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Lets Play / Northernlion

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Northernlion (real name Ryan Letourneau) is a Let's Player, hailing from Canada. His channel is host primarily to various Let's Play series (the most prolific being the over one thousand episodes total of The Binding of Isaac and its expansion and remake, as well as group play-throughs of various Paradox Interactive games), the Let's Look At series (a one-time look at a new game providing his thoughts on it) and The Northernlion Live Super Show (see below). His wife, Kate, along with a cast of regular guests, often make appearances in his videos and streams. His videos can be found on his YouTube channel here and his streams can be watched live here or as VODs on his YouTube channel.

He hosted a Machinima series named Poison Mushroom which featured him riffing on various objectively terrible games and ran for two seasons. Originally, his channel was host to a podcast named Saving Progress, featuring himself, JSmithOTI and Michael AL Fox, but this ended after 17 episodes late 2012, though Fox reportedly wants to bring it back at some point.


Since February 2013 (although the show took a few months to evolve to its now-usual format), he has hosted a thrice-weekly three-hour livestream on Twitch with his co-host Nick, a.k.a. RockLeeSmile and initially with Josh (JSmithOTI) (until he became an occasional guest due to real-life business) named The Northernlion Live Super Show, or the NLSS. The show has a build-up of continuity and in-jokes and often features a wide plethora of their friends as guests.

In 2015, a fortnightly podcast crowdfunded via Patreon was started featuring Ryan and Nick along with MathasGames (or Mat Has Games) and BaerTaffy named the Roundtable Podcast. It now airs on Twitch every Friday as Roundtable Live.

Be sure to check out the Quotes and Funny Moments pages.

    Let's Play Series 
Games he has Let's Played (not counting Let's Look At):


Northernlion and his commentary provides examples of:

  • Apologises a Lot: Especially when he says something that could be construed as an insult to the developers of a game he's critiquing, or when he otherwise says or does something that he anticipates will cause controversy in the comment section.
  • Badass Baritone
  • Battle Couple: He and Kate have been playing a lot of co-op Binding of Isaac Rebirth.
  • The Cameo: On his Northernlion Live Super Shows, ThomasWasAlone creator Mike Bithell often cameos (and hands out Thomas Was Alone steam codes).
  • Catchphrase: In The Binding Of Isaac let's play: "Dumb damage!"
    • Other catchphrases include "Oh no, the pills made me retarded!" and "That's another thing I thought I would never say in my life." He even mentions possibly opening up an online store selling shirts with the phrases on them.
    • "That's bad for business!"
    • "Bob's your uncle. Everyone's happy."
    • "Let's put it that way."
    • "Everything seems to be coming up Milhouse."
    • "I botched this."
    • "That's how Dad did it, that's how America does it... and it's worked out pretty well so far."
    • "Who dares wins.", particularly in the Binding of Isaac and Spelunky, immediately before performing a highly risky maneuver or action.
    • His fans have one, too: "'X': The Northernlion Story" where X is a phrase that Northernlion said in the video. For example: "Tie It All Together With Struts": The Northernlion Story. He has even embraced this one, especially in his Spelunky LPnote , adding "The Northernlion Story" to random and sometimes nonsensical statements he makes. Later on, it would become the title of a series of animated shorts based on clips from his LPs and streams by Dracula Fetus.
    • His fans also have "Scumbag Northernlion - [Description of incredibly stupid mistake made during the video]".
    • "Never send a man to do a woman's job."note 
    • He also always says "Stranger things have happened." whenever he mentions something happening with any level of luck to it.
    • And, particularly in his Binding of Isaac Challenge runs, whenever he mentions doing something that does not hold to that episode's challenge rules, it's "against the spirit of the challenge".
    • "Shots fired," used in his live streams whenever something insulting comes up.
    • Not That There's Anything Wrong with That
    • "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
    • "If its and buts were candy and nuts we'd all have a Merry Christmas."
    • "That's the way the cookie crumbles."
    • "The best laid plans of mice and men ..."
    • "Don't do me dirty like this."
    • "Life's a bitch and then you die, that's why we get high, cause you never know when you're gonna go."
    • "I'm not gonna type that." Usually said when Nick or Josh give an outlandish answer in Family Feud.
    • "Right off the bat."
    • "[We] head down to the next floor."
    • "Horse hockey"
    • "X item gets a bad rap"
    • "Nothing to sneeze at."
    • "Due dilligence"
    • "Let's GOOO ..."
    • "Thin-decked daddy!!!"
    • "There was nothin I could DO, dude!"
    • "You love to see it."
  • Continuity Lockout: Those starting with newer episodes of the NLSS, as opposed to watching them roughly in order will have much of the humour lost on them, as a lot of it is built on Running Gags and in-jokes.
  • Discredited Meme: When a running joke becomes overused, it is commonly dropped by the NLSS crew to avoid getting stale. A couple of big examples include the "Donkeh!" meme that started getting less popular around the time the other viral Shrek video become popular, and "Rebirth is cancelled", which started getting on the nerves of other Twitch streamers as the joke spread, leading NL to abandon it.
  • Dreamworks Face: His logo, which usually appears in the thumbnail of each video.
    • Also used as Gag Censor during his Seduce Me Let's Look At.
  • Epic Fail: In episode 18 of his X-COM Let's Play, he tries to wait another day to do the London terror mission to get his heavy, which results in him completely losing the United Kingdom. Shortly afterward, he fails an interceptor mission.
    • During his run on the Ord Mantell level of Shadows of the Empire, he almost referred to his battle with IG-88 as this, since the assassin droid had him on the ropes for a good portion of the fight.
    • During one of his Spelunky daily challenge runs, he collected the damsel, to sacrifice to Kali below for the Kapala. He ends up dropping just enough to do fall damage, landed on the altar, and sacrificed himself. This ended the run (which was going well) prematurely, and daily challenges can only be done once.
    • During his multiplayer play-through of Crusader Kings II with Mathas and Arumba, he and Arumba had been in a war with northern Africa and had just beaten back an enormous 25,000-strong army and got to 100% War Score. Then Northernlion accidentally surrenders instead of enforcing demands and puts his country 500 gold in debt and doesn't capture Tangier as he planned. In the same episode (literally a minute and a half later), he royally screws up his succession line (which can't be changed back) and puts Arumba as his next heir for over half of his land. A few episodes later, his next ruler dies prematurely, putting an 11-year old girl in charge of his land. Needless to say, Arumba and Mathas will not let him forget him single-handedly destroying his empire in 5 minutes.
