"You're in charge of your own stories now. You no longer have an author to manipulate the plot to protect or harm you. Your triumphs are yours, but failure is permanent."
—PeepiceekRound 1 Prompt
What happens when characters take control of their own stories?Coloring Medium is an Original Character Tournament on Deviantart. It takes place in the realm of Medium, a land that exists between the worlds of fiction. Normally home to forgotten or abandoned characters, it has recently been overrun by ordinary characters who have broken out of their own fictional works. These characters, in possession of artistic tools known as manipulators, can bend the realms of fiction to their will. With the fictional reality breaking down under the strain, a tournament is held, offering the interlopers a prize beyond their wildest dreams. The catch; the losers must surrender their manipulators.Coloring Medium ended on October 7th, 2012. It was won by the tag-team of Shinkoryu14 and CerbysaurusRex, with their characters Helena and Saiph.
This OCT provides examples of:
Aliens Speaking English: Marty, Renda, Perry, Crayon, Amadeus, and Reznor all fall under this classification directly as literal aliens. Of course there is also the more general question of how so many characters from different universes all speak English.
Alternate Timeline: Most of the characters inadvertently created one by using their manipulators, changing the plot their creators originally intended.
Another Dimension: All of Medium, but each of the doors leads to a self-contained world of its own.
Anyone Can Die: Played with. It is within the rules to kill your opponents, however since it is not really possible to kill and idea, they don't really "die" per se. Instead they lose their sentience and most of their character, becoming tiny points of light called "sparks of inspiration" that roam aimlessly about the Medium.
Applied Phlebotinum: The manipulators, which contain all the power of an author or artist with the simple flick of a paintbrush or tip of a hat. In a realm that is the physical manifestation of the fictional reality, the "power of an author or artist" directly translates to total control of the world around them.
Art Shift: Happens naturally given that multiple artists are contributing to the story, but often an individual artist will intentionally invoke this trope as a way of lampshading that something within the story has changed.
Canon Welding: Given the meta nature of the story, it's only to be expected. More or less any known work of fiction is considered to exist alongside Medium. Noteworthy examples of other competitors previous stories being canon welded include;
The Tapestry of Horror (via Renda/Perry and Helena/Saiph)
Diabolus Adventures (via Marty)
Creator Cameo: Not as common as you might expect, but it does happen once in a while. Noteworthy cases include Portia's audition and Theraidra's SE.
De-power: Happens to the tournament losers- their manipulators, and with them their god powers, are taken away.
God Is Flawed: Makes sense given the "gods" of this world are only human authors. They are fickle, indecisive, vindictive, prone to creative blocks, and none of this is missed by their poor creations.
I Just Write the Thing: As with many metafiction concepts, this is thoroughly deconstructed. In fact, Saiph explains it as the single greatest distinction between a Whole and a Half-Idea. A poorly developed Half-Idea is a slave to the author's whim and has no power to decide their own fate. A Whole, on the other hand, has enough personality and will to overturn the intent of the author and change the story into something that the Creator never planned for.
An in-universe example of this is when The Arbitrary Creation is about to be written out of the story. It refuses to accept its defeat by Kyuzin and directly defies the author. Later, in the non-canon semi-final, Arbitrary is dismissed as useless by the author because it lost its voice. However the author can't bring themself to abandon the story now that its underway, and ultimately returns to help Arbitrary finish what they started.
MacGuffin: Just what is the prize for winning the tournament?
The Pen Is Mightier: Fairly self-explanatory; it is a world of fiction where art and writing utensils have reality warping powers.
Plot Device: Many, given the metafictional nature of the story.
The Manipulators definitely count. Their existence kicked off the story in the first place, and in order to win the fights a character must take their opponent's from them.
Arbitrary's raven. In fact, in Helena and Saiph's final round entry the characters explicitly call it "the plot device raven."
The golden wish paper in Marty's final round entry, given that it is implied to literally be a physical Deus ex Machina.
Pocket Dimension: The archetypes, which have their own doors but aren't true stories, might count.
Population Control: Or rather, population elimination. Omer just wants the whole characters out of Medium, by whatever means necessary.
Set Right What Once Went Wrong: The theme of round four, where the characters have to go back in time to stop their opponents for the round from ever getting their manipulators and messing up their stories to begin with. Might be Make Wrong What Once Went Right for a few characters who's manipulators are actually a part of their canon.
