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Music / The Protomen

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Left to Right: Sir Dr. Robert Bakker, Shock Magnum, Murphy Weller, K.I.L.R.O.Y., Commander B. Hawkins, Raul Panther III, Reanimator Lovejoy, and The Gambler.

We've given everything we can.
There are no heroes left in man!
Protoman, The Stand (Man or Machine)

We will be heroes!
(We will BUILD heroes!)
Dr. Light (Dr. Wily) The Good Doctor

The Protomen are a very large indie progressive rock band from Nashville, TN, whose musical catalogue is based around a Rock Opera trilogy inspired by Mega Man. Very loosely based off of the mythology of the classic Mega Man games, the first three in particular, it shows an Orwellian Dystopia that's a Deconstruction of Holding Out for a Hero, and a general examination of the psychology behind fascism.

The first album, a self-titled release also known as Act I or Hope Rides Alone, was self-published in 2005, and tells the story of how Protoman and Megaman were created to fight against Dr. Wily's regime and the very different paths their lives took. It was followed in September 2009 by Act II: The Father of Death, a prequel which tells the story of how Dr. Light and Wily created artificial intelligence, and how it all went so very wrong. The third album, Act III, has been in development since 2009, and takes place sometime after Act I. No official release date has been given for the album, but five songs from it have been previewed live ("Hold Back The Night," "This City Made Us," "Calling Out," "No Way Back," and "The Fight") and three of those have been released as singles.

In 2012 they released their first live disc, a Queen tribute, and an in-universe album of 70s and 80s covers called The Cover Up was released in early 2015. Both Acts also received a remastered rerelease on vinyl. Makeup and Vanity Set's 8-bit remix of Act I is getting a release on vinyl. The Protomen also held an April 2012 music video shoot for Act II track "Light Up the Night", and released a vinyl of "Hold Back The Night" and "This City Made Us" from Act III in August 2015, as well as a single release of "The Fight" in 2022.

The Protomen have appeared in a Zombie Apocalypse webcomic, Dead of Summer. Several members have other bands, including Cheer Up, Charlie Daniels (Turbo Lover, occasionally Panther, the Gambler, and Sir Bakker in live shows), Adam and the Couch Potatoes (Turbo Lover, with the Gambler appearing in a music video), and The Ascent Of Everest (Sir Bakker). Makeup and Vanity Set is affiliated with them, having done an 8-bit chiptunes mix of Act I, with plans to make one of Act II. They are also affiliated with Brentalfloss, The Megas, Tupper Ware Remix Party, and Tenacious D, and have gotten "Light up the Night" into Rock Band 4. They have also produced music for Video Game High School, and their cover of "In the Air Tonight" was used for season 3 of Cobra Kai.

Additionally, the Protomen composed the score for Terminator the Second, a theatrical piece of found art that reconstructs the plot of Terminator 2: Judgment Day using dialogue from the works of William Shakespeare. They appeared in it as the SWAT Team that takes down Dyson.

An official documentary is in production. An official music video for "Light Up the Night" was also released and can be viewed for free, bought, and downloaded on their website.

Tropes relating to the Acts should be placed on the recap page.

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    Current personnel 
  • Commander B. Hawkins: Keyboards, bass drum, electronic drums, vocals, sound effects, surprising falsetto, press release emails, Freddie Meowcury, lead vocals (Built to Last)
  • Gambler KirkDouglas: Featured vocals (Emily, Act III female lead), keyboards, miscellaneous percussion, backing vocals, tambourine, vocoder/human choir
  • Kingsley Ivan Lamarck Rodrigo Othello Youngblood (K.I.L.R.O.Y.): Master of Ceremonies, armorer, sledgehammer percussion, vocals (Protoman - Sons of Fate live), tiny guitar, extremely exuberant maracas.
  • Murphy Weller: Bass, bass drum, synth bass, maracas, tambourine, backing vocals, public relations
  • Raul Panther III: Lead vocals (Mega Man, Protoman, Dr. Light, Dr. Wily, Joe), keyboards, keytar, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, press release emails
  • Reanimator Lovejoy: Drums, not getting down from there
  • Sir Robert T. Bakker: Lead guitar, violin
  • Shock Magnum: Guitar, featured vocals (Dr. Wily)

