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YMMV / Pearls Before Swine

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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Pastis notes in one commentary that French people are one of the few groups he never gets called out for making fun of.
    • He tends to get a lot of support from the comment section whenever he's making fun of cyclists, which is something he does very often.
    • Modern political discourse and biased news sources in general has been a large target in more recent years.
  • Accidental Innuendo: One series of strips has Rat responding to people who annoy him by "pegging" them. He means throwing stale biscuits at their heads, but the term can also refer to a sex act that involves sodomizing someone with a strap-on dildo.
  • Angst? What Angst?: Pastis loves to play this up for dark humor. The deaths of characters rarely elicit any sort of grief (and Pastis has killed many). Various crocodiles, the roommate Leonard, and even Pastis himself have fallen victim to this.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: Though the comic strip is rather tame by TV standards, it is not aimed at kids due to the various political humor and black comedy. However, due to the fact that Comic strips are heavily censored compared to other parts of media due to the fact that kids are a huge part of the audience, many of the strips get cut out entirely due to being too controversial.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Pig has resided in this position. For some, he's an endearing character whose innocence adds humor and heartwarming goodness to an otherwise dark and cynical strip. But for others, he's just an idiot whose stupidity becomes unbearable. It doesn't help that Pig can be frustratingly stupid and unclear at times.
  • Cargo Ship: One... disturbing storyline focuses on Pig and a syrup bottle - "Ms. Bootyworth" - becoming a couple. Since this is Pearls Before Swine, the syrup bottle is sentient, but still...
  • Crosses the Line Twice:
    • Regarding Mrs. Bootyworth, three people get mad about her dating Pig: Pigita — thinks Pig is cheating on her — Rat —calling Pig "sick" for dating a syrup bottle— and ''Mr. Bootyworth — her ex-husband that still has feelings for her. Pig deals with all three of them peacefully...and then Rat and Pigita have pancakes with syrup. Goat takes Pig to the grocery store, where there are dozens of Mrs. Bootyworth bottles.
    • The character of Alphonse the Porcupine revolves around pretending to attempt suicide to get attention.
    • Rat helping add to Pig's diary:
      Pig's Diary: Today I went to a party at my neighbors house. They were kind. They were funny. They were interesting. SO I BURNED THEIR HOUSE TO THE GROUND.
    • Rat's roundabout way of carpooling takes a sharp turn.
    • When the crocs first move on, Zebra tries to report them to the cops and the local HOA. The cops say this is the natural order of things? Not funny. The HOA threatening to fine the crocs for chewing on Zebra noisily, and the crocs pay ahead of time? Comedy gold.
    • When Rat is running for President, he says that Ralph Nader is a nutball for enforcing seatbelts. When someone points out that these seatbelts save lives, Rat says, "Yees, but if you hate people as much as I do, you'll see that's not necessarily a good thing." After a Beat, he requests five minutes to rebut himself.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Da Crocs.
    • Also, Orca. Ironically, Pastis decided to kill him off when he thought he was unpopular. By the time he realized Orca was popular, it was too late. Nonetheless, the character made one more appearance in an arc about baseball, with the usual explanation that he "un-died". Although, immediately afterwards, Rat states "I had to kick Orca off our team, because technically, he's dead." But then Orca returned once more in 2013 by devouring the killer dolphins.
    • Pastis has commented that he gets letters if Danny Donkey goes too long without appearing.
    • Speaking of which, many fans wanted Pastis to have the killer dolphins make more appearances (even after when they were eaten by Orca).
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • One strip featured a croc disappointed that Steve Irwin's head has never been bitten off, published just a few months before Irwin's real death from a stingray attack.
    • This one is meant to reflect bad news in general, and it was really a wildcard when it would run, but it happened to run on June 8, 2018—the day Anthony Bourdain died.
    • The Dec. 29, 2019 strip had Baby New Year wish Pig a "New Year" instead of a "Happy New Year" and then guzzle down an entire bottle of champagne in despair because "I can see what's coming next year. ... Oh, God ... help us all." This became eerily prescient when 2020 soon proved to be the year of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Rat found Saddam Hussein hiding in a spider hole... playing a Game Boy.
    • The aforementioned "#$@&!* you, British Petroleum." strip came out the day they finally managed to cap the well.
    • Osama bin Laden staying with the cast of The Family Circus became even funnier when it turned out that bin Laden was indeed hiding in plain sight.
    • In one arc, Rat wanted to kill a random guy because he was Farina's boyfriend. Sound familiar?
