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     Entire Trilogy 
  • Complete Monster: Dr. Yado is behind the events of the entire trilogy. Having participated in the project that created Joy, Yado was the only one who figured out how to control the resulting Joy Mutants. This discovery gave him a massive god complex, and he immediately went to mutate the other scientists so they wouldn't figure him out. With the help of Buzzo, Yado introduced Joy as a drug to start turning humans into his mutant slaves. In order to speed up the process, he triggered the Great White Flash, killing off all women and destroying society. The only survivor, his pregnant wife, was hidden away so she could give birth to their daughter, Nancy, whom Yado would use to start a war to kill or mutate every surviving man. When the time came, Yado killed his wife and let Brad find his daughter, whom Brad renamed Buddy and became extremely protective of; this led to Brad slaughtering the entirety of Rando's Army and many others before mutating. Noticing that Buddy had taken Joy herself, Yado left messages pushing Buddy to kill as much as possible in hopes she would mutate. When cornered, Yado attacked Buddy with his strongest mutant before finally getting killed by a disgusted Buzzo.

     LISA: The First 
  • Breather Level: The Gold Statue Palace, for a little while anyway. The peaceful white world would count, except that everything is so idealized and friendly it's impossible to trust.
  • Demonic Spiders: A more literal version than most; the game is entirely combat-free, except for the awful fucking spider-things with Marty's face for a body. They don't cause harm, but they'll send you back to the start of their maze
  • The Woobie: All the evidence that can be gleaned from the game shows that Lisa has had a really, really horrible life so far.

     LISA: The Painful RPG and LISA: The Joyful 
  • Accidental Innuendo: Hawk Hollywood's defeat quote can come off as weirdly (and somewhat amusingly) sexual.
    Hard times, daddy! HARD TIMES!
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Brad: Scumbag who objectifies Buddy as much as anybody else or a Papa Wolf turned Well-Intentioned Extremist? Or both?
      • Does Brad really love Buddy? Or does he only think about her as his second chance for failing Lisa?
      • Did Brad care for Rando at all? There are signs that point in both directions.
    • Buddy: Strong-hearted little girl desperate to reclaim her life and step up as the mother of the new world no matter what she must endure, or spoiled Rebellious Princess who blames Brad for all her problems so she won't have to admit she was safer in his care? Interestingly, the Joyful goes for a combination of these two interpretations: Buddy is incredibly strong and very capable by herself, but rather than grow as a person she clings onto the negatives of her life and blames Brad for everything that went wrong, even when it becomes increasingly clear it's because of her own compulsiveness. One of the final boss phases is her addressing this.
    • Marty: Did he really turn over a new leaf, or was he only trying to gain Buddy's trust and convince Brad to spare him?
    • Most of Brad's gang due to a game mechanic that causes extra dialogue to be tacked onto their end quotes. These lines are added to whichever party member is speaking first when confronting Brad at the end of the game. Even nonsensical characters like Buckets or Harvey can come off as predatory due to this mechanic.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Buddy is considered this, especially in The Joyful, where she Took a Level in Jerkass; whether you like her or hate her is dependent on if you see her actions as a natural progression of her character arc.
    • Buzzo is in a similar boat. Initially bordering on scrappy status, The Joyful gave him a backstory explaining his actions, as he was Lisa's boyfriend, who was used by his girlfriend in order to escape her abuse. In addition, he manages to save Buddy from a mutated Brad, and kills Sweetheart and Dr. Yado. His backstory and redemption gave him many more fans, though some still believe that his actions are wholly unjustified, and that it should have been taken out on Marty instead of Brad.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The crossdresser who subjected a bunch of men to act as furniture. His whole area is rather disturbing, has a rather squicky achievement associated with it, and he threatens to fight you after you take his mags... but nothing comes out of it.
    • Gary The Hot Soup literally appears out of nowhere in The Joyful, just to stop a truck with his barehands, and take on both Buddy and Rando.
  • Breather Level:
    • The EWC area provides a safe place to sleep (if you're a wrestler), a way to grind other party members, a new party member that's one of the genuinely nice characters, and is mostly comical in tone throughout.
