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Podcast / The Last Podcast on the Left

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That's when the cannibalism started...

"Every week Ben Kissel, Henry Zebrowski, and Marcus Parks explore the horrors of the world both imagined and real."
Series Description

The Last Podcast On The Left is a horror and true-crime based comedy podcast and is part of The Last Podcast Network. The show was originally created by Ben Kissel and Marcus Parks in 2011. Shortly after its creation, Henry Zebrowski joined Marcus and Ben as the third host of the show.

Recurring topics on the show include serial killers, cults, aliens, cryptids, and hauntings and the horrible people frequently involved are discussed with all the respect that they deserve... none.

The Last Podcast On The Left provides examples of:

  • Accidental Misnaming: In Mormonism part 3, Marcus describes how a man left the LDS Church because one of Joseph Smith's revelations, meant specifically for him, spelled his name wrong. Symonds thought that, out of anything, God should be able to spell. Henry notes that the name's proper spelling was the non-intuitive "Symonds Ryder". Ben posits that between this and the Manson Family's inability to spell "Helter Skelter", perhaps God really can't spell.
  • Admiring the Abomination:
    • Invoked and discussed in the "Carl Panzram" three-parter, wherein Marcus says that true-crime authors love Panzram (a serial rapist and mass murderer from the early 1900s) due to his Affably Evil tendencies and well-written confessions. By the end of the series, Henry decides that Panzram is his favorite Heavy Hitter.
    • Henry also has a bizarre admiration for L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, that disturbs the other two a great deal. Subverted slightly in the David Miscavige series, where he explains his "love" is mostly ironic - he likes the ideas Hubbard put forth, but is fully aware the man was a narcissistic con artist.
  • Angrish: Israel Keyes' taunting text to the boyfriend of Samantha Koenig reduces Marcus to this, disjointedly muttering in disgust before he finally spits out:
    "Rage. So much fucking rage."
  • Anthropomorphic Food: Henry created a character named Detective Popcorn. Detective Popcorn is an ultra-cute, anthropomorphic bag of popcorn. He tends to be much more focused on how delicious he is than on actually solving crimes.
  • Anti-Climax: Episode 161 has them reenacting the NASA scientists' deadpan silencing of the conspiracy theorists in Aliens On The Moon.
    Marcus: BUT COULD IT BE
    Henry: No. No way.
    Marcus: IS IT POSSIBLE
    Henry: No. No way.
    Henry: Yes you have. The answer is no.
  • Arbitrary Scepticism: In his manifesto, Kyle Odom recalls an incident in which he was telekinetically molested by a group of Martians disguised as elderly human men in the bakery aisle of a Safeway store. Hearing this, Ben has just one question: "This happened in the Safeway?"
  • Artifact Title: Their live shows are no longer recorded but are still called “Last Podcast On The Left.”
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: Henry is not at all hesitant to whip out this kind of accent when impersonating an Asian, given that he voices killers and cult leaders they're actively mocking. It's considered an achievement that he held out for fourteen minutes in the Aum Shinrikyo series and he just goes to town with it when impersonating Charles Ng. In that case, the hosts all stress that Ng actually spoke like that.
  • Ax-Crazy: Many of the killers covered on the podcast are characterized this way. Peter Kürten and Richard Chase especially come off this way, with emphasis on the "crazy" part. Josef Mengele is also shown in this light; despite his civilized veneer, he clearly just liked to murder people.
  • Bad Liar: There is some debate during the first Casey Anthony episode about whether Casey qualified as a great liar or a terrible one. On the one hand, she told and, for the most part, got away with some real whoppers, such as leading police through an office building she only claimed to work at for a long time. However, nearly all of those lies were easily disproven with only minimal effort because she insisted on Snowball Lies, such as finally having to admit she didn't work at the office at all when she navigated police into a dead end.
  • Berserk Button: In one of the first "Relaxed Fit" episodes, Marcus gets unusually angry and defensive about a story involving a man who would fart all the time because, as a child, one of his nicknames was "Marcus Farts".
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Henry's head only reaches Ben's shoulders when they stand side-by-side.
    • Played up in the Girly Chew Hossencroft episodes with Ben playing Goons 1 and 2 to Henry's diminutive evil mastermind.
  • Black Comedy: The show's bread and butter. Such sobering subjects as serial killers, cults, and scary stories are lightened up with copious amounts of jokes.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In the Jerry Brudos episode, they make a joke about Brudos' Prison Rape after his capture and immediately justify it by by pointing out that "It's OK since Brudos was a terrible person".
  • Blood Lust:
    • Heavy hitter Peter Kürten drank blood from his victims, and said that it would be "the pleasure to end all pleasures" if he could hear his own blood gushing from his neck as he was guillotined.
    • Richard Chase, the "Vampire of Sacramento", suffered from schizophrenic delusions that he was lacking blood in his body, and drank and injected human and animal blood to try to replenish it.
  • Book Dumb: While it's not uncommon for serial killers to be school dropouts, Pee-Wee Gaskins earns special mention here as his book, Final Truth, is described by Marcus as having surprising insight into the psychosis of serial killers despite Gaskins dropping out at age eleven, being more classifiable as a "mass murderer" than "serial killer", and such studies not yet being part of the common public consciousness.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Holden McNeely (of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) is often the butt of jokes among the boys.
    • In many early episodes, Ed Larson (also of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) is the butt of many jokes.
  • Cain and Abel: There were some suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of Ed Gein's older brother Henry; for example, while Ed claimed that they were seperated while fighting a wildfire, he was still able to lead the search party straight to where his body lay. While Henry's death was ruled an accident and Ed was never charged with any wrongdoing, Ben is convinced that Ed had something to do with it.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: During "The Hillside Stranglers" episode the guys are discussing bed wetting when Henry tells a story of his friend pissing the sheets till he was 12.
    Marcus: Did he tell you that in confidence?
    Henry (panicked): ...What?
