Penny Arcade (Webcomic)
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Penny Arcade is perhaps the ur-gaming webcomic, created by Mike "Gabe" Krahulik (art) and Jerry "Tycho" Holkins (writing) and updating on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule. From its humble beginnings in late 1998, the comic has inspired countless imitators and grown into a veritable household name; the franchise has its own convention (PAX) and charity (Child's Play), as well as several commissions.
Although most of the comics are connected to Video Games in some manner, it is not exclusively a gaming comic; much of the humor is drawn from real-life experience, as well as character interaction, both with the authors' alter-egos and with their friends.
Notable for being one of the few webcomics to actually divide up art and writing duties between an artist and a writer, with the pretty obvious result that both the art and the writing are far better than most webcomics, which tend to be solo affairs. While the benefits to dividing up the duties are obvious, the pitfalls keep most webcomics from following suit: mostly, it is really really hard to get two people to agree on how their ideal comic should look and feel, and in the rare cases where they do, wildly successful comics can generate enough money to cause problems between them. Gabe and Tycho make it work. Most webcomic creators would rather not try.
Also notable for a relentlessly professional update schedule in a medium notorious for falling victim to Schedule Slip. Penny Arcade will update every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday -- even when Gabe gets swine flu or cuts his thumb to the bone.
The series has now spun off into an episodic game: Penny Arcade Adventures: On The Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness. And now into a reality show. The comic has also spawned the Epic Legends of the Hierarchs and Song of the Sorcelator projects. Two podcast series have also been produced. Downloadable content, that gives some insight in the process of how Mike and Jerry create the comics, and their D&D podcasts, which is a collaboration between Penny Arcade and Wizards of the Coast.
It should be noted that the two have been chosen for TIME Magazine's list of Top 100 Influential People for their 2010 issue under the "Artists" category.
Recently, Tycho has starred along with Strong Bad, The Heavy, and Max in a poker game named Poker Night At the Inventory, and the Fruit Fucker 2000 appeared (renamed Juice Bot) in the Steam version of Monday Night Combat.
- Back to the Penis Well (renamed to Bottom of the Barrel Joke)
- The Merch: Brutally satirized here.
- Shoot the Medic First: Named while discussing Team Fortress 2.
- Abusive Parents: Tycho's childhood was often a living hell.
- Accidental Truth: In "Stewardship" Scott Kurtz comes to the guys with a list of topics to avoid while writing PvP in his absence. As it happens, he had considered doing exactly that.
- Actually Pretty Funny: "Dune? It sounds dry." "I'm trying not to be amused by that."
- Also found here.
- The Annotated Edition: The printed collections have text commentary.
- Answer Cut: Annarchy decides that E3 is "an elaborate scheme to suppress rational thought" and wonders what kind of "pea-brained monkey man it's supposed to appeal to." Enter Gabe.
- In this strip, when Tycho asks why Gabe only wore his pants backwards once, it cuts to a flashback of Gabe in high school, with his pants soaked in pee.
- "What could he possibly be doing that is more important than what I want him to be doing right now?"
- Art Evolution / Art Shift: Jokingly used when referencing ancient history. The ten years of practice really shows.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: From the rejection letter the duo supposedly received from Golf Digest for Bogey Golf, their series of golf comics:
Your "Bogey Golf" submission glorified many themes one does not readily associate with the game, such as incest, murder, rape, bestiality, religious intolerance, or crab fishing.
- Author Appeal: Gabe seems to like drawing weird, disgusting-looking alien creatures.
- Tycho loves Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness.
- Author Avatar: Retroactively so - Tycho and Gabe were not originally meant to represent the creators, but too many readers assumed that they did and eventually Jerry and Mike just said Sure Why Not.
- Jerry's posts sometimes mention that while Tycho draws from Jerry and Gabe from Mike, their characters are distinct from their creators and the real story is redistributed to the appropriate character. For instance, he was the one that wanted to give away free waffles at their convention booth, but it wasn't something Tycho would do, so their roles were switched for the comic.
