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Video Game / The Stanley Parable

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Stanley worked for a company in a big building
where he was employee number 427.

"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, 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. 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; this version will be available on consoles as well as PC, and will be released in 2021, "sometime probably before summer, but it sort of depends on the specifics of how game development goes".

It is prudent that you play the game before you read this page, as there are unmarked spoilers in this article. You have a choice in the matter, of course. Doesn't really matter though, in the end. The tropes are still here.

The reader then continued to scroll down, reading the following tropes.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: The Narrator is much nicer to you in the Demo than he is to Stanley in the game. Additionally, in the game, during many of the Mind Screw segments, he continues his narration while in complete control of the story, while in the Demo he’s just as confused as what’s going on as you are.
  • Adult Fear: Warning: you will question your own life while playing this game, and it's definitely one of the game's intentions to make you do so. Are you as confined as Stanley? Is everything determined, or do you make up your own story?
  • 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 to achieving effects of lucid dreaming. However, he cannot wake up, so he goes insane and dies.
  • The Aloner: Stanley is the only person left in the office building.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Narrator may or may not be evil depending on the ending. In some endings he's the Big Bad and in some he's a helpful if somewhat irritable ally.
  • 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.
  • 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 .
  • 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.
  • 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 HD Remake (Coward and Zending, respectively).
    • 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.
  • Ascended Meme: If you key in "8888" in the boss' office, it will make the same sound the infamous 8 button makes in the demo.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: In the Real Person ending, the Narrator gets what he wants, which is to remove the player's influence. But, without a player to influence him, Stanley can't do anything, and the Narrator doesn't seem to immediately understand why.
  • Big Bad: The Narrator is the constant, godlike entity who tries to force Stanley to follow his story and, in one ending, is revealed to have been the one who erased Stanley's coworkers. 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 Good: The second Narrator in the Museum ending. She cares about both the Narrator and Stanley and encourages the player to quit the game to save him. However, it's unclear if this is the case in every ending where she comes into play.
  • 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.
  • 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?!"
  • 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.
  • Blah Blah Blah: If the player follows the narrators 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 Phone 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.
  • Blatant Lies: If the player unplugs the phone after already playing through the Phone 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 Phone 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 killing him yet again.
  • 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.
  • Bowdlerize: An update to the HD remix changed the instructional video from Steve lighting a kid's cigarette to giving him a flower.
  • 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.
  • Break the Comedian: The Narrator provides a good deal of the humour in the game, responding to the players' attempts at rebellion with passive-aggressive sarcasm, barely-restrained irritation, acerbic wit, growing bewilderment, deeply inappropriate slideshows, and over-the-top music. However, a few endings deliberately set out to remove the humour from the equation, either by turning the Narrator into a more overtly villainous figure or by gradually turning him into as much of a pawn as Stanley. In the Real Person ending, after losing his temper at the player for refusing to obey his commands, the Narrator apparently manages to sever your control over Stanley and banish you to a spot outside the office... only to realize that without a player at the controls, Stanley can't do anything. Throughout the credits, the Narrator is pleading for Stanley to do something, anything to make the story progress, until he sounds on the verge of tears; in the end, he despairingly opts to give Stanley time to decide and falls completely silent.
  • 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.
    • 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!
  • British Stuffiness: The game wouldn't be as great without British VO Kevan Brighting's dry narration, particularly when you go against his story.
  • 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.
    • 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.)
  • Concealing Canvas: Discussed. At his boss' office, the narrator mentions that Stanley is looking everywhere for the safe's combination, even behind paintings.
  • Control Freak: The narrator only intends to have Stanley follow the story he sets out in the beginning, and he takes deviation unpleasantly and sometimes personally. Occasionally he turns into a Killer Game Master.
  • 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 Phone 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 Breakdown:
    • In-universe with the Narrator. He has spent a lot of time in designing the story, creating a complex story about Stanley being under control of some unknown force along with the rest of his coworkers. To have his work being destroyed by you causes him to breakdown and scream at you.
    • The Real Person Ending ups this tragedy. If you go through the right door instead of the left door, you unintentionally mess up the story. The Narrator yells at you for corrupting the story and attempts to salvage it by resetting the game, only to make it worse. However, even if you do follow through with his instructions, he still gets upset because you can't say the password.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 the core appeal of the game using the same style of humor and its own plot that is thematically similar to the game.
  • Delusions of Eloquence: For as highbrow as his narration is, the Narrator's story is rather basic and nonsensical (he even admits that he had to delete the other NPCs just to make it work) and he has some surprisingly simple pleasures, such as his glee at the "cup game" in the demo and being delighted at constructing the bare minimum of a shelter in Minecraft; his idea to improve it is just to replace the blocks with diamond.
  • Developers' 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.
  • 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.
  • Driven to Madness: Happens to Stanley in the Insane ending, when the Narrator decides that Stanley decides he can't face his boss.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • In the Zending there is no other choice than to jump off the top of a staircase.
    • Zig-Zagged in the Museum ending. Stanley goes along the corridor labeled "escape", while the narrator warns him that only death awaits him there. After that, multiple times it looks like he will die, but then he is saved, until finally he dies for real.
  • 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, which features... well, you know.
  • Dummied Out:
    • Since the HD Remake is built upon the Source Engine build used for Portal 2, several Portal 2 assets are present in the game files, including models for the Turret, textures for the Cave Johnson paintings, and other stuff. Using the console, one can even spawn the Companion Cube.
    • There are a few voice lines that never made it into the final game. Apparently, certain lines where the Narrator becomes separated from Stanley were meant to play in the game's ending, but an error in the script causes the lines not to play.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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: During the broom closet Easter Egg, if you have subtitles on, the "XD" emoticon appears at one point.
  • Environmental Narrative Games: 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.
      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.
  • Evil Brit: The Narrator, possibly- or at least in the "Pawn" and "Countdown" endings where he’s at his absolute lowest and is outright trying to kill Stanley for going against his narrative.
  • Evil Laugh: The Narrator does this in his "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Stanley during the Countdown ending.
  • 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 report feeling distincly uncomfortable, horrified and confused by the experience. It's very hard to explain without spoiling it.
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Even at his most villainous, the Narrator continues to speak in his usual chatty British-Accented speaker most prominent when he is taunting Stanley when he desperately tries to stop the explosion.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • 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 (because a door closes where it should open, trapping Stanley).
  • 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 ending may be considered a Golden Ending, since the Narrator basically gives up without killing you. (This one comes with credits.)
  • 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 which 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.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Some endings, namely Confusion, imply that there's an unknown, higher force pulling all the strings, and that The Narrator is just as much a puppet as Stanley. We don't meet it until the Museum ending, where it is a second, female Narrator. Subverted in this particular ending, where she is not malicious at all and is in fact trying to help you.
  • "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.
  • Heroic Mime: Parodied in the Real Person ending, where the keypad becomes a voice receiver which requires the player to speak the password. Since there's no way to say anything in the game, there's no way to open the door, and the game ends with the Narrator berating the player for not unlocking the door.
    "Stanley had always been taught never to speak up."
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • Interactive Narrator: Probably the most literal example. You are free to follow or completely disobey the Narrator's attempts at telling his story, and watch him try to react accordingly.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • It's All About Me: In the lift room, the narrator tries to apply psychological pressure by claiming that the story has been all about you and that you should give more consideration to his advice instead.
  • 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.
  • Just Toying with Them:
    • The narrator will not only blow you up, but will add an extra minute to the countdown mid-way through, just because he's enjoying watching you squirm.
    • At one point, the narrator opens a door just to close it right before you can walk through. Then he opens another one and does the same prank over again. (Although, this may be the case in which both him and you are being toyed with, since he is genuinely confused at where you are supposed to go to progress the story again.)
  • 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.
  • Killer Game Master: The Narrator starts trying to be this if Stanley pushes in the opposite direction too much.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All: The Narrator considers himself a genius storyteller, but his "masterpiece" is dull, trite, and incoherent.
  • 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: Most of the tracks in the game and on the Bandicam soundtrack follow a Thomas Newman-esque motif usually associated with Stanley himself, such as “Introducing Stanley”, “Leaving Stanley”, or “Exploring Stanley”. Two tracks exclusive to the Bandicam soundtrack and Blake Robinson’s YouTube channel also follow two other in-game motifs (“Following Stanley” (Adventure Line™ music) and “Informing Stanley” (Choice Instructional Video music), being “Broadcasting Stanley” and “Wiggling Stanley” respectively.
  • Lemony Narrator: Particularly if you do the opposite of what it says you will do.
  • Letting the Air Out of the Band: In the Games ending, this happens to the music when the "baby" reaches the fire.
  • Long List: The demo has a list of side effects of playing the game that may occur. The list takes up twelve screens.
  • 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.
  • Married to the Job: Stanley; it's said that he loves his job and does it "every day, of every week, of every month, of every year".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Missing Secret: Invoked in the demo. One of the labeled doors in the workspace is on a fenced-off impossible-to-rach platform, and it's label reads "out of order" in red letters.
  • Mission Control Is Off Its Meds: The Narrator is perfectly acceptable if you only do what he says, but if you start to ignore him he goes a little crazy.
  • 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. There are more than 20 different endings scripted, counting the straightforward ones, and the almost impossible ones.
    • Freedom: Stanley follows the narrator's orders exactly, and turns the mind control device off, exiting the building with little fanfare.
    • Countdown: Stanley follows the Narrator's instructions closely, but turns the mind control device on instead of off, causing the Narrator to set the entire building to self-destruct. Stanley has no means of ending the countdown, and so runs around helplessly until the clock runs out. Meanwhile, the Narrator delivers a crushing speech about how futile your choices are and how there is literally nothing that you can do to save Stanley.
    • Confusion: Stanley takes the door on the right, and takes a lift to the basement, where it's revealed the Narrator has no idea where they're going. After wandering into The Reveal of the Freedom Ending by mistake, the Narrator restarts the game, only to realize it's become corrupted somehow. They continually restart the game and wander around, hunting for the story, until they finally discover a large screen with the words "The Confusion Ending" written in bold at the top. The Narrator panics, realizing that, like Stanley, he is just a character in a game, and someone is controlling his actions as well. He reacts with conviction, protesting their pre-written destiny, before a loud, unexpected alarm buzz interrupts his tirade, and the game is hard-reset.
    • Coward: Stanley closes the door before even leaving his office. The Narrator talks for a bit about Stanley's cowardice, before restarting the game.
    • Insane: Stanley follows the Narrator's instructions until the staircase to his boss's office, at which point he goes down instead of up, leading into an endlessly looping basement. Stanley walks around aimlessly as the Narrator describes him slowly becoming self-aware, which eventually causes Stanley to break, screaming that he is real, before he collapses and dies. The ending concludes with the Narrator briefly describing a woman, Mariella, gazing upon Stanley's dead body.
    • Escape Pod: Stanley listens to the Narrator's instructions until arriving at his Boss's office, at which point he backs out of the room at the last second, allowing the doors to close him out of the room. Immediately following this, all narration ceases. Stanley leaves the area and walks all the way back to his office, where a nearby door has opened. Inside is a room with the words "You Are Now Leaving" written on the wall, and Stanley climbs up several flights of stairs in order to reach the escape pod at the top of the building. Just before he can reach it, the game restarts.
    • Museum: Stanley obeys the Narrator, but digresses when he reaches the Mind Control Facility, turning left at a sign that says "Escape" instead of the facility. The Narrator repeatedly warns Stanley that he will die if he proceeds down the path, and at the end of it, he falls through a hole into a conveyor belt, which pulls him closer and closer to two metal jaws set to crush him. Just before he dies, a female Narrator halts time, dropping him out of the conveyor belt and pondering the goals of the original Narrator. As she does so, Stanley wanders through a Developer's Room containing cut content and other things from the main game. After flipping the switch to turn the game off, he is placed back where he left off, with the female Narrator pleading with the player to quit the game to break free from the Narrator's clutches as the metal jaws come closer and closer, causing Stanley to be crushed to death before the female Narrator can finish speaking. The game restarts.
    • Phone: Stanley disobeys the Narrator's instructions, taking the other pathway and arriving at a warehouse with a lift. The Narrator insists that he's not Stanley's enemy, and takes him to a room with a phone. If Stanley answers the phone, he is taken to an apartment complex, where the Narrator has a mannequin posing as Stanley's "wife." The player is prompted to press certain keys as the Narrator jeers at Stanley, the room shifting to show the office building again, and the Narrator recites the Madness Mantra, "And I tried again. And Stanley pushed a button. And I tried again. And Stanley pushed a button," until the game resets.
    • Cold Feet: Follows the same path as the Phone ending until the lift, where Stanley backs off at the last second, remaining on the platform as the lift leaves without him. The Narrator remarks that the lift isn't coming back, so Stanley's only choice is to try jumping down to the bottom of the warehouse. The Narrator gets more insistent the longer Stanley waits, asserting that Stanley can definitely make the jump. When Stanley does finally jump, inevitably falling to his death, the Narrator casually remarks, "Whoops, looks like I was wrong. How clumsy of me."
    • Real Person: Stanley disobeys the Narrator's instructions, following the same path as the Phone Ending until he arrives at the telephone, where he pulls the plug out. This catches the Narrator completely off-guard, who notes that this choice should have been impossible, as it is the only "incorrect" course of action for the ending. This makes him realize that there is actually a real person controlling Stanley. The world begins to deteriorate due to "narrative contradiction," and despite the Narrator's best efforts, the player cannot restore the game to its original state, even after taking both paths. This forces the Narrator to eject the player from Stanley's body, causing the player to view the game from an outside perspective, watching Stanley's body from above the ceiling as the Narrator pleads with his empty shell to make a choice. This is the only ending to display the game's credits.
    • Powerful: Follows the Phone ending until Stanley reaches the lift, at which point he throws himself off of it, catapulting to the ground and dying. The Narrator sarcastically applauds this choice.
    • Zending: Follows the Phone ending until Stanley reaches the lift, where he jumps off and makes it to the other landing, normally inaccessible. The Narrator chastises him for this, stating that he just wants both he and Stanley to be happy. To prove it, he asks Stanley to take the nearby red door. If Stanley does, the Narrator leads him to the Starry Dome, and begs him to simply stop moving and appreciate its beauty. Stanley then walks to a nearby high landing, jumping off of it repeatedly even as the Narrator pleads with him to stop, before eventually killing himself and restarting the game.
    • Games: Follows the Zending until Stanley reaches the colored doors. When the Narrator asks Stanley to enter the red door, Stanley enters the blue door. The Narrator tries to force Stanley to take the red door, but Stanley keeps following the blue one, until the Narrator finally shows him what is behind the door - an empty room of exposed developer textures. The Narrator decides to experiment with some additional edits to the game while asking Stanley's opinions, until he finally decides that Stanley can't be pleased and chooses to play some different games instead - namely, Minecraft and Portal. When the Narrator abandons Stanley at the end of the Portal section, he can jump down the elevator shaft, bringing himself to the abandoned office area of the original Half Life 2 mod, where he wanders around until the game resets.
    • Window: Stanley leaves his office and jumps onto desk 434, falling through the window into a white void where the Narrator proclaims that, even though Stanley believed he'd found a glitch, it was actually part of the game all along. The Narrator has some extended dialogue before asking if Stanley has gotten sick of the joke, at which point Stanley can pick YES or NO. Regardless of what he picks, the player is stuck in the room until they reset the game.
    • Whiteboard: At a random chance, the game can begin with the office looking completely different, with a more blue appearance instead of its usual yellow. At this point, Stanley can open door 426, revealing a whiteboard with the words "Whiteboard Ending!" written on it, as well as the instruction to write ] bark in the console. After doing so, the game will make frequent barking sounds as Stanley walks around.
    • Serious: If the player attempts to activate cheats by typing sv_cheats 1 into the console, they are teleported to the Narrator's "Serious Room," in which he lectures the player for attempting to cheat at the game, and condemns them to spend one hundred billion trillion years in the Serious Room. If the player tries to use cheats again, the Narrator again lectures the player, and intensifies their punishment by sentencing the player to "infinity years" in the Serious Room.
    • Broom Closet: Stanley follows the normal pathway until reaching the Broom Closet, which he enters and stands in for several minutes. The Narrator grows more and more annoyed, until finally concluding that the original player must have died. He calls for a second player, and tells the player to exit to the hallway when they're ready, at which point his narration stops.
    • Heaven: Stanley comes across five computers, all bearing the message "awaiting input," in different areas of the game. He clicks them all in a specific order while restarting between each one. After clicking the last computer, he is teleported to a white room with a spinning ring of buttons surrounding him, and the text "Welcome Stanley, to Heaven" appears. This ending won't restart until the player does so themselves.
    • Art: Follows the Games ending until the Narrator starts up the baby game. If you manage to complete all four hours of the game, you are greeted by the essence of divine art, who promises you a heavenly reward for all of your hard work, and informs you that they love you. The game then restarts.
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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????".
  • No Fourth Wall: Used in the Broom Closet ending. The Narrator addresses the player, not Stanley, and suggests that you may have 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 dumb ass if you choose to return to the broom closet.
  • 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 Level: In one ending, you're briefly sent into a low-res version of the original mod's first few maps.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Not So Different: 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.
  • Nuke 'em: The inevitable outcome of the Countdown ending.
  • 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 bizzare 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.
  • 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.".
  • 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.
  • 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: The Games ending in the HD Remake has a Minecraft map and also includes Test Chamber 00 from Portal.
  • Puppet King: The Narrator may be this, as the Confusion ending introduces the idea that the Narrator, like Stanley, is trapped in a path charted out by someone else - specifically, the female Narrator who appears in the Museum ending.
  • 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 to go off the rails is locked down except one choice which ends up being a mistake.
  • Real Fake Door: It can happen that you come across a door behind which you find a brick wall.
  • Reality Warper: The Narrator has the ability to alter the environment as he pleases.
  • "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 for you to go this far, and just 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)
  • Red Herring:
    • The fern in the Confusion ending that the 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.
  • 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.
  • Ridiculously Average Guy: Stanley. His job is to push buttons. That's all he spends his life doing.
  • 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.
  • Sadist: While the Narrator usually doesn’t cross the line of sadism, he does in the Countdown ending, outright admitting he’s finding Stanley being stuck in a room that’s about to explode with no escape despite all signs indicating there should be a way out amusing.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 which the character could never have known (and the Narrator points this out).
    • The Dream 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.)
  • 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: The game starts with this trope: Stanley sits in a tiny office and types whatever appears on his computer screen— before going off in other, bizarre directions.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • The whole "baby game" in the HD Remix is a little jab at art games (while the Stanley Parable itself could be considered an art game.)
    • An Easter Egg of typing "hideous" into the console will load a page from the Team Fortress 2 wiki, said page being chosen at random from a pre-determined selection of the hats available in-game.
    • 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. And it, in itself, is a jab at games that set you up to fail - as with the baby/puppy game, which is a more blatant deconstruction of 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • This Loser Is You: Stanley blindly presses buttons, obeying prompts on a screen with no understanding or wider life, depending on others to tell him what to do. Brought home strongest in the Phone ending. It might also be targeted by certain developers, represented in the Narrator, who treat their players like sheep, demanding arbitrary actions and expecting responses to events rather than allowing creativity or considering other responses.
  • 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 the stop the timer by clicking on pointless buttons scattered around the room when in truth you cannot.
  • 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.
  • Troll: Stanley can easily do this to the Narrator by disobeying him and going a different path. Also, in the HD Remake, the Narrator seems to outright become this if Stanley gets onto the cargo lift and immediately steps off again, causing the lift to leave him behind. The Narrator then actively encourages Stanley to jump several stories below to the warehouse floor.
    Narrator: You know what? Looking at it now, it's not that far to the bottom floor, I bet you can make it. Come on, I'm sure you'll survive the jump. Don't tell me you're scared; that's not the Stanley I know. (in various mocking tones) Do it! DO it! DOOO IT! Doit doit doit doit!
    (Stanley steps off and plunges to his death)
    Narrator: Whoops, looks like I was wrong. How clumsy of me.
  • 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.
  • Unexpectedly Abandoned: The premise of the story is that Stanley suddenly notices all co-workers are gone from the office.
  • 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.
  • Unreliable Narrator: You can make the Narrator this or not depending on your actions. He tends to not be amused.
  • Unwinnable by Mistake: It's possible to break the game's scripting and end up being unable to achieve any of the endings:
    • If you go through the right door, then try to get the Escape Pod ending later on, the door back to your office will lock and you'll be stuck.
  • Video Games and Fate: The game is 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 which 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.
  • Villainous Breakdown: While probably not fitting the terminology of "villain", the Narrator gets progressively more and more antagonistic as you walk through the game without following the pre-determined story. He outright loses it when you get either the Countdown ending or the Real Person ending.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: In the Stop Moving ending in the HD Remake, the Narrator will break down and beg you not to kill yourself, because for once in his life, he's happy. Other endings? If you go against him and his story, he'll joyfully try to kill you, even if he needs to destroy the entire facility to do it. Confusion reveals that not even the Narrator is safe from railroading, that even though he's controlling Stanley and most of the overall story, even he's not in control in the end. And in the Real Person ending, the Narrator begins frantically begging the now-playerless Stanley to pick a door to walk through so that the story can progress—which Stanley can't do without the player's influence.
  • 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.
  • 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?


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