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Video Game / Tales from the Borderlands

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Too busy earnin', you can't get enough...
"Welcome (back) to Pandora (again)."

Tales from the Borderlands is an episodic Adventure Game by Telltale Games with collaboration from Gearbox Software set in the Borderlands universe, released from 2014-2015.

One is a Hyperion company man looking to claw his way up the corporate ladder. The other is a smooth-talking Pandoran con-artist looking for her next big score. Both hate each other, both are untrustworthy and both are trying to sell their side of the story. Set after the events of Borderlands 2, Tales from the Borderlands is about how a ten-million-dollar deal over a Vault Key sets two bickering protagonists on a journey towards wealth, power and... not dying, hopefully.

The official gameplay trailer can be seen here, along with the announcement trailer.

Episode 1 was released on November 25, 2014. Episode 2 was released on March 17, 2015. Episode 3 was released on June 23, 2015. Episode 4 was released on August 18, 2015. The fifth and last episode was released on October 20, 2015 for PCs and PlayStation consoles, October 21 for Xbox consoles, and October 22 for mobile devices. In March 2021 it was released on the Nintendo Switch.

In 2022, a follow up to Tales was teased at PAX East 2022. Later, New Tales from the Borderlands was confirmed for an October 21, 2022 release.

Tales from the Borderlands contains examples of:

  • Accidental Murder: This happens to General Pollux and to many Hyperion employees in Episode 5.
  • Actionized Sequel: Inverted. There is shooting and action but nowhere near as much as in the main games.
  • Action Survivor: In contrast to the usual protagonists of Borderlands games, Rhys and Fiona are explicitly noted to lack the combat skills of Vault Hunters and rely more on their wits.
  • Adaptational Badass: Loaders are much tougher to deal with than bandits in the Borderlands games, but Loader Bot is able to take on a small army of bandits before eventually succumbing, and that's with it stupidly standing there taking lots of hits while it waits for orders.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Brick and Mordecai are certainly more brutal here, but remember, Fiona's telling the story and they captured Athena, who was also her mentor. No wonder she would see them as the bad guys! Additionally, the fight was probably a lot more in Athena's favor than portrayed by Fiona since they drag Athena off more or less just fine in Episode 3, but in the opening of the Pre-Sequel, Brick and Mordecai slowly limp away while leaning on one another after Athena is tied down after Lilith describes Athena having "damn near killed" them.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: The Purple Skag.
  • Affably Evil: More than a few of the bandits. The mechanic who finds Fiona and Vaughn apologizes for not liking Vaughn's face, admonishes them for being rude to someone they just met (nevermind the fact that he's armed), and then sells them psycho masks for the race.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • The loaders have been getting smarter ever since Jack's death. Unfortunately, this basically means they're just smart enough to be confused.
    • The Jack AI turned out to be just as murderous and insane as the original in episode 5.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: In Episode 5 Handsome Jack actually gets a surprisingly touching death scene (complete with what seems like a genuine Heel Realization) that nicely wraps up his character arc throughout the entire Borderlands series... then it turns out to all be a ruse so he can pull one last Taking You with Me on Rhys. After a brief fight with Rhys comes Jack's actual death scene, in which he finally dies a pathetic and undramatic final death that could serve as an example on its own.
  • Ambiguous Ending: In Episode 5, after defeating the Traveler and the others collect their loot, Rhys and Fiona enter the vault and sees a chest. After talking about their future plans, they open the chest together and then they both disappear, leaving it unknown what exactly happened to them.
  • And Show It to You: If Rhys opts to "Break his heart" when August starts to walk away from the deal, he walks towards him and proceeds to punch through his chest and rips it out... At least in his his version of the story, anyway.
  • Artificial Limbs: Rhys has a mechanical right arm, apparently of Hyperion make as it has their yellow paint job and flanges on it. For some reason Rhys likes throwing punches with his weak flesh arm. After finally hits somebody with his artificial arm in Episode 5, a look flashes across his face that says "why have I never tried that before?"
  • Asshole Victim: A majority of the characters that die throughout the journey are thoroughly unpleasant people, such as Vasquez, Vallory, Kroger, and Finch.
  • A-Team Firing/Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: The cast all demonstrate atrocious aim at one point or another. Nicely averted if you have Fiona fire her Derringer either at August or at Felix just before he opens the case. In the former case, she makes a flying leap, twists in mid-air, and manages to shoot August in the hand, causing him to drop his revolver. In the case of Felix, she hits him while falling away in the moving caravan, inflicting a probably-lethal-on-its-own wound in advance of the bomb blast.
  • Attack Drone: The Hyperion Loader bot that Rhys and Vaughn bring with them to Pandora, explicitly for protection.
  • Bad Boss: As Senior-Vice President of Securities Advertisement, Vasquez "promotes" Rhys to Assistant-Vice Janitor and socks him in the face just to add injury to insult (though Rhys can avoid the punch in the face if you agree to go clean up trash because Rhys has "done worse" in his career).
  • Badass Bookworm: Vaughn, and by extension, the Children of Helios, in Episode 5. Due to being corporate drones before Helios crashed down, many of the survivors of the crash do not have the skills needed to survive on Pandora. Instead, they use cunning and deception to deal with potential enemies, such as Vaughn moonlighting as a bandit boss and pretending to have snipers when all he had were people with laser pointers.
  • Batman Can Breathe in Space: Fiona and Scooter are able to operate just fine in the vacuum of space while wearing street clothes and an OZ kit, which forms a helmet-like energy bubble over the head and only the head.
  • Beehive Barrier: The giant chamber that houses the Gortys project uses one of these, which lights up red when the alarm is tripped and the security drones are released.
  • The Big Bad Shuffle: Originally, Vasquez is set up as the main villain of the game. By the end of Episode 2, he makes an alliance with August to force Rhys and Fiona to put together the Gortys pieces for them, and make clear that they'll kill them afterwards. By Episode 3, Vallory takes over, kills Vasquez, and August follows her orders. By Episode 4, Vallory forces the group to infiltrate Hyperion for the next Gortys upgrade. Yvette serves as the greatest threat until AI Handsome Jack plugs himself in and takes over the whole base, trying to kill Rhys while Vallory double-crosses the group and has her men attack them and try to take the upgrade and leave them to die. In Episode 5, Rhys defeats Handsome Jack, and Vallory gets killed by the Final Boss, The Traveler.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Zer0 shows up multiple times to either dramatically save the characters or to interrupt tense situations. Athena does this as well. Not to mention August coming to Sasha and Fiona's rescue in Episode 5 to kill all the guards in the elevator that were coming to kill them, shoot up all of Jack's monitors, and open the locked doors so they can escape and get to the caravan.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Zer0 is Impaled with Extreme Prejudice without any visible blood. Of course, it's quickly revealed that it's just his Decepti0n decoy.
  • Bloody Hilarious:
    • Story-driven game or no, this is still Borderlands. Expect pinwheeling limbs and explosions of gore as comedy. Or, for a more specific example, former pinnacle of corporate cleanliness Rhys killing an alpha skag and winding up coated head to foot in its entrails.
