Web Video: Marble Hornets
A little bit down the road we saw this really tall guy standing in the middle of the street, just completely still. For whatever reason, this really set off Rocky, and, um, he got really scared — he wouldn't move and he kept on pulling on his leash to go back home. There was something about this guy that was just... it was strange.Marble Hornets
is an Alternate Reality Urban Fantasy
web series following discoveries made while looking through raw footage of a trite student film. Marble Hornets
was instrumental in codifying parts of The Slender Man Mythos
, but is not part of the Intercontinuity Crossover
that includes many of the blogs and vlogs that followed it, although MH does feature in other canons as either a chronicle of real events or a fictional series... it leads to some confusion. The movie appears to have started in this post
from the original Slender Man thread on the Something Awful
In 2006, film student Alex Kralie suddenly abandons his movie Marble Hornets
in the midst of production, swearing to burn the tapes and never speak of it again. Alex's friend Jay rescues the taped material and, years later, begins reviewing them
, only to realize too late why the film shoot was abandoned and that by digging it up again he may have reawakened sinister forces.
Jay's YouTube account
chronicles material from the tapes and, increasingly, the bizarre and frightening events of his own life. A Twitter page
was added some time later. Since Entry #9, he's noted a guy named 'totheark' responding to almost each entry
, adding a whole new level to the scary. The series concluded with Entry #87, released exactly five years after the first video.
Has a fan run wiki
with commentary, a timeline
, and transcripts of all the entries. Both the first and second seasons
are also available on DVD, with the third and final season DVD coming soon.
As of February 25th 2013, it's getting a big screen adaptation
This series provides examples of:
- Abandoned Area: Plenty of them:
- Abandoned Hospital: A place Tim introduced Alex to, an old clinic which suffered a fire and was left to rot. It was to be used for shots of an abandoned school building in the Marble Hornets film they were making. It plays a big role in Season 2 and Season 3. Entry #66 reveals that Tim was a patient there as a child.
- Abandoned Playground: Entry #4 has Alex running through a playground at night, running away from the Operator... or seeking him out, complete with spooky swinging swing set and seesaws that move when Alex isn't looking. Entry #70 features the same playground.
- Old School Building: Entry #79 introduces one. Jay notes that it isn't completely abandoned, as he's seen a few people around, but some of the buildings don't seem to be being used anymore, most notably Benedict Hall, the film department which was destroyed in a flood.
- Action Survivor: Alex reacts calmly and rationally when he encounters the Operator in #26, compared to most people's (perfectly understandable) reaction of freaking out. This is not a good thing.
- Adorkable: Alex in Entry #84.
- Tim in the same entry. He spends most of the time hanging out in the background trying to not draw attention to himself.
- Affectionate Parody:
- Alien Geometries:
- One explanation of what is happening in Entry #23, where Jay visits the house from previous entries and finds that doors lead to most unexpected places.
- Entry #24 shows Jay in his apartment, having set up cameras in every room; he opens a door, steps through and doesn't appear on the other side.
- Also prevalent in Entry #83, when Tim is chasing down The Hooded Man. Almost every time his camera glitches and distorts they wind up in a different location from the series thus far, including the tunnel and woods in general from Rosswood, the abandoned hospital, Tim's house, and various others. Its even framed in such a way as to make it seem that Tim himself is causing them by either stumbling over something into a new location or opening a door/entryway and winding up somewhere new. It's either this trope or The Operator pulling a Teleport Spam.
- All The Worlds Are A Stage: In a rare non-videogame example, #83 is sort of this. Tim's chase with Hoodie goes through some of the locations visited in the third season; the torched hospital, the college buildings, the parking lot from #63, Rosswood, and Tim's house. All done via what seems to be Operator teleportation and a heaping helping of Mind Screw.
- Always Night: Jay tries to avert this in Entry #23 by going to the creepy abandoned house during the day, but somehow it's night by the time he comes out. In one of his tweets, Jay says he's going to "have a look around while it's still light out." The poor boy just doesn't learn. By #63, he's clearly sick of it - "So we really couldn't have met during the day? We gotta...meet under a streetlight, make it all dramatic?"
- Ambiguous Ending: Entry #87. Jay, Alex, and Brian are dead and while Jessica appears to still be alive, Tim is leaving town. He approaches a two-way intersection and the camera feed cuts to black showing the words, "Everything is fine."
- Anachronic Order: The entries for Season 1 are cut from hundreds of unmarked tapes, as well as Jay's own new recordings. Most of Jay's tapes from the missing seven months in Season 2 are labelled, averting the trope. There are still some exceptions, like Entry #38, which come from unlabelled tapes.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different:
- totheark's weird diatribes form a bizarre counterpoint to Jay.
- In Season 2, the Entries swap between Jay and Alex's viewpoints.
- Some videos have appeared that were not filmed by Jay or Alex at all. These include the Hooded Masked Man in Entry #41, and Brian briefly picking up Alex's camera when he disappears in Entry #51.
- And now in Season 3 the point of view switches between Jay's, Tim's, and even totheark's.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: In Entry #38, Jay gives Alex shit for telling him a crummy ghost story.
- Arc Symbol: The Operator symbol◊, a crossed-out circle.
- Arc Words:
- totheark's videos often reference the enigmatic 'ark'.
- Season three regularly revisits the phrase 'He is a liar'.
- totheark uses the word 'Regards' at least three times in his videos.
- The Artifact: The "totheark responds to every video" theme, post-Season 1. Initially, they were there to draw ominous attention to the possibility that things might not be so done-and-over-with as Jay initially thought but Jay has already known since late in Season 1 the dangers of what he's working with, so unless it's a hefty Wham Episode, totheark's "ominous warnings" mostly revolve around something to the effect of "YOU ARE BROKEN" or "Alex is going to kill everything!" and don't really impact the plot or characters at all. On twitter, Jay has long stopped commenting on them other than "totheark responded again (Youtube link)" unless, again, it's a Wham Episode and/or totheark directly meddles in something.
- Artifact Title: Almost everything after the first season has nothing to do with the movie, but rather continues the story set up in earlier videos. Though Tim gives Jay more tapes of test footage in season three, they only make up four entries.
- Back for the Dead:
- In Entry 51, Brian returns in order to be shown being presumably killed off by Alex. Subverted because Brian was not actually killed off.
- In Entry 76, Jessica returns in order to be presumably killed off by The Operator after being led to him by Alex. However, similar to the above entry, it's subverted because she wasn't actually killed off.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: The Operator, although whether it's a suit or if it's some part of his biology is currently unknown.
- Being Watched: This trope is the calling card of many of Marble Hornet's characters, most notably The Operator, who is seen numerous times watching through windows, around corners, in small tunnels, in forests and fields...
- Big Bad: The Operator of course, though Alex is often treated as the greater threat by the characters. Depending on his true motives and alignment, the Hooded Man may also qualify.
- Big Damn Heroes:
- The Masked Man pulls this off for Jay and Jessica in Entry #52 when he stops Alex from shooting them.
- Jay attempts one in Entry #61 when he learns that Tim has once again become the Masked Man. Jay immediately rushes off to try and help him. All it gets him is another unpleasant encounter with the Masked Man in the next entry.
- Entry #76: Alex is holding Jessica at gunpoint when Hoody comes flying in (form the Operator's end of the tunnel, no less) and proceeds to tackle and strangle the gunman, giving Jessica time to escape.
- Bittersweet Ending: Tim defeats Alex and leaves him to finally be taken away by the Operator, than swears that he'll make sure the Operator can never return. However Jay and the Hooded Man are dead and while Jessica's safe, she has no memory of her time with Jay and Tim lies about Jay's fate to spare her the pain. The story ends with Tim arriving at the crossroads ready to presumably move on with his life. And than he starts coughing...
- Black Screen of Death:
- Most noticeably in Entry #18. It fits with the format of the entries because Jay drops the camera and only picks it back up after.
- A variation occurs during Entry #80, when The Operator finally takes Jay.
- The Blank: The Operator.
- Entry #27, the start of season two, starts with Jay in a hotel with no idea how he got there. Entry #52, the season two end, shows how Jay and Jessica got to the hotel and why they didn't remember anything.
- Also, the first and last entry of Season 1 and 2 have both contained scenic footage of Jay driving down a road as he monologues through the text on screen.
- One of the last episodes of season 1 involves Jay's apartment being burnt down. One of the last episodes of season 3 involves Tim's house being set on fire.
- And, finally, the series finale was posted on the same date as the very first video. Give or take five years.
- Break the Cutie: Happens to pretty much every character involved with the disastrous Marble Hornets project, most notably Tim, especially as of Entry #65 and Entry #80.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Jay tweeted he was uploading Entry #65, Troy Wagner — the guy who makes the series and plays Jay — responded with a snide remark about how long it took to post.
- Breather Episode:
- Particularly tense episodes like Entry #23 are usually then followed by more low-key ones.
- The hotel arc was much more slow paced and peaceful than the end of season one, leading up to the more intense scares as the second season progressed.
