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Unmarked spoilers below.

  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • Brandish's actions in Daybreak 1.7 have had fans speculating on whether she's a messed-up person who's genuinely trying to help, but failing because of her screwed-up worldview, or whether she's a full-blown narcissist.
    • Tattletale's appearance as an opponent to Victoria has led a lot of readers to outright dislike her, because her patronising, condescending schtick has stopped being endearing now that she's opposed to the protagonist.
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    • In-universe, Kenzie is either a sweet kid with a lot of issues that she's doing her best to work through, or a sweet kid who happens to be a walking nightmare who's ruined many careers by accident, and has fucked up quite a few lives.
    • After Interlude 9.x came out, the fandom immediately began arguing over whether Tristan or Byron has the moral high ground, and whether Tristan is a sociopath, a narcissist, or just an insensitive dickhead.
      • By the conclusion of Arc 9, most fans will agree that while both could have handled things better and had their fair share of the blame, Byron undoubtedly has the moral high ground.
    • Amy's behavior throughout Ward paints her as a far worse person than she is commonly depicted based on Worm, with some readers taking her self-absorbed nature and actions in arc 9 in context with some of her more questionable actions in Worm and declaring her a narcissist. When questioned regarding the matter, Wildbow himself confirmed that Amy physically abusing Vicky was heavily implied in Worm.
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    • Is Chris a completely amoral monster that used Breakthrough solely to further his goals, or does he see them as friends on some level? His using one of his serums on Rain to save his life and risk exposing his secret suggests the latter, but he also doesn't seem particularly fond of them in his interlude. His offer to give Victoria to Amy has also seen debate. Was this something he was actually thinking of doing, or did he just say to manipulate her further?
      • His actions during his reunion with Breakthrough in Arc 14 raise even more questions. He's become a lot meaner than before, now throwing around genuinely hurtful insults to Breakthrough rather than the vitriolic banter from earlier in the story. He also uses a serum of his to render Victoria unconscious and set up a meeting between her and Amy. On the other hand, some have interpreted his actions as lashing out due to his fear of getting close to people, and convincing himself he does not need anyone to succeed. Despite his repeated insistence that he does not care about Breakthrough, he also decides to lie to the guards after catching them sneaking out to get electronics, and later uses Exact Words to fool a lie detector for their benefit. Whether that was to save his own dignity in failing to stop them, or because he genuinely decided to help them is unclear.
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    • When Sveta's interlude came out, fans began debating whether Sveta was Nayet or Dimi- the first part of the interlude was from Nayet's perspective, but it was noted that Dimi was drawing fish and swirls the way Sveta does.
      • 16.8 added to the confusion by making Sveta's dream sequence from the perspective of Dimi, not Nayet.
      • However it was later all but confirmed that Sveta was in fact Dimi rather than Nayet, making Sveta a trans woman. Why the flashback portion of her interlude was from Nayet's perspective is anyone's guess, but a common theory is memory bleed similar to the one between Ashley and Edict.
    • Is Tristian's battlefield suicide using his own rock powers a Heroic Sacrifice to spare his brother from becoming a Titan along with him and prevent the heroes from having to fight another Titan, or is it a selfish and cowardly act to avoid having to deal with the lethal consequences of his own actions, however accidental? Or did he simply snap under the pressure and fatigue of the fight?
  • Arc Fatigue: Arc 9, Gleaming, despite having its fair share of fans, can definitely be this to some people. The arc is the longest in the story so far, clocking in at 15 regular chapters and 4 interludes, and is emotionally exhausting as well. The arc begins with the entire team being mind-controlled by Goddess, who then uses them to gather her army at the prison. While the main characters have plenty of wins, all of them are pyrrhic due to the fact that they all ultimately advance Goddess's goals. There are a bunch of hope spots sprinkled throughout, which are then taken away. This all culminates in Breakthrough finally freeing themselves from her control and Goddess dying, but at this point, some will just be too exhausted to care. To top it all off, the arc was published over a period of more than two months, which makes the issue even worse for readers who read it as it was being published.
    • In general, Ward sometimes faces accusations of this due to its sheer length. Although it only has 20 arcs to Worm's 30, Ward is actually longer at 2.0 million words to 1.68, and so each individual chapter and arc is longer.
