Machinima / Red vs. Blue

Washington: How do you ever get anything done if all you ever do is argue with each other?
Church: We don't! That's part of our charm! Quit fucking it up!

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.
  • 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 show is currently in its 15th season, which picks up 10 months after Season 13 left off. The Reds and Blues have become notorious criminals, and one reporter, Dylan Andrews, is dead-set on finding out what caused this change in their behavior. It's filmed using Halo 5: Guardians, with CGI and footage from other games mixed in. Notably, it's 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.

All fifteen seasons can be viewed at the Rooster Teeth website, or on the official Red vs. Blue YouTube channel. Seasons 1-13 are also available on Netflix and DVD (Netflix UK does not have Seasons 1-5), and Seasons 1, 2, 9 and 10 on Amazon Prime. The series made a televised debut on the El Rey Network late 2015.

A series guidebook was published in 2015, titled Red vs. Blue: The Ultimate Fan Guide and compiling information relating to the first thirteen seasons.

Has an expansive character sheet here.

WARNING: As of Season 15, episodes will be released to Rooster Teeth FIRST members one week before the public. Beware of spoilers for episodes that haven't been publicly released.

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.
  • 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.
    • "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:
    • 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.
    Tucker: You brought [the Reds]? Are we killin' each other today? Or pretending to work together?
    Caboose: Uh, the pretending version.
    Tucker: Oh, okay, cool.
    • The trope is also deconstructed in Season 13, as Wash notes that even though The New Republic and Federal Army of Chorus are working together, they still aren't working together.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Season 15 
  • Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: To get past a soldier at the crime scene, Dylan spouts off a bunch of meaningless acronyms that make her and her cameraman sound important.
  • Anti-Climax: The mysterious FOTUS soldier turns out to be a civil servant serving Tucker a court order. Played for Laughs.
  • Already Met Everyone: Downplayed. A flashback to the days of Project Freelancer shows that Doc and Carolina already met long before either of them met the Reds and Blues.
  • Arc Words: "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction." They're the first words spoken in Episode 1, and they're spoken again when Dylan learns of the planet-destroying power the Blues and Reds' machine has.
  • A Simple Plan: All Biff needed to get back home to Georgina was to be medically discharged. The plan was simple: Temple shoots off his pinkie finger with witnesses present. Biff saw an opportunity to enact the plan when Carolina and Tex showed up in their canyon, but then he was dragged into their fight and quickly killed.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In their brief conversation about what they do in their spare time, one of the Blues and Reds' Grunts mentions they like "...hunting endangered animals, pushing small children down wells, and driving around without using my turn signal!"
  • Asshole Victim: Parodied with the Blues and Reds' Grunts, with Episode 19 showing them all to be absurdly petty and casually bigoted assholes who more than deserved to be sent off to Project Freelancer and later be killed off by the Reds and Blues.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Newton's Third Law would mean that when a wooden shaft pierces a suit of metal armor, realistically it would splinter if it hit the metal with the force required to pierce it. To say nothing of apparently going through Biff's spine and a concrete wall, all without so much as a crack.
  • Big Bad: The Blues and Reds, led by Mark Temple.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: When Caboose is talking to Loco, two of his teammates give him two different questions to ask. The question he actually asks ends up being a mangled combination of the two. This happens twice.
    Dylan: Ask them who they are.
    Sarge: No! Find out if it's an ambush!
    Caboose: Are you a bush?
  • The Bus Came Back:
    • When Dylan investigates Blood Gulch, she bumps into Sister and then, Vic.
    • Granted, they weren't on a bus for very long, but Kimball, Dr. Grey, the lieutenants, and Santa all make appearances during Dylan's visit to Chorus.
    • The Director, 479er, and Tex all show up in a flashback in Episode 13. The Counselor is also heard speaking, but never shown on-screen.
    • The Red and Blue Zealots from Battle Creek are revealed to be working with the Blues and Reds.
    • Locus returns to save the Reds and Blues from the Blues and Reds.
    • Alpha-Church makes an appearance thanks to Loco's time machine.
