A little bit down the road we saw this really tall guy standing in the middle of the street, just completely still. For whatever reason, this really set off Rocky, and, um, he got really scared -- he wouldn't move and he kept on pulling on his leash to go back home. There was something about this guy that was just... it was strange.
Marble Hornets is an Alternate Reality Movie following discoveries made while looking through raw footage of a trite student film. The series is currently in its third loosely-defined season. Marble Hornets was instrumental in codifying parts of The Slender Man Mythos, but is not part of the Intercontinuity Crossover that includes many of the blogs and vlogs that followed it, although MH does feature in other canons as either a chronicle of real events or a fictional series... it leads to some confusion. The movie appears to have started in this post from the original Slender Man thread on the Something Awful forums.
In 2006, film student Alex Kralie suddenly abandons his movie in the midst of production, swearing to burn the tapes and never speak of it again. Alex's friend Jay rescues the taped material and, years later, begins reviewing them, only to realize too late that the abandoned film shoot was a Nightmare Fuel refinery and that by digging it up again he may have reawakened sinister forces.
Jay's YouTube account chronicles material from the tapes and, increasingly, the bizarre and frightening events of his own life. A Twitter page was added some time later. Since Entry #9, he's noted a guy named 'totheark' responding to each entry, adding a whole new level to the scary.
- Abandoned Playground: Entry #4 has Alex running through a playground at night, running away from The Operator... or seeking him out, complete with spooky swinging swingset and seesaws that move when Alex isn't looking.
- Action Survivor: Alex reacts calmly and rationally when he encounters The Operator in #26, compared to most people's (perfectly understandable) reaction of freaking the fuck out.
- Affectionate Parody:
- Cooking with totheark
- Little Kuriboh gives us Concrete Giraffes.
- Courtesy of Neil Cicierga, of Potter Puppet Pals fame, we have Splendorman. A parody of the Slender Man mythos in general, though the presentation (text on black screen for intro, amateur film gone awry, visual tearing) is highly reminiscent of Marble Hornets.
- Marble Cutboys
- Marble Yellowjackets. Warning, some of the content may be slightly NSFW.
- Marble Hornets Season Two Unboxing
- Slender Man Sings. The Operator sings some of his favorite songs.
- Cobble Hornets. Marble Hornets meets Minecraft.
- Alien Geometries: One explanation of what is happening in Entry #23. Another entry shows Jay in his apartment, having set up cameras in every room; he opens a door, steps through and doesn't appear on the other side.
- Always Night: Jay tries to avert this in Entry #23 by going to the creepy abandoned house during the day, the key word being "tries". In one of his tweets, Jay says he's going to "have a look around while it's still light out." The poor boy just doesn't learn.
- Anachronic Order: The entries for Season 1 are cut from hundreds of unmarked tapes, as well as Jay's own new recordings. Most of Jay's tapes from the missing seven months in Season 2 are labelled, averting the trope. There are still some exceptions, like Entry #38, which come from unlabelled tapes.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different:
- totheark's weird diatribes form a bizarre counterpoint to Jay.
- In Season 2, the Entries swap between Jay and Alex's viewpoints.
- Some videos have appeared that were not filmed by Jay or Alex at all. These include the Hooded Masked Man in Entry #41, and Brian briefly picking up Alex's camera when he disappears in Entry #51.
- And now in Season 3 the point of view switches between Jay's and Tim's.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: In Entry #38, Jay gives Alex shit for telling him a crummy ghost story. Also counts as Completely Missing the Point as certain details of the story seem to fly over Jay's head.
- Artifact Title: The second season has nothing to do with the movie, but rather continues the story set up in earlier videos. Subverted as of season three, as Tim gives Jay more tapes of test footage.
- Back for the Dead: Brian in Entry #51.
- Backstory: In Entry #38 we learn a myth about the forest Alex and Jay are walking through. Alex explains that criminals used to be brought there and tied to the trees, which were supposed to grow so fast that they would stretch their limbs out like a rack. Instead of cutting down the trees with the dead bodies, they'd burn them down... at least they did, until they found the dismembered body of a child strung up amongst the trees. Now put all these facts together. Who does this remind you of?
- In the Season 2 DVD commentary, Word of God explicitly says that the above myth wasn't meant to be an origin story. Troy admitted he may not be entirely opposed to making an origin story for the Operator, but he's most likely not going to.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: The Operator.
- Being Watched: Always...
- Big Bad: The Operator of course. However there's an implication that he may be more of a force of nature and that Alex is the real big bad.
- Big Name Fan:
- Doug Jones of Hellboy and Pan's Labyrinth fame has expressed admiration for the creators on his Twitter.
- Roger Ebert recommended the series on Twitter. Troy even used his quote for the Season 1 DVD commercial.
- Black Comedy: Some moments in the second season.
- Black Screen of Death: Most noticeably in Entry #18. It fits with the format of the entries because Jay drops the camera and only picks it back up after.
