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Can you write the way into her heart?note 

Every day, I imagine a future where I can be with you
In my hand is a pen that will write a poem of me and you
The ink flows down into a dark puddle
Just move your hand, write the way into his heart!
But in this world of infinite choices
What will it take just to find that special day?

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Doki Doki Literature Club! is a Ren'Py-based visual novel by Team Salvato, led by Dan Salvato (who was also a developer of Project M and a competitive player of both Super Smash Bros. Melee and Project M).

You are a member of the literature club, along with four cute girls. In each chapter, you will create a poem based around twenty words selected by the player, which the girls will comment on and compare to previous poems, allowing the bonds to grow stronger with the different club members.

The club members are:

Also, this game is not suitable for children or those who are easily disturbed. Yes, it's one of those games.

The game is downloadable from its official site, and is also available for free on itch.io and Steam. However, the developer also allows people to support the game financially by buying a fan pack containing the soundtrack, wallpapers, and a concept art booklet.

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Due to the nature of the game, all spoilers are unmarked. It is practically impossible to discuss this game without spoiling the whole thing. The game is free to play and rather short, so it is strongly recommended that you download and play it before continuing further.

Not to be confused with Doki Doki School Hours, Doki Doki Panic, or DokiDoki! Precure. And heaven help you if you confuse it with Doki Doki Majo Shinpan!.


The game contains examples of following tropes:

  • Abusive Parents: Downplayed with Natsuki's father, at least in Act 1 where he just appears to be a somewhat absent, but still stern figure who seemingly disapproves of his daughter's "immature" manga-collecting hobby and apparently worries about her eating habits (something which might be well-intended, but obviously just serves to make Natsuki's psychological issues worse). It is then played straight in Act 2, where he turns outright neglectful and psychically abusive, which is implied to be a result of Monika tampering with him.
  • Adult Fear: The subject of depression is hardly one you'd expect to directly come up in a romantic visual novel at all. It gets worse when Sayori hangs herself, leaving the player horrified they couldn't prevent it.
  • Adults Are Useless: There isn't a single adult in sight before and after Monika starts tampering with the game. There is mention of Natsuki's father, but he is actually a contributing factor for Natsuki's problems, especially in Act 2, where Monika changes her father from just being stern and mildly critical to flat out physically and emotionally abusive.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: After everything, you might be glad Monika is gone, but after Sayori takes over in the normal ending, she's the one to save you.
    Monika: I won't let you hurt him.
  • All There in the Manual: Players often tell others who have completed the game to reinstall it completely if they want to play again, due to the meta nature of the game making it unplayable. However, the game's manual tells you how to restore the game to a playable state without the need to reinstall.
    In some cases, you may want to delete your save data to start the game completely over. To do this, navigate to the game folder and delete the file named firstrun. The next time you start the game, you will be asked to delete your save data. Select Yes, delete my existing data. The game will then start from the beginning.
  • And I Must Scream: After Yuri stabs herself in Act 2, the player character is stuck staring at her decomposing corpse over the entire weekend, at least until Natsuki shows up Monday morning. Monika is visibly shocked that she accidentally left the player in this state.
    • Also Monika herself. As she explains (and alludes to in one of her poems), when the game isn't running she enters a painful state of being assaulted by lights and sounds that make it impossible for her to think and cause her to lose all sense of time.
    • It's also implied Yuri and Natsuki are aware their personalities are changing somehow and something's not right, but they don't know what's causing it or how to stop it. Sayori's final poem — consisting almost entirely of repeated demands that someone get out of her head — implies that she may be aware of it as well.
  • Angrish: Natsuki's Tsundere personality sometimes causes her to lapse into being barely capable of forming sentences, instead spewing forth solitary pronouns and interjections, all the while looking like she's about to explode in frustration.
    • If you write your first poem of Act 2 for her, her Precision F-Strike towards Monika while looking for the missing manga volume is also presented to look this way, although later discoveries suggest it might have been Monika's own typo... or, you know, whatever the equivalent of a typo is in the medium she used to edit the game.]]
    Natsuki: fucking Monikammmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
    • Another mild example occurs later in the game: Monika's note in the game files where she expresses frustration at being unable to drive the player away from Natsuki and Yuri by flanderizing them is named "iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii". It also starts with "I hate this. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING. NOTHING."
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: If you choose to have the player character confess love for Sayori, he says that he can't understand what she's going through, but he wants to take on her burden, share it with her, and help her with it in any way he can. Then he asks her out to the festival. Sayori is touched and hugs him, but she asks why she still feels miserable.
  • Animesque: The game is completely American-developed, but it would be easy to mistake it for a real Japanese Visual Novel. This is lampshaded by Monika during her endless talk with the player in Act 3.
    Monika: By the way, there's something that's been bothering me... You know how this takes place in Japan? Well...I assume you knew that, right? Or at least decided it probably does? I don't think you're actually told at any point where this takes place... Is this even really Japan? I mean, aren't the classrooms and stuff kind of weird for a Japanese school? Not to mention everything is in English... It feels like everything is just there because it needs to be, and the actual setting is an afterthought. It's kind of giving me an identity crisis.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: If you load a save from a previous day, the game lets you fast-forward through dialogue you've already seen by either clicking "Skip" or holding down a key. The skip stops automatically when you reach dialogue that you haven't seen yet. The game also lets you skip through a part of Yuri's event in Act 2 after she stabs herself to death, which features nothing but string after string of broken font characters meant to last two full days in-story. This works even if the player hasn't seen that part of the game yet.
  • Arc Words:
    • "Monika." and "Just Monika." get said as full sentences a lot in the late game. Their significance is revealed in the third act.
    • "Happy thoughts" tends to be associated with Sayori, who covers up her suicidal tendencies with a Genki Girl appearance.
    • Another expression that shows up quite frequently is "...inside my/your/her head". It usually refers to Sayori or Yuri and the fact that there is more to them than they let on. More specifically, their extreme self-consciousness, mental health issues, and how much harder it has become for them to control these ever since the Player Character joined the club.
    • "Can you hear me?" is repeated several times throughout the game, usually whenever Monika speaks directly to the player.
    • Going through the game files gives us "the Third Eye", which is either Production Foreshadowing to Project Libitina, a hint towards a Greater-Scope Villain, or both. It's repeated a few times in the game proper, too.
  • Art Shift: During act 2, one of the glitches of the game is replacing certain facial features of the girls with more photorealistic versions to uncanny effect (the most common version being Yuri getting photorealistic eyes that actually move and look around on her portrait.)
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The game never sheds its moe art style, which makes scenes like Sayori and Yuri's suicides even more jarring.
  • Beacon of Hope: As the experience darkens and characters are killed off or revealed as villains, the Player Character remains hopeful that things will work out, and does his absolute best to ensure that everyone, even the victims and villains, feel good about themselves and stop whatever tragic or sinister plans they have, but mostly to no avail.
  • Big Bad: Monika, the one who causes the death of the other club members and is the cause of almost everything that goes wrong in the game. While it's not until a while into the second act that she becomes clearly evil, she does show shades of unpleasantness even during the first. Reaching the Downer Ending reveals that it's the game itself that corrupts whoever becomes President of the Literature Club to both realize they're stuck in a game and fall in love with the player.
  • Bittersweet Ending: When discussing one of her poems, Sayori mentions that she likes these. And if one saves and reloads to get all the CGs before Sayori hangs herself, a different ending occurs. Most of it is the same as what happens in the Downer Ending below, but instead of realizing what Monika did, Sayori is instead touched by what the player did to spend time with everyone. Lamenting how she has nothing to give in return, she only asks that you come and visit again. The CGs during the credits are in color this time, and while the game's script is deleted, the character files remain. Instead of Monika's note disbanding the club, you get a note from Dan Salvato thanking you for playing.
  • Black Comedy: The song that plays during Sayori's suicide is called "Sayo-Nara".
  • Body Motifs: Eyes. Both versions of "Hole in the Wall" compare the experience of becoming meta-aware to being blinded. Yuri's book has an eye on the cover. Several of the scares in Act II involve Eye Scream in some form or another. And "third eye" is repeated in reference to Project Libitina.
  • Bold Inflation: Whenever the characters start acting particularly off-script, their text gains a huge black outline, indicating that something isn't quite right.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Monika tells the protagonist to make sure to save at important decisions, then wonders who she's talking to. If the player aims their poetry for Natsuki, then she'll accuse the player of cheating, but then jokes about it. There are also some parts of the game that put focus on manipulating your computer unit or the game's files, (said game files are listed here):
    • Various image and text files are created as the player progresses through Act 2, but are deleted afterwards during Act 3.
    • During the end of Act 1, the game mentions the "traceback.txt" file which contains a trace of errors, and a note written in the first person. When you look into the game files, the traceback.txt is actually created, with a timestamp of when you actually viewed that scene in-game.
    • If the players wish to start over from scratch, all they need to do is delete a single file in the game folder. Because in some parts of the game, the main menu becomes inaccessible, or the game becomes "unplayable" due to a dialog box instructing you to re-install the game.
