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Webcomic / Shortpacked!

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Top to bottom: Robin, Ethan, Malaya, Mike, Amber, Faz. Galasso and Leslie are off to the side.

Ethan: This is unprofessional behaviour for a retail store.
Amber: Yeah, you tell that to the despot, the ninja, and the Zombie Reagan.

Shortpacked! is a webcomic by David Willis and a part of the Walkyverse, running from 2005 to 2015.

The title refers to the toy store where the main characters work, and the strip starts with Robin DeSanto—It's Walky!'s hyperactive speedster—taking a position there as a saleswoman. Mike has already been working there for some time by then, in spite of...certain factors that should render this unlikely. They're joined by Ethan Siegal, a self-righteous toy obsessive; Amber O'Malley, a recovered introvert; and a host of others, each with their own quirks and neuroses, with the cast gradually expanding and contracting over its run.

The general tone of the comic is lighter and wackier than its predecessors, and though its characters do indulge in angst from time to time, it's more the result of, say, the moral ramifications of keeping your boss prisoner in a storage closet than any realism in the storylines. It's also more pop-culture oriented — jokes regarding Transformers and Batman abound — and more prone to filler than Willis's previous works. Whether or not this is a bad thing depends on how big a fan you are of Transformers and Batman.

On January 17, 2014, Shortpacked's ninth birthday, Willis announced that Shortpacked! would cease regular updates on its tenth birthday the following year. This concludes the narrative of the Walkyverse, while Joyce & Walky! wouldn't finish until May of that year.

Although the comic is over, the Shortpacked! website is still periodically updated with Willis' reviews of some of his latest toy acquisitions and April Fools Day strips.

Shortpacked! contains examples of:

  • Affirmative-Action Legacy: African-American Lucy looked set to take up the mantle of Amazi-Girl until she decided it wasn't her thing. She ends up wearing the costume in the final two strips.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Robin and Jake Manley were planning out a bill to solve all of the US's problems, Robin claimed that they needed to solve "the economy, the disparity 'tween the rich an' the poor, immigration, healthcare, AIDS, racism, homophobia, that 'Big Bang Theory' TV show..."
  • Artistic License – Statistics: By the author's admission, statistics do not work like this. But why should that ruin a good joke?
  • Art Evolution: Willis already had a pretty consistent style by the beginning of the series, but as the series has gone on it's gone from black-and-white to color, changed the color palette, and tended away from the more dynamic art of the initial strips.
  • Ass Shove: Robin uses Faz to give Sarah Palin the Hancock treatment. "Faz is... envy of Fox News..."
  • As the Good Book Says...: When Galasso tries to lecture Jeshua, He responds by quoting the book of Matthew.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Giant Mutant Honey-Bun shows up in both the normal universe, where it's fought by Amber and Mike, and the alternate universe where the Drama Tag was never pulled.
  • Author Appeal:
    • Compare Amber with how Willis draws his wife. At one point Amber got a makeover and was perceived as more attractive in-universe; the makeover mostly made her resemble Willis' wife even more.
    • In this comic Robin and Joe discuss this trope in relation to Catwoman, and how one could tell a lot about the creator and their fetishes by how their Catwoman is portrayed. It then shows what Catwoman would look like if drawn by Willis. Sure enough, she looks like Maggie in a cheesy costume, updating the Transformers Wiki.
  • Author Avatar: Willis occasionally makes a cameo as Ethan's arch-nemesis on the Transformers Wiki, most notably in one short storyline where he proposed to his girlfriend.
  • Author Filibuster: While Willis' views are normally worked into the narrative of the strip, there are occasions where they dramatically shift the focus of the strip entirely: when a point needs to be made about American politics, the storylines shift from being about misadventures at the titular toystore to becoming almost political satire in Washington DC. This tends to happen around elections, naturally.
  • Awesome Mc Cool Name: Greg Killmaster, a real-life special effects artist. Robin is so impressed by his name she decides she's going to find him and marry him so she can be Mrs. Killmaster, but it turns out he's taken.
  • Back from the Dead: Not only does Mike come back, somehow Galasso also resurrects Ronald Reagan (and later Jesus) to work in his store. Mike's revival was left completely unexplained until after his wedding, when Joyce gave a hint to Amber.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: The Trope Namer, as seen here.
  • Batman Gambit: Meredith orchestrates one to make Amber's internet boyfriend Nathan less attractive to her.
