Alternative Character Interpretation/Comic Books

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Comic Books

  • Comic book characters in general are subject to this since they tend to go through multiple writers over the years and, in the case of a character that has been around at least a decade, may need to be updated to occupy the same relative position against new cultural norms or alternately they aren't updated and what was once a trendy character becomes a character with a distinctive set of affectations.
    • An example of the latter would be Jimmy Olsen wearing a sweater vest and a bowtie. At one point this made him normal and a conformist. At times the look has been dropped to make Jimmy current but then its brought back to make him look like a cornball or (more recently) an ironic hipster (as seen in All-Star Superman).
  • Johnny the Homicidal Maniac stomps on this frequently, so much so that the eponymous character doesn't even know the answer himself. Is he the last thin line between the shitty Crapsack World he hates and Eldritch Abominations behind his blood-spattered walls, or is he just an overdramatic artist prone to schizophrenic fugue states? Or is Johnny just a figment of Squee's imagination, a product of his obviously neglected childhood?
  • Batman has been subject to numerous alternate Canon interpretations. Some depict him as a noble (if, depending on the interpreter, not particularly well-adjusted) crusader against crime; others make him a borderline psychopath barely removed from the lunatics he spends his life fighting. His relationship with Robin has also come under examination; debates about his sexuality rage wildly. There are tons of easy targets for jokes about that last part.
    • The various interpretations of Batman can be easily summed up with this image merging Batman with Dungeons & Dragons Character Alignment.
    • This is strongly lampshaded in short story "Viewpoint", where newspaper publisher hires bunch of writers to give him their own interpretations of Batman in hope to make their common element - truth about Batman - more clear. He's very disappointed to find out that their visions have nothing in common.
    • This is also played with in Neil Gaiman's Whatever Happened With The Caped Crusader in which different characters tells stories that shows their interpretations of Batman.
  • Speaking of Batman, there's his main enemy, The Joker. Though he started off dark and creepy, he spent most of the '40s, '50s, and '60s as a mostly harmless though still lawbreaking jester. Then, after Batman was remade into the dark and brooding hero he was originally, the Joker became a homicidal maniac once more; then we get to "The Killing Joke," in which he shoots Commissioner Gordon's daughter (who was Bat-Girl) through the spine, and then kidnaps and tortures Gordon more or less for the hell of it. And then there was "Death in the Family" and countless other stories in which the Joker gets crazier as time goes on. Even in the movies (not counting The Movie of the 1966 series), he started as a creepy maniac former gangster played by well known creepy maniac Jack Nicholson -- but in The Dark Knight, he was an even creepier and possibly not quite insane nihilist.
    • Though he's traditionally portrayed as Chaos Personified, Grant Morrison's recent Batman & Robin run has suggested that, in fact, the opposite is true: as Axe Crazy as he is, he's been able to survive confrontations with Batman for so long because he's Crazy Prepared and has a plan for everything. The Monster Clown persona is just a facade that lets him channel his homicidal urges. At heart, he's not a Monster Clown....he's just a Complete Monster.
    • Does the Joker break the fourth wall for comedic effect at the whim of the writers, or is it his suggested "super sanity" that gives him awareness that he's in a comic book?
      • If he DOES know he's in a comic book, then maybe his "complete monster" behavior is hand-waved in his own mind because his victims AREN'T ACTUALLLY PEOPLE. Maybe the only reason he keeps committing crimes and going up against Batman is because he doesn't want the comics to end. Because then it would be like he ceased to exist. And he doesn't want to die.
    • And does he believe in the nihilist sayings he prattles on about every so often, or are they all meaningless words to him, another part of the joke intended solely to screw with the minds of the sane?
    • Batman: Black And White - Case Study by Paul Dini puts forth a particularly brilliant alternative; the Joker is completely sane. Back before the chemical vat incident, he was a crime boss who played his anonymity to the hilt in order to do whatever he wanted. Afterward, he knew that was no longer possible, so he created the "Clown Prince Of Crime" persona of Obfuscating Insanity solely so he would be sent to Arkham whenever he was caught - he purposefully invented Joker Immunity! The doctors are ecstatic when they discover an old report claiming this - and then orderlies drag Harley Quinn past, and she comments that she wrote that report before she started counseling the Joker. The Joker drove Quinn insane to invalidate her findings once he realized that she had figured out his scheme. And he left the report where it would be found just so he could Yank the Dog's Chain.
