17776 is a surreal multimedia work, written and illustrated by Jon Bois and presented by the sports blog SB Nation. While at first glance it appears to be a simple article about the future of American Football, things quickly start to get... stranger.
Shortly after visiting the page, the actual story begins to unfold - concerning three space probes and American culture, past and "present" (as in 17776). And that present has a version of football that is very different than ours.
The first chapter was published on July 5th, 2017, and quickly went viral. The series concluded on July 15th.
The series as a whole consists of several smaller self contained series:
- 17776: The first series, which establishes the setting as a whole and the future of American football. It ran from July 5th to July 15th, 2017.
- 20020: The second series, focused on college football and set a little over 2000 years after the end of the first series. Ran from September 28th to October 24th 2020, and consists of 12 chapters.
- 20021: The third series, and a direct continuation of 20020. Confirmed by Bois during 20020's run, it will consist of an additional 12 chapters, and is actively being worked on.
Not to be confused with 1776.
Due to the impossibility of describing the story in-depth without spoiling at least part of it, all spoilers below are unmarked. It's best if you read the story before reading the trope list so as not to spoil the experience.
Contains examples of:
- Absent Aliens: Humanity searched for life beyond their planet, but found nothing, and ended up getting bored of space because of it.
- The Ageless: On April 7th, 2026, all of humanity achieved this somehow. They stopped aging and dying of disease... at the cost of Complete Infertility, so no human babies have been born since about nine months in. The only thing left that could kill them were violent accidents, so they quickly developed nanos and released them, and since the 3500s have had effectively Complete Immortality as a result.
- Apathetic Clerk: Because the distant future is post-scarcity, the fast food workers shown off during the series are working their crappy jobs by choice and are totally willing to stop working to shoot the breeze with a customer or put people on hold because they're boring.
- Applied Phlebotinum: Downplayed. Humanity has developed some impressive technology, such as life-saving nanomachines, faster-than-light communication, and has even figured out how to keep the Sun burning forever. But they use all of that solely to prolong their immortality, and everyone who mentions the technology considers it boring and uninteresting.
- Football has become this in the distant future. The rules multiplied over the centuries—many of them conflicting or outright contradictory—and the readers barely hear about any of them.
- The infamous Game 27 in particular is a Loophole Abuse-laden clusterfuck: as best anyone can tell, it started off as a traditional 21st-century-style game, until one team used a combination of obscure rules to claim part of the field as their legal property, and everything spiraled out of control from there. Now the field is divided into 58 different territories (some of them containing houses, high-rise apartments, a restaurant, and a statue of Sir Walter Raleigh), and no one knows where the ball is.
- 500 has become a game where someone shoots a "football" that is 2 feet wide and weighs 120 pounds or more out of a cannon capable of reaching anywhere in the United States. The point system and the first person to get five hundred points becoming the new operator is still the same, however.
- Illinois Chess, which is basically Chess meets Monopoly, while also taking cues from Dungeons and Dragons.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Downplayed and discussed. The humanity of the future isn't superhuman, but those who've trained for millennia are capable of feats of extreme athleticism that would utterly shatter records of the modern day. After witnessing one such feat, Ten openly muses about what the even deeper future holds and what the true limit of humanity really is, or if it even has one.
- Childless Dystopia: Zig-zagged. For the most part, the world is a pretty great place to live in, with fairly little immortal ennui. On the other hand, humanity's ways of passing the time strike Nine as pretty unsettling, and people tend to avoid talking about the absence of children; one character breaks down in tears after seeing a modern-day mural of a mother holding a child.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Different characters have different-colored speech; 9 is red, 10 is green and Juice is yellow. Minor characters get their own colors too.
- Contemplate Our Navels: Because there's not much else to do, and Nine is new to being sentient, this happens fairly regularly, with lengthy discussions about the existence of God, the meaning of life, what humanity has become, and what the probes hurtling through an empty universe that'll never be explored feel about all of that.
- Ending Fatigue: In-Universe - with humanity becoming completely immortal, football begins to become increasingly elongated. Combined with the field being expanded to encompass entire states, and it's become common for a single game to take many years to play. It's only when it starts getting ridiculously slow that people start complaining, however, as evidenced in chapter 6:Thuy: If you turned off the game and turned it back on in a year, the line of scrimmage might be, like, 50 miles away from where it was.
- End of an Age: Explored and more bittersweet than cynical; humanity is immortal and has been so for thousands and thousands of years, the only notable scientific achievements happened millennia ago, and there's effectively nothing for people to do but kill time. It's even suggested that humanity's long stagnation was inevitable, as without children, the natural churn and evolution of society with passing of generations was removed.
- Establishing Character Moment: The very first thing Juice does in the story is to mock Nine's camera.Juice: HAAAAAAAAAAAA
- Establishing Series Moment: When first clicking on the link, at first it looks like just a regular article about football. Ten seconds later, the text on the page explodes in size until it blocks the entire screen.
- Fantastic Religious Weirdness: Explored. It's noted that church attendance dropped dramatically after humanity became immortal. The few remaining believers struggle to reconcile their current situation with the promises of the afterlife—and some wonder if maybe this is the afterlife. It's also stated that Eddie doing something as superficially meaningless as hiding in an empty cave for thousands of years playing terrible pocket video games for 300 year stretches is about as close to a religious monk as it gets.
- Forever War: Some football matches, such as Game 96249 and Game 27, have already lasted for millennia and continue with no end in sight. The latter literally has real estate in the middle of the field, and a sole remaining member of the Steelers who shows up to sit on a stool for an afternoon every 500 years or so. And both sides just keep playing because they literally don't have anything better to do.
- Immortality Begins at Twenty: As explained by Juice:Juice: 10's wording was a little clumsy with regard to "people stopped aging": to clarify, babies in the womb in 2026 were indeed born and grew into adults, and all the children grew into adulthood as well.
- Immortal Procreation Clause: Whatever happened in 2026 that made everyone immortal, it also made everyone sterile. Since then, nobody has been born, and nobody has died.
- Info Dump:
- Chapters 3 and 5 consist of Ten informing Nine about things - for the former, how humanity had developed; for the latter, about the proliferation of nanomachines.