  • Bait-and-Switch Lesbians: On Robin's advice, Amber tries to convince Faz that she is a lesbian by kissing another woman (a cameo appearance of a well-known webcomics critic who happens to be bi in real life) but he responds by giving a lecture on the Kinsey Scale.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For:
    • Robin wishes that her life at Shortpacked! could be more like her Darker and Edgier time in SEMME, but after she accidentally pulls the store's Drama Tag, the short-term results are so drastic that she begins devoting herself to driving the store back to wackiness by any means possible.
    • A Transformers fan angry that some Transformers are women brings up the old nutshell that because Transformers are alien robots, they shouldn't logically have gender at all. Amber brings up the then-recent news that Nightshade from Transformers: EarthSpark is agender and goes by they/them pronouns. Despite being, ostensibly, exactly what he wanted, this only makes him even angrier, so much so that he starts bleeding out of his eyes.
  • Best Known for the Fanservice: In-universe. Robin's been a congresswoman key in landmark legislation for two terms with active campaigning for a third term, and before that was a decorated war hero. All anybody remembers is that one sex tape.
  • Better than a Bare Bulb: Robin tap dances and backflips on the fourth wall regularly.
  • Back for the Finale: Dina, with check-ins from several other former employees.
  • Big Bad: Sydney Yus is the closest that the series has to one, but she's so dumb and ineffectual that it's more of a joke than anything.
  • Big "NO!":
  • Bilingual Bonus: Rick's sword makes a "Funana" sound.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Roz's Attention Whore and It's All About Me tendencies also become more apparent the more she appears.
  • Blackmail: This is how Amber gets Mike to date her.
  • Blush Sticker: At first just Ronnie, but due to Art Evolution they're eventually applied to the entire cast. Some characters, however, eventually lose them, and Mike only ever gets them when he's drunk.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The comic ends with the cast facing down an invasion of Soggies, confronting Sogmaster in the final few strips.
  • Book Ends:
    • The punchline of the first strip is Ethan reminding Galasso "This is just a toystore." The final strip has the Big Bad saying the same thing, to which Leslie replies "The hell it is!"
    • Bonus points for starting and ending on the same day, January 17th.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her:Mike made his proposal to Amber as horrifying as possible in hopes that she'd leave him for someone better. It didn't work.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Done regularly by the author in his cameos, and sometimes by the characters too.
    Robin: Here you go, America! Take notes 'cuz I'm finally gonna show you what Jughead's hat really is!
    Leslie: Who are you yelling at?
  • Brick Joke: In the storyline where it's revealed that Faz is Amber's half-brother, we meet Rose and Zaph, two Amber and Faz look-alikes. Much later, Rose and Zaph are both seen attending Amber's father's funeral.
  • Broken Aesop: Constant complaints about fandoms abound (especially the Transformers fandom). Willis is not only a prominent part of said fandom, but also embodies many of the issues he complains about. This is often Played for Laughs, however.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Leslie ends up delivering an impressive beatdown on Head Alien after it's revealed he's murdered alternate-universe Robins, which results in him growing to giant size and crushing her, almost fatally. Then Robin shows up...
  • Callback:
  • Captain Ersatz: Willis is generally more likely to include the real thing than a mimicry, but one that sticks out is Coffeeright Theft, a local coffeehouse the characters occasionally visit. It's pretty much just Coffee of Doom.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    Ethan: What else did I miss?
    Amber: Iowa okayed gay marriage.
    Ethan: I'm serious. What's new?
    Amber: The store had a near-orgy.
    Ethan: You continue to tell me lies.
    • Mike attempts to give his condolences for the passing of Amber's pet hamster. Her reaction? Rabid, disbelieving laughter. Granted, he may not actually feel sorry for the animal, but is still sincere in wanting her to feel better.
  • Cast Full of Gay: Of the three leads, Ethan is gay, Amber is (probably) straight, and Robin (after much confusion) identifies as "generally undefinably queer". Also, Leslie is a lesbian, Mike will sleep with anyone if the motivations are right, Drew is bi, and Conquest will also sleep with anyone at the drop of a hat. There's also Thad and his late boyfriend Evan. Malaya is Robosexual for Ultra Car, who is homoromantic asexual. Rick and Faz are such Cloudcuckoolanders that it's impossible to tellnote , Galasso can't tell genders apart despite having a daughter, and even Ronnie seems to imply he's had affairs with men in one strip, leaving essentially just Roz, Jacob, Ken and Lucy. This is a phenomenon Amber's commented on several times.
