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Webcomic / PvP

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Not to be confused with the term Player Versus Player. Or the RWBY episode of the same name. Or PWP, for that matter.

PvP is a gaming webcomic started in 1998 by cartoonist Scott Kurtz. It takes place around the office of a small magazine production company that produces the gaming magazine "PvP", focusing mostly on the office antics of a straight-laced boss, his snobby best friend, the snob's wife (originally the sole female writer in the company), their bratty sixteen year old intern, a naive, careless troll, and two frat boys. Over time, the cast gained a female counterpart to the intern, and some other characters. It originally started as a pastiche Affectionate Parody of video games and geek culture in general, moving away from that towards just being a slice of life comedy about its characters and an Affectionate Parody of every 80s sitcom ever made.

On May 18, 2020, PvP went through a time skip, soft-branded as "PvP 3.0", ready to double down on the classic office sitcom shenanigans that were the core of PvP's humor for years. From mid June to November 2021, the comic was temporarily replaced with a one called Mort about a son caring for his sick father. PvP returned in December 2021 to the pre-timeskip storyline, back to the present day.

Unfortunately, at least for the purposes of linking to evidence of tropes, in September of 2022 the entire archive of PVP prior to 2021 was put behind a Patreon subscriber-only paywall. Thus rendering virtually all the links in this page into 404 pages, or subscriber only placeholder images. It remains to be seen if this will generate new revenue, or merely annoy fans.


  • Abhorrent Admirer: Non-romantic example: Rick "Turtle" Tuttle was this to Francis, until he died in an ill-advised bungee jump accident. He briefly returned during a Halloween storyline, having learned nothing from his death.
  • Aborted Arc: The "Thief" storyline in 2000, where Francis was skulking around the office pretending to be Garret from Thief II: The Metal Age, which was cancelled after Looking Glass Studios went under and Eidos cancelled the funding, leading to an abrupt end.
  • Accidental Marriage: Francis and Marcie got drunk in Las Vegas and got married. However, they are trying their best to make it work.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Deconstructed in this comic.
  • All Asians Know Martial Arts: Brent and Cole need a good table tennis partner to beat the Penny Arcade team. They choose the panda because, well... pandas are Chinese, right? And all Chinese are good at table tennis, right? Turns out he's really good at it.
    Francis: What we need is a ringer. Do we know anyone who's Chinese?
  • The Alleged Boss: Cole is treated with little respect as a boss since he lets his employees get away with their zany hijinks. At one point the office had a new employee hired to help with finances, which Cole was not consulted about and was mocked when he complained. Ironically, Francis now has to deal with this after the timeskip, as he's now running his own company, and dealing with the exact same kind of crap Cole had to.
    Francis: Are you enjoying the irony, or are you having a stroke?
    Cole: Not sure...
  • All Trolls Are Different: The particular variety of troll that Skull belongs to are blue-colored, have long, antenna-like ears that will grow back if they're pulled off, and if one guest strip for Penny Arcade is canon, grow in the ground like mandrake roots.
  • Ambulance Cut: Common gag for a while, with the last panel of a strip being an ambulance arriving. A later variation on this was Cole and Brent gleefully blasting away in the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard.
  • Arbitrarily Large Bank Account: Robbie must have won one hell of a lottery jackpot, he apparently can splurge the GDP of a small country whenever he wants. He hired accountants to make sure he doesn't run out of money. He seems to have some investments in the pornographic industry as well, and now a significant shareholder for PvP. Somewhat subverted as he mentions his fortune took a hit during the financial crisis in -08, not enough to change his lifestyle signifigantly, but enough to prevent him from acting like Uncle Pennybags when it would ruin the plot.
  • Artifact Title: When was the last time the magazine itself meant anything?
    • This became part of the comic due to the decline of print media and gaming journalism, eventually moving to an exclusively online magazine, and eventually shutting it down completely. The company, while still called PvP instead produces mobile games now.
    • Lampshaded in a guest strip, where the characters find themselves looking at the magazine for the first time.
  • Art Evolution:
  • Art Shift: Kurtz did a Lolbat arc (The Laughing Bat) in the style of noir comics from The '30s.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: Santa in December 2020 has this reaction when he learns that his plan to kill Scratch 2.0 would go. The wizard tells him that Kringus is gone, and he would be breaking to a family's home to murder their kitten. Santa doesn't like that, and aborts the plan.
  • Atomic F-Bomb: In the Watchmen spoof.
  • Author Avatar:
    • Scratch is actually Kurtz's cat. As of Sept 16th, 2008, he can talk, has cool goggles, and a ray gun.
    • There is a dog in the strip which was, and originally appeared as, Kurtz's dog. He later became Cole's. When the dog died in real life, the comic dog continued to appear.
    • Kurtz himself used to appear to speak directly to the readers. He hasn't done this in a while, probably because he keeps a blog now.
    • Kurtz writes in his father's actual comments from time to time, and Reggie is based on a real friend of Kurtz.
    • Kurtz frequently uses Skull to reflect himself, but in a much less indirect manner. (His birthday reflected Scott's, etc.)
    • Lolbat villain the Mad Hater seems to resemble a younger Kurtz in appearance, but in personality seems based on those parts of the fanbase who dislike the Lolbat interludes.
  • Badass Santa: Whenever Kringus shows up, Santa prepares to thwart him.
  • Batman Gambit: Francis pulls off a really good one on Cole in this comic.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Running Gag where Brent gets mauled by a panda. This has been played with just about every possible way, including an arc where Brent and the panda become Fire-Forged Friends when a crazy activist tries to kidnap it, only to have the Reset Button pressed a short while later after a Zany Scheme to get the panda to mate backfires and results in Brent getting raped by the female panda in question.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Brent to Francis, though not consciously.
  • Blind Without 'Em: In a somewhat unusual example, Brent, because he wears sunglasses so often that his eyes can't handle the sunlight.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Miranda addresses the audience here.
  • Brick Joke: In this PvP strip we get a punchline that looks like a throwaway line. Then, eight years later...
    • In one comic, they reference the ending to Somewhere in Time. Then the penultimate comic to a storyline years later is [1].
  • The Butler Did It: Inverted: Butler is the LOLBAT and solves crimes instead of perpetrating them.
  • Bumbling Dad: Cole was originally portrayed as this with his wife and family. Until their divorce
  • Came Back Wrong: One of the party during the "Mines of Madness" Dungeons & Dragons arc, his soul accidentally becomes fused with the Gelatinous Cube that dissolved his body. He thinks it's awesome.
  • The Cameo: Happens a lot in PvP.
  • Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: The Stormtroopers at Comic Con believe a random guy dressed as the Emperor is the real deal. They corner Jade, make her dress as Leia, and lock her in a room on the Emperor's orders. She tells them Star Wars is just a movie, with one commenting "You sound like my mom." Brent, who was the Emperor in question — it was part of his Wacky Marriage Proposal— can't get past them because he changed into Han Solo clothes. So he recruits a bunch of furries as his Ewoks to rescue Jade and propose to her.
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Scratch Fury and the "Cabbage Scratch Kid" do a subverted riff on Calvin and Hobbes. The subversion is that the cat is real and the boy is a doll. Hungry Cat might be a riff on Moe and/or Susie Derkins.
    • There was an arc where Scratch made a device to find his fellow superintelligent cats called FUREBRO and used it to find a cat who was a feline expy of Doctor Strange.
  • Cerebus Syndrome:
    • The strip toys with this to some extent. It never goes full-over into drama, but for most of its run now it's alternated between Gag Per Day format, dramedy, and downright serious drama. Some people felt the strip fell full into Cerebus Syndrome during the Brent/Jade wedding arc, which happened to overlap with a surprisingly serious turn for Skull, Cole's marriage falling apart, and a story about Robbie and Jase falling out. Of course, the strip quickly went back to comedic arcs after a few months, just as it always had done before.
    • Parodied in one strip where Cole reveals that he has inoperable cancer, and Jade accuses Brent of having a drinking problem.
  • Character Development: Francis, despite all his denials to the contrary, has become more mature in the Time Skip. He runs the company the way Cole did, down to dressing like him, admits he never knew how hard Cole had it, counsels Katie on how to talk to her mother about dropping out of college, and is more open about his love for Marcie even when fighting with her. In 2021, Francis makes a great effort to reconcile with Marcie, and is pleasantly surprised to find out she's pregnant, though he asks Katie to keep it a secret when she eavesdrops.