    • The Fishman Village. Aside from a hallucination of Lisa, it has a very light-hearted and quirky tone, no real fights whatsoever, and allows you to undertake an amusing sidequest to get one of the funniest party members in the game.
  • Crazy Awesome: RT. A homeless, old, and dirty looking man packing a bag with many nonsensical objects that somehow emit fire beams, flash bangs, venom, etc. He's easily one party member capable of tanking.
  • Creepy Cute: While the Joy Mutants are, for the most part, absolutely horrifying, two of them manage to stand out by actually being kind of cute.
    • Henry Wyatt. His hairstyle, beady eyes, and Cute Little Fangs endear him to many fans. Having a sympathetic backstory thanks to being the brother of a potential party member definitely helps.
    • Bobby from Joyful. Aside from the silly name, his walrus-like body combined with an absolutely dumb Cat Smile causes him to be labelled as a cutie.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Likely to happen to the player. Despite all the humor, this is a dark, unhappy game filled with sad, depressing messages and with a morally ambiguous "hero". According to the author, this is deliberate, as he hates conventional, do-good heroes and stories. This is especially apparent in The Joyful, due to the general lack of humor this time around.
  • Elemental Tiers: Fire is unofficially at the top, with most playable characters being able to deal it and Birdie's Gasoline Spit buffing it to ludicrous levels. Then there's Animal, which is only useful against a handful of enemies and used by only three characters. And then there's Water, which cancels out burning and is therefore unusable with fire.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Rando is more liked than the main protagonists, giving off a severe case of Rooting for the Empire due to Rando himself being well-intentioned and nice on top of being a supreme Badass.
    • In spite of his initial uselessness in gameplay, Terry is seen as the most memorable companion Brad can have, being amusing and one of the most genuinely nice characters in the game as long as you don't give him to Columbo.
    • Many other party members get lots of love from the fanbase. Birdie is liked because of his kind, funny personality on top of being a downright Game-Breaker for fire-oriented players. Olan has his fans for being a solid party member on top of being geniunely nice. Garth is well-liked for his interesting design and character. Tiger Man is liked for being a badass with a cool design. Harvey's got some fans for being the only true nonhuman party member on top of being absolutely hilarious. And finally, Nern is loved for being one of the most funny characters in the game.
    • As far as Joy Mutants go, Henry Wyatt is easily the most popular of the bunch due to his somewhat cute design and sympathetic sidequest.
    • Big "L" Lincoln, the top of the warlords list in The Joyful is seen as one of the coolest characters in the entire series, and for good fucking reason. He's an eight foot tall wolf-headed (or masked) man with insanely powerful wresting abilities with a rocking awesome theme and a sick leather jacket.
    • Before Big Lincoln, Hawk Hollywood was a well-loved warlord, mainly because of his hilarious scenes.
    • Sindy Gallows, the second warlord after Big Lincoln, is also notable by the fans, mostly because of his Moment of Awesome, which he fights Buddy while his neck is hanging on a hope, with several arrows craved in his body... and he was still able to be a tough oponent!
    Sindy Gallows: Hey, kid. I didn't get on that list by being a Goddamn pussy. I'm #2 in the world. You want my spot? Try and take it, bitch.
    • Gary the Hot Soup, as minor as he is, has a decent following for his goofy design and for somehow surviving getting beaten by Brad so he could appear as a somewhat competent miniboss in the epilogue.
  • Even Better Sequel: Painful is considered this to the first game, with more engaging gameplay and characters.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The track on the OST that plays in areas where Dr. Yado can be found playing his trumpet is named "God's Call". In religious texts, trumpets were used by angels to signal the apocalypse, which ties in with Dr. Yado's plans for the world.
  • Fanon: While each of Brad's party members get their share of love throughout the fanbase, it's very common to portray Brad's "canonical" party as Terry, Nern, and Olan in fanart.
  • Fandom Rivalry: If there’s a story-driven indie game (especially if it’s an RPG) that makes it big, then expect LISA fans to go and flaunt how their game is better because it’s “deeper”. Prime targets include Undertale and Doki Doki Literature Club!.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Try taking Dr. Yado seriously when all he wears is a pink shawl with incredibly tacky lime green polka dots.
  • Game-Breaker: Birdie's Gasoline Spit ability, combined with most characters' Fire elemental attacks, damn near trivializes almost every fight in the game due to the massive damage output.