  • Cast from Calories: This is played for laughs with Robin's Hyperactive Metabolism, in stories where she will occasionally eat something truly outrageous in its caloric content and then wake up weeks or months later as if from a blackout, and find she's accomplished some lofty achievement in the interim.
  • Catch a Falling Star: Mike gets to play a hero and rescue Amazi-Girl like this.
  • Catchphrase: Whenever Batman shows up, "I'm Batman" is imminent. It's to the point where it's practically become The Coconut Effect—bad guys expect to hear "I'm Batman", and at least one bad guy realizes something's up when new Batman Dick Grayson doesn't say it.
  • Ceiling Cling: Attempted, but Leslie watches far too much sci-fi to fall for it.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • The strip has done a crossover with Something*Positive, with Davan appearing in a strip and delivering one of Chho-Choo's kittens to Roz. However, a Something Positive booth with a full-size banner of Davan was seen in the background of a strip set at a convention, and Randy Milholland was mentioned as existing in-universe.
    • David Willis, the comic's creator, also exists in this universe, and has a rivalry with Ethan. His nickname is even still "Walky". A background gag in one strip suggests that In-Universe he is the creator of a comic called Shortpants instead of Shortpacked.
  • Cerebus Syndrome/Cerebus Retcon: Parodied in the "Drama Tag" arc.
    • Reverse Cerebus Syndrome: The Darker and Edgier doesn't last, but it is sometimes played with.
    • Actually gets reconstructed during the "Leslie goes to an alternate universe" arc. She visits a world where the drama tag was never pulled. While it's funny it's also disturbing to see characters that have absolutely no Character Development at all, and live in barely-suppressed discomfort to afford a veneer of happiness. The moral: a world where nothing ever gets serious is a world where nothing ever matters.
  • Chastity Couple:
    • Robin and Leslie were this before Robin got used to being in a same-sex relationship.
    • Malaya and Ultra Car were this due to UC's asexuality before Malaya admitted she didn't want sex so much as she wanted UC to get her off.
  • Chekhov's Gunman:
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Malaya is probably the most consistently foul-mouthed character, as even her introduction demonstrates. She even calls her iguana "Fuckface" (its real name is Herbert).
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment:
    • Ultra Car's preferred method of dealing with people who displease her is to strand them in the Amazon jungle, a practice she refers to as "Amazoning".
    • The ending of the "Robin vs Legion of Something" fight. Poor Sarah Palin! She didn't deserve that! (Faz did, though.)
  • Coming-Out Story:
    • Ethan, mainly as a result of Robin's clumsy attempts to seduce him.
    • Robin, who realized she'd been attracted to Amber at the start of the strip and later fell in love with Leslie.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: It turns out Jacob is a recovering sex addict...who stumbles on a stash of hot librarians, seems to have a crush on Amber, and became an unwilling Chick Magnet in one arc.
  • Commander Contrarian: Malaya has done two things since she showed up: hit on Leslie, and complain about absolutely everything.
  • Creator Thumbprint: Transformers humor. And, to a lesser extent, other toy and comic book humor.
  • Crossover Punchline: The final panel of this strip is set in the Dumbing of Age universe.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Robin to Mike when he claims he is no good at comforting his fiancée because he's... what he is.
    Dude, you are going to be a husband an' a father. Try harder.
  • Discontinuity Nod: "Hey, everyone agreed to never mention that 'Second Eaton' crap ever again."
  • Denser and Wackier: Than the Walkyverse at large. Lampshaded with the Drama Tag storyline which, while it did introduce Amber's rather dark backstory, largely just caused drama via even wackier hijinks. (Sure, Robin and Leslie's breakup was fairly depressing, but it was caused by using Cadbury Cream eggs as cereal in order to induce a sugar-high black-out during which Robin could legislate world peace.)
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Ken is a bit of a Deconstruction. He spends years pursuing and obsessing over Malaya, who basically acts like a huge jerk to him and everyone else. When he finally admits how he feels she tells him in no uncertain terms that nothing will ever happen between them. He sleeps with Conquest to try to make her jealous but, after the massive confidence boost that comes from losing his virginity to an impossibly gorgeous woman (who later tells him that he was a good lover, despite his inexperience, because he is a good person) he seems to have decided "hey, forget her", and starts pursuing women who actually give him the time of day.
  • Don't Explain the Joke: This strip.
  • Doppelgänger Dating: Robin and Jake Manley.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Practically all the characters have issues. And let's not even get started on the relationships between them...
