Church: We don't! That's part of our charm! Quit fuckin' it up!
Red vs. Blue is a Machinima/CGI-animated military Work Com set against the background of the Halo franchise. Its creators, Rooster Teeth Productions, helped spark the whole Machinima explosion and went on to establish themselves as Fandom VIPs in the Halo community to the point of doing actual work for Bungie Studios, as well as making their videos available for purchase on Xbox Live.
Having started in 2003 and still being an ongoing work, this series is not only the longest-running episodic web series of all time, but the longest-running American sci-fi series of all time.note Credit must also be given to its legacy: the series popularized video game Machinima and was heavily influential in the development of both serialized internet fiction and internet comedy series as a whole.
Beginning as a simple comedy series, Red vs. Blue follows two military installations locked in eternal war with each other in a box canyon: the Reds and the Blues. In their next supply drop, both teams receive a new recruit each, who quickly get on their nerves. After a Snipe Hunt gone wrong ends with the Red Team's recruit capturing the Blue Team's flag, Blue Team hires a Freelancer Agent to give them an advantage... and things go downhill from there. As the running jokes and many characters begin to pile up, so starts a story that quickly develops a surprising amount of emotional depth while never forgetting its comedic roots.
The long-running story is divided into multiple story arcs, as detailed below.
- The first story arc, The Blood Gulch Chronicles (2003–2007), ran for five seasons with a total of 100 episodes (plus a short miniseries named "Out of Mind"). The first two seasons, and half of the third, are filmed in Halo, while the remaining seasons are filmed in Halo 2.
- The second story arc, The Recollection (2008–2010), is a trilogy spanning Seasons 6 to 8 (each given a unique title beginning with "Re": "Reconstruction", "Recreation" and "Revelation") and two miniseries ("Recovery One" and "Relocated"). Season 8 marks the introduction of high-budget CGI-rendered scenes in addition to the traditional Machinima-styled Halo 3 scenes.
- The third story arc, The Project Freelancer Saga (2011–2012), comprises Seasons 9 and 10, is equally divided between a prequel storyline fully animated in CGI, and the continuation of the present-day storyline. Season 9 is filmed in Halo: Reach and Season 10 is filmed in Halo 3.
- The fourth story arc, The Chorus Trilogy (2013–2015), spans Seasons 11-13, and starts out as a Breather Episode, intended to bring the series back to its more comedic roots... for a while. It uses Halo 4 assets mixed in with CGI.
- The fourteenth season (2016) consists mostly of vignettes, rather than directly continuing Season 13's story. As this season is an Anthology, it uses multiple games and animation styles depending on the story.
- The fifth story arc, The Shisno Trilogy (2017–2019), contains Seasons 15 to 17. Beginning with the originally standalone fifteenth season, it is then immediately continued by the events of the duology The Shisno Paradox and Singularity. It's filmed using Halo 5: Guardians, with CGI and footage from other games mixed in.
- Season 18, Zero (2020), follows a new cast of characters and focuses on SHATTER SQUAD, who are hunting down a crime syndicate leader named Zero, who is after the Ultimate Power. While central character models are still based on the Halo franchise, the season is filmed entirely with CGI, and features environments and several characters using weapons along with fighting monsters not featured in the Halo games, instead utilizing assets from Unreal Engine's store, including monster designs from the cancelled game Paragon and weapons and character models from Ying Pei Games. In a revival of sorts of the miniseries, the show was followed by a sitcom-like series with the season's cast, Family Shatters (2021), before moving onto Season 19 (2023) - which won't follow Shatter Squad.
- Season 19, Restoration (2023/24), was announced at RTX 2023 and is marketed as the final season of Red vs. Blue. Notably, many members of the original cast are returning, with Burnie Burns returning to write the last season and Matt Hullum returning to direct, as well as series regulars Gus Sorola and Geoff Ramsay also making reappearances.
Running alongside the normal series are also the recurring Red vs. Blue: Public Service Announcements (PSAs) which are basically just the cast goofing around as Animated Actors and are made in different games depending on era. A Fourth-Wall Mail Slot show filmed in Halo Infinite and known as Red vs. Blue: QvsA ran from August–December 2022.
The series can be viewed at the Rooster Teeth website.(Until 2023, the series was also available on Youtube.) New seasons air on RT's website, with FIRST members having access to episodes a week in advance. Most seasons have home video releases (initially on DVD, later on Blu-Ray as well), and can be purchased on iTunes and Amazon Prime. The series made a televised debut on the El Rey Network in late 2015.
A series guidebook was published in 2015, titled Red vs. Blue: The Ultimate Fan Guide and compiling information relating to the first thirteen seasons.
Has an expansive character sheet here.
WARNING: As of Season 15, episodes will be released to Rooster Teeth FIRST members one week before the public. Beware of spoilers for episodes that haven't been publicly released.
Do you ever wonder why these tropes are here?
- 24-Hour Armor: Very few characters remove even a piece of their power armor, making almost every single character The Faceless.
- Action Figure Speech: Naturally, given everyone wears helmets and never take them off, with few few exceptions. At first only through the Head Bob, and when animation was incorporated some gesturing was added (especially in Zero, due to having to animate straight through the Unreal Engine).
- An Aesop:
- Forgiveness is a major moral throughout the whole series by the end of Red vs. Blue: The Recollection.
- Letting go of loved ones is a theme in both Season 8 and 9 - Mostly Church letting go of Tex, but also Caboose letting go of Church.
- Season 10 has one given by Carolina.Carolina: Church, you need to let go. Your past doesn't define who you are. It just gives you the starting point for who you're going to be.
- The importance of a Heroic Sacrifice (even if the person committing the sacrifice will never know if their actions ever actually succeeded or not) is repeatedly emphasized in The Chorus Trilogy, along with getting people to sit down and just talk their problems out instead of always resorting to violence.
- Throughout Season 15, The Shisno Paradox, and Singularity, there's a recurrent emphasis on how one's actions have far-reaching consequences.
- A.I. Is a Crapshoot: A recurring theme. Key examples are Omega, Sigma, and Gamma.
- All Women Hate Each Other: Church says "Chicks can't share anything, not even an apartment."
- And the Adventure Continues: The Blood Gulch Chronicles ended with dialogue mirroring the very first episode. Reconstruction and Season 10 both end with the Reds and Blues returning to bases in a box canyon to have more zany adventures. After all they went through - all the crazy things that happened, the people who died, everything - life was going to go on, the same way it had before.
- Arc Fatigue: Invoked in the present day moments of Season 9. Church is trying to re-enact the events of Season 1 to draw Tex out, and it mostly consists of standing around and waiting for stuff to happen. Season 11 too as the Reds and Blues wait for rescue, and thus return to their bickering ways.
- Arc Words:
- For both the series as a whole and The Blood Gulch Chronicles in particular, there's "You ever wonder why we're here?". It also serves as both a Brick Joke and Chekhov's Boomerang several times over.
- Courtesy of The Recollection Trilogy, there's "Memory is the key."
- Lampshaded in Episode 6 of Season 8.Epsilon-Delta: Remember: Memory is the key.
Caboose: What? I thought we were done with that part!
- And further parodied in Season 10.Church: Proximity is the key.
Tucker: I thought memory was the key?
Caboose: Oh yeah, and the sword, the sword is a key too. ... We should probably get a key ring.
- Lampshaded in Episode 6 of Season 8.
- For The Project Freelancer Saga, there's "Don't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes."
- During The Chorus Trilogy, there's both "You just have to try" and "What do you fight for?".
- Season 15 has "Every action has an equal and opposite reaction."
- Both The Shisno Paradox and Singularity have "paradox" (appropriately enough).
- Armor Is Useless: Zig-Zagged. The characters constantly wear suits of power armor that are said to be "state of the art" and "designed to deflect bullets and absorb explosions". While the characters often take a lot of abuse and remain operational, they equally often get hurt by a single stray bullet or even a straight-up punch. You could try to find some kind of pattern to it, but you would be better off not thinking about it too much.
- Armed Farces: Especially in the early seasons.Church: Holy crap, who is running this army?!?
- Art Evolution: As new Halo games are released with improved graphical capabilities, the series frequently changes and adapts its engine and art style.
- The first two and a half seasons of the Blood Gulch Chronicles use the original Halo: Combat Evolved engine, and for the second half of Season 3 until the end of Season 5, the Halo 2 engine is used. This shift was justified with the explanation that the cast had allegedly traveled to the future. Marathon's engine is also used briefly during a Season 3 subplot to represent the past.
- Regarding the Blood Gulch Chronicles, it's particularly prevalent once the tenth anniversary led to The Remake with the PC versions of Halo and Halo 2 (both are officially on YouTube, the original on RT's channel and the remasters in the Red vs Blue one).
- The entire Recollection Trilogy (Seasons 6-8) uses the Halo 3 engine.
- The biggest example of Animation Bump is the sporadic introduction of sequences fully animated in CGI starting in Season 8 and continuing on throughout the rest of the series (barring Season 11, which was made exclusively in machinima).
- The Project Freelancer Saga uses many different styles. The extensive flashback arc throughout both seasons is animated completely in CGI. The present day storyline of Season 9 uses Halo: Reach, but since the storyline takes place inside the Epsilon Unit, the subsequent season returns to Halo 3. Live action footage is even used briefly in Season 10 for the Director's log of his last moments with Allison. Finally, the Halo 4 engine is used starting in the final scene of Season 10 and continuing throughout all of The Chorus Trilogy. Come Season 15, and Halo 5: Guardians is used.
- Starting with Season 14, the older games are either on PC versions (Halo and Halo 2 - the latter is easy to spot because the characters always have the team emblem in the shoulder) or in the higher definition Master Chief Collection.
- Played with concerning Delta's avatar. Whenever he is shown, he appears as a Halo: Combat Evolved Spartan, no matter where and in which season he appears in.
- While it still uses assets based on the Halo franchise, Red vs. Blue Zero is not only the first season to not be filmed in a Halo game, but also the first in the Unreal Engine, using assets from both Paragon (2016) and Ying Pei Games.
- Artifact Title: The Reds and Blues don't really fight each other after Season 5 excluding inside the Epsilon unit in Season 9 and at Crash Site Bravo in Season 11.
- Artificial Intelligence: Many over the course of the series, almost all of which are named for Greek letters. They share a common origin.
- Backported Development: Whenever there's a flashback set during or before Season 1, Caboose and Sarge will have their current voices instead of talking the way they did when the show started.
- Badass Crew: Several levels had to be taken and it's sometimes obscured by their stupidity, but by Seasons 8 through 10, the Blood Gulch Crew most definitely count. True, they mainly succeed through a combination of sheer luck and being severely underestimated but it doesn't matter how they kick your ass - They can and they will.
- Beyond the Impossible: Given that more often than not the show operates on Rule of Funny, sometimes it happens, such as Lopez operating a machine gun and building robots while reduced to a head, a skull winning a question and answer session, and Sister's... well, let Grif do the talking:Listen, once when we were kids, we went ice skating, and she fell through the ice. She was under there for three hours, and when they pulled her out, not only was she still alive, she was pregnant. If you can explain that to me, I'll believe you when you tell me she's dead.
