Washington: How do you ever get anything done if all you ever do is argue with each other?Red vs. Blue is a Machinima/CGI-animated military Work Com set against the background of the Halo game series. Its creators, Rooster Teeth Productions, helped spark the whole Machinima explosion and went on to establish themselves as Big Name Fans in the Halo community to the point of doing actual work for Bungie Studios, as well as making their videos available for purchase on Xbox Live. Having started in 2003 and still being an ongoing work, this series is not only the longest-running episodic web series of all time, but the longest-running American sci-fi series of all time.note Credit must also be given to its legacy: the series popularized video game Machinima and was heavily influential in the development of both serialized internet fiction and internet comedy series as a whole.Beginning as a simple comedy series, Red vs Blue follows two opposing military installations locked in eternal war in a box canyon - the Reds and the Blues. When the Blue team hire a freelance agent to give them an advantage, things get a bit more complicated. As the running jokes and many characters begin to pile up, so starts a story that quickly develops a surprising amount of emotional depth, while never forgetting its comedic roots.The long-running story is divided into multiple story arcs, as detailed below.
Church: We don't! That's part of our charm! Quit fucking it up!
Church: We don't! That's part of our charm! Quit fucking it up!
- The first story arc, The Blood Gulch Chronicles, ran for five seasons with a total of 100 episodes (plus a short miniseries named "Out of Mind"). The first two seasons, and half of the third, are filmed in Halo, while the remaining seasons are filmed in Halo 2.
- The second story arc, The Recollection, is a trilogy spanning Seasons 6 to 8 (each given a unique title beginning with "Re": "Reconstruction", "Recreation" and "Revelation") and two miniseries ("Recovery One" and "Relocated"). Season 8 marks the introduction of high-budget CGI-rendered scenes in addition to the traditional Machinima-styled Halo 3 scenes.
- The third story arc, The Project Freelancer Saga, comprises Seasons 9 and 10, is equally divided between a prequel storyline fully animated in CGI, and the continuation of the present-day storyline. Season 9 is filmed in Halo: Reach and Season 10 is filmed in Halo 3.
- The fourth story arc, The Chorus Trilogy, spans Seasons 11-13, and starts out as a Breather Episode, intended to bring the series back to its more comedic roots... for a while. It uses Halo 4 assets mixed in with CGI.
- The fourteenth season consists mostly of vignettes, rather than directly continuing Season 13's story. As this season is an Anthology, it uses multiple games and animation styles depending on the story.
- The fifteenth season is notably the first Red vs Blue season (not counting Season 14's Anthology) to be completely stand-alone, and not have a multi-season story arc/"saga" coming off of it. It's filmed using Halo 5: Guardians, with CGI and footage from other games mixed in.
Do you ever wonder why these tropes are here?
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- 24-Hour Armor: Very few characters remove even a piece of their power armor, making almost every single character The Faceless.
- An Aesop: Several seasons have definite messages.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles has one delivered by Church in the end.Church: You should hate someone because they're an asshole, or a pervert, or snob, or they're lazy, or arrogant or an idiot or know-it-all. Those are reasons to dislike somebody. You don't hate a person because someone told you to. You have to learn to despise people on a personal level. Not because they're Red, or because they're Blue, but because you know them, and you see them every single day, and you can't stand them because they're a complete and total fucking douchebag.
- Forgiveness is a major moral by the end of Red vs. Blue: The Recollection
- Letting go of loved ones is a theme in both Season 8 and 9 - Mostly Church letting go of Tex, but also Caboose letting go of Church.
- Season 10 has one given by Carolina.Carolina: Your past doesn't define who you are. It just gives you the starting point for who you're going to be.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles has one delivered by Church in the end.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A recurring theme. Key examples are Omega, Sigma, and Gamma.
- And the Adventure Continues: Blood Gulch Chronicles, ended with dialogue mirroring the very first episode. Revelation and Season 10 end with the Reds and Blues returning to their bases in a box canyon to have more zany adventures. After all they went through - all the crazy things that happened, the people who died, everything - life was going to go on, the same way it had before.
- Arc Fatigue: Invoked. Church is trying to re-enact the events of Season 1 to draw Tex out, and it mostly consists of standing around and waiting for stuff to happen.
- Arc Words:
- "You ever wonder why we're here?" —Also a Brick Joke and a Chekhov's Boomerang.
- "Memory is the key." —Red vs. Blue: The Recollection
- Lampshaded in Episode 6 of Season 8.Epsilon-Delta: Remember: Memory is the key.
Caboose: What? I thought we were done with that part.
- And further parodied in Season 10.Church: Proximity is the key.
Tucker: I thought memory was the key?
Caboose: Oh yeah, and the sword, the sword is a key too. ... We should probably get a key ring.
- Lampshaded in Episode 6 of Season 8.
- "Don't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes."
- The Chorus Trilogy has "You just have to try," and "What do you fight for?".
- Armed Farces: Especially in the early seasons.Church: Holy crap, who is running this army?!?
- Art Evolution: As new Halo games were released with improved graphical capabilities, the series frequently changed and adapted its engine and art style.
- The first two and a half seasons of the Blood Gulch Chronicles use the original Halo: Combat Evolved engine, and for the second half of Season 3 until the end of Season 5, the Halo 2 engine is used. This shift was lampshaded in-universe with the explanation that the cast had supposedly travelled to the future. Marathon's engine is also used briefly during a Season 3 subplot to represent the past.
- The entire Recollection Trilogy (Seasons 6-8) uses the Halo 3 engine.
- The biggest case of Animation Bump is the sporadic introduction of sequences fully animated in CGI starting in Season 8 and continuing during Seasons 9, 10, 12, 13, and 15.