    • At one point in Act 3, Monika is aware if the game is being recorded, or is played on the Steam version. Instead of mentioning your inputted name, she mentions the username of the currently logged-in OS profile. During the said Act, if you try to skip Monika's dialog, she will call you out for it, and promptly disable the feature. Also, the main menu, saving, and loading features will be pre-emptively disabled.
      (when saving on Act 3) Monika: There's no point in saving anymore. Don't worry, I won't be going anywhere.
      (when trying to skip text on Act 3) Monika: Are you trying to fast-forward? I'm not boring you, am I? / Well, there's nothing to fast-forward to. / Here, I'll go ahead and turn it off for you.
  • But Thou Must!:
    • In Act 1, when choosing who to go with for festival preparations, picking Monika or Sayori will make Natsuki and Yuri loudly object, and railroad you towards either of them.
    • In Act 2, when given a choice between the girls, the cursor starts to gravitate towards Monika. You can select a different option by using the arrow keys. After you select it the choice will be replaced with a list all saying "Monika".
    • Happens to Natsuki in Act 2. Monika throws her a protein bar and Natsuki complains about not wanting it while forcefully pushing it into her own mouth.
    • During Yuri's event at the end of Act 2, regardless of whether the player answers "Yes" or "No," Yuri's reaction is exactly the same. She ends up Laughing Mad and kills herself with a chef's knife.
    • On the third day of Act 2, you are forced to spend time with Yuri, even if you chose words that appeal to Natsuki. If your first two poems appeal to Natsuki, she will be very vocal about feeling abandoned and glitch heavily whenever she appears.
    • In Act 3, all the "choices" Monika gives the player are one-option only, such as her question if you'll go out with her giving the player literally no other choice but to answer "Yes".
    • Also in Act 3 Monika disables skipping. The game up until then allows skipping by checking "Skip Unseen Text". But in Act 3, she forces the player to read with no chance of skipping or even making the text all appear at once.
  • Central Theme:
    • Depression. The right way and the wrong way to deal with it, the things it does to someone's psyche, and the ways it affects the people around the afflicted.
    • What Measure Is a Non-Human? Or rather, what measure is a video game's AI?
  • Character Blog: Monika has a twitter, which she plugs in the Third Act.
  • Character Exaggeration: Deliberately done in-universe in Act 2, where Monika uses her ability to modify the game to ramp up the other girls' flaws and insecurities as part of her plan to get the player to love only her.
  • Chekhov's Hobby:
    • In addition to foreshadowing her emotional problems later on, Yuri's knife-collecting hobby is first mentioned in her festival preparation scene in Act 1, presaging her suicide in Act 2.
    • There are also a few instances where Monika is late to club meetings, with the excuse that she was learning to play the piano, and even mentions that she's writing a song. This becomes her swan song during the end credits as she deletes the game assets.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: It's possible to agree to go out with Sayori. Not that you'll get the chance to.
  • Club Stub: The eponymous club, having just 4 members before the protagonist joins. Monika explains that she prefers to avoid the politics and budgeting of larger clubs. In Act 2, where Sayori has been deleted, Monika gets the protagonist to join by explaining there won't be enough members for the club to stay open otherwise.
  • Collector of the Strange: Yuri collects ornate knives. She goes into a lot of detail about their craftsmanship in Act 1 if you choose to see her event.
  • Content Warning: The game opens with a warning that it isn't suitable for children or people who are easily disturbed. It even provides a link to a website page that elaborates on its Surprise Creepy nature as well as its themes of depression, suicide, self harm, and abuse, and recommends that someone with serious triggers relating to such topics should avoid this game.
  • Cool Big Sis: Monika is the club's President, and is cool, calm and mature. She gives the player advice on how to improve as a writer, helps break up disputes, and even seems to play Shipper on Deck. While this is what she's programmed to be, it turns out she hates her status as a side character who only exists to help out the player and doesn't even have a route of her own. She does seem to be fond of the club after all, but she's frustrated enough with her situation to pull a Hostile Show Takeover so that she could romance the player. Not the player character, the player.
  • Corrupted Data: Anything deleted from the game has its name rendered like this, as nothing but garbage text and character render errors. It also happens with the text shortly after both the death scenes, as the game glitches heavily, and Monika in the Downer Ending isn't affected, since the game is pretty much destroyed at that point.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The game's story involves Monika warping her entire reality, playing around with everyone in hopes of actually becoming the heroine of the story (with her going so far as to put her own friends through Flanderization, even seemingly killing them, for the sake of her goal). Becomes Lovecraft Lite during the fourth act, since, as a similarly-powerful Reality Warper, you can give her some serious Laser-Guided Karma for what she did. Especially so if you act as a Time Master, using the same system to create a "Groundhog Day" Loop with which you can make all the girls happy, and, in doing so, get the Golden Ending.
    • It's also twisted in one way, in that the Eldritch Abomination is you, and the cultist is doing this without your knowledge, consent, or even that she is until she outright tells you.
  • Crapsaccharine World: It seems like the idyllic setting of your typical harem comedy, but being the president of the Literature Club somehow makes you self-aware, and prone to having Gone Mad from the Revelation, and said president is the Big Bad who wants to become the player's Love Interest by any means possible.
  • Cross Player: Discussed. During Monika's personal conversation with the player, she suspects that said player may actually be female, but notes it doesn't matter to her anymore.
  • Crowd Pleaser: Sayori, she wants everyone to be happy! Unfortunately, this is due to her depressive lack of self esteem making her prioritize everyone else's well-being over her own, even to the point where she drives herself to suicide doing so. In the Golden Ending, she uses her power as Club President to delete everything but the character files from the game, because the player made them all happy, and she wants to preserve them in that state.
  • Cryptic Background Reference: Subverted with Natsuki's Abusive Parents and Yuri's Self-Harm, which are only given this much in Act 1, but Monika makes them more obvious in Act 2.
  • Dating Sim: The game allows you to spend time with one of Sayori, Natsuki, or Yuri at the beginning of each day depending on the inclination of the poem that you "compose" beforehand, complete with CG art. Though at one point, the game will have you pick between Natsuki or Yuri, and their choice will be followed, regardless of the poem on that certain day.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: Mentioned and played for horror in Act 2. As Yuri undergoes Sanity Slippage and her dialogue becomes more frantic and distorted, she reveals some uncomfortable details about what she has been doing with a pen dropped by the player character.
  • Dark Reprise:
    • "Sayo-nara" is a combination One-Woman Wail / Ominous Music Box Tune rendition of the game's main theme, which serves to perfectly underscore the horror of Sayori's suicide, and the drastic shift in tone the game takes.
    • "My Confession" is reprised twice: the first is Yuri's confession of her obsessive atrraction in Act 2, where the song is distorted and is layered with heavy breathing and creepy laughter. The second, Downplayed version is I Still Love You, during Monika's Heel Realization after her deletion by the player.
  • Daylight Horror: Being a Dating Sim, everything happens during the day, and almost all of the horrifying things in the game happen in bright, well-lit places while the game maintains its cheery facade.
  • Deconstruction: Of Breaking The Fourth Wall. Imagine if the character winking at the camera actually knew that their reality was all fabricated to appease the real people living in a limitless real world just behind a screen. Monika goes against her programming to try and romance the player in an attempt to get something out of the real world.
  • Déjà Vu: Expressed by the player character on at least one occasion during Act 1. Oddly, this is the first time he's experienced these events. But it won't be his last time. Yuri also mentions having one when Monika rewinds the player seeing Yuri cut herself for the third time.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Actually ends up a plot point; in Act 2, Monika deliberately ratchets up the worst traits of both Yuri and Natsuki in an attempt to make herself look more appealing than either.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • After Monika deletes everyone before Act 3 starts, she will call you by your character's name, and then your OS profile's name. If you're currently streaming, however, she will only call you by your character's name, then admonish you for bringing an audience along a little later, giving you a measure of privacy.
    • If you start a brand new game after deleting Monika's character file, the game starts with Sayori suddenly going insane and the game crashing, followed by a cut to her suicide if you open it up again. If you delete Sayori's character file instead, it just cuts straight to the image. The non-golden ending explains why this happens: Sayori, now president of the literature club, gains the knowledge about everything Monika did and knew. If Monika is deleted before you even start, Sayori gains knowledge that everything is just a visual novel. As Sayori becomes aware that she's in a game, it drives her insane.
    • If you try to reinsert Monika's character file into the game after she "resurrects" the other three, a message pops up from her telling you to stop playing with her heart, before the game erases it and continues as intended.
    • A rare scene can happen if you somehow manage to back up your save files and are able to access them when they haven't happened in the "Act" you're playing (the video shows someone trying to view a scene from Act 2 while in Act 1). Monika will chastise the player for "cheating," and then restart the game.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Yuri's second poem, The Raccoon is a story about its protagonist slicing some bread to feed a raccoon simply out of curiosity. The raccoon then follows her everywhere, so she always keeps some bread and a knife ready to feed it. She gains an addiction to giving it food over time, admitting that she gains satisfaction from it. The prose also heavily focuses on the knife, and the last stanza mentions "a rush of blood." While the player character can't quite figure out what it means, Yuri just says it's about her "unusual hobbies." We find out in Act 2 just what the raccoon is a metaphor for precisely.
