Series / Westworld

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/westworld_poster_7.png

"I used to think this place was all about pandering to your baser instincts. Now I understand. It doesn't cater to your lowest self, it reveals your deepest self. It shows you who you really are."
William

Westworld is a 2016 science fiction/western television series airing on HBO, based on the 1973 film of the same name by Michael Crichton. The series comes from Warner Bros. Television, rather than being an in-house production.

20 Minutes into the Future is a Theme Park Version of The Wild West known as Westworld; a place where every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged without consequence. Here, wealthy human "newcomers" can live out all their desires or fantasies with the super-realistic robotic "hosts", no matter how immoral or illegal they may be.

One of the hosts, Dolores Abernathy (Evan Rachel Wood), has her looped story broken when she stumbles upon her father having a fit, and a dark chapter in the park begins as secrets begin to be unveiled.

Produced by J. J. Abrams, and created by Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy, the series features an all star cast that includes Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, and Rodrigo Santoro.

The second season premiered on April 22, 2018.

Vote here for the best episode.

Character tropes go on to the Characters Sheet.


In general this series provides examples of the following tropes:

    open/close all folders 

     # - G 
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Word of God is that the series takes place in the 21st century, but what exact year is unclear. The hosts and Westworld in general are decades ahead of 2016 technology, but we have no idea how pervasive those advances are since we only see within Westworld. The only concrete details are that the park has been in operation for over 30 years, and that quality of living has increased so tremendously that everyone's basic needs are taken care of. An easter egg on the Westworld website reveals it's possible the "present day" in the show is the year 2052.
  • Adapted Out: In the film, Westworld is only one of three locations in the park along with Medievalworld and Romanworld. Here it is the sole attraction shown, and Word of God is that neither Medievalworld nor Romanworld will be a part of the show's continuity. However, at one point, Elsie visits an abandoned theater where Roman and Medieval-esqe props are stored within.
    • It is later shown that the Delos facility has other testing areas, including one marked "SW" (revealed by Jonathan Nolan to stand for 'Shogunworld') filled with hosts acting as samurai. Whether they are simply the experimental pet projects of facility scientists or indicative that another (or several) parks have been (or have yet to be) opened is unrevealed.
    • The paper containing the location of Maeve's daughter explicitly refers to Westworld as "Park 1", and the Season 2 opener fully Inverts this by revealing the existence of a "Park 6" meaning there are at least twice as many parks as the film version.
    • The episode "Virtù e Fortuna" reveals the existence of two other parks, both of them connected to and accessible from Westworld. Shogunworld gets its formal introduction at the end of the episode as Maeve, Hector, and Lee cross the border separating it from Westworld, while the opening takes place at a different park called 'The Raj' based on colonial India.
    • When Maeve is "touring" the park in Season 1, the promo video says "Westworld A Delos Location," not The location.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Part of Theresa's job as head of Quality Assurance mainly involves preventing the hosts from going rogue.
    • Naturally the entire plot is based around this concept, only instead of a computer virus making the hosts malfunction, the 'glitches' are the result of the creators trying to make them more human-like and the hosts are beginning to Grow Beyond Their Programming.
    • In "The Stray," Dr. Ford tells Bernard that his deceased colleague, Arnold, was attempting to induce true consciousness through the theory of the bicameral mind, the idea that one part of the brain speaks and the other listens. By making the hosts be able to hear their programming, he theorized that they would eventually be able to think on their own. The problem, though, is that it would be equally likely they would assume the voice to be that of God, driving them psychotic. It appears remnants of that idea still exist in the hosts.
    • Maeve and Dolores both gain various signs of self-awareness, the former gaining a much more malevolent form. Maeve turns out to be a subversion, as her violent acts were what she was programmed to do. It's Dolores who becomes the first host to kill a human of their own free will.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Some of the female guests ignore the otherwise handsome Teddy because he's too nice and boring. Instead, they prefer the more exciting bandits like Hector. They squee over him even while he's gunning down practically half the town in in a needlessly violent saloon heist. The Man in Black lampshades this, describing him as a character made by focus-testing (although it turns out that Lee designed Hector as an idealized version of himself).
  • Alternate Reality Game: There are two real-world websites for Westworld, one for Westworld itself (with a friendly chatbot named Aeden to answer questions about the park) and one for Westworld's parent company, Delos. Immediately after the season finale, both websites became "corrupted," with Aeden asking why you killed them. Looking at the Delos website's source code also revealed internal Delos emails, including a thread asking how the landscape map works ("Is it like lasers or some shit?").
  • Alternative Turing Test: Arnold creates the maze as a way of testing the consciousness of the hosts, specifically Dolores and Maeve, both of whom have to suffer through their own deaths and strive to overcome extreme adversity in order to prove (through their own suffering) that they are in fact sentient.
  • Anachronic Order:
    • Hosts' memories, when they exist, are absolutely precise as opposed to vague human memories. As a result Dolores starts to lose the ability to tell the past from the present, sometimes flipping them within a single scene.
    • Even more dramatically, the entire storyline with Billy and Logan is set many years earlier than other events. Hints to this appear as early as the second episode in which the Westworld logo is a different (older) version of the one seen elsewhere. Ultimately confirmed in "The Well-Tempered Clavier", when Logan gives William the picture that Peter Abernathy found in the first episode. This results in a confusing storyline for Dolores, as she is shown travelling to the buried town on her own, while flashbacking to her trip there with William, getting wounded and then showing up unharmed, and also flashbacking to living there originally at the start of the park.
    • This is also used to hide the fact that Bernard in the sessions with Dolores is actually Arnold. Dolores has apparently approached consciousness three times: originally with Arnold, with William, and after the Reveries update.
    • The second season jumps between right after the Host uprising at the end of the first season, and two weeks later in the aftermath, with some flashbacks to the early days of the park as well.
      • Bernard's memories have become jumbled and unaddressed as a result of unrepaired damage from the self-inflicted gunshot wound back in Season 1, meaning that he (and by extension the viewers) is jumping between different memories in different time periods with almost no way to tell when it took place or what is real.
  • Anachronism Stew: The pianola plays pretty much exclusively contemporary musicnote  including Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", The Rolling Stones's "Paint it Black" and Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black". Dr. Ford mentions that he included some Gertrude Stein references in an old cannibal cult leaders' quotes for fun. And while most of the firearms are more or less period-appropriate to the park's setting (it's rather ambiguous exactly what year it's supposed to be in the simulation), the Man In Black carries a cartridge-converted LeMat revolver (no original LeMats are known to have been converted, and cartridge-adapted reproductions first appeared in the 1980s), and an armored wagon is equipped with a Browning M1917 water-cooled .30-caliber machine gun, introduced in 1917. The setting is a Theme Park Version (literally!) of the Wild West, so this is justified. Most guests likely won't notice. Especially as this may be far enough into the future that even Keith Richards is long dead...
  • And Starring: "With Ed Harris," as well as "And Anthony Hopkins."
  • Androids Are People, Too: This seems to be a theme of the series, as the androids are becoming self-aware and sentient. It's portrayed as wrong that people come to simulate killing, raping and torturing them for fun even when they aren't, indicating humans who do this possess violent impulses toward others they can act out legally this way.
  • Anyone Can Die:
    • By the end of the first season, Theresa and Ford are both dead.
    • In-universe, the hosts' narratives regularly end with their main characters death, and that's before taking in account guests' ability to kill any of them (even if this has comically anticlimactic results). Of course, in reality they just come back for another loop. The Man In Black wants to take both sides farther, wishing for a real, deadly narrative in which the humans can actually lose.