  • Edit War: In-universe, where Ethan enters one on the Transformers wiki with Willis's Author Avatar, based on the order in which information is being presented. This escalated into a real-world fistfight (with pudding, thanks to Robin).
    Amber: I've said this for years. Internet fights should spare us the giant images of dogs or whatever with "PWNED" in huge text and just have people kill each other.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Amber tells Faz that he's actually her half-brother he immediately goes and sets fire to his life-size Amber pillow, despite spending several years trying to get into her pants in any way possible.
  • Everyone Is Bi: By the comic's end, everyone but Galasso and Reagan have had some form of romantic encounter with members of both sexes.
  • Evil Twin: Inverted; there's another store called McAwesome's Parasailing and Chocolate Bakery, which is basically a much-improved version of Shortpacked!. Ethan juuust avoided going to work there because he happened to see Shortpacked! on the other corner.
  • Exact Eavesdropping: Leslie shows up to make up with Robin just in time to see her making out with Joe.
  • Fan Dumb: In-Universe, fandoms are the bane of Ethan's existence (and Willis' in real life). Given that Ethan is also an active member of the fandom, it leads to plenty of Hypocritical Humor.
  • First Father Wins: One of the seasonal hires is apparently the walking embodiment of every passed-over stepfather in movies. The Alt Text specifically references James Marsden, who's known for this (and Romantic Runner-Up).
  • Flat "What": Mike's reaction upon learning that Amber has adopted a pair of hamsters.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the strip where Robin persuades Amber to snoop around Mike's room Mike's McAwesome's uniform is somewhat visible in his closet a while before it actually comes up in the story.
    • In a fairly early strip, Robin makes a crack about her father beating her, and Amber tells her sharply that's not appropriate to joke about. It was most of a year before we found out why.
  • Two Words: Added Emphasis: Four in this case: "that is very good," with only the strip's title pointing them out, since the line again reveals a hidden relation, Amber and Faz being half-siblings.
  • Freud Was Right: Rosenthal Industries. "So the building is ''intentionally'' penis-shaped, right?"
  • Fridge Horror: In-universe, Amber seems to suffer from a case of this when she realizes Faz might actually be her half-brother.
  • The "Fun" in "Funeral": A slightly low-key version at Amber's dad's funeral. Mike attends in party attire, complete with little paper hat, noisemaker, and confetti; Amber freely admits to one of the mourners that her father was an abusive asshole; Faz introduces Amber to his new girlfriend and their...disturbing sex life; finally, Amber berates her father's corpse for dying before she got a chance to stand up to him...and then Mike flips off both middle fingers to the corpse while delivering this line:
    Mike: Later, jerkhole. I'm fuckin' your daughter.
  • Gainax Ending: The final arc throws all logic out the window, including, among other things: reality collapsing due to too much diversity, Dina suddenly coming back to life and the cast facing down an invasion of Soggies.
  • Gilligan Cut: Mike cleverly hurts his boss.
  • The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Robin vs. Roz
  • The Ghost: Hot Wheels Guy.
  • Heroic BSoD: Well, actually, Heroic Network Timeout. There's an actual Blue Screen a bit later, but it seems to be more like the universe breaking. To make matters worse the story arc is called "heroic bsod."
  • Hero of Another Story: Muffy Diver, albeit a story that is very similar to the Walkyverse narrative.
  • Homoerotic Dream: Ethan has a dream in which the cast of The Daily Show appears before him in his apartment. When Ethan asks the cast why they're in his apartment, they explain that they're there "to help Rob Corddry make every erotic fantasy of yours come true!" The trouble is, Ethan doesn't realize he's gay yet and he wakes up startled. He decides he's had enough social commentary and should start watching porn like everyone else.
  • I Am Spartacus:
  • If You Die, I Call Your Stuff: Luigi does this to a naive Daisy.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Robin walks up to Ethan in a skimpy school-girl outfit holding a Batman toy, just to see what he notices first. (It's Batman.)
  • Improbably Predictable/The Tape Knew You Would Say That: Faz's voicemail message is absurdly specific for this situation.
  • Insane Troll Logic:
  • Intercontinuity Crossover:
    • Leslie acquired a hairless, pink, hypoallergenic kitten, one of the litter sired by Choo-Choo Bear on Sprinkles.
    • Shortpacked!'s staff are often seen having conversations at Coffee of Doom, comlete with background cameos from Marten, Faye, and Dora.