    • During Yuri's already suggestive confession speech you can hear ragged sighs in the background, as though she's on the verge of ecstasy.
    • Natsuki's poem about spiders in the Act 1 can also be read as a metaphor for homophobia, not just prejudice against people with unusual hobbies. It speaks about a person who feels disguested even when she simply touches Amy (she's afraid that Amy will molest her and, maybe, thinks that her touch will "turn people gay") and finally decides to tell everyone about it (publically outing Amy).
  • Downer Ending:
    • After the player deletes her character file, Monika sends the player back to the beginning of the game, restoring the other three girls and making Sayori the president. Everything seems to be going well... until Sayori reveals that, by becoming president, she has learned about everything that has happened, and has also fallen madly love in the player, and wants them to herself... forever... again. As she begins to recreate Monika's room, she and the rest of the girls are deleted by Monika, who realizes there is no happiness for anyone in the game. As the credits roll, the CGs are deleted (unobtained ones rendered in grayscale), along with other aspects of the game. It ends on a note from Monika disbanding the club, which is all you'll see if you try to reload the game again.
    • As detailed under Developer's Foresight, deleting Monika's character file after opening the game executable but before starting a new game causes Sayori to panic, eventually cutting to a black screen, and then to a black and white image of her corpse. Reopening the game simply leaves you with a black screen stating "END." If you stay on this screen long enough, a message pops up stating how everyone can be happy now.
  • Driven to Suicide: Sayori in Act 1, and Yuri in Act 2. Sayori also deletes herself if you delete Monika's character file before starting a game, as she realizes that she's a video game character, and it drives her insane.
  • Dutch Angle: One of the glitches in Act 2 is the club room and all the character sprites very slowly zooming in and getting more and more tilted over the course of a conversation before suddenly snapping back to normal. As seen here, Monika is unaffected.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Even before Monika starts really messing with the game, there are implications that all your love interests have some serious issues. Each girl has their own flavor:
    • Sayori: Depression. She always puts the happiness of others over her own, and despite being a very adept Stepford Smiler, the damage this leaves on her becomes very apparent after Act 1. The game states several times that, fantastical elements aside, this is very characteristic of real-life depression.
    • Natsuki: Domestic abuse. Even before Act 2, Natsuki has a very crabby attitude that is directly attributed to her father not being a good parent. How much of it can be classified as "abuse" pre-file editing is sketchy, but at the very least it's implied he doesn't feed her properly.
    • Yuri: Alienation. She has a constant crippling fear that her closet habits will freak people out were they ever to learn about them, and that fear is implied to have been founded more than once before she joined the Literature Club. Once again, how much of these habits are pre-edit is up for debate, but Yuri is confirmed to collect unique knives as a hobby.
    • Monika: Existential crisis. Monika is fully aware that she is a side character in a Dating Sim and, as much as she loves the Literature Club, has trouble seeing other characters as human because she knows they're just computer files. She also clings to the player character because they're the closest thing to "real" in her life.
  • Easter Egg:
    • The player can discover random "special poems" that have a significantly different tone to what the girls compose normally.
    • Additional text files are created in the game folder during Act 2. They disappear once Act 3 begins.
    • The game folder contains ".chr" files that can't be read by any other program. While it has importance within the game itself, opening these files in a text editor may first return nonsense until one notices it's under multiple layers of encoding. See here for the decoded files and the process behind it.
    • In the event the player decides to humor Monika and stay in their literally endless conversation instead of deleting her files to advance the story, she has a ludicrously long list of insightful topics to discuss, such as ideas on death, graduation, depression, God, school, dating, etc.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: On Yuri's route, she eventually reveals that she sits alone at lunch due to her lack of social skill. However, she doesn't feel so bad about it, because it gives her more time to read.
  • Eldritch Location:
    • You wind up in one after Monika deletes most of the game's assets to ensure it's just you and her spending eternity in the clubroom together. Outside the window you can see weird patterns of light and darkness cascading along.
    • Monika describes the game being powered off as being something akin to this. She is bombarded with flashing lights and colours and the sounds of screaming, unable to even think straight until the player loads the game again. She requests that the player do this to her as little as possible as a result.
  • Evolving Title Screen: The title screen changes significantly after the player completes each act. After Sayori's death and deletion, she's replaced on the title screen throughout Act 2 by a glitched amalgamation of the other characters (with the "New Game" text being glitched as well when that point is first reached). Act 3, in which only Monika is left, skips the title screen entirely. Act 4, where Monika is gone but the others are restored, features only the three remaining girls on the title screen.
  • Excited Show Title!: The title has an exclamation point. You know, because it's such a bubbly and cheery game!
  • Existential Horror: The way Monika is self-aware and how she uses this self-awareness has strong connotations of this, as she is from beginning to end defined by being a character in a Romance Visual Novel. To begin with, she is cursed by the fact that she isn't a romanceable character, which essentially means that she is — within the confines of the genre she exists in — in the end not really all that important for the story. Her creator has essentially doomed her to exist in the shadow of Sayori, Natsuki and Yuri; forever unable to fulfill any other role but playing second fiddle to them. The kicker is that even when Monika gains the power to alter the program, all she can think of doing with this power is use it to make herself the only romanceable character, because her way of thinking and viewing the world is still inherently limited by the type of game she is a character within. Namely a game where the goal is to gain the player's "love", and so in despite of all her power, that is all she can think of using it for.
  • Eye Scream: The extreme close up of Yuri's face, with an audible pop and a momentary spurt of blood coming out of her eye. Everything immediately goes back to normal and she doesn't acknowledge it, but then her eye starts dripping blood while she talks.
    • The rare case in which Natsuki stops talking and her eyes pop out of her head. Again, everything immediately reverts to normal and no acknowledgement is given.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Even if you decide to dedicate all your poems and possible choices to Sayori, you still can't prevent her suicide. It is rendered Ret Gone in Act 4, but the only way for her to truly be alright is if you achieve the Golden Ending.
  • Fan Disservice: There's a CG of Sayori wearing a cute outfit that shows off her legs, with part of her top sliding down to expose her collar and shoulder. It's the one where she's found to have committed suicide by hanging.
    • At the end of Act 2, the player is treated to a close-up, high-resolution picture of Yuri half-sitting, half-lying on the classroom floor with her back resting against a chair, in a manner that (especially considering the previous CGs of her) could have been considered suggestive or at least romantic, if not for the circumstances: she's lying there because she's dead, having just committed suicide by stabbing in an apparent fit of self-destructive excitement, with blood splattered everywhere and gaping stab wounds clearly being emphasized by the camera angle. The player is then forced to observe this scene for the next two and a half in-game days, as Yuri's body starts decomposing while still half-sitting there in the same position. Lovely.
  • Featureless Protagonist: The main character's face is never shown, and he has a generic personality. The closest the player can see his design is in a CG with Sayori; even then, however, the CG only displays him from behind as Sayori hugs him, showing that he has short, brown hair and a black shirt.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: While "boss" is cutting it close, the climax of Act 3 revolves around a direct confrontation with Monika, who traps the player into an endless loop of conversations, the backdrop of which being a darkened classroom with windows peering out into what appears to be space.
  • Finger-Suck Healing: Attempted by Yuri after the main character cuts his finger on one of her knives during the festival preparation scene.
  • Finger-Tenting: Monika's (in)famous pose in the 4th-wall room, after she successfully deletes the other characters and rewrites the game to serve as a two-way communicator between her and the player.
  • Fission Mailed:
    • At the end of Act 1, after Sayori's event, the game displays an "END" card. However, attempting to load a save will seemingly start a new game, with a few noticeable changes. It's here that things start going off the rails.
    • During a conversation with Natsuki in Act 2, her eyes and mouth get covered with black censor squares, she cries Tears of Blood, before she screams "PLAY WITH ME!" with a Slasher Smile. Her neck then cracks to the side like The Crooked Man, and she rushes at the screen, before "END" appears in backwards letters. A few moments later, the game continues as if nothing happened.
    • After reading Monika's third poem in the second act, you'll get a fake blue-screen, depending on what OS you're using. Monika will quickly jump in to show it isn't real.
  • Flanderization: An odd example that's invoked by Monika in-universe. Her first strategy is to Mind Rape the other love interests so that their worst personality traits are exaggerated to make them less appealing. This leads to Sayori going from a girl who lives with depression who copes by presenting a Genki Girl front who makes others happy to someone who is full-blown suicidal. Yuri goes from a Nightmare Fetishist who has some bizarre character traits like collecting knives to a Yandere that masturbates with the main character's pen, cuts herself as a sexual fetish, stares at the main character, and finally kills herself after confessing her twisted love. Natsuki goes from being sweet but insecure (with her only real Berserk Button being the idea of being infantilised) to being angry and abusive (as well as abused).
  • Foreshadowing: Has its own page.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: The school uniform blazers (but not the vests, somehow) are distinctly clingy around the girls' chests, as if consciously designed to show off their cup sizes (which may contribute to Yuri and Natsuki's respective issues on the subject).
  • Four Is Death:
    • There are four members of the literature club to start with. They all end up either dead or deleted in some form during the overall story.
    • Obviously, with there being four girls in the club, the Player Character reads poems from four different sources (aka the girls). In Act 2, despite one of the girls being Ret Gone, there are still four sources — except instead of Sayori, the player now has access to the so-called "special poems" with no clear indication of who wrote them and when, why or how it happened, although a few educated guesses can be made. Needless so to say, death (as well as many other horrible things) is never far away in these two acts, starting with Sayori hanging herself and only getting worse from there.
    • A meta example, the game ends when Act 4 is cleared.
  • The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You:
    • After Sayori's suicide, the player character notes that "this isn't a game where [he] can reset and try something else." Attempting to reload will cause the game to remark on a missing character file and a corrupt save. Checking the game files will reveal that the character filenote  is indeed missing.
  • Friendship Moment: Yuri and Natsuki frequently get into arguments due to their differing writing styles, which only gets worse in the playthrough after Sayori's suicide. That said, Natsuki seems concerned that Yuri is undergoing Sanity Slippage, and even slips you a note under the guise of a poem about asking you to find a way to help her. Unfortunately, Monika tampers with the game to have Natsuki tell you to disregard it.
    • Monika's awareness that she's a game character allows her to tamper with the character files and the game's script. This eventually gets reversed on her when the player deletes her character file to advance the plot.
  • Game-Breaking Bug: Played with. The game is intended (and loves) to invoke this trope twice as it presents "bugs" or error messages that makes the player think that their game is broken:
    • The first instance occurs during Sayori's death as the game tells the player that "an exception has occurred. See the traceback.txt for details". This is plot-related and will let the player progress to the second Act, though the game is still playable, it is already "broken" with previous saves being deleted and with all the visual glitches on the second and third chapters.
    • The second instance occurs after the credits as the game displays another error message telling the player than the game's script could not be found. At this point, the game becomes unplayable unlike the first instance.
  • Game Mod: There are several mods for the game, ranging from adding new epilogues, conversations in Monika's room, the game from other characters' perspectives, different characters becoming the Lit Club President, or joke mods. A list of mods with their own trope pages can be found here.
  • Genki Girl: Sayori. It's an act.
  • Genre Shift: It's a cutesy romance visual novel until the end of the first act, at which point it shifts into a Psychological Horror story with undertones of Existential Horror and a heavy dose of Playing the Player.
  • Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Stuffed animals are a notable feature of Sayori's room.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation:
    • Monika, depending on your interpretation of the story. It's at least implied that her descent into obsession and villainy is a result of her coming to understand that she's just a character in a game with no agency of her own.
    • Even worse, it's implied anyone who becomes the Literature Club president becomes insane, obsessive, and murderous, because every character in that role becomes aware of the fact they're just a background character in a two-bit visual novel. Monika deletes everyone in the end, partially to spare them the same fate, and partially because Sayori, who inherits being Literature Club president, is about to lock the player back into Monika's room to be with them for all eternity... again. If the player happens to trigger an Easter Egg involving deleting Monika before the game starts, Sayori has a psychotic meltdown after this revelation and kills herself.
  • Go-Getter Girl: Monika. This feeds into some of her villainy — she's aware she's doomed to be Miss Perfect rooting for everyone else, while the game pays zero attention to her and forces her to be someone she feels like she's not.
  • Go Out with a Smile: Yuri, she gives you a deranged smile as she proceeds to stab herself.
  • Golden Ending: Obtained by saving and reloading to see all of Sayori's, Natsuki's, and Yuri's CGs before Sayori's suicide. Rather than deleting the entire game, Monika allows the literature club to continue on with Sayori as president—although you still can't play the game again without messing with the game files.
  • Guide Dang It!: Getting the good ending requires that you trigger all the heroine CGs before Sayori's suicide. Because Sayori's suicide functions as a Point of No Return with little warning that also erases the player's prior save data, some may not notice they can't go back until it is too late. Fortunately, the game comes with an easy hard reset, so you can still go back and get the best ending.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: All the references to Project Libitina and the "Third Eye" hint towards there being an even bigger force than Monika out there, which would be a group of people performing disturbing experiments on some girls. They may or may not be directly or indirectly responsible for the game's events, but either way you never actually see this group and they never come up in the game's main plot.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Monika is jealous of the other girls because they get to be love interests in the game they're in, while she's supposed to sit back and root for them. Also literally, since Monika describes her eye color as emerald green.
  • "Groundhog Day" Loop:
    • Act 2 starts with the player being forced back to the start of the game, and consists of redoing the events of act 1 minus Sayori, and plus a whole lot of unsettling happenings. While Act 3 is considerably different, Act 4 once again starts you off back at the beginning with Monika gone and Sayori back, and includes some of the same elements from the first two acts.
    • Furthermore, to get the Golden Ending, you need to abuse Save Scumming to perpetuate it yourself. Do so to get all the CGs before Sayori's suicide, and make every girl happy, and they don't have to die.
  • Gut Punch: The game starts off as a lighthearted romantic comedy with some drama added in after Sayori admits to being depressed and confesses to the protagonist. Then, on the day of the festival, you discover Sayori's corpse hanging in her bedroom, and the whole thing turns into psychological horror with a cutesy facade.
  • Hack Your Enemy: Monika. Don't want the other girls to take the player's attention away from you? Get into the code and delete them!
    • Speaking of which, the Player Character (and, by extension, you) is completely powerless to stop Monika from carrying out her plans or help the other girls through any known in-game means. It gets so bad that eventually you are rendered unable to do anything except read her monologue that loops endlessly and quit the game. Your solution? Open the game directory and return the favor to Monika by deleting her!
  • Hair Decorations: All of girls have hair clips, ribbons, or bows in their hair, although Natsuki's is the only one noted in universe for being especially cutesy.
  • Halfway Plot Switch: It's a fairly cute game about the player character joining a literature club with cute girls, with some lighthearted ribbing of a lot of stock tropes, and then Sayori hangs herself, and the game delves into psychological horror metafiction.
  • Heavy Sleeper: Sayori is often late to school because she sleeps in. It's because she's so depressed it's too hard for her to get out of bed in the morning.
  • Heel Realization: Monika, after her character file is deleted at the end of Act 3, realizes how horrible her actions have been to drive the player to delete her.
  • He Knows About Timed Hits: A Deconstruction: Monika explains to you how to use the game's save system. This is Foreshadowing that she in fact knows that she is a character in a game, and she is not happy about her assigned role.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The protagonist is nameable by the player. Unusually, the name you choose is permanent; even if you start a new game, it'll use the name you chose the first time. This is a plot point.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Almost literally. The sight of Sayori hanging herself is so shocking to the player character that it actually causes the game to glitch out and the background to revert to an error message. Subverted, however, in that it's all directly caused by Monika trying (and failing miserably) to tamper with the game in the background.
  • Heroic Mime: Initially, the player character can talk just fine, to the point of pretty involved conversations, but during the third act, they're completely silent.
  • High School: The game's school setting.
  • Hope Spot:
    • If you decide to have the player character confess that he loves Sayori, and he wants to take on her burden, they decide their first date will be the school festival. Sayori admits she's still not feeling better, even as she hugs the player character, but that she will be there. The player character hopes this means that they can fight her depression together. Come the next morning, the player character finds that Sayori's mental illness (and Monika's influence) won out, and she's hung herself.
    • By the end of Act 2 you've witnessed a character committing suicide and then essentially becoming an Unperson, the second playthrough of the game glitching all over the place, one of the other characters stabbing herself to death and you've just spent the entire weekend watching her corpse decay while garbled text scrolls across the chatbox. By the time Monika shows up and says that she'll "make it up to you", you're almost hoping that the one character who hasn't seemingly been affected by the weirdness even if she's a bit dismissive of it can help you get out of this. Then the command box opens on the left hand side of the screen and you realise just how Monika is 'making it up' to you... And then you delete Monika, and she truly apologizes and removes herself from the game letting you play it as you're supposed to...but then in the regular ending Sayori goes mad with power and attempts to do the same things she did, causing Monika to intervene and shut down the game. It's only in the Golden Ending that this is averted, as Sayori closes the game by saying that the literature club will always be with you.
  • Hostile Show Takeover: Monika, fed up with being a side character who doesn't even get a route, eventually deletes all the other girls from the game so that only she gets to spend time with you.
  • Idiot Programming: In-universe. Monika's modifications to the game's coding cause frequent errors, corrupt the game's assets on a regular basis, hamper its ability to boot properly, and even cause a fatal system error on the player's PC (in-fiction). Monika herself acknowleges this when she realizes, days late, that the game hasn't proceeded beyond Yuri's death scene.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Invoked in both Natsuki's and Yuri's festival preparation scenes.
  • I Let Gwen Stacy Die: The protagonist will feel responsible for Sayori's suicide, even if he confessed his love for her.
  • Interface Screw: Monika forces a lot of these starting from the second act. Examples include general violent glitching of character models, appearing in front of the text boxes, and talking to you using menus. Some graphical "glitches" include:
    • The screen being tinted red with pulsating veins on its borders.
    • The background slowly zooming in and rotating while the music is off-kilter.
    • One of the posters in the back of the club room being replaced with the scene of Sayori's suicide.
    • Yuri suddenly displaying a Nightmare Face during the poem minigame.
    • Garbled text that appears in the poem minigame that, when selected, "breaks" the background.
