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Fan Fic / Murderer's Row

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Murderer's Row is a Red vs. Blue Prison AU Slash Fic, written by Violent-Medic.

Donut is given a life sentence and locked up in prison after he stabbed his roommate to death. Surrounded by conmen, blackmailers, murderers and other no-good criminals, Donut is going to have his work cut out for him if he wants to live long enough to achieve parole. And just staying out of the way won't help, as he's immediately roped into the fighting between the inmates.


And on top of that, his jumpsuit is incredibly itchy. Could things possibly get any worse?

Yes. Yes, they could.

As of its most recent iteration on ao3, it has been divided into Volumes, with some oneshots dividing them up:

  • Volume 1, 'Welcome To The Row,' starts from Donut's incarceration. It covers him adjusting to prison, as well as getting to know the other members of the Row (Church, Tucker, Caboose, Grif and Simmons) and getting involved in the struggles between inmates, many of which are caused by the acts of O'Malley, a particularly sadistic inmate. This volume also covers the first half of the main six inmate's 'flashbacks,' detailing how they ended up in prison.
  • Between Vol.1 and Vol.2 is 'Two Sides Of One Coin,' a flashback oneshot concerning the childhoods of Doc and O'Malley.
  • Volume 2, 'The Cost Of Obsession,' takes place five years after Vol.1 and starts with Lopez joining the Row. It details what happens when Doc leaves the prison to escape O'Malley, and O'Malley takes this as a personal insult and starts causing damage with intent to bring Doc back or, should that fail, escape and pursue him. It also involves other antagonists, including Wash antagonizing Donut over a perceived issue. This volume covers the second half of the main six inmate's 'flashbacks.'
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  • Between Vol.2 and Vol.3 is 'Debt,' a flashback concerning Wash after his three-month captivity in a basement during Church's flashbacks. Also between these two volumes is 'Dry Spell,' not directly linked to due to its nature as smut.
  • Volume 3, 'Pound of Flesh,' has just begun and is slated to be the final volume. It takes place ten years after Vol.2 and concerns both the main row of inmates aging and facing potential parole, and new inmates from their pasts arriving in prison. As opposed to the other volumes, this volume's flashbacks focus on characters who are either new to the prison or completely outside it: specifically Locus, C.T/Pillman and Carolina.

This fic is set to span the twenty years between Donut's incarceration up until he achieves parole, and has gone through two heavy revisions. This page links to the most recent.


Murderer's Row contains examples of:

  • A Lighter Shade of Black: There are few characters who aren't evil in some way, as basically every one of the main characters is a murderer. However, O'Malley is always a much darker shade of black than anyone else, being an unrepentant torturing, raping serial killer. In comparison, characters like Church and Wash can still be considered bad, but less so.
  • Abusive Parents: There are many sets of parents who could be considered abusive.
    • Church's father is the most clear-cut example, neglecting both his sons, often throwing beer bottles around them and being very emotionally abusive to Epsilon in particular, blaming him for his mother's death. It is why Church ends up killing him.
    • On the emotional side, Simmons' parents ignored anything he had to say that was outside of their script and eventually disowned him for kissing a guy.
    • The details are unspecified so far in the Volume 3 flashbacks, but Connie is clearly afraid of her parents and prefers living in a junkyard to going home, and as a child Felix freezes up when people pick him up and winces at loud noises.
  • Alcoholic Parent: Tucker's mother, of the benign but neglectful variety, and Church's father, of the violent variety.
  • Alternate Universe Fic
  • Ambiguous Innocence: Caboose comes off as very innocent at times. But he's definitely not good.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Whether Caboose shoved his mother down the stairs or not.
  • Amicable Exes: Church and Tex, who are stated early on to have dated before Church was thrown in prison. Though slightly complicated due to the fact that Tex was the one who arrested him and Church was friends with the man who killed Tex's sister, they seem on very amicable terms despite their usual bickering and insults.
  • Anachronic Order: Not the main fic, but the flashbacks are a variant. Although an individual character will have theirs occur chronologically for them, many characters have largely varying timelines, causing events to be revisited or to happen in odd orders. For example, Caboose gets into a car accident in Flashback Two. This same accident occurs in Grif's Flashback Seven, all the way in the next volume.
  • And Call Him "George"!: Caboose has had this problem with several pigeons he's tried to keep as pets. Outside of prison, this also happened to his pet cat, Apples.
  • Anyone Can Die: This was cemented with the death of Simmons.
  • Attempted Rape: O'Malley clearly had this on his mind when he mistook Donut for Doc in a drug-induced haze, but Donut managed to stop him.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Tucker, when he crossdressed for certain cons in his flashback. It's partially attributed to C.T's skill with contouring.