  • Call-Back:
    • The season starts with what happened to the Reds and Blues between seasons being an Ambiguous Situation, following a viewpoint character mostly unaffiliated with the Reds and Blues, that needs to track them down to figure out what's happened, and said viewpoint character starts by going back to where it all began, in Blood Gulch, just like how Reconstruction started off. Ties into a Mythology Gag when Dylan mentions that this is what Wash did.
    • The news article about the Reds and Blues seen at the end of Season 12 says "By Dylan Andrews". This season introduces Dylan as an actual character. Since she's written on the Reds and Blues before, she knows enough to find their change in behavior unusual and seeks to investigate further.
    • Sister's first assumption about Dylan and Jax is that they're firemen, just like she assumed Wash was a cop in Reconstruction.
    • Just like at the end of Season 2, the Reds and Blues got into a huge argument on whether or not it was ironic to be eaten by dinosaurs. This gets referenced again later in the season. Sarge and Tucker get too wrapped up in their own banter to start searching for the time machine. Dylan asks if this happens a lot, and Carolina responds that the record is two hours.
    • When seen from space, Earth's Western Hemisphere is missing the Floridian Peninsula, referencing how the Counselor had Florida blown to hell to cover-up Agent Florida going undercover at Blood Gulch. Relatedly, when Jax is filming Sarge in Episode 11, the American flag in the background only has 49 stars, also referencing the Florida cover-up.
    • During his Face–Heel Turn, Sarge mentions how he used to be an ODST, which is a reference to the "Relocated" miniseries.
    • In the team's fight against the Zealots, Sarge once again teams up with Caboose, the Red Zealot recognizes Caboose as "the Beast", and Caboose once again beats them up out of anger.
    • Temple uses the armor lock technology on the Reds and Blues during the final battle. It fails to work on Dylan, Jax, and Caboose (the former two aren't wearing Freelancer armor, and Caboose's obsolete Mark V armor means it doesn't work on him). The latter was a plot point in Season 8.
    • When Loco dies, he goes "Hurk! Bleh." like people who died in the original seasons did.
  • Cassandra Truth: Carlos understandably doesn't believe anything Dylan says about the Reds and Blues' early days.
  • Central Theme: According to Joe Nicolosi in an AfterBuzz TV interview, consequences is the main theme of this season. Regret and mirroring are also important themes this season.
  • Chekhov's Gag:
    • When Grif is talking to Volleyball!Simmons, it is briefly shown that Grif now knows Spanish, most likely as a result of being left alone. This quickly becomes important when Locus shows up with Lopez' head.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Tower of Procreation was one of several alien towers mentioned on Chorus during Season 13. Tucker says after they captured Hargrove, he activated the temple so everyone on Chrous could party. It is then revealed that the FOTUS Soldier has been searching for Tucker to serve him a class-action lawsuit for all the women he got pregnant while the Temple was activated and then abandoned.
    • The Meth-Meth shrooms introduced in Episode 5 are later used in Episode 19 by Grif to gain Super Speed and take out tons of the Blues and Reds' Grunts.
  • Cerebus Retcon: The armor lock function. Originally a funny way of incapacitating Tex in Revelation, here it is the main tool in Temple's method of executing Freelancers, and highlights how dangerous it could have been if the Reds and Tucker hadn't been let out of it.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Due to the confusion caused by 24-Hour Armor and Similar Squad antics, the Blues and Reds change their visors to blue to help the two teams tell one another apart. Relatedly, the Battle Creek Grunts have green-tinted visors
  • Companion Cube: During his time in isolation, Grif decorates a bunch of volleyballs to look like the other Reds and Blues and acts out Blood Gulch-esque scenarios with them. He does his best impression of each character, even speaking Spanish for Lopez.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The flashback episodes are dated to taking place after the Sarcophagus heist in Season 9. Carolina's increasing competitiveness and Tex being partnered with Omega during this time would also help explain why both are so uncaring of Biff's death.
    • When Tex appears in the flashback episodes, she has a voice filter like the one that she used in her first appearance.
    • When Dylan explains that the Blues and Reds' device is powered by a time machine, Tucker and Simmons recall the time they thought they time-traveled in Season 3.
  • Deus Exit Machina: Most of the most powerful and combat-capable members of the cast are written out before the confrontation with the Big Bad in the finale. Specifically, Washington is shot, forcing Locus to take him to the hospital while the other living Freelancer, Carolina, has to sit out the final mission due to her injuries.