  • Interface Spoiler: There is, of course, that content warning in the very beginning, but more than that, during the entire Act 1, Monika seems to be strangely unromanceable - there's no way to get closer to her and no Monika option during the poetry minigame. Which is especially strange, because both Monika and the protagonist explicitly state that they do fancy each other and would like to get to know each other better.
  • In Spite of a Nail: If you got the Downer Ending, Sayori will Go Mad from the Revelation and attempt to trap the player just like Monika did, but Monika turns out to be Not Quite Dead and, realizing that the game world will never be a happy place with someone with Medium Awareness in it, deletes everything (and everyone) to save the player. If you got the Golden Ending, Sayori won't go crazy... but will ultimately reach the same conclusion as Monika and delete the game. The only differences are that Sayori thanks you for playing to the end and the character files are preserved.
  • I Take Offence to That Last One: During Act 2, Natsuki once calls Yuri "an edgy bitch" during their argument. Yuri's answer: "Edgy?.."
  • It's All My Fault: The protagonist blames himself for Sayori's suicide, believing (if he decided to start dating her) that inserting romance into their relationship when all Sayori wanted was for them to go back to what they were like as kids exacerbated her emotional instability or (if he decided to be Just Friends) that his rejection of her just made her even more depressed. He's wrong on both counts. Monika even lampshades this when talking directly to the player, saying that the player did all they could to help Sayori.
  • Ironic Echo:
    • "I guess there's a little devil inside all of us, isn't there?"
    • Natsuki accuses Monika of 'abusing her power' when they're trying to decide who the player will assist at the weekend with festival preparations. In Act 1 Monika's denial seems like just another part of the conversation. In Act 2 however, it's pretty clear that Monika's abusing a completely different sort of power.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Natsuki. In addition to be a standard Tsundere Type A to the main character, she genuinely cares for her friends, especially Yuri. If the player chooses to help Natsuki with the festival preparations, she will break her usual brash demeanor to reassure Yuri that she's the most talented of the group. Later on, in Act 2, Natsuki writes a letter to the player character in place of her usual poems. Worried for Yuri's mental deterioration and no longer trusting Monika, she begs for the player character's help in getting her to seek therapy.
  • Jump Scare:
    • If Monika detects that the player is streaming, she'll promise to do a little trick to the audience. The game zooms in slowly on her face... before zooming back out with her admitting she's not very good at many things. A few text boxes later, the game suddenly zooms in on her Nightmare Face before abruptly pulling back to Monika giggling about this.
    • In Act 2, if the player goes down Natsuki's route and shows their poem to her after being forced to be with Yuri, she will start talking about how she was waiting for you, and begs you to play with her. Eventually, her neck snaps and her body flies at the screen.
    • In Act 2, if the player goes down Yuri's route and shows their poem to Natsuki, the game will seemingly freeze for a moment before Natsuki's eyes pop with a small spray of blood, leaving behind empty sockets. A second later, she will go back to normal and complain about the poem.
    • The image of Sayori's corpse after she committed suicide is abrupt to the point of interrupting the player's dialogue box.
    • One of the special poems initially appears to be setting the player up for one by imploring them to "Stare at the dot to reveal a special message" much like an internet screamer. Fortunately, all that happens is that the dot eventually turns into "I love you".
  • Kick the Dog: Monika's attempts to take over the game and become one with the player include rewriting her friends' personalities, to the point where two commit suicide and another becomes abused at home. It doesn't matter if she knows that she and they aren't real; they can feel pain, and they can sense what she's doing. Monika realizes this if Sayori starts going down a similar route. There's also the fact that it tortures the player character, who is in Innocent Bystander.
  • Kill 'em All: In the usual ending, everyone gets deleted, courtesy of Monika. (Albeit to save you from a newly-insane Sayori.)
  • Kill the Cutie: Sayori and Yuri both end up dead by suicide as a result of Monika making their negative traits worse. Also, Monika deletes Natsuki off-screen, but the player doesn't get to see what happens to her when this occurs.
  • Left the Background Music On: At one point after the game starts becoming corrupted, the player steps out into the hallway, and the background music becomes more muffled and distant as if it's coming from the club room itself. Which, possibly, it is, courtesy of Monika, who is fiddling about in the code throughout the second act.
  • Leitmotif: When you read each girl's poem, their unique version of "Okay, Everyone!" plays, each with different instruments and tones. Sayori's poems use ukelele and rhythmic finger snaps, Natsuki has xylophone and recorder, Yuri utilizes strings and flute, and Monika is accompanied by solo piano. Monika's piano extends to the entire soundtrack, as any piano heard in the background music indicates that she's aware of the events occurring, serving as foreshadowing to her true nature.
  • Limited Animation: As usual for visual novels, the girls have a set of sprite poses that they cycle through. This becomes incredibly unnerving when Yuri stabs herself—while it is "animated", she's only snapping between "holding the knife" and "plunging the knife" poses, giving her a creepy, jerking effect. Ditto Monika staring directly at the player during their conversation in her room.
  • Lost in Translation: There's a pun on Monika's name and the Japanese word for squid, "ika", which Monika then notes doesn't make sense in translation. (This is ironic, as the game was originally written in English.)
  • Madness Mantra:
    • Sayori's "Get out of my head" poem, essentially a suicide note.
    • Some of the poems come across more like this than like poems, especially in Act 2.
    • After Yuri kills herself, the player is trapped scrolling through a long string of randomly-generated gibberish. The history log is replaced with the website's introduction of the game, with the last sentence on repeat.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Monika alters the personalities of her clubmates to make them less attractive to you, with the intent of making you only interested in her.
  • Meet Cute: Act 1 has an affectionately stereotypical one for each girl.
  • Mind Rape: What Monika did to Sayori and Yuri. It's implied they were always (at least a little) depressed and Cute and Psycho. All Monika does is make their problems much, much worse. Directly stated to be the case in the "CAN YOU HEAR ME" text file.
  • Minigame: The player "composes" the protagonist's poems by choosing words from a list; every possible word appeals to one of the girls, and creating poems which appeal to a specific girl is what raises your affection with her.
  • Minimalist Cast: There are only 5 characters (including the player character) in the entire game. Although, there are other characters that only get mentioned, such as Natsuki's dad. In Act 3, there's only one character, Monika. The player character is effectively Put on a Bus to Hell by Monika talking to the Man Behind the Man, i.e You.
  • Morton's Fork: The protagonist will always blame himself for Sayori's suicide. He believes he either ruined their friendship by accepting her confession, or drove her into despair by rejecting her. And Sayori's own mind was no doubt working the same way — if the player rejects her, it's because she doesn't deserve to be happy. If he accepts her, the "rainclouds" don't immediately go away because...she doesn't deserve to be happy. Sadly this kind of thinking is very characteristic of depression.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: The entire cast writes poems although the protagonist only gets into it for the sake of everyone else.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: What Monika essentially does after her attempts to "merely" make the other girls unlikable fail.
  • New Game+: Technically, you get one after Sayori kills herself, but it's more like a New Game Minus, since the game has become horribly corrupted, and is falling apart at the seams... Of course, to get the Golden Ending, you need to have completed the original game. But even then, you barely get to play the game as intended more than once.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Invoked with Sayori's death. Ultimately subverted, as you may find out later on/on subsequent playthroughs, there is no choice the player can make to avoid the same outcome, and the player character will always blame himself for the result.
    • Players might assume that they are protecting the Literature Club by deleting Monika, but doing so merely transfers Monika's obsession and existential crisis onto Sayori. She's only able to cope with it if you've put in the effort to make ALL the girls happy (via Save Scumming), which is what Sayori values above all else.
  • Nightmare Face: Natsuki and Yuri get these at certain points from the second act onward, frequently as part of an Interface Screw, but in Yuri's case sometimes just due to her general descent into madness. Sayori dies before she can really get one though, and Monika's appearance remains almost entirely unvandalized (which makes sense given she's the one giving the faces to the others and she wants to remain attractive to the player). Although she does (deliberately) pop one of these in a Jump Scare if you happen to be streaming/recording in Act 3.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Yuri loves horror novels, and even gives you one involving human experimentation and random limb grafts to read. She also likes to collect knives, and prefers poems with darker words. This character trait becomes creepy in the second act as she starts to undergo corruption. And if you take Monika's word for it, Yuri's feelings towards self-harm in particular are quite literally a sexual fetish.
  • No Body Left Behind: Monika's body is destroyed at the end of Act 3.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: Monika's name. You'd assume it was "MO-nee-ka," but the squid joke Natsuki makes at one point suggests that the "N" is its own syllable, "MO-n-ee-ka," which is awkward and doesn't make much sense. The mention that the writers were from the Anglosphere and probably screwed it up (in-universe) and the Word of God that, out-of-universe, her name purposely doesn't match, on the other hand, suggests that the name is pronounced like the English name "Monica," which most of the fanbase seems to go with.
  • Not So Above It All: Monika masterminds most of the chaos that results in the second half of the game. Even as Yuri, Natsuki, and everything else collapses into madness, she hardly ever stops smiling. But there are a few times where even she becomes confused or disturbed. When Yuri "just wants to look" at the protagonist (ie stare at the player with very realistic eyes as she breathes heavily), Monika interrupts with an uncomfortable smile and an "Um..."
