The Protomen are a very large indie progressive rock band from Nashville, TN, whose musical catalogue is based around a Rock Opera trilogy inspired by Mega Man Classic. Very loosely based off of the mythology of the classic Mega Man games, the first three in particular, it shows an Orwellian Dystopia that takes the idealistic side of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism and beats it to death with its own corpse.It is a bitter and awful look at Holding Out for a Hero, and a general examination of the psychology behind fascism.The first album, a self-titled release also known as Act I or Hope Rides Alone, was self-published in 2005, and tells the story of how Protoman and Megaman were created to fight against Dr. Wily's regime and the very different paths their lives took. It was followed in September 2009 by Act II: The Father of Death, a prequel which tells the story of how Dr. Light and Wily created artificial intelligence, and how it all went so very wrong. Act III takes place sometime after Act I and is to be released an an unspecified date. A livepreview of an Act III track was heard at PAX 2012.The group is also recording an album of '70s-'80s New Wave covers, likely to be released before Act III, and in 2012 released their first live disc, a Queentribute. Act I has also received a remastered rerelease on vinyl, and there are plans for an Act II vinyl release. Makeup and Vanity Set's 8-bit remix of Act I is getting a release on vinyl. The Protomen also held an April 2012 music video shoot for Act II track "Light Up the Night".The Protomen have appeared in a Zombie Apocalypse webcomic, Dead Of Summer. Several members have other bands, including Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels (Turbo Lover, occasionally Panther, the Gambler, and Sir Bakker in live shows), Adam and the Couch Potatoes (Turbo Lover, with the Gambler appearing in a music video), and The Ascent Of Everest (Sir Bakker). Makeup And Vanity Set is affiliated with them, having done an 8-bit chiptunes mix of Act I, with plans to make one of Act II. They are also affiliated with Brentalfloss, The Megas, and Tenacious D.Additionally, the Protomen composed the score for Terminator the Second, a theatrical piece of found art that reconstructs the plot of Terminator 2 using dialogue from the works of William Shakespeare. They appeared in it as the SWAT Team that takes down Dyson.An official documentary is in production, as is an official music video for Light Up the Night.The main page of their website can be found here.Tropes relating to specific songs should be placed here.
The fandom does this as well, calling themselves "The Resistance". Individual clubs or groups of fans might take squad names. Of particular note are the Chamethrawer Squadron, the LIGHT Brigade, and "Protofans."
Also the Brotomen. Though that is more of a loose association.
It actually manages to subvert the trope as well as playing it straight: It's not a part of the canon, but reading the lyrics give the impression that it's written from the view of a pre-Act II Light. Beard's Going Nowhere could also be the happy ending, where Light and Emily escaped the ruined City.
The band often performs covers of various '80s songs during their encores, including "Silent Running" by Mike and the Mechanics, "Danger Zone" by Kenny Loggins, and a face-meltingly awesome rendition of "Total Eclipse of the Heart" with the Gambler on lead vocals.
On December 10th, 2010, they performed a Queen covers concert to show support for Evil Bebos, a band they're friends with. The covers are also on CD.
At MAGFest 2013, the band reconvened in Jamspace, after their main stage show was cut short, to play Due Vendetta on a meowing plastic cat keyboard christened "Freddie Meowcury". It was actually awesome.
Arc Words: Several phrases appear in songs other than their own as a sort of foreshadowing; "Hope rides alone", "We are the dead", and "Even now there is hope for man".
"Don't turn your back on the City" are the arc words for Act II; to the point that when Wily's finally in unquestioned control, Emily's letter to Dr. Light causes the suicidal doctor to tell Joe that "When you see Emily, tell her to wait for me, 'cause I still have work to do."
"Light" and "fire" are predominant arc words of Act II, appearing in nearly every song with lyrics. Also, referring to the city as a machine itself.
Art Shift: The Act I booklet's art, the music video's art, and Act II booklet's art are very different.
Ascended Extra: In the games, Sniper Joe was an annoying enemy Mega Man encounters by the dozen. In the albums, the prototype robot is a significant player in the story, and the name is given to an original character who becomes one of Act II's protagonists.
Ascended Fanboy: The Ringer and Steve are two fans who were called up by KILROY to play keyboard for the Stand and to sing as Mega Man in Vengeance, respectively. Another fan also took the stage at a North Carolina show.
Ascended Meme: Panther agreed to do an all Wood Man Due Vendetta at the 8/23 2012 West Hollywood show. He ended up doing a mostly Wood Man show and saved the all Wood Man show for another time.
The Bad Guy Wins: This has happened with both Acts so far, with the heroes either dead or demoralized and Wily retaining his power.
Book Ends: Act II's action begins and ends with Dr. Light's thoughts on the kind of man his father would have wanted him to be.
Act I begins and ends with a failed assault on Wily's fortress and Protoman dying.
Bystander Syndrome: Act I is a deconstruction of Holding Out for a Hero, with this as an accompanying theme. Protoman is built to liberate an oppressed city from Dr. Wily and his robot army, but after a protracted battle through the streets, he's killed by Wily's robots while a crowd of citizens look on, none of them willing to risk themselves to save "their hero."
Call Forward: "We will BUILD heroes!" Said by Wily, in what seems like irony until you realize that he's right - even Light chooses to "create a man to save the world" rather than risking his own hide. This idea that people will always search for others to build up as heroes rather than rising to the challenge themselves is the backbone of the first album's plot.
"Unrest in the House of Light" is a musical Call Forward. It's the only Act I song from Dr. Light's perspective and has a very different style from the rest of the album. It's closer to the style of music heard in the first half of Act II, which focuses almost entirely on Light.
City With No Name: The setting is only ever called "the city", and the world outside it is never referred to.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The band's email "press releases" are rambling affairs which take several paragraphs before actually mentioning anything having to do with the band. Their announcement of the release date for Act II, for instance, opened with a paean to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel (including a picture of a shark with Tom Selleck's face), and included a 48-second "preview" of the album which was every track played AT ONCE, to the point of being unintelligible.
An explanation for delays in shipping had Panther stating that the AWESOME POWER of Act II had caused the CD maker to overload and explode, followed by the sheepish admission that the label glue press had broken down. If they aren't Cloud Cuckoo Landers, then they enjoy their drama a little too much.
A 2010 mailing list email said that their bus, Jesse Christine, was destroyed by a vengeance-crazed rodent. The picture they provided was of Splinter with his head replaced with Mickey Mouse's.
At one concert, the band proclaimed that at a fierce battle in Panther's home city, the enraged public chased them away with fireballs and stole Panther's growl, leading Turbo Lover to have to sing all of Panther's lines.
On their Twitter account, the band responded to a question about Doug Fetterman by saying a shark ate him for a week, and that's how Shark Week began.
The group's 2010 west coast tour is officially called "Super Awesome Tour Part III: Fievel Goes West". During one show on this tour, in which the bands' instruments overloaded the venue's electrical hookup and caused a brief blackout, Panther claimed that such a thing had only happened once before - and it resulted in the fans burning the venue to the ground.
The Cover Changes The Gender: The Protomen cover "Because the Night" as a duet, with Panther singing Bruce Springsteen's original lyrics on the verse, and Gambler singing Patti Smith's rewritten lyrics on the chorus.
Their cover of Queen's "Scandal" is sung by The Gambler.
Crapsack World: Played straight in Acts I and III. Act II shows how it got to be that way.
Cross Over: In May 2011, the Protomen were set to appear on a double bill in Nashville with none other than Tiffany of '80s pop star fame. However, due to a family tragedy the band couldn't make it.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Delivered to Protoman in the latter half of "Hope Rides Alone". Megaman gives one back to the robot army in "Vengeance".
Cyberpunk: This is the cyberpunk band. It's heavily Steampunk in Act II, fitting with the latter's prequel setting, although a cyberpunk (or at least late-1980s) influence remains in the music.
Dark Reprise: Not exactly, but lyrics from The Will Of One are repeated in a much darker context in The Sons Of Fate; at first they are Mega Man talking about fighting against Wily the same way his brother Protoman did, but the second time they indicate Mega Man's disgust with humanity after killing Protoman, taking up his brother's nihilistic point of view himself.
As I live, there is no evil that will stand. And I will finish what was started: the fight of Protoman.
The guitar part at the end of "The Stand" is the same as the riff at the beginning of Hope Rides Alone, but in a different key and with an accompaniment that makes it sound very ominous instead of heroically badass.
Darkest Hour: November of 2007 was a dark time for the Protomen. First they were attacked by Killer Robots, forced to barricade inside their bus to survive. Then they were attacked by the Libyan Death Squad; only the fury of the warriors of Greenville saved them. Finally, after crashing their plane in a Shout Out to Top Gun, the band lost their beards. Also, Doug Fetterman fell around this time.
About a year later, Demon Barber and the Thundercon fell, with the base burning down.
Their 2010 tour headed this way, with the bus breaking down, and them forced to tour in a UHaul, followed by them having to cancel a show for the first time ever. However, there was hope: They returned in August.
In-universe, the end of Act II.
Death by Origin Story: According to "The Good Doctor," the reason Dr. Light got into robotics in the first place was because his father worked himself to death in a mine.
