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Podcast / Welcome to Night Vale

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"A friendly desert community where the Sun is hot, the Moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead while we all pretend to sleep. Welcome to Night Vale."
Pilot Introduction

Welcome to Night Vale is a Surreal Humor/Horror Podcast/Radio Drama depicting life in the desert town of Night Vale, a fictional community where the paranormal not only exists, but is a fact of everyday life that the citizens have to deal with in addition to the mundane details of living in a small, isolated town.

Done in a community radio style, the show reports on the various stories around town and the community events happening that week. The host is Cecil, who coolly narrates in a dispassionate manner reminiscent of Garrison Keillor in A Prairie Home Companion. The background music playing throughout the show is composed by Disparition, with the exception of the "Weather" section of the show, which features a different musical guest each episode.

The show treads a fine line between hilarious absurdity and genuine creepiness. Within a flexible format, each broadcast features not only reports on the town, but also Cecil's personal thoughts and experiences. Night Vale is populated by Secret Police, mysterious hooded figures in the town dog park, and just about every possible conspiracy theory come to life. But at the show's core is Night Vale's community, including Cecil's friends and loved ones: such as Intern Dana, who enters the dog park and survives; Old Woman Josie, surrounded by beings who are not angels who're all named Erika; Megan, a schoolgirl whose entire body consists of an adult man's severed hand; and Carlos, Cecil's Love Interest and the town's new Science Hero. The story is very detailed and intricate, and small seeds planted throughout the episodes tend to unfold into important plot elements months or even years later.

The show is produced by Night Vale Presents (formerly known as Commonplace Books) and releases new episodes (roughly 20-30 minutes each) twice a month, on the 1st and the 15th. The cast also tours, performing new episodes (often over an hour) for audiences. The live episodes are available on Bandcamp, for pay-what-you-can.

A Welcome to Night Vale novel was released on October 20, 2015. Chronologically, it is set right before Episode 76 of the podcast, which serves both as an epilogue and a sort of advertisement for the book. A second novel, titled It Devours!, followed on October 17, 2017, and a third, The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, was published on March 26, 2020.

A recap page can be found here that is in desperate need of some Wiki Love. Welcome to Night Vale now has a YouTube channel.

As of 2016, Night Vale is part of the indie podcast network Night Vale Presents, where it shares space with similarly themed sister podcasts, Alice Isn't Dead, Within the Wires and The Orbiting Human Circus (of the Air).

In December 2017, it was announced that FX is looking to adapt the podcast into a TV show. The project is headed by Gennifer Hutchison, best known for her work as producer and writer on Breaking Bad and its spin-off Better Call Saul, while the series creators Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor are attached as executive producers.

This podcast provides examples of:

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    Tropes A - H 
  • Absurdly Ineffective Barricade: Cecil's first move in his war on StrexCorp is to barricade himself inside the studio. A rather magnificent start, so it is unfortunate that Cecil's idea of a barricade is a heap of cardboard signs reading "KEEP OUT!" and "SECRET ROOM!"
  • Absurdly Powerful City Council: They've been in power since the mid-1800s, voting for them is mandatory in every election, and they command the Sheriff's Secret Police. People who defy them are regularly detained for "re-education," or are simply taken in the night, never to be seen again.
  • Adorable Abomination:
    • Khoshekh the cat, which mysteriously appeared in the men's room of the community radio station, levitating in mid-air and permanently suspended at a fixed point. Initially seemed like an adorable side note, until we start to learn some things about Khoshekh. Like how being in his presence seems to make people into cat-lovers, to the point where it drove one woman to have her dog put down so she could adopt several cats. Or how it's impossible to take a picture of Khoshekh, and attempting to do so results in horrible death. Or how his "adorable meow" is a blood-curdling screech. He also gave birth to a litter of kittens despite being male. Those kittens, and presumably Khoshekh, have poisonous spine ridges, venomous fangs, and a "tendril hub."
    • The titular "Visitor" from Visitor is a cybernetic cuddly creature that defies all descriptions, and Cecil fawns over until it latches onto him and tries to drain his blood.
    • A much more extreme example than either is The Good Boy, an adorable beagle puppy who is actually the most dangerous and evil entity in the entire Night Vale universe, and is almost certainly Satan.
  • Affably Evil: Lauren Mallard, the NVCR program director from StrexCorp. She seems to be a genuinely sweet, bubbly young woman, and Cecil describes her as "a delight" and "the kindest, most gentle manager we have ever had at this station" (although, to be fair, that's not saying much). But she takes a rather sinister interest in knowing the names of Cecil's loved ones, which he becomes wary of.
    • Faux Affably Evil: Quickly morphs into this when she's at the head of the hostile corporate take-over of Night Vale by StrexCorp. Arguably the case for Kevin as well.
  • The Ageless: Aging seems to have been an entirely voluntary process in Night Vale, until Episode 156, when time starts functioning "normally" and the whole town starts panicking about growing old.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot
    • In Episode 34, the Wallaby family manages to have the computer ban lifted at Night Vale Elementary for their daughter Megan (who is actually a severed adult male hand). The single computer that the school buys proceeds to take over the town before the hooded janitors pull the plug.
      • Possibly an Inversion, as the computer only wanted to help Megan and make everything better, and later dialogue compare unplugging to "murdering" it.
    • Averted with Fay, the monotone female voice on the Numbers Station, who has apparently recently gained sentience and only wants to be free. She announces from her own radio station that she is going to try to escape and Cecil goes to help her, only to find that she has been reset, and has gone back to being just a computer program. Although "Voicemail" implies that she's either recovering, or faked being reset in the first place.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: There sure are a lot of supernatural things going on in this small desert town.
  • Alien Sky:
    • Desert Bluffs apparently has two suns and never sees nighttime.
    • Night Vale's sky has, for example: colors not generally associated with the sky, or not on the spectrum for that matter; "mysterious lights" in the words of Cecil, which Steve Carlsberg described as arrows; and the occasional dark planet... but seeing that is generally not healthy for the person in question.
    • The alternate Night Vale, underneath lane five of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, has a blank sky with no Sun or Moon, now that Huntokar has ripped it from the rest of the world in an attempt to save it.
  • Alleged Lookalikes: In the live episode "The Debate", it gets quite a laugh from the audience when the Faceless Old Woman remarks on the resemblance between Cecil and Kevin. Cecil Baldwin and Kevin R. Free certainly have similar hairstyles, but that's more or less where the resemblance ends.
    • The episode "Sandstorm" strongly implies that Cecil and Kevin are each other's duplicates, other than Kevin's evil, evil eyes, but nobody ever comments on it after that.
  • All Myths Are True: Though you should probably pretend that they aren't, just in case the Sheriff's Secret Police suddenly decides that believing in them is a punishable offense.
  • Ambiguous Clone Ending:
    • Cecil is never sure whether the Dana that survived the sandstorm is the original or the doppelgänger. As such, she is thereafter referred to as "Intern Dana (or her double)".
    • Cecil himself might be one. His tapes imply he might have been killed and replaced by his reflection.
  • Ambiguously Human: When reporting his producer's death Cecil admits to not knowing whether Daniel identified as human.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Erich von Däniken's theories about the intercession of benign extraterrestrials in mankind's development are accepted knowledge in Night Vale, whereas the concept of evolution and the notion that the pyramids and other ancient structures were built by mere humans are considered fringe beliefs.
  • And I Must Scream: According to Jackie, anyone turned into a Stranger becomes incapable of doing anything but breathing due to the intense amount of pain they are in.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle:
    • Parodied on a segment called "Know Your Choppers" (see Black Helicopter below).
    • Cecil attempts to air a segment on clouds, only to encounter opposition from the Sheriff's Secret Police:
      "Today I'd like to share some fascinating facts about clouds. Clouds are made up of [CENSORED]. Rain clouds are formed when [CENSORED] air. When the density of the humid air, AKA 'the cloud,' becomes [CENSORED] that's when it rains. Lightning is [CENSORED]. And it's important to [CENSORED] can kill you, or at least cause you a great deal of body-altering pain and regret."
  • And That's Terrible: Cecil takes it upon himself to constantly remind listeners that the Apache Tracker, a white guy invoking a Magical Native American schtick, is racist, and a bad person. Until, that is, he dies to save Carlos from the city of tiny people living under Lane 5 of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex... What an asshole.
  • Apathetic Citizens: Cecil calls the citizens of Night Vale out on this in Episode 46. After he tries to rally the town to help take down Strex but only Tamika and the kids following her actually fight, while those townspeople who even showed up just stood and watched as the children were defeated and captured.
  • Appearance Is in the Eye of the Beholder: The Glow Cloud appears to be different shifting colors to each person who views it.
  • Arc Number: The number thirty pops up quite frequently:
    • "History Week" — The position of Mayor is vacant for thirty years.
    • Simone Rigadeau declares the world ended thirty years prior to the start of the show when the Able Archer tests failed.
    • "University of What it Is" — Carlos has been missing from the outside world for thirty years.
    • The 1930's is one of the few major divergences from the real-world timeline, where the Great Depression never happens.
    • Lee Marvin is frozen at the age of thirty.
  • Arc Words: The StrexCorp slogan has appeared twice in the show so far. The first time was in Desert Bluffs in Episode 19B, "The Sandstorm." The second time was in Episode 32, "The Yellow Helicopters," which signals the takeover of the radio station by StrexCorp. (See Path of Inspiration below.) Then Episode 33, "Cassette", repeats several previously-used phrases in a meaningful way:
    • "No [noun] is perfect. They become perfect when you learn to accept them for what they are."
      • The concepts of perfection and imperfection as a whole comes up a lot.
      • In fact, it's one of the main themes of the live episode "Condos".
    • "A dark planet, lit by no sun."
    • "Past performance is not a predictor of future results."
    • "There's a blinking light up on the mountain."
    • "The unraveling of all things" has been brought up by The Faceless Old Woman, the Sheriff's Secret Police's Spokesbeing, and Dana.
    • "A Smiling God" is referenced repeatedly during the StrexCorp arc.
      • Also during the same arc: "I am found". It becomes Tamika Flynn's catchphrase after she goes rogue and starts organizing the town's children into La Résistance. StrexCorp insists they're trying to find her since she's a "lost child", this is her response. It then crops up repeatedly during the fight against Strex.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Occurs in "Homecoming", when Cecil's old classmate asks him what year they graduated in. Cecil is stunned into almost ten seconds worth of dead air when he can't remember the answer.
  • Aroused by Their Voice:
    • Cecil thinks Carlos's voice is like caramel and bemoans the fact that while he's at work, "It would be completely inappropriate for me to answer my phone regardless of how much I want to soak my ears in the oaky tones of our community’s most significant outsider."note  He also describes himself as having a "Smooth, sonorous voice."note 
    • In "Rumbling", Carlos affectionately says Cecil "Has the best voice of them all". In "Voicemail", he calls him "Honey-voiced honey".
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Of a sort:
    Cecil: The Sheriff's Secret Police are searching for a fugitive by the name of Hiram McDaniels. Mr. McDaniels is described as a five-headed dragon approximately 18-feet-tall, with mostly green eyes, and weighing 3,600 pounds. He is suspected of insurance fraud.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • Intern Vithya is engulfed in black light and starts to levitate before vanishing into thin air. Everyone assumes she went straight to Heaven.
    • About halfway through "The Debate", Marcus Vansten is called upon by angels to serve a great cause, starts levitating, then transforms into an angel and vanishes.
  • Auction of Evil: The Sheriff's Secret Police hold an auction of seized goods, including an original X-Men comic, a glowing coin, and one community radio host.
  • Audience Participation: Common in the live shows, to various degrees.
    • Played with in "Old Oak Doors Part B". Cecil starts the audience chanting, and then immediately tells them that they stop, "Not because they do not care, but because they are people that are far away and not part of this story." and it's silly for the live audience to chant the same thing as the fictional Night Vale citizens.
      • And from the same episode, there's the mayoral elections, the citizens of Night Vale (and the audience) were encouraged to raise their hands to vote (Night Vale has cameras everywhere), but it doesn't really matter - since the mayor is chosen by interpreting the pulses coming from Hidden Gorge.
  • Badass Bookworm: 12-year-old Tamika Flynn, who defeated the Librarians in "Summer Reading Program" by reading advanced level books such as Cry, the Beloved Country. From Episode 35, Tamika and the other Summer Reading Program survivor kids formed an army to fight against StrexCorp.
  • Badass Creed: StrexCorp's slogan, although in a highly disturbing way.
    Look around you: Strex. Look inside you: Strex. Go to sleep: Strex. Believe in a Smiling God. StrexCorp. It is everything.
    • Even more badass is the creed of Tamika Flynn's army of well-read children, in direct reply of the Strex motto.
    "We do not look around. We do not look inside. We do not sleep. Our god is not a Smiling God. And we are ready for this war."
  • Bad Boss: Cecil's sinister, otherworldly bosses at the radio station. They're possibly related to (or are) the mysterious hooded figures around town that no one can look at or acknowledge.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The Sheriff's Secret Police are on the lookout for Hiram McDaniels, a five-headed, 18-foot-tall, fire-breathing dragon with "mostly green" eyes. Why? He committed insurance fraud.
    • Episode 19B starts out making it look like Desert Bluffs is idyllic in comparison to Night Vale, albeit practically owned by StrexCorp. Then Cecil enters their radio station and describes the decor.
  • Bait-and-Switch Comment:
    • "Friends, listeners, there's a real tarantula problem here in Night Vale! Many residents have called in to report illiteracy, unwanted pregnancy, and violent crime are on the rise in the tarantula communities." (Carrying this thing as far as it can possibly go, the name of the campaign this is a PSA for is: "Teach a spider to read: stop the madness.")
    • "It takes heart. It takes guts. It also takes cash. It just needs your payment immediately."
  • Barrier Maiden: Old Woman Josie seems to be one, ominously commenting that if she falls, so does the town.
  • Batman Gambit: Janice, surprisingly, puts together a plan to steal the Registry of Middle School Crushes from City Council. Her plan, according to her uncle Cecil, is to use the various skills of a ragtag group of accomplices, consisting of Old Woman Josie (and her tall friends named Erika), her mother Abby, her stepfather Steve Carlsberg, and her other (unofficial) uncle, Carlos.
    • However, her actual plan didn't involve them at all. Her actual plan was to hide in City Council until her uncle (the one with the radio show and the knack for telling stories) told the entire town her "plan". She then counted on City Council doing their civic duty and believing everything they hear on the radio, rushing into the archives to catch the intruders, while she followed behind to steal the Registry right under their noses.
  • Beleaguered Bureaucrat: The given explanation for why Night Vale got $1 billion from FEMA for a massive earthquake that never happened. Apparently, the folks at FEMA just read their seismographs and assumed Night Vale had just had a massive earthquake based on their readings. Of course, Night Vale has non-existent earthquakes all the time, so no one is particularly bothered.
    • It actually comes at a helpful time, though, as Night Vale had just come under attack by wheat and wheat by-products.
  • Beneath the Earth: Apparently the local bowling alley contains the entrance to a vast underground empire.
    "Speaking of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, its owner, Teddy Williams, reports that he has found the entrance to a vast underground city in the pin retrieval area of Lane 5. He said he has not yet ventured into it, merely peered down at its strange spires and broad avenues. He also reports voices of a distant crowd in the depths of that subterranean metropolis. Apparently, the entrance was discovered when a bowling bowl accidentally rolled into it, clattering down the city below, with sounds that echoed for miles across the impossibly huge cavern... so, you know, whatever population that city has, they know about us now, and we might be hearing from them soon."
