Kevin and Kell
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Bill Holbrook's Kevin And Kell is a Furry Comic and the longest running daily webcomic on the net, running without hiatus since September 1995. (Doubly impressive, since Holbrook also does two syndicated newspaper comics: Safe Havens and On the Fastrack). It also ran in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Holbrook's local paper, between 2004 and 2014.
The comic stars the Dewclaw family, a blended family of disparate species:
- Kevin Dewclaw (Rabbit) - The Big Guy, runs an ISP out of their basement
- Kell Dewclaw (Wolf) - Action Mom, Mama Bear, Corporate Executive
- Lindesfarne Dewclaw (Hedgehog) - Kevin's (adopted) daughter from his first marriage. Mad Scientist-in-training, secretly formerly human
- Rudy Dewclaw (Wolf/Fox) - Kell's son from her first marriage, teenager, Alpha Male-in-training
- Coney Dewclaw (Rabbit/Wolf) - Kevin and Kell's daughter, already at the top of the food chain
The comic is mostly a Slice of Life comic, first dealing with the world's (dis)approval of K & K's "mixed" marriage, then moving into dealing with their (increasingly) extended family (Assorted inlaws, co-workers, and friends), with occasional forays into special arcs (like the Y2K storyline). While massive plot arcs have largely faded out after 2004, occasional multi-week plots still crop up from time to time.
Technically no longer a Web Comic, as Holbrook's native Atlanta Journal-Constitution picked it up in 2004, though the internet remains its primary form of distribution. It was nearly pulled in 2009, but a massive surge of reader support kept the comic in the paper, with the caveat of Sunday strips changing their format to be shorter and vertical in layout.
- Aerith and Bob: The mole scientists, Avogadro and Bob. The former's name being a Stealth Pun.
- After the End—Although it isn't brought up much, the world the characters live in was created by an organization of birds. After humans made Earth uninhabitable, and departed for a distant planet, the birds, the only surviving vertebrates, used the humans' intelligence rays to increase their intelligence, and travel back in time to 10 million BC, to stop humans from emerging, giving intelligence to other species in the process.
- All of the Other Reindeer—Kevin was widely rejected for being a fearless rabbit, even before he married Kell and thus became even more of an outcast.
- All the Myriad Ways—The current Danielle isn't the original.
- All There in the Manual—Lindesfarne's blog and later Catherina Aura's twitter have been used to explain or develop plot points in greater detail than merely within the strip.
- Altar the Speed—Lindesfarne promised to marry Fenton when she graduated college, giving her several years to put it off. In late 2009, she discovered that extra credits from high school could be integrated into her college credit work - the result being that she graduated several months short of the original date. Since she chose to keep her promise to Fenton, she got married much earlier as well.
- Animal Jingoism—Used and abused, occasionally Aesoped.
- Animals Not to Scale—Most of the animals are of similar size, no matter what their species.
- Animal Stereotypes—blind bats, snooty water-hating cats, loyal dogs, hedgehogs with super-strong quills, cowardly rabbits with big families, deer stuck in directed light, and shark lawyers among others.
- This is often subverted, like with Kevin, who is basically a walking, talking, subversion of many of the stereotypes about rabbits.
- Arranged Marriage—Kevin and Fran Caudal, though the marriage was called off due to Fran's parents being concerned over his lack of fear. Kevin's disastrous first marriage was his own mistake, as he admits. The two later wound up opponents in a campaign for the local school board. Kevin won, and was influential in getting Fran the headmistress job at Caliban Academy, since he knew so much about her from campaign research and knew she was very well qualified.
- Lindesfarne also had to get out of one, which was handled when it turned out her fiance was dating her best friend online. They made it official.
- George and Martha Fennec once stated that their marriage was arranged in order to introduce some genetic diversity to their "extremely noble lineages". Is it any wonder why they cheated on each other?
- Art Evolution: Quite noticeable in some cases, especially with Cynthia and Justin (two obscure side characters).
- Ascended to Carnivorism: Coney the Killer Rabbit.
- Ass in a Lion Skin—Many characters have used make up, costumes, and/or parts of other characters to disguise themselves as members of other species. For starters, Corrie had gone a long while disguised as a wolf named Dale. Kell has disguised herself as a rabbit and shortly after as a feline. George Fennec spent a small while disguising as a rabbit despite disliking rabbits since he was always been confused as one his whole life. And at least three non-rabbits spent Easter disguised as the Easter bunny.
- And this occasionally pops up as Halloween costumes for kids. Kell noted one time that a child was using a...less-than-fresh pelt. (In fact, this is eventually where Corrie's "Dale" pelt went: into Coney's dress-up box.)
- Asshole Victim—Several minor characters get devoured as a result of their misdeeds, like when one personnel director tried to get Kell fired for being domesticated, only to get eaten by Coney before he could do so.
- Astonishingly Appropriate Appearance—Angelique as a rat.
- Averted because Angelique has Plastic Surgery to alter her ear to look rat like after she was banned from calling herself a rabbit after betraying secrets that rabbits use to evade their predatory foes.
- Author Filibuster—The occasional storyline, usually the politically centered ones.
- Badass Adorable—Several characters qualify, but the undisputed champion is Coney. To unsuspecting predators, she's a three-year-old diaper-wearing bunny rabbit. Being half-wolf, Coney ends up effortlessly devouring attackers five times her size in a single panel.
- Bad Boss: R.L. has little to no respect from his employees and treats most of them poorly, firing Kell, one of his most loyal employees, on the advice of a contractor.
- Barefoot Cartoon Animals—Everyone except Francis.
- Beast and Beauty—Gender and species flipped.