    Former members 
  • Annabel: Featured vocals
  • Cobra T. Washington: Guitar
  • Crusher: Backing vocals
  • Demon Barber: Drums
  • Doug Fetterman: Acoustic guitar, tambourine, vocals
  • The Dragon: Drums
  • Ellen Aim: Featured vocals (Emily), backing vocals
  • The Gunslinger: Guitar
  • Heath Who Hath No Name: Guitar, backing vocals
  • The Keeper: Keyboards, backing vocals
  • The Keymaster: Drums
  • Lazer: Backing vocals
  • Master Blaster: Trumpet (Nashville-area live performances)
  • The Merchant: Featured vocals (Emily), backing vocals
  • Neon Leon: Guitar, backing vocals
  • Nightwalker T. Ranger: Trumpet, cymbals, backing vocals
  • Panda: Guest vocals
  • The Repeater: Backing vocals
  • The Replicant: Trumpet, backing vocals
  • The Ringer: Keyboards
  • Ringo Segundo: Guitar, backing vocals, vocals (Under Pressure)
  • Robobot: Third guitar
  • Scartoe Gleason: Guitar, backing vocals
  • Sector 7G: Backing vocals
  • Steve: Lead vocals (Mega Man)
  • Turbo Lover: Featured vocals (Dr. Wily), bass drum, electric guitar, bass guitar

  • The Protomen, a.k.a. Act I, Hope Rides Alone (2005)
  • Father of Death Vinyl EP (2008)
  • Act II: The Father of Death (2009)
  • The Protomen Present: A Night of Queen (2012)
  • The Cover Up EP (2014, Warped Tour exclusive)
  • The Cover Up (2015, Cover CD/Vinyl/Cassette Tape)
  • This City Made Us (2015, Act III Vinyl EP)
  • Live In Nashville (2020, 2-disc CD of the 2011 Act 1 anniversary show)
  • Act III (TBA)

Tropes Used In General:

  • Adaptational Villainy: Dr. Wily was always a bad guy, but the game canon has him as Laughably Evil in the Classic series. This incarnation is a fascistic dictator who got where he is by having the Sniper murder his best friend's lover in cold blood, then framed said friend for it.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Dr. Light is given a much fuller backstory than he ever had in the games, including the creation of Emily Stanton, an original character.
  • Aerith and Bob: The band members' names run from fantastical, like Scartoe and Panther, to ordinary names like Doug and Heath.
  • All There in the Manual: Aside from the first track of Act I, there is no narration; much of the stage direction and plot details can only be found in the albums' liner notes.
  • All There in the Script: Megaman is never referred to by name in the lyrics of Act I. In Act II, Dr. Light is only referred to in the lyrics as "Tom" and "Thomas", and Joe is only named after he dies. Much of the story itself is told in the liner notes.
  • Alter-Ego Acting:
    • The members of the Protomen present themselves as being actual dissidents living in the society described in their music, with noms de guerre such as "Panther" or "Heath Who Hath No Name", and represent themselves as living together in a bunker called "The Thundercon".
    • The fandom does this as well, calling themselves "The Resistance". Individual clubs or groups of fans might take squad names. Of particular note are the Chamethrawer Squadron, the LIGHT Brigade, and "Protofans" as a catch-all term.
  • Anonymous Band: Those code names up there are all you'd get from the band in terms of personal information.
  • Another Side, Another Story: The Cover Up tells the story of Dr. Light in between The Hounds and The State Vs. Thomas Light. He's on the run from Wily and receives help from a reporter who is one of Wily's moles.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Seen across both Acts, particularly in Act I, and deconstructed as they're part of the reason Wily came to power and stays in power despite Megaman and Protoman's heroics.
  • Arc Words: Several phrases appear in songs other than their own as foreshadowing and call-backs.
    • "Hope rides alone", "We are the dead", and "Even now there is hope for man" recur across Act I.
    • "Ready, willing, prepared to fight." Protoman is in "Hope rides alone," Megaman proclaims he is in "Vengeance" and challenges Wily's commander asking if he is as well. Ironically, Megaman is just asking Protoman, though he doesn't know it. Yet.
    • "Don't turn your back on the City" are the arc words for Act II; to the point that when Wily's finally in unquestioned control, Emily's letter to Dr. Light causes the suicidal doctor to tell Joe that "When you see Emily, tell her to wait for me, 'cause I still have work to do."
    • "Light" and "fire" are predominant arc words of Act II, appearing in nearly every song with lyrics. Also, referring to the city as a machine itself.
    • "Step (out) into the light" pops up in both Act I and Act II: Megaman challenges Protoman to do so in "Vengeance", while Joe demands it of the Sniper in "Keep Quiet".
  • Art Shift: The Act I booklet's art, the music video's art, and Act II booklet's art are very different in terms of depth and style.
  • Ascended Extra: In the games, Sniper Joe was an annoying enemy Mega Man encounters by the dozen. In the albums, the prototype robot is a significant player in the story, and the name is given to an original character who becomes one of Act II's protagonists.
  • Ascended Meme: Panther agreed to do an all Wood Man Due Vendetta at the 8/23 2012 West Hollywood show. He ended up doing a mostly Wood Man show and saved the all Wood Man show for another time.
  • The Atoner: Dr. Light throughout both Acts.
  • Awesome Anachronistic Apparel: Panther wears Western-style clothing, has Cool Shades, and an NES Zapper Gun in his holster.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: This has happened with both Acts so far, with the heroes either dead or demoralized and Wily retaining his power.
  • Badass Boast:
    • This awesome quote from an early news mailer.
    They loaded the battle wagon at dusk.
    They were ten and five in number.
    Behind them were the charred ruins of a burning city.
    Before them lay nothing but endless battles.
    Their destination?
    • From the Act I song Vengeance:
    Megaman: All you wounded! Those of you who can, pick yourselves off the ground, hurry back, tell you leader, you'll need more men!
  • Book Ends: Act II's action begins and ends with Dr. Light's thoughts on the kind of man his father would have wanted him to be.
    • Act I begins and ends with a failed assault on Wily's fortress and Protoman dying.
  • Bring It: Megaman speaks to the robot army this way in Vengeance and Joe does likewise to the Sniper in Keep Quiet.
  • Bystander Syndrome: Act I is a deconstruction of Holding Out for a Hero, with this as an accompanying theme. Protoman is built to liberate an oppressed city from Dr. Wily and his robot army, but after a protracted battle through the streets, he's killed by Wily's robots while a crowd of citizens look on, none of them willing to risk themselves to save "their hero."