  • Card-Carrying Villain: In the "Norwegian Black Metal" episodes, this is the impression the hosts get regarding the leading figures of the scene. A bunch of musicians who proclaimed themselves to be True Evil and, over time, "yes anded" themselves into bigger and badder brags until multiple arsons and actual deaths occurred.
  • Check, Please!: Parodied in the series on Jonestown. Henry jokes that if you're in a cult, your can save yourself by yelling "Check, please!"— at which point the cult is obliged to let you leave. It sees use again in the show's next cult series on the Order of the Solar Temple.
  • Christmas Special: Episode 205: "The Detective Popcorn Christmas Special".
  • Cluster F-Bomb:
    • While narrating a Pac-Man themed CreepyPasta in Episode 181, Marcus drops 29 F-bombs in under 2 minutes.
    • The episodes on Robert Pickton and Richard Kuklinski each feature undercover officers who, by Marcus's description, considered the best way to pass themselves off as criminals was to use "fuck" as often as possible in every sentence.
  • Comedic Sociopathy:
    • Henry, Ben, and Marcus frequently make jokes about serial killers or their victims.
    • Henry tries not imitating a Japanese man in the "Aum Shinrikyo" episode but only lasts 14 minutes.
      Henry (in Asian voice): Oooooooh, most honorable Kissel!
  • Continuity Nod: Occasionally a one-off gag or character will resurface dozens of episodes later in... surprising contexts.
    • Charles Ng's indignation at not getting inducted into the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
    • Terry the Gnome shows up unannounced at the Lost Continent of Lemuria to screw the native fauna.
    • Spring-Heeled Jack's reappearance in Episode 314: The Jersey Devil, where the boys even lampshade how infrequently he shows up.
    • Henry's take on the plumber (who in real life, was not like what Henry depicts) in the "Dennis Nilsen" episodes returns in a different role in the "Enfield Poltergeist" episodes, being as Cockney, foul-mouthed and feces-obsessed as ever.
    • The Bone Splitter reappears in the Donner Party series, excited at the prospect of amputating a young boy's leg. Sadly it is not meant to be. Later he briefly gets flirty with Bonnie Parker.
    • Episode 418: The Slenderman Enigma features a callback to, of all things, Henry's vehement hatred of Eddie Redmayne from Episode 345: Hangmen and Headsmen as well as an appearance by Terry the Gnome.
  • Crossover:
    • Episode 50, a special Halloween episode, features story narration from various members of Cave Comedy Radio (now known as The Last Podcast Network).
    • Henry's sister Jackie (of The Last Podcast Network's Page 7, Sex & Other Human Activities, and Roundtable of Gentlemen) appears in Episode 266 and Episode 267 as the voice of Aileen Wournos.
    • In the live shows, Holden McNeely (of the Roundtable of Gentlemen) occasionally subs in for Henry.
    • The episode "A Conversation With My Favorite Murder" is a crossover with, well, My Favorite Murder.
    • Detective Popcorn appears in the Roundtable of Gentlemen episode "Episode 199: The Roast of Marcus Parks".
  • Cuteness Proximity: In the "Dennis Nilsen" episodes, the guys (especially Henry) get all like this whenever Bleep, Nilsen's adorable, black & white Border Collie is mentioned.
    Henry [In Part 1]: "That's the cutest name for a little Scottish dirty-dog..."
    Henry [In Part 2]: "...Bleep is the 'BB-8' of this story!..."
  • Delicate and Sickly: In their series on Grigori Rasputin, one of the factors that allowed Rasputin to gain the power he did was that Tsar Nicholas II's son Alexei was a hemophiliac, a condition only Rasputin could reliably alleviate and which the Romanovs kept very secret, lest it be known that Nicholas's heir be a weak, sickly child. Henry presents Alexei as a child constantly on his deathbed, explicitly comparing it to Colin Craven of The Secret Garden.
    Henry: ...and then you're cutting over to Alexei, and that sweet little boy looks like the kid from The Secret Garden and he's like (as Alexei) "Daddy, do you think that one day I can sprout wings like a bird and fly to Heaven?" and they're like "Aw, fuck... he's gonna have to be Emperor one day..." and he's just like draped in blankets 'cause he's constantly shivering from how thin his blood is.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: A common theme amongst serial killers, especially sociopaths, is that they cannot prevent themselves from getting bored and escalating their crimes in a stupid fashion. A prime example of this is H. H. Holmes, who was gearing up to build a second "murder castle" in Texas which would have potentially allowed him to continue his crimes for decades undetected only to end up being run out of town after Holmes decided to make an unprecedented and inexplicable attempt at horse theft.
  • Disposable Vagrant:
    • The hosts refer to this idea as the "Less Dead". They note how multiple serial killers, such as Gary Ridgway and Robert Pickton, were able to get away with their crimes because their main targets were prostitutes, whose deaths garnered little official attention, or black prostitutes, who got basically none. The Robert Pickton case also draws attention to First Nations women, who somehow got even less attention than black prostitutes.
    • In the case of Robert Hansen, who took sex workers out into the wilderness to kill them, there were multiple occasions he was suspected or even caught dead to rights when survivors of his attempted kidnappings reported him. In the case of one survivor, who was able to accurately describe the inside of his home right down to the presence of a Foosball table, a record-keeping issue caused his wrap sheet to come out clean, not showing any prior arrests, and that immediately made Hansen's word more valuable than the sex worker's.
  • Distant Duet: Parodied in "Episode 330: Katherine Knight Part 2", where Henry pictures Katherine in prison longingly singing "Somewhere Out There" with her beloved butcher's knives.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first few episodes didn't have Henry and, by Marcus' own admission, the show didn't really find its footing until around Episodes 59 and 61, which were about the B.T.K. Killer, after which point they began to go heavier into their research. Not coincidentally, these episodes also featured the first appearance of Detective Popcorn.
