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She doesn't waste time – She recycles it.
Times Like This is a webcomic created by Thomas Overbeck. It is, as the author puts it succinctly, a webcomic "about time travel, and all the fun and interesting stuff involved with it. It's also about lampooning historical figures and speculating humorously on current celebrities."
In short – it's a "Comedy of Eras."
The main character is Cassie Wells (whose name is doubly appropriate, all things considered), a young female genius who discovers the ability to travel through time. She works at a high-tech lab in the Dallas area specializing in Nanotechnology.
She has two friends helping her with her travels: Matt Gahan, an electronics expert whom Cassie befriended when he worked at the travel agency next door; and her best friend from school, Bethany Gibson.
She lives in the greater Dallas area along with Bethany, her pet dinosaur Mascus, and her MIRA-7 robot, named Nicki Darling. (Yes, exactly what you're thinking - Matt came up with the last name, and she wasn't too thrilled about it.)
Her travels are "monitored" by the Federal government - but not how you'd expect. Agent Keith Scott has been assigned by the FBI to keep tabs on her - and help her keep her secret.
- A Little Something We Call "Rock and Roll":
- Adventures in the Bible: Cassie witnesses firsthand the birth of Jesus, while Matt has some fun with the dead, decapitated Goliath.
- Affectionate Parody: Examples include the cast discussing what could've happened in Star Wars or Gilligan's Island; the cast re-enacting the opening to a TV show; or various commercials redone with historical figures.
- Amulet of Concentrated Awesome: The time machine itself.
- Art Evolution: Compare and contrast a crude, unevenly drawn strip from 2007... and a more refined work in 2012. (And at times, the author may pull a George Lucas and retool an earlier strip if he thinks the end product really sucked in hindsight.)
- Art Shift: Thanks to guest artist Halo Seraphim, Cassie looks quite artistically different once she arrives in Japan.
- Ascended Extra: Philip Webber started out as a casual acquaintance on a Second Life-ish virtual world. After an in-person meet-up and various arguments, breakups and near-death experiences, he's become Cassie's steady boyfriend... and as a result showed up on the cast page by the end of 2011.
- Author Avatar: The creator showing up at a comic convention or a renaissance festival.
- Barbie Doll Anatomy: Nicki. She's not a sexbot, you see.
- Big Damn Heroes: Cassie's not thrilled about this trope from the start.
- Brain Bleach: What Bethany's wanting after Cassie describes herself getting intimate with Uncle Miltie. (Which leads to a Big "Shut Up!".)
- Butterfly of Doom: What happens if Cassie tells someone about the time machine, and they can't keep the secret? This.
- Call Back: There've been a few "repeated scenes" in the comic; one of them happening to be Cassie's first day at TerCon.
- Clothes Make The Pooper-Man: ANED-enhanced underwear in 2071.
- Cosplay: Or at least that's what people THINK all those costumes in her garage are.
- David Versus Goliath: The actual original showdown. And Matt's a witness.
- Drag Queen: Matt as the original "Sweet Transvestite".
- Elaborate Underground Resort: Paratopia!
- Entendre Failure: Matt, in the Old West, tells a saloon belle she could "pull a train". Guess what she does.
- Explain, Explain, Oh Crap: Cassie's father breaks up a fight between her and her mother. ...and brings up his wife's cancer sooner than intended.
- Ethical Slut: Cassie. And she states her case here.
- Feghoot: Cassie tells a tale of her old classmate Eli, which turns into a Shout-Out to Pearls Before Swine creator Stephan Pastis.
- Fish Out of Temporal Water: Cassie tends to subvert this, mostly because of her large cosplay collection.
- Free-Love Future: Nicki's seen the future... and after the human incubator is invented, there's another sexual revolution.
- Genre Savvy: Cassie knows pretty much from the day she began time traveling that she needed to keep it a secret. Agent Scott just helped things along.
- Gilligan Cut: Subverted in the Christmas Tree search of 2009 (which is also a subtle example of Who Writes This Crap?!).
- Giving Radio to the Romans: Ever wonder how Robin Hood managed to shoot arrows with such great accuracy?
- Green Rock: Literally.
- The Gump: (or what the author likes to call "Gumpification") Sometimes Cassie or Matt accidentally do this, with the result ending up as inspiration for a pop song, the wording of a document, or a fad.
- Historical In-Joke: The overriding theme of the comic.
- Hot Scientist: Cassie, of course. Not to mention she's a former Teen Genius who graduated high school two years early, and got her Master's Degree in Physics only five years later.
- It Will Never Catch On: Examples include Cassie suggesting "Twilight" elements to the author of "Dracula", telling Devo in 1980 they'll one day do kiddie-show music or giving a network show idea to a past executive of the same network.
- Keeping Secrets Sucks: Many a time to Cassie, especially after it forced her to break up with both Chad and Allen.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "Oh please... It's not even worthy of a half-assed COMIC STRIP!"
- Little People Are Surreal: Agent Scott.
- The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Cassie can attest to this, especially with her relationships with exes Chad and Allen. She subverts it in other ways, of course.
- Master of Disguise: Agent Scott.
- Men in Black: Agent Scott again. Complete with neuralyzer.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: It's not "pocket rocket" action, Cassie's just wetting her panties in the car! ...wait, what?
- Nerds Are Sexy: Come on; a hot babe like her with a pink camisole under a lab coat, talking about having sex on a conference table?
- Potty Failure: Subverted in the "Cassandra's Secret" storyline. In the future, everyone will poop their pants... but their nanotech-enhanced underwear will instantly vaporize the excrement.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: Two! Instances!
- Reality Is Unrealistic: When she describes the future to people in the present... or past. (See also Retroactive Precognition.)
- Robot Buddy: The ever-versatile Nicki.
- Running Gag: Cassie the Sooner vs. Rodney the Longhorn.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Subverted in the story arc with Jake Holland and Vietnam, but played straight with the rescue of Joan of Arc using a realistic human-looking movie prop. Also with the rescue of her boyfriend Philip.
- Shout-Out: Cassie uses the passcode "Rufus" for her fembot, Nicki. She also uses the names of other famous time travelers, like Doc (Emmett) Brown, Jules Verne, and, of course, H. G. Wells.
- Sorry to Interrupt: Cassie's home, so she goes back in time to get an extra few hours of sleep. ...and catches Matt & Bethany in bed.
- Speechbubbles Interruption: A couple of examples:
- Take Your Time: The whole story arc surrounding the purchase of her house is an example of this.
- Technology Marches On: Strips set in the future are full of things like holographic interfaces, holographic clothing, Net-Paper and battery tape.
- Temporal Paradox: Somewhat subverted. Cassie isn't afraid to "meet" herself in the past... with all the squick that comes along with that.
- Time Travel: Of course.
- Time Travel for Fun and Profit: Of course, of course. It is how Cassie funds many of her travels... and you know how bad inflation could get in the future.
- Time Travel Tense Trouble: "...has will have been visited..."
- Unobtainium: AKA Sesquicentium, the "rock" that drives the time machine.
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Thanks to Ready Remedy vending machines, dispensing medicine that completely cures over 25,000 ailments.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Bethany's initial reaction to Cassie trapping Agent Scott in the 16th century.