    • Birdie in general can be considered as one. While his attack is not particularly amazing and his attack option is replaced with Swig, Swig easily replenishes his TP and the TP can be used for the aforementioned Gasoline Spit as well as for one of the few group heal moves in the game. There’s a good reason as to why many challenge runs forbid the use of Birdie.
    • Fly Minetti. He’s already a solid party member, with great agility and a regular attack that can hit all of his foes without the use of SP. What makes him so useful, though, is his Puke and Super Puke abilities. While they can inflict Rage and Stink, the fact that it can stack many other valuable status conditions such as Paralysis, Poison and Blindness on to the opponent makes them some of the most powerful moves in the game, and one of the primary reasons as to why status-stacking is so powerful.
    • In Painful, the disadvantages of taking Joy generally outweigh the advantages. In Joyful, however, Joy has no adverse effects, no bearing on the ending, comes with the added benefit of refilling your HP, and is far more plentiful than any other healing item in the game. This is intentional, since the enemies are much harder than in Painful, and the ending depends on Buddy having taken Joy at some point
  • Good Bad Bugs:
    • A few characters are programmed by the game to themselves be Joy addicts, but due to being grouped separately from Brad and the rest of the addicts, unless you specifically mod the game, will never actually suffer the effects, effectively turning them into clean characters. Some of these, like Birdie Hall and Fly Minetti, are outright considered Game-Breaker tier, while others like RT are also very useful.
    • Another Joy-related bug comes from Ajeet. He's supposed to only join if you have taken Joy less than twice barring Buzzo's force-feeding, but he'll only refuse to join you if you've taken it exactly twice. Take Joy three or more times, and he'll gladly join you.
  • I Am Not Shazam: No, Brad's adoptive daughter isn’t Lisa. The living girl is Buddy, while the actual Lisa is Brad's late baby sister. This is most likely due to Sequel Displacement caused by Painful.
  • Memetic Badass: Big Lincoln is a fucking badass. End of story.
    • In the same vein, Sindy Gallows, number two on the list is seen as one of the most badass characters in recent memory. Why? Well, when you find him, he's already been killed- riddled with arrows by some cultists and hung from a post. He killed around twenty of these guys (who are somewhat strong) by himself before he was put down. And the crazy part? He still isn't fucking dead! He even fights you in his current state and puts up a good fight, somehow. " I didn't get on the list by being a pussy" indeed.
    • Johnny Walrus became this due to a Game-Breaking Bug where if you didn't assasinate his partner, he became invincible, essentially making the fight unwinnable. This has since been patched, and he is now as vulnerable as his partner.
    • Gary the Hot Soup, who is notable for surviving getting beaten up by Brad so that he could stop your truck in the next game and fight you again. The fact that his theme is titled 666 Kill Chop Deluxe and that he’s actually decently challenging this time around definitely helps.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Marty being an asshole and child abuser is bad enough, the Joyful DLC reveals an even more sinister and painful truth. He corrupted Brad, forcing him to take drugs and alcohol AND THEN rape Lisa (or have Brad watch him rape his sister)...that has to take the cake.
    • While the bulldozer massacre scene in Painful is mostly Played for Laughs, it also signaled how low Brad had sunk, as he was casually crushing innocent construction workers for more power (EXP). And then there’s the scene where he ends up killing his party members, potentially including Shocklord, who is completely unwilling to even hurt Brad.
    • Buddy leaped right into this when she forced Rando to help her kill Lardy Hernandez, who was a major shipper of necessities, and Mr. Beautiful, a kind pacifist leader. Granted, a major factor for this and Brad's above rampage was their incessant usage of Joy, but it’s still kinda sickening.
  • Most Annoying Sound:
    • The sound of an instant kill attack.
    • Brad's "suffering from withdrawal" cry, accompanied with a flash of red.
  • Narm:
    • Buzzo's cries for Lisa during the final battle in Joyful is disturbingly hilarious if you've seen The Room.