  • Call-Forward:
    • "We will BUILD heroes!" is said by Wily, in what seems like irony until you realize that he's right - even Light chooses to "create a man to save the world" rather than risking his own hide. This idea that people will always search for others to build up as heroes rather than rising to the challenge themselves is the backbone of the first album's plot.
    • "Unrest in the House of Light" is a musical Call-Forward. It's the only Act I song from Dr. Light's perspective and has a very different style from the rest of the album. It's closer to the style of music heard in the first half of Act II, which focuses almost entirely on Light.
    • A section of "The Will Of One" has Light's voice in the background sing "No matter how dark this city gets / Even now, there is hope for man", a combination of some of the Arc Words of Act I and one of Emily's lines in Act II ("No matter how dark this city gets / There will be Light")
  • Chainsaw Good: One of the main "squads" among the fandom is the Chamethrawer squadron, who are said to wield the most intimidating weapon of all time: chainsaws with underslung flamethrowers.
  • The Chessmaster: Dr. Wily, who always stays one step ahead of the Hot-Blooded heroes via careful planning and playing dirty.
  • City Noir: The City has a vibe of being Always Night, and is in perpetual decay in Act I.
  • City with No Name: The setting is only ever called "the city", and the world outside it is never referred to.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The band's email "press releases" are rambling affairs which often take several paragraphs before actually mentioning anything having to do with the band.
    • Their announcement of the release date for Act II opened with a paean to Shark Week on the Discovery Channel (including a picture of a shark with Tom Selleck's face), and included a 48-second "preview" of the album which was every track played at once to the point of being unintelligible.
    • An explanation for delays in shipping had Panther stating that the AWESOME POWER of Act II had caused the CD maker to overload and explode, followed by the sheepish admission that the label glue press had broken down.
    • A 2010 mailing list email said that their bus, Jesse Christine, was destroyed by a vengeance-crazed rodent. The picture they provided was of Splinter with his head replaced with Mickey Mouse's.
    • At one concert, the band proclaimed that at a fierce battle in Panther's home city, the enraged public chased them away with fireballs and stole Panther's growl, leading Turbo Lover to have to sing all of Panther's lines.
    • On their Twitter account, the band responded to a question about Doug Fetterman by saying a shark ate him over a week, and that's how Shark Week began.
    • The group's 2010 west coast tour was officially called "Super Awesome Tour Part III: Fievel Goes West". During one show on this tour, in which the bands' instruments overloaded the venue's electrical hookup and caused a brief blackout, Panther claimed that such a thing had only happened once before - and it resulted in the fans burning the venue to the ground.
  • Code Name: Every band member has a code name in place of their real name.
  • Concept Album: The Cover Up album is the soundtrack to a movie made during the time skip in "How the World Fell Under Darkness." It fills in some of the blanks about the time between Light’s exile and "Breaking Out." The vinyl contains extra artwork and liner notes, which explain how things are connected.
  • Cover Album: The Cover Up is mainly this, albeit with backstory relating to Joe's father.
  • The Cover Changes the Gender: The Protomen cover "Because the Night" as a duet, with Panther singing Bruce Springsteen's original lyrics on the verse, and Gambler singing Patti Smith's rewritten lyrics on the chorus.
    • Their cover of Queen's "Scandal" is sung by The Gambler.
  • Crapsack World: Played straight in Acts I and III. Act II shows how it got to be that way.
  • Crazy-Prepared: In Act II, Wily built another control tower, an entire fortress, and a robot army in case his Sniper and main telescreen were attacked.
  • Crossover: In May 2011, the Protomen were set to appear on a double bill in Nashville with none other than Tiffany of '80s pop star fame. However, due to a family tragedy the band couldn't make it.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Delivered to Protoman in the latter half of "Hope Rides Alone". Megaman gives one back to the robot army in "Vengeance".
  • Cyberpunk: This is the cyberpunk band. It's heavily Steampunk in Act II, fitting with the latter's prequel setting, although a cyberpunk (or at least late-1980s) influence remains in the music.
  • Dark Fic: Of Mega Man (Classic). In Rock Opera form no less.
  • Dark Reprise: Not exactly, but lyrics from The Will Of One are repeated in a much darker context in The Sons Of Fate; at first they are Mega Man talking about fighting against Wily the same way his brother Protoman did, but the second time they indicate Mega Man's disgust with humanity after killing Protoman, taking up his brother's nihilistic point of view himself.
    As I live, there is no evil that will stand. And I will finish what was started: the fight of Protoman.