  • Did Not See That Coming: The FOTUS Soldier being a process server just delivering a class-action lawsuit to Tucker.
    Dylan: That is not how I saw this going.
  • Drama-Preserving Handicap: Halfway through the season, the two super soldiers in the cast suffer handicaps that keep them from individually taking down the Big Bad and their minions without any help from the rest of the cast. Being trapped for days standing up in a suit of armor without food or water leaves the two too delusional and cramped to do more than fight two mooks at a time.
  • Easter Egg: Everything on Temple's computer screen.
  • Epic Fail: Grif's "infiltration" of the Blues and Reds' underwater lair involves him running around the base in circles, stopping to eat a snack and trying to enter the vents - all while blatantly on camera, and getting stuck in the vent because of his size, botching the Reds and Blues' only escape option. Subverted when it turns out to be a massive distraction for Locus to make his way undetected into the depths of the base, where he finds Washington and Carolina.
  • Everything Is Racist: Back when the Blues and Reds were still at war, the Blues were holding Lorenzo (or at least his head) hostage. The Reds thought Temple called him a goombah and told him that was racist. Temple clarified that he said "Goomba", but Lorenzo thought that was still pretty racist. Then Temple calls him a cannoli instead, which isn't much better.
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition: The Blues and Reds have two lairs: One is located underwater on Armada 8, the other is inside a volcano on Earth.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One minor detail is actually the biggest hint for why Temple is doing what he's doing: The lack of a "Grif" counterpart among the Blues and Reds.
    • Sarge mentions that's he's fantasized about Grif dying horribly in routine training exercises. Later, it's revealed that Biff, Grif's counterpart, met a gruesome demise when Carolina and Tex were sent to his gulch for training purposes. Also, while Sarge and Surge were previously getting along quite well before that comment, Surge seems to be noticeably depressed/uncomfortable after that line, also foreshadowing Biff's death and Surge's guilt over previously making fun of Biff like Sarge currently does to Grif.
    • The true nature of Loco's device (a time machine that drills into the earth) is hinted at several times. The drill aspect was hinted at when the sim troopers went to an abandoned mining rig to look for parts, and when Loco said they would need trajectories to use it. The time machine part was hinted at by dialogue from Loco, such as offering to show Caboose a door to his dead friend, going on to say that it's not about where the door will take him, and explaining in his Technobabble that "the wormhole will resonate backwards."
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: In Episode 16, when Temple is dealing with all of the popup adds, if you look closely, Vic's face is on a lot of them, hinting that those aren't any ordinary "popups".
  • Fun with Acronyms: Dylan calls her cameraman a French Analysis Repair Transfer.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In Episode 15, we see that Grif has become a Talkative Loon, acting out conversations with volleyballs, painted with the faces of Red and Blue team.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: A variation of this happened to Donut. Grif buried his armor underground, thinking he died at some point.
  • Groin Attack: Tex just cannot keep her fists off her opponents' crotches, punching Carolina and Biff in the private parts during the flashback fight.
  • Happy Ending: While Church is still dead after all, and Loco and Vic also die, the amount of good manages to completely outweigh the bad. The Blues and Reds are defeated, with most of them being either killed or locked away, the Reds and Blues survive the fight, Caboose gets to say his goodbyes to Church, Vic gets his wish when he shuts down the time machine before it can damage the planet, Wash makes a full recovery, Dylan finishes her story, which will erase the tensions between Chorus and the UNSC once released, and Jax is on his way to making blockbuster films like he wanted.
  • Hourglass Plot: At the start, Tucker was completely on board with the call to action (in this case, potentially saving Church), while Grif refused (because of stress). Near the end, Grif was on board with the call to action (in this case, stopping the Blues and Reds from destroying the USNC base on Earth), while Tucker initially refused (because of defeatism).
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Carolina and Wash firmly grasp it in Episode 10, when, right after outlining the reasons they don't trust Temple or his crew, they allow him to take them down into an isolated area, all the while with his gun to their backs. When they finally reach the Wax Museum Morgue where he displays their former comrades as victims, they very slowly ready their weapons and don't even try to shoot, giving him ample time to activate their armor lock and leave them to die. It's only because of Temple's own Complexity Addiction that they don't die then and there. Possibly Justified (at least to a small extent) by them being off-guard from their ~10 month "vacation" with the Reds and Blues, which made them less prepared for an actual fight.