Talking Animal: Lots of these. Given the setting, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
Alternate Self: Marty, Kyuzin, Renda, and Perry are all explicitly known to exist in multiple different continuities with slight variations on the characters in each one.(Note that this only considers characters with at least two continuities outside of the OCT, not those who existed as characters with just one story before it.)
The concept is somewhat deconstructed by Saiph, who expresses disgust for the idea of duplicating a character as if it were a toy and points out that these alternate versions of the character aren't really the same person.
Always with You: Saiph's long lost brother, Enif, was revealed to be with him all along, in the form of a spark. After he gave the energy of his creation to his brother to save Saiph's life, the two essentially became one, ensuring that Enif will be with Saiph forever.
Amazing Technicolor Population: Since most of the characters are deliberately intended to make little logical sense, it's actually more uncommon for the characters to be normal.
Ambiguous Ending: In Helena and Saiph's epilogue, while there is some cautious optimism, it is ultimately left up to enterpretation whether or not Helena actually dies in her canon story, and if she and Saiph ever reunite.
Amusing Alien: Renda and Perry seldom take any situation seriously. Renda prefers to crack jokes, and Perry lampshades the hell out of it.
After Clarisse dies in the round four, Helena takes her ax and uses it in the final round.
Asskicking Equals Authority: Kind of. Helena, upon winning the tournament, uses her prize to wish for the power to restore Medium. She becomes it's defacto leader in Omer's place as result.
Attention Whore: Marty enjoys making a spectacle of himself, even if it entails pissing other people off to get them to notice him.
Author Avatar: Directly in the case of Portia, who's author manifested in person during the audition and introduced herself by her actual online handle. Somewhat indirectly in the case of Arbitrary and Amadeus, who's owners have stated that the "creators" who talk to the characters aren't necessarily meant to be their real world authors.
A Wizard Did It: Or rather, a manipulator/creator did it. In a story that deconstructs the very nature of fiction, ass pull plot contrivances are both commonplace, and explicitly called out by the characters for comedic effect.
Badass Longcoat: Helena becomes so well known for hers that most of the other characters refer to her as "the red coat lady" or something to that effect. Sadly she loses the coat during round four.
In Marty's final round entry, she gets a new Badass Longcoat. A shiny golden one.
Badass Normal: A good few of the characters have no real abilities of their own. You could argue that the manipulators moot this, but it’s somewhat evened out by the fact that more or less all of the characters have them.
Ballroom Blitz: Helena's and Saiph's first round takes place in a Masquerade Ball.
Bearer of Bad News: Sorry Helena, I know you just passed out from immense pain and exhaustion, but we kind of need someone to save the universe for us. And you are the only one who can. Hugs and kisses, Peepiceek.
Bittersweet Ending: Both versions. Medium is saved either way, but it comes at a price. Either Saiph dies and Marty gets to just go home, or Helena and Saiph are separated so that Helena can save her own story.
Black Cloak: Darius, one of the NPC judges. Theraidra's raven stalker also qualifies.
Broken Bird: Arguably Theraidra. She is bitter and vindictive over having been abandoned by her creator, but shows flashes of her original good nature and seems to feel a level of empathy for other abandoned characters. (Although she becomes extremely snide if they express an optimistic hope for restoring their story.)
But Now I Must Go: In Helena and Saiph's version of the final. Helena returns to her home, despite the pain that doing so causes both her and Saiph.
Cats Are Mean: Portia, in spades. You could make a case for Saiph as well, although he is actually a human with the ears and tail of a cat.
Chekhov's Boomerang: When Helena compares the movements of the injured spark to a hare, it seems pretty clear that Enif, the true soul of the spark, was the "absent friend" that would return to Saiph. However, the hare sign makes an unexpected return to offer some cautious optimism for Helena's fate at the very end of the story.
Chekhov's Gun: That little spark that Saiph smacked during round one? It's going to save his life later.
The anti-gravity field that appears in Diabolus in the round one prologue also counts; a duplicate of it becomes the setting of the final round.
Chekhov M.I.A.: In the prologue of round three, Saiph is established to have two siblings. One of them left him to take part in a new story, and the other had vanished entirely with the death of their first story. The missing one appears in the final round, just in time to save Saiph's life.
Cold-Blooded Torture: An obvious symptom of Marty's decaying psyche. When he is almost killed by Helena accidentally opening a rift over his head, he retaliates by slamming her into a wall repeatedly. When her friends intervene to save her, he then proceeds to do the exact same thing to the helpless shadow cat.