    • The guitar part at the end of "The Stand" is the same as the riff at the beginning of Hope Rides Alone, but in a different key and with an accompaniment that makes it sound very ominous instead of heroically badass.
  • Darker and Edgier: Than the Mega Man games.
  • Darkest Hour:
    • November of 2007 was a dark time for the Protomen. First they were attacked by Killer Robots, forced to barricade inside their bus to survive. Then they were attacked by the Libyan Death Squad; only the fury of the warriors of Greenville saved them. Finally, after crashing their plane in a Shout-Out to Top Gun, the band lost their beards. Also, Doug Fetterman fell around this time.
    • About a year later, Demon Barber and the Thundercon fell, with the base burning down.
    • Their 2010 tour headed this way, with the bus breaking down, and them forced to tour in a UHaul, followed by them having to cancel a show for the first time ever. However, there was hope: They returned in August.
    • In-universe, the end of Act II.
  • Death by Origin Story: According to "The Good Doctor," the reason Dr. Light got into robotics in the first place was because his father worked himself to death in a mine.
  • Deconstruction: Every single aspect deconstructs the plot, setting, and characters of the Mega Man series.
  • Determinator: Dr. Light refuses to give up in Act II, and spends 12 years building Protoman in Act I.
    • The band itself qualifies, given that they have only canceled a show twice, and even then after mounting every conceivable effort, including an email plea to their fans for replacement auto parts, to make it. Recent canceled shows weren't their fault, but the fact that no venues in the cities would book them. Even then, they quickly made arrangements for shows elsewhere.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul":
    • According to one interview, even Commander B. Hawkins's mother calls him "Commander" these days.
    • At the Act II release show, his parents were only referred to as "Commander's Mom" and "Commander's Dad", with those names on the backs of their shirts.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Subverted twice in both acts.
    • In Act II, Joe dies a hero taking out Dr. Wily's broadcast, which would theoretically inspire people, but it turns out Wily had a backup plus an army of robots and uses the attack to declare martial law, cowing the citizens into obedience.
    • In Act I, after Megaman kills Protoman, the latter whispers to his brother that if the citizens pass on his story, maybe someday they'll see a hero is just a man who knows he's free. The crowd immediately cheers Megaman for killing his brother and disavows Protoman entirely, leading him to leave the City in disgust as Wily's remaining forces turn on the crowd for thinking of rebelling at all.
  • The Dragon: The Sniper was Dr. Wily's right-hand man before Light and Joe took it out. In Act I, Protoman takes this role.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Wily's broadcast tower is the heart of his fortress and described as the last thing standing between man and freedom.
  • Fan of the Past: All of the Protomen are this to some extent, as is affiliate Makeup and Vanity Set—they prefer physical media wherever possible, and many of their code names and news posts reference 80s-era movies and music.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since Act II is a prequel, the audience knows that Light and Joe will fail and the City will turn into the dystopia of Act I, and that the work Light sets out to do at the end, Protoman, will also fail.
  • Foreshadowing: The introduction to "Hope Rides Alone" ends by describing Protoman as "ready, willing, prepared to fight." In "Vengeance," Megaman uses the same phrase to describe both himself and the unseen commander of the robot forces, revealed at the end of the song to be Protoman.
  • Gatling Good: Megaman and Protoman have gatling guns for arms in Act I's artwork, instead of plasma cannons like in the games. In concert, Protoman has a Gatling gun arm, while Mega Man's gun is replaced by the NES Zapper Panther wears on his hip.
  • Genre Shift: After the Time Skip in Act II, as the city is changed into a cyberpunk dystopia, the music changes from a more acoustic sound with the occasional electric guitar to full-on 80's synth-rock. There's even a transitional track called "How The World Fell Into Darkness" that starts out in the old style but slowly morphs into the new style.
  • Greek Chorus: The crowd, in quite a few songs.
    • Emily is this posthumously.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: It's implied that Wily was extremely jealous of Light when they were friends. When Emily picks Light over him, Wily has the Sniper kill her.
  • Happiness in Slavery: By about halfway through Act II, mankind is more than content to be ruled by Dr. Wily because of the convenience he's brought into their lives. By the time of Act I this is codified in the state's slogan, "We have control, we keep you safe, we are your hope."
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Joe. And Protoman. Sort of.
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: Features in the Act II songs "How the World Fell Under Darkness", "Breaking Out", "Keep Quiet", and "The Fall". In the last of these, it flatlines to signify Joe's death.
  • Hilarity Ensues: In this video, the crowd gets a little... too into the Sons of Fate. Two words: Nerf gun.
  • Hobbes Was Right: Wily's position on humanity, as illustrated in "The Good Doctor".
  • Holiday Mode: Sometimes the band does special things for holidays, particularly Halloween and Christmas.
  • Hot-Blooded: One every Act so far. Also, the band members themselves.
  • "I Want" Song: The Will of One from Act I; Breaking Out from Act II. Both double as I Am Becoming Songs, as Mega and Joe want things to change and work towards achieving their goals.
  • In Name Only: By the Protomen's own admission, the opera has little connection to the admittedly thin plot of the early Mega Man games that inspired it.
  • Ironic Echo: In "The Good Doctor", Dr. Wily remarks, "If you replace the working parts, you get a different machine" and "The man who turns the wheel, they will follow anywhere he leads". Later, in "Light Up The Night," Dr. Light (who is now working to bring down Wily's regime) recalls Wily's statement and ponders, "Now the wheels are spinning out of control, what would they do if we held them still?" then remarks that "If you destroy the working parts, what you get is a broken machine."
    • Again in "The Good Doctor", this time paired with "The Hounds":
    Dr. Light: I never said that men should bow. I never said that men should break.
    Dr. Wily: 'Cause you and I, Tom, we are men. And we can bend and we can break.
  • It Is Beyond Saving: What Megaman thinks of the City by the end of Act I.
  • It's All My Fault: Cause I made the man who put his hands on you! Yeah, Dr. Light suffers from a bad case of being The Atoner throughout most of Act II.
    • He also blames himself for sending Joe and Protoman to their deaths.
  • Job-Stealing Robot: In Act II, Wily's machines replace the human workforce entirely. Light voices concerns about this in the Intermission, but is convinced to turn them on anyway.
  • Killer Robot: The Sniper in Act II, the Robot Army and Robot Masters in Act I.
  • Last Of Her Kind: The band's primary tour vehicle is Jesse Christine, The Last of the V8 Interceptors.
    • Sadly, Jesse Christine has more or less passed away. She was engulfed by a Graboid from Tremors, losing her back end and the brakes. According to the news posts, the group salvaged the remnants of the vehicle to craft its successor, The Skyhammer, The Last of the Super V8 Interceptors.
  • Last Stand:
    • "Hope Rides Alone" in Act I is this for Protoman, as he fights Wily's forces until they overwhelm him.
    • "The Fall" in Act II ends up being this for Joe.
  • Leitmotif: The theme in "Funeral for a Son", symbolizing Protoman's death, is repeated throughout the first album: it is whistled at the beginning and end of "Unrest," the synthesizer subtly plays it underneath the guitar solo in "Will of One" (while Mega Man looks at Protoman's grave, symbolizing his motivation to avenge his brother's death), and the choir sings it at the end of "Sons of Fate" (alternating between the Leitmotif and "We are The Dead") after Mega Man kills Protoman.
    • That same motif is also repeated in Act II, when Light and Wily activate their machines ("The Good Doctor").
    • Also, the chord progression at the beginning of "Hope Rides Alone" is repeated in the middle of "The Stand" as Protoman prepares to fight with Mega Man.
      • The Stand also features a slightly modified version of the snare drum pattern from "Funeral for a Son."
    • The guitar theme established in "Intermission" is repeated in "Give Us The Rope."
    • The orchestra's theme in "How the World Fell Under Darkness" is given words in "Here Comes The Arm."
    • "This City!" from "Here Comes The Arm" is the same tune as "Destroy him!" from "The Sons of Fate."
      • The guitar riff behind it is very reminiscent of the end of Joe's song "Keep Quiet."
    • The piano theme as Emily narrates the letter in "Here Comes the Arm" was first heard on guitar at the very beginning of "Hope Rides Alone." Same tune, different instrument.
    • Each of the major characters of Act II has their own musical style. Dr. Light croons over orchestral music reminiscent of an Ennio Morricone score, Emily has soft instruments like a music box and piano, Joe's songs remind one of Bruce Springsteen, and Dr. Wily's Villain Song is heavily influenced by swing music.
    • In some of the live playings of the so far only previewed song from Act III, they add an intro to the song that sounds the same as the end part of The Sons of Fate, immediately after the human chorus has died down, except that instead of slowly fading down and disappearing in the wind, it gets more intense and optimistic until finally leading into the new song. This in itself makes sense, since Act III is supposed to take place sometime after Act I and this song is the only song known from the album at that point.
  • Light Is Good: The fact of Thomas's last name might tip people off that this trope comes into play. Meanwhile, Dark Is Evil, symbolizing Wily's control. Hence, the Act II song wherein Thomas and Joe plot the destruction of Wily's regime is called "Light up the Night".