Determinator: Dr. Light refuses to give up in Act II, and spends 12 years building Protoman in Act I.
The band itself qualifies, given that they have only canceled a show twice, and even then after mounting every conceivable effort, including an email plea to their fans for replacement auto parts, to make it. Recent canceled shows weren't their fault, but the fact that no venues in the cities would book them. Even then, they quickly made arrangements for shows elsewhere.
Do Not Call Me Paul: According to one interview, even Commander B. Hawkins's mother calls him "Commander" these days.
At the Act II release show, his parents were only referred to as "Commander's Mom" and "Commander's Dad", with those names on the backs of their shirts.
Dying Like Animals: Ostriches and Lambs in The Protomen, Sheep and Lemmings in The Father of Death.
Foregone Conclusion: Act II. Since it's a prequel, the audience knows that Light and Joe will fail and the City will turn into the dystopia of Act I, and that the work Light sets out to do at the end, Protoman, will also fail.
Foreshadowing: The introduction to "Hope Rides Alone" ends by describing Protoman as "ready, willing, prepared to fight." In "Vengeance," Mega Man uses the same phrase to describe both himself and the unseen commander of the robot forces, revealed at the end of the song to be Protoman.
Gatling Good: Mega Man and Proto Man have gatling guns for arms in Act I's artwork, instead of plasma cannons like in the games. In concert, Protoman has a Gatling gun arm, while Mega Man's gun is replaced by the NES Zapper Panther wears on his hip.
Happiness in Slavery: By about halfway through Act II, mankind is more than content to be ruled by Dr. Wily because of the convenience he's brought into their lives. By the time of Act I this is codified in the state's slogan, "We have control, we keep you safe, we are your hope."
Hilarity Ensues: In this video, the crowd gets a little... too into the Sons of Fate. Two words: Nerf gun.
Hobbes Was Right: Wily's position on humanity, as illustrated in "The Good Doctor".
Holiday Mode: Sometimes the band does special things for holidays, particularly Halloween and Christmas.
Hot Blooded: One every Act so far. Also, the band members themselves.
"I Want" Song: The Will of One from Act I; Breaking Out from Act II. Both double as I Am Becoming Songs, as Mega and Joe want things to change and work towards achieving their goals.
In Name Only: By the Protomen's own admission, the opera has little connection to the admittedly thin plot of the early Mega Man games that inspired it.
Ironic Echo: In "The Good Doctor", Dr. Wily remarks, "If you replace the working parts, you get a different machine" and "The man who turns the wheel, they will follow anywhere he leads". Later, in "Light Up The Night," Dr. Light (who is now working to bring down Wily's regime) recalls Wily's statement and ponders, "Now the wheels are spinning out of control, what would they do if we held them still?" then remarks that "If you destroy the working parts, what you get is a broken machine."
Again in "The Good Doctor", this time paired with "The Hounds":
Dr. Light: I never said that men should bow. I never said that men should break.
Dr. Wily: 'Cause you and I, Tom, we are men. And we can bend and we can break.
It's All My Fault: Cause I made the man who put his hands on you! Yeah, Dr. Light suffers from a bad case of being The Atoner throughout most of Act II.
He also blames himself for sending Joe and Protoman to their deaths.
Killer Robot: The Sniper in Act II, the Robot Army and Robot Masters in Act I.
Last Of Her Kind: The band's primary tour vehicle is Jesse Christine, The Last of the V8 Interceptors.
Sadly, Jesse Christine has more or less passed away. She was engulfed by a Graboid from Tremors, losing her back end and the brakes. According to the news posts, the group salvaged the remnants of the vehicle to craft its successor, The Skyhammer, The Last of the Super V8 Interceptors.
Leitmotif: The theme in "Funeral for a Son", symbolizing Protoman's death, is repeated throughout the first album: it is whistled at the beginning and end of "Unrest," the synthesizer subtly plays it underneath the guitar solo in "Will of One" (while Mega Man looks at Protoman's grave, symbolizing his motivation to avenge his brother's death), and the choir sings it at the end of "Sons of Fate" (alternating between the Leitmotif and "We are The Dead") after Mega Man kills Protoman.
That same motif is also repeated in Act II, when Light and Wily activate their machines ("The Good Doctor").
Also, the chord progression at the beginning of "Hope Rides Alone" is repeated in the middle of "The Stand" as Protoman prepares to fight with Mega Man.
The Stand also features a slightly modified version of the snare drum pattern from "Funeral for a Son."
The guitar theme established in "Intermission" is repeated in "Give Us The Rope."