    • Can be invoked by the player in both Painful and Joyful. In the former, you can do a sidequest on Dismal Island that allows you to permanently change your name to “Sexy Boy”, and from that same sidequest you can get a dress that Brad can wear, which changes the overworld sprite as well. As for Joyful, you can get a Terry Hintz mask that you can wear throughout the game. The Ax-Crazy Buddy doesn’t look so menacing with a dumb looking mask modeled after a middle-aged loser, does she?
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Most of the genuinely funny scenes in the game are from one or two time minor characters, such as the guy that randomly kicks Brad in the balls in one area and Gary the Hot Soup's random appearance in the Joyful.
    • Most of the cast in general who aren't main characters count as this, even the important ones. Wally? Hawk Hollywood? Every single warlord in Joyful? Any particularly memorable joy mutant? All leave a unique impression behind while only appearing just before their fight. Even a good chunk of the party members arguably count; you can count how many of them appear in more than a single scene or as a seemingly-ordinary NPC before their recruitment on one hand, and even less who have much to do besides be party members after.
  • Player Punch: All over the damn place. Almost too many to list.
    • Your party turning on you in the finale.
    • A powerful, long-standing party member dying from a perma-kill attack can elicit a level of remorse and grief like no other game can.
    • Terry coming back as a boss fight if you sold him to Columbo. He's been turned from an innocent, dorky man into a bitter, pain-obsessed monster. Oh, and he's also extremely hard.
    • Being forced to beat Buddy into unconsciousness to kill Marty even if he deserved it.
    • Rando's death via Buddy killing him.
    • The battle against Mr. Beautiful, a man that's set up a peaceful colony. Mr. Beautiful himself outright refuses to attack until he's low on health, and the dialogue between him and Rando (who are implied to have been friends) are painful.
  • Rooting for the Empire: The Rando Army gets this reaction, especially considering that even if a lot of the ground forces are corrupt, Rando himself is genuinely nice.
  • Sequel Displacement: Has sort of occurred with Painful displacing The First. A good chunk of the fandom has no idea that this game had a Yume Nikki-esque predecessor. This often leads to the I Am Not Shazam described above, with many people mistaking Buddy for the titular girl when they first stumble upon the series. Many fans who played Painful first, however, often find out about The First, and play that in order to learn a bit more about the series' lore.
  • Sequelitis: While still considered solid in its own right, many fans generally agree that Joyful is rather weak when compared to Painful. Fans often cite the lack of party members and sacrificial choices, as well as less memorable characters and (to some fans) a less likable protagonist as the reasons that this game falls into this territory.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: In order to properly raise a child, one must be of sound mind and body. Despite Brad's legitimate love for Buddy, he is unfit to raise her due to his mental health issues and drug addiction, and the game makes a point of this.
  • Squick:
    • Near the construction zone in the second area, you can find a house owned by a cross-dresser who uses live people as furniture. Most are just tables, chairs, and the like... then you enter a back room and find out one of them is being used as a toilet. Ugh. There's even a Steam achievement for seeing this, appropriately titled "No... It can't be..."
    • You can get a "Nugget" that you can rub on yourself, giving you the Stink condition. Said nugget appears to be a lump of fecal matter, so you can essentially rub poop all over yourself. Eugh...
  • Strawman Has a Point: The basic premise of the game is that Brad's treatment of Buddy (and by extension, Brad himself) is no better than anybody else's, but all his fears for her are entirely valid. Say what you will about his methods and his motives, but all the bad things that happen to Buddy don't happen until she's taken out of his care.
  • That One Sidequest: The Russian-Roulette sidequest is feared and disliked due to the RNG based nature of it. While the rewards are nice (1500+ mags, a decent pistol and Buckets), the chance of either losing a useful party member in your party or a backup one for later is incredibly high, especially considering that there are thirteen roulette players, giving you a 1/8192 chance of not losing any party members. Oh, and the final encounter takes two shots to the head to kill. Either prepare to savescum like there's no tomorrow, or kiss a handful of your gang members goodbye.
  • Tier-Induced Scrappy:
    • Pretty much anyone with a pre-existing Joy addiction, simply because of how badly withdrawals gimp characters. Characters who specialize in damage, such as Queen, Buckets, and Tiger Man, get hit the worst. Dick is just sort of considered weak on his own merits even besides that, while Clint is discussed below. The only addict to get out of this unscathed is Carp, due to his utility having next to nothing to do with sheer offense.
