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YMMV / Dick Tracy

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YMMVs in the comic strip:

  • Anvilicious:
    • Chester Gould's stories got really bad for this during The '70s, with Tracy frequently going on lengthy speeches about how the law should operate. Mike Kilian had a tendency to do this as well (most infamously with the movie piracy story), though to a much lesser extent than Gould.
    • Dick Locher's strips completely averted this, oddly enough, though presumably as a famed political cartoonist Locher had another outlet for that sort of thing.
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  • Broken Base: Moon Maid and the whole Moon Era which she representatived.
  • "Common Knowledge": People not familiar with the comic tend to think of Flattop as Tracy’s archenemy. In the actual comic he’s a hit-man for a crime syndicate. His excellent design and kidnapping of Tracy for a week to use as blackmail against the syndicate made him MUCH more popular than Gould expected. Like most villains, he's killed off at the climax of his first story.
  • Creator's Pet: Moon Maid was given a range of powers that many Golden Age superheroes would be envious of, and was frequently applauded for taking the law into her own hands. Fans of the strip were more divided.
    • Piggy Bank managed to be a complete Karma Houdini in no less than 6 stories. Each story ended with his escape and fans got sick of it.
  • Dork Age: Arguably from the start of the "Space Era" in the 1960s until Max Allan Collins took over as writer, and definitely Dick Locher's era as writer.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • The Blank; though he only appeared in one story, he's largely one of the more memorable villains Tracy fought.
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    • Toss in Flattop; a one-shot character that everyone assumes was around way longer than he actually was, to the point of considering him Tracy's Archenemy.
    • And Mumbles. Popular enough to be brought back from the dead THREE TIMES!
    • B.O. Plenty, Gravel Gertie, and their daughter Sparkle. Newer readers might be mystified as to how a family of hillbilly farmers got to be such prominent supporting characters in a Police Crime strip. The answer is that B.O. and Gertie both started out (in separate stories) as minor villains Tracy had to bring in. Then they reformed, met, fell in love, and married, gaining popularity as the Plucky Comic Relief. The birth of their baby daughter Sparkle is widely regarded as the strip's high point in terms of merchandising, coinciding with the start of the baby boom.
  • Joker Immunity: Generally regarded as the ultimate aversion, virtually every villain ended up dying, being executed, or jammed in prison, never to return at the end of their story. The few that didn't generally reformed or suffered Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome. There are however a few straight examples.
    • Mumbles may have been intended to survive his first story, but every story after that generally ended with his death being outright impossible to escape (his "second death" is on panel). Two creators thus far have "killed him off for good" only for the next one to use him. It's easy to see why though, he's generally regarded as the best villain after Flattop.
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    • Somewhat hilariously, the Brush showed up in 2013, his first story had him blown up with dynamite struck with lightning. Subverted when the Creator stated he did not know the Brush died in his initial story.
    • Abner Kadaver Somehow survived being encased in concrete with no explanation, and seems to be headed this route.
    • Infamously, the villain Piggy Bank ended each of his stories escaping with minimal retribution, including his last.
    • Dewdrop is somewhat notable for averting Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome, possibly twice. In a 2011 comic Wormy and Thistle Dew were reported to have been killed in a failed robbery. What makes that odd is that Thistle Dew had reformed at the end of her story. The similar name to Dewdrop coupled with the fact that Dewdrop had previously worked with Wormy has lead some people to speculate that Dewdrop was the intended victim.
    • Many of the current villains, especially the old ones, seem to have acquired this. The old ones include BB eyes, Mumbles, Mr Bribery, Putty Puss, Notta Chin Chillar, and a couple others.
  • Karma Houdini: Piggy Bank, infamously.
    • Early villain Maxine manages to escape from Tracy several times, and becomes an accomplice to the murder of Junior's father. She escapes on a boat to an unspecified foreign nation.
  • Narm: Locher ends his writing term of Tracy by saying "I just wanted to say thanks for 10 years of high speed excitement." A nice sentiment, but the main thing people dislike about Locher's work is that the stories take FOREVER to progress.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Reality Ensues: Several Villains get offed by rather mundane causes, most notably Flattop.
    • Putty Puss and Notta Chin Chillar stage a plan to disguise Putty as Tracy and shame him with photos of him kissing Notta. After years of people framing Tracy, Tess just accepts his denial this time and starts working on tracking down the culprits.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Moon Maid since her resurrection under Staton and Curtis, which saw her powers greatly toned down and her actions being viewed in a somewhat more realistic manner by the other characters.
    • Pony went from being the only character people disliked more than 3D (at the time), to
  • The Scrappy:
    • Moon Maid for most people who hate the space era.
    • Her Father, even for people who don't. He constantly shifts back and forth from shaking hands with Tracy to trying to wage war on mankind.
    • Piggy Bank for being an utter Karma Houdini in a strip that notoriously adverts Joker Immunity.
      • Just to be clear; there are many Villains that people consider Scrappies, but they generally all die or get imprisoned in their stories.
    • 3D Magee, for utterly lacking any personality outside of "evil". The 3D glasses also seems a bit random.
    • And then there's Morin Plenty. Suffice it to say that this is generally regarded as Gould's attempt to create a "funny" character. Among the many "quirks" we are supposed to find funny about this guy include the fact that despite being 80, his wife is 20.
    • Among creators Locher is generally regarded as the worst, due to his ludicrous plots and horrifically slow storylines.
  • Signature Scene: A lot, but the most widely agreed-on ones were
    • Tracy beating the crap out of Big Boy after rescuing the kid he kidnapped.
    • The Brow being impaled on an American Flagpole (He was a Nazi).
    • Breathless forgiving B.O. on her deathbed
    • Sparkle's birth
    • Tracy being put into the Boulder trap
  • So Bad, It's Good: The Moon Period stories can actually be a lot of fun if you enjoy the very pulpiest of pulp science fiction. They're utterly ridiculous and out of place, but they can be fun for exactly those reasons. Gould's artwork during this period is impressive; he very clearly enjoyed getting to draw stuff so radically different from the normal restrictions of the strip's genre. Some fans consider this period to be Vindicated by History, especially compared to the Locher era, and since Moon Maid's return under Curtis and Staton.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: The "Mr. Crime" storyline that ran in 2011-2012 revealed early on that there was a mole inside the police department. This turned out to be Lt. Teevo, the one recurring character that had been introduced by Dick Locher, and at the conclusion of the storyline he ended up being fed to a giant, carnivorous plant.
    • Hey you know those moon people? Yeah they moved or something, never to be seen again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Bonny Tracy, Dick Tracy's daughter has made surprisingly few appearances, considering she's his Daughter. She's not dead however, so wasted might be a bit of a stretch.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Mid-late 2016 featured a storyline that started out with a member of the House of Representatives who tried to introduce a bill that would have classified Moon Maid/Mysta and Honeymoon Tracy as members of an invasive species, with the implication that they would be forcibly sterilized if the bill passed. However, said representative ended up being assassinated by her assistant over an unrelated matter early in the story, which subsequently turned into a manhunt for him, with the bill later being off-handedly mentioned as having died due to a lack of support. While the story as a whole was actually regarded to be pretty good, many fans would have preferred to have stuck with the original storyline for longer, finding its themes more interesting than the more standard-issue storyline that it became.
  • Vindicated by History: As mentioned above, some fans now consider the Moon stories to be this. In addition, Mike Kilian's writing has started to be looked on more favorably by fans in the years since his death, with many feeling that his work actually stacks up well compared to other contemporary adventure strips. He is also given the benefit of the doubt for being in the difficult position of trying to replace Max Allan Collins.
  • What An Idiot: On it's on page.
  • What Happened To The Mouse: Also on it's own page.

YMMVs in The Movie:

  • Complete Monster: Alphonse "Big Boy" Caprice is a mob boss seeking to control the city. After having a rival gang shot to death while playing cards, he strong-arms Lips Manlis into turning over control of his nightclub, territory and girlfriend Breathless Mahoney—who Big Boy threatens and mistreats—to him, before having Lips killed in a cement bath. Part of Big Boy's plan is to unite all the remaining gangs, and when one rejects him, Big Boy has their car bombed as they're leaving. Trying to get Dick Tracy out of his way, Big Boy bribes him, and when this fails, tries to kill Tracy. Upon discovering his new club has been bugged by Tracy, Big Boy has the cop informing on him almost given the same cement bath as Lips and then takes part in killing Fletcher, the DA in his pocket, to frame Tracy. Framed for the abduction of Tracy's girlfriend Tess Trueheart by rival gangster The Blank—really Breathless—Big Boy abandons his men and runs off with her, nearly letting her head get crushed by a clockwork. He also shoots and mortally wounds Blank as well.
  • Cult Classic: While not quite a big hit when it came, even if it was the ninth highest grossing film of the year and the biggest hit of Warren Beatty's career, it's still a very fun movie to watch.
  • Ham and Cheese: Dustin Hoffman only played Mumbles because Warren Beatty dared him to.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Charlie Korsmo, here playing a kid who desperately wants to be a cop, grew up to become a lawyer.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The general freakish nature of most of Tracy's rogue gallery, where with the exception of the Breathless Mahoney (who designed the Blank costume/persona to wear so that she could go around killing people without anyone suspecting her), the costume designers met the challenge of portraying all of Tracy's villains as the grotesques they were in the comics.
    • The film has a surprisingly high body count for a PG-rated film, with seven men being killed in the first 10 minutes alone. Despite all the death, there is very little blood or gore.
    • Lips Manlis pathetically begging for his life as cement slowly covers him.
    • Big Boy Caprice's lethal temper and chronic fondness for Kicking The Dog.
    • The Blank's inhuman - even reptilian - hiss of a voice.
    • The final gun battle on the street, with Influence and Flattop shown getting shot in disturbing close-ups.
    • Flattop's spasmodic death throes, his tommy gun firing wildly as his fingers lock on the trigger in a death grip, is especially graphic.)
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Colm Meaney of Star Trek fame has a bit part as an Irish cop.
    • Kathy Bates plays the police stenographer.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The death of Breathless. With her final words to Tracy being "Could it ever have happened between us?"
    • The Danny Elfman score accompanying this moment is what really drives it home.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The five card players shot and killed by Flattop within the first two minutes were all significant characters in the strip. The Brow is widely regarded as one of Chester Gould's greatest villainous creations, who ranks with among others, Flattop himself; Little Face was one of the first "Grotesques" introduced into the strip; Shoulders and Stooge both appeared twice in the strip's canon (a rarity for Dick Tracy villains); and the Rodent was one of the last great grotesques of the 1950s.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Creepy as they may be, you can't deny the sheer quality of the makeup design that won this movie the Academy Award for Best Makeup. They actually look realistic to a degree. Add to that the set design and color scheme throughout, this is one good looking movie!
  • What an Idiot!: Tracy himself for thinking it was a good idea to stand under a the wet cement mixer after he freed Bug, jamming his gun with wet cement during a shoot out.

YMMVs in the Animated Adaptation:

  • Designated Hero: The ONLY thing Dick Tracy does in almost every episode is call in someone to essentially do his job and shows to arrest the criminal, while doing very little actual work.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Joe Jitsu and Go-Go Gomez are broad ethnic stereotypes. They were the good guys, and such stereotypes were considered acceptable at the time, but modern viewers may find them cringe-worthy.


YMMVs in the Video Games:

  • Demonic Spiders: The snipers in the NES game. The streets are swarming with these guys all over the place, and you're open to enemy fire while driving and can't retaliate as you're only allowed to shoot straight ahead. You can only kill them while you're out of the car, and even when you do kill off a sniper or two, expect more of them as you continue driving; walking from one area to the next with intent to clear the map of snipers isn't an option as the map doesn't move unless you're in the car. Good luck trying to beat the game without taking too much damage.
    • Cars that bump into yours in the Genesis game car chases, especially if you're shooting the enemies in the background. They'll bump and reposition you so that the enemy shots from the background would hit you. Plus if you're bumped off, your Tommy Gun aiming reticule also repositioned, ensuring several annoyances in the process.
  • Goddamned Bats: Almost every enemy in this game can be dispatched in one hit, but they all came in hordes, so be ready to get busy!
  • Goddamned Boss: Every boss in the Genesis game always had a mercy invincibility upon being hit, complete with the fact that the foreground also covers them from any hit ensures that they'll be difficult to dispatch.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: The Sega Genesis version of the game strips the city exploration and interrogation-clue-puzzle game from the NES game and turned it into a pretty well done Side Scrolling Action Platformer with Railgun elements.
  • That One Level: Any level in the Genesis Game where you have no gun turns almost every enemy into a Demonic Spiders thanks that you'd be forced to go melee most of the time and had to carefully time your attacks and dodges, as the enemies are almost always armed.
  • The Problem with Licensed Games: As the The Angry Video Game Nerd puts it, the NES game is riff of problems including awkward driving controls, unintuitive interface controls, constant padding through the collection of clues before arrest (even if you had the clue where the culprit is revealed), lack of continues, et cetera. Shame that the game looks and works rather ambitious for it's time.
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