- Played for laughs in the final chapter. When the others realize that Nine needs to go offline to recharge, Juice rushes through as many of Nine's unanswered questions as he can in the remaining minute.
- Instant A.I.: Just Add Water!: Space probes just became sentient and developed humanlike minds and emotions from millennia of picking up radio waves in space. While humanity was initially somewhat alarmed and confused by them, they were quickly recognized as just being normal people who happen hurtling through space into the void.
- Living Forever Is No Big Deal: What humanity eventually settled into. On one hand, people enjoy their immortal lives; on the other hand, humanity hasn't fully taken advantage of its immortality to do amazing things, and immortal ennui is a problem that is constantly being fought. People have generally opted to live the lives they've always lived.
- Madness Mantra: In the initial article, "Something is terribly wrong."
- Mini Series: 17776 was posted and updated daily, from July 5th to the 15th of 2017. 20020 updated MWF from September 28th to October 23rd of 2020.
- Modern Stasis: Sure, they have all the advanced technology. They can make self-building buildings, they can fly from Arkansas to Paris in minutes, it's just that nobody wanted those things. People didn't want everything to be as efficient as possible. They instead preferred having to wait in a line at the grocery store or to sit on a bus that smells like cigarettes. Besides, what would be the point of speeding up every task when you literally have all the time in the world? Only the stuff that's practical for preserving the stasis, such as keeping the Sun burning forever, is useful, and only because humanity fully expects to live for millions of years.
- Monumental Damage:
- The Statue of Liberty is halfway underwater.
- The Bulb ends up getting accidentally destroyed by a 500 ball.
- Mundane Afterlife: One theory about Humanity's immortality is that it constitutes the afterlife, being a particularly strange Heaven or a mundane Hell. It's debated at several points in-universe, and Nine in particular comes to firmly believe that the endless eternity outstretched before them is a form of Heaven.
- Nanomachines: Chapter 5 reveals that they were first deployed in the 2800s, essentially being perfected by the 3500s. They serve to save people from accidents and environmental hazards.
- no punctuation is funnier:
- Juice uses little to no punctuation by default, which suits his flippant jokester attitude.
- Ten sometimes drops punctuation (or even capitals) reacting to some situation she perceives as ridiculous (e.g. Game 27), which makes for a humorous contrast with her usual standards. Lampshaded by Nine in 20020:Nine: Ha, love it when you stop punctuating. Its like youre groaning. Its endearing.
Ten: Fuck you there is nothing endearing about me
- Odd Name Out: The three satellites go by Nine, Ten and Juice.
- Post-Scarcity Economy: Part and parcel of having perfected nanobots thousands of years ago, with them protecting people from any serious harm and being capable of creating food from nothing when needed (though only granola bars). People only really work if they want to, and money seems to persists out of nostalgia more than anything else; at one point a character gets given money straight out of a restaurant's cash register without it being commented on as unusual or strange.
- Riddle for the Ages: The cause of all of humanity gaining Complete Immortality is never explained, and neither Ten or Juice offer any possible reasons; the only one the series ever discusses is the belief that the future is some form of Heaven. One of the themes of the story is that mystery is a precious, non-renewable resource, and as long as there's something out there to discover, humanity will always have something to keep them from falling into total ennui.
- Running Gag:
- Whether Ten is Nine's older sister (having become sentient long, long before they did) or their younger sister (having been built and launched after them). Nine admits to finding it embarrassing, and it's one of the first things they discuss at the beginning of 20020.
- Juice's fixation on Lunchables, which likewise returns at the beginning of 20020.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: The series is full of it, from the probes' discussion of garden-hoe slapstick, to Emily's explanation of Fermi estimates, to the barkeeper telling Nancy about the States Ballroom in Bee, Nebraska.
- Serial Escalation: American football underwent this once humanity became immortal. By the time the story begins, the playing field has expanded to include entire states within their boundaries, and it's common for games to subsequently take decades to finish. There's also the matter of tornadoes...
- Serious Business:
- One of the story's underlying themes is how humanity will always revere games (in this case, American football) throughout all of time.
- The Koy Detmer ball collectors in chapter 4 take their game very seriously. Jason remarks on how another group had hacked into his computer to destroy his notes in where to find the balls.
- Short-Runners: 17776 ran for only ten days, and 20020 is planned to last for four weeks. Notably, 17776 still managed to attract a sizeable fandom during its run.
- Shown Their Work: A substantial part of the series is Bois's explorations of strange and obscure bits of history, geography, and pop culture. Especially the case in 20020, where the small quirks of the fields' geography and historical parallels are constantly being brought up and discussed.
- Skewed Priorities: A recurring source of humor throughout the story.
- Upon being informed of being a space probe, Nine proceeds to ask two questions: the current year... and if Steely Dan is still together.
- Juice is prone to this - he's not overly happy that humanity got rid of all its ills because it also got rid of Lunchables, and holds the nanomachines protecting humanity from dangers in some contempt because it prevents them from stepping on garden hoes. (Ten admits to agreeing with him on the latter.)
- Society of Immortals: All of humanity are immortal as of April 7th, 2026.
- Spiritual Successor: 17776 was originally conceived as a sequel to Bois's earlier The Tim Tebow CFL Chronicles, and both works revolve around an absurdist take on football and share similar existentialist themes.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: A benign version. The satellites have a near-limitless ability to watch over life on Earth, which they use because they're Intrigued by Humanity and like to know what's going on. And, in Juice's case, to monitor every Rake Take on the planet.
- Take That!: Jon Bois takes the opportunity to take potshots at several things in this story. The Burger King patty, for one, is viciously savaged in the Livermore, California chapter.
- Team Mom: Ten is the most caring and level-headed of the group; waking up Nine and explaining most of that has happened since they were launched in the 1960s. She also doubles as Little Sister Instinct, often telling off Juice for harassing them and even formally introducing herself to Nine as their little sister once they properly wake up.
- Title by Year: All works so far are titled with the year in which they are set.
- Two-Part Trilogy: 17776 works as a standalone piece with a bunch of interconnected vignettes, and no individual story that could be considered the "main" plot. 20020 introduces an overarching plot, then ends on an overt Sequel Hook with the main plot still unresolved. In addition, several millennia pass between part 1 and part 2 of the trilogy (and their publication dates were three years apart), while part 3 comes just one year after part 2 (both In-Universe and in real life). In his announcement tweet, Jon Bois even says that 20020 and 20021 are a single story that proved too long to cover in just twelve chapters.