- The Project Freelancer Saga uses many different styles. The extensive flashback arc throughout both seasons is animated entirely in CGI. The present day storyline of Season 9 uses Halo: Reach, but since the storyline takes place inside the Epsilon unit, the subsequent season returns to Halo 3. Live action footage is even used briefly in Season 10 for the Director's log of his last moments with Allison. Finally, the Halo 4 engine is used starting in the final scene of Season 10 and continuing throughout all of the Chorus Trilogy. Come Season 15, and Halo 5 is used.
- Played with with Delta's avatar. Whenever he is shown, he appears as a Halo: Combat Evolved Spartan, no matter where and in which season he appears in.
- Artifact Title: The Reds and Blues don't really fight each other after Season 5 excluding inside the Epsilon unit in Season 9 and at Crash Site Bravo in Season 11.
- Artificial Intelligence: Many over the course of the series, almost all of which are named for Greek letters. The majority have a common source.
- Badass Crew: Several levels had to be taken and it's obscured by their quirkiness, but by Seasons 8 through 10, the Blood Gulchers most definitely count. True, they mainly succeed through a combination of sheer luck and being severely underestimated but it doesn't matter how they kick your ass. They can and they will.
- Big Bad Ensemble: The whole series is caused by the combined actions of The Director (for starting up Project Freelancer), Sigma (for causing Project Freelancer's downfall), and the Chairman (for being against Project Freelancer.). Referenced in the Chorus trilogy when the Reds and Blues suspect it has something to do with Wash or Carolina because their organization tends to be the cause of their problems, one way or another. Their suspicion turns out to be correct, if more indirectly than usual.
- Broad Strokes: The series generally treats Halo's canon like this, often following the generalities and discarding it whenever it would get in the way of the plot/a joke. For example, while the UNSC is still the main governing body of humanity in both works, Red Vs Blue has their headquarters located somewhere in the US state of Wyoming, and Halo has their headquarters located in Sydney, Australia.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Blood Gulch Crew have slowly grown into this role over the years, especially by the end of season 13 where they have most definitely become proper soldiers, albeit ones with very quirky and unconventional behaviour. Their take-down of Felix is a great example of when you either A, underestimate them, or B, try to apply a soldier's tactics with these guys.
- Calling Shotgun: A Running Gag between Simmons and Grif. Generally Grif wins, except when winning is actually a bad thing, in which case Simmons will win.Simmons: Shotgun!Grif: Shotgun! Fuck!Donut: Shotgun's lap!Simmons: Fuck!
- Cerebus Retcon: Could be the poster child for this trope. Harsher in Hindsight applies to previous seasons as the writers seem to be trying to one up themselves on reinterpreting a surreal mess of comedic fluff into a dramatic war story.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: While the general narrative has grown gradually darker and more convoluted as the seasons have gone by, the series is not at all shy about dipping into stretches of comedy and drama on a whim. As an example, season 4 drops most of the plot elements from the third season, while the miniseries that takes place chronologically concurrent is a more traditional revenge tale as Tex, York, and the Delta AI are the central focus. After the very dramatic Reconstruction (season 6) its followup miniseries and Recreation (season 7) are vastly more comedy-focused until the last 5 episodes. After the Freelancer arc that forms a progressing storyline in seasons 6-10, season 11 - while mostly a comedic throwback to the Blood Gulch Chronicles - also contains several moments that would set up important plot points for the storyline and acknowledges character relationships with the occasional serious scene. Seasons 12 and 13 are concerned with a fairly serious war story, but with the traditional quirky angle that has a lot of humor that doubles as a way to quickly give characterization to the new cast of characters. Season 14, being an anthology, fluctuates, but most of its vignettes are comedic rather than dramatic. And as much of it is standalone or even non-canon, very light on plot.
- Chekhov's Gun: Plot elements will often be introduced as a throw-away line or background event, then elaborated on as part of the main plot in a later season one or two years later. Grif lampshades this as he tells the Chorus rebels the story of how they beat the Meta... but considering how he tried using this to justify his asking for a hammock (or human-slingshot), he probably had lazier motives.
- Classical Anti Hero: The Reds and Blues are all seriously flawed individuals who spend most of their time bickering with each other, but they still prove to be heroic and noble when push comes to shove.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The series is rife with it. The fifth season's DVD acknowledges and has fun with this. One of the features is a "Previously On Red Vs. Blue", which contains every single swear in the series up to the Pelican crashing... and lasts over a minute and a half. If one was made of all fourteen seasons and the mini-series, it would probably be a good six or seven minutes long.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the characters shown in armour have completely different colours to help differentiate between them, the exceptions being North and South Dakota (North's armour is a darker purple than South's), Carolina and Tucker (Tucker's armour is more green compared to Carolina's), and Tucker and Butch Flowers, the person whom Tucker got his armour from. For a long time many people thought Grif's armour was yellow, until Sister (whose armour really is yellow) settled the matter. It's a lot easier to see that his armour is orange when they stand next to each other.
- Comedic Sociopathy: The Gulch crew are usually apathetic or even outright pleased about the rampant danger their fellows often end up getting into, which regularly degenerates into teammates casually taking potshots at each other. Whenever one of them gets seriously injured, though, their compatriots are genuinely horrified, and moving away from this mindset above a surface level banter informs much of their Character Development. Comparing how the Reds and Blues act towards each other in season 1 to the final act of the Chorus trilogy, if it weren't for keeping their armor colors and core personalities they're almost unrecognizable.
- Compilation Movie: Each season gets one, complete with Hilarious Outtakes. Inverted starting with Reconstruction. Each season is created as a movie, then gets split into individual episodes for serialization. The complete, original movie is then released for purchase.
- Corrupt Quartermaster: The Reds repeatedly put layabout Grif in charge of their ammo, a task he never performs. Eventually, they expand Simmons' duties to "bringing extra ammo for when Grif forgets." However, when Grif and Simmons are sent to a new base (where Grif is in charge), he actually sells all their ammo to the Blues.
- Dysfunction Junction:
- The Reds and Blues don't have to use the other team for target practice or anything. They've got each other for that. Especially the Reds.
- As Seasons 9 and 10 reveal, Project Freelancer wasn't much better, though they didn't outright attack each other. At least until the end...
- Enemy Mine:
Tucker: You brought [the Reds]? Are we killin' each other today? Or pretending to work together?
- One of the most common themes of the series from Season 3 onwards. Despite being (at least on paper) opposing enemies in a pointless war, the Reds and Blues are consistently forced to work together to take down a greater evil.
Caboose: Uh, the pretending version.
Tucker: Oh, okay, cool.
- The Faceless: Almost everyone.
- Famous Last Words: Lots of characters go out saying "Son of a bit-".
- Fictional Sport: Grifball, which became so popular, less than three years after its inception, it was the only sport played.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Especially evident in the seasons from 6 onward, but the various conflicts that the Reds and Blues of Blood Gulch go through outside of their own personal war with each other have, by the time of Season 10, made them into a combined Badass Crew, even complimenting members of opposing "teams". By the time of Episode 21 of Season 10, even Carolina defrosts to them. By the final shot of season 13, it's no question that they're a family.
- Flanderization: Almost everyone. Tropes Are Not Bad, as this led to characters like Caboose, Simmons, and Donut who had some personality traits that weren't quite unique enough to set them apart cranked Up to 11, ironically giving them more fleshed out personalities in the process.
- Church goes from being a kind of bad shot with his Sniper Rifle to full on Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy with any gun he gets his hands on, unable to hit anything except by Accidental Aiming Skills.
- Caboose goes from being a bit slow at the start of the series to borderline insanity, unable to follow a simple train of thought. In his case, this is due in part to the massive battle that goes on inside his head early on causing brain damage. Also, apparently Church and Tucker rebooted his armor once and didn't manage to turn it back on right away. He said he didn't think it caused any lasting damage so of course it did.
- Tucker goes from being a flirtatious lady's man of questionable success to a Casanova Wannabe who attempts to sleep with any girl that'll listen to him for more than ten seconds.
- Sarge's bullying of and threats to kill Grif start as attempts at murder and escalates to a psychotic obsession with making his life as miserable and humiliating as possible, at times being his single character trait in some scenes.
- Grif's apathy that doesn't in some way have to do with eating, napping, and making up excuses to avoid work morphed into a trickster who comes up with cunning schemes and Loophole Abuse to avoid work or risking his life, even if said schemes are more complicated to execute than the orders he's given.
- Donut goes from being ambiguously effeminate to Tucker's Camp Gay counterpart in sexually suggestive dialogue and attempts to sleep with any male soldier in his line of view.
- Simmons goes from teacher's pet to groveling sycophant with occasional Servile Snark. This trait is actually getting dialed down a bit as of the Chorus trilogy; he kisses Sarge's butt a lot less than he used to and even makes sarcastic remarks to him. This is probably because getting promoted to Captain and being put into a leadership role himself has helped him become a bit more self-confident
- Tex goes from being a skilled special-ops soldier to a legendarily powerful badass.
- Doc begins as a neutral pacifist without extensive medical training (but nevertheless treats Caboose during an active shootout), and ends up a man panicked by any sign of conflict and with complete incompetence in his supposed area of expertise. However, this is zigzagged according to the needs of the plot when someone who's critically injured needs to be kept alive.
- Seasons 8 and on present an interesting case when this is reverted back to giving the Reds and Blues subtler traits while sticking to their core personalities.
- Grif's intelligence and knack for getting out of dangerous situations is shown to make him a very pragmatic survivor in combat that's willing to suck up his shame and bite the bullet if there's no way out of a mission that precludes death.
- Church's occasional moments of compassion and downplaying his anger (particularly as the Epsilon AI) have made him one of the most empathetic members of the cast.
- For all of Sarge's blundering about and questionable sanity, the reason why he's stuck around as a soldier for so long is apparent with his genuine leadership and charisma with his men when things are at their worst in a fight. He's also willing to overlook Grif's existence and has Took a Level in Kindness since Revelation, probably because when it comes down to it, murder's not what he's in the army for and he's an honorable soldier when confronted with those that are genuinely in it for the killing.
- Tucker may be the biggest example. His moments of being The Straight Man to the Reds and Blues have drastically increased his competence as a fighter, leading to his skill with the sword as a weapon he's comfortable with and being a quick and decisive strategist. Even Wash admits he's not the same miserable excuse of a human being he was in Blood Gulch.
- Foreshadowing: In Reconstruction, we learn that Church was an AI unit and that was why he survived being seemingly killed, was able to jump from mind to mind, and had a 'ghost' form. Just before The Reveal by Wash, there's a quick scene showing the relevant clips just to hammer it in. Guess who else shared those exact same characteristics. Agent Texas.
- Forever War:
- The "war" between the Red and Blue armies, in Blood Gulch at least, aren't really fighting so much as slacking off at opposite ends of the box canyon, and it only feels like they've been there forever, but if there's one thing they can all agree on, it's that neither side has any clue why they're supposed to be fighting, or what the actual benefit would be of "winning". Eventually justified when it turns out that they aren't actually at war, and are just simulation troopers to train Freelancers for actual wars. Both sides always end up teaming up with each other to take down a larger enemy, and the war isn't even really being waged (except in Sarge's mind) after Season 5, excluding Season 9 and Season 11.Simmons: Seriously though, why are we out here? As far as I can tell, it's just a box canyon in the middle of nowhere. No way in or out.
Grif: Mm hmm.
Simmons: The only reason that we set up a Red Base here, is because they have a Blue Base over there. And the only reason they have a Blue Base over there, is because we have a Red Base here.
Grif: Yeah, that's because we're fighting each other.
Simmons: No, no. But I mean, even if we were to pull out today, and if they would come take our base, they would have two bases in the middle of a box canyon; whoopdee-fucking-doo.