- The Blank: The Operator.
- Blooper: The initial upload of "enttry" #37 had a kid wearing a SpongeBob SquarePants t-shirt in 1991, SpongeBob didn't premiere until 8 years later. The second upload edited out those shots.
- Book Ends:
- Entry #27, the start of what could be called season two, starts with Jay in a hotel with no idea how he got there. Entry #52, the 'season two' end, shows how Jay and Jessica got to the hotel and why they didn't remember anything.
- Also, the first and last entry of Season 1 and 2 have both contained scenic footage of Jay driving down a road as he monologues through the text on screen.
- Breather Episode:
- Particularly tense episodes like Entry #23 are usually then followed by more low-key ones.
- The hotel arc was much more slow paced and peaceful than the end of season one, leading up to the more intense scares as the second season progressed.
- Entry #47 is this in spades, with no Operator, no masked men, and next-to-no distortion, while in Entry #48, the Operater (possibly) appears for a brief second. They do lead up to a big Wham! Episode in Entry #49.
- Entry #53 doesn't have any particular scares in it, but just sets up the next season of the story.
- #55 likewise lacks any real scares.
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In Entry #52, Jay possibly charges and tackles The Operator. This does him little good as he is subsequently seen unconscious on the floor, and it is implied that this is what caused him to lose his memory of the past seven months. Of course, it's also possible that he was not attacking the Operator, but rather was being launched or pulled towards him.
- Brown Note: The entire series itself could be considered one, as watching it tends to have the same effect on viewers as The Operator's presence has on the characters (namely obsession, paranoia, irrational fear and insomnia). In particular, Entry #5's audio distortion and static has led to some viewers reporting of headaches and irritation.
- Entry #55 lists Tim's psychiatry problems as if it was ripped right from this very trope entry: headaches, paranoia, and lack of sleep.
- Call Forward: The trailer, a bonus on the season 2 DVD, has this via Tim's line.
Tim: Whenever I'm around other people, I feel like I'm wearing a mask to hide who I really am.
- Call Back:
- Also in entry #54, tying in to the theme of revisiting the original making of Marble Hornets the first shots of the tape Jay watches show the Silver Silos, which were in the very first shot of the Introduction to the series.
- For those who have seen the hilarious "Marble Hornets Trailer" on the season 2 DVD, this is also directly referred to in #54 where Alex, Tim, Seth and Brian start working out the music for it, only to be horrifyingly interrupted.
- Another callback to the trailer occurs in Entry #55, which shows the filming of two shots featured in the trailer.
- The trailer itself features a callback to Entry #7, with dialogue and a shot filmed in said entry.
- The Call Knows Where You Live:
- Totheark invokes this in at least one of his videos. WE WILL WAIT FOR YOU NO MORE
- Entry #25, where shit gets personal: Jay's apartment gets burned down.
- Again in Entry #26, where Jay had once again meant to quit, but is sent a parcel with a videotape that galvanizes his desire to find out the truth about what's going on.
- Cassette Craze: Naturally.
- Cat Scare: This does occasionally purposefully happen, such as the jump cut to Alex's silhouette in Entry #44, but the Nothing Is Scarier nature of the series means that any time the camera pans quickly can be this, for example, Entry #23, which comprises about 5 minutes of Jay whipping the camera back and forth around a dark, empty house.
- Character Blog: Jay keeps viewers up to date with his Twitter Account. Totheark briefly took it over to wish us a happy Halloween.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The red tower in season one.
- When Jay wakes up at the beginning of season two, he finds a key in his belongings. This isn't mentioned again until Entry #46, when we see where Jay found it, and we don't learn what it opens until Entry #50.
- Jessica's phone number.
- The bullet casing Jay finds in the house in Entry #16 might be explained as of Entry #52, wherein Alex pulls a gun on Jay and Jessica - although he had a revolver, which doesn't automatically eject spent shells, so this could raise further questions.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome/What Happened to the Mouse?: Sarah, the actress in the Student Film isn't mentioned by any of the other characters, and we only see her in the old tapes. Jay doesn't even consider seeking her out for interviews. She is described as "gone", which may imply that she died or vanished. Then again, Jay and Tim are described as "gone" in the same breath, so it's still anybody's guess.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Entry #38 implies that The Operator may have something to do with a particular 1800s community's preferred method of dealing with criminals: tying them up between fast-growing trees and letting them be stretched out, like a rack.
- Creepy Doll: It looks like the Slender Doll in Entry #18 was intended to be this but just ended up oddly adorable. You know, for a faceless voodoo doll. It's not the doll itself that's creepy, but what it represents. However, the doll in Totheark's video Indicator is pure Nightmare Fuel.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Jay's attempt to fight the Operator in Entry #52. The Operator easily trounces Jay and wipes his memories of the last couple of months. Of course it's unclear if Jay actually tried to fight the Operator or if the Operator yanked Jay over to him so this may not count.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: An underlying theme of the film. Alex's whereabouts are unknown, nobody has seen Brian for a while, Sarah flat out disappears, and Jay keeps getting sicker and sicker. Several other characters will appear and disappear as the series goes on.
- The Danza: Tim, Jessica, Brian and Seth. Brian is actually a double example: Alex's Marble Hornets film features a character named Brian played by a character named Brian...played by a man named Brian. Oddly enough, Jay and Alex themselves don't follow this trope (their real names are Troy and Joseph), nor do Sarah and Amy.
- Dark World: The industrial looking place Alex is traipsing about in during Entry #22. This is later revealed to be his basement... or not.
- Dawson Casting: Averted, in part because Marble Hornets is filmed by actual college-age guys. The trope is also discussed on the DVD commentary (Troy specifically mentions TV Tropes at that!).
- Daylight Horror:
- Several entries in the first season take place during the day. Notable examples from season one include Entry #17 and Entry #23 (when Jay goes into Alex's old house during the day).
- The vast majority of season two seems to take place during daylight hours. The only two entries which have happened at night are Entry #35 and Entry #39. Most of the scary scenes all occur in broad daylight.
- A lot of the responses posted by totheark are disturbingly incoherent, and are often shot in daylight hours.
- Deadpan Snarker: Alex has shades of this.
Jay: I thought I'd take a look around while I was waiting. I got kind of lost, I guess.
"Hey Jay, you forgot your flashlight."
Alex: Okay rolling.
Alex: (holding Jay and Jessica at gunpoint) When I gave you those tapes, I told you never to mention them again. I thought that implied not sharing them with the world!
Alex, Tim and Brian are discussing the Marble Hornets film when the power goes out.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In Entry #52, Jay possibly runs at the Operator when he appears in his hotel room. Although we only get brief flashes of whatever struggle ensued, it obviously didn't play out in Jay's favor.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: If you buy the DVD, the first thing to greet you on the screen is this:
Please don't copy this DVD. Or else Slenderman (sic) will get you.
- Disposing of a Body: Done by The Operator in Entry #49. Alex also does this in Entry #51. He drags Brian's body through a doorway and leaves it there.
- Do Wrong Right: In Entry 46, Alex seems less concerned that Jay broke into his apartment than the fact that he did it so incompetently i.e. he did it while Alex was taking out the trash, giving himself at most a minute or two to do whatever he wanted to do.
- Don't Go in The Woods: The entire debacle is believed to have been started because Kralie's film crew got all up in The Operator's home. For some reason, these characters just never learn to stay away from those forested areas.
- The Dragon: Seemingly totheark and the Masked Man (who may or may not be the same person) to The Operator, although this has really in no way been confirmed.
- Eldritch Location:
- The industrial-looking place that Alex gets lost in in Entry #22.
- Note that in Entry #23 The entire house starts to darken, even though it's daylight out and there are no lights in the house that are on.
- En Route Sum-Up: Combined masterfully with Nothing Is Scarier in Entry #38.
- Enigmatic Minion: The masked men and/or totheark.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: As quoted above, Alex's dog Rocky.
- Evil Laugh:
- A low chuckle can be heard during one moment of distortion in Entry #23. Slender Man was known to quietly chuckle in early stories.
- In entry #51...oh god.
- Face Revealing Turn:
- In the first entry. Kralie runs to a window and peeks behind the curtains, only to see a tall man standing outside... who turns his head to stare at Alex, revealing one of his defining features.
- In Entry #31, Jay notices a guy in a hoodie on the same trail as him. He eventually goes up to the guy and gets him to turn around... revealing an ordinary guy he's never seen before who just happened to have his headphones in.
- Face Heel Turn: Alex as of Season 2. It's hinted at throughout the season, though Entry #49 and #51 are the most significant entries confirming this. The plot for the third season is being set up as Jay finding Alex to stop him from hurting more people.
- Failed a Spot Check: Regularly played for horror.
- Fan Nickname: While officially Tall, Pale, and Faceless is known as the Operator, not Slender Man, a lot of people call him "Slendy" anyway. The masked man (or men) who stalks and accosts Jay is known as "Masky" and the man with the black burlap mask "Blasky." Jay's rambling, incoherent twitter posts, especially around "enttry 37" were referred to as "tweetocalypse" in reference to his collapsing mental state. Hoody/ToThePark is the guy Jay saw in the park in Entry #31. Whitey/Bruce/Beardy is the person seen leaning against a car at the end of Entry #48 and is presumably the same person killed in Entry #49.
- Follow the Leader: There's a truly staggering number of Slender Man-based blogs and small-scale ARGs out there, and it appears each one has its own Totheark. The creators' favorite is Everyman HYBRID.