- Utopia: The world depicted in the story is a strange case. Technically, it is a utopia - humanity has achieved all its goals, gotten past war and disease, and even become immortal... but now there's the emptiness of a lack of purpose to keep going.Ten: And now boredom is their only enemy. And they get up in the morning and fight it every day of their eternal lives. Recreation and play sustain them. Football sustains them.
- Victory Is Boring: Humanity has rid themselves of all problems, including death. Now their last problem is boredom, so they spend all day playing.
- Wham Shot:
- In a meta sense, the initial article's lettering suddenly expanding into black, leading into the actual beginning of the story.
- During the first video, the shot of the Statue of Liberty... only for the camera to pull back, showing it partially submerged in water (firmly establishing the setting).
- What Year Is This?: Nine asks this immediately after learning that they're a space probe. Nine continues to ask this at the start of 20020 when they're trying to figure out how long they've been asleep.
- Who Wants to Live Forever?:
- Ten says the following after Nine comments on how all the players in Arizona seem crazy for playing a stalemated game for over ten thousand years:Ten: I think they're just doing the best they can with immortality. A human being will rarely admit this to you, but they tend to be terrified of living forever. They were born and raised with the understanding that their lives would end. They've achieved everything they wanted to achieve, all the ills that plagued them.
Ten: And now boredom is their only enemy. And they get up in the morning and fight it every day of their eternal lives. Recreation and play sustain them. Football sustains them. And if you find yourself in a football game that's such a gargantuan task, that seems undefeatable, that will claim eons of your time and your passion?
Ten: I think that makes you one of the lucky ones.
- Arguably inverted by Jason in Chapter 24, who expresses horror at the idea of mortality.Jason: No other creature in the universe woke up every morning knowing it was guaranteed to die one day. Just us. Nobody should have to live with that. It's too much, it isn't right. No one ever should have had to bear it.
- Ten says the following after Nine comments on how all the players in Arizona seem crazy for playing a stalemated game for over ten thousand years:
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: All of humanity's ills, including literal illnesses and disease, have been eliminated. Nanomachines prevent injury from even occurring.
- Written Sound Effect: The space probes write out their sighs and sound effects in messages to each other. Justified, as they are space probes that can't hear each other but can communicate over text.
- Younger Than They Look: People stopped aging in 2026, but nobody looks it.Juice: thanks to medical technologies, people can essentially be whatever age they feel like between 20ish and 100ish.
- Amusing Injuries: In-Universe, Ten remarks on her feelings about this trope:Ten: I mean, I love the people down there, I do. I am in love with every single one of those little critters. That doesn't mean the slapstick injury isn't funny.
- Audience? What Audience?: After Eddie addresses the reader in chapter 20, Tim asks him who he's talking to.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: Near the end of Chapter 9, Ten makes the mistake of having Juice change the channel.
- Big "NO!":
- Ten drops a couple of these in relation to Game 27.
- It's also Juice's final reaction to a game of 500 destroying a historical artifact.
- Big "WHY?!": During the third part of the intermission, Ten interrupts Nine's rambling with one of these - not in anguish, but rather to lead into her subsequent argument.
- Big "YES!": Juice's reaction to Nine becoming fascinated with Game 27.
- Bittersweet Ending:
- A minor one. The story ends with Nine needing to deactivate in order to charge. Ten reassures them that they are going to wake up again. At best, it may only take a few months, but it's not like time is an issue anymore, right?Nine: I need to make a partition in my data storage. This is the end, right? The end of this story?
Ten: We were always at the end.
It's a free play, buddy. Clock's all zeroes.
It's after the end of the world.
- Also, for a story where one of the major themes is that no one dies anymore, there is a death in the form of the smashing of the Bulb.
- A minor one. The story ends with Nine needing to deactivate in order to charge. Ten reassures them that they are going to wake up again. At best, it may only take a few months, but it's not like time is an issue anymore, right?
- Born Unlucky: Lacrecia Evans, whose poor luck over ten thousand years of a single game of 500 has attracted attention from sports historians and statisticians. If it were pure random chance, Lacrecia should have caught the ball about three hundred times in that time period—but somehow, she hasn't caught it once. And when her losing streak finally ends, even that victory is bittersweet... because she catches the throw that destroyed a historical artifact.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: During Chapter 20, Eddie Krieger decides to personally address the reader in regards to Eleven Jones Cave, specifically that it's extremely dangerous. However, it's also implied that Eddie is actually insane and was talking to no one.Tim: Who are you talking to?
Eddie: Don't worry about it.
- Call-Back: Late in the first chapter, Nine immediately asks whether Steely Dan is still together. Much later, chapter 20 opens with Eddie Krieger singing their song "The Caves of Altamira".
- The Cameo: The Hubble Space Telescope briefly speaks in chapter 13.
- Caustic Critic: In-Universe, the podcast Garbage Football serves to mock the worst of the sport's 15,000 year-long history.
- Collector of the Strange: Chapter 4 eventually segues into a discussion about a group of people who decided to to hold a competition to try and find every ball Koy Detmer had ever autographed.
- Cool Old Lady: Nancy McGunnell was 72 when humanity stopped aging. She not only plays football, she deliberately jumps into a tornado as part of a game.
- Did Not Think This Through: One possible explanation for why one game of football is currently stuck down a ravine.
- Driven to Suicide: Ten jokingly threatens to crash into an asteroid as the Game 27 conversation continues. Fittingly, this is mere moments before she starts getting legitimately mad about it.
- Don't Try This at Home: Ed Krieger is hiding in Eleven Jones Cave, which has dangerous concentrations of carbon dioxide. Ed blatantly breaks the fourth wall to warn you that you will die should you try to visit the cave yourself—emphasizing that Complete Immortality is the only thing keeping Ed alive.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe, Juice's increasingly harsh jokes at Nine at the beginning of chapter 9 earns him the disapproval of Ten and eventually causes Nine to snap at him.
