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YMMV / El Goonish Shive

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Elliot tends to be confused about things a lot, like in the first review he did with Susan, when he talks about being told to yell "a betrayal!" as an allusion to "something about a spoon". Except that, if you pay attention, one of the internet critics that Sarah was talking about when they were picking videos for the two to watch was the Spoony ... and he's played dumb before.
    • Is Elliot really unaware that Justin has feelings for him, or is he aware and deciding to not confront Justin about it? There are several arguments you could make for either side, as well as reasoning as to why Elliot would act like that ... however, in lieu of the fact that Justin may or may not have just gotten over his crush off-screen, we may never know for sure what Elliot's stance on this subject was.
      • Supported by his initial reaction to Sarah's crush, way back at the beginning of the comic being almost exactly this.
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    • Pandora Chaos Raven. Single name, or I Have Many Names? The latter seems far more likely, given "Chaos" is just what Magus was calling her because she refused to provide a name, and given she delivers the three in the middle of a speech about how it doesn't matter what he calls her. 3 separate names delivered dramatically is also far less narmy than trying to stitch them awkwardly together. It also ups the sweet factor of continuing to use her husband's name after all these years, if she's perfectly willing to respond to just "Raven" as a full name.
  • Arc Fatigue: Utterly infamous for this. Storylines can go on for years in this comic, despite only taking place over a few days. Only about three or four months (not including flashbacks) have passed despite the comic having been around since 2002.
    • The "Grace's Birthday Party" storyline is a particularly egregious example. Between the Arc Fatigue and the Schedule Slip, the events of a single evening took sixteen months.
    • The New and Old Flames portion of Bringing Silly Back ran for one month shy of a year. Add in Indiana Elliot, Hammerchlorians and the two small T-Minus entries and you have an arc that ran for just short of a year and a half real time.
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    • Death Sentence had a bad habit of dragging along; not to mention the central premise was flawed to begin with, with Grace and Raven outright admitting it would probably be kinder to simply kill the boar, considering they're ecologically damaging and huge pests. Though given the eventual reveal that Rhoda is another person empowered without her knowledge, it's really a matter of mileage with this one. While it can be argued that it dragged a bit, Grace and Raven openly communicated about magical stuff, and it's clear that ANYONE could have magical powers without knowing it.
    • The "So A Date At The Mall" arc is over a year's worth of strips taking place over a few hours, with the majority of that being dedicated to establishing the perfect relationship between Ashley and Elliot. For those who aren't a fan of the couple, it can be a slog. The author himself has called attention to this fatigue, and has promised to try to plan out the next arcs better.
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    • Immediately following "So A Date At The Mall" was a Question & Answer Arc, "Part 7: The Requestioning"; said filler arc went on for five straight weeks (as the creator had said he needed a break to get the next story arcs properly planned out). Q&A fillers arcs are already a divisive to the fans, but this one in particular seemed to drag, not helped that the entire theme of the arc (that everyone was shrunk so they could use a tablet computer as a backboard) was only utilized for a joke in the first couple strips and thereafter was forgotten, and that out of all the questions three of them (the equivalent of an entire week's worth of updates) weren't even about the comic.
    • "Escape From the Mall", the EGS:NP storyline revolving around a date between Catalina and Rhoda, went on for so long that even the author himself expressed relief when it was finally over.
    • The “Goonmanji 2” NP arc went on for 6 parts and lasted about a year. The content was also viewed by some as little more than fetish material.
    • Between March 12, 2014, and August 30, 2017, exactly one in-universe week has elapsed. That's 565 pages and over three real-time years to cover the events of seven days.
    • "Sister 3" is so long it got split into twenty-six parts and ran for just over two years. No previous arc has had more than ten divisions.
