Literature: John Dies at the End
"You're on it right now? That's how you did the thing with the, uh, with the coins and the dream and all that earlier?"
"Yeah. I took some today. It's fading though."
"So the effects don't last that long."
side effects don't last that long. The effects will last the rest of my life, I think... Maybe longer."
A web serial-turned-published-book by author David Wong (actually Jason Pargin, head editor of Cracked
), written in autobiographical style, narrated by a character named David Wong
about his and his best friend's adventures featuring the paranormal.
Dave and John are two college dropouts living in the middle of an "Undisclosed" town in Illinois. John is a deranged, irresponsible, carefree, slacker/rocker/drug enthusiast. Dave is an apathetic, bored, snarky withdrawn young man with a traumatic past and the tendency to get dragged along with whatever John happens to be doing. After a run-in with a living hallucinogenic drug at a party, the pair gain the ability to see ghosts, demons, and into other dimensions. Hilarity Ensues
. So does violence. And Monsters. And weirdness. And swearing. And an unbelievable
amount of dick jokes and Toilet Humor
Once available for free at http://www.johndiesattheend.com
, but now that it's being published, there's just a humorous promotional blog addressing the (supposed) rumors that the events of the story really happenednote
A sequel, titled This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously Dude, Don't Touch It
, has also been released.
The film adaptation directed by Don Coscarelli
was released hit theaters on January 25th, 2013 and is also available on iTunes
. Its trailer can be watched here
And hello to those of you from Cracked
Provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: When John and Dave get somewhat famous due to the Sauce, people begin sending them bizarre things. One of them is a package of explosive bullets for David's pistol. Later, John uses the Soy Sauce's properties to convert a Super Soaker into a proper flamethrower. Finally, the heroes blow up Korrok's universe with dog shit.
- Adorkable: Amy.
- Adventure Duo: Dave is more serious and literal-minded (to the point of missing blatant clues), a trait he credits to an array of negative character traits. John is flat-out crazy and rolls better with the insane crap pitched at them, but he also lacks some common sense.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Subverted. The inhabitants of Korrok's world are concerned their manner of dress will upset John and Dave, and so go naked except for hoods. Many of them are noted as being elderly. The whole effect just makes the experience stranger and more alien, especially when John sees what's under them.
- Aliens in Cardiff: Korrok invades our dimension in Undisclosed, an unnamed town in the American midwest.
- Alternate History:
- Other universes are often alternate histories where one or more important details have changed, resulting in often-cataclysmic differences from our own world. For example, Korrok comes from a world where Organic Technology was fully mastered. He's an out-of-control supercomputer.
- The Shadow Men exist out of time and can make changes in history that echo in the present. Arnie mentions to Dave near the end of the book that he vaguely remembers false memories of John Paul II dying during the assassination attempt and being replaced by a black pope who adopts the name Leo. Much more threateningly, the Shadow Men threaten to suddenly change the timeline to kill Amy if David does not back off.
- All There in the Manual: The website and several forum comments by the author (and John Cheese, who, as the name suggests, is who John is based off of) detail the back story and side stories of the novel. Impressively, revelations in the novel make throwaway gags in the preview updates much, much creepier.
- Always Someone Better: Dr. Marconi, a rich and respected former priest, archaeologist, and ass-kicker of the demonic and undead. He resembles the typical Lovecraft protagonist, especially Prof. Armitage, and likely would be the hero in a traditional Lovecraftian take on the story.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Korrok is a violent, tyrannical, evil, petty, narcissistic, sadistic, racist, homophobic, know-it-all organic supercomputer from another dimension, with the maturity of a 13-year-old playing an online game. It's a tower of flesh and nerves bigger than the statue of liberty, wants to rule the entire multiverse, and eats people wrapped in bacon.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: Dave, in the ending, turns out to be the one who was dead - and he was killed halfway through the novel, to be replaced by a Korrok clone.
- Angel Unaware: Possibly Molly, if "Fred Durst" in the end was really her.
