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How to Die Like Gravity Falls: Friendship is Dragons vs. Darths and Droids


Lorekitten

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Obligatory warning: this article contains some plot spoilers for the webcomics Friendship is Dragons and Darths and Droids.

Spoiler

There's a saying among adult fans of children's animation: "You either die like Gravity Falls, or you live long enough to see yourself become Spongebob." While the statement at face value is a false dichotomy (the DuckTales reboot, for instance, somehow managed to do both, but I've already done my article about that), comparing the recent ending of the My Little Pony webcomic Friendship is Dragons to the continuing saga of the Star Wars webcomic Darths and Droids, this claim clearly has merit.

To those of you not familiar with the "popular franchise reimagined as a DnD-style roleplay campaign" subgenre of webcomic, Darths and Droids is a long-running screencap comic created by the Comic Irregulars portraying a ragtag team of eclectic individuals roleplaying a space opera while also dealing with interplayer drama and other real-life issues on the side. While not the first of its kind (it was largely inspired by DM of the Rings, which is pretty self-explanatory), it went on to inspire many other similar projects, including Friendship is Dragons, a webcomic based around the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series. But while Darths and Droids still continues to this day (at the time of this writing, it's midway through its adaptation of The Last Jedi), Friendship is Dragons recently ended due to the writer, NewbieSpud, deciding to move on in life.

Originally, I was disappointed that FiD was ending, as I loved the comic very much and wanted to see it continue. But in hindsight, sometimes it's better to just let something come to a natural end rather than drag it on and on long past its expiration date. Heck with it, one could easily argue that the very show that FiD is based on suffered from being kept on life support; I haven't seen the later seasons, but from what I've heard, they're not very good. It was probably inevitable that a show originally conceived to sell colorful toy animals to little girls would eventually go down that route, but it's still a shame that they crafted something special enough to sprout an entire cultural movement around it and it fell off as badly as it did in the middle of its run.

Perhaps the best example of a franchise that needed to ride off into the sunset years ago but didn't is Despicable Me. While I did enjoy the three numbered titles, the first Minions film lacked the heart of the original films, and the second lacked anything remotely resembling a plotline; it was basically a series of events that happened sequentially for some reason, all wrapped up in a heaping overdose of 70's nostalgia and, in my personal opinion, too many brief glimpses of naked butts. I most assuredly did NOT need a kid Gru shower scene, thank you very much. Despicable Me is the poster child for milking a franchise to death, and I'm not exactly excited to see what Despicable Me 4 has to offer.

Friendship is Dragons, on the other hand, went out gracefully. Sure, there was the long-running and highly contentious Discord storyline, and I won't even try to sum up that one except to say that it's a good example of how not every GM works well with every group and how lack of communication and clear boundaries can utterly wreck a collaborative effort. But in the end, while Spud did have a lot more ideas as to where the story could move on from there (which are hinted at in the finale), ultimately FiD ended on a high note, showing the players and the GM both moving on with their lives and the project itself growing into something bigger than any of them could have imagined.

Contrast that with Darths and Droids, which in my opinion has finally worn out its welcome.

Now, to be absolutely clear, I love Darths and Droids. The first six episodes plus Rogue One remain peak webcomic content. And if you like how they handled the sequel series thus far, power to ya. It's just that, ironically (or perhaps fittingly, considering the source material), the series has suffered from the uncomfortable position of having reached the perfect point to end on a high note... and kept going regardless. Whatever you may think about the canon sequel trilogy (The Last Jedi was flawed, yes, but it's still easily the best Star Wars movie Disney has ever put out by a wide margin; shots fired), the Darths version of the sequel trilogy just doesn't carry the same spark as everything Darths had before it.

Sure, there's the return of several older characters that have no business returning under anything but anime logic (even by the sequel trilogy's admittedly low standards; I am curious as to how they'll handle 'Suddenly, Palpatine returned' with this version's Palpatine), and there are some clever ideas such as the incorporation of time manipulation in two interesting and entirely separate ways, but overall, this is where the series starts to decline. And I only really noticed it upon attempting to reread Darths and Droids (a thing I do once a year or so because it's just that good) and realized that once I hit the sequel trilogy arc, I just couldn't be bothered to continue. The new player characters didn't resonate with me, the plot felt like more of the same but less well executed (gasp! evil capitalists! Where have we seen THOSE before? ...oh, right, LITERALLY EVERYWHERE IN WESTERN MEDIA), and even the prophecy of a second Chosen One bringing imbalance back to the Force and Pete's active attempts as a player to deny that prophecy and shape his own character's fate just don't feel like they're given the proper weight and attention that they deserve.

I'm even getting tired of Jim's crazy plans, if you can believe that.

I'm hoping that the current revelations on Snoke's ship are going to be enough to hook me back into Darths again. Despite the series' missteps, I still genuinely enjoy the world and characters that the Comic Irregulars have crafted, and I'd love to be proven wrong in my assumption that the series could've ended with Rogue One and no one would have been any worse off for it. It's just... to be frank, I don't really know if there's much hope at all for Darths to return to form, because sometimes a series just hits its peak and starts to decline and never reaches that high again. Sometimes, a tale comes to its natural end and then, despite everything, it keeps going... and it's never quite as good anymore as you KNOW it could be, and the entire series suffers from it.

And honestly? I don't fault NewbieSpud for deciding to end Friendship is Dragons. The series will always live on in our hearts, minds, and internet browsers. Heck with it, I'm sure I'll start a tradition of rereading that series every now and then because it's just that good. Because friendship truly is the greatest adventure of a--

Blast it, that's DuckTales. That show lives rent free in my head and even Glomgold's loan sharks can't get it to pay its tab.

 

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