  • Lyrical Dissonance: "The Hounds" is extremely catchy and upbeat sounding... even though it's Wily's Villain Song in which he gloats about framing Dr. Light for murder.
  • Meaningful Name: Dr. Light, by way of Dr. Wily and his influence being referred to as "darkness" or "the shadow."
  • The Mole: In the Cover Up, the reporter who initially aids Light is working for Wily.
  • Minimalism:
    • The only real characters are Megaman, Protoman, Light, Wily, Joe, Emily, and the Sniper. Details about the City and setting are rarely spoken of through the songs or band interviews aside from the fact that Wily controls everything and how he came to control everything.
    • The robot masters do appear in the songs as well, but they aren't treated as major characters in the canon. Aside from their mentions and appearance in the music video for Hope Rides Alone, they have yet to appear in other songs.
  • Mood Whiplash: The Protomen's out of universe jokes and antics on tour provide a sharp contrast to the dead-serious albums.
  • Motifs: Fire and light are frequently referred to throughout the latter half of Act 2.
    • After the Time Skip and Joe's introduction, most of the tracks in Act II start including a steady, heartbeat-style beat in the background which eventually culminates in a flatline sound after his death.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Dr. Light deeply regrets when he does wrong, or when his creations have something bad happen to them.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Regardless of whether Bass appears in the rock opera, Turbo Lover—Dr. Wily—plays bass guitar and drum.
    • Protoman being based off the Sniper's designs is opposite to the games, where Sniper Joes were mass-produced copies of Protoman.
  • New Era Speech: While we don't hear the contents, in Act II Dr. Wily gives such speeches in "The Hounds" as he takes control of the City and in "Give Us The Rope" as he tells the populace that their justice system has failed them.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At a 2008 Greenville show, the fans built their own Mega Buster, which Panther used to kill Protoman. After the killing blow, he said this.
    Panther: ...You built the weapon that destroyed your hope. Way to go, Greenville.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Sniper is an in-universe example; one robot placated an entire city through fear.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: What the Robot Masters do to Protoman early in Act I.
  • Non-Action Big Bad: Dr. Wily never fights the heroes directly. It's lampshaded in Act I:
    Wily has no power on a field of battle.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Wily's enforcer in Act II might be called "the Sniper", but it sure doesn't do a lot of long-range killing. In all its appearances, it favors a knife instead.
  • Off the Rails: In-Universe Joe's whole motivation is to break off the rails set by Wily. Out of universe, a performance of "Sons Of Fate" took a turn for the hilarious near the end when Proto Man accidentally took a keytar to the nuts.
  • Original Character: Emily Stanton and Joe.
  • Pietà Plagiarism: Light cradles Emily's body on the Act II cover and some posters.
  • Place Worse Than Death: The City is regarded as this even in Act II; by the time of Act I, it gets worse.
  • The Power of Rock: The Protomen's music has been noted to rout armies of killer robots and save doomed cities. If they can't quite handle the job, their fans have been known to help.
  • Prequel: Act II is the backstory of Doctors Light and Wily and how it all went so very wrong.
  • Punny Name: Act II's "Father of Death" plays on Dr. Light's surname, referring to Wily's influence as darkness and Light's as light.
  • Railroad to Horizon: Joe tries to follow the railway out of the City.
  • Real Soon Now: The band has put out two story albums, two vinyl records, two singles, and one cover album in ten years. According to Turbo Lover, Act III should be out "sometime before you die".
  • Retraux: More pronounced on Act 1, but several songs have 8-bit chiptunes in them.
    • The latter half of Act 2 is heavy on 80s-style synths.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots:
    • Megaman is capable of crying, and the liner notes tell of his heart hurting under the weight of what he'd been told.
    • The band member KILROY acts so human you'd swear he was wearing a mask.
  • Rock Opera: Both of which end in the most depressing way possible. In the end of Act I, Humanity is still enslaved, two heroes have been broken and one suffered two 'deaths': Figurative and literal. In the end of Act II, the world is just becoming enslaved, one hero has died pointlessly, and the other sets out on a task which the audience already knows is doomed to fail.
    • Despite this, Act II ends on a high note compared to Act I. The final act of the album details Joe's rebellion and attack on Wily's control tower. And following his death, Thomas Light reads the dead Emily's letter and realizes "This city needs [him] now," he then begins building Protoman. Also, Act II ends on a high note if you consider that Protoman's belief that all men are cowards who would rather die to fight back was proven wrong, not so long ago. There was still at least one man that had the courage to fight back.