- Becoming the Mask—Lindesfarne drops some coyotes into the Rabbit Hole with rabbit disguises, suggesting that they might take years to discover the exit. At least one marries a female rabbit and keeps up the facade well into his old age.
- Big Eater—Coney's eaten animals whole before, including deer, large cats, and bears.
- The Big Guy—Kevin, who's about three times the size of a normal rabbit.
- Bland-Name Product—There are no fewer than seven examples in this strip.
- Blue and Orange Morality—To put it bluntly, the concepts of right and wrong in the K&K universe are both bizarre and alien to the average human mind.
- And to each other in some cases, guess that's what happens when your food is sapient.
- For example, Danielle expressed bafflement that while in the human world sexuality is a big deal, in Domain no one raises an eyebrow about Rachel's homosexuality, noting that diet is the, as she put it, 'pointless arbitrary division' everyone focuses on. (Kevin just asks what an eyebrow is.)
- Discussed when Fenton's tree house embezzles from Hare-Link. He states that while fauna have to follow their own rules to ensure that society remains orderly and functional, plants naturally consume all resources they can to sustain themselves, and Tree is making an effort to do the right thing.
- A Boy, a Girl, and a Baby Family: Rudy, Lindesfarne and Coney, respectively.
- Brick Joke—Fenton was once asked, in the height of the Twilight craze, if he was a vampire bat. Turns out his mother is.
- A little longer period. In 1996, Lindesfarne said she was caught by Rudy to help him pass summer school. In 2011, Coney got herself "caught" by a friend, Lin, so they could play after school.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: In this Sunday strip, it's refernced by name!
- Broken Aesop: Basically any of the comic's assertions about how much worse the human world is than the one the characters inhabit, as they attempt to call out various human failings. Remember, this is a world where slaughtering and devouring other sentient creatures is not only a profession, but a sports competition, and eating someone's friends can be dismissed with some mild embarrassment.
- Broken Pedestal—Lindesfarne finds out that the professor whom she's working for falsified his results on stem cell research. Rudy learns that his biological father cheated on his mother.
- Cargo Ship - In-universe example: Aby Eyeshine literally married her job.
- Complete with anniversary gift (a new sign) and concern about whether she's cheating on her job (by supplemental income from Ninth Life.)
- Carnivore Confusion—The core of the strip, as well as a source of much of its humor. The strip basically establishes a morality in that so long as the predator is hunting for food, predation of other people is okay. However, if the prey is targeted as an individual and not consumed, it's considered murder. It is considered extremely taboo for herbivores to eat meat.
- Cat Up a Tree—It is a common occurrence for cats in this universe to be chased up trees by dogs. Kell herself ended up stuck in a tree with Aby which served as karmic punishment for all the cats she chased up trees as a child. At one point, Kell ended up saving a kitten who had gotten stuck up her tree. The same kitten was later seen stuck up a tree again, but this time rescued by a squirrel.
- Character Blog—Lindesfarne's "Virtual Quill" and Catherine Aura's Twitter.
- Character Development—Ralph used to be the centre of a Running Gag in which he would try to eat Kevin and fail, and was more or less the Butt Monkey. But then, an arc actually showed why he was so bad at hunting and he actually became a much more sympathetic character.
Kevin: Between us we can appeal to both herbivores and carnivores. What do you say?
Ralph: That... I'm glad I never succeeding in devouring you?
- Vin Vulpen, when it was shown how he was doing, actually was shown to have been a much better character in the wild from the glance we saw. When he was pretty much an utter bastard (literally, since we find out that he's Rudy's biological father's son by an extramarital affair).
- Even Angelique got some, although it wasn't as major. She's had a few redeeming moments (Lindesfarne's graduation from high school.)
- Cheated Angle: Kevin always has one ear flopped over - the one furthest from the audience. Meaning that which is flopped and which is straight can change within the same strip if Kevin turns his head. Holbrook acknowledges this in the FAQ as a stylistic choice.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome—Most characters who depart the strip are at least given some plausible excuse, but a few simply drifted out of existence. Lindesfarne had a best friend who was a turtle in some of the early strips, though this character was never named and pretty much vanished when Fenton was introduced.
- Clingy Jealous Girl—Shandra, from Catherine's twitter.
- Cloning Blues—Averted with Dolly (Yes, she's a sheep), who begins aging rapidly for some time, but who is reverted to an infant, renamed Mary, and essentially given a fresh start on life.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive—Kell's boss, R.L., and later Kevin's ex-wife when she marries R.L.
- Comic Book Time—Over 16 real-time years, the comic book has advanced ages for its characters by about five years.
- Contrived Coincidence—In the Christmas Tree storyline, Kevin almost encounters Kell while looking for a tree, and the tree later becomes "Tree".
- All the freaking time. For example, in the most recent page of this writing [dead link], the one doctor who knows how to drain blood is hurt and bleeding internally, just in time for the freaking vampire bat to exit the house. Would almost be amusing except that the art and writing take a huge drop when these things happen, and the only trope the author seems to like more than this one is Carnivore Confusion / Funny Animal.
- Note that Rachel was introduced as being in Bruno's class...then is suddenly Lindsfarne's roommate.
- Crapsack World -- Earth-That-Was in the backstory. The main universe of the comic itself also counts in spades. In fact, if this comic was taken seriously it'd be one of the most terrifying fictional settings ever; of course (and fortunately), it's not.
- Crossover—The webcomic General Protection Fault is part of their analogous human universe, per a lengthy crossover series in both comics. However, considering the nature of the involvement of GPF resident god-like character The Gamester, this may be a Red Herring.
