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Video Game / The Stanley Parable

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"This is the story of a man named Stanley."

Having clicked on a link to this article, be it from another article or from a search results page, the reader began to read the description.

The Stanley Parable is a 2011 Environmental Narrative Game by Davey Wreden, which began life as a modification of Valve Software's Source engine. It is now also a standalone release on Steam (and later, Humble Bundle), colloquially known as the "HD Remix", which was released on October 17, 2013. While the standalone release expands on the formula, the idea behind both releases is largely the same.

The game follows the story of a man named Stanley, who spends his days pushing buttons as commanded by his boss, who issues orders to his workers via a system of monitors. However, one day Stanley notices that he hasn't been given any orders in hours, and finds that all of his co-workers have disappeared, so he sets out to discover what happened to them. What follows are events that change his life forever.

Without giving too much away (because it's a comedy game at its core and we don't want to spoil the jokes), the game is an interesting exploration of interactivity that serves as a send-up of, and commentary on, the nature of choice and predestination in video games, while not-so-indirectly also commenting on, and questioning, our own real-life existence. The Narrator is the sort of character you love to hate, like GLaDOS from the Portal games, and his light-hearted but sometimes dark dialogue makes the game not just thought-provoking but also fun to play. You can download the original Source mod here, and buy the HD Remake from Humble Bundle as a DRM-free download or from Steam. The lead designer went on to make the Spiritual Successor The Beginner's Guide, while the co-designer released Dr. Langeskov, The Tiger, and The Terribly Cursed Emerald: A Whirlwind Heist and then teamed up with Justin Roiland to create Accounting.

In December 2018, it was announced that the game would be receiving another Updated Re-release entitled The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, featuring more choices and endings; within the game itself, it is also styled as The Stanley Parable 2 (among other things). This version released on PC and consoles on April 27th, 2022.

The reader was then informed that there are unmarked spoilers in this article, so they ought to proceed with caution. They have a choice in the matter, of course. Doesn't really matter though, in the end. The tropes are still here.

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  • 20% More Awesome:
    • In the Raphael trailer, in response to Raphael's comment that he is both a logical and emotional being, the Narrator purports to have added sliders in the settings menu for Logic and Emotion and encourages players to set both to maximum to experience Raphael Mode.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, after unlocking the Settings World Champion room, the Narrator unlocks a new setting called "Bumpscosity", which ranges in value from 0 to 1000. Toggling the value will cause the Narrator to remark on the level of Bumpscosity at the start of a run, all the while never explaining what, exactly, it is.
  • Aborted Arc: The Narrator's story in-universe begins with all of Stanley's co-workers mysteriously disappearing, only to drop this plot thread completely when Stanley stumbles across his boss's secret mind control facility. Stanley can also invoke this by diverting the story's course, getting into all sorts of silliness as the Narrator tries to get the story back on track.
  • Achievement Mockery:
    • There's an achievement for attempting to jump, titled "You Can't Jump".
    • There's also "Click On Door 430 Five Times", which is meant to parody meaningless achievements. If you try to do exactly what the achievement says, the Narrator will express his disbelief about you being awarded an achievement for something so simple, and thus he'll send you all over the place doing all sorts of odd tasks in order to have you "work" for your achievement.
    • In the demo, there's an achievement called "Video Games!!" given for "winning" the demo (read: doing a trivial task the narrator made up on the spot).
  • Action Commands: Stanley's day job is pushing whatever buttons on the keyboard his computer tells him to, and he loves it. Sound familiar? It's a send-up of video games in general, but particularly is reminiscent of quick-time events.
  • Adapted Out: In the Nintendo Switch version of the game, mentions of Twitter, Destructoid, and GameSpot are all absent in the New Content and Skip Button endings.
  • Adjustable Censorship: In Ultra Deluxe, there is a setting that allows you to toggle Content Warnings for scenes involving suicide, mental health issues, and trauma. If the content warnings are turned on, you are also given the option to skip the triggering scenes when they pop up.
  • Affably Evil: The Narrator, who flip-flops between this trope and Faux Affably Evil and is capable of being either humorous and endearing or downright evil, or sometimes both at once.
  • After the End:
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the conclusion of the Memory Zone/Skip Button ending has Stanley pressing the skip button repeatedly until the room deteriorates enough for a wall to give way, where he emerges out to a flat, desert wasteland; possibly hundreds or even thousands of years into the future. This Reddit thread attempts to calculate how much time passed. Conclusion: 13,127,861,805.6 years.
    • The Epilogue takes place right after the aforementioned Memory Zone/Skip Button ending, where Stanley is left to wander the desert until he eventually comes across the ruins of the Memory Zone.
  • Alien Geometries:
    • The Confusion ending in the HD Remix features a few, including halls that allow you to turn more corners than should be possible without crossing your original path, areas where doubling back reveals that the entrance has gone away, and one case of a passageway that is clearly much longer the first time walking through than it appears to be from the outside.
    • The game in general makes liberal use of portals to connect parts of the map together. The office changes.
  • All Just a Dream:
    • Subverted in the Insane ending. Stanley thinks he is dreaming and is even capable of achieving effects of lucid dreaming. However, he cannot wake up, so he goes insane and dies.
    • Played for laughs with Ultra Deluxe's Vent ending, where the Narrator calls out Stanley and the audience for possibly falling for the cliche twist of him being nothing more than a tape recording, and that it was "all just in Stanley's head".
    • In the Ultra Deluxe edition's Sequel ending, trying to enter a Bottomless Pit exhibit enough times leads to Stanley being trapped in a knee-deep hole and abandoned by the Narrator, after which the floor starts to descend and a variety of buttons can be pressed to change the camera angle, background, music, and Stanley's character model...which gets interrupted by the Narrator coming back and waking Stanley up from his "dream" before you're reset back to the exhibition entrance.
  • The Aloner: Stanley is the only person left in the office building.
  • Amnesia Loop: It's the Narrator, not the player, who is stuck. However, the Zending ending implies that he is aware of this.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: In the Real Person ending, the game doesn't restart until the player has gone down both possible paths, likely because the developers didn't want players to have to sit through the cutscenes from that ending twice. In addition, if you try to go down the path that you already tried, the game immediately plops you back at the fork again so you don't have to sit through the ending again.
  • And I Must Scream: Near the beginning of Ultra Deluxe, this appears to happen to the Narrator during the “skip button” sequence — every time you skip forward, the Narrator experiences that time, alone, while Stanley remains frozen. As the Narrator of Stanley’s story, losing him for increasingly long periods of time - a year is the last noted time length, but the Narrator merely states that this is when he lost count, suggesting it was even longer than that - causes him to really Go Mad from the Isolation.
  • The Anti-Nihilist: The Choice PSA suggests this viewpoint as a coping mechanism if you think your ability to make correct choices does not matter.
    Voiceover: And finally, if you begin to wonder if your choices are actually meaningful, and whether you'll ever make a significant contribution to the world, just remember that in the vast infiniteness of space, your thoughts and problems are materially insignificant. And the feeling should subside.
  • Arc Number:
    • The number 'eight' seems to be pretty big in the game. There were eight endings in the original mod note , the demo at one point puts you into a room with a button that simply says "eight" every time it's pushed, there were supposed to be eight restarts for the Confusion ending according to its schedule, the announcer for the instructional video during the Real Person ending suggests you make at least eight choices per day, and pressing the '8' button on the keypad in the boss' office eight times will give you an achievement note .
      • In Ultra Deluxe, during the Confusion Ending, there's a readable document right outside the section with Employee 432's peer reviews. It details how 432 was being observed day by day, and his eventual disappearance on Day 3212, following his breakdown. Converting, 3212 days becomes 8.8 years.
    • Becomes meta upon the release of Ultra Deluxe. There's a little over an eight-year gap between the HD Remake and Ultra Deluxe, those who already own the HD Remake get a 33% discount for Ultra Deluxe in the first two weeks after the latter's launch, thus saving $8.25, and the launch date for Ultra Deluxe contains four twos, which add up to eight.
    • Stanley's employee number (427) is a pretty big one as well. Ultra Deluxe was released on April 27 (4/27).
    • The eighth song of Ultra Deluxe's soundtrack is literally called "8". Guess what it says?
    • If you complete Ultra Deluxe's Epilogue and keep relaunching the game until you play The Stanley Parable 8, you're stuck in the 'Button That Says 8' room from the original demo until you restart.
  • Arc Words:
    • "...And Stanley was happy" is said by the Narrator during the intro and at least in a few of the endings, ranging from being sincere to sarcastic, depending on what happens.
    • "The End Is Never The End" repeated endlessly, referencing how after each ending, the game restarts.
    • Ultra Deluxe adds "keep the wheel turning", in both the final ending and as an important Easter Egg.
  • Artifact of Doom: In Ultra Deluxe, in the Next Content/Skip Button ending, the Narrator creates a Skip Button which inevitably becomes his downfall.
  • Ascended Glitch:
    • There were two Game Breaking Bugs in the original mod; you could close the door to your office, trapping you inside, and you can kill yourself by repeatedly jumping off of the scaffolding in the Mind Control room. Both these eventually became fully fledged endings in the 2013 HD Remake (Coward and Zending, respectively, with the latter being done elsewhere in the game).
    • There's the ability the trap yourself by stepping out of the elevator before the doors close. In HD, you can do this with the door to the boss' office, enabling another new ending.
    • In the HD release, it was possible to climb over and fall to the bottom of the Mind Control Facility room, which left you stuck. You can still do this in the Ultra Deluxe re-release, but now the narrator chimes in after a moment, discussing the original bug, mockingly congratulating you for finding the 'bottom of the Mind Control Facility ending,' going on a tangent about how many players sent footage of the bug to the developers on Twitter and playing a goofy secret tune before restarting the game.
  • Ascended Meme: If you key in "8888" twice ("8" eight times) in the boss' office, it will make the same sound the infamous 8 button makes in the demo.
  • Bad Review Threat: The Narrator sees the negative reviews to the Stanley Parable this way in Ultra Deluxe, venting out how people seem to demand entertainment at any cost. The best possible way to describe this scenario is in the quotes page of this game.
  • Big Bad: How "bad" he is depends heavily on the ending, but in general, the Narrator is the constant, godlike entity who tries to force Stanley to follow his story. He's also revealed to have been the one who erased Stanley's coworkers in one ending. If Stanley rebels against him, he will do everything in his power to stop Stanley from achieving freedom.
  • Big Electric Switch: When you leave the museum in the Museum ending, there is one. If you toggle it, you get back to where you started before arriving to the museum.
  • Big First Choice: "When Stanley came to a set of two open doors, he entered the door on his left." Or did he? Whatever the player chooses, it's this first decision that starts to determine what ending a player is going to see. That said, the right door path actually branches off onto the left door path at a point, letting the player change their mind.
  • Big "NO!": If a player unplugs the phone, follows the game back to the Big First Choice, and goes through the door on the right a second time, the narrator will say "No! Why did you do that?!"
  • Big "YES!": The Narrator gives one when you earn the "Click on door 430 five times" achievement.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Some of the endings fit into this, mostly because your attempt to establish your own freedom ends up with Stanley dead, or worse. Some of them don't end well for the Narrator either. Particular examples include:
    • The Freedom ending, although ostensibly the Golden Ending, still sees Stanley blindly following the instructions of a more powerful entity, and never making his own decisions. Just like his role as Employee 427, this is only the "good ending" because the Narrator decides that Stanley is happy.
    • The Confusion ending has the most jovial tone overall, with Stanley and the Narrator actually getting along quite well and enjoying their hunt for the story together - but then they find the Confusion ending schedule and realize there's someone ELSE pulling the strings, even controlling the Narrator. The scheduled ending is also particularly depressing, as it was intended to end with the Narrator disappearing and Stanley dying after a long time of isolation. The Narrator refuses to continue down this path, and is punished with a hard reset of the game that puts him and Stanley back as they were - but by taking a stand, he prevents the game from proceeding down the much more depressing scheduled ending, making this a truly bittersweet conclusion.
