(or at least a dedicated commercial space outfitted as a studio)
, rather than Walker's basement as the Nostalgia Critic was.The story revolves around Donnie DuPre (played by Walker), the founder of an independent film studio called "Demo Reel", who believes he can not only remake famous movies, but also make them better. This is debatable. He is joined by Rebecca Stoné (pronounced "stone"; the accent is silent), a scatter-brained actress; Tacoma Narrows, an up-and-coming writer who is the only one taking the job seriously; and cameraman Karl Copenhagen and make-up artist "Quinn", East German and Irish nationals respectively.It premiered on October 30th, 2012. Watch the two-part first episode here and here. The series was completed on January 22nd, 2013, where in "The Review Must Go On", Donnie was revealed to be the Nostalgia Critic in a sort of purgatory following To Boldly Flee, and Doug will once again do the Nostalgia Critic full-time, but now with a new review every two weeks, and editorials inbetween.
Taken to an absurd extent in the "Wreck-It Ralph" episode, thanks to Tacoma being sick with vampire bird flu and Rebecca running around on a sugar/amphetamine high, leaving Donnie to have to fill all the parts
In the Skyfall parody, Donnie plays James Bond and a random mook via green screen in the same shot.
Rob Paulsen is depicted as so sick of doing "Yakko's World" that he uses cheap tricks to escape crazed fans requesting he sing it. Though, given how Donnie is, it could just be a facade. Paulsen in reality is worried for the day people stop asking him to sing it.
Doug, Lewis, and Lindsay in The Review Must Go On: Doug's slightly crazy and self conscious about his decisions, Lewis is crazy and believes that Pollo and others are real, and Lindsay is willing to send Nella out to kill Doug, just so she can keep the Nostalgia domain.
Adult Child: The patriarch of the family that took Donnie captive in "Blue Patches". Not only has he passed on his childish obsession with Donnie to his wife and daughter, but he wears sock monkey-themed pajamas and sleeps with his wife in a bed that uses Sponge Bob Square Pants pillowcases.
Arc Number: 42. Rebecca has had 42 jobs and Donnie claims to be 42 years old.
Aerith and Bob: Tacoma is pretty unusual for a series that names the rest of its cast things like Donnie/ Jimmy, Rebecca and Karl.
Ambiguous Situation: It's left unclear if Donnie is lying about the pre-nup/family deal because he doesn't want to talk about his mom, or if it's true and his life is even more of a Deus Angst Machina.
An Aesop: “The past can often be awful, but don't let it consume you.”
Aside Glance: Donnie looks faintly guilty at the "Writer-Cinematographer-Director-Actress-Caterers" picture where he's wearing lipstick.
Audio Erotica: In-movie, Harvey's smooth-talking voice makes Rachel orgasm even when she knows they're about to die.
During the Lost in Translation episode, at least three cosplayers find Karl's manner of speech to be this:
Listen to me, Herr Director; grow an accent.
Author Appeal: With Doug's taste for dominant women, it's no surprise that Rebecca gets to handle a lot of huge guns.
Behind the Black: When Donnie chases Rob Paulsen to get him to sing "Yakko's World" for him, Rob "hides" in the middle of open hallways by standing where the camera won't see him, even standing right in front of Donnie while Donnie has the camera pointed at himself.
Bilingual Bonus: "Stunad", according to Rachel, means the "bimbo who takes the heat if the [mob] organization is found out". In addition, Carl will often slip back into speaking untranslated German.
Blatant Lies: Originally, Tacoma saying he respects Donnie as an artist. He doesn't at that point. By the beginning of "Lost In Translation", he admits Donnie's idea of remaking the film at an anime con is brilliant.
Hinted at through his Stepford Smiler tone, Donnie's opening spiel about doing Demo Reel so he can get fame and fortune in Hollywood. Everyone finds out later that he wants to get back at the industry, not be a part of it.
Breaking the Fellowship: Donnie leaves Tacoma and Rebecca at the beginning of episode three. This doesn't turn out well for him at all, and it doesn't take any of them long to miss each other.
