Unfortunate Implications/Web Comics

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Important Note: Just because a work has Unfortunate Implications does not mean the author was thinking of it that way. In fact, that's the point of it being unfortunate. So, please, no Justifying Edits about "what the authors really meant." The way an author handles a trope is an important factor here; handling a trope in a clumsy manner can certainly create unintentional impressions for readers. Likewise, if a work intends the offensive message (for example, a piece of Nazi propaganda about Jews), it wouldn't count. Also, for something that may not be offensive to you personally but may offend others in a different culture or time period, see Values Dissonance.

Examples of Unfortunate Implications/Web Comics include:

  • Penny and Aggie seems to have problems with fat characters being evil. Tharqa and Karen, the only major characters who are overweight, are venial, selfish and petty. A good number of skinny Jerkasses exist as well, but these two are singled out for having more negative traits than most. Especially Karen, whose entire arc started with Penny helping her to be a more attractive and confident person... which turned her into a sadistic popularity craving psychopath that required Penny and Aggie to take down. So the moral would appear to be, "Don't rise above your station in life," or "Don't help ugly people — they'll only stab you in the back."
    • Yun-Sung's first appearance in the epilogue and the first time she was shown in the strip proper (and the first time drawn by Jason Waltrip) showed her for an entire page with her eyes shut. This led some readers to conclude she was being shown with stereotypical slanted eyes based on her nationality. Her remaining appearances showed her with normal Asian eyes, but the time between the initial updates led this to turn into a small firestorm.
  • Ctrl+Alt+Del has a number of these:
    • Ethan seems to show more emotion over Zeke, the robot who hates humans a la Bender and HK-47, leaving than Lilah's miscarriage to the point of making Rob wear a Zeke mask. This is never addressed.
    • The culmination of Christian's arc is Lilah apologizing to Ethan because she was acting so emotional and distant over, what was it again? Oh right, the miscarriage of their unborn child.
    • Ethan and Lilah's marriage vows. Lilah's vows break down to putting Ethan first in everything and committing herself to him fully. Ethan only has to "try his best".
    • Women generally in the comic have their existences revolving around the needs of men. When women do wrong, they must take the full blame, but when men do wrong, it's just supposed to be accepted as unchangeable. Women must be attractive and hot, but men can be any size or shape. The character of Kate gets dragged through both of these arcs, as Lucas only dated her for real when he found out she wasn't fat, and despite Lucas making their relationship open, he forced her to take the full blame for seeing another person when he decided arbitrarily that he wanted to date her exclusively.
      • Women of note:

Lilah: Extreme Doormat Love Martyr who seems more like Ethan's mommy than his wife
Kate (Peek-a-Bangs redhead): Tricked Lucas (seee above) and when she agrees with him to have an "open relationship" he stops short of sleeping with someone and is an honorable man; she has the nerve to take advantage of it so she's a cheating whore
Abby: Gently Manipulative Bitch and blatant copyright violation
Lucas girlfriend who looked like Shego: Wanted to kill him for his money
Christian's plant at the game store (also possibly the only Asian person of note, unless "Shego" was a ninja): Hits on Ethan so Christian can take incriminating photos (feels sorry about it later)
Ethan's original girlfriend: She hated videogames for some reason (something about wanting attention?) so obviously she's a terrible person
Ethan's mom: Shows blatant favoritism towards Ethan's big brother Rory even while Ethan's getting married
Embla, Zeke's mate: Sincerely wants to destroy humans and thinks Zeke is weak for even vaguely liking one runs out of power and when she can't be fixed is nearly dumped in the recycling bin; now resides in an anonymous box in the attic.

