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YMMV: Marble Hornets

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Archive Binge: This is how Jay's troubles all started, after deciding to watch Alex's old tapes from the movie shoot in hopes of finding hints to help in tracking down his old friend.
    • On a Meta level, doing this can kill some of the suspense that the series creates, as late-comers to the show won't always catch right away things like Jay's 7 month gap in posting or the fact that each entry is posted roughly a month apart.
  • Base Breaker: Early on it was totheark, then Masky became a minor one, then Jessica, then the second masky, "enttry 37", and for the most part Season 2 in general. Inevitable, as Troy had stated that he deliberately wanted Season 2 to feel much different to avoid just making a bad clone of the first season, and there are some that regard it as a Sophomore Slump since Season 3 is generally agreed to have the best aspects of both seasons, but there are just as many who find the second Season to be just as good if not better than the first.
    • More recently, there has been more division on the quality of Season 3 itself, with several fans complaining of a lack of answers and overly slow pace for such a late point in the series. These complaints have grown increasingly less common in the entries starting with the mid-70s, however.
    • The final entry.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Near the end of entry #22, after Seth's apparent demise, there is a brief, silent 2-3 second shot of a Nightmare Face, before cutting to Alex talking. It hasn't been brought up since, and it is unknown where the face came from or who it belonged to, but there is a possibility that it could be foreshadowing the eventual dual masky attack in entry #45, as the details of the second mask are distorted and never quite shown clearly. Could also just be a result of Rule of Scary.
    • The Nightmare Face has since made another reappearance on the back of Tim's medical documents. The face may also strongly imply that Seth could be the mysterious hooded man we have been seeing, since the downcast features of both seem to be the same.
    • Entry #71 implies that the face may have been Jay.
  • The Chris Carter Effect: Though it may ultimately tie everything up, the story does continue to accumulate questions at a much higher rate than answers - and significant labor is demanded in accessing the latter. Indeed, even the finale leaves a handful of questions up in the air. It's not clear if the feature film will answer some of the questions or leave them as a part of the mystery.
  • Creepy Awesome: The Operator, The Masked Man, and Totheark.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: The Masked Man, or Masky, got the most fanart even back when he was only in a few entries. Also, Tim has gained a good following due to his striking good looks, being the Only Sane Man and The Woobie, and massive sideburns. Might also be because they're the same person.
    • The cast of the student film has a sizable following as well, and many fans want to see them return. Brian in particular has a huge fanbase within the Marble Hornets community.
    • The man in the white shirt whom Alex murders in Entry #49 has garnered some interest too, out of a combination of his unknown back story and the fact his small role did more in establishing a crucial plot element (i.e. that Alex is a murderer) than the rest of the side cast ever did.
  • Epileptic Trees: Almost literally. At the bottom of the frame in Entry #49, from 3:30 to 3:38, there is a strange moving shape in the background that could be a tree branch or not. Fan speculation is, as is only to be expected, rife.
  • Estrogen Brigade: They're here for Masky.
  • Evil Is Cool: The Operator of course.
  • Fan Wank: Just look at the Headscratchers page to see it firsthand.
  • First Installment Wins/Seasonal Rot/Sophomore Slump: Not a very severe example, but there is a decent amount of fans who prefer the bleak atmosphere and minimalist plot of the first season over the Daylight Horror/character driven detective story of the second season. Fridge Logic might have something to do with that, though there are many who find the second season just as terrifying as the first. As you can see by this page.
  • Fridge Horror / Epileptic Trees: #22 spawned a lot of this for Seth.
  • Growing the Beard: Where or whether it happened depends largely on whether you prefer the pure found-footage style of the earliest entries or the more character-driven detective story of later entries, but it probably happened somewhere around either the beginning of Jay's present-day investigations with his visits to the house or the beginning of Season 2, both of which marked a shift in style towards what would become that of the vast majority of the series.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The audio distortions are one of the creepiest things in the series.
    • Entry #5. Hope your speakers weren't turned up!
    • Entry #22: Seth's distorted screaming as he gets taken down
    • Entry #23: Besides the multiple distortions of Jay´s voice and several strange noises, some GODDAMN LAUGHTER is heard at one point.
    • Entry #26: That buzzing drone at the beginning of the footage is freakin' horrifying, especially when coupled with the distorted visuals.
    • Entry #35: The distorted scream Masky/Tim lets out as Alex brings the rock down on his leg.
    • There's a soft, hollow tapping sound that appears in certain situations. It also shows up in meditation videos, which can scare the living daylights out of Marble Hornets fans trying to relax.
    • enttry #37: While most of the audio is normal, the voice of Alex's father, who's holding the camera and therefore the most audible, sounds slowed down and just a bit too deep. It's very creepy.
    • Entry #45: Alex's voice distorts at the end when he says 'I'll kill you!'
    • Entry #46: The ultra-loud, ultra-sudden distortion which occurs during the Jump Scare.
    • Entry #65: Tim's screaming as he's dragged off through the woods is gut-wrenching.
    • Entry #78: Jay's feral grunts as he searches for medicine and runs off when he can't find any shows how much he's lost it.
  • He Really Can Act: There were a handful of complaints that the cast's acting abilities, while decent, felt somewhat wooden at times. In Season 3, Tim really puts a lot of emotion into his character during a number of scenes, and establishes himself as the best actor in the series. This includes a time while he's holding camera, leaving himself offscreen.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • This fan-made poster from summer 2010. It's getting more and more fitting with each new entry.
    • The ending of Joseph Writes a Paper manages to foreshadow what Alex tries to do to Jay in Entry #52 and the kind of actions he pulls in Entry #49. Note that Joseph Writes a Paper was uploaded in December 2010 and #49 and #52 were uploaded a year later in 2011.
    • In the Season 2 premier, after waking up with no memory from the past seven months, Jay tries "1234" first when trying open the safe. Chronologically earlier during the seven months, in the Season 2 finale, Jessica suggests Jay uses "1234" for his safe, but Jay says that's what he would try first. On the Season 2 DVD commentary, Troy said he hoped TV Tropes would talk about this, listing it under "Hilarious in Hindsight," but at the time it hadn't yet been. You may notice this has been remedied.
    • Invoked, since the trailer for Alex's movie was shown on the Season 2 DVD, but one of the lines in the narration has Tim's character saying that he sometimes feels like he's "Wearing a mask" when he's around other people.
    • In the radio interview, Joseph and Troy comments that they probably won't be selling any merchandise - "what are you gonna do... draw a circle with an x and sell that?" Since then, they have indeed started selling Marble Hornet T-shirts with the Operator Symbol on them.
  • Ho Yay: There's a little bit of this in Entry #64 between Jay and Tim, though it may be Jay just being awkward. In general, ass-shots seem to be very common.
    • On his ongoing investigation Jay constantly acts as if he's trying to ask Tim out on a date.
    • Watch the trailer for Alex's movie from the season 2 DVD. The way it's cut (as well as certain lines, like "wearing a mask") seems to suggest a love story between Brian and Tim's characters.
  • HSQ: Entry #65. We get to see what happens when you get Mind Raped by The Operator. Tim gets drowned, warped all around various Eldritch Locations, vomits blood, dragged through the forest, wakes up next to a dead body, and in the end has a Freak Out and tries to overdose on pills. Now imagine all of that happening (save the Freak Out) in the timespan that it took Jay to run to his car. All of it is shown in about three minutes in the video.
  • Hype Backlash: Some people who hear about the series then check it out get really disappointed in the slow pace of the First Season and the large amount of Filler, as well as the rare appearance of the Operator in general.
  • I Knew It:
    • The mysterious masked man really was Tim, as several fans realized when they noticed Tim wearing the same jacket in Entry #20 as the masked man was wearing in Entries #18 and 19. His identity isn't actually revealed until his unmasking at the hands of Alex and Jay in Entry #35.
    • Jay tweeted on the 9th of July: '(Totheark's) videos are so inconsistent. It's like they're being made by different people. No way I can prove that, though.' Despite explicitly stating he can't prove it, some fans are preemptively fist-pumping.
    • Entry #45 confirms the existence of at least two masked entities.
    • After Entries #60 and 61, it was widely speculated that Tim used to be a patient at the burned down mental hospital while it was functional and that he was stalked by the Operator as a child. This is confirmed in Entry #66.
    • When the tweet announcing the upload of Entry #72 came out, fans speculated that it was sent by Tim on behalf of Jay due to uncharacteristic grammar errors. About a month later, Tim sent out a tweet confirming that yes, he's the one behind the official twitter for now.
    • Brian being Hoody. It was such a popular theory that barely anyone was shocked when it was finally revealed to be true.
    • Jessica being alive.
  • In Name Only: The Operator only superficially resembles the very first Slender Man stories on Something Awful. He doesn't have tentacles, isn't a child kidnapper though later entries show he definitely has been stalking some of the characters since childhood, doesn't have a Lovecraftian style cult worshipping him, and doesn't rearrange people's organs. Ironically, since Marble Hornets popularized Slender Man most stories tend to either take more from the Operator then the original Slender Man stories or blend the two. The creators enforce this trope, however, and explain that the Operator is supposed to be an entirely different entity similar to Slender Man, but not Slendy himself.
  • It Was His Sled: After watching the tapes, supernatural events start surrounding Jay in real life too. Jay was involved with the shoot but doesn't remember due to Laser-Guided Amnesia. It's hard to believe that all of those were originally twists in the first season, but since then the plot has moved so far beyond them that they lose their gravity in hindsight. The Masked Man's existence and identity are both this as well. Still, to a newcomer, all of those twists can still come as a shock.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Hooded Man has been screwing with the protagonists for ages and stole Tim's medication, but he's in just as much danger from the Operator as everyone else and needs that medication. And as much as he's been fucking around with Jay, Tim, and Jessica he's definitely on their side even though they don't know it.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    "Hey, Jay! You forgot your flashlight!"
    "You got lost in woods you've never been in."
    "You brought your dog!"
  • Memetic Sex God:
    • Tim. Both the character and the actor have a rather large cult following in the fandom.
    • Brian is on his way to this status as well.
      • It's more like he's surpassed them, at this point. The creators themselves do not help.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Alex was always kind of a dick, but he crosses the line in Entry 49 when he straight up murders a dude.
    • Just to make sure he has officially crossed the line and lost all sympathy, #51 reveals he lured his friends to be "taken" by the Operator. Following this in #52 he attempts to murder Jay (who seems to have pretty much left his entire life behind to help Alex) and also Jessica who was completely innocent (and knew nothing about what had been happening) simply because he wanted to tie up loose ends.
      • Coldcocking a guy while he's taking a piss is also a really low blow.
    • There were still those who felt that he could still find some redemption in spite of his horrible actions. But most any chance of sympathy was lost for good in Entry 76, when he exploits Jessica's amnesia to lure her to the tunnel where the Operator is waiting, and then murders her.
    • For some, Jay crossed it in Entry #77, when he goes to Tim's house with a knife and zip-ties for the purpose of interogating/torturing Tim to get information that, were he thinking clearly, he would know that Tim can't possibly know. Most, however, excuse his actions as having been influenced by the Operator and/or the declining mental state he showed before that.
    • The Hooded Man to some in Entry 61. He stole Tim's medication, causing him to have a massive coughing fit, breaking down in tears, and then having some sort of seizure. However, there's still some very grey Alternate Character Interpretation here; it may have been completely fucked up, but it led to Jay and Tim being able to work together. Turned on its head in entry #73, which reveals that Totheark actually needs the medicine as well, and must resort to stealing it.
    • In entry 80, Alex shoots Jay in cold blood and leaves him to the Operator without so much as a parting word.
  • Narm:
    • Entry #28 mentions that the camera picked up noises from the room next door. Right after that, we hear some sort of thumping. Wonder what Jessica was doing...
    • Alex's dad's happy birthday song in enttry 37, otherwise a Wham Episode.
    • There's a reason why the deleted scenes on the DVD were removed from the series itself....
    • In Entry #56, a few have noted that the rebar Alex used to beat Tim looked like a stick. Making the scene less dramatic and just strange. The sound effect made as Alex hits Tim even sounds like it's a stick beating wood. This, folks, is why Kung-Foley can actually be a good thing.
    • Discussed in the Season 2 DVD commentary regarding Entry #45. Sadly, the shot in question didn't make it to the DVD outtake reel.
      Troy: This original shot right here had Mystery Fella at the door at the door when Joseph opened it, but we could not make the shot so that it wasn't hilarious.
    • Played for Laughs with the scenes featuring production of Alex's in-universe movie (as well as the trailer), which is deliberately done to resemble a wangsty, stereotypical indie movie that tries too hard to be original and dramatic.
    • In Entry #86, Alex moves Brian's dead body around by the head. Brian looks like he's smiling as he's doing this.
  • Narm Charm: The base is broken wide open on whether the birthday song in enttry 37 is hilarious or not.
    • Tim's seizure in episode 61, while horrifying and heartbreaking, it's a bit... funny looking. But since seizures are funny-looking, this one was remarkably accurate.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page. Stylistically speaking, it's The Blair Witch Project meets The Ring and Cloverfield, with a little dash of the Chzo Mythos on top, and with everything non-essential stripped away. A scene involving something as simple as a man walking into a dimly lit room has kept people awake for days. In a nutshell, a whole fucking lot. The simple sound of a person coughing is even enough to scare the living daylights out of any Marble Hornets fan.
    • If you take a look on the Nightmare Fuel page, you'll find that almost all of the entries have corresponding Nightmare Fuel. It's that kind of series.
  • Nightmare Retardant:
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • How about The Operator nonchalantly walking into your bedroom as you sleep and disappearing for no reason?
    • Or you know, totheark appearing in your room to stare at you and take you somewhere for three hours....without you even realizing it.
    • The Operator silently standing in the darkness, in front of you... INSIDE YOUR OWN BLOODY HOUSE. For even more creep-factor, Alex walks straight past him without noticing.
    • Or perhaps the thought of missing seven whole months of your memory, waking up suddenly in an unfamiliar place, and then have to figure out just what the hell happened that you can't remember.
      • Compounding that, how about learning that your memory was altered years ago, and that you forgot about your buddy Alex tried to kill you right after giving you the keys to the mystery that'd ruin your life?
    • Walking through a forest, thinking you hear footsteps behind you. You go on, are unable to find anyone, and then turn around to see Masky look at you from the trees.
    • The DVD has some paranoia fuel, too. Anyone else notice the video tear during the credits?
    • Entry #86 takes the well-known 'Slender Man exists as long as people know about it' factoid from The Slender Man Mythos and runs with it. Even if Alex's rant and motives are misguided, the mere thought is unsettling. It might not just be the cast who are 'infected' by him; it could be anyone who's ever watched the videos.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: The series is very quickly heading here, thanks to the massive amounts of Follow the Leader within The Slender Man Mythos.
    • Sturgeon's Law: Despite the large quantity of copycats, only a few receive the attention and praise that Marble Hornets gets.
  • So Bad, It's Good: The season one DVD Commentary. It mostly consists of funny stories about being fired, bad jokes, Nightmare Retardant, the creators being kind-of drunk, and boatloads of Self-Deprecation. There is some cool information about the making of the series, but discussion of Marble Hornets itself only crops up in a few videos, and when it does, it comes with a Crowning Moment of Funny and Nightmare Retardant. They only acknowledge The Operator himself about twice. As well as the totheark videos, where they outright state that they are only going to be cracking bad jokes instead of discussing the videos or their meanings. And it's all awesome. It's really more of an MST than anything.
    • Interestingly enough, Trosephim are actually ashamed of the original DVD commentary, since they feel at the time they weren't taking it as seriously as they probably should have. When they re-release the season one DVD in high-def, they're going to record a new DVD commentary for it with better audio quality and overall commentary.
  • Special Effects Failure: The "blood" on Alex's face in Entry #14. This contrasting with the genuinely frightening event that just took place makes that entry a major Base Breaker.
    • The Operator's arm from the same entry is also quite obviously fake. Although, that actually makes it creepier in a way.
    • Return is unadulterated Nightmare Fuel in first viewing. Repeated viewings, however, make the Operator look less and less realistic, especially up close.
      • Fortunately, they seemed to have improved on it by Entry #40, the only other time the Operator is seen in light and up close.
      • That the "Gimme $20" video uses footage from Return doesn't help.
    • Alex's blood in Entry #86. It makes it look like he and Tim are covered in ketchup.
  • Squick: In Entry #51, after Brian is dragged out of the room, what sounds like meat being cut can be heard. The Operator claiming another victim.
    • In Entry #65, Tim vomits blood as a result of his ordeal.
  • Uncanny Valley: Much of the "attraction" for The Operator.
    • Another example crops up in totheark's "Decay".
  • Villain Decay: The Masked Man shows up out of nowhere to attack Jay, then goes on to provide one of the scariest jumpcuts in history. As the series goes on, however, it becomes clear that, despite his apparent fetish for jumping people, he is not that great in a fight and somehow fails to ever cause Jay any real harm no matter how many times they scrap.
    • This may very well be justified taking into account a number of factors: When he attacks Jay at the hotel, he is seen limping as a result of recently having had his leg broken. In Entry #35, he does manage to do damage by stabbing Alex, not Jay, but he is then quickly overpowered by the two of them. Turns out Jay may never have really been his target at all. In Entry #45, he merely means to taunt Alex with the rock and is planning to strangle him when he and the hooded figure are scared off by what is presumed to be the Operator. In addition to that, his actual villainy can be contested due to his Big Damn Somethings moment of saving Jay and Jessica from Alex.
    • Hoodie a.k.a. totheark, a.k.a. Brian suffers from this towards the end of the series as well. Despite all his manipulations, the best he ever does is get Tim and Jay working together. He's not the one to kill Alex as he hoped, he suffers from the same sickness as Tim and has coped much, much worse, and despite all the bluster, mystery and power surrounding his character, the most he seems capable of doing is editing creepy videos and occasionally hacking Jay's account. He is eventually killed off and his identity is revealed very ineffectually and without fanfare after the fact.
  • The Woobie
    • Jay, so much so that he seems to be on the path to becoming an Iron Woobie.
    • Tim. Some would call him a Jerkass Woobie, being especially snippy and condescending to Jay before finally exploding at him in Entry #59. However, that same entry underscores how horrible his life has become: he suffers frequent bouts of amnesia and lost time, mysterious injuries pop up all over his body while he has no idea where they came from, and the constant instances of missing time make it near-impossible for him to hold down a real job or relationship. He's frequently sick, has a nasty cough, and just when he was starting to get better, Jay appears and things start getting bad for him all over again. After Entries #59, 60.5, 61, 65, and 66, he can easily be considered the biggest woobie in the whole series.
    • It gets worse from Entry #80 onwards: Jay is killed, Tim kills Hoodie and finds out he's his old best friend Brian, and then has his house burnt down by Alex. By the end of the series, Tim is pretty much a wreck. The ending leaves it extremely ambiguous as to whether or not his final words - 'Everything is fine' - are serious, sarcastic, or if something's happened and he's trying to cover face.
    • Brian, Seth, Amy, Jessica, and pretty much anyone else unrelated who got dragged into all this Operator business. Even Alex gets his fair share of woobie moments.
      • World Of Woobie because let's face it, a world where such a creature as the Operator exists is bound to have a lot of unhappy campers.

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