  • Ascended Meme: Blinding 11.7. References the "Parian's true power" meme from Worm. Keep in mind that Parian is in the group in this scene:
    “I think I get how your power is really supposed to work,” I said.
    “Mine?” Rain asked.
    “Who else?” I asked.
    • Then of course, later in the story, Parian's (horrifying) True Power is actually revealed.
  • Ass Pull: It’s established fairly early that Victoria is averse to powered healing due to the trauma of her experience with Amy, and that the knowledge of animal DNA still being present inside her contributes to her body dysmorphia. What’s NOT established is that she has perfectly practical concerns about most healing powers potentially triggering malignant growth of those elements or immunorejection of them. THAT part only comes up when she’s injured near the end of the story and a healing power involving time reversal lets her recover without it being a huge deal for her.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: In Gleaming 9.9 one of the prisoners throws a used adult diaper at the team. Victoria scares them off, and Capricorn uses his power to bury the diaper. The incident is never spoken of nor thought of again.
  • Broken Aesop: Zig zagged with a regular Aesop.
    • Ward is initially presented as a story about overcoming the hardships of the past in order to pursue a better tomorrow, exemplified both through the initial setting being a city being constructed in the aftermath of the end of the world and the main cast all being members of a therapy group all wrestling with their own mental issues. What seems like a strong foundation for these themes however gradually crumbles away further and further as arcs progress. The heroes rarely outright win, the City collapses into starvation and anarchy and is eventually abandoned entirely while the main cast either die or backslide mentally until they're even less in control of their mental issues than they were at the start. This comes to a head in the Last arc, wherein a final act of desperation against Titan Fortuna and the Simurgh, the superpowered cast intentionally infects themselves with a virus that is guaranteed to kill them while giving them twisted and unpleasant dreams, in order to screw up the data that the entities are collecting and irreparably damage the cycle. What was ostensibly a story about overcoming trauma ended up looking like "sometimes you simply can't change yourself or your situation for the better, and then the next best thing you can do for the world and everyone you know is give up and die". Many readers did not take it well, risking a Broken Base...
    • ...However, it was later revealed that all the capes could be revived should the unpowered citizens of the world choose to revive them in time, which everyone appears to have known going in, meaning that the actual intended lesson was something more like "sometimes in order to change yourself or your situation for the better, you have to place your faith and hope in others and rely on their help and support". Indeed, the epilogues support this: the characters who have reached out for help and support are the best off mentally and physically by the end (e.g. Victoria), while those who push others away are doing the worst (e.g. Chris). This is much closer to a standard family-friendly Aesop...
    • ...But it's also clear that there was a real risk that the unpowered would choose to let them die anyway and many of the more cynical capes believed that this would happen, but accepted the virus anyway, so for them, it may as well have been suicide. Not helped by the fact a large part of the story portrayed the overall relationship between normal people and parahumans as decidedly distrustful and negative; as well as all the characters themselves going about things as if it were suicide. So between the ending flying in the face of how people as a whole were largely portrayed throughout the story, combined with the author having characters avoid mentioning or reacting to the finer details of the plan, there's some argument about whether the original message of recovery stands strong, or if the "they always knew they would be revived" argument is an Author's Saving Throw.
    • A number of plot points were dropped by the wayside either to speed the plot up or due to the author's real life unhappiness with writing the story and wanting it finished, and do so in a way that is worse than if they weren't raised in the first place. The anti-parahuman's very legitimate criticism of parahumans receiving blatant favoritism and disproportionate power are brushed aside at the end and the group mocked and marginalized before being strawmanned by a literal child, which unintentionally proved them right on almost every count. The central theme of becoming a better person is side-stepped when the protagonists help the Wardens set up an interdimensional gulag with inhumane conditions, with the specific intention of 'disappearing' troublesome villains into it, to make the other villains more afraid of stepping out of line. Beyond some initial doubts, the morality of this is never questioned, and it is ultimately abandoned for being impractical.
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • After an entire arc of Goddess "aligning" every parahuman she comes across, and getting Breakthrough into dangerous situations due to her poor leadership skills and tactics, watching Victoria regain her free will and distributing the anti mind control drugs, THEN having Goddess be brutally killed by Cryptid can be incredibly satisfying.