- The dissimilarities between Mike/Jerry and Gabe/Tycho were later played for laughs in "Perhaps Too Real", where Tycho and Gabe art redrawn for the iPad Retina display end up looking like Jerry and Mike.
- Awesome McCoolname: Mike named his Dungeons & Dragons wizard "Jim Darkmagic" (of the New Hampshire Darkmagics).
- Immediately called out by Scott Kurtz, who demands, "Why don't you call yourself Chet AwesomeLaser?"
- The group also suggested "Jim Fellmagic," "Fell DarkJim," "Jim Felldark," "Fell Darkevil," and "Ominous Darkfell Magic-Bad."
- Also, Doctor Raven Darktalon Blood.
- Fail O'Suckyname: Jim is a Call Back to when they played Final Fantasy XI.
- Also all characters/creatures by Franzibald. (Grimm Shado, Witchaloks, wolfoids, the Shadowdark. Granted, some of these names aren't as much "sucky" as they are "horribly uncreative".)
- Awesome, Dear Boy: Gabe was overjoyed when Nintendo hired them to produce a Legend of Zelda comic to promote Skyward Sword, despite his schedule being full.
- A Wizard Did It: Used to explain "reverse necromancy". As well as where babies come from.
- Bare Your Midriff: Anne does this in the earlier strips.
- Badass Adorable/Little Miss Badass: Annarchy in Armadeaddon, and doubly so in Penny Arcade Adventures, where she plays a Gadgeteer Genius.
- Badass Boast: Mike Krahulik gets one while talking about Ocean Marketing.
I will personally burn everything I’ve made to the fucking ground if I think I can catch them in the flames.
- Big No: Too late, Gabe realizes the awful truth in "He Who Fights With Nerds". More gruesome examples are here and here.
- Bindle Stick: Gabe has one here.
- Berserk Button: For the love of God, don't insult Jesse's Girl. Or mention those claw shrimps. Or imply that Warhammer Fantasy Battle and Warcraft are the same thing near Tycho.
- Real-life example: Mike Krahulik detests bullies. So much so that he publicly named and shamed a horrid PR spokesman after he belittled, mocked and threatened a customer after providing terrible service. Said spokesman's career is in tatters now.
- Black Comedy:
- Black Comedy Rape:
- Bland-Name Product: Most products are named and mocked, but in two strips they were under a non-disclosure agreement, and decided to illustrate how silly the whole NDA thing is. There have been store and restaurant names such as GameShop, Taco Hole, and Wang's Chinese Restaurant, though Tycho once did refer to Barnes & Noble by its real name.
- Blatant Lies: "Gabe, sometimes in order to hurt someone very badly, you have to tell that person terrible lies."
- Book Ends: a textbook example of this trope.
- Bowdlerize: Gears of Conflict Resolution
- As mentioned earlier, the Fruit Fucker was renamed "Juice Bot" when appearing in Monday Night Combat. Also, in Poker Night at the Inventory, the Fruit Fucker appears on an unlockable table, but it is referred to as "Fruit Friend" (and even if you have the swearing uncensored, it still appears as "Fruit Friend").
- Bribing Your Way to Victory: Somewhere between this trope and Revenue Enhancing Devices is the Visa Crucible (for Everquest II).
- Brick Joke: Most people forgot about the Pac-Man watch, what with it not being mentioned for years. Then came the announcement that it's a Team Fortress 2 Spy unlock through Poker Night at the Inventory.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Happens to Gabe upon being scared by Tycho. Gabe then tries to deny the fact that he peed his pants.
Gabe: What, this? This isn't pee. You startled me, I spilled my...drink, is all.
Tycho: So, you didn't wet yourself. You were just drinking piss.
Gabe: Yes, that's right. No.
- But You Screw One Goat!: Not anymore, though.
- Call Back: The comic from July 14th, 2010 has Tycho use the made-up racial slur "chuwero", first mentioned three and a half years ago. He will also use it on occasion in Poker Night At the Inventory.
- Character Blog: The corresponding blogs on the strips.
- Check, Please!: This strip.
- Chest Burster / Puppeteer Parasite: The Broodax, in spades.