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: After losing the mayoral election, Hiram McDaniels and The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home join forces for revenge.
  • Big Good: The angels qualify, being one of the few benign supernatural forces in Night Vale and perhaps the only benevolent one.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: After a lot of tension, Cecil and Carlos finally get one in "First Date". Although it's in private, and over very quickly.
  • Bigger on the Inside;
    • The office occupied by Station Management is apparently too large to actually be contained by the building that houses Night Vale Community Radio.
    • In Episode 30, Intern Dana (or her double) states that "If you stand still, the dog park seems to take up a single city block", yet she was able to walk in a straight line for about two weeks inside.
    • Episode 70B brings us a stretch limo that can apparently hold an entire afterparty with dozens of people. And some not-angels.
  • Big "NO!": When the Whispering Forest appears in Night Vale, officials from the town's Parks Department react with a press release consisting of "The word 'no' on a single piece of paper, but with hundreds of Os and maybe two dozen Ns."
  • Bilingual Bonus;
    • Cecil speaks a bit of Spanish in Episode 6. ("¡Muchas gracias, El Presidente! Mano dura, cabeza, y corazón," meaning, "Thanks, President! Firm hand, head, and heart.") There's a lot of Russian later on, when the Apache Tracker mysteriously becomes actually Native American and only capable of speaking in Russian, which Cecil often quotes verbatim.
    • The Morse code from Episode 46, "Parade Day", has been translated as 'Tamika needs you', 'Radon Canyon in 2 hours', 'Go to Radon Canyon', 'Now, now, now' and in the credits, 'Fall 2015'.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Episode 49, "Old Oak Doors" - the citizens of Night Vale are freed from StrexCorp and the Smiling God, and Intern Dana returns home and is elected mayor... but Carlos is still trapped in the other desert.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: Kevin. Several people including Cecil have commented on his horrible eyes, most notably the Whispering Forest, which was encouraging him to join them, until they saw his eyes, at which point they begged him to leave.
  • Black Helicopter: Regularly spotted over Night Vale, though they aren't all black.
    "Let's talk about safety when taking your children out to play in the Scrublands and the Sand Wastes. You need to give them plenty of water, make sure there's a shade tree in the area, and keep an eye on the helicopter colors. Are the unmarked helicopters circling the area black? Probably World Government; not a good area for play that day. Are they blue? That's the Sheriff's Secret Police; they'll keep a good eye on your kids, and hardly ever take one. Are they painted with complex murals depicting birds of prey diving? No one know what those helicopters are, or what they want. Do not play in the area."
    • Episode 32 sees the arrival of swarms of yellow helicopters, from StrexCorp.
      • Which are then stolen by Tamika Flynn and her army of children in Episode 46.
  • The Blank: There is a Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home. Despite having no face she can see and speak, and would like to know your wifi password.
    • She's also running for Mayor against Hiram McDaniels.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • A lot of the press releases Cecil is given fall under this trope, without even a credible attempt at a cover-up... although you'd never know it from the tenor of Cecil's reaction. The most blatant lies of all, where it's clear even Cecil doesn't believe the words that are coming out of his mouth, are at the end of Episode 32, when it becomes obvious that a StrexCorp agent is telling him what to say. In subsequent episodes where Strex is in control Cecil sounds increasingly snarky and nasty, letting you know that he knows what he is saying is bullshit.
    • More generally, when has the weather section ever actually been a report on the weather?
  • Blunt "Yes": "Alligators. Can they kill your children? Yes."
  • Body Horror:
    • It's not unheard of for Night Vale residents to grow new eyes (at least one person has eight), or win "prizes" like surgically-applied, working gills.
    • The mayor is seen to be melting at one press conference, and is mentioned another time to have more than two arms.
    • One woman explodes into a fine white dust during a public poetry reading and then floats down and settles on the heads of the crowd. Cecil at least finds this beautiful and moving rather than repulsive.
    • At least two "Community Health Tips" instruct the listener in graphic detail how to 1.) skin yourself alive and 2.) remove, cook, and eat your own heart.
    • It's been mentioned at least twice that the hearts of Night Vale citizens are full of straw and insects.
    • Once the broadcast announced that following the news is the sound of someone chewing up glass shards.
    • The Whispering Forest lures hypnotized people into wanting to stay there and then slowly turns their bodies into a wood-like substance so they become part of the forest.
    • There is an outbreak of people's skin becoming covered with 15-inch-long spiralling horns.
    • A senior football player grows a second head and his mother has the first head removed because she likes the new one better.
    • A woman gives birth to a disembodied grown man's hand. The hand is alive and sentient and the loving parents decide that it's a daughter and name her Megan.
  • Bookends: The one-year anniversary episode, Episode 25, has a lot of Callbacks to the pilot. It mentions and incorporates many plotlines that were first introduced back then. It's most obvious in Cecil's opening lines for the episode.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Hiram McDaniels says in a campaign ad that he cares about small business owners, the future of our children, and the future of our small children business owners.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: Common in lists, such as the council's statement that removing "the Shape in Grove Park that No-One Acknowledges or Speaks About" will free space for "a new swing set, picnic area, and bloodstone circle". News items often start out with a mundane situation that soon descends into sinister madness.
    • It later develops that bloodstone circles are prayer areas — Tamika Flynn sets one up as part of her resistance movement — and bloodstone is apparently just that, although you never can be too sure.
  • Breather Episode: Episode 50, "Capital Campaign," which serves as a return to Night Vale-level normalcy following the drama of the StrexCorp story.
  • Breathless Non Sequitur: According to Episode 3, Cecil is battling Lyme disease, which he mentions offhand while simultaneously discussing a "creeping fear" which temporarily afflicted the entire town as well as his life-threatening contract negotiations.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The commercial airliner in the pilot episode may have returned to crash through the house of one of the Night Vale residents.
    • An entire episode consists of a giant brick joke: In Episode 16, "The Phone Call," Cecil reads off a list which the Sheriff's Secret Police urge the listener to memorize. Most listeners would write it off as a one-time bit of no real consequence, but in Episode 57, "The List," released nearly two years later, Night Vale is in imminent danger which can only be averted through knowledge of the list. At the end of the episode, though, it turns out it was all a drill and there was no real danger.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: For some reason, Cecil is the only person who can acknowledge or speak about the Shape in Grove Park that No One Acknowledges or Speaks About. This causes it to get very upset, and Cecil eventually has to voluntarily pretend it doesn't exist to placate it. Likewise, he constantly talks about the dog park and the angels, which the City Council has repeatedly permitted no one to acknowledge or speak about.
    • If the cassette tapes in Episode 33 are to be believed, he's also been aware of the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home since childhood. Assuming, of course, that he's not seeing something worse...
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": In Night Vale, a cat is a small, deadly creature with tendrils, poisonous spine ridges, and venom sacs in their mouths. The last two develop when the cat reaches adulthood. However, like the cats we know, Night Vale cats use litter boxes, and they look feline enough that Cecil can identify cute cat videos on the internet.
    • Additionally, an "antique" is a deadly creature that can transform anyone it bites into another antique, and a "nutmeg" is a tasty creature that must be de-veined before use.
    • Librarians are only partially humanoid at best, what little description we get of them establishes them as giant masses of shadows with giant mouths and pale white tentacles covered with a poisonous secretion.
  • Canon Discontinuity: "Condos", the episode performed live at the SF Booksmith is only ambiguously canon, as it features a Time Skip forward to a time when Carlos has been with Cecil long enough to suggest they move in together. (Cecil, of course, says yes.) Cranor and Fink have not ruled out incorporating this into the canon plotline eventually, but for now it's a miniature Alternate Universe.
    • As of "Numbers", with its mention that the condo rental office is still "bubbling black like a pot of boiling squid ink" in the abandoned gas station on Oxford Street, it would seem that "Condos" (the official release) is canon.
  • Cassandra Truth: After a long debate at the radio station as to whether or not mountains exist, one mountain-believer apparently had to resort to driving his opponents - including Cecil - out to see an actual mountain in order to show proof. Cecil, however, is still hesitant to believe that there is more than one mountain, believing that the one he saw may have been put there specifically to prove the existence of mountains. Given Night Vale, he could be right.
    • Steve Carlsberg, who, for some reason, is capable of seeing glowing symbols in the sky that reveal secret information about the workings of the world. No one listens to him because the information he receives is illegal in Night Vale, and everyone else who dares to acknowledge it is killed or brainwashed. For example, he actually knows the name of the Vague Yet Menacing Government Agency, as well as its inner workings. Steve isn't sure why he's allowed to get away with talking about it, though.
  • Catchphrase:
  • Central Theme: Community.
    • Even if the various citizens disagree, or outright menace each other, Night Vale is still a group of people committed to getting through their imperfect lives as best they can with their fellow citizens.
  • Cerebus Callback: An early episode has the throw-away line, "As my mother always told me: One day someone is going to kill you, Cecil. And it will involve a mirror." Objectively a disturbing statement, but (like most things on the show) funny because of the delivery. And then a few episodes later we get to hear recordings he apparently made when he was a teenager (but now has no memory of), and the tape seems to end with 15-year-old Cecil being killed by some supernatural entity that came out of his mirror. Present-day Cecil is understandably freaked out and destroys the tape.
    • It's becoming increasingly common for the show to bring back comedic one-off lines and make them plot-relevant. For example, during "A Memory of Europe", Simone Rigadeau - the transient living in the Earth Sciences Building of Night Vale Community College, released a statement that the world ended "three or four decades ago". It was played for laughs then - but [Best Of?] revealed that she might be right.
  • Chekhov's Gun: More like Chekov's Kittens. Taking pictures of the stray cats. Established over a year before firing in Episode 48.
    • Also the list of seemingly random items that was given out by the Secret Police for summary memorization to grant protection from something. Fired over 2 years later in Episode 57, aptly titled "The List". It was just a drill, fortunately for everyone that forgot it.
    • Cecil's being auctioned off in Episode 37. The gun doesn't fire until over a year later in Episode 63 when Cecil, after having saved Dana's life several times without his remembering doing so, wonders if Dana was the one who bought him.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The Man in the Tan Jacket was introduced in Episode 14 and made various appearances for almost three years until his backstory drove the plot of the novel, and we finally get some answers. We still don't know his real name though.
  • Circus of Fear: In A Carnival Comes to Town, in which... a carnival comes to town. Cecil clearly distrusts them and finds them... disturbing. Ultimately subverted. When the Nightvalians drove them out of town, it becomes apparent that it was just a regular carnival. It comes down to Cecil's natural, locally grown xenophobic tendencies, and his talent for making even a mundane thing sound terrifying.
  • Close-Knit Community: Judging from Cecil's depiction of the townsfolk assembling to celebrate their survival after "Street Cleaning Day."
  • Comically Missing the Point: A common theme of the show, since most people in Night Vale are so desensitized to the weird paranormal happenings of the town that they'll instead focus on details of the story so mundane as to be irrelevant.
    "The 'Apache Tracker', and I remind you, that this is that white guy who wears the large and cartoonishly inaccurate Indian headdress... has announced that he has found some disturbing evidence concerning the recent incident at the Night Vale Post Office, which has been sealed by the City Council since the great screaming that was heard from it a few weeks ago. He said that using 'ancient Indian magics', he slipped through Council security into the Post Office and observed that all the letters and packages had been thrown about as in a whirlwind. That there was the heavy stench of scorched flesh. That the words written on the wall in blood read 'More come' and 'Soon'... can you believe this guy said he used 'Indian magics'? What an asshole."
    • Carlos leaves several messages for Cecil, clearly disturbed that none of the clocks in Night Vale are real and are instead filled with a mysterious grey substance, as well as by the mysterious appearance of the Man in the Tan Jacket at his house. He ends the last message with a request to meet up with Cecil to get some phone numbers. Cecil's response?
      Cecil: Did you hear that, listeners? A date!
    • In Episode 4, "PTA Meeting," the council decides something needs doing with the lead-plated door they found in Radon Canyon. The door emits green light and hums, and is covered in bright emblems spelling "DANGER. PLUTONIUM. DO NOT OPEN DOOR. RISK OF DEATH."; the council motions that the door must go, because the signs are an eyesore and the plating could give somebody lead poisoning.
    • From Episode 19A, "The Sandstorm":
      "Old Woman Josie has not called, but Intern Dana said that Old Woman Josie updated her Facebook page with an Instagram of some runestones. Dana has been furiously translating these symbols, and her best guess is that they say ‘They come in twos. You come in twos. You and you. Kill your double.’ There’s also a link to this amazing cat that keeps jumping in and out of boxes and oh my god, that is the cutest thing I have ever seen. Dana, you have got to post that on my wall. Oh my God, he loves those boxes so much!" (A Shout-Out to Maru)
    • In Episode 31, "A Blinking Light Up on the Mountain," Cecil starts out by reporting on the existence of the titular red light, returns to the topic to talk more about the mountain rising from the alluvial flood plain, brings it up again to describe the bone-strewn muddy plain being traversed by the masked army in greater detail, and finally notes that, oh yeah, Night Vale is being approached by a menacing masked army.
    • In "Things Fall Apart" Michelle Ngyuen was aware of every aspect of how Maureen was leading the invasion of Strangers. Rather than being furious about her friend endangering the town she sees Maureen's love of country music as her biggest flaw. Cecil also acts like Maureen's career advancement is more notable than how she achieved that position.
  • Completely Off-Topic Report: Cecil tends to get off-topic rather easily during his reports, especially when talking about his beloved Carlos.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: Cecil doesn't see why everything should come to a halt for every unexplained phenomenon that kills people, and thinks it's the prerogative of government to read people's minds, control the weather, and cause "helpful" pandemics. Also:
    "I know for some of you young people, this lottery seems like a barbarous, outdated tradition, but, if not for a municipally planned citizen sacrifice each quarter, how else would we find satisfactory meats to feed those sad, scrawny animals?"
    "If daily life in Night Vale were to be put on hold every single time the town experienced an inexplicable phenomenon that resulted in the death of at least one citizen, we'd never have time to get anything done."
  • Con Man:
    • Louie Blasco offered bluegrass lessons at $50 each. However, Louie's Music Shop burned down years ago and Louie skipped town with the insurance check shortly thereafter, so anyone interested was instructed to go sit in what remains of the shop and imagine he was teaching them.
    • Leanne Hart from the Night Vale Daily Journal is also suspect, as the distribution plant burned down in a suspicious accident, and she's prone to coming up with ideas like an "imagination edition" of the paper for $60/month, while possibly throwing herself lavish birthday parties.
    • John Peters - you know, the farmer - receives a grant for $500,000 for his failed peach orchard and crop of imaginary corn, so it's either this or Incompetence, Inc.
  • Conspiracy Kitchen Sink: It's openly acknowledged that there's a world government, that the government created AIDS, that it can read your mind, and so on.
    • In Episode 29, Cecil notes that the earthquake he experiences "doesn't feel like a normal government-created earthquake," which alarms him.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Steve Carlsberg, who writes in to Cecil's show trying to expose various conspiracies. However, Cecil seems to treat the existence of almost any possible conspiracy as common knowledge and also a good thing, and scoffs at Steve for only just catching on and getting all upset about it.
    • Double Subversion. Steve Carlsberg really does know secret information about the workings of the world, but no one will listen to him — not because he isn't correct, but because that information is banned and all Night Vale citizens are conditioned to hate anyone who tries to spread illegal information.
  • Continuity Nod: In Episode 56, among the stories shared among residents in the wake of the cancelled Homecoming, is the news that Amber and Wilson — who had an intense meeting in the aftermath of Street Cleaning Day in Episode 15, but had not been mentioned since — had taken a trip to Luftnarp (itself a minor continuity nod to Episode 21) together the previous spring.
  • Cozy Voice for Catastrophes: Cecil's calm and measured diction describing the many horrors and terrors in Night Vale.
    • Disturbingly averted in Episode 39, where Cecil's voice becomes distorted and horrifying while under the influence of the Woman from Italy.
  • Crapsaccharine World: On the surface, Desert Bluffs appears to be a much more cheery town than Night Vale, but that only makes the occasional references to Desert Bluffs' dark side even creepier. And then you find out everything is either covered in or made out of viscera.
  • Crazy-Prepared: When Night Vale is threatened by a plague of "wheat and wheat by-products", it turns out that the City Council already had a bunker built for that specific purpose. When asked why there was already such a bunker, the Council replied only, "Prophecy."
    • Also, Cecil seems to have earned a lot of merit badges from back when he was a Cub Scout. Among those mentioned are Subversive Radio Broadcasting and Siege Warfare.
  • Creator Cameo: Carlos's first audio appearance is voiced by series writer Jeffrey Cranor, in a series of voicemails during Episode 16.
  • Creepy Child: The City Council has apparently started passing press releases to Cecil in the form of dead-eyed, blond children with the messages tattooed on their inner lips (though the last one was faceless with messy brown hair.). Cecil's quite unsettled by them, and doesn't even know if they're sentient.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Steve Carlsberg of all people in the two-year anniversary show, "Old Oak Doors".
  • Cult: "The Friendly Desert Community" of Night Vale was founded by 18th century religious leaders, wearing "soft meat crowns".
  • Curse Cut Short: Cecil does try to keep his language restrained, but thankfully this trope came into effect the one time he slipped up.
    You come here, you son of a– [Cue the weather]
  • Cuteness Overload: Cecil is very prone to this reaction, be it a cute cat video, Khoshekh, or the thing in "Visitor" which reduced him to babbling and Squee with its mere presence until it attacked that is.
  • Dada Ad: Whenever Cecil starts to say "And now a word from one of our sponsors...", expect this. Or Cecil simply making weird noises for several seconds.
    • "And now, a word from our sponsors. That word is carp!"
  • Darkest Hour:
    • Episode 47 in its entirety. Cecil is nowhere to be seen. Carlos is now trapped in the house that does not exist since his scientists have been arrested. Tamika has been captured. Lauren and Kevin have taken over the radio station and re-decorated it to make it "more like home." And to add insult to injury, the citizens of Night Vale have now been herded into an "eternal picnic" (or rather, internment camp) where they are to stay and work, and never leave. Night Vale has also become a part of the Greater Desert Bluffs Metropolitan Area.
    • Topped with the two-part season 4 finale. The Good Boy has taken over the town, along with his army of Strangers, and confirms that he is Satan, and that the Strangers are former humans, twisted beyond recognition by torture in the caverns of Hell. His only desire is to destroy everything. He cannot be reasoned with, for reasons are among the things he seeks to destroy. The Community Calendar says simply that the entire week has been cancelled, and the horoscopes say only that "the stars have gone silent" — either to protect us from the knowledge of what will happen, or because even they don't know. Even after The Good Boy retreats and the Strangers are restored to human form, nobody is sure how they were defeated, and it's heavily implied that there isn't a reason, and they could return just as suddenly and without reason at any moment.
    • And even that is topped by Episode 110. The collapse of reality, initiated by Huntokar altering time to save Night Vale from nuclear war in 1983, is completing itself. The sky has been replaced by a giant hole. The five-headed dragons are rampaging and setting the city on fire. Most of the few people left in Night Vale have given up on the town, and are retreating into visions from more pleasant alternate realities. The situation gets so dire that, for the first time in the series, Cecil almost doesn't bother with the Weather report and simply signs off "Goodbye, Night Vale" rather than his usual "Good night". Fortunately, he comes up with an idea immediately after.
  • Dark Horse Victory: The new mayor ends up being Intern Dana, despite not being a candidate. Though Night Vale does not actually choose due to votes (despite everyone voting anyway), but by the pulses coming from Hidden Gorge.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • In Episode 16, The Man in the Tan Jacket isn't evil, despite what he does to Carlos's memory.
    • In Episode 25, Carlos's speech in the Arby's parking lot demonstrates that he's accepted this trope applies to Night Vale.
    • In Episode 32, the angels try to conceal Josie in darkness so that Strex won't find her, and Intern Vithya disappears in a flash of black light, presumably a result of angelic intervention.
      • The angels in general seem to be associated with black lights/glowing.
    • Overall, the entire city of Night Vale and their mysterious "Masters of Us All" have this as a recurring motif. The town is associated with night-time (duh), the Moon, the void, mysterious lights in the dark sky, hooded figures, hidden secrets, etc. This forms a nice juxtaposition with Desert Bluffs' Light Is Not Good tendencies, below.
    "The darkness of Night Vale is washing away. And what are we, Night Vale, without darkness? Without shadows? Without secrets?"
    • Which isn't to say dark is good, but at least it is more permissive and less immediately hazardous than Light. (Plus the fact that even in a nice desert town, the daylight hours are blazing hot much of the time, and that light is definitely not good.)
  • A Day in the Limelight: There have been a few episodes that focus on the lives of random town citizens, like "A Story About You", "A Story About Them" and "The September Monologues". They're usually marked by being several degrees weirder than the normal episode.
  • Deadly Dust Storm: One episode deals with a sandstorm descending on Night Vale (and Desert Bluffs) which, in addition to causing considerable damage to the town, seems to create duplicates of all the inhabitants.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cecil, with a heavy emphasis on the "deadpan". It's hard to say exactly when he's being sarcastic, but it's clear he does engage in snark.
  • Deconstruction: Night Vale itself receives a huge one in "The September Monologues" during Steve Carlsberg's part. It shows how the Cozy Catastrophe feel of the town comes from a majority of the townspeople being brainwashed with propaganda and how horrifying it is to be the Only Sane Man in that situation. Cecil receives a very jarring one as well in that same episode. According to Steve Carlsberg's perspective, Cecil hates him because he doesn't want Steve to expose Janice to his subversive ideas.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: In Episode 36. As per the trope, it's done by a child. However, it's not so harmless: Tamika Flynn takes down one of Strex's helicopters.
  • Disposable Intern: It's a Running Gag that the interns are sent out to investigate things that are unnatural even by Night Vale's standards and won't live past an episode. The only exceptions are Intern Dana (or her double) who spends her time reporting back from in Night Vale's worst Eldritch Abomination invested locations or flicking in and out of existence with no escape in sight until being elected mayor, Intern Maureen who spent a good deal of time blinking in and out of existence like Dana and main character Cecil himself when he was a teen. Who even then, was implied to have died and been brought back somehow. It's worth noting the official Welcome To Night Vale radio intern shirts are red.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When he learns Carlos got a haircut, Cecil flies into a rage and gives out the name, address and description of the barber responsible so Carlos's perfect locks can be avenged. It eventuates that the barber was driven from the town into the desert, and now maintains a parody of his old life trimming the spines on cacti and gibbering to himself.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Cecil's calm dictation of the monsters and horrors the town lives with. It appears that Night Vale is simply used to them, like traffic jams or rain.
    • Everything and everyone who comes from StrexCorp. Their cheery euphemisms, constant smiling, and generally overly-saccharine mannerisms make the terrible, bloody, awful things they do significantly more horrifying that the standard Night Vale weirdness.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: At the end of Carlos and Cecil's first date, Cecil talks about deciding who's going to submit the governmental end-of-date report in a way that sounds similar to deciding on "your place or mine", and then says something about going with Carlos to look at Carlos's scientific equipment... but he doesn't, Carlos kisses him goodnight and goes into his lab alone.
    • "Sometimes things seem so strange... and then you find that underneath it was something else altogether. Something pure and innocent." That's what Carlos eventually says about the bizarre things that occur in Night Vale, but it sounds like what someone might say when coming to terms with their first crush on someone of the same sex. This is definitely intentional, since Carlos says this at the end of One Year Later, right before he and Cecil become the Official Couple. We don't know whether or not Carlos knew he was gay or bisexual before One Year Later, but this line makes it sound like that might be the case.
      • Another interpretation of Carlos's lines, if you don't think he was concerned about Cecil's gender, is to take them as further proof that Cecil is not 100% human, and just hasn't thought to mention it because either he doesn't know, or it's completely normal in Night Vale (probably both). The only description of Cecil we have is that he looks like Kevin, and Kevin has gaping black holes where his eyes are. The only person who seems startled by this in the scene they are described is Cecil, and, for some very disturbing reasons, it's been years since Cecil has looked in a mirror. Carlos seems to be describing thinking both the town and also Cecil were a little terrifying, before getting to know them, and if Cecil had some sort of strange Night Vale-esque feature, like say glowing purple eyes or something, that might explain why Carlos was a little stand-offish at first.
  • Downer Ending:
    • In Episode 42: "Numbers", Cecil is unable to free Fey, who turns out to be a computer program and remains trapped at WZZZ reciting numbers for a Numbers Station in monotone against her will, possibly forever.
    • "Parade Day" features Tamika Flynn and her army attempting to rally Night Vale to join them in overthrowing StrexCorp, only to fail and be arrested. The episode ends with Cecil's barricaded-shut recording booth being infiltrated by Lauren and another StrexCorp employee (heavily implied to be Kevin, Cecil's Desert Bluffs counterpart), cutting off halfway through the sounds of a struggle.
    • Episode 64: Early in the episode, Cecil talks happily about the watercolor painting he made of Carlos. When the Glow Cloud rampages through Night Vale, part of Cecil's studio is damaged and the painting is destroyed. Cecil tries to play it off as no big deal, but he's obviously very upset, and he sounds legitimately depressed for the last few minutes of the episode.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: While the content has stayed mostly consistent, for the first few episodes Cecil's innocence wasn't as evident from his tone, and he could easily be read as a Card-Carrying Villain taking part in Evil Gloating. His status was probably more clearly defined when Station Management threatened to kill him, and it was clear that he was as much a victim of Night Vale as everyone else.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Year 3, BOY HOWDY. After a year of Cecil growing increasingly more depressed, unhappy, and discontent to the point of nearly leaving town, a misunderstanding that nearly cost him a close friendship, and desperately missing Carlos, everything is resolved in one night. Carlos returns to stay, Cecil and Dana's friendship is on the mend, Night Vale has a wonderful new opera house, and Hiram is finally jailed for his crimes (except for Violet.) The only person left unhappy is Kevin.
  • Earth Drift: Early episodes seem to place Night Vale in our world, with all the differences from reality being contained in within the town, even larger geographic differences, like the existence of certain states or European countries, seem to only supply to people from Night Vale and return to the state of the real world as soon as a person leaves the influence of the town. Later, however, differences start showing up even outside of the Night Vale influence. Most notably in the novel The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, where it's revealed that the title character was born in Europe and didn't set foot in Night Vale until she was very very old. And her adventures take her to several of the fictional countries mentioned in the podcast, which are acknowledged and visited by people from real world countries like Spain or Italy. It turns out that while Night Vale is a center for supernatural weirdness, the rest of the world isn't that completely normal either.
  • Eldritch Abomination:
    • Implied with the hooded figures around town.
    • Cecil's station management, who never leave their office until Cecil encourages the listeners to write in to support his continued employment (and possibly continued existence). He comes to regret this when they emerge.
    • The subway system, which appeared suddenly and mysteriously. This one is more ambiguous, since the Man in the Tan Jacket, who for all his weirdness appears to be a good guy, advocated for its reopening; perhaps it was supposed to do good things, but malfunctioned.
    • Librarians.
    • The Smiling God.
  • Eldritch Location: Night Vale itself, due to it playing host to various paranormal happenings, government conspiracies, and alien visitors.
    • And if Cecil's shocked description of what he saw is accurate, so is the viscera-covered Desert Bluffs.
    • The subway tunnels, its bizarre geometry leaving its commuters... changed. If they come out at all.
    • More specifically, the Dog Park, which only takes up a city block, yet goes on forever.
    • The other-wordly desert has mysterious old oak doors with bronze handles that lead to other worlds, and a mountain with a light house on it that you cannot walk away from.
    • In the novel, King City, which makes Night Vale look like Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
  • Election Day Episode: In the episode "Old Oak Doors", the B-Plot is the resolution of the ongoing mayoral election between the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home and Hiram McDaniels, who is literally a five headed dragon.
  • Elephant in the Room:
    • Any number of sinister and possibly fatal things that the City Council, the Sheriff's Secret Police and others with weight to throw around demand the people of Night Vale ignore and never discuss.
    • The mysterious hooded figures who gather in a number of places, especially the Dog Park. There's even a parade where the locals impersonate some of their favorites, including one who openly steals babies, and everyone stands by and lets him do it without knowing why.
    • The Shape in Grove Park that No-One Acknowledges or Speaks About, which makes it difficult to discuss why the Council is removing it, or even to discuss it at all.
  • Epic Fail: After Pamela Winchell retires from the position of mayor, she takes up several hobbies which go horribly wrong. Her attempt at birdwatching somehow causes massive fires, tropical fishing results in a flash flood, and her coin collecting crashes the economy, just to name a few. Even Cecil and other locals find all this both astonishing and alarming.
    • Gone Horribly Right: Her mass poisoning demonstration, naturally, goes off exactly as planned.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: The majority of the townsfolk, at the urging of the secret police, do not believe in mountains. (This is often mentioned in the same breath as the similar disbelief in angels, which if anything is even more absurd, since a given resident will encounter angels far more often than mountains.)
    • Even after seeing one mountain in the other world, Dana isn't convinced that other mountains exist since after all, a single mountain is no evidence for the existence of more.
    • Cecil has never heard of "Mitchigan," "Allah-bahma," or "Oheeo" before, but he's pretty sure those aren't states.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Cecil's horrified reaction to the blood-and-guts covered recording booth in Desert Bluffs really gives perspective to how horrible it must be, since he is used to regularly reporting on awful situations and gruesome deaths (including but not limited to: ritual sacrifice, vaporization, and being eaten by dinosaurs).
  • Everyone Is Armed: Even the elementary school students. Granted, this is necessary for survival in Night Vale.
  • Everyone Knows Morse: Subverted in Episode 46. Cecil uses Morse code to call everyone in town to aid in Tamika Flynn's revolution, but no one helps. Of course, it could also just be a straight case of Apathetic Citizens...
  • Evil, Inc.: StrexCorp Synernists Incorporated, which controls Desert Bluffs. They essentially act as the Mirror Universe version of the City Council. As of Episode 32, they've begun to take over Night Vale, starting with buying out the radio station.
    • To a lesser extent, Egemony and Kellogs.
  • Exact Words: The Strangers and the Beagle Puppy want absolutely nothing, by which they mean they want there to be absolutely nothing.
  • Existential Horror: Part of the everyday life in Night Vale, where the nature and the rules of existence can change so fast, that you never can be quite sure if you are going to completely stop existing tomorrow and nobody will ever notice you are missing, or if you actually ever existed before today and just instantly came into being out of thin air with a prefabricated past, or if you have a perfect double somewhere in town who is eager to kill you and take over your life without anyone noticing.