    • After dealing with Cradle's bullshit throughout Arc 11, the heroes go on the offensive in arc 12 and, despite his power-up, turn the tables on him with the use of Rain's enhanced emotion power. They slowly take his allies out of the equation one by one, then take away his bargaining ship by tracking the signal he uses to undo the damage of his whip, culminating with him cornered between Victoria, Sveta, Rain, and a welcoming party consisting of Citrine, the Number Man, and more, leading to one hell of a satisfying climax.
    • The Simurgh has been a terrifying and infuriating villain since her introduction in Worm. Her machinations are so pervasive that "It was a Simurgh Plot!" has become a fandom meme. So in the finale when Rain and Victoria manage to cut her in half, and then she's finally neutralized by being pushed into the Sleeper's aura, you can't help but cheer.
    • The last time we saw Jack Slash, he was joyfully corrupting Scion, successfully convincing the latter to turn on humanity and initiate a genocide of the human race, and has received everything he wanted in the form of widespread destruction and carnage. When we check in on him at the end of Ward, he's spent two years in a Time Loop Trap with a caved-in chest cavity, and all that smug bravado has left him. Instead, he's left a hollow shell of himself, yearning for death but unable to die, finally experiencing a fraction of the agony he's visited on countless innocents over 20 years. You'd be forgiven for feeling some dark satisfaction in the fact that, even after the heroes have obtained the power to free people from Gray Boy's loops without causing a Time Crash, ending Jack's torment is as low as possible on their priority list.
    • In Glow-Worm 9, we learn Glory Girl publically chewed out Taylor's bullies and gave them a cold shoulder after they insulted a disabled girl during a photoshoot. In the same chapter, Glory Girl tells Madison off for her behavior, saying she's worse than Taylor. It is nice to see Madison did get a couple of ass-chewings for her behavior.
  • Creepy Awesome:
    • Chris' Mad Anxiety form, a six-foot-tall screaming face with spider-like legs.
    • Sidepiece, whose power allows her to rip off parts of her body and throw them at people, whereupon they explode.
    • Kenzie pulls plenty of feats that can only be called awesome. Then you think about the implications for three minutes and her work hits damned creepy (surveillance and ethical breaches) very, very quickly.
    • Nailbiter can rapidly extend the length of any part of her body, including her teeth and tongue, while at the same time making them thinner and more durable. She uses this with brutal efficacy in combat, slicing up people with her long fingers, spearing them so quickly it's equivalent to being shot, and increasing her mobility. She even replaced her teeth with actual nails (hence the cape name) to make them more effective weapons. Victoria describes her changed form as looking half-crocodile, half-scarecrow.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Amy's Woobie Status from Worm has resulted in a some readers ignoring what a horrible person she's become by Ward. Ironic since some of Amy's behavior recontextualizes her actions in Worm in a less sympathetic light.
    • Others have done line-by-line comparisons of Amy's thoughts and words in Worm and Ward and pointed out a large number of discrepancies, leading many to view the differences between her portrayals in each serial as a retcon of her character arc, such as the removal of her character growth from the latter half of Worm, most notably her desire to atone for the terrible things she had done.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: mlekk in Glow-worm, thanks to their unique typing style.
    • Ratcatcher has become very popular on reddit.
    • Of all things, Chris' Mad Anxiety form has become very popular, no doubt due to its horrifying description and bizarrely hilarious first appearance.
    • Sidepiece, thanks to her unique power and all the jokes she makes about it.
    • Moose, due to his banter, common sense, and friendly nature.
    • The Major Malfunctions, as a result of the young cape group's wholesomeness, likeability and adorable behaviour. The fandom's reaction to their proper introduction in Beacon 8.8 was instantly positive.
    • After Blinding 11.6 came out, Lord of Loss, of all people, became one after it was revealed that he types using ridiculous, anime-esque emoticons normally seen used by teenagers. His cool powerset and awesome fight scenes don't hurt either.
    • Homer, despite only appearing during flashbacks in March's interlude, has been well-received due to his cool design, unique weapon choice, and surprisingly sympathetic characterization.