Brick Joke: In the first part of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising" Tacoma complains about their goals by saying "most people need a flow chart to understand the plot of one Nolan movie.". After the Shocking Swerve filled climax, Tacoma (as two-face) presents a flow chart of all the plot twists in the TDKBR as Batman, Catwoman, and Bane watch in confusion.
During the Blair Witch Hangover Karl leaves an answering machine message threatening Quinn if he finds out he has been drinking without him. At the very end of Blue Patches Karl finds out that the studio’s “bottomless supply of Irish Whisky” has run dry:
Karl: *Beat* QUINN!!
Broken Aesop: After the result of The Review Must Go On, Blue Patches's message of "you can't let your past consume you and you need to be excited for the future" is more than a touch awkward.
Broke The Rating Scale: The movie Jingle Sell was garnering a 0.2/10 rating on IMDB which is impossible as the lowest score anyone can give is 1/10.
Buffy Speak: They take perfect films and make them even more perfectier.
Donnie just does this a lot. Played for ditzy laughs in “The Dark Knight Begins Rising”, but gets a bit sadder when he's trying to connect again with his wife. He's well aware that it makes him sound stupid.
Canon Discontinuity: The second episode, "Transformers" became this after its ptremiere was pulled and the show underwent its retool.
Cerebus Syndrome: Possibly the fastest case of this in history; the episodes following the light-hearted first one are a lot darker and more emotional. Made deliberately it seems, from Doug skipping a week of updates to revise and refilm Episode 2.
Lampshaded by Quinn who, after watching a depressing conversation between Tacoma and Rebecca, tells them he's going to watch Angela's Ashes so he can remember how to laugh again.
Things get even darker in The Review Must Go On, where Demo Reel and its entire cast are revealed to be part of a kind of purgatory conjured up to torture the Nostalgia Critic.
Chained to a Bed: Medical variant. The family in "Blue Patches" keep Donnie helpless and lying down by feeding him muscle relaxants.
Character Focus: While they include insights on everyone, episodes so far have had one main character; episode one had Tacoma's need for Donnie to pay attention to his ideas, episode two gave some insight to Rebecca's Dark and Troubled Past, and episode three analyzed Donnie's heavy damage.
Chekhov's Gun: Tacoma's investigative journalism background gets introduced in episode two, and in episode three he uses it to find out Donnie has no public records.
Christmas Episode: "The Blair Witch Hangover" was released Christmas Eve, and involves Hollywood sexism, scary woods, a painful cliffhanger and Donnie really badly missing his mother. Fun for everyone!
Contrived Coincidence: Sure is lucky that Doug got “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green” instead of “The Odd Couple” during his Demo Reel writer's block, and that the guy on the other end was a douche.
Corpsing: You can see Rachel starting to crack up after her "peaches are fuzzy" line in episode two.
You can also see her strain really hard not to laugh behind her hands at Donnie's Thanksgiving prayer.
Critical Research Failure:invoked In-universe, The Dark Knight Rises is mocked for Bruce leaving the other prisoners to rot after escaping the pit. He actually throws a rope down to the other prisoners right after. The Skyfall parody mocks that Bond did not simply kill Silva and his two guards when he was ordered to shoot the glass of scotch off of Severine's head. However, the reason Bond didn't do this in the film itself is because he was given a Flintlock Pistol, which has only one shot per round. However, mistakes and flubs like these can be attributed to Donnie's terrible directing.
Dark Reprise: Of all things, the Pokemon theme song. The first time is with Uncle Yo, where Donnie's just euphoric at these people giving him love. But the second time is with Egoraptor after Yo is mad at him, and he just looks like he wants to hide in a corner.
Dark and Troubled Past: Cameraman Karl Copenhagen, a secretive East German who Donnie says used to work for somebody named "Stasi". Also Karl's assisstant cameraman Quinn who, as he puts it, "didn't work for the IRA". It's best to take his word for it.