    • Two-Face. Tradition states that the two halves of his face represent his split personality. Normally, they have the unscarred side represent Harvey Dent and the scarred side represent Two-Face; they give us scenes where he have a perfectly reasonable dialogue shown only in unscarred profile, only to flip out in ultraviolence shot entirely from his scarred side. But some writers claim the opposite is true: the unscarred side is Two-Face, the monster with a face of an angel. The scarred side represent Harvey Dent, the wounded hero who lies crushed beneath.
    • Moreover, prior to the 1980s Two-Face was not portrayed as a man with multiple personalities, just as someone who rejected moral responsibility and let random chance in the form of his coin make his choices for him. The multiple personalities first showed up when he got a new Post-Crisis origin. The idea of Dent having two personalities caught on so well it's completely erased the character's first 40 years. Ironically, his appearance in The Dark Knight caused some protest when it was closer to his original portrayal.
  • The Punisher. Older comics tend to portray him as being just a jaded, cynical man who wants to make absolutely, positively sure that the criminals he stops aren't going to wind up in a Cardboard Prison to break out again and commit crimes like the one that killed his family. Some newer interpretations paint him closer to a Serial Killer who's using the death of his family as an excuse to vent his bloodlust; these see his actions as more like bloody murder than vigilantism. The second interpretation greatly pleases some fans and infuriates others to no end.
    • He could be both. It's been over 30 years (which is about 7 years in Comic Book Time) since his family was killed. He might have been just cynical back then; but after so long, he's bound to be a little crazy.
    • The Punisher presents a special problem: The arguments for his being in the moral right (killing some people to save many) require him to live in a world where his logic is true. Unfortunately, he lives in a world where other ways of solving things constantly show up. Naturally, he seems a little crazy.
      • Case in point -- he's portrayed as a lunatic more commonly when he's co-starring with other heroes like Daredevil. In his own book, he's shown in a more positive light.
      • His more extreme stories in "Punisher Max" are not canonical with the main Marvel Universe.
    • Even writers started to pick ups sides in this one - Greg Rucka has repeatedly stated that he dislikes interpretation of Frank as crazy because somebody not sane in his situation would have break down long time ago.
  • Depending on who you ask, Tintin is either a good reporter who gets into sticky situations... Or a heartless, greedy, selfish, racist psychopath who couldn't care less about anyone else except those whom he sees as friends. He once went nearer a petrol truck so that the trail of gas (which was flaming because he pissed off the guy he stole it from) would blow the truck up instead of him. (It didn't work.)
  • As espoused by Black Mage here, Lex Luthor of Superman fame is a hero striving to show the human race that it has some worth when set against the impossible, unreachable ideal that is Superman.
    • The canonical Luthor did claim that as his motive at least once.
    • Luthor likes to believe it, but it's not true. Superman spent the entire one-year timeskip after Infinite Crisis depowered, missing, and presumed dead (as far as Luthor could possibly know). What did Luthor do now that he was finally in a world without Superman? He crossed the Moral Event Horizon faster. Superman even Lampshaded it.
      • Luthor would argue that Superman 'ruined' him and hence caused this to happen; if there had never been a Superman, THEN the world would be better. Anyone with basic psychology knows the truth: Luthor doesn't want the world and humanity to be better or to believe they have worth. Luthor wants the world to worship HIM like it's 'SUPPOSED' to. No matter what some might say, Luthor is a villain to the core.
      • You absolutely sure? Perhaps he's a good man at heart with deep insecurities behind his ego that are poked awake by Superman's presence, as some writers have written him to be. This page is called "Alternate Character Interpretations" for a reason.
