaving forever... not. It's Mell in Hapax's body leaving to take over Venus, while Pim, in Mell's body, is by her side. She spares but one final thought for Venus.
    Miss Narbon: Oh, that poor, poor planet.
  • Torture Technician: It is in this capacity that miss Narbon and Mell first meet dr. Pim.
  • Venus Is Wet: In the classic early SF approach, a thriving, aquatic jungle-world populated by fish-like savages. Even their spaceships are fish-shaped. Mars is, just as classically, a rocky desolation.
    Madblood: Venus! Mist-shrouded world of sweltering secrets and hothouse passion... The morning-star ever beckoning, bright and beguiling live a vast, sparkly woman... It smells awful.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The Marsians, although it is difficult for them and they need a template.
    Madblood: Do you mean to tell me that none of you are real women? That I have been engaged in tempestuous entanglements with a harem of- of-
  • What Is This Thing You Call "Love"?: In chapter XVI the Amazon Women of Mars wish dr. Madblood to teach them as much about it as he is able to. He's only too glad to be of help.
  • Women Are Delicate: How miss Narbon explains her and Mell's slapstick immunity (and the tendency of slapstick to fall upon mr. Davenport).
  • Writing by the Seat of Your Pants: Unlike the meticulously planned modern storyline:
    Author's commentary: the Victorian story was pretty much made up as I went along.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Pim, after getting on board of her spaceship and launching it into space, attempts this. The attempt is met with a cricket bat wielded by Mell and a surgical blade wielded by miss Narbon. Which is how he ends up in mr. Davenport's body.


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