- In Season 3, Sarge and Caboose accidentally wind up in the Battle Creek map, where two teams of immortal zealots fight to Capture the Flag while spouting comments and insults straight out of X Box Live, and are revived at the end of each match, like a very stupid type of Norse Mythology's Valhalla.
- In The Chorus Trilogy, the Federal Army of Chorus and the New Republic are fighting a Civil War on the planet Chorus that has been fought for years upon years thanks to the manipulation of a third party led by Chairman Hargrove.
- The "war" between the Red and Blue armies, in Blood Gulch at least, aren't really fighting so much as slacking off at opposite ends of the box canyon, and it only feels like they've been there forever, but if there's one thing they can all agree on, it's that neither side has any clue why they're supposed to be fighting, or what the actual benefit would be of "winning". Eventually justified when it turns out that they aren't actually at war, and are just simulation troopers to train Freelancers for actual wars. Both sides always end up teaming up with each other to take down a larger enemy, and the war isn't even really being waged (except in Sarge's mind) after Season 5, excluding Season 9 and Season 11.
- Friendly Enemy: The Blood Gulchers seem to get along with members of the opposite team fairly well (well, at least as well as members of the same team get along with each other), to varying degrees. By Season 10, their "war" continues mostly because of habit and the fact nobody on either team has anything better to do.
- Grand Finale: Each of the "arcs" has one, though not for the entire series.
- Episode 100 of Season 5 was one to Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles. It functioned as a Series Fauxnale, complete with Multiple Endings, a case of Back for the Finale, and an overall wrap up of five seasons of storytelling.
- Episode 20 of Season 8 was one to both that season itself ("Revelation") and the general Red vs. Blue: The Recollection series, with the death of the Big Bad of Seasons 6, 7 and 8.
- Episodes 21 and 22 of Season 10 both function together as one for the Project Freelancer Saga (Seasons 9 and 10). In a variation, Episode 19 of the same season functions as one for the flashback segments, with the assault on the Mother of Invention.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- The Director of Project Freelancer is the cause of most of things that have happened in the series, both directly and indirectly. He only comes center stage in Season 10, though he never takes on a direct role.
- The Chairman of the Oversight Sub-Committee Malcolm Hargrove, who is revealed to have funded the Insurrection. The audience already knows that his trying to arrest the Director results in him sending the Big Bad Duumvirate of Wash and the Meta to find the Epsilon Unit. Finally, he serves as the Big Bad for Seasons 11 and 12 under the alias "Control".
- Grey and Gray Morality: A running theme throughout the series is that everyone has their own good and bad aspects, and there are as many ultimately good people as there are bad people. In the case of the Blood Gulch Crew, although they are the heroes of the story and usually do the right thing, they are all also assholes in one way or another and do very selfish things in their adventures. This is even pointed out in Season 12, with Washington pointing out the the New Republic and The Federal Army on Chorus are equally good and bad, mirrored by nearly identical Rousing Speeches performed by both sides.
- Head Bob: Except in exceptionally rare instances when a face is shown, usually happening in Freelancer-specific flashbacks. Both fans and animators have come to a consensus that giving definitive facial models to the BG crew would spoil the ambiguity of what they actually look like as apposed to how they act. This is even lampshaded in Episode 94 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.Sarge: What are they saying?
Simmons: I have no idea. I can't find the volume on this monitor. And without any sound it just looks like a bunch of helmets bobbing up and down.
Sarge: Is that how they talk? They look ridiculous!
- Hero of Another Story:
- Both the Red and Blue armies and Project Freelancer (for a given value of "hero").
- In the first episode of the series, Player Character "the Master Chief" John-117 is mentioned by Grif as blowing up "a whole Covenant armada" while the Reds and Blues are stuck fighting each other instead, dealing with issues that the games proper don't even mention. The reason why they aren't directly integrated into the fighting (as well as why they are unaware that the Human-Covenant War is presumably over) are factors in Seasons 6-10.
- As Seasons 9 and 10 show, Project Freelancer was dealing with post-war insurrection among humanity (or maybe being said insurrection) while the majority of the UNSC was trying to keep peace with the Covenant and send out space expeditions with their upgraded ships, most notably the UNSC Infinity.
- Heroic Safe Mode: "Recovery Mode", a mode that the Mark VI armors go into when they lock up so that a Recovery agent can pick them up. This extends to the Near-Death Experience by Sarge in Season 1.
- The Hero Dies: While it's difficult to pin down a "main protagonist" for the whole series, Church is the most likely candidate.
- Church is killed off early in Season 1 as the series' first twist. He returns as a ghost a few episodes later.
- The Alpha A.I. (the Church of the first six seasons) is killed off at the end of Season 6 via an "emp" explosion.
- The Epsilon A.I. (who replaces Church in the following seven seasons) is killed off at the end of Season 13 via a self-administered defragmentation process.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners:
- Grif and Simmons.
- Church with both Tucker and Caboose.
- York and Delta.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Characters frequently produce enormous guns out of nowhere, at least until the engine upgraded to Halo 3 and in non-machinima animation sequences. This is due to the fact that this use of Hammerspace is precisely what happens in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 when someone equips a weapon.
- Image Song: The cast seems to be really fond of having these as extras on the soundtracks. So far there's been:
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: Bow-chicka-wow-wow!
- Last Disrespects: Three "funeral" scenes (the deceased in question were still living) are all about people being completely disrespectful at funerals, sometimes for their own agendas, sometimes just because they're jerks.
- In Episode 51 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Church (the "dead" guy) is the one who wants a funeral; Tucker calls it lame and wanders off.
- In Episode 83 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Grif turns Sarge's funeral into a comedy roast of Sarge, and Simmons uses the opportunity to campaign for Sarge's job.
- In Season 9 Episode 14, it turns out no one remembers anything about Simmons except he liked gum and talked a lot.