- In Entry #20 Jay and Alex (who at this point is still unaware of anything amiss) have a brief conversation about a painting which depicts an ominous looking forest with several trees aflame, and which belongs to their friend Brian. In Entry #38 Alex tells Jay a disturbing story of how a forest with almost supernaturally fast growing trees was once used as an execution ground for murderers/child molesters, and the condemned would be crucified to the trees and left to die as the fast growing trees stretched them like a rack, before the trees were burned down to remove the bodies. This was itself implied to be related to the creation of the Operator.
- In Entry #43, we find out Amy's roommate is named Jessica.
- totheark's earlier videos in season two weren't exactly subtle on selling the message that Alex can't be trusted. In later entries, it is very much shown that he can't.
- Many posts on the Marble Hornets Twitter page foreshadowed events that would occur in upcoming entries. For example, prior to Entry #46, Jay mentioned how he found footage of him stalking Alex.
- Four Is Death:
- In the run-up to Entry #26, Jay gets a text message on the 4th of April. He then recieves a tape recorded on the day he got the text, showing: Alex and Amy narrowly avoiding The Operator, who appears to them at 4:04 pm. To take it further, the first hint of his presence (the footage tearing) occurs at 4:04 on the YouTube player.
- As of early in Entry #26 there appear to be four different Maskies.
- Also, enttry #37 reveals that Alex's birthday is April 4th.
- The first part of the birthday is also at 4:41.
- Entry #40, posted on May 4, where The Operator makes his big return to the series (Disregarding #29). The footage tears at 4:40, and several seconds later the scare comes.
- In Entry #44, the Operator makes its appearance at the 3:24 mark and disappears...along with Alex.
- In Entry #49, after strangling a man, Alex bashes his head in with a rock 4 times.
- In Entry #51, four minutes and four seconds in, while Brian is settling up a second camera, the footage from Alex's camera tears.
- In Entry #52, at 10:44, Jay is at the mercy of the Operator, and his face seems to disappear before appearing comatose on the ground moments later.
- Totheark's video entitled Decay, which came out on April 4, 2012, really emphasizes this. It begins by showing distorted footage from Entry #26, effectively showing two timestamps for 4.4.2010 and 4:04 PM. An encoded message in the video also declares: "Today is your last birthday."
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Watch Entry #23 carefully. There are a few instances of this occurring in the video. One includes someone reaching their hand out towards the camera.
- In totheark's Forecast, pausing roughly 31 seconds in allows you to get a glimpse of the person who filmed Jay in Entry #39 in the rear-view mirror. It seems to be a masked man, though the pattern on it is different from Tim's.
- If you pause Entry #45 right at the end as Alex yells 'I'LL KILL YOU!' to the Maskies, you can see footage of the Operator from Entry #40.
- In Entry #57, if you look at the dark space next to Tim while he's having his coughing fit, you'll see the Operator appear for a brief second. It happens twice; once at about the 6:23 mark, and again at the 6:34 mark, the exact moment the camera starts screwing up badly.
- Genre Blindness:
- Jay seems to not understand the potential dangers of breaking into a deserted house at night, alone in the woods. He's done this more than once.
- He acts even dumber in Entry #40, apparently deciding that it's a good idea to take a walk in the creepy haunted woods.
- In Entry #46, Jay decides to stalk Alex at his house. This would normally fall under the umbrella of Genre Savvy, considering Alex's more than suspect behavior, but the way Jay goes about it, he's just asking to get caught. It goes even worse than he could have imagined when The Operator shows up.
- Genre Savvy:
- In light of the aforementioned Genre Blindness that Jay seems to suffer from, dropping the camera and running like hell is the savviest thing he (or anyone) ever did through the series.
- In Entry 47, he's smart enough to check before leaving that Alex really gave him Jessica's number and, arguably, at the end when he pretty much admits that it's more than likely that it's his fault Jessica ended up amnesiac in a hotel.
- The Ghost: The Operator plays this role for our protagonist, Jay. Though he can often be seen in the tapes, was seen by Alex and Tim, and the viewer can see him watching Jay on several occasions, Jay himself never really meets the Operator face to face until Entry #52. When Jay actually attempts to fight the Operator, the Operator easily overpowers Jay almost instantly and wipes his memory.
- Ghostly Chill: Jay complains of being cold in Entry #17. Guess who's watching him. Happens to Tim in Entry #20.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: In totheark's Classified video, possibly.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking:
- Tim is the only character ever to smoke onscreen. Guess who the masked man is... This may be subverted though, since as of Entry #52, we're pretty sure Alex is evil and Tim is almost definitely against him.
- On the other hand, the man killed in Entry #49, a presumably innocent character, may have been smoking in Entry #48.
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Thankfully averted. Who would imagine something as pants-wettingly scary as this being named Marble Hornets?
- Gory Discretion Shot: Invoked in Entry #49. After murdering a man, Alex takes a rock and lifts it above his head. The following scene was cut out by Jay, who tells us he hurled the rock onto the victim's head four times.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack: Entry #27 opens with Jay awakened by a heartbeat soundtrack from his computer.