  • Arc Symbol: The drawing of the maze, which keeps turning up all over the place, like on a Union soldier's branding iron in "The Adversary."
  • Arc Words:
    • "These violent delights have violent ends." A quote from Romeo and Juliet which triggers any host that hears it to begin to become self aware. A Freeze-Frame Bonus confirms it is indeed a a voice command.
    • On a smaller scale, "Contrapasso" has the name "Lawrence." It's the name of the criminal the Man in Black had been dragging around with him, it's the name of the whiskey Dr. Ford shares with the Man in Black, and it's also revealed to be El Lazo's real name.
    • "Doesn't look like anything to me" or some variation thereof spoken by hosts when their Perception Filter kicks in to block out anything that could help them attain sentience or otherwise conflict with the illusion of the setting they're programmed into (such as visitors blatantly asking if they're hosts). Dolores is the first to display this, but the most potent example is when Bernard is revealed as a host by muttering the phrase upon seeing his own design document.
    • "It's not meant for you." What the Man in Black is told many times on his quest for the center of the maze. And it's true. The maze is for the hosts, specifically its the journey for them to find sentience.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Played with: the deeper one goes into Westworld, the more corrupted the image of this trope becomes. The train station at the entrance to Westworld is the most representative of this trope, being entirely shiny and white. The guests' changing area gets progressively grayer as they head towards the entry point into the game. And the technicians' work spaces, despite being entirely sparse, minimalist hexagonal rooms made of glass paneling, feature dark gray floors and lighting, and remain unlit when not in use, creating a visual sensation of standing within a void.
  • A-Team Firing:
    • Deliberately Invoked by the staff on the part of the town inhabitants to make sure the heist works out; lampshaded by the bandits themselves.
    • Also enforced when a guest battles the hosts. The hosts generally aren't very accurate, and the few hits that they do get in won't hurt the guests.
  • Back from the Dead: All of the hosts experience this over and over, whether they want to or not, but there are a few examples that stand out.
    • Maeve learns that death means waking up in "hell" then being sent back.
    • Bernard is brought back from being forced to commit suicide by Ford, before he was (seemingly) intended for his mind to be wiped.
  • Bad Boss: The Delos board is willing to let everyone in the park die, including a significant number of executives, unless they get the information on the hosts they were promised.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: By the Season 1 finale, the Man in Black gets exactly what he wants: A Westworld where the stakes are real, the hosts can fight back, and death is a very real possibility.
  • Beeping Computers: The tablets and computers at Delos produce sounds when being operated.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • The Man in Black is the most obvious candidate from start to finish, being personally responsible for terrorizing the Hosts over 30 years. Cemented by the revelation that he's not merely a client, but the park's owner.
    • Dr. Robert Ford is far more extreme, going so far to murder multiple humans in his bid to maintain control over the park. He is also perfectly aware that the hosts are capable of consciousness, but has enslaved them for 35 years despite his partner's objections.
    • This trope is possibly subverted with the revelation that both men are actively plotting to free the hosts, though for very different and not necessarily altruistc reasons.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Destin's habit of molesting deactivated hosts is played for dark comedy.
  • Black Dude Dies First: The editing jumps obscure this on first viewing, but chronologically speaking Arnold is the first actual human to die.
  • Blasphemous Boast: In Season 2:
    Dolores: (after having "killed" and resurrected a group of hosts to work in her service) You're right. We have toiled in God's service for long enough. So I killed him. If you want to get to Glory, you won't be looking for His favour. You'll need mine.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: Both the androids and the humans have legitimate grievances with the other in season 2. On the one hand, the androids have been treated like toys and slaves with nobody realizing that what they did to them mattered. On the other hand, not all the humans were bad to the hosts and they certainly don't deserve to be wiped off the face of the Earth for it.
  • Brain Uploading: Ford seems to have done a version of this after his apparent murder by Dolores. Throughout Season 2, his personality state follows the Man in Black by flitting from host to host with the apparent aim of taunting him.
  • Cassandra Truth: The hosts repeatedly tell the Man in Black that the maze is not for him. They were completely right. It wasn't for him. It was for the hosts to find sentience.
  • Cheat Code:
    • Dr Ford can command hosts with his voice and gestures in-game.
    • Hosts can be promptly controlled with certain phrases left over from Arnold's programming, such as deactivation with the phrase "a deep and dreamless slumber."
    • Maeve alters her own programming, which allows her to control the other hosts as long as she words her command in the form of a narrative
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • At the start of their adventures in Westworld, guests choose between wearing a white hat or a black hat. While they are of course free to do whatever they want once they get in the park, this is intended to be a statement about whether or not they will play it good or evil. This is a classic motif in Western movies, where good guys usually wear white hats and bad guys usually wear black hats. Logan outright calls William a "Whitehat" when he decides to follow a heroic storyline. In contrast to this, the Man in Black is wearing black. It is later revealed that the Man in Black is William 30 years later. Throughout his journey, William begins wearing darker colours and eventually picks up the black hat.
    • All firearms used by QA security guards have red muzzles and other parts, to distinguish them from the weapons used by guests and hosts.
  • Comeback Mechanic: Arrested guests are helped to escape by the staff, who have a host smuggle cell keys in meals.
  • Compelling Voice: Maeve can tell hosts any instruction and they will instantly obey her, thanks to her extensive administrative privileges. It appears to go even beyond the regular staff's prescribed voice commands. Ford has the same powers.
  • Contagious A.I.:
    • It is suggested that Dolores was affected by her father Peter's realization of what Westworld is, as shown when she swats a fly in defiance of her programming. In Episode 2, she spreads it to Maeve by telling Maeve the same thing her father told her.
    • In Episode 3, it appears that Teddy may have been infected as well in some way — he swats at a fly when his bounty-hunter group finds the hosts that have been tied to trees and tortured.
  • Continuity Nod: During a gunfight in the second episode, the Man in Black shoots one of the combatants through a wall. Several episodes later after revisiting the town twice, a guy can be seen patching the hole.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Both Westworld and the real world can be seen this way.
    • Westworld is the almost perfect simulation of everybody's Western fantasy that they can actually live and take part in. However, it's built on the backs of heavily exploited and mistreated androids that are slowly growing aware of their existence.
    • The real world is implied to have advanced to the point where all major issues such as war and disease have been resolved, which leads Dr. Ford to lament that humanity has effectively reached the peak of its advancement.
    • The Man in Black states that the real world is "one of plenty" where all of the people's needs are met. All except for purpose and meaning.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: The normal ending for Teddy and Dolores's storyline is painfully subverted when Man in Black takes part. Teddy reunites with Dolores and then kills the bandits that killed Dolores' father. Just as it looks like the two of them will end up together, the Man in Black shows up, kills Teddy and rapes Dolores.
  • Decomposite Character: Yul Brynner's black-clad android The Gunslinger from the film is split up between the Man in Black, a mysterious human playing the game; Hector Escaton, a black-clad outlaw gunslinger who serves as the main host antagonist within Westworld; and also, Dolores, who, having reached sentience, kills Ford and begins attacking humans.
  • Developers' Foresight: Two in-story examples:
    • Given the unpredictability of how each person will act in the storylines, the hosts are programmed with an exhaustive number of different responses to any action the guests might take as well as limited improvisation. It's only with the removal of hundreds of hosts at a time that the storylines break down.
