- Acceptable Targets: Any kind of Obstructive Bureaucrat.
- Government in general. One example is extremely nasty, in that Flo thinks it's the reason humanity has a permanent psychosis when it comes to nuclear research, even at its most beneficial.
- Politicians in general.Sam: Engineers and politicians are such opposites Im surprised they dont burst into gamma rays when they touch.
- Government scientists.Helix: If I were a scientist out to prove Global Warming was man made, I could throw this one fact out as data scatter.
Sam: Now, now. Let's not make this decision as if our funding depended on it.
- Accounting Department.
- Airline security.
- Anvilicious: (Stupid) corporations are bad, m'kay? As are lawyers and politicians, but, well, y'know... And middle managers are dumb. This can all be rolled into one all-encompassing Aesop: Obstructive Bureaucrats are (far) more dangerous than an Alien Invasion. Or in the words of Sam Starfall himself,Sam: ...even atomic weapons pale before that of an unfettered idiot in a position of power.
- Archive Panic: In the year 2011 the 2011th strip was posted.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Sam learns, during his Accounting exam, that "the way to steal the most money is not being greedy."
- Fanon Discontinuity: The sexist explanation for robot gender (that it's based on how much they talk) is almost universally ignored by the readership.
- Genius Bonus: When Winston is talking about "dots," little mini-ecosystems with dead land between them, some of which die, and others of which will eventually cover the whole planet, common patterns from Conway's Game of Life are shown in the background.
- Various different dates and numbers are shown on the backs of some robots during the 'power plant war' storyline, corresponding with events: one is the birthdate of Enrico Fermi, another of James Maxwell. Small jokes like this get strewn all throughout the story.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Florence complains that her direct orders basically give her an obsessive-compulsive urge to obey and don't even have a "carrot-and-stick" payoff. It's later revealed that the old uplifted chimpanzees' direct orders did stimulate their pleasure centres when orders were completed, which Dr. Bowman objected to on moral grounds because it "made a bunch of addicts".
- Less Disturbing in Context: The romantic subplot is an Interspecies Romance involving an uplifted wolf and a human.
- Magnificent Bastard: Sam may be a kleptomaniac by nature, and considered a foe by almost everyone on Jean, but his study of human behavior allows him to often manipulate things to his benefit, even to the point of tricking a bunch of AIs to all target the mayor with pies.
- Memetic Mutation: Borrowed one in the form of "My dad is Li Gang!", complete with correct context.
- Moral Event Horizon: Crossed by Mr. Kornada, with this. He's not trying to wipe out robots because he fears them. He's doing it to get rich. Not only would he end half a billion existences, he would also cripple the planetary terraforming and almost all of the colony's labor force, endangering the lives of everyone there — to get rich. And the insults just keep on piling - not only was his plan colossally idiotic, he can't even claim to have come up with it; he flat-out roped an innocent AI as an accomplice in a manner just as repulsive, by deceiving him into believing a long-time companion of his and legitimate owner had died.
- Nausea Fuel: Sam gets a taste of this when he asks Florence about her meal though he's normally the one causing it.
- Nightmare Fuel:
- Played for laughs when Sam explains his understanding of what to expect while Florence recovers from her ordeals during Hurricane Joe.
- From an A.I.'s perspective, the Gardener in the Dark "upgrade".
- From the perspective of any human in the setting who takes the time to contemplate how necessary functional A.I.s are to the comfort level of their society, the Gardener in the Dark "upgrade".
- When Doctor Bowman realized his species (uplifted chimpanzee) was too aggressive to survive, he neutered himself. With a sharpened plastic spoon.
- It's pretty unsettling how people like the Mayor and Varroa see Florence - an obviously sapient, active, emotionally engaged being - as nothing more than an AI, especially when they hijack her with direct orders and her remote.
- Worse, someone brings up how easily Florence's control functions can be abused and is laughed off. Especially since a significant percentage of the planet's population are not the direct descendants of their parents, but "genetic colonists" who EU could have easily given covert genetic modifications.Security Guard: Shes not a robot. Shes a living being. This remote turns her on and off! Her memory is short-circuited! As well as being plain wrong, this stuff could be adapted to humans! Do I have to worry about this being tried on us next?
Varroa: Oh, no. Never. You guys are union. Wed try it on contractors first.
- Florence lays it out rather neatly when explaining just how utterly wrong the "direct order" system can go, depending on the human giving them.Florence: If you ordered me to chew my fingers off, I'd do it! If I'm ordered to destroy all the turtles in the world, I would try to carry the order out!
Henri: Safeguards would... no, it's not hurting humans. It is an order. Nuts. You would do it.
- Squick: Do-it-yourself blood sample drawing and a self-administered spinal tap and bone marrow sample.
- Strawman Has a Point: Sam Starfall is, by Word of God, meant to be a comedic exaggeration of human laziness and kleptomania in support thereof (as in, his entire species considers theft and deceit virtues). Funny thing? He's never done anything any human in history has not. This means when someone actually asks him to unravel Kornada's plot, he cracks it in minutes. Though in the process he smashes the worldview of some very nice robots to pieces. And ultimately, it seems he's the one to finally put the kibosh on the whole, "lobotomize all robots" thing... by pointing out that if humans don't act to preserve robot rights, they won't be the ones to profit from them - it will all go to the rich people instead.
- Values Dissonance: According to Sam (and Word of God backs him up), his race evolved as scavengers so stealing and deception is in his genes. It's considered among his people a survival trait to be able to deny resources to competing tribes.
YMMV / Freefall