- Last-Name Basis: All of the Blood Gulch gang except for Sister, Doc, and Lopez. Though Doc would prefer to be on a Last Name Basis; he just got overruled. And in the case of Sarge, we don't know if the name given was his first or last name.
- Me's a Crowd: Church, Lopez, Wyoming, and Tex have all done this by various mechanisms; time-looping for Church and Wyoming, and robot clones for Lopez and Tex.
- Motif Merger: This is how the Meta symbol was formed, out of the symbols of all the other AI's which are most of the Greek alphabet.
- Myth Arc: The fall and aftermath of Project Freelancer is one for Seasons 1-10, though it only really comes to the forefront after Season 5.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Deconstructed, in different ways. The two most prominent female characters for most of the series, Tex and Carolina, are the Director's lover (sort of) and daughter respectively; with Tex, the emotional connection with the Director is one-sided on his part, resulting in Tex being wholly professional herself but receiving special attention while being unable to act outside his concept of her, and with Carolina, it's implied that she's using Project Freelancer as a means of gaining approval and attention from the Director while being constrained by the demands of protocol.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: The concept of farewells becomes very prevalent from season 5 onward, after Tex says goodbye to Church just before her ship explodes.Allison: Don't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The main characters are separated from one another in the beginning of season six. Even when they regroup, things only keep changing. It is only in season 10 that the characters regain some semblance of their lost status quo. Major developments to the story are the deaths of two main characters, the revelation of the Red vs Blue war being a lie, and the death of the Director. The protagonists admit things simply cannot go back the way they used to be.
- Once a Season: Given Tex first appears in Episode 10, the following nine seasons usually re-introduce or feature her heavily in the tenth episode. Season 11 plays with it, as someone stops a rucks by shooting up as Tex's leitmotif plays... but it's Donut. Another Episode 10 tradition is a plot twist.
- One Steve Limit: An aversion. Doc's real first name is Frank, which is also the name of an IDA cameraman in Season 15. It's hard to notice, though, since no one calls Doc by his real name and Frank is only around for one episode.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Freelancers. Only Tex, Wyoming and Washington have a first name known, and are almost never referred to by anything but their codenames. Washington almost gets indignant at one point when a guy tries to call him by his real name, though Washington personally hated him. The only Freelancer whose full name is known is Butch Flowers, who was assigned to Blood Gulch to safeguard the Alpha. His code name was Agent Florida.
- Out of Focus: The Blues have been the driving focus of all the characters since season 5, while the Reds haven't gotten the chance to develop beyond background characters and comic relief.
- Pinball Protagonist: Calling the Reds and Blues "reactive protagonists" would be stretching for a compliment, honestly. When left to their own devices, the most they'll instigate by themselves is childish bickering. They start to become more proactive from season 6 forward, particularly when more competent people like Washington or Carolina are leading them.
- Plot Tumor: The Freelancers, starting in "Recovery One". However, Tropes Are Not Bad, and it does help to develop existing soldiers along the way in addition to fleshing out the program.
- The Power of Friendship: A running theme in the series.
- Project Freelancer fell apart due to the loss of cohesion among the members who were supposed to be a team.Carolina: It's because I had a team once. A team with the best training, the best equipment, and despite everything that they had that made them the best, they still lied, and stole, and tore each other to pieces. So you tell me; how the hell am I supposed to trust a rag-tag team of idiots, when I couldn't even trust the people that were closest to me?
- The Red and Blue Armies of Outpost 1 (Blood Gulch), who are meant to hate each other and be used for nothing more than training simulations for Project Freelancer, still manage to pull themselves together to be True Companions over the course of the series.Sarge: You know? There's one thing you Freelancers always seem to forget. That's the fact that we've managed to kick your ass time and time again! Oh, sure, you've got all your smart plans and your fancy technology and your advanced training. But in the end, what has that got ya? Without a team you can count on, without your fellow soldier by your side, all that doesn't really amount to squat, now does it?
- Project Freelancer fell apart due to the loss of cohesion among the members who were supposed to be a team.
- Pretentious Latin Motto: If this official shirt is any indication, Project Freelancer's is "Roboris Per Scientia" (strength through science).
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: In a way, the teams themselves. Most of the drama is driven by members of Blue Team, while Red Team is composed of some very... unbalanced characters who drive most of the comedy.
- Revenge: This is a recurring theme of later series, several characters from both the protagonist and antagonist camps go on quests for vengeance against people who wronged them, sometimes the outcome of one revenge quest leading to another. These quests are never complete successes though. Either the character fails (often dying in the process), manages to exact their revenge but ends up left unsatisfied by it, or they realise at a crucial moment that they are becoming something unpleasant and give up their quest for vengeance before it's too late. If the latter happens with a bad guy character, it usually marks the start of that character's evolution into a better person. If RVB has any serious lessons to teach, it's that revenge just isn't worth it, but that no matter how far you've gone down that path, it's never too late to back out.
- Retcon: Used fairly often, but implied a few times as well. There's a fair number of plot holes that need ironing out if you watch every episode (including the mini-series, but naturally not the PSAs) and treat them all as canon. However, a fair number of these are due to revision and/or an Unreliable Narrator.
- In Out of Mind, for instance, shows Tex and Church meeting at a Blue base. Tex comments that she doesn't know what Freelancer ability her armour has, even though she's shown to use its invisibility during Project flashback scenes and the finale to Season 10. Then again, she also knew that Church was the Alpha, so it could be an example of her lying to Church to help keep him safe.
- The last shots of Season 10 feature the Halo 4 map "Exile" and are accompanied by dialogue implying that the Reds and Blues have returned to Blood Gulch. However, in Season 11, it's explained that the Reds and Blues crash-landed on the planet Chorus on their way back to Blood Gulch, and the map is a new location - Crash Site Bravo.
- Running Gag:
- Here's a list of all of them through season 13.
- The arrival of the Warthog being heralded by polka-style ranchero music. Made even funnier by the fact that particular song only plays after the Warthog is repaired by Lopez.
- Enemy Mooks being seen arguing with each other right before getting horribly killed.
- Church being unable to hit anybody or anything with the sniper rifle, and, as shown in Season 6, any other guns.
- Sarge trying to get Grif killed.
- Tucker's armor (and only Tucker's, once the gag became running) getting covered in mysterious black stuff every time he goes through a teleporter.
- "... You wanna talk about it?" "...No." Said in response to someone saying or doing something awkward.
- "I'll take those odds." in response to the many ridiculous things the BGC have their money on.
- "The worst [blank], ever. Of all time."
- Sapient Tank: Sheila, mostly from season 4.
- Scare Chord: The Meta's theme, because you just know something bad is about to happen.
- Share Phrase:
- "Son of a bitch!" - Anyone who's about to get blown up (or who's seen someone else nearby get blown up), most often being Church. Often repeated three times.
- Whenever Sister says something strange, someone will almost always say "Yeah! Wait. What?!" In "Relocated", this follows when she isn't even there, but the conversation is about her.
- "Shotgun." "Shotgu... fuck!" - Usually Grif and Simmons.
- "HURK! Bleh." When someone dies in the first five seasons.
- "HEGUHURGERK!" Whenever someone gets possessed.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Captain Butch Flowers. This is a lampshading of the series' Limited Animation, since the creators can't realistically make it look like a character is sleeping.Now to go to sleep, standing up, with my eyes open, as is my custom!
- Socketed Equipment: Armor has a slot for AI, and can have Freelancer equipment installed as well.
- Smarter Than You Look: Any character that at first seems dumb will either have periodic Dumbass Has a Point moments or is a case of Brilliant, but Lazy.
- Speech-Centric Work: Especially in the early seasons. "Burnie" Burns says that due to only using Halo game engines, his "use of verbs" was extremely limited, a limitation that went away with the inclusion of Monty Oum and other animations from Season 8 onward.Caboose: Well, maybe all of this is happening inside of a movie.Tucker: Oh please, who would watch that movie? All we ever do is stand around and talk!
- Story-Breaker Power:
- The reason the cast never gets to use the Spartan Laser in seasons 6-8, despite it being on a number of multi-player maps in Halo 3, such as Valhalla, Standoff, Avalanche, etc.
- The armor shields for that matter. These guys wear the Mk 6 Spartan armor, yet only Caboose has been seen using the standard shields. Everyone else can easily be shot down unless they're specifically said to have the dome shield, overshields, or both. Or the Meta, who's insanely durable with or without them.
- Wyoming's time manipulation falls under this as well, especially in the prequels where he's never seen using it even after he gets Gamma as his AI.
- Surrounded by Idiots: A majority of the cast, from the most competent soldier to the dumbest of troops, believe themselves to be this, often glazing over their own flaws and shortcomings. Church's closing lines during the final episode of The Blood Gulch Chronicles has him indirectly explain why he hates everyone around him for very specific reasons.
- Team Spirit: Despite their many quirks and deficiencies, the Blood Gulch crew accomplish some pretty amazing things when they work together. This is most noticeable in their climactic fights against the Meta and the Director's army of Tex drones, where by working together and having each other's backs they're able to make up for their individual flaws and actually defeat vastly superior opponents. In contrast, the series' most powerful character is a Lone Wolf who is also literally the incarnation of Failure Is the Only Option.
- Theme Naming: Many of the characters share their names with the preset default character names from the original Halo.
- Took a Level in Badass: The Reds and Blues' fighting skills improve considerably as the plot moves forward, most notably in the later seasons.
- True Companions: The Blood Gulch Crew becomes this over time, to the point that the "war" is just a way for them to pass the time.
- Two-Act Structure: So far, the series seems split between "comedy with some plot" (Seasons 1-5) and "plot with some comedy" (Seasons 6-10). The eleventh season mixes the two, due to a shift in tone near the end that persists throughout the Chorus trilogy.
- Villain of Another Story: The Covenant count as this. The series is mentioned to take place after "the Great War" with the Covenant, and Project Freelancer is said to have been made as one of many experimental programs to be the magic bullet to win the war, But the Covenant themselves very rarely appear in the series and are mostly kept as an occasional reference, and they have virtually no role in the series, whether good or bad.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- The entire main cast (with the exceptions of Donut and Caboose) consists of a bunch of self-centered jackasses. Despite this, though, they stick by one another and frequently risk their lives for each other.
- Most of the Freelancers were this as well, before the program fell apart.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Though the Reds and Blues should be enemies, they normally aren't. That isn't to say that they don't make life difficult for each other almost as easily as breathing.Washington: You guys are not making my life easy right now.
Tucker: Do we ever?
Washington: ...good point.
- Weapon of Choice: Besides armor color, almost every member of the current main cast has a particular weapon they favor which serves to distinguish them and help them stand out in a crowd.
- The Insurrectionist leader uses collapsible throwing axes, one of two weapons in the series without a counterpart in Halo canon.
- When she doesn't have another weapon on hand, Tex tends toward just using her Super Strength or otherwise her skill in close combat to beat people down with her hands, though her arsenal in most cases is far less static. The sleeveless Insurrectionist, though he has weapons, also tends toward using brute strength in combat before finishing people off with guns. Caboose, when sufficiently enraged, also tends toward no-weapons combat.
- In Red vs. Blue: The Recollection and afterwards, Simmons takes to using a rocket launcher.
- Grif is the default driver and is much more comfortable fighting inside a vehicle than outside of one.
- Sharkface, the Insurrectionist Flame Soldier, uses a flamethrower. He uses two smaller wrist mounted ones in Season 13.
- The twin Insurrectionist gunners use miniguns. Also, when not using a BFG, Simmons is generally on the machine gun turret on the Chupathingy. Any red-striped Fed soldier wields a turret as well.
- The "Knifle", the Brute Shot, a combination Grenade Launcher / sword, is the primary weapon of Maine after he takes it from an Insurrectionist pile of Covenant weaponry. Grif takes it after his death, and rechristens it the "Grifshot", until it was confiscated by Charon Industries between Seasons 10 and 11, where it ended up in the Chairman's Freelancer Trophy Room and was rediscovered by Grif in the season 13 finale.
- Agent Connecticut uses a combat knife. Felix is also a big fan of these. Lampshaded when Washington pulls out his own, remarking that he's not the only one good with knives.
- The female insurrectionist is partial to combat knives, generally two kukris at the same time.
- Tucker's "Great Weapon", an Energy Sword. Aside from in some Mental World antics, he's the only one who can use it. Except for Doyle and Felix later on.
- Caboose uses the Assault Rifle, having not upgraded to the marksman guns when everyone else did. The Federal Army of Chorus all use it too, with the exception of General Doyle and the Gunman.
- Agent Carolina takes up dual Plasma Rifles in Season 10, her primary weapon set aside from the rest of her arsenal. Aside from that, however, she tends to use a Grappling-Hook Pistol that isn't even seen in the games proper.
- The red demoman Insurrectionist uses a Short-Range Shotgun in the prequel segments of Season 10. Sarge also uses this, often forgetting its incredibly short range. According to a parody video about "zombie plans", he keeps it just in case of a Zombie Apocalypse.
- Agent North Dakota and Wyoming were snipers, along with Locus, the sniper Insurrectionist, and Church.
- As a variation, Washington has the Marksman gun known as the Battle Rifle, which is a mix between this and More Dakka.
- Another variation, the DMR, is used uniformly by the New Republic soldiers.
- Donut tends toward using plasma grenades.
- Being an Actual Pacifist, Doc's only "weapon" is his medical scanner, a Plasma Pistol. However, he can overload it to send out a charged burst to hurt someone if absolutely necessary.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: If comments made in the Grifball miniseries and the Mercs Trilogy are to be believed.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Notably averted - the fate of almost every major or minor character who appears in the show is addressed in some way eventually, be it by them coming back, getting killed off, or even making a minor cameo in a later episode. Even if a character is Put on a Bus, they're likely to show up again later. Season 12 and 13 have been especially notable in that they resolved many remaining plot points and abandoned storylines from prior seasons. Some examples include Butch Flowers getting revived at the end of Season 5 and later getting revealed to be a Freelancer in Season 10, Andy the bomb getting auto-called by Siri in Season 11, the Chairman being revealed as "Control" in Season 12, Sharkface, the Counselor, Sister and Junior reappearing in Season 13, Vic narrating the story segments in season 14, and 479r's confirmation of reappearing in the same season, the series has impressively managed to account for every member of its sprawling cast numbering in the hundreds.
- We got a more minor example of this when Carolina cites what happened to Georgia when cautioning her fellows about their jetpacks. No matter how much poor Washington asks, nobody actually tells him what happened to Georgia. Then, in Season 10's epilogue, Georgia slams into a window somewhere in space, coincidentally where equally-absent Utah just found his lucky coin.
- Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Episode 100 has a rare instance of winning by doing nothing out of pure abject laziness. During the events of the episode the rogue, homicidal AI Omega jumps from person to person due to its ability to Body Surf through radios, but can be forced out of someone either by the AI's choice or by knocking out the host. For the Red Team hosts, they get punched in the head; first Simmons (repeatedly), then Donut, then Sarge. When O'Malley finally infects Grif, he is the only Red to not get beat up by Tex when he notes that he suddenly has an urge to conquer the universe, but that it's out of character for him because that would take work. His response is to not do anything at all...whereupon he promptly falls asleep standing up. Omega either can't wake Grif up or is so disgusted by his laziness that he abandons Grif altogether to jump to another host.
- World of Snark: It'd be faster to make a list of characters who aren't snarky at some point. Which probably consists of Counselor Aiden Price, the Director, Donut, and Caboose.
- Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Kind of. Despite the Blood Gulch Crew being unfairly labeled as war criminals, not much of what happened with their involvement in the aftermath of Project Freelancer was their fault. However, assuming that law in the RvB universe functions anywhere close to ours, there is absolutely no way they should have been pardoned by the UNSC simply by taking down the Director note due to the various crimes they committed while on the run from the law, which include the killing of a quite a few Recovery soldiers, multiple accounts of vehicle theft, and withholding information, as well as evading arrest in the first place. This is more justified after the Season 12 finale, revealing that the Chairman (the man responsible for their pardon) was ultimately behind their ship crashing where the soldiers were expected to be disposed of.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles: Seasons 1-5 plus "Out of Mind"
- Red vs. Blue: The Recollection: Seasons 6-8 plus "Recovery One" and "Relocated"
- Red vs. Blue: The Project Freelancer Saga: Seasons 9-10
- Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy: Seasons 11-13
- Red vs. Blue: Season 14: Season 14
- Red vs. Blue: Season 15: Season 15
PSAs and specialsRooster Teeth has also created several videos outside of the main series created for promotions or just to make humorous videos that aren't related to the plot of the show.
Red vs. Blue: AnimatedA series pilot that was shown at PAX 2008 and later announced dead at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, due to a combination of time constraints, money and the staff's inability to work on the timeframe of another company. The Pilot/Trailer can be found here. The pilot later became a part of the first episode of Season 14, where it is revealed to be a simulation run by Epsilon between seasons 8 and 9.
- Buried Alive: This happens to Sarge in an April Fool's Day episode when Grif mistakes him for being dead. He escaped by eating his way out of the grave.
- The Cameo: The financial crisis PSA involves the Blues having their base and equipment sold to "some foreign characters from another video game". The Sponsor's Cut makes it clear the characters are Mario and Luigi, complete with the new base flag being the flagpole from Super Mario Bros..