    • Everything involving Skin Pizzas.
  • Body Horror:
    • The World of Curiosities gleefully point out the various body horror aspects of Dr. Nakayama's Eridium implants and what happened with Commandant Steele. Even Rhys's Echo-Eye remarks on Nakayama's eccentricities.
    • The Eye Scream scene from Episode 2. The subject matter makes it quite disturbing even though the scene is mostly played for laughs.
    • In Episode 5, Rhys uses a shard of glass to slowly rip out his cybernetic body parts, including his eye and neural interface, in order to rid himself and the universe of Handsome Jack once and for all.
  • Book Ends: The first and final episode ends with Rhys and Fiona opening a mysterious chest of supposed loot together, including the same dialog.
    • On a more gruesome note, Jack appears after someone's eye is gouged out, and dies when Rhys rips his cybernetic eye out.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass:
    • At the start of Episode 2, Fiona is forced to use the body of an Atlas general in order to bypass a retinal scanner. When they can't get him out due to his feet being stuck in his case, she's forced to scoop out his eyeball with a spork, with her accidentally crushing the first one. Later on, they learn that the guy was actually in suspended animation...
    • Fiona later does it again at the Atlas Bunker, revealing that she kept the general's eye in her pocket this whole time. This thoroughly freaks out Athena of all people, even commenting that after her stint on Pandora AND Elpis, this is the weirdest thing she's ever seen.
  • Brain Uploading:
    • Nakayama created a Jack A.I. to ensure that Handsome Jack would be immortal. A sidequest in The Pre-Sequel patched into the game after the release of the first episode details this process, or at least the early stages of it.
    • Handsome Jack wants to do this with mass produced versions of his "immortal endoskeleton" so that there would be an army of Jacks. Being an uploaded AI version of himself, it bypasses the whole "kills you dead" issue the endoskeleton had when he was still human. The only problem now is that he's not exactly going to use his original body...
  • Brains and Brawn: August and Vasquez. The roles are inverted, however - August, the ruthless thug, is much smarter and less bloodthirsty than Vasquez, the corporate climber.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: An absolutely wonderful one performed by Jack during Episode 3, where, when the iconic Telltale "X will remember that" notification pops up in the top left corner, Jack actually notices it, points to it, and asks to no one, "What the hell is that?" before shrugging it off.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Episode 1, Rhys practices his game face for his meeting with his boss. The expression you chose will show up in Episode 4 when Rhys disguises himself as Vasquez.
    • In Episode 1, Vasquez reveals that he had Henderson Thrown Out the Airlock and took his job. In Episode 4, Henderson's drifting corpse gets caught in the group's spaceship and makes it go critical.
    • In Episode 1, Vaughn asks Rhys what he's going to buy as his first move after his promotion, and you can choose to say you'd buy lunch. If you get promoted to President of Hyperion in Episode 5, one of your options for your first move is to order pizza.
  • Briefcase Full of Money: The briefcase filled with ten million dollars in cash that Vaughn gets for Rhys to trade with August for the Vault Key. After the Vault Key is revealed as a fake, it gets taken by Bossanova and becomes the MacGuffin of the first episode. It also has a bomb that will explode without Vaughn's biometrics and potentially ends up blown up, taking Felix with it.
  • Broad Strokes: Within the game itself, no matter how the game is played, there will likely be a number of instances where neither Rhys or Fiona's stories add up to each other (especially given that Rhys is a braggart and Fiona is a con artist), but the general events of the story can still be inferred to have happened. In the greater Borderlands canon, Rhys' return as The CEO of Atlas in Borderlands 3, as well as the return of Vaughn and Cassius and memorial for Scooter in the Commander Lilith DLC confirms that the events of this game happened.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Episode 1, a billboard for the "Engorge!" male enhancement drug is shown in Hollow Point. In the first Borderlands, Athena encrypted her messages to the Vault Hunters by hiding them in radio commercials for the product. Also, possibly by coincidence, in Episode 2, Athena herself shows up in Hollow Point.
    • In Atlas Mugged, Rhys starts formulating a plan, only to realise everyone has set off ahead of him. Lampshaded when he asks them to stop doing that.
    • Rhys can say something in threatening manner, which will make Vasquez punch him in the face in both episodes. The second time the game lampshade this with the message "Why is it always the face?".
  • Call-Forward: In Episode 4, Jack's office has a Conference Call on display which, judging from the combination of parts (Hyperion grip, Torgue stock, Torgue sight), is the same one the Stranger uses.
  • The Cameo: If Dr Cassius is spared in episode 3, by episode 4, Vaughn escapes from Vallory and hides with the Doc. He'll call Rhys once when he enters The Hyperion Hub of Heroism and that's his only appearance in that episode.
  • The Caper: Rhys loves to imagine heist scenarios where everyone on the team plays their role and they pull off their objective without a hitch. The start of episode 4 plays out just like a Hollywood scenario, complete with him patting himself on the back for doing such a good job as the mastermind.
  • Chariot Race: The first episode's climax takes place in one with pairs of motorcycles pulling trucks.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The watch Felix gives to Sasha in Episode 2 turns out to be a healing device, which saves her from the brink of death in Episode 5.
    • The dresser that falls off the van at the start of Episode 2 turns out to be the same place Felix hid nine million dollars.
    • Handsome Jack's majority shares in the Atlas corporation and the same Conference Call shotgun used by The Stranger are both hanging in the trophy case of Jack's old office in Helios near the end of Episode IV. Both are fired in the final episode; it can be pointed out after the Children of Helios take The Stranger captive that he has the same gun and Rhys recovers the shares to take control of Atlas himself.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Rhys's skill at finger gun battling comes in very handy for the final battle in Episode 5, because Gortys can copy the combat skills of the people piloting her. In Rhys's case, this turns her fingers into functioning blasters.
  • City Slicker: When entering Prosperity Junction for the first time, Rhys may be of the Tinhorn variety depending on the player's dialogue choices, while Vaughn is more of a Tenderfoot.
  • Cool Car: Rhys and Vaughn steal Vasquez's car, and it is indeed a nice one.
  • Combination Attack: Rhys has to jailbreak his loader bot into using both its weapons at once when they are surrounded by bandits.
    • Shield + Grenades: Sticks several of its electricity-spewing sticky grenades to its shield, then smashes it into the ground to create a cone of electricity.
    • Shield + Rocket Launcher: Shoots all its remaining rockets straight up, then uses its shield as an umbrella to keep Rhys and Vaughn safe as everything else explodes.
    • Machine gun + Grenades: Sticks its grenades into its cannon, creating a grenade launcher.
    • Machine gun + Rocket Launcher: Rotates in place to do a Death Blossom attack. The robot calls this the "Disproportionate Retribution" mode.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Used when Loader Bot shows up to save Fiona and Sasha from an attacking Athena.
    Loader Bot: Come with me if you want to leave.
  • Compensating for Something: A massive set occurs in Episode 2, with Vasquez's car and gun.
  • The Con: The plot of episode one. Fiona, Sasha, and Felix create a fake Vault Key to sell to August who plans to sell it to Hyperion for ten million dollars.