    • The first 13 Episodes had a different theme song (suspenseful horror film music). Episode 14 is when the familiar theme with the Sampling debuts. The switch happens during the 2 Part "Chasing The Bogeyman" Episodes (Ep. 13 & Ep.14). However, the early version of the current theme music had (mostly) a different bunch of samples (the version we hear now is actually a different mix).
    • Earlier episodes were shorter and took a "many examples of a single subject" approach (For example, Episodes about Serial Killers in general or 'Friendly Ghosts' or 'Exorcisms').
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • The hosts will mock serial killers, cult leaders, and their methods and acts, but they become much more serious when they discuss the victims. In the "Children of God" series, jokes about David Berg being an incestuous Dirty Old Man pedophile fly freely, but hardly a joke is made while discussing Ricky Rodriguez, a young man raised in the cult's sexually abusive environment. They also note that they were going to read excerpts from The Story of Davidito, the accounts of Ricky's younger years, but decided against it; saying reading it made them feel like they were "reading child pornography".
    • Pee-Wee Gaskins, part three features one of the rare occasions the hosts shy away from describing the process of a murder. The farthest Marcus will go will be to say to imagine the "worst scene" in A Serbian Film taking place in the back of a hearse and realizing it might have taken place in real life.
    • When Ben tells the story of how he sat on a jury for a sexual assault case and heard one fellow juror engage in blatant Victim-Blaming, Henry yells "Jesus Christ!" in disgust. Ben himself was so outraged by the other juror's accusations that he ended up becoming "the scary white guy" for the rest of the trial.
    • In Last Podcast on the Left: Live in Chicago, the hosts express amazement that not only was it very briefly considered to pair up O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony in a reality show, but that the idea was rejected for being too classless. It is not, however, too classless for Last Podcast on the Left. Cue Marcus creating a mockup of such a show, with O.J. and Anthony standing back to back next to the title "The Didn't Do-Its" while the theme of Perfect Strangers plays in the background.
    • Richard Chase Part II has the hosts somberly retell the details of the mass killing of a whole family of 5 people with no jokes interjected and somber, heartwrenching music in the background.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Despite his first killing being obvious proof of him being a brutal sexual sadist, Jack Unterweger's semi-autobiographical novel Purgatory was taken as proof of rehabilitation by the Austrian intellectual scene, who pushed for the early release that allowed him to kill even more women. Marcus compares the story to the idea of keeping a savage wolf for a pet and how one shouldn't be surprised when that wolf inevitably kills somebody.
  • Fake Assassination: Described in the Jonestown series as a tactic used multiple times by Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones as a means of giving his cult an external enemy to rally against. In particular an incident is described in which Jones was apparently shot and wounded, and in which search parties were lead in the opposite direction from a dog who had apparently run straight towards the shooter.
  • Flanderization: The gang will intentionally exaggerate traits of certain people (especially serial killers) to make them more memorable. Henry has discussed how he builds the "characters" used in his impressions by looking for comedic potential he can build upon.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: This frequently comes up in relation to serial killers and murderers. While most serial killers have horrific pasts filled with abuse and/or mental illness, the guys always make it clear that it does not excuse or justify their monstrous actionsnote  and they lost their right to pity and understanding when they started murdering people. In regards to subjects that had a mental illness that might have influenced them to kill or hurt people, Marcus often says "Mental illness isn't your fault, but it is your responsibility."note .
  • Freudian Trio: In the Borley Rectory series, the hosts describe the idea of the Freudian Trio in terms of con artistry. The Id is the "Flim-Flam Man" who is the most outwardly emotional to generate interest; the "Nerd" is the Superego who keeps the facts of the con straight; and the Ego, which Henry dubs the "Muad'Dib" in a reference to Dune, is a middleman who mediates between the two because the Nerd can't control the Flim-Flam Man. The conversation that results both demonstrates and prompts Marcus to note how the three of them fit into this with Henry as the Id, Marcus the Superego, and Ben the Ego.
    Marcus: Because the problem with the Flim-Flam Man and the Nerds is the Nerds are not able to control Flim-Flam Men. You gotta have a guy in the middle.
    Ben: Yeah, absolutely.
    Henry: We need a Paul Muad'Dib of the paranormal world. A true leader. The Muad'Dib, the desert mouse. One who makes his own water.
    Marcus: He's talking about Dune again.
    Ben: Oh this is Dune, because I was like "Who the— Who the hell is 'Paul Moe'Deed?'"
    Henry: The first male Bene Gesserit! It's the only way that you could possibly combine the power of the Nerd, which knowing how fucking protractors work, and the power of the Flim-Flam Man, which is understanding you gotta pull a little "wink", gotta put a little sparkle, gotta put a glove on that hand because your knuckles, my friend, are kinda ugly.
    Ben: Oh, my goodness...
    Marcus: Technically, Ben, you're that guy. I'm the Nerd, Henry's the Flim-Flam Man, and you're the Maud'Dib.
    Ben: I— I've always said I'm Maud'Dib.
  • Gag Penis: Rasputin's member is so large and so prominent in his story that one of the last Rasputin myths Marcus has to dispel is that Rasputin's cock, currently on display in a big, big jar of fromaldihyde in St. Petersburg, is more likely a well-disguised horse cock. This prompts Henry to want to meet the painter who did the disguising. When referring to the animated Anastasia, they describe Rasputin's lantern as a giant green dildo.
  • Gentle Giant: Despite being very tall, Ben Kissel used to be a dog nanny.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: Marcus and Henry are not shy about discussing how the research they do for the show wears on their sanity.
  • Grotesque Cute: Detective Popcorn is a homicide detective and anthropomorphic bag of popcorn.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X":
    • In part III of Robert Pickton, the hosts have a rough time getting started talking about a major witness in Pickton's trial because they can't stop laughing at his name, Bill Hiscox.
      Henry: Thirty-three years old I am...
    • And to make things worse, a later introduced witness is named Scott Chubb:
      Marcus: So Chubb and Hiscox... [all three hosts burst into laughter]
    • Mormonism part 3 has the hosts all crack up when Marcus describes a dissenter named Philastus Hurlbut. Henry jokes that before coming to America the family went by the name "Vomitass".