  • Expanded Universe: While the main canon is delivered through a semi-monthly podcast, the canon has expanded out to live stage productions in a traveling theater show, as well as a novel. Among other plot points, the novel contains the only resolution to the story of "The Man in the Tan Jacket" who had been introduced and was a regular mysterious figure on the podcast for several episodes.
  • Famed in Story: Played with as far as Carlos the scientist is concerned. Every time Cecil mentions him, he always describes Carlos as being magnificently handsome, talks about his perfect hair, and at one point tries to hold a ceremony naming him as Night Vale's most important citizen. Due to the paranormal nature of the show, it's not clear if this is some mysterious effect Carlos is having on everyone, if Cecil and the population of Night Vale just develop unnatural obsessions with random individuals, or if Carlos is just really that good looking. It's implied that the townsfolk are at least as enamored with Carlos' hair as Cecil, driving Barber Telly out of town for cutting it. Old Woman Josie has also described Carlos as "perfect", adding that he "smells like lavender chewing gum".
  • Fastball Special: Leann Hart does this with Sarah Sultan, president of Night Vale Community College, to take out some Strex workers. It works because Sarah is a smooth, fist-sized river rock.
  • Fauxlosophic Narration: A lot of the things Cecil says qualify by virtue of having nothing to do with the plot or anything else. However, they are sometimes interesting bits of philosophy.
  • Feel No Pain: One of the health PSAs mentions off-handedly that 53% of Night Vale residents were born without pain receptors.
  • Fictional Country: All the European countries Cecil mentions having travelled to in college. At least one of them was probably a Lotus-Eater Machine.
  • First Kiss: Carlos kisses Cecil for the first time in Episode 27.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Cecil is usually a passive observer of events, sometimes to the point of being distressed by his own inability or failure to act.
    • In Episode 36, he outright tells people he can't give them all the answers - it's up to them to find out for themselves, and fight. He obviously supports the resistance against Strex but, by his own admission, his hands are tied by policy and Station Management a lot of the time.
    • In Episode 42, "Numbers", Cecil takes an active role in the plot.
      • In "Condos", he runs from his microphone to pull Carlos out of his black cube moments before they all descend into the earth, taking their occupants with them to never be seen again.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Angels are not to be considered real due to local laws, which characters uphold even when holding a conversation with them.
  • Flock of Wolves: As of Episode 61, "BRINY DEPTHS", it is revealed that every single citizen of Night Vale is actually a Vaguely Menacing Shadowy Government Agency agent, observing everybody else, waiting to go into action. Their activation phrase is the same, so once everybody is activated, they quickly go back to their ordinary lives.
  • Forbidden Zone: The City Dog Park.
    "The City Council announces the opening of a new dog park at the corner of Earl and Sommerset, near the Ralph's. They would like to remind everyone that dogs are not allowed in the dog park. People are not allowed in the dog park. It is possible you will see hooded figures in the dog park. Do not approach them. Do not approach the dog park. The fence is electrified and highly dangerous. Try not to look at the dog park, and especially do not look for any period of time at the hooded figures. The dog park will not harm you."
    • A pterodactyl from a rift in spacetime enters the Dog Park at one point. We know this because it was found several feet from the entrance. Well, most of it. The organs were definitely there - you could count them with a glance!
  • Forced Transformation: Khoshekh the cat was the subject of this, formerly a human named Silas before being put under a spell by his partner-in-crime in order to teach him humility and understand her perspective. As of episode 208, the lesson has been thoroughly learned, with the spell broken and the two of them together. However, Silas apparently retained the ability to turn into his Khoshekh-form voluntarily, choosing to stop by every now and then to visit his kittens.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Old Oak Doors", Steve points out that, technically, Carlos is not a native Night Vale inhabitant. This comes into play at the end when Carlos is unable to return to Night Vale since he's originally from out of town and doesn't belong there.
    • In A Story About Them, they drive by city hall... which is covered by a giant yellow tarp with an orange triangle. StrexCorp is already taking over Night Vale.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode:
    • Episode 13, appropriately titled "A Story About You" is told entirely in the Second-Person Narration, rather than the usual mix of third person narration via news delivery and Cecil's first person asides. Episode 45, "A Story About Them", is in the same style, and can be considered a sequel of sorts.
    • Episode 19B is set in Desert Bluffs and hosted by Kevin, Cecil's counterpart.
    • Episode 53 has no stories, just monologues from three very different people with no Weather or even a proverb! Cecil himself barely appears. This format is repeated in Episode 86.
    • In November of 2014, the show went on a hiatus - but the kind of hiatus where they still released full length episodes, only these were short stories written by guests, narrated by Cecil... and rather odd. "Minutes" was simply the minutes of a Night Vale Community College Faculty Meeting, while "What of the Sea?" was the existential reflections of a Night Vale woman who receives a mysterious letter in the mail.
    • Episode 65 "Voicemail" is literally just Cecil's voicemail, with messages from people like Carlos, Dana, Old Woman Josie, and Kevin.
    • "[Best Of?]" is hosted by Leonard Burton, Cecil's predecessor.
    • The "Who's a Good Boy?" two-parter is by far the darkest episode in the series, with the usual comedic asides all being replaced with grim reminders that the Universe could be about to end. For instance, the Community Calendar segment says only that all events are cancelled, including the week itself, and the Horoscopes just say that the stars have all gone silent to protect us from the knowledge.
    • The 100th episode features every character/actor who has ever appeared on the show (including both voices of Carlos, see The Other Darrin below) delivering short quips or stories, rather than a single narrative from Cecil. Leaning on the Fourth Wall, they are both congratulating the podcast itself on 100 episodes and, In-Universe, congratulating Cecil and Carlos on their wedding.
    • Episode 109, "A Story About Huntokar", is narrated by Huntokar, telling her own life story.
  • Funny Background Event: In Episode 104 while Josie's daughter is described complaining about how odd the town is a single-engine plane trailing a banner reading "I found teeeeth" is described by Cecil as flying by, to prove her point.
  • Gainax Ending: The ending of Episode 13, "A Story About You".
  • Genre-Busting: It's usually a happy show, but its plot is full of horror, romance, music, thrillers, philosophy, family stories, and just about every other genre you can think of. Think "The News from Lake Wobegon" meets Creepypasta with a side dish of silly romantic sitcom, and you'll have a fair idea.
  • Genre Savvy: The citizens of Night Vale realize that the carnival coming to town is probably an Eldritch Abomination intending nothing but harm. They're hilariously wrong this time, but can you really blame them?
    • After four years of incidents in the workplace leading to the deaths of over a dozen interns that we know of, Intern Danielle (the most recent intern as of "Civic Changes") tells Cecil that she would very much like to NOT report on the story du jour, thank you very much, and instead opts to run the radio station's social media accounts. It doesn't help.
  • Geographic Flexibility: Night Vale has the usual small town features; a library, high school, elementary school and a handful of stores. But as the series progresses we learn it also has a stadium, a harbor and waterfront recreation area (despite being hundreds of miles from any body of water), community college, airport, and as of Episode 29, a subway system which mysteriously appeared one day and then was closed for construction indefinitely by the end of the episode.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: It is heavily implied that, after years of living under StrexCorp's control, the people of Desert Bluffs are no longer even capable of feeling (or at least expressing) anger, sadness or other negative emotions. And now that they've come to Night Vale, we can assume StrexCorp will do the same thing to its residents, as well.
  • Gibberish of Love: Cecil is embarrassed to have been afflicted with a mild form during one conversation he has with the ever-so-radiant Carlos. He becomes flustered and only manages to reply with an enthusiastic "Neat!" to Carlos' science-related call.
    • Adorably, Cecil's embarrassing interjection becomes something of an Arc Word for their relationship—it's brought up when Carlos asks Cecil to move in together and again repeatedly during Carlos's wedding speech.
  • Glasgow Grin: Described as part of All Smiles' Eve, the Smiling God's winter holiday.
  • Going Native:
    • For the first 24 episodes, Carlos is constantly baffled and distressed by Night Vale, calling Cecil in terror about things that lifelong residents just shrug off and retreating behind his scientific instruments for comfort.
    • In Episode 25, he's able to accept that there's a miniature civilization underneath the bowling alley without too much trouble but he's still disturbed by Night Vale's militant response.
    • In Episode 31, Carlos forgoes thwarting the Monster of the Week to cook dinner for Cecil, then casually assures Cecil that the mountain with the blinking light, bone-strewn flood plain, and massive marching army are just a mirage caused by the angle of the Sun (at night?) and temperature and that he's seen it before.
    • In Episode 35, the city is seized by a mysterious lethargy, to the point that gravity itself stops working and the Sun starts going out. What does Carlos do? Takes the day to get some chores done (the lack of gravity makes it easy to clean the gutters), as he feels quite energetic.
  • Good News, Bad News: In Episode 19A, Cecil reported that one of the Intern Danas has killed the other and he doesn't know which one is the original Dana. That, apparently, was the good news. The bad news? He has received an e-mail from Steve Carlsberg.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: To be specific, the Vague Yet Menacing Government Agency.
  • Government Drug Enforcement: One of the many ways StrexCorp keeps the citizens of Desert Bluffs and the "greater metropolitan area" of Night Vale under control.
  • Gratuitous Laboratory Flasks: This comes up a couple times in relation to Omnidisciplinary Scientist Carlos (who also wears a labcoat almost constantly). In one episode, when he tells Cecil what he's been working on, he just describes things such as, "standing in front of a row of beakers, with different colored liquids." In another episode, he's fascinated by a vision of "endless rows of Erlenmeyer flasks, and every one held a liquid, and all of the liquids were bubbling..."
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop
    • Episode 133 "Are You Sure?'' has Night Vale stuck in one.
    • Lee Marvin seems stuck in a personal one - time moves along for everyone else, but it's always his thirtieth birthday and many elements repeat every day.
  • Had to Be Sharp: Pretty much a pre-requisite to survive Night Vale.
    • Furthermore; if you ever start underestimating Cecil for being rather naïve or ditzy, remember that he survived both as a boy scout and radio intern.
  • HA HA HA—No: In Episode 47, Kevin is asked by Lauren if she can call him "Kev". He replies with this.
  • Hand Wave: Any number of oddities (such as characters having lived much longer than they've actually been alive, or there being multiple versions of the same person) are explained by simply stating that time doesn't work properly in Night Vale. There is no attempt to work out why time doesn't work properly, or to fix it - it's just a way of life.
  • Happily Married: Cecil and Carlos as of Episode 100.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: StrexCorp likes to remind its "employees" to Believe in a Smiling God. And if you don't, you can expect to be tortured, drugged, or turned into the equipment.
  • Have I Mentioned I Am Gay?: Inverted with Cecil. His crush on Carlos and later, relationship, and later, marriage reoccurs throughout the series, as well as mentions him being attracted to other men. Despite this, the g-word is never used to refer to Cecil (one could assume that in Night Vale it doesn't really matter)
  • Heroic Bystander: The show plays with Cecil being one of these. He definitely has the desire to help out in certain situations, but, by definition as a radio reporter, he is always distant from the action. A couple of times his helplessness causes him legitimate distress, but his sense of duty to stay and report the news keeps him at the station. However, he does frequently send out station interns to investigate, some of whom have made it back alive.
    • He leaves the station while on-air during Episode 42. He is the only one who goes to help Fey after she announces her intention to escape her station, but when he gets there she has already been rebooted and he can do nothing to help her. He also leaves the station during the special episode "Condos" to save Carlos from the condo.
  • Hero of Another Story: Many of the people Cecil reports on. Tamika Flynn, for example. Cecil is effectively our main character as well as the narrator, as the only person in every episode; but, being a radio reporter, he generally just reports on the events around Night Vale rather than getting involved in them, which are often implied to be grand in scale and not disclosed to us fully.
  • He's Back!: Cecil, in truly badass fashion in Episode 48, "Renovations".
    Kevin: It's the man from the lighthouse! He's.... he's holding a cat..."
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The Sheriff's Secret Police make public statements and are well known to the general populace. The novel reveals that the regular police one day just decided to start calling themselves Secret Police without actually changing anything.
  • High Turnover Rate: The radio station goes through interns at a laughable rate.
  • Holding Out for a Hero: In Episode 46, "Parade Day", Cecil states that Night Vale has this mentality.
    Cecil: We all chose to stand down, and hope change would be won for us, and not by us! By someone else, we believed. A hero, we believed. But belief is only step one. Action is step two. Fighting for what you believe is step two. Solidarity is step two. Unity is step two. We did not take step two today, Night Vale! And now there will be no step three! We have failed Tamika. But worse, we have failed ourselves.
  • Hope Spot: In Episode 46, the rebellion was finally happening. But then no one else joined Tamika and her group of revolutionaries, so they were quickly captured and dealt with while the weather played.
  • Horrorscope: The occasional horoscope segment is full of predictions that are strange at best and ominous at worst. Except for Scorpio, which is Steve Carlsberg’s sign and usually just a petty insult.
  • Hostile Animatronics: Big Rico's Pizza gets an animatronic band that everyone claims to love, despite the restaurant locking down during performances and the pyrotechnics killing a few patrons. Then they start directly assaulting the patrons, looking for one who wrote on the bathroom wall and triggered their security protocols.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The City Council, and the people wearing deer masks. The hooded figures in the dog park may or may not be this.
    • The Man in the Tan Jacket and the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home also qualify. The former inflicts amnesia on anyone who sees him, making them remember nothing about him except his attire and deerskin briefcase with flies in it, and the latter is an entity that somehow manages to live in everyone's house without being noticed, can only be seen through one's peripheral vision and lacks a face. They're both relatively friendly examples, although the Faceless Old Woman shows signs of being a bit of a trickster.
    • Old Woman Josie's angels, who are described as ten-feet-tall, radiant, and always smiling.
    • The Woman from Italy. All throughout her visit to Night Vale, Cecil keeps reporting on her but swears she's just another person. But all the while, he keeps randomly spewing nursery rhymes in a broken voice, talking about how her hands are storm clouds with lightning talons, how she skins her victims, and how she lurks at the end of dark hallways.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Cecil's attitude towards Night Vale increasingly becomes this as the incursion from StrexCorp continues: "Parade Day" has him claim "Tamika led a great revolt to rid our town of a terrible evil, and restore the original less-terrible evil that preceded it", and "Old Oak Doors Part B" has him defend Kevin's dismissive attitude towards the town's strangeness with "This is our town! And it is terrible. But it is ours. And we... we are fighting for it!"
  • Hypocritical Humor: Complaints about the shadowy World Government are often tempered with glowing praise for the town's own Secret Police and totalitarian City Council.
    • In the The Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover, Carlos is fed up with things that are unscientific:
      "This won't work, according to science! Okay? If no one's going to listen to SCIENCE, then I'm just going to project myself back into the otherworld desert dimension, where I live. Okay?!"
    • Keep in mind, barely an hour before, this man dismissed horses as being pure (and unscientific) fiction.
      • However a year later, in Episode 65 "Voicemail", he uses horses in an example of a scientifically accurate joke, so presumably in the meantime he's scientifically proved that horses are real.

    Tropes I - P 
  • Ice-Cream Koan: The proverbs at the end of each episode can come off like this.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: Various locations around Night Vale have names like the Scrublands and the Sand Wastes. Then there's Radon Canyon ("The view is literally breath-taking!").
