[[quoteright:349:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/reznor_7898.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:349: Cheer up, Trent Reznor, you're famous!]]

->''"Something's gonna get '''BROKEN!'''"''
-->--'''Trent Reznor'''

'''Nine Inch Nails''' is an {{Alternative|Rock}} / [[IndustrialMetal Industrial Rock]] act that's been rolling around the musical scene since 1988, releasing music videos which have ranged from politically subversive to the sort of video which answers the question: "What if ''Film/{{Hostel}}'' had been a set for music videos?"

[floatboxright:
Influences:
+''Music/DavidBowie, Music/DepecheMode, Music/SkinnyPuppy, Music/{{Coil}}, Music/{{Ministry}}, Music/SoftCell, Music/{{Kraftwerk}}, Music/{{Kiss}}, Music/GaryNuman, Music/{{Rush}}, Music/{{Pantera}}, Music/{{Devo}}, Music/TheCure, Music/AphexTwin, Music/JoyDivision, Music/ThrobbingGristle, Music/{{Swans}}, Music/JanesAddiction, Music/KingCrimson, Music/{{U2}}, Test Dept., Music/KillingJoke, Music/MyBloodyValentine, Music/PinkFloyd, Music/BigBlack, Music/{{Bauhaus}}''
]

They're somewhat unusual in that [[IAmTheBand it's essentially one man,]] '''Trent Reznor,''' who's done all of it. Most members have come and gone, occasionally contributing to albums but mostly staying for the live shows. (One such member, Richard Patrick, has struck out on his own and formed a little band you might've heard of, called Music/{{Filter}}.)

The music is surprisingly varied, from ear destroying screaming guitar death on ''Broken'' to beautiful, mellow piano pieces on ''Still'' and all kinds of twisted sounds in between; but most of it falls squarely under TrueArtIsAngsty.

In contrast to his highly brutal industrial rock output, Reznor in person is more of a MeanCharacterNiceActor, being very active in his community and generally a pretty nice guy. Also in the same vein, he was friends with Music/ToriAmos -- he even sang backing vocals on one of her songs (the past tense is Music/CourtneyLove's fault).

In the past few years, though, Reznor has instead focused on a project with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, called Music/HowToDestroyAngels, as well as on film soundtracks. Along with Atticus Ross, Reznor has composed the score for ''Film/TheSocialNetwork,'' for which the duo won an [[UsefulNotes/AcademyAward Oscar]] for Best Original Music Score; 2011's ''[[Literature/TheMillenniumTrilogy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo;]]'' and 2014's ''Literature/GoneGirl.'' [[HeAlsoDid Reznor also provided the soundtrack]] to ''VideoGame/{{Quake|I}}'' and recorded tracks for ''VideoGame/{{Doom}} 3'' that didn't make it into the final game, although they can still be found in the game files.

Luckily for fans, though, [[{{Workaholic}} Trent can't stay away,]] and he revealed in interviews that he would spend much of 2012 writing material for ''Nine Inch Nails,'' and in early 2013 it was announced that the group would begin touring again in the summer. Later in the year, it was announced that Reznor had been writing and recording music for a new ''NIN'' album, and on June 5, 2013 the first single of the ''Hesitation Marks'' album, "Came Back Haunted," was released. September 3rd of that year saw ''Hesitation Marks'' finally getting released followed by the successful Tension tour.

Funny story: Originally, the sessions for ''Hesitation Marks'' was, ostensibly, to provide extra material for a GreatestHitsAlbum. This is still in the works with Interscope Records, albeit it's in a little bit of DevelopmentHell thus far.
----

!! Discography:

* ''Purest Feeling'' (1988; bootleg of demo version of ''Pretty Hate Machine'')
* ''Pretty Hate Machine'' (1989)
* ''Broken'' (1992; EP)
** ''Fixed'' (1992): Remix album of ''Broken.''
* ''Music/TheDownwardSpiral'' (1994): Yes, the one with [[MisaimedFandom the "fuck you like an animal" song]] on it.
** ''Further Down the Spiral'' (1995): Remix album of ''The Downward Spiral.''
* ''The Fragile'' (1999)
** ''Things Falling Apart'' (2000): Remix album of ''The Fragile.''
* ''And All That Could Have Been'' (2002): Live album recorded during the ''Fragility 2.0'' tour.
** ''Still'' (2002)
* ''With Teeth'' (2005)
* ''Music/YearZero'' (2007): A futuristic dystopia type ConceptAlbum; accompanied by an extensive ARG.
** ''[=Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D=] (Year Zero Remixed)'' (2007): Remix album of ''Year Zero.''
* ''Ghosts I-IV'' (2008)
* ''The Slip'' (2008): Initially released for free on the website as a "thank you" to fans.
* ''Hesitation Marks'' (2013)
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!! [=DVDs=]:

* ''Broken Movie'' (1993): Essentially one long extended music video for the ''Broken'' EP, made to look (very convincingly) like a SnuffFilm. [[KeepCirculatingTheTapes Never officially released.]] VHS tapes of the film exist, torrents of the film were made by Trent in 2006, and the film was put up by download, also by Trent, in 2013. Directed by the late [[Music/{{Coil}} Peter Christopherson.]]
* ''Closure'' (1997): Two-disc VHS/DVD set, one tape / disc chronicles the chaotic ''Self Destruct'' tour of '95-'96, the other is a collection of music videos that had been released thus far. (The DVD version got caught in red tape, so Trent got fed up and released torrents of ''that'' as well.)
* ''And All That Could Have Been'' (2002): Included with the "deluxe" album of the same name, it's the live concert DVD of the 2000 ''Fragility 2.0'' tour, and is littered with {{Easter Egg}}s.
* ''Beside You in Time'' (2007): Live concert DVD of the 2005-2006 ''Live: With Teeth'' tour.
* ''Another Version of the Truth'' (2009): An entirely free fan created live concert film assembled from over 400 GB of clips Reznor released on the Internet. In response to the finished product, Reznor responded: "Nine Inch Nails fans kick ass. Blown away."
----