- Big Bad: It varies based on the story arc. However, the Director of Project Freelancer Dr. Leonard Church, A.I. fragment Sigma, and the UNSC Oversight Sub-Committee Chairman/CEO of Charon Industries Malcolm Hargrove are all the Greater Scope Villains for the whole series.
- The Blood Gulch Chronicles: O'Malley/Omega, along with Freelancer Agent Wyoming and his A.I. assistant Gamma/Gary.
- The Recollection: The Meta, though with the benefit of hindsight, Sigma is the real villain.
- The Project Freelancer Saga: The Director of Project Freelancer, Sigma, and the "Insurrectionist Leader".
- The Chorus Trilogy: The mercenaries Locus and Felix, both of them on behalf of Malcolm Hargrove.
- Season 15: Mark Temple, The Leader of the Blues and Reds.
- The Shisno Paradox and Singularity: Chrovos and Genkins, though the latter becomes The Starscream and usurps Chrovos' position as the Big Bad by the end of the storyline.
- Zero: Zero and his Viper Syndicate.
- Big Bad Ensemble: The entire series is caused by the combined actions of the Director (for starting up Project Freelancer), Sigma (for causing Project Freelancer's downfall), and the Chairman (for being against Project Freelancer). Referenced in The Chorus Trilogy when the Reds and Blues suspect it has something to do with Wash or Carolina because their organization tends to be the cause of their problems, one way or another. Their suspicion turns out to be correct, if more indirectly than usual.
- Broad Strokes: The series generally treats Halo canon like this, often following the generalities and discarding it only whenever it would stand in the way of the plot/a joke. For example, while the UNSC is still the main governing body of humanity in both works, Red vs. Blue has their headquarters located somewhere in the American state of Wyoming whereas Halo has their headquarters located in Sydney, Australia.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: The Blood Gulch Crew have slowly grown into this role over the years, especially by the end of Season 13 where they have most definitely become proper soldiers, albeit ones with very quirky and unconventional behavior. Their take-down of Felix is a great example of when you either A, underestimate them, or B, try to apply a soldier's tactics when dealing with these guys.
- Calling Shotgun: A Running Gag between Simmons and Grif. Grif usually wins, except when winning will sometimes actually be a bad thing (courtesy of Donut), in which case, Simmons will win.Simmons: Shotgun!
Grif: Shotgun! Fuck!
Donut: Shotgun's lap!
- Central Theme: Overall, there's The Power of Friendship, forgiveness, and letting go of the past and moving on from trauma. Each story arc also has some more specific examples:
- The Blood Gulch Chronicles has the inevitability of change.
- The Recollection has the importance of memory and the value of humanity.
- The Project Freelancer Saga has "saying goodbye", obsession, revenge, and family.
- The Chorus Trilogy has sacrifice, dehumanization, faith, and communication.
- Finally, Season 15, The Shisno Paradox, and Singularity all have actions having consequences and learning to live with them along with trust, betrayal, and regret.
- Cerebus Retcon: May be the poster child for this trope. Harsher in Hindsight applies to previous seasons as the writers appear to be trying to one up themselves on reinterpreting a surreal piece of comedic fluff into a dramatic war story.
- Cerebus Rollercoaster: While the general narrative has grown gradually darker and more complex as the seasons have gone by, the series is not at all shy about dipping into stretches of comedy and drama on a whim.
- As an example, Season 4 drops most of the plot elements from the third season, while Out of Mind (the miniseries that takes place chronologically concurrent) is more of a traditional revenge tale with Tex, York, and the Delta A.I. as the central focus.
- After the very dramatic Reconstruction (Season 6), its followup miniseries and Recreation (Season 7) are vastly more comedy-focused until the last 5 episodes of the latter. After the Freelancer arc that forms a increasingly dark and serious storyline in Seasons 6-10.
- Season 11 - while mostly a comedic throwback to The Blood Gulch Chronicles - also contains several moments that would set up important plot points for the storyline and acknowledges character relationships with the occasional serious scene. Seasons 12 and 13 are concerned with a genuinely serious war story, but with the traditional quirky angle that has a lot of humor that doubles as a way to quickly give characterization to the new cast of characters.
- Season 14, being an anthology, fluctuates, but most of its vignettes are comedic instead of dramatic, and as much of it is standalone or even non-canon, very light on plot.
- Season 15 largely goes back to the surreal comedy, with the seriousness only kicking halfway through as the villainous plot is revealed. Season 16 is the same, going on a Denser and Wackier route that only becomes more serious once a still-not fully-recovered Washington gets involved. Season 17 cheerfully indulges the series' surreal humor, but comes across as much more serious than both 15 and 16 due to it being more plot-oriented.
- Season 18 is less comedic because it focuses more on the action scenes, and thus leaves less space for quips and such.
- Character Focus: While the ensemble nature is never dropped, some characters get extra attention during certain arcs.
- During The Blood Gulch Chronicles, it's Church, though Tex is the main protagonist of the Out of Mind miniseries.
- During both Recovery One and Reconstruction, it's Wash.
- During Recreation, it's Caboose.
- During Revelation, it's Epsilon.
- During The Project Freelancer Saga, it's both Carolina and Epsilon.
- During Season 11 of The Chorus Trilogy, Wash is given the focus again. Season 13 has Epsilon regain the lion's share of the narrative focus. However, Tucker overall gets the most development over the course of the entire story arc, with him as the main character of Season 12.
- Season 15 has Dylan Andrews, with her directly driving the plot as she first finds and then goes along with the Reds and Blues. Grif also gets a significant focus during the second half of the season.
- The Shisno Paradox has Grif and, to a lesser extent, Donut.
- Finally, Donut stars as the main character of Singularity, with Wash eventually getting a significant portion of the story as well.
- Chekhov's Gun: Plot elements will often be introduced as a throw-away line or background event, then elaborated on as part of the main plot in a later season one or two years later. Grif lampshades this as he tells the Chorus rebels the story of how they defeated the Meta... but considering how he tried using this to justify his asking for a hammock (or human-slingshot), he definitely had lazier motives.
- Classical Anti-Hero: The Reds and Blues are all seriously flawed individuals who spend most of their time bickering with each other, but they still prove to be competent should push come to shove.
- Cliffhanger: All seasons but 5, 6, 8, 10, 14, 15, and 17 end on a big hook for the follow-up (the Bolivian Army Ending of 13 in particular is so strong that RT struggled on how to pick up, leading to the following being an anthology instead of continuing the story; they also chose to never depict how things actually went afterwards). A few Wham Episodes and just about every chapter of Singularity also ends on a perilous or thought-provoking moment that makes viewers anxious for more.
- Cluster F-Bomb: The series is rife with it. The fifth season's DVD acknowledges and has fun with this. One of the features is a "Previously On Red Vs. Blue", which contains every single swear in the series up to the Pelican crashing... and lasts over a minute and a half. If one was made of all seventeen seasons and the mini-series, it would probably be a good six or seven minutes long.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: All of the characters shown in armor have completely different colors to help differentiate between them, the exceptions being North and South Dakota (North's armor is a darker purple than South's), Carolina and Tucker (Tucker's armor is more green compared to Carolina's), and Tucker and Butch Flowers, the person whom Tucker got his armor from. For the longest time, many people thought Grif's armor was yellow, until Sister (whose armor really is yellow) settled the matter. It's a lot easier to see that his armor is orange when they stand next to each other.
- Comedic Sociopathy: The Blood Gulch Crew are usually apathetic or even outright pleased about the rampant danger their allies often end up looking into, which regularly degenerates into teammates casually insulting each other. Whenever one of them is seriously injured, however, their compatriots are horrified, moving away from this mindset above a surface level banter says much about their Character Development. Compare how the Reds and Blues act towards each other in Season 1 to the final act of The Chorus Trilogy: If it weren't for the fact that they're keeping their armor colors and core personalities, they're almost unrecognizable.
- Compilation Movie: Each season gets one, complete with Hilarious Outtakes. Inverted starting with Reconstruction. Each season is created as a movie, then gets split into individual episodes for serialization. The complete, original movie is then released for purchase.
- Corrupt Quartermaster: The Reds repeatedly put layabout Grif in charge of their ammo, a task he never performs. Eventually, they expand Simmons' duties to "bringing extra ammo for when Grif forgets." However, when Grif and Simmons are sent to a new base (where Grif is in charge), he actually sells all their ammo to the Blues.
- Crapsack World: Of the comedic kind, where essentially the main characters are either jerks, idiots, or both, to the point where it's a coping mechanism for the Forever Wars, evil organizations orchestrating them, and little-to-no idealism the world forces them all to fight against.
- Credits Gag: The crew's families get special credits - at first, the children were under "Gripes", and then along with spouses/parents/pets under "Security" - and Revelation has some friends as "Wardrobe Department" (the most recognizable name is Andrew Panton, who appeared in some Achievement Hunter videos).
- Dark Reprise: Twice there were somber and piano-driven remakes of songs featuring singer Meredith Hagan - "Contact Redux" in the Season 13 credits (of "Contact", the song from the Season 11 credits - and source of the riff that opens The Chorus Trilogy episodes) and "Blood Gulch Blue" in the Season 17 finale (of the original theme of the show, "Blood Gulch Blues").
- Death as Comedy: A few of them, starting with the very first death of the series, as Church is team-killed by a tank operated by Caboose. Other highlights include poor Private Jimmy being beaten to death with his own skull by Tex, Sarge (while possessed by Church) being shot in the head by Caboose, Captain Butch Flowers dying from an allergic reaction to aspirin, the FH57 Reds blowing themselves up, Surge falling into a volcanic vent, and Sarge killing some unlucky actor.
- Dysfunction Junction:
- The Reds and Blues don't have to use the other team for target practice or anything, as they've got each other for that! (Especially the Reds!)
- As Seasons 9 and 10 reveal, Project Freelancer wasn't much better, although they didn't outright attack each other. At least, not until near the end of it all...
- Enemy Mine:
Tucker: You brought [the Reds]? Are we killing each other today? Or pretending to work together?
- One of the most common themes of the series from Season 3 onwards. Despite being (allegedly) enemies in a worthless war, the Reds and Blues are consistently forced to work together to take down a greater evil.
Caboose: Uh, the pretending version.
Tucker: Oh, okay, cool.
- Evil Is Hammy: A few of the villains, such as O'Malley (a Card-Carrying Villain AI who's basically Made of Evil), Wyoming (a Faux Affably Evil Evil Brit) and Genkins (a Trickster God who enjoys himself profusely).
- The Faceless: Almost everyone. But for the Blood Gulch Crew, Washington, and the Meta (although for those of those latter two, The Project Freelancer Saga only showed limited features), Rooster Teeth has outright said that they believe that nothing they can come up will fulfill fan expectations.
- That being said, there are a few confirmations (more or less) given to some of the characters' appearances. The only real ones given are that Tucker is black, Grif and Sister/Kaikaina are native Hawaiians, Simmons is both Dutch-Irish and a Hollywood Cyborg, Lopez is (technically) Latino (though as he's also a robot, one can work out the fine lines on that elsewhere), and Wash is both white and a blonde.