    • The Pharmacist is by far the most popular of the disposable fodder capes, thanks to her insanely cool power of setting other powers on fire, her memorable fight scenes, and being taken down by Victoria in a scene straight out of a slasher movie (Victoria being the slasher). Many fans were disappointed that she didn't show up again after arc 9, and that there's a good chance she's dead.
    • Torso, due to being hilariously inept at everything and yet extremely effective.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • The first appearance of Kenzie's father had fans being put off by his rather awkward and direct demeanour. It didn't take long until people accused him of being a robot or projection created by Kenzie. Largely discredited once we saw more of Kenzie's parents, but it still helped feed the "everything is a camera" meme.
    • When Heavens 12.9 was posted, Lionwing was referred to with male pronouns, despite being explicitly female in all her previous appearances. The mistake has since been fixed, but in the meantime several fans jokingly (and not-so-jokingly) stated that the error was actually intentional, with theories explaining the discrepancy ranging from reasonable (Lionwing is a male-female Case 70 pair) to outlandish (March messing with the time bubbles has retroactively changed Lionwing's gender).
  • Fan Nickname:
    • Victoria's shard is often referred to by fans as Waste, the Waste, or sometimes even Waste-Chan.
    • The Harbinger clones have been dubbed 'the Number Lads'.
      • The Harbinger that's been having regrets about his actions and wants to save Sveta from the others has been nicknamed 'Irrational Number'.
    • The alternate dimension that the agents hang out in has been dubbed "Shardspace".
    • The appearance of the titans has been dubbed the "Titanomachy".
  • Fridge Horror: Multiple readers have commented that Kenzie's penchant for throwing herself at anyone who's nice to her would not only make her easy prey for serial killers, child molesters and so on, it'd also make her an easy recruit for any supervillains who realised this... such as, say, the Slaughterhouse Nine. And if she wasn't black, she'd likely have been a prime candidate for the Fallen's abductions of capes.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • At the end of Interlude 7.x, Victoria asks if she can give Kenzie a hug, and Kenzie says no because her rules say she can't hug friends, but she thinks that she really wishes that Victoria would ignore the no and hug her anyway, as that wouldn't break any rules. It's sad, but it becomes a lot worse when one remembers that ignoring someone who said no and hugging them anyway is how Victoria wound up as a giant flesh-blob.
    • In Worm Tattletale bitterly remarks that Victoria triggered after becoming upset at a children's basketball game. In Worm, the frank description is supposed to illustrate how easy it is for second-gen capes to trigger whereas first-gen capes like Taylor and Lisa have to go through the worst days of their lives up to that point. In Ward we learn more about the details of that trigger, that Victoria triggered as the result of deep-seated feelings of inferiority, realizing her parents were bored and ignoring her at her own basketball game because they were so preoccupied with superhero issues that they didn't notice their own daughter's best efforts to capture their attention. Stack onto that the fact that a stronger girl on the other team was also effortlessly mopping the floor with her, when she wanted so hard to be strong to be a hero, and it's clear that Victoria's trigger was no less traumatic or came from a place any brighter than Taylor's.
  • Les Yay: Ashley and Victoria, depending on who you ask.
    • On one hand, neither of them have explicitly expressed interest in each other, or in women in general, and Victoria has residual trauma from Amy's brainwashing that affects her interest in any relationship, let alone a gay one.
    • On the other, they've grown quite close and familiar, especially as the story has gone on - living together, sharing meals, essentially acting as surrogate parents to Kenzie - and they both pay a lot of attention to the appearance of other women.
      • Some of Ashley's dialogue in particular seems almost deliberately misleading:
        “Cute young men in elegant black uniforms who run to obey when you snap your fingers,” Damsel said. Two claws clacked together.
        “And young women,” Swansong said.
        Damsel arched an eyebrow, “You think so? Are you more worldly now, or is this a strategy? Distracting male visitors?”
        Swansong shook her head. “We’re talking about Rain. Rain would want women, I imagine.”
      • As of Black 13.4, it's acknowledged in-universe in the fake diary planted on Victoria's computer:
        Ashley was very good at pruning, and very easy to prune now that I was close enough.