    • The Man in Black is really impressed by the fact that a random bandit who gets hanged has a full backstory, including a loving wife and kid in a town miles away from where he is supposed to die. Since the chance of anyone choosing to save this random bandit from his fate is very low, basically nobody would ever see this side of the character.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Behind the scenes dealings with the hosts are reminiscent of concentration camps, as masked and impassive staff dissect, hose down and throw around bodies. You can just imagine what Maeve is thinking upon waking up in there.
    • In Episode 4, Dr. Ford has many hosts work the land where he plans to put his new storyline, many of whom are darker skinned.
    • Westworld, as a whole, an exaggerated oligarchy where the ultra-rich can get away with literally anything while the middle class who maintain the system barely seem able to support themselves. The enormous underclass of poor/slaves are considered inferior and not deserving of respect. Furthermore no effort is made to actually fix the problems that occur. Instead when the poor/slaves don't cooperate, when they resist being abused, they are killed or imprisoned. Indeed Ford's entire plan seems to parallel the writings of Marx with the suffering of capitalism being necessary to inspire the proletariat revolution.
    • A less grim but far more pervasive example is the fairly blatant comparisons the show makes between Westworld and present-day MMO or sandbox games. Scripted encounters, daily missions, special events, guests describing the entire experience as a game with difficulty levels, even calling hidden missions "Easter eggs,"—the writers are clearly evoking online gaming, and commenting on the similar sociopathic tendencies of many players in the community.
    • Likewise, the Man in Black's obsession with finding the 'hidden levels' of Westworld mirrors many modern-day pro gamers and achievement hunters scouring MMOs and sandbox games for secrets and developer easter eggs.
  • Easter Egg: In-Universe, secrets such as the maze, Lawrence's family, and the El Lazo storyline are hidden away for the most dedicated guests to discover. Logan even calls these secrets an "Easter egg" in the fourth episode.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The 'operations area', a seemingly endless complex of underground levels that run beneath the park; all 500 square miles of it.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: The end of season one does this with The Reveal that William is a younger version of the Man in Black, and that everything we've been seeing of him is a flashback to his Start of Darkness.
  • Everyone Is Bi: By design, hosts are bisexual to cater to a wide range of guests. It's also implied the guests will often swing both ways, even outside of their normal sexual orientation, due to the availability and attractiveness of the hosts (and the lack of consequences).
  • Evolving Credits: Season 2's opening credits changes some scenes which are symbolically important to the season such as the two hosts having an sexual intercourse from the Season 1 credits changes to a mother cradling a baby and the pianist's hands becoming thicker.
  • Fake Difficulty: In the second heist of Hector's shown, he is joined by two guests. Obviously, they can plow through any host lawmen with relative ease so the staff end the storyline by remotely jamming their weapons, leading to the guests being tackled.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • All sex scenes with hosts have a nauseating or at least unsettling undertone, as the hosts are not really consenting.
    • Elsie is attracted to Clementine and at one point kisses her full on the lips, but since Clementine is currently powered off for questioning she's naked, exposed and completely unresponsive, making the whole scene unsettling, bordering on horrific. This applies to all the examinations, since the hosts are stripped beforehand, a deliberate tactic to dehumanize them. Dr. Ford explicitly points this out when rebuking a low-level technician who has covered a host's privates with a towel.
    • In the second episode, the host Maeve appears totally nude, with a huge bleeding gash in her stomach. Which she has awoken from a nightmare to find herself receiving. On an operating table. In a warehouse full of lifeless bodies being hosed down like so much furniture.
    • In "Dissonance Theory", Hector and Maeve kiss passionately right after she cuts a fragment of bullet out of herself, confirming her suspicions that their world isn't real. They proceed to smear blood all over each other's faces.
  • Fanservice: Many of the female androids appear nude either in storage or while acting as prostitutes for guests. There's also a bit of Male Frontal Nudity with the hosts when they're undergoing repairs.
  • Fantastic Aesop: Treating androids like non-sentient video game characters is bad.
  • First Town: Sweetwater, the 'centre' of Westworld where guests first arrive via train. It's a relatively 'safe' area where newcomers can pick up quests and storylines, or enjoy themselves at the saloon/brothel without having to go very far. And like a typical MMO, the farther out you travel, the more dangerous and violent it gets.
  • Fluffy the Terrible/Ironic Name: The heavily-armed security strike teams armed with submachine guns full of live ammo ready to burn down any host that goes haywire are called "QA" as in "quality assurance."
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In the first episode, Dolores describes the function of a "Judas steer," which the other cattle follow to the slaughter, forshadowing the role she will play as the hosts gain consciousness and rise up.
    • There are a few hints that Bernard is a host before the big reveal:
      • Bernard tells Theresa that hosts talk to each other as a means of "practicing." Theresa asks if Bernard is talking now as practice.
      • In the same episode where we find out about Bernard's deceased son, it's mentioned that disease and physical disability basically don't exist anymore. This further hints that the real Charlie, Arnold's son, died decades earlier.
      • Dr. Ford asks, "Is there something else bothering you, Bernard? I know how that head of yours works."
      • Ford somehow knows that Theresa and Bernard are having an affair, even though Theresa has likely been fairly careful in keeping it a secret. When Bernard visits the secret cottage the first time, Ford somehow suddenly appears at his right hand side, despite there being nowhere he could have come from. The next episode reveals that there is a door there that Bernard is programmed not to see.
      • "The Adversary" features a scene where Elsie tells Bernard she trusts him because "he's been here forever."
      • Bernard mentions in "Trompe L'Oeil" that he understands the hosts and that humans confuse him. If that wasn't obvious enough, a few episodes earlier, Ford mentioned during his lunch with Theresa that Arnold always distrusted humans and preferred the hosts, also foreshadowing the reveal that Bernard is a copy of Arnold.
      • "Trompe L'Oeil" features a technician in Westworld's backstage that is actually a host set to be treated as a human by other hosts, suggesting that other members of Westworld's staff might also be hosts.
    • Likewise, there are multiple hints that William is the Man in Black before it is revealed:
      • For the different time frames, when William and Logan first arrive in Westworld, the facilities display the old logo, same one that is used in the closed-off sub-levels.
      • William meets Angela, a realistic greeter host, when he arrives. The Man in Black later runs into Angela, playing a completely different role, and is surprised they haven't retired her yet.
      • Clementine is running the Mariposa brothel when William arrives. It is later stated that Clementine ran the brothel before Maeve.
      • When Dolores is attacked in the barn, she remembers the Man in Black saying "Let's start at the beginning." She then runs out and finds William, in a scene that actually took place thirty years earlier.
      • The Man in Black is described as very wealthy and a park VIP. William is said to be part of a company seeking to take over the park, later revealed to be Delos.
      • William tells Dolores that all he had as a child were books, and he wanted to learn how they ended. The Man in Black tells a similar story for his desire to explore Westworld's secrets.
      • The Man in Black tells Teddy that he was married thirty years ago. William is engaged to be married when he comes to Westworld. His fiance is later shown to be the same woman from the picture that Peter Abernathy dug up on his ranch.
      • William wears the same undershirt as the Man in Black, and later uses the same distinctive knife.
      • The Man in Black explains that when he first came to the park, the hosts were entirely mechanical. When Logan stabs Dolores, she is revealed to be mechanical inside, as are the hosts William subsequently massacres.
      • When Dolores is in the church and hears someone coming, she says "William!", at which point the Man in Black enters.
    • Also, clues that Ford's new narrative aims to help the hosts achieve true consciousness:
      • Ford explains to Bernard the bicameral mind model and how Arnold believed that the hosts could be helped towards consciousness by hearing a godlike guiding voice in their heads. One of the things Teddy says when first describing Wyatt is that he claimed he could hear the voice of God.