    • One Sunday strip had a group of people that Rat thought were so stupid, they shouldn't be allowed to reproduce.
    • In a strip from an arc where Pig had Newt Gingrich as a pet, Rat said that Newt can never be president and John McCain is a lock for 2008. He was proven right about the former, considering Newt's dropout of the 2012 election, but wrong about the latter, considering the other nominee won that election.
    • Ever since the conception of Google+, let's just say that plenty of people on the Internet screamed Keel da Google! in unison.
    • Anytime Calvin & Hobbes was mentioned is now this (such as Rat saying he misses Bill Watterson) since Watterson guest-drew three strips in June 2014.
    • The treasury Lions and Tigers and Crocs, Oh My mentions that Pearls used to have more puns than it did at the time of the book's publication (2006) and even showed that Pastis nixed several strips in order to reduce the amount of them. Today, on the other hand, Pearls contains exponentially more puns than it ever did before.
    • In one strip, it's revealed that Larry the Croc has ordered pizza every night for several weeks straight and is given his latest for free. In 2015, Domino's Pizza started a similar deal, offering a free pizza after members order 6 pizzas online.
    • Pig's line in this comic, "Maybe we could just run blank space", takes on a new meaning since Taylor Swift released a song called "Blank Space" the following year. It's not helped at all by Stephen, in the previous day's strip asking the others if they know any good "prison songs".
    • In an early commentary book, Stephan said he was wanted to use @$$ to censor "ass." Come January 2017, he managed to spell "assholes" using Symbol Swearing.
    • A 2007 strip has Rat telling Stephan to add a cat to the comic so that it'll be more popular. Later on, Snuffles is introduced.
  • Ho Yay: On seeing some comic strip characters and creators playing "naked Twister", Stephan shouts "Wow! Dilbert is a stud!"
  • Nightmare Fuel: When Rat's eyes become red at his creator for Lame Puns and also the Crocs' own guard killing him.
  • Offending the Creator's Own: One early Sunday strip featured Pig eating in an absolutely filthy Greek restaurant where the staff spoke broken English. Greeks and Greek-Americans were not happy. Pastis is himself Greek-American.
    Restaurant owner: Yasou, pig...Georgios, he drop you gyro behind stove, but ees okay, becose Yanni can reach with mop...
    • To give more details, when the strip was reprinted in a treasury, Pastis added this comment:
      Pastis: This June 9th strip was my first experience with reader outrage. I thought that I could get away with it because I was Greek. That was not the case. Greeks everywhere complained. While I wouldn't do it again, I still maintain that everyone is just a wee bit too sensitive these days.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Based on the comments posted on the Go Comics website, many readers want the Crocs to catch and kill Zebra.
  • Tear Jerker: Surprisingly common. However, the infamous "Jerusalem bus" Sunday strip from shortly after Christmas 2003 is especially notable and absolutely soul-crushing, as is Pastis' commentary on it.
    • Wouldn't you know, Pig has feelings, too.
    • Farina breaks up with Rat.
    • On December 9th, 2018, Stephen did a tribute comic for his and wife Staci's beloved dog, Edee, who they had to euthanize because of cancer.
      The Last Panel: So run, Edee, run, to that beautiful field where you always receive the love and affection you gave. Love, us.
    • Pastis' introduction to the Pearls Takes a Wrong Turn treasury book where he discusses the 2017 California fires.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Karma Brothers, a mysterious trio of reaper-like figures who show up in January 15, 2018’s strip and say that they’re here to pay Rat and Pig back for the things they thought they got away with. They could’ve been interesting antagonists for a short story arc, but they only ever showed up once.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: There are a few early strips that are obviously products of the early 2000s.
    • Rat comments that there's a video store on every street corner. Video stores would be effectively made extinct by the advent of streaming services like Netflix in later years.
    • There are some strips that reference Bob Hope as being still alive. Hope would pass away in 2003.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not for Kids?: The main characters are all Funny Animals who make Incredibly Lame Puns on a regular basis. Perfect for kids, right? Then they start talking about current events and issues kids probably don't know about. And then there are the deaths. And the (albeit censored) swearing. And a bunch of other family-unfriendly activity. Yeah, this is one of those few comics meant just for older readers than all ages.
    • That said, though, Andrews McMeel, who publishes the book collections, have put out a few child-friendly "Pearls" books (a selection of kid-appropriate strips) through its "AMP! Comics For Kids" banner.