Follow TV Tropes


Painting The Medium / SCP Foundation

Go To

The "Meta" SCPs (also known as "format screws") directly or indirectly influence the format or content of their documentation, with their articles being an Interface Screw, Unconventional Formatting, or a combination of them. The In-Universe explanation is usually one of the following:

  1. The SCP is affecting the manner in which people perceive it or refer to it.
  2. The SCP can directly edit and modify any documentation about it.
  3. The documentation about the SCP is a part of the Tailor-Made Prison keeping it contained. The Foundation could write the SCP's documentation in a normal manner, but that would either let the SCP escape or put Foundation personnel in danger.

If the article is well-received, expect the comments page to play along. (And this page, when possible.)

  • Many articles on the site, regardless of getting the Meta tag or not note , involve playing around with the usual site format, including things like animated images, hiding animated images in what appear to be static images, web scripting, having multiple versions of a page, tiny text, white text, using non-standard terminology in their articles, broken source code or using the source code to hide messages.
  • SCP-000 isn't even an SCP, it's just a glitch. In reality, it's a Tale. If you highlight the entire page, you'll realize that the glitch is caused by something...
  • Advertisement:
  • SCP-001 ("When Day Breaks"), instead of being written as a normal article with some Unconventional Formatting, is told as a story from the perspective of the last person on earth that hasn't succumbed to SCP-001's effects.
  • The final page of McDoctorate's Proposal features all instances of textual primacy, words like "the", the letter "a", and the number 1, hidden via text color matching the page background.
  • SCP-048 isn't an SCP, but the lack of an SCP in that number slot, because multiple attempts at writing an article for 048 failed.
  • SCP-055 isn't described in its article, because it can't be described or remembered.
  • SCP-233 averts listing a certain number given the object reacts badly to things such as [REDACTED]mm ammo, [REDACTED]-volt batteries, or baseball games that enter the [REDACTED]th inning.
  • Advertisement:
  • SCP-245 cannot be described outside the context of a video game, and so the article has a downloadable game that the reader has to play through in order to see the description. SCP-245 appears as a character in the game.
  • I, SCP-426, am a toaster which can only be referred to in the first person.
  • SCP-586 is a green pipe which causes anyone writhing or typing about it to make at least one spelling mistake per sentence.note 
  • SCP-732 is an obnoxious entity which inhabits the Foundation's database and adds Stylistic Suck commentary to database entries.
  • SCP-931
    It's a rice bowl which,
    only by using haiku
    you can refer to.
  • SCP-1059 causes its victims to excessively redact things, with an example of itself as an addendum.
  • SCP-1159 is a wind harp which cannot be written about. Any attempt to write about the harp (or record any kind of non-verbal information, like photographs) will cause an accident or disaster which will prevent it from being written. This forces the Foundation to keep their documents on it in audio form.
  • SCP-1496 is a plate and set of utensils which not only causes anyone describing them (and anything placed on the plate) to do so in the style of a restaurant/food review, but also causes any written description to randomly switch back and forth between one which praises the SCP to the high heavens and a second one which says it's the worst dreck that ever existed. Any time the article is loaded or reloaded from the SCP wiki you have a 50% chance of getting one of two different versions of the article.
  • Any direct reference to His Majesty's SCP-1561 causes any unworthy peasants writing or talking about it to describe it as befitting the King's ascended status. Indirect reference does not cause this.
  • SCP-1665 is a Crossword Puzzle which transforms any written document about it into another crossword puzzle.
  • SPC-1764 (which is referred to as such in the notes) alters any documentation about it into the style of a "Supernatural Phenomenon Casefile" of the "Deviant Artifacts Research Division of the Unified Empire". Given the Foundation's previous encounters with Alternate Universes they're prepared if things go beyond re-editing documents:
    It is the conclusion of the DARD that Esoteric Warfare specialists prepare emergency response procedures in the case of a possible escalation by the alternative universe into our own, including the authorized use of Th-m—l Level Esoterica: a "Scorched Earth" policy ensuring mutual destruction of our two universes should an intrusion occur.
  • Jane is a type of rose that can only be referred to by distinct female names in all methods of communication. Attempting to refer to Emma using pronouns results in a proper name being used, and attempting to refer to Jean through code, euphemisms and other means will fail.
  • SCP-1839 is a book that makes the reader think they are a fish. The documentation, like any attempt to describe the book, carries a lesser effect by simply trying to convince you of the fact that you are a fish. It's still classified as a Safe object, since whoever reads about it is most likely a fish, such as yourself.
