For Better or For Worse/YMMV

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Readers are meant to despise Therese and sympathize with her 'poor husband/ex-husband' Anthony. It's very easy to go the other way round.
  • Anvilicious / Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Sometimes there are some rather anvilicious moments in the strips...yeah, she can go on Author Filibuster moments, but there have been a couple of these where they really needed to be said. Especially about Grandpa; since this actually happens in real life.
  • Creator's Pet: Freakin' Anthony. It did not help that in her rush to portray Anthony as Liz's destined knight, Johnston made the serious miscalculation of having him literally stride in and rescue Liz from a sexual assault -- claiming that he "never had anything to fight for until now!" while he was still married and a new father. He followed that up a strip or two later by taking a badly-shaken Liz not to the police station, but to a park, where he sat her down and begged her to 'wait for him' because he "had no home!" Even among the marriage's most ardent supporters, he never quite lived down the implications of this storyline.
    • Especially Squick-y in the case of Liz' father John, who dotes on the boy to the point where Ho Yay is the only explanation.
      • Just to show just how disgusting and insulting all of this was, when Liz went home and told her parents about everything that had happened, their reaction was... to high-five because it meant Liz and Anthony might get together eventually.
  • Die for Our Ship: Fans want Anthony to die for the various ships of Elizabeth/Interesting Life, Elizabeth/Freedom, Elizabeth/Independence, Elizabeth/Anyone But Anthony... well, honestly, they just want Anthony to die.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Anthony trying to get his wife to have a baby sounds basically like a child whining for a pet.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: April, Candace, and some one-shot background characters.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending: Elizabeth marrying Anthony after being Strangled by the Red String. Arguably, the "new-runs" make it worse by driving home the notion that she's in for the same Self-Inflicted Hell her mother goes through.
    • Maybe. Maybe not. Lynn Johnston could easily have Elizabeth not settle down with Anthony. It's unlikely that the cartoonist will even get that far before she dies or retires.
  • Executive Meddling: Lynn Johnston wanted to end the strip in 2008, however executives didn't want to give up her spot in the paper given how long it's been there, and they weren't willing to rerun it like they do Peanuts.
  • Fan Nickname:
    • "Foob" and "Foobiverse" for the strip itself. "ReFoob" for the post-2008 Retool.
    • Anthony is "Blandthony", "the Mustache", "Pornstache" or "Granthony"
    • Liz and Anthony's wedding is the "Settlepocalypse"
    • The many intentional mutilations of "Mtigwaki"
    • The advent of several characters becoming blatant Purity Sues led to the nickname "Pattersaints".
    • Since the reruns began, Elly's husband John has picked up the nickname of "J-Rod" due to the obvious parallels between the character and Johnston's ex-husband Rod. Many readers noted that since the reruns began, the reruns chosen often highlight only the worst aspects of John, making it seem that Johnston is more than a little bitter about the breakup of her marriage.
    • Disabled former regular Shannon picked up the nickname "Shan...non" due to the odd way the strip rendered her severe speech impediments.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Where to begin? "A woman's duty is to become a Housewife even if you hate it"? "Children are horrible monsters because you have to take care of them and they want you to show them love and affection instead of spoiling yourself rotten"? "Men are pigs, but not having a husband or family means you're a complete failure as a woman"? "Stealing another woman's husband away is perfectly fine"?
    • If you're a man and your wife tries to tell you to cut up your sandwich or wear different clothes, she's a horrible harpy and you're so put-upon. If you're a woman and your husband makes you have a baby you don't want and move to a place you hate, you're a horrible harpy for being upset by it.
    • If your family doesn't appreciate you and won't admit that you're trying your best, fake your own death; they'll change their tune in a hurry.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: Among other references, in one arc, John (based on the artist's husband) gets a mid-life crisis car that the Author Avatar Elly remarks is like the "other woman". Flash forward years later, and we find out Johnston's real life husband had been cheating on her more or less all along...
    • It also makes you think about how much John talked up Anthony to Liz and hinted that she should get with him when Anthony was still married to Therese... and then it turns out that the inspiration for John was cheating on his wife.
  • Informed Wrongness: Elly's self-absorption, both parents' inability to think of her as anything but the naive baby of the family, and just occasionally the reality of the strip itself all conspired to make sure April was always wrong; if it couldn't make her wrong on factual counts, then it would make sure she was at least a wicked child for insisting upon the facts instead of blindly rolling over and taking the blame.
  • Misaimed Fandom: Therese, Anthony's wife, is described as being jealous to the point of paranoia regarding Anthony's contact with Liz. Unfortunately, since the comic actually shows her as being right about this and Anthony wasn't a terribly sympathetic character to begin with, a lot of the readers had sympathy for her and not her husband. Even when the comic ended, despite numerous attempts by the strip to make her more and more nasty, most still felt she was unfairly persecuted.
  • Memetic Mutation: The "Gap-Toothed Starey 'Hoooo!' Guy", an unnamed student that gawked at April after her boyfriend apparently told him they'd done the deed. The Comics Curmudgeon happily pointed him out.
    • Also, "roadside", coming from a bad attempt by Johnston to create teenage euphemisms for sex.
    • And "foob" itself. The term was used in the strip by April, who explained to John that it was "a cross between a fool and a boob."
  • Misblamed / Scapegoat Creator: Lynn actually wanted to retire after ending the story; but a lot of newspapers didn't want to lose a slot in the funny pages (Especially since it had been there for so long). The writing; however, is her doing - Some think she lacked the original spark she had in the seventies so she's just essentially doing this as revenge.
  • Never Live It Down: "I have no hoooooome!"
    • Michael abandoning his family during the apartment fire in favor of saving his laptop. While Easily Forgiven for this in-strip, a big chunk of the Fandom saw this as his Moral Event Horizon.
  • Nightmare Fuel: For a while, the digital versions of the strips as seen on the site were actually animated GIFs, with the only animation being the characters' eyes blinking every so often. It was... unsettling.
    • Grandpa Jim's And I Must Scream after his second stroke. Imagine being perfectly fine mentally, but completely unable to communicate this with anyone, and watching them gleefully interpret all your attempts at telling them how you feel however they please... "Boxcar!" indeed.
    • The latest of the e-cards that Lynn makes available on site is a Quicktime animation of Farley sneaking into the bathroom, drinking out of the toilet and licking the camera lens; the caption is "I was thinking of you and decided to give you a big, wet kiss."
    • Lynn's latest attempt to cash in is a series of golf-club covers that have Farley's face on them. The problem is that it looks as if someone had decapitated him, shrunken his head and put it on a stake as a warning to all other sheepdogs.
  • Purity Sue: Mike gets a $25,000 advance for his first novel, from the first publisher to whom he submits it, despite having no agent. Nine short months later, his second novel is already a best seller and he has a movie deal lined up. Thing is, the excerpts of the novel on the FBorFW site are just plain terrible...
    • The fact that he didn't have an agent isn't that shockingly unrealistic, as most Canadian publishers do accept manuscripts submitted directly as long as the author is Canadian. The nine months thing, though...in the real world it can take two years for a novel to go from manuscript to bookstore.
    • For the non-writers out there, it's not uncommon for a first novel to go through dozens of publishers, even with an agent to fine-tune it, usually having to go through the same publisher multiple times. And a $25,000 dollar advance is huge, considering $50-60,000 isn't bad for the total payment an author gets from a book.
    • What really made Michael's book deal totally unbelievable was that, on top of the $25,000 advance, his publisher also gave the book a large expensive publicity campaign. One of the frustrations of the real-life publishing world is that publishers will usually spend lots of money to promote new books by established authors who are already famous (and books by celebrities), but publishers will almost never pay for publicity campaigns for new authors who would actually benefit from the publicity.
    • Also Anthony, who everyone in the strip considers a saint, the only man Liz should marry, despite never doing anything worthy of being shilled by her parents, her friends, the author... did we mention they even did this kind of thing when he was married?
  • Seasonal Rot: the later years of the strip are mostly regarded as lower in quality
  • Snark Bait: Especially in its later years.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Liz and Anthony.
  • Straw Man Has a Point: Johnston spent quite a few strips setting up Therese's unreasonable jealousy and shrewishness. Then spent five times as many strips unintentionally proving every one of Therese's rationales as spot-on.
    • Thérèse and Anthony again, though it goes both ways a little. Thérèse is portrayed as horrendous for not staying home with her daughter, but going back to work after maternity leave is what Anthony agreed to, not to mention she is making more money than he is, and would be the better provider in a one-income family. Even worse, Thérèse is portrayed as wrong for cheating on Anthony (which she definitely is), but remember - Anthony cheated too, if not outright physically. He specifically asked Elizabeth to "wait for him" (right after the Attempted Rape, no less - classy), which is not that much different. He then sits around waiting for Thérèse to cheat on him so he looks like the good one, instead of being an adult and admitting to her that their marriage isn't working. Though this last is Truth in Television - it's a massive step that most people would be reluctant to take.
    • Also, while John is supposed to an idiotic, conflict-causing MAN, several times he actually comes off as far more rational than Elly. For instance, his attempts to ensure he has life insurance so his family will be taken care of if anything unexpected happens to him is hampered by Elly trying to derail the discussion by sobbing melodramatically and wildly accusing him of trying to scare her.
    • The Kelpfroths, Michael's crabby Ceiling Banger neighbors, also get upset at them for leaving their kids' toys and strollers in the stairwell and a kiddie pool on the common lawn area, where they're 'eyesores'. However, leaving items on the stairwell actually can create a safety hazard, and kiddie pools can be hazardous to the grass. And when Michael resorted to the childish 'solution' of seperating the shared foyer in half in duct tape so they can keep their kids things on 'their side', the Kelpfroths were portrayed as being even more unreasonable for not liking this idea.
    • Jo Weeder's father is depicted as being a heartless, soulless authoritarian because he pointed out that Weed would have to be exceptionally fortunate to make a career of photography. He joins Mira Sobinski and Gavin Caine in a rogue's gallery of allegedly awful parents whose crime was expecting their children to work for a living instead of passively waiting for miracles to solve their problems like the Pattersons do.
    • Weed's father was more about the (admittedly true) fact that Weed would almost certainly make less money at photography than he would going into business with his father. His father is wrong for trying to make him do something he hates, but Weed definitely isn't sitting back and expecting miracles - whenever we see him at his job, he's doing his best.
  • Tear Jerker: Farley's death was this for some; especially since you don't really expect Newspaper Comics to talk about stuff like this.
  • Thirty-Sue Pileup: Elly, Elizabeth, Michael and Anthony
  • Unfortunate Implications: The token gay character grows up to become a florist.
    • The same character, younger but now re-colored with dark skin (being half-white is less controversial now than in the Eighties), is shown encouraging Michael to shoplift.
  • Values Dissonance: Several concepts central to the strip, such as ambition being evil, children being horrible monsters for daring to demand attention and affection -- and yet the only real measure of a woman's success, and the eventual uplifting of several characters to Pattersainthood while retaining their many obvious character flaws resulted in massive amounts of Dissonance.