- Entry #47=, with no Operator, no masked men, and next-to-no distortion, while in Entry #48, the Operator (possibly) appears for a brief second. They do lead up to a big Wham Episode in Entry #49.
- Entry #53 doesn't have any particular scares in it, but just sets up the next season of the story.
- Entry #55 likewise lacks any real scares.
- Entry #63, which revolves mostly around Tim and Jay discussing their next move.
- Entry #67.5, which is like the above, only without the discussion occurring on-screen.
- Entry #81 was fairly calm throughout most of the video until the end, although the atmosphere is still rather bleak.
- Entry #84 was fairly easy going, but still contains a big reveal.
- Brick Joke: Perhaps the only known inversion. In Entry #27, the first combination Jay tries on the safe in his hotel room is 1234. Twenty five entries later in Entry #52 (which takes place the day before Entry #27) and Jessica suggests using 1234 as the combination, to which Jay denies, saying, "No, that's the first I'd try."
- Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: In Entry #52, One night after hearing Jessica screaming, Jay goes to help but turns to see the Operator standing right in the room. Jay charges and tackles the Operator, screaming "LEAVE US ALONE!" This does him little good as he is subsequently seen unconscious on the floor, and it is implied that this is what caused him to lose his memory of the past seven months.
- Broken Tears: Tim breaks down sobbing a couple of times- when his meds are stolen and he's seizing on the floor in "entry"/Entry #61, and after he ends up at the abandoned hospital in Entry #65.
- Burn Baby Burn: This was Alex's plan with the Marble Hornets raw footage before giving it to Jay. Entry #69 reveals he managed to burn some of them.
- Call Forward: The trailer, a bonus on the season 2 DVD, has Tim saying "Whenever I'm around other people, I feel like I'm wearing a mask to hide who I really am." Tim is later revealed to be The Masked Man.
- Call Back:
- In entry #54, tying in to the theme of revisiting the original making of Marble Hornets the first shots of the tape Jay watches show the Silver Silos, which were in the very first shot of the Introduction to the series.
- For those who have seen the hilarious "Marble Hornets Trailer" on the season 2 DVD, this is also directly referred to in #54 where Alex, Tim, Seth and Brian start working out the music for it, only to be horrifyingly interrupted.
- Another callback to the trailer occurs in Entry #55, which shows the filming of two shots featured in the trailer.
- The trailer itself features a callback to Entry #7, with dialogue and a shot filmed in said entry.
- The Call Knows Where You Live:
- Totheark invokes this in at least one of his videos. WE WILL WAIT FOR YOU NO MORE
- Entry #25, where shit gets personal: Jay's apartment gets burned down.
- Cassette Craze: Naturally.
- Cat Scare: This does occasionally purposefully happen, such as the jump cut to Alex's silhouette in Entry #44, but the Nothing Is Scarier nature of the series means that any time the camera pans quickly can be this, for example, Entry #23, which comprises about 5 minutes of Jay whipping the camera back and forth around a dark, empty house.
- Character Blog: Jay keeps viewers up to date with his Twitter Account. Totheark briefly took it over to wish us a happy Halloween.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The red tower in season one, seemingly a landmark and little else, comes up again when Tim and Jay scale it to find a tape.
- When Jay wakes up at the beginning of season two, he finds a key in his belongings. This isn't mentioned again until Entry #46, when we see where Jay found it, and we don't learn what it opens until Entry #50.
- Jessica's phone number, which is key to opening the safe.
- The bullet casing Jay finds in the house in Entry #16 might be explained as of Entry #52, wherein Alex pulls a gun on Jay and Jessica.
- On his way to the red tower in Season 1, Jay briefly flashes his camera over a hole and a bit of static is heard. It's blink and you miss it. Over 40 entries and three-and-a-half years later, when Jay and Tim return to check it out, they find burned tapes in the hole, showing Alex did burn some of them before Jay intervened.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Jessica can be seen getting out of her room and walking past Jay in the hall in Entry #27. Attention is not called to her, she is just a character in the background at this time. However, she is formally introduced in the next entry.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
- Sarah, the actress in the Student Film isn't mentioned by any of the other characters, and we only see her in the old tapes. Jay doesn't even consider seeking her out for interviews. She is described as "gone", which may imply that she died or vanished. Then again, Jay and Tim are described as "gone" in the same breath, so it's still anybody's guess.
- Remember the three other masked persons◊ from season one? We don't.
- Continuity Nod: The ominous parallel at the end of the totheark video, Null, where the word "regards" appears, which is the exact same as the title of the first video ever uploaded by totheark over four-and-a-half-years ago.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Entry #38 features Alex telling Jay a story about an 1800s community's preferred method of dealing with criminals: tying them up between fast-growing trees and letting them be stretched out, like a rack.
- Creepy Basement: In Alex's former house in Entry #72. Jay and Tim should have known better than to go down there.
- Creepy Child: Tim as a kid, at least to his doctors who would witness him screaming in fear at something they couldn't see.
- Creepy Doll:
- It looks like the Slender Doll in Entry #18 was intended to be this but just ended up oddly adorable. You know, for a faceless voodoo doll. It's not the doll itself that's creepy, but what it represents. It makes a reappearance in Entry #60.
- The doll in Totheark's video Indicator, which makes a return in Entry #62 in totheark's shack.
- Cringe Comedy: Any of Jay's attempts at lying to or deceiving someone for information.
- Curbstomp Battle:
- Jay's attempt to fight the Operator in Entry #52. The Operator easily trounces Jay and wipes his memories of the last couple of months. Of course it's unclear if Jay actually tried to fight the Operator or if the Operator yanked Jay over to him so this may not count.
- Most encounters with Masky end this way, in Jay's favor:
- When Masky attacked Jay in the old house, Jay and Alex quickly subdued him and broke his leg with a piece of concrete.
- When Masky comes at Jay in the hotel, Jay escapes after cracking him upside the head with a Maglite. Ironically, a later video implies that Masky was there to protect Jay rather than attack him.
- Interestingly, Masky's alter-ego Tim is shown to be a much better fighter, as he laid Jay out with a single punch once and later easily overpowered and hog-tied him during their confrontation after the reveal that Tim had been lying about knowledge of Jessica's fate.
- Curiosity Killed the Cast: An underlying theme of the film. Alex's whereabouts are unknown, nobody has seen Brian for a while, Sarah flat out disappears, and Jay keeps getting sicker and sicker. Several other characters will appear and disappear as the series goes on.
- Dark World: The industrial looking place Alex is traipsing about in during Entry #22. This is later revealed to be his basement... or not.
- Daylight Horror:
- Several entries in the first season take place during the day. Notable examples from season one include Entry #17 and Entry #23 (when Jay goes into Alex's old house during the day).
- The vast majority of season two seems to take place during daylight hours. Only a few entries happen at night, and most of the truly scary scenes all occur in broad daylight.
- A lot of the responses posted by totheark are disturbingly incoherent, and are often shot in daylight hours.
- Deadpan Snarker: Alex has shades of this.
Jay: I thought I'd take a look around while I was waiting. I got kind of lost, I guess.
Alex: You got lost in woods you've never been in?
"Hey Jay, you forgot your flashlight."
Alex: Okay rolling.
Brian starts coughing up a fit.
Alex: Good take.
Alex: When I gave you those tapes, I told you never to mention them again. I thought that implied not sharing them with the world!
Alex, Tim and Brian are discussing the Marble Hornets film when the power goes out.
Tim: Is it going to be, like, dark?
Alex: There's going to be significantly more lighting.
- Decoy Protagonist: After spending the entire series with Jay as our viewpoint protagonist, he gets killed by Alex and the Operator in Entry #80. With this it becomes clear that Tim is the true protagonist.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: In Entry #52, Jay possibly runs at the Operator when he appears in his hotel room. Although we only get brief flashes of whatever struggle ensued, it obviously didn't play out in Jay's favor.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: If you buy the DVD, the first thing to greet you on the screen is this:
Please don't copy this DVD. Or else Slenderman [sic] will get you.
- Disposing of a Body:
- Done by the Operator in Entry #49. In Entry #65, we see just where that body went.
- Done again with Jessica in Entry #76.
- Alex also does this in Entry #51. He drags Brian's body through a doorway and leaves it there.
- Done to Jay in Entry #80 after Alex shoots him and leaves the body for the Operator.
- Do Wrong, Right: In Entry #46, Alex seems less concerned that Jay broke into his apartment than the fact that he did it so incompetently: he did it while Alex was taking out the trash, giving himself at most a minute or two to do whatever he wanted to do.
- Don't Go in the Woods: Nothing good ever comes of the cast going into any forested area. Ever. For some reason, they just never learn to stay away from them. Even when Jay tries to argue against it in entry #63, Tim insists that Rosswood Park is their only lead.
Tim: In the daytime this time.
Jay: I've been there in the daytime! Nothing good ever happens when I'm there.
Tim: Is that Rosswood or is that you?
- Driven to Suicide: This may have been the reason for Tim attempting to overdose on pills after his traumatic, near-Mind Rape experience in Entry #65. Another possibility is that while he was panicking, he tried to substitute quantity for actually waiting for them to kick in.