- Christmas Special: Oh so subverted.
- Closer to Earth: Tycho and Gabe's wives Brenna and Kara come across this way, more for providing an outside perspective on their geeky madness than just being more grounded.
- Complaining About Things You Haven't Paid For: This newspost reveals that this is how Gabe feels about winning Nocturne in a competition. "Even when he gets your game for free, it would appear that you still owe him."
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: It doesn't not work.
- Contemplate Our Navels: In-universe; what is delicious[sic]
- Continuity Nod: Fairly odd for a webcomic that features the main characters dying horrible deaths on a regular basis, but one comic introduced us to the idea that Tycho can't deal with the sun. More than six years later, Tycho is again seen trying to protect himself. And once more.
- Cosmic Horror: The recurring concept and species known as the Deepcrow.
- Media Research Failure: Though you'd think Tycho would know better, he does this here, claiming that Mega Man X was the tenth game in the Mega Man series.
- One really has to see The Rant for that comic. The back-and-forth of Gabe and Tycho slinging factoids about the Mega Man games is fun. Especially the last one, where Gabe unearths an unbeatable fact that proves him right.
- Crossover: Telltale's Poker Night at the Inventory, sure it's typical for them to crossover a Video Game seeing that it's a gamer webcomic, but its really unlikely for them to crossover a Web Original and a Comic Book.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Gabe. Not only is he the Cardboard Tube Samurai - whose skills may carry over in some form to his civilian persona - but he has received a blood transfusion from Spider-Man, and may be Darth Vader's son. Taking all this into account, Gabe may have the potential to be a web-slinging force-adept with the ability to slice things to shreds with a perfectly round tube, to say nothing of the potential synergy between spider-sense and force awareness. He's also the Beta Whisperer.
- Crowd Song: this.
- Dada Comics: Twisp & Catsby.
- The Dark Age of Comic Books: Parodied with a Dark Age-style Comic Jumper comic done by Gabe, and the subsequent Rob Liefeld pose contest for an Xbox with the Dark Age-style Comic Jumper, which Rob Liefeld even entered but lost due to using photoshop and this one won the contest for being 'disturbing and confusing' just like a real Liefeld artwork.
- Dark Age of Supernames: Parodied with Doctor Raven Darktalon Blood.
- Dead Baby Comedy: Tycho made it very clear to Gabe that this was not acceptable.
- Although, Gabe's fairly sure the babies from Dante's Inferno were fair game. After all, those babies must have done some messed up stuff to land in Hell.
- Development Hell: Episode 3 of On the Rainslick Precipice of Darkness was seemingly in this inferno, until the creators said the video game series was over and the storyline would continue as a novel.
- And then subsequently reversed the position, as a new developer took over the third game.
- Did Not Do the Research: Astonishingly (and he apologized for it almost immediately), there was a comic where Tycho became dangerously angry while asserting that Mega Man X was the 10th Classic series game. (It wasn't; the Classic series hadn't even gotten as high as 7 when X was released. The actual Mega Man 10 would be made years after the strip.)
- "The Great Divide" is about how little sense it makes for Peter Molyneux to design Fable 2 for non-gamers. Molyneux actually asked reviewers to play through the game, then get someone who doesn't game a lot to play through, in order to compare the different worlds the two different approaches would yield.
- And this strip mocks the new mutants added in X Men First Class, yet Banshee and Angel Salvadore have been around for quite a while (they may not be the oldest X-Men, but they've been in the continuity for a while).
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: From the rant for October 26th 2009;
It is not a mischaracterization to say that conversations with the hardcore PC community about software theft follow these tenets:
- There is no piracy.
- To the extent that piracy exists, which it doesn't, it's your fault.
- If you try to protect your game, we'll steal it as a matter of principle.
It's like, who wouldn't want to bend over backward in their service? You need to know it, because nobody else is going to tell you: you guys sound like Goddamned subway vagrants.
- Don't Explain the Joke: This strip.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: This strip invokes it for laughs. Subverted since Gabe does not actually have Elmer Fudd Syndrome.
