These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
YMMV: Zap Dramatic
Alternate Character Interpretation: The player character(s) is/are susceptible to it, in that none of them are really defined and some people just like to pretend its the same guy every time.
A popular interpretation of Helen is that she is the only sane woman in a world full of pretentious idiots. Her actions in "The Tryst" are interpreted as the result of years of putting up with this taking a toll on her psyche.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Before Angie tells Yale that she's pregnant with his child, Yale inexplicably throws a pencil in the air. It rotates like a helicopter blade while a drum-roll plays in the background. Angie catches the pencil, and Yale compliments her catch and then grins sheepishly. There was no reason for any of this to happen.
In episode 3, we have Ted's face inexplicably superimposed over Bridget's. Apparently, it's supposed to tie into Ted's philosophy that the truth is like an onion, but it just comes out of nowhere, has nothing at all to do with what Ted is talking about, and is never referenced in the game.
Helen's pastries in episode 9.
In the "Raise" episode of Negotiator, the mouse on Rolf Klink's desk will talk to you. And it tells you that there's a woman stripping behind you. And there is a woman stripping behind you. And then the cop materializes from thin air and arrests you for no apparent reason. Game Over.
Another version replaces the stripping woman with a suitcase full of cash that teleports away from your cursor when you try to steal it. It may be more family-friendly this way, but still, when did a susceptibility to hallucinations enter the story?
Whenever Duke kills you in Episode 10, he's accompanied by a green light. This is never explained at any point in the episode.
In Sir Basil Pike Public School, agreeing to "rock" with Janina inexplicably triggers a sequence which rivals Ted's dream sequence from earlier in terms of coming out of absolutely nowhere, and looking like a drug trip.
It's an even bigger BLAM if the player chooses to play as a girl. Apparently due to an error on the creator's part, Janina doesn't tell you about going to record her song if you're a girl and certain other conditions weren't met. As a boy, it at least sort of makes sense in context, but as a girl it can literally come completely out of nowhere.
Ted (poorly) explains the Monty Hall Problem using magical disappearing doors on the chalkboard.
Sometimes, you'll be sent through a weird time portal if you fail in Sir Basil Pike, with no explanation as to how or why it happens, or why it happens sometimes but not others.
In one early version of "Customer Service", if the player defends the other customer by launching into a rant against the store, Lola will not only warn the player about acting like a pig, but she will also summon a knife-wielding shadow by firing off a gray-scale photo-negative of her face. Then if the player claims to have a lawyer brother who will sue the store, the shadowy shape returns and slashes the word "IDIOT" into the screen. It must have been removed for being too frighteningly random even for a ZapDramatic game, but it could also be argued to have been the most interesting part. Here's a YouTube video of the scene in question, since it's nearly impossible to actually find an old enough version of the game.
The Chris Carter Effect: Some people are pretty sure that there wasn't really any overarching plan and that most of the stuff in the series was just made up for drama. Several commentators have also admitted that they really have no idea what's going on, and Episode 10 doesn't answer any questions, but set up more for a sequel (that looks incredibly unlikely, given that the first series ended in 2006 and no updates have happened since).
Cliché Storm: Sir Basil Pike Public School uses many subplots and tropes common to fiction involving school (the Big Game, school dance, disguising yourself as another person to humiliate someone).
Creator's Pet: Ted. No matter what acts he commits (including attempted terrorism and multiple escapes from jail), we're supposed to believe he's an innocent victim being dragged through the dirt by his "evil" wife.
Cemented in Episode 10. If you choose to frame Ted instead of Yale, then Duke will drive you to Yale's house so that you can tell him that Rolf thinks it would be best for everyone if Ted takes the fall. It is here that the game actually goes out of its way to shame you for it. Twice. First, Ted inexplicably appears in the car beside you (even though he got caught not ten minutes earlier) and expresses his disappointment in you for "selling [him] out." Next, when you actually get to Yale's house and tell him the plan, he also expresses his disappointment in you and swears to have you disbarred. Then you turn around, and Duke kills you. Game over.