- Failed a Spot Check: While recounting her story of finding a new apartment in Chapter 4, Lori drops the bombshell that, while doing dishes one day, she suddenly realized she lived in that apartment before.Lori: You know, actually, I went back and looked it up. I'd lived there for two years back in 7174. And I realized I'd arranged the furniture pretty much the same way and everything. Oh God, it was so weird.
- First-Episode Twist: Main character Nine is Pioneer 9, newly awakened to sapience, and the three protagonists are all space probes.
- Flooded Future World: Established with the shot of the Statue of Liberty chest-deep in water by 17776; a Freeze-Frame Bonus shows major geographical changes, including Florida and Louisiana completely flooded. The epilogue reassures people that affected populations were safely relocated with future technology.
- Foregone Conclusion: Chapter 18 concerns Lacrecia Evans being able to finally get the 500 ball. If you saw the ending of Chapter 17, you already know the end result of this latest launch.IT'S BROKEN! IT'S BROKEN! IT'S GONE!
It went right through the roof. Right just, went right through it.
Oh my God. Oh my fucking God.
- In the video of the first chapter, before basically anything is explained, the final president you can see as serving a term is Bernie Sanders, whose term would start in 2049 — which would make him 107 years old at its beginning.
- During Chapter 8, during a discussion about laying down sidewalk, there is a disconcertingly long pause after the line "And it's not like there's any kids around."
- Freeze-Frame Bonus:
- Since the reader only has less than a minute to read the starting article before the lettering suddenly blows up, a lot of the finer details turn into these.note For example, there's a fictitious "University of College" advertisement with this quote:"Something is terribly wrong."
- The first video opens on a rapidly scrolling list of all the presidents of the United States. The list continues past the present day — pausing at the right times reveals various future Presidents (all real world politicians, among them Bernie Sanders in 2049), and also that Donald Trump served two terms.
- Freeze-framing the gif in Chapter 4 reveals major geographical changes to the US◊, later confirmed to be from rising seawater due to the polar ice caps melting: the northeast has been reshaped (alluded to in the dialogue and final chapter image of New York), Lousiana and Florida have disappeared, and the San Francisco bay, now known as Lake Sacramento, runs the length of California, having spilled into the Central Valley.
- Since the reader only has less than a minute to read the starting article before the lettering suddenly blows up, a lot of the finer details turn into these.note For example, there's a fictitious "University of College" advertisement with this quote:
- From Bad to Worse: Played for laughs: it was bad enough for Ten that Juice wants to talk about Game 27. Then:Nine: I think I'm fascinated by this game.
- Gone Horribly Right: JUICE, the socialist French satellite, sees Game 27 as the end state of capitalism in its purest form: a bunch of people pursuing their own self-interest, squabbling with each other over some resource, and accomplishing nothing.
- Gone Horribly Wrong: Ten, the American satellite, sees Game 27 as a perversion of capitalism. She agrees that letting capitalism run wild with zero oversight always results in quagmires like this, but she insists capitalism was never intended to work with zero oversight.
- Golden Snitch: Eddie Krieger's football game has a rule (most likely copied accidentally from a prior game) that if a team can keep possession of the ball within their own end zone for 10,000 years, then they automatically win regardless of prior score. Ed exploited this rule by taking the ball and hiding in a cave.
- The Hermit: Eddie Krieger. He lives inside a cave in Louisville so that he could win a losing game by waiting 10,000 years in his team's end zone. So far he's successfully hid for 9,313 years.
- Jump Scare: Anyone's first interaction with the story is going to be the article's lettering suddenly expanding without warning.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Most fan art/discussions/etc. openly mention that 9, 10 and Juice are space probes. Downplayed, in that this is a spoiler only for the first chapter.
- The Law of Conservation of Detail: Juice lampshades the use of it throughout the series by going through a laundry list of things Nine was probably worried about before they shut down to charge. Click here for the list
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- Ten mentions how people are "tuning out" near the end of chapter 10, and goes on to explain to Nine that people on Earth are in fact listening to them talk (or were, until Juice began talking about capitalism running wild).
- Juice is practically livid when Nine reveals Ten mentioning the population of Earth being around 8 million people, not 8 billion. He even plans to give her shit later for "[killing] almost 8 billion people with a typo".
- Literal Metaphor: Lampshaded in chapter 6:
- Monumental Damage: Lady Liberty is seen submerged in water in the title card.
- Mood Whiplash:
- The third part of the intermission builds up to one of the deepest moments in the entire story... with a brief interlude where Nine remarks on the abstract way it's presented:Nine: Uh, the readability of this is kinda
Ten: Shut the fuck up.
- Chapter 17 has the usual smooth jazz playing in a video as the satellites talk about where the ball might land. Then it goes into discordant droning and beeping sounds as the ball is fired and hits and destroys the Bulb.
- The final chapter kicks off as Ten, Nine, and Juice return from talking to Nancy and prepare to watch another game. Just as they're excitedly going over it, we're suddenly met face to face with Nine's battery about to run out.
- The third part of the intermission builds up to one of the deepest moments in the entire story... with a brief interlude where Nine remarks on the abstract way it's presented:
- OOC Is Serious Business:
- Nine telling Juice to go fuck himself is treated like a big moment. Ten acknowledges that this is Nine's first time dealing with anger and Juice is awed by it.
- Just one chapter later, Juice suddenly using proper punctuation when talking about Game 27 gets acknowledged by Ten.
- In Chapter 15, Nine is so affected by Ten's lengthy discussion about humanity's new purpose in life that they start omitting ending punctuation and seem depressed overall. (Juice eventually manages to help them feel better.)
- In Chapter 17, Juice and Ten become horrified as they discover that the 500 ball is heading for Livermore, California. More specifically, the Bulb.
- Played for Laughs with Ten momentarily abandoning proper capitalization and punctuation in reaction to Game 27, and again after Nine admits to believing in a higher power.
- Painting the Medium: The third part of the intermission has a lot of this. As Nine and Ten move right, their text spaces eventually follow suit; Ten interrupts Nine's ramblings with a literal Big "WHY?!"; and when they start to drift upwards, the conversation has to be read from the bottom up (which Nine quickly lampshades).
- P.O.V. Sequel: Chapter 18 is both this and an Immediate Sequel to Chapter 17, since it concerns Lacrecia Evans's perspective of the ill-fated 500 ball launch that smashed the Bulb.
- Rage Breaking Point:
- Downplayed, but Juice describing them as the voicebox of a Teddy Ruxpin causes Nine to finally snap at him.Nine: You know what, fuck you.
- Nine refusing to let go of the fact that the Space Program ended causes Ten to just scream "WHY?"
- Downplayed, but Juice describing them as the voicebox of a Teddy Ruxpin causes Nine to finally snap at him.
- Rake Take: Juice (and Ten) think these are hilarious.Juice: do u have any idea how goddam funny it is when someone steps on a garden hoe
Juice: back in the day i tracked every garden hoe lying on the ground in the whole world [...] and i'd just sit up here & watch em & watch em & watch em. swear to god for like 200 yrs that's all i did
Ten: He's not lying. He did. I mean, I did too. It was pretty funny.
Juice: and 0.2248257% of the time they'd step on the teeth and itd push up and hit em in the face like BLAAAPP. rarest of jewels.
- Chapter 16 gets temporarily derailed when Juice learns that Ten told Nine that the population of Earth since 2026 was around 8 million.Juice: god
10 thinks shes so smart and then she up and kills almost 8 billion people with a typo
i am gonna give her so much shit
- The error gets alluded to again in Chapter 24, where a character gives the population of Chicago as 3 "billion", then immediately corrects herself to a more correct 3 million.
- Chapter 16 gets temporarily derailed when Juice learns that Ten told Nine that the population of Earth since 2026 was around 8 million.
- Show Within a Show: The podcast Garbage Football, which is the sole focus of chapter 6.
- Silence of Sadness: In chapter 15, after their talk with Ten about humanity's purpose, Nine is feeling down and is notably terse in their responses as well as omitting end punctuation.Juice: ten give you the talk?Nine: YeahJuice: how you doin with itNine: I don't know[beat]Juice: you uhJuice: you wanna watch some footballNine: YesJuice: what kinda game you wanna watchNine: I don't knowJuice: you ok?Nine: I don't care
- So Bad, It's Good: In-universe. Chapter 10 revolves around Juice telling Nine about Game 27, a game between the Denver Broncos and the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2080s/2090s that morphed into "a rainbow of failed ideas". Juice views it as this - Ten outright hates it. This divide only deepens when Juice reveals that people still turn up to watch it.
- Tomato in the Mirror: The Reveal at the end of the first chapter - Nine is actually Pioneer 9.
- Unfortunate Names: The hosts of Garbage Football pause their discussion of Game 96249 to mock the rural towns adjacent to the game, for having unimaginative names like Circleville, Meadows, and New Meadows.
- Wham Line: One exchange in particular comes from the end of the first chapter, and ends up constituting the First-Episode Spoiler of the series:Ten: Listen to me. You are not on a space probe.
Ten: Nine, you are a space probe.
- Writers Cannot Do Math:
- In the second chapter, Ten claims that there are 8 million people on Earth by the time immortality came about in 2026 - a stark fall from the 7 billion alive in 2017. This gets addressed (with some indirect Self-Deprecation) in chapter 16, where Juice reveals that the actual number is a more logical 8 billion.Juice: 10 thinks shes so smart and then she up and kills almost 8 billion people with a typo
Juice: i am gonna give her so much shit
- Averted in the first chapter. Ten reveals that she's three and a half trillion miles away from Nine; assuming Pioneer 9 is still in orbit of the Sun in 17776 and Pioneer 10's current speed of 7.479 miles/s, the math actually works out. The distance is also correct for their initial 434-year round-trip speed-of-light radio communications. Bois clearly did his homework.
- In the second chapter, Ten claims that there are 8 million people on Earth by the time immortality came about in 2026 - a stark fall from the 7 billion alive in 2017. This gets addressed (with some indirect Self-Deprecation) in chapter 16, where Juice reveals that the actual number is a more logical 8 billion.
- Yank the Dog's Chain:
- By pure luck, Lacrecia Evans winds up being in the right area to finally get the 500 ball, with a 99.9% probability of getting it. It's just a shame that the ball in question is the one that smashed the Bulb.
- In the Koy Detmer ball-collecting game, Jason Durabo was in the lead until he got stabbed in the back and had his 26 balls destroyed. He gets a lead on another ball in the ruins of New York City, which would get him back in the game. But he finds the ball in question was signed by Ty Detmer, and worthless for his purposes. On the other hand, the trip to New York gives Jason a great idea for a new football game.
- All There in the Manual: Juice links Nine to the rules of the Bowl Game in Chapter 4, which links to a page that contains the list of rules in their entirety.
- And the Adventure Continues: At the end of 20020, Nick and Manny managed to evade the onslaught Oklahoma State while retaining their footballs, and regroup in Missouri, with Nick having to burn off most of his OBT just to pull it off. The rest of the trek back home lays before them.
- Anger Born of Worry: Ten is pissed Nine burnt through their battery doing more research during the last chapter, something Juice states is her just entering "big sister mode".Juice: you know Nines gonna do what they want
Ten: I know.
I guess I just miss them already.
- Ask a Stupid Question...:
- In Chapter 5, Nine asks Ten if she has a minute. She responds by checking her "upcoming events calendar", which is quite predictably rather empty.
- In Chapter 12:Manny: Hold up, I gotta piss.
Manny: Oh no, not now. I was just thinking, thats something Id like to do someday. Its on my bucket list.
Manny: Yes, now! Jesus!
- Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite Juice and Ten's bickering, Juice records the sunrise on Earth for Ten to see, since she's 4 trillion miles away.
- Bait-and-Switch: During "you are looking LIVE", right when the plan with the train is meant to be going underway, Juice and Nine notice that Nick is seemingly wasting valuable time trying to get the train to go, as it is not moving the longer he burns his OBT. Eventually, after roughly a minute and 16 seconds, the train takes off... and is going faster than expected. As it's quickly discovered, Nick was decoupling cars from the train during that time.