Deus Angst Machina: Donnie's entire life: his dad left when he was little, his mom killed herself while he was filming a movie and so he gave his worst performance ever, he got so abused by strangers because of it that he disappeared from Hollywood and changed his name, he got married to a woman that doesn't love him, he was excluded from his remaining family, he tried remaking movies to get back at the system but they always failed, held out hope that things would get better only to be told (as gently as possible by Tacoma and Rebecca, and bluntly by Quinn and Karl) that he would always suck, sunk into depression at a con, got over that but got kidnapped at gunpoint, was left in the woods to starve or get killed, was held captive by a yandere family who loved seeing him in pain, got out of that with restored confidence but soon his friends started disappearing one by one and making him think he needed to be committed, finds out that all of that was a waste of time because he's just someone else who needed punishment in purgatory, loses all his friends once again for "the greater good", and turns back into being the Critic.
Deliberately Monochrome: The behind the scenes footage. Only seems to apply in the studio though; all other locations are in color.
Description Cut: Played for Drama in “The Blair Witch Hangover”, with Donnie wanting his friends to give the eulogy at his funeral as “no doubt [they] were the only people concerned when [he] was missing”. Cut the two having drunken fun.
Disproportionate Retribution: Having your corporation be threatened isn't really an excuse for kidnapping someone and leaving them to either get killed or die slowly from starvation.
Dramedy: Settles into the genre at about episode three.
Drowning My Sorrows: A common pastime. Donnie has wine glasses and brandy snifters all over his office, it's Quinn's solution for everything, Karl gets even more threatening when he's denied his booze while having to look for a certain kidnapped director, Rebecca turns out to be a Lady Drunk, and while Tacoma initially disapproves of alcohol to numb the pain, he quickly joins in with the drinking.
Dull Surprise: Doug as the Plot Hole in “The Review Must Go On” might have been going for wise, but just comes off bored. What's amusing is that he's acting against himself, and Doug-as-Donnie is acting his fine ass off.
Dying Alone: Whether the final part of Donnie dies in the Critic room or in the Plot Hole, he has nobody left at either point. It would have been kinder if he just died in the forest like he was planning on doing.
DysfunctionalTrue Companions: Episode 2 set the team up as this. They're all outcasts in their individual families and managed to form a tight knit with one another.
Early Installment Weirdness: While there's hints that he's putting on a brave-if-sociopathic face, it's a little difficult to meld Donnie's episode one speech about sucking up his wife's money "for women's lib" to the phone call in episode three where his desperate attempts at improving his marriage fail miserably.
Easily Forgiven: As nice as it is, the real second episode being missing makes Tacoma's sweetness to Donnie in "Wreck It Ralph vs. Angry Birds" a little weird as it comes right after screaming at him for ruining the Batman ending.
Everyone Is Bi: Apart from Rebecca (as there was no other girl she could hang out with), everyone had at least one moment full of Homoerotic Subtext. Some more than others, Donnie.
Everyone Has Standards: The rest of S.W.A.G. is horrified to find out what the head of the organization did to Donnie (kidnapped at gunpoint and dumped in the woods to die).
Donnie promised that the audience wouldn't see what Alfred sees in the end of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising".
Face Framed In Shadow: Used to creepy effect on both Critic and Doug in “The Review Must Go On”. Donnie on the other hand is always completely in the light.
False Reassurance: Quinn tells a very scared, very tearful about-to-die Donnie that he'll know where to find them, implying that any of the characters will be around in some capacity. Turns out he was lying; Rachel, Malcolm and Rob have all confirmed everyone is dead.
Donnie outright wanting Slash Fic of him seemed like a very obvious way of increasing the already large female audience.
With Donnie's huge tendencies towards cuddly bromance, Tacoma and Quinn in tight muscle shirts; the former also in a dress, Karl's accent, Rebecca being a relatable badass, plus all the angst, Ship Tease and sexism-in-Hollywood commentary, Demo Reel was probably the most female-aimed show Doug had.
Foreshadowing: While Donnie is talking about his wife in episode one, there's a long, focused shot of him in black and white footage looking alone and utterly miserable, hinting for the second episode that he's not telling the truth about being Happily Married.
Rebecca is pretty happy-go-lucky and bouncy in the first episode, all except for the two scenes where Donnie unintentionally snaps at her and makes her feel stupid, then she gets cold and snarky. She may have accepted people thinking she's a dumbass at first, but she still hates it.