- Fictional Sport: Grifball.
- Fire-Forged Friends: Especially evident in the seasons from 6 onward, but the various conflicts that the Reds and Blues of Blood Gulch go through outside of their own personal war with each other have, by the time of Season 10, made them into a combined Badass Crew, even complimenting members of opposing "teams". By the time of Episode 21 of Season 10, even Carolina defrosts to them. By the final shot of Season 13, it's no question that they're a family.
- Flanderization: Almost everybody. Tropes Are Not Bad, since this has actually led to characters like Caboose, Simmons, and Donut who had some personality traits that weren't quite noted already to set them apart cranked up to eleven, giving them fleshed out personalities in the process.
- Church goes from being a kind of bad shot with his Sniper Rifle to full on Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy with any gun he gets his hands on, unable to hit anything except by Accidental Aiming Skills.
- Caboose goes from being a bit slow at the start of the series to borderline insanity, unable to follow a simple train of thought. Although for him, this is due in part to the massive battle that goes on inside his head early on causing brain damage. Also, apparently Church and Tucker rebooted his armor once and didn't manage to turn it back on right away. He said he didn't think it caused any permanent damage, that means of course it did. That being said, later seasons have Retconed Caboose's personality so that he was always this stupid/insane.
- Tucker goes from being a flirtatious lady's man of questionable success to a Casanova Wannabe who attempts to sleep with any girl that'll listen to him for more than ten seconds.
- Sarge's bullying of and threats to kill Grif start as attempts at murder and escalates to a psychopathic obsession with making his life as miserable and humiliating as possible, sometimes serves as his single character trait in certain scenes.
- Grif's apathy that doesn't have to do with eating, napping, and making up excuses to avoid work morphed into a trickster who comes up with cunning schemes and Loophole Abuse to avoid work or risking his life, even if said schemes are more complicated to execute than the orders he's given.
- Donut goes from being ambiguously effeminate to Tucker's Camp Gay counterpart in sexually suggestive dialogue and attempts to sleep with any male soldier in his line of view.
- Simmons goes from teacher's pet to groveling sycophant with occasional Servile Snark. This trait is actually getting dialed down a bit as of the Chorus trilogy; he kisses Sarge's butt a lot less than he used to and even makes sarcastic remarks to him. This is likely because being promoted to Captain and being put into a leadership role himself has helped him become a bit more self-confident.
- Tex goes from being a skilled special-ops soldier to an absurdly powerful badass (who is still destined to fail).
- Doc begins as a neutral pacifist without extensive medical training (but nevertheless treats Caboose during an active shootout), and ends up a man panicked by any sign of conflict and with complete incompetence in his supposed area of expertise. However, this is zigzagged according to the needs of the plot when someone who's critically injured needs to be kept alive.
- Seasons 8 and on present an interesting example when this is reverted back to giving the Reds and Blues their more subtler traits while keeping their core personalities.
- Grif's intelligence and knack for getting out of dangerous situations is shown to make him a very pragmatic survivor in combat that's willing to suck up his self-pity and bite the bullet if there's no way out of a mission that precludes death.
- Church's occasional moments of compassion and downplaying his anger (particularly as the Epsilon A.I.) have made him one of the most empathetic members of the cast.
- For all of Sarge's blundering about and questionable sanity, the reason why he's stuck around as a soldier for so long is apparent with his leadership and charisma with his men when things are at their worst in a fight. He's also willing to overlook Grif's existence and has Took a Level in Kindness since Revelation, likely because concerning it, murder's not what he's in the army for and he's an honorable soldier when confronted with those that are in it for the killing.
- While Caboose is still completely insane, the later seasons start to slowly re-introduce his Deadpan Snarker tendencies from before his Flanderization, and also showcase how he's actually the most emotionally aware member of the entire Blood Gulch Crew.
- Tucker may be the biggest example. His occasional moments of being The Straight Man to the Reds and Blues have drastically increased his competence as a fighter, leading to his skill with the sword as a weapon he's comfortable with and being a quick and decisive strategist. Even Wash admits that he's not the same as was before.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Choleric: Sarge (Blood Knight), Church (always angry and frustrated), Carolina (bossy jerk, who after mellowing out is still serious and goal-oriented)
- Sanguine: Donut (affable Nice Guy), Tucker (Casanova Wannabe)
- Melancholic: Simmons (introverted nerd), Tex (Consummate Professional), Washington (Only Sane Man)
- Phlegmatic: Lopez (positive, he's competent even if not exactly good with people), Grif (negative, he's a bitter Lazy Bum), Caboose (Kindhearted Simpleton)
- Foreshadowing: In Reconstruction, we learn that Church was an AI unit and that was why he survived being seemingly killed, was able to jump from mind to mind, and had a 'ghost' form. Just before The Reveal by Wash, there's a quick scene showing the relevant clips just to hammer it in. Guess who else shared those exact same characteristics. Agent Texas.
- Forever War:
- The "war" between the Red and Blue armies, in Blood Gulch at least, aren't really fighting so much as slacking off at opposite ends of the box canyon, and it only feels like they've been there forever, but if there's one thing they can all agree on, it's that neither side has any clue why they're supposed to be fighting, or what the actual benefit would be of "winning". Eventually justified when it turns out that they aren't actually at war, and are just simulation troopers to train Freelancers for actual wars. Both sides always end up teaming up with each other to take down a larger enemy, and the war isn't even really being waged (except in Sarge's mind) after Season 5, excluding Season 9 and Season 11.Simmons: Seriously though, why are we out here? As far as I can tell, it's just a box canyon in the middle of nowhere. No way in or out.
Grif: Mm hmm.
Simmons: The only reason that we set up a Red Base here, is because they have a Blue Base over there. And the only reason they have a Blue Base over there, is because we have a Red Base here.
Grif: Yeah, that's because we're fighting each other.
Simmons: No, no. But I mean, even if we were to pull out today, and if they would come take our base, they would have two bases in the middle of a box canyon; whoopdee-fucking-doo.
- In Season 3, Sarge and Caboose accidentally wind up in the Battle Creek map, where two teams of immortal zealots fight to Capture the Flag while spouting comments and insults straight out of an stereotypical online Halo match, and are revived at the end of each match, like a particularly stupid version of Norse Mythology's Valhalla.
- In The Chorus Trilogy, the Federal Army of Chorus and the New Republic are fighting a Civil War on the planet Chorus that has been fought for years upon years thanks to the manipulation of a third party led by Chairman Hargrove.
- The "war" between the Red and Blue armies, in Blood Gulch at least, aren't really fighting so much as slacking off at opposite ends of the box canyon, and it only feels like they've been there forever, but if there's one thing they can all agree on, it's that neither side has any clue why they're supposed to be fighting, or what the actual benefit would be of "winning". Eventually justified when it turns out that they aren't actually at war, and are just simulation troopers to train Freelancers for actual wars. Both sides always end up teaming up with each other to take down a larger enemy, and the war isn't even really being waged (except in Sarge's mind) after Season 5, excluding Season 9 and Season 11.
- Four Lines, All Waiting: At times, the cast is split already for multiple simultaneous plots, such as in early Season 3 (some are teleported away, but only in episode 5 does everybody meet again), Seasons 12 and 13 (the two factions of the Civil War, the villains, the Reds and Blues being assigned different missions), and Season 16 (again, people are teleported away, only in episode 12 everyone meets again).
- Friendly Enemy: The Blood Gulchers seem to get along with members of the opposite team rather well (well, at least as well as members of the same team get along with each other), to varying degrees. By Season 10, their "war" continues mostly because of habit and the fact nobody on either team has anything better to do.
- Grand Finale: Each of the story arcs have one, though not for the entire series.
- Episode 100 of Season 5 ("Why Were We Here?") was one to Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles. It even functioned as a Series Fauxnale, complete with Multiple Endings, it even had situations of Back for the Finale, and an overall wrap up of five seasons of storytelling.
- Episode 20 of Season 8 was one to both that season itself (Revelation) and the general Red vs. Blue: The Recollection series, with the death of the Meta, the Big Bad of Seasons 6, 7 and 8.
- Episodes 21 and 22 of Season 10 both function together as one for The Project Freelancer Saga (Seasons 9 and 10). In a variation, Episode 19 of the same season functions as one for the flashback segments, with the assault on the Mother of Invention.
- Season 13 ends on a Bolivian Army Ending while closing Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy. And in a way, it also closes off the story of Church, as Epsilon makes clear he'll not survive.
- Episode 12 of Singularity functions as one for both The Shisno Paradox and Singularity itself, and retroactively serves as one for the events of Season 15.
- Great Offscreen War: The "Great War" that inspired the creation of Project Freelancer. All things point out that it's the Human-Covenant War from Halo i.e. the single player campaign just like Red vs. Blue is built out of the multiplayer.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- The Director of Project Freelancer is the cause of most of things that have happened in the series, both directly and indirectly. He only comes center stage in Season 10, though he never takes on a direct role.
- The Chairman of the UNSC Oversight Sub-Committee Malcolm Hargrove, who is revealed to have funded the Insurrection. The audience already knows that his trying to arrest the Director results in him sending the Big Bad Duumvirate of Wash and the Meta to find the Epsilon Unit. Finally, he serves as the Big Bad for Seasons 12 and 13 under the alias "Control".
- Grey-and-Gray Morality: A running theme throughout the series is that everyone has their own good and bad aspects, and there are as many ultimately good people as there are bad people. In the case of the Blood Gulch Crew, although they are the heroes of the story and usually do the right thing, they are also stupid and/or jerks in one way or another and do very selfish things in their adventures. This is even pointed out in Season 12, with Washington pointing out that the New Republic and the Federal Army on Chorus are equally good and bad, which is later mirrored by nearly identical Rousing Speeches performed by both sides.
- Happy Ending Override:
- At the end of Season 8, Church can't find Tex inside the memory unit and resolves to wait for her in a good memory of his, namely his time in Blood Gulch. Season 9 opens with him remembering how much he despised being in Blood Gulch, and the plot of the season is centered around how Tex is gone and Church needs to come to terms with that.
- Season 10 ends with the Reds and Blues deciding to move back into Blood Gulch while Epsilon leaves with Carolina to become The Atoner. Neither of them say goodbye, under the notion that if they don't then they aren't really gone, in which this is depicted as a heartwarming scene. Season 11 starts with the Reds and Blues stranded after a shipwreck and Church leaving without a word has left Tucker angry and Caboose depressed at how they were abandoned.
- Head Bob: Except in exceptionally rare instances when a face is shown, usually happening in Freelancer-specific flashbacks. Both fans and animators have come to a agreement that giving definitive facial models to the Blood Gulch Crew would spoil the ambiguity of what they actually look like in comparison to how they act. This is even lampshaded in Episode 94 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- Hero of Another Story:
- Both the Red and Blue simulation troopers and the Agents of Project Freelancer (for a given value of "hero"). It's often mentioned that the few simulation troopers and Agents we see are only a fraction of the huge number of soldiers/agents out there, and most of them have been going on their own adventures in the background of the series.