- Dark Horse Victory—Frank Mangle challenged R.L. for control of Herd Thinners. The winner? Kell, who had only intervened to keep them from killing each other.
- Death by Childbirth—Corrie's mother.
- Demoted to Extra—This has happened to numerous characters that haven't been Put on a Bus entirely. Most notable are Bruno and Corrie, whose complicated saga dominated almost a decade of the strip's existence and now only appear very rarely and in the background. Also notable are Lindesfarne's friends Tammy and Ray, who moved to a lighthouse and have decreased in appearances to the point that their last appearance was in 2007 for a one-shot strip of Lindesfarne e-mailing her.
- Tammy is back to help Lindesfarne plan her wedding, and she brought her son Angstrom with her.
- Did Not Do the Research—When Fiona loses all of her money, she reveals that all of her scholarship offers for college have also vanished along with it. The author, when asked about how this could possibly happen, suggested that the colleges were only offering scholarships to her because she was formerly rich. Scholarships are actually offered to people who don't have money. Even putting aside that scholarships do not work that way, Fiona's high academics and successful athletics more than qualify her for even the most basic merit awards, let alone need-based awards. This comic tries to handwave it with the claim that every single scholarship offer was simply offered to her because she'd be a rich alumnus...which is, again, not how scholarships work. Of course, the real reason for this happening in the plot is to facilitate Rudy selflessly giving up half of his Easter Bunny scholarship...which is completely undercut by how badly all of these events had to handwave reality to make this happen.
- On top of that Fenton is shown to have terrible eyesight even with his glasses. In reality bats have fantastic vision even with the Mark I eyeball, and glasses are worn specifically to correct any problems one has with their eyesight (hence that type being called corrective lenses), both of which negate Fenton's absurdly bad eyesight. In fact, the only thing that backs up Fenton's eye problems is the old idiom "Blind as a bat," but at that point one wonders why Holbrook didn't just make Fenton blind to begin with—he'd still be able to see with his echolocation (which is also portrayed inaccurately), and next to nothing would change about his character.
- The history of the Great Bird Conspiracy claims that they were the only species to survive the destruction of our Earth's environment because they could fly over the trash heaps. Birds in real life are highly sensitive to pollution and would probably be some of the first common species to go. They also don't spend all of their lives in the air.
- Surely the IRS would have said something about Kevin and Kell filing jointly as spouses for ten years despite the fact that legally, thanks to Rudy, they were not married.
- Legislation does not take place instantaneously. This pops up a lot in the comic to try and create obstacles or simplistic resolutions to complex problems, such as the community wi-fi contract or Kevin and Kell's rush to marry before the anti-mixed species marriage act passes.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?—The strip uses numerous animal characters to reflect real-world situations. The title characters appear to represent a mixed race couple, "domestication" is often treated as homosexuality (one character discusses the problems of her "openly domesticated lifestyle"), and another character's "trans-diet" surgery to change him from a carnivore to an herbivore is treated with scorn and derision for altering the manner of his birth - in other words, a reflection of transgender issues. It also subverts it from time to time - actual homosexuality in the world of Domain is completely accepted (in the strip's logic, because people focus more on the carnivore vs. herbivore differences than anything else). It's worth noting, however, that Word of God says that Domestication is not a direct reflection of any real-world condition, despite the more obvious reactions to it.
- The creator actually says in the FAQ that another part of the strip is a stand in for real world issues, all real world issues.
Bill Holbrook: I would like to add, however, that species difference in "Kevin and Kell" represents all human conflicts, whether racial, religious, national, ideological, gender, etc.
- Well, at least he's not biased . . . mostly.
- There appear to be degrees of discrimination; only the most extreme believers in species purity (like the Institute of Species Purity) oppose inter-species marriage as long as the two partners share diets, but predator/prey relationships have quite a bit of social opposition.
- Dope Slap—Coney gave Rudy one when he admits he never sent in Kevin and Kell's marriage license.
- Kell gives Sheila one. With her tail.
Sheila: Did you just give me a "dope slap" with your tail?
- Dropped a Bridge on Him—The headmaster of Caliban Academy, a fly, is killed by a sheet of glass falling from a truck, opening his position for Fran Caudal.
- Dropped a Bridget On Him—It looks like Rachel might be trying to romance Bruno...until she realizes he's a boy. Rachel, as it turns out, is gay. Bruno was wearing a fake sheepskin covered with his girlfriend Corrie's wool, thus making him smell like a girl and giving a species with poor eyesight no other cues to his actual gender. Bruno attaches ram horns to the sheepskin to prevent this from recurring.
- Dungeon Bypass—Two Rabbit's Revenge members burrow into Danielle's room to avoid having to go through Kell's house.
- Efficient Displacement - Might show up in several places, but is played with here.
- Elephant in the Living Room - Literal example here.
- Everyone Is Related - The Dewclaws, Kindles, and Fennecs have not-so-gradually developed into a Tangled Family Tree. One comic from 2002 featured a Dewclaw family tree that is now a little out of date, a current one would be difficult to portray in only two dimensions.
- Rudy and Vin, once bitter enemies, turn out to be half brothers.
- Corrie, a sheep, is the long lost daughter of Ralph, a wolf.
- And now it turns out that Wendell, the Bratty Half-Pint rabbit that's been following Rudy during the last couple of Easter Bunny arc is Dorothy's grandson and, by extension, Rudy's cousin.
- And this isn't counting the ones that are predicted to happen when they're old enough to marry, such as Bruno/Corrie and Rudy/Fiona. Lindesfarne and Fenton tied the knot recently.
- Also demonstrated in this strip.
- Some commenters on Lindesfarne's blog have referred to this phenomenon as "Dewclaw assimilation".