        That was without getting into the various degrees of non-platonic subtext.
    • In-universe, Sveta also seems to think there's some degree of romance between them.
      • In 13.1, she explicitly compares Victoria's relationship with Ashley to her own with Weld:
        I quickened my pace in heading over in Sveta’s direction. I floated and flew the last few steps, and gave her a hug.
        “You look better rested than yesterday,” she said.
        “A bit. I think Ashley felt bad for me, she made me breakfast.”
        “Jealous. Weld tries, but I hate asking things of him, especially lately, when I don’t even have my body.”
      • In 16.2, her line to Victoria after Ashley's death is also very loaded, to the point that the hosts of the We've Got Ward podcast, who normally dislike shipping, acknowledged that it was very very hard to read any other way:
        “Armstrong was so proud of how well she was doing, it really affected him that she was gone, you know? I can’t say I felt exactly the same, I never really felt… I don’t even know how to put it. She wasn’t someone I clicked with, not in a general sense. But I have a ton of memories of conversations like the one I mentioned to you a bit ago, Victoria, about Ashley wanting to be Case Fifty-Three. Times our differences made the bridging of the gaps feel really meaningful.”
        “That makes a ton of sense,” I said. “I kind of feel the same way. Probably about very different things.”
        Sveta smiled. “Very different things.”
      • And in 20.11, Victoria's dream conversation with Ashley's "ghost" has Ashley first address her as "my friend" (which is a major admission she didn't even openly make with Kenzie), and later as "my dear". Granted, the latter could simply be Ashley using her typical superior and condescending tone of voice, but coming at a time of uncharacteristic sincerity, and the fact that both are aware they've got limited time and won't meet again until Victoria dies for real, it's easy to read as Ashley making an understated and deniable confession of her feelings.
  • Memetic Loser: Contessa has become this after it was revealed that she got captured by Teacher after only two days of not using PTV.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page here.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Due to her questionable decisions and death at the hands of Chris and Amy, Goddess is generally depicted as a braindead moron who relies on her raw power to do all the dirty work for her. While it's true that she is a poor tactician and strategist, she is good at using the resources available to her and listens to the advice of her subordinates, and her stupidity is often overblown to memetic proportions by the fandom.
    • After being constantly out-fought, out-witted and out-played, and almost always needing the protagonists to swoop in and save them, the fandom's opinions of the Wardens can best be summed up as 'comically inept'. Their response to the protagonist' cape team being betrayed and imprisoned was to send an important official in with no bodyguards, where he is immediately the target of an assassination attempt and needs to be rescued by the very team he was sent in to rescue. What is possibly even more concerning is that this takes place on Earth Shin, where the entire population are rabid parahuman haters thanks to a decade of tyrannical rule under Goddess, and the Warden's chosen ambassador... is the parahuman Miss Militia.
  • Shocking Moments:
    • The end of Shadow 5.5: Rain's cluster summons their pre-hired army to go after the Fallen. The members of this army include the Hollow Point villains, a few of the mercenary team from the Daybreak arc, Tattletale and her mooks, Imp and the Heartbroken, Parian and Foil, and Bitch and her dogs. Of the last few examples, none of them except for Tattletale and her mooks had been confirmed as still alive before then.
    • Nearly all of the finale fight in the Last arc. They cut the Simurgh in half! Sleeper finally appears in person!
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Tori has a short segment of narration in Interlude 12.x, which is there mostly to explain how Vista survived and showcase March's demise, with her dying of blood loss at the end of it. Many fans wished that her POV could have instead been saved for a full interlude that would have shed more light on Goddess's cluster and Earth Shin.
    • A number of readers argue that the story would have been more interesting is Rain had been the main protagonist, and that with the amount of screen time he has, he basically is anyways, as well as being much more intimately connected to cluster triggers (being in one himself) and the importance of dreams (as the chosen gimmick of his cluster), as well as having a power that is directly useful in the final fight. Interestingly, a number of his more vocal critics (see the Unintentionally Unsympathetic entry) state that they would have less of a problem with him if he was the protagonist, as they would have had more time to learn to appreciate him.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: When the plot point of Victoria's fake diary was introduced, the entire fandom drowned in theories about it, with various popular ones centering around the idea that Victoria's shard was responsible for it somehow, mostly through puppeteering her body when she was asleep. When subsequent chapters revealed that not only was Victoria's diary not an isolated incident, but Teacher was the one behind it as well, several fans were disappointed that the culprit was the most "predictable" option and that those theories could have made for a more interesting plot.