    • Happens on several of his The Binding of Isaac runs where a game that seemed to be a certain win turned into a catastrophic victory because of a blatant mistake, such as forgetting to pick up a Full Health pill just before entering an Isaac boss fight with low health. He lampshades it every time.
    • In the Rebirth Let's Plays, he finds the Hierophant card in Basement 2 and holds onto it for the entire game in hopes of finding the Blank Card item, which copies the effect of the card in your hand and is usable every 4 rooms. He finally finds the Blank Card in the room immediately before the Blue Baby fight and is overjoyed... until he accidentally uses up his Hierophant first, making Blank Card useless. He sounds utterly defeated afterwards.
      NL: I went... that whole way... to use Blank Card, then Hierophant... and I just used Hierophant first. Fuuuu-uuuudge.
    • In another Rebirth video he starts a run as Eve intending to beat the Chest on Hard Mode. Things go surprisingly well for him as he gets good quality items and isn't in too dire of straits at any given time (including managing to stay in permanent Whore of Babylon state for most of it) and once he gets to the end and starts celebrating his relatively easy victory he suddenly realizes that he'd been playing on Normal the whole time since it was his first game after recording for the NLSS and he had forgotten to reset it to Hard. His response can more or less be summed up as a minor and brief collapse into insanity.
  • Fan Disservice: His let's look at of 'sexy' Xbox Live Indie games. "Dominique is a man, baby, look at that jaw!"
  • Failed a Spot Check: Yes. The comments are quick to point out things that he was looking for but missed. The most frequent case is missing the Key in Spelunky, even if it's directly on screen.
  • Forced Meme:
    • In the NLSS, Ryan spent a while trying to work on a catchphrase for announcing a subscriber, before eventually settling on "up, down, to the side/welcome to the lion pride", a snowclone of Josh's welcome catchphrase ("up, down, all around/welcome to JSmith town"). They also tried to work out one for Nick ("stick around, you won't be sorry/welcome to the rock quarry") in the same streamnote .
    • "Stick 'em up"; though, that one has faded as time goes on.
  • Game Mod: One exists to turn The Binding of Isaac into The Binding of Northernlion.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: His Rebirth run #118 has him go through an Eve hard mode run which turns out in his favor, resulting in a string of overpowered kills all the way through. Happy with the run, he goes to check out Eve's post-it to see the blood covered kill icons... and realizes he'd played on normal mode by mistake. There's a moment of dead silence followed by crazy laughter, ending the video there.
  • Gonk: In his Fallout: New Vegas playthrough, he engineers his character's appearance to be as disfigured and horrifying as possible. It's generally accepted that this exercise was a success.
  • Groin Attack: He is particularly amused when, in a Dark Souls video, he ends up shooting an arrow into an enemy's crotch.
    You've heard of an arrow to the knee, well, how about an arrow to the dick?
  • Happily Married: To Kate.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Roll Fizzlebeef ends up being his sacrifice in his X-COM series.
  • Insane Troll Logic: His let's play of Fallout: New Vegas has a lot of stream of consciousness where this occurs.
    (aims at Chem Adict's head point blank, with a shotgun, and misses) Northernlion: "You are the True God. You may live. I'm still claiming your bed for like 20 hours though."
  • Interface Spoiler: He acknowledged the potential for YouTube's UI to be this in the fourth episode of The Binding of Isaac: Each video only lasts until he dies, so viewers would be able to see if he would survive a boss fight or not based on whether or not the video was nearly over. YouTube has since redesigned their player so that the UI only appears if you mouse over the video.
    • And now, almost a full decade later, a rather similar phenomenon has emerged in his Spelunky 2 series, thanks to Youtube's "End Card" featurenote  always appearing moments before the end of the video, usually while NL's in the middle of making plans for the rest of his run and giving away the fact that he's about to die an unexpected death.
  • Long Runner: His let's play of The Binding of Isaac lasted for 980 videos! He continually changes the aims of the videos throughout the series to keep it interesting - after achieving Golden God, the 100% achievement in the original game, he started playing runs with specific conditions to playing, then moved on to the Wrath of the Lamb DLC when that was released, eventually 100%ing that too, then moving onto Custom Challenge Runs with Cheat Engine and later SpiderMod, and then eventually the Community Remix mod before the series came to an end... only to restart with the game's Updated Re-release, The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth the next day. The Rebirth series follows the long-running tradition, with over 750 episodes not even a year after the game's release.