  • Ignorance Is Bliss: Various authority figures regularly ask citizens of Night Vale to forget things they might have seen or heard. Generally speaking, this is a good survival tactic, considering the sheer number of horrors they must confront daily.
    • "Ignorance may not actually be bliss, but it certainly is less work."
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: The engineers trying to build the drawbridge using crackers and ceramic bowls eventually give up and ask any citizens with engineering know-how to please write them some instructions on a napkin or something, that'd be much appreciated.
  • Immune to Bullets: Discussed in a parody of the NRA; see above under American Gun Politics. This is one of the times when Cecil slides towards the "snarky" end of Deadpan Snarker rather than the "deadpan" end, although Night Vale being Night Vale, at least one fanfic exists positing that the citizens of Night Vale are in fact immune to bullets.
  • Implausible Deniability: The Night Vale Business Association declares that Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area - which they built in a previous episode... in the desert, at great expense, and for no good reason - was simply a mass hallucination. Remembering it or finding it exactly where it was supposedly built simply means you are still hallucinating.
    • The mayor once held a press conference to deny the existence of the truck she was standing in front of. After the press conference she explained she was merely practicing her denial skills, and also that she did not have denial skills.
  • Impossible Task: In Episode 177, "Bloody Laws, Bloody Claws: The Murder of Frank Chen" the courts decide that Night Vale must pay restitution to the Chen family for the death of Frank within one year or a mandatory collateral if they fail to meet the deadline, the restitution is "One living Frank Chen" while the collateral is "One City of Night Vale", as of Episode 180 "U-View" the Sheriff is investigating whether the various weird phenomena of Night Vale might be useful in fulfilling the obligation.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Encouraged. Remember, if you see something, say nothing, and drink to forget.
  • Inherently Funny Word: Most of the words in the list issued for memorization by the secret police in Episode 16.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Night Vale seems to run on this. For example:
    • In a near-unanimous vote — the only dissenter being Carlos — City Council decides to remove the giant lead door on Radon Canyon (which, as the name would suggest, is filled with dangerous radioactive materials) because the bright red and yellow bio-hazard warnings painted on it are an eyesore and the door itself could cause lead poisoning.
    • For some reason the town has a pier and a drawbridge, despite being in the middle of the desert.
    • The transportation department makes the capricious decision to replace the typical white and yellow road lines with mosaic murals of a revolting South American proletariat and the steel highway dividers with butcher paper silhouettes of slaves committing self-mutilation.
  • Insistent Terminology: Virtually everything is referred to the same way every time it comes up and nothing is ever shortened. Some examples include:
    • "John Peters, you know, the farmer"
    • "Larry Leroy, out on the edge of town"
    • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home
    • Wheat and wheat by-products
    • The Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex
    • Hiram McDaniels, who is literally a five headed dragon
    • The Shape in Grove Park that No One Acknowledges or Speaks About
    • A vague yet menacing shadowy government agency
    • The house that does not exist. You know… the one in the desert creek housing development out back of the elementary school. It seems like it exists, like it’s right there when you look at it, and it’s between two other identical houses so it would make more sense for it to be there than not. That one.
  • The Intern: The radio station has several, generally Red Shirts, often only mentioned to say that they're missing, presumed dead. Dana (or her doppelgänger) is the only one who survives long enough to become a character in her own right. Later joined by the Properly Paranoid sceptic, Maureen, and later, by Kareem.
    • The episode in which Cecil finds several old recordings he had made as a teenager reveals that Cecil himself began his career at the broadcasting center as an intern at age 15.
  • In the Hood: Night Vale's various sinister hooded figures. There are implied to be enough of them to have an annual parade.
  • Irrational Hatred: Cecil hates Steve Carlsberg for initially no discernible reason, and goes out of his way to insult and mock him at every turn. However, as the show goes on it explores his relationship with and feelings towards Steve in more detail. Cecil initially accuses Steve of being a neglectful stepfather to his niece, Janice, but in The September Monologues, Steve claims that Cecil really resents him for trying to tell Janice the truth about the town's conspiracies rather than feeding her a safer lie. In the episode "Matryoshka", Cecil admits that the real reason why he hates Steve is because he perceives him as getting in the way of Cecil's relationship with his sister and niece. Cecil and Abby had spent most of their adult lives barely speaking to each other, and that had only just started to change when Janice was born and her medical condition put him in the position of being Abby's primary source of emotional and financial support. He saw Steve coming in to offer support of his own as taking that importance away from him and demoting him to "just an uncle". He admits in that episode that he has been unfair, and that Steve is a good father and friend, and is friendly towards him in subsequent episodes.
    • The nearby town of Desert Bluffs seems like Night Vale's Sitcom Arch-Nemesis until you realize that it actually IS as bad as Cecil makes it out to be.
    • He also hates the Apache Tracker (who is a white guy in a offensively cartoonish Indian headdress) at least up until his heroic sacrifice. And even then, Cecil points out that doing something heroic doesn't mean the rest of it isn't racist.
  • Keeping the Handicap: In the climax of the StrexCorp arc, Kevin tries to turn Steve Carlsburg to his side by saying StrexCorp can "fix" his paraplegic daughter. Steve vehemently shouts that she is not "broken" while suplexing Kevin into a dimensional portal.
  • Ladies and Germs: "Ladies and gentlemen and those of you not clearly falling into either category..."
  • Lampshade Hanging: The last act of "The Woman from Italy" opens when Cecil commenting that he usually comes back from The Weather with news of how some great catastrophe has been averted, but that in this case, it seems there's no hideous danger that needed to be corrected. Then again, it's more likely that Cecil was ignorant of the danger the whole time...
  • Law of Disproportionate Response: Despite Cecil being able to calmly report the psychological horrors and bloodbaths that occur in Night Vale on a regular basis, what finally causes him to break down into hysterics is Carlos's fairly tame "demise". Apparently an entire studio made of viscera or the sudden vaporization of one of his interns isn't as upsetting to Cecil as the "blood... so much blood" dripping from a single ordinary wound. Although this is possibly justified, considering his feelings toward Carlos.
  • Leaving You to Find Myself: Cecil at the end of Episode 37 but he means you as the audience... also he literally just lost himself on an Auction of Evil so he would settle for finding the person who won him, or someone who could make him feel better about the whole thing.
  • Leitmotif: The podcast's theme song, "The Ballad of Fiedler and Mundt", could be considered this for Cecil. Its sudden appearance in Episode 48 signals his return.
    • "Nieuwe Utrecht" is this for the opening of every episode where Joseph Fink (and the totally not Joseph Fink fakes) give announcements of available merchandise and upcoming live shows.
  • Light Is Not Good: The yellow helicopters belonging to StrexCorp.
    • StrexCorp — and, by extension, Desert Bluffs and their Smiling God — have this as a recurring motif, as they're regularly associated with all-consuming light, lighthouses, the sun, sunrise, morning, bright attitudes, and the like. It's juxtaposed with Night Vale's Dark Is Not Evil associations, above.
    • Angels, if the official Twitter account has any ground on the topic.
    • In Episode 45, "A Story About Them", Cecil takes a moment to describe something in the desert that Intern Dana has been traversing for a few months:
      "Beyond her, no longer just on the horizon, much closer than that, is a light spreading across the desert. The light is alive, and malicious, and vast, and encroaching. It buzzes and shines and everything about it hurts those who are close to it, and destroys those who are within it. It spreads – not just in the desert I am talking about – it spreads in different forms, in deserts not unlike it. In deserts very similar to the one I am talking about now. Not always in the same form, not always as light at all, but with the same intent: to devour everything until there is nothing left. It is a smiling god of terrible power and ceaseless appetite."
  • Like Is, Like, a Comma: Cecil, surprisingly, has a habit of talking like this when he goes off-topic. It gets even worse when he's talking about Carlos.
    "Well, to the point: Carlos called, and I'm like, 'Hellooo?' Like I don't even have caller ID, and he's like, 'I need to talk to you. This is important.' And I'm like, 'Ummm, okaaay.'"
  • Lilliputians: The inhabitants of the city beneath the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex are tiny but fierce.
  • Listeners Like You
    • In Universe, Night Vale Community Radio holds a pledge drive in Episode 6.
      Cecil: "Ladies and gentlemen, it’s that time of year again. Time for our annual pledge drive. Sorry to have to do this, but, you know, Night Vale has a lot of community-supported radio, and the thing about community-supported radio…it’s supported by listeners like you. As well as Guatemala and some teamsters, who are, sometimes, just too generous."
    • In Real Life, the podcast is supported mostly by merchandise sales and PayPal donations by listeners. Most episodes start with a message from Joseph Fink giving news about the show and offering special gifts to people who sign up for monthly donations.
  • Literal Metaphor:
    • "And now, a word from our sponsors. That word is: carp."
    • The first time Cecil says he will take a look at the traffic, he proceeds to do so... Without particularly describing it to the listeners, but mutters a few observations to himself.
    • After StrexCorp takes over Night Vale, Tamika leads an attack (among other things) of the Book Club. They club people with books.
    • When Cecil was anxious to learn more about Carlos from the representative of the University of What It Is, he told her: "Tell me everything." She answered that would take an awfully long time, and would probably include lots of things Cecil already knows. Cecil then narrowed down his question to information about Carlos.
  • Little Miss Badass: 12-year-old Tamika Flynn, who defeated the terrifying librarians and completed her advanced summer reading list. Awesome, considering what the librarians are. As of Episode 36, "Missing," she is leading La Résistance against StrexCorp along with the other survivors of the summer reading program.
  • Long List: Several.
    • "The Boy Scouts of Night Vale have announced some slight changes to their hierarchy, which will now be the following: Cub Scout, Boy Scout, Eagle Scout, Blood Pact Scout, Weird Scout, Dreadnought Scout, Dark Scout, Fear Scout, and finally, Eternal Scout."
    • "Dear listeners, here is a list of things: emotions you don't understand on viewing a sunset, lost pets found, lost pets unfound, a secret lost pet city on the Moon, trees that see, restaurants that hear, a void that thinks, a face half-seen just before falling asleep, trembling hands reaching for desperately needed items, sandwiches..."
    • "The Night Vale school district has announced some changes to the elementary school curriculum [...] in addition to the foreign language offerings of Spanish, French, and Modified Sumerian, schools will now be offering Double Spanish, Weird Spanish, Coptic Spanish, Russian, and Unmodified Sumerian."
    • Episode 6 features a horoscopes section where each of the zodiac signs are given increasingly odd/hilarious horoscopes. Among other things, Cecil warns Capricorns that "those were not contact lenses you put in this morning", announces that it's Taurus's "annual crime day" where they're exempt from all laws, and simply curses Scorpios and their families and calls them "vile".
      • The live episode "Librarians" sheds some light on this when Cecil accidentally slips in reading the horoscope for Scorpio. A certain Steve Carlsberg is born under that sign.
    • "Now, of course, the Masons will continue their proud fraternal associations with the Illuminati. However, the Illuminati will itself be splitting into ten distinct factions as follows: Red, Green, Eagle, Faction Four, the Real Illuminati, the Other Real Illuminati, Red Again, Alpha, Windhind, and Hungry Man Brand Frozen Foods Officially-Sponsored Illuminati."
  • Lottery of Doom: Mentioned in Episode 8. The winners are ritually sacrificed.
  • Love at First Sight: Exactly what happens in Episode 1 when Cecil meets Carlos and sees him smile for the first time.
    "... Everything about him was perfect, and I fell in love instantly."
  • Lovecraft Lite: Night Vale is a strange and dangerous place, but a lot of the residents, including Cecil, stay quite chipper nonetheless.
  • Love Is in the Air: It's obvious the effect that Carlos has on Cecil. However, considering the barber who cut Carlos' hair was seemingly driven to despair for defiling Carlos' beauty, it's entirely possible that Carlos has this effect on many of the town's residents. Old Woman Josie is mentioned also describing Carlos as perfect and noting that he smells like lavender chewing gum.
    Baldwin, who records the podcast just a few in advance, didn’t see the Cecil/Carlos chemistry straight away. He thought that "because of the weirdness of Night Vale," Carlos was just the perfect human being, like a "male model who threw on a pair of glasses and a lab coat." Of course everybody loved him. "But then when the relationship between the two characters started to develop, I was so happy and so pleased," he said.
    From this article
    • Of course, it's also possible that Telly the Barber (who cut perfect Carlos' perfect hair) was driven mad because he was run out of town when Cecil publicly condemned him on the radio, and he was forced to live in the sand wastes. It's a bit unclear.
  • Magical Native American: Invoked in-universe by the "Apache Tracker" guy, who claims to have supernatural tracking abilities but is clearly not an actual Native American and in fact comes off as racist in his stereotyped portrayal of Native Americans.
  • Meaningful Name: Some of the Desert Bluffs residents have names similar to their Night Vale counterparts:
    • Cecil and Kevin.
    • Carlos and Charles.
    • Dana Cardinal and Dan Cardozo (also Dana and Lauren Mallard).
  • Meat Moss: When Cecil discovers the Desert Bluffs radio station, he's horrified and scared out of his wits to discover that it's covered in viscera.
  • Megacorp: StrexCorp, which runs Desert Bluffs and later the Night Vale Community Radio station.
  • Memento MacGuffin: Cecil's watch, gifted to him by Carlos, marking their one-month anniversary in Episode 32, is the only true timepiece in Night Vale, as the rest of the clocks in town are full of grey goo. Presumably, Carlos brought it with him when he came to Night Vale. Because it keeps correct time, Cecil can tell that the darkness outside is not nightfall.
  • The Men in Black: Agents of a "vague yet menacing" government agency are mentioned in almost every episode. The World Government and the Sheriff's Secret Police also serve as this to a lesser degree.
  • Metafictional Device: The Weather, well, if Steve's monologue is any indication. It's not something Cecil plays in in show when something over the budget happens, but something that just begins when someone, or at least Cecil and Steve, mention it. And now it crossed over to Ninja Prop territory when Cecil weaponized it in an episode.
  • Mind Screw: Much of the show, but especially Episode 67, ("[Best Of?]") for invoking Multiple-Choice Past on such an extremely bizarre level. According to Leonard Burton, Cecil's been radio host since before the existence of Night Vale, and even radio itself. His predecessor, Leonard Burton, reports on his own death during the Clinton administration. Cecil is apparently older than Old Woman Josie. The world ended in 1983. Confused yet? You should be.
  • Mirror Universe: Desert Bluffs is one for Night Vale. And may, depending on your perspective, be worse than Night Vale. Cecil certainly seems to think so.
    • Also, apparently a literal Mirror Universe can be created as a consequence of using substandard bloodstones.
    • Several other Mirror Universe's have been hinted at. The doubles that everybody had to fight may have come from one, and Cecil may have been replaced by his reflection when he was fifteen. Also, there are hints that the Otherworld might be a mirror universe as well.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: Arguably, the show itself is an example.
  • Mood Whiplash: Cecil often switches abruptly from talking about something terrifying to an unrelated and much more cheerful story, or at least one he seems to feel cheerful about at any rate.
    • A non-Cecil example comes in Episode 65, "Voicemail." The second to last voicemail is an excited, happy message to Cecil from Carlos, telling him that the desert they're trapped in is the Dog Park, and so Cecil can (theoretically) come visit at any time. This is followed immediately by the last voice mail, a dreadfully happy message from Kevin, who was last seen during the StrexCorp takeover.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Seemingly a requirement for the Night Vale Medical Association.