  • Bizarrchitecture: In the Escape Pod ending, the player can see an office assigned to Employee 432 for six floors in a row.
  • Bizarre Dream Rationalization: In the "Mariella" Ending, Stanley gets stuck in an Unnaturally Looping Location and begins to question the nature of his reality, such as his lack of feet and the narrator discussing his every thought and action. He comes to the conclusion that he's dreaming and even goes lucid, floating through a starscape. The narrator then insists that he's awake and Stanley tries to prove it by waking himself up... Only for his effort to fail. He then goes into a panic and freaks out, trying to convince himself that he's a real human being. The final cutscene is ambiguous as to whether or not Stanley was hallucinating, as he's next found dead on the street after screaming about being real, despite having originally been inside the office.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: If the player follows the narrator's instructions to get to Stanley's boss' office multiple times, the Narrator gets sick of repeating himself on the subject of the keypad.
    "Ok, I think we all know the drill by now. Blah Blah Blah, Dark Secrets, The Keypad..."
  • Blamed for Being Railroaded:
    • Parodied: The Games ending leads to a minigame where the player must press a button repeatedly to stop a cardboard cutout of a baby from approaching a fire. As the only way to win the game is to press the button for four hours, it's likely the player will get bored and leave. Doing so has the Narrator berate Stanley, asking him why he hates babies.
    • During the Real Person ending, Stanley heads to his boss's office to put in the password and continue the story. However, the keypad has been replaced with a voice box requiring Stanley to speak the password. Problem is, Stanley can't speak and the game has no way of receiving audio from the player. This being the latest in a series of disruptions by your actions, the Narrator grows absolutely furious at the player even though you can't do anything to fix the problem. The Narrator then responds by kicking the player out of Stanley, only to find that without the player, Stanley can't do anything.
    • In the Apartment ending, the Narrator leads Stanley into a room and berates them for pressing the button prompts that appear onscreen, supposedly proving that the player is too stupid to do anything but follow orders. Pressing anything but the prompted button gives no response, however, and there is no way out of the room. But in this case, it's deliberate; the Narrator is fed up with the player screwing up his story and railroaded them into a scenario where you can do nothing but fail.
    • In the Ultra Deluxe ending, the Skip Button ending has shades of this - once you become trapped in the walled-off room with the Narrator after the door goes missing, there is no option for Stanley but to continue clicking the button in order to progress. Even as the time skips get larger and the Narrator pleads with you to stop pushing the button, apart from restarting the game entirely, you have no choice but to continue hitting it until he goes insane and eventually stops talking completely.
  • Bland-Name Product: On the console versions of Ultra Deluxe all mentions of Steam is replaced by a similarly-named game site called "Pressurized Gas", also counts as Product Displacement.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • If the player unplugs the phone after already playing through the Apartment ending, then the ending that the narrator reads is a blatant lie. The Narrator claims that Stanley and his wife reconcile and achieve a happy ending, while in reality, the Apartment ending ends in the Narrator giving Stanley a long "The Reason You Suck" Speech and pointing out the futility of his job and his life before the game resets yet again.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, part of the Skip Button ending involves reading a negative Steam review from "Cookie9" that states the Narrator is patronizing, droning, and long-winded, and requests the titular Skip feature. Much later, in the Epilogue, the first review for The Stanley Parable 2 you find is from Cookie9's Blog, and it begins with the line "Like so many, I enjoyed my time with the original Stanley Parable".
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the Narrator claims that Stanley used his bucket to cushion his fall in the bucket version of the Bottom of the Mind Control Facility ending. But when the Narrator uses the same argument during the bucket version of the Cold Feet ending to convince Stanley that he can survive the jump, it clearly doesn't work.
  • Bookends:
    • The Freedom ending starts and ends with the phrase "And Stanley was happy".
    • The "Click on door 430 five times" achievement does not consist solely of that particular action, but the first and last actions taken to get the achievement do consist of clicking door 430 five times.
  • Boss Battle: Played with. On the Countdown ending it looks like it: The Narrator even teases you with a timer and many buttons in the room where you're in, even with some music. And then he reveals that it's actually a Hopeless Boss Fight... No, not even that, actually. It's not even a battle, you never had any chances of actually surviving.
  • Bottomless Pits: In Ultra Deluxe, one feature of The Stanley Parable 2 area consists of an Infinite Hole. Subverted when it turns out it is simply very, very deep, but still finite. Then the hole becomes less and less infinite until it's barely a hole at all. Unfortunately, it still acts as an Insurmountable Waist-Height Fence to Stanley.
  • Bowdlerize: An update to the HD remix changed the instructional video from Steve lighting a kid's cigarette to giving him a flower. The Ultra Deluxe version changes the two example choices entirely - Rupert now chooses between inventing a machine to eliminate food shortages, or spending years forgetting how to read.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: In the meeting room at the HD Remix, a presentation slide presented a chart of charts in a slide, consisting of charts, slides, and charts and slides.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall:
    • At one point, if Stanley disobeys the Narrator enough, he will arrive in a room where the walls contain the default developer texture, and there's a big box replacing the sky, with the Source skybox texture. The Narrator even mentions it. Of course, it gets better. Really, this crops up all over the place - it's integral to the nature and impact of the piece.
    • At another point, you're presented with a keypad and your only means of learning the passcode is to wait for the Narrator to mention "Stanley had no way of knowing the passcode was 2845", and then remark on how "incredibly lucky" Stanley was to have managed to "guess" the code. Furthermore, on subsequent playthroughs, typing 2845 before the Narrator can narrate it to you results in him becoming incredibly flustered and cross with the player, forcing them to listen to some calming new age music before they can continue.
      Narrator: Stanley was in such a rush to get through the story as quickly as possible he DIDN'T EVEN HAVE A SINGLE MINUTE TO JUST LET THE NARRATOR TALK! That kind of anxiety isn't healthy, so he relaxed for a few moments, with some calming new age music. (It plays) Feeling soothed and rejuvenated, Stanley calmly walked forward into the opened passageway.
    • Taken to another level with the demo that the Game Grumps played: Dan and Ross received a copy from the developers, unaware that it had been modified. Among other things, it addresses them by name, mentions the Steam Train audience, and even insults Ross.
      Narrator: God dammit Ross!
    • Youtuber Jacksepticeye actually got the Narrator to narrate the beginning of a playthrough video of the Ultra Deluxe version. Which begins to overlay his own voice as he reads from the same script.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In Ultra Deluxe, one of the slider options the player is given is to slide a cat and dog together until they're friends. Depending on where the player sets the slider, a newspaper will appear in the Epilogue reporting a cat-dog birth or war.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the path to the Skip Button ending involves reading a Steam review from user "Cookie9" that requests the titular feature. Later, in the Epilogue, the first review you find for "The Stanley Parable 2" is from Cookie9's blog.
    • Also in Ultra Deluxe, taking The Bucket to the Escape Pod ending results in Stanley sealing The Bucket in the escape pod, allowing it to take off before the game resets. Later, in the Epilogue, you can find the abandoned escape pod near the Memory Zone, with The Bucket still inside.
    • Yet again in Ultra Deluxe, after the Epilogue, if you agreed to the Settings Person's proposition, every time you restart the game, you're prompted to give a Mad Libs title for the next sequel, which increments by one after each restart. For the most part, this doesn't really do anything in-game, but Stanley Parable 3 results in a mock-up title screen with your chosen title. That's not this trope, but when you reach Stanley Parable 8, instead of the actual game, you encounter the "8" button from the demo.
  • Broken Aesop: In-universe, this is the case for the Narrator's original story, as seen in the Freedom ending. The entire thematic thrust of it is supposed to be about Stanley freeing himself from an oppressive regime that controls everyone and locks them into a path where they do nothing but push buttons, ultimately escaping to live a life where he can make his own choices. The thing is, the Narrator's idea of how to communicate these themes is to stick Stanley on a tight, linear path and have him do whatever the Narrator tells him to (which is usually pushing buttons). The ending even takes camera and movement control away from the player once Stanley reaches the outside world. And of course, whenever Stanley tries to express any degree of personal agency, the Narrator treats it as a personal affront.
  • But Thou Must!: In Ultra Deluxe:
    • At the end of the first Memory Zone instance, you must repeatedly press the Skip Button as the Narrator will eventually loop through each of his rambles (or in one case, leave you in silence as he looks for a new door to replace the one you entered from, which somehow vanished during one skip) until you do so.
    • In the Bucket Destroyer ending, the Narrator insists that you destroy the bucket by throwing it into the namesake crusher, but if you walk up to it and try interacting, Stanley will just look at the bucket in refusal every time, resulting in the Bucket Destroyer's 'death' as the only outcome.
  • The Cake Is a Lie: Inverted with the collectable Stanley figurines in Ultra Deluxe. As you find them, the narrator keeps implying that collecting all the figurines won't unlock or do anything. This seems to be the case initially, but upon resetting the game, the Narrator becomes fixated on the lack of reward, and takes you back to the Memory Zone for another alternate ending where he reminisces on all the figurines you collected.
  • Capcom Sequel Stagnation: After the player completes the epilogue, the slider master decides to keep rereleasing the same game over and over again as sequels to The Stanley Parable 2, with the only changes being the title screen and a silly subtitle. Thankfully, the player can choose whether this happens or not.
  • Capitalism Is Bad:
    • Played With in the trailer for The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe.
      Narrator: Which is why we've locked the game's source code away where it can never be touched by the greedy hand of capitalism.
    • ...And of course, the Narrator shows off his Hypocritical Humor by 'persuading' (read: forcing) Stanley into starring as the main character again while filling his entire office with cash, making fun of the potential buyers of the game, and not even trying to be subtle about himself wanting a third swimming pool. In fact, at the end of the trailer, the game's title shows on screen with a cash machine's 'ding!' sound.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Parodied in the HD Remix. The Narrator tells the player to look at a fern and study it closely, telling him it will be very important later on in the story. It never comes up again, nor is it mentioned for the rest of the game.
      • Becomes doubly subverted when the fern reappears in Ultra Deluxe, in the final room of the Memory Zone in the Figurine Ending, as well as in the intervention at the beginning of the Bucket Destroyer Ending..
    • Another inversion: in the demo, when you get to the "8" button, the Narrator claims that there's no part of the full game where you press a button and a voice says "Eight". However, in the real game, you can actually do this on the keypad in the boss's office. (Though he did say that that particular button wouldn't have been part of the full game.)
      • However, the 8 game does appear in Ultra Deluxe if you complete the Epilogue and increase the sequel count to 8, at which point you play the 8 game instead of the regular game. The only way to get back to the regular Stanley Parable is to close and reopen the game, thereby turning the game into The Stanley Parable 9.
    • The Bucket in the Ultra Deluxe edition - seems to simply be a cute send-up to Portal at first, but after the Sequel ending, it turns out that not only is the Bucket now an obtainable item, it also alters the ending of every original ending, plus UD-only ones, effectively doubling the number of endings as well as making itself plot relevant.
  • Collection Sidequest: The Stanley figurines in Ultra Deluxe, as a meta commentary on the nature of value of collectibles in video games (or lack thereof).
  • Comically Missing the Point: The Narrator, in the Joke Timing ending. Unlike the Real Person ending, where the Narrator is increasingly despondent now that Stanley is no longer responding without Player input, the Narrator takes Stanley's lack of response as him not being amused by the Narrator's bucket jokes. He resolves to watch more instructional videos on comedy.
  • Companion Cube: Parodied and exaggerated in Ultra Deluxe with the Stanley Parable Reassurance Bucket. Every time Stanley picks it up, the Narrator describes its calming, grounding effect on Stanley, and narrates it as having human feelings and a voice just as often as he points out it’s an inanimate object. The Bucket versions of the Apartment, Museum, Insane, Broom Closet, and Vent endings have, respectively, the original narrator, the second narrator, Mariella (the woman that finds Stanley's body), the broom closet, and the voice on the tape become enamored with the Bucket themselves.