Conflicting Loyalty: Saiph has never worked to benefit anyone except himself. Now he is in the horrible position of having to chose between saving his own life, and earning back to trust of the one person who had accepted him after years of being alone.
Conveniently-Placed Sharp Thing: Helena escapes from the restraints Marty put her in while he was trying to kill her because he was a moron and dropped the Hylan's knife nearby while gloating.
In his defense, she was tied up with chains and he had no reason to believe an exacto-knife could slice through chains. He didn't realize the thing was a manipulator.
Cosmic Plaything: All of the characters on one level or another, but especially evident in cases like Arbitrary and Amadeus/Reznor.
Cynicism Catalyst: We see in a flashback that at one point Saiph was pretty much like any other seven year old; cute, cheerful, and wanting nothing more then to have fun and enjoy life with his beloved sister Altair. Then his creator overwrote Altair's character, causing her to forget Saiph and even provoking her to smack him when he tries to get her to remember. Understandably, having such a traumatic introduction to the idea of being a fictional character and the fragility of a character's "reality" left Saiph with enough cynicism for any three people, triggering his personality as we see it in the current storyline.
David Versus Goliath: Going into the final round, Marty has a super powered godmod staff that is stronger than any weapon in all of fiction. Helena has a finnicky pen that barely works and an ax she can hardly lift. It's no shock that both parties are equally convinced that the mechanical man will come out victorious.
The Dead Have Names: Although neither of Theraidra's opponents actually died, the cloaked figure made sure to tell the dragon their names after the fights to compound her sense of guilt.
Avon joins the Hylan after she defeats it in round one, although technically neither of them won or lost that fight in-canon.
Helena and Saiph with both the Hylan and Avon in the very next round, although the later two don't come back to cash in the friendship until rounds four and five.
Clarisse takes Adam under her wing after Reznor is killed in round three.
Defrosting Ice Queen: Saiph is a male example. He kept himself from being hurt by distancing himself from other people, but when he tries to use Helena for his own ends her eventual extension of trust towards him cracks his shell for the first time in years. When it seems that he has lost this friendship because of his own selfishness, the former loner becomes desperate to get it back no matter what the personal cost.
Died in Your Arms Tonight: Helena takes Saiph into a heartbroken embrace as the last of his essence dissipates and he turns into a spark.
Dirt Forcefield: Averted with Helena who goes into the final round covered in a thick layer of dirt, grass stains, and blood after her unpleasant trip into Clarisse's horror story.
Disaster Dominoes: Spelled out rather amusingly by Saiph in Marty's final round entry.
One, you started the friggin tournament. Two, you destroyed a shitton of manipulators and brought Death out after everyone. Three, you allowed a psycho-lunatic glowy man to take over half the Medium with his stupid stick.
Drama-Preserving Handicap: Helena and Saiph's iteration of the final round gets around Marty's godmoding by having Bernard periodically glitch out, giving the good guys an opening to strike.
Drunk on the Dark Side: Marty's megalomania was pronounced at the very beginning of the tournament, but as time wore on he looked at the suffering of those he fought at... became even more self absorbed, reveling in his triumphs over them to the point that he ceased caring about anyone or anything, even his own friends back home.
Eldritch Abomination: Created by, of all people, Amadeus. When he tries to manually override the Humanity Ensues trope and turn the humans back into anthros with his manipulator, instead their bodies violently and graphically tear themselves apart under the strain of the transformation. The pile of blood, guts, and organs left behind mutated into a giant red blob that nearly kills both Adam and Reznor.
End of an Age: The Medium lead and protected by Helena is significantly different from the one that Omer knew.
Perhaps the same can be said of Helena herself; in both versions of the final she has lost a profound innocence, and directly lampshades at one point that she would always be lonely and out of place in her home story knowing that she is a fictional character in a story when no one else does.
As of the advent of the final round, Helena and Saiph's canon has confirmed that Medium is tearing itself apart and is in the final throws of death. Of course Marty doesn't really seem to care about the sinkhole under the real estate he is building up, but who's really surprised?
Et Tu, Brute?: Helena was grimly holding on to her sanity by metaphorical teeth and fingernails... until Saiph is forced to reveal that he was planning to betray her. Then to say she gets a little irrational is an understatement.
Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Hylan is not the character’s name, but her professional title. She was never given a name by her creator before her story was forgotten.
Expository Hairstyle Change: Helena is fairly clean-cut with a no-nonsense bun at the beginning of the story. By the final round her hair is hanging in a loose, grimy, disheveled mess about her head. It's an apt metaphor for the gradual degradation of her sanity.