- Hell Hotel: The hotel Jay wakes up seems pretty normal until he notices that he and Jessica are the only customers staying there. This ends up being creepier than it sounds.
- Heterosexual Life Partners: The creators of the series, Troy and Joe. It gets taken up to eleven in the DVD audio commentary. You definitely come to realize how close the two of them are as friends in real life.
Troy: I mean, what are we going to sell as Marble Hornets merchandise, a shirt with my face on it?
- Here We Go Again: In #53, after finding and getting back in contact with Tim, Jay receives a call from Tim stating that he has "found more tapes" from when they were originally filming Marble Hornets.
Jay: Great, more tapes.
- He Who Must Not Be Named: The Operator is never explicitly named in the series, although the word comes up a few times in totheark's videos. The closest the entries come to naming him is in Entry #11, where one of the drawings on Alex's bedroom wall is simply the word "OPERATOR" beneath the recurring crossed-out-circle symbol. Until Word of God confirmed it towards the end of Season 1, this was the only time that the name was associated with the character, even in totheark's videos.
- Hidden Depths: From the very beginning, there's more to all of the characters than meets the eye. Then, once we get into the second season, we see just how much the characters are keeping from the surface. However, it almost always seems to do with them hiding their slow spiral into madness.
- Hope Spot:
- Entry #11, right before... *shudder*.
- Entry #46:
Jay: It's not out there anymore...
- How We Got Here: Entries #34 to #52 are the events leading up to Entries #27 to #33.
- Entry #57 also shows how Tim got to the abandoned building in Entry #51.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Operator.
- Idiot Ball: Even when it becomes clear that there are several people stalking and possibly trying to kill him, Jay continues to telegraph his next move over YouTube. This comes back and bites him on the ass in Entry #52, when Alex threatens to kill Jay at gunpoint for posting the videos and incriminating him, amongst other reasons. He also returns to the same haunted house multiple times, often at night, and has a habit of wandering off into the woods despite nothing good EVER happening to people who do that in this series.
- Idiot Hero: Jay's not necessarily holding the idiot ball - he's just kinda dumb.
- Incurable Cough of Death: One of the Operator's calling cards; his mere presence is enough to cause people to break into coughing fits, while people who've had repeated exposure to him tend to develop a chronic cough.
- Jay develops a rather ominous cough in season one. He also has a particularly violent episode in Entry #16.
- Jessica can be heard coughing from her room in the middle of the night during some of the hotel entries. She doesn't seem aware of the fact she's doing it. It's later found out she had indeed come into contact with the Operator.
- Brian has a coughing fit in Entry #51, about a minute before the Operator shows up.
- Tim seems to suffer from this more than any character in the series:
- In Entry #20, he had a coughing fit very reminiscent of Jay's in Entry #16.
- In season two, we see it again in Entry #51 when Brian finds him curled up into a corner in an abandoned building.
- In #53, he started coughing again while getting a call from an unknown individual. Granted, he was also smoking, but still.
- Most notably, we hear him coughing at the end of Entry #56 after Alex attacks him and leaves him for dead. In Entry #57, which takes place immediately after, he's coughing violently throughout the whole entry. It also explains how he wound up in the abandoned building in Entry #51.
- In #58, he starts coughing just as strange stuff starts happening to him and Jay in the hospital.
- It's for a Book: Jay's explanation for having a camera strapped to him in Entry #28:
Jay: I'm, uh, shooting -- shooting a documentary.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As told by an Unreliable Narrator. The story is comprised of clips Jay edits and uploads while looking through a mass of largely unlabelled tapes, some of which have been tampered with, some of them featuring Jay himself in situations he has no memory of. Sometimes someone will log into his YouTube account and upload clips in his name, and a couple of times he's revealed that he hasn't been telling us the whole story... Much of the timeline for the season 1 tapes can only be guessed at, and as of #53 it's still unclear when entry #37 took place.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
- Alex in Entry # 49.
- Entry #51 implies that it may have been even sooner.
- Jump Scare:
- In Entry #46 when The Operator suddenly appears in Alex's room.
- And again in Entry #49 when The Operator appears out of nowhere with loud distortion and leaves just as quickly, taking the body with him.
- Lame Excuse: In Entry #47.
Alex: What is wrong with you, huh?! Breaking into my apartment?! What were you thinking?!
- Lampshade Hanging: In Entry #46:
"I was taking out the trash! What could you have possibly hoped to find in that amount of time?"
- And in Entry #53, when Jay finds more production tapes from Marble Hornets, he audibly groans 'Great, more tapes', about the same time most of the audience was thinking the same thing.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia/Mind Rape: Quite a lot of it, and probably why both Jay and Alex have been constantly filming themselves. Jay even forgets the seven month gap between season one and season two and must piece it together via video.
- Late to the Party: Jay begins investigating Marble Hornets almost three years after it occurs. By that time, the original cast had scattered or disappeared and several locations (such as the house) were trashed.