In Donnie's last scene for episode one, check out the empty wine glass by the computer. Almost everyone being alcoholics will get more focus later.
Mara Wilson as Donnie's wife in episode three winds up for the reveal of his backstory: she's a Former Child Star whose mother died while she was filming Matilda and still gets hate for her bad performances, while he's a Former Child Star whose mother killed herself while he was filming and he gave bad performances which people hated him for, and so he changed his name to stop the abuse.
Donnie goes from grudging about Tacoma's ending to relieved when he hears him complain about the finale of The Dark Knight Rises.
Donnie sounding like he's going to cry when he tries to explain why he loves his favorite movie seems weird at first, but is totally justified once you find out who was in it.
Donnie wanting to remake movies better ever since he was a kid, and how Hollywood has it coming if he actually destroys them.
Donnie wouldn't be able to have loads of answers to open-ended movie finales if he didn't know the inside workings of Hollywood.
Rebecca complaining that she's in her early twenties and her career already seems going down the drain makes the parallel between her and Donnie's mom clear.
Friendship Moment: In the first episode, Donnie showing Tacoma and Rebecca how to do the perfect Bane impression. In the second, sharing a ready-made thanksgiving dinner after killing a renegade vampire turkey.
Karl and Quinn get a few in the second episode, including fond reminiscing of many a Noodle Incident.
Gainax Ending: "The Review Must Go On" was very dark, with Donnie terrified with all his friends are disappearing, a threatening Critic forcing a miserable Doug into bringing him back, lots of creepy angle shots, Donnie finding out that his horrible life has just been punishment for someone else and having to leave his family and friends in the purgatory created by the Plot Hole. But happy rocky instrumental music for the last few minutes, so yay?
Uncle Yo: [very hungover] Hey, Donnie. How come you want to make movies if all you do is criticize them?
Donnie: [also hungover but not quite as bad] Well, in my opinion, Hollywood's got it coming.
Uncle Yo: So, this is an independent filmmakers crusade against Hollywood? Have you ever tried going out there?
Donnie: I don't need to. I know there's bad stuff out there.
Uncle Yo: What, like an ex?
Donnie: Just bad stuff. Everything I've heard about Hollywood has never been good. You know, they make these movies, they're supposed to make you feel really good, and make you escape the pains of your real life, but when you go to Hollywood, the pain is there. It's always there and Hollywood never lets you forget that.
For the fourth episode, Rebecca gets a big, insightful speech about the shoddy treatment of actresses in the industry.
Less explicit than the other two, but Tacoma realizes that black actors tend to get the shaft, and so tries to act more politically correct to not get in trouble.
I Have Your Wife: Subverted. Tom Collins gets really slimy on the phone to Tacoma, and makes him think something awful will happen to Rebecca (who's alone at the warehouse), but in reality, he's the one who gets beaten up on the way there and she's fine.
I Need a Freaking Drink: Kinder than most, but Uncle Yo still immediately asks for alcohol after a not-totally-sober Donnie introduces himself with “to make your poop rocky, do it with pocky”.
In Medias Res: "The Blair Witch Hangover" starts off with Tacoma apologizing to Donnie and saying they "get it now". Because he and Rebecca got stinking drunk, neither they or the audience get what he's talking about until the next episode.
Ironic Echo: In "Wreck It Ralph vs. Angry Birds", Tacoma tells a despondent Rebecca that at least she's not hurting anyone by acting in a company that makes bad movies but has fun doing it. In "Blue Patches", Donnie numbly rants that he had fun acting, wasn't hurting anyone and didn't know why people hated him so much.
When he's getting told everything about what he really is, Donnie has the same beaten down puppy face as Critic did when he realized he was just a character in To Boldly Flee, and faces the Plot Hole in the same way too. Only instead of getting a You Are Better Than You Think You Are boost and being at peace having saved the world, he's been torn down completely and his fate is losing himself.
In To Boldly Flee, Critic started to get hints that he was just a character, heard a sound, got scared, it turned out to be Doug and they had a sweetly calm if intense conversation. In "The Review Must Go On", Doug is having writer's block, sees shadows on his walls, and Critic carries on messing with him with almost sadist delight.
