We introduce a framework for a graph-theoretic analysis of the semantic paradoxes. Similar frameworks have been recently developed for infinitary propositional languages by Cook and Rabern, Rabern, and Macauley. Our focus, however, will be on the language of first-order arithmetic augmented with a primitive truth predicate. Using Leitgeb’s notion of semantic dependence, we assign reference graphs (rfgs) to the sentences of this language and define a notion of paradoxicality in terms of acceptable decorations of rfgs with truth values. It is shown that this notion of paradoxicality coincides with that of Kripke. In order to track down the structural components of an rfg that are responsible for paradoxicality, we show that any decoration can be obtained in a three-stage process: first, the rfg is unfolded into a tree, second, the tree is decorated with truth values (yielding a dependence tree in the sense of Yablo), and third, the decorated tree is re-collapsed onto the rfg. We show that paradoxicality enters the picture only at stage three. Due to this we can isolate two basic patterns necessary for paradoxicality. Moreover, we conjecture a solution to the characterization problem for dangerous rfgs that amounts to the claim that basically the Liar- and the Yablo graph are the only paradoxical rfgs. Furthermore, we develop signed rfgs that allow us to distinguish between ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ reference and obtain more fine-grained versions of our results for unsigned rfgs.