YMMV / Welcome to Night Vale

    open/close all folders 

     The podcast 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: While most interpretations assume that Cecil is sincere about pretty much everything he says on the radio, some go darker and assume that he's aware on at least some level that things aren't right and the lines he's being fed by Night Vale's overlords are false, but in order to stay alive he can't be seen to openly question them too often. Supporters of this interpretation note that Cecil will continue to talk about recently banned topics like the Dog Park right up until the Police, the Council, or Station Management start breathing down his neck. He's certainly aware enough not to trust StrexCorp after they buy out the radio station in "Yellow Helicopters". This is confirmed in episode 36, "Missing": when StrexCorp shuts down the station, Cecil finishes his broadcast via a pirated signal and states outright that he's normally talking around a lot of censorship.
    • Similarly, while most people assume that Carlos is a benevolent NaÔve Newcomer, other interpretations have him being somewhat more morally ambiguous. There are quite a few portrayals as a (sometimes ex) StrexCorp scientist.
    • Kevin is full of this. Most notably, his alliance to StrexCorp is questioned a lot, leading to debates that basically boil down to "Obviously Evil or Obliviously Evil?". Namely, is he really an evil, cold-hearted villain in league with an equally evil, cold-hearted organization? Or is he simply following orders? Was he brainwashed or tortured into working for StrexCorp? Or is he working for them of his own free will? Fanon interpretation tends to depend on which they think is scarier.
      • Old Oak Doors Part B implies that he used to try and resist the smiling god's light when StrexCorp took over Desert Bluffs and that part of him still screams from the inside, desperately wanting to resist.
      • In an off-handed joke, Kevin reacts very poorly to Lauren asking to call him "Kev." This could be Kevin's last shred of personal identity struggling to survive. After all, he has lost everything else to StrexCorp and the Smiling God- his name is the one thing he has left, and he won't let anyone take that from him.
      • Also about Kevin, in Episode 70A - does he think of Carlos as a friend, is he knownigly just using him, or is he interested in... something more
  • Absentee Actor: In Episode 47 and most of 19B, Cecil is not only absent, but never even mentioned. Justified in both cases, as 19B was A Day in the Limelight for Desert Bluffs, with him and Kevin briefly switching places late into both versions of 19, while in 47 Kevin is hosting for Night Vale.
    • Cecil is also silent throughout episode 65 after we hear him on the answering machine at the beginning, the rest of the episode dedicated to people leaving him messages.
    • Episode 70A is narrated completely by Kevin and Carlos, with only brief mentions of Cecil.
    • Cecil is also absent from episode 67.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Numbers Stations really exist.
  • Arc Fatigue: Carlos was lost in the desert otherworld from May 2014 to June 2015, taking its toll on Cecil and the audience.
    • Before her return, Dana was also lost in the desert/other world for a long time, from Episode 30 to 49.
  • Awesome Music: Most of the weather reports.
    • Ear Worm: Episode 2's weather, "The Bus Is Late," by Satellite High.
      Waiting for the bus in the rain, in the rain. Waiting for the bus in the rain. Waiting for the bus in the rain, in the rain. Waiting for the bus in the rain.
    • Black Sheep Hit: However, Satellite High have been getting annoyed as of late that a gag track is their best-known song.
    • Special mention should go to episode 48's "High Tide Rising". While an excellent piece on its own, its context within the story, where it herald's Cecil's return and the true chance to fight back against StrexCorp, turns it into a fist-pumping forecast of awesome, with an amazing crunchy Neil Young center.
    • Also Eliza Rickman's "Pretty Little Head" and "Closer" by Tiny.
  • Better the Devil You Know: In earlier episodes, the tenuous rulers in town were a long-established council of shrouded and robed figures. They've done a number of stupid things (like waste millions in taxpayer dollars in flimsy and unnecessary public-works projects) and a number of more devious things (such as leaving the town residents to fend for themselves during a street cleaner attack) and are pretty much established as definitely being some sort of malicious non-humanoid entity. However, Cecil always seemed to be genuinely respectful of their authority and generally deferred to their policies, even if he was somewhat wary of them. StrexCorp, however, has been treated by Cecil with deep suspicion and sometimes barely-concealed fear and hatred. Not that this isn't justified...
  • Bizarro Episode: "The September Monologues" which features monologues from the Faceless Old Woman, the owner of Dark Owl Records, previously thought to be deceased, and Steve Carlsberg. They all have monologues of their stasis and depression inside Night Vale, making for a very heartfelt and eerie episode. To top it all off, there is a layer of static on top of Cecil's narration, the weather begins but cuts off after some seconds when Steve mentions it, and the proverb is just static that grows louder and louder until the episode ends.
