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  • Abandon Shipping:
    • Sting 26.3 has the Undersiders, Brocton Bay Wards, and Weaver discussing the rumors around Clockblocker's feelings towards Weaver. Clockblocker finds the entire notion annoying and hates that people in-universe ship them. Doesn't help that the whole situation is a Take That! to the audience who shipped the two.
    • Sting 26.6 has another moment where during a shoot-out Weaver kills Aster, presumably to save the girl from a Fate Worse than Death at the hands of the Slaughterhouse Nine, namely Gray Boy. Whatever scarce amounts of friendship Weaver and Golem shared before, this definitely instilled a giant rift between the two. Doesn't help that the following interludes reveal Golem's underlying hatred towards Weaver, which was set up long before this moment.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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    • Taylor. Is she an Anti-Hero who is just trying to make the best possible choices in a Crapsack World that's filled with Jerkass superheroes? Or is she a Well-Intentioned Extremist who considers herself Above Good and Evil by using methods similar to her former bullies for justifying ends similar to Cauldron's? Is there a difference to begin with?
    • Marquis' involvement with Iron Rain, and Jack Slash's assertion that he did not kill her, have lead some readers to speculate that he did not kill Iron Rain, but blamed himself for her death. (Interestingly, Panacea's mother has never been named. Some speculate that Iron Rain was Panacea's mother, and that Marquis blamed himself for her death, possibly at Allfather's behest.)
    • Are the Undersiders decent people who have been forced to become crooks by a harsh world that gave them too few opportunities to legally develop their gifts? Or are they a group of amoral teens who took advantage of their powers for personal gain and now spend their days flouting the law and bullying their mentally handicapped teammate?
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    • Is Rachel/Bitch a complete Jerkass who alienated the other Undersiders with her rude, antisocial behavior and is the unjust recipient of Taylor's friendship? Or is she a mentally handicapped teen who has learned to lash out preemptively to keep her teammates from bullying her, which only prolongs the vicious cycle?
    • Really, the story is filled with this. A common comment on Wildbow's writing is that he rarely ascribes purely negative or purely positive qualities to his characters, making their moral position whatever the reader ascribes to them.
  • Archive Panic: The author's regular schedule of posting seven-to-ten thousand word chapters at least twice a week, frequently thrice, led to this very quickly. On May 25th, 2013, the story was already 1,188,277 words longsix months before the story ended. While the serial nature of the story makes it relatively easy to spread out an Archive Binge over weeks or months, that's still enough words to make a shelf of Doorstoppers.
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  • Author Appeal: Wildbow is a self-admitted sadist, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody.
    Wildbow: I’m a sadist. I admit it. I’ve got a bit of a streak of schadenfreude in me. I enjoy being mean to my characters. But I’m also glad when they rise above whatever I’ve decided to inflict on them, so it tends to balance out, thankfully.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Saint. Any mention of him in the comments is likely to start a long and sometimes heated argument about whether what he did to Dragon was justified.
    • The protagonist Taylor as well. While some would argue her actions were justified, others say those same actions land her solidly in villain territory. In general, everyone agrees that she did not deserve the bullying she endured, but not on how she acts out after triggering.
    • Cauldron. Any debate on their actions and competence is likely to draw close to if not outright ignite Flame War.
  • Broken Base:
    • Taylor's actions in the penultimate chapter. Did they count as bullying or not? If so, were they justified given the threat humanity faced? (And the billions said threat had already slaughtered?) Has Taylor fully transitioned into a monster like those who tormented her, or were her actions a necessary evil against a threat that could be stopped no other way? All of these questions are brought up in-universe in the final chapter.
  • "Common Knowledge": Despite this never being stated in the text, many fans assume that Amy's attraction for Victoria is a result of years of being exposed to her aura. This commonly shows up in fanfics as well, further perpetuating this fanon. The origin of it comes from a commenter first stating this theory and Wildbow replying with a cryptic "I wondered if anyone would pay any attention to that." However, later Words of God have stated that this theory might be jumping to conclusions, and that even if it was true the influence of the aura would be very subtle. There is also the problem of the other Dallon household members: they would have received comparable doses of aura as Amy did, possibly more due to their patrols with Victoria, yet don't show any particular admiration or love towards her beyond those of parental bonds.