- Lean and Mean: The Operator
- Leave the Camera Running: While the entries themselves are mostly cut down to just the relevant parts, the source footage is primarily taken from someone literally leaving the camera running. For example, Jay inherited hundreds of tapes from Alex, but most of them contained nothing of interest.
- Le Film Artistique: Alex's original film has traits of this, judging by the trailer on the Season 2 DVD.
"From the film production class that brought you Mon Amour Intemporel"
- Line-of-Sight Name: A behind-the-scenes example, according to Word of God. The actors wanted something that sounded like a stereotypical pretentious student film, and Troy (Jay) picked the title based on the next two things he saw while driving.
- Lost Episode:
- An accidental example, due to a text-to-video program, a video called Megadrunk (Mirror) managed to get on the account briefly on April 8th, 2011.
- The Season 2 DVD contains footage from an unused version of Entry #37. It was fully complete, but scrapped because it didn't achieve what the creators had hoped it to do. They instead replaced it with what is now called enttry #37.
- Lost Woods: A wooded area that was once the execution place for condemned criminals is somehow central to the plot. The Operator seems closely tied to these forsaken regions.
- Malevolent Masked Man: The masked men.
- Meaningful Background Event:
- Almost every entry in the first season has The Operator in it, be he the centerpiece of the video or in the background for only two frames. He just loves the camera.
- Entry #19 has the Masked Man staring through Jay's window for a few frames before and after appearing in his room.
- In Entry #52, as Alex is leading Jessica and Jay into the sawmill/storage area, the masked man can be seen for only a half second, peering from the building's second floor opening in the background. Just for those who thought there was some teleportation occurring.
- The video and audio glitches in some entries serve as Meaningful Foreground Events. They give a hint to the viewer either that they should put down their drink immediately (as in Entry #40), or that the person on camera is suffering the effects of contact with the Operator, as with Jessica and Alex in season 2 and one very subtle instance of visual tearing when Tim is giving Jay his number in Entry #53.
- Meaningful Echo: Tim hands Jay a bag of tapes in Entry 54, claiming he hasn't watched them because he's "not the movie guy" and doesn't have the right equipment. He uses this exact phrase again in the first tape Jay watches.
- Mind Screw: Pretty much every video totheark has made. A handful make vague sense when combined with the entry they're responding to, but most don't.
- Minimalism: Keeping with the student film theme, most of the videos seem to be set in public areas and the cast is tiny. The whole series is a testament to what can be achieved with little budget but lots of creativity. We still don't know how exactly The Operator was filmed.
- Mistaken Identity: Alex thought either the man in Entry #49 was one of the Masked Men or Jay. It ends poorly for the guy.
- Mood Whiplash: In Entry #46, the funniest line in the series is immediately after Jay spots The Operator staring at him out the window, and seconds before what is quite possibly the most effective Jump Scare in the whole series.
- Morality Kitchen Sink: The Shades of Conflict are all over the place.
- Jay, the protagonist, seems to be genuinely good and is willing to help others if he can. But he's not above committing criminal acts like stalking and breaking-and-entering to get what he wants.
- Alex is either dangerously insane or consciously villainous. It's hard to tell.
- The Masked people often switch between antagonizing and assisting Jay.
- Totheark is always cryptic and ominous to the point that we don't know what side he's on, if any.
- The Operator and his motives have gone unanswered.
- Jessica appears to be innocent. Maybe.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Or rather, Most Amateur Filmmakers Are Amateur Filmmakers.
- Motif: Intros and finales are associated with shots of scenery from inside Jay's car while he's driving with text appearing over them.
- Multiple Choice Past: This is what talking to Jay must be like from Jessica's point of view. He's gone from "I'm shooting a documentary" to "My house is being renovated" to "My job relocated me". She eventually calls him on it.
- Murder Water: In Entry #17, Tim is drinking from a water bottle and inadvertently caused the destruction of that entire tape.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jay just had to call Jessica and get her involved after a previous lie from Alex ensured she was safe and uninvolved.
- Nightmare Face:
- A subtle one near the end of Entry #22.
- One occurs in totheark's video called Inquiry, which appears again with even more distortion for one frame in Reminder. It appears to be a distortion of Tim's face. He does it again in the Decay video with a different face.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book:
- Kralie draws hundreds of pictures of The Operator, among other things, in his more distressed states.
- Intermission has some drawings presumably belonging to Totheark, depicting trees and...something lying at the base of one of the trees.
- Nothing Is Scarier:
- He doesn't do anything! He just stands there! Menacingly!
- Traditional scary unreveals are rife throughout the series. Entry #11 sets up a nigh-legendary scare when Kralie wakes up, walks around his empty house, checking out each window. Satisfied at finding nothing, he returns to his bed and falls asleep. And then a shadow passes by. You will never sleep again.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Possibly one of The Operator's abilities. Demonstrated in Entry #26, when Alex sees his girlfriend playing with one of his old cameras...which calls the Operator to their location. Entry #54 suggests it might not be teleportation at all - he just moves really, really fast when no-one's looking.