- Born in the Wrong Century: What Nine concludes of Eugene Jennings, a man who kept escaping from Kentucky State Penitentiary in the late fifties to late sixties, with no other motive than wanting to be free.We can't pretend to truly know Eugene Jennings, but he strikes me as a person meant for another time. Another world where freedom is true and unconditional, where property can be forgotten. Sins can be forgiven. Failings can be embraced. He never asked or expected to live forever. Even now, it's hard to believe he would stay within the lines. But I know he would have loved this American sandbox. To run, to explore without consequence, to wander without meaning, to play. To love and enjoy our own world. I think he saw this coming. It's all he ever wanted. It's all we ever wanted.
- Bragging Rights Reward: Downplayed: One of the first things we are exposed to in the story is a political ad from one Joshua Alexander, who wants to be the state governor of Georgia... just for the Hell of it.You know, I grew up on a farm outside of Dalton. And maybe its just my simple country upbringing, but I dont believe much in politics. I dont have a political platform of any kind. I have no agenda. Leave it to a country boy like me to lay it out straight, I suppose: I want to be governor just to be governor. I cant even explain to you where this impulse comes from.
- Cluster F-Bomb: In Chapter 2, Nine gets fed up with Juice's "test":Test: Hello again! This is the test speaking.
Nine: FUck you man
Test: Would you like to be friends with me?
Test: It is very lonely being a test! The essay question is the closest I ever get to having a conversation! Please dont go! Save me! I love you!
Nine: asss ass ass ufck ass fuck ass
- Contrived Coincidence:
- Jesse James' gang hid $63,000 they robbed... that one of the gang members, Cole Younger also failed to find. The situation with the football Chuck Hamilton hid. Not only, as Ten points out, did Chuck lose track of a ball he hid in a chest near Lost City, Oklahoma, but as Nine reveals, that is the same location and chest
- As it turns out, the values of the access key to the lock NASA put on Nine's Stanford antenna correlate to the uniform numbers of the players involved with the Band Play during the 1982 game against the California Golden Bears.
- Cue Card Pause: When Ten pushes Juice to say how many football teams are involved with his game, he types out "11"... and hangs on that for a few seconds before adding one more "1".
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Chapter 9 showcases a scrimmage play between the Vanderbilt Commodores and the University of Alabama-Birmingham. A team of 57 players, set up like a giant fortress, against a team of 8. And no, Vanderbilt isn't the one pulling this trope off: it soon becomes apparent that UAB intentionally forced a scrimmage play in one particular triangular section of fields in the middle of Indiana... so that the safety in the far back, Valentine Jones, can make the 225 yard sprint around to the back of the opposing team while they are distracted, steal their ball and book it. After the encounter, VAND doesn't even bother trying to go after the ball, all the while we see Valentine complain about how easy that was.
- Despite being severely handicapped by the oceans being declared forbidden, San Diego refused to withdraw from the game. Not only that, but Nick and Manny spent the better part of 1500 years practicing their cross-training and building up enough Out-Of-Bounds time in order to hop fields.Juice: for 1500 years, they dutifully stayed on the field, endlessly cross training through the mountains and improving their five-mile run time
then one day in the year 19304, with 25 minutes saved up apiece, they went for broke
their pace was unlike anything the sport had ever seen. they both maintained a 3:53-mile pace for nearly five miles note
they made it in 18:57.
- After being informed Tanner was put back on hold when attempting to call Pizza Barn, Tucker takes the phone away and repeatedly screams "Representative!" into the phone... despite the fact he is talking to a recorded message.
- Despite being severely handicapped by the oceans being declared forbidden, San Diego refused to withdraw from the game. Not only that, but Nick and Manny spent the better part of 1500 years practicing their cross-training and building up enough Out-Of-Bounds time in order to hop fields.
- Exact Words: This is what leads Nine to realize Nick and Manny were planning on using a train to get their footballs across two fields: all the rule book for the Bowl Game stated was that you couldn't use anything that required steering.Ten: You steer a train, though, clearly. When you move the switches, youre essentially steering.
Nine: YOU dont, though. Its automated. All youre doing is firing it up and shoving it down the track. Where it goes from there is out of your hands.
- Faux Horrific: The first 20020 chapter has a man, Richard Diaz, receive urgent medical care and attention after becoming bored in a Cracker Barrel parking lot.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: Right at the start of his presentation about the Bowl Game that he helped design, Juice immediately asks Nine and Ten to not be mad.
- Manny and Nick's train exploit has some hints leading up to it:
- The incident with the truck at the end of Chapter 4 gives Juice the opportunity to showcase how the scoring system for the game works: for all teams currently still playing, they have a running total of how many footballs are present on their individual field.note This has a massive payoff three chapters later, when Nick and Manny exploit a train to pass their footballs across to Michigan State's field and trick every nearby team into thinking the balls were still on Georgia Tech's.
- Chapter 6 has Juice wind up being contacted by Manny himself, inquiring about "a very minor discrepancy" in the game plan he and Nick submitted back in 19733. We actually are shown a section of this game plan in question; in particular, a page referencing Addendum 203a from the Bowl Game's official rule book, which produces a Long List of vechicles declared illegal to be used. At no point is it explicitly stated that runaway vehicles were illegal.
- When Juice offers to arrange a call to the Sharks for Nine, they express interest in "[learning] more about these people", causing Juice to laugh at the use of "people". As it happens, when Nine talks to one Mimi Mackenzie, she reveals that she's the only Shark.
- While talking with Mimi, the font for Nine's lines starts getting lighter randomly. It soon becomes apparent that their battery is getting spent again.
- It is repeatedly mentioned throughout 20020 that Nine has a gift for research. This is why their battery starts to go dead towards the end; their Stanford antenna was "[chewing] up the battery".
- Manny and Nick's train exploit has some hints leading up to it:
- Gave Up Too Soon: To the satellites' infinite disappointment, Chuck was literally standing on where he hid his football... and walked away without realizing it.
- Genre Shift: 20020 has a markedly different tone and style than 17776, being less philosophical and more directly focused on the games, and the stories that occur alongside them, as well as having a standardized presentation compared to 17776's more experimental chapters.
- Hidden in Plain Sight:
- Because no one expected anyone from San Diego to actually still be in the game, Nick and Manny were able to rent an apartment near Georgia Tech and spend hundreds of years establishing themselves as "ordinary Georgia folk".
- After Juice mentions that there are 38 players on Georgia's field in Chapter 4, a discrepancy is soon discovered when the satellites notice there's 37 visible on the map. The reason being? Two of the circles are overlapped.
- The only thing obscuring the chest Chuck Hamilton used to hide his football was some leaves. And yet, he still could not see it.
- History Repeats: A major theme of 20020 is how history repeats itself, even if it takes a really long time, with prominent examples being the lost treasure chest of Jesse James now holding a treasured football, and Nick and Manny pulling off a runaway train stunt from 1910. 20020 winds up ending with Nine acknowledging this in the email they shot off before shutting back down for a few months after seeing Nick and Manny's escapades in Bumpus Mills:As Nick and Manny were scrambling around Bumpus Mills, it sparked an old memory of a man named Eugene Jennings, sometimes known as Gene Robert Jennings, someone doing very something similar in the same place. As you know, this has been a running theme lately. It makes me feel as though were all living in reruns. I suppose thats natural, though, in circumstances where land ends and time doesnt.
- Historical Hero Upgrade: Discussed: As a result of being built by 20th-century Americans, Nine's records of Jesse James paint him as being "Robin Hood with a gun"... something they acknowledge as being very much wrong.Ten: This is gonna be a problem for you, Nine. It was for me. It still IS for me sometimes.
You've got a gift for research. Just remember that this is the country that turned Confederate mass murderers into Johnny Appleseed.
- Incredibly Lame Fun: After informing the Cracker Barrel employees that he had become bored, Richard Diaz was given a book about ants by the local police (who had responded to the "emergency").
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
- In chapter 3, when Nine expresses discomfort with listening in on Nick and Manny's private conversation, Juice assures them that all the players agreed to be mic'ed, and adds:Juice: besides you know someone out theres probably listening in on us. guaranteed
- When explaining his plan to get Nine's battery recharged, Juice mentions that it would take a couple of months, "later winter to early spring" for it to be fully charged, which would also give Nick and Manny enough time to make it across the country.
- In the email Nine shot off to Ten before shutting down, the following is written as the opener:Sorry to cut and run on you. I would have liked to say a proper goodbye. I guess Ill see you in 20021.
- In chapter 3, when Nine expresses discomfort with listening in on Nick and Manny's private conversation, Juice assures them that all the players agreed to be mic'ed, and adds:
- Lighter and Softer: Some of the more bleak and darker elements of 17776 as a future where "something has gone horribly wrong" are downplayed in 20020, exemplified by Nine going from having an existential crisis in 17776 about humanity's squandered potential to viewing the future as a form of Heaven.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Discussed as Ten and Juice observe Manny and Nick, with Juice conjecturing that the couple's solid relationship lets them spend their time arguing about little things. While Manny and Nick themselves are not an example of this trope since they're actually married, the conversation segues into how this dynamic applies to relationships in general, with Ten bringing up her and Juice's relationship as an example.Juice: kind of an interesting relationship dynamic between these two. be honest with you, ive never seen a happier couple. they just get in their little things sometimes
i think honestly since theyve got such a solid foundation to their relationship they actually have the time and energy left over to argue about the little things.
Ten: I think every relationship has to have at least some of that, though. Its like a its kind of like a clutch in a transmission, right? It has to be rough so it has something it can actually grip onto. That friction is the only way anything changes.
Juice: that analogy sucks
Ten: Oh come on, its not that bad.
Juice: eh it kinda sucks
Ten: Well I mean, thats us right? Thats our relationship. I think a third of all my interaction with you is accounted for by arguing.
Juice: we aint married though lady
Ten: Ohhh ho ho. And thank God for that.
- Loophole Abuse:
- Inverted: Prior to the start of Juice's game, in 17804, there was a debate over whether or not to include Hawaii, as (since motorized vehicles were forbidden, but any sea-based vessel was fair game) it would've meant the game would be more akin to a seafairing game. It was eventually decided to make the oceans forbidden, resulting in Hawaii withdrawing from the game... and also severely handicapping San Diego Statenote .
- Meanwhile, one specific rule is what allowed Nick and Manny to get to Atlanta: Out-Of-Bounds Time. With regular OB, if you are outside the field, you have ten seconds to get back on, or you are removed from the game. But with OBT, "for every year you spend on the field, you are granted one extra second off it". So, Nick and Manny spent 1500 years staying on their field, cross-training through the mountains, in order to build up enough extra time in order to make a five-mile run to make it to the nearest field.
- Manny and Nick exploit another loophole to transport several footballs from one field to another (which do not intersect each other). While players can not drive or steer vehicles during play, nor allow people from outside the game to transport footballs for them, it is allowed to use unknowing members of the public for transport. In addition, trains were ruled legal by Juice after a challenge by Northwestern. Thus, Manny and Nick wait in an opportune area of the country, waiting for a train to come at the right moment to transport the footballs.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: While focusing on Georgia's field in Chapter 4, Juice mentions that they have 38 people on the field. Except, when he mentions that there's "11 players taking shifts as linemen and seven more in the immediate backfield [...] [and] 19 more a little further back, just kinda sittin around", it's acknowledged that adds up to 37 players. And then a closer inspection of the map is done...Juice: hmm
[zooms in on one singular circle on the map... revealing another circle on top]
Juice: WHOAAA OKAY
CUT IT OFF CUT IT OFF
I DIDNT SEE SHIT
I DIDNT SEE NOTHIN
YALL HAVE UH
Ten: In the middle of a play? Thats bold.
- Mathematician's Answer: Juice's explanation for why Tucker is trying to order pizza in the middle of a play?Juice: well youd imagine hes hungry, wouldnt you
- Moment Killer: In chapter 12, the Oklahoma coach's Rousing Speech is interrupted by a player yelling over the phone that a fish bit him on the dick.
- Mosquito Miscreants: Valentine Jones, a safety for Alabama-Birmingham, hates mosquitos so much, she attempted a Senate campaign in 12448 that ran on the platform of eradicating the species.Although Ive reached the difficult decision to suspend my campaign, I will not abandon my fight against mosquitoes. Jones said in prepared remarks. I remain convinced that we can and will find suitable alternative food sources for bats, birds, toads, and all of Gods creatures who feed on these bedbugs of the sky.
Jones ran as a member of the Fuck Mosquitoes party, a fringe movement dedicated to the nationwide eradication of mosquitoes.
- Mythology Gag: Chapter 10 features football players from Troy State, who mention a basketball game against DeVry where Troy scored 258 points, referencing one of Jon's Pretty Good videos about that exact topic. The players even question whether the score was 258 or 253, a discrepency Jon discovered while researching the video, and Ten follows up on the idea of collaborative sports that Jon uses to discuss the game.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: When Georgia Tech and Georgia cross paths in Chapter 4, Tucker from Georgia decides to throw the football towards Tanner, the center... but winds up getting the ball into the back of a truck going down the highway. And since it's illegal to leave the field, and the driver seemingly doesn't notice a ball landed in the back, Georgia is screwed.
- Noodle Incident: After catching two players having sex in the middle of the game in Chapter 4, Juice admits this isn't the first time this happened.Juice: i try to respect peoples privacy, i really do, but goddamn
- Popcultural Osmosis: Juice considers Jesse James Meets Frankenstein's Daughter his favorite film. He has never seen it.
- Popcultural Osmosis Failure: Juice believes David Attenborough is "the set it and forget it guy", and assumes Analyze That was originally a book... that was inspired by a lunchbox.
- Ridiculously Long Phone Hold: Tanner and Tucker from Georgia ordered a pizza from Pizza Barn in the middle of the game, but when 45 minutes pass since it was meant to arrive, they try to call and ask where it is. As Nine points out, by the time Chapter 4 starts, they have been on hold for an hour.
- Ripped from the Headlines: Variation: Juice brings up how UAB planned to move to a new stadium in 2021, only for "an economic crisis" to hit, preventing those plans, though Juice has absolutely no idea what caused the crisis.
- Rip Van Winkle: Downplayed compared to 17776: Nine's been asleep since the end of 17776 and Ten fell asleep not long after, meaning they both missed out entirely on the Bowl Game.
- Running Gag: Ten denying liking the Bowl Game, despite attempts to get her to admit otherwise.
- In chapter 4, as she remarks on the complexity of the alliances:Juice: its very personally gratifying for me to see you coming around on this game
Ten: NO. Im not coming around on anything. This is all stupid. Its just stupid in such a labyrinthine fashion that once in a while itll produce something cool by accident.
- In chapter 6, as she gets into trying to figure out Nick and Manny's plan:Nine: You like this game.
Ten: No, I dont. There are things ABOUT it that I like.
- In chapter 9, after Valentine sneaks behind Vanderbilt's defence to snatch the ball and sprint away before they've even realized what's happened:Ten: Holy shit, thats so funny.
Juice: you like it! you like my game! see?
Ten: No no no no. There are things about it that I like. Thats different.
Juice: uh huh
- In chapter 12, as she frets over Nick and Manny's attempt to avoid Oklahoma State:Ten: I dont like this.
Juice: lol look at you, youre obsessed with this game
Ten: I JUST SAID I DONT LIKE THIS.
- In chapter 4, as she remarks on the complexity of the alliances:
- Serial Escalation: In the millennia since 17776, Juice helped design the Bowl Game, which is the most monstrous football game imaginable, a 111-team abomination that crisscrosses the entire continental United States and has thousands of players.
- Serious Business: University of Alabama-Birmingham takes the Bowl Game very seriously.Juice: fast-forward a few decades and suddenly UAB is the standard bearer for the most football-crazy state in the nation note
Juice: they've been waiting on a bowl game of this magnitude for thousands of years. naturally, when they got it, they went all in
Juice: they're gonna win this and they know it
Nine: Roll Tide.
Juice: roll damn tide.
- Smug Super: The University of Alabama-Birmingham is so good at football they printed out and shared their main offensive tactic, the Steamroller, knowing the opposing teams couldn't do a thing about it. Said formation was essentially a parade tromping up and down the country, knowing nobody could take their footballs. They were correct.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: When Juice thinks David Attenborough is "the set it and forget it guy", Ten opts not to correct him.Ten: Youre letting out a lot of David Attenborough energy. I like it.
Juice: is that the set it and forget it guy
Ten: Yes. Yes, thats exactly who that is.
- This Is Gonna Suck:
- It quickly becomes apparent that Juice had created a monster of a football game when, after explaining how Georgia State and Georgia Tech fit into it, he admits that Purdue doesn't really... before then admitting the true amount of teams involved.
- The situation Nick and Manny find themselves in at the end of Chapter 3, as laid out by Juice: While they managed to acquire the footballs, they need to return back to their field in San Diego with them in tow, and they need to effectively shave a minute off of their original 18:57 sprint across fieldsnote , and Juice flat out states he doesn't think they can make it.
- Time Skip: Around 2244 years have passed since 17776.
- Two Aliases, One Character: "Coach E" of Oklahoma State turns out to be Lacrecia Evans, who continues her Born Unlucky streak by letting Nick and Manny get away with their nine footballs.
- Wham Shot: Towards the end of "What do you think?", Juice and Ten locate Nick and Manny's location on the map... and notice a giant swarm of players coming in from the west.
- Won't Take "Yes" for an Answer: Given how he is repeatedly screaming "Representative!" into the phone, it takes Tucker about a minute to realize an actual human being picked up the phone.Pizza Barn Employee: Hello, thank
Pizza Barn Employee: thank you
Pizza Barn Employee: thank you for holding
Tucker: Representative! Representative! Representative!
Pizza Barn Employee: Excuse me, sir!
Pizza Barn Employee: Sir!
Pizza Barn Employee: SIR! This is a real person. Youre not on hold.
- Worthy Opponent: After Nick escapes the Oklahoma State team with the footballs by going out of bounds, Manny explains their situation to Oklahoma State's coach, who is impressed by their tenacity. Accepting that she'll have to resign for her failure, she expresses her hope that Nick and Manny make it.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: After being put on hold by Pizza Barn for an hour, the literal moment Tanner manages to get through to an actual person (also named Tanner), he is put back on hold because Pizza Barn Tanner got bored.Tanner: Well he said his name was Tanner, and I told him that that was funny because Tanners my name too, and then he said I was boring so he put me on hold some more.
- You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Ten's exact reaction to learning there are 111 teams in the Bowl Game? "OH GOD DAMN IT."