  • Awkward Father-Son Bonding Activity: Caboose's father had been known to drag Caboose to strip clubs when he was a teenager.
  • Awkward Kiss: Church and Tucker's first mutual kiss is noted by both of them to be weird and awkward, although they conclude that 'it could have been worse' and it doesn't stop their relationship from going ahead.
  • Ax-Crazy: O'Malley and the Red Zealot. Caboose is also a borderline example, though it recedes after he realises it through Church. Pillman is a literal example, as he has attacking people with a tomahawk on his list of crimes.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: After losing his doctor's licence, O'Malley became a back alley surgeon in the flashback chapters. It was the reason he was hired by Church's smuggling group.
  • Bad Dreams: These affect Donut after the death of his roommate and get much worse after O'Malley chops off his ear and he witnesses Walter's disembowelment.
  • Berserk Button: Do not hurt Church or Donut in front of Caboose. Just don't.
    • Wash can be set off by Donut insisting that he killed the Meta through luck or anyone pointing out his fear of the dark.
  • Beta Couple: Grif and Simmons until Simmons' death. Lopez and Sheila also count. They're both much more stable than Church and Tucker and certainly much better than Doc and O'Malley, if you can call them a couple at all.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: In Church's backstory, after Wash stabs Epsilon during his escape, Gary is the one to find him. He picks up the knife and is found immediately by Delta, who shoots him on the spot. However, this was also because he'd just returned from finding proof that Gary had betrayed them. (Though this also turned out to be planted.)
  • Black and Grey Morality: No-one is completely clean in this. After all, the majority of the 'good' characters are convicted murderers. Even many of the guards are in the gray area, especially Wash. But there are completely irredeemable characters like O'Malley.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Inverted.
    Donut: Oh! You're a prison snitch!
    Church: I'm not a fucking snitch! I'm... just a blackmailer.
  • Black Sheep: Simmons is this to his family, being the only one who didn't look like they walked out of a commercial for the perfect family.
    • Tex is one, compared to her father and sister. She's a prison guard, formerly a cop, while they're both very big criminals. Though she was considered the favourite as well, likely due to her resemblance to her mother, while Carolina was heavily implied to be The Unfavorite.
  • Blind Black Guy: Tucker after the Volume 2 riot.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Definitely more bloody than the source material, especially in later chapters.
  • Breaking Speech: O'Malley manages to do this a lot. Wyoming also got a turn at it.
  • The Bully: Caboose was one as a child.
  • Bumbling Dad: Caboose's father, who is rather clueless about why it's not good to keep hookers in the same house as your ten-year-old son.
  • Bungled Suicide: A few years before the beginning of the story, Church tried to kill himself via hanging. However, he didn't tie the noose properly and ended up falling and breaking his leg instead.
  • Buried Alive: In the earlier versions of the fic, Grif and Simmons buried their murder victim and then discovered he wasn't dead when they did so. Averted in the rewrite.
  • Carved Mark: O'Malley does this to Doc, carving the Greek letter Omega onto his chest. He also did this, amongst other Greek letters, to Wash during the three-month torture. During Wash's second torture session, within the prison, he gives Wash a carved mark that matches Doc.
  • Catchphrase: As well as the ones from the original series, in the earliest version of the fic North has a habit of going "Jesus Christ on a unicycle!" Or substituting unicycle for another mode of transport.
  • Cheshire Cat Grin: O'Malley almost constantly wears one, if he's not in full-out Slasher Smile territory.
  • Chess Motifs: Simmons attempts to explain a situation with Church in Volume 2 with a chess metaphor. However, he doesn't have any chess pieces on hand and ends up using playing cards instead to represent the 'pieces.'
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Wash was tortured by O'Malley, Gary and Meta for three months. At first for information, and afterwards for their pure amusement. Specified methods they used included pulling out half of his teeth and most of his fingernails and toenails.
    • O'Malley does it again to Wash later, though inside prison walls and on a much shorter timeframe, for getting too close to Doc. This time, it's a lot more psychological as well as physical.
  • Companion Cube: Caboose and his toy pigeon, Margretta the Fourth. Before he had the stuffed one, he kept accidentally killing live pigeons and bringing them into his cell to talk to.
  • Conman: Tucker and Jones in the main fic. The backstory also adds both C.Ts, Joannes and Gary.
  • Contemplating Your Hands: O'Malley did this regularly during a stretch of time when he was on particularly heavy drugs. All Doc had to do was draw O'Malley's attention to his own hands in order to stop O'Malley from harassing him.