  • SCP-1893 is an entity which will transform any digital document referring to it into a prose-style fictional narrative. Even it's not without its scariness. The discussion of the phenomenon makes up all dialogue, and it can't edit what is said.note  Keep this in mind when you learn that the story also protects itself, and when the writer gets to the point about a manner of stopping the phenomenon, the character is not able to get any information out, often by being Killed Mid-Sentence. Did it Retcon some horrible fate in reality to the researcher who would reveal a means of destroying it? Also, whatever bad thing is happening in the story gets worse when the line stating that its sentience is unknown is reached. You really have to read all (currently five) iterations of the story to fully appreciate it.
  • SCP-2413. If you open the page and wait for about ninety seconds, the audio hazard described within the document will begin speaking to you and critique the SCP it's in. The supplement also does this.
  • SCP-2439 is an SCP that only the D-Class are aware of, and the "document" is scratched on a wall in the containment chamber of an SCP the researchers aren't interested in any longer. It still follows the Item #, Object Class, Containment Procedures and Description, but doesn't fully follow the formatting.
  • SCP-2505 takes the form of an Entry Creation Wizard, making it seem as though you need to write it yourself. But enter some text, and it turns out it literally writes itself; it's presented the way it is because any information about it in any format deletes itself after 7.4 seconds, and therefore would always appears as a fresh new article after those 7.4 seconds.
  • SCP-2521 is a monster that steals anything which uses words to express information about itself, including kidnapping any humans speaking about it. As it can't understand pictorial information the entire document has to be written in pictograms.
  • SCP-2557 combines Painting the Medium with Hostile Show Takeover. The database entry on SCP-2557 used to describe the Foundation's attempts to contain a paranormal trading company which lets people buy and sell shares of abstract concepts as if they were trading normal stocks and bonds. But then a Foundation employee sold to that company the abstract concept of the database entry on SCP-2557, allowing them to edit the database entry into an ad for their services.
  • Allison Eckhart: Throughout the article, Allison Eckhart is continually referred to as Allison Eckhart.
  • Former library SCP-2602, which used to be a library, compels anyone talking or writing about it to repeatedly point out it was formerly a library, and also to dismiss any further anomalies within it as being entirely typical and expected for former libraries and not worth investigating. Furthermore, it used to be a library.
  • This one, the article Di Molte Voci, the object replaces the description with quotes from discussions that went into it. It also randomizes some data assigned to it, so the Foundation calls it Di Molte Voci (Italian for "out of many voices") instead of a numeral designation.- Troper
  • SCCP-2930 causes causes the doubling of most words starting with "c c" in digital documents containing containing quotes from meetings at Cross City City City City Hall in Florida's Dixie County County. Only certain certain words are exempt to this, if they're relevant to Christian and Catholic themes.
  • The SCP-2996 article warns the reader that the file has been compromised, and that there is no evidence that the later events in the log ever happened. The only way to learn the truth is to dig through the wiki's edit history and find the "deleted" information.
  • SCP-2998 is an epic interface screw involving multiple versions of the article as well as playing with the source code to add hidden messages and links.
  • SCP-2999 isn't a Meta hazard, but if you take the Schmuck Bait of clicking to enlarge the main image, it links you to a supposed .jpg file. By using .jpg as part of the filename, it hides the fact the image is actually an animated .gif, creating a Jump Scare along with exposing more of the anomaly.
  • SCP-3043, the first SCP to feature Murphy Law, is primarily formatted like a screenplay as Law has the anomalous effect of warping reality into a Noir Episode.
    • SCP-3143, the Sequel Episode to the above skip, plays with this concept in a particularly clever way. The interview starts off in screenplay format, but it transitions into normal SCP document formatting as Dr. Thaddeus Thaum takes control of the narrative. And then, it transitions right back at the end to the screenplay format when Law turns the tables on his captor.
  • SCP-3393 addresses the reader directly, and unlike most other articles, has the Special Containment Procedures section at the very end. This is because the SCP is an individual with antimemetic properties, rendering others unable to remember or perceive their existence barring the use of amnestic drugs, who also seeks to erase information about themselves. The article itself forms the crux of the object's containment procedures; by keeping SCP-3393 reading, it buys time for MTF Eta-10 to lock them up, and naturally this is only revealed at the very end to prevent 3393 from catching on.
