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Webcomic / The Petri Dish

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The Petri Dish is a webcomic about an inept genetic engineer named Dr. Thaddeus John Euphemism (yep, that's his last name) and his cyborg assistant Bob.

Supporting characters include a race of intelligence-enhanced squirrels, Bob's grumpy love interest Irene and his best friend iBall (a whale's eye with a cyborg body), Thaddeus and Bob's boss Gordon Noble, and several unlucky interns. It is mainly a wacky comedy and while there have been a few dark jokes, the webcomic never actually got too dark.


The Petri Dish provides examples of

  • Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal: One of the squirrels wears a tie.
  • Alien Episode:
    • In one series of strips, Dr. Euphemism is abducted by Gwog the alien.
    • In another series of strips, Gwog comes back to visit and later abducts Thaddeus again, but his pet saves him.
  • All Just a Dream: The series with the living potatoes called the Tubernati turns out to be Thaddeus's dream.
  • Amusing Alien: Despite abducting Thaddeus, Gwog is also the source of many jokes.
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Sometimes, due to genetic engineering or nuclear power, food comes to life.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Real life whale eyeballs are about the size of cow eyeballs, but iBall's eye is about the size of an average cat. However, it's possible Thaddeus used mad science to enlarge the eye.
    • Thaddeus' immune cells, viruses, amoebas, and sometimes bacteria all look similar. They're also sapient.
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  • Asexuality: Zigzagged for Bob. When he became a cyborg his sexuality was removed, but it occasionally comes back when he's bored.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: In one strip, the scientists try to shrink a mouse but enlarge it instead. Later, the microbes Thaddeus meets get enlarged too, but they shrink back.
  • Author's Retaliation: In a strip of The Petri Dish, Thaddeus calls the cartoonist, John Sutton, lazy for not drawing the exhibit he plans on looking at. Sutton then looks for his eraser, implying he wants to rub Thaddeus out.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In one strip, Thaddeus genetically engineers a giant fly and in another he genetically engineers giant, talking bees.
  • Big Eater:
    • The fattest squirrel eats a lot.
    • The "peeves" can eat things bigger than them.
  • Big Stupid Doo Doo Head:
    • Dr. Euphemism once calls his coworker Harold Smith a "wussy chowderhead".
    • When Thaddeus and a cat swap bodies, he says that cats are "buttheads".
  • Brains Versus Brawn: More intellectual characters such as Thaddeus and Kelvin don't really understand sports, and when Thaddeus tries watching sports, he can't make sense of it despite his intellect.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In one strip, Bob talks to the audience about what goes on "behind the scenes".
  • Bring My Brown Pants: When Thaddeus is shrunken into the microbe world, one of the microbes poops in fear.
  • Cats Are Mean: Zigzagged. In one strip, Thaddeus and a cat swap bodies and the former concludes that "cats are buttheads" but the cat never did anything mean; the mean behavior was all Thaddeus and his idea of what a cat does.
  • Civilized Animal: The squirrels and their lawyer the bear have a civilized society but still live in trees and eat acorns.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Thaddeus does things like literally nuke his hot dogs. Bob and iBall also sometimes goof around, but not as much as Thaddeus.
  • Cyclops:
    • iBall has one very large eye that takes up about half of his body.
    • Gwog the alien has one eye, as does his wife Wibbley and the other alien we see. His pet also has one eye.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Bob actually thinks being witty is his responsibility.
  • Ditzy Genius: Thaddeus is smart enough to invent his inventions, but scatty enough to often botch them up.
  • Eaten Alive: A running gag is artificial lifeforms swallowing people.
  • Embarrassing Initials: In one strip, some squirrels make a ninja group whose initials spell "FART".
  • Expendable Clone: Thaddeus once makes four clones, all of whom die.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Zigzagged. Gwog's species don't have a nudity taboo but they usually wear clothes anyway. His pet wears only a collar.
  • Extra Eyes:
    • One of the microbes the shrunken Thaddeus meets has several eyes.
    • The "peeves" that Thaddeus breeds in one episode all have three eyes.
  • Extreme Omnivore: In one strip, Thaddeus creates creatures called "peeves" that eat people, lab equipment, and trash.
  • Fembot: Irene was created with lipstick and what appear to be high heels. She later gives herself robotic breasts.
  • Formerly Sapient Species: A story arc features an alternate universe in which the super-intelligent squirrels have taken over civilization because a virus has killed half the human population and rendered the other half stupid and mute like monkeys.
  • Full-Conversion Cyborg: Bob is mostly a robot but he has a brain, a digestive system, and apparently a urinary system, but not a heart. Irene also looks like a robot but has a brain but it's unknown what (if any) other human parts she has. iBall's whale eye is the only organic part of his body.
  • Funny Flashback Haircut: One flashback strip shows that Thaddeus (who's now nearly bald) had a mullet when he was in college.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Bob's name stands for Brains On Board and Irene's stands for Intelligence Relays Enhanced with Neural Encoding. The squirrels' ninja group also has the acronym F.A.R.T.
  • Genius Serum:
    • Thaddeus gives the squirrels some pills that make them as smart as humans. The squirrels then use their newfound intelligence to learn English and make a civilisation. They also end up giving some of the intelligence pills to a bear, who becomes a lawyer.