        • That's not exactly a defense. If the mere presence of one man can make you so insecure that you're willing to enact convoluted plans once a month that could kill thousands if not millions of people just to destroy this one person making you insecure, you're not really what I'd call a "good man at heart". A truly good man would be willing to let someone else share or even hog the spotlight if it allowed him to, y'know, do good. I don't remember Mother Theresa trying to kill millions of people with a doomsday machine because Michael Jackson got more media attention than she did.
    • Dr. Luthor is NOT a true villain or would-be dictator, but a secular humanist whose main problem with Superman is that he buys into the idea set forth by Elliot S! Maggin in his seminal (but inaccurate) Bronze Age story "Must There Be a Superman", which implies that Superman is holding back social growth on Earth because people rely on him too much instead of human innovation or, indeed, common sense. The rise of metahumans that would lead to the Legion of Super-Heroes' foundation ultimately proves Luthor wrong, showing that Superman does indeed inspire people more than make them rely on him, but Luthor would have no way of knowing that. He knows Superman means well. He knows that Superman is his only Worthy Opponent. But the really important thing is that Superman is, from Luthor's perspective, holding humanity back from it's grandest destiny, and he wants that nonsense to stop. His only, true, fatal flaw, the one that makes him seem more villainous than heroic, is that he's so arrogant he can't admit he's wrong even when other super-heroes emerge and it begins to become apparent. After all, how could the greatest human being in history possibly be wrong? When Superman finally is defeated in disgrace and everyone acknowledges that Luthor was right, he will GLADLY become ruler of the world- but only because they asked so nicely.
    • There IS canonical evidence to support that (sort of) - in Red Son, an alternate future in which Supes' pod landed in the USSR, and he and Lex duke it out intercontinentally. When Superman finally leaves Earth, Lex drops his obsession with Superman and becomes Earth's greatest leader.
      • The difference between Red Son and the regular DCU (aside from the Bat-Ushanka) is that, when Superman left Earth in Red Son, it was because of Lex's actions. Superman being depowered for the year covered in 52 had nothing to do with Lex.
      • Plus Red Son was a big case of a writer Running the Asylum.
      • Even if Elseworlds stories weren't, y'know, non-canon by definition, the Red Son Superman was a completely different character than the main version. The Superman in Red Son was a Communist dictator (albeit a vaguely benevolent one) who wanted to take over the world, a motivation traditionally ascribed to supervillains. The Lex Luthor of Red Son was essentially fighting to protect his country from Soviet domination.
      • His case is spoiled because, instead of competing with Superman to see who can do more good for humanity, he seems determined to destroy Superman regardless of the cost to himself or anyone else.
    • Lex Luthor is also a futurist who believes in the advancement of mankind no matter what the cost, sometimes resulting in him doing TRULY horrifying stuff for the "greater good." Nowhere is this more evident than in Lex Luthor: Man Of Steel, quite possibly the greatest treatment of the character.
    • Sometimes even Superman seems to believe this interpretation, Depending on the Writer; he's urged Luthor to forget about trying to kill him and use his considerable talent to aid mankind instead.
      • Gloriously played with by Grant Morrison in All-Star Superman: Superman visits Lex in prison and issues him the above challenge, more or less word for word. What does Lex do? He walks up to the glass wall separating the two of them, spits on the glass and hands the Man of Steel a first-honors Death Glare. Woof.
    • In one (no longer canonical) story, Luthor strangled a woman to death with his bare hands because she threatened to expose him. Not much room for interpretation there.
      • In another story he killed a woman he hired to teach him martial arts because she had the temerity to beat him during a sparring match. And he used his Lex Corp resources to blame the murder on a janitor who was an ex-con.
      • The debate was, presumably intentionally, Settled Forever (Was it?) in Action Comics #900 when Lex Luthor had gained transcendental power and loomed over the world as a god, with Superman completely at his mercy. He discovered it was within his ability to make everybody in the universe happy at last, putting an end to pain, evil, death and horror for good - to create a paradise, forever. There was a catch: due to the nature of the power, he would lose it if he used it for evil. Superman pleaded with him to choose good - but he could not put the good of the universe over his hatred and lost everything.