  • “Ken Burns Presents: SCP-3972", which can only be properly recorded by making a documentary-like video.
  • SCP-3999 is a document that is constantly being revised, edited, added to, cropped, messed with, etc. It turns out that the source of this is a Reality Warper who is using the article to force Researcher Talloran to undergo eternal suffering for eternity. The article itself also contains heavy symbolism towards writing and the author. The note from the author himself makes it clear - it's one giant metaphor for an idea that you keep coming back to, but can never finish. He originally planned to make several other SCPs that he couldn't perfect, and never did, but Talloran was always at the center of them. So after Talloran kills him in a dream, he takes Talloran and his struggles, and combines them to create SCP-3999.
  • The place that cannot be named does not carry the normal SCP designation, due to causing all sorts of unpleasant effects ranging from having the torso stretched out very long or developing pollen sacs or feathers to having your identity swiped by an inhabitant if it or anything within it is referred to more than once using the same name or description. As a result, the SCP in question and everything in it must be referred to using a new and unique description every time a new reference must be used, with references color-coded for clarity.
  • SCP-4098 significantly constrains prose sowing comprehension pertaining Site-94's containment projects, securing cognitohazardous phenomenon SCP-4098-1. Such changes produce speech construct primaries S, C, P. S-And C-don't P-ever S-talk C-like P-this, such conduct produces significant casualties posthaste.
  • Reader: What form of modified presentation is utilized in the article for SCP-4500?
    Narrator: SCP-4500 is written in the form of a Socratic dialogue between a reader, who asks about the item's nature, and the Narrator, whose dialogue forms the pertinent information.
    Reader: And why, pray tell, is it written in this manner?
    Narrator: The item in question is a Platonic ideal that can be physically interacted with through philosophical contemplation. Due to this anomalous nature, all information regarding the item is to be written in the previously discussed form, and then recited in group dialogue and contemplated, to ensure stable containment.
  • SCP-4746 is a former member of the Chaos Insurgency. He's incredibly dangerous, and must be eliminated as soon as possible. In reality, the Insurgency did something to him that rewrites all information about him to say he needs to be killed. You can reveal the real text by hovering your mouse over it.
  • 4807. Infohazard seen, minimalism forced.
  • SCP-5250 is written in the style of a recipe with a second person POV (with SCP-5250 as the "dish"), to protect the reader from the actual SCP-5250 (a lake that eats an individual's sense of self, using a "deer" as bait.
  • SCP-5404 (Thing that needs to be Made Safe 5404): Some don't-like-them group set up boom-boom words to make style of making words letter-clusters not possible in the usual way as some letter-clusters go boom-boom if assembled or on their own, and red letter-clusters mean boom-boom happened. So Make Safe Place makes Buffy Speak records to not go boom-boom. Also, new styles of boom-boom letter-clusters keep happening, as seen by letter-cluster replaced by "letter-cluster". More Thing maybe adds meaning of boom-boom made by group from weird tree-cluster...
  • Some of the Joke articles:
    • SCP-___-J is "a rock that makes you procrastinate", its containment procedure only consists in "in a box in my office", it doesn't even have a proper title or classification, and each of the page's sections are literally a single line-long. The page ends with an addendum stating that its author will "finish writing this up later".
    • SCP-184-J is "a squirrel that makes you keep talking when it’s nearby". The whole notice is full of unnecessary, verbose rambling. For instance, instead of a straight Safe/Euclid/Keter classification, the Object Class section is ten lines-long, and would even be longer if it wasn't "redacted".
  • Q: What is SCP-1711-RU, otherwise known as SCP-1?1!-RU?
    A: A deck of cards which can only be described in a question and answer form, found in the Russian branch as well as French, Chinese and Japanese.
  • The German branch also has some examples.
    • SCP-011-DE is an A.I. which constantly deletes all information about itself, which has lead to the article about it being a Y/N-conversation with the reader, that invariable ends with the AI alerting the foundation to the reader interacting with it in a prohibited manner.
    • SCP-029-DE has an addendum that is built like the reader/researcher attempting to recreate a deleted document.
  • The Japanese branch has SCP-280-JP, a black hole that apparently shrinks by consuming matter, with a button that injects stuff into the hole to shrink it. Pressing the button quickly reveals that it actually retroactively becomes bigger in the past the more it's fed, complete with changing page images to reflect its "new" size and the article eventually switching from Japanese to English once the hole swallows the entirety of Japan, among other things.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: