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Podcast / The Hidden People

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While spoiler tags have been used to hide any of the details pertaining to any major or recent twists in the series, trope names have been left unmarked as well as early season spoilers. You Have Been Warned.

The Hidden People is an audio drama podcast created by Dayton Writers Movement, centered around the adventures and trials of Mackenna Thorne, a twenty-seven year old who's felt uncomfortable in her own skin her whole life, and has spent her adult years living an emotionally walled-off, repetitive life in her hometown of Conley, Indiana. Then her parents are killed: her father by a pack of giant black dogs, and her mother by a killer with a giant polearm that eludes the police. As her family and friends try to cope with what happened, and Mackenna tries to feel like a person, a series of increasingly odd events leads Mackenna and her circle of people to realize that their entire world is very different and much more bizarre than what they believed it to be.

The first season premiered in February 2019, running for 22 episodes and concluding in December of that year. The second season premiered in May 2020 and concluded in May 2021. The third season premiered in October of 2021 and is slated to run through 2022.


Heh heh heh... The Hidden People's trope page contains spoilers for the show's characters, content, and themes. Please... trope with care.

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    Season One 

  • Accent Relapse: Once it becomes clear that Mackenna is in immediate danger, Shaylee drops back into her natural Irish brogue while trying to help her escape the barghests at the water tower.
  • The Ace: Thomas when it comes to conversation, home economics, and people skills, and Shaylee is this when it comes to technical fighting and lore on the Hidden People.
  • The Ageless: The Hidden's standard. A few, notably Black Annis, appear elderly, but this was mentioned to be because of a curse laid on her by the younger Hidden following the civil war.
  • A God Am I: The Magister, a claim he's backed up by killing The Hidden People's previous god and making himself unassailable.
  • Ancient Evil: More than a few characters in this show fall into this category. The Magister and Liliana are the most prominent, feared, and immediately dangerous of them in the first season, but Black Annis is even older, and the Highland Vough's age is unknown but it predates The Magister's rule over The Hidden People.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: The Magister does this to Shaylee in a flashback in "Blood On My Hands", offering her the position of Trainer as an alternative to being killed by her fetch.
  • Asshole Victim: The "dude-bro" that the Thorne killer stabs to death in the second episode. Lampshaded and invoked by Alfie to try to justify why Mackenna would kill anyone.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Anyone who's near the top of the Hidden food chain is this by default. This is enforced by power being descended by lineage, with children attempting to murder their parents to inherit their position and influence. Special cases at the top of the food chain include:
    • Wodan, a long-dead literal God of Evil who led the Hidden People to slaughter entire civilizations;
    • The Magister, the Physical God king of the Hidden People whose word is divine law and who personally killed Wodan to be the uncontested ruler;
    • and Lady Liliana, whose powers include complete invisibility and even interfering with the powers of other Hidden, and who said she was capable of bending nature to her will.
  • Berserk Button: Halflings are this for the Magister, leading to Dane being Killed Off for Real , as well as the No-Holds-Barred Beatdown mentioned below.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Alfie is the ineffectual, goofy Comic Relief guy of the main cast. This makes him the last person you'd expect to tell Liliana "fuck you" and threaten to beat her and her husband to death with a fireplace poker in the season finale.
  • Big Bad: The Magister.
  • Birthday Episode: Episode 13 takes place on Thomas' birthday, with Mackenna baking a (supernaturally tasty) cake and everything.
  • Brown Note: The church bell to Mackenna and Shaylee in the second episode. Later becomes a Chekhov's Gun and crucial to killing The Magister.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: As Shaylee puts it in season one, The Hidden People can't be described as evil as they are an older and unfathomably more alien culture with different values, but that doesn't mean they aren't incredibly ruthless and willing to take advantage of people who think of them as misunderstood.
  • Butt-Monkey: Alfie is this to Nissa and Mack. Nissa later confides in him that his mockability was the glue that held their friendships together.
  • By-the-Book Cop: What Samantha Mulligan is for the most part, keeping to due process while pulling out all the stops in solving the Thorne murders. Ron Sitwell steps up into this trope after Sam has a change of heart.
  • Changeling Tale: The plot of the first season revolves around this.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The iron church bell that first hurts Mack and Shaylee's ears in the first season is what ultimately helps Mackenna kill The Magister in their final confrontation.
  • Clear My Name: What a lot of the plot in season one is about for Mackenna Thorne, following the midseason reveal.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Black Annis.