  • Cheated Angle:
    • Before Brent revealed his face (well, again), he would always be drawn so that you could never see his eyes behind his sunglasses. Now, when seen from the side, you can clearly see his eyes.
    • Jase's eyes were always covered by his hat until he started dating Robbie's gardener and temporarily stopped wearing it. He got his hat back but now his eyes are clearly visible (and he's lost a lot of weight).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: This has happened to several minor characters over the course of the comic. Cole's wife and children haven't appeared in almost fifteen years (justified, at least in the wife's case, by their being divorced), Sonya Powers (Skull's girlfriend) and Gwen haven't been in a comic for about ten years. Even characters like Reggie and Jase seem to have disappeared entirely.
    • Reggie, for one, is not forgotten as he was name-dropped in 2014, years after his last actual appearance in the comic.
    • Gwen is back as of this comic, though so far it hasn't gone anywhere.
    • Jase is also back, and has hired Gwen after surprising Cole.
  • Colorful Theme Naming:
    • Brent Sienna is a pun on "burnt sienna". Note that he's also pretty dry...
    • And his wife is named "Jade".
    • In Max Powers' office, Brent's counterpart is named "Hunter Greene".
  • Comically Serious: Leela, taken to adorable extremes in her childhood.
  • Comic-Book Time: OH yes. The characters have aged somewhat as the series progressed, but in periodic jumps rather than it happening naturally. Cole's children were toddlers when the comic began but are now in college, while Francis hasn't aged more than about five years. And of course, none of the pets are affected by aging. As of 2015, most of the cast are in their early 40s or late 30's, while Marcy and Francis are in their late 20's. Skull, being a mythical creature who's centuries-old, hasn't aged at all.
  • Compensating for Something: Discussed when Brent buys a new TV.
  • Compressed Abstinence: Brent Sienna once resolved to give up sarcasm. He made a crack about his boss' weight-loss resolution a mere five seconds later, which was considered a new personal record for him.
  • Deadly Distant Finale: A sobering one in 3.0 Both Scratch and Kirby have passed on, owing to the Time Skip. After all, not even the greatest science can make our loved pets immortal. The S.C.R.A.T.C.H. that uploads himself to a 3D-printed body has limited memories and didn't even know that Kirby had died. Skull breaks the news to him gently. S.C.R.A.T.C.H. tries desperately to create a robot body for Kirby and resurrect him as well but finds that he can't.
  • Every Episode Ending: Every "Bulldog and Cooch" segment ends with their vehicle or house boat blowing up.
  • Excuse Boomerang: There was an early strip in which Cole attempted this unsuccessfully. His employees were in the habit of neglecting their jobs to play video games. At one point, he told them that he was too busy playing a certain game to finish the payroll, only to decide a moment later that he actually should get it out of the way.
  • Expressive Mask: Scratch Fury as Kringus.
  • External Combustion: The "Bulldog and Cooch" strips.
  • Eyes Always Shut: Various random characters, here and there, just as part of Kurtz's drawing style.
  • The Faceless: Jase's girlfriend, Bonnie.
  • Fake High: Francis celebrates the new year by getting drunk.
    Cole: He's drunk off his ass. What's in those things?
    Jade: Orange juice and Seven Up.
  • Fantastic Racism: Skull occasionally expresses some disdain over the usual portrayal of trolls.
    • And apparently dark elves are bastards.
    • Skull has actually gone so far as to go on strike and protest against the unfair treatment of fantasy creatures.
    • Skull and his dwarven (as in an actual fantasy dwarf) girlfriend Valerie have their first real fight as a couple after Valerie just assumed that Skull would try to eat her pet goat.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: The author admitted when Brent and Jade's anniversary came that he'd forgotten it... so he followed up with a strip with both of them forgetting it.
    Brent: Wait. So which one of us is in trouble here?
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: Here. Includes an accidental Bed Trick.
  • French Maid: Robbie had one while trying out servants. See Real Joke Name.
  • Gamer Chick:
    • Marcy is a cookie cutter example (right down to the Tsundere girlfriend aspects). Averted with Jade.