- Evil Costume Switch—Well, sort of. Kell's been sporting darker red business outfits (as opposed to her typical peach-colored ones) ever since she became C.E.O. of Herd Thinners. Then again, she's significantly fairer than R.L. is.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin—Mei Li is a Tiger Mom in every sense of the word.
- The Faceless—R.L.
- Faked Rip Van Winkle—Lindesfarne and Fenton's tree do this to him by making him think it's three years later. It kind of backfires.
- Fantastic Racism—Mainly between predators and prey, although some inter-species prejudice, such as between canines and felines, exists. It must be said, though, that its take on the concept, which, while as seen above is not without its critics, is certainly more nuanced than most, and perhaps more relevant. While most parables about racism and cultural conflicts encourage people to put aside their differences, this one asks more difficult questions: What if some differences can never be put aside? What if some groups can never co-exist without hurting each other? Can we still find a way to make a peaceful world even then?
- Fanwork Ban—Bill Holbrook discourages fanart and fanfiction of the comic on the grounds that it weakens his copyright protection.
- Fashionable Asymmetry—Kevin's ear, which the author has admitted will always flop the same way regardless of what side Kevin is facing for aesthetic purposes.
- First Girl Wins—Fiona for Rudy. Oddly, Victorious Childhood Friend is subverted: they had hated each other when they were in day care years before Fiona moved away, and didn't even remember that before a teacher told them about it.
- Forgotten First Meeting—Rudy and Fiona, who find out after dating for some time that they were in the same preschool - and hated each other.
- For the Evulz—Rudy's comic portrayed humans as Captain Planet villains in almost every respect except for the fact that they're the main characters. Of course, at the time he drew the comic, everyone in that universe thought humans were fictional creatures. The idea of a race that would deliberately destroy habitats was considered so outrageously absurd as to be humorous.
- Fourth Wall Mail Slot: Lindesfarne ran her own blog at https://web.archive.org/web/20110713144352/http://blog.kevinandkell.com/, and 6/27/08, she started responding to replies. Please note, however, that as of late 2013 the blog seems to have disappeared (despite still being mentioned on the site); the URL deposits you at the current day's strip instead.
- Freudian Excuse—Ralph's desire to eat Kevin stems from the tragic death of his herbivore lover. Desdemona Fuscus pressures Lindesfarne and Fenton to get married so that Lindesfarne doesn't find out about her being a vampire bat before the wedding.
- Furry Comic—One of the longest running and best known.
- Furry Confusion—Basically determined by Rule of Funny. For just one example, Lindesfarne's lab mice were long-running characters that lived in a cage like pets, even though they were actually sentient and capable of speech. Other parts of the comic have shown mice that are the same size as the main characters, complete with anthropomorphic features like hair and clothes. The status of the lab mice nearly break the strip's logic when Lindesfarne attempts to send them to the human world in place of herself and Danielle, but is informed by Catherine Aura that it wouldn't work with mice because they're "too small". This concept is also used for laughs from time to time - for just one example, Kell appears to be enamored of dogs in a pet store window, but the last panel zooms out to reveal it's a temp agency. The Dewclaws also keep a sentient flower for a pet. They're also aware of the concept of pets despite no appearances of other pets in the strip, though there may be other reasons why they feel this way besides Rule of Funny.
- There's also the appearance of human-sized insects like moths, lightning bugs, and praying mantises...while insectivores like Lindesfarne and Fenton usually eat regular sized little insects. There was even an instance of a GIANT SPIDER attacking Tammy and Ray's (moth and lightning bug respectively) wedding, which Lindesfarne and Fenton ATE.
- Gender Bender—In this April Fool's comic.
- Gender Equals Breed—Averted, with the exception of Corrie for obvious reasons.
- Genius Loci—Fenton's house
- Getting Crap Past the Radar—Frequently. Perhaps most blatantly here.
- Green Aesop
- Green-Eyed Monster—Vin has been jealous of Rudy ever since he worked for Kell as an intern. When Fiona rejects him in favor of Rudy, it only makes things worse.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal—The comic's characters are aware of a need for clothes and covering up nudity...but some of them are naked and some of them aren't. For one such example, people who live in the wild forgo clothing, and Kell is visibly upset about being naked and covering herself up during a storyline where the family pretends to be uncivilized. However, Catherine Aura briefly wore a sweater (and no skirt) in her earliest appearances, though this was dropped in favor of her son and pretty much every other bird flapping around in the nude (her cousin wears sunglasses - and that's it). Nobody comments on this. The less anthropomorphic animals will also appear without clothes with about as much comment as Lindesfarne's pet mice.
- To justify one species not wearing clothes...how would snakes wear clothes?
- None of the animals wear shoes or socks, leading to an early joke in the series about the characters wondering why they hung Christmas stockings as they had no idea what they were.
- Half-Human Hybrid—Francis, though it's really complicated.
- Happily Adopted—Lindesfarne, Mary, and Gweneth and her siblings.
- Happily Married—Kevin and Kell, since before the strip started
- He Knows Too Much—The reason behind the Great Bird Conspiracy abducting Vin, Fenton, Ray and the elk that Rudy caught, along with a desire to make their computers Y2k-compatible.
- Heroic Sacrifice—Danielle Kindle, by way of Taking the Bullet for George.
- Historical Domain Character—Douglas, aka D.B. Cooper.
- Hoist by His Own Petard—A bear sued Kevin for defending himself with force rather than the "natural tactics" of running in fear. Mei Li, acting as his attorney, points out to the judge that, by his own logic, the bear should only be attacking Kevin with tooth and fang, not a lawsuit. The case gets dropped immediately.