    • Less bizarre now that it has a sequel, "The April Monologues," which ties into the current storyline.
  • Cargo Ship: Megan Wallaby and the computer.
  • Come for the X, Stay for the Y: Come for the creepy weirdness and dark humor, stay for Cecil and Carlos's Adorkable blossoming romance.
  • Creepy Cute: In a slightly oblique use of this trope, Station Management and the City Council being in a relationship as of Skating Rink. It's adorable! And creepy. But adorable! And it's really funny listening to City Council whine about getting their income cut while in a relationship in the next episode.
  • Cry for the Devil: Desert Bluffs was once a town much like Night Vale before the Smiling God corrupted it into what it is now- they even resisted, just like Night Vale, but all of them fell- last of all their radio host, Kevin.
    • 'Triptych' is powered by this trope to heartbreaking effect.
  • Discredited Meme: Using "And now the weather" on Tumblr is a great way to get people to hate you thanks to severe overuse.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Several of the interns, notably Dana (the only intern to survive for more than an episode, now the protagonist of her own storyline and, as of Episode 49, the newly-elected Mayor of Night Vale). Tamika Flynn is also gaining popularity.
    • Scout Master Earl Harlan has a thriving fanbase, an established fanon depiction, and numerous appearances in fanfiction, fanart, and cosplay, despite only being mentioned in a couple of episodes. It probably helps that in his scant time as a character, he mentioned having feelings for Cecil.
  • Face of the Band: While Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor write the episodes together, most people associate Night Vale with Joseph, probably because he (or his double) always does the pre-show announcements.
  • Fanon:
    • The various character designs for Cecil are notable in that some have become so prevalent, people commonly mistake them for canon. These include, but are not limited to, Extra Eyes, living tattoos, tentacles, blond hair, and glasses, a younger Tim Gunn as PBS Idea Channel has described... Although as noted under Internet Backdraft there are many competing portrayals. Just to set the record straight, the only clear canonical references to Cecil's appearance have been the (non)descriptions of him and Kevin in "The Sandstorm" and his description of his outfit in "First Date", and Word of God is that his appearance in particular will remain vague.
    • Carlos' appearance is a very different matter, as a relatively non-controversial consensus on hair, build, and facial features emerged early on (although there are of course alternate views). Depictions do vary considerably in age, given that he's established to have gray coming in but it's supposed to be at least a little premature.
    • Intern Dana is usually portrayed in fan art as either Black or wearing a hijab.
      • The description of her older self in Episode 44 as having "short, natural hair" has confirmed her to be the former of these.
    • Its also pretty commonly theorized that Carlos has a Desert Bluffs Double, though his exact personality (and whether there's any relationship to Kevin) is highly mutable. The most popular version (to the extent that he's actually been cosplayed) among fanfic writers and fan artists is a high-ranking StrexCorp scientist named Diego, who is Kevin's boyfriend and whose characterization ranges from Jerk with a Heart of Gold to a borderline villain.
    • Cecil and Kevin (and sometimes Lauren) are usually drawn with a bit of Colour-Coded for Your Convenience with the former wearing purple in some way, and the latter two being depicted wearing yellow (be it in ties, waist coat, tattoos, shirt, etc.). Fans associate their towns colors with their clothing in place of actual descriptions.
    • Former Night Vale mayor Pamela Winchell is more-or-less portrayed as a relatively typical middle-aged black woman (plus or minus a few extra arms), which makes the sanity-slippage that seems inherent in the mayoral position even more terrifying than if she were instead some sort of other-worldly monster with an entirely alien perspective of things.
  • Foe Yay: Some fans perceive Cecil's inexplicable, obsessive hatred of Steve Carlsberg to mean that Cecil might have dated him once and they had a nasty breakup, or that Cecil just has a weird hate-crush on him.
    • Turns out in Episode 44 that he hates him because he perceives Steve as a deadbeat dad to his beloved niece.
      • Or not. In Episode 53, Steve himself notes Cecil was friendly towards him right up until Steve revealed an intimate-sounding knowledge of the way the totalitarian government works and he wasn't keeping it quiet. Cecil hates Steve for that and for trying to get his niece to see the same way.
    • Episode 70A pretty much runs on Foe Yay between Carlos and Kevin of all people. Complete with slashy quotes ("He's a beautiful man who does beautiful things..."), at least one character's canon sexuality, and Kevin's... interesting noises during a phone call.
  • Friendly Fandoms: A mutually friendly relationship with the Hannibal fandom helped propel Night Vale to viral success. Various other fandoms with similar surrealist themes have since become interested, such as Gravity Falls, Psychonauts, Supernatural, Homestuck, and a bit surprisingly, Magic School Bus (due to having central characters named Carlos).