It's cemented earlier than that, in Episode 3. For what we're shown as of that episode, he reacted to his wife and kids disappearing and (fake) blood being on the walls by taking dynamite and a detonator to a company office that Bridget, as far as we know, has absolutely nothing to do with, threatening to blow them all up. He then jumps out the window, and after surviving the fall through sheer luck (or, given that he prays to be saved during the fall, divine intervention) takes another couple hostage with said dynamite to force them to look for his wife. After this he's arrested, and you give him a psychological profile, during which he repeatedly proves he's nuttier than candy-bar shit. There are even failure screens in which he beats you to death for little reason. You are supposed to say he is perfectly sane. Which somehow means he's not responsible for any of the above.
In Sir Basil Pike Public School, Janina becomes a rather blatant example of this trope in the last episode. For most of the story she's a side character who none of the other kids (or YouTube commenters) particularly seem to like, though that doesn't stop the first episode devoting several minutes to her musical number. Throughout the game Janina is used to point out exactly where the player went wrong, without ever addressing all the spying Janina must be doing to know so much. Then in the last episode, despite having had minimal interaction with the other characters she suddenly helps resolve a massive argument that had threatened to tear the player character's friendship group apart, after which the storyline completely drops all the other characters and becomes entirely about her for its last third or so as it again makes the player feel stupid for worrying about Janina going missing after getting picked up by a mystery man. Unsurprising, as she is rumored to be based off of Gibson's daughter and is voiced by some relation of his.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: In Ambition, almost all of the characters are assholes at best, incompetent fools at worst. The player character and Duke Crabtree are the only characters who aren't idiotic caricatures and nothing the player does has any real impact. And if that wasn't enough Duke, one of the few likable characters, turns out to be a villain. To top it all off, the Orphaned Series status of Ambition means that the series ends at it's most depressing point.
Designated Hero: Ted. Sure, he lost his kids and everything, but he still threatens to blow up himself and a building (or, at least a floor) full of people because of it. When we are tasked with giving him a psychiatric evaluation, the correct outcome is supposed to be that he is sane and aware of his actions. That alone is somewhat questionable, but it also doesn't play out like it should. Unlike in the real world, where that would make Ted criminally responsible for his actions, here it's supposed to mean that Ted is an innocent victim and that outside forces are conspiring against him. It's treated in-universe as a temporary lapse of judgement brought on by the shock of seeing the blood/beet juice on the walls and having his kids taken away. He escapes from prison by beating up a police officer, and attempts to force the player character to help him by threatening him with a pistol. One may try to defend these actions by claiming that Ted is an Anti-Hero, but the fact that the games try to paint Ted as being completely in the right all the time, it is clear that Ted isn't supposed to be an anti-hero. Simply put, attempting to commit a mass murder, attacking a police officer, and threatening somebody with a gun are all okay as long as you're of sound mind and have a good reason for doing so.
Ted's case is also not helped by just the incredibly contrived lengths the games go to to make sure he gets off scot free, allowing him to come off as debatably being somewhere on the Mary Sue spectrum.
slowbeef: "Don't you understand, it's a conspiracy to make it seem like Ted is crazy over, and over, and over again. He keeps threatening people's lives, but it's not his fault. Even though it absolutely fucking is every time."
Angie, also. She intentionally gets pregnant (through lying to the other party) in an attempt to force a married man to divorce his wife and marry her. And the correct response is to congratulate her for it.
The player character in the boy's path of Sir Basil Pike Public School. Choosing options such as attacking a boy whom he believes has stolen his bike, mocking said boy's stutter, and then later refusing to apologize to him when it is revealed that he simply had an identical bike all reward the player with "Persuasive Power." Made all the more jarring by the fact that the game is supposed to convey an anti-bullying message, yet rewards the player for bullying others.