- Early Installment Weirdness: A lot of it.
- Tim's personality in Entry #9, where he snarks at Alex without flinching, is slightly at odds with what we see in Entry #84 where he appears much shyer. This may be fridge brilliance because making friends may have boosted his confidence enough to defend them from the verbal abuse Alex dishes out.
- The distortion in the first few entries is much lighter than the ear-rapes and laser shows we would generally see from about Entry #12 onwards.
- The Operator used to move a little and can even be walking in one case, as opposed to just appearing in the frame for a second and standing there, motionless. Entry #4 shows him running away after Alex spots him. He isn't shown moving all the way through season two.
- Alex sure was weird back in the days of filming the actual Marble Hornets movie, but there was absolutely no indication that he'd already gone full batshit, and later tapes show that he obviously had.
- The behavior of the Masked Men has changed over the series. In Entry #19, one of them teleports into Jay's room and just sits there, like The Operator would, but none of them have done that since. Usually the Masked Men are much more feral, attacking the protagonists on sight, and when they aren't they just follow them on foot and film them, not teleport right to them. There used to be distortion whenever the Masked Men appeared, most noticeably in Entry #19, but there isn't anymore.
- The fonts used on the title cards have changed slightly over the course of the series, adapting a subtle black outline in Entry #18 and then the thick outline used for the rest of the series in Entry #26. It's kind of weird to see the bold white text without the outline in the Introduction and early videos.
- The skull masked figure in Entry 26 is part of an Aborted Arc. Even as late as Season 3, the creators considered going back to it. And the kicker? Skully was meant to be Jay.
- Eldritch Location:
- The industrial-looking place that Alex gets lost in in Entry #22. Note that in Entry #23 the entire house starts to darken, even though it's daylight out and there are no lights in the house that are on.
- The creepy sewer tunnel in Rosswood Park is heavily implied to be this, least of all because it appears inextricably linked to the Operator.
- Rosswood Park itself, especially the shack that mysteriously vanished with no trace between visits to the park.
- The dark world where Tim ends up in entry #65, implied to be the Operator's domain, seeing how the man Alex killed was in there too
- Alex's old house in Entry #72, or at least his basement. When Jay and Tim arrive, it's late afternoon or evening, but still pretty sunny outside. Once they've walked down into the basement, it's suddenly night.
- Enemy Mime: The Masked Men's masks make them look like these.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: As quoted above, Alex's dog Rocky barks at the Operator.
- Evil Laugh:
- A low chuckle can be heard during one moment of distortion in Entry #23. Slender Man was known to quietly chuckle in early stories.
- Extreme Melee Revenge: In Entry #67, Tim's masked personality delivers a serious beat down to Alex after the latter has been tied up by the hooded figure.
- Face-Revealing Turn:
- In the first entry. Alex runs to a window and peeks behind the curtains, only to see a tall man standing outside... who turns his head to stare at him, revealing one of his defining features.
- In Entry #31, Jay notices a guy in a hoodie on the same trail as him. He eventually goes up to the guy and gets him to turn around...revealing an ordinary guy he's never seen before who just happened to have his headphones in.
- Face-Heel Turn: Alex as of Season 2. It's hinted at throughout the season, though Entry #49 and #51 are the most significant entries confirming this. #51 also suggests it may not have been a turn at all.
- Failed a Spot Check: Regularly played for horror.
- Filk Song: A whole album's worth.
- Flashback Twist: Entry #71. It turns out things did not go as smoothly as Jay remembered when he got the original footage from Alex.
- Follow the Leader: There's a truly staggering number of Slender Man-based blogs and small-scale ARGs out there, and it appears each one has its own Totheark. The creators' favorite is Everyman HYBRID.
- In Entry #20 Jay and Alex (who at this point is still unaware of anything amiss) have a brief conversation about a painting which depicts an ominous looking forest with several trees aflame, and which belongs to their friend Brian. In Entry #38 Alex tells Jay a disturbing story of how a forest with almost supernaturally fast growing trees was once used as an execution ground for murderers/child molesters, and the condemned would be crucified to the trees and left to die as the fast growing trees stretched them like a rack, before the trees were burned down to remove the bodies.
- In Entry #43, we find out Amy's roommate is named Jessica.
- totheark's earlier videos in season two weren't exactly subtle on selling the message that Alex can't be trusted. In later entries, it is very much shown that he can't.
- Many posts on the Marble Hornets Twitter page foreshadowed events that would occur in upcoming entries. For example, prior to Entry #46, Jay mentioned how he found footage of him stalking Alex.
- In a truly magnificent and subtle example, Entry #69 has Jay and Tim exploring the woods from season 1, including returning to the gazebo from Entry #5 and Entry #9 and climbing the red tower again. Near the end of the entry, after they're on their way back to the car after giving up on finding anything, Jay trips on one of the miscellaneous holes in the woods, uncovering the remains of a plethora of burnt tapes. In Entry #21, when Jay is walking the very same path alone, there were bursts of unexplained audio distortion whenever he looked at one of the holes. The one he and Tim found the tapes in was even used as the thumbnail image for Entry #21.
- At the end of season 1, Jay's apartment is burnt down. It's heavily implied to be the work of Masky at the time, but towards the end of season 3, Alex burns Tim's house down in an attempt to kill him, heavily implying that it was actually him trying to kill Jay as early as the first season.
- Four Is Death / Arc Number:
- In the run-up to Entry #26, Jay gets a text message on the 4th of April. He then receives a tape recorded on the day he got the text, showing: Alex and Amy narrowly avoiding the Operator, who appears to them at 4:04 pm. To take it further, the first hint of his presence (the footage tearing) occurs at 4:04 on the YouTube player.
- As of early in Entry #26 there appear to be four different Maskies.◊
- The last 4 digits of Jessica's phone number are 1102. 1 + 1 + 0 + 2 = 4.
- Also, enttry #37 reveals that Alex's birthday is April 4th.
- The first part of the birthday is also at 4:41.
- Entry #40, posted on May 4, where the Operator makes his big return to the series (Disregarding #29). The footage tears at 4:40, and several seconds later the scare comes.
- In Entry #44, the Operator makes its appearance at the 3:24 mark and disappears...along with Alex.
- In Entry #49, after strangling a man, Alex bashes his head in with a rock 4 times.
- In Entry #51, four minutes and four seconds in, while Brian is settling up a second camera, the footage from Alex's camera tears.
- In Entry #52, at 10:44, Jay is at the mercy of the Operator, and his face seems to disappear before appearing comatose on the ground moments later.
- Totheark's video entitled Decay, which came out on April 4, 2012, really emphasizes this. It begins by showing distorted footage from Entry #26, effectively showing two timestamps for 4.4.2010 and 4:04 PM. An encoded message in the video also declares: "Today is your last birthday."
- Entry #64: The Operator makes an important appearance, seemingly Mind Raping Tim. 64 is 4 times 4 times 4 (or 4 cubed).
- Entry #72: Going through the house, at about 4 minutes, Tim thinks Jay is undergoing a bit of Sanity Slippage. But then you go in a few more minutes into the video...
- Entry #87: At 4:04, as Tim is having a severe coughing fit with heavy distortion in front of Jessica, the footage suddenly cuts to Tim driving in silence.
- Freak Out!: Tim has one in Entry #65 shortly after being subjected to Mind Rape.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Watch Entry #23 carefully. There are a few instances of this occurring in the video. One includes someone reaching their hand out towards the camera.
- In totheark's Forecast, pausing roughly 31 seconds in allows you to get a glimpse of the person who filmed Jay in Entry #39 in the rear-view mirror. It seems to be a masked man, though the pattern on it is different from Tim's.
- If you pause Entry #45 right at the end as Alex yells 'I'LL KILL YOU!' to the Maskies, you can see footage of the Operator from Entry #40.
- In Entry #52, just as Alex, Jay, and Jessica are approaching the building in Rosswood Park, you can see Tim looking out the window at them, foreshadowing his Big Damn Hero moment later in the video.
- In Entry #57, if you look at the dark space next to Tim while he's having his coughing fit, you'll see the Operator appear for a brief second. It happens twice; once at about the 6:23 mark, and again at the 6:34 mark, the exact moment the camera starts screwing up badly.
- Genre Blindness:
- Jay seems to not understand the potential dangers of breaking into a deserted house at night, alone in the woods. He's done this more than once.
- He acts even dumber in Entry #40, apparently deciding that it's a good idea to take a walk in the creepy haunted woods.
- In Entry #46, Jay decides to stalk Alex at his house. This would normally fall under the umbrella of Genre Savvy, considering Alex's more than suspect behavior, but the way Jay goes about it (going into the house while Alex is taking out the trash, leaving him next to no time inside) he's just asking to get caught. Which he does. And even Alex points out how stupid he was. It goes even worse than he could have imagined when the Operator shows up.
- In Entry #59, even after all Jay's been through, he's still willing to meet someone he doesn't entirely trust in what appears to be an isolated location alone in the middle of the night for an incredibly vague reason. Fortunately, while Tim is not happy with him, he just punches him once and then yells at him instead of, say, pulling a gun on him.