    • Ethan making Zeke -- an unhuman, anti-human, former inanimate object and posession of Ethan's -- into a black man. A black man who can't talk in public because his mouth doesn't work and whose appearance is just to set-up a mildly racist joke about how black!Zeke will stand out at the movies because black people can't keep quiet in the theater (huh?). This wouldn't have been so bad if A) there were other recurring ethnic characters and this kind of joking was common a la Scrubs, B) it took three edits to de-race-ify the "punchline", C) the author didn't further mention that he never made fun of other races or religions (cue the hatedom finding comics on "Chinese Gold Farmers" and Lucas daring the established religions to debunk Wintereenmas without compromising their own), and D) keep a link to the original offending comic.
    • Ethan declaring Primae noctis on Lilah's Star Wars beta because now that they're married her property is now his to rape, apparently. Lilah doesn't take him seriously, but she doesn't let him play out of revenge for something he did when they first met (no, it wasn't groping her breasts to see if she's really a girl nor slamming the door in her face when she invited him to a LAN party... as an apology for punching him when he groped her).
  • Dominic Deegan: Oracle for Hire has an entire arc of worldbuilding and random fantasy races. The audience is introduced to Bort, one of the "Mongrelfolk", a race of hybrids that look like patchwork people (for lack of a better explaination) due to the high levels of magic in the food they eat. A race of people is referred to as the area's "greatest mystery" and "extremely rare" as if they're some form of exotic bird, and Dominic squees about the fact that he actually gets to help the mysterious foreign creature garden. He spends the whole time geeking out and gleefully questioning Bort, who chooses to communicate via misspelled pidgin written on wooden signs rather than speaking out loud, and doesn't seem perturbed at all. Dominic's tour guide (who granted is a Jerkass in most other things) is the one who tells him to shut up and "stop treating him like the catch of the century," albeit more out of annoyance with Dominic than respect with Bort.
    • The relevant strips start here. When you respectfully question someone on their way of life, you're a journalist or scholar. When you're loudly blissing out in front of someone because the activity you are engaging in is not special or rare, but the person is, you're not acting like a scholar. You're acting like a bug collector, and you're not treating them like a person.
    • The second line might charitably be called a prescient Lampshade Hanging: "Someone else we've managed to offend? Probably."
  • Exiern. Which is ironic, since many of the women in this fiction are rather modern and empowered. Due to a side-effect of Tiffany's curse of being turned into a women, it seems she is more or less feminine in appearance depending on her self-image, stopping when it reaches an ideal. Tiffany being a barbarian, has the ideal of women mainly for marriage and breeding.
    • Also lampshaded after the curse turns her from her normal barbarian girl physique into something closer to, well... not a barbarian:

Tiffany: I may be weak and useless, but at least my body can take a lot of punishment. (Meaning either abuse or pregnancy, depending on how it's read)
Tiffany: Not sure I like the implications of that...