      • Two things: 1) at least in Post-Crisis continuity, Lex was already a Corrupt Corporate Executive before Superman first public appearance; 2) in a recent Superboy story, Lex cured his (Lex') ill sister to prove he could, but made her ill again. A man who cures his sister just to sadistically remove the cure soon after isn't and never was a hero.
    • Speaking of Superman's Rogues Gallery, consider Mr Mxyzptlk. Is he merely a Jerkass Reality Warper who tests the Man of Steel's patience, or a more benevolent Trickster encouraging Superman to use his brain and to think and use his powers in unconventional ways? He may well be a big Superman fan who loves seeing what he can do!
      • Mr Mxyzptlk in Alan Moore's What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow implies that he is an Eldritch Abomination -- which is fitting for a person from the fifth dimension.
      • The above interpretation was not based on any canonical stuff, just the author giving a shocking twist to his story.
    • Another interpretation for Mxyzptlk's motives is that he's trying to keep Supes from taking everything so seriously.
    • Superman is typically portrayed as an eager hero, happy to save everyone else. Five For Fighting's song about him, also called "Superman," portrays him as "a man in a silly red sheet" who's aware that he's not as special or heroic as everyone else thinks he is, and who struggles under the pressure of being the person everyone looks up to.
      • Is Clark Kent an exaggerated disguise Superman takes to fake everyone out? Or is Superman a projection of Clark's desire to help others? Or, does Kal-El struggle to balance the nerdy reporter with the macho crimefighter?
  • What is the nature of Scrooge McDuck's infamous "between the legs" line in The Prisoner of White Agony Creek?
  • Watchmen: Are the masks just self-gratifying vigilantes, or misunderstood heroes who were then prosecuted for keeping the population safe? Or some of each? That is not even starting on Rorschach... or the Comedian...
    • Ozymandias. Interpretations of him vary from a mass-murdering psychopath to the savior of the world and its best hope for the future. These depend largely on whether the person interpreting believes his plan would work.
    • Rorschach . A psychopathic, alienated, misogynistic killer? Or an intelligent, uncompromising man trying to save humanity from evil and corruption and bring loyalty and morality back into the world?
    • A distinctly possible answer to both questions is 'all of the above'. Strictly speaking, none of the character interpretations above are mutually exclusive (even if the overlap between 'psychopathic killer' and 'honestly trying to save the world' is a rather narrow slice on the Venn diagram). It's part of the horror of the setting that the situations are such that the people best equipped to handle them are insane.
  • Some people believe that Death is a bitch. Sure, she is supposed to be kind, but there are hints of wanton cruelty and schadenfreude underneath it. Particularly striking is the scene in Endless Nights where she casually strolls through a time-frozen party, telling everyone how they really died and watching them do so, including the children. Sure, it may have been an Homage to The Masque of the Red Death; but it did seem unnecessarily vindictive to do it in that way, especially considering her expression the whole time.
    • This was from the distant past. All of the Endless' characterizations have moved on since then. How far in the past? Back then, Dream still liked Desire, the first Despair was still alive, and Delirium was still Delight. It's possible that Death hadn't started her "one day as mortal a century" yet, either, which would explain why she was acting the way she did.
    • Death doesn't decide when people die or how. She just states the fact to people who are trying to deny it and takes pleasure for a frustrating job finally getting done. Also, in this world, death is not the end.
    • The party took place long, long after she changed her ways. And they were dead already. They would have died anyway by the time she finally got in to take them.
    • Neil Gaiman himself has said that there's a perfectly valid story to be told about how Dream was an insufferable jerk and Desire's actions were entirely justified. It's just not the one he told.
  • The Trust from One Hundred Bullets can be regarded as inadvertent heroes. Sure, they've controlled all the crime in the country since before it was founded. But, by keeping the kingdoms of Europe from dividing America up into lots of tiny territories, they have made America remarkably free of war compared to Europe, and they have allowed it to act as the Arsenal of Democracy in both World Wars. True, they only did that great thing because a united America is easier to exploit. But in the long run, the freedom from the devastation of war probably more than makes up for all the stuff they've stolen.