- Genre Deconstruction: Marble Hornets deconstructs its own Alternate Reality Game format by showing what happens when its primary subjects find out their activities are being shown to the entire world. This causes nothing but trouble for Jay.
- In Entry #52, Alex decides to kill Jay for putting all the videos detailing his shady past online.
- In Entry #59, Tim reveals that he found out that Jay was stalking and lying to him the entire time just by looking at the publicly-posted videos on YouTube. He flies off the handle.
- In Entry #67.5, Jay refuses to disclose where he's going because he knows Alex is following Tim and him now.
- Genre Savvy:
- In light of the aforementioned Genre Blindness that Jay seems to suffer from, dropping the camera and running like hell in Entry #40 is the savviest thing he (or anyone) ever did through the series.
- In Entry #47, he's smart enough to check before leaving that Alex really gave him Jessica's number and, arguably, at the end when he pretty much admits that it's more than likely that it's his fault Jessica ended up amnesiac in a hotel.
- In Entry #67.5, Jay says that he's leaving in search of something. However, he doesn't say where, because he's aware that he's being watched by Alex.
- In Entry #69, Jay says he thought he saw something moving in the woods and shrugs it off as a bird. Tim says that, given what's happend, they need to be nervous even when they think they've seen something. Later, after Jay sees someone that he fails to catch on camera, Tim states that they should have left as soon as Jay thought he saw something. When this happens a third time, Tim recognises it as what happened to him before he became Masky, and suggests that Jay get medical help immediately.
- Jay also appears to have stopped saying where he's going on Twitter. Unfortunately, that doesn't stop the Operator from still finding them.
- The Ghost: The Operator plays this role for our protagonist, Jay. Though he can often be seen in the tapes, was seen by Alex and Tim, and the viewer can see him watching Jay on several occasions, Jay doesn't actually encounter the Operator until Entry #23. When Jay (possibly) attempts to fight the Operator in Entry #52, the Operator easily overpowers Jay and wipes his memory.
- Ghostly Chill: Jay complains of being cold in Entry #17. Guess who's watching him. Happens to Tim in Entry #20.
- Ghost Story: We get told one about the old forest and how in pilgrim-times, the villagers would use strange, ever-growing trees that grew in the forest to torture and kill convicts. It's very strongly implied that the Operator is somehow linked to this legend and the forest described in it.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: In totheark's Classified video, possibly.
- Good Smoking, Evil Smoking: Played with. Tim is the only character to be seen smoking onscreen, and he's later revealed to be the antagonistic Masky, though we later find out Masky is a separate personality and Tim is in fact a good person.
- On the other hand, the man killed in Entry #49, a presumably innocent character, may have been smoking in Entry #48.
- Gory Deadly Overkill Title of Fatal Death: Thankfully averted. Who would imagine something as pants-wettingly scary as this being named Marble Hornets?
- Gory Discretion Shot: Invoked in Entry #49. After murdering a man, Alex takes a rock and lifts it above his head. The following scene was cut out by Jay, who tells us he hurled the rock onto the victim's head four times.
- Harassing Phone Call: Jay gets one in Entry #64. From Alex.
- Hard Head: Alex and Tim both seem to have skulls made of high-carbon steel.
- Heartbeat Soundtrack:
- Entry #27 opens with Jay awakened by a 'heartbeat' sound from the television.
- The camera picks up what sounds like heartbeat in Entry #65. Justified, since it's worn strapped to the chest.
- Hell Hotel: The hotel Jay wakes up seems pretty normal until he notices that he and Jessica are the only customers staying there. This ends up being creepier than it sounds.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: The creators of the series, Troy and Joe. It gets taken up to eleven in the DVD audio commentary. You definitely come to realize how close the two of them are as friends in real life.
Troy: I mean, what are we going to sell as Marble Hornets merchandise, a shirt with my face on it?
Joe: I would buy a shirt with your face on it.
Troy: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER.
- Here We Go Again: In #53, after finding and getting back in contact with Tim, Jay receives a call from Tim stating that he has "found more tapes" from when they were originally filming Marble Hornets.
- Which as the text captions later inform us are "unsurprisingly" unnumbered and without dates. You can just picture Jay having the same kind of reaction to that fact.
- Entry #69 ends with Jay and Tim finding burnt tapes hidden in the woods featured in Season 1. Some of these are proven to still be watchable.
- He Who Must Not Be Named: The Operator is never explicitly named in the series, although the word comes up a few times in totheark's videos. The closest the entries come to naming him is in Entry #11, where one of the drawings on Alex's bedroom wall is simply the word "OPERATOR" beneath the recurring crossed-out-circle symbol. Until Word of God confirmed it towards the end of Season 1, this was the only time that the name was associated with the character, even in totheark's videos.
- Hidden Depths: From the very beginning, there's more to all of the characters than meets the eye. Then, once we get into the second season, we see just how much the characters are keeping from the surface. However, it almost always seems to do with them hiding their slow spiral into madness.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Alex's fate is to be dragged off by the Operator, just like how he sacrificed people to the Operator to save himself.
- Hope Spot:
- Entry #11, right before... *shudder*.
- Entry #46:
Jay: It's not out there anymore...
Cue the distortion from hell and the Operator standing right behind Alex.
- Entry #76: Hoody has provided Jessica with a chance to escape...and she runs the wrong way in the tunnel, straight to the Operator.
- Especially in the wake of the above, don't forget TTA's coded message: SHE'S OUT THERE
- Hostile Show Takeover: Entry #77, after Jay's visit to Tim's house goes south. The end title cards show that Tim's in control of the account.
- How We Got Here: Entries #34 to #52 are the events leading up to Entries #27 to #33.
- Entry #57 also shows how Tim got to the abandoned building in Entry #51.
- Humanoid Abomination: The Operator is a great example of this trope. Bizarre powers, warps reality just by being present, drives people to madness, and has incomprehensible goals that just happen to incidentally wreak havoc on human lives.
- Hypocritical Humor: Jay in Entry #52.
- Idiot Ball: Even when it becomes clear that there are several people stalking and possibly trying to kill him, Jay continues to telegraph his next move over YouTube. This comes back and bites him on the ass in Entry #52, when Alex threatens to kill Jay at gunpoint for posting the videos and incriminating him, amongst other reasons and in Entry #59 where Tim explodes at him after finding the videos and refuses to ever speak to him again. He also returns to the same haunted house multiple times, often at night, and has a habit of wandering off into the woods despite nothing good EVER happening to people who do that in this series.
- Idiot Hero: Jay's not necessarily holding the idiot ball - he's just kinda dumb. Despite this, his deduction skills aren't bad. He just never, ever seems to think anything through.
- Incurable Cough of Death: One of the Operator's calling cards; his mere presence is enough to cause people to break into coughing fits, while people who've had repeated exposure to him tend to develop a chronic cough.
- Jay develops a rather ominous cough in season one, starting with a few minor ones in Entry #15. He also has a particularly violent episode in Entry #16.
- Jessica can be heard coughing from her room in the middle of the night during some of the hotel entries. She doesn't seem aware of the fact she's doing it. It's later found out she had indeed come into contact with the Operator.
- Brian has a coughing fit in Entry #51, about a minute before the Operator shows up.
- Tim seems to suffer from this more than any character in the series:
- In Entry #20, he had a coughing fit very reminiscent of Jay's in Entry #16.
- In season two, we see it again in Entry #51 when Brian finds him curled up into a corner in an abandoned building.
- In #53, he started coughing again while getting a call from an unknown individual. Granted, he was also smoking, but still.
- Most notably, we hear him coughing at the end of Entry #56 after Alex attacks him and leaves him for dead. In Entry #57, which takes place immediately after, he's coughing violently throughout the whole entry. It also explains how he wound up in the abandoned building in Entry #51.
- In #58, he starts coughing just as strange stuff starts happening to him and Jay in the hospital.
- He's at it again in #59, and explains that it only started up again recently...when Jay showed up.
- Entry #61 shows the worst case of it so far: Tim can't find his medicine when the cough starts up, and leads to what appears to be a mixing of a coughing fit and a full on seizure.
- Entry #64 shows the second worst case of it, as the coughing fit leaves Tim rolling on the ground and unable to run away when the Operator finds him.
- Tim's cough culminates in Entry #65, as he starts coughing up blood. That may have been set off, though, by what just happened to him.
- Jay has a serious coughing episode in Entry #72 during his and Tim's run-in with the Operator
- Infinite Supplies: Jay has been driving across the country for several years now paying for hotel rooms and seemingly never runs out of money despite having no stated occupation.
- It's Quiet... Too Quiet: Averted. Frogs and crickets in the forest can be continually heard during static interference.
- It's All My Fault: In Entry #66, Tim admits to Jay that he feels everything that happened to the cast of Marble Hornets is his fault because his exposure to the Operator as a child may have been what lured it to them in the first place.
- It's for a Book: Jay's explanation for having a camera strapped to him in Entry #28:
I'm, uh, shooting — shooting a documentary. Jessica:
Oh? What's it about? Jay:
- Karma Houdini: The Operator. Justified by the fact that it's basically impossible to truly destroy or punish him. The only hope is that letting him take Alex finally satisfied him and if it didn't than Tim will have to kill anyone else allowing his existence.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: As told by an Unreliable Narrator. The story is comprised of clips Jay edits and uploads while looking through a mass of largely unlabelled tapes, some of which have been tampered with, some of them featuring Jay himself in situations he has no memory of. Sometimes someone will log into his YouTube account and upload clips in his name, and a couple of times he's revealed that he hasn't been telling us the whole story... Much of the timeline for the season 1 tapes can only be guessed at, and as of #53 it's still unclear when entry #37 took place. Later lampshaded when it's pointed out that Jay just points his camera at random stuff and finds things out almost completely by accident.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope:
- Alex in Entry # 49. Entry #51 implies that it may have been even sooner.
- Jump Scare:
- In Entry #12, when the video footage suddenly gets distorted and a startling noise is heard.
- In Entry #35, when the Masked Man pops around the corner in the abandoned house.
- In Entry #46 when the Operator suddenly appears in Alex's room.
- And again in Entry #49 when the Operator appears out of nowhere with loud distortion and leaves just as quickly, taking the body with him.
- In Entry #60, amidst a sudden cacophony of audio distortion and screen tearing, the Operator's "face" quickly appears mere inches away from the camera!
- In Entry #68, totheark moves the camera around in a very paranoid fashion. He doesn't find anything... until he turns back to the door and see Alex charging straight at him.
- In Entry #76, when the Operator appears to dispose of Jessica's body, just like he did with the white-shirted man before.
- Killed Off for Real: By the end, Jay, Alex, To The Ark (Brian), Amy, Seth, Sarah, as well as the unnamed Bearded Man, are all dead.
- Kudzu Plot: Answers accrue at a rate of one or two per season. Questions, at a rate of three or four per entry.
- Lame Excuse: In Entry #47.
Alex: What is wrong with you, huh?! Breaking into my apartment?! What were you thinking?!
Jay: *defensively* Alex, calm down! I had a good reason!
Alex: And what would that be?
Jay: I... had a hunch.
- Lampshade Hanging: In Entry #46:
"I was taking out the trash! What could you have possibly hoped to find in that amount of time?"
- And in Entry #53, when Jay finds more production tapes from Marble Hornets, he audibly groans 'Great, more tapes', about the same time most of the audience was thinking the same thing.
- Laser-Guided Amnesia/Mind Rape: Quite a lot of it, and probably why both Jay and Alex have been constantly filming themselves. Jay even forgets the seven month gap between season one and season two and must piece it together via video.
- Late to the Tragedy:
- Jay begins investigating Marble Hornets almost three years after it occurs. By that time, the original cast had scattered or disappeared and several locations (such as the house) were trashed.
- As of Entry #59, we learn that Tim was/is even later. Not only does he not remember most of the past three years due to Laser-Guided Amnesia, he only catches up by watching Jay's Marble Hornets channel on YouTube. He's not happy.
- Lean and Mean: The Operator
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: With the series having dropped most of its ARG elements after the first season, it's pretty easy to forget that it's not just in real life that the entries are being posted on YouTube, but also in the story itself. This comes back to bite Jay on the ass hard later.
- In Entry #52, one of the reasons Alex threatens to kill Jay is because he's posted all his videos on YouTube and revealed his secrets to the world.
- In Entry #59, Tim has caught up with everything that's been going on by just searching for Marble Hornets on the web and finding the YouTube channel, including everything that he didn't know was going on with himself.
- Leave the Camera Running: While the entries themselves are mostly cut down to just the relevant parts, the source footage is primarily taken from someone literally leaving the camera running. For example, Jay inherited hundreds of tapes from Alex, but most of them contained nothing of interest.
- Le Film Artistique: Alex's original film has traits of this, judging by the trailer on the Season 2 DVD.
"From the film production class that brought you Mon Amour Intemporel"
- Line-of-Sight Name: A behind-the-scenes example, according to Word of God. The actors wanted something that sounded like a stereotypical pretentious student film, and Troy (Jay) picked the title based on the next two things he saw while driving.
- Lost Episode:
- An accidental example, due to a text-to-video program, a video called Megadrunk (Mirror) managed to get on the account briefly on April 8th, 2011.
- The Season 2 DVD contains footage from an unused version of Entry #37. It was fully complete, but scrapped because it didn't achieve what the creators had hoped it to do. They instead replaced it with what is now called enttry #37.
- Lost Woods: A wooded area that was once the execution place for condemned criminals is somehow central to the plot. The Operator seems closely tied to these forsaken regions.
- Malevolent Masked Man: The masked men.
- Meaningful Background Event:
- Almost every entry in the first season has the Operator in it, be he the centerpiece of the video or in the background for only two frames. Justified since the first season is Jay going through Alex's videos looking for oddities and then posting what he finds.
- Entry #19 has the Masked Man staring through Jay's window for a few frames before and after appearing in his room.
- In Entry #52, as Alex is leading Jessica and Jay into the sawmill/storage area, the masked man can be seen for only a half second, peering from the building's second floor opening in the background. Just for those who thought there was some teleportation occurring.
- The video and audio glitches in some entries serve as Meaningful Foreground Events. They give a hint to the viewer either that they should put down their drink immediately (as in Entry #40), or that the person on camera is suffering the effects of contact with the Operator, as with Jessica and Alex in season 2 and one very subtle instance of visual tearing when Tim is giving Jay his number in Entry #53.
- In the radio interview, Troy has said that five words that sum up the series would be "AHHH! Look at the background!"
- Meaningful Echo: Tim hands Jay a bag of tapes in Entry #54, claiming he hasn't watched them because he's "not the movie guy" and doesn't have the right equipment. He uses this exact phrase again in the first tape Jay watches.
- Mind Screw: Pretty much every video totheark has made. A handful make vague sense when combined with the entry they're responding to, but most don't.
- Entries #65 and #83 stand out, since they both cover what happens when the Operator abducts you and forces you into a world full of Alien Geometries.
- Entry #71: Jay finds a tape that shows the conversation between him and Alex where he convinced Alex to give him the tapes and start the whole series. Everything goes how Jay originally said in the Introduction video, until Alex suddenly calls out to Jay as he's leaving, runs up to him, and tackles and strangles him until he is unconscious and leaves him in the woods for The Operator.
- Entry #87. All of it.
- Minimalism: Keeping with the student film theme, most of the videos seem to be set in public areas, there's no soundtrack, visual effects are done only when absolutely necessary and the cast is very small. The whole series is a testament to what can be achieved with little budget but lots of creativity.
- Minimalist Cast: There's a total of about 13 characters, 4 of them only appearing one-to-two times, and only five are actively involved as main characters. Of those five, only two of them get most of the screen-time, whereas the other three are usually busy off-screen.
- Missing Steps Plan: Lampshaded in Entry #63.
Jay: I haven't been running in circles.
Tim: Well you don't seem like you've had much of a plan.
Jay: I've got a plan.
Tim: And what is that?
Jay: Well, at first it was to find you and now that I've done that, I need to find out what happened to Jessica.
- Mistaken Identity: Alex thought either the man in Entry #49 was one of the Masked Men or Jay. It ends poorly for the guy.
- Mood Whiplash: In Entry #46, the funniest line in the series is immediately after Jay spots the Operator staring at him out the window, and seconds before what is quite possibly the most effective Jump Scare in the whole series.
- Morality Kitchen Sink: The Shades of Conflict are all over the place.
- Jay, the protagonist, seems to be genuinely good and is willing to help others if he can. But he's not above committing criminal acts like stalking and breaking-and-entering to get what he wants. As the series goes on, he also starts to lose his grip on reality, making one wonder just how together he has it.
- Alex is either dangerously insane or consciously villainous. Alternatively, his hands are tied and is being forced to kill people by the Operator. It's hard to tell which.
- The Masked people often switch between antagonizing and assisting Jay. Their ultimate motivation and/or allegiance remains unknown.
- Totheark is always cryptic and ominous to the point that we don't know what side he's on, if any. He doesn't seem to like Jay... or Alex, if some of his later videos are any indication.
- The Operator and his motives have gone unanswered.
- Tim has suffered through a lot, and when he's in a right state of mind he's one of the most logical and sensible characters. However, he's prone to lying or concealing important information.
- Most Writers Are Writers: Or rather, Most Amateur Filmmakers Are Amateur Filmmakers.
- Intros and finales are associated with shots of scenery from inside Jay's car while he's driving with text appearing over them.
- Totheark's videos often have themes of water.
- Multiple-Choice Past: This is what talking to Jay must be like from Jessica's point of view. He's gone from "I'm shooting a documentary" to "My house is being renovated" to "My job relocated me." She eventually calls him on it.
- My God, What Have I Done?: A tweet from Jay shortly after posting Entry #75 implies that he regrets attacking Tim, stealing the tape from him, and demanding that Tim never speak to him again.