- Ominous Save Prompt: Jay's eerily timed uploading of Entry #32 before going into Jessica's room.
- Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Only One Name: Save for Alex Kralie, no last names are given. Jay stated his (to Jessica) once, but muted the sound afterward.
- Orphaned Punchline: From the beginning of Entry 17:
Tim: ...had to do that about five times.
- Paranormal Investigation: It's basically a detective show, suffused with a thick air of dread and peppered with infrequent and completely unpredictable moments of horror.
- Properly Paranoid: Alex, and later Jay, seem like insane paranoids taping themselves 24 hours a day, but examining these tapes shows that they have VERY good reasons to worry.
- In Entry #50, Jay thinks he hears footsteps behind him as he and Alex walk through the woods. There was. He later catches Tim following him and chases him around for a bit.
- Entry #50 again. Though one might think Jay to be Genre Blind again to due agreeing to meet Alex after their fight in Entry #47, he appears to be using his head by bringing a pocket knife, just in case Alex tries something. He doesn't, but can't be too careful. This is brought home in Entry #52, when it was revealed that Alex intended to murder him. Not that the pocketknife would have helped since Alex had a gun.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The audio in Forecast may be from Beethoven's Fifth, fourth movement, played backwards with other obfuscations.
- Public Execution: Done within the bounds of a Lost Woods. This may be tied to The Operator's origin.
- Rapid-Fire "No": Jay does this in Entry #46 when he sees the Operator through the window.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Because the show is written and produced on the fly, with entries being posted to Youtube pretty much as soon as they're done, delays and last minute script changes are common. Jay can update his twitter to say the next entry will be posted shortly, only for creator Troy to hit a snag that causes Jay to lost 2 days of time. Luckily, Jay is a pretty Unreliable Narrator so it works in character. Noentry had to be quickly pulled down and re-edited after eagle-eyed viewers noticed a continuity error and Entry #50 was delayed by about a week because the boys were waiting for an as-yet-unknown item to be delivered. They later revealed it to be Alex's jacket. They couldn't have done the Entry without it.
- The Reveal:
- In Entry #35, the Masked Man is finally revealed to be Tim.
- In Entry #43, we find out who Jessica is: she was Amy's roommate.
- Entry #52 is one big reveal about Alex's true motives, how Jay and Jessica ended up in the hotel in the first place, and how they suffered their amnesia.
- Right Behind Me: Could be retitled "Right Behind Me: The Series." Notable instance in Entry #46: the Operator appears in Alex's house behind Alex. Jay bolts as soon as he appears, but Alex doesn't seem to notice.
- Room Full of Crazy: With Kralie, to an extent. Probably Jay too.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: Entry #52 was uploaded twice, because the first version contained typos. The second upload also contains a typo, but this is dismissed by Word of God saying that it was intentional, as it's just how Jay types.
- Rule of Scary: Considering the source material, this is a given.
- Scenery Gorn: Arguably, the factory/house/whatever that Alex and Seth are seen exploring in Entry #22. Also, the tunnel from Entry #29 and Entry #49.
- Scenery Porn: The burned-out husk of a building visited in Entry #51, with small trees growing past dilapidated walls and long abandoned walkways, artfully straddles the line between this and Scenery Gorn. (Which is probably one reason Alex decided to film there.)
- Scrapbook Story: It starts out as one of these, and then Jay learns he has problems of his own.
- Seeker Archetype: Jay. At first he just watched out of curiosity, but his focus quickly changed to trying to find out what was going on, and eventually he settled on the goal of finding Alex. This Twitter post indicates he may have been becoming obsessed.
Jay: Looking through some surveillance footage. Not sure what I'll find. I feel like I just have know one more time what's been going on.
- Shout-Out: In Entry #51, Alex says that the footage is to be from the main character's old elementary school that burned down, which is the premise of the entry "I'm Okay" in Everyman HYBRID.
- Slender Man Mythos: It was/is the first video series featuring Slender Man (although they like to call him the Operator). Can be credited with a large portion of the mythos' popularity.
- Slow Walk: In Entry #43, Alex seems to do this as he walks towards the Operator. Unlike most examples of this trope, it's impossible to tell whether he's heroically defying The Operator's influence or if he's gone crazy from The Operator's influence.
- So What Do We Do Now?:
- After the terror of Entry #23, Jay declares he no longer wants anything to do with any of this. Soon after, he tweets about feeling "totally functionless after quitting." However, Entry #24 shows that Jay can't really just quit this anyway.
- Season 2 is this in spades. Almost every Breather Episode is Jay being told to stay put and wait for Alex to call him. This comes to a head in Entry #47, when Jay has finally had enough and calls out Alex on their lack of progress.
- Speak of the Devil: Something similar. It seems that disturbing anything related to the disastrous "Marble Hornets" shoot will draw the attention of The Operator.