  • Coupde Grace : In the final flashback chapter, Caboose does this to Max Gain.
  • Creepy Souvenir: In Pillman's first flashback, Flowers is shown collecting the fingers of dead men and putting them in a sandwich bag.
  • Cut His Heart Out with a Spoon: York once threatens to rip Doc's teeth out through his ass.
    • Much later, a particularly angry Donut threatens to cut off someone's face and replace it with an ugly, badly-coloured blanket.
  • Dark Fic: As well as the change of setting, there's the deaths (which tend to be more brutal than the ones in canon), the torture, the rape, the fact that several characters seem to be mentally ill (Donut and Wash both show symptoms of PTSD, and that's only the top of Wash's issues. That's also not even getting into Caboose...) the regular mentions of suicide attempts and that O'Malley's rather light-hearted possession of Doc in canon has been reverted into something very sinister.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Sister's son, Simmons Shirley Grif.
  • Death by Childbirth: Church's mother, when she gave birth to Eddie/Epsilon, which is why he receives a lot of emotional abuse from their father.
  • Death by Falling Over: Caboose will often claim this is how his victims really died, rather than admitting to murder. It may be true in the case of his mother, as Caboose can't remember how it truly went down any more.
  • Death Glare: Caboose.
    ...if looks could kill Lopez would have been killed, vaporized and buried. And then his grave would have exploded.
  • Denied Food as Punishment: Wash, in Church's backstory. Or he would have been, were it not for Epsilon sneaking food to him.
    • After O'Malley tortured Wash in Volume 3, North neglected feeding him afterwards, pretending to have 'forgot.'
  • Despair Event Horizon: Wash hit this in 'Debt,' following his three-month torture session, eight months in hospitals and mental institutions, followed by over a year of homelessness, becoming sick through hunger and side effects of his medication, and then going off his medication and becoming even sicker from that. He lost hope entirely because he couldn't see a way out. He was seconds away from walking in front of traffic when York found him.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Simmons died in Grif's arms.
  • Disabled Love Interest: A strange case, as Church actually had feelings for Tucker long before he was blinded. Tucker only reciprocated after he was blinded, however, partly because he was terrified and needed something familiar to cling to.
  • Disappeared Dad: Neither Grif nor Tucker ever knew their fathers, and Locus' father walked out on the family.
  • Disguised in Drag: Tucker has disguised himself as a girl at least once in the past, for conning purposes.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: O'Malley is prone to over-the-top revenge for the tiniest of slights. Particularly for reasons relating to Doc, such as Church calling Doc a 'pussyfest,' Donut (with permission) using his mouthwash, and Doc and Wash daring to communicate with light shoulder touches.
  • The Dog Bites Back: O'Malley spends fifteen years mistreating Doc in every way possible. Doc finally has enough, drugs O'Malley and leaves him to die in the way that O'Malley would hate the most.
  • Driven to Suicide: Rumor has it that Tucker talked Jones into suicide. Tucker really did, but apparently it was an accident. He'd just been trying to convince Jones, using the shittier parts of prison as back-up for his argument, why messing with Church was a bad idea.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Grif. His reckless driving finally bites him in the ass in the seventh flashback chapter, when he crashes into Caboose which both stops any chance he had of escape from the police, and causes Caboose's off mental state.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Grif attempts to drink himself into a coma after Simmons' death. In Volume 3, his over-dependence on alcohol for this reason is a running sub-plot.
  • Dumb Muscle: Caboose. It's why Church lets him hang around.
  • Dumb Struck: After the car accident responsible for his brain damage, Caboose had trouble speaking for a while.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Everyone seems to have either a bad past, mental problems or both.
  • Ear Ache: O'Malley cuts off one of Donut's ears, takes a picture of it using South's stolen phone and sends it to Doc to prove he's serious about hurting people until he comes back.
  • Elephant in the Living Room: Referenced.
    Tucker: There's an elephant sitting in the corner. A giant, ceramic elephant with rainbows painted all over it and covered in glitter. A giant homo elephant.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Simmons' middle name is Shirley.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: All the main inmates, despite being unrepentant murderers for the most part, do not approve of rape and will also defend those who they consider part of their group. Church also mentions that any criminals who fuck or murder children usually don't last long because the other inmates usually kill them for it. Something that Church experienced himself, as he's falsely believed to have killed his six-year-old brother.
  • Everyone Is Gay: This is partly attributed to Situational Sexuality (stated in Tucker's case and implied with Church) but there's a high density of gay among the main cast.
  • Evil Laugh: O'Malley, almost constantly.
