- "There are gonna be some changes around here, Jim. Oh yes, lots of changes. Mark my words."—E. L. Hob during her first day on Mars
MarsCorp is a science fiction/comedy podcast about a dysfunctional human colony on Mars. The protagonist is pragmatic Earthling E. L. Hob, a new supervisor and Only Sane Employee tasked with curing an extreme case of Incompetence, Inc..
Season 1 was released in 2016 in twelve weekly instalments, followed by Halloween and Christmas specials. Since then there has been a great deal of additional content released both publicly and on the Definitely Human Patreon. A full second season is expected sometime in 2020.
This podcast contains examples of the following tropes:
- Absent Aliens: Averted all the way up to S1E10, when hints are dropped about the existence on Mars of an ancient dormant species known as The Benefactors. They go on to play a major role in the series finale.
- Action Girl: Hob is a kickboxing champion and has repeatedly demonstrated her ability to take down several attackers at once.
- Affably Evil: Colin Denham is warm and polite to allies and enemies alike. If anything he's a little too friendly.
- All Girls Want Bad BoysHayley: David! I've heard so much about you. Are you really as evil as people say?
- Alliterative Name: Mr Martin Mann, Manager.
- All There in the Manual: There are insights about the characters and setting to be found on the MarsCorp & Gorilla Film websites, some of them more pertinent than others.
- Another Dimension: Where Mister Velvet lives, on the other side of the portal (see Interdimensional Travel Device).
- Apathetic Citizens: The employees, most of whom can barely be persuaded to notice either the general worthlessess of their existence or the latest crisis to grip the base.
- Aristocrats Are Evil: The Ultra-Ade True Blues are all vile, especially their unhinged despot, Jonathan Kingsley. The similarly aristocratic David Knight has an in-universe reputation for villainy, though it's not necessarily justified.
- Big Eater: Jim. He welcomes Hob to Mars while eating beans straight from the tin, and his enthusiasm for salted nuts and tasty, tasty meat is evident. Food is listed as one of his "Likes." According to twitter, he eats lipstick. Big Fun may well be on the cards.
- Bi the Way: See Everyone Is Bi; at least, several characters are casually shown or implied to be bisexual. In S1E06, Hob - who has otherwise only shown interest in men - is spotted conducting "research" in a cupboard with Dawn.
- Blind Obedience: Basic good conduct for the employees (though they don't all practise it all of the time). See Yes-Man.
- Blob Monster: The Comfort Buddy, a pet-cum-giant gelatinous blob-cum-comfy chair that eats people.
- Body Horror: The super-plants that erupt out of their hosts' orifices, turning them to lumps of green goo.
- Blue Blood: While Blue is the highest citizen status one can acquire without becoming a manager, there are still the aristocratic True Blues whose family trees consist only of other Blues.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: While Martin is killing the black sheep:Jim: (horrified) MARTIN!
Martin: (indulgently) Be with you in a moment, Jim. (grunting and smashing resumes)
- Challenging the Chief: When Hob accidentally insults Jonathan Kingsley by reading the terms and conditions of the Written Agreement, he challenges her to a duel to the death using drill tanks.
- Chew Toy: Brian Durant, a computer systems specialist who can often be found getting hilariously maimed in the background.Jim: How's the hand, Brian?
Brian: The remaining hand is fine.
- City in a Bottle: At some point in the past few hundred years, Mars lost contact with Earth and became completely isolated. The current generation have never known anywhere else.
- Colonized Solar System: Humanity came to Mars with a dream to build golf courses and coffee shops on it. It's not going very well for them.
- Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Everyone except Hob is divided by colour-coded citizen status, from highest to lowest: Yellow, Blue, Red, Green, Purple, Orange.Hob: That doesn't mean anything to me.
Dave: Nor me! What's in a colour, am I right?
- Company Town: Everything and everyone at the base belongs to MarsCorp.
- Cute Machines: Chip, to Tom and the audience, though the other human characters are not impressed.
- Da Chief: Martin has fun taking on this role in S1E08 when he tasks Hob with investigating a murder.