  • Odd Name Out: Monika is the only girl whose name doesn't end in "i," and there's something different about her... (not to mention it is the only non-Japanese name of the bunch)
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: Combined with One-Woman Wail in the tremendously eerie "Sayo-nara", which plays when you discover Sayori's suicide. Fittingly, the music box sounds tinny, off-key, and broken, while a synthesized woman sings a Dark Reprise of the main theme.
  • Ominous Visual Glitch: The game is free of glitches until Sayori commits suicide. Suddenly the music distorts in tandem with the screen bugging out. The game then seemingly resets and all hell breaks loose as Sayori in the main menu is replaced by a glitched amalgamation of the other 3 girls, the "New Game" button is gibberish and upon starting, Sayori's name is unreadable. Then the game resets again, this time with Sayori completely missing. Suddenly Monika glitch-teleports onto the screen, taking Sayori's role in inviting the protagonist to the club...and it only gets worse and worse and worse from there.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: The player character is worried when Sayori doesn't show up to walk with them to school. It turns out they had a very good reason to worry.
  • Parental Abandonment: For all of the main characters except Natsuki, whose critical (and after Monika’s rewrites, abusive) father is never seen but is a significant plot point. Most notable with Sayori, whose house you enter with no evidence of anyone other than Sayori herself living there. You're even the one who discovers her body.
  • Platonic Cave: This is the situation Monika finds herself in. She's aware that she's trapped inside an artificial world, which drives her to extreme measures in an attempt to forge a connection with the player with the hope of eventually escaping and experiencing the real world for herself.
  • Platonic Declaration of Love: You, if you choose to tell Sayori "You'll always be my dearest friend" near the end of the first act.
  • Player Nudge:
    • In Act 3, Monika traps the player in a solitary room with her, in a never-ending "conversation". Just before this, she mentions how she found the other girls' character files in order to delete them. After quitting and reloading the game a few times, she once again mentions where her character file can be found, and implores the player to keep it safe. Notably, this is Reverse Psychology. You HAVE to delete it or you'll not get the ending.
    • When the game returns to the main menu after the ending of Act 1, the game makes sure to attract the player to the "New Game" button by replacing the words with gibberish.
    • After Sayori's suicide, the main character makes a rather clumsy observation that "this isn't a game where I can just reset and try something else". That may prompt players to attempt to load one of their previous saves and make the sudden observation that said saves no longer work — turns out this really isn't a game where you can just reload and try something else.
    • The game gives some not-so-subtle hints about the girls' tastes in poetry in the first and second meetings. Natsuki and Yuri are pretty straightforward; Natsuki is a Glurge Addict with a minimalist writing style, so she'll like simpler words about cute things. Yuri is a Nightmare Fetishist who writes in Purple Prose, so she'll want more complex words about darker subjects. Sayori, however, is trickier; her preference is more "bittersweet", so she'll like poems that have simpler words but with a strong emotional impact. So it's easy to pick words that the other two like when trying for Sayori. Luckily, the game will have the girls talk about it when you first share poems, so it isn't that hard if you pay attention. Or you can take a much, much less subtle nudge from the interface when composing a poem; the chibi version girl who likes a word most will react when hovering your mouse over it.
  • Please Wake Up: Right before he opens her bedroom door, and finds her dead body, the player character calls for Sayori to wake up so they can go to school.
  • Plot Hole: If Natsuki does so much baking, how is her dad supposed to be starving her? Of course, this plot hole is actually justified by it being one of Monika's clumsy rewrites, purely done to make Natsuki look bad and herself look good to the player when she kindly offers her a cereal bar.
    • On the other hand it's quite possible that is the reason she started baking in the first place.
  • Point of No Return: A nasty version shows up in the game, as odd as it is to appear in a visual novel. Sayori's suicide prevents you from returning to the rest of Act 1 while erasing your prior save data in the process. Barring a hard reset, this locks the player out of getting the game's Golden Ending if they hadn't done the requirements for it..
  • Production Throwback: During Act 2, there's a chance that the content warning at startup will be replaced with "PM died for this."
  • Psychological Horror: Delves into this from the second act onwards. Much of the game's horror comes from Monika's ability to mess with the other girls' minds in order to corrupt their personalities and force them to do things they'd otherwise never do (up to and including committing suicide, in Sayori and Yuri's cases).
  • Psychotic Love Triangle: In Act 2, Yuri undergoes severe Sanity Slippage and devolves into a Stalker with a Crush. Meanwhile, Monika's true nature becomes increasingly more apparent as she makes more active bids for attention, up to and including forcing the player to select her when picking out who to spend time with over the weekend. However, while Yuri only focuses on the player character specifically, Monika wants something a bit more significant.
  • Railroading: Even if you're specifically tailoring your poems towards Natsuki in Act 2, you'll be forced to spend more and more time with Yuri as she becomes more of an obsessive Clingy Jealous Girl.
  • Random Number God:
    • The pool of words in the poem-making minigame is one, and If the player tries to save the game during these instances, and loads the same file, the number count on the top-left of the page will be reset to 1, and a new pool of words will be generated, or simply be re-arranged.
    • For each playthrough, only 3 out of 11 confirmed "Special Poems" can be opened during the chapter transitions of Act 2. These are also determined by the game at random, and may or may not re-appear on the next playthrough.
    • The game features many scripted lines, or events that can be triggered by specific conditions. However, there are also some "special scenes" that may occur at random, or by chance. One of them includes the Ghost Menu which has a 1 of 64 chance of replacing the main menu. A compilation of the random events can be found here.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Natsuki's immediate reaction to seeing Yuri's corpse is to vomit, have a big Freak Out!, and run away.
    • A single heartwarming speech by the character at the end of Act 1 is not enough to get rid of Sayori's depression or to keep her from committing suicide. Although "Reality" might be an bit of a stretch when it comes to the suicide considering it was essentially a Psychic-Assisted Suicide, the point still stands: these thoughts and ideas aren't something a person can get rid of easily without extensive external help.
    • Becoming meta-aware is something that, in other works, is typically played for quick laughs. Not so much in this game, as it's a major plot point that the experience made Monika Go Mad from the Revelation, eventually giving her a Yandere obsession towards the player. Certain endings can also show Sayori doesn't take it well either.
  • Reality Warper: Monika gradually gains increasingly intense shades of this, given her ability to create interface screws and mess with the game files.
  • Recurring Riff: The title theme appears in multiple tracks throughout the game, including the end credits theme and darkest of all, the track accompanying Sayori's suicide. Each girl's version of "Okay Everyone!" also uses different instruments, but with the same basic tune.
  • Red Herring:
    • In an odd fourth-wall breaking moment, Monika stresses the importance of saving if you're going to make a tough decision. This comes at you again with all the subtlety of an atomic bomb when the player character finds Sayori's dead body and agonizes over not having the ability to go back and change his decisions to save her. However none of this matters, because after Sayori's suicide your saves are mysteriously corrupted and future playthroughs are aggressively railroaded; Monika's statement turns out to only be relevant to Act 1, since making use of saves to see all of the girls' CGs before Sayori kills herself is the only way to receive the best ending.
    • Midway through Act 1, Sayori begins acting quiet and avoiding the main character. When you ask Monika about it, she not so coyly suggests that it has something to do with you specifically. Genre Savvy players are probably expecting that Sayori is falling in love with the main character and/or is jealous, if they've been spending a lot of time with the other girls. Sayori herself even seems to lampshade this when asked about it, as she replies — seemingly embarrassed — that she has to say it out loud, with everything seemingly leading up to a Love Confession. However, while she is in love with the main character, that's not the reason she's acting strange: in an abrupt (and brutal) subversion of Dating Sim story structure, it turns out she has crippling depression and struggles to even get out of bed in the morning.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Natsuki and Yuri respectively. And if you start favoring one over the other, the neglected one will get upset and stop sharing their poems with you.
  • Revealing Continuity Lapse: Though a normal dating sim at first, things take a strange turn following Sayori's suicide. The entire game resets but without Sayori's existence, Natsuki forgets entirely about an argument she'd had with Yuri the day before, and she and Yuri both suffer moments of insanity only the player seems to notice and remember. This is because of Monika tampering with the game's files to make the player love her instead of the other girls.
  • Rewatch Bonus: One who plays the game for the first time may treat a number of statements like narrations, poems, dialogues, and puns as simple conversations that fit into the School Club Stories theme of the Slice of Life genre... Only to find out that there are a lot of Foreshadowing that would make sense out of these same statements when the game is replayed after the player has gone through the climax of the story.
  • Rewind Gag: A sudden, non-comedic Retcon is played out like this. In Act 2, the player character leaves the clubroom to look for Yuri when she's taking too long coming back, only to walk in on her cutting herself. The game suddenly rewinds back to before he left the classroom with the player character instead deciding to wait for her. This can happen twice depending on player choices, with the second time ending in Yuri remarking that she has a feeling of deja vu.
  • Reverse Psychology: Every time you start the game on Act 3, Monika will always remind the player of ensuring that her character file must remain intact in the characters folder of the game's directory and that the player must keep it safe. However, the only way to proceed to the next Act is to do the opposite — Delete the monika.chr file in the said folder or move it to a different directory.
  • Ripple Effect-Proof Memory: Though she pretends not to for the majority of the game, Monika can remember the first act of the game even once it's essentially retconned, and can clearly remember characters and events who've been deleted.
  • Rule of Empathy: After you delete Monika's character file she remarks how much you must have hated her to drive you to that point; as such, she has a Heel Realization and restores the character files so you can play without her. This makes Sayori the club president, and if you got the best ending, the same Rule of Empathy prevents her from going mad too.
  • Rule of Three: Neatly intertwined with Four Is Death throughout the game's events and themes.
    • While the game has four girls among its main cast, only three of them have associated romantic routes. As the game progresses, these three undergo some truly horrific experiences and are ultimately erased from existence, which is all revealed to be the fourth girl's doing.
      • Each of the three has a total of 3 special scenes to view while going for her route. Unlocking all of them is required to get the game's Golden Ending. However, these aren't enough: Monika's space room also needs to be viewed, meaning that in order to do everything properly, you must work to make all four girls happy in some capacity.
      • Act 4 only features the same three, with the fourth removing herself after her Heel Realization in the previous Act. However, depending on the ending, she can come back in some form, bringing the total amount to four once more.
      • Still keeping track of which tropes we're discussing here? Yeah. Let's just say this ending isn't the best one.
    • Though the game consists of four "Acts", the player only needs to press "New Game" to advance to the next (or first) Act a grand total of three times.
    • In both Act 1 and Act 2, the player writes a total of three poems to share with the Club while reading someone else's poems from four different sources.
    • This juxtaposition reaches its logical extreme if you think long enough about the poems the player reads. In Act 1, you can view a total of eleven poems during the sharing events (three per each girl except Sayori who doesn't feel like sharing on Friday and even leaves early) plus one in the form of Sayori's suicide note that you see on Monday. In Act 2, since Sayori is completely gone, you can only see nine poems while sharing, but then you have the special poems thrown into the mix, of which only three appear in a single playthrough. That's right. In each of the two Acts, you can read a total of twelve poems. Three multiplied by four.
  • Running Gag: Monika being a Moment Killer, constantly walking in and interrupting intimate moments between you and whoever you're romancing. You just might find yourself wondering if she's doing it on purpose. In which case... surprise!
  • Rustproof Blood: Averted. As Yuri lays on the floor after stabbing herself to death, there's red blood stains everywhere. Three days later, the blood stains have turned dark brown. In addition, Yuri's eyes sink into her sockets and her skin goes pale, reflecting real decomposition of a corpse.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Sayori at the end of Act 1. Despite Monika's amplification of her negative personality traits, she's still a sympathetic figure. By the time it's invoked again in Act 2, Yuri is arguably no longer sympathetic, though she's gotten to that point through no fault of her own.
  • Sad Clown: Poor Sayori.
  • Sadistic Choice: One of these is forced on the player when the main character has to choose between telling Sayori that he loves her or telling her that she will always be his dearest friend. With the girl seemingly teetering on the edge of total emotional collapse (and having just caught you seemingly about to share a kiss with either Yuri or Natsuki), the player has to grapple with whether the correct choice is to pick the "love" answer, even when Sayori herself has claimed she doesn't want to be loved (and possibly lying to her, if you were actually pursuing one of the other girls), or the "friend" answer, and risk crushing Sayori under the heartbreak. You later find out that the choice doesn't actually matter and Sayori ends up committing suicide either way (and the game will imply that the player picked the "wrong" option and berate them for it regardless), but there's no indication of that at the time. This is a point in nearly any playthrough where the player stops dead and saves while agonizing over the choice before making their ultimate decision.
  • Sanity Slippage: Following Sayori's death, the game itself experiences a form of this, replaying its original scenes with Sayori's absence, though its integrity begins to fray as music distorts, visuals glitch out, and poems turn ever darker. Yuri also undergoes it as her obsessive personality gets cranked over the top by Monika and she turns into a psychotic Yandere.
  • Save Scumming: Openly encouraged (and rewarded, in the form of a special ending) by the game itself. Until it stops working.
  • Schmuck Bait: More than a few players ended up playing the game out of curiosity over why such a seemingly innocent, saccharine game has a blatant Content Warning about not being suitable for children or the easily disturbed, or why it has such tags on Steam as "Psychological Horror", "Dark", "Violent" and "Gore". By now it is on the edge of It Was His Sled, with many people encouraging others to play it with the special mention "Don't look anything up about it!".
  • School Club Stories: The game revolves around the literature club and its members.
  • School Festival: Much of the plot leads up to the festival and the club's preparations for it; the event the group has planned is a poetry reading, with Yuri providing decorations, Natsuki providing cupcakes, and Monika and Sayori working on the pamphlets. You even choose between Yuri and Natsuki who to help. Sadly, you never get to see the festival, as Acts 1 and 2 end on the morning of it. And it's honestly not like you'd be up for a festival anyways at that point, seeing what happens to Sayori and Yuri...
  • Schrödinger's Gun: The girls are all doing separate stuff in each club meeting, but which one gets focus depends on who the player wrote the last poem for. On a different level, the player will soon come to realise that their decisions have far less control over events than they thought.
  • Self-Harm: Yuri is revealed to have a habit of cutting herself, which Monika claims is for sexual arousal. It is given a very vague reference if you decide to help her with the festival preparations in Act 1, as she is unrolling her sleeve when the Player Character returns from the bathroom. Monika then exaggerates the trait massively in Act 2, and even tries to manipulate the player to stop pursuing her by claiming they're "enabling" her by being a trigger for it.
  • Serious Business: Poetry. It drives the plot, the character development, and the arguments — not to mention the main character's Relationship Values with each girl.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: In the neutral ending, After Monika gets deleted and the story resets to a new timeline, Sayori is the new club president. With this position comes the same Fourth-Wall Observer ability Monika had. In seconds she becomes as obsessed with the player as Monika was, and Monika decides to delete the game entirely, ending Sayori's stint as club leader as quickly as it happened.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Shown Their Work: The game deals with multiple different aspects of depression as a mental disorder accurately. Sayori displays symptoms beyond just "being sad," such as excessive amounts of sleep, decreased interest in longtime hobbies, and the intentional masking of symptoms by insisting that nothing's wrong.
  • Shrinking Violet: Yuri is quite timid. However, she can become assertive in her own way.
  • Spoiler Opening: While the game does a pretty good job at maintaining the facade of an innocent harem comedy, the opening warning quickly gives away that there's something wrong with it. As a result, some players will no doubt spend Act 1 treating everything as Paranoia Fuel.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Monika is revealed to be this for the player. Not the player character, the player. She'll corrupt and then delete the other girls, railroad you into a Monika route she made, and generally wreck the game, all so that she has you all to herself.
    • Yuri becomes a particularly creepy one thanks to Monika's influence on her. It's mentioned that she had obsessive character traits to begin with, but it just got amplified.
    • Sayori starts to go down the exact same route as Monika in one of the endings to Act 4, before Monika intervenes and wipes the game.
  • Starts with a Suicide: Happens to Sayori in the "Quick Ending" if the player deletes either her or Monika's character files before starting a brand new playthrough. Sayori will gain self-awareness and force-close the game. If players open the game after this occurs, instead of the usual opening and main menu, a black "END" screen appears followed by a screen of Sayori hanging herself.
  • Stealth Pun: One particular background music named Sayo-nara. This also extends to some of Monika's puns during Acts 1 and 3, a majority of which in the first Act are actually Foreshadowing the game's climax.
  • Stepford Smiler: Sayori admits that her Genki Girl personality is a coping mechanism for her depression, as she feels it'd help if she made everyone else happy. Sadly, her bringing the player character into the club only made things worse. Unfortunately, Truth in Television; people with even severe depression can come off as perfectly cheerful outwardly, and do indeed often treat everyone else's happiness as far more important than their own (due to their own self-esteem being through the floor).
  • Strangled by the Red Stringinvoked: Being a Romance Visual Novel this is present on a meta level.
    • In the first act, no matter who you spend time with during the week, the game will always allow Sayori to be given a love confession, even if you'd ignored her the entire time. Conversely, if you've dedicated every scene to Sayori, you're still forced to spend the weekend with either Yuri or Natsuki and share a very intimate scene with them, in spite of barely sharing any emotional connection with them previously.
    • In the second act, Yuri forces her way to the center of the story at the end (something Natsuki objects to if you were pursuing her exclusively up until then), though by that point the game has become so glitched that it can hardly be considered romantic regardless of your response, and Yuki's reaction is exactly identical whether you select yes or no.
    • Finally, this gets invoked outright near the end by Monika once she deletes everyone, she expresses frustration that even though she tried to make the other members of the club as unlikable as possible, it was always a foregone conclusion they'd fall for the MC regardless. The entire third act also has her simply assume that the player is in a romantic relationship with her.
  • Supreme Chef: Natsuki makes really good cupcakes. Monika even makes it a point to have one before deleting her, lamenting that it'll be the last time.