  • Cold Iron: The main weakness of the Hidden People and their constructs. Constructs can get poked by a piece of iron and explode into leaves; in order to glass a full Hidden, you have to strike them in a spot that would kill a normal person.
  • Comic Relief: Alfie is this to the main group.
  • Compelling Voice: Something The Magister can use to a terrifying degree on any other Hidden Person. Any other Hidden can use this in the limited context of a bargain or contract.
  • Creature of Habit: Mackenna Thorne at the beginning of the series, staying in her daily routine, keeping to herself, not making any friends outside of the ones she has, and not going anywhere or doing anything that would be too much effort.
  • Creepy Doll: The eyeless dolls Black Annis has as security constructs in her bower.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Every last one of Alfie's claims, including that Mackenna would be on the run from the law, that the villain was a horrific stalker with a personal link to the Thornes, and that Mack herself was the killer all turn out to be true. His first guess that Mack and Shaylee teleported away after witnessing Mack and Fack's first confrontation also turned out to be true, and he was the quickest out of all the supporting cast to unflinchingly believe in the magical world.
  • Da Chief: Chief McIlveen
  • Decadent Court: The Unseelie Court
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's hard to find a single character that doesn't engage in some witty snark at least a couple times in the series.
  • Defector from Decadence: Lady Liliana turns out to be this, having turned on The Magister and the Unseelie Court and having Mack, a halfling daughter.
  • Don't Think, Feel: How Mackenna learns most of the forms of magic she uses. Invisibility, slowfalling, unmaking constructs, stepping sideways, all of them are consequences of instinct. Her luck being brought on by the "power of positive thought" might also qualify.
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: Lampshaded when the evening news flounces the Conly police for being apparently inept. Then played straight by Sam and Ron after failing to get past Arcadia's mental wards.
  • Doppelgänger: Played straight, but the expected roles are switched. The original is the attacker, and the copy is the protagonist.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Mackenna gets this in her final battle with the Magister as a final gift from her mother Liliana.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Magister.
  • Eyeless Face: None of Black Annis's dolls have eyes, but they can still sense intruders.
  • Fair Folk: The Hidden People, the true masterminds of the plot and the villains of the series.
  • Fairies Own Night Clubs: This is how the entrances to Arcadia are made to look, even though mundanes can't find the place with all the mental warding.
  • Flat "What": Sam does this to Thomas after he tells her that Mackenna is innocent, when he was the one who identified Mackenna as his attacker.
  • For Happiness: Alfie's personal motivation.
  • Friend on the Force: Sam is this to Mackenna and friends until getting fired for it. Then she just joins the friend circle.
  • Friend to Bugs: One of Mackenna's few regular interests at the beginning of the series is maintaining her ant farm.
  • Genre Savvy: Nobody is more savvy to 'both' of the series's genres than Alfred O'Toole.
  • Genre Shift: After some character development and subtle foreshadowing, the series goes from a murder mystery thriller to an action urban fantasy in the course of a couple episodes.
  • Hackette: Nissa is a self-proclaimed "hacktivist" and a complete tech wiz able to break past the security of cellphones and police departments alike.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Forbidden by the Unseelie Court and the Magister. The last time the Hidden were allowed to have children with humans, the halflings with human morals banded into the Seelie Court out of shame and outrage at what the pure-blooded Hidden were doing. The only known halfling is Dane, who's one-sixteenth Hidden and has absolutely no magical ability.
    • Eventually averted, big time. Mackenna Thorne's heightened powers are revealed to be the result of being the halfling daughter of Lady Liliana. The Magister does... not take this news well.
  • Hammerspace: One of the primary Hidden tricks is to trick containers into holding more than they normally would.
  • The Heavy: The Thorne Killer, a.k.a. Fetch-Mackenna is this for all of season one to The Magister.
  • Hellhound: The best description for the black dogs the killer used in the Thorne murders. Actually fey constructs known as Barghests.
  • Invasion of the Baby Snatchers: Every facet of The Hidden People's society is this. The Unseelie Court at its core is a giant human trafficking operation, kidnapping dozens of babies a year, using them as slaves, emotionally abusing them, and finally gaslighting some into hating and killing their birth family and the changeling that replaced them for the Hidden's amusement.
  • Jedi Mind Trick: A lot of Hidden Magic takes this effect. Its effects include everything from making mundanes unable to find entrances to Arcadia, to making people completely unable to do or say things. The most common practitioner of this ability is The Magister, being the grand lawmaker of the Hidden People and all.