    • And that's not even counting the ~150 co-op Isaac runs he's done with Kate, his growing series of races against Mathas, the two weeks he spent on the Binding of Isaac: Community Remix, or his Vintage Isaac episodes. All together, Ryan's put out nearly 2000 Isaac videos.
    • Still going with Antibirth mod,Afterbirth and Afterbirth+ expansions.
  • I Hate Past Me: A running gag in his Vintage Isaac commentary. He directly uses the trope name in episode 6.
    Past Ryan: What I need right now is some goddamned hearts.
    Present Ryan: Heaven forbid you'd open the tinted rock right there.
  • Intoxication Ensues: For three videos of The Binding of Isaac let's playnote , he was slightly inebriated. Needless to say, this led to some hilarious shenanigans.
  • Malaproper: He will often latch onto a word and constantly use it incorrectly, probably accidentally to start with, then on purpose. 'Acquiesce' is one of these, as in 'We need to acquiesce some hearts'.
  • Mirror Match: He has played a The Binding of Isaac mirror match with Bisnap with the same generating seed. Northernlion goes to the dark side, getting Brimstone, Polyphemus and Mom's Knife while Bisnap goest light side and gets Sacred Tears and Quad Shot. When Rebirth came out, Edmund sent the two a seed and they did it again, though while it didn't end up as hilariously overpowered as the first one, they were able to share their thoughts on the game.
  • Motor Mouth: He's one of the most verbose LPer's out there. His talking speed is quite normal, but the density of his commentary stream is notable.
  • MST: Invoked during the Grey's Anatomy let's play. Also his Machinima series Poison Mushroom.
  • Nice Guy: He's an all round amiable guy, who generally takes care to be respectful to his viewers and the developers of the games he plays.
  • The Nicknamer: He nicknames several enemies and characters in The Binding of Isaac. (Crying gray puffy thing? "Human Popcorn". Large flies with gray bodies? "Grandfather Flies", because their gray bodies resemble beards. Beggar sitting on the floor? "Judgement", after the tarot card of the same name, which summons a Beggar.)
    • A fan even put up a video of the game's credits, which shows all of the enemies and their names, edited to instead show the names Northernlion has given them.
  • Nintendo Hard: He's a big fan of these kind of games, and he's actually quite competent at them (despite what some of the commenters might say). He's hardcore enough to unlock The Kid in Super Meat Boy and all the No Damage Runs achievements in The Binding of Isaac.
  • Noodle Incident: A running part of his humor.
  • Official Couple: Him and Kate (who also does videos as Lovely Momo / Pro Box Studio).
  • Reference Overdosed: To other games, movies, series, cartoons and miscellaneus pop-culture subjects. It's almost impossible for a single person to get them all, because some make allusion to kinda obscure stuff. Case in point:
  • Running Gag:
  • Screamer Prank: In his Let's Look At of Proteus, using his logo as the "scary" face.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Man of his commentaries, especially later in on in ''The Binding of Isaac", focus less on the game he's playing and more on random anecdotes, discussions he wants to have, or musings on life. If anything, his off-topic commentary is a major reason his fans listen in on them.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: He did numerous challenge runs of The Binding of Isaac.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Compared to other Let's Players, Northernlion's vocabulary is much larger. Always lampshaded.
  • Smurfing: The first time he and his PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds crew latch on to the word "acquiesce", clearly with no idea what it means, it gets abused to this degree over the course of the episode. It continues to crop up as a Running Gag, but usage tapers off significantly.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: He's not above peppering his speech with some context sensitive profanity or disturbing (and odd) commentaries.
  • "Stop Having Fun" Guys: Played for Laughs while playing Mega Man 11. He initially refuses to use the game's featured mechanic, denouncing it as a cheap trick.
  • Take That Me / Self-Deprecation: The premise behind his (super funny) "Vintage Isaac" series; in which he revisits his old The Binding of Isaac videos to snark, cringe and reflect about his past (failure-ridden) adventures.
  • Taught by Experience: His approach to gaming; he prefers to figure out things on the go and to learn from mistakes instead of consulting a walkthrough/FAQ, because it makes for a more fulfilling experience to him.
  • Tempting Fate: Whenever he mentions he has not been taking damage during gameplay, guess what happens a second later.
  • Title Drop: Plenty of times during The Binding of Isaac LP.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Has mentioned the trope by name and also thinks the D6 in The Binding of Isaac to be this.
  • Waxing Lyrical: Constantly. Also has a habit of parodying song lyrics on the spot.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:

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