In Marty's rendition of the finale, she has once again gotten her hair under control, but has grown it long and wears it in a more loose, flowing style with only the hair closest to her face pulled back. She has re-assumed control of herself, but no longer wears the bun that was symbolic of her more cold, harsh personage at the beginning of the story.
Fish out of Temporal Water: Helena is an odd case because despite coming from a story set in a Victorian Steam Punk society it doesn't come up as much as you would expect. However during the final round when Marty transforms Medium into a replica of his Sci-Fi story, it finally becomes more obvious as she struggles with foreign concepts like zero-gravity and elevators.
Friendship Moment: Quite a poignant one- and also pretty tragic too given the events that would take place later- at the start of round four.
Helena: "Yes you can. You have to. I know I said I didn't need you in the first round, but I was wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things. You can do this, Saiph. I trust you."
From Bad to Worse: As if the fact that Medium is in full on apocalypse mode wasn't bad enough, now we have a psychopathic supervillain with godmod powers to deal with.
From a Single Cell: When it seems that Helena is about to die, the Hylan slices her open and pulls out her "core word" from which it is indicated Helena can eventually respawn.
Genre Savvy: This applies to many characters, to the point where Genre Blindness could almost be considered a legitimate weakness.
Get It Over With: Helena can't quiet understand why Marty doesn't just kill her when he easily could.
Head-in-the-Sand Management: Despite having made himself ruler over the fictional demension, Marty flat refuses to believe that Medium is dying and do something about it.
Heroic BSOD: Amadeus has this reaction in round two after accidentally turning an entire hospital staff into a throbbing pile of pain wracked organs and blood. To say he was traumatized would be a massive understatement.
Helena has a brief one after the revelation that Saiph, who she had grown to trust implicitly, had been using her for his own selfish ends the whole tournament. Being a secret agent, she is able to compartmentalize her mental anguish relatively quickly, but it's safe to assume that she isn't "okay" just yet.
Clarisse, who jumps at a monster to protect Helena in round four.
In the climax of both versions the final round, Saiph sacrifices himself for Helena. In Helena and Saiph's canon it doesn't stick. In Marty's, he's Killed Off for Real
The Shadow Cat as well; it was dying anyway, but it gave up the last of it's strength to give Helena the one weapon that could defeat Marty.
Heroic Safe Mode: The only reason Helena managed to snap out of her HBSOD at the end of Round Four was by enabling this; it however has the unfortunate side effect of making the previously cautious woman charge ahead blindly in a desperate attempt to end the trauma, and lash out at anyone who attempts to stop her self-destructive behavior.
Heroic Suicide: In Marty's final round entry, Saiph tells Death to take his soul instead of Helena's, so that she will no longer have to die in her story.
Holding Back the Phlebotinum: Despite the fact that all of the characters possess reality warping manipulators, the fights tend to be carried out by more mundane means. When you consider the damage that even casual use of manipulators does to the fictional reality, this practice makes perfect sense.
So far the only character to actually abuse their manipulator has been Marty. In his native canon he created an entire planet with it. In Medium he doesn't realize that such actions come with massive negative implications (not that he cares when he does find out). So he goes about blatantly over-utilizing his manipulator and utterly destroys a famous painting.
Darius temporarily confiscates his manipulator afterwards to get the message across that he needs to cut that crap out.
Not that that works at all.
Hope Is Scary: Part of why Saiph refused to connect to people for so long; he was afraid of suffering the pain of losing them all over again. As far as he was concerned it was easier to just stay indifferent.
Hope Spot: The plot device raven swoops down on Marty, providing the Hylan with just the distraction she needs to take him down. Marty blasts both of them away and kills her.
How Do I Shot Web?: Several of the characters are not very practiced with using their manipulators, and the effectiveness of the devices suffers as result. Theraidra and Testobject in particular are examples of this.
Helena, in Marty's final. She gets a badass gold coat befitting her new position as leader of Medium.
I Choose to Stay: Helena in Marty's version of the final, although presumably she will eventually go home once Medium no longer needs her.
I Did What I Had to Do: Helena has good intentions, and doesn't like the idea of fighting in a tournament where she could potentially hurt innocents, but does so anyway because she is desperate to save her people. It is implied that she also has this attitude towards the less pleasant aspects of her work as a spy.
Idiot Ball: Marty has no reason to lose to Helena; as he himself explicitly points out, he could easily kill her in a matter of seconds if he wanted to. But he doesn't, because that wouldn't be any fun. The Lampshade that promptly follows this statement is hilarious.
