Triangle and Robert is a long-running Webcomic by Patrick Shaughnessy about the antics of a band of geometric shapes. It is deliberately poorly drawn and utterly absurd. Due to its length, many characters and use of Two Lines, No Waiting, there are numerous plotlines, but it has a central arc focusing on the heroes' struggle to Save the World.
Among the cast of characters:
- The Cartoonist: The narrator, and a terrible artist. (And he whines about the fact often, file that either under Self-Deprecation or Lampshade Hanging.) Despite his apparent status as the creator of the comic, the characters often refuse to listen to him, and several of them insist that everything was better before the Cartoonist showed up and started drawing everything poorly. Needless to say, there is No Fourth Wall in the comic.
- Triangle: The Chosen One (he's not happy about it) and the Only Sane Man. Later, his status as the Chosen One grants him Chef of Iron powers.
- Robert: A rhombus, Bunny-Ears Lawyer and Cloudcuckoolander. He has an amazing amount of Medium Awareness (his feats include starting a fire with his speech lines), and can accomplish impossible feats by Rule of Funny. He and Triangle are Wacky Scheme Consultants for hire. If you need to do something wacky, absurd, or impossible, give them a call.
- Cube: A cube (or a 2D image of one, anyway), and a secretive Adventurer Archaeologist. His subplots either uncover the history of the world before polygons became the dominant life-form, or parody spy dramas.
- The Cornersheep: A sheep mutated by electromagnetic radiation (Robert tried to hotwire it and steal it) who gained intelligence and telepathy. He employs various Mad Science gadgets in his quest to Take Over the World. (Sheep are beyond the Cartoonist's drawing ability, so they appear as black rectangles labeled "insert sheep"; following his mutation, the Cornersheep appears as a black rectangle labeled "insert super-intelligent telepathic sheep".)
- Orpuddex, the Pudding-Watcher: A ghost of pudding from beyond time and space, tasked with keeping lumps from forming in the pudding that makes up the universe (it's a long story). Triangle is supposedly tasked with destroying him, but he couldn't care less. A Harmless Villain with occasional flashes of competence.
- The Sentries of Food: Chefs Of Iron who embody the powers of the food groups (Vegetables, Meat, Grain, etc.). They tend to bicker a lot and go on sidequests, but they can be devastating when they team up.
...and many more supporting characters.
The comic began in 1999 and finished in 2007, running for 2,513 strips (and 31 ending pages of 12 panels each). It can be found here.
This show provides examples of:
- Adventure Duo: Triangle and Robert
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The Memphis Barbecue Massacre.
- Alien Geometries: The Tater Fizz plant has a very strange corridor.
- All Animals Are Dogs: Triangle and Robert acquire a pet Inverted Capital G, which behaves very much like a dog — although it's implied that it's deliberately pretending to be a dog so that someone will keep it as a pet. Triangle in particular is suspicious of the fact that it's clearly saying "Bark" and "Growl", rather than making the noises.
- Amusing Injuries
- A Tankard of Moose Urine: Tater Fizz is the soda version.
- Atlantis: The Lost City of Tetris. "The Tetreans were said to have built their vast city of prefabricated cubes, until the cubes were packed so densely into rows that the city sank under its own weight and vanished from the earth." It turns out to still exist and be inhabited at the bottom of the Asymptotic Ocean.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Averted when the Meat Sentry is captured by the Cornersheep. He starts monologuing about how her situation is hopeless and she will be forced to reveal everything, but a couple of sentences in he remembers that he doesn't actually have anything he needs her to reveal, and has her summarily killed. (Fortunately it's already been established that death in this setting isn't necessarily permanent.)
- Bread Milk Eggs Squick: Triangle lists the assets of an amusement park he and Robert have been hired as PR consultants for: "a nice broad walkway... concession stands highly visible... low-hanging gondola that could easily hit someone... pack of feral cats..."
- Calvinball: In one strip, Triangle and Robert are playing a board game with an elaborate set of rules that appears to draw on chess, Monopoly, Battleship, and others. In the final panel, it's revealed to be their universe's version of Hungry Hippos.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The strip went from jokes about how a geometrical shape can eat to an epic fight to stop the universe from turning into pudding. Or something like that.
- Chef of Iron: Cuisine-magic, in any form.