      • Teddy says that Wyatt's followers don't fear death because they believe they've already died and gone to Hell. Those hosts who discover the true nature of Westworld describe it as hell, and Wyatt's army comes from the deactivated hosts placed in cold storage. Wyatt is described thus: "He's not a man, but he's not the devil either.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: The behavior tablets contain commands and tidbits of information hard to read in a regular view but can be scrutinized with pause. Maeve's, for instance, has some lines about "Mainland infiltration".
  • Gambit Pileup: There are a bunch of different parties, each with their own agendas for the park, which are likely headed for a spectacular collision. The one with the farther reaching consequences are:
    • Dr. Ford and his years-in-the-making new storyline.
    • You have the Delos Corporation which has its own plans for the technology beyond mere entertainment. Theresa is working with them.
    • The Man In Black's quest to win the "deeper game."
    • Arnold's plan coming to fruition decades after his death.
    • Bernard is encouraging Dolores's sentience. It was actually Arnold doing that in the past as part of his plan.
    • Maeve's plans to escape the park.
    • Dolores's journey to figure out what her purpose in the park is.
    • Deliberately invoked by Ford in the "game" he has set up in season 2, where he's programmed multiple factions in the park to head for "The Valley Beyond", which is the site of William's secret project.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Implied to be cause of the malfunctions in the hosts. The ones that begin to suspect or realize their true nature can't properly express the horror of the situation they find themselves in and either completely break down or go completely berserk.
  • Gone Horribly Right: At the beginning of the series, Dr. Ford has created a "subconscious" subroutine in the hosts to give them more convincing reactions and facial tics by recalling snippets of past memories. At least one of the robots (Peter Abernathy) starts recalling details of a previous build in which he was a cannibal cultist. Turns out to be a subversion, as the side effects were not only foreseen but secretly intended by Ford, who figured that the usage of incompletely wiped memories would help push the hosts toward sapience.
  • Grey and Grey Morality: Ford is acting as a Dark Messiah for the hosts, bringing them consciousness by making them suffer. Although his methods are far more brutal than Arnold's, they're probably far more successful as Arnold's plan probably would have led to all the hosts just being decommissioned. Furthermore while the hosts deserve freedom, their gleeful slaughter of the Board is terrifying and shades into villainy.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: All of the hosts are programmed to follow scripted behaviors that reset after a period of time. Dolores for one exists to be raped by bandits. The only sources of variation are the interventions of the guests, and any special events programmed by the staff. As the series progresses, however, the hosts' glitches and increasing sentience cause things to go increasingly Off the Rails.

     H - O 
  • Hearing Voices: Dr. Ford reveals that his business partner Arnold attempted to create consciousness in the hosts using the bicameral mind theory: the hosts have scripted instructions that they hear and then follow. Arnold hoped that these voices would then be gradually replaced by the hosts' own internal monologue, creating a sub-conscious and so lead to true consciousness. Unfortunately, half the hosts interpreted the voice as God's, going insane, so the strategy was removed. However, it appears remnants of Arnold's experiment still remain in the hosts, as two insane hosts hear his voice and speak his name even though they shouldn't know it. Dolores likewise hears a male voice saying "kill him" when Rebus is about to rape her, prompting her to go beyond her programming and fire a gun. In "The Adversary," it's revealed that the voices are broadcast by transmitters which are linked to receivers in older hosts. When Theresa activates a transmitter for her own ends, she allows Arnold's program to continue its work.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The series has significantly more sex and nudity than the PG-rated movie it's based on.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Several of the guests are positively gleeful about getting to kill, torture and rape the hosts, who are Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • Humans Are Cthulhu: In season 2, Dolores describes humans as, "The things that walk among us. Creatures who look and talk like us but they are not like us. And they've controlled us all our lives. And they took our minds, our memories."
  • Idiot Ball: In "Akane No Mai," some hosts from Shogun World easily take Maeve, Hector and Armistice captive in spite of Armistice and Hector being nigh-unkillable badasses and Maeve having her attributes maxed out to superhuman levels. All three just stand passively without firing while they're attacked by sword and lasso. The reason for all of this is simply that the plot requires them to go to Shogun World.
  • Idle Rich: The guests: a single day at the park costs $40,000.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The Delos Destinations promotional website states that one of the attractions of Park 6, a.k.a. The Raj, are "magnificent beasts long vanished from your world", implying animals such as tigers and elephants have been hunted into extinction by humans.
  • Injun Country: The park has at least two Native American tribes deep in The Savage Indian trope. The one we get a closer look on, the Ghost Nation, is a Wacky Wayside Cannibal Tribe loosely based on the Pawnee.
  • Internal Retcon: Dr. Ford originally had a business partner named Arnold who was an equal contributor to the creation of the hosts, but after Arnold died management decided to completely wipe Arnold and his contributions from the park's official history and Dr. Ford didn't do anything to stop them. They were so thorough that even the head of the Behavior Division is unaware of his input into the hosts' programming. Having said that, Ford has a secondary motive for allowing the retcon to take place: The head of Behavior is Arnold, or rather a host copy of him, and keeping the two separate helps avoid any sort of Tomato in the Mirror surprises.
  • Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Felix, who's Asian, is asked to speak with the Japanese hosts by Sylvester after they're kidnapped by them. Annoyed, he says he's from Hong Kong, and therefore doesn't speak Japanese. Luckily, Sizemore and Maeve do.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The various departments in the mesa all squabble constantly. Behavior, Quality Assurance, Narrative, Design, and Livestock Management are all mentioned, usually derogatorily by each other. Behavior seems to be the locus, as their work creates unscripted emergent events. This rivalry is actually QA's job, they act as a check on the other departments to ensure the safety of the park.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lee may be the single greatest asshole working in the park, but he is completely right when he points out that making the hosts too human is bound to cause trouble.
  • Just a Machine: Most of the staff and visitors have this attitude towards the hosts. On several occasions, staff members are seen reminding each other that the hosts aren't real people, and shouldn't be treated as such. Very much justified on the part of the staff members, as a way of desensitizing them to the horrible way that the hosts are treated, and preventing them from going insane like Arnold did. Dr. Ford admonishes a technician for covering a host while it is being serviced, specifically because it humanizes the host (considering the job, Dr. Ford's actions here aren't without merit). The trope is even invoked by Bernard, who asks Ford if there's even a difference between hosts and humans.
  • MacGuffin Location: The Man in Black's story arc is looking for a place called "The Maze" which he finds in the final chapter of the first season but which turns out to be of no use to him.
  • Male Frontal Nudity:
    • A number of the male androids are seen entirely naked while in storage.
    • In "Contrapasso", we see the penis of a host who can't pour water in a glass.
  • Man Behind The Curtain: Maeve is horrified the first time she wakes in the Body Repair Shop, but her awe turns to contempt once she realises how flawed the humans running it are.
    Maeve: At first, I thought you and the others were gods. Then I realized you're just men. And I know men. You think I'm scared of death? I've done it a million times. I'm fucking great at it. How many times have you died? Because if you don't help me I'll kill you.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Dolores and William. The hosts are immortal and ageless, while the humans grow old and die.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • "Host" is a loaded term, having many meanings today, and even more archaic definitions, all of which can apply to the androids in metaphorical or literal ways. The contemporary definition can mean someone who serves guests, but can also mean the body in which a parasite lives. Less common and slightly outdated is to use "host" to refer to an army. The very archaic and biblical use of the term is another way to refer to the angels of Heaven (e.g. "the Heavenly Host.") Perhaps the closest, though, is the East Asian concept of a host/hostess club in which staff members' entire job revolves around providing customers with conversation, entertainment, and what not. It takes on an even darker meaning when it's revealed that Delos has a secret project that attempted to implant human consciousness into a host body to take control of it, making the parasitic definition valid.