    • Invoked in Episode 18: in order to figure out how the Blues and Reds are going to attack the USNC on Earth, Dylan asks Sarge how he would attack a heavily armed foe. His answer? "Death from below."
  • I Should Write a Book About This: The second stinger has Jax turning in a screenplay based on his adventure, admitting that he added in movie references and flubbed some of the specifics, meaning he essentially wrote Season 15 as we saw it. Helped by the fact that Jax is an Author Avatar of the season's actual writer.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • Vic claims that he's been cutting the footage from the Blood Gulch battle simulations into five-minute movies, and Dylan later says there's 100 of them.
    • The events of Episode 4 happen on Sunday, April 23rd, the same day the episode was released for FIRST Members.
    • Jax claims that he liked the Reds and the Blues better when they were funny, echoing a common criticism from fans of the original seasons.
    • In Episode 12, Temple states that his late-night conversation with Biff ultimately reached "the same place it always did":
    • Donut complains in Episode 14 that he feels like he's ignored and unnoticed by the other Reds and Blues. Donut's largely been Demoted to Extra since the end of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
    • When Simmons and Tucker are discussing their "time travel" adventures from Season 3 in Episode 19, Tucker complains that he never really knew what had happened back then and found it all really confusing. The questions around the "time-travel" plot have confounded countless fans since its inception.
  • Left the Background Music On: Shelley, an AI for the Blues and Reds' base, can also play background music on request. The Blues and Reds decide to play music to go with Carolina and Tex duking it out.
  • Lethal Joke Character: While the Reds and Blues are already this, the Blues and Reds turn this Up to 11. Despite them being just as dysfunctional and goofy as the Blood Gulch Crew, they're also a band of ruthless anarchic terrorists who are planning on using a Doomsday Device to wipe out the vast majority of human civilization in the Milky Way.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: The only spacecraft left in the Blues and Reds' base is guarded by the Zealots. Locus wants to play it quiet and prepare an ambush, but Tucker, still riled from being made an Unwitting Pawn by Temple, rushes out and starts a firefight. this ultimately gets Wash shot.
    Locus: "We had the element of surprise! Now we're just fish in a barrel!"
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • After capturing Hargrove, Tucker activated the Temple of Procreation on Chorus. However, Grif and Simmons ended up stuck in a closet together, leading to this trope.
    • At the very end of the season, Season 1!Church decides that since he has no idea what to make of the time window to Season 15, he'll just forget it happened and never talk about it.
  • Light Is Not Good:
    • What Sarge thinks about anyone in white armor, which previously happened with Wyoming and Meta, who are both this trope.
    • Temple is named after a holy place of prayers and wears lighter blue like Church (actually Jimmy's Armor color), but is far more sinister than he lets on.
  • Mathematician's Answer: Simmons, talking to Grif about Jax and Gene.
    Simmons: Ugh, I'm gonna kill him!
    Grif: Your clone, or that camera guy?
    Simmons: ... Yes.
  • Mirror Routine: When Surge gets spotted by Sarge, he pretends to be a reflection to avoid blowing his cover Although, given how absurdly similar they are, he may have been doing it unintentionally.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: In Episode 14, Doc joins the Blues and Reds when they turn on the Red and Blues because of all the crap the Blood Gulch Crew's put him through.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Episode 5 is mostly a comical recap of the Blood Gulch Crew's antics during their retirement. Things turn somber when Dylan asks them what happened on the Staff of Charon where Church deleted himself to power the Meta's armor for Tucker.
    • Episode 13 starts off action-packed with a few humorous moments in between. All that changes to horror and gore the moment Carolina grabs Biff to use him as a human shield.
    • Episode 17 is full of hilarious moments, from a delirious Wash talking to Big Bird, to Caboose hugging Locus (much to Locus's horror). And then in the last few seconds a still-delirious Wash wanders into the middle of a firefight and is shot in the neck.
  • Mook Horror Show: In Episode 18, the Battle Creek Grunts get a reminder of what happened the last time Caboose got angry.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: If you read between the lines of Grif's interactions with the volleyball BGC in Episode 15, it's plain to see this is what Grif is dealing with in regards to staying behind:
    • Grif repeatedly attempts to apologize to Volleyball!Simmons, who keeps misinterpreting these genuine attempts as Grif being himself (saying he's hungry or thirsty).
    • Albeit it's because of Grif not watching the invisible tank, but Volleyball!Sarge's first act on screen is to insult Grif for being lazy.
    • And then you get the clencher: Volleyball!Tucker and Caboose blaming Grif for Volleyball!Church's death (since he is deflating and Tucker asked Grif to help by getting an air pump, something Grif flat out blew off).
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Jax wants to use Blood Gulch's tank as a dolly. The early seasons did indeed use the tank to make tracking shots.
    • Everything on Temple's computer screen indicates he is using default Microsoft Windows. The Recycling Bin in the top left, the Internet Explorer icon labelled 'Internet', the Xbox icon labelled 'Scorpio X', Excel, and Bing Search, are all made by Microsoft, which also makes Halo.
    • The titles of Episodes 19 and 20 are "Red vs Red" and "Blue vs Blue" respectively. These are also some of the lyrics to Blood Gulch Blues: "It's Red vs Red / And Blue vs Blue..."
    • A particularly macabre example: Biff's Cruel and Unusual Death from getting Impaled with Extreme Prejudice with the Blue Team flag might be a reference to how the "Capture the Flag" team flags in Halo mutliplayer are always a one-hit kill when used to melee someone.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: A depressed Caboose says he never got to say goodbye to Church or thank him for being his friend after finding out he really is dead and is is never coming back this time.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Discussed at the end of Episode 6: after seeing Grif snap at everyone and quit, Dylan hopes that she and Jax "didn't fuck something up" by causing the Blood Gulch Crew to go on the Church mission. Ultimately this becomes a key lynchpin: Because Grif was left behind, Locus is able to find him and give him Lopez's head, informing him of the BGC being captured.
  • Nobody Poops: When Wash and Carolina are freed from armor lock after being stuck in it for days, no mention is made of them needing to... clean up. Justified as it was stated directly back during the Freelancer Saga that their suits were designed to 'eliminate all waste'...except vomit, which Delta admitted had never made it past the initial testing
  • Noodle Incident: The Blood Gulch Crew's misadventures following Chorus. Rapid-Fire Comedy at its finest.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: When Jax tries to warn Dylan about the Blues and Reds sneaking up on them, Dylan is too busy reading the Mother of Invention's logs to pay attention. Jax even lampshades this.
    Jax: I have to point out this type of scene is very cliche. I talk, you ignore, and meanwhile, we become surrounded.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome \ Take Our Word for It: Two moments are described as such when the Blood Gulch crew returns, the resolution to Season 13's Bolivian Army Ending ("It was so awesome for a while, there! He powered up my suit and I was like Neo in the goddamn Matrix! I was juggling these two guns and the sword! And dodging bullets! It was fucking amazing! And then it was all over. ") and dinosaurs fighting robots ("I have seen some amazing things in my life, but this...this takes the cake.").
  • Other Me Annoys Me: Tucker and Simmons can't stand their counterparts on the Similar Squad. This might also count as I Hate Past Me because said counterparts were the same as them, only without the Character Development the formers had.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At the moment, it seems that the shootout at Sidewinder in episode 3 only happened because Gene misinterpreted Buckey's "Shoot!" as "Open fire!".
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Reds and Blues find out a new group dressed in their armor and colours are committing crimes.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Now that the UNSC is aware of Chorus's existence, they want to take their colony back, and they'll use force if they deem it necessary.
    • Grif, who is lazy, uninterested in adventuring, and has a tense at best relationship with most of the crew, leaves rather than go on yet another life-threatening quest to save Church. Also, deserting your friends who are your only sense of social interaction and way off a planet, and said backwater planet has literally no signs of civilization, is basically the same as letting yourself get stranded on a deserted island. Predictably you go a little insane.
    • Tucker learns the hard way that activating the Temple of Procreation has made him the father of many kids on Chorus, and their mothers have filed a class action lawsuit against him.
    • As fancy and high tech as a suit of future armor is, you can still starve to death if you can't move or get out of it. Furthermore, when Locus releases them, neither Wash or Carolina are ready to jump back into action. Having spent god knows how long stuck in one place, their muscles are sore and both are starving and dehydrated.
    • Jax's final exchange with Dylan implies that on the whole, the entire adventure has given him Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Small wonder, since he's a college kid who's not only been caught up in numerous firefights, and has been shot by friend and enemy alike for trivial reasons.
  • Reference Overdosed: This season in particular is absolutely filled with references. Jax especially, being a film geek, loves to reference other movies. Considering how the main writer for this season - Joe Nicolosi - had his previous RvB work ("The Brick Gulch Chronicles") also full of references, this seems to be part of his Signature Style.
  • Retcon: The given reason for why the Red Team had a kit to build an autonomous robot used to be that it was to hide the fact that Blue Team also had a robot kit for the Alpha. The reveal in Episode 13 implies that the robot kit was sent because the Reds in Desert Gulch also had a robot.
  • Rousing Speech: Tucker's speech in Episode 18.
    Tucker: Listen up, everyone. The Blues and Reds are trenched in. They've got numbers, and they've got guns on their side. They've been planning this operation... for years. They have a head start, and they have a doomsday device. They also don't stand a fucking chance. I ain't much on speeches, so I'll make this short. We do this for Wash! We do this for Church! We do this because... fuck those assholes! Buckle up, guys: we're going home.
    Caboose: We're going to Blood Gulch?
    Tucker: No. Earth, motherfuckers.
  • Sadistic Choice: Well, not so much choice as challenge, but Temple mentions to Carolina in particular that the record for staying alive in his armor room with the armor lock on is 8 days and 11 hours. He honestly hopes she can break it.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
    • In between Episodes 1 and 2, Dylan's first cameraman (Frank) quit because Dylan's Intrepid Reporter antics kept getting them arrested. She got an intern as a replacement.
    • And a few episodes later Grif's exhaustion with the never-ending adventures leads him to abandon the crew.
  • Self-Deprecation: One post-credits scene shows Jax Jonez, the Author Avatar of writer/director Joe Nicolosi, pitching a script based on his adventure. He assures the exec that it's all 100% true...except for the added movie references and fudged plot points. Essentially, Joe taking a jab at himself for his frequent use of references and bad memory when it comes to continuity.
  • Series Continuity Error: Season 14 showed that roughly half of the Reds and Blues (Donut, Caboose, and Sister) weren't meant to be in Blood Gulch, but Episode 13 seems to indicate that all the Reds and Blues were handpicked to mirror the Desert Gulch teams.
  • Shadow Archetype: Most of the Blues and Reds are this for the Reds and Blues. The exceptions to this seem to be Loco and Cronut, who are almost identical to their Blood Gulch counterparts (the third exception to this is Biff & Grif. Biff was a straightforward Nice Guy while Grif is a Jerk with a Heart of Gold).
  • Ship Tease: Episode 10 has a moment between Carolina and Wash. Carolina thinks she missed her chance at a new life with York, but Wash assures her that she can always start her life over. Carolina decides to throw York's lighter into the ocean, but he stops her. He tells her she doesn't need to let go of her past for the sake of her future. Then he grabs her hand, and she doesn't let go. Of course, Wash ruins the moment when he suggests taking off their clothes to trap whoever's tracking them with their recovery beacons, which Carolina takes the wrong way.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The first two songs playing during Tex and Carolina's fight, an epic orchestral piece and a metal track, fit just fine, but it turns into this when Surge decides to play music by Bruce Springsteen. Then Loco shuffles the playlist and an audiobook of Harry Potter plays.
  • Spoiler Title: The fact that Episode 16 is called "Grif Does A Rescue" gives away the fact that Grif choosing to quit the team in Episode 6 doesn't last.
  • Spot the Imposter: When Simmons and Gene are grappling in episode 20, Grif is forced to do this due to them having the same voice. And exactly how does Grif do this? One question, directed to both of them: "Why are we here?"
  • The Stinger: There are three sprinkled throughout the credits:
    • The first reveals that Temple, Buckey, and Cronut are now in prison. Temple sighs as the prison guards serve him-you guessed it-fish.