Irony: The most grounded show on the site, where abused turkeys make up a plot instead of evil teddy bears, where people are exhausted after badass moments, where if someone feels like they're going crazy they seek help, is a purgatory where nothing is real.
I Want My Mommy: Dramatic version. When spending too much time in the forest breaks Donnie, he reminisces over how bright and happy his Mom used to be and begs for some of the hope she always had. Made even darker when it's revealed she committed suicide because her acting career was in decline
Jekyll and Hyde: In an interview, Doug referred to "The Review Must Go On" as an updated version of the tale where Hyde wins.
Kick the Dog: The SWAG guys who kidnap Donnie evidently forced him out of his warm-looking jacket, as he's wearing it in the car but is only in two light shirts when he wakes up in the forest.
Knight of Cerebus: She's not a villain, but any time Donnie's mom gets brought up, the scene turns ridiculously depressing.
Laser-Guided Karma: After Donnie is restored to his former life as The Nostalgia Critic he chooses Douchie McNitpick to enter the plot hole and stabilize the Awesomeverse where he is then given the Sisyphean task of finding and fixing all the little flaws of the kind he used to enjoy pointing out to the Critic.
Left Hanging: For one, more details on Donnie's marriage and what he did to make it fail would have been nice.
Like Mother Like Son: Donnie's life parallels his mother's. She was a star and Wide-Eyed Idealist until her husband walked out on her and her son. The roles dried up with nobody wanting her because she was middle-aged, and she battled depression until she killed herself. Donnie was a small star for a while, but even though he fell after the death and got abused, still kept his optimism. We see him when he's apparently 42, his marriage is failing and he hits depression at “Lost In Translation”. Then not even the universe wants him around and he dies, having been told he never existed anyway.
Lighter and Softer: Donnie's remakes compared to the originals. Nobody ever dies in them, and if they do, they come back in ways that don't make sense.
Lonely Together: The reason why the cast became friends. Nobody else wanted (or respected, in Rebecca's case) them, so they banded together instead. It's sweeter than it sounds.
Lowest Common Denominator: In-universe, because Donnie has very little knowledge of geek culture but wants to pretend he does, he vetoes Tacoma's suggested movies of things like Wuthering Heights in favor of trying to pander to the mainstream.
The Mafia: The warehouse that Rebecca works in as a security guard is mob controlled. DuPre's and company do not notice this as being a problem, especially where there's a murder happening in the next room over.
Men use Violence, Women use Communication: Subverted. A pissed off Rebecca tries to beat the SWAG leader to death, and when Tacoma does his best to stop her because "they need a verifiable mugshot", she throws him off.
Metafiction: "The Review Must Go On", so very, very much.
Meta Guy: Uncle Yo takes on the role in episode three, asking Donnie the fan complaint of why he made a movie parodying Batman if all he wanted to do was point out the flaws.
Missing Episode: Doug pulled the intended second episode, despite thinking it was very funny, because he saw it as largely the show spinning its wheels and focused purely on the jokes, when he wanted to have a stronger narrative progression. He still thinks it's good enough to see release somewhere down the line, though.
Mood Whiplash: Episode five starts off fairly easy, with Rebecca and Tacoma finding out that Donnie's a terrible Former Child Star and planning to tease him mercilessly, while Donnie wakes up with a crazy-but-initially-amusing family of fans. But then we find out Donnie's mother killed herself while he was filming the movie he's having to watch with the family and every bit of humor dissipates.
Until Rebecca gets so drunk she's talking about Uncle Frank in a fond way, "The Blair Witch Hangover" regularly went from her and Tacoma being the happiest they've ever been partying with booze, to Donnie alone and experiencing epic Break the Cutie in the woods.
More seriously, Tacoma telling Donnie that he's destroying the things he loves brings to mind Critic's breakdown in To Boldly Flee about everything he does having a negative impact on someone.
In the "credits" for Donnie's version of The Sixth Sense, the music is apparently being performed by Randy Newman- or more accurately, Doug doing a horrible impression of Randy Newman. Doug has openly admitted several times to hating Newman's work, and a minor running joke in the Nostalgia Critic involved him doing a similarly horrible impression of Randy Newman singing songs on mundane things like foxes looking at bags or officers stuttering in front of ladies.