- Anti Anti Christ: When the pair finally get dragged to meet Korrok, it turns out they're Chosen Ones... for allowing Korrok to cross into their universe. They're definitely not down with that idea.
- Anti-Hero: Dave isn't the greatest guy, and he does some pretty nasty stuff here and there. However, he does enough good to escape being a mere Designated Hero, even if many of his bravest deeds were performed by Monster Dave, and isn't too bad a guy at all when not forced into universe-threatening circumstances.
- Anyone Can Die: As a result of Cloning Blues, almost every named character including John, though, ironically, at the beginning, not the end, and he comes back anyway dies at one point in the novel, most of them onscreen.
- Arbitrary Skepticism:
- Somewhat justified, since the majority of the mail that John and Dave get are from bona fide crazies who give them nothing useful.
- Arnie still seems very dubious of David's story even after David shows him a Wig Monster. It takes David a good deal of luck to convince him from not turning and leaving. It turns out that Arnie really wanted to believe him all along and was just looking for Dave to provide a strong case.
- Armor-Piercing Question: "Describe yourself to me, Arnie. Physically. Tell me what you look like."
- ASCII Art: John is proficient with it. Also used in the story to depict the pi-symbol Korrok uses to mark cloned humans and animals. There's a short segment in which there's a passage quoted by a tribe about Korrok - the reasoning is that it's supposed to be Korrok angrily projectile vomiting and pissing at the same time. (Turn the pi symbol on its side, so the curvy part is down.)
- Asshole Victim: Billy Hitchcock, David's tormentor and possible rapist, who Dave clawed the eyes out of and caused him to commit suicide later. Sealing a dog's eyes and mouth shut with a glue gun is the LEAST assholish thing about him...
- Author Avatar: David Wong. In a book written by David Wong. Yeah.
- Badass Preacher: Definitely Dr. Marconi.
- Berserk Button: Dave snaps and brutally beats down a guy who describes Amy as a liability that he should abandon.
- Better Than a Bare Bulb: Part of the plot when Arnie realizes that Dean Koontz has been writing fiction about Shadow Men lately, much like the ones in Dave's story, and calls out Dave on it. This is done in part because the early versions, according to the author, were a little too close to Dean Koontz's style of plot, down to Molly being an intelligent golden retriever instead of an "Irish rust dog".
- Big Damn Heroes: Happens offscreen to four college students. Dave and John are unimpressed.
- Bio Punk: Shit Narnia is an alternate Earth where technology branched off into this.
- Black Comedy:
- The universe imminently ending is no reason to keep from laughing at the sheer ridiculous horror of the circumstances.
- David notes early on that the otherworldly forces plaguing him have a very dark and juvenile sense of humor
- Blue and Orange Morality - Robert North and Korrok's worshipers, who, as a result of Korrok's calculations and predictions of events, have adjusted their morals - for example, stealing is okay in certain circumstances of his predictions, since the stolen object could hurt the owner or be used by the owner to hurt someone else. Doesn't apply to Korrok himself, however. He's just an enormous cock.
- Big Bad: Korrok.
- Body Horror:
- Bond One-Liner: John goes a bit overboard with chair puns when he gets the chance, even deliberately going into battle again after escaping just because he thought of one more and couldn't bear to leave it unsaid.
- Book Safe: Dave keeps his gun in a hollowed-out Koran.
- Breather Episode: The time between the trip to Las Vegas and returning to Undisclosed... until the Shadow Men show up to be irritating again.
- Brown Note: The prelude has John attempting to subdue a meat monster by playing "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake on a boombox, with Dave comparing it to David's harp (which was once used as a tool of exorcism) in the Old Testament.
- Canon Discontinuity: The original, free, online sequel, John and Dave and the Temple of X'al'naa"thuthuthu, is being rewritten and expanded into the true, published sequel, and Dave has stricken the original from canon.
- Cat Scare: Not in the story, but for the reader; while viewing the partially finished sequel (now available online again) on the website, highly disturbing faces pop onscreen unexpectedly at random intervals.