- Epic Fail: Gabe and Tycho use Kinect.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Gabe and Tycho may do horrible things to other people and one another, but they do in fact have limits.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Tycho's explanation of a Mind Flayer.
- Expy: L. H. Franzibald appears to be some unholy combination of Tim Buckley and either L. Ron Hubbard (creator of Scientology) or R. A. Salvatore (creator of Drizz't)-- mostly Tim (and yes it's based on an outfit he wore, sunglasses and all).
- Eye Scream: THIS IS INCREDIBLE
- Fantastic Racism: Their "Spin-Off" series Automata is set in a 1920's noirish universe where racism is saved for robots rather than other humans.
- Filler Strip: The Sketchbook-like updates that happen when the two are at various conventions.
- Fingore: Gabe once legit cut his thumb clear to the bone without even realizing it. In the accompanying strip, Tycho was less than concerned.
- Flat Earth Atheist: Tycho knows that Gabe often hangs out with Jesus (literally; they play video games), but is an atheist.
- The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: their "Error 500" message is as follows:
Thanks a lot.
You broke our website somehow. We are angry. An obliterator-class huntroid has been dispatched.
- Freudian Trio: Notably absent. Tycho typically fills the Superego role and Gabe is pure Id, but there is no Ego. The two are constantly fighting, and nobody cares enough to moderate. Their former roommate, Jim, was explained as filling the role before his death (canonically predating the comic's entire run).
- Fridge Brilliance: Parodied here, for a Take That at Halo.
- Funny Background Event: Inverted here where the event is in the foreground.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Their cat, apparently. Earlier strips had Tycho and Gabe with some extremely futuristic device, with no explanation other than "The cat helped".
- Gagging on Your Words: Gabe in this strip.
- GIFT: The Trope Namer.
- Gilligan Cut: One covering twelve years and an Art Shift.
- Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Heavily implied here.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Often seen when the characters, especially Tycho, are angry. Here's just one of many examples.
- Godwin's Law: Tycho runs afoul of this.
- Gonk: A somewhat more "realistic" drawing of the authors, though exaggerated for comedic effect.
- Go, Ye Heroes, Go and Die: The motto of the Lookouts in the eponymous strip is "May We Die In The Forest".
- Groin Attack: Here, here, here and here.
- Gross Up Close-Up: Gabe's mouth is not a pretty sight.
- Grumpy Bear: Tycho.
- Guest Strip: Rare enough to stand out; one example (necessary because of Gabe's swine flu) was done by Bill Amend.
- "Happy Ending" Massage: This strip
- Deadly Change-of-Heart: Lampshaded here.
- Heroic BSOD: Tycho goes into one when he sees an ad for a place called "Gamez N Flix", which made the always elegant Tycho go mad.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Tycho and Gabe, because they seem to spend a lot more time with each other than with their wives and children, and their periodic forays into sexual experimentation never seem to lead them together.
- In fact, whenever one of them is stripped down to his skivvies or less, the other is outright disgusted.
- Seems to apply to the series creators, too. In case we needed any confirmation, Jerry recently described Mike in a news post as "He's not my friend; he's more like my arm".
- He Who Fights Nerds: "Look at yourself. Look at what you've become."
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Tycho is occasionally mentioned to have had one.
- Hold Your Hippogriffs: Gabe gets pissed off at one of the Star Wars Expanded Universe's worst examples.
- Homoerotic Dream:
Tycho: Are you having another one of your Spider-Man dreams? Oh god...I'm not in it, am I?
- Hot Mom: Arguably, Gabe and Tycho's wives have fallen into this category since, well, becoming moms (before, they were just hot).
- How the Character Stole Christmas
- I Call It Vera: Mall security in Penny Arcade is BAD ASS!
- Hell, he's not even mall security. He's an EBGames manager!
- I Know Mortal Kombat: Parodied here and here.
- I Like Those Odds: "This ain't really fair now, is it? I mean... there's only two of them."
- Imagine Spot
- Impossible Item Drop: Spoofed in this comic.
- Informed Obscenity: One strip showed Microsoft using the Precog-system from Minority Report to predict words that are about to become profanities. The word that gets pulled down is 'Ham Doctor'.