Designated Villain: Duke Crabtree. We're apparently supposed to see him as an egotistical jerkass who is out to steal your job, but he appears to be far more competent than the player character. He'd probably be better-suited for the job. While we as the detective spend about half of Episode 6 sleeping (which is required, by the way), Duke is actually doing work. While interrogating Bridget, if you end the interrogation too early, Duke will helpfully inform the player that Bridget contradicted herself and tell us to go back and "nail her." When you are interrogating Bridget near Ted's cell, Duke will ask the valid question of why we are exposing the suspect to a known violent criminal. One possible response to this is to call Duke a meddling creep and then punch him in the face. This results in a game over, but the fact that the option is there in the first place clearly indicates that we're not supposed to like Duke. Duke does insult the player, but the attentive player should notice that Duke only insults you when you waste time, and after you get a confession from Bridget, he stops insulting you entirely and works with you to try and solve the case. Somewhat negated by the fact that Duke actually becomes genuinely villainous in Episode 10. It is revealed that he is in on the plot to frame Ted Hadrup for murder, and then he hijacks your cab and takes you somewhere to kill you. However, he still qualifies because we're supposed to see him as villainous from the start even though he doesn't do anything particularly villainous before being revealed as Evil All Along.
Helen is portrayed as unreasonable and overemotional about her husband cheating on her. In "The Tryst," telling Yale to break off his affair with Angie and stick with Helen causes you to lose. Yale then mocks you for thinking that having an affair is at all a bad idea, before throwing you out and saying that you have a limited future, unlike him, because having an affair means he has "ambition".
To a lesser extent, Angie. Presumably the player is meant to share Ted's outrage that she would conclude that a man who threatened to blow up an office building and rambles on about getting his orders from God might just be a touch crazy.
The player character in Sir Basil Pike Public School can become one of these due to the fact that the game assumes that you chose options that you may or may not have actually chosen. For example: You can get accused of encouraging Julia to prank Tammy by pretending to be Tariq, even if you try to stop her from doing it. Or, if you try to stop Tony from uploading the video of Julia, he'll still tell you later that you said it'd be funny.
Discredited Meme: "Because I'm a terrorist!" For a time, pretty much every other comment on any given Ambition video by Retsupurae was a "because [X] is a terrorist" joke, leading many to view it as an Overused Running Gag.
Draco in Leather Pants: Duke Crabtree gets this treatment, largely due to being a Designated Villain, but also during Episode 10, when he does become genuinely villainous. This is because no one really likes any of the other characters, and are glad that he's killing them off.
The opening song, Erik Satie's "Gnossienne No.1" 
Eight Deadly Words: Retsupurae and most Youtube commentators pretty much hate everyone, deeming them either unsympathetic or stupid. This even extends to the player character, likely due to the things that are deemed the right decision even when it really shouldn't be.
Ensemble Darkhorse: Duke Crabtree, because he is the only character in Ambition with any shred of competence, and also because he's killing off the other characters that nobody likes. As one YouTube commenter put it:
"Jesus fucking Christ, I hate literally everyone in this goddamn series EXCEPT for Duke. He's really the only one who knows what the fuck he's doing, he's not some fucking unlikable cunt like everyone else in Ambition, and he's the only one who doesn't use unnecessarily huge wordsto make himself seem smarter."
"I never thought I'd hate fictional characters so much, but my god has Ambition succeeded."
Helen is also pretty popular, mostly because of her two Crowning Moments of Funny (her behavior in Episode 5, and the unusual fixation on her sumptuous pastries in Episode 9). Some also see her as the only sane woman in the world of Ambition, and the only character who reacts appropriately to the stupidity of everyone else in the game. They explain her meltdown in Episode 5 as a result of being pushed over the edge by all of the idiocy in the game.
Similar to "doggie" from The Room, many people cite props like the violin Helen uses as a weapon in Episode 5, or the pastry from Episode 9 as their favorite "character."
Mr. Hartrup and the Crabtree twins in Sir Basil Pike Public School.
Epileptic Trees: Since a (now-removed) part of the website confirms that the homeless guy from The Negotiator is actually Ted, fans have been trying to work out how the timeline fits together, and whether The Negotiator came first and Ted had the misfortune of having two wives walk out on him, or whether he suffered a nervous breakdown and hit the bottle after the events of Ambition, before getting his life back on track prior to Sir Basil Pike Public School.
A very popular theory among YouTube commenters is that Janina eventually slimmed down, changed her name to "Bridget" and married her former teacher, Mr. Hartrup.