    • The second shows Jax pitching a script based on his adventure to a studio executive, admitting that he added in some movie references and may have fudged a few details. He also asks the exec if he'd be interested in Moon Doom.
    • The final one shows Past!Church in Blood Gulch, still confused about what just happened, and then vowing to completely forget about it and never mention it to anyone.
  • Strawman News Media: Many people on Chorus, especially Dr. Grey, view the press as this for insisting the Reds and Blues' attacks are their fault.
  • Stylistic Suck: The ending credits reveal "VelociROCKtor", the song the Blood Gulch Crew recorded in their brief retirement. The instrumentals are alright. The lyrics and Carolina's singing, on the other hand, are hilariously terrible.
  • Take Our Word for It: Quite a few incidents described in Episode 5 happened just off-screen. Or, like in the case of Wash growing a beard, was hidden by the 24-Hour Armor.
  • Take That!:
  • The Teaser: Although the title does show up in the bottom corner right at the start, it doesn't appear front and center until after the Blues and Reds' massacre.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Episode 10 reveals that Carolina took back York's lighter.
  • Turned On Their Masters: Parodied, subverted, and somehow inverted in Episode 5. Unable to live without an enemy to fight during their off-time, Sarge built a robot army to be that enemy. However, the robots malfunctioned and waged war against the local dinosaurs. All entirely off-screen.
  • Wax Museum Morgue: Armor lock plus various Freelancers equals Temple's basement.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Episode 3, which reveals that the Reds and Blues that have been causing the attacks are not the real Reds and Blues, and that someone is after Tucker.
    • Episode 10, as is usual, when it turns out Temple has been killing the surviving members of Project Freelancer, apparently out of revenge, before locking Wash and Carolina in armor lock so they can die trapped. He also hints that he's someone Carolina once knew, but doesn't clarify who he is.
    • Episode 12, where it's revealed the Blues and Reds DID have a Grif counterpart named "Biff". And Episode 13 revealed that Carolina unintentionally murdered him.
    • Episode 14, the BGC figures out what the Blues and Reds are really doing, Sarge and Doc turn on the rest of the BGC, and Lopez's head is sent off via a missile to find help.
  • Wham Line:
    • The message Kimball has Dylan deliver has Episode 5 end on a big one:
    Church: This is Church from- [static] -Alpha. If you're getting this, it's an emergency. Send. Help. Please! Send help!
    • And the episode after that, we have Grif's rebuttal to Dylan's attempt at a stirring speech.
    Grif: YOU DON'T KNOW THE FIRST THING ABOUT ME, LADY! I hate Simmons, I hate Sarge, I hate EVERYBODY! Print that in your fucking paper!
    • Episode 10. Oh boy, episode 10.
      Washington: (while in Temple's basement, looking at the Freelancer armor) Ugh. I think you need to check your plumbing... That smell...
      Carolina: (sudden realization) That's... not... sewage... (Carolina and Washington notice Illinois' armor) I don't think... these are just suits of armor...
    • At the tail end of Episode 16, as Tucker chews out Grif for botching their escape attempt:
      Tucker: You busted in here, made an ass of yourself, and got caught! What do you call that?!
      (cut to Locus finding a still alive Wash and Carolina)
    • One of the biggest in the entire series is at the end of Episode 20, crossing over with Wham Shot:
    Church: Caboose? Rookie, what the hell are you doing up here? You're supposed to be guarding the flag!
  • Wham Shot:
    • Played for Laughs in Episode 7. The FOTUS soldier finally "serves" Tucker... a court order for child support for all the children he fathered at the Temple of Procreation on Chorus.
    • Played for Drama in episode 10 when we see Agent Illinois among the Freelancer armor.
    • Episode 13. Biff is impaled with the flag.
    • In the final few seconds of Episode 17, Wash is shot in the neck during a firefight, leaving the episode on a cliffhanger.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Episode 15 reveals that the "Distress message" from Church was actually a ruse cooked up by the Blues and Reds - Temple had Loco edit a call Church put into Command during Blood Gulch to lure out the Reds and Blues.

PSAs and specials

Rooster 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.

  • 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:
  • 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.
    Caboose: WHAT? Grandma, nooo!
    Sarge: Don't even get me started on the "gobble-gobble".
  • 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.
  • 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: Animated

A 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.