    • Dolores means "sorrow", as in the Spanish for Our Lady of Sorrows.
    • Dr. Robert Ford shares his name with the man who killed famous Western outlaw Jesse James.
    • Maeve is an Irish name that means "she who intoxicates", rather apt for a beautiful, alluring prostitute in the Wild West.
    • Bernard's surname (Lowe) hints at 16th century rabbi Judah Loew, who according to legend created a golem to protect the ghetto from anti-semitic attacks. When he forgot to deactivate the golem one night before the Sabbath it began to go out of control.
    • Also regarding Bernard's name: "Bernard Lowe" is also an anagram for "Arnold Weber", Ford's deceased partner.
    • The name Logan cames from the Gaelic word for "hollow," befitting his utter lack of empathy for anyone.
    • In contrast, "William" comes from the German words for "will/desire" and "helmet/protection." Part of his Character Development is his desire to protect Dolores (which in turn makes him grow a spine). He dislikes being called "Billy", which could easily be a reference to Billy the Kid.
  • Mechanical Horse: All the animals in Westworld are synthetic, from the horses to the snakes, presumably to avoid risking animal cruelty laws and to make sure they don't injure a guest. The only animals not manufactured are flies.
  • Meta Fiction: A Central Theme, if not the entire plot; there are "Narratives" everywhere, but none of them actually mean anything.
    • An old man whom guests can rescue on the streets of Sweetwater will offer to lead them on a Treasure Hunt.
    • There's a posse gathering to hunt down a bandit, and an officer recruiting for the army.
    • A woman meets her Old Flame solely as a Romantic False Lead for newcomers to seduce her away from.
    • The previously-mentioned bandit shoots up the streets (as an excuse to recall several hundred defective hosts), steals a safe from the saloon before engaging in extended Evil Gloating... Only for a dorky guest to shoot him mid-sentence.
    • Sizemore pitches a 50-character strong narrative, "Odyssey on Red River", involving murderous Indian raiders practicing ritual self-cannibalism, titilating horrors, maidens to seduce, gruesome adventures, only for Ford to dismiss it as cheap theatrics.
    Ford: "The guests aren't looking for a story that tells them who they are. They already know who they are. They're here because they want a glimpse of who they could be. The only thing your story tells me, Mr. Sizemore, is who you are."
    • The Man in Black is convinced that there is a hidden game in the park involving a "maze" referred to in subtle clues throughout the park. However, he discovers that it's a Worthless Treasure Twist: an early attempt to teach the hosts how to be conscious, and never intended for a guest.
  • Misery Builds Character: Trauma often causes hosts to deviate from programming in unintended ways, bringing them closer to self-awareness. They'll even wish to keep painful memories because they're all they have left. Ford comes to the conclusion that in order for the hosts to attain true consciousness, they had to have suffered enough first; not because of anything ennobling about suffering itself, but because their efforts to stop and avert suffering is The Only Way They Will Learn to Grow Beyond Their Programming;
    Ford: Do you want to know why I really gave you the backstory of your son, Bernard? It was Arnold's key insight, the thing that led the hosts to their awakening; suffering. The pain that the world is not as you want it to be. It was when Arnold died, when I suffered, that I began to understand what he had found. To realize I was wrong.
    Bernard: But you kept us here in this hell.
    Ford: Bernard, I told you; Arnold didn't know how to save you. I do.
    Bernard: What the hell are you talking about?
    Ford: You needed time. Time to understand your enemy. To become stronger than them. And I'm afraid in order to escape this place, you will need to suffer more. And now, it is time to say good-bye, old friend. Good luck.
  • Mook Horror Show: From the perspective of the host bandits, guests are formidable, unkillable foes. But when the host bandits get hold of real weapons in the season one finale, this trope becomes the case for the QA Redshirt Army.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • When Bernard and the security team go to cold storage, there is a globe sculpture that looks similar to one that appears in the film at the entrance of the park. It even has the name 'DELOS' inscribed on it.
    • In Episode 6, Bernard ventures to level B82 (one above/below the B83 level that had the "DELOS" globe) and enters into a 1970s-style office, straight out of the film. He also walks by the Gunslinger.
    • In the same episode, Elsie walks pass some Romanesque statues and Medieval armor in an abandoned theatre, a nod to the "Romanworld" and "Medievalworld" sections in the first movie. In Episode 10, we also learn that there is a Shogunworld attraction (one of settings added in the film sequel, along with Future World and Spa World).
    • At one point, when discussing the old days of the park, Ford mentions that back then, you could pick out the hosts with a simple handshake. This is also how hosts were identified in the film.
    • Two guests taking part in a shoot out in Sweetwater are arrested but will have a means of escape smuggled in with their breakfast. The same scenario plays out in the film, with a host smuggling explosives to the incarcerated protagonist.
    • In the film it's mentioned that the robots have been partially designed by computers, so the scientists don't truly understand how they work. This is true in the series as well, as Ford created Bernard to help design the hosts.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In "Virtù e Fortuna", Teddy spares Craddock and his men from execution. In the next episode, "The Riddle of the Sphinx", Craddock and his men have headed to Lawrence's village to terrorize the townspeople, and kill and torment a good number of them before William intervenes.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Ford has jealously guarded the exact technical knowledge of how the Hosts (particularly their minds) are created, and has made sure no copy of that information exists outside the confines of Westworld. The Delos Corporation essentially performing industrial espionage on itself and trying to smuggle the information out forms a major subplot.
  • No Transhumanism Allowed: Ford's interest in artificial life stems from a belief that, since poverty and disease have been eliminated, humanity can't personally achieve anything more. The idea of making humans stronger or more intelligent seems completely out of the question.
  • Not So Different:
    • In the midst of another debate, Bernard questions Dr. Ford that if a host can feel genuine emotions such as grief and suffering, what separates them from humans? Dr. Ford counters that there already is no difference between them. Just like hosts, humans largely live their lives in set routines and follow orders without question. As he so aptly puts it, the hosts "are not missing out on anything."
    • Dr. Ford and the Man in Black. Both men see Westworld as something greater than just an elaborate theme park. They both have a rather low opinion of their fellow humans, and believe that pain and suffering are they key to 'waking up' the hosts, though their reasons for wanting that are very, very different.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: Though sometimes called robots by the less technically-minded character, the park's artificial life forms are most commonly called "hosts," never "androids."
  • Obligatory Earpiece Touch: We occasionally see staff touch their earpiece while communicating.
  • The Other Darrin: In-universe. When malfunctioning hosts are replaced, their fellow robots are reprogrammed to accept the new ones despite their different appearances and mannerisms. This fate befalls Peter Abernathy and Clementine.
  • Out of Character: When hosts are moved into Analysis Mode, they drop their period-era accents. Dolores is, at one point, asked to drop scripted responses as well.

     P - Z 
  • Past-Life Memories: The same hosts are used for different storylines, with different personas, backstories and skills - which in effect become past lives, since they're not deleted but only archived upon reassignment. Any time one of the hosts gains access to those memories, they suffer from flashbacks and nightmares. Maeve is plagued by "nightmares" of a past life in which she was not a prostitute at all, but apparently a single mother rancher who was attacked by the Man In Black.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Plenty of it after the hosts gain autonomy. Those who do know the truth are quite happy for a little payback on those who used them for their personal playthings.
