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Dimension 404 is an anthology series streaming on Hulu, created by Dez Dolly and Will Campos, co-created by Dan Johnson and David Welch, produced by RocketJump and Lionsgate Television, and narrated by Mark Hamill. Each episode is a different story with a twist (like The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits, and Black Mirror).
Tropes about the entire show:
- Genre Anthology: Each episode is a self-contained story. There are allusions to other episodes, but they may or may not take place in the same universe. Either way they're not directly connected. Possibly the American answer to Black Mirror.
- Interface Screw: Episodes are done in order to take advantage of the fact that it was meant to be streamed, leading to intentional loading/buffering signs, ads, and references to it being streamed.
MatchMaker"A finicky music blogger finally meets the girl of his dreams through the cutting-edge online dating site Make-A-Match, but their chemistry seems too good to be true."
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Given just how many rejected partners are seen in Make-A-Match, it seems like nobody actually likes the partner they wind up with. Creating somebody who is completely devoted to you makes them come across as clingy and obsessive, and loading them with your own favorite hobbies and interests winds up with you being bored and fed up.
- Cloning Blues: It turns out that Adam is a specially designed clone, made for Amanda's specifications. In fact, he is the fifth Adam there is. All of Make-A-Match is about making a person's perfect match, rather than finding it.
- Did Not Get the Girl: The entire episode is basically about how Adam has to figure out how to live without Amanda since he was specifically created to love her.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The Running Gag ads for Make-A-Match are made to look like the Real Life ads that typically interrupt Hulu videos, complete with the ad timer in the corner.
- The Matchmaker: What Make-a-Match is supposed to be, although what it really does is specifically clone a person with all the traits that a user wants. And if that clone doesn't work out, well, there's plenty more clones to go around.
- Running Gag: The video of a couple in love that met through Make-A-Match. As the episode goes on, the woman gets noticeably uncomfortable about how clingy her partner is. Then the ad changes when she switches to a new clone, but she likes that one even less. The final ad is interrupted by the clone revolt.
Cinethrax"A snooty cinema purist struggles to convince his fellow film-goers that the 3D movie they're watching is summoning forth a brain-sucking interdimensional monster only he can see."
- Apocalypse Wow: The episode ends with an invasion by giant tentacled creatures. The Earth is pretty much doomed.
- Bittersweet Ending: The world is coming to an end, but Uncle Dusty doesn't have to experience it. Instead, he can have his mind be absorbed by Cinethrax like his niece and live connected to everyone else. The episode ends with Uncle Dusty putting on his Cinethrax glasses as the entire theater sings his niece's favorite song.
- Foreshadowing: Uncle Dusty is wearing a They Live t-shirt, which foreshadows how his "Shifter" glasses make him the only one able to see the monster in the movie theater.
- Nostalgia Filter: Dusty spends most of the episode talking down to modern movies and technology, while talking up how good older films are.
- Not So Different: After Dusty sees the creature and tries to warn people about it, the staff at the movie theater point out to Dusty that people ran in terror from the first movie because they thought the images were real. They explain that he is just panicking the same way over the new 4D system, and it is no different from the people a hundred years ago who thought they were going to be run over by a train.
- New Media Are Evil: Cinethrax, the new "4D" system, is being used by some sort of alien creature to take over the viewing audience.
Chronos"A hopelessly nostalgic physics student fights to prove her sanity when no one on Earth can remember her favorite 90's cartoon show."
- Brick Joke: In the beginning of the episode, Sue says that if time travel is ever invented, she will put her finished term paper in a drawer, but when she looks, it's empty. At the end of the episode, she looks in the drawer at that moment to find a note from her other self telling her to write the paper herself.
- Edutainment Show: Time Ryder specifically refers to his show as "Edutainment", and it contains important messages on finishing your homework. Every episode closes with him telling the Chrono-Teens how special they are, and how their minds are better than all the time travel technology there could be.
- Reset Button: By erasing her memories of Time Ryder, Sue basically resets the timeline, meaning that she can now write her paper without interference...and go on to invent time travel.
- Ret Gone: Happens to the Time Ryder and the time-travel facility, as well as the Time Ryder cartoon and all related memorialize by the end of the episode, once their future is erased.
- San Dimas Time: Becomes a significant factor towards the end of the episode. Because of this, even though Sue is in the 90's, she's in a literal race against time to finish her paper before deadline, as time is still passing in the present.
- Sophisticated as Hell: It turns out that Time Ryder is this. He says that he comes from a future that is perfect...but Entropy comes from a future that "sucks."
- Stable Time Loop: The Time Ryder cartoon from the 90's inspired countless children and thus contributed to a utopian future and the creation of a real time machine and a real Time Ryder. However, it is later revealed that the cartoon itself was created by time-travelers from the future, including the real Time Ryder, to inspire the creation of their own future.
- Related to the above. Sue is revealed to be the inventor of time-travel. However, Sue was largely inspired to create time-travel because of her lifelong obsession with the Time Ryder cartoons - which will only exist if she invents time-travel! Although the ending suggests that even in a timeline where the Time Ryder cartoon never existed, Sue will end up inventing time-travel.
- Show Within a Show: Time Ryder and the Chrono-Teens. Sue describes it as like Captain Planet but better.
- Time Travel: The premise of the episode. It turns out Sue was the one who invented time travel and is the "Mother of Time."