  • Complete Monster: Jack Slash is a psychopath obsessed with being remembered throughout history as one of the most wicked human beings to have ever lived. The leader of the Slaughterhouse Nine, a group of superpowered serial killers, Jack uses them to cause death and destruction across the country, regularly wiping out huge cities and their entire populations just for fun. Routinely looking to replace current members of the Nine with stronger individuals, Jack and the Nine subject any possible candidates to horrific "tests" in an attempt to corrupt them into evil, these "tests" ranging from psychological torture to murdering the candidates' friends and family in front of them. Along with massacring hundreds of innocents at a time and carving numbers into them to keep a kill count, Jack targets a hospital and, before murdering all of the staff and sickly patients, has the Nine kill off the entire maternity ward, while threatening a hero's baby sister to keep him in line. Using an army of superpowered puppets as his minions, Jack uses them to inflict horrible And I Must Scream fates on innocents, wipe out dozens of civilians, and plans to send them out into the world with the simple order to kill everything in sight. Even when beaten, Jack uses his secondary power of manipulation to convince Scion to kill billions of people across the multiverse as a final act of villainy. With a pathological lust for notoriety and a sadistic streak a mile long, Jack Slash committed his various atrocities for no reason other than his own amusement, and was more than happy to embrace his position as the catalyst for the end of the world.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: From several angles.
    • Per Alternate Character Interpretation, some readers find that twenty arcs of the main protagonist doing very morally questionable things that she believes are justified simply too much to swallow (and/or her status as The Chew Toy).
    • Toward the latter story arcs (e.g. when a new Endbringer designed to counter what they used to kill Behemoth appears), some readers have fallen into this state on the grounds that humanity is simply too overmatched by the evils that assault it. And this is before Scion starts annihilating everything in its path.
    • There are distressingly few true heroes in the setting, with almost all the rest being people who are at best high in the "hero" scale of Anti-Hero (and can still be pretty lousy human beings, just falling under the In-Universe classification of "hero") and at worst people who get put through the wringer because this setting LOVES No Good Deed Goes Unpunished.
    • Often the pace of the story is such that the characters are never given a chance to breath or relax. This leads to the major characters in life or death struggles every few days with no light relief to break up the near constant angst. This can lead to readers burning out since it never seems like the characters' lives get better in anyway.
  • Don't Shoot the Message:
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Of all the Wards, Weld and Clockblocker receive the most love. The former gained fans from his rare Nice Guy nature in a Crapsack World of Grey and Gray Morality, while the latter is known for his useful power and humorous personality. Their interactions with Taylor Hebert don't hurt, either.
    • The Slaughterhouse 9 and the original 3 Endbringers are the story's iconic villains and tend to overshadow all of the others. Among the Endbringers The Simurgh is generally viewed as the coolest/scariest.
    • Assault and Battery for adding humor to a dark series. It's part of the reason for the He's Just Hiding! below.
    • Dragon. For many readers, she's the AI you'd basically want to have spearheading transhumanism. Her warmth and common sense helped steer Colin correctly down the straight and narrow path towards genuine (and much healthier) character growth, for crying out loud!
  • Fanon: Partly because of the length of Worm, and partly because of many writers not having read the series in the first place, many details about Worm have come into being ex-nihilo. This is compounded by Word of God coming into play years after the fact, and many real details about Worm being buried deeply in the source material.
    • In fanfics, the unwritten rules are almost always referred to as "the unwritten rules", verbatim. Sometimes they're capitalized. No one ever seems to consider a euphemism, or saying something like "nobody does that, because then-"
    • Nobody in canon ever used 'Scion' instead of 'God', as in 'for the love of Scion'.
    • One common element in fics is Sophia getting her just desserts for her bullying of Taylor fairly early on, usually because Taylor's powers prove valuable to the PRT. Also, whoever's responsible for the injustice, usually the principal, also tends to get in trouble.
    • It is surprisingly common in fanfics for Taylor's hair to be described as brown, when in canon it is often stated as black.
    • Amy/Panacea's issues are often blamed solely on Carol's parenting instead of being far more complex and based in part on Amy's own problems. Taking the sequel into account, she may, in fact, be a narcissist as between the two stories she meets or can be argued to several symptoms of NCP with one, self-loathing for failing to live up to impossible standards set based on an unrealistic view f one's abilities, is a defining characteristic of Amy in Worm. The limitations on her powers—that she can't make biomass out of nothing, can't work on non-living tissue, and that she takes time to do what she does—are often ignored in fanfiction which also tends to take some of her feats (Atlas, the Relay Bugs, [[spoiler: Khepri) out of context to claim that she is more powerful than she is, and many people ignore Amy's many negative character traits or excuse them as being Carol's fault.
    • There's some general fanon PHO posters.
      • Tin_Mother is a Dragon sockpuppet admin.
      • SpecificProtagonist is Madison Clements.
      • Confirmed to be FlippinMad in GlowWorm.
      • WingedOne is the Simurgh.
    • It's often assumed that Oliver's power was actually a part of Noelle's, specifically the part that would've kept her from going insane.
    • The use of so-called a specific set of "Master/Stranger Protocols", although something similar is later introduced in Ward.
    • Taylor eats/cooks Lasagna at some point in the series.
    • The Protectorate ENE HQ is called "The Rig."
    • Amy's attraction towards Victoria is a result of the latter's aura.