Helena: You don't seem particularly bright either.
I Just Want to Have Friends: Saiph has been trying to convince himself for years that if he could become a whole his unhappiness would go away. However he comes to the eventual realization that the real reason he has been so miserable for so long is not because of being a half-idea, but because he is unfathomably lonely.
Eggplant was one to its creator before it was outgrown and ended up in Medium.
I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: Played with. The Hylan doesn't give her knife to Helena directly upon her death, what with the two of them being on opposite ends of the building from one another at the time. However Marty does bring the weapon to Helena unintentionally after taking it off of the Hylan's body.
It can probably also be assumed that if it had been within her power, the Hylan would have given her MacGuffin to Helena as she was dying.
Improbable Weapon User: The manipulators are generally things that would make sense having an influence over the world of fiction, such as markers or keyboards. On occasion, however, they are objects that are just plain odd... Norbert's hat anyone? Silenzio's finger?
In an amusing example of this trope, the pencil sticking out of Avon's head is mistaken for its manipulator by Helena. It actually draws with a gem.
Insult of Endearment: At the beginning of the story, Saiph displays his lack of respect for Helena by insistently referring to her as "Old Hag" rather then her actual name. Helena responds to this by dubbing him "Stubborn Brat." By the end of the story they are still calling each other these nicknames, but without any of the malice.
Intergenerational Friendship: Helena and Saiph, although which of them is older depends on if you are discussing their canonical ages or how long they have existed as characters.
You could make an arguement for Amadeus and Reznor as well, although that is closer to a Parental Substitute situation.
In Their Own Image: When he learns that his home of Diabolus is falling apart in his abscence, Marty reacts by... dismissing it entirely and deciding to start over by turning Medium into a second Diabolus.
Amadeus and Reznor's round two entry is chock full of involuntary shapeshifting.
Iron Lady: Helena has always fit this description, but she takes on the leadership aspect that defines the trope at the end of the final round.
Jerkass: Portia, who dislocated a small boy's finger and showed no remorse for the action.
Also Marty, who thinks he is better than everyone else and isn't afraid to insult people he's just met to stroke his own ego.
Jerk Ass Gods: Deconstructed with the Creators. Since this is set in the word of fiction, their "gods" are essentially authors and artists. The Creators are trying to make an interesting story, so it follows that there has to be a conflict. Of course, this means putting the characters through several kinds of hell over the course of the plot. And there is nothing they can do about it.
Alternatively, if the Creators get bored of a story or character they will simply abandon it. The story falls apart and the characters end up as purposeless half-ideas trapped in Medium.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Saiph was revealed to be this when he returned the Hylan's manipulator to her at the end of his and Helena's second round entry. He, of course, tried to claim he just wanted to annoy Omer, but neither the Hylan nor Helena were fooled.
Karma Houdini: In Marty's interation of the final round, the aforementioned alien gets off pretty lightly for everything he's done. Helena even admits that he really doesn't deserve to just be sent home, but sends him along anyway because Medium just doesn't want to deal with him anymore.
Also Testobject, who is the test character for his creator's design ideas.
Avon was named after a river, and it is living water.
Lakansyèl's name means "rainbow" in Haitian Creole, which is ironic as she is blind and always searching for colors.
Amadeus Cristobel has his first and last names borrowed from the first and middle of his creator.
Medium Awareness: Fairly common, but especially noteworthy in the case of Kyuzin. Ironic considering that he claims not to believe in the idea of creators.
Kyuzin: Mr Exposition Ghost Man said "tournament" in bold. That means it's important!
Mental Time Travel: Marty does this in the final round. At least we surmise it is mental, considering he never meets up with an alternate continuity version of himself.
Metafictional Device: Arbitrary is a pretty good example, as he directly comments on the dialogue of the narrator.
Metafiction: If there is a facet of writing, drawing, or storytelling that is not thoroughly deconstructed, it is not for lack of trying.
Mind Rape: Exposition does this to Saiph, subjecting him to immense mental torment taking advantage of his poorly developed status as a half idea to shatter his mind and completely override his will.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: The Shadow Cat is moved by Helena's sympathy for it, and thoroughly disillusioned with Marty after the Blacorite nearly killed it. In a final act of defiance, it gives Helena the Hylan's knife so that she can defeat its former master.
Music for Courage: Helena has a habit of singing to comfort herself and others when they are upset.