- Companion Cube: At one point, when Triangle and Robert go on strike, the Cartoonist desperately tries to fill in with the adventures of supporting character Prozac the Bear and his new sidekick, Mr. Soap — who is just an ordinary inanimate bar of soap who Prozac the Bear talks to as if it were alive.
- Cooking Duel: Cuisine-magic sometimes involves these.
- Counting Sheep: In one strip, Robert watches a battle between the Food Sentries and the minions of the Cornersheep. While trying to keep track of how many villainous sheep have been defeated, he falls asleep and misses the rest of the battle. He asks how many sheep they defeated in the end, and is told that they're not sure because the Dairy Sentry also fell asleep when he tried counting them.
- Criminal Doppelgänger: When the notorious criminal International Food Pyramid escapes from jail, the public announcement warning people to be on the lookout for him makes him sound a lot like Triangle. Due to the Cartoonist's short attention span, however, little comes of it; the one time Triangle is mistaken for the Pyramid on-panel, he's able to clear up the misunderstanding immediately.
- Detective Patsy: In one story arc, Triangle and Robert are hired to investigate a Lovecraftian monster threat. Robert immediately deduces that their client is faking the threat as part of a "Scooby-Doo" Hoax and is only hiring them to give the threat an appearance of legitimacy — and decides to take the job anyway because it's a great opportunity for wacky misadventures.
- Deus ex Machina: Invoked by the Cartoonist a few times.
- Fight Unscene: Since the Cartoonist can't draw, most of the fights happen off-panel.
- Fate Worse than Death: After Linda Concarne went on a rampage, killing (nearly) all the gods of lightning on the planet and still not getting any answers as to why her mentor was killed, she escalated the issue by confronting the meta-god of lightning gods. Said meta-god promptly proved too much for her to handle by turning her into a pile of ashes that retained consciousness. And then...Meta-God: You have doomed your world, Sentry. Lightning gods do not exist solely to provide an anthropomorphic explanation for a natural phenomenon.Linda (narrating): The horror started then. The lack of artwork in this flashback is sparing you. The meta-god took advantage of my semi-deadness to... to talk about the weather. ALL the weather. Since the dawn of the Seventh Race. With diagrams. The meta-god of lightning gods had been rehearsing this presentation for millenia and finally had someone to inflict it on.
- Hi, Mom!: In strip #994, Triangle visits a rarely-appearing supporting character for advice; after giving the advice, the character adds, "While I'm still in the strip, can I say hi to my mom?"
- Humongous Mecha: One at the Memphis Barbecue Massacre, and another at the Tater Fizz plant.
- I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Parodied with Mount Probablyeruptsbeforethisplotlineisover.
- Indian Burial Ground: Parodied. Triangle and Robert investigate an amusement park built over an isoceles burial ground (from the days, Robert explains, when isoceles triangles were a persecuted demographic). Robert assumes this means they'll be encountering vengeful ghosts sooner or later.
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Inverted Capital G speaks only in dog noises, but Robert seems to understand him and he's apparently capable of conveying some quite complicated concepts.Robert: Yay! We're up in the polls again!
Inverted Capital G: Bow wow wow.
Robert: But with my stated foreign policy position, wouldn't that be construed as flip-flopping?
Inverted Capital G: Yip yip, woof. Growl: bark bark.
Robert: You're the best campaign manager ever!
- Is The Answer To This Question "Yes"?: Played with. After Robert falls down a hole and discovers a factory making shoddy bootleg action figures:Triangle: Do you want me to pull you up now?
Robert: Does Yogi Bear breathe fire?
Triangle: Is that a sarcastic way of saying no?
Robert: No, I needed my memory refreshed. These toys down here make no sense.
- Lights Off, Somebody Dies: Parodied during a murder mystery story arc. As Triangle attempts to give The Summation, the lights go out and there are a series of *bang* sound effects. It turns out to be a lost drummer trying to find the percussion workshop down the hall.
- Luck-Based Search Technique: Triangle attempts to invoke the trope when he and Robert are trying to find a secret entrance into the Cornersheep's lair, instructing Robert to "stumble aimlessly" in the hope that he'll trip over the entrance. It doesn't work until Robert gets genuinely distracted by a conversation with Triangle about the cartoonist's shortcomings, whereupon he immediately falls down a secret access shaft.