    • The Shortpacked! gang has seen movies at the Multiplex 10 on occasion, and Malaya ended up having sex with Jason.
      • Though in their respective realities, the latter two comics take place far away from Shortpacked!, Willis claims that the Walkyverse versions of Coffee of Doom and Multiplex 10 are located in San Francisco, the Questionable Content version of Shortpacked is located in Massachusetts, and the Multiplex version of Shortpacked is in Chicago, so it all works out. The Walkyverse Coffee of Doom is actually called Coffeeright Theft, but it has the same staff, layout, regular clientele, and espresso dinosaur.
  • Issue Drift: Became considerably more political during the 2008 election, and given Robin's side job of being a Representative, the comic still drifted into the political realm from time to time until Robin lost her 2012 re-election bid.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
    • Leslie, towards Robin, so many times, until Robin was finally able to realize that she was happiest with Leslie.
    • Mike's motive for trying to break up with Amber. Her definition of happiness didn't turn out to be what he expected, however.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: Fuckface (Malaya's iguana) boosts Ultra Car's charisma to the point where people find it nearly impossible to disagree with her.
  • The Knights Who Say "Squee!": Referenced with Batman getting really excited that The Gray Ghost is putting on his old outfit.
  • Lamarck Was Right: Choo-Choo Bear gained his special abilities because he was on chemo. Apparently, his kittens share the same abilities now.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Malaya gets a couple of doses:
    • Her general Jerkass attitudes toward nerds were rooted in how much they remind her of that one boy she met when she was young who bored her when he couldn't stop talking about Princess Mononoke. She later finds herself having sex with the exact same boy (ie. Jason from Multiplex) her unjustified nerd-hate came from, and doesn't take it well.
    • Ken's abandonment of his Dogged Nice Guy role towards her after sleeping with Conquest is a result of her shabby treatment of him and finally realizing he can do better.
  • Last Het Romance: Robin for Ethan. She already suspects that he's gay, but pursues him anyway. He's not interested. She gets pissed off when he bangs a chick, and when he asks why she shouts he's supposed to be gay. Confronted with this, something goes click in his mind. Cue gayness.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: If you're reading for the first time, avoid the comments section unless you really want to know in the first few strips about every relationship snag and plot twist throughout the whole comic. It's not helped by the fact that the current comment system was added in 2010, so for about five years' worth of strips all the comments are retrospective. Frequently the first comment on a page will explain how something on that page hints towards later developments.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Head Alien II's monologue about how the removal of the Drama Tag will eventually drive people away, seeing as they can get Batman elsewhere. In-universe, he's talking about the store, but from the audience's perspective he's talking about how a turn for the Darker and Edgier may drive away the comic's readers.
  • Left Hanging: The comic ends just before the staff fights the Sogmaster—the entire story arc is a reference to the line "Soggies May Rule" from a Cap'n Crunch ad, and as such the cliffhanger is the only way to maintain the ambiguity inherent in the "may" part of the sentence.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: The New Amazi-Girl mistakes Ultra Car (in her new guise, since she won't fit in the Spider-Car guise any more) for a supervillain when the latter attempts to stop a shoplifter in the storeroom.
  • Living in a Furniture Store: Drew's apartment, in contrast to Ethan's. Played for Drama as Ethan finds Drew's apartment uncomfortably sterile while Drew feels claustrophobic and a little creeped out surrounded by Ethan's toys.
  • Love Chart: Robin drew one up to insure things never reached Love Dodecahedron levels. It never really worked.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Amber and Faz are half-siblings.
  • Manchild: Everyone has their moments, but Robin really stands out.
  • Megaton Punch: Delivered by Leslie, of all people.
  • Merchandise-Driven: Discussed when Ethan is incredulous at a claim that Transformers, a franchise that has always been centered around shilling toys, somehow sold out its integrity with the movie adaptation.
    Ethan: How can Transformers possibly 'sell out'? It "started" as a 20-minute toy commercial.
  • Mood Whiplash: An intense moment between Robin and Leslie is interrupted by Ethan...who's in the middle of some sexy roleplay with Drew.
    Drew: Get back here, I'm not finished capturing the Riddler!
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Ultra Car in her new humanoid chassis:
    My sensors indicate your body temperature is now rearranging in a way similar to the bodies of meatfolks with a desire to engage in - oh.
  • Mythology Gag: The anomaly in the final arc is a "class one-nine-nine-seven", or 1997, the year the Walkyverse started.