  • Evil Redhead: O'Malley. This is even a plot point, when at one point he convinces the Red Zealot that he's a prophet of the flag by pointing out that the flag wouldn't bestow its holy colour on someone unworthy. Averted by Volume 3, as he's gone grey by then.
  • Expecting Someone Taller: Washington to Donut. Washington knew Donut had killed the Meta, and was expecting someone strong or vicious or with some characteristic which would have made it possible to stab the Meta to death. Instead... he got a tiny, extremely girly guy.
  • Eye Scream: Poor Tucker.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Jimmy shows Church a picture of his future wife. He dies a few paragraphs later.
  • Fingore: Caboose breaks all of Miller's fingers, and Doc mangles them further through his incompetence at medicine.
    • During his three months of Cold-Blooded Torture, Wash gets the fingernails on his right hand pulled out.
    • In the ffnet version, Locus cuts some of the tendons on Delta's hands. This doesn't occur in the rewrite.
  • Flashback Echo: Being stuck in the dark tends to trigger these in Wash, bringing up memories of when he was locked and tortured in a basement for three months.
  • Flying Under the Gaydar: Donut attempts to do this when he first arrives in prison, due to his fear of getting raped by the bigger inmates. No-one is fooled, and Donut quickly drops it.
  • Forceful Kiss: O'Malley to Doc. He also does this to Donut once, although he was hallucinating that he was Doc. That time, it doesn't end well...
    • Happened once between Church and Tucker, once the truth about Church's crush came out. The response was violent, though on a lesser scale than the previous example.
  • For the Evulz: O'Malley is simply out for his own personal amusement.
  • Freudian Excuse: Averted. The one-shot 'Reasoning' shows what led O'Malley to start killing things. Turns out he simply wanted to see the insides of animals. Played straighter with the Reds and Blues, most of which have bad pasts that directly lead to prison.
    • Parodied when Tucker, during a therapy session, exaggerates and lies about his past to make it seem like he has one. He also shows contempt for the idea that a bad past justifies someone being a jerk.
  • Friend in the Black Market: Wyoming. Especially to O'Malley. After Wyoming's death, Church starts to set himself up as this.
  • Freudian Couch: Once Doc becomes the prison therapist, he insists his patients lie down on the couch. Although most of the time they don't listen to him.
  • Functional Addict: Grif is always a heavy drinker, but seems to function quite well despite that. Until after Simmons' death, at which point his drinking becomes even heavier and eventually his habits start to include drugs due to an inability to get fixes just from alcohol.
  • Gaslighting: A large part of Caboose's mental state in regards to his murders (namely, his belief that he never murdered at all) was caused by Church gaslighting him into believing he never murdered by talking to him over time. Church did it with semi-good intentions, but it really screwed Caboose up down the road.
    • Done during Volume 3. Since O'Malley only has a few hours at most to torture Wash, he regularly knocks him out and then wakes him up a couple of minutes later and tells him hours or days have passed. As such, he manages to trick Wash into thinking it's been five days instead of a few hours.
  • The Ghost: Sarge's wife is never shown on screen. All we know about her is that she regularly tortures Sarge for his misbehavior by refusing to do his laundry and putting mayonnaise in his sandwiches. And that she can recognise Flowers' 'secretary voice' on the phone.
  • Good Parents: Caboose and Donut had good parents. The others? Not so much.
  • Goshdang It To Heck: Doc and Sarge occasionally curse using... strange words. Occasionally, Caboose will be on the edge of swearing and he will change the words to something less rude. Such as 'bullstupid' instead of 'bullshit.'
  • Groin Attack: A very vicious, non-comedic example. Grif and Simmons killed the guy who beat up Sister by cutting off his junk. Written out in the rewrite.
  • Grudging "Thank You": Wash to Donut, after Donut stops York from being killed by the zealots.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Wash has anger issues. As does Caboose, who is friendly most of the time but pressing the wrong buttons can easily lead him into homicidal rage.
  • Hands-Off Parenting: Tucker's mother was continually drunk, and so didn't have much of a capacity to care for Tucker. Tucker grew up quite self-sufficient as a result. Locus also had a similar situation, but unlike with Tucker this was actually noticed and he kept being placed in foster care as a result.
  • Happily Adopted: Donut.
    • Sharkface isn't Pillman's blood-related son, but they're clearly fond of each other.
  • Has Two Mommies: Donut.
  • Hearing Voices: During a drug overdose, O'Malley starts hearing voices. Including that of Gary. Wash is prone to this when he's locked in the dark for too long.
  • Heel Realization: This hits Caboose with full force in Part 95.