- Interspecies Romance: Sexy, sexy giraffes. Also, jellyfish, birds and aliens.
Tycho: How do you know this super hot ostrich is from my subconscious?
- Internet Counterattack: Jack Thompson got owned...hard.
- Also, if you have a TV or radio show, do not piss Gabe and Tycho off. They will get your advertising pulled.
- See also Ocean Marketing, referenced above, which no longer exists.
- Irony: The team hates game piracy, but both the real and comic Tycho openly admit to torrenting TV shows. And yes, they're self-aware.
- Jesus Is Way Cool: And also "fucking metal".
- Just One More Level: World Of Warcrack reclaims Gabe as he knew it would. (Eventually Tycho succumbed as well.)
Tycho: He's well and truly gone; the Gabriel we knew is dead. He delved too deep and was remade in the hot veins of the Earth. I have heard him suggest that the game is crack, but it's more like all of the ingredients and equipment that you need to make crack, which I'd say is worse. It's like: give a man some crack, and he'll... but if you teach him to make crack, and then... There must be a saying that explains all this, surely.
- Just-So Story: What the tooth fairy does with teeth.
- Kill It with Fire: Effectively the MO of the Gabe's Dungeons & Dragons wizard Jim Darkmagic (of the New Hampshire Darkmagics) in their podcast on the Wizards of the Coast website. Scorching Burst was used to set fire to everything from goblins to zombies to vampires to berserkers to priests to Binwin Bronzebottom, the party's Dwarven Fighter.
- Last-Name Basis: Gabe's first name is Johnathan, but this is of course rarely used.
- Least Rhymable Word: Acquiesce.
- Leave the Camera Running: The guys have described their pacing as a comic adaptation of this idea; many strips have punchlines in the second panel, and the frame will simply stay on the characters a little too long. The third panel will either be a One-Two Punchline, Overly Long Gag, or Reaction Shot
- Life Embellished
- Looming Silhouette of Rage: Found here, along with a Shadow Discretion Shot.
- Lovecraft Lite: Several Eldritch Abomination like beings exists and are taken lightly.
- Luke Nounverber: Jim Darkmagic
- Man On Fire: "I'm not sure that's an effigy."
- Merchandise-Driven: Lampshaded. See The Merch, above.
- Mermaid Problem: Addressed quite directly here.
- MST: Admonishments, found here.
- Multiple Choice Form Letter: Tycho writes one comic this way as he wants to write a comic about the E3 convention before he attends. It results in some pretty hilarious Mad Libs Dialogue.
- My God, What Have I Done?: The first part of the story arc Ripped From Today's Headlines has Tycho accidentally killing his wife when trying out a move from Splinter Cell, and feeling bad for it.
Tycho: Oh my god. Oh my god. Please don't leave me!
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Scott Kurtz of PvP, portrayed as The Rival in some strips, is invariably called "Steve Kuntz" by Gabe and Tycho.
- Nerf Arm: The Cardboard Tube Samurai, which has spawned more than a few instances of the deadly tube showing up in some games.
- Never Say That Again: Gabe evoked this response from Tycho.
- Nightmare Fetishist: Tycho is one. Apparently this trait extends to his real-life persona...
- Ninja Log: Though it is uncertain if Gabe can choose what he leaves behind or if "the log [is an inextricable part of the process]".
- Non-Lethal Warfare: Really weird, considering how often they do Sugar Apocalypses.
- No Medication for Me: Tycho spends a week off Lexapro, and is impressed with what he produced. There was the downside of "wrestling with demons of the mind" though. He contemplates this idea, in The Rant before rejecting it as misinformed. And even if the peaks are still attractive, they don't compensate for the troughs.
- Not What It Looks Like: Tycho jokingly asks if the stains on Gabe's pants are semen. Gabe rebuffs him him by saying these are his painting pants, for an autobiography... which he's painting entirely in his own semen.
- Odd Couple: The bread and butter shtick of the comic. Tycho mocks Gabe's ignorance, Gabe derides Tycho's pretensions. Rinse and repeat.
- Online Alias: Annarchy is of the "hacker" variety. Many MMORPG strips use the "Xtreme Kool Letterz and numbers" variety.
- Our Monsters Are Different: Parodied with the works of L. H. Franzibald, where there are "Hermaphroditic Androgynite" Witchaloks and "Half-wolf, half android" Wolfoids.
- Out-Gambitted: A hilarious example.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: Here, Kolibri is described as "arguably the finest hummingbird-based shooter available for the 32X".
- Overprotective Dad: Anne's parents say she can't date boys until she's married. Wait, what? She also brings out the Overprotective Uncle in Tycho.
- Pals with Jesus: Quite literally. Jesus seems to swing by the house frequently and gets along well with Gabe.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Killographic, used also in Real Life, and stuponfuicous.
- Such words are often used by Tycho when he writes the news posts that accompany comics.
- Perverse Sexual Lust: Displayed with "Angelic Perfection".
- Potty Failure: The result of Gabe wearing his pants backwards like Kris Kross. (see Answer Cut, listed above)
- The Power of Hate: Gabe tells Tycho, "I wish I could hate you to death." And then his nose starts bleeding.
- A Plague on Both Your Houses: See above.
- Pregnant Badass: Gabe's wife Kara, as least according to this post by Tycho:
I'm given to understand that she has the equivalent of Super Strength in this "trimester" or whatever it is called, and has the capacity to deal aggravated damage. Gabriel informed me yesterday that she lifted a car over her head, and threw that car at another car and then climbed up an office building. After a spectacle like that, your discourse tends to bear the proper reverence.
- Product Placement: Surprisingly averted. It's a positively massive webcomic, with thousands of readers and big-name advertisers. Yet, if they mention a game in a positive light, they're playing it and having fun. In fact, some companies don't advertise there, simply because the mention of their game in Penny Arcade is publicity enough.
- Purple Prose: Tycho's newsposts, so much. Avoid them if you don't like words.
- Putting the Band Back Together: Tycho and Gabe (and Ben) after falling out, and the Troperiffic faux-movie example from "Paint The Line":
G-man: You're a hard man to find, Mr. Brahe.
Tycho: Not hard enough.
- Race Lift: Parodied here
- The Rant
- Red Eyes, Take Warning:
- Refuge in Audacity
- Retconning the Wiki: There's a strip where Skeletor can be seen vandalizing the He-Man and the Masters of the Universe page on Wikipedia... here
- The Rival: Scott Kurtz of PvP. In reality he has collaborated with the boys many times, but in the strip he inevitably gets dubbed 'Scott Kuntz' and Misblamed for anything controversial. Scott now lives in Seattle and works out of the Penny Arcade office.
- Robot Buddy: Div, subverted. Although if you wanna get technical, Div isn't really a robot so much as he is a personification.
- The Fruit Fucker is arguably a different kind of subversion.
- Rooting for the Empire: Tycho in this strip towards the zombies of The Walking Dead.
- Rule of Cool: Why does Penny Arcade think you should get Prototype?
- Rule 34: For the New Year, the guys have resolved to quit bizarre Internet porn (Tycho... coldturkeys.com?) and quit jacking off to the jellyfishes in the local aquarium (Gabe).
- Running Gag:
- How many times have they killed each other and stolen that Pac Man watch from the corpse?
- The repeated jokes that Gabe is secretly gay (especially for Spider-Man): 1
- Their comic counterpart's obsession with penises. But not in a gay way. (Examples forthcoming, probably too numerous to list)
- Stem cell research.
- Comic!Gabe's obsession with ponies. 1
- Comic!Gabe's OCD in relation to Star Wars trivia.
- Their aversion to exercise and/or healthy living.
- Pokémon as disposable living weapons.
- Comic!Tycho's weird fetishes: 1, 2
- Comic!Gabe's cybering adventures: 1
- Reporter Randy Pinkwood 1
- Sarcastic Confession: "He's absolutely right. I'm constantly going to the store to buy things I hate."
- Bearing in mind that it is, to a greater or lesser extent, his job to do so. Comic!Tycho was speaking to a penchant for doing so of his own volition, independent of any sort of obligation.
- Schedule Slip: Relentlessly avoided. Things that would cause multiple-week delays for other comics cause single-day delays for PA. They ran the first guest strip in recent history, because Gabe was physically unable to move a pen when it was time to draw the day's comic. Specifically, because he had swine flu. And the first guest strip set a precedent for the others by being done by Bill Amend. And just for fun, some of the guest strips were "Gabe gets swine-flu"-themed.
- In fact, swine flu was the only time Gabe and Tycho were unable to produce a strip since the series began. Tycho did three MS Paint horrorpieces, but in ten years, that's it.
- Second Law, My Ass: The Fruit Fucker, and Div.
- Self-Deprecation: Pretty often, both in the comic and Tycho's missives, notably when Tycho explains the nature of Stylistic Suck.
Tycho: "Making something that is bad on purpose - and not bad inadvertently, which is my usual process - is a whole-body thrill."
- Tycho and Gabe teach schoolkids how to make comic strips:
Boy: Miss, what's a cartoonists?
Teacher: Cartoonists are society's waste products.
- Serious Business: Ping-pong.
- Leaches into real life, as Penny Arcade Company frequently hosts ping-pong tournaments at their offices against game developers and reviewers. This has led to some instances of calling out that have backfired. Especially with regards to SOE.
- Also, Warcraft games. One of the strips has Gabe mentioning having a glass eye as the result of a Warcraft 2 game that got out of hand.
- Shadow Discretion Shot: Found here, along with a Looming Silhouette of Rage.
- Shell Shocked Senior: Frank.
- Shoehorned First Letter: In this comic about Kirby.
General: We call it the Kinetic Ingestion Regulator Bio-Yorganism.
Meta Knight: Yorganism?
General: Y is kind of a tricky letter.
- Single-Issue Landlord: The premise of "That's so locust!"
- Slasher Smile: Gabe gets a horrifying one when the comic's popularity happens to cause trouble for Ocean Marketing.
- Slice of Life: In more recent years, as the guys have started having families, these sort of strips have started to happen occasionally. An example.
- Snap Back
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Div.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Some days, it's some of the most erudite commentary on videogame culture out there. Other days, it's a series of knob gags. That's not even when it's "Semen Week".
- Tycho. For a man with that big of a vocabulary, he sure does love using the F word. For example, "Things, Part Two".
- In "The Verdict": "On the charge of manslaughter, we the jury find the defendant, Jonathan Gabriel, not guilty. Furthermore, the jury believes the deceased totally had it coming to him, on the account of the bogus shit he said about 'Jesse's Girl'."
- All of "The Case Of Texas vs. CryoLord".
- So Long and Thanks For All the Gear: Referenced in this strip
- Something Completely Different: Here.
- El Spanish-O: In "The Ruse", Gabe tries to use this as part of a Paper-Thin Disguise.
- Species Surname: You'd think that Catsby was the dapper cat, yes, and thus the demon Twisp? Subverted.
- Spin-Off: They attempted to make a Jim Darkmagic comic arc, which seemed to involve him and his stage performances going horribly wrong. It was however, voted down. Probably due to the fact that "That wasn't Jim Darkmagic! Jim Darkmagic only ever rolls natural 20s! He's seven feet tall with red hair and eyes like the sun!"
- Also due to the fact that, as great as the Jim Darkmagic's (of the New Hampshire Darkmagics) strip was, the even more amazing alternatives -- Automata and Lookouts -- crushed it in in the voting, with Lookouts winning by a small margin (all three concepts are going to be revisited anyway, they just wanted to know what order readers would like).
- They've since presented another round of potential spinoffs like Sand and Queen of Bells. One, The New Kid, has already been optioned for a movie.
- Springtime for Hitler: Twisp and Catsby, which Gabe and Tycho intended to be so horrible that nobody would enjoy it. They became immensely popular instead, much to the creators' disbelief, and remain a favorite when they want to do something surrealistic.
- One of the appearances of the Victorian duo was a children's book written for one of their kids, in fact.