  • Continuity Porn: The game is overflowing with references or assets from the Borderlands series, including audio cues like the whistling of a Hyperion moonshot.
  • Continuity Nod: Each episode so far is filled with references and nods to other Borderlands games.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: The protagonists of the game, Rhys and Fiona, are both relatively normal people who have no real combat training, rather than skilled, badass Vault Hunters like in the main series.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In the last episode, Rhys and Fiona each end up just where the story needs them. Rhys crash lands in the ruins of Helios, so he can finish off Jack and finish his character arc, while Fiona ends up near the Vault, so she can finish her business with Vallory.
  • Covered in Gunge: Rhys ends up this way briefly after slicing open an Alpha Skag with Zer0's sword.
  • Credits Gag: The credits for Episode 4, which ends with the Handsome Jack AI uploading himself into Helios and taking it over, start flickering and displaying "Handsome Jack" in place of every name, while a faint Evil Laugh from Jack is heard in the background. They go back to normal before the music starts playing, though.
  • Cruel Mercy: In Episode 5, you have the option of leaving Rhys' ECHO-Eye intact, thereby imprisoning AI Jack inside, unable to even control any nearby technology.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: Considering that Tector and Jimbo Hodunk are alive, the Vault Hunters evidently killed the Zafords at the end of the Clan Wars questline of BL2. Which makes sense, considering how popular the Maggie was in BL2 at launch and how many people sided with the Hodunks to get it.
  • Cyberpunk: A portion of the game iset in cutting-edge Helios, and this game has a ridiculous amount of robots and artifical body parts, but this game currently has the biggest Space Western vibes in the franchise.
  • Dead Guy on Display:
    • There's a dead psycho hung on the Prosperity Junction billboard.
    • The World of Mystery has the corpses of Bewm, Shade, Professor Nakayama and Commandant Steele stuffed and mounted as displays. If you're familiar with his handiwork, you can probably guess that Shade is faking it.
    • While never confirmed, it is implied that Handsome Jack's body was sealed away inside Butt Stalion.
  • Death Glare: Pretty much every character gives one at some point. Special mention goes to Athena, though, as her's seems to be her default expression. (And it's a particularly frightening one...)
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: Played with humorously. If you die as Rhys, the Stranger will remark "And then you died?" as Rhys tries to explain "Okay, maybe that's not how it went..." and the game goes back to the point in which you last died.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Psychos headbutt each other as a sign of affection and friendship. When a Psycho is threatening Vaughn for the theft of his 'doom buggy', Fiona has the opportunity to headbutt him, which immediately results in the Psycho joining their race team.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: Vasquez forces Rhys and Vaughn to do this in Episode 2, though it doesn't last long before they escape.
  • Disney Death: A textbook example happens to Sasha at the end of Episode 5 provided you kept Felix's gift to her so it could save her at the end.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The manner in which the Gortys Project is assembled in the belly of the Old Haven Atlas Facility.
  • Dramatic Space Drifting: Rhys' old boss, Henderson, after Vasquez took care of him.
  • Due to the Dead: Despite initial fears of Scooter launching off a satellite would get everyone killed from the bad guys escorting the protagonists, no one declines doing so when suggesting to launch it off in honor of Scooter after his Heroic Sacrifice saved everyone.
  • Dynamic Entry: Rhys and Vaughn and their car get shot onto the surface of Pandora and hit the ground rolling.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Of a sort. Fiona's "present day" outfit from the framing story can be seen unfinished in the caravan.
  • Electronic Eyes: Rhys has one that lets him scan various objects and people.
  • Empty Chair Memorial: When Fiona impersonates a tour guide and shows some people around Handsome Jack's office, a member of the tour group will notice an empty chair and Fiona can pass it off as one of these, left empty to remind people that Jack is dead. It turns out it was just a guard's chair left empty because he had to leave his post to go to the bathroom.
  • Enhance Button:
    • Parodied in the beginning of Atlas Mugged, in which Sasha's first instinct on seeing the holographic map is to yell "Enhance!" as much as she can, something that Fiona can play along as well. Eventually Vaughn tells them to cut it out and how computers don't work like that.
    • Taken even further in Catch A Ride when escaping the Gortys Project compound. Upon the party's escape on Loader Bot's back, they run into Vallory and her men. Rhys asks Fiona for a plan to deal with it, and one of the options is for her to dumbfoundedly tell Loader Bot "Enhance?!"
    • Played straight in "Escape Plan Bravo", where Rhys is able to enhance a map from his cybernetic arm.
      Sasha: Oh, so you can say it.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Hyperion employees seem to come in all colours, shapes and sizes, all of them equally greedy and ruthless. All the higher-ups we see are white men, though, one of whom is stated to be a racist and another one of whom is Vasquez, so there might be a bit of a "glass ceiling" situation.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: We see what life is like for people who aren't Vault Hunters who wander into Pandora: a ridiculous nightmare of death where everyone in a whole town can go rabid and shooty at a moment's notice. ...Well, okay, life is like that for Vault Hunters too, but at least the Vault Hunters are armed.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Rhys' outfit in the modern day segment is black and golden, similar to Vasquez', compared to the bright blue and green he normally wears. Also, his ECHO-Eye is gold instead of blue, and his cybernetic arm is silver rather than yellow and black. Similarly, Fiona now wears a black version of her outfit with red highlights. Averted, as Rhys has become the president of the reformed Atlas and had to replace his former cybernetics due to Jack possessing them, while Fiona didn't change much since the events she's explaining to the Stranger.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: After the death of Handsome Jack, Hyperion is currently going through this, with Rhys as one of the upstarts looking to be the next Jack.
  • Eye Scream:
    • An early QTE sequence in Atlas Mugged has Fiona digging out the eyeball of a general in order to access a retinal scanner. Rhys startles her by screaming, so that she slips and cuts one eye in half. By the time she succeeds and accesses the retinal scanner, it turns out the general was alive all along, in suspended animation.
    • Later, Rhys ripping out his ECHO eye in Episode 5 is milked for all it's worth. You have to watch as he pulls a long cord of wires out of his eyeball, it's making sickening squelching sounds, and it is not comfortable to witness. You can tell by the noises Rhys makes that it's painful, too.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Surprising no one (except possibly Rhys), Handsome Jack ultimately betrays Rhys in the first 30 minutes of Episode 5, no matter what choices you've made previously. He does not consider forcing Rhys to be the skin of a robotic Jack endoskeleton to be "a catch".
  • Finger Gun: Hyperion employees love to shoot one another with imaginary guns as some sort of cheesy greeting ritual. It gets taken to ridiculous levels when Rhys ends up having an overblown firefight with the entirety of Accounting with imaginary weapons. Complete with batting back imaginary grenades, using imaginary throwing knives, imaginary reloads and running out of imaginary ammo. It's made even more hilarious as the maintenance staff roll their eyes and have to deal with employees pretending to be dead. In Episode 5, Gortys adapts this practice by digistructing herself some functional finger guns.
  • Flat "What": Loader Bot's reaction to Vasquez pulling out a universal remote.
  • Foregone Conclusion:
    • Rhys and Fiona are at least guaranteed to survive the events of the game though they evidently parted on poor terms.