!! '''''Pretty Trope Machine:'''''

* AddictionDisplacement: After finally getting clean of drugs and alcohol, Reznor became a weight lifting enthusiast.
* AlbumTitleDrop: Done twice on ''Broken.''
-->'''"Happiness in Slavery:"''' Just some flesh caught in this big ''broken'' machine\\
'''"Gave Up:"''' Still cannot fix this ''broken'' machine.
* AllLowercaseLetters: Most, if not all, of their liner notes.
* AloneInACrowd: "All the Love in the World."
* ArcWords: "Nothing can stop me now."
* AudienceParticipationSong: Quite a bit, especially from ''The Downward Spiral:''
** The "and I control you" line in "Mr. Self Destruct."
** At any given performance of "March of the Pigs," the audience is often at least as loud as the band.
** The choruses of "Ruiner" and "Piggy."
** "Don't you tell me how I feel" in "I Do Not Want This."
** "Eraser."
** "I wanna fuck you like an animal!" from "Closer."
* AuthorVocabularyCalendar: The fact that [[http://www.ninwiki.com/Recurring_lyrics this page exists]].
* AwesomeMcCoolname:
** Just say it. ''Trent Reznor.''
** His children ''Lazarus Echo Reznor'' and ''Balthazar Reznor.''
* TheBackwardsR: The Cyrillic И, often used to make the initials symmetrical.
* BadassBeard: Has been known to sport one on occasion and had a nice one at the Oscars.
* BlackmailIsSuchAnUglyWord: From "Starfuckers, Inc.:"
-->I sold my soul but don't you dare call me a whore.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: The ending of the bridge of "Starfuckers, Inc." has Trent directly addressing the listener:
-->All our pain\\
How did you think we'd get by without you?\\
You're so vain\\
'''I bet you think this song is about you'''
* BrokenRecord: They have more than a few lyrics that fall under this, usually used as a MadnessMantra (See below).
* CallBack:
** "Nothing can stop me now," used primarily to illustrate the protagonist's delusion in various ''The Downward Spiral'' songs, re-appears on ''The Fragile'' ("La Mer" and "We're in This Together") in a much more optimistic context, and again on one song on ''With Teeth,'' "Sunspots."
** "Down in It" had the lyric: "Just then a tiny little dot caught my eye, it was just about too small to see," which was referenced in "Only" with the line "The tiniest little dot caught my eye, and it turned out to be a scab."
** A line in ''With Teeth'' calls back to the end of "Now I'm Nothing:"
-->''Wave goodbye / to what you were / The rules have changed / the lines begin to blur'' -- "With Teeth"
-->''All that I can do / is break myself in two / I fucked it all away / Now I'm nothing / Wave goodbye'' -- "Now I'm Nothing"
** The title of "The Line Begins to Blur" on the same album calls back to the very same line from "With Teeth."
** The concept of the presence from ''Year Zero,'' being a call back to "The Wretched:"
-->"...The clouds will part and the sky cracks open and God himself will reach his fucking hand through, just to push you down, to hold you down..."
** "The Wretched" from the album ''The Fragile'' contains the line: "Back at the beginning / Sinking, spinning..." which may be a reference to the title of the previous album ''The Downward Spiral.''
** "In This Twilight" calls back to "Survivalism:"
-->"...The world we set on fire..."
** "The Big Come Down" contains a brief excerpt of off-key guitars and buzzing nearly identical to "The Downward Spiral." Fitting, given the former song's subject matter.
* CameBackWrong: Unsurprisingly, the song "Came Back Haunted" has shades of this, whether metaphorically or literally.
* CanonDiscontinuity: Any release without a Halo number. Most of these were forced by the record company. Reznor is very open about how he feels about that.
* CarefulWithThatAxe + MetalScream: One must admit Trent's got a great voice for IndustrialMetal.
** For example, live performances of "March of the Pigs" end with Trent letting loose an impressive scream.
** "Eraser" also ends with a particularly terrifying example.
** The background of "The Downward Spiral" contains many of these as well (perhaps not surprising since the song depicts [[DrivenToSuicide a suicide attempt]]).
** At the end of "Down in It," after some time of progressively screaming the lyrics more intensely, Trent just lets out a feral scream.
* ClusterFBomb:
** "Starfuckers, Inc."
** "Closer" combines this with PrecisionFStrike. Like an animal.
* ConceptAlbum:
** ''The Downward Spiral,'' which follows a man solipsistically shedding every aspect of his world from him until [[spoiler: he attempts suicide.]]
** ''The Fragile,'' which is loosely about depression and trying to re-assemble one's life, only to end up "where it starts -- [with] the same emotion"
** ''Year Zero,'' which presents a dystopian version of 2022 in which nuclear war and bio terrorism has started to erupt and (at the very least) [[UsefulNotes/TheUnitedStates American]] civil liberties are eliminated.
* ContinuityNod:
** "Only" nods to "Down in It:" The latter is halo 1 while the former is halo 20, the vocal delivery is very similar, and "Only" refers to a lyric from "Down in It:"
-->''Just then a tiny little dot / Caught my eye it was just about too small to see / But I watched it way too long / It was pulling me down'' -- "Down in It"
-->''Well, the tiniest little dot caught my eye / And it turned out to be a scab / And I had this funny feeling / [[OhCrap Like I just knew it's something bad]]'' -- "Only"
** "Adrift and at Peace" is the conclusion to "[[GratuitousFrench La Mer,]]" according to Reznor.
** "Nothing can stop me now," ArcWords in ''The Downward Spiral,'' re-appear in the songs "La Mer," "Sunspots," and "We're in This Together," which are from two other albums.
* ControlFreak:
** Trent himself admits to being this, and it shows up in many songs.
** The character in ''The Downward Spiral'' appeared to be this.
* CoverVersion: Quite a few -- and (almost) all [[UsefulNotes/{{Britain}} English]] musicians, to boot.
** "Physical" (Music/AdamAnt).
** "Suck" (''Pigface''). [[note]] Though the ''Pigface'' version was a collaboration with Trent Reznor to begin with -- he co-wrote the song and sang lead vocals on the studio recording. [[/note]]
** "Get Down Make Love" (Music/{{Queen}}).
** "Dead Souls" (Music/JoyDivision).
** "Supernaut" (Music/BlackSabbath [with 1000 Homo [=DJs=]]).
** "Memorabilia" (Music/SoftCell).
** "Metal" (Music/GaryNuman).
** "Zoo Station" (Music/{{U2}}).
** Two from his ''Dragon Tattoo'' soundtrack, albeit with female singers: Music/LedZeppelin's "Immigrant Song" (with Karen O of the Music/YeahYeahYeahs), and [[Music/RoxyMusic Brian Ferry's]] "Is Your Love Strong Enough" (with Mariqueen from Music/HowToDestroyAngels).
** He sometimes plays Music/HowToDestroyAngels songs live.
** From that same album: "The Beauty of the Drug."
* CrossReferencedTitles: ''Broken'' and its companion remix EP, ''Fixed.''
* CyberneticsEatYourSoul: "The Becoming," symbolically.
* DarkerAndEdgier: ''Broken'' is ''definitely'' darker (and angrier) than ''Pretty Hate Machine,'' and ''Music/TheDownwardSpiral'' is [[UpToEleven even darker]] -- what else can you say about a ConceptAlbum about a descent into madness that may or may not end with suicide? ''The Fragile'' {{zig|ZaggedTrope}}zags this -- it has more LighterAndSofter moments than ''The Downward Spiral,'' but with its [[{{Bookends}} cyclical nature]] and DownerEnding, it ultimately winds up being arguably just as dark overall as its predecessor. ''With Teeth'' is definitely LighterAndSofter though, at least comparatively.
** ''Music/YearZero'' is also this compared to ''With Teeth''.
* DarkWave: ''Pretty Hate Machine'' is a bit more synth heavy than later releases and sounds very much like twisted SynthPop.
* DeclarationOfProtection: "The Fragile."
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: Lots of publicity photos.
* DigitalPiracyIsOkay: Encouraged by Reznor himself, out of spite for [[ExecutiveMeddling the record industry.]] Trent ''[[http://www.theninhotline.net/news/archives/backissue.php?y=07&m=9#1189989696 actually encouraged fans to steal his own music]]'' due to his loathing of how badly his record company was screwing his fans (he specifically used the word "steal" repeatedly, too.) No doubt that because of Trent's preference for free downloading of his albums, the albums ''The Slip'' and ''Ghosts I-IV'' were released under a Creative Commons license that allows unlimited non commercial [[note]] that is, in contrast to the CC license Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} uses that does not forbid commercial use. [[/note]] sharing and modification as long as credit is given. These can be downloaded legally at no charge from archive.org, though physical copies are also available for a fee.
** DigitalPiracyIsEvil: This trope was played straight during ''The Fragile'' era, though.
* DistinctDoubleAlbum: ''The Fragile,'' which has a "left" and "right" disc, both being around 50 minutes long.
* DownerEnding:
** ''Music/TheDownwardSpiral'' ends with [[spoiler: a suicide attempt, and whether or not it went through is still left to open interpretation]].
** ''The Fragile'' is loosely about depression and trying to re-assemble one's life, only to end up "where it starts -- [with] the same emotion."
** ''Year Zero'' ends with [[spoiler: TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt]].
* EpicRocking: "Closer" (6:13), "Reptile" (6:52), "Hurt" (6:14), "We're in This Together" (7:15), "Ripe (With Decay)" (6:34), "Zero-Sum" (6:14), "Corona Radiata" (7:33), and "All Time Low" (6:18).
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: ''Pretty Hate Machine'' is at its heart a SynthPop album, contrasted with the rawer sound of ''Broken'' and ''The Downward Spiral.''
** The bootleg ''Purest Feeling'' is made up of ''Pretty Hate Machine'' demos, and they sound even ''more'' poppy. "Maybe Just Once" sounds like a lost Music/DepecheMode track.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Trent's sobriety and newly founded family have seemingly made him a much happier individual compared to ''The Downward Spiral'' era. The angst factor has significantly dropped because of it. This however divides the fans of the group even to this day, with one side preferring the "old Trent" and the other preferring the "new Trent."
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt: How ''Year Zero'' [[DownerEnding ends]].
* EverythingIsAnInstrument:
** Trent has been exploring and exploiting the ways computers and samples can be used to make music from the beginning. The melody at the end of "Terrible Lie" was created by sampling a woodblock and then processing it with filters and distortion.
** Used especially in the ''Ghosts'' series, which included, for instance, a cookie sheet with a chain laid across it being struck percussively.
* EverythingSoundsSexierInFrench: "La Mer" is in Creole French, which may be because the album was recorded in UsefulNotes/NewOrleans.
* ExcitedShowTitle: "''HYPERPOWER!''"
* FadingIntoTheNextSong / SiameseTwinSongs: Nearly all albums use both of these tropes extensively.
* FunkRock: Pops up on occasion in the ''NIN'' ouvre -- due, no doubt, to his admiration for Music/{{Prince}}. Includes "Closer," "All Time Low," and "Satellite" among others.
* GodIsDead: Invoked by name in "Heresy."
* HappinessInSlavery: The song is the {{Trope Namer|s}}!