    • The "Title Pending" Party arc has been going on for about a year (most of which spans one single afternoon in-comic), is nowhere near the end, and absolutely nothing of consequence has happened. All that's going on is magical Techno Babble and exploring of character facets we already know — there's no actual development, nothing drives the several dangling sub-plots forward, and stuff that's been common knowledge for long gets repeated for Ashley's sake ad nauseam.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • While discussing the particulars of Ellen's beam spells, Dan states that she is unable to copy enchanted forms ... before realizing (within the same day be posted the comic) that he had fucked up since Ellen had copied Nanase's enchanted angel form before. Backpedaling, the next comic he admits his mistake but stands firm that while Ellen can copy enchanted forms and even mix those forms with her own enchantments, she cannot scan and paste them, meaning she cannot mix an enchanted form with itself to multiply the effects, nor can she give those enchanted forms to other people.
    • Diane's first appearance ended with her labeling Justin a "defective male" for being gay, thus depriving her as a Gold Digger for any benefit to spending time with him. She was initially meant to be a minor character, so when she starts getting a larger, more sympathetic role in the story, many readers felt that the line was too unpleasant to just slide under the rug. Shive himself recognized it as something he never should have had her say if she was going to become important later on, and eventually had her actually reflect on it while realizing how low an opinion most of the school has of her. Diane's inner child harshly berates her on what she said to Justin, and while an excuse is given that a boy she liked ended up being gay making it a sore subject for her at the time, she realizes that does not give her a pass for her abhorrent behavior and that she owes Justin an apology.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Ashley. Some like her for being a good match for Elliot and a generally decent person, including towards her own seeming romantic rival. Others feel Dan is trying a little too hard to make her The Woobie. This only got worse on Elliot and Ashley's first date, where the two seems a little too into each other very quickly, with some fans already accusing Dan of falling prey to the two being Strangled by the Red String. There's also the fact that she seems a little too accepting of all the weirdness thrust upon her and far too respectful of everyone's privacy, not wanting to probe for information even when pressed for her desire to know more, and the revelation that she has such Incorruptible Pure Pureness that not even Pandora can empower her in spite of her fetish for Baleful Polymorph. By now, she's coming off like a Purity Sue.
    • Rhoda and Catalina. It isn't so much whether people find them likable or interesting, but whether or not they deserve the attention they have been receiving in the comic. Some don't mind the idea of them being upgraded to the main cast, while others think the main cast is already worn a bit thin and some characters (in particular, Justin) aren't getting the screentime they deserve. It doesn't help that they are now the second couple (after Elliot and Ashley) to get an arc and preempt Justin's date with Luke.
      • Ironically, Felix and Kitty were only just introduced during Rhoda and Catalina's date arc, but have proved popular with the fans. Dan has even gone on record that a lot of people are actually asking to see more of them, but is putting that idea on the back-burner since the Rhoda and Catalina date (and the story before it) have gone on for so long he wants to give something else attention, that and he would prefer to give himself some time to figure out what to do with Felix and Kitty before attempting to right a story revolved around them right off the bat.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Schedule Slip trouble + Dan Shive's love for Chekhov's Gun = we should probably give up on expecting getting answers to all of the questions. By 2018 things have started to get better — Sister 3 made significant headway on multiple plot threads. Magus got his body, Susan and Diane met and we learned the exact nature of their relationship, Pandora reset, and Magic finally changed — or rather, didn't.
  • Complete Monster: Damien, the Big Bad of the "Painted Black" arc, was created as an attempt to fulfill a prophecy about one who would unite Human/Alien hybrids known as seyunolus; he took this to mean that he was a God with an Omniscient Morality License who was meant to kill humanity. When some of the people who created him questioned his plan to obtain a group of four seyunolus, Damien decided that they were heretics and killed them. He then went to the company who created the four previously mentioned seyunolus and slaughtered all of their other employees, deliberately killing people in front of the seyunolus to make them fear him. Damien planned to slowly grow the Seyunolu into an army to eliminate humanity, using the sole female seyunolu Grace as breeding stock. When Grace escaped from his nest, Damien sent Hedge out to recapture her, threatening him with death if he didn't return with something; when Hedge returns with a transformed Elliot instead, Damien hits Hedge for not returning with a female seyunolu and keeps Elliot tied up and refuses to provide him with food until he reveals information about where he came from. Finally, when Damien was wounded by Grace after he attempted to kill her friends, thus providing possible evidence of his mortality, Damien decides to self-destruct in order to defeat Grace, deciding that either he was a God and his body was irrelevant, or he was a mortal and life wasn't worth living.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Chika won this status after five Q&A comics with her, even despite general "enough of Q&A" reaction on EGS forum. The Demonic Duck, who went from a convenient plot device to a minor character, may also qualify.