My God, What Have I Done?: Saiph realizes he has come to value Helena not just as a tool, but as a friend. The realization comes just a little too late when a godlike Creator Avatar forces him to admit that he was planning to betray her all along.
My Instincts Are Showing: The part feline Saiph is a subtle example. For the most part his behavior is entirely human, but he is once chided by Helena for allowing his ears and tail to move about with his emotions when he is supposed to be passing them off as parts of a costume. He responds with a great deal of embarrassment that this is mostly reflex and he can't control it well.
Also worth noting is the fact that he seems to fall asleep pretty quickly when relaxed, and at one point even starts purring in his sleep.
Narcissist: Marty definitely qualifies since he goes about blatantly blowing up the various works and expecting to be congratulated for it. Kyuzin and Portia are also quite self-centered.
National Stereotypes: Silenzio is Italian. He speaks Gratuitous Italian. He likes pasta. And dancing. And tomatoes. And wears the Italian flag as his clothing. Yeah, even if his ref didn't say he was Italian it would still be pretty obvious.
Nice Hat: Several characters have hats they are rather attached to, but Norbert’s is particularly noteworthy as it is actually his manipulator.
Omer brought the tournament together in the first place in order to stop the manipulators from damaging Medium. The manipulators are used so heavily in the fights that they do more damage than they might have otherwise. He then tries to undo the damage by destroying the manipulators and releasing their creative energy over Medium. This flood of creative energy destabilizes Medium and sends it into it's final death throws. Oops.
Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Minor case, but when Marty activates his zero-gravity arena he unintentionally alleviates the issue Helena was having with the fact that her ax is too heavy for her. She notices the lack of weight almost immediately and takes full advantage.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After learning that she is to die pointlessly trying to save her people, her attempts to restore Clarisse to life result in the total annihilation of the dog's story, and Saiph began to fade away because he was attacked while trying to help her, Helena starts to believe this to be her destiny. She gets perilously close to a Despair Event Horizon at the begining of the final because of this.
No Gravity for You: Marty pulls this to mess with Helena by luring her into an artificial zero-gravity arena.
Non-Action Snarker: Very seldom will Saiph take an active role in the fighting, given that he has the physic of an emaciated seven year old. However, he is not at all averse to letting Helena know when he thinks she screwed up or did something particularly Genre Blind.
Avon to the Hylan, very much so. It even protects her and Saiph from the destructive shockwave of energy at the beginning of Round Five.
Not a Game: Helena says this to Marty in both iterations of the final round.
Not with the Safety on, You Won't: In round four the Helena from the past attempts to bluff the Hylan and Clarisse by aiming a pistol at them. The Hylan calmly points out that she isn't going to accomplish anything with the weapon because the hammer isn't cocked.
Oblivious Guilt Slinging: Helena tells Saiph up front with total sincerity that she trusts him. He was getting ready to use and betray her for his own selfish ends.
Oh, and X Dies: Death pulls this, revealing that in her own story Helena dies.
Older Sidekick: Dr. Reznor is much older than Amadeus, yet it is the child who has the magic powers and the manipulator.
Our Monsters Are Weird: The vast majority of the random background half-ideas are designed in such a fashion. You can tell the artists were having a little too much fun.
Papa Wolf: Reznor, normally a calm pacifist, finally snaps and brutally attacks Arson when he's watched Amadeus take too much abuse from the man. Unfortunately Reznor is still a very old man, so his explosion does little good except to provide a temporary distraction.
Person of Mass Destruction: Thanks to the manipulators, any of the characters are potentially capable of this. So far it has only been utilized by Marty, who completely obliterated Van Gogh's Starry Night.
Plot Armor: Any given character in their own entries, since the writer sort of needs them alive to progress through each round. However, Nysa is a particularly noteworthy example; she actually dies in round two, but the fact that she is the protagonist causes the story itself to resurrect her.
Plot-Mandated Friendship Failure: At the end of the semi-final round Helena is rather worse for the wear. She's still coming to terms with the horror of discovering she's only a fictional character, learned that her destiny in her home story is to die without accomplishing anything, she's inadvertently brought about the death of innocent people, and just nearly drowned in a bottomless lake of blood. It's explicitly stated that the ever iron-controlled woman just wants to go somewhere by herself and cry. When she meets up with Saiph, who has been Mind Raped into admitting he was only using her for his own selfish ends, she quite justifiably snaps. It takes the boy immolating his own arms in a raging inferno to make her realize that he's changed, and make up with him in time to end the fight with Marty.
Precision F-Strike: Saiph, being an immature and bratty little toerag, swears rather frequently. However his companion, Helena, usually speaks with much more polite language even when she is insulting someone. Until she is chased by a horrific monster in Clarisse's horror world during round four, and can only sum up her feelings with a single sentence- "What the FUCK?!"
She indulges more frequently in colorful language after this as her stress level rises and her iron wrought self control steadily erodes.
Present Absence: Most of Saiph's attitude and actions throughout the story are motivated by his bitterness at the fact that he was abondoned by his creator and siblings.
Pride: The driving force behind everything Marty does; sheer, unbridled hubris.
Pursued Protagonist: How Helena dies in her home canon, according to death. She is being pursued by her enemies and attempts to jump into a river hoping the current will carry her to a downstream encampment of her allies, drowning herself in the process. Somewhat subverted in that she fails to pass on the information to the true protagonist; both her body and the information are taken by her enemies.
Psychopomp: One exist in Medium who describes himself as the amalgamation of literally every existing manifestation of Death.
Rage Against the Heavens: The characters who are played as abandoned Half Ideas rather than Wholes who fell into Medium by accident tend to have this attitude towards the creators.
Reality Warper: Pretty much everyone in the tournament, thanks to the manipulators. Understandably, having thirty-two characters with godlike powers in one place has made the fictional plane a tad unstable, hence the tournament's penalty of taking the loser's manipulators.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Marty sends Saiph flying off the roof of a skyscraper during the final and, despite the fact that Saiph betrayed her, Helena saves the child's life. When Marty chides her for helping the kid that "she doesn't even like" she turns on the blacorite and gives a much deserved scathing lecture.
Screw Destiny: Many of the characters develop this attitude towards their Creator's intended canon. One noteworthy example is Marty, who uses his manipulator to magic up a typewriter and writes the climax of his round one himself.
Also Arbitrary, in a clever lampshade of the way characters in any story tend to develop on their own and defy the intention of the creator's plot. When the creator states that there is no way he can possibly win and prepares to write his loss, he flatly refuses to cooperate and lets Kyuzin rip his arm off as a symbolic gesture of breaking free of the story planned for him.
Secretly Dying: While it is certainly no secret that Saiph is dying during the events of the final round, he never told Helena that he had offered himself up to Death in exchange for her life, thus negating any chance of saving him. She found out from Death after he was already gone.
Senseless Sacrifice: It is revealed that Helena is fated to die attempting to convey the war-ending message to her country in her home canon. Her body is recovered by the enemy and the message never gets to her people.
Simultaneous Arcs: Most of the round four entries alternated back and forth between the two characters showing events chronologically. However, due to the fact that they were dealing with not two, but SIX characters in three different locations, to keep things simple for the most part Helena and Saiph's story would pick one character and follow them to the end of their arc before looking in on another.
Skepticism Failure: Helena flatly refuses to believe that she is a fictional character for a pretty long time, in spite of all the weird things going on that she has no explanation for.
Skeptic No Longer: After the events of round three, Helena is finally forced to accept that everyone was right; she is a fictional character in a story.
Sleep Cute: Non romantic version. After round two Helena and Saiph fall asleep leaning against each other.
The Sleepless: Helena goes into the final round not having slept in almost two full days, and having fought arduous battles during both of those days. Needless to say she is feeling the strain.
Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness: The various characters have different levels of genre awareness depending upon their nature and the plot the author is trying to set up. For example characters like Kydo and Testobject are fully aware that the tournament is an OCT and they are under the control of their creators. Characters like Amadeus and Arbitrary know they are in a fighting tournament and that there is a voice directing them, but that voice isn’t necessarily an avatar of the actual artist, but rather a character in the story. Theraidra and Saiph are among those who know they are drawn characters, but don’t realize that Medium itself is a construct of their creators and believe the canon that they are abandoned. Then there are those like Helena who have no fourth wall awareness at all and don’t realize they are fictional characters. It can be a bit confusing to keep track of at times.
Smug Smiler: Saiph has never been shown with a genuine smile on his face; he is either scowling or wearing a condescending smirk.
The Speechless: Avon is incapable of speech, usually communicating with his notepad. Silenzio is similarly mute.
So Much for Stealth: Happens during Helena and Saiph's first round against Daiquiri. Saiph almost succeeds in stealing Daiquiri's manipulator without the anthro catching on, when an unexpected guest at the masquerade turns the plan on it's head...