    • Also how Jade and Brent started dating. Francis played the G.I.R.L. for Brent; out of compassion, Jade took over the role and tried to bring Brent down gently.
  • Gasshole: Skull, especially early on in the comic, much to Brent's disgust.
  • The Ghost: Abby, who was apparently a member of their D&D campaign who didn't work out.
  • Girl on Girl Is Hot:
    • Brent initially thinks Miranda is there to fulfill his fantasy of watching Jade get it on with another girl.
    • Artist Frank Cho made a guest strip guaranteed to raise the heart ratenote  of anybody who enjoys this trope.
    • Brent totally misses seeing this kiss while his office-mates are stunned into silence. (Though he tries to make up for it later.)
  • Good Parents:
    • The panda and Brent call a truce when they both have kids, with Brent saying the toxicity shouldn't be passed onto the next generation as they're at the zoo together. Kate proceeds to give the panda a smooch, which causes his heart to melt.
    • It turns out that, contrary to what Leela led the team to believe, her parents are this. They reveal that they were worried that Leela never knew how to have fun, or how to express herself artistically. Thus, they are super happy when they find out her workplace is fun and zany, hoping it will help her relax. Despite herself, Leela starts adjusting to the quirkiness, in small doses.
  • Gratuitous German: Here. Made even more hilarious by the comic notes.
  • G.I.R.L.: Francis's City of Heroes character, Catfight.
  • Happily Married:
    • No one expected it to work, especially Lucille, but Marcie and Francis have become this despite many ups and downs. After eloping in Las Vegas, they adopt a pig together, argue with house spiders, and are raising a child.
    • In 3.0, Cole and Lucille are married, and Lucille is quite happy with Cole's recent retirement.
  • Hešvy MŽtal ‹mlaut: Parodied when Francis makes a Fake Band and initially wants to call it "Umlaüt". When he finds this was already taken by a real life band, he settles on "Djörk".
  • Heroic Build: Francis of all people has this. Played with in that it's genetic as he doesn't work out.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Butler. As well as one-shot character Suitecannes (pronounced "Sweet-can").
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: The Panda makes it clear that only he can maul Brent. When a group of activists for a show called Panda Wars take Brent hostage in a bid to kill the Panda due to his domestication, the Panda suits up and prepares to fight for his human. He only doesn't have to because they faint, and the Panda unties Brent with no hard feelings.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Duck fires Cole and justifies it by claiming that Cole is the reason the company is in such dire straits now. Which is at least partially true, since Cole did hide the company's floundering finances instead of seeking help earlier. Cole for his part is willing to accept responsibility and retire, only for Lucille to snap him out of it and tell him not to abandon his dream company.
  • I Hate Past Me: Somewhat played with. Duck is what Max once was, only Duck is a Jerkass and the team has a legitimate reason to dislike him. Max has a bit of a Heroic BSoD once he realizes what it's like to be on the other end.
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure:
    • Many of PvP's women are buxom with slim waists and wide hips, notably Miranda.
    • The series has gone through Art Evolution over time; the style became softer and more realistic, and the girls lost their impossibly narrow waists and thin necks.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: PVP has crossed over with Kurtz's other creations Captain Amazing and Samwise.
  • Jerkass Realization: Cole finally apologizes to Max for their one-sided rivalry, during an emotional Thanksgiving arc. He says that Max is a genuinely Nice Guy, and Cole was projecting his envy about the man being a better businessman in nerddom, while being good-looking and charming.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brent. Lampshaded in this strip.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: 2008/09/15, when Scratch tries to threaten someone with his ray gun.
  • Jumping the Shark: The Time Skip to 3.0, having most of the main characters being retired or dead and replacing them with inferior new characters at the office was controversial enough, but when Kurtz stopped updating the comic and replaced it with Mort, a bleak and depressing comic about a son trying to deal with his father's descent into dementia (informed by his own Real Life experiences) was when most readers gave up caring about the comic completely.
  • Klatchian Coffee: Francis' twitch gamer 'power drink'. Except all it did was make him hallucinate and vomit uncontrollably. A bit too powerful...