- In the first episode of the series, Halo Player Character "the Master Chief" John-117 is mentioned by Grif as blowing up "a whole Covenant armada" while the Reds and Blues are stuck fighting each other instead, dealing with issues that the games proper don't even mention. The reason why they aren't directly integrated into the fighting (as well as why they are unaware that the Human-Covenant War is presumably over) are factors in Seasons 6-10.
- As Seasons 9 and 10 show, Project Freelancer was dealing with alleged Insurrectionist activity among humanity during the Great War.
- Seasons 11-13 have the Reds and Blues stuck on Chorus while most of the UNSC were trying to keep peace with the Swords of Sanghelios and sending out space expeditions with their upgraded ships, most notably the UNSC Infinity.
- Heroic Safe Mode: "Recovery Mode", a mode that the Mark VI armors go into when they lock up so that a Recovery agent can pick them up. This extends to the Near-Death Experience by Sarge in Season 1.
- The Hero Dies: While it's difficult to pin down a "main protagonist" for the whole series, Church is the most likely candidate.
- Church is killed off early in Season 1 as the series' first twist. He returns as a ghost a few episodes later.
- The Alpha A.I. (the Church of the first six seasons) is permanently killed off at the end of Season 6 by the "emp".
- The Epsilon A.I. (who replaces Church in the following seven seasons) is permanently killed off at the end of Season 13 by a self-administered defragmentation process.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners:
- Grif and Simmons.
- Church with both Tucker and Caboose.
- York and Delta.
- Wash and Carolina in the later seasons, their copious Ship Tease moments aside.
- Hyperspace Arsenal: Characters frequently produce enormous guns out of nowhere, at least until the engine upgraded to Halo 3 and in non-machinima animation sequences. This is due to the fact that this use of Hammerspace is precisely what happens in Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2 when someone equips a weapon.
- Image Song: Between Seasons 8 and 10, the cast seemed to be really fond of having these as extras on the soundtracks. So far there's been:
- Inconsistent Episode Lengths: The early seasons rarely went over 8 minutes, but other ones have that as the lowest length. There are also a few episodes breaking 15 minutes, mostly season or arc finales.
- Inconsistent Spelling:
- In Seasons 10, 12, and 13, Malcolm Hargrove's given name is spelled "Malcom". This is changed to "Malcolm" in Red Vs. Blue: The Ultimate Fan Guide.
- Axel's codename is spelled both "Axel" and "Axle". He signs Carolina's cast as "Axle", and his personnel file lists him as "AGENT AXEL a.k.a. AGENT AXLE".
- Informal Eulogy: Along with the cases in Last Disrespects, Sarge provided one for the Blues on Battle Creek ("Rest in peace... scumbag.") and Caboose when he thought he was killed by a mine field ("Dear Lord, we thank you for taking another Blue back to Heaven today. Or rather not Heaven, but whatever fiery pit you send Blues to so they can suffer in eternity!").
- Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: The individual members of the Blood Gulch Crew all have their own personal hangups, insecurities, and are constantly bickering and fighting with each other, but underneath it they are all good people who are willing to help those in need. Many of the enemies they face, such as Wyoming, Felix, and Genkins, are extremely arrogant and tend to look down on the BGC for being weak and idiotic, but always wind up having their asses kicked by them one way or another in the end.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre: Bow-chicka-wow-wow!
- Last Disrespects: Three "funeral" scenes (the deceased in question were actually still living) are all about people being completely disrespectful at funerals, sometimes for their own agendas, sometimes merely because they're jerks.
- In Episode 51 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Church (the "dead" guy in question) is the one who wants a funeral; Tucker, however, insults the idea and wanders off.
- In Episode 83 of The Blood Gulch Chronicles, Grif turns Sarge's funeral into The Roast of Sarge, and Simmons uses the opportunity to campaign for Sarge's job. Sister, who just arrived, is only able to contribute that Sarge was old and disturbing.
- In Season 9 Episode 14, it turns out no one remembers anything about Simmons except he liked gum and talked a lot.
- Last-Name Basis: All of the Blood Gulch Crew except for Sister, Doc, and Lopez (who doesn't have a surname). Though Doc would favor to be on a Last Name Basis; he ended up being overruled. And for Sarge, we're unsure if the name given was his first or last name. Most other characters as well, fitting of the military nature of the series; when it's not a surname, it's a codename (the Freelancers, Felix, Locus) or a title (The Director, The Chairman, The Counselor). So far, the only main characters to go on a First-Name Basis are Dylan and Jax from Season 15, plus a few Cosmic entities without surnames from 16 & 17 (Huggins, Genkins, Chrovos).
- The Last of These Is Not Like the Others: In Red vs. Blue: The Ultimate Fan Guide, the Meta's character profile lists his "notable attributes" as:Snarling. Growling. Glowering. Skulking. Lurking. Stealing. Murdering. High tolerance for pain. Audio editing.
- Limited Animation: Outside of custom animated shots, the machinima nature only allows the characters to do what Halo characters can (walk, Head Bob, crouch, jump, attack), and outside of vehicles they can only be seen either standing or lying down. During RTX 2019, Jason Weight remembered that he suggested having the characters sitting down, only to have that idea instantly shot down.
- Loyal Phlebotinum: Tucker's energy sword binds to him when he first acquires it and won't turn on for anyone else who tries to wield it. This is later shown to be true in general for these swords: the first person who picks it up becomes the only person it will work for. The only way to get it to work for someone else is to kill its current wielder.
- Me's a Crowd: Church, Lopez, Wyoming, and Tex have all done this by various mechanisms; time-looping for Church and Wyoming, and robot clones for Lopez and Tex.
- Motif Merger: This is how the Meta symbol was formed, out of the symbols of all the other AI's which are most of the Greek alphabet.
- Myth Arc: The fall and aftermath of Project Freelancer is one for Seasons 1-10 and 15, though it only really comes to the forefront after Season 5. The Chorus Civil War and its background causes is one for Seasons 11-13. And for Seasons 16 & 17, there's the Cosmic Powers and time travel.
- Never a Self-Made Woman: Deconstructed, in different ways. The two most prominent female characters for most of the series, Tex and Carolina, are the Director's lover (sort of) and daughter respectively; with Tex, the emotional connection with the Director is one-sided on his part, resulting in Tex being wholly professional herself but receiving special attention while being unable to act outside his concept of her. Meanwhile, with Carolina, it's implied that she's using Project Freelancer as a means of gaining approval and attention from the Director while being constrained by the demands of protocol.
- Never Got to Say Goodbye: The concept of farewells becomes very prevalent from season 5 onward, after Tex says goodbye to Church just before her ship explodes.Allison: Don't say goodbye. I hate goodbyes.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The main characters are separated from one another in the beginning of Reconstruction. Even when they regroup, things only keep changing. It is only in Season 10 that the characters regain some semblance of their lost status quo. Huge changes made to the story are the deaths of two main characters (Church and Tex), the revelation that the whole Red vs. Blue war was a lie, and the death of the Director. The protagonists even admit things simply cannot return the way they used to be.
- Once a Season: Given Tex first appears in Episode 10, the following nine seasons usually re-introduce or feature her heavily in the tenth episode. Season 11 plays with it, as someone stops a ruckus by shooting up as Tex's Leitmotif plays... but it's Donut. Another Episode 10 tradition is a plot twist.
- One-Steve Limit: An aversion. Doc's real first name is Frank, which is also the name of an IDA cameraman in Season 15. It's hard to notice, though, since no one calls Doc by his real name and Frank is only around for one episode.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: The Freelancers. Only Tex (Allison), Wyoming (Reginald), Washington (David), and the Triplets (Ohio/Vera, Idaho/Ezra, and Iowa/Mike) have a first name known, and are almost never referred to by anything but their codenames. Washington almost gets indignant at one point when a guy tries to call him by his real name, though Washington personally hated him. The only Freelancer whose full name is known is Captain Butch Flowers, who was assigned to Blood Gulch to safeguard the Alpha. His code name was Agent Florida.
- Out of Focus: The Blues have been the driving focus of virtually all of the plot-points since Season 5, while the Reds haven't really gotten the chance to move the plot forward outside of comic relief. This has started to be mended beginning with Season 15, as Grif and Donut play central/important roles in the plot.
- Season 18 focuses on another set of troopers, only bringing back three of the Reds and Blues (two of whom are the Freelancers).
- Pinball Protagonist: Calling the Reds and Blues "reactive protagonists" would be stretching for a compliment, honestly. When left to their own devices, the most they'll instigate by themselves is constant bickering. They start to become more proactive from Season 6 forward, particularly when more competent people such as Washington or Carolina are leading them.
- The Power of Friendship: A running theme in the series.
- Project Freelancer fell apart due to the loss of cohesion among the members who were meant to be a team.Carolina: It's because I had a team once. A team with the best training, the best equipment, and despite everything that they had that made them the best, they still lied, and stole, and tore each other to pieces. So you tell me; how the hell am I supposed to trust a rag-tag team of idiots, when I couldn't even trust the people that were closest to me?
- The Red and Blue Armies of Blood Gulch, who are meant to hate each other and be used for nothing more than training simulations for Project Freelancer, still manage to pull themselves together to be True Companions over the course of the series.Sarge: There's one thing you Freelancers always seem to forget. That's the fact that we've managed to kick your ass time and time again! Oh, sure, you've got all your smart plans and your fancy technology and your advanced training. But in the end, what has that got ya? Without a team you can count on, without your fellow soldier by your side, all that doesn't really amount to squat, now does it?
- Played for Laughs in Singularity.Genkins: UGH! What is it with you people?! I trapped you in your past, you get out. I get the powers of a god, you skewer me with a golf club. I drop you into custom-made nightmares, and you make the nightmare fight me with a golf club?! How are you like this?! How do you do it?!Caboose: Mmm... Friendship?
- Project Freelancer fell apart due to the loss of cohesion among the members who were meant to be a team.
- Pretentious Latin Motto: If this official shirt is any indication, Project Freelancer's is "Roboris Per Scientia" (strength through science).
- Pun-Based Title: A few of the episode titles are like this. "Aftermath, Before Biology", "Heavy Mettle", "A Pizza the Action"...
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: In a way, the teams themselves. Most of the drama is driven by members of Blue Team, while Red Team is composed of some very... unbalanced characters who drive most of the comedy.
- Retcon: Used fairly often, but implied a few times as well. There's a fair number of plot holes that need ironing out if you watch every episode (including the mini-series, but naturally not the PSAs) and treat them all as canon. However, a fair number of these are due more to Revision and/or an Unreliable Narrator.
- In Out of Mind, for instance, shows Tex and Church meeting at a Blue base. Tex comments that she doesn't know what Freelancer ability her armor has, even though she's shown to use its invisibility during Project flashback scenes and the finale to Season 10. Then again, she also knew that Church was the Alpha, so it could be an example of her lying to Church to help keep him safe. Later seasons also suggest that this whole scene was actually Fake Memories that were given to the Beta A.I. prior to her assignment as Agent Texas in Project Freelancer.