- Dances and Balls: Every year, the base superior attends a high-class party hosted by the snobby Ultra-Ade miners to renew a partnership contract. Luckily for Hob, there's alcohol.
- Deadly Decadent Court: The violent, pampered True Blues of the Ultra-Ade mine.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: As Hob gradually becomes very slightly warmer and more open with her co-workers.
- Depraved Dentist: Sadistic Angelica Kingsley enjoys torturing Chew Toy Brian, and presumably all her other patients, in her job as a dentist.
- Dimensional Traveller: Mainly Colin and Mister Velvet, though we don't get to see much of their actual travelling.
- Double Entendre: Dawn's trademark.Dawn: Hey, handsome.
Jim: Hi, Dawn! Want some nuts? It was the last packet in the vendibot.
Dawn: Haha, yeah, I love your salty nuts.
Jim: Hm, yeah, they're pretty good. (oblivious munching)
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: After extensive discussion of what her last words should be, and with a token Red Shirt there ready to take one for the team, Donna's abrupt death in E07 comes as quite a surprise.
- Enraged by Idiocy: During their visit to the world factory, Hob lashes out at her team for their immaturity, insubordination and, well, idiocy.
- Everyone Is Bi: At least nominally, sexual orientation is a complete non-issue, although most attraction and activity shown so far is between men and women (see Bi the Way).
- Evil Vegetarian: David Knight, because he knows a disturbing secret about the meat production facility.
- Failure Montage / Binge Montage: During the Speed Dating episode, Hob's attempts to root out a saboteur give way to drinking, dancing and casual sex.
- False Utopia / Crapsaccharine World: To an outsider, MarsCorp is obviously a huge disaster careening towards extinction. Its employees merrily act as if it were thriving.
- Family Business: The Dallings have always served the technology department, and many of them have been chief engineers over the years.
- Famous Last Words: Whenever she feels she may be in danger of dying, Donna becomes obsessed with planning the perfect last words to be included in her eulogy.Go on without me!
I did something really stupid.
Tom: She didn't have any last words, she just... died.
- Fantastic Caste System: The colour-coded citizen class system (see Colour-Coded for Your Convenience). People are introduced by their names followed immediately by their colours, which tell you their social status.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Chip yearns for a job on the surface with the other machines, but Tom is already set on his kid taking over the technology department.
- Fascist, but Inefficient: Despite being an oppressive corporate dictatorship, MarsCorp can't exactly make the personnel shuttles run on time. It doesn't even have a personnel shuttle yet.
- Felony Misdemeanor: When the Resources Department have explained their evil plan, the heroes are left wondering: what could possibly be their crazed motives for such a monstrous plot?Alberich: Because you're annoying.
- Festering Fungus: The super-plants at the world factory. Once inside you, they can kill you in minutes. It sounds disgusting.
- Fluffy the Terrible: The Comfort Buddy (see Blob Monster).
- Foreshadowing: Raj is mentioned in a throwaway line in S1E01, when Jim compliments his sandwich. When he later shows up as a character in his own right, his fondness for sandwiches becomes relevant.
- Follow in My Footsteps: Tom to Chip; see Fantasy-Forbidding Father.
- Future Food Is Artificial: With special emphasis on Mystery Meat, the consumption and appreciation of which is a weirdly prominent feature of life at the base.
- Gender-Blender Name / Tomboyish Name: Dan Bungle from the meat lab.
- Giant Spider: Mister Velvet, an enormous man-eating spider monster from another dimension.
- Going Native: After her initial culture shock, Hob slowly assimilates into Martian society, even starting to enjoy aspects of her new life.
- Government Drug Enforcement: Downplayed - the drug in question is alcohol, but it is mandatory, and drinking to excess is the accepted norm.
- Happiness in Slavery: MarsCorp's downtrodden employees display loyalty and reverence towards the company, even though it literally regards them as property.Everyone: To MarsCorp!
- Hard-Drinking Party Girl: Bonnie's hobbies include drinking tequila and wearing no underwear.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Both played straight by Dan and subverted by Hob in S1E02.