- Subverted in Entry #77 when Jay goes to Tim's house intending to threaten and tie him up, only for Tim to see this coming and turn this around on him.
- Double Subverted in Entry #82. In the footage the day after Entry #75, Jay calls Tim and tells him that he did regret attacking him, understands why he kept the tape from him, and asks him to meet again. Several minutes later, Jay is Mind Raped by the Operator, after which he uploads Entry #76, and confronts Tim. Tim states that he doesn't remember ever getting Jay's phone call.
- Myth Arc: Who or what is the Operator? What happened to Alex and the Marble Hornets crew? Who are the Masked Men and totheark and how are they linked to all this? Where are Amy and Jessica? The search for answers to these questions makes up the whole story.
- Neutral Female: Subverted in Entry #76. Jessica watches Alex and Hoody fight for a brief moment, but then turns around and runs for her life - though it makes no difference to her fate in the end.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Jay just had to call Jessica and get her involved after a previous lie from Alex ensured she was safe and uninvolved.
- Alex and Tim both declare this when they learn that Jay has been posting the videos on YouTube for everyone to see.
- It's heavily implied multiple times that Tim may in fact be the person bringing the Operator into everyone's lives. [[Tim himself]] believes this, and is Alex's reason for attempting to kill him.
- Nightmare Face:
- A subtle one near the end of Entry #22.
- One occurs in totheark's video called Inquiry, which appears again with even more distortion for one frame in Reminder. It appears to be a distortion of Tim's face. He does it again in the Decay video with a different face.
- One of the most horrifying ones in the entire Mythos occurs in Entry #60 when The Operator gets within inches of the camera.
- Display is full of Nightmare Faces.
- Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book:
- Alex draws hundreds of pictures of the Operator, among other things, in his more distressed states.
- Intermission has some drawings presumably belonging to Totheark, depicting trees and...something lying at the base of one of the trees.
- Nothing Is Scarier:
- He doesn't do anything! He just stands there! Menacingly!
- Traditional scary unreveals are rife throughout the series. Entry #11 sets up a nigh-legendary scare when Alex wakes up, walks around his empty house, checking out each window. Satisfied at finding nothing, he returns to his bed and falls asleep. And then a shadow passes by. You will never sleep again.
- On a meta level, every video under the Marble Hornets account has its comments disabled, leaving you without immediate insight into what other viewers are thinking or feeling and removing the possibility of a comical comment relieving the fear of the video.
- Not So Different: Entry #19 reveals that Jay has started filming himself out of paranoia like Alex did in his original tapes. Sure enough, strange things start to happen as soon as he does.
- In Entry #52, Jay attacked the Operator, demanding to know what it wanted. In Entry #70, we learn that Alex had done the same thing not long before he disappeared the first time. And just like Jay, it seems that Alex confronted the Operator to protect a girl that was important to him (Jessica for Jay, Amy for Alex).
- In Entry #75, Jay attacked Tim physically and demanded that Tim never contact him again after he learned that Tim was lying to him, a reversal of their roles in Entry #59.
- Offscreen Teleportation: Possibly one of the Operator's abilities. Demonstrated in Entry #26, when Alex sees his girlfriend playing with one of his old cameras...which calls the Operator to their location. Entry #54 suggests it might not be teleportation at all - he just moves really, really fast when no-one's looking.
- Parental Neglect: It seems that Tim's mother was "never really around" to help him through his darkest hours when he was confined at the mental hospital as a child. Tim's father is never mentioned at all, suggesting that he wasn't in the picture.
- Phlebotinum Pills: Tim speculates it was his nondescript medication that allowed him to ward off the Operator's influence in Entry #72. Considering Hoodie, who seems to know more about the Operator, went out of his way to steal some of Tim's, it shows that they're indeed working.
- Pyrrhic Victory: Entry #86. Alex is finally dead, but not before Tim was unable to save Jay or Brian, let alone the rest of the cast. He's all by himself; everyone else is dead. He's resorted to becoming a murderer to stop a murderer, and if what Alex said is true, it's likely the Operator's going to be hanging around him the rest of his life, and that his only option is to stop spreading its influence is to kill himself. He then collapses on the stairs in Benedict Hall, leaving it ambiguous as to whether he's dead or not.
- Precision F-Strike: In Entry #73, Hoody, of all people, mutters "Oh shit" when he hears Alex coming.
- Properly Paranoid: Alex, and later Jay, seem like insane paranoids taping themselves 24 hours a day, but examining these tapes shows that they have VERY good reasons to worry.
- In Entry #50, Jay thinks he hears footsteps behind him as he and Alex walk through the woods. There was. He later catches Tim following him and chases him around for a bit.
- Entry #50 again. Though one might think Jay to be Genre Blind again to due agreeing to meet Alex after their fight in Entry #47, he appears to be using his head by bringing a pocket knife, just in case Alex tries something. He doesn't, but can't be too careful. This is brought home in Entry #52, when it was revealed that Alex intended to murder him. Not that the pocketknife would have helped since Alex had a gun.
- In Entry #52, we also see that Jay has the good sense to sleep fully-dressed and still wearing his shoes and chest-mounted camera, so that if something wakes him up in the middle of the night he can be up and running immediately.
- In Entry #67.5, Tim and Jay go on the run once they realize Alex is now on the hunt for them.
- In Entry #69, Jay swears he saw someone watching him who quickly disappeared. The camera wasn't able to see who it was, but the audio did get distorted.
- Tim spends most of Entry #85 sitting around his apartment waiting for Alex to show up. He does, and it doesn't end well.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The audio in Forecast may be from Beethoven's Fifth, fourth movement, played backwards with other obfuscations.
- Public Execution: Done within the bounds of a Lost Woods. This may be tied to the Operator's origin.
- Rapid-Fire "No!":
- Jay does this in Entry #46 when he sees the Operator through the window.
- Tim does it in Entry #72 when he sees Jay lying on the ground.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: Because the show is written and produced on the fly, with entries being posted to YouTube pretty much as soon as they're done, delays and last minute script changes are common. Jay can update his twitter to say the next entry will be posted shortly, only for creator Troy to hit a snag that causes Jay to lose 2 days of time. Luckily, Jay is a pretty Unreliable Narrator so it works in character. Notable examples include:
- Noentry had to be quickly pulled down and re-edited after eagle-eyed viewers noticed a continuity error.
- Entry #50 was delayed by about a week because the boys were waiting for an item to be delivered. They later revealed it to be Alex's jacket; they misplaced the one they used in Entry #38 and had to get a matching replacement for continuity reasons (since Entry #38 and #50 were set on the same day).
- Entry #65 had the longest in-season wait between entries in the series' history, thanks to crazy weather that was hitting Alabama that prevented filming. A year and a half later, Entry #85 was delayed for similar reasons.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Entry #59 consists entirely of Tim laying it on Jay.
- The Reveal:
- In Entry #35, the Masked Man is finally revealed to be Tim.
- In Entry #43, we find out who Jessica is: she was Amy's roommate.
- Entry #52 is one big reveal about Alex's true motives, how Jay and Jessica ended up in the hotel in the first place, and how they suffered their amnesia.
- Entry #59 Tim has been suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia for most of his life, and specifically doesn't remember anything about being the Masked Man.
- In Entry #66, we learn that Tim has been seeing The Operator since he was a child, and might be the reason that everyone else has been affected by it.
- In Entry #75, we learn that Tim has been lying to Jay since the end of Entry #62: he woke up with a video tape in his pocket that showed him what happened to Jessica. He's been leading Jay on in order to get help finding Alex and dealing with the Operator.
- In Entry 84 we learn the Hooded Man is actually Tim's best friend Brian.
- Re Watch Bonus: In Entry #20, Alex is describing the abandoned hospital from Entry #51, #58, and #60 to Jay.
- Right Behind Me: Could be retitled "Right Behind Me: The Series." Notable instance in Entry #46: the Operator appears in Alex's house behind Alex. Jay bolts as soon as he appears, but Alex doesn't seem to notice.
- Room Full of Crazy: With Alex, to an extent. Probably Jay too.
- Rouge Angles of Satin: Entry #52 was uploaded twice, because the first version contained typos. The second upload also contains a typo, but this is dismissed by Word of God saying that it was intentional, as it's just how Jay types.
- Rule of Scary: Considering the source material, this is a given.
- Rustproof Blood: Several times throughout the series. The blood-caked sink in Entry 16 has a definite red sheen to it.
- Sacrificial Lion: Jessica, Jay, and the Hooded Man's presumed deaths occurring in close succession make it clear that things have gotten very serious now.
- Scenery Gorn: Arguably, the factory/house/whatever that Alex and Seth are seen exploring in Entry #22. Also, the tunnel from Entry #29 and Entry #49.
- Scenery Porn: The burned-out husk of a building visited in Entry #51, with small trees growing past dilapidated walls and long abandoned walkways, artfully straddles the line between this and Scenery Gorn. (Which is probably one reason Alex decided to film there.)
- Scooby-Dooby Doors: An unnerving version in Entry #23.