  • Superboy Prime: An Omnicidal Maniac who destroys anything he doesn't like, or a kid who's been given incredible power and thrust into a situation he was in no way ready to handle? Or a deliberate parody designed to screw with the fans heads with lines like "I'll kill you to death!" Or maybe he's just dumb?
    • Fanwank personified?
    • Incidentally, are his lines really that stupid? Could you do better after having the equivalent of a nuke explode in your face? Or would you also scream the first thing that came to your mind, even if it made no sense?
    • Super-Boy Prime is us. That's all. People on all of the other earths are just different from people on Earth-Prime. When someone on New Earth or somewhere gets random superpowers, they run around, fight evil, and make more or less the right decisions for the big picture. Because of their superpowers, they are essentially good people. There are another caste, supervillians, that have excuses such as Well-Intentioned Extremist or insanity. Whatever their reason, they are evil. Permanent Heel Face Turns are uncommon. But what happens when you give a normal, Earth Prime kid the powers of a god? Consult your psychology textbook: He doesn't know what to do with himself. He has problems, he makes stupid decisions thinking they're the right ones, and he says random things in the middle of a fight. Other superheroes have no problem making big flowery speeches beating somebody up. Other superheroes will be able to make the right decision. Supervillians will always know what they want. But Superboy Prime? He just wants to go home.
    • Another way of looking at Superboy-Prime: He grew up in a world where all these people were fictional characters. Deep down, he still doesn't see them as real. If he kills them all and then creates a world where he didn't, he hasn't really killed anyone, any more than Geoff Johns has. To him, the whole thing is no different from playing Grand Theft Auto, he's not killing anyone because nobody's really alive. And so long as nobody's getting hurt, isn't it much more fun to play the villain than the hero? After all, Evil Is Cool.
    • Maybe he never killed anyone. No really, In the real world (Earth-Prime) its been implied that the DC team controls EVERYTHING! So who's to say that they couldn't just write everything Superboy's done away? If they wanted to, they could simply teleport him back here, bring back everyone he killed and reset the mind of all the DC characters that hate him. Prime's not even the real threat to DC, its the Writers
      • In fact several of the people he's killed have come back since then. Given that he's seen the do that time and again from his prison, it's possible he's at least subconsciously aware none of his victims will stay dead forever.
  • Canon Example: Moon Knight. Obsessive Abraham Van Helsing style werewolf hunter, Costumed vigilante, Batman parody, agent of a spirit of vengeance, super hero, mercenary looking for redemption, just a puppet of khonshu, or schizophrenic sadist?
  • The League of Ramona's Evil Ex-Boyfriends in Scott Pilgrim could be just a group therapy comprising emotionally destroyed people who loved Ramona Flowers. She broke all their hearts in the worst ways possible, and she didn't care how messed up they became. Gideon could be half evil and half broken; the rest just want to keep Ramona from doing it all over again and are messed up in thinking that killing her current beau, Scott, will break the cycle.
    • Done on purpose for the film adaptation, where if it was about Stephan and his band trying to make it big but Scott accidentally screws up by being strung on Ramona and killing the guy who gave them their big break in the music industry.
  • Doom from Marvel Universe has been portrayed as anything from a noble villain to a Complete Monster, depending on who was writing the story at the time.
  • Magneto: A guy who wants to take over the world because he can? A Holocaust survivor trying to protect his race? A mass murdering drug addict barely understanding what he does? An ironic echo of what he hates most? That's not even a full list of canonical interpretations.
  • Apocalypse: A mutant tyrant that has no desire but to kill everyone he deems inferior to him? A misguided man with incredible powers and a broken heart still using a creed that should've died out 5,000 years ago? A villain who wants to destroy society so that it can start over with strong leadership so that they can avert the real Apocalypse together?
    • Most likely the first one.
  • Jesse Custer and the rest of his crew. The morality of almost everything he does through most of the story is predicated on exactly one thing -- God must be punished for "deserting" Heaven and Earth by going AWOL. We are never given a straight answer about why this deserves punishment. But let's all get behind the drunk Texan and the unstoppable killing machine he turns loose on God Himself.