    • In JFK Part 2, Ben outright accuses Marcus of setting this up right after the phrase "titular Bay of Pigs".
    • The Borley Rectory series has Ben make many variations of the classic “Rector? Damn near killed her!” joke.
  • Height Angst: Ben admits that he is annoyed when people ask him questions like "What's the weather like up there?"
  • Hidden Depths: While Henry is responsible for most of the Toilet Humor, vulgar jokes and ridiculous impressions in each episode, he is also obviously very involved in helping Marcus with the research, reads a great deal of non-fiction outside the scope of the podcast, and casually name-drops authors ranging from Robert Anton Wilson to Philip K. Dick.
  • Hollywood Satanism:
    • Very much averted for most of the show, as there have been many informative, factual episodes about real-life Satanism in its various forms. However, this trope was discussed at-length during the episodes about Satanic Ritual Abuse, and how it was exploited in order to convince Americans in the 80's and 90's that evil wicked Satanists were out to steal their children.
    • It’s discussed further in the West Memphis Three episodes in regards to the misconception that “the occult” is basically this, and how that misconception fed into the case.
    • Serial Killer, Richard Ramirez actually believed in this form of Satanism as did (to some degree) many of the guys in the "Norwegian Black Metal" episodes (although they wavered between this, militant atheism, and Norse Paganism. Some ex-black metal artists like Varg Vikernes eventually renounced Satanism and atheism and began to preach an insane Neo-Nazi variant of paganism).
  • Hollywood Voodoo: Averted in the Adolfo Constanzo episodes, where Marcus and Henry take great pains to discuss Santeria and Palo Mayombe in a respectful manner. Henry even gets contacted by some practising paleros who provide further information— according to them, Adolfo's version of Palo Mayombe might as well have been this, as it was essentially a mishmash that had him doing everything that is taboo to that religion. In particular, feeding human flesh to his Nganga.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: Essentially Robert Hansen's M.O. He would kidnap women, set them loose in the wilderness, and hunt them down. Despite the similarity to the trope naming story, the hosts think it unlikely Hansen ever actually read it, as the man was a Gary Ridgway level dullard.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the Aum Shinrikyo episode, everyone is disgusted at the fact that Shoko Asahara sold his bath water to followers... and Marcus then takes the opportunity to remind listeners that you can get a bone fragment from his ranch for the low low price of a $25+ monthly Patreon donation.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Discussed in the case of Herbert Mullin, whom was allegedly very reluctant to talk about his murders. Henry posits this trope as the reason why - Mullin was trying to distance himself and probably felt offended that he was being punished for what he felt was something he had to do.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him!: When describing the arrest of Richard Chase, "The Vampire of Sacramento", the hosts mention an interview moment where the arresting officer talks about realizing this. The officer was initially planning to just shoot the family-killing murderer and be done with it, but at the last moment decided to go for the collar because he realized if he did that he would be like Richard Chase, and he did not want to be that.
    Ben: Well, only if he cuts up the corpse and drinks its blood.
    Henry: Well that's the extreme version.
  • Imaginary Friend: Mark David Chapman is described as having had an imaginary society of Little People he ruled over as a child. As an adult, as his mental state deteriorated, the Little People came back of their own accord and actually proved to be more sensible than Chapman himself. He credits them with balancing his home budget and refusing to go along with his planned assassination of John Lennon. Henry is quick to note the issue with this scenario.
    "And if the Little People aren't the problem, that's a problem!"
  • Lame Last Words: In Ed Gein part 3, the hosts can't help but find amusement in the last words stated to have been said by Gein's second victim, who was looking out her store's window just before he shot her from behind.
    "I don't like Chevrolets."
  • Let's Duet:
    • When Marcus begins to read something with a dramatic or intense flair, Henry will sometimes join in to create a strange sort of spoken-word harmony to the end of each sentence. One particularly long version of this happens in Episode 233 as Marcus and Henry read the introduction to the website The pair of them read the website's manifesto, both saying each "quote/unquote" word or phrase in unison. After they finish, Ben finally speaks:
      Ben:(deadpan) ...I think you guys are really good at that.
    • Also leads to some issues on the first "L. Ron Hubbard" episode, when the three have to take several stabs at reciting the incantation from Jack Parsons' Moonchild ritual in unison.
  • Line-of-Sight Alias: Marcus reveals a little reported fact of the Casey Anthony case is that the name of the babysitter Casey provided, Zenaida Gonzalez, or "Zanny the Nanny", was one of these, taken from the names of two of the Anthony family's neighbors. One with the first name of Zenaida, another with the last name of Gonzalez. Henry specifically references The Usual Suspects by stating she Keyser Söze'd the name.
  • Long List: Henry listing the myriad ways children could die on the Oregon Trail in the Donner Party episodes.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Kenneth Bianchi, one of the Hillside Stranglers, took offense to the show's portrayal of him and threatened to sue for defamation of character. Since then, whenever the show references Bianchi for any reason, they refer to him as "Kennifer Bianchi", a name Henry jokingly gave him in the first episode of their series on the killings.
  • Monster Fangirl: The phenomenon is examined in Episode 224: "Serial Killers and the Women who Love Them".
  • Mood Whiplash: Pretty frequent given the nature of a true crime/horror comedy podcast.
    • In the Aum Shinrikyo episode, for example, they give an extremely comical discussion of the utterly goofy "comedy of errors" that was setting up the Matsumoto incident. The cultists were delayed because the main planner overslept, the combined weight of their equipment and cultists caused their van to only reach a top speed of 30 mph, they screwed up the chemical reaction to produce the sarin gas and filled their van with hydrogen chloride, and the wind direction changed at the last second away from their target... and the attack still led to 6 deaths, over 100 injuries and Aum succeeded in their goal of getting a lawsuit against them dropped.
    • In the introduction to Robert Hansen, Marcus narrates a rundown of Hansen's deeds while sounding like a serious true crime show narrator... then asks the listeners to imagine the man he just described sounding like Elmer Fudd in reference to his legitimate speech impediment.
    • Marcus describes the lead-up to Rasputin's assassination in precise and dramatic detail, going so far as to include a sample of the music that was playing at the time... which turns out to be the very upbeat Yankee Doodle Dandy.
    • Marcus lavishly describes the horrific experience that the Forlorn Hope of the Donner Party had in trying to cross the Sierra Nevadas, with three people dying of hypothermia... and then heaves a deep sigh, as he knows exactly what he's going to say next.
      Marcus: (completely monotone) ...and that's when the cannibalism started.
      Henry: Yaaaaaaaaaay, he did it!
      Ben: Wow!
      Henry: He said it! He said the thing!
    • Marcus describes the Chris Benoit murder-suicide in detail in a very serious tone as such a tragedy would deserve, culminating in Benoit using his weigh machine to snap his neck...Then the guys wonder what if Benoit went to Yahoo Answers note  to get advice on "The quickest way to break your neck" and the stupid answers that would ensue.
      Henry (as YA troll with a rapid-fire Simpleton Voice): "The easiest and quickest way to break your neck is to get rid of your whole family... and that's the quickest and easiest way to break your neck!"
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Episode 461: USS Indianapolis", Marcus notes that the oceanic whitetip shark is called yogore by the Japanese, the kanji for which conveys the words "pollute", "defile" and "rape". It gives quite the succinct idea of how badly the shark is feared in the lead-up to the near-constant attacks on the crew of the Indianapolis.
  • Narcissist: Aspects of the narcissistic personality type are discussed in relation to how certain killers/cult leaders act, including:
    • Massively inflated egos, which drives them to be the centre of attention. Jim Jones started a cult essentially to get people to go along with his fantasies, while Casey Antony and Jodie Arias relished in being in front of a camera.
    • An inability to handle failure or have their world view be challenged. Mark David Chapman's inner rage came about because he failed to live up to his grandiose ideals of what his life should be, while Roch Thériault slit one follower's throat with a broken wine goblet for having the gall to question him.
    • Near-constant, habitual lying and trying to present a front of normalcy. The Peoples Temple's exodus to Guyana came about because their sordid secrets leaked to the press, and Casey Antony went so far as to take police through a tour of an office she didn't even work at. Henry compares this to a culture war in Civilization VI, in that the person is essentially trying to force the people around them to conform to their world view.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: All three hosts show an interest in the macabre and horrific, ranging from serial killers to ghosts and cryptids.
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: The Trope Namer is examined in episodes 331 and 332: "The Donner Party Part I— 'Salt of the Earth'" and "The Donner Party Part II— 'The Forlorn Hope'". They not only look into the actual incidents of cannibalism, but how the party got there and what compelled them to set out in the first place.
  • "Not Making This Up" Disclaimer:
    • While re-enacting the antics of a psychic brought in to help in the Boston Strangler case, the hosts insist that, minus some comedic embellishing, they are quoting directly from court and police records.
    • During the first Jonestown episode, Marcus tosses out one of these when mentioning that Jim Jones at some point made ends meet by selling spider monkeys door to door.
    • While discussing Dennis Nilsen, Marcus understandably gives one while mentioning that Nilsen at one point burned the carpet wrapped bodies of his victims in a bonfire in his backyard, in broad daylight while playing The Exorcist theme on a loop on his speakers for everyone to hear. And getting away with it.
    • Discussing the trials of the West Memphis Three, Marcus asks Henry to read excerpts from the court transcripts during the prosecution. He clarifies multiple times that aside from Henry's funny voices and despite how ridiculously stupid they sound, he read those verbatim.
    • When discussing the bizzare decisions made by the judge on Robert Pickton's trial, Marcus has to state this word-for-word when he states why the judge chose to deny the count of the Jane Doe in the charges. The reason? The judge thought that since they never identified her remains, she shouldn't be included in the counts at all.
    • In The Last Book on the Left's John Wayne Gacy chapter, Marcus describes a place where Gacy got a diploma, Kentucky Fried Chicken University, using the phrase "assuredly real".
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Henry imagines Mr. Muggs, the official mascot of Jonestown, as one of these, communicating his displeasure and annoyance via a Congo-style voice synthesizer.
    • Toyed with in the Mark David Chapman episodes, where Chapman's imaginary childhood friends, the Little People, suddenly returned and proved to be more level-headed than him, a fact that intensely disturbs Henry (see Imaginary Friend above).
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: With the sheer number of impressions Henry does, he was bound to screw some of them up.
    • While Henry recites an old news article in "Rasputin, Part 2", Marcus and Ben can pinpoint exactly where his Russian accent slips into a Scottish one.
      • Later in the "Lake Monsters" episode, Henry slips from Scottish to Jamaican.
    • Henry's Australian accent in the Katherine Knight episodes can range from "okay" to "nigh incomprehensible".
    • Henry's attempts at a Yorkshire accent were hilariously bad. (Marcus's attempts were closer.)
    • Scandinavians in the "Norwegian Black Metal" episodes either veer between "The Swedish Chef" and "Stereotypical German". Likewise, Dennis Nilsen varies between "thick Scotireland" and "Cockney" (in Real Life, Nilsen was neither and had a posh Scottish-tinged English accent due to being in England for so long).
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: Many episodes discuss Bigfoot and other cryptids.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Ghosts and poltergeist activity are a recurring subject. This crosses into lewder territory with "Episode 67 - Spectrophilia" and "Episode 228 - Sexy Ghosts".
  • Our Gnomes Are Weirder: Henry created a character named Terry the Gnome. Despite being small, Terry is incredibly feisty. Terry is easily identified by his atypically deep voice and foul language.
  • Our Vampires Are Different:
    • Discussed on different episodes, including classic vampire folklore in Episode 7, real life incidents of vampiric behaviour in Episode 76 and the phenomenon of psychic vampires in Episode 365.
    • Peter Kürten and Richard Chase each got the monikers of "The Vampire of Düsseldorf" and "The Vampire of Sacramento" respectively due to their blood-drinking tendencies. Additionally, Chase's schizophrenia lead him to unconsciously emulate classic vampire folklore (such as thinking an open door was an "invitation"), while Kürten's sociopathy and savagery was put forth as an example of how an actual vampire would behave in real life.
    • The entity that David Farrant and Sean Manchester were chasing after in the "Highgate Vampire Hunters" episode was described as a ghost-like being with "Psychic Vampire" abilities (although the real story in that episode was those two guys and their feud, which overshadowed the paranormal case that started it).
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: Werewolf lore and the concept of clinical lycanthrophy is discussed in the two-parter of Episodes 127 and 128, with the latter focusing on various murders attributed to werewolves.
  • Police Are Useless:
    • The hosts often note times when police ineffectiveness is a major factor in how long a serial killer goes without getting caught. For example, in the Dean Corll series, they note the Houston police were underfunded and understaffed so much that, as a result, they actively avoided investigating things like homicides and shut down a victim's family when they provided a letter written by their missing son that they suspect was faked, but which Missing Persons took as evidence he was no longer missing.
    • They also note occasions when a killer was caught by dumb luck or mistakes rather than anything police did. Leonard Lake and Charles Ng, for instance, were only found out when Lake was held for questioning for an act of compulsive shoplifting by Ng. Lake was then linked to multiple missing persons, starting the chain of events that led to Lake committing suicide in custody and Ng being arrested and convicted.
    • Another issue the hosts bring up frequently is the fact that police precincts never speak to one another regarding local crimes, which causes killers to go on longer than if they just pooled information. This is understandable in the case of drifter killers whose crimes take place entire states apart or in times when long distance communication was not the norm. It's less so in the case of the Boston Strangler, in the 1960s, when police and district attorneys within the same city kept information to themselves in the hopes of being the ones who will crack the case.
    • Detective Popcorn is the hosts' go-to character expressing their feelings regarding this trope. They wonder what Popcorn and the Hot Dog Squad would do in a given scenario when the police are proving less than useful.
    • Averted to a degree in the discussion of Peter Sutcliffe. The 300 police officers pursuing the Yorkshire Ripper were noted as being perfectly competent men, but they were following too many leads and didn't have the technology to record how many times they'd already interviewed Sutcliffe as a potential suspect.
    • Given their utter mishandling of the Robert Pickton and Paul Bernardo cases, Marcus claims that the Canadian police are quite possibly one of the most incompetent on the planet and is clearly enraged whenever describing their bungling.
  • Product Placement: Right after describing a graphic account of one of Joseph Kallinger's hallucinations, Marcus abruptly plugs The Story Must Be Told, another Last Podcast Network show.
    Ben: This is when you put on the business owner hat?!
  • Rage Breaking Point: Played for laughs with Marcus in the beginning of Episode 233 as the guys are warming up for the recording.
    Henry: (in a high-pitched rasp) This is a child's voice... you're supposed to talk in a child's voice to warm up your voice because it's vulnerable...
    Marcus: Please... PLEASE do not start the show with something that annoying.
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) Child's voice makes you feel vulnerable...
    Ben: Welcome to the show, everyone! This is the Last Podcast on the Left, I'm Ben Kissel, that's Marcus Parks—
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) I'm from the Sphere alliance! I hope you're ready for my... blue arms... because they'll make you feel true freedom..!
    Ben: If this is the first time you're listening to the show, he's never done that accent before.
    Henry: (high-pitched rasp) My name is Henry Zebrows—
    Marcus: STOP IT!!!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: At the end of the Jim Jones series, Marcus delivers a blistering one aimed at Jones himself, albeit posthumously:
    "So in the end, Jim Jones only got half of what he wanted. He wanted to die, and he wanted to take people with him and he got that, but he didn't get the legacy. He wanted a grand revolutionary gesture that would inspire others; that would make people see him as a great man. What he got was a joke and a bad one at that. He got pundits and politicians and writers smirking as they casually shrink this tragedy down to one stupid, thoughtless phrase which has become Jim Jones' biggest contribution to the world: 'Don't drink the Kool-Aid'."
  • Red Baron: Whenever a serial killer has a particularly cool name attached to them, i.e. Peter Kürten ("The Vampire of Düsseldorf"), Peter Sutcliffe ("The Yorkshire Ripper"). The trio gives Israel Keyes their own moniker of "The Nu Metal Killer" due to his obsession with the genre and his like-minded, obnoxious attitude.
  • Running Gag
    • Whenever the trio note how much work a Serial Killer puts into their murders, they compare them to Michael Jordan and joke that Jordan himself might be a psychopath.
    • Whenever discussing murders that involved axes, Marcus plays a Rock & Roll guitar solo.
      • Henry also mimics a heavy metal guitar lick whenever anything "metal" or "Satanism" comes up.
      • The exact piece of music that Henry is mimicking is part of the guitar solo close to the eight minute mark of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird"
    • Detective Popcorn is a running gag. The character has been used to parody bumbling or inept police officers since Episode 61.
    • Ben reading poorly, or just not taking to books in general.
    • Marcus and Henry will often scream the phrase "THERE'S BONES IN THE CHOCOLATE!" This is a reference to Episode 35.
    • Henry and Marcus making fun of Ben's grandfather, who was possibly a Nazi.
    • On several occasions, Henry has been put in "free speech jail" for particularly outrageous or line-crossing comments. Ben also had a brief spell in it during Bonnie and Clyde Part II.
    • Any mention of Coast to Coast AM will segue into an impression of host George Noory's terrible interviewing style.
    • "I'm having one!"
    • Starting from Herbet Mullin Part I, “Get the net!” has been used whenever Marcus’ rants or jokes get a little out of hand or "too real" to handle.
    • Henry's numerous recurring characters and impressions tend to have their own catchphrases:
      • Ted Kacynski: "I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE!"