Sound-Only Death: We do not actually see Helena die in the Hylan's round two entry, but the CRACK of what we can only assume to be her spine makes what happened off panel quite clear.
Staircase Tumble: Helena becomes the victim of this when Marty turns the staircase into a slide just to troll her.
Stepford Snarker: Saiph, who keeps his grief, betrayal, and lonliness at bay by being bitingly cynical and sarcastic.
Street Urchin: Saiph, before he lost his story. He's not much better off in Medium.
Sugar and Ice Personality: Helena, who's exact motives and opinions are often a mystery because she keeps so much of what she thinks and feels to herself. However the few times she has let her mask fall have shown her to be a sweet, remarkably self-sacrificing woman despite her temper and snark. There is no deep reason for her introversion; it's mostly a habit born out of trust issues instilled into her by her career as a spy, where a moment's lapse in self control could mean discovery or death.
Talk to the Fist: Or rather, the ax. After Helena tries to hint to Marty several times that he needs to stop gloating and just fight her already with no results, she takes a more direct approach to shutting him up.
Ink might also be a case of this, depending if you count the manipulators as weapon or not.
Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: During rounds one and two, Helena and Saiph are constantly bickering with each other and even get into screaming matches on a few occasions. Makes you almost wonder how they cooperated long enough to win the matches.
This Is A Competition: Some of the competitors have less at stake in the tournament than others, or are just pacifistic by nature. When they try to talk down those for whom the prize is a matter of life and death (or one who's simply a jerk) this line (or some variation of it) has a habit of coming out.
No DDR in midair for you, Mage.
Trapped in Another World: Point to any given character. There is a 50% chance the one you chose is motivated by this trope.
The Unchosen One: Helena wasn't even a main supporting character in her own story. Moreover, she is scripted to die a pointless waste of a death without accomplishing anything. Despite this, she rises to the challenge of saving Medium from destruction because she realizes she is literally the only person who can, and defies all the odds by defeating Marty in both versions of the final.
In Helena and Saiph's version, Saiph also encourages her to take this trope even further and defy her scripted demise. Whether or not she succeeds is left open to interpretation.
The Voice: Amadeus and Renzor's telephone stalker ("Mr. Exposition"), and Arbitrary's "creator" and "narrator."
Unexpected Successor: Helena becomes this, taking over as leader and guardian of Medium after Marty kills Omer.
Voluntary Shapeshifting: Avon is capable of this, since his body is basically water and therefore has no real form of its own.
Walking the Earth: What becomes of Marty at the end of his iteration of the final. At least until the shadow cat goes fetch him back.
War Is Hell: Helena's motivation for needing to get home so badly. She says she found information that could potentially end a war going on in her home story.
Watch the World Die: Why Death leaves the graveyard in Medium for the first time in all of his existence.
What Happened to the Pet?: In Marty's continuity, the shadow cat vanishes without a trace until months after the events of the final round.
Where It All Began: Marty is given a second chance to rebuild the the story he abandoned by going back to the start of it.
While Rome Burns: Medium is dying, all of fiction is coming undone, and Marty... is playing with flour sacks.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: During the semi-final Marty acquires all of the creative force that would have gone into Arbitrary, effectively turning Bernard into the most powerful manipulator in existence. Cue him going completely psycho and trying to take over Medium by turning it into a second Diabolus.
Helena: "Maybe they lied to me, manipulated me, and destroyed everything I've ever known; but you know what? They're still living creatures, you bastard. They don't deserve to die! Everyone I've met here has turned out to be a greedy, self-serving jackass. But you know what? None of them tried to casually kill someone just for annoying them. You, Marty Gulbranson, are the only one to do that, to risk destroying an entire dimension because you want to remold it in your own image. Everyone else I've fought had their faults, but they were at their core decent people. You are an irredeemable scumbag. And there's no way I'm going to lose to you."
Writers Suck: Several of the characters openly express this opinion of not only writers in general, but their own writers in particular.
Your Days Are Numbered: Helena finds out from Death himself that if she succeeds in getting home to her story, she is scripted to die.
Your Universe or Mine?: Subverted in both iterations of the final. In Helena and Saiph's version, Saiph begs Helena to stay with him in Medium, but she can't do it because it would mean the death of her story. In Marty's version, she does stay in Medium, but Saiph is dead so they still aren't together.
0% Approval Rating: In spite of the fact that Omer was hardly popular as a leader, no one was really happy about Marty taking over Medium.
Aaron The teenage militia soldier in an orange overcoat.