- Holding the Floor—Kevin, and then Coney when Kevin tried to get the Rabbit Council to either accept his resignation or stop taking bribes. The interesting variation is under herbivore rules, as long as someone is chewing on something, they hold the floor. The council caved in and agreed to quit taking bribes right before Coney ran out of snake to chew.
- Improbable Species Compatibility—The Interspecies Marriage support group has been shown to have some rather bizarre pairings like this.
- Humanity Ensues—Francis eventually changes to one entirely after two years as an indeterminate furry species.
- Ralph and Martha also briefly experienced this when they were transported into the human world. Ralph returned to his own self when he returned to their own dimension, but Martha remained human for a short time due to being in a lead container.
- I Am Not Weasel—George is not a rabbit, thank you!
- I Can Explain -- Averted twice with Corrie, who doesn't quite confess to being a sheep disguised as a wolf before the people whom she believes realize her secret indicate they're talking about something else.
- Identical Granddaughter—Coney bears a great resemblance to Dorothy when she was Coney's age.
- Improbably High IQ—Played with. Lindesfarne and Fenton's specific IQ scores are never mentioned, just that they're high enough that Commander Kitsune gave them Mensa memberships for a wedding gift.
- Infinite Canvas (or rather finite newspaper column) -- Recent Sunday strips.
- Reality Subtext—That had been done because Kevin and Kell had been added to the Sunday comics for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the spot allocated to them required a strip that could be placed vertically.
- Inherent in the System—The fact that anyone could be snapped up off the street and scarfed down with no repercussions whatsoever; it's not murder (even morally) as long as you eat who you kill. and in some cases if you didn't know them personally first
- Insult Backfire—When Kevin ran for the school board position, R.L. confronted Kell about the press describing Herd Thinners as a "bloodthirsty pack of rapacious, slavering predators"...because they forgot to add "vicious" and "relentless" to the description. They have a reputation to maintain, after all.
- Interspecies Romance—From the title couple on down. In fact there aren't very many same-species couples at all in the strip.
- In the Blood—Corrie, in her Dale persona as a wolf, is able to get away with not hunting, since people assume that she's incompetent as a hunter due to being Ralph's daughter. People also initially believe that may be a reason why she is losing her instincts.
- I Want Grandkids—Desdemona is a light version of this trope, she's seen asking Kell which of them should be the first to bring the topic up to Lindesfarne and Fenton.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy—Ray is in love with Lindesfarne, rather than Tammy, but sacrifices his intelligence so that he won't stand in Fenton's way.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Elanor, in a picture taken 30 years ago. Ralph is Squicked when he finds out that the woman he found to be a babe is his own mother.
- Jerkass—Several characters, such as Vin and Angelique, who are often motivated by pure spite against Rudy(later, R.L. and Angelique) and Kevin, respectively.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold—Rudy can be fairly snarky, especially with the herbivore members of his families, and is often self-centered, but can be counted on for help when it's needed.
- Killer Rabbit—Coney (and to a lesser degree, Kevin)
- Klingon Promotion—Promotion to Herd Thinners CEO requires a battle against the currently seated CEO, ending with the loser being devoured by the winner. In recent years, a series of succession challenges became important to the plot. After Kell intervenes in a succession battle between R.L. and Frank Mangle, she is promoted to Herd Thinners CEO because she was the least injured. Kell breaks the rule of killing either opponent, sending them to a hospital instead. She later has to fend off a challenge against herself, in which she effectively defangs her challenger instead of eating him and points out that if the board doesn't support her decision, the resulting succession fight will doom the company. She wins.
- L Is for Dyslexia—Rudy (fox/wolf cross) and Dorothy (rabbit, Kevin's mother): (they have dystracksia, i.e. troubles with reading tracks)
- Late Arrival Spoiler—Danielle and Lindesfarne are formerly human.
- Let's Duet—Kevin and Kell sing a song about how they first met in this video, which Bill commissioned by Tom Smith. Tom sings for Kevin and Karen Underwood sings for Kell. See "Suddenly Voiced", below, for more info.
- Loads and Loads of Characters—Somewhat balanced by the frequent departures - there's a huge cast of characters, but rarely all at the same time.
- Loophole Abuse—The Domain version of the Facebook game Farmville apparently doesn't disallow players from raiding their own henhouse.
- The Maiden Name Debate—Kevin changes his and Lindesfarne's last name to Dewclaw after marrying Kell, mainly because he had been disowned for doing so. This is probably the least unusual thing about their marriage.
- Lindesfarne has chosen to keep the name Dewclaw, likely because she's already a published scientist under that name.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: The title characters, of course. It's shown that mixes of various sorts receive different levels of difficulty - within the same taxonomic family (such as Fiona's parents before their divorce) are generally accepted, and the further the drift from that, the more likely they are to deal with prejudice (both of Kell's marriages were mixed; her first, to a fox, only got mild disapproval from her family. The second caused her dad to disinherit her).
- Married to the Job—Aby, literally.
- Meaningful Funeral—When George Fennec has the original Danielle buried.
- Milholland Relationship Moment - Kevin and Kell discover that they've been having an internet "affair"... with each other. The truth comes out on a Jerry Springer show parody and ends up with the two of them on Oprah instead.
- Million-to-One Chance—Danielle says "There's a one in 9,758,496,382,101 chance" of a plan for her and Kell to disguise themselves as each other while Kell acts as a diversion to allow Danielle to escape with Kevin succeeding. Naturally, it works.
- Miniature Senior Citizens—Dorothy, who had to have Kevin via C-section.
- Missing Mom: Wanda Woolstone, Corrie's mother, died in childbirth. Frank Mangle's wife and Leona's mother is never mentioned in the comic, but according to a September 2007 entry of Lindesfarne's blog, she died after a lengthy illness when Leona was eight.
- Moral Dissonance—The comic will often do a Take That, Humans Are the Real Monsters, or even occasionally a You Bastard about the real world... and then get back to comics of sentient beings devouring each other. Not shockingly, this is often played up for humor as well, often from Danielle pointing out the ridiculousness of the animal society from her perspective.
Danielle: THIS CIVILIZATION ALREADY DOES THAT!!!
- Mysterious Animal Senses—usually played for laughs
- Name and Name
- No Biochemical Barriers—Hybrids abound through the strip, and it's implied there are many more if the size of the Interspecies Marriage Support Group is any indication. And that's not even getting into Danielle Fennec's complicated genetics.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed—Many celebrities of the real world have appeared as fictional versions with the names slightly altered.
- Noble Bigot: Kell has some difficulties dealing with felines, although she strives to remedy this. To an extent, Rudy towards herbivores, although with Character Development, he gradually accepts his stepfamily.
- Noodle Incident—When asked if Kevin and Kell's human counterparts are seen as "unique", Danielle says yes but never explains why.
- N-Word Privileges—Apparently, "herbivore" is Domain's version of this.
Rudy: Kevin, in these old magazines and texts I keep seeing references to "the H-word". What is that?
- Obfuscating Stupidity -- R.L. knew the Feline language the entire time, and knew about Frank's plan to challenge him, along with Kell's knowledge and failure to warn him. It does make one wonder why R.L. didn't act on it, though...
- Obsessed Are the Listmakers: Candace is really strict about procedures. In one story arc, Candace and her husband adopt a child, whose morning rituals, such as getting out of bed, brushing teeth and getting dressed, become strictly listed and timed. There are even lines on the floor of the child's bedroom detailing where to go in fulfilling the tasks!
- Offhand Backhand—Kevin's usual reaction to Ralph's attacks.
- Oh Crap: The characters do this at various points when they find out about various unfortunate developments. George does this when he learns that his wife is pregnant, and again when Kevin tells him that rabbits have litters (his child turns out to be a single birth, though).
- Omniglot -- R.L. Well, Domain's equivalent to this trope, anyway.
- Omniscient Morality License—The Great Bird Conspiracy keeps order by manipulating society and kidnapping people who find out too much about their project while claiming that they're dead.
- Our Vampires Are Different—Vampire bats in the K&K-verse are analogous to vampires in the human world, complete with stigmas, superstitions (such as the ones about garlic, mirrors, shapeshifting). About the only difference is that vampire bats are not undead creatures. The stigma in society led to Fenton's mother hiding her heritage from him so he would grow up as a normal bat, though her son shows no vampiric traits. Desdemona was later shown running a website dispelling various myths about vampire bats, pointing out that mirrors and garlic myths came about due to both being affected by sonar. Which, as she pointed out, affects normal bats as well.
- Painting the Fourth Wall—A pair of human scientists (from another web comic, General Protection Fault) were able to travel to Domain through the internet. (It might also have involved piggybacking on an existing portal, but for the most part the transport was internet-based.)
- There have been other examples of fourth wall painting, too, such as being weighed down by too much emotional baggage.
- Parental Obliviousness—Bruno's parents, who are so caught up in watching television that they never even noticed that Bruno became a herbivore-or that they gave permission for him to have stomach implant surgery.
- The Password Is Always Swordfish—Double subversion. After Vin gets a crush on Corrie (in her "Dale" persona), he changes his password from the obvious "die_rudy_die" to "mr_and_mrs_vin_and_dale_vulpen". While the second password would be obvious to anyone who knew about Vin's crush, Corrie only gets it by dating im.
- Pet the Dog—Despite her selfishness and spite toward Kevin, Angelique does want to reconcile with Lindesfarne.
- Phlegmings—R. L.; his drooling jaws are almost all we ever see of him.
- Pietà Plagiarism—Done for Danielle I's death.
- Playing Cyrano—Parodied when Martha and Ralph meet online and have Fiona and Rudy give them advice and then eventually take over for them. Lampshaded when Martha and Ralph meet at a cyber cafe and their waiter is a rhinoceros named Cyrano. The relationship ends up working out because thanks to Fiona and Rudy essentially re-enacting their relationship, Martha and Ralph end up mirroring theirs.
- Put on a Bus—A significant number of the supporting cast have departed the strip over the years, with varying excuses. Some of the more notable long-runners are Candice, who outsourced to New Zealand, the Ursal family who retired to Florida, Vin Vulpen, Rudy's longtime nemesis and half-brother (last seen in 2003 living in the Wild and having abandoned his old identity entirely), Rhonda who married Lindesfarne's fiance and apparently ceased to exist after moving in with him...the list goes on. This is a really common trend in Holbrook's comics.
- Rhonda made a one-shot appearance in the lead-up to Lindesfarne's wedding and will make at least a few more as she is part of the wedding party. She is also regularly mentioned on Lindesfarne's blog.
- Candice, her husband, and Mary appear as wedding guests.
- Quicksand Box: Discussed by Rhonda when she enters college and gets rather poor mid-term grades, where she mentions that she is terrible with studying because in high school, she was used to having to do homework all the time and found herself doing nothing in college.
- Red Herring—Kevin's father and Angelique frame each other for Sid's murder. It turns out that Danielle was sent to kill him, but couldn't do it, and he accidentally killed himself.
- Retcon—On occasion. For example, Kevin's parents and siblings supposedly meet with him for an online Thanksgiving, but it turns out that Kevin's father was acting as his wife and other children, in the hopes of Kell devouring Kevin and him inheriting his money.
- Rudy's age was retconned from twelve to fourteen because Holbrook felt his attitude was appropriate for a teenager instead of a younger child. The comic eventually lampshaded it with a storyline in which Rudy had to find a way to prove he was really fourteen and not twelve after learning that his mother had claimed him as two years younger to make up for his small size as a cub.
- Herd Thinners has been stated in various strips that is a company that has been running for a long time(the prehistory), but in the strip that revealed that Douglas is D.B. Cooper shows that RL founded the company himself.
- Rhonda's name was actually "Rhoda" in her first appearance.
- Right in Front of Me—At an online costume party, Martha remarks that she broke up with Ralph because he had a teenage daughter while chatting with said teenage daughter (who was in a costume that made her difficult to identify).
- Risky Business Dance—Rudy does one when Kevin and Kell leave for their second honeymoon. Except he forgot that his sisters and grandmothers were still home.
- Rousseau Was Right—Manages the impossible, combining this with Humans Are the Real Monsters. But any character who appears for an extended period of time WILL get a Heel Face Turn eventually.
- Rule of Funny—Holbrook has explained that the size and relative anthropomorphism of any species depends entirely on what's funniest. Hence why Lindesfarne can be friends with an anthropomorphic moth and firefly the same size as her, as well as eating realistic bugs that are the same size you would expect.
- Running Gag—Quite a few people have bad timing.
- Take out the comics which start with a character going about day-to-say life, and then equating it to animal behavior in the last panel. Then take out the comics which reverse that. What you're left with is almost entirely the story arc comics.
- Schedule Slip—Averted for over 15 years. Made all the more impressive because he has two other comics.
- Second Love—Most of the cast are happier with their second spouses/lovers than their first ones, as with Kevin and Kell, Angelique and R.L., Ralph and Martha, Theodore and Elanor, George and Danielle.
- Self-Insert Fic—On Catherine Aura's Twitter, she talks about how she and Nigel are spying on a human (Subject A) that seems to have a 'psychic link' to the K&K world, and is drawing a comic about it. This is a rather obvious hint that Subject A is Bill Holbrook himself.
- Shaggy Dog Story—The entire arc with Harelink vying for an extremely lucrative contract to provide free wi-fi to the citizens of Domain was ended in a single strip - after they won, the telecom industry instantly got a law passed that stopped cities from providing this service entirely because they wanted the contract for themselves. This also rendered the entire arc, which took place over several months, entirely pointless. The real purpose of the arc was revealed to be a soapbox against the telecom industry.
- Ship Sinking—Catherine Aura tries to prevent Nigel from thinking about or contacting Coney after they cross over to the human world.
- Shout-Out—Quite a few to Calvin and Hobbes.
- Something Else Also Rises—Kevin's one floppy ear perks up when he's feeling frisky.
- Species Surname—damn near everyone, those who don't have surnames based on features of their species.
- Stealth Pun -- An elephant insurance man whom no one wants to acknowledge.
- Strawman Political—They appear occasionally. Bill Clinton was apparently a rabbit, George Bush is apparently a butterfly. One of Lindesfarne's blog entries mentioned Kerry as a horse, though he was never shown within the strip. A recent strip did not show Obama on panel, but described him as the hybrid of an African Gazelle and a North American White Tail Deer.
- Stupid Boss—George Fennec, owner of Hare Link, is almost completely useless.
- Not merely a stupid boss... he's also utterly clueless when it's obvious to everyone else that Danielle found out she's pregnant.
Danielle (in the bathroom with her pregnancy test) HOORAY! YEEEEE-HAH!
- Suddenly Voiced—Kevin and Kell gain voices in a few simple animations that have been done in the past. Kevin has been voiced by Bill himself and Tom Smith the Filk Song writer, and Kell has been voiced by Bill's wife Teri and, in the song, by Karen Underwood. Fenton got a voice in the intro video, and with a possible TV show on the horizon, more voices may be on the way.
- Take a Third Option—At the end of the Danielle arc, Danielle believes she and Lindesfarne will have to return to the human world to restore the balance, but Lindesfarne realizes that any two individuals can restore the balance, opting to have her mice do so instead. According to Catherine Aura, however, they're too small, and Catherine and Nigel fly through instead.
- Take That—Plenty. Car dealerships, talk radio, Windows, politicians (especially lobbyists), humans... The strip often uses Take Thats as punchlines.
- Taking the Bullet—Danielle I for George.
- Tap on the Head—Averted. After Kell suffers a concussion in the challenge she faces as CEO, her doctor tells her to stop hunting. Considering how Kell took her previous non-hunting assignments, it remains to be seen how long this will last.
- The Internet Is for Porn: Used in a rather PG way. Since the comic has a lot of internet jokes and setting it bound to come up.
- Also Ralph uploaded some old photos he found. He then finds out they were of his mother.
Kevin: First time I've ever seen a brain imploded.
- This Is Something She Has To Do Herself—Kell facing a predator challenge 28 days after her ascension as Herdthinners' new CEO. It's company policy.
- Too Dumb to Live—Several prey species in one-shot strips get eaten after falling into obvious predator traps or doing other careless things (like leaving their cell phones on).
- Toy Ship—In-universe example: Coney and Nigel. They use the time machine to grow up for a few hours, and it turns out? It works. There was also hints regarding Coney and Harcourt Silvertip, the vegetarian bear who was the grandson of the Dewclaws' nieghbors, the Ursals, until the bears were Put on a Bus to Florida. For a baby that only recently aged into a five year old, the carnivorous bunny sure gets around.