  • Land of Faerie: Arcadia.
  • Leitmotif: Taken up to eleven. Most of the music in the series is tailor-made episodically, using a large number of leitmotifs representing different characters, states of mind, and activities. Hearing certain themes come up in the music is a good indicator for what's about to happen.
  • Lethal Chef: Mackenna.
    Nissa: I can count exactly zero times that Mackenna has baked anything outside of home-ec, and what she baked then? You couldn't pay me to eat it again.note 
  • Literally Shattered Lives: When you kill a full Hidden Person, their body begins cracking like glass until the magic explodes out of their body, turning them into crystal chunks.
  • Loophole Abuse: Standard for the Hidden People. Anyone who deals with them has to be savvy about this as a rule to survive.
  • Lovable Jock: Thomas was the quarterback of Conley's football team and also the most polite, respectful, and sensitive homebody you could ever meet.
  • MacGuffin Guardian: The Highland Vough, an ancient and immortal water spirit guarding the well of Mimsbrunnr.
  • MacGuffin Location: The Vault, a MacGuffin Location full of dangerous MacGuffins, and the Well of Wisdom which gives people magical insight on their memories and things they've lost.
  • Masquerade: One specifically enforced by The Hidden People.
  • The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life: Shaylee having to go spend a year in Arcadia to become a trainer completely killed her on-and-off relationship with Emma.
  • Mentor Archetype: Shaylee was this to Mackenna and Nathan was this to Shaylee with some help from Dane. Shaylee also merges this archetype with being the love interest of Mackenna.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Nathan in Shaylee's backstory, and both Dane and Shaylee for Mack.
    • Thanks to a high-risk bargain by Mackenna, Shaylee got better by the next episode.
  • The Namesake: The title The Hidden People refers to the eldritch Fair Folk who act as the main threats once the series shifts into urban fantasy.
  • Narrator: The entire series is framed as a story being told by a mysterious figure called The Storyteller during a trial overseen by The Unseelie Court, who interjects in the audio on occasion or when actions need to be described in detail.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: During the season one finale, the revelation that Mackenna is the halfling daughter of Liliana pushes The Magister into a brutal, rage-induced one of these.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: The events of the series are kicked off by the murder of Mr. and Mrs. Thorne, who appear in flashbacks and home movies afterward.
  • Power Echoes / Voice of the Legion: How Hidden People or anyone who lived for a significant period of time in Arcadia speak, justified as the realm's accent.
  • Power Fist: The Magister slips on a pair of iron knuckles for the sole purpose of beating the crap out of Mackenna in their final confrontation. Does it hurt him too? Yes. He just hates her too much to not make a point.]]
  • Retired Badass: Black Annis of the past was the matriarch of a great fey witch's coven, who rained destruction and slew powerful beings in the time of the oldest known human civilizations. Black Annis of the present has been reduced to a forgetful and decrepit hag hiding out in an English bower.
  • Rules Lawyer: Bending rules and forging social contracts are the Hidden People's most valuable magical skills.
  • Self-Made Orphan: What Sam and Ron starts to think is happening once they start considering Mackenna Thorne a suspect. Turns out they're half-right. The killer is the real Mackenna Thorne, who never knew her parents thanks to the aforementioned Changeling Tale.
  • Sinister Scythe: Fetch-Mackenna's weapon of choice is an iron scythe as tall as she is. Inverted as it becomes the protagonist Mackenna's signature weapon in later seasons.
  • Spring Cleaning Fever: Along with baking, this is how Thomas copes with stress.
  • Staring Down Cthulhu: In all of Mackenna's confrontations with The Magister, a Physical God and the undisputed king of the Hidden People, she makes fun of him, bruises his ego, and talks back to him out of a disdain for his supposed authority. However, this confrontation ends up having severe consequences for Dane and Shaylee.
  • The Starscream: The Magister was this, successfully, to Wodan in the series's backstory.
  • Straight Woman and Wise Guy: Detective Sam Mulligan and Ron Sitwell.
  • The Stoic: Mackenna Thorne, full stop. She's not a full-on Emotionless Girl, she feels shock and anger even if the emotions are muted, and while she does love her family, especially Thomas, her way of showing it is walled off at best. Following learning that she's a changeling, her personality starts getting more vibrant and she acts on her emotions more often.