- Scrapbook Story: It starts out as one of these, and then Jay learns he has problems of his own.
- Seeker Archetype: Jay. At first he just watched out of curiosity, but his focus quickly changed to trying to find out what was going on, and eventually he settled on the goal of finding Alex. This Twitter post indicates he may have been becoming obsessed.
Jay: Looking through some surveillance footage. Not sure what I'll find. I feel like I just have know one more time what's been going on.
- In Entry #51, Alex says that the footage is to be from the main character's old elementary school that burned down, which is the premise of the entry "I'm Okay" in Everyman HYBRID.
- The trailer for Alex's original film had Alex quoting the Zybourne Clock.
- In Entry #70, the Operator's stance and the way it affects the camera are very reminiscent of the character's video game counterpart from Slender.
- Slender Man Mythos: It was/is the first video series featuring Slender Man (although they like to call him the Operator). Can be credited with a large portion of the mythos' popularity.
- Interestingly, despite being the grandfather of the found-footage archetype for other series', the creators have explicitly gone out of their way to keep their story separate from the greater mythos, saying they'd prefer to show their own interpretation of Slendy rather than get it muddled up with the Continuity Porn of the rest of the fandom.
- Slow Walk: In Entry #43, Alex seems to do this as he walks towards the Operator. Unlike most examples of this trope, it's impossible to tell whether he's heroically defying the Operator's influence or if he's gone crazy from The Operator's influence.
- Snark-to-Snark Combat: Tim and Jay really have at each other in Entry #63. It's not surprising, considering what they've both been subjected to up to this point.
- So What Do We Do Now?:
- After the terror of Entry #23, Jay declares he no longer wants anything to do with any of this. Soon after, he tweets about feeling "totally functionless after quitting." However, Entry #24 shows that Jay can't really just quit this anyway.
- Season 2 is this in spades. Almost every Breather Episode is Jay being told to stay put and wait for Alex to call him. This comes to a head in Entry #47, when Jay has finally had enough and calls out Alex on their lack of progress.
- Entry #63 is an entire So What Do We Do Now? episode, as Tim and Jay discuss their lack of progress, what their priorities should be, and what their next step is.
- Speak of the Devil: Something similar. It seems that disturbing anything related to the disastrous "Marble Hornets" shoot will draw the attention of the Operator.
- Spiritual Successor: Everyman HYBRID has been called this.
- Stalking Mission: A non-gaming example. Entry #66 has Jay and Tim follow Hoodie/totheark down the hallway in the abandoned hospital.
- Stern Chase: Alex has been hunting Jay down for years, ever since Season 2 began. Possibly even longer, if Entry #85's implication that it was him who burnt down Jay's apartment is true.
- Stock Footage: Some old clips from what looks like 50's cinema are used in two of totheark's videos. Surprisingly, it's quite effective.
- Stop Trick: The Operator appears and disappears by way of one of these a few times in season 2 (most noticeably in #49 and #51).
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: This is what the actual student film was going to be about.
- Stylistic Suck: What little we see of Marble Hornets the student film underwhelms. Lampshaded in Entry #58:
Tim: I'm going to be completely honest here: I really don't understand why you're going through all this trouble just to finish off this movie, 'cos, as far as I remember, even by student film standards it wasn't particularly good.
- Suddenly Voiced: In Entry #73, Hoody can be heard muttering "Oh, shit," when he hears Alex coming.
- Surreal Horror: The series in general and totheark's videos in particular.
- Talking Is a Free Action: Subverted in Entry #76 when Alex holds Jessica at gunpoint. She tackles him while he's trying to apologize and talk her down.
- Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: By Entry #63, Tim has agreed to start working with Jay. They're by no means friends, however, and spend more time bickering and arguing than discussing their next plan of action. In later entries, however, they seem to have moved beyond this and begun to care about each other- they're all they've got, after all.
- Teleport Spam: Seems to be the Operator's standard style of movement starting midway through season one. First the camera starts to go nuts, then a particularly bad piece of static or a quick camera movement and then he just appears. Also comes into play in Entry #65 when Tim is being transported all over the place including possibly the Operator's domain during his Mind Rape and Entry #83 during Tim's chase with the Hooded Man, which sends them to many of the locations used throughout the series including Rosswood, the Tunnel, The Operator's Domain, and the abandoned hospital.
- Tempting Fate: In Entry #51, Alex keeps mentioning that they're in an abandoned burnt-out building and that nothing could possibly go wrong a lot. Far too much for a genre-savvy viewer to feel safe. Possibly invoked- Alex was intentionally leading Brian to the Operator.
- The End... Or Is It?: At the very final episode, just when everything seems to have been resolved... Tim has a coughing fit. It could just be a mere coincidence, or something much worse...
- Title Drop: The final line of Entry ###### drops totheark's (account) name.
"AND YOU WILL LEAD ME TO THE ARK/ AND YOU WILL LEAD ME, TOTHEARK."
- Too Dumb to Live: Jay's persisting Genre Blindness has been posing him some serious health risks.
- Troubled Production: In-Universe. The student film, to say the least.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Marble Hornets (The Film), In-Universe.
- Unbuilt Trope: This series inspired numerous imitators. So it may be surprising that it also picks apart many of the tropes and clichés that it's imitators use without thinking. Jay lacks discretion and publicly broadcasts all his findings, actions, and plans online in a way that anyone and everyone can see what he's up to, including his (potential) enemies and allies. This is realistically shown to be a very bad idea. Also, the Ax-Crazy masked men and Totheark are in fact working against the Operator rather than with him - well, in the case of Masky, whenever he's Tim. This, alongside the low-budget nature of the series, makes Marble Hornets feel like a deconstruction of the many Slender Man series that it inspired, especially the lower quality ones that misuse the things that make Marble Hornets good.
- Unreliable Narrator:
- Jay's typo-laden, cryptic tweets, erratic posting patterns and blackouts have not done his credibility any good.
- Alex's confrontational outbursts, erratic behavior, and inability to explain why his judgment should be trusted doesn't help others feel good about him. As we learn in season 2, these doubts are well founded
- totheark has frequently threatened, mocked, and stalked Jay and Alex (to say nothing of the masked men physically attacking them both). However, the fact that he keeps dropping clues and warnings about the events suggests that totheark might be trying to help or protect Jay.
- Entry #71 shows that Alex handing the tapes to Jay did not go the way Jay remembered, and hints that Jay's recollection of other events might not be trustworthy either.
- Tim, in general, because his memory of events is clouded by having amnesia anytime Masky takes over. He gets better after Jay reveals everything to him, though even this is put into doubt by the end of the series, when it's revealed Jessica alive and Tim's been in regular contact with her. He tells her Jay's moved away and gave him his camera; whether or not Jay also came back from the dead off-screen or whether Tim's lying to her is left ambiguous.
- The Unreveal: In entry #68, Hoody takes off his mask while in front of the camera... but his face is just out of the frame.
- Three times in Entry #83 Tim tries moves to take off Hoody's mask. The first time, he removes the mask, but the frame fills with bright light and static, preventing us from seeing a face, the second the Operator appears before he can remove it and the third he gets teleported to an open field before he can remove it.
- Unreveal Angle: The identity of "Hoody" is one of the key mysteries. Entry #68 shows him taking off the mask, but the camera is on the ground and the shot is cut off just below his face.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Alex seems rather apathetic to the Operator showing up on his porch and in his house. The implications aren't pretty.
- Unwitting Pawn: ALMOST EVERYONE is this to the Operator.
- Vague Age: Everyone. They're out of college, or in their last years of it, but they're not nailed down by exact age. Only Tim gets a specific age range stated... in season three. It seems that unless it's important to the plot, it's not going to come up.
- Villain Protagonist: Depending on when the Start of Darkness all began, Alex might have been this in Season 1.
- Villain Teleportation: We see this in #65 when Tim is teleported by The Operator from the tunnel to the water several times. And then to... somewhere else which may be wherever the Operator hangs out, or at least it's wherever the Operator took the body of Alex's victim.
- Villainous Rescue:
- In Entry #45, Alex is at the mercy of two masked men... who immediately flee when they see something off-camera. Alex doesn't turn around, but the telltale film tearing strongly implies that it's the Operator.
- After an entire season of antagonizing Jay, one of the masked men ends up saving him and Jessica from Alex in Entry #52.
- In Entry #67, The Operator appears in time to stop Hoody from shooting Alex in the head.
- Voice of the Legion:
- Audio distortion often gives the Operator's victims this effect, especially during intense emotional outbursts for some reason.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: Subverted in Entry #65. Thanks to Tim's chest-mounted camera, we can see him clearly puking up blood at one point.
- Played straight, in an interesting way, in Entry #86: While Tim is in the midst of breaking down after savagely stabbing Alex, he doubles over to puke. Now, because this time a handheld camera is being used instead of a chest-mounted one, we don't see it. What we do end up seeing, thanks to Tim's arm swinging down in the process, is that the Operator took Alex away.
- Wham Episode: In a series like Marble Hornets, entries are extremely polarized between 'wham' and 'filler'.