    • No matter what you do in Episode 3, Athena ends up captured by Brick and Mordecai so she can be brought to Sanctuary, thus kicking off the beginning of The Pre-Sequel's intro and end.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The title of the first episode hints at the appearance of Zer0 at around its midpoint and the destruction of the stolen 10 million dollars, which leaves the protagonists completely broke.
    • In "Atlas Mugged", Rhys contacts Yvette, and tells her to help them out. Not long after, Vasquez appears, hinting at Yvette's real motives.
    • Should Rhys and Vaughn meet up with Fiona in Hollow Point, Loader Bot defeats Athena with ease, causing the Stranger to object and say that's not likely. Given the identity of The Stranger, he most likely remembers this encounter differently.
    • In episode 1, Vaughn can comment that ever since Jack died, the Loaders have been getting smarter. Episode 5 shows just how much.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: In the credits for Episode 4, Jack briefly hijacks them, replacing all of the people who worked on the game with himself.
  • Framing Device: The story is told in flashback, with Rhys and Fiona being interrogated by a masked bandit. If the characters end up dying, the bandit points out that obviously didn't happen and tells you to stop screwing around.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: When Rhys is hacking the Atlas system to access the elevator, an image of a Crimson Lance Assassin can be seen on one of the screens.
  • Freeze-Frame Introduction: New characters get introduced with a Bullet Time animation including a stylized Title Card with the character's name and a brief, typically witty descriptor about them.
  • Freud Was Right: Lampshaded by Vasquez, who pointed out that every spaceship in the universe looks like a penis. The really funny thing is that he's wrong: We haven't seen very many ships in this 'verse (escape/drop pods from Atlas and Jacobs, Sanctuary, a crashed Hyperion ship, some jet-looking things, a Dahl fleet is seen early in the Pre-Sequel!, but that's about it), and other than the Hyperion and Dahl ships being long and thin, they don't really look like penises unless you squint. Vasquez might be projecting a little.
  • First-Episode Twist: Holo Jack doesn't show up until the very end of Episode 1. His appearance can be surprising to those not expecting it, but since he's a main cast member it's near impossible to talk about later episodes without mentioning him. After "Atlas Mugged" was released, he was even added to the Steam advertising screenshots.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Granted the "gameplay" here is a different game entirely, but certain weapons don't work the way they are supposed to.
    • Torgue weapons are shown firing regular bullets instead of explosive gyrojets. Most evident in a Game Over scene where a Double Penetrating Unkempt Harold, which in addition to its explosive properties is supposed to fire 14 shots at once in a spread, kills Fiona with a single Pretty Little Headshot.
    • The Stranger's shotgun appears to be the legendary Conference Call. He shoots it into the air and near Fiona and Rhys repeatedly without turning them into swiss cheese. The Stranger's Conference Call lacks a certain accessory that purple and legendary weapons always have.
    • Vallory uses a Bandit rocket launcher, which are supposed to fire three small rockets at the same time, but hers fires single, regular-sized rockets like any other brand.
    • Fiona gets hold of a white-rarity Jakobs Scarab, but fires it in a three-round burst, something only Dahl rifles do. Then again, Jakobs is famous for two things: Extremely high damage, and firing as fast as you can click, so Fiona could simply have an incredibly fast trigger finger.
    • The Jakobs Skullmasher in the opening for the first episode works more like a sniper rifle than a sniper rifle that thinks it's a shotgun.
    • The Quick-Change machine somehow charges money and sells things.
  • Genre Shift: Rather than being a loot-focused shooter, the game is instead a point and click adventure game.
  • Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: The Traveler shows up as the Final Boss of the series, despite having never been mentioned at any point prior to Episode 5. Justified, as anyone who's finished the prior Borderlands games before knows that every Vault comes with a Vault Guardian. Also, of all the prior Vault Guardians, none had received any form of foreshadowing whatsoever in their respective games other than the Warrior.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: The finale of Episode 5 has Fiona and Rhys recruiting the extraordinary characters they've met throughout their travels, potentially including Zer0, Athena, Janey Springs, August, Cassius, and Felix, note  to help them defeat the Traveler. The player's actions throughout the series determine which potential party members are actually willing to come and help you.
  • Good Cop/Bad Cop: In Episode 5, Rhys decides to do this with Fiona in order to interrogate The Stranger, to which Fiona can either play along or to tell him to shut up. Either way, Rhys eventually gets confused as to whether or not he's supposed to be Good Cop or Bad Cop.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: Twofold
    • How Marcus pitches the game's story to his listeners.
    • The story is about the Stranger trying to get the entire picture of what happened with the Vault of the Traveler and the Gortys Project from Rhys and Fiona, who are both partially ignorant of their counterpart's side of the tale.
  • Greed: A main theme according to the developers.
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting all possible teammates available for the final battle in Episode 5. The game only tells you which choices would have made each teammate available after the fact. However, if you have less than three teammates available, the game will unlock a normally unavailable teammate. Here's a list of how to unlock each available teammate:
    • Athena: Either lie to Janey in Episode 4 and tell her that Athena said she loved her before being captured (which will salvage Athena and Janey's relationship), or encourage Athena to be honest with her.
    • August: Either do not shoot him in Episode 1, or do not blame him for the failed deal in Episode 3.
    • Cassius: Talk Athena down from killing him in Episode 3.
    • Janey: Honor Scooter's request in Episode 4 and launch his satellite into space.
    • Mystery Vault Hunter: Either have the maximum amount of money in the game by the time you need teammates for the final battle, or spare Felix in Episode 1 (which gives you enough money to hire the Mystery Vault Hunter).
    • Zer0: Identify yourself to Mordecai as a potential Vault Hunter in Episode 3.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Played with. Fiona and Sasha can handily beat (and kill) people with their bare hands better than Rhys, but in terms of weapons, the sisters prefer firearms while Rhys uses a powerful Stun Baton in battle.
  • Has Two Thumbs and...: Rhys will give this line in the final fight.
    Who's got two big thumbs and just had his finger guns come back online? This guy!
  • Heel–Face Turn: Happens to August and (depending on your actions) possibly Yvette in Episode 5.
  • Helpful Hallucination: The holographic manifestation of Handsome Jack that only Rhys can see ends up helping Rhys throughout Atlas Mugged by upgrading his ECHO eye.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • Scooter pulls one off in Episode 4, in order to save the rest of the crew from getting killed by an exploding booster rocket. You can commemorate it, too, by blasting his satellite off into space for all to see.
    • Multiple times in episode 5:
      • Loader-Bot allows Rhys and Fiona to escape Helios while trapping themself onboard. He's revealed to have survived later on.
      • Gortys demands that Fiona destroy her to seal away the vault and the Traveler to save Pandora. She gets rebuilt later on, however.
      • Sasha sacrifices herself at the end of Episode 5 so that Fiona can play her key role in helping to defeat the Traveler. If you still have Felix's gift, she gets better though.