    • Punishing God for deserting his people is just the initial motivation for Jesse. Later on he finds out God is a Manipulative Bastard, who has screwed with his life, with the life of The Saint of Killers (while he was still a mortal), and probably countless others. The Saint of Killers certainly has a valid reason to hate God, which is why he ends up killing him.
  • Deadpool: a Chaotic Neutral Heroic Comedic Sociopath who tries to be a better person? Or a Chaotic Evil Villain Protagonist and Complete Monster who doesn't try to change anything about himself?
    • Deadpool may be emoting the three freudian archetypes of the mind; Superego, Ego and ID. His white caption box is the most sensible one, and thus the Superego. The more out of touch yellow caption box is Ego, a less sensible one. His chaotic, random persona word balloons and occasional change to his POV are the ID, the no before or after thought.
    • Or maybye, as Uncanny X-Force writer Rick Remender suggest, Wade is a Sad Clown who just wants to be loved?
      • This theory is backed up by one story where Deadpool decides to kill off his entire fanbase so his comic can end and he can just die.
  • Spider-Man: Battle-hardened self-taught warrior using a combination of wit, intelligence, strength, and bitter experience to become a dangerous foe? Or young, inexperienced, naive newbie who can't keep his mouth shut? Even the writers aren't sure.
  • Is Cyclops just a wuss who's occupying space until Wolverine can save the day, or is he the Marvel Comics equivalent of Batman with Eye Beams? Is his behavior since Joss Whedon's run a case of finally getting rid of Badass Decay and living up the the reputation of leader he was supposed to be or did he simply Took a Level in Jerkass?
  • When Colossus took the lethal Legacy Virus antidote that would kill its host body while releasing a cure into the atmosphere, thus curing anyone with the Legacy virus anywhere in the world, was it a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world? Or, given that he had lost his family and seen his former girlfriend move on with her life, was it a suicide gussied up to look noble?
    • And now, after Colossus had become new Juggernaut, new alternate interpretation surfaced - that he has a self-destructive messiah complex that forces him to always bear all the pain and suffering there is to bear.
  • Fantastic Four
    • Is Reed Richards really such an arrogant, aloof guy. Or is he so superintelligent that he can't relate to other people. Or is he overcompensating for the guilt he still feels over getting his family transformed into freaks. Or, as suggested by Grant Morrison, does he have Asperger's syndrome?
    • Victor Von Doom: Misunderstood visionary with a fatal flaw? Deeply insecure man driven by a troubled childhood and a literal hellish experience? Honorable but ultimately power-hungry pragmatist? Or just a colossal dick?
  • Terra. A sociopathic Complete Monster who could not be helped, or a broken little girl who got mixed up with the wrong people and let her emotions get the better of her? Did she truly think the Teen Titans were her friends, even a little bit? Did she have feelings for Garfield? Terra 2, and her Black Lantern version, seems to have supported the alternate views. Also, was she hoisted by her own petard by accident, or did she commit suicide with the intention of doing so? Was she a Complete Monster at heart, or did she just hate the hypocritical "goody two-shoes" nature of the Titans? Was her death fueled by drugs, contaminated drinking water, or was it natural?
    • This is also another instance where the ambiguity only came later. Terra's evilness was the whole point of her character, and the narration during her death says, in no uncertain terms, that no one taught her to hate but herself.
  • Irredeemable and Incorruptible are full of this:
    • Plutonian - is he really capable to become Complete Monster he potrays himself as? Narcissistic or just desperately wanting to be loved? Sad, lonely man who never experienced anything good in his life or Psychopathic Manchild? Does he simply cannot forgive himself what he considers to be his greatest failure, is fed up with people and their needy, ungrateful attitude or just frustrated that things doesn't work like in comics books? This guy is so messed up that, to some extend, all interpretations are true.
    • Max Damage - Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds who always just wanted to have a normal life or Complete Monster with poor Freudian Excuse? Did his Heel Face Turn was motivated by cold calculations, caused by shock of witnessing Plutonian slaughtering innocent people or both? Is he really geniquely happy as a superhero or is understanding what it means beyond him? What is the nature his relationship with Jailbait - purerly sexual or love?