  • Not Even Bothering with an Excuse: In one strip, Galasso calls on the radio for someone to deal with the two customers up front. Everyone either has a genuine reason or an excuse, in the middle of which, Mike offers "I don't feel like it."
  • Of Corsets Sexy: Amber briefly tries this when Robin informs her that it will make her attractive and therefore unapproachable.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Robin dismembers Head Alien while Leslie's blacked out.
  • Oh, Crap!: Amber punches Mike hard enough to make him smile. The end times are upon us all.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: Robin's a decorated war hero, and served two terms as her district's congresswoman, having ran actively for a third term, and having been key an a great deal of landmark legislation, including one bill that resulted in a month of world peace. All people remember her from is that one sex tape.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Galasso burning the drama tag goes unexplained for seven years. Cue this strip, and the scene suddenly becomes heartbreaking.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: For the first time in seven years, Faz stopped smiling smugly when he discovered Amber is his half-sister.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: The Avengers: the best movie Historical Jesus has seen in his entire life (out of a sample size of The Avengers, Short Circuit and Short Circuit 2).
  • Painting the Medium: When Lucy becomes the new Amazi-Girl Robin tells her to "say it like a logo". Sure enough, the next time she says "AMAZI-GIRL" it's in its very own font. Lucy lampshades that she didn't say it any different.
  • Passing the Torch: Amber to Lucy.
    Ethan: Are you hired?
    Lucy: I think so. She cried for, like, five minutes and then handed me this corn popper.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Robin has no idea who Amazi-Girl actually is. Her confusion leads to her accusing Amber of being Ultra Car for some reason. Fans continue the joke, never recognizing Amazi-Girl.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Played for Laughs when Lucy finds a robber in the store and attacks him. She stops and questions the morality of that, until the guy insults her by calling her a fake geek girl, and she goes back to beating him up.
  • Perverse Sexual Lust: A very negative in-universe example: Omnios appeared in a three-strip run in November 2008, a 26-year-old social outcast with "Aspergers-y" symptoms who continuously raves about his crush on Jenny Wakeman. Turns out that Omnios was a real user on the Allspark Forums, which David Willis is a member of. Omnios has since been banned, but he's achieved a bit of Memetic Mutation as one who One Who Must Not Be Spoken Of amongst the Allspark users.
  • Progressively Prettier: Amber's mom, Stacy, was fat and plain looking when first introduced. In her later appearance, she's lost a lot of weight, though still chubby, and is far more well-groomed. Justified, as the next comic has her mentioning that she has made some positive changes in her life after divorcing Amber's abusive father. Exercising, and buying newer and better clothes and makeup are probably at least some of those changes.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Duncan, in a sense. In most of his appearances, he whines about toys, but outside the store he's a nice guy, and even tries to be friends with Ethan.
  • Punny Name: Between Leslie Bean and Faz O. Lee (them and about half-a-dozen other Walkyverse characters), Willis has shown quite a fondness for these. However, it is subverted at least once:
    Robin: Hey, it's that guy!
    Thad: My name is Thaddeus.
    Robin: Thad ? Is your last name "Guy"?
    Thad: No.
    Robin: Dang, that would've been convenient.
    • Malaya means free in the Philippine language. Doubles as Meaningful Name.
    • According to the tags, this guy's name is "Whitney McJority".
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Amber, Mike and Ethan so that their arcs could be finished satisfactorily without Shortpacked! immediately ending.
    • Faz, after annoying Robin one time too many, was last seen climbing into a lion pit and wasn't seen again until very near the end of the comic in one panel having killed at least one lion and wearing its skin as clothes.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Leslie receives one from Head Alien II when she tries to stop him, pointing out that she's a Flat Character who is only interesting due to her attachment to Robin. Leslie responds by pointing out that she has people who care about her and whom she cares about, which is more important than Head Alien's "big bully mad-on".
  • Recovered Addict: Jacob has an addictive personality and has become hooked on a variety of interests; part of the reason he's stuck working retail is that his addictions interfered with his studying law. Roz abused his addiction to get cheap, relationship-free sex, only for him to realize what it was doing to him. Eventually Amber got him out of his slump and he got clean, completing his law degree and moving away.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • Amber, when cursing the fact that she can't afford the new '80s Ninja Turtles toys because she's buying stuff for the coming baby instead.
    • Robin, when Faz tries to touch her pregnant belly, along with a furious snarling face. The sight is so terrifying that Faz not only loses his grin, he immediately climbs into a lion pit.