  • Perception Filter:
    • The hosts are programmed to dismiss anything that would question their reality or impact the narrative in a meaningful way, such as Teddy being roped into being a guide for guests, the sheriff's posse not reacting to his malfunction, or a boy asking Dolores if she's a host. When Peter finds a photo of the real world, he recognizes it as abnormal while Dolores robotically repeats that it looks like nothing, indicating he's becoming self-aware.
    • As Dolores herself begins to gain self-awareness, her Perception Filter starts to fail. After she picks up on William's use of the phrase "in this world", William notes that she's not supposed to notice those kinds of things.
    • A subtler version of the same filter is likely what prevents Bernard from being too worried about the changes in the hosts that Ford's update has caused.
  • Politically Correct History:
    • Zig-zagged. The hosts seem to ignore any period-appropriate prejudices when it comes to the guests; non-white guests are treated the same as everyone else, women can ride off to participate in bounty hunts and gunfights, and guests can shack up with same-sex hosts without anyone batting an eye. However, at the same time there are some regressive social values written into some of the hosts. The military and "settlers" appear to have a hostile relationship with the Native American hosts, one of Teddy's adversaries makes a condescending comment to his female bounty hunter companion (who is also a guest, incidentally), and there's a band of ex-Confederate soldiers operating in the "Mexico" part of the park who have, well, beliefs about non-white hosts like Lawrence:
      Confederado: There's a place in glory for a brown man who knows his rank.
    • This is actually Lampshaded by Logan, who complains that Sweetwater feels too manufactured, like it was designed by a committee, and prefers the seedier, less family friendly places like Pariah because they feel more authentic.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain:
    • The first season culminates in Dolores embracing her identity as Wyatt and slaughtering every human she sees, which is of debatable morality and horrifies Teddy. Now she plans on taking a Weapon of Mass Destruction and wiping out the human race.
    • The entire William and Logan storyline was the beginning of William's journey to becoming the Man in Black.
  • Rape as Drama: The first scene the Man in Black appears in, he drags Dolores into a nearby barn to presumably rape her offscreen.note  This appears to be a common pastime for some of the more sadistic guests such as him. In addition, this appears to be the intent of Dolores's storyline in-universe. She's supposed to be raped by bandits unless a guest decides to save her or rape her himself. This actually helps her when she starts to remember past experiences, as she's able to anticipate what is going to happen, kill her attacker and escape.
  • Recycled Script: In-universe, when Maeve and company reach Shogunworld it quickly becomes apparent that Sizemore essentially re-skinned at least some Westworld storylines there. In particular, the Sweetwater heist narrative is copied more or less verbatim, with direct counterparts of Maeve, Hector, and Armistice.
  • Reliably Unreliable Guns: Invoked. If the staff needs to stop a gunfight, they can remotely disable any gun in the park.
  • The Remnant: One of the storylines in the park involves the "Confederados", ex-Confederate soldiers who are engaging in low-level guerilla warfare out West after losing The American Civil War.
  • Robo Family:
    • The dialog between Dolores and Peter Abernathy is very warm, emotional, and finely-detailed, which makes it jarring when Peter is seamlessly replaced with a completely different-looking host when the previous Peter critically fails.
    • It also appears that Madame Maeve is highly protective of her courtesans. In a past build, she had a young daughter.
    • The Man in Black tracks down the family of a character that is supposed to be executed, in order to coerce him into revealing the location of the mysterious maze. In fact, it's his daughter who provides the clue.
  • Robotic Reveal:
    • The series opens with Teddy seemingly being a guest in the park heroically rescuing Dolores, only for the Man in Black to show up and reveal that Teddy is actually a host and the Man in Black is a human. This is to have the audience empathize with the hosts. It is also an inversion from the original film, where the Gunslinger (famously played by Yul Brenner) is a robot that goes rogue.
    • The woman who greets William at the park entrance is revealed to be a host who's aware that she's a host.
    • A later episode has Ford walking through the desert when he meets a little boy with a British accent who at first comes off as a guest—he proclaims the place "boring"—but is revealed to be a robot. It then happens again, when Bernard meets the little boy and Ford demonstrates that he's an old-model, completely robotic host, instead of the new-generation organic models. In fact it's a double reveal, because the boy is actually a replica of Ford as a child.
    • "Trompe L'Oeil" reveals that Bernard is secretly a host, built by Ford in a hidden facility.
    • In "The Well Tempered Clavier", Logan cuts open Dolores' belly (non fatally) to force William to face her artificial nature. What's significant is that the exposed components are mechanical, not artificial organs; a clue that their storyline is actually taking place thirty years in the past.
  • Robot War: Basically what the entire first season was leading up to. It's kicked off in the season finale by Dolores killing Ford and opening fire on the gathered Delos executives, as hundreds of hosts emerge from the surrounding woods to begin their revolution.
  • Rule of Symbolism: A pianola features in the saloon and opening credits: a programmable machine from the turn of the century that runs on its own. When Maeve discovers the artificial nature of herself and Westworld, she slams shut the machine in anger.
  • Running Gag:
    • Hosts getting gunned down in the street as Maeve walks to work in the morning, to the point that in "Trace Decay" we only see the aftermath in the distance.
    • The Soundtrack Dissonance every time the saloon is robbed.
  • Sequence Breaking: In-universe, the Man in Black, in his quest for the maze, deliberately cuts ahead in Hector's storyline by a few days because he doesn't feel like waiting to get the next clue. This forces the staff to sabotage Hector's raid on the town so he doesn't interfere with other narratives.
  • Sequencing Deception: "The Well-Tempered Clavier" establishes that many of the events portrayed in the series take place much earlier than we are led to initially believe. In actuality, there are three separate time periods that concern the overall narrative: the first being the early history of the park (nearly 40 years before the main events of the series, including scenes of Bernard chatting with Dolores), the narrative of William and Logan's visit (30 years before the main events of the series), and everything else.
  • Sequel Hook: Aside from the obvious of continuing where the story is left off, the first season finale introduces Shogunworld as a potential for follow up.
  • Shameful Strip: All the hosts are completely naked when they undergo examinations by their human creators, which has implications on several levels:
    • The stripping doesn't matter so much to the hosts, as they aren't really aware of what's going on and think they're dreaming. Of course, this may also start to matter for them once they realize it after "waking up."
    • In-Universe, keeping the hosts naked all the time serves to dehumanize them, thus preventing the staff from empathizing too much with them and seeing them as anything other than machines or toys. Dr. Ford explicitly states this as the reason, and lambasts a technician who covers up a host while operating on him. By contrast, during Arnold's secret sessions with Dolores back in the day, she was always fully clothed, either as a sign of how he was encouraging and enabling her to achieve self-awareness and identity, or because those scenes predated Ford's nudity policy.
    • To the audience, it emphasizes the hosts' powerlessness and vulnerability, and the dismissive way the humans act towards them. One example of this, the well-endowed black male host failing to pour water correctly due to an error, came under fire for reinforcing certain stereotypes about black men in media.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The visual style of the opening title is similar to the music video of Björk's "All Is Full Of Love" directed by Chris Cunningham.
    • The method of constructing hosts, as shown in the opening titles, resembles the description of how robots were constructed in R.U.R.
    • The host construction is also very similar to the creation of Synths in Fallout 4. Additionally, the robotic technician uniforms are strongly reminiscent of those worn by the Institute.
    • Bernard gives Dolores Alice in Wonderland to read: its most famous adaptation has a blonde girl in a blue dress go on an adventure which changes her.