  • Rooftop Concert: The band once held a rooftop concert, much to the dismay of then-drummer Demon Barber, who was terrified of heights.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To Nineteen Eighty-Four by way of the line "We are the dead", spoken therein by Winston Smith, and by extension to the poem In Flanders Fields from which Orwell got the line. Act II directly calls the surveillance screens "telescreens", also from the book.
    • The group's handwritten name logo on the Act I cover, and related merchandise, is directly based on a similar logo used by Daft Punk.
    • The Act II cover art is based on the poster for Streets of Fire, and the woman who sang on the 7" vinyl single of Father of Death was credited as "Ellen Aim."
      • And "Light up the Night" is incredibly similar to Diane Lane/Ellen Aim/Fire Inc's ballad from that film, "Nowhere Fast."
    • Several of the band members' stage names are shout outs as well.
      • K.I.L.R.O.Y. is a reference to the album "Kilroy Was Here" by Styx.
      • "Reanimator Lovejoy" is a nod to the movie Re-Animator and to The Simpsons.
      • Turbo Lover derives his name from a song by Judas Priest.
      • The Gambler takes her name from the song of the same name by Kenny Rogers.
      • Sir Robert Bakker is named for the paleontologist of the same name, who revolutionized the study of dinosaurs in the later 20th century and served as scientific advisor during the filming of Jurassic Park.
      • Murphy Weller's name combines the main character of RoboCop (Alex Murphy) with the actor who played him (Peter Weller).
    • The Sniper's knife in the Act II booklet is taken from Sylvester Stallone action movie Cobra.
    • And of course there are Shout Outs by way of their tour names. "Super Awesome Tour Part III: Fievel Goes West", and after that, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now".
    • The LIGHT Brigade street team is a reference to the famous poem, "Charge of the Light Brigade".
  • The Smurfette Principle:
    • In-story: There is only one major female character, and even she gets killed right at the beginning. The band's current line-up also features only one female member out of nine.
    • Act III features a sole female lead, though to what capacity remains to be seen.
  • Song of Courage: 'The Will of One' and 'Vengeance' in Act I, 'Breaking Out,', 'Keep Quiet', 'Light Up the Night', and 'The Fall' in Act II.
  • Spontaneous Crowd Formation: Crowds form a lot in their songs. It's lampshaded a couple times in Act II.
    Light: Emily... a crowd has gathered here...
  • Steampunk: The descriptions of the early machines make them sound like this. It shifts over to Cyberpunk once Wily takes over.
  • Stylistic Suck: According to Our Heroes, Act I is supposed to sound destroyed because it's a ruined future. This isn't to say Act I sucks, though. Since Act II is largely before things have gone bad, the sound is polished and cleaner.
  • Tenor Boy: Megaman in Act I. Joe in Act II.
  • Terminally Dependent Society: The humans in Act II are so dependent on the robots that they don't work at all.
  • Title Drop: Subverted in a couple of songs which drop the title one of the previous songs on the album. "The Hounds" plays it straight.
  • Tragic Hero: Most of the heroes fall under this, particularly Dr. Light. His passion and desire for helping people (and later saving the city) not only makes things worse, but empowers Wily. His creations seem to share this flaw, though their reactions to everything differ wildly.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Act I is set in the year 200X, a Shout-Out to the setting of the games. Act II opens thirty years prior.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: In both albums, the listener knows what Megaman/Protoman/Joe/Light are going to do to end Wily's tyranny. It doesn't work either time.
  • Verbal Tic: Protofans have the habit of affixing the prefix "Proto" to anything sufficiently awesome/Protomen-related.
  • Villain Song:
    • "The Hounds" is this for Wily, and "The Stand (Man or Machine)" subverts this for Protoman - he's a villain, but wants his beliefs to be proven wrong.
    • "I Want It All" from the Queen album can function as a second one for Wily, as it's sung by Turbo Lover.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Everyone in Act II loves Dr. Wily and trusts him completely for the work he's done for them, all while he makes the City complacent and reliant on his machines.
  • Voice of the Resistance: The band itself out of universe; Joe, Dr. Light, and Megaman in-universe.
  • Wham Line: From Act I: "You are the dead."
  • When It All Began: Act II details how Dr. Wily took over, setting up the events of Act I.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Dr. Wily's murdering of Emily to get Light exiled. While he would have been fine with his rival being executed, it's implied Wily rigged Light being let off the hook. He painted Light to be a horrible murderer, and when the justice system "failed" to put him away, Wily seized the opportunity to usurp the justice system and place himself above it.