  • Mister Seahorse: Khoshekh.
    "How does a he-cat give birth? Well, how does a he-cat hover in an immobile spot in a radio station bathroom? Some things just aren't meant to be questioned."
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Cecil, and Night Vale itself. Just don't question it.
  • Multiple Head Case: Discussed by Cecil regarding Hiram McDaniels. Cecil considers the whole "multiple heads not getting along" thing to be inaccurate.
    "Sure, critics will say, 'Oh, but Cecil! What if his five heads don't agree on something? What if one's like, 'Yeah, let's build this school!' But another's like, 'No more schools.' And the others are drunk or sleepy or something? How can we agree to elect five heads that can't agree with themselves?' To this, I say shame on you for your negative stereotypes of multi-headed beings."
    • Although, judging by Hiram's campaign message in Episode 32, the multiple heads do have very different, er, priorities.
  • Mundane Fantastic: One of the essential elements of the series. Most of Night Vale's citizens are so accustomed to the bizarre and inexplicable that their response to phenomena like the mind-controlling roadkill-raining Glow Cloud is "what size road kill and how strong an umbrella am I going to need?"
  • Mundane Utility: The city council is developing a neutron star underneath Night Vale, which according to Cecil could produce enough electricity for the entire world. The council plans to use it to power the lights to the school's football field.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: During "Old Oak Doors" A and B, when Cecil is attempting to rally the populace, he acknowledges that Night Vale is a horrifying place, but it's still better than living under the thumb of StrexCorp.
  • Never Needs Sharpening: The slogan "Literally breathtaking!" for Radon Canyon.
  • Never Was This Universe: Night Vale's historical events usually mirror our own in very broad ways, but slightly altered. Even ignoring the variety of supernatural beings and massive conspiracies whose existence is openly acknowledged by all denizens, there are other more subtle changes, like the Great Depression never happening and Alexander Hamilton having been President.
  • New Weird: The podcast is essentially a Cosmic Horror Story with a unique format (as a news radio show for a fictional town) with a lot of Mind Screw moments, the kind of creative descriptions only a non-visual format can accomplish and it tends to flip-flop between Surreal Horror and Surreal Humor on a dime.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The story of "The Shape In Grove Park" involves a mysterious black shape that no-one acknowledges or speaks about. When the shape turns molten red and speaks in countless voices, Cecil receives a missive from the City council instructing him to stop speaking about it.
    • StrexCorp's take-over of the Night Vale Girl Scouts, giving them a chance to track down Tamika Flynn and threaten his niece Janice, wouldn't have happened if Cecil hadn't mentioned them on air and goaded Strex into noticing them.
    • Huntokar just wanted to protect Night Vale, but in trying to save it from nuclear disaster, she ended up splintering reality and dooming all potential Night Vales.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Cecil has a very charming, chipper way of making even the most terrifying, unknowable events that occur in Night Vale sound completely mundane. Other times, not so much.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Cecil feels this way about Carlos's lovely and perfect raven locks. Carlos, evidently, doesn't.
  • No Indoor Voice: Hiram's green head.
  • The Non Descript: The series makes good use of the visual ambiguity left by the podcast format. See the character sheet for more detail.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Dogs are not allowed in the Dog Park. No one is allowed in the Dog Park. In fact it's not even a park, it's an endless desert.
  • Non P.O.V. Protagonist: In a more standard narrative format, Carlos — the recent arrival and Only Sane Man who spends his time thwarting Monsters Of The Week — would be a straightforward protagonist and we'd stay close to his POV. With the news report format, Carlos' role as protagonist is almost completely eclipsed by Cecil's role as narrator and obscured because Cecil frequently goes off-topic when reporting on Carlos' doings. Dana was a Non P.O.V. Protagonist until she got the chance to narrate her own story in Episode 30.
  • Noodle Incident
    • In episode 28, we learn that the city council originally banned the Summer Reading Program 30 years earlier, following an incident that town elders refer to only as "The Time of Knives".
    • Combined with Riddle for the Ages: How everyone was saved from the mind-controlling WALK signs in Episode 41. Due to Intern Dana accidentally hijacking the show while Cecil was being possessed (again) we will never know the answer.
      Cecil: I'll be honest, Night Vale, that was the most worried I've been in some time. And how we were saved was so unlikely and miraculous that I feel that today will become one of the standard tales told every year on Frightening Day. Certainly, it is a story I will never forget.
  • The Nth Doctor: As of December 2013, Carlos' voice actor was changed to Dylan Marron so he could be played by an actual gay Latino actor. Apparently, in-universe, scientists occasionally surgically change their vocal cords as a way of preventing throat spiders.
  • Nuclear Horror: In the year 1983, The Able Archer tests went wrong. Soviet Russia and the U.S.A declared nuclear war on each other. In a fit of desperation, the city's resident benevolent eldritch horror Huntokar reached out and cut off Night Vale from the soon-to-be destroyed reality. However, in doing so, she cut off every Night Vale from their realities.
    • In Episode 110, "Matryoshka", Cecil's brother from a different reality walked into Cecil's room as reality was collapsing, his skin decayed and rotting, wheezing "The bomb, the bomb" over and over, clearly suffering from radiation sickness.
  • Odd Couple: Skating Rink shows that Station Management started dating the City Council.
  • Official Couple: Carlos and Cecil.
  • The Old Gods: Huntokar the Destroyer claims that The Woman From Italy, The Distant Prince, The Glow Cloud, and herself all predate humanity by countless millennia. And she's the only one of them who isn't actively malicious towards humanity, except maybe the Glow Cloud, it's hard to tell.
  • Omnidisciplinary Scientist: Carlos, described only as "a scientist", doesn't seem to concentrate on any particular branch of science.
    • He does give an interesting statement on the matter in Episode 38, though.
      "Cecil, I’ll do my best to answer your questions, but do know that I don’t specialize in botany or dendrology. I am a scientist. I study science, not plants or nature."
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. All of the angels who stay with Old Woman Josie are named Erika. There is, for what it's worth, only one Steve. Although he seems to be literally so rare that he has no counterpart in mirror community Desert Bluffs.
    • There's also two Laurens: Lauren Mallard (Night Vale Radio Station manager and StrexCorp Shill) and Lauren James (Night Vale Weekly Gazette writer).
    • And two Janices: Cecil's niece Janice and Janice Rio from down the street.
    • As of Episode 88, we know there are two Johns: John Peters, you know, the farmer and John Peter, remember, the pharmacist?
  • Only Sane Man: Carlos and his team of scientists, who constantly seem disturbed and amazed by their findings about the town.
    • Steve Carlsberg may count as well, as he is the only citizen of Night Vale who questions the building of a drawbridge in a desert town with no rivers, streams, or bays, or seems concerned with the fact that the City Council can create deadly natural disasters at will.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Cecil is always pleasant and smooth in his delivery. When he's not? Something is very wrong, like his on-air breakdown when he thought Carlos had died, or the terror in his voice upon seeing the gorefest in Kevin's studio; or very serious, like the sheer venom with which he wished that Tamika would find Strex before they found her.
  • Open Secret: Many of Night Vale's secrets are the "officially denied but everyone knows" variety. Including but not limited to angels, a vague yet menacing government agency, the antics of Sheriff's Secret Police, or the undisclosed location where people (and/or people's loved ones) get taken.
    • Cecil doesn't seem to understand the concept of secrets and will happily report dark events that nobody is supposed to know about, including the fact that nobody is supposed to know about it. He rarely notices this.
  • Origins Episode: Subverted for the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home, in the live episode "Condos." The Faceless Old Woman tells a story that begins, "Once upon a time there was a young woman who had a face, and did not live in secret." But the woman begins to doubt her life, and tries to live others' lives, and as a result becomes harder and harder to see, because there was less of her to see. Until she dies. The Faceless Old Woman then explains that that wasn't her, it was just someone she watched, although she can see why you might have been confused.
    • Played Straight with Episode 73, "Triptych". Radio waves from the past have Cecil contact Past!Kevin who was once exactly like Cecil, but when StrexCorp took over Desert Bluffs he completely lost his free will and morality to unspeakably horrific brainwashing.
    • Episode 109, "A Story About Huntokar", is Huntokar telling her story about the origin of Night Vale and her involvement.
  • Our Angels Are Different: Actually, we're not sure how different they are, since no one is allowed to know about them or talk about them, and their existence is denied by the City Council. Yet, they manage to show up on multiple occasions, including at a City Council press conference that denied the existence of angels. According to Old Woman Josie, one of them is also black.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: Lucia Tereschenko is a ghost who has haunted Night Vale's baseball diamond since before it was a baseball diamond. She eventually grew so familiar with the game she became the team's third base coach, although sometimes she has trouble picking up the balls. Aside from this, she does look like a typical ghost, described by Cecil as a "grey-skinned young woman in a tattered dress" with "pupil-less eyes." Her first appearance was quite disconcerting as all she did was stare at Cecil from very close up, but since then she has been shown to be very approachable.
  • Our Wormholes Are Different: The Night Vale subway seems to operate as a combination Total Perspective Vortex and reverse wormhole — instead of transporting people across interstellar distances nigh instantaneously, a trip that occurs entirely within city limits and lasts just minutes from the perspective of observers is experienced by passengers as an aeons-long odyssey (see also Year Inside, Hour Outside). Furthermore, not everyone who goes into the subway comes back, and some of those who return seem faded or drained.
  • Overly Long Name: The Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex, which Cecil always says in full. Also, the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home.
  • Path of Inspiration: StrexCorp is primarily a horrifying Mega-Corp, but it also falls into this trope because they venerate the Smiling God and are actively trying to bring it into this world.
    Kevin: Look around you. Strex. Look inside you. Strex. Go to sleep. Strex. Believe in a smiling God. StrexCorp: It is... everything.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    • John Peters (you know, the farmer?) is always referred to as "John Peters, you know, the farmer".
    • Hiram McDaniels, who is a literally a five-headed dragon.
    • It seems like an automatic response in Night Vale citizens to praise the Glow Cloud. "All hail."
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Night Vale has a Marine Biologists' Association, despite being in the middle of the desert. By their own admission, its members never go near the ocean because it is full of things that want to kill you.
  • Plague Zombie: Antiques.
  • Platonic Cave: At one point, Cecil starts to wonder if his microphone is even connected to anything, or even if there is anything outside. Is there really a world out there or are his descriptions of it just his own delusions?
  • Pluto Is Expendable: "Pluto has been declared imaginary."
  • Pointless Civic Project: The demented City Council approves several of these:
    • The town's continued project to build a drawbridge in Old Town Night Vale, despite there not being any rivers or bodies of water nearby, and no boats to even necessitate a drawbridge. The project keeps on failing due to the engineers insisting on using hilariously inappropriate materials, such as cardboard. And ceramic bowls. And non-dairy creamer.
    • There's also the Night Vale Harbor and Waterfront Recreation Area... in a city that's landlocked and in the middle of a desert.
      "There is no water at the actual waterfront. And that is a definite drawback, I agree. For instance, the boardwalk is currently overlooking sagebrush and rocks. The Business Association did not provide specific remedies to this problem, but they assured me that the new harbor would be a big boost to Night Vale nonetheless. Maybe wait until the next flash-flood and head down there for the full waterfront experience."
    • Also, the Night Vale Stadium, which hosts the annual parade of the hooded figures on November 10th and then remains closed and useless for the other 364 days.
  • The Points Mean Nothing: The votes cast for the new mayor.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: The City Council borders on this, as does the Mayor. For example, they continue to insist that angels don't exist, even if they're in the audience at the press conference; they have insisted on building a bridge in an area with no major bodies of water (see Pointless Civic Project above); and they nearly caused a panic by summoning the soul of Syd Barrett for a Pink Floyd Laser Show in Radon Canyon.
  • Polluted Wasteland: The appropriately named Radon Canyon.
  • Poltergeist: The Faceless Old Woman behaves somewhat like this, since she can't be seen and likes to cause mischief (such as rearranging bookshelves or flipping a dining room table and supergluing it to the floor) but has never physically harmed anyone, as far as we know.
  • [Popular Saying], But...: "Today's proverb", the Credits Gag after the episode often takes this form.
    "If you love someone, set them free. Set them free now. This is the police, and we have you surrounded."
  • P.O.V. Sequel: Episode 19B tells almost the exact same story as 19A, but from a Desert Bluffs perspective.
  • Precision F-Strike: None in the actual show, but in two of the Weather segments: "Neptune's Jewels" in Episode 17 and "Stupid" in Episode 47.
    • In a show mostly devoid of swearing, Cecil's repeated "What an asshole," regarding the Apache Tracker stands out.
  • Present Tense Narrative: The show lapses into this frequently, usually when there's breaking news or something is literally happening in the studio.
  • Preserve Your Gays: Night Vale has two gay heroes: Carlos the Scientist and Cecil the Radio Host. Cecil repeatedly survives events that would typically kill most characters, from fighting off golems barehanded to surviving toxic gas attacks. During season one Carlos nearly dies but the (presumably) heterosexual Apache Tracker sacrifices himself as a "redeeming moment" so that Carlos can live.
  • President Evil: The City Council, collectively, fill this role.
  • Pretty Fly for a White Guy: The Apache Tracker, who is a white man in a historically inaccurate and absurdly large "Red Indian-style" head-dress.
  • Privately Owned Society: Desert Bluffs is run by StrexCorp, as Kevin cheerfully discusses.
  • Product Placement: The semi-regular "Word From Our Sponsor" segments, which involve Cecil relating some horrific story, generally in the second person, followed by the sponsor's name and slogan. Given the typical content of these stories, one hopes that the companies did not pay too much for the ad space.
    • Then again, this is Night Vale. These ads might actually work.
  • Psmith Psyndrome: Old Woman Josie can tell Cecil is misspelling the angels' name, and he doesn't seem to question how she figured that out.
    "'Erica?' I asked."
    "'No, no, Erika, with a K,' she said."
    "'Ohh, Erika, with a K,' I said."
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Suffered by Cecil once when he tried to text Dana after she became trapped in the dog park.
  • Purple Prose: Cecil will occasionally, and without warning, launch into soliloquies or what sounds like poetry. Even in normal news stories, he'll go into very detailed literary and metaphysical descriptions.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: In Episode 148, "The Broadcaster", the Blood Space War comes to an end - because the winning side manipulates the timeline to undo the existence of everyone in the entire universe, except for Cecil's predecessor as the Voice of Night Vale, Leonard Burton, and an emissary of the "winning" side.
    "'But you have achieved peace!', I argued. 'I have achieved peace', she said. 'And in doing so, I have made it so that no one in this city, or this world, or this universe, ever lived. I have achieved an infinitude of emptiness.'

    Tropes R - Z 
  • Rain of Something Unusual: There's a sentient glowing cloud that rains down animal carcasses. No one in Night Vale really seems to mind, however, since they've all been Conditioned to Accept Horror.
  • Reality Is Out to Lunch: Reality is on a legendary infinite drug trip. And it's not the happy kind.
  • Redemption Equals Death: The Apache Tracker. Nobody likes him, and Cecil frequent refers to him as a racist and a jerk but when he saves Carlos from the miniature people and is fatally wounded in the process, Cecil calls him a good man.
    • And then goes on to acknowledge in the next episode that while the Apache Tracker's heroic actions were worthy of the statue the City Council had built of him, said statue was then buried somewhere in the desert because he was still a racist jerk and nobody wanted Night Vale to be associated with him.
  • Red Shirt: The constant deaths of the community station's lowly interns/staffers. Cecil will mention their "sacrifice" to the station's cause, though by the time we get to Intern Jesús, he can't seem to be bothered any more. It's worth pointing out that Cecil himself was once an intern, making him either extraordinarily lucky, borderline indestructible, an Action Survivor, or something in between.
    • The Night Vale Community Radio intern shirts in the Night Vale online store are, appropriately enough, solid red.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Episode 25 marks the first moment Carlos is shown to reciprocate Cecil's long-standing crush. Two episodes later, they begin dating. The live episode "Condos" suggests that Carlos wants to move in with Cecil. Cecil refers to Carlos as "my boyfriend" for the first time in Episode 32.
    • As of Episode 100, Cecil and Carlos are married.
  • Released to Elsewhere: It is not entirely specified what "re-education" consists of, but it is very possible it refers to this trope.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Episode 44, "Cookies," focuses on Cecil's niece, Janice, a Girl Scout upon whom he dotes, to the point that he buys her entire stock of Girl Scout cookies, and spends the better part of his radio broadcast hawking them. What a loving, affectionate uncle! Except that Janice had never been mentioned before. (Janice's presence, however, does resolve a Running Gag about why Cecil despises Steve Carlsberg so much — Steve is Janice's negligent and ne'er-do-well stepfather.)
  • La Résistance: Tamika Flynn is leading one against StrexCorp. As of Episode 36, Cecil is subtly encouraging the rest of Night Vale to fight against them as well.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: Tamika Flynn's anti-Strex army are absolutely the good guys, but given Tamika's nature, they aren't going to play nice.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Villified: Tamika Flynn's anti-Strex army are absolutely the good guys, but given Tamika's nature, they aren't going to play nice.
  • Riddle of the Sphinx: Subverted in one of the proverbs:
    "What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs in the afternoon, and three legs at evening? I don't know, but I have it trapped in my closet, send help."
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Cecil's outfits include: his best tunic and furry pants, a Hawaiian shirt and a hat made of honeycombs, tights and sponge clogs, and according to the Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover, a fanny pack most of the time.
    • After he's returned from briefly joining a mind-controlling cult, he wonders this about his outfit:
      Cecil: The only thing different is that now I’m wearing a black plastic poncho, cat ears, and yellow galoshes. This was definitely not what I wore to work, as I do not own yellow galoshes. They’re orange.
      Cecil: Oh, I don’t know. These are kind of orange-ish. The lighting in my studio’s weird. Maybe these boots are mine.
      Cecil: Yeah. I’m wearing exactly what I was wearing before, I think.
    • It's generally a Running Gag that whenever someone's outfit is described (With some exceptions, like Carlos' Labcoat of Science and Medicine), it's gonna be something like that. Examples include: Sheriff's Secret Policemen wearing Nixon masks, Michelle Nguyen wearing "a vintage summoning cloak and a dog catcher’s cap, and has two tiny neon signs attached to her face indicating her eyes", and an election offical in "a plague doctor mask, an off-brand Snuggie, and stilts". Even Carlos has a "laid-back weekend labcoat" (Episode 27) or a "running labcoat" coupled with Lycra shorts (75).
  • Running Gag:
    • "If you like what we do here, and want to help us [something weird], please consider giving us a small monthly donation."
    • Every single one of Cecil's verbal tics.
    • The City Council consistently throwing money into pointless and insane projects.
    • The creepy music during most "A Word From Our Sponsor" segments cutting out abruptly at the end for Cecil to state the sponsor's name.
    • Hiram McDaniels' actions consistently being talked about before it's mentioned that he is a five-headed dragon.
    • Another running gag with Hiram is the fact that he often tries to hide the fact that he is, in fact, a literal five-headed dragon. Cecil will then quote Hiram... and proceed to also quote Hiram's various other heads arguing amongst themselves.
    • The House That Doesn't Exist. The one in the Desert Creek housing development that looks like it exists, like it's just right there when you look at it, and it's between two other identical houses, so it would make more sense for it to be there than not.
    • The radio station interns coming to an untimely and often grisly end.
    • Cecil's inability to return Dana's texts, as every time he tries something horrifically unnatural starts happening to his cell phone and/or his person.
    • "Hi, this is Joseph Fink... for real this time."
  • Santa Claus: Everyone knows Santa is just a pack of drugged-up bears in Santa outfits that are released by the CIA every Christmas.
  • Scandalgate: Cecil coins the terms "Drawbridgegate" and "Pteranadon Attackgate".
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: The Apache Tracker claims to be this, to the point of claiming to be able to read tracks in concrete and asphalt. While he's seemingly competent by Night Vale standards, whether he actually is and he's not just delusional is up for debate.
  • Scary Librarian: The librarians are never described, but are feared by all.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Carlos refuses the five dollars he's offered to ring the doorbell of the house that doesn't exist, although Cecil questions his decision.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Carlos gets fed up with all the crazy unscientific nonsense in the The Thrilling Adventure Hour crossover and projects himself back into the parallel alternate desert otherworld where he lives. As you do.
    • Cecil feels like following him by Episode 68 due to several months of being the Unwitting Pawn in the conflict between the mayor and the Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home.
  • Secret Police: The Sheriff's Secret Police. They're not very secret, since Cecil talks about them a lot, even though it seems that the authorities monitor what he says.
  • Shame If Something Happened: Cecil tells his listeners to tip the leaders of the road crews working on the highway generously. Also, "Lack of tipping is the leading cause of sink-holes in the U.S."
    • The constant prodding of Cecil's new boss, Lauren, about Carlos and Cecil's niece Janice, sounds suspiciously like this trope.
  • Shout-Out:
    Cecil: "Item: Have you seen a tall shadow where no shadow should be cast? Have you seen a person exist in two places at the same time? Have you seen a young girl with an upside-down face? No, you haven’t. That would be ridiculous! Grow up! Sincerely, Richard. Also, if anyone’s seen my wife, please let me know."
    • During "Who's A Good Boy? Part 1", Carlos is freaking out over the Strangers:
    Carlos: I just… I can’t figure out what these strangers want! They don’t seem to want anything!
    Cecil: You know that it's not good for you to get worked up like this. Take a break. Play some Bloodborne, that'll relax you.
  • Signing Off Catchphrase: "Good night, Night Vale. Good night."
    • "Until next time, Desert Bluffs. Until next time."note 
    • According to 15-year-old Cecil, the previous host of Night Vale's radio station, Leonard, signed off with "See ya, Night Vale. See ya."
  • Sinister Deer Skull: One of the many enigmatic and vaguely menacing elder beings in Night Vale is Huntokar the Destroyer, who appears in the form of a woman with the head of a deer. It eventually turns out that she's Night Vale's forgotten protector deity, who is responsible for the fragmented nature of time and space around the city after she tried to save it from a nuclear war in an alternate timeline.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis:
    • Cecil despises Steve Carlsberg, who is actually very friendly in return.
    • Desert Bluffs could be seen as one to Night Vale as a whole, at least until we found out how horrifying it actually is.
  • Skewed Priorities: In Episode 61, Night Vale is plagued by the Sun in the sky multiplying exponentially, from one to two, then two to four. Cecil spends most of this potential apocalypse complaining about the radio station not getting any water.
  • Small Town Rivalry: With the neighboring town of Desert Bluffs.
  • Special Edition Opening Theme: In Episode 19B, the regular theme song is replaced by a pleasant guitar tune which is the theme song for the Desert Bluffs community radio channel. It returns in Episodes 47 and 48 when StrexCorp takes over Night Vale and assimilates it into the 'Greater Desert Bluffs Metropolitan Area'. All three shows are hosted by Kevin.
  • Spell My Name with an S: A lot of names tend to be misspelled. For the record, according to Jeffrey Cranor, it's "Steve Carlsberg" with an "e", "Old Woman Josie" with an "ie", "Telly" with a "y", and the levitating bathroom cat's name is "Khoshekh".
  • Spiders Are Scary: And it's statistically likely that there's one on you at all times. Also, that it's one of the really ugly ones.
  • Stealth Pun:
    • In Episode 1, Carlos visits the studio with a Geiger counter and promptly advises everyone to evacuate. Clearly the studio has high levels of "radio activity".
    • In Episode 148, Leonard Burton says "The French are making up phrases for I don't know what". "I don't know what" is the literal translation of "je ne sais quoi", a common French idiom used to refer to a hard-to-define quality.
  • Stepford Smiler: How Kevin, Cecil's counterpart from Desert Bluffs, describes being happy.
    "Step one: separate your lips. Step two: use facial muscles to pull back the corners of your mouth. Step three: widen your eyes. This is how to be happy."
    • He later clarifies that he doesn't feel much of anything at all.
  • Strangely Specific Horoscope: Episode 6 features a horoscopes section where each of the zodiac signs are given increasingly odd/hilarious horoscopes. Among other things, Cecil warns Capricorns that "those were not contact lenses you put in this morning", announces that its Taurus's "annual crime day" where they're exempt from all laws, and simply curses Scorpios and their families and calls them "vile" for no understandable reason. (Steve Carlsburg, Cecil's at-the-time hated brother-in-law, later turns out to be a Scorpio.)
  • Strawman News Media: A rare sympathetic example. Cecil seems to be generally biased in favor of Night Vale's totalitarian municipal government and uncritically relays a lot of obvious misinformation, but he also doesn't seem to know any better and is clearly well-meaning.
    • That being said, there are signs that Cecil might just be complying with the official story because he knows what might happen if he doesn't. After all, even his credulity/compliance is strained when the City Council explains that the feral dog pack seen around town was really just plastic bags. There's also a vaguely snarky tone to his references to the local police and government (once referred to "unsupervised, gun-toting thugs of a shadow government"). He seems to disapprove, but isn't in much of a position to directly say anything negative. Cecil seems to know enough not to trust StrexCorp when they arrive in Episode 32, and he pirates the station's signal to express his support of Tamika's rebellion in Episode 36. He also mentions in that pirate broadcast that he's frequently prevented from saying what he really thinks.
    • The end of Episode 48 implies that Night Vale (or at least Cecil) is fine being run by certain organizations, such as the city council and the vague yet menacing government agency (along with chemtrails, the Secret Order of Reptile Kings and mysterious lights that hover above us), but they will never be controlled by the Smiling God that is StrexCorp.
  • Supporting Protagonist: Although Cecil has his moments of action, it's really Carlos, Dana and Tamika who do the actual adventuring and heroics. Carlos seems to spend his days being a Science Hero, Dana is on an epic quest, and Tamika is the leader of a huge resistance movement against StrexCorp... and Cecil, in his booth, tries to support them the best he can. The times when he fails can make for heavy-hitting Wham Episode stories.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: The authority figures in Night Vale pretty much run on this trope.
    • "The City Council would like to remind you about the Tiered Heavens, and the hierarchy of angels... the reminder is that you should not know anything about this. The structure of Heaven and the angelic organizational chart are privileged information, known only to the City Council members on a need-to-know basis. Please, do not speak to or acknowledge any angels that you may come across while shopping at the Ralph's, or at the Desert Flower Bowling Alley and Arcade Fun Complex. They only tell lies, and do not exist. Report all angel sightings to the City Council for treatment."
    • Taken to extreme heights by the city's mayor: "Notice: There is no digital, static hum coming from the dog park, Mayor Pamela Winchell announced today. The mayor stressed repeatedly, in her ninety-second impromptu press conference, that there is no unbearable, soul-tearing sound that rips at the sinews of your very being coming from the dog park. Mayor Winchell continued with a plea for all Night Vale residents to understand that there could not possibly be a deeply coded message emanating from a small fenced-in patch of municipal grass and dirt. Citizens are not even supposed to be consciously aware of the dog park, so they could not possibly be receiving a menacing and unearthly voice instructing listeners to bring precious metals and toddlers to the dog park. 'Dog park', she repeated, 'that could never, ever be real', the mayor shouted, pounding the podium with her bleeding fists. There were no follow-up questions."
    • "Pink Floyd isn't even a thing!"
    • Exaggerated in the Whole Foods ad from Episode 49A: "At Whole Foods, we don't have any rotting, decaying matter mixed into our products. There are no secret blood rooms in our stores. Where we keep the secret blood. None of the boxes of cereal contain spiders, and if they did, they would be very friendly, helpful spiders. Why, wouldn't you be lucky to find a spider like that in a box of Whole Foods cereal? Or not just one. Hundreds of them. But anyway, you won't. Whole Foods serves only the freshest food, and we certainly do not keep venomous snakes under the fruit in our produce section. Why would we? That would be dangerous and not good for business. No one has died of a snake bite at Whole Foods. No one you know. Whole Foods: why in the world would we poison our frozen dinners? We definitely do not do that."
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: In Episode 215: "Sarah Sultan, Explained" the University of What-It-Is tries to explain how the mysteries of Nightvale work, their attempt ends up essentially killing Sarah Sultan by proving river rocks can't think.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: While Cecil always seems to have time to wax poetical in the midst of dangerous happenings, an especially notable example occurs when Lauren and Kevin find Cecil's hiding spot at the end of Episode 46. Cecil has a very long time to describe Kevin and express his feelings of horror and despair before the two interrupt him to seize his microphone (and Cecil himself).
    • Subverted and perhaps lampshaded in Episode 38 when Cecil ponders sending a long, passionate text to Carlos in the face of his impending death by John Peters (y'know, the impostor) and a reality-bending orange— but then realizes it would take too long and just whacks Fake!John upside the head with the phone.
  • Team Pet: Khoshekh, the cat floating 4 feet above the ground in the men's bathroom of the station.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: In "Old Oak Doors", Carlos, in the voice mail he leaves for Cecil, explains "some, but not all" of the emotions he had while figuring out how the doors work.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "The Ballad of Fielder and Mundt" is heard in the middle of Episode 48 when Cecil takes back his show from Kevin and Lauren.
  • Theme Song: While the background music changes each episode, the opening and closing music is always "The Ballad of Fiedler and Mundt" by Disparition.
  • Things That Go "Bump" in the Night
    • The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home can be helpful (putting clean sheets on your bed and downloading a faster browser for your computer), but she's just as likely to light your refrigerator on fire because it was upsetting her. Plus, you never see her, even when she's standing right beside you and touching your hand.
    • Then there are the several thousand highly trained spiders the agents of a vague, yet menacing, government agency released in your home. You may sometimes feel them brushing against your lips and cheeks.
  • Title Drop: Usually, the title of an episode is the primary focus of the episode, but there are a few exceptions:
    • Episode 34, "A Beautiful Dream"
    Computer: "There will not be war anymore, Megan. There will no longer be hatred or bigotry. Desert Bluffs will no longer exist. There will be fewer ice-cream flavors, but they will be better. The air will be clean. I promise you, Megan. I will make the world as you saw in your beautiful dream. No more teasing or pain. I will fix everything for you, my only friend."
  • Town with a Dark Secret: Night Vale has plenty.
    • Desert Bluffs has a more cheery exterior, but evidence suggests that the situation there is just as bad if not worse than the one in Night Vale.
  • The Transit Service That Wasn't There Yesterday: The plot of Episode 29A was the appearance of a citywide subway system, literally overnight. After one day of operation, service was suspended until further notice because of construction, but the deer-masked entities responsible promised would-be passengers that free shuttle buses would be provided when one least expects it, at moments of great despair and hopelessness.
  • The Treachery of Images: Carlos and his team of scientists frequently report things like this.
    • The house that doesn't actually exist, despite everyone seeing it, and it being between two other, identical, actually-existing houses. But Carlos and his scientists are pretty sure that, after making many complex measurements and calculations, it doesn't exist. As Dana discovers, you can apparently get there from the dog park. And leaving through the front door leads to a reality where Night Vale does not exist. But apparently still has cell phone reception.
    • Later, Carlos reports that his seismographs are recording huge earthquakes happening all the time... that otherwise are not seen, felt, or detected by anyone else.
    • The Sun randomly sets ten minutes later than it's supposed to one day, without reason. Carlos eventually discovers that it's not that the Sun is wrong, it's just that none of the clocks in Night Vale are real.
    • At one point, Wednesday is cancelled due to a scheduling error.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: The main obstacle standing between StrexCorp and their complete domination of Night Vale is an army of well-read children highly trained in the deadly arts.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: Invoked by, of all people, the owners of the Night Vale Mall. When their Santa fails to show up to take pictures with small children, they claim it's a performance art piece intended to show the hollowness of the capitalist system. They also announce their intent to pull a similar project on Valentine's Day, involving teddy bears and pictures of actual beating hearts.
  • Unknown Rival: Cecil will express disgust with the rival town Desert Bluffs whenever they come up in his broadcast and will go on about how awful it is. When Night Vale comes up in Kevin's broadcast to Desert Bluffs, however, he makes no mention of any negative feelings between the towns and says that he bets Night Vale is wonderful and beautiful.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Cecil clearly sometimes lies and/or repeats lies he's been told. In "The Sandstorm", Cecil describes being attacked by his doppelgänger (i.e. Kevin) but choosing to have mercy on him. Kevin, whose word is equally suspect, says they hugged. Of the two of them, it's not clear who is actually more unreliable in this case.
    • Perhaps Kevin did attempt to hug Cecil in the vortex but Cecil took the action as an attack and reflexively fought back against him. Cecil was rather shaken up by the whole affair and Kevin has shown himself to be unendingly, unnaturally cheerful. Or perhaps hugging is seen as an act of aggression in Night Vale. Or perhaps "hug" is Desert Bluffs' term for attempted strangulation.
      • Given the Desert Bluffs intern/helper doppelgänger helping the original to "Put up shelving" ended up with a death, whereas the Night Vale one was just a pure attack, it seems like Desert Bluffs has a more happy outlook on violence.
    • Steve Carlsberg's monologue stated that he's the only person in town with clear knowledge of what's going on in Night Vale. How does he know? Glowing arrows in the sky.
    • Interestingly, Cecil is not even reliably unreliable. The sheer weirdness of Night Vale creates a high probability that at least SOME of the information he's passing along is actually true, and only seems absurd because of Night Vale's Reality Warper nature.
  • The Unreveal: The identity of the Man in the Tan Jacket, or a big clue related to it, was found by Intern Vithya in the town archives, but she Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence before she could give the file to anyone.
  • The Unsmile: Cecil and Kevin both describe each other's smiles this way.
    • "Is that even a smile?"
    • "No. That is not a smile."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The "Glow Cloud" (ALL HAIL) from Episode 2, a menacing glowing cloud of something that drifts over the town. It rains small dead animals, exhibits a low whistling noise at all times, and is later revealed to be sentient and can take over people's minds and control them. But... this being Night Vale, no one's overly concerned.
    "One death has already been attributed to the Glow Cloud. But listen... it's probably nothing. If we had to shut down the town for every mysterious event that at least one death could be attributed to, we'd never have time to do anything, right? That's what the Sheriff's Secret Police are saying, and I agree, although I would not go so far as to endorse their suggestion to 'run directly at the cloud, shrieking and waving your arms just to see what it does.'"
    • The Glow Cloud later wins an election for president of the school board. Because why not.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: A couple of Kevin's lines suggests that he's of this opinion.
    Kevin: It feels good to have a crime-free tomorrow, doesn’t it? It makes any crimes that happen today feel justified.
  • Vague Age: Neither Cecil nor Earl know how old they are. They know they graduated high school the same year, but neither remembers when that was. Teddy Williams, owner of the Desert Flower Bowling Alley And Arcade Fun Complex, also doesn't know how old he is.
  • Vagueness Is Coming: "The unravelling of all things" is coming.
  • Valentine's Day Violence: No romance seems to be involved; apparently a normal Valentine's Day in Night Vale involves widespread property damage and terrible loss of human life. In the days following, the streets are cleared to allow emergency vehicles through to the affected areas, which are strewn with corpses, rubble, and chalky candy hearts.
  • Valley Girl: Cecil imitates the pretentious modern artists at the mall and hypothetical critics of Hiram McDaniels speaking this way. Cecil also tends to slip into a valley-girl-type speech pattern on occasion himself, most egregiously when describing a conversation he had with Carlos in Episode 16, but also just from time to time when speaking off the cuff.
    "And then I was like, 'Right, right, right' and I felt dumb, because that's like, the first thing you learn in seventh-grade Transmigration Studies..."
  • Verbal Tic:
    • Whenever Carlos is mentioned, there's also a reference to how beautiful and/or perfect he is.
    • Whenever The Glow Cloud is mentioned, you can hear any speaking character give a quick "All hail!"
    • Whenever Cecil introduces Hiram he likes to remind the listener that Hiram is literally a five-headed dragon.
  • Villains Out Shopping: For most of Episode 39, we are warned via a possessed Cecil of the horrible and terrifying Woman From Italy. Turns out she just wanted to do some window shopping and buy a Razor scooter, and left the town without major incident.
  • The Virus: The Strangers function as this forcing their horrifying existence on other people the second they are allowed to get too close.
  • Vocal Evolution: Cecil sounds much more disconnected in early episodes, almost to the point of Dissonant Serenity.
  • Walking Transplant: In Episode 40, an unnamed, one-handed man from Nulogorsk becomes a body donor for Megan Wallaby.
  • We Can Rule Together: Kevin pulls this on Cecil in Episode 49. Cecil refuses, but Steve Carlsberg wavers... until Kevin implies that Steve's disabled stepdaughter is "broken".
  • Weirdness Censor: Mostly averted, as the townspeople are perfectly aware of the various odd things that happen in Night Vale, they've just been desensitized to it. Or ordered not to notice it by the city council. Played straight in a few instances, such as the hooded figures around town that no one acknowledges (lest bad things happen to them), or the Shape in Grove Park that No One Acknowledges or Speaks About.
  • Wham Episode: Plenty.
    • In Episode 19, we finally see something from Desert Bluffs. And it is horrifying.
    • In Episode 32, Old Woman Josie's angel friends disappear, the Man in the Tan Jacket is given several possible names... and StrexCorp moves into Night Vale, buying the radio station.
    • In Episode 33, we discover that Cecil's memories are highly fallible and something terrible happened to him during his teenage years that sounds suspiciously like dying.
    • As of Episode 45, Old Woman Josie's house has been "silent and empty for months now." As we heard in 32: "if she falls, so does this town."
    • Episode 46 as well; Mayor Pamela Winchell acknowledges the existence of angels (and possibly mountains), mysterious doors open to show both members of the giant army wandering with Dana and possibly an angelic Old Woman Josie, and most importantly, Tamika Flynn and her child militia fight back against StrexCorp... and fail, leading to both them and Cecil being captured.
    • Episode 65; Not only does it include pretty much every voiced character from the show, but it contains three big revelations. 1) Carlos finally figured out that the desert otherworld is contained within the dog park, thereby giving Cecil a way to come visit and possibly for Carlos to get out, 2) Fey (the Numbers Station AI) still has some of her sentience and was able to momentarily break out of her repetition by herself, and 3) Kevin is still around and kicking, and he (and presumably Desert Bluffs/the remnants of the Old StrexCorp/The Smiling God) have something big planned for Night Vale in the very near future.
    • More big revelations in Episode 67, where it is established that Cecil is at least 270 years old. Cecil (or at least something mostly Cecil-ish), broadcasting as an intern for Night Vale Community Radio, describes the arrival of the founders of Night Vale. Later in the episode, Cecil describes his trip to Europe, where he met Guglielmo Marconi, and discussed his exciting new invention: radio. He goes on to describe the trenches of the Great War, the town's contributions to the war effort during the Second World War, and the annihilation of Nulogorsk, along with the rest of the world, as the Cold War suddenly goes hot. Then, just as nuclear fire consumes the station, the recording skips, and everything is fine. Simone Rigadeau, Professor of Earth Sciences, is the only person left who remembers the alternate timeline (and has been claiming that the world ended in 1983 since Episode 12).
    • Episode 73: Triptych. As one YouTube comment put it: "Triptych - AKA the episode that made the entire fandom freeze."
    • Episode 88: Things Fall Apart. The town has been entirely invaded by Strangers and it's implied that Cecil might be their next victim.
    • Episode 107: It's revealed that the tiny city under Night Vale is actually an alternate Night Vale.
    • Episode 109, "A Story About Huntokar" reveals Huntokar was responsible for basically everything, from the very founding of Night Vale, to the then-current crisis of reality cracking for every Night Vale that ever was and ever shall be, due to trying to rescue the town from nuclear destruction in the 80s.
    • Episode 147, "The Protester" has the Blood Space War mess with the timeline, erasing various aspects of Night Vale like the Dog Park while Cecil muses on the implications, from wondering whether it makes a difference since you don't remember something that doesn't exist, to existential dread over knowing that something you care about could cease to exist. Then he ends the show mentioning how he wishes there were some scientist in town to give his perspective, but there aren't any scientists in Night Vale that he knows of.
    • Episode 195, “Silas The Thief, Part 1”, gives us the origins of Khoshekh the cat
  • Wham Line:
    • In Episode 19A, "The Sandstorm"
      Kevin: Hello... Desert Bluffs?
    • In Episode 47, "Company Picnic"...
      Lauren: Welcome to the Greater Desert Bluffs Metropolitan Area.
    • Said episode is entirely hosted by Lauren and Kevin, we hear nothing of Cecil's fate, and all of Night Vale, barring Carlos, is rounded into a work camp.
    • It boomerangs on Lauren and Kevin in Episode 48, "Renovations." A mysterious vortex appears in the Strex-controlled studio, and a figure steps out of it. Cue the cheers from the audience as Kevin intones, "He is holding... he is holding... a cat."
    • In Episode 66, "worms...", after nearly three years of total denial of the goings-on inside the dog park, we get this.
      Cecil: Have you ever asked yourself... why the dog park is off limits?
    • In Episode 195, “Silas The Thief, Part 1”, “And my name is Silas! Not Khoshekh!”
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • The "coffee date" planned in Episode 16 doesn't come up again, although it seems somewhat uncharacteristic of Cecil to not talk about it. Episode 27 implies Cecil may have realized Carlos didn't consider it to be a date.
    • Despite Khoshekh's prominent role in Episode 43, Khoshekh's kittens, who are also suspended at a fixed point in space, are not mentioned once in the episode. (They do however show up as a fired Chekhov's Gun in Episode 48, but not in relation to events of Episode 43.)
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Intern Maureen calls out Cecil on the high fatality rate of his internship program, probably the first one on the show to do so.
    • Followed shortly by an epic Comically Missing the Point moment, as Maureen rattles off a list of deceased interns and asks Cecil what they all have in common and even interrupts her to announce another intern has died and will be missed without even realizing he was proving her point.
      Cecil: They all had a commendable interest in community radio!
  • Where the Hell Is Springfield?:
    • Night Vale is established to be somewhere in the deserts of the American Southwest, and definitely not in Texas. Anything more than that is uncertain.
    • The local grocery store is a Ralphs, which would suggest south-eastern California (the only desert region where Ralphs operates). Joseph Fink grew up near this area, which has many weird little towns.note  Mentone is a candidate as is Yucca Valley; Forest Falls and Mountain Home Village would be excellent settings for nearby Pine Cliffsnote . Cecil mentions "Joshua trees" in "The Registry of Middle School Crushes"; this could refer to Joshua Tree National Park or the nearby weird little town of Joshua Tree — a hippie enclave which actually had a community radio station until 2016, when it was forced to shut down by increased royalty demands from the RIAA — the lawyers who own the record companies. Today's nearest equivalent would probably be Ken Layne's Desert Oracle Radio.
    • The desert immediately surrounding Night Vale is flat enough that mountain sceptics had to be taken on a long field trip to see a real one. This narrows the list of possible locations as much of the northern Great Basin is quite rugged terrain. Thus, Night Vale is not near the Pass towns, San Jacinto, Redlands, Hemet or Banning-Beaumont. "[Best Of?]" reveals that there are actually hills in Night Vale, but everyone avoids looking at or thinking about them for fear of the Eldritch Abominations living within.
    • Muddying the waters further, the local "numbers station" has the call sign WZZZ, which would indicate it is east of the Mississippi river (stations to the west have K call signs). It's possible this is an honest mistake, since the show is recorded in W-sign New York City. (There are a few real-life exceptions to this rule, too.)
    • Lampshaded in "Old Oak Doors Part B", with Carlos, explaining that he can't remember how he got to the town to begin with, asks "where is Night Vale, anyway?".
    • More evidence for California comes when the Carnival realizes it isn't in Modesto.
    • This all assumes that Night Vale even has a fixed physical location to begin with.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The topic of the commercial break in "The Candidate".
  • World's Most Beautiful Woman:
    • Gender flipped with Carlos, who Cecil rarely fails to describe in the most glowing of terms. Nearly anyone who talks about him will mention his perfect hair.
    • In "The Traveler", the eponymous traveler marries the town's third most beautiful woman.
  • Worst News Judgement Ever: Cecil's Kent Brockman News is usually just professional enough to include what's most important but he really drops the ball when the blinking red light appears on top of the mountain. A few minutes later he realizes he should have first mentioned the new mountain, which had risen out of the mud plains. A few more minutes and he realizes that he also should have established the mud plains that have appeared beneath the invading masked army. It only takes him a moment or two to conclude that he should have led with the invading masked army in the first place.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: The Night Vale Subway works like this, at least in the perception of its passengers.
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside:
    • The entirety of Night Vale, compared to the rest of the world. For every 10,080 minutes (one week) that pass in Night Vale, 11,783 minutes pass for everyone else. Or, if you want the rough math, Night Vale is approximately 1 minute and 10 seconds behind the rest of the world.
    • Also possibly Nulogorsk, given that they are apparently still dating their correspondence 1983.
    • The podcast itself, which references events taking several hours even though each each episode is only ~25 minutes long. "Homecoming" has weeks go by thanks to a nasty storm during the weather.
    • The University of What It Is mentions that Carlos has been missing for decades, implying either that Night Vale is this, or possibly that the University is Year Inside, Hour Outside.
    • It's unclear what precisely is going on with time in the episode "Michigan", but you could make the argument for this, as Kareen spends 2 years living in Night Vale, but when he leaves to visit his family they imply he's been gone for 20 years. He then spends 2 weeks with them and when he returns Cecil claims that he's only been gone about 5 minutes. On the other hand, all attempts Kareen makes to communicate with his family from within Night Vale suggest that his letters and phone calls are either reaching back in time to before he departed, or possibly into another dimension entirely, as his family claims that he's there with them, and he even manages to talk to himself over the phone. Time is weird in Night Vale.
  • Your Mom: Episode 77 was sponsored by her.

"Goodnight, Night Vale. Goodnight..."