- Spiritual Successor: Everyman HYBRID has been called this.
- Stock Footage: Some old clips from what looks like 50's cinema are used in two of totheark's videos. Surprisingly, it's quite effective.
- Stop Trick: The Operator appears and disappears by way of one of these a few times in season 2 (most noticeably in #49 and #51).
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: This is what the actual student film was going to be about.
- Stylistic Suck: What little we see of Marble Hornets the student film underwhelms. Lampshaded in Entry #58:
Tim: I'm going to be completely honest here: I really don't understand why you're going through all this trouble just to finish off this movie, 'cos, as far as I remember, even by student film standards it wasn't particularly good.
- Tempting Fate: In Entry #51, Alex keeps mentioning that they're in an abandoned burnt-out building and that nothing could possibly go wrong a lot. Far too much for a genre-savvy viewer to feel safe. Slightly subverted in that Alex was intentionally leading Brian to the Operator.
- Throw It In:
- Word of God says that the shadow 'reaching into Alex's head' at the end of Entry #22 was a happy accident (the original plan was to simply have a shadow pass over him).
- Seth wasn't in the original script, but his girlfriend (who played Sarah) asked for him to be included, Troy and Joseph wrote him in as the cameraman for the student film. Slight case of Ascended Extra, as he came back later as the only survivor of the student film.
- Tim's line in Entry #9 about Alex spending too much money on tapes was improvised by Tim Sutton himself.
- Title Drop: The final line of Entry ###### drops totheark's (account) name.
"AND YOU WILL LEAD ME TO THE ARK/ AND YOU WILL LEAD ME, TOTHEARK."
- Too Dumb to Live: Jay's persisting Genre Blindness has been posing him some serious health risks.
- Troubled Production: The student film, to say the least.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Marble Hornets (The Film), In-Universe.
- Unreliable Narrator:
- Jay's typo-laden, cryptic tweets, erratic posting patterns and blackouts have not done his credibility any good.
- Alex's confrontational outbursts, erratic behavior, and inability to explain why his judgment should be trusted doesn't help others feel good about him. As we learn in season 2, these doubts are well founded
- totheark has frequently threatened, mocked, and stalked Jay and Alex (to say nothing of the masked men physically attacking them both). However, the fact that he keeps dropping clues and warnings about the events suggests that tta might be trying to help or protect Jay.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Alex seems rather apathetic to the Operator showing up on his porch and in his house. The implications aren't pretty.
- Villain Protagonist: Depending on when the Start of Darkness all began, Alex might have been this in Season 1.
- Villainous Rescue:
- In Entry #45, Alex is at the mercy of two masked men... who immediately flee when they see something off-camera. Alex doesn't turn around, but the telltale film tearing strongly implies that it's The Operator.
- After an entire season of antagonizing Jay, one of the masked men ends up saving him and Jessica from Alex in Entry #52.
- Voice of the Legion:
- Audio distortion lends Jessica (and Jay, to a much lesser extent) this effect in several entries. Alex gets a bit of this at times too, most noticeably in Entry #45.
- Wham! Episode: In a series like Marble Hornets, entries are extremely polarized between 'wham' and 'filler'. Since one of the creators' stated intents for season 2 was to not have any filler, well, things get pretty exciting. A special shoutout should probably go out to Entry #49, however, as it's the episode we find out Alex is a murderer.
- Wham! Line:
- Jay tweets,
"These [totheark responses] are so inconsistent. It's like they're being made by different people."
- Another one from totheark's first response of season three:
"I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN".
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Rocky, Alex's dog, is mentioned in an early video. Alex tapes himself for weeks. We never see or even hear Rocky. totheark's Forecast video hints at something very bad happening to the dog, though. That weird pulsating thing at the start, what could it be? A heart of some kind, perhaps. Some eagle-eyed fan spotted that the clip was taken from a video called "Experiments in the Revival of Organisms", in which Soviet scientists reanimate the organs of a dead dog. Oh dear...
- The interview with Tim in Entry #15 brings up Alex finding dead animals on his lawn.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Jay calls out Alex after their ambushing of Tim. "You broke his leg with a block of cement!"
- Alex also calls out Jay in Entry #46 for breaking into his house (and doing a rather poor job of it as well). He does it again, much more scathingly in Entry #47, though Jay counters with one of his own.
- TTA calls Jay out for wasting time (in his own way).
- White Mask of Doom: The masked men.
- Whole-Episode Flashback: Technically the whole series is a mish-mash of non-linear chronology and footage filmed in the past, but some entries tend to stand out more than others. Entry #22 and Entry #51 are the most notable, as they both jump backwards in time from the chronology of events the viewer and Jay are currently following, and they show footage of the student film which is integral in explaining the disappearance of the cast.
- Word of God: Two interviews so far that mostly cover behind-the-scenes information, the first here and the second here. Tim also conducted an interview for a podcast, revealing his role in the production and telling stories about filming. This can be found here