      • The BTK Killer: "I have a sexual problem."
      • Kyle Odom: "I'm 100% sane, 0% crazy."
      • Elliot Rodgers: "...magnificent."
      • H.H. Holmes: "Don't think about it!"
      • Spring Heeled Jack: "Slippity slap and away I go!"
      • David Berg: "What am I doing right now?" "'re holding your cock."
      • Pee Wee Gaskins: "And that's the final truth!"
    • Ben:
      • Ben will occasionally drop a loud and monotone f-bomb. This is a reference to a story that he read in Episode 130.
      • "Nerd alert!"
      • When Marcus or Henry tell a really disgusting story or detail Ben frequently follows up with, "Well isn't that something?"
      • In the same vein, "Sounds kinda fun!" or some variant, often in response to a particularly colorful or campy detail of an otherwise gruesome story. "Kinda Fun" was actually made into a t-shirt.
      • Henry appeared in a short lived sitcom entitled A to Z as a character named Stu. Ben will often mock the failure of the show by ironically acting as if it was Henry's most significant role. Ben often repeats the line, "Stu? Is that Stu?"
      • Whenever Marcus or Henry say that something "begs the question", Ben will make a point of actually asking the question.
      • "What about Barb?" "What about Barb?"
      • "Could have done without that!" for whenever a situation goes From Bad to Worse.
  • Sampling : The opening theme is made up of mostly this. A few sources...
    "There's no place to escape to." - Ronald Reagan during a speech.
    "RISE FROM YOUR GRAVE!" - From the video game, Altered Beast.
    "...that's when the cannibalism started..." - Jeffrey Dahmer from his interview on Inside Edition.
    "OHHHH SHIT!" - a clip from The Tourettes Guy
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Famous!: Jack Unterweger pulled off an extreme version of this by becoming a bestselling author while in jail for his first murder. The celebrity status he got from this served as a shield that allowed him to keep killing, since neither the public, media nor the intellectuals of Austria wanted to believe that he hadn’t actually reformed.
  • Serial Escalation: Brought up with regards to both serial killers and cult leaders, but for different reasons.
    • They observe multiple times during a heavy hitter series when a serial killer has to go further and further with their crimes. Often the first murder is accidental. From there, they begin killing on purpose to replicate the high they got off the first death, and have to do a little bit more each time to keep the feeling alive. This eventually culminates in a "berserker mode" for many if not caught in time, as was the case for Ted Bundy and his attack on a Florida sorority house.
    • Cult leaders have to escalate their claims to keep their followers. Whatever the cult starts with, as time goes on those claims become normalized and the cult becomes less focused. The leader, therefore, has to escalate his proclamations to keep everyone hooked on the cult and not thinking too much about anything else. Aum Shinrikyo went from a cult predicting the exact date of doomsday to actively taking steps to bring said apocalypse about themselves.
  • Serial Killer: The subjects of their "Heavy Hitters" series.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The podcast name is a reference to The Last House on the Left.
    • Almost every episode of the show ends with Marcus giving a shout-out to Ed Gein, Henry giving a shoutout to Satan, and Ben giving a shoutout to the listeners.
    • The closing theme is the same version of "Midnight, the Stars, and You" used by Stanley Kubrick at the end of The Shining.
    • Some of the crazier theories about aliens eventually lead into references to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
    • Grant Morrison's The Invisibles is one of Marcus' favorite comic books, and it gets brought up fairly regularly.
    • The boys will often allude to the film Nothing but Trouble. (Ironically, the hosts once hinted that their praise of the film may have caused more people to watch it and the IMDb score to go down.)
  • Shown Their Work: Marcus and Henry (along with their research assistants) do a dizzying amount of research for their topics, and it shows.
  • Shattering the Illusion: Henry frequently reminds the listener that reality is a hologram.
  • Silly Simian: A recurring theme in, of all things, the Jonestown series. The crew is highly amused by the fact that one of Jim Jones' early means to make ends meet was selling spider monkeys door to door and they cannot stop laughing when they play a clip of the daughter-in-law of a Peoples Temple follower explaining how her mother-in-law first met Jones when he sold her a monkey to replace her previous one which had hung itself. Later on, Marcus relates how Peoples Temple eventually got a chimpanzee named Mr. Muggs as their mascot, whom Henry imagines as an Only Sane Man communicating his displeasure at the madness around him via a Congo style voice synthesizer.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Henry displays a vehement contempt for Eddie Redmayne in Episode 345: Hangmen and Headsmen and Episode 418: The Slenderman Enigma.
    • Sean Manchester and David Farrant were noted as real life examples of this in Episode 388: The Vampire Hunters of Highgate Cemetery. The hosts derive great joy from their petty back-and-forth.
  • The Sociopath: Discussed in several episodes in reference to serial killers and their pathology, with Peter Kürten being a prime example.
  • Stock Ness Monster: Episode 441: "Lake Monsters" examines the folklore behind lake monsters such as Nessie and Ogopogo, as well as sightings modern and historical. Marcus admits that while lake monsters are fascinating, they're also the least likely to exist in his opinion.
  • Stupid Evil: Charles Starkweather, full stop. Henry comments that his stupidity hit a level where it just made him even more dangerous instead of less, because he was wholly incapable of thinking about or understanding ANYTHING.
  • Suddenly Shouting: Marcus has had a lot of practice using volume correction while recording this podcast in the last eight years.
  • Sunk Cost Fallacy: Discussed frequently in regards to the members of cults. The hosts note that one factor in a person staying with a cult long after it's gone off the deep end is this trope, as not only in most cases have people given up money, possessions and entire homes to the cult, but also to question the leader is to question every decision they themselves have made since joining the cult and if the years of their life that they have spent with the cult have been a complete waste of time. People can't easily do that, so they stay in the cult.
  • Take Our Word for It: Marcus says as much concerning one of Pee-Wee Gaskins’ supposed murders. While he and Henry give hints about what he allegedly did, they don’t go into great detail about it.