- The last shots of Season 10 feature the Halo 4 map "Exile" and are accompanied by dialogue implying that the Reds and Blues have returned to Blood Gulch. However, in Season 11, it's explained that the Reds and Blues crash-landed on the planet Chorus on their way back to Blood Gulch, and the map is a new location - Crash Site Bravo. Then again, the map doesn't look like Blood Gulch (it's jungle-like instead of a desert), and "settled" and "we're home" also fit "new beginning".
- Starting with Season 3, "Shisno" is revealed as an insult towards humans by the aliens. Season 16, appropriately named "The Shisno Paradox", explains that the word actually comes from whoever has been manipulated by aimlessly traveling through time. Then again, the Cosmic Powers have influenced the aliens, and the first person to reveal about the term was Gary, who has lying and deception as his primary trait. In Singularity, there is a Hand Wave, stating that the Great Prophecy implied the Great Destroyer was human - and indeed, the Reds and Blues caused a Reality-Breaking Paradox - "and the Fates, I guess, are racist?"
- Revenge: This is a recurring theme of later seasons, several characters from both the protagonist and antagonist camps go on quests for vengeance against people who wronged them, sometimes the outcome of one revenge quest leading to another. These quests are never complete successes though. Either the character fails (often dying in the process), manages to exact their revenge but ends up left unsatisfied by it, or they realise at a crucial moment that they are becoming something unpleasant and give up their quest for vengeance before it's too late. If the latter happens with a bad guy character, it usually marks the start of that character's evolution into a better person.
- Ridiculously Human Robots: Church and Tex spend most of their screentime in purely mechanical bodies. Bodies that apparently let them feel pain. And gain weight. And get sexually aroused... point is, they have a lot of functions that simply don't make sense to work in robots. Behavior-wise, there's Lopez, who became a Servile Snarker and Sour Supporter given dealing with the stupid Reds while speaking a language that they don't took a toll on him.
- Rule of Funny: Along with being a go-to explanation for whatever improbable things that happen (see Beyond the Impossible for specific cases), Burnie Burns (the series' creator) has admitted he (and by extension, the other writers) would sacrifice continuity for the sake of a good joke even in the post-Cerebus Syndrome episodes of the series.
- Running Gag: Has its own page because of just how many of them there are.
- Sailor Earth: Given there are 50 possible Freelancers, but most haven't been revealed, they are prime fanfiction fill-ins.
- Sapient Tank: Sheila during The Blood Gulch Chronicles. Freckles also counts as one, albeit more of a Mini-Mecha, during The Chorus Trilogy
- Scare Chord: The Meta's theme "When Your Middle Name is Danger", because the audience just knows something bad is about to happen as soon as it starts playing.
- Series Fauxnale: The first four major story arcs all end in ways that the writers have freely admitted that could work as jumping-off points, giving the sense that the story that far was perfectly complete. Season 14 ends with a monologue that could work as a show goodbye too. While Season 15's finale served as one when it was its own self-contained plot, the finale for the season finishing off the entire Shisno Trilogy, Singularity, was a slightly lesser case given it wrapped up that arc, but didn't give the impression all was over and instead put a greater focus on And the Adventure Continues.
- Share Phrase:
- "Son of a bitch!" - Anyone who's about to get blown up (or who's seen someone else nearby get blown up), most often being Church. Often repeated three times.
- "That doesn't seem physically possible".
- Whenever Sister says something strange, someone will almost always say "Yeah! Wait. What?!" In "Relocated", this follows when she isn't even there, but the conversation is about her.
- "Shotgun." "Shotgu... fuck!" - Usually Grif and Simmons.
- "HURK! Bleh." When someone dies in the first five seasons, and in some moments of seasons 14 and 15.
- "HEGUHURGERK!" Whenever someone gets possessed.
- Sleeps with Both Eyes Open: Captain Butch Flowers. This is a lampshading of the series' Limited Animation, since the creators can't realistically make it look like a character is sleeping.Now to go to sleep, standing up, with my eyes open, as is my custom!
- Smarter Than You Look: Any character that at first seems dumb will either have periodic Dumbass Has a Point moments or is a case of Brilliant, but Lazy.
- Socketed Equipment: Both simulation trooper and Freelancer-standard armor have a slot for AI, and can have Freelancer equipment installed as well.
- Speech-Centric Work: Especially in the early seasons. "Burnie" Burns says that due to only using Halo game engines, his "use of verbs" was extremely limited, a limitation that went away with the inclusion of Monty Oum and other animations from Season 8 onward.Caboose: Well, maybe all of this is happening inside of a movie.
Tucker: Oh please, who would watch that movie? All we ever do is stand around and talk!
- Story-Breaker Power:
- The reason the cast never gets to use the Spartan Laser in Seasons 6-8, despite it being on a number of multi-player maps in Halo 3, such as Valhalla, Standoff, Avalanche, etc.
- The armor shields for that matter. These guys wear the Mk 6 Spartan armor, yet only Caboose has been seen using the standard shields. Everyone else can easily be shot down unless they're specifically said to have the dome shield, overshields, or both. Or the Meta, who's insanely durable with or without them.
- Wyoming's time manipulation falls under this as well, especially in the prequels where he's never seen using it even after he gets Gamma as his AI.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Shisno Trilogy introduces the Cosmic Powers, who present themselves as gods, but given their true forms are Monitors, this makes akin to the Forerunners (and maybe the Precusors) in just being a race so powerful that what they do seems like magic. Zero also has the Black Lotus that provides the Ultimate Power.
- Surrounded by Idiots: A majority of the cast, from the most competent soldier to the dumbest of troops, believe themselves to be this, often glazing over their own flaws and shortcomings. Church's closing lines during the final episode of The Blood Gulch Chronicles has him indirectly explain why he hates everyone around him for very specific reasons.
- Team Spirit: Despite their many quirks and deficiencies, the Blood Gulch crew accomplish some pretty amazing things when they work together. This is most noticeable in their climactic fights against the Meta and the Director's army of Tex drones, where by working together and having each other's backs they're able to make up for their individual flaws and actually defeat vastly superior opponents. In contrast, the series' most powerful character is a Lone Wolf who is also literally the incarnation of Failure Is the Only Option.
- Theme Naming:
- Many of the original characters share their names with the preset default character names from the original Halo.
- Each of the Freelancers was given an American state as their codename (though because there's only one Agent Carolina, the fiftieth agent was "D.C.").
- The Recollection Trilogy and its associated miniseries each start with the "re-" prefix (i.e., Recovery One, Reconstruction, Relocated, Recreation, and Revelation).
- Took a Level in Badass: Both the Reds and Blues' fighting skills and general competence/sanity improve considerably as the plot moves forward, most notably in the later seasons.
- True Companions: The Blood Gulch Crew becomes this over time, to the point that the "war" is just a way for them to pass the time.
- Two-Act Structure: So far, the series seems split between "comedy with some plot" (Seasons 1-5, plus 15 and 16) and "plot with some comedy" (Seasons 6-10 and 17). Season 11 mixes the two, due to a shift in tone near the end that persists throughout the rest of The Chorus Trilogy.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: The way the show handles the large cast, when it's not Four Lines, All Waiting due to Party Scattering. For instance, The Blood Gulch Chronicles usually split between the Reds and Blues (except Season 3, where when it was only two plots, the split was good guys\bad guys), Recreation at a certain point splits between Valhalla and the desert, Revelation mostly divides the Reds and Blues and Wash\Meta\Doc, and The Project Freelancer Saga downright combined animated flashbacks with said project and machinima segments on the Epsilon capsule (Season 9) or the current day (Season 10). The Chorus Trilogy started again with Reds/Blues, merged them in the end of Season 11, but as time went on it got more complicated. Singularity is mostly inside the Everwhen and out of it (and at a certain point, inside the Labyrinth and outside of it).
- Third Line, Some Waiting: In Season 3, at a certain point it had Church's time travel along with the two plots in the present day. Recreation briefly had Wash's side.
- Villain of Another Story: The Covenant count as this. From Reconstruction onward, the series is mentioned to take place after "the Great War" with the Covenant, and Project Freelancer is said to have been made as one of many experimental programs to be the magic bullet to win the war. However, the Covenant themselves very rarely appear in the series and are mostly kept as an occasional reference, and they have virtually no real role in the series (whether good or bad).
- Virtual Sidekick:
- The AI fragments extracted from the Alpha used to be this for the Freelancers who were paired up with them, allowing them to utilize the equipment that aided the soldiers in battle, until some of them had rebelled against the project in favour of their own agendas.
- Epsilon eventually and unwillingly becomes this for Carolina starting in Season 10, helping her out in tricky situations that she would've had trouble getting out of on her own. He ceases to be this at the end of Season 13 when Epsilon sacrifices himself so Tucker can operate the armour formerly worn by the Meta to fight against Charon Industries.
- Santa, the alien AI, becomes something of this to Vanessa Kimball in Season 15 after the war on Chorus ends and Charon Industries is defeated.
- VIC becomes this for Dylan Andrews throughout Season 15, providing three favours (she managed four out of him by exploiting his failing memory) for her in exchange for Dylan taking him offline permanently.
- Vitriolic Best Buds:
- The entire main cast (with the exceptions of Donut, Caboose, and Lopez) consists of a bunch of self-centered jackasses. Despite this, though, they stick by one another and frequently risk their lives for each other.
- Most of the Freelancers were this as well, at least before the program fell apart.
- Weapon-Based Characterisation:
- Sarge almost exclusively uses his shotgun. He's a Blood Knight who loves killing up close and personal; he also enjoys threatening violence or emphasising his moods through dramatically loading the gun. The one time Washington mimics Sarge's likely reaction to the situation they're in, he picks up a shotgun to sell the imitation.
- Caboose has a habit of getting allies killed in friendly-fire and making friends with AI killing machines. He eventually ends up with an assault rifle controlled by his friend, killer AI "Freckles", who actively prevents friendly-fire from being possible. Thanks to the AI, Caboose can let rip to his heart's content without harming allies.
- Donut is freakisly good at throwing things and becomes increasingly associated with plasma grenades as the show progresses.
- The Meta is a brutish fighter who wields a brutish weapon called the Brute Shot, a combination Grenade Launcher/sword taken from the Covenant and subsequently looted from a museum. Given his habit of stealing A.I.s and equipment to make himself more powerful, it's fitting that his weapon is stolen as well by Grif after his death, who renames it the "Grif Shot".
- We ARE Struggling Together: Though the Reds and Blues should be enemies, they normally aren't. That isn't to say that they don't make life difficult for each other almost as easily as breathing.Washington: You guys are not making my life easy right now.
Tucker: Do we ever?
Washington: ...Good point.