    • There are SpaceBattle forum threads dedicated to listing common mistakes in fanfic.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Almost any chapter with both Taylor (Skitter) and Dennis (Clockblocker) will have at least one, and probably several, comments to the effect that they should hook up.
      • Lampshaded, post-Time Skip Clockblocker complains that all the rumors about him having a crush on Weaver have put a major damper on his career.
    • In fanfics, Amy/Taylor is a very popular pairing, despite their apparent Incompatible Orientation.
  • Friendly Fandoms: While drastically different in tone, a number of Worm fans are also fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, the main draw between them being the creative powers and the analytical fights that are decided by exploiting the opponents' weaknesses rather than raw power. The power of the sequel's protagonist has also been compared to a stand.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Knowing what is going to happen to the two sisters makes Glory Girl's interlude much tougher/sadder to read.
    • The reveal about just what Noelle can do changes how you read The Extermination Arc and Dinah's Interlude. Theoretically, the world's end almost started right there!
    • In Drone 23.5 Regent jokes that Taylor's lovey-dovey speech to the Undersiders before fighting Behemoth will get one of them killed since she just finished "tying up loose ends", to which Tattletale points out according to the trope it'd be her own death she's foreshadowing and not theirs. Don't think this is a time Regent's happy he proved Tattletale wrong.
    • Apparently, something unspeakable happened to Flint, Michigan.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Some fans reactions to the news of Battery’s death in the Slaughterhouse Nine Arc. Also, nearly everyone's reaction to Clockblocker's apparent disappearance counts as this. Though the latter character did survive. Sort of.
  • Hype Backlash: Fans of Worm praise it effusively, often drawing comparisons between other superhero works (such as Marvel) and portraying Worm as far and away the better of the two. Many recommend it as a must-read work that skillfully handles themes of trauma, racism, and government corruption, among others, praising the characters as more realistic and likable than any they've encountered in other works. A number of these readers have not found Worm lived up to the hype (especially in its handling of social issues) and some may have critiqued it more harshly than they might have had they not been told it was the greatest work of fiction since Harry Potter.
  • I Am Not Shazam: The title Worm seems to refer to Taylor/Skitter's abilities to control bugs, supported by a minor villain even referring to her as "the worm" at one point in the narrative. In actuality, the 'Worms' refers to the reality-spanning entities (who create/use wormholes hence the name) that are the source of parahuman abilities... and are Omnicidal Maniacs to boot.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The Slaughterhouse Nine killed at least a couple hundred people when they hit Brockton Bay, and trying to calculate how many people they've killed over their 24-year-plus career produces a body count in the high tens of thousands. Their clones probably took out a couple thousand civilians as well.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Taylor Hebert, easily. Tattletale, Rachel, Grue, Clockblocker, Weld, Panacea, and Golem are all contenders for her.
  • Les Yay: Bitch sleeps cuddled up with one of her female minions, there are also several points in the story where Taylor suspects Bitch is about to kiss her.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page here.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Skitter facts.
    • The sniper in Coil's employ that manages to shoot Oni Lee while having a broken leg has gained quite a memetic following. Any Badass Normal that appears both in Worm and its sequel will have the fans jokingly speculating about them being Coil's sniper in disguise.
    • The Dragon's Teeth Officer that foams Jack Slash also gets the treatment, but to a lesser degree than Coil's sniper. Of course, some fans will insist that the two are one and the same...
  • Narm:
    • A brief example: Scion's Villainous Breakdown has the comical image of him curled up in the fetal position and spinning around in the air with an angry look on his face.
    • Bonesaw's S9 interlude also has a case of this. It abruptly changes from vast swathes of Body Horror to the dramatic reveal that Panacea has a lesbian crush on her sister. The situation makes complete sense in-story, and it's understandable that the characters would be squicked out about it, but its sheer absurdity makes it seem like something out of a bad hentai. The fact that Bonesaw somehow worked this into her evil plan only makes things sillier.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Many examples.
  • Nightmare Retardant: At first, you might laugh at Nilbog's name. Then you read Emily's interlude.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • Bonesaw's miasma makes it so you can’t tell who is an ally or who is a member of the 9.
    • Simurgh is this In-Universe, quite literally.
  • Ron the Death Eater: While Armsmaster does have No Social Skills to the point of being abrasive and blunt, a lot of less well-written fanfics like to turn him outright antagonistic.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Greg, one of Taylor's classmates from Winslow High.
    • All of the new Endbringers that showed up after New Delhi are generally viewed as much lamer than the original three. This is because they didn't get enough screen-time to make an impression on anyone. Compare Tohu and Bohu being introduced and then largely forgotten about within a single chapter to Leviathan getting an entire arc to himself.