    • Thaddeus also has some intelligence-enhancing spray that hurts if people are being wilfully stupid.
  • Glitch Episode: One story arc involves Bob the cyborg repeatedly spouting ads and having spam (as in canned meat) inside him. It turns out that he has a virus, and when Larry the IT guy finds out who created it, Thaddeus gets revenge by engineering another computer virus which causes the hacker's computer to throw up.
  • Hazmat Suit: Thaddeus and Bob are seen in protective suits in a few strips.
  • Ignorant About Fire: Thaddeus Euphemism, being an Absent-Minded Professor and a Ditzy Genius, often accidentally sets fire to his science equipment. In one strip, he even sets beakers ablaze.
  • Illness Blanket: When Thaddeus catches the flu, he decides to stay wrapped in a blanket until he recovers.
  • Jumping-to-Conclusions Diagnosis: Thaddeus gets paranoid around flu season and assumes everyone who sneezes has the flu.
  • Lab Coat Of Science And Medicine: Thaddeus and some other scientists wear lab coats, however the interns do not.
  • Less Embarrassing Term: Gwog's companion is technically his pet but he insists it's a "symbiotic relationship".
  • Low Count Gag:
    • Thaddeus Euphemism makes a YouTube video of himself and expects it to get thousands of views but really it only gets seven views. Moreover, two of those were from himself watching it, four were from his assistant Bob watching it, and one was from a talking squirrel who was just watching it because it was bored.
    • At one point, Thaddeus gets a fitness tracker, which reveals that he's only taken eleven steps. He then adds that maybe two of them were from when he sneezed really hard.
  • Medium Awareness: The characters sometimes do things like talk to the cartoonist.
  • Nerd Glasses: Thaddeus is a science nerd and wears glasses.
  • Nose Nuggets:
    • In one episode, Thaddeus puts his booger under a microscope.
    • When Thaddeus has the flu, he sneezes while under a blanket.
  • Obsessive Hobby Episode: In one story arc, Thaddeus becomes obsessed with Candy Crush and wants to give it up.
  • Obviously Not Fine: Thaddeus Euphemism denies that he is drunk, despite staggering, lisping, burping, not bothering to adjust his glasses, and having a bad case of the hiccups. In the very next panel, though, he admits he is drunk, and the reason he got drunk was because he wanted to see if drowning his sorrows was actually possible.
  • Off to See the Wizard: When Thaddeus shrinks to microbe size, he ends up parodying The Wizard of Oz.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When Thaddeus is replaced by a robot, Bob can tell it's not him because he did his job perfectly.
  • Opaque Nerd Glasses: You cannot see Thaddeus's eyes through his glasses.
  • Pun:
    • In one strip, an amoeba says he needs to "split" and then reproduces.
    • Some giant bees try to defy this by disallowing Thaddeus to make bee puns.
    • One of Thaddeus's clones is shorter than the others because he ran "short" on genetic material.
    • One strip does the old "May the fourth be with you" joke.
    • One series of strips does a variety on the "your fridge is running, you have to chase it" joke by having a monster inside the fridge run away with it.
  • Punny Name: iBall's name is a cross between words like "iPod" and eyeball.
  • Pun With Pi: One strip has Thaddeus craving pie after doing many calculations involving pi.
  • Self-Deprecation: Sometimes, Thaddeus and Bob call the creator of the comic lazy.
  • Shout-Out:
    • In one strip, Bob grabs a plunger and starts saying, "Exterminate". This is a reference to Doctor Who, which has creatures called Daleks that have appendages that resemble plungers and say, "Exterminate". Bob also appears as a Cyberman in one strip.
    • Several Star Trek references, including Thaddeus saying that "Captain Kirk could totally kick Captain Picard's butt in a fight", him appearing as Captain Picard, and two men discussing how dilithium crystals work.
    • Bob wants a heart in an early strip because he's seen The Wizard of Oz. There's also a series of strips parodying The Wizard of Oz.
    • One strip has everyone in Star Wars garb.
    • Thaddeus once tries on a thick pair of glasses that the optician calls "Farnsworths", which is a reference to Professor Farnsworth from Futurama, who wears thick glasses.
    • Characters often play Farmville, albeit a weird version where you have to feed your cows if they moo.
  • Sick Episode:
    • In one strip, iBall gets pinkeye, although it's never revealed whether or not it was an infectious type.
    • Thaddeus gets the flu in one episode.
  • Superhero Episode: Once, Thaddeus gets superpowers and becomes a superhero called "!" (Bob's idea). His powers go away quickly, though.
  • Take That!:
    • One strip focuses on Thaddeus trying to give up Candy Crush.
    • When Thaddeus plays Mozart, some bacteria spell "Plz make it stop".
    • Thaddeus and Bob hate the parallel universe where they quote Justin Beiber a lot.
  • Technologically Incompetent Elders: Thaddeus's mother cannot use her phone properly.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: In one strip, Thaddeus gains a slight pot belly and tries to lose it. Downplayed as it took a few strips to go away, but it still did.
  • The Tetris Effect: When Thaddeus plays Candy Crush, he starts believing it's happening in real life.
  • Toilet Humour: Quite a few fart jokes and the occasional poop or pee joke.
  • Totally Radical: Sometimes, Thaddeus will speak in jive to try and be cool.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: One of the microbes Thaddeus meets in the Wizard of Oz parody really loves these berries called "poonooboo berries" and they're his main trait apart from wanting more body parts.
  • Unexplained Recovery: In one strip, Thaddeus asks Bob to check the time on his phone. Bob gets distracted by many online things and then Thaddeus is seen as a skeleton but is totally fine the next strip. Bob did tell him to stop being so dramatic, so maybe Thaddeus walked off and put a fake skeleton in his place.


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