- We Will Spend Credits in the Future: If comments made in the Grifball miniseries and the Mercs Trilogy are to be believed.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Notably averted - the fate of almost every major or minor character who appears in the show is addressed in some way eventually, be it by them coming back, getting killed off, or even making a minor cameo in a later episode. Even if a character is Put on a Bus, they're likely to show up again later. Season 12 and 13 have been especially notable in that they resolved many remaining plot points and abandoned storylines from prior seasons. Some examples include Butch Flowers getting revived at the end of Season 5 and later getting revealed to be a Freelancer in Season 10, Andy the bomb getting auto-called by Siri in Season 11, the Chairman being revealed as "Control" in Season 12, Sharkface, the Counselor, Sister and Junior reappearing in Season 13, Vic narrating the story segments in season 14, and 479r's confirmation of reappearing in the same season, the series has impressively managed to account for every member of its sprawling cast numbering in the hundreds.
- We got a more minor example of this when Carolina cites what happened to Georgia when cautioning her fellows about their jetpacks. No matter how much poor Washington asks, nobody actually tells him what happened to Georgia. Then, in Season 10's epilogue, Georgia slams into a window somewhere in space, coincidentally where equally-absent Utah just found his lucky coin.
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: Happened in Seasons 9 and 10 when Lamar Hall's verses showed up in the show, and then was taken up to eleven in Season 18, where the whole soundtrack is rap.
- World of Jerkass: More prevalent in the early seasons (to the point it inspires the quote in the trope page), but all seasons have plenty of characters bickering, complaining, insulting, and being overall disrespectful of each other.
- World of Snark: It'd be faster to make a list of characters who aren't snarky at some point. Which probably consists of Counselor Aiden Price, the Director, Donut, and Caboose.
- Wrench Wench: Tex, actually, she's repaired Sheila at least twice, built a bomb out of spare parts (including some more ... personal items), and even upgraded her own armor while wearing it. Apparently, this was part of her Freelancer training. It tends to be overshadowed by her repeatedly kicking everyones' asses, though.
- Wrongful Accusation Insurance: Kind of. Despite the Blood Gulch Crew being unfairly labeled as war criminals, not much of what happened with their involvement in the aftermath of Project Freelancer was their fault. However, assuming that law in the RvB universe functions anywhere close to ours, there is absolutely no way they should have been pardoned by the UNSC simply by taking down the Director note due to the various crimes they committed while on the run from the law, which include the killing of a quite a few Recovery soldiers, multiple accounts of vehicle theft, and withholding information, as well as evading arrest in the first place. This is more justified after the Season 12 finale, revealing that the Chairman (the man responsible for their pardon) was ultimately behind their ship crashing where the soldiers were expected to be disposed of.
- Red vs. Blue: The Blood Gulch Chronicles: Seasons 1-5
- Red vs. Blue: The Recollection: Seasons 6-8
- Red vs. Blue: The Project Freelancer Saga: Seasons 9-10
- Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy: Seasons 11-13
- Red vs. Blue: Season 14: Season 14
- Red vs. Blue: The Shisno Trilogy: Seasons 15-17
- Red vs. Blue: Zero: Season 18
- Absurd Phobia: According to Sarge in the "Hard Truths" PSA, he has an irrational fear of pleated pants.
- An Aesop:
- The "Diversity" PSA has Grif and Simmons emphasizing the value and uniqueness of different people and about celebrating what makes every person different.
- The "New Holidays" PSA ends with Carolina explaining to Tucker, Sarge, Simmons, and Lopez that holidays aren't about just buying stuff, but spending time with family and friends or honoring the achievements of great people throughout history.
- Animated Actors: Starting with the fact the characters introduce themselves as "I'm _______, from the popular hit series/web series/global video sensation Red vs. Blue!". In the "Columbus Day" PSA, the Meta is apparently an animal actor.
- Artistic License – History: Played for Laughs in the "Thanksgiving 2008" PSA, where Sarge believes that severed human hands were originally a Thanksgiving delicacy.
- Bait-and-Switch: Simmons admonishes Tucker for yelling while in the art museum during the "Cultural Appreciation" PSA, as "This isn't a library!"
- Black Comedy: Even more so than the actual show. For instance, Sarge looking at a painting depicting the fall of Icarus in the "Cultural Appreciation" PSA has him lapse into a traumatic flashback (completely with Deliberate Monochrome) of a soldier he saw die tragically... from heat stroke. Another major case is the "Recycling" PSA, where it's revealed the show recycles its extras, which due to Caboose's ignorance end up in a ditch ("It smells like my nightmares!").
- Brick Joke:
- After being told that no one took care of his pet cat Whiskers in the Season 16 "A Trip Abroad" PSA while he was on vacation in Paris, near the end of the video we see Donut having set up a small shrine for his dead cat adorned with French cheeses.
- Sarge first claims in the Season 16 "Hard Truths" PSA that people who don't like mushrooms are just big babies. Near the end of the PSA, as he breaks down crying as he rants about his own flaws, he confesses that he actually hates mushrooms.
- Caboose is introduced in the Season 16 "Diversity" PSA hunting for his pet chinchilla that he named after Benedict Cumberbatch. Near the end of the aforementioned PSA, Sarge's rampage with the Chupathingy's chaingun is derailed when he gets distracted by the chinchilla and freaks out over it humping his leg off-screen.
- Near the beginning of the Season 17 "Cultural Appreciation" PSA, Donut suggests lying to your friends and claiming you're taking them to buy ice cream so as to get them to go to an art museum. Later, after the Reds and Blues get kicked out of the art museum when Sarge has a traumatic flashback and punches a painting, Simmons and Donut decide to get everyone ice cream for real this time.
- In the Season 18 "Snowed In" PSA, Sarge mentions how he has an active nuclear warhead with a hairpin trigger on hand as part of his emergency supplies. Near the end of the PSA, Caboose predictably triggers the nuke and kills Church yet again.
- Buried Alive: This happens to Sarge in an April Fool's Day episode when Grif mistakes him for being dead. He escaped by eating his way out of the grave.
- The Cameo: The "Financial Crisis" PSA involves the Blues having their base and equipment sold to "some foreign characters from another video game". The Sponsor's Cut makes it clear the characters are Mario and Luigi, complete with the new base flag being the flagpole from Super Mario Bros..
- Comically Small Bribe: Simmons was bribed with only $100 to shill for several new holidays on behalf of the "industrial-greeting card complex."
- Compound-Interest Time Travel Gambit: In one financial PSA, after Grif learns the basics on how stocks work, he decides the best route is go back in time and create his own time travel company in order to build the stock value up over decades. Come the end of the video, Simmons comments on how some company called "My Time Travel Company Rules Co" is doing well. Cue Grif with High-Class Glass, top hat and Monopoly-man mustache.
- Continuity Nod:
- Tucker's less than normal knowledge of time comes up again in the "Rock the Veto" PSA when he says they were playing Blindfold for "like 30 hours last night."
- The Vegas Quadrant (as mentioned by Grif during Season 1) is briefly visited by both Grif and Simmons in the "Getting Away From It All" PSA.
- "The Sound of Stupid" PSA has Caboose wanting to role-play as a dragon (referencing how he claimed that he once wished to be a dragon in Season 13).
- The Reveal that Caboose apparently graduated from Harvard in the Season 17 "Cultural Appreciation" PSA can be seen as an allusion to Grif claiming the same in Season 6's "Columbus Day" PSA.
- The Season 18 "Visit the Doctor!" PSA has Grif mentioning to a receptionist at the doctor's office how in Season 2, his organs were replaced with Simmons' and Simmons was converted into a cyborg.
- On a related note, the Season 18 "Moving Out!" PSA has Kaikaina trying to sell houses of questionable quality to Grif and Simmons, just like she was in the Season 16 "Unreal Estate" PSA.
- The inexplicably resurrected Church in the Season 18 "Snowed In" PSA remarks that a Cabin Fever-crazed Sarge is acting like "he's just seen a ghost" after looking at him, referencing how the Blood Gulch Crew thought that Alpha-Church was a ghost during The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- Decided by One Vote: A Type 3 scenario that ends up unresolved in the Election Night video. Grif apparently meant to vote, but forgot to register in time due to his usual laziness.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The American Grifball League of America.
- Eagleland: Type 1, parodied. After examining how Red vs. Blue would be done by other countries, Church and Tucker decide to do it the American way, which they conclude is driving big cars and blowing shit up. The video ends with a Warthog flying over an explosion with the American flag in the background and "America the Beautiful" playing. This sets up a Brick Joke: earlier in the episode, they had done the "Russian version", where many of the characters' statements are censored and replaced with praise of the Russian government and its leader, Nikolai Petrovsky. Hilariously, at the end of the episode, his name is randomly cut into the song.
- E = MC Hammer: The "Sarge Seal of Approval" is E=MCSarged.
- Epic Fail: Cloudcuckoolander that he is, Caboose can only say nice things about Sarge when asked to vent about stuff he doesn't like during the Blood Gulch Crew's "friend-tervention" in the "Hard Truths" PSA.
- Explosive Stupidity: Caboose was prone to this during the Fourth of July PSA about handling fireworks.Donut: Hey, Caboose. Have you seen my grenade?
Caboose: Yes, I put it in my pants. Wait... (cue explosion)
- Faux-To Guide:
- The "Real Life vs. The Internet", "First!", and "Online Survival Guide" PSAs are all this in terms of teaching online etiquette.
- The Fire Safety PSA. It ends with the group dying in a fire inside the building and is given an In Memoriam message.
- "Match Breaking", a guide by Tucker and Simmons on picking up girls. Considering how the PSA ends with the majhority of the show's female cast running over Tucker with a Warthog, it's safe to say that his advice shouldn't be trusted.
- Most of the PSAs after Season 15 are like this, with two downright saying it in the title - "Caboose's Guide to Finding Your Home" (a sequel to the "Making Friends" episode of Season 14) and "Lopez's Technical Guide to Empathy".
- Four-Point Scale: The PSA about the gaming industry lampshades this practice.
- The Grinch: Church in the Christmas special. His acts include shooting the Reds' Christmas tree decorations, spreading lies about Santa to Caboose and stealing the present he tricked Tucker into getting for him.
- Halloween Episode: It goes wrong, given everyone goes dressed as Caboose.
- Hates Everyone Equally: Sarge decides in the "Diversity" PSA that everyone is equal... as in, equally viable targets for him to shoot at with the Chupathingy's chaingun.
- Hypocritical Humor: The Season 5 "Let's All Go To The Movies" PSA has both Grif and Church complaining that there should be a law against people talking in movie theaters... as it screws up them illegally recording the movies and selling them online to the highest bidder.
- Insistent Terminology: Donut repeatedly stresses in the "Hard Truths" PSA that the Blood Gulch Crew's roast of Sarge isn't actually a roast, and is instead a "friend-tervention."
- The Internet Is Serious Business: The "Real Life vs. The Internet" PSA was made about this.
- It's Not Porn, It's Art: The "Cultural Appreciation" PSA has Tucker really liking the art museum once he discovers statues and paintings of naked people, and the others have to even call him out on using this trope.
- Lethal Chef: Sarge's dish for the 2008 Thanksgiving dinner was severed human hands dressed like turkeys due to misunderstanding his research materials (first-grader reports) while Caboose misinterpreted a sexual metaphor his grandmother once told him in his youth and brought "hair pie". Sarge had to set him straight on that one.