  • Hellhole Prison: Varies. Many inmates refer to the place as a hellhole, but Valhalla Penitentiary isn't hellish on it's own. But it can be if you get on the wrong side of particular guards and inmates.
  • Heroic BSoD: Grif enters one after Simmons gets killed.
    • Delta enters a brief one after Sigma is killed and Theta is shot, and though he snaps out of the BSOD it has some effect on him for a while, making him act harsher and more erratic for the next couple of months. In both these cases, the 'heroic' part is heavily debatable.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Minus the heterosexual part on Donut's end, he and Caboose have a definite bromance going on, to the point of sleeping together in a blanket fort in their cell by the time of the second timeskip.
  • Hired Guns: Church worked as one for Delta for a few years. Also, Carolina, Wash and South were hired guns for the Director.
  • Homosexual Reproduction: Tucker and Crunchbite, since they're both human in this. It's apparently the result of a science experiment. The details are... hazy.
  • Hope Is Scary: In his flashback chapter, Wash refused to trust York the first time he was offered help, despite the fact that he'd been in such a bad place that he'd nearly tried walking into traffic because he was convinced that York would either call in favors for it later (and that he wouldn't be able to pay it back) or would just betray him. He decides pretty fast that it's worth the risk.
  • Hospital Hottie: Sheila.
  • How Many Fingers?: Doc uses this on Church once. Church mocks him for it.
  • Human Ladder: Donut and Caboose do this when Donut attempts to hang his laundry where inmates can't reach it.
  • I Have Your Wife: In the backstory, Junior was kidnapped as an incentive for Tucker to pay back the money he stole. In the rewrite, Tucker retaliated by kidnapping the foster son of the kidnapper.
  • Implausible Deniability: Caboose. Regardless of the evidence, he will insist he never killed anyone.
  • I Never: Occurs with jail-made pruno between the main six inmates.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Caboose tends to refer to sex as 'wrestling' or 'naked hugging,' and murder as 'falling over.' Though the second part seems to be denial rather than innocence a lot of the time.
  • Institutional Apparel: Orange jumpsuits. Donut often complains about the ugly colour and itchiness.
  • In the Back: Pillman takes advantage of Surge's distraction in his first flashback to stab him in the back.
    Surge: In the back?! Coward!
    Pillman: *stabs Surge again in the front*
    Surge: ...Touche.
  • It Gets Easier: In the original version of the fic, Church says the trope by name when Donut asks him if killing was always easy for him. In the rewrite, it's averted, as Church claims that it was always easy, acknowledging that he was probably sick for thinking it.
  • I "Uh" You, Too: In the last flashback chapter, Grif and Simmons' way of saying they love each other is to argue about which one of them is going to be the prison bitch.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Gary. "Wait a—" Bang.
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Simmons and Sister. Simmons mentions that he's a very handsy drunk.
  • Knight Templar Big Brother: Grif. He was locked up because (with the help of Simmons) he killed someone who had hospitalized Sister.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: Occurred during a con that Tucker was apart of, although he was one of the 'ladies.'
  • Laughing Mad: O'Malley.
    • Wash, after he stabbed Epsilon in the backstory.
  • Legacy Character: In Church's backstory, it's mentioned that Delta's father was also known throughout the criminal underground as Delta, and that the current Delta took over the name and identity after his father's death in order to keep his work going.
  • Lethal Chef: A semi-example is Donut's mother Liz. She can cook, technically, but her food tends towards inhumanely spicy.
  • Little Miss Con Artist: Tucker was the gender-flipped version as a child, tricking both adults and other children.
  • Manchild: Theta, who retains his child-like personality even as he ages in the backstory, being between the ages of fifteen and twenty-five during it. He also retains his childishness in his appearance in the present, despite being around fifty years old at the time.
  • Massive Numbered Siblings: Caboose has seventeen sisters.
  • Maternal Death? Blame the Child: Church's mother died when giving birth to his little brother, Eddie/Epsilon. Because of it, their father was emotionally abusive towards Epsilon.
  • Mexican Standoff: In the earlier versions of Tucker's last flashback chapter, with CT and Joannes pointing guns at Tucker, and Tucker pointing a gun at CT. It ends with Tucker shot and Joannes dead. Averted in the ao3 rewrite.
  • Missing Mom: Church's mother died when giving birth to his little brother. Grif's mother ran away to join the circus.
  • Mistaken for Murderer: What Donut's 'self-defence' boils down to. Maine attempted to knock Donut out, and this got out of control and viewed as a murder attempt by Donut. Donut stabbed him several times in return and ended up killing him.
  • The Mole: In Church's backstory, we are lead to believe it's Gary/Gamma. But it turns out to be Theta.