  • Hero of Another Story: Zer0, while given for being a Previous Player-Character Cameo, also plays this regularly because it is clear he has his own mission he is on that only crosses paths with the point of view characters rather than involving them directly. That is, until you find the Gortys core he was looking for. Zero even gets his Villain Of Another Story, Bossanova, who never directly threatens (or is aware of) Rhys or Fiona at all but is presented as a formidable foe who can blast things to pieces with his chest-mounted soundblaster.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Rhys is stated to be a Jack-lover who want to be just like him both figuratively and literally, to the point that he even looks and acts like him. He even sounds kind of like him, even though he does have a different voice actor.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: As Fiona, it's possible to shoot Felix with the derringer he gave you. It might have even been a fatal wound, were it not for the fact that he blew himself up seconds later.
  • How We Got Here: The framing device of the game revolves around Rhys and Fiona being tied up by a masked individual whose curious to know their story leading up to their capture. Each tell their side of the stories...with a few liberties.
  • I Am What I Am: When Sasha asks why Rhys works for Hyperion in the first episode, Rhys can respond that the only thing he's ever wanted to do since he was a kid was run a company, and even though Hyperion does some horrible things, they are the biggest, richest and most powerful company around, so working for them is the best way to make his dream a reality.
  • Indy Escape: This ends up happening when a gunfight ensues around a statue of Atlas holding a globe. Said globe falls off, crushes a bandit and smashes the exit open.
  • Infinity -1 Sword:
    • Rhys starts out with a stun baton which is so overpowered all he has to do is tap it against someone to send them flying. The only bandit who gives him any real trouble once he activates it is a heavily-amored Nomad.
    • A large amount of legendary weapons from Borderlands 2 show up, starting with the Stranger's Conference Call, to Loader Bot being armed with Quasar Grenades. None of them really act like what they'd do in Borderlands 2 however.
  • In-Joke: If you press a button to skip the credits that roll after the end of an episode, a message in the corner of the screen will say "Telltale Games will remember that."
  • Interface Spoiler: Yvette's Face–Heel Turn was actually given away long before the event actually happened - when reviewing your choices in episode 1, the thumbnail for accepting Vasquez's deal to betray Vaughn originally showed Vasquez on the ECHO communicator with Yvette, before a patch changed the image to just show Vasquez, and Aurelia's bonus skin in The Pre-Sequel was titled "Yvette's Regret."
  • Interface Screw: In Episode 4, should you go against Jack and refuse to rule Hyperion with him, he straps you into a chair and plugs the override port into Rhys' temple to download himself into the mainframe of the station. The four-option dialogue format comes up as you try to call Fiona for aid over the radio, but all the options begin to glitch back and forth, switching between telling her that you're in trouble to assuring her that everything's fine, since Jack is hacked into Rhys' brain. No matter which option you choose or how carefully you try to time your button-press to select dialogue when it's glitched back to alerting her for help, Jack hijacks the speech center of Rhys' brain and talks through him, forcing him to say that nothing is wrong.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted for Rhys, who hurts his hand when trying to punch a bandit in the face. He finally realizes Episode 4 that he should punch with his robot arm.
  • Ironic Echo: During their final confrontation in Episode 5, Rhys can throw 2 of Handsome Jack's catchphrases right back in his face ("I'm the hero of this story" or "see ya, kiddo").
  • Jerkass:
    • Standard M.O. for Hyperion suits. With the right dialog choices, you can make Rhys into a proper Jack wannabe.
    • Vasquez is such a jerk, he makes Handsome Jack look like a guy you'd want to have lunch with. Doubly so in that Jack himself thinks Hugo is a douche and despises him.
  • Jump Scare: Shade introduces himself this way twice. He notices that the people he chances upon react to him the way you'd expect.
  • Karmic Death:
    • Felix's death by suitcase bomb, if you don't warn him. Bonus points if you decided to shoot him first with the Derringer he gave you.
    • A minor one, the bandit in the intro scene gets hit by Rhys' car right after he kills someone.
    • Near the beginning of Episode 3, Vasquez get shot dead, leaving a gaping wound in his chest, after he Outlives His Usefulness.
    • Multiple throughout Episode 5. AI!Jack is separated from Rhys's body, and Rhys can elect to smash the eye circuitry which contains his last fragment of consciousness, permanently killing him. Fiona can finally pull off a fatal headshot on Finch as he lies wounded outside the Vault, and he dies of his wounds if she spares him. Vallory is swiftly dispatched by the Traveler while trying to kill Gortys. Finally, Kroger has his neck snapped by the disguised Loader Bot while trying to stab Fiona.
  • Kick the Dog: You have several options to do this, mostly as Rhys. Deciding to order the loader to self-destruct rather than escape is probably the first notable one.
    • As Fiona's first, there's telling Shade he cannot accompany you, followed by the message: Shade is used to rejection.
  • Klingon Promotion: Vasquez got his position by having his predecessor spaced. Turns out Jack's way of getting Tassiter's job either wasn't an isolated case or inspired those who came after him.
  • Lame Comeback:
    • Rhys has one, when Fiona interrupts his version of events as the Stranger drags him through the desert.
    Fiona: Nice haircut, you lying Hyperion jackass!
    Rhys: It is a nice haircut!
    • Rhys gets another in the climax of "Zer0 Sum" when Vasquez tries to get him to sell out Vaughn, provided you didn't just hang up mid-sentence. In an amusing subversion, Vasquez takes it seriously and replies with a Lame Comeback of his own.
    Vasquez: scratch my nuts, I scratch yours.
    Rhys: Scratch your own nuts!
    Sasha: Really?
    Vasquez: Oh, I'll scratch 'em. I'll scratch 'em HARD!
  • Lighter and Softer: While the Borderlands franchise is already pretty light-hearted, this game has significantly fewer bodies dropping by virtue of not being a shooter (compared to the previous games, where thousands or even millions of bandits and private military soldiers are dead by the end of the game). Also, compared to The Walking Dead and The Wolf Among Us, this is them going back to their more comedic roots.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: In Episode 5, after Jack tries to kill Rhys by forcing him to choke himself to death, Rhys backs up into a piece of rebar and spears his cybernetic arm on it. He immediately starts to viciously rip out the wires connecting it to his flesh shoulder, and once it's finally disconnected and he pulls it off, blood comes gushing out. Jack waxes on about how as long as Rhys is still part-machine, Jack will be inside him and waiting to kill him. Rhys immediately realizes what's about to happen and doesn't hesitate to begin to pull out his temple port and ECHO eye, using a shard of glass and his bare hands.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: Episode 2 begins with the group trying to get away from from Moonshots and Rakks. One moonshot hits the caravan and sends Rhys and Vaughn flying out the destroyed back end of it. Fiona tries to grab Rhys by the foot, and if the player succeeds at the quick time event, his shoe slips off in the process. Rhys goes around without his left shoe for the rest of the episode, though he can ask for it back if he talks to the girls at Old Haven.
  • Manchild: Hyperion's entire Accounting Branch. They will use a LARP gunfight when confronting their boss about $10 million transfer. Both the custodian and the Hyperion employee currently having a phone call shake their head in disapproval of such behavior.
  • Meaningful Name: Bossa nova is a genre of music. Bossanova is a bandit boss who is also a musician. Whether or not he has a Nova shield equipped is unknown, as is his success with the ladies.
  • Medium Awareness: During a conversation with Handsome Jack in episode 3, he'll notice the "Handsome Jack will remember that" popup in the top left of the screen and point to it.
    Jack: What the hell is that!?
  • Mercy Kill: Discussed in Episode 4 if you told Fiona and Sasha about Holo-Jack's existence. The former later offers to put a bullet through Rhys' head if his brain gets taken over by Jack.
  • Milking the Giant Cow:
    • Vasquez's reaction to Loader Bot flying off with Rhys and Vaughn, when he was in the middle of trying to run them over.
    • Athena also does this after saving Fiona and the gang from Vallory.
    Athena: I am here to help you! You idiots!
  • Mood Whiplash: Episode 5 has the (possible) scene where Felix's gift saves Sasha from dying, which bounces back and forth from sad, to funny, to heartwarming, then back to funny when said gift that just saved her life drops her from at least 20 feet in the air, which breaks her arm.
    Gortys: [as cheery as ever] Oh yeah. That's broken.
  • Moving Right Through: In Episode 5, Sasha reunites with Rhys and Vaughn and gives one of them a hug. Depending on the player's decisions, she can just ignore Rhys, who was expecting a hug.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Hyperion employees have a habit of "shooting" one another with finger guns. This practice is taken very seriously, and in episode four Rhys escapes from a horde of accountants by fake-mowing them down with mimed weapons in a segment as dramatic as a regular fight.
  • Musical Assassin: Bandit leader Bossanova uses his amplified dubstep music as a weapon.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: In Episode 4, when Fiona and Sasha ask Rhys why he seems so sure his infiltration plan will work, one dialogue option has him respond, "Because we're Team Awesome! And August."
  • Mythology Gag: Has its own page.
  • Neck Snap:
    • Sasha does one to a bandit. Rhys attempts to do the same to another bandit and fails hilariously.
    • It's possible for The Stranger to do this to Kroger in Episode 5.
  • Nested Story: Marcus sums up the game's narrative as "two unlikely versions of one impossible story" that he is in turn telling to you. This is because the final choice you make at the end of the last episode carries over to his narration of the next.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Of all the shots given in the next episodes previews for Episodes 1 and 2, only maybe two or three of them end up actually happening. The particular shot of Tector spinning while firing a machine gun was so obviously cut from the story between episodes that they finally explained it away as being part of a Hyperion advert.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: General Pollux requests that someone unfreeze him from suspended animation, by way of a recorded message. Too bad Fiona only finds this out after having taken a spork to both of his eyes.
  • Nobody Here But Us Stuffed And Displayed Corpses: Including this one of Shade, who is definitely not the least bit insane.
  • The Nothing After Death: Jack begs Rhys not to kill him because he doesn't want to return to the afterlife, which he says is nothingness. Of course, this being Jack (an A.I. replica at that), his statement should be taken with a large dose of salt.
  • Nothing Up My Sleeve: Fiona's one-bullet gun is hidden in her right sleeve.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Jack loves to point out how he and Rhys are so similar, from Rhys' ambition to climb to the top of the corporate ladder, to how they're both devilishly handsome. He goes back on this in episode five after the destruction of Helios, and says that Rhys was much better at killing people than he ever was, even though Rhys didn't kill people for the fun of it, like Jack did. But by now Rhys has seen that his former hero was an awful person all along, and can resolve to never follow in his footsteps.
    • Rhys can lampshade this in a dialogue option when he finds out Jack is still intact after the Helios crash.
  • Not With the Safety On, You Won't: Vasquez holds Rhys and Vaughn at gunpoint in "Atlas Mugged". Despite constantly insisting that he knows how to fire a gun, it takes him a full three minutes to actually figure out how to get it to work. Rhys can either use this time to escape, or politely disable it for him.
  • #1 Dime: Fiona is given one single, generic bullet at the beginning of her story. In Episode 3, her gun is upgraded and she gets a box of bullets. If she hasn't used it, that one bullet from the beginning becomes her #1 Dime.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Con woman Fiona very subtly panics when August shoots a man dead in front of her for "dishonesty". Comes complete with a twist on Telltale's familiar dialog pop-up.
    You should remember that.
    • The entire cast except Rhys and Jack does one when Rhys is unexpectedly promoted to President of Hyperion during what was supposed to be a heist on the same company!
  • Old Save Bonus: There are various items that can be collected that can carry over into other Borderlands games.
  • On the Next: The first three episodes have this before the credits, with a subtle bonus joke. All three include a brief shot of Jimbo Hodunk riding on Tector's shoulders and firing a machine gun. This never happens in the game.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Gortys is always peppy and cheerful, so when she's distressed it's because things are really bad.
  • Outside Ride: During a car chase, Rhys is thrown onto the hood of August's vehicle. August aims his gun at him, and Rhys rolls out of the way. August doesn't shoot at all and instead lays into Rhys for trying to dodge a bullet despite the fact that August would literally just have to slightly move his wrist to fire again.
  • Overly-Long Gag: Bossanova's reaction to Zer0 stabbing the speaker on his armor. It's justified, however, as Bossanova is stalling while he moves a crane into position to stab Zer0 in the back.
    Bossanova: I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really hate you!!
  • Party Scattering: Mid-way through Episode 5, the gang got scattered when they escaped from an exploding Helios. They all eventually got reunited again thanks to Loader Bot.
  • Percussive Maintenance:
    • Jack's Virtual Ghost pops in and out of existence whenever Rhys gets bonked on the head.
    • Rhys can try this on the computer in the bandit base if you choose to "Whack It" instead of "Hack It".
  • Pet the Dog: Rhys and Fiona have quite a few options to show they care, especially to Vaughn, Loader Bot and Sasha. Also, Fiona telling Scooter that he's awesome or letting Shade accompany her. Rhys even has the opportunity with Vasquez, by not using the 'Wallethead' joke against him.
  • Pinky Swear: Sasha and Rhys do one in one of the choices.
  • Politically Correct Villain: When Rhys goes undercover as macho-man Corrupt Corporate Executive Vasquez, he can choose to try to act the part to a pair of Hyperion's Faceless Mooks. The results are... not what he expected.
    Rhys: Sup ladies? Whatcha been doing? Talking about boys?
    Captain: (icily) No. Just discussing casual misogyny and how it manifests in corporate executives.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • The whole reason why Rhys and Fiona are mad at each other in the present. In Episode 5, Kroger and Finch betrays Fiona and Sasha by trying to take Gortys away and abandoning them on Helios. After a gunfight, Finch escapes taking Gortys and Sasha with him on their ship. In another part of the station, Rhys sees the ship leaving and assumes Fiona abandoned him.
    • Averting this is also why Loader Bot captured and interrogated Rhys and Fiona about the events of the game up until that point without revealing his identity. He knew he only had one side of the story when he saw Fiona kill Gortys and wanted to know why she had done it without letting their prior relationship cause her to lie.
  • Power Floats:
    • The Gortys pieces, especially the two halves of the core, float in certain circumstances.
    • At the end of episode 5, Felix's watch levitates Sasha as it's healing her... and then it drops her from twenty feet up, making her land on her arm.
      Gortys: [as cheery as ever] Oh yeah. That's broken.
      Sasha: Why would something that's supposed to help me do that!?
  • Power Trio:
    • Rhys, Vaughn, and Yvette, friends and mutual Hyperion wageslaves who work together to try and advance each other's careers.
    • Fiona, Sasha, and Felix, who work together as a team of con-artists to survive on Pandora.
  • Previous Player-Character Cameo:
    • Zer0 appears in the first episode, which fittingly is named "Zer0 Sum".
    • Athena shows up in Episode 2, "Atlas Mugged".
    • Brick and Mordecai appear in Episode 3, "Catch a Ride".
  • Prolonged Prologue: Episode 2's opening credits don't show up until about 25 minutes in; an entire quarter of the episode.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The crew of Rhys, Fiona, Vaughn, Sasha, Loader Bot, Gortys and eventually, August can best be described as this. Marcus even calls them Misfit Vault Hunters in the introduction to one of the episodes, and they definitely fit the description better than any other Vault Hunter team. Of course, by the end of episode 5, despite their differences, they've become True Companions... And August.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: Both Rhys and Fiona have their own recounting of the story, each from their own perspective and occasionally conflicting with one another.
  • Red Herring: When Jack takes over Rhys's body, his eye turns yellow, the same as in the present day, indicating that he might be the one really in control in the present. However, Episode 5 reveals that Jack's AI died before he met up with Fiona again, and this is actually a new eye made from Atlas tech instead of Hyperion tech.
  • Robot Buddy: The main party has three: Loader Bot, Gortys, and Dumpy. However one of them is optional. Dumpy only joins if Rhys chooses to trust Jack at the end of Episode 2; otherwise it's smashed by Loader Bot after paralyzing Vaughn at the start of Episode 3.
  • Rousing Speech: As a Jack-wannabe, this is apparently Rhys's speciality at Hyperion. As such, if the player chooses to "Blow his Mind", Rhys delivers a particularly moving one to August that moves him so much that he simply breaks down crying and just hands over the Key. At least from his perspective. When Fiona tells her version of the same events he just drops to his knees and starts begging.
  • Schedule Slip: invoked Lampshaded at the beginning of Episode 2, when Marcus tells the player to stop complaining about how it's been so long since the last part of the story. Episode 2 came out around four months after Episode 1 was released.
  • Sequel Hook: Events at the end of Episode 5 leave things open for a potential Season 2: After entering the Vault of the Traveller and opening the cache they find there, Rhys and Fiona are teleported away. Roll credits. At least Rhys and Vaughn return in Borderlands 3.
  • Serious Business: Hyperion takes their pretend finger gunfights extremely seriously. To the point that if you refuse to take part or even fail the QTEs, they'll pull out real guns and kill you.
  • Series Establishing Moment: After stealing Vasquez's car and driving off to Pandora, Rhys and Vaughn accidentally run over a passing skag. Unlike how this happens in other games, they draw attention to it and are momentarily freaked out, showing how much this is not a gunplay-based entry.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Although Sasha always looked attractive, her makeover in episode 5 was a major upgrade, commented on by all. For that matter, Vaughn looks really buff in his post-apocalyptic warrior outfit, and Loader Bot's new chassis is quite spiffy.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Inverted. In Episode 5, despite the relative seriousness of the situation, if you decided to hire the Mystery Vault Hunter, you recruit Claptrap, who spends most of the final battle cracking jokes and complaining about how he's very likely to die.
  • Shout-Out: It is a Borderlands game, after all. Has its own page.
  • Ship Tease: In "Catch a Ride", Rhys has several opportunities to flirt with Sasha, but he's so awkward about it, it's hard to tell if she likes him back. Future episodes let the teasing continue, at which point Sasha returning Rhys’ feelings can become more clear.
  • Sibling Team: Fiona and Sasha are sisters who work together in cons.
  • Snake Oil Salesman: Fiona's profession pre-game.
  • Space Western: Like all Borderlands games so far, the game continues the theme of a lawless planet where there are plenty of ramshackle towns, roaming bandit armies and hostile environments.
    • Most notably, Rhys and Fiona's new outfits look like something out of the Wild West, with Rhys having a fancy waistcoat and all. Rhys' original outfit came with a pair of snakeskin boots.
    • Some of August and Vasquez's bandits in Episode 2 actually look like Wild West bandits.
    • This game has the biggest Western vibe out of all others-almost everybody uses Jakobs firearms, Prosperity Junction is very much like a modern Wild West town, Old Haven is a ghost town and Fiona can even purchase a very, very Western-like and much fancier version of her present day outfit that's appropiately named "Steampunk Princess".
  • Spiked Wheels: Many of the vehicles in the first episode chariot race have them.
  • Squee:
    • Rhys may do this a few times towards Zer0.
      Rhys: You're uh... you're really cool. I just... I wanted you to know that.
      Zer0: <3
    • Exaggerated in Episode 5 if you bring Zer0 to the final battle, when Zer0 has Gortys use Decepti0n, Rhys responds thusly:
    • Even before that, when Gortys mentions that Zer0 could teach her how to fight, Rhys is still the king of No Chill:
      Rhys: ZER0 WOULD BE IN HERE? THAT'S—that's nice. Would he-could? He? Sit next to me?
  • Super Robot Genre: The finale of Episode 5 is one big giant Shout-Out to this, as Gortys transforms into a Humongous Mecha and Rhys and friends pilot her to fight the Traveler. At the end Gortys even abruptly produces a giant sword out of nowhere to finish the Traveler off, and you wonder why she didn't pull it out sooner in the fight.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: When the Hyperion Accounting team does a mock gunfight with their boss, The other employees do their best to ignore them.
  • Swiss-Army Tears: This gets a Deconstructive Parody in the middle of Episode 5's most tear-jerking scene, when Rhys tries to get some of his tears to fall on Sasha's face.
    Sasha: What are you doing?
    Rhys: There are all these stories where—where someone's tears heal people. I really feel like that's a thing.
    Sasha, wistfully: Well, (wipes his tears away) this isn't one of those stories.
  • A Tale Told by an Idiot: The game depicts a grand adventure being told to a mysterious stranger from the perspectives of Rhys and Fiona. Fiona generally tells her story pretty straight, but Rhys himself is a buffoon in most situations, usually surviving situations more on sheer luck than actual plans. Whenever he slips up in retelling the story, he gets called on it.
  • Tall Tale: Both Rhys and Fiona, in reiterating their stories to the mysterious stranger, take liberties before the other calls them out on it.
  • Taxidermy Terror: The World of Curiosity Museum is full of creepy stuffed beasts, as well as some creepy stuffed people. And if you've seen what he's done to Oasis, it shouldn't come as too much a surprise who's running it.
  • Tear Off Your Face: In Episode 4, Rhys is witness to the aftermath of the sacred psycho ritual of "Skin Pizza."