  • Shortpacked! lampshades this trope in this strip
  • The otherwise hilarious Buttlord GT falls headlong with this trope due to its gaybashing, though averts it noticably near the end of the comic; the only sympathetic relationship in the comic is the explicitly gay one, complete with Squee moment at the end. Still, it's hard NOT to read homophobia into a comic named "Buttlord."
  • Depending on how sensitive you are, the ethnic and gender jokes at Polk Out. It's not quite that bad because it's not played seriously and Polk is a social misfit.
  • Of Snakes and Apples is based on the biblical creation story. Lillith, her mate Samyaza, the two angels that show up, Adam and GOD are white. Only the ignorant and naive Eve, who has been created for the benefit of Adam, is black (But Not Too Black, what with the white hair).
  • In Kit N Kay Boodle, anyone who likes wearing clothes outside work uniforms in Yiffburg (or just prefers not to have anonymous sex in public while on mind-altering substances) is treated as being oppressed or somehow deviant, and must be either converted to the Yiffy way of life or destroyed as directed by the Gods of Yiff, of whom the main characters are avatars. They're like Sugar Bowl Furry Chick tracts.
    • Not to mention, how the hell is it possible to safely raise a child there? This troper doesn't personally think that merely seeing sexual behaviour is bad for a child in itself, but when they see it everywhere and it's treated like something you have to do, Yiffburg starts to seem like child molester heaven ...
      • And then there's the Queen Serena arc [1]. The intended plot: An infantilist is sexually pleasured through a psychic connection she wasn't aware of, in order to save Yiffburg from some kind of harmful contract agreement by forcing her lawyers to leave the room, and having been awakened to yiffing, yiffs for her own pleasure. What actually happens: A woman with the mind of a child is raped so that her lawyers can be framed for the crime, and becomes sexually promiscuous in response to the trauma.
  • The Wotch and its spin-off comic Cheer! seem to imply that it's better to be a girl than a guy, given Mingmei (who regains her former personality as the older male Eco teacher and is promptly convinced by said former personality that it would be better if the two personalities merged and kept the young female body), the four cheerleaders (who were Jerk Jocks when they were male and much happier and friendly as cheerleaders), and Jason Grey preferring to be "Sonja". Although Irene does enjoy being in her boyfriend's body more than her own and Peter Hall is quite unhappy having been turned into a white girl against his will.
  • Parodied in Ansem Retort (which isn't that politically correct in the first place) when Zexion noticed that IHOP's Happy Face Pancake kinda looks like blackface. He responds by yelling "FUCK YOU RACIST PANCAKE!"
  • The Liberation arc in Living With Insanity had a fair few. Here's my favourite.
  • In Collar 6, Sixx drugged Laura without her knowledge or consent. This quickly led to an Author's Saving Throw.
  • This Cat and Girl strip. If the sexes are a Mercator projection (as Girl thinks), does that mean pure masculinity / femininity (i.e. the poles) are something cold, unimportant and uncomfortable?
    • If the sexes are the north and south poles (as Boy thinks), does that mean pure masculinity / femininity (i.e. the poles) are something cold, unimportant and uncomfortable? (Edit: This is meant to point out that both sides within the page have that problem, not to support the unfortunate-ness of the implications.)
      • If the sexes are projected onto a globe of the Earth, what does this imply about each country? Is the UK more feminine than Brazil? There is a massive flotsam of discarded plastic in the Pacific Ocean - does this imply that the masculinity/femininity number on that location is useless pollution? The Earth is actually an oblate spheroid. What does this imply about the metaphor? Since this is the sexes projected onto a globe of Earth, does this mean that only Earth beings have sexes? Is this biased against genderless Earth creatures? What does this imply about the saying that "Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus"?
  • A somewhat-meta example in Megatokyo. Comic creator Fred Gallagher has said that the lead, Piro, was based on himself--with his sassy conscience based on his wife (back then, his fiance). Piro is pursued/lusted after by several girls, one of which is a schoolgirl, and yet the character representing/based on his wife is just a bitchy ball-buster and they two barely even interact these days. ...there something you wanna tell us, Fred?
    • Although as much of a ball-buster as she is, Seraphim is still pretty sympathetic given what a dip Piro was at the beginning of the strip and how her higher-ups gave her very little support.
    • ...yeah, because someone giving the advice of "No, you were right to stand up for yourself to the woman you loved. Even though she was upset, she really crossed a line" is quite a bitch. Piro simply needs less social help these days.
  • Just the name of Innies and Outties has Unfortunate Implications when you consider that the main characters are a little girl and a little boy.
  • Remedy opens as a humorous comic about a superhero with a pet cat. After sparsely setting the scene, the webcomic almost immediately sends the protagonist to Iraq (on "vacation.") This then leads to an extremely long flashback to the Gulf War, when the hero was a sergeant in the US Army. The depictions of Iraqis are often greedy, demanding, or conspicuously religious: an Iraqi playing D&D makes a comment about "smiting orc infidels." Adding to the discomfort is that while the comic has definitely plunged into some serious subject matter, it hasn't fully succumbed to Cerebus Syndrome - wisecracks about death are interspersed with an Iraqi woman committing seppuku to restore her family's honor.
  • The trolls in Homestuck are all naturally bisexual due to Bizarre Alien Reproduction. Yet, in the comic, the only trolls who have shown concupiscent interest in both sexes are Karkat, Vriska, Eridan (who is portrayed as being desperate to the point where he no longer considers murderous sociopathy a turn-off) and arguably Equius (whose interest in Gamzee is played for incredibly squicky comedy and grounded in his class-based Dominance/submission fetishes). All other trolls have only shown interest in hooking up with the opposite sex (with the exception of Kanaya and more recently Gamzee, who has only shown interest in male trolls), even though canon repeatedly states Everyone Is Bi.
    • Karkat, Vriska, Eridan, Gamzee, Equius and Kanaya - half the trolls have expressed romantic interest in the same sex. If all trolls are bisexual, this is statistically what we'd expect. Not sure if troll bisexuality has unfortunate implications.
    • While Kanaya is generally considered to be a really positive and nuanced portrayal of a Lipstick Lesbian, some find her sexuality problematic in that she represents Virgo, and is associated with chastity with her lusus being a celibate Mother Grub (a grub involved in troll reproduction), and her inventory being the Chastity Modus which 'locks her items up' so that they can't be used until they're 'ready'. She also freaks out most out of all the trolls when shown what her culture thinks of as sexual paraphernalia. Combined with this, her lesbianism falls into the offensive trope that lesbian sex is somehow less 'sex' than any type of sex involving penises. In addition to this, Kanaya is a literal Lesbian Vampire, which obviously plays off an older and more offensive portrayal of lesbians.
    • The treatment of male homosexuality is also rather problematic; often male/male homosexuality has been played for laughs/squick. Worse, prior to Act 6, the only male characters who have shown actual redrom interest in another male are Eridan and Gamzee. These are also the two trolls who go on murderous rampages and have the fewest redeeming qualities.
    • In Act 6, however, Dirk's romantic attraction to Jake has never been played for laughs. Jake even takes the former's advances so seriously that he questions his own sexuality. Generally, the alpha human's treatment of homosexuality has been without stereotypes.
    • Another example that lies more in the fandom than in the comic proper is the disturbingly large number of fans who believe that Tavros thoroughly deserved everything Vriska put him through, including paralyzing him, telling him to apologize for being disabled, forcing herself on him, and finally killing him when it became clear that he didn't reciprocate her feelings. Imagine if the genders were reversed...
      • Don't forget those fans whose dislike of Feferi stemmed from when she broke off her emotionally draining relationship with Eridan (kind of a pseudo-Nice Guy) when he wanted a switch to the most traditionally-romantic-to-humans quadrant, and later pursued a relationship with Sollux. Not so bad, perhaps, except when someone insists Eridan killing her was therefore justified or deserved.
    • The comic also has an instance in which Vriska's ancestor uses mind control to force a slave into having sex with her in front of her rival. In-universe, this is viewed as a horrible crime that ruins the lives of everyone involved. Outside of universe, by the author's admission, the scene is intended to be viewed as Fetish Fuel.
  • This was invoked purposefully on one occasion by Eight Bit Theater. When Bahamut decides that Red Mage and Black Mage are Fighter's slaves, and Fighter starts referring to Red Mage as Red Slave, Black Mage points out that this would make him black slaGOOD NIGHT, EVERYBODY!
  • Possibly invoked in The Order of the Stick, but the instances of the trope usually play out with a bit of lampshading. Generally these are in-universe examples perpetrated by characters rather than examples of the author (appearing) to make an implication by how the narrative plays out. When the world was recreated by the gods after The Snarl unmade the first world, the gods decided to create semi-races like orcs and goblins and such, so their followers could level up. This would be...okay (as being a higher level obviously, y'know, keeps you alive longer), but the gods made the orcs and goblins, etc, sentient. Meaning, of course, that the goblins had the potential to learn (and, as we learn in Start of Darkness, did learn) that they only exist to allow level ups for player races like dwarves, humans, elves...
    • Also in this webcomic, on several occasions people have assumed that Elan (blond hair, pale skin) is the leader of the party instead of Roy (dark skin). Partially justified in that: a. In-universe fighters like Roy are considered too stupid to lead a party, b. Elan is confused with, or assumed to be like, his considerably smarter identical Evil Twin or father, both leaders of similar groups, c. Roy has had several morally ambiguous moments, and even a What the Hell, Hero? for briefly abandoning his friends, whilst Elan constantly acts like a "classical" hero because he's just too innocent and simple minded to consider doing something else, and d. For a long period in the comic; Roy was dead, Haley (second in command) was trapped halfway around the world with the team's Heroic Comedic Sociopath Belkar, and Vaarsuvius, their wizard, had more or less gone mad, leaving Elan and Durkon the only vaguely capable members left.
  • El Goonish Shive has the infamous party arc. One of the major subplots is Nanase's Coming Out Story, where she needs to learn that it's neither healthy nor beneficial to live in denial of your sexuality, whether it be for difficult circumstances or mere convenience. At the same party, two canonically bisexual characters, Grace and Ellen, adopt a monosexual identity (straight and lesbian, respectively) because of difficult circumstances. And mere convenience. There were many who weren't amused.
    • Which further leads into the unfortunate implication that (according to the internet) bisexuals are unable to be in monogamous relationships because it "denies their sexuality".
  • Ménage à 3: Zii has a habit of tossing people into sexual situations, violating people, and otherwise violates personal boundaries willy-nilly. The audience is supposed to be on her side, and she's never punished for it. In fact, she doesn't even think she'd be. This is in addition to the rest of the fanservice and stereotypes in the comic. For more, see the comic's YMMV page, and this review, and this review.
  • Chainsawsuit got a character who's an expert on these things. It looks like his life isn't easy.
  • Moon Over June is about two gay women and their sex lives, and later in the strip both of them become pregnant and have children, and several times have sex right in front of them. The unfortunate part is that this exact situation is often used by opponents of gay parenthood and adoption to argue why gays shouldn't have children, and the comic plays right into it.
  1. Serena being a borrowed character from the long-running Buddies In Big Places