Narrative Filigree: For instance, in one shot of "The Dark Knight Begins Rising", a game of Risk is prominently displayed in the background. What does it have to do with what's going on? Nothing at all, these characters are just dorky.
Nice Guys Finish Last: Rebecca, Quinn and Tacoma all get erased in “The Review Must Go On” immediately after they have a moment of trying to show Donnie that they love him. And then there's Donnie himself, who was nicer than Critic even in his later days, but still has to give up his life.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Donnie DuPre was born Jimmy Boyd, a parody of Jake Lloyd. His mother, Elissa Hoffman is a reference to A Patch of Blue star Elizabeth Hartman who died in a similar manner. Because of this, there's a clear influence of Mara Wilson, whose mother died of cancer during filming of Matilda, in his backstory.
Never Trust a Trailer: The scene in the trailer of Bane and Batman talking gibberish is nowhere in the hour-long premiere.
Non-Indicative First Episode: Thanks to a retool following the premiere episode, an amusing parody of Batman doesn't exactly cry out that they're later going to be dealing with abusive pasts, the many problems of Hollywood and maternal suicide.
Nothing Is Scarier: We don't see what was in the woods with Donnie in "The Blair Witch Hangover" until the next episode. Until then all we know is that something was giggling and howling and something knocked him out at the end.
The fact that we never see the mysterious little girl from the front (or for more than a couple seconds at a time) makes her a lot creepier, as well.
Also works to make SWAG more threatening. Until the ending, the leader was only seen as a white silhouette on a black wall, the minions who try and freak out Tacoma and Rebecca all wear masks, and who knows how many people were in the car with Donnie.
Critic's first “appearance” in The Review Must Go On. He's a shadow just lurking behind the corner, and when Doug notices, he rushes off. Of course his behavior is still terrifying when we do see him.
Oh Crap: Tom Collins' reaction to finding Donnie alive and pissed.
Donnie knew he was in deep shit when he woke up with bottles in his hand and Egoraptor sleeping next to him instead of Uncle Yo. His groan when he'd remembered everything certainly sounds like this situation has happened before.
Please Don't Leave Me: Inverted. Twice, Donnie has to be forced to leave by someone who has more right to feel that way than he does: a sick Tacoma suffering from vampiric bird flu, and the whole team when they're about to fade away forever in the Plot Hole.
Prayer Is a Last Resort: Donnie calls it the final act of desperation after eating leaves, drinking urine and committing possum-cide. When it doesn't seem to work he tries praying to Satan, which also doesn't work.
Precision F-Strike: As the stronger swear words in the show are usually bleeped out, Donnie telling the father how fucking sorry he is that he couldn't give a good performance after just finding out that his mother died packs more punch.
Primal Fear: Donnie Hates Being Alone and has a history of Sanity Slippage with a destroyed dead mom to boot. So what happens in "The Review Must Go On"? All his friends start disappearing (for extra pain points, Tacoma does right after he says he'll stay until the ambulance comes) and anyone who's left doesn't even remember the person existing.
The Catwoman costume Rebecca wears in The Dark Knight Begins Rising (as Anne Hathaway's portrayal) is later reused when Rachel plays Michelle Pfeiffer in the Nostalgia CriticFilm/Catwoman review.
Quit Your Whining: In a rather gentle way considering what he's like, Karl tries to get Donnie out of his depression at the con and make the movie he wanted.
Karl: Are you going to film this movie or what?
Donnie: What’s the point? You heard Rebecca and Tacoma. They’re not gonna like it anyway...
Karl: As if that has ever stopped you.
Reality Ensues: As it turns out, your co workers will be not be happy to stay around your business, when you do things like kidnap a rival production's director/owner, and abandon him in the woods.
After escaping from the yandere family and having a big badass moment with the SWAG leader, Donnie's exhausted. As most people would be, even if they hadn't been kidnapped twice.