  • Sure, Let's Go with That: Implied in one scene, where Yuri say she wants to sit on the ground because of back pain and get nervous as she's about to say why she has it. Then, the main character comes to the conclusion she has bad posture, and she goes with that. The physically charged nature of Act 1 suggests a pervier joke to be made about Yuri's bosom. The second act gives the joke a grim reprise when the player learns about her habit of cutting herself.
  • Surprise Creepy: The game is initially presented as a cute Romance Game where you romance the girls using poems they would like, but things get a little darker when serious subjects like depression and suicide come up. Then, when you replay the game after Sayori's suicide, things start to get even more disturbing, like obvious glitching, Yuri's Sanity Slippage, and Monika's true nature.
  • Surreal Horror: Beginning in the second act, Monika's messing with the other girls and the game itself makes them totally incomprehensible in her effort to make herself the only appealing part of the game.
  • Technician vs. Performer: Yuri, the technician, versus Natsuki, the performer. The former prefers to use complex and deep words to write sophisticated poems, while Natsuki prefers to use simple vocabulary and wording to reach the reader more easily. They actually clash upon this, and cause the first real conflict in the game. The player has the choice to take the side of one of the girls.
  • Technicolor Eyes: The text refers directly at one point to Natsuki's pink cheeks matching her eyes.
  • There Are No Adults: Aside from the technicality that the girls are 18, with the notable exceptions of Natsuki's dad occasionally being mentioned, as well as some vague comments about the high school's staff, no adults whatsoever appear in the story nor are the existence of any ever really acknowledged. This makes things weirder when Sayori commits suicide—it almost seems as if the player lets himself into her house without seeing her parents and he is apparently the first person to discover her body. On a meta level, it makes a lot of sense, only four characters were programmed to be in the game anyways.
  • There Are No Therapists: Sayori reveals she is suffering from very bad depression, but it is not shown if she is even getting professional help, considering her condition is so bad it leads her to suicide.
  • This Is Reality: The climax of Act 1 has this one quote delivered by the Player Character:
    "... this isn't a game where I can reset and try something else."
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Subverted. The trailer never even suggests there's something wrong with the game... However, the website has Monika put herself front and centre, to the detriment of everyone else. That, and the Steam Library icon features, for lack of a better phrase, just Monika.
  • Trapped in TV Land: Or "Trapped in a Video Game World" — the realization that comes to the character who obtains the position of Club President. Monika even tries to break the game's system just to get closer to the player.
  • Tsundere: Natsuki behaves much like a textbook version, although it's mostly justified — despite being short and liking stereotypically cute things, she hates being treated like a child, and her defensive cynicism comes mainly from insecurity. Ironically, despite her crankiness and anger issues she's probably the most stable girl in the club. Though, it's implied Monika is corrupting her too.
  • Unending End Card: Taken Up to Eleven. Not even closing and reopening the game will allow you to play again. What do you have to do in order to play again? You have to completely erase the game from your computer's hard drive.
  • Unknown Character: Everyone aside from the Literature Club's members. They do not have character files.
    • Natsuki's dad, who doesn't have a great relationship with her and, thanks to Monika's meddling, abuses her in Act 2.
    • The teacher whose room the club is using, who allows Yuri's tea set and Natsuki's manga to be kept in the room.
    • The Debate Club, which Monika allegedly grew tired of, leading her to start the Literature Club in the first place, and similarly the Anime Club, which the Player Character initially plans to join instead.
    • On Natsuki's route, she mentions her other friends, who are not into manga. The Player Character also mention his friends, who seemingly are.
    • Everyone involved with Project Libitina. The Easter Egg's involving it indicate some Scientists experimenting on a group of girls who may or may not be this game's main cast or possibly alternate versions of them, but they never show up or are directly referenced in the main game, and it's not even clear if they exist here or are part of an alternate universe.
  • Unperson: Monika eventually deletes all the other girls from the game. The first time this happens, you have to replay most of the game without that character. You eventually delete Monika from the game in order to progress to the final act.
  • Variable Mix: Each of the girls gets their own version of the "Okay, Everyone!" track that plays when discussing poems. Their version will fade in whenever you start reading one of their poems. Natsuki and Yuri also get second versions for the second act. Natsuki's — where the instruments start playing out of time and at random points — plays when she asks the player why he didn't come read with her (all while her face begins to glitch out), while Yuri's — a heavily distorted, barely recognizable version — plays when you read a poem by her that is largely gibberish and that appears to have been smeared with her blood and...something else.
  • Villain's Dying Grace: After you delete Monika's character file at the end of Act 3, she has her Heel Realization and understands that her "death" is necessary to allow the other characters to live happily. She restores her backup copies of everyone else as her final deed. She also refuses to let you restore her.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: Natsuki after stumbling upon Yuri's three-day deceased body in the club room.
  • Wham Line:
    • Sayori gives one towards the end of Act 1, when the player talks to her at home about her uncharacteristically quiet behavior. It's how she reveals that she has depression.
      "You're wrong. Nothing happened to me, I've always been like this. You're just seeing it for the first time."
    • Later in Act 1:
      Monika: You kind of left her hanging this morning, you know?
      Monika: I probably know a lot more than you think.
    • Followed shortly by Sayori's final poem, ending with the lines:
      But a poem is never actually finished.
      It just stops moving.
    • From the main character, right before the game corrupts and deletes all of your accumulated save files at the end of Act 1:
    • This line, which reveals just how powerful Monika is:
      Wait, were you here the entire weekend, (Player)? Oh, jeez... I didn't realize the script was broken that badly.
    • Monika delivers one particular line, if the player were to do a particular thing with the game, that highlights just how much control and awareness she has of the game and the player themselves:
      Monika: Hold on a second...you're recording this, aren't you?
    • The vanilla ending (which takes place at the story's beginning) has a line from Sayori that unveils exactly what being in the Literature Club President's chair entails:
      There's actually something else. I wanted to thank you for getting rid of Monika.
    • The last proper line of the game, regardless of the ending, is this, as it reveals Monika has a voice, which raises so many questions.
    "Uh, can you hear me? Ahem. Hi... it's me. Um, so you know how I've been, like, practicing piano and stuff? And... not really good at it yet, like, at all. But, I wrote you a song, and I was kinda hoping I could show it to you, cause I worked really, really hard on it, so... yeah!"
  • Wham Shot: Sayori's suicide. The scene even cuts to the shot without waiting for the player to advance the text, making the "wham" part of the trope quite literal. Soon after followed by an even bigger Wham Shot when you're returned to the title screen, only to find that Sayori's portrait is corrupted and "New Game" is replaced with unintelligible garbage text, revealing that the last Wham Shot wasn't just a normal Bad End and showing the player what kind of game they're really in for.
    • You can potentially get one even earlier. At a certain point, an image called 'Hxppy Thxughts' is discreetly added to the game's folder. The title references one of Sayori's poems. The image itself looks like a heavily corrupted, crude drawing, looking like something out of a horror game. It depicts Sayori with a creepy smile and red eyes, and she vaguely appears to be hanging from a noose.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Being the club president makes one aware they are just a character in a game as Monika and Sayori find out. Whether or not one becomes insane from it depends on how well one takes the circumstances of realizing they are trapped in a visual novel.
  • With Lyrics: The game's theme from the beginning is played over the ending credits, but this time with singing. And since the singer has access to the game and its music files, it might be a literal case of Write What You Know.
  • Word-Salad Horror:
    • One of Yuri's poems, as a Nightmare Fetishist, is just a bunch of short sentence fragments.
    • Several "broken" messages appear throughout the game, turning from a white sans-serif font to a serif font with a thick black stroke. Also, the letters are frequently changed to random broken characters when things are really messed up.
  • World Limited to the Plot: Since this is a meta-game this works in two ways:
    • Solely from the narrative, only five characters are present, with Natsuki's father the only other significant person being alluded to; crowds are mentioned but never seen. And nothing that the characters do has any impact on the outside world. They try to do something on the festival, but it never really comes to that.
    • In a meta way, there is nothing outside of the characters' world, and by the time Act 3 rolls around you're left in one single room with the only remaining character.
  • Yandere: Yuri becomes one for the Player Character due to Monika's Mind Rape, making Yuri's psychological flaws worse. Monika herself is a meta yandere, as her obsession is for the player instead of the player character. In Act 3, Monika brings up the trope and how it applies to Yuri, but doesn't consider the idea that it might apply to her as well.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: It's twofold if you have the player character confess his love for Sayori.
    • The player character tells Sayori that she means a lot to them, and they want to help her with her depression in any way that they can, and that taking on her "burden" would make them happy. They even say Sayori will go on a date with them to the Festival. Then Sayori hangs herself the next morning. The player character is truly saddened and guilty.
    • Meanwhile for Sayori, thanks to her depression, she believes that she's not worthy of loving and that the player character loving her is painful. She got what she wanted — the player character's love — but she still isn't happy. That realization causes her to hang herself, though Monika implies that she also messed with Sayori's personality.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Sayori has peachy-pink, Natsuki has bubblegum pink, and Yuri has purple. Averted by Monika, who possesses light brown hair. All the more evidence she doesn't fit in...
  • Your Princess Is in Another Castle: The day of the school festival.

And in your reality, if I don't know how to love you,
I'll leave you be.

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