- Chainsaw Good: Subverted. Dave asks himself if he could have gotten stuck in such a situation with a dumber weapon. He does, however, manage to slice off a guard's fingers with it, but drops it due to the kickback when it hits the guard's rifle.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- Many examples, and most of them don't play out the way you expect them to. For example, the footsteps and missing bullet in David's gun.
- "Would you describe your own appearance to me?"
- David seeing Todd in the broken TV at the fake Jamaican's place.
- Chekhov's Gunman:
- The dead person in the shed. Not only is there a mighty anticlimax (wherein Dave promptly drops investigating and just locks the shed), but the next chapter is a single paragraph lampshading that if he looked then, he would have killed himself on the spot (and hinting at its return).
- Also, Robert North, who, after fleeing following a brief encounter, returns late Act 3.
- Chick Magnet: John doesn't really try, but Dave mentions his numerous girlfriends and ability to attract women over the book and in the blog. It makes sense, John is a pretty fun guy.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: Invoked and discussed in an odd manner. Dave mentions at one point that he's not sure if crosses and holy water repel the monsters because their wielders believe in them, or because the monsters do.
- Cloning Blues: Dave discovers near the end of the book that he is the clone, rather than the dead Dave in his tool shed. He becomes depressed enough to contemplate suicide, but eventually gets over it with support from Amy and John (who jokingly refers to him as Monster Dave).
- Cloudcuckoolander: John. Dave explains a number of his eccentricities and affectations, and we see dozens more throughout the story. David (badly) hides this fact for most of the first chapter, where John is acting oddly professional to a "client" who needs their services... if only so he can get in her pants. The main appeal of the story is the main characters' warped personalities interacting with ridiculous situations. And, of course, he answers his phone with random gibberish, claiming to throw off anyone who calls him, but is really just being a whacko.
"I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME THE FUCK ALONE, VINNY!"
- Cluster F-Bomb: "Fuck that. Fuck that idea like the fucking Captain of the Thai Fuck Team fucking at the fucking Tour de Fuck."
- City with No Name: Dave always refers to his town as "Undisclosed." Interestingly, the city was originally called Rockville until the author learned that there was a real city with that name, and his book was leading people to vandalize it.
- The Collector of the Strange: David Wong eventually gets a garden shed full of things that simply should not exist. For instance, an issue of TIME magazine about the assassination of Bill Clinton.
- Continuity Nod: To earlier versions of the story. The wide release finally reinstates the fan-favorite Badgerconda.
- Crapsaccharine World: Shit Narnia, Korrok's home dimension. The inhabitants live in peace and harmony, harness biotechnology, are very welcoming and kind... and serve a psychopathic eldritch abomination who seeks to conquer the multiverse, are horribly disfigured, and like to feed people to said abomination.
- Crapsack World: The setting of the world is such that anything or anyone could suddenly appear for no explained reason, and 90% of the time it wants to kill you. 10% of the time it's actually friendly but you're so used to the other 90% you shoot it anyway.
- Crazy Enough to Work: Many of John's plans. Lampshaded when the heroes decide to fight a ballroom full of wigmonsters by playing musical instruments.
John: Guys, this is just retarded enough to work.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Anyone who is slain by the Shadow Men get erased from existence. The people who knew them can't even grieve because they've forgotten they knew them. Poor Todd.
- Danger Takes a Backseat: This is how Robert North introduces himself.
- Dead All Along:
- We don't get to see all of the stuff that happens to them, but it apparently occurs enough that the main duo's attitude to this is "I hate it when they do that." Especially when it happens to Dave and Arnie.
- While this isn't true from the reader's perspective, it applies to Amy's perception of Dave, as noted by John.
- Deadly Bath: Invoked in the prologue to (lamely) try and get any monsters in the house John and Dave are investigating to attack them.
John: “Oh, no! It’s dark in here and here I am in the shower! Alone! I’m so naked and vulnerable!”
- Deadpan Snarker: John and Dave and Dave's subconscious, who constantly berates himself and interjects into the action. At times, Dave's subconscious seems like its own character.
- Demonic Possession: Which turns out to actually be Puppeteer Parasite using Korrok's Organic Technology.
- Devil but No God:
- It is alluded to in the first half, though as the main monsters featured in the story were created in an alternate timeline it may not be an actual example. The only reference to a God or something related is a letter from Khrissy after the first half of Book Two, saying an Angel told her to send a cross necklace to David.
- Early in the book, Dave seems to subscribe to this worldview himself, though it's notable that at the time his experience with "demonic" entities was all but non-existent.
Morgan: You believe in Hell, Mr. Wong?
Dave: Uh, yeah. I guess.
Morgan: Why? Why do you believe in Hell?
Dave: Because it's the opposite of what I want to believe.
- And used more explicitly here:
Amy: Are you scared?
David: Pretty much all the time, yeah.
Amy: Why? [...]
David: Because I sort of looked into Hell, but I still don't know if there's a Heaven or not.
- Doing In the Wizard: Most of the fleshy creatures turn out to be genetically-engineered bio-weapons, but averted with the Shadow Men, who are dead spirits helping Korrok in turning the world into his personal shithole. Holy objects still affect them and whatever form they take, like most ghosts and demons. The only explanation is that they are "agents of discord" who find ordered things like music and formalized prayer or iconography extremely irritating.
- Dogs Are Dumb: Molly, at first. It eventually goes to blatantly self-serving, to the point David thinks it's out to get him killed. Turns out, it was helping him.
- Earworm: Some of the evil racist remixed songs are quite catchy, even In-Universe. Just don't try to sing along...
Let's send 'em aaalllllll ba-ack to Aaaaafrica...
- Eat the Bomb: Molly eats the bomb that John and Dave make towards the end of the book, and they feed her some burritos in order to speed up its evacuation. The bomb reappears just in time for their escape from Shit Narnia.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: The good guys shoot at a car's gas tank to kill some nasty little Soy Sauce bugs biting their faces. This simply puts a hole in the gas tank, and they have to light the gas manually.
- Everytown, America: The unnamed, ugly little town where John and Dave live.
"Welcome to Undisclosed. Dreams Interpreted for Beer."
- Eye Scream: When he was a kid, Dave relates to Amy why he was in the special ed school: He stabbed out the local Jerk Jock's eyeballs in revenge for what's heavily implied to be rape.
- Foregone Conclusion: Subverted: John doesn't die at the end, just toward the beginning, but he gets better. Dave dies about halfway through the book, although we don't realize it until after the climactic showdown. Amy's clone dies at the end, though, and it saves John and Dave's home dimension from invasion, as her body was infected.
- First-Person Smartass: David Wong is a snarker to the Nth degree.
- Foreshadowing: You will die alone, with shit in your pants. He's talking to the Real Dave, who is killed by a doppelganger who replaces him halfway through the novel. When Monster Dave finds his original corpse, it stinks to high heaven, meaning he really DID shit his pants.
- Framing Device: The first book is framed as Dave telling his story to a reporter.
- Genre Savvy: Dave and John, after the initial shock of seeing ghosts has worn off. One exception: they are apparently compelled to deliver inappropriate one-liners at every opportunity.
"A key. Good. Now, if I know what's going on here, and I think I do, we'll have to wander around looking for that door. Behind it we'll meet a series of monsters or, more likely, a whole bunch of the same one. We'll kill them, get another key, and then it'll open a really big door. Now right before that we'll probably get nicer guns.
It may require us to backtrack some and it might get really tedious and annoying."
- Glamour Failure: If Molly is drinking out of the toilet, what just licked Dave's hand? Also one of the abilities conferred by the Sauce, as John and Dave gain the ability to see through supernatural disguises.
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: Three Arm Sally. Another: "Fat Jackson's Flap Wagon," which is still spraypainted on the band van even though they've changed their name.
- Gorn: An inordinate number of living things explode throughout the book.
- Groin Attack:
- Shitload unleashes a torrent of these; apparently, during the fight, it doesn't occur to him to do anything else other than exploit this one weakness.
- John claims he "dick whipped" some guys during a fight, though Dave wonders briefly if he meant that he whipped them in the dick, or with his dick. Later, in the final chapter, he clarifies this and threatens to whip a Hero of Another Story with his schlong.
- Hellgate: Shit Narnia Gate, actually. The elevator in the mall technically counts, as it leads to a multiversal bazaar of sorts.
- The Hero: John. Dave has a few moments, too.
- Hero of Another Story: Played for Laughs in the end, where John and Dave get dragged off to another universe again, but leap out before they can get wrangled into saving the day. Four random college kids (whom Dave depicts, in his brief glimpse of them, as a thuddingly cliché Four-Temperament Ensemble) come along and save that universe instead.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Molly is a red-furred Irish... dog of some sort, but the love interest is her red-headed owner, Amy Sullivan.
- Heroic BSOD:
- Dave, when he realizes that he's killed someone, stuffed their body in his tool shed, and now can't remember any of it. Ironically, being too freaked out to get a good look at the body actually saves Dave's life.
- John, when he gets a look under Largeman's mask in Shit Narnia.
- Arnold when he realizes he may not be real.
- Heroic Self-Deprecation: Dave constantly berates himself for all manner of negative character traits, some true, some exaggerated.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: John and Dave, definitely.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Korrok's followers use perfect clones of humans, filled with flesh-eating parasites, to take over worlds. Robert North promptly shoots an Amy clone dead, which John and Dave toss into Korrok's followers, just as it bursts into parasites.
- Humans Are Bastards: A recurring theme in the novel. It's the apparent motivation of the Shadow Men, as Shitload gives an impassioned speech on why Earth is the most terrifying place in existence.
"Dude, I can't believe you ain't all paralyzed by the pure, naked horror of this place."
After a long, long pause John said, "Uh, thank you."
- Hurricane of Puns: While the main heroes exist in a World of Pun, John's chair-smashing rampage is punctuated by a hurricane of chair-related puns. After slamming the door on the wig monsters, he thinks up one more and opens the door back up to use it.
- Hyper Awareness: One of the side effects of Soy Sauce. It actually goes beyond even that, bordering on selective omniscience.
- I Am Legion: The human hive in Book 1 refers to itself as Shitload because 'there's a shitload of us in here.'
- I Know Mortal Kombat: At the mall, John starts acting like they're literally in a video game, down to advising the others to pick up any mushrooms with green dots they find.
- Improvised Weapon: "TestaMints," little mints that have Bible verses on them to be given to unsuspecting demons, a baseball bat with a Bible and tape recorder strapped to the end, a flamethrower made from a water spray gun, and after taking the Soy Sauce John and Dave make a bomb from ordinary household objects by analyzing their molecular structures.
- Indy Ploy: The entire book. Lampshaded with “Do we really strike you as the type to plan things out ahead of time?”
- Infant Immortality: The dog version, with Team Pet Molly, who survives a miraculous amount of things. The ending strongly hints that Molly is actually a disguised angel, who takes on the form of Fred Durst to explain this (and a bunch of other stuff) to the narrator. Note when he says he's been "dogging" Dave around. Quotes included in the original text. May or may not be the case in the sequel.
- Averted in the middle of the novel where John and Dave witness a little boy painfully melt, in graphic detail, and be turned into a pig for slaughter. It is so shocking that John lets out a "Mother. Fucker."
- Invoked Trope: John and Dave decide (very loudly) to split up while trying to lure out a ghost that has eluded them. John takes a shower while loudly proclaiming that he hopes he does not get attacked while he is naked and vulnerable. Dave decides to take a nap because ghosts love to sneak up on sleeping people.