- Honest John's Dealership: Dave Price aims to exploit the gap in the market left by the resources department, who make it very difficult for people to get what they need through official channels. He fits this trope to a tee, right down to the plaid jacket. Although to be fair, the compressor he procured for Hob in E01 seems to be perfectly functional.
- Human Popsicle: Hob travelled to Mars in suspended animation. Before defrosting, she was left in a store cupboard at the base for... a while.
- Hypocritical Humour: When a guard tries to check her ID, Hob demands "Do you know who I am?" - seconds after making fun of Angelica for saying the exact same thing.
- I Always Wanted to Say ThatMartin: Hand in your badge and gun!
Hob: You never gave me a badge and gun.
Martin: I know, I just always wanted to say that!
- Incompetence, Inc.: Up to Eleven. IN SPACE!
- Interdimensional Travel Device: The secret "window"/portal that David and Colin built (or that David may have built by himself with Colin's encouragement). After The Incident, when it was first activated, it was left running for ten years in Colin's closed-up lab and the employees forbidden from talking about it.
- Job-Stealing Robot: Discussed, inverted, reclaimed:Techbot 1: Full diagnostic assessment complete. This job is so easy, a coffeebot could do it.
Techbot 2: Not so loud. You might get replaced by a human.
Both: Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha great stuff.
- Played straight when a raft of Martians, including Dave, are made redundant by the tech department's latest batch of robot replacements. The newly unemployed humans are given the option to retrain as gardeners or book themselves in for termination.
- Kill It with Ice: One aspect of the plan to destroy the Comfort Buddy.
- Knight Templar ParentTom: You need to fight your own battles. Let's go back to the workshop and increase your arm pressure to 3000 newtons. That should pack a hefty punch, eh?
Chip: No, Father, I don't think -
Tom: Sorry, sorry, what am I thinking! The 2000 you have already is more than sufficient force against a child.
- The Lad-ette: Dawn, especially in the Eric episode of Human Capital, when she throws herself into slamming drinks and scoring chicks with far more enthusiasm than Eric himself.
- Leeroy Jenkins: In S1E01, Dave bravely hacks the slime monster into pieces with a piece of its last victim - effectively creating an army of tiny slime monsters - before trying to run away and almost getting himself eaten.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: Martin, saving Hob and Jim from a stray monster at the end of S1E02.
- Literal-MindedHob: Here goes nothing.
Jim: What?! No! Don't do nothing! That's the worst thing you can do!
- Lovable Alpha Bitch: Bonnie is not above using her position in communications to be mean to people, and was initially hostile towards Hob, but she does have a nice side and their relationship seems to have improved a lot.
- Loving Bully: Angelica and Dave were at school together, where she violently picked on him... because she had a crush on him. Understandably, he always thought she just hated him.
- The Man Behind the Monsters: Downplayed, since it's only one monster rather than a whole army, but Mister Velvet's master is normal human man and former MarsCorp employee, Colin Denham.
- Man-Eating Plant: Downplayed in the S1 Christmas special when David engineers a pot plant as a gift for Hob. It has teeth, but it's normal-sized hasn't eaten anyone yet (as far as we know).
- Mauve Shirt: Eric, Donna and Dawn are three technology department underlings who all make very brief appearances early on, before each receiving various amounts of characterisation as the series progresses. See Red Shirt.
- Mega-Corp: MarsCorp itself is connected to the multinational Happiness Inc back on Earth.
- Missing Mom: It doesn't become apparent that Chip even has a mother at all until S1E07, when she turns out to be Jess Horn, head of the IT department and Tom's ex-wife. She and Chip are still in regular contact, however.
- Mister Descriptor / Mister Strangenoun: Mister Velvet's name may or may not be a reference to his being some kind of velvet tarantula.
- Monster Munch: Optionally named after kickstarter backers who paid for the privilege of getting killed off almost immediately.
- Monster of the Week: So far, the first three episodes follow this format.
- Mr. Exposition: Jim, when showing Hob around the base.
- Nice Guy: Jim is the most popular guy on Mars because he's just so damn nice to everyone, all the time.
- Nice Hat: Jonathan Kingsley's hat is the only thing Hob can find to compliment him on when they meet for the first time.
- No Indoor Voice: Tom shouts all his lines, even on the rare occasions when he's not angry.
Guard: Sir, please stop shouting.
- Eventually subverted with hilarious consequences:
Tom: (quietly) I'm not shouting.
Guard: I won't ask you again - please lower your voice!
Tom: Guys, I'm really not shouting.
Guard: STOP RESISTING! STOP RESISTING! (extensive shocking, Tom screaming)
- Noodle IncidentJim: They built a terrifying... oh, no, wait. I'm not supposed to talk about it.
Jim: Sorry, Hob. (brightly) Management has forbidden any discussion of The Incident!
- Not Even Bothering with an ExcuseJim: Some of us greens are getting together tomorrow night for a staring contest. I warn you now, though: things could get pretty wild!
Hob: Yeah... tomorrow, I... (beat) So, (back to the murder investigation)
- Oblivious to His Own DescriptionHob: So, Eduardo lives alone. No living relatives, no close friends, no hobbies, no membership to any clubs; just seems to work and sleep.
Jim: Sounds like you!
Hob: (simultaneously) Sounds like a loser. What?
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Tom Dalling is an especially pedantic enforcer of The Manual, while the entire resources department has a reputation for being completely obstructive at all times (or "prickly," as Jim puts it).Bonnie: Attention, employees. The resources department would like to remind you that orders will not be expedited under any - and they've underlined 'any' three times, here - circumstances. They've also removed all the balls from the pool tables out of spite.
- Odd Couple: Buttoned-up, businesslike maverick Hob is given the profoundly laid-back, moderately ditzy and endlessly affable Jim Lake - a man who wears Hawaiian shirts to work and has a rapport with everyone, including the elevator - as her personal assistant.Jim: You can access anyone's dating profile at any time and see how compatible you are. For example, you and I... are a 7% match. Haha, with a number that low, it's surprising we don't get on each other's nerves all the time!
- One Steve Limit: Averted by Dave Price and David Knight, named after their actors, who also co-wrote the series (see Write Who You Know on the Trivia page).
- Also averted by John Smith and Jonathan Kingsley, although given their very different roles, there's not much risk of getting the two mixed up.
- Only Sane Employee: Hob. Almost everyone around her is dense or deranged or both, and her job basically consists of trying to stop them all from wiping themselves out.
- Martin mentions this trope verbatim in the third episode of The Martin Chronicles, optimistically speculating on his own eulogy.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Hob and Jim know that something's amiss when Martin's not in his office.
- Opportunistic Bastard: Dave, a self-styled "trader" (read "schemer"), always trying to spin a profit out of the latest crisis.
- Overprotective Dad: If Jonathan Kingsley suspects someone unsuitable of interfering with his beloved daughter Angelica, he'll have them beaten to a pulp.
- Peace & Love, Inc.: Hob is transferred from a company called Happiness Inc.
- Phrase CatcherHob: Fuck off, Baxter.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: Martin Mann seems to be one of these... at first.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Averted. David was imprisoned in a yoga room for over ten years, but no one has remarked on his physique. He does have a talent for appearing out of nowhere, though.
- Produce Pelting: Dave capitalises on rumours of a new monster loose on the base by making his intern, Hayley, dress up as a "knife beast" - and then charging people to throw garbage at her.
- Reassigned to Antarctica: How Hob ended up on Mars in the first place. Her tendency to bend the rules and challenge authority didn't make her popular with her bosses back on Earth.
- Recruiting the Criminal: When the protagonists get stuck, they consult David Knight, the mad scientist chained up in a former yoga room for unspecified crimes. He may be creepy but he's very helpful.
- Red Shirt: The first thing we learn about Rebhi is that his citizen status is "red," which turns out to be all too appropriate (see Monster Munch).Tom: This is a crazy thing we're doing here, people. We might not all make it.
Paul: Why - why'd he look at me when he said that?