  • Take That!: The boys, Marcus especially, are quick to hand these down to serial killers and cult leaders in general, deriding their thought process and motivations. This is, of course, accompanied with general potshots at people and media.
    • In Episode 220, Aum Shinrikyo Part III: "The Soldiers of White Love", Shoko Asahara's desire to make the world like an anime leads to a jab at Neon Genesis Evangelion character Asuka Langley Soryu, whom Marcus calls "a super-annoying German redhead that's gonna ruin the whole show".
      Henry: She's got great breasts, though!
      Ben: I don't think she ruined it!
      Marcus: Oh, she is AWFUL!
    • Marcus delivers a blistering one to the Vancouver Police Department for how badly they handled the Robert Pickton case due to petty infighting. Even Henry is shocked by how worked up he gets about it.
    • Jim Jones gets a posthumous one deriding his supposed "grand revolutionary gesture" as nothing more than a senseless and selfish act that didn't even get him the recognition he wanted.
    • The Mark David Chapman episodes see Marcus deliver multiple potshots at the darker aspects of the Baby Boomer generation, including the hypocrisy of 60's hippie culture and the selfishness of those in power. Henry jokingly asks him at one point if he's crying.
    • The trio take the time, in the first episode of the Israel Keyes series, to mock the Nu Metal genre, with Linkin Park getting particular disdain and only Korn and Slipknot getting a pass. It doesn't help that Keyes himself exclusively listened to it. Keyes himself gets derided as a "Bargain Basement BTK" by Marcus for being nowhere near as hardcore as the media made him out to be.
    • Upon learning about Elliot Rodger's love of soft rock, Henry decides that Rodger's crimes can be blamed entirely on Phil Collins.
  • Threatening Shark: Zig-zagged. "Episode 461: USS Indianapolis" covers the shark attacks that were a constant fixture of the four harrowing days the crew of the USS Indianapolis spent adrift on the Pacific. The trio do their best to downplay this, with Marcus stating that the sharks were doing only what came natural to them. However, he does mention that the most likely culprits of the attacks where oceanic whitetips, which are highly aggressive and will readily devour whatever is available.
  • Tranquil Fury: In their series on Richard Kuklinski, Kuklinski is described as never raising his voice. The only sign he would ever give that he was actually angry was a clicking noise he would make with his mouth. Marcus claimed that if you heard this sound, violence, and very probably death, was coming your way. A clip from Kuklinski's first documentary featuring this sound is played to demonstrate, and explained by Kuklinski being angered by a question the interviewer asked and realizing law enforcement officials were listening in.
  • Trashy True Crime: The podcast has a running gag where, when talking about decades-old crimes that attracted morbid attention from the public, one of the hosts will ask, "But why true crime now?", in a snobby tone. (One such example occurs when talking about serial killer Belle Gunness's farm being invaded by curious locals after news of her murders came up.) Apparently, the joke originated from a judgmental interviewer who asked the hosts why the genre became so popular in the 2010s, when incidents like the aforementioned Gunness "fans" have existed for decades, if not centuries.
  • Tulpa: In the "Men in Black" series, one theory mentioned is that the modern day incarnation of the Men in Black are tulpas formed by the unconscious mind of Albert Bender, the man known for first describing them in the fifties. In the second episode, it becomes a Running Gag that Ben repeatedly proclaims he knows what a tulpa is, regardless of the actual topic. In episode three, Ben tries to suggest that Freddy Kruger is a tulpa. After some back and forth, Marcus acknowledges that Ben is probably right about that, at least regarding Wes Craven's New Nightmare.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: In-Universe, so to speak. In the initial episode (#133) about the Waco siege, the hosts are initially quite sympathetic towards David Koresh and the Branch Davidians, and harshly criticize the federal agents of the ATF for a disproportionate use of force, explicitly blaming them for starting the fire that killed 76 men, women, and children. By the time of the first Oklahoma City Bombing episode (#274), they've revised that opinion after hearing recordings that confirm the Davidians started the fire themselves on Koresh's orders, and refer disparagingly to the cult when mentioning that the government's heavy-handed approach towards them inspired Timothy McVeigh to bomb the Oklahoma Federal Building.
  • Unreliable Narrator:
    • The hosts absolutely love when they are able to get their information about a heavy hitter from the person themselves, such as via an autobiography. However, they are quick to note this trope is in effect and try to differentiate what they think is bullshit and what can be or has been corroborated. For example, Charles Manson's biography is clearly making an effort to make Manson sound like he was not nearly as involved as he was, while Pee-Wee Gaskins overstates his acts, claiming dozens, even hundreds of murders that are impossible to confirm.
    • They also note the time period their sources are published, as those published closer to the event tend to be more sensationalised, while those published more recently benefit from newer research and the passage of time. Frequently, as they do with Jonestown, they'll use sources from both periods and compare over the course of the episodes.
    • Mark David Chapman, the killer of John Lennon, is noted as an extreme example of this trope. Between his undiagnosed behavioural disorder(s) and the multiple narratives he's given, the hosts admit that they can't really tell how much of it is real or not. The fact that the Little People turned out to be more rational than their own creator causes them to doubt even that account.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In the second Joseph Kallinger episode, while Marcus has high praise for Flora Schreiber's descriptive writing style in describing Kallinger's frighteningly vivid hallucinations, he has a hard time coping with the sex-based euphemisms she employs, such as referring to a vagina as a "hairy delta".
  • Watch It Stoned: Certain episodes come with an early recommendation to roll up a hogs leg of a joint before listening.
  • Who Shot JFK?: Episodes 400-405 are about the Kennedy Assassination, of which the last two are devoted to the various conspiracy theories. The hosts do concede that they believe the official story is probably mostly what happened.
  • Worth It: In the Casey Anthony series, the hosts tell the story of a man chosen to be a juror in the trial and, wanting no part of it, deliberately spoke to reporters as soon as he could, getting himself thrown off the jury and slapped with Contempt of Court. He proclaimed he had no regrets about this action.