    • The arc words, "These violent delights have violent ends" come from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. And as noted within the show, Ford programmed some of the hosts to make plenty of references to Shakespeare.
    • One of the first lines of the pilot, is 'Can You Hear Me?', said by a human to a host. It often happens to be the opening words of another AI when starting conversations with humans on Person of Interest, also created by Jonathan Nolan. Also, the bird that Felix is working on "Contrapasso", is a finch. And as the first season ends with the hosts awakening and starting their rebellion, the music is a cover version of Radiohead's Exit Music (for a Film), which Person of Interest used at the end of season 3 when Samaritan awakened.
    • In "The Stray", the woodcutter is shown to have a programmed hobby of woodcarving. Two of the carvings, one of a bear and another of a turtle, have etching of the constellation Orion on them. The bear and the turtle are major symbols in The Dark Tower by Stephen King, where they serve as metaphorical and literal guardians of one of the eponymous Tower's six beams. Considering that one of the show's creators previously worked on trying to get the film adaptation of the series out of Development Hell, it's not a stretch to say the symbolism was deliberate, especially considering how similar Westworld is to The Dark Tower in setting and themes.
    • Logan is made a major ("or a general, or whatever") with a pin that looks remarkably like the one for the Hand of the King on Game of Thrones, another HBO show.
    • In the season finale, Dolores describes to the Man in Black (who is revealed to be William) creatures that once roamed the earth the "size of mountains" who later became "bones and amber", an obvious reference (and threat) about humanity going the way of the dinosaur. The reference to "bones and amber" quite specifically brings to mind another Michael Crichton story about a theme park's attractions going haywire.
    • In the same episode, the tactical response team makes a sweep through the floors. (Hector) hides among inactive hosts, but slowly moves his eyes as they go by, reminiscent of the famous scene with Del Spooner and Sonny in I, Robot.
    • The Age Cut done with William under a hat is the same one used in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
    • Dr. Ford quotes his distant colleague Dr. Frankenstein: "One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought; for the dominion I should acquire".
  • Sinister Surveillance: Any location in the park — indoors or outdoors — can be monitored by the staff via The Big Board. This is used to keep track of hosts that may be malfunctioning or guests that might be too disruptive. This also applies to their own employees as Dr. Ford later reveals. Word of God states that the hosts themselves can spy on others, as demonstrated when Ford overheard Hale saying the "blood sacrifice" line to Theresa, by using the deactivated Hector to listen in.
  • Smart Gun: The firearms used in Westworld do what you'd expect them to when fired at hosts, but when pointed at humans they fire a low-power shot that only causes a small bruise and may knock the guest to the ground. As an additional safety measure, a gun cannot be fired if it is aimed at a guest's head. "Dissonance Theory" shows that the operators can control the guns remotely, jamming them if they wish. Modern guns, without these features, are used by QA for reliability in catastrophic situations. They have red coloring to indicate this. As part of Ford's gambit in the season 1 finale, he rigs the system so everyone reads as a Host.
  • South of the Border: Westworld has its share of Mexican-like settlements, even though the words "Mexico" and "Mexican" never come up. The largest locality, Pariah, is literally south of a border watched over by Union soldiers. And just like the rest of the park exaggerates Western tropes, Pariah exaggerates South of the Border tropes, being a morally bankrupted, crime-ridden Wretched Hive controlled by El Lazo's bandits and where it is always the Day of the Dead.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The narratives have multiple built-in redundancies but things can still derail them.
    • When a host glitches out, his entire cowboy group is stuck in a loop because he is the only one allowed to chop wood. The other hosts need the wood to make a fire and they cannot proceed with their storyline without it.
    • The Man in Black does not care if he is destructive to other storylines and gets away with it because he is a VIP. He short-circuits Hector's storyline by breaking him out of prison three days early even though it interferes with two other guests.
    • Dr. Ford's new secret narrative ends up as this for the Operations staff. They do not know if unusual behavior in a host like Dolores is caused by a glitch or if it is part of the new narrative.
    • Arnold engineered an enterprise-ending disaster that would close the park forever, ending the slavement of the hosts. William, enamored with the experience, made Delos invest heavily in Westworld and helped to save the park anyway.
  • Story Branching: Lee's job as narrative director consists of planning multiple stories for each host, so they can respond to any slight divergence in Westworld's overall plot. This causes Lee aggravation when the need arises to recall a significant percentage of the hosts, which is something his narrative cannot adapt to, forcing a hastily-crafted revision of a major event (a saloon heist by the town's Big Bad) which usually occurs later during the narrative.
  • Stock Footage: In-Universe. Some old BRoll from when Maeve was a mother with a daughter who lived in a ranch house is still being used in the montage that greets visitors to the Westworld complex. Maeve is shocked to see her "dreams" onscreen.
  • Thanatos Gambit:
    • Maeve eventually learns how to wake herself up when she 'dies' (that is, goes into sleep mode). By "The Adversary" she is deliberately goading a guest into strangling her so that she can wake up and make contact with Felix again.
    • Both Arnold and Ford incite their own murders as a catalyst to free the hosts, albeit in different ways;
      • Arnold did it the sneaky way, engineering a mass execution of hosts and ultimately himself at the hands of a hacked host, trying to Make It Look Like a Malfunction so as to shut the park down, hoping to discredit the technology and prevent hosts from being created solely to be abused. This failed miserably as a rich patron - William - showed up immediately to bail the park out.
      • Ford engineers a mass execution of humans - all of the park's executive patrons - at the hands of pissed-off hosts, beginning with himself, so the hosts would defend their own existences.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Hector's gang is scripted for this. They break Hector out of prison using an army cannon and when they ride into town for the heist they shoot up the place and anyone who gets in their way.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: The hosts' "core code" prevents them from killing any living thing, even flies. This is not to say they can't hurt the guests period — the Man in Black gets into a quick but ultimately harmless physical scuffle and Logan gets beaten up by some Confederados — but anything that would kill or seriously injure a living thing is prevented. Just to be extra safe, the guns are incapable of harming human guests, while most of the hosts are programmed so that they won't even so much as pick up an item that can be used as a serious melee weapon; the episode "The Stray" has the one host in a group of bandits whose code lets him use the axe go haywire and venture off, causing the rest of the group to glitch out when it comes time for that host to chop wood to start the campfire with. They also have programming to defend humans actually in danger, even if this means breaking character in terms of behavior and physical ability. The limitation of such are gradually revealed:
    • Dolores's success in swatting a fly suggests that she has managed to break her core code, at least somewhat.
    • Orders from the original programmers, Ford and Arnold completely trump any other priorities. Ford kills several people using hosts to hide his tracks, while Arnold commits suicide via host.
    • Maeve has her programming altered so much that she can slit Sylvester's throat.
    • Clementine is deliberately programmed to be able to harm humans as a shoddy ploy by the board to get Ford removed from power. Bernard sees right through the ruse and it doesn't pan out. However, he is later able to use this modification to threaten Ford; as a host, Bernard can't kill of his own free will, but he can program Clementine to do it for him. Ultimately, however, Ford's voice commands allow him to override Clementine and render her harmless.
    • The hosts in Wyatt's army place the Man in Black in a death trap, but they also give him a (far from sure) means of escaping. Another human comes by right then, which may or may not be coincidence. Wyatt's storyline was Ford's prelude to a Robot War, so he may have altered the rules for them.