Sir Basil Pike Public School includes many cases where, despite being a game about bullying prevention, doesn't penalize you for making fun of a kid's speech impediment or helping someone prank another student, indicating that it's fine when you do it.
Also from Sir Basil Pike Public School: If you see a girl getting into a vehicle with a strange man, you're just making assumptions if you think she's in danger! It's probably just the girl's estranged father helping her become a musician.
From Ambition: Making terrorist threats is excusable as long if your judgment has been impaired by a traumatic experience.
Harsher in Hindsight: In one of the Negotiator games that preceded this series, making a romantic advance on a cop causes him to declare the (male) player character a sinner and murder him on the spot. At first this seems like a strange over-reaction, but when Ted becomes a Creator's Pet mouthpiece for Michael Gibson's Christian propaganda, the aforementioned incident makes an unfortunate amount of sense.
Ho Yay: Arguably some between Max and Dave the Brave from Sir Basil Pike Public School, particularly from Max's end. The Retsupurae duo speculate at one point that Max is going to kiss Dave.
Idiot Plot: You have to make so many stupid and nonsensical decisions that would not work in real life to progress in any of the games. This gives the impression that they are desperately trying to invoke this trope.
Memetic Badass: Duke Crabtree. His talents include being a much more competent detective than us as the player character, being able to successfully conduct a marriage counseling session even after admitting to the player that he knows nothing about it, as well as moonlighting as a terrorist. In one of the game over scenarios, he also demonstrates the ability to quickly regain his composure after a Groin Attack and pull out his gun to shoot his attacker (you) to death.
Helen's scream in episode 5, as well as the face she makes while doing said scream.
Yale's smile, too. Ever since Retsupurae gave it a Colbert Bump, YouTube avatars depicting Yale smiling have become increasingly common, especially among the Retsupurae fanbase.
The characters in general have become popular choices for YouTube avatars, mainly because of the weird facial expressions they make.
The pastries in episode 9, due to the unusual focus on them during the marriage counseling session.
Helen: Have a pastry. Yale: Mmmm. Helen makes the most sumptuous pastries.
The part where Yale "fixes" his and Helen's marriage by giving her a badly-drawn "24-carat diamond necklace" seems to have become a minor one for slowbeef. According to him, Yale solves all his problems by bribing people with 24-carat diamond necklaces.
Duke's declaration in Episode 10 that he is a terrorist has caused people to comment on how interesting Duke's life must be. It's become a meme that Duke is a detective by day, a marriage counselor by evening, and a terrorist by night.
Additionally, "because [I'm/he's/she's/it's] a terrorist" seems to be becoming the Retsupurae fanbase's answer to A Wizard Did It. This one is arguably the biggest meme the games have produced so far, to the point that, as mentioned above, many people began to see it as a Discredited Meme rather quickly.
Ted's rendition of "Amazing Grace."
Ever since Retsupurae riffed on "Sir Basil Pike Public School," it's common to make jokes about Ted's actions in Ambition based on his role as a math teacher in that game. Examples include:
"I hear Mr. Hartrup's class really blows." "Really? I've heard it's a blast!" "He does have a rather short fuse." "All his lesson plans tend to go out the window."
"[insert command here], or I'll blow us all to Hell!"
"Well, I hope you're jamming with whole-wheat bread."
A minor one is "I know that _______________________, because my bike has a unique bell."
Memetic Molester: Bridget is a rather squicky example. As mentioned below, the manner in which she speaks to her and Ted's children (who appear to be naked, by the way) implies incestuous pedophilia.
Most Annoying Sound: In Episode 1, Ted's footsteps always make a pounding sound, as if he's stomping on a wooden floor. It's particularly annoying because it happens with every step he takes, and he paces around a lot. Thankfully, it's fixed by the next episode.
From episode 10, "OBJECTION, irrelevant."
Narm: The narm flows like wine throughout the series, with many scenes intending to be dramatic coming off as ridiculous, such as Helen's breakdown when she considers beating Yale with a violin peppered with her jarring crazed expressions and spontaneous howling. There's also Bridget's embarrassing attempt at feigning being assaulted during her interrogation, which is so awkwardly played out, even Ted lampshades how insane she's acting.
Ted's psuedo-philosophical spiel in Episode 3 is a long flow of this due to the voice actor's forced attempt at a gruff voice, but a crowning moment that even caused slowbeef and Diabetus to burst out laughing is a certain point in the Mind Screw visuals in which Ted's face is superimposed over Bridget's.
The spiel causes the two to joke about Ted being the (very) poor man's Hannibel Lecter.
In episode 10, Duke's revelation to the player (which was probably supposed to be a Wham Line).
(Player selects option "Calmly ask Duke why he has hijacked your taxi cab.")
Duke:Because I'm a terrorist!
Never Trust a Title: Despite the insistent title-dropping, there isn't much ambition to be found in any of the characters. The only one who comes close is Yale, and he more plays it safe, as he doesn't want to rock the boat at the firm.
Padding: Much of the incredibly surreal imagery often seems to be there to extend the games, often with no real rhyme or reason.
The Scrappy: Even in a game where pretty much every character is universally hated (except for Duke, Helen, and possibly Ted), Yale still manages to stand out. When he's introduced in Episode 2, he comes across as an okay guy, maybe a little uptight. However, he is quickly flanderized into a pretentious jerkass with massive Delusions of Eloquence. He displays chauvinism and misogyny that, in slowbeef's words, would make Don Draper say that he ought to be more respectful towards women. He often comes across as having a smug sense of superiority over others, especially Helen. The worst part about it is that we are apparently supposed to side with him over Helen. It at least helps that he does take his fair share of abuse throughout the game. The game over scenarios where he is beaten with the violin and has the piece of crystal thrown at him, as well as the part in Episode 2 where Helen punches him in the face are pretty satisfying. You can even see the game's ending as a Take That, Scrappy! to Yale.
As it appears that Yale was intentionally written to be like disliked (as opposed to other characters such as Ted, who were written to be sympathetic but are even more unlikable) and the racist subtext throughout the series, combined with him actually having a shred of decency & being so funny, this seems to have gotten inverted and have some people like him...even if it is only ironically.
Episode 10 gives us the prosecutor and the judge. The prosecutor has an annoying habit of objecting to things that he finds irrelevant, even though he hypocritically asks irrelevant questions. The judge is clearly biased in favor of the former, and is also a hypocrite because he can have you removed for "incompetence," but will also remove you for accusing somebody else of incompetence.
The Mouse, who first appeared in "The Raise". If the fact his inclusion makes no sense in the context of a game meant to teach you about negotiation (we will excuse how poorly these games do so for a moment), he appears again in Sir Basil Pike Public School, with a far more pronounced role and ends up all the more irritating because of it.
Additionally, the mouse's role in Sir Basil Pike Public School contradicts a valid (if incredibly obvious) piece of advice given to the player character in The Negotiator. In The Negotiator, the mouse's advice is meant to be ignored because, as the game tells us, mice don't talk. However, in Sir Basil Pike Public School, the mouse is the primary dispenser of advice for the player character.
For slowbeef, Janina in Sir Basil Pike Public School, because "she always butts in."
Janina: I knew what you did because I was watching! slowbeef: Janina, could you mind your own fuckin' business, please?
Most of the kids of Sir Basil Public School, with the exceptions of the two Crabtrees,Max and possibly Julia. The most reviled of them are Tony and Janina, for various reasons.
Scrappy Mechanic: Tennis in Sir Basil Pike. It's not hard, it's just tedious, repetitive, and made more annoying because some parts require that you do it to obtain a different ending through renegotiation or as Forced Level Grinding if your persuasive power gets too low. Be warned that you are forced to play another whole game of it if your opponent has even one thing left to say in the negotiation, and the computer will become unbeatable on the second and fourth serves to prevent you from winning by more than two points.
The clock in Episode 6 of Ambition. It is of the kind where every action deducts a certain number of minutes from a time limit given to find a suspect. It is widely considered the Scrappy Mechanic for several reasons:
It is all too easy to accidentally reexamine a piece of evidence, which takes just as many minutes as the first time again.
Dialog trees often lead the player in circles while looking for unasked questions to pop up again.
Said dialogs take many more minutes off the timer than it actually takes to listen to the dialog.
The superintendent stops the investigation before the last hour has even begun, possibly to try to avoid a bug where a negative hour value keeps looping the game back to Dr. Russell. Even a player who has a good idea of what needs to be done may find it tough to squeeze in a complete interview at Bridget's house.
So Bad, It's Good: The games are pretty hard to take seriously, with the jarring Art-Style Dissonance, the limited animation, and the amateur voice acting, but many would say the resulting copious amounts of Narm makes playing them worth it.
Special Effect Failure: Some games attempt a 3D rotation effect by squashing one region while stretching another; by and large it's more jarring than convincing. Other games sport a flaw in layer transparency used for cross-fades between scenes, where characters' whole eyeballs are exposed momentarily through the layer containing their eyelids.
Uncanny Valley: Most of the character designs. Many are taken from clip art over the internet (Angie and Bridget are the most blatant example), but even the ones without a clip art template have a weird quality that doesn't allow them to emote as well as they could, and they very often contort.
There's something...off about the way the characters smile. Unlike many examples, however, it's more humorous than it is unsettling.
As seen in the "Psychic Ted" extra, Ted's face does look kind of unsettling when he faces the screen.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Ted is a character you're supposed to sympathize with, but the fact that he completely refuses to work with anybody in the series, even Yale, his own lawyer, as well the story going out of its way to make sure he stays at the moral high ground despite constantly breaking the law makes one just simply stop caring about Ted.
Janina in Sir Basil Pike. We're apparently supposed to feel sorry for her because she gets bullied, but in both paths she comes across as a smug stalker who often sticks her nose where it doesn't belong. It doesn't help that other characters (in particular, Dave and Julia) also experience bullying to varying degrees, yet the game never suggests that we should give a damn about them (in fact, the game actually rewards you for bullying Dave).
Unpopular Popular Character: Again, Duke Crabtree. He's really the only character anyone seems to like even a little bit, save possibly for Helen.
Watch It for the Meme: After Retsupurae riffed on the games, people began to play them just for Helen's violin freakout and Duke's now-famous "because I'm a terrorist" line.
What an Idiot: If you actually take the time to analyze Rolf Klink's plan, you'll find that it is actually really stupid. Paxwic was a new drug that was coming out, and Angie wrote a negative report about it. If the report came out, Rolf Klink, the boss of Somaplex (the people making Paxwic) wasn't going to buy any real estate from Rolf Klink. So, Rolf is trying to make money by buying from himself.
Duke's method of dealing with you is pretty stupid, too. Either you're found dead the night after you attempt to challenge him to get you evidence, or you are found dead in the courtroom after the power is cut literally seconds after you say that Rolf and Duke threatened you. The only people who would not be seen leaving the courtroom are you, Duke, and Ted (whom it is stated cut the power). Ted would probably be apprehended by the officer who vacated the building, leaving Duke as the prime suspect.
Yale's choice of words towards, and about Angie and attempting to deny his affair to Helen nearly had him badly hurt. It didn't help when Helen witnessed Angie walking out of his office.
According to Wilma in Move or Die, a reasonable response to a man threatening you with a gun is to suggest that the only reason he has said gun is because he is Compensating for Something.
What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: To the off-the-wall and extremely questionable decision-making, to the poorly-drawn character models, to Ted's incredibly bizarre (and somehow visible) fantasies, to talking mice and pretty much everything else about these games.
Dave the Brave from Sir Basil Pike Public School. Assuming he's telling the truth throughout the game (and there's never anything to suggest he isn't), in the space of a day he gets knocked off his bike, has said bike stolen days after he got it as a birthday present, has his stutter mocked, most of his friends believe that the bike was never his in the first place, and then none of his friends really give a damn when it turns out that the bike in question actually was his all along.
On Tuesday morning, instead of tagging the school up with toothpaste graffiti, rival Ferndale students tag Dave directly on the back.
To a lesser extent, Julia from the same game, who gets stung by bees, suffers a nasty allergic reaction, and then is humiliated by having a video of said events uploaded to the internet. Negated somewhat by the fact that she sets up a revenge plot against Tammy... though even then she'll express remorse for her actions.