* HatesEveryoneEqually: From "Wish:"
--> "Don't think you're having all the fun\\
You know me, I hate everyone"
* HereWeGoAgain: The "Happiness in Slavery" video features a man going through a ritual before sitting in a machine that rips him apart, kills him, and engulfs him, and it ends with Trent entering the room and beginning the same ritual.
* HeterosexualLifePartners:
** Trent had this kind of relationship with Chris Vrenna until 1997. They became friends as teenagers, owing to the fact that they grew up within fifty miles (90 km) of one another (Vrenna is originally from Erie, Pennsylvania; Reznor is from a town called Mercer, about forty minutes south).
** Trent with Atticus Ross from the 2000s on.
* HumanoidAbomination: The Presence from the ''Year Zero'' universe, a massive four fingered arm descending from the sky that strikes intense feelings of terror into anyone who sees it. [[spoiler: It is eventually responsible for TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt.]]
* IAmSong: "Mr. Self Destruct" and its remixes, "Big Man with a Gun," and "Sanctified."
* IAmBecomingSong: "The Becoming," natch. {{Invoked|Trope}} in the lyrics.
* IcarusAllusion: In "Somewhat Damaged:"
-->Flew too high and burnt the wing
* ImportantHaircut: Trent cut his trademark long, messy hair sometime after getting over his addiction problems and recording ''With Teeth.'' He's had a buzz cut ever since, with a transitional shorter cut seen in the photo at the top of the page.
* IncrediblyLongNote: At the end of "Hurt." Also counts as a LastNoteNightmare.
* {{Industrial}}: Songs like "Heresy" and "The Becoming" off of ''The Downward Spiral'' show that Trent still (back then, at least) could make genuine Industrial music.
* IndustrialMetal: The TropeCodifier.
* IntentionallyAwkwardTitle: Despite various apocryphal origin stories, Trent's basic story on how he came to "Nine Inch Nails" as the band name is simple: It sounded cool and abbreviated easily.
* IntercourseWithYou: So many of their songs:
** [[CaptainObvious ''Closer,'' to nobody's surprise,]] although Reznor in interviews [[SuspiciouslySpecificDenial denied its inclusion of sexual lyrics]] and instead suggested it to be an AntiLoveSong.
** "Reptile" and "Sin" are more about the destructive impact of a relationship than actual sex.
** Often {{Lampshade|Hanging}}d when "The Only Time" is performed live; Trent often introduces it with "This song... Is about... [[PrecisionFStrike FUCKING]]."
** Even more lampshading occurred during the Self-Destruct Tour. About to perform a cover of Queen's "Get Down Make Love" right after "Suck" and "The Only Time," both about sex, Trent commented: "It's all about the fucking."
* JumpScare: A lot of instances where songs get quiet and then suddenly burst right back into the noisiness come off as this. Examples include "March of the Pigs," "The Day the World Went Away," "With Teeth," and especially the climax of "Hurt."
* LargeHam:
-->I AM A BIG MAN, YES I AM, AND I'VE GOT A BIG GUN.
** Another stupendously notable one:
-->I am the GREAT DESTROYEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEER.
* LastNoteNightmare: "Hurt" is a relatively calm song, albeit still filthily fuzzy and distorted, but as Trent sings the final line, a [[JumpScare loud]] series of distorted guitar notes burst in out of nowhere, with the last note [[IncrediblyLongNote holding]] and dissolving into the offsetting "ambience."
* LighterAndSofter:
** His post ''The Fragile'' work is this to his older work, with the obvious exception of ''Music/YearZero,'' of course. ''Hesitation Marks'' is the lightest album he's ever released.
** "Everything" off "Hesitation Marks" could be the most un-''NIN' song yet. It's an '80s style rock song, with PowerPop and {{New Wave|Music}} influences thrown in -- and even with LyricalDissonance, the narrator's finally accepted the other "thing" inside him from the previous songs.
* LimitedSpecialCollectorsUltimateEdition: ''Ghosts I-IV'' got this treatment by its release in five different packages: A digital download of the full album in FLAC with digital extras; a 2CD format; a 4 LP format; a Deluxe Edition featuring the [=CDs=], a 24/48 blu-ray and a DVD-ROM with multitrack stems for the full album; and an Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition, which paired the Deluxe Edition with the vinyl copy, a coffee table book of the artwork and two exclusive Giclée prints. A free torrent of the first 9 songs (Ghosts I) also existed.
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: A quote from Al Jourgensen from a 1987 Music/{{Ministry}} concert saying that "listening to Ministry is like having a nine inch nail hammered into your head like a hole" inspired not only the band name but also the name of "Head Like a Hole."
* LonelyPianoPiece: Many of them. "La Mer," "The Frail," the list goes on.
* LoudnessWar: {{ZigZagged|Trope}}. Most ''Nine Inch Nails'' albums have sections with significant amounts of dynamics, but Reznor also likes to boost the levels on the loudest parts to the extent that they clip (and, like many artists who do this, this has gotten progressively more pronounced on later releases -- just compare the mastering on ''The Fragile'' to that on ''The Downward Spiral,'' or the latter to that on ''Broken''). This is usually the case even on the vinyl editions. ''Hesitation Marks'' was released in an "audiophile edition" which turned out not to be much more dynamic than the CD, though the vinyl turned out to have decent range in comparison.
* LyricalDissonance:
** "Everyday is Exactly the Same" is one of ''NIN'''s softer and, quite frankly, more "mainstream" songs. It's also one of the most [[TearJerker depressing.]]
** "Everything" continues the dark lyrical theme of the previous "Hesitation Marks" song -- it, at first, seems like the narrator is happy, but only because he's accepting whatever has been eating at him away inside and will wither away to die.
* MadnessMantra:
** From "The Becoming:" "It won't give up, it wants me dead, and goddamn this noise inside my head."
** The ArcWords of ''The Downward Spiral,'' "nothing can stop me now," are often utilized this way, with some variation ("nothing can stop me now 'cause I don't care" in "Piggy," "you didn't hurt me, nothing can hurt me, nothing can hurt me, nothing can stop me now" in "Ruiner," etc.)
** The ending of "I Do Not Want This:" "I wanna know everything, I wanna be everywhere, I wanna fuck everyone in the world, I wanna do something that MATTERS..."
* MinimalisticCoverArt: ''Broken,'' ''The Downward Spiral,'' ''With Teeth...'' Ah hell, most every one of their albums has this.
* MinisculeRocking:
** "Pinion," "Big Man with a Gun," "The Frail," "''HYPERPOWER!,''" and "999,999," plus one or two songs from ''Ghosts I-IV.''
** Technically speaking, the shortest ''NIN'' track isn't even a song at all; the final track on the ''Head Like a Hole'' single is only four seconds long and consists of a sound clip taken from their performance on ''Dance Party USA'' of host Heather Day saying: "Let's hear it for ''Nine Inch Nails!'' Woo! They're good!"
* MisogynySong:
** Satirized in "Big Man with a Gun" [[http://www.theninhotline.net/archives/articles/xint8a.shtml according to]] WordOfGod, inspired by its prevalence in GangstaRap. Unfortunately, it was misinterpreted as an example itself.
** "Closer" is another example of a song that was misinterpreted as being a serious example of this trope (mostly because the general public generally failed to pay attention to anything but the song's most famous line); if anything, the intended meaning puts it closer to being a MisandrySong, as it implies that the only way the protagonist finds self-worth is through sex.
* MohsScaleOfRockAndMetalHardness: All over the freaking place, from a 1 or 2 ("Hurt" minus the LastNoteNightmare, "The Great Below," "Right Where It Belongs," "A Warm Place") to an 8 ("Gave Up," "Starfuckers Inc.") or even an arguable 9 ("Big Man with a Gun," some of the stuff on ''Broken''); "March of the Pigs" and "Big Man with a Gun" are a 9, with the former being a borderline 10. Most of the heavy stuff's around 6-7, though.
* {{Mondegreen}}: In one interview Trent Reznor wanted to drive home the point that in "Head Like a Hole" he is saying: "God / Money" and not "Got money?" and in "Down in It," he is saying: "I was up above it" and not "Eyes of a puppet."
** There's a photo out there of one of guitarist Aaron North's setlists on the ''With_Teeth'' tour, that reads: "Down in It AKA Eyes of a Puppet," along with a few other jokes.
* MoodDissonance: "The Becoming" contrasts ominous industrial sounds and lyrics about dehumanization with surprisingly low-key vocals.
* MoodWhiplash:
** "March of the Pigs," and "With Teeth."
** "I Do Not Want This," especially if you agree with the popular theory that it's [[SplitPersonality two different sides of the]] [[ItMakesSenseInContext character speaking]].
** Song to song transition example: On ''The Downward Spiral,'' the noisy and hyper aggressive "Big Man with a Gun" is followed by the calm ambient soundscapes of "A Warm Place," which is then followed by the slow burning aggression of "Eraser." Which is ''then'' followed by the pulsing, ripping sound of "Reptile."
* MrFanservice: Trent Pre-''With Teeth:'' Somewhat waifish, long flowing black hair, and at times bordering on outright {{bishonen}}. Post-''With Teeth:'' Kicked his drug addictions and took up weight lifting to compensate. The end results were... [[HeroicBuild impressive,]] to say the least.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Quite a few of Trent's songs are about regret; includes "Gave Up" (After everything I've done / I hate myself for what I've become) and "Zero Sum" (Shame on us / After all we've done).
* NewSoundAlbum: All of them, technically.
** ''Pretty Hate Machine'' had an evil SynthPop sound to it, with some obvious overtones and clear influences from Music/SkinnyPuppy.
** Then while the ''Broken'' / ''The Downward Spiral'' era came around, they switched to a more aggressive, industrial metal sound.
** ''The Fragile'' featured more industrial elements and it was a little less heavy.
** Then years later, ''With Teeth'' was released, and it had a more straight forward rock sound with only hints here and there of what he'd done in years past.
** ''Year Zero'' was ''very'' electronically influenced, with much of it composed on Reznor's laptop.
** ''Ghosts I-IV'' is instrumental dark ambient music.
** ''The Slip'' reverted back to the sound of ''With Teeth.''
** ''Hesitation Marks'' was a somber, calm, and soft departure from previous albums.
* NietzscheWannabe: The character in ''[[ConceptAlbum The Downward Spiral]]'', to the point of [[GodIsDead actually quoting him]]. Trent himself had moments like these in earlier interviews. The album's lyrics themselves seem to indicate that Trent may have ''actually read'' Nietzsche, so it's really just the character in question and not Trent himself.