    • Crisp and Buffalo are this, since they're only obtainable in Area 3, when you're likely to have a formed party while they have no real niches to fill that other characters already do. Buffalo is somewhat redeemed by his high damage output, large selection of skills, and by virtue of being a mandatory recruit, but Crisp is fairly well-hidden and has three skills, one of which almost never hits.
    • Ollie Nickels always suffers from the 'Depressed' status ailment. Like withdrawal, depression severely gimps his stats, but unlike withdrawal, Ollie can't fight it off. While his skills might seem decent, reaching Ollie requires you to recruit Harvey Alibastor, and also available from the same area is Fly Minetti. Both Harvey and Fly have skills that outperform Ollie's, and they aren't hindered by depression.
    • Clint Olympic. He’s essentially a poor man's Brad (you know, the protagonist of the game), with weaker attacks and stats. He also has atrocious availability, costing a whopping 500 Mags for recruitment, which is more than the amount of Mags needed to recruit all of the other Mag-required party members.note  To top it all off, he also suffers from Joy Addiction, meaning that you can’t really use him as a back-up version of Brad. While he has more Area of Effect attacks, several other party members, namely Fly Minetti, have access to stronger variants of these attacks, while having other useful skills and better stats to boot.
    • Speaking of Rage Ironhead, he's easily the least well-regarded of Brad's early party members, including the initially-useless Terry. 70 mags is a steep price to pay for that early in the game, especially since the much more useful Olan is right there and much cheaper to recruit. Terry, Olan, Nern, and even Fardy all have their unique niches as party members, but like Clint, Rage is effectively a weaker version of Brad, and joins at a fairly low level to boot. It's not all that unheard of for savvy players to hire him specifically so they have someone to sacrifice to Buzzo and keep an arm.
    • Fardy Hernandez. Sure, he’s a required party member and later grants you the ability to warp to any area, but he’s just plain awful in combat. His average-at-best stats are heavily marred by perpetual Depression, and he has only three attacks: His incredibly weak standard attack, Weep (which, while healing SP, induces Crying on Fardy), and Truck Slam. While it’s a powerful attack that can induce Fallen on all foes, it’s horrendously outclassed by Brad's Head Slide attacks and Shocklord's Big Shock. Unless you’re only using required party members, there’s pretty much zero reason to use Fardy.
    • Percy is an all-around Master of None who, while not nearly as bad as the other characters at this point in the list, is still pretty much outclassed in every meaningful way by other party members. It's just never really all that great an idea to have him around, and since he joins right before the first arm-vs-party member sacrifice and mandatory Russian Roulette, his main purpose in the average playthrough is to be used specifically for the latter.
    • More on one of the first characters mentioned under this troppe. Despite how cool he looks, having a unique weapon type, and being based around the very martial art Austin Jorgensen uses, and on paper having the workings of an offensive powerhouse, for a multitude of reasons, Tiger Man just... isn't good. First off, this raw damage dealer is the reward for beating him as an actually somewhat difficult Bonus Boss, meaning that you need a really solid party just to get him. On top of that, he suffers such an extreme Redemption Demotion that, out the gate, he's really not doing all that much damage at all for a level 15 character, and all three of the available weapons for him to use kinda suck. All of his moves are effectively more powerful variants of one another, putting him in a similar "one-note attacker" camp to Rage Ironhead, except that you're getting him somewhere roughly midway to mid-late in the game if you don't want him to join super underleveled. To top it all off? He's a Joy Addict, and due to how little usage he has outside of raw damage dealing (a post which much easier to acquire and better-rounded characters can do just as well if not better), he is perhaps the most negatively impacted by joy withdrawal in the entire game.
  • Unfortunate Character Design: Arty's elongated leg, due to its positioning and pose, looks like a giant penis. Him having a massive, smug grin on his face and being very vulnerable to Flash does not help his case.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: The whole womenless wasteland thing from the two games made some people interpret it as being a feminist or anti-feminist allegory. However, Word of God says that LISA is not intended to have an agenda or message and he doesn't take either side of the debate.
  • The Woobie: It's safe to say that at least half the characters qualifies, either as a straight-out example or as a Jerkass Woobie.

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