  • Too Bleak, Stopped Caring: As expected of a Wildbow story, this is a common complaint, though this reaches a peak in Arcs 11 and 12 due to non-stop chapters of the heroes continually losing, beloved side characters being killed off or horribly tortured, things going from bad to worse, and all of this with no victories, respite, or sign of things getting better. The ending of the Heavens arc mollified this somewhat, with March dead, Vista alive, Cradle captured and all of his victims fully healed.
    • This issue only worsens with the introduction of the Titans, a band of Invincible Villain Physical Gods each on the level of an Endbringer against whom the cast stands absolutely no chance of winning, carve through multiple named characters with ease, and multiply in number whenever a cape passes the Despair Event Horizon, which is quite often. Audience outcry reached a fever pitch with the Last chapter, wherein the last-ditch plan to defeat the Titans involves intentionally infecting themselves with a lethal virus that causes bizarre and twisted dreams, to mess with the Shards' memory recording systems, something that many felt amounted to the cast giving up and committing mass suicide. This caused no small amount of controversy among the fans, with some stepping back from Ward as a whole, seeing it as an outright offensive handling of an incredibly sensitive topic, especially when the theme of the story ostensibly was overcoming despair. Shortly afterward it's revealed that going in all the capes who accepted the virus knew that the unpowered people of the world would be given the ability to revive them, turning this into An Aesop about placing your life in the hands of others when your problems are too much for you to handle on your own... but given how this aspect of the plan was deliberately avoided being discussed, and all the characters personally reacted to the situation as though it was suicide, some still view this as an Author's Saving Throw rather than the intended lesson all along.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: While Rain is generally one of the most popular characters, a small but vocal portion of the fandom is much more critical of him. The story doesn't shy away from showing how much of a scumbag he was before and shortly after his trigger event, and his change of heart apparently coming from his cluster's personality bleed can make his attempts at redemption feel completely undeserved. His prominence in the early parts of the story doesn't help either. The reveal in arc 12 that his Heel–Face Turn was genuine, and that the personality bleed actually came from Cradle helped convert a good number of those readers to his side, but for others, it was way too late and still doesn't make up for what he did.
    • A fair number of readers found Victoria to be an unsympathetic protagonist, given her increasing brutality (reminiscent of her days as Glory Girl), judgmental nature and tendency to ignore the (entirely justified) critical opinions of regular humans and the anti-parahuman faction. The story ends with Victoria and her colleagues discussing the best ways to undermine the way that regular, unpowered humans were supposedly given a greater degree of power and control.
  • The Woobie:
    • Kenzie/Heart-Shaped Pupil. A teenager who triggered at a very young age (she was on a Wards team at ten, and one can only hope she's a second-generation cape), wasn't very close to her Wards team (who it's implied were afraid of what she can do), has had people try to kidnap her for her power, and in the present day, despite being part of the chatroom team, she's lonely to the point that she made three different chatrooms full of bots to have something resembling friends.
    • Victoria. In Daybreak alone, she fights off a group of villains almost single-handedly, gets fired from her job for helping people, and then her mother manages to destroy her relationships with both parents.
    • Rain. His situation at the beginning of the story is so completely hopeless that one can't help but feel sympathy for the guy.
    • Erin. She's stuck living with the Fallen, her family is starting to subscribe to their beliefs while she wants nothing to do with them, and she's so attractive that she's likely to be forcibly married to a much older Fallen member whether she likes it or not.
    • Byron. He's stuck in the same body as his twin, a twin who overshadowed him and ruined things without even trying before they triggered. They're stuck seeing and experiencing everything the other does. They can't escape each other, and they can't even communicate. But Byron is an introvert who constantly has to deal with the consequences of Tristan's behaviour, and worse, if Tristan decides to do something major- like joining Breakthrough- Byron can say he doesn't agree, but is dragged along anyway and has to participate despite his misgivings.