      • Given that Max goes well out of his way to keep Jailbait around even during the period of time when he decided that his 'heroic' self should not be having sex with an underaged girl, he clearly does have some genuine affection for her other than the merely physical.
    • Survivor - is his Jerkass attitude a way he always wanted to act, but couldn't, because somebody had to take care of his reckless brother or is he trying to act like his brother, hoping to win Kadian's heart?
    • Quibit - last idealist trying to find the way to stop Plutonian without killing him, deluding himself Plutonian can be redeemed, just incapable of breaking his technical pacifism and kill him or in love with him?

Newspaper Comics

  • The author's viewpoint in For Better or For Worse is that Therese is a cold, calculating shrew with severe and unreasonable jealousy problems who, despite Anthony's being a loving and supportive spouse, distanced herself from him and their child, cheated on him, and cruelly divorced him. But it's possible to make a solid case that Anthony was manipulative and overbearing, pushing Therese towards things she didn't want (a house in the suburbs, a baby) and being a whiny little bitch when she insisted on doing what she'd planned to do, such as go back to work after Francoise was born. There's textual evidence to support the thesis that Therese's "distance" was postpartum depression which Anthony did nothing about. Additionally, Anthony was emotionally unfaithful to Therese from the get-go, pining after his ex-girlfriend Liz for his entire marriage. Anthony and Liz's wedding occurs at the end of the strip's run and would seem to justify Therese's jealousy.
    • Word of God is that childless career women are cold, selfish, self-centered wastes of space and that the only women who matter are full-time wives and mothers. The character of Connie (Lawrence's mother) was originally created to show this, but the author soon saw her in a sympathetic way and abandoned her plan - only to revive it with evil, evil Therese. Therese may also be evil because she is French-Canadian and attractive.
    • Similarly, Anthony is seen by other characters as steadfast, loyal, and unfailingly devoted to Elizabeth. Since he maintained that loyalty and devotion to Elizabeth throughout his engagement and marriage to Therese, those traits aren't quite as admirable as they sound.
    • Is Elly Patterson a long-suffering mother who never receives due praise for holding her home and family together, or does she deliberately make things more difficult for herself because she has a martyr complex? Are her children completely uncontrollable brats, or is she too self-absorbed and caught up in self-pity to tend to their emotional needs? Is she a complete Control Freak, a pillar of negativity and hatred imposing her twisted vision of what's 'good, true and right' on everyone around her? Or is she the Only Sane Man and a true gift to her community? Did she raise her family well, or cause them to turn out as nasty and self-centered as she? Sympathetic Sue, or Villain Protagonist?
    • April Patterson: bratty teen, or remarkably well-behaved girl whose biggest sin is being too young to move out when her parents want to retire? Also, some blame her for Farley's death by drowning when she fell into the flooded creek. Others blame her parents for being almost criminally negligent, leaving a four-year-old unattended while they chatted with friends about their recent vacation. One could call her the Only Sane Man because she was the only one who seemed to think that Anthony and Liz were being unfaithful.
    • Is Michael a delicate genius, or a spoiled brat who uses his work as an excuse to avoid any contact with his children? Is he in love with his friend Weed? Did Deanna make a mistake with her contraceptives, or did she do it deliberately to keep Michael from going on a trip?
    • As you can see, the Hatedom has taken this trope and run with it, inventing various interpretations of all the different characters. For instance, one Fanon theory claims that Elizabeth was constantly making Deanna refit the wedding dress because she was trying to hide a baby bump.
  • Garfield Minus Garfield depicts Jon Arbuckle as "an isolated young everyman [fighting] a losing battle against loneliness and depression in a quiet American suburb," with Garfield the cat being little more than a depressing hallucination. Oddly, Jim Davis, the series creator, seems to support a variation of the interpretation; he's stated in interviews that Garfield cannot speak and Jon cannot read his cat's thoughts.
  • Marmaduke is an asshole. Or is he just a big dog that was not properly trained by his owners?