  • The Nothing After Death: In Episode 5, after Helios has crashed and Jack has tried one last time to kill Rhys by forcing him to choke himself to death with his own arm, Rhys begins ripping out all his cybernetics to get rid of him for good. Jack realizes what's about to happen, and starts desperately begging Rhys to stop, even dropping to his knees, saying that he doesn't want to go back to being dead.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Yvette shows her true colors in Episode 4 as being just as backstabbing as everyone else on Helios, revealing to Rhys (while disguised as Vasquez) that she was in cahoots with Vasquez after Rhys and Vaughn left for Pandora to have Vasquez bring back Rhys' head to extract Jack's AI from inside, justifying it to herself as thinking that they were going to die anyway so she might as well have gained something from it. She tries to backpedal on this when talking to Rhys, saying that she was lying to Vasquez and was actually trying to get him and Vaughn back to Helios safely. You have three options: forgive her and get her back to Pandora safely through an escape pod, forgive her but then later drop her into space while attempting to shut down the central power core, or leave her trapped in a jail cell to be killed when Helios is destroyed.
  • Trailers Always Lie:
    • Most of the in-game episode trailers have featured Jimbo riding on the shoulders of Tector Hodunk, who's firing a heavy machine gun at something. This never shows up.
    • If you count areas seen in the background of the menu as being previews of locations in the series, the modern-looking city never shows up either. The closest thing is the ruins of Helios, which is surrounded by a shanty town.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The entire story unfolds this way, switching between the two main protagonists Rhys and Fiona as both tell their sides of the story to a captor, often to humorous effect.
  • Unfolding Plan Montage:
    • Happens when Rhys comes up with a plan to break into the Atlas warehouse. By the time he's done, everyone else has found another way to get in.
    Rhys: My way would have worked...
    • Happens again in Episode 4, only this time the rest of the group agrees to try it out. Apart from a few hiccups in the execution phase, such as Vasquez' body being destroyed by a suicide psycho, the Vas-guise's voice module breaking down mid-infiltration and either Rhys taking over Hyperion or being possessed by Jack just after grabbing the Gortys piece, it works.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Both of the protagonists are not above embellishing or outright making stuff up about the story if they can get away with it, either to stroke their own ego or to humiliate the other. However, anything too outrageous will be pointed out by The Stranger or the other narrator and the story continues. This is actually the reason why the Stranger is disguised, as he was afraid that if they knew his identity, Fiona and Rhys will lie to him about what happened to Gortys. Fiona actually lying to him about how Loader Bot punches Athena away only vindicated his fears, since he knows it's a lie but can't call her out on it without revealing he IS Loader Bot.
  • Unnecessary Combat Roll: Rhys can roll, or rather, flop out of the way to avoid being shot by August, only for August to point out that he can aim slightly to the side, while chewing out Rhys at the same time for doing so.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The Hyperion employees in the Hub barely pay any attention to the fact that there is a Pandoran with a legendary pistol and an Atlas robot walking around with the new tour guide. Justified, as they are either too busy battling each other in finger gunfights, looking out for Number One and behaving like wannabe Prohibition-era gangsters, in the case of the accounting department.
  • Villains Out Shopping: While there's still plenty of firefights and carnage relating to them to be had, you get to see the bandits of the franchise do other things apart from serving as Vault Hunter cannon fodder, as well as the Hyperion soldiers and Combat Engineers.
  • Virtual Ghost: Handsome Jack, who becomes a Dragon with an Agenda — and that agenda is Split-Personality Takeover.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Bossanova has a rather nerdy-sounding voice which doesn't suit a huge man leading a group of bandits, which is why he always speaks into a voice-changing microphone.
  • Wacky Racing: Bossanova's bandits engage in Chariot Race-like derbies in a circular track around the top of an old Atlas borehole mine shaft, complete with custom built vehicles smashing into each other.
  • Walk and Talk: Rhys, Vaughn and Yvette do this at the beginning of the game.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Vaughn, of all people, turns out to be surprisingly buff, as seen in episode 2.
  • Watching Troy Burn: The destruction of Helios at the beginning of episode 5, especially from Rhys' point of view. The music doesn't help, either.
  • We Can Rule Together: In the course of Episode 4, Rhys is offered the chance to rule Hyperion together with Jack.
  • Wham Episode: Episode 4, by far. Scooter sacrifices himself for the team and unless he plays his cards very, very wrong, Rhys can become the new president of Hyperion.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Allowing Jack to take control of Rhys's body at the end of episode two results in his Echo eye turning bright gold. The same color it is in the present day. Subverted Trope as it doesn't actually mean anything (it was a new eye after Jack's finished off), but it's still an example in context.
    • In Episode 5, the Stranger's flashback to Gortys's death, talking about a promise Rhys and Fiona made and broke... And seeing it in the distance, it zooms in on Loader Bot.
    • Another from Episode 5. If you collect enough money, you are able to hire the Mysterious Vault Hunter who turns out to be Claptrap (and you thought he wouldn't be here).
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Tediore shield Rhys picks up at the end of episode 1 is never acknowledged again.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • If you choose to trust Handsome Jack at the end of Episode 2, Episode 3 will open with everyone (Fiona, the Stranger, and even the narrator) wondering out loud what the hell you were thinking, as he took over your body and made you act like a complete asshole. Jack actually does save the day without killing any of your friends, though he can't resist taking a few potshots at them for the lulz.
    • In Episode 5, Jack points out to Rhys that in order to defeat him, he destroyed Helios, killing (at a minimum) thousands of innocent Hyperion employees. It's up to the player to choose how Rhys rationalizes it. However, this is subverted later in the game when Rhys discovers that the Hyperion employees who survived the destruction of Helios actually worship Rhys as a messiah figure for breaking them free of their corporate shackles.
  • Weapon-Based Characterization: Well, native Pandorans seem to like using Jakobs pistols or assault rifles, fitting for a Space Western. Bandits, of course, use their trademark guns and Vasquez wields Hyperion weapons. However, native baddies use semiautomatic Dahl repeaters, which are similar to Jakobs revolvers, except they have a bigger clip size and fire slower. Along with that, bad guys tend to use weapons with Torgue barrels, and Hyperion employees/soldiers always wield weapons from the company they work for.
  • World of Snark: Just about everyone has a smartass comment or two to make. Even Loader Bot, if Rhys has him self-destruct, will make snarky passive-aggressive comments during future meetings.
    • In Episode 3, upon meeting Gortys, when she says something nice to Rhys, he actually has to confirm that it's not just her being sarcastic, commenting that it's both weird and refreshing to meet someone on Pandora who's NOT a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Wretched Hive: Helios is pretty much the white collar, passive-aggressive, cloak & dagger counterpart to Pandora as it is filled with "complete assholes" that are all looking to follow Handsome Jack's example and take his place. As well as that, people are willing to do horrible things to native Pandorans to further their own goals, murder high-ranking executives daily so they can climb the ladder quickly and outright bully anyone who's beneath them, plus only caring about themselves, and only themselves.
  • You Don't Want to Catch This: One of the bluffs Fiona can use to keep August from touching the fake Vault Key (the paint's still wet) is to claim it's dangerous. Sasha then chimes in saying you could catch Eridium poisoning from Vault Keyes, so Fiona did August a favor.