  • Tough Act to Follow: While both Pact and Twig have their followings, neither seems to have achieved the amount of breakout popularity Worm has.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Shadow Stalker was a cold, heartless bully as well as a brutal and occasionally murderous vigilante—but the way Regent not only systematically tears down her life, but essentially forces her to do it comes off as Disproportionate Retribution to some readers. Because really, leaving a high school bully—even one of her caliber—with a life of homelessness, suicide, or imprisonment as her only options is, to some readers, too harsh to be considered true justice.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Although the bullying Taylor endures is awful, some readers find her so judgmental toward her teachers and fellow students—including those who do nothing to her—that they find it difficult to truly sympathize with her.
    • The Undersiders are meant to be a surrogate family to Taylor, a group of True Companions who, despite their flaws and paths in life, give her the unconditional friendship she deserves. Some readers, however, found most of them too morally bankrupt to be likable.
  • The Woobie:
    • Garotte. A Case-53 whose tentacles instinctively want to strangle any stressor. Points to trying to reach out through the internet to find a friend.
      • This is a lot less true for the sequel. At the start of Ward she's able to live a relatively normal life with the help of a full-body prosthetic and is in a happy relationship, although she's obviously still dealing with some mental and physical issues.
    • Bitch. Decidedly the Jerkass subclass: she's angry, hostile, anti-social, whatever you want to call it ... but only because she got screwed over by her power and she never had a real friend in her life. To make matters worse, she's explicitly established as having a dog-like mindset. In Real Life, dogs who are abused become aggressive and more likely to attack without provocation; so the fact that the other Undersiders routinely antagonize her and make it clear they don't want her around almost certainly contributes to her antisocial behavior, which makes the other Undersiders treat her worse, which makes her more aggressive and antisocial....
    • WagTheDog. We knew from Interlude 19 (Donation Bonus #2) that she really wanted to become a minion to Bitch, but when we see her in 21.6, the way she lights up whenever she gets praise from Rachel and the way she sleeps curled up with Rachel ... she clearly came from some terribly-dysfunctional place.
    • Taylor herself gets this on occasion when life decides to screw her over. She's of the Iron subclass, but it's hard not to feel really, really bad for her past and the general hell she goes through, combined with her self-loathing. Even some of the people who ascribe to the Alternate Character Interpretation and say she's become a bullying villain herself at the end of the story still find her sympathetic, because she didn't entirely have a choice in what she became.
    • By far the worst is Panacea. Her problems literally started almost when she was born, being the daughter of supervillain and Affably Evil drug lord Marquis. This was not an issue, Marquis being literally the most caring and psychologically healthy figure in her life. It really started when New Wave, out of moral obligation after sending Marquis to the Birdcage (more because of the three strikes law than being a true monster like everyone else in there), but Photon Mom, in her infinite wisdom, gave her over to Brandish (who openly admitted to the fact that she wasn't an ideal candidate at all due to the coincidental resemblance Panacea has to the cause of own trigger event). Cut to the present, and Brandish's inability to foster a child have resulted in her daughter becoming a self-loathing, overworked, and embittered mess terrified of her own (admittedly nuclear-level) power. And that's not even getting into the romantic affection for her older sister, which is about 40% of her self-loathing right there. And it never gets better, unlike everyone else under this trope.
      • Doesn't get better if you subscribe to the theory that her mother might be Iron Rain, as put forth further up on this page.
    • Canary is probably the one inmate of the Birdcage who least deserves to be there, having been put there through a sham of a trial. Even Dragon recognizes this.
    • Dinah, in addition to being a child with an extremely accurate precognitive power that screws with her head so badly she's barely functional without drugs, spends about half the story kidnapped by a supervillain who wants to exploit her and only refers to her as "pet". She suppresses her physical revulsion for his gestures of possessive "affection" because she can see exactly how her situation will get worse if he gets irritated with her, and he keeps her under control with the threat to cut off her drug supply, where her ability to see all possible futures means that she gets to experience weeks' worth of withdrawal every second. On top of all this, despite desperately wanting to go home (and knowing exactly how low her chances of this are), she is convinced her family hates and fears her, and is almost more terrified of facing them again than she is of Coil. The fact that she turns out to be wrong about her family, and gets over her drug addiction after being returned home, does not solve the problems she still has with her power, and the knowledge it gives her of the terrible possibilities in the futures of people she cares about.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • The Slaughterhouse Nine under Jack Slash likes to recruit and/or create these. Though many of them have no such excuse or cross the Moral Event Horizon shortly afterwards.
      • The main one is Bonesaw/Riley: the revelation how the Nine broke her sanity after her trigger event makes her sympathetic even after all the horrible things she did in Arcs 11-14 and Defiant's interlude; and she's the one member of the Nine who could literally destroy the world (or at least its entire population) using her power. The only reason she hasn't ever created an airborne, 100% lethal pandemic is that Jack feels it wouldn't be as much fun as the Nine's usual M.O.
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