- Ridiculously Human Robot: Some robots/AIs on the base are capable of humour, for some reason. See also Job-Stealing Robot.Jim: Heyyy liftbot! How's business?
Liftbot: Oh, you know, Jim... up and down.
Jim: Hahahaha, classic liftbot! Take us to the technology department, buddy!
- Saying Sound Effects Out LoudAll: Gasp!! Sigh!
- Senseless Sacrifice: By Dan in E02. Not only do the "monsters" not follow when she throws herself into the meat processor, it eventually turns out they weren't even dangerous in the first place.
- Smart People Build Robots: Tom Dalling, head of the technology department, builds robots - including his beloved "son," Chip.
- Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Baxter, Martin's irreverent robot assistant, takes a special pleasure in winding up Hob.
- Speed Dating: Arranged by the main characters as an excuse to interview employees without arousing suspicion. Cue Failure Montage.
- Spiders Are Scary: Hob thinks so. Everyone else agrees with her when they meet Mister Velvet.
- Spiritual Successor: To the previous podcast from Definitely Human, The Bunker. They share many elements in common and are set in very similar futures, but the stories are unrelated and the David, David & Tom characters are no relation (see Write Who You Know on the Trivia page).
- Stepford Smiler: David is constantly "smiling" and "laughing." He just can't help that it sometimes sounds more like sobbing.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Hinted at in the S1 Christmas special and elsewhere in relation to David's teenage crush on Colin, his tutor/mentor/boss/"best friend" at the time.
- Tortured Monster: One of the sheep monsters walks upright and painfully bleats "please... help... me..." before Martin bludgeons it to death with his paperweight.
- Trash of the Titans: When Hob comes out of suspended animation, one of the first things she notices about the base is that there's garbage all over the floor.
- Turn in Your Badge: In S1E08, which plays with many crime fiction tropes, Martin pulls this on Hob. He's well aware of what he's doing; see I Always Wanted to Say That.
- Uptown Girl: Subverted by Angelica and Dave; it's not true love, but they do manage to have brief, noisy and ultimately (for Angelica) disappointing sex in a field.
- Used Future: The base was cutting-edge in 2070. Naturally, after more than four hundred years of mismanagement, it's now a dump.
- Vestigial Empire: The entire MarsCorp base is a weird relic of humanity's failed 21st-century space-imperialism.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Until The Incident, Colin was extremely popular and could get away with just about anything.
- Walk and Talk: Tom's Establishing Character Moment sees him striding through the tech department, pursued by a crowd of complaining juniors, until he yells at them all to go and solve their problems by simply consulting The Manual.
- Walking Spoiler: Colin Denham, former head of the science department, who "disappeared" ten years before Hob's awakening. The fact that he appears in the show at all, on the other side of an interdimensional portal in E06, is a spoiler all by itself.
- "Well Done, Dad!" Guy: Tom desperately wants Chip to be impressed by his work at the technology department; see Follow in My Footsteps.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: Actually, the employees use a system of tokens as currency.Dave: Time is tokens!
- While Rome BurnsMartin: We're facing imminent annihilation and you're making a mixtape?!
Hob: Martin, if we can't take the time to enjoy music, we might as well be dead, right?
- Wrench Wench: Dawn and Donna from the technology department.
- Yes-Man: Jim to Hob, to an extreme extent. When Hob tests his obedience, she's alarmed by the results.Hob: Jesus, Jim. Do you just blindly follow orders?
Jim: You betcha, boss! I'm your assistant. I'll do whatever you tell me to do.
Hob: Oh, really. Pour this glass of water over your head.
Jim: (immediately obeying) Brr! Ice water really wakes you up!
Hob: Now, stab yourself in the hand with this pen. ... Christ, Jim, stop! (tackles him)
Jim: Oof. Glad you stopped me there, boss. That would really have hurt.
- You Didn't Ask: Jim didn't mention to Hob that he was married with three kids, simply because she was reluctant to talk about her own personal life.
- You Need to Get Laid: Baxter reckons the reason Hob's so cranky is that she hasn't gotten laid in four and a half centuries. Which is interesting, coming from a robot.