  • Mood Whiplash: Occurs often. The backstories are notable for this, as they'll start with Church's part, which is often depressing and/or bloody, and end with Donut's, which is usually fluffy and cheerful. There's also Part 109/The Volume 2 Riot, where Grif and Simmons are being fairly jokey and there's humorous callbacks to early Rv B episodes seconds before Simmons gets gutted and murdered by the Red Zealot.
  • The Mourning After: After a ten year timeskip, Grif is still not over Simmons' death. This is not attributed purely to the depth of love, however, but to prison being such an unchanging place that it always feels like the same day.
  • Mummies at the Dinner Table: Caboose keeps trying to catch live pigeons for pets and killing them in the process... and he ends up keeping the dead ones and talking to them.
  • Mushroom Samba: Grif, after he takes some LSD in an effort to pass the time. Among his hallucinations are a suddenly gelatinous floor and Simmons, who'd died a decade ago.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: In the backstory, Carolina cuts off a couple of Jimmy's fingers to get him to tell her where Delta was. O'Malley and Gamma also did this to Wash in the past, by pulling out some of his teeth and fingernails.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Wash, once he realises that not only did he fail to notice and stop O'Malley's abuse of Doc, but that he actively helped it along by dragging Doc back to the prison after Doc's attempt at quitting.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Grif will chase anyone who goes after his sister up a tree. Including Simmons, once. He eventually revoked this with Simmons, once he was about to be arrested by the police and wanted someone to take care of Sister.
    • Averted with Caboose, as long as you don't sleep with more than one of his sisters. Like Tucker did.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: O'Malley introduces himself like this once, though he was using someone else's name.
  • Neck Snap: Off-screen, this is how Locus kills Cunningham in the ffnet version. Has not occured in the later rewrite.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: O'Malley delivers one to Donut, hospitalizing him for months... because he was using Doc's mouthwash.
    • Subverted when Miller and his gang administer one of these to Tucker, which leaves his ribs and breathing ability permanently damaged... but Miller is explicitly holding a lot back because he doesn't want to kill Tucker yet.
  • No Medication for Me: O'Malley tries to ditch his medication (although he rarely succeeds) because he simply can't think clearly when on them. Strangely, the medication seems to make him crazier, possibly because Doc isn't a very good doctor. Subverted once Sheila is brought in and alters his medication, after which he seems to function better and doesn't try to dodge it again.
    • Wash, during his flashback, abandons his medication due to not being able to afford it. He suffers from massive stomach pains, nausea and enters a phase of crippling depression that nearly results in him walking into traffic during it.
  • Oblivious to Love: Tucker is completely oblivious to the fact that Church is obviously crushing on him.
  • O.C. Stand-in: Originally, North, Carolina, Sigma and Theta were all OC stand-ins, as at the time of writing North had only appeared in canon as a dead body and the others had only been mentioned. This is averted in the rewrite, which reverts them to their canon personalities.
  • The Old Convict: Wyoming.
  • One Degree of Separation: Reasonable enough in the main fic, since it takes place in one prison, but in the flashback chapters everyone seems to be connected somehow. Church and O'Malley were part of the same smuggling group, and they were responsible for Wash's trip to the mental hospital. Tucker slept with two of Caboose's sisters. Grif and Caboose were involved in the same car accident (which got Grif caught by the police and left Caboose mentally disabled), Simmons was once hired to delete Delta's files, and Donut's roommate was the Meta.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Donut spends a long time scrubbing at his hands after having bad dreams about killing his roommate.
  • Pædo Hunt: Played with during a con in Tucker's backstory. In the con, they used the fact that Tucker looked much younger than he really was to set up a situation that made their target look like a pedophile, so they could blackmail him with the pictures. Averted in the rewrite, where the situation instead played towards Tucker being black and his target a) secretly having a fetish and b) being a white-bread married man who needed to keep a clean reputation.
    • Felix threatens Gabriel Lozano into helping him by threatening to out the fact that Lozano ran 'single-digit whores' out the back of his nightclub to the rest of the prison.
  • Parental Abandonment: Grif and Sister's mother left them to join the circus. She only left a very casual note behind.
  • Parental Neglect: Church's father at his most benevolent. Tucker's mother, although she did love her son. She was just perpetually drunk. Locus' mother was neglectful due to implied mental illness.
  • Personal Effects Reveal: When Grif has to clean out Simmons' cell. No huge surprises, but it really hurts Grif to do it.
  • Post-Rape Taunt: During his second time torturing Wash, O'Malley taunts him about the fifteen years of abuse and rape he put Doc though, claiming that he enjoyed it a lot and that Wash couldn't make him moan like that. A variant, in that Wash and Doc aren't actually a couple. O'Malley only thinks they're too close.
  • Prison Rape: Donut has a strong fear of this, especially early on, but it has yet to happen to him (apart from one attempt.) It does happen to Doc, despite the fact that he's not an inmate.
  • Promotion to Parent: Church to his little brother Eddie/Epsilon, after they killed their father. Also Grif to Sister after their mother joined the circus, although it's less pronounced.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Caboose, though lighter on the psychopathic elements than some. He drops the psychopath part after Donut goes through some effort to teach him otherwise.
    • O'Malley is compared to a whiny child often, and comes off as very infantile in regards to Doc. Locus tells him to his face.
    Locus: What are you, if not a small child throwing a tantrum?
  • Punishment Box: SHU is a lighter version of this, as the isolation generally doesn't do any favours for anyone. Although Grif and Simmons have occasionally bribed guards to throw them into the same cell there for some alone time.
  • Puppy-Dog Eyes: Caboose is very good at them.
  • Pyro Maniac: Andy.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: Established early on, as despite trying to intimidate Donut by mentioning that rape is a strong possibility, Church makes it clear that he personally finds it reprehensible. Despite the fact that most of the characters are bad in some way, the only one who ever engages in rape is O'Malley (although Felix suggests it once).
    Church: You're the closest thing this prison has to a woman, and I'm including Tex and South in that. They'll be tattooing their name on your ass and make you a prison trophy wife.
    Donut: Please don't do that!
    Church: What? No! No, no, no. Fuck, what kind of sicko do you think I am?
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: York and North are considered reasonable to most of the inmates, particularly in comparison to Wash. Subverted later, as York is not above covering up Wash's more questionable acts, and North is also open to starving an occasional inmate as punishment.
  • Recursive Crossdressing: C.T in the F Fnet flashbacks, where she generally dresses as a man but dresses as a woman for a con. This is removed in the rewrite, where she's openly a woman from the start.
  • Rescue Sex: Attempted in Volume 3. Felix offers sex to Donut to pay him back for stopping Sharkface interrogating him a few days earlier. Donut ends up politely refusing (implicitly because of his distaste for 'creeping.')
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: Sarge routinely accuses Flowers of being 'some form of traitor' due to his love of the colour blue and their tendancy to pit inmates against each other in colour-coded sporting games. Given that Flowers is an agent for the Director and likely working at the prison for those reasons, Sarge is correct.
  • Saw It in a Movie Once: Both Donut and Caboose often operate on this.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Church and Epsilon.
    • Caboose. Maybe. Either he shoved his mother down the stairs or she really just slipped.
  • Sense Loss Sadness: Tucker is rather depressed when he loses his eyesight, because he won't be able to see Junior grow up.
  • Serial Killer: O'Malley is an odd mixture of the Hedonistic and Power/Control variety. It's stated that he managed to keep killing for roughly twenty years before being caught.
  • Shipper on Deck: Sister is clearly shipping Grif and Simmons, and seems to believe that if they get married she'll somehow become an auntie.
    • Donut also seems to ship Church and Tucker. Although this is more about wanting more love in the prison in general, and he stops after Church forces a kiss on Tucker.
  • Shout-Out: A couple of them.
    • Caboose mentions Mulan at one point, though not by name. He compares punching O'Malley in the face to doing the same to Shan Yu.
    • Sigma says his van doesn't run well because 'the engine block's held together with a macramé hammock, and it's running on fifteen year old cooking oil.' This reference was removed in the rewrite.
    • A couple of lines during the scene when the Red Zealot disembowels Walter are quotes from Olimar in There Will Be Brawl.
    • When he was a kid, O'Malley had a pink teddy who he named 'Dr. Strawberry.'
    • There are some Community references. Donut using his difficulty with walking to guilt Caboose into not running off in part 106 is a reference to Shirley doing something similar, Vic says, 'Cool. Cool cool cool' in a very Abed-ish way and there is reference to the 'Mexican Halloween' sex position.
    • Caboose mentions having a cousin who 'kept saying his name was not what his name was.' This is a reference to Wade (aka Durnt) from The Strangerhood, a different Rooster Teeth machinima, who shares a voice actor with Caboose.
    • The title of part 153 in the ffnet version, 'Shout Out To Shadles,' is a Shout-Out to Achievement Hunter's "Trouble in Terrorist Town" LP. In said LP, a random player named 'Shadles' ended up in the AH crew's game and annihilated them, including hanging Ray after murdering him. This is also what Locus does to the Sleeveless Insurrectionist, in the same chapter.
    • Samuel closing his eyes and opening them as Locus is a Watchmen reference.
  • Sinister Shiv: Many. O'Malley, notably, has a preference for sharpened screwdrivers that he usually gets off Wyoming. It's not specified what other characters make them out of, though the Red Zealot is particularly adept at making them.
  • Slasher Smile: O'Malley, pretty much all the time. Caboose does this on occasion, though he tries to stop once he does it while in view of a mirror and promptly terrifies himself.
  • Son of a Whore: Tucker.
  • Stepford Smiler: Simmons' entire family.
  • Suicide by Cop: Grif attempts Suicide By Inmate by admitting to Caboose that he was responsible for his car accident and trying to enrage him enough to murder him. It didn't work, primarily because Caboose didn't want to upset Donut.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: Due to the nature of the fic, most of the main characters are this. Especially once the backstory goes into detail about it. Most had sympathetic reasons for killing, the main exception being O'Malley.
  • Tap on the Head: Deconstructed. O'Malley and Felix do this to Wash multiple times during a torture session to mess with his sense of how much time has passed. When he returns to work, he clearly has brain damage from them doing so.
  • Teen Genius: Delta and Theta, when they're first shown in Church's backstory.
  • There Are No Therapists: Eventually averted, when Doc becomes the prison's therapist. While he's still terrible at his job, he does manage to improve Wash's mental state.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Locus delivers one to O'Malley after being asked to help with a revenge scheme concerning Doc.
    Locus: You think you are the hunter, and that Doc is your caged prey. But it is Doc who dictates the terms of this imprisonment. Keeping him requires conforming to his will. If you don't, he leaves.
    O'Malley: He doesn't leave because he knows what I'll do if he dares to try!
    Locus: Yes. You threaten others. The act of a small child breaking old toys because his mother wouldn't buy him a new one. ... The child wants ice-cream after dinner. The mother says no. The child breaks something in response during the ensuing tantrum. Next time, the mother gets ice-cream and the child assumes their basic attempt at manipulation succeeded. But then the mother starts using it as bargaining chip. 'If you clean your room, you get ice-cream. If you don't, you get nothing.' The child could trash his room, but he knows that ice-cream is guaranteed if he behaves. So he does as the mother says. And the mother retains the power. What are you, if not a small child throwing a tantrum?
  • These Hands Have Killed: Donut often thinks that his hands feel 'sticky,' usually after dreaming of the roommate he murdered.
  • Time Skip: Two occur within the main fic. One skip at Part 50 moves the story ahead five years and the second at Part 132 skips ahead a full decade.
  • Token Good Teammate: For the inmates, Donut is this. While a murderer like the rest of them, his was purely in self-defence and he retains his sense of morality despite what the prison throws at him, making him the closest to an innocent the prison has.
  • Tongue Trauma: O'Malley gets a chunk of his tongue bitten off by Donut.
  • The Tooth Hurts: During his three-month torture, Wash gets all the teeth on one side of his mouth pulled out with pliers by O'Malley.
  • Torture Chamber Episode: Chapter 151/Volume 3, Chapter Seven. In which Wash is kept in the electrical room and mercilessly tortured, both physically, mentally and emotionally, by O'Malley and Felix.
  • Villainous Breakdown: O'Malley has one after Doc leaves the prison. It's the catalyst for a lot of screaming, wall-punching and bloody attacks.
  • Wardens Are Evil: Subverted with Sarge, who is less evil and more just harmfully oblivious to the problems in his prison. It eventually gets him fired and his replacement, Niner, is a complete aversion.
  • Wham Episode: Part 109/The Volume 2 Riot. By the end of the riot, Tucker is completely blind and Red Zealot, Miller, Wyoming and Simmons are all dead.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Wash and his fear of darkness. O'Malley exploits this during the riot by trapping him in a dark room just beforehand.
  • Window Love: Occurs sometimes in the visitor's room. Mostly between Sheila and Lopez as well as Tucker and Junior. Tucker calls it a 'window high-five.'
  • World's Smallest Violin: Church does this in honor of Donut's 'most recent shitstorm.'
  • Yandere: O'Malley. He is extremely possessive when it comes to Doc.
  • You Are Worth Hell: A mundane variety. The last flashback chapter shows that Simmons could have avoided prison all together, but admitted to his part in the crime simply so Grif wouldn't be stuck in prison alone.
  • You Remind Me of X: Wash reminds Wyoming of himself when he was younger.
  • You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Surge pulls this on a teenaged Connie in the flashbacks, correctly guessing that she's never murdered before, and gets as far as putting his hand on her gun. However, Pillman had no problems with stabbing him.

Example of: