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Creator / Jon Bois

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Well hey there, it's a TV Tropes Article about yer old buddy Jon!

Jon Bois is the head of sports website SB Nation's Creative Labs & Secret Base, and the creator of some of the weirdest things you've ever seen on their website.

Though he first made his name as one of the writers on the Progressive Boink websitenote , Bois started his ascent into one of SBNation's most prominent creators with SupperJumpin', an attempt to make the saddest professional sport in the world. He also did some retrospective writing on his previous job working for the Radioshack Company to discuss why it deserved its ultimate fate. He then turned to the world of video games with NBA Y2K and Breaking Madden, where he bent the world of the NBA 2K and Madden NFL games in all sorts of different ways, creating several fan-favorite characters (such as the rotund but sweet Clarence BEEFTANK) and memes throughout.

Then, he made one of his most impressive works of fiction and surrealism to date: The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, detailing ex-NFL player Tim Tebow's trek through the Canadian Football League.

He has also made many videos for both SB Nation's and his own YouTube channels, with his most notable series being Pretty Good, a show about stories that are...well...pretty good (even if they have nothing to do with sports), and Chart Party, where he'd make visualizations of odd and sometimes interesting statistics regarding certain athletes or sports.

People here likely know him for his multimedia story 17776, where the world only has ridiculously long games of American Football to think about anymore.

After a brief hiatus, Jon released a 5-part documentary with Felix Biederman called Fighting in the Age of Loneliness about the history of MMA. His most recent projects for SB Nation include three comprehensive multi-part history series with fellow video producer Alex Rubenstein about hardscrabble major league sports franchises: 2020's The History of the Seattle Mariners, 2021's The History of the Atlanta Falcons, and 2023's The History of the Minnesota Vikings.

Most of his work is now placed in his own blog on SB Nation, called A Huge Dog. Secret Base, which is SB Nation's YouTube channel, features both Bois' video content and other sports history videos that have similar humorous but well-researched style.

Works by Jon Bois with their own page:

Yer Ol' Buddy Jon contains examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The Dorktown short film "Section 1" covers an unintentional version: a playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Colts in December 1976 occurs the same day a small airplane crashes into Baltimore's Memorial Stadium. As Jon and Alex make clear, if the game wasn't such a devastating blowout that the stadium was empty enough, people would die.
  • Accidental Hero: "Section 1" frames the 1976 Pittsburgh Steelers as this. Their Curb-Stomp Battle defeat of the Baltimore Colts in the Divisional Round playoff game ensured that Colts fans in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium began to file out early, likely saving multiple lives as a small airplane crashed into the upper levels just a few minutes after the game's end. Bois himself questions whether someone even can be a hero by accident, but ultimately decides the label fits the Steelers better than the countless government officials who failed to recognize all of the warning signs that led up to the pilot's failed stunt.
  • Acrofatic: Clarence BEEFTANK was 400 lbs. and yet strong enough to demolish most of the virtual players he ran into, but also capable of jumping almost his full height when translated into being a Basketball player.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Variation: By the end of History of the Atlanta Falcons, Jon comes to the conclusion, given how badly they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory in Super Bowl LI, that the Atlanta Falcons were in reality a Trickster God. This characterization is brought back in full force during the fifth part of History of the Minnesota Vikings, when the game the two teams had prior to Super Bowl XXXIII is re-examined, and the infamous missed field goal that wound up spelling doom for the Vikings is revisited:
    Jon Bois: We have studied this Atlanta Falcon. Every last feather, every loss that populates it, every occasional win that accents its jagged, hideous form. There are some teams that God loves — even the Vikings, as complicated and uncertain as that love can sometimes be. There are other teams that God as simply forgotten. The Falcons are the team that God regrets. As far ahead as 2022, they will never win a Super Bowl, but they will lose the most catastrophic Super Bowl of all time, a single loss that will bring more agony than 50 conventional, one-sided Super Bowl losses combined. The Atlanta Falcons offer jokes. Cruel jokes. This is all they are ever good for.
    (cut to footage of the broadcast, where Gary Anderson misses his field goal... and the stadium's cannon operator, mistakenly assuming he hadn't, fires the cannon to signify a goal)
  • An Aesop:
    • The Bob Emergency: Our stories are full of wonder. No matter how you study our history, you will always, always find it.
    • The Dorktown Seattle Mariners retrospective: Success is not always relevant to enjoying a good sports story.
    • The Vikings retrospective: no matter how "certain" things seem in a sport, there's always a chance for flukes of fate to change the story.
  • Almighty Idiot: His interpretation of "the god of the 24 universe" is that if that world had a deity, that deity was basically a small child smashing action figures together. He then recounts the history of the various Presidents over the show's run, in the voice of a small child calling half of them "NERDS" or "SO BORING" and killing them or their loved ones off at the drop of a hat while making explosion sound effects with his mouth.
  • Anachronic Order: A minor example. Lonnie Smith covers the 1991 World Series, where Smith made a baserunning error that arguably lost the Atlanta Braves in the Series. Then Jon rewinds the clock a few months and talks about Lonnie winning the 1991 NLCS and making peace with John Schuerholz.
  • And That's Terrible: Directed at the Phillie Phanatic in the Lonnie Smith episode of Pretty Good, when he fires pork products at a pig mascot.
  • Anti-Nihilist: A lot of his work carries this viewpoint, often singling out sports and entertainment derived from it as an ultimate example of it.
    It doesn't matter. Not mattering can be a lot of fun.
  • Antiquated Linguistics: BEEFTANK's writing style is a mix of this and childlike misspellings.
  • Apocalyptic Log: The final edition of NBA Y2K is Jon entering draft after draft of the worst created players possible after every NBA season, and is punctuated by official looking scraps showing the growing number of talentless players who are slowly beginning to eclipse the talented, finally ending with a Madness Mantra that gives the entry its title:
    Basketball will never return to what it was. At this stage in its history, basketball is little more than a collection of carbon and rubber. The orbits and movements of its particles is powered only by inertia left over by those who played and loved the game in decades past.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: While reporting on the true story of a man who flew via a lawn chair with weather balloons tied to it, the one detail Jon has trouble believing is the price of the lawn chair: $109 or $110 (in 1982 money), according to two different newspapers.
  • Artistic License – Statistics:
    • In The search for the saddest punt in the world, the Surrender Index calculations created by Bois is, by his own admission, a massive misuse of math for the sake of throwing a fit at NFL teams punting in baffling situations.
    • What if Barry Bonds played baseball without a bat? has Jon outright say he must have done something wrong (Bonds' on base percentage was essentially unchanged in the simulation, making it still the best in MLB history), and practically begs the audience to tell him how he messed up. Naturally, there are a few errors or places to improve:
      • Ideally the simulation would be run a large number of times to get an average result, rather than only performing it a single time. A large sample size would help prevent the possibility of an abnormally "lucky" result that can occur in a single simulation.
      • Jon's use of simplified statistics for Bonds' career rates for called balls and swings would be more accurate if broken out by pitcher in the 2004 season rather than using a career rate, given several factors note .
      • Inversely, Jon may have actually shortchanged Barry in one aspect. Because the FanGraph data he used for pitches Bonds swung at does not include pitches that Bonds made contact with, only swings and misses, he left out foul balls in his swinging statistics. This data may not be available given that Bonds' career came and went before the advent of modern pitch tracking methods, but he still probably left a few walks on the table.
  • As the Good Book Says...: The opening of The People You're Paying to Be in Shorts is a quote from the Book of Revelation, 3:16:
    So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: How Jon describes "Fun n' Gun" Basketball, which emphasizes scoring, above all else.
  • Author Appeal: Old technology, weird or obscure historical information, and using sports as a lens to examine society. Naturally, all of this reaches its zenith in 17776, which is about sentient space probes talking about sports and history.
  • Author Tract: Randall Cunningham seizes the means of production is a breakdown of the 1987 NFL players strike, and it's very clearly pro labor unions. Jon himself doesn't even bother disguising this, ending a lengthy defense of the benefits of unions by saying "if you're [anti-union], you're an asshole."
  • Award Snub: invokedA running theme of the Dorktown series Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb. Jon Bois makes the case that Dave Stieb should have won the Cy Young Award several times in the early '80s, as he had better numbers than each year's winner in every statistic—with the sole exception of number of games won. Per Jon, games won is really the least useful stat for judging a baseball pitcher. Yet the sports journalists relied heavily on games won when nominating pitchers for the Cy Young Award, resulting in Stieb barely getting any nominations. Jon can't decide if this was stupidity on the part of the journalists or active malice against Dave Stieb.
    Jon Bois: Since it apparently bears repeating, the writers in fact did—and this is inarguable—rob him of the Cy Young Award in 1982, and maybe 1981, and definitely 1983 and definitely 1984.
  • Balloonacy: The Pretty Good episode "Larry Walters has a flying lawn chair and a BB gun" covers the incident where Larry flew by attaching military surplus weather balloons to his lawn chair.
  • Benevolent Boss: Among NFL coaches, Jon calls Bud Grant one of their best bosses to work under. He made the little things very regimented, but for the big things, let the players guide themselves. He didn't do speeches (trusting players to motivate themselves like grown men), didn't make a big deal about a player's ethnicity or religion (despite being agnostic). He worked hard on hours, and then left the game on the field. He came back to fix up a team after a horrible successor the first time he retired, and made lifelong friends of his players in the process. Among the workaholics and tyrants, Jon called Bud One of One and one of the most unique coaches in NFL history.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Jon is usually pretty affable, but the reasoning behind why the 1904 Olympics was as bad as it was actually causes him to raise his voice.
    • Watching Lonnie Smith cost Atlanta Braves the World Series had similar effect.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Happens to be a theme for his work, as he likes to look at statistical outliers and ridiculous flights of fancy where the limits of sport are tested.
  • Big "NO!": Ep.5 of Pretty Good is just titled "NO!!!!!!", because that's the radio commentator's reaction to John Carney's failed extra point kick.
  • Bizarre and Improbable Golf Game: Episode 4 of Fumble Dimension is about taking suggestions from fans to edit a golf course in The Golf Club 2019, then playing it. Naturally, the course was littered with objects in nonsensical locations, the terrain was horrifically difficult to golf around, and almost every hole had both Jon and Kofie shooting way above the seven stroke par.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: From the Koo Dae-Sung episode of Pretty Good, when describing pitcher Randy Johnson, to the beat of Young Widows' In And Out Of Youth:
    6'10'' (Tallest player in MLB history when he entered the league)
    Five Cy Young Awards
    2nd on all time Strikeout list
    Fastball once clocked at 102 miles per hour
    2004 (Age 38): 245.2 Innings Pitched, 2.60 ERA, Threw a Perfect Game
    Killed a bird one time
    [shows the clip of Johnson accidentally killing a dove with a pitch]
  • Brick Joke: Jon begins this Breaking Madden article by saying if he were in charge of Washington's football team, he would move them to Brooklyn, change their name and logo, and make the uniforms pink. In the video at the very end of the article, that's exactly what he does.
    • In this one, there's the guy who pissed in his mother-in-law's sink. During two separate marriages.
  • California Doubling: When Jon published a collection of poems about New York City, for some reason the article had a photo of the Golden Gate Bridge. And then the followup poem collection came with a photo of downtown Milwaukee.
  • Calvinball: Seems to have a lot of interest in finding ways to create this within previously existing sports video games and through the rules of American Football. Alternatively, he sometimes creates these with the intent of having it be anything but entertaining.
  • The Cameo: Appears in unrelated projects for SBNation, like the Shutdown Fullcast, though he usually brings his affable, bizarre nature with him.
  • Capitalism Is Bad: A running theme across his videos, particularly when they veer into topics like unions or the wealth of the sports organizations versus the players employed by them.
  • Celebrity Resemblance: In the ''Pretty Good" episode on Lonnie Smith (the baseball player), he shows a picture of Lonnie alongside a picture of the jazz musician Dr. Lonnie Smith, and concludes they might actually be the same person.
  • Chicken-and-Egg Paradox: Discussed in Part 2 of "Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb". Did the sports press rob Dave Stieb of the Cy Young Award because he was rude and standoffish to them? Or was Dave rude and standoffish because they robbed him of the Cy Young Award? Jon doesn't outright say it, but he does seem to favor Dave Stieb's side.
    Jon Bois: He's often a standoffish jerk to the press. That's true. It's not nice. And there's certainly a chicken/egg debate to be had over whether the writers' ignorance towards Dave Stieb fueled his rude behavior toward them, or vice versa.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: His Twitter account, and some of his written content. He takes personal delight in odd things.
  • Crack Defeat: The first episode of Pretty Good is all about the time Koo Dae-Sung, a complete amateur on offense, inexplicably bested one of the greatest pitchers ever, hitting a double and then stealing home on the next at-bat.
    Jon Bois: And there's a legend I can confirm. Koo Dae-Sung, who had never swung a bat or run a base for money in his life, blew up Randy Johnson, one of the greatest pitchers of all time, and then he scored from second on a bunt.
  • Crapsack World: His interpretation of the world of 24: by the end of the series, America has been struck by a nuclear blast and hasn't had a regular, peaceful transfer of power for years, with all its Presidents in that period being either assassinated or forced out of the position after having been exposed as collaborators in various nebulous conspiracies. Nearly all named or main characters have been offed or had their life ruined in some other way, and Jack Bauer himself is a Death Seeker Nominal Hero who has watched everyone around him die and wants to die as well. Much of the video focuses on how messed-up it is that such a Crapsack World ended up being so emblematic of the era and even seemingly influenced foreign policy.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Has an aside in Pretty Good: "Koo Dae-Sung" about the trend in sports (and society in general) for jobs to get more and more specialized, and how hilarious it is when random happenstance forces an athlete to do something outside their specific job, like a pitcher who has never done so before being forced to bat in a professional baseball game.
    Jon: As a society, we are getting more and more specialized, right? Like, hopelessly so. You get an Enterprise Rent-A-Car employee, and you ask her to work the next day at Hertz, she's not gonna be able to do it, because the computer's different, the system's different, everything's different. Which seems really strange, because it's basically the same job. Same thing goes for sports these days. You know, we don't play 60 minute football, we have very specialized roles in most sports. And chief among those is the pitcher who can't hit—pitchers aren't supposed to hit.
  • Cruel Mercy: As Cumberland's football team is getting utterly curbstomped by Georgia Tech, the Cumberland coach appeals to John Heisman to end the game at halftime. Heisman agrees to shorten the game... but only by five minutes.
    Jon Bois: Sometimes, a weak expression of pity is the deepest act of cruelty.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • A recurring element of "Breaking Madden" is creating hugely lopsided matchups as a means of cracking the game open. One of Jon's favorite tricks is to take players who have the absolute minimum or maximum possible stats in every conceivable category, or at least in enough categories to create incredibly unusual players, and then pitting them against relatively normal teams. This has frequently resulted in matches so broken that they break the game's scoring system.
    • Pretty Good Ep.10 and Ep.12 are about absolutely hellacious sports-related beatings. 10 is about a personal grudge that was taken out on a football field. 12 is more about how the score was so absurdly high and lopsided that it's been set down in the record books as incorrect.
  • David Versus Goliath: A metaphor brought up a fair bit in his 24 video, where he points out the inherent crisis in a national identity that professes to be a Fan of the Underdog while living in the most powerful country on the planet. According to him, Americans want to have the feeling of beating the odds against a greater obstacle (like David) but also want to exult in their power and privilege (like Goliath). The reason Jack Bauer's life sucks so much is because he needs to be the underdog, as a symbol of American identity, despite his battles being analogous to real-life conflicts that were Curb Stomp Battles.
    "America is Goliath. But in Jack Bauer, we could reimagine America as David. And the thing about Goliaths is that they always wanna be David."
  • Designated Hero: Jon portrays the Falcons as this in-universe. They were a virtual unknown, juggling between high and low points, and yet most of America was rooting for them simply because they were not the Patriots.
    • The 1976 Steelers are placed as this in Section 1. They have to win the game against the home team Colts, in blowout fashion, otherwise people will literally die. It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Designated Villain: Again in-universe. The Patriots to the Falcons, and Jack Morris to Dave Stieb.
  • The Determinator:
    • How he describes real life NFL Quarterback Tom Brady, mostly tongue in cheek. During Breaking Madden on the other hand, he decided to throw him into a scenario where Tom simply couldn't get away with the ball to score... until he somehow did. Three hundred forty-five tries later.
    • A significant amount of The People You're Paying to Be in Shorts is spent commending the '11-'12 Bobcats playersnote  and coaching crew for managing to show up and do their damnedest to win every game even when it becomes apparent that it's just not enough. They even take a moment to appreciate the Sport Writers covering them for sticking with the team through the literal worst season in NBA history.
  • Didn't See That Coming:
    • Invoked in the Lonnie Smith episode, when Bois recounts Smith's stunning comeback 1989 season. After five seasons in which Smith's best performancenote  wasn't even starter-level, he had a season that was better than the best seasons of Hall of Famers Tony Gwynn and Frank Thomas, and very close to the best of another HOF player, the legendary Joe DiMaggio.note 
    • Jon spends a lot of time in the Mariners documentary describing the team they were going to run with into the 2001 season as a collection of players who were all either at the end of their careers or close, and even the best players are described as being shining beacons in a dark period. He then presents a graph showing that this team would go on to tie the 1906 Cubs as having the best regular season record ever, and is so shocked by this that he can only ask Alex "What the fuck was that?"
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Chart Party on the NCAA Men's Basketball tournament points out that the tournament is largely dominated by less than 1% of the entire country in the sport, with hundreds of other teams allowed into the tournament, but otherwise only ever allowed to dream that they might be able to advance past a certain point, while the usual suspects blast their way into championship after championship through sheer resources and reputation that allows them to get all the tools necessary. He actively invites people at the end of the video to tell everyone what they think it's familiar to in the comments.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles end this way.
    • During his Chart Party about the Unending trainwreck that the Cleveland Browns have been since their return to the NFL, he has just one...only one...reason for Cleveland fans to have hope: He's just kidding.
    • The Pretty Good on Larry Walters marvels at how Larry did an incredibly reckless thing based on a childhood dream and clearly had the support of people on the ground who cared deeply about him, and the work of others who were able to make sure he got out of it safely. It ends talking about how he took his own life some 10 years later for unknown reasons.
    • "NO!!!!!!" covers the December 21, 2003 Saints v. Jaguars game, where the Saints made a beautiful and unprecedented three-lateral touchdown to get just one point away from the Jaguars in the final seconds of the game... only for kicker John Carney to miss the extra point kick.
    • It's hard not to view the Falcons collapse in the 2017 Super Bowl as this, especially as it's detailed in the final part of the seven-part Dorktown in the history of the Falcons where every second of the fourth quarter brings more and more despair until the overtime coin-flip basically destroys the Falcons chance at their first Super Bowl win.
    • "One of the all-time greatest NFL teams didn't even make the playoffs" ends with Jon pointing out that Philip Rivers is probably the greatest quarterback to never play in a Super Bowl, and he still has a few good years left with a Chargers team that's been playing pretty well, ending the video on an optimistic note. Until...
      Jon Bois: I would say there's a pretty good chance for a fairy tale ending for these Chargers. Except...
      [giant image of Patrick Mahomes appears]
      Jon Bois: ...we have Mahomes now on the Chiefs. So, nevermind. Sorry, suckers. note 
    • The People You're Paying to Be in Shorts details the '11-'12 Charlotte Bobcats and how, despite a rough off-season exacerbated by a lockout, things seemed to be looking good to at least try and squeak into the play-offs and make some noise to try and drum-up interest for Free Agents to come play for them. What ends up happening is that the Bobcats not only have a losing record by the end of the season, not only manage to get two of the longest losing streaks in League history in the one seasonnote , and not only finish the season with the worst win percentage and single season point differential in League history, but they did not even get the silver lining of picking first overall in the draft thanks to the lottery and end up losing generational talent Anthony Davis to the Hornets franchise, whose departure from Charlotte led to the Bobcats existing. When Jon made a tweet comparing the moral of the Bobcats to morals of other teams that Secret Base made Dorktown documentaries about, he listed their moral as "unfortunately god has been run over by a bus".
  • Dramatic Irony: The History of the Atlanta Falcons Dorktown spends almost two-thirds of its final part describing the play-by-play of Super Bowl LI, with pretty much all of Jon's commentary during it playing on the fact that the Falcons' loss is one of the most infamous sports collapses in history.
  • Drugs Are Bad: In his episode on Lonnie Smith, Jon completely freaks out when he realizes that the three most notorious cocaine addicts on the 1982 St. Louis Cardinals were also the two best hitters and best pitcher on the team.note  A team that won that year's World Series.
    Jon Bois: [voiceover] Does coke make you awesome at baseball? No. No no no! Nope, nope, nope, [slaps table] nope! I'm putting my head in the sand, and I refuse to make a 20-minute ad for cocaine. No, I'm not doing it.
    [Cut to Jon in his office. He addresses the camera:]
    Jon Bois: Alright, if there are any kids watching, I don't want you coming and hollering to your parents, like "Mr. Jon told me doing coke's great, I'm gonna go do coke now!" No. That's not what I'm saying. I haven't finished the story yet. The bad part's coming. Okay, stick around.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early episodes of Pretty Good and Chart Party had licensed music. There also were some much shorter clips, about single plays or stats, which got phased out later.
  • Epic Fail: In the second part of the "Our quest to either fix or ruin soccer" episode of Fumble Dimension Jon's tenure as coach of Fumble Chaos ends after 53 days in charge because his play was so bad that the team goes on a losing streak that breaks the chart.
  • End of an Era: In episode 4 of "The History of the Minnesota Vikings," Jon posits that their blowout loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 1989 NFC Divisional Round is the point where the Vikings stopped being consistently great and became just another team.
    Jon Bois: January 6th, 1990, is the day the Minnesota Vikings fall from the ranks of NFL royalty. This is how we know they have. If you are NFL royalty, you achieve greatness across multiple generations. Someone sees their greatness, and down the road, their child sees that same greatness. There are children in purple jerseys watching this afternoon whose parents saw Joe Kapp, and Alan Page, and Fran Tarkenton. They are watching an institution that no longer knows what it is, that reeks of insecurity. But their conquerors know. There are two conquerors who will dominate the decade to come: the Dallas Cowboys, who have now antagonized them twice. Once by using them as a prop as they orchestrated arguably the most storied play in NFL historynote , and now, by getting one over on them in what is widely regarded as the greatest fleecing in NFL historynote . And the San Francisco 49ers, who, for the second straight year, have beaten them silly on the field en route to their fourth Lombardi trophy. Both these conquerors have sent the Minnesota Vikings a message, one they will reinforce in the coming years. An unholy incantation that shatters the heart of every American, one more devastating than "We hate you," or "We will destroy you." It simply says: "You don't belong here."
  • The Fool: In "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", this is how Jon describes the 2013 Dolphins in their October 31st game against the Bengals. They were punting like they wanted to lose, but had victory thrust upon them anyway, via a wildly unlikely tackle-safety.
    Jon Bois: With number 7 we learn that if the Fates have decided that you're going to win, you will be dragged, kicking and screaming, to that win, no matter how much you don't want to. [...] When the Fates decide that you're gonna win, they lay opportunity at your feet. You can try to overthink or cower your way out of it, but the win will always find you. Sorry, Dolphins. You won. I know it isn't what you wanted.
  • Forced Meme: Invoked and discussed twice in the Atlanta Falcons and Minnesota Vikings series:
    • Falcons head coach Jerry Glanville once left some Falcons tickets at Elvis Presley's door. Over the next several years, Glanville bought an Elvis-themed vanity license plate, titled his autobiography Elvis Don't Like Football, and was the face of a Sega Genesis beat-em-up called Jerry Glanville's Pigskin Footbrawl...which included an "Elvis Sightings" mechanic. Jon is not impressed.
      Jon: This joke is trying so, so hard. I'm exhausted.
    • Les Steckel served with the Marines in The Vietnam War. During Steckel's one-year tenure as Vikings head coach, he put the team through a professional athlete's version of Gym Class Hell (resulting in many injuries), and when talking to the press used many, many analogies to the military and Vietnam (even after promising his wife not to do so). By the time Steckel is fired at the end of the 1984 season, Jon is audibly relieved that he never has to talk about the Marines again.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Jon declares the extra period of Super Bowl 51 to be this after the Patriots won the overtime coin toss and forced a completely spent Falcons defense onto the field for the final time.
    Jon: Who wins the coin flip? Who do you think? Who the hell do you think? Look at Matt Ryan - he won't even look at it. I think he knew. I think this is when we all knew.
  • From Bad to Worse: As detailed in the Captain Ahab miniseries, Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Dave Stieb had a potential no-hitter broken up in the top of the ninth inning against the then-Cleveland Indians with two outs and two strikes. Six days later, in his next start against the Baltimore Orioles, the exact same scenario happened again.
    Jon Bois: [The first game], he was strong enough to laugh off. This is too much. It's far too much. Slap some postage on this thing and ship it to hell. It has happened to him twice.
  • Harmful to Minors: Parodied as part of the buildup to Vikings coach Jerry Burns' legendary 1989 press conference:
    Jon Bois: At this point I'd like to recommend that if you have small children in the room, make sure they pay very close attention to what we're about to hear. They're gonna learn some new words, it's gonna be great.
  • How We Got Here: His seven-part series on the history of the Atlanta Falcons begins with a recounting of 28-9, the score in Super Bowl LI at the beginning of the 4th quarter and before New England's legendary comeback really kicked into gear. He chooses this as a starting point because for an oft-dysfunctional, championship-starved franchise, the clangor of Stephen Gostkowski's kick caroming off the upright to conclude an arduous six-minute drive to score the first Patriot touchdown, confirmed more than 28-3 that the Falcons would be champions. He then jumps back to the beginning, recounting their history and contextualizing that moment within the team's struggle to reach the top, before returning to Super Bowl LI in part seven.
  • Hyperlink Story: The Dorktown episode "How to score 10 runs in the first inning and lose" is a downplayed example. It starts off describing "a man named Rooker" trekking across Pennsylvania on foot, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, describes the difficulties and dangers of his journey, then asks why he's doing this, without answering. Then Jon and Alex switch to the main subject of the video—the June 8, 1989 baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies where, as stated in the title, the Pirates scored 10 runs in the first inning but still lost the game. At the end of the game, Jon and Alex connect these two plot threads: Jim Rooker was a commentator on that same baseball game, and at the end of the first inning, seeing the Pirates' unprecedented lead this early in the game, boasted that he would walk back to Pittsburgh if the Phillies somehow won.
  • Inferred Holocaust: invokedIn his video on 24, he makes a pretty good case that America is most likely on the verge of collapse. It's had nine presidents in under two decades, and seen only one peaceful transfer of power in the meantime. Even aside from the actual destruction shown in the series, faith in the government is at an all-time low and the government itself is probably falling apart at the seams to accommodate the constant leadership switches and regular purges of conspirators.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: In Pretty Good: "Koo Dae-Sung", color commentator Tim McCarver predicts that Koo's at-bat will be the "biggest give-up" of the season thus far. Koo hits a double, while McCarver's still talking.
    Jon Bois: Y'all hear that? Tim McCarver's prediction was so wrong, that it was proven wrong before he had even finished saying it.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Much of Bois' work reuses a small set of synth and jazz stock music, and at least one has graduated to full on theme song ("Soundtracks" for Dorktown).
  • Interface Screw: Pretty Good Episode 12 is about a Basketball game with an astronomically high score, and is divided into chapters, each opening with a quote from The Iliad. But when he gets to the point where he gets to the scoring error he noticed, the chapter graphic is changed to all-caps ERROR messages in place of the title, the on-screen clock that counts down to the start of the chapter is broken, and the sound cue plays backwards.
  • Internet Jerk: invoked Discussed in Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive", where a bodybuilding forum thread—about working out every other day—descends into a petty argument between people who can't agree how many days are in a week.
  • It's Personal:
    • Pretty Good Ep. 10 highlights John Heisman's furious rampage over the 1916 Cumberland College football team, complete with a moment of cruel mercy, a score that mirrored the baseball loss that infuriated him in the first place, and the total, complete destruction of the waypoints were used to describe this game.
    • The Dorktown Seattle Mariners retrospective series shows that this is in play for Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr. towards the New York Yankees as a result of how they were treated by them in the past.
  • Jerkass Woobie: invoked
    • invokedHis interpretation of Jack Bauer. By his account, Jack Bauer is a violent asshole, a Torture Technician, and more of a danger to his partners than his enemies, but his life also sucks so hard and he lives in such a Crapsack World that he ends up being sympathetic anyway. Bois puts in the case that Jack Bauer probably suffered more than any character in fiction over the show's long run.
    • invokedOn a smaller scale, Jon also sees Justin this way, in "The Dumbest Boy Alive". Justin gloats about his victory over Josh to an absurd degree, all while mocking everyone in the thread who talks back to him. Reading Justin's posts, Jon speculates that winning a dumb argument on the internet might actually be the best thing that's happened to Justin in a long time, and that's why he's reveling in this achievement so much.
      Jon Bois: Man, Justin's head is in outer space right now. I mean, we all know how tough wins are to come by in life, but assholes who don't win a lot in life are pretty easy to spot. They're the ones who soak it up like it's an oasis. Justin typed about 250 words in this post alone. He posted 34 times in this thread, for a total of nearly 2,000 words. Justin, the very smart man who knows how many days are in a week, has become the tragic figure in this play. He basically got tricked into writing a 2,000 word book report about a calendar—and he's confused it for the greatest moment of his life.
  • "Just Joking" Justification: Dissected in Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive":
    Jon Bois: So, on the one hand "I was only trolling" is kind of the ultimate internet punk-ass move. If they were actually trolling, they would just keep on trolling, because that is what trolls do. Basically they only pull this card out when they're being thoroughly humiliated. They want you to think "Ooh, I'm an evil genius, this was part of my grand social experiment." Nah, you're just not that smart.
  • The Ken Burns Effect: A variant. Jon tends to structure his later videos around a single board full of graphs, pictures, and dates, panning back and forth, uncovering more and more as video progresses.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", he compares punting to giving up, but grudgingly admits that sometimes a punt really is the smartest move for a team. Of course, the whole point of the episode is to find (and criticize) punts that clearly weren't the smart choice. Even if a few of the most seemingly egregious punts, he's forced to admit that several of them were probably the right call.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again:
    • In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", Jon goes over an ineligible entry where a 4th down play deep in enemy territory embarrassingly ends with a desperate pooch punt. Jon doesn't have a clip, and surmises that the NFL drove the footage of the play to the desert and buried it.
    • Jon believes that the Charlotte Bobcats changing their name back to the Hornets was the franchises way of doing this to the Bobcats legacy, which considering the '11-'12 season highlighted by The People You're Paying to Be in Shorts was probably for the best.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: In "The Dumbest Boy Alive", both sides of the argument are completely absurd and unlikeable. Nevertheless, Justin is so petty and tyrannical that, despite being factually correct, Jon ends up rooting against him, solely to deny him the satisfaction of winning. Jon actually finds Josh, the guy who doesn't know how many days are in a week, easier to support.
  • Mean Boss: Had multiple while he worked at Radioshack, but he blames their issues on the idea that managing a Radioshack will do that to you.
  • Missing Episode: Pretty Good Ep.4, about how Soviet Lieutenant Colonel Stanislav Petrov successfully prevented a nuclear war, was taken out of rotation because of a music sting he wanted to edit out, possibly due to copyright reasons. It hasn't returned to the Internet since.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: To punctuate a dramatic moment, the editing of his videos pans, tilts, and zooms the camera all over the charts, still images, audio clips and Google Earth footage used, with the soundtrack intensifying wildly. Only rarely Played for Laughs.
  • Musical Spoiler: Whenever the Saints appear in The History of the Atlanta Falcons, the jazzy Urban Saxman gives you a few seconds notice. Also shows up in The History of the Minnesota Vikings.
  • "No. Just… No" Reaction: At the conclusion of "What if Barry Bonds had played without a baseball bat?", Jon gives this reaction himself when his simulation indicates that Barry Bonds would have had an on-base percentage of .608 if he played the 2004 season without a bat, just .001 less than his actual OBP (and the all-time record as of 2019) that season. He's so dumbfounded by this result that he practically begs YouTube commenters to challenge it.
  • Not So Above It All: In, "The Dumbest Boy Alive", Jon finds himself getting emotionally invested in the forum argument, even though he had no involvement with the original thread and only discovered it years after it got closed. He speculates that it's the combination of stupidity and meanness on display that's getting to him.
  • Not so Fast, Bucko!: In "The Dumbest Boy Alive", after Josh returns to the thread to say he was just trolling and the story of the thread appears to have wrapped up, Jon makes a speech about the futility of Justin's attempts to get Josh to bow to him, then cuts himself short when he realizes that the thread remained open past this point and that people were continuing to argue over the nuances of what "working out every other day" means.
    Jon Bois: Wait, is this still going? Is this still going, oh my God!
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: According to Jon, Lonnie Smith. In something of a zig-zagged example, Lonnie Smith did many notable things during his baseball career, both positive and negative, yet Jon states that what he's most remembered for is his baserunning error that cost the Atlanta Braves the World Series in 1991 in Game 7.
    Jon: They don't remember him for the pigeon toes, the Phillie Phanatic, the coke benders, the bottles, all the World Series rings, the murder plot, one of the greatest comebacks ever, or the World Series home run record. Nope, it's this shit.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted in "Lonnie Smith" from Pretty Good, which also features music from one Dr. Lonnie Smith, and in "History of the Seattle Mariners" from Dorktown, which briefly shows the career of every MLB player named Randy. But the greatest aversion of this from Jon is The Bob Emergency, which exclusively goes through the careers of athletes named Bob, even uncovering one obscure fighter who averts it on his own with the name Bob Bob.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Discussed in "How to score 10 runs in the first inning and lose". Steve Jeltz had the worst batting average of any Major League Baseball player (with at least 1000 plate appearances) throughout the '80s. He was so infamous that the bio on his own baseball card made fun of his for his batting average, "which seems like something that should not be allowed". But Jon Bois pulls up a percentile graph representing everyone in the US who's ever played baseball at the high school level or higher, and argues that anyone with a years-long MLB career (like Steve Jeltz) must be in the 99.9th percentile of baseball players. Jeltz just happened to be at the bottom of that top sliver of a percent: one of the best players in the world who had the misfortune of getting compared to the tiny fraction of even better players.
  • Painting the Medium: Much of his work likes to mess with this a little bit.
  • Please Subscribe to Our Channel: His most consistent running gag is parodying and subverting the boilerplate "Please like, comment, and subscribe" messages that most career YouTubers stick at the end of every video.
    • From Chart Party: "The Terrelle Pryor Problem":
      Jon Bois: Looking for more great content like this? That's good. Um, hope you find it. See ya. [walks away]
    • Chart Party: "My Favorite Worst Baseball Player" has this message after the end credits:
      For more videos from Jon Bois, click the whatever button and maybe videos will come out? I don't know, I need to go to bed.
    • From Chart Party: "The History of Every NFL Team":
      There are more episodes of Chart Party on Youtube. If you're interested you can go search for them or whatever. I mean, you're a smart person, you don't need me to explain the internet to you.
    • From Chart Party: "Every NFL Score Ever":
      Jon Bois: Looking for more great videos on YouTube? [beat] I'ma level with you: I think this is the only good YouTube video. And I haven't even finished making this video, so this one might not even be good, I don't know. So you might be kinda out of luck.
    • From Pretty Good, Ep.10:
      for more episodes of Pretty Good, I don't know, just click around, you're bound to find them one way or another
      you can subscribe to this channel if you want, but I'm not really comfortable with asking people to do things. if you wanted to, I'm sure you would have already
  • P.O.V. Sequel: In Part 4 of History of the Atlanta Falcons, Jon and Alex do a deep dive on the NFC Championship game against the Minnesota Vikings that would lead the Falcons to Super Bowl XXXIII, Jon ends the segment by mentioning how tragic this loss was for the '98 Vikings, only to then say "that's a story for another time". Two years later, at the start of the trailer for History of the Minnesota Vikings, Jon hangs a big, ol' lampshade on that:
    Jon Bois: Two years ago, while telling the story of the Atlanta Falcons, we inevitable encountered the Minnesota Vikings. We could've gone on and on and on about 'em, and we really wanted to, but instead I said "But that's a story for another time." ...this is that time.
  • Precision F-Strike: Jon is known for running his mouth a bit, but in his 6 part series: The History of the Seattle Mariners (made alongside Alex Rubenstein) he holds his tongue through the first 4 episodes. Then after the video traces the course of the Mariners record breaking 2001 season a few minutes into the 5th:
    Jon: [beat] Alex, what the FUCK was that?
  • Professional Gambler: Why do I choose this for a living is about professional poker players.
  • Random Events Plot: The Troy St. - DeVry game, by itself, defies any attempts to retell it as a story.
    Jon Bois: This game is not a story that needs to be told in any particular order. There's no narrative arc; there's no climax or anticlimax. There are only a thousand sledgehammers falling out of a thundercloud. That isn't a story.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A large portion of Jon's work involves forming absurdist framing devices to highlight and tell the stories of real life sporting events and players.
    • Also applies in specific to Randall Cunningham Seizes the means of production; at the time, Vox writers were going through a protracted unionization battle with the company.
  • Redundant Parody: In Part 7 of The History of the Atlanta Falcons, Jon argues that certain current events are impossible to make jokes about, because the reality is already absurd enough to be the ideal joke. (Jon specifically cites Donald Trump's presidency and Super Bowl LI as examples of the phenomenon.) When you try to put your own spin on it, you just water down the humor; the best you can hope to do is repeat the existing punchline verbatim.
  • Ring Oldies: In The Bob Emergency, he notes the tendency of professional wrestlers to have long careers, with a particular eye towards one "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, who ended up wrestling for 59 years, only retiring at age 79 in 2019.
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: The Dorktown episode for the 2010 Chargers makes this case, laying out the team's phenomenal offense and defense held back by a special teams unit so blunderous in the first half of the season that the team didn't even make it to the playoffs despite their general proficiency otherwise.
  • Self-Deprecation: Frequently makes jokes at his own expense, like him being fairly insignificant in the grand scheme of things, his profession being useless, the fact that he often makes poor decisions, or that as someone who never went to college, he doesn't have a stellar resume for contesting official documents. And then there's the one sports team that he truly loves, and well:
    Jon: Y'know sometimes people ask me: 'Jon, why are you such a piece of shit and how did you get so stupid?' Well it's because I'm a Kansas City Chiefs fan, and they tend to do that to you.
  • Series Mascot: For Breaking Madden and NBA Y2K, it was Clarence BEEFTANK, a 400 lb., 5'1 cannonball of a created player.
  • Short-Runner: Many of his projects have pretty short runs before he moves onto other things, with his shortest being Card Show with Ryan Nanni. Stuff like Chart Party, on the other hand, rarely runs out of content so he mostly just infrequently makes new episodes.
  • Signature Style: After his very early work, Jon started using Google Earth to produce animations of data and locations, and it quickly evolved into much more elaborate displays, especially in 17776. While not totally unique, it's unusual enough that it's common to see comment sections on videos filled with surprise at what he's used the program to do.
  • Simpleton Voice: In Pretty Good: "The Dumbest Boy Alive", Jon uses one for TheJosh until he comes back at the end of the episode to say he was trolling.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: In "The Dumbest Boy Alive", Jon characterizes Justin this way, as Justin takes his victory (in an internet argument over the number of days in a week) as a license to mock everyone who talks back to him. Jon sarcastically refers to the thread as Justin's "kingdom".
  • Something We Forgot: Towards the end of Part 4 of History of the Atlanta Falcons, after going into all of the drama leading into Super Bowl XXXIII, culminating in Eugene Robinson getting arrested for accidentally soliciting an undercover police officer the night before, Jon remarks that "[a]ll in all, it was truly a Super Bowl to remember", and ends the episode... with ten minutes and change to go.
    Alex: ...are we gonna talk about the actual ballgame? Personally, either way is cool with me...
    Jon: Wait, the wha- OH, SHIT, yes, also, uh, there was a football game...
  • Soul-Sucking Retail Job: His retrospective writing on RadioShack makes it clear that this is in place for many of the employees, and even the managers to an extent.
  • Spoof Aesop: In Chart Party: "The Search for the Saddest Punt in the World", Jon concludes that unnecessary punting is "the signifier of a loser. This is what losing teams do." But then Jon admits this isn't actually true because, of the ten saddest punts that he examined, six of the offending teams went on to win those games, and one went on to tie. And of the three teams that lost, one of them — the 2000 Baltimore Ravens — immediately followed that with a ten-game winning streak and a Super Bowl victory. Jon concludes that he really has no idea what lesson should be learned from all this.
  • Springtime for Hitler: During the final part of The History of the Atlanta Falcons, Jon and Alex go over all the ways that the surprisingly competent Falcons of the New '10s give way to the hilariously incompetent Falcons of old, one of which being an example of them managing to accidentally fuck up in the one incredibly specific scenario where you don't want to scorenote  and managing to lose the game by scoring a touchdown.
  • Stealth Insult: During one session of Breaking Madden, he explains his use of the nickname "Touchdown Tom" to refer to Tom Brady is this: he considers Tom Brady to be The Generic Guy, and consequently, gave him an incredibly generic-sounding nickname ("Touchdown Tom" could refer to basically any successful quarterback named Tom, after all) that also sounds both stupid and on-the-nose. This is also to make the "Can't count out Touchdown Tom!" appellation all the more irritating.
  • Straight Man and Wise Guy: In series that Jon co-hosts, he usually plays the role of Wise Guy to his co-host, especially in Fumble Dimension. For example, in Episode 4, while Kofie mainly talks about Jon struggling through the course, Jon mainly goes off on tangents unrelated to golf, such as explaining how to make soup and building a new society on a boat where tomato paste isn't sold in cans.
  • Tempting Fate: "How to score 10 runs in the first inning and lose" covers the June 8, 1989 baseball game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies. One of the commentators, Jim Rooker, upon seeing the Pirates' first-inning lead, wanted to impress on the audience just how absurdly unprecedented this was—so he made a bet that he if the Phillies somehow won the game, he'd walk all the way back to Pittsburgh. Not only did the Phillies make that comeback, but Steve Jeltz—the player with the worst batting average in the entire MLB at the time—put them over the top with five runs batted in. (Jeltz hit only five home runs in his entire MLB career, and two of them were at this very game.) Jon Bois can't help but conclude that the baseball gods are real, and Jim Rooker somehow angered them with his wager.
  • Trickster God: In the final episode of The History of the Atlanta Falcons, Jon interprets the Falcons' old, "derpy faced" logo as a personification of the entire team and characterizes it as an almighty prankster. Thus, Super Bowl LI was the Falcons' greatest (and cruelest) joke ever: play like a legitimate team just long enough to make everyone believe they could actually win the Super Bowl, then dash all those hopes by choking at the last possible second.
  • Values Dissonance: invoked Invoked. One frequently recurring thread in Jon's work is that he doesn't really care about cheating in sports, especially when it comes to doping, in part because the punishments for cheating are often arbitrarily and inconsistently enforced, and in part because cheating has existed as long as sports have. Plus, watching particularly inept people mess up their attempts to cheat in ridiculously stupid ways is high comedy.
  • Wham Shot:
    • At the end of Part 4 of The History of the Seattle Mariners, Jon begins introducing Ken Griffey Jr.'s successor as the leading man of the Mariners franchise, over a simple shot of an extended arm, holding a bat by the knob in a Mizuno batting glove-clad hand. He never actually says Ichiro's name, but the picture is more than enough for anyone familiar with baseball.
    • During Part 3 of "Captain Ahab: The Story of Dave Stieb", after Jerry Browne makes contact on the final out of potential no-hitter, the camera slowly pans to follow to ball. The way Jon talks makes you think it will end in yet another broken up no-no, only to suddenly show Junior Felix easily catching it and ending the game.
  • Who's on First?: Jon takes particular delight in The People You're Paying to Be in Shorts after realising that Anthony Davis never played for the (Charlotte) Hornets because he was drafted by the (New Orleans) Hornets. Explanation 
  • With Friends Like These...: He has a good time pointing out that, in 24, invariably the biggest threat to Jack Bauer's sidekicks, partners, and bosses ended up being... Jack Bauer. The funniest (well, for a certain definition of "funny") of the bunch was poor Paul Raines, who ended up being beaten up by Jack, tortured with an electric cord by Jack, still tried to help Jack with fighting terrorists and took a bullet, had a doctor who was operating to save his life dragged away from the table to operate on a terrorist instead by Jack, and expired from his wounds to let Jack have sex with his ex-wife.
  • The Worf Barrage: Invokes this at the start of The History of the Atlanta Falcons series to argue why the 28-9 lead was the more cathartic score difference during the Falcons and Patriots' Super Bowl LI game rather than the more proliferated 28-3. After being completely dominated by the Falcons for the first two quarters of the game and earning nothing but a Field Goal for their efforts, the Patriots muster up everything they have for a protracted drive to score a single touchdown toward the end of the third quarter — except they fail the one point conversion. They further attempt an onside kick out of desperation to maintain an offense, which also fails as the Falcons end up recovering it. 28-3 may have been the bigger differential, but 28-9 was when it became clear to people that the Patriots were completely outgunned and unlikely to ever recover from their deficit.
  • The Worf Effect: Matt Ryan's Falcons are sort of this. In 2011, 2012, 2013, 2018, and obviously 2017, the team that beat them won the Super Bowl.
  • You Cannot Grasp the True Form: Likens the Troy State-DeVry game in Ep.12 of Pretty Good to the Tower of Babel, arguing that the number of points from both sides was huge enough to defy reason and comprehension.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Jon's reaction in episode 6 of "The History of the Minnesota Vikings" to Brett Favre's back-breaking interception against the New Orleans Saints in the 2009 NFC Championship Game. And he sounds legitimately angry during it.
    Jon Bois: Unwilling to run, unwilling to throw it away, the 2009 calculating, mistake-averse Brett Favre disappears, and the ol’ gunslinger, the wheeler and dealer himself, chooses this instance to re-emerge from a season of dormancy. The Vikings bought the ticket; now, in the worst circumstances imaginable, they ride the ride. Favre does what every high school quarterback is coached not to do: he throws across the field. Rolling right and throwing left means his field of visibility is compromised, so while he sees his man Sidney Rice, he does not account for Tracy Porter lurking in the periphery, jumping out in front of Rice and easily locking in on the interception. A very good chance to punch a ticket to the Super Bowl has been needlessly thrown in the garbage. At this point in history, Brett Favre has attempted more passes than any other quarterback in NFL history by a gigantic margin. He has more experience than anyone ever has. Given the stakes and given that it came off the right arm of a man who, more than anyone else alive or dead, should’ve known better, this is the worst mistake I have ever seen a quarterback make.