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This strip starts out as this, but moves on to straight-up breaking it.note 
  • Legacy Character: Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds is presumably deceased post-timeskip in Pv P 3.0, but it seems that the Scratch virtual assistant may have his personality embedded within it.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: The panda generally exists to antagonist Brent and maul him. Then a bunch of "Panda Wars" activists break into the PVP offices to "liberate" the panda, taking Brent as a hostage. A tied-up Brent thanks them and warns them the bear is a threat. Cue the bear grappling with the activists to save Brent. When the activists decide to euthanize the panda for acting very unnatural, the panda ties on a headband and prepares to fight for real. Fortunately or unfortunately, he doesn't get the chance.
  • Literal Transformative Experience: Happens at Level-Up at Intimacy 5. Literally. With Character Level-based lampshading. twice:
  • Level-Up at Intimacy 5: Twice. Literally. With Character Level-based lampshading. They're also Literal Transformative Experiences:
  • Mad Scientist: Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds. Fortunately for mankind, his very nature as a cat makes him easy to thwart.
  • Mall Santa:
    • Skull becomes one while stoned on a bad Orange Julius.
    • Brent also did a brief stint.
  • Mirror Universe: This arc, including the mandatory Beard of Evil. Charlton Hestonnote  introduces and concludes the story. Unfortunately we don't get to see evil!Jade.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: Contrary to all expectations, Brent and Chet hit it off. But when they start disappearing with vague boys'-night-out excuses, Jade and Miranda track them down to find out what they're really doing. However, it's far, far worse than anything they could ever have imagined — they find that Chet is reading poetry in a coffee house. Gasp!
    Miranda: Why couldn't I have found him with another woman?
  • Mistaken for Gay: Jade by Gwen.
  • Mood Whiplash: Brent and Jade's wedding arc. First Jade's mother cancels their arrangements, but Jason lends the mansion generously for the ceremony and Brent calls a truce with Jade's mother so she won't ruin take two. After Brent and Jade tie the knot, a gargoyle tells Skull it's time for him to leave because Brent is grown-up, making Brent for the only time ever declare that Skull is staying with him, despite their arguments. After the tearful goodbyes, Marcie gives Francis The Big Damn Kiss and sleeps with him, causing them to upgrade.
  • Mundane Wish: Subverted. When a genie offered Brent and Cole one wish, they used it to get the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard, but enjoy it so much they seem to have no regrets.
  • Mushroom Samba: Francis mixes together energy drinks and Pixie sticks in a chance to get powerful enough to defeat his new rival. He then thinks that he has Super Speed and charges around the office. Brent and Cole go This Is Gonna Suck because Francis was hallucinating and got food poisoning from the combination.
  • Naughty Nurse Outfit: Jade as part of a Nyquil-fueled hallucination.
  • Never Win the Lottery: Inverted. It ends up laying the groundwork and providing fuel and/or settings for multiple major story arcs, not to mention Character Development out the wazoo, as well as introducing significant new characters.
  • New-Age Retro Hippie: Xander Skye, the Holistic HR Manager, seems to be this. He actually has no idea what HR entails and is faking it to keep his job.
  • "No Peeking!" Request: After being shot down by Miranda, Reggie asks her to turn around as he leaves because "It's hard to make a suave exit when you're blind".
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend:
    • Skull's super-intelligent cat.
    • Inverted with Skull. Everyone in the comic could see Skull with the exception of Max Powers until 2010.
  • Oblivious Admirer: Ricky "Turtle" Tuttle is this to Francis.
  • Offhand Backhand: Robbie t akes out a sales drone before he can do any damage.
  • Only Sane Man: Leela is hired for this job. She focuses on the numbers and the accounting side of the company.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Scratch made a name for himself clinbing into Christmas trees and getting into fights with Santa Claus as Kringus. Skull thus doesn't trust Scratch 2.0 when the latter is eyeing the new office tree and saying he doesn't have much interest in Christmas trees. it turns out that his wizard friend interfered with Scratch's resurrected personality, to ensure that the truly evil Kringus would be dead.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: A Beast Man version that has self-control while transformed and complete control over the change, which is instantaneous and painless. The only obvious change is claws and instant fur growth, though the second arc implies they also have enhanced abilities. Two Halloween arcs:
    • The first is in 2004. Cole gets bitten by a werewolf and infects Jade and Brent. Francis thinks it's cool, tries and fails to get bitten as well, and in the end cures them with wolfsbane out of spite.