- Entry #14. The Operator walks right into Alex's bedroom before vanishing. This is the point where Alex realizes how deep he's in, and the original set of tapes ends.
- Entry #18 is the introduction of the Masked Man.
- Entry #19. Jay admits he's been filming himself, much like Alex, and the Masked Man appears in Jay's room, abducting him.
- Entry #22. Jay watches the tape he found at the Red Tower and discovers Seth's fate and the moment Alex decided to run away and escape everything.
- Entry ######. Totheark hijacks the channel, leaving a message for Jay, which leads into...
- Entry #25. Jay's apartment is burnt down, forcing him to go on the run.
- Entry #26. Jay receives a video from a still very much alive Alex. And the Operator has found him.
- Entry #27. Jay wakes up in a hotel with no memory of the past seven months.
- Entry #32. Jessica's appearance and circumstances seem somehow connected to the Operator until in this entry she freaks out and admits that she's had the exact same memory loss and sickness symptoms as Jay.
- Entry #35. Jay and Alex met up sometime during the missing seven months, and Tim is the Masked Man.
- Entry #49. as it's the episode we find out Alex is a murderer.
- Entry #51. Taking the above even further, Alex been a murderer even back when he was making his film, and is possibly working for the Operator.
- Entry #52 reveals that Alex tried to kill Jay and Jessica, to be stopped at the last second by Tim. And that night, they were visited by The Operator, who erased their memories.
- #59: Tim reveals that he has no memory of anything that has happened while he was the Masked Man.
- After a Fridge moment, in Entry #60.5, Jay finds a photo of his and Tim's argument from #59 in the folder containing Tim's medical documents. The "WATCHING" on the back is very reminiscent of totheark's videos. He's finally made direct contact with Jay.
- Entry #61. The hooded person steals Tim's pills, causing the latter to go into a seizure and eventually leave as if in a trance. His destination? Implicitly Rosswood Park. Jay goes in after him.
- Entry #64. Alex is not only still alive, but is watching Jay and Tim.
- It gets worse in Entry #67: Alex came extremely close to offing Tim, and was only stopped by totheark's intervention. This makes Tim and Jay realize how deep they're in and forces them to go on the run to an anonymous hiding place in Entry #67.5.
- Entry #71: One of the tapes Alex attempted to burn shows the moment when Jay asked Alex to give him the Marble Hornets tapes and caused this whole mess to get started. Everything seems to be going as Jay explained way back in the first video... until Alex suddenly beats the crap out of Jay leaves him out for the Operator. Naturally, Jay doesn't remember any of this, causing him (and the audience) to question what else Alex has caused him to forget.
- A small but effective one is found in entry #73, where it is revealed that Hoodie stole the medicine from Tim not to make him revert into his Masky persona, but because he needs it.
- Entry #75: Tim attempts to hide a tape from Jay, but gets caught out for it. Jay attacks and manages to snag the tape. Tim tells him that he needs to see it, but not now because it will "ruin everything we've been working for". Jay runs away, with static and coughing closing off the video.
- Entry #76: Jessica has been gone - probably dead - the whole time, and not only did Tim know, he might've had something to do with it.
- Entry #77: Jay is now a psychotic wreck, unable to understand that Tim was not to blame for Jessica's fate and that he can't do anything for her anymore. Tim takes Jay's camera and has pretty much taken over the Youtube account.
- Entry #80: Jay is shot by Alex and is finally taken by the Operator. Tim is too late to save him, and fails to catch Hoody. Tim is now all alone.
- Entry #83: Tim confronts the Hooded Man at the college, vowing to kill him, and as a result of the Operator's influence and teleportation, they end up on an epic chase across most of the locations featured throughout the series. Tim apparently makes good on his vow, driving him off of a high ledge. The Hooded Man's seemingly lifeless body is taken by the Operator to the dark realm seen in Entry 65, leaving Tim with his pills and a new tape which he had been carrying.
- Entry #84 reveals, in a surprisingly quiet Breather Episode, that Brian is Hoody. Of course, to a good deal of the fanbase, this was The Untwist.
- Entry #85: Alex enters Tim's house looking for him, and burns it to the ground.
- Entry #86: Alex and Tim finally face off. The fight ends when Tim manages to stab Alex (first in the neck, then in multiple other spots). Alex then states that if his death doesn't make the Operator go away, then he has to kill any other person who may be causing his existence... including Tim himself. Then the Operator comes in (having warped Alex and Tim to several past locations during their fight) to take Alex away. The video ends with Tim collapsing and dropping the camera down some stairs... which brings up the question of who posted the video. Also, it's been confirmed: Brian and Jay are dead.
- Entry #87: Jessica is alive and Tim has been in regular contact with her for an undisclosed amount of time. During their conversation, it's revealed Jessica's forgotten all about Jay and only knows about him through Tim, and Tim says Jay's still alive and has moved away to get a new start. Tim then suffers a coughing fit before the camera cuts to him driving to a crossroads.
- Wham Line:
- From Entry #17, one of the first major twists in the series:
Jay: "But there's something else about it that really disturbs me.
I don't remember any of it ever happening."
Jay: "The past 7 months are completely missing from my memory."
Jessica: "You haven't been having any kind of, like, memory loss or anything, have you?"
"These [totheark responses] are so inconsistent. It's like they're being made by different people."
- Another one from totheark's first response of season three:
"I HAVE NOT FORGOTTEN".
Phone: Leave. Now.
Jay: That was Alex.
Tim: This was my room
- From Entry #75, right after Jay tackles Tim:
: Give me the tape.
Tim"It was in my pocket when we woke up in Rosswood."
- Wham Shot:
- In entry #52, Jay hears Jessica shout and runs to check on her. He opens the door, and walks straight into the Operator himself.
- Tim finding Jay's corpse in Entry #83.
- While you would expect Tim and Alex's fight in Entry #86 to be somewhat brutal, you have to admit that Tim stabbing Alex in the jugular wasn't expected. Especially as Tim was trying to talk him down all throughout their fight.
- Entry #87: Tim is having a smoke, when he notices something and turns around, revealing Jessica.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Rocky, Alex's dog, is mentioned in an early video. Alex tapes himself for weeks. We never see or even hear Rocky. totheark's Forecast video hints at something very bad happening to the dog, though. That weird pulsating thing at the start, what could it be? A heart of some kind, perhaps. Some eagle-eyed fan spotted that the clip was taken from a video called "Experiments in the Revival of Organisms", in which Soviet scientists reanimate the organs of a dead dog. Oh dear...
- The interview with Tim in Entry #15 brings up Alex finding dead animals on his lawn.
- What the Hell, Hero?:
- Jay calls out Alex after their ambushing of Tim. "You broke his leg with a block of cement!"
- Alex also calls out Jay in Entry #46 for breaking into his house (and doing a rather poor job of it as well). He does it again, much more scathingly in Entry #47, though Jay counters with one of his own.
- TTA calls Jay out for wasting time (in his own way).
- Alex in Entry #52 calls out Jay for getting Jessica involved and breaking his promise to never mention Marble Hornets again. At gunpoint, no less!
- Tim all throughout Entry #59, with a nice helping of "The Reason You Suck" Speech. He calls Jay out on undertaking the whole project, for keeping secrets from him, for stalking him, filming absolutely everything, ruining his and several others' lives, and otherwise failing at just about every single turn.
- Tim calls Jay out again in Entry #63 (much more calmly this time) for some of his later actions. Namely, leaking his Medical Files on the internet.
- Where It All Began:
- Jay and Tim return to the original filming locations of Marble Hornets - including the gazebo and red tower - in Entry #69.
- Entry #71 gives an alternate account of Jay coming over to Alex's house to receive the tapes.
- White Mask of Doom: The masked men.
- Whole Episode Flashback: Technically the whole series is a mish-mash of non-linear chronology and footage filmed in the past, but some entries tend to stand out more than others. Entries #22, #51 and #84 are the most notable, as they both jump backwards in time from the chronology of events the viewer and Jay are currently following, and they show footage of the student film which is integral in explaining the disappearance of the cast.
- Entry #67 goes into this as well, with the tape that Jay found revealing that, during Tim's drug-induced visit to his old hospital, Alex showed up, was attacked by the hooded man and Tim and was possibly saved by the arrival of the Operator.
- Entry #76 shows how Jessica was abducted from the hotel, who did it, and what happened to her afterwards.
- Who Is Driving?: There's only one question at the end of Entry #86: if Tim's dead, who uploaded the video?
- Entry #87 reveals that Tim is still alive...and so is Jessica. We're not left with much of an explanation about this.
- Who Would Want to Watch Us?: Rare non-comedic example in Entry #59 when Tim questions Jay about why he feels the need to record everything and post it on YouTube.
Tim: All you ever do is point your camera at every little thing that happens! How does that help anybody?
Jay: In case something happens, I want people to know.
Tim: Like who?! Who the hell is gonna' care?
- You Can't Go Home Again: Jay at the end of season 1 due to his apartment being burnt down, and Tim towards the end of season 3 due to his house also being burnt down.