  • Replacement Scrappy: invoked Discussed with regards to the "Prime killed Animated" school of thought.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • How did Mike come back to life? Yes, Death Is Cheap, but Mike's resurrection is impossible even by the methods present in the Walkyverse. General consensus among readers is that he came back to life through sheer spite. This one was finally answered at Mike and Amber's wedding. Joyce got some of his blood on her shirt when he sacrificed himself for her. She also happened to give a non-government affiliated tech company the means to make their own resurrection chamber.
    • Relatedly, how exactly does Galasso manage to bring back dead people? And why does he have trouble with basic concepts like gender?
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Leslie's new cat looks less like an actual cat and more like a Mew.
  • Right Through the Wall: The walls of the apartment complex the staff lives in are quite thin, and thus hearing your neighbors' fun times is sometimes unavoidable. Mike figures out a way to make this work for him.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Sydney Yus makes some odd plans to get revenge for being fired.
  • Robosexual: Malaya for Ultra Car, which provides some drama as they try to figure out how to make a relationship work given that UC has a doll-like body and no sex drive.
  • Running Gag:
    • Major characters calling minor character Ken by the wrong name: "I knew it was something from Street Fighter!" Picked up quickly by the commenters, where it's become obligatory to call him by a new Street Fighter character name every time he's referred to.
    • Apparently God really wants Star Trek: Enterprise back on the air.
    • Aslan is always waiting for a bus. The one time it showed up, he'd just been called away.
  • Sanity Slippage: Anyone who works at Shortpacked! (and quite a few of the customers) will inevitably regress/evolve into or reveal themselves to be a tangled, neurotic mess, a jerk, or both.
  • Shark Pool: Galasso has one installed right under the store.
  • Shipper with an Agenda: Subverted. Amber once had a long-distance boyfriend with a female roommate. Amber was slightly worried, but Nathan assured her there was nothing going on. It turned out Meredith even gave him fashion advice—an absolutely repulsive pedostache that caused Amber to break up with him almost as soon as they met in person. Cut to the freshly-shaved Nathan and Meredith in bed.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The "Secondish Coming" arc has a realistic-looking portrayal of Jesus as a short, dark-skinned man.
  • Single-Target Law: Robin garners a huge amount of public support when she campaigns for a law that would force two of her male coworkers to fight in a giant vat of pudding.
  • Situational Sexuality: Malaya is attracted to Ultra Car. This despite having previously said she was "actually" straight to Leslie, and in one of the most brutally honest ways imaginable at that.
  • Smug Snake:
    • Faz, but he's hilariously bad at it.
    • Roz is a more subtle example, given her efforts to insinuate herself into her sister's life and seduce all of her friends.
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Inverted (and possibly subverted?) by Malaya. She went out with Leslie, but upon kissing her decided that she was straight after all. (She's not, but that doesn't make her orientation compatible with Leslie.)
  • Spin-Off: From the Walky saga, with Robin and Mike as the spin-offees.
  • Spit Take: Played with. Robin hears something shocking while taking a drink, only to swallow. She then takes another drink just so she can have a proper spit-take, complete with Unsound Effect.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The Shy Guys - to a rather creepy degree.
  • Stating the Simple Solution: Robin questions the logic of Sydney Yus' Disproportionate Retribution plan.
  • Straight Gay: Ethan was probably the most normal character until Jacob came along.
  • Straw Fan: Numerous one-shot characters, and a few nameless recurring extras. Oddly enough, most of them are actually members of the Transformers fandom, not the comic's. Eventually, Willis started posting links in the comments demonstrating that actual fan postings are the source for at least some of the one-shot characters.
  • Straw Misogynist: The Straw Fan of the "False Equivalence" strip originally existed solely to realize he's being sexist and to say that a version of Batman that a woman finds sexy makes him uncomfortable. In the strip where Nightshade from Transformers: EarthSpark is introduced to be nonbinary, he starts bleeding from his eyes in rage after realizing that Nightshade doesn't "have gender at all," exactly as he wanted.
  • Straw Vulcan: Mocked with Scarlett, who even consults the "Hollywood Strawman Scientist"'s handbook for advice.
  • Stylistic Callback:
    • The art style changes back to the style found in the earlier color comics in an alternate universe Shortpacked! to represent how the drama tag is sucking out all the drama in the universe. It changes back when Rachel shows up.
    • In the same storyline, a flashback to an earlier period in that universe is shown in black and white, calling back to the earliest Shortpacked comics.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: "Yes. My real offer."