- Malaproper: Caboose is completely unable to properly remember/pronounce the name of his pet chinchilla Benedict Cumberbatch in the "Diversity" PSA, with him instead coming up with several creative alternative names.
- Medal of Dishonor: The "Winter Olympics" PSA has Sarge suggest giving these to the losers in the form of enriched uranium.
- Medium Awareness: Pretty common. For instance, Sarge notes that his face is on the thumbnail of the "Hard Truths" PSA, and Caboose later comments at the end of the aforementioned PSA that he'd "dance right now, but our animation budget can't afford it!"
- Memetic Badass: In-universe, sort of... In a series of PSA videos made to hype Halo 3: ODST, Sergeant Johnson is painted to be even more of this than he already was in the Halo games with claims that he once took out an entire Covenant battalion single handedly, is immortal, and has laser vision.
- The credits after the videos has a disclaimer saying "Laser vision not included".
- My Country Tis of Thee That I Sting: Pretty frequent, with the "Cultural Appreciation" PSA giving us this gem when Simmons and Donut are talking about the price of admission for attending an art museum:Donut: Some countries won't charge you for admission, because they believe that sharing knowledge and culture should be free!
Simmons: But this is America, where we believe in capitalism and the 24-hour news cycle!
- New Year's Resolution: Both teams spent the New Year's video in a "Resolveathon" to come up with the best resolutions. The losers had suffer a Fate Worse than Death...actually following through on their resolutions. The Blues take advantage of this by resolving to beat up the Reds.
- Noodle Incident: Donut and Simmons trick Tucker into coming with them to the art museum by claiming they're actually taking him to the "annual ice cream and monster truck rally." According to Tucker, this is just like when they had previously promised to take him to the "Victoria's Secret Thanksgiving Day parade."
- Painting the Medium: Played for Laughs in "The Prize Wheel of Cash"; After Lopez "wins" becoming Caboose's new best friend, the English subtitles change to praising Caboose and emphasizing how happy Lopez is to be Caboose's friend. Meanwhile, Lopez's untranslated Spanish dialogue has him freaking out about his subtitles changing.
- Pet the Dog: Simmons invites Caboose to attend Red Team's Thanksgiving dinner in the "Thanksgiving 2008" PSA.
- Readings Blew Up the Scale: In the "Visit the Doctor!" PSA, Sister's STD test reported she had "everything", and then the computer printing out the results somehow contracted syphilis and before catching fire.
- Required Secondary Powers: Actually averted in the "Upgrading" PSA when Caboose gets his armor stuck on invisibility mode:Church: Don't worry Caboose, I'm sure when the game comes out there'll be a way to shut it off.
Caboose: Good. I need sleep.
Sarge: Sleep? When that game comes out, I won't sleep for a week!
Church: Yeah, no, it's not that, it's just that he's having trouble sleeping because he can see through his eyelids now.
Sarge: Oh. That's creepy.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud:
- In "Planning to Fail", Caboose, acting as a zombie, reads the script as "Moaning... mooooooaaaaaaning..."
- Played with in "RTX 2018". Carolina imitates an echo effect and then reads out "imitate an echo effect". Jax tries to bring it up and she responds that it's written as a line instead of a verbal direction.Carolina: It's going to be spectacular! ...Lar! ...Lar! Uh... imitate an echo effect!
Jax: Uh. Okay, Carolina—
Carolina: It's in the script as a line, Jax, not a parenthetical verbal direction. I know that 'cause I've been doing these dumb PSAs for seven friggin' years!
- Recap Episode: In 2022, episodes were made recapping Halo (2022).
- Right Behind Me: Church kinda invokes the wrath of Sgt. Johnson in the 3rd ODST PSA this way.
- Schmuck Bait: The second and third season DVDs have bonus videos implying either a love story with Tex or "Sheila's Sexy Adventure". Clicking either of those and you get berated for actually expecting something.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Upon realizing that Simmons is going to be discussing proper etiquette when visiting an art museum in the "Cultural Appreciation" PSA, Grif immediately leaves and Donut then substitutes for him.
- Seemingly Profound Fool: The "What I Did On My Summer" PSA has Caboose unwittingly "escaping into the campaign" of Halo: Reach, either becoming, being mistaken for, or revealing himself to be Noble Six.
- Self-Deprecation: Season 18's "Spice It Up" PSA has the cast describing their series as "reluctantly immortal." And then came "Amateur Voice Actors", full of in-jokes about the show's production and cast, and to drive the point home, it ends by showing Joel Heyman, Gus Sorola, and Matt Hullum recording their lines.
- Stealth Pun:
- In the Season 10 "Voting Fever" PSA, Sarge sings "We're going to need a big strong Chorus!" At the end of Season 11, the group finds out that the planet they are stranded on is called "Chorus".
- Another in the Season 3 Christmas special: "Christmas is the one day of the year you should never miss Church."
- Take That!:
- The Gadgets PSA is largely meant as a jab at the business strategy of "planned obsolescence" seen with tech companies.
- Intercut throughout the "First!" PSA is Sarge complaining about the Kudzu Plot of Lost.
- The "Unreal Estate" PSA is both a Take That at climate change skeptics and white supremacists, with Grif, Simmons, and Kaikaina all deciding to fix up the Earth by selling the white supremacists the "death homes" (which were caused by environmental collapse) that she was previously trying to sucker people into buying.
- Speaking of the "Unreal Estate" PSA, it also has Kaikaina cheerfully noting that greenhouses give you "the chance to grow your own food, and the sense that you're better than everyone else for doing so!"
- After Carolina gives An Aesop in "New Holidays" about how holidays can be about celebrating the achievements of famous historical figures, Tucker interjects by claiming that Christopher Columbus shouldn't be celebrated as "he was a dick." Carolina quickly agrees with him, calling Columbus "the wooooorst!"
- Take That, Audience!: After too many gratuitous complaints about not uploading Season 16 on YouTube, Rooster Teeth's response was this PSA.
- Telegraph Gag STOP: Sarge receives a message in this form for the Halo: Reach PSA.
- Thanksgiving Episode: Two, Indigestion 2004 (combined with coverage for another "red vs. blue" thing, the election) and Thanksgiving 2008 (featuring horrible choices for dinner).
- Through the Eyes of Madness: Twice, both times videos centered on (of course) Caboose. One is a 360 video, the other is a game show PSA.
- Token Minority: Discussed in the "Diversity" PSA, with Grif and Simmons pointing out the diversity among their own cast - Namely, Carolina is a "feminista," Tucker is a person of color (black), Lopez is a "badass Robo-American" (Latino), Caboose is intellectually challenged, Donut is "fabulous," and Wash is the resident "angry white man."
- Trust Me, I'm an X: From the "Bird Flu" PSA.Doc: Guys, trust me. I'm a doctor.
Simmons: No, you're not! You just play one on the internet!
- Unexplained Recovery: Parodied in the Season 18 "Snowed In" PSA, which has Church somehow coming Back from the Dead before he's killed yet again by Caboose at the end of the episode.
- The Unreveal: Once the recap of Halo (2022) discusses Master Chief taking off his helmet, Sarge does the same... and his face is a pixelated mess ("Yep, dad's Raster Scandinavian and mom's Pixel Irish")
- Very False Advertising: The "Unreal Estate" PSA has Sister trying to sell homes in exotic locations...which are now wastelands due to unchecked pollution on Earth.
- Wildlife Commentary Spoof: One of the bonuses in the Red vs. Blue DVD is a movie spoof that has Sarge doing this to Grif (framed as a hunting show, naturally).
- Worst Aid: The general premise of the cold and flu PSA. "I've had the bullets in my shotgun medically coated for the fastest possible injection of life-saving medicine."
- Worst. Whatever. Ever!: Sarge gives this during the 2008 Thanksgiving special when he discovers it doesn't involve inviting your enemies over and shooting them in the back.
- You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: Sarge says this about Caboose (or rather, "you have no idea what you just dealt with") when he and Church realize he took a vacation in the Halo: Reach campaign.Church: Caboose, that was some crazy story dude.
Caboose: I know, you have no idea.
Sarge: No. You have no idea.
Caboose: Right, nobody has any idea.
Sarge: No, son, you specifically have no idea.
- Darker and Edgier: Barring a few jokes by York, the tone is far more serious than the rest of The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- Foreshadowing: We discover through York and Delta that Wyoming's name is Reginald, and that he enjoyed stupid knock-knock jokes. Astute viewers will take this and the fact that "O'Malley" is a portmanteau of Tex's real name (Allison) and Omega, in order to realize that the time bending, knock-knock joke spouting A.I. Gary is actually Wyoming's partner.
- Mini Series: Five episodes.
- P.O.V. Sequel: This miniseries explains what Tex was doing after Crunchbite died.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: York and Delta spend almost all their mutual screentime snarking at each other, but it's clear they're fond of each other especially since Delta is willing to potentially sacrifice his own existence to ensure York dies comfortably.
- A Day in the Limelight: For Agent Washington.
- Accidental Pun: "Wash" is the Cleanup Crew of Project Freelancer.
- Angsty Surviving Twin: To a degree. South and North aren't identical twins, but rather fraternal. Subverted in Reconstruction, when it turns out that the reason North died is because South set him up as bait for the Meta. Her behavior in Recovery One was mostly an act.
- Arc Villain: The Meta.
- The Cameo: North Dakota and York both have their corpses shown. A mysterious shooter in Part 1 who may be Wyoming also counts.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The beginning of it for the series proper.
- Cleanup Crew: It is the job of Recovery agents to destroy or recover any Freelancer technology left from dead or critically injured agents in the field.
- Closest Thing We Got: In Part 3, Washington and South discuss this about the former.South: Weren't you certified Article Twelve after that? Unfit for duty.
Washington: The people who certified me were the same people that uncertified me. Which, once they needed me, they did. Funny how the system works.
- Continuity Nod: In Part 1, Washington reviews the footage of the battle scene at Relic from "Out of Mind".
- Cool Plane: A Banshee appears in Part 4, with the Meta as its owner. South uses it to escape.
- Crazy Sane: According to Part 3, Washington went insane and was deemed unfit for duty. However, his experience with AI units made him a perfect Recovery candidate, so he was returned to duty.
- Darker and Edgier: This is one of, if not the darkest installment of the series. There’s very little humor, a bleak tone, and it ends on a hell of a Downer Ending.
- Death Faked for You: Washington does this for South when ordered to kill her by Command. In Part 4, however, this is subverted, as Command already knew she was alive.
- Downer Ending: The miniseries ends with Wash seemingly dead at the hands of South Dakota, who has performed a Face–Heel Turn and is on the run from both Freelancer Command and the Meta. Oh, and no one is any closer to stopping the Meta than they were before.
- Early-Bird Cameo: There is mention of North's AI's Theta, who shows up in Season 10. North Dakota himself might also count.
- Face–Heel Turn: South Dakota leaves Wash for dead and (as revealed in Season 6) left her brother as bait for the Meta.
- Interquel: Set between Seasons 5 and 6 for the most part, helping to change the tone of the series.
- In the Back: In Part 4, South shoots a wounded Washington in the back to cover her own escape from the Meta.
- Leave No Survivors: In Part 2, Recovery Command calls the incident with North Dakota a "Level Zero", indicating that the incredulous Agent Washington should do this in regards to South and then report back. He goes back to her and fakes it, knowing that killing her just after her brother died was too much..
- Left for Dead: Washington in Part 4.
- Military Maverick: By Part 3, Washington essentially abandons Project Freelancer completely. This isn't necessarily bad, though.
- Mini Series: Only four episodes long.
- Never Found the Body: Why Wash survives for Reconstruction.
- Nothing Is Scarier: The Meta isn't seen until the last parts of the miniseries (and even then only briefly), amplifying his scare factor.
- P.O.V. Sequel: If Part 1's assailant at the end was Wyoming, at least that part of the series takes place at the same time as The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- Posthumous Character: North Dakota.
- Self-Destruct Mechanism: Freelancer Powered Armor has it, and it's easily activatable so as to keep it from getting into enemy hands.
- Serial Killer: The Meta.
- There Are No Therapists: Inverted. The Counselor appears for the first time, but, while his tone isn't abrasive, his requests aren't the nicest at all, and Washington notices his attitude about Epsilon.
- Title Drop: The title is Washington's Recovery Code Name.
- Understatement: Delta's line at the end of Part 3 is one of these.
- Ambiguous Situation: Sarge doesn't think Grif knows what electricity is. Grif's response doesn't exactly make it clear if Sarge is right or not.Grif: The man's right. I have no idea.
Simmons: (sighs) Whatever.
Grif: No, seriously, I have no idea. I always thought it was some kind of invisible magic.
Simmons: Shut up.
- Amusing Injuries: Many are subjected to both Grif (who falls from several dozen stories with a cartoonish "Splat!") and Holo-Grifs (all of whom are killed by Sarge using a magnetic railgun).
- Beyond the Impossible: In Part 3, Grif's analysis of his sister surviving being under ice for three hours and coming up both totally fine and pregnant.
- Bilingual Dialogue: It seems that Sarge has finally learned Spanish, as he and Lopez have an actual conversation in this season. The same does not hold true for the rest of the Reds.
- Blatant Lies:
- In Part 2, Caboose says he is "not" working on something at Blue Base.
- In Part 4, Grif neglects to mention Donut's Sequel Hook, only saying that he said he liked Sarge's new jeep.
- Buffy Speak: "Ker-splat" probability, in Part 3.
- The Bus Came Back: Both Lopez and Donut return in this mini-series.
- Continuity Nod: Aside from references to Reconstruction, there is Donut's appearance in Red Base, saying "it's under the sand", as Tucker did in his cameo in Reconstruction, implying that resolving that plot line and seeing Tucker was the next order of business.
- Continuity Snarl: Most likely for the sake of moving the plot along faster, everyone can understand Lopez in this miniseries, especially Sarge.
- Creative Sterility: Sarge in Part 4, sort of. Lopez, an actual robot for whom this trope typically would be applied to, calls him out on not making the holograms make anything else except for Grifs.
- Fake Static: In Part 3, Lopez tries to fake a voice message to get out of talking to Sarge on the radio. Sarge sees through it and disables his lying protocols.
- He's Back!: Lopez returns, and he's built an entire holodeck for the group under Valhalla's Red Base by Part 3's end in less than a minute, along with an elevator coded to their handprints. That, and he's a lot snarkier.
- Hopeless War: Seemingly averted at Blood Gulch Canyon, with the Reds winning there. Except Season 13 reveals that Lopez did not kill Sister like he believed he had, meaning the Blues won Blood Gulch because Lopez left.
- How We Got Here: Everyone in Blood Gulch was reassigned to new locations, except for Sister, Sarge and Lopez (though Sarge's continued presence is due to him deliberately ignoring his relocation orders, believing that Blood Gulch has "not yet won"). The locations of Donut, Tucker, and Doc are also left ambiguous until the next two seasons.
- Let Me Get This Straight...: In Part 1.Sarge: As you'll recall, on our last mission, we encountered that magnetic pulse thingy. So, I thought we could upgrade the warthog to use that technology for a fancy new gun.
Simmons: You mean the pulse that knocked out our car and made it stall? That technology?
Simmons: You want to add that to the car and activate it on a regular basis?
Simmons: Specifically in battle?
Simmons: And you're sure that's a good idea.
Sarge: Why wouldn't it be?
Grif: Don't listen to him, sir. I think it's brilliant. The enemy'll never see it coming.
Simmons: That's because it won't be coming! It'll be shutting down every time we fire our primary weapon!
- Limit Break: In Part 3, Simmons suggests Grif use his fear for his life to gain the strength to push debris away. However, it seems that Grif is in need of more powers gain from being apathetic.
- Mad Scientist: Caboose gives off these vibes when working, especially in Part 4.
- Make It Look Like an Accident: In Part 3, Sarge tries to "help" Grif by throwing him live grenades. And a rocket.
- Mini Series: Only four episodes long.
- Minimalist Cast: The cast is very small, especially compared to previous seasons. It consists only of the Reds and Caboose. Technically Sheila is in the crashed Pelican, and Epsilon does appear, but their parts are minimal enough to not really count for much.
- Mythology Gag: Simmons references Orbital Drop Shock Troopers when discussing Sarge's fear of heights with him.
- Never Found the Body: Grif is unconvinced that Sister is really dead for this reason. Sure enough, Sister is confirmed to still be alive six seasons later.Grif: I'll tell you what: you produce a corpse, I'll believe it.
Grif: Listen, once when we were kids, we went ice skating and she fell through the ice. She was under there for three hours, and when they pulled her out, not only was she still alive, she was pregnant. If you can explain that to me, I'll believe you when you say she's dead.
- Not the Fall That Kills You…: Noted in Part 3, but played straight to have it Played for Laughs when Grif lands. Simmons says Grif is "broken" after the fall.
- Parrot Exposition: Parodied.Sarge: He'll probably faint when I tell him his sister's dead.
Grif: My sister is dead?!
Sarge: Oh, you already know! Good. I was worried 'bout how to break the news to you. That could've been awkward.
- Pet the Dog: In Part 3, Sarge actually seems worried about Grif's reaction to hearing of his sister's possible death.
- Phrase Catcher: Part 3 shows that even when she isn't even there, Sister still can get people to say "Wait, what?" about her.
- Rule of Cool: In Part 3, about building a hologram chamber to simulate an EMP cannon Chupathingy instead of just making the car itself.Sarge: Simmons, sometimes you just gotta go for style points. Hoo-ah.
- Sequel Hook: Lampshaded by Grif in Part 4.Grif: Oh boy. That sounds like something that's gonna keep us busy for a few months.
- Stating the Simple Solution: Simmons, often. Especially when he points out a ladder for Grif to climb for Sarge after he's almost at the top of Red Base.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Both Grif and Caboose think that electricity is "invisible magic".
- Understatement: In Part 4, Simmons notes that the EMP cannon fires 0.1 rounds per second, while the Gatling Good fires 10,000 rounds per second. Sarge assumes his math is right in thinking that the Gatling gun fires faster.
- Vertigo Effect: The second episode of Relocated has this when Caboose sneaks up on Simmons.
- Violation of Common Sense: In Part 3, Grif has to throw a grenade directly in front of him to clear debris. Simmons notes that while this is unsafe, so is everything else involved in this exercise.
- Virtual Training Simulation: Lopez built one under Red Base at Valhalla.
- Worth It: Sarge says this every time Grif is almost killed, regardless of how useful the activity he was doing was.
- Your Mind Makes It Real: Deliberately stated by Sarge about the Virtual Training Simulation room.
- The Bus Came Back: The Zealots return after not appearing since The Blood Gulch Chronicles.
- Creator Cameo: The "information guy" is voiced by the show's main composer, Nico Audy-Rowland (hence him being very French).
- Distinction Without a Difference: Simmons insists that he isn't lost, he just doesn't know where they are right now. Church points out this is the defination of lost.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: When Church tells the Red he knows they are missing a guy, Sarge uses that as proof that the Blues did it. He doesn't know that Caboose accidentally picked up their radio conversations.
- Insistent Terminology:
- Vick points out that, in the army, people are not "kidnapped" they are "missing in action".
- Tucker insists that his "information guy" is not his "kidnap guy", who happens to be currently on vacation.
- Never My Fault: Church outright claims that this is a leader's job: taking credit for a subordinate's idea if it succeeds, and blaming them if the idea fails.
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Sarge is worried the Blues will attack them when The Reds are down a member. Caboose picks up them discussing this, which gives the Blues the very idea.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Grif was never kidnapped, he just wanted some time off. Also Donut was missing too, but nobody noticed.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When the leader of the Blue Zealots is shown the ransom note, he concludes the kidnapper has "terrible handwriting". Tucker's "information guy" is shown the same note and comes to the exact same conclusion.
- Captain Obvious: Lopez inspects the wall and concludes that he is "100% certain it's a wall".
- Chick Magnet: Tucker imagines himself as this, being surrounded by women who are impressed by his helicopter.
- Gilligan Cut: Tucker mentions the Red's have the Warthog. Right after that they crash and destroy it.
- Imagine Spot:
- The Blue Team members imagine what they can do with the new helicopter. Church imagines flying away, Tucker imagines picking up women, Caboose imagines crashing it.
- Lopez later imagines killing both teams using the tank.
- Screw This, I'm Out of Here!: Church imagines using the Blue Team's new helicopter to escape Blood Gulch.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: Once the wall is finally destroyed, all there is behind it is another wall. Sarge then declares case closed and orders the wall rebuilt.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Lopez points out Simmons could kill all of the Blues, having them all lined up in his sniper rifle. As usual, Simmons only pretends to know what he is saying in Spanish.
- Credits Gag: Every episode ends with credits listing other characters from the show in jobs like "Translation to Spanish by Lopez the Heavy".
- Crossover Cameo: Boomstick calls in the first episode to complain about Sarge leaving him.
- Eyed Screen: Done in "Who is Your Favorite Blue?" as Grif tests Perp Sweating methods.
- Fourth-Wall Mail Slot: The premise is Grif and Simmons answering viewer questions about the show.
- Groin Attack: Grif suffers one in "Who Is The Best Rv B Villain? ". With a cone!
- Is This Thing Still On?: In "Are You Good at Halo?", Simmons and Grif argue and inadvertently reveal Simmons' Ponzi scheme to the viewers, only afterward remembering that they're still live.
- Product Placement: In-universe in "Are You Good at Halo?". Grif uses the show to plug products from Grif's Gamer Gear.
- Running Gag: Every episode starts with a different show title!
- Significant Anagram: In "Are You Good at Halo?", Grif sends a message to the show under the username DriftageMixer, which Simmons realizes is an anagram for "I am Dexter Grif".
- Take That, Audience!: The rant during technical problems in "Is RVB dead?" is certainly a takedown on complaining audiences.