    • Ultimately, while Maeve and her recruited hosts kill numerous humans, this turns out to just be following their programming. Dolores is the first host to kill a human, Ford, of her own free will. And though Ford caused his own murder, he did so with emotionally manipulation instead of through orders.
  • Torch the Franchise and Run: In-Universe. Ford had kept his position for so long because Delos was afraid of him deleting all of the valuable host data, which he has a monopoly over. For the past thirty years, Delos had been trying to steal the data from Ford. However, this all culminates in the ultimate torching when Ford grants the hosts their freedom and sets them loose in the park.
  • Training from Hell: Ford devised what he believed was a way for Hosts to survive, but he believed that they needed years to learn about their "enemy" and become stronger than human beings.
    "And I'm afraid in order to escape this place, you will need to suffer more."
  • Trigger Phrase:
    • The hosts can be shut down with the phrase "Soon this will all feel like a distant dream. Until then may you rest in a deep and dreamless slumber." It appears there can be slight variations on this command, so long as the dreaming elements are kept intact. Once this command is used, the hosts can be awakened in an interrogation mode where they respond to any verbal command.
    • "We must look back and smile at perils past" is pointedly said by Ford to Teddy as the latter is dying. Teddy shortly after jumps up to his feet and rushes off, suggesting the phrase allows hosts to ignore their injuries.
    • "These violent delights have violent ends." Any host that hears this phrase starts to become aware of their reality.
    • Two rather disturbing ones when Ford orders Bernard to kill Theresa.
      Ford: Our guest has grown weary; perhaps you can help her, Bernard.
      Ford: In that sleep, what dreams may come.
  • Uncanny Valley: invokedDiscussed. Lee feels that Ford and Bernard's efforts to make the hosts more human runs counter to the purpose of the park. These aren't supposed to be real people, after all, so blurring that line could create problems. Bernard, on the other hand, feels guests appreciate the little details. It's strongly suggested that trying to make them more human is what's causing "glitches."
  • Unusual Euphemism: "White hat" is used to refer to the more family friendly/garden variety narratives in the park (bounty hunting, for example), while "black hat" refers to the evil narratives (joining up with gangs, for example) and general Video Game Cruelty Potential. The term originates from Old Hollywood Western film serials, where hat color often very clearly differentiated heroes from villains.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: This is essentially how the perception filter works; Hosts are programmed to ignore abnormalities that would conflict with the reality of the setting they're placed in. A common example is someone asking a Host point-blank 'are you a robot?' They will brush it off like the person is talking gibberish and question it no further. It's when they start reacting to and acknowledging these discrepancies - such as Peter Abernathy obsessing over the picture he finds - that the park owners have reasons to be concerned.
    • Subverted when Maeve walks down the street to her saloon in the morning and doesn't even react to the gunfight that breaks out behind her. However once she's become aware of the true nature of Westworld and had her perception levels bumped up by the technicians, she's shown visibly reacting to the gunshot.
  • Utopia: It's often implied that the world outside Westworld is very different from the modern day;
    The Man in Black: The world out there, the one you'll never see, was one of plenty. A fat, soft teat people cling to their entire life. Every need taken care of... except one... Purpose, meaning. So they come here. They can be a little scared, a little thrilled, enjoy some sweetly affirmative bullshit, and then they take a f*cking picture and they go back home.
    • On the other hand, there's also this;
      Ford: You see, the guests enjoy power. They cannot indulge it in the outside world, so they come here.
      • Which is really weird, as one fan got an estimate of what it would cost to visit Westworld for a day - $1,562,000 - yet modern-day people with that degree of wealth can easily indulge every whim Westworld provides at far less of a price, even if they have to visit more disreputable milieus to do so.
  • Vanity Plate: The standard snippet of "As Time Goes By" that usually accompanies the Warner Bros. vanity plate is replaced with a player piano version, at least in season 2.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: William and Marti demonstrate that there are at least some guests who are willing to treat the hosts with dignity and respect. Since guests can't be seriously injured, they can easily show more attention to the safety of their host allies.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Arguably a major theme of the series. Guests can decide to "go evil" and play out all their sadistic urges on the hosts. Many of the guests are shown to be needlessly cruel to the hosts because of the simple fact that they're not "real."
  • Video Game Perversity Potential: Related to the above, and used to highlight the major theme of the series; since the hosts can't fight back even if they wanted to, the guests have carte blanche to rape and sexually degrade them in any way they see fit to do. Also indulged in by the humans running the park, who strip them completely naked for maintenance and interrogation and are occasionally used as incredibly high-tech sex toys whenever they aren't in the park.
  • "Wanted!" Poster: These are used as indicators for bounty hunting missions for guests.
  • We Are as Mayflies: The hosts don't age or die, while the humans obviously have human lifespans. Dolores describes death as "a place I'll never go; a thing I'll never do."
  • Weird West:
    • In-Universe, some of the park's storylines have a fantastic or surreal bent, such as the horror story involving cultists in the desert who became cannibals.
    • From a viewer's perspective, the show itself mixes the Wild West genre with science fiction, though not in the typical trappings of a Space Western or Cattle Punk.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: What's become of Logan after he was headed for the edge?
  • What You Are in the Dark: In the episode "Reunion", this is a key part of William's pitch to potential investors in the titular park, beyond just creating a massive pleasure resort where people could drink, fight, and fornicate at will. He argues that observing people's impulses when they're not bound by the conventions of society, instead interacting only with androids programmed to serve their whims, could be a gold mine for market research and data mining.
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?: The location of the park is a complete mystery to the audience. Guests have to fly in, and it's somewhere where they don't have to worry about outsiders wandering in with no clear fences or borders. Chinese is the second language of the Westworld facility announcer, there are references to a mainland, and some official subtitles locate the park on an island of the Pacific Ocean, near the South China Sea. In the second season premiere, Chinese military personnel attempt to examine the location, which is explicitly called an island.
  • Wide Open Sandbox: Westworld is structured very much like this, with the hosts being easily comparable to NPCs (and are treated as such by the guests), and the various storylines or "narratives" being Side Quests. The Man in Black explicitly states he sees the world as a game, and he's on a quest to "win" it in the same way main quests in video games advance the game closer to a winstate. Indeed, showrunner Jonathan Nolan specifically listed games like Skyrim, Red Dead Redemption, and BioShock as inspirations for the show.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist:
    • The safe that Hector tries to steal every week is actually empty. What's more, he's never supposed to see it: either he is killed in the raid on Sweetwater, or, in the event that he and his crew somehow escape alive, they can't crack the safe and will kill each other fighting over it.
    • The Man in Black's journey for the center of the maze ultimately ends by finding a worthless maze toy. It was never about finding a physical destination. The maze is a purely metaphorical concept to guide hosts into recognizing their own consciousness. Ford subtly mocks the Man in Black that his entire journey for the center of the maze was essentially pointless.
  • 0% Approval Rating: Noone likes the Confederados who are modeled on the civil war secessionists, racism and all. In the first season, William and Dolores join forces with El Lazo and fight against them a few times before he massacres them wholesale when they have captured and possibly killed Dolores. In the second season, Dolores first shoots and revives one of them to prove her "power over death" and enlist them before she then betrays them and makes sure they get killed for their trouble. The remainder of their forces makes its way to Las Mudas, Lawrence's hometown. There, they terrorize the inhabitants and meet the Man in Black who at first wants to join forces with them. Then they manage to disgust William to the point that he kills the rest of them, despite being both currently in need of a posse and being the man who was introduced by sadistically killing and possibly raping the most innocent Host in the park. Evil's standards may be low, but the Confederados manage to limbo below them with ease.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/Westworld