  • Take That!:
    • "Smallbots" is a jab towards Lil Formers and its bias towards every Transformers continuity that isn't the Generation One cartoon, stating that essentially every strip covering a non-G1 Transformers continuity is nothing more than the author bashing the work and unfoundedly saying it's bad just because it isn't G1 by having a character's G1 counterpart insult their counterpart from another continuity.
    Amber: I keep clicking through in hopes that eventually the cartoonist discovers humor.
    Robin: I dunno, there's somethin' to be said for beatin' an idea into the ground.
    Ethan: All fanboys except me are stupid!
  • Test Kiss: When Ethan turns out to be gay, Robin tries this. It's immediately followed by Mike kissing him, and the audience figures out that Ethan never actually knew he was gay until that moment.
  • That Satisfying "Crunch!": Ethan really has it in for Alternators Tracks.
  • That Was Not a Dream: Robin goes through this shortly after pulling the Drama tag.
  • There Are No Global Consequences:
    • The alien invasion that Robin and Mike fought against is only occasionally mentioned—justified in one instance by Robin, who points out that her co-workers have their own stuff going on and aren't necessarily going to notice any of the political fallout.
    • Subverted with Ultra-Car, who's horrified to discover Joe has mass-produced talking cars like herself, and miffed when her existence can't freak Lucy out on account of their omnipresence.
  • Third-Person Person: Faz slips in and out of this speech pattern. Can be blamed more on his arrogance than on any difficulty speaking English.
  • The Talk: Leslie and Ethan decide they must give this to Galasso when they discover he not only doesn't understand what sex is, but possibly what gender is.
  • Ticket-Line Campout: For Revenge of the Fallen.
  • Transplant: Robin, Mike, and Ultra Car come over from the Walkyverse, and UC occasionally drags Joe in with her.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Mike, Ronald Regan, Jesus Christ. Joyce eventually gives a cryptic explanation to Amber about how Mike was brought back, but Ronnie and Jesus' returns are never fleshed out.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Robin and Leslie do this more than once over the years before settling down with kids.
  • Unsound Effect:
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Cheese" and "Cheesus" for Jesus, a carryover from the Walkyverse which featured a godlike being called the Cheese.
  • Viler New Villain: Played for Laughs when Sydney Yus returns and becomes a regular at the store. With Galasso largely stepping back from villainy and his more sympathetic side showing, Sydney steps up as The Starscream. She's got none of Galasso's humanizing traits and is far more malicious, but she's also very much the same delusional overlord who works at a toy store. Even the finale ending with her jumping on with the Soggies's plans to invade Earth is a joke more than an act of true evil.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal:
    • Mike, of all people, but so typical: he recorded the sounds of Jacob having sex with Amber's mom and rearranged them to sound out "Amber, will you marry me?" in the hopes that Amber would be too horrified to stay with him. It had the opposite effect.
    • Willis proposed to his girlfriend via webcomic, though there is certainly a precedent.
  • Weight Woe:
    • Part of Amber's character development was getting over this and realizing she was actually quite attractive.
    • Malaya goes through this in the "Girthday" arc. Judging from the banner she still isn't over her sudden weight gain even if (uncharacteristically for her) she hasn't complained much about it in-story.
  • Weirdness Magnet: The store is run by a would-be Evil Overlord and its staff has included two ex-super soldiers, a robot, Ronald Reagan, the historical Jesus and a man so obsessed with ninja he views the world around him as manga.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Ultra Car. Not because of anything Joe did—he's actually more of a So Proud of You guy—Ultra Car is just that insecure.
  • Wham Episode:
  • Wham Line:
    Leslie: Pamela, you created the drama tag?
    • "Actually, you're having three babies."
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • At one point, Ethan gets into an argument with one of the recurring straw fans (Duncan), only to have it pointed out to him that he's in no position to criticize anyone due to letting the others keep Galasso locked up. Cue brief Heroic BSoD, followed by him deciding enough's enough.
    • Also on the receiving end of one when Thad, at that point another recurring customer, pointed out that Ethan's eagerness to embroil himself in meaningless debates with irritating in-universe examples of Fan Dumb meant he was little better than them and had no place feeling or acting superior over them.
    Thad: I think at some point your love of your hobby was replaced bit by bit by merely wanting to be better at loving your hobby than other people.
  • Your Mom: Mike's Catchphrase, to the point where he uses a...unique variation to propose to Amber.
  • You Taste Delicious: Leslie tries to seduce Robin by invoking this trope. It doesn't quite work.