* ObligatoryBondageSong: Trent has many songs that seem like this unless you're following the continuity of [[ConceptAlbum the album they're in.]] "Meet Your Master" is a good example of this. Alternatively, you might not realize that songs like "Happiness in Slavery" or "Head Like a Hole" are actually about record labels unless you actually know about Trent's history with them. There's also "Sin," which sounds like a song about D/s, which isn't helped by the ridiculously fetishistic MusicVideo... Which is a lot like [[AndIMustScream most]] [[BoundAndGagged of]] [[WhipItGood their videos]]. It's more like Obligatory Bondage Music Video...
* ObsessionSong: A few songs have themes of this, in particular "Closer to God," a remix of "Closer," and "Kinda I Want To."
* OminousMessageFromTheFuture: The entirety of the ''Year Zero'' ARG is this, with the earliest quantum computers suddenly receiving a bunch of websites from their future selves, depicting a dystopic future and the end of the world in 2025. Unfortunately, the messages sent back were partially corrupted by the future computers being damaged during the upload, either by government agents or [[EldritchAbomination The Presence.]] Nonetheless, the implication remains that having received the messages has changed the timeline and averted the events of ''Year Zero.''
* ThePlan: The entire game leading up to the release (and beyond) of ''Year Zero.'' [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Campaign_timeline_of_the_Year_Zero_alternate_reality_game It's complicated.]]
* PleaseDontLeaveMe: Directly {{lampshade|hanging}}d in "Please."
* ProductPlacement:
** Could easily be a coincidence, but in [[Literature/MillenniumTrilogy a film that Reznor worked on the soundtrack for]] a character is seen wearing a ''Nine Inch Nails'' T-shirt.
** Trent Reznor and then ''NIN'' engineer Sean Beaven created the soundtrack for the game ''VideoGame/{{Quake}}.'' The ''NIN'' logo was used in-game on all of the ammo boxes for the nailgun.
* {{Pun}}: This gem from "The Only Time:"
-->"My moral standing is lying down."
* RapRock: "Capital G.," "Down in It," "Where is Everybody?" (The latter is also pretty much a PissTakeRap).
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech: [[note]] Some of these are less directed at anyone specifically and more reinforcing the concept of the album they're in. [[/note]]
** "No, You Don't" is basically one big verbal bitch slap to someone who may or may not be Music/CourtneyLove (she gets a more direct mockery in the video for "Starfuckers Inc.")
** "You Know What You Are?"
** "Happiness in Slavery."
** "Starfuckers Inc." itself counts as one at Music/CourtneyLove, though it's also said to be directed at [[Music/LimpBizkit Fred Durst]] and Music/MarilynManson as well -- [[TakeThat it even imitates Manson's apparent habit of having to record vocals in MANY takes...]] Of course, Manson was also ''[[TheReveal in the video]].''
** "March of the Pigs" is one towards society as a whole, and "Ruiner" and "Terrible Lie" are ones about ''God.''
* RecordProducer: Trent's personally produced every single ''NIN'' album, with help from various others at some points, like Adrian Sherwood and John Fryer (''Pretty Hate Machine''), Flood (''Broken,'' ''The Downward Spiral'') and Alan Moulder (''The Fragile,'' ''With Teeth''). All the ''NIN'' albums since ''Year Zero'' have been credited to Reznor, Moulder, and Atticus Ross.
* RecurringRiff:
** There's a descending melodic line that appears in several songs on ''The Downward Spiral,'' albeit in different keys.
** "La Mer" and "Into the Void" both share basslines, though on "La Mer," it's not the main riff.
* RecycledTrailerMusic: Quite a few action movies use ''NIN'' songs in their trailers nowadays.
* RefrainFromAssuming: The song "Fuck You Like an Animal" is actually called "Closer." Not helped by the single release (as well as a remixed version of "Closer") being titled "Closer to God."
* ReligionRantSong: "Heresy" and "Ruiner" from ''The Downward Spiral,'' "Terrible Lie" from ''Pretty Hate Machine,'' and judging by WordOfGod, "Capital G" from ''Year Zero'' as well. "Find My Way" is a weird version, as the narrator begs the Lord to watch over him and take him back -- even though he knows there's no Lord.
* RockersSmashGuitars: Live ''NIN'' shows in TheNineties could give Music/TheWho a run for their money when it comes to on-stage destruction. Guitars, keyboards, and sound equipment alike have all gone faulty numerous times during ''NIN'' shows, and have been subsequently obliterated. Reznor was fond of using the heel of his boot to strip keys off of keyboards. During a Lollapalooza show, Trent had a particularly infamous outburst:
-->'''Trent:''' Every single thing was fucking up; monitors weren't on, guitars were out of tune, the mic stand was nowhere to be seen. Every fuck up that could happen happened. Also the crowd were a little weird, and I just snapped... I just went totally violent, really scared a lot of people. I picked up my out-of-tune guitar, and smashed the fuckin' thing on the keyboard. [[MoodWhiplash Then I turned around and went about my business of the next song.]] [...] A couple of songs later our road manager ran by and said "It's OK, the medics are finally here." I just looked at him and said "Medics? What fuckin' medics? What for?" Then I turned around and saw James scowling at me, with all this blood trickling down his face. Seems a piece of guitar busted off and hit him in the head. [[ButForMeItWasTuesday Oh well, that's showbiz.]]"
* {{Sampling}}:
** Not only from the obligatory old horror and sci-fi movies, but also occasionally from other artists. ''Pretty Hate Machine'''s liner notes thanked Music/{{Prince}}, Music/PublicEnemy, Music/JanesAddiction, among others because Trent sampled them.
** "Big Man with a Gun" from ''The Downward Spiral'' begins with a sample of what is apparently a porn star having an orgasm, heavily processed so as to be unrecognizable. The album booklet gives the sample the NonIndicativeName of "Steakhouse."
** The most prominent unprocessed sample is the "Goodnight, whoo!" and crowd noise featured in the single version of "Starfuckers, Inc."
** An expansive list can be found [[http://www.ninwiki.com/Samples_In_NIN_Songs here.]] The most unusual samples on the list include ''Saddam Hussein'''s trial verdict and a Website/YouTube video of ''VideoGame/BioShock'' cosplay.
* SanitySlippageSong:
** ''The Downward Spiral'' is 14 tracks of this, including "Piggy" (which sets the whole thing off, after the narrator [[LoveMakesYouCrazy gets dumped]]), "Ruiner" (which [[WordSaladLyrics seemingly]] has the narrator convinced he's defeated God), and "Big Man with a Gun" (in which the narrator loses it completely and rapes someone).
** "Echoplex," "Somewhat Damaged," and "Slipping Away."
* SelfBackingVocalist: Virtually all of the background vocals on Trent's songs are... Well, Trent. The only songs with audibly non-Trent contributions from the band's entire career are "La Mer" (which is instrumental apart from Denise Milfrot's French mumbling) and "Pilgrimage" (which is instrumental with indistinct militaristic chanting in the background). "The Day the World Went Away" and "Starfuckers, Inc." also contain aversions of this.
* ShoutOut: The ''NIN'' logo is based on the typography on the cover of the Music/TalkingHeads album ''Music/RemainInLight.''
* SingleStanzaSong: "The Day The World Went Away," "The Way Out is Through," "Big Man with a Gun," "The Downward Spiral," and "Eraser."
* SnuffFilm: The ''Broken'' movie was filmed (very convincingly) to look like one in its wraparound story.
* SomethingCompletelyDifferent:
** "Everything" from ''Hesitation Marks'' is a PowerPop / PostPunk song.
** ''Ghosts I-IV'' is an album rooted in dark ambient.
* SpokenWordInMusic: Used in "Closer," "The Downward Spiral," The Becoming," and "Zero-Sum."
* StopAndGo: "God Given."
* SubduedSection: Practically the king of this trope. Songs from ''The Downward Spiral'' were especially prone to this.
* SubvertedRhymeEveryOccasion: "All the Love in the World:"
-->"It looks as though the past is here to stay\\
I've become a million miles a..."
* SurprisinglyGentleSong:
** "A Warm Place."
** "Zero Sum," the last track on ''Year Zero.''
** "Lights in the Sky," from ''The Slip.''
** Most of his piano pieces fall under this.
* TakeThat: Many.
** The "eat your heart out, Steve" whisper at the start of "Physical" is directed at Steve Gottlieb, the head of ''TVT Records'' who tried to interfere with the recording of ''Broken'' and prevent Trent from moving to ''Interscope.'' Further insults are in the "Gave Up" video, where [[http://i.imgur.com/SVurIDh.jpg one shot of a Macintosh running Pro Tools]] has the sequence title "fuck you steve," and the ''Broken'' liner notes, which end with "no thanks: you know who you fucking are" and "the slave thinks he is released from bondage only to find a stronger set of chains."
** "Starfuckers, Inc." to celebrities and fame in general, with Music/MarilynManson in particular. Also see TakeThat in the video section.
** "Ruiner" is an InUniverse TakeThat for God. [[note]] In the context of the album, the narrator loses his soul, sense of morality, and ends up a soulless machine in "The Becoming" and "I Do Not Want This," which then leads to him raping someone in "Big Man With a Gun." [[/note]]
** "Big Man with a Gun" is this for cock rock.
** During his feud with Manson, Trent mocked his cover of Music/DepecheMode's "Personal Jesus" in response to a fan letter, saying he'd love to record a cover that sounds exactly the same as the original.
** ''[[http://www.nin.com/strobelight/ Strobe Light]]'' is a piss-take at [[Music/{{Soundgarden}} Chris Cornell's]] expense. Trent had previously mocked his badly received ''Scream'' on Twitter, writing: "You know that feeling you get when somebody embarrasses themselves so badly YOU feel uncomfortable? Heard Chris Cornell's record? Jesus."
* TestosteronePoisoning: "Big Man with a Gun."
* TextlessAlbumCover: ''The Fragile'' (only a portion of the NIN logo is visible), ''Year Zero,'' and ''The Slip.''
** Some versions of ''The Downward Spiral,'' too.
* TitleOnlyChorus: "With Teeth," "Terrible Lie," "Starfuckers, Inc.," and "That's What I Get."
* TitleTrack:
** ''The Downward Spiral'' and ''With Teeth'' are straight examples.
** ''Ghosts I-IV'' takes this trope to its LogicalExtreme: ''Every single song on that album'' (yes, all [[EndingFatigue 36]] of them) are titled with their track number, the word "Ghost" and either I, II, III, or IV.
* UncommonTime:
** The verses of "March of the Pigs" are three bars of 7/8 followed by one bar of 8/8.
** Similarly, most of "The Becoming" takes the form of a bar of 7/4 followed by a bar of 6/4.
* {{Understatement}}: The song "Somewhat Damaged" is about a guy who's a ''lot'' more damaged than "somewhat".[[note]]It was apparently used by Creator/TomHiddleston as psychological preparation for playing Loki in ''Film/{{The Avengers|2012}},'' if that says anything.[[/note]]
* WorldOfCardboardSpeech: "The Great Destroyer:"
-->"I hope they cannot see the limitless potential
-->Living inside of me to murder everything
-->I hope they cannot see I am the GREAT [[BigWordShout DESTROYERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR]]..."
* VocalEvolution: Trent's voice and style has changed a lot from the beginning, particularly in how deep it's gotten. This is most evident in ''[[ConceptAlbum Year Zero]]''.
* ZeroesAndOnes: The very last lyric on ''Year Zero''.
-->''Shame on us / for all we have done / and all we ever were / just zeroes and ones''
----