    • The second is in 2005. It turns out Cole never drank the spiked punch and is still a wolfman. He is tricked into biting Francis, and the two go on to use their enhanced abilities to fight crime. In the end, Scratch Fury, Destroyer of Worlds tricks them into eating wolfsbane to depower them, because he doesn't want them foiling his plans of world domination.
  • Pac-Man Fever: Francis gets a ring with a Pokemon on it. Not a specific Pokemon, just "a Pokemon". A minor example, but considering Francis and Marcy are supposed to be nerds, the reference feels awkward. Of course the fact they are completely drunk at the time might help explain it.
  • Paintball Episode: a paintball storyline gets most of the rules right, then turns around and intentionally gets them wrong.
  • Pandaing to the Audience: The Office Panda.
  • Pet the Dog: The panda saves Brent from the Panda Wars crew when they take him hostage. Rather, he tries to mount a rescue but they collapse before he can fight them.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Very rarely does the plot involve the cast actually having to produce a magazine. The rest of the time the office is just a setting for hijinks.
    • Lampshaded in a guest strip:
      Brent: You know, this is the first time I've actually seen our magazine.
    • Lampshaded again here:
      Marcie: Don't you have work to do?
      Francis: Probably. My job description has never been very clear.
    • Justified as the magazine is now no longer in production. They're now a game publishing company that never seems to publish any games.
  • Porn Stash: Robbie's entire second floor of his mansion is one.
    Francis: My God Robbie, how did you amass this much porn?!
Robbie: I own a couple of adult entertainment companies. They send me one of everything.
** At which point Francis starts making Smut Angels.
  • Pregnancy Scare: Arc starts here and lasts about 17 strips, includes a self-insightful dream sequence, and at the end we see that Brent had nearly proposed to Jade.
  • Product Placement: Not necessarily in the comic itself, but several of the site designs have been lousy with it, almost to the point that clicking anywhere outside the comic accidentally would take you to a sponsor site. At the end of July 2011, PvP was sponsored by Magic: The Gathering.
  • Proud to Be a Geek:
    • The whole cast, with the exception of Jade. Even she might just be a different style of geek...
    • Brent is actually an aversion, and while he admits to "interests that coincide with nerdity" he denies being an actual nerd, which Francis (a straight example of this trope) calls him out on. He's an avowed Apple geek who will buy any product they make, a D&D player, a gamer, he plays World of Warcraft with his wife (who's in many ways geekier than him), quotes movies constantly, has declared Joss Whedon his master, almost dropped out of college because he was hooked on Sega games, and consistently gets into arguments about genre fiction or gaming with Francis and Cole. But he's not a nerd. Definitely not a nerd. He's also a big fan of Star Wars and plays every game released in this franchise with Cole.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Particularly obvious with the treatment of Max Powers. He is, by all appearances, a friendly guy who's happy to help, whose worst crimes are being successful and pulling bad jokes no worse than the protagonists would pull. Yet every time he stopped by the PvP office he was received like he was some sort of colossal dick dead set on destroying everything the staff held dear, for no discernible reason. This was confronted and deconstructed during the Thanksgiving 2008 arc. The trope became moot in 2010 with Max becoming an accepted member of the staff.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Panda.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Marcy went to college in one story arc, and later returned.
    • Robbie and Jase. Robbie still shows up on occasion, but Jase is basically gone, having dropped most of his college-era slacker lifestyle after entering a relationship with Robbie's female gardener.
    • Cole's now-ex-wife and their children.
  • Real Joke Name: Butler and the French Maid Suitecannes.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Not long after Scott Kurtz moved from Dallas to Seattle in 2009, the PvP staff made a similar relocation. Averted by the Time Skip to PVP 3.0, as Kurtz explicitly stated that the reason for the reboot was so Real Life didn't write the plot as he felt unable to address the very serious current issues in the comic but ignoring them would also be problematic, so he opted to to Take a Third Option and shift the timeline into the future.
    • In mid June 2021, Kurtz suspended updates of the main comic and started posting a new comic called Mort, about a son dealing with his father having a stroke and having to move in with him to care for him, based on Kurtz's own experiences dealing with his own father's seriously declining health.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless:
    • Zig-zagged here. Scratch has actually made a cure for the common cold — but uses it for selfish and trivial purposes.
    • Francis once builds a robot duplicate of himself... to wait in line for Star Wars Episode III.
  • Redundant Parody: In one Lolbat strip we see his Grammar Nazi-themed Rogues Gallery. Kurtz made one of the villains "Onomatopoeia" as a joke both on the theme and the use of onomatopoeia in the sixties Batman show. However, there actually is a DC Comics villain called Onomatopoeia, based on a sinister reinterpretation of the same reference, and he even looks somewhat similar (by coincidence) to what Kurtz drew. To his credit, on being informed of this Kurtz edited the strip and replaced him with a palindrome-themed villain.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Subverted. While S.C.R.A.T.C.H. gets a new dog courtesy of a cat sorcerer, it's clear that Murray won't ever replace Kirby from the way he calls his cat "Mama".
  • The Reveal: BUTLER is Lolbat!
  • Revised Ending: Kurtz frequently pokes fun at other works, usually through parody. Occasionally he'll indulge his sense of the ridiculous by creating an alternate ending to a known work, often simply by brushing away Artistic License and showing a more probable outcome. This is a parody ending of one of the original Twilight Zone's most famous episodes,Time Enough At Last.
  • Running Gag: Several:
    • The Giant Panda savaging Brent.
    • A strip ending with an ambulance speeding away after a character gets Amusing Injuries.
    • Cole and Brent racing to an appointment by blasting off in the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazzard (after wishing for it from a genie).
    • Brent puts Skull on the look-out for Cole while working on a scheme.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Denise averts this as of the start of Pv P 3.0. She comes across as Ben Stein levels of deadpan.
  • '70s Hair: Bulldog and Cooch. They haz it.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: In "Ding!" as a Literal Transformative Experience of Character Level increase that provides a Plot-Relevant Age-Up with Francis and Marcy.
    "LEVEL UP! You gain: +3 Years Maturity!... Community College Courses!
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Jade. And how! We don't get to see the outfit below the waist, but up top, the huge fur-trimmed collar draws the eye's attention to her ample cleavage like a Cleavage Window turned up to eleven.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sitcom Archnemesis: Max Powers.
    • In Real Life, Gabe and Tycho from Penny Arcade, their good-natured cruelty to each other popping up in a strip every once in a while. Scott's foreword to one of their print collections ended with "Fuck them, and fuck you for buying this book and not PVP," and Gabe and Tycho refer to Scott as "Steve Kuntz" on a regular basis. Now that Scott is living in Seattle and working in the Penny Arcade offices, one only assumes that the hijinks will continue.
      • Also, the old WoW guilds (Panda Attack for PvP, the Knights of Arcadia for Penny Arcade) were pretty much an online, massively-multiplayer extension of the real-life relationship between the two. B^Uckley tried to get in on it with his own guild, but when Kurtz, Krahulik, and Holkins would have none of it, he ended things on a predictable note (e.g. massive hostility for all).
  • Sunglasses at Night: Brent: He wore them under his bandages when he was blinded, and when he took them off, he was Blind Without 'Em.
  • Super Hero:
    • Kurtz's earlier character Captain Amazing made an early appearance and earned a spinoff.
    • More recently, we've seen Jingle Force Five (a Christmas-themed parody of the original X-Men lineup).
    • The Lolbat is an ongoing character; he's a combination of Batman and the internet lolcat phenomenon whose Rogues Gallery is made up of Grammar Nazis and other assorted Internet-based phenomena. He also has a sidekick named ReTweet.
  • Take That!: Kurtz inserts plenty of these, aimed at a wide range of targets.
  • Teacher/Student Romance/Hot For Teacher: Jade and Miranda go out to try to find a suitable boyfriend for Miranda. Jade tries to dress frumpy so as not divert attention away from her sister, but the effect she gets isn't what she intends.
  • Team Dad: Cole takes on this role a lot, especially early on when Francis was still a teenager.
  • Thanks for the Mammary: Francis honks Jade's boob when he thinks that he's in the future and therefore his actions have no consequences (It Makes Sense in Context). This leads to Jade leaving PvP to start her her own magazine. Part of the reason she returns to PvP is because one of her (female) coworkers in the new magazine does the exact same thing.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Marcie is almost certainly talking about Destiny, but Francis' confusion is understandable.
  • Thermometer Gag: When Skull is feeling ill, Brent takes him to the vet, claiming that he is a dog. When the vet goes to take his temperature, Skull takes the thermometer off him and pops it in his mouth:
    Brent: That's just a little trick I taught him.
    Vet: Fine. But that's a rectal thermometer.
  • Those Two Guys: Brent runs into a pair of pretentious hipstersnote  as soon as PvP hits Seattle. The team keeps running into them after that. They're usually either snarky, indignant, or both.
  • Time Skip: May 18, 2020. Francis is now the boss, and Kate Fontaine Sienna is about to interview for a job...
  • Two Gamers on a Couch: Robbie and Jase were very nearly a parody of this as a B side story. At one point they got locked in their playing room for four months and didn't even notice. Also later the couch broke and they had a funeral pyre for it.
    Robbie: Okay everyone stand back. This thing absorbed decades worth of farts and it's going to go up like a Roman candle.
  • Unconventional Smoothie: Francis's twitch-gamer power drink.
  • Unfortunate Names: When Skull creates his City of Heroes character, he makes a fire-based hero which he wants to name Flame Retardant. Unfortunately, the game engine's limitations prevent him from entering the whole thing which then ends up being Flame Retard instead.
  • Universal-Adaptor Cast: Some sequences, such as the "Bulldog and Cooch" strips using Cole, Brent and Max Powers playing different characters.
  • Viva Las Vegas!: Francis and Marcie get a quickie Vegas marriage during a gaming tournament.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: The arc starts here when Brent decides to pop the question at Comic Con. He has some Stormtroopers dress up Jade as Leia, while he decks out as Luke before Cole points out they're siblings, and Brent quickly switches into Han Solo garb. Starts out well, goes horribly wrong because the Stormtroopers won't let Brent as Han get past them and chase him when they learn he assaulted a guard, goes right when Jade accepts, goes wrong again when they end up in jail due to causing a riot at ComicCon, and then back out again since it turns out the guard was a convicted felon breaking his parole.
  • We Can Rule Together: In her first D&D campaign, Leela betrays the party and offers herself up to manage the evil dragon's kingdom.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Done twice in a row. Max breaks into Cole's office and figures out PvP is going under and Cole calls him out on it and promptly fires him... But then Brent, after finding out Max is indeed right and that Cole had been ignoring Max, gives Cole an epic slap to the face.
  • Wham Line:
  • Wham Shot: During a date to be as romantic as possible to their dates, Brent brings out a box. Then he opens it, much to Jade's shock because it has a ring. Brent proceeds to say, "Jade, will you marry me?" He later reveals he was thinking about it for a while and thought it would be a good time. She doesn't accept then but promises to in the future when it's not part of a bet or he's under the iPhone influence.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Max Powers' game company is never directly mentioned again (and only somewhat alluded to by Max himself on a few occasions) when he returns in 2010 and joins PVP instead.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Although the strip frequently alludes to films, comics and video games in its plots, the confrontation between Cole and Lucille which played out over several strips at the end of a 2013 LARP arc is taken practically line-by-line from the confrontation between Luke and the Emperor from Return of the Jedi, with Cole as Luke, Lucille as the Emperor, and Max as Vader.
  • You Are What You Hate: Cole tries to deliver this as a wise teaching to Francis to help him get over his hatred of Ricky Tuttle. It backfires when Francis asks if thatís why he hates Max so much.
  • Younger Than They Look: Cole, Brent, Robbie and Jase were college roommates, which suggests they're around the same age. Cole states in one early strip that he's about to turn 30. He looks a solid 15 years older than Brent.
  • Zany Scheme: Referred to as "Wacky Adventure". On one occasion Cole actually vetoed a perfectly good plan to discover the identity of Jade's online romance on the grounds that it wasn't interestingly wacky enough.

Alternative Title(s): Pv P Online, Mort