The 503 is a rendered photograph/line drawing webcomic about several friends who move to Portland, Oregon together and the various events that transpire throughout the course of that journey.
This webcomic utilizes the following tropes:
- Author Avatar: Philip Archibald Stone
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the proof-of-concept strip.
- Bar Brawl: Initiated by Demitri Kalinin and John Flatt in this strip, and continued here, with appropriate music ("London Calling" by The Clash).
- Cluster F-Bomb: Demitri's response to being Hoist by His Own Petard in this strip.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Phil obviously has one of these, first referenced here and then made more explicit with a dream sequence to the point where other characters noticed it on their own.
- Death by Origin Story: Dawn Rachel Mcallender, Phil's girlfriend, dies in a wildfire in 2006. This is what motivates Phil to move to Portland and fills him with grief at the beginning of the strip.
- Funetik Aksent: The Australian owners of the Jolly Swagman speak in a strong bogan accent represented as such and even lampshaded in Strip 70.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: When Demitri asks Phil to prove his (Phil's) existence. Given that Demitri has a black eye as a result of an earlier Bar Brawl, the outcome is fairly predictable.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Phil's conversation with Demitri in this installment:Phil: Okay, then, let's take your overly-skeptical approach to everything. Prove to me that you exist.Demitri: Don't pull that Descartes crap. I'm right here in front of you, you can see me. Don't be ridiculous.
- Precision F-Strike: The bouncer, when he kicks John and Demitri out of the bar.
- Oh, Crap!: When Phil Stone realizes he's . . . become romantically involved with the girlfriend of a Huskers lineman:Phil: I. Did. WHAT. With. A. Husker's. Girlfriend.Phil: Christ on a crutch.Cindy: Or you, if he ever finds out!
- Rail Enthusiast: Ryan Sangiorgio, who improbably gets the girl because of it.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: As noted above, the webcomic is partly inspired by the author's life in Portland.
- Riddle for the Ages: The fairy which shows up in this episode - is it a figment of Phil's imagination, or is it real?
- Sex for Solace: Averted when Shellie backs away from a kiss with Phil after learning about the death of his girlfriend three years ago in Strip 189.
- Slice of Life: See "Real Life Writes the Plot".
- Trickster: Demitri Kalinin
- Write What You Know: Based on the author's experiences in Portland.