    • There's a lot of crossover with The Fairly Oddparents, too, mostly "And now, the weather." "... I thought you said feather." and Steve Carlsberg as Dinkleberg.
    • Many WTNV fans have also gotten into Kakos Industries, due to their similarities as dark comedy podcasts. Emerging Fanon theory is that Kakos is linked to fellow Evil Inc. StrexCorp.
    • There's also considerable overlap with the The Black Tapes fandom, due to both being podcasts about the supernatural over the radio. The fact that the creators are fans of each other's podcasts helps.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: From ""PYRAMID"", released in late 2012:
    The Flaky-Os marketing department must be complimented for the best use of viral marketing in Night Vale since Stanís Pawn Shop released a virulent strain of Ebola back in Ď98.
  • Gateway Series: As one of the few podcasts to gain a devoted cult following, many ardent listeners have branched out to other podcasts to detail how the rest of the medium presents itself.
  • Genius Bonus: The title of the episode "The Deft Bowman" seems totally random, since nothing about its plot has anything to do with archery. However, it's actually an obscure reference to the 1983 "Able Archer Exercise", where allied forces simulated a conflict escalation in 1983... which perfectly fits the episode, which is about an alternate time-line where a Russian city was wiped off the map by a nuclear bomb in 1983.
    • Not quite as specific, but the Morse code from Episode 46, "Parade Day", has been translated as 'Tamika needs you', 'Radon Canyon in 2 hours', 'Go to Radon Canyon', 'Now now now' and in the credits, 'Fall 2015'.
    • Another possible one from "Parade Day": as Tamika is arrested, she quotes Life of Galileo by Brecht. The more obvious reason behind this is that she, like Galileo, is being persecuted for speaking the truth. However, as one commentator pointed out, Galileo recanted his views in order to avoid torture and death, meaning Tamika could actually be telling Night Vale to do whatever they need to survive, instead of dying for the cause.
    • Almost any time literature is mentioned — whether by Cecil, Tamika, or anyone else — it tends to be one of these, name-dropping and quoting Lit Fic like the above Life of Galileo, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, and Wila Cather's Death Comes for the Archbishop. If you've read the books, you can extrapolate tons about what the reference means in a Night Vale context. Otherwise, it tends to sail right over your head.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Brits apparently love Welcome to Night Vale, if the live show's performance in London—selling out at least three shows, making it the biggest success the live tour has had anywhere—is any indication.
    • For context, one of the completely sold out venues for the London leg of the tour is the Shepard's Bush Empire Arena, which is three stories of seating and is usually used for larger concerts and comedy shows. This venue sold out in about a week, and another show was added.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In-universe, Kevin's oddly hopeful tone in Episode 19A when, having switched places with Cecil, he makes an innocuous comment wondering if he's traveled backwards in time. Later, it's revealed that he used to be a radio host not unlike Cecil in a town not unlike Night Vale, before the Smiling God ate most of the person he used to be, leaving only a tiny piece inside to occasionally struggle uselessly against his new programming.
    • Meta-example. Hearing Joseph Fink talking about how the cast will be appearing at DashCon is a little cringeworthy knowing all that happened, especially to the cast themselves, who were suddenly told that their hotel rooms would not be provided by the convention, wound up getting lodging from Airbnb, and ultimately cancelled their appearance at the convention entirely.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Disturbingly, a good amount between Carlos and Kevin in 70A. Could also double as Foe Yay.

  • Internet Backdraft: It's probably better if you don't have an opinion about Cecil's race, because every opinion will get you into hot water with someone. Incidents have involved death threats against some fans arguing for a white Cecil, and lest you think only one side has anything to answer for, artists with PoC portrayals have also experienced serious harassment, and literal white supremacists making them feel unsafe. The whole thing is moot considering the only description of Cecil boils down to "average height and build, wears a tie, and has a slightly off-putting smile"... and Word of God has confirmed that the creators intend to leave physical descriptions quite vague, especially Cecil's.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When StrexCorp takes over the radio station, Lauren and Kevin reel off a long list of legitimate downsides to living in Night Vale, ranging from the inconvenient (wheat—and its by-products!—are banned) to the potentially deadly (the dog park). Of course, there are reasons for at least some of the problems on the list, their suggestion of crushing Night Vale under the heel of StrexCorp is obviously a much worse plan, and Cecil later frames it as a Better the Devil You Know situation.
  • LGBT Fanbase: Is getting quite popular with this group, and justifiably so, as the only Official Couple in the series is gay.
  • Memetic Badass: Tamika Flynn is gaining this reputation on Tumblr. Justified as of Episode 36, where she successfully evades StrexCorp and destroys a yellow helicopter with a rock.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • The Apache Tracker being an "asshole" has become associated with Johnny Depp playing a race lifted Tonto in the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger.
    • There's a lot of tongue-in-cheek speculation that Carlos is a grown-up version of Carlos from The Magic School Bus. At least one fan has suggested that Cecil knows/is related to Ms. Frizzle.
    • "The Bus is Late" has become quite memetic due to how catchy it is.
    • "... and now the weather" whenever something weird happens.
    • "Goodnight X. Goodnight" based on Cecil's closer at the end of nearly every episode.
    • "Dogs are not allowed in the Dog Park."
    • Leaving comments like "I read that in Cecil's voice" or "And now, the weather" in bizarre and somewhat ominous Tumblr threads.
    • ALL. HAIL. THE GLOW CLOUD.
    • "HE IS HOLDING A CAT."
    • Hiram McDaniels is literally a five-headed dragon.
  • Moral Event Horizon: If StrexCorp hadn't already crossed this, they certainly did in episode 43 when they critically injured Khoshekh. Though after episode 46, even that feels like mere prelude.
    • Lauren crossed it in particular in episode 48, with trying to have the bathroom containing Khoshekh's kittens destroyed after trying to have photos of them taken, destroying the stock market just to piss Kevin off (to no avail - if anything, it just gets him to show legitimate concern), and planning to have the forest destroyed out of some hatred of nature.
    • As of Episode 63, Hiram McDaniels, The Faceless Old Woman, and possibly Mayor Dana have all crossed this. Hiram and the Faceless Old Woman are revealed to have been responsible for goading Pamela Winchell into her disastrous retirement activities, set up the Monolith in front of City Hall, and released the Antiques, all in an effort to discredit Mayor Dana. Mayor Dana, on the other hand, is possibly the owner of Lot 37 - one particular radio host - and has been using him against his will to protect herself. If true, this is a severe misuse of one of her closest friends and a breach of trust, even if for a good purpose.
      • As of recently, we can cross Mayor Dana off the list. We could add Violet McDaniels because he owns Lot 37, but he honestly wants to protect Dana from his other heads.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: In Episode 48, The Night Vale theme song, heralding the return of Cecil.
  • Narm: Fey's off-key singing, probably intentional.
  • Never Live It Down: The black cloud pilot of the diving bird mural helicopter. Geez, you kidnap a bunch of the town's children once and people always think you're up to something!
    • Perhaps the most infamous incident of the notoriously poorly planned and organised Tumblr convention Dashcon occurred when negotiations between the con organisers and this show's creators over financing broke down. The Night Vale crew became convinced that their costs for the trip were unlikely to be covered and walked out, leading the organisers to sheepishly attempt to compensate the audience with a free hour in a tiny (and decidedly grubby) ball-pit. It's not completely clear whose reputation was more damaged by this, Night Vale's or Dashcon's, but either way, someone isn't gonna live it down.
  • Paranoia Fuel: Invoked, frequently, especially in Episode 26, which describes the Faceless Old Woman who lives in your home, just out of vision, but whom you can occasionally see in the corner of your mirror. Your computer was running slow, so she's downloaded Firefox for you.
    "... They did, however, release several thousand spiders into your home. Fortunately for you—like the faceless old woman—you will be unable to see these spiders unless you look closely. They are highly trained spiders, moving just outside of your periphery. But—and this is also just like the faceless old woman—from time to time, you will feel them brushing against your soft cheeks and lips, as you sleep. So, keep your eyes open!"
    • It's statistically likely that there's a spider on you at all times. Research has yet to indicate what kind of spider, but it's probably one of the really ugly ones.
    • The deadliest spider in the world was recently discovered by you and it's as hard to spot as its bite is hard to survive. Wait, that's next week's report, you don't need to worry about that for a few days yet.
  • Player Punch: If the fanbase didn't hate StrexCorp before, they sure do as of "The Visitor" with Khoshekh getting severely injured.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: "Cecilos" for Cecil/Carlos.
  • Seasonal Rot: Fans are starting to complain about the current (fourth) season (examples here,here, and here), due to lack of a coherent plot so far and Episode 76, which was seen as a blatant ad for the book.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Averting this trope (especially in light of the racial Internet Backdraft listed above) was the goal of Jeffrey Cranor's announcement on Tumblr that he was stepping down as Carlos' voice actor. "It sucks that thereís a white straight male (me), playing a gay man of color (Carlos). Look, I know itís a voiceover, but itís not just that. We do live stage shows, and thatís a visible role for a PoC." The role was recast with Dylan Marron, a gay Latino member of Cranor's Neo-Futurist performance art circle.
  • The Woobie:
    • Considering the town's extreme, demented Orwellian authority and deadly supernatural occurrences, every citizen of Night Vale could potentially be considered a Woobie, since they stay pretty positive in the face of terror.
    • Carlos could count double, considering he's an outsider and the Only Sane Man, and thus much more aware of how wrong things really are than lifelong Night Vale residents.
    • Cecil as well, with the reveal that he has no memory of much of his teenage years. This includes his brother's entire existence, the time he spent as a Night Vale Community Radio intern, and creating the demo tapes that end with him being attacked in his empty house.
    • Iron Woobie: Intern Dana, who braves the horrifying dog park without a scratch, despite being frightened and starving. As of "Yellow Helicopters", Old Woman Josie has become one as well, keeping a steady determination despite StrexCorp's impending takeover and her Angel friends disappearing.
    • Kevin at the end of episode 70b. Because he's a Stepford Smiler with StrexCorp imposed artificial happiness, his realizing that Carlos just left the desert otherworld for good makes him so sad that you just want to hug the poor guy. Not too closely though, he's still covered in blood. It only gets worse in Episode 73, where it was clear that Kevin was once like Cecil and by the future radio cast it's clear he's broken, miserable and alone.
    • Steve Carlsberg becomes this in "The September Monologues" where we find out he and Cecil got along quite well when they first met at Steve and Cecil's sister's wedding. (Cecil even complimenting Steve's scones that he now publicly hates). That is, until Steve reveals to Cecil he knows all about the Vague-But-Menacing-Government-Agency, and other forbidden Night Vale knowledge, at which point Cecil snapped and almost had the wedding called off.
    • Hiram McDaniels at the end of episode 88. His reaction to the guilty verdict of his trial and subsequent death sentence, described in excrutiating detail by the judge makes you want to hug the five-headed dragon.

     The novel 
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is the Man in the Tan Jacket a Jerkass villain who callously upended three lives in a bid to force them to clean up someone else's mess, or is he a Designated Villain driven to extreme methods by the fact that no one could remember his desperate pleas for help?
    • Is Diane justified for chewing out the Man in the Tan Jacket, or is she an unbearably selfish Designated Hero who doesn't hesitate to engage in some uncalled-for victim blaming when she's inconvenienced? Are her insults the product of fear and righteous anger, or was the line "Maybe if you had been a better mayor, none of this would have happened" a borderline Moral Event Horizon?
  • Anti-Climax Boss: For all the years that they've been built up at a terrifying threat Jackie and Diane are able to outmaneuver the Librarians fairly quickly.
  • Designated Hero: Jackie and especially Diane come across this way in the climax, where instead of listening to the Man in the Tan Jacket's Woobie-worthy backstory with sympathy, they instead call him an asshole for luring them to King City against their will. Granted, they had to go through a lot of difficulty to get there, but still. His town is falling apart at the seams and no one remembers he exists, leaving him with no other options. That should engender at least a little sympathy, not insults and blatant victim blaming.
  • Designated Villain: The Man in the Tan Jacket comes across as this. He's portrayed and treated as a selfish Jerkass with no qualms against upending lives in a quest to put his own back together, but he only seems to do this because he's out of options. His attempts to explain who he is and what he's doing in Night Vale are always forgotten, his attempts to get Troy to leave were futile, and not even his own town remembers he exists. Compounding the problem is the fact that some listeners and readers believed the podcast portrayed him in a more heroic light, so when he's revealed as a villain, they didn't quite believe it.
  • Jerkass Dissonance: The Man in the Tan Jacket struck some readers as a Designated Villain who resorted to extreme methods after his desperate pleas for help went unheard and unremembered.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The Man in the Tan Jacket. Had a normal life, a family, and a city he loved, before Troy arrived and brought Nightvale's weirdness with him. He watches as multiple Troys swarm the city, has existence is forgotten by his family and citizens, and when he goes to Nightvale to find help he's either unhelped or forgotten. However, Jackie and Diane don't hesitate to chew him out for disrupting lives and for using a Batman Gambit to lure Josh away to King City for his own purposes.
  • Narm: Joseph and Jeffrey, in a attempt to make Jackie sound like a teenager, loaded all of her dialogue with slang like "dude" and "bro", to a distracting degree.
    • Invoked to a degree. Jackie has been a teenager for a long time. Time is weird in Night Vale. No one said her slang needed to be accurate so much as it provokes the idea of teenage slang.

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/WelcomeToNightVale