Polybius"A young arcade junkie attempts to master POLYBIUS, a sinister new game of unknown origin that induces nightmarish visions, but when kids start dying, he must beat the game to unlock its deadly secrets."
- Gayngst: Andrew is bullied and insulted for being rumored to be gay, which is made the worse for him since he actually is gay. He is in love with Jess, his best friend, and does not know how he could possibly come out to anybody.
- Haunted Technology: The Polybius arcade cabinet itself.
- Kill Screen: Andrew starts the episode trying to reach the kill screen on Frogger, but he does not quite make it. This is also how they finally defeat Polybius, as he gets 100,000 points and the game cannot handle a score that high and crashes.
- The Men in Black: A man who who does not identify himself but seems to know about Polybius approaches Andrew after the murder at the school. Andrew, Jess and Amy think he must be either working for the government or working for the game. He is here to cover up the incident, but neither he nor his organization actually know what the game is or what is happening. They just show up after people start dying to make sure that the public at large does not realize something supernatural is going on.
- New Media Are Evil: Andrew's parents believe that video games are a product of the devil, which is why he has to pretend he is going to bible study whenever he goes to the arcade.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Amy only played Polybius because she was trying to knock off the slur that had been entered as the high-score name.
- These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: The agency that is covering up the incident does not actually know where Polybius came from or what it is. They just know that people die after it appears, and they cover everything up because the public would not be able to handle knowing that the supernatural is out there.
- Tired of Running: Andrew spends most of the episode running away from his problems, and explicitly tells Amy to do the same. It is only towards the climax that he begins to think that he needs to stay and fight, and runs back.
- Urban Legend: POLYBIUS is a real-life urban legend, with stories about it showing up in the 1980s connected to the US government and dangerous experiments. Amy refers to some of the real-life theories when they are trying to figure out what might be going on.
Bob"As a holiday threat looms large, an Army psychologist races against the clock to treat the strangest patient of her career - and the only one who can save Christmas - BOB, a depressed NSA supercomputer."
- All-Loving Hero:
- Jane cannot turn away from anybody in pain, not even when it delays her getting home to her family and not even when the 'person' is a giant brain supercomputer.
- Bob just wants to make the world a better place, and is crushed beneath the guilt of what he does and what he cannot do. His one wish is for Santa Claus to be real so that everybody can get the presents and gifts they deserve.
- Big Brother Is Watching: Bob is the supercomputer which is tasked with monitoring all of the entire world's electronic information for the NSA.
- Bittersweet Ending: Janes gets to her family for Christmas and Bob gets his wish of being Santa Claus for a night, but he is still ultimately unplugged and shut down (killed). As he himself says, it would not be much of a dying wish if he did not die afterwards.
- Christmas Episode: Jane is trying to get home to her family for Christmas, but is hijacked by the NSA who want her to help 'fix' Bob in time to stop a terrorist bombing that is also scheduled for Christmas.
- Chronic Hero Syndrome: Jane cannot bare to let anybody around her suffer, offering counseling and kind words to everybody she encounters. This has lead to her neglecting her own life and family, as she does not take time off and even volunteers for extra deployments overseas.
- Dying Wish: As Bob himself says, a dying wish cannot really be so if you do not die afterwards.
- Home by Christmas: Jane is literally trying to get home to her family by Christmas before the NSA takes her to help fix Bob. Unfortunately, Bob is suffering from several psychological issues, and these problems cannot be fixed by two hours of talk therapy. Bob ultimately isn't "cured", and is shut down at the end of the episode.
- Humans Are Bastards: Bob "broke" when he looked at the people sitting on the subway with the terrorist he was following and saw all the ways that they were petty and miserable all on their own. The last straw was when a girl told her younger sister that there was no Santa Claus because she kept excitedly talking to a man in a costume sitting next to them.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Bob is not able to locate the terrorist before his attacks succeeds against the Chicago subway. Bob does manage to track him down afterwards, though, and the FBI arrests him.
- Yes, Virginia: Bob's one wish — if he were to have a wish — would be for Santa Claus to be real. He gets his wish by becoming Santa Claus and delivering toys — and paying off debts and restructuring the economy — for the entire planet.
Impulse"A brash, up-and-coming pro FPS gamer finds the edge she needs in an energy drink that gives her real world "bullet time". It's a shortcut to fame and fortune-but it might just be a "shortcut" through the rest of her life."
- After the End: Val comes out of her Impulse-induced stupor in a post-Apocalyptic wasteland. Apparently, the President drank too much Impulse and snapped back with his finger on the nuclear launch button.
- Bullet Time: Impulse heightens your reactions so much that you experience bullet time in real life.
- Equivalent Exchange: Impulse gives whoever drinks it Bullet Time, but it also causes them to lose minutes, hours, or even years of their life. As Kojima explains:Kojima: When you drink Impulse, you're stretching time. The more you stretch, the harder you snap back.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: The bottle of Impulse that Val first tries is labelled "For Export Only". The manufacturer clearly knew there were side effects and did not want to deal with the ramifications close to home.
- Genre Shift: The episode starts out like a morality tale on performance-enhancing drugs, with the implication that Val will lose a few months or years of her life and not like the person she has become. However, after the first tournament the jump forward is twelve years and it turns into a post-apocalyptic story.
- This Is Reality: The other survivors talk frequently about "Death Lizards", which Val logically assumes to be some sort of lizard. However, the term is actually just the nickname for a dangerous gang of people, and her husband is incredulous that she actually thought there were radioactive mutant lizards out there.