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Thomas is called Mr. Perfect by anyone who knows him, and seemed to be more favored by his parents. Subverted when you find out Mackenna was just as popular, but too apathetic to want to do anything.
  • Super Intelligence: Nissa has perfect recall of all her memories, down to the smallest detail. It's never described as Photographic Memory, but it functions like it in essence.
  • Supernatural Elite: The Hidden People are this to humanity.
  • Survival Mantra: The Thornes' killer has a couple, including "I will reclaim" and "If you must kill, hide for a time. They will still be there when you're ready for them."
  • Sweet Baker: Thomas's quality cooking and the amount that he cooks is one of the many reasons why he's called "Mister Perfect". His go-to solutions for dealing with stress are to either cook or clean, and has no problem whipping up quiches or any other meals.
  • Switched at Birth: See Changeling Tale above.
  • Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Detective Mulligan is this very briefly between pinpointing Mackenna Thorne as the killer and realizing she's hunting the wrong Mackenna Thorne. Her partner Ron remains this for the rest of the season.
  • Those Two Guys: Nissa and Alfie in regards to the whole series, and Sam and Ron fit this trope prior to the midseason finale.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: The dilemma that both Sam and Ron face after the midseason that lead them to conflict with each other. Sam realizes that the Mackenna that she's hunting and the Mackenna who killed the Thornes are two separate people, and continuing with by-the-book procedure will lead to a false arrest. Ron, who knows nothing about it, sees it as Sam falling for Thomas, and willing to sabotage the investigation and let a violent murderer escape which goes against his nature. Sam is the more correct one, as she has more vital information to make her decision, but neither are seen as in the wrong.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Like the Deadpan Snarker trope above, it's harder to name a member of the main characters' inner circle that didn't take a level in badass. Shaylee's was in the past after a year of training in Arcadia, Mackenna had a few but most notably when she inherited the powers of Liliana, and all the human allies are more than eager to risk their lives to help Mackenna and help her prevent an unnecessary death.
  • Tragic Villain: More than a few examples; as the Storyteller puts it, there are good people forced to do bad things and monsters who are sometimes right. Fack and all fetches like her who are driven to reclaim are this from abuse by the Unseelie Court. Shaylee and other changelings chosen as trainers by The Magister are bound to continue their work, even if they can't stand it. Liliana's history isn't really delved into, but the compassion she shows for Mackenna, her disdain for The Magister, and her willingness to sacrifice herself to save her daughter speak volumes about what kind of inkling of goodness she may have had in her.
  • Training from Hell: Changelings who become trainers undergo a year of this in Arcadia; fetches who are chosen to reclaim undergo this almost their entire lives.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Ultimately what happens to Detective Mulligan, though a little more apologetic than most examples.
  • Undeathly Pallor: It's how Black Annis gets her name.
  • Voice with an Internet Connection: Dane to Mack and Shaylee.
  • Wake-Up Call: Mackenna thought the murder of her parents was going to be this for her, but it ended up not being the case. Eventually played straight, however, after finding out she's a changeling in a world of magic, and taking to it very well.
  • Wham Episode: A couple throughout season one.
    • All three episodes of the mid-season finale are individual wham episodes that culminate in a complete Genre Shift. First, everyone investigating the Thornes' death get direct confirmation that Mackenna Thorne is the killer. Then, Mack has to flee after a SWAT team raids her home. Then, she encounters the black dogs and... herself, and the events during and immediately after that encounter cement the change from murder mystery to urban fantasy.
    • The final two episodes of the season also count. Shaylee and Dane are killed by Fack and The Magister, Mack makes a deal with The Magister for Shaylee's resurrection by pretending to take Liliana hostage, the Hidden People's Revel is sabotaged for the first time in history, Mackenna learns she's actually a halfling and Liliana's daughter, Liliana kills herself to bestow power to Mackenna and Mackenna kills The Magister with help of the bell tower in the center of town. Lastly, Mackenna, Nissa and Alfie were all in the collapsing building after The Magister's corpse explodes, leaving the first season on a dramatic cliffhanger.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: A variation on this is always somewhere in the forefront of the series, and it's split on who suffers more. On the one hand changelings are definitely not human, and usually get little or no affection from their parents before losing them in a reclamation but otherwise can live out pretty normal lives, while human fetches are 100% human but have been raised in bondage in Arcadia for so long they have no concept of human society and would have an incredibly hard time adjusting to a normal life. In this regard neither are truly human and neither are really in the wrong.
    Shaylee: Who truly owns that name? The one born with it, or the one who answers to it?

    Season Two 

  • Beware the Silly Ones: Robin Goodfellow is a goofy, playful, banter-loving fairy and willing to make deals with humans in exchange for magical potions. He's also an Old One, which puts him in the same category of power as Black Annis, and he's so psychotic that all it takes is something small to set him off.
  • Big Bad: Cygnus for the first half of the season, and Alder Niamh for the second half.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Despite his status as Alder and similar aspirations for the title of Magister, Alder Odhran is too comfortably set in the old ways and can't match up to the deadly ambition of Alder Niamh.
  • Big Eater: Cygnus, being an Extreme Omnivore from a Death World. Made especially noticeable after taking over Sam's body.
  • Break Them by Talking: Cygnus excels at this, as both Nissa and Thomas discover.
  • Death World:The In-Between, with a Super-Persistent Predator and Everything Trying to Kill You in full effect.
  • Door Dumb: Thomas has a hilarious moment of this during his... infiltration of the Museum in Downward Spiral.
  • Earpiece Conversation: Alfie needs to have dinner with his mother to discuss his inheritance. Unfortunately, thanks to the "Freaky Friday" Flip (see below), Nissa is in Alfie's body.
  • Everyone Can See It: Mackenna and Shaylee, to the point where the others coordinate some time alone for them to finally talk about it. Too bad Cygnus chose that moment to show up.
  • Fingore: Cygnus does this to Sam, eating one of her fingers to manipulate Thomas into opening the cage.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: As a result of using The Arm Ring of Frigg to bring Mack and Nissa back from The In-Between.
    • Specifically, Alfie winds up in Mack's body, Thomas in Nissa's, Mack in Shaylee's, Shaylee in Thomas's, and (much to her horror) Nissa in Alfie's body.
  • Genki Girl: The new member of the team, Riley, has all the enthusiasm, energy, reference-making, positive wit that Alfie has, and refuses to even let her relative naivete with magic put her in a bad mood.
  • Grand Theft Me: As part of the "Freaky Friday" Flip mentioned above, Sam, Cygnus, and Murphy get shuffled around.
  • Killed Off for Real: Poor Ron.
  • Hoist by Their Own Petard: All Cygnus desired after possessing Sam's body was to make a new body in the form of its invincible old one. Mackenna gives it exactly what it wants, then Sam takes advantage of Cygnus's newfound weakness to iron to kill it with one shot.
  • Heist Episode: "Downward Spiral" is this for Alfie, Thomas, Sam, and Shaylee.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: A spoiler-heavy, in-universe example. Wodan had been the God of the Hidden People and its absolute ruler since time immemorial before The Magister took command for a few thousand years. By season two's finale, the Storyteller is revealed to be Wodan himself, now fully awakened and ready to enact his evil plans.
  • MacGuffin: "The Sunstone", a stone said to contain the entire power of the sun where all magic comes from. ...which is what The Storyteller wants you to believe, anyways. It's actually The Eye of Wodan, Exactly What It Says on the Tin and the one thing needed to bring Wodan back as the leader of the Hidden People.
    • Also the Arm-Ring of Frigg, a powerful magical artifact split into two halves that acts as the key to rescue Mackenna and Nissa from The In-Between.
  • My Beloved Smother: Mrs. O'Toole, especially when Alfie is in a coma, and doting on him while he recovers at home.
  • Portal Cut: What eventually happens to Cygnus on the way out of the in-between.
  • Spanner in the Works: Running into OldFlame Emma]] would be awkward for Shaylee at the best of times, but especially for it to happen while she's robbing a museum?
  • Tabletop RPG: The inside of Alfie's mind is portrayed this way, with various nods to high fantasy games like Dungeons And Dragons.
  • Trauma Button: Stepping sideways becomes this for Nissa after her time in the In-Between.
  • The Trickster: Who to turn to when you need a supernatural drug dealer? Why, Robin Goodfellow, of course!
  • Unreliable Narrator: Averted for the most part. The Storyteller is very detailed in giving out several details of Mackenna and the gang's adventures, even outing Niamh's prior awareness of Mackenna as a halfling. Only two details were changed- that "The Sunstone" is really The Eye of Wodan, and that they stole the Sunstone *last week* instead of just the other day.
  • Unspoken Plan Guarantee: Averted by Alfie in "Downward Spiral", who outlines the plan to rob the National Museum of Ireland via montage, complete with a montage of 70's style heist music!