    • Lord Tedd even more so, in spite of being one of the most mysterious figures in the series.
    • Also Raven once his gloomy and threatening demeanor turned out to cover that he's a really good guy, protects his students at all costs, and is a loving Parental Substitute to Noah.
  • Epileptic Trees: Lots of them, Dan has made fun of this in the Sketchbook.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: Members of the fandom are dubbed 'bunnies,' a phenomenon explained here.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • As the Sarah/Elliot ship lost steam, the audience began to support folding Sarah into the still-popular Grace/Tedd ship, as well as pairing Elliot with Susan.
    • One of the most popular pairings in the fandom is between Elliot and Justin, as evidenced during a sketchbook where Dan asked his fans to choose which two of his characters would be drawn kissing ... Elliot and Justin won by a landslide!
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • This comic has an Imagine Spot from Tedd in which Grace ignores a bunch of buff, macho guys while thinking only of Tedd. One of the buff guys brags that "Our mothers love us!", which seems like a random, silly boast for them to be making. That is, until details of Tedd's mother start coming to light, with all of them thus far suggesting that her reasons for leaving had something to do with Tedd showing a complete lack of magic potential.
    • When Susan starts to explain the long-unknown events that occurred in France, she alludes to the not-vampire that's involved, when Grace calls her "Susan the Vampire Slayer". Yeah, guess how that story ended.
    • A lighter example occurs when Ellen laughs at the revelation that Elliot must release his magic buildup by turning into a girl, while she just has to shoot beams. Then she learns that she only has to do so a couple times each morning while Elliot has to transform every six hours and go to sleep transformed. She feels so guilty that Elliot has to encourage her to joke about it.
    • Panel 2 of this comic has Ed making a joke about son's tendency for transformation. Funny then, not so funny when the same scene is part of a montage showing his disapproval of Tedd's gender fluidity.
  • Furry Fandom: A segment of the fanbase and heavily played up in early arcs. Hasn't come up as much in later years as Shive grew out of the fandom.
  • Genius Bonus: In a filler comic, the Demonic Duck informs Dan that he's going to Australia to discover his roots. There is fossil evidence of a large, prehistoric bird that lived in Australia which has come to be known as the "Demon Duck of Doom".
  • Growing the Beard: The first few strips served as a mildly hilarious introduction to the characters with No Fourth Wall. The beard stated to grow during the Sister arc and finished by the end of the Painted Black arc or the end of Grace's Birthday Party depending on who you ask.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: This strip, which shows why Tedd is so reluctant to tell his father about his magic mark and possibly about being genderfluid, as well, makes a lot of Mr. Verres's comments about Tedd's penchant for turning himself into a girl considerably less funny.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Some early strips showed Grace playing an Expy of Super Smash Bros. using a Pikachu Expy that was a squirrel instead of a mouse. Come the 4th generation of Pokémon games and we now have Pachirisu, an electric squirrel.
  • Ho Yay: There are strong implication that George is gay, and the essentially certain revelation that Luke the point that Grace and Sarah have already started shipping them.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Magus. He was forced into the astral plane of the main character's dimension against his will by sabotage of a magical tool, where if immortals weren't trying to outright kill him they were using him to entertain themselves for a sociopathic game of chance. However, he also the responsible for creating Ellen for no other reason than to have a magical version of Tedd's technological body-changing beam with little regard to the life he created (until later), and partnered with an Aberration to body snatch Ellen, so that he could in turn body snatch Elliot, while kidnapping Ashley, just so he could use a magical artifact to get his physical body back. His status as a Jerkass Woobie even gets brought up in-universe by both Elliot and Arthur, where they understand that Magus was given a real bum deal and really was given no other chance to survive, but still can't really be forgiven for purposely hurting so many people along the way and then just running away to avoid all consequence of his actions.
    • To a lesser extent, Lucy. She's snappy, grumpy and isn't afraid to talk down to or insult, well, anyone really causing her to come off as thoroughly unpleasant. Then "The Legend of Diane" happens which shines an entirely new light on her: she had been insecure because of her height and "development" but Diane's intervention and support led to Lucy developing a crush on her. But over the years she watched Diane date boys and turn into a naive gold digger, dragging Lucy and Rhoda along with her while being blissfully ignorant of the reputation that all of them were developing because of it. Worse yet, she has to stand by and watch Diane openly gush about Nanase while her own crush remains unrequited. The entire experience has seemingly left her angry and bitter while Diane's pedestal has been thoroughly broken. Like her or not it becomes hard not to feel bad for her.
    • Also, Pandora, an Immortal who has deliberately lived far beyond her time and gone insane over it, with an innate love to mess with people's lives and a tendency to be either completely callous regarding the troubles she causes, or outright murderous when something sets her off, not to speak of being intrusive to people's minds. Her husband was murdered, and she decided to stay alive instead of resetting herself so she would always remember him and be able to be there for their son (of whom her actions estranged her meanwhile). Also, turns out she's fiercely protective of her god-grandson and everyone she regards belonging to him... which also means there are crazy lengths she's willing to go for them.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Elliot, Elliot, ELLIOT. Fandom has shipped him with Justin and Tedd. In-Universe, now that his relationship with Sarah is over, he has being Ship Teased with Susan, Diane and Ashley. And not to mention his Erotic Dreaming involving girls who're already in a relationship (and some of them with an Incompatible Orientation), like Grace, Nanase and even Catalina claiming to be his lover. More recently, he has admitted to some lowkey attraction to Noah.
  • Les Yay: It's common enough that some fans have taken to calling it "OMG LESBIANS!" whenever it shows up as a means of criticizing its frequency.
  • Memetic Badass: Starting with the fight with the fire monster, the author began ascribing this status to Justin.
  • Moe:
    • Sarah, Rhoda, Grace, Catalina to a lesser extent, even Susan can be. On the (usually) male side, Tedd and Justin.
    • Nanase's hairstyle in Dawn of a New Era also evokes this, at least to Word of God.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Being an aberration. Aberrations are monsters that feed on human life force, and all aberrations were once human who made the choice to become that way. All ways of 'feeding' on life force thus far have been shown as ranging from body snatching to blood drinking to full on people eating, and it's said outright aberrations not only feel no guilt over their actions, they revel in it.
  • Narm: The page where the mysterious entity that's been following the main cast and manipulating Magus reveals her name is meant to be a dark, climactic scene, but the gravity of the moment is somewhat spoiled by the fact that her self-appointed moniker sounds like it came straight out of My Immortal. For the record, it's Pandora Chaos Raven.
    • Narm Charm: Though with the revelation that "Raven" was her human husband's last name, it's either heartwarming or saddening that, despite the man himself having died several centuries ago, she still identifies her self as his wife.
  • Older Than They Think: Some fans are uncomfortable with how close Elliot and Ashley are on the first date, up to sharing a dressing room in the mall and then making out. Thing is, this isn't all that different from when Elliot was dating Nanase way back when the comic started, the two having a very physical relationship and even having a regular tradition of making out after sparring matches. Many fans may have just forgotten this due to the fact soon after Elliot started dating Sarah, with the two having a generally non-sexual relationship (due to them realizing afterwards they shared a much more platonic/brother-sister kind of love as opposed to a romantic attraction) and the fact that Elliot is later characterized as being uncomfortable fantasizing about women. His relationship with Ashley is more of a Character Check to how he originally was than an Out-of-Character Moment.
  • OT3: Grace/Tedd/Sarah, the ship started when Sarah became Tedds assistant and fan love for the ship has grown and grown. There is also quite a bit of actual ship tease for it too. Like in the early comic when Grace kissed Sarah after Tedd told her too, and then scenes like this are fairly common for the three after Sarah joined them. Tedd accidentally kissed Sarah, because she was transformed into Grace. Tedd also mentions that he, Grace, and Sarah have all seen each other naked a lot due to clothing damage being a frequent result of their experiments.
    • Recently, Grace has admitted to herself that she’d like for Sarah (and Ellen) to live with her and Tedd and all sleep on a giant beanbag.
  • Ship Sinking: Elliot and Justin are still a popular couple for the shippers, but as the comic progresses, there have been a number of things that the author has done to sink this ship, not limited to basically hammering that Elliot is straight with no gay leanings whatsoever, and having Justin seemingly get over his crush on Elliot off-screen.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • With the raising Ship Tease between Elliot and Susan, there have been mixed reactions. Elliot is the perfect candidate as Susan's potential love interest, since he literally "fails at perversion" and Susan's looking for a good man. But Elliot is already in a relationship with Sarah, Susan's best friend, so she's in risk to fall into an unfavorable situation. In-universe, Sarah decides to break up with Elliot shortly before Elliot realizes she's like a sister to him, and she has no problem just handing him off to Susan (though she doesn't think it's likely).
    • And with that particular combat resolved, it's now a bit of an In-Universe race between Susan and her Identical Stranger Diane. And they BOTH got scooped by Ashley.
  • Squick:
    • The reason Damien wanted Grace so badly was so he could use her for breeding.
    • Never mind the Fridge Horror of the Family Tree arc. Punch spiking is one thing, but turning everyone into women, who are absolutely submissive and readily calling people their lord? That's pretty damn icky.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Ashley and Elliot look like this to some readers, especially since it's been pointed out in-story (by Grace) that they started dating very early after Elliot's last break-up, and (by Liz) how weird it is that Elliot seriously claims to love Ashley after round about three weeks. It made sense when he and Sarah said they loved each other early on in their relationship because they knew each other for several years, but the first time Elliot ever spoke to Ashley was the day he asked her out. Aside from them providing fetish material for one another (Elliot likes Ashley mainly for her Incorruptible Pure Pureness, Ashley is into him because of her Transgender Fetishization), their relationship is not developed all that well, and yet Dan Shive keeps hammering home just how much the two of them are in love and perfect for each other... which would be easier to buy if Ashley wasn't basically just a fangirl constantly gushing over Elliot and the other main cast members.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Lord Tedd, Tedd's Evil Counterpart from an alternate universe was set up as a major antagonist early in the strip, but was dropped very quickly.
    • Grace's brothers who pulled a Heel–Face Turn, are off in a facility learning to adjust to society and have yet to return any shape or form.
    • Justin is starting to appear this way, as out of all the original cast he typically gets the least amount of the focus. Story arcs such as his unresolved crush on Elliot or his date with Luke have been cast to the wayside and it seems unlikely either will ever get much focus later on. This does makes sense, however, since Justin is the only male homosexual character in the cast whereas the author seems to have more of a penchant of characters who are female, enjoy transforming into females, or are a combination thereof while being attracted to females. A male character who wants to be male and is attracted to other males just isn't something Dan shows much of desire to explore.
  • Ugly Cute: Chaos in her Creepy Child form.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Justin comes off as quite selfish on occasions, such as when he complains about Elliot transforming into a girl, because Justin is only attracted to him when Elliot's male, or when he just has to interrupt a romantic moment between Elliot and Sarah, or gets whiny about Elliot calling him cute when Justin is transformed into a girl. Sure, Incompatible Orientation sucks, and so does being lovesick, but Justin has known for a long time now that Elliot isn't interested in guys, and begrudging his relationships even though he knows he doesn't stand a chance is just petty. It's a relief when he grows out of this behavior later and moves on.
    • Also Tara, who's threatening and trying to kill Elliot based on a number of assumptions, and doesn't even hear out his attempt to explain that he really has no idea about what's going on. Yes, she's in search for her wife and clearly worried, but all of her accusations and brutality eventually boil down to the fact that she missed a crucial information much earlier because she didn't listen, which makes her violent attack at the mall seem really unjustified. Her being all obscure about her own affairs but running around blabbing out Elliot's secrets doesn't help, either.
  • The Woobie:
    • Tedd, Grace, Susan, Justin, Rhoda, and Dex are prime examples. Especially Grace.
    • One Way Road basically is Tedd with his Woobie-ness cranked Up to Eleven.


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