- Now Coney's protectiveness of Francis could be interpreted that way, despite their being biological cousins. And yes they count as related even though his mother is from an alternate universe and he recently turned into a human.
- Tropaholics Anonymous—Being a part of K&K's N.R.A. is nothing to be proud of.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance—Kell and her cousin Sheila look similar enough to pass for each other, as Sheila is literally just Kell with different clothes and heavier makeup.
- Undead Tax Exemption—Averted when Catherine has to fabricate records for herself and Nigel in the human world.
- Unholy Matrimony -- R.L. and Angelique have been shown to be genuinely in love with each other, despite Angelique seeing R.L.'s disappearance as an opportunity to take over Herd Thinners to conquer the world. Yet when R.L. returns alive, he is only minorly perturbed and simply convinces her its easier to make piles of money instead.
- Very Special Episode—When your title couple are the equivalent of an interracial marriage, you know these will happen and frequently.
- Villain with Good Publicity—Rabbit's Revenge is supported by almost three quarters of the rabbit community because they don't know of their methods.
- Visual Pun—Many.
- Vitriolic Best Buds—Dorothy and Elanor, despite often clashing, particularly in their different approaches in their work for Aby and Coney's diet, have admitted that they're each other's only friends.
- Webcomics Long Runners—One of the longest of the long.
- Webcomic Time—Some characters remain in high school (or diapers) forever, while others leave home/get married/have children (or are even born and become characters in their own right).
- This also gets weird when you consider that Edgar is still high school age, yet his former girlfriend went into college long before he did - and was implied to have been dating her during that. Rachel also manages to mysteriously graduate so Lindsfarne could get a new roommate, but she was explicitly introduced as the same age as Rudy and Bruno.
- Vin's birthdate was eventually listed in the comic, showing him to be much older than he had been implied to be considering his introduction in the strip.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy—Lindesfarne to Angelique before the divorce.
- Wham! Episode—Lindesfarne and Fenton discover Vin to be alive, but while investigating it, Fenton is kidnapped, learns that Mrs. Aura is in charge of a conspiracy to prevent the world from descending into chaos and that everyone else, including Lindesfarne, believes that he is dead.
- The revelation that Lindesfarne is a former human.
- Wham! Line
- As Kell flees the Rabbit Warren (which she entered to find Kevin's parents) with the rabbit whom she saved and who had helped her.
Kevin: Thanks, Dad.
- Dorothy, while discussing requests for arranged marriages for Coney with Kevin, says she had set one up for him.
- Kevin finds an intruder in his house, who turns out to be working for his political opponents. When he says he's
Intruder: Check that. You're facing a recall.
- Lindesfarne tells Rudy that she's found Vin Vulpen's half brother, whom they need to give him a tail transplant. Rudy asks who would have to do it, and she says "Four inches should do it" while holding a ruler at his tail. Shortly thereafter, another comes when Rudy realizes the implications of this and denies that his father committed adultery.
Rudy: IT'S A LIE! IT's A SLUR! IT'S-
- The culprit in Sid's murder confesses
Danielle: I'd say there's a 100% chance it's me, Daddy.
- What Happened to the Mouse?—Kevin was elected to the school board in 2006, on a platform of eliminating high stakes testing. Which, in this comic's universe, leads to students being eaten alive to save money. Despite the fact that both of his school-age children could be at risk of an untimely death, the comic has dropped the plot entirely and only occasionally revisits his school board post for mundane one-off jokes.
- After all the hoopla about baby Francis, his genetics, and turning into a human baby, he's barely been seen in strip and the plotline has been dropped. This even includes an obvious Sequel Hook from Francis' birth storyline in which Danielle hinted that the only reason she would return to the human world would be to save him. This is never mentioned again.
- What the Hell, Hero?—Rudy often gets these for his actions, and in one case, this overlaps with Even the Dog Is Ashamed, when Coney dope slaps him for not sending Kevin and Kell's marriage registration.
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?—Domain's location relative to the rest of
Earth"the world" is pointedly never established. However, the town is heavily inspired by Atlanta, Georgia, where the author lives, and several landmarks from that region appear in the strip using fictional equivalents.
- Made even more ambigious by the fact that Domain is openly mentioned to not exist in "our" world in any shape or form (including Parallel versions).
- Who Will Take the Kids?—An early story arc has Kevin and Kell debating over who should take the children in the event of their death. Ralph was automatically ruled out (this was before his Character Development), Kell's parents were ruled out since her father was succumbing to Alzheimer's, her cousin Sheila would eat Coney (this was years before Sheila was properly introduced to the strip), and Kevin was still estranged from his family over Kell. In the end, they name Lindesfarne (then in high school) the legal guardian and vow to take separate planes until she's twenty-one.
- Wicked Stepmother—Inverted; Lindesfarne considers Kell more of a mother than her original adoptive mother.
- A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing—Bruno (wolf) and his girlfriend Corrie (sheep) literally, figuratively, and just about every single variation one can think of.
- Wrench Wench—Aby
- Xanatos Roulette—The Bird/Y2K conspiracy.
- You Answered Your Own Question—How indeed could the WikiBreaks be traced back to Harelink?
- You Have Failed Me...—R.L. typically fires people by eating them.
- Or so we were led to believe. Turns out, most of his trophies (the people he fired) are still alive - RL hired them back as temp workers, preventing them from getting any benefits.
- You're Not My Father: Lindesfarne stops calling Angelique "Mom" after the divorce, upset at being abandoned and not being acknowledged much even during the marriage.
- Your Cheating Heart: George and Martha cheat on each other and catch each other at the same time.