- Stealth Pun / Visual Pun : This strip. It's a riff on the show "Hoarders," and they're members of the Horde.
- Stylistic Suck: L. H. Franzibald.
- The "solo comics" from when they supposedly fell out with each other: Tycho's is erudite but very poorly drawn; Gabe's is well-drawn but is just three unconnected panels of terrible thing happening to Tycho.
- Gabe's writing has improved to the point of having a Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot by the time Tycho joins the writer's strike.
- Tycho's own words on the matter of this trope:
Gabe: "Check it out! Spider-Man gave me his blood! I got a blood transfusion from Spider-Man!"
It's like when you download something off BitTorrent - something legal!!! - and the client begins by creating an entire empty file to contain the wholly legitimate, fully licensed content you are grabbing from an authorized source.
- Take That: Among the usual ones to specific video games, most biting uses are usually towards the likes of Jack Thompson and Tim Buckley.
Tycho: I think Tim Buckley is the antichrist, and I think that miscarriage storyline was the first horseman of the Apocalypse.
- Earlier than that, they created rampant plagiarist and egotistical hack author L. H. Franzibald as a facsimile of him. (examples: 1, 2)
- "For Jack Thompson, because Jack Thompson won't."
- But subverted here - "I don't know what the fuck you're talking about."
- PAX 2011 was criticized for allowing Duke Nukem Forever booth babes (who were playing, more or less, actual women from the game), on the grounds that it was demeaning and objectifying. PAX 2012 was criticized for asking a scantily-clad official cosplayer playing the main character of Lollipop Chainsaw to tone down her outfit, on the grounds that the organizers were threatened by female sexuality or were "anti-fun" or were hypocritical because they allowed scantily-clad cosplayers. Mike's response was not positive.
How about all of you that hate me get together and have your own conference. I need you to decide if half naked girls are empowered or exploited because I’m doing my fucking best here and it’s apparently always wrong. I swear to God I don’t understand how I’m supposed to know if I’m promoting the patriarchy or criminalizing the female body.
- Swapped Roles: For the Rule of Funny. Gabe plays the Straight Man while Tycho does a faux Cloudcuckoolander impression, but they immediately revert back by the third panel.
- The Talk: This.
- Technology Marches On: Inevitable considering how long the strip has run. Some ideas are reinvented to suit new mores - the Fruit Fucker 5000 was originally a parody of the rambling cable-TV gadget advertisements popular in The Nineties, but has since moved on to parody Apple's range of iProducts.
- Tears of Blood: In response to a slideshow.
- They Changed It, Now It Sucks: In-universe; Gabe disapproves of D&D Essentials:
- Toilet Humor: Quite a few strips, but here are some of the most notable examples.
- Also, in this strip, Tycho appears to be sitting on the toilet.
- Too Dumb to Live: Geez, Tycho. Did you have to use a sharp knife to cut a banana?
- True Companions: Gabriel is not my friend, he's more like my arm.
- Trust Me, I'm an X: "It's okay, I'm a dentist."
- Two Gamers on a Couch: The Ur Example.
- "The Villain Sucks" Song: Open Mic Night.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Combined with Overly Long Gag in this strip about Gabe having motion sickness when playing Mirror's Edge.
- Wall of Text: I Hope You Like Text.
- What Could Have Been: Olympus, an actual dream of both of them, is an arcade utopia which will never come to fruition because neither Gabe or Tycho have millions and millions of dollars.
Gabe: Imagine it's like a really classy Dave and Busters, like with dark hardwood bars, glass rooms full of high-end audio and video equipment ... Khoo said not yet.
Tycho: He said we didn't have a million dollars.
- Both Jerry and Mike have said that without Robert Khoo, their business manager, they would have sold themselves into slavery for what, at the time, would have seemed like a really good idea. For example: their book rights.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The basis of the Automata storyline
- Wild Mass Guessing: Combined with Intercontinuity Crossover here.
- With Friends Like These...: Gabe and Tycho.
- Write Who You Know
- X Days Since...: here
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: Tycho does not like these.