When Donnie thinks he's going crazy in "The Review Must Go On", he tells his remaining friends so they can try and help him, and an ambulance is called so that he can get better in a mental home.
Only a little bit of reality as it doesn't kill him like it should/he wanted, but after, y'know, taking a load of tranquillizers, Doug's sleeping and upon waking up rubbing his head painfully like he'd passed out.
Reality Subtext: Donnie wants Slash Fic about him. If you're up to date on your fandom, you'll know Doug and his characters combined practically own the slash-heavy Kink Meme, and Doug has given every delighted blessing for this fact.
In-universe, Tacoma wrote the perfect Wreck It Ralph speech because it summed up his family situation. Donnie, same thing, proving he can act if the words mean anything to him.
The film Donnie's mother starred in, Blue Patches, resembles A Patch Of Blue right down to her name sounding like the actress in the latter movie, who also committed suicide later over the claim that "Hollywood destroyed her." Not coincidentally, said actress also voiced Mrs. Brisby in The Secret of NIMH, Doug's favorite animated film.
Real Men Hate Affection: Shamelessly averted, as while Donnie, Tacoma and Uncle Yo don't fit the "real man" stereotype so cuddle tons, Quinn and Karl do, and there's still a sweet moment in "Wreck It Ralph vs Angry Birds" where Karl holds Quinn's hand when he's sick.
Reason You Suck Speech: Donnie gives an epic one to the Yandere family after he finds out that they've been keeping him captive by dosing him with muscle relaxants.
Donnie: You people! You never mean anything by it when you really think about it; it’s when you don’t think about it that your inner dicks come out!
Retcon: Watch To Boldly Flee and it's made clear that Critic's sacrificing his life half because he wanted to and half for his friends. "The Review Must Go On" tries to have us believe it was just for the sake of the plot only.
Word Of God even confirmed in the TBF commentary that Critic made sure he died a martyr by putting on a Jerkass Façade so the others wouldn't care. Now the tune is changed and he "couldn't handle the paradox of his own martyrdom".
Revenge: The bad movies Donnie makes are a passive-aggressive way of getting back at Hollywood for destroying his mommy.
Right for the Wrong Reasons: Uncle Yo assumes that Donnie's being a brat about Hollywood because his mom told him not to go there. He's on the correct lines, but the truth is far more painful.
Turns out that Doug was being overly optimistic about workload again when he said we'd get a new Demo Reel-related thing every week. The "extras" idea was dropped after Donnie bothered Robert Paulsen to focus on the episodes, and Rachel said it'll work like a sitcom, with seasons and breaks instead an ongoing-forever webshow.
Self-Deprecation: Donnie talks about how making videos on the internet doesn't bring in much money (no money actually), so he has to get support from his wife.
Doug writes himself as fairly awful and pitiful in “The Review Must Go On”, as he falls over getting the garbage out, is nostalgic for the Critic after months of bragging about To Boldly Flee being the perfect ending, rants like a crazy person in his room after watching the movie, is broken down by Critic's creepy to the point where he's taking enough pills “to kill a baby rhino”, gets his own heartwarming words about said character evolving twisted around, falls into the same trap with Lindsay as Critic did with Chick in Kickassia, has Donnie act like the Creator's words are coming from a hack, and forces Douchey to be the Plot Hole.
Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: PG version. Bane's henchmen in-movie (played by Doug/Donnie and Rachel/Rebecca) wear eyeliner, carry guns and show off more skin with a tight black t-shirt and sleeveless black top respectively. They obviously don't do this as any other character.
Ship Tease: Loads between the three mains. Donnie and Tacoma share held gazes a-plenty, Donnie "flirts" with Rebecca saying she should shave her head, and Rebecca acts like a Violently Protective Girlfriend when she sees Tacoma is sick from the vampire bird flu while he... tries to protect her likewise.
Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Donnie, with all his good intentions and heartbreaking backstory, is just a punishment Purgatory devised for Critic being an asshole. And the rest? They're just part of the Plot Hole now, never to be seen again.
Shout Out: Donnie Du Pre is named after Don Dupree, a producer of Siskel and Ebert and The Movies.
In the first episode, Tacoma mentions to Donnie that they can't make an ending where it is revealed that Batman is an alien from Zeist
Signature Line: Fans joke that Quinn's response to Tacoma and Rebecca's angst - "My God this is depressing, and I'm Irish! I'm gonna have to put on Angela's Ashes, just so I can remember what it's like to laugh again." - is a good summation of the series in general.
Social Services Does Not Exist: The producers of “Jingle Sells” didn't care one bit about Jimmy's mental state after his only guardian killed herself, making him still shoot scenes with fake parents and not wanting it to be talked about as it would “dampen the mood”.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Quirky, waltz-like music plays over Tacoma and Rebecca getting completely rejected by their parents.
Space Whale Aesop: "The Review Must Go On". Writers, don't abuse your characters and then kindly break the fourth wall telling them they're important, they'll just for whatever reason go insane and make your life hell.
Spell My Name with an S: In Episode 1, we see the cameraman's name written on-screen as "Carl". In "The Review Must Go On", we see Doug's script writing it as "Karl".
The Stasi: Karl's former job "before the wall fell"
Stepford Suburbia: On a familial level, the Yandere family that finds Donnie (Adam, Jill and Liz); they seem sweet if eccentric. Then you find out they are holding Donnie captive by feeding him muscle relaxants.
Sympathy for the Devil: Liz. She's a Creepy Child, laughed at Donnie when he was scared or wanting to die, has even less boundaries with him than her parents do, and like them doesn't learn anything, but her dad blames her for everything and no wonder she acts like a little demon when she has them to look up to.
Throw It In: Basically happens everytime. Donnie keeps adding details to the script to justify their resources like "The character grew a goatee" or "One-glove Batman", and the list keeps getting bigger.
The actress rant in episode four was half written by the Walkers, half improvised by Rachel because of her own experiences in the industry.
The moonwalking in episode two and the "I speak cat" scene in episode one were also both improvised by Rachel. For the latter, speaking cat was actually the thing that got her the role in the first place, and Rob just asked her to do it again for the ep.
True Companions: The cast and crew are closer to each other than their real family....which shouldn't be too hard because Tacoma, Donnie and Rebecca families all hate them.
Unfortunate Implications: DiscussedIn-Universe. Donnie had Tacoma play in the Dark Knight episode, 1) Alfred, a butler, 2) the Joker, a madman that seeks the dissolution of society, and 3) Harvey Dent/Two Face, Bruce's romantic rival that "steals" Dawes from Batman, and 4) Bane. In other words, all of his roles are evil except the one that's servile.
Tacoma is worried about wearing white-face for his Joker role until Rebecca points this out; he then declares that "you Crackers have it coming."
"Blue Patches" for The Reveal of Donnie's backstory, his realizing that he can't obsess over the past anymore, Tacoma and Rebecca proving once and for all that they have talent, and the SWAG leader going insane.
Wham Line: "Donnie DuPre... does not exist. No birth certificate. No records."
"All our hopes rest on the Nostalgia Critic."
"Donnie DuPre looks up and sees the Plot Hole."
Wham Shot: The newspaper headline in "Blue Patches". Nominated Star Leaves Behind Legacy, Son.
What Did I Do Last Night?: Donnie goes straight from a flirting introduction with Egoraptor to waking up sprawled out on his bed with more booze in his hand. He gets what happened pretty quickly though, as his Oh Crap reaction to seeing not-Uncle Yo in the other bed shows.
What the Hell, Hero?: Carl briefly but firmly calls out Tacoma and Rebecca for prying into Donnie's personal life.
Lewis is exasperated when he asks Doug why on earth he watched “The Odd Life Of Timothy Green”. Doug doesn't answer and changes the subject.
Donnie has a breakdown aimed at the Creator over how awful his life has been. The Creator is not sympathetic.
What You Are in the Dark: Because he doesn't want to let the past torture him anymore, Donnie refuses to hurt the family or become what they are. He even chides himself for being unfair to them after rambling that they should stay in the corner and not blink.
A World Half Full: The show can go to some really dark places, and you'll be disappointed if you're expecting a comedy, but our heroes are good people, learn from their mistakes and stick together because they love each other.