- Medium Awareness: Everyone knows whether or not they're on-panel (and some plans hinge on the Cartoonist not looking). Robert takes this up to eleven.
- Mind Control: One story arc involves the Ovalnaut taking over the world using mind control. At the climax of the arc, after Robert proves to be immune to the mind control, the Ovalnaut forces Triangle to try and kill him.
- Ninja Prop: During a dramatic fight scene, Robert is apparently hit by a powerful attack and killed, but the next strip reveals that he survived by using the sound effect of the attack as a shield. He continues to shield himself with his own speech bubbles, pointing out that as a wacky sidekick he has a Motor Mouth ability and can keep it up indefinitely.
- No Fourth Wall
- No Indoor Voice: Meat Enforcer Linda Concarne's default volume is a shout, represented with a font that's bolded and several point sizes larger than average. (Several times this results in other characters complaining about her voice bubbles taking up too much space in the panel.)
- Noodle Implements: An essential component of any of Robert's wacky schemes.
- In one strip, Robert picks a lock using a toupee, a lithograph of a pony, and a penny. Triangle comments that they're getting away with not explaining to the reader how that's possible, and Robert claims that he intended to explain but they ran out of panels.
- Odd Couple: Triangle and Robert. Sane and crazy.
- One-Winged Angel: Orpuddex's Galactic Form. Naturally, it's always off-panel.
- Orphaned Setup: In strip #1122, Mr Disease is explaining what he's doing, and Triangle, realizing that the explanation is leading up to a pun that he's not in the mood for, cuts him off with a request that he not finish the explanation.Mr Disease: Okay, but then we won't have a third panel.
Triangle: Fine by me.
- Out of Focus: From time to time, the strip would follow supporting characters like Cube or Prozac the Bear or the Food Sentries instead of the title characters. Acknowledged in #1087, part of a sequence featuring the Food Sentries, where the usual title logo is replaced by a title (in much smaller font) reading 'Strip Which Is Still Titled "Triangle and Robert" Despite Having Increasingly Little Focus On Those Two Characters".
- Painting the Medium: Several moments imply that in-universe sheep really are just black rectangles with the words "Insert Sheep" on them, such as when Robert disguises himself as a sheep by painting himself black and adding the words "Insert Sheep" at a slant matching his angles. On another occasion, the Meat Sentry punches a hole right through a sheep during a fight, and the results are represented by a sheep (black rectangle, etc.) with a neat circle missing from the middle next to a matching black circle with the word "Haggis" on it.
- Reading Ahead in the Script:
- There's a running gag where if Triangle goes to visit one of the supporting characters to ask for help or advice, there's a good chance they'll say they already know what he wants because they've been reading the webcomic.
- In one story arc, Triangle and Robert are hired to help with a cover-up. Robert comes up with a plan that's unusually sensible for him, and it would have worked except that the police read the webcomic and find out what they were hired for.
- Recap Episode: The Recapulon.
- Recursive Reality: The characters of Dot and Other Dot v2.0, a comic Triangle came up with to show the Cartoonist that anyone can do his job better than he can (see Stylistic Suck, below), went off and created their own comic, Cartoonist Guy. Besides somehow having better art quality than either Dot and Other Dot or Triangle and Robert, the main character there created his own comic, The Beforings. The Beforings wind up being the same Precursors who created the pudding-universe in which Triangle and Robert takes place...
- Fortunately, according to the Cartoonist (the real one), none of that really happened.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When the Fondue of Four Thousand Cheeses told the Sentries that they had to face down and overcome their pasts, Linda took that to mean she had to get revenge against the lightning god that she figured was responsible for the death of her mentor at the Memphis Barbecue Massacre. After she killed the Memphis god of lightning and got no answers, she continued on with killing all other lightning gods on the planet (including at least one employee who happened to work for a lightning god and one lighting (not lightNing) god who just blesses interior decorators).
- Running Gag:
- Ducks? Thanks.
- To mark the 150th strip, there was a series of character profiles of the main characters. These had two running gags: Every character's answer to "Favorite movie" was a different movie by Terry Gilliam, and every character's answer to "If I could offer you only one tip for the future" was a variation on 'Wear sunscreen.'
- Scare Quotes: Triangle and Robert are hired to pretend to investigate a mystery that they know their client is really responsible for.Robert: Hi. We're the "detectives" you hired to "investigate" the "monster" and the "zombies" that have been causing all this "trouble".
Client: You don't need the quotes. I know what you really mean.
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: As a breather after the big story arc where they save the world from the Time of the Oval, there's a series of shorter adventures in which Robert insists on assuming that the threat is just somebody faking a supernatural danger to cover up their own misdeeds. He's right eventually.
- Shout-Out: Numerous.
- Skewed Priorities: In one strip, Robert decides to turn down a wacky scheme invitation involving a wind tunnel, and Triangle remarks that it must be really dangerous if even Robert doesn't want to do it. Robert replies that he's not concerned about the danger, but he's worried it will mess up his hair.note
- The Smurfette Principle: Linda Concarne is the only female regular.
- Serious Business: Anything to do with cooking.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Discussed In-Universe with "Prozac the Setting".
- Square-Cube Law: Discussed in one strip after Robert comes up with a wacky scheme that involves giant ants rampaging through the city. He eventually abandons the scheme because he doesn't have to deal with the geometric puns that will inevitably result.
- Stealth Pun: One of the plotlines involves Triangle fighting things to recover a series of "Dragon Circles", which are lettered A, B, C, etc. When he gets to the 25th one, Dragon Circle Y, he discovers that's the end of them, there are only 25.Triangle: Somehow, avoiding the pun makes it even worse.
- Stylistic Suck: In-universe too. You think that isn't possible with this series? Enter "Dot and Another Dot".
- Summation Gathering: Parodied. Triangle begins with the traditional "I guess you're wondering why I've gathered you all here", only for one of the other characters to point out that in the circumstances it's pretty obviously because he's about to reveal the murderer. Triangle then attempts to lay out the evidence, but keeps getting interrupted and losing track of where he's up to, and eventually jumps straight to saying who did it without finishing the explanation of how he knows.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Cube is very clear that he is just an ice cream man, that's all, with nothing interesting about him.
- Take Our Word for It: Due to the Cartoonist's lack of skill, anything remarkable tends to happen off-panel. This ranges from most of the fight scenes to Prozac the Bear performing a juggling routine that the on-panel characters describe as "really terrible" and "insanely bad" (while the audience wonders how he's juggling at all when like most of the characters he doesn't have arms).
- Tempting Fate:
- Robert attempts to invoke the trope by declaring loudly that business opportunities don't just fall out of the sky. Nothing happens... until Robert gives up and repeats the sentiment, sincerely this time, at which point a plot device immediately falls out of the sky.
- During Robert's attempt to turn their current adventure into a Scooby-Doo-like mystery, Triangle starts to tell him that he thinks they've taken "this Scooby-Doo thing" as far as it'll go, but only gets partway through the sentence before being interrupted by the arrival of their pet Inverted Capital G (a large, unnaturally-intelligent doglike creature).Inverted Capital G: Rerro!
- Thunderbolt Iron: The Starham.
- Timmy in a Well: Robert falls down a hole and sends their pet Inverted Capital G (a doglike creature) to fetch help. The person Inverted Capital G finds doesn't understand Inverted Capital G's barking, but fortunately it's in the middle of a Scooby-Doo parody so he also has the option of mangled but comprehensible English to fall back on ("Rust forrow me already!").
- Tomes of Prophecy and Fate: Parodied with Things That Will Eventually Happen by Gary the Stupid, known as the "Stupid Prophecies" for short, a tome of prophecy notorious for the fact that, even though the prophecies are so vague and cryptic you can interpret them however you like, none of them have ever even arguably come true.
- Underwater Ruins: The city of Tetris.
- Wall of Text:
- At one point, an expository Wall of Text fills up an entire panel, driving out all the air and resulting in a character's death of suffocation.
- On another occasion, a character escapes a similar fate by falling through a gratuitous trapdoor in the nick of time.
- World Shapes: Triangle and Robert's world is not a sphere, but a four-dimensional hypertaco.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: When Triangle and Robert investigate a run-down theme park, Robert assumes that they're heading into a Scooby-Doo parody, and starts acting accordingly. The Cartoonist and Triangle quickly rule out that option, and the threat turns out instead to be a hazardous materials containment disaster inadvertantly caused by Robert in an attempt to create a comedic mishap.
- Zany Scheme: Robert's speciality.