    • More recently, the same guy decided that Marmaduke is actually an avenging angel sent by an angry god to punish the family for their sins. Oh, and the owner guy with the moustache doesn't just look like Hitler...
  • Calvin and Hobbes has plenty of food for thought, especially in the nature of Hobbes, who appears as a Funny Animal to Calvin and a stuffed tiger to everyone else. But the Toy Ship of Calvin and Susie becomes interesting when you consider that Susie seems to like Hobbes more. Inversely, Hobbes frequently shows interest in Susie, which Calvin attempts to rebuff. Are we looking at some kind of projection, or a weird Love Triangle?
    • This makes the Alternate Character Interpretation of Fight Club more interesting...
    • That could be a sign that Susie was more attracted to Calvin's nice side that he displays through Hobbes, rather than the asshole he fronts himself as.
    • Cartoonist Bill Watterson has supported the ambiguity of Hobbes' existence by occasionally making strips which are difficult, but not quite impossible, to explain if Hobbes was not an independent and physical entity, by having him do such things as cut Calvin's hair, help him climb trees, and on one famous occasion, tie him to a chair. A popular third take on this paradox is the theory that Calvin is a Reality Warper, and that the things he imagines really do happen, as long as no one else is looking.
    • Calvin's general obliviousness to the world around him, intricate, vivid fantasies and general inability to comprehend the motivations of other people are all consistent with descriptions of autism.
    • Dad and Mom: Are they good people trying to raise a "difficult" child in the best way they can? Or are they boarderline abusive/neglective parents, who have no patience at all with a six-year-old with undiagnosed autism?
  • The Comics Curmudgeon loves playing this trope with print comics characters. For example, Marmaduke is a carnivorous hellhound, Mary Worth is a meddlesome she-devil, Beetle Bailey is in love with Sgt. Snorkel, and The Family Circus is a bunch of fundamentalist Stepford Smilers.
  • Peanuts: Peppermint Patty and Marcie. Both of them are quite tomboyish, and they have a very...close friendship, including Marcie calling Patty "sir". Schoolgirl Lesbians, anyone? To confuse things a bit more, they both have canonical crushes on Charlie Brown, meaning that they're either just Heterosexual Life Partners or bi.
    • Perhaps Marcie had a one-way crush on Peppermint Patty, who despite her butchness is canonically interested enough in Charlie Brown that anyone who says she is strictly a lesbian is moving past Alternative Character Interpretation and into Fanon.
    • Word of God has it that Patty is seriously interested in Charlie Brown. All the characters are about 9 or 10, so it could just be, you know, innocent.
  • Mark Trail A man that cannot understand humans and can only emphasize with animals on an emotional level. Therefore all of his interactions with humans invariably end with violence. It's kind of tragic really.
  • Get Fuzzy has Rob Wilco. Is he the Only Sane Man patiently suffering through his life with two nutty pets or is he almost as mean as Bucky but with a better understanding of how the world works. Many of the things he says to his cat seem to qualify as emotional abuse. Yelling, "For the last time, Take the Tuna Out of the Can First!" when multiple microwave ovens have been destroyed seems justified. Repeatedly calling your anthropomorphic pet an idiot or a 'fuzzy little fascist' does not. Satchel may be infinitely more likeable but Rob's blatant favouritism seems heavy-handed at times. Satchel can have friends over but Bucky can't. Bucky has to hold his hand on the subway but Satchel does not. They are both adult animals so the argument that one of them is 'mature' and the other is not doesn't really hold weight. Also, it may have been Bucky's choice to sleep in the closet but Rob doesn't do anything to make it more livable. The Unfavourite is sleeping on towels in the linen closet while the favourite has a nice room with beanbag chairs and posters. In any argument or fight he has a tendency to take Satchel's side before he even sees the evidence. Once Bucky even phones a telephone psychic, tells the woman that he is going through a rough time at home, he sleeps in the closet while the dog has its own room...and sometimes he goes through the trash at night so he doesn't go to sleep hungry. The woman is completely sympathetic until she finds out he is a cat. Bucky's still the personification of Cats Are Mean but you have to at least feel sorry for him.