- Continuity Nod: Tucker's less than normal knowledge of time comes up again in the Rock the Veto PSA when has says they were playing Blindfold for "like 30 hours last night."
- Decided by One Vote: A Type 3 scenario that ends up unresolved in the Election Night video. Grif apparently meant to vote, but forgot to register in time due to his usual laziness.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The American Grifball League of America.
- Eagleland: Type 1, parodied. After examining how Red vs. Blue would be done by other countries, Church and Tucker decide to do it the American way, which they conclude is driving big cars and blowing shit up. The video ends with a Warthog flying over an explosion with the American flag in the background and "America the Beautiful" playing. This sets up a Brick Joke: earlier in the episode, they had done the "Russian version", where many of the characters' statements are censored and replaced with praise of the Russian government and its leader, Nikolai Petrovsky. Hilariously, at the end of the episode, his name is randomly cut into the song.
- E = MC Hammer: The "Sarge Seal of Approval" is E=MCSarged.
- Explosive Stupidity: Caboose was prone to this during the Fourth of July PSA about handling fireworks.Donut: Hey, Caboose. Have you seen my grenade?
Caboose: Yes, I put it in my pants. Wait-... (cue explosion)
- Faux to Guide:
- The guide to making an online video.
- The Fire Safety PSA. It ends with the group dying in a fire inside the building and is given an In Memoriam message.
- "Match Breaking", a guide by Tucker and Simmons on picking up girls.
- Four Point Scale: The PSA about the gaming industry lampshades this practice.
- The Grinch: Church in the Christmas special. His acts include shooting the Red's Christmas tree decorations, spreading lies about Santa to Caboose and stealing the present he tricked Tucker into getting for him.
- Lethal Chef: Sarge's dish for the 2008 Thanksgiving dinner was severed human hands dressed like turkeys due to misunderstanding his research materials (first-grader reports) while Caboose misinterpreted a sexual metaphor his grandmother once told him in his youth and brought "hair pie". Sarge had to set him straight on that one.
- Medal of Dishonor: The Olympics PSA has Sarge suggest giving these to the losers in the form of enriched uranium.
- Memetic Badass: In-universe, sort of... In a series of PSA videos made to hype Halo 3: ODST, Sergeant Johnson is painted to be even more of this than he already was in the Halo games with claims that he once took out an entire Covenant Batallion single handedly, is immortal, and has laser vision.
- The credits after the videos has a disclaimer saying "laser vision not included".
- New Year's Resolution: Both teams spent the New Year's video in a "Resolveathon" to come up with the best resolutions. The losers had suffer a Fate Worse Than Death...actually following through on their resolutions. The Blues take advantage of this by resolving to beat up the Reds.
- Required Secondary Powers: Actually averted in the "Upgrading" PSA, when Caboose gets his armor stuck on invisibility mode:Church: Don't worry Caboose, I'm sure when the game comes out there'll be a way to shut it off.Caboose: Good. I need sleep.Sarge: Sleep? When that game comes out, I won't sleep for a week!Church: Yeah, no, it's not that, it's just that he's having trouble sleeping because he can see through his eyelids now.Sarge: Oh. That's creepy.
- Right Behind Me: Church kinda invokes the wrath of Sgt. Johnson in the 3rd ODST PSA this way.
- Schmuck Bait: The second and third season DVDs have bonus videos implying either a love story with Tex or "Sheila's Sexy Adventure". Clicking either of those and you get berated for actually expecting something.
- Seemingly Profound Fool: The "What I Did On My Summer" PSA has Caboose unwittingly "escaping into the campaign" of Halo: Reach, either becoming, being mistaken for, or revealing himself to be Noble Six.
- Shout-Out: During an early tattoo PSA, Church suggests that if the viewer does get one, it should of "your favorite character from your favorite online cartoon". It then shows a picture of Strong Bad. Church then grumbles "I meant your other favorite online cartoon", which then shows Gabe and Tycho.
- Stealth Pun: In the Voting Fever PSA. Sarge sings "We're going to need a big strong Chorus" at the end of Season Eleven the group finds out that the planet they are stranded on is called "Chorus"
- Another in the Christmas special "Christmas is the one day of the year you should never miss Church."
- Telegraph Gag STOP: Sarge receives a message in this form for the Halo: Reach PSA.
- The Internet Is Serious Business: A PSA was made about this.
- Trust Me, I'm an X: From the bird flu PSA.Doc: Guys, trust me. I'm a doctor.
Simmons: No, you're not! You just play one on the internet!
- Unexplained Recovery: Most of the time, if a character suffers a seemingly fatal injury, they'll turn out to be fine later, to the point that towards the end of the series they don't even bother explaining it anymore.
- Wildlife Commentary Spoof: One of the bonuses in the Red Vs Blue DVD is a movie spoof that has Sarge doing this to Grif (framed as a hunting show, naturally).
- Worst Aid: The general premise of the cold and flu PSA. "I've had the bullets in my shotgun medically coated for the fastest possible injection of life-saving medicine."
- Worst Whatever, Ever!: Sarge gives this during the 2008 Thanksgiving special when he discovers it doesn't involve inviting your enemies over and shooting them in the back.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Sarge says this about Caboose (or rather, "you have no idea what you just dealt with") when he and Church realize he took a vacation in the Halo: Reach campaign.Church: Caboose, that was some crazy story dude.
Caboose: I know, you have no idea.
Sarge: No. You have no idea.
Caboose: Right, nobody has any idea.
Sarge: No son, you specifically, have no idea.
Red vs. Blue: AnimatedA series pilot that was shown at PAX 2008 and later announced dead at the 2010 San Diego Comic Con, due to a combination of time constraints, money and the staff's inability to work on the timeframe of another company. The Pilot/Trailer can be found here. The pilot later became a part of the first episode of Season 14, where it is revealed to be a simulation run by Epsilon between seasons 8 and 9.