  • Concealing Canvas: Discussed. At his boss' office, the narrator mentions that Stanley is looking everywhere for the safe's combination, even behind paintings.
  • Content Warnings: In Ultra Deluxe, there’s an option for these. Specifically, for scenes that deal with mental health issues, trauma, and suicide. When you approach such a scene, a warning will appear in the corner of the screen and give you the option to press a key that will skip it.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!:
    • If you enter the broom closet, the Narrator will not-so-subtly hint that there is nothing there and you should leave. Refusing to leave will lead to him hurling insults at you before coming to the conclusion that you the player are dead and call for a second player to take control of the game. If you repeatedly enter the broom closet, the Narrator will board it up on subsequent runs.
    • If you refuse to enter the correct passkey on your boss's keypad, the Narrator will annoyedly repeat the code a few times, until he gives up and opens the door for you, saying that the emergency override conveniently kicked in.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Stanley guesses the boss's personal identification number by pure luck.
  • Controllable Helplessness:
    • During the Countdown ending, you are unable to do anything but just wait for inevitable doom, as the Narrator gleefully lampshades. The HD version adds some things that you can actually interact with, some of which seem to accomplish something... but none of it will save you.
      Narrator: You're only still playing instead of watching a cutscene because I want to watch you for every moment that you're powerless. To see you made humble.
    • You are unable to leave if you go for the Apartment ending; if you attempt to do so, The Narrator will point that out in a rather sinister way and block your path.
      Narrator: Sorry, but you're in my story now.
  • Copy Protection: Parodied in the "Raphael Trailer", where the Narrator claims that the "Raphael" version of the game will start deleting stuff from your hard drive because of the possibility that you download the game illegally.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: A certain feeling of hopelessness and dread might set in upon having it hammered into your head by an intangible entity that you have never been and never will be the master of your fate, that none of your choices matter, and that your very existence is utterly pointless. And the game wouldn't have it any other way.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The dulcet tones of the reassuring voiceover start out pleasantly, at least if you do what you're told, but if you read between the lines of its congratulations for doing so, you see constant reminders of your lack of autonomy and puppet status, and the subtle wrongness of the situation comes into sharp relief the moment you disobey.
  • Creator Cameo: The voice of the "eight" game in the demo and in an Easter Egg in the main game is the writer and creator of the original mod, Davey Wreden.
  • Crossover:
    • A Stanley Parable announcer pack is available for Dota 2.
    • Dungeons 2 went with the same narrator. One of his random lines even has him talking about Stanley before he realizes he's been reading the wrong script.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In the Zending, even though it's by your own design. The only way to see the full ending is to jump repeatedly from a staircase to your death, all while the Narrator's pleading with you not to do it.
  • Cruelty Is the Only Option:
    • In the Zending ending, changing your mind about killing yourself will not make a difference, as the Narrator just stops talking and the story doesn't "progress" until you are successfully dead, thereby taking away his happiness.
    Narrator: It looks like you wanted to make a choice after all. Well, this one is yours.
    • Similarly, in the Ultra Deluxe’s Skip Button ending, the only way to make progress is to continue hitting the skip button. It starts off as a gag, but the Narrator grows increasingly distressed to the point of begging you to keep your hands off the button, and more skips render him utterly inconsolable.
  • Damned by Faint Praise: The kind of compliments showcased in the demo's compliments room.
    Narrator: Of all the people I know who are playing this exact demo at this exact moment, and standing in this exact room, your performance is easily in the top 5000. Top 4700 even. I won't go as far as 4600.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Narrator, any time you choose to disobey his instructions. Exaggerated in the Broom Closet Ending, in which he resorts to calling you names in an almost childlike manner.
    Narrator: Stanley was fat and ugly, and really really stupid. He probably only got his job through some sort of family connection, that's how stupid he is. That, or with drug money. Also, Stanley is addicted to drugs and hookers.
  • Deconstruction Game:
    • Of linear games that tell you exactly what to do while giving the illusion of a living, explorable world.
    • Also of games that inspire a last-second Heel–Face Turn Rebellion, Solve the Soup Cans, Game-Breaking Bug, Screw Destiny, and the issue of who controls who in a game.
    • It's also a rather nice deconstruction of Narrators and the whole idea of plot in a story.
    • The demo of the HD remix is a deconstruction of demos where the Narrator spends the entire demo fretting about getting you to experience the purported actual demo. Almost nothing of the demo is in the game but, in spite of that, it manages to represent the core appeal of the game using the same style of humor and its own plot that is thematically similar to the game.
    • The game also shows that morality plays more interested in personally insulting the player for being sadistic are often run by sadists themselves, except their sadism is only elevated as "better" because they happen to be creators and can thus put words in the players' mouths as they wish.
  • Developer's Foresight: A lot. See here.
  • Developer's Room: In the HD Remake, entering the door marked "Escape" on the way to the room with all the monitors, dropping down the hole at the end of the hall it leads to. It also leads to the Museum ending.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Try to cheat and you'll be placed in the Serious Room for one hundred billion trillion years. Cheat again and it's increased to infinity years.
  • Downer Ending: Some of the endings fit into this, mostly because your attempt to establish your own freedom ends up with Stanley dead, or worse. Some of them don't end well for the Narrator either. Particular examples include:
    • Zending, in which the Narrator really does want to make Stanley happy, and proves it by taking him to the Starry Dome. However, Stanley instead chooses to leave and throw himself off a balcony repeatedly until he dies, all while the Narrator pleads with him to stop, saying that he doesn't want to go back to who he was, and expressing great sadness that Stanley would rather kill himself than allow the Narrator to be happy for once.
    • Real Person is particularly brutal for the Narrator, as you, the player, derail his story so brutally that it is completely beyond repair, forcing him to boot you out of Stanley's body - but as Stanley cannot function without a player, the ending concludes with the Narrator pleading with Stanley to make a choice, any choice, as the game's credits roll by.
    • The Skip Button ending is by far the cruelest ending for the Narrator - while exploring the game's new content, the Narrator shows Stanley a skip button he created to please fans who didn't like his long-winded dialogue, only for them to end up trapped in a room with no way out, with the only option available being to press the skip button. In addition, the more times the button is pressed, the longer the skips become, and the Narrator is left completely alone and trapped in the room with Stanley's unresponsive body every time he does it. As the Narrator spends longer and longer spans of time alone, he slowly begins to go insane from loneliness, and eventually disappears altogether, leaving Stanley to continue clicking the button as hundreds - or maybe thousands - of years go by.
  • Droste Image:
    • The main menu of the HD Remix, which features the computer monitor on Stanley's desk displaying the main menu of the HD Remix.
    • Ultra Deluxe adds an in-game instance with a television that displays Stanley's point of view, accompanied by a sign saying "You are in the present" which changes to "You are in the past" on the TV screen. It's located during the Figurine ending, as the Narrator reminisces on events that have led to the present moment.
    • The game's soundtrack album consists of one of these.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Half of the point of this game is to lead the Narrator's story Off the Rails enough such that he triggers one of these.
  • Easter Egg:
    • A "Secret Disco" can be activated in the Monitor Room by taking specific steps instead of moving onto the Countdown Room.
    • The Narrator will comment if Stanley closes both doors outside of employee 417's office instead of moving forward with the story.
    • Typing in "secret" or "vinh" will activate Easter eggs in the credits.
    • Dallas's mask from PAYDAY: The Heist can be found tucked away in a corner during the Adventure Line™ portion of the Confusion Ending.
    • Typing in "hideous" into the console will randomly load one of several wiki pages for cosmetic items in Team Fortress 2 that were made by Andrea Jörgensen, one of the 3D artists for The Stanley Parable.
    • In the Ultra Deluxe version, during the Real Person route it's possible after riding the platform back to the other side of the warehouse to glitch though to get to the lower floor of the warehouse without dying. Doing so and going into the white room near the vans will start to play Thank You, Please from Accounting with noises of basketballs being shot into nets. This has since been patched to add an invisible wall next to the sign, rendering it inaccessible with saving your jumps.
    • The Ultra Deluxe version has a copious amount of secrets hidden in out-of-bounds areas, as seen here.
    • Easter eggs extend to The Stanley Parable website itself, with developer notes in the HTML and JS source code.
    • Animation from Cas van de Pol is used twice in Ultra Deluxe content: during "The Stanley Parable, Sequels, and YOU!" video on the sequel's website, and during the Bottomless Pit dream sequence.
    • An interactive laptop in the New New Content ending contains a reference to Crows Crows Crows' earlier game EAT: THE REVOLUTION.
    • By exploiting a bug-turned-feature with the jump circle, the player can reach an otherwise-inaccessible area in the Vent ending and be treated to an Elden Ring Easter egg—"praise the jumping!"
  • Eldritch Location: The building is often reconfigured as you move through it, sticking you in looping corridors among other things.
  • The Elevator from Ipanema: The elevator plays music titled "The Elevator Bossa Nova" (and shakes) as soon as you press the button. To stop the music and open the door, press the button again and you're exactly where you started.
  • Embedded Precursor: Inverted for laughs, after a certain point of Ultra Deluxe, it turns into The Stanley Parable 2. Taken even further in the epilogue, where the settings guy will help you turn the game into The Stanley Parable 3, even allowing you to give a Mad Libs Title. Afterwards, every time you start the game, the sequel number increases, and you get to make a new subtitle for it.
  • Empty Room Psych: Stand in the broom closet and Narrator will tell you there really isn't anything to do there, even the player might expect that it wouldn't exist in the game world without a good reason. He'll also become annoyed if you hang around in looking a room for too long and will try to get you back to moving the story along.
    Narrator: Stanley went around touching every little thing in the office, but it didn't make a single difference, nor did it advance the story in any way.
  • Endless Corridor: Multiple endings have corridors that go on forever - Insane, Confusion and Zending Endings.
  • Emoticon: In the HD Remake, during the broom closet Easter Egg, if you have subtitles on, the "XD" emoticon appears at one point.
  • Environmental Narrative Game: The game really has little in common with almost any other game — you can move around (sans jump), you can look around, and you can interact with the environment. All of the gameplay consists of exploration of the environment using the very limited tools you have available to you. It is set in a first-person view (mostly, anyway) but isn't a First-Person Shooter; there are very few objects you can even interact with in a meaningful manner beyond the "use" command. Some, including Yahtzee have described it as a Genre Deconstruction.
  • Epic Fail:
    • The Narrator considers unplugging the telephone (in a room where answering it was supposed to be the only available option) to be this.
    Narrator: You actually... chose incorrectly? How is that even possible?!
    • The Narrator reacts similarly to getting stuck in the Portal test chamber in the HD version.
      Narrator: Now how did you manage that? Are you really trapped in here? I'm actually quite impressed! I don't think there's a simpler puzzle out there, and you've still broken it.
  • The Everyman: Stanley, if we take the Narrator's word for it. He is described as a simple man in the introduction.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The title screen changes in Ultra Deluxe after it becomes The Stanley Parable 2. And then it changes again once it becomes The Stanley Parable 3, 4, and so on.
  • Exact Time to Failure: The large monitor in the control room in the Countdown ending counts down from two minutes, and the Narrator adds another minute and a quarter in just to be a sadist.
  • Existential Horror:
    • While seeming like a comedy game, viewers and players have often reported feeling distinctly uncomfortable, horrified, and confused by the experience. The game gives the mere illusion of choice where regardless of what you do, you’ll end right back at the beginning. Completely alone, trapped in the same building you can never escape regardless of your actions. It creates a rather claustrophobic experience in spite of the humorous surface.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the Skip Button ending takes this up to eleven. The Narrator is forced to experience the passage of time completely alone as Stanley skips past hours, then days, then weeks, then years. He begins to completely unravel his sense of being, questioning not only who he is but what he is, describing in great detail the existential fear he experienced in the year(s) he was alone, before eventually being reduced to simply repeating a Madness Mantra on loop, and then nothing.
  • Failsafe Failure: This trope gets referenced by name in the Countdown ending, where, like everything else, the button reading "failsafe" accomplishes nothing when pressed.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: To quote Cakebread, the designer:
    "You will make a choice that does not matter. You will follow a story that has no end. You will play a game you cannot win."
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Present in Ultra Deluxe, at the end of the Memory Zone visit that occurs after collecting all the figurines. The Narrator goes and resets the game, only to decide during the loading screen that he wants to relive the memories of Stanley collecting the figurines once again, at which point the progress bar reverses and the loading screen disappears.
  • Fauxshadow: Once you reach the Freedom ending in both versions, the Narrator wonders about the fate of Stanley's fellow co-workers, noting that there are more co-workers out there and that they can be saved somehow. However, none of the other endings make it even seem like that's possible, and that statement is never referenced anywhere else.
  • First-Person Ghost: Lampshaded. In one of the endings, the Narrator questions why Stanley can't see his feet if he looks down.
  • Fission Mailed: Inverted in the Confusion ending, when eventually the Narrator tries to make the game end already by creating a fake "You Win".
  • Flat Character: Invoked by Ultra Deluxe’s bucket version of the Confusion Ending which introduces the character of The Bucket Destroyer, a large grinding machine that exists solely to destroy buckets. The narrator lampshades how The Bucket Destroyer only has one personality trait, but attempts to defy this by claiming he has deep backstory and motivations behind this one trait, that it’s effectively ten personality traits. We never get to learn about these details though, as The Bucket Destroyer ends up overloading and blowing himself up.
  • Follow the Plotted Line: The story where you follow the Narrator's is this, and The Stanley Parable Adventure Line™ is a literal plot line. Naturally, it's not as simple as that.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Early into the Countdown ending, the Narrator says "You're going to die anyway." He isn't bluffing.
    • The Narrator also says that the game has too many endings in the demo. Of all the things from the demo that didn't happen in the game, for once that was true.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, if Stanley goes towards the Two Doors Room before seeing the new content, the "no buckets" sign serves as this for the Reassurance Bucket.
  • Formula for the Unformulable: The Comedic Timing ending in Deluxe involves watching an instructional video on the nature of comedic timing, rife with Surreal Humour. The "optimal conditions" for joke-telling apparently involve standing 50-80cm away from your audience, indoors, with one arm raised almost-vertically in front of you. And you should let them know when the joke is over by screaming this information at the top of your lungs.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: The Phone ending includes instructions popping up on your screen for every few lines of narration, to press random keys that do nothing. The first one welcomes you, as employee 427. At that point, you are not playing Stanley - employee 427. You are employee 427, endlessly pressing buttons just because you're told to. And then the game tells you to please die.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • The Raphael trailer for the remake has a list of just some of the "emotions" one can experience in the Emotion Booths. Naturally, this is lampshaded when one of the "emotions" accuses you of pausing the video just to read the whole list.
    • The demo has an absolute doozy of a list of possible side effects the player may suffer while playing the demo.
  • From Beyond the Fourth Wall: The only way that Stanley (the player) will know the code to the keypad is for the third-person omniscient Narrator to relate the anecdote of how his boss picked that number. Lampshaded when the Narrator suggests Stanley was just pressing random buttons to get the correct number. In The HD Remake, if you press the buttons before the Narrator says them, the Narrator will berate you, then tell you to calm down. The next time he'll just open it right off the bat since you insist on rushing. Also, if you don't enter the code after he tells you ("Stanley could not possibly know that the code was 2-8-4-5"), he becomes irritated that you're not taking the hint.
  • Game-Breaking Bug:
    • In the original mod, it's possible to press a button on the elevator, then run out of it before it starts moving, leaving you stranded. This seems to have inspired the "Cold Feet" ending.
    • Also in the original mod, you can also close the door before leaving the room you start in, after which the door cannot be re-opened. This may have inspired the Coward ending in the HD Remake.
    • Also, in the Mind Control Facility you can kill yourself by jumping repeatedly from the upper ledge out of spite. The Powerful and Zending endings in the HD Remake seem to be inspired by this.
    • One of the only mishaps the Dev team didn't actually think of in the HD Remake is that it's possible to climb up onto a chair in the room with the monitors labeled Mind Control Facility and then walk off the railings into the void below, as seen in this video. Oddly enough, this doesn't kill you, but it does leave you trapped at the bottom with no way out except to restart. As stated above, this has become an Ascended Glitch as of the Ultra Deluxe release, with special dialogue and a secret music track accompanying it.
    • One of the main endings in the HD remake involves the player stepping inside the boss's office then quickly leaving before the doors shut. Once again, this is not a bug. If you go back, it takes you to the Escape Pod ending. However, if you entered the door on the right earlier, before getting back on track, a real Game-Breaking Bug does occur in the HD Remix (because a door closes where it should open, trapping Stanley).
    • A rare but frequent bug involves a lot of the video cut-scenes, where they won't play at all (visuals or sound) and can soft-lock your game by not clearing up the screen. Currently there is no fix for this.
  • Gameplay Protagonist, Story Protagonist: The titular character is an entirely blank slate for the player. The main character is actually the Narrator, and he is very particular about his story going the way he intends. Unfortunately for him, you have free will to simply ignore his instructions and veer off the main path, with drastic consequences.
  • Game Within a Game: The Narrator's 'baby game' lampoons simplistic Art Games.
  • The Ghost:
    • Every other character in the game, but especially Stanley's wife, because they don't actually exist. Maybe.
    • Employee 432 is the only other employee of note. Peering very closely at some scattered documents in the Mind Control Facility reveals he's somehow different from everyone else, possibly a control subject that's not under mind control. His desk is mysteriously absent of a computer or files; it just has one pencil sharpener and no chair. One item on the whiteboard in the meeting room is discussing "what to do with 432." And the impossible corridor in the Confusion ending file room overlooks a colossal repository of "Employee 432 Peer Reviews."
  • Golden Ending: An ironic variant. Stanley can shut down the mind control device and escape to freedom. The Narrator describes how Stanley has thrown off his shackles and demonstrated what he can do when there's no one to tell him what to do. Ironically, the only way to get this ending is to do exactly what the Narrator tells you to do. Worse, the Narrator says there was no longer anyone to tell Stanley what to think or feel, and that he is happy. On the other hand, the completely Off the Rails endingsnote  may be considered a Golden Ending, since they end with the player effectively disconnected from the game, and they actually end with the game's credits.
  • Go Mad from the Isolation: In Ultra Deluxe, this appears to happen to the Narrator during the “skip button” sequence. See And I Must Scream above for more details.
  • Gratuitous Disco Sequence:
    • In the back part of the demo's room with the emotion booths, there's one additional open booth (you need to crouch to get to it). Entering it will play "Who Likes To Party" by Kevin Macleod, with lights flashing and strobing around you.
    • For the HD version, when you get to the mind-control room while following the Narrator's directions, there will be a point where you press a button and bring down an elevator. If you wait long enough, the gate going back the way you came will open, and you'll be able to return to the button that turned on the lights originally; pressing this starts the entire room with all the screens in a disco-light sequence (as shown here).
  • Gravity Barrier: The lift room has several ledges that can be walked off of, resulting in a drop that kills Stanley and nets you the Powerful ending. Amusingly enough, attempting to glitch down to the floor safely by exploiting the shelves and ledges in the area reveals that the entire floor is programmed to kill you, no matter how steep the drop.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop: Pretty much the whole point of the game. Some of the endings imply that the narrator is aware of this.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • A few of the endings in the HD Remix are not immediately obvious.
      • Two of the endings, particularly (Games and Zending) require you to jump off of a lift and land on a catwalk while the Narrator is still talking.
      • The Escape Pod ending is the only ending that requires (hell, allows) you to backtrack, and even then, you have to backpedal around in a split-second moment at a specific point in the story (turning around or backing up immediately after entering Stanley's boss's office) which isn't even hinted at.
      • The Real Person ending requires you to unplug the telephone in the room after the lift. Even the Narrator is baffled that you somehow would think to do this.
      • The Window ending requires you to, well, jump out a window. This is somewhat hampered by the fact that you can't jump. You have to climb over desks.
      • The Heaven ending requires you to input something into computers in five consecutive playthroughs, finished or otherwise. Counterintuitive enough on its own, but even if you manage to pick up on the pattern of the ones in the cubicles, the fact one of the computers is the boss's secretary's desk on an entirely different floor and much further in the story can easily stump players.
    • Ultra Deluxe has a few of its own:
      • The Press Conference ending requires you to ride the elevator down from the boss' office... and then ride it back up, something that wasn't possible in the original. Not only that, but you have to repeatedly ride the elevator up and down, visiting the office each time before the ending properly locks in.
      • Like the Out of Bounds endings, the Bottom of the Mind Control Facility endings require you to perform an action that was considered a bug in the original game to reach.
      • Unlocking the Epilogue. Not only do you have to collect all the figurines and sit through the ending that comes with it, but you also have to close and reopen the game itself repeatedly in order to exhaust the pre-title settings and dialog. The latter is only hinted at once in the meeting room after the restart following said figurine ending, and is extremely easy to miss if you don't visit it during that time.

    H - R 
  • Heartbeat Soundtrack: The final moments of "Showing Him The Bucket" from the Ultra Deluxe soundtrack, played in the bucket variant of the Insanity ending.
  • Hope Spot: In the Confusion ending, the Narrator seems to realize that he's being controlled too, and finally seems to somewhat empathize with Stanley due to feeling the same level of restriction Stanley has, and refuses to go through with the game's plans. The game then hard-resets and things are all back to where they started. Also, this is pretty much the "Countdown" ending in a nutshell. There should be a way out, but there isn’t and the Narrator probably set the whole thing up because he thought it would be funny to get Stanley’s hopes up.
  • Humble Pie: The Narrator claims he's doing this to Stanley in the Countdown Ending by putting him in an inescapable death trap, but it’s really more of an excuse to be a sadist.
  • Hypocritical Humor: The Narrator wants to tell a story about a man throwing off the shackles of control and making his own decisions, but becomes increasingly upset when his protagonist rebels directly against the narrative.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: In one of the darker Easter Eggs, near the copy machine there are notes where it begs to be killed, apparently driven mad by endless office chatter and horrified at the idea that, as a printer, it can never know life or love.
  • I Can't Reach It: Stanley is inexplicably unable to jump, although it's not exactly a useful skill here anyway. There's even an achievement which lampshades this.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: The "choice" video instructs you to use an excuse of this nature if you find yourself in a conversation with an imaginary person.
    "My goodness! Is it 4:30? I'm supposed to be having a back-sack-and-crack!"
  • Insane Troll Logic: During the Confusion ending, when Stanley and the Narrator come to a set of two doors during their own adventure, the Narrator starts using an incredibly bizarre train of thought including "a counter-inverted reverse door's origin" to deduce that they should go through the right door. He ends by calling what he said a victory for logic. However if, by a cheat, we open the left door, as seen here, we see that the left door leads back to the same circular room with the two doors through the right door, which leads to the Schedule...
  • Insurmountable Waist-High Fence: The allegedly Infinite Hole in Ultra Deluxe, which shortens as you keep falling into it until it's no deeper than a kiddie pool, at which point the teleport button you've been using to escape it stops working. Because you can't jump and can only walk up normal-sized steps, this leaves you trapped for eternity by a knee-high fence.
  • In the Dreaming Stage of Grief: Discussed in the Insane ending. Stanley wonders if he's dreaming up the whole story, or if it's just him trying to deceive himself into believing he doesn't have to take responsibility for himself.
  • In-Universe Game Clock:
    • Downplayed. One of the achievements requires you to not play the game for five years, but this is easily beaten by just setting the time five years ahead.
    • And then the developers, prior to the launch of Ultra Deluxe, decided to double the amount.
      remember the stanley parable "go outside" achievement that you get after not playing for 5 years?
  • iPhony: On the way to the Stanley Parable 2 Expo Hall in Ultra Deluxe, there are MacBook look-alikes with silhouettes of a crow (because the game was developed by "Crows Crows Crows") where the Apple logo would be. Except they seem to run Windows 10.
  • Ironic Hell: In the final end of the Real Person ending, the Narrator has become disgusted with your inability to follow his instructions even when you're willing to and the whole thing breaks down, and you're forcibly booted entirely out of Stanley's existence, looking down at him in the two-door room. The narrator's got everything he's wanted, a Stanley who can't disobey at all… because Stanley can't do anything without a human will behind him. The Narrator is distraught and begs Stanley to do something to give the story meaning, but this is where the credits roll.
  • Irony:
    • The narrator's intended story is about how Stanley's life is being controlled by mysterious powers through screens and computer inputs.
    • You get the Freedom ending by obeying the narration. It's far from the only ironic thing in the game, but it's the most blatant one by far. It is also by far the most boring story you can get, but it's what the prima donna Narrator is always shooting for, his masterpiece, that nobody else can possibly appreciate.
    • The Real Person PSA says that if you ever meet someone who doesn't make sense, they're probably not a real person. Of course, it's fiction where everything usually makes sense, as real life is more complicated than fiction.
    • The red door that the narrator insists up to three times that Stanley goes through results in him having a Despair Event Horizon and having his happy ending stripped away, while the blue door just annoys him and ends with him having the last word.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: During the area in Ultra Deluxe where you and the narrator look at Steam reviews of the original game, one particularly scathing review calls the narrator “obnoxious and unfunny” and claims that his dialog is more irritating than entertaining. More than anything else, the narrator is livid at the “unfunny” part, claiming that he wasn’t trying to be funny.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In the Ultra Deluxe version of the "Escape Pod" ending involving the Reassurance Bucket, Stanley places the Bucket inside of the pod and caresses it tenderly, stepping back and letting it take off without him; he's immediately dumped into a reset, but the Epilogue shows that the launch was successful, with the Bucket returning to him.
  • Jump Scare: There are several in the HD Remake:
    • The sudden loud buzzing alarm sound accompanying the hard reset during the finale of the Confusion ending can serve as this. Bonus points goes to the fact that the Narrator gets cut off mid-sentence when it happens.
    • The loud sound and sudden screen shaking that occurs when the game is "turning off" during the broken game branch of the Real Person ending can also startle some.
    • And if you attempt to flee during the Phone ending, a brick wall suddenly comes up in front of you without warning.
    Narrator: Sorry, but you're in my story now.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the sting that plays when you enter the boss's room the second time in the "Elevator Ending" might make some players jump.
  • Kafka Komedy: The game uses a faceless bureaucratic aesthetic as a metaphor to hammer home the point about all choices you make being illusory, and treats Stanley as a Butt-Monkey whether or not he obeys or goes Off the Rails.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence:
    • In the Museum ending, when Stanley dies, the second Narrator's lines cut off before she finishes. Also, the countdown finishes just before the Narrator can finish his speech in the Countdown Ending.
    • The narrator is cut off by an abrupt hard-reset that concludes the Confusion ending.
  • Law of Conservation of Detail: Deconstructed. There is a broom closet at one point. There's nothing to do in it, save listening to the Narrator repeatedly beg to know why the heck you're standing in a broom closet doing nothing.
  • Leitmotif:
  • Letting the Air out of the Band: In the Games ending, this happens to the music when the "baby" reaches the fire.
  • Literal Metaphor: In the Ultra Deluxe Bucket variant of the Insane ending, Stanley goes crazy upon thinking he's lost his bucket, before realizing "it was inside of him all along"...and then the pain of having a metal bucket inside of his body causes him to pass out.
  • Logging onto the Fourth Wall: In Ultra Deluxe, the QR code at the merch stand at The Stanley Parable 2 expo takes the user to a real website for The Stanley Parable 2, which includes a video pondering the concept of sequels.
  • Long List: The demo has a list of side effects of playing the game that may occur. The list takes up twelve screens.
  • Longer-Than-Life Sentence: The first time you cheat gets you placed in the Serious Room for one hundred billion trillion years.
  • Long Song, Short Scene: In Ultra Deluxe, "C'est la Chanson sur La Mémory Zone" is one of the few lyrical tracks in the game, with a length of 2:34. In-game, it plays in one short section in the Memory Zone that the player is likely to walk past in 10 seconds, at which point the track fades away.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: In the Phone ending, the Narrator claims that the game is Stanley's own version of this.
    Narrator: It was such a wonderful fantasy, and so in his head, he relived it again, and then again, and again, over and over, wishing beyond hope that it would never end, that he would always feel this free. Surely there's an answer down some new path - mustn't there be? Perhaps if he played just one more time. But there is no answer. How could there possibly be? In reality, all he's doing is pushing the same buttons he always has. Nothing has changed. The longer he spends here the more invested he gets, the more he forgets which life is the real one. And I'm trying to tell him this: that in this world he can never be anything but an observer. That as long as he remains here he's slowly killing himself.
  • Mad Lib Thriller Title:
    • The title of the game.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the player gets to make their own sequel titles using this format.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • In the Skip Button ending of Ultra Deluxe, “the end is never the end is never” serves as one for the Narrator at one point. The dialogue loops, so he continues saying it until the player presses the skip button again.
    • There are some other points where the Narrator will start repeating the same phrase at the end of two endings: The Pawn ending and any futile attempt to redo the Countdown ending.
  • Metafiction: The game is a deconstruction of how players will intentionally attempt to subvert given directions in order to find any possible hidden endings or Easter Eggs.
  • Mind Control: Stanley's boss has been keeping a machine that controls the emotions of his workers.
  • Mind Screw:
    • The game preys on the psychology, training, and paranoia of gamers, and then does it six times over with the different endings (eighteen times in the full game), each poking a different gaming nerve, and doing a bang-up job with it.
    • The Insane ending has the Narrator become self-aware and describe himself. Even before that, describe the limitations of the game (such as Stanley not being able to see his feet or why doors automatically close).
    • The Confusion ending lists eight possible restarts, with "Find the Confusion Ending Schedule" listed before the fifth restart — the exact time and place the player finds it. Even though the Narrator doesn't reset the game like the schedule says to, it eventually does reset, and, as the next bullet point says, the Narrator has forgotten all about that (as he usually forgets about things when the game resets after an ending has played out.) At this point, choosing the right door and looking through the first window on the right shows the Adventure Line appearing once again — just as described under "Sixth Restart" — but with no way to get to it.
    • The narrator's dialogue generally remains the same after every restart, with the Narrator parroting the same line regarding Stanley's coworkers. However, there is always a small chance that he will say something completely different, often catching repeat players off-guard.
  • Mind Screwdriver: Deliberately invoked when, in the HD Remix, the Narrator boasts that he's always there to neatly tie up a story at the end and give everyone a happy, understandable ending.
  • Mirror Character: Stanley and the Narrator. Both crave control over the story, neither one realizing that they're both slaves to it.
    Narrator: I don't make the rules, I simply play to my intended purpose, the same as Stanley. We're not so different, I suppose.
  • Minimalist Cast:
    • Just Stanley and the Narrator. Except for two endings, one which introduces a second narrator, and another which gives us the perspective of a young woman who happens upon Stanley's dead body.
    • Ultra Deluxe adds two more: the voice in the Bucket version of the Vent ending, and the Settings Person that asks you to set the time whenever you boot up the game. Whether or not the Bucket also counts is debatable.
  • Missing Secret: Invoked in the demo. One of the labeled doors in the workspace is on a fenced-off impossible-to-reach platform, and its label reads "out of order" in red letters.
  • Mood Whiplash: Some of the endings are hilarious, while others are rather depressing. Playing one right after the other can lead to this feeling, especially in the HD Remix.
  • Moving the Goalposts: The Narrator does this when you try to do the 430 achievement. It tells you to click on the door of Room 430 five times. When you do it, the Narrator says it's not enough effort for an achievement and starts making up more and more elaborate tasks before you finally get the achievement.
  • Multiple Endings: Practically the whole point of the game, to the point that three of them illustrate the trope page. There are more than twenty different endings scripted, counting the straightforward ones, and the almost impossible ones. Check 'em all out over here.
  • Mysterious Stranger: Sometimes Stanley isn't actually alone in his office, as in the beginning of the game, you sometimes happen to see this guy walking down the hallway on the other side of door 425. As his model is actually the same model as Stanley's, it's implied that this is actually Stanley on a different route of the game - possibly the Confusion route, as you do proceed down this hallway at one point during that ending.
  • Mythology Gag: One of the lines from the mod that didn't make it through to the HD Remix was the Narrator talking about night sharks, before pointing out rather huffily that all you want to hear is things about yourself. In the HD Remix's Narrative Contradiction Ending, the voice-operated code to activate the secret door in the Boss' office is "Night shark 1-1-5".
  • Narrator: One of few games to have one during gameplay rather than cutscenes, the narrator narrates the action, sometimes before it occurs, assuming you will follow the story he says he laid out for you. Disobeying the narrator and forcing him to change his narrative is part of the appeal.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The trailers show room layouts that don't appear in the main game, such as the dead end at the bottom of the staircase in the "Let's Play" trailer note . The "Raphael" trailer takes this to full extremes, showing an entirely different game instead called Raphael Presents: The Stanley Parable, by Raphael (although made-up).
    • In addition, the "Raphael" trailer and demo promised "emotion booths", with the Narrator in the demo stating to the player that he has to save a few for the full game. None of them show up in the main game itself.
  • Ninja Zombie Pirate Robot: In the Raphael trailer, the narrator says that Stanley is now the ghost of a dream of memory of a cyborg samurai.
  • Nobody Poops: The devs jokingly(?) suggest that reason for the lack of toilets (except for the executive bathroom) at Stanley's office is because employees use the open window instead.
  • No Fair Cheating:
    • Attempting to activate sv_cheats in the console sends you away into a Serious Room where the Narrator locks you away for one hundred billion trillion years. Do it again, and he increases your sentence to infinity years note . It is possible to cheat without being sent to the Serious Room, but it requires you to put all of the game content into another file, so it's a smart idea to backup the content first, just in case. The demo, on the other hand, just asks "Why????".
    • At first glance, the baby game seems like it would be very easy to cheat by using an auto-clicker to repeatedly press the button and keep the baby from crawling into the fire. But play it for long enough, and the Narrator introduces a twist in the game: a second button that prevents a puppy from being dunked into a pool of piranhas. While still susceptible to macro inputs, setting such up is severely more complicated.
  • No Fourth Wall:
    • In-universe, the Narrator will speak more and more directly to Stanley if Stanley deviates from the Narrator's intended story.
    • Used in the Broom Closet ending. The Narrator addresses the player, not Stanley, and suggests that you may have died as you haven't moved out of the broom closet. He then asks for another player to join the game, lampshading the use of the game's tropes. And then, he assumes the now second player is a dumbass if you choose to return to the broom closet.
  • Noodle Incident: Everything surrounding Employee 432. He is discussed on a whiteboard in the meeting room, gets special mention in a list of procedures in the Monitor Room, has an entire room of peer reviews for him in the Confusion Ending, has a cabinet of pencil sharpeners past the cargo lift, has multiple offices in the Escape Pod ending, and gets a mention as a character (next to Stanley) in the Collector's Edition manual.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The Broom Closet "Ending" is actually not an ending at all, since you're free to return to the story when you're done messing around with it.
  • No Points for Neutrality: In the original game, the two endings with positive outcomes come from either doing everything the Narrator says or disobeying him at every opportunity. Doing anything in between will lead to an ending that results in your death.
  • Non-Standard Game Over: In the Portal test chamber, much like in the actual chamber in the original game, it's possible to trap yourself permanently. The narrator acknowledges that you trapped yourself and will never let you out.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Prior to the creation of The Stanley Parable 2, the narrator is not impressed with the additions to Ultra Deluxe, to the point he creates his own Memory Zone to remember how perfect the original game was... only to run into several negative reviews, making him question his perception.
  • Nostalgia Level:
    • At the end of the Video Games ending, you're briefly sent into a low-res version of the original mod's first few maps.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the Memory Zone is all about the narrator reliving the HD Remix and talking about how much better it was then.
  • Nothing Is Scarier:
    • The fact that there's literally no one else in the building except for Stanley is quite unsettling, to say the least.
    • In the Escape Pod ending, the Narrator is cut off mid-sentence, and you're left on your own. Walking about without the Narrator commentating makes the hallways seem even emptier than before.
    • In the Ultra Deluxe Skip Button ending, Stanley presses the skip button so many times that the narrator eventually goes mad from sitting in total isolation while Stanley was frozen, repeating the game's signature phrase of "The End Is Never The End" over and over again. When Stanley presses the button again after this, the narrator disappears altogether, leaving Stanley completely alone in a dark, windowless, doorless room that steadily desiccates with the passage of time. After Stanley presses the button a few more times, the office's smoke alarm goes off seemingly at random, which smoke alarms do after they're about to run out of batteries, something that generally takes around 9 years to happen. Pressing the button several more times after this, players get a Hope Spot of tranquility as peaceful music and the sounds of birds can be heard over green, sunlit shrubbery, presumably long after the extinction of humanity has allowed nature to reclaim the world. Then things get scary. Pressing the button again, the world is now enveloped by complete darkness, with no life evident. Then it happens - you hear something through the lightless ruins of the concaved ceiling, in the unseeable blackness: eerie screeches like the screams of a terrible nightmare, and there is no indication of what it is. It is only when Stanley presses the button one final time that the world has daylight again, and he is able to leave the office building ruins into a sunlit desert. What exactly happened to the earth up to this point, and where those sounds came from, is entirely left up to interpretation.
  • Not His Sled: The HD remake changes up a number of things from the original mod, most notably the keycode behind your boss' desk (2845 instead of 1957) as well as the parameters for getting the "trapped in another game" ending, including which games you're sent to.
  • No Name Given: The Narrator.
  • No True Scotsman: A particularly odd variant: the Real Person PSA insists that the real world makes sense, and anyone from the real world who does not make sense is probably not a real person.
  • Nuke 'em: The inevitable outcome of the Countdown ending.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: After the epilogue in the Ultra Deluxe version, you're given the option to, every time you boot up the game, retitle it. The sequel number of the game goes up by one with each iteration, while the player can create a subtitle by putting together two fragments.
  • Oddly Specific Greeting Card: A variant with balloons: when assembling The Stanley Parable 2 in Ultra Deluxe, the Narrator asks the player which sort of balloons should decorate the office in the sequel. The options are one with the words "Get Well Someday", and another with "Happy 12th Birthday Step-Niece".
  • Off the Rails: Electing to do the precise opposite of what the Narrator says you will do causes him to get more and more upset. Going off the rails too much makes him snap, and he may quit or pull a Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. Heck, half the fun in this game is finding new and interesting ways to go Off the Rails.
    Narrator: Stanley was fat and ugly and really really stupid. He probably only got the job through some sort of family connection, that's how stupid he is. That, or drug money. Also, Stanley is addicted to drugs and hookers.
  • Oh, Crap!: Some of the voiceovers can be startling, the measured tones only making things worse.
    Narrator: Stanley decided to punish himself.
  • Ominous Multiple Screens: Exaggerated. The Mind Control room is filled with what looks like a thousand monitors used for the purpose of staff surveillance.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: In the Real Person ending, the entire game world goes nuts as a result of a "narrative contradiction". The Phone Room, the Two Door Room, and the Meeting Room will be turned into a twisted and utterly bizarre amalgamation of models and textures.
  • Ontological Mystery:
    • The start of the Narrator's story comes from trying to find where Stanley's co-workers had gone.
    • Some of the endings (particularly in the HD Remix) form one. In particular, the Confusion ending ends with a rather blatant one.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In Ultra Deluxe, after you've gotten the requirements needed to get the broken test achievement, the Narrator is surprised and confused about how you got it, and starts showing genuine fear about someone else watching him and Stanley.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • The Confusion ending forces you to restart several times, just to end uncovering a spoiler, getting lost, following a line that uncovers a spoiler, et cetera.
    • The Window ending, if you go through with it the whole way, forces you to sit in a room outside of the map, with nothing to do but listen to the narrator talk (and sing).
  • "Pan Up to the Sky" Ending: In the Freedom ending, the camera pans up to the sky and fades to white while the narrator concludes "... and Stanley was happy.".
  • Paradiegetic Gameplay: One of the achievements requires you to not play the game for five years. Another requires you to leave the game on all day on a Tuesday.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: The Narrator is the most passive-aggressive observer since GLaDOS and backs it up with absolute power over the world.
  • Pensieve Flashback: Near the end of the demo, the Narrator reminisces about the previous events, and whenever he mentions one, the player is briefly teleported to that location and can move around before eventually being brought back.
  • Permanent Placeholder: In-Universe example; going too far off the narrative path puts you into several scenarios where the game assets are unfinished.
  • The Computer Is a Lying Bastard: There isn't a way to solve what appears to be a Timed Mission puzzle in the Countdown ending. The Narrator all well knows that players will press buttons in hopes of finding a way to stop the bomb, which is an exercise in futility.
  • Parody Assistance:
    • In the Games ending, the original creators of each game used (Minecraft and Portal in the HD Remix; Firewatch and Rocket League in Ultra Deluxe) gave the developers permission to use their assets to perfectly recreate each respective game.
    • In a meta example, the Narrator, Kevan Brighting, is often happy to lend his voice to any Stanley Parable-related mod or fan video.
  • Pokémon Speak: In the shout-out to the Raphael trailer, a certain cheat code-named after the titular Raphael will reduce the Narrator's voice to variations of Stanley's name.
  • Postmodernism: The game deconstructs and lampshades plenty of video game and narrative tropes by pointing them out as it uses them.
  • Prequel: The demo acts as this, as it's a very linear experience that causes the Narrator to desire a game about choices.
  • Press Start to Game Over: One of the endings is achieved simply by Stanley closing the door to his office and thus refusing to leave right at the start.
  • Press X to Die: The Phone ending explicitly requires you to press a button to die before the game will restart.
  • Product Placement:
  • Rage Against the Author: The HD remix has a few endings where Stanley gets to stick it to the Narrator — and it's made clear the Narrator doesn't have as much power as he thinks he does over the player or Stanley.
  • Railroading:
    • The Narrator makes sure to nudge Stanley in the proper direction if he dawdles in a room a bit too long. Aggressively so.
    • On the Real Person path, the Narrator realizes that the player is pulling the strings, whereas he'd made the mistake of designing the game for Stanley the character. After that, everything you could do before going off the rails is locked down except one choice which ends up being a mistake.
  • Rainbow Speak: Part of the subtitles will change to red if you wait long enough to type in the password (2845) in the boss's office, thus annoying the Narrator. This will also occur in the path where you fall off the lift if you persistently defy the narrator's demand that you walk through the RED door, and in the Real Person ending when the Narrator is agitated with your refusal to say the password for a voice receiver (Nightshark-115).
  • Real Fake Door: It can happen that you come across a door behind which you find a brick wall.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • After the player ends up ruining the Narrator's entire game because of the "narrative contradictions", he completely loses his cool and proceeds to go off on a huge rant about how the player will never measure up to Stanley.
      Narrator: (if the player takes the left door first and doesn't speak the passcode) Okay, fine, you're not gonna do it. But, you know what? It's pretty humiliating to bring you this far, only for you to suddenly decide you have better things to do. I asked you for this one single thing—for your respect! The kind of respect Stanley shows for his choices—he knows what it means to take a story seriously! If you didn't want to see what I had to show you, then why did you come here?! You had a choice, you know, you could have gone through the door on the right. You could have done whatever the hell you wanted over there! Why did you come this way?! SPEAK! SAY SOMETHING TO ME, EXPLAIN YOURSELF! YOU COWARD, YOU—(cut off mid-sentence)
      Narrator: (if the player takes the right door first and the Narrator ends up restarting the game because of it) Woooh, I'm here... I'm still here, here in this pile of rubbish, with you... Youuuu, who thought you were so clever. Now, look where we are. My entire game is destroyed. It was the only thing in the world that was mine, and you've run it into the ground. What, did you think that it would be funny? You just had to see? Didn't I tell you how important it was to be like Stanley? He actually knows to do what I tell him to—he understands that if I say to do something, there's a damn good reason for it! That thought hadn't even occurred to you, had it? That there's a world outside of you? You're a child. ...Ooooh, my story. If you just gone through the door on the left, you would have seen it, it was a whole underground facility. You would have destroyed it and been victorious. It would have been so perfect, I worked so hard on it, I tried so hard to ma—(cut off mid-sentence)
    • The Narrator is very fond of these in his more villainous routes - he gives a rather scathing one to Stanley - and by extension, the player - in the Apartment ending.
  • Red Herring:
    • The fern in the Confusion ending that the Narrator tells you will be very important later. Played for Laughs, of course.
    • Everything in the Countdown Room in the Countdown ending which seems like it can stop the explosion does nothing. The emergency exit door is closed by the narrator if you try to go through it (and it doesn't lead anywhere even if you cheat to get through it), the failsafe button doesn't work, none of the deactivation code combinations are accepted, the voltage control console simply makes sparks, and none of the other buttons do anything meaningful.
  • Refusal of the Call:
    • In the HD Remix, you have the option to simply close the door, which will prompt the narrator to criticize you and the game to restart.
    • A literal example when the Narrator locks Stanley inside a room, stuck with only a ringing phone the Narrator insists you must answer. You can actually unplug the phone, refusing the call and confounding the Narrator.
  • Replay Value: As of an update, after progressing far enough in the game, the boss's bathroom will now have three pictures stuck onto the mirror, and interacting with any of them will allow you to return to parts of the game that were originally one playthrough allowed only (specifically the New Content Ending, the Skip Button Ending and the Eight Game). However, you can't bring the bucket to either of the latter two.
  • Reset Button Ending: Nearly every ending, once completed, will send you back to the start of the story. This is played with in the Confusion Ending where the ending continues for around four restarts before ending for good. The Narrator also seems to be aware of the game resetting as well.
  • Revealing Continuity Lapse: In the "Confusion" ending, the setting keeps changing in such a way that confounds the Narrator and makes it impossible for Stanley and the player to continue the story. From new doors being added, to doors disappearing, to the office taking on some Alien Geometries.
  • Reviews Are the Gospel: Invoked in Ultra Deluxe. In the Memory Space, the Narrator has a tranquil area where positive reviews and awards for the original release of The Stanley Parable are kept, including from James Stephanie Sterling. However, upon leaving the tranquility, there are numerous Steam reviews that bash the game as boring, which the Narrator takes personal offense to, yet acquiesces that there may be a point to them. In fact, he becomes so fixated on the negative reviews that he can't think of anything else, causing him to create the skip button and directly leading to his undoing. See And I Must Scream above.
  • Running Gag: Stanley dies an awful lot during the course of this otherwise perfectly non-violent game. Whenever he doesn't outright die, it's instead stated that he's going to.

    S - Z 
  • Sarcasm Mode: The Narrator devolves into this numerous times as he gets fed up with Stanley's various antics in derailing the game. This gets turned up to 11 in the Elevator ending. This is triggered if Stanley repeatedly rides the secret elevator up and down, with the Narrator getting increasingly impatient with him for doing something so stupid and pointless when he should just be following the obvious path forward. After several repetitions the Narrator decides to lead Stanley to a press conference where he will give a talk on innovation and creativity in storytelling since he's such a genius disruptor to the status quo. The backstage section Stanley must walk through is incredibly lavish, with posters advertising Stanley's speech alongside ads for events featuring other monumental figures such as the man who invented pizza, Alexander the Great, and the World Peace Baby. There are also notes from Stanley's boss and coworkers in his dressing room area congratulating him on his achievements, as well as a copy of a book apparently written by Stanley called Up Again, Down Again. It ends with Stanley stepping out onto a huge stage to the massive cheers of thousands of his fans.
  • Say My Name: Parodied in Ultra Deluxe. For The Stanley Parable 2, the Narrator devises a button that will say the name of the player once pressed in order to increase immersion; however, for the SP2 Expo, the button only says the name "Jim". One of the many buttons in the Epilogue can say "Stanley", however.
  • Schmuck Bait: The entire game. The Narrator tells you exactly where to go for the safest and least insane ending, but choosing to do everything else is just... so... tempting. This "everything else" includes such gems as deliberately jumping off a cargo lift, randomly standing in a broom closet for a long time when the Narrator says there's nothing there, unplugging a telephone instead of answering it, turning on the facility instead of turning it off, and continuing to go down a path which the Narrator repeatedly tells you will lead to Stanley's violent death.
  • Schrödinger's Gun:
    • Certain questions, such as the Narrator's thoughts on Stanley, whether the player and Stanley are intended to be the same being, whether the Narrator remembers previous playthroughs or not, how in control the Narrator truly is, the Narrator's awareness of the 4th wall, and whether the Narrator is a good guy or a bad guy all have different answers depending on which ending you get or what actions you take getting there.
    • Notably, one of the endings where the Narrator does remember other endings, the Phone ending, directly references the Confusion ending, which is one where he doesn't.
  • The Scrappy: Invoked and Parodied with the Bucket in one of the endings. One route has the Narrator bemoan how the Bucket has taken up so much focus compared to the non-sequel "characters", such as the broom closet or the adventure line, and that fans "want more of their favorite jokes, not this bucket that they've never seen before" from a sequel. It gets to the point where the Narrator invents an entire new character, the Bucket Destroyer, whose sole purpose is to kill the bucket.
  • Sealed Room in the Middle of Nowhere: In Ultra Deluxe, the Skip Button ending turns into one of these after a few skips when the exit mysteriously disappears, and the rest of the facility erodes over time to become an inhospitable desert. Stanley manages to get escape by skipping time enough for the walls of the room to deteriorate.
  • Self-Contained Demo: In order to avoid spoiling the game itself, the creators of The Stanley Parable created a self-contained demo to promote it. The entirely original level contains the Narrator leading you through a tour of what is supposed to lead up to the Stanley Parable demo, but ends up becoming a surrealist nightmare. They even sent special editions of this demo to Let's Players Steam Train and Revision3 containing bits of dialogue directly addressed to them.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • The release trailer for the Ultra Deluxe edition has the Narrator make a PowerPoint presentation on the game. He proceeds to very quickly skip over several slides detailing both the praise the game got from reviewers and academics alike for being a stellar example of interactive story-telling, as well as others about the hard work and many man-hours that went into developing the game, summarily dismissing them with a scoffing: "I don't have time for all of this! Who wrote all of these slides? Who even cares about the game's development?"
    • As of the Anniversary Update to the game, getting the Coward ending while holding the bucket has the Narrator remark that Stanley doesn't consider the Bucket ending variations a true sequel, and just decides to stay in his office until a true sequel is released.
      ""It's nothing but swapped out dialogue describing a bucket!" he screamed to himself. "It's not nearly enough to be considered a sequel!""
    • The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe - Ultimate Collector's Edition Trailer presents a collector's editioninvoked of the game. It also is loaded with hyperbolic/ridiculous reasons to buy it — digital media somehow "dying" and being all viruses, or FOMO/insecurity over not owning "a gluttonous excess of physical products" — in a way that sounds like it's lampooning the concept of collector's editions in general.
  • Sequelitis: Invoked in Ultra Deluxe with its New Content area, in which the Narrator gets frustrated over the fact that the new content seems incredibly rushed, with its excessive elevators and only adding in the jump circle.
  • Sequel Snark: After the Settings Person unlocks the ability for you to generate new sequels screens, you're given the option to make up your own sequel name. The Settings Person remarks how absurd some of these titles are.
  • Sequence Breaking: Parodied in one of the paths which takes you to the monitor room out of order in the narrative, causing the Narrator to fret that you weren't supposed to discover that yet. As the game encourages defiance of the narrative, little true sequence breaking is possible.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The Museum and Real Person endings both indicate that the only way to really defeat the Narrator is to stop playing the game.
  • Ship Tease: With Stanley and the Narrator on two occasions.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Silliness Switch: In Ultra Deluxe, The Stanley Parable Reassurance Bucket does this for many of the endings in the game. Whereas some vanilla endings like Real Person, Countdown, and Museum may have a creepy, serious, or tragic tone, the Bucket version of that ending is silly and absurd. The reverse happens for the Window and Bottom of the Mind Control Facility endings, which the bucket makes significantly more serious.
  • Sinister Surveillance: The Mind Control Facility has a TV screen that shows each room in the building.
  • Sliding Scale of Fourth Wall Hardness:
    • At first, the Narrator will talk about Stanley in the third person from an omniscient viewpoint, until you start to derail the story. Then, he'll start talking to Stanley as he's reminding him of his lines, and after that, he starts talking to the player.
    • If you get the Freedom ending straight, the fourth wall is almost completely solid, except for one bit where the player must use knowledge that the character could never have known (and the Narrator points this out).
    • The Insane ending merely leans on it.
    • Doing nearly anything else will cause the Narrator to talk to Stanley and/or acknowledge the story as an entity.
    • In places such as the Games ending, the employee lounge (if you wait long enough), and the Countdown ending, he will go a step further and acknowledge that Stanley is in a video game or suggest that Stanley is playing a video game about himself.
    • Then there are at least two places where the narrator acknowledges there's a person playing the game other than Stanley and talks directly to the audience (the broom closet, as well as the Real Person ending).
    • The Museum ending takes it even further with a second narrator that talks about the first Narrator being a fictional character at the mercy of the game as well (with the Confusion ending in the HD Remix having him forced to confront this).
    • The New Content and New New Content endings in Ultra Deluxe revolve around the Narrator recognizing and reacting to The Stanley Parable as a video game, including criticizing the game's dev team for the lack of new content and taking feedback from a negative Steam review. It's never to the point where he's aware of the player or himself as an in-game character, however.
  • Smash to Black: The ''Museum" ending has Stanley literally getting smashed by a compactor before the screen goes black.
  • Snicket Warning Label: The Museum ending. First the hallway itself, since the Narrator repeatedly warns you that the only place it leads is your death, and secondly when you're trapped in the conveyor with the machine about to crush you and the second narrator urges you to turn the game off before that can happen. Another few endings explicitly state that the only way to 'win' the ending is to quit the game.
  • Soul-Crushing Desk Job: Zig-zagged. The game starts with Stanley sitting in a tiny office and typing whatever appears on his computer screen, but the Narrator specifically states that Stanley is happy with his boring job. However, some of the endings can provide explanations for this such as the Freedom Ending, which reveals that Stanley was under mind control, or the Apartment Ending, which has the entire plot about his co-workers disappearing be all just an escapist fantasy of Stanley's.
  • Speed Run Reward: One of the Steam achievements is actually called "Speed Run". To get the achievement, the player will need to keep progressing in the game faster and faster- by submitting the code to the office elevator before the Narrator can say it and doing the ending enough times for him to automatically open the elevator door, and jump to the platforms instead of waiting for them, you can rush the story fast enough to complete the Speed Run. This only applies to the "Freedom Ending", as it's the "real" story of the game.
  • Standard Office Setting: It is set in what seems like a standard office building, with Stanley (the player character) being a normal office worker spending his workdays in a cubicle in room 427 - all meant to emphasize the monotony of his life. However, this setting can very easily go into Wonderland territories in some of the game's endings.
  • Stealth Pun: The Stanley Parable Adventure Line™ is a literal plot line.
  • Story Branching: Every choice you make can result in the story taking a completely different, unexpected turn.
  • Stupidity Is the Only Option: Should the player pick up the phone, unplug the phone, or enter the red door, the only way to get to an ending is to go against the Narrator's wishes. Not doing so doesn't further the story.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • In the demo, the Narrator takes the player through a tour of game design, showing faults in each room that aren't intended to be in the full game—and of course, each of these faults had to be intentionally implemented.
    • The Narrator's "intended" story, as showcased in the Freedom ending. Though technically well-presented, the plot on display is a total mess—not only is it uninteresting from a gameplay and design perspective (since it's basically a straight line), but as a story, it has Stanley apparently figure out a problem by sheer luck, breaks its own moral with no apparent self-awareness, spends most of its time essentially telling the player how they should be feeling right now, and completely forgets about the initial plot hook of all Stanley's coworkers disappearing.
    • The Games ending has you play a mini-game the Narrator created himself, in which you must repeatedly press a button to keep a stock image of a baby from going into a fire. Terrible enough on its own, and that's not even getting into the obnoxious buzzing sound the button makes and the crying of the baby. Oh, and the Narrator tells you to play this for four hours straight. If you decide you had enough and purposely lose, the Narrator will ask you if you hate babies and then angrily switch to much better games.
    • In the Ultra Deluxe version, partway through the Figley/Stanlurine ending, the Narrator will show you a very low-quality Windows Movie Maker video he made of the fifth Stanley figurine you collected, whichever one that was.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: In Ultra Deluxe, the Narrator insists that collecting all of the Figlureanlurines has no effect on the game besides a job well done. In fact, collecting all of the Stiggley-Wiggleys is a necessary prerequisite to unlocking the Epilogue.
  • Take That!:
    • There's a series of videos from the developers, each narrated by the… well, narrator. This one is a scathing response to a smarmy, know-it-all misogynist who completely missed the point of the game, and asked for more options. The Narrator proceeds to mock him by talking of a very open-world game where you could literally do anything (like infusing a bike with the soul of your dead uncle and using it to detect mineral deposits), except you can't, because video games are meant to be linear by design, in a flippant reversion of the game's commentary of games being limited by their stories and creators. Then, just to annoy the know-it-all, he takes the complaint that he repeated Stanley's name a lot and ends the video repeating it constantly. The trailer also showed off DRM that deleted your files at random, in a pisstake of various then-recent DRM controversies.
    • This trailer seems to be a jab at Let's Plays, but it's presumably lighthearted.
    • The devs sent out two customized versions of the standalone's demo, one to GameGrumps (where, among other lines, the Narrator yells out "Goddammnit Ross!" (one of the Grumps playing, and the line is a Running Gag whenever Ross is playing with other Grumps) when they enter the glitched demonstration floor) and another to Adam Sessler of Revision 3 (where one of the compliments compares Adam's charm to his baldness).
    • The Countdown ending seems to be a jab at the final battle from Portal, where you had to figure out how to defeat GlaDOS within a limited time frame.
    • There's also a Take That! to Karma Meters in the HD Remix when a hypothetical choice is given to dedicate one's life to helping orphans in impoverished third-world nations, or set fire to every orphan in a 30-mile radius from one's house.
    • The baby game, which requires you to regularly press a button to stop a cutout of a baby from being sent to a fire for four hours straight and accuses you of being a "heartless bastard" if you fail, is a jab at games with You Bastard! messages like Spec Ops: The Line and OFF - the smarmy narrator forces the player to do what it's accusing them of and then insults you for it, despite being responsible for it in the first place.
    • The "NEW CONTENT" in Ultra Deluxe being behind a random new door Stanley has to go through instead of being more integrated into the main game is a jab at how common it is to segregate new content in remakes/rereleases from the main story. Once the game becomes The Stanley Parable 2, however, the Figleys and Reassurance Bucket do not have this issue.
  • Take That, Audience!:
    • The scoreboard in the Games ending mocks the player for their spectacular inability to play the game like the Narrator wants them to. Not only are you ranked dead last out of 9328 players (including a dead rat and Adolf Hitler), but the board also informs you only "the worst 3% of players chose the blue door" required to get the Video Game ending, and that 98.9% percent of players are more attractive than you.
    • The "Delay" trailer mocks angry gamer outrage over delays by having the narrator sarcastically read almost-certainly-fake letters of gamers begging the developers to take their time and not ruin the game.
  • Take That, Critics!: The Raphael trailer is a response to a negative e-mail from the titular Raphael complaining about the game (mainly by missing the entire point of it).
  • That One Achievement:
    • Invoked and parodied. The game includes Go Outside, which requires the player to not play The Stanley Parable for 5 years, and Unachievable, which periodically gets changed by the game developer once people figure out how to get it (and which also is randomized — you only get it by fulfilling the conditions of getting it about one time in 15, meaning that it is hard to tell what, exactly, you did to earn it). 8888888 is easier, but the description is just 88888888 so good luck figuring that out. "Commitment" is similar, requiring you to play the game for 24 hours on a Tuesday; unlike Unachievable and Go Outside, which can be cheated in various ways, cheating this one requires a complicated meta work-around involving editing the clock on your BIOS after suspending your computer while the game is running if you want to avoid having to leave the game open literally all day. And then there's an achievement called "Achievement" with the description of "This is an achievement". You get it simply by triggering an option in the Extras menu.
    • The Ultra Deluxe edition not only reuses the Commitment achievement from the original, it's upgraded Go Outside to Super Go Outside and extended the wait time to ten years. There's also "Settings World Champion", which requires adjusting every single slider in the Options menu to every possible value, and "Test achievement please ignore", which requires unlocking and completing the Epilogue, then replaying the Sequel ending now that the Settings Person has fixed the achievement-granting machine.
  • Theory of Narrative Causality: Discussed. The entire plot is kicked off by Stanley realizing that his coworkers had vanished. The reason for this is only explained in the Countdown ending: The Narrator erased them from the world in order to kick off the plot.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In the trailer for the Ultra Deluxe edition of the game, the Narrator excitedly asks Stanley if it wouldn't be fun if he went ahead and expanded the story of the game by adding new choices and endings. Stanley immediately responds by shaking his head.
  • Timed Mission: Played with. Engaging the mind control device ticks off the Narrator and he starts a countdown to nuclear detonation. He then starts going on about how you're in a video game and how you're probably trying to frantically stop the timer by clicking on pointless buttons scattered around the room when in truth you cannot.
  • Title Drop: Barring meta instances where the Narrator is discussing the game itself, one is present in the Apartment ending, where he reveals that the story is Stanley's escapist fantasy:
    Narrator: As he wandered through this fantasy world, he began to fill it with many possible paths and destinations. Down one path lay an enormous round room with monitors and mind controls, and down another was a yellow Line™ that weaved in many directions, and down another was a game with a baby. And he called it... The Stanley Parable.
  • Toilet Humour: A few instances:
    • One of the mugs you can find in the game says "Who Farted?"
    • One of the locations for the Stanley figurines is in the Boss's personal bathroom. The whiteboard in the meeting room that gives hints for the locations of the figurines describes the location as "A private (but smelly) place for an important person".
  • Tradesnark™: At some point in the HD Remix, the Narrator has a yellow line show up to show you where to walk, which he calls The Stanley Parable Adventure Line™. From then on, he constantly refers to It™ as the Line™, even when he starts talking to the Line™ itself. After the Line™ turns out to lead you back towards where you ended up the first time, the Narrator tells you "just don't acknowledge It™, and we should be fine".
  • Trapped in TV Land: For some reason, the Narrator thinks this is the case for the player during the Real Person path and believes that resolving his story will send you back to the real world.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: In-universe. Your reward for completing the "save the baby" mini-game and getting the Art ending is the "essence of divine art", which is basically a meaningless poem.
  • Unable to Retreat:
    • In the Apartment Ending, the Narrator railroads you into participating by sealing you into a room with nothing but a ringing phone, leaving you with no choice but to answer it. In the event that you don't just unplug the phone, you'll be transported to Stanley's apartment, and if you try to leave by the outside corridor, the Narrator just conjures up a wall to block the exit.
      Narrator: Sorry, but you're in my story now.
    • In the Countdown Ending, trying to activate the mind control facility for yourself only results in the extremely petulant Narrator activating the facility's self-destruct system and sealing the exits, leaving you running from button to button in a futile attempt to save yourself before the timer runs out, as nothing in the room can stop the sequence or allow you to escape.
    • In The Stanley Parable: Ultra Deluxe, the Skip Button Ending inflicts this on the Narrator for a change. Having decided to create a skip button in order to stave off negative reviews, he lets you test it, only to find that the more you use the button, the more time passes before you return to reality... and due to factors beyond the Narrator's control, the door you entered through has vanished, leaving you with nothing else to do but to press the skip button over and over again, leaving the Narrator trapped alone for progressively longer periods of time until his mind finally snaps.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: The premise of the story is that Stanley suddenly notices all co-workers are gone from the office.
  • Unintentionally Unwinnable:
    • Heavily parodied in the Window ending, where the narrator will make fun of Stanley for thinking that breaking the map would be such a big deal for some reason:
      Narrator: So, now that you are here, what you think? Isn't this a fun and unique place to be? Why don't we take a minute just to drink it all in!
    • Happens in the original mod if you get off of the elevator between the time when you push the button and when the elevator doors close.
    • You can get stuck in the Portal room, just like the Portal game. Unlike in Portal, the Narrator chastises you for doing so, making it also (a rare case of) Unwinnable by Design.
    • During the "Real Person" ending, you can jump out of the moving platform before the door closes, at which point there's no way to continue the story - one of the few rare cases of when Developer's Foresight does not apply. You do get a chance to closely examine the ground level of the storage room though since the fall doesn't kill you this time. There is even music and a white void when you exit the one open door at the bottom of the loading dock.
      • You can do the same on the way back. You can also access the vent, but it doesn't go anywhere.
    • In the monitor room in the HD Remix, it's possible to step onto one of the desks and jump off into the abyss. In this version, the game had no programmed response for that, and you simply stand at the bottom with no way out. The Ultra Deluxe edition addresses this bug with its own 'ending', including dialogue and a secret music track.
    • During the Freedom ending, it's possible to fall off the catwalk right before heading outside, leaving you trapped in a dark void with no other option but to reset. Granted, if you do it during the Countdown ending, it won't change a thing.
    • At the beginning, if you go through the right door during the Big First Choice moment, then try to get the Escape Pod ending later on, the door back to your office will lock and you'll be stuck.
    • If you trigger the conditions for the Escape Pod ending and then jump out of the window in the starting area, the narrator won't resume speaking to chew you out for it. However, the end result will be mostly the same: being stuck with no way out but restart the game. In Ultra Deluxe, this was fixed and the window is blocked now when you return to it.
    • If you go through the exit to the meeting room then quickly walk back in, the door will close and lock, trapping you inside and requiring a restart.
  • Unnaturally Looping Location: In the Insane ending, Stanley ends up in a series of rooms that continuously repeat as he walks through them, and where he spends the rest of the ending. Catching onto the impossible nature of everything that's happening, he becomes convinced that he's just dreaming, and tries to wake himself up...only for him to discover that this is Not A Dream and that he's really, truly, stuck in an endlessly looping hallway... and then he starts screaming for help.
  • Unwinnable Joke Game: What the Countdown ending boils down to.
  • Video Games and Fate: The game is a lengthy rumination upon free will and agency in interactive storytelling, and pokes fun at this concept a lot. To name but one example, one of the possible endings features Stanley discovering a mind-control device that has enslaved all of the employees of the company in which he works, and shutting it off - and this is the same ending in which the player mindlessly follows all of the Narrator's instructions to the letter.
  • Wham Shot:
    • Stanley opening his eyes in the HD Remix's Insane ending to find he hasn't woken up from his "dream". Coupled very effectively with a chilling example of Dissonant Serenity.
    Narrator: [calmly] Stanley began screaming.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the Epilogue takes you through a montage of Stanley presumably surviving in the endless desert following the Skip Button ending... before taking you to the destroyed, half-buried ruins of the Memory Zone. The moment is only made more effective by the eerie version of Stanley's main leitmotif that sneaks its way into the accompanying music.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Most of the endings, including the "Golden" one, give no answer to the very mystery that set the story off: what happened to everyone else in the building?
    • The mystery's addressed (to some extent, anyway) in the Countdown ending. The Narrator made them all vanish, simply to kick the story off. Of course, that's just what happened in that specific instance. The Narrator changes things up every time.
  • What the Hell, Player?: Most of the endings involve the narrator scolding the player for not following directions.
  • Workplace Horror: While the game is largely light-hearted and comedic, the premise is about the sole remaining employee in an office trying to figure out what happened to the rest of his coworkers, and the game can delve into some genuinely unnerving territory. The more Stanley explores his workplace, the more it is revealed that his workplace is an Eldritch Location, and it just goes from there.
  • World Limited to the Plot: When you repeatedly try to walk through the blue door, the Narrator eventually gets fed up and lets you through, showing you that nothing actually exists inside.
    Narrator: You see? There's nothing here. I haven't even finished building this section of the map because you were never supposed to be here in the first place.
  • Writing Around Trademarks: In Ultra Deluxe, during the visit to the Memory Zone in non-Steam versions of the game, Steam is instead referred to as "Pressurized Gas".
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • In the Zending, the narrator is finally calm and happy, only for Stanley to spitefully commit suicide to reset the game on him. Depending on player choices, he may go back between the rooms repeatedly to tease him, which he eventually lampshades.
    • In the Escape Pod ending, the game resets seconds before Stanley enters the pod, due to the narrator having abandoned him.
    • In the Apartment ending (and the lead-up to the Real Person ending), the narrator builds up Stanley getting to go home and be happy with his wife... only for it to be revealed his wife is a mannequin and the apartment was his office all along, as well as implying all of the exciting adventures throughout the rest of the game were all in his imagination.
    • In the Game Awards trailer for Ultra Deluxe, Stanley is visiting a travel website on a computer in one of the offices. Just as he's about to buy tickets for his dream vacation, the Narrator corners Stanley, drops him back into his office, and excitedly tells him about the new content he's going to put Stanley through, the poor man trying to escape all the while.
    • In Ultra Deluxe, the Bucket version of the Freedom ending sees Stanley being denied his escape because the building itself doesn't want him to leave with the Reassurance Bucket.
  • You Bastard!:
    • The "Let's Play" parody video turns into the Narrator taking a shot at the viewer for laughing at the fake LPer's increasing confusion, saying that the viewer is simply alone, and that he'll have great fun in making the viewer feel the LPer's pain. Strangely, the game itself can be seen as an assault on this sort of attitude from developers. In the HD remix's Pawn ending, wherein the Narrator exults, pompously, that he's the only one able to make Stanley see that his life is meaningless, dreary, that no one will actually like him, that he's doomed to only follow others, and that only the Narrator has the power to force him to understand that he's nothing - and that enlightenment is only possible through him.
    • In the Zending ending, after Stanley has damaged himself a couple of times, the Narrator breaks down when he realizes Stanley intends to force the game to reset.
      Narrator: Please, no, Stanley, let me stay here! Don’t take this from me!… My God, is this really how much you dislike my game? That you’ll throw yourself from this platform over and over to be rid of it? You’re literally willing to kill yourself to keep me from being happy?
    • If you let the baby die in the baby game in the HD Remix, the Narrator calls you out on it. This is also a mockery of You Bastard! games that chew the player out for playing a game that gives you a situation where the only option is to fail.
      Narrator: Did you do it because you hate babies, or purely to spite me?
  • You Shouldn't Know This Already: If you input the correct PIN in the boss's keypad (learned from a previous run of that scene) before the Narrator says it aloud, he'll berate Stanley for wanting to rush through the story and force him and the player to cool down with some new-age music before the passage opens. Further runs after doing this will see the Narrator open the passage automatically in frustration. If you have the bucket with you in Ultra Deluxe when doing so, the narrator won't mind, claiming that the bucket providing Stanley the answer is a satisfactory explanation.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Stanley Parable


Let the narrator talk!

Stanley annoys the Narrator by inputting the keypad code before the Narrator reveals it.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / YouShouldntKnowThisAlready

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