- Jumped at the Call: John. Though, in the epilogue, even he thinks the world on the other side of the gate on the basketball court is too lame to save. Don't worry, some kids do it for them.
- Kill It with Fire:
- While being held prisoner by Shitload, John and Dave and crew think up a plan to douse him with Molotov cocktails. They're caught off guard his eyes popping out of his sockets, like snail eyes, and sort of stare... or, in Jennifer's case, meekly hurl it with so much force, it... rolls away harmlessly.
- Later, when the hateful worm things are trying to burrow into Dave's arm, John douses it with booze and lights it, killing them.
- John makes a flamethrower and uses it while spouting fire-based puns.
John: GENTLEMEN, I WOULD LIKE TO PROPOSE A TOAST!
- Every Car Is a Pinto is also subverted when they shoot the gas tank, and...gas spills out harmlessly while they wait for the trope to kick in. Then they light it.
- Kill Us Both: Subverted. Monster Dave becomes suicidal when he realizes he is a Tomato in the Mirror, but John and Amy conspire to prevent that.
- Killed Off for Real: Interspersed with Cloning Blues so that nearly every named character can die onscreen, often violently.
- Lampshade Hanging: Lots, for various reasons. A popular one ("You heard me" and "Hey, why not?") is to call out the sheer ridiculousness of the story.
- Large Ham: The possessed pile of meat. A Large Ham in more ways than one.
- Living Shadow/The Heartless: The Shadow Men are the ghosts of dead hateful beings from billions of alternate dimensions, who seek to add to their ranks by erasing people from time.
- Lovecraft Lite: Much of the book features the same themes as Lovecraft: ungodly horrors screwing with hapless humans in a cruel, uncaring, malicious universe, filled with other malicious, cruel, uncaring humans. However, it's implied that this viewpoint is something the Shadow Men force upon people to get them to attempt to kill people working against them, and then themselves, and that they add to their ranks by instilling hatred in humans. And despite Korrok being an evil, Lovecraftian deity... in the end, he's more or less a whiny teenager obsessed with being "edgy". Who then gets blown up with dogshit. Literally.
- Magic Versus Science: Played with. See trope entry.
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: John, for Dave, though his life, love or otherwise, is noticeably not improved.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: The Wigmonster.
- Money Spider and Crate Expectations: Parodied at the mall. John embraces the situation to the extent to mention the possibility of finding mushrooms resembling the 1up mushroom from Super Mario. Played down quite a bit from the original version, which was essentially a chapter-long parody of First Person Shooters and The Legend of Zelda. Justified because the demon who is creating the monsters is riding around in their friend, who they presume is mimicking a game in order to help them along.
- Monster Clown: The Ronald McDonald decal that Dave sees.
- Mood Whiplash: A bizarre and creepy sequence with Dave getting attacked by a non-existent (maybe) policeman is immediately followed by him buying a bratwurst and attempting to talk to John through it like a cell phone. Even the attack itself goes through this once the policeman's mustache detaches and starts flying and trying to bite Dave.
- More Dakka: John and Dave first face down evil with whatever weapons they have on hand, but by the climax they're stocked to the nines with proximity explosive pistol rounds and a flamethrower made out of a Super Soaker. Though the improved firepower is somewhat selectively effective...
- The Multiverse: Played straight, and with a lot of confusing jargon from the people/creatures who know the score.
- Mysterious Watcher: North, who is actually an alien jellyfish who tried to make love to a chandelier and stops the infected, dead Amy from crossing over into David's world.
- Name's the Same: Jennifer Lopez, in a Bait and Switch comment. Subverted with "Morgan Freeman", who John notes doesn't look, sound, or is even named anything like his namesake (his real last name is "Appleton"). John admits he has a habit of naming random people he comes across after famous celebrities, regardless of actual resemblance.[invoked]
- The Nicknamer: Dave comes up with humorous nicknames to describe various people and creatures he meets along the way. It's played for drama with Amy, whom he gave the cruel nickname "Cucumber" to in high school and comes to regret it.