!! Tropes used in [=NIN=] videos:

* AmusementParkOfDoom: "Starfuckers, Inc." involves Trent and a girl (later revealed to be [[spoiler: Marilyn Manson]]) going to a run-down carnival that has games that include throwing albums into a toilet, smashing porcelain figures of famous rock stars, and a dunk tank that replaces the water with toxic waste.
* AndIMustScream: "Pinion" shows a person in a tight bondage suit that has a network of pipes end with an attachment to the mouth portion of the suit with water (or waste) gushing in.
* BadVibrations: "Only."
* BoundAndGagged:
** Trent in "Closer."
** Trent in "Sin," though only for the bound part.
** The character in "Help Me I Am in Hell."
* {{Bowdlerise}}: In the music video and radio edit versions, "Starfuckers, Inc." became "Star''suckers'', Inc." In this new song, "bitch," "fucking," and "suck you" were censored as well as "taste" (due to its connection to the "suck you" line), and the bridge was for some reason changed entirely. For some reason, "whore" was left intact.
* TheCameo: Music/MarilynManson appears as the guitarist in the video for "Gave Up." [[spoiler: And as the girl in the "Starfuckers, Inc." video.]]
* DeliberatelyMonochrome: "Survivalism" and "We're in This Together."
* EpilepticFlashingLights: "Came Back Haunted." Even has a seizure warning at the beginning of the video.
* FanDisservice: The music videos for "Closer" and "Happiness in Slavery."
* GainaxEnding: "Down in It" has an ending that's very unclear explicitly, only showing what happens before and after a significant event; all it shows is Trent climbing to the roof of a building and then his dead body on the ground, presumably having fallen from the building.
* {{Gorn}}: The ''Broken'' movie. "Happiness in Slavery" takes it to extremes.
* HellBentForLeather: Many music videos include someone wearing leather. Trent himself, appears in latex in the video for "Wish."
* JigsawPuzzlePlot: "Deep."
* LastNoteNightmare: "Hurt."
* MindScrew: "The Perfect Drug" and "Help Me I Am in Hell."
* TheOner: The music video for "March of the Pigs," said to be the only recorded take that "didn't suck."
* PerformanceVideo: "March of the Pigs," "Gave Up," "The Hand That Feeds," "Wish," and "Survivalism."
* RuleOfSymbolism: Both "Closer" and "The Perfect Drug," directed by Mark Romanek, hold symbolic imagery that mostly have to do with famous photos.
* SnuffFilm:
** ''Broken'' is played as this. Not only are most of the music videos of the EP tracks playing this straight, but there's a whole short eponymous film based around the music videos that also contains an overarching plot that's a snuff film in itself.
** Footage from "Down in It" was also investigated, by the UsefulNotes/AmericanLawEnforcement, as one of the weather balloons a camera was attached to drifted off, was later found some 200 miles away, and got reported to them.
* SpitTrailKiss: "Deep," though it's technically a spit trail ''lick.''
* StopMotion: The video for "Only" features animation, via one of those push pin novelty toys, generally found in Spencer Gifts, or similar stores.
* TakeThat: "Starfuckers, Inc." The video mocks Courtney Love, depicts Trent throwing copies of [[SelfDeprecation his own album]] and Music/MechanicalAnimals, in the trash at a carnival attraction, and smashing porcelain figures of Creator/PamelaAnderson, Fred Durst, Gene Simmons, Trent himself, among others. Marilyn Manson (the person) realized, the song was directed at him, and rather than getting pissed, like most people would, [[spoiler: appeared in the video as the girl.]]
* ThreeMinutesOfWrithing: In the literal, death throes sort of way.
* TomatoSurprise: The identity of the girl who follows Trent around in "Starfuckers, Inc." [[spoiler: It's Music/MarilynManson.]]
* TwistEnding: "Starfuckers, Inc." See TomatoSurprise.
* UnsettlingGenderReveal: See TomatoSurprise.
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: The "Help Me I Am in Hell" video shows a man casually eating steak and wine... in a room full of flies.
----
->''"[[BizarroEpisode Let's hear it for Nine Inch Nails! Whoo! They're good!]]"''