The orchestra's theme in "How the World Fell Under Darkness" is given words in "Here Comes The Arm."
"This City!" from "Here Comes The Arm" is the same tune as "Destroy him!" from "The Sons of Fate."
The guitar riff behind it is very reminiscent of the end of Joe's song "Keep Quiet."
The piano theme as Emily narrates the letter in "Here Comes the Arm" was first heard on guitar at the very beginning of "Hope Rides Alone." Same tune, different instrument.
Loads And Loads of Band Members: The group consists of ten people when performing live, and still there are more former members than there are current members. The Protomen go through so many band members even the fans get confused. Only four of the band's current members (Panther, Commander, KILROY, and Murphy Weller) were involved with the recording of Act I, and since the recording of Act II the group has gone through three guitarists and three drummers. And then there's "semi-members" like Master Blaster, who performs at the band's Nashville shows but seldom goes on tour.
The was lampshaded at their 2011 Halloween show, where every band member was dressed like a former band member. And it still wasn't all of them.
Meaningful Name: Dr. Light, by way of Dr. Wily and his influence being referred to as "darkness" or "the shadow."
Milestone Celebration: The band's 10th Anniversary Show, featuring "Beard's Going Nowhere," "Separate Ways," a pinata shaped like Doug Fetterman, and the return of Heath Who Hath No Name.
Mondegreen: During "The Sons of Fate," many listeners mistakenly hear Dr. Light (or a random member of the mob, depending on who you ask) crying out "Stop!" when the crowd is urging Megaman to kill his brother. It's actually part of the crowd saying "You're our only hope."
Commander, upon being asked about this by a fan, stated that whether it was 'stop' or 'hope' is up to fan interpretation. However, he in fact did imply that 'stop' is a mishearing of the intended lyric.
My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Light deeply regrets when he does wrong, or when his creations have something bad happen to them.
Mythology Gag: Regardless of whether Bass appears in the rock opera, Turbo Lover—Dr. Wily—plays bass guitar and drum.
Protoman being based off the Sniper's designs is opposite to the games, where Sniper Joes were mass-produced copies of Protoman.
New Era Speech: While we don't hear the contents, in Act II Dr. Wily gives such speeches in "The Hounds" as he takes control of the City and in "Give Us The Rope" as he tells the populace that their justice system has failed them.
Nightmare Fuel: The Sniper is an in-universe example; one robot placated an entire city.
Real Soon Now: The band has put out two story albums, two vinyl records, and one cover album in eight years. According to Turbo Lover, Act III should be out "sometime before you die".
Retraux: More pronounced on Act 1, but several songs have 8-bit chiptunes in them.
The latter half of Act 2 is heavy on 80s-style synths.
Ridiculously Human Robots: Megaman is capable of crying, and the liner notes tell of his heart hurting under the weight of what he'd been told.
The band member KILROY is so human-like you'd swear he was wearing a mask.
Rock Opera: Both of which end in quite frankly the most depressing way possible. In the end of Act I, Humanity is still enslaved, two heroes have been broken and one suffered two 'deaths': Figurative and literal. In the end of Act II, the world is just becoming enslaved, one hero has died pointlessly, and the other sets out on a task which the audience already knows is doomed to fail.
Despite this, Act II ends on a high note compared to Act I. The final act of the album details Joe's rebellion and attack on Wily's control tower. And following his death, Thomas Light reads the dead Emily's letter and realizes "This city needs [him] now," he then begins building Protoman.
Also, Act II ends on a high note if you consider that Protoman's belief that all men are cowards who would rather die to fight back was proven wrong, not so long ago. There was still at least one man that had the courage to fight back.
The Other Darrin: K.I.L.R.O.Y. speaks most of Protoman's lines in live performances of Sons Of Fate. This is to avoid the usual case of Panther talking to himself live, as shown above, particularly since most of the Mega Man and Protoman lines in the first part of the song overlap each other and couldn't be performed by one singer.
Title Drop: Subverted in a couple of songs ("The Hounds," "The Will of One") which drop the title one of the previous songs on the album. The referenced songs themselves avert this trope.
Tragic Hero: Most of the heroes fall under this, particularly Dr. Light. His passion and desire for helping people (and later saving the city) not only makes things worse, but empowers Wily. His creations seem to share this flaw, though their reactions to everything differ wildly.
When It All Began: Act II details how Dr. Wily took over, setting up the events of Act I.
Xanatos Gambit: Dr. Wily's murdering of Emily to get Light exiled. It's implied Wily rigged Light being let off the hook. He painted Light to be a horrible murderer, and when the justice system "failed" to put him away, Wily seized the opportunity to usurp the justice system and place himself above it.